Superdrug Solait Dry Oil: The £4.99 Bondi Sands Dupe! | AD-Gifted

24 May 2017

Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil Review Bondi Sands Dupe

Superdrug's own sun and tanning range Solait have undergone a bit of a makeover for the 2017 summer season, now sporting the most Insta-perfect pink bottles with on-trend typographic logos. The range is all priced under the £5 mark (and often on buy one get one half price!), and includes everything from bronzers (which I've heard really good things about), fake tan, SPFs and instant tans. I'n going to be honest and say that fake tan is one of the areas of beauty where I'm pretty much clueless. That and false eyelashes. I'm a lazy girl and things like this are a bit too much faff for me...

I never really enjoyed the process of fake tanning until last year, when I first tried Bondi Sands Liquid Gold. The sticky mousse formula has been replaced by a silky, hydrating oil that smelled just like coconuts, and delivers a deep olive tan that doesn't stain the bedsheets. It was an all-round winner, apart from the price. At £14.99 for 150ml, it was triple the price of my previous St Moritz (oh how that stuff reminds me of uni night out prepping!) and I found after just one use I'd used a good 1/5 of the bottle.

Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil Review Bondi Sands Dupe

I had a bit of a nosey through the new Superdrug range and my brain started ticking when I saw the Solait Tanning Oil*. Could this be a dupe for my favourite fake tan? It sure sounded similar! It is described as being easy to apply and quickly absorbed, enriched with Argan Oil, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to moisturise the skin for longer lasting results. Side-to-side, the products are certainly very similar in terms of concept. Both products feel the same on the skin, with a base of Argan Oil. The Superdrug one also has grapeseed and sweet almond oil, and the Bondi Sands uses Jojoba Oil. The initial scents are slightly different - the Superdrug one claims to have a tropical scent, which personally I think has a minty tinge, although it's still pleasant, and the Bondi Sands has a gorgeous coconut scent. Whilst both have a little bit of that biscuity developing scent, its certainly nothing compared to most traditional fake tans. 

I usually apply the Tanning Oil on dry, freshly exfoliated skin (I avoid using an oil-based scrub before use) with a mitt but I've found using an old sock over a latex glove makes application a bit more precise. The Superdrug oil has a bit more of a tint to it than the Bondi Sands, so you can see where you've applied it a little better. I remember once completely missing my left calf when I applied the Bondi Sands in dim light, oops! My skin is left feeling really nourished, and I really think this helps the tan look a lot healthier and last longer too. I like to apply a tanning oil in the morning on a lazy day, as I don't like that sweaty feeling you get when you leave it overnight. These dry oils aren't sticky like mousses or lotions, so you can get dressed shortly after and go about your day (I still like to wear loose clothes though!). Both tans start to develop in 2-3 hours, but you don't technically need to rinse the tan off. I usually just have a shower as normal before going to bed.

Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil Review Bondi Sands Dupe

The shades are slightly different, with the Bondi Sands being more olive in tone, although the Solait certainly isn't orangey - it's kind of that glow you get after a day in the sun. For me, the Solait Tanning Oil builds a nice amount of colour whilst still looking natural, but if you're darker skinned, you may want something more intense. You can apply another coat after 30 minutes to get a more intense colour however. I found that the Solait Tanning Oil lasted really well on my skin, despite not the best at remembering to use a scrub every couple of days. Even still, it lasted a good 7 days, and didn't go at all patchy. 

Personally, I like both tans and each has its positives. The Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil is a lot cheaper, and I find due to it being less dark, it's more foolproof, and I like how it lasts and fades on me. I prefer the Bondi Sands scent, and the fact that it's deeper and more olive toned may also be a positive depending on your preference. However I don't find that the Bondi Sands does enough to warrant paying an extra £10, so I think if I had to repurchase one out of the two, it'd be the Superdrug Tanning Oil. It definitely is similar enough to be called a dupe, and I'm really happy I've found an oil-based tan I can apply regularly without feeling guilty of the price!

Have you found any good dupes recently?

- This post contains PR samples (*) and affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give my honest opinion of a product/service -

YouTube | May Empties: Regret or Repurchase?

23 May 2017

May Empties Video: Regret or Repurchase?

There was a time when I never used to finish products, but doing my Declutter series has really made me see that having a collection of products hidden away in storage was defeating the object. I wanted to have a collection that I could actively use and enjoy, and so I've made it my pact to try and use up more products this year, both in general and as part of my Project Pan

Because of this change in thinking, I've been doing a lot more empties videos, and who am I to complain? They have always been some of my favourites to make, and indeed watch! There's something so satisfying about finishing a product (even if you know you're going to have to shell out for a replacement), and I believe it conjures up the most honest of opinions. I think we're all guilty of proclaiming our love for a product in a first impressions or haul, but you only know your true feelings when you have used the whole lot, and so you're getting the most reliable recommendation from an Empties.

In my May Empties, I've used up mainly skincare products, and apparently I had a thing for sheet masks. There's everything from the affordable 7th Heaven, to the much more pricey WOW and Estée Lauder, and I'm chatting about whether they're worth the hype and the money. Of course there are the staples, Lush Big Shampoo and the Colab Dry Shampoo, which seem to make their way into every single empties. I always find that I don't love a lot of the products I use up, and that's certainly the case here, not being overly taken by any of the samples that I've tried, however I did love a good few, and I've repurchased (or already had backups) all of the products in the image above.

Products I've used up...

7th Heaven Dead Sea Sheet Masque*
Lush Big Shampoo
Lush Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb

What have you finished up recently?

- This post contains PR samples (*) and affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give my honest opinion of a product/service -

The Fragrance 411: May

22 May 2017

The Fragrance 411 May Perfume Launches News

Latest Fragrance Gossip

The Perfume Society are launching their latest and third Discovery Box for men, The Men's Edit, just in time for Father's Day. It contains eleven fragrances plus two grooming samples and is priced at £15 for VIP subscribers and £19 for non-subscribers. The box includes scents from Escentric Molecules, Jimmy Choo and Miller Harris, as well as a Penhaligon's moisturiser and Aromatherapy Associates eye gel.

American actress Haley Bennett has been signed by Chloé as the new face of its signature scent for its 10th anniversary. She joins the likes of Clémence Poesey, Chloe Sevigny and Dree Hemingway, who all embody the brand's free-spiritied Parisian vibe. No amount of Chloé perfume can make me as cool as them sadly, but the Chloé signature scent and Love Story are among some of my favourites!

Italian brand Etro have introduced their latest fragrance concept, Metamorfosi: the art of layering. Throughout the year, they will be introducing new and evocative fragrance blends, made up of their existing fragrances. So far, we have Greenery Mood, which combines Paisley and Vicolo Fiori, and the delightful Enchanted Garden blend of Etra and Royal Pavillion, with many more to come! If you're new to fragrance combining, this will be a great introduction for you and its a concept to keep in mind if you're building your Etro fragrance collection.

Etro Metamorfosi Greenery Mood
Etro Metamorfosi Enchanted Garden

May Designer Fragrance Launches

There are two new additions to the Juicy Couture range, this time in its more luxurious Regal Collection. The first scent is called Royal Rose and includes notes of rose de Mai, incense and suede, and then there is Majestic Woods, which has notes of tonka, praline, amber and patchouli. Both are priced at £89 for 100ml.

Moschino have launched a follow-up to the gimmicky-bottled, yet surprisingly popular Fresh Couture. This time, it's the turn of Pink Fresh Couture (from £35 for 30ml), which launched on the 15th May. It is a fresh, floral scent, perfect for Spring, and is described as "exuberant and crystalline", with its blend of grapefruit, lily of the valley, and cassis in the opening, juicy pomegranate, wild rose and pink jacinth at the heart and a base of cedar, ambrox and musk. I actually secretly love the packaging of this one, the pink works well and somehow makes it look less brash than the blue of Fresh Couture, which literally looks like a bottle of kitchen cleaner. Just don't get them mixed up...

This summer, a new chapter of the cult classic Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue will be written, 16 years after the launch of the original, making the scents more vibrant and long lasting. Light Blue Eau Intense Pour Femme, has been reworked by Olivier Cresp and opens with lemon and apple, with a heart of marigold and jasmine and a base of amber woods and musk. Pour Homme also gets the Eau Intense treatment, and both scents are available from mid-May priced from £47.

Gucci Bloom (from £68 for 50ml) is the first fragrance by new creative director Alessandro Michele. It is due to be launched in August, but you can actually pre-order your bottle now (limited to the first 1000 bottles), which is why I've included it in this month's line-up. The scent has notes of jasmine, tuberose, orris and Rangoon creeper, which is an exclusive note to this fragrance, sourced from India and also known as Chinese honeysuckle. I absolutely love the design of the bottle, and its sure to be a popular one! 

May Niche Fragrance Launches

Trussardi Parfums are launching unisex scent The Black Rose, which is inspired by the Middle East. It has top notes of Saudi Arabian Taif rose, with a heart of amber, musk and pink pepper, and a base of patchouli and vanilla. It is set to launch exclusively at Harrods from 5th May, priced at £77.50 for 100ml.

Atkinsons of London are launching a new fragrance in their Legendary Collection called Californian Poppy. The Eau de Toilette is a modern, radiant reworking of the 1908 original and is described as being "hip yet heritage", "modern yet vintage" and "bohemian chic". It has top notes of lemon, jasmine and pink pepper, a heart of poppy accord and orange flower and base notes of cedarwood, helvetolide (a sophisticated, modern musky note with a fruity pear aspect) and incense. It will be available at the end of May at Selfridges, and priced at £100 for 100ml.

Lastly, there's a new scent from Eight & Bob, called Nuit de Megeve. It is inspired by the ski resort of the same name (although personally I find the time of year a bit odd for this launch!) and has notes of grapefruit, petigrain, clove, tonka, orris, black coffee, vetiver, tobacco and musk to create a woody, aromatic scent. It is available at Harvey Nichols from 12th May, at £125 for 100ml, and you can find more details about the Eight & Bob range here.

Do you have you eye on any of these new launches?

- This post contains affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give an honest opinion of a product -

YouTube | The Perfume Society X Latest In Beauty Scented Skincare Unboxing | AD-Gifted

The Perfume Society Scented Skincare Unboxing

The Perfume Society have teamed up with Latest In Beauty for their very first collaboration, combining forces to create the Scented Skincare* bag, which features products specially selected for their gorgeous fragrances. I'm a big advocate of scented skincare, basing much of my opinion on the experience of the product rather than the results I (rarely) see. Co-founder of The Perfume Society, Jo Fairley agrees, stating "Something I learned long ago as a beauty editor is that the fragrance... is intrinsically linked to its effectiveness. When we love the scent of our skincare, we use it often, and that's when we see results".

For £22, there are 10 must-have products, spanning skincare and body care with a value of over £65, including the Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Cream, the MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion and one of my personal highlights, a full size Sukin Detoxifying Clay Masque. Most of the products are really good size samples, so there's none of the teeny sachets you usually find in subscription boxes, which means you can really get a good sense of the product.

The Scented Skincare bag contains...

Ultrasun Face SPF 30 - 25ml, worth £10
MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion - 10ml, worth £2.75
Sukin Detoxifying Clay Masque - 100ml (full size) worth £11.49
Rosalena Rock & Rose Face Oil - 5ml, worth £14

In my latest video, you can see me unboxing the Scented Skincare collaboration, and giving my first impressions of the products inside and their scents. I'll be back in a few weeks once I've had chance to properly try each of the products, letting you know what worked and what didn't (if anything!). It's early days, but everything I've tried so far has been fab and I'm really impressed overall with the collab. It's definitely something to check out if you're into skincare, fragrance, or both!

Which products are you most excited to try from The Scented Skincare bag?

- This post contains PR samples (*) kindly provided by The Perfume Society and affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give my honest opinion of a product/service -

Superdrug Layering Lab Body Sprays | AD-Gifted

17 May 2017

Superdrug Layering Lab Body Mists Review

2017 well and truly is the year that marks the comeback of the humble body spray. It is no longer reserved for pre-teens who want something cheap and cheerful to spray around in the changing rooms, rather being a great alternative to an eau de toilette or parfum. With fragrances to rival high-end perfumes, and scents that last (almost) all day, the body mist is back and better than ever. The latest additions to my body mist collection come courtesy of Superdrug and their Layering Lab range. The collection has a focus on mixing and matching scents to create your own custom combo, an idea championed by Jo Malone, only on a much more expensive level. I'm sure I'm not the only one that is horrified at the thought of buying not one, but two or three high-end fragrances at £40+ a pop! Luckily, the Superdrug Layering Lab Body Mists are just £2.99 for 100ml, and with six scents, there's bound to be one that takes your fancy.

Superdrug Layering Lab Body Mists Gourmand Review

I have three of the scents: Floral, Oriental and Gourmand (not the most imaginative of names, I know), and there's also Fresh, Paradise and Cocoon in the lineup. Gourmand* was the first that I tried, and I was absolutely blown away by it! When I first saw the name, I assumed it'd be a sugary candy bomb (which is totally okay with me), but it is quite the opposite. It has notes of cassis and red berry, with sweet rose and a base of vanilla, sugary notes and musk. There's definitely a bit of bergamot and subtle spice in there too, and it is really reminiscent of a lot of popular high-end fragrances. It smells expensive, in a similar vein to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and lasts for most of the day on the skin. Even if you're sceptical of body mists, I would definitely recommend giving this one a smell, you'll be surprised! They're definitely worth spraying on the skin, as they smell a lot different in comparison to how they smell in the bottles. It's not my personal favourite scent, but in terms of the quality, this is one of the best body mists I've tried!

[ Gourmand + Oriental = a fresh, yet rich spicy scent ]

Superdrug Layering Lab Body Mists Oriental Review

Oriental* had me intrigued as I own and love the So...? version, Floriental. With a similar hued bottle, I wondered whether it would be a similar scent, and it definitely is. Oriental contains a spicy floral accord of orris, rose, and sensual warm spices, enriched with an oriental base of patchouli, amber and vanilla. This definitely has a spiciness to it, and if you're not a fan of sickly sweet fragrances, but you still want something warm, deep and sensual, this would be a great one for you. I find Oriental is stronger, more musky and more soapy, whereas Floriental is more fresh, but you definitely don't need both.

[ Oriental + Floral = a complex, fresh floral ]

Superdrug Layering Lab Body Mists Floral Review

Saving the best for last, Floral* is a beautiful, romantic bouquet. It has notes of raspberry and blackberry, with a heart of fresh peony, rose and violet and a base of soft white musk. It isn't the strongest or most long lasting out of the lineup, but its the one that I've reached for the most as I love its soft, youthful floral scent. The sweet berry/rose combo actually really reminds me of Stella McCartney Stella, and if your're a fan of those kinds of pretty, girlie, everyday scents, you'll love this! You'll also love the £75.01 saving against the 100ml bottle of Stella...

[ Gourmand + Floral = a rich, sweet spicy scent. Think Armani Si ]

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the Superdrug Layering Lab Body Mists. They're all really good quality for a body mist. The scents are complex and unlike what you'd usually see at this price point, and when you start mixing them up, they really come into their own! I definitely want to give the remaining three scents a sniff, and I'm particularly keen on the idea of Paradise, which sounds reminiscent of Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess with notes of tangerine, solar white florals, green tea, vanilla, amber and sandalwood. Fingers crossed we have a dupe on our hands!

Do you like the sound of any of these? Which combination would you try?

- Post contains PR samples and affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give my honest opinion of a product -

New So...? Eau de Parfums #UnleashYourStyle | AD-Gifted

12 May 2017

So...? Eau de Parfums #UnleashYourStyle

Hot on the release of their two new body mist collections, everyone's favourite budget/90's throwback brand So...? are back with three new Eau de Parfum fragrances. The collection revolves around the hashtag #UnleashYourStyle, drawing inspirations from catwalk trends to create three very different scents: So...? Sheer Illusion, I Am... So...? and So...? Dark Romance, all retailing for £6.99 for 30ml from Superdrug (and later launching in Boots).

On first impressions, I love the packaging. It is a departure from So...?'s original range of eau de toilettes, and there isn't anything else in the budget fragrance sector like them. They each come in a cardboard box, with great attention to detail like the rose gold of Sheer Illusion and the textured cardboard of I Am So...? The fragrances are housed in squared-off glass bottles, each with a different design peeking through the glass on the back and a complementary coloured lid. I love that they have been designed with aesthetics in mind, so your fragrance not only looks great on your dressing table, but you won't feel embarrassed about pulling it out of your handbag. That being said, the 30ml size is still great for taking with you on the go. The only downside for me is the text on the front of the bottles, as it makes them look a little less sophisticated.

So...? Sheer Illusion

It was a tough choice of which to try first, but I went for the pastel pink hues of So...? Sheer Illusion*. This is inspired by the luxurious, sheer fabrics that adorn the catwalks for spring and summer, like tulle and satin. The fragrance matches the feminine feel of said fabrics, with a fresh opening of bergamot and mandarin, a soft powdery heart of rose and jasmine, and a base of sensual sandalwood. Sheer Illusion is a soft, woody floral that warms to a creamy skinscent. The scent really intensifies as it dries down, and even though the top notes are a fleeting visit of fresh citrus, don't be tempted to overspray as the base really comes into its own as it warms on the skin, and has decent lasting power. This is a fairly inoffensive scent: clean, comforting and classic, with a touch of fresh laundry in the opening, before becoming warm and sensual on the skin. I can imagine this would make a nice office scent as it is pretty and pleasant, although it is not my typical kind of scent. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you find the likes of Chloé fragrances a little too sweet, or you usually go for florals from Valentino or D&G.

So...? Dark Romance

Then there is So...? Dark Romance*, inspired by gothic influences in fashion, and combining darker elements with a more romantic look. It is described as being "rich, mysterious and sassy", and I totally agree with this! It is sweet and indulgent, with that darker feel, like the sexier sister of So...? Sinful. It opens with a rich, sweet blend of bergamot, pink pepper and dark praline, and softens with feminine violet and vanilla notes. As soon as I first spritzed this, I thought of dark cherry liquor chocolates.This is more of an evening scent, but the thing I love about it is that it's not too overpowering: it really had the potentially to be really sickly, but the strength is perfect. It still has that candied finish of So...? Sinful, or even scents like Britney Spears Fantasy or Ariana Grande, but it's just that little bit more sophisticated.

I Am... So...?

Lastly there is I Am... So...?*, which has a vibrant and fun pink design which initially led me to believe this would be a fruity, tropical scent. It is actually more of a bold floral scent, with fresh mandarin and vibrant orange blossom, with a base of luxurious cashmere wood, perfect for pairing with a brightly coloured summer dress. In contrast to Sheer Illusion, I Am So...? really packs a punch in the opening, and this continues throughout the fragrance. It opens with a certain fizziness, and reminds me of a sherbety orange and raspberry cocktail. The orange blossom comes in the form of a bitter orange neroli scent than soft floral and the cashmere woods give it a lot of dimension. Personally this isn't my cup of tea, as it is really reminiscent of bold "night out" fragrances like Paco Rabanne Lady Million or Jimmy Choo, but if you're a fan of those, this is a brilliant affordable option!

Overall, I really like this new range of Eau de Parfums from So...?. I really like the concept and I love that the range draws upon having a signature scent based on your style. The scents are good quality and long lasting and don't smell at all cheap, which is key when choosing something more affordable. My favourite out of the three has to be So...? Dark Romance, followed by So...? Sheer Illusion, with I Am So...? not really being my cup of tea. There's a good range of scents so far, but I'd like to see them bring out something more fresh or fruity, as two out of the three have floral undertones. They are in fact bringing out a fourth scent in the range for AW17, so I'm really intrigued to see what they come up with!

Which scent do you like the sound of?

- Post contains PR samples (*) and affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give my honest opinion of a product -

Yankee Candle Coastal Living Collection

10 May 2017

Yankee Candle Coastal Living Collection Review

The newest collection of scents from Yankee Candle is the Coastal Living collection, which follows on from 2016's Riviera Escape spring collection (read the review here). The whole coastal thing isn't a new concept for Yankee Candle, having had many scents in the past including Coastal Waters (which was one of the first Yankee scents I ever tried), Ocean Star and Turquoise Sky, which is still in the main range. When I first heard about the Coastal Living collection, I instantly thought of Beach Flowers, a long retired but beautiful scent! Due to my ridiculously OTT collection of candles, I haven't been buying as many recently as I don't often burn them, but there's something about Yankee new releases that draws me in, and I just had to pick up a couple of votives. I know a lot of people say that the throw on votives isn't that great, but the scents are usually strong enough for my small room. I'm quite sensitive to strong scents, and the wax tarts certainly can be strong, so the votives are perfect.

The scent that I was first drawn to was Garden By The Sea with its deep pink wax. It is described as "a delicate floral scent, with oceanside blooms and bright bundles of sea thrift", and has top notes of violet leaves and peony, a heart of muguet (lily of the valley), sea thrift and water lotus, and a base of white amber and sensual musks. I think out of all the scents in the Coastal Living collection, this is the one I was most disappointed in. It's a very light floral scent, pretty but extremely generic, although the wax and label are both beautiful. Moving onto the scent that I was most unsure about which was Driftwood, especially as I didn't really like the long retired Beach Wood. It is described as being "like a salty favourite, plucked from the beach sand, woody and sun-weathered" and has notes of waterlily, sea salt, driftwood, eucalyptus, tonka bean and crisp cedar. It has a really unique combination of notes, and on first sniff, I didn't think this woodsy scent would be my cup of tea, but I was easily swayed by its complexity and it's one of my favourites from the collection so far.

Yankee Candle Coastal Living Collection Review

Sea Air is described as "the refreshing air at the water's edge, laced with sea salt, cyclamen and rose, as well as beach flower and sandalwood. This one isn't overly groundbreaking, it's exactly what you'd expect for an aquatic/marine scent, and would be nice for a bathroom, but I do find it a bit overpowering and a tad powdery. However Coastal Living filled the gap where Sea Air fell short, as "an intriguing mix of salty and sweet, coastal flowers on a warm ocean breeze". It has notes of sea salt, lavender, marine flower, moss and coral musk, and is a really gorgeous scent. It has that underlying coastal accord, but it is mixed with soft florals which make it a deeper, more fresh scent. Sometimes I find marine scents quite overwhelming but this is lovely, and I love the duck egg blue wax.

Overall, my favourites from the collection on first impressions are Coastal Living and Driftwood. In recent years, I've felt like the Yankee Candle new launches have missed the mark for me compared to when I first started getting into the brand around 2014. However, I'm really excited for the next launch, Viva Havana! (which is actually already out as I'm a bit late writing this one), and there are two of the US collections currently on the UK Yankee website: Mediterranean Dreams & Tahiti Escape. I'm very tempted to grab those scents, but I really need to get burning my current collection. I mainly just have tarts and votives, but I've let them accumulate and I go through periods of not burning anything, oops! Make sure you keep an eye on my Empties playlist, as you'll see some of my wax empties there with some of my final thoughts on these scents.

Which do you like the sound of?

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box | AD-Gifted

7 May 2017

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box

The newest box of delights from The Perfume Society is the Latest Launches Discovery Box*, available for  £17.50 (or £12.50 for VIP subscribers), and it brings the Latest Launches feature in their Scented Letter magazine to life, offering the chance for us at home to sample some of the newest scents on the market. The boxes are always great value, but this one particularly so, offering three different purse sprays, as well as six sample vials, and two extra treats too. I actually filmed an unboxing and first impressions of the scents over on my YouTube channel in my Trying New Spring Perfume Launches video, but I've been testing out the scents for a couple of weeks now, and it's time to share my final thoughts on them!

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box

I'm going to start off with the larger scents, and two of which come courtesy of popular British niche fragrance brand Miller Harris. I have only previously tried one Miller Harris scent (Fleurs de Sel), so I was keen to explore more of their range. The first 7.5ml purse spray in the duo is Ètui Noir (from £65 for 50ml), one that I tested in my video, and was intrigued about due to its scent being compared to a seasoned, worn leather jacket. This is a deep, spicy scent with a definite masculine feel. It opens with notes of citrussy bergamot and tangerine, as well as elemi gum (an aromatic resin with a sharp lemon/pine scent), with a heart of Haitian iris butter (iris with yellow blossoms), incense and cashmere wood. The base continues the spicy trail, led by the incense and cashmere wood, with Indonesian Patchouli, Haitian Vetiver, leather, amber, birch and labdanum. This is definitely a spicy, mysterious scent with echoes of tobacco, settling with a wisp of soft iris and labdanum lifting the scent. It's not something I would wear personally, but it's definitely an interesting one and as always, I will keep it in my collection to revisit in the future in case my tastes change.

The light to Ètui Noir's dark is Lumière Dorée (from £65 for 50ml) described as "early morning sunshine, dipped in gold". It is a citrus scent, centred around the note of neroli, and includes many different variants of the uplifting orange flower. The opening is bright, green and sharp, with orange, bergamot and petigrain (bitter orange), followed shortly after by neroli, a note that doesn't play any games here! Softer florals join the parade, with jasmine absolute, and the base is warm and woodsy. There's a mix of vetiver, amber, white musk and velvety cashmere wood, the latter acting as a floralizer to bring out the more feminine side of the neroli and jasmine. Although the scent is piercingly fresh on first spritz,  heavy on the neroli, it does soften over time into a delicate song of orange blossoms on the skin. For me, I love that soft floral nature, but I can't quite get past the true-to-life neroli in the opening. I often called upon neroli essential oil (mixed with sweet almond oil and grapefruit essential oil for the most uplifting facial massage blend) as part of my skincare routine, so in fragrances I like neroli to be more subdued and "blended" into the scent rather than a dominant note. As with Ètui Noir, Lumière Dorée is also a unisex fragrance, and I'd love to see how this wear's with male chemistry - I could imagine the opening would work brilliantly, as it is almost like an amped up cologne-type scent, and I'd like to see how the florals work. This isn't my favourite neroli-type fragrance (at the moment I'm enjoying L'Occitane Neroli & Orchidée, and the softer Chloé Love Story has been a favourite for a while), but it is definitely worth a sniff!

The other "deluxe" sample in the Latest Launches box is a scent yet to be released, E. Coudray Rose Tubéreuse. I'm going to put my hands up and say that tuberose isn't a note I wholly enjoy. I do find it to dominate a perfume, so I wasn't sure how much I'd like Rose Tubéreuse, but this one surprised me immensely! As soon as I smelt it, I was instantly transported back to being about 5 years old, when my Granny and Granddad were down from Scotland, and they had brought these little cinnamon/clove sweets for us. The clove note is dominant to my nose, but it takes on a sweet form, paired with other top notes of bergamot, tangerine, guava, and rhubarb. The heart is a bouquet of ylang ylang, geranium, jasmine and orange blossom, accompanying the perfume's namesakes - rose and tuberose. The fragrance also has a base of patchouli, sandalwood, tonka, vanilla, benzoin and musk. I don't pick up on many other notes besides clove, but as it warms on the skin, the sweet clove scent takes on a more dry balsamic nature, with the patchouli and sandalwood giving it an incense accord. For me, this is a lovely scent to own to bring back those nostalgic memories, and it definitely has a comforting element. I probably wouldn't wear it as a fragrance, but I'll be keeping it on hand as I'd like to come back to it in the future. I feel as though through evoking such memories, it is intensifying that clove note to my nose. I'd like to see whether over time, I will be able to see through that, to allow the tropical fruits and florals to peek through and shine in their own right. My mum did like this one though, and I'm intrigued to see how others perceive this scent!

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box

Moving onto the smaller samples, I'm going to first touch upon Abercrombie & Fitch First Instinct For Women (from £35 for 30ml). This one is a floral scent, opening with a fizzy mix of magnolia, grapefruit and passionfruit, which is the most dominant. The heart is soft and floral, with orange flower, butterfly orchid and water lily, and then moves into a warm base of amber, tonka bean and musk. The tonka bean really packs a punch in First Instinct, reminding me a lot of L'Occitane Terre de Lumiere (which was in the Modern Classics Box that I reviewed here). First Instinct is said to capture the initital attraction between two lovers. To me, I'm not sure I see that, being a warm, sweet, musky floral which is heavy on the tonka. It's not super unique but it's pleasant and wearable, and it isn't at all sickly like a lot of similar scents.

Having never tried any fragrances from the German luxury goods brand, I was very intrigued about Montblanc Lady Emblem Elixir (£54 for 50ml). Following Lady Emblem of 2015, this bold reimagination promises radiant femininity, with top notes of mandarin and sweet lychee and a heart of Damask rose absolute, jasmine and orange blossom. The opening is sparkling, sweet and floral, reminding me very much of something from Marc Jacobs. The thing that really sets this fragrance apart is the base, a juxtaposition against the sweet fruity florals, adding a dry peppery element with spicy patchouli, creamy sandalwood, black pepper and vanilla. Granted, it's not the most unique scent in the world, but if you're a fan of fruity florals, this will be a hit. I don't hate it, and will happily use it, but it's not a standout for me.

I have tried a couple of fragrances from Yardley in the past, and their latest launch is Royal Pink Diamond (£19.99 for 50ml). This is a floral fruity scent, which opens with mandarin, pear, peach and cassis, developing into a pretty bouquet of soft, sweet peony, rose and orange flower and a hint of spicy pepper. The base is soft, with sandalwood, cedar and musk, completing the sparkling, romantic scent, reminiscent of a summer garden. It reminds me a lot of something from Vera Wang, being youthful, radiant and fun. As with Lady Emblem Elixir, it's not the most groundbreaking, but it's a simplistic yet happy scent that will suit fruity floral lovers. My mum really liked it!

The Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box

Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée (from £85 for 50ml) is a scent inspired by French women getting ready for a special evening out ("en tenue de soirée" translates to "in evening dress"). Housed in the most sophisticated bottle, complete with an extravagant purple pompom, the fragrance certainly follows suit. The scent pyramind is minimal, so using my imagination... To my nose, it opens with a soft sugariness, a hint of rich berry and plum, as well as citrus to oppose the chypre base. The heart contains iris, supported by a touch of rose and violet perhaps and there's the spicy patchouli base. It most definitely has the backbones of a chypre fragrance, but it is done in a very modern way. If you were going on a trip to Paris and wanted a special fragrance to commemorate the occasion, this would be great instead of going down the classic Chanel route. It would be the perfect accessory to wear to lavish dinners, trips to the ballet or the theatre, and of course you'll enjoy the sight of the bottle on your dressing table. I've not had much luck with chypre fragrances in the past, they do remind me a bit too much of a greenhouse and aren't all that wearable for me. Thus, I hadn't expected to like Tenue de Soirée, but I actually do quite like it, as it is sophisticated and the chypre notes are well balanced. Definitely one to try if like me, you aren't quite convinced about chypre fragrances!

Shay & Blue Dandelion Fig (from £30 for 30ml) was the scent that I was most excited to try being a huge lover of fig scents. I had never tried anything from Shay & Blue, and Dandelion Fig seemed like a great place to start! It is inspired by an English garden, and opens with dandelion and lemongrass. The dandelion is distinctive, and takes me back to being a child where I'd pick anything and everything in the garden! The tomato vine notes come through intensely, and combined with the dandelion, are some of the dominant notes of the fragrance. If you imagine tomatoes growing in the depths of a warm greenhouse, that's exactly how it comes across in Dandelion Fig. Juniper comes into play to add a musky tone, and finally fig makes an appearance, with its sweetness intensifying on the skin over time. I find fig to be such a multi-faceted note. It's the green-ness, the berry tones and the slightly coconutty, milky nuance that makes it so interesting, and unlike anything else. The fig here is more of a green, under ripe fig, and the scent really does accurately conjure up the image of a garden: earthy, green and ripe, with a bit of a chypre quality about it. It doesn't come close to my favourite fig Diptyque Philosykos and isn't very me, but it certainly is an interesting scent, one you need to smell at least once!

Parfums de Marly is a brand that I hadn't previously heard of, but Delina (£175 for 75ml) truly is a delight! It opens with a fruit cocktail of rhubarb and lychee, mixing with rose to give it a sweet Turkish delight feel (think Lush Rose Jam or Chloé's signature EDP). There's a hint of bergamot and a grating of nutmeg, adding a spicy twist to the feminine floral, before moving into a creamier heart of vanilla and musks. Lastly, there's a base of Haitian Orpur vetiver, cedar, frankincense and cashmerean. Delina is based on King Louis XIV's Perfumed Court (during his reign, there was a high incidence of water spread disease, so bathing was avoided. Instead, they filled French Court with flower petals, and sprayed perfume on the furniture, so much so that it was known as "The Perfumed Court". Read more in this Perfume Society article), and it is truly fit for a beautiful princess trying to find her suitor; youthful, charming, innocent, addictive, alluring. This is a really interesting floral scent, with a lot of depth, whilst being really easy to wear. It's one of my favourites from the box by far!

Onto the extra treats, there's the Weleda Lavender Relaxing Body Oil (£11.95 for 100ml), which smells so dreamy and I can't wait to use it before bed when I want to drift right off to sleep. Then there's The Very Nature Amethyst Rush Fragranced Sachet (£3), which I've enjoyed a lot more than I thought it would! I've popped it in my sock drawer and it gives out a lovely fragrance whenever the drawer is opened. It's a really pretty scent and I'd love to get some for the rest of my drawers. It has a soft, powdery scent of citrus, violet, lily, patchouli and musk. To my nose I can smell a bit of rose in there too.

Overall, this has been a fun box to explore. I haven't liked all of the scents, but I don't ever expect to as I'm extremely fussy when it comes to fragrance. I have however, found a few that I enjoy and will pop into my pot of scents to reach for on the daily. I really enjoyed Parfums de Marly Delina and Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée, and I'll happily use A&F First Instinct and Montblanc Lady Emblem Elixir too. I'll also be passing E. Coudray Rose Tubéreuse and Yardley Royal Pink Diamond over to my mum for her to enjoy. These boxes really do cater for everyone, so you're bound to find at least one scent you'll love, and the Latest Launches box is brilliant value with the three purse spray samples. The Miller Harris duo alone is worth £24 so grab it while you can, particularly if you've got your eye on the Miller Harris or E. Coudray scents for a bargain!
Which scents do you most like the sound of?

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Highlights of April: Gin Festival, Cocktails & Kiehl's | AD-Event

3 May 2017

Highlights of April NottsCocktails Masterclass

It feels as if I've blinked and missed April, how are we now into May? Summer will be here before we know it and I'm SO excited for the warmer weather (Kirstie, you do know you live in England, right?). It's been a while since I did a Monthly Highlights post, so I thought I'd take a look back over the month and share some of my favourite things that I did. I'm actually considering starting a monthly vlog series over on my YouTube channel - not as much pressure as weekly vlogging and means you won't get any of the boring "I'm just gonna sit on my sofa and chat bc my life isn't interesting enough" bits. Just the fun stuff. Watch this space... But for now, here are my Highlights of April in blog form, and you can also catch up with my April Favourites video too, where I'm chatting through all the beauty products I'm loving, and I have a tea favourite and a few Netflix recommendations too!

Highlights of April NottsCocktails Masterclass

Loves Cocktails Masterclass, Nottingham

The first event of the month was popping over to Nottingham for a masterclass with Nick Fox, organiser of Loves Cocktails, at Brass Monkey. After giving us an insight into the festival (which took place between 24th and 30th April, with cocktail-themed events all over the city's bars), we hopped over to Brass Monkey's terrace to to try some yummy cocktails for ourselves. First up (above photo) was my fave, a Tom Collins with a twist, featuring apple juice and thyme syrup alongside Portobello Road gin (Nick's fave). This was a delicious way to enjoy gin, with a sweetness from the apple juice and a herbaceous twist, complementing the botanicals of the gin, which is robust enough to hold its own amongst the strong flavours. Next up was a Pineapple & Basil Margarita, which had a tropical fruit touch that made it perfect for me as I'm not a huge tequila/margarita lover. Lastly there was A Passionate Afternoon, a new concoction including passionfruit, vodka and prosecco with a cherry and mint garnish. Sadly we weren't able to make it to the festival, but I really enjoyed the masterclass and I'll definitely be making the Tom Collins at home!

Kiehl's Leicester Event KiehlsOnWheels Bus

Kiehl's Event, Leicester

In honour of the brand new Kiehl's counter in Highcross Leicester's Debenhams store (yasssssss!), us Leicester blogger's headed down to St Peter's Square where the #KiehlsOnWheels bus was parked up and ready for us with Hannah and Saff from Kiehl's. Sipping on some delicious fruity mocktails from nearby Turtle Bay, we got the opportunity to try some of Kiehl's newest and most popular products, and then we popped over to see the new concession. It was a really fun event and nice to have something beauty-related in Leicester! I wrote a lil blog post here about the event if you want to read more, as well as my recommendations of the products that had caught my eye!

Girlie Night in Nottingham

After a bit of a mix up with the Cocktail Festival dates, I ended up booking a hotel for me and Emmie the night before the Gin Festival, and even though cocktails weren't on the cards as we originally planned, we thought it'd be nice to have a girlie night to catch up. We stayed at Hotel Ibis Nottingham City Centre, which was really affordable and a great location, based in the Hockley/Lace Market area, a mere stone's throw away from restaurants and bars. It was the first time I had stayed in an Ibis hotel, and I was really impressed at the size of the room, facilities and ease. It had everything we needed for a quick and comfortable stay. We decided on Chinese for dinner, and popped just down the road to Mandarin Restaurant and enjoyed a feast of Prawn Toasts (obvs), Salt & Pepper Prawns, Beef in Black Bean Sauce and Sweet & Sour Chicken. And prosecco of course! I was really impressed with the food - everything was piping hot (lukewarm food is such a pet peeve) and delicious, and it's somewhere I'd definitely visit again. Cocktails were a must, so we popped over to The Hockley Arts Club, which Em had been raving about after trying the Drumstick cocktail a while back. I loved the vibe and decor was gorgeous, especially on the top floor which was adorned with cherry blossoms. It was a blogger's dream! I was impressed with their experimental cocktail menu, and I definitely need to head back to try the rest of them!

The Gin Festival Nottingham

The Gin Festival, Nottingham

The next day, it was time to head to The Gin Festival, and after a night of little sleep, gin was far from what I fancied! We stopped off for a bit of brunch at a lovely little spot called Wired Cafe. I had the Posh Breakfast, which was poached eggs, roasted tomatoes and rocket on an English muffin, with added bacon. It was tasty and pretty affordable, and I'd definitely recommend popping in for breakfast! We toddled over to The Nottingham Conference Centre, which was the location of The Gin Festival, and spent the afternoon trying various gins. Thankfully I perked up a bit and let's face it, I couldn't really say no to gin could I! I wrote a full blog post on all the gins I tried, as well as how the Nottingham Gin Festival compared to the Leicester event last year, so you can read that here.

What have been your highlights of the past month?

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