Monday, 31 December 2012

NOTD: Technic Spangled Nude

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One of my favourite gifts I received for Christmas was this Colours by Technic gift set from my boyfriend's grandparents. It contained sixteen nail polishes, plus a four-way nail buffer and some nail gems. Since the period between Christmas and New Year has been consisting of catching up with friends before they head back off to the ends of the country, I've been sporting this festive, sparkly look on my nails for a few days. This is two coats of the shade 'Nude', described as a "high gloss beige", with two coats of 'Spangle', a golden glitter in a clear base, on ring finger and thumb as accent nails. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of these polishes - application was lovely and smooth, they dried quickly and have lasted pretty well! The glitter was evenly distributed and one coat would have been plenty to be honest - I just popped a second on to make the glitter really pop, it is Christmas after all!

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What have you been wearing on your nails over the festive period? Are you a fan of glitter, or do you tend to go for seasonal colours over the glitz?

xo

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Recipe: Rocky Road

I baked a few of my Christmas gifts this year, to save on the pennies a little and also to make sure everyone got something thoughtful and which they'd know I'd put a lot of effort into. This resulted in me spending a whole day in the kitchen making mince pies along with all my presents. I made caramel shortbread for my dad, which I've blogged about before, and truffles for my mum and boyfriend. My brother is an athlete, though, and watches what he eats quite carefully, so I tried to make something that was a treat whilst still being healthy-ish. I ended up with Rocky Road, and although it contains butter and chocolate, it's also got some good bits. You can obviously replace the extras with whatever you fancy! I know this is too late for you to use for Christmas presents this year, but it's great just as a treat any time, to be honest. Another bonus is it doesn't require baking, which is great when your oven is already full of mince pies and shortbread!
Ingredients:
200g Chocolate (I used half and half milk and dark, because my brother isn't a dark chocolate fan but it's better for baking. For a more mature audience, go with dark!)
135g Butter
175g Biscuits (I used ginger biscuits, but digestives, rich tea or shortbread would work just as well)
300g mixture of Mini Marshmallows, Dried Fruit/Nuts, cereal, Maltesers, etc. (I used mini marshmallows, dried cranberries, chopped cashews, and mixed dried fruit including raisins, sultanas, cherries and citrus peel)
Icing sugar, to dust
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Start by melting the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water (or in the microwave) and stir until smooth. I always do it over water after a bad experience with a friend's dodgy microwave which set our chocolate on fire!
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Pop your biscuits in a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin until you've got a range of sizes from dust to 50p or even bigger. You could also use a hand blender for this, but that ruins the fun ;D
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Mix all your dry ingredients into the melted chocolate and butter, and stir until everything is evenly coated.
Press into a tin or tray lined with greaseproof paper, and shove it in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. Remove from the fridge, sprinkle with icing sugar, and slice into squares with a sharp knife. Voila!
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It has to be said, this went down very well, and I had a couple of pieces left over that wouldn't fit into the gift box I used - I wished I hadn't given it to him when I got home and ate those, they were really good haha!
Did you make any of your Christmas presents yourself? What do you like to put in your Rocky Road?

xo

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Review: nspa Hot Cloth Polish

On the market for a new cleanser, I was drawn to this little beauty in Asda by its pretty duck-egg blue box. I've tried a couple of nspa products in the past, but mostly from their bath range as opposed to skincare. Although this is technically the second step in the skincare routine, Exfoliation, the box claimed that it would "Quickly clean, exfoliate and purify skin", which sounded enough like a cleanser for me to buy it. Priced at £7 for 150ml plus one muslin cloth, I think this is great value for money.

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According to the packaging, this polish will buff away dead skin cells with its two-in-one cleanser/polisher properties. Containing Ginseng and Vitamin E to moisturise, plus Cocoa Butter and Sweet Almond Oil to remove make-up and other impurities, it sounds delightful. In the box is a pump-action bottle of the polish, plus a white muslin cloth edged with blue. You do only get one muslin cloth, as opposed to two with the infamous Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser, but I've found good quality muslin cloths in Home Bargains for 69p and stocked up there, so it's not a problem. I like to use a new cloth every day to prevent building up and spreading bacteria.

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One pump of product is plenty to massage into my face and neck. It comes out as quite a thick cream with a pleasant scent, as you would expect from its ingredients, and melts into the skin really easily, dissolving your makeup as it goes. I've found this is amazing and removing all the day's grime, including foundation and mascara. I massage it gently into my skin for a minute or so, then soak the muslin cloth in hand-hot water, wring out, and use to polish off the cream. I then rinse the cloth and repeat to be sure I've removed all traces of the day. My skin is left feeling soft, smooth and super-clean, and it's improved so much in the couple of months I've been using this cleanser - I have fewer breakouts and it's really helped my blackheads around my nose as well. This is what earned it its place in my Top 12 Products of 2012!

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Overall, I think this is a lovely product at a great price. It does what it claims, it's worked really well with my skin, and I'd highly recommend it. I have my Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean cleanser to use once this is finished but I can definitely see myself repurchasing nspa's Hot Cloth Polish in the future. It's available exclusively from Asda, priced at £7.
Have you tried nspa's Hot Cloth Cleanser? What's your favourite cleanser?

xo

Friday, 28 December 2012

Christmas NOTD: OPI Skyfall 'The World Is Not Enough'

Evening, lovelies! I hope you've all had a fabulous Christmas and are getting yourselves all ready for New Year. I had a wonderful couple of days at my mum's house, with half the family round at any given time, eating too many chocolates, watching too many awful films, and cringing too much at John Bishop's  Fifty Shades Of Grey sketch whilst watching his DVD with my mum. I got some lovely gifts, which I'm really grateful for, and I'm planning to share a couple over the next few days. I've also taken advantage of the sales to make a few investments (that's what I've told my boyfriend, anyway!) which should be with me in the near future, so I'll pop up a post about those soon, as well.
This is just a quickie to let you all know I'm still alive and to show you my nails from Christmas Day. I fell in love with OPI's Skyfall Collection and eventually gave in and told myself I could order ONE shade off Amazon. After comparing swatches, I finally decided on 'The World Is Not Enough', as it's one that I knew I'd wear and that didn't look too similar to anything I already owned. I purchased from an Amazon Seller called Hair Angels and my polish took about five days to arrive - although I ended up having to go to the collection office to pick it up as Royal Mail, in their infinite wisdom, decided that a bottle of nail polish in a Jiffy bag wouldn't fit through my letterbox.. The mind boggles.
This goes on pretty sheer and the photos below show three coats; you can still see my nail line in direct light, so it's not a polish I'd try to build to opacity without a base colour under it. Nonetheless, it went on nicely and dried quickly, although it did start to chip in under 24 hours which I wasn't impressed with. This is quite an unusual colour, showing up a sort of warm rose-bronze colour in natural light but flashing a cooler gunmetal kind of colour under artificial light (last photo) - great description there, I know! It's also super shiny, so sorry about the glarey photos, it was quite tricky to photograph!

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What do you think? Do you own any of the Skyfall Collection? What's your favourite shade?

xo

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Top 12 Products of 2012

I love reading Favourites posts, and whilst I don't feel there's enough variation in my routine to warrant me doing a monthly favourites, I've definitely found enough products over the course of 2012 to make it worthwhile. So, here you have my top twelve products of the year!

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TRESemm√© Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque This is still my all-time favourite hair product, as well as one of my most popular review posts. This little gem transforms my hair from a dry, tangled mess into smooth, silky locks. I am absolutely in love with it, I wouldn't be without it. I've recently bought the shampoo and conditioner from this range and can't wait to see if they match up to the Masque's standard - watch this space. TRESemm√© Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque is available from Boots priced at £5.50 for 300ml, although it's often in their 3 for 2 offers so they're worth watching out for.
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E Concentrated Cream This hand cream is a new addition to my handbag (and desk, and bedside table...) but definitely one I wish I'd found sooner. I suffer quite badly with eczema, including horribly dry hands, to the point where my skin literally cracks and bleeds and flakes off (it's really attractive!) This thick, creamy yellow butter smells amazing and has been working wonders at softening up my scaly skin and keeping it hydrated. I found this in Bodycare at £1.25 for 60g, but it's also available at Boots for £2.25 if you don't have a Bodycare near you.
Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Mascara I originally got this mascara free with a magazine and fell in love with it; I've recently got a replacement in my Best of All gift set which I treated myself to, and I'm so happy. This mascara is perfect for me, thickening up my lashes without making them look spidery or un-natural, which isn't the look I go for. I love it! This is priced at £10 and is available from Boots.
The Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser I purchased this on a whim and I'm so glad I did! For me, it's like Benefit's The POREfessional but better - it has actual skincare benefits due to the anti-bacterial nature of Tea Tree Oil, and it's a mere quarter of the price. It's perfect for blurring my crater-pores and smoothing my skin before I apply my foundation. Tea Tree Pore Minimiser is available from The Body Shop at £7.50 for 30ml.

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Stila In The Light Palette I was lucky enough to win this palette in a giveaway on Elena's blog, Endless Summer and I absolutely love it. It's a lovely neutral palette, all the shadows are super-pigmented, and it came with a brown eyeliner crayon as well which is just gorgeous, so soft and easy to use. The ten shades range from a gorgeous matte creamy colour, through shimmering golds and coppers, right through to black. This really is a palette that would suit anyone, it sees a lot of use from me and it's definitely one I'd recommend. It's a little pricey, but I'd say it's worth every penny. It's available from BeautyBay at £25.
nSPA Hot Cloth Polish This was another product I picked on a whim, this time from Asda because I was looking for a new cleanser and this came in a pretty box (yes, I really am that easily swayed.) This is actually perfect for me, it removes my make-up quickly and easily, leaves my face feeling really soft and clean, and it's done my skin the world of good - my blackheads are decreasing and my blemish-prone skin is much clearer - I have my Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean Cleanser to use up once I've finished my bottle of this, but it's definitely one I can see myself re-purchasing as it's worked so well for me. nSPA Hot Cloth Polish is available from Asda, priced at £7 for 150ml and one muslin cloth.
Armani Code for Women I've never really discussed perfumes on my blog as I feel that they're just too personal; I'd never buy a perfume on someone's recommendation without having tested it myself, so I don't personally feel it's something worthwhile sharing - that and I'm hopeless at describing perfumes. That said, I absolutely adore Armani Code, which I treated myself to with some gift vouchers earlier in the year. It's definitely not a cheap perfume, but I wear it most days, and I've had so many compliments on it. I find it lasts really well too, so even after a full day in the office or at Uni I still smell good. Armani Code is available from Boots at £72 for 75ml; smaller sizes are available. The Perfume Shop actually have a nice giftset at £39.50 for a 30ml perfume plus a body lotion.
Batiste Dry Shampoo in Coconut & Exotic It's only this year that I've really learnt to make dry shampoo work for me, and you honestly can't beat the smell of this number from Batiste. It's halved the amount of time I spend washing and drying my hair - literally. So as well as doing wonders for my gas and electric bills, it also means my poor boyfriend has a shot at the bathroom every now and then! Batiste Coconut & Exotic is available from Superdrug at £1.45 for 200ml - half price, don't you know!

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MAC 'Cut A Caper' Lipstick I've never been one for wearing lipstick, but I've been getting a little braver this year. I actually won this little beauty from Grace and it was perfect for easing myself into the lippie habit. It's easy to slick on and forget about as it's such a my-lips-but-better shade, and it smells amazing. It also doesn't dry my lips out which I love. Cut A Caper was part of MAC's Heavenly Creatures collection and is unfortunately no longer available.
Tweezerman Mini Slant Tweezers After using a cheap pair of tweezers for my entire adult life, it was a revelation to me when I finally gave in and purchased a pair of Tweezerman's; plucking your eyebrows can actually be a joy! My pair are lilac polka dot, they're so cute and pretty and they're really easy to use, meaning I no longer have an excuse for not looking after my brows. Tweezerman Mini Slant Tweezers are available from Boots at £14.50.
NFU.Oh 'Storm In A Teacup' Nail Polish I actually purchased this with a gift voucher I won on NFU.Oh's Facebook page and then didn't use it for months and months. When I finally did, I fell in love with its multi-chrome, flakey goodness. This is the perfect top coat for brightening up a plain nail colour with a little bit of sparkle, and gives a really unusual finish. These polishes also come in gorgeous bottles with a corsetted lid, 17ml will set you back £14.95 from NFU.Oh's website.
ELF 'Mint Cream' Nail Polish I love pastel nail polishes for a subtle pop of colour, and this mint shade is an especial favourite for me. It has a lovely creamy formula and applies really nicely, and lasts well too. I've found it makes a great base for nail art as well as looking super pretty on its own. All ELF nail polish is priced at £2.50 for 10g, which is a great bargain for such a lovely product.

What do you think? What are your must-have products of 2012? Do you share any of mine?
I won't be posting again now until after Christmas, I'll still be around on Twitter but I just wanted to say, have a wonderful Christmas filled with happy times, and thank you for sticking with Just Jesss over the course of 2012. There've been a few bumps in the ride but I'm so glad to have you all here. Obviously if you don't celebrate Christmas, then just enjoy a couple of days' relaxation! See you on the other side guys.

xo

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Prizes & Purchases

I've won a couple of prizes lately, and I've also been doing some last minute Christmas shopping which happened to coincide with the start of the sales and therefore resulted in a couple of cheeky purchases for myself! I'm just sharing a quick peek today at those, enjoy.
I won this gorgeous Kissing Swallows necklace from the lovely Georgia, who runs Cheap Frills jewellery shop. It came beautifully packaged with a real wax seal (I always get excited about those) and it's just lovely. Thank you so much Georgia! You can also visit Georgia's blog to keep up-to-date on the latest!
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I was also lucky enough to win this Restorative Hand & Nail Cream in a 12 Days of Christmas giveaway on Dr LeWinn's Facebook page. I've not tried this yet but I'm a hand cream fiend so this will definitely get used up. I'm planning a little review post once I do start using so keep your eyes peeled for that!
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I popped into River Island to look for a little something for my brother's girlfriend. I found something, but also came away with a few bits and pieces for myself. These amazing shoes were reduced from £28 to just £12, were available in my size, and actually fit me. No brainer there! I can't find these online though, sorry!
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I've been trying to wear less jeans and more skirts and dresses lately, mostly due to how terribly jeans fit me, so I feel I was totally justified in buying a couple of pairs of tights to keep me warm through the winter months. These tartan ones are terrible, which is why I love them, and the starry ones are super pretty and right up my street as I love stars.
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I also picked up these cute owl earrings - I'll only be able to wear one at once due to my right lobe piercing being stretched, but even so they're so adorable that at £1 I couldn't leave them, and at least this way I have a strategic spare! These don't seem to be listed online either, unfortunately.
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Finally, my Gran sent us some Christmas flowers - aren't they lovely!? I'm not too hot on flowers but I can recognise carnations and chrysanthemums in here, along with some daisy-like flowers and what look like baby lilies..? Anyway, they're pretty, and that's what matters, right!? I now need to brave the weather to head into town and purchase a vase, so if you don't hear from me again assume I've drowned.
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I hope you're all ready for Christmas (I am now, at last!) and enjoying the last few days of the countdown. I'm the least Christmassy person ever until around the 23rd but I'm getting there now, I'm planning to make mince pies this afternoon so that should help. On Sunday I'm baking my Christmas gifts for my family, so I'll be sharing a couple of those recipes too at some point!

xo

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Soap & Glory Best of All Set

I was in two minds about whether to post about this, as it's sold out online and you'll most likely struggle to find it available in stores either; the Soap & Glory Best of All gift set was reduced from £60 to £27 on Friday and I couldn't resist ordering it. The wait for the confirmation email from Boots was a tense few hours  but eventually it arrived and then the countdown was on for delivery! I'm so glad I bought this set, it's such good value for money and contains a lovely mix of products, most of which I haven't tried before; this makes it a great opportunity to find some new favourites!
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Nine products, all full-sized, are included: 300ml tub of The Righteous Butter; 125ml tube of Hand Food; 300ml tub of Sugar Crush Body Scrub; 125ml tube of Heel Genius; 500ml bottle of Smoothie Star; 500ml bottle of Clean On Me; 200ml Bottle of Peaches & Clean; Thick & Fast Mascara; Sexy Mother Pucker Lip Gloss in 'Punch Bowl' (I've linked to the individual items on the Boots website). Also included is a book full of vouchers for money off or bonus Advantage card points when you purchase Soap & Glory products, which will be handy if I decide I can't live without one or more of my purchases!
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These items work out at just £3 each, so when you consider their individual RRPs you're getting an absolute bargain! The only product I've actually tried from the selection is the Thick & Fast Mascara, which I absolutely loved. My tube is just reaching the end of its days and, although I have a couple of other mascaras to use up, I'm so happy to have a replacement. I'm really looking forward to trying out the other items as well, particularly Peaches & Clean after reading Lizzie's review and Sugar Crush, which smells amazing! I'm planning to review the products over the coming weeks to share my thoughts with you all.
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The only thing I didn't like about this set (and it's a minor niggle!) was the packaging; I feel that the big pink bag included is far too big and I didn't feel that the items were well protected within it, just thrown into a cardboard box with nothing to stop them rolling around and damaging each other. Thankfully all my items arrived safely but I can't help thinking there's a lot of wasted packaging, and I have no use for a cosmetics bag this large!
Did you indulge yourself (or a loved one) with the Best of All gift set? Do you love Soap & Glory products?

xo

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Winter Nail Art

I love Barry M Nail Paints and so I had to pick up the Limited Edition Blue Foil they released exclusively at Superdrug this year. I created this nail art around this polish, I think it's a lovely, wintery look without being tacky or specifically Christmassy - perfect if you don't celebrate Christmas or you just want something a little more toned down than full-on reindeers and Santas on your nails.
I started with two coats of the blue foil on my ring fingers, and three coats of Barry M's 'Blue Moon' on my other nails. I love 'Blue Moon' and it's a perfect creamy, icy blue but it is very sheer so three coats is the bear minimum really.
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Then, using a pot of blue glitter (mine is from Poundland and came in a set of four!), I painted a wavy line of clear nail polish on the tip of the Blue Moon nails, before dipping into the glitter and finishing off with a coat or two of top coat. I found it best to do this step one nail at a time so as not to end up with glitter quite everywhere - it can get quite messy though! It's also a good idea to do this on a sheet of paper so that once you're done, you can fold it in half and use it to pour all the excess back into the pot for next time.
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What do you think?  You could equally use white or silver glitter, or swap it for a loose pigment such as Barry M's Dazzle Dusts. Have you been doing any Christmassy or Wintery nail art?

xo

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Review: MUA Pro Brow Kit

I've never owned a dedicated brow kit before, for one reason; mostly, they seem to come with a choice of shades, plus a wax/gel for setting the brows. This seems wasteful to me, as you're not going to use all the shades, so although you could potentially use the "spare shades" as eyeshadows or something, it all just seems a little pointless. Nevertheless, at £3.50 in Superdrug, I talked myself into making this purchase just to see if I've been missing something all these years.
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This is a neat, compact little palette containing three shades of powder, a wax, a double-ended application brush and a pair of mini tweezers. There's also a nice big mirror for easy use on-the-go, which is always a good thing. The little masterclass on the back talks you through how to use the product if you're unfamiliar with brow kits, which is another nice touch.
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But what did I think? Well, the mini tweezers are a great idea and again, ideal for on-the-go, but I'm afraid that's all they're good for - they're clumsy and hard to use. I'd only ever use these as a last resort for tweezing out unbearably long strays if I didn't have my Tweezermans with me. The brush is quite scratchy and I only use it for applying the gel, preferring an angled eyeliner brush to apply the actual powder. Its tiny size also makes accuracy quite difficult as your hand is in the way of seeing what you're doing, but that's the problem with brushes included in palettes, isn't it!
The three powder shades include a dark and mid-brown, and a lighter creamy colour which is recommended as a highlighter on the brow bone - again, I like this concept and think it works quite well. I also like that it's a matte shade, which is unusual for a highlighter but something I prefer for daytime wear. The other two shades are quite far apart in their tone - the dark one is far too dark for me (I'm not a fan of the massively drawn-on brows look, I just want to fill in my brows slightly to frame my face better), whilst the light one is far too light. I can get a good shade for my brows by blending the two shades, but I can't help but feel this is defeating the object a little - it takes away something of the "quick and easy" aspect.
Finally, the gel is nice and easy to use, and does its job well, smoothing and taming the brows to prevent "flyaways" without looking greasy or overly drawn-on. If you look closely, you can tell they've been filled in, but at first glance it isn't obvious, which is the way I like it.
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Also wearing: Stila In The Light Palette; Clinique High Impact Mascara
Overall, this is a nice product, it does what's it's meant to do and it's a lovely, compact little palette ideal for travelling. I don't think I'll be repurchasing once I've used it up, however, mainly because I feel there are easier ways of filling in my brows that don't include having to mix up a custom powder shade every morning!
What do you think, ladies? Have you tried the MUA Brow Kit? What's your favourite method of filling in your brows?

xo

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas Shopping FOTD

Yesterday was my annual Christmas shopping day with my best friend; it's become a tradition, one we've upheld for around the last six or seven years, and one we've continued even since moving away to University and (in her case) getting grown up jobs and becoming Real People. I thought I'd share my FOTD with you all as it's been a while since I've done one. Since I've been ill, I needed to maximise my time in bed (don't I always!) and therefore went for a super-quick and easy to apply face. I also knew that we'd be rushing back and forth across town as we remembered places we'd forgotten to visit, and that I didn't want to have to spend half my day checking my make-up and topping it up. So I went for a low-maintenance ensemble which, with a sweep of powder when we paused for lunch, lasted me all day.
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Products used: The Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser; L'Oreal True Match Foundation (not sure what shade as it's worn off the label but I think it's Rose Ivory); Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer in 01 Fair; Collection 2000 Sheer Loose Powder in 01 Translucent; Sleek Blush in Rose Gold; MUA Pro Brow Kit (review to follow soon!); Stila In The Light Palette (I used the shades second from the left in the top row, and the bottom left); Clinique High Impact Mascara; Jemma Kidd Lipstick in 01 Rose (from a mini palette from TK Maxx, which also contained three eyeshadows and a blusher, all for the bargainous price of £4.99).
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And finally, I feel it's only fair to share with you my present to myself; the best Christmas jumper ever! This little beauty cost me £15 from a boutique in town and it's super warm and cosy. You may remember my Christmas jumper post a few weeks ago? It has actually taken me til now to find one which was ridiculous enough for my liking. Have you got your Christmas jumpers yet, ladies? Have you finished your Christmas shopping?
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xo
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