Saturday, August 31, 2013

NOTD: Inspired By....A Sock? Plus, #SBBC!

Hi!

Nail art inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes I see a pattern or design on an everyday object and I think - I need that on my nails, NOW.

This happened recently when I bought these awesome cartoon-print socks in Penneys:


I knew I wanted to do a version of this as a nail design. I dug the following polishes out:


I gave all my nails a couple of coats of Zoya Carey, and did this:




It's not 100% neat & crisp, but it looked fine in reality and it cheered my nails up no end! Have you ever been inspired by anything as ridiculous as a sock?

Now - I want to talk about the #SBBC - or September Beauty Blog Challenge. It's a fab idea created by the lovely Girl Friday, and you can read her post about it here. There are a list of 30 beauty prompts and 30 lifestyle prompts, and the idea is to pick one or the other (or both, or neither) to blog about every day for the duration of September. You can then share your post on twitter using the #SBBC tag and read what all the other participants have come up with. It starts tomorrow, everyone is welcome, and I can't wait to see all the posts.

I also have a giveaway running at the minute - due to postal restrictions & costs it's only open to residents in ROI, but have a look if you fancy winning a generous supply of the brand new Water Wipes Sensitive Facial Wipes.




Friday, August 30, 2013

New! Water Wipes Sensitive Facial Wipes + Giveaway

Disclaimer - product provided for trial at my own convenience. Opinions & words 100% mine. If I thought it was bad, I'd tell you. Promise.

Hi!

If you're a parent, or a fan of wipes in general, then you're more than likely already familiar with Water Wipes.



Branded the world's purest wipe, they contain 99.9% water and 100% natural ingredients. They've been a favourite in our house since I saw them stocked locally - I have a pack in the car at all times. When I had my son in 2004, it was stressful enough being a new first-time parent without having to start messing around with cotton wool. Water wipes would have been an absolute godsend. I have a pack in my hospital bag for this time around, and judging by any parenting forum I visit, they're one of the first items people pick up for new babies.

Water wipes have recently branched out to include a sensitive facial wipe, containing sea mineral extract. They're sure to follow in the successful footsteps of the original wipes - already, they've become the official sponsor of Stepping Out, the new Saturday evening ITV dance show.


They're fragrance free, alcohol free, and are suitable for daily use. The claims on the pack are threefold - that they won't dry out skin, they won't sting, and they're effective at makeup removal. So, are they any good?

I've been trialling these for a while now, and I really do like them a lot. I know some people are dubious about using wipes, but they're still a hugely popular product and handy to have. Given the fact that I'm 8 months pregnant with twins (bet you'll all be glad when I have them so that I can stop talking about it) and my energy is wavering between sloth and slug, I've been really thankful for the existence of a good thick wipe that feels lovely & fresh and does everything it promises to do. I've actually kept a second packet in the fridge just so that I have something lovely & cool to use when it gets hot (or I overheat) - they're seriously refreshing. They're also a generous size and not flimsy.


The facial wipes come in packs of 24, but one is more than enough to get rid of a face full of makeup. They definitely didn't sting, nor did they dry my skin out -  I'm prone to dry skin and I've had no problems whatsoever after weeks of use. A bit of moisturiser or serum afterwards and Bob's your Uncle - I know it's no substitute for a "proper" skincare routine but in fairness isn't it better than going to bed with your makeup on?

The people at Water Wipes have kindly offered one of you a chance to try these for yourself - you don't have to be a follower of this blog to enter, but you DO have to be resident in the Republic of Ireland. For a chance to win a very generous supply of Water Wipes Sensitive Facial Wipes, you need to do two things:

1. Like the brand new Water Wipes Facial Wipes facebook page here.
2. Leave a blog post comment telling me you've liked the page and some way to contact you if you win (e-mail, twitter handle, etc).

That's it! I'll keep this giveaway until September 9th, so make sure and check back to see if you're a winner.  

You can buy Water Wipes products in Dunnes, Tesco and Super Valu.


EDIT: I used random.org to draw a winner from the comments, and that winner is The Skinny Doll. Congratulations and thanks all for entering! x





Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NOTD: Back to School

Hi!

Have you ever been surprised by something you'd done? These were the nails I did for back to school last year:


The surprising thing about these was that I don't like them, but they're one of my most repinned manis on Pinterest. I have no idea why - looking at them almost a year after I've done them, I definitely wouldn't wear them again. This year, I was a lot happier with what I came up with.


I started off with a base of white, and drew some blue & red lines on with a striping brush. For the index finger, I used an orange/yellow base, a pinky/orange tip, and a stripe of silver in the middle to look like a pencil. I added some borders using a darker silver, and some doodles to the 'page' nails with a small nail art brush.




I'm really happy with how they turned out - and also that they earned a place in the August/September issue of Nail Art Gallery Magazine!


My nail art mojo still hasn't completely returned, but bear with me, I have a few things in the pipeline. Also, don't forget to enter my Asos giveaway in conjunction with ao.com - click the picture in the sidebar to enter!




Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Etsy Purchase: Glimmer by Erica Twilight Sky.

Hi!

After a lot of internal debate, I finally decided to include Etsy when I browse the net for nail polish. I've been a fan of all the Indie polish & jewellery makers on there for a while, but I'd never actually gone and ordered something. I've no idea why I was so wary of it - it's much easier and cheaper for me to order directly from nail polish makers than it is to order through one of the big websites that ship Indies internationally.

I went for Glimmer By Erica, mainly because of the gorgeous swatches in her shop. The one I chose was called Twilight Sky.




To be 100% honest, I wasn't blown away by this when it arrived in the post. I thought I'd just been a bit of an eejit and spend too much on yet another glitter. I said I'd give it a bash anyway, went against all my black/green/blue instincts, and decided to put it over a light polish. I used O.P.I's My Vampire is Buff and two coats (one would suffice) of Twilight Sky.




I was a lot happier with it when I applied it - the glitter didn't curl, it was super sparkly, and really easy to apply. The brush was loaded with glitter and there was no digging for sparkle. Every polish Erica makes is 3-free, cruelty free, and hand mixed to order. It's easy to apply, dries quick, and lasts ages. This is only my second ever Indie polish and I can see why people get addicted to them. The polish contains various sizes of purple, blue, and orange glitter (it was the orange that attracted me to it) - and it would look equally gorgeous over any of those colours.




It lasted ages before I wanted to change my polish - I applied it on Saturday morning around 8am, added one coat of Poshe, and here's how it looked the following Wednesday afternoon:


There was just that one chip on the corner of my little nail, that was easily rectified with some more glitter on top of it.

It's super sparkly, but I've a feeling it's going to look amazing over a dark purple, with a matte topcoat. In fact.....

Base Colour: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Plum Luck
Purchase completely justified.




I currently have a giveaway running to win a £40 voucher for Asos.com - it's open worldwide, you can enter here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Dark Water by Helen Moorhouse

Hi!

I did it! I finally finished a book! My reading mojo has flown out the window over the past few months, I just could not concentrate. It turned out my iron levels were quite low, which may explain it - but I managed to get through this.

I wrote a review of Helen's first book The Dead Summer here last year - I loved it. I found it a really good ghost story and as I said at the time, it completely reeled me in. This one - not so much.

Image: Easons.com
First of all, let's get the back cover out of the way:

Martha Armstrong has started again - new city, new home, new future. Yet she's troubled by her partner Will's obsession with the paranormal and an unwelcome face from her past. Troubles which threaten the happiness she thought she had found.

Her friend Gabriel McKenzie, a psychic medium, is troubled too - disturbed by ghosts he suddenly cannot see and haunted by ones he can't escape. Who is the strange intruder that leaves him mysterious messages in his apartment and watches him sleep at night?

So when a desperate call for help comes for Gabriel, Martha and Will make a decision to help him - a decision that takes them North, to the bleak Highland beauty of Dubhglas Castle and its lake, where mysterious occurrences are terrifying the staff. Could they be connected to Gabriel's nocturnal visitor and, worse still, to the powerful spirit of the brutal Jack Ball?

Together, they uncover the secret that shattered Gabriel's family and split a young couple apart, fifty years before.

Is it always best to uncover the past, or are some secrets best left lying in the Dark Water?

I hate doing negative reviews because I understand how long it takes to write a novel, and how passionate writers can feel about their characters. But I really, really didn't like this book at all. I found it a complete let down after the first novel.

It seems very cobbled together - there's too much going on. There's the stuff going on between Martha & Will, Martha & her ex, Dan, then Martha & her friend Sue (who is completely irrelevant), then Martha & her daughter Ruby who only really becomes important towards the end, then there's the feud between Will & Gabriel that is miraculously cured in no time, then there's a whole host of characters from the past - Claire, Martin, Jack, Laurence - enough. Seriously.

It had the makings of a great horror - the first few chapters suggested a really creepy haunting that needed to be investigated, but it took a horrendously boring turn after a couple of chapters and to be honest I struggled to pick it up. I've actually been saving it for when I'm sitting in waiting rooms and I need to pass the time, I couldn't bring myself to pick it up at home. Martha is not likeable, and by the time I got to the end I couldn't have cared less whether she came away unscathed or not.

The "baddie" of the piece wasn't remotely scary, and to bring the Krays into it felt completely out of place and a poor attempt at linking him to some well-known "bad" people. The final elimination of the baddie was rushed, nonsensical, and ridiculous. As was Dan's exit. One minute he's there all guns blazing and the next minute he's gone like a rocket?! What?!

I couldn't understand why Will was even still speaking to Martha by the end of it, to be honest. You can do much better, Will, seriously. She's a pain in the hoop. No doubt a wedding will feature in the next installment, with irritating best friend Sue in bridesmaid mode and adorable daughter Ruby all flowergirl-ed up. While I'm on the subject of Sue - why was she even there?! At one point I thought she was just brought in as a partner for Gabriel, but she was completely surplus to requirements in every scene she was in.

Considering Gabriel was pretty much central to the story, he didn't get much attention at all. I could have done with more Gabriel and less Martha. Much less Martha. The "twist" at the end where Gabriel speculates about Martha is laughable. I just hope to god that this doesn't mean the next book will also feature the same characters.

I hate to be horrible, but if you're expecting another novel as good as The Dead Summer, just approach this with an open mind. Maybe it's me, maybe I just don't have the patience, but I doubt it - very, very disappointed with this book overall.

I will read the next book, Sing Me To Sleep, but I'll be reading it on the back of how much I enjoyed the first book.

I'll be donating this one to the library.





Monday, August 19, 2013

DIY Makeup Removal Mitt

Hi!

I know there are a few different brands of makeup removal mitts on the market between here and the U.S, I don't want to mention any in particular because a) this isn't about slating other brands, and b) I'm sure most of you are aware of a few anyway.

All that aside, I wanted to try one but I didn't have €15 odd quid to spend on something I wasn't sure I'd actually use. I looked into a few different ones and realised they all pretty much had one thing in common - they were all microfibre cloths.

Bearing that in mind, I bought a large microfibre cloth on eBay for a couple of euro. The seller I used doesn't have any more, but you can get a pack of three here for less than €4 including postage - or pick one up in Dealz/any euro shop.

I cut mine in half, and folded it.


Then, I sewed up both long sides, leaving the bottom one open.


When that was done, I turned it inside out, and voila - a mitt.


The question is, did it remove every trace of makeup with just water? (I am NOT making this picture extra large):


Yes, it did. Every single trace of makeup was wiped off with just the cloth and water. I forgot to take a before pic, but here's the evidence:


Foundation, mascara, eyebrow powder, eyeshadow - the whole lot came off without hassle. It washed easily with a bit of soap & water, and I hung it up to dry (tip - to dry makeup or tan mitts, wash them, squeeze all water out, then hang them from bags/coathangers with hairclips)


I don't think I'll be using it every single day but it's definitely handy for times when I just haven't the energy to do the whole cleansing thing. I'm glad I didn't splurge on a "proper" one, I don't think I'd use it enough to justify a higher price tag.


Just a reminder, I currently have a giveaway to win a £40 voucher for asos.com - it's open internationally, so go have a gamble if you'd like to be in with a chance to win. Click here to go to the post.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Treat: Win a £40 ASOS Voucher!

Hi!



It's Friday (oh hai Rebbeca Black earworm) - so that means a treat. I'm teaming up with the lovely people at ao.com (the new name for Appliances Online) to offer a great prize to one person - a £40 voucher for you to spend on ASOS.com however you please.

Read this bit! I'm opening this to readers worldwide - but it's up to you to make sure and check that Asos are able to deliver whatever you order to your particular country. I take no responsibility if they are unable to deliver your item of choice. Also, If you're ordering from outside the UK, just make sure you change the currency on the site to GBP (as your voucher will be issued to you in Sterling) and you're good to go (and in some cases, taking advantage of a better exchange rate, cha-ching).

I've chosen 5 really cool items that I'd buy if I had £40 to spend on ASOS (they didn't ask me to do this part, I just really really like virtually spending imaginary cash) - also, in the interest of full disclosure, ao.com have offered me a £20 voucher for myself as a thank you for hosting the giveaway.

All images found on www.asos.com

You could get this much lusted-after Penneys jacket for £22 and still have change over for a really cute Ted Baker notebook or a deadly tartan scarf:


Or, you could pick up this really cute New Look bag for just under £20 and spend the rest on makeup (or pick another one up for a friend):


If jackets & bags don't wow you, how about some boots? These ones from New Look cost just under £30.


My favourite part of Asos is the beauty section - with a £40 voucher you could pick up this gorgeous Illamasqua eyeshadow palette for £34 and still have enough change for a nail polish:


Or, you could grab this Elephant Cuff for £25.


Asos also cater for men, so please feel free to enter if you're a man, or you want to treat your menfolk to something nice.

I have only two conditions - you must follow this blog via either GFC or Bloglovin' (links over there on the menu on the right), and you must provide me with a valid e-mail address via the Rafflecopter widget below. You can get an extra entry by leaving a blog post comment but it's entirely up to you. The giveaway will close in 2 weeks from today, August 30th. False or incorrect entries will not be counted.

Go forth and virtually spend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tested: Sure Women Maximum Protection Everyday Fresh

The product featured in this post was provided free of charge. Opinions are 100% mine.


New on the market is this latest invention from Sure - it's a 48h Anti-Perspirant Deodorant that claims to be.. well, bloody good. It suggests applying this cream-formula Deodorant before bed, so that the formula builds a strong level of protection overnight. It claims that the protection lasts throughout the following day, even after a shower.

I'm not a huge sweater on a normal day, but when I get stressed or I have to rush around, I do find myself in need of a clean top - totally wasn't going to write that sentence, but I'm only being honest. I've often had to change my top after a go around Tesco - given that I'm currently carrying about 3 extra stone on my front, I do overheat really quickly. One situation I also get a bit hot & bothered in is when I've a hospital or clinic appointment and am stuck in a stuffy waiting room for hours. I had an appointment yesterday evening so I decided to put this to the test.

First, here's a look at the consistency:


It applied smoothly to underarms & didn't leave a white mark on my clothes. I put it on after my shower yesterday morning, and left for my appointment at 2pm. I'm going to go into far too much information about sweaty pits here, so you can skip this next bit if it makes you uncomfortable.

9am: Applied.
By 2pm: I was still fresh as a daisy.
By 3pm: I was now in the waiting room about 10 minutes, had rushed to the Credit Union & Post Office, and was still fresh.
By 4pm: Still sitting in the waiting room, slightly stuffy but not sweaty (as an aside, whoever decided to put a smoking area right in front of the open windows of the ante-natal waiting room should be shot).
By 5pm: Bloods done, back to waiting room. This product claimed to have maximum wetness protection, but in all honesty my underarm area was starting to feel a tiny, tiny bit hot. Not damp or clammy, and still smelled fresh.
By 6pm: Finally finished. Not one iota of sweat on my top, although it did feel ever so slightly hot to the touch - not damp enough to be uncomfortable or make a sweat patch.
By 8pm: Still not sweaty. I asked my husband to smell my top. Yep, I went there. He said it smelled lovely and said he'd use it himself.

There you go! I was actually amazed that it worked as well as it did. I can't give any weight to the 48h claim because I had another shower last night to get rid of the half ton of scan gel the consultant threw on me (the stuff was EVERYWHERE).

I've popped this one in the bathroom to use after showering, and I'm going to buy another one tomorrow to pop into my hospital bag. If you tend to sweat when you get flustered like I do, then this is definitely something you will get benefit from. I don't think I'd be bothered with a spray again, to be honest.

I just checked the Tesco website and it's coming up as €6.99, but keep an eye out in chemists, you may find a better price. The fragrance I got to try was 'Everyday Fresh', but it's also available in 'Clean Scent'.





Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sample Storage Solutions featuring Roger & Gallet!

Hi!

I love signing up for samples. Nappy cream, perfume, teabags - whatever. I went through a phase of signing up to every freebie forum I could find, until the novelty wore off and I just picked the ones I really wanted.
Recently, I signed up for some lovely 3-in-1 Roger & Gallet samples (which, I may add, came in the most gorgeous packaging ever!).

Included was a tiny little spray of Fleur de Figuier perfume, along with two 10ml sample sachets of body lotion and shower cream.


I forgot to take pictures of the whole lot together, but I've devoured the perfume - it's absolutely gorgeous and so different to anything else I own. I got so many comments on it, it was unreal. It's gone straight onto my wish list. I've saved the shower cream for another time, but what inspired this post was the body lotion.

I treated myself to a full-sized Lait des Bienfaits (I have no idea how to pronounce that, in my head I call it Lady BeyoncĂ©) body lotion a while ago. At €14.95 a pop, it's not something I can afford to repurchase on a whim, so I've been trying to make it last. The same went for the Fleur de Figeur sample. The sachet contained a very generous 10ml, and I fell in love with the fragrance immediately. There's no way in hell I can justify another €15 on lotion with two babies imminent, so I wanted to save this and use it sparingly. How the hell do you save a sachet that's been opened?

Like this.


I bought this little set of 12 empty pots on eBay here a while ago for the very silly price of €1.39. They took about two weeks to arrive from China. Initially, I bought them with the intention of storing nail art supplies, but I realised they'd be ideal for makeup.

I got three little tubs full of the lovely body lotion from the one sample - a little goes a very long way when using Roger & Gallet products, there's no need to lash them on. I use this on my arms after a shower when I feel like I want a luxurious treat - I've used it about 3 times now and I still have two full pots.

These storage pots would also be really handy if you want to test a foundation at home - I can't imagine many pharmacies having a problem if you asked to put a few pumps of a particular foundation or cream into one of these pots so you could test it over a day and see how your skin reacted to it.

They'd also be handy if you were going away for a night and wanted to take some hand/eye cream, you'd easily get one or two goes from one little pot. You could fit more than enough Argan Oil for one treatment into one too.




*** Not a sponsored post, just love the idea of being able to hang on to samples a little bit longer!***

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ali Mac Cleansing Melt & Serum

The items in this post were provided free of charge, but opinions are 100% mine.

Hi!

It's not often I do a skincare post here, and that's the main reason why I don't always request samples when they're offered to me - I'm not really the type of person who knows a whole lot about various ranges and brands.

When I was asked if I'd like to try some items from organic skincare brand Ali Mac, I had a look at the website (in truth I sat poring over the ingredients in everything for about an hour) and decided to go for it and try two products - a cleansing melt and a serum. I really like what creator Alison Macintosh stands for - finding an alternative way to look after your skin and stepping away from chemical-laden products.


All the products on the site are made with organic & natural ingredients, are free from parabens, and are not tested on animals. They don't contain any synthetic colourants or fragrances, and are also free from silicones & phtalates.

I wanted to test these over a period of time, and I've been using them for about a month now. I'll go through each one separately for you.

First up, I chose the Camellia Cleansing Melt (available here).




The packaging is really simple and sturdy, and you can see from the consistency that there are no added colours. The one thing I did not like about this was the scent - I'd never smelled Camellia before and the first time I used it it almost took my breath away, I couldn't get to grips with it for ages and it actually put me off using it. I persevered with it, and it's actually not bad once you get used to it - it's definitely a very natural scent. If it sounds like it's not your cup of tea, there are other scents available, including Chamomile and Rose.

I used a little blob of this at night after taking my makeup off, massaged it into my face and left it for about 10 minutes, then I removed it with a cloth soaked in warm water. It definitely left my skin feeling softer and got rid of the tight feeling I get with some cleansers. It also didn't feel in any way harsh, it felt like I was nourishing my skin every time I used it. I would purchase this again, but I'd probably go for a different scent the next time.

It costs just under €25 for a 50g pot but I'm not even half way down through it yet and as I said, I've been using it for over a month.

On to the serum - I chose the Chamomile Anti-Oxidant Face Serum.




This is available to purchase here. It's a restorative treatment serum (Nature's Botox, apparently) rich in Chamomile, Rosehip, Jojoba & Avocado. This scent and I got along much better, it's really fresh and clean. I used a couple of drops of this every night after using the cleansing melt and it's an absolute joy to rub it into the skin. I have suffered with dry patches around my nose for years - pregnancy has made no difference - but after a month of using the two products, my skin looks bright and clear in the morning. Even with the recent spell of hot weather, my hair and lips have been looking a bit worse for wear but the skin hasn't dried out on my face at all. While the cleansing balm makes me feel like every bit of muck is off my face, I'm completely crediting the serum with the improvement in my skin in general. A little goes a long way though - I loaded too much on the first time and felt a bit oily. 2-3 drops is plenty.

I love this product, and I'm still using it religiously. It costs just over €40 for 30ml, which is pricey enough, but again - I'm nowhere near a quarter of the way through it after a month of use. It's also available in different variations.

Ali Mac also cater for male skin and babies, their "New Baby" gift set is something I'd definitely consider buying when the twins come along. There are a wide range of products available on the website, and all the ingredients and benefits are listed on the individual item page.

Ali Mac are so confident in their brand that they also offer a money back guarantee - if you're not happy with your skincare purchases, they will refund your purchase price within 30 days of your order (minus postage).

It's always nice to find another natural brand, and I'm really thankful for the opportunity to try these products. I'll definitely be back.

You can find more info by following Ali Mac on twitter here or facebook here.