Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Set the mood this Valentines day with House of Fraser's Home fragrance

Valentines day is getting near and it might be the time to start making plans for any celebration you're thinking of with your significant other. Or if you're single, of course, you might want to enjoy a night at home with some indulgent you time, and that requires planning too! You might have your heart set on a big night out but if, like me, nights in are more you bag there could  be little details that you've not thought of that'll help create the perfect mood for that romantic night in.

I have to admit that home fragrance isn't something I'd thought of, but now that I've had my living room filled with beautiful scents I am thinking that it, definitely is, something you want to think about if you are someone who loves to make every little detail perfect. Also, keep in mind, if you're a fan of candles and other home fragrance ideas, the products you buy are going to last more than one night so this might, just, be an excuse to buy something you'd like anyway!

House of Fraser have an extensive home fragrance range and their Linea collection is filled with delectable sounding fragrances which are all housed within beautiful packaging which will keep your home looking sleek and stylish as well as smelling divine.

I was, initially, offered some items from the Moroccan rose range but, sadly, rose scents give me headaches now which is such a shame as it used to be a scent I absolutely loved! I was, though, given a chance to pick a different fragrance and the moment I saw Wild Fig & Vanilla I just knew I needed to know how it smelled. If neither of those scents work for you, though, there's some other amazing sounding ones like Lemongrass & Ginger, Elderflower & Lime, Linen & Seagrass and even more - It's easy to believe that there's a scent for everyone in there.

If you get one of the Reed Diffusers you'll be able to set it up a few days before Valentines day and you'll already have a room full of scent. I was really impressed with this, I expected a soft scent that you didn't pick up unless you were near by but, actually, it fills the whole room. When the reeds are freshly soaked the scent is very strong but as it settles down it becomes softer yet it still fills the room; I can smell it now and when I walk in to the room it's even more noticeable. If the scent becomes too subtle I can turn the reeds back over, again, and get a fresh hint of the scent.

I'm really impressed, too, as the packaging says that, depending on the temperature in the room, this can last up to four months which is fantastic - A great gift for yourself as well as being able to say you're preparing for Valentines, hehe. The reed diffuser is normally £28 but is currently (on offer, on the 28th January 15) down to £14 so it's the right time to stock up!

The scent is hard to pinpoint but it's fruity and light as well as being sweet but also woody... it's such a mix of scents but it just works really well. Rose is an obvious choice for Valentines but the warmth with a hint of fruit and floral works really well and I think it could be equally as romantic. 

This large, beautiful, 3 wick candle has the same gorgeous scent as the reed diffuser - It's the perfect partner to the diffuser when setting up for Valentines because it adds a couple of different elements to the room, The scent from it isn't as strong, as you'd expect, but once you light it you get an extra boost of the smell along with the warmth which I'm sure you recognise from candles. I'm impressed with this as it's not overpowering but it does, still, fill the room and it's just such a soft, pleasant, way to enjoy the fragrance I've come to love. And, don't forget the second use, it looks beautiful when lit, which adds a really nice romantic feel to any room. 

The candle is meant to last for 90 hours so this, again, is a gift that keeps on giving as you'll be able to enjoy this for ages, not just for that one night. And the glass jar that it's housed in is huge and really good quality so it's doubtless that it'll be really useful after the wax has all burned away. This was £30, originally, but the same reductions as before hold and it's, currently, £15. 

If you're not set one getting one or two big items, or if you can't decide what scent you like there's a variety of different sets available which will give you a number of smaller items (sometimes all with the same scent and some with a few to try) and they work out as great value for money too.

If you're not staying home for Valentines, but you still really want to try these out then they'd also be a great gift idea to, not so subtly, suggest to your other half, and they're a bargain too so how could they refuse!

I'm loving this scent sticking around, I'll miss it when it's gone, I may need to buy one of the oil re-fills for the diffuser as the room will feel wrong without it!

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I was sent these products for my consideration for review purposes - All opinions are honest and are my own. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Demeter Fragrances finally come to the UK as 'The Library of Fragrance'

It's not really big news, now, they've been here for a while but I'm still really excited that we have 'The Library of Fragrance' here in the UK, now. I was told about Demeter Fragrance Library a couple of years ago but with them being from across the pond I never had a chance to get hold of any - So when I discovered that they were going to get their own incarnation over here I was very very pleased.

Not only that but I was given the chance to pick one of the fragrances so that I could write about it for you! When I knew they were coming here, that was exciting enough, but to be writing about them for you is even better. That said, the challenge was set, how on earth was I to pick just one?!

The fragrances offered aren't going to be the same as those you're used to finding, they're weird and wonderful, exciting and unusual. You can get some which are more normal like 'Almond', 'Cherry Blossom', 'Musk #7' and 'Jasmine' among many others as well as more unusual ones like 'Pineapple', 'Vanilla Cake Batter' and 'Passion fruit' to the all out weird like 'Pizza', 'Play-Doh', 'Whiskey Tabacco' and 'Sushi'! And, believe me, that's just some of each category.

I have to say I find the foody ones the most appealing, I really want to try 'Vanilla Cake Batter', 'Sticky Toffee Pudding', 'Apple Pie', 'Caramel', 'Chocolate Chip Cookie' and 'Lemon Meringue'. As well as those I really want to just smell, once, ones like 'Paper Back', 'Pizza' and 'Salt Air' just to know what they translate like, haha.

The scent that I chose is Honey as I am mad about anything honey scented and flavoured, it's just one of my absolute favourites. Though when I look at my wishlist I do wonder if I made the right choice as there's so many more daring ones I could've tried... that said... oh I do love it.

When I first sprayed this I felt as though it was a little Too sweet and I wasn't sure if it was quite Honey enough for my liking but it took only a few moments for it to dry and, as it did, it transformed. As you wear this scent it really is like smelling honey all day long, it's amazingly accurate. Having obsessed over Demeter Fragrances for so long, as I'd hear how realistic they were, I am very pleased to know that my hopes were right. I've been told that Honey pairs, really well, with Black Pepper and I can imagine that the sweet and the warm would go beautifully, but I'm happy to just smell like honey all day!

At £15 each these cost less than your normal, commercial fragrances, but they're also not cheap enough that I can go out and buy my whole wishlist in one fell swoop, haha. I think they're really reasonable, though, and I plan on adding one or two, at least, to my collection - I shall be a walking bakery if my wishlist is anything to go by!

You can pick these up from 'The Library of Fragrance' site and there's also 31 of the fragrances available from Boots, though most of the ones I want I'd have to get direct from LoF,  

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*I was sent this product for my consideration for review purposes but all opinions are honest and are my own*

Monday, 19 January 2015

'The French for Christmas' by Fiona Valpy - A Book club review

Before I start, yes, this book is about Christmas - I did get sent the e-copy of the book, from the lovely Bahlsen book club, before Christmas and I think I finished it a couple of days before that big and crazy day but... well you may have noticed my, almost two years, of posting daily (or as close to) has stopped. I've been taking a break, re-evaluating and trying to work out how to approach the year that's ahead of us (more regular posting will return).

Shouldn't I have been pushing to, at least, get this post up closer to Christmas? I thought that, at first, but once I finished reading it I realised that I didn't need to, at all, this book has the word Christmas in the title, it has Christmas as a main theme but it, most definitely, doesn't have to only be read at Christmas time.

The story is about Evie, a lady who's been through a year that would break even the strongest among us. She's been through loss that most of us hope we never even need to consider, and then she's betrayed by the person she needs the most. As such, when her best friend offers her the chance to go to stay in their little cottage in France, over Christmas, Evie plunges head first in to the opportunity to escape her life and to have time alone, away from the need to celebrate when she really doesn't feel like celebrating.

Rather than spending a lot of time dwelling on the sadness, Valpy dips in an out of it when necessary - It's never devalued, it's always given the time its needed but it's not given the lime light which is something that many authors do. The sadness in this character's life is an undeniable truth, but it's her desire for recovery, her hope and her true nature that shines through. 

As you'd expect there are secondary characters in the book, as much as Evie goes away to have time for herself, she struggle to re-discover herself without the help of others. And, at the cottage, she's lucky to discover a tiny community of a few, kind people who live simple lives and who she can spend time getting to know, away from her life - I loved these secondary characters as we were able to get to know them as the story went on, but without suddenly having their whole back story, straight away, as you often do in other books.

Throughout the story we get to see Evie re-discover herself, re-discover her motivation and develop friendships in the purest sense. The book is beautiful, despite the sadness. Christmas is a big topic because that's the time of the year when it's set, but it's not a Christmas book. It's a book about loss, hope, love and about sadness, community and re-discovery. This book would be enjoyable at Easter, in the Summer or in the height of winter, don't be put off by the title, if it's the wrong time of year, if you want to read a simple, beautiful book then I recommend giving this one a go.

You can pick the book up from Amazon for £1.59 on kindle or £7.99 in paperback format.

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*I was sent this e-book for my consideration for review purposes - All opinions are honest and are my own*

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Introducing a whole, new, range of makeup brushes from Makeup Revolution!

I think it's safe to say that a lot of us have been waiting for makeup brushes from Makeup Revolution - Their cosmetics are amazingly well made so it seemed like a sensible jump to assume their their brushes would be, too. When I saw that there was brushes in some of their Superdrug exclusive Christmas sets I allowed myself to hope that they might be coming to the standard line soon.

And look what I've been lucky enough to be sent today! 

Absolute brush heaven! With the signature rose gold accents to the packaging these look just beautiful. The plastic sleeves are great quality and would be fab for storage or for travel and some of the biggest brushes even have brush protectors which are a great idea to keep your brushes in a good shape. 

There's two different parts to the brush range which are the face brushes and the eye brushes which have a corresponding code; face brushes start with f and eye start with an e (I know I'm stating the obvious a bit here). There's 9 brushes, in total, 5 for the face and 4 for the eyes. The price point of these is amazing, even more affordable than I expected, they start at £1.50 and the most expensive is £3.75, wow.

All of the brushes are made with synthetic fibres so no worries about harm coming to lovely animals with these!

The first brush is the 'F101 - The Pro Foundation brush' (£3). This flar brush, with an oval end, is supposed to be ideal for cream or liquid foundations. I didn't used to use this type of foundation brush because I preferred a buffing brush but, more recently (when my buffing brushes have been dirty) I've turned to this type of brush and it turns out I quite like them. The bristles are quite long on this one so it's not overly firm, I think I'll be using this to try out my bases soon - And oh the softness, it feels so so soft and lovely.

This little brush is the 'F102 - Pro Concealer brush' (£1.95). If you look in the background of this one you can see the previous brush so you can get a good idea of scale. Again the bristles on this are lovely and soft and with a length that'll allow plenty of blending as it's got lots of motion. This is a good size as it's big enough to use for blemishes but the rounded end would be great for getting in to the smaller under eye areas.

Next we have the 'F103 - Pro Stippling brush' (£3). I tend to lean towards shorter bristled stippling brushes, for firmness, as I use them for cream blush but, as they're supposed to be for applying base products, I think I'll give this softer, longer bristled one a go at doing the job that it's intended for. I look forward to giving this a go as it feels just lovely and I think it'd glide over the skin.

The 'F104 - Pro Power Brush' (£3.75) is next in the line and just look at the beautiful, domed shape of this one. It's a big, soft brush which I think will be a dream for applying setting powder or powder foundations. I also think this could be interesting to try for blush as it'd blend nicely due to the softness. 

The last of the face brushes is the 'F105 - Pro Contour brush' (£3). These angled face brushes are made to be a good fit for the cheek bones to allow to contour with bronzer products or to sweep blush across the cheeks. I think I'll be reaching for this for bronzer as it's nice and narrow across the top.

And now for the eye brushes. We have the 'E101 - Pro Eyeshadow brush' (£1.95) first. The eye brushes are all just as soft as the face brushes but, understandably, have shorter bristles and, so, are a little firmer. This brush is nice and small, so, it'll be great for applying eyeshadow in smaller areas for detail or, then, using over the whole lid by building up the colour. 

The 'E102 - Pro Eyeshadow Contour brush' is next in the range - This soft little brush seems like it'll be nice and versatile - It, of course, lends itself to contouring the eye area but it'd also be great for applying to the whole eye or just smaller sections with the pointed end. 

All eye collections need a blending brush and here is the 'E103 - Pro Eyeshadow Blending brush' (£1.95). As you can see it's longer, so has a little more softness to it, and it's got a lovely domed end. It's not the fluffiest blending brush but I think that the additional firmness will make it fantastic for blending in the crease or blending out at the edges. I love blending brushes so am looking forward to this. 

Lastly we have the 'E104 - Pro Eyebrow brush' (£1.50) - This is really small, firm and has a nice sharp taper. It's pretty self explanatory but it seems like it'd work nicely as it's slim enough for smaller detail but could be built up for a bolder look.

All of the brushes have strong, well made feeling handles and the bristles feel safe, and firm, in their housing. The quality feel of them is so, so impressive considering the price. I'm really looking forward to trying them, they're all so soft and I think they'll feel delightful to use; I can't wait to see what sort of finish they all produce.

Before I go, there's something else you need to remember when you use makeup brushes and that's brush hygiene. I don't think any of us enjoy washing our brushes but it's an, unfortunate, necessity and one thing that can make it easier is some good brush washing products.

As well as the new brushes, Makeup Revolution has these two products for cleaning your tools (sorry about the blur... I was loosing the light and so I hurried too much, sorry for the substandard picture-ness!)

Anyway... more importantly! This is the 'Anti Bacterial Brush Shampoo' and the 'Anti Bacterial Brush Cleaner' - These products are really filling a gap in the market as there's not many, affordable options for either of these; for the most part it's higher end brands that make this sort of product (And those affordable options, that I know of, tend to be smaller bottles).

Both of these cost £5, which is really reasonable, and they both hold 200ml of product. I'll try out the shampoo soon as I need to do a big brush wash and I need to get back in to the habit of using a spray before uses so this is absolutely perfect for me, right now.

I shall try to report back, soon, to all of you about both the brushes and the cleaning products (with a clearer photo next time, too!), I look forward to giving them all a go!

Which of these brushes are you most interested by? Which one are you itching to try?

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I was sent these products for my consideration for review purposes - all opinions are honest and are my own. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

My Winter Skincare routine for 14/15

This post has been waiting to be written for a little while, now, I was sent some of these items and wanted to make sure I used them enough, and incorporated them in to my routine for long enough, that I could give you honest feed back about them. By the time I'd used them long enough Christmas had hit me and... well you saw how crazy the blog was over Christmas!

I'm actually a bit pleased that it's been delayed, though, because the really, really cold months have hit, now, and this is when we need great skincare even more than ever! Well, my skin sure does anyway.

I've got a number of brands and a number of different types of product to share with you from cleansing, to moisturising and from lips to hands - It's all covered. So... let's get going.

Time for all things cleansing, first. It's the first thing I do in my routine so it makes sense for it to be the first things to look at in the post. On the far left we have the item that I use once or twice a week and it's an absolute staple item for me, Soap & Glory's 'Scrub Your Nose In It' (£9.00) - Is it an exfoliator? Is it a mask? Well, actually, it's both! I, very gently, rub this in to my skin in the morning and then I leave it on for about 5 minutes as a mask, too. The grains in it have a good level of exfoliation to them, which is why I only apply it gently, and the formula, itself, has a fresh, cooling feel to it - After I've used this my face is often a bit red but after it calms down it's smooth and my skin is soft and a whole lot less flaky and dry.

Soap & Glory make the second item on my list, too, and that's 'Peaches and Clean' (£8.00) - This is something else that I've been using for a while but I don't use it constantly. When I do use it I use it as an evening cleanser. It's rather potent so if you have super sensitive skin it might not be for you; it uses fruit enzymes as a chemical exfoliant and it does it very well. Once my skin has built up a bit of  an immunity to this I'll leave it on for a bit longer, but I have to try not to remember to leave it on too long or red and splotch becomes my new look. This is very effective, though, but I wouldn't use it on my eyes.

As my normal, morning, cleanser I've been using the Good Things 'Manuka Honey Creamy Cleanser' (£4.99). I love this brand, I love Manuka honey and I love cream and balm formula cleansers so this was a must have item for me. It's gentle and has a soft, sweet scent to it and it's a lovely way to cleanse and wake up the skin in the morning, it leaves my face feeling soft and supple, just as you'd hope from a creamy face wash.

Yes, these sections are all rather long, sorry! The last item on the list of cleansing type things is Soap & Glory, again! I bought their 'Drama Clean' (£6.00) micellar water as a special treat when my normal L'Oreal one ran out. This one has a soft cucumber scent to it and is really, really refreshing on the skin. I use this to take my makeup off in the evenings.

Moisture comes next on my routine, and even more so in the winter. I'm someone whose skin really does struggle with the colder months and when I get lax with my skin care, which does happen, you can see it dry up so much. This particular trio, though, has been amazing on those times and has been a real injection of moisture just when I need it the most.

First up we have the Jurlique 'Nutri-Define - Super Retexturising Facial Serum'* (£86) - I've been using this in the morning's before moisturising and my skin has been rather enjoying it. This is supposed to refresh, rejuvenate and revitalise ageing skin and I can see where these claims are coming from - When I've been using this I definitely feel like my skin is brighter and firmer, it just feels better over-all. The serum itself is an off-white colour and you only need to use a small amount. It does have quite a strong smell to it, it's very natural smelling but has a slight bitterness to it, I am put off by smells sometimes but this doesn't put me off, it wears off in no time at all and I am willing to take it for the results of the serum!

Next comes the Amie 'Morning Light - Hydrating Daily Moisturiser'* (£4.99) - I'm a big fan of the Amie brand and have tried a number of their products in the past; when this was sent to me I thought it was one of them but it turns out that it isn't! I use this after my serum and I just love it. It's a very light moisturiser, so it doesn't feel heavy on the skin, but it really does give a lot of moisture and a little goes a long way. It has a light, gentle scent and I think this could be perfect for all seasons as it's light enough for summer but moisturising enough for winter.

Lastly we have the Balance Me 'Wonder Eye Cream' (fs is £20) - I used this as I have a few tubes of it that I've accumulated from various sample boxes over the last year or so. I apply a little of this to the under eye area after I've used my moisturiser and I pat it in gently. It's a really nice eye cream and I definitely think my under eye area has improved since I've used it - I find eye creams to be a difficult product to judge because they're not going to magically fill all of my lines, and improvements can be subtle but improvements are improvements none the less!

I've popped the last few bits in a post together - A mask, my go-to spot treatment and some other bits and bobs which are essentials, for me, in the cold weather.

First up we have the Gatineau 'Melatogenine Futur Plus Anti-wrinkle Radiance Mask' (£60.67 in a collection with a lot of other interesting products) - This mask can be used in the standard way by being applied, left on for 10 minutes and then removed, or it can be used as an over night mask. Because the formula is night and light and isn't too harsh on the skin I have, mostly, used it over night. I've not, really, used over night masks before so this was a bit of a revelation, to me, and I love how amazing my skin feels the next morning. I use this once a week, or so, and I sometimes use another mask, from time to time, as I like to mix things up. 

It won't surprise you to see my old favourite the MOA 'The Green Balm' (£9.99) in there - There's not a lot to say, really, this is my miracle balm. If I get a really, really dry patch of skin I use it on there, I use it if I have broken skin that needs healing and I use it around my nose if my skin is sore when I get a cold. I never want to be without this stuff. 

Next I have a bit of a cult favourite which is the Nuxe 'Reve de Miel' (£9.50) lip balm. This is a bedtime favourite, for me, I like to apply it last thing at night and it helps to really moisturise my lips. By the time morning has come my lips feel amazing. I, also, absolutely Love the smell, it's divine. 

The Manuka Doctor 'Api Clear Blemish Cream' (£4.66) is, still, my absolute go-to when it comes to blemishes. Rather than drying the skin out, like a lot of products do, it keeps it soft but also helps control anything nasty that's lurking about. I love this stuff, it's another 'never want to be without' product for me. 

The last item might not seem like it fits with all of these facial skincare items but I often apply my hand cream after I've done my facial skincare, which is why it's here. I have a lot of hand cream loves but I've been using the Balance Me 'Super Moisturising Hand Cream' (£14.50 for 100ml) a lot since I had it sent to me. The cream has a strong, natural/herbal scent to it which I love and the formula is really really thick. You'd expect such a thick formula to be greasy and not soak in properly but a little goes a long way with this (the 50ml tube I have has lasted wonderfully) and it sinks in  better than most hand creams I've ever tried. A good hand cream is an absolute necessity in the winter months.

So that's what I've been using this winter - My combination, blemish prone skin which has fits of super dryness has responded really well to this selection of products. Before we blink it'll be spring/summer again, though, and we'll be changing it all up all over again!

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*The starred products were sent to me for consideration for review purposes - Everything written is with complete honesty*