Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain Parisian Passion

Berry and red lips have to be my all time favourite lip colours, I'm confident enough to carry them off now so I'm being much more adventurous with my lip shades. I've had all different kinds of lip products from matte to gloss and stains to paints; stains can be a little more difficult to wear as they have a habit of sinking into dry lips but I was hoping that this 'moisture' stain was going to overcome that problem...

revlon-colorstay-moisture-stain-parisian-passion
revlon-colorstay-moisture-stain-wand

revlon-colorstay-moisture-stain-parisian-passion

As you can see it has a doe foot applicator, which I actually quite like when it comes to gloss products but I found that this made application really difficult. I think stain requires a level of precision and the angled doe foot just made it a bit messy and hard to get an even coverage without blending out (which obviously stained my finger... not ideal).

revlon-colorstay-moisture-stain-parisian-passion-on-lips

As you can see on the first swatch, the product has kind of collected in a line on both my top and bottom lip which could only be sorted out by me blending it out with my finger. The bottom swatch is obviously a much nicer, even colour but I really resented having a stained finger. Parisian Passion is a wearable berry colour and it's about as moisturising as you're going to get a stain but it's not perfect by any means.

tl;dr: Not something I would buy another shade of and I wouldn't rush to recommend it but it will be staying in my stash because I do like the shade.

Holiday to Kolymbia, Rhodes

So I lied a little in my previous blog post title and made out I was going to Jamaica, but this time I actually have been to Rhodes; Not as exotic or as far away as a Caribbean Island but every bit as enjoyable. We went at the end of the season (1st October - 8th October) so it was quieter than normal but most things were still open and the weather was still gorgeous (between 24 and 29 degrees all week!). We stayed in a hotel called Sentido Port Royal Villas and Spa which was in the small, lesser known resort of Kolymbia (also spelt Kolimbia); the hotel was like nothing I've ever seen before. The Magnolia Resort in Kefalonia was lovely but this one was something else.

sentido-port-royal-villas-and-spa

sentido-port-royal-villas-and-spa

It had 2 pools, 3 restaurants and the rooms were arranged in blocks rather than just being one big block of balconies which really set it apart from other hotels. We had a standard pool view room but the view was still amazing (first photo is the view from the balcony) and the room was amazingly spacious with a massive bed, sofa, flatscreen TV and mini bar. 

holiday-picture

View from the back balcony (was a tad windy that evening!)

The only thing about the hotel was that the evening entertainment wasn't great and drinks were very expensive if you weren't all inclusive (we were half board) so we tended to venture out every night or stay in our room and watch films (might sound sad but we don't really get to watch TV and films at home because we work a lot so it's a luxury to just be able to relax in front of the tele). We hired a car for 3 days which was a very reasonable 100 euros and used it to travel to neighbouring resorts. One night we went to a Greek night in at the 'Cannon Bar' in Falaraki; our friends stay there every time they go to Rhodes so we thought we'd pay a visit to see what all the fuss was about...

octopus-on-a-bbq

greek-octopus

greek-dancing

The owner, George, was grilling fresh octopus caught that morning served with garlic bread and there was lots of shouting and singing coming from his direction. As the night progressed (and the carafes of wine were flowing on my table!) the plate smashing and Greek dancing started which was really fun to watch and George really made an effort to try and get everyone involved. I'd highly recommend a visit to the Cannon Bar if you're around Falaraki; it happens every Saturday night at 9pm.

We also took a trip to Rhodes Town in the hire car (the driving there really does leave something to be desired; safety is not on their list of priorities!!!) and we explored the old walled town for a while and also paid a visit to Sephora (what I want to know is why Greece can have a Sephora and we can't?!)

rhodes-old-town-walls

rhodes-old-town

rhodes-old-town-streets

rhodes-old-town-harbour

rhodes-old-town-harbour

Rhodes Town although busy, is a really beautiful place and the old walled town really does take you back in years to how life used to be there with the maze-like streets and old medieval buildings. If I was to go to Rhodes again I'd probably be quite tempted to stay in a Boutique hotel in Rhodes Town... it has the hustle and bustle of the city but with a Greek touch. 

greek-pitta-bread-and-dips

And then of course, the main reason why I love any Greek island... the food! I love pitta breads and taramasalata and tzatziki dips, I could literally eat them until they come out of my ears! 

Planter's Punch Cocktail Recipe

Totally Tropical went to Barbados, the Vengaboys went to Ibiza and I'm going to Jamaica!!

Ok... I'm maybe not lucky enough to actually be going to Jamaica but I've been making some cocktails to get me into the holiday mood! Cocktails are known for being free flowing abroad, especially in the Caribbean and the taste always reminds me of being somewhere just a little warmer than the UK.

Every country seems to have their signature cocktails; Cuba has the Mojito (one of my favourites), in Barbados is the Rum Runner and one of the signature Jamaican cocktails is Planters Punch. Virgin Holidays have created these great cocktail masterclass videos and kindly sent me a cocktail kit, challenging me to make my very own Planters Punch with a few extra treats from the Caribbean Island to try...

planters-punch-cocktail

planters-punch-ingredients

planters-punch

I had a bit of a Jamaican themed night in the pub last Saturday when I got out packets of plantain crisps and unleashed the cocktail shaker. Plantain is a traditional Jamaican snack which is similar to our crisps, it's similar to dried banana but in savoury form; it sounds a lot weirder than it tastes because I can tell you now they're very easy to just keep eating and eating... and it's the closest thing you're going to get to banana without being banana so it's a fruit... right??? Anyway I got on with making the Planters punch and actually made some so everyone could have a try, it was incredibly easy to make and doesn't include loads of expensive ingredients; here's how it's done...

Ingredients: 
25ml Jamaican Overproof Rum
50ml fruit juice (I used orange)
Dash of cane syrup
Squeeze of lemon and lime

- Grab a tall glass and fill it with ice
- Pour the rum and fruit juice in (at the same time if you're feeling adventurous)
- Finish with a dash of cane syrup and a squeeze of lemon and lime
- Garnish with a slice of fruit (orange, pineapple... whatever you have)

So simple yet so tasty (and quite strong so be careful!) and you could use any fruit juice you have laying around in your fridge and I'm sure that regular rum would work just as well (and it wouldn't pack such a punch in the alcohol content department!).

If you fancy getting in the holiday mood then here you can find lots more cocktail recipes.

Wilko Makeup Brushes Review

Good quality affordable brushes seem to be quite few and far between; I can't always afford to splash out on Zoeva brushes and I know that lots of you are in the exact same position as me so today I'm bringing you something which you should be able to go buy without any guilt or real damage to your bank account, I like to call it a 'small change' purchase; one which you could probably buy with the money you find lying around your house/car/old coats and bags...

wilko-makeup-brushes

Wilko isn't a place you'd expect to find some decent beauty tools/products but since the recent launch of Essence and Wilko's very own tool line, things are looking up for the high street chain. It looks like they might have taken a little bit of design inspiration from another high street makeup brand launched by two very popular makeup artist turned Youtubers with the sleek black handle and bronze colour block handle and the quality of the brush is certainly one of the best I've ever seen, especially for the money. 

wilko-makeup-brush

As you can see the brush is very dense, with hues of red running through the black bristles creating a kind of ombre effect. It is so incredibly soft, like so soft I could just sit and stroke it (at the risk of looking a little bit weird). The large surface area means that you get plenty of product on and it makes powder application an absolute doddle; I've only used this with a pressed powder but you could use it with a loose powder and I would imagine the results are just as good. I compared this to the Real Techniques powder brush and I do think the handle is slightly more ergonomic than this one but the bristles on the Wilko brush are much softer.

So what I'm basically trying to say is that you need to get yourself to a Wilko's store or have a look on their website. Even if you don't need a brush, you need to see how soft these are!

La Roche Posay Effaclar Anti-Blemish System for combination spot prone skin

I started using this La Roche Posay Anti-Blemish System at the end of August so I think after 4 weeks I've used it long enough to know how it's working for me. I did a post about it here but just to recap it's a 3 step kit consisting of a foaming gel cleanser, clarifying toner and a corrective serum type product. As you'll all probably know, I've been battling with acne and blemishes since I was 13 and although my skin has cleared up considerably I still get the odd 'attack' and at the time of starting to use this my skin was having a meltdown so it was the perfect time to put something like this to the test...
la-roche-posay-anti-blemish-system
La Roche Posay Effaclar 3 Step Anti-Blemish System £32.50 Boots

Did it help to reduce blemishes?

I'll start by saying that I have been using this through two 'cycles' so therefore I should have technically had two menstrual breakouts on my chin within this time. However, I have actually only had one spot which was anything to shout about which is VERY good for me. The only thing it hasn't helped with is blackheads, they unfortunately remain unchanged and still continue to plague my nose. tsk.

Did it improve the appearance of your skin?

I used to have quite a bit of redness from acne scarring and I think this has improved, I could now get away with a lighter foundation if I wanted to as it doesn't take as much to give an even colour all over my face. The reduction in excess oil was also noticeable without drying my skin out which is a refreshing change because some products which claim to reduce oil will strip your skin within an inch of it's life!

What did you think of the individual products?

Foaming Gel Cleanser: I'm not a fan of foaming cleansers and I have to admit that my opinion hasn't really changed because using this meant that I had to use a separate eye makeup remover (I'm all about the quick and easy cleanse) and although my skin did feel clean when I used this I couldn't help but go back to my old favourite Bee Good Cream Cleanser for my night cleanse. However, I decided to use this just for my morning cleanse as I never need to remove eye makeup in the morning and I think it really contributes massively to the reduction of oil on my face. 

Clarifying Toner: I really, really like this. Toner was always the step I tended to skip in any skincare regime but I forced myself to remember to use this while I was trying out this kit; it's clarifying but not drying and it does do a great job of removing any residual cleanser or grime from your face. Lots of blemish fighting toners on the market are full of alcohol which can strip your face of natural oils which can then make it over produce oil (ain't nobody got time for that!!).

Effaclar Duo +: This has been the main game changer for me, I've been using it as a primer after moisturiser and I really love it. It is absorbed instantly by my skin without leaving it feeling tight, and although it doesn't fill your pores (like some primers do) it does give you a great base for your makeup to stick to.

What were your overall thoughts of the kit?

I think kits like this are all about making them work for you and I would say that if you struggle with blemishes and problem skin then you would find a way to make each of these products work in your favour. Although I don't use the cleanser morning and night as the instructions suggest you should, it works much better for me just as a morning cleanse. At £32.50 for a full skincare system I don't think you can go far wrong with this and you also can't buy the toner separately which for me is a reason to buy this kit in itself! 

If you are struggling with your skin and you're at the end of your tether thinking you've tried everything then I really do recommend La Roche Posay; it's gentle yet effective stuff and it doesn't break the bank.

Have you tried any La Roche Posay products?

Do's and Don'ts of Fake Tanning

As we kiss goodbye to the 'summer' Vita Liberata have launched a brand new collection of fake tan products. NKD SKN is the latest luxe tanning range created with girls on the go in mind. If you don't have time to be waiting for a fake tan to dry and develop then NKD SKN is for you.  

nkd-skn-tanning
dos-and-donts-of-fake-tanning
It's all well and good finding a great new tanning product but if you aren't sure how to fake tan properly then even the best tan isn't going to work for you so here are a few do's and don'ts of fake tanning...

DO... 

Exfoliate! - Although this is arguably the most important step in tanning, I also think it's one of the largely ignored steps! Exfoliation gets rid of the dry, dead skin cells which is often the cause of a patchy tan. In particular, knees and elbows should be paid attention to as these are often where patching occurs. 

Use a tanning mitt to apply - Don't use a regular glove or a sock (!) because the tan will soak through onto your hand and to be honest you might as well have just tanned with your bare hands.

Use circular motions - Another kind of obvious one but this helps to make sure that you don't go all streaky!

Go bottom to top - Make sure you tan your feet and legs first, that way you don't smudge your arms when you're trying to tan your bottom half.

DON'T...

Forget your fingers/hands/feet/toes - I'm guilty of forgetting to tan my fingers and hands, the tell tale tide line around your hand is one of the most common tanning mishaps. However, use sparingly and wipe your hands/feet with a slightly damp cloth following application.

Use moisturiser right before - using fragranced products like moisturiser can interfere with the DHA which is what helps your tan to develop. Make sure you moisturise once your tan has developed but don't mix the two!

Tan straight after shaving/waxing - I think hair removal is best done 24 hours before tanning as if you tan straight after waxing you'll probably end up with little brown dots where the tan has sunk into where the hair was... not a good look!

About Vita Liberata NKD SKN...

There are 3 different types of NKD SKN tan in 2 different shades; medium and dark. I've tried the Mousse version but they also do an instant wash off tan and a liquid developing tan. Even without the 45% discount the products are very affordable at just £8.50 for the Instant Wash Off Tan, the Tinted Liquid is only £10.00 and the Mousse formula is just £14.95. 

You see instant results when you first apply this so you can see exactly where you've been with the tanning mitt, it doesn't streak or patch and it dries instantly so you don't have to wait 10-15 minutes to put your clothes on which is great if you always leave tanning until the last minute. It also doesn't have that tell tale biscuit smell; it has a very slight smell but nothing offensive and nothing which would be noticeable to anyone else (literally your nose has to be on your skin to smell anything at all and usually my husband moans when I get in bed smelling like a biscuit but he never said a word). I'm quite fair skinned so medium is dark enough for me but if you're more olive skinned or you want a deeper bronzed look then I'd suggest going for dark. 

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipsticks - My Thoughts

This probably won't be the first, or the last time you see Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvets featured on a blog; bloggers have gone pretty mental for them so I thought I'd also give my opinion on them. They come in 8 different shades and the formula is a highly pigmented, matte liquid lipstick. They kind of remind me of a Limecrime Velvetine but the formula is actually nicer and they're more forgiving when applying as they don't stain your skin.

bourjois-rouge-edition-velvet

rouge-edition-velvet

bourjois-rouge-edition-velvet-swatches

bourjois-rouge-edition-velvet-hot-pepper

bourjois-rouge-edition-velvet-nudeist

The two colours I chose are 'Hot Pepper' (perfect bright, orange toned red) and 'Nude-ist' (a slight rose toned nude). As you will see, Hot Pepper does look quite daunting and it wouldn't normally be a colour I'd go for but surprisingly I do actually think it suits me and there aren't many reds out there that do! Nude-ist isn't what I'd call a traditional nude shade because it's so wearable, I think the word 'nude' conjures up this image in our heads that it's going to be a wash-out, concealer type shade but this is so different. If you're looking for a winter shade but you don't think you can quite pull off a dark shade of plum then this would be a great starting point. Admittedly, they both look better with a liner; I've been using Rimmel 1000 Kisses liner in 'Spice' for the nude shade but I have yet to find a good match for the orangey red.

It's fairly easy to apply and it's buildable so you can layer it up for an extra bold look or you can just do a thin coat if you just want a wash of colour; I personally like to layer it up with 2-3 coats. The matte formula is quite a weird one to get used to especially if you're not used to matte lip products. It applies like liquid but dries completely matte with very little smudging or transferring and it can feel a little dry. I actually found that the nude one was a little more drying than the red but that could be partly due to the liner. I'm often tempted to soften things up a little with a balm but it would probably ruin the whole look, I guess with any matte lip product there is going to be a level of dryness because of course matte is a 'dry' look whereas obviously a gloss is a wet look... am I making sense?

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I really enjoy wearing both of these shades and I can deal with a bit of a dry feeling because I love the shades so much and I think they wear really nicely, you don't have to constantly reapply and they don't sink into the cracks of your lips or anything like that. I'm actually eyeing up one more shade which is 'Grand Cru', it looks like a really nice deep plum shade which is perfect for autumn/winter.

Are ghd Hair Tools Worth the Splurge?

Ghd straighteners have been a part of my life for a good 7 years, I'm onto my second pair (because someone stood on my first pair, that was not a good day) and they've been going strong for 4 years so far. Everything about them just screams quality to me. They might be fairly slim in design but they are solid; after 4 years of straightening they aren't showing any signs of wear other than the ghd logo has rubbed off a little bit and they just don't look as pristine as they did. The coating on the actual plates is still in good condition and they still run smoothly down my hair. The salon length cord is also another aspect of them which I love; it makes it so easy to use them even if your mirror is a way from the plug socket. The ones I have are an older version of the IV Styler which are actually the cheapest of the designs at £89.00 but if you want to have a go with GHD straighteners these would be the place to start. They're the ones which you'll find in most salons and that speaks volumes to me!

ghd-hair-tools

After having a ghd Air hairdryer on my wish list for long enough I finally decided to buy one last Christmas. I had heard lots of people say how they were far superior to any other hairdryer they've used. The 2100w motor makes it a powerful drying tool and definitely makes a difference when you've got long/thick hair which usually takes ages to dry; using this has probably halved the time it takes me to dry my hair. I wouldn't say that it helps to stop it going frizzy because I don't think it does but like the straighteners, the overall design is sleek, sturdy and obviously good quality. Possibly a little on the pricey side at £89 and I daresay you could get an equally as powerful hairdryer for a fraction of the price but I'd be questioning how long it would last. 

Now onto the paddle brush. Before I continue I know that £20 is a lot for a hairbrush but you would not believe the amount of brushes I've been through because lots of them just do not stand heat styling or detangling the knots in my hair. For me, the ghd paddle brush is every bit worth the £20 I paid for it. None of the bristles have fallen out or misshapen under the heat and not one bit of the design has come at all loose. The plastic handle is totally solid whereas some cheaper ones just feel hollow and although it's solid it's not heavy or uncomfortable to hold. If you have thick, long or unruly hair then I highly recommend the paddle brush, it makes brushing so much more pleasurable. 

In answer to my initial question, yes ghd tools as a whole are worth the splurge if you can afford them. In my opinion, the straighteners especially, are far superior to any others I've used. When the sad day comes that I have to replace them I would be tempted to go for the new Eclipse styler which is more expensive but it looks amazing. The fact that I've spent a small fortune of my own money on these products is testament to how wonderful I think they are.

Moroccanoil Hair Treatments Review

I've gone on and on about products which claim to perform miracles but fail to deliver results; i'm a firm believer that split ends cannot be repaired as the hair is already broken; unless you glue it together it ain't going back! A couple of years ago I tried Moroccanoil Light and aside from the price tag, really liked it. In a moment of late night/early morning madness I made a bit of an impulse purchase from Feel Unique because I was feeling at the end of my tether with the dry ends of my hair.

moroccanoil-hair-treatments

I've gone on and on about products which claim to perform miracles but fail to deliver results; i'm a firm believer that split ends cannot be repaired as the hair is already broken; unless you glue it together it ain't going back... but you can help to improve the appearance of your damaged locks! Moroccanoil has an amazing reputation for being really effective on damaged hair making it smooth, soft, shiny and manageable. 

The two products I chose are to repair and hydrate my hair. The Intense Hydrating Mask is meant to be used a couple of times a week as a conditioning treatment which you apply to towel dried hair and leave to work for between 5 and 7 minutes. I chose not to go for the 'light' option because the ends of my hair are pretty bad, I just make sure I only apply this to the bottom half of my hair and I rinse thoroughly. It smells lovely and doesn't weigh heavy on my hair at all, it's just left feeling silky smooth. 

I use the Moroccanoil Treatment on the ends of my hair just before drying and also after drying to smooth things out further. Even though I got the light version last time, I think I actually prefer this original formula. Even though it is heavier and I wouldn't recommend it for fine hair, it is perfect for my thick hair. It smells gorgeous and does a far better job than any serum I've used; serums don't penetrate beyond the surface of the hair whereas this oil really feels like it's a deep treatment. 

I got the mini versions of both of these products because I didn't want to splurge on the full size, which would have cost £56.60, instead I only paid £21.10. Obviously it's better value for money if you know you love them and you're definitely going to use them religiously but if you're just looking to try some Moroccanoil products (or you simply can't afford the full size) then these versions are perfect!

Why You Should Splurge on a Designer Bag

There are some things in life that we buy when we don't really need them but we convince ourselves that having said item will make us happy - it's just the materialistic beast inside creeping out. A Michael Kors bag has been on my wish list for a long time and after a long summer I decided now was the time to treat myself for all the hours I'd put in at work (we all make excuses for these purchases, don't we?!). 

michael-kors-jet-set-double-zip-tote-bag

michael-kors-double-zip-bag

michael-kors-zip
Michael Kors Jet Set Double Zip Tote Bag £310.00 House of Fraser

I went into House of Fraser in Meadowhall with a structured bag in mind and an eye for something which I could fit everything I needed in. When I saw this Jet Set Double Zip Tote Bag I fell in love with it straight away. The Saffiano leather, gold hardware and 3 compartments made it perfect for what I was looking for. I did consider the bucket style bags with just one compartment but I think the zips really add style to this bag and make it something a little bit special. 

Of course, a bag like this isn't something I can afford to buy every month or even every year but I'm hoping that this will be on my shoulder for a good number of years because it's a classic, timeless design.

How to Lose Weight and Still Enjoy Food

It's been just over a year since I started Slimming World, after 5 years of doing different kinds of diets and eating plans (Weight Watchers, Herbalife etc.) I finally 'got my head on'. Anyone who has lost weight and kept it off will know what I mean when I say I got my head on; something clicked in my brain and said 'right now you need to lose weight'. I've lost 5 stone so far and although I'm not done yet, losing that amount of weight has made a massive difference to my life and I wanted to share a bit about me and my weight loss. It's going to be a bit of a wordy one so grab a drink and relax...

how-to-lose-weight

What's different this time to all the other times? 
I actually properly wanted to lose weight and I wasn't looking for a quick fix, I was prepared to see it come off over a period of time. I was ready for change whereas I wasn't before. Anyone who has lost weight and kept it off will know what I mean when I say I got my head on; something clicked in my brain and said 'right now you need to lose weight'. Changing your eating habits is like giving up an addiction and learning to live controlling your intake of unhealthy food, unless your mindset is right you simply will not do it; you might start off with good intentions and probably lose a bit but it won't be a long term thing. This time I knew it was long term.

What made you lose weight?
Of course, I lost weight for myself. I knew I was built to be solid but my weight had got out of control and it was starting to affect my life; my job involves spending a lot of time on my feet and it was becoming very uncomfy to stand for long periods of time - my feet would hurt, my knees hurt and my ankles sometimes felt like they could give way at any time. My skin was really bad (I've always had spots but they were particularly bad) and I couldn't wear the clothes I wanted to wear.

There were also some incidents which triggered that 'click' in my head and whilst I'm not going to go into detail about exactly what happened, two incidents will always stick in my mind: firstly, being behind a bar is quite difficult when your confidence levels are low and when I had some very pretty, slim barmaids standing next to me it made me feel extra fat and ugly. There was one time when the girls I was working with had gone home and there was what can only be described as a drunken a***hole stood at the bar with his mate, he looked at me and said 'urgh god we're not left with her are we'. That crushed me. Like, really made me feel horrific. All I wanted to say was 'well you can always f*** off home!!!!' but I couldn't, I just stood there, gulped and vowed that nobody would ever say anything like that about me again. 

The second incident involved someone putting a status on Facebook about me 'never having my head out of the fridge'. This didn't upset me as such because I would imagine most people would think 'what a cruel thing to say' but it did spur me on even more to make changes in my life to make sure that nobody could do that to me again.

How long did it take before you saw results?
I would say around the two stone mark I started to be able to tell (which sounds like a lot of weight to lose but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't even halfway there), my clothes became loser and I had to start buying new bits here and there. I think this was the point where other people started to notice too. 

What's the best thing about losing weight?
I can't pick a singular 'thing' so...
- Being able to wear clothes from any shops. Once you get to a size 14 the boundaries of which shops you can shop in are suddenly opened and they welcome you with open arms (This, in my opinion, is all kinds of wrong, but that's a different post altogether). 
- The massive boost in confidence due to the compliments from other people and also feeling more comfortable in my own skin. 
- My body doesn't hurt, I can stand on my feet for 16 hours and other than a bit of hot foot-burny foot I don't really feel it.
- Being able to stick the middle finger up (in my head) to anyone and everyone who has ever said anything about my weight, whether it's too my face or not.

Why did you choose Slimming World?
My mum has done Slimming World for years so I've just kind of grown up with it so I've always known the basics of the plan and I know it works! Of course, I couldn't do this post without a cheeky plug of my weightloss blog, I posted about why you should choose Slimming World when I first started it up and it explains the basics of it and the benefits of doing it over any other eating plan so if you're interested go and have a read. 

Any tips for losing weight?
- Make sure you want to do it for you before you start, I know that there were triggers for me which weren't technically from 'me', the root reason why I started Slimming World was for myself, I felt that losing weight would make my life better. I know society is so-anti fat in a lot of ways, don't let that push you into dieting because you'll never stick it out and you'll make yourself very unhappy. 

- Do a sensible eating plan and do not tell yourself that you're going on a diet because as soon as you mention the d-word you'll psych yourself out of it. You'll feel deprived and that really isn't a good foot to start on plans like Slimming World & Weight Watchers help you to lose weight safely, healthily and without leaving you feeling deprived. 

- Don't think you're going to get to your target weight overnight; the average amount of weight you should lose each week is 1.5lb, this is healthy and sustainable but obviously isn't going to get you overnight results. But I can tell you that if you lose weight at 1.5lb per week you're much more likely to keep it off than if you did a 10 day crash diet and a stone in that time.

- Keep things fresh: don't eat the same thing over and over again (unless you REALLY enjoy it) because it will quickly get boring and you'll want to resort to your old favourites (which are very often the wrong choices). Try looking on Pinterest or other weightless blogs and you'll find some lovely recipes which are usually a healthy version of a traditional recipe but they're often just as good if not better!

I'm so determined to keep this weight off, my life has completely changed in so many positive ways (the only negative is my bank balance!). I'm not saying that everyone should lose weight, this post was for anyone who was considering losing weight but needed some motivation. If you're reading this and you're struggling with your weight just keep in mind that one day you will have cracked it and you'll know when it happens! Once I hit target I'm going to do a before and after post but at the moment I'm still not where I want to be so I'll just keep plodding along...

3 Easy Ways to Stop Bloating

There are lots of products out there that claim to help stop bloating (water retention tablets and the like) but I believe that you can beat the bloat and spend very little money. Your weight will obviously fluctuate to a degree depending on what you eat but if you're finding that you feel sluggish and bloated then these 3 simple steps might help you...

floral-tea-cup

Drink lots of water: Might sound daft but not drinking enough water can actually cause you to retain water. I try and aim for 3 pints per day but upping your water intake even a little will help to keep water retention and bloating to a minimum. Of course it will make you need the toilet more often which isn't ideal in some situations but trust me, it'll be doing your body the world of good.
Try herbal tea: Before I started Slimming World if I wanted a hot drink I would stick to coffee and tea but since I started losing weight I have discovered that some herbal teas can be quite enjoyable. I particularly like peppermint tea for after I've eaten a big meal, it really helps to settle my stomach and it's great for a relaxing bedtime drink. Green tea and Oolong tea are also known for helping to speed up your metabolism, making you feel less bloated and sluggish; I try to have at least one cup of green tea/oolong tea every day. Don't get me wrong if you're used to milk in your cup of English tea then it might take a while to get your taste buds round herbal teas but stick with it and you might be surprised.
Cut out white foods: They say that God made very little 'white', white bread, pasta and rice is said to be very artificial and their wholemeal counterparts are supposed to be easier for your body to digest. Don't get me wrong I love crusty bread with loads of butter but it must be a good 6 months since I've indulged in any! Lots of people complain at the bloated feeling they get when they've eaten white bread and I think the same could also apply to pasta and rice. I actually think wholemeal/brown products have a lot more taste and really add to the flavour of your meal whereas white pasta/rice can be stodgy and a bit bland. 

Affordable Skincare in Supermarkets

Having a one-stop-shop for all your needs in life is pretty convenient, if you've ever been to Walmart in America you'll know the true meaning of 'everything under one roof' because that place is unreal. We don't have that pleasure in England just yet but our supermarkets have been stocking much more than just fruit and veg for some time now. Until recently, the range of beauty products available has been pretty limited to the 'big name brands' but as of 29th August Waitrose have started stocking one of my favourite skincare brands...

bee-good-skincare-products

I don't need to go on about how much I love Bee Good products but the fact that they're made in Britain with ingredients from British Bees is enough to get my attention in the first place. Their Honey & Propolis 2 in 1 Cream Cleanser is a product that I've repurchased from their website because I love it so much but knowing that I can get it in an actual store makes picking up a tube just that little bit easier. 
Being stocked in a supermarket is obviously great for Bee Good as a brand because I would imagine that unless you read blogs you might not know about it (I know if I hadn't been blogging I might not have ever discovered Bee Good!). And what is more convenient than being able to grab some great skincare products along with your milk and eggs?!

Origins Clear Improvement Mask Review

Origins has been a brand I’ve been wanting to try for a long time but i’ve just never made that final push to commit to anything full size. My skin is pretty sensitive and I try and stick to what I know when it comes to skincare just in case it breaks me out so to be buying full sized skincare products willy-nilly would be a bit daft because I could guarantee that at least 50% of them probably wouldn’t agree with my skin. 

Origins face masks have always intrigued me; I’ve seen lots of rave reviews about Drink Up Intensive and Clear Improvement but I’ve never made the £23 commitment to a full size tube. So when I realised that they actually do a travel sized set of Clear Improvement masks I had to get a pack!

origins-clear-improvement-mask

origins-clear-improvement-mask
Origins Clear Improvement Mask to Go £8.00 Origins

Origins Clear Improvement is formulated with active charcoal to help draw out the dirt clogging your pores, to reveal a brighter complexion. Inside the box there are 4 little one use pods of Clear Improvement mask which makes them perfect for popping in your travel bag or for just trying them. The fact that they’re in pods rather than sachets makes them SO much easier to apply, I really dislike how sachets are so messy… when your hands are wet and you’re trying to open them… they’re just not great! 

Anyway, how does this work? 

Well I think the important thing with any product is to go in with an open mind and not to expect miracles; that way you won't get disappointed as easily. When I first applied this I was having problems with my skin, I'd used something which had made it go a little crazy in the spot department and I had lots of blemishes around my chin and mouth area (not attractive). I've now used this twice and I do feel like it's made a difference to my skin; it hasn't performed miracles and my spots didn't just disappear as soon as I washed the mask off but it has definitely helped to calm my skin. I don't have anywhere near as much angry redness going on, the spots have dried out and I don't have any active blemishes anymore
Overall I'd say that this is great if your skin is feeling red, angry and distressed, having said that, I still don't think I'd buy a full sized tube of it but I would definitely recommend the travel pods if you've been wanting to try it. I really want to try the Origins Out of Trouble mask but unfortunately they don't do the little travel pods in that one.

Luxury Bath and Body - Aromatherapy Associates Bath Oils

Having a bath is my favourite way to relax after a stressful/tiring day and there's some bath times when plain old bubble bath won't cut it in terms of relaxation; that's when I turn to bath oils. Although you don't get the bubble factor, you get the most amazing smell which fills the room with essential oils and really helps to destress your mind and relax your muscles. My go to brand for bath oils is Aromatherapy Associates; I already have a full sized bottle of De-Stress Mind Bath and Shower Oil which I absolutely love but if you are looking to try Aromatherapy Associates or you'd like something to use when travelling then this little set is definitely for you...
aromatherapy-associate-minatures

aromatherapy-associates-minatures
Aromatherapy Associates 10 Oil Miniature Bath & Shower Oil Collection* £35.00 
This set has all you need to dip your toes into the world of bath/shower oils and Aromatherapy Associates; with 10 different fragrances to choose from there must be something for every bath 'occasion' whether your legs are aching from a day on your feet or you need something to clear your head after a long day at work these little vials hold the key to your relaxation.
Each 3ml bottle is enough for one bath or shower; to use in a bath you run hot water into the tub and pour the whole thing in when your bath is full and for the shower you apply the full bottle to your body before getting into the shower so you can breathe in all the aromatherapy goodness as you wash. I personally prefer to use most of these in the bath because I find I relax more but the Revive Morning one is perfect for the shower because it's a really invigorating fragrance. 
If you're looking for some products to give you an excuse for some me time then this is perfect, it would also be an ideal gift for anyone who loves a good bath but is bored with plain old bubbles. Buying a full sized bottle of something without trying all the options available to you is quite a commitment so this would definitely help you work out which is your favourite! 

No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation Review

There's not many products that I've repurchased more than once so when I'm on my 4th bottle of something I know that it's definitely love. Until I met this little guy I was a bit of a foundation snob; I didn't think that any high street offering could work for me but Boots No.7 have proved me wrong with their Beautifully Matte foundation...
no7-beautifully-matte
No.7 Beautifully Matte Foundation (warm ivory) £13.50
Most of you will know by now that I have combination skin which means I have an oily t-zone and dry outer cheeks so finding a foundation which doesn't slide off the oily bits or cake on the dry bits is quite difficult. No.7 Beautifully Matte has a really soft texture which is really easy to blend and provides a full coverage which is perfect for the days when my skin isn't co-operating. It doesn't cake and it stays on for a good 5-6 hours which means I get a good days work out of it without having to reapply. 
This is one of those products that I feel lost without if I run out; obviously I have back up products but they just don't seem to match up to this. It comes in 14 shades which I think is quite impressive for a high street foundation, I buy 'warm ivory' which is ever so slightly darker than my natural skin but not dark enough to look orange. The beauty about No.7 is that in some larger Boots stores they do have someone on hand who can help you match a shade to your skin so you don't have to spend hours umm-ing and ahh-ing over hand swatches. 
OK so it's probably a bit on the pricey side for a high street foundation but Revlon Colorstay is a similar price and that's still regarded as high street. Price aside, I do think this is one of the best high street foundations for oily skin and I will repurchase it until the cows come home!

What's your favourite high street foundation?

Maybelline Forever Strong Lunar Grey

I've had a busy weekend at work this weekend with a wedding on Saturday so I realised that orange nail polish probably wasn't the most appropriate shade when I was dressing smart so I picked out another shade of Maybelline Forever Strong in 'Lunar Grey'...
maybelline-forever-strong-lunar-grey
Maybelline Forever Strong 99p Fragrance Direct
When I bought it on the website I actually didn't realise that it had shimmer in it and to be honest when I first looked at the bottle I thought 'oh dear it's sparkly silver' but I was pleasantly surprised when I actually applied it; it's like a muted, conservative silver shade. It made my nails look tidy and presentable for work without being in your face and out of place.
The formula is exactly like the 'Orange Couture' shade I used the other day; it's fine and for 99p and I'm not about to complain too much but what I forgot to say in the other post was that it takes an age to dry, when you think it's done you'll get a smudge so I think the only way to keep this looking perfect is to top coat it straight away with something which you know dries quickly. Also it doesn't last 7 days... I get 3 at the most and on my index finger I didn't even get that but like I've said before I can look beyond that, especially when I like the shade.
Do you have a favourite shade of Maybelline polish?

La Roche Posay Anti-Blemish Skincare System

If you're into skincare then you'll be no stranger to French Pharmacy brand 'La Roche Posay'. Now quite widely available on the UK high street, La Roche Posay are famous for their Effaclar Duo which has been a skincare favourite among bloggers for a while now but when it comes to cleansing and toning, LRP have been somewhat forgotten about until now...

anti-blemish-skincare-system

la-roche-posay-anti-blemish-skincare
 La Roche Posay Effaclar 3 Step Anti-Blemish System* £32.50

With the release of the new Effaclar Skincare Sysem, La Roche Posay are offering those with sensitive, oily and blemish prone skin an answer to their problems. Tell tale signs of problem skin include blemishes, clogged/enlarged pores, excess oil, uneven/rough skin and red/brown marks are all targeted with this new skincare system. These three steps have been selected and formulated to 'dramatically improve skin' within 4 weeks or you get your money back.

Obviously they wouldn't make a bold claim like that without researching first; a 3 month trial saw 100 female participants assess the kit both by their own evaluation and also through clinical evaluation. 88% said it provided an immediate mattifying effect, 82% said it was well tolerated by their skin and 80% said it provided an immediate hydrating effect... 

.... Of course you'll know by now that I like to put these claims to the test so for 4 weeks I will be using this as my skincare regime morning and night to see what difference it makes to my skin. I have high hopes for it as I know Effaclar Duo + does work so I'm thinking that adding an Effaclar cleanser and toner will work well. My skin has gone a bit loop-the-loop just recently (being tired and run down hasn't helped!) so this release has actually come at quite a good time.

This officially launches in stores on 3rd September but it's actually available online now on the Boots website

Maybelline Forever Strong Orange Couture

It's been a while since I posted about nail polish so when I bought a few nail polishes from Fragrance Direct I figured it'd be rude not to share my thoughts. I absolutely love Fragrance Direct for nail polish, they seem to get some real gems in at a fraction of the price of what you'd find in stores. It's usually because the brand have changed the packaging or discontinued a line but there's absolutely nothing wrong with the product itself. The first one I'm sharing with you is Maybelline Forever Strong in 'Orange Couture'...
maybelline-forever-strong-orange-couture
Maybelline Forever Strong 'Orange Couture' 

I would never normally consider wearing orange on my nails, I'd always considered it to be a bit too 'garish'; you know, the kind you'd wear when you were like 12 and think you were the bees knees? But this is such a gorgeous shade, bright and summery but also quite grown up. 

It did need 3/4 coats to give a proper opaque covering but I'm assuming they've done something to the new formula to rectify this? The brush is perfect, nice and wide but small enough for precision application (which is important when you don't have really long nails) and it's got quite a nice shiny finish. 

This older-packaging version is only 99p from Fragrance Direct which is an absolute steal, I highly recommend stocking up on polishes of every shade from there because you could save yourself a fortune.

What to buy from Makeup Revolution

Slightly late to the party with this post because I know how everyone has been going a bit crazy for Makeup Revolution products, but for those few who haven't heard of them: Makeup Revolution is a budget brand available online and larger Superdrug stores. They have a massive range of products from hundreds of lipstick and eyeshadow shades to skincare products... I haven't tried a quarter of what they offer but here's what I think of what I have tried...

makeup-revolution-products

I'm a massive fan of their eyeshadows, both in palettes and in single 'mono' shadows. The shades in the ones pictured are my idea of perfection; the Ultimate Shimmers palette* is only £4 and has a range of nude and brown shimmers all of which are nicely pigmented and apply with very limited fallout. The single shadows* which I've picked out are in shades 'Base!' and 'Promised Land', they're only £1 each and they come in 45 different shades! Again, they're nicely pigmented and as a duo they work really well to create a neutral eye look. Of course the packaging isn't fancy but it is simple and functional it just lifts up and clips down... what more could you want?

Now onto lip products... the Salvation Intense Lacquer* is amazingly pigmented with a high gloss finish but without the usual stickiness of some lip glosses; I have it in 'A Love Like This' which is a gorgeous classic red shade. They also do a similar lacquer but in a matte finish; I can only assume this is like the Lime Crime Velvetine but at £3 it's obviously a fraction of the price! The Amazing Care Lipstick* is a great product and I can't actually believe it's from a budget brand; the core colour is encased by an argan oil outer so while you're adding a splash of colour you're also comforting your lips with the argan oil. It's not a lipstick that lasts forever on your lips but it's so easy to apply and feels so nice I can live with that; unfortunately they're out of stock on the Makeup Revolution Website at the moment but I'm really hoping they restock soon!

makeup-revolution-blush-lacquer

Of course with every brand there are products which aren't as good as others (you can't please everyone with everything, can you?!); the Vivid Blush Lacquer* and The One Foundation* just aren't for me. I don't get on very well with liquid blush products so it came as no surprise when I didn't like the Blush Lacquer; don't get me wrong it's very pigmented and a tiny bit goes a long way but it just slides off my oily skin within less than an hour so it's a bit pointless applying it really. There's not many products that I can't find something good to say about but unfortunately I think The One Foundation takes the crown for the worst high street foundation I've ever tried. It's watery and has a really strange consistency; it says on the bottle that it's for 'everyone' and that it's 'full coverage' and has a 'matte finish'... it isn't any of these, in fact I'd say it's the complete opposite!

Overall though, you could quite easily build a sizeable makeup collection for under £20 with Makeup Revolution; I could spend hours on their website just browsing through everything they have. Yet another brand to dispel the notion that budget means bad quality!

How to Wear a Denim Dress

I genuinely thought I could never make a denim dress work, denim dresses were always something I saw on other people which looked fabulous but I could never see myself in one. I also didn't realise how versatile one could be, it's actually the perfect kind of dress to take you from summer to autumn. Some dresses only work with or without tights and only with a certain type of shoe but this actually works to create a summery look and more of an autumn outfit...

denim-dress-back
denim-dress-size-14

Because it's still August I've styled it really simply with a waist belt and a pair of brown sandals but this would easily work with tights and boots, I'm so looking forward to wearing this in Autumn as well as right now. Can you imagine how nice this will look with a pair of thick black tights, flat boots and a scarf?

This particular denim dress is from Joules* which isn't a brand I would normally consider simply because I associate their clothes with being specifically for country folk and equestrian supplies but I couldn't be more wrong! They have some really lovely pieces and you can tell that they use high quality materials, I reckon this dress is going to be a part of my wardrobe for many years to come!

Denim Dress: Joules £49.95*
Tan Sandals: New Look £7.99
Waist Belt: New Look £1 (in store)