Tuesday 25 February 2014

Superdry Pop Eyes Palette

Spring has almost sprung!! We've had some glorious sunshine over the last few says in South East London so I thought I'd bring out this little beauty of an eye palette by Superdry Beauty to get you all into the colourful, Spring-y frame of mind. I've been holding off on this one for obvious reasons... I haven't been able to bring myself to swatch it due to its prettiness and have been using it as an ornament for the last fortnight. Superdry definitely know how to package their cosmetics. 

Superdry Beauty Professional Pop Eyes Palette* - £15 superdry.com
This eye-catching polkadotty palette consists of 9 shades in a combination of shimmer and matte finishes. It is a great selection for Spring with eye catching brights, neutral greys and subtle yellow/gold tones. I haven't reviewed an eye palette in ages. In fact, I haven't worn much eyeshadow at all during the winter months so now is the perfect time to give me a kick up the backside and take me into next season. 

Top Row L-R 
Thistle, Navajo White, Asphalt, Shocking Pink, Product Orange.
Bottom Row L-R
Shallow Teal, Blue Smoke, Sunflower, Somber Grey.

These shadows have a lovely texture! Really buttery and soft, with the exception of Product Orange which I had a bit of a job to build up. The pigmentation is also generally very good. The polkadot detailing doesn't really alter the shades in any way and is gone with the first brush stroke (sad face) but the colours themselves really are beautiful. My initial favourites on first impressions are Thistle, Shallow Teal and Blue Smoke and I'm sure that Navajo White will bring a gorgeous highlight to any look created from these shades. I'm going to try using a pop of colour on my lower lash line whilst keeping the upper lid fairly neutral. I feel a Spring eye makeup post coming on in the near future!

I was pleasantly surprised by the price of this palette. I was expecting it to be more but I think £15 for these 9 shadows is entirely reasonable and I'd be happy to pay that for it. Superdry Beauty packaging is really quirky and different and their products would all make great gifts for anyone who loves 'pink and quirky'. I've been really impressed with all of the Superdry Beauty products I've tried recently (if you missed my previous Valentine's Day makeup post featuring Superdry click Here).

Do you rate Superdry Beauty?? Do you go mad for Spring Brights?? What looks would you create with this palette??

Saturday 22 February 2014

Skincare Saturday: My Top 3 Body Butters

Oh HAI! Sorry it's been a slow blog week this week compared to the last fortnight, folks. I've had a presentation to prepare for University so my time has been well and truly taken up until now. Now that it's all finished, however, I've been taking advantage of the sunshine. I thought I'd follow my trend from last week and do a Skincare Saturday post for you all featuring my Top 3 Body Butter products...

The Body Shop Passionfruit Body Butter (£13) -  thebodyshop.co.uk
Oh come on now, who doesn't love The Body Shop's body butters?? I'll be honest now and admit that their Passionfruit butter isn't currently available It is, however, my all time favourite of all the varieties they do and I was excited to spot it in their January Sale. It smells heavenly! I'm sure it will be back again as a special edition in the future though. In general though, I speak for all of the range of butters that they have, and they have so many to choose from. Their Hemp butter has been another favourite of mine. The formula is really rich and luxurious and leaves my skin so smooth and smelling AMAZING! Sadly for me, these butters contain beeswax (which is not a vegan friendly ingredient, I bought this tub while I was still somewhere in between vegetarian and vegan) so I will not be repurchasing them again unless I can find a variant without. I'll just have to savour this one while it lasts. I'm definitely not going to let it go to waste. 

Superdrug Cherry & Macadamia Body Butter (£1.98) - superdrug.com
I thought I'd add a little budget beauty into the mix for good measure. I picked this up as an emergency purchase over Christmas whilst away at my parents in Derbyshire and have since repurchased it. There are several varieties in the range but I picked this one because I love a fruity fragrance when it comes to body creams and BOY is this one fruity! Considering this butter costs up to a £11 less than either of the others in this post it really does hold its own. It's not quite as heavy as the other two which is great if you don't always need an intensive product. This has become my 'everyday' product. 

Nip+Fab Pistachio Sundae Body Butter 
Major grumble time now... Nip+Fab have DISCONTINUED this product!! You might recognise it from my Stars of 2013 Skincare edition post back in January but, upon investigation today, it appears that it is no more. Also discontinued is their Coconut Latte version. I'm still going to feature it as I really enjoy their body butters in general (as with The Body Shop) and it's the formula that counts over the scent at the end of the day. I find this butter to be really quick to absorb and not at all greasy on the skin. The range contains Aquaxyl which provides up to 24hrs moisturisation. They do a wonderful Mango Smoothie version and I'm hoping that this sad news will mean that there will be new varieties being released for 2014. I'll let you know if I make any discoveries!

As you can see, I haven't dared dig into my Passionfruit butter yet. That one will be reserved just for special occasions. I like to switch up scents when it comes to body products so I dip in and out of all the butters I have depending on my mood. I also have The Body Shop's new Chocomania body butter on the go from the sale which is also gorgeous. I'd recommend any of these brands for moisturisation, application and wonderful scents. Variety is the spice of life after all! 

What are your favourite body products?? Do you favour a particular brand?? Do you prefer fruity fragrances??

Monday 17 February 2014

Cruelty Free/Vegan Superdrug Beauty Haul

Thought I'd do this little post today as a follow on from yesterday's post on Cruelty Free and Vegan Beauty. I did a bit of browsing around Superdrug today and picked up a few animal-friendly bits. I was really impressed at how well labelled everything was and truly amazed at how little I spent. Everything in this post came to just over £5! I thought I'd share my buys with you and give you an example of cruelty free labelling in action so you know what to look out for. Superdrug actually state on the back of the products which ones are Vegetarian/Vegan as well as showing the Leaping Bunny logo so completely stress free and no need to read through every ingredient.

Superdrug Revitalising Raspberry & Macadamia Nut Shampoo/Conditioner 400ml - 2 for £3 (£1.99 each)
I've been in the market for a new shampoo and conditioner for a little while now. Not least because the products I was using before were L'Oreal, who I have now lost faith in somewhat with regard to animal testing. I like to think that I'm not a product snob but I'd never really considered Superdrug as a brand in their own right until recently. I've heard some great things about their stuff from Vegan beauty bloggers and on YouTube so I thought I'd give these a whirl. My hair has been feeling very dull and tangled lately so I'm hoping these will brighten it up a bit. 

Original Source Vanilla & Raspberry Shower Cream - £1.13 (Half Price)
I'd spotted this shower cream on the Original Source Facebook page and had to grab it when I spotted it today. This is a new variety in their shower range and smells sweet and comforting. It is a moisturising formula and I can't wait to try it out. I'm running low on my Creightons Argan Body shower cream (which I love but I'm not 100% sure how Vegan friendly it is) and a moisturising product is really important for me. I love how clearly labelled their products are and I definitely think this will become a go-to brand for me. 

Superdrug Cherry & Almond Shower Gel - 99p
I didn't really NEED two new shower gels today but, after smelling this one, I had to add it to my basket. It smells gorgeous! A really fruity fragrance with natural extracts. It contains added skin conditioners, is Ph balanced and soap free. Winning!! 

Here are a couple of examples of the logos I mentioned in my last post in action. Labelling like this really takes the hassle out of cruelty free shopping for me. I'm also going to give Superdrug body moisturisers a chance once I've used up all the yummy Body Shop butters I got in the January Sale. 

The other thing I picked up today, although not really beauty related as such, was the Superdrug Total Care Sensitive Whitening toothpaste. I've found it difficult to figure out which brands of toothpaste are cruelty free due to parent companies etc so to find this one clearly labelled AND vegan I knew I had to try it. The other brand of toothpaste I know to be Vegan is Beverly Hills Formula but at £4.99 it's a bit pricey, as toothpaste goes. This one was just 59p so I thought I'd give it a chance first. Superdrug also carry a range of Vegan/Cruelty Free mouthwashes. 

I'm definitely going to report back on how I get on with these products, particularly the haircare. I wanted to do this little haul just to show you how readily available cruelty free beauty can be. I know they're not the current must-have brand names but they seem to be very good quality and so well priced! Other cruelty free brands include Sainsbury's and the Co Op (own branded products), Amie Skincare, Liz Earle, Lush and The Body Shop. 

Is cruelty free beauty important to you?? Do you check ingredients before you buy?? Are you a Vegan beauty addict??

Sunday 16 February 2014

The Quest for Cruelty-Free Beauty

Since I switched to a Vegan diet it's been increasingly important to me to source beauty products and cosmetics that are cruelty-free wherever possible. Perhaps I was a little naive (some might even argue ignorant) in thinking that most companies in this day and age had scrapped animal testing, following EU legislation last year banning it as part of the development of cosmetics. By the end I became scared to death that, by loving certain brands/products, was I unwittingly promoting it?

When I started doing my research on brand policies regarding animal testing, however, I soon realised that I was going round and round in circles, hopping from list to list and getting a different answer every time. It's not as black and white as it seems. It's not as simple as 'you either test on animals or you don't'. I'm no expert. In fact, I've barely begun to get my head around how rubber the ethical ruler is. What I thought I'd do today is share a few fundamental, basic principles behind company policies on animal testing and things to take into account when considering more ethical product choices. These are just the main points I've picked up from the searching I've done so far and are, by no means, the whole story but I just thought I'd share...

The Basics

The Cruelty Free Family Tree
I personally LOVE The Body Shop. I love their products, their message and everything they originally set out to achieve. They have always spoken out (loudly) against animal testing and, yes, no Body Shop products are tested on animals to this day. Great, no?? Well, in more recent years The Body Shop was acquired by L'Oreal, a huge parent company with somewhat hazy policies regarding animal testing and no straight answers. Does this mean The Body Shop is guilty by association? Maybe, but massive corporations such as L'Oreal and P&G make judgements based on sales. If everybody opted to buy Body Shop products instead of L'Oreal's own branded products would that then encourage them to crack down further? Or does this automatically mean that we should boycott The Body Shop? It's personal choice when it comes down to it. 

Peer Pressure
As I mentioned before, animal testing for cosmetics purposes was outlawed in March 2013 by the EU. However, other continents have their own policies. A simple way to establish whether a company undertakes animal testing is to find out whether or not they sell their products in China. It is a legal requirement in China that any cosmetic/beauty products that go on sale must first be subject to animal testing. As a result of this you'll now find that a lot of company policies regarding animal testing will include the phrase "... except when required by law". 

State of Independence
I've found, during my search, that independent companies are more forthcoming, adamant and clear on their animal testing policies. I'm so happy to report that some of my favourite brands such as Nails Inc, Barry M, Original Source and Origins are against animal testing for ingredients as well as finished products. A lot of them will even state on product packaging that a product is Vegan/Cruelty free. In my experience so far, the trend seems to be the bigger the company, the sketchier the policy. 

'Cruelty Free' and 'Vegan' are not Exactly the Same
One point I'd just like to make is that even legitimate, organic, independent companies that abhor animal testing still sometimes use animal derived ingredients in their products which are unsuitable for Vegans and, in some cases, Vegetarians. Anything labelled as containing Collagen, Elastin, Beeswax, Honey, Casein (milk protein), Lanolin, Cetyl Alcohol (the last two are VERY common and you really don't wanna know where they come from), or Silk is NOT Vegan. To be honest, the list goes on and on and I'd need a whole blog post to tell you about all of them but those are the top culprits. The good news is that nowadays brands are slowly beginning to label their products as Vegan and Cruelty Free. Below are two common logos to watch out for... 

The Leaping Bunny
One fantastic organisation that has sprung up in recent years is The Leaping Bunny, as part of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC), as a cruelty free standard for consumer reference. They have produced a list, last updated in 2012, of approved Cosmetic, Personal Care and Household brands which are internationally recognised as being cruelty free. A product with the Leaping Bunny Logo (above right) has NOT undergone animal testing at any stage of its production or development. Below are a few well known UK cosmetics brands, and drugstore/supermarket own brands, included in the most recent list. To download the full list as a PDF see Here

I'm really sorry that I can't give you a definitive list of makeup/skincare that is cruelty free. To compile one would surely take months. I'm making a huge effort to discover new cruelty free brands and products and hope to be able to review loads on this blog for you in the future now that I'm a bit more switched on to it. I'm still doing my research. I'd like to stress that I am still a NEW Vegan and by no means an expert. Here are a couple of helpful lists I've come across that may help anyone looking to make similar changes and present information in more detail...

 PETA (also available as PDF)

Are you looking to make more ethical product choices?? Are you a new Vegan like myself?? Where can I find more information on these issues??


Saturday 15 February 2014

Skincare Saturday: Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins

I felt like talking skincare today and I've been saving this product review for just such an occasion. Towards the end of last year I made the decision to start treating my skin better in 2014, and that meant not to scrimp on products. I had yet to find a night cream that I was really happy with and had heard great things about Origins so I decided to skip off to Selfridges, splash out and pop my cherry! And I came home with this...

Origins High Potency Night-a-Mins - £34 for 50ml origins.co.uk 
I've found that this nasty wind and winter weather has been leaving even my combination skin feeling very dehydrated and, for me, night time is all about putting back in what the day has taken away. It's important for me not to use anything rich or heavy so the oil-free formula of Night-a-Mins, formulated for combination/dry skin sounded perfect. Also, as a new Vegan, I'm making a conscious effort to really investigate ingredients in any new purchases and avoid cruelty wherever possible. Origins ingredients are wonderfully natural and plant based and all their products tested on volunteer panels so I shopped with absolute confidence. 

I wanted a product that would really get to work on my skin during the night. Not only does this product rehydrate like a dream, it also helps to resurface the skin while you sleep. I cannot stress enough how effective it is at doing this! My skin when I wake up now feels so smooth with no hint of dryness. The application is great; the product sinks in straight away and hardly leaves any residue whatsoever with no trace of oil. My skin felt wonderfully matte. I didn't find I needed a lot of product to do a whole face either, which is a bonus for my pocket as the pricetag is a little on the high side for my student budget. I've been using it for over a month and still have loads left. One thing I really love about this product is the scent. It's almost herbal and so relaxing. Great to de-stress and prepare for sleep (for which I need all the help I can get). 

The ultimate proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating and I've had so many comments about how good my skin looks since I've been using this product. It's perfect to compliment my Effaclar Duo[+] (post Here) and, as a result, the surface of my skin feels soft, smooth and oil free in the morning, ready for makeup. I'll definitely be repurchasing Night-a-Mins. I don't mind spending that bit extra on a product that really does the job and this one gets a mighty thumbs up from me. My skin absolutely loves it. I've started 2014 on a skincare high! I'm desperate to also try their Drink-Up Mask and VitaZing during the year ahead (although it might have to wait for my next student loan installment - that's what it's for after all).

What are your ultimate skincare discoveries of 2014 so far?? Do you love Origins products?? What are your recommendations??


Wednesday 12 February 2014

NEW: Nails Inc Gel Effect Shades for SS14

What can I say other than I know.... I'm completely obsessed. Nails Inc are my not-so-guilty pleasure in life. And I'm not sorry at all, I tell you! As a brand, they're also some of the loveliest people ever and I've got some MORE brand new Spring/Summer releases to show you today in the form of their Gel Effect polishes in 5 on-trend seasonal shades. 

Nails Inc Gel Effect Polishes* (L-R)
Mayfair Lane - Dusky Pale Pink
Downtown - Gel Effect Pink
Kensington Passage - Gel Effect Coral
Soho Place - Gel Effect Aqua
Mercer Street - Gel Effect Blue

I recently reviewed Nails Inc's new 'In The Nude' Colour Collection for SS14 (Post Here) and admired it for the soft nudes and pastels. Well, these shades couldn't be more opposite, except for Mayfair Lane which is the most perfect, soft petal pink I've ever seen! These shades are bright, in your face and perfect for Summer. I love the packaging on the Gel polishes as well. A bit different from your regular Nails Inc bottle. These are some seriously posh polishes!

The Nails Inc Gel formula is seriously plump with no UV required. I used only a single coat for these swatches and just look how glossy they are! I'm still trying to figure out my favourites. At the moment it's between Mercer Street and Mayfair Lane but I just know my preferences will change as the weather heats up and I start pulling all my Summer brights out of my wardrobe. Any of these shades could also be used to jazz up a plain black or white outfit. 

All of these shades are available to order NOW from nailsinc.com and cost £14 for 8ml.

Are you a Nails Inc obsessive?? What shades have got you excited for Spring/Summer?? Do you love a Gel formula??

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Valentine's Day Makeup with Superdry Beauty

There seems to be a LOT of pink going on on this blog of late. Today's post is no exception. I've got my hands on some gorgeous Valentine's Day themed items by Superdry Beauty and, seen as though I haven't shown my face on the blog in a while, I thought I'd put together a Valentine's makeup look to share with you. I've had so much fun playing with all these amazing products. 

Products I used...
Superdry Beauty Powder Blush - Rapture Pink*
Superdry Beauty Professional Lip Paint - Electric Pink*
Superdry Beauty Professional Volumising Mascara - Jet Black*

I also received the cutest makeup bag I've ever seen in my life (Valentine's themed or otherwise) and a great size kabuki-style face brush. I'm such a fan of the Superdry Beauty packaging and the products are really rather good! Back in September I posted about my Bento Beauty Box by Superdry which was every bit as cute and quirky.

I wanted to create a really simple, soft look for Valentine's Day, but also one that is super wearable for the upcoming Spring season. The blush really is perfect for that as it gives a really subtle pink flush to the cheeks. I had to build it up a little on myself as I'm quite medium-skinned but this would be an ideal shade for fair skins. I love the colour.

Croyde Crew Neck Cable Knit* - £44.99 Superdry (Link)

All emphasis with this look was on the lips. Electric Pink really is the star of the show. As a result I kept my eye makeup almost non existent and opted for just the Superdry Volumising Mascara. It's definitely more of a daytime look but all you'd need would be a slick of eyeliner and a dusting of a neutral eyeshadow to take it into the evening. That pink lippy though.... The shade is gorgeous and extremely wearable. The formula is hydrating and really comfortable to wear.

And, finally, I can't not mention this beautiful cable knit. It's the jewel of my Spring wardrobe so far! Perfect for all this in-betweeny weather we've been having. I'm going to absolutely live in it. I've been wearing it with my acid wash Topshop Joni jeans today but can't wait to dress it up with a black skirt, opaques and Chelsea boots.

You can browse the full range of Superdry Beauty Products at superdry.com.
 They have a fantastic range including makeup, nail polish and a range of mirrors and nail tools to go with them. I'm definitely a fan. I have more Superdry Beauty to share with you in the run up to Spring.

Have you discovered Superdry Beauty yet?? What are your favourite products?? Does Valentine's Day make you think pink??

Monday 10 February 2014

Veganised It! Creamy Courgette Soup

I said I was going to start featuring the odd Vegan foodie post on this blog. Seasoned Vegans will probably scoff at this post but, since I'm such a newbie, I'm still learning ways to adapt recipes and replace ingredients to make them more 'earth-friendly'. I thought a little series on 'veganising' amazing, simple recipes might be a nice idea to inspire a few people to reduce the amount of animal products in their diet (it's better for your health too, you know) and possibly help other new Vegans with their transition by showing what can be made. I came across this lovely, simple recipe on Pinterest (the original dairy-laden recipe can be credited to Chef In You) and I always have courgettes lying around.

I had to half the ingredients as I'm a woman on my own (insert violin solo here) but I'll give you the full recipe  which serves 4. My reduced quantities made 2 large portions for me. 

  • 2 lbs ( abt 900 grams) White or Green Courgette
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano (I only had Schwartz Italian Herb Mix in the cupboard but it worked just as well)
  • 3 cups Vegetable Stock/Water
  • 1/2 cup Alpro Soya Single Cream (or as much or as little as you like depending on your taste)
  • Fresh Oregano to garnish (I just used black pepper)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • To Prepare (approx cook time 30mins)
  • - Trim and uniformly slice courgettes
  • - Melt 2tbsp Pure Dairy-Free Sunflower Spread in saucepan
  • - Add chopped onions and saute for several minutes before adding the dry Oregano
  • - Add all of the courgette and a pinch of salt
  • - Cook for approx 10mins until the courgette just starts to soften
  • - Add the stock to the pan and simmer gently with saucepan lid half on for 15mins
  • - Using a hand blender, process the soup to your desired consistency. 
  • - Add the Alpro Soya Cream to the pan and mix (you could also add more stock if the soup is too thick)

  • ENJOY!

  • This recipe really is no effort at all. I've loved it this week with toast and lashings of (dairy-free) spread. I've never been a huge fan of heavy cream soups but the Alpro Soya cream is so much lighter. It almost tasted a little 'cheesy'. I'll definitely be making it again as I've always got courgettes in my fridge. It's the kind of recipe I'd make all year round. Soups are brilliant in the Winter to warm you up but, somehow, they also work in the Summer when you're too hot and bothered to stomach a big meal. 

  • Eeeeeek, my first ever recipe post!! Hope you don't mind the occasional break from the beauty chatter, normal service will resume tomorrow. Okay, so it isn't my own original recipe, but I just wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to make a few little tweaks (using products that are readily available in supermarkets) and create a yummy, healthy Vegan alternative. Definitely check out the Chef In You blog though. They have some fab recipes for carnivores and plant eaters alike!

  • Are you a soup fanatic?? Would you consider the Vegan option?? Are you a new Vegan looking to eliminate the dreaded dairy from your recipes??


Saturday 8 February 2014

NEW: Avon Continuous Care Lipstick

As promised, some more Avon loveliness today. This time I've been playing around with their NEW Continuous Care lipsticks. I've been experimenting more with darker lipstick shades during the Winter months and was thrilled when I received these two shades to try. Continuous Care is a new range by Avon formulated with collagen, Vitamin E and added SPF to create the ultimate in hydrating lipsticks which continue to care for your lips even after you've taken it off!

Avon Continuous Care Lipsticks in Coffee Creme* and Smooth Plum* - £5
I love both of these shades. Coffee Creme is very similar to my beloved Rodial Glamstick in Thrill (a favourite from last year). Smooth Plum seems to be a dupe for MAC Rebel, but I'll have to get back to you on that as I haven't examined them closely yet. These lipsticks are seriously creamy and you can really feel the conditioning power right straight away from the application which is brilliant, considering the current weather conditions (urgh). Finish-wise the formula gives off a lovely, glossy shine and is very photogenic. It almost has a plumping effect. 

(apologies for the fuzzy lip swatches, my DSLR battery died and I had to take them on my iPhone)

The pigmentation of these colours is really great and they didn't take much building. The texture is soft and easy to apply. In terms of longevity, I was pleased that the colours seemed to linger on the lips, even after the sheen has started to wear. To be honest though, Smooth Plum is a shade that I'd want to touch up regularly anyway. Coffee Creme is a great shade for if you're thinking of dabbling more into darker lip colours. It's a 'safe' nude shade, but dark enough to be noticeable. Smooth Plum is pretty full on in the 'glam' stakes and is truly a gorgeous colour. Perfect statement shade for a night out or special occasion to attract a bit of attention. Continuous Care as a whole includes 10 shades and there's something for everyone. From soft, baby pinks to corals to reds to.... well... Smooth Plum. It's definitely the star of the show for me. Some great shade inspiration for Spring/Summer too!

I'd highly recommend taking a browse through Avon's online brochure. These lipsticks are currently available for a special price of £5 (will eventually be £8) so get in there quick if you want them. They're worth every penny!

Browse the full shade range at www.avon.uk.com


Thursday 6 February 2014

Really Easy Valentine's Day Nail Art

Check me out with another nail art post! I usually do a nail post to mark Valentine's Day, even though I couldn't actually give two hoots about it really. I'm just a sucker for a themed post so every time it comes round I try and think up something romantic I can do with my nails. This year I've taken my inspiration from Nara once again with a variation on one of her favourite designs from 2013 (and using a polish that she actually gave me - thanks Nara). This cute heart-tipped design is really different, can be done with all kinds of colours and is SERIOUSLY easy to do. It works best, in my opinion, on almond pointed nail shapes. 

The shades I used were...
OPI 'So Many Clowns, So Little Time*' as a base
OPI 'La Paz-itively Hot' for the tips

I love this look done on a nude base. It makes the tip colour really pop out. You could also do this with a black or a white base colour but I like the softer contrast of a nude. 'So Many Clowns' is a really sheer polish so really just adds a touch of creamy gloss to your natural nail colour. Nara used a red in her original post but I decided to go for this bright, slightly pearlescent pink by OPI just to be a bit different and because it's really not a colour I'd usually wear. 

I barely needed any special equipment to do this mani. I just did a single coat of the base shade (on top of my usual OPI Nail Envy basecoat) then painted the heart shapes on using the nail polish brush itself, going from the outside into the middle of the tip, before perfecting the shape with a thin nail art brush. You could probably get away with not doing the last step if you're a bit less shaky than me though haha. I decided to go over the tips twice to make sure the pink was truly opaque and smooth before finishing off with my Nails Inc Kensington Caviar Top Coat. 

I think this is a brilliant design for beginners or if you're short on time. It's really simple, yet really cute and 'romantic' (bleurgh). 

What colours will you be using on your nails this Valentine's Day?? What themed nail art designs did you come up with this year??


Soooo... I went Vegan

A little impromptu lifestyle news from me today folks! I'm a little bit nervous about posting this one, if I'm honest, so I'd be really grateful if you'd all refrain from calling me a nutter in the comments box after you've read it haha. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may be able to tell by now that I recently made the HUGE decision to switch to an entirely vegan diet. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all militant on you and get all preachy about how 'meat is murder' and all that malarkey (even though it kind of is... Sorry not sorry). I just wanted to do a little post to let you know my inspiration and reasons for choosing vegan and why it's been such a positive change for me going into 2014...

I've never been a huge consumer of meat or dairy in general. I was vegetarian for almost 9yrs as a teenager and, to this day, never really ate anything more than Quorn (which isn't vegan either) except for maybe once or twice a week. However, I recently came across a very inspiring film, whilst working on a University project, called The Ghosts in Our Machine which really made me stop and think properly. I'd been suspicious for a long time that meat and dairy farming methods weren't how I'd assumed they were. Again I'm not going to go into telling you all how cruel and barbaric things are, it's not for me to tell you that what you're eating is wrong after all and it is a choice every person must make for themselves and for their own reasons. I just think we're not as informed as we should be, as consumers, on how our choices affect other sentient beings, with whom we share our planet as well as our planet itself.

The fact is I'm really enjoying my vegan diet, regardless of my reasoning. I also feel more content in myself knowing that I'm making lifestyle choices based on principles of non violence and which are kinder to the environment. I'm enjoying finding alternatives to foods I used to enjoy and discovering new foods that I love that I never would have tried had I not become vegan. The photos above are just a couple of recipes I've been trying out this week. I made a dairy free super-creamy courgette soup and my breakfast this morning was a berry chia pudding that I'd soaked overnight in almond milk. I must admit that I am mourning the loss of eggs and Cadbury's Dairy Milk BUT, on the upside, I can eat all the Oreos I want! Really though, nomatter how good something tastes, is it really worth it? I know my conscience couldn't cope with it in the end. 

I've spoken to a few people via social media while I've been making the change to Vegan and a few people have said that they'd be interested themselves but don't know where to start. As well as The Ghosts in Our Machine, there is another brilliant US documentary called Vegucated (available on Netflix) which really helped me get my head around the types of things I can eat and gives the basics on why and how you should go Vegan. Even if you just swap one thing at a time. I found a trip to Holland & Barratt very inspirational as they have so many egg/dairy alternatives. I've also decided to start sharing a few vegan recipes on this blog every once in a while. I'm learning to 'veganise' a lot of the things I used to enjoy eating so that it doesn't feel like so much of a loss. I've already started pinning loads of recipes on my Pinterest account for veg-spiration. On the whole I feel amazing, positive and pleased that I can do my little bit towards saving the planet.

If anyone has any vegan tips, questions or recipe ideas for me I'd love to hear them in the comments.

Have you considered Veganism as a diet/lifestyle option?? What would be your main concern about making changes like this?? 

Wednesday 5 February 2014

First Look: Monsoon/Accessorize for SS14

Spring is in the air ladies!! I can almost spot it on the horizon. In January I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Monsoon/Accessorize Spring/Summer Press Day. However, I was UN lucky enough to be struck down with the flu and ended up being unable to attend. Thankfully, being the lovely people that they are, Monsoon/Accessorize were kind enough to send me ALL of the images of the collections showcased at the event to look through so that I wasn't left hanging. I thought I'd do this post to show you all a few my favourite looks and pieces from the collections (but, seriously, this isn't even half of it - so many beautiful things)....

Both brands have gone wild with colour for the upcoming season. Anything from nautical and understated, to pretty pastels to a full on HIT of bright. This really translates throughout the whole collection. Florals, prints and texture feature heavily as well giving everything a slightly ethnic feel, no doubt a big nod to Monsoon's Indian heritage, incorperating delicate embroidery, crochet and cut out detailing. It might be hammering it down with rain outside as I write this but, looking at all these beautiful pieces, I could be transported to a beach in Malibu or soaking up the sun in Marseilles. They've included everything from statement jackets, casual beachwear/kaftans to chic floral day dresses.

 Accessorize have REALLY come up trumps in particular for me this season. Just LOOK at the beautiful bags!!!! (Yes, four exclamation marks there). I must must MUST invest in a pastel satchel for this new University semester. Jewels are generally big, bold and bright, fitting with the floral trend, but also intricate. You can really tell how much attention to detail went into designing the collections. They really have thought of everything, from soft, boho floral crowns to chunky, colourful bangles to eye catching statement necklaces. Thumbs up all round from me!

Find out a bit more about the story behind these collections at monsoon.co.uk and shop for perfect Summer statement accessories at uk.accessorize.com

Are you getting in the mood for Spring yet?? What are your favourite trends once the weather gets warmer?? Which of these Monsoon/Accessorize pieces makes it onto your wishlist??

Sunday 2 February 2014

Floral Nail Art Ft Nails Inc SS14 Colours

This is uncharted territory for this blog. You all know I have a serious fetish for nail polish (in particular Nails Inc) but I've never had the guts to experiment with nail art before. However, I decided that 2014 will be the year I knuckle down and really make an effort to teach myself. In fact this is my first ever attempt at floral nails so pleeeeease don't slate me. I know they're not exactly professional standard hahaha. I've also found myself egged on by my lovely Uni friend Nara, who has just started blogging about beauty and nails herself over at The Nail Polish Bible. Her nail art is AMAZING (seriously, check her out and show a newbie some support, it's a tough world out there in the Blogosphere).

I was quite pleased with this as a first attempt. At first I thought it was a disaster and was going to remove it straight away but they've grown on me. I'm still experimenting with which brush does what (I bought an extremely inexpensive set of nail art brushes from ebay - Link) and figuring out which shades go together. I guess they're a bit splodgy really but I'm sure practise makes perfect. I really wanted to do something with my new Nails Inc Spring shades. I used Nails Inc Hyde Park Place as a base, followed by George Street (both of these shades can be found in their 'In The Nude' Collection - See my post Here) and then used one of the NEW Gel Effect polishes in Downtown* as an accent on the flowers using a teeny tiny brush. I really think it adds a POP of colour to the design. All topped off with Kensington Caviar Topcoat. 

What do you reckon?? Not too bad for a first try?? Can you recommend any easy nail art designs for beginners like me?? 

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