Thursday, 31 March 2016

Empties | March 2016

We're now officially into Spring, as well as being an actual quarter of the way through 2016 - scary stuff! March has been a busy month for me, including a trip across to Leeds to visit my brother and some friends, trying to get back into running a bit more frequently now the weather's warming up a little, and of course being back at work after having almost a month off to use up all my annual leave... I've also managed to finish off quite a few beauty products, so let's have a look at what's hitting my recycling box this month!
March Empties
March Empties Skincare Haircare
The Body Shop Chocomania Body Butter | I do love The Body Shop's body butters, and this one is no exception, with its luxurious chocolatey scent (I'm sure that comes as a surprise!) and thick, hydrating texture. This has been lovely for keeping my limbs nice and hydrated the past couple of months.
Repurchase? I would, but I believe the Chocomania range has been discontinued, devastatingly enough. First Almond and now this!? Why do you always discontinue my favourites, Body Shop?!
Beauty Kitchen Love Me Caring & Anti-Aging Body Polish | This was a gorgeous body polish for a really good scrub, especially on my legs and upper arms; containing sea salt and cranberry seeds blended with an oil base, this smelt amazing and left my skin feeling lovely. I found it best used with damp hands, on dry skin, before I turned the shower on - otherwise it dissolves before you can really get a good scrub! It did also leave the bottom of my shower a little slippery, but that's okay as long as you're careful. All in all I loved this, even if I'm not sold on the anti-aging claims - it's not like I need that yet, so I'm not too bothered!
Repurchase? Probably.
Tresemmé Keratin Smooth Deep Treatment Masque | I don't even know how long I've had this! I really dread to think. I absolutely loved it when I first got it (my review is a bit of a throwback to 2012!), but as I've learnt more about haircare I've become reluctant to use silicones in my hair products, so I've gone off it a little. I basically used this up for the sake of using it and to get it out of my shower!
Repurchase? Probably not.
Neal's Yard Remedies Bee Lovely To Your Body Body Lotion | I seem to have got through a lot of body moisturisers in March!! This was another magazine freebie last Autumn which I really enjoyed using. It had a really nice citrussy scent and a light texture which absorbed quickly. The 100ml tube was the perfect size to keep in my gym bag and lasted quite a few weeks as well.
Repurchase? No, because the full-size comes in a bottle with a pump which wouldn't be half as handy for travelling! I'd definitely pick it up if the tubes were available with magazines again, though.
CoLab Dry Shampoo in 'Rio' | This is still a favourite for me; it smells gorgeous and is definitely one of the better dry shampoos I've tried in terms of leaving my hair actually looking cleaner, without leaving an awful powdery residue in my roots.
Repurchase? Yes! I am currently trialling a Tresemmé one, though.
March Beauty Empties
Naked Volume Body Building Shampoo | I used to love this but have found it's not working quite so well for me lately, which would be a shame except it's actually been discontinued, so I'm not too bothered! I did really love the slightly spicy scent, though, and found that it worked nicely to leave my hair feeling clean, which is a struggle for me and my oily roots, particularly given that I try to avoid SLS as it invariably causes an eczema flare-up.
Repurchase? No, although I do have another bottle or two to use up.
Sweet Cecily's Citrus & Walnut Body Scrub | This was a gorgeous jar to begin with but sadly the label started to disintegrate on the very first use - it didn't take too well to getting wet in the shower. The scrub itself had a gorgeous creamy texture with just the right amount of exfoliant, in the form of ground walnut shell. It left my skin feeling softer and smoother, without causing any irritation.
Repurchase? Maybe.
Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Body Buttercream | I loooove the Smoothie Star scent, I could sniff it all day! I got this mini in a S&G gift set in the January sales and whilst the 50ml tub didn't go that far, it was still nice to use! I don't think it's hydrating enough to use on a regular basis, but every now and then it was lovely.
Repurchase? Maybe, but not at full price!
Nivea Double Effect Violet Senses Anti-Perspirant | There's nothing interesting to say about deodorant, is there? This claims to have avocado extract to condition the underarms, which sounds nice... I tend to use a stronger, cream deodorant on a daily basis, but found this nice to keep in my bag for a quick freshen up after work if necessary.
Repurchase? Maybe. I tend to chop and change spray deodorants, trying what's on offer, rather than sticking to one brand.
Natural Collection Cover-Up Cream | I'm not sure where this came from and unfortunately the shade I had was a little too dark for my skintone (hashtag story of my life) but I quite liked the formula - it didn't give enough coverage for blemishes but worked well under my eyes to just brighten things up a little. It's an absolute bargain, too, at just £1.99! It's a shame there are only two shades available; I'm not sure as the label has rubbed off but I suspect I had the lighter of the two, 'Fair', so it's probably not one I'll buy again.
Repurchase? Probably not, unless there's a better shade match for me.
Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream | This was a magazine freebie last Autumn and, although I wasn't the greatest fan of the lavender scent, it was nonetheless a lovely hand cream. I liked the balm-like texture and the fact it soaked into the skin quickly without leaving my hands feeling greasy or sticky - which is the last thing I need at work!
Repurchase? Probably not, as there are equally effective hand creams with scents I prefer.

Have you tried any of these products? What type of beauty product do you seem to get through the most of?


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review | Born Pretty Shimmer Eyeliner Pencil*

I was recently sent some products from Born Pretty to review, one of which was this Shimmer Eye Pencil*; I have Shade #8 which is a pretty, shimmery teal shade. We'll ignore the slightly weird fact that it says 'Bony Girls' on the side of the tube, and focus on the eyeliner itself, I think!
Born Pretty Shimmer Eyeliner Shade 8
The eyeliner comes in a twist-up format in a black plastic tube with a clear plastic lid; there's a pretty swirly design printed on the tube, alongside the previously mentioned, slightly questionable 'Bony Girls' phrase - I can only assume it's meant to say 'Bonny Girls'? This is the downfall of buying products from non-English-speaking countries, I guess! Anyway, the packaging is nothing fancy and does look quite cheap, but it does the job.
Born Pretty Shimmer Eyeliner Swatch
The eyeliner itself is a lovely creamy texture, which is super-pigmented as you can see in my swatch above, with a pretty shimmer that catches the light. Since the liner isn't sharpenable (is that a word?), I imagine it will become quite difficult to draw a precise line after a bit of use - it isn't the most precise to begin with, as the texture is so soft and creamy. I've tried using a brush to apply instead but you lose a lot of the pigmentation that way, so I'm not sure what the solution is! Open to suggestions...
FOTD Born Pretty Teal Eyeliner
In any case, my favourite way to wear this is actually blended out slightly and set with a shimmery gold or copper powder eyeshadow, as above - my favourite shades at the moment! - as, despite its claims, this eyeliner is most decidedly not smudge-proof or waterproof. It's definitely one you'll need to set with a powder product if you want it to stay where you put it! Born Pretty's Shimmer Eyeliner Pencils are priced at £1.40 each here, with a choice of twelve shades - and remember, you can get 10% off store-wide when you enter my code 'JESSMK31' at the checkout! I think for the price it's a nice eyeliner, although it's a shame it doesn't live up to its claims of being waterproof and smudgeproof - and it could potentially do with a design re-think! What do you think of this shade? Do you like coloured eyeliner or do you tend to stick to black?

[*Product provided for consideration. All prices are correct at the time of writing, but may change with fluctuations in exchange rates.]

Monday, 28 March 2016

Why I Gave Up Chocolate For Lent (+ What I've Learnt!)

I'm not religious in the slightest, so I'm still not really sure what possessed me to give anything up for Lent - never mind chocolate! I've never given anything up before, but this year on Shrove Tuesday I decided I'd see if I could give up chocolate for what I thought would be 40 days. Turns out it was 47 which is major false advertising in my opinion, but there we go... My reasoning behind this slightly rash decision was that I tend to eat a lot of chocolate and I know it's not that great for me - basically, I just wanted to see if I could do it.
What I Learnt From Giving Up Chocolate For Lent
The first few days were hard. I would wake up thinking about chocolate; I literally had a dream about eating a Cadbury's Wispa! But I stuck with it, and after a week or so it became a little easier. There were still moments (or whole days...) when I really, really wanted chocolate, but I wasn't viewing it as an option, so I managed to hold. The hardest moments for me were being offered chocolates or chocolate biscuits at work and having to say no, and being in the confined space of my car with my brother while he ate a Belgian chocolate pudding. I've never known anything smell so good! And there was that walk with my friend Matt - usually we have cake when we go for a walk, but he brought a bar of Dairy Milk and proceeded to tell me he wouldn't tell anyone if I had some...
Giving up chocolate for Lent
It's definitely been a learning curve for me! Here are five things I've learnt over the past few chocolate-free weeks:
I have a ridiculous sweet tooth.
There's not much getting away from this! I am very much a fan of sweet things, and even when I couldn't have chocolate I'd still find myself going for something sweet, especially in the first couple of weeks. I've developed a new love of boiled sweets! I did have a minor meltdown about a fortnight in when my Mum forgot to buy non-chocolate biscuits when she went shopping - what was I supposed to dunk in my tea!?
I tend to snack mindlessly.
I've become much more conscious of the fact that I often eat for the sake of eating - because I'm bored or a bit emotional - especially around a certain time of the month. I've got much better at picking up on whether I'm actually hungry, or whether I just like the idea of food at that particular moment, which can only be a good thing - on quite a few occasions I've found myself deciding that actually, I don't even want a biscuit right now.
Why I gave up chocolate for Lent
Eating chocolate doesn't give me spots.
...or at least, not eating chocolate doesn't get rid of my spots! I haven't noticed a single bit of difference in my skin while I've not been eating chocolate - which I'm half-annoyed about (it would have been nice to see something for my efforts) and half-glad (what if I had to actually give up chocolate!?)
Having a buddy helps.
Having a friend who's also given up chocolate has really helped me! There have been a lot of "I really want Mini Eggs" and "I'd happily push a child under a bus for a bar of Galaxy right now" kind of texts... (That second one wasn't me. I don't even like Galaxy!) Just knowing that there's someone who "knows what you're going through" - which makes it sound very dramatic! - and can offer support, really helped me.
My will-power is much better than I thought.
It's time to start giving myself a bit more credit - when I put my mind to something, you can be pretty sure I'll see it through! I honestly wasn't sure how giving up chocolate would go but I'm actually really proud of myself for sticking with it and seeing it out. I've had two Lindt truffles sat on my bedside table for the last five weeks and I'm really quite pleased with myself for not caving in and eating them!

Did you give anything up for Lent? How did you get on? Have you ever given up chocolate?


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Review | Una Brennan Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash

I love having a good face wash in my routine; I tend to use one in the morning, as I don't feel the need for a full cleanse, and I usually use it as my second cleanse in the evening as well, to follow a cream or oil-based cleanser. Recently my face wash of choice has been the Super Facialist by Úna Brennan Salicylic Acid Anti-Blemish Purifying Cleansing Wash (and breathe!), which I've been really loving.
Super Facialist by Una Brennan Salicylic Acid Anti Blemish Purifying Cleansing Wash
"Purifying Cleansing Wash is formulated with skin clearing Salicylic Acid and Niacin (Vitamin B3) to help detoxify and deep-clean congested skin of daily impurities and excess oils without causing irritation. With regular use, this lightweight, refreshing foaming gel infused with Elderflower will leave skin feeling balanced and looking healthier and clearer." As my skin is very much prone to congestion and blemishes, this really sounded ideal; Salicylic Acid is an ingredient which seems to work really well for me, so I was keen to see how I'd get on with this face wash!
Una Brennan Salicylic Acid Face Wash
Face washes have a bit of a reputation for stripping the skin and being a little on the harsh side, so I'm always on the look-out for something gentle yet effective; the fact that this Purifying Cleansing Wash is SLES-free was a huge selling point for me, as my eczema really hates Sulphates. My skin is very much in the 'oily' category, with a tendency towards blackheads around my nose and chin, and frequent blemishes which pop up here, there and everywhere. I've been using this once or twice per day most days (I have a different face wash in my gym bag) for the past six weeks or so, and I have actually noticed an improvement in my blackheads, particularly around my nose. I've been getting fewer breakouts recently, as well, although I do think that's due at least in part to coming off the Pill.
Una Brennan Purifying Cleansing Wash Review
This face wash has a lovely delicate scent which I think is down to the Elderflower and Ylang Ylang, and the gentle foam feels soft and feather-light on my skin. It leaves my face feeling clean and refreshed but still soft and smooth - never tight or stripped. All in all this has been an excellent buy for me, working well to remove any last traces of my first cleanser in the evening, and providing a lovely refreshing cleanse to wake my skin up in the morning.

At just £7.99 for the 150ml tube (currently on offer for £5.33!), I think this is a lovely affordable option which would be ideal for anyone who suffers from congestion or blemishes. It cleanses beautifully without stripping or drying out the skin, and has a gorgeous, delicate fragrance which makes it a pleasure to use; I know I'll be repurchasing! I've loved everything I've tried from Úna Brennan's range and I'll definitely be looking to try more of her products. Have you tried the Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash? What's your favourite face wash?


Thursday, 24 March 2016

How I Keep My Beauty Sponge Looking Like New!

As an avid user of beauty sponges to apply my base make-up (you can read about why I prefer the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge to the original BeautyBlender here!) I like to think I've got keeping my sponge clean down to a fine art. I'm sure we've all heard a thousand times why it's important to keep our tools clean - but in short, you can't expect to apply your make-up and have it look nice if your brushes and sponges have a build-up of weeks or (god forbid!) months worth of make-up - and that's not to mention the bacteria you're rubbing all over your face. So, here is how I like to take care of my beauty sponges!
How to keep your beauty sponge looking like new
I tend to wash my sponge before each use, or at least every other use - as I'm using it damp anyway, it makes sense to me! It only takes a minute or so and I really can tell the difference in how my make-up applies. I find I get a smoother application and my base is less prone to looking streaky or cakey, which is never a good look.
Real Techniques Sponge Before Washing
I start by soaking the sponge thoroughly in warm water (the sponge does swell in size at this point!), then squeezing out most of the excess - it needs to be wet rather than damp, but not dripping wet. I then add a pump of anti-bacterial handwash; I'm using one from Sainsbury's at the moment, which cost me less than a pound. You can, of course, get dedicated brush cleansers, but you can read here about why the Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel wasn't for me.
Real Techniques Sponge After washing
It's then a case of gently rolling the sponge between my hands, using my fingertips to rub the handwash in well and work out all the make-up and general grime. I tend to do this for about thirty seconds, then rinse out in warm water, which I do until the water runs clear and there's no more foam coming from the sponge. Because I usually wash the sponge daily or every other day at most, one wash is usually sufficient for me - if I happen to have gone a couple more days (if I've been away for the weekend or something) then I'll repeat the process to be sure the sponge is completely clean.
Washing Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
Et voilà! One good-as-new make-up sponge. I think this just goes to show you don't need huge amounts of time or any fancy products to take good care of your beauty sponges - it's one of those things where, if you get into good habits and keep on top of it, it barely takes any time at all! How often do you wash your beauty sponges? Do you have a set method?


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

First Impressions | Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream

There are some pretty good beauty freebies with April's magazines; you can catch my review of the Balance Me Revitalising Hand & Body Wash here. Whilst I haven't been using Balance Me's Tinted Wonder Eye Cream long enough to give a full review, I did want to get some first impressions up whilst you're still in with half a chance of picking it up with this month's issue of Glamour! You may remember I reviewed the original, untinted version of the Wonder Eye Cream at the end of last year here, and I loved it, so I had pretty high hopes for this tinted number.
Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream Review
I find that the fine nozzle on the tube makes this super-easy to apply - I just place three or four tiny dots under each eye, and then blend out with gently with my ring fingers. The cream does take a little bit of blending as it seems to sit on the surface of my skin at first, but after a few seconds it kind of sinks in, leaving my eye area looking brighter and more even, and feeling hydrated. It is by no means a full-coverage product, but it definitely goes some way to making me look a bit more alive!
Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream Swatch
Like the original un-tinted version, the Tinted Wonder Eye Cream has quite a strong lavender-y scent which may be offputting for some; I'm not the greatest fan of lavender but I can deal with it as it doesn't linger once on the skin, and doesn't seem to have irritated my skin or my eyes. In terms of hydration, I don't think it's quite as effective as the original, but still nice enough for daytime use. I think you can see below how little product is needed and the subtle brightening effect it gives once blended out; I don't have to worst dark circles to begin with, which is more due to luck than anything as I'd had five and a half hours sleep when I took these photos...
Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream Use
I wouldn't describe this as a must-have product for myself as I tend to follow it with foundation and concealer anyway, but if I'm applying an eye cream it seems like a bit of a bonus if it contains a tint as well! If you tend to skip heavy base products a lot then this could just be perfect for you. Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream is priced at £20 for 10ml of product, or £10 for 5ml, available from Balance Me direct here; if you're in the UK, you can pick it up through the month of March with the April edition of Glamour magazine for just £2, so if you like the sound of it, it'd be worth trying to track that down!!
Have you got your hands on any of this month's magazine freebies? What's your favourite eye cream?


Monday, 21 March 2016

National Fragrance Day with Body Fantasies*

You may or may not be aware (I wasn't - bad beauty blogger!) that today, March 21st, is in fact National Fragrance Day - and what better way to celebrate than with a gorgeous selection of Perfume Body Sprays from Body Fantasies?! I was kindly sent all four fragrances* to try out, so let's have a little look at them!
Body Fantasies Body Sprays
Touted as the best-selling women's fragrance brand in the USA, Body Fantasies have recently launched four of their most popular fragrances in the UK. With scents created by some of the world's leading designer fragrance perfumers, the options range from light and refreshing to sweet, fruity and floral. I really love the bright, jewel-coloured bottles - aren't they gorgeous?!
Body Fantasies Pink Grapefruit Fantasy Body Spray
Of the four variants available, Pink Grapefruit Fantasy is probably my favourite; this is a Superdrug-exclusive scent with a blend of pink grapefruit (no surprises there!) and pomegranate, with soft floral heart notes and a base of white musk and vanilla. I love citrus-based scents so this was always going to be a winner for me, but the base notes give this fragrance a warmth that sets it apart from your average citrus scent, in my opinion.
Body Fantasies Pink Vanilla Kiss Body Spray
Coming a close second for me, Pink Vanilla Kiss Fantasy is a super-girly scent that I can't help but love; with notes of Tahitian vanilla, tropical fruits and wild berries blended with coconut and caramel, this is a really sweet scent that some might think verges on sickly-sweet. Personally, though, I love it!
Body Fantasies Twilight Mist Body Spray
Twilight Mist consists of mandarin, ylang ylang, tiger orchid, violet and sandalwood for a dreamy, exotic fragrance which is a little different from the scents I'd usually wear. I've been enjoying the change, though, and find this one lasts particularly well on my skin; I think this one is a little more grown-up than the other scents.
Body Fantasies Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Spray
Finally, my least favourite of the bunch (but only because floral fragrances really just aren't my thing), Japanese Cherry Blossom combines (not surprisingly) cherry blossom, rose and amber. It's a perfectly nice fragrance but just not my cup of tea - if you're into your florals then I'm sure you'd love it!
Body Fantasies UK Launch Superdrug
Body Fantasies Body Sprays are available at Superdrug here, priced at £3.99 each for 94ml of product; given that each bottle promises at least 500 sprays, and the higher concentration of fragrance oil in the spray offering a long-lasting scent, I'd say these are a right bargain! Which do you like the sound of most? Wil you be treating yourself to one (or a couple!) in honour of National Fragrance Day?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Review | Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

A few weeks ago, I picked up a tin of Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream to try, having heard lots of good things about it! My cuticles were in a right state - the cold winter air doesn't agree with my eczema-prone skin, and add to that all the hand-washing I do in my job as a carer - my hands are more often than not a bit of a sorry state...
Burt's Bees Cuticle Cream Review + Giveaway
The 15g is a handy size and could easily be thrown in a handbag; it would also fall within the guidelines for hand luggage liquids if you wished to carry it whilst travelling. Mine lives on my bedside at the moment, in the hopes that I'll remember to apply it each evening; I'll admit I'm not very good at this, and my success rate is probably only about 50%...
The first thing to note is the beautiful lemon scent, which I adore; it's quite a strong scent, however, so it might put those with sensitive skins or noses off. I'd say this product has more of a balm-like texture than a traditional cream, being quite thick and waxy to the touch. It melts on contact with the skin, whereupon it's easy to spread around the cuticles and massage in. It does leave a slight oily residue on the skin, which is why I prefer to use this as part of my bedtime routine rather than through the day. However, I've found it works well to re-hydrate my cuticles overnight, meaning they're not feeling as rough and delicate by the time I wake up. This is definitely a product that I see better results from when I (remember to) use it three or four days running.
Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream Review
I also have a tin of this Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream to give away to one lucky winner! Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below, so if you like the sound of this, now's your chance to give it a try... Alternatively, it's available via Amazon here, for £5.03 or from Boots here, priced at £5.99.

Please note this giveaway is open to UK residents only - I'm sorry to any international lovelies.
The giveaway prize is provided by me, but once it leaves my hands at the post office I can't take any responsibility for it. I trust my postman so we'll blame yours if anything goes wrong!
If you're under 16, please make sure you have parental consent to enter as I will be asking for the winner's address in order to post the prize.
The winner will be drawn at random by the Rafflecopter widget and will be announced here and on Twitter - in entering, you give your permission for me to announce your name on Twitter should you win.
The winner will have 28 days to respond with their details, or another winner will be drawn.
There is one mandatory entry (leaving a contact email address) and several non-mandatory entries, which you don't need to complete, but which will increase your chances of winning. However, I will be checking all entries, and if you say you've done something without actually doing it, I will be removing all your entries - no cheating folks!
One final note - please don't share this giveaway on competition sites and the like - I know it's only a little prize but it's one bought by little old me to give something back to my lovely readers.

I really like the fresh lemon scent of this cuticle cream, and for me it's the ideal night-time remedy for rough, dry cuticles. Have you tried this Burt's Bees Cuticle Cream? How do you like to take care of your nails and cuticles?

[Post contains affiliate links. All prices correct at time of writing but may be subject to change.]

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Makeup Revolution x British Beauty Blogger | Fortune Favours The Brave

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that I (rather naughtily!) treated myself  to Makeup Revolution's new palette designed in collaboration with British Beauty Blogger, Jane Cunningham, and have promptly fallen head over heels in love with it; Fortune Favours The Brave is without a doubt one of the most beautiful palettes I own! I'll definitely be doing another post about this little stunner to share a few more detailed thoughts once I've had more chance to play with it, but for now let's have a little look at it...
Makeup Revolution & British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours The Brave Eyeshadow Palette
MURxBBB Palette Fortune Favours The Brave
The outer packaging is matte gold card, with the back showing all thirty shades. In a matte gold plastic housing with the Chinese symbol of good fortune on the front, Fortune Favours The Brave features thirty pressed powder eyeshadows, as well as a full-sized mirror and a small double-ended eyeshadow brush. Within the palette, you'll find a gorgeous mixture of matte, shimmer and swirly, marbled multi-toned shadows, all of which are individually named on the plastic overlay. My palette unfortunately came with a couple of little scuffs on the outside, which is a shame.
Fortune Favours The Brave Close Up
First Row (L-R): Glimmer, Buffer, Peachy, Hope, Fortune, Skylight, Transformer, Midnight Rainbow
Second Row: Ice Cloud, Golden Coins, Cashmere, Tip Top, Yes Please, Green Machine, Smoothie
Third Row: Caffeine Fix, Latte, Pink Diamond, Creme, Drama Queen, Lonely Planet, Blacqua
Bottom Row: Soft, New World, Favour, Sunset Hour, Super Gold, Winning, Brave, The Revolution
Aren't they just some of the most gorgeous shade names?! (In these shots, 'Ice Cloud', 'Creme', and 'Soft' all look practically identical, which they're not - I just couldn't get them to look true to colour in my photos. 'Ice Cloud' is a shimmery silvery-white, whilst 'Creme' is a matte yellow-cream and 'Soft' is a matte cream with a cooler tone.)
Makeup Revolution x British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours The Brave Palette
The shadows are a little smaller than I was anticipating, with each one being smaller than a pound coin in size, but at less than 50p per shadow I can't really complain. I do think it's a stunning selection of shades which are all really wearable and beautifully laid out within the palette. I often think that palettes like this can look kind of thrown-together, but to my eye this is really cohesive and just looks so beautiful, I actually can't get over it. It is honestly gorgeous.
Makeup Revolution Fortune Favours The Brave
I've not done a full swatch (you can see all the shades on Jane's blog - here) but I have swatched a few of my favourites for you to have a little look at the quality and shade selection on offer here; all swatches show three swipes with no base. 'New World' is a really unusual shade in the pan, a white shadow with golds and bronzes swirled through it; this translates to a gorgeous shimmery champagne on the lids which is a lot more intensely pigmented than I expected. I'd wear this as a highlight on my cheeks as well! 'Golden Coins' is another swirly shade, this time gorgeous bronzes and golds. When swatched this is a beautiful warm-toned bronze which is perfect for all over the lids. 'Drama Queen' is unlike anything else I own, a matte aubergine shade in the pan which translates to a purple-toned brown on the lids and will be, I think, a lovely crease shade.
Fortune Favours The Brave Swatches
'Green Machine' is a stunning shimmery khaki shade, and what a brilliant name! I love this one and again, it's perfect for all over the lids. 'Peachy' is, as you might guess, a warm-toned peachy shade with a beautiful shimmer running through it. And another swirly shade with a name I love - 'Skylight' is simply gorgeous in the pan, a deep navy blended with gold. Swatched, this shows up as a pretty navy with gold glitter which will be perfect for evening wear.
MURxBBB Fortune Favours The Brave
All the shades I've tried so far have been beautifully pigmented and I can't wait to experiment some more with this! It's such a beautiful palette and I love that it's working to make make-up more accessible - honestly, anyone can wear these shades and it's such an affordable palette, priced at just £9.99. I think we've established I'm besotted with Fortune Favours The Brave! Will you be picking it up? What do you think to Makeup Revolution's first collaboration with a beauty blogger?


Friday, 18 March 2016

How I Organise My Blog With Excel

Having mentioned in a couple of Twitter chats that I have quite an obsessive Excel spreadsheet to help me organise my blogging, a few people have said that they'd like to see how I do that. Since setting up my spreadsheet last May, I've found I've been able to stick much more consistently to posting every other day; I do occasionally pop in an extra post or skip a day if needs be, but for the most part posting alternate days seems to work well for me! I have quite a few worksheets in my Excel file, so let's have a little look at what they cover...
How I Organise My Blog With Excel
My first three tabs are PR-related; I keep one sheet for contact details of PRs I've worked with and the brands they represent; one for PR samples; and one for sponsored posts. This helps me to easily keep track of things like products I've been sent, the date I received a product, and whether I've sent a link back to the PR once I've posted about the product - I like having everything in one place, it makes it so easy to refer back to and means nothing gets forgotten.
PR Samples
My next tabs are my planning space; I have a new sheet for each month, and this is where I plan out content for the month. You can see February's below; I fill in the dates down the left-hand side, along with a space for each day's post title or idea. So from this I can see what will be posted when, and try to make sure I space things out a little so I don't end up posting six reviews in a row or whatever. I can fill in regular features, like my Empties post on the last day of the month, straight away, and the rest gets filled in as I come up with ideas, have products to review, or am offered a sponsored post, say.
Monthly Plans
Things do get shuffled around, for example if I don't feel like I've tried a product thoroughly enough to review it then I might swap it back a week or two and move something else forward. My Excel obsessiveness doesn't mean no flexibility, as it's easy enough to cut and paste! Next to each post I highlight if it contains a PR sample (I like to spread those out if I can) or is a sponsored post (ditto), and I also fill in where I'm up to - so I can see at a glance if a post is started or written up fully, whether I've taken photos for it and edited them, and whether it's scheduled. March is all planned out, but April isn't quite filled up yet (posts blanked out so I don't ruin the surprise!) - you can see I've started drafting some posts, though, and I've taken photos for some as well.
Monthly Plan April
My 'Misc' tab is exactly that - I just use this to keep a note of things like hex codes for my font colours and affiliate links, just for quick reference, as well as any links I might need to refer back to and that sort of thing. My 'Stats' tab is updated each month, which you can see below - I don't worry about this too much, I just find it really interesting! I like to have it all in one place so I can see how it changes from month to month; I'm just a bit of a stats nerd, really. And finally, the 'RTs' tab is just where I keep a note of Twitter RT accounts and hashtags to include in my promo tweets - I like to try new ones and see which are the most effective in getting my tweets to a wider audience.
And that's it! It might seem like a lot but it doesn't take a lot of time and it makes me feel a lot more in control of what I've got to do. And just to clarify, I'm not by any means suggesting you need a spreadsheet in order to be a blogger; this is literally just what I do, because people said they were interested! Do you use Excel for your blog, or another means of planning? I'd love to see how you keep yourself organised, or if you just blog when you feel like it!


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Review | Balance Me Revitalising Hand & Body Wash

Since Glamour magazine are offering a choice of four Balance Me products when you buy the magazine this month (April 2016, on sale throughout March), I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on the products I picked up, so that you can grab them for the bargain price of just £2 if you like the sound of them! Have a peek at this month's magazine freebies here.
Balance Me Revitalising Hand & Body Wash Review
The first product I went for was Balance Me's Revitalising Hand & Body Wash; with Glamour, you get a generously-sized 100ml tube, which I think is a nice amount to be able to really try the product and get a good idea of whether you like it! This has gone straight in my gym bag as it sounded perfect for freshening up after a workout.
Balance Me Revitalising Body Wash Review
"A naturally refreshing hand and body wash that cleanses, soothes and hydrates skin throughout the day. Leaves hands hydrated after each wash. • Sulphate-free formula rebalances skin's natural oils. • Helps to soothe sensitive skin. • Uplifts mood thanks to zesty, unisex aroma."
I'd definitely agree that it's a unisex fragrance; you can really smell the citrus and spearmint in the ingredients, which mean that it lives up to its revitalising claims as well in my book! The sulphate-free thing is a huge bonus to me as SLS really irritates my skin and causes my eczema to flare up, but this body wash has worked well with my sensitive skin. I was also happy to find that this lathers up really well - especially considering the lack of sulphates - and a little goes a long way, so it should last for ages. I've been using around a 50p-piece amount which is enough to wash my whole body; I tend to use it with a pair of exfoliating gloves for a good old scrub!
Balance Me Beauty Revitalising Body Wash Review
Balance Me's Revitalising Hand & Body Wash is currently available with the UK edition of Glamour magazine for £2, or you can order it on their website here; a 30ml tube is £4, whilst 100ml is £6 and a whopping 300ml bottle with pump dispenser is just £12.50 - I think this is really reasonable priced even if you buy it, especially considering the high-quality ingredients used. I'd definitely recommend picking it up if you can get your hands on it with the magazine as I genuinely think it's a lovely body wash! Have you tried any Balance Me products in the past? Did you manage to get any of the free products with Glamour?


Monday, 14 March 2016

Review | Born Pretty Loose Powder*

I was recently sent some products to review from online beauty store Born Pretty, one of which was this loose face powder*; it's branded as By Nanda which is apparently a Korean brand, and is available in three shades, of which I have #802. Have a little look at what I've thought!
Born Pretty Loose Powder Review
The powder is housed in a pretty mint-green plastic jar with a screw-cap, which I really like; the branding is quite nice and it doesn't look cheap or tacky, despite its low price-tag. One thing I would say is the jar is a little smaller than the average loose powder container, containing only 3.5g of product compared to around 10g in most other powders I've owned. The jar contains a little powder puff which I don't use as I found I struggled to get an even application with it.
Born Pretty Store Loose Powder
The shade I have, #802, is quite fair, as shown below; also available are #800, which looks to be a translucent powder, and #803, which is a little darker. The powder is finely milled and smooth in texture, applying beautifully with my Real Techniques powder brush - my only difficulty is actually getting product on my brush, as the head of the brush is bigger than the jar!
BPS Powder Review
I find this powder works well to set my base make-up and does help to keep it in place without looking cakey, and I haven't noticed any oxidising through the day. It doesn't manage to keep me matte for more than 2-3 hours, but that's pretty standard and I'd be amazed if it did! In all I do think this is a really nice budget-friendly powder, and I'd definitely recommend it if you're after a basic, no-frills product to set your base. Obviously the limited shade range may be a problem for darker-skinned ladies, although the translucent shade may be worth a try?
BPS Loose Powder
Born Pretty's Loose Powder is available here, priced at £3.03 for 3.5g of product; remember you can take 10% off anything on the Born Pretty site when you use my code 'JESSMK31' at checkout! Have you ever tried cosmetics from Born Pretty? Would you use a budget powder like this?

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

Saturday, 12 March 2016

6 Ways To Relax & De-Stress

We all know too much stress is bad for us - whilst a certain amount of pressure can help us to perform well and achieve our goals, when it goes unchecked things can get out of hand. Stress can contribute to a myriad of health problems, from high blood pressure to mental illnesses, as well as exacerbating existing conditions such as asthma, eczema and migraines. On top of all that, stress can wreak havoc with your skin, causing break-outs and a tired, dull-looking complexion - so all in all, it's something best dealt with!
Six Ways To Relax & De-Stress
I always thought that I didn't get stressed - while my friends would be freaking out about exams and how much they'd revised (or hadn't), or panicking about interviews, or staying up all night proofreading their essay one more time, I was always pretty chilled. Looking back, I've realised that actually, I just had some good coping mechanisms in place (and some not-so-good ones, but we won't go into that right now!) - so I thought it'd be a good idea to share some of the things that help me relax and de-stress...

I think the best thing to bake is probably bread, as I find kneading the dough is a brilliant way of getting all your frustration out! Really, though, anything that needs a good stir will do - or just the act of going through the steps of a recipe might do the trick for you. I don't seem to get my bake on as much as I used to (thanks to living with my parents and not having much kitchen space) but I always find it really relaxing when I get chance.
Getting outdoors
I've always been an outdoors kinda girl - it comes with growing up on a farm, I guess - and I really notice the difference when I've not made the effort to take myself out for a few days. I live in a beautiful part of the world and even just an hour spent walking in the woods really helps to clear my heads and chill me out! Fresh air and spending some time with nature has a real way of relaxing me and I know I'm not the only one; this also kind of leads into my next point...
Six Ways To Relax & De-Stress - The view from Farleton Knott, Cumbria
It's such a cliché but it's a cliché for a reason; exercise really does help! Getting yourself moving releases endorphins which are your body's "happy chemicals". It's all about finding something that works for you - you might even need something different depending how you're feeling. If you're feeling sad or overwhelmed, try something gentle like swimming or yoga/Pilates, whereas if you're angry or super-stressed I find something energetic like running or cycling, or even a little bit violent/aggressive like boxing, is great for working out all your frustrations!
Lose yourself
Not literally, although if that works for you, then there'll be no judgement from me! I mean in a good book or film - sometimes all you need to chill out is to take yourself away from things for an hour to two. I really struggle to concentrate on a film long enough to see the whole thing, but can easily curl up with a book and lose a whole day - although it's been a while since I've done that!
Ways To Relax Book & A Brew
A bit of self-care
...Whatever that means for you; it might be running a nice hot bath with a bath bomb, painting your nails, calling a friend for a good gossip... Anything that makes you feel good about yourself and is 100% indulging in yourself will work here! For me, this would be slapping on a face mask (this Origins one is my current favourite) and settling down to read a book, magazine or a few blog posts.
A good old-fashioned spring clean
'Tis the season, after all! I find clutter and "stuff" quite stressful, so having a good tidy-up, putting things away properly and, if possible, throwing things away, is really relaxing to me! This is more difficult whilst living with my parents as there is genuinely so much stuff in my room that I need to keep, but have nowhere else to put it - but even things like putting away clean laundry, cleaning my make-up brushes or tidying up my wardrobe help to calm me down and clear my head.
Ways To Relax
Bonus tip: Rituals
Humans are, by nature, creatures of habit - so it's likely that anything you can do on auto-pilot will have a soothing effect on you! If you can get into a little unwinding routine, your mind will come to associate it with chilling out. Something like removing your make-up and carrying out your evening skincare routine is a good one for this - do you have any little routines that always calm you down?

How do you like to relax after a stressful day? What are your tips for keeping calm? I'd love to hear what you'd add to my list! I also have a Wellbeing board on Pinterest where I pin all sorts of things related to positivity and self-care, if this is something you're interested in - you can find that here.

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