Thursday, 31 October 2013

Lush Pumkin Bubble Bar Review | Happy Halloween!

Since it's Halloween, I thought I'd put up a vaguely relevant post- Lush's Pumkin Bubble Bar. I find that Halloween isn't really such a big deal over here in England, which is a shame, since I'm a big fan of black and orange. I think it's getting more popular, judging by the amount of Halloween themed chocolates in the shops, but I don't think it's up there with Christmas and Easter. After all, we have Bonfire Night, which is far more exciting! My local rec always has an amazing fireworks display, themed to music (last year it was James Bond themes), so I'm looking forward to that!

Anyway, onto the bubble bar. It's called Pumkin, not Pumpkin, which upsets me somewhat, but I mean, it's all the rage to drop letters (tumblr, flickr etc) so maybe P is the next to go. It's very cute, and shaped like a pumpkin, so you can't really go wrong. It's a bubble bar, which means that it's very crumbly! The idea is that you crumble it under the tap and it creates lots of bubbles and turns your bath a gorgeous orange colour. The main ingredient of this bubble bar is Ylang Ylang oil, which is supposedly good for you in some way. According to the wikipedia page, it reduces high blood pressure and is an aphrodisiac. Ooh-er!
 
Lush Pumkin Bubble Bar
Spot the real pumpkin! (Hint: only 3 out of 4 are edible!)
You could probably get away with using half of Pumkin in your bath, but I opted to use it all for maximum bubble action. If you do break it apart, then it is way more economical, although at £2.75, it doesn't exactly break the bank! I found this a lot easier to crumble, than some of the more solid bubble bars, like the Comforter, which I find really hard to break apart, but maybe I just have really small hands. It made my bath smell gorgeous and turned it a lovely orange colour. There were loads of bubbles and my skin felt really soft for ages afterwards. A real winner!
 
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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cheap Midi Rings | Accessories for Autumn

I know I'm a little late on the trend bandwagon, but I'm loving midi rings! One of my friends bought me one for my birthday and since then I can't get enough! Since midi rings are so small, I'm a little apprehensive about spending a huge amount on them, since I'm paranoid that I will lose them!

That's where the high street comes in handy. You can get relatively inexpensive packs of midi rings, so you can try out the trend. Now, it's not for everyone. I know that I don't have the most elegant fingers in the world, but I still went for it because, well, life's too short to spend it worrying about your sausage fingers.

Obviously, the midi rings from the high street are not going to be of a high quality. The ones from Primark, especially, will without fail turn your fingers green. I'm not usually a fan of fast fashion, but in this case, I can forgo a couple of quid in exchange for some midi rings.
 
Midi Rings Primark River Island
I really think hands are the hardest to photograph elegantly
 
From left to right, I have:
They're quite quirky, and a little bit cool. I wouldn't wear this many at once, but you get the jist of it. My favourite is the triangle one, which I wear the most. You can also get some really cool ones on Etsy, which are a bit pricier, but of a much better quality and more interesting design. So, if you're really into midi rings, definitely check Etsy out, but if you just want to try them, it's River Island all the way!
For those interested, I'm wearing Essie Luxedo on my nails with the Bourjois So Matt Top Coat, which I reviewed here. Love this combo for Autumn/Winter.
 
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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush Balm Review | The Redder the Better

One look I've never really been quite daring enough to rock is the red lip. It's a staple, a classic, but I've always been a bit, well, scared of it. Not least because I am of the ginger persuasion and you know, do orange and red really go? However, there's no time like the present and I decided to stop being a wimp and just go for it. What's the worst that could happen? I mean, there's always make up remover...

I was actually on the hunt for a matte red lipstick when I stumbled across the Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush Balm collection in Boots. I'd never seen these before, and I think they're pretty new, since I can't actually find them on Rimmel's website... I bought The Redder the Better, a bright tomato red. I was trying to avoid blue undertones, since I don't think they suit me as well, so this one was perfect for me.

There's been a bit of a chubby pencil balm craze recently. It started with Clinique, then Revlon, then Bourjois, and then everyone and their dog was making them. I don't know why Rimmel is so slow on the uptake, but I'm glad that they've finally got their act together because I really like the Colour Rush Balm.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush Balm Packaging
You simply must match your lip colour with your book cover, dahling

I previously reviewed a Revlon Kissable Balm Stain and was not that impressed with it. It's safe to say that this Rimmel Colour Rush is much better! For one thing, it doesn't smell of mint and for another thing, the colour really hangs around. I found that Revlon's offering was a little light on the colour payoff and I found it off-putting in its shininess. The colour of the Rimmel Colour Rush Balm is richer and deeper and is much more opaque. I know that the actual colour is different, but the Rimmel Balm has a stronger pigmentation for sure.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush Balm Lips
The Redder the Better... agreed!

The colour of the Colour Rush Balm is phenomenal. It promises on the packaging that it's long lasting and intense...and it's not lying! It stains the lips a softer version of the colour, so if you rub the product off, then you're left with something still there. It's a moisturising formula and glides on very easily. I'm impressed! Colour Rush balms are also very inexpensive at £5.99 for one, and would be great for the Christmas party season, or just for everyday use. The finish is sheeny, but not shiny and I think they would be suitable for everyday wear.

There are six other colours in the range, which are mostly pinks and neutrals, which are universally flattering. I only went for this one because I was looking for a red lip, but I might be back for more once payday rolls around! 

Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Rush Swatches
I do love a good swatch
 
My only real gripe with the Colour Rush Balm is that it's not a one sweep product. If you want a dense colour, then you have to build it up. I tried to show this in the swatches above, they are one to four coats from left to right, but you know, it's not a massive hassle to do this. I'm just incredibly pushed for time in the mornings (I am a serial alarm snoozer), so appreciate one coat products, but this is something I can put on on the bus, so not a huge drawback.

I must admit, I have always been impressed by Rimmel lip products. I've reviewed their Kate Moss Lipsticks and their Apocalips Lip Lacquers favourably before and think that they're always consistently high quality across the board. Bravo, Rimmel! You're onto another winner with the Colour Rush Balms.

The bottom line:  Cheap, highly pigmented, moisturising, what's not to love? Go for it!
 
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Monday, 28 October 2013

And now for something completely different...

It's all well and good writing about beauty products and make up and skincare, but you know, that's not all I do! In fact, it's a pretty small part of what I get up to. I started off writing about makeup and skincare because I wanted to actually start putting some research and effort into what I was putting on my face. However, since I can only buy so many cosmetics, I think it's worth documenting some of the other stuff that I get up to.

Recently, I decided to actually get out and do things. I came to the slow realisation that I didn't have any real hobbies and  I wanted to try some new experiences. I had a think and came up with two new activities: archery and art history.

Archery

 
Archery
I'd like to pretend that I risked life and limb to get this shot, but archery is actually really safe
 
My brother and I have recently become obsessed with a programme on the History Channel called Top Shot, which is an American reality show that tests marksmanship with lots of different weapons from throughout history (hence why it's tenuously shown on the history channel). If you haven't seen it, then you should! I have no interest in guns whatsoever, but it is so. funny. Everything explodes, there are hissy fits of epic proportions and drama galore, but also good sportsmanship and some amazing feats of shooting! Watch series 2 if you like rooting for a real sweetie, watch series 4 for amazing shooting and watch series 3 for unbelievably hilarious (and ridiculous) drama.
 
I was inspired by Top Shot to try my hand at archery and am really enjoying it! I'm no Top Shot, but I can consistently hit the target. It's not something that I ever thought about before. I mean, I'm not violent, but I do really like it. It's a sport that requires a lot of accuracy and the ability to be consistent in your movements and sequencing. I like it because it's satisfying to send an arrow into a target and it requires a lot of patience and concentration. It's also pretty simple to pick up and doesn't require you to be particularly fit or strong! Definite bonus..!
 

Art history

 
Art History
What a terribly interesting photo.... hah!
I also decided to start learning again. I finished my degree a few years ago and thought it was time to start filling my brain with something more than celebrity gossip and where to buy the cheapest snickers bars. I settled on art history because I never know what to say when I visit art galleries. I'm only a few lessons into the course, but I'm really enjoying it so far. It's good to be learning, without the pressure of exams and essays, and I can report that it's improved my art gallery enjoyment so far!

It's also inspired me to learn more about Greek and Roman mythology, since it's harder to analyse Renaissance paintings without knowledge of the stories! I think a lot of good has come out of studying again, for one thing, I'm starting to think critically again, which is always a good thing. I'm also more motivated, generally, because I have something that I enjoy to focus on and think about.

This is not to say that Hester Lierre will turn into an archery/art history blog, but I think it's good to touch on these things from time to time, since there's more to my life than lipsticks!

Do you have any hobbies, or have you tried any new things recently?
 
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Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil Review

If you have dry skin like I do, then you'll know how important it is to keep it hydrated during the winter. For this reason, I decided to give a cleansing oil a go and settled on the Body Shop's Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil. I have never tried an oil for skin cleansing before, but thought that since oil adds moisture, I can't go wrong with it for hydration purposes.
The Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil costs £10, which is pretty good in my books for something that goes a long way. I use this morning and night and have been using it for a couple of months and I've still got over half left. Well worth the tenner in my opinion.
 
Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Oil
Spot the elephants!
I really like this. I have not had any problems with dry skin thus far and I think this does an excellent job of cleansing my skin and removing makeup. I still use a different eye make up remover, because I'm scared of putting oil on my eyes, but it takes my foundation etc off with ease.
I use two pumps of the cleansing oil and put it directly onto my skin, then I wet my hands and massage it in, which lathers the oil slightly, and then I wash it off. It leaves my skin feeling clean, but not squeaky clean, which I like, because I think that squeaky clean removes some of the moisture. 

I've got really sensitive skin and this cleansing oil is very gentle and has caused me no problems whatsoever. My skin feels normal for once, which is a big breakthrough! My friend, however, has oily skin and she tried this and she hated it because it was way too moisturising for her. It exacerbated her oiliness and although it says that it's for all skin types, I'd take it with a pinch of salt.
I think this is much better than the last cleanser I had, which is the No7 Melting Gel Cleanser. Once I started using the Camomile Cleansing Oil, I realised how drying the Gel Cleanser was. Not to say that it was bad, just that I need something with a bit more moisture.
If you have problems with dry skin, then I'd definitely recommend this as a mild cleanser. I wouldn't say that it is the most amazing cleanser ever, but it is a decent, gentle, thorough cleanser that won't break the bank. Good enough in my books!
 
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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Blueberry and Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake

For my Dad's birthday, I made him a Blueberry and Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake from BBC GoodFood. It must be said that he's actually not a massive cheesecake fan, so I don't know what possessed me to make it, but the other people there enjoyed it! Just a warning: this cheesecake takes forever to make. It's a baked one and the baking process takes so long. You have to make it the night before. If you are willing to put the time in, definitely go for it because it is delicious. It's very sweet, so if you're into that, you'll love it.

Blueberry and vanilla cheesecake
Very shiny, very sweet, very delicious
So, here we go, here's the recipe from GoodFood:

Blueberry and Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake

Ingredients
  • 300g digestive biscuits
  • 140g butter (melted)
  • 275g golden caster sugar
  • 100g blueberries
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 900g full fat cream cheese
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 200ml pot sour cream
Recipe

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Line a tin with baking parchment. Put the biscuits in a food processor and blitz to a fine crumb. Add the butter and blitz again to combine. Tip into the tin, press down firmly with the back of a spoon to cover the base, then bake for 10 mins. Leave to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, tip 25g of the sugar and the blueberries into a small pan. Mix the cornflour with 1 tbsp cold water and add this to the pan. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bubble for 1-2 mins until saucy. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese with an electric hand-held whisk until smooth. Add the remaining sugar and whisk again. Add the flour, vanilla, eggs and soured cream, and whisk until smooth and well combined.
  4. Pour half the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base, then spoon half the blueberry sauce on top in small blobs. Cover with the remaining cheesecake mix and smooth the surface with a spatula. Drizzle the remaining blueberry sauce over the top, then use the end of the spoon to ripple it into the cheesecake. Bake for 10 mins, then lower the heat to 110C/90C fan/ gas ¼ and bake for a further 30 mins. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside for 1 hr, then leave for 1 hr more with the door ajar. Finally, leave at room temperature until completely cool, then chill for at least 3 hrs or, even better, overnight. Slice into 14 bars. Will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, July 2013

Let me know if you try it!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

& Other Stories Sale Haul

I have recently got into & other stories and bought a couple of things from their 50% off sale the other day. The only bad thing I have to say about them is that their postage is extortionate at £6! It is delivered by courier, but still! I was almost put off, but then I thought, why not treat myself?


Primark tartan trousers & other stories shoes
It is remarkably difficult to take a good picture of feet


The first thing I bought was these leather ballerina loafers for £33 (reduced from £65). I'd been looking for a new pair of black leather flats and these fit the bill. They're really comfortable and I think they'll last a long time, or at least I hope they will! They've got a square toe, which is quite unusual in a shoe. I really like the fact that all & other stories shoes seem to be a bit quirky and not your standard shoe shape. I do like a bit of quirkiness.

Also, if you were wondering, my tartan trousers are from Primark recently. Very unusual. I'm not usually a massive fan of Primark's quality, but I really wanted a pair of tartan trousers and these were the cheapest ones that I could find, so I went for it. I can't remember exactly how much they were, but it was definitely under £20, if not under £15. I was coveting all the tartan in Zara, more specifically the tartan pencil skirt, but wasn't sure if I could pull it off. A cheap pair of trousers from Primark seemed to be a good compromise.


& other stories lion bag and pirate latitudes crichton
My Crichton obsession continues...
I also bought this red leather clutch with lion details for £15 (reduced from £29). It does remind me of Gryffindor quite a bit, which is probably what swung it for me. Although, having been sorted into Slytherin on Pottermore, I probably shouldn't like it... It's a gorgeous red leather with gold lion details and is pretty spacious, considering its size. I think I might use it as a make up bag, and not as a clutch, but it doesn't really matter, so long as I get to use it!

I'd definitely recommend checking out the & other stories sale. They've got some great reductions on there and some gorgeous, clean lines in their designs.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Easy DIY Corkboard For My Room

A quick, easy corkboard DIY today. I've been looking for a cool corkboard for ages. I even toyed with buying this very expensive Urban Outfitters Mini Cloud Corkboard Set, but then I just decided to make one myself. This isn't really a DIY as such, because there's not any cutting or sticking involved, but it wasn't sold as a corkboard, so technically I have re-purposed it, which makes it a DIY....right?!

Cork Board DIY
It's the perfect size for positive thinking
I picked up a corkboard trivet from Tiger, which is great for cheap, quirky items. It came in a pack of 2 for £2, which is an absolute bargain. I just put it up on the wall with blu tack and hey presto, cool corkboard. I like that it's circular, rather than rectangular and is really thick, so it holds the pins easily.

I bought the clouds and raindrops pins from Paperchase, which is not normally a shop that I am particularly fond of, but maybe it's because they were in the shape of clouds I relented. They were only £2.50 as well, so not too pricey. I had the postcard hanging around anyway, so decided to stick that on for a bit of positivity and my new creation was born.

Obviously, I'd only use this corkboard for little notes and things like that, since it is a bit on the small side, but it fits nicely above my laptop and it was really easy to do, so definitely a winner in my book.

What do you think? Have you ever re-purposed anything?
 
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Saturday, 12 October 2013

Controversial Lush Soot Ball Bath Bomb Review

Warning! Do not buy the Lush Soot Ball Bath Bomb. Oh wait, you can't, they've recalled it from the website and it is no wonder. This was actually the worst bath bomb I've ever tried, but I'm almost glad that I did because it gave me a good laugh.

Lush Soot Ball up close
It looks so sweet and innocent. It's a demon.

I have never been so disappointed by a Lush product. I've written about other bath bombs quite recently, which are so much better. This bath bomb was such a flop, honestly I don't know what Lush was thinking. It's no surprise that they have pulled Soot Ball from the website after a lot of negative reviews and probably a lot of complaints. I picked it up in store because it looked cute, but you know, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and in this case, that saying has never been truer.

Spirited Away Soot Balls
Adorable little soot balls

But you know, let's try and be at least a little bit objective...

Ok, so on the positive side: it looks cute. It's based on one of the Soot Balls from Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away,l which is a sick film if you haven't seen it. Those cheeky little soot balls are pretty cute, as you can see from the picture. This bath bomb wasn't very expensive, at £2.50, so I didn't waste too much money buying it! It's from the Halloween collection and I um like Halloween? Ok, let's be real here, that's about it.

Lush Soot Ball aerial
The calm before the storm...

It's one of Lush's smaller bath bombs, and as I said in my last post about bath bombs, I'm not usually very impressed with Lush's smaller bath bombs and this one did not buck the trend. It is terrible! It smells awful, it stains your bath black, it looks like, well, wee.

Right, now brace yourself for this picture. It's not pretty.
 
Lush Soot Ball Bath
I feel a bit sick looking at this
 
What the hell were they thinking? I mean, without being too crass, I don't particularly want it to look like I'm bathing in urine. I've noticed that Lush don't make the interiors of their bath bombs red, so they don't look like blood, so why have they made this one yellow? Soot Ball really, really disappoints. I don't particularly like saying bad things about Lush, because I generally love them, but my goodness this bath bomb is grim.

Soot Ball is coated in a black glittery substance which stains your bath. I honestly spent about 45 minutes scrubbing the tub to get it out. When I dropped the bath bomb in, it immediately sank to the bottom. Not a good sign, since all the others float and fizz. It just sunk and turned this horrible dehydrated urine colour.

Lush Soot Ball in action
What even is this? So disgusting. It looks like sludge

The smell was unpleasant as well. Who knows what it was meant to smell like, because it just smelt rotten to me. It didn't particularly do anything for my skin and it certainly did nothing good for my bath, since it stained the bottom black! I couldn't really get a picture of it bubbling or changing colour, because it just made the water murky, and then yellow. It was as if Soot Ball was sulking at the bottom of the tub. 

However, it did give me a good laugh. I couldn't believe what it looked like, so chose to see the funny side, rather than getting irritated. In all honesty, I really hope they don't bring Soot Ball back. Ever. And if they do, they'd better change everything about it except the appearance. Sorry, Lush. The Soot Ball Bath Bomb is a failure.

The bottom line: If you see this in Lush, don't buy it. If someone offers it to you for free, don't try it. Just don't. Just don't.
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Friday, 11 October 2013

Maybelline the Falsies Volum' Express Mascara Review

Ok, I caved to peer pressure and bought this mascara after hearing loads of bloggers harp on and on about it. I'm throwing my hat into the ring and reviewing the Maybelline the Falsies Mascara. I got the one with lace on it and I don't know what the difference is between this one, and the one without lace, but there we go. Maybelline seem to have a lot of mascaras in similar tubes, with similar names, but with different patterns on the lids. What's up with that? Who knows...

Anyway, I've only reviewed one other mascara so far on this blog, the Max Factor Wild Mega Volume Mascara, so you can compare creepy eye close ups with that one if you so wish. I have to say, comparing the two, that the Falsies is much more natural than Wild Mega Volume, which now that I look back, is good, but is very uniform and rigid, whereas the Falsies is a bit more feathery. But anyway, we'll get onto that.

Maybelline the Falsies Mascara
Nice tacky lace on that tube there, Maybelline

So, the Falsies. It's a relatively cheap mascara at £7.99 in Boots, so pretty mid-range. The packaging is truly hideous. I'm not mad on pink, or lace, so it was never going to be a winner with me, but it's quite a good size for carrying around with you, if you're into that.  
 
Maybelline the Falsies Mascara
It's a very flexible wand. I'm sure there's a dodgy joke in there somewhere
Maybelline have christened the wand 'spoon-shaped' and I suppose that's quite a fitting description. You put the scooped part against your lash and wiggle it up. It's quite bendy, so that works in your favour for getting to the hard to reach lashes and creating curl. The formula is decent, actually and doesn't clump. After just one coat, my lashes were lengthened, separated and looked longer. It did do what it promised on the tube after all!

Maybelline the Falsies swatch
Staring at this is really making me freak out. Anyone else?
 
I'm guessing that Maybelline called this mascara 'The Falsies' because it's supposed to look like false lashes. Hmm. I don't think that it quite lives up to this name. It made my lashes quite feathery and followed their natural shape, but didn't make them look particularly false. I wouldn't look at my eyelashes and think Katie Price, I'd think more Katie Holmes. Not a bad thing at all, but not a false lash effect. But then again, can a mascara ever do what false lashes can? I doubt it very much.

I do like this mascara. It's not omg the best mascara eva~* but it is pretty decent. It's more of a daytime mascara, so don't let that saucy lace on the packaging fool you! I can see why there would be a lot of hype around this, but I'm not sure that it's the holy grail of all mascaras. I think I'll have to continue my quest.

Bottom line: A decent, high street buy. Doesn't quite live up to the hype, but then again, what does?
 
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Thursday, 10 October 2013

My Natural, Everyday Makeup Look

Just a quick post today about my everyday, natural makeup routine! This is what I'm using at the moment, but of course, it's subject to change.
 
My everyday makeup
My everyday makeup, pretty much every day
Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser (Reviewed)
Rimmel Match Perfection Loose Powder in Translucent
Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Light
Body Shop Brow and Liner Kit in 01 (Reviewed)
Sleek Blush by 3 Pumpkin- Lantern Blusher (Reviewed)
Toasted from the Naked Palette
Maybelline the Falsies Mascara
Korres Wild Rose Lip Butter  
  
I like to keep my makeup nice and natural for when I'm twirling round the garden. Ha ha. Or just for work, really. I don't like to go too crazy, especially since I always snooze my alarm and end up having about five minutes to do my makeup. If that happens, then I skip a lot of steps (like the concealer and powder) and might have to eat my toast as I run to the station. I'm usually organised, promise! I just don't like waking up early. 

Anyway, this is pretty much what I use. I do switch up the lip and eye products a lot. I find that the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser gives me a flawless base, and then I only use a tiny, tiny bit of the Sleek blusher to give myself a little bit of colour to my cheeks. Since it's coming up to winter, I'm switching to more moisturising lip products, as my lips tend to get pretty cracked if I don't take care of them. That's pretty much it, really. Nothing too groundbreaking, but who has time for highlighting, contouring etc in the morning? Certainly not me...
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Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Mini Lush Haul

I know, I know, I reviewed Phoenix Rising the other day, but I just can't resist Lush's bath bombs! Or bath melts. And the other day I went in and picked up three new ones: Bombardino, Lord of Misrule and Star Light, Star Bright. I saw that the Halloween and Christmas collections had arrived and went in to have a look,  but then ended up buying a few. Naughty, naughty. Lord of Misrule is from the Halloween collection and Bombardino and Star Light, Star Bright are for Christmas. I'm so excited to use them!

Star Light, Star Bright
Star Light, Star Bright: £3.30

Star Light, Star Bright is a bath melt, which means that it's softer and creamier than a bath bomb. I'm intrigued to see how sparkly this is because as soon as you touch it, your hand is covered with silver glitter! I'm sure this will dissipate somewhat in the bath. I'm very intrigued by Star Light, Star Bright, as I've not actually tried a bath melt before and am hoping for good things. The main ingredient in this one is shea butter, which I know is really good for my skin, so I'm optimistic for a good bath.
 
Lord of Misrule
Lord of Misrule: £3.30
This bath bomb is from the Halloween collection and the shop assistant said that it had popping candy in it! How exciting! Lord of Misrule is quite an odd name, apparently it's inspired by Pagans, so, ok I suppose that fits in with the Halloween theme. It contains Black Pepper oil, so that will be very interesting. It smells alright, so we'll see how that smell manifests itself in the bath. I don't particularly want to smell like an over-seasoned soup, but I trust Lush not to do that to me.

Bombardino
Bombardino: £2.50
Last but not least is Bombardino, a little bath bomb. It is quite small, so I wonder how effective it will be. I usually go for the big ones, like Dragon's Egg, and the only other time I've used a small one I was not at all impressed with it. I can't remember what it was called, but it was a limited edition Easter or Mother's Day one and it was green with a pink flower on it and it was pretty ineffective. So, anyway, I'm hoping Bombardino isn't like that! It smells of lemon, so that's a good start! 

I'll keep you updated once I've actually used them, and since I like to use one a week, it might be a while.

Also, if you were wondering about the background- they're just colourful doilies from Poundland- 30 for £1. Pretty good bargain if you ask me.

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Goodies from Farmaline, the online pharmacy!

Last week I was very kindly contacted by Farmaline, who are an online pharmacy and asked whether I would like to try out a few of their products. I, of course, jumped at the chance! I'm a big fan of European skincare and beauty products and Farmaline specialises in just that. I picked out three products and then Kim very kindly sent me some samples to try as well! I felt very special and very lucky to try these products.

So, here we have it, the products I received from Farmaline:
 
Bio Beaute Micelle Water
 
Galenic Paris Argane Creme
 
The Argane creme comfort infini restoring from Galenic
 
Apivita Lip Balm
 
The Lip Care with Black Currant from Apivita... 
 
Farmaline Samples
and some amazing samples including products from Phyto, La Roche Posay and Vichy to name a few. 
I've always wanted to try these brands, so am really excited to give them a go. I haven't had a chance to use them yet, but I will definitely put reviews up once I have. 
Pretty cool, huh? Here's a bit more of an in-depth review of all the products that I received to try.

Apivita Lip Care with Black Currant

 
Apivita Blackcurrant Lip Balm

I picked out the Apivita Lip Care with Black Currant to try out of a choice of two Apivita products. I went for this lip balm because I love the smell of blackcurrants and was not at all disappointed.  It smells gorgeous! Exactly like blackcurrants, which is exactly what I was hoping for. It's also made of 99% natural ingredients, which I really like, since I'm not a huge fan of chemicals and the like.
 
Apivita Blackcurrant Lip Balm

I have been wearing this lip balm every day since I received it and it is incredible! It makes my lips really soft and  leaves them with a little bit of shine and a just hint of colour. I was worried that it might come out purple, but it is really subtle and looks really natural. The only bad thing I have to say about this lip balm is that the packaging is really cheap and not very hardy, so I'm expecting it to break!

I think it's definitely been helping my lips fight the Autumn cold and I think I might have to invest in a few more of these lip balms from Apivita because if this one is anything to go by, then all of them must be amazing!

Bio Beaute by Nuxe Orange Micelle Cleansing Water

 
Bio Beaute Orange Micelle Water

Since receiving this Micelle Cleansing Water with Orange Water from Bio Beaute by Nuxe I have been using it every night to remove my makeup and can report that it is so much better than the L'Oreal Micellar Water that I previously reviewed. It takes my makeup off in one fell swoop. I was worried that the orange might make my eyes burn, but it is very gentle and very thorough at removing my makeup. The only thing that the orange does is leave a gorgeous scent behind. I'm a big fan of fruity smells, so it really works for me. 
I have sensitive skin and this hasn't irritated it at all, which is a big plus. I can't speak for waterproof makeup, since I don't wear it, but the ease with which it removed my makeup was very impressive. I would definitely recommend this Micellar water over the L'Oreal one.

Argane Moisturiser from Galenic

 
Galenic Argane Face Cream
 
The third product that I chose was the Argane creme comfort infini restoring from Galenic. I was actually in the market for a new night cream, after using up my Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream. This night cream is very thick and heavy and has a strong scent. Although do not let this put you off because it doesn't make my skin flare up and I have very sensitive skin.
 
Galenic Argane Face Cream Swatch

When I first used it, my mum asked me whether I had a face mask on because it made my skin very shiny and it did look a little mask-like. However, when I woke up, all of the moisturiser had sunk in and my skin felt incredible! It was really soft, smooth and moisturised. It was absolutely amazing. I think I may have used a bit too much the first time and since then have been using a tiny amount for my face and it does an excellent job. I would definitely only recommend this for night time though, since it is very thick.
I think the moisturiser is possibly my favourite product of the three. It is such a rich cream and does a fantastic job of keeping my skin hydrated, which is a tough ask in this harsh, cold weather. Well done, Galenic!
I'd just like to thank Farmaline for sending me these products to review. I am really impressed with both Farmaline and the products and would recommend ordering from them. I had a little look around their site and saw that they even stock the hard to get hold of Bioderma, (2x500ml bottles for £22!!) so what are you waiting for? 
 
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Sunday, 6 October 2013

Super Cool Urbanears Plattan Tomato Headphones

Yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon and bought some urbanears Headphones. What a wannabe. I went for the urbanears Plattan in Tomato and thought I'd write a quick review.

Urbanears and ipod classic
I never realised how difficult it would be to get a good picture of some headphones!!

I have very small ears and find it difficult to find in-ear headphones that actually fit, or that don't hurt, so I have resigned myself to the fact that I will forever need big headphones. What a #firstworldproblem... Anyway, I'm glad that urbanears headphones exist because they are seriously cool and make me feel better about my tiny ears.

They come in loads of different colours and I went for red, because it's my favourite colour. I have to say that it wasn't the exact shade of red I was expecting from looking at the pictures, and it is more of an orangey red, so I ended up inadvertently matching my lipstick to my headphones when I wore my Laura Mercier Roman Moon lipstick the other day. Is that a faux pas? I'm not sure.

The urbanears headphones are really comfortable, with adjustable sliders for the size of your head and can be folded up for easier portability. The only thing I can see being an issue with them is the fact that the headband is made of fabric and that's going to get dirty pretty quickly. At least in my bag, anyway...

Urbanears in sunlight
Look at dat lens flare

There's a handy little button on the cord, which stops and starts the song you're playing when pressed, although there isn't a volume control, which would have been a nice touch. The plattan headphones are mildly noise cancelling and don't leak your audio, unless you are playing some proper bangin' choonz. They only have the cord from one ear, which is great because it stops that annoying tangling and the cord is covered in material, which will probably get dirty, but it does look good.

The urbanears headphones retail for around the £50 mark, but I got mine cheaper on Amazon for about £37, which is a better deal in my book. I'd definitely recommend them if you're looking for some colourful, cool headphones and they're a great alternative to beats by dr dre, which are much more expensive and to be honest, about the same, sound-quality wise.

The bottom line: Want to look cool? Buy urbanears. Want to cancel out the irritating coughs of fellow commuters on the train? Definitely buy urbanears.


Urbanears outdoors
Music. Makes the people. Come together. Yeah.

And just while we're here, here are some songs I'm loving at the moment. Or if you want to make it even more relevant, here are some songs I've been listening to on my urbanears headphones:

Ask: The Smiths

I love Moz. I love how ridiculously full of himself he is. I love that his autobiography is a Penguin classic and I can never pick a favourite Smiths song. However, I have been loving Ask recently. I do like a good tongue in cheek love song.

Work B**ch: Britney Spears
 
Britney (or Godney as she should be known) is a true love of my life and this song is sick and I don't even care who knows it.She's back to her best and she knows it!

Everybody Wants to Rule the World: Tears for Fears

An eighties classic. I've been really getting into Tears for Fears recently and love this one. I don't know what it is, the melody or maybe the lyrics but I feel it.

Walk like a Man: Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons

I went to see Jersey Boys recently, and while I didn't really like it, I did like the songs! This one is stuck in my head and I don't even know why. I think it might have been the slightly embarrassing dancing that accompanied it. Hilarious.

Blu Cantrell fr Sean Paul: Breathe

A classic. Reminds me of being younger and thinking I was cool. Absolutely guaranteed to get a sing-a-long going. I just have to hold back on the commute and not bop along. For it is one of the rules of the London Underground- no singing, no dancing and absolutely no eye contact.

Well, there we are. What a mixture. What songs are you into at the moment? 

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Friday, 4 October 2013

How to Optimise your blog for SEO: The Title Tag

We've all heard about different ways to optimise your blog for SEO, but a really simple way to do this is to change the <title> tag. If you've got your standard blog template, then your <title> should only include your blog name. This is not good for people searching for your posts. Yes, it's fine if you're a big name blogger, but if you're looking for ways to boost your SEO, then I'm guessing you're not.

The idea behind changing your title is to increasing your organic page ranking on search engines, thus increasing visitors to your blog. Now, this does sound a little like mumbo jumbo, but hear me out. If you're proud of your blog and want more people to read it, then it's a little change that you can make, that can potentially make a difference. Now, I'm not promising that you'll have thousands of visitors flocking to your blog, but it's the little things that make a difference in the end.

How to change your <title> tag to optimise SEO for Blogger

 

1. Go to Blogger > Templates > Edit HTML

This isn't as scary as it sounds. If you are a complete novice, do not worry, this will not destroy your template, or your blog or do anything untoward. It'll just bring more people to your blog. More readers means more recognition of all your hard work, so let's get going!

All you need to do is log onto Blogger, then click on Templates and then on Edit HTML under the picture of your blog live view.

How to change your <title> in Blogger
Step One: Edit HTML

2. Back up your template just in case

This step is completely optional, but if you are intensely paranoid that something will go wrong, then the best thing to do is to backup your template. This can be achieved easily by clicking on the Backup/Restore button on the right hand side of the Template page. This will then bring up a pop up and all you have to do is click Download full template to get a little peace of mind.

Back up your blog template
Step two: Backup your template just in case

3. Find your <title> tag and replace it


This is the most important part of the process, you will need to find your <title> tag, which either looks like:

 <title><data:blog.pageTitle/></title>

                                or

<title><data:blog.pageName/></title>

and replace it with this HTML code and save template:

<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == &quot;index&quot;'>

<title><data:blog.title/></title>

<b:else/>

<title><data:blog.pageName/> | <data:blog.title/></title>

</b:if>

This should look like this:

How to optimise your blog for SEO traffic
Step 3: Replace with new HTML code
This means that your title will now look like this:

Better SEO for your blog
The finished product!
This means that for each post, your title will now be the actual title of the post, followed by your blog name and not just the name in isolation. The fact that now both are included in the title means that your SEO results will improve and your blog will look a little more professional by improving the look of your links to prospective readers. What's not to love?
 
Let me know in the comments below what you think of my tutorial on how to improve your <title> tag to increase SEO.
 
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Thursday, 3 October 2013

Stressed out? Relax with Phoenix Rising

There's no better cure for when you're feeling a bit stressed out than luxuriating in a bath with a Lush bath bomb. My bath bomb of choice this time was Phoenix Rising, a glittery, cinnamony ball of pure goodness. I am a big fan of Lush, and have written about their products before, most recently the Catastrophe Cosmetic face mask. I love their stance against animal testing, their fresh products and their natural ingredients. Yes, they're not perfect, but they are brilliant.
 
Lush Phoenix Rising Bath Bomb
It's so pretty and so glittery and so not my usual thing

I was feeling a little strung out the other night and thought I'd treat myself to a bath. My sister had bought me Phoenix Rising for my birthday, since its name reminded her of Fawkes the phoenix, so I thought I'd give it a go. The bath bomb itself is one of the two types of bath bombs that Lush make and is one of the ones that doesn't produce any bubbles. This can seem a little odd at first, and a little exposed, but since it's just you in the bath (unless you've got company, in which case good on you!) it doesn't really matter. The bath bomb has a very strong smell of cinnamon, which I love. I'd go as far as to say that it's my favourite smelling spice, so it's perfect for me.

Lush Phoenix Rising Bath Bomb
I tried to spare you the general grimness of my bathroom

Phoenix Rising is covered in gold glitter, so I did think that it might make me glittery, a la Britney's sparkly Toxic bodysuit, but instead it left my skin feeling soft and my soul rejuvenated. Ok, maybe that's a bit far, but it was pretty relaxing. The bath bomb also includes shea butter, jojoba oil and cocoa butter, which is probably why my skin felt so smooth. The cinnamon was very soothing and the pretty colours certainly helped to chill me out. The bath turns a wonderful shade of magenta, with just a subtle hint of shimmer. Gorgeous.

Lush Phoenix Rising Bath Bomb
It is quite magical. I wonder if they had something similar in the Prefect's Bathroom...

For £3.25 it's a fantastic treat for yourself. Yes, I know it's not the most cost effective bath ever, but who needs to be penny pinching all the time? You've got to have a little bit of fun. I'd say that, of all the bath bombs I've tried, Phoenix Rising is the best Lush bath bomb. Well, at least the best of their regular stock. My favourite is actually Brightside, but that's only available at Easter, so I'm counting down the days until I can get my hands on it again. Figuratively of course...

Definitely give it a go if you haven't tried Phoenix Rising already. Maybe you'll be a person reborn, or maybe just very, very moisturised. It's win-win, really.

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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I love my Nikon D3200 DSLR to bits

I wrote in my birthday wishlist post that I wanted to get a DSLR camera for my birthday and I managed to get my wish! Huzzah! Or rather, I got some money towards one and I made up the difference! I wrote in my wishlist that I wanted a Nikon D5100, but changed my mind since writing that post and ended up with the Nikon D3200 DSLR. 
I am a completely amateur photographer and wanted to buy the best DSLR camera for beginners. I was intimidated by phrases like live histogram and aperture priority setting, having thus far only owned a Canon Digital Ixus 75, which is a standard point and shoot, and although it did the job, I was looking for something a little bit punchier.

I was actually pretty clueless as to what made a good DSLR camera, so did extensive research online, consulting every article imaginable for beginners DSLRs, before eventually settling on the D3200. I also bored the sales assistant stiff in Jessops, asking thousands of questions and umming and ahhing until I made up my mind. I decided to stick with just the kit lens for now and then buy more in the future once I've decided what sort of photos take my fancy.

Best DSLR for beginners
My beautiful baby post-instagram filter
When picking my new DSLR, my first decision was the age old one- Canon or Nikon? I went for Nikon purely because they're a bit cheaper, but still really good quality. I then was realistic about the amount of money that I had saved and plumped for one of their entry level DSLRs. I thought that since I'm a complete beginner, it probably make sense to go in easy, in case I didn't take to photography. However, I am happy to report that I absolutely love it! I am obsessed with my camera, to the point of awkwardness.

Since getting it I've been taking photos of everything, just to practise. I've also taken new company headshots for the website at work, which is pretty cool. I mean, I'm in no way a professional, but I'd like to get better and the only way to do that is to get out there and take pictures!

So far I'm really impressed with the quality of the images on the D3200- they're really punchy and realistic. The camera isn't as heavy as it looks and although I'm still learning what the different modes do, it's been easy to pick up for a beginner like me. I'm hoping to develop and grow and eventually be able to use manual mode, but I think there's still a long way to go. I mean, I still haven't even used the sports mode setting yet!

I might do some posts on photography in the future, since I really enjoy it and so I can see myself improve, but here are some of the shots I've taken so far. Let me know what you think...

Salad for Dinner
I turned into one of those people and took a picture of my dinner

Over the shoulder
A familiar face :)
 
Royal Astronomical Society
This is the first photograph I took on my camera. Pretty cool.

So, Blog, I'd like to introduce you to your new best friend, the Nikon D3200, Nikon D3200, I'd like to introduce you to your new mate, Blog. Let's play nicely, now.
 



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