31 January 2014

Beauty | Australian Beauty Haul

As some of you may know, I've recently returned from Australia where I was lucky enough to spend pretty much all of January. I had the most incredible time and I'll be putting together a holiday post very soon but in the mean time I wanted to share my shopping with you. I'm fighting back terrible jet lag to write this post so apologies if it's a little wordy in places and a little brief in others.

I picked up quite a lot of things so I'm going to separate them into three or four posts and, as this is a beauty blog, we'll start with the beauty products!


KORA Organics by Miranda Kerr - Purse Pack and Luxurious Rosehip Oil

I've wanted to try KORA Organics by Miranda Kerr for so long now but until recently it was quite difficult to get hold of in the UK not to mention really pricey in comparison with how much it is in Australia. 

I picked up the Purse Pack which contains the Daily Hand Cream, Energising Citrus Mist and Vitamin Enriched Lip Balm to try and I also purchased the Luxurious Rosehip Oil which I've heard incredible things about.

KORA Organics Purse Pack - $105 AUD / Luxurious Rosehip Oil $45 AUD from David Jones

Pond's Smooth Pores Facial Foam

I swear by Pond's Cold Cream and the hydrating moisturiser is still one of my favourites so when I spotted a huge range of skincare products that I've never seen in the UK I wanted to buy everything! I settled on this "pore tightening" facial foam to try and target my cheeks and nose. My pores aren't overly enlarged and they don't cause me any issues but I liked the sound of this so I can't wait to try it.

Pond's Smooth Pores Facial Foam - $13.99 AUD from Priceline 

Dove Radiant Skin Face Cleanser

Something else I haven't spotted on the shelves here in the UK and cannot wait to try. From reading the back of the product it sounds like a gentle exfoliating cleanser so I'm looking forward to trying this one too!

Dove Radiant Skin Face Cleanser - $6.95 AUD from Priceline

Lucas' Papaw Ointment

I absolutely adore Papaw and swear by it for all manner of things so when I saw how cheap it was in Australia compared to the UK I had to snap a few up to keep me going for a while. The Papaw was one of the first products I bought in Australia and it was a savvy choice as I used it to soothe my sun and wind burn regularly!

Lacas' Papaw Ointment - price varies by store

Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam (Dark)

I'm definitely not a sun worshipper, I can't sit and bake my skin under the sun for hours on end which seemed quite in keeping with the Aussie philosophy towards tanning. The first thing I learned when I arrived is that you cannot sit in the Australian sun at the height of summer, at least not in Perth, it's simply too hot to do so. With that in mind, I picked up the Bondi Sands self tanning foam to try once my tan (from walking around and not sitting in the sun oddly enough!) has faded.

Bondi Sands Self Tanning Foam (Dark) - $19.99 AUD from Pricelin

Le Tan Fast Tan (Deep Bronze)

I like options when it comes to my tanning products so I also picked up this instant tanning mousse from Le Tan which I'll be trying out in the near future!

Le Tan Fast Tan (Deep Bronze) - $13.99 AUD from Priceline

So as you can see, I have quite a lot of new skincare to try so expect staggered reviews over the next few months so that I have time to use everything properly and so that I don't keep chopping and changing my routine. 

Makeup and Nails

Physicians Formula Happy Booster Blush

I could not have been more excited to find Physicians Formula stocked in Priceline as I've been trying to get my hands on a few of their products for years now to no avail. I couldn't resist picking up this gorgeous blush and I cannot wait to review it for you all!

Physicians Formula Happy Booster Blush - $21.95 AUD from Priceline

Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Correcting Powder

I love colour correcting products and this powder really captured my attention. It reminds me of the Bobbi Brown palette which is just utterly divine. I'm so excited to try this and I'll post a review and comparison for you once I've really road tested it.

Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Correcting Powder - $29.95 AUD from Priceline

Covergirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara 

I fell in love with this mascara many years ago in New York and I've struggled to get hold of another one since so when I saw Covergirl was stocked in Australia I was super excited. I picked up the waterproof version as I fully intended to wear it whilst I was on holiday but as it happened I didn't wear any makeup at all so I haven't opened this up yet but I'm so pleased to have it back in my makeup bag.

Covergirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara - $17.95 AUD from Kmart. 

Covergirl, Sally Hansen and Revlon Nail Polishes

Despite taking nail polish with me I couldn't resist picking up a few little extras including the Revlon Chalkboard manicure duo which I cannot wait to try. I'm quite taken by the concept of the chalkboard manicure so I'm looking forward to giving this a go although I have a feeling I won't have the patience for it!

Covergirl, Sally Hansen and Revlon Nail Polish - from $3.95 to $15.95 from Priceline 

Despite having barely tried them I'm super pleased with all of my beauty purchases and I'm really looking forward to trying them all and letting you know what I think. I'm going to spend a few days researching stockists of the products so that hopefully you (and I!) will be able to pick them up from wherever we are in the world.

Have you tried any of the products I picked up - what do you think? If not, which ones would you most like to try?

Vicky x


29 January 2014

Fashion | Ray-Ban RZ5184 Frames*

Like many people, I require glasses for close work and using the computer. Since I've been working in an office I've noticed that I'm wearing my glasses more than ever (and not just because of the 8 hours a day I spend staring at a screen!) and it occurred to me that I hadn't changed my frames in nearly four years! Whilst that's a testament to the quality of the frames I have (and I'll be posting on them separately later) I started to think that it would be nice to have an alternative pair or two. After all, if they've got to be worn you might as well make them interesting. 

When the people at Vision Direct very kindly offered to let me choose a pair of glasses from their website I went for a pair that I'd been considering for a while, the Ray-Ban RX5184* in black. 

I was due an eye test anyway so I opted to wait for my new prescription and have the lenses put in by my own optician but you can also have your lenses added on the Vision DIrect website if you know your prescription.

Once I had my glasses back with my prescription lenses in I couldn't wait to start wearing them. I had initially worried that they might be a little overpowering as a black frame can often look very harsh but they are very flattering and the shape would suit pretty much every face shape which is always a bonus. 

Having previously worn quite small square glasses I found them a bit of a bold choice but one that I really love. Their sturdy look hides the fact they are incredibly light to wear - I hate the feeling of heavy glasses so this is always a deciding factor for me when picking out new frames, I want something lightweight but stable which they are.

I'd thoroughly recommend Vision Direct for anyone looking for new frames or contact lenses as they have a huge variety of them and the service is fantastic. I can't get on with contact lenses personally but should I change my mind, I'll know where to go to get them!

Vicky x

* PR Sample


7 January 2014

Beauty | Naturalmente Shampoo and Conditioner*

I received a press release a month or so ago with an introduction to Naturalmente, an Italian brand that were launching their vast range of naturally derived haircare products in the UK. With the opening paragraph including the phrase: "Naturalmente is challenging you to stop using traditional haircare and start treating your locks to a more gentle formula to reveal naturally beautiful hair" I admit, I was curious. I can't resist a challenge, especially one that promises to be kind to hair.

A few weeks later, the Rosemary and Lavender Shampoo* and the Anti-Oxidant Conditioner* arrived on my desk and I couldn't wait to try them both.

Rosemary and Lavender Shampoo*

I was really excited to try the Rosemary and Lavender shampoo, much more so than the conditioner if I'm honest, as I love really good shampoo and from the reviews I had read, this was a really good shampoo! 

Before I go any further let me be very blunt here: I do not like this as a shampoo. I had been expecting a wonder product, instead I was left feeling like I'd washed my hair in Fairy liquid. Remember when you were little and you washed your Barbie's hair in washing up liquid (I'm pretty sure I can't have been the only one!) that's how my hair felt after using this shampoo - matted, brittle and coarse. I don't buy in to the "well you obviously usually use products full of silicone that coat the hair shaft" as I don't. I've used purifying and detoxifying, as this is, shampoo on my hair before and I've never felt anything quite like I did with this.

What I will say though is it's a nice scalp treatment, a once-every-few-weeks treatment applied directly to the scalp/roots of the hair, to lift any product build up which is how I've been using it as I simply cannot justify trying to shampoo my hair with it.

The essential oils smell absolutely divine but they, along with the high water content, make the product very thin and loose which isn't to my personal taste. 

It's a shame because I really wanted to love this shampoo, especially after I saw the lovely Roisin with her divine locks raving about it but sadly, it doesn't work for me and my mane.

Anti-Oxidant Conditioner* 

The Anti-Oxidant conditioner is formulated for coloured and bleached hair and is enriched with a whole host of natural ingredients to preserve and condition the hair shaft after the colouring or bleaching process which takes a lot out of your hair.

I colour my hair every six weeks and over the summer I decided to strip back my natural near-black locks and go lighter before going dark again in the winter so my hair has really been through the mill this year yet due to my obsessive care of it, it remains in very good condition so when I spotted the Anti-Oxidant conditioner I knew I had to try it, every little helps after all.

In contrast to the shampoo, I absolutely love the conditioner. It's rich in texture and leaves my hair feeling soft, shiny and manageable exactly as the website claims. I really believe the addition of olive oil is responsible for this as it's long been known to be excellent for hair. 

The anti-oxidant enriched formula or carrots, nettles and marigolds is designed to help prevent colour loss whilst helping to nourish the hair with the addition of Vitamins A and E. Did it prolong my colour? The jury is out on that claim but it certainly made my hair feel well conditioned, soft and strong.

Whilst the shampoo didn't work for me, Naturalmente is a wonderful concept, natural products with biodegradable packaging, the products are SLS and paraben free and suitable for vegans and they do not test on animals, all of which are important issues and I applaud them for that.

Rosemary and Lavender Shampoo and Anti-Oxidant Conditioner - £9 each for 250ml

Have you tried Naturalmente? What did you think?

Vicky x

* PR Sample

5 January 2014

Lifestyle | My New Year's Resolutions/Goals for 2014

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you've had a great start to 2014 and that it continues to be filled with happiness, health and joy for you all.

I'm a few days late with this one but better late than never! As I said last year, setting goals and targets is really important to me both personally and professionally, both to challenge and measure myself with and I find that having something to work towards really motivates me. 

At the bottom of this post I've included how I got on with last years resolutions and goals, you'll see that I didn't achieve all of them but that in itself taught me that sometimes, even the best laid plans change and that as your priorities shift and your life changes you'll develop and achieve other goals that take precedence. 

image: weheartit

My resolutions/Goals for 2014

1. Take time to make time
This is my most important goal for 2014. A wise man (or woman) once said that no matter how busy you are, you will always make time for the things that are important to you and until last year I didn't appreciate that sentiment. It's so easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of work and other events that we do miss out on important things and those we don't miss we often fail to appreciate because we're wired up for the next thing - I am especially guilty of this. "Oh but I can't, I have work tomorrow…."

In 2014 I will be taking more time to myself, I aim to take a break from everything at least once every quarter to recharge my batteries so that I don't burn out. I'll also be making more time for family and friends. This doesn't mean saying "yes" to everything, nor is it connected to any sort of Fear of Missing Out, but rather having quality over quantity. Prioritising who and what is important and concentrating on spending time there.

2. Look after Number One
2014 is the year I will focus more on myself and my health; on what I'm feeling instead of what everyone else is, on what I want instead of what other people want for me and on putting things in to perspective. 2013 was quite topsy-turvy for me and I suffered as a result of that, it's not something I'm going in to here and now but I will post on it at some point this year. Until then, taking care of myself and my interest remains my top priority.

3. Pass my work qualifications
I started a new job in January 2013 and in February I will be starting an industry qualification which will take up the majority of the year. It's been such a long time since I had to actually learn something new, revise and sit exams and I won't lie - I am nervous. Even at school I had an almost crippling fear of failure and that certainly hasn't left me as I've got older but I'm hoping by following the two points above, as well as being older and more organised, I will be able to get through them successfully. 

4. Take a flower arranging class
This one is quite specific but it's something I really want to do. I love fresh flowers and when I have my own home I would love to always have fresh flowers in the house. I'd like to do an arranging class for the fun of it and because it's always nice to have a hobby.

5. Read more - at least one new book a month
I love reading and when I was younger I would constantly have my nose in a book. I received a Kindle for Christmas despite my reluctance for years to give up my actual books I cat help but be thrilled by it. It's so much more portable and the book options are endless so there really is no excuse for not reading. Knowledge is power and you expand your knowledge and your understanding of so many things when you read. I've already read three books since I received my Kindle and I feel so much better for it.

image: weheartit

With my new goals set, let's see how I managed with the resolutions I set myself in 2013…

1. Pass my driving test
Sadly this one didn't come to fruition. I found it incredibly difficult to make time for lessons as I got a new job in January 2013 which meant working Monday-Friday whilst still helping to cover my old role until May which involved working weekends too so for much of the year I didn't have any time. Once my weekends became free I realised that actually, I'd like to spend those two (precious) days doing other things and that yes, I would quite like to go out on a Friday night and have a few drinks, something I couldn't do if I had a lesson on the Saturday. I'm sure I will pick this up again at some point and I do think knowing how to drive is important but in London, it isn't essential for me.

2. Try a hot yoga class 
Again, I didn't manage to tick this one off my list but in my defence that was on medical grounds. 2013 wasn't the healthiest year for me so I didn't manage to give this one a try. Hopefully I'll be given a pass to try it this year but I am prone to dizziness and blood pressure changes. If I can't try this then I would like to try anti-grativty yoga or Pilates. 

3. Set a monthly budget to help build my savings
This is a proud achievement of mine. I managed to save enough for my trip to Australia (I'm going this year!) and I fully intend to carry on with my budgeting this year. Even cutting back on little things like lunch and snacks has made a huge difference and I'm very proud of myself as I haven't had to cut back on any of the things I love nor have I missed out on anything I wanted. If you would like a post on how I taught myself to budget, let me know.

4. Attend an evening class to learn a language
I am SO disappointed that this didn't happen but even more so because it genuinely wasn't my fault. I contacted two language schools and neither responded to me so unfortunately I was unable to do this as I didn't want to teach myself with tapes. I will be trying to contact them again this year as I genuinely believe it is very important and I would welcome the challenge and the new hobby.

5. Master cooking a roast dinner
Well I'm not sure if I could say I "mastered" this but I certainly achieved it on several occasions and I am incredibly pleased with myself for doing so!

As you can see, my resolutions and goals for 2013 were a little bit hit and miss but when all is said and done, I achieved far more in 2013 than I could have hoped for. No I didn't pass my driving test but I did get a promotion at work in my first year, no I didn't learn to speak Spanish but I learned how to hold a champagne glass properly (very important skill!) and no, I didn't try hot yoga but I did learn how to play polo - just three of the things I learned in 2013 that took me by complete and utter surprise.

I'll still be very focused on my goals and resolutions for 2014, simply because I do not know any other way to be, but I've made them a lot more about me as a person. Everything else? When I need it, it will happen and I certainly won't be beating myself up if at the end of this year I still haven't managed to contort myself into the shape of a pretzel in 40 degree heat at a yoga studio!

What are your goals and resolutions for 2014?

Vicky x

3 January 2014

Beauty | Laura Mercier Ambre Vanille Body & Bath Luxe Quartet

Christmas is always a bit manic, even when it's quiet the hours and days whizz by in a blur of mince pies, wrapping paper, Harry Potter films and family time. If you're anything like me, by the time Boxing Day is over you're ready to take time out  to relax and pamper yourself again before snuggling into a new pair of pyjamas with another box of Quality Street (they've actually released a box of just the Cremes this year - this brought unimaginable joy to my heart).

With that in mind, I couldn't wait to open my new Laura Mercier Body & Bath Luxe Quartet after the festivities had subsided which thankfully arrived just in time to be put to good use. I was down to my last few working hours of 2013 two days before Christmas when I heard one of my favourite phrases uttered in the office: Harrods sale, quickly followed by half-price Laura Mercier. I'd mentioned the Creme Brûlée set in my Christmas Gift Guide but opted for my other favourite, Ambre Vanille on this occasion. I placed my order late afternoon on the 23rd December and by 10am on the 27th December my order had arrived.

The set contains everything you need for a luxurious bath time pamper session: the cult Honey Bath, Body Polish and Souffle Body Creme and a large scented candle.

Ambre Vanille Honey Bath

Honey Bath is one of the most indulgent bath time products on the market. With the wooden dipper, thick honey-like (obviously!) texture and delicious fragrance it's a product that oozes luxury and makes every bath time feel like a real treat.

Packed with moisturising ingredients such as Shea butter and sweet almond protein, skin is left feeling soft and protected whilst all ingredients blend seamlessly together to provide a rich aroma, the vanilla extract comes through to provide a real feeling of warmth.

To use, twirl the honey dipper into the product before adding to running bath water to create rich foaming bath bubbles.

Ambre Vanille Body Polish

As you all know, I love an exfoliating scrub whether it's for face or body and I'm quite particular about the type I like. It has to feel like it's doing something without being harsh or abrasive. I want to feel as though I'm exfoliating but I don't want to feel as though I'm using broken glass to do it. The Laura Mercier Body Polish strikes the perfect balance between the two. With it's thick, creamy texture you know that the scrub is going to be moisturising and good for your skin but the crushed vanilla seeds give it enough of a kick to let you know that it means business, you can feel the scrub working but following the luxury theme, it feels effortless and delicate.

Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil assists with the exfoliation whilst Shea butter and honey help to condition and protect the skin at the same time and much like the Honey Bath, leave your skin feeling unbelievably soft and well looked after.

Ambre Vanille Souffle Body Creme

Moisturising is a real chore for me, I cling to my Vaseline Spray and Go moisturiser as though my life depends on it - it's everything I want for a moisturiser on a daily basis, quick and easy with no fuss and no mess. With that in mind, for me to actually enjoy using a moisturiser it takes something pretty special. 

The Ambre Vanille Souffle Body Creme is divine, utterly divine. I could bathe in the stuff, it smells and feels incredible on the skin and the scent lasts long enough without being overpowering. It's thick without being heavy, whipped without being airy and smooth without being oily. Quite simply, it ticks every single box and it's also packed full of Vitamin derivatives (A, C and E!!), conditioning ingredients such as Grape Seed and Rice Bran Oil and, along with all of the other products in the set, Pro-Vitamin B-5.

I slathered it on after my bath, popped on a fresh pair of PJs and cosy socks and sat watching festive favourites such as Bridget Jones and Love Actually with a cup of tea - complete and utter relaxation.

After a hectic few weeks of burring the candle at both ends, this little black box of bliss was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries. There's nothing quite like a hot relaxing bath and a few candles to wash away worry and leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed and I honestly cannot recommend the Laura Mercier sets enough. Unfortunately it would appear that they have sold out online (at a staggering 50% off this is little wonder) but the products are available all year round from retailers such as Space NK, Harrods, Selfridges, John Lewis and more.

Have you tried the Laura Mercier Body & Bath sets? Which one is your favourite?

Vicky x
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