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Priori Lash recovery serum

Earlier this year I won a competition over on the lovely Georgina's blog She Might be Loved.  Georgina had unfortunately had an accident with a pair of eyelash curlers that had cut off some of her eyelashes.  She was sent a Priori Lash recovery serum to try and help her eyelashes recover and was also given two to give away to her readers, and I won one of them.  If you'd like to read Georgina's review of the recovery serum you can find it here

The eye picture is actually kind of creepy isn't it, sorry about that!  My lashes are quite badly behaved, particularly the top ones.  The ones on the outer corner of my eye hang downwards, I have random single lashes that grow above the lash line that get in the way of applying eye liner and I also have single lashes that occasionally turn completely white but don't fall out so I have to pull them out.  My lower lashes are not too bad, but on my left eye I have a little bald area where I appear to only really have one lonely hair.  It's a bit strange that it's also my left eyebrow that went bald at the end years ago.  Although I did go a little tweezer happy as a teenager I didn't pluck the hairs away at the end, they just appeared to fall out.  

The Recovery lash serum is a eyelash and eyebrow enhancer that apparently utilizes a unique complex of three lipopeptides.  I'm not entirely sure what that means, but this is described as a technological breakthrough that helps make lashes and brows look fuller, thicker and more voluptuous.  This should be used once daily before going to bed on clean makeup free skin.  One stroke of the brush should be applied to the base of lashes from the inner to the outer corner.  It only specifies to use this on the upper lashes but I used it on both hoping it might fill in my little bald spot.  The same procedure should also be used for brows covering the whole brow area.  

I've been using this for around five weeks now and to begin with I didn't experience any kind of discomfort while using it.  I have actually stopped using this now as more recently it has started to sting just slightly, but I think this is because my eyes have been affected by the increase in pollen and they have been quite sore and itchy anyway. 

With my eyebrows I don't think I have seen any difference, which is a bit of a shame as I'm trying to grow my brows out and one is thinner and shorter than the other.  I'm aware I may need to keep applying the serum for longer to see any effect as something like this can take a couple of months.  With regard to my eyelashes, although I don't now have the lashes I've been dreaming of, I have seen a slight improvement.  I've noticed that my outer lashes don't seem to hang down quite as much as they used to.  I think you can definitely see a difference in the before and after pictures, although in the after picture my top and bottom lashes have caught on each other, which they do quite often.  I guess my lashes may now be a little stronger so can hold themselves up better.  I'm also pleased to see that the bald patch on my lower lash line on my left eye appears to have closed up.  I'm not sure it's now completely filled in but there are definitely a few new hairs there that weren't there before.  This isn't very clear in the before and after pictures but when I look in the mirror it doesn't really look like there's a gap anymore. 

So although I haven't seen a drastic improvement I'm quite pleased with the improvement I have seen.  At around £60 I don't think this is something I would currently buy myself, but at the moment I don't have that sort of money to spare.  If I had the money to buy something like this then I would at least consider it, but I do think it's quite expensive.

Have you ever tried a lash serum or would you give one a try?  

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Revlon Parfumerie scented nail enamel - Ginger Melon

I'll admit that when I first heard that Revlon were introducing a new range of scented nail varnishes I thought they might be a bit gimmicky.  Then I saw pictures popping up of the new bottles and well, hello beautiful!  I've had my eye on three shades, and even though Boots currently have these on 3 for 2, I've been very good and hadn't bought any (which believe me has taken considerable constraint!). But when I discovered I could combine London Beauty Queens amazing free Models Own nail varnish offer (which is no longer available I'm afraid) with the Boots 3 for 2 and grab a bargain order, I was online quicker than you can say scented nail varnish!

I arranged for my Boots order to be delivered to my local store and when I received a text message confirming it was ready to collect I headed down to grab it.  The lady on the till asked me if I wanted to check the parcel but I thought it would be fine so said no and headed off.  Once I got in the car I decided to open it (I couldn't wait until I got home could I!) and now I'm glad I did as the smell when I opened the envelope and the amount of nail varnish that evidently wasn't inside a bottle any more indicated something had gone wrong! 

The Revlon and Models Own nail varnishes were in a small clear bag together and for whatever reason (probably because Mr delivery man wasn't very careful) the top of the Revlon bottle had clean smashed off and obviously the contents just flowed out into the bag.  The third product wasn't affected at all and the lady on the till quickly ran over and grabbed me a new Revlon nail varnish from the display in store.  But then we were left with the problem that my local store is a smaller one and they don't actually stock Models Own and the Models Own varnish was completely covered in the stray Revlon varnish.  A shout out to India though (the lady on the till from my local store) who headed off to clean up my messy varnish bottle and returned about 5 minutes later with a completely clean bottle. 

Overlooking the scented side of these nail varnishes I think a big selling point for these will be the beautiful little vintage perfume type bottles they come in.  I mean just look at it, such a pretty little bottle!  You can probably see in my pictures that the lid on mine doesn't quite screw down flat, it's slightly wonky, but this isn't a problem as it appears secure (unless put in the hands of a delivery man!).  

I knew from my parcel that this did actually smell quite nice, but when you sniff it in the bottle it does small like a normal nail varnish.  When I first opened this I was slightly disappointed that the brush looked so thin, thinking it might take a while to try and cover my whole nail, but actually it works fine and I quite like the brush.  The formula is not too thick or too thin in terms of consistency, but the colour itself is reasonably thin.  On the pictures above I've applied two coats, but you can still just slightly see the line of the white of my nail through the colour, so three coats would probably be best.  In terms of the colour, I would say this is a juicy looking red/orange watermelon type colour.  Definitely very pretty for the spring/summer in a non-pastel way and it looks great against my pale skin.

In terms of the smell, well I have to say I was slightly blown away by it, it smells amazing!  As soon as this is applied to your nails a gorgeous scent floats around you that is actually surprisingly strong, but not in a bad way, in a you can actually smell it way.  I was also surprised that you can still smell this through a top coat, but obviously this doesn't stick around for that long, it does fade reasonably quickly.  I painted my nails late on in the evening and could smell this as I was going to sleep that night, but by the morning it had pretty much gone.  So these might be good ones to go for if you're going out for the evening. 

The Revlon scented nail enamels are split into a few different scent groups and this one falls into the fruit and floral group.  At first I thought this has a very sweet artificial sugar kind of smell (India described it as like Haribo sweets) but now actually I think it's more like a lightly spiced watermelon smell, so I guess Ginger Melon is the perfect name. 

Am I in love with this?  Yes!  Do I want more of them?  Hell yes!  I've got my eye on African Tea Rose, China Flower and Bordeaux.  Revlon Parfumerie scented nail enamels are £6.49 each and are available from Boots.  

Have you tried any of the Parfumerie nail varnishes?

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Elegant Touch Rapid dry for nails - The 60 second challenge

I love trying out some nail, but I'm not very patient, so I can't be bothered sitting around waiting for my nail varnish to dry so I can move onto the next step or just get on with my day.  Although I love both Seche Vite and Ciate Speed Coat for how quickly they dry my nail varnish, both of these went off half way through the bottle and I've had to throw them away.  I've ordered Sally Hansen Insta-Dry as it's considerably cheaper than the other two, so even if it does go off half way through I won't be quite as bothered, but this hasn't arrived yet.  I received Elegant Touch's Rapid dry for nails a while back in one of my Glossyboxes, but I haven't really paid it much attention so far.  So while I'm waiting for Insta-Dry to arrive (and hopefully be the answer to my quick drying and long lasting prayers) I thought I'd put Rapid dry for nails' claim of drying nail varnish in 60 seconds to the test.

Rapid dry for nails' claim is that nails will be touch dry in 60 seconds, but to be honest I'm never quite sure what this means!  I assume it means that if you touch the varnish gently it won't still be wet but as it's 'touch' dry it's not fully dry and it's likely that it might smudge or pick up an imprint?  As the claim is just to be touch dry in 60 seconds I'm pretty sure the fabric I'm using for the test will leave an imprint in both nails after 60 seconds, so I decided to add in a five minute test as well to give the nails chance to dry properly. 

For the 60 second test I painted both nail sticks (do they actually have a name?) with two coats of the same nail varnish.  I then left one to dry naturally and the other I sprayed with Rapid dry for nails.  I left them both for 60 seconds before lightly pressing a small piece of fabric onto each nail and then removing it.  

Apologies for having to add my brown window edge into the pictures but it's the only way I could get my camera to focus properly on the nails as it didn't like it when I held them up in front of a white background. As you can see from the pictures above neither nail came off particularly well.  There's a little more nail varnish left behind on the nail that was sprayed with Rapid dry, but it may also be that I didn't press the fabric down as evenly on that one.

For the five minute test I did exactly the same as in the 60 second test but left both nails for five minutes before I pressed the fabric onto each one.  In this test the nail that wasn't sprayed with Rapid dry was still imprinted by the fabric, much more lightly than in the 60 second test, but you would still be able to see this and I don't think applying a top coat over the top would smooth this.  The nail that was sprayed with Rapid dry was only very slightly imprinted by the fabric and I think if you applied a top coat over the top this would probably conceal this quite well.  

The 60 second test probably did push Rapid dry a little too far as the claim is touch dry (not smoosh a piece a fabric onto it dry!), but the 5 minute test shows that Rapid dry does appear to dry your nail varnish a little bit quicker than just leaving it to dry on it's own.  However I don't think the difference in drying time is enough to make me switch over to using this when I could just apply a quick drying top coat over the top (even if the base colour is only touch dry) and the whole nail could be completely dry and smudge and imprint proof within five minutes. 

Do you use anything to dry your nails quickly?

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I completed my PhD

I don't think I've really done any personal posts before, apart from a couple about my work, but I thought I'd write a quick post to let my readers know that today I received a certificate from my University which confirms my PhD is finally complete and I'm now a Dr.

It hasn't been easy at all, it's taken 4 years and cost around £12,000, which I didn't actually pay as I received a research grant from the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), but it's now complete.  Unfortunately my University didn't particularly make it easy at all and have messed up pretty much consistently through the whole thing.  The latest mess up being not actually inviting me to my own graduation ceremony.  I did tell them when I handed in my thesis that I wasn't going to go, but that doesn't matter, I might have changed my mind and should have received an invite or notification.  So I graduated on April 9th without even realising!  

I won't bore you with any further details, apart from that it's in Psychology (or more specifically Parapsychology) but if you'd like to know any more just let me know.

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Lush Aqua Marina face and body cleanser

I went through several pots of Lush's Aqua Marina cleanser a few years ago but for some reason I haven't bought it for a while.  When I got my last mystery shopper credit from Lush I decided to grab another one.

Aqua Marina contains Kaolin and Calamine to absorb oil and cleanse the skin and Aloe vera to restore moisture.  It includes Irish moss gel, a type of seaweed, which contains restorative vitamins and minerals and also includes a small amount of sea salt for gentle exfoliation.  If you see this in store it's made in kind of like a sushi roll with the pink squidgy bit in the middle that is wrapped up in the green seaweed.  It's then just sliced up and popped in the pots.  

To use all you need to do is take a small section, add some water and mix it up into a paste between your fingers or in the palm of your hand.  This does take a few seconds to do and can be a little bit messy, but sometimes that's part of the fun of using a product.  Once mixed up into a paste you then just massage this onto your skin.  I like to massage it onto damp skin to help it along a little into transforming into a paste as it can be a little sticky so needs breaking down.  You then just rinse off, you could use a cloth to remove it but I just splash my face until it's all gone.  It is called a face and body cleanser but I don't think I'd use it on my body as you'd get through it pretty quickly. 

I suffer with redness across my cheeks, a little around my nose and on my chin where I have acne scarring and I find the Calamine and Aloe vera in this great for soothing and reducing my redness.  When I use this I can see a reduction in my redness as soon as I rinse it off.  It doesn't magically disappear of course, but it is soothed and calmed.  

One thing I would say about this if you share a bathroom with other people is just to make sure that all the little bits of seaweed are rinsed away from your sink afterwards, as when they dry onto your sink they can look a little bit like *coughs* boogers!  I'd also recommend avoiding getting any water in the pot.  I used to wet my hands first and then take some out of the pot but once I didn't use it for a few days and when I opened the pot again I found a little furry friend growing over it!  It was quite pretty, it was all fluffy and white, but obviously I didn't really want to put it on my face after that.  So now I take a little out of the pot first before going near any water.

If you have sensitive skin that suffers from redness and needs a little calming down I'd definitely recommend giving this a try.  Aqua Marina is £6.40 for 100g or £16.00 250g and is available from Lush stores and the Lush website. 

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Annabelles Wigs hairpiece challenge

You may have heard me mention before that I used to have really long.  It varied between around boob length and waist length for over 10 years until I had it all chopped off just over three years ago.  I don't think I could have long hair again, as it starts to annoy me when it gets even a little past shoulder length, but I do sometimes miss long hair.  When I spotted that Annabelles Wigs were looking for bloggers to take part in their hairpiece challenge I thought it would be a great opportunity to get my long hair back, but with the convenience of not having to grow it and being able to whip it out again whenever I want.  

I sent a photo over to Annabelles Wigs so they could check my hair colour and I was sent the Simone 3/4 wig in darkest brown*.  The colour is a pretty good match, maybe just slightly darker than my hair at the moment but obviously as my hair is dyed my colour fades between root top ups.  The 3/4 wigs are built onto a lightweight netting cap that has two combs that you use to secure the wig to your own hair, one at the crown and one at the nape of your neck.  The Simone wig is made from synthetic kanekalon hair which is layered with waves and on me comes down to around boob length.  It would probably be several inches longer on most people as I am very tall.  

I've had to wear several different full wigs in the past for dancing shows, with the bright purple bob and short bright red Annie type curls ones being the most interesting.!  Unfortunately I don't think a 3/4 wig is the best type of wig to work with my hair.  One reason is that my hair doesn't really feel strong enough, or maybe isn't thick enough to support the hairpiece and gradually it starts to slip back through my hair.  Also my scalp is super pale and my hair is dyed a dark brown/almost black shade.  When the comb on the hairpiece pulls my hair back you can see my scalp and I had problems trying to conceal the join between my hair and the hairpiece.  As my hair didn't secure the hairpiece very well I decided to keep my styling simple so I wasn't pulling on it too much.

As I was a little restricted with styling the actual wig I decided to style three complete looks.  So here's how I styled my Simone hairpiece.

Dress: Apricot
Cardigan: Red Herring at Debenhams
Hair clip: Accessorize (similar available here)

The first look I went for was one that you could wear to a spring wedding.  After attaching the hairpiece I swept the hair to one side and secured loosely with a band.  I secured the hair at the back of my head with a few grips to keep it in place and then just clipped a small flower hair accessory just above the hair band.  Unfortunately in this look you can see where the hairpiece starts as I couldn't get my own hair to hide the join.

The dress I'm wearing is from Apricot and my mum treated me to this last year as I had a couple of weddings to go to and needed something new but had a lack of funds.  So far I've worn this to three real weddings and one fake wedding (don't worry it was for a pilot episode to be pitched to Channel 4!  The show was commissioned and hopefully they'll use the pilot episode).  I added the white cardigan because even if a wedding is in the spring or summer that doesn't guarantee you'll have nice weather in the UK.  

T shirt: ASOS
Kimono: River Island
Jeans: New Look (here

For my next look I wanted to go for something that you could wear on a date, for going out for a meal or going to the cinema.  Styling wise regarding the hairpiece this was pretty simple, I left the hair down for some romantic waves and just tied a scarf round my head to hide the join between the hairpiece and my own hair.  

I went for a dark wash pair of skinny jeans (that aren't that skinny on me because I have a problem with sizing due to my funny body shape) and a simple black T shirt but dressed it up slightly with an oriental print kimono.  Again my mum bought this for me (isn't she good!) for my birthday last year and I love, I always get compliments on it when I wear it.  I wore it to the pub quiz once and the male bartender said to my boyfriend 'Is that your girlfriend? I love her top thing'!  I think the scarf came from New Look but I've had this for years so I'm not sure.

 Dress: Oasis

For my last look I decided to have some fun with it and went for what I decided to call a goth prom look!  This time when I put the hairpiece in I tired to leave as much of my own hair out at the front on the top of my head as I could.  Once the hairpiece was in I gathered my hair and brushed it back over the hairpiece and took some of the top layer of hair from the hairpiece as well.  I held the hair towards the back of my head and twisted my hair and the hairpiece hair round together before pushing it forwards towards the front of my head to make a mini beehive.  I then just gripped the hair in place and this actually helped keep the hairpiece in a bit better because it was gripped to my own hair.

I kept my makeup very simple for the first two looks but for this look I whipped out the black eyeliner (which you can't really see as the camera is a bit far away and I'd screwed my eyes up) and my YSL Rouge Pur Couture lipstick* which is a dark plum/brown shade.  The (fake) leather dress I picked up in the Oasis sale a few months back.  It was originally around £60 and I think I got it for something like £15.  Looking at it now I'm not sure the high waist and flared out skirt does me any favours with my mahoosive hips but I love the lace and leather at the top.  

So those are my three looks.  The Simone 3/4 wig is £29.99 and is available on the Annabelles Wigs website.  I'd love to know what you think of my first fashion based post? (please be kind!)

*PR sample

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Maybelline Browdrama in Dark blond

You may have heard me mention before that I don't currently do anything with my brows apart from just comb them through. I know I really need to do something with them, as they're virtually non-existent, but I'm too scared to attempt them as obviously I don't want to end up looking a fool.  One of my resolutions this year was to at least attempt trying to do something with them and I thought the best place to start may be with something quick and easy to use like Maybelline's Browdrama.

There's really not very much to said for the packaging. It's pretty simple with a plastic black tube and a rather strange mascara wand type applicator with a random large ball shaped part at the end.  I have to say I really don't understand the brush, but I may be missing something.  Fair enough if you're supposed to use the ball shaped part at the end to comb through your brows, but if that's the case then why does it not just have the ball shaped part. The end is too large to try and use the whole brush part against your brow, so I just don't get it.  

I did spend a while trying to decide what shade to buy, as although I'm naturally blonde my eyebrows aren't really blonde but aren't very dark either. I needn't have bothered worrying too much to be honest as I find this adds hardly any colour at all to my brows, but maybe that means I did pick the correct shade. In fact I find this does pretty much nothing at all to my brows.  Yes it combs them through, but I can do that with my brow comb, although obviously the brow comb doesn't set them in place. Hardly anything seems to transfer from the wand to my brows and where some product does transfer over it dries kind of crispy, which I'm not really keen on. 

Maybe because of my complete lack of experience with brow products I'm not using this to it's full potential.  I don't really know, but I'm glad I only wasted £5 on it.

Have you got any tips for how to try and make this work for me?

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Lush Emotional Brilliance lipstick in Bubbly

If you read my post on my first Emotional Brilliance lipstick back in January then you may know that I originally planned to try Bubbly first and Believe at a later date, but for some reason I changed my mind at the last minute.  I'm pleased I did now, as if I'd bought Bubbly first I don't think I would have gone on to try any more shades.  Let me explain why.

As much as I love Believe I just haven't been able to develop the same depth of feeling for Bubbly.  It's a very pretty colour, especially for this time of year, but unfortunately it's slightly lacking in a few other areas.

I've just headed over to the Lush website to check their description of this shade and have discovered the new site has been launched.  It's looking good, but I'm slightly shocked at their swatch for this product.  I believe they used to describe this as something along the lines of a two-tone rose shade.  It's now described as a two-tone pink, but if you take a look at the swatch they provide this looks like a deep burgundy almost plum/brown shade.  As bad as my camera can sometimes be at portraying shades correctly, my swatch is pretty much spot on and the one on the Lush website is way off I'm afraid.  

So the correct shade is a two-toned rose pink with a subtle shimmer two it, the shimmer being a result of the two-tone effect rather than the presence of any kind of glitter.  Although the shade looks quite bright on my arm, once on my lips it is more subtle.  I'm sorry there's no lip swatch but I haven't perfected taking a good lip swatch photo yet.  I think one layer of this gives quite a sheer look but you can layer it up a bit to make it stand out a little more.

I do find that when I apply this it can look a little patchy, which I think may be a result of the whole two-toned effect, so it's not really a quick one to apply as you may have to spend a little time balancing it out slightly.  I also find that this doesn't really last very long either.  Within a couple of hours it has faded down to just a little bit left, mostly in the cracks in my lips, and if I've eaten or drunk a lot in that time then it's more than likely there will nothing left at all.  It may be that I need to really layer this up (I just tend to use one swipe) to get a brighter shade that lasts longer, but I'm not a fan of having a thick layer of any product on my lips.   

As much as I love my Emotional Brilliance lipstick in Believe, and love the pretty colour of this one, I'm afraid Bubbly left me quite disappointed.  

Have you tried Bubbly?

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SunSense facial sun protection

I feel really bad admitting this but the only facial sun protection I use is whatever level of SPF happens to be in whatever skincare or makeup products I'm using on my face that day.  I know that because your face is always exposed you should be using a facial sun cream all year round, but I don't use one in the summer (unless I'm actually sunbathing) let alone in the winter.  The issue I've always had is that I haven't found a sun protection cream that doesn't leave my skin feeling at least a little sticky or oily, and that's far from ideal for applying makeup over the top.  I'd already decided that this year I was going to try and find a sun protection cream that I'd be happy using under makeup and then I was asked if I would like to try out some of SunSense's products.

SunSense is an Australian brand that I've only heard of because I received a sample of one of their products in a Glossybox.  I haven't actually got round to giving this a try, because the little tube had a snap off seal on it, so I wasn't sure if you'd be able to reseal it once it had been opened and this put me off giving it a try.  I believe it gets pretty hot in Australia and Australian sunscreen has to meet tight government regulations which forbid misleading claims regarding water resistance and the level of protection required.  I was sent four products to try out.

SunSense Lip balm*

Even when I do apply sunscreen on my face when I'm on holiday or just soaking up a bit of sun in the garden I have to admit that it doesn't really cross my mind to apply anything directly to my lips.  I might apply a lip balm, as if I'm not wearing some kind of lipstick I'll usually be using a lip balm regularly, but it's likely that whatever balm I apply contains little to no SPF at all.  I don't think my lips have ever actually got burnt, but I do have some freckles on my lips and all my other freckles are up over the tops of my cheeks, so I'm aware that this may possibly be a sign of sun damage.

The SunSense lip balm contains SPF 50+ with UVA and UVB broad spectrum, is fragrance free and contains Vitamin E.  This is very similar to Blistex Intensive Moisturiser in terms of the packaging (a flat slanted applicator you use to apply the balm to the lips) and the consistency and appearance of the actual balm.  I find this soothing and moisturising and not sticky in anyway and I'd be happy to wear this under another lip product such as lipstick.  Being a lip balm the product is obviously compact and is very easy to apply so you can drop this in your bag to carry around with you to apply as often as you wish. 

SunSense Daily face Invisible tint finish*

The newly formulated Daily face invisible tint finish contains SPF 50+ with UVA and UVB broad spectrum as well as Vitamin E and 3% niacinamide to help improve the appearance of skin tone and texture.  This has an oil-free base, so would be idea for combination and oily skin types.

This is tinted, but as the name suggests, once applied to your skin this is invisible but yet it does manage to balance out your complexion slightly.  I would say it's about on the same level as a BB cream, although I'm not personally keen on BB creams myself as I usually need a higher level of coverage.  Although saying that, for use on the beech, when I obviously wouldn't usually be wearing any makeup at all, this would be ideal to balance things out slightly and provide a high level of sun protection at the same time.

In terms of wearing this under makeup, I found that this particular one didn't feel like it absorbed completely and did leave my face a little sticky/tacky, so I wouldn't personally wear this one under makeup.

SunSense Anti-aging face Matte*

This one contains the same as the Daily face invisible tint finish but also contains Lactic acid for its anti-aging benefits and provides a matte finish.  I found that this one didn't leave my face feeling sticky, so I would be happy to use this under makeup.  Athough it didn't leave a sticky feeling on my skin it did take around 15 minutes to be fully absorbed and so this isn't one for if you're in a hurry in the morning, you would need to be able to leave enough time before applying makeup over the top.

Like the Daily face this one is also tinted but again the tint isn't visible once applied to the face but does manage to balance things out slightly.  So this one might be good as a bit of a helping hand underneath a light foundation or even a BB cream.

SunSense Anti-aging face*

This one is the same as the Anti-aging face matte but doesn't have the same matte finish.  I find this closer to the Daily face one, although this didn't leave my face feeling quite as sticky as the Daily face did, but again I don't think I would wear makeup over this one.  This one also doesn't have a tint finish to it so is closer to a traditional sunscreen.  

Overall thoughts

Although I don't think I've found the perfect product for wearing daily under my makeup I would use the Anti-aging face matte on days where I wasn't particularly in a hurry to get ready in the morning so I could give it the time it needs sink in.  Don't forget though that with any sun protection product you are supposed to apply this 15 to 30 minutes before you go out into the sun.  With regard to the other face products, although I wouldn't wear these under makeup I would definitely use them if I wasn't planning to wear makeup anyway, if I was going to the beach or catching some sun in the garden.  The lip balm will also be going in my bag to help protect my lips when if the British sun ever decides to come out.

You can find SunSense products over on the SunSense website and these are also available through John Lewis and Waitrose.  

Just before I finish on the subject of sun protection I want to touch on how much sunscreen you should actually be using.  If you're spending the day on the beach you should be using about a shot glass full of sunscreen and should reapply the same amount every two hours to keep up the level of protection.  It should also be reapplied after going in water, whether you're drying naturally or using a towel.  So after a day on the beach one person should have used around a quarter to a half of a standard sized bottle of sun cream.  Just like not wearing any sun protection on my face I know I'm also guilty of not wearing enough sun protection on my body.

Do you wear the correct level of sun protection?

*PR sample
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Nail art - Mermaid tail nails

I've been a bit lacking in nail art inspiration recently and when I have attempted some nail art it's generally been a bit of a fail, so I haven't featured much on my blog recently.  However, I recently came across a design that I instantly fell in love with over on Sam's blog InSAMazement and I knew I wanted to give it a try.  I've adapted my design slightly from Sam's, mostly making it a little simpler as I haven't mastered ombre nails yet (I really must practice), but I'm really pleased with how it's turned out. 

  • First I applied a base coat (Ciate Underwear).  You don't have to do this of course, but I'd recommend it, especially if you're using a colour like green as it's likely this might stain.
  • Then I applied my chosen base colour. As I'm going for a mermaid tail look I went for an emerald green shimmer (Rimmel 60 seconds in Green with envy) as this says to me mermaid tail!  I applied two coats.  
  • I then applied a glitter (Ciate Confetti) over the top for a little extra sparkle.  You don't want a full coverage glitter for this, just one designed to be applied over another shade.
  • I then applied a quick drying top coat (Ciate Speed Coat) over the top to seal what I'd done so far and make sure it was dry and also to provide a smooth surface over the glitter I'd applied.
  • Although I used a quick drying top coat I left this for about half an hour to make sure my nails were definitely dry before moving on.
  • I then took a black Sharpie and drew the scales onto each nail (only my left hand though as I'm not ambidextrous!).
  • Finally I applied another coat of top coat to seal the Sharpie design to my nails. 
As you can probably see I did slip with the Sharpie slightly in a couple of places but from a distance you can't really see this.  I find using a Sharpie perfect for this kind of nail art, I've tried various different types of nail art pen and as of yet haven't found any that I've been happy with as I always feel like I don't have enough control.  The ink dries quickly but I would give it at least a couple of minutes before going over the top with a top coat.  I haven't experienced any kind of smudging when painting over the top.  Don't worry about applying a permanent marker on your nails as this dissolves away with the rest of your nail varnish when you use a nail varnish remover.

You can find Sam's post with her tutorial here.  Sam posts some amazing nail art designs and tutorials so I'd really recommend heading over and checking out her blog. 

What do you think of mermaid nails?
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Avene Soothing hydrating serum

Despite being in my early 30's now I only started using any kind of skincare a couple of years ago.  Although I've now embraced moisturiser, facial oils, various different types of cleanser and more recently toners, serums are still something that I haven't really dabbled in yet.  When I spotted Escentual looking for bloggers to test out a serum for dry and sensitive skin I jumped at the chance and was sent Avene's Soothing hydrating serum*.

As a newbie to serum's I didn't really know what their purpose was but I've now discovered that they work to provide nourishment and hydration in the deeper layers of the skin, whereas a moisturiser keeps the surface layers of your skin hydrated by providing a protective barrier between your skin and the outside world.  The Avene Soothing hydrating serum is designed for people with sensitive skin or skin that is easily irritated.  It contains a high concentration of Avene thermal spring water to soothe and heal skin and contains patented lipsomes to diffuse the ingredients gradually into the upper layers of the skin.

This contains 30ml of serum and comes in a frosted glass bottle with a pump.  I like having a pump dispenser rather than having to squeeze it out of a tube (trying to squeeze out those last little bits is always a pain, although pumps can be a pain as well if they don't reach right down to the bottom) but I do find the pump a little awkward to use.  I find a whole pump of product a little too much (I don't apply this to my chin as I use Effaclar Duo [+] there) but as my pump wobbles around slightly I found it quite difficult to try and control the pump enough to dispense a little less.  I have kind of mastered it now and can dispense less than a full pumps worth if I want to. 

This has a milky slightly gel like appearance and feel (as I'm not used to serums I'm not sure if this is how all serums look and feel) and it definitely does feel very cooling and soothing when applied.  This absorbs very quickly, after a couple of seconds of massaging in you can feel the serum has disappeared into your skin.  Although this doesn't appear to leave anything on top of your skin if I tap my fingers gently against my cheeks I do find there is a very slight tacky feeling which I was slightly surprised about as my skin does appear to absorb all of it.  I wouldn't usually be happy about applying makeup over a product that leaves any kind of tacky feeling but this isn't a problem at all.  

I've slotted this into my current skincare routine using it both in the morning and in the evening.  This does have a light moisturising effect and although I would never stop at just using this in the evening because of my dry skin, a couple of times in the morning I haven't bothered to apply a moisturiser over the top as I felt this was enough on that particular day (and more than likely I was short of time for whatever reason!). 

Although I can't attribute it entirely to this, as I have recently started using a few other new products, my skin is currently looking very good indeed.  It's looking smooth and even, my pores are looking pretty good and the redness across my cheeks has all but disappeared, although my redness does vary depending on where I'm staying, stress levels etc.  I'm really enjoying using this, I will be keeping a serum in my skincare routine and would definitely consider repurchasing this one once I've got through it.

Although Escentual's amazing French pharmacy skincare offer has now ended I have noticed that this is still on offer at £14.45 rather than £17.00.  So get yourself over to Escentual

Do you use a serum in your skincare routine?

* PR sample
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Dior Addict Fluid Stick in Pandore

I most definitely did a little happy dance in my bedroom when I discovered I'd be picked for a Debenhams Beauty Club VIP panel for Dior's new Fluid Stick.  As as a big lipstick fan I really really wanted to be picked for this one when I applied so I was delighted when I found out I'd get to try out my first Dior makeup product.  When this did finally arrive (Debenhams Beauty Club panel products can be pretty slow getting to you) I was even more excited to find a matching Dior nail varnish in the parcel.  I'll be giving that a try shortly and will report back on that in the near future.  

This really does have beautiful packaging that would look really pretty displayed on a dressing table.  The packaging is slightly deceptive as at first it looks like the product comes in the form of a bullet that you can see through the clear plastic part of the packaging.  However once you remove the lid you discover it's actually in the form of a liquid lipstick/gloss with a fluffy applicator and that it's just the part of the packaging that contains the product that is lipstick bullet shaped.  The good thing about this is that you can instantly see the colour of the product through the packaging.

I was fully expecting to receive some kind of nude shade in case any of the panel members were not comfortable with anything brighter, so when I discovered it was a red, which is much more my kind of shade than any nude, I was very pleasantly surprised.  This is a red (it hasn't photographed very well) but it leans towards an orangery red.

This combines the colour of a lipstick with the shine of a lipgloss and doesn't contain wax but instead contains water, which gives it a light texture similar to L'Oreal's GlamShine stain splash glosses.  This has a very juicy appearance to it and has a lovely light juicy scent to match as well.  When you pull the applicator out of the tube I was surprised to find that there only appeared to be a small blob of product on the top of the applicator but I think it must kind of absorb the product and as soon as you put it to your lips it releases it.

As it has such a light water like formula it applies really smoothly and evenly and with one quick (but careful!) swipe your lips are covered.  Despite the water like feel I have found that this is just very slightly tacky but this didn't bother me at all.  If I remember correctly the L'Oreal stain splashes also have the same slightly sticky feeling.

This is supposed to be a long wear product but as with most very glossy lip products I found that it didn't last that long, maybe two to three hours for me, but as I've pointed out before lip products don't particularly last very long on me.  It does leave a stain behind, but I've found once the gloss appearance wears off it doesn't quite look right and it does fade a little unevenly.  So I would say this is one that you will need to reapply every few hours.

Despite not being very long lasting I really do like this and if I had a spare £26 I would love to try out another shade.  I don't believe these are due to be released for another few weeks yet but there are a few shades available, including Pandore, on the Debenhams website.

Are you a fan of high-end lip products?
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