Monday, 19 August 2013

Review: Lush Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask

It's been an age since I raved about the Cosmetic Warrior Fresh Face Mask from Lush (reviewed here) however today that beautiful smell of potions and lotions again drew me into the store.
After an informative chat with the in store assistant, she recommended two mask products for my oily skin (both £5.95/75g):
Cupcake - 'this mask has linseed infusion to nourish and soften the skin, fresh mint for toning, cocoa butter to moisturise and rhassoul mud to absorb grease and give a deep cleanse' - mud masks being a tried and tested success on my skin meant I didn't need a lot of persuading to decide to open my purse strings for this delightfully tasty sounding product.
Brazened Honey - 'A detox to get tired and dull skin back to being radiant and glowing.' - I'd mentioned a love of scrubs and the assistant advised that the particles contained in this mask were ideal for buffing away dead skin cells. Sold!
Unfortunately the Honey mask was sold out temporarily. Undeterred, the assistant offered me a few sample pots to take away and try out. Of course, while she was busy potting it up I picked up a mini Charity Pot Hand & Body Lotion (£1/10g) too.
As I may well be popping back to Swansea tomorrow (co-inciding with the new batch coming in to store), I decided no time like the present and hot-footed it into the bathroom to get the tub run and try out one of the mini pots....
You can see the product is a thick consistency with some nice chunky bits in there perfect for exfoliating. It smells great too - not sickly or overly sweet.


I smoothed a generous layer over slightly damp skin. The texture  makes it easy to apply an even layer and work into place without running or dropping away from the skin. Within 10 minutes I could feel it drawing and tightening as it dried.

After 10 mins and a quick test on a patch of skin, the product had dried enough to've done it's work. It was so easy to buff away with my fingertips and barely left anything to wash away. A quick rinse and it was off - effortless and painless.
My skin looked de-clogged and felt really smooth and fresh without being tight or dried out.
Yay, another success! I can't wait to try the cupcake out now too.
Much love,

Saturday, 17 August 2013

NOTD Opi Did You 'Ear About Van Gogh?

I've got pretty pale skin and as a result, tend to shy away from wearing really light shades of nail polish. One of the neutral shades that has made it into my collection though, is the Opi Did You 'Ear About Van Gogh? from the Spring 2012 Holland collection. I was lucky enough to bag this from Fragrance Direct for just £3.99!

It's described in so many different ways.... putty, taupe, beige, cream, mushroom, cafe au lait, ecru etc etc. But, however you describe it, I love it! A classic and elegant shade that goes with anything with the added bonus of not making my skin appear dirty or washed out either!

Two coats plus a top coat (I used Nails Inc Kensington Caviar) gives it a healthy sheen and helps ensure the colour stays put.
So ladies, if you wanna go nude, go Dutch!
Much love,

Results: Making My Own Body Scrub

I've mentioned just how much I love a good scrub loads of times on my blog and am always trying new ones. In a bid to start looking for cheaper alternatives though, I decided to try my hand at a little DIY and make one of my own.


Pure Coconut Oil = £14.99 a jar (bought from Holland & Barrett today - buy one, get one for 1p).
Soothing Seasalt = £2.50 (again from H & B)
Lavender = free - picked from my garden
Pot = free - recycled from a previous product
So, here are the results:
Raw Coconut Oil - I chose this type of oil after a little research, mainly due to it's softening, soothing properties, not to mention the scent too. Sea salt  - draws out toxins and provides the coarse element to slough off dead skin cells.
I've been drying out some lavender from the garden for two weeks and decided to add some of this to the mix. It looks and smells pretty and I thought it'd give an added texture too.
The salt and oil mixed together easily and smelt gorgeous!!

I stirred through some lavender and sprinkled some on top - doesn't it look pretty?
So, what did I think of the final product?
It was so simple to make - the benefit being you can always add more oil/salts as required so you get to tailor your scrub to your preferences. The coconut oil smells fantastic. I probably won't use the lavender next time as the scent of the coconut is so delicious on it's own, plus it was a bit of a pain to wash out of the tub. Tthe sea salt was easy to wash off leaving the oil lingering on my skin - another bonus as there's no need to follow with a moisturiser! An hr later and It feels really soft and supple without being greasy.
I've popped the remaining oil in the fridge and have read that it's good for hair too so I'll be giving this a go in the future.
For what it's cost to make, I'll definitely be experimenting further and getting good use out of this for a fraction of the price I'd normally pay for a body scrub. Plus with the alternative uses for the coconut oil, it's a real multi-tasker!
Bye for now!


Saturday, 3 August 2013

Friday Facial - Something For The Weekend

After a long hard day and with the weekend to look forward to, I love nothing more than a soak and a bit of extra pampering to finish off my working week. So, what products have I used? ....
First up, the essential glass of wine - after all it's no longer a school night right? Here's a (very) generous glass of one of my favourites Tesco Finest Cotes De Gascogne normally £7.99 per bottle, currently on offer at £5.99 plus 25% off any 6 bottles or more so £4.49 making it even more delicious!

Another essential - my towelling headband. This one's from a champneys set I got last christmas and it's brilliant. Soft, elasticated, wide plus it's easy to wash. This way I don't end up stray hairs wandering onto my skin and getting clogged with product.
A clean flannel left to soak in hot (but not scalding) water until required.
Ok, so that's the prep out of the way. On to the products ... 
Step one - Cleanse (Nude Cleansing Wash): I've been using this for the past two weeks and love the creamy lather it creates. Although not designed as a make up remover, I find it does the job perfectly. It doesn't feel harsh or leave my skin feeling dry and has a fresh, almost floral scent. The smallest amount of product is enough to cleanse my whole face and I've experienced no breakouts.
Step two - Exfoliate (Dr Nick Lowe Scrub): This tube has lasted me well over a month and there's still enough left to hopefully see me to mid month. The consistency is perfect - grainy yet not too harsh, easy to work around the skin and the cooling effect makes my skin feel totally clean. It's definitely one to try if looking for a good scrub.
At this point I use the hot flannel to open my pores for a few minutes before moving on to the next stage...
Step three - De-clogging (Origins Mask): Using just a thin layer, this really gets into my pores and draws out the impurities. It dries quickly and is easy to remove leaving my skin looking fresh and glowing.
Finally, just a quick splash of cool water to close my pores and I'm done.
Have any of you tried these products? I've found them to be a great combination  for my oily skin and will be purchasing all three again in the future.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Review: Collection 2000 Big Fake Ultimate Mascara

A few days ago I popped a post up on the products I bought for my £10 challenge (you can read about this here). Having used a few of these already I thought it only fair I reviewed at least one of them on my blog, and so, I've selected the Collection 2000 Big Fake Ultimate false lash mascara. Priced around £5.99 and available in the majority of high street stores I managed to bag this on offer in Wilkinson at just £2.98!

So, what do the retailer websites say?

'...improved with a bigger, better & bolder formula than ever before to create the ULTIMATE mascara!! ... Plumps and stretches each individual lash without clumping or smudging, for a bigger, better lash-look...'

'It's back, it's big and it's better than ever! .... for a phenomenal flutter worthy of an A-list star.'

'Fabulously full lashes provide instant, gorgeous glamour to almost any makeup look.'

Pretty impressive sounding eh?

I've now tried the product for three days running. Here are my thoughts....

You can see from the picture that without a good coating, my lashes appear pretty non-existant, largely due to being naturally fair-haired. On opening the tube I thought 'blimey, that wand is HUGE' however it loaded well without picking up much excess. (Something I hate when trying to get to the inner lashes as it normally ends up splodged in the corners!)

This is with two coats applied and a smudge of black eyeliner on the bottom lid. I was really impressed with the lift and seperation achieved with the mascara. It doesn't look clumpy or overloaded and even for a large brush, it's reached the corners easily.
I love the lengthening effect it has without feeling weighty. This is with three coats - I prefer a heavier look so this is ideal for me and although I usually only need two coats of my current everyday mascara (Le Volume De Chanel), at a quarter of the price I'm more than happy slicking on an extra coat! 

I've found this product does last a full day and is easy to remove without having to scrub for ages, and would definitely recommend it to friends as a fantastic, budget friendly product. At the price I paid for it, I'll be stocking up!


Sunday, 21 July 2013

NOTD - Nails inc Bluebell (Instyle Magazine)

Today I've been sitting in the garden, watching the OH busy potting, planting and potching. Whilst there I took today's nail inspiration from the lavender and selected Bluebell from Nails Inc. I got my hands on this one c/o June 2012 InStyle magazine (yep, I've had it a while!) making it just £3.80.
It's a lovely, fresh shade which looks great against my sun-kissed skin.
I've applied two coats of the polish to give an even coverage and finished off with the Nails Inc Kensington Caviar Top Coat.
Doesn't it look beautiful set against the lavender?

Monday, 15 July 2013

NOTD - OPI If You Moust You Moust, Servin' Up Sparkle & Nails Inc Kensington Caviar Top Coat

This weekend has seen temperatures soar and the sun shine, what better to do than paint my nails in a bright summery pink and add some sparkle too?
My choice?
For the base colour I chose OPI 'If You Moust You Moust' from the OPI Mini Mouse Collection. I selected the beautiful glitter and holographic OPI 'Servin' Up Sparkle' from the Serena Williams Glam Slam England Collection to add some bling, and Nails Inc Kensington Caviar Top Coat for a shiny smooth finish.
Before - my nails need tlc but I'm still a novice nail painter with a tendancy to pick at any loose bits and neglect my in progress but they are still in pretty ok condition - two coats of the pink give great coverage and help to hide my sins away!
A couple of coats of the sparkle give some serious shine! The hex's are really easy to pick up and deposit on the nail without having to use excessive amounts of product.
I find that with glitter polishes more so than any other, a good top coat is essential. It keeps the nail feeling smooth and avoids catching on clothing etc. These pics show some serious shine in natural daylight and after a little tidy up with a cotton bud and some nail polish remover I loved the finished effect.
Update: Three days later and they still look as good as new. Pretty impressive considering I've had a night out and a day on the beach too. At over a week later, this polish combination was still flawless.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sunny Days at Aberavon Beach

This weekend when temperatures have soared, me and the OH decided to spend some time on the beach. We're so lucky to live on the coast and although in many respects, our town lacks charm and finesse, the beach is rapidly becoming one of the best in the area.
With miles of promenade, a pier, play areas, a cafe, a new gelato shop, and landscaped gardens, it has something for everyone.
It's been a wonderful weekend which has seen us reminiscing about our childhoods on the sand, enjoying the early morning peace and tranquility as well as beating the crowds for a sought-after spot.
Here are some pics I've taken over the last few days:
The footprints in the sand are all mine - first ones on the beach on friday morning. Just as the tide was coming in.
Two ladies helped each other down the steps onto the sand to enjoy a paddle in the waves. It was really touching to see them supporting each other and taking their time to enjoy the early morning tranquility.

There's nothing like the warm sand between your toes to put a smile on your face!
Dredging the sand to remove left over packets and bottles.
Cafe Remos
A deluxe hot chocolate - marshmallows, cream and a flake.... mmmm!!!
And here's the OH popping our tent up for today's session in the sun.
A godsend as we've spent over 7 hrs on the sand today. It's helped to keep our drinks cool and proved a respite from the unforgiving sun! I wish I'd taken some shots of the crowds later in the day but sunbathing and splashing in the sea was priority (hee hee).
I've truely had an amazing weekend and am so thankful to have such beauty on our doorstep.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Review: Clinique Chubby Stick Intense - Curviest Caramel

You may already know I've got a lot of love for the Clinique Chubby Sticks but for those who didn't you can read my previous review here.
For the past few years I've been more inclined towards lip balms and butters compared to lipsticks, mainly because I find them more moisturising and with less tendency to bleed around the lips when eating/drinking/talking (or sometimes all three!)
Being the proud owner of quite a few of the standard chubby sticks, I've wanted to try the Intense version in order to make a comparison and explore the new shades for a while now, and so, at £16 I opted for Curviest Caramel.
Marketed on the site as:
'NEW Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm delivers full coverage in 8 rich blod shades. Lips are immediately moisturized and left with a soft glossy finish in a bright intense colour.'
and described on as a product to:
'Tempt lips with a soft cushion of colour that's not quite sheer, not quite opaque - just the perfect happy medium. Loaded with mango and shea butters so lips feel comfortably soft and smooth.'
My thoughts...
I really wasn't expecting it to be much different from the standard chubby sticks, however the colour pay off is a lot stronger and you need fewer coats to get the desired shade. The product feels heavier when applied but without the stickiness you get with a standard gloss. It feels moisturising and smooth and lasts ages.
I love this shade against my pale skin. Being a girl who goes for strong eyes/nude lips it's going to look great for my next night out. I'll try to pop a pic or two on of the stick in situ but until then, here's a quick lip pic.

So, what do you think?
Are you a fan of the Clinique Chubby Sticks and if so, which shade is your favourite?
Thanks for reading....
x Gem

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Secret Beauty Junkies.... Freebie Challenge!

Over the past couple of months I've been participating in a fantastic challenge through a facebook group I'm a member of.... Secret Beauty Junkies! 
'What did the challenge involve?' I hear you ask. Good question. The aim was to gather as many items as possible for free, which you would then send to a designated person (I was paired with the lovely Debra). The items had to be new and not paid for using money (cash/card etc) but the rest was down to the 'freebie finder'.
I used a number of methods to gather goodies for Debra: 3 for 2 purchases where the free gift was passed on, loyalty points (Superdrug, Boots, Shopcade), GWP items, Magazine freebies, Sample giveaways, Prize wins, gift items I'd received but wouldn't make use of myself, Clubcard coupons, In store money off vouchers ie tea bags (I had a 50p off voucher for Twinings I'd used to purchase some individually wrapped bags - worked out 50p worth and popped these aside for the swap box), Complimentary Hotel minis...... you get the drift huh?
It's been a pretty insightful experience - there really is so much you can get for free when setting your mind to it. I've always loved sourcing a bargain (you may have noticed this from a few other posts) and love getting something for nothing. The main difference this time being the freebies were for someone else.
Here are a few pics of the items I received from Debra just yesterday....
So many gorgeous goodies - far too many to list! From sample sachets of skincare and makeup, cosmetics, toothpastes, coupons, tea and coffee, bubble bath, a waxing kit, a bracelet, and a Yankee Candle wax tart to some lovely pet food pouches for my gorgeous cat Shange!
Debra and I messaged each other a few times both before and during the collection period to try to make sure the items sent would be suitable and enjoyed.
I was so happy to receive my side of the swap and am sure I'll use all of the items, in fact, I've already used some of the tea bags and bubble bath!! Shange was thrilled with her Gourmet pouch (she'd previously only eaten Felix and most recently Whiskas) and may have chosen a new favourite... bizarrely my OH has decided that the little gold fork that came with it is now his - he wants it for his olives and pickled onions so there'll even be some recycling going on!
Of the swaps I've seen taking place through the group, everyone who participated has enjoyed. The variety of products gathered has been immense and stands testiment to how a little research, bargain spotting and sometimes, a cheeky request can prove fruitful and rewarding.
I can't wait to do it all again!
Have any of you completed a similar challenge?
Would you do it again?