Wednesday, 30 January 2013

LIFESTYLE | LOLITA LEMPICKA 'THE FIRST FRAGRANCE'

I was going to do this as part of a 'Mini Haul' post but I figured that 2 products really was the minniest of the mini hauls so I decided to split them into 2 separate review posts. The other day I made my first ever order from Fragrance Direct after seeing that there were some Essie nail polish bargains to be had.

I've been lusting after Lolita Lempicka after I smelt it in London at the beginning of December but I just didn't see the point in buying another perfume when I already had more than enough bottles. But then I saw a 30ml EDP bottle for £16.99 on Fragrance Direct and I couldn't pass it up.


Lolita Lempicka 'The First Fragrance' - £16.99, Fragrance Direct

The main thing that draws me to this perfume is the bottle, it's so pretty looking on my dressing table and is quite unique compared to what I've had before. The main thing I love about it is the spray part is so unusual, I thought you'd have to take a lid off to reveal the actual pump but the 'stem' of the apple is actually where you spray the perfume. There is a method in the madness behind the design of the bottle. It symbolises love; a heart pierced with an arrow to symbolise naivety and tenderness and Ivy symbolic of eternal love... Valentines present idea?!!?! 

I didn't realise Lolita Lempicka had been out for so long, but it was actually launched in the 90's about 15 years ago and this was the first fragrance to be launched. Aptly named 'The First Fragrance' the actual scent is different to other perfumes I have in my collection; traditionally I'm a musky kind of girl (Jean Paul Gaultier, D&G The One etc.) but the notes of this are quite different. It isn't totally away from a musky smell but it has notes of licorice, ivy, voilet, tonka bean, cherry, vanilla and praline... the undertone is musk but it's definitely not your traditional musky smell. 

This is definitely one to try even if it doesn't sound like something you'd normally go for, you might surprise yourself. Fragrance direct are actually selling it for less than half the price of what Debenhams are at £16.99 so that's definitely the place to pick it up from if you did decide to buy! I reckon I'll be visiting Fragrance Direct a lot more often from now on!

Have you shopped with Fragrance Direct? What bargains have you found?

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Saturday, 26 January 2013

TRAVEL | FOREST HOLIDAYS SHERWOOD FOREST CABIN BREAK

Basically Forest Holidays are for those of you who don't like the commercialisation of Centre Parcs, don't get me wrong I think Centre Parcs is fab but I know it's not for everyone. Forest Holidays sites are very no-nonsense in my eyes; they literally have the cabins, a forest retreat which is like a little cafe and shop and some organised walks and a few activities. Nothing costs a fortune, if you wanted you could literally take everything with you food wise, never move from your cabin and not spend a penny for the whole holiday.

We chose to go in a 'Golden Oak' cabin which just basically means it's a little more luxury with nice little touches like dressing gowns and slippers. We also got a private hot tub and a log burner, we also paid extra to be able to take our dog with us (£10 per night) and also paid for the optional extra 'entertainment package' which gave us free wifi and loads of films on demand in the cabin, the only major thing it was missing was a DVD player but you could take your own as there are connections for one.







I could literally live here, I'm not even joking it is so home from home it's unreal, with everything you have in your home to stuff you don't like a hot tub, a log burner and under floor heating. Such beautiful surroundings, the perfect getaway! We bought all our food and stuff before we came; treat ourself to some of the nicer bits that Tesco has to offer and of course got a bag full of chocolate and other sweets. I took all my favourite beauty stuff with me because I had full intentions of pampering myself silly while I was there. You can actually pay and hire in a beauty therapist to come into your cabin which I bet would be absolutely lovely but I figured that I can do most of it to myself anyway and I find pampering myself therapeutic in itself.

Everyday we took Jasper for a walk in the forest and it was especially lovely because everywhere was thick with snow! There is also Sherwood Pines just a very short walk from the Forest Holidays site where there are lots of different activities and things to look at; there's a Go Ape! I do believe, where there are zip wires and the like as well as the opportunity to hire bikes. We didn't do any of this we just went on the planned out walks but if you had a family or wanted to be a bit more active then Sherwood Pines would be fab. We'd call at the Forest Retreat on the way back and get some bits like freshly baked bread and paninis and then we'd head back to the cabin and get settled down for the night. The cabin is obviously kitted out with full kitchen facilities so most nights I just cooked our tea but you can actually order a freshly made pizza from the Forest Retreat which we did one night and it got delivered to our cabin (you order it through the TV... how clever is that!?).





 The joys of being a spaniel in the snow! Those snow balls were a pain to get off!




I would recommend a Forest Holiday to anyone, they're perfect for so many reasons. Couples, families, get togethers, hen parties (as long as you don't cause trouble obvs!). They have sites all over the country, from Scotland down to Deerpark so there's sure to be one near you somewhere! Price is also another great selling point; the week we went in January cost around £390 for a 6 bed Golden Oak cabin with the entertainment package & price of the dog to stay, so if you went with another 2 couples it'd cost you less than £150 per couple for 4 nights... I think that's fab!

Next time I really want to try Forest of Dean in Hampshire because it's a part of the country that I've never been to and I just really fancy it... I can't wait already!

Have you ever been on a Forest Holiday?
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Friday, 25 January 2013

BEAUTY | WHY YOU SHOULD BE SHOPPING WITH QVC

Some of you may/may not know that I've been on holiday this week and I expected to be without internet for at least 4 days. Thankfully that didn't happen and I paid extra to have WiFi in the cabin, however before I went away Zoe very kindly agreed to do me a guest post. She has a blog (http://zoe365project.wordpress.com/) she tweets quite a lot (@what_a_twit) and has a penchant for beauty and QVC. Here's what she had to say...


First, a little bit about me:

At 29 years old, I have tested many, many beauty items over the years. Like most girls, I love clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories, but for me, hair and beauty is where my heart lies. Obviously, then, I am willing to spend my money on items that Isee as an investment. There are many ‘budget’ items which I love too, but for me, I would rather spend money on products for my hair and face than on a pair of shoes or a dress that I might wear once or twice. After all, my face has to last me a lifetime!

What are my problem areas?

Apart from my body (Let’s not go there - it’s January - detox anyone?) I have combination skin with an oily T-Zone; this is manageable and I don’t get spots that often, but the clogged pores are something which I have tried (and often failed) to combat. There are many different products out there that claim to reduce the look of enlarged pores, but I have not found many that make much difference on my face. As my face can become greasy, choosing products to provide the right level of moisture while limiting the development of spots, has, in the past been a challenge. I now have a few key items that I cannot live without - trust me, I have found myself with an empty pot on my dresser and find that my complexion becomes dull while my pores become clogged again quickly.

Having shopped around at department stores, online, in beauty boutiques and Spa’s etc, I have found a place where I can get the brands that I love, at a good price. Even better, you can use the items for month and if they make your skin spotty or clog your pores; or if the colour of a particular make up doesn't quite suit your complexion, you can return the item. Ok, there must be a catch... Well, actually, no there isn’t. All you lose out on it the return postage, and i’d rather that than being stuck with something I wish I had never bought gathering dust on the dressing table. I have sent a few items back with ease as they simply didn’t suit my skin type.

So where is this mystical beauty treasure trove? Are you ready for this... it’s TV shopping giant QVC. Was your instant reaction a gasp of breath and a comment about how those TV shopping channels are for old people, or that they only sell rubbish? Well many of my friends have the same misconception. They are the friends that pay £11 a bottle for a new shade of OPI nail varnish, while I get the seasons new collection of 7 bottles that makes each bottle a fraction of the price. They are the people who queue at House of Fraser for a single pot of Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner while I buy two limited edition colours with an eye liner brush as a free bonus item for the same price. I find that you get added value with the products when you purchase them from the QVC website

As someone passionate about all things beauty, I urge you to have a look. What are you waiting for?

So... what do I use?


My first item is the Clarisonic Mia Complete Sonic Facial Cleansing System QVC

Price: £121.00 P&P: £6.95

Bonus items included with QVC:

1 x sensitive brush head with cap (white)
1 x normal brush head (grey)
1 x delicate brush head with cap (blue)
1 x deep pore brush (white with blue interior bristles)
1 x Gentle Hydro Cleanser (30ml) – enriched with aloe and cucumber
1 x white mesh bag

Or, from the Clarisonic website £120 for the device with one brush head and charger. (makes sound financial sense to go with the QVC deal... non?)

You can use this with their cleanser, but that is not essential. I use mine with the cleanser or wash that I use in my morning or evening routine (I use Elemis Pro Radiance Cleanser and Elemis Tri-Enzyme wash which helps to resurfaces the skin. I love using the whole Tri Enzyme system as the results are amazing, but that is for another time and a higher budget. If you want a spa style treatment with the same visible results, look into it).

What are the benefits of the Clarisonic Mia?

  • Removes up to six times more make-up than manual cleansing
  • Helps to reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles
  • Helps to reduce oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes
  • Helps beauty products to be absorbed more easily

I must say, I LOVE the Clarisonic Mia product. Since using it, my skin feels smoother, my pores look visibly reduced and my complexion seems brighter. Plus, it is hassle free as can use it in the shower!

There are 3 other beauty items that I can’t live without that I will mention briefly.


1 - Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream - £49.56 for 30ml from QVC or
£79 from www.timetospa.co.uk who are the official online shopping retailer for
Elemis.

I love this product as it is a light weight gel like formula which isn’t too heavy on my combination skin; it delivers all of the high quality ingredients that my face needs without bringing me out in spots. I love buying it from QVC as Keeley Aydin, who trains therapists for Elemis and has used the brand for over 20 years demonstrates the products and advises what to use and how to use it. She, often alongside Alison Young (QVC’s resident beauty expert), guides the viewers through each product but they aren’t afraid to say ‘Don’t buy this product if your skin is...... it’s not for you. Or, try this product if you’re worried about....’. I like their honesty - it doesn't feel like the hard sell.

I look out for the beauty days that are dedicated to Elemis as they make special collections for QVC called a TSV (Today’s special Value) that literally have hundreds of pounds worth of savings for a period of 24 hours compared to buying the items in a Spa or from their official site.


2 - Elemis Cellular Recovery Bliss Capsules - £62.00 for 60 from www.timetospa.co.uk
or £59.52 from QVC including a 15ml tube of Elemis Oxygenating Night Cream (which is also brilliant - you can use it alongside the Marine cream but it is richer in texture, so it might not be for you).

These are specially measured capsules of oils to add to the skin morning and evening (pink which is a rose blend of essential oil for the morning and a green capsule which is a lavender blend of essential oil for the evening). This is a 30 day course.

Although they are an oil, they do not make my skin greasy or spotty - something that is hard to believe when you have combination skin! They deliver a little boost of anti-oxidants which make my skin feel supple and bright. They seem to balance my T-Zone and nourish the drier areas on my face. Plus, they just smell amazing!


3 - BareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation - £21.00 from QVC or £25 from
www.bareminerals.co.uk

I have tried numerous ‘mineral’ foundations from a range of high street brands and at different prices since choosing to use this as my daily foundation. What I have found, when looking at the ingredient lists and trialling them, is that many seem to be blended with fillers such as talc - this makes feel and look powdery when applied on my skin. Not a good look!

I only use BareMinerals now; my shade is Fairly Light in the winter months or Fairly Medium/Medium in the summer. Although their trade mark application (Swirl, Tap Buff) takes a bit of getting used to, it really ensures that you don’t overuse the product and that you as you buff it onto the skin, you get full coverage. I love the fact that it isn't oil based and that I can do it quickly without even having to look in a mirror - I know the look is flawless. They have a multitude of shades which means you can get one that looks amazing on your skin. They do however, seem to blend to the colour of your skin whether they are lighter or darker which makes them look really natural. No more orange ‘tide marks’ around the jaw line!

There is one tiny downside though - when applying it for work at 6am on a morning, it excites my puppy, who HAS to jump up to see what I’m tapping, plus it drives my boyfriend mad - his catchphrase is now ‘Tappy, Tappy, Tappy’ followed by a loud ‘Tut’. He works nights though, so he can be forgiven for this...just about! What does he know about beauty anyway?

Zoe


Well I thoroughly enjoyed that guest post, who knew that QVC was such a gold mine of beauty bargain opportunity, not sure my bank balance will thank Zoe for this but my collection definitely will!!   



What are your experiences with QVC?
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Thursday, 24 January 2013

BEAUTY | CLARINS LOTUS FACE TREATMENT OIL

Never in a million years did I ever think a facial oil would grace the pages of my blog but since my skincare overhaul in the new year I discovered that you can actually fight oil with oil. When you have oily skin the temptation is to strip it of all the grease and dirt by using high alcohol astringent products; these can in fact work in the opposite way and although they'll leave your face squeaky clean after immediate use, it can actually make the skin produce more oil to compensate for the dryness. And anyway, as Caroline Hirons once said: 'Nothing on your body should squeak. You are not a mouse'. Shes a genius, pure genius I tell you.

Anyhow, the oil in question is the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil. It's made with 100% pure plant extracts  and contains an 'exclusive' blend of rosewood, geranium and lotus extracts. It claims to purify, tighten pores and refine the skins texture.

You apply this after cleansing and toning to skin which is still damp from your toner. You only need 2 drops of this into the palm of your hand, warm it between your hands and then apply to your face with a gentle pressing motion, there's a really good video illustrating how you should do this on the Clarins Website.



Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil - £29.00, Debenhams

I have only used this twice, hence the 'first impressions' style post. This is in no way a full review, how could I possibly know whether it works for me just yet? But what I can tell you are my initial thoughts.

I'll be honest with you, I have actually had this since Christmas but I've only just plucked up the courage to use it and I know it sounds so daft that it took me a month just to try something but putting oil onto my face is against everything that my brain tells me to do. I also had no idea how to use it or when to use it so I figured I best make sense of it before I actually put it onto my face!!

What I'll start by saying is that for me, this product oozes luxury. I've been using it as a treat for my face if it's feeling especially dry and neglected which happens a lot in this sort of weather. My skin is just generally unhappy at the moment, I've been really quite ill with various different minor things (colds, chest infections, sickness bugs etc.) and my skin is reflecting this. 

The Lotus Oil fragrance is the thing that is most noticeable as soon as you open the bottle, it just smells like aromatherapy oils... reminds me of the smell of a spa that I go to near where I live. Total luxury. As I said earlier you literally only need 2 drops for your whole face, the first time I used it I think I used a little too much as it sat on my skin for a good half hour afterwards. However, when I used the proper amount  my skin just drank it up like it should, no need to blot or anything it just left my skin feeling so smooth and hydrated. Because you only need 2 drops of this, this little bottle will last absolutely ages! 

I replaced my usual moisturiser with this, and it's so tempting to use it every night but I'm not sure if it'll be too much... I might alternate between the two, one night do moisturiser, the other night the oil... I'll let you know next month when I've used it long enough to do a proper review.

Do you have experience with facial oils? Have you got any recommendations of how & when to use this?
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Saturday, 5 January 2013

BEAUTY | BOURJOIS MAGIC NAIL POLISH REMOVER

I'm very late to the party with this one, I've been meaning to buy it for long enough but always forgotten when I've been shopping. The idea of this '1 Second' nail polish remover sounds way too good to be true, but what can I say, I'm a beauty blogger and I'm a sucker for a hyped up product and as many of you know, this really is one of the most well known nail polish removers in the blogging industry. 


Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover - £4.99 Superdrug

The packaging is quite good looking I think, I'm all for things looking nice on your dressing table top and this is also really handy for popping in your overnight bag if you're the kind of person who likes to change their nail polish quite a lot. It is really easy and convenient to use, I find normal nail polish remover a real pain at times; having to get numerous cotton pads out and soak them, then you're rubbing your nail to get it all off... and probably worst of all, normal nail polish remover stinks! 

The instructions say that with the Magic Nail Polish Remover you dip your finger into the little hole, twist and pull it out and the scent is supposedly 'berry and vanilla' which has got to be better than the alcohol overload of regular remover?!

Is it Worth the Hype?

In a word, yes but don't expect things to happen in 1 second.

Personally, I never expected this to remove a full nail of polish in 1 second because unless you only applied one coat and it was really thin nail polish I highly doubt that this is even possible. I had some GOSH nail polish on my nails and it had been on for a few days so it was quite chipped already, but I used that and a finger with some Revlon Galaxy glitter polish as my basis for testing this product.

I followed the instructions exactly, I just dipped my index finger in, twisted and pulled it out. The nail polish was still there. So I dipped it back in and twisted a little more, turning my finger while it was in the sponge.. pulled my finger out and it was clean! Not 1 second, but I was still impressed. It does take a bit more time and twisting than the packaging would suggest but definitely quicker than using cotton wool. It took me under 2 minutes to do a 5 nails. But as for the nail with the glitter polish on, that obviously took a bit longer, I don't think this is suitable for taking off 2 full hands of glitter polish but it would be ok if you only had some on your accent nail or maybe even just a thin layer on each nail. 

Another good thing about this is how your nails feel when you've used it, normally when I use remover my nails feel really dry and dehydrated due to the alcohol but this seems to hydrate your nails and they feel oily more than anything else. The oily feeling soon dries but my nails were left feeling really silky and smooth which I loved.

As for the scent, when I first opened the pot I got a bit of a whiff of the usual smell of nail polish remover and thought urgh this is going to make my whole finger smell gross but to my surprise on my fingers it actually smelt ok, quite fruity actually and if you were really in a rush, you could probably get a away with not washing your hands after using this. Obviously I wouldn't recommend that especially if you're going to eat something but for example you could use it on the go without worrying about the smell.

Overall if you are on the go a lot, for example travelling on trains, this would be ideal for you if you like to have a bit of a train down time pamper or if you're like me and you just don't like spending ages removing polish then this is definitely £5 well worth spending because it just takes the hassle out of removing nail polish. It's handy to carry around and it smells nice. The only thing I'm left wondering is how long it's going to last? Where does all the nail polish go? And will the sponge dry up quickly? 


Have you tried Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover? What are your Thoughts?
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