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Tanya Burr Cosmetics 12 days of Christmas beauty calendar

I might be approaching my mid-30s but for as long as I can remember my mum has always bought me a chocolate advent calendar. She won't be buying me one this year as I no longer live at home (I finally managed to move out this year six years after I first planned to!) and I didn't have an advent calendar lined up at all, chocolate or otherwise. I recently received an email saying there were a few of Tanya Burr's advent calendars* available, so I jumped at the chance as I haven't tried any of Tanya Burr's products yet and have never had a proper beauty advent calendar either, only one my boyfriend created for me one year (which was so sweet).

Tanya Burr Cosmetics 12 days of Christmas beauty calendar
Tanya Burr Cosmetics 12 days of Christmas beauty calendar

This one has been a bit of a bugger to photograph, both for my post and for Instagram, because as pretty as it is it's very pastel and kept coming out very washed out. The design is very pretty featuring a pastel blue town house with pink windows, gold accents and Christmasy additions such as a wreath on the door and a snowman. 

As much as I want to open the whole thing right now to see what's in there and to show you, I know I'll regret it later when I have nothing to open. So what I will do is open the doors day by day and pop a picture on my Instagram to show the product behind each door. This is only a 12 day calendar, so I wasn't sure when I should actually be starting it, but after asking for advice on Twitter I've decided to start on the 1st December and open a door every-other-day. I believe you are supposed to start a 12 day calendar 12 days into December, but obviously I can't wait that long! 

Tanya Burr Cosmetics 12 days of Christmas beauty calendar

I won't tell you the shades included (although I believe some are special Christmas shades based on the names) but you will find three nail varnishes, two lip glosses, two glitter pots, two glitter liners, one matte lip product, one nail file and a mirror. I've particularly liked the look of a couple of Tanya's nail varnishes so I'm looking forwarding to discovering those. Don't forget if you want to see what is behind each door hop over and follow me on Instagram.

The Tanya Burr Cosmetics 12 days of Christmas beauty calendar is £25 and can be found online at FeelUnique and also on the Superdrug website where it is currently reduced but also out of stock. 

Do you have an advent calendar this year? Which one do you have?

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Fragrances that have taken me by surprise

When celebrity fragrances first became a thing I didn't have anything against them at all, in fact as a perfume addict I had several of them that I really liked. I believe Britney Spears was one of the first celebrities to release a fragrance and I had several different versions of Fantasy. Over time more and more 'celebrities' released their own fragrances and by the time we got to somebody who came 5th in Big brother I'd lost interest. Bottles/packaging got cheaper and tackier looking and I decided that was probably the end of celebrity fragrances for me.

When I was contacted by Hayley from Thirty Plus asking if I'd like to try out Michael Bublé's debut fragrance my first thought was to turn down the opportunity. For one, it was a celebrity fragrance (although good old Bublé I would definitely class as a full on celebrity) and two he's a male doing a female fragrance. Female celebrities doing female fragrances, fair enough, but male celebrities doing female frangrances doesn't sit well with me. I was really disappointed when I saw that One Direction were releasing a (cheap and cheerful) make-up range. The only reason I could see for doing it was to cash-in on their young fans who would buy anything with 1D on. However, I saw that it was described as a fine fragrance and had a price-point to match and I decided to give it a try.

Michael Buble By Invitation & Monsoon Rose Gold
Michael Buble By Invitation & Monsoon Rose Gold

Another type of fragrance I've always been unsure of is the ones released by high street shops such as Next or Topshop. A couple of clothes shops, namely H&M and Topshop, have managed to pull of very good make-up lines, but fragrance is another thing and I don't think I've ever smelt one I particularly liked. A few months ago I was offered the opportunity to try a fragrance from Monsoon and it was actually my Monsoon eBay habit several years ago that made me give it a chance. I went through a stage of loving Monsoon's gorgeous skirts but not wanting to pay Monsoon's prices. So whenever I spotted a skirt I loved I headed to eBay and would usually find it on there for much cheaper. I kept hold of them for years, although I'm not sure I have any of them left now due to space reasons, so I wanted to see what their perfume was like. 

Michael Buble By Invitation & Monsoon Rose Gold

When I first pulled By Invitation* out of the envelope I was surprised by the size of the box and then the bottle, but this is the 100ml size. The bottle itself is probably one of the most unique bottles I've seen while still actually looking like a bottle. The packaging is gold and has a 'frame' that the bottle is suspended inside. It has a lid with what looks like a fairground shooting stall target on it (which I've just realised is supposed to look like a traditional atomiser) that pulls off to reveal the spray dispenser. It's quite a large, heavy bottle but the design does mean it might be quite easy to knock over if you bump into it. 

By Invitation is described as a crisp, floral, Oriental fragrance. It has top notes of red fruits and bergamot with heart notes of lilly of the valley, elegant rose, wild jasmine and spicy peony and base notes of sandlewood-musks and vanilla praline. This is quite a strong fragrance that I can still smell on myself a couple of hours after applying and that lasts really well. It's quite a floral scent to begin with and I thought it settles down to an almost spicy based scent but I think I'm misinterpreting what is actually an oriental scent as described. It's possibly not quite my kind of scent, I can't quite make up my mind about it, but I can appreciate that it is a high quality fragrance. 

As I said this is classed as a fine fragrance and definitely has a price point to reflect that with the largest bottle costing around the same as a small bottle from a traditional high-end brand. Prices range from £29 for 30ml up to £55 for the 100ml. 

Michael Buble By Invitation & Monsoon Rose Gold

Monsoon appear to have jumped on the rose gold bandwagon by not only going for a white box with rose gold writing and accents but have also called the fragrance itself Rose Gold*. To get the bottle out of the box you just pull the top of the box and the lid slides off. However, this does mean if you do forget that and go to pick up the box from the top rather than just open it you might end up dropping the bottle. The bottle is pretty enough but not the best I've seen and I tend to store it in the box because I find that slightly more attractive for display purposes.

When it comes to notes this one starts off with top notes of sparkling lemon, soft fruits and ozonic scents. I did have to look that last one up and it means 'aquatic' or 'watery'; meaning it has a sea-like or fresh citrus effect. These are layered over velvety rose, tuberose, neroli and cyclamen and base notes of Eastern woods, vanilla, mosses, musk and balsamic amber. I actually thought that perfumes only tend to have three scents to each layer, so this one is quite jam-packed. I don't think this is quite as strong as By Invitation but it does last well and this one is a sweeter scent with a musky base. Again I'm not entirely sure this one is quite me, but I do find myself reaching for it here and there.

I was surprised to find that the 30ml size I have here is £24 and the 100ml £35. For a fragrance from a high street retailer I'd expect to pay a little less than that and I'm not sure I'd pay that much for it myself.

You can find Rose Gold in Monsoon stores or online and By Invitation on the dedicated website.

Are you a fan of celebrity or high street store fragrances?

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Black Friday shopping tips

To be honest I have absolutely no idea what Black Friday is all about. The only thing I do know is that it originates in the USA and like Halloween it has now become big over here in the UK. For us at least Black Friday is a day (or sometimes longer, especially in the case of Amazon) where retailers offer big discounts on products. Although I have no idea what Black Friday is based on I personally think it's great that we've taken up the tradition. For retailers it means they get a surge in sales in the run up to Christmas, with Christmas often accounting for a large portion of their yearly sales anyway, and for us it means we can grab some bargains. Last year I think I picked up two presents for family members in the Black Friday sales (and a little treat for myself too of course).



There are a few things you need to be careful of when it comes to looking at what's on offer for Black Friday though. A lot of people (I'm aware not all do) love spending money and buying things, especially when we think we're getting a bargain, but is it really a bargain when you later realise you don't actually need or even want the product you've bought. It's easy to get swept along in the excitement of thinking 'Oh wow that's cheap'.

Last year I set myself some rules for spending on Black Friday and this year I thought I'd add a few more and turn them into a tips post to try and help avoid the dreaded buyers regret once the day has passed.

Repurchases 
Make a list of the products you're currently using that you were already planning to repurchase at some point in the near future, maybe within the next month, and look out for those on offer. There may be no point picking something up that you're still not going to finish for another six months because depending on the product, by the time you open the new one it might expire quickly and then ay saving you've made will have been wasted. 

Wishlist
Make a wishlist ahead of time with specific products that you've wanted to try for a while and look out for them. This should hopefully stop you buying a product you don't really want just because it's cheap.

Brands
This one is a little more risky but if there aren't any specific products you want make a list of brands you'd like to try and browse those for discounts. Try and only buy products you will actually use though or again you could end up buying something just because it's cheap. Maybe make a quite specific list of the type of products you'd like to try within those brands such as oil cleansers or liquid lipstick and stick to those products.

Christmas gifts 
Make a list of the sort of Christmas gifts you'd like to buy each person and stick to it, even if you don't actually end up finding any gifts for anyone. You don't want to end up buying something that isn't really suitable for them because you convinced yourself it was perfect for them because it was a bargain.

Budget 
Set yourself a realistic budget that you can actually afford and stick to it, even if you later come across something else on your wishlist. There's no point getting into debt for a bargain.

Cashback 
If you're shopping online sign up to a cashback site and make sure you check if they offer cashback for the site you want to buy something from before you buy it. If they are offering big enough discounts they might well have put a hold on cashback offers for Black Friday, but it's worth a try. I've always used Quidco and find it very good. You can sign up for Quidco here

Avoidance 
If you really can't afford to spend anything and know that you won't be able to resist it on the day have an offline day or ask someone you trust to look after your debit/credit card and only give it back to you once Black Friday has passed. 

Happy shopping and I hope you find some bargains if you want them!

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The Body Shop festive scents 2016

The Body Shop has now released its limited edition festive scents for 2016 and this year there's been a little bit of a change. Last year saw the return of Glazed Apple, Frosted Cranberry and Frosted Plum replaced what was Vanilla Brûlee in 2014. This year we've seen a complete change with none of last years scents making a return this year. Vanilla is back in the form of Vanilla Chai, instead of cranberry or plum we have Frosted Berries and Glazed Apple has become Spiced Apple. 

The Body Shop festive hand creams
The Body Shop festive hand creams
The Body Shop festive hand creams

I have to say I'm really disappointed Glazed Apple hasn't returned this year as that was definitely my favourite out of their festive scents. I know it was very popular in 2014 as I only managed to get my hands on one hand cream before they sold out, but maybe it wasn't as popular in 2015. However, to be honest Spiced Apple is probably slightly more appropriate as a festive scent. Glazed Apple was a sugary sweet scent of apple whereas Spiced Apple is basically warm cinnamon apple pie. I don't know about your family but in ours those mini apple pies always feature in our Christmas dinner for the people who don't like mince pies.

I'm sure you know by now that I'm a big fan of The Body Shop's hand creams and it's become a tradition for me to pick up a few in the festive scents as soon as I can. I didn't get one in Vanilla Chai because I wasn't that blown away by it but I picked up the other two and was pleased to get them on buy one get one half price. As I've mentioned Spiced Apple is warm apple pie in a tube and Frosted Berries is a sweet berry scent. I haven't tried either of them out yet but I already know they're amazing! 

Products available in the festive scents include body scrub, body lotion, shower gel, foaming bath, shimmer mist, a fragrance oil and a candle. I think I might have to get my hands on that candle, although I am a little disappointing the actual candle isn't a little bit more exciting to look at as it looks rather plain. You can get your hands on the festive scents in store and online

Will you be picking up any products in any of the festive scents?

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Birchbox x Tatler November 2016 - Shake Your Tail Feather

This month Birchbox have teamed up with British magazine Tatler for a collaboration for the November box. Birchbox have previously collaborated with Tatler, but that was for an additional box you could purchase on top of your monthly subscription. The design of this months box is peacock feather and the theme 'Shake Your Tail Feather' is designed to get you ready for the party season.

Birchbox x Tatler November 2016 - Shake Your Tail Feather

Sadly you don't get a real peacock feather in the box, this is one my dad bought home for me last year, but as I had it and it's appropriate and beautiful I thought I'd pop it in the picture. I really need to find a little vase to store it in as it currently just lays on top of my jewellery box. Speaking of peacock feathers this months box is design is gorgeous. As I said in my last post I haven't been a fan of the designs of the drawer style boxes so far but October and November's box designs have been much more to my liking and when I get some time they will both be going on my desk as storage.

Birchbox x Tatler November 2016 - Shake Your Tail Feather
Birchbox x Tatler November 2016 - Shake Your Tail Feather

The first product I found in my box this month was a Nuxe Crème Prodigieuse Anti-Fatigue moisturising cream, which is for normal to combination skin. I tend to have normal to dry skin but as my skin does have problems absorbing products I'm definitely not opposed to trying products aimed more towards normal skin. I was a little disappointed to see a moisturiser sample in my box, but only because I have so many to get through and don't really need any more. Nuxe is a nice brand so I can see it being a nice product and to be honest with currently being ill and spending my entire life making puppets (hence the lack of posts recently) I might be needing an anti-fatigue product soon! This is a sample size of 15ml.

Next up I was excited to see an OCC product which is the Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar primer. I have previously tried a Lip Tar product, but I used too much and got in a right mess and threw it in a drawer and when I pulled it out again it had separated. This is actually a primer designed to help your lip product of choice stay in place for longer. As a big lipstick wearer I'm excited to try this. It contains Vitamin E, hemp and peppermint oil so it also soothes and hydrates. It's only a 2.5ml sample but you won't need to use much at all each time.

Birchbox x Tatler November 2016 - Shake Your Tail Feather
Birchbox x Tatler November 2016 - Shake Your Tail Feather

My next product is a full size one and is a High Definition Brow Define brow crayon in Vamp. I'm still yet to get on board with doing anything with my brows beyond tinting them here and there. I do actually have some now after managing to grow them out, but I'm not one for filling them in as I'm just not confident enough. It's probably something I should try though as they are a little sparse/bordering on bald in places. This is supposed to be enriched with oils so it glides on easily but after testing it on my hand I've found it quite hard and sharp with little colour payoff. It does come with a sharpener in the lid though, which is always handy.

Although I've tried a couple of different Tangle Teezers I'm yet to try a Wet Brush so I was pleased to see a Midi Wet Brush in my box. This is obviously full size as you can't really have a sample size hair brush, but I believe 'midi' means it's not the largest size one they do. I have heard Wet Brushes are supposed to be better than Tangle Teezers so I look forward to seeing how I go with it. My only disappointment with this is that I would have loved to have got the purple one!

Finally I found a 4ml sample of Darphin Rose Aromatic Care Essential oil elixir. I don't think I've tried anything from Darphin before and I do like trying out a new oil, but this contains lavandula, which is a type of lavender, so due to my allergy I won't be able to try this out. 

Although some of the products are not ideal for me personally, I think this month's box is a pretty good one. Highlights for me are the Wet Brush and the OCC lip primer, but the oil will be passed on, the eye pencil probably never used and the moisturiser will go to the back of the queue. If you'd like to sign up to get your hands on the Birchbox x Tatler box you can do so here. Oh and before I forget a sneek peak of the December box reveals it will contain a full size Ciate Fierce Flicks eye liner. 

What do you think of this months box?

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