Thursday, 29 November 2012

Review: GHD Root Lift Spray

I have always longed for thick, lustrous locks but unfortunately we can't have everything we want in this life so I have come to accept my fine hair for what it is.  This means I am always on the hunt for hair care products that will add that extra oomph to my flat hair.  I am not a fan of back-combing my hair every day because it's incredibly damaging and just leads to a head full of split ends.  Not a good look!

I had heard good things about the GHD Root Lift Spray and decided to give it a whirl to try and inject some much needed volume into my barnet.

As you would expect, the spray comes in very sleek and simple packaging which has become synonymous with the GHD brand.  Here's the low-down on what the product claims to do:

"Prevent your style from falling flat by prepping with this effective boosting spray – the perfect pick-me-up for hair prone to looking limp and lifeless. Contains the ghd Heat Protection System. Best for: Creating root lift and body in fine, limp hair; Creating a firm foundation at the root area for styling; Giving a boost to styles that have fallen flat or been slept on".

Although this has a very practical spray nozzle, I personally prefer to spray it into my hands and work it into my roots with my fingertips.  I find with all hair products that this distributes it more evenly rather than just saturating clumps of your hair.  I only use 3 sprays of this Root Lift Spray to achieve the results shown below and it works really well, even on my (now) super long hair.  This spray is aerosol free, smells very pleasant and doesn't have that sticky feel that some volumising products have.

I really like that you are getting two products for the price of one, given that the spray also contains the GHD heat protection system.  I'm all about the heat protection people!  I simply used a large bristle round brush to tease the hair upwards and with no back-combing whatsoever, this is how much hair turned out...

I am pretty darn impressed to be completely honest with you! It's very difficult to create volume when your hair gets past a certain length but this product made it really easy to create more lift in the roots of my hair.  It feels very lightweight with no 'crispy' sensation and the hair still has movement which is important to me as I prefer the natural look.  The volume lasted a good 10 hours without me having to faff around with my hair - pretty good when the atmosphere is decidedly damp outside!

The product can also be used between washes apparently but I found it worked MUCH better when applied on damp hair and dried fully with a hair dryer.  I suspect it needs the heat of the dryer to reach it's full potential.  The RRP for this product is £12.95 but you can get it here at the moment for £9.90.

I will definitely be using this product copiously over the festive season what with all the soirees I have lined up (soiree sounds MUCH more sophisticated than a plain old night out).  My 30th birthday is coming up in December so having more voluminous hair might detract from the grief of exiting my 20's!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

My Winter Skin Essentials

I had some major beauty SOS moments over the last week or so which made me start thinking about which products I rely on most during the winter months.  We generally all have to step things up in winter with regards to our beauty routine, especially when the weather starts to play havoc with our hair and skin.

So here is a quick run-down of my favourite winter go-to products...

Origins Clean Energy - This cleansing oil is a god-send when your skin gets particularly dry.  It's lightweight, easy to use and doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy.  It's provides that extra bit of hydration my skin needs when the temperatures drop and calms any dry patches.  This is my second bottle but the first one lasted for 9 months.  I start using it before bed in early November and it really does help keep my skin soft and smooth.

The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in 1 Scrub - I generally pull this lovely product out when I have a stubborn dry patch on my face, which happened this week in fact.  Used in conjunction with the oil cleanser, it really helps to soothe any irritated skin and calms any redness. The dry patch was considerably smoother after just one 15 minute application of this mask! I am definitely a fan!

Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins - I have raved about this product many a time and it's still one of my top 3 night moisturisers.  It's packed with loads of goodness and it's a fantastic winter night moisturiser.  You wake up with baby soft skin that looks radiant and rested.  Origins skincare really is hard to beat!

Given that I suffer from Psoriasis, I have to be extra careful with my skincare routine at this time of year.  There isn't an option to skip body cream at night or get lazy with my routine.  I have to be meticulous with caring for my skin if I want it to stay looking healthy and smooth.

The Sanctuary Micro-Dermabrasion Body Renewal - This product really REALLY works! I apply it 2-3 times a week with my exfoliating gloves in the shower.  I work it into my skin with circular motions and use just a touch of shower gel to make it go a bit further.  My skin is left feeling incredibly smooth and have to try it! At less than £10, it's really worth giving it a go!

Aveeno Moisturising Creamy Oil - Ok, this stuff is my favourite body cream of anything I've ever tried before.  You want proof? This is my SIXTH bottle of the stuff! I apply it every single night and a little does go a long way.  Although it's oil-based, it's extremely lightweight and sinks into the skin very quickly.  It has really transformed my skin and I can't bear to be without it now (I have 3 back ups in the cupboard!).

I can be fussy when it comes to lip products because a lot of the balms on the market just don't cut the mustard with me.  I remember the mixed emotions when I tried By Terry Baume De Rose for the first was incredible BUT so expensive! I had been searching for a cheaper alternative and although I do still love the Korres Lip Balms, I like to have a heavy duty lip hydrater on stand by for those times when your smackers really do need emergency help.

I walk the dog come rain or shine and sometimes this means trudging around in freezing cold winds and rain. This is not good news for my lips and sometimes they get very dry.  My solution? Rodial Glam Balm Lip.  It's substantially cheaper than the By Terry balm, it's super hydrating and it lasts for ages.  I have been applying it as and when needed and I have to say that my lips are now looking like their former healthy self.  I have had this balm for a year now and you can see how much is left!

L'Occitane Sweet Almond Liquid Soap - My hands have a tendency to become dry husks in winter so I have to make sure I always use a nourishing hand wash that won't strip them of the natural oils.  This liquid hand soap from L'Occitane is perfect because it's detergent free, really gentle but still does the job.  Granted it is expensive for soap but the large dispensers last for a long time.  I've had this one since I moved into the new house in March!

The Sanctuary Ultra-Refining Hand Polish - We exfoliate our faces and bodies, so why not our hands? I like to keep this product at the bathroom sink so I can scrub away any dry skin while I wash my hands.  they do say you can tell how old a woman is by her hands so we all better keep them looking smooth and youthful!!!

OPI Avoplex High Intensity Hand and Nail Cream and OPI Avoplex Cuticle Oil To Go - This is by far my favourite hand cream for an immediate soothing and hydrating effect.  It smells lovely and keeps your hands silky soft.  The cuticle oil smells like apples and is amazing at keeping your nails in great condition.  If you have problems with peeling cuticles and dry skin around your nails then this would be perfect for you!

What are your winter skin essentials?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Review: Urban Decay Smoked Palette

As we enter the darker winter evenings, I think I naturally gravitate towards slightly darker, smoked up eyes.  The festive season brings many more special occasions and events which generally call for more glamourous make up.  Everyone can wear a smokey eye because it comes in many different guises and in varying intensity.

In my mind, this is where the Urban Decay Smoked palette comes in...

"An Urban Decay take on the always-popular smoky eye, this 10-shadow palette includes not just traditional greys and blacks, but matte neutral shadows AND a range of opulent jewel tones. Each velvety shade features Urban Decay's new shadow formula and proprietary Pigment Infusion System - Richer and smoother colour, more velvety texture and blendability and even longer-lasting results, this new formula is incredible! This palette revolutionizes the smoky eye, introducing exciting hues and looks, whether you commit to all-out night-time smoky or just apply a hint of sultry smudgy colour for daytime". 

This eye shadow palette comes in a zip around pouch and seems to be a sort of smokey addition to the Naked palettes previously released.  I am not so keen on the pouch packaging as those type of satin-esque finishes get mucky VERY quickly. I tend to favour more compact, slim-line packaging like that of the naked palettes.  Well, if it ain't broke...

The shades within the palette are as follows:

Kinky (matte light neutral peach) 
Freestyle (matte medium tan)
Mushroom (warm taupe-grey shimmer)

Backdoor (matte dark brown)
Blackout (matte blackest black)
Asphalt (gunmental grey shimmer)
Loaded (deep emerald metallic)

Barlust (dark golden brown metallic)
 Rockstar (deep purple shimmer)
Evidence (navy blue shimmer)

The palette also contains a 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion (matte blackest black) and Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion.  The pencil is intense and heavily pigmented as you would expect from Urban Decay's 24/7 liners.

What I really love is that this palette comes with a comprehensive how-to booklet by the brand's Co-Founder, Wende Zomnir.  This guide can help to inspire even the smoky-eye pros to try something new and teaches amateurs like myself the various looks that can be easily achieved. It encourages you to try out different combinations of the shades and create different shapes around the eye.  I'm always in favour of changing things up...some of my greatest beauty triumphs have been born out of just having a bash at something new!

Obviously, I found myself admiring the Cat Eye look below, no surprise given that a flick of black liner is my daily make up staple these days!  Saying that, I love the thought of working my way through the booklet and trying out all the different looks.  I really want to experiment with the deep purple Rockstar shade!

I definitely detected a change in the eye shadow formula and it's undoubtedly for the better! Even the matte shades are creamy, very well pigmented and smooth to apply.  Generally matte shades struggle to pack the same colour punch as metallic eye shadows but in this case they have really raised the bar with regards to the matte options in this palette.  Bravo Urban Decay!

What with all the events around this time of year, I can definitely see this palette becoming the go-to tool for transforming day make up into night time make up. None of the metallic shades have any fall out whatsoever and for me, that's very important.  Eye shadow is for your eyes, NOT your cheeks!

This palette would make an amazing Christmas present for anyone who loves a bit of smokefication (yes, I just completely made that word up).  At £35, it's not the cheapest of palettes but once you have swatched these shades, you will quickly see that you have to pay for quality.  When you know you will use something consistently, it's definitely worth paying extra for a product you can really rely on. This palette dares you to try something a bit more interesting than the usual grey/neutral toned smokey eye and for that reason, I think it rocks!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

DIY Christmas Decor

This will be our first Christmas in our new house so naturally we decided to make it really special in terms of decor and food.  The whole family will be coming over and I have been tasked with cooking Christmas dinner which I'm just slightly nervous about!  I think Christmas may actually be my favourite time of year...I'm praying for snow on Christmas Day!

After sifting through many MANY images on Pinterest, I felt inspired to make some of my own decorations this year.  Given that this is an old house, I want to go for a rustic country Christmas vibe.  I set about collecting various haberdashery bits and pieces, florist supplies and such from Ebay.  I also paid a visit to a local florist wholesaler.  My first little project was to make some rustic Christmas hearts:

I plan on hanging these hearts from door knobs in the house to add a touch of interest around the house.

I also wanted to make some cute felt decorations and started with this owl for my Christmas tree:

I will be making some more of these felt decorations for the tree but first I need to find a spare afternoon which is proving to be very difficult at the moment!

Here are some others I plan on trying out.

I bought a plain mini Christmas tree from Ebay for just £2.00 and decided to pimp it (yes I just said that) with some embellishments:

Using some wired red and gold berries, gold metallic ribbon and shabby chic fabric ribbon I worked my magic on it:

There a place for this little tree on my window sill.

I had a spare shabby chic photo frame lying around and decided to incorporate it into a window display (yes, there will be window displays!).  I gathered up some Christmas-themed fabric cuttings, arranged them in a frame, printed out a cheery Christmas message and voila!

I picked up a wooden trough from the florist wholesaler, shaped and popped some oasis rounds into each section:

I bought loads of Christmas-themed floristry supplies from Ebay including dried oranges, evergreen stalks, mini pine cones, cinnamon sticks, artifical red and gold berry sprays, nuts and dried flowers:

With a lot of arranging and faffing, I created this rustic Christmas candle display which smells gorgeous!

Have you been thinking about making some of your own decorations this year?

Pinterest is brimming with absolutely gorgeous ideas for decorating your house! Here are some of my favourites:

For more inspiration, check out my Christmas Decor Pinterest Board!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Review: Jemma Kidd Make-Up Secrets

I've never really been one for reading make-up books, often preferring to opt for the seldom successful 'try it and see' method.  Yes, my reasoning defies all logic.  Following over 3 years of blogging, I thought I had seen every tutorial and heard every tip or piece of advice.  However, I was recently sent the Jemma Kidd Make-Up Secrets book to review and I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong.

Jemma Kidd teamed up with skincare guru, Sarah Chapman and nutritionist, Petronella Ravenshear to create a fully comprehensive guide on all things beauty.  The hardback glossy book is split into two parts:

Part 1 - Making make-up work for you
Part 2 - Problem Solver

Part one of the book concentrates on making the most of your favourite features, creating the perfect base with in-depth skincare advice and choosing the right products for your skin type and colouring.  There were many aspects in this part of the book that I found both engaging and interesting.  For example, the guide on how to professionally contour/highlight your face, top ten pro tips and examples of how to make the most of your eye shape.  It's always great to learn ways of making a smokey eye work on my deep set eyes!

The book has loads of tricks and tips which I have never heard of before and that's some feat for a girl who has been reading magazines since she was 12! The brows section was also very helpful and informative, giving precise guidance on how to shape your brows - something which I only learned to do properly when I was 22!

There's also an indepth section on smokey eyes, showing you step-by-step how to achieve a smokey eye with real depth and intensity.  I particularly enjoyed the piece on how to make the most of your lip shape by shaping them with liners.  Jemma takes you through her years of experience without even an ounce of patronisation, providing pointers for the amateur and more seasoned beauty junkie.

There's a section on the most wearable lip shades for your colouring, pin pointing which products to pair with your lip colour choice and a guide to fashion make up.  You can also pick your favourite timeless diva; Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren and recreate their iconic make up looks.

Part two of the book concentrates on problem solving from maintaining radiant skin, nutritional advice, dispelling fact from fiction, product recommendations and beauty first aid.  The book also contains a section on how to get a more youthful look if you are a more mature lady, showing professional techniques to roll back the years.

I loved the section on hot weather and cold weather make up tackling all the problems related to both, ensuring your make up stays flawless despite the environment you are in.  Nearing the end of the book, you come to 5 minute make-up tutorials for lunch with the girls, work, a date and a party.  Quick fixes for any occasion and easy to follow advice makes for a handy do-it-all set of tutorials.

Lastly, Jemma lists all of her favourite products under every conceivable category, many of which are already my favourite products.

Here's a short video from the lady herself giving a short synopsis on what you can expect from Jemma Kidd Make-Up Secrets:

I can honestly say that from the moment I received this book, I couldn't put it down. You can really get into the indepth advice about skincare (I did with a comfy couch, blanket and a cuppa) but also flick through for quick tutorials making it a very versatile read.  I genuinely learnt a few new tricks and picked up some tips when it comes to making the most of what I have naturally.

This would be an amazing Christmas gift for your mum, sister or friend whether they are beauty product obsessed or don't have a clue where to start.  The books transcends skill levels and explains everything from the ground up so everyone can learn something new.

It's colourful, has beautiful images, contains concise advice on every topic imaginable and I will definitely be buying a couple of copies to give to some lovely ladies in my life!  The recommended retail price is £25.00 but you can get it for just £14.25 from here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

My Tips For Flawless Foundation

The most common question I am asked in emails from readers concerns how to create a flawless foundation look. It has taken me years of experimenting, trying different products and tools and this post is to share all my tips.

It can be long and arduous finding your perfect foundation and even when you have found 'the one', you will find yourself being seduced by the latest fads and claims of advanced technology.  I personally have two types of foundation in my collection.  One fail safe for long days, special events and when I know I'm getting my photograph taken.  The other is a more relaxed version of foundation which is light in texture with light to medium coverage and glow enhancing properties.  In this post I will be sharing all of my tips for flawless foundation!  I can't recommend specific products because everyone's preference/skin type is different, but I can tell you how to ensure you get an even and perfect finish.

Exfoliate, Exfoliate, Exfoliate!

I can't really stress this point enough because exfoliation is what makes your skin glow from beneath your make-up.  It removes any dirt, dry skin and improves skin texture and promotes more even overall skin-tone.  I use my Clarisonic Mia every second night and it's made a huge difference to the overall appearance of my skin.  Just remember to clean it after every use.

Be Patient!

It's all too easy to rush things in the morning but it's really important to wait about five minutes to let your moisturiser fully absorb into your skin before applying foundation – this will prevent any tackiness or a patchy finish.  Take the time to really massage the moisturiser into your face as it will increase the bloodflow to your skin and give you a natural glow.  Your skin will appear plumper and feel more hydrated, too, so you get a more dewy glow from your foundation. Dry skin will just soak up the foundation if you don't spend this time moisturising. Obviously for summer time or for oily skin, it's best to use an oil-free moisturizer.

Prime Time

I always use a radiance enhancing primer over my moisturiser to give my skin dimension and a healthy glow.  It will even out your complexion and means you don’t have to use as much foundation to get an even appearance.  Many formulas nowadays contain ingredients which smooth your skin and create a silky base to receive your foundation.

Broad Daylight

Always apply your makeup in daylight where possible.  This allows you to see a true reflection of how it will appear outside in the unforgiving rays of the midday sun.  By doing this, it will also prevent you from applying too much product.  Artificial light generally makes make up appear paler so naturally you tend to apply more.

Use The Correct Tool For The Job

Everyone has a preference for how they like to apply their foundation whether it be a brush, sponge or good old fingertips.  Consider the consistency of the product you are using and which tool would lend itself better to your chosen foundation.  Brushes are generally used to get slightly more coverage out of lighter textured foundations but aren't very suitable for thicker formulas.  Some people feel that sponges give the most even finish however I use Estee Lauder Double Wear and I prefer to use my fingertips.  The warmth of my hands and dexterity to get into all the little areas of my face means I can get a really flawless finish.   Experiment with different tools to figure out which one is best for you.


 I always use a circular motion with my fingers to blend the foundation thoroughly into my skin.  It’s important to spend that time because this is what will give you the really flawless appearance.

Foundation Always Comes Before Concealer

Apart from the fact that you’ll move your carefully applied concealer if you follow with foundation, you’ll probably end up using more than you need to. Apply foundation first to see what coverage your foundation provides. Then apply the concealer, patting it in lightly to avoid wiping off the foundation underneath.  Put the tiniest amount of concealer on any blemishes. Don’t just whack on a huge blob hoping it will cover everything, it will just make the blemish even more obvious. It’s all about building up VERY thin layers, that way you’re more in control of how much you’re applying to your skin. Remember, less is more – you don’t want to end up with too much make-up that draws attention to what you are trying to conceal.  My favourite concealer of all time is Estee Lauder Maximum Cover.  It conceals ANYTHING!


Powder will help fix your make-up in place but brush it on very sparingly in small circular motions so as not to mattify away your radiant glow. Use a fat brush to sweep a little powder over the central cross of your face (that’s down your nose and chin and across your cheeks.)

Set it

I remember when I first heard about setting sprays, I almost recoiled in horror (overly-dramatic?).  I couldn't understand why, after all that hard work applying and blending my foundation, I would want to ruin it by spraying liquid on my face.  That is until I started using a setting spray.  Despite my original preconceptions, the setting spray was the finishing touch to my makeup that I had been looking for.  You know once you have powdered your face, your skin has this layer of foundation, concealer and powder on it which isn't conducive with a natural appearance.  Once you have sprayed the setting spray lightly on your face and dried it with a hairdryer (bear with me!) all of your makeup fuses into your skin and they seem to become one.  What you're left with is skin that looks like skin, not skin with make-up on top.  My favourite setting spray has to be Urban Decay De-Slick.

What are your favourite tips for flawless foundation?

Oh and lastly, I just wanted to share this video of Séamus and Minnie wrestling! I am struggling to get anything done now they are around because I could just sit and watch them all day!