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Sk:n Clinics Clear skin challenge

As I'm sure was the case with many people, I hit my teens and I started to suffer with acne. Luckily mine wasn't really bad, but back then I was very introverted and suffered from a chronic lack of self-confidence, and acne just made me want to hide myself even more. I suffered with a few spots across my forehead (which back then were covered by a fringe) but they were mostly on my chin and also on my back. At least if you suffer from acne on your back you have the option to cover it if you want to, but as a dancer I would often have to wear costumes with low backs that meant part back, and therefore my acne, was on show. I was always told 'you'll grow out of it' but I think we all now know that a lot of people do not grow out of 'teenage acne' and continue to suffer into their 20s, 30s and even beyond.

I had several long-term courses of antibiotics to try and help clear it up, and as far as I remember they helped a little, but only while I was taking them. As soon as my doctor thought I was old enough I was put on the pill and I'm still on the pill now, mainly for this purpose, around 14 years later. My skin is now mostly clear, but I do still suffer from hormonal breakouts, and I'm happy to admit that I'm scared to come off the pill in case my acne returns. Although my skin is now mostly clear, after years of acne on the same areas I'm left with scaring. On my chin this means my skin always has at least a slight red/purple tinge to it and what I guess I would call light pitting, which looks like large open pores, both of which are a pain to cover with concealer/foundation. On my back, although it doesn't look too bad at a distance, if you look closely there are white scars where the larger spots I suffered from have healed but left a mark like a loss of pigmentation.




In the past I have thought about treatments I could have done to try and help improve the appearance of any scaring I have left behind. One treatment that I have considered as a possibility in the future is a Dermaroller. This is where a roller with lots of tiny little needles is rolled across the area, this then encourages your body's natural healing process to repair the skin, making it appear smoother. This and various other acne and scaring based treatments are available at Sk:n Clinics, one of which is based near to where I spend a lot of time in Cheltenham. They're the UK's No 1 skin care clinic and they have over 30 clinics across the UK, so there should be one within reasonable travelling distance of most people.

Sk:n Clinics are currently running a clear skin challenge where they've selected 10 people to be assessed by their acne team for a complete treatment worth up to £1300. The challenge includes male and females aged between 20 and 31 from different ethnicities. You can follow each persons journey on the Sk:n Clinics website (here) or on Facebook and see what treatments they were provided with and how these are working for them. There are mid-treatment updates available to see and I have to say I'm impressed with the results so far.

Have you ever suffered from acne or do you suffer now?
 
*This is a sponsored post  
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Lush Dashing Santa Christmas bath bomb

I've now used three out of the five Lush Christmas bath bombs that I picked up (haul post here) and to be honest so far I've been disappointed. Maybe my expectations are too high? I'm not sure, but today I'm talking about Dashing Santa.

Lush Dashing Santa Christmas bath bomb

Lush Dashing Santa Christmas bath bomb

Lush Dashing Santa Christmas bath bomb
This one contains Mandarin oil, Bergamot oil and Orange flower absolute and is supposed to smell like Satsumas. Like So white this one took quite a while to dissolve fully, possibly around five minutes, but I didn't really find that it 'dashed' around the bath. It did make its way to the edge when I first dropped it in, but when I pushed it back towards the middle it just hovered. It fizzed away as a bright orange blob releasing some foam and gradually turning the water a bright orange shade. I was hoping I'd be able to smell the Satsuma scent but unfortunately I couldn't detect it at all. I'd forgotten that this contains snowflake and gold lustre, but when I went to empty the bath I noticed it twinkling away giving a shimmery gold effect to the orange water. Once the bath had emptied I didn't notice any glitter clinging around the bath but some did sit on the bottom and needed rinsing away. 

As I've already mentioned, along with the others that I've already tried I was disappointed with Dashing Santa. The ones I've tried so far (this one, So white and Father Christmas) seem expensive for one bath when all you're getting is a little bit of foam and coloured water. I guess they also put on a bit of a show as they dissolve, but I'd rather have bubbles and a scent that I can smell. My bath is quite deep and can hold quite a lot of water so I'm wondering if maybe I'm putting these in too much water and it's diluting them down too much. I think maybe bubble bars or bath melts might be more up my street.

Have you tried Dashing Santa?

 
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#DearSally - Long Tall Sally Christmas wish lists

#DearSally

I've been a very good girl this year. I've eaten all of my greens (except peas because I despise them) and I only eat chocolate occasionally every day several times a day. I've washed my makeup brushes regularly when I remember and have only bought 574 new lipsticks. I never fight with my brother (he moved out in April), I never swear and I promise it wasn't me that dropped something on the bathroom sink and chipped it (&#%!). I'm sending this to you rather than Santa because he's very busy and I'm not sure he'll have the time to stop off at his local Long Tall Sally store.

It's Christmas, which means you should think about others first, so here are my gift ideas (although obviously I've based it on what I'd like to receive!). 

#DearSally Long Tall Sally Christmas gift ideas
I don't know about your family, but in mine it's a tradition for my parents to buy me and my brother new nightwear for Christmas. I love wearing PJ's, but if you're tall you inevitably end up with them flapping round your ankles. I love Long Tall Sally's PJ bottoms because they're really long, in fact at 36" they're way too long for me, but I don't care as it just makes them more snuggly. The Robin print PJ bottoms (£28) would be a lovely gift for somebody to open on Christmas morning and the Stretch cotton cami in Bright red (£10) is a perfect match to go with them. I love a brand new fluffy dressing gown and the Super fluffy robe (£50) comes in a gorgeous teal colour and is also extra long to help keep those longer legs warm. Slippers are obviously a necessity in winter but for ultimate comfort and warmth you might as well go for some Checky slipper boots (£25).

Obviously around Christmas time you want to be as snuggly while you're out and about during the day as when you get home at night, so a Fluffy snood (£16) is a good call for keeping your neck warm. Having quite long arms I often have problems with the sleeves on my coat not really being long enough and I can end up with a gap between my gloves and coat sleeves. So for anybody with longer arms the additional length on the Supersoft ruched knitted gloves (£12) would make them perfect.

#DearSally Long Tall Sally Christmas wish lists
I love Christmas shopping and as it is Christmas it's perfectly acceptable to wear a Christmas jumper! The Robin sweater (£55) is not the most Christmasy jumper you'll find but there is some mistletoe on there for a hint of Christmas. I only wear typical blue coloured jeans (well I have one black pair I had to buy for a shoot) but I fancy a change and love the look of the Super stretch camden (£50) which come in a gorgeous dark teal colour. Christmas shopping in the cold requires some comfy boots and I think the Leather Chelsea ankle boots (£95) look perfect for this. Although it'll be cold, I don't tend to wear a coat when Christmas shopping as the shops are always warm and I overheat quite easily, so I'll just wear something like the Sequin snood (£18) that I can remove and carry easily.

#DearSally Long Tall Sally Christmas wish lists
Christmas is the time when you can go all out on the glitter and sparkle, so for the Christmas party I've gone for the Shimmer tube dress (£50) and the matching Glitter courts (£55). I don't tend to go for quite tight dresses, as they usually emphasise my uneven hips/waist, but I really like the look of this one for Christmas. The long sleeves are good if you're concerned about being cold and I like the length as I'm not keen on anything above the knee if I'm not wearing tights. I know 2" isn't a very glamorous heel height, but I feel more comfortable when I'm not towering above most people!

#DearSally Long Tall Sally Christmas wish lists




I'm one of those people that gets up on Christmas morning and gets dressed up. Back when I had a lot more disposable income I might even buy a new outfit especially for Christmas day. Although you know as soon as I've stuffed myself with Christmas dinner (AKA the best meal of the year) I'll be changing into those brand new PJ's for a late afternoon/evening of films and Christmas Eastenders! 

I'm a big fan of maxi skirts but obviously again I struggle with the length. The Metallic maxi skirt (£55) fits the Christmasy sparkle requirement and will actually be long enough for me for a change. With a sparkly skirt I think you need a simple top so I'd go for the Double layer camisole (£22) tucked into the skirt. To be honest, as I'm at home I would just wear slipper with my Christmas day outfit, but if I was going to wear shoes I'd go for a comfy pair of flats like the Deluxe leather ballerina's (£60).

Thank you Sally, love Becky x

All of these items can be found on the Long Tall Sally website.

*This is not a sponsored post but I was gifted an outfit from one of my wish lists.

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Quiz clothing - 'Dress your nails' nail art

I was recently contacted by Quiz clothing to let me know about their 'Dress your nails' nail art competition. The idea is you design a nail art look based on one of Quiz's dresses. I don't normally enter blogging competitions, but creating nail art based on something that has inspired me is one of my favourite things to do, so I thought why not! 

The first look I wanted to go for I had to abandon when I discovered a very similar design had been created as promotion for the competition. Then I came across a dress that made me think 'oh yes'! The Multi colour sequin bodycon dress isn't the sort of dress I would personally wear, but as soon as I saw it the first thing I thought of was a mermaids tail. I've previously created a mermaid tail look, so I thought I'd recreate it based on this dress.




Mermaid tail nail art
Mermaid tail nail art
Mermaid tail nail art
For the base I used Rimmel's 60 seconds in Green with envy as this is a gorgeous emerald green shade containing green shimmer. Unfortunately my camera likes to change blues and greens, so this is darker and greener than shows in my photos. To make the base a bit more obviously shimmery, a bit more like sequins, I added one coat of Ciate's Confetti, which is a clear varnish containing silver multi coloured holographic glitter that twinkles all the colours of the rainbow. To set the base and make a smooth surface over the top of the glitter I then applied a top coat. I then took a black Sharpie and drew on the scales (and went a bit wonky in a few places!) before leaving this to dry and then sealing the whole thing again with another layer of top coat.

If you'd like to enter the Dress your nails competition all you need to do is pick a Quiz dress that inspires you, create your design and post a picture of your nails on your blog along with your chosen dress. You then either tweet or email the link to your post to Quiz and you'll be entered into the competition. You can find the full details of how to enter here.  There are £100, £50 and £25 Quiz vouchers up for grabs as well as a Beauty UK goody bag worth £25. Be quick though as you only have until the 30th November to submit your design.

 
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The Body Shop Christmas hand creams

Have you headed down to The Body Shop yet to have a sniff of their new Christmas ranges? If not get yourself down there right now! 

There are three fragrances this year, which includes old favourites Frosted cranberry and Vanilla brulee, and then a new fragrance for 2014, Glazed apple. As soon as I heard there was going to be a Glazed apple hand cream I was desperate to get my hands on it. My boyfriend's local store was a bit slow getting the Christmas ranges in, but I finally got my hands on it last week. When I got to the till I was told that the hand creams were on 3 for 2, so I thought I might as well take the opportunity to grab one of each of the fragrances. 

The Body Shop Christmas hand creams - Vanilla brulee, Frosted cranberry & Glazed apple

I've previously tried one of their new smaller size hand creams in Coconut (review here) and I loved it. The only reason I haven't bought another one in any fragrance is because I have several hand creams to get through. Obviously I couldn't pass up Christmas limited editions though could I! 

These are actually more of a gel consistency than a cream and they are just a complete joy to use. They absorb so quickly and leave absolutely nothing behind on the skin, apart from a beautiful scent. These are the only hand creams I'm happy to use during the day because I can apply them and then just get on with what I'm doing. I hate having to wait for creams to be absorbed or trying to do things with sticky/tacky hands. 

Fragrance wise I'll start with Vanilla brulee. I'm not very good at describing fragrances but I wouldn't say this is a traditional vanilla product type scent, I would say it's a creamy vanilla essence type smell. Out of these three this is probably my least favourite, but that doesn't mean I dislike it at all. I believe the frosted part of Frosted cranberry might refer to sugar (the picture on the tube looks like a sugar covered cranberry) as this is what I would expect sugar covered cranberry's to smell like. This one has a sweet berry scent. Finally, Glazed apple definitely has to be my favourite. If you're only going to buy one product from the entire Christmas range I would recommend making it a Glazed apple product. This has a sweet, crisp, tangy scent that makes my mouth water whenever I catch a whiff of it. 

As I mentioned in my review of the Coconut version, one of the things I love most about these is that the scent really lingers on your hands.  I can't really say how long Vanilla brulee and Frosted cranberry last, as I usually apply them before bed, but I can often still faintly smell Glazed apple in the morning. There's nothing I don't love about these hand creams as they're an absolute bargain for just £3.50 each. I think I might have to nip down and stock up on a few more Glazed apple ones!

Have you tried any of The Body Shop's mini hand creams?

 
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Nails Inc Alexa Silk

When I saw the first image of Nails Inc's new bottles I was very excited by their sleek new design. Round bottles are fine but I personally prefer square, or in this case rectangular bottles as I think they just look nicer. They are also much easier to store as they sit together nicely. Although I love the new bottles I'm not so keen on the new price. Nails Inc varnishes have always been on the higher end of the price scale at £11, but the new editions in the new bottles now range between £14 and £16.

Earlier this year I was one of the winners of a nail art competition run by the frozen yoghurt brand YooMoo and one of my prizes was a Nails Inc manicure gift voucher. I didn't really want a manicure, if possible I wanted to use the voucher to buy one of the new Alexa varnishes. To cut a long story short you can use their manicure vouchers to buy products, but they're not accepted in concessions, and as far as I can see all Nails Inc retailers across the UK are concessions, with maybe a stand alone store in London? In the end I sent the voucher to them and they sent me the Alexa silk nail varnish. 

Nails Inc Alexa Silk
Nails Inc Alexa Silk
The new bottles are indeed lovely. It has a weighty feel to it and it does look expensive. It's also a good size containing 14ml. You don't have to worry about trying to hold the chunky lid to apply this as the silver lid pulls off to reveal a much smaller round lid.  It has a wide brush that covers a good portion of the nail in one brush stroke and the formula is lovely to use. You can easily get away with just one coat as long as you have enough varnish on the brush, if you don't have quite enough it can get a little thin on the third brush stroke along the edge of the nail. I found this dried quickly on it's own but then I always apply a quick drying top coat over the top of my nail varnish anyway.

The silk effect comes from this containing a very fine silver shimmer which stops the colour being flat. It's like a black version of Barry M's Silk nail varnishes, which I'm a big fan of. Regarding how long this lasts, I've used this a few times recently on its own and for nail art and I've had mixed experiences with it. When I used it with a base coat from another brand I found that this didn't last very long at all. Within a few hours I'd started to get tip wear and some chips were appearing. Even though nail varnish doesn't usually last very long on my nails this was very disappointing for a varnish that costs £15. However, when I used this with a Nails Inc base coat and also went over the tips with my top coat this lasted a lot longer, I managed to get to a couple of days without any chips (which is very good for me).

So I would say this is a very good nail varnish if you use it with other Nails Inc products. I haven't included a swatch here but I did use this for my recent black and gold nail art so you can take a look at this on my nails here. On these pictures you can see the tip wear and chipping after less than 24 hours.

Have you tried any of the new Nails Inc range?

 
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Birchbox November 2014 - Cosy at home (+ free shipping code)

Although October is the month when temperatures really start to drop I think November is the month when the need to cosy up at home really kicks in. The clocks have just gone back, winter is nearly here and it's almost acceptable to start thinking about Christmas. So Birchbox's 'Cosy at home' theme is just perfect for their November box*.

Birchbox November 2014 - Cosy at home
Birchbox November 2014 - Cosy at home
First up there's a full size Dr. Jart+ Most Moist Water-act skin mist worth £18. This is an antioxidant-infused refreshing facial spritz for boosting skins internal moisture levels. My skin is dry and in the winter can become very dehydrated so any products that will help to try and get some moisture back into my skin are welcome. Although I haven't tried any Dr. Jart+ products before I have heard good things about them so am looking forward to giving this a try. The name is a little unfortunate though!

The only makeup product in my box was the Lord & Berry mini bronzer. I'm a big fan of their lipstick crayons, which I think are on par with MAC lipsticks but considerable cheaper, so I'm more than happy to try some more of their makeup products. I will admit I've never actually tried a bronzer before, but I will be giving this a try. The only issue I have with this is that it doesn't come in any packaging, you just get the loose pan. If you have a Z palette then obviously you can just pop it in there, but if you don't (like me) then I'm not sure how you'll store this. This is the only product I think doesn't quite fit into the 'Cosy at home' theme, although I guess we all get a bit pale and pasty in the winter and need something to add a little glow.

The two little pots contain the Beauty Protector Protect & Treat hair mask. This is a luxurious mask containing argan oil, honey, amber and even crushed pearls! The directions say to shampoo hair as usual, apply to the roots and leave for 5-10 minutes for normal to oily hair and 20 minutes for dry hair, then rinse. Although there are two pots included there's not an awful lot of product there, so you may only get one or two applications from the sample (it will depend on how much hair you have), but this sounds perfect for a cosy night in pampering.

Next up is a sample of Weleda Pomegranate creamy body wash. I'm a big fan of Weleda products and they're actually based not far from me in Derbyshire, so I'm pleased to see this in the box. This has a lovely refreshing pomegranate fragrance that would be great for washing the day away when you get home from work. I haven't tried it in the shower yet but the creamy formula feels moisturising so you may be able to jump out the shower and straight into your warm cosy PJ's.

I'm sure most of you are probably lip balm addicts like me, especially in the winter when the cold gets to work making them dry and sore, so I was pleased to see the Lip Glam 100% natural lanolin lip balm in my box. I've tried many different lip balms, but haven't come across this one before, and I'm always willing to try new ones. This is really quite a thick balm, you have to squeeze quite hard to get it up to the applicator, so I have high hopes that this will be perfect for the cold winter months. The back of the tube also informs me this can be used on your cuticles, as an eye brow balm, for smoothing split ends and on elbows, knees etc.

Finally, this months lifestyle extra was a mini bar (30g) of Montezuma's chocolate. It's not included in my picture above because, well, I ate it! I'm really pleased with this month's box and will definitely be trying all of the products. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that I didn't get a mini OPI nail varnish in my box. This is a duplicate product, as there was one in the June box (although I didn't like my shade) but I will never say no to another OPI varnish!

Birchbox have very kindly given me a code for free shipping on your first Birchbox. Just pop over to the Birchbox website, sign up and enter the code BBXLITTLEBLOG.

What do you think of the November box?

* PR sample
 
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Glamour magazine & Nails Inc

I'm sure you're probably all aware by now but December's copy of Glamour magazine comes with a free full size Nails Inc nail varnish worth £11. There are four shades to collect and as I've picked up three of them I thought I'd do a quick post so you can decide if you want to try and grab any if you haven't already.

Although I did go to four different shops to find these it was no hassle as I picked up one while doing the food shopping (Tesco) and the others while I was shopping in town (WH Smith and Wilkos). There was a good mix of shades across the shops (there isn't one or more elusive shade(s) that you can't find anywhere *coughs* chubby sticks) and I think actually I only needed to go to three shops as I didn't realise how similar two of the shades can look in the boxes so I thought it was the one I'd already got. A little tip, to check the shade name on the bottle just squeeze the sides of the box slightly towards the bottom and it lifts the front a little so you can just see the name.

The shades available are Tate (a deep red), Hanover Square (deep plum), Wigmore Street (deep blue/purple) and the one I don't have as I wasn't keen is Marylebone Mews (lilac grey). I love that Glamour offer this gift every year and although I wasn't very keen on last years shades I think this years are spot on, particularly Wigmore Street which is a really quite unusual dark purple, almost blue.

As well as the free Nails Inc varnishes in each copy you'll also get a 20% discount to use in store at H&M (valid until 5th Dec) and you should also get a The Body Shop 'Little card of Christmas wishes' card which is worth either £3, £15 or £100 and also enters you to win £1000 cash. The reason I say you should get one of these cards is because out of the three magazines I bought only one actually included a card and it sounds like several people have reported these missing. I'm a huge Body Shop fan and there are several cheaper products I wanted to pick up with these cards, so I'm really disappointed.

Will you be grabbing any of these shades? 

 
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Nails Inc Micropedi electronic foot file

For this post you were going to be treated to a picture of my boyfriend's feet, but as I do actually want you to read my blog again in the future I decided against it! You'll just have to take my word for the fact that his heels are absolutely awful. There's so much dry skin there it has cracked and even though a couple of years ago it cracked so far down they started bleeding, he doesn't do anything about them. Obviously most of the time I can't see them, so I don't think about them, but when he rolls over in bed and scrapes a sandpaper heel against my leg I vow to chop his feet off remember to make him do something about it. 

My heels aren't too bad, but my right one does get drier than my left one. I don't drive regularly, as I work freelance, but when I do drive it's usually for a long period of time (I'm talking 3/4 hour round trips here). I've found that having my foot on the accelerator with the back of my heel on the floor for long periods of time can really dry it out. 

When I discovered I'd won Beauty Queen's giveaway for a Micropedi I knew I had to put it to the ultimate test by pitting it against my boyfriend's feet.

Nails Inc Micropedi electronic foot file

Nails Inc Micropedi electronic foot file



Nails Inc Micropedi electronic foot file
This is a Nails Inc Micropedi because it came with two full size Nails Inc nail varnishes. In the box you get the Micropedi complete with plastic cover, the two nail varnishes and a small brush. The Micropedi takes two AA sized batteries that aren't included in the box. All you need to do is pop the batteries in the back, push up the button on the front and away it goes.  The roller part (I'm not quite sure what to call it) looks quite rough but it's not really, you can place your finger on it and it won't hurt. You just roll this against the area of hard skin and it buffs (I'm not sure if that's the right word to use! Sands?) it away.

You probably don't want to hear this, but I warn you once you get going there will be a snowstorm of skin. I know, gross! How much there is will obviously depend on how much hard skin you have, but I would recommend putting something under where you're doing this so you can dispose of the skin snow without making a huge mess. I'm assuming the brush is included to help you brush this away from around the roller. I personally find it quicker and easier to just blow on it, but do remember to close your eyes!

As I said my boyfriend's heels are awful, so I knew I wouldn't get through the whole lot on the first attempt (ain't nobody got time for that) but it did a great job of reducing it, and you should have seen the pile of skin snow. I know, I'm sorry! A couple of sessions and hopefully I'll get rid of it all and he'll take care of them from now on (or very soon he could be single!).

I'm not sure how long the rollers last but I've heard that they don't last particularly long. I guess again it might depend on how bad your hard skin is. Replacements are available in packs of two for £12.95 for coarse or man and £12.99 for extra-coarse, so they're not that cheap. The set I won, which came with two spring/summer Nails Inc shades, is £59.99 at Boots but appears to be permanently on offer at £39.99. I have spotted that there is a newer set with the same Micropedi but with three lovely looking more autumn/winter shades on offer for £49.99 (RRP £79.99).

To be honest even on offer I think these are a little expensive. I think I would only consider paying the offer price because of the inclusion of the Nails Inc nail varnishes and definitely wouldn't pay the higher prices. It is a great tool and is very quick and easy but you can achieve the same thing with a much cheaper manual version, you may just have to spend a little longer doing it to achieve the same result.

Have you tried a Micropedi?

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Ole Henriksen Truth serum collagen booster

Waaaay back in January I posted about the Ole Henriksen Seven skincare sensations set that contains mini versions of seven of his products. I decided to start using the set as a complete skincare routine, but after a few days I discovered my skin was in a very sorry state. It had been completely stripped of moisture and some patches were so dry you could actually see lines in my skin. Don't ask me how I didn't notice it getting so bad, but I didn't. I stopped using all of the products immediately and returned to my previous routine to try and help my skin recover.

I worked out that it was the African red tea foaming cleanser that was the problem, the key word here obviously being 'foaming'. I have dry skin, but hadn't tried a foaming cleanser before or read anything about them, so I didn't realise what they could be like. Although I identified the product that I was sure was causing the problem I didn't go back to trying any of the other products again until recently.

Ole Henriksen Truth serum collagen booster

I've had my eye on The Body Shop's Vitamin C skin reviver for a while now but haven't really been able to afford it, so obviously it's been pretty much all I can think about! Then I remember that I had this tucked away somewhere so I hunted it out.

I'd previously tried a sample sachet of the Truth revealed super creme, which I assume is part of the same range of products, and I loved it so I really wanted to give this a try. As the name suggests, there's vitamin C in there to calm, heal and strengthen collagen. There's also vitamin E to heal restore and nourish, rosehip to repair and strengthen, green tea to protect against environmental damage, grapefruit and orange extract to purify and brighten and finally sodium hyaluronate to bind moisture to the skin. 

The serum is dispensed through a small hole, but let me warn you, that little hole has anger issues and no matter how hard I try to stop it the little fella always spits! I apply one pump onto my finger tips but I always end up with up with a little bit either squirting over onto the palm of my hand, or if I'm unlucky, right across the room. One of the things I love most about this is the smell. It smells just like refreshers, all kind of citrus-y and fizzy and it's amazing. As you apply it sinks in within a few seconds and does initially leave a slightly sticky feeling, but I just leave it for another couple of seconds and this disappears leaving behind smooth, lightly moisturised, slightly plumper and refreshed skin (that must be the 'refreshers'!).

I do like this, but do I like it enough to pay around £50 for 30ml? Aside from the fact that I can't afford that anyway I don't think I would. My sample is 15ml, so half the size of the full size, and I seem to be getting through it quite quickly despite only using it once a day and not every day. It's a nice product but I think it's a little very expensive and I think I'll give The Body Shop's version a try next.

Have you tried any Ole Henriksen products?

 
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Nail HQ base coats - Rubberized and Ridge filler

I often buy new top coats in my apparently never ending quest to find the perfect one that does exactly what I want, but I don't tend to worry too much about the base coat that I use. I have a couple of different ones in my stash, but these are ones that I've received as part of a present or won. The last one I can actually remember buying is a peel off one to try with glitter nail varnishes, that I haven't actually got round to trying yet! *makes mental note*

When I was contacted to ask if I'd like to try some products from the Nail HQ range I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out a couple of new base coats.

Nail HQ base coats - Rubberized and Ridge filler
I was sent the Rubberized base coat* and the Ridge filler base coat*. I believe the range includes seven base coats, including hardener, strengthener and growth versions, a gel top coat and a cuticle oil. Prices range from £5.99 to £7.99 and they're available at Tesco and Amazon.

The Rubberized base coat (£5.99) contains a formula designed to help nail varnish adhere to your nail. It also creates a barrier to help prevent discolouration when using highly pigmented shades. This is supposed to have a sticky cushioned finish, and having never used one before I expected it to feel quite tacky, but I don't tend to find that it does feel sticky. I have nails that even supposedly long lasting nail varnishes just don't last on so I was really pleased I received this one so I could see if it would prolong the life of nail varnish. This may have helped my nail varnish last a little longer than usual, but not by a particularly noticeable amount of time. That's not to say that this doesn't work well though, it may just not work very well with my nail varnish destructing nails!

I was also really pleased to receive the Ridge filler base coat (£5.99) as I do have quite ridged nails. In fact my nails are really strange! For a start they grow curved and my thumb, ring, and little fingers nails are so curved they pretty much make perfect semi-circles. They're also not smooth but are ridged right the way across each nail, like if you take a piece of paper and fold in a concertina but with the folds all the same way rather alternating different ways. On a couple of nails I also have like fault lines that run right down the nail from the cuticle to the tip and I've been told these will never go. 

The ridge filler is supposed to smooth the surface of the nail, provide hydration and condition the nail to help it be more flexible, regulate growth and improve the wear of nail varnish. This one has a light pink tinge to it and it effectively creates a new surface on the nail that is smoother and because of the pink tinge looks very nail like. 

When I'm wearing glossy nail varnish I don't particularly notice the ridges in my nails but these do become more obviously if I wear matte nail varnish or use a matte top coat. I think this is because a glossy finish bounces light back off the nail which hides the ridges, but when the surface is matte it tends to highlight them. So I tend to use this base coat if I'm going for a matte look on my nails. This does a great job of reducing the appearance of the ridges on my nails, it doesn't smooth them over completely, but it does minimise them and make them look less obvious.

Although I'm not sure that the rubberized base coat did particularly prolong the life of my nail varnish I will continue to use this to try and help prevent staining on my nails, as I do paint them a lot and it is a nice base coat. I will also keep using the ridge filler base coat when I'm going for a matte look.

Have you tried any Nail HQ products?

* PR sample
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Nail art - Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold

 'I look up into the night sky, I see a thousand eyes staring back. 
And all around these golden beacons, I see nothing but black'

Who remembers Sam Sparro's Black & gold? I'm hoping some of you might remember it so my name for this looks makes sense, otherwise you're probably just thinking that three black and golds is a little excessive! Anyway, as I was working on this design this is what kept popping in my head, so I thought why not use it as a name. I think it's still a little too early for Christmas nail art designs (although I have so many ideas I will probably need to make a start soon) so I decided to go for a design I've wanted to do for a while but had put on hold until the Halloween nail art was out of the way.

Nail art - Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold
Nail art - Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold
Nail art - Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold
Nail art - Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold
Nail art - Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold


This one was inspired by a picture I found somewhere, but for the life of me I can't remember where I found it now. I know it wasn't Pinterest (I'm currently slightly obsessed with Pinterest, you can find me here) as I'd have just pinned it to my nail art board, but instead I had to save the picture. It's really bugging me now!

I think black and gold look amazing together and as I've just got my hands on the new Nails Inc Alexa Silk nail varnish I thought this would be a great design to try it out on. I will write a full review of Alexa Silk as I have a few things to say about it. For this look I also used Orly's Luxe, which was a recent magazine freebie, and Max Factor's Max effect mini nail polish in Ivory. I think I've commented before on the fact that this shade is called Ivory when it's quite obviously a gold shade!

As always I started off with a base coat and then I applied Max Factor's Ivory to my thumb and middle finger and Orly's Luxe to my index, ring and little finger. For the ring finger and the bits peeking out from under the black I really wanted a proper glitter gold, but I don't actually have one, so that was why I used two different golds to try and create a distinction between them. I then took my smallest dotting tool and used Alexa Silk to create the dots on my thumb and middle finger. Using stripping tape I then applied two pieces across my index finger and one across my little finger, painted over both of these nails with Alexa Silk, and then removed the stripping tape immediately while the polish was still wet. After leaving everything to dry for a while (to try and avoid any smudging) I then applied a top coat to all nails to seal everything.

What do you think black and gold?

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Lush Father Christmas bath bomb

The last 8/9 days have been pretty awful and on Friday I had a very long day travelling to and from and working in London, so on Saturday I thought it was time to use another Lush Christmas bath bomb.

Lush Father Christmas bath bomb

Lush Father Christmas bath bomb

Lush Father Christmas bath bomb
Lush Father Christmas bath bomb
I wasn't actually going to use this one next but as it was cracking around one side I thought I had better use it in case it decided to break. Unlike So white this one didn't drop straight to the bottom of the bath, it floated and moved around like a rather slow little power boat, and dissolved much more quickly than So white did. 

I was told that to begin with this turns your bath bright red but I didn't find this. I think it started off a pink colour like you can see on the outside of the bomb. However, very quickly it cracked open around the middle, maybe because mine was already cracked, and started to release a bright green colour, and I mean bright. It actually seemed a little more Halloween appropriate as it was a little freaky watching Father Christmas crack open and start releasing a kind of dark slime green colour! I could smell this as it was dissolving but once it had dissolved completely I couldn't smell it any more. This apparently smells like Snow fairy, but I didn't really recognise it. Although I'm not hugely familiar with the smell of Snow fairy having only had one bottle of the shower gel in the past, so I probably wouldn't automatically recognise it.

Like So white this just released a little bit of foam/bubbles that disappears once you get in and have a little slosh, so you're just left with a bright green bath. I did quite enjoy this one but I don't think I'd pay £3.50 for it.

Have you tried Father Christmas?

 
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