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Sunday, 31 January 2016

Empties | January 2016

Well, here we are, at the end of January - already! I have no idea where this month has gone to be honest, it's been a busy one for me what with starting a new job one day per week and trying to fit that round my existing job and other commitments... All good fun, though! I've also finished off a good handful of beauty products so, as per tradition, let's have a sort through my recycling for the month:
January Empties
January Beauty Empties
Boots Conditioning Nail Polish Remover | There's nothing particularly exciting here... This did the job perfectly acceptably for me, I only really use it on my toenails as I can't wear nail polish for work. I'm not loyal in the slightest to nail polish remover, I just pick it up when I remember I need it.
Repurchase? Maybe, but I wouldn't seek it out.
ELF High Definition Powder | I still haven't really made up my mind whether I loved this or hated it, although I have now used it all either way. In theory it's great but in practice I felt it was somewhat lacking - it seemed to leave a white cast to my skin which I wasn't loving. I did think it made my skin look smoother in photos, but sadly not in real life. Also it had a weird silicon-y texture to it which I'm kind of undecided on, too.
Repurchase? Who knows?! (Probably not.)
Yves Rocher Sérum Végétal Wrinkles & Radiance Day Cream* | I really, really liked this day cream; everything from the texture to the subtle fragrance was just lovely! It sank into my skin really quickly, left me feeling hydrated but not greasy or sticky, and I actually did think it helped a little with the beginnings of fine lines that I have on my forehead and around my mouth. Two minor bugbears for me were the jar-style packaging (hygiene issues!) and the lack of SPF (memory issues!)
Repurchase? Maybe. I did really like it but I have a few day creams to use up, and somehow Yves Rocher isn't a brand I ever think to order from.
Boots Botanics All Bright Cleansing Toner | This is my second bottle of this super-budget-friendly toner and I do still really like it; I do feel like it leaves my skin brighter and more even in tone when I use it regularly. That said, I think I may stray from it to try pastures new (read: something with a higher concentration of Glycolic Acid).
Repurchase? Maybe, at some point down the line.
Yardley Polaire Eau de Toilette | I won this ages ago in a giveaway and whilst it's not a scent I'd have chosen for myself and hasn't been one I've reached for daily, I have enjoyed wearing something a little different to my normal tastes. With notes including pear, freesia, rose, ginger, pink pepper, patchouli and amber, this is very much a floral fragrance to my nose.
Repurchase? Probably not.
January Empties Beauty Blog
Kind Natured Volumising Rosemary & Mint Shampoo | I enjoyed my first foray into Kind Natured products; I've been using this shampoo after I've been to the gym and have found that it works well to clean and refresh my hair, with a lovely scent and a nice formula. I usually go for volumising shampoos as they seem to work best with my oily roots, and I have to say this was one of the better shampoos I've tried in terms of keeping my hair looking fresh for longer.
Repurchase? Maybe; it's a nice range, and reasonably priced.
Boots Botanics Shine Away Invigorating Face Scrub | This is a lovely budget-friendly exfoliator which I tend to use in the shower after I've been to the gym; a gel base with exfoliating particles that aren't too harsh on the skin, I'd say I've been using this two or three times per week. It works well to smooth out any dry or rough areas of skin without causing irritation or soreness, and although I can't say I've noticed any mattifying effect from using it, I wasn't really expecting to and don't really mind!
Repurchase? Already have.
Rimmel Match Perfection Silky Loose Face Powder | Yeah that's right, I've finished off two powders this month! I quite liked this Rimmel number actually, it didn't oxidise on my skin and seemed to work pretty well at setting my foundation, although I'd prefer something that kept me a little more matte. Still, you can't have everything in life!
Repurchase? Maybe.
Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Butter | This may have been picked up as a "one for me" purchase whilst Christmas shopping... Well, with 3 for 2 on Boots gift sets, it would have been rude not to, wouldn't it!? I love the Sugar Crush fragrance - sweet and citrussy, it's exactly my cup of tea, and this mini body butter didn't last me long at all as I used it basically daily after going to the gym.
Repurchase? Probably.
Bourjois Happy Light Matte Serum Primer | Oh boy, am I glad to see the back of this one! I've been trying to use it up for months and it's seemed never-ending. Maybe because the pump broke? Anyway, I hated it. It smelt like rubbing vodka on my face (oh, hello, Alcohol Denat. in the ingredients list), made my foundation go on funny, and didn't even have the good grace to keep my skin matte after all that. A crashing disappointment here!
Repurchase? Not in a month of Sundays.
COLAB Rio Dry Shampoo | Ah COLAB; my new dry shampoo love! This has well and truly replaced Batiste as my go-to dry shampoo choice, although unfortunately it's not quite as widely available, so I do end up picking up Batiste in the supermarket in desperate times. I love Rio's tropical scent and find that it works well for me to absorb excess oil at my roots on second-day hair, without the horrible white cast that some dry shampoos leave.
Repurchase? Already have.

So January hasn't been a bad month in terms of clearing out my mountain of beauty products!! Have you tried any of these?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Five Unusual Valentine's Date Ideas

Valentine's Day is now only a couple of weeks away, so it's maybe time to start planning what you'll be doing if you're celebrating with someone special this year. You can have a peek at my ideas for unusual Valentine's gifts, and today I've got a few suggestions for unique dates - because let's face it, going out for a fancy meal isn't everyone's cup of tea, and sometimes it's nice to broaden our horizons and do something a bit outside the box!
Five Unusual Valentine's Date Ideas
Visit a museum: Have a look round your local area and see what museums there are - there's something to suit most interests, so you should be able to find something that you'd both enjoy! I love a good museum; personal favourites include the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester, the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick (sadly currently closed after the floods, but should be re-opening in March), and the Maritime Museum in Lancaster (also closed at present following the floods). Hat Works in Stockport is definitely on my to-visit list (a museum full of hats?! What could be better?!), and The Rum Story in Whitehaven.
Try something new: Always wanted to learn how to ski? Fancy trying your hand at pottery? Why not search for classes or taster sessions in your area and have fun together trying something neither of you have done before - you never know, you might find a new favourite hobby that you can enjoy together for a long time to come!
Cook together: This probably isn't that unusual for a lot of people, but I think it's a nice alternative to going out on Valentine's Day - and will save the hassle of trying to book somewhere! Find yourselves a fun new recipe to try, or an old favourite, get in some decent ingredients and maybe a bottle of something nice to go with it, and spend an evening cooking up something delicious.
Get active: Valentine's Day doesn't have to be about indulgences! Get out and about doing something active, whether it's going for a walk, a little bike ride, or something a bit more extreme like Go Ape - if it's not your usual date of choice, you could just be onto a winner! We all know how exercise releases endorphins which make you feel good, so what could be better than feeling good with a special someone!?
Volunteer: There's nothing quite like making yourself useful! This one might take a bit of planning and looking around for something you want to give your time too, but everything from local sporting events, to charities, can make for a fun volunteering experience. I volunteer a fair bit and really enjoy giving something back to the community. You might try local nature reserves, hospitals, or schools - get creative!

What's the most unusual date you've ever been on? Do you have any suggestions to add to my list? What will you be doing this Valentine's Day?


Thursday, 28 January 2016

Review | Vichy Dercos Dermo-Soothing Shampoo

I popped a bottle of Vichy's Dercos Dermo-Soothing Shampoo into my virtual basket whilst doing my Christmas shopping at LookFantastic, as always keen to try an SLS-free shampoo that hopefully wouldn't irritate my eczema. I was surprised to learn that this is Vichy's first SLS-free shampoo (their other shampoos do contain SLS, which disappointed me); Vichy claims that this shampoo, "acts on the main signs of a sensitive scalp to provide immediate and lasting comfort. Hair is left looking shiny, soft, light, and easy to style. The scalp feels soothed of discomfort."
Vichy Dercos Shampoo Review
Vichy Dercos Dermo Soothing Shampoo
The outer packaging gave plenty of information about the product; the bottle within the carton is quite nice, with the blue plastic and the white flip-cap which clicks closed quite securely. The shampoo itself is colourless and quite runny in texture, making it easy to work through my hair. It has a subtle, pleasant scent which I can't place - it smells nice and clean though and it certainly isn't offensive.
Vichy Dercos Shampoo
Now I have to be honest; my scalp isn't particularly sensitive, and is not the reason I avoid SLS in my shampoos. My scalp is, in fact, very oily, and I don't suffer from dandruff or itchiness, so I was uncertain how well this shampoo would suit me. In terms of irritation - I've not had any, it hasn't triggered any outbreaks of eczema - so I'm happy with that, and imagine it would suit sensitive scalps well. Unfortunately, my hair didn't stay clean for very long and within 24 hours it was looking lank and greasy - I don't think that's a fault of the shampoo for one minute, it just doesn't suit my hairtype very well, which is a shame as it's otherwise a lovely product.
Vichy Dercos Dermo-Soothing Shampoo
Vichy Dercos Dermo-Soothing Shampoo is priced at £8.50 for 200ml of product; I think that's quite a reasonable price for a nice, basic, SLS-free shampoo. If your scalp is oily like mine then this probably isn't for you, but if you do suffer from a sensitive scalp then I do think this would be worth a try! Unfortunately it's back to the drawing board for me, in my search for an SLS-free shampoo that works for oily hair... Have you tried any Vichy shampoos? What's your favourite haircare range?


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Gym Bag Essentials

Since re-joining the gym a few months ago, I've found myself showering there more often than I do at home - which is fine, but does mean that I need to have a reasonable selection of face & body products in my gym bag to keep myself soft, clean and fresh!
Gym Bag Beauty Essentials
Pre-Gym Cleanse
I usually go to the gym first thing in the morning and have plenty of time to come home before I have to go out to work, but occasionally I'll go in the evening if I've been working during the day, so on those days I like to remove my make-up before I start working up a sweat! At the moment this involves Merumaya's lovely Melting Cleansing Balm, followed by Botanics All Bright Cleansing Foam Wash.
Gym Shower Products
Once I'm done either swimming or in the gym (or both, on days when I'm feeling particularly energetic!), I tend to spend about fifteen minutes in the shower having a good ol' clean up - washing my hair and body, having a little scrub of any dry areas on my limbs, washing my face and using an exfoliator - the usual shower routine! Products shown include: Sweet Cecily's Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub, Clinique For Men Face Scrub, Naked Volume Shampoo, Kind Natured Nourishing Ylang Ylang & Sage Conditioner, Organic Surge Spiced Lily Body Wash.
Post Shower Gym Body Products
Afterwards I like to moisturise my face and my body (particularly if I've been swimming as the chlorine really dries my skin out - if I've just been in the gym I sometimes skip moisturising my face until I get home) and apply the standard deodorant/fragrance things. [Neal's Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Body Lotion, Malin & Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer, Sure Maximum Protection Sport Strength Anti-Perspirant, FCUK Cool Down Body Spray]. I also have this Cuticura Talcum Powder* in there which I just dust on if I'm in a hurry, to absorb any leftover moisture. It's also really hot in the changing rooms so sometimes I need to use this if I want to actually put clothes on, or I just end up getting sweaty and sticky almost as soon as I'm out of the shower...

What products do you keep in your gym bag? Have you tried any of these?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Unusual Gifts for Valentine's Day

Loathe as I am to start thinking about any holiday before the month in which it falls, I do realise that Valentine's Day is actually only three weeks away, so it's probably time to start thinking about it if you intend to celebrate! Traditionally, Valentine's gifts tend to include chocolates and flowers - which are all well and good, but sometimes it's nice to think outside the box a little and go for something a bit different. Read on for my suggestions!
Valentine's Gifts
Get Organised Calendar Journal, Paperchase, £10
Baylis & Harding La Maison Candle, Debenhams, £10
Fabric Rose Print, Ohh Deer, £19.95
Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar, Lush, £4.25
Wakey Wakey Travel Mug, Debenhams, £6
Orla Kiely x Sport Relief Apron, TKMaxx, £12.99
Plush Elephant Toy, Paperchase, £10
Twister, Amazon, £15.60
You can never go wrong with stationery, in my opinion, and this calendar/journal from Paperchase has such a lovely design. Candles are a nice idea for a bit of a pampering treat, how pretty is the jar of this Bayliss & Harding one!? Roses but not in the traditional sense - this art print is beautiful, and is also available as a greetings card. Lush gifts maybe aren't all that unusual... But hello, have you seen the Unicorn Horn!? If your loved one is a bit of a caffeine addict then a travel mug may come in handy; there are loads of cute designs around but I like this bright and cheery one from Debenhams. If your other half is a bit of a whizz in the kitchen, why not treat them to a posh pinny - and help a good cause at the same time? At least £5.25 from the sale of each of these lovely aprons goes to Sport Relief. I think I'm in love with this adorable plushy elephant, just look at his little face! And finally, why not invest in something that'll be fun to do together like a game - who doesn't love a bit of Twister?!

Have any of these gift ideas caught your eye? Will you be gifting a lucky someone this Valentine's Day? What would be your ideal Valentine's gift to receive? I'll be sharing some ideas for unusual Valentine's dates next week, too, so keep your eyes peeled if that sounds like your kinda thing!

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Friday, 22 January 2016

Review | Sweet Cecily's Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub

I ordered a little Christmas gift from British beauty brand Sweet Cecily's, this Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub fell into my online basket under mysterious circumstances and somehow made its way into my little skincare stash... I like to use a nice body scrub a couple of times a week to remove any dead cells from my skin and keep everything nice, soft and smooth. My skin is, however, prone to eczema, so I do have to be quite careful about what I use, and try to avoid ingredients like SLS, Parabens and Mineral Oil.
Review Sweet Cecily's Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub
Packaged in a plastic jar with a screw cap, the branding is really pretty - unfortunately, though, the first time I took it in the shower with me, the paper labels started to disintegrate. I suppose it would be okay to use in the bath as it wouldn't be getting wet in the same way, but I'm not really a bath person; I do think this would be improved with some different labelling so the jar stays pretty!
Sweet Cecily's Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub Review
The scrub itself consists of powdered Walnut shell in a creamy base; I've been using this mostly on my arms and legs, concentrating on my elbows and knees as I find that's where dry skin tends to occur the most. I have found myself using quite a lot of product each time I reach for this scrub, which is a shame as it won't last quite as well as I'd hoped. That aside, it does feel lovely on the skin, has a really nice, delicate scent (although it's less citrussy than I would have ideally liked!) and leaves my limbs feeling softer and smoother.
Sweet Cecilys Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub
Sweet Cecily's Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub is priced at £9.95 for 100ml, available direct from Sweet Cecily's here; I do think it's a little pricey for how much product you get, and how much I've been using per application, but then again I also think it's worth paying a little more to support small British brands. It's also a really lovely product with skin-friendly ingredients, which makes it worth the spend in my opinion.
Sweet Cecily's Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub Ingredients
I've previously posted about Sweet Cecily's Elderflower & Almond Hand Cream* which I was sent last year, which is equally gorgeous! Have you tried anything from Sweet Cecily's? Do you like the sound of this Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub?


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Six Mini Reviews #19 | Benefit, DHC, Dr Lipp & More...

This is the first bunch of beauty samples I've finished up in 2016, I'm hoping to carry on this year in a similar vein and clear out my beauty sample stash! I think I've got quite a nice mixture of products in this instalment, although I admit they are mostly skincare... Read on to see what I thought of these mini beauty products, and whether I'll be splashing the cash to buy the full-sizes!
Six Mini Reviews
The Organic Pharmacy Rose Facial Cleansing Gel | This was a magazine freebie; it was nice, as cleansing gels go, with a beautiful rose fragrance, and it did leave my skin feeling smooth and clean. However, I found that it was a little runnier in consistency than I would have liked meaning I felt like I was wasting product (although the full-size comes in a bottle with a pump, which would make it less of a problem), and I do think that it's ridiculously over-priced at £45.75 for 100ml of product.
Bioré Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips & Deep Cleansing Charcoal Pore Strip | I think these were a sample from one of Bioré's social media pages, and I enjoyed using them; it's been a while since I've used pore stripes, and I'd forgotten how satisfying they are! I found that the Ultra Deep Cleansing one was more effective than the Charcoal in terms of unclogging pores around my nose, and I liked the way they were shaped to fit my nose. I do think they're quire pricey at £7.99 for six of the Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips, and £8.99 for six of the Charcoal Pore Strips, but they worked pretty well so I'd consider buying the Ultra Deep Cleansing ones in the future.
Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil | I thought this lasted pretty well given the dinky 2.5ml the bottle contained; I didn't like this as much as the Antioxidant+ version I've previously tried, but it was still a really nice facial oil which sank into my skin quickly without leaving it feeling sticky or greasy, and worked well to hydrate and soften any dry or tight areas. If I had one complaint it would be that I find the scent quite unpleasant, but it doesn't linger so it's not too much of a problem. At £16.50 for 20ml, this is quite affordable as a little goes a long way, although if I were to repurchase I'd probably go for the Antioxidant+ version.
Benefit Roller Lash Mascara | I really didn't want to like this but I really, really did like it. I found the wand really easy to use and it worked so well for me in terms of catching every lash and coating them evenly without getting clumpy. The formula is lovely; nice and black, and I haven't had any problems with it flaking or anything like that. I refuse to spend £19.50 on the full-size 8g product, though, no matter how much I think it's a lovely mascara!
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil | I was super excited to try this and found myself feeling a little underwhelmed; sure, it's a perfectly nice cleansing oil, but I didn't feel like it was anything extraordinary. Maybe I was expecting too much after hearing all the hype, but I didn't like it as much as, say, The Body Shop's Camomile Cleansing Oil; it worked well to dissolve make-up and washed off pretty easily, but I'm not sure I'd spend £21.50 on 200ml (currently on offer at £18).
Dr Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips | I mentioned this in my recent Winter Skincare Edit post; in short, I think it's brilliant! It has quite a thick, sticky consistency so I tended to use this at bedtime rather than during the way, but it was amazingly effective in terms of really rehydrating my lips and healing any sore or cracked areas pretty much overnight. At £12 for 15ml, it isn't the cheapest of lipbalms, but it works so well that I will definitely be investing!

Have you tried any of these products? What were your thoughts? What's the best beauty sample you've tried recently?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Monday, 18 January 2016

Review | Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser

I received Bee Good's Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser in a beauty box last year and it's been patiently waiting its turn in my basket of skincare goodies ever since - I've got quite good at not opening new products until I've finished an old one, which is at once satisfying (means I finish things) and frustrating (want to try the new things)! Anyway, I've been using this for about a month now, so it's time to share my thoughts.
Bee Good Cream Cleanser Review
Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser Review
Within the outer cardboard carton, the cleanser is packaged in a squeezy plastic tube with a secure flip-cap, which I'd be more than happy to take with me on my travels without fear of any messy accidents. The tube also has the ingredients and product details printed on it, which I really like; it's a pet hate of mine when products only have this information on the outer packaging, because who keeps that!? A thick white cream in consistency, I find I only need a little more than a pea-sized amount of product for my whole face; the cleanser massages into the skin really nicely, feeling creamy and luxurious. It has quite a strong scent which I'd associated with Menthol, although it isn't actually listed as an ingredient; there is, however, Parfum, so that's something to bear in mind for sensitive skins.
Bee Good Cream Cleanser Packaging
This has been my evening cleanser of choice; I tend to massage over my face for a minute or so, then dampen my hands and massage again for another minute, before polishing off with a flannel or muslin cloth wrung out in hand-hot water. This gives a nice bit of exfoliation and leaves my skin feeling clean and soft. I actually haven't got a photo of the muslin cloth included with the cleanser, but it's nice as muslin cloths go; soft and not too scratchy, a decent size, and edged with a pale blue trim. I do tend to favour a flannel as they hold the heat a little better, but that's just my preference!
Bee Good Cream Cleanser Details
If I've been wearing make-up (most days, then!) I follow this up with a second cleanse using a lighter gel-based cleanser to ensure all traces of dirt, oil and product are removed; I then follow up with toner and moisturiser to complete my evening skincare routine. With key ingredients including Honey, famed for its antibacterial and humectant properties; Propolis, rich in Vitamins B, C and E and aiding healing; and Crambe oil, which protects against dehydration - this cleanser promises to be a real treat for skin, and indeed I have found it lovely to use!
Be Good Cream Cleanser
Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser is priced at £11.50 for 100ml, which also includes one muslin cloth. For a British brand with skin-friendly ingredients and an ethical mindset, I think it's a more than reasonable price - and it's a lovely product, too!
Bee Good Honey & Propolis Cleanser
Have you tried Bee Good's Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser? What's your favourite Bee Good product? I'm loving the sound of the Honey, Borage & Echium Intensive Hand Repair!

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Saturday, 16 January 2016

My Thoughts | Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge vs. Original Beautyblender

A couple of months ago, as my well-used Beautyblender was starting to look decidedly worse for wear, I decided to pick up one of Real Techniques' Miracle Complexion Sponges to see how it compared; I do wholeheartedly feel that beauty tools are worth investing in, as even cheap make-up can be made to look good with the right tools. That said, the original Beautyblender is pretty expensive, so if something that's less than half the price can do as good a job, you can consider me sold!
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge Review
The obvious difference is that the Real Techniques sponge is orange, whilst the Beautyblender is hot pink; not really an important difference, but it's easy to tell you're not using a Beautyblender just from that fact. The shape is also slightly different; whilst the original Beautyblender is egg-shaped with a pointed tip, the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge features a flat edge. I actually prefer the shape of the Real Techniques sponge as I find the flat side far easier for blending my base in over the majority of my face, whilst I still have the pointed tip which is perfect for blending concealer around the eye area, or blending out liquid highlighters.
RT Miracle Complexion Sponge Beautyblender dupe
Like the Beautyblender, the Miracle Complexion Sponge is designed to be used damp; it doubles in size once you've run it under clean water and squeezed out the excess (my photos show it damp). I haven't really noticed any difference in how my base goes on; both sponges give a smooth, even application of liquid base products, and allow you to build up coverage as necessary. The Beautyblender is made from latex-free hydrophilic Polyurethane, whilst the Miracle Complexion Sponge is made from a "revolutionary foam technology" - I can't find any more specific details unfortunately. Regardless, I do think I prefer the feel of the Real Techniques version, it feels softer and smoother on my skin; I've also found it washes a lot better. (You can read about how I wash my beauty sponges here.) The Beautyblender seemed to stain really quickly, whereas my Miracle Complexion Sponge cleans up really nicely with a bit of antibacterial handwash and warm water.
Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is priced at £5.99 at Boots, or you can buy a twin-pack for £9.99 to give yourself a strategic spare! Have you tried this Beautyblender dupe? What's your favourite method of applying base products?


Thursday, 14 January 2016

How Long Does My Skincare Routine Take?

How long does your evening skincare routine take? Do you have any idea? I took a guess, before timing myself, of around ten minutes; I enjoy my evening routine so how long it takes has never been of much concern to me! I know that's not the case for everyone, though, and having seen Laurzrah's post on how long her skincare routine takes, I thought this would be a fun twist on sharing my current skincare routine. I've based this on a regular day when I'm wearing a full face of make-up.
How Long Does My Skincare Routine Take
Evening Skincare Routine 1
00:40 Remove make-up; Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water | I always start by removing the bulk of my make-up, usually with a micellar water on a cotton pad, as it's quick and easy! If I'm wearing waterproof or particularly stubborn mascara, this is the point at which I'd use an eye make-up remover, but I don't use a separate one of a day-to-day basis as I find it's unnecessary.
03:03 First cleanse; Bee Good Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser | My first cleanse tends to be either a cream, oil or balm-based cleanser, as I find these work really well for me to break down the last of my make-up and give my skin a really good clean without leaving it irritated or dried-out. I usually massage into dry skin first, then dampen my hands and repeat, before polishing off with a muslin cloth or flannel wrung out in hand-hot water. I prefer flannels as they hold the heat a little better, but I do use a mixture of both, using a clean cloth each day so I'm not rubbing yesterday's bacteria and make-up back onto my face.
01:49 Second cleanse; Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser or Malin & Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser | For my second cleanse, I usually go for a gel-based cleanser, which I can massage into damp skin and rinse off, to be sure that my skin is completely cleansed of the day's make-up, dirt, oil, and the first cleanser. I'm currently using up some sample-sized products; I really like the Murad cleanser, although I think it'd be a bit much for everyday use - I use this two or three times per week. I use the Malin & Goetz one on the in-between days and it's equally lovely; it smells incredible and works nicely.
00:37 Tone; Boots Botanics All Bright Cleansing Toner | I don't honestly know whether this does anything to brighten my skin or not, but I do really like it; it's a budget-friendly option that fits nicely within my routine. This is my second bottle and it's almost empty, so I'm considering trying something new - it might be time to buy a full-sized bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic!
Evening Skincare Routine 2
At this point I usually take five minute to brush my teeth, do a last-minute tidy up and put my pyjamas on before I move onto...
00:34 Treat; Merumaya Concentrated Spot Treatment | I just dab this on any active blemishes; it takes literally seconds to dry on my skin before I moisturise, and I've found it incredibly effective in reducing the time it takes spots to heal.
01:05 Moisturise; Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream & Acne Ultra Clear Cream | I raved about the Balance Me eye cream in my review, and indeed it's the only one I've ever used consistently; I find it works really well to sooth dryness, hydrate and refresh my eye area. The Acne Ultra Clear Cream is a moisturiser with natural blemish-fighting ingredients; I haven't found it to stop me getting spots entirely, but it does seem to have reduced their numbers and helps with healing time. It also smells like cinnamon!

Total: 07:48. So, I wasn't too far out with my estimate of ten minutes! Do you know how long your skincare routine takes?


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette | The Rebel

I was lucky enough to win a high-end eyeshadow palette of my choice from the lovely Jasmine a couple of months back; after some serious deliberation, I eventually chose 'The Rebel' from Charlotte Tilbury's line of Luxury Palettes. I hadn't previously tried any of Charlotte Tilbury's make-up but it has been all over the blogging world over the last year or so, and if nothing else it's undeniably beautiful to look at!
Charlotte Tilbury The Rebel Palette
Housed in a gorgeous deep burgundy casing with rose gold detailing, 'The Rebel' quad consists of four powder eyeshadow shades. The shades are labelled 1-4 on the back of the palette, with 1 being used to prime, 2 to enhance, 3 to smoke, and 4 to pop; the Luxury Palettes aim to take you from day to night (or, as Charlotte Tilbury terms it, Desk-Dusk-Disco) in one easy palette. Within 'The Rebel', shade 1 is a shimmery champagne shade; 2 is a grass green with a pearl finish; 3 is a deeper forest green, again with a pearl finish; and 4 is a darker olive green/antique gold with a definite hint of sparkle. The palette also contains a full-sized mirror in the lid, with the lovely little detail of an etched star in the top-right corner.
Charlotte Tilbury The Rebel Luxury Palette Review
I really, really wanted to love this palette; I love greens on my eyes and I loved the luxurious feel of the palette. Unfortunately, for me, that was where the let-down started. I swatched the shadows and was disappointed; none of them had the pigmentation I was anticipating and compared to the gorgeous shades in the pans, you can see the swatches below are a bit of a wash-out. The Prime shade is quite pretty but the colour payoff was rubbish, taking four layers to achieve this swatch. The Enhance and Smoke shades were mediocre; the pigmentation can be built up (the swatches are three layers), but that's not what I want from shadows in this price-range, and I did experience a fair bit of fall-out along the way. The Pop shade is probably the best of the bunch, with this swatch only taking two layers(!) - again, though, there was a fair bit of fall-out, and somehow the shadow just isn't as striking as it is in the pan.
Charlotte Tilbury The Rebel Palette Swatches & Review
I hoped that somehow, magically, they'd be better on my lids. Once again, I was disappointed. I was hoping for strongly pigmented, striking shadows that would be easy to use, easy to blend, and wear well - these were pretty much the polar opposite. The pigmentation is poor, I found I really had to work at blending them, and even over my usual fail-safe base of GOSH Forever Eyeshadow Stick, they're nothing special - and they'd creased within a few hours. I do love these green shades on my hazel/brown eyes and I did manage to get the shadows to work for me - but it was nothing like the easy, fuss-free, fool-proof application I imagined.
Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette The Rebel
'The Rebel' palette is priced at £38 and is available to order here; no, these aren't cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it's fair to say that as a brand, Charlotte Tilbury is all about the luxury! The little touches, from the star on the mirror to satisfying click as you snap the palette closed, back up the fact that this is very much a high-end product; unfortunately I don't feel like the shadows themselves have really lived up to this, which was a disappointment to me. The pigmentation was lacking, and I've worn much cheaper products for longer without them creasing on me. Yes, the shadows do still look quite pretty on, but nowhere near as striking as I was hoping for, and with a lot more work than I'd like from a product which is billed to be easy enough for beginners to use.

All in all, I'm so grateful that I've been able to try this palette, but I can't say I'm in a huge hurry to buy any more. Yes, it's gorgeous to look at, but that's not what I want my make-up for! I'm pretty sure this must just be a slightly iffy palette (the review of 'The Rebel' on Temptalia is all praise!) but even so, I can't help feeling let-down. Have you tried Charlotte Tilbury's Luxury Palettes? How was your experience? I'd love to hear if you've had any similar problems!

[I received this palette as a giveaway prize; however, all opinions are 100% honest.]

Sunday, 10 January 2016

New Year's Giveaway

To celebrate the New Year (and my shiny new blog name and design!), I decided I'd hold a little giveaway; it's been a while, and I always enjoy the opportunity to give a little something back to the lovely people who read, comment on and share my posts! So I'll be putting together a little surprise box of beauty goodies to send to one lucky winner. I've got a couple of things so far but I will be adding to it between now and the closing date. Please note the photo is for illustrative purposes only and does not show the exact products the prize will include.
The Indigo Hours New Year's Giveaway
You can enter via the Rafflecopter below; please note that this giveaway is open for UK entries only due to the nature of the prize and international shipping restrictions (and also because I'm broke) - sorry to any international readers. I will be checking the entries so please don't say you've completed an option if you haven't; this will invalidate all your entries! The only mandatory entry is to leave an email address so I can contact the winner, any other entries are optional, though they will obviously improve your chances of winning. One final note; please don't share this giveaway on competition sites and the like; I will be purchasing and posting the prize myself, and this is a giveaway to thank readers.


Saturday, 9 January 2016

Introducing | The Indigo Hours

You might have noticed a few changes around here recently... I've been thinking about it for a few months now, but yesterday I finally got around to purchasing a custom domain for my little blog. While I was at it I've had a name change; Just Jess is now The Indigo Hours! I've been blogging for four and a half years now and, whilst I'm still me, I have changed and grown a lot in those years, and I wanted something to reflect that. I really love my new name, I think it's a lot more grown-up and professional-sounding, and hopefully I'll love it for many years to come!
All of this required a little re-design of my site; I've got a lovely shiny new header which I'm really happy with, and I'm in the process of updating all my social media names and links - so if you find anything that doesn't work, please do let me know so I can fix it! I did everything myself, from purchasing my domain and installing it, to re-installing my Google Analytics, updating my layout and starting to change names on other sites - so if there are any bugs or problems, that's why... I also now have a custom email address, which is making me feel all fancy!

If anyone has any questions about the process, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to help - I'm completely self-taught with any web-based skills and my main modus operandi is trial and error, but even so, if I can help I will! Have you ever changed your blog name? How did you find the process? What do you think of my changes? Feel free to leave a comment or pop me a tweet - I'm now @TheIndigoHours!


Friday, 8 January 2016

Five Ways To Beat The January Blues

January can be a tough month; the January Blues are a well-documented phenomenon and, after the first few days of glorious optimism at the prospect of being faced with a shiny new year, it's easy to start feeling a little down. Here are five ways to get a handle on your outlook and beat the January Blues once and for all!
Beating the January Blues
Make a start on your New Year's Resolutions. If you've set yourself some goals to work on this year, it's better to start as soon as you can! Habits form surprisingly quickly, so whether you've promised yourself you're going to drink more water, get more exercise, or go to bed earlier - start now, and by the end of the month you probably won't even notice you're doing it. If you need to break your goals down into manageable chunks then do that - set yourself a mini-goal for January! What better way to get yourself in a positive frame of mind than working towards your goals?! You can have a peek at my goals for 2016 here.
Make plans. Give yourself something to look forward to! After all the excitement of December and the lead-up to Christmas and then New Year, January can be a bit of a quiet month, leaving you feeling deflated and, let's face it, bored! This is an easy one to overcome - make some plans to meet up with friends, have a good old catch-up and spend some quality time together. Everyone seems to be short of money in January so something like inviting everyone over for a movie night and popcorn would be a great way to spend an evening, and give you something to look forward to.
Beating the January Blues Make Plans
Take time for yourself. You're back to work (those of you who were lucky enough to even get time off over Christmas!) and things can seem pretty busy in January, but try to take time out to take care of yourself. Self-care is important! Have twenty minutes when you get in to enjoy a cup of tea and a chapter of your book; run yourself a nice hot bath; do some baking; paint your toenails; call a friend for a good gossip - whatever helps you relax and feel good! If you're struggling for time, here are 25 ways to practice self-care in five minutes (or less!)
Try to keep active. I know it's cold, dark, wet and frankly all-round miserable, but we all know we feel better when we move more! Even if it's just a ten-minute walk, you'll feel better for some fresh air and exercise, so make an effort to fit a little bit of activity into your days. It's a real battle for me to get up and go for a swim in the morning at the moment, but I always feel better when I manage it.
Drink more water. After the excesses of December, do your body a favour and keep it hydrated! Drinking plenty of water will help to flush out any toxins that have built up from eating and drinking a little bit too much over the festive period... Keeping hydrated also helps you to feel more alert, which can be a massive help when you're tired and run-down. And that's without mentioning the benefits for your skin, immune system, and weight. Grab yourself a nice water bottle, fill it up, and keep sipping through the day. I got a Bobble bottle for Christmas and it's great for filtering my water as I drink!

Do you have any top tips for making it through January? What helps you to stay positive?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Ten Beauty Brands I Want to Try (More of) in 2016

As a beauty blogger, I don't really need an excuse to try new things; it's in my nature, no matter how much I like a cleanser or shampoo, I'm always going to want to try something new. With that in mind, I'm setting myself a target of ten brands I'd like to try out in the coming year - some of these will be totally new to me, and others are brands I've tried a product or two from in the past, and want to expand my horizons, so to speak!
Beauty Brands To Try in 2016 Title
Aesop | Australian brand Aesop seem to have been cropping up all over the place over the last year or so, and in particular I've been loving the sound of their Parsley Seed Masque which claims to deep cleanse, smooth and refresh the skin. The Fabulous Face Oil, which Kate La Vie has mentioned several times, also sounds beautiful. I should mention I'm a little bit in love with the packaging as well, and I know it shouldn't matter but when it's this pretty and reassuringly apothecary-y, it really does...
Antipodes | Another brand which have seemed to be everywhere in recent months, giving me another handful of products I'm lusting over; from their Aura Manuka Honey Mask which claims to cleanse and hydrate in one, to the Divine Face Oil which apparently increases Collagen production by up to 51%, reducing lines, scarring and age spots. I also really like the sound of the Grapeseed Butter Cleanser and the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream.
Estée Lauder | I've never tried anything from Estée Lauder but I've been meaning to try their cult favourite Double Wear Foundation for about four years now - hopefully 2016 will be the year I finally get round to that! I'm torn between the original formula and the Double Wear Light, which offers SPF10 and claims to control oil with a lighter formulation. I'll have to get shade-matched in each and see which I prefer, I think!
Beauty Brands to try in 2016
First Aid Beauty | I really love the idea of acids in my skincare routine and am hoping to incorporate more of them this year, in an effort to see what they can do for me! First Aid Beauty's Facial Radiance Pads seem to be quite popular. I'm also really interested in their Facial Radiance Overnight Mask, which claims to work overnight to provide hydration and luminosity - my skin can get horribly dull so this sounds perfect for me.
Makeup Geek | Makeup Geek have sort of been on the edge of my radar for a few months now but after seeing Jasmine's post a few weeks back, I'm seriously wanting to start building myself a little palette - I love the idea of creating a palette myself, knowing that I love and will use all of the shades in it! In particular, I'm loving the look of 'Day Dreamer' and 'Starry Eyed' from the Foiled line, and 'Cosmopolitan', 'Homecoming', 'Shimma Shimma' and 'Roulette' from the standard eyeshadow line. I've heard less about their blushers but I've definitely got my eye on 'Rendezvous'.
Murad | I've recently been trying out a sample of the AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser from Murad which my skin seems to love, so I'm considering purchasing it in the full-size. I also really like the sound of their Clarifying Mask, which will apparently deep cleanse the skin whilst soothing and calming any irritation, whilst the Pomegranate Exfoliating Mask claims to revitalise and rebalance the skin.
Nuxe | I have a little bottle of their Huile Prodigiuese which I've used a couple of times and found really nice; I'm keen to try more from Nuxe's range, in particular their Rêve de Miel Lip Balm and their Crème Fraîche Mask.
Beauty Brands to try in 2016
Peter Thomas Roth | After reading about the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask over on A Model Recommends, I'm really keen to try it; Ruth positively raved about it! It offers a three-fold approach to radiance with pumpkin enzymes (hence the name, presumably!), AHAs and Aluminium Oxide crystals. Apparently it also smells pretty nice. The Beta Hydroxy Acid 2% Acne Wash sounds like something I could really use within my routine; whilst I wouldn't say I suffer from acne per se, my skin is certainly not as good as it could be.
Pixi | I tried a sample of Pixi's cult favourite Glow Tonic last year and loved it; I think I got five or six days' use from the little sample bottle I had, and could see a massive difference in my skin just from that. I definitely want to repurchase the full-sized Glow Tonic this year, and I really love the sound of the Glow Mud Cleanser, Glow Mud Mask and Overnight Glow Serum, too; basically anything that sounds like it might give my skin a bit of a glow!
Zoeva | Every blogger on the planet seems to have a Zoeva palette and I have to admit, they do look absolutely beautiful, as well as being really affordable and looking like decent quality. I've got my eye on the En Taupe palette which contains a stunning mix of, funnily enough, taupe shades! I really need to upgrade my makeup brushes as I'm using a motley collection I've amassed over the years, and I'm really starting to appreciate the difference good tools can make; the Rose Golden Eye Brush Set & Classic Face Brush set would make a welcome addition to my stash!
Brands to try in 2016
Are there any new brands you're hoping to try this year? What products would you recommend from the brands I've mentioned? Any other brands I need to add to my list!?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Monday, 4 January 2016

Introducing Buzzoole | An Influencer Marketing Platform*

I've recently been introduced to a new influencer marketing platform; Buzzoole helps users to identify their most influential topics across a range of social media platforms, and then automatically selects the best-fit users for brand campaigns. Participating in a campaign earns you Buzzoole credits which are redeemable for Amazon vouchers; 50 credits can be converted to €15 of Amazon vouchers, whilst 150 credits will get you €50, and 250 credits converts to a whopping €100 to spend on Amazon!
Buzzoole Profile
I found it really easy to add my social networks to my Buzzoole profile; I signed up using my blog Twitter account, and you can then authorise additional accounts such as your personal Facebook profile and any Facebook pages you manage, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Youtube, and a blog. These are then analysed to identify the highest areas of influence; you can see above that apparently I am most influential on Leisure, Media and Society, which I suppose makes sense. Currently it's only my Facebook and Twitter profiles which are contributing to these scores. You can also see the 'latest badges' panel; I only have one badge for apparently being 'Twitter Addicted', but these are awarded based on your social media audience, performance on campaigns, and your referrals to the Buzzoole program.
Buzzoole Networks
Here you can see the networks I've added to my profile; it's an easy way to keep track of your following and sharing on each platform, as well as showing you some metrics about your Facebook page. Adding more networks really is as simple as clicking the 'Add/Remove Network' button, selecting the network you wish to add, and authorising it. So far I've only been accepted to one campaign, but I've found that it's easy to see what's expected of you, what the timescale is, and what you'll receive in return in terms of Buzzoole credits. Some campaigns offer products for review as well. You can also earn credits in a few other ways; completing your Buzzoole profile, downloading the app onto your iPhone or Android phone, and referring new members. If you sign up via my referral link here, I'll get 1 Buzzoole credit, and then when you complete your first campaign we get 50 credits each! You can earn up to 1000 credits (€400) in this way.
If Buzzoole sounds like something you'd be interested in, you can sign up here and have a look round; I've found it really easy to get to grips with, and I'm hoping it'll be a nice way to supplement my income here and there. I'm not expecting huge sums of money and, of course, Amazon vouchers don't pay the bills, but they come in handy for everything from stocking up my bookshelf to buying Christmas and birthday presents through the year.

Update 5th February: I just want to confirm that I've received my first Amazon voucher with no issues; Buzzoole do say it can take up to 30 days to process, but I redeemed £100 on the 18th January and have received the voucher code via email today, so it only took a little longer than a fortnight. 

Have you heard of Buzzoole before? Is it something you'd be interested in signing up to? I'd love to hear what you think!!

[*Please note I am being compensated for sharing this post.] Buzzoole

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Hello January!

Towards the end of last year, I started sharing a more personal post at the beginning of each month, and that's something I'd like to continue for 2016; it's really just setting some goals for the coming month, and looking back at how I went on with the previous month's. Nonetheless, I find it helpful to have my aims for the coming weeks written down, and it's nice to reflect on what I've achieved!
Hello January!
I didn't set many goals for December as I knew it was going to be a busy enough month without stressing about whether or not I'd achieve x, y and z. My goals were pretty simple, in fact:
Throw more things away: I wasn't as successful as I hoped with this one, although I have assembled another bag of clothes to donate, and thrown away a few things I was hoarding for no readily apparent reason. I still have a long way to go with this one, though, as I have way more stuff than I could possibly need! I also made the mistake of buying a few bits and pieces in the sales (only a few, mind!) which may kind of negate the ones I've got rid of... Oops! My bedroom at my parents' house is only small and it's ridiculously full, so I want to downsize my belongings as much as possible.
Bake: I said I wanted to do at least the mince pies; my Mum beat me to those, but I did make these Christmas Pudding "Oreos" instead! Two layers of chocolate cookie, filled with peppermint white chocolate ganache, and topped with white chocolate to look like a Christmas pudding. I'm actually quite proud of how they turned out!
Christmas Pudding Cookies Instagram

So I'm considering December a pretty successful month, achieving two out of two goals! Heading into January, I'm setting myself a few more goals in the hopes of getting 2016 off to a good start...
 Read four books: That's one per week, and should set the stage nicely for meeting my overall 2016 target of 25 books over the course of the year. I'm intending to spend my breaks at work reading, rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook on my phone.
Clear out desk: I'm sure I've had this as a goal before and just ignored it, because my desk is truly a horrendous sight! I don't even know what's in most of the heaps, it really needs a damn good clear out; I'll probably throw a lot of things away, and hopefully it should make staying organised that little bit easier.
See friends at least twice: This is another one which was part of my 2016 goals; with one thing and another, it's easy to let friendships fall by the wayside, so I want to make a conscious effort this year to see at least two friends, on at least two separate occasions, each month.
Work on my fitness: I want to keep up swimming at least three times per week, hopefully swimming for 40 minutes rather than the 30 I've been doing. I also want to fit in at least one run per week to try and get my running fitness back a little. I feel like that's a target in itself, and I can work on distances once I've got my fitness back up!

Do you set yourself monthly goals? What are you hoping to achieve in January?


Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 | Hopes & Goals

Happy New Year!! As we begin 2016, I'm looking forward to a year full of new promise, and I've got a few things I'd like to achieve over the coming twelve months. I'm not a fan of calling them "resolutions", mainly because of the negative associations that carries, so we're calling them Hopes & Goals; essentially, though, they're still a collection of things I'd like to do this year.
2016 Hopes & Goals
Clear my overdraft. This is one I'm carrying forward from last year; whilst I started out strongly and was on track to have it paid off by the end of the year, it all went a little wrong when I bought my car, so now is the time to get back to working my way out of the negative numbers. I need to start being a bit more careful with my spending and consciously making an effort to save pennies where I can - every little helps! I am still paying off my Masters loan and also the money my Dad lent me to insure my car, so there's a significant chunk of my income gone almost before I see it each month, but nonetheless if I'm sensible it shouldn't be too hard to clear my overdraft by the end of the year.
Get a full-time, paid Assistant Psychologist post. Again, this is a goal I'm carrying forward from 2015; whilst I did make progress towards this last year, and had several interviews, unfortunately nothing came to fruition. I'm hoping with the one day per week I'll be working as a paid Assistant Psych starting this month, I'll be able to gain that little bit more relevant, paid experience which will make all the difference for me! It's frustrating because I know I'm doing the right things, so really it's just a case of time I think.
Read at least 25 books. I've reduced this from my goal of 50 last year as I fell so short! 25 is still more than I managed to read in 2015 so I'll have to push myself, but I love reading and want to spend more time getting lost in a good book. I got a couple of books for Christmas and I've got a huge heap that my Uncle lent me as well, so I've really got no excuse for this one!
Streamline my make-up collection. I'm finding myself leaning more and more towards skincare when it comes to beauty purchases; now don't get me wrong, I still love make-up and could easily lose an afternoon browsing the aisles of Boots, swatching away and spending a small fortune... But there's no need. I have too much make-up, half of it never sees the light of day, and it's just taking up space! This year I'm hoping to finish off some products that I've been dragging my heels with, get rid of the things I know I'll never use, shake up my storage, and generally streamline so that I have a collection that I love and get good use from.
Keep looking after my health. I joined a local gym towards the end of 2015 and have really enjoyed swimming three or four times a week; I find it so relaxing, and it's also really satisfying seeing my fitness improve with time. However, I want to get back into running regularly as well, so I'm aiming to fit in at least one or two runs per week, as well as overhauling my diet. Overall I eat pretty well but I do have a horrendous sweet tooth and the major problem that I can't just eat one chocolate - I'll finish the packet. I don't want to cut treats out altogether but I know I could do to cut back a little. This isn't a very specific goal, I realise, but I know what needs to be done and for me, it's all about the little things that add up.
Make time for friends. I do think of myself as pretty good at keeping in touch with people but in fact, it's so easy to look at the date and realise it's over a month since I've spoken to a particular friend, or that I haven't actually seen any friends this week - which isn't good! Spending time with people I love is important to me, and I want to commit to spending more time doing just that. I'm aiming to commit to seeing at least two friends, on separate occasions, each month; even if it's just popping round for a cup of tea or going out for a walk, it's nice to re-connect and spend time with those who matter.

Have you set yourself any goals for the new year? I'd love to hear what you're hoping to achieve in 2016! Any tips on achieving my own goals would also be welcome, please share your goal-achieving secrets!!

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