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Nail art - Gift wrapped nails

I've been wanting to give this look a try for a while now but have been waiting for my stripping tapes to arrive.  I knew they weren't going to arrive quickly as I ordered then from American but I was pretty disappointed when I received an email letting me know they'd just been dispatched 2 weeks after I'd placed the order!  They then took another 2 weeks to arrive.

I've been looking for some bow nail decals or stickers for a while now for the bow for this design but I haven't been able to find any good ones, or ones that don't come in a set with a load of other designs that I don't really like so probably wouldn't use.  I do did have a black nail art pen so I thought I would try drawing the bow on free hand but when I went to use the pen I discovered the nib has apparently broken and it just started continuously pumping out black varnish all over the place.  So that was the end of that idea!  The only other nail art pen I have at the moment is a white one so I had to resort to using to using that. I didn't want a white bow as the 'ribbon' is black but I don't think it looks too bad.  If you know where I can get hold of some reasonably priced bows to use for this look please let me know.

I wanted to use a base shade that was pretty and sparkly, like pretty wrapping paper, so I decided to go for Illamasqua's Seance which is a gorgeous shimmery pink.  Apart from that I just used a strengthening base coat, Seche Vite top coat, black stripping tape and a white Joyme nail art pen.  

I know I may get shot down for mentioning Christmas as everyone seems to have gone Christmas crazy recently and it's only September but this would be a fab design to wear around Christmas time with Christmasy colours maybe in red and green or something like snowy silver and icy blue. 

What do you think of my gift wrap design?
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Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot translucent mattifying powder

If you follow me here or on Twitter you may have noticed that I've recently become a bit of a Soap & Glory fan and I'm gradually working my way through trying every single last one some of their products.  I had both One Heck of a Blot and Glow All Out on my wishlist, so when I spotted that Boots has an offer for two Soap & Glory makeup products for £15 a few weeks back I grabbed both.  As One Heck of a Blot is £12 and Glow All Out is £11 this means I got Glow for just £3 or Blot for just £4 or both for just £7.50 each, depending on how you want to look at it. Bargain!

As usual with Soap & Glory the packaging is quirky with some retro imagery.  This comes in a plastic pot which feels reasonably sturdy and includes a large mirror, which is always good for touch-ups or just to have in your bag for checking teeth for trapped food emergencies.  It says on the packaging that it includes a puff, but I would call this more of a sponge than a puff.  Puff's are thicker and fluffier?  More like what the lady on the packaging is holding, the sort of thing you might get with a loose powder.  I believe Soap & Glory have just started introducing some new packaging for their body and skincare ranges but I'm not sure if the packaging of the makeup range will be changing as well. 

This is described as a super-translucent mattifying powder for all skin types and I had very high expectation of this after reading reviews from oily skin sufferers claiming it kept their skin oil-free all day.  I used to suffer with oily skin when I was younger but as I've got older my skin has definitely changed and now most of my face is dry.  For whatever reason my chin has remained oily and this is where I occasionally suffer from awful breakouts.  At the moment I usually use a powder foundation, so don't really have to worry about using a powder over the top, but I often find that within a couple of hours my chin has started to become oily and my makeup is slipping off.  So I wanted a good powder to try and stop this happening and to help mattify liquid foundation when I do use it as I'm not really one for the dewy look.

The first couple of times I used this I have to say I was slightly disappointed that it didn't take much longer than usual for my chin to become oily and my makeup to start shifting.  However, the next couple of times I used this it appeared to work really well and my chin didn't become oily for much longer, if at all.  So I'm not sure why sometimes it appears to work well and other times not so well.  I've been using a brush to apply this but it does say on the packaging to pat it on, so I may try this instead using the puff/sponge.

Even if this hasn't necessarily helped to solve my oily chin problems I do really like this as a powder.  It really does set my makeup well and matte down liquid foundations and although it's translucent I also find it kind of tones down any foundations that are slightly too dark for me (super pale girl problems!).

Are you a fan of the Soap & Glory makeup range?
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Urban Decay Revolution lipstick - Catfight

The beauty world has gone a little crazy for Urban Decay's brand new Revolution lipsticks.  As soon as I saw the packaging I knew I wanted to give one a try.  I know, don't judge a book (or lipstick) by it's cover and all that but if a product has good looking packaging that looks good quality then I'm attracted to it, especially if it's a lipstick.  My boyfriend gave me a little bit of money to treat myself and I received a discount code from HQ Hair for 20% off, so I decided to grab one and chose Catfight.

The Revolution lipsticks are available in 22 shades and are described by Urban Decay as 'Creamy badass luxury'! These contain what Urban Decay call their 'Pigment infusion system' which means a super creamy formula with amazing pigmentation and extended wear.  They also contain what they have called 'Max-lip' which defines and hydrates the lips making them look fuller and plumper as well as jojoba oil, avocado oil, shea butter and cocoa butter to keep lips moisturised and soft.

I really do love the packaging!  The tube is a gunmetal (I think that would be the right name) grey colour and is shiny/reflective and faceted with Urban Decay stamped along the lid and UD stamped on the top of the lid.  Once the lid is removed you're greeted by a gorgeous purple inner tube.  The twist up is very sturdy and when you replace the lid it doesn't click back into place but it does close snugly, so I wouldn't have any worries about the lid coming off.  The actual bullet is round rather than in a tear drop shape like many lipstick, which I thought I wouldn't be keen on but I actually like it.

If you read my blog regularly you may have noticed that I'm not a nude lip person, it's all about the brights, so that's why I decided to try Catfight which is a bright fuchsia pink with a red undertone to it.

This is a gorgeous lipstick! It applies so smoothly and is opaque in one swipe.  This did bleed very slightly, but bright colours usually do, and it wasn't noticeable enough to have to wear a lip liner but you may want to.  Urban Decay have made a shade pairing guide (which you can find here) to help you find the perfect shade lip liner to match your lipstick and for Catfight they recommend Jilted, or their invisible liner Ozone.  I had this on for about 2 and a half hours a few days ago (I took it off to go in the shower) and there was absolutely no signs of it going anywhere, so I would estimate you could get at least 4 hours wear and from the swatch on my arm I can see it will also leave a stain behind. 

I think I may have my new favourite lipstick and I'd love to try a couple more shades.  Have you tried one of the Revolution lipsticks yet?

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Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

I have always mostly been a compact powder foundation kind of girl but I have used liquid foundations in the past and did at the time use a sponge to apply them.  Since taking up blogging I have started to use liquid foundations again but when I tried to use a sponge (just a cheap standard wedge type one) I found it just appeared to absorb the foundation so I have moved onto using my Real Techniques Buffing Brush for applying foundation.  I have been curious about the Beauty Blender, but at £16 or whatever ridiculous price it costs, I've refused to try it out.  

When I saw that Real Techniques were releasing their own version of the Beauty Blender and that it would only cost around £5 I knew I'd like to give it a try.  Over the weekend I received a parcel from with a couple of products for me to try and I was really pleased to see that one of them was the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge*.

The RT sponge has three different surfaces which I have cleverly named the pointy bit, the flat bit and the round bit (9 years at university hasn't gone to waste!).  There are no instructions in the packaging (I believe you're supposed to go online for tutorials) so I'm not quite sure of the specific roles of the round and flat bits but the pointy bit is obviously for those hard to reach areas like round the nose and eyes.

I have tried using this wet and dry and although I think I prefer the finish slightly more when it's wet I think I would probably usually use this dry as I find wetting it and then having a damp sponge a bit of a faff!  Whichever way you use it though this does provide a flawless, airbrushed looking finish.  I tend to use the flat surface for covering large areas and have been using the 'bouncing' technique, basically 'dabbing' on my foundation. 

Obviously I haven't tried the Beauty Blender so I'm unable to compare this directly but I would say when this is a third of the price and does an amazing job I would definitely go for this one.  If you'd like to try the RT sponge you can get this for just £4.49 from

Have you tried the Miracle Complexion sponge?

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Debenhams Beauty Club VIP Panel - balance Me

If you have 'liked' Debenhams Beauty Club on Facebook you may may know that every so often they ask for people to apply to be part of one of their VIP review panels.  If I like the look of the brand or product on offer I always make sure I apply to try and get onto the panel.

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be selected for a panel for bareMinerals' new Ready foundation and a few weeks ago I was very excited to discover that I had been selected for a panel for three balance Me products.  I've only tried a few of balance Me's products but the one's I have tried I've loved.

Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm

I have to be honest and say I'm not really keen on the look and smell of this but that is due to the high natural content in the product and I can totally overlook this because of how amazing it is.  This is an oil-based cleanser that both cleanses and smooths (hence the name!).  This contains shea and cocoa butter, rosehip and coconut oil and oatmeal for exfoliating away dead skin cells.  I'm not sure whether this can be used to remove makeup but I personally prefer to remove my makeup with a cream cleanser or micellar water and then double cleanse with a cleanser like this to make sure all of my makeup is gone and my face is really clean.

You warm a small amount of balm between your fingers and then massage gently onto dry skin in small circular motions for at least 30 seconds.  You then add warm water and continue to massage for another 30 seconds.  You can also apply this over closed eyes but due to my recent problems with burned eyelids (see my post from a couple of days ago) I haven't been using this over my eyes.  You then wet the muslin cloth with warm water and use this to remove the balm before patting your skin dry.

The first time I used this I couldn't believe how amazing my skin felt afterwards.  It really does 'polish' your skin leaving it soft and unbelievably smooth and making a perfect base for your moisturiser to get to work.  Although this is part of the Daily Essentials range I wasn't sure if I would use it every day because my cheeks are very sensitive and I wasn't sure if the oatmeal would be too harsh to use daily.  I have been using this every day though and haven't had any problems, in fact my cheeks are looking really good at the moment, my pores are smaller and I only currently have a small amount of redness.

Radiance Face Oil

I actually already have this but mine is nearly empty so I'm really glad to have received a new one.  This was the first face oil I have tried (and actually is the only face oil I've tried so far!) and I was a little unsure at first as although most of the skin on my face is dry I do suffer with an oily chin, especially when I wear makeup.  However, after giving this a try I discovered that oil is balancing on oil and this actually improved my chin rather than making it oiler.  Usually when I wear makeup, within a couple of hours my chin starts to become oily and my makeup starts to slide off.  When I have used this I have found that it takes a lot longer for my chin to start to become oily and therefore my makeup lasts longer.  I also found that this helped to improve the look of the acne scaring I have on my chin.   

As I mentioned above the rest of my face is dry, especially in winter when it can become really difficult to try and keep any moisture in my skin, and this is really good, either on its own or in addition to your moisturiser.

Moisture-Rich Face Cream

This really is a moisture rich cream and only a small amount is needed even for my dry skin.  Despite being very rich it doesn't take a long time to be absorbed and leaves my skin feeling soft, moisturised and plumped.  I would say in the summer this may be slightly too rich for my skin but I would possibly just use even less and in winter this will be perfect for my skin when it becomes excessively dry. 

Overall I would highly recommend all three products, especially if you have dry and sensitive skin like me and I've really enjoyed using them.

These products are available from the balance Me website and they are now also available from Debenhams

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Ciate Corrupted Neon manicure kit - Megaphone

I recently won a blog competition over on The Black Pearl Blog and the prize was one of Ciate's Corrupted Neon manicure kits in Megaphone.

The kit includes a standard sized nail varnish in Big Yellow Taxi, a mini UV top coat and a bottle of neon glitter called Megaphone.  The glitter is so pretty and looks just like sherbet, like it should have come with a licorice stick to dip in it!

This set is really quite simple use.  You start with a base coat (if you want to obviously, you don't have to use a base coat) and then apply two coats of Big Yellow Taxi.  While the varnish is still wet you then sprinkle the glitter gently over the nail to create a full coverage glitter effect.  You then apply the UV top coat over the top of the glitter and also on any nails that you haven't applied glitter to.  Your manicure is then complete.  

I'm personally not a fan of yellow nail varnish and unfortunately the colour looked awful against my skin. However the glitter effect is really pretty and this did actually look nice on my nails.  The picture above I had to take on my phone (my camera wouldn't capture the colour) but the colour is still not quite right, it's slightly lighter and brighter than shown, more of a sunshine yellow.

The main issue I have with this kit is the use of glitter.  Having previously been a dancer and having worn glittery costumes and been around over enthusiastic teens using glittery makeup I'm fully aware that one day glitter will actually take over the world!  I tried to be as neat as I possibly could, using one of the plastic trays from the packaging to catch any fallout as I sprinkled this over my nail and tapped it back into the pot.  I didn't realise how much mess this had made though until I used a UV torch to check the UV effect.  The glitter also reacts to UV on it own and although I couldn't see it in normal light, shining the torch around revealed that there was glitter EVERYWHERE!  It was all over my hand, over my bed and all over the floor.  Like I said though you can only really see the true extent of the mess with UV light.

It's also worth commenting on the packaging that this comes in as it's really cool, I did a little squeak when I pulled it out of the envelope.  The front of the box has a lenticular which shows two different images depending on how you hold it or what angle you view it from, as I've shown below.

Although I'm not personally a fan of the colour, or the use of glitter, this is a really nice set and I would definitely consider getting one in another colour (and employing the use of bin bags or similar to try and halt the world domination of glitter!). 

The Ciate Corrupted Neon manicure kits cost £18.00 each.

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Nail art - Matte gloss tips

Now that summer has slipped away and it looks like we're heading into autumn I've got bored of summer nail colours and am more than ready to switch over to deeper darker autumn/winter shades.

Today's nail art look is very simple but I really like it.  This time I decided to use black (the deepest darkest colour possible!) but I'm planning to try this again shortly with a lovely new berry shade I picked up the other day which I think would also look amazing.

I apologise for my bad cuticles on the photos.  I'm trying to sort them out but to be honest I don't really know what to do with them!  I'm using a Sally Hansen cuticle remover but I'm not really sure how it's supposed to remove cuticles.  I'm pushing them back but on a couple of nails they still just look messy so I think I need to actually remove them, but I don't know how to do it.  Any tips would be appreciated!

To achieve this look I used Bad Apple's Bad Bad, Rimmel's Pro Matte Finish top coat and Seche Vite top coat.  I started with a base coat and then carefully (you can make a right mess with a black nail varnish!) applied one coat of Bad Bad (one coat was all that was needed!).  I then applied the matte top coat to the entire nail and once dry I applied Seche Vite just to the tip of each nail.  The line is not perfect as I applied this free hand by just running the brush along the tip of the nail but it looks fine.  

I would possibly also try applying a thin line over the top of the join (but I currently only have a black nail art pen) or a piece of stripping tape over the join, but my new stripping tapes haven't arrived yet.  

Are you going to be switching to darker nail colours now?
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A bad reaction - burnt eyelids

Although I do have pretty sensitive skin, especially across my cheeks, I don't very often experience any kind of reaction to a product.  However, over the last couple of days I have experienced quite a bad reaction that I wanted to tell you about.

Although I didn't think much of it at the time I did notice a couple of weeks ago that I had a couple of really dry, nearly eczema patches down the left hand side of my face.  These really were dry with big flaky bits of skin coming away.  The reason why I didn't really think anything of it was because in winter my skin become really dry, so I thought as the weather is starting to change my skin was starting to change also.  

A couple of nights ago I noticed that my eyes were really sore but I thought that it may be hayfever as I've run out of pills and haven't bought anymore as I hoped I might not suffer anymore this year.  So I just went to bed thinking they would be fine in the morning.  When I got up the next day and looked in the mirror I was horrified to find that my eyelids were really red in like an arch under my eyebrows.  Looking closely it appeared like the skin had actually been burnt.  I have a prescription treatment for acne that I have to resort to when I have a really bad breakout and if I use too much or use it too often it burns my skin.  The skin on my eyelids looked the same as the skin on my chin does when I accidentally burn it.  

The following day the redness had gone down and the skin has now completely dried out and is itchy and flaking off in large chunks.  I've also noticed that several other areas of my face are also very dry and flaky and I now believe these are linked to the reaction.  

I've been trying to work out what I've had a reaction to but to be honest I haven't really used anything new within the last few days.  I have started a couple of new products recently but have been using them for at least a couple of weeks now and would have thought if I was going to have such a bad reaction it would have happened quite quickly after starting a new product.

On 3rd September Holly published a post about why she won't be using Philosophy's shampoo, shower gel and bubble baths again after she suffered a deterioration in the condition of her skin which she discovered was related to this product.  These products actually have a caution printed on the back of the bottle to say that excessive or prolonged use may cause irritation to the skin or urinary tract and to discontinue if rash, redness or itching occurs.  How scary is that for a product that is supposed to be used on your skin daily?!  Although I am not currently using one of Philosophy's bath and shower gels I have recently started using their Purity cleanser.

This doesn't have the same warning on the back as the bath and shower gels but I believe this may be the product that I have had a reaction to.  As I said I have started using a couple of new products within the last few weeks and those products are this and Balance Me's Cleanse and smooth face balm.  I don't believe the face balm has caused the problem, for one because I don't use this across my eyelids, so that just leaves the Purity cleanser.  In fact apart from my makeup, the Purity cleanser is the only product that has been in contact with my eyelids.  I did notice one day that it stung my eyes a little when I was using it and I'm wondering if I left some excess on my eyelids and this burnt them.  

I can't say for definite that it's this product but it appear to be the most likely cause and just in case I won't be using this anymore and I don't think I would try any of Philosophy's products in the future.

Becky x
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Lush Big Sea Salt Shampoo

I was given a sample of this, I believe some time last year, when I was talking to one of Lush's staff about the sort of products I wanted for my hair.  I really liked it but I have only just got round to buying a full size tube, maybe because the price put me off slightly, but more on this below.  

This is a vegan product containing seaweed and coconut for softness and fresh lemons and limes for shine.  I have to admit I really had my doubt about this, shampooing your hair with sea salt?!  But it does work and I love it.

I never in a million years thought that this would lather, but it does, and lathers up really well.  In fact I think this produces more lather than any other shampoo I've tried!  You also don't need to use very much as it lathers so well and becomes really thick and creamy.  You do have to apply this quite gently as you are rubbing big chunks of salt onto your scalp, but it's actually not that rough and is really nice to apply.  As it's so creamy you do need to give it a really good rinse to make sure it's all washed out and no lumps of salt are left behind.

As this is a volumizing shampoo does it give your hair volume? Yes, it does.  It doesn't turn me into Jesy from Little Mix (I'm not sure my hair could ever be that big!) but my hair is usually really flat and this really does give me some root volume and a general bounciness all over my hair.  It also makes my hair soft and gives it a nice shine, although the hair dye I use gives my hair quite a good shine anyway.

As I mentioned above I think the price did put me off this slightly to begin with as it costs £11.50 for 330g and I thought you would probably have to use quite a bit each time to try and get it to lather.  But you actually only have to use a small amount so I think this would last reasonably well, especially if you save it for special occasions or when you just want a bit more omph.

How would you feel about using a sea salt shampoo?

Becky x
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