Monday, 30 November 2015

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Inside

Followers of my Instagram account will know that I was a little overcome recently by the beauty of the new Freedom Makeup London palette that landed on my doorstep.

They have launched a new collaboration with the House of GlamDolls and they have brought out a range of makeup products all centring around different looks.

This is the Exotica Doll Look palette which was inspired by 'exotic destinations and tropical voyages to reveal your sultry beauty'.

Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on it with you all as I've had a chance to use it and create some different looks with it.

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Outer Packaging

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Inside and outer packaging

The Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look palette contains 4 brow powders, 3 powder highlighters, 10 powder eyeshadows, 2 powder blushers and 4 lipsticks all for the grand total of £8.  This is affordable makeup at its absolute best and from the outset, I can definitely see that this is a palette that has been well thought out.

The shades in the palette can either be used to create the look shown on the front of the palette and further detailed on a step-by-step information leaflet inside, or they can be used to create your own look.  You can really let your imagination run wild with this palette as there's so much variety, you could really create any number of looks from bright and vibrant to light and shimmery or from neutral to deep and smokey.

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Inside

The two blushes in the palette are called Sculpt and Mystery.

I actually think that Sculpt is more of a contour shade than a blush, given its name and muddy brown colour.  It makes the perfect shade to lightly sculpt your face without having to work to hard to blend it all all together.  This shade actually reminds me of a lighter version of Hoola by Benefit which is the contour shade that I'm currently using at the moment and have almost used up completely!  I'll then continue to use this Freedom contour powder on a regular basis as it is just as good as any high end one that I have and being completely matte, it is able to add warmth to the face without making me look like a glitter ball!

The blush shade, Mystery, is a gorgeous coral that is deep enough to still be worn during the winter months.  While this isn't a completely matte shade, it isn't shimmery either.  It just adds a luminosity to the skin that looks really healthy and natural.

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Blush Shade Swatches
Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette blush shades in Mystery and Sculpt (left and right respectively)
Within the palette, there are four matte eyeshadow shades; a deep blacker than black shade, a teal blue, a lime green and a white.  All of which are very pigmented and pack so much colour onto the eyelids.

I love that they've included a super white in here as it enables you to add serious highlight to the eyes and it also is great for putting on as a base on which to apply the other eyeshadows to make them stand out even more.

The black is also incredibly useful as it is ridiculously pigmented and super black, not grey in the slightest.  This shade is ideal for very smokey eyes, deepening up other eyeshadow looks and for adding definition to the eyes as a powder liner.

I doubt I'll really use the blue teal or the lime green shade but they're a great addition to the palette for those that like to experiment with colour.  I'm just not really into those colours.

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Matte Eyeshadow Swatches
Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Matte Eyeshadow Shades
Next we have the shimmer eyeshadows which are all absolutely stunning as I'm sure you can tell here.  There are six in the palette, ranging from earthy brown, orange and khaki to very wearable shades of pink and purple.

They're very shimmery without being glittery and reflect the light on the eyes well.

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Shimmer Eyeshadow Swatches
Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Shimmer Eyeshadows
My favourite part of the whole palette has to be the selection of highlight shades.  There are three; Light which is the cream matte on the top left, Haze which is a warm champagne shimmer highlight which is beneath it and Starlight which is the longest, cool shimmery highlighter.

I think it is quite rare to find three powder highlighters in a palette.  Especially three that are this good and in a drugstore palette!  These are ideal for using on the brow bone, inner corner and across the whole eye for lighter eyeshadow looks.  I've even used Starlight as a highlighter on my nose, cupids bow and cheek bones.  They all work really effectively and add just the right amount of glow to the face.

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Powder Highlighter Swatches
Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Powder Highlighters
The last powders in the palette are the brow powders and I think that Freedom have more or less covered all bases here with Taupe which is ideal for blondes, Brunette which is great for red heads and warmer brunettes, Bark which is great for those brunettes who like a bold brow and Ebony which is ideal for those with super dark hair.

All of these powders can be used through the brows or as eyeshadows which is great because if you were buying this palette for yourself, unless you change your hair colour very frequently, you wouldn't need to use all of these colours in your brows.  For mine, I like to mix the top two shades to give me a cool toned brow that makes my brows stand out but still suits and compliments my ash blonde hair.  The result is very natural and tailored to my hair colour.

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Brow Powder Shades and Swatches
Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Brow Powders
Finally, this palette has four lipstick shades; Naked which is a pinky nude, Pout which is an orangey red, Seduce which is a red toned brown and Bitten which is a red.

These shades have a very glossy finish to them which makes the lips look juicy but they aren't very pigmented and the colour payoff isn't anything to write home about.  I'd say that these were more like lip glosses than lipsticks!

Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades Swatches
Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette Lipstick Shades
Freedom and the House of GlamDolls have done a great job with this palette and I'm really impressed with the varied selection of shades, the number of looks that you can create with the palette and the staying power.  I'm wearing the brow powder, contour and blush, eye shadows (pink shades) and lippy in the photos below and this picture was taken after about 6 hours of wear so as you can see, they have stuck around really well.

Makeup Look Created Using The Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette
Makeup Look Created Using The Freedom House of GlamDolls Exotica Doll Look Palette
While I'm someone who really doesn't appreciate lipsticks in palettes, as I think that they're messy and easily get the powders stuck in them, they do make this palette and all rounder.  It is certainly incredibly travel friendly and if you're heading out somewhere and want to pack minimally, this set ticks so many makeup items off your list.

If you're someone who travels often or who likes to create a variety of different looks, then I'd definitely recommend it.

You can pick it up from the Freedom Website here.

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Sunday, 29 November 2015

NEW IN | Mesauda Milano Ethereal Illusion & Diva Lipsticks

Over the last few weeks, I've been trying out some new makeup pieces from Mesauda Milano.

Haven't heard of them before?  I hadn't until recently.

They're an Italian makeup brand who are inspired by high fashion trends for their super stylish and sophisticated customers and now they're available in the UK, straight from one of the fashion capitals of the world!

I have been trying out three products from Mesauda*; two lipsticks and one Ethereal Illusion powder and today, I wanted to share my thoughts on them.

Starting with the Mesauda Milano Ethereal Illusion which is a pressed powder foundation that comes in a gorgeous compact with a mirror in the flip up lid and a sponge underneath the product in the base.  The packaging is weighty, high quality and well thought out in design.

Ethereal Illusion has a wet and dry formula, meaning you can either swirl a brush around it in for a lighter look or moisten the sponge that comes with the compact and use it to apply the powder foundation for a heavier look.  I love that you can be completely flexible with the coverage that this foundation gives which is great for if you're wanting to adjust how heavy your base is for days or evenings, summer or winter wear, bad skin days vs good skin days and so on.

It is very pigmented and the powder is finely milled and buttery soft.  The coverage is very buildable which is great because it means that you can build it up in areas where you need it, for example if you're suffering from a breakout and have a lighter coverage on areas where you don't.

When I first saw this powder, I knew instantly that this wasn't going to be the right colour for me.  There are four shades available in the Ethereal Illusion range, and the one that I have, Praline, is the second to darkest.  However that hasn't put me off using it as I've been applying it as a light contour powder and using it around the perimeters of my face to sculpt my face overall.  The effect is stunning.  It has an incredibly smoothing effect on the skin and it blends incredibly well which gives a really natural, seamless look.

When I was testing this product out, I actually applied it to my full face once on a day where I wasn't going to be leaving the house and although the colour wasn't right, the effect was stunning.  It had this smoothing effect that seemed to blur my imperfections, especially the large pores that I have on my cheeks around my nose.

For a powder foundation, I was surprised to see that it didn't leave my skin looking dry or flat.  The finish with this powder is luminous, looks like satin and feels so natural yet it has great staying powder on the skin.  The powder is silky smooth to the touch, incredibly soft and it glides onto the skin without clinging to dry patches.

The Ethereal Illusion powder has an incredible formula which you can read all about on their website but essentially, we're all looking for something that is going to look great on our skin and this is definitely it!

The other two products that I have been trying out from Mesauda Milano are their Diva Pearly Lipsticks which are nothing short of stunning.

Firstly, the shape of the lipstick as it is in the bullet above is how this lipstick comes, that's not my lips that have shaped it that way.  The design of the lipstick enables the product to literally hug the lips as you apply it which ensures a really even, smooth application from the first swipe.  The point of the lipstick enables you to create a really defined, yet natural cupids bow to make a beautiful statement of your lips which is what I'm all about.

The Diva Pearly Lipsticks feel silky smooth and soft on the lips, they're lightweight and have a light reflecting, luminous appearance on the lips.  I'm wearing both of the lipsticks that I have from them in photos above and below respectively and I honestly couldn't be more in love with them, especially the nude.

I have two shades, Brigitte and Angelina.  

Brigitte is the most perfect shade for Christmas.  It is a mid toned, raspberry red with a gorgeous light reflecting shimmer to it.  It adds light to the face and is a great alternative to many of the traditional red lipsticks out there that we all seem to wear at this time of the year.

My favourite of the two has to be Angelina though.  This is the most incredible cool toned nude shade that has just the right amount of shimmer in it to catch the light without being glittery or sparkly at all.  It makes the lips look full, juicy and all round perfected.  I've been wearing it as part of a minimal makeup look for during the day which I really like the effect of but the way that I like to wear it the most is with a deep smokey eye.  It looks stunning.

All of the lipsticks are named after divas from the past and present which I think is a really sweet idea.  They both glide onto the lips and have a really pigmented finish while remaining luminous and not over the top at all.  What I love the most about them is that they feel so hydrating on the lips yet they don't slip around and they both have great staying power.  They don't bleed which is great as I can wear them without a lip liner if I choose to.  They feel so comfortable and hydrating on the lips and they wear evenly so they're the perfect option if you're going to be out all day, having a meal and drinking often.

Mesauda Milano cosmetics are available direct from their website here and from Beauty Crowd.

I would highly recommend all of the products that I have tried from them but especially the Mesauda Milano Diva Lipstick in Angelina.  That shade is just something else; f you're looking for a comfortable to wear, hydrating and illuminating nude, then that one has to be it!

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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Charles Worthington Violet Shampoo & Toning Mousse

Photographs of the packaging of the Charles Worthington Violet Shampoo & Toning Mousse

If you follow me on Instagram then you may have noticed that I changed my hair colour recently.  I only asked for a subtle change but I wanted it to be noticeable at the same time.  I felt that my hair had been looking quite warm toned in places in recent months and I wanted to switch it up with some cooler tones.

I had some cool toned brown lowlights and some ash blonde highlights put through my hair at my favourite salon in Sunderland called Frances Marshall a few weeks ago and I am absolutely loving the result.  It is still very natural but just a little cooler toned than before which I think is a nice contrast for the winter.

To keep the ashier tones in my hair, I've been giving the Charles Worthington Salon At Home Colour Management products a go.  This is a line that they released to target specific hair colours to give the hair a glossy winter coat.  There are products for blondes, brunettes and for those with platinum or grey hair.  I picked out the ones for platinum/grey hair as although my hair is still very much blonde, it is on the cooler side.

The products aimed for cooler blondes and those with grey hair are the Charles Worthington Colour Enhancer Violet Shampoo* and the Charles Worthington Violet Toning Colour Revive Mousse*.  They're designed to be used as an at home colour cycle with the two products working together to fight fading colour over the winter months and to keep your colour looking vibrant and fresh in between salon visits.

Photographs of the packaging of the Charles Worthington Violet Shampoo & Toning Mousse

I've been using the shampoo every third time that I wash my hair, which is about once a week for me, and on the same wash, I've been using the mousse.  In between, I've been using the shampoo and conditioner that I posted about here, mainly because I find that I don't need any additional use of the Charles Worthington products because they work so well with only one application per week.

The shampoo is a mild but effective violet shampoo in that it is great at cleansing my hair without stripping it of all moisture and it neutralises the brassy tones in my hair but it isn't strong enough to literally tint it purple or pink like I've found with some purple shampoos that I've tried in the past.  It contains a UV filter and colour protection technology to ensure that the hair maintains a radiance and feels silky soft which I'd definitely agree with as when I tried using it on its own to begin with, in order to be able to give you all a thorough review, I found that my hair looked bright, felt so silky and had a natural sheen to it after use.

The mousse is a very strange product and one that took a bit of getting used to for me as I think to begin with, I was applying too much product.  To use it, you section off your hair and then apply a couple of pumps to each section.  The first couple of times I used it, I thought that that wouldn't be enough so I applied it more liberally but it left my hair looking great (thick, texturised and cool toned) but it didn't feel very nice.  It felt as though my hair was dirty and as though I had lots of product in my hair, which in hindsight, I did.  However when I actually started following the instructions and applying it as directed, I started to like it a lot more, funnily enough!

I can still feel it in my hair a little bit but in a good way as I actually feel as though it gives my hair a little bit of oomph and texture while doing a brilliant job keeping my hair looking cool toned.  It is an effect that actually lasts through my other two washes until I come to use the shampoo and the mousse again which I'm so impressed with as so many other products just wash out straight away.

While I cannot say for certain, I am very impressed with how my colour has lasted since using these products and I do think that they have had an impact on the longevity of my hair colour.  My hair is very porous and usually when I have cool brown lowlights, they wash out incredibly quickly but since I have been using these products, I've noticed that the cooler tone has lasted in my hair far longer than it ever has in years gone by when I've had the same kind of colours in my hair.

I'm very impressed with them and I'm going to keep using both of them to see the impact on my hair over the next month before my next trip to the hairsalon.  So far, it has been great at maintaining my cool toned colour and has successfully eradicated the warm, brassy tones from my hair so the future is looking bright!


What are your favourite Charles Worthington products?

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Friday, 27 November 2015

The Best Black Friday Deals

Pieces that are on sale silver rose gold and gold for the black friday deal at jewellery box

Today's the day all of you shopaholics have been waiting for; Black Friday.

In this post I'm going to share with you all of the best #BlackFriday deals and I'll be updating it throughout the day and across Cyber Weekend to keep you up to date with the best fashion and beauty deals.

Starting with online jewellery website JewelleryBox.Co.UK. If you've been reading my blog for a while now then you'll know that I posted a review of some of their products earlier on this year.  You can see photos and read my thoughts here.

This Black Friday, they're offering some great deals of up to 75% off 6 of their favourite products which are all in the image above.  For one day only (TODAY), they'll be available to buy for only £1 each.  They are also offering £1 shipping on all orders on 27th November as well as their usual free shipping on orders over £10.  You can shop all of these deals on their website here.

Jewellery Box have also just opened their first pop up shop for two weeks at @PopBixton.  They've also just opened their second shop which will be open until 28th December at 64 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RF.  It is an enchanted jewellery winter wonderland and will also have their Black Friday deal there too!

Photo showing the jewellery box pieces that are on sale for black friday

As promised, I have also found lots of fabulous codes for you to use to get the best beauty and fashion discounts online.  Beat the crowds and shop online.

Here are the codes YOU need to get the best discounts:

Get 30% off Handbags and Accessories at MyBag, including the Outlet using code BLACKFRIDAY (brands include Ted Baker, The Cambridge Satchel Company, Lulu Guinness, Rebecca Minkoff, Daniel Wellington, KARL LAGERFELD and more).

Fancy 20% off at Selfridges? Here you go, enter SELFCCE at the check out


20% OFF ASOS for UK customers, enter code CYBER at check out

30% OFF ASOS for US customers, enter code BLESSED at check out

Designer lovers get 10% off Farfetch with code BF2015

Save 20% on selected beauty at Look Fantastic with code LFBlack

Get a whopping 30% off L K Bennett with code THANKS

Get 30% off at AllSole, including the Outlet, with the code BLACKFRIDAY (brands include Vans, Converse, Ted Baker, UGG, Dr Martens, Timberland, Asics, Hunter, Birkenstock and more). 

Save 20% at Luisaviaroma with code BFR20

Get 20% off River Island with code BFRIDAY15

HUGE beauty savings to be made on Cult Beauty
£10 off when you spend £60 code: MERRY10
£20 off when you spend £100 code: MERRY 20
£45 off when you spend £200 code: MERRY45
£75 off when you spend £300 code: MERRY75

FREE SHIPPING on orders over £50

Get a huge 30% OFF designer fashion for men and women at Coggles including the Outlet with code BLACKFRIDAY (brands include UGG, Paul Smith, Barbour, Belstaff, Alexander Wang, Vivienne Westwood, Canada Goose, McQ Alexander McQueen, Red Valentino, OBEY and more).

Also, I thought I'd share something local to the North East with you as top Sunderland hair salon, Frances Marshall are offering some amazing discounts TODAY ONLY.  See below for full details.

Happy shopping!

What bargains are you hoping to pick up this Black Friday?

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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Plus Size Fashion Haul Feat. River Island, Navabi and More!

Blogger what laura loves holding up a pink dress from yours clothing and a bag of clothes from river island

Another week has flown by and that means another Thursday video on my Youtube Channel.

This week, I'm talking all about the plus size fashion pieces that I've added to my wardrobe over the last few weeks.

I started with one of my favourite none plus size stores which may surprise some of you but I actually get lots of my clothes from there.  I guess my biggest piece of advice is to simply try clothes on.  Buy clothes that you love the fit of on your figure and that you think look great; forget about the label.  Thats what I did with the Grey Knitted Cold Shoulder Jumper which feels so soft and snuggly, the Black Metallic Slogan Print Swing T-Shirt that I love the slogan on and the Dark Blue Knitted Wrap Front Asymmetric Top which looks great for a night out with some skinny jeans and heels.

Next I picked up some pieces from one of my favourite plus size clothing stores.  The Pink Swing Prom Dress With Lace Overlay is sure to see me through the whole of the festive season and the Black Oversized Drop Shoulder Jumper With V Neck over the top of the Black Sequin Front Ponte Panel Leggings With Elasticated Waist will make a great outfit for Christmas Eve when we go carol singing and to the pub.  I also bought lots of pyjamas here too including the Turquoise Mickey and Minnie 'Selfie' Disney Pyjama Set for my trip to Poland coming up which I picked because of the long sleeves and the Black Basic Cotton Pyjama Trousers which will be ideal for late at night, after the gym (don't judge!).  I also bought the Green and Blue Micky and Minnie Mouse Take Me To The Moon Pyjama Set for wearing over the winter now that the cold weather has set in and the Lilac and White Olaf Disney Frozen Pyjama Set for Christmas Eve but I didn't show them in the video because I've been wearing the first set and the second have been sent away to Santa...

I also shared some pieces that I have been gifted recently from a plus size fashion website called Navabi.  These guys seriously know their stuff and have curated pieces from various plus size designers that are unlike many pieces that are available in plus size highstreet shops.  The Adia Detachable Faux Fur Collar Cape is going to be the perfect piece for me to wrap up in this autumn and I've already been enjoying layering it up, especially over the Gozzip A-Line Pocket Dress which is SO comfortable to wear.  My favourite piece though have to be the MAT Leather Look Waterfall Jacket which is not only my most loved item from this haul but possibly out of all of the items that I've bought or received this year.  I feel as though I have been looking for a plus size faux leather jacket for YEARS and finally, I have found one that fits like a glove.  I couldn't be more excited about it if I tried.  I've not even had it that long and yet it is the jacket that I've worn every single time I've left the house.  I'm even considering buying a back up.

Last but not least, it wouldn't be a haul without some accessories.  It was about time that I added the Michael Kors Moc Fulton Slip On Shoes in Midnight Blue/Navy to my collection and I can't stop looking at how beautiful they were.  The Helen Moore Faux Fur Heart Pom Pom Keyring was a bit of a pricey purchase for what it is and I don't really have a bag for it to go with but I LOVE IT and will work it into my accessories wardrobe some how as it is that pretty!

I would love it if you could head on over to my new Plus Size Winter Fashion Haul video and give it a thumbs up.  I really hope you enjoy it.


What clothing pieces have you picked up recently?

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

My Christmas Traditions | #MakeTheirChristmas

As I sit and write this, it is exactly one month until Christmas Day and I couldn't be more excited.  I've really taken the stress out of Christmas by doing all of my present shopping early so that I could really enjoy taking my time choosing what gifts to buy my family and friends, my cards are all signed and sealed and all that's left for me to do is to enjoy the festive season.

Its great to see all of the Christmas adverts on the TV as they really do get me all excited and full of anticipation.  The advert for Littlewoods this year is absolutely fantastic.  It features their brand ambassador, Myleene Klass, alongside some of their key pieces from the Littlewoods Christmas range.  Everything from the visuals to the music is stunning.  It is worth a watch just to hear the piano music but I'm sure you'll agree that it really conjures up the excitement of Christmas!

For me, the weeks leading up to Christmas are just as exciting as the day itself, if not more so.  I'm not a religious person but at the same time, I don't think that Christmas is all about big, flashy gifts either, although I do like to ensure that I get those closest to me something that they'll love.  Ultimately though, it is all of the little things that really make my Christmas, like spending time with those that I love and keeping up the traditions that we've made over the years.  My friends and family mean the absolute world to me so to be able to enjoy time with them is what I love the most about Christmas.

In this post, I thought I'd share some of the little things that really make my Christmas.

If you've been following me on Twitter then you'll know that I've been downloading tonnes of Christmas songs onto my iPhone.  I must have at least 6 different versions of The Christmas Song on there but I'll never tire of it.  I love listening to Christmas songs, especially when we put our tree up which is actually our first tradition.

In our house, we like to put our Christmas tree up on the 1st of December.  We do a really big clean of our sitting room and then put the tree up while playing our favourite Christmas songs.  All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey and Fairytale of New York by The Pogues are two of my absolute favourites.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Mr WLL and I always have a couple of Christmassy days out.  This usually involves heading into Newcastle or the Metrocentre for a spot of Christmas shopping and lunch somewhere.  We always go to the cinema too to see a Christmas film if theres one out.  Either way, watching festive films features heavily in our Christmas celebrations as once our home is looking all warm and festive, we like to light the candles, snuggle up and watch lots of Christmas DVDs.

I like to spend time with my friends in the lead up to the big day.  There's one particular group that I've known since school and every year we meet up for supper and drinks in a nice restaurant and exchange gifts.  Nothing too expensive, more like stocking fillers, as we found that its so easy for the budget to get out of hand which was fine when we were all living at home but now that we all have our own bills to pay, we're a little more conscious of how much we're spending.  What I love the most about this particular part of my festive season is that we all spend time finding the perfect Christmas party dress, getting dressed up and doing our hair and makeup nicely.  I just love nights out with these girls and my Christmas wouldn't be complete without it!

Mr WLL and I always do our food shop on Christmas Eve and while most people that I speak to think that this is so stressful, we actually enjoy it as we go really early, get it all done and dusted, home and unpacked and then we start to enjoy our day.  This year we're going to sing Christmas carols and enjoy mince pies and mulled wine at a place near us and we couldn't be more excited.  We're going to come home to drop the car off afterwards and walk along to the pub like we usually do for a quick Christmas drink.  I love doing this every year as all of the locals are always in such good spirits.  It is a real community atmosphere.

Then its home to really start enjoying our Christmas traditions.

Every year I make a stocking for Mr WLL and my dad and they make one for me too.  Each stocking has some Christmas chocolate inside, along with a new set of Pyjamas and a Lush bath ballistic.  You can see which ones I bought in my Lush haul YouTube video.  Then we each take a Christmas Lush bath and then pop our new PJs on.  Usually we'll have a 'picky tea' while watching a Christmas film and then we'll get into our freshly laundered beds before midnight (otherwise Santa wont come!).

I might be 27 but I really like to keep the magic of Christmas alive.  Its such a special time to spend with my family and without all of these little things, it just wouldn't be the same.

What makes your Christmas?

*This post was written in collaboration with Littlewoods

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Tuesday, 24 November 2015

CHRISTMAS GIFT | Monarch Leather Accordion Clutch Wallet

Monarch Leather Accordion Clutch Wallet Showing the outside of the monarch wallet and the detachable strap

I'm sure I don't have to remind you all that Christmas is very quickly approaching and I really hope that your Christmas shopping is well underway by now as before you know it, there wont be much time left!

Today, I have another gift idea for you and its from Canadian leather accessory brand, Monarch.

Monarch Leather Accordion Clutch Wallet showing the packaging of how it arrives

Monarch Leather have a whole range of products that would be make ideal Christmas gifts whether you're buying for a man or a woman.

For men, they have a gorgeous range of wallets in so many different styles and sizes.  I find that wallets with plenty of card slots are so important these days as we all seem to spend on our cards far more than we pay in cash.  Plus theres a store card for absolutely everything now.  My hubby is a bit of a sucker for points cards and he's trying to get my interested in them so has given me lots of the little ones that go on my keys.  I currently have one for Waitrose, Tesco, my beautician, our hair dresser and the dry cleaners.  There's no doubt in my mind that by this time next year, I'll have several more of these to tell you about!

I really like the Monarch mens wallets that are in the two tone leather as I think they really stand out and the pop of colour on the inside adds a little extra interest.  So if you're looking to buy for a man this Christmas then that's what I would suggest.

Logo design on the Monarch wallet

With regards to gifts for women, Monarch have a big selection from wallets to handbags and clutch wallets.  They sent me over one of  the latter and I love how great quality it is.

The Accordion Clutch Wallet is a great piece for a woman on the go who likes to be able to grab her purse and have everything that she needs already inside.  It is very functional but fashionable too as it is could easily be used as a clutch for a meal out at night if you're not someone who likes to carry too much with you.  It has a detachable hand strap as well as a strap that is secured across the back of the wallet that you can put your hand through so that it is easy to hold.

It is quite wide and very sturdy, with a solid zip to open it.  There's no questioning that this wallet is very well made.

Inside it is an organisers dream.  There are 12 card slots for all of your credit, debit and store cards, 5 multifunction pockets which are ideal for receipts, gift cards and notes, a zipped coin compartment and a padded smart phone compartment so you can slip your mobile inside and know that it is going to be protected should you be less than careful with your wallet.

I love that my phone can fit inside here as it makes this wallet a great piece that I can take out with me on a night as all I need to pop inside are my cards, my phone and my key which all fit perfectly well as they don't take up too much room.

Monarch Leather Accordion Clutch Wallet showing the outside of the wallet and hand strap

This particular accordion clutch wallet is in the ebony grain leather which is absolutely stunning.  The grain of this leather actually reminds me of my new handbag which I'm sure you'll have heard me talking about over on my youtube channel.  The wallet doesn't have any major branding on it.  There is a logo on the front face that is embossed into it but it is quite subtle.

If you're looking for a gift for the lady in your life then I'd recommend checking out the range at Monarch.  I think this wallet in particular would be great for a mother on the go.  She could keep her phone and money essentials in here and then just grab it out of her bag if she needed to pop into a shop, etc rather than having to carry her whole bag with her if it is full of lots of things and heavy to carry.

To purchase the Accordion Clutch Wallet or any of the other leather goods from Monarch, head on over to their website here.

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Monday, 23 November 2015

TRAVEL | 3 Long Haul Flight Essentials

I'm sure we all know by now that I can't stand the cold for too long so I'm sure it doesn't come as much of a surprise when I say that I've already booked my next trip; I'm off to Mauritius this winter and I cannot wait.

While my itchy feet don't like to stay on British soil for too long, they also don't like to be in the air for too long either although I'm sure the 12 hour flight will be more than worth it.  With all intents and purposes, I intend to get off the plane feeling refreshed and looking the best version of my 12 hour self possible.

These are the long haul flight essentials that I'll be taking with me to keep me hydrated, moisturised and generally refreshed while I'm in the air.

The first is an absolutely fabulous kit from relatively new skincare brand Air Repair which was founded by a licensed aesthetician and avid traveler, Denise Spanek who noted a gap in the market for skincare products that specifically target the harsh environmental stresses on the skin that are caused by climate changes and flight fatigue.  The great thing about Air Repair skincare products is that they're all made in the USA and are cruelty free.

The Air Repair Kit is a 5 piece kit of Grab and Glow Skincare for Travel and Beyond.  It comes in a very sturdy zipped bag that complies with airport regulations to you can pop it into your carry-on bag or clip it onto your hand luggage.  Plus all of the bottles inside are under 100ml so you can sail through security with them.

All of the products are designed to combat skin issues from flight fatigue to daily environmental stress by using targeted ingredients to soothe and heal the skin while restoring its health and radiance.  they're not just designed for use on the plane as you can use them when you get to your destination too which is great news for those who like to pack a lot as the one area you'll not be overpacking is your skincare.

Whenever I travel, be it short or long haul, I like to go to the airport makeup free so I'll be using the Air Repair Soothing Facial Cleansing Milk with extracts of Chamomile and Arnica in the hotel bathroom before we leave to remove my makeup if I'm wearing any and to cleanse my skin of any dirt if not.  Then I'll be using it while I'm away to take my makeup off.  It breaks down makeup nicely and doesn't leave my skin feeling tight or dry afterwards which is so important as I often find that the air-conditioning on flights drys my skin out something rotten so I don't need my cleanser to do that as well.

Once the flight takes off, I like to complete a mini skincare routine at regular intervals to keep my skin feeling super hydrated and moisturised.  Usually I'll start with a face spray so the Air Repair Complexion Quenching Facial Mist will be perfect.  It is a very refreshing facial toner and hydrator that you spritz directly onto the skin.  The formula includes Hyaluronic Acid which helps to bind moisture to the skin which is exactly what you need on a flight as the air is so dry and Aloe Vera Gel which cools and soothes the skin which is great if your skin is irritated by the air and its drying effect.

After I spritz my face, I always follow up with an eye cream and the Air Repair Super-Hydrating Eye Cream from this kit is brilliant because it has a cooling and soothing effect on the eye area.  I've been tapping it into the skin using my ring finger and find that it is absorbed quickly into the skin and because it is quite lightweight, it doesn't feel as though it is overloading the delicate skin around my eye.  It is packed full of awesome ingredients from soothing aloe and allantoin, antioxidant rich vitamin C, green tea extract and cloudberry sees oil.  It really makes my under eyes feel and look visibly hydrated which I know I will really appreciate when I get off that super long flight.

Following the application of my eye cream, I then always apply my moisturiser and this kit has one included too.  The Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturiser helps to repair dull, tired and dehydrated skin by giving it a boost of humectants and antioxidants including Cloudbery Seed Oil and Green Tea, Hyaluronic Acid, Pathenol and Heat Shock Proteins to repair and rejuvenate skin that is looking stressed and inflamed.  It feels light weight on the skin yet incredibly moisturising.  Like the eye cream, it is relatively quick to be absorbed and leaves the skin looking and feeling instantly hydrated.

Usually at this point, I would complete my skincare routine with a slick of lip balm however this kit contains the Air Repair Rescue Balm which is their hero product.  I've been trying this out since the cold weather has hit and it is absolutely brilliant.  Essentially it is a 100% natural multi-purpose balm that you can use wherever you have dry skin.  I've used it on my lips as an intensive lip balm and on my hands and wrist.  I get really dry knuckles and a patch of psoriasis on my wrist during the cold months and this balm really soothed my skin by making feel hydrated and continuously moist without being greasy.  I think this will really help me when I'm in the dry environment of the aeroplane and when I get to my destination.  It actually reminds me of a much better version of the Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream.

One of the things that I love about this kit is that it is completely unisex from the packaging right down to the contents inside so I can share the products with the person I'm travelling with and they should work really well for their skin too.

While I have tried this kit out before my flight so that I could share it with you on my blog, theres still plenty left for my two long haul flights and my holiday as they bottles are really generously sized.  However after trying out the set and seeing for myself how gentle they are on the skin, as they're free of petroleum, parabens and mineral oil, I'm confident that this is a kit that you could just grab and go without trying it first.  Each product has been designed for use in all climates by any skin type, even sensitive skin.

Another product that I've been trying out from Air Repair ahead of my holiday is the Air Repair Maximum Moisture Lip Quencher.  The idea behind this lip product is that it works as a treatment for the lips as well as a cosmetic to add a touch of colour.  It helps to nourish and heal dry or irritated lips with the Grapeseed Oil, Vitamins C and E and Hyaluronic Acid in the formula.  The Hyaluronic Acid also helps to increase water retention in the lips to give them a plumper appearance without that awful irritating sting that some lip plumping products have.

I will be getting my lash extensions on and having my brows tinted before I fly so I'm looking forward to being able to step off the plane with just a slick of this juicy pink lip colour on and maybe some big sunnies looking fresh faced and ready for a relaxing break in the sun.

My second long haul flight essential has to be a Travalo.  I have been using these for years and years as they're an absolutely superb way of being able to take your fragrance with you when you're on the go without having to carry the whole bottle with you.

This is the new luxurious Travalo Milano which is their most sophisticated and opulent refillable, portable fragrance spray to date.  I love all of the Travalo models but this one has to be my favourite because the quality is superb and it looks really stylist.  It is made of a heavier metal than the others and is available in eight different colours.  I have the white which looks so chic and I picked it out because I thought it would go with any of my handbags.  I'm loving white accessories at the moment!

The Travalo Milano is so easy to use; simply pick out one of your perfumes before you travel, remove the cap and pump the perfume into the Travalo.  It is quick and easy to do and the patented Genie-S pump-fill system ensures that the fragrance isn't contaminated by exposure to the air.

The great thing about the new style Travalo is that it contains a pioneering spray head that produces a really fine mist to disperse the perfume over a larger area super efficiently, so you're able to use your precious perfume more sparingly.  Not only that but Travalo have made the inner bottle removable and interchangeable with their 'uchange' system.  This enables users to switch out their fragrance without having to wait for their Travalo to run empty which is a great idea for people who, like me, like to change their scent regularly.

This particular Travalo is 5ml and holds 65 sprays of your favourite fragrance.  Not only does this give you more than enough for a few spritzes a night on a two week holiday but it also means that you can keep it in your hand luggage back while you're going through security.

When you're stepping off a long haul flight, the last thing that you want is to be smelling unclean so using a Travalo is a great way to freshen up.  Mine are an indispensable part of my handbag regardless of whether I'm travelling or not because they're so convenient and enable me to freshen up and smell great on the go!

The last long haul flight essential has to be a mini sized tube of toothpaste.  It doesn't matter how much gum I chew or what I eat, whenever I'm coming off a long haul flight, my breath always smells pretty bad.  I know I'm not alone in thinking this as other people who I've travelled with have all said that they have the same problem when they travel.  The only way to combat this is going into the bathroom to give your teeth a good brush.  Not only does this combat bad breath but it also makes you feel refreshed too, as well as obviously cleaning your teeth.

The one that I'll be taking on this trip is the Arm & Hammer Advance White mini toothpaste which I chose because I've used the full size in the past and it worked really well for me.  It cleans my teeth incredible well and leaves a really fresh, minty taste in my mouth.  The taste is pretty intense which is exactly what I'll be needing after such a long flight.  This is a 25ml size which will be more than enough for my trip to Poland in a few weeks and my trip to Mauritius after that.  I tend to just keep this travel size in my hand luggage as it complies with the sizes set by the airline and then I like to take a larger toothpaste with me in my suitcase as I find that this size isn't quite enough for me to use on a two week holiday, although it is ideal for a one week trip.

So that's my three essentials for a long haul flight- a moisturising skincare routine to keep my skin hydrated, a fragrance atomiser to freshen up and a travel sized toothpaste to keep my teeth clean and my breath smelling fresh.

What are your long haul flight essentials?

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