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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Empties | April 2016

Today marks one third of the way through 2016 which I can barely believe; I know it's a sign of getting older that time seems to fly by, but there's simply no denying it! April has been a busy month for me, and I feel like I've barely had time to breathe, having had just five days off work all month... I think I need a holiday! I have, however, managed to finish off a fair few beauty products, so let's have a look through what will be hitting my recycling bin this month:
April 2016 Beauty Empties
April Empties 1
Sure Maximum Protection Sport Strength Anti-Perspirant Deodorant | I've been through a few sticks of this now and don't see myself switching anytime soon, it's the most effective formula I've ever used in terms of keeping me fresh and dry, which is important to me as I have an active job and the last thing I want is to end up a sweaty, sticky state at work. Repurchase? Yes.
Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash (travel size) | I'm on the fence with this, as I seem to be with a lot of Balance Me's products; it was nice but nothing special. It left my skin feeling nice and clean, without stripping it, drying it out or causing any irritation or break-outs. However, my skin is oily and blemish-prone, so I tend to favour a face wash that can do a little more for me. Repurchase? No.
Beauty Kitchen Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Wash | I did love the scent of this and found the bottle lasted really well! I've really liked the Beauty Kitchen products I've tried and see myself ordering from them again in the future. I was a bit disappointed that the label rubbed off so badly, though - it's not a major product flaw but definitely something that could be improved in the future. Repurchase? Maybe.
Born Pretty By Nanda Loose Face Powder* | Again, I don't have a lot to say about this; it worked okay to set my make-up, although it wasn't brilliant in terms of keeping my skin matte. I did like that it didn't alter the colour of my base products and it didn't oxidise, though. Repurchase? Maybe, although powder tends to be something I pick up when I need it rather than ordering online in advance.
Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter (travel size) | I'm not a huge fan of Soap & Glory's Original Pink fragrance, so this wasn't my favourite body butter ever. I also find I need a bit more hydration than their body butters offer - I basically used this for the sake of using it up. Repurchase? No, although this came in a gift set and I would use it if I received it in a set again.
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser (sample size) | I loved this, just used a couple of times per week as a second cleanse in the evenings; it's definitely too harsh to be used more frequently than that, which is a shame as my skin needs the AHA/BHA daily. However this was a nice additional step with a physical exfoliant and my skin did seem to really like it - it's definitely made me want to try more from Murad! Repurchase? Maybe, although it's a little beyond budget at the moment.
April Empties 2
Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Deep Moisture Body Milk | I'm actually a bit ashamed of how long I've had this! (You can tell from the date of my review, if you're interested...) I love the Smoothie Star scent but didn't find this hydrating enough for my dry skin, so I've basically been using it on bits that don't really need moisturiser for the sake of using it up. Repurchase? No.
Naked Rescue Shea Butter & Olive Intensive Care Conditioner | How I wish I'd stocked up on this! It's perfect for my dry ends, a little goes a long way, and it smells bloomin' gorgeous. Sadly, Naked are no longer so I won't be able to get it again, which makes me sad. Repurchase? Sadly not.
Batiste Dry Conditioner | I loved this when I first used it but over time I found that the scent was just too much for me, I found it really caught the back of my throat and made me cough, no matter how lightly I sprayed. It did, however, leave my hair feeling really nice - although it was a silicone-y kind of nice and I do try to avoid silicone in my haircare these days... You know when you just go off a product? That. Repurchase? No.
Seventeen Miracle Matte Loose Powder | This did the job in terms of setting my foundation, but for me the term "miracle matte" was a step too far; it mattified my skin to begin with, but that only lasted a couple of hours, and frankly I expect more from something dubbed "miracle matte"! I do have excessively oily skin but I'd like to see it offering at least four or five hours of matteness. Matteing. Matteification. Whatever the word is. Repurchase? Maybe, if it was on offer.
Bee Good Honey & Propolise 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser | I really enjoyed using this, it left my skin feeling clean and nourished, whilst doing a good job of removing any last traces of my make-up - I used it as a first cleanse of an evening after removing my make-up with micellar water. It smells lovely and I really like that it's supporting a British brand and taking care of our bees ♥ Repurchase? Maybe. I love trying new cleansers so I won't be rushing to buy this again, but I do want to try more from Bee Good.
April Empties 3
Facial Sheet Mask | I think this was from Home Bargains, it's just a generic unbranded sheet mask which claimed to add moisture, radiance and vitality to the skin. I do like sheet masks as they're easy to use and a bit less messy than clay masks or similar - this felt really refreshing on my face and did leave my skin feeling nice and plump and looking a bit brighter. Repurchase? Maybe, if I see it again!
NON.U Eyebrow Pencil* | I really like eyebrow pencils for filling in my brows as it's so quick and easy, and this was pretty good, with the angled shape making it easy to get a precise line. The shade match was okay for me, too, though maybe a little on the dark side if we're going to be super picky. Repurchase? Maybe, although I have a few other brow products to use first.
MONU Firming Moisturiser for Dry Skin (travel size) | Despite being aimed at dry skins, I really liked this; it didn't feel at all heavy or greasy on my skin, and had a lovely lavender scent - I'm not usually a lover of lavender but I really liked this for some reason. It really worked nicely to moisturise my skin; at the grand old age of 24 I'm not really at the stage of needing firming creams just yet, but it's definitely one I'd consider in future. Repurchase? Not at the moment, but maybe a few years down the line.
Lacoste L.12.12 Eau de Lacoste Jaune Optimistic & Blanc Pure (sample vials) | I wasn't a huge fan of Blanc, but I really liked Jaune; it's a gorgeous unisex fragrance which just smells like sunshine in a bottle! I actually mentioned it in my Spring Scents Wishlist a few weeks ago as I really enjoyed wearing it. Repurchase? I might pick up Jaune.
MAC Prep + Prime (travel size) | I've heard so many people rave about this over the years I've been blogging but I ended up being totally underwhelmed. At first I thought maybe I was just expecting too much of it, but actually, I found my foundation really didn't sit nicely over it, it did nothing to make my face last longer, and it certainly didn't keep me matte. Those are the three things I look for in a primer so for me, this really wasn't a winner. Repurchase? Nope.

I'm actually in two minds about my Empties posts; I've been writing them each month for over three years now, but I'm really not sure whether to carry on. Do you still enjoy reading Empties posts? Or if not, is there anything you'd like to see instead? I feel like these posts are in need of a bit of a shake-up, but I'd love to hear any thoughts you might have!! Please do let me know in the comments or tweet me @TheIndigoHours.

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Ten Ways to Make The Most Out of Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are a great way to network as a blogger - you can find new reads, get advice and support from people who know the struggles of blogging, make new friends and, of course, have a good old gossip! I don't take part in many chats as they're mostly in the evenings when I'm at work, but when I do get chance to join in, they're always great fun. There are definitely ways to get a bit more out of them, though, so here are my top tips for getting involved... As always, this isn't me saying YOU MUST DO THIS; it's just some things you might find helpful!
Ten Ways To Make The Most Out Of Blogger Twitter Chats
Respect the rules
Some chats are quite structured with a set topic and/or a host asking specific questions, and rules about tweeting links etc. - try and check out the rules and follow them! Winding people up isn't gonna get you anywhere and chats are more enjoyable for everyone when people stick to the rules.
Join in, respond to people
There's no good being a "lurker" in a Twitter chat! If someone asks a question - answer it. If someone says something you agree with, say so! If you disagree, say so (politely of course)! Get involved as much as you can.
Ask questions
There's no better way of starting conversations than asking questions! It might be something about the chat, for example what the topic is or who the host is, or something related to the topic - you might ask about people's top recommendations from LUSH in a chat about pampering, or if people have any tips for organisation in a more general chat. Make sure you respond to anyone who answers your questions, try to keep the conversation going!
Twitter Chats
Use the hashtag in replies - don't be scared to join in conversations
Make sure you use the appropriate hashtag in all your tweets, or people simply won't see them! And don't be afraid of butting into conversations that look interesting - that's the beauty of Twitter chats. You get dozens of little "side-chats" springing up as a handful of people here and there find a topic to discuss.
Be helpful, answer questions
If you see someone ask a question you know the answer to, then answer it - for example people who are late might ask who the host is or what the topic is. If someone's asking something else that you know about, say so, and if you have a blog post about it - offer to link them!
If you ask for links, try to check at least some of them out & leave a comment saying you've come via the chat
It's common at the end of chats to ask for links to people's blogs - I usually send a tweet out towards the end, sharing my own link and asking for links in return. If you do this, please try to have a look at the links you receive and, if you can't leave a comment for whatever reason, at least tweet the sender with some feedback - even if it's just "Love your header!" It's not nice to feel ignored.
Blogger Twitter Chats
Tweet a few observations
I have a tendency to tweet things about how quickly the chat is going or how I'm struggling to keep up (I always struggle to keep up) - things people will identify with. These pretty much always get a few responses. I also think it's polite to to tweet the host (if there is one!) at the end of the chat to thank them.
If you get chatting to someone, follow them!
An obvious one, really, but if you've exchanged a few tweets with someone, it's nice to follow them so you can carry on chatting to them in future.
Blogging Twitter Chats Tips
Have a couple of tabs open
This is the best way I've found of keeping up with chats, as they can move very quickly, with hundreds of tweets being sent per minute. I generally have one tab open with my notifications so I can see if people reply to my tweets, one open with the hashtag (set to 'live') so I can see all the tweets as they happen, and one of the host's profile (if there is one) so I can see any questions etc. You can do this through Tweetdeck, too, but I just prefer the desktop version of Twitter.
Have a look through your Twitter Analytics afterwards
This is mostly just because I'm a bit of a geek and I love stats and analytics of any description, but I always like to have a little look at my Analytics after a chat - I find it so interesting to see how my impressions and engagements shoot up on days when I've got involved with a chat! Hopefully you can see below that I got a good couple of thousand more impressions on the 10th and 24th of April when I took part in the #bbloggers chats.
Twitter Chat Analytics
What are your top tips for Twitter chats? Is there something you always try to do, or avoid doing? Do you have any bugbears or pet hates with chats? I'd love to hear!


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Power Up With Teami Blends!*

I was recently contacted with an opportunity to try out some tea from Teami, an American tea brand who have recently launched in the UK! Now, I'm pretty much powered by tea and love trying new teas, so I was thrilled when Teami offered to send me a pack of their Energy Blend Loose Leaf Tea* to try...
Teami Energy Blend
This tea blend claims to offer a wealth of benefits, from improved immune functioning and mental alertness through to better concentration and digestion; however, there is a disclaimer on the packaging stating that these claims haven't been evaluated by the FDA and that the product isn't intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I'm always a bit dubious about these kinds of claims, to be honest, but at the end of the day it's a cup of tea so I thought it was worth a try! Teami says, "Our tea is already delicious, but we suggest that our tea lovers add honey, nectar or lemon if needed."
Teami Energy Blend Nutritional Info
I've been brewing one teaspoon of the tea leaves in a cup of boiling water; I don't own a tea infuser so I get all the leaves and other bits and pieces floating in my cup, which I don't mind too much, but I think I'd invest in an infuser if I was going to drink loose leaf tea often! I've tried this as is (which was fine) and with a teaspoon of honey to just add a little sweetness - I don't take sugar in regular tea and this is the same for me, it doesn't need the honey, it's just a nice addition on the odd day. I didn't find the tea to have a particularly strong flavour, it's really just like drinking a medium-strength black tea, with a hint of the peppermint leaf. The blend includes Oolong, Yerba Mate, Ginseng, Lemon grass, Peppermint Leaf, Goji berry and Rhodiola rosea.
Team Energy Blend Tea
I don't honestly know whether I've noticed an improvement in my energy levels as I am still always tired; I don't drink coffee, which I think this is intended to replace, but I do drink a lot of tea (10+ cups per day, most days!) so for now, I'm happy to replace my morning cuppa with Team Energy Blend and see how it goes. I've only been drinking it a little over a week, so I'll update if I notice any changes!

Teami Energy Blend is priced at £19.99 for 65g of tea leaves, which I do think is expensive for tea; one packet claims to make 30 cups, which is around 70p per cup. If I'd noticed immediate, obvious benefits then I'd say it was worth it, but as it stands I'm not 100% sold and at this point, I wouldn't buy it again myself. I'll certainly keep drinking it, though, and see if I notice anything in the next few weeks. Teami offer a number of blends including a Relax blend to aid sleep and an Alive blend to boost nutrients in the body. You can get 10% off any orders with Teami with my code 'INDIGO10' so if you fancy trying any of them, save yourself a few pennies! Do you drink tea? What's your favourite kind of tea? Would you try an Energy blend or anything similar?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Dr Organic Haircare

In my ongoing battle against eczema, I seem to try out endless SLS-free products in hopes of finding The One; this is made more difficult by the fact that I have one of the oiliest scalps known to man, whilst SLS-free shampoos tend to be aimed at dry delicate scalps. If anyone knows of a good SLS-free shampoo for oily scalps which isn't too extortionate, I'd love to hear about it!

Anyway. My most recent hair buys were from Dr Organic; I picked up two shampoos, the Aloe Vera and the Tea Tree, and two conditioners - Vitamin E and Manuka Honey. I've been using these for a few weeks now (I've got the Tea Tree Shampoo and Manuka Honey Conditioner in my gym bag, and the Aloe Vera Shampoo and Vitamin E Conditioner in my shower at home!) and have been pretty pleased with them...
Dr Organic Haircare
The Aloe Vera Shampoo (£5.79/200ml) has a pleasant light, citrussy scent and lathers up reasonably well. I always shampoo twice and find that this leaves my hair feeling soft and clean. I expected the Tea Tree Shampoo (£5.79/200ml) to smell of, well, Tea Tree, but in fact it has a much more subtle scent - again, it's quite citrussy, with only a hint of tea tree if you're really looking for it. I find this works really nicely to leave my scalp and hair feeling clean but not stripped, and it's definitely the better of the two in terms of working well with my oily scalp.
The Vitamin E Conditioner (£5.79/200ml) has a really light, typical "haircare" kind of fragrance with, again, a hint of citrus; the formula spreads easily through the lengths and ends of my hair, and works pretty well to smooth and soften them. And finally, the Manuka Honey Conditioner (£5.59/200ml) smells very strongly of honey in an almost sickly/artificial way; I'm not 100% keen on it and would prefer a more subtle fragrance for this one. That said, it does work well to condition my hair, leaving the lengths and ends feeling smooth and well-hydrated, even after swimming.
Dr Organic Shampoo & Conditioner
All four of these are decent product and well worth the price-point in my opinion, I just wish the Manuka Honey Conditioner didn't smell quite so strongly! Dr Organic products are currently Buy One, Get One Half Price at Holland & Barrett, so now would be a good time to buy if you like the sound of any of these! What are your favourite haircare products? Are you a fan of strongly-scented haircare, or do you prefer a more subtle fragrance?


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Beauty at Aldi | Lacura Cosmetics

I've had good experiences with Aldi's own brand Lacura's skincare in the past, but had never tried any of their cosmetics, so when I spotted some make-up bits and pieces on this week's Special Buys I just couldn't help myself! I only went in for teabags but somehow came out with a selection of make-up as well... Let's have a little look at what I picked up.
Lacura At Aldi Beauty Products
Lacura Beauty
I actually needed a new brow pencil as I've just finished one, and I love that this has a little comb on the end; I'm forever breaking my brow combs so this will be super handy! This was available in two shades, of which I chose the darker 'Brunette', but it's also available in 'Blonde' for fairer ladies. I've found the pencil to have a nice firm texture which makes it easy to apply precisely, and the pigmentation is about right for me - good but not too good! This was £1.99 and I've actually been back to pick one up for my Mum, too, since she claims I "permanently borrowed" her brow pencil and she's never got round replacing it; she just whinges about it every time she wears make-up, bless her!
I also picked up an eyeliner (which I definitely didn't need...) in the shade 'Emerald' - this is also available in 'Smoke' and 'Black'. This has a lovely creamy texture and comes with a spongey smudger on the end which is meant to help blend the liner out for a smokey eye, though I haven't tried it yet. The eyeliner was also £1.99. Both pencil products do require sharpening, and both include a sharpener which will come in handy for sure - I can never find a sharpener when I want one! I found that both lasted well once applied, without smudging or fading. Keep scrolling for swatches of these...
Lacura Eyeliner & Brow Pencil
I also picked up the CC Cream in the shade 'Fair' (there's only two shades to choose from, with the other being a slightly darker 'Medium'; sadly not much good for women of colour). Alongside SPF 15, this CC Cream claims to offer flawless coverage to give a naturally radiant complexion, with a moisturising complex including Porcelain Flower Extract and Vitamin B3. I've really liked the CC Creams I've tried in the past, so I was keen to see how this would compare at a bargain price point of only £3.99.
Lacura CC Cream
Lacura CC Cream Light
I've not had chance to try the CC Cream out as thoroughly as I'd like (I wanted to get this post up while the products were still available!) but I've found that it applies really nicely with both my fingers and a dampened sponge (I use the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge). It gives a decent level of coverage for me, such that I only need to touch up with concealer under my eyes and on any particularly bad blemishes, whilst still looking really natural. 'Light' is a great match for my skin-tone. which was a pleasant surprise for me, as often products with such a limited shade range are too dark/orange-toned for my pale skin.
The CC Cream sits really nicely on my skin, without settling in fine lines, clinging to any dry patches, or pooling in my pores, and feels extremely comfortable to wear. I have oily skin so I always set my base products with powder, and this was no exception; I found that shine started to come through on my forehead after around three hours, which isn't actually at all bad, and I was shiny all over after about six hours' wear. However, there was no oxidation of the shade, and it didn't go patchy even on my oiliest areas, which I was impressed with. I've picked up a back-up tube already as I really like this so far and at £3.99 you can't go wrong!
Lacura FOTD
Lacura Beauty Swatches
Aldi's Special Buys are only available while stocks last so if you like the look of these you'll need to get your skates on! There are some other products available which, from memory, included lip gloss, a pen-style concealer and a couple of types of mascara. Have you ever tried Aldi's cosmetics? Would you?


Friday, 22 April 2016

Three Ways | Lancôme Auda[city] in Paris Palette

I was lucky enough to win the beautiful Lancôme Auda[city] in Paris palette recently in a giveaway by the fabulous Dave Lackie; this being my first-ever Lancôme product, you can imagine how excited I was to try it out, and even more so once it arrived and I could see in person how gorgeous it is! Designed by make-up artist Lisa Eldridge, Auda[city] in Paris consists of sixteen gorgeous shades in a range of finishes including mattes, shimmers and metallics.
Lancôme Audacity In Paris Eyeshadow Palette
Lancôme Audacity in Paris Shade Names
The outer palette is glossy black plastic, with a silhouette of the Paris skyline in a silvery-grey, which I think is really pretty. The back of the palette tells you the shade names which is a nice touch. including lovely names such as 'Filigree', 'Volcano' and 'Tenacity'. Within the palette, the shades are laid out in four quads consisting of complementary shades, although obviously you can mix and match as you see fit! The first quad consists of light gold and peach shades, whilst the second consists of warmer-toned browns and taupes. Quad three has two pinky-purple shades and two silver-grey shades, and the final quad consists of deeper nude shades including a deep grey/black. The first photo below is with flash and the second without, just to give an idea of shades.
Lancôme Audacity in Paris
Lancôme Audacity in Paris 2
This is such a versatile palette, as I think you can see below from the three looks I've put together; all three I've worn for work, but you can definitely create a dramatic enough eye for a night out, as well as a pretty toned-down daytime look. All of these are over a base of Wild About Beauty's Creme Eyeshadow in 'Edna', and mascara is Tarte's Gifted Smart Mascara. I found that the shades wore reasonably well, with no creasing after 8-9 hours wear - by around the 12-hour mark there was some creasing but that's not bad going in my book!
Lancôme Audacity in Paris Look 1
This first look used the shimmery taupe 'Joie' all over the lid, with the deeper bronze/brown 'Tenacity' in the outer third and a dab of 'Kitten Heel' on the centre of the lid just to add a bit of dimension; 'Kitten Heel' is a gorgeous peachy shade which I think will be perfect all over the lids come summertime!
Lancôme Audacity in Paris Look 2
This one is a bit more dramatic! I used the cool-toned shimmery silver/grey 'Volcano' all over, with the pinky-nude shade 'Exhibition' in the crease, and 'Joie' to brighten up the inner corners. Apologies for the photos of this one, it was such a dull day and this was the best I could manage!
Lancôme Audacity in Paris Look 3
This is actually my favourite of the three looks; a really pretty, girly look which I think is lovely for the spring months. For this, I used the light gold shade 'Filigree' all over, with 'Kitten Heel' again in the centre of the lid, and just a tiny hint of the beautiful violet  'Zip Me Up' on the outer edge of the lid. I think this works beautifully to really open the eyes up.

I've actually really struggled to find Auda[city] in Paris in stock anywhere in the UK; it's listed on the Debenhams website here as unavailable, though priced at £42. You could order it from Sephora in the US here; at $69, it's not far off the £75 spend required for the flat-rate £6 shipping... Beyond that, I don't really know what to suggest, sorry. Do let me know if you have any other suggestions for getting your hands on this stunner of a palette in the UK! What's your favourite Lancôme product?


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Five Ways You Know You're Not A Morning Person

I feel like there's a lot of hype around being a "morning person" at the moment, with bloggers a-plenty sharing their tips on how to become a morning person and how to get the most out of your morning and so on... But frankly, I'd rather spend my mornings in bed. Asleep. Here are five things which will probably be horrible familiar if you share my aversion to the am!
Five ways you know you're not a morning person
You have a pathological aversion to alarm clocks.
Setting your alarm each evening makes you cringe; you find yourself doing some mental maths and figuring out how many hours' sleep you'll get if you go to sleep right now, whilst simultaneously cursing whatever it is you have to get up for at such an ungodly hour anyway. As far as I'm concerned, any time before 8am is to be avoided at all costs, any time before 7am is not a real time, and any time before 6am should only be seen if you're going on holiday.
You don't remember your last shower.
It's not that you don't shower; it's just that you do it on autopilot, so you never really have any recollection of it. I mean, I'm pretty sure I washed my hair this morning... But I can't say I actually remember doing so.
You have been bodily dragged from your bed at least once.
My housemate at uni adopted a policy of coming into my room and stealing my duvet to make me get up. It was cruel but effective... Sometimes. Other times I just curled up into a ball and carried on sleeping, minus the duvet.
"It's early" is an excuse for pretty much anything.
Poured orange juice on your cereal? It's early! Can't find your keys? It's early! Said something out-of-character nice to your partner? It's early! This excuse is valid til at least 10am in my book and I'm not above using it beyond that point. It's definitely valid til dinnertime on Mondays!
You think Morning People are probably a different species, and treat them with extreme suspicion.
What's wrong with them? Why are they so cheerful when you're still struggling to remember which colour of traffic light means "go"? How are they functioning so adequately? It's a mystery! Never trust anyone who uses words of more than two syllables before 8am.

How do you feel about mornings? If you're a morning person I'd love to hear what you think of those of us with morning allergies! If you're not a morning person either, have you accepted it, or are you still valiantly battling to wake up at unnatural times and be unnervingly productive before lunch?


Monday, 18 April 2016

Wishlist | Spring/Summer Scents

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, I'm sure a lot of us start to think about switching up our fragrance choices for Spring/Summer; I know I tend to favour lighter, fresher scents throughout the summer months! For the past few years I've actually mostly stuck with Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream in the summer and Armani Code in the winter, so I'm thinking about mixing things up a little bit this year. These are a few of the scents I've got my eye on...
Penhaligon's Scent Library, £18 (10 x 1.5ml)
Now I'll admit, these aren't all necessarily spring/summer scents; merely ones I like and would wear in the spring/summer. YSL Black Opium, for example, has notes including coffee, which might not be considered the most summery of scents; nonetheless, I love it! Lancôme's La Vie Est Belle is a beautiful scent, I've had a couple of sample vials and, despite florals not usually being my choice, I adored this with its notes of iris, jasmine, orange blossom & patchouli. I really want to try L'Occitane's fragrances and Arlésienne sounds really unusual, offering notes of rose, violet and saffron. Estée Lauder's Bronze Goddess is a summer classic which I've wanted to pick up for the last few years; the notes of bergamot, amber, vanilla and coconut sound absolutely gorgeous!

I had a sample vial of Lacoste's Eau de Lacoste Jaune and really enjoyed wearing it; it's quite a unisex fragrance but it really does smell like summer in a bottle. A lovely cheerful bright yellow bottle, at that. I've heard good things about Michael Kors's fragrances and Coral sounds just perfect for summer with notes of grapefruit, raspberry and sandalwood; I really love sweet and fruity scents so I'm dying to try this! And finally, the Penhaligon's Scent Library offers trial-size vials of ten of the brand's most popular fragrances; I love perfume testers as I think it's really important to get an idea of how a perfume settles on your skin and how well it wears, so I love the idea of this set.

Do you mix up your scents for the seasons? What are your spring/summer fragrances of choice?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Three Dry Shampoos That Are Better Than Batiste

As an oily-scalped girl, dry shampoo is something of a staple for me; without it, I'd have to wash my hair daily, which frankly is more effort than I am interested in. With dry shampoo I can stretch it out to washing every other day - I know some people wash their hair once a week or even less and you have no idea of the kind of envy this inspires in me. That said, anything that helps my hair last a little longer between washes is my cup of tea.

Like most beauty bloggers, Batiste was the first dry shampoo I used; there weren't many options on the market at the time, and Batiste was readily available on the shelves in Boots, and not too extortionately expensive. However, over time, I've tried other options, and realised that for me, Batiste falls somewhat short in terms of performance - and the price does seem to have crept upwards over the years, too. There are so many other options available nowadays that there's really no need to compromise. Here are three non-Batiste dry shampoos I've been loving!!
Three dry shampoos that are better than Batiste
The L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay range has seen a lot of hype on blogs since its launch a couple of months ago and I was honestly gutted to discover that the shampoo contains SLS, meaning I can't use it. I still picked up the Clay-to-Spray dry shampoo, however, and have been pretty impressed! It's completely transparent, meaning it doesn't give any of that awful, tell-tale chalky white cast in my roots, and it works really well to absorb any signs of oiliness. This smells really fresh and clean, too.
I've mentioned Colab in a few of my Empties posts - I've tried all the scent variants now and there really is something for everyone, but I think the tropical fragrance of Rio is still my favourite! Branded as 'sheer invisible' which I'd agree with, again this leaves no white cast in your hair and works well for me to absorb oiliness. Colab's only real downfall in my opinion is its availability, as I do like to be able to pick up haircare products at the supermarket - that's just my laziness, really, but what did you expect in a post about dry shampoo!?
Finally, the Tresemmé Instant Refresh Volumising Dry Shampoo is another fairly new addition to my routine; it's been a while since I've used any Tresemmé products but I've been happy with this. I do find I need to use a little more product than I have with other dry shampoos, but it works well to hide oily roots and has a nice "haircare"-type scent. This can leave a slight white cast in the roots but it's nowhere near as obvious as Batiste in my opinion, and a lot easier to sort of "ruffle" out with your fingertips. It also gives a good amount of volume which I love, as my hair is long and thick, and often starts to fall a little flat within a day of being washed.
Three dry shampoos that are better than batiste tresemme colab loreal
Batiste is still a winner when it comes to being accessible; I've even picked it up in Aldi on occasion! However, both the L'Oreal Elvive and the Tresemmé came from Asda, so I can't really complain. None of them can compete with the huge 400ml cans Batiste offers, with the largest of these  being the Tresemmé at 250ml, and the L'Oreal Elvive only offering 150ml. I won't be letting that bother me, though, and I do see myself buying all three of these again in the future in favour of Batiste. What's your favourite dry shampoo? Have you tried any of these products?


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Five Reasons I'm Glad I Learnt To Drive*

I remember around the time I turned seventeen, a great deal of excitement on the part of most of my friends; they couldn't wait to learn to drive, they were thrilled to receive driving lessons for their birthdays, they were talking about parallel parking and clutch control... and I couldn't care less. I didn't have that thing that made me want to learn to drive - frankly, the idea terrified me, and I simply didn't want to do it. In fact, I didn't have my first lesson until three weeks before my 23rd birthday, and I finally passed my test just over a year ago. Looking back, I wish I'd done it much sooner; these are just a few reasons why becoming a car owner is one of the best things I could have done.
Five Reasons I'm Glad I Learnt To Drive
The Independence
This is a key one, really - I live in a really rural area; the "local" bus stop is well over a mile away, and the buses are so infrequent that it's generally not worth bothering. It's amazing having my own car and just being able to get in it and drive to wherever I want/need to be - without having to bargain with my parents to give me a lift or pick me up from somewhere. Does anyone else name their cars? Mine is Percy the Polo and I love him to bits, although he could do with a bit of a wash...
Reasons being able to drive is the best!
The Time Saved
Previously, I was spending four or more hours per day on public transport to get to and from work, and had to depend on my mum dropping me off and picking me up from the nearest town which is five miles from home; I couldn't get home at all on a Sunday as the buses didn't run late enough. Now, I spend not much more than an hour per day commuting! Those three extra hours per day have made such a difference for me - I've been able to spend more time working on my blog, for example, and I've been spending some of the extra time at the gym, too.
Job-Hunting Is Way Easier
It's unbelievable how many jobs I want to apply for require you to have a driving license and your own car. Obviously this hasn't helped me much yet as I still haven't got a full-time Psychology job, but it's definitely increased the ones I can apply for, which is a good start. I am actually driving for work in my part-time temp job, which I wouldn't have been able to accept if I didn't drive.
I can make my own in-car music choices now! I have a CD-changer in my car (I swear it's witchcraft. I have no idea how it works) which has allowed me to resurrect a load of amazing albums from my teenage years. I'm now spending a good 80% of my driving time singing along to Good Charlotte, Marilyn Manson and Placebo circa 2006 and it is beautiful. I also have a bit of a thing for BBC Radio Cymru if I've had a stressful shift at work - I don't speak a word of Welsh but I find it so soothing... Just me?!
It Gives Gir Somewhere To Live
This is Gir. He was a gift. You might not be familiar with Gir; he's from the cartoon Invader Zim (click here to see him sing The Doom Song which is mostly why I love him!). This is the sort of gift that previously would have ended up in a box somewhere or gathering dust on a shelf. Now, though, I've been able to modify him with a bit of elastic and a suction cup, and he lives happily in my car, giving it a little bit of personality!
Bonus: An Excuse For Having No Money
This isn't really a benefit! Car ownership is an expensive enterprise, what with buying the car in the first place (I was lucky enough to borrow the money interest-free from my Dad, which I've almost finished paying back!) and insuring it, then filling it up with fuel, oil changes, various bulbs and bits and pieces, tax, MOTs, services... The costs stack up!
Point S Tyres
I have to admit, though, when it comes to knowing how to maintain my car, I'm not the best. I can successfully fill up my screenwash and dip my oil - but that's about it. If my oil is too low, I have to ask my Dad to help... I try not to think about getting a flat tyre because I'm pretty sure I'd have to Google how to fix it, and when it comes to replacing tyres I wouldn't know where to start - I tend to just ask my mechanic if they're okay whenever I pop to the garage for something else. It hadn't even occurred to me that different cars might need different tyres until I was introduced to Point S recently; I can just pop in my registration number and it tells me what kind of tyres I need, as well as suggesting some good options on various budgets. I can order through the website, which gives a price including fitting, new valves, disposal of the old tyres & VAT, and book into the nearest dealer. How handy is that!? I know this is the type of tool which would make it far easier for me to keep on top of my car maintenance.

Do you drive? Did you learn as soon as you could, or did you put it off for ages like me? I'd love to know how confident you are in maintaining your car! If you're an engine whiz or something please come teach me your ways...

[*Collaborative post. Written by me.]

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Making Foundation Work For You

We've all been there; bought a foundation that had rave reviews, only to find it doesn't quite work as well as we'd hoped. Maybe the shade is a little bit off; maybe it pools in your pores and fine lines, or clings to dry patches. Either way, it's disappointing and can end up being wasteful if the product just sits on your dressing table without ever getting used, so I've assembled a few ways to try and make a not-quite-perfect foundation work for you!
How to make foundation work for you tips
When The Shade Is Off
There are a few things you can try here; if you're happy to wear a slightly more sheer base, you could mix a too-dark foundation with a little moisturiser to lighten it up a little. Alternatively, if you have a foundation that's a little off in the other direction (ie, one that's too dark and one that's too light), you could mix the two to create your perfect shade! The other option is a product designed specifically to tailor foundation shades to your skin-tone, like The Body Shop's Shade Adjusting Drops (£10/15ml) - I've not tried these but have heard good things!

When It Clings To Dry Patches
The first thing I'd suggest trying here is making sure you've moisturised really well before applying your foundation; using an exfoliator to soften up any dry patches may also help, although you'll need to be careful not to irritate your skin. A chemical exfoliant might be best for this. If you're still struggling, you could try mixing a little bit of your moisturiser into the foundation as mentioned above, or even a drop or two of a facial oil - this can also help if the base is too heavy and feels mask-like and unnatural on you skin.
Foundation Tips
When It Pools In Pores & Fine Lines
I have quite large pores around my nose so this is a problem I've often had; I've found the best way to address it is by experimenting with my primer. The worst offender was, without a doubt, L'Oreal's Infallible Matte Foundation which I actually deemed unwearable at first; I did eventually discover that it worked much better applied directly over my moisturiser with no primer at all - I suppose because it's such a mattifying base. So if you're struggling with a foundation sitting weirdly on your skin I'd suggest trying it over different bases - or no base at all! You could also look at how you're applying - if you're using a brush, maybe try applying with a dampened beauty blender or even with your fingertips.
Making Foundation Work For You
[Foundations shown: Miss Sporty Mission Perfection Multi-Action Foundation; Rimmel Lasting Finish 25-Hour Foundation; L'Oreal Infallible 24H Matte Foundation; Makeup Revolution The One Foundation; GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation]
What's the worst foundation experience you've had? Do you have any tricks you use to make an awkward formula more workable?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Sunday, 10 April 2016

My Most-Used Apps | An Android Edition

I love reading about people's favourite apps but don't remember ever having seen a post that wasn't about iPhone apps. I've never owned an iPhone and nor do I wish to (seriously, don't get me started on Apple products) but I can't help feeling a little left-out sometimes as the App Store does seem to get all the cool apps first. No matter; here are a few of my most-used apps on my Samsung Galaxy S6, which I got in January and love.
The Social Media
What kind of blogger would I be if Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat didn't feature here!? I'm forever scrolling through Twitter, double-tapping my way through my Instagram feed, and I have a ridiculous obsession with Snapchat's filters... (If you think you'd like to see more of the seriously attractive Snapchat selfies below, give me a follow!) I really dread to think how many hours I'd gain per week if I deleted these three. I do also have Facebook on my phone but I don't use that quite so much - I mainly use the Messenger app for keeping up with friends.
Instagram Twitter
Snapchat Selfie Snapchat Snapchat Selfie Filter
The Practical
Occasionally I do like to spend my time somewhat productively; this is where these apps come in! I use my bank's mobile banking app at least a couple of times per week to help me keep an eye on my spending (especially now I'm actively working on reducing my overdraft each month!) and also find the Paypal app really handy.
The S Health app which came pre-installed on my Samsung has a fab pedometer which I check almost obsessively - I love seeing my steps add up over the day! This also shows me my "active minutes", which is lower than I'd have thought over the course of a shift at work. You can track all sorts with S Health - from your water intake and hours of sleep to your heart rate and stress levels - but those are just the features I use the most. Obviously this one is only available to Samsung users... Continuing with the fitness theme, I use Endomondo to track my running and cycling - it syncs with the GPS so you can see things like how far you've gone, the elevation, and your lap times, which I find really interesting. You can also take part in monthly challenges to win prizes if you're a bit more committed than me, but I've never got round to that... I've used this for years and it does everything I want it to.
SHealth Endomondo Tracking Endomondo History
The last app I'll include in this section is called Clue, which I use to track my menstrual cycles; I've never had a regular monthly cycle since starting my periods at the age of 11 (I mean like, less than two weeks some months and 90+ days other months. Totally random!) but having recently come off the Pill, which I'd been on for about six years, I'm hoping this will help me spot some kind of pattern... I really like the interface and it lets you choose what you want to track - so if a symptom or measure doesn't apply to you, you can hide it. You can also choose to set reminders if you're on the Pill, and there's loads of really interesting information about contraceptive devices, phases of the cycle and so on - I think this would be a really interesting app for young girls who are just starting and getting to know their cycles and their bodies.
Clue Cycle Clue Entry Clue Tracking
The Frivolous
I'm not really one for gaming on my phone and to be honest, I've got pretty bored of this now, but I do still play a game or two now and then; Loop is basically a visual awareness game where you have to make all the little pieces link up - it's oddly satisfying! My latest obsession is Peak which is a brain training-style app, with puzzles that are meant to target specific cognitive skills. I really like that this shows you how you're performing overall and on specific skills, and you can see how you measure up compared to other people your age. The Neuroscience graduate in me loves this!
Peak Games Peak Words Peak Brain
What are your most-used apps? Are you an Android or Apple lover?

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