Saturday, 22 October 2016

Review | Dusty Girls Eyeshadow*

Dusty Girls isn't a brand I've heard a lot about in the blog-o-sphere, but they're an Australian make-up company, an off-shoot of MooGoo Skincare, with a focus on using natural clays and minerals to produce "healthy" make-up. Now, I'm always very dubious about "natural" claims when it comes to cosmetic products and I can't abide by the term "chemical-free" (YOU ARE MADE OF CHEMICALS. WATER IS A CHEMICAL. NOTHING IS CHEMICAL-FREE.) but I can get on board with being mindful about what we put in and on our bodies - particularly coming from a brand whose number one beauty tip is to smile!
I was very kindly sent one of their Eyeshadows to try out, and I went for the shade 'Going Buff'*, which is described online as follows: "This velvety smooth shade is cream in colour and pressed with a blend of soft pink and subtle golden pigments that will lift and enhance the appearance of your eyes and natural beauty." I'm always a bit unsure about mineral make-up that comes as a loose powder (I'm messy enough, trust me!) so I was pleased to see that this comes in a pressed format. The packaging is simple but pretty, and it does the job - it feels sturdy, and the clear plastic lid allows you to see the shade at a glance.
I'd say the product I received matches the description pretty well! The eyeshadow has a lovely buttery-smooth texture which applies evenly on the skin, though there is a little bit of fall-out. 'Going Buff' is the perfect shade to highlight the eyes, as it really does have a beautiful pinky-gold glow when it catches the light, which doesn't show at all well in the swatches below - sad times! I've been using it daily on my browbone and it's equally pretty as an inner-corner highlight. I wouldn't use this as a lid shade as I like something a bit more dramatic from my eyeshadow, but that's not what I chose the shade for -it's a really gorgeous highlight shade and it's just perfect for that!
You can kind of see it on my browbone there, right under the arch of my brow, right!? It's subtle but super-pretty. Dusty Girls eyeshadows are available in four shades in total, priced at £9.50 each for 2g of product, which I do think is quite expensive, especially considering that postage within the UK is another £5 on top of that - although you can get 15% off your order when you sign up for their newsletter. So whilst I do think this is a lovely eyeshadow and I like the ethos of the brand, I have to admit the price would put me off ordering from them in the future. There are a few UK stockists, however, so I would consider purchasing in store. What are your thoughts on "natural" cosmetics? Have you heard of Dusty Girls before?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Thursday, 20 October 2016

High Beam vs. George Highlight & Define

I received a sample-sized bottle of Benefit's High Beam in a Birchbox (I think!) around two years ago now and, despite hoping that I wouldn't be keen because expense, I fell head over heels for it. It's the perfect easy highlight to dab on and blend, brightening up my complexion within seconds, without looking glittery or over-the-top. My tiny bottle is, as you can see, all but empty, and I've been mournfully considering whether I can justify parting with £19.50 of my hard-earned cash to replace it... And then I discovered George at Asda's Highlight & Define, and decided it was worth the £3.50 to see if it came close to High Beam.
The packaging is probably the biggest difference between the two products; the full-sized version of High Beam comes in a little 10ml glass bottle, much like a nail polish bottle, with a screw-cap containing a little brush for easy application, whilst George's Highlight & Define comes in a concealer-style tube with a doe-foot applicator. Application-wise, though, I don't think there's much in it; it's as easy to dab on product from the doe-foot as it is from the brush, and I blend both out with my fingertips anyway.
In terms of shade, there isn't much to choose between the two - both are a super-pale silvery-pink and when I swatched them side-by-side, I was amazed at how similar they are:
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on

So as you can see - they're very similar! High Beam is on the left above, whilst Highlight & Define is on the right. There's not much difference in formula, with both being smooth, creamy and easy to blend, and when it comes to lasting power, again there isn't much to choose between the two; both will easily wear a full day for me, without sliding or fading, even on my oily skin. I do always set cream products such as foundation and highlight with a loose powder, so that's worth bearing in mind.
Benefit High Beam is priced at £19.50 for 10ml of product, available from Debenhams here, whilst George Highlight & Define is just £3.50 for 12ml - get it here. My money is firmly on George's offering - I can't tell the difference in terms of formula, shade and application, and for the £16 saving I'm happy to take the more travel-friendly plastic tube over the glass bottle! Which would you go for? What's your favourite liquid highlight?
Oh, and if you're interested in George make-up, check out my thoughts on their Super Boost Concealer here!

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

My Experiences On The Pill

I'm aware that this sort of post isn't up everyone's street, but a couple of people have asked if I'll write about my experiences on the Pill, so I've tried to put together a brief outline - bearing in mind I was on the pill for around seven years, and tried five different ones. The pill has been getting some bad press lately in relation to links with depression, and I have to say it hasn't been a happy journey for me for a number of reasons, but let's start with why I went on the pill in the first place...
My experiences on the contraceptive pill
I first went to the doctor about going on the pill a few months before my 18th birthday; I was in my first long-term relationship and didn't want to depend on condoms. I was also hoping that going on the pill could help with my horrendously heavy, irregular periods and the accompanying migraines that I got - I started my period at 11 and six years later, my "cycle" varied from about 21 days up to about 90 - which was as inconvenient as it sounds. Anyway, long story short, I ended up on my first pill, Microgynon, and around a month later I moved away to uni.

Microgynon was an unmitigated disaster for me; I was sent away with a three-month supply and told to go back for a review once I'd almost finished my three months... So that was what I did. Unfortunately, the migraines that I'd previously suffered once or twice a month became almost daily, and at my review the nurse checked my blood pressure and was horrified - she took me straight off Microgynon, told me I couldn't use the combined pill as it was putting me at risk of a stroke, and put me on Cerazette instead.

A Progestogen-only Pill (POP, or the Mini-Pill), Cerazette suited me much better for the first few months; whilst I'd had to take a break once a month on Microgynon (in which I'd had a period which was every bit as bad as they'd ever been) with Cerazette I was period-free, and therefore migraine-free, which was brilliant... At first. After about six months (I think - this was about six years ago now so forgive me if my memory is a little fuzzy on the finer details!), I started a period - which was fine, I didn't mind occasional periods if I could have six months between them! Only, I'd started to bleed... And I just didn't stop. It wasn't heavy or painful, but it was definitely a period rather than spotting, and it went on and on and on. I went back to the doctors after a few weeks and they decided that the solution was to take twice the usual dose of Cerazette - one in the morning and one in the evening. This seemed dubious to me, but I did as I was told, and sure enough, the bleeding stopped... For a few weeks. And then it started again and, after nine months of pretty much constant bleeding save a few weeks in the middle, I went back to the doctors and put my foot down.
Experience of the contraceptive pill
Enter Micronor - another Progestogen-only Pill, I loved this one for about 18 months. I had occasional periods which, whilst still quite heavy and painful, were nothing compared to what I'd suffered before starting taking the pill. And then, the inevitable happened - my body had had enough of Micronor, and once again I started bleeding and just didn't stop. Back to the doctors I went, where I was referred for an ultrasound which showed up a big fat nothing. So the doctor switched me onto another pill - Femulen. For a while, I thought all my issues were fixed. Except when I went back for a review and to get a repeat prescription after three months, I was told that Femulen was no longer available on the NHS, and so I was switched back to Micronor. Hurrah. [/sarcasm]

Thankfully, the break seemed to have done the trick, and I managed another couple of years on Micronor before I started bleeding again. As I wasn't in a relationship at the time, I thought I'd just take a few months break and see what happened - and so I did. Typically, I started seeing my current boyfriend about three weeks after coming off the pill... But anyway, a couple of months later I started taking it again, and a couple of months after that, I started bleeding again. Hurrah. [/sarcasm]
Experiences on the contraceptive pill
Soooo back to the doctors I went, where I asked to try a different POP - they always seem keen for me to have the implant, but given that it uses the same hormones as the pill, I don't want something that permanent in my arm, thank you very much. So this time I was prescribed Norgeston. I gave up on that before the first month was out as, once again, I was bleeding constantly, and so I just stopped taking them. That was about two months ago and I've just finished my first period since coming off it... Which wasn't as bad as I remember them being, so we'll have to see how I go on. Thankfully my boyfriend has been really understanding about my reasons for coming off the pill, and is happy to use condoms instead.

Since coming off the pill, I've also noticed that my mood is a lot more stable; it wasn't something I'd noticed as a side-effect at the time, but looking back my mental health really suffered as a consequence of being on the pill. Essentially it was like PMS month-round - I'd have horrendous mood-swings where I'd be fine one minute and the next I'd be tetchy and tearful, as well as completely paranoid at times, and whilst I'd always struggled with my mood (since around the age of 13 or 14), looking back now I can see how much of an effect the pill had, although I didn't link the two at the time. I've never been formally diagnosed with any mental health problems, and I'm not trying to self-diagnose or say The Pill gave me depression or anything like that - but for me, there was a definite impact on my mood which I do strongly suspect would be clinically significant - basing this off several years of studying and working in Psychology.
[Photo credit: Ivorymix.]
Wow, this post got long! So I hope you've found this interesting - although remember, I'm just one person, and I'm apparently absurdly sensitive to hormones, so please don't let my experience put you off if you're considering going on the pill! I consider myself very lucky to live in a country where the contraceptive pill is freely available, and for many, many women it's a brilliant option. There are plenty of women out there who are perfectly suited to hormonal contraception and never have any issues with it, so it may be worth a try for you - I'd say, just bear in mind and be conscious of any possible side-effects, including those on your mental as well as physical health. If you have any questions do feel free to ask either in the comments, on Twitter or by email, I'll do my best to answer! Have you ever been on the pill? What has your experience been like?


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Review | Born Pretty Hearts Blusher*

I was recently sent this adorable Barbie-pink blusher* from Born Pretty; housed in a metallic-pink compact and embossed with hearts, this is almost too pretty to use, and easily one of the cutest blushers I own. But is it any good...?
The blusher has a clear plastic lid so it's easy to see the shade within; the pan containing the blusher lifts up to reveal a little brush and a mirror - the brush I received was quite mis-shapen and not really big enough to successfully apply blusher with, but it's a nice thought!
Of the ten shades available, I have #6, which is a bright cool-toned pink with just the slightest hint of shimmer; this isn't noticeable at all once it's on the skin. The embossed design puts me in mind of Physician's Formula, although I've never tried their blushers so I'm not in a position to compare.
I apply using my usual ELF Studio Blusher Brush; the blusher is quite pigmented so you need to use a light hand, but it does blend out really nicely to give a natural flush of colour to the skin. I've also found that it lasts really well on my skin without fading, easily lasting from 8am when I apply my make-up, through a full day at work, and into the evening if I need it to.
This super-cute blusher is an absolute steal at just £3.50 for 7g of product here, and with ten shades to choose from, I'm sure there'll be one to suit you! And if you like the sound of heart-shaped make-up, check out my post on Born Pretty's Heart-Shaped Lipstick... What do you think of this product? Would you use a Born Pretty blusher? What's the cutest make-up product you own?

[*Product provided for consideration. Prices correct at time of writing but may fluctuate with exchange rates.]

Monday, 10 October 2016

Here's Why You're Wrong About Autumn

Apparently, everyone loves Autumn. I'm a summer person through and through and yet here I am, surrounded by people who seem to think Autumn is the best thing since the proverbial sliced bread. Frankly I think you're all mad. I'm not usually a whinger unless you ask my boyfriend but that's different but I just cannot get on board with Autumn. Here's why:
[Photo: Ivory Mix. Text added by me.]
It's cold.
And when you're cold-blooded like me, that's a problem. I'm the kind of person who has the heater on in my car year-round because my feet are always freezing. I do not cope well with cold.
It's dark.
Dark mornings and dark evenings. I'm not sure what's to like here? I like daylight! There's nothing worse than going to work in the dark, and coming home in the dark. A girl needs her Vitamin D y'know! And that's before we even start to think about blog photos...
It's wet.
As if England needs an excuse for more rain! Even on those days where it looks like it might be sunny (for a few hours. Even thought it's still cold.) there are probably puddles everywhere and you'll end up with wet feet. Orrr it'll change its mind and rain anyway, and then you'll have wet feet and frizzy hair and runny make-up. Ugh.
Ice-cream ceases to be a food group.
I mean I guess you could still eat ice-cream in Autumn... But it's cold (see first point) so why would you? To make things worse, people seem to think custard is an acceptable alternative to have with puddings? Erm, no. Custard is vile.
Pumpkin spice lattes.
I drink my coffee black so this is mostly just because I feel like I'm missing out on the ol' PSL hype... But I can't stomach coffee with milk in and pumpkin spice Americano just wouldn't be the same now would it?
My eczema hates it.
To be fair my eczema hates most things but I can pretty much guarantee I'll have dry, sore, cracked hands between the end of September and about the beginning of May.
Yes, yes, alright, they're pretty when they're going red and orange on the trees, and they're pretty when they first fall off - and there's nothing quite like stepping on the perfect crunchy leaf! - but then it rains and they go all soggy and disgusting and become the kind of death-trap I can almost guarantee I'll slip on at least once before Autumn is over.
Soon I'll have to de-frost my car in the mornings.
And that's the worst! It also means icy roads and icy pavements which means slipping and falling over on a regular basis because I'm the clumsiest person ever. And it's cold. Ugh.
Sniffles & sneezes.
I rarely get "properly" ill, thankfully, because I'm terrible at being ill! But I do tend to have pretty much a constant cold throughout late Autumn and Winter. Coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose gets old pretty quickly... and it means I always have a sore nose. Sad times.
Christmas. Christmas everywhere.
Christmas shouldn't be allowed until December. Ideally until around the 15th of December. A fortnight's worth Christmas should be enough for any sane being. I really don't see why we need to drag it out for three months? Ugh.

I guess Autumn does have some redeeming features, though; Autumn candle smell the best, Halloween is pretty cool, we can light the fire, and it's a good excuse for hot chocolate - if only I hadn't given up chocolate... What do you think? Are you with me in thinking Autumn is totally over-rated, or are you an Autumn-lover?


Thursday, 6 October 2016

25 Things I've Learnt in 25 Years

It was my birthday at the end of last month! Having reached the ripe old age of 25, half of me feels like I've got my shit together, and the other half kinda feels like I'm not "adulting" quite as well as I should be - I keep thinking back to, say, 10 years ago - I kind of thought I'd have settled down by now, you know? Husband/long-term partner, kid(s), house, dog... HAHAHA.
I mean, I know 25 isn't that old in the grand scheme of things, but actually it's a pretty big milestone - I've moved out of the 16-24 age bracket (sob!) and I'm at that stage where I feel like I'm expected to have my life together... And yet here I am, still living with my parents, desperately trying to get out of overdraft, with no realistic prospect of owning my own home before the age of 30. And you know what? That's okay.
Anyway, that got a bit rambly. The point of this post was to share 25 things I've learnt about life so far. I'm quite sure I've got plenty more to learn (I bloody hope so!) but 25 feels like a good start, so here we go.
#1 Things probably won't go to plan. The ability to wing it is a talent worth developing because life, it turns out, is a pretty big fan of the ol' curveball. Just when you think you've got it sussed... PLOT TWIST!
#2  My brother isn't actually that bad. Yes, he's horrible to live with, but when we're in separate houses (and, ideally, separate counties!) we actually get on pretty well. The problem is we're too similar, so when we spend too long together we tend to clash.
#3 You can't please everyone. And that doesn't matter; as long as you're not hurting anyone and you're doing what you think is best, it'll all work out.
#4 My Mum is pretty much always right. Thankfully, I inherited this trait from her.
#5 There are more important things in life than ironing. I don't believe in ironing. I don't even iron my dress before interviews. I'm only gonna wear it! I guess if you're a man wearing shirts, it's a bit different, but as a woman I see no need to iron anything. Ever.
#6 Learning to drive was just as terrifying as I thought, but well worth it. I delayed learning to drive for almost six years and now I've done it, I really, really wish I'd just grown a pair and done it when I was 17 like everyone else. Yes the first few lessons were hideous. Yes, I still swear loudly and frequently whilst driving. But it's bloody useful to be able to do! I actually posted a few months ago about why I'm so glad I finally got round to driving lessons.
#7 Running isn't as awful as I always thought it would be. When we were younger, running was my brother's "thing"; I hated it on principle without ever really trying it. Fast forward a few years and I'm currently still sulking about my shin splints and the fact I've not run properly in a month. I quite enjoy it! Who knew?
#8 Washing up will never grow on me. I'd rather cook and dry than wash up. I really, really, really hate washing up.
#9 Choosing to study Psychology instead of Maths at A Level was a great idea. The exception to #4. For some reason my Mum really wanted me to do Maths and really didn't want me to do Psychology. So did my head-teacher, come to that. 15-year-old-me's idea of rebellion was ignoring them and doing Psychology anyway. Thanks, 15-year-old-me.
#10 I can function without chocolate. This has been quite a recently-acquired piece of wisdom, as evidenced in my post about what I learnt when I gave up chocolate for Lent earlier this year. I actually stopped eating chocolate again at the end of August with the aim of cutting it out til Christmas!
#11 Me and high heels probably aren't meant to be. I just don't have the balance for them. I also have really big feet so most heels look kinda silly on me anyway.
#12 Boys are dumb. There's not much more to be said there... They're certainly not worth getting upset over, let's leave it at that.
#13 The novelty of learning something new doesn't wear off. Learning new things is actually what I miss most about uni, and why I'm loving my new job so much - it's so good to be learning things again!
#14 A cup of tea makes most things better. And a biscuit to dunk doubles your odds.
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on

#15 You never know unless you try. Something I've got pretty good at lately is asking myself, "What's the worst that can happen?" and then giving things a go. I'm of the opinion that great things are not in my comfort zone; I need to push myself.
#16 A leather jacket is an excellent investment. I won a Hobbs gift card a couple of years ago and treated myself to a gorgeous leather jacket. It was such a good buy as I wear it pretty much everywhere! It's great for work, nights out and everything in between.
#17 Never depend on my sense of direction. Because I don't have one. And that's putting it nicely.
#18 I'm not someone who regrets things. Or at least, not yet! I tend to take the viewpoint of, if I did what I thought was best at the time, there's nothing I'd change. (Regarding tattoos, I did what made me happy at the time, so ditto.)
#19 I'm utterly tone deaf. Actually, this didn't take anything close to 25 years. I think about three weeks of violin lessons cleared this one up - although I soldiered on for a good four years, without success.
#20 Swimming really helps me clear my head. It's also great for soothing general aches, pains and stiff muscles. And it means cake doesn't count. Everyone's a winner!
#21 Sometimes, the little things in life are the best. Clean sheets. Your favourite biscuits. A new candle. Oranges that peel perfectly. You know the things I mean!
#22 I need to force myself to be organised. I hate mess but I still have this awful habit of letting stuff pile up until it's just ridiculous. I really need to force myself to keep on top of things like filing credit card bills and suchlike.
#23 I should listen to my body. I've got a post coming up on my experiences on the Pill, but basically - I spent seven years on it in misery, one way or another. I should have listened to my body a long time ago. It doesn't work for me. End of.
#24 There's never enough time. This is more because I have a tendency towards letting things expand to fill the available time, than because I actually have too much to do. I'm the worst procrastinator! However it does seem to mean that if I plan more, I get shit done more quickly and therefore can do more...
#25 I can do anything I put my mind to. I'm a pretty determined person, it turns out! It may have taken me three years after graduating to find the job that was "right" for me, but I got there. I've got my Mum to thank for teaching me this from a young age - if you want it bad enough, work hard and you'll get there in the end.

What pearls of wisdom have you picked up over the years? Do you think there's anything missing from my list?


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Magazine Freebies | November 2016

Another month, another round of magazine freebies to peruse and pick up as per your whims! I've only seen a couple so far this month, but they're good ones... Read on to find out what goodies you can get your mitts on with your reading material this month.
InStyle (£3.99) comes with a 10ml deluxe sample of This Works In Transit Camera Close-Up, a three-in-one moisturiser, mask and primer which claims to be... "A portable pick-me-up that evens, plumps and brightens instantly. Bio Boost, our unique blend of precious plant oils combined with Hyaluronic Acid and Caffeine, revitalises the skin for a naturally radiant complexion. Rapidly erases signs of fatigue and boosts hydration to be ready for that 'close-up' in seconds." which sounds pretty good to me! This is £30 for the full-size 40ml, which makes this sample worth about £7.50.
Marie Claire (£3.99) comes with one of two Balance Me hand creams - choose between 50ml tubes of their original Super Moisturising Hand Cream, or the gorgeously-scented Rose Otto Hand Cream. Both retail at £10 for this size of tube. I've been really impressed with the Super Moisturising cream in the past, so I decided to try something new this time and went for the Rose Otto!
Have you picked up any of this month's magazine freebies yet? Have you spotted any other gems on the newsagent's stands?


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Hello October!

We're now officially into the final quarter of 2016 which is more than just a little bit terrifying; I honestly don't know where this year has gone, it doesn't feel like five minutes since I was sat in the park watching the fireworks at midnight on New Year's Eve... Yet before we know it, it'll be time to do it again! Aaaanyway, let's not get too carried away - there's three months between then and now, so plenty of time to achieve lots of things hopefully! You can catch up with my goals from last month in my September In Retrospect post, and here are my goals for October:
Apply for clinical training. Becoming a Psychologist requires you to do a doctorate, which is a very competitive course to get onto - I've never applied before and on average, it takes three applications to get onto, so I'm not holding out too much hope for this year... I'm basically viewing it as getting the first application out of the way. The deadline isn't until the end of November but I'd like to get it out of the way sooner rather than later so that I don't have to worry about it.
See friends at least twice. This has become a standard monthly goal for me, but I enjoy including it as it does mean I make the effort to catch up with friends when I might otherwise put it off - it's all too easy to let months slip by without seeing the people who matter!
Join the gym. This was on my list last month and I just didn't get round to it, so I need to make time this month to get on with it!
Get my hair cut shorter. I've got a haircut booked in a couple of days and I'm planning to have quite a bit taken off (you can see how long it is currently in my post about my Irresistible Me Diamond Hair Styler), so my goal here is basically not to bottle it! I hate having my hair cut so I'm going to have to be brave.
Look into savings accounts. Gosh, what a boring, adult goal! I've got into the habit of putting away a bit of money each month, but the interest rate on the account it's in is, for want of a better word, shite, so I need to see if I can find anything better - I know interest rates have dropped since Brexit (don't get me started on that) but I still think it's worth having a browse and comparing accounts. Every little helps!
Finish the month no more than £750 into my overdraft. If you read these goals posts regularly, you'll see that I'm getting there with this overdraft thing! Considering I was right at the bottom (-£2000!!!!) at the beginning of the year, I'm really proud of my progress, and I'm hoping to be able to pay it off completely, without having to dip into it at all, next year.
I don't really have any major plans this month but I'm hoping to make it quite productive nonetheless! Do you have anything nice planned for October? What are your goals for the month?


Friday, 30 September 2016

In Retrospect | September 2016

I'm not going to go on about how fast this year is going - we all know, it's kind of terrifying, let's not dwell on it hey!? September has been a funny old month for me, and there seems to have been loads going on, so let's have a little look back...
September in Retrospect
I think I've done alright with empties this month - it's not my best month ever by a long shot, but I've finished off a couple of those kinds of products that seem to last forever, which is nice.
Will Repurchase: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Oil-Infused Cleansing Water | I mentioned this in my Summer Skincare Routine post and I'm still loving it to remove my make-up in the evening before a proper cleanse. It smells lovely, works well on waterproof mascara and doesn't sting my eyes at all. I've already started a new bottle of this! // The Body Shop Chocomania Body Butter | Okay so I won't be repurchasing this exact scent (I'm gutted they've discontinued it!) but I love The Body Shop's body butters and always have at least a couple in my stash - they're perfect for keeping my sensitive, eczema-prone skin happy.
Might Repurchase: Dr Organic Tea Tree Shampoo | I did like this but didn't love it - it's perfectly nice as shampoos go, and it's SLS-free so it doesn't irritate my skin, but I don't think it's ideal for my super-oily scalp. // Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask | This is definitely a favourite for me, but I do think it's expensive. There are other masks I need to finish off before I buy anything new, and there are others I want to try before I think about repurchasing this one, but there's a good chance it'll end up back in my collection at some point! // Forever Aloe Scrub* | Again, I really liked this but feel like it's quite pricey - I've got other, similar products to finish up and others I want to try before I'd buy this again - but I would consider it in the future.
Won't Repurchase: Naked Volume Body Building Shampoo | This was the last of my stockpiled bottles and to be honest I'm quite glad to see the back of this - I used to love it but I feel like my hair got used to it or something, it just didn't seem as effective the last couple of bottles. // Nivea Anti-Perspirant Invisible for Black & White | I bought this for packing in carry-on luggage and have been keeping it my work bag - it was alright for freshening up after a long day, but I wouldn't depend on it as an anti-perspirant.

Samples Sachets.
I've only used a couple of sample sachets this month - I just haven't really thought about it! It's better than nothing though, so here's what I thought...
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo | I got this as part of a FeelUnique Pick 'N' Mix selection (Side note: I think this is a great idea!) and wouldn't have chosen it if I'd realised it contained SLS. I quite liked it but wouldn't buy the full-size for that reason (£15.25/300ml here) // Bioderma Nodé Non-Detergent Fluid Shampoo | Another one from the FeelUnique Pick 'N' Mix - I liked the idea of this and quite enjoyed the fluid texture - it was literally like water - but didn't really feel like it did much for my hair, unfortunately. (£8.50/200ml here).

September Goals.
Keep up running twice a week. Well shin splints put paid to this one! I've basically had to take three weeks off running altogether, which has been rubbish - I'm only just starting to get back into it, breaking myself in gently with short half-mile runs to begin with. I need to build back up slowly and get better at stretching/warming up properly.
Join the gym. I just haven't got round to this - I think I know where I'm going to join but I don't understand the pricing options on the website so I need to go in and ask - which just hasn't happened yet. I'll carry this one into October I think, as it is definitely something I need to do.
No chocolate. I'm pretty bloody proud of this, especially as it was my birthday this week! I was actually on a training day with work on my birthday and there was a huge tub of Cadbury's Heroes... and I resisted. I'm aiming for Christmas with the no chocolate thing and I have to admit, it's getting easier as the days go on...
See friends at least twice. In September I've managed a night out at the pub with Warrior friends in Scotland, a couple of evenings in with my best friend, a pub quiz night (we didn't win. Now there's a surprise!) and a late-night walk with another friend. Not a bad month, all in all!
Finish the month at least £1000 from the bottom of my overdraft. I did reasonably well here, actually finishing less than £900 from the bottom - result! This has been a long process but I finally feel like the end is in sight in terms of paying this off, and it's very satisfying that I'm paying less in interest each month now.
Have a haircut. ...I tried! My hairdresser has rather inconsiderately been away, so the first appointment I could get was early October - I'm booked in and dreading it but it's long overdue so I'm going to have to suck it up and deal with it!

September Loves.
Kristina at Creepers & Cupcakes posted about five blogging rules she breaks all the time - which was a lovely, relatable read! There can be a lot of pressure in the blogging world about the "right" ways to do things, and it's important to remember every now and then that the right way for you is your way.
Twenty Something Meltdown Pros & Cons of Adulting
If you haven't noticed I've got a massive girl crush on Gwennan yet then, well, take this as written notice. Her Pros & Cons of Adulting post really hit home with me - although I'm not sure why her 'Pros' list is so long, the only plus point I can think of is eating cake for lunch?
Hourglass Surreal Light
Jamie posted some swatches and her first impressions of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Surreal Light which looks bloomin' gorgeous - there's no way I can justify £69 on it but I'll totally be living vicariously through Jamie when she gets her palette.
My options for favourites amongst my own posts are pretty limited this month, but I was pleased with my write-up of Viktor & Rolf's new perfume launch, Bonbon Couture, and I really enjoyed writing my somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about Ten Things Every Blogger Wishes They Could Do, so do check those out if you get chance!

September In Summary.
We sadly said goodbye to my Gran at the beginning of the month - at the ripe old age of 92, she went into hospital and never came home. We had a lovely family funeral service and then a larger memorial service which felt fitting; she had a good send-off. Myself and three of my cousins (my Gran had four children and eight grandchildren!) were coffin-bearers, which was quite emotional but I'm glad I did it - I hope we did her proud. RIP Gran ♥
It feels weird to follow that up with anything else, but there's actually been a lot going on this month! We had the final Total Warrior weekend of the year, up in Edinburgh, which was a lot of fun as always. I volunteered both days and camped for two nights on my own, which I was a little bit nervous about, but it was actually a lot of fun and definitely something I'd do again. It helped that the campsite was less than half a mile from this gorgeous beach!
North Berwick Beach
The weekend after, I took my boyfriend to see McFly in Glasgow - he seems reluctant to admit it, but I know he loved it! I got very emotional and a bit teary-eyed at a few songs, but it was amazing to see them again - I think this was the tenth time I've seen them and I swear they get better every time.
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on
I'm two months into my new job now, which has gone very quickly! I'm loving it, though, it really feels like what I want to be doing, and it's so good to finally feel like I'm on the way to somewhere career-wise. I've had so many opportunities already, most of which have majorly challenged my comfort zones - but I think I've risen to the challenge so far and I'm quite proud of myself!
What have you been up to in September? I'd love to hear the best thing about your month!

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

NEW | Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture*

It's my birthday today! And what better way to celebrate turning 25(!) than a new(-ish) perfume?! I was recently sent a bottle of Viktor & Rolf's new perfume launch, Bonbon Couture*. Launching earlier this month, the scent is described as, "an even more opulent, intense interpretation of Bonbon - the all-encompassing sensory experience of the fragrance is enriched, the ritual enhanced and the ceremonious pursuit of pleasure acutely heightened."
NEW Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture Eau de parfum
Modelled on the original packaging, the outer box is bright-pink and features a plastic seal with the V&R logo - it's these little touches that make the brand feel so high-end, in my opinion. The bottle itself is shaped like a wrapped sweet, although I admit that for quite some time, I thought it was meant to be a bow - and I know I'm not the only one! The bottle features the brand name engraved on the cap, and the little seal with the V&R logo as found on the outer packaging.
The opening notes consist of mandarin, neroli and peach, with a heart of orange blossom, sanbac jasmine and caramel. The base notes include sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla and blond tobacco; these notes combine to give a warm, rich and striking gourmand fragrance which I've fallen in love with. Just a couple of spritzes is plenty to give a noticeable scent, and it last really well on the skin - I can easily still smell it after 12-14 hours of wear, which is pretty good going! It's probably not one for the faint of heart but it truly is a gorgeous perfume and one I've been getting a lot of wear out of in the few weeks it's been sat amongst my collection.
Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture Eau de Parfum
"Like the touch and perfect fit of a unique couture creation of the most opulent textiles such as organza and satin duchesse, Bonbon Couture languidly cloaks the the body as a silky second skin, adhering to the codes of meticulous tailoring, structural silhouettes, and outspoken volumes that are ultimately transformational."
Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture
Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture eau de parfum is priced from £57 for 30ml, available from Selfridge's here, with prices rising to £79 for 50ml and £109 for 90ml. There's no doubt that it's an investment scent but it really is a beautiful fragrance and given how long-lasting it is, there'll be no need to re-spray throughout the day so I expect it to last fairly well.
Do you like the sound of Bonbon Couture? What's your favourite Viktor & Rolf fragrance?

[*Product provided for consideration.]
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