December 31, 2016

12 days of christmas giveaways: winners!

DAY ONE | Kiehl's goodies: Charlotte Turner 
DAY TWO | Argentum La Potion Infinie: Tamsin
DAY THREE | Maria Nila haircare: Sarah Kochan 
DAY FOUR | Clinique gift sets: Molly Lyon
DAY FIVE | Foreo Luna Mini 2: Patricia
DAY SIX | Ray-Ban Erika sunglasses: Lucy Jarvis 
DAY SEVEN | Look Fantastic goodies: Amy
DAY EIGHT | Zadig & Voltaire This Is Her! perfume: Ruby Spiteri 
DAY NINE | Korres Wild Rose Face Oil and Mini Showergel Collection: Josie 
DAY TEN | Davines goodies: Vicki
DAY ELEVEN | Toni&Guy Illusions Styler: Alex 
DAY TWELVE | Teapigs teas: Lorraine Newsome 

A couple of days overdue, here are the winners to my 12 days of Christmas giveaways. I will be in touch with all of you shortly to ask for your addresses to send out your prizes to. Congratulations! 

December 14, 2016

12 days of christmas giveaways: round-up

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Just incase any of you have missed my 12 days of christmas giveaways over on Twitter (where have you been?!) I thought I'd write up a quick post including links to each of the days. There's over £1,000 worth of prizes up for grabs and all from my favourite brands. 

If you're keen to enter each giveaway more than once, head over to my Facebook page and get sharing. 

- All giveaways close at 11.59pm on 24th December
- The winners will be announced at 8pm on Christmas day
- Open internationally

December 05, 2016

the christmas gift guide: for the lazybones

Bluebird Tea Co Hey, Sugar Plum & Snowball - £6
Lush Cupcake - £6.95
Conditioner - £25

Nights in will forever be the superior to nights out in my book. I like to pamper myself into full relaxation mode and will happily invest plenty of dollar in aiding me to do so. Giving the gift of face masks, candles and bath products to set the scene for at-home spa days are the way to go and I just love the thought of allowing someone to create a little extra me time for themselves.

Lush have it down with the huge range of fresh face masks on offer that are tailored for every skin type and concern, I can't imagine being more thrilled than upon receiving a little box filled with a couple of skin treats by them. On the theme of face masks, Nügg have the perfect stocking filler in this set which includes various types of mask at an inexpensive price. 

What's a pamper session without a scented candle? A poorly planned out one that's what. If your gift recipient is a fan of musky, slightly masculine scents with a hint of sweetness, I wholeheartedly recommend checking out Tonka from Laboratory perfumes. The packaging is chic and understated and will be sure to leave anyone thinking you're both on trend and thoughtful. 

One of my very favourite sets that I've come across this year is this shower gel collection by Korres. My shower is always stocked up with a couple of full sized bottles and these would be ideal for both someone new to the brand or for a keen traveller who's always in need of luxury minis. This is definitely one of those one for me and one for you gifts that you'll end up treating yourself to, too. 

Another one of my top picks is the Skin Perfecting Set by Dermalogica. I have a couple of family members who love skincare but would never invest over a certain amount and find a gift like this truly means the world to them. Giving the gift of skincare is always a wise move. The same goes for the Kiehl's Hand Salve which would be cherished especially in the colder months. 

I have a full review on the Bluebird Tea Christmas collection coming up on my lifestyle blog, but couldn't miss up the prime opportunity of featuring them in this post too. I'm an absolute tea addict and have no qualms about pushing it onto other people too. Long live high quality tea. 

As much as I personally love to receive my favourite brands as gifts, I equally enjoy being given the opportunity to check out new ones. I hadn't heard of O&M haircare since after having a browse online and was drawn to their minimal packaging and fell in love with their natural ingredient ethos. The detangling spray in particular has quickly become a staple in my haircare routine.

December 04, 2016

the christmas gift guide: for the party girl

Chambord - £6.50

That special time of year is back again and the first of my Christmas gift guides has finally arrived. I've decided to theme them all this year (shoutout to twitter polls, forever helping me make crucial decisions) and thought I'd kick things off with the most sparkly gift guide of them all, dedicated to party girls and socialites. 

Nights out and fake tan come hand in hand. I absolutely love these St Tropez crackers as the packaging is incredibly festive, and because they're minis they make for perfect stocking fillers too. Before heading out, I always spend an hour or so in the bath having a pamper session whilst overloading on skincare. Rodial have nailed it with their hero collection gift set and I would certainly be thrilled to be retrieving this from under the tree.

There isn't a girl I know that doesn't own at least a couple of Real Techniques brushes, making this collection of bold metals brushes a wonderful idea for any make-up lover. If you're after a failsafe option in terms of perfume, YSL Black Opium is both sweet yet sexy and is among my top picks for most wearable scents. If all else fails, a sparkly eyeshadow palette is yet another safe bet, Bobbi Brown being the hero brand for beautiful Christmas make-up collections. 

November 14, 2016

the best of: pixi skincare

pixi skincare

Nourishing Cleansing Balm (£18): Most days, I'm a slob when it comes to removing my make-up and dive into bed after a long day without deep cleansing. Bad behaviour, I know. On the special occasion that I give my skin the treatment it deserves, I opt for this cleansing balm to whisk away all dirt and excess oil. The balm feels super luxurious, and melts into a silky oil between your fingertips which easily deals with stubborn make-up and general impurities. With ingredients such as Almond Oil, Shea Butter and Vitamin E, I need say no more.

Makeup Fixing Mist (£16): I absolutely cannot bare the thought of cakey looking or worn foundation, so always make sure to spritz my face with this genius mist before leaving the house. I find that not only does it set my make-up for longer wear but also gives my skin a fresh, dewy glow. 

Glow Tonic (£18): I tend to have a combination skin type, with dry patches around my forehead and nose area and a breakout prone chin/jawline, lovely I know. After years of reading the hype surrounding glow tonic, I can completely understand as to why many claim to not be able to live without it. The tonic soaks up a surprising amount of grime whilst leaving skin perfectly prepped to soak in an oil or moisturiser. I'm a big fan of the ready soaked pads too as they make my nighttime routine just that bit faster. Get it or regret it! 

Rose Oil Blend (£26): Roughly every couple of days I use an oil in my skincare routine to plump up my skin and bring it back to life. A current favourite of mine is Sunday Riley Luna Oil but if you can't justify the price tag I'd highly recommend giving this Pixi version a shot as it does just as much of a great job at leaving skin looking perky the next morning.  

Hydrating Milky Serum (£26): If you aren't a fan of the feel of oils yet are still after the hydration they give to the skin, this serum is a great shout. On days that my skin is playing me up with breakouts and I want a lighter feeling product I will always reach for this. It does a wonderful job at soaking straight into the skin and is completely fuss free. 

September 10, 2016

benefit brow collection + before and after

  Ready, Set, Brow! | £18.50
Brow Zings | £24.50
3D Browtones | £18.50
Ka Brow! | £18.50

As dramatic as it sounds, it has taken me years of dedication to grow my brows into a shape that only needs the slightest of touching up to end up looking natural once filled in. I've been through every stage with my brows, the first of which was the resembling caterpillars, the next was the other end of the spectrum from over-plucking and last of all was some strange hybrid of the two which left them looking a rather strange shape. I've also been known to commit the ultimate sin of overfilling with shades that were far too dark, but thankfully all of those faux pas are now far behind me and I think it's fair to say that my brow game is strong. 

For the past few months I've been putting Benefit's new(ish) brow products to the test and have discovered a few favourites that I now use on a daily basis. As I already have fairly thick brows (holla castor oil) I opt for "precisely, my brow pencil" to fill in any sparse areas and then brush over with "3d browtones" and finish with "ready, set, brow!". I'm a huge fan of the natural yet defined look that these products give to my brows and find that blending out any harsh lines with the spooly on the end of the pencil makes creating beautiful brows foolproof. 

If you prefer a strong, dramatic brow, then check out "ka brow!" or if you need a little extra coverage then give "goof proof brow pencil" a shot. My ultimate favourite of the whole collection has to be "precisely, my brow pencil" (christ these names are a chore to type) and the setting gel comes in at a very close second due to both the formula and genius brush.


September 06, 2016

laser hair removal: consultation and first appointment

A few weeks ago, I decided that I'd had enough of hearing everyone rave on about laser hair removal without trying it out for myself so got in touch with sk:n clinics and headed down to their Norwich location for my consultation appointment. 

I'd done around an hours worth of research on laser hair removal beforehand as I wanted to be fully prepared for what I was about to let myself in for, though was still left with a handful of questions to ask at the consultation. I'd found out that the laser works best on people with fair skin and dark hair as it targets the pigment of the hair follicle to then damage the bloody supply to the root. With this in mind, I had to leave my dreams of having the baby fuzzy hairs from my face and arms removed at the door and focus on patches of denser, darker hair. 

Without a doubt, the area I had in mind from the get go was my underarms. It's by far the most dense hair on my entire body and not only do I never manage a clean and smooth shave but it grows back into stubble stage the very next day. I've even resorted to weekly epilating which only made the problem worse as I'd end up with ingrown hairs and that's not to mention the immense pain. I just never feel squeaky clean unless the whole area is baby soft and hair free so after trying shaving, waxing and epilating, laser hair removal seemed like the way to go. I also chose to go for the sides of my upper lip where a few pesky hairs creep in now and then, and my lower legs, which probably goes without saying. Next to cleaning make up brushes, daily shaving is just another chore that my life would be far enhanced without.


I won't lie, stepping into a clinical looking room with a huge laser machine situated next to a therapy bed felt rather daunting at first, but minutes into my consultation I felt at ease and at the end was raring to go for my patch test. The laser lady (not the technical term) answered all of my questions before I even needed to ask and ran through both the science behind laser hair removal, the outcomes to be expected after the first treatment to last and what kind of pain level I'd be enduring. 

After half an hour so of chatting, I took a seat on the bed next to the laser and put on a pair of protective glasses all ready for my patch test. The lady talked me through every stage and first zapped the laser onto bare skin before moving onto the patch with hair. I've previously had almost every hair of my body waxed and epilated and even though I consider myself to have a high pain threshold I was still nervous at the thought of experiencing a new type of pain/sensation. It's really tricky to describe exactly how the laser feels, it's almost like a quick pin prick to the skin that only hurts for a fraction of a second. As the laser covers an area of roughly the size of a ten pence piece, small-medium sized patches are over and done with in a remarkably short amount of time.

Four days after my patch test, for research purposes I decided to let my underarms go for a few days to see if I could spot any difference and was truly astounded to see the change after just one go. The laser zapped patch was barely growing back and looked as if it had been freshly shaved compared to the rest. I did also notice that the area was ever so slightly bumpy and had the appearance of teeny tiny ingrown hairs, but nothing that would be noticeable without using the torch option on your phone to get a super close look.

First appointment

My first appointment came a week after my initial consultation and took around an hour in total. First off was my upper lip, then underarms and finally lower legs. All of which was fairly free of pain apart from a particular area right at the bottom of each leg which is apparently closest to the bone. Although I did find it hurt a fair amount, that particular area was over and done with in just minutes so I was capable of just gritting my teeth and bearing it.

Straight away my legs looked bright red and bumpy, almost like I'd fallen into a patch of stinging nettles. Oddly enough I was assured that this was the perfect reaction and it was just my body showing that the treatment was working properly. The redness and bumpy patches were soothed once the laser lady had applied aloe vera gel and on leaving the clinic my legs looked straight back to normal.

Just under a week later and I've noticed some slight bruising on my legs along with bumpy feeling underarms but no noticeable side effects on my upper lip. My leg hair is growing back much slower and in patches rather than all over. 

Whilst I realise that body hair isn't a huge deal for some people, as trained beauty therapist and all round perfectionist, it is my nemesis. The thought of never having to shave daily again or endure the horror of epilating is like a dream come true and truly I just wish I had thought of getting it done sooner. I will be back with updates throughout my treatment and will of course let you all know my final results in around eight months time.

sk:n is currently offering a huge 40% off when two or more courses of laser hair removal is booked, or 30% off one course until September 11th. To find out more, head over to www.sknclinics.co.uk.

August 08, 2016

repairing damaged hair

Redken Pillow Proof Primer Cream (£13.60): I so often forget to bother using a heat protectant before blow drying my hair but have found that as this primer by Redken makes it take far less time using the hairdryer, I always remember to use a pump just beforehand. It's super lightweight and doesn't add any heaviness to the hair whatsoever.

Aveda Shampure Shampoo (£12.15) & Conditioner (£14.40): Before I even knew what beauty products were, our shower at home was always stocked with Aveda haircare products. I'm talking well over ten years ago. It's always been a favourite brand of mine, not only for nostalgic reasons, but because I have tried so many of their products and still not one has failed to impress. I love knowing that my hair is in safe hands as none of their products contain parabens or synthetic sulfates. If you have a sensitive scalp then Aveda have your back.

July 31, 2016

the ultimate clear out guide

Over the last few weeks (yes, weeks!) I have taken time out of every single day to slowly but surely work my way through the mass of make up, skincare, hair and nail products that I've amassed over the last five or so years. I had an overflowing Ikea Alex unit, along with plastic boxes full of products lying around the house waiting to be sorted through. Upon having the realisation that I'd clearly developed a clearcut case of hauding and after beginning to feel weighed down by the sheer amount of unnecessary items I had, I thought girl, enough is enough! I've since ditched over 100 nail polishes, given away skincare products and sold items of make up all in the name of transitioning to a life of only having what I use on a regular basis.

June 30, 2016

products to ease stress and anxiety

For me, stress and anxiety affect me in similar ways but I always find it so important to work out which I'm feeling so that I can treat it in the best way. Stress usually comes from feeling overworked, tired out and in need of some rest, which is why a warm bubbly bath is usually the best remedy. Whereas anxiety often comes from a build up of negative energy and is best cured by a long walk by the lake with Milo or a peppermint tea and an uplifting face mask. Then at the worst of times when I'm feeling a mixture of the two, I will mix up my remedies rather than focusing intensely on too many relaxing scents for example.

April 10, 2016

skincare sunday | 03

First off, please excuse the mildly deathly looking cacti, they are in need of some loving. It seems like FOREVER since I last put together a post on my current favourite skincare products, so here we are once again. I still have some staple products that I absolutely adore and have no reason to ever switch from, and also have a few new finds too. 

To remove make up and cleanse my skin, I go for DHC Deep Cleansing Oil (£21.50) for everyday use and Pixi Nourishing Cleansing Balm (£18) when my skin is in need of a deeper cleanse and nourish. The DHC version is absolutely unbeatable as a make up removal oil and is the perfect option for my typically dry skin, and the Pixi balm is ideal to let soak into the skin for a couple of minutes whilst in a bubble bath.

March 25, 2016

masque bar face masks

Masque Bar Face Masks Review

I've been a face mask obsessive for as long as I can remember, ever since I discovered peel off masks at around 11 years old and became addicted ever since. I'm convinced that using a mask once or twice per week, be it mud, peel off, gel or cream, keeps my skin in tip top condition. I also absolutely love to pack one in my travel bag whenever I go away, and find that the sachet versions are so perfectly handy for doing so. 

March 04, 2016

mother's day gift ideas

Damn Jess, back at it again with the last minute gift guides. As much as I totally get that for Mother's Day some of us like to play it low key with flowers or perhaps breakfast in bed with a card, sometimes it's nice to go all out and truly spoil them. I tend to go for the more handmade approach but every few years I treat my lovely mum to a special gift or two. Everything that I've included is also worth keeping in mind for wonderful birthday presents too.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

When it comes to treating my mum, Jo Malone is the first brand that comes to mind. She's as equally obsessed with their colognes as I am, and sees off a bottle of 154 in record timing. I love the 30ml bottles for gift giving as I find they are both perfect in size and price. 

Argentum La Potion Infinie is as luxury as luxury could possibly get and has the price tag to prove it. I use this little jar of magic when my skin is in need of some extra loving and I'd love to live in a world that I could treat each and every special lady in my family to a jar. As far as anti-ageing skincare goes, I truly do believe that this miracle cream is unbeatable. I will review it in full very soon! 

For gift sets that include lots of useful products to try out, Elemis have it nailed and are probably the gift of choice amongst most of us for that reason. I really enjoy that they are always such great value and more often than not the products included are worth around double the price that they are set at, and this one comes with a really useful wash bag too.  

From the very start of my blogging days up until now, Liz Earle has remained one of my all time favourite skincare brands and after introducing my family to the brand is now a staple for them too. My mum bought this set for my nana which just goes to show that my skincare advice has taken affect on them both. 

Back in my beauty college days (4 years ago!) I trained in Dermalogica facials and became rather addicted to a whole host of their products. My most loved product was always the Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque and now that I'm the proud owner of my very own version, I've become once again addicted to the stuff. It gives the most hydrated, dewy and radiant looking complexion I've ever had and makes my skin look as if I down eight pints of water each and every day, which I assure you is far from reality. 

March 03, 2016

february favourites

For the first time ever I have my act together enough to put together a monthly favourites post. I keep reminding myself that there are so many products that I love but just simply don't get round to talking about, and I've now put myself on the mission to type away about my favourites on a much more regular basis. A girl can only but try hey.

I seem to have finally cracked the perfect dewy yet decent coverage base. I use Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer to start off with, which gives my skin a beautiful glow and really does make my foundation last much longer throughout the day. Next up I conceal my terrible dark circles with Bobbi Brown Corrector and Creamy Concealer, the combination of these two works like nothing else as they are both long-lasting and full coverage. I then apply Illamasqua Skin Base to wherever needs the most coverage and finish off with Chanel Vitalumiere to ensure I'm left with a radiant looking complexion. 

If you can't already tell, I'm wild about the glowing skin look, which is why I've been loving using Mac Strobe Cream on my cheekbones and then setting it in place with the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Pink Quartz. If you want strong highlight game too then seriously check these out. 

No surprises that Maybelline Lash Sensational is my current favourite mascara being that everyone seems to be mentioning it as of late. It gives my lashes such a great curl, along with thickness and a deep black colour that stays around all day. Staying on the lashes theme, I've recently got back into wearing falsies for special events and nights out and have been a big fan of the Huda Beauty versions. They are so well made and are far superior to any that I've tried from less expensive brands, very similar to Mac lashes but with added drama. 

Perhaps my favourite discovery this month has been the Stila Liquid Lipstick in Ricco. I'd never used a liquid lipstick before up until a few weeks ago (madness!) and it's safe to say that I'm now absolutely converted. I adore the deep red shade of this and even more so how it stays put for hours and hours. 

February 13, 2016

valentine's day gift ideas

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

They don't call me last minute Larry for nothing! I did in fact have this post planned for a little while now but being the busy bee that I am, have only just got round to putting it together. Fingers crossed that a few of you are just as preoccupied as I am and are still in need of a Valentine's idea or two. I realise that the majority of people reading my blog are girls, but for the few fellas that are reading this, I've popped in some gift ideas for your lady too. If you fancy any of the gifts above, send your partner in crime a link to this post as a little hint hint. Off I go to overdose on chocolate and Chambord. 

February 12, 2016

how to be a blogger: creating a media kit

blogger media kit

It seems like years since I got my act together and wrote up a new post for my "how to be a blogger" series. Although I do still love this blog dearly, I've been spending most of my time attempting to build up my lifestyle blog (ever the fool that I am for creating two blogs). It has taken me a fair few years to get to the point that I've been to enough cool places to even consider myself as a proper ~travel blogger~ but finally the time was upon me to put together a media kit. 

What the bloody hell is a media kit I hear you cry. Up until recently I wasn't too sure either. In ultra basic terms, it's a PDF formatted space to sell yourself and your blog to PR people. You can be super serious with it, and include stats, analytics and cram it with information, or you can get creative and make it look visually exciting. With mine, I decided to keep it as simple looking as possible, whilst incorporating the same theme of colours and fonts that I use on both of my blogs. I really do believe that the foundation for having an impressive blog is continuity and having a recognisable style. I used Pages to create my media kit and then uploaded the PDF folder to Dropbox to make it super easy for people to have a quick look at, rather than having to spend half of their life waiting for it to download from an email. 

My top tips are to add in links within text, include screenshots rather than usernames for social media, keep it clear and to the point, name drop some brands that you've collaborated with and put in a few photos of yourself too. The media kit I created was extra content heavy as it's sole use will be to send out to travel related contacts and is therefore very specific, but when I create one for my beauty blog it will have just one page for examples of product reviews and sponsored content. If you're thinking of creating a media kit yourself, the easiest way to get started is to ask yourself what you want to gain. If that's sponsored posts, then you may want to include lots of stats, if it's product review opportunities, then you will most likely feature a lot of written content, or let's say you'd like to work with more clothing brands, then you'd add in lots of outfit photos.  

I'm so ridiculously far from an expert when it comes to these things, but I really hope this post has helped a few of you out and if you want to take a sneaky look at how mine looks then click here.

January 30, 2016

zoeva rose golden luxury brush set


At long last I have jumped aboard the Zoeva brush bandwagon. Besides trying out a Sigma set when I first started blogging (6 years ago!), and investing in the odd Mac and Real Techniques brush, I've never owned a proper brush set as such. Although brush sets are a considerable investment, I truly do believe that they are the basis of building up a decent makeup collection. All the better if they're rose gold too.

After giving each and every brush a good test out, I can confirm that they are well worth the hype surrounding them. My award of favourite brush has to go to the 104 Buffer simply because it's such a great allrounder at applying liquid, cream and powder foundation. I'm going to put it out there and go as far as to say that it's without a doubt the best foundation brush that I've ever used. Second best is 109 Luxe Face Paint (the fanned out looking one) as it's perfect to create a precise contour on the cheeks without loading on too much product. There truly isn't one single brush in the whole set that I won't be using on a regular basis and that has been anything less than the standard of even Mac brushes. I also love how the handles are slightly shorter than most brushes, meaning that they don't end up taking up more than their fair share of space in a makeup bag. 

Although I'm hugely impressed by the set, I'm not such a fan of the clutch case that is included and think they look a million times prettier in a Mac clear case. If you've spent a decent amount of money on a brush set you want to be able to show them off right?

The set without a doubt gets my *buy it, you won't regret it* stamp of approval and in the way of value for money I'd say they are spot on for price!