Thursday, 30 April 2015

Maybelline Great Lash vs. Maybelline BIG Great Lash

I'm a proper sucker for a really, really good lash-lengthening mascara and believe it or not I think one of the best mascaras for that is the original Maybelline Great Lash. This little gem could be found in your mums old makeup stash because it's been around THAT long and I know that it's popular with lots of makeup artists. To look at it, it looks like a bit of a 'nothing' product, if you know what I mean. There's nothing particularly special about the packaging or the brush but that doesn't put me off at all because like I say it's a product that will always be in my stash.

When I saw that they had brought out essentially the same product but with a bigger brush, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to buy it (for research purposes only, you understand!).



As you can see there's quite a considerable difference between the size of the two brushes, I'd say the big one is easily twice as big as the original one. Having used both of them I can wholeheartedly say that I prefer the original one because it's just so much easier to apply the mascara with. The size of the big brush actually makes it very difficult to use and the product has often ended up all over my eyelid with very little on my actual lashes which is frustrating! The big brush doesn't separate the lashes anywhere near as well as the small brush does and it seems to have a tendency to clump which is quite disappointing given how impressed I've been with the original. There's not a chance in hell that I could use the big brush for my bottom lashes whereas the little brush is absolutely perfect for bottom lash application.

I wouldn't recommend the big one to anyone to be honest, when I've finished this post it'll probably be going in the bin. If you're going to buy either I would definitely say to go for the original, I did a high end vs. high street mascara comparison post a while ago so go and have a read of that to see how good it really is!

Have you tried either of these?

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Skin Epiphany and Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot Review

You'll have probably seen me going on A LOT about how my combination/oily/blemish prone skin has been the bane of my life for quite a few years now and I've obviously had to tailor the products I use for the type of skin I have (the sensible thing to do, right?). So for years I've been happily plodding along using products which say the same kinds of things on the label; 'for combination skin' or 'for problem skin' and then there's 'mattifying' which is always a word I've looked out for in lots of products both skincare and makeup. But what happens when the kinds of products you used to use, seem to stop being so helpful?? 

I say this because not so long ago (February time), I bought Soap & Glory's raved about 'One Heck of a Blot' powder because it was said to be the best thing for keeping oil breakthrough at bay. At one point I went through a stage where my face ALWAYS looked shiny within a couple of hours of makeup wear but the powders I was using were making me look a little bit cakey because I was putting so much on in an effort to 'set' my makeup properly so I was looking for something translucent to try and stop the oiliness without any caking. Enter One Heck of a Blot:



I loved it, honestly it was one of those products that was love at first use. It was light, it didn't cake, it kept oil at bay and I didn't have to worry about the shade because it was translucent. It's not cheap (£12.00) don't get me wrong; I'd probably say that Soap & Glory was, on the whole, one of the more expensive high street brands out there but in this case the product really did warrant the price tag. The packaging was sturdy, the unused powder had a nice little embossed kind of design on it and there was a mirror in the lid (a nice touch which is always a winner for me). But then something happened in my body which told my skin to start changing. 

I've seen lots of people talk about how their skin has changed (usually with age) but I never imagined it to happen to me, I just thought my skin would carry on as it was for however long. It was a bit of an epiphany for me really, after years of 'battling' with breakouts, an oily t-zone and dehydrated cheeks was I finally seeing a bit of a change which was going to make caring for my skin a little easier??

The foundation that I'd loved for the best part of a year (No.7 Beautifully Matte) had begun to make my skin feel really heavy and caked in makeup and wearing lots of powder to try and combat the oil breakthrough was no longer needed really because there was very little oil breakthrough there. It was as if my skin was finally drying up a little bit. I swapped to a different foundation (L'oreal Infallible Matte) and pretty much hated it, I found it really drying on my skin and I've put it down to the fact that my skin must have changed. 

For the first time in my life I actually feel like I have relatively normal skin now. It's like my teenage skin has finally caught up with my adult body which is a really good feeling and one that I really hope sticks around for a while now. I now have very few blemishes aside from hormonal ones, my skin doesn't feel as dehydrated as it once did and like I've said, oil breakthrough during the day is quite minimal. I'm touching wood like mad after saying all this that it's not just a phase, because I really am loving having my skin as good as it feels right now. 

Now I've just got to find a new skincare and makeup routine to suit my skin all over again, such a chore ;-) 

Have you ever had a 'Skin Epiphany?'

p.s. I would love it if you could leave your 'normal skin' product recommendations in the comments below...

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Sunday, 19 April 2015

How to choose the right type of camera for you

I see so many people asking on Twitter, especially during various blogger chats, what kind of camera they should be using for blogging. It seems to me that lots of people think that you need a DSLR to be a 'proper' blogger but that could honestly not be further from the truth. There are so many different options for any budget when it comes to photography and just because you're not spending £1000 on a massive piece of kit, it doesn't mean that your photos will be any worse than someone who has every photography gadget under the sun. I'm no photography expert, but I'm hoping this post might help you decide what you really need. 



Mobile Phone 
I consciously put 'mobile phone' instead of iPhone because I'm aware that not everyone is an Apple junkie like me but regardless of make, lots of phones nowadays have absolutely brilliant cameras which, if used properly, can turn out some fantastic photos. Gone are the days when all you got from a phone camera was a blurry, grainy photo... some of the biggest bloggers sometimes use their phone for pictures because not only is it more convenient, readers often can't tell the difference between phones and DSLR! Knowing how to use your phone camera to its full potential is half the battle already won so make sure you scout out some tips and tricks kinds of posts on Pinterest, I could honestly spend hours flicking through them; I've learnt so much that I would have never figured out on my own! 

Point and Shoot 
This is where most people start, I've had a couple of different point and shoots in different price ranges, this article tells you exactly what you should be looking for as well as which ones are the best on the market at the moment.  If you're thinking of taking blogging to the next level and breaking into YouTube it would also be a good idea to consider how good the video camera is because you could then use it for vlogging and photography, killing two birds with one stone. If you're a little more on the clumsy side and you need a camera that's going to be a little more robust or you know you're going to be taking photos in rugged outdoorsy situations (or even underwater shots!) then it might be worth you looking at something like a Panasonic Lumix camera*. Depending on which one you go for these can be used to take some absolutely beautiful underwater shots which is something I've always fancied doing myself, it would make for some interesting blog posts! 

DSLR
I was going to include bridge cameras in this post but then I looked at the prices and realised that they can actually be really expensive so I personally would rather just go for a full DSLR. I have a Nikon D3100 which is just under £300 on Amazon but there are obviously other newer models from both Nikon and Canon (the two brands which spring to mind when I think of DSLR cameras). In some ways I wish I'd have hung off and gone for the Canon EOS 700D because although it's a little more expensive at just over £400 it is brilliant for doing videos because it has a pull out screen which swivels round so you can see yourself and it has continuous auto focus which I don't think the Nikon D3100 has.

Having said all that, if you don't know how to use a DSLR then there's no point in getting one really, and it takes a lot of time to understand how they work. I know for a fact I don't use mine to even half of its full potential and I would imagine that I can get equally as good photos on a point and shoot as I can on my DSLR as it stands at the moment. As with iPhone photography, I think online tutorials are definitely your friend and I know that I really need to practise what I preach and get reading!

What do you use to take most of your photos?

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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Primark Haul April 2015

You might have seen me going on about mention that I'm going to Florida at the end of next month which obviously calls for one or two trips to Primark. I don't think you can beat Primark for value; you can get some nice stuff and it's cheap and it doesn't matter if you only wear it once or twice. I especially love it because they always have loads of character stuff in and although I'm not doing Disney this time, I am still doing a day at Universal so obviously I need to get something appropriate to wear that day, right?!



I'm sure you'll agree that those Marvel shorts are absolutely amazing, I'm thinking they'll be great to team with a plain vest top as an alternative to wearing a character t-shirt. The cami tops are an absolute steal at £4 each, considering you'd pay around £12 each for one of those in somewhere like River Island I think Primark is the place to be for essentials like these!

If you fancy a close up of some of the other stuff I got and a bit of narration from me then I've also done a YouTube video showing everything I got over two visits. I definitely need another shop before I go so I'll be keeping an eye out for any Primark posts/videos for some inspiration. I've got some more videos coming up, I'm just finding my feet on YouTube but I'm hoping to be able to set regular posting days so that you can all know when to expect something from me.



Let me know if you've been to Primark lately so I know what to look out for...

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Friday, 17 April 2015

April 2015 'Royally Good' Birchbox in Collaboration with Tatler

For the first time ever, I received a Birchbox this month. A box which I've read so much about over the years since it was released but never taken the plunge and subscribed, probably due to 'bad' experiences with other monthly boxes. Despite my experiences, Birchbox was the only one which had me tempted on a number of occasions, not every month, but there were some months when I seriously considered it but then money was spent elsewhere etc. because let's face it these boxes are a luxury that we don't always need and can't always afford. 

Anyway, fast forward to this month and I was asked if I'd like to receive this months 'Royally Good' Birchbox to celebrate the upcoming birth of the royal baby in collaboration with Tatler magazine. The two different boxes are aptly coloured either blue or pink and those who subscribe get the chance to pick their own Laura Mercier sample from a choice of kohl eye pencil in black violet or full blown supreme mascara. I think the opportunity to choose one of the samples is an absolutely brilliant idea and it ensures that you get at least one thing in your box that you would really like. 





I'll say now that Birchbox has lived up to the expectations I had, I was hoping it was going to impress and I can tell you that it definitely has. The brands and range of products I received are really good; exactly what I expect from a box which promises 'luxe beauty and lifestyle samples'. Unfortunately I didn't get to choose which Laura Mercier sample I got and I have to admit that I wouldn't have gone for the eyeliner if I'd have had the choice because violet really isn't a colour I'd dream of buying but then I have to admit that I do think subscription boxes should push you out of your comfort zone because otherwise, how would you ever try something completely new?! 


I shouldn't have let the colour put me off really, because it's not a Pat Butcher kind of blue (which is what I expected), it's actually really dark purple. It's not a liner you can use on your waterline as it just doesn't apply at all but it is brilliant for applying to the upper lash line; it doesn't drag or pull on the delicate skin. I tend to only apply liner to my waterline but this has forced me to try something different and I'm so glad I did! On the back of trying this, I would recommend Laura Mercier liners in a heart beat.

Korres is a brand I have a little bit of experience of, but only with their lip butters. I was really pleased to have received a travel size shower gel because I always like to have a little stash for weekends away, I was especially pleased that it smelt nice too! Not much else to say about a shower gel is there really but I do like it.

Ah a foaming face wash. I'm always a bit iffy when trying new skincare but I took the plunge with this (all in the name of research, such a difficult job) and with the few times i've used it I'm quite impressed; it's light and doesn't foam excessively, it smells good and removes dirt from your face so what more could you want... well i'd love it if I didn't have to use a separate eye makeup remover but we can't have it all can we? Probably not something I'd buy but nice to try, all the same. 

Love the shade of the Lola Barcelona nail polish, it's a Birchbox exclusive so I don't think you can actually buy the shade 'Gracia' but I really love it as a spring into summer kind of shade. One coat actually gives an opaque coverage which is something I love because if i'm in a rush I don't have to worry about multiple coats. Since trying this I would definitely look at some other Lola Barcelona polishes because they seem like quality products. 

The Inner Me Energise Me supplement tablets were a great addition to the box; something a little different to the usual kind of samples you receive in monthly boxes. There's 4 weeks supply which give you 100% of your daily allowance of lots of different vitamins including: Vitamin D, Vitamin B2, folic acid and vitamin B6. 

I've tried something from Percy Reed before but I can't think what it was but I was really pleased to find the No Oil Oil in my box because I love trying new hair stuff. It's quite an expensive oil at £14 but if something is good I don't mind paying it, I wouldn't usually pick up such an expensive bottle to 'try' so this is why Birchbox is such a good idea because it means you try things that you wouldn't normally.

Overall I am well impressed with Birchbox, it's totally blown Glossybox out of the water in terms of the products and brands they've included and even down to the design of the box itself; I love the little bag within the box. It's £10 per month (plus £2.95 p+p) which I think is a very reasonable price based on this months box. Looking back on previous boxes, none of them would have disappointed me and I can't wait to see what Birchbox brings us in future months!

Are you subscribed to Birchbox?

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Current Haircare - featuring the best hair brush I've ever used!

Having a bad hair day can really set a day off to a really bad start; I know that if my hair won't co-operate in a morning I end up losing my rag and it'll just go up in some sort of crap scraped back look (and I'm cursing the fact that I've probably washed it the night before for no apparent reason because I'm not wearing it down) so I like to use products that are going to minimise the risk of waking up with crap hair. 


Just recently I've got back into using the Schwarzkopf Ultime Omega Repair shampoo and conditioner* (£4.99 each, Boots)and it's actually been working better for me this time than it did last time for some weird reason (probably because I'm being less lazy and making sure I actually rinsed properly every after the minor problems I had last time I used it). Using the shampoo and conditioner leaves my hair so soft and smelling salon fresh which is always nice. I've also been enjoying using the Omega Repair Beauty Balm* from the same range; it's been really nice to use something which helps to tame frizz and keep my hair soft without piling a load of silicone serum on. Although it does still contain some silicone ingredients, it's nowhere near as heavy as some of the serums i've used in the past and I don't worry about overloading my hair with it. In fact, I could use this before and after drying with absolutely no worries at all. 

As much as I've been loving my shampoo/conditioner/balm routine lately, I can't tell you how much I have been absolutely astounded by how good the Wet Brush* is. I'll be totally honest and say that when I was sent it I didn't have very high expectations at all, I think it was to do with the design of the logo. That is so shallow of me I know, but it just looked like one of those JML things that promises to do wonders and s*** cucumbers when in reality it's just a bog standard brush. But oh-em-gee. I can see why this is the number 1 hairbrush in America because it is bloody amazing. You can use it wet or dry and I've found that it works just as well either way; this thing is so good at getting rid of knots and tangles without pulling your hair out of your head. Honestly, if you struggle with knotty hair, you need to put this at the top of your list to buy because it is absolutely incredible. I don't say this about many things but I really do 100% recommend this. It's available from lots of places but it's £8.99 on Fragrance Direct which I think is an amazing price for such a good product. 

What have you been loving for your hair lately? 

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Monday, 13 April 2015

See my face, hear me talk & Myths/Misconceptions about losing weight

After a couple of failed attempts at YouTube I'm finally giving it a proper good go and I can 100% say that I'm absolutely loving making videos. They're not fancy in any way, they're just me being me in front of a camera. I've done two so far; a Primark Haul and I've just done a video about Weightloss Myths and Misconceptions, I'm also in the middle of doing a weekly vlog so you could say I've jumped in with both feet.

I'm really like being able to express myself in a different way and finally having the confidence to sit in front of a camera really feels good. My accent might do your head in a bit because it is quite a broad Yorkshire one but please go and have a look, if it's not your thing then just click off but I'd really love it if you just gave my channel a go!


p.s. This doesn't mean that I'm abandoning my blog, at all. Quite the opposite actually because I have lots of posts planned for this week!

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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Slimming World Chilli Recipe

Chilli is definitely up there on my list of favourite meals because it's easy to make, it can be used in so many different meals and it's easy to batch cook so you have some for the next days meals. When making your own you can also make it to your own tastes which is great because you can make it as hot as you like; I personally just like mine with a bit of a kick but you could easily add more chilli to make it hotter. I made a pan the other day and I had it on top of wedges one day with my healthy extra cheese on top, it tasted so naughty but it was actually totally Syn free! The next meal I made with it is the one pictured below, chilli with new potatoes, salad, 1 tbsp of light salad cream (2 syns) and 45g of grilled light halloumi cheese (HEXA)...


Ingredients: 
1 packet of less than 5% fat mince
1 tin plum tomatoes
250g tomato passata
1 tin kidney beans
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
Mushrooms
Onions 
Beef stock cube
1 tsp lazy chilli (more if you like it hotter!)
1 tsp lazy garlic 

Method:
To be honest, when I make it, I pretty much just chuck it all in a pan and leave it to simmer but there is a bit of an 'order' in which it goes in...

- Brown the mince and onions in a pan
- Add the peppers and mushrooms 
- Pour in the passata and tin of tomatoes
- Add the stock cube, lazy garlic and lazy chilli
- Add the kidney beans (I usually drain half the water but put the other half in the pan with the beans)
- Bring to boil and then simmer for around 30 mins, stirring occasionally and wait for it to thicken up. 
- Once it's at the right consistency, take it off the heat, stir and leave for 5 mins. 

And there you go, a pan of chilli read to do with what you want; a jacket potato topping, with rice, wedges and stuffed peppers are just a few ideas.

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Thursday, 2 April 2015

Finding the perfect bikini when you have big boobs

Holiday preparation has begun so I've started the task which I dread every year - Bikini shopping. Even though I've lost weight I still don't appear to have Having DD+ size boobz I find it quite difficult to get bikinis which are comfortable, supportive and pretty. I'm really particular with the fit of the cup and I really hate pants which are too skimpy. I can't do triangle bikinis or even paired up sets that come in size 8, 10 etc. for 2 reasons: if they come in a set with top and bottom I could never get the right size because I'd need a 16/18 on top for my boobs and then a size 12 for my bum, if they're mix and match I usually find that triangle type tops offer absolutely zilch in the support department. So, that leaves me with the shops which cater for DD+ boobs of which they're aren't actually many! 

Last year I got both my bikinis from Boux Avenue (I posted about one of them here) and they were both comfy and really pretty, I thought. However, since I went on holiday last year I've lost more weight so they're both too big for me now. After trying on loads of different types of bikini tops, I've realised that I much prefer underwiring and a little bit of padding (not loads of padding, no 'boost' needed here, I have enough thank you very much!). I find that the best places are: Boux Avenue; not only because they tick all the boxes in the top department, they also tend to have a choice of different matching bottoms depending on what style you like. Debenhams has a really wide selection of DD+ styles from a range of brands and finally Asda are a great option if you're on a tight budget because they have some nice fitting, pretty styles. The only problem with Asda is they seem to have an issue with stock because every time I find a bikini I like, it's out of stock... it's only just April, Y U NO HAVE STOCK?!

Anyway without further ado, I've put together a small wishlist of styles which I think would be a flattering and comfortable fit on me...



Can you empathise with my problem?! Surely it shouldn't this hard to find a bikini with the correct support without being completely ugly!

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