Sunday, 26 February 2017

Makeup & Perfume For First Dates, Including NEW Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc Review

February has certainly lived up to its claims of being the month of love, as I've enjoyed some lush dates with Mr WLL and spent lots of quality time with the friends and family that I love the most.  I've made a conscious effort to be more present in the moment by staying off my phone when I'm out with them in an effort to give myself more of a work life balance and true memories to treasure.  Its funny because when I've actually come to update my social media later on, I've found that I've really wanted to and I've enjoyed posting a lot more.

Everything is online now from banking and shopping to chatting with friends and even dating.  While it certainly makes life easier, faster and often at times more controlled, nothing beats human interaction in the long run.  Modern life seems to be very much about the challenge of getting the balance right between the two.

I mostly like to bank and shop online unless I need advice in which case I tend to prefer to go into store and for friendships, I love nothing more than going out with the girls for a good gossip over drinks and dinner.  As for dating, its all changed since I was single with the introduction of apps like Tinder and Plenty of Fish and I've heard many stories about first dates that my friends have been on after meeting people on them; some funny, some horror stories and two that have resulted in engagements!

I saw a blog post on Yours Clothing that talked all about the modern world of dating.  They recently surveyed 100 men and 100 women to find out what their modern day dating values are and put together a quiz to see how dateable you are to the single people of 2017, lets just say, its a good job I'm married because my scores weren't the best!  Although I suppose you don't need plenty of fish, just one Nemo!

Taking the quiz got me thinking back to when I was first going out with my now husband and how I'd spend ages getting ready for our dates.  I loved picking out an outfit, doing my makeup and spritzing on the scent of something gorgeous and memorable.  Feeling as though I looked my best on the outside, helped me to feel my best on the inside and give me that little extra perk of confidence, even when I was so nervous on those early dates!

Back then I used to love wearing the YSL Rouge Volupte lipstick in no.19 Frivolous Pink (similar herereview here) although its now a lippy that is a little too creamy pink for me and I reserve it for photos purely because of the pretty packaging!  It's funny how times change and what I once used to use often for date nights, I would never wear now.  I do still enjoy a pink lip but more of a muted nude shade and the same goes for blusher.

Light pink blush was my thing back then too and although I don't wear it quite as often, I do love the pop of colour that adding pink to the cheeks brings.  These days, I tend to opt for the Too Faced Love Flush Blush in Justify My Love (review here) which leaves the cheeks with a gorgeous flush of pink colour to the cheeks, reminiscent of the flush of first love.

Something that I always used to do back then and still do now is to match my nail polish to my outfit or makeup, so if I was wearing a pink blush I may pair a pink polish with it for my fingers and toes too.  The Essie Nail Polish in Status Symbol is one of my favourite pinks right now because it is a hot pink that is creamy and has a warmth to it which I think is more flattering against my skin tone than some of the more stark, blue toned hot pinks.

The one feature of my beauty routine for dates that has never changed over the years is the spritzing on of a gorgeous fragrance.  Perfume is so powerful and can create and evoke so many memories.  On my first date with Mr WLL, I wore YSL Elle and even to this day whenever I wear it, he always remembers and comments that it was the fragrance I wore on our first date.

I love to switch up the perfumes that I wear but they always tend to have a similar air to them; strong and powerful, sexy and deep.  I love memorable and unique scents which is exactly what the new Narciso Rodriguez perfume in Fleur Musc is.

Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc is a fragrance that is unlike any other musk scent that I have smelt before.  It was created with the vision of having musk at the heart of the fragrance, surrounded by warm and rich pink florals, resulting in a unique rose scent.  Fleur Musc fits the vision perfectly.

This perfume is a floral chypre scent which sits directly between a floral perfume and a musk scent which I think makes it a great choice for fans of either type of fragrance.  For me, I don't particularly like very floral fragrances or rose scents but the deep hit of musk in there makes it absolutely perfect for my nose!  The effect is sensual and powerful, feminine and alluring.

It has top notes of spicy pink peppercorn and a heart of musk and rose, both of which are instantly recognisable when you smell the fragrance, as well as peony.  The base is a woody patchouli with soft amber which gives the perfume a great depth and warmth.  Once spritzed onto the skin, the perfume lasts for hours and hours; it is the perfect evening fragrance as it is strong but not overbearing so I can put it on before going out and I'll be smelling fabulous all evening, without worrying about needing to reapply it.

Although the bottle does go back to their signature bottle appearance but this time in a gorgeous warm, hot pink, the scent itself is totally different to the Narciso perfumes that I've smelled, making it a welcome new addition to the collection and a definite MUST HAVE!

I'm a real lover of Narciso Rodriguez perfumes, especially Narciso Poudrée (review here) as they ooze femininity, class and sensuality!  The fragrance is certainly unique and memorable, making it perfect to wear on a date night as in years to come you'll be able to look back and recall all of the happy memories whenever you smell the perfume!

Fleur Musc is available in 30, 50 and 100ml sized bottles, exclusively from Selfridges until its nationwide release on 17th March.

If you love to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons with your fragrance then I'd highly suggest checking this one out and don't forget to take the Yours Clothing quiz too for a bit of a giggle!


What qualities do you look for in a date?  What makeup do you like to wear on a first date?  How does the Narciso Rodriguez Fleur Musc perfume sound to you?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

Makeup brushes are integral to the application of any makeup look.  Providing they're high quality, they'll completely transform the way that you apply your products and how well they blend together on the skin.  This is something that I discovered back when I was around 16 and ditched those terrible eyeshadow sponge applicators!

Over the years, I've built up a brush collection that suits me perfectly well for all of the different looks that I create.  Since I've focused on investing in quality, they've remained in great condition and despite countless washes, they are still as soft and dense as they were when I first bought them.

The brush category that I have neglected so far is the mini or travel sizes.  To begin with, I was focusing on full size brushes as those would be the ones that I'd use most frequently but once I had enough to create a full makeup look, I moved onto looking for minis for when I travel.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram then you'll probably know that I do travel for work and leisure a lot so compact, travel size items are essential for me.  However I've never been able to find travel size makeup brushes that quite lived up to the performance of my full sized ones, until I discovered the Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set; these brushes may be small in size but they're BIG on performance!

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

The Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set is made up of four travel sized essentials from her collection, housed in a gorgeous Artdeco inspired clutch.  All of the Charlotte Tilbury packaging has an opulent, old Hollywood feel to it and this hard case with its crimson faux leather body, satin lining and rose gold clasp embodies this perfectly.

Once open, the case has an elasticated pocket on either side; one which has the brushes in and the other which you could slide some blotting papers, a sanitary towel or your credit card, money and ID into if you were taking this set with you on a night out.

Personally, I like to slot this little clutch inside whichever bag I'm using day or night to stop the powder from my makeup brushes transferring onto the inside of my bags and spoiling the lining.

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

The brushes included within the set are perfect for applying makeup to the whole face, for multitasking when travelling and for touch ups on the go.

First there's the Powder Brush which can be used for applying, or touching up, powder foundation and setting powder, bronzer, blush, contour and highlight.  Granted, it does take longer to apply a full face of powder foundation or setting powder with this brush than it does with a large kabuki brush or big fluffy powder brush, it is certainly doable which makes it perfect for travel and even more ideal for touch ups when you're out and about.

Then there's the Blender Brush and the Smudger Brush, both of which have the same sized brush heads as the regular sized Charlotte Tilbury brushes, the only difference is that the handle is shorter in length.  Both of these are eyeshadow brushes and if you're on the go, adding more makeup after work to go out in the evening or travelling, then the two together are all you need to create a gorgeous smokey eye.

The Blender Brush is a total essential as it is great for applying highlighter or contour to more precise areas of the face such as the nose and cupids bow and for the eyes, it is great for adding eyeshadow to the whole lid as a wash of colour, to the brow bone to highlight, through the crease to deepen a look and for blending eyeshadow together all over the lid or smoked out from the crease.

The Smudger Brush is designed for more precision whether thats targeting highlight to the inner corner of the eye, smudging and smoking powder along the upper or lower lashline or creating a cut crease for a dramatic eye look.  Its slightly domed shape and dense bristles makes it the perfect brush for adding definition to the eyes.

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

The smallest brush of the set is the Precision Brush which is another one thats great for inner corner highlight on the eyes but it can also be used along the lashline for shadow or liner, in the brows too or on the lips.  This is particularly handy if you're wearing a dark or very vibrant lipstick that requires very precise application.

All of these brushes served me very well on my holiday to the Maldives last month which was where I first took the set to try them all out.  The only additional brush that I needed with me was the buffing brush that I use for my liquid foundation, so I'd say that this brush set served its purpose very well and I didn't find myself missing any other brushes while I was away.

I've since taken it with me on a couple of weekends away where I've worn more makeup than I did on holiday and again, I didn't find myself wishing I'd brought my full brush roll.

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

The first thing that I noticed about these brushes is that they are just as great quality as the full sized ones that I've lusted after on the Charlotte Tilbury counter for well over a year now!  The only differences between the Magical Minis and the full size is that obviously they're shorter and the handles are made out of plastic rather than wood which I assume is to make them lighter.  Other than that, they're the same quality and style from the super soft synthetic bristles to the rose gold ferrule and the night crimson handle that ensures the brushes don't roll off the end of the table as soon as you put them down (aka the bane of my life!).  Aesthetically, they're oh so gorgeous and completely cruelty free; happy bunnies and happy makeup makeup addict.

I'm sure consistent quality is what you would expect across the ranges of any high end beauty brand but unfortunately, this isn't always the case as I've tried travel sized brushes from other brands and they've been scratchy, generally poorly made and inferior to their usual brushes.

Another great thing to note about these Charlotte Tilbury brushes is that they wash very well.  I've spot cleaned them a number of times and deep cleaned them once since I got them in January.  They have remained super soft and haven't shed at all so I'm quietly confident that they'll continue in the same vein!

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

So, would I recommend the Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set?

Yes!  Providing you have all of the full size brushes that you need already at home.  This kit is completely fit for purpose; its lightweight and compact so it doesn't take up much space or weigh down your bag, its multi-use as the brushes can be used for applying products all over the face and the case protects your brushes and the inside of your bag from damage.

That being said, I don't think that this is an essential to have if you're just starting out with makeup or are building up your collection on a limited budget.  It is very much a nice to have collection.

My advice would be to build up your brush collection with full sized brushes that you'll use everyday at home first and then when you have enough to create a full face, then look to travel sized brushes for taking with you on holiday and on the go.

Its important to make sure you've got the best brushes that you can afford as your tools can really make or break any makeup look.  Buy poor quality and you're wasting your money for many reasons, such as they may not pick up enough powder, feel scratchy against the skin or be unable to blend makeup products effectively.  The Charlotte Tilbury brushes blend products seamlessly into the skin and almost do the hard work for you by the way that they're cleverly designed and shaped.

Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set Review

If you've already got the majority of the brushes that you need for your everyday makeup then what are you waiting for? Shop here and you'll not regret it.  I love mine!

It is perfect for those who travel often, like to touch up their makeup throughout the day or for those who like to go out after work and want a multitasking brush set that will enable them to create a quick smoky eye, touch up their blush and highlight and slick on a bold lip.  It would make an ideal Mother's Day gift for the busy mam who loves to look her best.

Shop the Charlotte Tilbury Magical Mini Makeup Brush Set and scroll left and right below for the individual, full size brushes.


What are your Charlotte Tilbury faves and recommendations?  What do you think of this gorgeous makeup brush set?

Sunday, 19 February 2017

My Journey To A Confident Smile: Bugs Bunny, Tinsel Teeth, Gaps & All!

Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

Forget the Chanel Jumbo that has been on my wishlist for countless years; the best accessory that I will ever own is my smile.  Handbags may come and go but a winning smile never goes out of fashion and I've chosen to invest in mine.

Over the last few months I have been on my own exciting Smile Design journey with Ewan Bramley Dental Care in North Shields.  This is the most sophisticated dental technology on the market which enables you to see the results of cosmetic and corrective dentistry before committing to the treatment.

This coming week, I will be having the dental work done which will enhance my smile to its best potential and give me the look that I've always wanted for my teeth.  Enhancing my smile is a big commitment for me, as it would be for a lot of people which is why I decided to photograph and track my progress and review the service from start to finish on my blog.

I'm hoping that these posts will help others out there that are considering a cosmetic or corrective dental procedure.  It isn't a decision that I have taken lightly and I mean it when I say that this is something that I have wanted for as long as I can remember, which is a great starting point for this post.

Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields

I believe that your smile is powerful; it is your secret weapon for confidence and it can convey and evoke so many emotions.  It has the power to light up a room, create a great first impression and a last memory.  Smiling changes not only how you feel about yourself but how others see you too.  It is one of the kindest gifts you can give someone and this makes it a timeless asset.

Smiling and smiling confidently are two very different things and your teeth play a big part in this.  Some people are blessed with a Hollywood smile but for a lot of people, this is far from reality.  A lot of dental issues are picked up as we grow up and are corrected in childhood but some of us still have dental hang ups as adults or experience insecurities with our teeth as we age, often through inefficient care.

I hated my teeth when I was a child and although I was mostly a bubbly, happy character, I didn't have the sense of self that I do now to feel confident and open about my body and features.  My teeth were the one part of me that I was the most self conscious of aesthetically and this really affected how I saw myself and how I smiled.  I remember the top row being the worst as my two front teeth were considerably larger than the rest of my teeth but especially compared to the two either side of them and they were all really spaced out.

My two front teeth stuck out like a sore thumb because they weren't straight; I didn't just have a gap between them but a whopping great inverted V shape with one tooth looking like it was trying to escape out of the right hand side of my mouth and the other being far too preoccupied with what was going on with the left.  I couldn't bite into an apple, food would easily become lodged in the spaces between my teeth and this big gap felt really sensitive to cold food and when you're an active kid that loves chasing after the ice cream van, that's not a feature that you're looking for with your teeth.

Kids can be so cruel and I remember being told that I was Goofy and had Bugs Bunny teeth on one too many occasions which only heightened the way I felt about them; self conscious and embarrassed to smile.  I wasn't judgemental  of others as a child and that's something that I'm really thankful to my parents for by the way that they brought me up.  It's funny because I would never have thought badly about someone else who had teeth like mine, bring it up or pick on them about it, I was just concerned with how I felt about myself and the aesthetic of my own teeth.

Although its awful to think of myself as a child having an insecurity about a part of my body, I'm proud that I wasn't one of those kids calling someone else for how they looked.  Those values and morals have stayed with me as an adult and even now when I say that I don't like something, I mean in relation to me and it is not a judgement on anyone elses appearance.  Life is much less of a headache when you learn to let go and leave each to their own; you do you and I'll do me.

Another thing that was instilled in me as a child was the importance of taking care of my teeth.  I didn't have really sugary drinks (I remember my mam feeling particularly horrified when she discovered the sugar content in Sunny D and that was promptly banned from the fridge), I had regular check ups at the dentist and always thoroughly brushed my teeth.  As a result, I have never really had any major problems with my teeth, they've always been strong and a healthy shade of white, even though they may not have looked as I would have liked them to.

Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

By the time I reached my teens, I was hell bent on having a brace to align my teeth and close the gaps and thankfully my dentist agreed.  I was referred to an orthodontist who fitted me with one of the metal train track braces with the colourful elastic bands on.  I was lucky in that there wasn't much bullying for having a brace in my comprehensive school, perhaps because a few of the cool kids had them and I was actually quite looking forward to getting it on because it was something that I had wanted for so long.

In the week leading up to having the fixed brace fitted, I did become a little apprehensive and wondered if I was doing the right thing as it was going to be on for up to 2 years.  I'd heard someone say on the TV that having a gap between your two front teeth was unusual and lucky and I remembered hesitating for a split second, wondering if I'd regret closing the gap but I quickly reassured myself as it wasn't just the gaps that I didn't appreciate but the whopping great angle that my two front teeth sat at.

I remember the day that I had my brace fitted vividly.  I think my dad worried I'd be picked on for having the brace too, as I'd already been a victim of bullying because of my weight and a lot of the films that were around at that time featured American schools with kids getting called names such as brace face and tinsel teeth, although I think that was more of a UK term.  Plus, he knew that it would hurt; after all, no pain, no gain.

In an effort to console me, before my appointment he treated me to one of the first ever camera phones which was silver and matched my new silver teeth incredibly well.  I'd like to think that the pink and purple elastic bands complimented the whole ensemble perfectly!

Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

Each time I had the brace tightened, I'd be in a lot of pain for days until it eased off and I got used to it.  While I knew that it was for my own benefit, I hated having the brace on.  Food would get stuck in it easily, especially cheese, so I was always very self conscious of eating, my teeth were very sensitive, my jaw would ache and my mouth would feel sore at times and the little metal bits on my teeth would scratch the inside of my gums, often causing them to bleed.

Another thing that I hated was that the metal train tracks were glaringly obvious to the point where my teeth looked black when I smiled for photos... so guess what?  I stopped smiling with my mouth open in photographs which changed how confident and happy I looked because I was awkwardly trying to conceal the braces.

Most photos that I have of this time with my mouth open are ones that have been taken when I've been caught off guard such as this absolute beauty above.  Talk about a throwback!  It was taken at one of my best friends 14th birthdays when I was two thirds of the way through the treatment; my teeth had been straightened and it was just a case of closing the gaps.

The treatment had been successful in a shorter time frame than expected and I was able to have the brace removed after 18 months, I think it was the day before my 15th birthday.  I was told that the gaps hadn't fully closed but my teeth were straight, in line and as close to having no gaps as I was going to get as my teeth weren't big enough for my mouth.  I was given a clear retainer to wear at night and that was the end of it.

I left the orthodontist feeling on top of the world and vowed to wear the retainer every night forever and ever amen.  Of course that didn't happen and after about a year or so the clear retainer disappeared to the back of a drawer never to be seen again.  However I did continue to take great care of my teeth in terms of brushing and going to the dentist regularly.  It felt great to be able to bite into something without getting it stuck between my teeth or having increased sensitivity to cold things.

Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

Braces have changed a lot since then and I know of many people who have had the train track braces as adults but they've been white and much less noticeable, better still, almost invisible braces are available now which seems like a much better option.  I'm so thankful that I was able to have the brace on because it made such a massive difference to my teeth, how I felt about my smile and my confidence which I think is really important to you when you're in your teens.

When I was 19 and had moved to a different area, I switched from the NHS dentist that I had been seeing previously to a highly regarded private dentist as they were the closest to me.  I noticed that there was a significant difference in the service and treatment options with private dentistry compared to an NHS dentist which I wouldn't have realised before had I not changed practice because the dentist who I had always seen previously had been fantastic.  We're so lucky to have the NHS in the UK with a range of free dentistry options for those under 19 and in full time education and for those who are pregnant, etc but there's only so much that can go round so naturally more options can be come available to you when you're paying for the service and at a higher quality.

While I was paying for the dentist myself, I placed an importance on my dental health and kept some money each month from my job while I was at college and university to pay for it.  I've taken good care of my teeth over the last 9 years, had any treatment that I've needed and had biannually hygienist appointments.  I've been so happy and confident with my smile but there was always one little thing that was niggling me and that's the gaps and the smaller teeth either side of my two front ones.

Smile Design at Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields, Before Cosmetic Dentistry

All of the photos you see here are of my teeth up to date (aside from the brace photo).  I'm happy in myself and happy with my smile but I always knew that if I had the opportunity to enhance it then I would do.  When I first joined the private dentist at 19, I asked about veneers to give me the smile that I wanted but I was advised to wait a while until I'd had some other necessary treatment first and then we could look into it.  When that time came, I was advised that 10 veneers would give me the look that I wanted but it was very costly and something that I would need to consider at a later date when I could realistically afford the treatment.

I broached the subject again before my wedding as by that time I had heard of  other options becoming available that could help me including a clear brace treatment called Invisalign and also of a fixed brace option that is applied to the back of the teeth, as well as the option of veneers.  My dentist had changed at this point to another dentist within the same practice but he advised against treatment as my teeth were fine as they were, just slightly spaced which can be beneficial for brushing.  Plus the cost had increased further and its a big outlay if you don't know exactly what you're going to look like afterwards, whether you'll like it or if you would think that it was worth it.

Three years on and I still think about having dental treatment when I look at my teeth in the mirror.  I've looked around for other options but its hard to know what information to trust.  When it comes to something as important as your teeth and ultimately your smile, it is so important that you find a dentist that openly wants the best treatment for you and a service that is going to be able to achieve that aim.

Ewan Bramley Dental Care North Shields

Towards the end of last year, I discovered Ewan Bramley Dental Care near Newcastle in the North East and the revolutionary service that they offer.  With a free Smile Design consultation, I could find out all of the dentistry options that would be available to me including invisible braces and veneers and I would be able to see a mock up of what my teeth and smile would look like before making a decision on what treatment I wanted to go ahead with, if anything.  As well as this, their top private dentistry is comparatively more affordable than others around, especially for invisible braces which they have the technology to make on the premises rather than outsourcing and they offer interest free finance too.

It all sounded too good to be true but after having a look on their website, I really liked how friendly, open and honest they appeared as a business; first impressions count, even online!  I had a look through the different pages covering the vast range of dental treatments that they offered with plenty of before and after pictures which showed the fantastic results that they had achieved with their patients.

I gave them a quick ring to book my Smile Design consultation and my mind was put at ease by the knowledgeable person that I spoke to.  She knew all about the consultation so was able to explain exactly what to expect, filling me with confidence and excitement for my first appointment and the start of my Smile Design journey.

The rest as they say is history!

I'll be sharing every step of my journey with you from the Smile Design consultation next moth where I'll talk through the appointment, the options given to me and why I chose the treatment that I decided to go for, to the procedure itself and the aftercare.

If you love the sound of Ewan Bramley Dental Care already, then you can give them a call on 0191 303 7872 or get in touch on their website to book your FREE Smile Design consultation.

How confident do you feel about your teeth and smile?  Did you wear a brace as a child?

Have you had any cosmetic or corrective dentistry in the past or is this something that you would consider having in the future?

Friday, 17 February 2017

How To Nail The Pastel Trend This Spring Without Looking Too Girly

Spring is in the air and its so close I can almost taste it!  The days seem to be getting a little brighter and I don't know about you but I'm so happy about it.  I love the cosy evenings that Autumn/Winter brings but it plays havoc with my energy levels and don't even get me started on trying to take blog photos in natural light.

I'm excited about all that Spring has to bring from the warmer days that are lighter for longer to the daffodils in my garden and the fashion.

This year, bold stripes and utility styling is IN along with, you've guessed it pastels!  There's so many ways to get the look with pastels from the uber girlie to the soft and subtle.  In today's post I'll show you how to nail the pastel trend with some gorgeous new pieces from Esprit.

First up, we have the subtle look; ideal for those who aren't drawn to pastels but are fashion conscious enough to acknowledge this repeated trend.  The EDC Stretch Jeans here have contrasting stitching in pastel pink as a decorative accent on the pockets as well as pink turn ups to the ankle.  This is about as subtle as it gets when it comes to pastels and the mid grey wash ensures that you can still create an edgier look with these jeans.

Fancy stepping it up a notch?  Then the pastel High-Top Trainers here would look awesome with skinny jeans or leggings.  With fold over cuffs and a mix of materials, they're effortlessly stylish for that model off duty look and come in three colour ways.

Sticking with the high top trainers and adding the EDC Ultra Light Down Jacket, here, in pastel pink or blue would create a gorgeous pastel look that's bang up to date with the current trends.  The 90s came back with force in 2016 and they're here to stay this year so this sporty puffer jacket would not only be fashionable but practical too.  Fancy a walk anyone?

If sporty and casual isn't your style then EDC Blazer Coat in a cotton blend here is the perfect option.  Available in pastel pink and blue, this piece gives you the option of wearing it to work to keep you warm on chillier spring days, over jeans and a roll neck at the weekend a la InTheFrow or over an LBD at night for a pop of colour.

Whatever your style, you can work pastels into your wardrobe by adding a couple of key pieces.  Stick to fabrics that you feel comfortable in and cuts that give you an added confidence boost.

How would you wear the pastel trend this spring?  Which is your favourite piece from Esprit?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

January Degustabox PLUS a discount code!

Degustabox and discount code

Another month, another Degustabox and this moth was fabulous for new discoveries for the WLL household.  Especially for Pappa WLL who grabbed the Fruitella Strawberry 30% Less Sugar (£1.25) and consumed them before I even had a chance to take a snap of them.  I must remember to keep the box hidden until everything has been photographed next month!

If you haven't tried these then you really should.  Fruitella have squeezed even more juice into the sweets making them extra fruity but the sweetness tastes really natural in that they're not too sweet and really natural too!  They're so yummy, even more so than the normal Fruitellas which my dad bought a bag of after having these ones and in all honesty, I prefer the 30% less sugar ones; plus they have no sweeteners and only natural flavourings and colours which gives them two thumbs up from me!

Finn Crisp Snacks in seeds and sea salt Degustabox

If you haven't heard of Degustabox before then seriously, get to know!  Its a fantastic subscription box for foodies where they will deliver 10 to 15 food and beverage items to your door every single month.  You can sign up for 1 box (and get it at a LOW price if you use my code below) or you can subscribe and also gift the box too.

There's a variety of household and emerging brands inside which gives you the change to try something that you may not have considered before which is exactly what happened to me this month with Finn Crisp (£1.89).  I had the wholegrain rye variety with seeds and sea salt on top and there was a leaflet inside with lots of serving suggestions on it.  I've been firmly back on the avocado band waggon this month and I just cannot get enough of making guacamole as a dip.  These are PERFECT to dip in!

Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks in coconut and chilli Degustabox

Unfortunately since the choices inside are a surprise every month, you may find yourself not liking some items.  For me that was the Yushoi Snapea Rice Sticks (£1.79) in the coconut and chilli flavour.  I knew I wouldn't like these as soon as I saw them as I also had them back in my October box in the lightly salted flavour and they weren't for me.

I tried putting them out while we were watching a film one night to see if my dad and hubby would like this flavour but they didn't go down well with them either, such a shame that they went to waste!

Popchips Ridges in Smoky Bacon Degustabox

Instead, it was the Popchips (£1.99) in the smoky bacon flavour that appealed to us the most.  I've had Popchips before as they've been in a few goodie bags at events and if I ever have Starbucks for lunch then I'll grab a bag but I haven't tried the ridges variety before.

They're absolutely delicious; big on flavour and have just the right amount of crunch to them.  They're popped rather than fried and only 99 calories per serving which is great news for me as I've really changed my lifestyle over the last year and I'm all about balance these days.

Quinola Mothergrain express quinoa with split peas fair trade degustabox

When I saw the  Quinola Mothergrain (£2.49) Express Quinoa with split peas, I knew that it would be something that I'd enjoy and I wasn't wrong!  It heats up easily in the microwave (and it can also be enjoyed cold) and is great to serve with chicken and roasted veggies which is how I enjoyed it.  Having pouches like this in my food cupboards makes life so much easier for me as I'll save a little of dinner the night before and heat it up the next day with a pouch of this for lunch.  Its quick and easy and keeps me fuller for longer.

After trying the Quinola Mothergrain quinoa, I've since repurchased it from Amazon along with the spicy Mexican flavour which is also delicious.  I love that the quinoa mix is gluten free and a great source of vegetarian protein.  I pay attention to my macros now and sometimes struggle to hit my protein so being able to have something other than meat to boost it is really handy, not to mention tasty!  I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that this brand is organic and fair trade too which is great as not all quinoa is, sadly.

Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer in Scottish Raspberry Degustabox

Now if any of you know my dad then you'll know that he's quite partial to a Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer (£1.39) so when I saw that there was a Raspberry flavour included in the Degustabox this month, I knew he'd have to give me his verdict.

He said that while he would always be loyal to the original, the Scottish Raspberry flavour was a welcome change to mix things up and the taste was crisp and authentic rather than sickly sweet in the way that some drinks such as flavoured cider can be.

Aspire Drinks Degustabox

Generally speaking, I tend to stick to low calorie drinks day to day so the zero calorie, zero sugar and zero fat Aspire Drinks (2 x £1.45) cans fitted perfectly in with that.  I received the Mango Lemonade and Cranberry flavours and I have to say that they're both really great.

They combine good-for-you active ingredients such as Premium Green Tea, Guarana Seed Extract, Vitamins B and C, Ginger Root and L-Carnitine which they claim to help to deliver sustained, healthy energy and mental focus. For me, I focused on how they tasted as they're still a drink I would enjoy every now and again as I mostly consume water.  They have a sparkle to them but they aren't gassy and they have a gentle flavour to them; nothing too sweet or overbearing which makes them really enjoyable and easy to consume.

Both flavour varieties have no calories or sugar in them, making them ideal for if you're watching your weight or blood sugar levels.

Fancy giving them a go?  You can get 20% off using promo code ASPIRE20 on their website until 5th March 2017.

Protein Boost Chocolate Flavour Degustabox

The number of times that I go to the gym varies week on week depending on how busy I am or if my neck is particularly sore but generally speaking, I'll go at least twice.  I'll usually go home afterwards, shower and have a protein shake (I'll be talking about the protein powder that I use in a fitness blog post soon) but the one thing that I struggle with is having a protein shake straight after the gym if I have errands to run before I go home.  I never take the powder and my shaker out with me as its just easier to keep it all in the house so discovering the Protein Boost (£1.29) drink in this months box has been great for me.

The Protein Boost drinks are available in chocolate or strawberry, of which I have the chocolate flavour.  The drinks are designed to be grab and go in their own single bottles which is ideal as it is already made up and I'm not having to decant some of my usual protein powder into a bag and mess on in the car.  Each drink is fat free, has no added sugar, is less than 150 calories and has 20g of protein in it, which is again, great news for me as it ups my protein macros for the day.

I loved the chocolate flavour as it was rich and chocolatey but not too sweet which my palette can't seem to handle these days.  I used to love having a Pepsi Max on the odd occasion and now I think its far too sweet for me!  I'll definitely be picking up the strawberry flavour to try and repurchasing the chocolate Protein Boost.

We Are Little's Flavour Infused Coffee Natural Island Coconut Degustabox

One of my favourite products this month has been the We Are Little's Flavour Infused Coffee (£2.99) in the Natural Island Coconut flavour (also available in French Vanilla).  This is a granulated 100% arabica coffee that you add hot water to to make a delicious hot coffee drink, lightly flavoured with coconut.  My husband has been enjoying this black but I do like a drop of almond milk in mine as I've never been a fan of black coffee.

The taste isn't too strong and the coconut flavour takes a little of the bitterness away from the coffee.  I do enjoy mine with a little sweetener from Natvia as I'm really not a fan of coffee on its own.  The coffee itself is only 4 calories per cup without milk so adding the zero calorie sweetener and healthy almond milk makes this a really delicious drink that is healthy enjoy to be able to enjoy daily!

You can pick up a jar from Sainsburys, Waitrose, Holland and Barrett and Wholefoods but if you shop direct from their website, you can get 20% off with the code Degusta20.

Nativa Natural Sweetener Degustabox

Speaking of sweetener, I actually received my tub of Natvia (£4.99 for 200g) in this months Degustabox and it really is life changing.  Ok, so its not going to change my life but it'll certainly make it a whole lot sweeter!

This is a granulated/powder sweetener that you can buy in Tesco.  It is just like sugar and the usual powdered sugar sweetener substitutes except it tastes different in that it has the really nice fresh sweetness to it.  I bought a pot of Truvia towards the end of last year and ended up throwing it away as it was vile; it had such a chemical, artificial, bitter aftertaste that I couldn't stomach it at all and hated the way it changed the flavour of the food I was eating or the drink I was consuming.  Natvia doesn't have that awful taste at all; it isn't quite the same as sugar but its not far off, its really finely ground and it doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.  Plus its from all natural sources and has zero calories per serving.

Natvia, you rock my world and I'll certainly be repurchasing you!

Chosan Hibiscus Drink with Fiery Ginger Degustabox

This months Degustabox was really heavy on the drinks so I was bound to find one that I didn't enjoy and that was the Chosan Hibiscus Drink with Fiery Ginger.  The flavour wasn't to my taste which doesn't surprise me as ginger gives me heartburn!  However I do love that the company donates at least 5p from every bottle of Chosan sold to African food producers to improve their quality of life.  In such a money driven world, its great to see businesses giving back.

Pips Real Hot Chocolate Coin Degustabox

Another drink item that came in this months box was the Pips Real Hot Chocolate which arrives as a chocolate coin that you place in a pan with 200-250ml milk on the hob and stir until the chocolate is melted and the milk is as warm as desired.  I was really happy to see this in there as Pips is actually a really small brand, lovingly made by an artisan maker in Wales.  I love to support those kinds of companies over the big brand names when I can.

The drink was so easy to make and while they actually suggest making it using milk and indulgent double cream, I actually made mine with almond milk and found it to still be deliciously chocolatey, just not incredibly creamy which is perfect for me.  The chocolate coin is free from nuts, gluten and dairy and made with vegans in mind, plus it can be made with any kind of milk so regardless of whether you're a dairy drinker or not like I am, you can still enjoy the warming chocolatey goodness!  The coin has a minimum of 54% cocoa dark chocolate within it and it works out at 122.2 kcal per coin calorie wise so while it is a treat, it is certainly better than many other hot chocolate drinks out there!

Inside the little bag, there was also a loyalty card that you can fill up with stickers when ordering from participating retailers and when placing online orders from the Pips website.  Its a way of them giving back to their customers as the more completed cards collected, the better the rewards.  I love it when companies reward their customers loyalty.

Chia Shots Degustabox

This month I tried my hand at making chia seed pudding thanks to Degustabox as this months box contained two sachets of Chia Shots (2 x £0.66) one in the dark colour and one in the white.  I really surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it.  The texture is a little strange to begin with but actually it is really filling and delicious depending on what you flavour it with.  I'll do an Instagram post sharing how I make it next time I have it so stay following me for that!

The only thing that I haven't been able to try from this months box yet is the Gourmet Live Yoghurt from The Collective as there was a voucher inside for a free pot of the passionfruit or raspberry flavour and I haven't had a chance to redeem it yet.  I think I'll be going for the passionfruit one when I do... yummy!

Degustabox and discount code

Love the sound of this months box or Degustabox in general?  Then head on over to their website to order.

If you're a newbie, enter the discount code 88AHT to receive your first box for only £5.99 with FREE delivery!

What item tempts you the most from this months box?  Would you prefer more drinks or food items in your box?  Do you like snack foods or ones that you cook with?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Get Ready With Rimmel For Valentine's Day!

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

The month of February is all about love and romance, especially for Mr WLL and I as we celebrate not only Valentine's Day but our anniversary of being together too.  We're old romantics and love to spoil one another, dress up and go on a date night or away for the night.

This Valentine's Day we're going to the cinema to see 50 Shades Darker and then to Prezzo for their Valentine's Day menu.  Going to a chain restaurant for something like Valentines would never have really interested me until last year when a last minute change in our work schedules meant that we were together in London on Valentines.  Without a reservation anywhere, we took a risk in going out and stumbled upon the great offer on food and prosecco that Prezzo had on.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and so are going back this year to see if it is just as good.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

I'll be sharing the outfit that I wear on the day over on my Instagram but I already know what makeup I'll be wearing as I'll be drawing inspiration from the look that I wore in this post.

The emphasis in this makeup look was on my eyes with winged liner and blended gold eyeshadow and on my lips with a bold red lip.  I used some really affordable makeup products from Rimmel London which are great if you're on a budget or simply not wanting to invest in higher end makeup and in this post, I'll be sharing my thoughts on them.

I've been trying out lots of products from them this winter and found some real favourites that I would definitely recommend; check out my posts on their Scandaleyes Reloaded Mascara and Eyeliner and The Only 1 Matte Lipstick to get you started.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Lets kick things off with a bang; the Rimmel Magnif'eyes Eye Contouring Palette in Keep Calm & Wear Gold which is absolutely fabulous and rivals a lot of higher end eyeshadow palettes, especially when you consider the comparatively lower price point.

The palette contains 8 complimentry shades with a mix of shimmer and matte finishes that can be used to create a multitude of different eye looks.  The shade range is more than sufficient for a daytime eye look and can be built up easily for a more intense, night out makeup look.

There's a mirror in the lid and a double ended sponge that I'll not use in a month of Sunday's but its the eyeshadows themselves that really matter and these ones are fabulous.  Buttery soft, very pigmented and easy to blend.  There is next to no fall out with them, making application very straightforward and tidy.  Plus, the colour intensity lasts all day without fading or creasing.

I've used this so many times since I got it and will continue to do so, including on Valentine's Day!

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Whenever I apply my makeup, I always like to define my eyes with eyeliner and mascara; without them, I do vaguely resemble a potato.

Liquid liner is my weapon of choice as I love the super black look that it creates.  I usually choose felt tip styles but instead gave the Rimmel Scandaleyes Bold a try.

The formula of this liner is perfect as it creates the super black look, glossy finish and insane longevity that I love from an eyeliner.  Since it is waterproof, it doesn't transfer or smudge throughout the day either which is important to me as my eyes can water if it is windy.

However I don't like the applicator at all.  Rimmel say that it has an innovative ball tip for a bold look but I just don't get it.  To me, the ball makes the product hard to work with and I can't achieve the wing that I like to wear as easily with it.  Instead, I would recommend the Scandaleyes Micro Eyeliner which has a very black, long lasting formula but with a very easy to use, short and fine felt tip applicator nib.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Sadly the mascara that I used didn't live up to expectations either.  The Rimmel Volume Colourist Mascara is designed to instantly give the appearance of fuller, longer looking lashes but I actually found that it made my lashes look even shorter than they are as it didn't seem to add any length or volume to them.

The bristle brush wand is designed to be tapered to grab every lash and coat it with blacker than black pigments that actually claim to darken bare lashes with two weeks of use.  In theory, this is a fabulous idea but in practice, I didn't find it to work and saw no difference to the colour of my own lashes with consistent use.  The formula seems as though it is far too wet and runny as the mascara smudges easily.  I found that it really dried my lashes out and when I tried to apply a little more, the brush was getting caught on my lashes which felt scratchy and uncomfortable.

I wouldn't use this mascara again and would instead opt for the Scandaleyes Reloaded Mascara which is far superior.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

The product that surprised me the most however was the Rimmel Provocalips.  Quite honestly, I don't know where these have been all my life; how have I not tried them before?!

Provocalips are Rimmel's 16 hour kissproof lip colour and boy do they mean it.  The lip product is dual ended and really easy to apply- simply coat the lips with the colour and leave them apart for a minute until the colour sets, then add the clear side to lock in the colour, add moisture and shine.

The colour payoff is incredibly intense, highly pigmented and very opaque which is a bold change for me as I do tend to wear more nude shades on a day to day basis.  While the high impact colour is definitely a plus point to these lip products, it is their longevity and comfort that I am most impressed with.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

I don't know about you but I tend to associate long lasting lip colours with very drying matte formulas.  Provocalips have a glossy finish and the overall product isn't drying or tight feeling on the lips in the slightest.  It is very comfortable to wear all day long and quite a surprise really when catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror 10 hours after applying my makeup to still see my lip colour looking perfect.

I do find that after eating and drinking, the glossy top coat isn't as shiny so I need to top it up a little after a meal but the lip colour itself doesn't budge at all; no smudging, no transfer, no bleeding and it really is kiss proof.

Removal isn't as easy as some lip products but that's totally understandable given the longevity of the lippy.  To remove it, I use my Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover on a cotton pad, followed by lightly pressing a warm flannel over my lips to take away the excess lip colour and that usually does the trick.

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Rimmel Magnifeyes eyeshadow palette, volume colourist mascara, provocalips, scandaleyes bold eyeliner makeup look #getreadywithrimmel valentines day

Its clear that the stand outs from this look for me are the Rimmel Magnif'eyes eyeshadow palette and the Provocalips as they're bold, long lasting and highly pigmented which is exactly what I want for my makeup on Valentine's Day.

While the eyeliner and mascara aren't for me, I love that there are others from Rimmel that I really enjoy using instead which goes to show the variety of their makeup range.  It is great to find an affordable brand that cater to so many different styles, meaning that you can shop a whole look from them if you wanted to, rather than having a mascara from one brand and an eyeliner from another.

If you're looking to try out some Rimmel products, Boots have a special deal on at the time of writing, which will enable your money to go f


What are your favourite drugstore products?  Which Rimmel products would you recommend to me?
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