29 Nov 2012

Christmas gift guide 2012: Beautiful tealight gift sets from bestkeptsecrets.co.uk

I'm a serious candle lover and I've got my boyfriend addicted too - sometimes I'll catch him burning my best candles when I'm not there!  I love to give candles as gifts and to receive them too, and I did a post about my favourite candle gift sets here.  In that gift guide I mentioned a set from a company called best kept Secrets - I ordered some of their candles to give as gifts, so you can get a sneaky close up look before these get wrapped.

These sets are from their 'super sevens' range.  You get seven different large tealights in each gift set and I chose three of the different themes available.  The candles are hand-made and burn for 10 hours each.

It's such a simple idea, but the added glitter and sparkly rock toppings make these candles look so different and special that I just couldn't resist them.  They're definitely the kind of candles I'd keep on display for a good while before burning them!  I'm terrible for saving things for 'best'.  

The gift sets of seven large tealights cost £14.99 each and you can buy them from bestkeptsecrets.co.uk 

Do you store up your pretty candles like me, or can you not wait to set them on fire?!

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28 Nov 2012

NOTD: ncLA rock solid and room service: stilettos and champagne nail wraps

Today's NOTD comes courtesy of a brand called ncLA and an online store called CutECOsmetics.  CutECOsmetics sell only eco friendly brands or as they like to call them, cosmetics with a conscience.  I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of brands I know and love for sale on the site such as Barry M, Urban Decay, Figs & Rouge and Korres, but it's also a great place to find some brilliant new brands (well new to me) such as ncLA.

*ncLA nail lacquer in rock solid | £12.50 | cutECOsmetics
*ncLA nail wraps in room service: stilettos and champagne | £12.50 | cutECOsmetics

ncLA stands for Nail Couture LA and the brand is all about luxury products inspired by the latest trends.  Their nail lacquers are 100% free of nasties like DBP, Toluene, Formaldehyde and Camphor.  The products are never tested on animals and the full range is suitable for Vegans.

I got to try out a polish and a set of nail wraps from ncLA in beautifully coordinated black, grey and silver colours.  

The nail polish is called 'rock solid' and it's a lovely deep grey creme shade scattered with fine silver glitter.  It's a lovely subtle and grown-up glitter polish that was easy to apply and completely opaque in two glossy coats.  

The nail wraps are rather fabulously called 'Room service: stilettos and champange' and they're an amazing lace effect print.  As you know, I like to think I'm the master of applying nail wraps (oh so modest), as there's definitely a knack to getting them right, but I found these really easy to use - possibly the easiest I've tried.  They're really well shaped so it was easy to fit the close to the edges of my nails and there's a little extra tab bit on the end of each wrap to give you something to grab rather than touching the sticky part you're going to adhere to your nail.  Plus, I was surprised at how many nails you could do with this kit - you get 22 nail wraps on a sheet and you get two sheets, so you could get up to four full sets of nails with this kit.  Some nail wraps I've bought before only give you enough for one whole set of nails, so I think these are good value for £12.50.

CutECOsmetics sell serveral varieties of ncLA nails wraps and polishes which you can check out here.  

Have you tried ncLA before?
*PR samples

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27 Nov 2012

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix and Stiletto Fix review

Nip + Fab is a brand that was new to me until a few weeks ago when I went along to an event to showcase some of their new Christmas ranges which are being sold in Sainsbury's.  Since then I've realised that I had heard of Nip + Fab's frown fix before as being a bit of a beauty must have for frown lines, but I'd not really been aware of which brand made it.  I'm going to be trying Frown Fix soon as I'm getting the Laser Fix in a box kit for Christmas which includes Frown Fix as well as two of Nip + Fab's other best selling anti-ageing products.  More about that after Christmas!

After the event I was sent a couple of products to try which are the Glycolic Fix and Stiletto Fix.

*Stiletto fix | £9.95 | Nip + Fab 

*Glycolic fix | £12.95 | Nip + Fab

Stiletto Fix is a foot balm designed to soothe and cushion tired feet.  It contains something called allantoin to do the soothing and protecting and it smells lovely and minty - perfect for refreshing hot, fat, shopping feet!

Glycolic Fix is an exfoliating glycolic treatment which comes in ready to use pad form.  I've talked about glycolic acid products before - they're something I really like to use at night to regenerate my skin and improve the texture.  It's really handy that these come in a tub of pre-soaked pads so there's no messing about when I want to quickly complete my night-time routine and fall into bed.  There's no stinging with these either, which I've sometimes found with other glycolic products.  

If you're not overly familiar with Nip + Fab either, you might start to notice them more now that they're selling gift sets in Sainsbury's this Christmas.  They have a body butter trio gift set and I can confirm that the mango smoothie butter smells amazing.  I'll be keeping my eye out for it while I'm doing the weekly shop!

Have you tried anything from Nip + Fab?
*PR samples
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Origins Christmas exclusives at Selfridges London

I only started to get to know Origins skincare this year but I'm already a big fan - I've got one of their gift sets on my Christmas list, but now I've seen something else I want too.  How amazing is this Origins bauble?  Even more amazing is that it's only £6!  Possibly the most amazing stocking filler I've seen this year.

The baubles are exclusive to Selfridges in London, so I'm going to make a beeline for the store to pick one up next time I'm in town.  They include minis of some of Origins' best selling products, plus for every bauble sold they'll plant a tree as well as enter you into a competition to win £1,000 of Origins goodies.  What more do you want for £6?!  You still want more?  Okay you can get a set of two for £10!  Can you tell how excited I am for these? :)

Also exclusive to the London store is a set of 6 Origins Christmas crackers in festive green and red.  These are £45 and contain Origins Plantscription and Ginger rush body cream.  While you're in store picking up your Origins goodies they'll also gift wrap them for you, and you'll get a free shopping bag with a Selfridges London design on it if you spend over £75.

Race you to Selfridges for the baubles!  

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26 Nov 2012

Christmas 2012 gift guide - My favourite skin care gifts

I can hardly believe it's less than a month until Christmas!  I've been madly trying to get all of my Christmas shopping finished this weekend.  I got a lot done but I failed at finishing - the shops were just so busy and parking anywhere was a nightmare, so it seriously slowed me down.  I'm now aiming to finishing my shopping online from the safety of my living room!

If you need a bit more inspiration for your shopping list, you might like today's gift guide, which is a round up of my favourite skin care gifts that I've spotted this year.

My other 2012 Christmas gift guide posts can be found here.

Nip + Fab, REN and Origins are all skincare brands I've discovered and started to love this year, so I had to include some of their gift sets in this guide.  I have a gift voucher burning a hole in my pocket and I think it's going to be spent on one of these.  Liz Earle cleanse and polish is one of my all time best beauty discoveries, so I think giving this set to any friend or relative that's never tried Liz Earle is one of the nicest things I could do this Christmas.  Philosophy miracle worker is something my Mum would love - she's never offended by receiving anti-ageing skincare as a gift, she can't get enough of it!

I've only recently discovered Rodial - I tried a sample sachet of their snake serum and I was pretty impressed.  I'm intrigued by the liquid facelift in a box, although slightly deterred by the price, but I guess you have to splash out if you want serious results.  I'd be delighted to open this up at Christmas.  LP Skin Therapy (by Dr Linda Papadopoulos) is a brand I've been meaning to try for a while and this lips and eyes set looks like the perfect introduction.  I'm a big fan of Benefit's porefessional, so I thought this gift set looked pretty good and it's such a bargain.  Estée Lauder's Advanced Night repair is one of the best products I've tried this year, so this gift set including that and some other super hydrating Estée Lauder products looks fab.  And finally, I've included L'Occitane's Immortelle range - you get a whole lot of product for £60 and it's a massive saving compared to buying the products individually.

If you're thinking about rewarding yourself for completing all of that Christmas shopping you might want to give your hair a treat with the kerastase elixir ultime from Terence Paul or you could try the Moroccan oil for sale at Urbanretreat.

Are you asking for any skincare gift sets this Christmas?

My other 2012 Christmas gift guide posts can be found here.

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25 Nov 2012

Lush fun - not so much fun for me :(

I love Lush products and buy them all the time, so it's unusual for me to find one disappointing.  I was very excited to buy Lush's new playdough style bath product - fun - but I hadn't got around to using it yet as I was trying to use up some other bath products first.  Sadly my bar of fun got fed up of waiting for me to use it and died a rather miserable and gooey death.

UPDATE: thanks to everyone who took an interest in this post and to all of you who suggested I should contact Lush.  They emailed me back quickly and confirmed I must have got a product from a bad batch as this should not happen to Fun.  They also happily offered to send me a replacement product, so it's all good :)

It's like all the fun ran out and just left a deflated and sad pink slime behind!

Excuse the Primark bag in the background - I didn't want to get pink slime all over my usual blogging surfaces.

The gooey fun managed to unravel the edges of the packaging and oozed out the sides

My bar of fun was made on 1 October - I bought it on 13 October and by 22 November (or perhaps before?) it looked like this.  I'm not sure when my bar of fun started to go all funny and oozy, but I noticed it this week as I spotted a pink stain on my carpet and investigated until I realised it was this.  The label says it should be used by 1 December next year, but it also says 'best used fresh' so a rather confusing message.

I had to open it up and show you the full goriness!

So I'm not really sure what to make of this.  Is it my fault for not using it right away, or did I perhaps get one from a bad batch?  I am disappointed because I was looking forward to using it, and it's been a waste of £5.

In any case, I thought I'd do this post to let you know what can happen if you leave your fun unattended and unloved for too long.  I can imagine some people might have bought one of these and put it away for Christmas, so if you have, please go and check on it or you might find someone unwrapping a big slimey mess, or worse it might be oozing all over your other Christmas shopping.  

Has anyone else had this experience with Lush Fun?

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24 Nov 2012

NOTD with Nails Inc Chester Street and Sloane Square

A few days ago I blogged about Nails Inc's collections for next year (here).  I also go to try out some new polishes from their current ranges, and the first two I've worn are Chester Street and Sloane Square.

*Chester Street | £11 | Nails Inc
*Sloane Square | £11 | Nails Inc

Chester Street is a shimmery pearly polish, and I think of it as the more glitzy cousin of Porchester Square, which is one of my favourite nude polishes.  Funnily enough, looking on the Nails Inc site they've said that this one is good for lovers of Porchester Square too.

Sloane square is a lovely intricate glitter polish with lots going on when you look up close.  The base is a deep grey colour with very fine silver glitter and then larger bits of multi-coloured glitter.

I'm loving this combination - as much as I love my bright colours and crazy glitters, I think this is a very sophisticated way to wear some shimmer and sparkle because of the more muted tones.

What do you think of this combination?
*PR samples
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23 Nov 2012

Christmas gift guide 2012 - L'Occitane marvelous flowers and magical leaves collections

Ah L'Occitane, a brand that never fails to disappoint me with delicious new fragrances and stunning packaging.  Gift boxed, these products make beautiful gifts for Christmas.  I've been lucky enough to get to try some of both the marvellous flowers and magical leaves collections which are new for this year.

Marvellous Flowers | L'Occitane

*Intense EDT roll on | £14.50

*Body cream (250ml) | £27 | *Shower gel (250ml) | £13

*Fragranced soap | £3.50 | *Hand cream (30ml) | £8 | *Intense EDT roll on | £14.50

*Marvellous flowers EDT (75ml) | £35

*Hand cream (30ml) | £8

I'm a sucker for pink, so the Marvellous flowers was a hit with me from the off.  It's not overly girlie though - I like the hot pink and gold mix and the sparkly star design make it Christmassy.  All of the products in this range just look so luxurious, making them perfect to treat someone.  

The marvellous flowers fragrance is really lovely.  To me I can smell fresh florals and a sort of citrus all at the same time and it's a very 'me' scent.  It's actually a combination of sparkling red fruit notes mixed with softer peony and rose.  I wouldn't have guessed this was rose at all, so that's not the overpowering note in this fragrance.  I love L'Occitane's Pivoine Delicate, which I posted about here, so I can see why I also like the smell of the Marvellous Flowers products as they also feature peony in the scent.  

The mini edt roll on and hand cream are going straight into my handbag for glamorous on the go touching up. 

I was also sent an amazing shimmering body oil, but unfortunately it was broken in the post, so I don't have a picture for you (you can see what it looks like here).  I can assure you though that it's super sparkly, as all of the other products looked like they'd been sprinkled with fairy dust!

Magical leaves  | L'Occitane 

*Fragranced soap | £3.50 | *Hand cream (30ml) | £8

*Exfoliating shower gel (200ml) £14 | *Body milk (250ml) £18.50 

The magical leaves collection has a totally different feel from marvellous flowers, so may be more suitable to gift to someone who likes slightly more subtle packaging (no hot pink!) but still appreciates products that are presented beautifully.  The fragrances of this range is completely different too - it's verbana, hazlenut and vanilla.  I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but I really like it too.  I've never whiffed a fragrance I didn't like from L'Occitane.  I'm going to share some of the magical leaves products with my Mum as her favourite colour is green and she's love L'Occitane hand creams.

And just look how lovely the gift boxes are - ready to go under the tree!
Will you be buying a L'Occitane gift for someone this year?
*PR samples
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22 Nov 2012

Sisley fashion

Sisley is not a brand I'd really looked into much before I was asked to do this post, but having a look at their current collection, they have some really nice dresses and lots of things that I'd consider to be my sort of style.

Here are a few of the *stylish pieces by Sisley I picked out to share.  It's not something that would suit my shape unfortunately, but the red bow dress in the middle is such a stunner!

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Nails Inc new spring / summer 2013 collections - textures and embellishments

You all know how much of a fan I am of Nails Inc, so I'm not going to lie about how excited I was to go along and see their new ranges for next year.  I was so impressed - it wasn't just about new shades for the season - all of the polishes had something special and completely different about them.  The focus of the ranges was on different textures and embellishments, and there were some really exciting and creative new ideas on show.

The feather effect polishes are just beautiful and I love the concept - they're made up of loads and loads strands of multi-coloured glitter.  I can't wait to get my hands on them when they're released in March, which luckily for me is my birthday month!  These will be £11 each.

I was surprised to see Nails Inc's first ever collection of press on nails.  They're pretty spectacular as they all have nail art pre-applied and they use real swaovski and are called crystaltastic.  These will be £20 each and they also come out in March.  I love the beige nails with the intricate white snowflake type pattern.

I wasn't so sure about the leather effect polishes until I saw that they come in a pack with some amazing embellishments.  I'm not usually a fan of skulls, but I make an exception for gold and silver sparkly skulls.  These skulls are re-useable too.  These kits will be £25 each, or you can buy the polishes individually for £12 each.  These will also be out in March.

You might recognise these bling it on sets as I blogged about the bling it on rocks set here.  The bling it on neon is the same concept (a base colour polish, lots of sparkly loose glitter to cover it in, and a top coat)  but in some amazingly bright and sparkly colours for summer.  This will be out in May and it costs £20.

Bling it on feathers is the same concept again, but instead of fine round glitter, it's long strands similar to the feather effect polishes I mentioned earlier.  I really like the beige sparkly glitter that comes in this kit - it feels like such a classy take on glitter.  These will also be £20.

These concrete effect polishes dry to a heavily textured effect, like concrete.  They also remind me of a painted wall, unless you have super smooth walls of course!  These are out in December for £12 each.  I got to take home the nude colour (London Wall) to try out, so I'll swatch that soon. 

This denim effect polish took me by surprise - in the bottle it looks like a shimmery blue metalic polish, but after applying two coats and waiting 30 seconds, it turns to a realistic looking denim finish.  I'm really not sure how they do that - Nails Inc magic!  This polish will come in a set with silver star embellishments for £19, and it'll be out in June.

These mini polish kits give you a feel for the new shades to expect for Spring and Summer from Nails Inc.  I think the mint green (Royal Botanical Gardens) and the peachy salmon pink (Kensington Palace Gardens) are my favourites.  This kit will be available from March and it's £22.

Despite all of the very exciting new polishes on display, the thing I'm most desperate to try is this new top coat!  It's a gel effect top coat that's supposed to plump up your polish and give that perfect look you would usually only get from gel nails done at a salon.  I've been dreaming of a product like this and I really hope it lives up to my expectations.  Luckily I only need to wait until January for this one to come out.  It'll be £12 and there's also a new Kensington Caviar base coat coming out too, which is called flawless and is an ultra fast drying and smoothing base.  

Which of these new collections are you most excited for?

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21 Nov 2012

Battling winter cold sores with Cymex

Is it just me or does everyone suffer more with cold sores in the winter?  Up until a few years ago I'd been lucky enough not to get any cold sores and then once I got my first one they kept coming back every winter. I think they're sometimes connected to stress too and I often get one in the run up to Christmas when I'm busy at work as well as running around the shops trying to get everything done.

This year I'm well prepared as I've been sent two cold sore creams from Cymex to try out.  Come at me cold sores, I'm ready!

*Cymex cream for cold sores | £2.79 | Boots
*Cymex ultra 5% cream | £2.99 | Co-operative pharmacy

When I received these I was just at the tail end of a cold sore that was taking its time to budge, so I tried the cream in the yellow packaging until the cold sore was gone.  It helped heal my dry cracked lips that I always get when I have a cold sore too.  

If I'm unlucky enough to get another cold sore this side of Christmas I'll be keen to see how the Ultra 5% cream does at tackling the problem and whether it can clear up the cold sore in 5 days.  I usually miss trying the creams at the 'tingle' stage because I don't get to the chemist in time so it'll be great to have this on hand to try to reduce the amount of time I have to have unhappy scabby lips!

Do you suffer with cold sores too?  Do you have any tips for battling them?
*PR samples

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20 Nov 2012

Christmas 2012 gift guide - Beauty Christmas crackers and advent calendars

I was originally going to do a post about the Selfridges and Lancome beauty advent calendars, but they came out so early and sold out so fast that it was too late!  But you don't have to worry if you missed those, because lots of other wonderful Christmas treats are now hitting the shelves.  These are my favourites.

24 Days of Christmas with Liz Earle | £100 | Liz Earle

What an amazing treat for a Liz Earle fan?  I know my Mum would love this, but it could also be great for someone new to the brand as you get to try so many of the different product ranges Liz offers in mini sizes.  It contains all of the cult classics like cleanse & polish and super balm as well as newer products you might not have tried such as the botanical shampoo and conditioner.

Lancome Christmas crackers | £50 | Selfridges

If you missed out on their advent calendar, you might prefer Lancome's Christmas crackers.  Imagine the excitement of having these around the table on Christmas day!  Each one contains a generous sized mini Lancome product including a juicy tube, hypnose mascara and a lipstick.

Ciaté mini mani month advent calendar | £38 | Ciaté

This is such a brilliant idea isn't it?  I wonder how many nail polish brands will be bringing out an advent calendar next year?  I spent a long time trying to figure out whether I wanted to buy this or not.  The conclusion I came to was that I did want it, but I really didn't need it as I have more nail polishes than I know what to do with already.  It sold out on Selfridges but it is also being sold direct on Ciaté's own site although currently it's saying you can join the waiting list!

Kiehl's beauty Christmas crackers | £35 | Selfridges

These are so gorgeous I think they give the Lancome candles a run for their money - and they're cheaper too.  I love the packaging of these almost as much as the exciting contents which includes some of Kiehl's best selling skincare and haircare in 15ml and 30ml sizes.

Are you picking up any of these, or have you bought a different beauty advent calender or crackers that I need to know about?  

My other 2012 Christmas gift guide posts can be found here.

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