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21 Jan 2015

Packing Beauty Products for Travel

I am an obsessive organiser, there is nothing I like better than a good re-organise, which is lucky as I have a whole load of c*** that usually needs it.



Last weekend I set about sorting out my ever-expanding travel wash bag.  It started quite small but as always has grown out of all recognition.  I needed something that would work when I staying away from home and had versions of all my favourites products that are easily accessible.  The problem with my old set-up was that I would have to take the whole wash bag into the bathroom to have a shower and then dig around in it just to find the showering essentials, I would then have to bring it back out again to start on my skincare and makeup.  Hardly the end of the world, I know, but still less than ideal.

I re-purposed this vanity case which is sadly no longer available, it has a carry handle and a strap if I want to go hands-free (more likely hold a child's hand).  Inside I have 5 separate pouches that hold each main subgroup of my beauty products (how sad that I have sub-grouped my beauty paraphernalia)

  1. Shower/Bath - this is the home of all the "wet products" so shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, toothbrush etc..
  2. Skincare - contains miniatures of all my AM & PM beauty routine essentials.
  3. Hair care - This is post-wash, so volumiser, hair oil, hairspray etc...
  4. Emergency - needle and thread, ear plugs, ibuprofen and lady products
  5. Nail Care - obvious really, polish, files, remover

Bath/Shower - the B-Refined face wash is dire by the way.

Skincare - travel size-tastic!

Haircare - The polish tin actually has bobbles and clips in it.


Nailcare - I always leave nails to the last minute!

I have another gold makeup pouch that I take too, but the contents of this are in constant flux and so I opted against taking a photo of it.  It doesn't always reside in my travel case anyway as I often keep it in my handbag so technically it would have been classified incorrectly!

There are also a couple of bits that don't fit well in the pods and live in the bottom of the bag, they are; deodorant, perfume, a paddle brush and a fold up mirror.


I like this system because I can see at a glance what I ned to stock up on, I can put different "pods" in different places around where I am staying, and it keeps neatly together for travelling and storing.  The pouches are from Asda and the slim ones are just clear pencil cases.

Anyone else out there with such an OTT travel bag for the loves of their life?

8 Jan 2015

7 Products I Used More Than Anything Else in 2014

These are the products that kept finding there way back to the top of my makeup drawer.  I have 3 to 4 versions of each product (say lip glosses or face washes) and these are the one I keep repurchasing and using regardless of new fads and trends.

Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Eye & Lip Cream - £26 
Surprise find of 2014, I got this in a beauty box and immediately fell in love.  It is light yet deeply moisturising.  You only need a little for it to work and it helps to keep fine lines at bay and keep your lips in top condition.  I have had zero crapped lips this winter (so far) and I think this is the main reason why.  I have mentioned before (here) that this has Matrixyl 3000 in which is a very high end ingredient usually only found in £50+ Eye creams.  It costs £30 for 15 ml which would last me, with daily use, around 6-9 months.  I get mine from the Caudalie site as you can collect points towards future freebies, and you get a little sample set each time you shop which I think is genius as you can try out other items and have handy travel sizes for your wash bag.


La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo - £15
LOVE this lightweight skin clearing moisturiser, this is perfection for helping keep oily skin clear and soft without being greasy or not moisturising enough.  It costs £15ish for 40 ml which usually lasts me 3-4 months  which I think is pretty good value, particularly if you buy it on Boots 3 for 2's.

OPI Private Jet - £7
New for 2014, but it became my go-to nail varnish for whenever I was going out.  It is such a versatile colour that it can be worn with most everything and is appropriate for all but the most formal of occasions ( I wouldn't necessarily wear it to a wedding.)  I looks good on short or long nails so can be worn no matter where you are in your nail growing cycle.  I always top coat with Seche Vite for added shine, but then I top coat everything ever.

Botanics Face Wash - £1.99 at the moment!
I know Caroline Hirons would kill me for this, but I am going to stick my neck out there and say, "Caroline you are wrong" there I did it.  The idea that foaming facial washes are a bad thing is widely banded about the blogosphere with the rationale that all foaming solutions are alkali which strips the acid mantle of your skin and upsets the balance which can aggravate acne.  Now thinking of basic chemistry I am certain that water is PH 7 which is neutral and no where near acidic and as we all use water on our faces to no ill effects, I cannot see how this theory can stand up.  In addition I always follow with an acid toner which resets the ph balance anyway and therefore I much prefer the ease of cleaning with facial washes.

Now enough about acid v alkali and onto this particular brand,  I like that the ingredient list isn't a list of poly whats-its-names and ethyl-thing-ummy-bobs.  It has a sprinkling of real ingredients which always please me.  But most importantly it doesn't feel stripping yet leaves my skin feel super clean afterwards.  I love that you can regularly pick this little beauty up for just £2 so I can have stashes of it everywhere (bath, sink, shower, kids bathroom, travel bag) which stops me having an excuse for not washing my makeup off before bed.

Real Techniques Face Brush - £9.99
I wasn't sure if I would get on with this when I first ordered it, as I like the stippling brush by RT but I don't love it (in fact I now only use it about once a month.)  This however is a completely different creature.  It has tightly packed super soft bristles that are excellent for buffing foundation into the skin creating a pore free look.  I also love that the size is just right for contouring too, I have their contour brush which I find better as a under eye powder brush (specific much)  I can also use this to apply powder to the t-zone and blusher of needs be, it is all amazing at applying mineral foundation instead of the old kabuki style brushes.  It is really a brush that gives a lot.  I wish I had another of these but I can't justify any more brush purchases for about 7 years so I will have to make do with what I have.

From L-R - Buffing Brush, Stippling Brush, Top Blusher Brush, Bottom Expert Face Brush, Contour Brush

Maybelline Colour Tattoo in On-and-On Bronze- £4.99
How much do I love thee, let me count the ways...  If there are ever a decree made that all eyeshadows except one were to be discontinued, then this would have to be my keeper.  It is such a subtle colour with just one sweep that it is my everyday goto shade, yet for nights out you can layer this thick and get a truly metallic look that works great with hazel eyes.  I like how easy it is too apply it calends a dream and I can even use my fingers if I have no clean brushes.  I often smoke this up with the aid of Urban Decay's dark horse.  It is super cheap too at just £5 so when it starts to dry out (take about a year) it is no big drama to replace. Below I have swatted it next to Urban Decay Smog from the Naked I palette for reference as it is a good dupe with better staying power and a nicer sheen. Last thing, I promise, the same formula in "Permanent Taupe" is great for eyebrows if you have darkish hair.

L- Colour Tattoo on-and-on bronze R- Urban Decay Smog

Benefit Browzings - £22 
I believe this was one of the first brow kits on the market and I have had this for years.  It just keep on going and does such a good job.  I have it in the colour medium and I love that you can use the wax to shape and the powder to fill or, as I do, add both to the brush nd get a double effect.  I use my own brush for application rather than the twitchy one that comes with it, but if I'm away then it more than does the job.  This isn't cheap but considering I ahem had this at least 5 years then it works out as a bragin.  There is no need to worry about bacteria either as powders are a poor host for bacteria as are waxes.The packaging is also great as it is really tough yet sleek enough for bathroom touch ups. It also has a handy mirror.

17 Dec 2014

Serozinc comes to the UK!

If you read even just a few beauty blogs you will have heard of Serozinc.  It is the must-have bloggers skincare secret.  Once upon a time everyone went crazy for La Roche Posay's Effaclar Duo, which I still use to this day, but then word got out from our continental friends that there was another cult La Roche Posay (LRP) product that we couldn't get! Cue endless trips to French Pharmacies to get our mitts on this most elusive of skincare items.


Well no more, Serozinc has arrived in the UK.  It will be sold exclusively by Escentual initially, you can join the waiting list here, which may be wise as I reckon this will sell out fast. I was incredibly lucky to receive a free sample in my goody bag at the LRP Bloggers Christmas Party (which was at the beautiful Magazine Restaurant at the Serpentine Gallery) and it really lives up to the hype.


What Does Serozinc Do?

Serozinc helps with combination or acne prone skin and helps control oil production.  This is not something that can be used by everyone, as if you have dry skin it would be disastrous, but for those of us not blessed with matte skin, this is a god send.  I have been using it for just over a week now and I can report that my skin is much less prone too oily outbreaks and I am even having to up the amount of moisturiser I am using!!!

How Do You Use Serozinc

It is a toner and like all toners it follows a thorough cleanse but before moisturiser.  The application is a dream as the aerosol can just lets you do a quick spray over your face (I like to rub it in at this point) then you just carry on your skincare routine as normal.  I apply Effaclar Duo on top as my moisturiser.  It can also be used to refresh your skin makeup throughout the day.

How Much Does It Cost?

It will be sold for £8.50 as a standard price but is 15% off at Escentual at the moment so it's only £7.22  Over the water in France it is just €5 which means it is still worth stocking up when you go on a Continental trip but for those who have built this in to their daily routine, we can now just stock up as needed.


Has anyone else tried this yet? I'd love to know how it works on other peoples skin.

11 Dec 2014

Christmas Party!

At the end of November I had my first Christmas Party of the year.  It was with the Mums from my daughter's school and was at the local golf club.  As always I took this as a chance to dress up.

picture taken before I put nail varnish on so that I wouldn't smudge it!

I got to wear my favourite dress, that my Husband bought for me to wear for his 40th in Las Vegas.  It is from LK Bennett's Black Ribbon collection, which is their luxury line, and I love it, though it is a pain in the ass to keep looking good as it shows both creases and marks up with only a glance at it.  

I wore OPI Vampsterdam on my nails which I picked up for only £3.99 in TKMaxx, it's a sheeny mulled wine kind of colour.  My shoes are from Nine West (last years, similar here) I bought them as the pale gold is pretty neutral and goes with most things.  Plus Nine West shoes are always comfortable and are generously sized. My bag is from Accessorise and is around 260 years old or thereabouts.  Note to self...must buy new evening bag, preferably one that my phone can fit in!

I went pretty minimal on the makeup as I was wearing such a bright dress, that I figured I would let the makeup take a back seat.  I have on all the usual suspects (see any of my previous makeup posts to get an idea) along with Urban Decay De-slick spray to keep it in place, I find this does help with the longevity of my makeup, I wouldn't say it last all day, but it definitely lasts longer.  The bottle is pretty large and I have had mine for a couple of years so far so a goo investment for special occasions.  I ventured to curl my crazy stubbornly straight hair with large barrel tongs and I used  volumising products, but it still dropped within 2 hours anyway.  

Obvioulsy I didn't wear my robe, this was before getting dressed.

What is everyone else wearing this xmas? 

26 Nov 2014

November Empties

I love a good empties post, it's when you get to see whether something perfomed past the first flush of infatuation and into it's twilight years.

Here is what I saved from the bin for your viewing pleasure this month.


The Best

Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Wash 

This is a firm favourite in my house, everyone likes using it, including my Husband.  Silky and moisturising with a fresh sweet lime cheesecake scent.  Only slight downside is the price but if it's on 3 for 2 then it only works out at £4.30 per bottle.  This last me about 3 months as the pump stops you using too much.  The empty bottle can also be repurposed for shampoo/conditioner holders for the kids so they don't use a third of a bottle every time they wash their hair.

Botanics Cleansing Foam Wash

You have seen me using this before, I know your not supposed to use foaming washes, but this one is so gentle and effective, it doesn't break me out and is a dream on oily skin. The best part is it's only £4 but often they have half price so you can pick it up for £2!

Retinol Reface by Indeed Labs

I have a whole post on this over here.  I love this silky retinol treatment for the face.  It is a bit siliconey which may not be everyone's taste but it doesn't leave me greasy and can be layered with other face products easily.  The price isn't too shabby either at £19.99 and it's regularly on 3 for 2. I already have another one in my backup drawer waiting for my to finish my ROC Deep Wrinkle Night Cream.

MAC Fluidline in Dipdown

I actually got to within 10% of finishing this baby before it went dry which, I'm sure you'll agree, is a miracle with gel eyeliners.  The colour is lovely and can be worn on a daily basis without being too dramatic, you can build it up for evening looks too so you can go all dramatic without having to wear black.  This really lasts and is on my re-buy list now. £15.50

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Addiction

I have re-bought this already as it is only £4.  A your-lips-but-better neutral colour.  It glides on nicely and is retractable so no sharpening needed.  It lasts well, though not amazingly.  I use this as a lip colour when I don't know what to wear.  Then I just layer on a coloured gloss or balm to give more depth. Another good colour in this range and not as dark is East End Snob, I hate the name but a good mid tone pink for everyday wear.

The Meh

Tres Semme Liquid Gold

This used to be my go-to hair serum, that is till I tried the Organix version that smells divine and is identical.  I don't believe the Moroccan Oil hype as it's first few ingredients are all silicones so the amount of Argan Oil left will be negligible.  See more detailed post here.  I do think that this is a good serum when it's on offer I bought mine at Superdrug and it was on offer so was £2.99 (usually 6.99) which is great for a decent quality serum with a pump.

Victor and Rolf Flowerbomb

I really wanted to love this but it just didn't have the sillage or the depth that makes a great scent for me.  I found it good as a Spring/Summer everyday perfume but nothing truly amazing.  Luckily it was a gift from Duty Free as I would have been gutted if I had paid for it.

The Dreadful

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

What was all the hype about! Seriously this stuff strips your skin and leaves it red and I have very robust skin that very rarely reacts to anything.  It gave me a lovely collection of blemishes within days of using it.  I discontinued use and then tried again with the same results.  I definite no for me, maybe better for others *I doubt it*

Scholl Cuticle and Nail Cream

Dull, boring, ineffective...  I didn't even finish it (and I had owned it for about 5 years) I'm going to stick with Sweet Almond Oil in future decanted into the cute little Solar Oil bottles which is pretty much what Solar Oil is anyway.

Aussie 3 Min Miracle Light Deep Treatment Mousse

I am the biggest fan of their original 3 Minute Miracle and have been using it for about 15 years, I love the smell, the feel of it and the result I get.  It's even a good price.  But this... Oh dear... I can't even brush it through my hair it has no "slip" so you can't comb it through your hair to evenly spread it and detangle.  I ended up using a handful about the size of a hedgehog to get any detangling going on at all.  Then, if I wasn't unimpressed enough, it decided to constantly dispense the remainder of the container down my shower walls for the next 3 hours until it was completely empty.  Definitely wins award for Biggest Let Down of 2014.

Offending article on the left :(

So there you have it, a trawl through my trash.

7 Nov 2014

Comfy Cosy Winter Style

I ordered this jumper dress on whim from Very, as I was looking for something for Christmas parties, but when I saw this, I knew it would work for so many daytime occasions over the festive period.  I did buy an night-time outfit for parties too which I will post at a later date when I have figured how to style it.  It was only £14 which is ridiculously cheap for such a nice dress.

Navy Duffle coat - originally La Redoute similar here on sale for £20! 
I love the colour which is the most true in the face shot, it is a purpley red with good blue undertones so I don't look too florid in it, though I would NEVER wear it it without makeup as it is very bright so needs balancing.

Bright Pink Jumper Dress from Very £14.40

Boots - originally from White Stuff £95 - similar here or here
 For more functional and reasonably priced outfit ideas follow me on Bloglovin here, or use the mail sign up form on the top right if you prefer it all a bit more old school :)

6 Nov 2014

Learning to Run - 8 Weeks On - Update

If your looking for a cheap, effective and totally personal workout then I fully recommend running (more like jogging) I wrote a post, 2 months ago when I decided to embark on a new fitness regime.  I started the 5k Runner app and followed its simple instructions 3 times a week for 8 weeks.

Was It Easy?

Yes to start with, as the walking outweighs the running so most of the time you are just meandering along.  As you get to week 4 though, things start to get harder.  I just found solace in creating an awesome playlist so I could keep running when I just wanted to stop.  The last 2 weeks are the hardest but because you know you have come that far you won't let yourself give up.  I tried hard not to skip weeks/sessions on the app as I had tried that before and it doesn't give your body time to adapt so you then are unable to complete sessions later on.

Do you ned anything special?

To start with I just bought another pair of exercise capri pants, so I could have one on and one in the wash.  To be honest though you could just chuck on any old tracky bottoms, a t-shirt and get going.  I would recommend ensuring your trainers are run-worthy though as if you sprain anything by twisting your ankle early on it will really annoy you.  I have since bought a fleece headband (I look terrible in this) to stop my ears getting frost bite as I run first thing. I have also purchased some sealskinz socks to stop my feet getting wet.  I am not a fan of running on roads, there is too much, traffic, crossing junctions, boring views, beeping white vans and other people for me.  The place I run most is generally used as a rugby pitch and so is awash with mud.  The first few times I stood in an ice cold puddle, I just got on with it but after a month or so I looked into buying some waterproof trainers, but they were all either hiking boot type things or hideously expensive. I found these fugly socks.  They aren't cheap, but because you can wear them with any shoes (obviously not stilettos!) I figured they would be useful.  They are parts of the Standard Army Kit so I figured they should be good.

Have you lost any weight?

Nope, not 1 solitary pound.  But...I have eaten enough cake recently (I blame Great British Bake Off) to have normally put on weight and so the running is negating some of my less than healthy eating habits.  I have lost size though  All my jeans are looser on me and my legs and arms, bizarrely, have toned up lots.  I imagine if you did this in conjunction with a diet it would work wonders but I figured that starting to run after a 10 year hiatus was enough for me, so I just concentrated on one change at a time.

What are the main advantages?

I found that the main thing I noticed is my mood improving.  I am much more positive after a run and feel more able to take things on.  I also noticed an improvement in my skin, I guess all the blood pumping round was helping the cells gets everything they need.  I also like feeling that I have accomplished something that I had been avoiding for years.  I had used every excuse to myself for 10 years and I have shown myself that it was just a load of rubbish.  I suffer with back pain, but running has eased it lots, it was bad the first few times I went out, but it quickly eased.  I also told myself I would start running when I was lighter which I see now, is the most ridiculous thing ever, but I honestly felt that it would be too hard to run with more weight.

What do you do when you've finished the C25K app?


I ran my first 5k last Saturday at the Banstead Parkrun, which are free 5k's that run every week in parks all over England.  They are a great way to try a race without the pressure.  I went with some friends which helped me feel less nervous and my Husband came too.  I was definitely not first but then neither was I last so I was happy overall.  I guess you could graduate to training for a 10k if the idea of running for an hour straight doesn't bore the pants off you. I however have decided to stick to 2 x 20 min quick runs per week and then 1 full 5k each week.  I am hoping that I can improve my Parkrun time and also keep my stamina for longer runs. I found this for anyone who fancies keeping going once the 5k mark is reached.


Has anyone else started running?  I know loads of my friends have.

30 Oct 2014

How to Wear Ankle Boots with Curves - Lotus Teagan

When the lovely people over at Lotus offered me the chance to try some of their shoes, I obviously snapped them up.  I decided to try something slightly outside of my comfort zone as I live in knee high boots in Winter and so I opted for these gorgeous ankle boots.  They are called Teagan and are of such high quality for the £75 they retail at.  The thing that impressed me most, was the comfort as I spend nearly all day on my feet (well except for when I'm blogging) and these have lovely padded insoles and a sensible stacked heel.  They have a normal leather front and then a suede snakeskin effect back which makes them more original than most ankle boots out there.  I also really liked to leather pull, on the zip which makes them a doodle to put on.


Lotus Teagan Boots £75

I figured it would be too easy to just put these on with some bootcut jeans, as all you would see was the front, so I decided to try a different approach.  I love the looks I see on Pinterest with ankle boots paired with dresses, but as usual this is a look that works best on those with a slimmer frame.  So I decided to adapt it slightly by matching the colour of the tights to the boots and skirt so that it slimmed my silhouette but still gave me a slightly more edgy look than usual.  To be honest edgy would never be a word you would associate with my style, I play it safe every time.

Here I wore them with a Poncho, ribbed black skirt and tights.  I would wear this outfit regularly as it is so comfy and versatile, I could wear this for most anything.

ankle-boots-with curves

I also gave the ankle boot, cosy sock and tights look a go, I'm still not sure on this... but I figured it was worth a try.


I then tried a more dressed up look.  I have a on a Ted Baker coat that is several seasons old and was originally red, but I dyed it black.  I promise I am wearing a skirt beneath the coat, contrary to photographic evidence.

ankle-boots-with curves


Overall I am really impressed by the boots, less so my styling of them, but I reckon with a bit of practise I may be able to give wearing ankle boots without trousers a go.  I liked that as a size 8/9 UK these fit me with ease, which I would say means they are pretty true to size, towards slightly generous, so if you like to wear socks under your boots then you would be able to do this with Lotus shoes. If you fancy taking a look at their range this is the site that I got them from, I also really liked these boots, which are more biker-y.


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22 Oct 2014

Autumnal Nails with Revlon and OPI

I am not a big fan of Summer nail polishes, apart from the coral pink ones, they without fail, look dreadful on me, I don't think my skin is made for such bright colours.

Now Autumn colours is a completely different matter.  These are just the colours I have worn in the last week, I reckon I could list about 20 colours that I love for Autumn.

OPI My Private Jet Revlon Mischievous Revlon Smoky Canvas

As you can see from the pictures above, the colour in the bottle is somewhat different than the colour once applied.  All of these are 2 coats and no top coat.

Revlon Smoky Canvas- Review

Smoky Canvas is such an easy to wear everyday colour, it is a kind of a mushroom colour and looks great on the days where you just want to wear black.  I like that this one is good at hiding chips too.  It is obviously not quite on the same chip-hiding scale as Nude polishes but it's not bad either.  It is nice and opaque after 2 coats and has a reasonable glossy finish.  It seems to have been discontinued now but Bare Bones by the same brands is just a slightly warmer version.

OPI - My Private Jet - Review

I adore this colour and had been after it for about a year when I eventually needed a top up product to get a deal on a purchase of a steam mop (oh the glamour) and so I got this.  I want to wear this everyday, obviously this is not possible, but I still wish I could.  For those of you in-the-know out there, this is the non-holographic version, but I like its subtle sparkle as I am not a big bling fan.

Revlon Mischievous - Review

I have had this a couple of years now and it is a lovely muted purple.  It as actually closer to the colour in the bottle than the photos I took, but I couldn't get it to show up well at all.  In case you haven't gathered I am am a serious Revlon nail polish fan.  Their formulas are so heavily pigmented and the bottle is larger at the bottom which helps me to not knock it over whilst applying it.  I also really like the brushes that come with them.  I often buy these when they are 2 for £10 in Superdrug.  They last for ever and I rarely get to the end of one. Again this one has been discontinued but here is an almost identical shade from Barry M called Cappucino £2.99.

What are your favourite colours to wear in Autumn?

19 Oct 2014

A Woodland Walk with Joe Browns

I have just got my Joe Browns Catalogue through the door and a couple of pieces really stood out as perfect Autumn Day Wear. I already have a similar pair of boots but the Secret Support Leggings sound ideal, they seem to be thicker than usual and, according to the reviews, good at smoothing out lumps.  I have to love the Poncho too, I have a grey one already which I love but it isn't often the weather to wear it, as it can't be too cold nor too warm, or raining, so I only get to wear it a handful of times per year.


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