31 Jan 2013

Finishing Touches nail art supplies from Superdrug

You know I love a bit of nail art so I was more than happy to try out some of the 'finishing touches' range from Superdrug.  Nail art is so much more popular now - I remember when you used to have to order online if you wanted anything more exciting than a nail polish, and now look at all the sparkly goodness at our eager fingertips.

I had a play around with a few different designs to see what these products had to offer.  On my little finger I'm wearing three of the stick on stars in a row.  These are super easy to use - possibly one of the simplest things in the kit.  I just stuck these on top of wet polish and added topcoat.  On my ring finger I have my favourite design - I traced the half moon using crystals from the large nail art kit.  These are more tricky to apply as they're very tiny but with patience and an orange stick I managed to get them in place.  I used the glue that came with the kit to keep these in place, but you could also use clear polish.  

Onto my middle finger I used another part of the large nail art kit - holographic hearts.  These are nice and flat so easy to place onto wet nail polish, but a little fiddly to pick up, so more orange stick action here.  I was doing both hands so I stuck to something simple as I always mess up when I do the other hand if you see what I mean.  I just traced the tip of the nail with the pen and then thickened the line.  This nail art pen works differently from most others I've tried and I'd say it's more of a true pen.  It has a proper nib and you need to push it down on paper to get it flowing.  The 'ink' comes out fairly slowly and only as you apply pressure, so it really is good for drawing on top of a dried coat of polish.  A lot of other nail art pens are a really runny consistency and I tend to find you can't get a precise line or dots and I end up making a lot of blobs so I found this Superdrug one ten times better.  

On the index finger I dabbled with the pen again to draw a line across the nail and then added on of the stars for a shooting star effect.  I quite like this and would probably do this again on its own either on all of my nails or a few as an accent.  

For my thumb I intended to do a glitter stripe using the glitter from the large nail art kit, but I hadn't waited long enough for my base colour to dry, so I ended up with a full glitter nail instead.  I didn't mind though, as I quite liked the effect of the super glittery almost foil like polish all over the nail with a little of my purple polish peeping through.  

I haven't tried the nail wraps yet, but I'm sure they'll be just as good as all the other bits I got to play with.  I really like nail wraps and find then really quite easy to use.  If I'm honest I didn't try these because I wanted to save them for a special occasion of some sort rather than wearing them with nowhere to go as I really love the silver star design on them.  I like to wear nail wraps that give me a design I couldn't manage on my own - I had spending time carefully applying nail wraps for someone to say 'oh I like your nail polish' - aaargh.  

The Superdrug Finishing Touches range includes lots of different nail art products in various colours and designs and everything is under £7.

Have you tried anything from this range?

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30 Jan 2013

Healthy eating update #2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote this post about my attempts to eat healthier meals after all of the Christmas indulgences.  I've now been eating better and following my own made up rules (rather than any particular diet) for the past three weeks and I've now lost half a stone!  The last post seemed to get a great response so I thought I'd continue to share what I've been doing.

Although I still don't want to follow any official diet as they never really work for me, I do want to try to ramp up the healthy aspects a notch or two.  I've been considering taking some vitamin and mineral supplements - I used to take vitamin C and echinachea to boost my immune system and keep germs away, so I'm thinking about taking those again and seeing what else I might be deficient in.  I've been making lovely smoothies for breakfast as you'll see below and have been reading up on things I could add to them to make them healthier and even better for me.  I've heard wheatgrass is good to add to juices or smoothies and can aid weight-loss so I thought I might give that a go, not sure how it would impact the taste though.  Another option is taking a probiotic a day to help with digestion and absorbing nutrients, which seems like a simple change I could make.   If you have any tips for me or suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Strawberry, banana and greek yogurt smoothie (just whizz with ice)

Chicken breast sliced into two wrapped in one bacon rasher per half and sprinkled with cheese (less than it looks like!) | roasted mini peppers | green beans

Pub lunch | chicken ceasar salad

Peanut butter banana smoothie | almond milk blended with bananas, peanut butter, ice and honey

Spaghetti bolognaise | lots of onions, mushrooms, carrots and tomatoes in the sauce and a small portion of spaghetti

Stuffed courgette - light Philadelphia with herbs, mozarella and sliced tomatoes | baked sweet potato chunks

Lemon sole in low fat cheese sauce | cabbage, leeks and peas

Steak | green beans | sweet potato 

Eating out at Prezzo - half size chilli prawn linguine with side salad

Grilled burgers | lots of salad | cheeeeese

Baked salmon with lemon | roasted vine tomatoes | steamed broccoli

Red onion and mushroom risotto | asparagus 

Eating out at Zizi - steak and mushroom salad 

As you can see I've been experimenting with smoothies so I've been either having those or fruit for breakfast.  Lunches are still either soup, and innocent veg pot or a Tesco fresh pasta pot - these are all around 350 calories.  I've managed some eating out and haven't repeated too many of the same foods, although I have eaten practically the same salmon dish three times in three weeks, but only because it's my favourite right now.  I've really limited bread, but not cut it out completely or it's all I'll think about!  

I'm really pleased to have lost 7lbs so far as it doesn't really feel like I'm on a diet, just eating healthily, which I should to anyway.  

I hope you liked seeing what I've been eating and please leave me any good healthy eating tips - ideas for other smoothies to try would be great!

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29 Jan 2013

Oragnic Surge Million Dollar anywhere balm review

*Million Dollar anywhere balm | £11.25  | Organic Surge

This is the first and only product I've tried from Organic Surge but I'm going to make a wild assumption and say it's the best in their range.  This little jar has been happily accompanying me on snowy and chilly adventures over the past two weeks, on hand for any skin situation.  

Dry hands?  This'll fix it.  Ragged cuticles?  Yep.  Forgot your lip balm?  No worries.  Redness / potential spot?  Whack it on.  I've been using this balm for all of these reasons as it's just so versatile - on Thusday evening I thought I was getting a spot as I had a sensetive feeling on my chin and some redness.  I can't be sure if it was a spot coming along or what it was, but I applied a little of this balm and forgot about it, and the redness went away.  

My favourite thing about this balm is the smell.  It smells deliciously lemony and everyone who's witnessed me using this has grabbed the jar for a closer sniff and a little steal of the balm to moisturise their hands.  

This is a solid sort of balm, so no worries about the lid loosening and the product spilling.  You can warm the balm with your finger to pick some up or you can scoop a little out and warm it in your hands before applying it wherever it's needed.  I love a good multitasker.  

Have you tried any Organic Surge products?  
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Love chases

I have a little video for you today to get you pondering - have a watch and if you have any ideas (or wild guesses!) what this might be about, leave me a comment.

All will be revealed soon! 

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28 Jan 2013

January Glossy Box

I'm a little late posting about this month's glossy box, so sorry if you've already seen it several times elsewhere.  Although, it did seem to be that the difference between boxes was much wider this month - none of the other reviews I've seen have the exact same contents as my box.

January's theme is aptly detox so the box includes products to rejuvenate us for the new year.

In my box I was really pleased to see a 50ml of Vichy's Normaderm tri-activ cleanser.  I'm new to the Vichy range and have just recently been trying out a Vichy micellar water solution, from the same range and I really like it, so it'll be great to try this too - a brilliant addition to the box. Next is the Mono Renu flash relax mask. I've not heard of this before but am quite intrigued by it as it's a gel mask which is a little bit different.  I also got a lip balm by a brand that's new to me called Jason - this looks to be a really natural lip balm and the minty smell is lovely so I'm sure to use this up.  

I've tried something from the Premae range before and have been lucky enough to meet the brand's founder, so it's lovely to see something from her range in my glossybox and makes me think the brand must be becoming even more successful.  The product I got to try is a face toner which seems to be exactly right for my skin type - not sure if that was just a coincidence or not, but I shall definitely be trying this out.  The last product on the right is a thermal face mask from Sanctuary Spa.  I love a good face mask and I quite enjoy using the ones that heat up - I've not tried one of these in a long while so I'm looking forward to relaxing in the bath with this on my face.  

Glossybox continued their trend for included a little extra own brand product this month with the glossybox eye mask.  I don't dislike it, I think it's cute, but it's not really something I'll use.  

Did you get the same in your glossybox?
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27 Jan 2013

Bumble and bumble thickening shampoo and conditioner and surf spray review

As I've mentioned before, I'm always on a search for the perfect shampoo to keep my roots grease-free and my ends nourished. I have to wash my hair every day and dream of finding a shampoo that can get me an extra day without washing.  Now that I have a fringe, I've decided to quit the search - the fringe would need washing and re-styling every day no matter what shampoo I use, so I decided to shift my focus onto some of my hair's other needs.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned before that one of my favourite shampoos is the Bumble and bumble Sunday shampoo.  It's a once a week clarifying treatment shampoo and it leaves my hair feeling squeaky clean, fresh and light.  I'd use it every day if I could, but it's only intended to be used once a week.  Also I had to stop using it when I decided to put a bit of colour on my hair as the clarifying nature of the shampoo means it would strip the colour.  So, having loved that shampoo, I thought I'd see what else Bumble and bumble had to offer me.

If you live near a large Boots you may have seen that they now have Bumble and bumble counters and there's always an expert on hand to give advice.  I have straight hair that's fine and can be a bit lank and lifeless and it doesn't really hold a curl, so I asked what would be best for me.  I came away with the thickening shampoo and matching thickening conditioner, plus a bit of an adventurous product (for me anyway) - the Bumble and bumble surf spray.

I was also given two generous sample size products, which you get when you buy three full sized products.  I got the thickening hairspray and straight blow dry cream.  They're such good sizes too rather than little sample sachets - they're only a little bit smaller than the Bumble and bumble minis they sell in Boots.  

I've been trying the shampoo and conditioner for a week now and it seems to be making more of a difference to my hair the more I use it.  The shampoo lathers up nice and easily and the conditioner is quite a thick consistency which makes it easy to work with - if I use a really liquid conditioner I always lose so much of it down the plug hole.  I'm only using the conditioner on my mid-lengths and ends but it hasn't weighed my hair down like I'd feared it might, and my hair is easy to de-tangle too.  This range has got a fresh unisex smell, so it's suitable for anyone, although I definitely won't be letting my boyfriend pinch any of this.  

Yesterday I decided to be brave and try the surf spray for the first time.  The advice I was given was to rough dry my hair using the salt spray and then to use heated rollers and the thickening hair spray.  I only use a few rollers with large sections as I was looking for texture rather than lots of curls and I was quite impressed with how it turned out.  My hair has the un-done slightly messed up sort of look that I can never usually achieve and I really like it.  I think it works because the surf spray adds a a kind of grit to the hair to give it texture and hold, something which my hair never really achieves on its own because I wash it every day.  

What do you think of my efforts to create a messy undone style?  Do you use Bumble and bumble?

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Inspired by the day of love

I know Valentine's day is all a bit gimmicky and commercial these days, but I really like all of the heart print and heart themed things that are appearing in the shops.  Valentine's or not, I just think they're pretty.

I'm not an anti-valentines person - my boyfriend and I do celebrate the day, but we don't make a massive deal out of it.  I think some men can feel an awful lot of pressure is on them to make some sort of wild romantic gesture on Valentine's day, and there's a real fear of messing it up.  I know my boyfriend can feel a bit like that.  He worries about choosing something I won't like, or not having made enough effort, or giving me flowers that I'll say were outrageously over-priced and a waste of money!  

I know I'm a fussy little thing and make it hard for my boyfriend, and we've been together 10 years.  I can't imagine the stress men in a new relationship might have!  Worrying if flowers and chocolates are too cliche, considering something extravagant like a designer handbag or maybe an iphone 5 from www.phones4u.co.uk/, or even stepping it up to the next level with jewelry gifts for Valentines Day.  Back when I used to work in a chemist there'd always be a late rush on Valentine's day with men dashing in to grab a bottle of perfume as a last ditch attempt to get it right!  Leaving it to the last minute is pretty typical but hey, that's what Parcelforce is there for right? Next day delivery solves everything and can make it seem like he planned the perfect present way in advance!  They've saved me many times - I might even know the delivery guy by name... hi Paul! 

I'm planning to do a post on some Valentine's gift ideas or romantic things to do for all sorts of budgets - not only because I think it might give a few guys out there a helping hand, but mainly because I hope my own boyfriend might read it...

Are you looking forward to Valentine's day or is it something you avoid?

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26 Jan 2013

Ted Baker beauty accessories review

I love all of the fresh and pretty Spring ranges popping up at the moment.  I'm a huge fan of winter (unpopular choice I know!) but I also love the transition to Spring.  It's like I forget about all things floral and brightly coloured and then when they pop up again it's all shiny, new and exciting.  This new range of beauty accessories from Ted Baker fits does just that - opening a plain brown box to find this bright green and elegant floral packing popping out at me was just what I needed to perk me up and get me looking forward to the new season.

*File - emery boards | £5

I'm a sucker for pretty girly patterns, so my instant favourite has to be the nail files.  I'm not sure if I've ever seen nail files to beautifully presented before!  I know it'll be a while before I'll bring myself to actually use these as I'll want to keep them pristine and together with the pattern lined up - a little OCD I know.  These are the sort of thing I'll be adding as a little extra to my friends' birthday presents this year because they're so cute and girly.  

*Snip - nail scissors | £6

As for the more serious tools in the range, I'm surprised by the prices.  Generally tweezers and eyelash curlers in particularly aren't cheap to buy, so considering these are Ted Baker and beautifully packaged, I think the prices are a bit of a steal.   

I nail scissors just say 'snip' on the box - nice and to the point!  I don't usually use nail scissors - I nip little straggly cuticles with my teeth, which is terrible I know, so now I have a proper tool for the job instead!  They've got a really good sharp point to them too, so they can double up as a bit of a nail poking tool (technical term) too for when I'm trying to perfect a manicure.  

*Curl - eyelash curlers | £8

I have a bit of a confession.  The eyelash curlers I've been using were £1 from Primark.  I know, I know.  I don't even have any excuses.  All I can say is that these are 100 times better!  I'm not comparing them to much I know, but I'm not much of a lash curler connoisseur.  I just didn't used to bother curling my eye lashes, oh how times change!     

These lash curlers are really simple to use.  They're nice and slim so it's easy to get them really close to the root of the lash.  I'm an eyelash curling noob as I've explained, so I'm not too sure if my technique is the norm or not, but I usually give the lashes a good squeeze and then angle the lash curler further back towards me and then give it a good wiggle - that always seems to give a serious upward curl to my lashes in just a couple of seconds.  Now and again I also try an old fashioned tip my mum taught me of heating the pad of the lash curlers slightly with the hair dryer, this can also help your lashes to curl more easily and to stay curly for longer.  

The new beauty accessories range also includes nail clippers and tweezers which are both just £6 each.  They'll all be available in Boots stores and at Boots.com very soon.

I was also lucky enough to be sent another set of the lovely sweet shop style nail duos.  

*Golden girl nail duo | £8.50 | Boots

I previously swatched cherry bomb here and now I have golden girl to play with, which as the names suggests are gold shades.  The gold glitter looks perfect - I shall definitely pop these into a nail of the day / week type post as soon as I've used them.  

I bought these duos for a few of the girls in my office at Christmas time and they went down rather well.  I'm pleased to see these are not just a Christmas product as they're a cute gift for any time of year and they'll probably be a go-to for me again next time I need a little gift for someone.  

What do you think of this new range from Ted Baker?  
Am I the only person who hasn't been curling their lashes since forever?!
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25 Jan 2013

Illamasqua I'mperfection collection nail polish swatches - scarce, speckle, mottle, fragile and freckle

Last night I went along to see the new I'mperfection collection from Illamasqua.  There was such a lot to see so I'm going to break this into two posts, and naturally I decided to talk nail polish first!

These nail polishes were inspired by the natural speckle of a bird's egg and come in some beautifully soft pastel colours for Spring.  I'll explain a lot more about the thoughts behind I'mperfection when I post about the rest of the collection - this post is really just to show you my swatches of these pretty pretty colours.

The closest thing I've seen to the speckle effect is the Nails Inc sprinkles polishes.  I think the speckle polishes work in a similar way, but the finished effect is very different.  These have an creamy opaque pastel base colour with two different sizes of a matt grey glitter running through them to give the speckly effect.

I really like these and love all five shades, especially when worn together - my nails look like tasty Cadbury's mini eggs.  I can't choose a favourite - the pink (scarce), lilac (speckle) and nude (freckle) are my top three!

The Illamasqua I'mperfection polishes will be available from 31 January and cost £14.50 each.  

Do you like the speckle polish effect?

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Liz Earle healthy glow powder blush and blush brush review

*Healthy glow powder blush | £16.50 | Liz Earle

*Blush brush | £15 | Liz Earle

Makeup is not really what I expected next from Liz Earle.  I know it's been out for quite a while now, but to me the Liz Earle brand will always be about amazing skin care like cleanse and polish, so I think I was worried that I'd be disappointed by the makeup!  

I was sent one of the blushes and a matching brush to try out and was relieved to see they are the same high quality that I've come to expect from Liz Earle.  The blush is very pigmented and will surely last me a very long time as a little goes a very long way with a high colour pay off.  I was sent the perfect shade for my skin tone - a lovely warm peachy pink.  I meant to take a photo of me wearing the blush, but there's just not enough natural light around at the moment for it to show up properly on camera.  I heard another blogger say that these blushes had a bit of an off putting smell to them - maybe they've changed the formula since then, but I can't smell anything at all (and I had a good sniff to make sure!).

If I was going to spend £15+ on a single brush it would usually only be one from MAC, so I do think the price is set a little bit high on these, but the brush does feel very well made and exceptionally soft.  It has very densely packed bristles and is nicely angled and just about the right size for and optimum sweep of flush to the cheeks.  

Have you tried anything from the Liz Earle makeup range?  What would you recommend?
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24 Jan 2013

L'Occitane shea butter honey hand and body cream review

L'Occitane have just launched a limited edition shea butter and honey collection.  It's a lovely sweet smelling combination and the packaging is the cutest with little bear and honey bee drawings!  There are four productions in the collection and I got to try out the whipped body cream and hand cream.

*Shea butter honey whipped body cream | £16 | L'Occitane

*Shea butter honey hand cream | £8 | L'Occitane

It's been so freezing cold lately, so the perfect time for me to be trying out some super nourishing hand and body creams.  I always like to keep one of the L'Occitane hand creams in my bag - they're the perfect size for keeping my hands hydrated when I'm out and about - and this one has had some heavy use this past snowy week!  The whipped body cream is deliciously thick and rich and is great for slathering on after a shower or to cheer up tired and dry winter feet to leave them smelling sweet.

The limited edition shea butter and honey collection also includes a foaming shower gel and a balm - you check out the whole range here.  

Have you been loading up on the hand and body cream in these super chilly times?

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23 Jan 2013

Neom Real Luxury organic body scrub review

*Real Luxury lavender jasmine & Brazillian rosewood body scrub | £32  | Neom

Neom are probably best known for their gorgeous candles but they also have a huge range of bath and body products.  I've tried some of their bath oils before and love how deeply scented they are.

When I first opened up this scrub I was hit by the beautiful scent.  I could really pick out the lavender and jasmine.  The scrub smells just as strong as the bath oil I've tried in the same fragrance.  I always like to use my scrubs in the shower and this one really fills the shower up with the scent.

I was surprised at how liquid the scrub is too.  Some scrubs I have are really very dry compared to this one, which certainly doesn't skimp on the oils.  This makes the scrub super moisturising and my shower starts to feel a lot more like a luxury treatment as well as a two for one, as it both scrubs and hydrates.  

This is a pricey scrub but I can certainly feel the quality when I'm using it.  It has a proper grainy texture for doing its job but without being at all scratchy like some cheaper scrubs can sometimes be.  My favourite thing about this has to be the fragrance - it lingers on my skin for a good while after the shower and it smells so good I might even have been caught having a little whiff of my arm now and again :) 

Have you tried any Neom bath and body products?
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