Monday 25 February 2013

Monday Manicure #4: My Nail Care Routine

Hallelujah, BBB is back!! I absolutely HATE it when i haven't blogged for a whole week and i don't want this to be a blog where you only get one post per week. However, my life has been so crazy over the past fortnight i haven't even had time to scratch, let alone pick up my laptop. London Fashion Week (more on that later in the week), University and my parents first ever trip to visit me in London have kept me well and truly occupied. So tonight i wanna talk about nails. Not my usual Monday Manicure-type post but i got to thinking last week that i've posted my skincare and haircare routines recently, so why not my nail care picks as well?? 

As with skincare, i am no expert whatsoever with nail care and am just doing what has been working for me. My nails have recently improved dramatically and this has really encouraged me to step up my nail care and invest in good quality products as well as some budget drugstore staples. I am still learning and discovering new products all the time so the routine you see today may well evolve, but the products i'm featuring today have been serving me very well.

Hands and Cuticles: 
You've seen these products, briefly, before on this blog as i featured them at Christmas. They are part of the Nip+Fab Dry Hand Fix Kit* (and also come with a pair of rather fetching gloves for when you want to truly pamper your hands overnight). Regular readers will know that i really rate Nip+Fab products and that they are very much part of my every day life.The hand cream smells like pudding and i carry it around in my handbag all the time as it's a handy size. It's not an intensive treatment by any means but it is infused with Olive Oil and keeps my hands lovely and soft, which also keeps my nails happy. Those with very dry or chapped hands would probably need something richer but, for day to day use on normal skin, i really rate this cream. 

I'll level with you now.... I don't really know squat about what i'm supposed to do with my cuticles. I did initially question whether or not i even HAD any! Of course, i DO, but what i have is barely there and i don't feel the need to push or cut them and they don't obstruct my nails in any way. I know some have very dry cuticles but mine just seem very average so i just give them a blob of the Nip+Fab cuticle cream which i rub into the cuticle and over the nail to keep it soft and healthy. I actually bought the Sally Hansen Cuticle Pen the other day as well but have not used it yet. I'll report back, of course.

Clipping and Filing:
I don't clip my nails often. I used to when i went through a phase of wanting them mega square but, more recently, i've been a bit obsessed with filing them into a more pointed shape. Don't get me wrong, i don't want those scary TALONS i keep seeing all over Instagram, but i am definitely favouring a more tapered shape just lately. I'll be honest and admit that i actually use these to clip the FERRETS' nails more than i do my own (they get washed thoroughly in between, before anyone thinks i'm gross haha). The ones i'm using are Superdrug own brand and are actually meant for toenails, but i found them more robust and less fiddly to use and they work perfectly well for both human and ferret. 

As i travel a lot, i've been buying these cute mini polkadot emery boards from Boots rather than using anything too posh. These were only a couple of pounds for a pack of 3 and i have them dotted around my room and one is permanently in my travel bag so that i'm never far from one if i need it. I think that i will eventually treat myself to one of those beautiful glass/crystal nail files i keep seeing on QVC but i will always use these as they are so handy and so easily replaced if they get lost or worn out. 

Treatment/Base Coat: 
Most reading this will probably be well aware of the existence of OPI Nail Envy. It's been on my shopping list for what seems like forever but i only actually got around to buying it myself in January. I'd like to make it known that i ADORE it and that i will never be without it again. I purchased mine from eBay (Link), where there are some great deals to be had. The one i have is the Original, but they also have other formulas, including a Matte formula which intrigues me.
Before i started using this, although my nails were already improving a great deal, the surface of my nails was still flaking and they would occasionally split, painfully, very far down. I've been using two coats of Nail Envy as a base for my nail polish for just over a month now and you can actually SEE the difference as the nail has grown. The flaky part has almost grown out now. I also find that Nail Envy reduces the staining i get from nail polish and that my nails feel almost indestructible. I scour glass shelves in a pub every Thursday but you wouldn't be able to tell from my nails. This product is worth every penny and then some!

Top Coat:
I'm including this as a nail care product, even though it is a topcoat, because of how well it protects my polish and makes my manicures last for ages. As with Nail Envy, this is a product i'd heard a lot about over a long period of time but only got round to trying for myself just before Christmas 2012. It is the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat*. This product has completely revolutionised the way i do my nails. I love the glossy finish that it gives and how it dries my nails in a flash! Now i can do my nails every week on the train up to Derbyshire from London for uni and be confident that my nails will be dry and smudge-proof by the time i reach my destination. Usually, this mani will also last until the NEXT Sunday too (unless i get the urge to repaint them midweek). I've heard grumbles here and there that this product is very quick to go gloopy, but i haven't experienced this myself so far. I do, however, have a fresh bottle on standby just in case.
My Seche Vite came c/o QVC from their SS13 Press Event and is available as a great value multibuy on (Link). I'm also aware that Seche Vite is also available in selected Boots stores and from some department stores so it's worth keeping an eye out while you're shopping too. 

So i thought i'd end with a little snap of my (almost) naked nails just so you can see how i'm getting on. Not a fantastic photo by any means (poorly lit iPhone pic from last night while i was curled up in my onesie, doing my nails). All i have on in this pic is OPI Nail Envy and nothing else. There is still a bit of nail polish staining towards the tips but thats almost grown out now and my nails are much stronger thanks to stepping up my nail care habits! 

Have you tried any of these products?? What are your can't-live-without nail fixes?? Any tips or things I should be doing differently??

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Elemis Balance & Purify Cleansing Duo: Review

Good morning my lovelies!!
Thought i'd bring you some skincare loveliness today in the form of Elemis Balance & Purify Cleanser and Toner*. I mentioned these briefly in my Skincare routine post back in January (Here) when i had only been using them for a short while, but i wanted to wait until i'd given them a fair run before i made a full review of the products. Today, however, is their day to shine!! 

The Balance and Purify Cleansing Duo consists of their Balancing Lime Blosson Cleanser teamed with their Lavender Toner. Together they aim to balance any oily areas and even out the surface of the skin whilst soothing and protecting. I must say i was very excited when i was contacted about these products. As i said in my earlier post, i was gasping for an excuse to explore new skincare options and refine my cleansing routine but wasn't really sure where to start.

Elemis Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser (200ml)

The first thing that hit me about this cleanser is the fragrance. I absolutely bloody ADORE it! It's a very fresh scent which manages to be comforting at the same time and i think i must have spent at least 5mins sniffing it before it even got on my face. Anyhoo, we're not reviewing perfume today so i'll get on with it....
This cleanser contains a patented Tri-Enzyme formula which helps protect against any environmental damage whilst soothing, smoothing and balancing weary skin. It also has resurfacing properties but without being in any way abrasive to the skin. Its texture is on the thicker side of milky and applies effortlessly to the face and neck (i find i only need a couple of pumps to get a sufficient amount). After massaging the product into the face and neck with my fingers i usually dampen a face cloth with warm water and wipe off any excess then pat dry before following with....

Balancing Lavender Toner (200ml)

Personally i really love the scent of Lavender and this product has that in abundance but, realistically, the fragrance of this toner won't be for everyone. It is VERY grown up and may possibly be a little on the strong side for some. It doesn't linger on the skin after using the product though. The High Alpine Lavender in this product aims to maintain the skin's natural Ph balance, while effectively clarifying. In short it's GREAT for combination skins like mine and is also recommended for oilier or teenage skins. Despite it's strong scent, the product is in no way harsh and leaves my skin feeling fresh without a hint of oiliness around the t-zone.
I find 2 or 3 short squirts of this to be enough, which i then rub in a little with my fingers just to make sure it's got everywhere. It feels extremely fresh and great for use in the morning to wake me up (which is no easy task, let me tell you, so i need all the help i can get). 

My Verdict???
I'm no expert on skincare by any means. I'm not exactly sure how healthy skin is SUPPOSED to feel but i can tell you when my skin feels 'happy' as such and it seems to approve of these products. Even before i finish with my moisturiser it leaves my skin feeling so smooth and even without any tightness. This makes for a great canvas for my makeup. I prefer the cleanser to the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, which i was never sure if it was working properly or not, but this one leaves me with no doubt that my skin is clean and healthy. I actually look forward to using the products and (touch wood) i'm keeping up the routine quite religiously. I'm currently doing research on a moisturiser to complete the set so if you have any Elemis recommendations i'm all ears!

The duo retails for £21 (the toner is actually FREE so you only pay for the cleanser), which i find to be amazing value for money as each bottle is a whopping 200ml and you don't need a lot. I've been using them for almost 6wks and am only just over a quarter of the way through the cleanser. 

You can buy this, and other great value duo packs from Elemis at 

Time To Spa (Link)
Debenhams (Link)
Feel Unique (Link)
And other online stockists as well as in Elemis department store concessions and Spa retailers.

Do you rate Elemis products?? Which can't you live without?? Alternatively, what are YOUR skincare hero products??

Monday 18 February 2013

January Giveaway WINNER!!

I am a very sorry girlie tonight....
I am ONLY just getting round to announcing my January Giveaway winner! For some reason i've had a very hectic February BUT it has actually worked to your advantage as there are even MORE prizes that have been added to the final booty, so i hope you forgive me...

Here's a reminder of the booty on offer....

For the full list of the goodies above see the original Giveaway post HERE

And i have also added the following prizes...

Laura Gellar Merged Eyeshadow Duo
Decleor Aromacleanse Miniature Cleanser and Toner
Leighton Denny Lip Dual in 'Deal With It'
MyFace Cosmetics Italian Ice Eyeshadow Duo

I did the usual as regards selecting a winner. I numbered all the entries (adding an extra for all those of you who tweeted the Giveaway also) and fed them into Random.Org to select a true random number. No cheating or favouritism on this blog!!

And the Winner IS......

Jess from Raffles Bizarre!!!

Congratulations my dear!! I will email you with all the details of your prizes and for shipping details in due course. In the event of the winner not responding to email i will, of course, re-draw and another winner will be chosen. 

Thank you to EVERYONE for entering and i hope to have more Giveaways coming up in the near future!!


Monday 11 February 2013

Monday Manicure #3

Good evening my lovelies!!
This was almost a Tuesday Manicure! A little late on in the day for me to be blogging but i really wanted to do something with a Valentines theme again this year (last year it was girly, pink lipgloss) and this year i wanted to incorperate it as a theme for this week's Monday Manicure!! I'll be honest and admit that i consider the whole concept of Valentines Day to be a load of marketing BULLHONKEY, but i'm never one to resist a themed post and i've been enjoying dreaming up themes for my Monday Manis and couldn't let this one pass me by!! Plus it's an excuse to get all pink, girly and romantic (even though, instead of the man of my dreams, i'll be curling up with two ferrets this Valentines.... Face look bothered though???)

So here are the polishes....

Look Beauty Nail Pops in Bling and Petticoat

(The OCD in me is SCREAMING out about the smear on the cap in this photo, but it wouldn't shift)

I picked these polishes up as part of my cheeky little Look Beauty haul in January (see the full extent of the booty i snagged in my haul post HERE) and this is the debut outing for both of them. I did buy them with the intention of using them together somehow and they seemed very appropriate to the theme this week so i decided to go for it! I got the idea into my head that i wanted to try a kind of glitter gradient effect but, please keep in mind, that i was on a moving train when i did these and didn't have all the tools one would usually associate with doing a gradient effect. However, being a Virgo, i improvised...

(In artificial light)

This manicure consists of.....
2 layers of OPI Nail Envy
2 coats of Petticoat
A single coat of Bling
Finished with lashings of Seche Vite

For the (supposed) gradient glitter effect, in the absence of any type of sponge, i started by making sure that i'd wiped almost ALL of the polish off the brush to the point that it was almost a dry brush and started brushing from the middle of each nail, out towards the tip, adding more wherever i thought it needed it. I did also dab some extra glitter onto the very tips of the nails to ensure that the ends were more opaque and emphasise the fade between polishes. It's definitely not as effective as ombre/gradient nails done the proper way, but for a fast fix option i don't think it looks too bad at all!! I'm by no means an expert at nail art and do NOT have a steady hand when it comes to fiddly stuff, but i'm learning to experiment and am getting more creative lately!

(In natural light)

Petticoat is such a pretty pale, dusky pink nude. Reminds me of ballerina slippers, especially when teamed with the glitter! It isn't wishy washy like similar shades from other brands that i've tried and was lovely and opaque after two coats. 
Bling is reminiscent of it's ruby red cousin, Dorothy (see Monday Mani #1 HERE), only the glitters are ever so slightly bigger and are the most beautiful yet subtle pink colour. It gives a lovely sparkle without being too garish or over the top (i'm still coming around to glitter in things but my interest in glitter nails is mounting). As with Dorothy, if you're using this polish on its own, two coats is sufficient but you may want to use three depending on how much Bling you fancy. 

So that's about as much warm, fuzzy and romantic as you'll get out of me. I'll be going to bed on the 14th with a pack of choccy biccies, my electric blanket and my two fur-babies. 

Have you tried anything different with your nails recently?? What colours get you in the mood for romance?? Have you fallen head over heels for Look Beauty??

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Keeping Britain Shabby: Cath Kidston

Hello lovelies!!
Remember back in the day when IKEA, dramatically, ordered you all to "CHUCK OUT YOUR CHINTZ"?? To banish kitsch and floral in favour of minimalist and clean?? Swap your pastels for contrasting brights and hide your tea set away inside sleek, Swedish storage units?? I do. If you don't then here's the YouTube Link to the ad (circa 1996) for you all to have a giggle at. I take great pride in the knowledge that one woman has single-handedly laughed in their faces and, in recent years, has not only taken the world of home, decor and lifestyle by STORM, she has reclaimed British-ness for our bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms and all the personality and character that goes with it. I am, of course, talking about the interior design powerhouse, Cath Kidston...

I was recently set a challenge by Amara.Co.Uk to tell them, and my lovely readers, WHY i love Cath Kidston so much.... But i fell a bit flat trying to put it into words. HOWEVER, i realised i was answering the wrong question. Rather than writing a whole post along the lines of "I love Cath Kidston because her things are pink and pretty" (which is, of course, a part of it), i've decided to tell you a bit about what Cath Kidston MEANS to me and how it makes me feel. The woman has, basically, reinvented an entire way of living incorporating nostalgia, vintage crafts and stunning prints for all ages. She's personally sparked a national obsession with what has now become known as 'Shabby Chic'. 

Cath, herself, describes her style as being of the 'Marmite' variety. In her opinion people either go nuts for it and have to have EVERYTHING or are completely repelled by it. Personally, i haven't come across ANYONE, male or female, who has expressed any significant dislike for it. 

Whenever i spot a piece of Cath Kidston in a shop window or online i automatically smile. The style just seems to evoke a warm, safe, homely feeling in me. Kind of like how i used to feel as a little girl when i used to stay at my nana's and loved how warm and snuggly the Eiderdown she used to put on my bed was. I don't know if it's purely psychological (probably) but i always feel physically warmer under a ditsy floral print duvet than i do from anything clean, crisp and plain. 

Aside from the warming factor, i find the colour palette Cath Kidston uses to be very calming and easy on the eye. It's easy to just sit back, surrounded by all that pastel loveliness, and just breathe out! With all these lovely feelings it's not surprising that i am currently trying to introduce the style into every area of my life. My travel makeup bag is Kidston (see previous post), my Oyster card wallet is Kidston, all my laptop and iPad wallpapers are Kidston.... you get where i'm going with this. It ain't easy though cos this lady isn't cheap (and rightly so) and my student budget is lowly at the best of times. 

Here are just a handful of the items on my 'Cath Kidston Lust List'...

Pink/Spot Duvet set in Provence Rose - (link)
Washed Roses Day Bag - (link)
White Printed Bathrobe - (link)
Trailing Floral Twin-Lid Sewing Basket - (link)
Crochet 'Knit in a Book' Tin - (link)

So, all in all, i reckon Cath Kidston has done a bang up job of taking the retro and outdated and reinventing it into something stylish, current and hugely popular within modern homes of all shapes and sizes. And as for IKEA?? Well i'm sure they're laughing all the way to the bank now, as they try and sell us back all the things they encouraged us to bin all those years ago. I hear that they too have jumped on the Shabby Chic bandwagon. The Swedish may have AMAZING meatballs, but they can't take away our British character!! So feel free to sit back and pop your homemade crochet teacosy on your floral teapot, relax and feel PROUD to be British!!

And I'll leave you with a, not so subtle, suggestion.....


Sunday 3 February 2013

Updated: What's in my Travel Makeup Bag??

Hello lovelies!!
Some of you know that i am currently making a weekly commute from London to Derbyshire for University, which involves me staying a couple of nights at my parents house per week. Obviously i don't take my entire makeup arsenal with me every time, but i decided earlier that i'd give you a little nosey into my travel makeup bag so you can see what my essentials are and also what products i use on my face for a normal, uneventful uni day. I quite like reading these types of posts so i thought maybe you would too. Once again i missed the last of the daylight for this post so have had to brighten the photos slightly. Fed up of these dark winter days. ROLL ON SUMMER ALREADY!! I'm fed up on relying on flash.

The Makeup Bag...

My current travel makeup bag of choice is this pretty Cath Kidston one that i got on eBay (Link). This particular design is currently out of stock but they have others and will probably restock. It comes with a matching circular mirror at a really great price. Well worth checking out. As you all know i ADORE anything Cath Kidston. The Liz Earle zippy bag is what i carry my brushes in as well as my foundation (as it doesn't fit in the makeup bag). 


New CID i-Prime*
Look Beauty Airbrush Base in Medium
I love this combo for day to day lately as it is no effort to apply and lasts really well. I haven't been using either of these products for very long so am still getting used to them but so far i'm very impressed with both. Watch out for a review of the LookBeauty foundation coming soon. 


MAC Mineralise Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus
Look Beauty Make Me Blush in Pinch
My MSF is a staple in my everyday makeup bag so i have to include it in my travel bag too. I find a quick dusting of it quickly sets my foundation, gets rid of any remaining shine and prepares my skin for whatever blush or bronzer i feel like putting on. This week my blush of choice is this one from LookBeauty but i tend to switch it up depending on my mood. Usually it is MAC Sunbasque or my NYX blush stick but i just fancied this one this week. The compact also has a really good size mirror so i find it handy for carrying around in my handbag for uni as well. 


BeneFit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Sippin'n'Dippin
Maybelline Gel Liner in Black
Clinique High Impact Mascara in Black
I really don't do anything fancy with my eyes for everyday wear so i tend to pack light. I don't always put colour on my lid to be honest but, when i do, its usually just a subtle wash of one of the Creaseless Creams applied with my finger followed by a sweep of gel eyeliner, which has become my favourite form of eyeliner in recent months. I use the Clinique Mascara (think this was a freebie in a magazine at some point) purely because it's a handy size for fitting in a small makeup bag, but i actually really like the mascara itself and will probably repurchase! 


Rimmel Apocalips in Luna
Pillsbury Reindeer Sugar Cookie Lip Balm
MAC Honeylove (Left)
MAC Shy Girl (Right)
My lip products actually tend to be IN my handbag and not in my makeup bag, purely because i always reach for the same ones on a day to day basis so they are always with me whether i'm travelling or not. Apocalips is a new addition obviously (see previous post) but Honeylove and Shy Girl are my staple lip colours and i would be lost without them. They just never let me down. I guess they're quite similar really. The Pillsbury lip balm was a present from my housemate for Christmas as a bit of fun but it's a really great lip balm! It's relieved my sore lips on several occasions in the recent bitter weather. 


(Left to Right)
Royal and Langnickel Eyeliner Brush
Elf Blush Brush
Real Techniques Foundation Brush
Real Techniques Stippling Brush
Real Techniques Powder Brush
Don't think i need to explain what each of these brushes are for, and i KNOW i don't need to preach to you all on how amazing Real Techniques brushes are because i'm sure you're all already converted to Sam Chapman's brilliance. I find the Elf blush brush really versatile for cheeks as you can use it flat or on its side or just the very tip so it's great for travel as a contour, blush and highlight brush in one! Not sure why i'm carrying both the foundation AND stippling brush at the moment but i tend to alternate between the two depending on what foundation i'm using and i'm still experimenting with this one so i guess that's the reason. 

Hope you enjoyed a quick peek into my travel makeup bag. I haven't done a makeup bag post in a while and it was interesting for me to consider why i use what i use.

What makeup do you pack when travelling?? What are your essentials?? 
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