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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Disappointing Products

Generally if I don't like a product I can make it work for me by using it in another way, but occasionally I buy or receive something that really doesn't live up to my expectations or to its claims. I've been compiling this list for a little while which is why a few of the products have gone to different homes already, but each of the products below just really haven't been my cup of tea. [Apologies again for the slightly below par photos- I'm in between selling my old camera and buying a new one, so I'm still using my phone for a bit]

I was really excited to see this Micellar Water on offer at Superdrug, as I thought it was the highstreet cleansing water everyone was talking about. But as I quickly found out, the one with the good reviews is actually the Loreal version! 
This Garnier version is not for me at all- it does a pretty bad job of removing foundation and concealer, leaving me either tugging at my skin or using about 5 cotton pads and even then I can't remove everything. For eye shadow it's not bad but it's useless for waterproof mascara (I never wear non waterproof) and it's like trying to rub it off using actual water. I've lost countless eyelashes (and my patience) trying to get everything off my face using this, but as it's a huge bottle I just want to finish it, so I've been using it liberally on my face and I'm back to Simple wipes just for eyes. I can't comment on how it performs with normal mascara, but if you use a long wearing foundation and waterproof eye makeup I would stay away.

This is OK as a volumising product but it's not my first choice for dirty or greasy hair. It's quite wet when first sprayed out of the can and when I rub it in it feels a bit sticky. This dry shampoo doesn't have that very powdery grey look that others do, and it gives my hair some shine without really weighing it down, but the shine of greasy hair is usually what I want to remove when using a dry shampoo! 
I've been using it on clean hair to get a bit of volume without the matte look, but for dirty hair its a thumbs down from me.

Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30 (£59.95) (not pictured as I sold it on, £60 ain't cheap for an alarm clock you don't like!)
I bought this in the winter as I've noticed over the past few years I tend to feel particularly down from about October until the weather starts warming up again. Add to that dark mornings and an inability to get out of the bed at the best of times and you've got trouble on your hands! This clock houses a daylight SAD bulb and has a sunset and sunlight alarm which is designed to wake you up by mimicking natural light and make you a bit more cheery.
I found the clock quite difficult to set, the buttons are very loud and the actual face that shows the time kept me awake it was so bright (thankfully that was dimmable). You can use the light as a 'normal' daylight lamp during the day and it does give off a nice bright glow, but the light slowly fades and then suddenly turns itself off every 30 minutes or so. The biggest problem for me was that it made no difference to the time or mood in which I got out of bed. Sometimes it was pretty annoying to be woken up with a bright light, other times I slept through it completely!
I read a lot of good reviews before buying, but if I was to buy another product this autumn/winter it would be a simple light box as I think that would be easier, more useful and probably cheaper too.

Can we take a second to talk about the name of this eyeliner- chopsticks? What have they got to do with my eyes? Anyway, I thought this would be similar to a dark grey kajal eyeliner, but the pigmentation is quite poor and its difficult to get a precise looking line with the chunky tip. I use this if I'm in a mega hurry- I apply it messily then rub it in to give a little bit of definition, but I was hoping for something much darker and less glossy.

I have to admit I have only used this once as I was so disappointed with the results I didn't want to try again. This tan is designed to last up to two weeks- you apply two coats with a shower in between and watch in amazement as your tan fades evenly over the next 14 days. 
Well, the first coat went fine, the second coat was also fine after showering until I woke up the next day with marks everywhere! I had rings round my ankles where my socks had been, white streaks down my arms and an actual white hand print on my leg where someone had squeezed my knee! I was pretty unimpressed and I scrubbed it off that evening, so it's been sitting in my cupboard ever since. 
If you've tried this and had good results then let me know because I've heard good reviews and I don't know what I could have done wrong!

I've been looking around for a light colour that will stay in my waterline but that isn't shimmery, and when I came across the affordable Barry M waterproof white eyeliner I thought it would be perfect. I like the design of the bottle- there's a brush in the lid which you upturn and clip in to give a long brush handle, and the pot of liner unscrews from the bottom. 
The product, however, is very dry and appears quite lumpy, almost moussey. That makes it very difficult to get a nice smooth line, and the lumps are very apparent in the waterline unless you apply it very thickly which obviously doesn't look right as its an unnatural bright white. It does seem last to last reasonably well in the eye but that's only when you've spent ages applying, wiping off and reapplying in order to get something that looks kind of ok. This product definitely need to be creamier as even on the back of my hand it looks like I've drawn a line in waxy art pastel.

This is a decent sized tube of clear mascara, but unfortunately it's a very wet product and doesn't have much hold. I have quite unruly brows and this made them feel a bit sticky until it dried but didn't do a good job of holding them in place. W7 have some great products that I've written about in the past, but unfortunately this isn't one of them.

As I've said in previous posts I love the 1 Hour Tan and I love the dark version even more, but this product didn't live up to my expectations. It's designed as a tan that you can wear on a night out, then wash off in the morning leaving more of a 'day time' colour. 
I found the guide colour (the 'night' colour) really dark, much darker than I would wear outside as I'd be worried about accidental runs or smears, and I didn't think it was a very natural shade on me. On washing off, I thought I'd be left with a colour similar to the 1 Hour Tan, but the shade was so light in comparison to the guide colour that it looked like it hadn't done anything at all. 
The formula is very nice- silky, moisturising and non streaky, and I'm sure it works well for people who like wash off tan, but I was expecting to get a darker end colour after spending the time on a full body application.

This might be great for people with ageing undereyes or wrinkles, but for me it makes the skin around my eyes feel uncomfortably tight. Whether I use it during the day or at night, I'm not keen on the taught feeling it gives and I feel like I want to plump and soften my eye area, not try to shrink it.

Finally, this setting/face powder from Revlon- after swatching the three available shades in my local Boots I settled on Fair which, after double checking swatches online, I believe is the lightest shade. As I wear fake tan I'm not super pale, but I've found this powder so dark that after using it all over one day, I came home and was horrified to see how orange my face looked! The Fair shade is darker than my other setting powders in the pan so I don't know if it's that along with an oxidisation problem, but I'm really not sure how they can call this the lightest shade.
I bought this after seeing Mikhila from Miss Budget Beauty talk about it, and she also frequently mentions that she's quite pale, so maybe they have reformulated or mine just has the wrong label? If you also have this powder please let me know as it's such a nice formula but mine is orange!

What disappointing products have you tried recently?


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Going To a Wedding? Stay Fashionable Without Spending A Lot!

Are you attending a wedding? How exciting! A wedding is a beautiful occasion where two people celebrate finding the love of their life and want to share that time with friends and family. As a wedding guest or even part of the wedding entourage, it can be a little scary to know what’s appropriate. It can be even more difficult if you are working with a small budget. 
You will be surprised that some people would go as far as applying for wedding loans just so they have enough spending money for the upcoming occasion. This way, they are confident that they are appropriately dressed and fashionable. The good news is, you can still be fashionable without breaking the bank or applying for unnecessary loans. Here’s how:

1. The outfit
It’s important to know how “dressy” you should be when attending the wedding. For sure, most couples would stipulate the expected attire somewhere on the invitation. If not, it is perfectly appropriate to call and ask the wedding hosts. If you already have something in your closet, then don’t feel the need to go buy anything special. If not, see if you might be the same size as a fashion forward friend and borrow something. 
Last, you might be able to find something perfect at a thrift store or a recycled clothing store that specializes in name brands. You can find great ideas here. Remember, for the most part the other guests will be looking at the bridal party, so don’t worry too much!

2. The gift
We live in an age where everyone already has everything they need, so you have to resist the urge to go big. Buying something meaningful or making something personal will mean a lot more than a new food processor. 
If your budget is on the smaller side, you might opt for a handmade gift. Use your talents and create a one-of-a-kind item for the happy couple. If you aren't artistic, then you could do something personal and put together a recipe book of favourite dishes from the couple’s friends and family. These gifts don’t have to be expensive to be beautiful and cherished. Looking for great gift ideas? Check this out.

3. Skip the gift
No, you shouldn't skip the gift completely. That’s rude. But let’s say you are an amazing baker or you can arrange flowers, or you have a DJ equipment, or you are a great photographer, you can offer to provide any of these services to the couple for free for their wedding. You may even offer to stay and clean up the venue, so the couple can get their deposit back. 
These are gifts that won’t cost you anything, but will help save the couple or the parents’ money. These will definitely be appreciated.

4. Accommodation
If you are travelling for the wedding, and you don’t have much to spend on a place to stay, reach out to the bride or members of the bridal party to see if anyone might be willing to share a hotel room with you.
 Also, you might be able to ask if any local friends or family of the bride might be willing to let you stay in a guest room. Everyone will be appreciative of your desire to attend and should be willing to help.

With these tips shared, you need not apply for wedding loans just so to be fashionable or cool. You can be both without the need to break the bank. Always remember, for the soon-to-be-wed couple, your friendship, sincerity and presence during their most important day is more than enough.






This is a guest post

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Review: Old Wives Tail Melado Organic Hair Growth Oil Treatment


Because I don't use 'normal' conditioners, I'm always looking for new natural products to try out to keep my hair looking healthy and stop it becoming too dry or damaged. So, when I was asked if I wanted to try an organic oil treatment from Old Wives Tail, I couldn't refuse!

Old Wives Tail gets its name from a Portuguese grandmother who had a secret recipe for a treatment that would leave hair soft and silky, which she passed down to her granddaughter who now shares the secret (or at least the products made from the secret) with the rest of us. The grandmother is the old wife, and the tail is the long silky hair, a pretty nifty idea for a name I think!

I was sent the Melado Organic Hair Oil treatment to review, which sells for £13.99 for a 100ml pot. The treatment is handmade from a blend of four oils, including Argan and Almond which are a couple of the most well known for hair and body treatments. 
On first opening the pot to have a sniff, I was amazed at how the product smells- it has a very strong scent of lavender, but not that fake lavender that tries feebly to make your clothes drawer smell nice or send you off to sleep, a real woody lavender that smells exactly the bushes I used to have in my garden. The treatment also contains Olive oil but is much less thick than you'd expect, and it has a lovely bright amber colour.

On the first try I wasn't quite sure how much of the oil to use on my hair, as the directions just state to massage into damp hair weekly. I've found dipping my finger into the pot and rubbing into my palm about 5 times gives me an amount that will coat my hair and make it feel that it has treatment in it without turning it into a dangerously dripping oil slick. 
The oil is said to penetrate the hair roots and strengthen the follicle to encourage hair growth when massaged into the scalp. I must admit that I've only tried this once as I don't have much trouble growing my hair and its always been incurably greasy, but on the time I did try my hair was super-shiny afterwards.

So on to the results- has this treatment actually done anything for the long lengths and ends of my hair that I sometimes describe as pretty straw-like? Well, in short, yes! As a weekly product I was expecting the oil to take a while to work, but I saw results from the first use and I was pretty impressed. 
After applying the oil from my ears down, wrapping my hair in cling film and clipping it to my head for an hour, I was really surprised to find just how soft and shiny it was after washing. Occasionally it needs more than one shampooing to remove the product completely, but usually it takes a couple of weeks of using something daily for it to have much of an effect on my hair so I was pretty thrilled to see my hair shining from root to tip!

I've been using the Melado Oil weekly for about 2 months and it barely looks like I've used anything from the pot, so I reckon this will last for ages. As I've said I can't vouch for its hair growing abilities, but the amazing scent and the way it will make your hair look and feel means it's definitely worth a purchase.

Is it time to ditch your daily chemical filled conditioner and turn to a weekly organic treatment? In the case of Old Wives Tail Melado Hair Growth Oil, definitely!


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Cleaning and Caring for Fine Jewellery at Home




If there's one thing I know about, it's making dirty and unloved jewellery look its best. Finding the potential in a piece that's black, scuzzy and looks unlovable is something I love and do, and it's amazing just how beautiful (and pricey) some things turn out when they looked almost fit for the bin. Not many of us let our own jewellery get into the terrible state that I've seen some pieces in, but sometimes things sit unloved for a long time in a box or tray and it isn't until they're rediscovered that we realise how something can look less than it's best when it's been a little neglected. I thought I'd put a post together to give my tips on how to care for modern and vintage fine jewellery, and how to bring it back to life after a period of loneliness.

[While all of these things are easy to do at home without having to go out and buy anything, if your piece really is looking the pits (loose stones, covered in dents, the dog buried it in your garden etc) then it's worth taking it to a jeweller to have it professionally restored. Cleaning services are relatively cheap, repairs a little more expensive, but the equipment and experience of a jeweller can't be matched.]

I'll start off with silver as this tends to look much worse than gold when left alone to do it's own thang. All types of silver tarnish- sterling silver, silver plate, funky foreign silver, it all tarnishes. The only exception is rhodium plated silver, which will not tarnish for as long as the plating remains in tact, and which is what makes rhodium one of the most expensive metals in the world! 

(Actually in fact, some types of Tibetan silver will not tarnish either, this is because very often fashion charms made from Tibetan 'silver' actually only contain 1-2% real silver or less, and many have been found to hold harmful quantities of lead and arsenic. Super cheap Tibetan silver charms for chokers are very popular online at the moment, but please don't buy them- they cost just pennies to make and you really don't want poisonous metals next to your skin, especially not on your throat or chest!)

Tarnish is caused by oxidation which can be spead up by heat and environmental pollution, and can look like a black or brown layer on the silver piece. Luckily, tarnish is pretty easy to remove and all that's required is a bit of friction. Use a soft cloth like a yellow duster to rub over the piece and polish the tarnish away to give back the shine it once had. 
My biggest jewellery cleaning tip is to never wash your polishing cloth- it will become black, but the tarnish is amazing at removing more tarnish, and the blacker your cloth the quicker you'll be able to polish your jewellery and the shinier it will become! I've actually seen a jeweller cry when her cloths were accidently put in the washing machine, it takes months to build thick tarnish back up on the cloth. A word of advice though, wear rubber gloves when your cloth starts turning dark unless you enjoy scrubbing your nails! Your black cloth will also be great for polishing gold, but we'll get to that later.
If your piece has texture and tiny groves where a cloth cant reach, an old soft toothbrush and plain white non-whitening toothpaste will do a brilliant job at cleaning up these areas. Don't worry about being too rough with the silver as it's a tough metal and you're unlikely to mark even silver plating, but do be careful with pieces that have gems- in vintage pieces these can become loose with hard brushing, and opaque stones (turquoise, pearls, coral etc) and soft stones (opal, emerald) shouldn't be exposed to chemicals. 

Gold is generally easier to clean and polish as it does tarnish in the same way as silver, but it does loose its shine and can look more brown than gold. A quick rub over with a cloth will bring it back to life, and your black silver polishing cloth is great for this as the tiny particles of silver tarnish will create more friction than a plain cloth and lift off discolouration easily. Your trusty toothbrush will come in handy to lift any grime out of textured areas, the underneath of stones, and underneath ring clips.

As an aside, if your gold (or silver) jewellery has turned green with time, then either the plating has worn off or you've unfortunately been fooled as precious metals never turn green.

Storing your jewellery hung on hooks or laid flat in a jewellery box is your best choice for pieces you wear regularly as this will protect them from tangles or damage. But storing items you don't wear often in an airtight bag will keep them shiny and tarnish free as, if the metal doesn't have access to free oxygen, it can't tarnish as much.

I hope these tips helped for anyone wondering how to care for and keep their fine jewellery looking its best at home!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

My #BusinessPyjamas


While I'm not a professional blogger, I do work from home for over half the week, and I can bet other people in the same position will tell you that getting motivated to put on actual clothes in the morning can sometimes feel like a bit of a redundant task!

I've never been a morning person anyway, so if anyone actually does have the misfortune to see me before midday (usually the postman) I will probably still be in my pyjamas. And the tops and bottoms probably won't match. Who knows why both parts of the same pair are never clean at the same time, but I roll with it like some sort of deliberate bed-based fashion statement.

Post-midday, comfort is key for me as my real desk is where I store my make up so my desks come bed- and sofa-shaped, which means I need to be able to bend my legs (and that is barely possibly in so many of my skin tight jeggings or thigh skimming dresses). In this summer heat I tend to go for loose harem pants or thin patterned pyjama-style trousers and a strappy top, or if it's really hot as it has been over the past couple of weeks I'll throw on some little cotton shorts.
I bought a few casual summer dresses the other day which do the job of being both cheap enough to wear round the house without worrying but actually nice enough to wear out in the evening, and throwing one on keeps me cool in the heat but also makes me feel summery and a bit more 'done up' even when I still have bed head!

AXA want to see your Business Pyjamas for their current competition in which you could win an iPad mini- just snap a selfie of you at work in your most delightful pair and write a little blogpost about what you normally wear while working, then post your photo to the AXA Facebook page or tweet @AXABizTeam using the #BusinessPyjamas hashtag!


You can see my #BusinessPyjamas above, I nominate Sophie Rose Hearts to show us hers!







This is a sponsored post in association with AXA