Monday, 31 March 2014

Beauty UK \\ High Brow Eyebrow Kit

High Brow from Beauty UK is a super cheap Brow kit for filling in sparse brows. It comes with one coloured wax and "three shades of powder to suit any complexion". I wish Beauty UK had released just two different shade options for this kit as no one will be able to use the darkest colour and the lightest colour, but for the price point you can't really complain at wasted powders. You could always used the other shades as eyeshadows! The lightest shade in the kit is the best for blonde/brown haired girls like me, and is quite a similar shade to 'wedge' eyeshadow by MAC. It's a little warmer than I prefer for my brows (I normally use 'Omega' from MAC which is more ashy) but is still a nice brow shade.The wax is meant to be pushed through the brows first to help them stay in place and get the powder to adhere, but I found it a little sticky. Without the wax the powder applies just fine, is very pigmented and does a pretty good job of filling in brows. Since this little kit comes with tweezers and an eyebrow brush, and has a selection of shades to try out, it's a great option for the eyebrow beginner! If you're looking to experiment with your brows for the first time, give it a go.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Urban Decay Naked Palettes Comparison - 1 2 and 3

I'm aware there's a lot of similar posts out there, but I wanted to reignite the love for the Urban Decay Naked Palette Triology. These palettes contain some of the highest quality eyeshadows for what is actually a very reasonable price, and place shades together in such gorgeous combinations that creating eyeshadow looks is a piece of pie. To the eyeshadow newbie, these palettes will look virtually identical, but believe me, they are very different. Now, of course you don't NEED all three palettes, but for the neutral obsessive, these three will give you a great range. The Orginal NAKED palette is supposedly designed for those with warmer skintones, the NAKED 2 for those with cooler undertones, and the NAKED 3 contains rose-hued shades which  I think are best suited for paler skins. The NAKED 3 is definitely the most individual of the three, but my favourite? It's actually the NAKED 2. For me, I find it the easiest to use and the most flattering on my eyes. There are quite a few similar shades between the three palettes, but I find that if I reach for one it will inspire a different look to another palette. I haven't done a swatch of every single shadow (you can google for such images if you want an in depth comparison), but I have swatched my favourite three shades for you from each palette.
All in all, these palettes are cult beauty blogger palettes for a reason, and if you haven't invested already, I can't recommend them enough.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Seven Tips For Beginner Bloggers

Now that I've been blogging for one and a half years, I feel ready to share some tips I've learnt over this time for those of you who are just setting up your blog or are relatively new to the blogging world. Blogging can be such a rewarding hobby, so I hope my tips can help you to make the most out of it! My advice is aimed primarily at beauty/cosmetics bloggers, but might be useful to other kinds of bloggers too. I've made a lot of these mistakes along the way myself, and I've definitely got much more to learn!

1. BE ORIGINAL, NOT GENERIC. Don’t go and buy and product and then write a post on it, just because it’s the new release that a lot of big bloggers are writing about. By the time your post is up, people will be bored of reading about the same old thing, and often it will show that you’re only writing the post to try to fit in. Instead, talk about the products and topics that genuinely interest you; it will show and so will your personality, which is what makes people really want to read a blog. However…

2. DON’T TALK ABOUT YOURSELF TOO MUCH. This might sound harsh, but if 90% of your posts are a ‘My week in pictures’, unless you have done something amazing that will be interesting to a complete stranger, or you take visually stunning photos, it’s just not going to interest someone who clicks on your blog for the first time. Established bloggers (the likes of Zoella) will get huge interest on personal posts only because they've built up a loyal following who are then interested in their lives.

3. GET YOUR BLOG DESIGN SORTED. Your blog design is the first thing a visitor sees when they click on your blog, and is basically the pretty packaging for your content. Get it right. Make sure your text is clear and easy to read, your photos are large, and your blog is easy to navigate around. If you’re really stuck with all the html nonsense, get someone to do it for you, and get your branding sorted. My blog design shop can be found here. (shameless plug)

4. JUMP INTO SOCIAL MEDIA. Set up a Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus account for your blog as soon as possible and use them daily if possible. Learn which hash-tags are used by the audience you’re trying to reach and include them in your tweets. Find out about any relevant twitter blog chats and use them to learn from other people and make blogging friends as well as promoting your blog.

5. LEARN BASIC PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS. I’ll be honest, if I click on a blog and it has small, dark, grainy photos of products and outfits, I will immediately click off of it, and I know many other people who would say the same. You don’t need a fancy camera to achieve photos that are well lit from in front (use natural sunlight), large (set your photo to large within blogger) and that show the product detail. Think about what you’re trying to achieve with each photo – are you trying to show the colour, the size of the packaging, the brand name?

6. DON’T FORCE IT. If you’re not feeling inspired or excited about anything to write a post, don’t blog that day. I think that a couple of quality posts you've really wanted to write in one week are better than a quick disinterested post every day.

7. DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH, TOO QUICKLY. It’s unrealistic to expect your first 50 followers or lovely comments to appear overnight. If you’re blogging for the right reasons (because you enjoy it, not for the freebies or follower count!), readers will arrive in due course! It’s easy to get disheartened if very few people are reading your blog, but this early stage in blogging is the perfect time to learn what you like, develop writing style and to make mistakes without too many people seeing them!

Good luck with your blogging, and enjoy it!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

AEOS Optimal Essentials Skincare

AEOS is an entirely new brand to me, although I've read a bit about some of their products on various blogs. AEOS stands for Active Energised Organic Skincare, which pretty much sums up the brand's philosophy - offering skincare with both natural and 'active' ingredients like plant extracts, essential oils and enzymes. My senstive skin tends to love products with more natural ingredients, reacting badly to the harsher ingredients found in lots of drugstore skincare. The premium ingredients mean that AEOS products come with a fairly hefty price tag, but you can purchase an optimal essentials kit, which I've been trying out - a somewhat cheaper way to try out a broad range of their products to see if they suit you. The kit contains ten products in small bottles and tubes, which would also make this kit perfect for travelling. I found my experience of AEOS to be a very luxurious one. The kit comes with a snazzy pouch filled with detailed information about each product included and exactly how to use each of them. AEOS has a three-step system of 'renewal, rebalance and replenish' which uses different products for morning and night, but the included information makes this easy to understand for simpletons like me. I won't go into detail about every product included but I can safetly say that there isn't a single product I didn't like or that my skin didn't get along with! Amazing. After sticking to the three step regime for a little over a month, the biggest change in my skin is the radiance. My skin is naturally incredibly dull and I feel that it looks brighter and generally more life-like! The fact that none of these products caused me any sensitivity or any breakouts is also actually a big achievement for this kit. My favourite products from the kit are: Gentle Cleansing Lotion (blue) which was super gentle and nourishing, the Refreshing Hydrating Mist which is so nice to use in the middle of a busy day, and the Beauty Body Lotion which has such a gorgeous fragrance that people have actually asked me what scent I'm wearing! All in all, this kit is pricey, but if you're looking to try a new skincare regime and are happy to spend a bit more on it, my verdict is that AEOS is worth it.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Beauty UK Posh Pout \\ How Nude

The Posh Pouts from Beauty UK are super duper cheap lip crayons which come in a good range of six colours. The shade 'How Nude' is a very pinky nude which looks good with a neutral eye. I really like the chunky packaging with the twist-up bullet, which is perfect for chucking in a bag, and it doesn't feel that cheap at all. I'm not too sold on the minty flavour, which is reminiscent of teenage lip balms, but some might like it! When applied to the lips it gives a good strong colour, but does tend to cling to dry patches. As long as you exfoliate the lips before, that won't be a problem, and the formula is then quite long-lasting. For a lip crayon that's not even three pounds, I'm fairly impressed.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Spring Picks

Today I thought I'd just share with you some of the things I'm pulling out of my collection as the spring weather appears!

Chloe EDP \\ A fresh and light floral scent, this classic fragrance has notes of peony, freesia, magnolia and rose. It's a flirty scent suited for springtime and for wearing with the first sundresses of the year.

Sleek i-Divine Palette in Ultra Matte V1 \\ Spring is when you can pull out those colourful shadows and create fun looks, and this Sleek palette offers twelve super-bright and pigmented shades to experiment with.

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder \\ The perfect bronzer for creating that 'I just spent a day on the beach' look. The compact is really handy for keeping in your handbag too.

YSL Rouge Volupte in Nude Beige \\ A luxurious satin formula lipstick in the most gorgeous pinky-nude, with a vital SPF 15. Not to mention, the packaging is STUNNING.

NARS Lipgloss in Orgasm \\ The creamy and hydrating iconic NARS lipgloss in 'Orgasm' is absolutely a springtime shade, which looks lovely alone, or paired with the YSL Lipstick above.

Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Eternal Gold \\ Cream and Gel eyeshadows are great for swiping on a quick sheen of colour, and the shade 'Eternal Gold' looks so pretty in the sunshine. I think this looks great with dewy skin and a nude lip. Just make sure you use an eyeshadow primer to prevent creasing.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con The Lolita Palette

I'm going to go all out and say it - I think this is my favourite eyeshadow palette of all time. This palette could have been MADE for me. I'm a huge lover of neutral palettes, but I sometimes get a little overwhelmed by palettes with about 15 shades of brown. This gorgeous offering from Marc Jacobs' beauty line offers a selection of seven shades, three matte and four shimmer, housed in a luxurious sleek black case of beautifullness. The colours are perfect for my skintone, with the perfect combination of a light matte crease shade, dark matte crease shade, matte highlight, simmer highlight, bronzy colours and the central dazzling glitter shadow. Every shadow is buttery soft and wonderfully easy to blend, and you can create both day and night looks with one gorgeous palette. The majorly shimmery shade (I do wish Marc Jacobs had included colour names) has slight issues with fallout, but the others shades stay very well put with a primer. I love the little pouch the palette comes in, making it great for travelling, but it would have been nice to have a brush included, rather than the teeny little sponge applicator that was squished in the end of the pouch. The plastic insert is also a little flimsy, but really I'm clutching at straws to find anything actually wrong with this product. The price is steep, but I think it's justified for the princess factor of putting your make-up on with stunning shadows from an equally fancy-smanshy palette.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Teapigs Matcha Green Tea

Modern Matcha Kit * \\ £32.50

Green Tea is not something I'd really considered before trying the Matcha Green Tea from Teapigs. Matcha Green Tea is a super-concentrated form of green tea that has been drunk in Japan for almost 900 years, but is only just becoming popular in the UK, in smoothie bars and health food shops. It's meant to be the 'superhero' tea, with supposed benefits of mental alertness, yet mental relaxation, improved metabolism and healthier skin. Teapigs Matcha Green Tea is premium grade and organic, and the concentrated form means that you're ingesting the whole goodness of the green tea leaf, getting all the antioxidants and nutrients. 1 serving of the Matcha Green Tea is equivalent to 15 cups of normal green tea! Their Modern Matcha Kit gives you everything you need to test out Matcha Green Tea. I was challenged to use this kit to take a Green Tea 'shot' every day for two weeks, and analyse any effects I saw. I've been having a shot a day (with the exception of a few day) for a month now, and I have been quite impressed. The Matcha Green Tea can be taken in many different ways - as a normal brew, frothed with milk, or mixed in with a fruit juice. You can even make it into martinis, icecream or cookies (ideas are on the website)! I went for the orange juice shot option, which looks, and tastes at first a bit like pond-water! I quickly got used to the taste though (I actually like it now), and quickly began feeling the benefits. I've been taking my shot mid-afternoon, and find that my energy levels and concentration levels are much higher during the rest of the afternoon, and that I feel noticeably less stressed. I really feel like it's made it easier to get on with work in the afternoons, and prevent me from flagging by dinner time - apparently it's used by Buddhist Monks to keep them alert and focused during days of meditation! It's hard to tell if it's had an effect on my metabolism, but my skin does seem a bit clearer, and I generally feel healthier in myself. It's incredible that one little shot of concentrated goodness can produce such noticeable benefits, and I'm not sure how much of this is a kind of placebo effect, but I don't mind, it works! 

Friday, 14 March 2014

No7 Hot Cloth Cleanser \\ A Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Dupe

A while back I was introduced to the wonderful world of hot cloth cleansers. Yes, I'm aware how utterly sad that sounds, but it's been the best change I've made to my skincare routine in years. Instead of using facewipes or facewash with harsh chemicals to remove a face of makeup, a hot cloth cleanser is rubbed into the skin, disintegrating the makeup before you wash it off with a damp warm cloth. Hot cloth cleansers are a creamy consistency which is nourishing rather than stripping for your skin. I started off with the cult Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (see my review here). I found this product made my skin softer and smoother, and reduced redness. My skin was generally happier for using a hot cloth cleanser, but if this was going to be a staple in my routine, I wanted to find a cheaper alternative. The Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish * is £14.75 for the 100ml pump bottle with two cloths, whereas the No7 Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser is £9.95 for 200ml, which is double the amount of product! The packaging for the No7 offering feels quite high end, coming in a cute box, and with a very decent pump. The cream has an inoffensive light scent, but it's nowhere near as relaxing and spa-like as the Liz Earle one. When rubbed into the skin it's not quite as thick and creamy as the Cleanse and Polish, but still disintegrates the makeup well. The cloth included in the box isn't very nice and is almost scratchy, but I don't think it's fair to complain about that for the price. I would recommend that you find a different muslin cloth to use with it though. So, the results? My skin has continued to feel less tight and less sensitive. The redness has mostly stayed at the reduced level, and my skin is still soft, but not quite as smooth as it was when using the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. The Cleanse and Polish will be something I'll buy as a treat, or perhaps before a big event, but the No7 Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser is a great hot cloth cleanser for the price, and is now an essential in my daily routine.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base \\ £19 (for fullsize)

I have oily eyelids. I'm sorry, it's gross, but that's how it is. I have oily combination (sensitive) skin which is finally behaving a little more like normal skin after a lot of tweaking to my skincare regime, but my eyelids are just omni-oily. I wear eyeshadows almost every day, so keeping them from creasing and slipping has always been a bit of a problem. I find that Urban Decay's Primer Potion does a pretty good job. However... NARS are nice enough to sometimes send some mini products with an order, and they popped a sample size of their Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base in my most recent package. I've heard this product talked about from time to time, but it gets nowhere near the attention that the Urban Decay one does. My question is why oh why not? This creamy textured primer makes eyeshadows more vibrant, easier to apply and look flawless for a whole, and I mean a WHOLE day. I don't know what magical ingredient they've put in this to combat my oily lids, but this stuff literally keeps your eye makeup looking like it's just been applied for hours and hours. I've actually tested it for almost twelve hours, and I was still happy with the appearance of my eyeshadow at the end of that day, once the rest of my makeup looked worse for wear. This product is definitely one I will be purchasing the full size of!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Travalo Perfume Atomiser

Travalo * \\ £12.49

I've used a Travalo for a good few years now, but apparently not everyone knows about these handy little contraptions! The Travalo is a small perfume atomiser, which can be refilled from your perfume bottle, just by popping the top off your perfume and pumping the perfume into the base of the Travalo. GENIUS! I have no idea how this works, but it does (and it's really easy)! I would beware that a few perfumes don't have a top that pops off, but I've only ever found this with one (Chanel) perfume. I love Travalos for popping in my handbag as their only the size of a lipstick, and a lot lighter than lugging around your whole perfume bottle. I think they look really cute, and it's always nice to have perfume at hand to spritz. There's also no change of your perfume leaking and damaging your handbag's contents. They're especially great for taking on hand-luggage when flying as they hold a small amount of liquid, and fitting into a clutch for an evening out. I'd been using my trusty pink Travalo for years without it ever leaking or failing me, but it has been very well loved and is now showing signs of wear and tear. Travalo's slightly newer 'Excel' offerings hold 5ml of perfume which equates to 65 sprays - enough to easily last you a weekend trip away in your hand luggage. I love the range of colours they now come in (the blue and silver ones are pictured), and they seem just as hard-wearing as the original. £12.49 might initially seem a little steep for such a teeny thing, but for the quality of the product, and for just how darn handy it is, the Travalo is definitely worth the money.

The lovely people at Travalo have given me a discount code for you to get 20% off with the code 'LittleKoala' (use here) should you want to try one for yourself!

Friday, 7 March 2014

ARK Home Aromatics \\ Loving Room Spray

I hadn't really considered room sprays before ARK sent me this product, but now that I've tried one, I think it's something I'll always want to have around to make my room, or whole house smell welcoming and homely. A room spray can be sprayed in the air, or onto linens and fabrics, and creates a fragrance in your home, without the worry of burning the house down with a scented candle! The Loving Room Spray * from ARK comes packaged in a beautiful glass bottle, within an equally luxurious box. The fragrance contains many of the scents that appeal to me - jasmine, orange flower, mandarin, cinnamon, bay spices, rosewood and myrrh to name a few. These elements make for a beautiful scent which is comforting and homely. It's quite a winter-time scent to me, but could be used throughout the year in the evenings. The whole experience of perfuming the space around me feels quite decadent, and the scent lasts for a few hours. I'm completely hooked on the room spray idea, and I think ARK have created a lovely product for gifting or a treat for yourself in their Loving Room Spray.