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Friday, 30 September 2016

In Retrospect | September 2016

I'm not going to go on about how fast this year is going - we all know, it's kind of terrifying, let's not dwell on it hey!? September has been a funny old month for me, and there seems to have been loads going on, so let's have a little look back...
September in Retrospect
I think I've done alright with empties this month - it's not my best month ever by a long shot, but I've finished off a couple of those kinds of products that seem to last forever, which is nice.
Will Repurchase: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Oil-Infused Cleansing Water | I mentioned this in my Summer Skincare Routine post and I'm still loving it to remove my make-up in the evening before a proper cleanse. It smells lovely, works well on waterproof mascara and doesn't sting my eyes at all. I've already started a new bottle of this! // The Body Shop Chocomania Body Butter | Okay so I won't be repurchasing this exact scent (I'm gutted they've discontinued it!) but I love The Body Shop's body butters and always have at least a couple in my stash - they're perfect for keeping my sensitive, eczema-prone skin happy.
Might Repurchase: Dr Organic Tea Tree Shampoo | I did like this but didn't love it - it's perfectly nice as shampoos go, and it's SLS-free so it doesn't irritate my skin, but I don't think it's ideal for my super-oily scalp. // Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask | This is definitely a favourite for me, but I do think it's expensive. There are other masks I need to finish off before I buy anything new, and there are others I want to try before I think about repurchasing this one, but there's a good chance it'll end up back in my collection at some point! // Forever Aloe Scrub* | Again, I really liked this but feel like it's quite pricey - I've got other, similar products to finish up and others I want to try before I'd buy this again - but I would consider it in the future.
Won't Repurchase: Naked Volume Body Building Shampoo | This was the last of my stockpiled bottles and to be honest I'm quite glad to see the back of this - I used to love it but I feel like my hair got used to it or something, it just didn't seem as effective the last couple of bottles. // Nivea Anti-Perspirant Invisible for Black & White | I bought this for packing in carry-on luggage and have been keeping it my work bag - it was alright for freshening up after a long day, but I wouldn't depend on it as an anti-perspirant.

Samples Sachets.
I've only used a couple of sample sachets this month - I just haven't really thought about it! It's better than nothing though, so here's what I thought...
Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lemon Sage Thickening Shampoo | I got this as part of a FeelUnique Pick 'N' Mix selection (Side note: I think this is a great idea!) and wouldn't have chosen it if I'd realised it contained SLS. I quite liked it but wouldn't buy the full-size for that reason (£15.25/300ml here) // Bioderma Nodé Non-Detergent Fluid Shampoo | Another one from the FeelUnique Pick 'N' Mix - I liked the idea of this and quite enjoyed the fluid texture - it was literally like water - but didn't really feel like it did much for my hair, unfortunately. (£8.50/200ml here).

September Goals.
Keep up running twice a week. Well shin splints put paid to this one! I've basically had to take three weeks off running altogether, which has been rubbish - I'm only just starting to get back into it, breaking myself in gently with short half-mile runs to begin with. I need to build back up slowly and get better at stretching/warming up properly.
Join the gym. I just haven't got round to this - I think I know where I'm going to join but I don't understand the pricing options on the website so I need to go in and ask - which just hasn't happened yet. I'll carry this one into October I think, as it is definitely something I need to do.
No chocolate. I'm pretty bloody proud of this, especially as it was my birthday this week! I was actually on a training day with work on my birthday and there was a huge tub of Cadbury's Heroes... and I resisted. I'm aiming for Christmas with the no chocolate thing and I have to admit, it's getting easier as the days go on...
See friends at least twice. In September I've managed a night out at the pub with Warrior friends in Scotland, a couple of evenings in with my best friend, a pub quiz night (we didn't win. Now there's a surprise!) and a late-night walk with another friend. Not a bad month, all in all!
Finish the month at least £1000 from the bottom of my overdraft. I did reasonably well here, actually finishing less than £900 from the bottom - result! This has been a long process but I finally feel like the end is in sight in terms of paying this off, and it's very satisfying that I'm paying less in interest each month now.
Have a haircut. ...I tried! My hairdresser has rather inconsiderately been away, so the first appointment I could get was early October - I'm booked in and dreading it but it's long overdue so I'm going to have to suck it up and deal with it!

September Loves.
Kristina at Creepers & Cupcakes posted about five blogging rules she breaks all the time - which was a lovely, relatable read! There can be a lot of pressure in the blogging world about the "right" ways to do things, and it's important to remember every now and then that the right way for you is your way.
Twenty Something Meltdown Pros & Cons of Adulting
If you haven't noticed I've got a massive girl crush on Gwennan yet then, well, take this as written notice. Her Pros & Cons of Adulting post really hit home with me - although I'm not sure why her 'Pros' list is so long, the only plus point I can think of is eating cake for lunch?
Hourglass Surreal Light
Jamie posted some swatches and her first impressions of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Surreal Light which looks bloomin' gorgeous - there's no way I can justify £69 on it but I'll totally be living vicariously through Jamie when she gets her palette.
My options for favourites amongst my own posts are pretty limited this month, but I was pleased with my write-up of Viktor & Rolf's new perfume launch, Bonbon Couture, and I really enjoyed writing my somewhat tongue-in-cheek post about Ten Things Every Blogger Wishes They Could Do, so do check those out if you get chance!

September In Summary.
We sadly said goodbye to my Gran at the beginning of the month - at the ripe old age of 92, she went into hospital and never came home. We had a lovely family funeral service and then a larger memorial service which felt fitting; she had a good send-off. Myself and three of my cousins (my Gran had four children and eight grandchildren!) were coffin-bearers, which was quite emotional but I'm glad I did it - I hope we did her proud. RIP Gran ♥
It feels weird to follow that up with anything else, but there's actually been a lot going on this month! We had the final Total Warrior weekend of the year, up in Edinburgh, which was a lot of fun as always. I volunteered both days and camped for two nights on my own, which I was a little bit nervous about, but it was actually a lot of fun and definitely something I'd do again. It helped that the campsite was less than half a mile from this gorgeous beach!
North Berwick Beach
The weekend after, I took my boyfriend to see McFly in Glasgow - he seems reluctant to admit it, but I know he loved it! I got very emotional and a bit teary-eyed at a few songs, but it was amazing to see them again - I think this was the tenth time I've seen them and I swear they get better every time.
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on
I'm two months into my new job now, which has gone very quickly! I'm loving it, though, it really feels like what I want to be doing, and it's so good to finally feel like I'm on the way to somewhere career-wise. I've had so many opportunities already, most of which have majorly challenged my comfort zones - but I think I've risen to the challenge so far and I'm quite proud of myself!
What have you been up to in September? I'd love to hear the best thing about your month!

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

NEW | Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture*

It's my birthday today! And what better way to celebrate turning 25(!) than a new(-ish) perfume?! I was recently sent a bottle of Viktor & Rolf's new perfume launch, Bonbon Couture*. Launching earlier this month, the scent is described as, "an even more opulent, intense interpretation of Bonbon - the all-encompassing sensory experience of the fragrance is enriched, the ritual enhanced and the ceremonious pursuit of pleasure acutely heightened."
NEW Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture Eau de parfum
Modelled on the original packaging, the outer box is bright-pink and features a plastic seal with the V&R logo - it's these little touches that make the brand feel so high-end, in my opinion. The bottle itself is shaped like a wrapped sweet, although I admit that for quite some time, I thought it was meant to be a bow - and I know I'm not the only one! The bottle features the brand name engraved on the cap, and the little seal with the V&R logo as found on the outer packaging.
The opening notes consist of mandarin, neroli and peach, with a heart of orange blossom, sanbac jasmine and caramel. The base notes include sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla and blond tobacco; these notes combine to give a warm, rich and striking gourmand fragrance which I've fallen in love with. Just a couple of spritzes is plenty to give a noticeable scent, and it last really well on the skin - I can easily still smell it after 12-14 hours of wear, which is pretty good going! It's probably not one for the faint of heart but it truly is a gorgeous perfume and one I've been getting a lot of wear out of in the few weeks it's been sat amongst my collection.
Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture Eau de Parfum
"Like the touch and perfect fit of a unique couture creation of the most opulent textiles such as organza and satin duchesse, Bonbon Couture languidly cloaks the the body as a silky second skin, adhering to the codes of meticulous tailoring, structural silhouettes, and outspoken volumes that are ultimately transformational."
Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture
Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture eau de parfum is priced from £57 for 30ml, available from Selfridge's here, with prices rising to £79 for 50ml and £109 for 90ml. There's no doubt that it's an investment scent but it really is a beautiful fragrance and given how long-lasting it is, there'll be no need to re-spray throughout the day so I expect it to last fairly well.
Do you like the sound of Bonbon Couture? What's your favourite Viktor & Rolf fragrance?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Review | Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask

Well things have been a little quiet around here, haven't they!? I started the month with the best of intentions for blogging a bit more regularly, but then life happened (as it does) and somehow it's been a fortnight since I last posted... Oh well.
I received a deluxe sample of Origins's Original Skin Retexturizing Mask in my Mix & Mask Box and was pretty keen to try it - I've loved all the Origins masks I've tried in the past and, let's be honest, a pink clay mask is pretty much guaranteed to be a winner, amirite?
Origins Original Skin Retexturising Mask Review
"This powerful mask with Mediterranean Rose Clay, Canadian Willowherb and exfoliating Jojoba beads helps gently deep clean while refining skin's texture and restoring radiance.
Like the other Origins masks I've tried, Original Skin is packaged in a squeezy tube which makes it fairly easy to get the product out, and it's nice and hygienic as you're not digging in with your fingers or anything like that. As clay masks go this has a fairly thin texture, it's easy to spread across the skin and doesn't feel thick or sticky; it also has a beautiful delicate rose scent which makes it a real pleasure to use. It has a slightly grainy texture thanks to Jojoba beads which gently exfoliate the skin as you remove the mask - I tend to massage it in gently with damp fingertips before I wash it off, focussing on the more congested areas around my nose and chin.
Origins Original Skin Mask
Following the suggestion of using once or twice per week, leaving on for 10-12 minutes, I've found that Original Skin leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth. I do think it has a bit of a cleansing action as my pores look clearer, especially around my nose where I always get blackheads. I also find that it really calms any redness and leaves my skintone looking much brighter and more even - this really is a bit of an all-round gem for me!
Original Skin is recommended for all skin types and I think I'd agree with that; it works well with my oily, congestion-prone skin to balance and clear out, but it isn't at all drying or stripping, so I think it would be equally nice for normal and even drier skintypes.
Origins Original Skin Rose Clay Mask
Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask is priced at £24 for 100ml, available from Origins here; it's one I'd recommend to anyone looking for a nice, non-drying clay mask that will cleanse and brighten all in one. Have you tried Original Skin? What's your favourite Origins mask?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Friday, 9 September 2016

Ten Things Every Blogger Wishes They Could Do

A lot of people simply don't realise the hard work and sacrifices that go into being a blogger... It's not all PR samples, pumpkin spice lattes and red velvet macarons, you know! Here are ten (semi-serious) things that I'm pretty sure all* bloggers have wished they could do at one time or another... Please read this with your tongue firmly in your cheek, I'm not being serious!
Throw away finished products.
Ah, the Empties post; a beauty blogger staple! But you gotta save up those empties if you want to write a post about them, which means hoarding empty shampoo bottles and foundation tubes for weeks or months. Wouldn't it be nice to finish your conditioner and just put the bottle in the recycling...?!
Well, maybe. I wouldn't know.
Use new make-up/skincare.
You know the feeling; you've just treated yourself to a new eyeshadow palette / lipstick / face mask, and you're dying to try it out. It's just begging to be swatched. But the light is no good for photos, and you cannot use it until you've taken photos of it for the blog. I've developed superhuman self-restraint when it comes to new make-up, but it still kills me... And I kind of wince when a friend buys something and immediately opens it without so much as Snapchatting it.
Eat food while it's still hot.
In a similar vein... We all know you haven't really been to Nando's unless you've Instagrammed it. But the Instagram photo has to be just right, even if that means your food is cold by the time you actually get to eat it. I guess there's something to be said for salads here... See also: forlorn cups of tea in flatlays.
Cross things out in their planner.
Or, you know, their BuJo if they're one of the cool kids. I wish I was one of the cool kids but I don't have the patience to actually set a bullet journal up. Sad times. Maybe I should just pay Gwennan to do one for me... But even then I'd never be able to change any plans or cross anything out because then it wouldn't look pretty in my Instagram photos and that's the whole point of a planner isn't it??
Buy homewares and use them as homewares.
So apparently (I didn't know this!), you can have candles and trinket dishes just to use as candles and trinket dishes. They don't have to be props in flatlays. Who knew!? Similarly, some people have notebooks and just use them as notebooks. Oh, the novelty!
Overhaul their friends' skincare routines...
"Please don't tell me you actually just use make-up wipes to wash your face? You double-cleanse as well, right?" "What do you mean, you don't see how acid can be good for your skin?!" "OH GOD NO DON'T PUT SUDOCREM ON YOUR FACE!!!!"
...and their make-up bags.
The overwhelming temptation to tell them how much better their eyeshadow will last with a primer. The desperate desire to have them introduce a highlighter into their routine. And the certain knowledge that they just don't care. Because make-up is a necessity for them, not a hobby - something you've got to do to look presentable at work, not something you do even when you're not leaving the house because it's fun. Huh.
Keep up with the blogger dramaz.
Just kidding, I hate drama, but just lately it seems like it's been one thing after another on Twitter and frankly, half of us don't know whether we're coming or going with it all.
Just buy something.
You know, without reading six different reviews and tweeting asking for opinions. Every so often I buy something in Boots that I've never heard anything about - it always feels kind of naughty. Like, what kind of blogger buys a foundation without at least doing a Twitter poll first!?
Have a weekend without having to drop everything for "the light".
Sometimes you make plans that don't involve blog things (fool). And often, you end up altering, postponing or straight-up cancelling those plans because ohmygosh the light is perfect for photos right now and, this being Britain, that might not happen again for the rest of the month.
Must. Photograph. All. The. Things.

Is there anything you'd add to my list? What do you wish you could do? Is there anything you miss from your pre-blogging days?

[*Okay, probably not all bloggers. Please don't take this post too seriously, it's only a bit of fun!]

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Irresistible Me Diamond Styling Iron*

A lot of the time, I consider myself to be doing well if I remember to brush my hair - so when Irresistible Me very kindly sent me their Diamond Professional Styling Iron* to try, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to do something a bit different with my hair! They look gorgeous, and are definitely a step up from the somewhat-worse-for-wear GHDs I'd had for eight years - I love that they're bright red.
First things first, you should note that the plug on these straighteners is a US one, but don't let that put you off, as you can pick up adaptors quite cheaply - this one on Amazon is just £1.60! Once that's sorted, it's literally a case of plugging them in and off you go. You hold down the power button for a couple of seconds to turn the straighteners on, and the temperature is then easily adjusted in 10°C increments via an 'up' and 'down' button; all the buttons are on the inside, so you won't knock them whilst using the iron. I've found it heats up to it's maximum temperature of 230°C within about  15 seconds, so there's no hanging round and waiting for them to get going when you're in a rush - I love how quick they are!
Irresistible Me Diamond Hair Styler
This is a dual voltage flat iron, which means it automatically detects the voltage input and adjusts accordingly - so your straighteners are safe to use, wherever you are! The straighteners also very cleverly adjust their temperature units based on the voltage input - so whilst here in the UK, the temperatures are displayed in °C, if you used them in the States for example you'd get °F.
Before and After Diamond Hair Styler
I've been really impressed with how good these are - I have a lot of hair and whilst it's naturally straight-ish (it's actually looking unusually wavy in the 'before' photo on the left above...), it used to take me a good 20 minutes to straighten just because of how much of it there is - whereas with the Diamond Styler, I can easily have my whole head of hair all swishy-sleek and straightened inside ten minutes. The super-smooth plates glide really easily through my hair, and if I section it into around 1" pieces, one run-through is enough - there's no going over and over the same bit, which minimises heat damage as well as saving time!
I love how quick and easy the Diamond Styling Iron is to use, and how my hair looks once I'm done. I don't straighten my hair daily and probably never will, but I have found myself reaching for these two or three times a week. The Diamond Professional Styler is priced at $149 and is currently reduced to just $104 (around £80), available here; if you're in the market for a compact, easy-to-use and high-performance styler with temperature controls, I'd definitely recommend this one! What styling tools do you use? Would you consider Irresistible Me's Diamond Styling Iron?

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

Monday, 5 September 2016

Magazine Freebies | October 2016

I suspect the magazine freebies may be starting to peter out for the year - has anyone else noticed there seems to be more on offer in the summer months? Anyway, there are a couple of good ones in September, so let's have a little look at what you can get your hands on with your reading material...
Magazine Freebies October 2016
Marie Claire (£3.99, Britney Spears on the cover) comes with a choice of four Ciaté nail polishes, each worth £9; I went for 'Dangerous Affair' which is a gorgeous autumnal oxblood shade, but you can also pick up 'Amazing Gracie' (baby pink), 'Prima Ballerina' (greige) and 'The Gossip' (pillarbox red). There's also a 20% discount code for The White Company, a voucher for 25% off at Office, and sample sachets of Tresemmé Beauty-Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner & Shampoo.
Meanwhile, InStyle (£3.99, four anniversary issue covers available) comes with one of two Neal's Yard Remedies products - choose from a 100ml tube of their Geranium & Orange Body Lotion (worth around £11) or a 30ml tube of the matching Hand Cream (worth around £6) - I've picked up the body lotion but will be going back for the hand cream as NYR's are some of my favourites! You also get a 20% NYR discount code.
Have you spotted any other magazine freebies so far this month? Will you be grabbing any of these?


Friday, 2 September 2016

Hello September!

I can't decide how I feel about it being September; on the one hand, it should be a pretty good month (I'm seeing McFly in a couple of weeks, and it's my birthday at the end of the month!), but on the other hand, at risk of sounding like a broken record, how is it September already!? 2016 has absolutely flown past, which is probably a pretty sure sign that I'm getting old, and it kinda feels like my life is just disappearing before my eyes.
So... That got a little deep! On a lighter note, here are my goals for the month:
Keep up running twice a week. I suffer from asthma which is always worse in cold weather, but I'm hoping that by keeping running regularly I'll be able to keep my fitness up so hopefully it won't affect me as much as it has in the past - I know I'm fitter now than I've ever been, so hopefully I can keep that as the weather starts to cool down.
Join the gym. I haven't been going to the gym over the summer (the one I used to go to is in a holiday park, so it's horrendously busy during the school holidays!) and it's about time to re-join - I've been thinking about going somewhere else with a better weights section, but I need to price up local gyms and see what I can afford. I'd like one with a swimming pool, which will probably narrow it down!
No chocolate. I've already forgotten why I thought this was a good idea, but I've already managed five days without chocolate! I'm aiming for Christmas but I do have my birthday at the end of the month so I may have to make an exception for that...
See friends at least twice. It's always nice to catch up with the people who are important to me, and I find that including it in my monthly goals means I make it more of a priority - otherwise, I can suddenly realise that months have snuck past without me having a proper catch-up with anyone.
Finish the month at least £1000 from the bottom of my overdraft. Oh yes, I'm back on the financial goals! My new job pays much better than my old one (partially because it's full-time hours, to be fair!) so I'm hoping I should be able to make much quicker progress on paying off my overdraft now. However I do have an MOT due in September and a credit card bill due, so we'll see how I go on with this.
Have a haircut. This is well overdue, I've been putting it off for weeks because I really, really hate hairdressers but it's getting beyond a joke now. I'm thinking of going a bit shorter as I'm getting sick of my hair being so long, but I haven't really decided yet...
Aside from that, I've got a few things coming up at work, like a course where I'll be starting to learn CBT which I'm mega excited about, and hopefully getting my first patient! We'll also be saying goodbye to my Gran, who sadly passed away a few days ago - at the grand old age of 92, so I can't say it was unexpected, but it still came as a bit of a shock if that makes any kind of sense.
Have you got anything exciting going on in September?! I'd love to hear what your plans and goals for the month are!

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