Monday, 28 December 2015

Festive Soap and Glory Treats

I love everything about Soap and Glory - from their quirky packaging, to their tongue-in-cheek slogans and of course, their amazing product range. I always keep an eye out this time of year for their gift sets as they are such excellent value and often full of products that I've been meaning to try! The sets are excellently priced as is, but I find that Boxing Day sales make the perfect excuse for following the more-is-more rule. These sets are available in Boots. I purchased three of my favourite sets from the selection this year which I'm sharing in this post:

1. Belle of the Ball
I had my eye on this as soon as I saw it in Boots. This is actually a set that I featured in my Gift Guide for Her this Christmas because I think it's one of the best this year! The Smoothie Star scent is my favourite from the entire Soap and Glory range and this set has four miniatures of all of the product, including the Breakfast Scrub, Smoothie Star Body Butter, Rich and Famous Body Wash and Smoothie Star Hand Food. It also has a pink bath lily and is presented in a large metal bauble (which is perfect to keep and store little bits and bobs by the way!). This retails for £12 but I managed to grab it for £6 in the sales, an absolute bargain.

2. Three Times Butter 
This one is brilliant for someone who loves switching up their body butters and has trouble committing to a full size 300ml tub. Each of these are 50ml and are completely different scents, so you get to try a lot for a fraction of the price. I grabbed this set for only £4! It includes another Smoothie Star Body Buttercream, Sugar Crush Body Buttercream and The Righteous Butter Body Moisturizer. They're perfect to gift as a set or to divide and split between three. 

3. Soaper Star
This one does steal the show a bit. I snapped this one up for £10 - it has three full size products, two minis, a bath lily and a pair of cosy socks. The big 'uns are Clean on me Shower Gel, The Scrub of Your Life Body Buffer and the Righteous Butter. The miniatures are the original Hand Food and Heel Genius Creams - but they are still a very decent size. The packaging, well, it's absolutely gorgeous... very giftable (as it is meant to be), but I think I'm going to enjoy using these goodies myself instead!

What have your favourite Boxing Day finds been?

Friday, 25 December 2015

Top Tips for Boxing Day Sales

Merry Christmas everyone - I hope you're having a wonderful day wherever you're spending it! I thought I'd write a post on the days to come... the boxing day sales are the crazy days for shopping - it can be really hard to handle as everywhere gets so manic! There are a few tips and tricks that I've picked up over the years for how best to navigate through the sales, and avoid the stress of overpacked shops and malls. Here they are:

1. Have your targets. I've learnt to plan my shopping trips and write down where I want to visit and in what order. The last thing you want is to be wandering aimlessly in a crowd without knowing where you're headed or which places you want to see. Planning is key.

2. Have an idea of what you want. This is to avoid buying things that you won't wear or have any use for later on. Knowing what you want and need allows you to target the places where you want to buy things from. Maybe even write down specific items that you have an eye on to check if they go on sale after Christmas.

3. Keep an eye out for good gifts. This time of year seems to produce the best gift sets so it's a wonderful time to buy gifts for the year to come, whether it is birthday presents, mothers/fathers day gifts - or even for Christmas presents if you plan that far in advance!

4. Try online shopping. I did this last year and it was a very effective way of avoiding the crowds. It's true that sometimes you get a better deal in store, but I know some willing to pay a little more to avoid the rush!

5. Eat something before you leave. Coping with hunger is not something you want alongside sales shopping - the shopping part alone is stressful enough during the Boxing Day sales! 

6. Don't queue for the changing rooms. This can be a massive time waster. Stores that have a return policy will take sale items back if they're not right so wait to try them on when you get home and save yourself the time and stress of the fitting rooms.  

7. Get there a little early. Just a little bit. I know there will be some that camp out all night but that's a little too far for me. But getting to the stores a little bit before they open means you'll be the first in and have first choice for the best bargains. 

8. Stay calm. The sales really can get very manic and you can end up buying things that you have no need for. It's important to think clearly whilst your shopping, despite it being busy in the stores.  

Let me know what bargains you find!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Gorgeous Nightwear at Boux Avenue

I had never really heard of Boux Avenue until recently, when I stumbled across their website in search for some new winter nightwear. After just minutes of browsing their collection, I wanted it all! They have a whole range of products ranging from lingerie to nightwear, and even home and beauty accessories which are wonderful gift options for this time of year. 

Everything comes beautifully wrapped in gorgeous black, white and pink boxes with lace printed tissue paper and scented cream rose petals scattered inside. The gift wrapping option is completely free and adds that extra special touch whether it's a gift for someone else or (like me) yourself! Delivery time was incredibly fast as well - I placed my order at midday on Friday and it was delivered on Monday morning. 

After browsing the nightwear collection for absolutely ages, I finally narrowed down my choices to two pairs of pyjamas. These are beautifully fit, and include a buttoned shirt and pyjama bottoms in matching prints - one is pastel pink, striped with vintage prints and the other is blue with large red roses. The selection has a very Cath Kidston meets Victoria Secret feel - very luxurious and special yet still cute and utterly gorgeous. The pyjamas in a bag are excellent for travelling as they easily pack up and fit into your luggage. 

I loved the nightwear so much that I had a browse through the rest of the website to see if there was anything else that caught my eye (and I must say, there was a lot!). I picked up some powder tissues as I just ran out of blotting tissues in my bag, and also a very pretty satin eye mask. It ties up with a silk ribbon at the back, so you can adjust the size, and it is very comfortable to wear (not to mention, you feel like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's whilst wearing it). I'm incredibly impressed with my whole experience shopping at Boux Avenue - it was absolutely fantastic. Although, it's too late to order off their website in time, I highly recommend checking out their store if you're in search of some last minute gifts this Christmas!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Getting A Good Night's Sleep

I'm perpetually guilty of not getting enough sleep. The lead up to Christmas can be such a stressful time and so good sleep can be hard to come by. We all know how important sleep is for us - it's essential for both your body and mind, and can seriously improve your day if you're well rested from the night before. In this post, I share some of my top tips on getting a good night's rest so that the lead up to the big day(s) is a little less stressful on the sleep front. 

1. Have a regular bedtime and a wake-up time. This may sound impossible, but it is crucial to have a regular sleep pattern that fits around your schedule. You've probably heard of the term 'body clock', and it is completely true - your body has a system called the circadian rhythm which is a 24 hour cycle regulating all of our biological processes. A disruption to this rhythm is a significant cause of stress. So having consistency in your sleep times is vital in reducing stress levels.

2. Avoid bright lights and screens at least one hour before bed. Our bodies produce a sleep-inducing hormone named melatonin which is what helps us feel tired at night. This hormone is very light sensitive, and so any exposure to light before your bedtime disrupts it from being produced - light signals to the brain that it should be ready to function for activity, therefore keeping you awake. This means your bedroom should be as dark as possible, so that enough melatonin is produced for you to feel drowsy.

3. Take a warm bubble bath in the evening. This is a wonderful way to relax and prepare your body for a rest. Adding epsom salts and lavender oil work wonders for this - the salts contain magnesium (one of the most relaxing minerals known) and sulphur (a very detoxifying mineral) which really help calm you after a stressful day. Lavender oil reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and so is a perfect ingredient for a bath before bed. You can also dab a little on your pillow before going to bed.

4. Incorperate exercise into your routine. There are so many reasons why exercise is beneficial for our health, with sleep being one of them. The more active you feel you've been throughout the day, the better you are likely to sleep, and the deeper sleep you are likely to have. Staying active is also important in reducing your stress levels which can directly result in better sleep as well.

5. Try not to eat before bed. It's a well known fact that a heavy meal before bed is a big no no, particularly if you are trying to lose weight. However, having a heavy meal also affects your ability to sleep well as your body is still trying to digest all the food you have consumed. If you do feel peckish though, a light, non-sugary snack before bed is your best bet before bed.   

Do you have any more tips for good sleep?

Friday, 18 December 2015

My Top Six Festive Films

This time of year is perfect for staying indoors and cosying up on the sofa with hot chocolate and a movie. There are just so many festive films that come on television during December, but I always find there are a handful that I find myself watching again and again every year! Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Home Alone - this is one that I have watched every year since the age of four. It's such a classic - the first one is definitely a favourite but I know they've made three more since. Any one would be a great festive choice as they are all set around the Christmas period.

2. Bridget Jones's Diary - this one only became a tradition a few years back. I love Colin Firth in the BBC's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and the trailer caught my eye. I fell in love with the movie after first watch (as I'm sure many have), so since then, I make sure to watch it!

3.The Wizard of Oz - this one comes on every year and I circle it in the TV guide to watch. It's an old movie but it's brilliant, very true to the original tale and perfectly depicted on the screen. Well worth a watch if you're into the fairy tale type of movie.

4. Jingle All The Way - this is one that I actually first saw in July! It felt odd watching such a festive film in the summer when it was sweltering hot outside... But I enjoyed it very much. It follows the building of a stronger relationship between a father and son over the simple task of buying a Christmas present. Such a feel good movie. 

5. Elf - I watch this when I need a laugh. Will Ferell is amazing in anything that he does but this one is truly exceptional. If I was to pick a favourite from these six, this movie would take the crown for sure. 

6. Mean Girls - there are many reasons why this is so popular... But I think this movie holds a special place for me as I can remember when it first came out. It does have a Christmassy scene in it (we all know Regina George's famous Jingle Bell Rock dance), but this one is mainly for the sentiment and the laughs.

What are your favourite festive films for this year?

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

My Winter Makeup Edit

Travelling to and from university this winter means that I have to reduce my makeup to fit into a makeup bag - and this has meant picking out essentials from my collection to see me through the holidays. I actually really like this system - it encourages me to pick out a few choice items which I can rotate each month to freshen up my look. Here are the makeup bits that I'm enjoying this month:

If you've read my blog post on the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation last week, then you'll know all about how much I love it as a perfect base for makeup. I use it with my favourite NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard for an extra flawless finish. I powder my forehead, nose and chin with my MAC Mineralise Skin Finish in Medium so I don't get too shiny!

For eyes, I like keeping it simple this month. I've been loving the NARS Miss Liberty Highlighter - I find this too chunky to use as a highlighter but as an eyeshadow it gives the perfect glittery snow-like sparkle. My trusty Shiseido Lash Curler comes next, followed by lashings of the Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant Mascara

I've been using NARS Laguna Bronzer as a contour with the NARS Deep Throat Blusher on my cheeks. For highlight, I've rediscovered why the Dior Amber Diamond was so popular (I've had to find an individual seller's link because it's now discontinued)! My makeup bag has two lip options this month - NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella  for a classic evening red, or my favourite Dior Lip Maximiser Lipgloss for daytime. 

A small and simple selection, but so perfect for the couple of weeks that I'm home. I think I'm finally learning how to travel light...

What are your makeup essentials this winter?

Friday, 11 December 2015

A Classic Red Manicure

There's no colour that quite screams Christmas as well as a classic red. I love wearing red on my nails all year round, but there's something about a glossy creamy claret that feels perfect for December. Nails Inc has always been one of my absolute favourite nail polish brands. They have a perfect Christmas red as part of their core range called Chelsea Green, which is what I'm wearing below. I love the subtlety of red nails topped with my trusty Kensington Caviar Topcoat but an excellent way to make your nails more festive is to top with a little glitter. Nails Inc have recently released their Snow Globe Top Coat which allows you to choose how much glitter you want to add depending on how much you shake the product before application. Another glittery topcoat which I absolutely love is the Essie Luxe Effects Sparkle on Top which adds a little iridescence and reflects different colours in different lighting.

What's your favourite nail colour this season?

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

My Holy Grail Foundation

This foundation has been on my 'must-buy list' for absolutely ages. It's been a seriously hyped product for years and I was very late to the beauty bandwagon when I finally caved and purchased it this autumn. But my goodness, I cannot believe I was without this product! Within a week of trying it, it was on my favourite foundations list, and within a fortnight it had taken the top spot. 

Priced at £31 (without the pump), it's not the cheapest of foundations. But I knew that I loved all the NARS products that I had tried, and I certainly hadn't heard a single bad word about this one. The bottle is 1 Fl. Oz (30ml), and is made of glass. The packaging is small and feels fairly luxurious. The one drawback is that you have to purchase the pump separately (£3), otherwise you end up getting foundation all over your hands and wasting an expensive product. Also, you can't fit the lid back on with the pump, and so the product has to stay upright on your beauty shelf or in your makeup bag. 

The consistency of Sheer Glow is very light, yet medium (buildable) coverage. It smells fresh and applies smoothly, whilst giving a healthy brightness to the skin and lifting the overall complexion. For this reason, this foundation is perfect for someone with combination/dry skin, but I wouldn't recommend it for oilier skin types. Wear time is also fantastic - I've worn this for around thirteen-fourteen hours with very few concealer touch ups throughout the day. The foundation is available in a really wide range of shades for all different skin tones. I purchased the shade Santa Fe and, with the NARS creamy concealer in the shade Custard, the colours matched perfect together. 

Overall, this foundation is expensive, but it honestly feels worth it. It lasts a long time - you only need the tiniest amount per application. For the price, I needed it to be the most wonderful foundation I had tried, and it definitely didn't let me down. 

Have you tried the NARS Sheer Glow?

Monday, 7 December 2015

A New Hair Accessory

Ever since I clapped eyes on the Céline Gold Hair Barrette, it was love. How could something so simple in design, look so elegant and sophisticated? I had to have it. That was until I saw the price tag - £250 for a hair clip?!  Then again, it is Céline. But we all know that, as with most popular designer items, the coming weeks are filled with multiple releases of 'dupes', similar styles at a fraction of the price. So of course, I kept an eye out for something similar to the barrette - and I found some gems on ASOS.
1. Original Céline Gold Hair Barrette - £250

These three clips from ASOS have been heavily inspired by the Céline runway hairstyles, yet all of them are under £10. I was so happy that I seriously had to keep myself from purchasing all three! What's more, with the student discount and upcoming ASOS deals, it's really easy to get extra money off... so you end up with the same look without breaking the bank.

What do you think? Real or steal?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Party Season Essentials

I hate carrying my day bag around everywhere, so buying pretty clutches for the party season is definitely an investment! This post is dedicated to sharing how I condense my day bag into a smaller bag so that I always have my essentials at hand on an evening out. The idea behind a clutch bag is being as minimalistic as possible. It can be quite hard choosing the basics to fit in such a small bag, so here's an idea of the things that I like to carry on an evening out: (of course, this can vary according to where you're going!)

I keep a smaller purse for my clutch bag, more the size of a card holder. The one pictured is from Monki, and it's just big enough to keep a form of ID, a railcard for when I'm using trains as transport and my bank card. It also has a zip section for cash and coins in case a cab is needed. I always have a lipstick, concealer and (a sample sized) perfume in my clutch. A powder compact is useful for getting rid of shine - choose one with a mirror so that you have one on hand for touch ups on the go. If I have enough room, I keep the nail polish that I'm wearing at handy in case of chipping. I usually cut a couple of painkillers from a sheet and tuck those into my purse, along with a couple of hair ties and some tissues. Then, with my phone and keys, I'm good to go! 

What do you usually carry in your clutch bag?
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