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2.09.2016

Lush Staple Product Recommendations

Today after a few meetings, I am going to treat myself to a mini Lush splurge - nothing overly fancy, rather a simple trip to replenish on a few firm favourites. Unlike most, I am not the biggest fan of Lush Bath Bombs; don't get me wrong I do enjoy them as an occasional treat but really my interest lies within the bath melts, body scrubs and face masks. Basically I am fairly boring and stick to what I know - well unless it is a new and limited edition collection but that is a post for another day.

So before I ask for a run down of the contents of your Lush basket, virtual or otherwise let me share my top three Lush recommendations - there are of course many others but if I could only choose three, this would be my hand-picked selection.

Lush Staple Product Recommendations

Lush Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub - Luxurious, beautifully aquatically scented with a splash of lime. This gentle scrub gently sloughs off any dry and dead skin, while gently leaving behind a non-greasy hit of moisture. I can't get enough.

Lush Volcano Foot Mask - Hardly anyone ever mentions this nifty foot scrub-come-mask and that is a crying shame. I call it a pedicure in a tub as it effectively removes all traces of dried out skin, softens my feet to a baby like state and refreshes the tootsies. You really need to give it a whirl.

Lush Olive Branch Shower Gel - Is there a better shower gel? I think not, this beautiful almost woody-come-aromatic scented body wash is loaded with natural olive oil to condition, smooth and soothe the skin - it is one of the few shower gels that doesn't irritate my Eczema prone skin. If you have thick, dried out hair this can also double up as shampoo. Yes, you need this.

Of course the above will be coming home with me, along with a few other sneaky purchases but as I am a little stuck in my ways, I would love if you could recommend me a new product to try. I will take all the suggestions on board and hopefully the comment section can serve as a beginners guide to Lush?

2.08.2016

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio

Estee Lauder as a brand is my go-to skincare solutions, especially now that I am beginning to form an interest in anti-ageing formulations and of course are King of full coverage foundation (Double Wear is unbeatable) but not necessarily a counter I seek out when in need of a new fragrance. A shame really, when you consider how beautiful (and popular) the Estee Lauder Modern Muse Eau de Parfum dynasty is. With that in mind, I thought it was only fair that I shared my thoughts on all three fragrances and perhaps helped to steer you towards a scent best suited to you?

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Eau de Parfum £40 - £80 via John Lewis - link.

First up we have the original Estee Lauder Modern Muse Eau de Parfum, that launched way back in 2013 and was my introduction to the Estee Lauder house of fragrance (you can read my initial review here). Modern Muse is different from most scents I own, it has been created by blending two distinctively different accords to provide an innovative dual impression. It is complex, fascinating and wears differently on just about everyone. The two accords are sparkling Jasmine and a sleek woody hit; Jasmine Sambac mingles with dewy Citrus Fruits to achieve a multi-faceted note that is both floral and somewhat fruity. The sleek wood accord is achieved with the unique treatment of two Patchouli essences, coupled with a kick of creamy Madagascar Vanilla, rich Amber wood and soft Musk - the end result is reminiscent of soft leather.

I've touched on the fact that Estee Lauder Modern Muse is a complex scent: grown up yet youthful, flirty yet sophisticated and never cloying. I own nothing similar to draw comparison parallels, what I will say is that is one of the few fragrances I have tried, that will take you from the office to play and with ease too. I also want to add that this is appealing to me (20's) as it is to both my Mother (40's) and Grandmother (70's) - now how many fragrances can you say that about?

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Chic Eau de Parfum £45 - £90 via John Lewis - link.

The next instalment of the Estee Lauder Modern Muse trilogy is Estee Lauder Modern Muse Chic Eau de Parfum, this was launched in 2014 and is best described as a warmer, more intense version of the original Modern Muse scent - a bigger, bossier sister if you will.

The notes are a little different but equally as complex this time around: top notes of plum and artemisia, middle notes of jasmine sambac, tuberose and lily. This is combined with base notes of cashmere wood, oud, patchouli, ebony tree, rounding off with creamy musk and vanilla.
If you enjoy full bodied, sophisticated vanilla based floral fragrances that are long wearing, this is the edition of the Modern Muse family you should seek out.

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rouge Eau de Parfum £44 - £80.50 via John Lewis - link

Famously fronted by Kendal Jenner, Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rouge Eau de Parfum (it launched in 2015) is the latest addition to the Muse line up and in my opinion, the most youthful. If fun, flirty and fruity scents are what you crave, be sure to make a mental note to try Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rouge Eau de Parfum.

Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio
Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio
Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio

The beauty of all of the Modern Muse fragrances is that they sit differently on just about everyone; on me Estee Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge Eau de Parfum is quite warm and sweetly vanilla based, yet on my sister this leans spicier and dare I say it almost fruity. Modern Muse Le Rouge is a fairly strong, long wearing fragrance, however it is ageless - not too mature nor young, not too sweet yet never overwhelming. It is a world apart from the typically sweet and unbearable scents that are aimed at the younger market. If I was working in an environment other than home, this is the scent I would rely on daily - it is grown up yet slightly playful.

In my opinion Estee Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge Eau de Parfum is very similar to Jimmy Choo Exotica Eau de Parfum - both share red fruit notes, spice composure and of course a creamy base; others have compared this to Giorgio Armani Sì Eau de Parfum, noting that the latest Modern Muse addition has a stronger rose note. Regardless of the comparisons, I do think this is one of Estee Lauder's most exciting fragrance launches to date and one that everyone needs to try at least once.

Whatever you choose, I am truly convinced that there is an Estee Lauder Modern Muse scent for everyone. If you can't quite decide between all three fragrances the good news is that there is a cute and rather convenient roller ball gift set, that contains all three versions at a slashed price.

You can find the Estee Lauder Modern Muse Rollerball Trio for £22.66 via Boots - link.



5 Ways to Make Blogging Easier

For one reason or other (at least three bouts of Tonsillitis - grim) falling back into a tight and regular blogging schedule, since the festive season has not been easy. I have been blogging for close to five years (April 2016 is my fifth year - seriously), as such I have been around long enough to know what to do to keep on top of things. I guess, sometimes when you are under the weather and struggling to keep awake, that all goes out the window. I am however annoyed at myself and such have given myself a firm shake, if you are in a similar position here is what I typically do to get sh!t done...

5 Ways to Make Blogging Easier

1, As simple and obvious as it may be, either grab a piece of paper or your phone and make a list of all the things you need to do. I typically work on a week-to-week basis but urge you to find a pace that best suits your needs, and of course free time. On such scrap of paper, I make three separate lists: the posts I want to do in the coming days, any new post ideas and what photos need to be snapped. I then underline or highlight anything that I deem a priority and then decide what needs tackling when. Basically I break everything into daily, bite sized chunks to ensure I don't become overwhelmed and to ensure I actually have the time to do everything. If you can get your hands on one, a weekly list/notepad/deskpad planner, like this - snap it up, it is one of my favourite blogging tools ever.

2, Take photos in batches; admittedly this won't apply to lifestyle bloggers but for outfits, beauty and perhaps even cookery blogs. I'm all for blogging in the moment but let's face it sometimes that is not possible (particularly in the Winter), if you have photos ready-to-go you may just find that you are more productive - I know I do. P.S if you are struggling with the lack of good natural light, I find that currently just around 12pm/1pm is the best source of light.

3, Use your phone/iPad/Tablet when on the go; I often type up posts and ideas and then email them to myself. It saves relying on my memory and of course makes the most of a boring train or bus journey. I personally use the Blogsy, Evernote and Dropbox apps frequently but would recommend scouring the app stores as there is constantly new and free apps being added. I've also heard the WordPress app is great too.

4, Okay, scheduling isn't for everyone and that is okay but if you do like to schedule posts make sure you use Hootsuite to share your post/s on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - it seriously is one of the best blogging tools I have ever used. I should also add that this is also available in app form.

5, Let it go - no I'm not turning into a Disney character but has worrying ever really truly solved anything? I truly find that when I worry, I am far less productive and as such worry more - it becomes a viscous circle. I can't stress enough how much planning has helped me - even if it is just a scrap piece of paper to dump my ideas on, I find it frees up my mind and allows me to re-focus my attentions. I understand that jotting down ideas and to-do lists is not for everyone, if you have the time (and gumption) perhaps go for a walk and allow yourself to breathe. If all else fails take a break from blogging, even just a day or two and I'm sure you will find it a lot easier to punch in a paragraph or two.

Now if you'll excuse me, it is time I put some of my own advice into good practise ha!
Sheet Masks 101

I harp on and on...and on, about sheet masks but I have yet to dedicate a post to the most commonly asked questions in regards to my new skincare obsession. I have taken on board all the queries within the comment section of this site, and of course any tweets/emails in regard to the subject and did my best to answer any burning questions you may have. I do want to stress that I am by no means an expert, and as such if I have missed out anything, or if you have anything to add to this post please do so via the comments - I always welcome discussion. Fasten yourself in for a sheet mask 101 lesson...

Sheet Masks 101


What is a sheet mask?
I guess the best place to begin is with what exactly is a sheet mask? As the title of the product may suggest, it is indeed a sheet of fabric that is doused in facial serum that you place on to your face. In most cases (there are of course exceptions to every rule), the sheet mask has been designed to moisturise the skin along with other skin saving benefits such as brightening, soothing, anti-ageing and sometimes even oil control. All those additional aspects aside, sheet masks are best used for a quick, intensive shot of moisture - with minimal fuss, mess and cost.

Sheet Masks 101

How do you apply/use a sheet mask?
Before you rip open your sheet mask sachet, take the time to cleanse your skin; despite having the appearance of a fancy wet wipe, typically speaking sheet masks do not cleanse and as with any serum based product, to really reap the benefits, a fresh complexion is required. Once you have cleansed, you simply open the sachet, pop on the mask and enjoy. Most sheet masks will come with a recommend application time (typically anywhere from 10-30 minutes) but I tend to leave it on my face until it dries out - it is so relaxing and cooling that it is more of a treat than a chore. After the minutes have ticked away, you simply massage in the serum and then follow up with your regular skincare routine. For those curious I apply my sheet mask at night, then my skin essence, then a serum and my usual night cream.

As a side note within the sachet the sheet masks comes neatly tucked inside, you will find excess serum, I can not recommend enough draining this out of the packet and applying to your hands and neck/chest area.

How often should you apply a sheet mask?
In an ideal world, we would all place a sheet mask on our face daily, for various reasons (namely cost), this is not always possible. Partly in the name of research and because budgeting is not my strong point, for the last two months I have been applying a sheet mask, each and every night and will state that my skin has never looked better. I will openly admit that I have become a victim of routine and do feel that my skin would be in the same state, should I scale application back to 2-3 masks a week. Basically you do need to slap a mask on regularly and be somewhat patient - it was around the 2 week mark before I properly saw long term results. On the flip side they do immediately plump, hydrate and brighten the complexion, so you can dip in and out should you wish.

I do realise the above statement is almost contradictory, basically as a rule for continually bright and deeply hydrated skin = 2/3 times a week; for a quick pick me up = whenever you wish.

Sheet Masks 101

Who are sheet masks for?
In my opinion everyone and anyone; due to the convenience of the easy to transport packaging and no need to rinse formulations, you can pretty much take and apply a sheet mask wherever, whenever. There truly is a sheet mask for all needs and concerns, not to mention ages and I can not recommend popping a few sheet masks in your travel bag, to combat the dry air within an aeroplane. They are also quite the treat after an exercise class and a few hours at the beach - to up the cooling ante you can of course store your sheet masks in the fridge.

Sheet Masks 101

Are there any downsides?
Price and of course becoming addicted to the quick pick me up factors aside, there are very little problems, if any that I have encountered. I have read that the structure of a sheet mask can increase the natural bacteria levels on the face - less than ideal if you suffer from acne. As someone who has battled with adult acne, I have yet to experience this problem - if you are concerned, I recommend cutting out a little chunk of your mask (maybe the nose area) and using this as a patch test.

I guess other downsides include: the masks all come in different shapes and sizes and as such not all will be suited to your face shape. The other main gripe, I notice others noting is the fact that some masks do have a tendency to drip, personally as I pop my mask on while laying flat in bed this isn't an issue but something I thought I should mention none the less.

Sheet Masks 101

I hope the above helps but if I have missed anything out, do feel free to drop me a comment below and I'll do my best to help.

As a side note, I will have a separate post live within the next few days of all my top sheet mask recommendations dependant on skin type/needs. I simply didn't want to overwhelm myself (nor readers) with endless paragraphs of text.


2.07.2016

10 Frugal February Ideas

So February, another month of tightening our belts and counting down to the return of a little sunshine. I do somewhat enjoy the Winter season but feel a little break from the currently dismal weather would be most welcomed, as would a splurge in my local beauty hall. Since neither are on the horizon any time soon, here are a few tips and tricks to make saving money a little easier this Frugal February.

1, Instead of purchasing any new beauty products make do with what you have and finally use up all of those half used items you have lying around - you honestly can not beat the satisfaction of hitting pan. That or I lead an extremely dull existence.

2, Set aside a day and clear out your beauty stash, you may be surprised at what long-lost lipstick or blush you may find? I also find a good ol' clear out really motivates me in terms of blogging and helps to provide me with new post ideas. Try it, you'll be surprised.

3, Sell or pass on, those in-date yet lightly used beauty products that you know you will never go back to. Who doesn't enjoy extra space and/or extra cash.

4, Return those empty pots (MAC, Lush, Khiels etc) back to the respective stores and claim your free beauty products. Free is free after all and if on a spending ban you are technically breaking the rules - loopholes are there for a reason *wink,wink*.

5, Have a beauty swap party - get around all your best buddies, pop all your lightly used and sanitised beauty products on a table and shop each others stashes. Fun!

6, Finally put to use that "brave" lipstick/eyeshadow/blush choice you made a few months ago but have yet to pluck up the courage to apply. Who knows you may just kick yourself for not trying it out sooner.

7, Make February the month in which you use up all the mini fragrance and skincare products, you have most likely collected over the last few months. I have found many a staple fragrance and eye cream this way.

8, Use beauty products in new ways - cream eyeshadows as liquid liners, bronzers as eyeshadows and so on. Don't get stuck in a rut.

9, Why not use any spare time to learn a new beauty skill? YouTube has pretty much a tutorial for anything, just think in four short weeks you could be Queen/King of contouring!

10, Take a long hard look at your beauty collection and figure out where you need/want to spend money next. If you have 10 half used foundations and a plethora of nude lipsticks is it really worth investing in another?

I hope this helps and yes I too am currently cutting back on what I purchase, I want to travel more and that becomes a little tricky when 95% of your cash flow goes towards make-up...whoops.

2.06.2016

Bomb Cosmetics Starry Starry Night Candle

In a word of fancy candles such as Diptyque and Jo Malone, you may overlook great and more budget friendly brands such as Bomb Cosmetics - I know I have. If cute yet sophisticated designs and scents are what you have enjoy, then you really must check out the vast range of candles (and bath products) that Bomb Cosmetics offer. If I could recommend one of many fragrances, it would be Bomb Cosmetics Starry Starry Night Candle and here is why...

As someone who purchases and tests a lot of home fragrances, the one thing I find to be true amongst the budget sector is deep and luxurious scents - perhaps it is more trickier to get right and/or expensive? Who knows, all I know is that there is a distinct lack of options. One candle that is deep, dark, luxe and oddly slightly aquatic - think of it as a rainy, stormy night in home fragrance form is Bomb Cosmetics Starry Starry Night Candle.

Bomb Cosmetics Starry Starry Night Candle
Bomb Cosmetics Starry Starry Night Candle

Bomb Cosmetics Starry Starry Night Candle is dark and slightly sensual concoction, with notes of Frankincense and Vetivert essential oils, combined with both a woody and an oceanic note. I do deem it to be a night time scent, not because it is sleepy but rather the richness couples well with a snuggly blanket and a good book...okay who am I kidding, a Netflix documentary. Bliss.

If the scent is not enough to lure you in, can we quickly talk about the presentation? A dreamy, blue and white adorned tin that features an abundance of stars. The candle itself is as beautiful as the outer casing - light blue wax, sprinkled with golden stars, completed with chunky white and yellow hearts. Yes once the candle is lit it does become a psychedelic mish-mash of colours but if you ask me, this only adds to the charm.

The next time you have the urge to purchase a new candle, promise me you will at least keep Bomb Cosmetics in mind?

Bomb Cosmetics Starry Starry Night Candle £7.99 via Bomb Cosmetics - link.

2.05.2016

Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016

Can Cohorted do any wrong? I have yet to receive a Cohorted beauty box that I haven't enjoy nor openly gasped at the contents and the January edition isn't any different. Four full sized products, from brands we know and love (Lancôme, Too Faced and more), and the best part about it all? The high quality goodies are delivered safe and sound, to your door each and every month. Let me share what was inside the Cohorted Beauty Box, January 2016 edition.

Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016
Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016
Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016

Lancôme Le Correcteur Pro Palette (worth £29.50)
If you have dark circles this could be the nifty little kit you have been searching for: two cream products - one to conceal and one to colour correct, and a perfectly formulated, fine setting powder to keep everything in its place. I don't typically suffer from under eye circles (brag, brag) but use concealer in such area to brighten and prefect; the creamy consistency of the concealer blends beautifully, covers well and isn't prone to creasing. The real star of the show is the setting powder, it keeps even the oiliest of products in place without caking or ever being uncomfortable. I will be the first to admit that I would past the Lancôme Le Correcteur Pro Palette in store but the more I use it, the more I find myself enjoying the little kit.

Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016
Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016

Too Faced Colour Bomb Lip Injection in Coral Pop (worth £19)
Admittedly I am a little over chunky lip crayons but the shade of the Too Faced Colour Bomb Lip Injection in Coral Pop may just have swayed my opinion. A beautiful, almost neon, orange tinged pink that brightens the complexion. I can't think of a better Summer lip colour. Best described as a light, glossy and utterly moisturising highly pigmented lip balm, that gently plumps the lips to their full potential. As a little heads up this does tingle, it isn't overly uncomfortable but it does take a little while to get used to the sensation.

Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016
Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016

Too Faced Soul Mates Blushing Bronzer in Carrie & Big (worth £28)
Not one but two Too Faced products are within the latest Cohorted Beauty Box, along with the above beautiful lip product, this months offering includes a bronzer and blush compact. I have lusted after the Too Faced Soul Mates Blushing Bronzer in Carrie & Big for as long as I can recall. For one reason or another, I never got around to purchasing it. As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and my gosh was it worth the wait - a perfectly peach-y coral blush and a matte, medium toned bronzer. This duo allows you to add a flush of colour, sculpt the cheeks and so much more. I am a little sad to learn that this has been discontinued, if you do stumble across it be sure to at least try it out for yourself.

Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016
Cohorted Beauty Box January 2016

Cargo Lip Gloss Quad in Oceania (worth £15)
I'm not a huge fan of lip gloss full stop but I do imagine that those who enjoy a glossy lip will be thankful of this mini palette. The Cargo Lip Gloss Quad in Oceania contains four neutral shades that vary in tone and intensity, that can be worn individually or of course layered over other lip products. I'm not sure I would reach for this lip kit on a windy day as it is a little on the sticky side, otherwise a great, everyday assortment of lip colours that should suit most complexions.

As with most beauty boxes, the Cohorted Beauty Box contents are a surprise until it lands on your doorstep - who doesn't enjoy a little mystery now and then? The Cohorted Beauty Box is a little more on the expensive side at £35 per box but considering the calibre of the contents inside, I do think it is justified and apparently so do many others as it forever sells out.

If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive the Cohorted Beauty Box here - link.

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