Monday, 30 March 2015

Yankee Candle Simply Home

I obviously didn't have enough wax tarts, so bought some more. The Yankee Candle Simply Home range can be found in supermarkets, and the wax tarts are just £1 each. I've tried a couple so far, and think the quality's the same as the regular line. I also like that some of the scents are different to the ones within the core range. As you can tell from the photo, I melted Peach Smoothie straight away. It's peach, so of course it's nice. I'd like it even more if it was crisper and not as sweet, but it's still one of my favourites.

If you've tried this range, let me know your favourite scent. Toasted Marshmallow sounds nice!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Love-Hate Relationships

There are some products I have nothing but love for, and there have been a few I can't stand. Sometimes, though, a product comes along which divides my feelings.

Maybelline Eraser Eye Concealer
Love | The coverage this gives, and the fact that it doesn't crease on me like other products do. I sometimes still get the odd crease here and there, but it's nothing like I experience with alternatives.

Hate | The shade. The lightest shade, Light, is too dark for me. I can just about make it work, but it should be lighter to brighten the area, as well as conceal. Also, the packaging is annoying. I actually don't mind the sponge, but taking the lid on and off gets messy because it's difficult to not touch the product-soaked applicator. 

NYX Powder Blush in Taupe
Love | The shade. It's perfect for fair complexions to contour with because it's not orange in any way.

Hate | The pigmentation. I don't know if it's just mine, but the pigmentation is really, really poor. I have to swirl my brush with great force to even pick up a little product. My finger doesn't even pick anything up, so I couldn't swatch it for you. I think I'm going to have to scratch up the product.

Real Techniques Brushes
Love | The quality. They're soft, dense, and are still going strong after a couple years use.

Hate | The handles. I know I'm not alone when I say this, but the handles are just too bulky for my liking. They take up too much room in my brush pot. I know the whole point of them is so they can stand up, but I'd rather keep them in the same place as all my other brushes.

Do you have a love-hate relationship with any products?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Nip + Fab Glycolic Instant Fix Mask

I'd never tried a product from Nip + Fab before this, but heard positive things about the brand. When it comes to face masks, my skin is either left feeling slightly cleansed, or slightly moisturised, but not much else, so I was intrigued to see if this would be any different.

It claims to be a high potency, pore-tightening gel mask which perfects and exfoliates the complexion. It also claims to gently smooth away the appearance of lines and wrinkles whilst clearing and reducing the look of enlarged pores. Skin is apparently more even toned and visually smoother. Glycolic acid refines skin texture and smooths the appearance of wrinkles, 'Evermat technology' reduces shine and appearance of pores, and amino acid brightens and evens skin tone.

The packaging and clear, subtley scented gel is very simple, so this product really does let the results speak for themselves. After leaving on for ten minutes and rinsing off with warm water, I was surprised. My skin felt smooth, and my pores were a lot smaller. This effect lasted through the night and into the morning, so my makeup seemed to apply better. Does it smooth the appearance of wrinkles, reduce shine, or brighten and even skin tone? I don't think so. At least, I haven't experienced this. Still, as a pore refining mask, this is great. It's not a miracle worker (I don't expect anything to be), but it does a whole lot more than other masks I've tried do.

The Nip + Fab Glycolic Instant Fix Mask* is normally £12.95, but it's currently half price on Boots.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Recent Purchases

You know when you buy something here and something there, and you don't feel as though you've bought much recently? And then you gather these purchases together and realise your shopping habits haven't changed? This is how this post came about.

I'll start with the items dominating the photos. I bought the Aussie products on a 3 for £10 deal, but they're now 3 for 2, which works out cheaper, annoyingly. I picked up another bottle of the Miracle Hair Insurance Leave In Conditioner because I use it all the time. Then I opted for the Mega Shampoo and Conditioner. This was last month, and I've nearly finished these now. I really like them, so may include them in my next favourites post. They don't leave my hair as soft as the Tresemme Platinum Strength range, but they're more light weight. Because I've been impressed with these, I then bought two shampoos and a conditioner from the Miracle Moist line.

I bought the Max Factor Creme Puff Blush in Nude Mauve (£8.99) with my Boots points, then went back and bought Gorgeous Berries. Pigmented, illuminating, blend well, and I don't have shades like these in my collection.

I've been using the Real Techniques Stippling Brush daily for nearly two years now, and was considering buying another. Then one found itself on my store's clearance stand, so I had to buy it. Normally £11.99, but I think I paid £4-5.

I also bought a couple more packs of the No7 Beautiful Skin Quick Thinking Wipes. These work out as 42p with the £5 off vouchers and staff discount, so I like to stock up when the vouchers are around.

The last bargain purchase from Boots is the Origins Mask Marvels Gift Set. £20 down from £50, you receive the Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, the Out of Trouble 10 Minute Mask, and the Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask. These are 75ml instead of the full sized 100ml tubes, but that's still a hefty saving! The 100ml tubes are £23, so these 75ml ones work out as £17.25 each. £20 instead of £51.75 isn't bad at all. I've heard great things about these products, so I'm excited to try them.

The Blistex products were half price in Superdrug, so I stocked up on the Intensive Moisturiser because it's the best lip balm I've ever used. Definitely worth more than the full price of £2.59.

You can always rely on The Body Shop for a bargain. The Vineyard Peach Body Mist was £3.50 down from £7 in their current sale, and the Cranberry Joy and Vanilla Brulee Home Fragrance Oils were just £1 down from £4. They smell delicious, and I've been burning Cranberry Joy since I received it.

Let me know of any bargains you've purchased recently, and if they're still available for me to buy myself!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Two Brands I've Changed My Mind On

In the last year, I've broadened the products I use. I've started wearing foundation, I attempt to give my face some dimension with contouring and highlighting, and use brands I'd never taken an interest in before. Max Factor and L'Oreal are two these. As well as nothing ever catching my eye, I thought the products were overpriced. I also thought Max Factor was outdated and even a little boring. I unfairly judged them without giving their products a chance. However, working in Boots, and being around the new releases and offers, an interest was sparked. I thought I would talk about a handful of products which have changed my mind on the brands.

Even the lightest shade of the Max Factor Skin Luminizer Foundation, Light Ivory, is a touch too dark for me, but it's nothing too noticeable. It's a nice foundation - medium coverage, doesn't feel heavy on the skin, and has a natural finish. I don't notice much luminising going on, but then it's not completely flat, either.

Everyone has been talking about the Max Factor Creme Puff Blushes. Only one is pictured, but I have two of the shades available - Nude Mauve and Gorgeous Berries. Both are pigmented, blend with ease, and have an illuminating finish. Unlike many baked blushes, the shimmer is extremely fine, so looks natural. Gorgeous Berries is recommended for those with darker skin, but I quite like it on my fair complexion. It's very 'English rose'. An extremely light hand has to be used, though, because it's incredibly pigmented. One 'dab' of my brush is usually enough.

The Max Factor Colour Elixir Lip Gloss in Enchanting Coral is the perfect gloss, in my opinion. The shade is beautiful, it has some pigmentation, but not so much that you have to take care with application, it's not sticky, and it smells good, like vanilla.

The L'Oreal True Match Foundation in N1 Ivory looks incredibly orange next to the Infallible Foundation in Porcelain, but I assure you it's not. The Infallible one is just very pale! Both actually match my skin well, with the Infallible one matching my extremely pale neck more so. It can sometimes be a little too pale for the centre of my face, though, where I naturally have a lot of warmth from my freckles. Again, both have a medium, buildable coverage and natural finish, without being cakey. True Match is runnier than other foundations I've tried, which I was unsure of at first, but it doesn't hinder its coverage at all.

The last product featured is the beautiful L'Oreal Colour Riche Lipstick in Julianne's Red. It's a super bright, pink toned red. It provides even, opaque coverage with a satin finish, and this lasts for hours. It's too much for me to wear to its full intensity, so I usually just dab and blend a little out to create a stain.

I have a few other products from L'Oreal, including their liquid eyeliner, brow pencil, and nail polishes, all of which I've liked.

I'd love to know what your favourite products from these brands are.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Book Review | Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Moments after Lisbeth is born, she’s taken from her mother and handed over to an enslaved wet nurse, Mattie, a young mother separated from her own infant son in order to care for her tiny charge. Thus begins an intense relationship that will shape both of their lives for decades to come. Though Lisbeth leads a life of privilege, she finds nothing but loneliness in the company of her overwhelmed mother and her distant, slave-owning father. As she grows older, Mattie becomes more like family to Lisbeth than her own kin and the girl’s visits to the slaves’ quarters—and their lively and loving community—bring them closer together than ever. But can two women in such disparate circumstances form a bond like theirs without consequence? This deeply moving tale of unlikely love traces the journey of these very different women as each searches for freedom and dignity.

A colleague recommended this book to me. As she was describing the story line, it reminded me of The Help, a favourite of mine, so I had to read it.

Yellow Crocus touches on slavery and confinements even the privileged women experienced. It was shocking to read some of the character's views, and even more so when remembering that these views were the ones of many back then. The characters would talk about slaves not being human or having morals, and that women should not talk about politics, finance, religion, or anything of substance if they wanted to be considered wife material.

It's difficult to talk about this book without giving anything away, but I will say that I really liked it. I liked seeing the characters develop over the years, and the relationships which grew. What made it interesting was how different Mattie and Elizabeth, and their struggles, were, yet their affection for one another remained the same. I kept my fingers crossed for them, and was happy when certain events occurred.

Some have criticised the book for glossing over slavery and turning it into a fairytale. I can understand that, but you have to remember that this is fiction, and it doesn't claim to reflect the facts. Obviously, slavery is far more horrific than this book makes out, but the story focuses on the relationships, not the institution.

If you enjoyed The Help, I really think you'll like this, too.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Topshop Beauty

Topshop makeup receives a lot of praise, and I'm beginning to see why. I've used a couple of their cream blushes in the past, and while they were okay, the cream to powder formulation wasn't one of my favourites. I prefer dewier cream blushes (like the NYX ones) because they're easier to work with.

I've recently expressed my love for the Glow Cream Highlighter in Polish (£9) , which you can read here. I've since bought a few other products from the range, and have been enjoying using them.

The Cheek Jelly in Reign could be a little bigger so my stippling brush fits in better, but aside from that, it's a winner. It's essentially a water based cream blush, like the Josie Maran Coconut Watercolour Cheek Gelees, but it's only £7. Sheer, yet buildable, easy to blend, and very natural looking. The raspberry red shade helps with this.

The Contour Cream in Sweep (£9) was the main reason for my order. I've been wanting a cream contour product to subtley add some definition to my face for a while, so welcomed this new release. I chose the lightest shade, and was disappointed by its warmth at first, but I think I make it work. It helps that it's incredibly easy to blend. I'm also glad the packaging's black, and not white like the blushes, because it'd get incredibly dirty.

The Slanted Eyeshadow Brush and Gel Liner Brush were £4 each. The Slanted Eyeshadow Brush is perfect for when I fill my eyebrows in with powder. It's not the thinnest I've used, so isn't that precise, but it's fine for the look I want. The Gel Liner Brush, on the other hand, won't be replacing my usual one. It's too thick for the line I want to create. It'll come in handy for smudging eyeshadow along my lower lash line, though.

What are your thoughts on the Topshop Beauty line?

Friday, 13 March 2015

Primark Haul

Even though I work near a Primark, I hadn't been in the store for months. I started to see new things from them on Twitter and Instagram (@primark is the best account I've followed recently!), so decided to pop in this week. 

The main reason I went in was for the new bedding and cushions. The pineapple and geometric double duvet sets were £11 each, and the flamingo and geometric cushions were £4 each. The cushions are perfect for my new H&M grey bedding. I also picked up the little wooden box for £3. I love the light blue pattern, but can see the edges coming away in the future, so will have to seal them with clear nail polish.

The navy dolly shoes are so cute, and were only £5. I really wanted them in black, too, but they had none in my size. My sister has been looking for herself for a few months now, but they only ever have the smaller sizes in.

I love Primark pjs, but hadn't seen any I liked for about a year. I was in luck this week, though, and came away with three pairs of pjs bottoms for £6 each, and two tees for £4 each. My favourites are the top pair of bottoms, under the box and socks. I love the pattern and silky fabric. Speaking of socks, I bought some more cosy ones for £2 - I couldn't resist the colours!

I also bought some duo chrome eyelash curlers for just £1. They're so pretty, and aren't that bad, actually. I'm not fussy when it comes to eyelash curlers, though. I also wanted some of their new beauty accessories (fruit, floral, palm tree, and geometric prints) but my store didn't have them in yet.

I then bought some more of my everyday basics - vests (£1.80 each), t-shirt bras (£2 and £2.50 each), and socks (£2 each). I don't normally buy the string vests, but tried them on this morning and like how they fit, so will be going back tomorrow to buy a load of other colours!

While in there tomorrow, I think I'm also going to buy some of their lantern lights. I also want some of their basic fairy lights to put in a glass jar and look all Pinterest-y.

Have you bought anything from Primark recently?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Disappointing Products

This is the first post I've written about disappointing products, and have still only managed to come up with two. I do a lot of research before purchasing a product, making sure it's suited for me. Sometimes, though, it doesn't matter how well others get on with something. It's down to whether it works for you. I've been quite lucky, really. I've bought so much makeup in the last few months that two disappointing products is nothing compared to the amount of ones I love.

The Max Factor Facefinity All Day Primer (£10.99) is loved by many, so I'm still questioning whether my disappointment is down to something I'm doing or the product. I've only used it a couple times, but both times it made my foundation patchy. I've never experienced patchiness before, and the foundations I used are normally fine. I was shocked when I looked in the mirror at work, trying with all my effort to blend it together. I haven't written it off just yet, but have been disappointed so far. I'm going to try it again (on my next day off!) and see how it goes.

Gel eyeliner has become a staple in my makeup routine, and I normally used Maybelline's Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner or Illamasqua's Precision Gel Liner. I bought Rimmel's Kate Waterproof Gel Eyeliner in Emerald (£6.99) because the colour looked like a pretty alternative to black. First of all, the eyeliner comes packaged in a cheap, plastic pot, rather than a glass one which I'm used to. I don't mind this too much, though, because it's about the actual product. Said product is drier than what I'm used to (see how it's not shiny and inky?), so I have to go over places multiple times. Still, I could work with this if the colour was worth it, but I don't think it is. I wanted a rich, jewel looking emerald, but this is rather dull and not that opaque. It looks brighter on the computer screen I'm currently on, but in real life, it's not that green. That's not to say this product is completely awful. I can still work with it. I just don't love it. The brush isn't that great either (I love the Maybelline one).

Have you had different experiences with these products?

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Body Shop Home Fragrance Oils

As soon as I bought my electric tart warmer, I headed to The Body Shop's website to buy these. I'd had my eye on them for a while, and loved the Pomegranate & Raspberry scent already.

To use, I fill the dish with water and add some drops of my chosen scent. I actually use about ten because my dish can hold a lot of water, but even a few make a difference. The water evaporates after a few hours, and then I fill it up again or wipe it out.

The scents are so fresh, and I love that you can adjust how strong you'd like them to be with the amount of drops you put in. Pomegranate & Raspberry was going to be an obvious favourite, but I also love Aloe & Soft Linen. The others are also great, though.

These bottles are going to last ages. When I'd taken the photo above, I'd used the Satsuma one twice, ten drops each time, three hour sessions. That's six hours of fragrance, and look at how much I had left.

These retail for £4, and they're definitely worth it, but no one pays full price for The Body Shop products. Looking back at my order, I paid £2.60 a bottle, so they were a complete bargain.

You do have to wipe the dish out afterwards, unlike wax tarts, but it's a small price to pay for such a great product. I just wish they had more! If you know of any other brands which make home fragrance oils, let me know.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Book Review | The Teashop on the Corner by Milly Johnson

At her beloved husband's funeral, Carla Pride discovers that Martin never divorced his first wife and has been living a double life with her. And his other wife, Julie Pride, is determined to take everything from Carla - her home, her money, and her memories.

When Will Linton's business goes bust he at least thinks that with the support of his trophy wife Nicole he will rise to the top again. But Nicole isn't going to stick around with 'a loser' and Will finds himself at rock bottom.

Molly Jones is being bullied into going into a retirement home by her 'concerned' daughter-in-law Sherry and son Gram. Then the love of Molly's life walks in through her door - a man who broke Molly's heart into little pieces many years ago. But he says he is dying and wants to spend the time he has left with her.

All people in need of a little love and compassion which they find by chance in the stationery and teashop on the corner run by the ever-cheerful Leni, a woman that site developer Shaun McCarthy finds annoying beyond annoying for her ability to remain unrealistically upbeat about everything.

But is the world of Leni Merryman as full of rainbows and sparkles as everyone thinks? Or is her smile papering over many cracks in her heart that will soon be shattered unwittingly by her new friends?

I didn't think this book would be my cup of tea (pun unintended), but other books I've read with the same first impressions have ended up being some of my favourites. I also couldn't ignore the high ratings it's been receiving.

There's quite a few main characters in this book, all with different stories. I thought it was going to be hard to follow and remember everyone, but it wasn't. It didn't drag, either, because of the way it was split up. The only problem with this format being that I didn't have as much time to connect with the characters, like I do with other books.

All of the characters have The Teashop on the Corner in common. I personally found some of the exchanges in the Teashop a little too fluffy, but that's because I'm not keen on chit chat with strangers. The book is also quite predictable, and isn't one of those which has an impact on how you see the world.

Saying that, I did still like it. I liked the different walks of life the characters had, their unique situations, and how they built themselves up in front of my eyes. I'd also just like to add that I found Shaun to be cold and distant at first, but found myself relating to him the most, so that was interesting!

I gave The Teashop on the Corner 4/5 on Goodreads, but it's more like 3.5/5.

Have you read this book?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Home Purchases

I'm going to love decorating my own place when I move out, but for now, I have to make do with just buying items for my room and baking!

As well as buying some under bed storage and Yankee Candle Simply Home Wax Tarts from Asda, I bought some Ditsy Cake Tins for £7 and some Baking Stamps for £3. Cake tins are great for storing anything in, and I love the simple print of these ones. I'm currently using them for my most used skincare and new makeup bits. I've already used the stamps, which you can see the result of here.

I love H&M Home, and it'll be one of the first places I go when I move out. I've wanted a plain, light grey bedding set for a while now, so was pleased when I saw the one above. It retails for £29.99, which is quite steep for plain bedding, but I managed to get it for slightly less with a discount code. I also added the metal cake stand to my basket for £6.99. This comes in a variety of colours and a smaller size, too. Then, my favourite purchases were these mini glass vases, which were £7.99 for a set of three. They're so cute, and will look great anywhere.

Have you bought any homeware recently? Let me know so I can live vicariously through you!

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins of Beauty

I'm taking it back to an old school tag today. The sins don't tie in that well, but I liked the actual questions!

Greed | What is your most inexpensive beauty item? What is your most expensive? 
My most inexpensive item, like many others, would be something from MUA. I'm a fan of a couple of their £1 eyeshadows and lipsticks. I also use their £1.50 eyebrow brush on a daily basis. My most expensive beauty items include Lush's Ro's Argan Body Conditioner (£16.50) and cream blushes from Illamasqua, which I've just looked up and are now £21.50! I only paid £6.75 for them in the sale, though.

Wrath | What beauty products do you have a love/hate relationship with?
Nail polish. Once it's on, I absolutely love it, but it's the application I hate. I'm a perfectionist, so it takes me hours to do my nails, and even longer if I'm photographing them for a post. For this reason, and the fact that painted nails would last 5 minutes at work, I haven't painted them for nearly a year now. It's crazy because I used to paint them every week!

Gluttony | What are your most delicious beauty products?
I'm going on scent here, and it has to be products from The Body Shop. The Raspberry, Vineyard Peach, and Mango ones, in particular. I also love Figs & Rouge for delicious smelling and cutely packaged products. Their Cherry Blossom Hand Cream is my favourite.

Sloth | What beauty product do you neglect, due to laziness?
It has to be body butter and moisturising in general. When I get out of the shower, I just want to put my pjs on as fast as possible. This is one of the main reasons why I love the Lush Body Conditioners so much, because they're quick and easy to use in the shower.

Pride | What beauty product gives you the most self confidence?
I would have to say mascara and gel liner. I used to neglect eyeliner due to laziness, but with gel liner and the right brush, it's easy to press on in a straight line. 

Lust | What attributes do you find most attractive in the opposite sex? 
A question about the packaging of a product would have been better suited here, I think. I don't have a type, physically, but generally seem to like guys with stubble. I've also liked guys without stubble, though, so it really does depend on the person. Personality wise, I have to be able to have a laugh and playfully tease them. I've been in situations where there's no 'banter' (hate that word), and there's been no attraction.

Envy | What items would you most like to receive as a gift?
Anything that shows the person listens to me and knows what I like. I'd rather receive something inexpensive that was bought based on my tastes rather than something ridiculously expensive that has nothing to do with what I like. For example, I like owls, and around Christmas, there's an owl stall in town. It has real owls and things you can buy, where the money then goes to the owl sanctuary. I've bought a couple things from there in the past. My sister has gifted me things from this stall, and they've been my favourite things, even though they were the cheapest out of all the gifts. I'd rather these than a diamond ring because I simply don't wear rings.

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