Lookfantastic December Beauty Box | #blogmas Day 4 

For the past year I have subscribed to LookFantastic’s Beauty Box. As I’m trying to limit the amount of beauty products I have waiting to be used at home I won’t be renewing my subscription. The December #LFxmas box then will be my last. Ironically it is probably one of the best boxes I have received from LookFantastic this year. 

So what’s inside? 

Illamasqua Hydra Veil Primer – I have wanted to try this primer for so long but couldn’t justify spending out £32 on it . I was ridiculously excited to see this in December box then. It is a generous 6ml deluxe sized sample so should give me a chance to throughly try it out.

The Primer has an almost jelly like texture and contains a blend of Vitamin C and B3 and skin nourishing micro algae. My first impressions are very very good. I used this yesterday and my make looked and stayed flawless till I removed it. I’ll let you know my further thoughts after a couple of weeks using this. 

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer – I have used this pre-shampoo treatment many times before after receiving it in other beauty subscription boxes. It does a great job of adding bounce and volume to my hair without any stickiness. Again the rrp of this product is high so I’m always delighted to receive it in a box. 

Balance Me Pure Skin Face Wash – Balance me is brand that I tried before and enjoyed. I haven’t tried this cleanser before though so am happy to have the opportunity to try it out. 

It contains grapefruit and frankincense oils which help to gently reduce skin congestion and blemishes. I can often find anti blemish cleansers too harsh for my skin so am hopeful that this will work for me. 

BUBBLE T Bath Bomb – I love a bathbomb so was really pleased to see this included in the box. 

It is free from parabens and SLS so suitable for those with sensitive skin. I can’t comment on the scent yet as it is in a sealed packet but it is Hibiscus and Acai Berry Tea scented. 

Skin Republic Caviar and CoQ10 Sheet Mask – I’m a huge sheet mask fan. This contains an interesting balance of ingredients so I’m expecting it to be good. Caviar is rich in vitamins that provide hydration, whislt Witch Hazel helps to fight blemishes. I’m not sure what CoQ10 is but is is supposed to contribute to skin healthiness. 

Mello Cosmetics Madness Lipstick – I have not seen much from this brand before. So a lipstick is a good introduction to the brand. It is a New Zealand based cruelty free brand that is suitable for vegans and free from parabens. 

This looks like is a true matte red lipstick in the bullet but swatches a little bit on the pink side of red. 

The #LFxmas is such a great box so im finishing my subscription on a high note. There isn’t one product I won’t use. The stand out product for me has to be the Illamasqua hydra veil as it’s been on my wish list for about two years. I will let you know soon how I get on with it over a longer period of time. 

Pre Party Beauty Prep | #Blogmas Day 3

With the Christmas Holiday season rapidly approaching those long awaited parties are starting to happen. I have 3 to attend in the space of a week yay! Obviously then I want to look my best so I have been indulging in some pre party beauty treats. 

My nails really have been shocking of late so were desperately crying out for some TLC. Now was a good time to try out these Strengthen Nail & Cuticle Finger Mask by 7th Heaven. 

These little finger masks are part of the 7th heaven spa range and are aimed at people with damaged nails. That will be me then! 

The pack contains a full set of paper finger masks which contain a blend of Argan and macadamia oils as well as anti-oxidant rich pomegranate extract. 

They looked like they would be very fiddly  to apply but actually they weren’t too bad. I found the best thing to do was pre open all the masks before applying on any of my fingers. Also be aware that they are sized to fit individual fingers and thumbs so don’t mix them up. The finger ones will not fit on your thumbs. 

After relaxing for 15 minutes you then remove the masks and massage the residue into your nails.

This left my nails looking far less dry and brittle making applying my manicure so much easier. Even my cuticles needed little work. 

Priced at £2.49 and available from Ocado and Primark these are a purse friendly treat perfect for when you are in the mood for making that little bit more effort before a special occasion. 

Whilst all the was happening I also used a Moisture Bomb Tissue mask from Garniers  new skin active range. 

This is the perfect inexpensive treat to rehydrate your skin leave it looking extra radiant. 

Key ingredients include Hyalauranic acid, pomegranate extract and plant serum. It is super comfortable and refreshing to wear and really does provide an indulgent pampering session. 

I’ve used these masks a couple of times and love how soft and smooth my skin always feels afterwards. Perfect then for applying flawless party make-up. 

These are so cheap at just the usual rrp of £1.99 and are available from plenty of different retailers. Boots currently have them on offer for 99p so its worth picking up a couple like I did yesterday. I haven’t left a link to Boots.com though as they are not currently on the website. 

Do you have any pre party beauty rituals? If you have any recommendations for budget beauty treats I’d love to hear them. 

The Bloggersxmas2016 Event | #Blogmas Day 2

A couple of weekends ago I was fortunate to be able to attend the #bloggersxmas held at Finches Pub in Finsbury Square, London. 

After getting completely lost, with no Internet connection on my phone so I couldn’t even check google maps,  I finally arrived about 20 minutes late. The hubby had to talk me through directions over the phone in the end! 

Anyway, late and slightly flustered I was greeted by jasmine and Kirsty, authors of Soeursdeluxe.com, who organised the event. They were lovely and very welcoming. 

The event was a chance to meet up with other bloggers and to meet some exciting brands. After a glass of refreshing Apple punch I had a little wander around the brands showcases. There was a good mix of brands I already new and some new discoveries. Here is a quick round up of the best. 

Online boutique  Mikko specialise in luxury fashion created by talented designers from across Europe.

I loved the simplicity of their dresses and super chunky knitwear. Some of the pieces were modelled by Mikko’s representatives who kindly posed for photos. (Sorry I forgot your names) Don’t they look fab though! 

This is defiantly a brand I will be checking out in the future. 

Aromand is a British brand based in Berkshire that create luxury hand made candles, reed diffusers and room sprays. 

The scents are unique and very sophisticated. I had the chance to have a chat with Sue who develops the scents and makes the products. 

She takes inspiration from her husband who is a chef and adopts a similar approach to recipe development when creating new scents. 

My favourite has to be Berries and Black Pepper. Berry scents can often be too sweet and overpowering for me but the addition of black pepper adds a balanced spiciness to the fragrance. 

All of her products are beautifully gift wrapped as well. 

I’m gutted my photography was not up to scratch on the day as it really doesn’t do the brand justice. 

Jewelled Buddha is a brand that has captured my heart. I’m saving my pennies so I can purchase one of their handcrafted sari necklaces in the near future. 

All of the scarves and necklaces are created from repurposed saris meaning each piece is one-of-a-kind. 

Jewelled Budda works in partnership with Indian based social enterprise, Wandering silk, ensuring the skilled women who create each necklace and scarf are paid a fair wage, experience regular employment and safe working conditions. 

The brand is truly inspiring in its promotion of zero waste and empowering of women. 

Annoyingly I was so busy chatting to Harjit about the brand and its work I totally forgot to take any photos of the gorgeous necklaces and scarfs. Do check out their website though here.

I have always been a fan of Joe Browns who were at the event showcasing their Christmas collection. It is Beautiful, with a capital B. 

Other creatives showcasing at the event included; the very talented Sheena Bulsara who creates one-of-a-kind jewellery, Katherine Ellizerbeth Millinery and Gia who were displaying their soon to launch collection of clutch bags. 

Sheena Bulsara’s piece inspired by her time living in Paris
Hats created by Katherine Elizerbeth Millinery

The event was sponsored by jewellerybox.co.uk who provided the bags for our goody bags we were lucky to receive. We were gifted by brands including skinfix, freeman beauty, popband, PNY, yankeecandle and my beauty matches. 

I will let you know how I get on with some of these goodies in the future. Spoiler alert though, I’m already loving the Burt’s Bees lip balm and skinfix handcream. 

5 Stylish Christmas jumpers | #Blogmas Day 1 

So I’m kicking of #blogmas with a round up of some of the best Christmas jumpers available on the high street. 

I love a Christmas jumper but I’m not a huge fan of anything too gaudy. This selection of jumpers have that festive feel whilst still looking super stylish.  

This first one I’m in love with, it’s so pretty! Alas I will be refraining from purchasing one as it doesn’t fit in with my project333. See I’m committed! 

Sequin Graphic Reindeer Sweater – Hollister £29.

Slogan Sweater – Topshop £34.

Sequin Gingerbread man Sweater – Topshop £36.

Strictly speaking this next one isn’t a Christmas jumper. It has the feel of one though and who could resist the star of John Lewis’s Christmas advert ‘Buster the dog’? 


Buster the Boxer Sweater -John Lewis £49.

Who knew a Christmas jumper could be ‘dressy’? This one from Coast at John Lewis proves that they can be. 

Black festive embellishment jumper – Coast @ John Lewis £79

This is my Christmas Jumper for 2016. It is from Joules so I can wear it at work. Unfortunately it’s not actually on the website at the moment as they had a half price offer on Cyber Monday so most of the sweaters sold out. I know there are still some available in store though. 

 I love it as its a little bit cheeky!

Game Bird Sweater – Joules £49.95. 

Do you like a Christmas jumper? Are you a gaudier the better or do you like to keep it simple? 

Image sources: retail websites for illustration purposes 

Sometimes we all have a crisis of confidence 

We’ve all had one of those moments where everything seems impossible. When you find yourself sinking into your very own little pit of gloom questioning every decision in life you’ve made. That was me last week caught in my very own downward spiral of a confidence crisis.  I’d sat myself down to study yet nothing was sinking in. I couldn’t even find the vital resources I needed to complete my work.  

Stupidly I sat there for far longer than I care to admit frantically scrolling through  the pages of my module website. Nope still couldn’t find it! At a heightened level of overwhelming frustration I just wanted to cry. I had allowed myself to sink into my own little hole of self pity and was questioning what the hell I was doing? Who the hell was I to think that I was clever enough to get a degree? Girl you can’t even find a video on the OU website! 

I felt like I was 14 again. Memories crept in of me  sat in my English class listening to my horrible teacher telling me I wasn’t trying hard enough because my spelling test result wasn’t great. 

‘Your not like your sister are you’ she would tell me. 

She taught my elder sister and loved to compare me to her. My mum actually told her off at parents evening for it. Thanks mum! 

It’s moments like that that stick with you and rear their ugly head in moments of vulnerability. In that moment you believe it’s true and your confidence in your abilities hit zero. 

I will always compare my academic achievements to my big sister. She is an achiever and has always done well in whatever she puts her hand to. 

I end up feeling like I’ve failed because my results aren’t as high. Stupidly I actually achieve good grades so really I don’t have anything to worry about. 

In moments of self doubt that damn teacher still has me believing I exist in my sisters shadow, that I’m not as capable her. 

In the end I switched off the computer and went to bed. I wasn’t going to achieve anything whislt I was in that head space. I was tired and fell asleep straight away. 

Guess what, after a good nights sleep it didn’t seem as bad. I sat down and planned what I had to do for my next assignment, plotted study time in alongside everything else in my busy schedule and actually got some work done. Yup that assignment has been submitted, whilst juggling work and the family. See I can do this! 

I know I’m not going to fail my degree because I want it too much. I will put that hard work in to make sure that I pass. 

Yes I’m terrified about sitting exams again later this academic year. I haven’t sat one since I was 16. The difference now is I’ve chosen to do this. No one is making me do it. I’m doing it for me and don’t have anything to prove to anyone but myself. In fact I could still progress on my career path without the degree I just secretly enjoy the subject matter. 

So moral of the story? I can be a complete idiot at times. That’s not because I’m not capable, it’s because I listen to the negative thoughts in my brain too much.

Self confidence is a state of mind that can be achieved by shouting positive thoughts loudly over the negative. Stop listening to those negative thoughts. Failing that things always seem better after a good nights sleep. 

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe using the Project 333 Method

In my previous blog post I talked about how I wanted to downsize and declutter my life. I started to embark on a rather ruthless clear out of my wardrobe yesterday in the hope of creating myself a functional yet still stylish capsule wardrobe.

Shamefully I’ve managed to fill two black bin bags for either the charity shop or recycling centre. These are all items I’ve been hanging on to but truthfully do not wear, and the drawers are still fairly full. They just shut now!
My reliance on a few select items from my wardrobe has become more apparent since I started working in a clothing store. I have to wear their clothing to work as my uniform, and since I’m there usually 4 or 5 days a week, most of my other items in my wardrobe get ignored.

This realisation is part of what has spurred me on to change my habits. I want to have a go at creating an easy to use capsule wardrobe.

Having read a few blog posts for some advice as to where to start I came across Project 333. This is basically a minimalist fashion challenge that encourages you to dress with 33 items or less for a period of three months. You can read more about the challenge here in this blog post by Courtney of bemorewithless.com. 

I think this is the perfect tool to help me create the more simplified life I’m seeking. So this weekend I shall be selecting some key pieces from what is left after I have purged my wardrobe to see me through the next 3 months. The rest for now is going to be boxed up and stored away where I can’t get at them. Im sure my Husband will be delighted as his shirts will no longer be crushed in our shared wardrobe.

I’m not going to select a full 33 piece wardrobe straight away as I don’t want to ban myself from completely purchasing anything over the next 3 months. Also I want to cover myself for any occasion that I might not have anything suitable for without breaking the rules of Project 333.

Those original challenge rules are;

  • The 33 items includes Clothing, Accessories, Outerwear and Shoes.
  • It doesn’t include sentimental jewelry items such as my wedding and engagement ring. (I never take them off accept when doing something messy like making meatballs) underwear, sleepwear or workout gear.
  • Workout gear is only for working out in – no cheating  and wearing that then!

I was having a very tough time narrowing down my selection. This is because a vast majority of it is taken up with essential work related items. I worked out 4 items would automatically be used up on accessories for work.

My Husband suggested I bend the rules slightly as this was uniform and not include those particular accessories towards my total. I was reluctant at first but he pointed out how much I had actually downsized already.

This pile is predominantly summer clothes so it was actually quite easy for me to decide to put it into storage. I will take it out next year and decide what I want to keep then.

What is left in my wardrobe is very much a winter wardrobe and hopefully will cover all eventualities.

At the moment there are 30 items on the list. There are 1 or 2 that I was unsure about so I may remove them at a later date if I find I’m not wearing them. So for now that leaves me able to add 3 items. Though if I do remove those other items that will give me the option to replace them.

I know I am going to have to get a pair of shoes to wear for Christmas Parties as I don’t have any suitable. I’m thinking some kind of black court shoe would be the most versatile.

The Christmas period will be interesting, I’ve selected 1 very ‘dressy’ dress and that’s it. Eeeek!! lets see how I manage.

This is what remains in my wardrobe. Some of it is missing though as it is currently in the wash.

I will try to share some outfit posts in the future, be warned though I’m a bit useless at those as I’m an awkward poser. What do models do with their hands???
I will also share any new additions to my capsule wardrobe over the next three months. That will be a rare occurrence though. As it stands I can only add three things. Oh god help me!

Let me know what you think of this challenge, even if you think I’m mad!

Life in a Transitional Period

In the past couple of months life has changed immensely for me. I genuinely feel I’m going through a transitional period in my life and as a result learning more about what is important to me and my personal happiness. 

Life is full, I have such a busy schedule, so  time is now precious. If you have lots of free time it’s so easy to take that for granted. I know I did.  

When I do have free time I want to spend it with friends and family. My kids are growing up fast, I feel like I am running out of time to make those happy childhood memories with them. 

Two of my children are now teenagers and quite  naturally don’t want to spend all of their free time with their parents. That is a conflict of interest so I am working on achieving a happy balance. 

Im learning that material things are less important. I have a lot of clutter In my home and that is making me feel bogged down. I end up spending my free time running around and tidying up after people rather than spending quality time with them. This is not something I want in my life.

I want to simplify and down size my life by getting rid of some of this clutter. I have plans to do this over the coming months. It will be hard for me to part with things, I’m a natural hoarder. That will be why I have about 8 foundations then? Why??? I have one face!

As a bit of a self confessed shopaholic it is going to be hard to break my hoarding habit. I just need to remind myself of that end goal. Less tidying and more time for enjoying my free time. 

It not just me either. Nope! The boys bed room is full of Lego and Nerf Guns that im constantly standing on or falling over. Oh and I made an interesting discovery in my youngest ‘s  wardrobe the other day. He has tops in it that are aged 5-6. He’s 9! 

I have a few plans in the pipeline that will help me achieve a more streamlined and clutter free. I will share those on the blog as they happen so watch this space. 

In the mean time I you have any suggestions know of any relevant blog posts please link them in the comments below. 

Book Review of Park Lane written by Frances Osbourne

I did it, I’ve finally finished another book!

So here I am then with another book review.

Published in 2012 Park Lane was the first novel from Frances Osbourne, who has  since had work featured in Richard & Judy’s book club.

The book is set in London between the years 1914 and 1923. It focuses on the lives of two young women from contrasting class backgrounds. Both girls are hiding secrets about their lives that conflict with conventional duty.
The book provides an insight into the campaign for women’s right to vote from both the Suffragist and Suffragette view point. Personally I hadn’t realised before that there was a difference, so I have learnt something new.

It also demonstrates how the effect of the great war on the people of London didn’t discriminate between classes.

As a fan of novels in historical settings this didn’t disappoint. I was particulate captured by the character Bee’s accounts as she becomes more embroiled in the more extreme and dangerous suffragette movement and how this conflicts with her upper class prim and proper background.

I also enjoyed how the characters lives are all inter-woven  in some way , though they are not aware of this. This brings up complications and misunderstandings in the later part of the book.

I found the book to be well written, engaging and historically accurate as far as it could be, considering the main characters are fictional. Without giving too much away, there isn’t necessarily a happy ending for all the main characters which I found very honest.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys early twentieth century history or has an interest in learning more about the early ideologies of feminism.

Thanks for stopping by!

If you have any book recommendations for me do let me know in the comments section.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat – Does it work? 

Freshly manicured hands always make me feel well groomed. It’s a shame then that with my track record of messing up manicures that this ends up being a rare occurrence. I tend to think then that it’s not worth the effort unless I have a special occasion. This is why I choose to include Sally Hansen Insta-Dri top coat as one of my recent you beauty box selections.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat claims to     Instantly dry your manicure so that it is touch dry in just 30 seconds. It contains an acrylic polymer that works to harden and dry any nail colour whilst providing a superior shine and reduce chipping. Sounds great right? So the question is, does it work?

In a manner of speaking yes, It’s good, but  I will say it’s not perfect.

It certainly lives up to its claims that you can achieve a touch dry manicure in 30 seconds. I also agree that it hardens the nail colour more than a regular top coat.

As I said earlier I am guilty of messing up a fresh manicure, mainly as I’m impatient. This isn’t an issue with this top coat though.

The finish is beautifully glossy and that lasts. I can’t comment on whether this shine lasts for the ten days as claimed though as I have usually switched my manicure up by this point.

The reason I have said that this is not a perfect top coat is that although I have definitely experienced less chipping than usual it does still chip.

A typical manicure using this top coat will last 3 days before I have to change it due to tip wear. I work in retail which is a fairly hands on role. The picture below is an example of my nails after 3 days wear.

This is actually a vast improvement compared to previous top coats I have used and to be honest I have an inkling I’m always going to be the girl that bashes her nails.

Sally Hansen Insta dri is priced at £6.95 so sits at the higher end of the drug store pricing scale.

I consider this to be a good purchase as it has worked better than any other product of this type I have tried in the past. Other products designed to reduce manicure drying time have always made my nail polish brittle but this doesn’t do that.

This will most definitely be a repurchase for me once it runs out!

5 Essential Beauty Products for Autumn 

The clocks have gone back and we are officially heading towards winter. As the nights are drawing in and it’s gets chillier my beauty needs inevitably change. I have certain products that I have returned to  time again over the past few years. They are hard working and get me through the season. This year I’ve discovered a couple of extras to add to my beauty routine. 

So here I am sharing 5 of my Autumn/winter beauty must haves;  

 Evolve Organic Beauty Hyaluranic Serum – £28

Now I have succumbed to putting the heating on my skin is starting to feel dry and tight. 

I have added this Hyalauranic acid based serum to my morning skincare regime before I apply my moisturiser. As Hyaluranic acid can hold up to a 1000 times its weight in water it grabs on to all those moisturising ingredients making them work harder and more effectively. I have really noticed the difference in how my skin feels. 

The Bodyshop Shade adjusting drops Lightening – £10

Summer has officially passed and I’ve returned to a very pale version of myself meaning my current foundation options  are way too dark for me. Not wanting to leave them to expire by the time next summer comes around these lightening drops are the perfect solution. 

I did a full review of these drops in a recent blog post that you can check out here.

The Bodyshop Hemp Hand Protector – from £5 

Anyone else suffer with hands that chap and bleed as soon as it hits November? Not only does it hurt, but it’s not pretty! This is the hand cream I reach for every year as it seems to be the only one that actually works to prevent that from happening. 

I’m not going to lie the hemp scent is a bit funky but I can over look that as the cream itself is so effective. 

Soap & Glory Heel Genius – £5.50

Now, boots not only look fab but are great for keeping your feet warm and dry throughout the Autumn and winter months.  What they aren’t so great on is the skin of your feet. Nope prolonged wear can leave feet looking a bit dry and crusty, yuck! 

This particular foot cream works a treat though to keep my feet looking and feeling great even when I’ve been wearing nothing but boots. I apply it each night before bed. The peppermint scent is also soothing if you’ve got aching feet. 

 Avon Advance techniques dry shampoo – £3.50

I love a bobble hat at this time of year to keep me warm and cosy on my walk to work. What I don’t love is hat hair. That is why I keep a can of dry shampoo in my bag for an instant freshen up once I’ve got to work. This one from Avon is great as it doesn’t leave a cast plus it also acts as a volumizer to get rid of that flat hat hair. 

Please bear in mind Avon have changed the packaging of all their Advance techniques products recently but the formula is still the same (mine is still the old packaging). 

What are your must have beauty products for Autumn? 

Please note any Avon products featured link to my Avon representative selling page. 

Just because you are a busy mum it doesn't mean you can't have any me time!

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