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Birchbox Slimbox

Although I'm not currently subscribed to any beauty subscription boxes I have subscribed to a couple in the past. Accepting the delivery of my box was never really a problem for me as I work freelance and spend a lot of time at home, dad works from home and mum works part time, so there's usually somebody in the house. It did cross my mind though what I would do if I worked full time and nobody was home to accept my box. 

Birchbox have obviously been thinking about this too as they've now introduced Slimbox.

Birchbox Slimbox #MakeMineaSlimline

Birchbox Slimbox #MakeMineaSlimline

From the 2nd February both new and existing subscribers will be able to opt in to receiving the Slimbox. They're not getting rid of the bigger boxes (now called the Classic box), it will be up to you which one you want to receive. At just 3.5cm the box is small enough to fit through your letter box, so if nobody is home to accept the delivery they won't have to take it away again.   

A few things to bear in mind about the Slimbox. Obviously some samples might not fit in there, but if that is the case they'll pop in an additional sample to make up for it. So the contents of the Slimbox may vary slightly from the Classic box, but it will be worth the same. You also won't receive a pouch to save on room but you will still receive any cards/leaflets etc. Finally if you decide to try out Slimbox it's not forever, you can switch back again if you want to. You can find out how to opt in for Slimbox here

I didn't just receive an empty box I did receive the Birchbox Loves February box* and I'll do a separate post for the contents soon (spoiler - I think it's a good one!). If you're already a subscriber will you be switching to Slimbox and if you're not would this encourage you to subscribe?

*PR sample

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Benefit Roller Lash event #CurlsBestFriend

On Wednesday evening I hopped on the train to head over to Victoria Square in Birmingham to visit the Benefit Roller Lash lorry, although I'm pretty sure I didn't actually need the train I could have just been blown there! To allow for train delays and because I wasn't sure where I was going I left some extra time to get there which resulted in me turning up 15 minutes early. This wouldn't have been too bad if it hadn't been absolutely freezing and blowing a gale. I found another Becky who'd arrived even earlier than me and we froze to death for 15 minutes waiting to go in. 

Benefit Roller Lash event

Benefit Roller Lash event

Benefit Roller Lash event

Benefit Roller Lash event
Benefit Roller Lash event
Benefit Roller Lash event

Benefit Roller Lash event
I'd already seen a couple of posts about similar events in other locations so I knew what to expect when I got there. Benefit have painted a rather large lorry pastel pink and kitted out the inside in the theme of a vintage salon. I did take along my dads camera, which is a lot better than mine, but due to the lighting inside the lorry I'm afraid my pictures haven't come out very well. We were greeted by Beneboy (I'm not sure that actually sounds right) Jordan who invited us in and inside the lorry we found pink seating running along one side, vintage TV inspired screens on the other side, a neon Roller Lash sign, hair drier ceiling lights and some very pretty little cupcakes. The TV screens played a promotional video on a loop that I actually found myself kind of hypnotised by, I suddenly realised I was just sitting staring at it even though I'd already seen the video play through god knows how many times!

Benebabes in curly wigs explained the background to Roller Lash to us. Benefit have actually been working on this mascara for several years, in fact they've been working on it since before They're Real was launched. They wanted to get the brush just right for what they wanted it to do and I thought one of the Benebabes told me they'd gone through 64 different brush designs, but as there's just four in the information I received I'm wondering if I misheard! They wanted the brush to help girls with short lashes, straight lashes and small eyes. The Hook 'n' Roll brush they developed is based on hair rollers and is designed to hook your eyelashes and curl them up before setting them with the curve-setting formula, which should hold for 12 hours. Although I struggled to see them at first there are actually little hooks on some of the bristles of the brush (this has a plastic rather than bristle brush). 

I'm a big fan of both Bad Gal and They're Real so I'm very excited to give my Roller Lash* a try and of course I will pop up a review post once I've given it a whirl. Whereas Bad Gal is designed to provide volume and They're Real to provide length Roller Lash is for curling and lifting, so this completes Benefit's mascara line up (unless of course you want your mascara to do all three). Roller Lash will be £19.50, which I believe is the same price as They're Real and although there appears to be a few different release dates floating around we were told this will be on sale from 26th February.

Are you looking forward to the release of Roller Lash?

*PR sample

 
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The Body Shop Vitamin E range

In December I took advantage of one of The Body Shop's amazing offers and purchased a couple of products from the Vitamin E range. When I got them home I realised I actually have several products from this particular range, so I thought I'd dedicate a post to them. The range features 22 different products including a lip balm, cleansers, a facial spray, moisturisers and a BB cream and these products help to protect against pollution, UVA/UVB rays and premature aging. The range features nine best sellers, which shows you just how good this range is and why it's still around despite first being launched in 1977.

The Body Shop Vitamin E range


The Body Shop Vitamin E range

The Body Shop Vitamin E range

The Body Shop Vitamin E range
The Body Shop Vitamin E range

The Body Shop Vitamin E range
The first product I got my hands on was the Vitamin E Moisture cream, which was actually a free gift with an order I placed last year, or possible the year before. I popped this in a drawer and didn't really think about it as I don't think I'd tried any of their skincare at the time. If I remember correctly I think I may have pulled this out when I decided to buy the Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-oil (review) as I was curious around the whole serum-in-oil thing. I have dry/dehydrated skin that usually isn't too bad in the summer but once winter really sets in I really struggle trying to keep moisture in my skin and can suffer from dry flaky patches. This year I haven't really had a problem at all and I'm putting it down to these two products. The serum-in-oil feels like a slightly oily serum and absorbs quickly to leave lovely soft skin. In the summer I often just used this on it's own and only followed up with the moisturiser if I felt I needed it. The moisture cream can take a little while to sink in and can also leave my skin slightly sticky, but I don't mind this as I use it at night and it might absorb better when not used on top of the serum-in-oil. 

When the Vitamin E Aqua Boost sorbet (review) was released I was eager to try it. Although my skin is dry it much prefers light creams like the Origins GinZing moisturiser, so I thought this would be perfect for me. It has a slightly strange texture to it, like a sorbet/jelly but a little bitty, but it absorbs pretty much instantly and really gives my skin a boost of moisture.

I recently decided that I wanted a moisturising serum to use in the morning. I'd previously used one by Avene that I really liked, but knowing that there was one in this range I decided to try the Vitamin E Moisture serum. This absorbs instantly providing a good level of moisturisation, usually enough that I can skip using a moisturiser and just go straight to applying my make up if I'm wearing any that day.  

My Lush Tea Tree cleanser water recently ran out so I decided to try the Vitamin E Hydrating toner because I haven't tried a hydrating toner before and I thought it would helpful in the fight against my dryness. I haven't really been using this that long, so I will probably review it in the future, but I do like how my skin feels after I use this.

Finally, a few weeks ago I noticed that the skin around my eyes was starting to get dry and at my age that's the last thing I want to happen as it's likely fine lines will start to show. I do have some eye products, mostly gel type roll on ones that to be honest I'm not really using, but I wanted a cream one and decided to try the Vitamin E Eye cream. Although it doesn't specifically say that it's moisturising knowing how moisturising the rest of the range is I knew it was probably a safe bet. Again I haven't been using this for long so I'll probably review it in the future. 

All of these products range between £8.50 and £13 (although don't forget those amazing offers) and are available in The Body Shop stores and of course online.

Are you a fan of any products in the Vitamin E range?

*Post contains an affiliate link

 
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Nail art - Glitter gradient

My last post featured some new OPI shades that I've added to my collection and I did mention that some nail art featuring some of these shades should be popping up soon. I couldn't wait to try Kiss me - or Elf! (and judging by your comments it was a popular one with you too) so today I have a glitter gradient look featuring this one. 

Nail art - Glitter gradient using OPI Kiss me - or Elf! and Ciate Locket
Nail art - Glitter gradient using OPI Kiss me - or Elf! and Ciate Locket
OPI Kiss me - or Elf! and Ciate Locket
I've attempted a glitter gradient before but it didn't really work and came out as more of a block of glitter that to be honest looked a little silly. So I took to the blogs of some of my favourite nail artists to look for a glitter gradient tutorial. I did indeed find one although unfortunately I can't remember whose blog I found it on.

The key appears to be reducing the amount of nail varnish on the brush so you're left with some glitter and very little varnish. You can do this by repeatedly wiping the brush against the neck of the bottle, like you would usually do to make sure you have the amount of nail varnish on the brush that you want before painting each nail. You then use the brush to dab the glitter onto the nail. Depending which side of the nail you want the gradient you either start near the cuticle or the tip, dabbing the glitter on where you want a fuller coverage and then pull the brush up/down the nail a couple of times to lightly spread some of the glitter up/down the nail making the gradient. You will have to keep repeating this, dipping the brush back in the bottle again, to build up to the effect that you want. 

The only problem I did encounter was the second time I did this I discovered that the neck of the bottle started to become very clogged up where I was wiping most of the nail varnish off the brush. I haven't attempted to open the bottle again since but I think it could well now be 'glooped' shut! Another tutorial I found suggested dabbing the brush against a piece of kitchen towel/paper to absorb the extra nail varnish. At the time I thought this was a little wasteful, but now in hindsight that might be a better idea to prevent your glitter nail varnish becoming unusable after a few glitter gradients.

Isn't Kiss me - or Elf! a beautiful shade!

 
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Some new OPI additions

I've always been a big fan of OPI nail varnishes, but due to their price (currently £11.95 each) I don't own many. At the end of last year/beginning of this year I got a little obsessed with a few of their shades and luckily I managed to find them in various sales so I could add them to my collection. As I've recently acquired five new OPI shades I thought I'd do a post on them.

OPI nail varnishes - Gwen Stefani & Coca Cola


OPI nail varnishes - Gwen Stefani & Coca Cola


OPI nail varnishes - Gwen Stefani & Coca Cola
Four of these shades are from the Gwen Stefani Holiday collection and one from the Coca Cola collection. The Coca Cola Bearest of them all confetti effect top coat I actually won from Debenhams Beauty Club and this came in a little gift set with a very cute little Coca Cola branded polar bear. This is a clear top coat containing tiny white specks, slightly bigger red pentagons and much larger white hearts. Unfortunately I forgot to fish out a heart for the picture above. I haven't actually tried this one out yet so I'm not sure how this looks and what colours it works best with.

As I said I've become a little obsessed about OPI shades recently and my obsession has mostly been focused on the Gwen Stefani Holiday collection. I've taken to checking the beauty section of TK Maxx recently to see what nail varnishes they have (although I'm very cautious about what I buy!) and I spotted Rollin' in cashmere for just £3.99. This is a metallic shade and it's actually the first OPI shade I've been a little disappointed with. The first time I used it I found the first coat cracked slightly on my nails and it doesn't always apply very evenly, although metallics are notorious for this. In the last few days I have discovered that you're not supposed to use a base or top coat with metallic shades (every day's a school day!) so I need to give that a try.

I spotted I carol about you used in some nail and I knew I wanted it. I received some money from my parents for Christmas and while browsing the ASOS sale for some bargains I spotted a few Gwen Stefani shades were in the sale, this being one of them. So I bought it for around £8.50; not an amazing bargain, but better than £11.75. This tends to look quite blue in photos but it's actually a deep purple with a very fine shimmer.

I then also spotted Kiss me - or Elf! used in some nail art and decided that I desperately needed this shade in my life as well. I tracked this down for £8.36 on BeautyBay and discovered OPI and Essie were 3 for 2 at the time so I also got Just BeClaus and Essie Watermelon, which I posted about recently. Just to make you aware several Gwen Stefani shades are now just £6.50 on BeautyBay (including Just BeClaus) and pretty much all other shades are down to £8.36. Kiss me - or Elf! is a beautiful claret type purple/red with a fine shimmer. When I first saw Just BeClaus when it arrived I was concerned that it was very similar to Miami Beet (which I do own) but Miami Beet appears a little lighter, although they are very similar. As Miami Beet (beetroot) suggests they are both dark red/maroon type shades.

The last three shades I've mentioned are all really lovely so it's likely they'll be appearing in some nail art very soon.

Are you an OPI fan?

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The Body Shop's New Smoky poppy range

On the 3rd February The Body Shop will be launching a new range with a Smoky poppy fragrance. The Body Shop have very kindly sent me some products from the new range so I thought I'd introduce them to you.

The Body Shop Smoky poppy range

The Body Shop Smoky poppy range

The Body Shop Smoky poppy range
The Body Shop Smoky poppy range

The Body Shop Smoky poppy range
The range may include more products but I have the shower gel*, body butter*, body lotion*, massage oil* and Eau de toilette*. I've only received these in the last few days so I haven't actually tried any of them out yet but I will post reviews in the future as I use the products.

Packaging wise the products have the same style of bottles/tubs as the same products in other ranges, but I do really like the black packaging (which might actually be a very dark maroon/brown shade) with the contrasting bright red poppy.

With regard to the Smoky poppy fragrance I find this quite an unusual one and I don't think it's like the majority of their existing fragrances. I'm not the best at describing fragrances, and I have no idea what poppies smell like, but I'll give it a go! I find this a slightly masculine fragrance that to me smells musky and there's something slightly spicy about it. Mum said she thought it has an oriental smell to it so I'm not quite sure if she's picking up something different to me. I find the Eau de toilette quite strong at first, but I don't think the other product smell as strong as this. It actually really reminds me of one of my mums perfumes that she had a few years ago but as she's gone through about a million different ones I have no idea which one it is. I wasn't that keen on it on first sniff but as the scent settled on my skin it really began to grow on me. I'm not sure if this will be one that everyone will like but I think the people that do like it will love it.

Are you looking forward to trying anything from the Smoky poppy range?

*PR sample

 
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The 3am face

I'm sure you're probably thinking 'why on earth would I want to do my make up at 3am?', but what I mean by this is make up that you can apply quickly when you're in a hurry. For me this is most likely when I'm getting up at 3/4/5am to travel to London (or anywhere) for work. For shoots I will travel anywhere up to a couple of hours away, maybe up to two and a half hours at the most depending on how much I want the role and the pay. Most of my call times are 6/7/8am, so when you take into account travelling time (two hours to London), additional time for getting lost/traffic/any problems and then tube and walking time in London, this is why I sometimes have to get up so early!

If I'm getting up at ridiculous o'clock I want my make up to be as quick and simple as possible. Often I have no idea if make up will be doing my make up for me, so I always at least apply a base to make myself look presentable, and then take some with me to do the rest once I've got there. The worst ones are when my call time is 6am and they say I have to arrive with my make up done because we'll be starting straight away (I don't think I've started 'straight away' yet!).

So these are the products I will usually opt for when I need my 3am face.

The 3am face

The 3am face

The 3am face
The 3am face

The 3am face
Once I'm on set it's likely that I'll be there for 12 hours (the longest I've done so far is a 16 hour day) so I want my make up to stay where I put it. As I mentioned in my top products of 2014 post I haven't been a fan of primers in the past, but since trying Laura Mercier's Mineral foundation primer I've changed my mind. This gives my make up some extra staying power and I can apply my make up straight away over the top.

I will need to try and cover my dark circles and it's likely that I will need to try and cover some redness on my cheeks and scaring/discolouration and possibly some blemishes on my chin. Depending on how bad each of these are I will either use the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer or the Soap & Glory Kick Ass Blur & Brighten concealer crayon. I will most likely use the Collection one for under my eyes (making sure I don't apply too much so I have to spend ages blending it out) and the Soap & Glory one for everything else. I love that the Kick Ass concealer is so easy to use, just a few swipes and a quick blend, but I don't think it has quite as much coverage or lasts as long as the Collection concealer.

If I really want to be quick I'll swipe on some of Max Factor's Facefinity compact powder foundation as this is just so quick to do. If I have a little more time I'll use Rimmel's Stay Matte liquid mousse foundation. My preferred method for applying this is with my fingers, which makes it quite quick to apply, and I also find this has good coverage.

As I said I want my make up to stick around as long as possible, so as long as I remember (I often forget, especially at that time in the morning!) I'll give my face a quick dusting with Soap & Glory's One Heck of a Blot mattifying powder. I can't go without mascara, so I give my lashes a quick curl so they're not poker straight and then apply whatever mascara I'm using at the time. I'm currently using Maybelline's Great Lash Big. I did use this years ago and won this at the end of last year when they were promoting their new bigger brush. I was concerned this might be difficult to apply, as the brush really is substantially bigger, but it's not a problem and I like it.

Finally, as if I'm not pale enough, getting up at that time in the morning tends to leave me looking deathly pale until a little bit of colour returns to my face. So I usually try to make sure I apply a little bit of blusher. theBalm How 'bout them apples cheek and lip cream in Pie is a good call as you just pick up a small amount of product, dot on your cheeks and quickly blend and you're left with a rosy flush that makes me look a little less corpse like. You need to go carefully though as this is very pigmented and you don't want to be having to try and correct clown cheeks when you're in a hurry! If I want something a little less rosy then I'll probably go for Becca's Beach Tint in Lychee which is just as quick and easy to apply but is a pinker shade. Then I'm good to go.

What products do you like to use when you're in a hurry?

 
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As seen in - Casualty

There are certain TV shows that I would love to get a role in, either because I love the show myself, or the show is a bit of an institution. One of these is definitely Sherlock, so I was pretty disappointed when I was put forward for, but didn't get, a very good role in a Sherlock special that was filmed recently/may still be filming (insert loudly crying emoji here!). But that's the way this sort of work goes. However, last August I did head over into Wales to work on one of my other 'bucket list' shows, and as a result I made an appearance in last nights Casualty.

This one wasn't too difficult as far as shoots go. I sat on a wall talking to another SA while waiting to be used and then when we were on set I just wandered round a shop. 


So as usual it's my back that ended up on camera. This really isn't helping with my boyfriend's running joke that it's only my bum that is famous! For the first shot I did originally walk down the aisle away from the camera and walk past her as she came up the aisle, but the shop was so small we kept crashing baskets so they had to abandon that.

So that was about it for this shoot. The only thing of note was that while we were having our lunch we got a little confused by the five or six SA's that were dressed up as witches. We thought maybe they were just sharing our base for some other filming but then they got on our minibus back to the location. Witches aren't really the sort of thing you usually see on Casualty (we weren't filming for Halloween) but we asked one of the crew what was going on with them and were told somebody was hallucinating. That was all we got though as obviously they have to keep the stories under wraps. If you didn't see the episode, the witches were pushing around babies in buggies!

 Are you a fan of Casualty?

 
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Nail art - Laser nails

The first nail art of 2015! As I've mentioned recently I'm getting more and more into nail varnish and nail art and so this year I want to feature a lot more nail art on my blog. Last year I lacked inspiration and just didn't attempt much, but now I'm a complete Pinterest addict (you can find me here) I have plenty of inspiration! 

As I said in my last post I did some nail art using Essie's Watermelon, and here it is.

Nail art - Laser nails

Nail art - Laser nails
Nail art - Laser nails
I apologise if you can see any dry skin around my nails. I hate pictures of nails with nasty skin around them but I'm struggling so much at the moment. No matter how much moisturiser or cuticle oil I apply they just don't seem to get any better or it doesn't last long. I'm seriously considering just wearing gloves permanently at the moment. If you have any suggestions please let me know!

This is based on a simple look I came across on Pinterest just using gloss/matte to make an effect on the nail. All I did was apply my base coat followed by one coat of Watermelon (the 'one coat wonder') and then a glossy top coat. I then applied three pieces of stripping tape across each nail, painted over the whole nail with a matte top coat, and then removed the tape before this dried. The stripping tape blocks the matte top coat leaving behind glossy lines.

I wasn't sure what to call this one (I do like to name my nail art) but I thought the glossy lines against the matte looked slightly like laser beams so went with laser nails. It's not the easiest design to see, unless the light catches on the glossy lines, so it's quite a subtle look if that's what you want to go for.

 
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Essie Watermelon

I haven't previously bought Essie Watermelon because I (mistakenly) believed that it was a very similar shade to Revlon's Parfumerie in Ginger Melon, which I already own. Now I've compared them I've discovered that actually they're quite different shades, with Ginger Melon being a lot paler.

I only actually bought this shade because I needed another nail varnish to be the 'free' one in a 3 for 2 offer on BeautyBay. I'd picked out two shades that I wanted from the OPI Gwen Stefani Holiday collection that were already on offer anyway, but didn't want another OPI shade as they were all full price. As Essie was also included in the offer I decided to have a quick browse of their shades. I was disappointed that despite having around five pages of Essie nail varnishes they only had one of the big name shades (I mean Watermelon, Bahama Mama etc) so I decided to give Watermelon a try. I'm very glad I did.

Essie Watermelon

Essie Watermelon

Essie Watermelon
Despite being rather nail varnish obsessed at the moment this is actually only my second Essie shade. I thought one of the things that made Essie nail varnishes so popular was their wide brushes, so I was really surprised to find a thin brush. A quick tweet gave me the answer, apparently Boots stock the Diffusion line, which have wide brushes, and this one is from the standard range, which have thinner brushes.

I don't find the thin brush a problem at all, in fact I often prefer thinner brushes to wider ones as I have quite slim/small nails and wide brushes can mean I end up making a mess. This is definitely a 'one coat wonder', you can pretty much just paint on one coat and go and you could even get away without using a top coat as this has a lovely glossy finish to it.

This is a gorgeous shade, possibly one you would reach for more in the spring/summer but it has definitely brightened up my fingertips in this dull weather. Watermelon is the perfect name for the shade. It's a very juicy looking, bright, deep pink/red, a bit lighter and brighter then it looks in my paper swatch. This has already been on my nails a couple of times despite only having it for a week and I do have some nail art using this that I'll hopefully be posting shortly depending on whether I can good some good pictures of it.

Are you a fan of Essie shades?

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Top 5 products of 2014 - Makeup

Firstly I just want to apologise for the pretty bad picture I've ended up having to use for this post. I'm currently really struggling with trying to find somewhere to take my picture and of course lighting and then to top it off I dropped my camera a few days ago. Although my camera does still work the casing is damaged and this actually affects being able to use the camera. The screen on my camera slides in and out to turn it on and off (although there is also a button to do this) but you also have to move the screen to be able to get to the menus and settings. The screen was out when it fell and it hit the floor at an angle, which meant the screen half popped out. I managed to force it back in but this cracked and broken part of the case and it's now very difficult to slide in and out, so I'm not sure how much longer it will last. One of the things I want to do this year is really try and improve my photography, so breaking my camera and having to use a picture I'm not happy with isn't a great start!

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I wanted to get this post up as close as possible to my skincare one and also we're getting quite far into the new year and we don't want to dwell on last year for too long do we.  So I've been forced to use a photo I'm not happy with as I've just run out of time to try and take a better one.

So bad photo aside, here are my top five makeup products of 2014!


So lets start with the base shall we? I don't think I've ever actually reviewed a primer on my blog before (yes I've just realised I haven't even reviewed this one yet!) and the reason for that is because I've just never got on with them. Admittedly I haven't tried many of them, but I think that's because when you try a couple of products of the same type that just don't seem to work for you, you give up? Then I tried the Laura Mercier Mineral foundation primer and it just kind of clicked, 'ah that's how a primer is supposed to work'! This has a little bit of a strange smell, but I'm trying to decide whether that's because it's the mineral version or whether it could possibly be slightly past it's best as it only has a shelf life of 6 months. Can anybody enlighten me at all on that? Anyway, this leaves my skin feeling really smooth, which is obviously the perfect base for foundation, and I find it really helps my foundation stay in place and stay looking good. As it's the first primer I've found that works for me that means it hits the top spot.

This year last year (I still can't get used to this yet!) I discovered what I think may now be my favourite foundation of all time and this is the YSL Fusion Ink foundation (review). I was drawn in by the offer of a free seven day sample if you went to counter to be colour matched so I popped along to pick mine up. I was slightly concerned that the lady on the counter applied a few shades over the top of the foundation I was wearing and then just gave me a mirror and asked which I thought looked the closest match, but I did end up coming away with a shade that I think is perfect for me. I just love this stuff! It's a light fluid, almost like it has a serum base to it, but yet it offers fantastic coverage and just really perfects my skin. It also lasts for hours and works well both on my oily chin and the dry skin on the rest of my face, although if my skin is flaky it can highlight this a little.

The theBalm How 'bout them apples Cheek & lip cream may not look like much as it's only a small sample I received in a Birchbox, but I'm actually really quite impressed with it and it's become one of my favourite cheek products to use. I'm not particularly a fan of the packaging as it's cardboard and inside has a topless cowboy, which I personally think is just pretty tacky, but the product itself is very good. The full size set contains six 'apples' in different shades but the sample contains just one and I received the shade Pie. It's just about big enough to get your finger in to pick up some product but it's a very soft cream and very pigmented, so you only need to use a small amount. It's super easy to apply, you just dot some on and blend away, either with your finger or a brush, and Pie is a lovely shade that provides a flushed cheek effect. I'd love to get my hands on the full set but I believe it's £20+ so I'm holding off until I've at least got through my sample.

I've never been any good at applying eye liner, the only way I've ever really been able to do it was using an eye shadow with a liner brush, but since I decided to try the Soap & Glory Supercat liner (review) I've found I can now use liquid liner. I'm by no means a liquid liner expert now, but this one is just so easy to use. It flows really well, giving a nice black line, and the thin pointed nib means you can use the end for a thin line or angle the nib more for a thicker line. It also doesn't dry out really quickly. I've had this for just over a year now (yes I realise that is probably a little too long for an eye liner) and although I don't use it daily or even that regularly, it has only just run out/started to dry out. A great one for beginners or people who aren't very skilled at eye liner application. 

Finally, this year last year (damn it!) was the year I started to embrace matte lips. I don't think I'd ever bought a matte lip product before because my lips are just too dry to wear them comfortably. However, in the last year or so several products have been released that despite being matte have a much more comfortable formula to wear. When the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet lipsticks (review) were released they really appealed to me and I now have three shades (Ole Flamingo!, Frambourjoise and Personne ne rouge!). Ok they're not completely matte, as the name suggests they have a velvet appearance to them, but as they start out as a liquid they're very easy to apply and they're comfortable to wear. They do start to dry out on my lips after a few hours, but I can live with that as I just really like using them and love the way they look.

Are you a fan of any of my top makeup picks of 2014?
 
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Ciate Mini Mani Manor advent calender & Tree Trinket bargains

If you wanted to get your hands on Ciate's Mini Mani Manor advent calender but couldn't afford (or didn't want to) spend £49 on it this is just a quick post to let you know that it has been reduced right down to just £14.40 over on the Ciate website. I picked up last Christmas' version at the Clothes Show live (2013) for £10 and for that kind of price it's well worth it.

They also currently have all of the Tree Trinkets now reduced down to just £2.40 each from £8. So whether you want to keep them for next year to hang on the tree (but bear in mind the varnishes will be a year old by then) or you just want to whip the nail varnishes out to use now, I think it's a fab bargain.

I apologise if any of these have sold out by the time you get to the website, but I just had to let you know the bargains were there in case you haven't checked the sale.

Will you be grabbing any of these in the sale (if they're still there)?

 
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Top 5 products of 2014 - Skincare

Ideally I would have liked to have got my 'favourite products of the year' posts up in the time between Christmas and New year, but as is probably apparent, I failed at that. I only had Christmas eve, Christmas day and Boxing day at home before I headed off to the boyfriend's relatives and there was no way I was going to spend time preparing these posts over stuffing my face and watching rubbish Christmas TV! Obviously I could have planned ahead and started preparing them earlier in December but to be completely honest I spent the majority of December feeling very down and couldn't get my head around preparing that far in advance. It's a shame because I adore Christmas and love December but I ended up in a position that I didn't want to be in by the time Christmas arrived and it hit me hard. Anyway enough of that, I had a lovely Christmas and I'm feeling a little more positive now, so let's get on to my favourite skincare products of 2014. 

I hadn't thought about this at all before I came to take the picture for the post so I didn't have very much time to reflect on the products I wanted to include. I couldn't pick 14 (to fall in line with 2014) but ended up with the random number of eight. So like last year I decided to go for my top five and then decided to include the other three products as honourable mentions.

Top products of 2014 - Skincare

Top products of 2014 - Skincare
In no particular order my first favourite of the year is the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Purifying mask (review). I've never been a fan of clay masks before because I appear to be allergic to most of them and as soon as I apply them my face starts to burn and I have to wash them of pretty quickly. I won this one as part of a giveaway prize so I thought I'd give it a try and did a patch test. When the test didn't cause any problems I went ahead and applied it to my whole face and discovered that not only can I actually use this one, but I blimmin love it! I only really tend to use this when I'm suffering from a hormonal breakout on my chin or when my skin has just got a bit congested and yucky. This is absolutely amazing at drawing the rubbish up to the surface so it's easier to treat and this really helps calm down my breakouts and clear them up. As well as not burning my skin this also doesn't suck all the moisture out of my skin either, which is a problem I have with a lot of face masks.

The first of two The Body Shop products in my top five is The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing oil (review). Over the years my makeup removal method has evolved from wipes (I couldn't believe it when I discovered how little makeup they remove!) to cream cleanser (which always left my face sore) to micellar water. I was aware of oil cleansers but the thought of smearing my makeup all over my face using an oil didn't appeal to me. That was until I just decided to give this a try (ok, I gave in to the hype) and now I'm a complete oil cleanser convert. This removes every last scrap of makeup, doesn't irritate my skin and doesn't dry it out either. However, as much as I love this I really don't love the packaging as it leaks so badly. I don't even take this with me when I stay at my boyfriends, it just sits on my shelf and I carry it upright into the bathroom, but I'm losing so much product because it just seeps out of the pump. Please please change the packing!

My second The Body Shop favourite is The Body Shop Coconut hand cream (review). I've tried the coconut one and then each of the Christmas ones that are no longer available (Glazed apple, Frosted cranberry and Vanilla brulee) and I love them. They smell amazing (and the scent really lingers on the skin), absorb really quickly and leave no residue behind so I'm happy to use these as and when through the day without having to worry about sticky hands. Plus they're just £3.50 and you rarely have to pay that anyway.

The Nuxe Rev de Miel lip balm (review) is quite a new addition but was an instant hit with me. I suffer with naturally dry lips and in the winter they can get so dry and sore, especially when I get stuck in that licking them when they're sore cycle. This is fantastic for sorting out crispy winter lips and I love using it with Lush's Mint Julips lip scrub, which leaves my lips with a lovely tingly minty sensation.

Finally, I didn't really know anything about La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Duo but when I heard about their new release Effaclar Duo [+] (review) I rushed straight out to buy it. I can suffer with quite bad breakouts on my chin and after years of suffering from acne there I'm left with quite a bit of scarring in the form of discolouration and an uneven surface. I've used this pretty much daily since I got it and it really helps to clear up breakouts, and then when I'm not suffering from a breakout, to improve the appearance of my skin and scarring. I only use this on my chin and I'm still on my first tube, which is approaching a year old now.

My first honourable mention goes to the balance Me Cleanse and Smooth face balm (review). I seriously love this stuff and I think the only reason this didn't make it into this years top five is that it's an old favourite (it appeared in last years top five) and was just pipped to the post by the Camomile cleanser, which is a new favourite.

The product in the middle is actually Lush's Tea Tree toner water but Lush labels don't travel very well in my wash bag! This may not be the best product to use on the dry skin on my face but this is amazing on my oily blemish prone chin and I find that the antiseptic properties of this help to clear up breakouts. This is an amazing product to use in conjunction with Effaclar Duo [+].

My final honourable mention goes to The Body Shop Vitamin E Serum-in-oil (review). This is just generally a lovely product and I actually have a post on the Vitamin E range coming soon, so I will probably talk about this more then, as this post has got a little long!

Are you a fan of any of my top five skincare products of 2014?

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Jurlique Glow Ultimate face & body collection

If you follow the brand Jurlique on Twitter you may have spotted that before Christmas they were running a competition to win a Glow Ultimate face & body collection worth an amazing £371. Jurlique are an Australian brand and this collection isn't actually available in the UK, so Sarah from Temporary Secretary (who was sent the set to promote the competition) and the winner would be the only people in the UK to get their hands on this. All you had to do to enter was pop your email address into their competition tweet on Twitter. So guess who was the lucky winner of this amazing prize? That would be meeee!

I was having a pretty bad day when I discovered that I'd won this. I'd just heard that I hadn't been selected for a role that I really wanted (as in tears when I discovered I hadn't got it) and just a couple of minutes later I received a notification on Twitter that I had a tweet from Jurlique which was them saying 'Guess who's just won our competition!', so it really did cheer me up.

This obviously isn't a review post as I haven't had this long (although they did get it to me before Christmas, within a couple of days) but I wanted to show you what's in the set and reviews will obviously follow as and when I use the products.

Jurlique Glow ultimate face & body collection
Jurlique Glow ultimate face & body collection
Jurlique Glow ultimate face & body collection
Jurlique Glow ultimate face & body collection
Jurlique Glow ultimate face & body collection
Jurlique Glow ultimate face & body collection
Jurlique Glow ultimate face & body collection
Although the box looks like it may be made of wood it's actually paper covered cardboard. It feels very sturdy though and when I've taken the products out I will be removing the cardboard inserts and using it for storage. I was slightly concerned that the courier might throw it over our garden fence if they tried to deliver it when nobody was home, as we've found parcels half way down our garden before, but it's actually really quite heavy so I don't think there was any chance of that.

The set includes:

Daily exfoliating cream 100ml
Balancing day care cream 40ml
Rose hand cream 40ml
Rose body oil 100ml
Herbal recovery antioxidant gel mask 100ml
Herbal recovery advanced serum 100ml
Herbal recovery eye cream 15ml
Replenishing cleansing lotion 200ml
Rosewater balancing mist 100ml
Skin balancing face oil 50ml 

Some of these products do contain lavender oil and as you may be aware I'm actually allergic to lavender, however I think I might give them a try. So far I've only found that I have a reaction if I actually touch lavender (it makes me itch) but I haven't actually reacted to a product that contains lavender yet. So I may cautiously give those products a try or I'll pass them on to somebody else. 

I've mentioned before that one of the things I love about Jurlique is that their products have expiry dates printed on both the outer box and the actual packaging. This is so useful with a collection like this as it's likely that I won't be trying out some of the products for several months while I use up others, but I can see exactly how long I have left to use each of these products. Although I haven't double checked each individual product yet the set has an expiry date of May 2016, so I have a full year and a half to use them. I am so grateful that I was lucky enough to win this set and I'm looking forward to giving everything a try.

Which item would you most like to try from the Glow Ultimate face & body collection?

 
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