Essie Topless and Barefoot Swatch

I bought this some time ago, but I've just rediscovered it after going through all my nail polishes the other day. Essie Topless and Barefoot is actually from the 2011 spring collection and it's a really pretty, nude pink opaque nail polish; perfect for every day wear for work/school/days out. It's been quite a while since I actually painted my nails, simply because I haven't had the time or inclination but I'm really enjoying wearing this nude nail colour because it's totally understated but makes plain nails look that bit nicer. 

Essie Topless & Barefoot £10.95 Look Fantastic

My nails are a little bit on the short side at the moment (mainly due to being stressed, resulting in biting and picking at them!) but I think Essie Topless and Barefoot looks really nice; I applied two coats of it and as you can see it's completely opaque. The brush is regular size; I actually prefer wider brushes because they're much easier to work with but I'll overlook this minor detail because I like the shade so much :)

Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Bath and Shower Oil Review

Around this time last year I went to Professional Beauty in London and came away with a set of mini Aromatherapy Associates bath oils I tried each and everyone one of them and that's where my obsession with bath oils began. An email arrived in my inbox the other day to tell me that Aromatherapy Associates had a sale going on on their website; I've been quite good this year and resisted most sale stuff but I couldn't pass this up. I've been waiting and waiting to be able to buy a full size bottle of one of their bath oils so this was the perfect opportunity. 


Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oil De-Stress Mind 

This is the only full size bath/shower oil available in the sale but luckily it was one of the ones I would have chosen anyway out of the ones I tried in the minis set. Just recently it's been a really stressful time in my job with end of year self assessments among other things so an oil that claims to de-stress your mind is perfect for me. De-stress mind helps to focus the mind and ease emotional stress and confusion by adding one cap full to your bath or smoothing it over your body in the shower; I've never used it in the shower, I always use it in baths because I find it much more relaxing. 

The prominent scent is frankincense but this is toned down slightly by notes of camomile, it is a strong fragrance but I think this is key to it being so relaxing, this poured into a hot bath with the lights turned off and a candle burning is the one of the most enveloping experience you could have at home. 

I really, really enjoy using this bath oil especially when I've had a really stressful day, it helps me relax and aids in a more peaceful sleep. 1 full size bottle will give you 20 gorgeously relaxing baths/showers which works out at just under £2 per bath (if you're working on full price); this is cheaper than most products you find in lush so although it sounds expensive at £40 a bottle I don't think it's too bad and I've definitely got a bargain at less than £20!


When you get to the checkout on the Aromatherapy Associates website you get the choice of three samples, I chose a small version of de-stress mind, support equilibrium and support breathe. These are the same size that you get in the minis set and they're a great way to get customers hooked on Aromatherapy Associates products. Support equilibrium is supposed to aid in balancing your emotions and uplifting your mood, I really like the smell of this; it's actually similar to turkish delight as daft as that sounds which is probably to do with the rose element of this. Support breathe is for when you're feeling a bit bunged up if you have a cold, I got this one in the minis set and used it when i was feeling rubbish and it was really gorgeous, the eucalyptus and peppermint really helps to clear your airways and make you feel a bit more normal.

I also got an extra 10% off my order because I signed up to their newsletter when prompted on their website so in total my order cost me £17.55 which I think is a bargain!

Salcura Antiac Review with Before and After Photos

Hailed as 'Channel 4's Embarrassing Bodies' Best Anti-Acne Product' Salcura skincare was sent to me to put to the test. As you probably know I have a bit of an issue with acne and have had since I was around 13, I've tried every single product under the sun claiming to be able to get rid of my spots; really strong chemical stuff and lots of other lotions and potions. Salcura prides itself on not containing any 'nasties', they contain only natural ingredients which are proven to deal with infection (what makes your spots go yellow), inflammation and tissue damage. Their 4 'star ingredients' are sea buckthorn, manuka, sandalwood and tea tree; I've heard of the advantages to using tea tree on acne but never combined with the other ingredients. 

There are two parts to the Salcura Antiac range; Daily and Activ, the severity of your acne decides which range you should use. In the daily range has two products a facial wash and face wipes if you have moderate to severe acne they also recommend using one of these products alongside the Activ Range. Because my acne is quite severe at times I have been using two products from the 'Activ' range alongside the face wipes.


Salcura Antiac Activ Gel Serum* £8.99

This is the targeted treatment, to be used on problem areas to help reduce inflammation and redness 'on the spot' within four hours of application. 

Salcura Antiac Activ Liquid Spray* £9.99 

Sprayed onto a cotton pad, this is designed to be used all over the affected area to deal with flare ups and help prevent further acne attacks. 

How I used the range:

I have been using the products from the range alongside my ordinary skincare routine for just over a month now and I'm starting to see some the results. I cleanse my face with Caudalie cleansing water, used a daily face wipe (I wouldn't recommend using these for makeup removal alone, hence why I used cleansing water before) then I spray the Antiac liquid onto a cotton pad and wipe over particular problem areas, finally I applied the gel onto any active spots which were looking angry and red. I also used this throughout the day if needed to help reduce redness as quick as possible.


As you can see, I had quite a few active spots and a lot of angry looking, red skin. This is a photo of my cheek which has been a particular problem area just recently and I had some really painful spots, the one in the middle that you can see was almost unbearable to touch so you can imagine what it was like trying to conceal it!


This is just over a month after beginning to use Salcura Antiac as part of my skincare routine and you can see that it isn't as red and angry and there aren't any active spots. Obviously I still have some redness and scarring but that's from years and years of battling with acne (and picking when I shouldn't!!). 

I really like the simplicity of these products and I don't worry about stripping my skin with chemicals, when I've used benzoyl peroxide containing products I've found that my skin has ended up quite dry whereas with this my skin is fine. None of the products leave a greasy residue which I did worry about when I first read about the ingredients, it just absorbs into the skin within seconds and you could put makeup straight on if you wanted. The only issue with the spray is the smell, some will like it, some will loathe it... I personally don't mind it but the overriding scent is tea tree which some people will find a bit strong. The spray bottle is ideal for dispensing just the right amount of product without wasting any, if I could get a spray cleansing water I would definitely buy it!

I don't believe that there are any 'miracle' products out there, I do think that diet and lifestyle contributes to the look of your skin but as far as acne products go, Salcura Antiac is a great place to start especially if you worry about using chemical containing products; these are 100% natural, reasonably priced and they do work!

Caudalie Skincare Review for Combination Skin

French skincare took the UK industry by storm last year with brands like La Roche Posay, Nuxe, Bioderma and Caudalie emerging with some of the most popular products of the year. Caudalie was known best for its Beauty Elixir, bottles of the stuff flew off the shelves when it was mentioned by Victoria Beckham; I wasn't personally as blown away by it as some people seemed to be but my current skincare routine for combination skin is made up entirely of Caudalie products, so they must be doing something right!



My routine is fairly minimal at the moment, mainly because I haven't had a great deal of time so I've just been concentrating on the essentials (for me) which is cleansing and moisturising. I've never used a different moisturiser for morning and night so this a new thing for me!

Caudalie Makeup Removing Cleansing Water £13.50 - I've only ever tried two Micellaire waters, this one and Bioderma. They make makeup removing so easy, just put some on a cotton pad and swipe over your face. It has been said that Micellaire waters aren't good enough for a 'proper' cleanse but I'm getting on with this just fine; maybe it's the laziness in me but it's much more convenient to use this than it is to do a cleanse with REN clay cleanser which is what I've been using previously. The Caudalie cleansing water is made with organic grape water and camomile leaves my skin feeling refreshed and clean, it doesn't sting your eyes and it smells lovely. It doesn't leave a greasy residue which some Micellaire waters do, this really does feel more like water on your skin. 

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum £40.50 - I only have a 10ml sample which I received from Lusso when I went for a treatment recently but the full size is 30ml. I apply this before I apply my morning/night moisturiser and it's supposed to even out complexion and get rid of any dark spots to make the skin more radiant. I have seen a noticable difference in my skin since using this, I had quite a lot of redness on my cheeks from spots which have been and gone and this has started to help to even my colour out and my cheeks don't look as angry. A little goes a long way with this product, which is a good thing given the price! I squeeze the product up into the pipette and dispense a pea sized amount onto my fingers ready to smooth onto my face. My skin drinks it up almost instantly and I'm then ready to moisturise. 

Caudalie Vinoperfect Night Cream £34.20 - This is a really thick cream, which made me a little apprehensive about using it but I love it. It's a non-greasy formula which soaks beautifully into my skin leaving it soft and smooth ready to go to bed. This is also supposed to help smooth out imperfections and correct any dark spots.

Caudalie Vinoperfect Day Fluid £34.20 - There are two day creams in the Vinoperfect range, the fluid is the lighter one which I have been using because my skin is quite oily so I don't need a heavy cream for day time use. It's a great product for me because again, it smooths onto the skin and doesn't leave any greasy residue, just a really nice base for foundation. 

The Vinoperfect range is supposed to work together to produce radiant results, so far I am impressed. As with any new skincare routine, I always worry that it might break me out, but it hasn't. This combination of Caudalie products is working really well for me at the moment and I'm remembering every single step both morning and night. The price may put some people off; this routine would cost over £120 if I had full size of the each of the Vinoperfect products. This will have to continue to work for me and probably 'wow' me to the point where I feel I can't live without it for me to repurchase every single product. We shall see.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder Review

I can't believe that I'm actually sat here thinking that the majority, if not all of my everyday makeup is a high street brand. My all time favourite setting powder has to be Rimmel Stay Matte, I've tried MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural and yes its nice, very soft and slightly nicer packaging but it's almost £20 more expensive, not as easy to get hold of and, in my opinion, no better than Rimmel! I'd say that Rimmel Stay Matte powder is one of the best high street setting powders on the market.



Rimmel Stay Matte Powder £3.99 Boots (silky beige)

I've lost count of how many times I've repurchased this, it just suits my skin perfectly. It doesn't cake or dry it out excessively but it controls oil and matches my skin perfectly. I apply this every single day without fail over my foundation base to set it and sometimes I use it on its own if I'm trying to go without wearing as much makeup because it does provide a very light coverage which can even out redness. It's so easy to load onto your brush and blends effortlessly, it's also great for using to touch up your makeup during the day. I struggle to find anything bad to say about this apart from the fact that the packaging is a little flimsy but who cares when it's only £3.99; I'm not expecting luxurious cases! The shades are a little restrictive, there's only 6 and there doesn't seem to be one which would match very dark skins unfortunately, there is a transparent one but I'm not sure how well that one would work. But if you have fairer skin and you're currently spending a fortune on a setting powder and you haven't tried this yet then I urge you to pick one up next time you're in town... it could save you a fortune in the long run!

J2O Glitter Berry Review

I know the festive season is technically over but there are some people (like me) that like to celebrate in January because circumstances mean that Christmas equals work, work and more work! So today I'm showing you a festive offering from J2O; the new J2O Glitter Berry which you may have seen if you've partaken in a drink or two over the Christmas period. For the past couple of years J2O have brought out their limited edition 'Glitter Berry' flavour over the festive period, for those of you who don't know its a mixed berry flavoured juice drink but with tiny flecks of edible glitter in it... what's not to like? Well they only went and made an alcoholic cocktail with it aswell...




As you have probably already guessed, J2O Glitter Berry* is a sweet and simple cocktail to make just a bottle of J2O Glitter Berry mixed with a measure of Disaronno. The combination of grape and cherry with a hint of spice and the silky smooth richness of Amaretto creates a taste not dissimilar to that of a Cherry Bakewell tart... errm yum! 

Who wouldn't want to sit with such a gorgeous tasting cocktail, with a hint of sparkle aswell!?


High Street vs. High End Mascara - Maybelline Great Lash & YSL Shocking Mascara

It's that age old battle, which is actually the best product overall... the high street or the high end one? I bought YSL Shocking mascara at the end of October and did a review in November and I bought Maybelline Great Lash the other week because I've seen lots of bloggers and heard lots of people raving about how good it is and that it is a staple makeup product in many top make up artists' kits. 

If you read my review on YSL Shocking mascara you'll know that it was a bit of a 'meh' review, so I guess this comparison just enforces what I said in that with a few comparison photos thrown in for good measure. Obviously the main difference between the two is the price point, YSL Shocking retails at £23.50 whereas Maybelline Great Lash is only £4.99... a massive difference in price. YSL claim that their Shocking mascara 'thickens' and adds 'curve' to your lashes whereas Maybelline's Great Lash is supposed to 'perfectly define' lashes while making them look 'fuller without clumps'.




 Maybelline Great Lash wand


YSL Shocking Wand

I'll get it out there now, I prefer Maybelline Great Lash and to make things simple I'm going to list the pros and cons for each...



- No clumps whatsoever, even after 3 coats
- No flaking after hours of wear
- Gives long, separated lashes
- You are in control of how much product goes on your lashes
- Applying to bottom lashes is easy because the wand is small
- Cheap and readily available


- The wand may be a little small for some people
- The packaging isn't very pretty with the pink & green colour scheme



- Gorgeously luxurious gold packaging
- Great staying power
- Adds volume and some length


- Clumps really easily
- There's a massive build up of product on the wand which I've had to wipe twice, wasting loads of product
- Really difficult to apply because lashes end up looking over loaded and clumpy
- Expensive


I know the two products supposedly give slightly different lash-looks I don't believe that the YSL Shocking mascara is worth the massive price tag. Now I've seen what you can get for just £4.99 I would highly recommend that you pick up a bottle of Maybelline Great Lash next time you see one. I've grown to really dislike the YSL mascara, to the point where I'm tempted to throw it away because it pains me so much to have to keep wiping away so much product! 

Maybelline Brow Drama Brow Mascara Review

Maybelline Brow Drama has become a bit of a cult makeup product on UK high street, it's reasonably priced and works really well. My eyebrows aren't the prettiest, they are quite sparse and the brows I have can be unruly so I do need something to keep them in shape and Maybelline Brow Drama looked like it could definitely do the job.


The gel comes in 3 different shades; deep blonde, medium brown and dark brown. I went for medium brown because although I have fair hair my eyebrows aren't as light. The shade is perfect for me, meaning that it gives my brows shape and a more even colour. The brush is shaped with a bobble on the end to make it easy to apply with just enough product when you load the brush. 


Before - as you can see I don't have a very prominent arch, probably due to years of over-plucking and not looking after them properly. 


After - The arch is much better and the overall look of the brow is a lot neater. 

The gel keeps unruly hairs in place and means that I very rarely use brow pencils anymore, especially during the day because I find it gives me enough colour and I prefer not to have brows which look too drawn on. If you're looking for something reasonably priced to keep your brows under control then I can highly recommend this. I have used Benefit Speed Brow before but I much prefer Maybelline Brow Drama because the brush is much better and I think you get much more product for a fraction of the price. 

Time Bomb Hand to Hand Combat Cream Review

This winter my hands have been unusually dry, I never normally suffer from dry skin on any part of my hands so I don't know what's happened this year but the sides of my fingers have started peeling. A while ago I was contacted to ask if I would like to try some hand cream by a brand called Time Bomb, created by the same people who make John Frieda haircare. Time Bomb is an anti-aging skincare range so I knew that their hand cream would be pretty intensive so I thought I'd give it a go.

Hand to Hand Combat Cream* £14.50 Time Bomb

It's pretty pink, squeezy packaging is perfect to keep handy at all times for when you might need it, the soothing, smoothing ingredients are aimed at more mature skin but in my experience they can work just as well for younger skin which needs a little more TLC. The ingredients include hydraluronic acid (known for helping the skin to absorb more moisture), olive oil and white tea leaf extract; the perfect combination for helping to keep skin hydrated, and protected with extra peptides to also act as a barrier to the outside elements. 

The cream formula is thick but non greasy and quick drying, it really leaves your hands feeling nourished, smooth and protected from the elements. The scent isn't my favourite, I have to admit. It's not offensive but it is quite a strong lavender fragrance which isn't what I'd choose if I had the option but it doesn't linger around on your hands so it's not a big problem. Overall, I really like this hand cream and it'll be staying firmly in my handbag because it's so convenient to use; the fact that it doesn't leave your hands greasy is one of my favourite things because there's been so many times when I've put hand cream on and not been able to do anything with my hands for 5/10 minutes while it soaks in; 20 seconds and you're good to go with this one!

If you watch QVC you'll know that Time Bomb also do lots of other anti-aging products so their website is well worth a look if you or someone are in the market for that kind of thing.

Ted Baker Large Bow Makeup Bag

There's always at least one product that I would really really like to own, a Ted Baker makeup bag has been on that list for long enough so I thought what better time to get one than when I was in Selfridges in London. I got to see it and feel it before I bought it which is always a little better than shopping online, I think. I did have a similar sized bag which came with a Gok Wan set but it got a little bit tatty and a little bit mucky inside so it had to go because nobody wants a gross make up bag do they so enter the Ted Baker large bow makeup bag:

Large Makeup Bag £20.00

The bow design is like a signature Ted Baker design, it's simple yet really pretty I think. It seems that they might be fading this design out of the collection because it was very difficult for me to find a link to somewhere with stock; the design seems to have changed to a flatter bow which is equally as pretty.

The Ted Baker makeup bags come in a few different sizes and you'd obviously choose according to your makeup bag requirements; I needed something to hold the majority of the makeup I use on a daily/weekly basis so it needed to be pretty big. 


As you can see the width is roughly the same as an Urban Decay Naked palette, maybe slightly bigger because it does fit comfortably. As I said the design is quite basic, but functional, the lining is made of a smooth material which is easy to wipe and the outside is patent which means that it's really easy to clean and you'd struggle to stain it with anything (unless you are particularly clumsy with nail polish or something!). 

I just love having this on display, it keeps everything tidy in my bathroom and I do feel a little bit posh having a 'Ted Baker' makeup bag... small things and all that. I know that lots of people have acrylic storage on their dressing tables which looks very nice but I apply my makeup in the bathroom so it wouldn't be very practical to have mine stored in those at the moment. Also having my makeup in a bag means that I don't have to mess around too much if I'm travelling, I just zip it up and go!