Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Sweet Charity: Leather Bag

Charity shops are great for finding things that you weren't directly looking for, but wouldn't mind owning anyway. Every time I've gone in with something specific in mind, I've never found it. I used to think that if I believed hard enough, there would be a Mulberry bag just begging me to snap it up for a tenner, but alas, I have dealt with the crushing reality that it will never happen. Instead, I've lowered my expectations to a more realistic level. 

I was actually on a hunt for a leather waist belt a while back (still haven't found one argh) and stumbled upon this gorgeous shoulder bag. It's made from a sturdy, tan leather and has a couple of different compartments inside. It's the perfect size for mooching about town and only cost me £9.99 from British Heart Foundation, which is an absolute steal. 

I enjoy finding little gems in charity shops and now try to buy things that I will actually use. I've bought my fair share of polyester monstrosities in the past, naively believing that I can somehow make them work, only to inevitably donate them back again. I've had a bit of a renewed vigour for charity shopping recently and enjoy taking the time to browse and find some bargains, the more unusual the better.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Mayfield Lavender Fields

This weekend I visited the Mayfield Lavender Fields, which are just outside of London. It might be a little out of the way but let me tell you, it's worth it. They are gorgeous. They're known locally as the Purple Hazard, as they're on a busy junction and can be quite distracting when in their full, purple force. They don't stay purple for long, so I jumped at the chance to go, camera in tow.

Unfortunately I caught the weather at a bad time and it was a bit overcast, but that didn't distract from the beauty of the fields themselves. There's purple as far as your eye can see. Well, so long as you stand with your back to the car park... I've managed to make it look pretty deserted in these pictures, but they were actually packed with tourists, families and even a bride and groom. They were taking pictures for their wedding album and they looked so happy. I bet those photos are stunning.

It's free to look around and they have a little gift shop, which sells refreshments and lavender related products (oil, wreaths etc) so it's well worth the trip out there. However, be warned that once you've looked round the fields, that's it. There's a park over the road, Oaks Park, which is nice for a wander as well, but don't go expecting to fill up the whole day. Also, be warned that there are a lot of bees. A lot. So, if you're allergic or bee-phobic, take photos from a distance! Still, small prices to pay.

I love going to places like this. It always makes me feel a bit better to get outside amongst natural beauty. Nothing beats taking in something so naturally magnificent, with fresh air in your lungs and the sun beating down on your face. Perfection.

Monday, 29 July 2013

My favourite: Moisturisers

Moisturising. Oh how I love and loathe thee. Moisturising is a necessity for me, since I have very dry skin, or thirsty skin as a beautician once described it. I must admit that I don't moisturise as often as I should. I'm trying to get into the routine of moisturising every night before I go to bed, but because it's been so hot, I keep skipping out on it because I hate the feeling of sticking to the bedsheets. I religiously moisturise my face, but my body gets left out. Mainly because I keep forgetting, but I'm trying to upgrade my beauty routine and I'm making the effort to stick to it.

This brings me onto my favourite moisturisers. I have two, mainly for the different seasons. My first is L'Occitane's Creme Ultra Riche. I adore this moisturiser for the winter, when my skin is seriously parched. It's really, really thick and moisturising and leaves me with beautifully soft skin. It is pricey. Very pricey at around £30 for the tub. I only ever buy it when I have Debenhams vouchers, but it's so worth it when I do. It does last a long time because it's so thick and a little goes a long way. 

I tend not to need this so much in summer because it is intensely moisturising and my skin isn't quite as dry, but it's a winter staple. I do really like L'Occitane's moisturisers, the hand cream being my favourite, although I tend to stick to their classic smells. I never really like the limited edition florally scents, then again I'm not a big fan of florals generally. Simple is definitely best for me. 

My other favourite moisturiser is a more recent find. It's the Aveeno Moisturising Creamy Oil. You can usually get this for about £8, which is a little more purse friendly, but still not a proper bargain. I'm still looking for a really cheap, miracle moisturiser. I like the Aveeno oil because it sinks in really easily and is not at all greasy. It's really hydrating and makes my skin very smooth. It does smell a little almondy, so if you're not a fan, then the scent probably isn't for you, but it doesn't linger on the body. I find this great for summer because it's not heavy, like the L'Occitane cream and it still does the job. 

Aveeno is specially formulated for dry skin, so I knew it would be a safe bet. I've used some of their other body products in the past and have always been impressed. Their face products on the other hand, I'm not so keen on, but I'll save that for another post. It's a great product for a quick moisture top up and the pump bottle means that I don't waste any- always a plus.

I didn't put up any pictures of the moisturiser itself, because a) it looked a bit dodgy and b) you're just going to have to take my word for it that it makes my skin softer. Trust me. 

I'm always on the hunt for new moisturisers, so if you have any recommendations, then let me know! 

(On an unrelated note, I've managed to borrow my sister's camera for a little bit since she's not using it and I loooooove it. It's a DSLR and I'm so jealous, since I've always wanted one and it's now making me want my own one. Time to start pinching the pennies...)

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Review: Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Lipstick 08

I've been on the hunt recently for a perfect nude lipstick and I think I may have found it. This is 08 from Rimmel's Kate Moss lipstick collection. It's a matte pink brown shade and is a pretty good match for my natural lip colour, just a bit better. Thankfully, it's not the sort of nude that zombifies my lips!

I spent a lot of time in Boots and Superdrug, testing lipsticks on the back of my hand like a madwoman until I found this one. A lot of the lipsticks I tried were way too brown for my skintone and as I've got a pinky undertone, I have to make sure I err on the pinkier side or else it really doesn't look right. As you can see below, it looks a bit different on my lips and my hand, but then again, I'm not wearing it on my hand outside of the house!

The lipstick itself is a bargain at £5.49 in Boots, who often do promotions on Rimmel products, so I got this one at the same time as another Kate Moss Lipstick for buy one get one half price. It's got a great pigment and smells really really good. It reminds me of some sweets I used to eat when I was younger, but I can't remember what they're called. Argh it's driving me crazy trying to remember. Probably for the best that I can't remember though!

I've worn it out a couple of times and it is pretty long lasting. Not all day, but I only had to touch it up a couple of times, which isn't a massive hassle. The lipstick is pretty creamy, goes on smoothly and didn't dry my lips out. Since it's so natural, you don't need a lip liner or anything like that. The other colour I bought, 107, is a more dramatic dark red and is very similar in texture and durability. Good to know that the quality of the collection is consistent.

I don't think I'll be buying any more right now, purely because I'm not sure if any of the other colours will suit me, but I'll keep an eye out for any new ones that may pop up in the future.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Currently reading: Michael Crichton

Being an English lit graduate, it's pretty safe to say that I like to read. However, it's taken me a long time to get back into reading after graduating. Studying English literature sucked a lot of the joy out of reading and it ended up feeling like a massive chore. I used to dread reading the assigned novels and all too often didn't read them at all (a very bad habit, would not recommend). Very slowly, I've started reading again and enjoying it.

Now, I am not a book snob by any means. I don't think that if you're not reading the classics then you're not reading. Quite the opposite. In fact, I loathe a large majority of the canon, having been subjected to dry, dire prose at university. I think the magic of reading comes from your own enjoyment. You should read what you like and be consumed by it, rather than read something for appearances and find it a chore. I can't extol the values of reading enough. I think makes you think more creatively, more critically and more broadly, opening your mind up to limitless possibilities. Ultimately, you should read what you enjoy, whether that be sci-fi, romance, crime novels, whatever. Don't let anyone else's narrow view of literature stop you from enjoying yourself. After all, there's something out there for everyone.

Since getting back into reading, I've tried to pick novels I know I'll enjoy and at the moment I cannot get enough of Michael Crichton. I'm currently working my way through his published works and devouring each book as fast as I can. I love fast paced, thriller novels and he's one of the best I've read so far. I started off by reading Jurassic Park, since it's my favourite film, and became hooked. I know next to nothing about science, having swiftly forgotten my science GCSE before the ink was even dry on my exam paper, and I'm finding it fascinating reading about something I have no knowledge of. Crichton does a good job of explaining the more scientific elements without making you feel stupid, and every book rockets along, leaving me wanting much more by the end. It's this hunger for reading that has been missing and Crichton has reignited the spark. Finally!

So far, I think Next has been my favourite, but I've got a lot more to read. Unfortunately my local library doesn't have any Crichton novels, but there's always Amazon. Those deliveries can't come fast enough.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Inspired by: Dr Spencer Reid outfit

Now, I love a good geek, me. Not in an ironic Topshop geek t-shirt way, though. You wouldn't catch me dead in one of those, but I'm not opposed to a little bit of geek chic. This is where Dr Spencer Reid comes in. Criminal Minds is one of my favourite tv programmes and Dr Reid is the resident intellectual. This means that he's dressed like a stereotypical geek, complete with sweater vests and satchels. However, for someone who gives supposedly little thought to his appearance, he does end up looking surprisingly well put together. This was probably after the wardrobe department realised that he was a very popular character. There is a marked change from the earlier series, where he goes from a hot mess, to just plain hot. Still, I'm not complaining. Here's my interpretation of his effortless geeky style.


As you can see above, Reid's look is based around v-neck knitwear, plain shirts and coordinating ties. This isn't too hard to recreate, but I think it's important to keep it tonal and not matchy-matchy. Reid generally sticks to dark, or earthy palettes and doesn't do brights. A classic shirt from TM Lewin should do the job, with a cardigan like this one with a contrast trim from Mango. Any straight leg, smart trousers will do, like these Next cigarette trousers. I picked a blue palette, since I like it, but you could easily do this with any colour, so long as you weren't going for neon. Reid wears a tie, but I think that would be walking the thin line between cosplaying Reid and being inspired by his style, so I wouldn't opt to wear one, but feel free if you think you could rock it.

Make Up

For make-up, keep it neutral and matte. I don't think Reid himself would really bother with make up. He may be a genius, but that doesn't mean he's right about everything. I'd start with a tinted moisturiser, like No7 Triple Protection Tinted Moisturiser, to keep your skin really simple and flawless. I wouldn't recommend recreating MGG's famous dark under eye circles! Something like GOSH's Matt Duo Eye Shadow in Brown Base would be good for eye shadow, paired with Seventeen Doll'd Up Mascara in Brown/Black, which gives a really natural look. You could finish it off with a cream blusher, like MUA's Blush Perfection Cream Blusher, which is an absolute bargain. I don't think you really need much more than this. After all, Reid's look is pretty fuss free.


Reid's crowning glory is his tousled mane. To imitate this, I'd highly recommend the Bumble & bumble surf spray, which gives glorious beachy waves. To enhance these, you could always use curling tongs, such as this Babyliss Hair Curling Wand, but don't forget the heat defence, like this one from Tresemme. The messier the better for hair, but within reason. You don't want to look like you got on the wrong side of an unsub.


As for accessories, I think you need to keep it simple. Jewellery feels a little out of place, so let your bag do the talking and really, would the look be complete without a satchel from the Cambridge Satchel Company? I think not. Any leather satchel will do, but these are so well made it's hard to find a better option. Reid often wears black Converse All Stars to work, which is something I'm always sceptical about. Would the FBI allow trainers as work wear? I suppose when you help catch serial killers, it doesn't really matter what footwear you've got on, so long as you get the job done. However, if you don't have a lax dress code, then you could easily wear brogues or loafers to complete the look. Remember to pair them with mismatched socks, though. That's essential.

So, there we have it, a complete Spencer Reid look. Now, who should I do next?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Mini ASOS haul

Having never used ASOS before, I thought I'd give it a go last week. Now, I am generally very wary of buying clothes online. I've only ever bought jewellery and shoes that I've seen in a shop and liked, so I'm guaranteed to like them and know what they are. Maybe I'm a bit of a control freak, I don't know. But I thought I'd get with the times and order something from ASOS, since it's the place to go for online shopping. 

I played it safe with a black ASOS Skater Dress and ASOS Chunky Metal Keeper Waist Belt and have to say, I'm impressed. One of the main reasons that I haven't bought clothes online is because of the sizing. I have trouble enough finding clothes that fit and suit me on the high street, so I was a little apprehensive of buying clothes online, where I can't try them on. However, the dress fits me perfectly and is true to size. The material of the dress is a thick jersey, which I am pleased with because I was scared that it would be made from a flimsy, Primark-esque plastic smelling material. My faith in online shopping is restored!

I bought the belt to go with it and I'm very pleased with it, since it looks exactly like the picture. I've been looking for a black and gold waist belt for a long time and this one ticked all the boxes. So far, so successful. I've been having a nosey round ASOS and have picked out a couple of other things I might get my mitts on soon.

I love the Colour Block Baseball Top (£12.00), Cropped Jersey Lined Jacket (£33.50)and the A Wear Dot Print Dress With Cut Out Back (£19.00). Now to persuade my bank card that I need these too...

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sleek Face Contour Kit Light Review

Whilst I was in Superdrug the other day, I decided to pick up something from Sleek, which is a brand that I've never tried before. I always like to try out new products and seeing as how Sleek wasn't too pricey, I thought I'd give it a go. I ended up buying the Face Contour Kit in Light. £9.99 gets you a matt contour colour, a shimmery highlight colour and a glittery rose pink blush, not completely dissimilar to NARS' famous Orgasm blusher for a fraction of the cost. I do love a good dupe.

I think this product tonally works very well as a set of three. I have very pale skin and ginger hair, so I'm a little wary of anything too dark, for fear of looking too vampy or too muddy, but this palette errs on the right side of pale. It's not too subtle, which is a good thing. There are too many products aimed at pale skin that wouldn't seem out of place in a zombie's make up drawer. Thankfully, this isn't one of them.

As for the products, the blush is probably the best. The highlight is pretty, but unremarkable. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's not particularly special either. The contour is durable and goes on smoothly, but is maybe a touch too dark for my tastes. I must admit though, that I'm not particularly adept at contouring, and frequently end up wiping the failed attempts off my face. I think the trick is to start light and build colour, rather than slap it all on with gusto... I've still got a lot to learn when it comes to contouring.

As for the blush, it catches the light beautifully and brightens my cheeks. I think it's a great sheer, summer blusher that isn't too in your face. It gave me a healthy glow and although I'm not usually a fan of glittery blushes, this one was quite subtle so didn't leave me looking like I'd bathed in fairy dust. Can't be a bad thing.

For the price, I think the colour pay off is great and it's very suited to pale skin. A great little starter kit.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint Review

This weekend I picked up a few bits and bobs from Superdrug in town. I'm usually more of a Boots girl, but they were having three for two across their nail products, so I took the opportunity to pick up three Barry M nail varnishes from the new Gelly Hi-Shine range. I've wanted to try this range for a while and I can't resist a good offer. I think the general idea of this polish is that your nails look like they've been shellaced, meaning you don't have to faff around with going back to the salon to get your shellac removed. Very appealing if you ask me.

I chose the colours Passion Fruit, Guava and Blueberry (left to right) and I have to say I'm quite impressed. The formula itself is pretty gloopy and takes a while to dry, but once it does, it dries to a shiny, smooth finish. I used two coats and my nails haven't chipped yet after wearing the polish for two days. I think this is probably due to the thick formula. However, you could probably get away with just one coat if you were in a rush.

I'm currently wearing Passion Fruit, a gorgeous reddy-orange colour, that really brightens up my pale skin tone. It's universally flattering and very summery in a cocktails on the beach sort of way. Perfect for this legitimately hot summer we're having in the UK.

The Barry M polishes are a great alternative to other pricier summer nail varnishes, such as Essie's Summer Mini Collection 2013 and hold up just as well in the heat. I wouldn't say that my nails necessarily look shellaced as was the intention, but they are pretty shiny and that's good enough for me at £3.99 a bottle.