Saturday, 1 December 2018

30 Christmas Stocking Filler Ideas

Who doesn't love a Christmas Stocking? They seem to get bigger and more expensive or more luxurious every year! Personally I don't think anything over £15 is a stocking filler-that's a proper gift! In this stocking filler guide all 30 products are £13.50 and under.  I've decided to post this today rather than my usual Sunday spot so that prices are accurate and the products are still available.

Pug Nail Dryer £7.99 / It's Skin Macaron Lip balm £6.50 /Lottery Ticket/ Owl Hand Cream £7.99 / Little Book of Happiness £4.98 
Christmas Pudding Lip Balm £2.99 /United Odd Socks Doughnut socks gift set £13.49 /Create & Make Lip balm £4/MAD Beauty Christmas Pud eye mask £4.99
Fleur x Eylure False Lashes £6 / Chateau Labiotte Wine Lip Tint (8 Colors)  £7Liquid Eye Liners £1 each Poundland 

Fun, novelty items make perfect stocking fillers such as these chocolate Christmas pudding, macaron and create your own lip balms. Hand creams are great for winter and the owl shaped hand cream is a popular choice, it's almost sold out everywhere except for Prezzybox! The owl hand cream they have comes in a bright yellow colour. Socks are both practical and warm and these mismatched doughnut socks make a fun gift! Just to be clear though the socks don't come in a pair they are all odd. The pink ring will hold a nail polish bottle and makes applying nail polish easier and the Pug Nail dryer will speed up the nail drying process, cause nobody's got time for that! The Little Book of Happiness just seemed like a sweet and helpful book which is why I included it. I added some budget items such as Poundland's eye liners (review coming soon), Wilko Traceless hair bobbles (£1), crystal pen (£3) Don't Count the Days notebook (£2) and phone cases (£4). Popping a lottery ticket inside is another cheap fun gift and you never know someone could get lucky!

Small beauty treats that will fit inside a stocking include fake eyelashes, face masks, bath bombs and a Tangle Teezer. Mini ornaments and Christmas crackers can be given as small presents or stashed inside a stocking. My picks include the Benefit Cosmetics tiered gift set which looks like good value for money with a mini primer, mini The POREfessional Primer and mini Gimme Brow for £12.33. Another one for good value is the Too Faced Christmas cracker which includes a Melted Matte-Tallic Lipstick in  You Better Work and Better Than Sex mascara which I've always wanted to try for the total price of £12.60! There's a Real Techniques bauble with a miracle sponge inside, in a limited edition in florescent yellow, iherb is selling it for £4.77 which sounds like a steal if it's full sized. I love Ghost fragrances and this Deep Night set comes with a lip butter. Another pick is the Sanctuary Mini Kit which contains a body wash, body lotion, body scrub and a foaming bath soak. Apart from the body scrub they are all 75ml which sounds like a generous amount for a mini gift set.  Liquid lipsticks are still in fashion so I think this lip scrub from Kiko will be appreciated. My favourite items of the lot  include Bare Minerals Northern Lights Blush Kit which has a total value of £34 and is on sale for £10.50! The kit includes two shimmering eye shadows and a pink nude blusher. Another favourite is the Chateau Labiotte wine bottle lip tints and the 'Never Forget Your Worth' notebook.

Benefit Confection Cuties Tiered Set £12.33 /Tweexy The Original Wearable Nail Polish Ring Holder £7.99  / Tangle Teezer Compact Hair Brush in Gold Starlight £13.50/ Ghost Deep Night EDT 10ml Gift Set £8/Lush Goddess Bath Bomb £5.95/ Too Faced Christmas Cracker Makeup Gift Set £12.60

Never Forget Your Own Worth A5 Notebook £8.99 /Kiko Lip Scrub £5.90/ Real Techniques Miracle Sponge Ornament £4.77/Wilko Traceless hair Bobbles £1

Make the Days Count A5 Notebook £2 /Crystal Pen £3/ Bare Minerals Blusher £10.50 /Pretty Animalz Calming Lamb Face Mask £4

Pink & Gold iphone 6/7 case £3.99/ Selfie Queen iphone case 6/7/8 £4/ Real Techniques Grab & Glow £8/Sanctuary Spa Minis £10/

Friday, 30 November 2018

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Quickie Contour Stick Review

When I picked up the November issue of Elle magazine it came with a freebie Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Quickie Contour Stick. Benefit Cosmetic's Hoola Bronzer powder is one of their bestsellers and combined with the popularity of contour videos on Youtube, Benefit wanted to satisfy their fans and created a cream stick version. The Hoola Quickie stick is a cream to powder formula and the stick makes it easier to draw the lines on your face. This is my first cream bronzer/contour because I find that many of them contain Ozokerite wax which I think I'm allergic to as it always stings my cheeks.

While people do use a warm toned brown to shape their faces for a bronze summer glow, true contouring should be done with a cool toned brown that mimics grey shadows to create angles and to slim the face. Therefore I think the description 'bronzer' it more accurate than 'contour' because the brown is warm toned.

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Quickie Contour Stick comes in a gold tube which has small brown vertical lines to give it a bamboo-like appearance for an exotic, summer holiday vibe. The contour stick makes it easy and quick to apply, you just 'draw' it onto your skin- under the cheekbones, around your hairline and along the edges of the nose. I wouldn't say the stick is very delicate but I have read that the stick can break or fall off but if it happens you can try using the same method of fixing a broken lipstick in this tutorial here or decant the contour stick into a small container.  I found it easier to apply this directly onto the skin and then use my fingers to blend it. It's quite pigmented so you don't need a lot, so don't go crazy drawing big, long contour lines all over your face because then you'll have to do a lot of blending! Benefit Cosmetics claim that their cream to powder formula 'blends seamlessly for a soft natural matte finish' and I agree it's easy to work with and the matte finish looks very natural on the skin. If you're fragrance sensitive then don't worry as there is no real scent to this contour stick.

The colour suits my Mediterranean skin tone well and does not pull orange, but I think it would look too muddy or orange on very pale skin tones. I'm surprised they haven't made a Hoola Lite stick to match their Hoola Lite powder. Also this shade probably won't show up on women of colour.

This wears off after about 6 hours on me but I do have a habit of resting my face in my hands which probably doesn't help! If you have oily skin or want it to last all day/night then setting it with powder will help, such as Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Powder or a good setting spray. I've not tested this in the summer so I don't know how it fares on hot, sweaty days.

It does contain a lot of silicones which I only noticed looking at the ingredients (not from the texture of the product) specifically Dimethicone,Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer and Triethoxysilylethyl Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone which is something to aware of if you are allergic to silicones.

Benefit Cosmetic's Quickie Contour Stick is compact and you don't need a brush so it's good for on the go. I do really like this bronzer/contour stick, it hasn't broken me out and it is the first matte cream bronzer I've seen that doesn't contain Ozokerite wax. It's also really easy to use and the colour complements my skin tone. It is a bit pricey at £24 (which is almost the same price as some foundations) but I will buy the full size when I run out because I don't have anything similar and I haven't seen any other cream bronzers that do not contain Okerite wax. The only improvements I can suggest is that it would be better if they had more shades.

The Full Sized Benefit Cosmetics Quickie Contour Stick is 8.5 Net wt 0.3 oz and retails for £24. It's available at Benefit Cosmetics, Feel Unique , Boots and Selfridges.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Superdrug Optimum PhytoSurvive Multi-Protect Serum Review

Optimum skincare is one of Superdrug's own brands and is marketed as more cutting edge than their B range. The brand "harnesses the power of technology" to provide "high-tech skincare to women of all ages."  Products from Optimum skincare are "infused with natural ingredients." The brand uses "the highest quality ingredients to create indulgent, luxurious and effective formulas." Optimum products are cruelty free and suitable for vegetarians and most products are vegan.

Optimum PhytoSurvive Multi-Protective Serum is part of the PhytoSurvive range which concentrates on reducing environmentally stressed skin such as wind chapped skin and pollution. It is also designed for those over 40. Although I'm not yet in my 40's I chose it anyway as I had read good reviews. My skin can get a little dry and tight across my cheeks during the colder months so I picked up this "Anti-Stress 24-hour Hydrating Serum."  It contains PhytoSnow-Algae and Vitamin E to increase the skin’s resilience and adaptability to everyday environmental stress factors. It is also infused with MoistBoost, a slow-release hydrating complex, which has been clinically proven to soften and improve skin’s suppleness throughout the day providing a brighter and smoother complexion. Optimum describes this serum as having a "silky lightweight texture, which absorbs quickly on application to provide immediate and long lasting hydration." They claim that this serum prolongs skin hydration up to 5 days after application.

Onto the packaging, the grey/silver bottle is very sleek and scientific looking and matches the brand's image. It has a pump which works well and one pump is enough for the whole face. The only down side is that you can't see how much is left in the bottle so you have to judge by the weight.

Optimum PhytoSurvive Multi Protect Serum is a pale white, gel consistency and smells like a nice shampoo. I've been using it morning and evening under moisturiser for the last two months. It's a lightweight serum but it does take awhile to absorb into the skin. After I've applied it I often go and do something else and then come back a few minutes later to apply my moisturiser on top. This is a decent hydrating serum and has kept dry skin at bay. It has made my skin softer but I haven't really noticed any brightening effects. When I occasionally skipped using this I did notice my skin felt a little tight so it does keep you hydrated but not so much that it "prolongs skin hydration up to 5 days after application," but 24 hours I'd agree with. Serums can be very expensive but this is a steal at the regular price £12.99! At the moment it's on offer for £6.35! However it is very heavily scented and while it hasn't broken me out or set my asthma off it probably won't be a repeat purchase for this reason. If you love scented products then I can see that this ticks the boxes for an affordable, effective serum with a luxury spa scent

Optimum Optimum PhytoSurvive Multi-Protective Serum 30ml is available at Superdrug now £6.35 (normally £12.99)

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Empties #2

I haven't written many empties posts so I thought one was long overdue. Below are products I have finished over the last few months and my opinions on them.

Boots Essentials Cucumber Cleansing Lotion
My skin suddenly got very dry and I had to switch from a hot cloth cleanser to something that wasn't as drying and much more creamier. For me the cucumber scent is so nostalgic: it reminds me of the Boots Natural Collection cucumber spray I had in my teens, the scent is very fresh. You're supposed to massage this into your skin and then wipe away or wash it off. Usually I rinsed my face afterwards but on lazy days I applied this with a cotton wool pad and then wiped it off with a wet or another dry cotton wool pad and my skin was fine, it doesn't leave a film on the skin. Initially I found that it made my cheeks feel rubbery, I don't know if this was due to the silicones (dimethicone and Silicone) but this feeling only lasted the first four times I used it.

This cleansing lotion will remove some mascaras (Benefit They're real but not Rodial) and generally all waterproof eye liners although not as easily as No 7's eye make up remover. I have sensitive skin and this hasn't irritated it or broken me out. It does contain paraffin liqiuidium (mineral oil) which has a bad rep for clogging pores and 'suffocating' skin. However a thin layer of mineral oil in a well formulated cream won't actually suffocate skin, your skin will work just fine. However I know some people are allergic to this ingredient. The cucumber extract is almost the last ingredient on the list which makes me wonder whether the cucumber has any cleansing properties at all or if it's just there for fragrance.
Repurchase? Yes, especially if I was on a tight budget.

Simple Micellar Water (sample size 50ml) 
I'm a big fan of Simple's products because I have sensitive skin. I've been using this as a morning cleanser and at night as a general cleanse or as a first cleanser in a double cleanse routine. Initially I found that this had a warming sensation on the skin but then it went after a two weeks of using it.  It hasn't broken me out though. It is aimed towards dry or dehydrated skin and while it didn't leave my face feeling tight afterwards I did need to follow up with something moisturising. However It didn't leave a film afterwards which was good.  It doesn't have any artificial perfumes or colour which I appreciate and it's one of the reasons why I choose Simple products, but this micellar water has an odd smell-like earth and moss mixed with something chemical. However you can't really smell it once it's on your face and has dried down.

I feel that this is an 'ok' or average micellar water, it doesn't leave a film, irritate or break me out but it also doesn't give you a squeaky clean feeling and takes a lot of effort to remove waterproof eye liner.
Purchase? I'm not a big fan of micellar waters they seem to require a lot of cotton pads so it doesn't feel very effective This did get my skin clean without irritating it and the price isn't bad (currently £4.94 for 200 ml) so I might buy it again if it's on offer and use a separate eye remover.

This is my go-to moisturiser. It's fragrance free and very gentle on the skin. It's not greasy but because it's a lightweight lotion I have been adding a drop of The Ordinary's Squalane or Rosehip oil for a nourishing boost. I always buy this moisturiser in a tube because I feel that they're more hygienic than the tubs.
Repurchase? Yes.

Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief 
I tried this once in the winter and found that is wasn't moisturising enough. I then used this in the summer and found it moisturised well. It is gel like rather than a cream which I not sure I liked but the lightweight formula makes it a good to use in the summer for those with oily-normal skin. It contains lady's thistle extract, birch bark extract, green tea and I was surprised to read caffeine! It has a fresh scent. This can be used as a lightweight moisturiser but is supposed to be an additional 'drink'  or 'thirst relief ' for the skin.
Purchase? Not right now. Maybe in the future. I would like to try more in Clinique's Moisture Surge range but at the moment I can't because of budget restrictions. If my skin is dehydrated next summer I may purchase this. However I just feel that buying a hydrating serum might be a better way of adding moisture to the skin.

L'oreal Smooth Sugars Nourish Scrub for face and lips 
This is a manual face scrub rather than an acid exfoliator. It contains grains of fine sugar which you apply to dry skin. Then you add water and rub the scrub in circles until the sugar dissolves. It is a very gentle scrub with cocoa seed butter to soothe dryness and the lipids in the coconut oil protects the skin barrier. The sugar grains are fine, they don't feel scratchy on the skin and there are lots of them which makes it much more effective than the Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoilator which did not have enough jojoba beads to actually exfoliate the skin. It smells of cocoa butter but it contains so much more than that, with apricot kernel oil, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil and rosemary extract. L'oreal promises instant and long lasting, visible results. Immediately after use and several days later my skin felt soft and smooth.
Purchase? Yes!

Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturiser SPF15 in 03 Medium Sample 
I was surprised at how much coverage this gives- I'd say has the coverage of a light foundation. The colour match was pretty good though it was slightly pink/orange toned for me (I am more yellow toned) but it didn't matter because it can be applied in a sheer layer across the skin. It didn't irritate my sensitive skin and I liked the addition of an SPF and the fact it's oil free. (For reference I am MAC NC15/Bobbi Brown Warm Sand/Nars Ceylan.)
Purchase? Maybe. I used to buy Clinique's foundations before I realised that they were too orange toned for my yellow toned skin. If I could get a shade that had more of a yellow tone I'd buy it. However as it stands they only have four shades.

Simple radiance cream
The radiance in this cream is gold glitter. You may not want to wear this to work as the glitter is very noticeable. I only had a sample and I didn't have enough to use under foundation to see if that way of applying it would give a subtle radiance instead. If you wear contact lenses be careful about washing all the gold glitter off before putting your lenses in.
Purhase? Probably not.

No 7 Eye Makeup Remover
This is a dual phrase makeup remover where you shake the oil and rest of the liquid together. It's ophthalmology tested and does't sting my eyes as some makeup removers can. It removes waterproof mascara and eye liner without any trouble. I often get this when Boots give vouchers for no 7 skincare for around £3.
Repurchase? Yes

Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Primer in Candlelight (Not pictured) 
I often worry when trying a new eye primer that it will really irritate my sensitive skin, but thankfully my skin gets on with Too Faced Shadow Insurance original formula and the candlelight version. Candlelight is a champagne tinted eye primer. I often wear gold/ champagne eye shadows as they brighten up the eyes and this acts like a primer and base eye shadow rolled into one. Initially I really liked this but then I began to feel that the gold looked too bright and brassy and not as soft and subtle as I would have liked.
Repurchase? Yes but in the original formula.

Body Shop Body Butters

This was the first body butter I tried and I'd say it is the best. It smells gorgeous and more importantly it mositurises incredibly well even if I skip a day applying it my skin still feels mositurised. I'd describe the consistency as being more like a lotion than a cream.

Although organic olive oil is the third ingredient this body butter it doesn't smell of olives. To me it smells of that Boots Natural Collection Cucumber spray I mentioned above. It smells very fresh. This is aimed at those with very dry skin but I found the mango more mositurising. The consistency is thicker than the mango being more like cream/mousse hybrid. It did leave my skin soft and I loved the smell.

I loved the smell of this in the shop, but I actually found the strawberry scent to be really fake and cheap despite having strawberry seed oil in the ingredients. So it went in my drawer for a few months before I decided to use it again. This time around the smell didn't bother me as much. The consistency is like a mousse. It's also aimed at those with dry skin and while it made my skin soft I prefer the mango and olive body butter.

This body butter smells very tropical but can sometimes be a bit too sweet. It moisturised my skin really well.

Repurchase? Yes to the Mango, Olive and Coconut. No for the strawberry body butter.

Aveeno Daily Body Yogurt 
This is lighter than The Body Shop body butters but very creamy and moisturising. Although it doesn't state on the sachet I think this is the vanilla and oats version. I like the scent despite not being a big vanilla fan.
Purchase? Yes.

Salcura Bioskin
Salcura Bioskin is used to treat skin allergies such as eczema. The ingredients are 99% natural and smells of essential oils.  The leaflet that came with these samples had amazing before and after photos. However it did little to soothe, moisturise or improve my skin during my eczema break outs.
Purchase? No.

Head and Shoulders Anti Dandruff Shampoo Smooth & Silky
It's always good to have an anti dandruff shampoo in the bathroom cabinet and this has such a gorgeous fresh smell. I am looking for a new shampoo without MCI and MI preservatives but unfortunately this has both.
Purchase: Maybe. I absolutely love the smell but having sensitive skin and eczema I should really avoid these preservatives.

Pantene Pro V Smooth and Sleek Shampoo
I usually use Pantene Pro V Classic shampoo but I bought this smaller sized bottle for a weekend away. I noticed that I needed less of the Smooth and Sleek shampoo to lather up and the scent is very sweet. However the Classic shampoo is better at keeping oily roots at bay.
Repurchase? Maybe if I couldn't find the Pantene pro V Classic Shampoo.

Palmers Shampoo (not pictured.) 
The coconut in this shampoo will make you smell like a Bounty chocolate bar. However it didn't control my oily hair because I had to wash it again 24 hours later. If you don't have oily hair then you may like this.
Purchase: No.

Givenchy Very Irresistible Perfume EDT
Usually I don't like sweet, floral perfumes but this one is actually really nice. It's quite modern so it's not in the 'smells like a grandma' category of perfume. The top notes are cassia, lemon verbena and anise. The middle notes are floral with rose, peony and magnolia and the end note is taif rose. To me all I can smell are the florals, mainly rose. I can't smell the lemon and I actually hate anything that smells (and tastes) like anise (such as aniseed, licorice and fennel) but it doesn't ruin the perfume for me. I guess it counterbalances the floral ingredients so they don't smell too sweet. It's a modern and feminine perfume but not really me. I prefer fruity and oceanic perfumes.
Purchase: If someone gave me a bottle I'd happily use it but I wouldn't rush out to buy it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Self Care Week - 38 Ways To Brighten Up Your Day & Life

This week is self care week. It's really important to take time out for yourself, even when you think you don't have time. You need space to gain perspective, recharge your batteries and have a break. Doing this can help protect your physical and mental health as well as your relationships with those around you. Without self care and periods of relaxation you can be more vulnerable to stress, mental and physical illnesses and arguments with loved ones. If you're having a bad time with anxiety or depression or it's that time of year when someone close to you passed away, its vital to be kinder to yourself so that your symptoms don't get worse and to avoid a negative spiral. Do one nice thing a day if you're going through a bad time, they can be small things like having a nice breakfast, buying your favourite magazine or having a bubble bath. In general it's good to have some 'me time' during the week especially if you're a busy mum or your job is very demanding.

This post has been in the works for a while, the inspiration came from a friend when I showed her a cute animal photo in the newspaper and she responded with "one for the fridge." She explained that whenever she saw a cute animal picture she'd stick it on the fridge so that every time she opened it she'd smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside! Anyway here are 38 self care ideas for you.

1. One for the fridge. Cut out any cute animals from papers or magazines to decorate the fridge or go digital and start a Pintrest board for them or follow my cute animals board here.

2. Speak to the people you love. They can give you some advice on how to tackle the situation or offer some reassurance. It will also let them understand what you're going through which could ward off any future arguments. Sometimes you may not want to tell them what you're going through, but just spending time with them or talking to them on the phone will show you that there are people who care about you and who are on your side.

3. Spend time with pets playing or cuddling them. It's been proven that stroking pets decreases your blood pressure. If you haven't got a pet but love dogs then the Borrow My Doggy website will connect you with local dog owners. It costs £10 to sign up and then you can walk a dog or borrow them for weekends and holidays. If you're more of a cat person then get down to a cat cafe and show them some love.

4. Often when we're stressed or depressed we don't talk to ourselves kindly but berate ourselves, so writing a list of things you like about yourself can help to combat this. Repeating affirmations during the day will help, examples such as  'I'm capable and loveable', 'I forgive myself for not being perfect because I know I'm human' and 'I live life to the fullest.'

5.  If you're feeling down or very stressed exercise will actually help. Exercising releases dopamine and seratonin neurotransmitters, two chemicals produced in the brain that promote happiness and lowers depression. It will also change your mindset, perhaps make you feel more energised and change your perspective, enabling you to see that your world is bigger that what is currently making you sad or stressed. I always feel that running is therapeutic because it feels like you are literally running outside and away from your problems you were mulling over indoors. Running alongside a river or park or something picturesque helps. Don't like running? Try Tai Chi and yoga instead, they can be very calming. Or do a Grey's Anatomy and dance it out (my preferred method!) If you're lonely then joining a team sport may help such as netball or football.

6. Write a list of things things that make you happy and do more of them. Having a list nearby will remind you of things that you can do when you're feeling rubbish.

7. Find some of your favourite quotes and frame them. You can buy prints from Etsy or use Canva to make and print your own.

8. Buy yourself some flowers. They'll brighten the place the kitchen table, bedroom or living room.

9. Turn off your mobile, have a no screen day or a digital detox weekend. Sometimes it's good to concentrate on yourself without the interruptions of other people's demands on your time. It's also refreshing to have a no screen weekend and have a break from social media. While using social media we can sometimes compare our bodies and lives to others and end up feeling sad or disappointed instead of focusing on all the good things and people in our own, off screen lives. Taking a break from looking at screen means that you fill your day with other activities, talking or seeing friends, reading a proper book, going for a walk or to the gym. Another idea is to spend the day exploring local attractions.

10. Treat yourself by paying your favourite coffee shop or cafe a visit.

11. Plan a holiday or staycation. Focusing on something positive will help and it will be easier to get through each day knowing you have something to look forward to.

12. Being in nature is known to reduce stress. So take a stroll in the local park, woods or visit the beach. Or a long country walk or hike if you're up for it.

13. Have a laugh. Book yourself tickets to a comedy night or watch a funny TV series. I recommend Fawlty Towers, Friends, Have I got News for You and Mock the Week. My favourite comedians are Katherine Ryan, Russel Howard, Britain's Got Talent Mandy Munden, Andy Parsons, Hugh Dennis and Ed Gamble. 

14. Listen to your favourite songs and create a playlist. Whenever you feel down or need some time to yourself switch on that playlist.

15. Find a project: it can be decorating the spare room, a craft project-perhaps making a present for a friend, restoring a motorbike or researching your family history. This will direct all your energy into something positive and you'll be able to see the progress you're making.

16. Take photos of beautiful things. This can be arty shots of nature, buildings or pictures of your friends, family and pets. You may not be the best at taking photos but the point of this exercise is that it prompts you to notice all the beautiful things around us. You may end up with a lovely family picture to frame as a present or get lots of likes on Instagram if you are posting it there.

17. Book yourself a massage. It will rid you of stress, muscle aches and help bad posture.

18. Have a bath, fill with bath bubbles or bath bombs. Use aromatherapy bath and shower gels.

19. Cook your favourite meal or make yourself a lovely breakfast with pancakes, waffles, fruit salad, chia seed pudding, pastries, a milkshake or smoothie. Have a go baking a cake or loaf of bread.

20.  Do something new. If you've always been interested in photography watch a few Youtube videos or go on a course. If you've ever wanted to learn another language then log onto BBC Languages or Duolingo for free. Ever wanted to play the guitar? Then Youtube tutorials or classes can help.

21. Wear your favourite outfit- whether it be comfortable or sexy-  a flattering dress or pair of jeans. Wearing your favourite clothes gives you confidence that you look good and feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

22. Watch your favourite films or TV series. My favourites are Sex and the City, Samantha Who, Singing in the Rain, Harry Potter, Sherlock, Pretty Little Liars and The Good Fight.

23. Create a Space of Peace. This can be a corner of your room or sitting room where you can go and recuperate. Maybe a lovely comfy chair or sofa or a window seat to read by. Decorate with calming things such as candles, flowers, shells, rocks, ornaments, cuddly toys or quotes.

24. Read your favourite books. I find it very comforting to read a book I love and know so well. My favourites are Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, the Harry Potter series and books by Meg Cabot and Lindsey Kelk. In the summer read in the park and in the winter find a cozy fireplace to read by.

25. Wrap up warm and go outside to stargaze. As well as being beautiful, the distance and the all encompassing nature of the universe can put things into perspective.

26. Print out your digital photos or photos from your Instagram or phone. Frame them or display them in a digital photo frame.

27. Ring the changes and try a different makeup look. Browse Pintrest and Youtube tutorials for 'How to' guides and inspiration. Ask for a different haircut at the hairdressers or dye your hair another colour.

28. Enter a competition, it doesn't have to be anything complicated that involves you doing lots of things to enter. You do have to be in it to win it though! You never know, you may be surprised a few weeks or months down the line to find out that  you've won!

29. Colouring for adults has been a big trend because anyone can do it and it can be very relaxing. There are so many different colouring books out there, there's something for everyone!  If you are feeling more creative try your hand at painting or drawing.

 30. One of the ways to be reminded that there's some good left in the world is watching Youtube video clips of animals helping other animals here and here. There's also this clip on animals that saved humans and true life rescue stories here.

31. Looking back on the past can give us feelings of depression and looking towards the future can produce anxiety, Mindfulness helps you to focus on the moment. You become more aware of  thoughts, feelings, and body sensations without being overwhelmed. It can also be used to  help sleep using progressive muscle relaxation (gradually tensing and releasing muscles) and pain (imagining  the pain to be bigger and vibrant and then diminishing it.) For more information on mindfulness visit Mind. Visual mediation is another way to relax. Visual meditation involves picturing your 'happy' place or the place that you're most relaxed such as on the beach and that you can hear the waves and seagulls etc. Hypnosis is another way to relax and look after our mental health. It has a certain 'image' but really it's something that puts you into a relaxed state and be more open to suggestion or persuasion. So things like someone telling you to smoke less may make you grumble and defensive during the day but under hypnosis you accept the possibility and may subconsciously take the suggestion on board and smoke less. I recommend Glen Harrold and use the app to play his Relax and Sleep and Positive Thinking tracks before I go to sleep.

32. Pamper yourself by having a D.I.Y spa at home. Put on a face mask, give yourself a manicure, soak your feet and apply a moisturisng treatment to your hair. If you have the money book yourself and a relative or friend to a spa.

33. Buy yourself some cozy slippers, jumpers and soft pajamas.

34. Have a good nights sleep. This is something I struggle with. The Sleep Council offers some tips. Make sure your room is completely dark and keep the room temperature around 16-18 degrees. Turn off technology such as phones, TVs and computers and turn away LCD screens such as an alarm clock. Try to start a nighttime ritual or routine to let your body know it's time to relax and sleep. I try to apply a nice body cream and read a book in bed.

35. Sometimes imposing order on something can bring a sense of control back in our lives. As a way to combat lethargy try setting an alarm for 20 minutes and tidy one drawer. That's maybe all you can do and that's fine: mission accomplished! Or you may feel that you're on a roll and end up tidying all the drawers. Alternatively you can declutter your wardrobe, letting go of the clothes you no longer wear and making some room for new clothes! Or you can rearrange your bookshelves by colour, creating a rainbow effect!

36. Write a list of goals-such as places to visit, skills to pick up, things to do and films to watch (one of my current goals is to watch all of Hitchcock's films- all 51 of them!) This directs your energy into something positive and achieve something you've always wanted to do.

37. Get your friends together and try this exercise. Each person writes one good thing about everyone in the room on a Post it note. At the end collect the notes about yourself and stick them on your fridge or in a book for an instant boost when you need it. You also don't have to read them aloud if you don't want to. This is also a good exercise to help you figure out a new direction for your career, because friends and family see qualities we can't always see in ourselves.

38. Read uplifting self help books- I recommend Lynda Fields tiny book 60 Ways to Feel Amazing, Teach Yourself Relaxation by Richard Craze and Stress Proof Your Life by Elizabeth Wilson.

 I hope these ideas above are helpful. If you come up with any other ideas feel free to tell me in the comments 

Friday, 9 November 2018

9 Autumn / Winter 2018 Nail Trends

This season black, almost black and burgundy nails replaced the spring/summer 2018 neon shades. The modern French mani is still trending but this time tips are hot pink, gold, orange and lime rather than blue and silver. While the nude trend continued there was also the rise of the neutral nail with colours such as grey, taupe and khaki. Metallic nails never go out of style and Christian Siriano went for a red and gold look and Civindi a metallic geranium green. Naeem Khan was actually inspired by the shell of a Peruvian beetle and created a holographic blue and green nail. The silver and black glitter tips at Cushnie De Oches looked fun and sophisticated while the neon ombre glitter nails at Creature of Comfort added colour and bling. Creature of Comfort also painted model's nails black with jumbo gems very reminiscent of last season's nails at Philip Plein. Pale nails at Sophia Webster looked delicate and glamourous with a gold lace gem detail and at Bibhu Mohapatra gems were placed below each nail. 

Neon leopard print at Jeremy Scott made a classic print fun and contemporary while Gypsy Sport went for zebra print and hound-tooth pattern sticking to a monochrome palette. Statement nails were on fire at The Blonds with nails representing different stages of the power of Lucifer with spikes and gems. Sophia Webster was inspired by the film Strictly Ballroom and made sure nails had some bling. Never one to shy away from statement nails Libertine had ginormous tassels extending from each nail.  

1. Black or Almost Black Nails

For the shiny, black nail polish seen at Alice and Olivia nail artists used Essie Nail polish in Licorice (£7.99) with a layer of Essie Speed Setter Top Coat (£6.90) to add shine. The trend continued at Self portrait where nails were painted a deep blue-black colour using  Essie in Midnight Cami (£7.99.)

2. Burgundy and Dark Red Nails

Dark nails were a big theme in the Autumn/Winter 2018 shows but this time they were in burgundy and dark red hues. Temperly's autumn 2018 collection was inspired by the 1930s and 1940s and used Orly Nail Polish in Ruby (£9.95) to match the period. At Prabul Gurang burgundy nails were given a glossy top coat.

3. Metallic Nails 

Marc Jacobs showcased his jewel colored nails on the runway - specifically his deep purple, red and green metallic nail polishes which coordinated with the model's eye makeup and the brims of the hats they were wearing. The red and gold nails worn at Christian Siriano were part of his limited edition imPRESS nail manicure collection (now discontinued.) Nails at Naem Khan was inspired by the blue-green shell of a Peruvian insect and he used imPRESS Special Effect Gel Manicure in Goal Digger (now discontinued.)

At Tanya Taylor two coats of Essie No Place Like Home (£11.47) was applied and the tips were painted with Essie Tart Deco. Finally speed Setter Top coat was applied for a quick drying shine. Over at Cinvidi models wore vegan nail polish by Faby in Glittering Chlorophyll a metallic olive shade to match their eye liner (13 Euros.)

4 Alternative French Tip Nails 

Roberta Einer was inspired by 80's french manicures but with a colourful neon twist. Nail artists used Artistic Colour Revolution nail polishes in Bubblegum Pink (£3.23) Shred it Up (£6.99) and  Sultry (£8.99.) Over at Tanya Taylor Essie nail artist Julie Kandalee took inspiration from the two-toned shoes in the collection and deliberately chose an unusual colour pairing. Nails were painted with two coats of Essie's Burgandy Bahama Mama (£7.99). Afterwards she used a stiff skinny eyeliner brush dipped in acetone to remove the polish at the tip and added a layer of Essie Speed Setter Top Coat. (£7.) Once dry the tip was painted with two coats of Essie Chillato Lime Green nail polish. (£7.99.) Over at Alice McCall models wore natural or naked nails with gold tips. 

5. Glitter Nails 

Cushnie Et Och showed everyone that glitter can still be sophisticated. Nails were painted with two coats of Essie Skinny Dip- a sheer pink (£9.95)  followed by glitter with Essie's Summit of Style (£6.99.) Over at Preen nails were covered in chunky glitter using Rimmel Love Glitter Nail polish (£10.95 for 5 nail polishes.) To recreate the glitter ombre nails seen at Creatures of Comfort you need to apply a base coat and then use glitter polishes or pour a mix of fine glitter across each nail changing the colours as you do so.

6.  Nude Nails and the new Neutral Nails

All the models at Mouret wore Kure Bazaar in Nude nail polish (£17.50) along with CND Solar Oil (£9.45) to protect and nourish the nails. As well as traditional nude nails, a lot of neutral nails in earthy tones were seen across the catwalks. At Emilio De La Morena models wore IZ Beauty's Gel Effect Nail Lacquer in Earthy Brown  (£6) followed by iZ Gel Top Coat (£10.50.) A similar hue in a lighter shade was spotted at Eudon Choi and at Prabal Gurung models wore Zoya nail polish in Dove (£9.95.)

7. Gem Nails 

In a similar vein to nails seen at Philip Plein's SS18 show, models at Creatures of Comfort wore shiny black nail polish with large gems. To prepare the nails Deborah Lippmann used Marshmallow Whipped Hand and Cuticle scrub (£25.) Then she painted two coats of Deborah Lippmann Fade To Black Vinyl Polish ($20) and large Swarovski crystals were placed on each nail. Sophia Webster wanted to make nail polish look like expensive jewellery so nails were embellished nails with gold flower and lace gems.

At Bibhu Mohapatra gems were glued below the nail to complement the negative space manicure in white Zoya Aspen nail polish (£9.95) or in red Zoya Tanwny nail polish.

8. Patterned Nails 

The neon leopard print nails at Jeremy Scott was created by nail artist Miss Pop. She used Essie's hot pink Bachelorette Bash (pictured) Tarte Deco (Coral)  or Playdate (violet.) all £7.99. She drew macaroni shapes and single dots to get the leopard print effect. To recreate the look paint nail extensions using a nail art tool kit. At Chromat models nails were painted in a red and black checkerboard pattern or in white with red wavy lines. Models at Gypsy sport went for white and black stripes and a hounds-tooth pattern.

9. Statement Nails

You can always count on The Blonds for a dramatic nail. Their AW18 nails revolved around the story of Lucifer becoming a powerful female and her journey from the darkness into light. Each nail design represented a different stage through her journey. At the beginning you see her "burning in the fire, finding the melted, molten marble, protecting herself with armor and finding her spikes and her crystals,” said Jan from CND Nails. “You then see the weapons emerge (on the nails) and from there, there is a transformation that leads us to heaven—where angels are ascending and finding their power and taking over the darkness and evil with wonderful goodness.”

Beginning with pink and gold ombre nails with black tips, the nails transform into pink, grey and white marble as if the ombre had melted.  The next stage sees red nails with black armour with lots of crystals and spikes. The nail becomes more elaborate with gold dotted trim outlining the nail shape, then the silver spikes get bigger forming big silver spiked weapons. Nail artists used shellac top coat to create a sticky base for the clothing spikes to adhere to. Then comes the ascension with blue and gold frescoes of angels.

Armour begins to form again first white and then blue and gold with spikes. However the amour is there to protect the nail instead of being a weapon. The nails forms volcanic crystals until they evolve into red and gold crocodile nails. You can see a video of the stages of the journey at Nail Pro.

Sophia Webster's autumn winter 2018 collection was inspired by her favourite film Strictly Ballroom.  “The collection and the show theme this season is very close to my heart as I grew up with competitive dancing,” reveals Sophia. “Dance costumes have to be made in striking colour combinations, sequins and crystals to attract the attention of the judges and I loved bringing this to life in AW18.” Another show stopper was the  extremely long fringing extending from gem studded nails at Libertine.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

13 Autumn/Winter 2018 Makeup Trends

This season's biggest surprise has been bright, neon colours usually reserved for the spring/summer seasons. Eyes were neon yellow, orange and both pink and blue at Christian Siriano. Bold eye liners in red, yellow, purple, green and blue circled the eyes as well as traditional black liner drawn in tiny winged flicks at Pucci to a bolder graphic eye at Marras. In short, black or rainbow coloured eye liner is a must have for your make up bag!

Black smoky eyes made an appearance at Tom Ford and La Petite Robe. But smoky eyes didn't just come in black but in jewel toned purple at Carolina Herrera, green at Armani and even bronze at Etro. Metallic shades were made very wearable by using silver as inner eye highlight at Tommy Hilfiger, a silver liner on bare eyelids at Franchi and gold eye shadow at Huelle. Gold leaf was added to the inner and outer corners of heavily kohl eyes at Akin and at Laroche the contrast of gold swipes across the eyes and lips against the models dark skin was very striking. However the glitter face mask at Giambatistta Valli was an absolute show stopper. I think you can probably get away with glitter on the forehead and hair at a party or a festival. Although far more wearable is the beautiful, feminine lilac and iridescent white eye makeup at Oscar De La Renta and the glitter smokey eye at Carmen Marc Valvo.

On the other end of the spectrum was the natural look. Full brows aren't going anywhere but they are more natural looking than the instagram brow. They go with the subtle 'boyish blush' and glowing skin trends.

Finally red lips never go out of style and as well as the usual dark vampy red lips, this season it's also all about cherry lips- a bright blue based red.

1. Bright Eyes 

At Ferragamo makeup artists created neon eyes using  MAC Cosmetics Chromaline gel in Genuine Orange £17 and Chromacake Pigment £22.50.  Colour block make up at Christian Siriano was inspired by Grace Jones. He used products from his collaboration with E.L.F. His matte pink liquid lipstick Electric Fuchsia was actually used on models eyelids while the turquoise and navy eye shadows from his eye shadow palette Bold Bouquet a collaboration with E.L.F was applied on the lower lash line. At Noon eyes were neon yellow.
Left Getty Images. Centre Imaxtree Right Imaxtree

2. Bright Liner

Head make up artist Peter Philips at Dior decided to apply eye liner that matched the colour of the sunglasses worn by each model. He used Diorshow On Stage colourful felt tip liners in Matte Red and Matte Rusty. At Eudon Choi models eyes were circled in yellow or red liner using  MAC Cosmetics Chromaline in Primary Yellow or Basic Red £17. To make this trend more wearable just focus on the lash line for a pop of colour. The colourful superhero mask worn at Sies Marjan was created by MAC Cosmetics Chromaline and Chromacakes in four different combinations: red and purple, purple and blue, teal and blue and orange and green. The rest of the face was left make up free so that the focus was on the eyes.
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3. Winged Liner

Pucci wanted models to look like ' baby Marilyn Monroes.' The look was created with MAC's Brushstroke Liner in Brushblack £18.50 drawn only along a third of  the upper lash line. This was  paired with MAC Cosmetics Haute & Naughty Lash Mascara £20 and balanced by a neutral lipstick - MAC Cosmetics Cremesheen in Pure Zen, £17.50 and Clear Gloss £15.50, for added shine. At Sonia Rykiel models eyes were heavily lined while girls at No. 21 wore double winged liner.
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4. Graphic eyes

Models at Jeremy Scott wore one of the most innovative looks of the season using plastic wire and MAC Cosmetics acrylic paint to achieve 3D flap eyeliner wings. The 3D blue wings below were created using Hi-Def Cyan, the pink wings with Process Magenta and yellow wings used with  Primary Yellow acrylic paint. Lips were given a natural finish using the MAC X Jeremy Scott's Lip X 9 Future Emotions Palette $21. At Marras a thick bold graphic eye was softened and brightened with a pink magenta shade, while Zero +Maria Cornejo went for a messy graphic eye.
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5. Smokey eyes

For a messy, smoky eye Tom Ford used eye kohl in Intense Onyx £27 and added Tom Ford eye gloss £32. Marc Jacobs went for a 80's smoky eye extending the flick towards the side of the face. Make up artist Dianne Kendall used jewel toned eye shadows, liquid and gel liners that matched what each model was wearing. She used Marc Jacobs Eye-Conic Eye shadow palettes £32 and Marc Jacobs Shamless Youthful Look 24 Hour Foundation £32

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Other alternatives to the traditional black and silver smoky eye appeared at Caroline Herrera. Head makeup artist Dianne Kendal created a blue and purple 'midnight smoky.' For the eyes she used MAC Cosmetic pigment in Naval Blue and Platinum (both £16.50.) Haute and Naughty Lash Mascara £20 completed the look. Models at Etro had a bronze smoky eye while at Armani, shimmery shades of green, black and silver formed a camouflage smoky eye look.

Left Getty Images Centre Imaxtree Right Estrop

6. Metallic Make Up 

At Tommy Hilfiger silver eye shadow 'similar to the chrome of a car' was used to highlight the inner corners of the eye for a glowy, wide awake look. To finish the look lashes were coated in Maybelline Total Temptations Mascara £8.99. Another silver, minimalist look was spotted at Franchi where silver eye liner was applied to bare eye lids. At Delponzo silver Nars Eye Paint in Insterstellar  £18.50 was applied in a slap dash fashion across the eyes. Skin was deliberately matte by using Nars Soft Matte Complete Concealer (£24) and Nars Soft Velvet Loose Powder £28 to highlight the metallic shadow. At Lutz Huelle models wore gold eye shadow.

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For a statement look, gold leaf was placed at the corners of kohl rimmed eyes at Akin while Laroche took the look further with gold on the lips which looked stunning against dark skin.
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7. Glitter

Glitter doesn't have to be brash and obvious, sometimes a little does go a long way. The makeup at Oscar De La Renta was very feminine and delicate. They applied the lavendar sparkle shade 'Ice Lolly' from MAC Cosmetics Trend Forecast The  Fall 18 Cream Eye Palette U.S $40.Then MAC Cosmetics Grand Illusion Glossy Liquid Lip Color in Pink Trip £18.50 was dabbed onto the centre of the lid and blended. Finally MAC Cosmetics Iridescent White glitter was also patted onto the centre of the lids and a little under the lower lashes. Using the Trend Forecast Fall 18 palette the shade 'Maybe I will' a deep rose colour was used across the cheeks. At Alice McCall gold glitter was concentrated in the inner eye taking it up to the brow bone while at Genny silver glitter was applied to outer lids and extended upwards towards the brow. At Valvo models sported a gorgeous glittery smoky eye.
Left Imaxtree Centre: Imaxtree
However Giambatista Valli stole the show with models' faces completely covered in glitter- like a mask. Make up artist Val Garland used a MAC Cosmetics 184S duo fibre fan brush  £21 to blend  MAC Cosmetics Mixing Medium Shine £16.50, with MAC's pink loose glitter and iridescent white both £16.50.

Since the clothing collection at Preen was inspired by Korean female divers searching for pearls, model's skin was kept dewy as if they'd just been in the water. To achieve this dewy look  MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime Fix, £19 and Studio Moisture Cream, £25 were used. Make up artists mixed MAC Cosmetics Mixing Medium Shine, with  MAC Cosmetics Iridescent white glitter (although it looks gold in the photos) both £16.50. Then the mixture was blown onto onto models forehead and hairline.
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8. Gems and Crystals
When I first saw the eye make up at Kate Spade I thought the gems were drops of water! They are actually Swarovski Shimmer Effect Hotfix Crystals £4.39  which were glued on using eyelash glue and tweezers. The rest of the face were kept relatively bare, skin was prepped with MAC Studio Moisture Cream £25 and then MAC Studio Finish Concealer £12.50 where needed. Thick groomed brows accompanied the look. At Prada legendary make up artist Pat Mcgrath used her Subversive La Vie en Rose Palette  (£43) to create an edgy and colourful winged eye liner studded with Swarovski crystals. While at Zinko, gems replaced eye liner for a striking effect.

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9. Glowing skin

At Temperley Charlotte Tilbury debuted her Hollywood Flawless Filter backstage to achieve a "gorgeous, glossy, all-over, superstar-lit glow." For the eye makeup Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerise in Bette and Star Gold £22, was applied. Then Hollywood Beauty Light Wand, £29 was added for glow and Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips in Tell Laura on the lips. To accompany Emilia Wickstead's 'love story' clothing collection, make up artists concentrated on giving models 'a youthful, glowing blush you get when falling in love.' Models were given facials by Caroline Hirons for a radiant finish followed by Zelens blush in Apricot an illuminating powder designed to give a lit from within glow. Zelens lip treatment was finally applied on the lips. Isabel Marant also went with a natural glow using brush of bronzer to define the cheekbones and a natural lipstick that subtlety gave each models skin tone a boost.
Left Getty Images Right Charlotte Tilbury  

10. Brows

At Arfen models' brows were brushed up and thickened with Nars' Brow Perfector £18.50, and Nars Oural Brow Gel  £18.50. To define the eyes, makeup artists used Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment in Somebody To Love to add a natural looking redness around the eyes. For full brows at Toga, makeup artists used the same Nars brow products as above. Full brows also made an appearance at the Brock Collection accompanied with a neutral eye shadow and lip.
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11. Blush

Lead makeup artist Lyndsey Alexander for Mary Katranzou wanted her models to 'look like young boys on a cold day.' In other words a minimal, natural, just come in from the col,d pink blush. She used a fan brush to apply MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Blush in Bubbles Please £23 but much lower on the cheeks rather than on the apples of the cheeks.

Over at House of Holland head makeup artist Zoe Taylor decided that a natural, wind flushed cheek would complement the inspiration behind the latest collection of 'urban hiking.' She used Lord and Berry Absolute Intensity lipstick in Sweetheart for a caramel blush on the apples of the cheeks and a dot of Lord and Berry Lipstick in Advant Guard  terracotta high in the centre of the cheeks.
Right: Getty Images Centre Getty Images Right Getty Images 

12. Red Lips - Cherry Red

Red lipstick never goes out of fashion. The colour this season was cherry red, a blue toned red shade. At Brandon Maxwell lead make up artist Tom Pecheux used MAC Cosmetics Lip pencil in Cherry. He then took an eye liner brush to apply MAC Cosmetics Retro Matte Lipcolour In Feels so Grand and added a highlighter to the cupids bow. Then for a twist he added MAC Cosmetics Glitter in Gold to the top lip line but stopping before the out thirds. Cherry red lips was also seen at No. 21 and at Shoji the lipstick was sheer and glossier.

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13. Dark Berry Reds

At an Autumn/Winter fashion show expect to see dark berry lips. At Cushnie Et Ochs models wore a dark berry lipstick using Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink Lip Colour in Voyager  £9.99 topped up with Maybelline Lip Python 5 Passionate £9.99. Rochas went for a stained just eaten berriers look while at Chocheng lips were dark and glossy.
Left Imaxtree  Centre Imaxtree Right Jason Lloyd Evans 

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