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China Glaze Ever Glaze Extended wear gel nail varnishes

Although I'm a big fan of nail varnish I've never really bothered with gel varnishes before. I can't wear proper gel varnishes that are cured because I can't remove them (it burns my skin) and I've never really thought that standard nail varnishes with a 'gel effect' could look quite the same. I've also never tried a China Glaze nail varnish before, maybe because they're not widely available over here in the UK. So I was definitely up for an opportunity to try a few shades from China Glaze's new Ever Glaze range.

China Glaze Ever Glaze Extended wear gel nail varnishes

I received three shades from the range; Adrenaline Rush*, White Noise* and Pretty Poppy*. The bottles these come in somehow manage to look quite standard but also slightly unusual. They have what I can only describe as a rounded semi-circle shape if you look at them from the top and an upside-down skirted shape looking at them straight on. 

Although the two bright shades do satisfy my love of a bright colour they aren't really the sort of shades I would usually go for. Poppy would suggest to me a red shade but it's actually orange and I've never really been a fan of orange nail shades. Adrenaline Rush is a pink I would consider wearing but it does contain a very very fine blue shimmer that I'm not keen on. White Noise is a pretty standard clean white. As I predicted the white has all but disappeared in the swatch below but it is there!

China Glaze Ever Glaze Extended wear gel nail varnishes

When I first saw the brush I thought it was a little on the short and stumpy side and I did think it might make application a little difficult. It's a very neat, precise looking brush and I did find that actually it helped with very precise application. I did need to make sure there wasn't too much varnish on the brush though as although I liked the formula if you did use too much it had a tendency to run down and pool at the sides of the nail. 

Pretty Poppy and Adrenaline Rush are probably two coaters and do leave a nice glossy gel like finish, but I do like to add my current top coat of choice Essie Gel Setter on top. White nail varnishes are notoriously difficult to apply and White Noise did take three coats to even out the colour but the texture was still a little uneven. This should be sorted out with a good top coat. I didn't notice that the finish on any of them was particularly 'plump', but I think that is hard to achieve with a standard nail varnish unless you use a lot, which then takes forever to dry. 

My nails are quick chippers; I usually have at least a chip or two within a day and then if I don't stop myself I start picking. I've only worn Pretty Poppy for any length of time (and I surprised myself by actually quite liking the colour) and although I took it off to change colour after a few days I don't think I had any chips when I did take it off, maybe just a little tip wear. Although the colours maybe weren't for me these are nice nail varnishes and I'd definitely consider buying a shade I liked more. 

These are exclusive to Sally so they're not that easy to get hold of, but if you don't have a store nearby you can order them online here and they're £8.99 each.

What's your favourite gel nail varnish?

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The red hair colour refreshers - Schwarzkopf & Maria Nila

If you follow me on Twitter you may know that my red hair is gone and I'm back to brunette again. There are a couple of reasons why I decided to give up on having red hair. The first is that red hair is very high maintenance and to be honest a bit of a pain in the bum. But the main reason for me was to do with work. If you don't know I work in TV and film and when I decided to go red there were very few periods roles around. Sods law as soon as I dyed my hair an unnatural colour pretty much all the roles became period roles. These are some of my favourite roles to do, but with an unnatural hair colour I don't stand a chance of being cast. For some roles they're really picky and will only use people who have completely natural hair (no dye), but others will take people with dyed hair as long as it's a natural colour and not obviously dyed. So I went back to brunette and now actually have the colour I was originally after when I left my naturally blonde hair behind five and a half years ago.

As the red has now gone I thought I should probably review a couple of red hair products I was using before I give them away. I will point out that I've only used these products once, maybe twice each because I did tend to just re-dye my hair when I was home. So I don't think I've used then enough for a thorough review, but I can give you my initial thoughts on them.

Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher & Maria Nila Colour Refresh
Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher

Although I have changed brand at the moment (I'm not ruling out going back though) I've always been quite loyal to the Schwarzkopf Live XXL dyes. When I first went red I used a different brand but when the colour washed out completely within three weeks I decided to go back to using the XXL dyes. Of course being a red shade it did still fade quite considerably, but it didn't wash out completely. I spotted a tweet from a PR regarding Schwarzkopf's new Live Colour Refreshers and when I asked if they had any information on the products I could read before I decided whether or not to buy one they kindly sent me one to try.

The Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher* is a ready to use mousse that doesn't need mixing and can be used in the shower without gloves. You can apparently get six uses out of each pack. To use you shampoo as normal, shake the can well before spraying some mousse into your hand and applying evenly. You then wash your hands well and leave for three minutes before rinsing away. 

Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refresher

Although this is suitable for different red shades (the shades are all shown on the back of the pack) I did think this might be a little too bright for me as my shade was quite a dark red. Using this certainly wasn't anywhere near like re-dying my hair, but it did freshen it up a little. It might be good to use if you're going somewhere or doing something but don't want to or don't have the time to re-dye your hair. It was a little bright for my hair but worked well if I wanted to head a little more towards a bright red rather than darker red. I can't see on the packaging how long this is supposed to last but I would estimate maybe a couple of washes at the most.

Maria Nila Colour Refresh

I became aware of Maria Nila when their products were featured on a few blogs maybe last year and their packaging definitely attracted me to their products. Being a Swedish brand they aren't easy to get hold of in the UK, but you can find them in Sally stores and on the Sally website. I'm quite lucky that there's a Sally store probably a couple of minutes walk from my boyfriends house, so I headed down and picked up one of their Colour Refresh products to try. They have a good range of shades available, including a couple of slightly more unusual shades, and for the red haired ladies they have Bright Red and Autumn Red. As I said my red was on the darker shade so I went for Autumn Red. 

Like their colour masque (which I will get round to reviewing at some point) this product is gorgeous. It's 100% vegan, sulphate and paraben free and contains softening argan oil. This one you apply evenly to towel dried hair and leave for between three and ten minutes depending on the result you want before rinsing out. This is a thick, conditioner like product that smells amazing and you will need to wear to gloves to use it as it's a deep, dark red shade that will leave your hands red. 

This one was much closer to my shade of red and I loved the effect it had on my hair. It really did refresh my colour, although not quite as much as actually dying it, and it also left my hair feeling amazing. Unfortunately I couldn't say how long this lasts, maybe only a couple of washes, but this is the sort of product I would consider using every Sunday maybe as a conditioning masque and colour booster. Although I'm sure my new brunette shade won't fade anywhere near like my red did I'm considering picking up a brown shade to help keep it looking glossy and healthy. I'm also considering keeping actually keeping the red and using it if I fancy a short-term slight red tint to my hair.

You can find the Schwarzkopf Live Colour Refreshers (£4.29) in Boots and Superdrug and can find the Maria Nila Colour Refresh (£16.99) in Sally stores and online.

Do you ever use a colour refresher on your hair? 

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Merumaya Melting Cleansing balm

I've been a fan of cleansing oils for a while now and have recently come around to cleansing balms, so when I saw a tweet looking for people to try Merumaya's Melting Cleansing balm* I put myself forward.

Merumaya Melting Cleansing balm

Although I have heard of the brand Merumaya this is my first experience of using one of their products. The Melting Cleansing balm contains echium oil which contains omega 3, 6 and 9 to reduce lines and wrinkles, improve elasticity and help to repair barrier function. It also contains sweet almond oil, which Merumaya refer to as a 'wash on' moisturiser, leaving a velvety feel on the skin. Although called a balm this is somewhere between a cleansing oil and a traditional 'solid' balm. Whereas an oil will usually come in a bottle with a pump and a balm in a tub or pot, this one comes in a squeezable tube. It dispenses easy providing a 'blob' of silky feeling balm. Although it doesn't actually require melting down the best way to apply the balm is to rub it between your fingers to spread out the balm before applying to dry skin.

There is a fragrance to the product but I can't actually place what this is. Although reasonably strong I don't find it particularly overpowering and it's quite pleasant as you massage the product in to your skin. I haven't actually tried using this to remove make-up but while I don't like using solid balms because I have trouble removing them from my eyes, I don't think this would be a problem at all with this one. As I said this is a very silky feeling balm so you don't need to use an awful lot and it glides over skin easily. After massaging into the skin for a while you add water to emulsify into a milk. Merumaya recommend then removing with a cloth but I've found it is easy enough to remove this just with water. 

As winter has been starting to change into spring I've been struggling with very dry skin and I've turned to this to try and get some moisture into my skin. It's one of those cleansers that not only leaves your skin feeling really clean but also not at all stripped, as if you've used a light moisturiser rather than cleanser. Using this and a few other fail safe products my skin has improved and I'm not having to battle with dry patches as much now. 

The Merumaya Melting Cleansing balm is £16.50 and is available from the Merumaya website. 

Have you tried any Merumaya products?

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Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co - April 2016

I follow Anna, the founder of Rifle Paper Co, on Instagram and last year she posted a picture of the April US Birchbox which featured a Rifle Paper Co collaboration. The box was gorgeous and I really hoped we might get a similar collaborations over here in the UK. Fast forward exactly a year and that collaboration has now arrived. 

As much as I love the box I was holding out to see what products were included inside the box before I decided if I should order it or not. However, yesterday I was surprised when the electrician working on the house next door bought round a Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co box* for me (he'd taken in the delivery from Yodel)!

Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co - April 2016
Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co - April 2016

Just in case you haven't heard of Rifle Paper Co (if not where have you been?!) they are an American stationery and lifestyle brand. Even if you weren't sure who they are it's likely you've probably seen one of their gorgeous floral prints, probably on a notebook, in a picture somewhere. Subscribers can choose between two boxes, which are the Herb garden and Jardin de Paris. Mine is the Herb Garden design and it's absolutely gorgeous. I haven't seen the Jardin de Paris box in person or in a picture yet, but I personally think Herb garden is the prettier of the two. This month you can also 'upgrade' your box by adding a pocket notebook duo for just £4 (RRP £8).

Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co - April 2016
Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co - April 2016

The product Birchbox revealed early on in the month was one of four Benefit minis, which included BADgal, They're Real, Air Patrol and Dew the Hoola. As the mascaras are my top two favourites and I haven't tried the other products I'd have been happy with any of them, but I received a sample of one of their brand new releases; Dew the Hoola. As somebody who doesn't really use bronzer I have to admit I'm a little scared of this product. but I'm determined to embrace the bronze this year so I'll definitely be giving this a try. 

Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co - April 2016

I really really (really really) wanted to be able to try the balance Me Tinted Wonder eye cream as I do like balance Me products, but as I suspected it does contain lavender so I won't be able to use this and will instead be passing it on to my mum. 

I try to make sure I use heat protection every time I dry or straighten my hair so I was pleased to see the Parlor by Jeff Chastain Detangling Leave-in conditioner. This moisturises, add shines, detangles and protects from heat. I personally much prefer a hair product like this that only claims to do a few things rather than a long list of things it probably can't deliver on. Although I use heat protection sprays regularly I find them all pretty similar so I'm waiting for the one to come along that is going to impress me. 

The Cynthia Rowley eye liner crayon is a repeat product for me (and I still haven't actually tried the first one!) so I'll also be passing this one on to my mum who uses kohl liner every day and has done for as long as I can remember. 

Birchbox + Rifle Paper Co - April 2016

Kueshi is a brand I haven't personally come across before and so I'm not aware of the Kueshi Foot care cream. This contains sweet almond oil and royal jelly for their moisturising properties and tea tree oil as an antiseptic. This appears to be quite a light cream, so I'm not sure how well this will work if you have particularly dry feet, but I'll be slapping on a thick layer and popping some socks on. 

As well as a beautifully designed box I'm impressed with the contents this month. There's a good range of products, including make-up, skincare and hair care and a mix of recognised brands and ones that people might not have come across before. 

As a US brand Rifle Paper Co products can be a little difficult to get hold of over here in the UK but to celebrate the collaboration a selection of products are now available in the Birchbox shop. You can choose from notepads, notebooks, planners and iPhone cases. Subscribers will also receive a discount code for 25% off all products, including shipping and is valid until the end of the year. Even the card with the discount code on is beautifully illustrated! You can subscribe to Birchbox here

If you're not already a subscriber will you be ordering the April box?

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Instagram round-up March 2016

Recently I've become a little bit obsessed with Instagram. In November 2014 I decided to completely overhaul and work on my Pinterest and that was my focus throughout 2015. This year however I decided to have a good go at improving my Instagram and attempting to grow my following. Some of the changes Instagram have already made and the ones they're planning to make are probably going to make it difficult for smaller accounts to try and grow, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. 

I'm really pleased with the improvement in my Instagram images and by improving my images and interacting a lot more I've seen an increase in followers. So far this year I've already gained more followers than I gained through the whole of 2015! Quite high levels of unfollowing because I haven't followed back doesn't make it easy, but I'm pushing through that. 

I thought I might launch a little series on my blog showing some of my favourite images from my Instagram. This post covers the first quarter of the year but as I am managing to keep up with pretty much daily posting (sometimes several times a day) I might do it monthly in the future.


I didn't really intend to but I appear to have fallen into a 'light and bright' theme. I don't stick to this religiously, if I want to post something slightly different I will do, but as I don't get out much my images are mostly of what beauty products I'm playing around with at home. These aren't necessarily my most 'liked' pictures, but are my favourites. 

T:L I've had a few problems with my Clinique 'Kiss it Better' lipsticks (these ones are squashed and I'm waiting for replacements) but the packaging is gorgeous.

T:M I've only recently tried The Comforter bubble bar for the first time and you're all so right, it smells amazing! I wanted to try one of Lush's shower creams so of course had to try The Comforter one (and it's love!).

T:R I've been after an app for ages that can make one part of a black and white image colour and I finally found one. It's not perfect but it works and I enjoy playing around with it occasionally.

M:L I had a mammoth blog photography session with my new light boxes and I chucked a load of products on a candle tray (blog photography prop!) to carry downstairs.  

M:M The Lush Unicorn Horns also got the Colour Splash Effect app makeover. I can't use them because they contain lavender, but I can certainly appreciate how pretty they are. 

M:R I was lucky enough to win the entire bareMinerals Lovescape collection and my pictures of the collection have been very popular on Instagram. This one currently holds the record for the most 'like's on my account.

B:L The Body Shop are shortly launching a new product called Honey Bronze Drops of Sun and I've been trying it out to provide a review for the product page on their website. This is similar to the Clarins Glow Booster launched a year or two ago.

B:M I completely forgot about sporting 'Mini Egg' nails this Easter but popped up a picture with the options on Easter Sunday. 

B:R I think there are plenty of Juicy Shaker reviews around at the moment so I just popped up a picture to say I think they're pretty fab! They feel and smell amazing (mine is Meli Melon). 

If you'd like to follow me on Instagram you can find me here and please leave me the usernames of some of your favourites accounts in a comment below.

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Avene PhysioLift eyes and Smoothing Regenerating night balm

I'm a member of Thirty Plus, which was created by Hayley from London Beauty Queen and consists of bloggers from all genres who are 30 and over. Blogging is often seen as a 'young' thing, so Thirty Plus is all about recognising and celebrating that there are bloggers out there who are in their 30s, 40s and beyond. You really don't have to be over 30 though, it's not an exclusive club, so you can join if you are younger. If you'd like to read more about Thirty Plus just click on the image in my sidebar.

Hayley has gathered together bloggers from around the country to organise events close to them but Hayley herself organises Thirty Plus events down in London. Towards the end of last year Thirty Plus held an event with Avene to take a look at their new PhysioLift range. As I'm based a couple of hours drive from London I can only really afford to travel there for work, so I was unable to attend the event, but I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of PhysioLift products to try for myself. I was sent the Avene PhysioLift Smoothing Regenerating night balm* and Avene PhysioLift eyes*.

Avene PhysioLift Night and Eyes

I've been struggling for so long to try and get a good picture of these bottles but they just don't photograph well unfortunately, or I just don't have the skills! Avene have recognised that anti-ageing products can be harsh on sensitive skin causing irritation, dryness and breakouts. Therefore those with sensitive skin may have to choose between products designed to improve the signs of ageing and those designed designed for sensitive skin. They've addressed this by creating a range of products containing active ingredients that are gentle on the skin. 

One ingredient in the Physiolift products is retinaldehyde, which is as effective as retinol but less irritating on the skin. This is derived from vitamin A and works to rejuvenate the skin boosting radiance. They also contain hyaluronic acid fragments. Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that holds on to water and 'fills' space within the skin, however to be absorbed to the correct level of the skin the molecule needs to be split into the correct size fragments. This plumps the skin helping to deliver moisture and support collagen. Finally Ascofilline is a collagen-boosting ingredient that is exclusive to Avene. This replenishes the skin, boosting collagen to help skin look plump and fresh.

Although I'm approaching my mid-30s now I'm lucky enough that I'm not really starting to show any signs of ageing yet, which I think is due to good genes passed down from my mum. I do get a few lines on my forehead sometimes but this is more due to dehydration and having very expressive eyebrows, rather than ageing. So while I can comment on how these products made my skin feel and look I can't really comment on any effects on the signs of ageing. 

My favourite product of the two I have from the range is definitely the eye cream. Despite suffering from dark circles that I really wish would disappear I don't always remember to use eye cream because I just haven't really found one that I particularly enjoy using. The only time I really remember is when the skin around my eyes becomes really dry and flaky, which isn't particularly attractive. As soon as I tried PhysioLift eyes I instantly liked it and have gone from maybe using an eye cream once a day if I remembered two using this twice a day religiously. As I've said I don't really have any fine lines around my eyes, so I can't comment on any improvement to lines that aren't currently there, but I just really like how this makes the skin around my eyes feel. It absorbs very quickly leaving nothing behind on my skin and my skin feel smooth and plump. I haven't noticed any improvement to my dark circles but I personally think these are hereditary as nothing ever improves them.

Although PhysioLift eyes is my favourite product of the two this doesn't mean I dislike PhysioLift night in any way. This isn't particularly a rich cream, I'd describe it as more of a gel cream, and my skin drinks it up. My skin does tend to prefer gel creams over anything else anyway but this might also be due to those correctly sized hyaluronic acid fragments getting down to where they need to get to. I don't really know enough about this kind of thing to make a call like that. Just like the eye cream this leaves my skin feeling smooth, plump and hydrated and looking good too. 

One last thing about both products is that although the packaging is a bugger to photograph I am impressed by it. Both products come with a lid and a twist lock on the dispenser and the product is dispensed through quite a small hole that is covered until you press on the dispenser. Not only does this help with not dispensing too much product, you can dispense tiny amounts if you want to, but also helps keep any active ingredients as fresh as possible as no air is getting to them. 

Overall I'm really impressed with both products and would definitely recommend them and consider purchasing them myself in the future. The eye cream is £22 for 15ml and night cream £26 for 30ml and both are available in Boots stores.

Do you use any anti-ageing products yet?

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