Saturday, 31 January 2015

Empties: January 2015

It's hard to believe we're already at the end of the first month of 2015! It's been a busy month for me; I've passed my driving theory test and booked my practical for the end of next month, and started a new voluntary position one day per week, alongside working a whole bunch of overtime shifts, my pre-existing voluntary job, driving lessons, and generally trying to have a life... I've also just found out a couple of days ago that I've got through to the interview stage for a job I applied for down in Birmingham, so hopefully that will go well! Also in January, I've finished off a pleasing number of beauty bits and pieces:
Beauty Empties January 2015 Bbloggers
January Empties 1
L'Occitane Zesty Lime Hand Cream I adore L'Occitane's hand creams, their high Shea Butter content means they work amazingly to hydrate my horrible scaly, dry hands, and the Zesty Lime scent is right up my street! I'm genuinely sorry to have finished this.
Repurchase? Maybe. I'll always pick these up when they're free with magazines (as this one was!) and I'm considering ordering a couple as well.
Boots Cotton Wool Double Faced Round Pads One of those boring essentials that I seem to get through with predictable monotony, these do the job just fine in with eye make-up remover, micellar water, toner and nail polish remover. What more can I say!?
Repurchase? Probably.
The Body Shop Almond Body Butter This is a regular amongst my Empties posts and one I absolutely adore; as far as I'm concerned, smelling like marzipan is pretty much living the dream! Unfortunately I've been unable to find this to stock up and I'm now down to my last tub... Sob!!
Repurchase? In a heartbeat, if I can ever find it again!
BiC Soleil Lady Shave Gel I bought this for my weekend away last September as it was small enough for hand luggage, and have been trying to use it up ever since. Whilst it did the job in terms of shaving my legs, it left them horribly dry and itchy, worse than I can remember experiencing with any other product. Not for me!
Repurchase? Nope.
The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil I promise I'm not employed by The Body Shop! I just genuinely enjoy using their products and this is another one which has slotted beautifully in my routine, I'll be sorry to see it go. It smells gorgeous and works really well to dissolve and remove the last traces of make-up, oil and general grime from my skin at the end of the day; I use it as a second cleanse after removing the bulk of my make-up with a micellar water and it's been working well for me. It's also lasted amazingly well, like about eight months.
Repurchase? Probably.
Dr Organic+ Olive Oil Body Scrub This has been a really nice product to have in the shower for a good old scrub of my limbs; it's left my legs feeling super smooth without being dry, tight or irritated. The formula is actually pretty spot on, leaving my skin feeling hydrated due to the oils, but without a sticky residue. It's hard to explain but I did really like this scrub!
Repurchase? Maybe, though I'd like to try other Dr Organic+ ranges! I'm also currently using the scrub from The Body Shop's Chocomania range which is amazing.
January Empties 2
COLAB Dry Shampoo in Tokyo + Rio These minis have been the perfect way to try out the various COLAB scents; I really liked the tropical fragrance of Rio, but was less keen on Tokyo's oriental notes. That's just me, though, and obviously these things are pretty subjective - I'm just a fan of fruity fragrances! I really rather like the formula of these little beauties, too, finding that they work reasonably well to freshen up my roots, with far less powdery white residue than other dry shampoos I've tried. Winner!
Repurchase? Yes, although I'm not sure which fragrance yet.
Mitchum Advanced Powder Fresh Roll-On Deodorant This is an essential for me and it's the only deodorant I buy - for the simple reason that it's the only one that works for me! There's no pretty way of putting it but I sweat pretty easily and especially in a job like mine (I'm a carer), it's so important to me to have a good deodorant.
Repurchase? Already have.
The Body Shop Argan Body Butter This 50ml tub was actually a freebie for renewing my Love Your Body membership, and I've really enjoyed using it. The Argan range isn't one I'd tried previously but I found this body butter really thick and luxurious, and whilst the scent was overridingly Shea, it still smelt beautiful. I'd definitely consider buying this one again, and others from the Argan line.
Repurchase? Probably.
The Body Shop Rainforest Radiance Hair Butter I'm not too sure how I ended up with the coloured hair version of this hair butter but that's beside the point; I was pretty unimpressed with this. Although it smelt beautiful, it didn't really feel like it did much for my hair, which is super dry at the ends. It drank this up like nobody's business but didn't really seem to feel any better for it.
Repurchase? No, although I'd try the Rainforest Moisture version for dry hair to see if that suits me any more.
Crabtree & Evelyn Citron Honey & Coriander Ultra Moisturising Hand Therapy This was a freebie in a Boots 3 for 2 offer and I was actually surprised by how much I liked it; aside from the lovely citrussy scent, it had a really nice light texture which absorbed readily and left my hands feeling hydrated. It was actually perfect to keep in my pocket at work for on-the-go hand moisturisation!
Repurchase? Yes!
So that's another nice little lot for the recycling! I used to be so bad at having four or five of the same type of product open at once, but for the last year or so I've been finding it quite satisfying to use one product at once until it's finished, before starting a new one. Do you like to use beauty products one by one, or are you more of an options kind of person? Have you tried any of these products?

xo

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Wishlist: Makeup Storage

Since moving back in with my parents last August, my make-up storage has been less than ideal; I've got way less space than I'm used to and as a consequence, a significant chunk of my make-up has basically been neglected for six months. This makes me sad, so I've been consoling myself by looking at pretty alternative storage solutions - most of these would also make lovely desk storage for pens, pencils, and other bits and pieces - I'm all about the versatility!
Pretty Makeup Storage
Ceramic Black & Copper Tumbler, George at Asda, £5
Large Ribbed Glass Storage Jar, Wilkinson's, £5
Gold Spot Ceramic Tumbler, George at Asda, £3
8-Piece Interlocking Bin Set, Lakeland, £7.99
Heart Glass Lantern, Wilkinson's, £3
Metal Design Pen Pot, Wilkinson's, £1.15
Faux Rattan Storage Tray, Lakeland, £3.49
Square Stackable Boxes, Lakeland, £9.99
I really like pretty jars, I'm not a fan of the whole acrylic drawers storage thing for make-up - Wilkinson's do a lovely selection of jars in both the bathroom and office/stationery ranges, which could obviously be re-purposed for make-up brushes, mascaras, eyeliners etc. George at Asda also have some gorgeous tumblers which look a lot more expensive than they actually are, I love the gold spotty tumbler! Lakeland is pretty much my favourite store, I could lose hours of my life in there; as well as the lovely faux-rattan tray, they also do a fab range of dividers and organisers to help keep everything in its place. I know I said I'm not a fan of acrylic but the stackable boxes would be perfect for keeping little bits together like single eyeshadows that don't get used as often.
How do you store your make-up and keep everything organised? Are there any sites or stores you'd recommend me having a look at?

xo

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Five To Help | Fake Awake

Recently, one thing and another has meant I've been needing to function on far less than the optimum amount of sleep. Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I value my sleep and how truly terrible I am at getting up in the mornings, so I hope you can appreciate the importance of honing my morning routine to take as little time as possible - if it means I can manage an extra four minutes in bed, I am all over that! All that said, I do like to look as presentable as possible, and so a quick-but-effective make-up routine is a must as far as I'm concerned.
Top Five Fake Awake Bbloggers
I tend to wake up with super-puffy eyes, which certain family members find hilarious; it's really not a good look, at all. I find that washing my face as soon as possible after I get up helps to wake me up, and I tend to press a cold flannel over my eyes for a few seconds after cleansing and before toning, as I find this really helps to take down the puffiness. I then whap on (technical term!) my eye cream and moisturiser, and give those a few minutes to soak in while I get dressed, sort my bag out for the day, brush my hair, that sort of thing... Then it's time to get a face on!
Faking Awake FOTD
[Products used: MAC Prep + Prime; Bourjois 123Perfect CC Cream; Soap & Glory Kick-Ass Concealer in '01 Light'; Benefit High Beam; Essence All About Matt Setting Powder; Deborah Milano Natural Blusher in 'Cherry'*; MUA Pro Brow Kit; GOSH Forever Eyeshadow Stick in '02 Beige'; Soap & Glory Thick & Fast Mascara]
Highlighter is a godsend for brightening up dull, tired-looking skin and making your face look a lot healthier and generally more alive; I'm loving Benefit's High Beam at the moment, finding that three or four dots along the top of each cheekbone, blended in with the fingers, work wonders to lift my complexion. A good concealer for shadows in the under-eye area goes a long way to waking the face up, and I'm a massive fan of Soap & Glory's Kick-Ass Concealer. This little compact actually contains two shades, a yellow-toned one which I use under my eyes and a more neutral-toned one which covers any blemishes rather nicely. After setting my base with powder, a sweep of blusher adds a bit of colour back into my face and prevents me having to rock the deathly pale look of the recently deceased. I'm having a bit of a revival of love for Deborah Milano's Natural Blusher in 'Cherry'*, which is a super-pigmented shade and requires an extremely light hand. That said, it builds up beautifully to give a healthy flush of colour to the cheeks and it's been working well for me lately. Onto the eyes - I really enjoy GOSH's Forever Eyeshadow in the shade 'Beige', which is a shimmery champagne type shade; it's quick and easy to apply and works well along the lashline as a liner to really open and brighten the eyes up, blended all over the lid for a quick shadow look, or as a base for powder shadows to prolong wear. Finally, a quick coat of mascara only takes a few seconds to apply but I find it really helps to bring a look together; my all-time favourite is Soap & Glory's Thick & Fast Mascara as it's a great jet-black colour and gives my lashes length, definition and volume.
So there you have it! Do you have any top tricks for faking a wide-awake look for early mornings after late nights? What are your must-have products for brightening your face up and making yourself look alive?

xo
[*Products provided for consideration.]

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Review: Yves Rocher Long-Lasting Moisturising Hand Cream*

I was recently sent a few bits and pieces from French beauty brand Yves Rocher to try out, one of which was their Long-Lasting Moisturising Hand Cream*, which I was super-keen to try as I really struggle with dry hands, due to how much I have to wash them at work!
Review Yves Rocher Long Lasting Moisturising Hand Cream
I really like the way the cream is presented, in a sunny yellow plastic tube with an easy-to-use flip-cap. The product information is printed in both French and English, which is helpful; my GCSE French will only get me so far with beauty products, unfortunately! The English version gives you the following information: "Formulated with protective organic arnica, this cream cares for your hands: • It instantly and lastingly moisturises • It offers protection from external aggressions • Your skin regains its supple softness. Apply daily. Gently massage until cream is absorbed."
Yves Rocher Hand Beauty Care
I've been keeping this tube on my bedside table as the 75ml size is just a little too large for carrying around with me; I tend to keep a tube of hand-cream in my pocket at work to apply on-the-go, so this would just be a bit on the bulky side. I apply this at bedtime and first thing in the morning, using roughly the amount shown below and massaging gently until it's absorbed; I find the cream soaks in fairly quickly and leaves my hands feeling smooth but not sticky or greasy. There's a pleasant floral/botanical-type scent to the product which fades upon application, lasting only a minute or two on the hands.
Yves Rocher Long Lasting Moisturising Hand Cream
Formulated without parabens and using natural oils and waxes in place of petroleums and paraffins, this hand cream is ideal for my dry & sensitive eczema-prone skin; it's been working well to keep my hands at the dry-and-itchy level, rather than cracked-and-sore as they often are, particularly during the colder winter months! If you're looking for an affordable and effective natural hand cream, this is a great place to start and one I'd definitely recommend picking up! Yves Rocher Long-Lasting Moisturising Hand Cream is priced at £3.90 for 75ml of product, though it's currently better than half price at just £1.80, which makes it an absolute bargain!! It's also available in a handbag-friendly 30ml tube, priced at just £1.50.

xo
[*Product provided for consideration. This does not affect my review in any way.]

Friday, 23 January 2015

Say Hello to Minted.com*

I've recently been introduced to Minted.com*, a beautiful site offering stationery and art pieces from a global community of designers. From beautiful, customisable notebooks and stationery, save-the-date cards and invitations, right through to gorgeous, unique art prints which would be perfect for gifting, I'm pretty sure Minted have something to offer everyone!
The beautiful Folk Family Tree is available in three colourways on a choice of two paper types, framed or unframed, with prices starting from just $46 and increasing for bigger prints; I think this would be a lovely gift for parents or grandparents, as well as being a beautiful addition to a family home, perhaps as a house-warming gift to yourself (I'm all about treating yourself!).
 
There's a huge selection of art pieces available, from photography and abstract through to geometric prints and typography-based pieces, but the Love print and the Abstract Triangles both really stood out to me as pieces that would work beautifully into any home; again, they're both available framed or unframed and in a huge range of sizes to suit any space and budget.
I am also loving the look of the Maps & Landmarks collection, which features all the US states and a selection of other maps alongside landmarks such as bridges. You can choose to upload your own photos which are fitted to the shape of the map, but I particularly like these foil maps, with this UK foil map available in two sizes starting at just $32; I think the gold foil on the white background is just gorgeous and, again, would work perfectly in almost any home. Other collections include birthstones and constellations, both of which offer some beautiful, eye-catching pieces.
Finally, if you're planning a wedding or know someone who is, Minted could be perfect, offering a huge range of save the date cards and wedding invitations in some stunning designs, which are obviously fully customisable to your own details! I adore this Garden Lights Save The Date Postcard, which is available in quantities starting from 25 for $47, getting cheaper the more you order!
I'd really recommend having a little browse of Minted if you're looking for unusual gifts, something to brighten up your home, or any kind of stationery! There really are some beautiful pieces on offer and I know I'll be coming back to the site time and again in future. Have any of these pieces caught your eye? Is this the sort of thing you'd like to give (or receive!) as a gift?

xo
[*Please note I have been offered store credit in return for this post. This doesn't affect my opinions in any way and all words are my own; I wouldn't be interested in the store credit if I didn't like the products, now, would I!?]

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Review: GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation

I really didn't need anymore base products but somehow a tube of GOSH's X-Ceptional Wear Foundation in shade 12 'Natural' found its way into my basket in Superdrug, and somehow made it through the checkout, and home with me for a little trial... "GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation Long Lasting Makeup with Vitamin E is a soft and creamy makeup with exceptional covering. Gives the skin a matt and beautiful finish which lasts for many hours. The formula is perfume-free." Sounds good, right? But does it live up to its claims?
GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation 12 Natural Review
The packaging isn't anything particularly special, a black hard plastic tube with a screw cap and a medium-sized nozzle which makes for relatively easy application, although I think as I come to the end of the tube it could be quite difficult to get all the product out. I've found this foundation applies best with a dampened BeautyBlender, giving a decent level of coverage and making my skin look bright and even, without looking cakey or overly made-up. The shade I have, 'Natural', is pretty much the perfect match for my pale winter skin, which is amazing as I do tend to struggle to find a good shade match. The coverage isn't quite perfect and I'd still add concealer over dark circles and any particularly bad blemishes, but there's definitely a medium coverage here, and it's buildable to medium-full without going cakey.
GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation Review
I'd argue that the finish is more of a satin than matte, although I always set my base with a powder which does leave a matte finish. The foundation itself lasts really well on my oily skin (bearing in mind that I do always use a primer underneath), easily making it through a ten hour day, although I do find I become a bit shiny quite quickly and need to blot and/or touch up my powder. That said, even without doing this, the coverage is still in place at the end of the day when I get in from work, so I can't really knock the foundation in that respect!
FOTD GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation
As a first foray into GOSH's make-up, I've definitely been impressed and I'm looking forward to seeing what else the brand have to offer in the near future! GOSH's X-Ceptional Wear Foundation is available from Superdrug, priced at £7.99 for 35ml, in a choice of six shades; there's currently up to £5 off GOSH products so now would be the perfect time to treat yourself! Have you tried any of GOSH's base products? What would you recommend I try next from the brand?

xo

Monday, 19 January 2015

New Year, New... Everything!? | A Wishlist

One of the things I always find in the first few weeks of a new year, is the overwhelming urge to throw away all my accumulated junk and replace tired, worn items with shiny new pieces! Obviously this would be very wasteful, not to mention impractical, particularly when I'm meant to be saving up for a car... That doesn't mean there aren't a handful of pieces I've got my eye on, though! From knitwear through to notebooks, here are a few things I'd love to freshen up every aspect of my life.
New Year, New... Everything!? Wishlist
Aida Black Striped Knit, Blue Vanilla, £15
Dark Romance Rule Leather Notebook, Paperchase, £15
GOSH Forever Eyeshadows in BlueGreenLight Copper & Plum, Superdrug, £5.99 each
Black & Gold Polka Dots, Pink & Blue Floral, Green Geo and 
Golden Zig Zag Washi Tapes, £2-£3 each
Mini Capri Mercury Glass Candle, Anthropologie, £10
Wooden 4-Drawer Heart Chest, Matalan, £40
Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser, Bee Good, £11.50
Sterling Silver Cut-Out Triangle Ring, Accessorize, £12
Pink Knitted Slipper Boots, New Look, £7
[Broken links removed, apologies for any inconvenience caused.]
How seriously warm and snuggly does the Aida Knit from Blue Vanilla look?! Christmas may have been and gone but I'm pretty sure it's getting colder as the weeks pass, and I'm finding I need more and more layers to survive the trek to work, so this cosy jumper would be a lovely addition - and it's reduced in the sale, bonus! I absolutely adore the Dark Romance design from Paperchase, and whilst there is no argument whatsoever to be made that I need any more notebooks, I still think this would make a lovely addition to my desk (figuratively speaking, as I'm currently operating from the top bunk in my bedroom at my parents house!). I recently bought one of the GOSH Eyeshadow Sticks in the shade 'Beige' and have found it super easy to wear; it's a beautiful, bright shade that I can apply in seconds, and it lasts so well on my oily lids without any creasing or transfer. There are some lovely shades in the range, but I love the look of these four! Washi tape cannot be described as an essential by any stretch of the imagination but it's just so pretty and there are some really beautiful designs available at the moment; I'm pretty sure I could write a wishlist consisting exclusively of washi tapes! I love the look of mercury glass and candles are a must-have, especially in winter, for creating a warm and cosy atmosphere; what better way to combine the two than this gorgeous Anthropologie candle? I'm not sure what use I'd find for this pretty chest from Matalan - maybe I could re-organise my make-up into it!? I've been feeling in need of a little make-up storage shake-up for the past few months... I've read so many good things about Bee Good, I do see myself trying some of their products this year and the Honey & Propolis cleanser sounds beautiful. Accessorize have some beautiful, delicate pieces in at the moment; I treated myself to a set of stacking rings last week, but I love the simplicity of this triangle cut-out ring. And, finally, these cosy-looking bootie style slippers are reduced at New Look and would be just the ticket for keeping my feet warm until summer gets here!!
Do you get the craving for new things in the new year? Do you like the look of any of the pieces I've picked out here? Have you treated yourself to anything new and lovely?

xo
[Please note this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for clicks and/or purchases. This contributes to the running costs of Just Jess, and I have not been paid to write this post.]

Saturday, 17 January 2015

NOTD: Lollipops 'Voyage à Paris'

Lollipops isn't a brand I'm overly familiar with, although apparently they started out making accessories fifteen years ago, diversifying into beauty in 2010. I received this nail polish in a Birchbox a few months back now; 'Voyage à Paris' is a beautiful bright, classic red shade which I've found to be opaque within two coats, drying quickly to a super high-gloss finish. This is the sort of shade that suits everyone and is a real staple to have within your nail polish collection. Photos below show two coats of 'Voyage à Paris' with no base or top coat - naughty, I know!
Lollipops Voyage à Paris NOTD
NOTD Lollipops Voyage à Paris
'Voyage à Paris' is available exclusively from Birchbox, priced at £7 for 10ml. It's a gorgeous shade and, although not particularly unusual, its high quality means it's definitely one I'd recommend adding to your stash, as you can never go wrong with a classic red - I actually wore this on my first date with my boyfriend! Have you heard of Lollipops before? What do you think to 'Voyage à Paris'?

xo

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Underhyped Brands: Boots Botanics

You know those brands that you use a whole handful of products from, but never really hear much about? I decided it was high time I shared a couple of those, the products I use and why I love them. Maybe you'll discover a new favourite brand! Today I'm looking at the Botanics range at Boots, which is a really affordable range and there are often offers running taking the prices to absolute bargain levels. I'm currently using seven of their products, mainly from the All Bright range, which aims to counteract dull congested skin.
Underhyped Brands Boots Botanics
Botanics All Bright Micellar 3 in 1 Cleansing Solution | £2.99 here | I use this as my first cleanse of an evening to remove the bulk of my make-up before I go in with a cleansing oil; it seems to do a really good job and it's nice to see just how much gunk and grime comes away on the cotton pad each night.
Botanics All Bright Cleansing Toner | £3.99 here | I have reviewed this product in full if you'd like more details, but suffice to say I absolutely love it; it's my evening toner of choice, containing AHAs which act as chemical exfoliants to helps smooth and brighten the skin without the harshness of manual exfoliants. This is a fab budget-friendly door into exfoliating toners and I honestly don't see myself purchasing anything more expensive when this has been so effective for me.
Botanics All Bright Soothing Eye Make-Up Remover | £3.99 here | This is a bi-phase formula which you shake to activate, and I've found it really effective in gently removing my eye make-up; the oil part of the formula means it lifts away even waterproof mascara without too much hassle. I tend to just hold a cotton pad soaked in remover over my (closed!) eye for around ten seconds, before gently wiping away.
Botanics All Bright Purifying Face Scrub | £3.99 here | I use this every second or third day in the shower; it has quite a similar consistency to the St Ives scrubs so requires a light hand to apply it, and I tend to concentrate on the more congested areas around my nose and chin, but it does work pretty nicely to leave my skin feeling softer and smoother.
Botanics Organic Facial Oil | £9.99 (no longer available) | I've actually reviewed this in full as well, so do click through if you'd like to read more about the product. In short, though, I tend to use this most evenings before I apply my moisturiser just to give my skin a little helping hand. I do have oily skin and I haven't noticed and increase in oiliness or blemishes from using this, so if you have oily skin and have been scared to use an oil, this is a budget-friendly way to give it a try and I'd really recommend picking it up!
Botanics All Bright Cleansing Foam Wash | £3.99 here | I keep this at my boyfriend's for when I stay over, so I don't have to cart all my skincare and toiletries back and forth. This gets used both morning and evening when I'm there; I use it twice in the evening, firstly just massaging in and rinsing well to remove the bulk of my make-up, and then repeating and removing with a warm flannel to ensure my skin in properly clean. In the morning I just use it once, massaging in and rinsing, often in the shower. It works well for me and smells gorgeous!
Botanics Shine Away Invigorating Face Scrub | £2.69 (no longer available) | This also lives at my boyfriend's so I only use it a couple of times per week; it smells lovely and has a really nice, fine texture which leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth but doesn't cause any irritation. I wouldn't like to comment on the mattifying claims as I don't think I use it consistently enough, but it would be an added bonus if it helps keep oiliness under control!
So, those are the Botanics products which currently feature in my skincare routine! As you can see, I use quite a few products and have had good experience with them all; I'd definitely recommend the range as an affordable option which should offer something for most people, including dry skins, oily skins, anti-aging, and the brightening products I use. Have you used any Botanics products? Are there any other products from the range you'd recommend I try?

xo

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Six Mini Reviews #11: Sarah McNamara, Malin & Goëtz, Calvin Klein & More...

My mission to clear out my beauty sample stash is continuing into 2015, so with that said here is my first installment of samples I've used up! I really like these beauty minis as a way of trying new products which I mightn't otherwise get to, and it's an affordable way of trying higher-end products without having to invest. I think I've got quite a nice mix of products in this post, so I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts.
Six Mini Beauty Reviews 11
Six Mini Reviews 11
Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer Hydroactive Microderm | Well that's a bit of a mouthful! This generous sample lasted me a good few weeks of using in the shower every other day, and I really enjoyed using it; aside from a lovely scent (always a plus!), the consistency was spot-on for my preferences, and it gave just the right amount of exfoliation to leave my skin feeling smooth but not scrubbed raw. A definite winner for me, although the £25 price tag for 50ml of product would put me off buying the full-size for the time being. Maybe one day!
Agave Healing Oil | This cute little phial of hair oil was a Birchbox sample which I've been using on the ends of my hair after washing, whilst still wet, for a few weeks. My hair is waist-length so the ends are pretty prone to dryness, and I'm keen to try anything that helps to minimise split ends and breakages. This oil has a lovely light formula which soaked into my hair quickly without leaving any residue or greasy feeling, just silky soft hair. It also smells beautiful which is always a bonus! At £16 for 60ml, this is a mid-price hair oil option and one I'd love to buy in the future.
Ghost Eclipse Perfume | This was a magazine sample and I found that I really liked the rollerball packaging; it somehow felt like less product was being wasted as I could apply it directly to my skin without half of it being lost in the air around me. This is very much my type of scent, fresh and fruity with notes of sweet bergamot, lemon, mandarin, apple and peach. It might be a fragrance more suited to summer but that wouldn't put me off wearing it year-round, and starting at £24.50 for 30ml, this is an affordable choice.
Malin & Goëtz Grapefruit Face Cleanser | Another magazine sample, this cleansing gel smells absolutely beautiful and has been my morning cleanser of choice for the past few weeks; it lathers nicely and leaves my skin feeling clean and refreshed to start the day, removing any traces of oil and grime which may have built up overnight. It also wakes me up nicely! At £25 for 236ml, this isn't cheap but a little does go a long way and the massive bottle would last an age, so I'd definitely consider purchasing this if I was feeling particularly flush.
Calvin Klein Euphoria Eau de Parfum | I'm not altogether sure that these little magazine samples even count as actual samples, but I am in the habit of cutting them out and keeping them as they're handy for refreshing perfume through the day without having to carry a full-sized bottle around. The little wipe in the sachet is the perfect size for popping a little bit of scent onto the collarbones and wrists. I did like Euphoria in a generic kind of way; it's nice and I'd wear it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to do so, with prices from £37.50 for 30ml.
Ilcsi Flavonoid Extra Mask | This came in a Birchbox and I have to say using it was a bizarre experience; a little like spreading jam on my face, both in texture and in scent, although it dried to more the consistency of yoghurt... It did smell pretty nice, though, and once washed off my skin was left feeling smooth and hydrated and looking a bit brighter; at £39.95 for 50ml, this is an expensive product (especially considering the 5ml sample was only enough for one usage!) and as I tend to go for clarifying/deep-cleansing masks above brightening, it's probably not something I'll be buying in the future although it was nice to try as a one-off.
Have you tried any of these products? What's the best beauty product you've discovered through a sample? Do you have a favourite way of picking up samples, or of making sure they get used?

xo

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Review: Essence I ♥ Extreme Volume Mascara

Hello and welcome to my first beauty review of 2015, and we're starting as we mean to go on with a budget-friendly mascara - but is it worth spending your cash on? I received Essence's I ♥ Extreme Volume Mascara as part of a giveaway prize last year, and have been using it as my day-to-day mascara for the past few weeks. "Mascara for extreme volume; ultra black; ophthalmologically tested."
Essence I Heart Extreme Volume Mascara
First things first, I can't help but think the tube is just too chunky, I can't see why it needs to be so fat - it makes it harder to store and means it takes up more space in my make-up bag so it's less than ideal for travelling with. Maybe a minor thing but the little things can add up! That aside, the packaging is quite nice, with the product name printed in hot pink on the black tube - simple but effective. The wand features a standard brush-style application - none of these new-fangled plastic combs or spoon-shaped things here! - though the brush is a little on the larger side.
Essence I Heart Extreme Mascara Wand
I find that the mouth of the tube doesn't tend to remove excess product from the tip of the wand, meaning you have to remember to do this yourself or risk ending up with mascara-blobs in the corners of your eyes - never a good look! The large brush makes application a little tricky, as it can be hard to reach the inner corner lashes without getting mascara blobs on the lids - see photo below...
Essence Mascara Review
I'm lucky in that I have quite long lashes as it is, so in a mascara I'm generally just looking for a jet-black colour and a nice amount of volume, rather than anything extreme in terms of added length. For me, though, I felt that this mascara actually made my lashes look shorter somehow. Seriously, I don't know how it would achieve that, but everytime I apply it I feel like my lashes end up looking kinda stumpy...?!
FOTD Essence Mascara
[Also wearing: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer; Rimmel Lasting Finish 25H Foundation in '100 Ivory'; Benefit High Beam; Soap & Glory Kick-Ass Concealer in 'Light'; Makeup Gallery Smoothly Does It Pressed Powder; NARS Powder Blusher in 'Douceur'; MUA Pro Brow Kit; GOSH Forever Eyeshadow Metallic Eyeshadow Stick in '02 Beige'; Essence I ♥ Extreme Volume Mascara]
I should mention that this mascara lasts well - I've not experienced any flaking or smudging, even when wearing it for 14+ hours - and removes reasonably well with an eye make-up remover on cotton pads. I do get a nice dark, black colour but, rather than adding volume as it claims, it has a tendency to clump a little if you try to apply more than one coat, and that alongside the fact that it somehow manages to make my lashes look shorter means this isn't a winner for me! All in all, the little things have added up to make this a pretty poor offering as far as I'm concerned; the excessively chunky tube, the mascara blobs not being removed from the wand, and the way it looks on my lashes, mean I won't be repurchasing this and I don't really feel like I could recommend it, though I wouldn't be put off trying other Essence mascaras as for the price they have the potential to be an absolute bargain! Have you tried Essence's I ♥ Extreme Volume Mascara? Did you have a similar experience? Would you recommend any other Essence mascaras, or should I give them a miss?

xo

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2014 | My Year In Books

Last year, I set myself a challenge of reading fifty new books (that is, books I'd not read previously, not necessarily new books!) over the course of the year, and I was really pleased with myself to actually exceed this target! I kept a note in my Evernote app on my phone, adding each book to my list as I completed it, and it was really satisfying to see how the list grew. I decided I'd share my year in books along with my highlights and a couple of lowlights...
2014 Year In Books
A warning; this could get to be a very lengthy post! First up, here's the full list of books I finished:
  1. The Man With The Shattered World - A. R. Luria
  2. The Winter Ghosts - Kate Mosse
  3. The Windchime Legacy - A. W. Mykel
  4. I Am Malala - Malala Yousafzai
  5. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman
  6. The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards
  7. Little Children - Tom Perrotta
  8. The Rosary Girls - Richard Montanari
  9. The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 - Roald Dahl
  10. Relentless - Simon Kernick
  11. Ellis Island - Kate Kerrigan
  12. Confessions of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella
  13. Wedding Night - Sophie Kinsella
  14. Need - Carrie Jones
  15. How Did All This Happen? - John Bishop
  16. Entice - Carrie Jones
  17. After Obsession - Carrie Jones & Steven E. Wedel
  18. Tithe - Holly Black
  19. Ironside - Holly Black
  20. Valiant - Holly Black
  21. Fire - Kristin Cashore
  22. We Have Always Lived In The Castle - Shirley Jackson
  23. American Gods - Neil Gaiman
  24. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
  25. Down And Out In Paris And London - George Orwell
  26. The Last Lord of the Moors - Isabella Brooke
  27. Teaching The Old Duke New Tricks - Isabella Brooke
  28. As The Crow Flies - Damien Boyd
  29. The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith
  30. The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith
  31. The Genesis Code - John Case
  32. Middlesex - Jeffery Eugenides
  33. The Girl With All The Gifts - M. R. Carey
  34. The Fault In Our Stars - John Green
  35. Never Saw It Coming - Linwood Barclay
  36. Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life - Nina Stibbe
  37. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson
  38. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  39. Daughter - Jane Shemilt
  40. The Aftermath - Rhidian Brook
  41. Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld
  42. Hannibal - Thomas Harris
  43. Hidden - Marianne Curley
  44. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler
  45. Broken - Marianne Curley
  46. Together Apart - Natalie Martin
  47. Finding Emma - Steena Holmes
  48. Game - Justine Elyot
  49. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
  50. The Girl Who Never Came Back - Amy Cross
  51. Blacklands - Belinda Bauer
  52. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Phew! 52 books. I'm actually really proud of my achievement, and whilst some of these were tough going (Pride and Prejudice, I'm looking at you!), for the most part I really enjoyed my year of reading. Here are some of my favourites and not-so-favourites; these are by no means meant to be reviews or anything like that, just a little sentence or two on what I liked about my favourite books of the year.
American Gods, Neil Gaiman I'd not read any of Gaiman's work until last year, but I really enjoyed American Gods; the concept of the story was one which really appealed to me and I think it worked beautifully, Gaiman's writing style is right up my street and I'm definitely keen to read more of his work. American Gods is definitely a longer read and it did take me a couple of weeks, if memory serves, but I found it well worth the effort. I also really enjoyed Neverwhere, which was the first book of Gaiman's I read.
The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith I started this knowing full well that it was written by J.K.Rowling and I have to admit, I half-wish I'd had the opportunity to read it not knowing. That aside, I loved the book - the characters were really nicely built up, the storyline drew me in, and I finished feeling like I'd got to know Cormoran Strike. I was keen to read more and actually pre-ordered Silkworm on my Kindle, which again I really enjoyed, and I can't wait for the next installment.
Middlesex, Jeffery Eugenides I read The Virgin Suicides a few years back now and remember being in two minds about it (I wanted to love it and found the whole concept so interesting, but felt like something was lacking in the execution). I happened to flick through Middlesex at a friend's and ended up being unable to stop thinking about the story, so I bought it and found it an absolutely fascinating read. The idea behind the tale and its presentation were spot-on for me. Again, Eugenides is an author I'd love to read more of.
The Girl With All The Gifts, M. R. Carey I think this was my favourite book of the year, I absolutely loved the premise and the execution - such a good story and so beautifully told. I really felt like I got to know the characters, and became invested in their lives. I started this without really knowing what to expect (the blurb gave very little away) but quickly got hooked in! Another author I'll be looking to read more from in 2015.
Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld I was actually sent this to review (you can read my thoughts here) and as I mentioned in my post, I really liked the idea behind this tale and how the two halves of the story worked together and reflected each other, progressing one alongside the other. I started reading Westerfeld's Uglies series but got waylaid by Pride and Prejudice so I only actually read the first book, so the rest of them are on my list for this year.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler As a Psychology graduate, I found this utterly fascinating! I won't give away the premise of the story but suffice it to say, you should expect the unexpected with this one - it's a book that's stuck with me and I actually bought this for my best friend for Christmas, I enjoyed it so much. In one way, it's a tale about a typical family, but it's also a lot more than that.
Blacklands, Belinda Bauer Indulging my love of the morbid and macabre, I really enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons, not least because I find serial killers endlessly fascinating! I was also glad that Bauer kept her nerve, so to speak, and went with the logical ending (to my mind) rather than going back on herself somewhat in pursuit of a happy ending.
Books Read in 2014
Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell I wanted to love this, I really did! I actually enjoyed the first third or so of the book and thought it had a lot of promise... And then it kind of lost me, and the rest of the book was a real drag to get through. I loved Animal Farm so I was really disappointed that this went downhill so rapidly for me, although it didn't put me off also reading Down and Out in Paris and London... which kind of lead me to conclude that Orwell isn't for me and Animal Farm was a one-off.
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen I was so hopeful when I bought this! I'd been meaning to read it for years and this edition was so beautiful I decided it was a sign... Unfortunately, the pretty cover didn't really make up for the fact that this was a supremely dull story. I'm sorry, I know it's a classic, but it just did nothing for me and I managed to drag it out for around two months - I could have read another ten books in that time but I just didn't want to read it! Nothing happens!? Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't think Austen is for me.
All in all, I've really enjoyed my year in books, and putting this post together has been a lovely look back on my reading over the past twelve months. I'll definitely be keeping a list again this year to keep track of what I read, and I've got a little idea for a bit of journaling, too, which I might share if I get time to actually get round to doing it! What was your favourite book of 2014? Have you read any of these? Any recommendations for me to read in 2015?

xo

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

2015 | Hopes & Plans

I've already shared my aims & goals for 2015, as well as a look back on the year that was 2014, but I thought I'd pop up a quick post about some of the exciting things I've got planned for the first few months of the new year. I'm really looking forward to this year and spending more time with friends, doing things I love, gaining new experiences and making new memories!
2015 Plans
Gigs | I'm a huge fan of live music, which is unfortunately something which has had to take a bit of a back-seat over the last couple of years for financial reasons. I've already got a few gigs booked for this year though, including The Used on Valentine's Day with a bunch of friends, to go and act like we're sixteen again... I'm also going to see The Blackout on their final tour (I am literally devastated that they're splitting up), as well as McBusted at the end of March - I'm so excited!!
Travel | Towards the end of last year, my best friend and I booked a Wowcher holiday at £89 each including flights and accommodation, for a weekend in a mystery European city; we picked our dates and the airport we wanted to fly from, and then found out where we'd be going. To our delight we discovered we'll be having a weekend in Milan in March which I absolutely can't wait for!! I've not been to Italy before and I'm getting suitably prepared with the Italian phrasebook my brother got me for Christmas... Even if the only thing I've learnt so far is, "The lunch was delicious!". We're fully aware the hotel isn't going to be great, and our flights are at pretty anti-social hours, but who cares right!? A weekend in Italy for under £100? We won't be complaining, that's for sure.
Work | As I've mentioned before, I recently managed to get a voluntary role within the NHS doing the job I hope to do, one day per week. It's great that I'll be able to fit it in around my current, paid job, although it will mean having to cut back how much overtime I can do which is a shame. I admit it being voluntary is less than ideal, and the idea of working in a defined role in a voluntary capacity for the NHS grates on me a little, but I can't afford to pass up the experience and I'm really looking forward to getting started there and seeing what it brings! I've also been put in touch with a lady who has my ultimate, long-term dream job, and I've arranged a meeting with her next week for a chat and to discuss an opportunity (paid!) she has coming up in the near future. Things are looking good career-wise and I'm excited to see how it all pans out.
Life | One big thing I'm looking forward to this year is passing my driving test and the freedom that'll afford me; the worst thing about moving back home for me has been the loss of my independence, as my parents live way out in the sticks and I have to get a lift even to get the bus into town to see friends or to go to work. It's been a nightmare, especially over Christmas when the buses haven't been running and I've had to ask my mum to drive 30 miles to pick me up from work at 9pm on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day - she's a star, is my mum. So, yes, learning to drive is a big one. My theory test is booked for next week (fingers crossed!!) and I'm hoping to take my actual test a month or so after that. I'm also really looking forward to competing in Total Warrior in June, I've volunteered at the events for the past two summers so to be taking part this year is super exciting! I've also been talked into entering a 10km run a few weeks before that which I'm strangely looking forward to, although I do need to get training...
So those are a few of the things I've got planned for 2015, so far! What are you most looking forward to this year? Any big plans? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

xo

Saturday, 3 January 2015

2014 | Looking Back

I've already shared my aims and goals for 2015, but I thought it would be nice to have a little look back over the year that has been and share how I got on with my goals for 2014. I have to admit, 2014 has probably been the toughest year I've ever had, for a few reasons which I'm not really going to go into; suffice it to say a relationship break-up and having to move back in with my parents were not part of my plan! I'm proud of the way I've been making the best of things, though, taking the opportunity of saving a little cash now I'm living at home to start taking driving lessons. I've been applying for jobs left, right and centre for something a little more relevant to my long-term career goals, and recently got a one day a week voluntary role which will fit around my current, paid job. I'll be starting in the next few weeks, so hopefully, that'll get me the experience I need to secure a full-time, paid role sooner rather than later! Living at home has also allowed me to take a step back and really focus on myself and my friendships which have for one reason or another been a bit neglected. I've been taking the time to keep in touch with friends and trying to see them a lot more often, which has been really nice; one of those friends came round a few days back to take some photos of my dog which have turned out beautifully (see below!*) and I'm hoping to get one made up into a canvas or print for my Mum. Finally, in the last couple of months I've started seeing someone new; he's a lovely guy and I'm looking forward to seeing what's to come in 2015!
This time last year, I shared my goals for 2014, and unfortunately I lost track of them somewhat over the course of the year. Admittedly, the one about sorting out finances with the ex became a bit of a non-starter when we split up, but I shifted that slightly and am proud to say I've completely paid off my credit card bill. Making healthier choices in life is something I do on-and-off - I seem to go through phases of eating properly and exercising, then kind of lose motivation. With a concrete goal for 2015 (Total Warrior, I'm looking at you!), I'm hoping to stick to this a bit better. I'm pleased with how I've been applying for jobs and working to gain relevant experience for the career I want to pursue; I feel like that goal was one I managed to keep in sight over the year and again, I'm carrying this one forward for 2015. Finally, the blog; it's been hard fitting it in around work commitments and everything else, but I do feel like keeping at this little hobby is worth the effort and I'm pretty happy with my space on the interweb. I know it's far from being the best blog out there and there are weeks when I barely manage to get a post up, but all in all I'm glad to have it and I enjoy it, so I'm hoping to be able to keep it up as we head into 2015! How do you feel as you look back on 2014? Are there any big moments that stand out to you from the year? What are you most proud of having achieved?

xo
[*Please note the images in this post are not taken by me; they link to their source and I'd really appreciate if you could visit the page!]

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Hello 2015!

Happy New Year, and hello 2015!! It doesn't seem five minutes since I was sitting down to write this post for 2014; how a year has flown past, and how much has changed in that time!! I'll be doing a reflective post over the next few days so I won't dwell on the year past too much; today is very much a day for looking forward as far as I'm concerned. I've actually been giving a little bit of thought over the past couple of weeks, to the things I'd like to achieve over the next twelve months.
Hello 2015
• Clear the overdraft and start saving. This one is pretty self-explanatory, I feel; I'm still pretty far into my overdraft following four years at university and since I'm starting to have to pay interest on it, now is a good time to start working on reducing it and hopefully clearing it altogether by the end of the year. It's nice to have as a buffer zone but I'd like to be living more towards the other end of it! I'd also like to be able to start putting away a little money each month for the future.
• Get a full-time, paid Assistant Psychologist job. This is something I've been working towards in 2014, which I'll mention in my post about the year past, but it's definitely a more concrete aim for the first half of this year. I have two relevant degrees and a fair bit of experience, so hopefully it's just a case of time and applying for as many jobs as I can.
• Improve my decision-making skills. This may be a bit of an odd one but decisions are something I really struggle with; I'm a bit of a commitment-phobe and I really do find it hard to decide. It somehow seems harder to make small, inconsequential decisions where the outcome is unimportant (case in point - what kind of takeaway shall we order? Cue utter panic on my part!) so I really want to work on my ability to say "F**k it, we'll just get pizza!", or whatever. Bigger decisions I'm generally okay with as rationalising is something of a strength of mine...
• Pass my driving test. Another obvious one; I put off learning to drive for so long, but I started taking lessons back in September and I have my theory test booked in later this month, so I'm hoping to have my full license by the end of February - fingers crossed! I'm getting to the point now where I'm enjoying driving and feeling pretty confident out and about, which is nice, so hopefully this one will be fairly easy (if pricey!) to tick off. Then it's just a case of buying a car, and insuring it... Eek!
• Complete Total Warrior in under two hours. Completing isn't really a question as I've already entered Total Warrior in Leeds in June, but I'd really like to get a time I'm proud of - which is going to mean doing a bit of training... So, I'm going to be dusting off my running shoes and trying to get back into the habit of taking care of my health and fitness a bit better! It's a 12.5km obstacle run so I think two hours is a realistic time to aim for, but one I'd still be pretty pleased with.
• Read 50 new books. This was an aim I had for 2014 and I actually went a little over my target, but I did find having a specific goal in mind really pushed me to keep reading new things and get books finished so I could add them to my list - although I admit, Pride and Prejudice did take me about six weeks... Would anyone be interested in a post on my highlights from my year of reading?
So, those are my little aims and goals for 2015; I think they're all fairly achievable with a bit of effort on my part, and will hopefully push me to have a happy, healthy and productive year! I'd love to hear what New Year's Resolutions, if any, you're making this year - do you have any top tips for sticking to them? Are any of yours similar to mine? I hope you all had an amazing night celebrating and bringing in the new year, and that 2015 will be happy and healthy - here's to the next twelve months!!

xo
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