Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster Review

19 May 2018

Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster

I'm going to be honest, Simple isn't a brand I typically look to for skincare. Yes, I used their face wipes to death back when we all thought face wipes was the basis of a legit skincare routine. But for the most part, their fragrance-free products were a little bit too basic for me as I'd prefer to invest a little more into a product with a lovely scent so I could really enjoy the ritual of my evening skincare routine. However when they brought out their Water Boost range last year, it really peaked my interest. When they had a few testers out in Boots, coupled with a half price offer that made them cheaper than a Grande Frap, I just couldn't say no and picked up the Hydrating Booster (£6.99).

As the name suggests, the Water Boost Hydrating Booster is a water based serum, and I had been looking for a great drugstore serum since I got major beef with Botanics for tripling the price of my go-to last year. It is actually marketed as a booster rather than a serum, so you can even mix this product into your moisturiser, which is a method I never thought of doing with a serum. Oils yes, serum no. It does work pretty well, however I do prefer using it alone on my skin, straight after cleansing and toning. You can also use it as a primer too, which I could imagine works quite well due to the slight tackiness that the glycerin gives it.

Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster

The Water Boost Hydrating Booster is a glycerin-based serum, which is a natural ingredient found in fats in our skin. Glycerin is a humectant, which means it attracts moisture where it is topically applied so maintains the skin's barrier to harsh weather conditions. It is effective in treating dryness, and leaves a plump appearance to the skin. It can often draw moisture from the deeper layers of skin however, and so is often paired with other moisturising ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is something that I usually look for in a serum, and unfortunately it is not present in the Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster. That being said, I have still noticed results.

So what does it claim to do? Basically the range aims to tackle the signs of dehydration, including dryness, roughness, tightness, dullness and dehydration lines, in order to give revitalised, supple and dewy skin. I've been through a whole tube, and I can genuinely say I have noticed a difference in my skin (and that's not something I say often). Before I started using the Water Boost Hydrating Booster, my skin wasn't visibly dry, but when I'd apply a matte foundation I definitely noticed some flakiness and dehydration lines. After about 2 months, my skin is a lot more juicy and bouncy, and definitely doesn't have the dryness that I previously had. I used to be a slave to the Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask, which I'd use overnight, but I haven't had to use it in the time that I'd been using the Simple Hydrating Booster, because my skin hasn't been dry! I've also noticed that I've had fewer breakouts too, winner!

Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster

The Water Boost Hydrating Booster comes in a small squeezy plastic tube that is ideal for dropping straight on your face a la Instagram Beauty Guru. Coming from someone who has emptied and repurchased this product, the packaging is really effectively designed so you get minimal wastage of product - you really can squeeze out every last drop! Talking of repruchasing, as you can see from my picture, we own rather a lot of these serums in our household. I bought one, and then within about a week both of my parents had each bought one for themselves (even my Dad who doesn't give a rat's arse about skincare). Then, we snapped up a few more backups while the range was still on half price. Obsessed isn't even the word! Here's what they had to say about it:

"The most effective way to moisturise your skin without using heavy creams, and also amps up the performance of a basic moisturiser." - Mum

"Good." - Dad (don't know what else I was expecting him to say lol)

Overall, I've been so impressed with the Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster, and I'm so glad that I gave it a go despite Simple not being a go-to brand for me. It has fully replaced the Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum for me, and works just as well as some of the pricier serums that I've tried, at a fraction of the cost. I would definitely recommend picking it up, especially if you can find it on offer (it's currently 1/3 off at Superdrug!). I'm definitely keen on exploring the range further, including the Gel Cream and Sleep Quench Moisturiser.

Have you tried any of the Simple Water Boost range?

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Behind The Brew: Adagio Teas

11 February 2018

Adagio Teas have been on my radar for a while, ever since I purchased the IngenuiTEA back in the summer. A few weeks ago, my lovely friend Hayley from Bunny Moonstone kindly offered to send me a few of their teas to try out from her stash, so this is going to be my first impressions of the brand. I mentioned that rooibos and fruit teas were my fave, so I have a mix of those, as well as some flavoured black teas. Make sure you go and check out Hayley's blog, she's written a fab post about Adagio Teas here.

Candy Apple | This first one is a blend of black tea, apple and cinnamon and evokes the classic toffee apple flavours. The apple is not too dissimilar from that of Turkish Apple teas, a favourite flavour of mine, and so I really enjoyed the Candy Apple blend. What really sets this one apart is how well the toffee flavours come through, making it sweet and indulgent and one that I'd love to drink again! | Rating: 5/5

Cranberry | I couldn't find any information on this one on the website, but I found it a bit of an unnatural pairing, as it combines black tea with cranberry flavours. It wasn't unpleasant, but I just didn't find the two flavours to work that well together, almost having a minty bitterness to it. Certainly not my favourite. | Rating 1/5

Vanilla Rooibos | Being a huge lover of rooibos blends, I was eagerly anticipating the first of two in the mix. Vanilla Rooibos combines rich sweet vanlla flavours with the mellow rooibos tea, making it very comforting and nice to drink in the evening as it is caffeine-free. I did enjoy this one, but it wasn't a patch on the second rooibos tea, which I'll talk about in a minute. | Rating: 3/5

Pumpkin Spice | I have a penchant for all things pumpkin spice, even when it's not PSL season, so I was really excited to try a pumpkin spice tea! This one is again a black tea blend, mixed with sweet pumpkin and spices such as ginger, clove, cinnamon and cardamom. The spices made this tea quite similar to a chai blend, and the pumpkin added a nice richness that made this a lovely and cosy winter brew. | Rating: 4/5

Rooibos Nutcracker | Certainly saving the best til last, this loose leaf tea is a classic rooibos laden with indulgent apple, hazelnut, caramel and cocoa. It has a soft, nutty caramel flavour to it that really compliments the golden rooibos base, as well as being sweet and well-rounded. It really does feel festive, and sadly it's a limited edition blend, but it was defiinitely my favourite out of the lot so I'm trying to savour it! | Rating: 5/5

I really enjoyed testing out Adagio Tea's blends (thanks to Hayley, go and check her out!). The clear favourite was the Rooibos Nutcracker, followed by Candy Apple. I thought the Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Rooibos teas were nice but probably not ones I'd buy a whole box of, and then Cranberry was my least fave. Adagio Teas have a huge variety of teas on their website, and the great thing is that you can order samplers which are so affordable and means you can try a couple of different types before committing to ordering a full box. If you don't already own the IngenuiTEA (from £18), it's an absolute game-changer when it comes to making mess-free loose leaf tea. I literally recommend it to everyone I meet!

Benefit BADgal BANG! Mascara Review | AD-Gifted

10 February 2018

Post contains PR samples kindly gifted by Benefit Cosmetics for consideration. This post is not sponsored.

Benefit BADgal BANG mascara review - Curated by Kirstie is a Leicester beauty, fragrance + gluten free food blogger

When I first tried it back in 2013, Benefit They're Real was the mascara that changed all mascaras for me, and I have repurchased it a record number of times since then. I've also enjoyed Roller Lash, so I tipped Benefit as being a pretty solid option when it comes to mascara. The only one I happened not to enjoy was the original BADgal, so I was really intrigued when I saw that their latest launch was to be an updated version, BADgal BANG!* (£22). As I'd rated Benefit's more recent mascara offerings highly, it's pretty safe to say I had high expectations for this one.

Packaging wise, BADgal BANG! certainly makes an impact. It retains the signature black and pink from the original BADgal, giving it a modern update with that fun twist that Benefit are known for. The design is sleek, with a texturised rubber grip reminiscent of the grip on the Essence Lash Princess line. I love anything textured, and it really does give you extra control of the wand and enhances the experience. The packaging is made out of a similar rubberised material to that of the NARS compacts, which does have the tendency to get dirty in your makeup bag. 

Benefit BADgal BANG mascara review - Curated by Kirstie is a Leicester beauty, fragrance + gluten free food blogger

The huge natural bristle brush of the original has been updated to a plastic wand, which I was excited to see as it has been a firm preference since trying They're Real. The Slimpact tip is thin and tapered, with a long wand for precision, and took testing around 60 different wands before finding the perfect one. The wand also means you can get from root to tip of the lashes to get a good amount of length.

The formula is where BADgal BANG! really shines however, and it's not just a case of style over substance. The name is inspired by the fact that the formula incorporates aero-particles, one of the lightest materials and is derived from space technology. This gives a really lightweight feel to the lashes, despite packing in bags of volume. It barely feels like you're wearing mascara!

Benefit BADgal BANG mascara review - Curated by Kirstie is a Leicester beauty, fragrance + gluten free food blogger

This mascara certainly does come with a bang. One coat is perfect for daytime but it layers up to give some serious volume, as if the first coat acts like a primer. It almost has a tacky feel to the formula, so the next coat really sticks to it and gives amazing volume. It really is something that I have never seen in a mascara! I've also found it to hold a curl really well, which I think is testament to the lightweight formula.

One thing that I really love about this mascara is that it is the blackest of black. It has a really intense pigment to it, and is perfect for finishing off a dark makeup look. As someone who skips the false eyelashes, I often find that my lashes just get lost amongst the darker eye look. With a few coats of BADgal BANG!, it helps my lashes stand out like false lashes would.

Benefit BADgal BANG mascara review - Curated by Kirstie is a Leicester beauty, fragrance + gluten free food blogger

The only downside to this mascara is that it is rather on the clumpy side. If you're careful, you can manage a single clump-free coat, but when you start to build it up that's where things can get a bit clumpy. Luckily the way the wand is designed means that you can separate out the lashes but if you're into a really defined look you may want to stick with Roller Lash. Another thing to bear in mind is that the wet formula is quite messy. It takes a while to dry so isn't the one if you're prone to doing your makeup when you're running out the door (as I often do).

Overall, I am pretty impressed with BADgal BANG! As with They're Real, I feel like it won't be for everyone, but it is definitely one to try if you love mascaras that really pack a punch with volume. It doesn't let the side down on the length front either, thanks to the wand, and holds a curl nicely. It's definitely a great option for a night time mascara, but it might be a little too OTT for day time. I don't think it quite replaces They're Real for me however, which I find gives just as much volume, but is less messy.

Have you tried BADgal BANG? What's your favourite mascara?

All The Nostalgic Feels With Ghost The Fragrance | AD-Gifted

31 January 2018

Ghost was one of the very first fragrances I ever loved, after receiving it in a miniature set for Christmas aged 15, and it soon became my everyday perfume for school, until I finished up my mini bottle. For some reason, I never thought to buy myself a full bottle, until I caught myself thinking about it again recently.

The self-titled Ghost fragrance was launched back in 2000 in an era where fruity florals were aplenty. Despite being named so, Ghost actually only contains a single fruity note, among a cloud of soft florals and base notes, to create an ethereal timeless floral scent. Composed by Michael Almairac, Ghost contains top notes of rose and jasmine, both notes which would usually feature in the heart of a fragrance. Similarly, the heart is fruity, which would typically be in the top notes. This interesting structure challenges the typical fruity/citrus top notes, and floral heart, and I think gives Ghost more of a airy, ethereal quality, with each note merging with the next to create an aura of fragrance.

Ghost opens with rose, which is the dominant note of the fragrance. Despite omitting citrus notes, Ghost still manages to portray a clean feeling, and isn't any way base-heavy. It certainly has a sweetness to it, and does have a Turkish delight element, but unlike many fragrances of recent years, it isn't overly sickly or sugary.  The vanilla gives a gorgeous cuddly soft feel to the floral fragrance, and combined with a soft fuzzy peach, warm amber, sandalwood and musk, it has almost a marshmallow cloud effect. It is soft, delicate, romantic and feminine, qualities which are mirrored by the hourglass shape of the bottle. The scent is distinctive and unique in comparison to rose soliflores, and it offers something a little different if you are looking for a rose-based fragrance.

Overall, Ghost is a pretty everyday fragrance that would be suitable for all ages, from teens wanting their first Fragrance to those who want a lighter alternative to the classic floral scents. It would make for the perfect office scent as it is inoffensive  and not overpowering. That being said, when I wore it recently, I could smell it on my skin for most of the day, like I had a delicious rose-vanilla cloud around me. It's so gorgeous that you don't even need to be a huge floral lover (I'm not at all!) to enjoy this. Ghost fragrances in general are also extremely well priced, and you can almost always find them on offer, so they are well worth picking up!

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Review | AD-Gifted

17 January 2018

Disclaimer: This post contains some items that were PR samples kindly sent by Maybelline (*) and some purchased by me.

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick Review - Curated By Kirstie is a Leicester Beauty, Fragrance and Gluten Free Blogger.

The Maybelline SuperStay Matte Inks (£8.99) launched a few months ago in the UK, following their debut in the US markets. I had seen a lot of talk about these from YouTubers across the pond, with mixed reviews, and after not loving Maybelline's previous matte liquid lipstick attempt (the Vivid Matte Liquids), the Matte Inks weren't really on my radar when they launched over here. That's not to say I wasn't intrigued, and the bright packaging certainly caught my attention. Maybelline really kindly sent over a surprise package of four of the shades in the SuperStay Matte Ink range, and two shades in particular really surpassed my expectations, so much so that I have since purchased FOUR more shades. That's how much I adore this formula!

I was very apprehensive about the scent of these seeing as I had issues with the Vivid Matte Liquids having a strongly perfumed scent and taste, but I was pleasantly surprised with these as it has a vanilla scent. The applicator isn't your standard doe-foot, it is more of a flat teardrop shape with a reservoir in the centre which holds the product. This means you can easily apply a good layer to the lips which is best for these liquid lipsticks rather than applying a small amount at a time. You can also get a really precise edge with this applicator, which is perfect with the bolder shades.

The formula is really interesting, and it really reminds me of the Vivid Lacquers (which I reviewed in this post). It is highly pigmented, and has a slightly tacky feel. I was surprised to find this quite comfortable on the lips, and it is this texture that makes these liquid lipsticks budge-proof. It applies with almost a glossy finish, but this dries down within a couple of minutes to a matte finish. It feels really comfortable on the lips, and stays put for a surprising amount of time. I have worn these all day without having to top up, and they even withstand a burger! Because they are so budge-proof, I would recommend using an oil-based makeup remover to take them off at the end of the day. 

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick Review - Curated By Kirstie is a Leicester Beauty, Fragrance and Gluten Free Blogger.

Creator* instantly caught my eye and didn't take long for it to be on my lips. It is a stunning orchid purple shade that is a lot brighter than I am used to, but it is completely unlike anything else in my collection. I'm really excited to wear this in the summer. It's such an eye-catching shade!

Then I have the shade Escapist*, which looks a lot lighter in the tube as it actually comes out as a blackened plum on the lips. It is easily the darkest lipstick shade I've ever worn in my life, and is something I'd usually be scared of. Quite often, liquid lipstick formulas are great until you come to the darker shades, and I've had to declutter so many beautiful deep colours because they were patchy and wore really badly on the lips. This is where the Matte Ink formula really shines: its long-lasting nature made even this super dark shade fuss-free and I didn't have to top it up all day!

Heroine* looks like an orangey red in the tube, but is more of a neon pinky coral on the lips. That one isn't really my favourite, as I'd have preferred the orangey red that I was expecting. I haven't worn it much yet, but I think it will be nice to wear in the summer for a pop of colour on the lips. I'm not much into pinks, so I did end up passing on Romantic* to a friend who I thought would appreciate it more than me.

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick Review - Curated By Kirstie is a Leicester Beauty, Fragrance and Gluten Free Blogger.

Then onto the shades I purchased. After seeing how good the formula was, I was desperate for a red, so I picked up Pioneer. I was after a pillar-box bright red for the festive season, however the only option was this deeper red. I have worn it a good few times and find that it's become my go-to red liquid lipstick, surpassing the Rimmel Provocalips in Kiss Me You Fool which used to be my holy grail. 

I also couldn't resist the darker burgundy shade, Voyager which is a perfect match for the colour of my winter coat. I haven't worn it as much as Pioneer, but it is still a gorgeous deep shade when I don't want anything as intense as Escapist.  

Lover is perhaps the most underwhelming out of the shades that I have, but it is still a lovely colour, being a deep rosy shade, which is similar to my natural lip colour. It's really nice however to have such a long-wearing nude shade, and as it is so comfortable, I almost forget I have it on my lips.

Last year, I tried a cool toned lilac liquid lipstick from Primark. I loved the shade but I found it dried a lot darker, and ended up not being the shade that I wanted. I had been after the perfect lilac lipstick, and Philosopher seemed like it fit the bill perfectly. However I'm not a fan of this one on the lips, as it is a lot more blue-toned that I expected and it doesn't flatter my skin tone.

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick Review - Curated By Kirstie is a Leicester Beauty, Fragrance and Gluten Free Blogger.

At £8.99, they are at the top end of the drugstore prices. Unless there was an offer, I'm not sure how likely I would have been to purchase these off the bat, however now that I have tried them and seen how consistently incredible the formula is, I wouldn't hesitate to add more to my collection. I probably would feel the same if they are 3x the price.

Overall, I absolutely love the Maybelline SuperStay Matte Inks. They're easily some of the best liquid lipsticks I have ever tried, and are now some of my most-reached for lipsticks. I've never really felt comfortable using dark lipsticks as I find them quite messy and patchy, but this formula has given me the freedom to wear dark shades without getting them on my chin. I'm definitely going to be picking up a couple more shades, particularly the deep purple shade Believer. I would definitely recommend trying these for yourself! 

Have you tried the Maybelline SuperStay Matte Inks?

Cotswold Candle Co. Lemon Leaf & Rose | AD-Gifted

4 January 2018

Plus a fresh new look for the brand!

Cotswold Candle Co Lemon Leaf Rose

One of my favourite candle discoveries of recent years is the Cotswold Candle Co. White Mulberry (review), which has become my go-to spring scent. After two years shaking up the independent candle market, Cotswold Candle Co. have undergone a rebrand and are back with a sleek and minimal new look. It brings a fresh new logo that really sets them apart and makes the brand feel iconic. Gone are the glass jars, and they are replaced by a sleek white ceramic offering. I feel like this would work so well amongst a multitude of interiors, and it suits my bedroom colour scheme of white and pink down to a tee.

Cotswold Candle Co old vs new packaging
L>R: Old packaging, new packaging

Costwold Candle Co.
is the brainchild of Polly Oswald, and came about after she moved to a farmhouse in The Cotswolds. She saw a gap in the market for affordable home fragrance products that smell beautiful without a compromise on quality, unlike many mass market brands. Inspired by an article on candle making, she spent over a year testing out waxes, wicks and fragrances, and came up with a wardrobe of timeless scents, evocative of the English countryside. To this day, Polly still hand pours every candle from the workshop at the end of her garden, and sources every component from the UK.

With an aim to provide a slice of everyday luxury, Cotswold Candle Co. use wooden wicks (a rarity in such an affordable brand) to give a softly crackling sound. The larger wick also means the candles pool in a quicker time, giving a cleaner burn. After trial and error, Polly selected a blend of soy and mineral waxes, which gives the best scent throw whilst keeping carbon emissions to a minimum. These candles certainly don't mess around with their throw, both of the ones that I have tried have been wonderfully strong.

Cotswold Candle Co Lemon Leaf Rose

Lemon Leaf & Rose

"An exhilarating, fresh fragrance sure to be everyone's favourite, combining zingy lemon Leaf with sensual soft rose and hints of musk. A scintillating scent that we can't get enough of".

Rose is often a bit of a funny one for me as I love the fresher Centifolia/May rose notes, but struggle with deep and powdery Damask rose scents. Lemon Leaf & Rose* (£20 for 35 hours burn time) however is lovely, getting that balance perfectly right, managing to be both fresh and light, but also rich and comforting at the same time with its nostalgic quintessentially English rose scent. Lemon Leaf & Rose is the perfect blend, balancing a sensual musky rose with uplifting citrus notes of lemon leaf and bergamot, which give the fragrance a wonderful freshness. I find it is an extremely versatile scent, as it would suit a relaxing bedroom atmosphere, but would be an equally great addition to my desk too. The candle has a brilliant scent throw, easily fragrancing the whole of my upstairs.

I'm so excited about this new chapter for Cotswold Candle Co. as the updated look really makes them memorable. The combination of the beautiful fragrances, incredible scent throws, and the branding really fulfills Polly's aim of affordable everyday luxury. If you're a lover of floral scents, these certainly are the candles for you as they do them better than any other brand I've tried. They have all your Spring candle needs covered, and are definitely one to keep in mind for Mother's Day gifting later on this year too!

What is your favourite candle scent?

- Post contains PR samples (*) - 

Makeup to Perk Up Dull, Dry Winter Skin | Gifted

3 January 2018

We've had our first few flutters of snow, so it's official: winter is well and truly here. I love the cold weather, Christmas and snuggling up in cosy jumpers, but the one downside to winter is the effect it has on the skin. I think we've all experienced our skin getting drier because of exposure to harsh weather conditions and then wacking the heating on inside. It's all a bit of a shock to the system, and even more irritating when you find that your usual beauty products aren't looking the way they usually do. I thought I would come up with an edit of products that are great to for dull, dry winter skin.

Makeup to Perk up dull, dry winter skin

Starting off with complexion products, of course hydration is key so making sure your moisturiser game is strong is paramount. The Estée Lauder The Illuminator Primer* is amazing for adding an extra dose of hydration as it feels like a second layer of moisturiser. As the name suggests, it is also packed full of pearly pigments which give a lit from within glow to the skin. I love to use this around the perimeters of my face which tend to be the driest. For lazier days, I really enjoy using a tinted moisturiser as it doesn't suck all the life out of your face the way that a heavy matte foundation does. The La Roche Posay Effeclar Duo+ Unifiant* has a light coverage to even out the skin whilst looking really light and fresh.

Makeup to Perk up dull, dry winter skin

The cold really has a habit of sucking all the colour from the complexion (unless you're faithful to the faux glow) so a great bronzer really is your best friend this time of year. One of my best beauty discoveries this year has been the Lord & Berry Cream Bronzer*. I have the shade Amber Medium, which I believe is the lightest, and this is perfect for warming up the skin. I apply with the buffing brush that I use with my foundation and it just blends so seamlessly into the skin, adding depth and dimension. It adds a lovely sheer sunkissed glow to the skin, although it is quite warm-toned so wouldn't be so good for contouring (I really hope they bring out come contouring shades in the same formula!). It's so easy to apply and blend out that you could do it with your eyes closed (although don't hold me to that!).

Makeup to Perk up dull, dry winter skin

I'm not always faithful to blush, but in the winter I find it makes such a difference to the way your skin looks. It actually makes you look fresh and healthy and not y'know, dead... The Lord & Berry Cream Blush* in Orchid has that gorgeous berry tint that fakes that 'just been out in the cold' flush (not that we need to fake it in this weather!). On my fair skin, this shade is seriously pigmented so I have to go in with a really light hand (In hindsight I should have gone for a lighter shade but I couldn't resist that berry hue). I apply onto the apples of my cheeks with my fingertips and blend out with a beauty blender if I've gone a bit too OTT. Both this and the bronzer have a similar formula, delivering soft and sheer pigment without being heavy or greasy on the skin. I also really enjoy the Glossier Cloud Paint formula, which is a doddle to apply with your fingers and the shade Dusk is the perfect no-blush blush shade to liven up dull winter skin.

You really can't afford to say no to the glow in the winter, and I need all the help I can get. The Glossier Haloscope has been my cream glow-giver of choice, and the shade Quartz adds a stunning champagne-hued sheen to the high points of the face. Patted on with the fingertips, it just makes your makeup look so much more natural and takes away the 'mask' that foundation can often give. The Haloscope formula also contains a core of coconut oil, so it doesn't dry out the skin like a powder highlighter can.

Makeup to Perk up dull, dry winter skin

The icing on the cake (mmm cake...) is lipstick and with the harsh weather drying out the lips, sometimes you just can't deal with a matte liquid lipstick that is going to give you that cat's butthole look. I like my winter lipsticks to multi-task, so choose hydrating sheer types that feel like a lip balm but also add a nice hint of colour. My favourites are the ever-luxurious Chanel Rouge Coco Shine (in shade Boy) and the YSL Rouge Volupté Shine* (in Nude Lavalliere), but a great budget option is the Essence Sheer & Shine Lipstick, which is just £2! I have quite a few shades now and I've been wearing 09 I Feel Pretty a ton recently as it has a lovely deep rosy shade that works really well in the winter, but my all time favourite is All About Cupcake which is a lovely peachy colour and has unfortunately been discontinued.

What are your favourite makeup products to use when it's cold?

- Post contains PR samples (*) - 

13 Beauty Products I Will NOT Buy In 2018

2 January 2018

Over the past year, I've really made an effort to downsize my makeup collection. I also set myself two month long Spending Ban challenges, and these two things have really make me think about the products that give me joy, and those that don't. It makes sense to fill my collection with things that I love, and hold off on spending money on things that I'm not really into. Now, I'm incredibly selective about the products that I purchase, and I don't want to waste my money this year. Here are 13 products that I vow not to purchase over the next 12 months...

Products I Will not buy in 2018

1) Nail Polish | I think I only purchased 2 nail polishes (one of which I swiftly decluttered as it was disappointing) in 2017, which was great. I did a really big nail polish purge and now only have a small collection. However I don't ever really paint my nails, so I just don't really need to be adding to that collection.

2) Bath Bombs | I never really had an interest in Lush prior to blogging, and as soon as I moved back to a house with a bath I stocked up on aaaall the bath bombs in the Boxing Day Sale (read the haul post). I was so chuffed to get such a bargain, but I had no idea that bath bombs had an expiry. They only really retain their fizz for about 6 weeks, so you can imagine 6 months later when I returned to my stash that I was very disappointed indeed. Since then, I have bought a few and forgotten about then, and this year I'm determined not to do the same! I do enjoy the Lush Bubble Bars, because they stay relatively fresh for as long as a year, but I still struggle to use them up as I always forget to treat myself to a bath. I had such a big stash and ended up binning most of it. I do have a few bubble bars left, as well as a stash of gorgeous Aromatherapy Associates bath oils, which I will be including in this year's project pans so I don't end up wasting them.

3) Hand Cream | Although I used up a couple in my 17 in 2017 Project Pan, hand cream isn't something I really use on the regular. I have a couple in my stash at the moment, and as it's not something that I'm overly excited about, I'm not really interested in adding to my collection. I'd like to get down to just one or two hand creams this year.

4) Candles | I have SO many candles - a ridiculous amount, and I go through phases of being really into them and burning them all the time, and not be able to bear any additional scent in my home. I've found some really gorgeous candles over the past year (and you can win a M&J London Candle in this post!) and I'd like to enjoy them rather than adding to my collection. I would like to burn through some of them that I don't have so much of an attachment and then treat myself at the end of the year to a few that I've been meaning to try from the likes of Diptyque and The White Company.

Products I Will not buy in 2018

5) Mascara | I have SO many mascaras to be used, many of which are still in their boxes. Mascara only has a very short shelf life, so I'm determined to only have a maximum of 2 mascaras open at once this year. I really do not need to add any to my collection at the moment - mostly because it really is pointless having a mascara collection. I probably have enough mascara to last the whole of the year, so I won't need to purchase any during 2018.

6) Face Scrub | When I was filming my Winter Skincare Declutter, my stash ended up being quite minimal, except for my scrubs category. I have quite a few, and all of them I liked, so I couldn't justify getting rid of any of them. However it is a product that I rarely use as part of my routine, so I would really like to make a dent in the ones that are already in my stash before I can even think about buying any more.

7) Strongly Scented Lipsticks | L'Oréal lipsticks in particular just have such a strongly perfumed smell and taste, and it really puts me off using them. The same goes for any other brands with a similar scent, like Max Factor. I know Chanel lipsticks also have quite a strong scent too, but somehow I can bear those. Why can't all brands use a nice vanilla scent? There's a reason why we don't eat perfume!

8) Lip Gloss | I just don't really like lip gloss that much, and I utterly despise sticky glosses. Although I've found a few lovely glosses that aren't so sticky (the Benefit Ultra Plush ones and the Maybelline Baby Lips glosses are some of my favourites), I just don't reach for glosses as much as standard bullet or liquid lipsticks so there's not a lot of point buying any more of them.

Products I Will not buy in 2018

9) Bronzers | Over the past year, I've come to the realisation that a lot of bronzers simply don't work with my pale skin, and I have to use such a light hand that I would never finish one (it took me a year to hit pan on a mini Benefit Hoola in my project pan!). I tried using a lighter bronzer about halfway through 2017 and preferred it immensely. I've found a few that I really enjoy, including the lightest quarter of the Clarins bronzer pictured, as well as the Physician's Formula Light Butter Bronzer, and I'm happy to stick to those. I just don't feel the need to try any new bronzers at the moment.

10) Blushers | Another category that just doesn't excite me is blush. I don't always wear it, and so I'm not really making any progress on working through my collection. I have a good variety of shades already, and don't really need any more. I have however been really into cream blush, particularly the Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk, and I would at some point like to add Beam into my collection. I'll be trying to pan a peachy cream blush this year, so I plan to treat myself to the Glossier one once that one goes!

11) Creamy/glossy Dark Lipsticks | I like my darker lipsticks to be as matte and long lasting as they come, and so have no place in my collection for overly creamy or glossy dark or bright lipsticks. I just find that they tend to smear everywhere and be quite messy,  which just annoys me.

12) Bright Pink lip colours | From doing my declutters over the last year, the one lip shade that I really don't have a love for is bright pink. It just doesn't feel very me, and I very rarely reach for that kind of shade. I won't be buying any lipsticks this colour this year, and if I get sent any I'm going to pass them straight on rather than keeping them to Swatch, go in my drawer then in the declutter pile 6 months later.

13) False Lashes | They're not my thing, and they're never going to be my thing. It's the one beauty product that I'm really not arsed about. If I do wear lashes (a token once a year!), they will be the Ardell accent lashes which are probably the only ones I actually like!

Is there anything that you don't want to spend money on this year?

Sweet Beginnings | Hello 2018 & Blog Goals! | AD

1 January 2018

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. It's always nice to reflect and set goals at the start of the year, and kick things off with a positive start. I was inspired to write this post by the name of the Sweet Beginnings candle* from M&J London, which I will talk more about in the second half of this post. The brand have also really kindly given one of my readers the chance to win their own Sweet Beginnings candle, so they can start 2018 in the most fragrant way possible. Make sure you keep reading to the end of the post to find out how to win!

M&J London Sweet Beginnings Candle

Blog Goals

Being consistent | That goes for blog posts, YouTube videos, and Instagram mainly, and I think that's going to help more in the stats department than setting potentially unachievable numerical goals.

Engage more with other bloggers | I've felt a little out of touch with the blogging community as of late, and I've found it harder and harder to get involved with conversations etc on Twitter, so I'd really like to get that back. I also would like to try and go to more events this year to connect with more local bloggers too.

Support other bloggers | I'm putting this in this category rather than engage, because I'd really like to comment more on other bloggers content to support them rather than to drive engagement back to my own content. I mean, that would be nice, but it shouldn't be the main motivator in leaving comments, which I feel has become the norm, especially due to things like the instagram algorithm and comment pods. I also want to share my favourite blogs more often.

Refine my content | I feel like I've made big steps in refining my niche over 2017. As well as being fragrance focused, I realised minimalism was a big part of my content, and it especially became a bit part in my YouTube channel. It really shaped my attitude towards my beauty content, having an emphasis on not wasting your money on products that aren't worth the hype. In 2018, I plan to balance my content, particularly on my blog, more equally between beauty, fragrance and lifestyle. Despite having a year of much preferring YouTube, I'm feeling really positive and excited for blog content.

Be more organised | I'm getting off to a good start as I've already planned a chunk of my content for 2018, and I have created a spreadsheet to help me keep track of PR Samples, blog posts and videos. I really hope this method will help in the long run to keep me that bit more organised throughout the year, and act as a to-do list to keep me motivated!

M&J London Sweet Beginnings Candle

Maintain brand relationships | I really want improve my relationships with relevant brands and PRs this year, and really stay on top of emails. My main aim with brands in 2018 is to work with those which are more relevant to my blog and my personal values, and I would like to get better at declining collaborations which don't align with this. I would love to continue to work with beauty and skincare brands, as well as more perfume brands, and potentially tea and gin brands too!

Continuing my minimalist journey | Of course I am making progress in this area through decluttering and minimising my purchases in various areas, but PR samples play a bit part in this as I only want to dedicate space to items I really love. I really want to put an emphasis on "would I buy from this brand with my own money?", as I don't want to accept products that I know aren't my cup of tea. Part of this ties in with my previous point about rejecting collaborations, and something I find particularly tricky is saying no to brands.

Maintaining my integrity | This is something that I felt like I did really well in 2017. I have been extremely honest in my reviews, whether its in an empties video saying I regret buying a product, or pointing out negative points in a full review. There have been times when every other blogger has given fully positive reviews of a product, but I'm glad I've been able to voice my opinions in a fair and balanced way. I really try not to give in to fear of offending a brand (particularly if it is a new or small brand!) or worse, being struck off a PR list. Be honest is so much more important. I'd much rather read a balanced review than one only pointing out the positives, as long as it is written in a professional and respectful manner.

Stand my ground with brands | Whether it is saying no to a collaboration that doesn't quite fit, or suggesting a fee, something I really want to do better is being more assertive. I don't want to be taken advantage of when it comes to fees, or follow links and I would like to be more upfront. Although it would help if brands that want do-follow links for $20, or dodgy "guest posters" didn't contact me in the first place, y'know? I recently revamped my media kit and I need to put it to good use this year!

Improve my fragrance knowledge | This year I really want to become more involved in the fragrance community and really improve my knowledge. I will be writing more frequent perfume reviews, as well as reviewing some fragrance books, and I would like to be able to speak more eloquently about fragrance (although it would help if I could actually string a sentence together in the first place), as well as improving my descriptions.

M&J London Sweet Beginnings Candle

Sweet Beginnings

Browsing through M&J London's extensive catalogue of fragrances, it is evident that most are inspired by different countries around the world, and the scents you encounter whilst visiting them. However, Sweet Beginnings is a little different. It is all about "the thrill of embarking on a new chapter in life", which is particularly fitting for the new year, in which we typically see as a clean slate, and the phrase "new year, new you" is thrown around like there's no tomorrow. Vom. Many of M&J London's candles are distinctive in scent, enveloping you in the fragrance of a far off land, but Sweet Beginnings is all about gentle comfort. Although it is one of the more subtle candles it still has a lovely scent throw, giving off the relaxing fragrance of lavender, manuka honey and cocoa. It is like a snuggly blanket, easing you gently into the unknown (in this case, the new year), as if it is telling you "you can do it!". 

I find Sweet Beginnings extremely calming, and makes for the perfect soft bedroom scent, particularly good also for sending you into a slumber because of the lavender note. Lavender scents on their own can often be a bit sharp and herbal, but this is perfect as the honey and cocoa cocoon around the lavender to create a perfectly balanced smooth, creamy scent. If you want something relaxing, but don't enjoy the typical aromatherapy type scents, this could also be a great option for you. I like to switch up my candles throughout the year, and M&J London have me covered for most seasons (I particularly love English Summer (review)and Bavarian Winter for their respective seasons), but Sweet Beginnings certainly is appropriate for all year round. It also really evokes feelings of spring and Easter, which is probably the cocoa talking!

As always, M&J London candles are available in two sizes, with the smaller (£23) giving up to 30 hours of scent and the larger (£35) up to 60. Every step of the brand is driven by their ethical conscience, and they wanted to ensure that as well as delivering a luxurious product, it is produced in the UK in the most sustainable and ethical way possible. From the packaging certified by World Land Trust, and the recycled glass jars (which you too can re-purpose as drinking glasses), as well as the soy wax used, environmental impact is minimised. That in no way compromises the quality, as soya wax gives a superior burn, and the lead-free wick reduces sootiness. M&J London also give a small percentage of the cost of each candle to UK based charity nia, which provides support to women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse.

The Giveaway!

As I mentioned before, the lovely people at M&J London have given me the chance to share the beautiful scent of Sweet Beginnings with one reader, who will hopefully love it just as much as I do! The winner will receive one large Sweet Beginnings candle, which has a retail value of £35. There are a variety of entry methods, some mandatory and some extra, as outlined in the Rafflecopter widget below.

This giveaway will be UK only, and it will remain open from 1st January 2018 for three weeks until 22nd January 2018 23.59 GMT. The winner will be drawn at random using the Rafflecopter widget providing the entries have been completed correctly, and notified via email on the 23rd January. The winner will be given 28 days to respond, to keep it fair and in line with current guidelines. In the event that the winner does not respond within this timeframe, a new winner will be chosen. I will pass on the winner's details to my contact at M&J London, who will be responsible for sending out the prize. As always, I never discriminate against compers and you are more than welcome to enter any giveaway on this blog.

Good luck!

- This post contains PR samples (*) -

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