Lifestyle | New Year's Resolutions 2014 — How Did I Do?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Way back at the end of 2013, I made four resolutions for the New Year. I thought it'd be interesting to look back and see if I'd stuck to them, so here goes!

1. Write something every day, even if it's not much.
I've worked out that writing every day, although good in theory, doesn't always work for me. I tend to get more done if I seize the opportunity every time I'm feeling creative, and concentrate on copying up lecture notes, doing background reading, sorting personal admin, and organising whatever needs to be organised when I'm not particularly inspired but still want to get things done. Knowing this has made me more productive.
Achieved? No, but that's okay.

2. Continue to write my blog and improve it.
I feel like I've made a lot of changes to Toasty over the past year. New design, new posting schedule, new ethos (yay going cruelty free!) and a new attitude. I've been taking it all a lot more seriously, while still thoroughly enjoying everything about the blogging process, and I think it shows in my posts. Not everyone will agree, but I'm much happier with my blog than I was this time last year and I'm looking forward to continuing to work on it.
Achieved? Yes

3. Read Jane Austen's books.
Achieved? No. Sorry Jane.

4. Get work experience.
I did this, and I'm proud of myself, because I'm so bad at putting myself out there. I emailed Marnie, a ghost writer I know back home, and she went above and beyond to help me sort out some experience. I helped her plan a book launch and I helped with editing, and I also did a week at one of my local newspapers, which was really interesting (although I don't think journalism is for me). I did some guest blogging, and, on the advice of one of my tutors, contacted Buzz magazine and ended up writing a book review for them, which you can find on page 43 of their August issue. I got more done than I ever thought I would, which just shows that if you step out of your comfort zone you can get results.
Achieved? Yes    

Two and a half out of four ain't bad. I think, for me, the key with New Year's resolutions is to try and make them do-able. That doesn't mean they have to be unambitious, but breaking them down so that they're realistic is a lot less daunting and easier to stick to  if you remember them! I have to confess, I didn't always have them in mind, but that made it fun to look back and see what I'd written.

What do you think about New Year's Resolutions? Do you make them? Let me know in the comments! 

Jewellery | Me & Zena Midi Rings

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Me & Zena Birth Stone Midi Rings

These Me & Zena midi rings were a Christmas present from my aunt, and they're too cute not to share!

I love midi rings. Normal rings rarely fit me right — they're either too tight or too loose — whereas midi rings sit comfortably above my knuckles and feel much more secure. I also love how delicate they are. The odd statement necklace aside, I've never really been a fan of large jewellery. On other people, hell yes. On me? Not so much. I'm quite petite, so it can swamp me if I'm not careful.

I've always been drawn to the idea of birth stones, probably because mine is blue, my favourite colour. (A little superficial? Maybe!) I'm a March baby, which means my birth stone is aquamarine. The crystal on this ring is such a beautiful shade of blue, and although it doesn't really go with every colour in my wardrobe it's so petite that I don't think it matters.

I just have to mention the presentation, which apparently didn't cost any extra. The rings arrived in a cute velvet drawstring bag, which was stored inside a plastic case. I've kept them both, as it just makes storing them that much easier.

As this was a gift, I don't have any experience of customer service from Me & Zena, but my aunt did mention how quickly the parcel arrived. She ordered it one afternoon and it was there the next day, even though she only selected standard delivery. How good is that? I'll definitely be browsing the Me & Zena website in future, these rings are beautiful and I'm all for reliable service (who isn't?!)

You can find the Me & Zena website here

Lifestyle | Christmas Traditions

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


After all the anticipation, Christmas 2014 is nearly here! I'm so excited; we're having a massive family Christmas at my aunt's house, and I swear they've prepared enough food to feed an army. Far from being wasteful, this just mean we won't have to go food shopping until January, and having vol-au-vents for breakfast will suddenly become acceptable, if only for a few days. I never get to eat turkey at any other time of year, so I'll be enjoying all the Christmas sandwiches coming my way too. Here are some other traditions my family and I seem to have.

1. Watching all the Christmas cookery shows and drooling at the TV.
Nigella is our fave, but anyone who makes a mouthwatering Christmas dinner is alright by me.

2. Bopping along to the music on Top of the Pops 2.

Oh, Top of the Pops, how I miss you. It's not Christmas until the Wombles have wobbled awkwardly around the stage as they wish you a Wombling Merry Christmas, and it's not Christmas until my dad sheds his inhibitions and bellows Slade at the top of his lungs.

3. Getting up at the crack of dawn.

Okay, so for me the crack of dawn is 8am, but you get the picture. There have been years when we've been up earlier than the three children next door — their oldest is ten years younger than me. Usually, my brother wakes me up by singing 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' in a psychotic whisper, and then we wake up my parents. My dad is usually awake from about 5am, but not because he loves Christmas, he's just an earlybird (and a weirdo. Why would you get up at 5am voluntarily?!) The rest of us are a little more bleary-eyed, but we pad downstairs and open our presents regardless.

4. Croissants for breakfast!

With about five different types of jam, because we all like different ones. And orange juice in champagne glasses, because we like to pretend we're fancy while we sit around in our pyjamas.

5. Catching up with everyone.

I always used to get so excited about opening presents when I was little, but looking back it's the time I spent with my family that I treasure the most. They're not gonna be around forever, y'know? Since I've gone to uni, a new tradition has emerged. Aside from getting stuck into all the work I have to do (why do tutors think they're being generous by giving you deadlines after the holidays?) I tend to spend my Christmas holidays going out to eat with my friends and various family members. It's so much fun, and not just because I love food! Sitting down for an uninterrupted conversation with the people who matter most to me is a luxury.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! I think one of the best things about Christmas is that even though most of us do the same kind of things, they're all different in some way. No holiday celebration is exactly the same. 

What are some of your Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments, and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Lifestyle | Favourite Places to Eat and Drink

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cajun Chicken Burger and Fries from The Font, Fallowfield
Cajun Chicken Burger and Fries from The Font

I won't lie; eating is one of my favourite things, and I love nothing more than going out for a meal and catching up with my closest friends. I try and be healthy the majority of the time, but there's no way I'm not ordering the most calorific item on the menu if it's what I'm craving. Going out to eat and drink is a treat, not a regular thing, and I want to make the most of it. Here are some of my favourite places to go.

The prices for their cocktails start from £2 (my personal favourite is the Mudslide — Irish cream and dark chocolate syrup shaken with milk, topped with whipped cream and dusted with cocoa powder) and they also do really yummy food — their fries are the best I've ever eaten.

Friendly staff, chic decor, and the most incredible cocktail menu I've ever seen. They also do a foodgasm-worthy chocolate fudge cake (light sponge, warm chocolate sauce and actual fudge; it's heaven).

Quex Barn, Canterbury
For delicious, fresh food made from locally grown produce. Their sandwiches are always packed with fillings, and come served with enormous hot chips. My order is usually pork and apple sauce, but the sausage and red onion marmalade sandwich is also excellent.

Casual Mexican dining at its finest. The staff don't skimp on servings, which makes eating kind of messy, but that's all part of the fun. It's worth paying the extra £1 for the guacamole btw, the stuff is amazing.

Hidden in one of Cardiff's many arcades, Coffee Barker has all the drinks you'd expect from a coffee shop, plus a range of milkshakes that come served in enormous glass bottles. They sell homemade cakes too; I'm partial to the carrot cake.

Have you been to any of these? Where are your favourite places to go? Hit me with your recommendations in the comments!

In My Make-Up Bag | Christmas Make-Up

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Make Up

During December I find myself leaving all the autumnal bronze and berry shades behind (temporarily, of course) and reaching for warmer colours like red and gold. They're just so Christmassy, and if I can't wear a little bit of gold glitter at this time of year, when can I? Here are the products I've been reaching for.

My base takes less time than it used to, thanks to e.l.f.'s Mineral Foundation in Porcelain. It evens out my skin tone and reduces shine, so I don't need to use a separate powder. I dot Seventeen's Stay Time Concealer in Extra Fair on any blemishes and under my eyes to cover up those pesky dark circles.

For eyebrows, I'm relying on Topshop's Brow Pencil in Brown, which is still going after I bought it in early 2014. I'll probably have to replace it soon, but I'm pretty sure I said that last time and look where we are! I follow this with some of the powder from Seventeen's Brow Kit.

I find that brown liner is more flattering than black, particularly when the light at this time of year is so harsh, and e.l.f.'s Studio Cream Eyeliner in Coffee works a treat (it stays put for ages). How much I use depends on where I'm going — I keep it quite subtle during the day, whereas in the evening I really like to exaggerate that cat-eye flick. Sometimes I pop a dot of e.l.f.'s Mineral Eyeshadow in Celebrity on the inner corner of my eye to really wake them up. I finish all this with a coat or two of Urban Decay's Perversion Mascara, which adds both length and volume and never, ever smudges, but not before using Eyeko's Lash Curlers (not pictured) to really open up the eyes.

Christmas Make Up

I have officially come to the conclusion that cream blushes are my favourite. I think it's the combination of easy application, excellent pigmentation, and good staying power; it's everything you could want. Revlon's PhotoReady Cream Blush in Coral Reef~ looks terrifying in the pot but creates a very pretty flush when you blend it on the apples of your cheeks.

On my lips? Revlon Lipstick in Really Red~. This is my perfect matte red shade; I love it so much that I considered buying it in bulk before going cruelty free. Ultimately, I decided against this, since it would make me a massive hypocrite and, y'know, it's only a lipstick at the end of the day, but if anyone knows a good cruelty free dupe then please let me know!

For simple, festive nails, you can't beat Nails Inc Polish in St James, which is the perfect Christmas red.

I couldn't write this post without including The Body Shop's Glazed Apple Hand Cream — it smells absolutely divine (and, bizarrely, it isn't on the website). The Glazed Apple range has been all over the blogosphere so I won't go on too much but if you haven't tried it yet then pop into your local store and have a sniff, it's amazing.

So that's my festive face! What make up are you wearing this December? Are there any shades you're drawn to at this time of year? Let me know in the comments!

~ Purchased before I went cruelty free.

Tagged | The 1989 Tag

Friday, 12 December 2014


As I nearly always seem to, I found this tag on Jennie's blog and really liked it. I have a massive girl crush on Taylor Swift at the moment — I really like everything she says about being in love with, and taking control of your life (read this Buzzfeed article for more). One of my favourite quotes also comes from her: 'If you don't need a lipstick touch-up at some point, you're not really living.'

1. Welcome to New York. If you could live in any city, which would it be and why?
Right now I'm in love with Cardiff. I'm not too far from there, but it'd be lovely to just walk out the door and have a wander round whenever I fancied it. There are so many cities I'd love to live in though, London would be amazing as well.

2. Blank Space. What is something that everyone thinks is true about you but is actually false?
I think I probably come across as being bored or grumpy a lot of the time if people don't know me very well, but I'm actually just shy, plus I have resting bitch face so that doesn't help!

3. Style. What is one item in your closet that makes you feel unstoppable?
My favourite LBD. It's long-sleeved, short but not too short, body-con, and it has the most incredible beading along the arms and either side of the waist. It fits perfectly, and it always look good.

4. Out of the Woods. What is one thing that you're afraid of?
I'm afraid of a lot of things, but right now I'm scared that I'll leave university and drift around with no sense of purpose, or have some kind of purpose but be unable to get a relevant job.

5. All You Had To Do Was Stay. Who is someone you wish was still in your life?
My grandpa, who died in early 2013. It was a blessing in disguise really, because he was so ill, but sometimes I wish he'd lived to see me get my place at university. Christmas is weird without him; he always had so much fun with us at Christmas.

6. Shake It Off. What is something you have had to shake off?
Nerves! I'm such a worrier, and sometimes I just have to remember to breathe. Keep calm and carry on, and all of that.

7. I Wish You Would. What is something you'd like to happen right now?
I would love to get all my ideas for pieces of writing down on the page the way they are in my head, so that I can work on them and make them as good as they can be. I'd also quite like the back of my house to be fixed so that I don't wake up with a breeze wafting over my face every morning, it's too cold!

8. Bad Blood. Have you ever had someone stab you in the back?
Yes. Not fun.

9. Wildest Dreams. What would you like to be remembered for?
For living life on my own terms, making some kind of positive difference to the world, however big or small, and for writing something good.

10. How You Get The Girl. What is your favourite pick-up line?
I hate pick-up lines! Being able to have a natural conversation with someone without it being awkward or without me struggling to think of what to talk about is good, because it doesn't happen very often. 

11. This Love. What is something you got back that you never thought you would?
Over a year after I stopped taking ballet classes, I can finally do the splits again!

12. I Know Places. Where is one place you always feel safe?
My parents' house. It's nice to go back and have someone else cook and clean (although I still try and help with that when I'm there) and I always take full advantage of having access to a bath. Bring on the Lush bath bombs! 

13. Clean. What is an important lesson you have learned in life, and how did you learn it?
The people worth having in your life are the ones who always make the effort, no matter how much your lives change. I feel like I truly discovered the meaning of this when I moved away to attend university, and although it was a difficult lesson to learn it was an important one.

I tag you! If you've already done it then feel free to leave me your links in the comments!

Thoughts and Musings | Beauty and Feminism

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Femininity Is Not Anti-Feminist

I mentioned how much I love Sali Hughes' attitude towards beauty and feminism in my post about reading Pretty Honest, and today I'm going to devote an entire post to it.

Sali wrote a piece in November's Glamour called 'Brains. Equality. Lipstick.' and I pretty much agree with everything she says: the idea that if you're interested in beauty then you can't be a feminist is ridiculous.

What irritates me most is that it suggests a love of beauty dumbs you down.  How on earth does the fact that I like to buy make up, wear make up, and blog about make up have any bearing on my intelligence? Shockingly enough, it is possible for a person to have a range of interests, and if one of those things is beauty then so what?  

I am also irritated beyond belief by people who think that an interest in beauty means you aren't feminist enough. Really, what this idea suggests is that being feminine is something to be ashamed of; that kind of sexism is one of the many reasons we need feminism in the first place. I was under the impression that being a feminist means you believe in the social, political and economical equality of the sexes; why should my addiction to burgandy nail polishes exclude me from this movement? 

I think there are far more important things to be worrying about (Equal pay? Reproductive rights? Teaching young people about consent, instead of blaming the victim?) than whether a woman chooses to wear mascara or not. Some days I wear it and some days I don't, and it's nobody's business but mine, unless I decide to blog about it. That I'm able to choose what I want to put on my face is a victory in itself.

If you want to be bare-faced, then be bare-faced. If you want to wear red lipstick, then wear it. You want to pile on the eyeliner one day and then rock a statement lip the next? Go for it. Feminism is about having the choice.

Have you ever experienced any negativity about your love of make up? What are your thoughts about beauty and feminism? Let me know in the comments!

Getting Organised | Storing My Make-Up

Friday, 5 December 2014

I've mentioned what's in my make up bag quite a few times on this blog, but I've never really talked about how I store the rest of my cosmetics. I used to just keep them in the various make up bags I'd collected over the years, but that took up too much room, especially when the time came for me to pack up my life and head off to university. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with all my make up, until I remembered I'd kept the boxes from a couple of Models Own orders, just in case they were useful.

Storing My Eye Make Up
Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara~; Collection Extreme 24 Hour Felt Tip Liner; Max Factor Liquid Effect Pencil in Brown Blaze; No7 Shade & Define Pencils in Velvet Truffle and Cool Mink; Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Navy; Collection Fast Stroke Eyeliner in Black; The Body Shop Eyeshadow (discontinued); 17 Wild Metallic Eyeshadow in Wild Purple; Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Liner in Brown~; Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette in The Dolce Vita; Topshop Golden Aura Palette

And useful they have been! They're big enough for me to store everything neatly, but they're compact enough to store (and pack in a suitcase) without taking up too much space. The dream one day is to get some of those Muji drawers but it's just not practical at this point in time. I have to admit, once upon a time the amount of room in these boxes wouldn't have been adequate, but since I went on a spending ban and ending up streamlining my collection somewhat it's become the perfect size. 

Storing My Lip Products
Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon in Red Sunrise; Revlon ColourBurst Balm Stains in Lovesick~ and Crush~; Revlon ColourBurst Matte Balm in Elusive~; Revlon ColourBurst Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya~; Topshop Sheer Lips in Chuck; Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush in Coral Reef~; Clinique Chubby Sticks in Two Ton Tomato~ and Pudgy Peony~; Topshop Cream Blush in Head Over Heels; The Body Shop All In One Cheek Colour in Marshmellow; Revlon Super Lustrous Matte Lipstick in Really Red~; 17 Stay Pout Lipstick in Make An Entrance; Topshop Lips in Beguiled and Macaroon; L'oreal Collection Privee Lipstick in Julianne's Nude~; Bourjois Shine Edition Lipstick in Beige Democrachic; Benefit Posietint~ 

Not all of my make up is with me at uni, some of it is at home, but moving away has taught me that you don't need as much stuff as you think you do. I might even have a further clear-out after Christmas; I don't think there's any point holding on to products I no longer use (or those that have passed their expiry date). Then again, I often find myself keeping unusual shades of lipstick, 'just in case' I find myself presented with the perfect opportunity to wear them! You never know, do you?

How do you store your make up? Have you ever found yourself holding on to make up you rarely use? Let me know in the comments!

NOTD | Models Own Nail Polish in Purple Grey

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Models Own Purple Grey is one of those shades that sits quietly in my collection, and is quite often overlooked for something a bit, well, warmer. But it's perfect for the cold winter days and nights we're having at the moment, and I think it's a really interesting colour. Brown in some lights, grey in others, and at other times it's a rather wonderful shade I like to think of as murky purple. Purple Grey really comes into its own at this time of year, and I think it's a great alternative if you want to rock dark nails but are bored of all the black or burgandy polishes that are around during A/W (I love them, I really do, but sometimes it's nice to change it up).

What do you think? Do you own any colours like this? What are your favourite A/W shades that aren't the usual berry colours? Let me know in the comments!

Brand Focus | LUSH Hair Treats — Veganese Conditioner and R&B Hair Moisturiser

Friday, 28 November 2014

LUSH R&B and Veganese

Most people know Lush for their range of bath products — bath bombs, bath melts, bubble bars... you name it, they make it. Unfortunately, there isn't a bath in my house, so when I first wander into Lush at the beginning of this year it was in search of a shampoo. Since then, my love for the brand has grown, and I buy nearly all of my haircare products from them.

My latest trip to the Cardiff store was fuelled by the need for a new conditioner. Initially the assistant recommended American Cream, which I've heard is lovely, but I'm allergic to strawberries so I need to stay well away. The same thing happened with Retread, which contains melon (I have quite a severe melon allergy too). Luckily, Veganese is packed full of ingredients that I can use: lavender flower infusion, rosemary infusion, lemon oil, and lemon juice to name but a few.

I love Veganese. I have fine hair, so quite often conditioners can be too heavy, but this one is the perfect balance between light and nourishing, and it leaves my hair feeling smooth without weighing it down. It also doesn't go the other way and make it too frizzy and flyaway.

I was only looking for conditioner, but on hearing that I suffer from dry ends in winter the assistant immediately picked out the R&B Hair Moisturiser. She had similar hair to mine, and claimed that it had made a real difference to the ends of her hair. It's quite expensive, with prices starting at £11.50 for a 100g pot, and I didn't want to pay that much money for something when I didn't know whether it worked. Luckily, the assistant gave me a sample to take away and try, which I really appreciated, and even asked me to come back and let her know how I got on, whether I liked it or not. That is what I love about the staff in Lush — they're enthusiastic, but I've never felt pushed into buying anything.

Anyway, it turns out that R&B is amaaazing! It's very rich, so you need a teeny amount, but it really has been working wonders for my hair. It smells incredible too — very Christmassy. The ingredients include things like oat milk, extra virgin coconut oil, cold pressed jojoba oil, orange flower absolute and cupuacu butter, and I think the scent may be the jojoba coming through, but I'm not sure. All I know is that I'll be going back for a larger pot when my sample runs out!

Veganese Conditioner is available here and prices start at £4.50 for a 100g bottle.

R&B Hair Moisturiser is available here and prices start at £11.50 for 100g pot.

Have you tried any of Lush's hair products? What products of theirs do you swear by? Let me know in the comments!

Shopping With Cohorted | Urban Decay Perversion Mascara and Subversion Lash Primer

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Cohorted has been around for a while, and although I signed up a fair few months ago I'd never actually made a purchase until now. Quick catch up: products on Cohorted are known as cohorts. The more people choose to join a cohort, the lower the price becomes. You pay whatever the final price was before the cohort closed (they're only open for a certain amount of time). 

I was in need of a new mascara, and ended up paying £9.60 for Urban Decay's Perversion Mascara, which came with a trial sized Subversion Lash Primer. Perversion normally costs £17, and the full-sized Subversion costs £15, so I saved myself quite a bit of money!

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara and Subversion Primer (in Cohorted packaging)
My parcel arrived within a couple of days of being dispatched, and a lot of care had been put into wrapping it up. Top marks, Cohorted!

This is actually the first Urban Decay product I've tried, and I'm so impressed! One coat is perfect for a subtle daytime flutter, and two coats really add length and volume. What I love about this is that you can layer it up. Even if your first coat has dried and you decide you want to apply more, it doesn't clump. Word of warning: it takes a while to dry properly, so it's best not to apply it in a rush (I learned this the hard way. Wet mascara + a sneezing fit = an interesting look to say the least).

Once it's finally dried, the mascara stays put all day. Because it doesn't smudge, I have no qualms about applying this to my lower lashes, and it doesn't flake either, which is always a relief when you wear contacts!

L-R: Bare lashes; two coats of Perversion Mascara; one coat of Subversion Lash Primer + two coats of Perversion Mascara
Perversion is difficult — but not impossible — to remove. You need to hold a cotton pad soaked in a good make up remover over your eyes for a few seconds and then gently wipe away, and even then you might have to go back and repeat this. It doesn't really bother me, since the mascara stays put all day, but it's something to bear in mind if you prefer fuss-free cleansing at night.

Is it worth the money? Hmmmm, this is a tough one. On the one hand, there are high street mascaras that can do just as good a job. However, Perversion is amazing and has excellent staying power for a mascara that's not waterproof, so if you did choose to buy it I don't think you'd feel like it was a waste of money. On the contrary, it might become your new favourite; it's certainly become mine. As for Subversion? It's a nice extra but Perversion is so good that I'm not sure it makes much of a difference.

Perversion Mascara and Subversion Lash Primer are available from the Urban Decay website.

Review | No7 Shade & Define Pencils

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Until a few weeks ago, I was under the impression that Boots' own-brand products were not cruelty free. However, a blog post by Camila at Humanely Chic showed that Boots do not test their own-brand products on animals and do not sell them in China, which does in fact make them cruelty free after all. This is wonderful news - get me to Seventeen's matte lipsticks please!

No7 Stay Perfect Shade and Define Pencils

That said, No7 have been popping up in the blogosphere a lot more than they used to, and, from what I've heard, they really seem to have upped their game. I could have happily spent my money on several things on the stand but in the end I went for two of their Shade and Define Eye Pencils in Cool Mink and Velvet Truffle.

The pencils twist up, and come with a little sharpener in the base, which I thought was a nice touch. You can use the pencils as an eyeshadow or an eyeliner, but I think they work much better as eyeshadows. You literally just swipe the colour across your eyelid - job done. They're not quite sharp enough to work as liners; it's quite difficult to get close to the lashline, and they don't always smudge very well. However, I think this is because they set so quickly, and this reduces the amount of time you have to work with them.

No7 Stay Perfect Shade and Define Pencils in Cool Mink and Velvet Truffle (swatched)
Cool Mink (swatched); Velvet Truffle (swatched)

Pigmentation is excellent, and the shades are really beautiful  shimmery but not too glittery, which makes the neutrals ideal for daytime. Cool Mink, in particular, is a really good goes-with-everything shade. The range also includes shades such as Black Shimmer and Deep Purple, so there's something for evening too. I think my favourite thing about these pencils is the staying power  they last all day. I've worn them out in the rain and even once in the shower, and they just stay put; there's no smudging whatsoever. Definitely worth the purchase!

No7 Shade and Define Pencils cost £8 and are available from Boots.

Have you tried any of the Shade and Define pencils? Which colour is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Mini Haul | e.l.f.

Friday, 14 November 2014

You may remember my post about e.l.f. from a few weeks ago, in which I talked about the experience of getting my make up done at their Cardiff store. Fast forward a little bit and I've been having fun using the products I picked up that day.

Elf Mineral Foundation in Porcelain

Mineral Foundation (SPF 15) in Porcelain, £5.95
 I absolutely love that this contains SPF, as it's easy to forget about it at this time of year. The foundation gives a really light finish and coverage is buildable; it's the perfect multitasker too, as it removes the need for powder.

Mineral Eyeshadow in Celebrity, £3
The prettiest gold you ever did see. It's easy to apply and there's minimal fall out, although it does tend to fade a little throughout the day. Still, it's ideal for adding to the inner corners of the eyes to brighten them up and it works well layered over other eyeshadows too.

Elf Cream Eyeliner in Coffee

Cream Eyeliner in Coffee, £3.95
I love this liner! It's creamy, pigmented, and very long-lasting, and I've noticed that it works well when used in conjunction with eyeshadow. The deep brown shade is very flattering on pale skin.

Elf Lip Liner and Blending Brush in Wine

Lip Liner and Blending Brush in Wine, £3.95
A lovely berry shade that's perfect for A/W; I get complimented on this every time I wear it. It's not one to wear if you're going out for dinner, otherwise all the colour disappears from the middle of your lips and you get that horrible obvious liner look, but it survives if you're just sipping a drink. Nevertheless, I'd still make sure you had it in your bag for touch ups! I love the addition of the brush, as it really helps to blend in the liner and soften the edges.

Just in case you missed it  this is what it all looks like when worn together!

Have you tried any of these? What are your favourite e.l.f. products? Tell me in the comments, I'd love to know what I should look out for next!

What I'm Reading This Week #5 | Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion by Sali Hughes

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

Wow, it's been a while since I've done one of these posts! Totally worth the wait though, because today I'll be talking about the book that's got everyone in the beauty world gripped: Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes. I've read recommendation after recommendation, and for very good reason.

In a nutshell, Pretty Honest is a straightforward, no-bullshit beauty guide, covering everything you could possibly want to know. Topics include skincare, foundation, hair removal, red lipstick, hair, gifts, and getting the perfect manicure and pedicure, to name but a few. Seriously, there's something for every single scenario.

I love Sali's attitude towards beauty. Her 'Brains, Equality, Lipstick' post in the November issue of Glamour really struck a chord with me - there's nothing wrong with being a feminist who loves beauty products. This is a topic I feel really strongly about, and I'm planning to devote a separate post to it in the near future. Keep an eye out for it! 

Five of My Favourite Tips from Pretty Honest:

  • Cold water is the best (and the cheapest) toner you will ever use.
  • The easiest way to open up your eyes is to use eyelash curlers.
  • No product can get rid of cellulite, but a good body scrub can help to minimise its appearance.
  • Whatever your age and weight, exercise will work wonders for making you look better (it keeps muscles firm and helps with circulation).
  • If wearing red lipstick makes you feel self-conscious, try wearing it on three separate occasions. If you still feel uncomfortable after the third time then bin it; if not then you've found a shade that works for you!

If you love beauty and would appreciate some frank advice, then I urge you to read this book. I pretty much read my copy from cover to cover but you can also dip in and out as you please, depending on the subject you want to brush up on. Pretty Honest would make a great gift for a fellow beauty-lover too! It's available from Amazon, and at the time of writing the hardback version only costs £11.

Have you read Pretty Honest? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review | Percy & Reed Lovingly Light Foaming Treatment Mask

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Percy & Reed Lovingly Light Foaming Treatment Mask

The product I was most excited about receiving in September's Love Me Beauty box was this Foaming Treatment Mask by Percy & Reed. I've tried several of their hair products in the past, all with good results, so I had high hopes for this one. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed. 

The first time I tried the mask I used it all over my hair, including on the roots. Big mistake  they got greasy quickly. However, things changed when I used it on the mid-lengths to ends, and I found myself looking at my new favourite hair mask.

The mask is designed specifically for people who have fine, flat, and dry hair, so it's exactly what I needed. It's actually in mousse form, which means it's super-light, and it's easy to distribute through the hair. I followed the instructions on the can: you fill your palm with mousse, sweep a wide-toothed comb through it and then run it along the lengths of your hair so that every part gets coated. 

The best thing about this mask is that it doesn't weigh my ends down like so many other treatments do. Instead, it leaves my hair soft, moisturised and bouncy, and I've noticed that it stays that way for longer, right up until the next time I wash my hair. Plus, as with all Percy & Reed products, the scent is amazing!

Percy & Reed's Lovingly Light Foaming Treatment Mask costs £20 for 150ml and is available here.

A Makeover at e.l.f. Store Cardiff

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Make up products at Elf Store Cardiff

One of the many things I love about living near Cardiff is that the city is home to an e.l.f. store  the first (and, as far as I'm aware, only) e.l.f. store in Europe, in fact  and when they offered to book me in for a makeover* I couldn't refuse.

Everything in the store is set out so you can browse and swatch the products, and I've always found the staff to be very friendly and welcoming, without being pushy. This occasion was no exception ('You're Beth the blogger!')

It's been a long time since anyone has done my make up for me, but Antonia made me feel very relaxed, and asked me what I wanted. Since it's Autumn, I decided on berry lips, and jumped at her suggestion of winged eyeliner to go with it.

Eye Mineral Eyeshadow in Celebrity; Elf Mineral Foundation in Porcelain

She started with base. The first foundation, a liquid one, was too dark, but the mineral one was spot on (and meant I didn't need a separate powder). Antonia concealed the skin under my eyes, filled in my brows, and then used a light shade of bronzer for contouring. A fairly neutral shade of blush was popped on the apples of my cheeks, and cream highlighter was applied along my cheekbones and the centre of my face.  

Antonia used cream liner to apply the best cat-eye flick ever, which I have yet to recreate myself. I went for brown, as black can sometimes be too harsh in the day, especially with a dark lip. She added a pop of gold mineral eyeshadow to the inner corners, which I wouldn't have thought of doing but loved, so much so that I bought the eyeshadow afterwards. A couple of coats of mascara and my eye make up was complete.

Elf Cream Eyeliner in Coffee; Elf Lip Liner and Blending Brush in Wine

My lips were defined with Lip Liner in Wine, a beautiful berry shade which comes with a blending brush on the end. Red lipstick was layered over the top for the finishing touch. I usually wear lighter shades, as darker ones can sometimes look a little gothic, but this didn't wash me out at all, and when I went to the hairdressers later that day they loved it.

I absolutely love this look. Lots of people in the store commented on how vintage-looking it was, and although it's more glamorous than the make up I'd normally wear during the day I'll be trying it again for sure. If you're ever in Cardiff then I really recommend a visit to the store, whether you want to buy some products, have your make-up done, or just enjoy browsing.

I couldn't resist buying some of the products that were used to create the look, and walked out of the store with:
  • Mineral Eyeshadow in Celebrity, £3
  • Mineral Foundation (SPF 15) in Porcelain, £5.95
  • Cream Eyeliner in Coffee, £3.95
  • Lip Liner & Blending Brush in Wine, £3.95

*Makeovers at e.l.f. Store Cardiff cost £20, which is redeemable against products. My makeover was provided for free, but I purchased some of the products afterwards (there was no obligation to do so).

In My Make-Up Bag | October 2014

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

I always find myself reaching for more make up once autumn arrives  there's something really comforting about it, although I'm not sure why. Possibly because A/W make up is more my thing than S/S? I get way more excited about coppery eyes and berry lips than I do about bronzer. Anyway, I thought I'd share my current routine with you; enjoy!

I've mentioned this before, and I know it's outside the norm, but I always apply my eye make up first. I tend to make mistakes if I'm in a rush, so this way I don't have to start from scratch and do my base again if I mess up.

I start by filling in my brows. Topshop Brow Pencil is a really good cool-toned brown; I use it every day without fail, and although I've had it for six months it's still going strong. I like use my Slanted Brush from The Body Shop to apply a little bit of Seventeen's brow powder for a stronger look, as I think that defined eyebrows really frame the face.

Charlotte Tilbury Eyeshadow Palette in Dolce Vita

The next step is curling my lashes  I use eyelash curlers from Models Own to do this. My current pair are on their last legs but I plan to repurchase; they create a really pretty curl.

Like many of you, I'm obsessed with Charlotte Tilbury's Dolce Vita palette. I wasn't really using the Enhance shade over the summer, but now it's colder I am all over it; it's such an autumnal colour. I buff the powder into the upper lashline and then swirl it into the crease. When the weather's bad, as it usually is here, I tend to only apply mascara to my upper lashes to avoid panda eyes. I'm still loving Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara.

At long last: base. I'm still using a tube of The Porefessional~, which was a pre-cruelty free purchase, but after it runs out I'll be on the lookout for something new. Hit me with your recommendations in the comments! Next, my trusty GOSH CC Cream, which gives light, natural-looking coverage and is perfect for pale girls. I apply it using the Real Techniques Pointed Foundation Brush. I used to hate using a brush for foundation, but this one is so good at getting into all the little crevices round the nose and eye area that I've put my sponge aside. My current concealer is Seventeen's Stay Time Concealer, which works equally well under the eyes and on blemishes, and lasts for hours.

I've only recently learned how to contour my cheekbones: I use the Real Techniques Contour Brush with the matte shade of Soap & Glory's Solar Powder to add some subtle definition. Blush wise, I still have a place in my heart (and my make up bag) for The Body Shop's All-In-One Cheek Colour in Marshmellow. Although it's a scary pink in the pan, it's actually quite natural on skin (and can be built up if you want a stronger look). I use the Real Techniques Blush Brush to gently swirl it on the apples of my cheeks.

Bourjois Shine Edition Lipstick in Beige Democrachic

Lipstick wise, I can't get enough of Bourjois Shine Edition Lipstick in Beige Democrahic. I have to admit, it's not a shade I would have picked myself. In the bullet it looks pretty beige but on lips it's actually a beautiful nude pink. It's slightly glossier than I'm used to, but in a shiny and glowy way, not a sticky one. I am in love.

Lastly, to set everything, I use the Elf Studio Stipple Brush to dust The Body Shop All In One Face Base in 03 over my skin, concentrating on the t-zone.

I hope you enjoyed reading through my routine! Have you tried any of these products? How does your make up change in autumn? Let me know in the comments!
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