31.12.15

Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette | Review & Swatches

Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette | Review & Swatches
I was so incredibly excited about the Urban Decay Gwen Stefani collaboration. Not only do I love Gwen, who doesn't? I also LOVE eyeshadow. Surprisingly the Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette is Urban Decay's first celebrity collaboration and it didn't disappoint. The limited edition eyeshadow palette boasts a mix of daytime wearable and bright shimmery shades, so it was no surprise that over 5,000 people signed up to be notified of its release (me being one of them!).

The eyeshadows are encased in a rather beautiful, yet funky gold palette with a huge mirror. And inside are 15 shades; an array of matte neutrals, brights and darks. Just 3 shades are repeats from the original Urban Decay Naked Palettes: 'Skimp', 'Stark' and 'Blackout' and the other 12 are completely new to the palette. I love the addition of the 3 bold shades 'Harajuku', 'Danger' and '1987', although it would have been nice to see a purple perhaps? However, the palette has a variety of warm and cool toned eyeshadows and sees the much-required matte transitional shades 'Anaheim', 'Stark' & 'Zone', which more often than not other eyeshadow palettes lack. 

The eyeshadows reflect the same quality and formulation as previous Urban Decay palettes. The majority of shades performed very well with and without a primer and are highly pigmented. 'Pop' is the only shade I experienced any fallout with, due to its chunky, sparkly nature, but a spritz of MAC Fix+ does the trick. And the shade 'Skimp' in particular has a seriously smooth buttery texture. 

Overall this eyeshadow palette is pretty darn good and packed with essential shades. And it's great for girls with pale-medium complexions. If you're yet to buy a Urban Decay NAKED palette, or like to collect eyeshadow palettes like myself, don't speak and buy it now before it's no longer available! It's available online here for £40.00. 

Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette | Review & Swatches
Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette | Review & Swatches
Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette | Review & Swatches
Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette | Review & Swatches
Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette | Review & Swatches
Blondie: A light pink with a frosted shimmer
Bathwater: A light warm yellow gold with frosted shimmer
Skimp: A light beige with frosted shimmer 
Steady: A coppery rose gold with metallic sheen 
Punk: A deep plum with a matte finish 
Baby: A muted icy pink shimmery finish 
Anaheim: A muted grey/taupe matte finish 
Stark: A peachy beige transition colour matte finish
Zone: A muted medium brown matte finish 
Serious: A deep grey, with warm taupe undertones and fine shimmer
Pop: A light peachy-beige with a glittery finish 
Harajuku: A light pink with frosted finish 
Danger: A beautiful dark navy blue with pearl finish 
1987: A yellow gold frosted finish 
Blackout: A rich deep matte black

What are your thoughts on Urban Decay's first celebrity collaboration?  
Emily
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30.12.15

Hangover Beauty Hacks

Hangover Beauty Hacks
A boozed-infused complexion is inevitable during the holiday season and more often than not ibuprofen and a few pints of water just won't do. So I've rounded up a few of my favourite hangover beauty antidotes to help you feel human again... 

Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser £18.50
Wake up, energise and cleanse the skin with a gentle scrub. Why? To remove the dead alcohol damaged skin cells and help boost circulation. The Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub Cleanser is a 2-1 cleanser and exfoliator, it's gentle, refreshing, refines and smoothes. Its formula doesn't just have an uplifting citrus scent; it also includes radiance-boosting panax ginseng and caffine. And jojoba and carnauba wax gently exfoliates to help unclog pores. 

After cleansing it's vital to restore the skin's hydration levels as drinking = severe dehydration which in turn causes dry, irritated, dull and puffy skin. The Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Mask is a seriously effective sheet mask that's saturated in hyaluronic acid. The mask is fuss free and comfortable to wear. Applied to the skin for 15 minutes, the sheet mask from Indeed Labs soothes the under eye area and leaves my skin noticeably softer, calmer, smoother, brighter and plumper. You can also massage the remainder of the serum from the sachet into the skin for an extra oomph of hydration. I also recommend GLAMGLOW Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment and if you're at your desk (bad times), opt for a spritz of hydrating water such as MAC Fix+, which contains a mix of antioxidants and provides a little moisture. Psst, these sheet masks are currently on offer online and in-store at Boots.

Kiehl's Tinie Tempah Ultra Facial Cream £43.50*
After you've treated your skin follow up with a moisturiser. The Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream is a cult classic lightweight moisturiser that deeply hydrates. The smoothing moisturiser absorbs well, helps retain moisture, doesn't clog pores, is a great base for makeup, leaves the skin super smooth and is perfect for the cold winter months. A little goes a long way, so don't be too enthusiastic on application. Kiehl's UK will be donating £2 for each purchase of this limited edition Ultra Facial Cream to MTV Staying Alive Foundation.  

This Works Energy Bank Sun Flash £28.00*
If your complexion is looking a little grey add a touch of colour back into your skin by blending a little This Works Energy Bank Sun Flash in with your moisturiser. The Energy Bank Sun Flash has a formula fit for a hangover as it includes vitamins C and E, caffeine, hyaluronic and natural caramel to give you that much needed sun kissed glow. It's not called This Works for nothing! 

Boots Pharmaceuticals Sparkling Eyes Eye Drops £3.59
Blood shot eyes are one of the biggest hangover telltale signs. So replace lost moisture and temporarily reduce redness by applying a few drops of Boots Pharmaceuticals Sparkling Eyes Eye Drops in each eye and after a minute or so you'll be bright eyed. 

Clarins Instant Concealer £21.50 Finally skip foundation (dehydrated skin doesn't agree with foundation), but apply mascara and a little concealer if need be. The Clarins Instant Concealer tackles discolouration (a.k.a wine-induced blotchiness) whilst optically blurring dark circles with clever light-blurring pigments. Its formula contains both caffeine extracts to help the under eye area appear less puffy and aloe vera to soften the skin. It's also super easy to work with and provides a decent amount of coverage due to its rich pigmentation and most importantly it has a natural, brightening finish

What are your hangover beauty hacks? 
Emily
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29.12.15

New Years Eve Beauty Essentials

New Years Eve Beauty Edit

With New Years Eve right around the corner, it's time to plan your party outfit, select your shimmery shadow, ensure you have facial wipes at the ready (for when you return home a little intoxicated), and head out with your friends. And with that in mind, I've selected six beauty products to help you welcome 2016 in style...
I've fallen in love with liquid lipstick in recent months, it's the perfection option for a long-wearing makeup look and red is the classic option for any celebration. 'Firey' from Stila is a deep red and although red lips can be hard to maintain, Stila have created a long-wearing liquid lipstick that won't transfer if you're inline for a NYE kiss. The formula is slightly thicker in comparison to Gerard Cosmetics's Hydra Matte Liquid Lipsticks and although it's easy to apply with the doe-foot applicator, it's highly pigmented (you really don't need much), so I find I have to brush off the excess on the rim of the tube. As expected it applies wet and dries down to a soft matte finish that doesn't bleed or transfer. 

If you're after big, luxurious hair, look no further than Charles Worthington Volume & Bounce Texturising Spray. The invisible spray has a slight hold and is seriously volumising, leaving my hair big and bouncy, without the need to backcomb. And I can't get enough of the scent; it smells delicious. I have got through countless cans of the stuff and always count of CW to give my limp hair a bit of 'zoosh'. 

Nouveau Lashes Strip Lashes in 'Glamour / Style 3' £6.99*
Sometimes a few coats of mascara doesn't quite hack it, especially if you've been blessed with a skimpy set of lashes. So for a full on flutter, select a pair of your favourite false lashes. I've selected Nouveau Lashes Strip Lashes in 'Glamour' Style 3, they're high quality, lightweight, easy to apply, reusable and look great in photos. The eye-catching pair are full at the roots and flared at the ends, perfect for a special occasion. And remember to line the lashes up to your lid and cut away any excess - this will make them far easier to apply. 

I LOVE highlighter. It gives the illusion of larger eyes, leaves my skin glowing, makes my cheekbones "pop", brightens up dark areas, instantly lifts my brows and plump up my lips. If I could dust it all over my entire face daily without looking like a sweaty mess I would! Jaclyn Hill's Shimmering Skin Perfector in 'Champagne Pop' is a b-e-a-u-tiful peachy highlighter that leaves a luminescent sheen on the skin. Applied onto the high planes of the face where the light would naturally catch, my skin is left looking youthful and bright. Now you don't want to rival the disco ball on NYE, so be selective about where you apply your highlighter and use a light hand. 

I'm a sucker for a multi-tasker and the This Works In Transit Camera Close-Up acts as a moisturiser, primer AND a face mask. Just a pump of the lightweight cream applied directly to clean (un-moisturised skin) evens, brightens and pumps my complexion, leaving it perfectly prepped for makeup. The formula's blend of hyaluronic acid, caffine, argan and starflower oils ensures my skin is selfie ready. And a little tip, you don't need all that much, otherwise your makeup will slide around. Overall I can't fault the soft finish it achieves. It works! 

Everything is better with a tan, right? Covering imperfections, scaring and stretch marks, fake-tan instantly boosts confidence. And Cocoa Brown's products have never failed to achieve an airbrushed, flawless finish and their latest release hasn't disappointed. Their new Instant Tan Bronzing Gel may appear dauntingly dark, but when worked into the skin it instantly leaves a gorgeous golden natural sun-kissed glow, so you won't be left looking like an oompa loompa! In fact it applies beautifully, blends extremely well and dries instantaneously. And Cocoa Brown's signature Tahitian Gardenia scent makes it pleasant to use and wear and even with the odd spillage there were no signs of fatal fake tan damage! Now removal is often a pain when it comes to fake-tan, but the wash of formula is a godsend making it perfect for fake-tan dummies. 

What beauty products will you be reaching for this NYE? 
Emily
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28.12.15

Top Five Red Lipsticks

Top Five Red Lipsticks
Admittedly I'm not a regular red lip wearer, but during the festive season I like to paint my pout in the classic colour, so today in true Christmas spirit I'm sharing my top five red lipsticks... 

Burberry's Lip Velvet in 'Oxblood' £25.00*
'Oxblood' is a dramatic deep vampy red from Burberry with a rich and luxurious formula. The iconic shade glides on and feels lightweight on the lips. Unlike your traditional red lipstick, 'Oxblood' has a buildable pigmentation with each swipe, giving you far more colour intensity control. It's also surprisingly comfortable for a matte lipstick and sets down to a matte/velvet finish after a minute or so of being applied. And although it doesn't necessarily bleed or feather, it looks worn and fades over time, leaving a stained appearance on the lips. With a matte gunmetal casing, magnetic closure and a beautifully embossed lipstick bullet, this lipstick is without a doubt desirable product for any red lip lover. 

Rimmel 107 Lasting Finish Matte By Kate Moss £5.49 
A shade I (and many other beauty bloggers) always crack out come Autumn/Winter is Rimmel 107 Lasting Finish Matte By Kate Moss. The deep raspberry red has a velvet matte finish and although the shade can be applied lightly, it has a rather intense colour payoff and be warned, although it doesn't drag on application, it can smudge and leave a red mess lurking around your lip line, so apply with caution (or a lip brush!). Once the shade has set it doesn't bleed and lasts for roughly 4 hours. Rimmel 107 Lasting Finish By Kate Moss is great value for money priced at just £5.49.  

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Vivien' £24.00
Another plummy berry shade is NARS Audacious Lipstick in 'Vivien'. The weighty packaging, magnetic closure and stamped bullet are comparable to Burberry's Lip Velvet in 'Oxblood', but 'Vivien' has a cool undertone and satin finish. Moreover, this shade from NARS's Audacious Lipstick Collection '14 is a one-stroke wonder, as it's opaque in just a single application. The satin lipstick has a creamy formula and a glossier finish than expected. And as a result lasts around 4 hours on the lips and unfortunately can on occasion transfer and bleed. But despite this, it's a shade I love and one to indulge in if you too like creamy cool toned lipsticks. 

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl £19.00
How could my red lip line-up not include a NARS Velvet Mate Lip Pencil? 'Dragon Girl' is a bright bold red with a pink undertone and blue base (say hello to white gnashes!). The velvet matte from NARS is opaque and leaves a nice sheen on the lips, which I presume, is down to both the formula and the fact the shade is so bright. 'Dragon Girl' is quite frequently compared to MAC Ruby Woo (which also made the mix), but although similar I would say 'Dragon Girl' is far brighter and has a pinker undertone. I do find the pencil applicator can make the colour a little tricky to apply at times; so a little lip liner comes in handy. Overall NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in 'Dragon Girl' is a beautiful bright shade. Oh and did I mention it's a favourite of Taylor Swifts? 

The infamous shade from MAC Cosmetics is a medium red with a cool undertone and blue base. 'Ruby Woo' has an ultra-matte finish and as a result has an extremely dry and stiff texture meaning it can be drying and drag on the lips. But nevertheless this lipstick from MAC with a little lip preparation (a.k.a scrub and balm), is a universally-flattering shade, instantly makes you feel kick-ass, passes the kiss test, is vibrant and has the longest wear time out of all 5 lipsticks listed here. MAC 'Ruby Woo' is the perfect pinup girl red, a favourite of Gwen Stefani and Rita Ora and a shade I urge you try, no matter how anxious you are to up your amp!

Top Five Red Lipsticks
Left to right: Burberry's Lip Velvet in 'Oxblood'  / Rimmel 107 Lasting Finish Matte By Kate Moss / NARS Audacious Lipstick in 'Vivien' / NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in 'Dragon Girl' / MAC Matte Lipstick in 'Ruby Woo'

What's your go-to red lipstick? 
Emily
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24.12.15

Holiday Gifts From KIKO

Holiday Gifts From KIKO

The new KIKO Cosmic Starlets limited edition collection is filled with a variety of swoon worthy, high quality products, fit for any beauty addict and get this, they've just gone on sale - need I tell you what to do next?!

Angel Kiss Set - Milk & Honey £11.90 (SALE £8.30)* 
If smell-o-vision were a thing, you'd be drooling right about now. The KIKO Angel Kiss Set includes two milk and honey scented products; a scrub and balm - the must have winter survival kit for your pout! The duo smell delicious, like a freshly opened pot of honey and are presented in a festive red gift box, inspired by the star constellations. The exfoliating lip scrub is packaged in a glass jar with a mirrored lid (pretty). And the scrub itself is made with sugar crystals, with a formula boasting protecting and nourishing ingredients such as rosemary and jojoba oil that leave my lips feeling super smooth. The milk and honey scented Kiss Balm is also encased in elegant mirrored packing and has a formula enriched with potent plant-based active ingredients including Shea butter that smooth, moisturise and protect the lips. The lip scrub and balm duo is available in four scents: Candy Canes, Champagne & Strawberries, Milk & Honey and Cranberry Crumble. 

Perfect Star Gel Duo Nail Lacquer & Top Coat £7.90 (SALE £5.50)* 
If you're after a new nail polish set, the Perfect Star Gel Duo Nail Lacquer & Top Coat are a steal at just £5.50. The set is packaged in the collections signature red box and includes a colour and top coat with a gel effect finish. I have the set 'Intuitive Red' a classic holiday red with subtle micro glitter particles. The colour applies evenly and the finish is super glossy. Overall I was very impressed with the quality of these polishes and would happily purchase another. The Perfect Star Gel Duo is available in four colours: Translucent Beige, Intuitive Red, Artistic Plum and Spontaneous Pink. 

Did you pick anything up from the KIKO Cosmic Scarlets collection?
Emily
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21.12.15

The Pre-Christmas Pamper

The Pre-Christmas Pamper

With late night shopping trips, Christmas parties and endless to-do lists, the build up to Christmas can be both physically and mentally exhausting. So, I've paused my present wrapping and decided to indulge in a pre-Christmas pamper before the festivities truly begin...

What pamper session would be complete without turning the taps and running a hot, bubbly bath? Although I'm a shower kinda girl, nothing beats a good soak and to aid relaxation and to give my bath the ahhh factor I'll pop in the Lush Father Christmas bath bomb £3.65, which smells simply divine (a little like Lush Snow Fairy) and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean. And then I'll take a drop of Sanctuary's Green Lemon & Orange Blossom Body Wash from the Sanctuary Little Tin of Treats £8.00 and use my body polisher to lightly exfoliate my skin. Next I'll apply my current go-to face mask Lush's Mask of Magnanimity £9.95, which instantly reduces and smoothes any blemishes and active breakouts. Once I've emerged from the tub, I like to replenish my skin and apply a generous amount of Dove's Derma Spa Goodness Body Cream £8.99 to my arms and legs. 

Although the average woman spends 15 minutes a day blow drying and styling their hair, I'm amongst the small percentage of women who wash their hair, go to bed (with wet hair...) wake up and put it up into a pony tail. So I'll set a little time aside during my pre-Christmas pamper, to blow dry my hair and follow up with my Babyliss Straighteners which are ready to use in just 15 seconds, have three heat settings and the ceramic plates leave my hair feeling and looking ultra smooth. Both the hair dryer and straighteners are available in a bundle set online here from BrightHouse for just £71.50*.

And finally to round up my pre-Christmas pamper I'll make a delicious salted caramel hot chocolate and pop on a Christmas movie. Bliss.

How'd you like to relax & wind down before the main event? 
Emily
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18.12.15

Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon

Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
With breath-taking scenery, hot springs, Northern Lights and the Blue Lagoon, it's no surprise that Iceland is a popular holiday destination amongst travellers. And my recent weekend stay in Reykyavik with Benjamin was magical...

I had previously visited Iceland around 8 years ago, but this time around the snow had fallen and it transformed Iceland into a place that was totally unrecognisable (other than it's distinctive eggy sulpha whiff!). Throughout our three-night stay we set up camp at The Cabin Hotel, which is a short walk from central Reykyavik and a stone throw away from the shoreline. And like the creatures of habit that we are, we visited the same restaurant twice The Solon Bistro, where the relaxed atmosphere was welcoming and almost homely and the dishes were exceptionally good! Prior to arriving in Iceland, I had booked a few excursions. Conveniently the pick up and drop off was at our hotel and the operators were professional, friendly and knowledgeable. So, cold weather ready (thermals, timberlands and Primark mitts) myself and Ben headed out to explore what Iceland had to offer... 

The Golden Circle tour was the highlight of our trip. The guided coach tour rolled past volcanic landscapes, glaciers, mountain ranges and petit pony-sized Icelandic horses before we stopping off at some of Iceland's most beautiful sights. The first stop off was a brief visit to the Frioheimar greenhouse cultivation centre, where they grow HUGE, pesticide free tomatoes with the aid of geothermal heat and get this, they fly in a box of Bees every few months from overseas to pollinate the tomato plants! Next we visited the Geysir geothermal area where the boiling water erupts and shoots into the sky up to 30 metres high every 10 minutes - incredible. There were also two places to eat, a souvenir shop and an audiovisual exhibition about geysers, volcanoes and earthquakes, which were free of charge to enter. But the main star of the show was The Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall, which thunders into a deep canyon and I think you'll agree is utterly breath-taking. The last stop on the tour was the Thingvellir National Park located by Lake Thingvallavtn, the largest lake in Iceland, where the American and Eurasian Tectonic plates meet and are pulling apart. The Golden Circle tour was a five star experience and the full day of sightseeing was worth every penny. 

On our last full day we bathed in one of Iceland's most visited attractions The Blue Lagoon, which sits in an ancient lava field. The geothermal spa is basically a giant bathtub of milky crystal blue water rich in blue-green algae, mineral salts and fine silica mud, which exfoliate and condition the skin. On arrival the queues made me a little anxious and I was recommended to coat my hair in conditioner, before entering the lagoon, as although the high mineral content in the water works wonders on your skin it can dry out your hair. But surprisingly the lagoon wasn't overly crowded and although Ben's beard froze, my hair survived! As we watched the clouds of steam roll over the backdrop of snow covered rocks, we enjoyed a drink at the pool bar and I smothered my face in the free silica mud that was available in buckets around the lagoon. The average temperature of the lagoon is around 37-40 degrees and Ben and I came to realise the water was hottest near the vents and took refuge there for a few hours. 

That evening I had booked the Northern Lights tour, but unfortunately it got cancelled due to poor weather conditions (a.k.a clouds). But luckily we caught the Northern Lights as we flew into Feflavik International Airport and although a fleeting sight, they were beautiful. Instead we headed into central Reykyavik, visited the Harpa a concert hall which is made with glass-blocks that glisten and change colour on the Reykjavik harbour and Hallgr√≠mskirkja the Church of Iceland. 

So would I visit Iceland for the third time? Without a doubt. And who can say they saw the Coca Coal Christmas lorries travelling through Reykyavik? Me! I honestly can't recommend Iceland enough - don't let the cold deter you! 

Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon
Iceland | The Golden Circle & Blue Lagoon

Have you ever visited Iceland? 
Emily
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