Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Photography: Polaroid Optics 4 Piece Close Up Filter Set


Polaroid Optics 4 Piece Close Up Filter Set


Last week when I attended The Body Shop at Home Event (you can read my post about it here) we were given a mini-masterclass in blog photography by the incredibly knowledgeable Stuart from Dreghorn Photography.  He broke down the basics such as lighting and using camera settings. He also introduced us to macro lenses. This was new to me and pretty damn revolutionary! Myself and other bloggers were under the impression that you’d need a very expensive lens to get closer to what you’re photographing. I’m so pleased to say I was very wrong about that!


I think there’s a general consensus that you have to invest in an expensive kit to get great photography. While it’s entirely up to you how much you want to spend and if you do want the best go for it but I think you can also do it relatively cheaply. I do love photography and by far the most expensive things I have are my camera and lens. I’m currently using an Olympus Pen E-LP7 with the 45mm lens which is well worth investing in for your blog photography, or your photography in general. This lens will you give you beautiful depth that the kit lens can’t do. I don’t use specialist lighting or expensive Photoshop. I’m lucky that I have a nice big window that lets in a decent enough amount of light. I am going to do another post soon about my full set-up and how I take photos.





As soon as I got home from the event I had a look on Amazon where I came across these rather nifty Polaroid 4-Piece Close Up Camera Lens Filter Kit. The lenses come in +1,+2, +4 and +10. Each lens lets you get increasingly closer to the subject while still keeping everything in focus. Genius. They come in different sizes to fit different lenses. My camera lens is 37 but they’re also available for lots of other sizes.

The lenses are incredibly well made and easily screw on and off the camera lens. They also come in a protective pouch that’s small enough to be carried about in a bag. 


Polaroid Optics 4 Piece Close Up Filter Set

Polaroid Optics 4 Piece Close Up Filter Set


In the top nail polish photo I’m using my camera without the macro lens. This is as close I can get to the subject without my camera going crazy trying to focus. In the one below it I’m using the +2. I can get much closer to the subject before losing focus.






In the first picture of the small wind-up cat toy (which is about 3 or 4 cm long and roughly 2 cm high) I’m using the +4 and I can get in really close without losing focus. The blurring effects is due to me using 1.8 aperture. In the one below I’m using the +10 macro lens and this gets in super close. This was a bit tricky initially as I’m not used to shooting so close up but if you love taking macro shots of small things this is absolutely brilliant.


The Polaroid 4-Piece Close Up Camera Lens Filter Kit is a brilliant and effective (and budget!) way of creating macro photography. For beauty bloggers it really lets you get close to the products, so for swatches it’s just excellent. I really rate these, they’re going to make a big difference to my photography.


Have you tried these?




*Contains Affiliated Links
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Monday, 28 March 2016

The Body Shop At Home Bloggers' Event





Last Sunday I was very kindly invited along to The Body Shop At Home Bloggers’ Event arranged by Talented Talkers. I spent the afternoon with some amazing fellow bloggers, we were treated to afternoon tea while learning about The Body Shop at Home and their products as well as some incredibly useful photography tips from Dreghorn Photography





Do you know about The Body Shop at Home? I wasn’t aware of it but it’s been going for absolutely ages. I suppose it’s similar to Avon or Ann Summers, you can become a consultant or host parties at home. It seems like a very flexible way of earning an income if, for whatever reason, you can’t do a normal 9-5. Also, it let’s people try out Body Shop products from the comfort of their homes. You can find out more here.





As well as covering this Claire from The Body Shop gave us an overview of the ranges available from The Body Shop. The Body Shop are currently changing all their packaging over to a more classic apothecary style design which I absolutely love. If you haven’t used The Body Shop for a while I really recommend you revisit them. They have some absolutely amazing ranges- old and new- to rival some of the more expensive skincare brands.





Currently I’m loving the Vitamin C range, which is a longstanding favourite of mine and I think I’m going to do a post about this soon. Also the newer Oils of Life and Drops of Youth ranges are excellent if your skin is needing a bit more TLC or is showing the first signs of ageing. The great thing about The Body Shop is that it has something for everyone and for most budgets. So well worth a look. 




Finally was the incredibly useful Stuart from Dreghorn Photography. He gave a mini-masterclass in blog photography. I’ll be forever grateful to him for introducing me to macro lenses (I’m going to do a post soon about the Polaroid ones I’m currently using). Do check his blog out for classes etc here 


Also The Body Shop have an amazing 40% of everything and that includes their sale stuff. I've already stocked up in a few things.



Did you know about The Body Shop At Home?



*Contains Affiliated Links

This is NOT a Sponsored post.

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Friday, 25 March 2016

Hylamide HA Blur- The Innovative Blurring Product You Need To Try





Hylamide is part of the very exciting Deciem- The Abnormal Beauty Company. The same company that owns Niod who released the Photography Fluid that everyone went nuts for recently. Deciem are really pushing the boundaries with their skincare and beauty products. They use cutting edge, innovative technologies at mostly very reasonable prices. 


This innovative approach can be seen in their new Hylamide HA Blur Hyaluronic- based Prismatic Blurring Surface Finisher*, I’m just going to use HA Blur for short because that is quite the mouthful. I do like the names of their products, it makes them sound all science-y , which ties in nicely with the brand as a whole. The packaging has echoes of the periodic table or as The Sunday Girl pointed out it’s like Pantone. I like this approach, it gives a much more unisex, non-gender specific feel.




So the product itself. HA Blur uses a new form of Hyaluronic Acid powder to blur imperfections on the skin. This is the first time Hyaluronic Acid has been used in this way and I think it works really well. Many blurring products that are silicone heavy can really dry the skin out, the addition of Hyaluronic Acid counters this plus it gives a plumping effect to the skin. Another problem with many blurring products is that they’re incompatible with a lot of makeup. Does your foundation ever ball up or flake off after using a primer or blurring product? That’s because the ingredients are incompatible. HA Blur has (so far for me) succeeded in overcoming incompatibility.



HA Blur has a white thick texture and does have a bit of velvet-slip that your standard blurring product tends to have. There’s a slight scent to it, almost like apple, that disappears on application. The actual application is lovely, it blurs pores and provides a smooth base for makeup. You can also touch-up with this throughout the day as it can be applied either under or over liquid makeup (powder needs to be applied after). It freshens up makeup nicely.







I’ve tried quite a few blurring products and I can quite honestly say that HA Blur is the best I’ve tried. I have quite visible pores and often this type of product settles in them and highlights makeup but HA Blur thankfully doesn’t do that, and I think it’s due to the Hyaluronic Acid. It creates a smooth base for makeup and hydrates at the same time. It blurs as well as plumps. This is a Godsend on days when your skin is needing a little bit more help.


Boots sell some of the Hylamide range and it’s currently on offer ( you can find it here). I’ve just purchased Hylamide Booster Low-Molecular HA Serum, which seems to get good reviews, I’ll let you know how I get on. You can find more information about Hylamide here and purchase HA Blur here.


Have you tried this or any other products from Deciem?



*PR Samples

Contains Affiliated links.
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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

House of Fraser Beauty Event


House of Fraser Beauty Event


The House of Fraser Beauty Event is running from 21st March until 3rd April. If you spend £50 you’ll get £10 off, and if you have a loyalty card you'll also get double points. To qualify you have to include one of House of Fraser’s favourite beauty products in your purchase. It's the perfect excuse/reason to stock up or buy new makeup for the Spring. House of Fraser's really have selected some brilliant products to choose from.


Included in House of Fraser’s favourites are some new products to try such as Lancome Juicy Shakers. Or their’s longstanding favourites like Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation which I absolutely love, or Nar’s brilliant blushers including the cult classic Orgasm, and of course they’ve included Urban Decay Naked palettes. To see the full list click here


BENEFIT THEY'RE REAL



I have three of House of Fraser’s favourites, every one of them is a winner in my eyes. First is Benefit They’re Real Mascara*. They’re Real gives serious volume and length to eyelashes. The super dark formula applies easily with the bristled mascara brush creating long, defined eyelashes. It almost looks like you’re wearing false-lashes. The only thing I don’t like about this mascara is that it can apply a bit clumpy but thankfully the clumps brush out easily other than that I absolutely love it. Perfect for nights out or when you just want to create a bit more impact. 


KIEHL'S MIDNIGHT RECOVERY



Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate* is a longstanding favourite of mine. This magical elixir is packed full of skin-loving ingredients such as fatty acids and evening primrose oil. I use this a lot but especially when my skin needs a pick me up and without fail my skin always looks in better condition in the morning. It does contain essential oils though so if you’re very sensitive this might not be suitable for you but I’ve never had any problems on my sensitive skin. Midnight Recovery Concentrate is a cult classic for a reason: it actually works.


LANCOME HYPNOSE MASCARA


And finally is another mascara. This time it’s Lancome Hypnose Volume-a-Porter* . Lancome are renowned for their mascaras and  this one is beautiful. Lancome Hypnose won’t give the same effect as Benefit’s They’re Real but it will still add volume. It applies smoothly without clumping, doesn’t smudge and is just an all round class act of a mascara. I’m also a little bit in love with the packaging (as I am with most things from Lancome). It’s incredibley tactile and sleek, and perfectly suits the mascara inside. I think Lancome Hypnose is a brilliant everyday mascara and is certainly rivalling Estee Lauder’s Sumptuous Infinite for a place in my heart.



Has anything caught your eye from the House of Fraser Beauty Event? (I’m off to stock up)







*PR Samples

Contains Affiliated links.
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Monday, 21 March 2016

Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defence Primer SPF 50 PA ++


Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defence Primer SPF 50 PA ++ review best sun protection


One of the best things you can do to protect your skin from signs of premature ageing is to use sun protection. The sun will wreak all kinds of havoc on your skin such as discolouration, wrinkles and at worst skin cancer. I’ve been a bit haphazard with my sun protection. If I’m going on holiday or spending (rare) time at home sunbathing I will always wear protection but on a day to day basis I tend to forget. Recently I started using retinol (this one from Indeed Labs, I’ll do a full review when I’ve used it longer, but so far so good) so I’ve been much better at using protection everyday. 


Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defence Primer SPF 50 PA ++ review best sun protection



I like hardworking, multi-tasking products and Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defence Primer SPF 50 PA ++* certainly falls into this category. Like their Maestro Glow Fusion Makeup* the Maestro UV Primer is an innovative blending of skincare and makeup that is super-light on the skin, which for me is an absolute bonus when it comes to sun protection. I hate that greasy, heavy feel that many face sun screens can have but you cannot feel Armani UV Primer on the face. 



Armani UV Primer has an ultra-light fluid texture. Despite it being white it is completely translucent on the skin so will suit all skin tones. Like the foundation, the UV primer is dispensed by a dropper. For some reason I find the UV Primer slightly more fiddly to apply this way but I love the foundation application. I can’t figure out why I’m not so keen on this method with the sun screen. Despite my niggles with this it applies easily on the skin and once smoothed out it disappears completely and leaves absolutely no residue either.



Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defence Primer SPF 50 PA ++ review best sun protection



As well as Maestro UV having an amazing broad spectrum (it protects against UVA and UVB) SPF 50 it’s also a pretty good primer. Thankfully Armani Maestro UV doesn’t have that slippery, velvet feel that many silicone primers do. Another problem I have with primers are that they just sit on top of the skin and make my make up actually look worse. They highlight my pores and any dry areas rather than blurring them. Armani UV Primer is practically undetectable on the face in both look and feel. It succeeds in blurring my pores and makeup application is so much smoother and nicer.


I think Armani Maestro UV is a brilliant product. I cannot feel it on my face, it blurs imperfections and makes makeup application so much nicer. It gives outstanding sun protection. Armani Maestro UV is as far as you can get from heavy, greasy sun screens. 


Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Skin Defence Primer SPF 50 PA ++ is available from House of Fraser here 



have you tried this? what's your favourite face sun screen?



*PR Sample

Contains Affiliated links.

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Friday, 18 March 2016

Aura-Soma Pegasus Parfum




Aura-Soma Pegasus parfum* are new to me and their ethos is really interesting as are their scents. The scents are designed to enhance the mood of the wearer. Our sense of smell is incredibly evocative and play a vital role in our memories and also our wellbeing. Aura-Soma utilise this in making their perfumes. 


Aura-Soma use traditional methods for creating their perfumes. Before the onset of modern production methods which use synthetic materials, perfume was made with natural ingredients. Aura-Soma have embraced the natural method which I think gives them a really interesting and complex smell. You can definitely tell the difference between a perfume made synthetically and the Aura-Soma ones. 





I have samples of all their eight perfumes. They’re individually numbered rather than named and the bottles are coloured to compliment the scents inside (unfortunately my sample bottles aren’t but if you look at the site here you’ll see what I mean). 

I think everyone will be able to find at least one scent they’ll like. My favourites are Parfum 30, Parfum 44, and Parfum 80. Parfum 30 has notes of Bergamot, Olibanum, Oudh, Jasmine, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Amber, Vanilla, Saffron, Vetiver, Musk. It’s actually quite unisex, it has a deep woody smell yet has a lovely softness to it. It’s really interesting. One spray is all that’s needed and it lasts all day long. On me it gradually gets muskier and softer.


Parfum 44 has notes of Orris, Cedar Wood, Violet, Precious Woods. It’s like a mix of parma violets with woody base notes. Another interesting and long-lasting perfume.




Parfum 80 has notes of Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Lily, Carnation, Cinnamon, Benzoin, Rose, Vanilla. It’s such a pretty, fresh summery perfume. It’s sweet and flowery but definitely not sickly. All the notes work beautifully together. A perfect Summer scent.


Aura-Soma use organic essential plant and flower oils and are free from petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances and preservatives. The production method and ethos, for me, make them stand out against many perfumes we’ve become used to. And if you’re a perfume connoisseur you’ll definitely want to check them out. (Similarly see my post on Histoires de Parfums

Aura-Soma Pegasus Parfum are also cruelty free and against animal testing. For more info please click here 


Have you tried their perfumes?


*PR Sample


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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

My Most Repurchased Beauty Products


My Most Repurchased Beauty Products



These aren’t going to be the most prettiest of pictures, sorry about that! These are well used, bashed about products. I mean look at the state of the Collection concealer, I’m so sorry. But, it’s testament to how much I use these and indeed repurchase the products. The products mentioned are either ones I have constantly in use or I return to after foolishly venturing away to see if there's something better.


favourite beauty products


I’ll start with the Illamasqua blusher in Katie. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve purchased this. It’s just the perfect candy pink for light skin tones. It blends easily, with great pigmentation and lasts pretty much all day. 


Estee Lauder’s Sumptuous Infinite Mascara is one of the best mascaras I’ve ever used. It adds little bits of fibre to the lashes to give them length and volume. It doesn’t clump or smudge, and volume lasts all day. Just brilliant.


And another favourite from Estee Lauder, this time it’s their Double Wear foundation. I’m yet to find a better foundation for longevity and coverage. It lasts all day on my combination skin. It can be a bit tricky initially as it sets relatively quickly but once you’ve mastered it it’s just the best foundation.


Similarly Collection Lasting Perfection concealer can initially be a bit tricky. It’s a full coverage, thick concealer that sets quite fast. The trick is to pat pat pat this concealer out or it will look cakey. Coverage is brilliant as is longevity, such a great budget buy.


The one lipstick I have the most of is MAC’s Ruby Woo. It’s the perfect cool-toned matte red. It lasts for absolutely ages on the lips and just looks fantastic on cool skin tones. It’s a cult classic for a reason.



I’m not very loyal when it comes to hair products. I chop and change shampoo and conditioners all the time but there’s a couple of products that I always repurchase and that’s Elnett hairspray and Tresemme Keratin Smooth Treatment. I love Elnett hairspray because it gives strong hold without being obvious or making your hair feel like straw. It brushes out easily and you don’t get any of those white flakes that can happen with some other hairsprays. 

I’ve been using the Tresemme cream since it launched a couple of years ago. I don't think it’d hold really curly hair but it keeps my slightly wavy and very thick hair in check. It just makes styling that bit easier. I’d definitely recommend if you have thick, unruly hair. 


I’ve not photographed it but I should definitely mention Phyto Botanical Straightening Balm. This is a dream of a product for my hair. It smooths and gives a beautiful shine. My hair always looks much more healthy after using this and much more manageable too. 






And finally, the two nail polishes I have the most of: Essie and Barry M. Essie have the most amazing range of colours. I find them easy to apply and they last well on my nails. A cheaper but just as good alternative is Barry M polishes. Again the colour selection is great (although I do prefer Essie) but they last amazingly well on my nails and are super easy to apply. Whenever I feel like treating myself but don’t have very much money I’ll always pick up either an Essie polish or one from Barry M.


There’s a few things not included in the photos that I definitely need to mention. I’m such a great blogger, oops. The one cleanser that I repurchase over and over again is Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. It’s not shown because I’m waiting for a new batch to arrive. It’s the best cleanser to remove everything with ease, and do so thoroughly without aggravating my sensitive skin. If you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it. 


I’ve also forgot to photograph Carmex lip balms. I have lots lying about: beside my bed, on my dresser, in my bag, and assorted pockets. I use other lip balms too but I love Carmex, it’s definitely the one lip balm I’m never without.


I’ve also forgot to include Batiste Dry Shampoo. I always have a can of this in my bathroom for emergencies, or on days I can’t be bothered to wash my hair. A little goes a long way with this product. So go gently.


If you’ve read all this thanks! I appreciate you sticking it out.



What’s your most repurchased beauty products?




(contains Affiliated links, all products purchased by me)

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Monday, 14 March 2016

Healthy Wholewheat Banana Muffins with Peanut Butter Icing

healthybananamuffins



How about a reasonably healthy snack to start your week? I made these wholewheat banana muffins yesterday so I have something a bit more nutritious than a chocolate bar with my afternoon cup of tea. I adapted this recipe and used this recipe for the icing.  My recipe is below. Or if you prefer I previously posted this Vegan Vanilla Cupcake recipe or if you fancy something more decadent there's this Vegan Chocolate Cake (this can also easy made into cupcakes, just reduce the cooking time).


The icing yields a LOT so I’d definitely half it or quarter it. Of course you can completely by-pass icing on top, the muffins are lovely without but I just fancied adding a bit extra to them. Or you could drizzle with some icing sugar, that’d be really nice too. 


healthybananamuffins


Wholewheat Banana Muffins Recipe (12 muffins)


Ingredients:

200 grams wholewheat self-raising flour (if you don’t have self-raising add 1 teaspoon baking powder to every 110g of flour)

2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

2 Eggs

4 Tablespoons Agave Nectar (you can also use honey or maple syrup, same amounts)

2 tablespoon melted butter (you can also use coconut oil or another butter substitute, I used Vitalite)

3 small ripe mashed bananas



Instructions:

-Preheat the oven to 180°C (slightly less if a fan oven). Grease muffin cases with a little oil or butter.

-Place the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour and cinnamon, and mix together

-In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients: eggs, agave, melted butter and bananas until well combined

-Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients into the middle.

-Gently mix together the wet and dry ingredients, don’t over mix.

-Put the mix in the 12 muffin cases and bake for around 15 minutes.

-Test the muffins with a knife or something sharp, they’re cooked when no mixture is on the knife when removing them from the muffin.

-Remove from baking tray and leave to cool, when cool ice the muffins (if doing so). I followed this recipe for the icing, it does yield a lot so you could probably half it.


That's it, happy baking!


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Friday, 11 March 2016

Armani Maestro Glow Nourishing Fusion Makeup






When the original Giorgio Armani Maestro foundation was first released there was a huge buzz around it. If you’re a big base lover the innovative technology of Armani Maestro was very exciting (or was that just me?). Now a couple of years later there’s Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow Nourishing Fusion Makeup*  (phew). 

Maestro Glow, unsurprisingly, is more focused on glow whereas the original Maestro was matte in finish. It’s not a glow in a highlighter sense, there’s no shimmer or glitter in there. It’s more a healthy, lit-from-within radiance. This is thanks to the high concentration of oils and satin finish. There’s no water in this formula. If you have oily skin I wouldn’t really recommend this, it’s more suited to dry or normal skin types. I have an oily t-zone and I had to powder frequently. But otherwise it lasts almost all day on my skin.

Armani Maestro Glow is skincare and makeup combined. Armani say after 4 weeks of use you’ll start to see an improvement in your skin. I’ve only been using this for around 2 weeks so it’s just a bit too early to tell but I’ll update when I’ve used it a bit longer.




Maestro Glow comes in 9 different shades. Here’s the colours very usefully described by Nordstrom:


- Shade 0: pure white for brightening and highlighting.
- Shade 2: fair skin with warm undertones.
- Shade 4: light skin with neutral undertones.
- Shade 5: light skin with rosy undertones.
- Shade 5.5: medium skin with neutral undertones.
- Shade 6.25: medium skin with warm undertones.
- Shade 7: tan skin with neutral undertones.
- Shade 8: tan skin with warm undertones.
- Shade 11.75: deep skin with red undertones.


I have shade 4 which is currently a tad too dark for me but I can still get away with it. I would really recommend visiting a stockist such as House of Fraser to swatch it. This also comes in white which acts as a highlighter/brightener but it could also lighten foundation.


Colour issues aside this is a lovely base. The runny liquid is dispensed by a pipette. I know some people find this method a bit fiddly or gimmicky but I quite like it. I’m able to control exactly how much foundation I want and any extra can be put back into the glass bottle.




Before application you need to give this a good shake. Maestro Glow is bi-phase so the oils separate from the pigments/other ingredients. It blends incredibly well and doesn’t settle into pores or lines. It gives a hyper-real finish, your skin but better. 


I can get this up to a medium coverage. For those of you who like a full coverage this isn’t for you but if you like light to medium you’ll love this. It evens out the skin and gives a healthy radiance. It also comes with a good SPF30 which for me makes this a brilliant Summer base. 


Considering this has a lot of oil in it it lasts a surprisingly long time. Currently I have an oily nose but I would say the rest of my skin is normal/dehydrated so my skin loves this. Maestro Glow feels like a nourishing oil treatment on initial application but once it’s blended out and settles I can’t actually feel it on my skin. It’s featherlight and incredibly comfortable to wear.


If you love light-to-medium coverage with a natural yet radiant finish Armani Maestro Glow may just be the one for you. It’s super easy to work with and lasts throughout the day. But I’d be wary if you lean towards the oily side.


Armani Maestro Glow is available from House of Fraser 


Have you tried Maestro Glow?




*PR Sample.
(contains affiliated links)





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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Farfetch Curates Gift Set



Farfetch has collaborated with Assouline, the luxury book publisher to produce Farfetch Curates Gift Set*, a trilogy of inspiring books. With a strong curatorial eye Farfetch has looked far and wide to bring the best in each field of the arts, food and design in compact, beautifully designed books. If you love any of these areas, or indeed all of them, these books are perfect for you.





Farfetch Curates Food takes the reader around the world for our daily meals starting with breakfast. For lunch we meet Leandra Medine from The Man Repeller who shares her favourite eating spots with insight into why they’re special for her. There’s also a mini tea guide, patisseries in Paris, foraging chefs and much more. A thread of fashion runs throughout this book and at the end there’s a very useful index. If you love to travel and to eat at the best (and most fashionable) places this is the book for you. It’s beautifully put together with stunning photography.




Farfetch Curates Design again takes us around the world to show us interiors, exteriors and even outside toilets. The compact guide reveals where the hottest new places for design are such as the unlikely Dundee. This is thanks to the new V&A Museum of Design opening their doors there soon, it’s a stunning looking building and one I’m very much looking forward to visit. There’s also Jakarta, Prague and Miami for example, all with their own unique aesthetic. There’s also some amazing interior design inspiration from the likes of Alex Box. Similarly to the other books there’s a very useful directory at the back. Design lovers will delight in this book. 




Farfetch Curates Art gives an insight into the new cultural capitals of the world such as Sao Paolo, Delhi and Beijing. This is an exciting move away from traditional Western art capitals. There’s also a guide to off the beaten track art, a buyer’s guide to art and more. There’s illuminating discussions with artists such as Leah Schrager on her exhibition Body Anxiety, where gender and the digital world collide. It’s a compact guide to the contemporary art scene. Again there’s a wonderfully useful directory at the end. 






All of these books have been carefully and thoughtfully put together. While they’re brief they’re surprisingly thorough and a delight to read. The quality of paper and photography make this trilogy a must for art, design and food lovers. 






*PR Sample.


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Monday, 7 March 2016

F.O.Y SKINCARE

FOY Fountain of Youth Skin care


I’ve been using F.O.Y (Fountain of Youth) skincare* for around a month now so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it. I hadn’t heard about F.O.Y Skincare before, they’re largely salon based but you can buy them online too. F.O.Y Skincare was developed as a post-operative treatment for patients who had undergone plastic surgery or non-evasive procedures to prolong the effects of their treatment at home. F.O.Y Skincare is specifically designed for more mature skin types, younger skins (and oily) may find the moisturisers too rich. I thought they’d be too rich for me, but surprisingly I got on with them very well. My skin is currently quite dehydrated and well, I am getting older too. 




I’ve been trying out four products:

F.O.Y Moisturising Day Cream (Normal to Dry skin)*: This is a good solid daily moisturiser containing hyaluronic acid. It’s other key ingredients are shea butter and jojoba oil. So if you are very oily I really wouldn’t recommend this for you. It also contains mineral oil, it is quite far down in the ingredient list and I haven’t experienced any adverse effects with this and I usually do. If you’re particularly sensitive to mineral oil this might not be the best for you. This is a rich day cream that sinks in quickly without leaving any residue on my skin. It gives a comfortable level of hydration and prepares the skin nicely for makeup. I really like this, perfect for dehydrated, dry and normal skin types.



F.O.Y Rejuvenating Night Cream (Normal to Dry)*: This has lots of lovely ingredients that your skin will love. It has Ginseng Root to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, Carnosine which helps stimulate collagen production, Retinyl Palmitate to help improve skin’s appearance and soften, as well as panthenol, vitamin E, Shea butter and Jojoba oil. This is richer than the day cream and when I first saw the texture I thought it’d be far too rich for my skin but it’s not, in fact my skin absolutely loves it. It applies very richly but within seconds it’s fully absorbed and my skin feels soft and supple. Older skins will really love this especially if you don’t like that greasy feeling that some heavy night creams can have. Another winner for me.




F.O.Y Revitalising Eye Contour Gel (All Skin Types)*: I’m still on the fence as to whether I need a separate eye cream from my face moisturiser. I think if the cream you’re using is ok around your eye area I would just use that. Some people do like special eye cream and some are brilliant for specifically targeting this eye area. F.O.Y Revitalising Eye Contour Gel contains echinacea extract for it’s anti-ageing properties, hyaluronic acid to plump up skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and sea chamomile for it’s relaxing abilities. The clear but slightly yellow gel sinks in easily and gives a gentle tightening effect around the eyes. There’s no greasy residue with this. I found this stings my eyes, I’m not sure if it’s a reaction to the active ingredients or the fragrance. Not for me unfortunately but if you have less sensitive eyes than me this might work better for you.




F.O.Y Micellar 3in1 Cleansing Water (All skin types)*: The micellar water contains lots of nice things for the skin like the other products. It has panthenol to moisturise and increase hydration, chamomile, ginseng and marigold to soothe and tone the skin, and rose water to ease irritated skin. I don’t usually use a micellar water but I thought I’d give this a go. I’ve occasionally been using it in the morning as a quick pick me up and sometimes as the first cleanse in the evening. It does a decent job at removing makeup but I wouldn’t use it alone (nor would I use any micellar water on its own). I’m not so keen on this product because it’s so heavily scented. I can handle a gentle fragrance in my cleansers but this is too much for my skin. If you like fragranced skincare products this might be for you but not for me.



Have you tried any of these products?




*PR Samples



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Sunday, 6 March 2016

Losing Trust in Bloggers




There seems to a trust issue with many blog readers now. Jane from British Beauty Blogger periscoped about this thread on Mumsnet. It’s quite a long read and getting bigger everyday, so the gist of it is that bloggers aren’t to be trusted. To get the fuller picture do give it a read. I think it raises many legitimate concerns for the blogging community, though. I really wanted to address some of the things raised because they do grind my gears too. Grab a cuppa, it's going to be a long one!




Why I Blog

I blog for many different reasons. I started out a couple of years ago spurned on by researching makeup ideas for my wedding. I read lots of blogs, but my first loves were Drivel about Frivol, who sadly isn’t blogging anymore, and the wonderful Killer Colours. If you don’t read Killer Colours I highly recommend her, she does stunning makeup looks and great reviews. 


From my initial interaction with blogs like these I decided to start my own. I had just finished my MA and not being able to work I wanted something lighthearted to take up my time. I enjoyed the community and the fun of beauty. I still very much enjoy that side of blogging and it’s still there if you want to find it. I love sharing products and also learning about what others have been using. Beauty and fashion, for me, are escapisms, means of making myself feel better and indeed cope with chronic pain. I'm at home a lot because of disability and my blog gives me something positive to focus on. 


Having said this blogging has changed. It’s a full-time profession for many and one that some people make a helluva lots of money from. This seems to be where the trust issues come from. Can you really trust someone to give an honest opinion when they’re being paid to? It’s a difficult one. I think you can give a balanced review but you must be transparent. Readers feel that they’re being wilfully misled by many bloggers/vloggers, particularly the bigger ones. This is having an affect on all of us. 





PR SAMPLES/SPONSORED POSTS/ ADVERTORIALS 


Some bloggers who receive PR samples still manage to strike a balance in their reviews, highlighting both positives and negatives. It might not suit my skin type or just my personal taste. I might not like a particular product but someone else might absolutely love it. This should definitely be taken into consideration when writing about it. Of course, if a product's (or service, or whatever the scenario) awful either don't feature it or be honest.


I occasionally receive PR samples and I always state this. If I haven’t marked it as a PR sample then I’ve either purchased it myself or a friend or family member has given it to me. I very rarely do sponsored posts but if I do I always clearly mark it as such. There’s ASA guidelines (which you can find here ) for bloggers/vloggers to follow and if you feel bloggers/vloggers aren’t being transparent lodge a complaint. The ASA (or CAPwill look into it for you.


Advertorials should also be clearly marked as such. No one likes to get sold to on the sly and you should know before watching a video or reading a post if the content is an advert. This allows you to decide if you want to continue. This is a tricky area. Many do state it’s an advert but not until the end of the post or in the youtube box. I don’t think that’s clear enough. 


Similarly sponsored content isn’t always clearly marked and writing a small *sponsored at the bottom isn’t sufficient, I don’t think. Again, ASA have guidelines to follow here. 






AFFILIATED LINKS


Similarly there’s a wariness with affiliated links. I personally don’t mind clicking on someone’s affiliated links, it gives them a bit of revenue and if I like their blog I also want to support it. I think most people’s issue with affiliate links is non-disclosure and this is the HUGE sticking point for lots of people in general. Also, it seems people don't really understand what they are and indeed if they influence a blogger's review (in my opinion they don't). This is a good post explaining what affiliate links are. 


NON-DISCLOSURE 


This seems to be the crux of the mistrust with many bloggers. If you’re doing an ad, sponsored post, or anything where money or a product/gift has changed hands you must disclose. It’s a legal requirement to do so. Again, if you feel a blogger/vlogger isn’t being transparent report them to the ASA. This article from PR Week is very useful.






FAKE FOLLOWERS


There’s also the issue with fake followers across different social media platforms. I see many bloggers saying that it’s obvious who’s doing it but I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult to spot. Not all bloggers are aware that this happens and readers certainly aren't.


I wrote a couple of posts about this phenomenon here and here. Fake followers are becoming more sophisticated. They’re not just bots that sit and do nothing anymore. Also, there’s the ability to purchase fake likes too which makes it look all the more plausible. What can you do about this? Contact them and say “Hi erm, I noticed you’re purchasing fake followers, pls stop, thnx”? 


Turning a blind eye to it knowing full well what they’re doing seems complicit somehow. I genuinely don’t know what to do. Instagram and Twitter both have means of reporting them but in reality it doesn’t achieve anything. Sigh.


I’m personally sick of seeing bloggers who purchase fake followers gaining from their deceit. It’s essentially fraud, they’re both misleading readers and also the brands/companies paying them. Some bloggers have said that they’d love to call them out but are too scared of getting called a hater or jealous. But surely we can’t just keeping turning a blind eye to it? If readers are becoming increasingly cynical about our honesty, and quite frankly who can blame them, then how can blogging beyond a hobby survive?


A couple of months ago Kat from the wonderful Tales of Pale Face blog conducted a small survey and wrote this post about her results. It has some interesting findings regarding PR samples and sponsored posts. Do give it a read, it’s very insightful. This paragraph is particularly interesting:


“Reassuringly, 52% of you said that you’d trust us bloggers to be honest when we’re dealing with both sponsored posts and PR samples. On the flip side, 22% of people answered that they don’t trust either – preferring to believe in reviews on products that had been purchased directly by the blogger.”



*Updated*                   


Google has issued some best practice guidelines here for bloggers receiving PR samples. It’s summed up as follows:

-Use nofollow links where appropriate

- Disclose the relationship

- Produce compelling and unique content


Google DO NOT like inorganic links and they see links as a result of PR samples as inorganic, quite rightly. If you don’t nofollow google will penalise your blog. This will essentially render it invisible on google searches. The excellent May Fairy wrote about her horrific experience with google’s wrath. It’s a very insightful read and she clearly explains the ramifications of dofollow/nofollow. It's good to have a balance of dofollow/nofollow on your blog, just make sure you're doing it properly.




To finish on a positive note. I do think these kinds of bloggers are in the minority and by far the most kind of bloggers I encounter are honest and just love blogging, whether that’s a hobby, semi-pro, or pro-blogger. Unfortunately it seems to be a small amount, albeit highly visible bloggers, that are making readers cast doubt on blogging as a whole.



Further reading: CAP Guide for Vloggers/Bloggers 



I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!



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Friday, 4 March 2016

Giorgio Armani Si Intense Perfume





Armani Si Intense* is an enhanced version of the original Si perfume. It’s a sophisticated, complex aroma that I absolutely love. I initially thought it’d be too heady for me. The first spray is quite strong but it settles down beautifully.


Armani Si Intense* is a grown-up fruity fragrance with top notes of cassis and blackcurrant, with bergamot, mandarin, and freesia. There’s also rose, neroli and patchouli rounded off with deep woody notes. A modern chypre fragrance.


Do you know what chypre means? Because I didn’t until I started looking into different notes and characteristics of perfumes. Apparently the term can be dated back to Francois Coty who created a scent called Chypre which contained fragrances largely from Mediterranean countries. The scent of these types of perfumes are predominantly based around a contrast of fresh citrus with a deeper woody base. 




It’s an undeniably feminine scent. Warm, powerful and sexy. It has an opulence that’s perfect for evening wear but to be honest life’s to short not to wear perfume as nice as this at anytime of the day.


One spray of this will give you a rich hit of perfume that I found lasts well throughout the day. Typically with perfume the smell changes and at the end of the day this becomes a much softer but still a sexy scent.


Armani Si Intense comes in a beautiful glass bottle designed in black and gold which further enhances the opulence of the perfume. This would make a wonderful Mothers’ Day present or a beautiful treat for yourself.


Armani Si Intense is available from House of Frasers.


*PR Sample

(contains affiliated links)
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