Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Coming Soon - Goals For 2015

2014 was the year I turned into a baby adult. I turned into a fully functioning member of society (I still don’t really know how to work the washing machine but we’ll pretend that doesn’t matter), I’ve experienced upsets, setbacks and I’ve worked my arse off trying to establish my career in marketing. I’ve made big decisions - some I’m happy with, some I’m maybe not so sure about. Being a twenty-something year old is not easy. We have this idealistic image of what our lives should be like and our obsession with social media certainly doesn’t help matters. I turned 23 this year, the age I would have thought I would have started to get my shit together and I’m not even close. I have been very lucky this year and I know I can’t overlook that, 2014 certainly did not start off that way so I am very thankful that at the end of the year I can see how much I’ve progressed. For 2015, I can only hope that I continue to learn and grow. I’m not one for New Year Resolutions, so lets look at this more as some key points and goals for the coming 12 months…

I’ve met some amazing people this year and my best friends have been so supportive over the last 12 months. Since most of us now work full time it’s hard to find time when we’re all free and when we are, chances are we don’t have the energy to get out of our jammies let alone hit the town. I live in the middle of nowhere, so it’s easy for me to use that as an excuse but for my own sanity I need to keep actively making time for my friends - who else will put up with my random rants, drooling over silver foxes and listening to my mother’s latest antics?

I’ve learned a lot in the past 12 months and I’m excited about what 2015 will bring. At the beginning of the year I was planning on going back to University to do a Post-Grad but a position for a start-up beauty company became available and I decided to put a Masters on hold in favour of hands on marketing experience. Marketing is constantly changing, particularly in digital marketing so I need to make sure I'm staying up to date with new ideas and theories. As well as marketing I’m really excited to start focusing more on business development, something I think would be really valuable to have more experience in.

What I do need to remember is that I've only been out of University for 18 months. If I don't get shortlisted for that interview for my dream job or if that meeting/presentation doesn't go well, it's not the end of the world. It's ok to take time off and not check emails or obsess over email open rates or sales figures. I also need to stop second guessing myself, sometimes I'm not sure if I made the right choice with choosing not to go on to do a Post-Grad, but ultimately everything happens for a reason and working for a start up has meant that I do have a lot more influence and control over the basic structure and strategy of the company. 
You can find me on Linked In here if you’d like to connect with me.

I do not need 7 pairs of black ankle boots even if they all do have varying heel heights. I do not need to buy that new £60 serum that promises younger looking skin in seconds. I do not need another mauve/nude/pink/red/burgundy nail polish. This year I’ve been able to save a fair bit of money while living at home but I'm planning on moving to Glasgow with my boyfriend pretty soon so my obsessive saving probably won't be for much longer. I’ve always been pretty good with money but now I need to start considering rent, council tax, bills and insurance all the while still being able to put some money aside for holidays/deposit for the house etc. My priorities need to change and I need to be willing to accept that I won’t be able to go on a little spending spree in Space NK if I have a bad day.

I need a lifestyle overhaul - there are no ifs or buts here. My weight goes up and down but at the moment I’m definitely in one of the up stages. I haven’t been the gym since the clocks changed and I’m more likely to spend my weekend binge watching The Good Wife or Gilmore Girls than going a run. I’m coming home from work and making myself something quick for dinner rather than something healthy even though I enjoy cooking. My boyfriend and I spoke about trying Slimming World or some other variation, hopefully having someone to keep me in check will stop me eating as much rubbish. If I look at it like I’m going on a diet it’s not going to work for me, it’s more about changing the way I eat and becoming more active. And drinking less Cola Zero. I genuinely think I'm addicted to the stuff.

Over the last few months I’ve been feeling quite intimidated by the blogging world due to the number of people who are taking it so seriously. I’m still trying to find my niche with my blog but I’m looking forward to trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t work for me all the while remembering that this is just a hobby and I don’t have to take everything I do so seriously. 

What are your goals for 2015?

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Just Burgers and Beers

Burgers seem to be the food of the moment and I'm certainly not complaining. I've been to my fair share of burger restaurants this past year and Just Burgers and Beers is up there with the best. Located on Royal Mile, it's very easy to find although I'd image with the small front it would be easy to just walk by (I was following Google Maps just in case) - don't be fooled by the size, once you're in it's a decent size. The interior is trendy but not pretentious and there's a really friendly atmosphere with friendly staff. 

The menu offers an array of burgers, all of which can be made with chicken, beef or for veggies and there is the option to build your own - even the fussiest of eaters will have a hard time complaining. The Beer menu is even bigger than the food menu but unfortunately I did find that a lot of the beers that I would have went for (i.e. fruity beers) were out of stock - our waitress was really helpful in suggesting alternatives though.

I went for the Mac Attack with chicken and my friend went for The Anna Nicole Smith, we got curly fries and onion rings between us. The food was really tasty - mac and cheese on a burger is a genius idea. 

Burgers are around £10 without sides and beers are £5-6, which is on the higher end of your average burger restaurant price but these are no ordinary burgers. 

Have you been to Just Burgers and Beers?

Monday, 29 December 2014

Blogs I’ve Loved in 2014

I spend a lot of time reading blogs. And I do mean a lot. My obsession with beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogs turned into part of my job this year and it certainly has made me realise just how many amazing bloggers/writers/photographers there are. This year has been an amazing year for bloggers. When I first found Vivianna Does Makeup and Fleur De Force when I was at University, I was almost embarrassed to tell people what I was reading, fast forward 4 years and now so many bloggers are household names - my dad  even knows who Zoella is. Here are some of the blogs I've been reading religiously this year, I've got a mix of old favourites which I've been reading for years and some I've only discovered this year.

Best of Beauty

If you're a beauty addict you need to read these blogs. Although they all cover a similar topic, they're all so different and offer their own unique take on the world of beauty. And they know how to take a good photo.


These girls sure know how to put an outfit together! I'm more of a jammies and fluffy socks kinda gal myself but after finding these blogs this year, I've definitely found myself being more adventurous when trying on clothes and trying to take clothing inspiration from some of their looks.  

Hilariously Honest

These ladies are brutally honest, hilarious and massively relatable to a twenty-something recent graduate. 

Are there any other blogs I should be reading?

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Future of Blogging

A few weeks ago I was at a Digital Marketing Conference in London and I was fortune enough to hear some amazing speakers share their expertise and their thoughts on the future of Digital Marketing. Firstly, I know what you’re thinking, “Nikki calm down, this isn’t a marketing blog just you stick to talking about lipstick”. In reality people who blog about their favourite lipstick and are hoping to build up a following and possibly even make some financial gain from their blog are essentially using content to market their blog. Part of my job as a digital marketer involves content creation so I write a lot of blog posts and schedule social media updates much like your average beauty/lifestyle blogger. Blogging is particularly popular in digital marketing and is widely used in both B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) capacities to help the brand share their expertise help convey the company’s USP. One session I attended spoke about how blogging in digital marketing has changed. People feel the need to publish posts when in reality they’re not adding any value – the priority has switched from quality content to the quantity of posts. They’re not providing any new information or a new take on a situation or sometimes the post needs developed further or maybe the topic just isn’t actually that interesting in the first place.

I would suggest the same is true about blogging in beauty and fashion. When I first started my own blog I wanted to post 3 times a week. I mean, the hundreds of blog posts with blogging tips said I needed to publish regularly and keep to a schedule so that’s what I was going to do. I’ve realised that on occasion I’ve been writing for the sake of writing and not because I actually had anything new or valuable to say, I just felt I needed to get a post out and I doubt that I’m alone in admitting this. Does the blogging world really need another blog post declaring their love for Jo Malone Candles/Bioderma or Christmas Gift Guides with the exact same products? Is this adding value to your blog?

I’m by no means saying that if you fall head over heels in love with a hyped up product that you shouldn’t be declaring your love from the roof tops (Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, I’m looking at you), but I think that in 2015 we need to think creatively. We need to do something different and not always follow the same tried and tested method of beauty blogging.  

What do you think? Have you ever found yourself publishing a post for the sake of it?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Antipodes Manuka Honey Mask - The Neglected Face Mask

Having dehydrated but combination/oily skin means that it’s a constant battle to keep my skin hydrated while trying to control oil and breakouts. Like anyone who’s obsessed with skincare I have a plethora of masks to suit all occasions however having temperamental skin, I very rarely mix it up. Aesop Parsley Seed Masque and Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel make a weekly appearance and when I need to bring in the big guns out comes Origins Clear Improvements. I’ve had Antipodes Manuka Honey Mask in my skincare basket for quite a while and despite the hype, it  was left pretty much neglected. Until now. 

If you’re a regular on the beauty blog circuit I’m sure this mask needs no introduction - moisturising, cleansing and packed full of antioxidants this mask does it all. It contains glycerin, avocado and natural oils to hydrate and of course, manuka honey known for it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-sceptic and healing properties. It’s a slightly odd texture, it’s more like a rich gel than a mask and you can barely feel it on the skin. Once you take it off, now that’s a different matter. Skin is soothed, hydrated and just looks healthy. I’m not 100% sold on the clarifying side of the mask but it’s certainly calms and soothes the skin.

Antipodes Manuka Honey Mask is well and truly back in rotation.

Have you tried Antipodes Manuka Honey Mask?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

What I've Been Reading #5

book review

It’s really hard to give a synopsis of this book without ruining it. I’d seen this mentioned on a couple of blogs but I hadn’t actually read what it was about and I’m glad I hadn’t - it’s better going into this book blind. What I will say is that it’s set in dystopia where there are very few survivors. Ten year old Melanie spends her life going between her cell and a classroom where she loves learning and loves her teacher, Miss Justineau. We’re quickly made aware that things aren't quite as they seem as Melanie and her classmates are shackled to their seats and are starved of psychical contact. It’s one of those books that haunt you even after you’ve finished it. It’s emotional and gripping and definitely one of my favourite books I’ve read this year.

I’d first like to point out that I’m really not a fan of time travel. I couldn’t finish The Time Travellers Wife (possibly the only book in the last 5 years that I point blank refused to finish reading), I refused to read the second of the All Souls Trilogy despite really enjoying A Discovery of Witches and even frowned slightly at Hermione’s Time Turner. I bought The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August without really reading much about it after it came up as a suggestion on Amazon. It could have went horribly wrong but surprisingly it didn’t. Think Groundhog Day mixed with Captain America without the superheroes. Every time Harry August dies he is reborn into his past life with with all of his previous memories. Throughout his first few lives he tries the family man approach, becomes a doctor, an academic before finding that something is causing havoc earlier in each of his lives and he must try to stop it. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is certainly a page turner and good sci-fi for those who don’t like sci-fi. 

Where She Went - Gayle Forman
Following on from If I Stay but from Adam’s point of view at the height of his musical career. It goes into how the accident effected him and what happened to Mia. As I mentioned in my last What I’ve Been Reading post, I really enjoyed If I Stay but the sequel just didn’t do it for me. It took the “I can’t live without you” approach that I really don’t enjoy in teen fiction. 

The Humans - Matt Haig
This was described as “a love letter to humanity” on Amazon and I really couldn’t describe it any better. After a mathematician makes a breakthrough which a certain alien civilisation doesn’t think humans can handle, an alien is sent to take over his body to make sure that his findings are never brought to light. Having never experience emotions, this alien ends up developing relationships and learning what love is. There’s one particular part where the alien is giving his pretend son advice for life which brought me to tears. It’s funny and leaves you with the “maybe humanity isn’t so bad” feeling.

I Am Pilgram - Terry Hayes
Oh how I love a thriller. This is Homeland mixed with James Bond with a little bit of B613 from Scandal thrown in. Pilgram is first introduced as an agent from a US Intelligence group who is looking to retire. This retirement is short lived when he is asked to help with a potential global crisis. At 700 pages, you’d need to be a committed reader for this one. At times Hayes drags the story but it’s worth persevering. 

American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis
After discovering just how much I enjoy reading Irvine Welsh books I thought I would try some Bret Easton Ellis. This is without a doubt most horrifically disgusting book I have ever read however the way Patrick Bateman’s character is developed throughout the book and how he normalises his violence is fascinating. Not one to read if you have a weak stomach but it’s definitely made me want to read more transgression fiction and I now think that everyone I pass in a suit is a psychopathic serial killer. 

Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
This is often considered a must-read book however after reading it I really don’t understand what the fascination is. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the story - single, 30-something Bridget obsessing about her weight and love life, something I’m sure all females can relate to to some extent. It has laugh out loud moments and who couldn’t love Mark Darcy but I was just left feeling a bit meh. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

What I've Been Watching #1

American Horror Story Freak Show
Despite being an absolute wuss, I’ve been addicted to AHS from the start. The stories, the characters and the overall weirdness just suck you in entirely. Now in it’s fourth series, Freak Show looks as though it’s going to be just as creepy as Asylum (The Cover was a bit disappointing, so we’ll not go there) and I’m only on the second episode. Probably not one to watch when you’re in the house on your own though…

Gilmore Girls
Without a doubt one of favourite TV series (thank you Lauren). Gilmore Girls is one of those programmes that you end up going through the emotions with the characters - you feel their happiness, their sadness and their frustration. Rory and Lorelai aren’t your typical TV family - Lorelai is a single mum from a teenager pregnancy and their relationship is more like best friends than mother daughter. Throw in Melissa McCarthy as Sookie and other hilarious characters along with the cutest town on TV and you have a seriously addictive TV programme. 

Ru Paul’s Drag Race
Oh. My. Lord. These ladies like to throw some serious shade. A girl at my work has been obsessed with this for months and I wish I’d listened to her sooner - I’ve basically been binge watching this non stop lately. It’s basically America’s Next Top Model for Drag Queens so think seriously fierce makeup and hilarious personalities. What more could you want?! Halleloo!

The Maze Runner
I’ve recently spoken about finishing the book series so I was really looking forward to the film. Thomas wakes up in an lift with no idea who or where he is. He finds himself trapped in the Glade surrounded by The Maze as part of a community who seem to have given up hope of ever escaping. When a girl shows up with a note saying that she’s the last one they know they have to make their move. It’s fast paced and keeps you thinking. My boyfriend hasn’t read the books and really enjoyed it. As someone who has read the books, I did enjoy it but I had the usual frustrations at how much the film deviated from the book. I understand that film adaptations need to adjust for the cinema but this is quite an extreme example. In it’s own right, a good film but I wouldn’t say it’s a very good adaptation. 

This week Criminals Minds and Grey’s Anatomy are back on Sky Atlantic too - I’m probably more excited than I should be for TV just now.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Body Shop Haul

The Body Shop Top Picks

The Body Shop have been absolutely killing it with their offers lately. Last week they were offering £25 off with orders over £50, I went on to have a look at their exfoliators but ended up with a basket full. 

Shea Body Scrub £13 - These scrubs are fab. They smell amazing and they give a proper exfoliation without leaving the skin feeling raw. I’m really excited to try this to see if the Shea Butter variety offers a bit more hydration.

Shea Body Butter £13 - Believe it or not but I’m actually down to my last Body Shop Body Butter from this post. The Shea Body Butter is perfect for dry skin, it’s one that I favour mainly in the winter when my usually dry skin is even drier. 

African Honey and Beeswax Hands and Foot Butter £10 - I’ve heard Essie Button rave about this stuff and I certainly understand why. It’s super rich without feeling to sticky and leaves your hands and feel super soft. I’m already planning on repurchasing this and I’ve only been using it a week. It’s that good.

Body Brush £8 - I’ve heard so much about dry brushing but I’ve never tried it. After finishing Clarins Body Lift, I feel as though I’ve been missing something to help control the cellulite on my legs. When I don’t plan on getting my legs out any time soon I would grudge paying the small fortune for the usual lotions and potions so I thought this would be a good option. I’ve only been using this a week so I haven’t seen any difference with the cellulite but it certainly does well exfoliating. I’ll get back to you in a couple of weeks. 

No More Rough Stuff Foot Smoother £4 - I’m really not a big feet fan so without going into any gross details, this does exactly what you would expect it to and for £4, it’s reasonably priced.

Mango Shower Gel £4 - This was actually a random add on to take my order over £50, I’ve never tried shower gels from The Body Shop. I’m using Lush Snow Fairy just now so I haven’t tried this yet but it smells AMAZING. 

Have you tried any of these? Is there anything else I should try from The Body Shop?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Zoella/Independent Article - My Thoughts

“Too much of her inane chatter reinforces the age-old premise that women must be beautiful if they are to lead happy lives, and that what we care about, above all else, is how to do a flawless festival-ready top knot” – this is a quote from “Sure, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella” which appeared on The Independent online. Not only has this article infuriated me due to the fact that the author seems to know very little about Zoella, the fashion and beauty blogging community, the fashion and beauty industry as a whole or even teenage culture in today’s society. And let’s not even go into modern feminism.

Her main issue with Zoella seems to be with how she “instructs young girls how to paint on the perfect smoky eye or red lip”. Yes, Zoella is first and foremost a beauty blogger and has numerous hair and makeup tutorials (along with numerous other videos which discuss her issues with anxiety). Zoella’s personality, which the author quite rightly describes as “very Disney”, makes her very popular amongst the pre to early teen group – i.e. the age that young girls are going to look at celebrities on TV and in magazines and ask themselves why they don’t look like X, Y or Z. The same group who have been used to worshipping Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and One Direction (great role models right there…). Zoella’s approachable and simple take on makeup using a mixture of luxury and drug store products once again makes her a good option for the younger fashion and beauty consumer who obviously don’t have the disposable income to buy high end products but might look to save up for that special lipstick.

So my question – what’s the issue? Surely the author’s problem is more with gender identity - why do young girls feel the need to look to fashion and beauty? The way I see it is that young girls are going to be interested in makeup. From a young age we’ve watched our mothers, aunts and grandmothers put their makeup on. Young girls enjoy playing with colour and I don’t see why that’s a problem. From the business side of things it’s a multi-billion pound industry which puts a hell of a lot of money into the British economy. It’s not about painting your face or trying to look pretty for that cute boy - it’s about empowerment.

Or is her issue with today’s culture which is heavily based on consumerism? Marketers make potential customers feel that they need the latest iPhone, the latest designer handbag or the latest wonder product which is going to make you look 10 years younger. Unfortunately, this is what our economy is built on. Blogs and YouTubers do have a lot of influence when it comes to making or breaking products, particularly in the world of fashion and beauty. This in itself does bring to question the full ethical issue surrounding sponsored content/PR samples but this is an issue for the full blogging community not just Zoella.

Both of these are big sociological issues and hardly seem like something a 24 year old, who until recently blogged in the bedroom of her parent’s house, should worry about. Zoella is not openly smoking, drinking and doing god knows what like Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber. She’s not going through relationship after relationship like Harry Styles. She’s a normal girl who starting videoing herself talking about something she is passionate about. She’s worked hard and has managed to make a living out of doing something she loves not to mention the fact that she’s working with mental health charity mind, so once again, what’s the issue? Surely this normal girl is the type of person you’d want as a role model for young girls.

You go Zoella! You take over the world! 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Coloristiq - LoveFilm for Nail Polish Lovers

As I’m sure you’ve seen, I’m a bit of a nail polish addict (ok, that’s a bit of an understatement). I know I’m not the only one who has more nail polishes than they’re ever going to use and although I hate to say it, it is quite wasteful (and expensive). Coloristiq has just launched their “LoveFilm for nails” service where you create a wish list from a variety of Essie, OPI and China Glaze polishes. You’ll be sent 3 polishes a month and when you’re finished using the polishes, you send them back in the same box using the protective covers and then post it using the prepaid sticker that’s included. Simple as that.

Coloristiq already have a great range of colours and textures (you can see them all here), so it’s great for trying something different without the risk of wasting money. It’s also a great chance to try different brands, I’ve never actually owned any China Glaze polishes so I’m really excited to see how they compare to my beloved Essie. 

For £14.49 a month it’s certainly good value considering the price of a single polish from the brands that they offer retail at anywhere between £8 - £14. My biggest concern with this would have been related to hygiene but they assure their customers that high hygiene standards are maintained and when every polish is returned each bottle is sanitised. If you have any other concerns their FAQ can be found here

Coloristiq were also very kind and have offered the chance to get your first month free here. Just register as normal then email quoting NIKKI1 and they'll refund your first payment.

What do you think of Coloristiq? 

PR Sample

Sunday, 19 October 2014

What I've Been Reading #4

What I've Been Reading
I read the first Maze Runner book a good few months ago and for some reason it was only this month I picked up the rest of the series. Unlike a lot of similar teen dystopian series, The Maze Runner Trilogy didn’t leave me with that feeling of disappointment and frustration (Divergent, I’m looking at you), the three books flowed well and I really became attached to the characters. If you haven’t read the first book, I don’t really think I can go too much into the story without ruining it but if you’re like me and love a bit of teen fiction, it’s definitely a series to read.

Daughter - Jane Shemilt
I love a thriller and Daughter seems to be the thriller of the moment. The story is told from mum, Jenny’s point of view as she sees her perfect family break apart after her teenage daughter disappears. It’s full of the usual twists along with the usual revaluation that her perfect family is not as perfect as it seems. Although I was quite surprised at the ending it just doesn’t stand out from the other thrillers I’ve read recently.

The Mangle Street Murder - M. R. C. Kasasian
Set in the 1880s, Sindney Grice and March Middleton take on the pre-Holmes and Watson detective duo to solve a murder. The relationship between the characters is hilarious and the story is gripping but stays light enough that it’s still funny throughout. I really enjoyed this book, it’s one not to take too seriously, it’s almost like a humorous take on Sherlock Holmes but it’s quirky and fun.

If I Stay - Gayle Forman
Mia has a lot to love in life. She is a cellist who could be on her way to Julliard. She has a wonderful, loving, and supportive family. And she has a boyfriend who is perfect. But as wonderful as Mia's life is, she has choices to make. Should she go to Julliard and leave everyone behind?
When a terrible accident occurs, Mia suddenly finds herself with only one choice left - should she stay?
Oh lordy, this was an emotional book. I was completely in love with the characters - even the relationship between Adam and Mia (I normally hate overzealous relationships depicted in teen fiction). I was completely sucked in to this story - it’s definitely one to read. 

Filth - Irvine Welsh
Following Welsh’s typical style, Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson is a repulsive and corrupt police officer in Edinburgh. Filth is equally disgusting and brilliant. I found Trainspotting quite hard to read (despite people in area actually speaking like Renton, Spud and Sick Boy), but I had no trouble with Filth - it still uses the local dialect but it’s definitely a lot more toned down. I’m looking forward to reading more Irvine Welsh books, I have no idea how it’s taken me as long to see the fascination with him. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Essie The Perfect Cover Up

This colour is very much out of my comfort zone. As much as I'm a nail polish addict, I'm all about the pinks, purples and reds. It was actually my mum who picked this up in an attempt to get me away from the 3 for 2 offer in Boots (not as easy task, I'll tell you that - I'm a committed shopper). The Perfect Cover Up is described as "powerful peacock teal" but it's one of those colours that seems to change. In some lights you it's more green/teal and in others it's more navy/teal but either way it's beautiful on the nails. It's definitely a lot nicer on than it is in the bottle and it's a lot more wearable than I thought it would be. The actual formula seems thicker although still the amazing wear time that you expect with Essie. This photo was taken on day 4. I kid you not.

What do you think of The Perfect Cover Up?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Autumn Wishlist #3 - Boots

1 - 2 - 3
4 - 5 - 6

I live in ankle boots so I'm currently on the hunt for a pair that are pretty and comfortable but will also last the 9 months of Autumn/Winter in Scotland.

Have you been getting excited about Autumn shopping too?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Nars Mini Haul

Despite loving everything I’ve tried from Nars I only have a handful of Nars products in my makeup drawers. When I got an email from Space NK saying that my N.Dulge birthday treat was a mini Nars Satin Pencil in Rikugien I couldn't help but see this as a sign from the Makeup Gods that I needed to treat myself to a couple of products.

Nars Blush in Doucheur - I originally bought this soft pink brown blush to use as a more subtle contour colour but it’s so pretty on the cheeks on its own. It gives a bit more warmth and looks really nice and natural, I can see this quickly becoming my go-to everyday blush.

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Sex Machine - I’ve heard such great things about these little lip pencils and I was certainly not disappointed. This colour is a classic your lips but better but with a bit more mauve. I’ve had this on every day since I bought it - it seems to go with everything! It feels comfortable on the lips despite it being a matte finish and the staying power is great. My only issue is the fact that you need to sharpen them, it’s great that it’s more hygienic than the likes of Clinique Chubby Sticks but it just seems a bit more of a faff and I feel as thought you would be wasting more of the product.

Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien - What an amazing little gift! It’s very clever that marketers are offering gifts and discount codes for birthdays but I love how this little offer wasn’t exclusive to making a purchase - definitely makes me feel as though they’re interesting in giving great service on a more personal level as opposed to just making a sale (I’m aware that that is obviously their end goal but it least it didn’t feel as pushy). The satin version of the Nars lip pencils leave the lips more hydrated and give a balm like finish. Colour wise it is actually quite similar to Sex Machine although this leans more on the rose toned side of the your lips but better scale. 

What do you think about exclusive birthday offers? What’s your favourite product from Nars?

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Autumn Wishlist #2 - Candles

As much as I firmly believe that candle burning is a year long affair, in Autumn I definitely up the ante. Fruity, woody, spicy or sweet, I don’t discriminate but at this time of year you really can’t beat something a bit richer. When it comes to variety, John Lewis is one of the best and when it comes to candles it certainly doesn’t disappoint. It stocks everything from Jo Malone and Diptyque to Yankee Candle and Cowshed so there’s something to suit everyone. I’m normally pretty loyal to Jo Malone for candles but after spending a lot longer than I’d care to admit browsing through the candles on the John Lewis website, I’ve managed to whittle it down to a top 5 which I’ll be keeping an eye out for next time I’m in store. 

First things first, Diptyque was the brand I was originally looking at before I got side tracked. I’ve heard so much about the Figuier scent and although it sounds lovely, it was the Ambre candle that made my finger twitch at “add to basket”. With eucalyptus, bark and crushed leaves it sounds as though it would be the perfect addition to a dark autumn night. 

 I was a big fan of the Neom Tranquility Candle, I sometimes find lavender scented candles to be a bit too sickly but it balanced well with the sweet basil and jasmine so I would be excited to try out some of their other scents. The Christmas Wish Organic Scented Candle caught my eye with it’s mandarin, cinnamon and tonka bean scent - definitely christmas in a jar. 

Although I always admire the Molten Brown gift sets I’ve never actually tried anything from the brand. The Yuan Zhi Forte scented candle caught my eye, not for the name, but for the indian ginger, tangerine and cedar wood scent. 

I’m not familiar with Tom Dixon but I really like how these are something a bit different from the typical glass jar. This gift set contains 3 different scents - London “smell of red brick and London parks with crocuses and nettles, and the salty smell of the Thames at Dagenham”; Royalty “reminiscence of tea time with a pot of Earl Grey, scones with strawberry jam and the drive home in a ‘52 Bentley with tatty leather seats” and Orientalist “faint memory of an Indian wedding with rose petal garlands- giant cinnamon sticks on the beach stalls and the musky smells of the Chinese herbal market”. 

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir is my all time favourite candle so I really couldn’t miss this one out - “rich fruits, white flowers and elegant woods into the air, you can bring to life a mood that is intimate and comforting”. Perfect description. Need I say more? 

Do you have any other candle recommendations?

Friday, 26 September 2014

5 Product Face - Work Edition

I really like sleep. It's one of my favourite things in the world. Unfortunately having to work tends to get in the way of my relationship with sleep (the full being a grown up thing causes so much hassle). Lately, without even realising it, I've whittled down my basic makeup routine for work to 5 products helping me get those extra 5 minutes in bed. Although I still work in fashion and beauty, working for an online company means that I no longer have to show up to work with a full face of makeup (which my skin is definitely thankful for) so I tend to keep everything natural.

1. Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturiser - perfect for throwing on with fingers to even out skin tone. Although it has a light coverage the staying power is decent.
2. Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Pale Pink -  as an oily skinned gal, I find that cream blush lasts a lot longer on my skin than powder, so for work I tend to opt for Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge. This pink colour gives a subtle flush to the cheeks and is perfect for every day wear. I pop a little on the apple then blend using a Real Techniques Stippling Brush. This can also be used on the lips as a stain although I tend to just use a tinted lip balm.
3. Benefit Gimme Brow - I'm still on the hunt for that perfect brown pencil but in the meantime, Benefit Gimme Brown is great for giving my brows a bit of colour and some added definition.
4. Mac Eyeshadow in Patina - I blend this into my crease with a Mac 217. Although it's subtle I feel adding a bit of eyeshadow just makes me look a bit more put together (and hopefully gives the impression that I have spent more than 3 minutes doing my makeup).
5. Lancome Hypnose Mascara - lengthens and defines without looking too overdone (although it layers really well and can definitely keep up with the best "big lash" mascaras).

What's your makeup routine like for work?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Essie Bahama Mama - The Perfect Purple?

I’m sure a day will come where I’m not talking about an Essie polish but I’m afraid today is not that day. Although the weather doesn’t seem to know what it’s doing in Scotland, I’m fully embracing the Autumn colours. Bahama Mama is described as a “warm, rich plum purple” and it definitely is just that. I have a serious obsession with the colour purple and this polish is one of my faves. I find it a lot more wearable than lilacs and bright purples (although I certainly don’t discriminate) as it’s more of a berry toned plum/purple. I’m sure this it Bahama Mama well and truly back into the nail polish rotation. 

While I'm talking about nail polishes, I also wanted to mention Coloristiq. They're essentially Love Film but for nail polish and will be stocking Essie, OPI and China Glaze. They're about to launch and if you register now you get your first month for free! Have a look here for more information about how this works.

What do you think of Bahama Mama? What’s your favourite purple polish?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Attention Shoppers - Debenhams Mega Week

Oh how I love Mega Week at Debenhams. 10% off beauty and fragrance, up to 25% off womans wear, menswear and home - what's not to love? If you're looking to add some Autumn items into your wardrobe or makeup bag, now is the perfect time to take advantage of that extra discount.

Online now and instores from tomorrow.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Would You Know if Someone Was Having a Stoke?

There are approximately 152,000 stroke a year in the UK. That is more than 1 every 5 minutes.

What is a stroke?
A stroke is caused when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, this is either due to a blockage or a bleed.

Are some people more at risk?
Yes, preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol can increase chances of having a stroke, as can life style factors such as diet, drugs, alcohol, smoking and how active you are. 

Checking for Symptoms - FAST

Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have dropped
Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift one or both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake
Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms

Other signs and symptoms may include:

numbness or weakness resulting in complete paralysis of one side of the body
sudden loss of vision 
communication problems, difficulty talking and understanding what others are saying 
problems with balance and coordination 
difficulty swallowing 
sudden and severe headache, unlike any the person has had before, especially if associated with neck stiffness
blacking out (in severe cases)
(from NHS

I’ve been pretty absent from the world of blogging this week as unfortunately my gran had a stoke. She was dealt with very quickly and the paramedics, doctors and nurses were fantastic with her - in the grand scheme of things she was a very luck lady. She’s out of hospital and is definitely on the mend (she even insisted on voting on Thursday!). I thought today I would take a step back from beauty and highlight some of the key symptoms of a stoke, I don't mean to sound morbid but you never know, it could save someone's life.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel - Radiant Skin in a Bottle

After running out of my REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask, I fancied trying something a bit different (I am pretending to be a blogger after all) and picked up the Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel. This mask uses Papaya and Pineapple fruit enzymes to brighten and clarify the skin while using more soothing ingredients like Milk Protein and Marine algae to moisturise and repair the skin. This is actually the first Elemis product I’ve tried so I had high hopes.

The first thing I noticed when I started using this mask was the amazing smell – I’ve found that very few products I’ve bought recently actually smell like the ingredients so I was pleasantly surprised when this did actually smell like papaya (if you’ve had a look at my recent empties posts, I’m sure you’ll have gathered that I’m a fan). I left this on for just under 15 minutes as the mask recommends and wiped it off using a flannel to brighter looking skin. My pores looked smaller; my skin tone looked more even which made my skin look clearer and my skin felt clean but still hydrated and comfortable. To compare it with the REN Glycolactic Mask, I would say that this mask feels like a slightly milder baby sister while giving similar results making it the perfect option for those with more sensitive skin. The prices are very similar with the REN mask sitting at £30 and Elemis mask sitting at £29.50 on Look Fantastic (full price this is £31).  

I’ve definitely been impressed with this little Elemis number and next time I see a gap in my skincare shelf (or I’m feeling a bit spendy) I’ll be heading over the Elemis counter. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Empties #2

I've been continuing my one woman mission to use up the half empty products which have been cluttering my bedroom and bathroom. I have another big batch so at least I'm making progress! 

Origins Clean Energy Cleansing Oil - I first bought this oil when I was working on counter so I was wearing a lot more makeup than I normally would on a day-to-day basis. I was looking for something that would take Estee Lauder Double Wear off quickly and without taking half of my skin off (if you’ve worn Double Wear you’ll know what I mean). I picked this up after hearing about how it was hydrating and would help protect the skins natural moisture barriers while being lightweight and non-comedogenic and I has certainly not disappointed. It takes everything off quickly, leaves my skin feeling clean but hydrated and smells amazing. And this bottle has lasted for absolutely ages. I had a backup waiting. 

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask - If you’re a blog reader I’m sure I don’t need to explain this one. It uses natural fruit acids to get rid of dead skin leaving skin looking brighter and clearer it’s perfect for skin that’s a little congested. It’s one of the few products that I think you can instantly notice a difference in your skin. I really enjoyed using it but I fancied trying something different so I bought Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel (full review coming up). I would buy this again though.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye - a great little eye cream with all the same features as the serum (fights all key signs of ageing, sweeps away free radicals, hydrates and helps repair the skin from previous damage). It feels amazing on the skin and I always notice the difference when I use something else. At £40, I don’t feel it’s quite a necessity for a 22 year old but certainly I would repurchase if there was an offer or Gift with Purchase. 

Estee Lauder Idealist Cooling Eye Illuminator - this is great for eyes that are prone to dark circles and puffiness. The dark circle correcting complex works on the underlying causes so although the formula helps instantly brighten the eyes, it is helping on the long terms basis. I really liked using this and it was always an eye cream I used to recommend on counter but I can’t say I really need the help with dark circles and puffiness yet and I do think £40 is a bit much for it so I’m not sure I would buy this again. 

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II - magic in a bottle. It repairs your skin at a cellular level and helps leave skin looking more radiant, clearer and hydrated. Definitely my favourite skincare product. I have an extra one from my Lauder days, but I would definitely buy this myself in the future. I love the little brown bottle.

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic - this has been my go-to hydrating toner for the while. I think this is my third bottle actually. It gives the skin a little extra hydration helps soothe and brighten the skin. I have a spray bottle which I just top up with the normal bottle. I have already repurchased. 

Philip Kingsley Flaky/Itchy Scalp - my favourite shampoo. Nothing keeps the psoriasis on my scalp under control like this bad boy. It leaves my hair feeling clean, my scalp feeling comfortable and doesn’t dry out my hair. I already repurchased this.

Nizoral Dandruff Shampoo - I bought this after Vivianna Does Makeup said she uses it when she gets a psoriasis flare up on her scalp. I can’t say I actually noticed very much of a difference with this, it certainly left my hair feeling very clean but I don’t think it actually did much for my scalp. I found it pretty drying, so I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing any time soon.

L’Oreal Hair Expertise Ever Riche Mask - I’ve had this sitting in my bathroom for well over a year. Although it did hydrate, I found it left my hair feeling heavy. I won’t be repurchasing.

Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Mineral Hair Rescue Masque - another one I’ve had sitting in my bathroom. I loved the smell of this and I enjoyed using it, it didn’t leave my hair feeling heavy but still hydrated my hair - it’s nice but it’s just not amazing. I think if this was on offer I would pick this up again though.

Ojon Rare Blends Deep Conditioner - I’ve spoken about my love for this mask here. Without a doubt my favourite mask and I still haven’t found anything that comes close. I stocked up on this before I left Lauder, so I have another 2 in my cupboard.

Kerastase Elixir Ultime for Damaged Hair - I mentioned this in a previous post about hair oils. I really liked this oil, it was light enough that I could use it to give my hair a little moisture moist between washes as well as pre and post shampoo. I would buy this again.

The Body Shop Papaya Body Butter - Another one bites the dust. This was featured in my last empties and I mentioned in a previous post that I’m well stocked up on this stuff. 

Mac Brush Cleanser - I use this every couple of days to give my makeup brushes a clean between washes. It cleans brushes and leaves them feeling clean and soft. I already repurchased. 

Clarins Body Lift Cellulite Control - I bought this last year before going on holiday last year in an attempt to firm up my legs and calm down the cellulite. I used it religiously for a good 8 weeks and I actually did notice a bit of a difference (this was at the height of running phase though). I started using this again before going to Portugal and I can’t say I noticed quite the same results. I think I’d have to do more research into similar products before buying again.

What have you finished recently?