Thursday, 28 November 2013

Love Me Beauty Box November 13

Love Me Beauty November 13

Another month, another Love Me Beauty box. I seem to be the complete opposite to most other beauty bloggers and was actually a tad disappointed to see a heavily make-up based beauty box this month. Give me skincare and hair care as much as you want, but with make-up I much prefer to pick my own shades after swatching them in a shop. Thankfully you were able to pick your preferred nail polish and lipgloss colours from one of three editions (formerly known as "menus"), so I still had some choice and opted for edition 1.

1) Absolution | Le Soin Purifiant
Full size: £24 for 50ml / Sample value: £19.20

Absolution_Le Soin Purifiant

I can't say I've ever heard of this brand before, so testing this was quite the novelty! The mask feels very smooth and soft on the skin and is nowhere near as messy and sticky as most other clay based masks I've tried. You can definitely feel this working, as it made my face a bit hot towards the end of the 10 minutes you're meant to leave it on for. Afterwards, my skin felt thoroughly clean and my moisturiser sank in in record time.

2) Jelly Pong Pong | 2-in-1 Bronze Shadow/Liner
Full size: £10.50

Jelly Pong Pong_2-In-1 Bronze Shadow Liner

The colour of this shadow and eye liner stick is absolutely stunning: a deep rich brown that leans slightly cranberry red and is shot through with golden shimmer - absolutely perfect for this time of the year! The big pencil glides on without tugging the lid, but I found that on its own or even over a primer it creases very easily. It lasts much better if you set it with a powder eye shadow, but will still crease after about four hours. If it wasn't for the stunning colour, I would have been pretty gutted about this, as the quality simply isn't there.

3) Mitchell and Peach | Shower Wash
Full size: £20 for 250ml / Sample value: £4

Mitchell And Peach_Shower Wash

Last month I received a Mitchell and Peach body lotion as an extra product and this month I found the matching shower wash in my box. Once again, the packaging may be pretty looking, but makes getting the product out a bit more difficult than it needs to be, especially when your hands are all wet and slippy from the shower! Thankfully the shower gel is runnier in consistency than the body lotion, so I am yet to give myself a black eye trying to squeeze this out. It's a nice shower gel with a very pretty herbal/floral scent, but I'm not sure I'd spend £20 on a full bottle of this.

4) Models Own | Nail Polish "Hot Pink"
Full size: £5

Models Own_Nail Polish Hot Pink

I'm a huge fan of Models Own polishes and would be quite happy to own every single shade in their collection, so I was rather excited to see their polishes pop up in this month's boxes. They're great quality and pack a lot of pigment at a very reasonable price. I have to admit that I was a tad gutted when I opened my box and realised that the colour I picked, "Hot Pink" is almost identical to another Models Own polish in my collection, "Pink Punch". I've not yet worn it on my nails, however, so it might look completely different on!

5) Art Deco | Hydra Lip Booster "36 Translucent Rosewood"
Full size: £11.50

Artdeco_Hydra Lip Booster Translucent Rosewood

Now, usually I get a little annoyed when there's too many repeat brands in a subscription box, but Artdeco is a brand I literally can't get enough of and this lip gloss only adds to that sentiment. It glides on silky and smooth, actually feels quite moisturising on the lips and is just the perfect shade of nude: opaque and milky enough to make lips step into the background and really bring out the eyes, but sheer enough to let some natural lip pigment shine through and prevent that "undead" look. Absolutely brilliant!

Edition 1 swatches
Swatches: Left - Artdeco Hydra Lip Booster in Translucent Rosewood, Right - Jelly Pong Pong Bronze Shadow/Liner

Everyone who received last month's Love Me Beauty Box also got an extra Lord&Berry lipstick to make up for last month's underperforming mascara and eye liner. Well, not everyone, because I didn't. And when I sent an email to customer services about that and the fact that I keep getting charged twice a month for my subscription, they sent me a rather moody email back which completely ignored the issue of my missing lipstick. Can't say I'm impressed!

Total value: £50.20

Once again I've more than made my money's worth with this month's box, but I can't help but feel a tad underwhelmed. The mask is really nice and the lip gloss is amazing, but the other products haven't really blown me away. Add to that my rather mediocre customer service experience and I feel my love for Love Me Beauty waning slowly. I hope they can get themselves back in the game with another knock out box next month!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Walking in a Winter Wonderland


I'll let you all in on a secret. I'm absolutely OBSESSED with Christmas. As soon as Halloween is over, there's no more excuses and no holding back and my festive preparations are in full swing. I've turned the living room into Santa's little grotto, bought some ridiculous looking Christmas jumpers and there's tinsel EVERYWHERE. So imagine my excited little face when me and my boyfriend decided to pay Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park a visit yesterday.

We started off by browsing the stalls which had lots of cute hand made Christmas decorations. I found them all to be rather pricy, but then they were all hand made goods, so I suppose that justifies the higher price tags.


Lots of pretty snow globes...


... and some happy Santas!


Look at the gorgeous boxes that these hand made chocolates came in!


There was a stall selling Swedish Moose burgers, but as tempting as that sounded, we opted for something slightly more German and shared a Currywurst.


... which turned out to be the worst spent £5 of the night. Look at that measly little portion, it didn't even come with a bun!


I wish we'd had some of this awesome looking salmon instead, which was just slowly roasting/smoking by the fire pit!


These mountains of marzipan also looked very appetising... shame I don't like marzipan!


The cute little market stalls eventually morphed into loud, flashy and buzzy funfair rides with a sort of festive theme. I found myself entirely mesmerised by the huge, glowing white ferris wheel and had to be dragged off my staring spot after a good five minutes.


And yes, that's Santa in his sleigh right at the bottom.

Moving on, we decided to make friends with the locals, such as this friendly snowman.


I also tried to high five this polar bear, but failed miserably.


It's a lot easier when you're 6'5"!


Thankfully the penguins were a lot more height appropriate for me.


If there's one thing you want to spend extra money on while at Winter Wonderland, make sure you get some tickets for the Magical Ice Kingdom. At £7 per person at off-peak times, or £9 each during peak hours, it's money well spent. Prepare to freeze your tits off as soon as you enter, but for that slight inconvenience your greeted with sights like this one.


Or this....


You basically enter a carefully crafted fairytale of ice and snow - beautifully lighted and enhanced by sound effects all around you. Not all creatures were particularly friendly. Look at this guy...


I don't even want to know what he was brewing.


Some creatures were very majestic...



... others not so much.


The minute we stepped back outside it felt as if we'd entered a nice warm room lit with a log fire. All that exploring definitely warranted some refuelling. We were still slightly gutted that we hadn't tried that moose burger, so jumped at the chance when we found a stall selling buffalo, ostrich, springbok, wildebeest and wild boar. We opted for springbok, which albeit a little firm, was actually rather tasty!


We then ventured on to a huge Oktoberfest-style beer tent, where we drank some horrendously overpriced mulled wine and quite possibly the worst beer we've ever had in our lives. In the mean time, this dude was tearing up the stage with his performance. Imagine your awkward, embarrassing uncle (everyone's got one of those!) singing Black Eyed Peas in front of lots of people.... Having said that, the crowd there seemed to love it, so fair play to him!


It was almost at the exit that we finally found a worthy opponent in the sausage department. Look at this beast!!! (I mean the sausage, not my boyfriend)


Compared to actual German Christmas markets that I'm used to, Winter Wonderland turned out to be a little too loud, a little too try-hard, and way too overpriced, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't quite magical anyway. It's definitely worth a visit if you're in the area, even if it's just to have a wander round and to inhale all the delicious Christmas smells while listening to cheesy Christmas music!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review: St Ives Apricot Scrub for sensitive skin

The St Ives Apricot scrub is a product I used to use religiously. It's cheap, easy to get and I've always been a fan of its grainy scrubbiness, but for the last few years I've strayed and tried quite a few other exfoliators. It was during a recent trip to Boots that I felt so uninspired by all the other brands' offerings, so I decided to revisit my teenage favourite and finally dedicate it its own full length review!

Out of the five different scrubs on offer (I swear there always used to be just two), I opted for the gentle one for sensitive skin, as I remember these always being a bit rough and didn't want to overwhelm my skin. And oh boy, it's a good job I did! Now, don't get me wrong, as I'm a huge fan of those really grainy, "scrubby scrubs" that you can physically feel working on your face - and that's just what this is.

The way I use this is two to three times a week, in the mornings while I'm under the shower, as it's easier to get it all off your face once you're done if you're exfoliating in the shower. I wouldn't recommend using this on dry skin, especially if your skin is sensitive. But if, like me, you're a fan of in-shower exfoliating and find that a lot of lighter scrubs just slide off a wet face, then this is pretty much spot on as far as texture goes.

You'd be forgiven for expecting a sickly sweet apricot smell from this product, but it's actually very faint and subtle - I'd even go as far as saying too subtle, bring on the fruity scents! The packaging might not be the most luxurious, but the squeezy tube does its job, is fairly inoffensive, and light enough to pack for travel.

As far as long-term skin benefits go, this doesn't really make any otherworldly claims, other than to reveal "smooth, radiant skin". Now, I'm not sure I'd describe my post-scrub skin as extraordinarily smooth and radiant, but what it does is just get my skin really, really clean - which is just what it needs from time to time.

If you're after a luxurious pampering experience, this is not going to be for you, but I can definitely see why I used to be such a fan of this product. It's no-nonsense, nice and grainy, but without any random big sharp chunks and just gives your skin a bit of an extra clean from time to time. The 150ml in a tube last for ages and you still get change from a fiver. What's not to love?

St. Ives Gentle Apricot Scrub for sensitive skin retails at £4.29 for 150ml.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Review: Boots Botanics Cleansing Toner

Toners seem to be one of those products that split the beauty world. There are those who swear by them and others who reckon they're just a huge waste of money, as they're not a product you can immediately "see" working. For me, they've been a firm part of my skincare routine ever since I started getting into beauty and I think this little gem I've found might even make the naysayers reconsider.

The hint here is in the name. This ain't just a toner, it's a "cleansing" toner, baby! What this means is that when I swipe this over my face even just after cleansing, it's simply amazing how much crap I'll suddenly find on that cotton pad. Sorry if that's not an overly pleasant image I've painted there, but I'd rather have all that gunk on a cotton pad than on my face!

I've used some toners in the past that have left a sort of sticky feeling on my skin, but I don't get any of that with this one. I also didn't find it leaving my face dry and tight at all, even though it does contain alcohol. The only feeling I'm left with is a nice clean sensation and my skin is certainly ready for all that moisturising that's about to follow.

The toner isn't overly scented, so while you can detect a slight floral smell, it's delicate and shouldn't offend any sensitive noses.

If, like me, you're not overly keen on double cleansing, but still want to make sure your skin is perfectly prepped for moisturiser, then you can't really do any better than include this in your skincare routine.

At £3.99 for 250ml it's an absolute snip!