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Saturday, 31 December 2016

In Retrospect | December 2016

I don't quite know how to start this; it seems a little bit obvious to say, "Where has December gone!?" but that's kind of how I feel! Another month seems to have just disappeared on me, in a weird kind of way, because the first two-thirds of the month flew by, and the week since Christmas has dragged on without me managing to feel like I've achieved anything at all. Typical.
...Unless eating my own weight in cheese counts as an achievement?
I haven't finished a huge number of products, compared to last month, but nonetheless I'm popping a few empties into the recycling this weekend!
Will RepurchaseCollection Sheer Loose Powder | I have no idea how many of these I must have been through! Cheap and cheerful but it does the job. I ran out unexpectedly (because I'm a dozy cow - the packaging is see-through!) so I had to pick up what was available in Asda on my dinnerbreak, which was the Rimmel Match Perfection powder, but no doubt I'll get this again in future. // Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream | I have so many eye cream samples to use - does anyone else find they last an absolute age!? - but this is one of my favourites that I've tried, so I will repurchase it at some point. I just need to remember to use it regularly!
Might Repurchase: Dr Organic Vitamin E Conditioner | I quite liked this but didn't think it was amazing; I might pick it up if it was on a good offer, but I won't go out of my way to buy it again. // Schwarzkopf Supersoft Fixing Hairspray | I rarely use hairspray and, truth be told, this isn't actually empty - the spray has just broken so I'm chucking it anyway! I do quite like this one and hairspray is handy to have but, again, I wouldn't go out of my way to buy this particular product again. // Boots Tea Tree Oil | I love tea tree oil! I actually replaced this with an unbranded one off Amazon, but I would buy the Boots one again - I just wasn't going into town and really needed a new bottle. // Vitamasques Pomegranate Firming & Lifting Sheet Mask* | I did enjoy using this, although for some reason I don't tend to reach for sheet masks. I don't think I'd buy this particular one again as my skin doesn't really need firming and lifting yet, but I'd like to try other masks from the Vitamasques range! // Balance Me Revitalising Hand & Body Wash | I really enjoy using this as a shower gel and, whilst I probably wouldn't buy it myself as it's quite pricey, I'll definitely grab it if it pops up as a magazine freebie again!

Sample Sachets.
Erm. Whoops. I totally neglected my sample stash in December - we'll blame it on too much else going on! I'll do better in January, hopefully.

December Goals.
As always, I set myself some goals at the beginning of the month, so let's take a look at how those worked out for me!
See friends at least twice. I had a catch-up with one of my best friends before he jetted off to Bali for Christmas (from where he has complained about the sea being too loud, the jammy bugger!), cooked a Christmas dinner with a group of friends, went to a Christmas Eve fun run for a catch-up with a few more friends, and had all the usual Christmassy gatherings. It's been lovely!
Keep up going to the gym regularly. I have to admit I've been slacking a bit here since Christmas, because the gym is open such awkward hours, but I'll be getting right back into it when I go back to work this week. I've really missed my morning workouts! Up until Christmas I'd been doing pretty well, and I think I made it every day before work which I'm quite proud of.
Have a proper make-up cull. I did this at the start of the month but actually only just put the make-up in the bin. I'm not sure why I was keeping it in a box? Anyway, it's gone now -  I've said goodbye to quite a few dubious-looking lipsticks and eyeshadows and a couple of dried-up mascaras.
Reach 4000 Twitter followers. I fell quite short here, sitting at 3855 as I write this on the evening of the 30th - I was also hoping to reach 1500 on Instagram but again, I missed that and am currently on 1335. I've not been very active on social media this month, however, so it doesn't really come as a surprise!

December Loves.
Christmas is far from my favourite time of year for a number of reasons, but I've been lucky to receive some gorgeous presents (like the tea selection from my brother's lovely girlfriend, and the hedgehog mug in the work Secret Santa!) and have some really fun festive gatherings, which I've enjoyed. I do love that Christmas gives everyone an excuse to get together and catch up with their near and dear.
I was hoping to find the much-coveted blogger favourites Olympus Pen in the Boxing Day sales but alas, it wasn't to be... So I ordered it anyway, promising myself that I'd skip the sales to make up for it. I then promptly treated myself to a YSL Black Opium gift set because I have no self-control, apparently. Ohwell.

My brother graduated earlier in the month, after a tough couple of years where he nearly didn't complete his degree - it hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination but I was so proud of him! ♥
I haven't had time for much blog reading lately, and I have really missed it - but a couple of my favourite posts this month include Charlotte's reflections on sharing your children at Christmas (warning: it's a tear-jerker!), Gwennan's 2017 blogging goals, and Hannah's 10 moments that made 2016 pretty awesome for her! Amongst my own posts, I was really proud of '25 Ways to Practice Self-Care in Five Minutes (Or Less!)', and this is a topic I'm hoping to write more about in the year ahead.

December In Summary.
Overall, December has been crazy busy, and I'm ready for things to slow down a little come January! There have been some highlights for me this month, but overall I've found it pretty tough going, and I know I'm not alone in being glad that today signifies the end of 2016. Have a safe, fun evening if you're celebrating the New Year, and I'll hope to see you here in 2017!

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Saturday, 24 December 2016

RELAUNCH | Latest In Beauty 'Build Your Own Beauty Box'*

I've posted before about Latest In Beauty's Build Your Own Beauty Box service, but they've recently had a re-launch, which you can read about on their site here. The gist of it, though, is that they're now adding a new product to their selection every single day - meaning there's always something new for you to to try! I was kindly invited to build my own beauty box*, so let's have a peek at what I chose...
Latest in Beauty Relaunch
I love The Hero Project's Hyasoft, so I was keen to try their Glow Drops; I received ten 3ml sachets of this, which means I should be able to give it a good go! I've been wanting to try Nip + Fab's Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads for ages, so I'll be giving these a whirl in the New Year; I think this little pot contains five pads, which isn't a huge number and I'd have liked a few more, but I'm not complaining.  I'm always up for trying new Amie products as well, so their New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish found its way into my box; this sounds so lovely and is a really generous 25ml tube. A new brand to me, I also opted to try Jane Iredale's Smooth Affair Primer, which doesn't seem to be available via Latest in Beauty anymore, but I'm looking forward to trying it nonetheless.
Relaunch Latest in Beauty
Living Proof's Healthy Hair Shampoo also seems to have disappeared off the website, but this is an SLS-free shampoo (yay!) and the 60ml bottle I received retails for £11, so I was pretty chuffed to pop this one into my box. Balance Me's Congested Skin Serum sounds like it was made with me in mind - and the 7ml sample should last quite a while. I'm hoping it'll help with the clogged pores on my nose. Elemental Herbology's Facial Detox Purifying Mask also sounds perfect for my skin, which has been playing up lately; this claims to decongest pores and reduce excess sebum, so I'm excited to see how it works for my skin.
Another one that is no longer available, Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid is a bit of a cult favourite and one I've wanted to try for a while - I think this was the first product I added to my box! And finally, the MUA Luxe Paradise Palette features ten gorgeous high-shimmer shades which are perfect for party season... or for work. I've worn this pretty much every day since my box arrived and absolutely love the shade selection.

If you love the idea of building your own beauty box you can do so on Latest In Beauty's site here! You can build a one-off box from £9 for a 3-item box, £15 for six items or £18 for nine items - or you can choose a monthly subscription which is the same price, but includes free postage!
Latest in Beauty also have a range of pre-built Collections to choose from, which you can have a peek at here; these are a selection of themed boxes with prices starting from around £20, and would make the perfect gift for yourself or someone special!
Would you choose any of the same products as me for your own box? What would be your dream product to receive in a beauty box?

[*Product provided for consideration. Post contains affiliate links.]

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Review | Vitamasques Pomegranate Firming Lifting Mask*

I feel like I've been slacking on the sheet masks front, despite them having become a real trend over the past year or so, so I was delighted to be offered the chance to try Vitamasques' Pomegranate Lifting & Firming Mask*. Sheet masks are super easy to use, as all you have to do is slap the mask onto your face (no trying to spread thinly in an even layer), let it sit for the specified time, and whip it off again!
Vitamasques Pomegranate Firming & Lifting Sheet Mask
"A moisturising Korean face mask made with extracts of Pomegranate to moisturise and lift your skin. Inspired by Korean innovation, a triple-layer sheet technology designed to enhance the moisture content within the mask and lead to an increased absorption rate within the skin."
It sounded fairly promising, and I was keen to see what sort of results I'd get from this mask! My skin doesn't require much in the way of firming and lifting (I am only 25, after all!) but it does tend towards dehydration and there are certainly the beginnings of some fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead which I wouldn't mind seeing the back of...
Vitamasques Pomegranate Mask
The triple-layer things made me think this might be quite a thick sheet, but actually it was quite thin and light, making it very comfortable to wear. The sheet was well-soaked in the moisture essence, which meant it adhered nicely to my face, and didn't slip or slide once it was on, so I could get on with what I was doing (taking blog photos, if you're interested!) rather than having to sit/lie still to stop the mask slipping. It fit my face fairly well, though I did need to fold in a couple of places to get it to sit nicely, as you can see below...
Vitamasques Pomegranate Mask Details
Applying to a freshly-cleansed face, I found the mask felt quite cooling on the skin, and once I removed it after the 20 minutes were up, there was plenty of essence left on my skin to pat in. Once done, my skin was left feeling so well-hydrated and noticeably plumper and brighter, which wasn't even a claimed benefit! As I mentioned, I'm not really in a position to comment on the lifting and firming claims yet, although I suspect you'd need to use it more than once to see lasting results in any case. That aside, I did really like this mask as a hydrating, brightening treat for my skin, and I'd certainly be keen to try others from the Vitamasques range.
Vitamasques Pomegranate Sheet Mask
You can find the Vitamasques Pomegranate Firming Lifting Mask on LookFantastic for £3.99 here, or pick up a box of four for £12.99 here to save a couple of quid. You can also check out the rest of the Vitamasques range here; I've got my eye on the Tea Tree Hydrating Moisturising Sheet Mask, also £3.99. Are you a fan of sheet masks? Have you heard of or tried Vitamasques before?

[*Product provided for consideration. Post contains affiliate links.]

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Review | Friction Free Shaving Shave Cream

Friction Free Shaving caused a bit of a stir a few months back when they launched their shaving subscription service, sending you razor blade refills to your door each month, with prices starting from just £3 for four razor heads. I treated myself to the five-blade Samantha in the first place, at £7 per month, but have just downgraded to the mid-level three-blade Frankie at £5 per month to see if I can tell the difference. I've actually got a bit of a stockpile of razor heads (because I only shave my legs about once a week, ha!) so I've paused my deliveries to give me chance to try the new blades and see which I prefer.
Friction Free Shaving Cationic Shave Cream
I have to admit, I wasn't over-enamoured with the Samantha blades - I found that I really didn't get a very close shave and my legs were spiky again within about twelve hours - sad times! Hopefully the Frankie will fare a little better for me. However, FFS also recently launched a Shave Cream, which you can add to your monthly subscription for £6, and so I decided to give it a go as my skin is notoriously sensitive to shaving products.
"Our cationic shave cream is gently charged with positive ions that make your hairs stand on end, giving you the smoothest, closest shave ever. Ain't that the cat's pyjamas."
FFS Shave Cream
With ingredients including Coconut Oil, Sweet Almond Oil and Sweet Orange Oil, I can see why the Friction Free Shave Cream smells as good as it does! I find I need a good-sized dollop of the cream to cover each leg, meaning the tube isn't going to last as long as I'd hoped - so I do think £6 is quite expensive. However, it does give a really nice shave and leaves my legs feeling super-soft and smooth afterwards, with far less irritation or itchiness than I'm used to after shaving, so there's no complaints from me!

My one bugbear is that I don't seem to be able to order the Shave Cream separately - apparently I have to have the blades as well, so if I find that I'm not keen on the Frankie blades either, then I'm not sure what I'll do. I'd like to be able to just buy the Shave Cream as a one-off purchase without necessarily having to have the blades, too. What do you think? Would you try the Friction Free Shave Cream? Have you used their razors? If not you can set up your subscription here!

[Post contains referral link.]

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

25 Ways To Practice Self-Care in 5 Minutes (Or Less!)

I posted a few weeks ago about the benefits of self-care, and since then I've been having a bit of a think about ways to fit the practice into our busy lifestyles. Sure, we'd all love to have plenty of time to be kind to ourselves, pamper ourselves and generally feel like princesses... But in reality, we have jobs to go to, kids to look after, homes to run and lives to live. Self-care can end up getting bumped down the list of priorities and that really doesn't need to be the case, so here are a few ideas of ways to take care of you when you're short on time!
25 ways to practice self-care in five minutes or less
[Photo credit: Wonderfelle Media.]
When we're feeling stressed, run-down or a bit delicate, taking care of our appearance can take a back seat - and I'm not saying that you have to put effort into your appearance if that isn't your thing, not at all! I'm simply saying that I find, and I know I'm not alone, that I feel better when I take care of how I look. So the first few ideas are kind of beauty-related...

01. Neaten up your eyebrows. Just a couple of minutes to pluck out any stray hairs can make all the difference!
02. Give yourself a facial massage. You can do this with your regular moisturiser or a nice facial oil - just spend a few minuts really massaging it into your skin, it's so soothing!
03. Remove tatty nail polish. Five minutes might not be long enough for a full-blown mani, but you can certainly remove chipped, beat-up polish - as long as it isn't glitter...
04. Apply your SPF! I'm the first to admit I'm hopeless at remembering SPF, even though I know how important it is. This is an investment in your health for the future as well, so it is something I'm trying to make more of an effort to do regularly.
05. Moisturise your legs. How many of us are guilty of skipping the body moisturiser!? Take a minute or two to rectify that one.
06. Apply a hair mask or deep conditioner. You can do this at bedtime then shampoo out in the morning for super soft, healthy-looking hair.
07. Wash a make-up brush or two. Maybe doing them all is a bit too much but cleaning just a couple of your make-up tools is better than none, and you'll be glad you did it next time you need them!
08. Use a body brush. Dry body brushing is supposed to help with cellulite, and I can't say I've noticed a difference in that respect, but I do find it very soothing and it makes my skin feel super-soft.
09. Use a lip scrub and balm. Bonus self-care points if they smell/taste amazing - I recommend Lush lip scrubs! ♥
10. Have a quick make-up cull. Throwing away those products that have been lurking for far too long, or you simply never use, can feel very cleansing somehow!

[Photo credit: From Roses.]
11. Get some fresh air. This might mean talking a short walk outside or it might just mean opening a window for a couple of deep lungfuls in - either way!
12. List three things you're grateful for. No matter how big or small - check out my ideas for everyday things to be grateful for if you're struggling.
13. Take a few mindful breaths. There's plenty of evidence around mindfulness and just a couple of mindful breaths can be enough to really clear your head. Have a google if you're not sure where to start, there are lots of guided exercises and even apps you can use!
14. Keep a happiness jar. When something nice happens (no matter how small!), write it on a slip of paper and pop it into a big jar. Then you'll have a collection of happy memories to look through if you need it.
15. Listen to a favourite song. Most songs are only about 3-4 minutes in length, so if you have a special song that means a lot to you - you might be able to squeeze it into your day to cheer you up.
16. Change your sheets. Admittedly this might be pushing on the five minutes rule but we all know how lovely fresh sheets are!
17. Text a friend to say hi. Connecting with someone I haven't spoken to in a while can really give me a bit of joy on a tough day.
18. Wear matching underwear. Don't you just feel like you've got your life together when your underwear matches!? There's nothing quite like it, even if you're the only one who's going to see it.
19. Make a hot water bottle. Keeping yourself cosy can be a really lovely thing to do, and snuggling up with a hot water bottle is definitely up there on the ways to keep cosy list!
20. Make yourself your favourite hot drink, just the way you like it. Whether it's fancy coffee, or regular builder's tea, or hot chocolate with nine million marshmallows - spoil yourself.
21. Do something you've been putting off. Whether it's replying to an email or filing paperwork - putting things off just means we end up fretting about them and not having done them. Do it, it won't be as bad as you think, and it'll be a weight off your mind when it's done! (Obviously we're talking about little things here, not like, re-decorating your bedroom or whatever...)
22. Get yourself a glass of water. Hydration, girls and boys! A well-watered brain is a happy(-ier) brain.
23. Accept a compliment. How many times a day do we brush off the nice things people say!? Make a concerted effort to just say, "thank you" next time you're paid a compliment. They're not lying when they say nice things about you!
24. Take a silly selfie. If you can put a ridiculous Snapchat filter on it, so much the better!
25. Say no. I've saved this til last because it's the hardest one for me - sometimes you just need to say, "no" to other people. Whether it's one task too many at work, your kids driving you mad (no matter how much you love them!) or your partner failing to understand what's important to you - value yourself enough to say "no" when it matters.

Do you have any self-care shortcuts? What are your favourite ways to take care of yourself when you're tight on time? I'd love any additions to my list!


Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Benefits of Dermarollers*

How we take care of our skin matters. Decades ago, it meant applying moisturisers, and maybe even plastic surgery if we wanted to look younger. That is no longer the case, with a multitude of more modern options available to us. However, we don't have to break the bank to afford better skin care treatments - sometimes, the less expensive methods are a great option. Using a Dermaroller is a low-cost method that works well for several skin issues. Let's take a closer look.
The benefits of dermarollers

The Dermaroller Process
In order to understand how the Dermaroller gives you an advantage, you need to first understand what it does. Dermarollers are used in a procedure called microneedling. This is a method of using needles to pierce the skin in multiple areas to create micro channels. These tiny columns are micro injuries, which stimulate the skin to repair itself. The skin produces collagen in reaction to heal the skin, and to replace damaged cells; this can, in turn, cause the skin to tighten and rejuvenate.
Skin Conditions Treated by Dermarollers
There are several different issues that use the micro-needling process to treat them. Some should be managed by trained technicians in clinics while others can be done at home:
Mild anti-aging - Many individuals use a personal Dermaroller device to treat the facial area to reduce mild wrinkles and sagging.
Scar reduction - Dermarollers can remove mild scars with a few treatments. Moderate scars will require numerous applications while severe scar may only be reduced in appearance. This treatment really is best when performed at a clinic.
Hair loss reduction - When used with prescription minoxidil, Dermaroller treatments can reduce or stop hair loss, and may even grow new hair. Visit a clinic for treatment to be on the safe side.
Cellulite issues - Many people have issues with cellulite in larger areas of the body like the thighs, buttocks, stomach, and arms. Dermarollers are effective in treating this skin issue. Several treatments will be needed to attain the best results.
Why are Dermarollers Better?
Using a Dermaroller may not immediately provide the desired results that laser treatments, radiotherapy, ultrasound, and other methods can. So why choose this method? For one, the cost is significantly less on Dermaroller treatments. Take a moment to search online for cosmetic lasers for sale. Even the price of a second-hand laser device is a major purchase. Dermaroller devices cost a fraction of the price, meaning clinics are also able to charge far less for these treatments, since the equipment is reasonably priced.
Benefits of Dermarollers
There are several advantages to using Dermarollers where other treatment methods are limited:
Facial areas. The micro-needling process can be used on the facial area and around the eyes, nose, and lips where some other treatments may not be suitable.
Product enhancement. When topical products like collagen serums or vitamin-enhanced lotions are applied to the skin immediately after a microneedling procedure, the skin readily absorbs that product. It enhances the actual procedure, making the treatment far more effective than on its own.
Affordable. The only costs one expected with using Dermarollers are for the actual roller purchase, topical creams used in conjunction with treatment, and sanitising or cleaning.

Have you ever tried a Dermaroller? Would you be tempted to do so?

[*Featured content.]

Thursday, 8 December 2016

L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation | UK vs US

I reviewed L'Oreal's Infallible 24H-Matte Foundation well over a year ago now, and at the time I complained about how horribly it sat on my skin; it just seemed to pool in my pores and I really struggled to get a nice finish to it. I've since discovered that it applies best without a primer, but even then I struggled to get it to last as well as I'd like - with shine coming through within a couple of hours, and the foundation going patchy within 5-6 hours - a far cry from the promised 24 hours! With that in mind, I was dubious about how I'd like the US version of this foundation... But figured it couldn't be any worse.
L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation UK vs US versions
The formula is pretty similar between the two, with the US version being slightly thicker than the UK; the coverage is also similar, with both offering a pretty full coverage. I do tend to favour a fuller coverage from my foundation so I'm pretty happy with that. The packaging is also similar, though not identical; both foundations come in squeezy plastic tubes with a clear section that allows you to see the shade quite easily, and with red and black branding.

The names of the two products differ slightly, the UK version is "Infallible 24H-Matte", whilst the US is "Infallible Pro-Matte" - a minor difference, admittedly, but I notice that the US version isn't making quite such lofty claims for itself. 24 hours is a lot to live up to!
The shade range is more extensive for the US version, with 12 shades on offer, compared to just six in the UK range, which is frankly shameful - there's literally nothing that would suit women of colour. Admittedly the US version isn't amazing, but it's a definite improvement. I wear shade 10 'Porcelain' in the UK version, which is the lightest shade on offer - it's a little too light for me, but the next shade up is noticeably too dark. In the US version, I have 102 'Shell Beige', the second-fairest shade, which is a far better match for me!
UK vs US L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation
The finish is described slightly differently between the two products, with the UK version calling itself matte, and the US version demi-matte. I've found both are pretty similar on the skin initially, with a matte-but-not-flat finish, though the US version is slightly more comfortable and I guess does lean more to demi-matte.
The application also differs; I found the UK version very difficult to work with, and the nicest finish I could get with it seemed to be using a damp beauty blender or similar. The US version is much easier to work with, and blends nicely with brush, fingers or sponge. I think the UK version is slightly quicker to "set" which is where the difficulty comes in. I've also found that the UK version has a tendency to sit in pores and fine lines, and cling to any dry areas, more easily.
UK vs US Comparison L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation
The longevity is another point of difference; I find that the UK version is beginning to get shiny after about 2-3 hours, particularly on oilier areas such as my forehead - it also seems to break up a little and go quite patchy around the 5-6 hour mark. The US version fares a little better, generally lasting til mid-afternoon before I need to blot or powder, so around 6-7 hours, and with less of the patchiness. Bear in mind, though, that I do have very oily skin, so those with slightly less oil production may find it lasts better.
L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation comparison
Overall, the US version is definitely my pick, and whilst it costs a little more to source it here in the UK, it's worth it for me for the difference in performance! Both look fairly similar in the photos above but in terms of shade match, ease of application, finish and longevity, my money is certainly on the US version.
L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24H-Matte Foundation is £7.99 for 30ml, available at Boots here, whilst L'Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation seems to start at around £14 on Amazon here; you'll have to have a hunt around for your shade, as they do seem to vary in price somewhat. You can also find it on eBay at a similar price point here, though as always when shopping on eBay I'd suggest checking out the seller's feedback first.
Have you tried either of these foundations, or both? Which is your favourite?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Monday, 5 December 2016

15 Festive Nail Art Ideas

Now we're in December, I find it somewhat more acceptable to talk about Christmas! Ideally I'd still like to ignore it for a couple more weeks but that would just be impractical... With that in mind, I've been having a think about Christmassy nail art, and have got together a few designs that I'm loving!
15 Fab Nail Art Ideas For Christmas
Each image should click through to the orignal blog post and tutorial, where one was provided. Some of these are quite old now, and some of them are sadly from blogs which are no longer active - but even so, I think the ideas are lovely, and I'm sure you could work with them if there's one that catches your fancy!!
The Nailasaurus Reindeer Nails Tutorial One Nail To Rule Them All Fairisle Nails Christmas Mix and match nail art
What could be more Christmassy than reindeer nail art - check out Rudolph's super-cute sparkly nose! Don't these gorgeous Fair Isle Nails just feel like a snuggly, cosy jumper for your fingertips!? And one of my own from a couple of years ago - a bit of a Christmassy mix-and-match with a robin, snowflake and Christmas tree designs.
One Nail To Rule Them All Christmas Polka Dots Brit Nails Gold Glitter Stripes Nail Art Santa Suit Nail Art Nails by Kayla Shevonne
If you're after something a bit simpler but still striking and suitably festive, One Nail To Rule Them All's Christmas Polka Dots will be right up your street! Another design that shouldn't be too tricky to recreate is Brit Nails' Gold Glitter Stripes - super Christmassy colours, this design wouldn't be amiss on expensive wrapping paper, would it? I can imagine the Santa Suit Nail Art would be super popular if you have children - what better reminder to behave yourselves, as well!?
The Nail Network Festive French Manicure Casual Nails by Kayla Shevonne Penguin Nail Art
One more on the theme of polka dots; this Festive French Manicure from The Nail Network is so pretty. Casual Contrasts's Grinch Nail Art isn't something I'd dare try to recreate but if you've a steady hand, this could look amazing! And how adorable is Nails by Kayla Shevonne's Penguin nail art? Again, one I can imagine little ones really loving.
Casual Contrast Snowflake Nail Art  Chalkboard Nails Glowing Fairy Lights Nail Art
I love Casual Contrast's super-delicate Snowflake Nail art, doesn't it pop beautifully against that red background? Nails By Kayla Shevonne incorporated a gorgeous blue gradient into her Winter Wonderland nails. And how clever are Chalkboard Nails's Christmas Lights nails - they use glow-in-the-dark polish for the lights, so they actually light up in the dark!!
One Nail To Rule Them All Candy Cane Holly Nails Nails By Kayla Shevonne When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney nail art Chloe's Nails Candycane Nail Art
These super-cute holly nails with a candy cane border are sure to receive plenty of compliments! Something a bit more humourous - I loved Nails By Kayla Shevonne's 'When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney' nails way back in 2012 when she posted them and I still think they're super cute! And finally, if you've got a sweet tooth you're sure to love these sparkly candycane nails by Chloe's Nails.

Which is your favourite design? Will you be doing any Christmas nail art this year?


Friday, 2 December 2016

Hello December!

Well, there's no hiding from it now; 2016 is almost over, with less than a month to go before we'll be ringing in the New Year! There's always so much going on in December, from Christmas shopping, card-writing and gift-wrapping through to cleaning, decorating, and baking - but I'm still hoping to achieve a few goals before the year is out... I've also decided that, having given up chocolate at the end of August, three months of no chocolate is enough to be going on with, so I'm pretty excited that I've got an Advent calendar!
Hello December
See friends at least twice. This should be pretty easy, as I've got a Christmas dinner planned with a big group of friends, as well as an evening out with work colleagues. Even so, it's traditional for me to have this goal each month, and I'm not about to break with tradition at this late juncture!
Keep up going to the gym regularly. I've got quite nicely into the habit of going to the gym before work, and I'd like to stick to this as much as possible, as I really do feel so much better for it! Going before work means I still have my evenings free for blogging and socialising, which is partly why it's working so well for me. I'm hoping to go at least five times a week, although I'll need to check the Christmas opening hours.
Have a proper make-up cull. This is something I started towards the end of November - I have so much make-up, half of which I never use, and a lot of it is probably well past its best-before date. I'm well overdue a good sort through of my stash, and I'll be getting rid of a few bits and pieces and generally trimming the stash down a little.
Reach 4000 Twitter followers. I think I'm leaning a little on the ambitious side here as I'll need to gain almost 300 followers to achieve this, but hey, aim high! I'd love to hit 4k before the end of the year and I have noticed a decent amount of growth in the past couple of months so we'll have to see how I get on with that. I'd love to hit 1500 on Instagram, too, but I seem to have hit a plateau on there - for every follower I gain, it seems another disappears. Just me!?

What have you got planned for December? Is there anything you're hoping to achieve this month? Do you have any fun plans?


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

In Retrospect | November 2016

As if tomorrow is December!? This is a little bit beyond my comprehension capabilities... I honestly don't know where this year has gone, and I know I'm not the only one! November has been a busy one for me, with a whole load of new stuff starting up at work, application forms, trying to keep up with my blog (which has been a whole lot more successful this month, yay!), going to the gym, having a life... Oh, and the fact we have no bathroom at the moment as my parents have ripped the old suite out to have a whole new bathroom fitted. Literally our bathroom has no floor, ceiling or walls at the moment... I'm showering at the gym and our neighbour is kindly loaning her bathroom for my parents to shower!
November In Retrospect
I've made a fair old dent in my toiletries stash this month, and even managed to finish off a make-up product! I'm trying to slim my stash down a little because of the aforementioned bathroom situation, so it's great to be clearing out so many products - I'm on a real mission to finish off all the half-used products I seem to have acquired...
November Empties
Will Repurchase: Super Facialist by Una Brennan Salicylic Acid Anti-Blemish Purifying Face Wash | My favourite face wash ever! I already have a new tube of this, I love it. // The Body Shop Early Harvest Raspberry Body Butter | This stuff smells incredible and is perfect for keeping my limbs hydrated. I think it was a Limited Edition scent but I'll certainly be buying more TBS Body Butters - they're brilliant. // The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector | I'm pretty sure this is the best hand cream in the world, I love it! It works so well to soothe the awful patches of eczema I've been getting. // Merumaya Concentrated Spot Treatment | I already have a new tube of this, it's perfect for dabbing onto any blemishes at bedtime - it never fails to bring them down overnight.
Might Repurchase: Natural Collection Pressed Powder | I really like this, especially for the bargain price tag! It doesn't look chalky or cakey and works as well as any other drugstore powder I've tried. // Botanics All Bright Cleansing Foam Wash | This isn't up there with the Super Facialist face wash for me, but it is quite nice and it's a right bargain! // Benefit It's Potent! Eye Cream | Not the best eye cream I've ever used, but it's alright. // Dr Organic Manuka Honey Body Wash | This has a very strong, almost sickly honey scent which was a bit too much for me on some days, but I do like the Dr Organic range in general, and it's SLS-free which is a bonus for my eczema! // Forever Living Relaxation Shower Gel | I'm not the world's biggest lover of lavender scents but I did really enjoy this one, it wasn't too overwhelming and made for quite a nice showering experience! It's just a little bit pricey for me, really.
Won't Repurchase: Nivea Sensitive Cleansing Wipes | Sensitive my arse! These didn't half make my face sting, I only really use facewipes for removing my make-up at the gym and I'd always rinse my face afterwards so I used them up, but there's not a chance I'd repurchase. // Percy & Reed Wonder Overnight Recovery | I have to admit that this did leave my hair feeling super silky-soft, which I loved, but I can't get past the smell of it, which really catches my throat somehow. I found the scent lingered in my hair even after I'd washed the product out the next morning, which was a real shame.

Sample Sachets.
I managed to finish a measly one sample sachet this month - poor effort Jess! Still, one is better than none, right!?
MOR Candied Vanilla Hand Cream
Mor Candied Vanilla Hand Cream | This was  FeelUnique Pick 'N' Mix sample sachet which I eked out for about six or seven uses; it has a nice, light, non-sticky texture and does smell lovely but I don't think I'll be forking out the full price! (£15/100ml here)

November Goals.
Apply for clinical training. Yay! I finally got the form finished and submitted at the weekend, so now it's time to wait... Hopefully I should hear mid-March whether I'm being invited for any interviews, which is a long time to wait, and a long time to cross my fingers. We'll see. Either way, the form is done now, so that's one less thing to worry about!
Start Christmas shopping. Well I've bought one gift so it counts, right!? It's a small start but it's still a start... I'm still really struggling for what to get people, and I have the added fun of a couple of Secret Santas to shop for - one which I organised with a few blogging friends, which is fine, and one with our pub quiz team, which is also fine, but the work one... I'm really stuck on what to get!
See friends at least twice. An early morning walk and breakfast date with my best friend, a couple of late-night walks/drives with another friend, and a pub quiz with a whole group of friends - bonus point: we came third! That's the best I've ever done in a pub quiz, ha!
Go to the gym regularly. Yep! I've managed to get to the gym either before or after work most days this month (I think I've only missed one workday), as well as a couple of weekend sessions. I'm making the most of my membership! If you're wondering how the heck I get to the gym before work, check out my top tips for early-morning workouts.
Four out of four on my goals, woohoo!
November Loves.
Catherine wrote about her tips for becoming a morning person, which is definitely something I'd like to achieve at some point in my life!
tips for becoming a morning person
Caitlin reviewed a W7 foundation which is, apparently, a dupe for NARS Luminous Weightless Foundation - I'm feeling a strong need to try it out! Can we also take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous Caitlin's photos are, like, always!?
Hannah shared twelve things to remember when you're on your period - a brilliant and relatable read, reminding us all about the virtues of hot water bottles, cuddly toys and chocolate to help us through that time of the month.
12 things to remember when you're on your period
The fabulous Jasmine wrote about her top tips for staying motivated during Autumn & Winter - something I know I struggle with, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Check out her post for some ways to make the most of the dark days!
Here on The Indigo Hours, my favourite posts included my favourite nail polishes for Autumn, and seven things that happen when you start to practice self-care, so do pop over and give those a read if you missed them!

November In Summary.
A busy month but I feel like I've achieved a fair bit - mostly because of finally submitting my application for clinical training, but also including a few fun things too, such as a meal out with my family and seeing Russell Kane for my Mum's birthday at the beginning of the month - which was a fab evening, he was hilarious!
What have you been up to in November? What have you been loving this month?


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman Supplements*

A few weeks ago now, I was offered the opportunity to try Seven Seas' newly-lauched Perfect7 Woman* supplements, which (as the name suggests!) claim to support seven aspects of women's health from skin, hair and nails through to the brain. I was sent a 30-day duo pack; the daily dose consists of one tablet and one capsule, and this pack contains 30 of each. I'm generally quite wary of supplements and the like, but Seven Seas is a well-known and reputable brand, so I decided to give them a go.
Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman
Packaging-wise, there's plenty of information about the potential benefits - and, importantly if you're me and like to know where claims are coming from, the nutrient(s) behind the claim. For example, the supplements contain Zinc which is shown to support the skin and nails, whilst Vitamin B2 is important for vision. Personally, I was most interested in the benefits for my skin (as it's very oily and prone to blemishes, especially just before my period) and the regulation of hormonal activity - again, regarding my skin, and also PMS and the migraines I get whilst on my period.
Perfect 7 Woman Claims
Now I'm just going to put this out there: the tablets and capsules are huge. I'm the sort of person who can swallow paracetamol dry, but I really needed a good drink with these, which is definitely something to consider if you struggle to swallow tablets. Aside from that, I found it quite easy to get into the routine of taking these each morning with a glass of water or OJ, and actually only missed one day out of the 30 I was using the supplements - which is pretty impressive for me! I noticed a slight fishy aftertaste on a few days (maybe four or five days out of the 30, so not a huge number) which I presume is from the Fish Oil capsule, which wasn't exactly unpleasant but wasn't unbearable, either; I found that making sure I had plenty to drink reduced this problem.
Perfect 7 Woman Supplements
But did I see any benefit? Honestly, I think it's difficult to say from just trying them for one month - particularly because my cycle is excessively long, so I didn't have a period whilst taking them. That said, I do feel like I had more energy, and I do think my skin was better - less oily and fewer spots. Obviously it's difficult to be sure from such a short trial, but I'd certainly be interested to see whether the effects hold up in the longer-term. Other benefits, such as those to the brain and heart, are more difficult to notice, but it's obviously really important to take those into consideration, too.
Seven Seas Perfect 7 Nutrition Information
Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman supplements are priced at £10.49 for the 30-day pack at Boots, where they are often on a 3-for-2 offer, so you could stock up on a few months' worth and save yourself a bit of cash. I'm strongly considering picking up a couple more packs next time I'm in town as I'm keen to see whether I'd notice any further benefits to taking the Perfect7 supplements regularly. Do you take any multivitamins or supplements? Would you try Perfect7?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Nails Inc 'Lexington Street'

You've probably seen by now that this month's issue of Glamour magazine comes with a choice of four Nails Inc nail polishes; one of the two I picked up was 'Lexington Street', a pretty baby pink/nude shade which I put on my nails last night, so I thought I'd share! You can check out the other free shades in my December Magazine Freebies post...
Nails Inc Lexington Street
I found that 'Lexington Street' applied quite nicely; I used a base of Sally Hansen's Hard As Nails, and found that the majority of my nails looked fab with two medium coats - the odd nail took a third coat to just even out some minor streaks. Photos are taken with no top coat, as it dries to a lovely glossy finish by itself!
Nails Inc Lexington Street Glamour Freebies
What do you think? Don't forget to have a peek at the other Nails Inc shades available with Glamour until the end of the month, and check out my top Autumn nail polish picks! What have you got on your nails at the moment? Have you picked up any of the free Nails Inc polishes?


Monday, 21 November 2016

Tips For Getting To The Gym Before Work

I posted a couple of weeks ago about the reasons I'm loving being a member of a gym again, and spoke about how I've kind of got into the habit of going before work. Now I don't start work til 9am, and I have the luxury of working literally three minutes' drive from the gym, but even so I'm pretty amazed that I've been managing this, given that I'm totally not a morning person! I've found that to get a proper workout in, I need to be in the gym by 7.10, which gives me 45-50 minutes before I need to head off to shower and get changed. This post was totally inspired by Charlotte's brilliant 'How to become a morning exerciser' post, and I definitely suggest checking her tips out, too!
Tips for getting to the gym before work
[Photo credit: Ivory Mix. Edited by me.]
Get everything ready the night before.
I know this is obvious! Really, I do. However, it's also key, so we're gonna talk about it. If you're gonna need it in the morning, get it ready the night before. I try to have gym kit ready to put on as soon as I get up, my gym bag ready with clothes for work, my make-up bag, and things for a shower... Breakfast (I just take some granola in a little tupperware tub and a yoghurt - easy peasy!), lunch, and anything I need for work, all ready to just grab and go. Especially if you're not a morning person, this makes all the difference!
Give yourself plenty of time.
This took a little perfecting for me - it's about 20 minutes drive to the gym, so I try to leave by 6.45, so my alarm is set for 6.30. (I actually have two alarms; one on my phone, and one horrible obnoxious old-school alarm clock which I keep on the other side of the room - then I have to get out of bed to switch it off!) This gives me 15 mintues to get dressed, have a quick wash and brush my teeth, and grab my lunch from the fridge - I've found anything less than that is just too much of a rush, and I end up forgetting something important like my lunch.
Plan ahead.
I'm definitely still on Autopilot by the time I get to the gym, so I like to know what I'm going to be doing so I can get started without having to think about it - whether it's swimming, cardio on the cross-trainer or bike, or weights... Having a plan means I can just crack on without having to make early-morning decision, because they're just the worst.
Get an early night.
Another obvious one... I'm still working on this! I'm just not very good at it, especially when I feel like I'm missing out on a fun evening - I'd far rather do the pub quiz or go to the cinema than have an early night. Even when I'm not doing anything, I often find myself reading, or drafting blog posts, or trying to make my way through my Bloglovin' feed... But I'm trying to get better at this, and I'm trying to implement an 11pm rule, so I'm getting at least 7.5 hours. I find I sleep far better when I'm exercising regularly, so I can get away with a bit less sleep - plus an early morning workout does wonders to wake me up!
Think about why it's important to you.
Like anything in life, it's easier to get up early and drag yourself to the gym when you know why you're doing it! Maybe it means you can spend evenings with your partner? Maybe it's the only way you can fit in training for a race? Maybe you just want a challenge? Whatever it is, I really do think you need to have a reason to drag yourself out of bed and out into the cold in the depths of winter - you need to be doing it for you, and because at some level you want to do it.
Early Gym Sunrise
I honestly never thought that I'd be the sort of person that goes to the gym before work, but I've actually found that it's a routine that really works for me; I've tried going after work a few times, for example when I'm working away and simply don't have time to go in the morning, but it's so much busier - plus I find it way harder when I'm tired and hungry. I actually enjoy it more in the morning! If you're not sure, I'd suggest commiting to a two-week trial of early-morning workouts and seeing how you feel afterwards - you might just surprise yourself!
When do you like to work out? Do you have any early-morning workout tips to share?

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