Sunday, 3 August 2014

Texas Haul- go big or go home! (part 1, mainly make up)

As I'm sure you'll know if you've read any of my previous posts (especially my most recent- My Travel Tips which as written mostly from the airport on the way) I recently went on a 2 week trip to Austin Tx to see one of my best friends get married. I went with 5 members of her family and another of my best friends. We had a brilliant time- I don't think the weather dropped below 34C, the wedding went brilliantly (despite many more people arriving than we expected showed $12up) and we saw a good amount of Austin and San Antonio (I'd love to go back and see San Antonio again though- we did a whistle-stop 1 day trip and didn't really get to see anything fully)

Anyway, as it's me I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of the drugstore make up (especially items I cannot get hold of here in England) and I have quite the haul for you...

First up is a few bits I picked up from Target and Walmart (side note: I've never been to a Walmart before- it was epic!)

Now that I'm home hindsight has made me want to buy about 6 of the e.l.f. Shine Eraser sheets- they're only $1 (approx 60p) in Target and £1.95 (not including shipping!) in England! I've been using them more recently so I picked up another packet.

The Maybelline Great Lash is something I've been thinking of trying for a while now- I know it has a cult following and it's been around for years. I got it at Walmart for $4.44 (approx. £2.60- it's £4.99 in Boots)

The Maybelline Colour Tattoo eye shadows are another thing I've been interested in for a while- but again I thought they'd be cheaper in the US so I was waiting. I purchased Bold Gold (45) and Tough as Taupe (35) from Walmart for a total of $9.88 (there was a £2 off coupon on the side of one of them) so approx. £3 each (£5 in Boots)

The Taupe shade is quite different to how I expected- it looks far browner in the pot, but comes out quite grey- I wish the US had testers everywhere!

Bold Gold and Tough as Taupe

The last 2 items were somewhat impulse buys- The Loreal True Match foundation is actually one of the first drugstore foundations that seems to be the right shade for me (I got C2 Natural Ivory), so obviously I had to get it! I wore it on the day of the wedding and I like it so far- I'm sure I'll post a full review at some point. It was $8.97 (£5.30) in Walmart. The Sally Hansen Hard as Nails was a result of me getting frustrated that every single one of my nails broke the day before, I've not actually used it yet because the day after I bought it we all went to get gel manicures! That was $2.50 (£1.50) in Target.

Finally (in drugstore type products anyway) I stocked up on EOS lip balms!!!

Such a sweet little flower!

Yeah... I bought 7 of them.. (I actually bought 8 but gave one to my sister!) I have (clockwise from top!) Strawberry Sorbet, Lemon Drop (the one with SPF 15), Blueberry Acai, Honeysuckle Honeydew, Sweet Mint, Summer Fruit and Pomegranate Raspberry in the middle. They were $2.99 each, and although I've not had the heart to take them out of their packaging yet (it was tempting to rip them all open the second I left the checkout...) I know I will love them! :)

Lastly in terms of make up items, we visited an outlet mall- and I found a make up outlet store! I was very restrained and only bought 1 item- a MAC lipstick!

I picked out a lovely shade- Overtime- because I knew it would be the kind of colour I'd wear a lot, it's a paleish pink that is like the Baby-Barbie pink version of my-lips-but-better. I've worn it a couple of times and I like the formula- it stayed put through a glass of wine!- without feeling too drying, and I really do love the colour! :)

Ignore the sleepy face, fluffy hair and lazy make up- this was taken just after I got back from work last week!

I don't think I could never justify the purchase in the UK- they retail at £18 each!- but in the outlet store it was only $12.75 (£8!)

That's finally it for make up, but I also couldn't resist stocking up on some yummy American treats!

For some very annoying reason I can't seem to get hold of peanut butter m&m's- and they are the worlds best ones! I also love the mint ones (I'm a sucker for mint chocolate) and of course Reese's Peanut Butter Cups- I really love them, and so does Dale and my sister so I bought 5 packets! (yep, 2 are gone already!) I must have looked like a right fattie at the checkout- but I can't say I really cared...

This lovely necklace was another impulse buy- I've seen quite a lot of these simple shaped metal necklaces about recently- unfortunately made in solid silver and way out of my price range- but I spotted this in a tiny shop in a mall on sale at about $4; I couldn't say no. I've not worn all that much jewellery recently, mostly because my jewellery storage is a mess and I can't get to or see anything! So I plan to sort it all out and wear more.

I've been on the vague hunt for a new bag for nearly 6 months now- my old one is looking a little sad and old but I tend to be quite fussy (liking pockets, a long enough strap, lots of space, not leather etc.) with bag purchases so I'd not found anything I like- until Target!

It has 3 sections, several pockets, plenty of space for all of my crap my necessary items and I love the shape and colour- plus it was on sale for $17! (about £10)

That's actually all for this haul post- there will be a part 2 to follow soon (hint- I spent a lot of time in a Bath and Body Works outlet store)


Saturday, 12 July 2014

My travel tips!

As I'm writing now I'm in an airport waiting for the rest of my friends to arrive (their coach is delayed by an hour)- I cant check in yet and there are no shops; so naturally I've parked myself near a phone charging station and decided to write a blog post!

I've travelled a fair amount so far- I was lucky enough to get a week or two abroad every year with my parents when I was younger and in 2010 I spent three months backpacking through Australia and New Zealand with a friend. Add to that lots and lots of camping trips and I've become pretty good at packing and travelling! Here are a few tips I thought I'd share (hopefully some new things you may not have heard)

Before you go:

-Plan way ahead! Research any vaccinations, visas etc you will need, decide how you'll be taking money on holiday, book all flights, accommodation, all other transport- all as early as you can, it's often cheaper in advance and it saves you worrying about it when you could be buying new clothes for the trip!

- Photocopy everything! Keep a copy of your passport, tickets, booking confirmations, visas etc in your checked bag, as well as a spare copy in your hand luggage. I always keep a PDF copy in my email inbox! Perhaps it's overkill, but there are somethings I like to be very prepared with!

-Write a big list of everything you want/need to take several weeks before you go, and double check you have (working/vaild/fitting) things like suitcases, swimsuits, travel adapters, passports... well in advance; so you have plenty of time for holiday shopping (like you needed an excuse!) and getting everything you need well before your travel (new UK passports are taking months to get hold of at the moment!)

-Instead of packing like a maniac 5 hours before you need to leave your house my strategy is to leave my suitcase out and open for about a week before I leave- that way I can gradually add bits and bobs to my packing pile (eg clean clothes get put into case instead of in the wardrobe, new items go straight in) as you can put things in when you remember them!

-Rememer all of the rules and regulations with hold an hand luggage (they recently brought in a new rule for US flights that all you must be able to prove all electronics switch on before boarding!) The best places to check are your airport and airline websites. 

- Roll clothes, don't fold- they take up less space that way! Make use of random little pockets of space- stuff socks into shoes (packing a suitcase is just real life Tetris) and put breakable and delicate things in the centre of your case, surrounded by layers of clothes. Baggage handlers are not know for their gentile approach, so prepare for your case to be thrown around.

- Try to travel light (I know it's hard!) Save travel sized bottles and small containers (moisturiser tubs etc.) and decant products- surely no one needs 500ml of shampoo for 2 weeks, and unless you're going somewhere remote or very expensive the chances are you can buy extra there!

The flight:

- Always wear (comfy) layers for flying, I always find air conditioning really cold (I hate it!) so I get cold on planes, but it's often really hot when you land. I hate when celebrities are photographed looking glam at airports- I want to wear cosy slouchy clothes! Particularly if you have a long flight or plan to sleep! I always wear slip on shoes or flip flops; they're easy to take off at security and when I get on the plane (I always pack socks in my carry-on so I don't have cold feet!)

- Be nice to your skin! Again, air con is pretty evil- it can really dry out your skin do I always pack a moisturiser, toner and plenty of lip balm for flights (plus eye drops as I get really dry eyes) and I definitely don't faff around with putting my make up back on before I land! This year I've got a bottle of rescue oil so I can really moisturise my face, and Astral for my hands, feet etc. And I'm going to be testing out a tea toner I made this week (if I like it I may post a 'recipe')

- Please don't be an annoying fellow passenger: no loudly chatting with a friend 3 rows down, stealing both armrests, kicking the back of the chair infront, siting in the middle of a row and going to the loo 6 times an hour, leaning over strangers to see out the window.... I really could write an essay.

-Drink a lot! Again you can get very dehydrated in the air, try to drink lots of water (preferably no alcohol, although I know it's very difficult to say no to a free G&T!) And on a similar note, remember you don't have to eat whenever a lovely flight attendant hands you food! :)

Anyway I hope these tips might help you-  I'm now finishing off this post sitting by the pool in our villa- we got here safely (with only a few minor dramas; turns out travellig with 6 other people is hard work!) and our house it is beautiful- I don't want to leave already!

What are your favourite travel tips?


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Review: Astral All Over Moisturiser.

A couple of months ago I was approached for the first time to trial and review a product and after a little research I leapt at the chance- Astral is marketed as an all-purpose richly moisturising cream, for use on anywhere on the body (much like Nivea Creme). I think it has a bit of a reputation of being targeted for older people (Joanna Lumley has done TV adverts for it in the past and I think it does advertise as being suitable for mature skin) but I don't think it deserves that- it's a great product at any age!

I was generously sent both a 50ml and a 500ml tub; I'm about 2/3 into the 50ml and I think it'll take me quite a while to get through the 500ml but I think a review is way overdue! (Aside: I've updated my About Me page, and I really want to reassure you that my posts and reviews are and always will be 100% honest, even if I've received a product for free)

The ingredients are quite similar to Nivea Creme- fairly simple with lots of moisturising ingredients. The product itself is a smooth cream- with a texture that actually reminds me of thick sun cream (liquidy, but thicker than a regular facial moisturiser, and nowhere near as thick as a body butter)

I think it sinks in a lot faster than Nivea Creme, and definitely does not leave my skin feeling greasy at all (I prefer using this at work rather than Nivea as it does sink in faster) but is also really lovely and moisturising. As I've said so many times before I have really dry skin, and sometimes have eczema on my hands/fingers/wrists so products that moisturise and do not irritate are very important to me (I don't use body butters on my hands because the fragrances can irritate my skin)

I've used it on my face several times (at night- I think it would be too rich during the day even for my skin) and I've not had a problem with clogged pores or greasy feeling skin (though I do have dry skin) Although it does sting a little if I manage to get it into my eyes.

The only slight issue I have with Astral is that I don't love the scent- it's kinda musky and it is stronger than I would like. I don't often use it on my face because I'm put off by the scent, however it doesn't seem to linger on my skin once applied, and I like the formula too much to let the scent put me off using on my body.

I'd recommend testing/smelling it before purchasing (I know some people are more fussy with scents than I am), but overall I really do love Astral. If I ever get through the giant 500ml tub  will almost definitely repurchase. The 50ml is currently £1.29 in Superdrug and the 500ml is £7.99 (you can also get a 200ml for £3.89) though you may be able to get it cheaper/on sale elsewhere-  though the price is pretty reasonable, particularly when you can do so much with it.

Have you tired Astral? What do you think?


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Products I've used up #1

I love reading/watching other peoples empties posts- I think it really does show what products people like enough to use up completely, rather than getting bored and switching to something different.

I've had a little basket sitting on my 'make up desk' for just over a month now- and I've collected quite a few empty containers- some products I've gone through multiple times, and some are new(ish) finds.

First up is a dry shampoo- I love Batiste; it's reasonably priced and really does the job to refresh my hair so I don't need to wash it every day (full review here if you're interested). As the bottles last me quite a while (probably 4 or 5 months) I always seem to find new scents in stores by the time I need a new one- I really enjoyed the Oriental scent of this one- quite floral and spicy (I'd actually quite happily use a perfume in the same scent) and I have a new one (in a scent which is apparently called Monochrome...Smells good though!)

Next is another product I've used several tubes of in the past- I love both of the hot cloth cleansers from Superdrug (I've reviewed the Vitamin E version here, and I think the Naturally Radiant version is very very similar, but with a different scent) and I'm not sure I'll ever stop using hot cloth cleansers :)

Once again, another HUGE favourite of mine; the Neutrogena Concentrated Hand Cream- I have no idea how many of these lovely tubes I've used up, it's a lot! I always buy this hand cream when it's on sale (I'm sure it's included in a Boots 3 for 2 at least once a year) and it really helps keep my dry hands happy.

I'm rather fussy with my conditioner- I have rather fine hair and I hate that heavy, weighed down feeling with some conditioners. Aussie is a brand that I do really like, particularly their conditioners and this is a lovely one (I think 3 Minute Miracle has a bit of a cult following, and for good reason) - I would definitely repurchase this :)

I've got quite a collection of body butters- from both Boots and The Body Shop- I love them! I tend to use just one tub at a time (partly because I like to leave a tub out near my bed so I can try and remember to moisturise every day!) and this Boots Extracts Brazil Nut butter was lovely. The Boots Extracts are a little cheaper than The Body Shop ones (at £8 for 200ml, The Body Shop are £13) though both are regularly on sale, and I think that they are quite similar. If I ever run out of my body butter supply (I think I have about 4 full 200ml tubs) I would happily repurchase another from this range.

I really love the e.l.f. Eyelid Primer, without primer eye shadow tends to cling to dry patches on my lids and look awful... I think I do prefer the Golden shade at the moment (I'm wearing lots of gold and bronze eye shadows so I feel like the golden one goes better) this one in Champagne is also lovely.

I think I've used almost all of the Natural Collection mascaras by now- this is the LashDefinition in Brown/Black. I'm actually not very fussy with mascara, I have long straight lashes that are quite light so as long as it can hold a curl and provide a little separation and colour to my lashes I'm happy! This mascara has a standard small spooly kind of wand and for me the formula was good- not too wet (which doesn't usually hold a curl for me) or dry (which I find can be flaky) so I would definitely repurchase this too- particularly as it was only £1.99!

So what have you used up recently?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Photography Challenge #4- Green

It's been a while since I posted a new photography challenge theme- I thought it was about time!

I thought this would be one of the most difficult challenge themes for me to do- green really is one of my least favourite colours, and I thought I'd have nothing I cared about enough to photograph. However the more I thought about it and the more I looked around my flat, the more I realised that there are definitely SOME things I like that are green, so instead of one picture or one item for this theme- I created a little collage of things that I like that happen to be green :)

First up is a brochure for the Curve Theatre- I love going to the theatre and they have some brilliant things coming up (Rent and The Sound of Music!). Second is, obviously, lots of nail polish- green may be one of my least favourite colours but I still have lots of green polish! You may be able to see a teal and mint green theme (I do actually really like those shades a lot)

A couple of beauty/skincare items are included; I'm really liking this hot cloth cleanser at the moment, and my Balmi lip balm is starting to run out (I may have to repurchase, but I'm holding out for some of EOS balm purchases in the US)

The keyboard actually belongs to Dale, it's a fancy pants gaming keyboard (which I think cost quite a silly amount of money... though that's coming from me, who is quite content with a £5 keyboard from Argos!) and one of the most interesting features for me (I'm easily pleased, and don't care about features that aid gaming in anyway) is that you can change the back-light colour of the keys! The only PC game I play is Sims 3, but I do quite like several XBOX games- I find Forza and GTA hilarious (I'm terrible at both, I just like driving around like a loon) and of course I love love love  playing Rockband!

I discovered these cable tidies fairly recently (I included them in a recent wishlist post), and I'm kind of obsessed with them- they are brilliant for holding up phone and kindle chargers, so you can leave it to dangle off a desk without it dropping onto the floor and getting lost.

The ice cube tray was another of our 'totally necessary' purchases from IKEA- I love the star shape, and we also have hearts, flowers and long sticks :) I've been liking lime squash recently, it's not really really sweet like most squash and it's nice and refreshing on a warm day.

I'm sure there are more things that I could have included- but I think 9 pictures is enough for one theme!

Do you have any favourite green things?


Sunday, 15 June 2014

A little haul!

I'm trying really hard to save my money at the moment (so that I have lots of spending money in the US- I'm hoping for some drug-store and Sephora type action over there!) but there are some things I just couldn't resist purchasing in the past few weeks and I thought I would share :)

First of all, some skincare items (which I think should really come under the 'necessities' category!)  Once again I'm on the hunt for moisturiser- I've never found one that I really really really like (they're either not moisturising enough, too slow to sink in, to heavy and pore clogging, smell weird... the list goes on) and I'm on a constant look-out for THE one. As it's getting warmer here (at last) I wanted one with SPF and as these were on a buy one get another 1/2 price offer I thought they might be worth a try- I bought a day cream with SPF 15, and an intensive moisture cream which I assume is aimed at being more of a night cream. I've not tried either yet, but they do smell nice (similar to their hot cloth cleanser), and I really do love the hot cloth cleanser in the Superdrug Vitamin E range, so I have some hope that I may love them- I'll see!

Boots are doing their £5 off No7 vouchers again, and I've been thinking about trying their hot cloth cleanser for a while now (I love the superdrug ones, but I like to try new things, and I'm curious the No7 one as I've heard a LOT about it) so I thought at £4.95 now would be the time- again I'll let you know what I think once I've actually used it.

I've been on the hunt for more Rescue Oil recently- my local Poundland hasn't had it in stock for a few weeks (I wont lie, I was starting to panic...) but I found it, and I bought 2 just in case I get close to running out again. At £1 each it would be silly not to stock up really...

A rather more boring (but certainly necessary) purchase is a new deodorant- I've used this for a couple of weeks now and so far I really like it, it smells lovely and does the job nicely, even when it's been pretty hot in my office.

BarryM was 2 for £7 a couple of weeks ago, and I decided that I 'needed' two of them- I really like the formula of the Gelly Hi Shine polishes, and these 2 are lovely lovely shades. NO idea why the nude/beige/slightly pinkish shade is called Lychee (looks nowhere near lychee coloured to me...) but I do love them. I've worn the Lychee shade already (NOTD coming at some point) and I'm excited to use Sugar Apple (possibly on my toes)

And finally some hair stuff- I've been thinking about getting some of these elastics for a little while (thanks to Cute Girls Hairstyles on Youtube I've been experimenting more with my hair and they will definitely come in handy for small braids etc.) I don't think you'll get them cheaper than at Primark- £1 for 300 elastics!

I'm not sure if you could tell from my latest photography challenge post- but my hair is a no longer the blonde shade it used to be- I've been ginger for nearly a year now and I really love it, I think it really suits my skin tone and I'm not sure I'll go back to my natural colour for a long time. Anyway, it's about time I re-dyed my hair (I have some huge roots, which are thankfully not tooooo noticeable) especially as I want it to look nice and vibrant for my friends wedding in July. These dyes were on 3 for 2 when I purchased this so my sister bought 2 boxes of blonde for herself too- quite a coincidence that we use the same brand. 

So that's it for my haul- I'm sort-of hoping I wont need to do another until after I've hit the US stores... we'll see!

What have you been buying recently?


Sunday, 8 June 2014

My month has been mainly spent:

As I've mentioned quite a few times over the past few posts and on Twitter, my lovely boyfriend Dale moved in with me in May- so as I'm sure you can imagine it's been a rather busy month:

This month I have mostly been:

  • Dismantling, lifting, carrying and putting together lots of big heavy furniture - we had to move Dales bed, mattress, desk and bookcase out of his old flat.
  • Being very very grateful I drive an estate car. I have NO idea how people with tiny boots move their stuff! When the back seats are down in my trusty old Ford Focus Estate there's plenty of space to lie a full-height bookcase flat on the 'floor'!
  • Taking many trips to the local tip- mainly for old furniture, lots and lots of recycling and random stuff that Dale hadn't gotten around to throwing away yet (like a broken PC moniter and 2 old lamps)
  • Listening (and singing a long to) to A LOT of 80's rock- it was our moving soundtrack
  • Holding ladders- Dale expertly painted one of the walls in our new bedroom (gorgeous purple shade, will show you soon!) and the walls are about 10ft high; we borrowed my dad's wooden ladder and Dale wasn't too happy about how old it looked.
  • Moving furniture, looking at it, and moving it back.... We went through quite a bit of trial and error but I think we have everything almost where we want it.
  • Eating a lot of carrots and houmous! It's once again my go-to snack :)
  • Visiting IKEA!!! I love IKEA, although it was kinda stressful this time- we took my sister and grandma (who would never forgive us if we went all the way without inviting us) on a busy Saturday and had quite a big list of things we wanted to look at and buy. We came out with almost everything we wanted, except new bedside cabinets (we like these MALM ones in grey) but they weren't in stock :( plus some things we didn't know we wanted (like ice cube trays and storage jars)
  • Playing Sims 3- I'm properly addicted at the moment (I have an awesome family going right now)
  • Cleaning, hoovering, dusting, washing etc. Dale's flat needed a good scrub down before he returned the keys, there was mould behind a couple of wardrobes and the carpet under his bed hadn't been hoovered in a disgusting amount of time... And we also gave our flat a big old deep clean too- as we had essentially emptied both bedrooms and bathrooms at one point. So. Much. Cleaning. But totally worth it, both Dale and I are clean freaks to some extent.
  • Baking mugs.... this one is listed under 'really weird things I do for Brownies'- my Brownie group decorated ceramic mugs with acrylic paint, and when I got back from our meeting I couldn't resist trying one myself- so I made a couple for Dale (as part of his birthday gift)

These 3 pictures show a Magic: The Gathering themed mug- a card game that Dale loves. I'm not a huge fan but I quite like how the mug came out.

I love love love this one- if you've seen Marvels Agents of Shield you'll recognise the logo- and it's a show that we both really enjoyed :)

I know they're FAR from perfect, but I'm pretty impressed with how they came out, even with my limited art skills :) 
  • Reorganising almost everything I own- make up storage, kitchen storage (now we own 2 sets of almost everything things had to move around) our bedding,- basically everything.
  • Loving honey masks :) I've got a post about these in the works- watch this space!
  • Visiting Dale's family in Scarborough. It was his birthday in May and we took a trip to Flamingoland (a theme park zoo hybrid, it was awesome) and had a nice relaxing weekend with their adorable, but mad dogs.
  • Having in-depth conversations about curtains. I feel like a proper grown-up now.
  • Drinking a lot of cold brew coffee- I've made a couple of batches this month, and now it's getting warmer it's a lovely drink for after work or lazy weekends (not that I've really had one of those...) 
  • Spending far too much money! On furniture, bedding (at Dales insistence we got fancy 180 Thread Count bedding from BHS, and in his defence they are pretty awesome) paint and all kinds of other stuff. It's slightly annoying because I'm supposed to be saving up for my trip to Texas in July, but I think I'll still be fine if I try and remain thrifty for the next month!
  • Watching the end of many TV seasons- I hate that everything seems to finish at about the same time. Dale and I are rewatching Star Trek: Voyager instead :)
  • Trying, and failing, to paint my toenails. As it's been warmer I've started to break out the sandals from their winter hibernation- every time I wear them I think 'ooh I must remember to paint my nails' but have I done it yet... no!
So what have you been up to in the past month?


Sunday, 1 June 2014

Review: Leighton Denny Small Crystal Nail File (plus a little catch-up!)

Hello all, once again I've been off the blogging radar for a few weeks, I shouldn't apologise (because I promised myself I wouldn't stress is I posted irregularly) but I am kinda annoyed because I've got quite a few post ideas swirling around in my head and I've not had the time to get them down!)

If you follow me on Twitter  you'll probably have seen that the reason for the slow blogging month is moving stress! Technically I wasn't moving, my housemate moved out and my boyfriend Dale moved in- I did move bedrooms (to the bigger bedroom with en-suite!)- but most of the moving was from Dales flat to mine, and then rearranging our furniture to a system we both liked. Our flat is very nearly how we both want it, but we're planning on doing some painting (currently ALL of the walls in the whole flat are white and we want a little bit of colour) and we went to IKEA yesterday for a few extra bits of furniture and some new lamps and decor bits & bobs (plus inevitable candles, I have a problem). I think I'll be sharing a house tour post once we're all done, and definitely a post on how I'm storing my make up and nail polish (In fact I haven't done one in 2 years) so fingers crossed that will be soon!

Anyway, back to the point of this post: I've heard many many raves about crystal nail files, but for a while I thought they were probably way over-hyped and not really much different to regular emery boards. As I recently got back(ish, I guess!) into blogging, nail art and actually remembering to take care of my nails crystal files entered my radar again, and I started wondering again if I should get one. After reading some reviews and searching the internet I decided to take the plunge and spend the last of my Boots gift card on (I think the only one I could find on the high street) a Leighton Denny Crystal Nail File.

I retails at £12.50 in Boots (you can find it on Amazon etc. too) And at first I thought it might end up to be an extravagant waste of money, but I was definitely wrong. I have pretty rubbish natural nails- they don't grow very fast and they're prone to breaking and bending easily, and while I don't think this nail file is magical nail-growth secret I do feel like my nails are in better condition since switching to a crystal file, and I have genuinely thrown away all of my old cardboard emery boards!

Crystal files are designed to file the nails gently without dragging and splitting the nail, leaving them less susceptible to splitting and breaking. The two sides of this file have different textures- with a rougher and a smoother side. I  tend to only use the smooth side (I find it does the job perfectly well, even for bigger 'filing jobs'- where I've managed to take a chunk out of my nail and I need to shape it down to a smoother shape) as I find the rough side to make a weird scratching/vibration feeling through my finger- as I've said before I'm a total texture-phobe and hate that kind of feeling, it probably won't bother anyone else in the world...

The file is easy to care for- it cleans really easily with just hand soap and water, which removes all of the nail dust and really makes it look shiny and new again. At first I was worried that it might snap if I left it in bag all day, but the little case it comes with does seem to protect well- I've had it knocking about in my handbag for a several months now (it really does get bashed about a lot in there) and there's no hint of damage so far.

Another big selling point for this brand in particular is that it comes with a 25 year guarantee- which I'm so impressed by, seeing as I was originally looking at cheapy ones from eBay which (from the reviews I read) wore out in just a few uses.

Overall I'm really really pleased with this file and I'm annoyed at myself for waiting so long to try it; my nails seem much happier and less flaky (I don't think the file is the only factor at work, but it has definitely helped a great deal)

Have you tried a crystal file? What did you think?


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Nail of the Day: Bright (vaguely) 80's Fun :)

It has been an absurdly long time since I attempted anything more than plain colour on my nails (and I've only done that a handful of times in the past year) but I was at a hen party this weekend which included a lovely mid-afternoon pamper session (complete with tea in real cups and saucers) Not only did I discover a love for honey masks (more on that in another post I'm sure, I loved it and I'll be trying another one very soon!) but we all also tried out some nail art- and I forgot how much I really do love it.

Because of the 80's theme I wanted something bright and fun, and without any real direction I chose a base colour of BarryM Shocking Pink, and picked out No7 Poolside Blue and BarryM Amethyst Glitter to go with it.

I decided that the best way forward was to test out some different techniques (I'm out of practise at them all now so...) and went for a different pattern on each nail.

I used a large dotting tool for the thumb and little finger, a couple of coats of Amethyst Glitter on the ring finger, the regular nail polish brush (*carefully* swiped across the nail - my middle finger on my right hand is quite different...Matching angles have never been a forte of mine!) and a small nail art brush for the stripes on my index finger.

I know they're not the neatest nails (especially the stripes on my index finger) but I am thrilled to re-introduce myself to the wonderful world of nail art. Hopefully with my housemate moving out and boyfriend moving in I should have a lot more space (and more time at home where my nail polish is) to paint my nails and get experimenting.

The downside is that Dale doesn't even understand why I'd want to paint just my ring finger a different colour, or add glitter only on that nail. *sigh* He has so much to learn...

Are there any new nail art trends or techniques that I've missed?


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: Nivea Creme

As I mentioned in a couple of posts this year (my eczema and 2013 favourites in particular) I discovered Nivea Creme last year and it has fast become a firm favourite and an absolute skincare essential- I thought it deserved a proper review.

Nivea Creme has been around since 1911 and has become one of those cult products that everyone who uses it will always swear by. The stereotype is that everyone's Grandma is a lifelong fan but I think there must be a very good reason it's still going strong over 100 years later! 

It is available in a couple of sizes- I have the 200ml, but there's a 50ml size which I think would be a lot more practical for handbag use (I've depotted some of mine into a separate little container so I don't have to tote around the bulky 200ml tub I have! The 200ml is around £3.50 and the 50ml is around £1.50- though I've seen both on sale for a lot less. (I bought my 200ml for £2 at Morrisons)

I the product itself is a pretty thick cream, but I think it has a kind of fluffy, whipped texture: think non-sticky marshmallow fluff... And although it is thick it does sink into the skin pretty fast provided you only use a small amount (it can be greasy and take longer so sink in, but I think that's often the price you have to pay for decent moisturisation) As I've said before I get the driest skin on my hands, so it's important that I can apply a product that allows me go straight back to working or whatever I'm doing without leaving super-greasy marks on everything.

The ingredients are fairly simple- with mineral oil being the main moisturising component, and although there is some fragrance it definitely does not irritate my skin- even on patches of eczema or around my eyes. Because of the fragrances it does have a scent to it but I don't think it's a very strong- it's vaguely citrusy/fresh smell that I actually really love.

I've never had any issue with Nivea Creme clogging my pores or making my skin feel oily (though, again, I usually have very dry skin) even when I've used it all over my face at night. I've also used it like a moisture mask- slathering on a thick layer, leaving it for a while then gently removing the excess- which is lovely)

Nivea Creme is advertised as being fully multipurpose product, for use on basically anywhere your body that needs moisture. I mainly use it on my eczema patches, all over my face on particularly dry days, as a makeshift eye cream (my eyes are always the driest part of my face) for dry elbows and knees etc. though I would definitely use it anywhere on my body if needed- it would probably make a good alternative to body butter if you needed it!

Overall I have to say I really do love Nivea Creme- I'm sad it took me so long to discover it! I love that is so multifunctional and richly moisturising, I use it for so many things and would definitely be lost without it!

Have you ever used Nivea Creme- what do you think?