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Cashback sites - your online beauty shopping best friend

I did do a very similar post back when I first started blogging over on my original blog on Tumblr, but lets face it, I'd just started out and so it's highly likely that nobody will have read it!  So now that do I have a few followers that I expect do probably indulge in a little online beauty shopping I thought I'd do another post.

If you're not quite sure what a cash back site is this is a website that pays you money for shopping online, either as a percentage of the amount you've spent or a fixed amount.  Sounds fantastic doesn't it?  I'm not sure about all sites but with the one I use, which is called Quidco, you just have to visit the site you want to make a purchase from through Quidco so it can track that you have placed an order.  You might be surprised by the offers you can get through cash back sites and the products/services you can find on them.  I haven't paid full price for a years breakdown cover for several years now as £20 cash back for a £29 policy is usually the kind of offer I've taken advantage of. 

So I thought I'd go through some of  the beauty offers that you can find on Quidco.  Please note all offers are correct at the time of publishing this post but some do change frequently so offers and amounts may be different if you visit Quidco at a later date.

The beauty subscriptions

Regular subscription - £3.50 cashback
3 month subscription - £5 cashback
6 month subscription - £10 cashback
12 month subscription - £20 cashback

I used to be subscribed to Glossybox but I did cancel my subscription because I found the boxes very hit and miss.  I do however keep an eye on the contents of the boxes and occasionally order one as a one off if I like the look of it.  I just start a regular subscription and cancel it once I've got the box and before they charge me for the next month's box.  If you do this through Quidco you'll get £3.50 cash back, which pretty much covers the postage.

The online beauty department stores

I think we all like a little shopping spree on the websites I've called online beauty department stores (I'm not sure what else to call them!) and I think you can earn cashback on many of the ones I'm aware of.  The best rate currently available is on Gorgeous Shop which is 9% on all purchases.

The next best rate is 7.5% which is available over on Escentual, however if you're using an offer code on your order you'll only get 2.5%.  Next up Feel Unique offers a rate of 7% and Look Fantastic and HQ Hair also both offer 7% unless you're using an offer code or purchasing electricals, in which case it's 2%. 

Finally, Space NK offers 6%, Cult Beauty and Fragrance Direct both offer 5% and Superdrug offers 3%.  

  The brands

One of the best brands available on Quidco is definitely The Body Shop.  You know how TBS already have some amazing offers like 40% off or £10 off if you spend £25 etc?  Well I've previously seen cashback rates as high as 14% and they also pay the cash back into your account super quickly as well.  I'll talk a little more about time scales later in the post but several times I've placed a late night order with TBS and the cash back has been approved and paid into my account the next morning, before TBS has even started processing my order.  TBS currently offer 10% on sales on the mobile site, 7% for new customer sales on the website and 5% for existing customers.

One of the highest rates currently available is for Crabtree & Evelyn which is 10%, but if you're interested in this be quick as it expires tomorrow and the rate may drop.  I'm not sure how much people usually spend on Bumble & Bumble but you can currently get 8% cash back on orders less than £200, 9% between £200.01 and 10% cash back on orders of more than £400.  That's a lot of haircare!

Orders on Molton Brown and Lily Lolo will both get you 8% and Benefit, Clarins, Liz Earle and Cowshed all offer 7%.  One of the brands I've been most excited to discover on Quidco recently is Illamasqua.  I'm sure I searched for them previously and they weren't on there but they are now and when I first discovered them last week the rate was a pretty amazing 12%.  The current rate on offer for Illamasqua is 6%.  Finally, both L'Occitane and GHD are offering 5%. 

As I mentioned above The Body Shop is one of the quickest paying retailers but time scales for receiving your cash back do vary with the average probably being something like four weeks to a couple of months.  You can set your cash back account to pay into your bank account weekly, when you reach a set amount or you can let the money build up and request for it to be transferred when you want it.  I know some people may be a little unsure about giving their bank details to a site like this but I can assure you they're fine. I've been with them for several years now and first discovered them when they collaborated with my credit card provider at the time, which unfortunately doesn't exist any more (it's even more of a shame as I worked for them).

So if you fancy joining Quidco and earning cash back on your online beauty purchases you can sign up here

*Please note this post has not been sponsored by Quidco.

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YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick in 18

I recently had the opportunity to try my first high-end lipstick and was sent the YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick* in shade 18.  Being a big lipstick fan I was obviously super excited to be trying out my first YSL lipstick, but I have to say I'm a bit under whelmed by it.  

As would be expected with a product like this the packaging is stunning, although I'm not personally a fan of gold and don't usually wear gold jewellery.  Obviously the shiny casing of the lipstick looks amazing (and can double up as a mirror) but along with a very shiny surface comes those dreaded finger print marks.  Some people might not be bothered by this but it does drive me crazy, meaning I'm forever polishing up packaging like this and trying to touch it as little as possible (which is obviously pretty impossible!).  The wind up and down mechanism is not quite as sturdy feeling as I would expect it to be but it's far from loose.  The lid doesn't click back in place but does slide smoothly and securely when replaced and I wouldn't be worried about it coming off in my bag.

I didn't actually check what shade the lipstick was in and when I opened it when it arrived I was shocked to find a dark brown bullet.  This did worry me slightly as with my pale skin and dark brown/almost black hair (dyed, I'm naturally blonde) I thought this might be a bit Morticia Addams on me (if you don't know who Morticia Addams is I now feel old!).  Although this looks brown, and it is pretty much brown, it's kind of a very dark plum kind of brown. 

This doesn't appear to have any kind of scent but does have a slight taste to it that although isn't too bad is not a particularly nice taste either.  This applies easily, smoothly with no pulling on the lips, and once applied I was surprised to find that although it did give me a bit of a goth look that I would only go for on particular occasions, it didn't actually look too bad on me.  My mum was also quite surprised and responded with 'Oh that's not too bad actually'.  

I believe it may be down to being such a dark colour but I did find that it settled into the lines in my lips quite a bit and although I don't think you can see this from a distance, you can see this more close up, especially if I smile.  Admittedly I did apply this just before I then made myself some lunch but I found that it didn't really last very long at all, maybe a couple of hours.  But then again I think this may be due to it being such a dark colour, so any fading from eating and drinking was very obvious.

So overall like, I said I was slightly underwhelmed by this, but I believe some of this was due to it being such a dark colour.  I would still definitely consider trying another YSL lipstick in the future, but maybe from another range or even from the same range but in a colour that is much more me.  

The YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipsticks are available from Harvey Nichols for £25 each. 

*PR sample

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Ole Henriksen African red tea foaming cleanser

At the end of January I blogged about Ole Henriksen's Seven skincare sensations set (post here).  A few weeks back I started the whole routine, but unfortunately after a couple of days I had to stop using it and return to my previous routine to rescue my skin!  So I thought I should write a post to explain why.

The product that I believe caused the problem was the African red tea foaming cleanser.  First a little recap about the product.  This contains African red tea and Vitamin C and is described as non-drying and gentle enough for sensitive skin but strong enough to remove makeup.

Looking at this I thought the product looked very runny so was ready to try and make sure it didn't just slip through my fingers but then was very surprised to find that this actually comes out as a foam.  I've never comes across a product like this before and I don't know what is in the lid of the bottle to make it do this.

It does have a reasonably strong fragrance to it but I like the smell so this didn't bother me at all.  The first time I used this I found that it did dry my skin out a little despite it being described as non-drying.  But it didn't dry my skin out as much as other products have done in the past so I didn't worry too much and continued to use it in the morning and evening as directed.

I have no idea how I didn't notice my skin getting so bad but one evening after using it I took a close up look in the bathroom mirror and my skin was so dehydrated it was actually kind of lined in a couple of areas (kind of like tissue paper looking) and just looked so dry and dull.  How on earth did I not notice it getting that bad?  I have no idea but I instantly stopped the whole routine and switched back to my previous routine to try and recover my skin and get some much needed moisture back in to it.  

At some point I will start the routine again, minus the cleanser, but I'm not sure when I'll be happy to switch back to trying it again.  I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad product, I do actually quite like it, but it obviously doesn't work with my dry skin.

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Seventeen Phwoarr paint in Fair

I'm slightly very ashamed to say that recently I suddenly realised that I'd had my Benefit Boi-ing for years, and I do mean years.  I'm not sure how long ago Benefit changed the packaging of Boi-ing from the all black hinged compact to the screw off lid with the clear top, but mine still has the old packaging.  As this is a 'stick your finger in it' product I shudder to think what might have been lurking in there and as I often use this for concealing blemishes and scaring on my chin, which is where I mostly suffer with breakouts, I thought this probably wasn't helping.  So in the bin it went.

Obviously I'd heard of Seventeen's Phwoarr paint and during one of my wanders round Boots I stopped at the Seventeen counter to take a look.  I was disappointed to find something that I'm finding an awful lot recently, and that was an almost empty and very messy display.  I had a quick look at the fair tester and decided that it was what I wanted.  There was one fair product there so I thought my luck was in, until I noticed that the small seal was broken and when I opened it up I discovered it was more used than the tester was.  I know it's annoying when you want to test a product and there's no tester there but come on people, you've got to stop opening products, it's not fair.  Boots is not so bad but I think every product I've ever bought from Superdrug (which is admittedly not many as I'm not keen on shopping in Superdrug) I've got home and realised its already been opened.  

Anyway, when I got home I took to Twitter to have a moan about this and the very lovely Zoe (she's very lovely!) from Face Value Beauty Blog tweeted back to say she had one in her blog sale that I could have if I paid the postage.  So obviously I took her up on her kind offer.  If you don't already follow Zoe make sure you head over and have a look at her fab blog. 

Phwoarr paint is obviously a very similar product to Benefit's Boi-ing, but is around a third of the price.  Apart from the design on the top the packaging is also very similar to Boi-ing's previous packaging, featuring a hinged compact with a mirror in the lid.  Although I haven't seen Boi-ing's new packaging in person I'm assuming because the lid is now see through this no longer includes a mirror, which could be quite annoying if you like to carry your concealer with you to touch up through the day.

This is a 'solid' concealer that can feel a little touch to begin with but it soon softens and melts slightly under the heat of your finger.  This is designed to be a heavy duty concealer for the under eye area. You may have heard me mention before that my dark circles are industrial strength and they really do take some covering.  I know many people would say it's best to apply concealer over the top of your foundation but I actually prefer to apply it underneath and then I top it up slightly over the top as well if required.  I use my finger to either pat this on or very gently smooth it over my under eye area.  I also apply this on each side of my nose up next to each eye as this area is also often dark and needs brightening up.  I haven't tried using a brush to apply this as I think you do need the heat of your fingers to loosen it up.  

I don't think this quite covers my dark circles completely but it does do a very good job and although I don't think this lasts me all day it does stand up very well up to about 4 or 5 hours and even then I wouldn't be too worried about topping it up as it still looks ok.

Although this is only intended as an under eye concealer I do also use it to conceal blemishes and find it very good for this as well.  It completely covers any red blemishes or scaring I currently have on my chin but does need topping up every few hours as my chin starts to produce oil to try and push my makeup off.  This is where I'm pleased about the mirror as I can pop this in my bag and whip it out whenever required for a quick top up.  

If you're a fan of Boi-ing or just want a good all round concealer I would definitely recommend this and I personally think it's just as good, if not maybe slightly better than Boi-ing (although obviously my Boi-ing was ancient and possibly well past it's best!). 

Phwoarr paint is just £5.49 and is available (hopefully sealed and untested) from Boots.

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The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club

If like me you're a big fan of perfume then The Fragrance Shop Discovery Club box* might be for you.  The Discovery Club box is a quarterly subscription box that only contains fragrance samples (male and female) and costs just £5, including postage.

The box usually contains five samples but this quarter the classics edition box contains nine samples, which includes six female samples and three male samples.  The samples included are:

Female samples

Givenchy - Very Irrésistible
Gucci - Gucci Guilty
Jean Paul Gaultier - Classique
Thierry Mugler - Angel & Alien
Nina Ricci - Nina

Male samples

Hugo Boss - Boss Bottled & Hugo Man
Issey Miyake - L'Eau d'Issey Pour Homme

The best part is that in the box there's a book telling you a little bit about each fragrance and also a voucher for £5 off each fragrance, so in this edition there's £45 worth of discount vouchers, that can be used online or in The Fragrance Shop stores.  Unfortunately if you were thinking about grabbing this quarters box it might be too late to use the vouchers as I noticed they expire on 28th February 2014 and the box can take up to 10 day to arrive.

Admittedly these are samples that you can pick up for free in department stores or perfume shops but the addition of the money off vouchers makes up for this, especially if you want to treat yourself to a couple of new fragrances or have some birthday's coming up.  I was pleased to see that most of the samples now have little sprayers on the top, which are so much easier to use than having to pull out a bung and use your finger, and obviously they're a great size to drop in your bag and carry around with you.

If you'd like to join the Discovery Club and order your first box you can do so here.  There's no commitment so you can cancel your subscription at any time.  

Would you give the Discovery Club box a try?

*PR sample
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As seen in - Ellie Goulding 'Burn'

I know I only posted my last 'As seen in' post less than a week ago and said in that post that they'd probably only pop up here and there, but there's a special reason why I've decided to let you know about one of my video's that's been out for a while.  

I believe this was No 1 for a few weeks back in July, but I've decided to post about it now because Burn is up for Best video at tomorrow night's Brit awards.  So as it's up for a Brit I thought you might like to hear a little bit about making the video.  Although this is an 'As seen in' post this is the first video I've worked on that you can't actually see me in.  Well, I haven't managed to spot myself so far. 

This was filmed on an air base (so we all had to be security cleared beforehand) and the idea was that we had broken in (obviously we didn't actually break in) and decided to have a rave.  This was filmed at the beginning of June last year and during the day it was pretty warm, but once it got to late evening/early hours of the morning boy was it cold!  The only heat to be found was from sheltering on a coach, standing in front of one of the spotlights on the runway or just jumping up and down on the spot like crazy.  

Although you can't actually see me in the video people are slightly confused when I tell them that in the shot above there's actually four of me.  The reason for this is that there wasn't that many people actually there, so a bit of editing was involved.  The way they did this was by getting us all to rave away in one quarter of the runway, then we moved over to the second quarter and filmed again, then the third and so on.  Then all the shots were edited together to make it look like there was four times more people there then there actually was.  Hence in this shot there's four of each person. 

As fun as it was going slightly crazy raving away on the runway (which helped with trying to keep warm) just as we cut on the third quarter of the runway my hip popped out (I do have a problem with one hip) and although it doesn't usually hurt it was actually pretty painful.  Luckily it popped right back in again after a couple of seconds and I carried on raving!

I very nearly made it into a close up camera shot a few times as when Ellie is in shot in white, like the one below, I'm just off camera to the left.  I also might have made it into the light field shots towards the end of the video if I'd been able to stay a bit longer (I left about 1am!) but I had a two and a half hour drive ahead of me to get to my boyfriend's house!

This year for the first time ever you'll actually be able to vote for Best video using Twitter while the ceremony is being broadcast on 19th February.  So if you're watching and are a fan of the Burn video I'd love if you'd vote for it and then maybe I can say I've worked on a Brit award winning video.  If you haven't seen the video yet then you can check it out below.

I nearly weed myself when I headed to Youtube to embed the video and discovered it's been viewed over 180 million times, that is crazy!

Are you a fan of Burn?

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L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology thickening range - my thoughts

I've been using a couple of products from L'Oreal Elvive's Fibrology range for a few weeks now, so I thought it was about time I let you know what I think.  I've been using the shampoo, conditioner and the double serum.

As I said in my first post about the range (post here) the products contain Filloxane, which penetrates the hair fibre and expands to thicken the hair.  This remains in the hair fibre, it isn't washed away when you rinse your hair, and builds up the more you use the products.  Therefore, over time your hair should become thicker.  If you later stop using the products the Filloxane won't be washed away immediately but will wash away over time if you don't use the products again at least occasionally to top up.  

The shampoo and conditioner are both really nice to use.  They both have a pleasant smell, the shampoo lathers well and the conditioner feels thick and creamy.  You don't have to use very much of either product and at just £3.99 each for the large size bottles (400ml) this makes them very good value for money.  On the Boots website they do have smaller size bottles (250ml) for £2.99 each but I haven't personally spotted these in store yet. 

The double serum features a separate thickening serum and perfecting serum that are merged together when dispensed from the pump.  Both serums are quite thin and runny but not unusably so, you just have to be a little careful.   

When I leave my hair to dry naturally I don't notice much difference because to be honest my hair dries quite fluffy/frizzy anyway.  I do however notice a difference when I use heat on my hair, either to blow dry straight or straighten it.  I wouldn't say that my hair is now lusciously thick and that I can see a significant difference in the thickness of my hair, but I can see a difference.  The main difference I can see in my hair is that once it's been straightened my hair has more volume and bounce, is more swishy and just generally looks really nice and well behaved. 

While I would definitely repurchase the shampoo and conditioner to use occasionally while using other products or as my main products I'm not sure how much the serum adds to the thickening effect and whether this is any more beneficial than just a standard serum.  I would definitely consider also trying the masque but I don't think I'll be giving the thickness booster a try as apparently you have to use so much this would probably only last 2 to 3 washes.  

Overall I'm really pleased with the effect that the shampoo and conditioner have on my hair and I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.  The range is still currently on 3 for £10 in Boots so now would be a great time to try it out.

Have you tried Fibrology yet? 

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Ciate Speed Coat fast dry top coat

This is actually a bit of a comparison post between Ciate's Speed Coat and Seche Vite, but I can't call this a dupe post as Speed coat is actually slightly more expensive than Seche Vite.  However, bear with me and I'll explain why I think you're better off spending that little bit extra and going for Speed Coat.

This is the mini version from the Ciate advent calender

As much as I love Seche Vite there are a couple of downsides to it.  One is that although I find it very quick drying and super glossy I don't find that it prolongs how long my nail varnish lasts.  I'm one of those people that nail varnish just does not last well on; even amazing formula's that might last over a week on some people will most likely chip on me within a couple of days.  

However the biggest downside to Seche Vite is it seems to be impossible to actually get through a whole bottle.  There appears to be some kind of strange curse that means as soon as you get half way through the bottle it goes off and becomes unusable.  Approaching half way I noticed that mine was starting to get stringy, as in I'd pull the brush out of the bottle and notice there was a thin string of varnish going from the brush to the bottle.  This was annoying, but not too much of a problem, but as soon as I hit half way down the bottle it became all gloopy and just wasn't usable anymore.  Now this is expensive enough, with prices online appearing to range from £8 up to about £11, but when you only get to use half of the bottle this isn't good enough. 

I've been mourning the loss of my bottle of Seche Vite.  I do have several other bottles of cheaper top coat floating around but I just can't stand their drying time.  I'm always doing something and there's no way I'm going to sit around for ages waiting for nail varnish to dry, so a top coat that still manages to smudge or get an imprint in it over half an hour after I've applied it is not good enough for me. 

Enter Ciate's Speed Coat.  This was included in Ciate's advent calender which I got for a very discounted price at The Clothes Show live in December.  Last week I decided to give this a try, along with one of the shades included in the calender, and I'm hugely impressed.  Just like Seche Vite this dries really quickly and provides an amazing glossy finish, but the best bit is that this actually does make my nail varnish last longer.  I usually have at least one chip with 24 hours and within 48 hours I've usually started peeling my varnish off (I know, naughty!) because it's chipping, but using this I found that there wasn't a chip in sight after 48 hours.  After that I found that it started to chip slightly on my right hand (I'm right handed) but the left hand was still pretty much chip free.  I think it got to about four days before I started peeling this off.  So for me, this is a big winner!  

A full size Speed Coat costs £11 for 13.5ml.  As I said, although this is more expensive than Seche Vite (and you also get just slightly less product as Seche Vite includes 14ml) I would definitely go for this one as I'm assuming that it doesn't go off half way through.  As I've only used a small amount so far I can't say this for definite, but if once I do get half way down it does go off I'll eat my hat and write a post to let you know!

While I'm talking about Ciate I thought I might as well show you my current favourite Ciate shade, which is the shade I've been referring to above.

To be honest it's not really worth me including photos of this shade because as usual my camera has changed a red type shade to orange! I've tried to mess around with the white balance on my camera to stop it doing it, but I can't seem to get it to work.  So I'm sorry the colour is wrong :(  This is actually Play Date, which Ciate describe as a 'bold pop pink with a playful coral edge'.

The reason I've included this shade in the post is because I find it kind of special.  Last week I decided it was time to crack out a bright pink shade to try and combat the pretty dreary weather we've been having.  However despite deciding to use this because it looked like a bright pink, as I was applying it I thought it actually looked like more of a orangery red.  Then when I was driving the next day I caught sight of my nails and thought now it looks like more of a traditional red shade.  So basically what I'm trying to say is that this shade looks slightly different colours in different lights and I'm currently loving it paired with my pale fingers.

What's your favourite top coat or current favourite nail varnish shade?

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As seen in - Call the midwife

As some of you may be aware if you follow me on Twitter or have read my 'About me' page I do some work as a Supporting Artist.  If you're not quite sure what an SA is this means I either appear in the background or may have a more featured, but non-speaking role in music video's, films, TV shows, commercial or whatever else I might be cast in.  I'm not sure if this is something that will be of interest to my readers but I thought I might start doing some posts showing you what you can see me in.  I don't get a lot of work and films and TV shows can often have a long turn around (for example, a film I shot last year isn't being released until 2015) but a post might pop up here and there if anybody is actually interested in reading them!

So for my first post I thought I'd let you know that I made an appearance in last Sunday's Call the midwife (9th Feb 2014 Series 3 episode 4).  This was shot back in early September last year and my role was a laundry worker.  This was actually a really good shoot as it involved two standard 12 hour days but on both days we stopped for lunch (on set catering is usually amazing!), they then gave us a quick check over to make sure hair, makeup and costumes were all still correctly in place and then it was called a wrap for the SA's (wrap meaning we were all finished and could go home).

With this kind of work there's always the chance that you might end up on the cutting room floor or may be just out of camera shot but in this episode I make three appearances. 

That's me walking away from the camera. The shot starts on a close-up of me using the mangle before I drop my washing in the basket and carry it down the street.  

In this one I'm drenching my legs with rather smelly, cold 'washing' water.  Who said this kind of work was glamorous eh?!

This time you got a shot of my face rather than my bum!  It's a slight running joke with my boyfriend that it's usually my bum (actually my back) that ends up on camera rather than my face. 

Hopefully over the next couple of weeks two music video's I've recently worked on should be released and I can't wait to show them to you.  

Did you watch Sunday's Call the midwife?

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Bourjois Shine Edition lipstick in Grenade-in (23)

I'm always lusting after a least one lip product at a time and this is one that I had been after for quite a while before I finally caved in and bought it just before Christmas.  I'm not quite sure why I was lusting after this particular product as I'm more of a full finish lipstick kind of girl, but recently I appear to be making a habit of lusting after products that are not really my kind of thing or that I'm not actually that interested in but for some reason still want. 

The only reason this isn't really my kind of lip product is that it's more of a balm than a full finish lipstick.  However, despite being a balm type lipstick this does have very good colour payoff and is a very juicy looking blue based red shade, slightly deeper than shows in my swatches.  Despite the glittery appearance in the lower swatch, this does not contain any glitter.  The glittery effect is due to the bright lights in my bathroom reflecting off the shine in the lipstick. 

As a balm this does mean that it's not really the longest lasting of lip products with a wear time of maybe a couple of hours.  However it's really easy to reapply and you could possibly get away with doing this without a mirror if you were careful.  

Although the packaging has quite a summery appearance to it the colour and formula could easily work all year round.  The formula is light enough for a juicy pop of colour in the summer if you prefer a lighter coverage when it's warmer but would also be good for helping protect lips from the cold and keeping them moisturised in winter thanks to the mango butter extracts.  I'm not really a fan of the packaging, particularly the yellow parts, but this coloured part does vary depending on what shade you pick.  I personally prefer the darker packaging on the Rough Edition lipsticks. 

I do like this as a quick and easy apply and go product and if you're a fan of balm type lipsticks or crayons I think you would really like this.

Have you tried any of the Bourjois Shine Edition lipsticks?

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My evening skincare routine

I have actually just started the expensive skincare routine I introduced about a week ago but I thought I'd show you the evening routine I was following just before this.  Some products I'd been using for a few months and some had been switched round more recently.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Solution Micellaire

Before last year I'd never heard of a micellar water, and even though I had heard of them by the time I took part in the Escentuals micellar blind trial, I hadn't actually tried one for myself.  Now I have tried micellar waters I'm not sure that I would go back to using anything else to remove my makeup.  I do have quite sensitive skin and it is often aggravated by removing my makeup, but so far I've found that Bioderma Sensibio and Caudalie's makeup remover cleansing water are perfect for my skin.  I use this to remove my makeup, or if I've not worn makeup that day I use it just to remove the days dirt and grime before the rest of my routine.

balance Me Cleanse and smooth face balm

I just love this stuff, so much so it made it into my top 5 skincare products of 2013 (you can find the post here).  Oh and Bioderma also made it to my top 5 as well.  I bought my mum the You Beauty balance Me box for Christmas and inside was an offer of £10 to use on the balance Me website, so I treated myself to this smaller size tube and as it costs £10 I just paid the postage for it.  This makes sure every last bit of makeup has been removed and leaves my skin super smooth and polished.

Clinique Clarifying lotion

This came as part of a Clinique 3 step skincare set that my boyfriend decided to buy me when Debenhams were running an offer on beauty.  Before this I hadn't actually used a toner for years as I decided to stop using them thinking they may be too harsh or drying for my skin.  I stopped using this for a while when one of the products from the set ran out but I decided to add it back into my routine recently.  I like that if my skin is a bit dry and flaky this will sweep away the flakes and therefore make it easier for my moisturiser to absorb.

balance Me Radiance Face Oil

This is actually an old favourite that I've recently rediscovered.  Like many people I was reluctant to try a facial oil at first as although most of my face can get really dry and flaky my chin is oily, so I thought applying an oil to my chin would just make it worse.  It actually works the other way round and using this on my chin balances it and makes it less oily.  This is great for adding extra moisture to your skin, evening out your skintone, adding radiance and reducing blemishes and scaring.

balance Me Moisture-rich face cream

The third balance Me product in my current routine! I use a light moisturiser in the morning but at night I prefer to use something heavier to try and make sure my dry areas get the moisture they need through the night and this does the job. 

Clinique All about eyes serum

To be honest I'm not sure if this does very much for my industrial strength dark circles (but then nothing does!) but I keep up using it to try and make sure they don't get any worse if I stop using it!  Any recommendations for a reasonably priced eye product that works miracles on dark circles?  I did recently find a great product that worked well for me but unfortunately it wasn't cheap.

Philosophy Kiss me tonight lip balm

Although I won't be trying any more Philosophy products after I experienced a bad reaction to their purity cleanser (and discovered that there's a warning on the back of their bath and shower gels warning against prolonged use) I do use the Kiss me tonight moisturising lip treatment every night.  I haven't experienced any problems using this and as it's such a thick balm I like to apply a good layer of this at night before I go to bed so it can work it's magic while I sleep.

Do any of these products feature in your evening routine?  
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Nica print satchel

I am so pleased to finally have my hands on my lovely new Nica satchel.  As I mentioned in one of my Clothes Show posts last year I decided to treat myself to a new Nica bag while I was there.  Unfortunately I had to return it to Nica and I was only reunited with it about a week ago.  I'll explain further below.

When I got home and took the bag out of the packaging I discovered it had a small fault inside.  There appeared to be a piece of thread under the lining on one side of the bag that unfortunately had been caught up in the stitching on the other side and it was pulling both sides of the lining into the middle of the bag.  This meant the lining didn't sit properly and was using up some of the space in the bag.  I tweeted Nica and they were amazing and within no time at all I had some freepost return details to return my bag to. 

As I returned the bag just a couple of weeks before Christmas I thought it was probably likely that Royal Mail/Royal Fail/Snail Mail (delete as appropriate!) might not get it to them in time before Christmas, or if they did that Nica wouldn't have time to send a new bag to me.  So I waited until the new year to double check that they had received it.

When I did email Nica to double check I was told the replacement bag had been signed for nearly 3 weeks previously.  As nobody had bought it round to me after nearly 3 weeks it looked like they might have just kept my parcel.  Although I was given a name for who signed for the parcel I had no idea who they were or which house it had been delivered to, so Nica said they would send me another bag.  When the second bag hadn't turned up a few days after Nica had said it should I contacted them again and was told that the courier had confirmed that they had delivered the parcel to my address and that it had been signed for by somebody with my surname.  So again it looked like somebody had stolen my second parcel.  

Third time lucky, Nica asked for an alternative address to send another bag to so I gave them my boyfriend's address and fortunately it was delivered safely to my boyfriend's (although about 20 minutes after I'd left to go home and I wasn't returning for another week!).  So anyway, finally last week I got my hands on my bag.  Thank you so much to Nica for being so amazing and providing such good customer service and shame on whoever it was who stole my first two replacements.

For as long as I can remember I've always favoured across body bags.  I just feel a bit silly carrying a bag round in my hand or on my shoulder and although I often hold on to the strap going across my front and have one hand over the front of the bag (so nobody can try and get in it) I like that I can have both hands free if I want.  I've had my eye on Nica's printed satchels for so long so I was delighted when I managed to grab one from the Clothes Show for a bargain price.

The dimensions of the bag are H28 x W29 x D6 cm and it features a large zipped pocket on the back of the bag, a smaller zipped pocket inside, a phone holder and a large open section/pocket on the front of the bag.  You don't have to undo the buckles on the front to get inside the bag as the whole buckle just attaches to the front of the bag with a magnetic fastening.

I don't believe this particularl print is actually available anymore as I can't find it on the website but you can currently get the same type of satchel in Beth dark vintage botanic and Play natural tulip, as shown above.  Both are available from the Nica website for £49 each.

What type of handbag do you like to go for?

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