The last day of Christmas gave to me…

Firstly allow me to offer my most sincere apologies (well that’s pushing it, not sincere) that this post is over a week late but I’m sure like everyone else I deserved a little break. This last week and a bit of my busy life was spent at home being extremely merry with my crazy family, not to mention working in retail over the Christmas period which I’m sure most of you are aware is similar to being thrown to the lions in the arena. So 3 days off over the Christmas weekend was greatly welcomed by me and my huge bottle of Moscato d’Asti, which along with the baileys Yule log, made my Christmas Breakfast pretty sexy. Yet again, a big fat win for me.

So bouncing back from my little Christmas break I have 5 wonderful new gifts from the M&S beauty advent calendar to share with you and since I’ve let them build up, I’ll keep the reviews short, sweet and to the point.

  
The excitement that coursed through my veins had me jumping for pure joy when I opened the 20th purple window of the advent and saw a L’Occitane product. Which to the readers that aren’t beauty geeks, may seem a little sad, but let me tell you, receiving a 100ml bottle of wonderful L’Occitane verbena shower gel from a mere advent calendar is like pulling out gold dust. Anyway being L’Occitane you are guaranteed the sublime natural scents of essential oils such as Geranium, lemon tree, orange and (of course) verbena. These scents mingle together to make your bathroom smell like an oasis of tranquility when you shower. Not to mention the natural ingredients making this suitable to cleanse even sensitive skin. Oh and it’s a unisex product so hide it from the blokes, ladies.

  
The 21st day presented me with the Glow Tonic by PIXI. And boy, is this a good one girls (well and boys, if boys are into glow tonics). I’m not usually a huge fan of toners since I already use micellar water to cleanse my face, I suppose I deem it unnecessary in my skincare routine. However after trying this little miracle product I have discovered that toners are more than a fancypants translucent water to clean your face and close your pores up with. I used this water for 3 consecutive evenings during my nighttime skincare regime. And each morning I woke up with a face that felt fresh and glowy with minimal redness. Which for a fair skinned young maiden like myself, any tonic to minimalist redness is a winner. With natural Aloe Vera extracts, combined with the alcohol free formula which is tested as hypoallergenic, it’s ideal to cleanse sensitive skin, and even dry, spot prone skin too. So for a toner disbeliever, I have been converted.

  
Next up in the countdown to Christmas I was shown the wonders and magic of REN and their fabulous 1 Minute Facial! I am already a huge lover of this product since my manager recommended it to me and it’s one of those little things that really makes you feel all dewy and pampered. Let’s go back to basics and talk about what it will do for you when all is said and done. After doing my research I have discovered why it makes my skin feel so wonderful, and apparently it’s down to the water activated Vitamin C formulation. Okay, once you’ve applied the flash facial to your dry face, you need to wet your fingertips and massage again, and it’s this touch of H2O that brings the vitamin C to life and gives it the wake up call to get to work on my skin tone. Other ingredients that really make this a beautiful party happening on your face is the boswellic acid to smooth fine lines and the glycogen magnesium to give you that radiant glow. You have to leave this on for a minute after massaging with your wet fingertips to allow all these brilliant components to do their jobs. Then rinse off. According to REN, if this facial is rotated with the Glycolactic radiance renewal mask, it will give you a facial routine that means serious business! However they have specified it’s potent ingredients will probably not suit sensitive skin types  which is the only downside for me. Otherwise, a truly magnificent product!

  
As the big day is starting to loom the gifts are seriously upping their game from this advent, since on this day I managed to get my hands on the Stila lip Glaze. And with lipsticks and makeup you’d imagine that in a beauty advent they would put in a product that the company want to try and get rid of, a shade that isn’t that popular that they want to try and showcase to get it a bit more attention. But I have been pleasantly surprised with this product since it’s a beautiful everyday dusky pink colour that suits nearly every skin tone. With pink you can either wear it as a simple chic day look with a nude eye and peachy cheeks, then really give it a vamped up vibe for the evening by smoking up the eye with a charcoal grey colour and a good highlight/contour combination going on to really structure the rest of the face. The people of this world that wear a colour on their lips are a demographic that’s divided by one simple factor. Lipstick or Gloss. As a glaze, it’s inbetween a lipstick and a gloss. You get the intense pigmented colour and lasting power of a lipstick, with all the wearable shine and fun of a lip gloss. So it pleases both parties, everyone wins. I certainly do.

  
Ah my lovely readers that followed my Blogmas posts, this is it. The final little gift from the magic that is M&S. And they’ve really outdone themselves with this one. It is the highly anticipated Morgan Taylor Professional Nail Lacquer in the down right sexy shade of ‘From Paris with Love’. I’m a huge fan of deep red wine coloured nails so I did a little dance of joy when I discovered this little gem. Well what can I say; it’s a professional company that’s used worldwide, the colour is fantastically rich and on trend, and as you know from my previous posts, I am a sucker for a full sized product and this is a whopping 15ml. And for a nail varnish that is a pretty mighty size. Although I must stress do use a good base coat before applying this lacquer, since without it, your nail will get stained. And don’t forget a decent top coat afterwards too, to prevent the wear and tear of daily life getting to your beautiful nails.

Now beautiful people I must say how much I have enjoyed starting my blog journey with Blogmas 2015. Thank you so much for reading my whacky reviews and recipes; I can promise you there are plenty more to come. I hope you all had a wonderfully Merry Christmas and I wish you all the best for this new year. Stand by for more fabulous beauty posts and lots of delicious recipes.

Sophie x

Santa Baby… 

4 more sleeps to go and I am still yet to wrap the vast majority of my presents. You know those people who can’t switch off from work, they take their work home with them… Well I’m going to be doing the opposite. I’m almost 100% positive that I will be taking the gifts I’m supposed to be giving to my family, to work with me on Christmas Eve so during my break I can wrap them all up. Goodness, being a grown up is HARD.

Anyway fellow Internetees I have a corking couple of products to talk about today. The 18th window sprung open to reveal a fantastic little bar of joyous Crabtree and Evelyn La Source soap. I love La Source but mum loves it more so that’s going in her stocking (Christmas stocking, not leg stocking, Just to clarify. Mums not THAT odd.) 

  
Then much to the excitement of me, the 19th purple window in the M&S beauty box gave to me a beautiful Autograph twist up lip shine in Nude. I have been rocking this everyday at work and absolutely love it!

  
Okie dokie I have used products from the La source range of Crabtree and Evelyn before, and the scent is just sublime. It’s so fresh and delicate it just makes you want to run through a summer meadow in a white dress with some classical track playing in the background. No? Just me? Okay. Well, the formula of this soap has conditioning Shea butter in the mix which moisturises deep into the skin. The triple milling of this soap combined with the primrose and wheat germ oils, make it a brilliant aid to soothe dry skin, especially during these bitterly cold winter months. People tend to forget about the extra moisturising their skin needs during the winter so by starting with a simple soap to nourish and protect your face from further dryness, you’ve already got a head start ready for when you moisturise.

Onto the autograph lip shine. This product was featured previously by Mary Greenwell in her ‘Get the Look’ campaign for M&S as the key lip colour on the flawless face look. Not as boring and beige as you’d imagine, this nude lip colour has a slight glitter running through it which just looks stunning. It really vamps up a nude lip rather than just having a really flat colour. I’m a huge fan of a nude lip, but I’m also a fan of lip balm; and seeing as this product combines the two, I was seriously loving life that I got this in the advent for free. Totally winning at life.

When I use this lip shine I prefer to use a lip balm first, then line my lips with a nude liner, and colour my lips in with said liner, and finally finish it with the autograph lip shine. This is how you can get a bit creative with your makeup since there are so many different things you can do to create a new look, depending on how you like your makeup to come across.

I’ve got a feeling the products still to come from the gorgeous purple advent calendar are set to be real joys. So sit tight lovelies, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

The Official Countdown has started!

So now is when the real excitement starts to set in, its only 9 sleeps until the big day. Although my probably unpopular opinion is that Christmas Eve is more exciting than Christmas Day itself. I mean this is when the real festivities kick off! You cannot deny there is no better feeling than finishing work on the 24th, then starting that glorious drive home with a christmas anthem or 5 serenading you as you cruise along the seafront (if you work in Southend on Sea that is) with that inevitable bottle of fizz waiting for you when you get home. In my world, there is no better feeling. But thanks to the ridiculous offers on the booze in met supermarkets this year I have LOTS to get through. A very MERRY Christmas indeed!

So since I last wrote to you lovely people I have opened 3 advent windows. I KNOW. Im sorry for the delay but it is nearing the final week and making presents look pretty is really rather time consuming. So the three products I have received in the last 72 hours are all products I have neither used or in 2 cases, never even heard of until now.

The purple box of fabulous things gave me, Percy and Reed Volumising No Oil Oil, Roger and Gallet Fleur de Figuier Hand Cream and Rodial dragon’s blood sculpting gel.

  
Firstly, Percy and Reed, what is up with your naming skills?! Are you desperately trying to confuse me? No oil, oil. How bizarre. Anyway I have heard plenty of mixed reviews about Percy and Reed products so I have always been skeptical to try them out. However I am a sucker for a volumising product due to the fact that I have super duper thick hair that is so heavy, it falls flat quite quickly. I used this oil (well, not oil) on my damp hair and after blow drying with a barrel brush, I had a significant amount of volume at my roots. And I noticed throughout the day, the style did in fact stay in tact. So I did a bit of research into the formulation of this product and it turns out the Violet extract enriches and moisturises your dull and lifeless barnet to give you smooth, silky and voluptuous results. Which if you have thick hair, getting a silky result is usually tough so this will do the job. Not to mention act as a heat protectant to prevent you putting umpteen products through your locks.

  
Okie dokie onto the Roger and Gallet Hand Cream. I must admit I really don’t like the flour de Figuier scent. I’ve tried the Perfume of the same scent before and I couldn’t wash it off quick enough. On some people it smells fantastic and it really suits them, however for me, it just didn’t. So this was another thing i’ve given to my lovely Nan to try and review for me. As a huge fan of hand creams, Nan is an expert on how they should feel and smell on your skin. she thought the scent was beautifully fresh and not too strong which some hand creams can be. She told me that she could quite happily use this lots throughout the day because it leaves her skin soft and supple without the greasy after-texture that cheaper creams usually result in. Another thing she loved is the thin tube, since she only ever uses small handbags, it fits in the side pocket perfectly without bulking the bag out. So its safe to say nan would buy this hand cream. or maybe i’ll just add it to her christmas list. What a lovely granddaughter I am. Modest too by the sounds of it.

  
 And last but by no means least, Todays wonderful tube of Magic is the Rodial Dragons Blood. Okay, I have heard of this brand but the price tags are way out of my league so i’ve never looked into it any further. My research has told me that The formula of this product is scientifically tested to plump and sculpt facial contours to fight any sagging skin you get with age.

I have done plenty of research into this product and if my mum’s grimace on FaceTime was anything to go by when I told her this product is called ‘Dragon’s Blood’ then i’m positive you’ll all be wondering the same thing. So why is it called that? Well it turns out the Extract used in this product is that of the Dragon’s Blood Tree native to the island of Socotra in the indian ocean. The sap from this tree is naturally red which is why it’s known as Dragon’s blood.
As i’m sure most people are aware, as you age your skin does what most other things do when you get older; it goes a bit southward. And if a facelift or cosmetic surgery is a bit too heavy duty for you then this product has had reviews from the top skincare gurus and makeup artists to confirm that it actually does work. Applied all over your face and neck, it forms a protective veil over your skin to promote firmness, and help sort out all those uneven red tones as well as helping sooth sensitive skin too.
Since I don’t really need this product (yet) I will give it to mother, since nan is already using the time filler, and see what she makes of it. I shall update you all with her progress in due course.
Not that she needs an anti-ageing product of course. (just to cover myself)

 

Unlucky for some, not for me. 

Excuse the day off but I thought I’d make great use of my Sunday off and finish my Christmas shopping before I spent all of my money on me (God forbid) 

However Sunday’s lonesome gift from M&S wasn’t of much use to me so I’ve had to improvise. The 13th little box from the Magic and Sparkle Christmas fairies – whom are apparently having a well earned holiday this year – presented me with a little bottle of Mio Liquid Yoga bath soak. What a glorious gift to receive from an advent Calendar; a good hearty size, a well known specialist brand and it does the job and smells beautiful while it’s at it. If you have a bath, of course. Which ironically and much to my dismay, I do not have. 

So I decided to improvise and use it as a foot soak in my foot spa. Not that I usually have time for a foot spa but I had a tough old day and my poor little toes were aching like mad. So I borrowed mum’s just to try this product and its pretty damn good. The scent is very strong and soothing since its jam packed pull of the essential oils of Lavendar, chamomile, spearmint and mandarin which all combine with the arnica and Epsom salts to provide a relaxing, soothing soak. 

As a brand that focus on the therapeutic side of events; such as relaxing muscles and relieving tension (hence the product name liquid yoga), they need to have a very specific formula, and consequently a price to match (you get what you pay for) 

So after soaking my feet in this they felt beautifully soft, relaxed and any ache that had been there from my tough day at work, had disappeared totally. 

Overall I’m not sure if I would buy this product since it wouldn’t benefit me because I don’t have the apparatus available to get the full rewards from using it; however if you are prone to knots in your muscles and usually get stressed quite easily (who doesn’t) I would say give this a go. Oh and if you have a bath of course. Plus it’s cheaper than paying for 5 massages a month. 

12th Time Lucky…

So the 12 days of Benefit have gone extremely fast because today was the last time I’d wake up and open that little box of joy to hear their whacky take on the 12 days of Christmas song. Today’s line was ’12 hunks a-flirting’ I don’t think I really need to elaborate on that one do you? Definitely not. 

However they saved a good one until last, The lovely Benefit advent pixies today gave me a lovely gift of Rockateur! 

Not to be overshadowed by Benefit’s last day, M&S also outdone themselves with their gift to me today, as I opened the little purple box to find a Diego Dalla Palma lipstick in 46 – which is a fantastic Dusky pink colour.

  
So starting with Benefit since today is their last day in my Blogmas countdown, I am really rather pleased with today’s little gift. For those that don’t know Benefit very well, Rockateur is a very popular cheek powder or blusher that when applied to the apples of your cheeks gives you a beautiful peachy, Rosie colour. It’s a very natural cheek blush and also does a bit of a highlighting job too. The powder has a tiny gold sheen to it, not enough to be a shimmer or glitter and you can barely even see it. However when it’s on, those light reflecting particles really give your face dimension and stop it looking matte and, well, flat. In my opinion, on my skin tone anyway, this colour appears warm which is awesome for this time of year when you’re opting for warmer shades. But saying that I found this shade of blush works better with a nude makeup look since the warmth will balance out the cooler colours on the rest of your face.

  
Okay okay onto the DDP lippy. I’ve used this before plenty of times and I’m so pleased they’ve given me this shade since it’s my favourite. It matches my cooler skin tone perfectly and combined with an autumnal, bronzed eye look… It just looks fantastic. I LOVE it. So thank you very much M&S.

Diego Dalla Palma are an Italian makeup brand based in Milan, and their products are underrated, big time. Their lipsticks and glosses are such a high quality and they don’t get the press they deserve. They have a price tag to match their quality but I’ve done research on the formulations of their lipsticks and its impressive (I won’t start on that now because ‘yawn’). When you wear them they are long lasting, they are low maintenance throughout the day because they have great staying power, the pigment doesn’t stain your lips after use, and I have to say they just look to damn fine. I mean they must be pretty confident with how good their products are if all they are relying on to rope those customers in is a simple black and white box. You’d think if the box is black and white the actual lipstick must have some bright eye catching pattern on it… Oh no. Black and white yet again. And all I can say to that is ‘Less is definitely more’. 

So since its Benefits last day I should probably let them win…however M&S have really done a brilliant job with that DDP lipstick. Both products are excellent for my complexion, both have great staying power, and actually both complement each other when worn together. 

So farewell Benefit Advent, we’ve had a good run! And the gifts you’ve given me throughout December have been wicked. I thank you for your participation in my Blogmas posts, and I hope to see you again next year. 

11 Christmas jumpers later…

Meanwhile in the land of festivities and Yuletide cheer (M&S) there was a Christmas jumper promotion yesterday, so I bought two, naturally. Which actually takes my vast collection of Christmas knitwear that has built up over the years up to a rather apt eleven. 

On the subject of eleven, the eleventh and penultimate benefit advent window this morning presented me with the product I’ve been itching for since I got the They’re Real! Mascara. And that’s the They’re Real! Remover. Then after such glee at receiving this item, I won’t lie I was quite deflated when all M&S gave me was a tiny travel size Josh Wood shampoo. Which is the first disappointment I’ve had from the M&S calendar so far. 

  
Let me start with the Josh Wood shampoo. Even though it was quite disappointing, that doesn’t mean it’s a shoddy product, far from it. This is a shampoo I’ve used before and it really amplifies the volume at the roots of your hair, which will ultimately (combined with the corresponding conditioner) give you a great base to keep your styles lasting longer, not to mention leaving your gorgeous locks beautifully nourished and healthy. Also with Josh Wood specialising in colour, you can rest assured the products in his range will have a number one aim of keeping your coloured hair bright and radiant.

The reason I was disappointed with receiving this product is because the items I’ve got previously have all been near enough full size, and great to use on their own. This product is the travel size bottle which, after all the full sized products I’ve got from the calendar, doesn’t really excite me. Plus it’s only the shampoo, where’s the conditioner at?! How can I give a real review of a product that requires you to use a second product  to get the full benefit from it? 

Apologies for the negative feedback, but it could’ve been turned around had this product been in the box for day 1, then gradually as the days went by, the products get bigger and better. But as I said that doesn’t impact on how good a shampoo it is. 

  
Now onto the They’re Real! Mascara Remover. Since this amazing mascara is waterproof, you’ll need more than regular cleanser to remove it since it’s not water based.

The remover comes in a handy tube rather than a bottle and you apply it to a cotton pad and gently wipe downwards on your lashes several times until your lashes are fresh and au naturale again. The remover is a gel which I think is great because some makeup removers are far too watered down and you have to use much more of them in one go; with a gel, less is more. And with it being quite a pricey item, you want it to last longer than 5 minutes. 

The delicate gel formula is mighty enough to remove the heavy waterproof mascara but is also gentle on the thin skin around the eye, which is great for preserving the elasticity of the skin and preventing any wrinkles. 

Today Benefit have clearly won the race for day 11, however I do still love the Josh Wood Full bodied range, but it would’ve been great if I had the conditioner too. Knowing my luck after this rant it’ll be behind tomorrow’s Window. 

Perfect TENS everywhere!

We have reached the Tenth day in our Christmas countdown and my four advent calendars are getting really rather gappy. Yes I said 4. The M&S beauty advent, The Benefit makeup advent plus the two chocolate calendars mum and nan got me. I wanted Lindt but with me asking Santa very nicely for a Macbook this Christmas I was lucky to get a £2.50 dairy milk calendar and not a One Direction one from the pound shop.

Back to what you’re all here for; today’s gifts to me from the beauty advent elves were Neal’s Yard nourishing cream in Frankincense (M&S) and Hoola Nude Lip gloss (Benefit)

With these beautiful products, Sophie’s morning routine was a real winner. I left for work feeling pretty damn glam.

  
I’ll start with what I used first which was the Neal’s Yard cream. I’ve never used this brand before so it’s yet another first impression review. And please allow me to just tell you how magnificent this moisturiser smells. If you’re like me and love the typical spicy scents of Christmas, then this cream will be your best friend. It’s such an individual product since the scent of frankincense is rarely used in anything else other than fragrances and candles, which already makes me a fan before I’ve even tried it. 

Like the other creams I’ve reviewed during Blogmas from the Advent Calendars, it’s from a high end brand which means it’s formulated to the highest standard – and ultimately it absorbs into the skin beautifully without any residual greasiness to see or touch. So combining this quality with the wonderful scent, I’m a huge fan of Neal and his yard.

  
Onto Benefit and the Hoola gloss. If you’ve read my previous review of the Sugarbomb lip gloss again by Benefit you’ll already be aware of my dislike for lip gloss since its High maintenance, your hair gets stuck in it causing you to look like a bit of a wally and if you use too much, it gets gloopy and highly unattractive. Therefore I’ll always be a lipstick kind of girl. 

But it just shows you get what you pay for because a higher end brand puts a lot more effort into the formulation of their gloss which makes it a manageable consistency to wear, gorgeous to look at and easy to maintain throughout the day. Hoola reflects this point completely because I wore it today with pride and loved it. I love a nude lip colour so this gloss was perfect, with its golden colour and ever so slight shimmer. It also smells like toasted marshmallows, how awesome is that?! 

Okay another draw today since both products I received were absolutely flawless. Loved them both and will definitely be recommending them to anyone and everyone.