Tuesday 31 December 2013

2013: A Year Of Hair

Happy New Year peeps! I hope this one is a healthy and happy one for you all. I've seen loads of blog summary posts or a look back over the year, however, I'm not sure I have the patience (or time) to look through a year of outfits or hundreds of pairs of shoes! So instead, I've put together this little compilation of my hair colour throughout 2013. This was the year I bought very little dye and used up all the random bottles I'd been storing. I also (mainly) stuck to full head applications with the exception of contrasting tips once. I'm very much led by mood in terms of my style, from my hair colour to what I wear each day, even down to the colour of my nails. However I never felt pulled in any one direction during 2013. I had a passion for purple hair at one point, but that fizzled out and I just felt a bit unsure of what to do next or finding something I haven't already tried over the years.
So, I started the year with faded Atomic Turquoise (Manic Panic). I then went a dark and bold blue in mid January, mixing AT with Ultra Violet (MP). That faded to a teal colour (not unlike Atomic Turquoise), then lighter and lighter green (can I just add my hair was on fiyah the week of '2nd from right' pic). So then came the change to purple (2nd row). Oh how I love the beautiful purple colour, but wow, how quick it fades. You don't even need to wash your hair and it disappears! I really used up some randoms on this one, mixing half a bottle of Ultra Violet with Bubblegum Blue and Lilac (both Crazy Color) maybe a 1/3 of a bottle of each of those. It starts off vivid (and ridiculously pretty), then goes violet, then lilac, then almost grey. I just adore the colour on the second pic from left, second row.  My hair has natural golden/warm tones to it and I liked that this was completely cool.  Like I say, it faded quickly, although I actually resisted the urge to ditch this colour right away and let it go greyish, then re-did it. I think my mixture was slightly different the second time, but again the majority was UV. This was April/May.  As much as I love it, it feels too high maintenance for the lazy hair person I am!

Then came a full head bleach (3rd row) and I was really undecided with what to do. I ended up doing my one and only 'two-tone head' of the year using some Bubblegum Blue mixed with Atomic Turquoise for the majority and Ultra Violet on the ends. It was spectacular and reminded me of how I had it years before (although the application/products used were different). That damn purple though, just disappeared. First wash and it drastically faded, until I couldn't even remember I'd put purple on the tips. Come August, I was sent Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL Ultra Brights in Purple Punk 94 and Shocking Pink 93 to try, so once my colour had faded to pale green I applied the pink one. I only had enough bleach for my roots, so the ends were left a pale green and this created a pinky/purple mix. It actually turned out pretty cool as you can see the blue toned purple streaks (1st left, bottom row) against the purpley pink. Surprisingly this lasted quite some time and the fading tended to go more purple and actually darker (because it was more dull, rather than fading lighter like other colours).

I felt like something different again and thought the purple one would be too similar, so bought 95 Electric Blue. While it was extremely bold and bright after application and I loved it, I felt it faded quicker than the pink. It turned a lovely pale blue shade, but still I'd hoped it would last longer. So that brings me to the end of November at which point I used the Purple Punk. On me, it comes out very, very like the pink (when you compare the first and last photos on the bottom row).  A month on and it's fading slowly.  I have absolutely no idea what to do next or what I haven't already tried.  I don't much fancy yellow, orange, red (too staining) and am not sure I'd suit black although I've been surprised at how much I love the darker/bolder colours.  I'd quite like to try a dark purple, but I'm struggling to find something that doesn't lean too plum.  What did you like best this year? Any ideas for what I could do in 2014?

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Thank You & Merry Christmas

Blogging is a funny old thing. From my own personal experience (and I've been doing this for quite some time now), it can consume most of my day (to the point that I have no idea how working peeps do it), it's unpaid, it can cost a lot of money (blog maintenance and the constant shopping factor...ok that last one would probably happen with or without blogging) and it's definitely not all parties and freebies. At times the tech side or situations outside my control can get really stressful and it's a constant, never ending cycle of thinking up new posts, taking the photos, writing, editing and doing so all before it's 'old news'! You become creative director, editor, writer, photographer, stylist, model, PR, product tester and proof reader. I'll be the first to admit, it's bloody hard work!
That said, I genuinely love it and couldn't imagine my life without it. Actually, I had no life before it! I've been ill for 11 and a half years now and blogging has given me something fun and worthwhile to focus on. I give myself deadlines and have schedules to keep to.  I get up and dressed and look forward to documenting it, when I'd probably have stayed in my jammies before blogging.  I'm no longer able to sew, design or draw and my social life is extremely limited, so finding something I'm capable of doing right now whilst linking to fashion (and beauty) is a dream come true. For a while I felt like I'd lost myself and any talent I had was wasted. Blogging for me, is not only an escape from my situation but it's also given me this wonderful group of friends from fellow bloggers to readers. I'll go weeks only speaking to my family at home, so having this social aspect, even if it is virtual is brilliant for me.  I really do hope at some point, I can meet some of you in 'real life'.  At times it can feel like you're working for nothing or nobody is reading and I know I'm not the most successful blogger (however you'd measure that) and I also know I'm probably not capable of attending the fancy events that can lure in a wider readership.  However, I hope there's something here that keeps you coming back and I want to thank you all for the support over the past year.  I read and try to reply to every single comment, email and message.  You have no idea how it brightens my day when I log in to find some new comments.  I hope you've all had a happy and safe Christmas if you celebrate and wish the best for you and your families in 2014.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Christmas Presents

Are you all set for Christmas? I spent this weekend wrapping gifts, so I've been well prepared. I really have to pace myself during the festivities or else I'll end up ill in bed and miss it all! So I've had to write cards and package up parcels and wrap presents in stages. I'm not a fan of doing any of it to be honest, it's quite the chore (despite me spending years wrapping perfumes and the like when I worked on the beauty counter as a youngster). My wrapping skills this year have been pretty shocking and I was glad to finish it all on Sunday.
Obviously all my presents that have to be posted were done first, then I tackled my nephews (large) gifts on Saturday and then the rest of the family. With work being done on our house, we sent our dining table to storage, so it's been a real struggle this year, wrapping on the floor (especially when my back is so dodgy just now). However it's all done and they're all sitting under the tree, ready for tomorrow.
I thought you might like to see some of the gifts I got for my family. I've only had one shopping day and literally went to three shops and that's all I could manage. It's really difficult when you can't just pop out to get that little something extra or suddenly remember there's something you forgot. I'm never in the vicinity of shops as most of my time is spent in my house/street, so I've had to rely on shopping online and on others to buy for me. I've managed to snag some bargains and unfortunately my 'one for you, one (or two) for me' shopping mentality has never left me!
Starting with a complete disaster. I wanted to get this Bratz Holiday Jade for my sister as she collects the Jade dolls and this one never came out in the UK and is harder to find. Combining her love of Christmas and dolls in one package, I was very excited to find it on eBay (and even more so, when my Dad produced a £10 voucher to use on it with his eBay account). I ordered it on November 24th and obviously thought I had no worries about it arriving on time. Weeks past and still no parcel, so I began to panic. I checked their feedback and found some others were now leaving negative or neutral saying it hadn't turned up, took ages to arrive or wasn't what they were expecting. The item was located in Germany but shipping within the UK was free... it all seemed a bit strange to me. They did say in the listing delivery would take a while and so I wasn't sure when to contact them. In the end, I went to message them and instead it led to me opening an 'item not received' case (it said I could if I hadn't received by the 14th and this was the 18th). So lo and behold, two days later the item turns up with a return address of Swansea (which last time I checked wasn't in Germany). This isn't the worst of it.
My sister raced to the door before me and I wasn't expecting it anyway and the package was OBVIOUSLY shaped like a Bratz doll (tapered box). I knew she knew, but I kept up the pretence. Then I noticed the address label was covering the label beneath which read 'EBAY Bratz Holiday Jade' and I just knew she would've seen that. So in the end, I just had to give it to her early. I was so disappointed, the best laid plans and all that!  Never again will I purchase from that seller. Anyway, she absolutely loved it, but I was furious at the blunders along the way. I already ordered her this other Bratz Holiday Jade, again it's one that is hard to find here.
Yes, we're really going to need that extension once she receives all these dolls, because I bought a vintage Sindy for her as a replacement for the 'lost' Jade. Sindy is where the doll obsession began for us both as children (although I was definitely more obsessed than her) and I thought this very rare Festive one (from 1996) would be a nice collector item for her. There's another variation ('Noel' with gold top), but I knew she would prefer this one with the furry hood.
 I just adore that cute image on the back of the box.
Oh and I've had this Kawaii Crush sleepover set for her, for ages. We just got her the complete set of individual figures the other week in Home Bargains as she's been wanting to buy these for a while and we quite literally emptied the shelves of them! I managed to get this online from Debenhams when they had a promotion on and I also had a free £10 gift card they'd given me, so in the end it cost £4 instead of £20. She'll love it.
For my dad (definitely the hardest to buy for), I got a man-bag. He has one just now that is on it's last legs and so Mum and I trawled ASOS when I had a generous discount code and found this Esprit messenger bag. It's not very exciting but hey ho.
Mum also wanted a bag. A tote, large enough for shopping and that would go on her shoulder. She's terribly fussy, so I let her pick one she liked and she chose this teal Liquorish one.
It comes with a rather large pouch thing...not sure what for, but I'm sure she'll put it to use.
I also got her this Paul & Joe Moisture Lip Treatment.
And may have done so, to keep this adorable cat makeup bag (which was free) for myself.   
These three new prints of my beloved wiggle dress may also have fallen into my basket with these orders!  I've had mixed experiences with these fitting despite owning two of the 'original' prints. The brown floral one is in the same thick cotton with slight stretch, like my other two. The jacquard one feels really stiff which I'm not too keen on and fits slightly smaller than the others. I actually sent it back, then decided to re-order it once I'd thought about it some more! The other one is a 'floaty' poly fabric which hangs really nicely (although isn't really required on such a tailored dress) and it fits ok-ish too. Despite being almost identical patterns/shapes, none are as comfortable or as generous fitting as my originals. However having ordered a few in the summer that didn't fit at all-I was thankful these did (might not after Christmas dinner).
There's some makeup items I purchased for myself too, but I haven't had time to photograph them for you yet. Naughty girl. I have my other sister, my brother in law and my three nephews, but I thought these gifts here would be of most interest to you. All of my friends have now had babies (four girls and two boys to buy for), so I was like Santa when I came home with all the toys for them! It's difficult when you're trying to buy something lightish and small for posting, safe for posting too (so many restrictions on batteries etc), suitable for their age and something you hope they don't already have. Anyway, I hope you're all snuggled up at home ready for Santa. I'm away to get ready for my second church service of the day (the midnight carol service), so I have to keep my peepers open for some time yet. Then it's off to my sisters tomorrow for our meal.  Merry Christmas to you all when it comes x x x

Friday 13 December 2013

Soap & Glory: The Yule Monty

I'd intended to write a 'warning' message yesterday regarding this set and the deal, but unfortunately didn't have time. Instead I have details of what's inside and once again, it's rather fabulous.
Every year, Soap & Glory have some sort of bumper gift pack usually costing around £60, this year it's The Yule Monty. Boots have their 'star buys' every week in the run up to Christmas and it usually includes the S&G gift and it always proves very popular. I've found myself in previous years, frantically refreshing the website at midnight and pulling all-nighters in the hope of grabbing one. Thankfully in latter years, they've been aware of it's popularity and planned for it, by adding lots of stock to all stores. My parents had noticed loads of these being displayed in my local store on Wednesday and that's when the email popped up saying it would be £27 instead of £60, so I was well prepared this time.
Mum went down for opening time this morning, grabbed one for me and was home before I'd even woken up! So it was pretty stress free for me. She said they had tonnes and this shop isn't a big one, so those bigger stores get even more stock. I checked at lunchtime and it had sold out online, so I'm not sure how long the stock lasted there.  Your best bet now is to check stores and hope they have some left.   
I've not been in Boots for ages, so haven't seen the Christmas stuff other than in the catalogue.  I've been making my way through my own supplies (from previous years) which would probably put a shop to shame! I hadn't been too enamoured with this years festive collection if I'm completely honest. Funny how the print/bags can make you want it or not!  When I saw this bag in the email though, I was like "ooooh that's lovely, why have I not wanted it before now?" Then I realised it's because this is not the Yule Monty bag that has been instore for months, it's actually a special, limited edition one designed by Jonathan Saunders! It's much prettier than the regular one I think.
And look at everything you get inside!
Every item inside is full size and the total value of the nine products is £72.50, so you're already getting a bargain at the regular price of £60.  Plus the gorgeous case for free! 
I'll run through everything individually. Starting with the two makeup items. You get Thick & Fast mascara (£10) and Sexy Mother Pucker XL (£10) lip plumping gloss in Pink Out Loud. I couldn't get an accurate photo of this gloss in the dark today, but it's a lovely warm pink.
Peaches & Clean face cleanser 200ml (£8)
Sugar Crush body wash 500ml (£6.50)
Butter Yourself body lotion 500ml (£10)
The Righteous Butter body cream 300ml (£10.50)
Heel Genius foot mask (£5.50) and Hand Food hand cream both 125ml (£5)
The Scrub Of Your Life body scrub 200ml (£7)
Plus you get some sachets of Make Yourself Youthful serum along with a skincare voucher.
Isn't that a fabulous set for £27?  I'd think you could get it off your advantage points if you had enough (I've done this in previous years).  You could also split the pack into separate gifts if you were still looking for Christmas presents.  Let me know if you managed to snag one today or if you know anywhere that still has stock to help others out!

Thursday 12 December 2013

Comparison Swatches: Rimmel 305 Nude Praline

Look at me being all regular with the swatch requests! Tej had commented on an old Rimmel lipstick swatch post of mine. She loved one of the lipsticks, which is now discontinued and wondered if I knew of any alternatives. None immediately came to mind, given that the colour isn't particularly unique within my lipsticks i.e. I own a lot of browns and nudes, so if a request comes in for anything else, it's very easy to locate the few that could be similar. That said, it doesn't mean I own a vast amount of perfect dupes for this, it means there's a lot of lipsticks to go through! I actually had no idea where to start so just had to methodically go through my lipstick drawers, picking out (hopefully) those that haven't been discontinued yet. I didn't attempt to look through my MAC tray because the majority of those are limited edition shades anyway and after finding many LE and/or discontinued shades last time, I didn't think it was very helpful. I forgot to check Lancome, but off the top of my head, can't think of a similar one to this.
Ok, first things first. The lighting was pretty dire this day, so the orangey glow is from the lamp in my room, not the lipsticks. I also only managed to get swatches with the flash, because those without were blurry.
The lipstick in question is Rimmel Lasting Finish in 305 Nude Praline, in the bronze packaging (3rd from left). I remember there were maybe just 4 lipsticks in this range (certainly I own four) and that they were part of a special summer (?) range. Although I can recall them being available for longer than just a season. All four are brown shades leaning copper or bronze or nude, so perhaps it was some sort of 'natural' or 'nude' collection. The Lasting Finish formula is one that is still available now in the main line and is also used for the Kate Moss collections, although the packaging has been updated over the years.  It feels really creamy on the lips and the colours are opaque.  
Nude Praline looks to me like a beautiful pinky beige-nude in the tube, perfect actually. It is highly pigmented and packs quite a punch in the swatch, so it does come out a little deeper than you'd think (especially against my very pale hand). On the lips, it still works as a nude though. It's a warm shade with terracotta (so orange and red and brown) and pink tones. Quite complex really. It's a shade Rimmel do well and I think the nearest dupe in my collection is actually their Kate Moss 03 lippie. However there are several near-alternatives.
From left to right in product and swatch photos:
Clarins Rouge Eclat in 15 Nude Caramel
Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate in 03
NYX Round Lipstick in 517 Hades
Dainty Doll in 008 Storm in A Tea Cup
Dior Addict Extreme in 316 Incognito
Too Faced Lip Of Luxury in Totally Nude
I've put the Rimmel one along the top for comparison with all the other lipsticks. Clarins is more tan and has less pink. Rimmel (Kate Moss) is a touch lighter and has less red than Nude Praline. NYX is a touch darker and is more brown. Dainty Doll is more sheer and is missing that pink tone, leaning taupe. Dior is very sheer, so I had to build up the colour (and even then, it doesn't compare to the opacity of Rimmel). It looks to have the right tone but is just not pigmented enough. Too Faced leans more orange.

Too Faced Lip Of Luxury I believe is being phased out, probably after the introduction of the La Creme lippies, so if you find it, buy it now.  Similarly Dainty Doll was I think discontinued for a second time, or at least the items are popping up on discount websites and I'm struggling to find them full price anywhere which points me to that conclusion.  Everything else is available now and not limited edition.  Like I said, I think the Kate Moss one is closest, it's not quite as deep but see how it has that pinky tone over a terracotta base?  I'm actually wearing it as my lipstick this week, you can see it on the lips here and here (both worn with a gloss over the top).  I think NYX and Dainty Doll are least like Nude Praline, while Clarins does look quite similar as an alternative or addition to the Kate Moss one.  I hope this helps you Tej and anyone else who was looking for this one.  I'm glad I found some purse friendly and in-stock items to compare.    

Wednesday 4 December 2013

What's In My (Travel) Bag: Skincare Edit

I'm back from my overnight stay in Glasgow and thought I'd put this together, much like the 'what's in my bag' style posts you see, but of the beauty products I took with me. I've separated the makeup bit for another post, so this is the skincare edition. Being away from home is a bit of a novelty for me. I used to be here, there and everywhere but now it's very rare that I'm anywhere but home! I hate packing though and always have. I usually take too much because I like having choices and hate that feeling of completely forgetting something or choosing to leave something behind that I probably end up needing. This time though, I tried to pack as light as possible and thankfully had everything I needed. Well, almost.
Ok, so starting with cleansers. A small bottle of Lancome BiFacil for removing eye makeup and I squeezed some Lancome Gel Eclat cleanser into this small jar my sister lent me. I have several Galateis Douceur travel sizes, but they aren't as efficient at makeup removal as this cleanser and at 50ml, they were bigger than I needed (considering I would only be using it twice). I also poured a little Tonique Douceur toner into a small travel size version. I considered leaving it behind altogether as I'm sure I wouldn't die from skipping it (!), however I think the pristine white hotel towels would thank me for ensuring all traces of makeup are removed!  I also took lots of cotton-wool pads.  
The smallest moisturiser I could find was this YSL Forever Youth Liberator Cream, which I haven't tried before. I'm usually a stickler for night and day creams, but there's little point in cramming two in.  I had several Lancome moisturisers in bigger jars and some were even glass, so this YSL one was definitely the most portable. I've been applying Lancome DreamTone twice a day for a couple of weeks now and didn't want to skip that, thankfully the bottle was small and light to take with me. Getting these mini versions in GWP's is so handy if you're a frequent traveller. Also in this photo is Oxy Emergency Spot Gel which needs no explaining really. Along with Lacura Eye Roll On. Again I'd usually have separate day and night (gel and creams) for the eyes, but there was no need for two and I've completely run out of eye cream right now, so this is all I had.
Regardless of how far I'm travelling, I'll always have a bottle of Soap & Glory Hand Maid with me. It's really....'handy' to have! My hands have been feeling quite dry lately, which is unlike them (I apply hand cream every night all year round anyway), so I found this little tube of No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Hand Cream (again from a gift with purchase), which was the most portable. Fragrance wise, I'm loving Lancome's La Vie Est Belle, so had two little spray vials in my handbag and this mini bottle in my makeup bag.  
The cute little jar below is my pill case (adorable huh?) for the meds I need.  I knew there would be mirrors in the hotel room, but I like having one in my handbag and also prefer to apply my makeup sitting on the bed rather than at a big mirror.  This Soap & Glory one came in a set and it's really light to carry and the glass is protected.  
The only thing I regret not taking and I swithered and dithered right up until leaving the house, was some dry shampoo.  My hair was playing up on Sunday night and I could've done with some va va voom from Batiste!  I didn't have a mini one though and thought it was pointless to drag the big can along, so left it behind.  In the grand scheme of things, it was no biggy.  You can see my travelling and evening outfits from Sunday on The Shoe Girl Diaries and tomorrow, I'll have finished my Monday outfit.  How light or not do you like to travel?  Do you hate being unprepared or forgetting something?