Friday, 29 January 2016

January Loves

I can't believe how quickly January has flown by! It feels like yesterday when I wrote my 2016 resolutions, so when it came to picking my favourites for this month, I was left scratching my head and wondering where the time had gone. I wanted to share the things that I had truly been using and loving throughout this month, so there are only a handful of things (eight to be precise!). January is a strange month - to be honest I'm glad it's finally over and now we've firmly stepped into 2016.

You might remember that I purchased Soap & Glory's Belle of the Ball in December which had lots of bath goodies from the Smoothie Star range. I've loved using each and every one of the products from the set but my two favourites have to be the Breakfast Scrub and the Rich & Foamous Shower Cream. I've used both every day this month - followed up with the Smoothie Star Body Buttercream, I smell like maple syrup and sugar all day! 
The Maybelline Fit Me Concealer has been my saviour once my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer was coming to an end. It doesn't crease on me and provides medium buildable coverage which is perfect for hyper pigmentation and redness in the morning. For nails, I have literally only worn one shade all month. This rarely happens, trust me. But Perfect Formula's Greige has just been a dream to wear. My nails feel strong, healthy and it's the perfect new year neutral that goes with anything and everything (even my pyjamas, I kid you not).

It's been all about the jewellery this month, and no one does affordable jewellery better than Accessorize. I've recently purchased these two rings which I have worn to death this month. Again, there's a close up picture of them on in this post.
My  Kate Spade Agenda has been my best friend for having an organised kick start for 2016. I love everything about it - it has monthly pages so you can plan your whole month, and then week on two pages throughout the rest of the planner. Each month is divided with tabs for easy access when flicking through.
I recently wrote a review on my gorgeous copper rose gold Happy Plugs earbuds. I've been sporting these non-stop since they arrived in the mail. I've written so much more on them in that post, so be sure to read that if you're interested.
Last but not least, are my new pyjamas. I recently purchased three sets of pyjamas from Boux Avenue, and I've been loving them all. There is something that feels very luxurious when wearing a good set of pyjamas - and with all the cute prints, I've been in sleepwear heaven all month!

What have been your favourites this month?

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Perfect Formula Gel Coat Nailcare Collection

I've searched long and hard for the perfect nail kit to strengthen my flaking and peeling nails that were in desperate need of help. And I think I've found it! This Perfect Formula Gel Coat Nailcare set is one I received as a gift from my mum in December. It comes with a crystal nail file and five full sized nail varnishes, including two bottles of their famous Pink Gel Coat. Each nail varnish is enriched with strengthening proteins to help keep your nails healthy, strong and very shiny! It retails at £34.50 on QVC, which is amazing value for the goodies you get inside...

Firstly, the set is packaged beautifully. Perfect to gift to someone with troubled nails - but I'm sure once you see it you'll want to keep it all for yourself! The set comes in a very elegant, understated box which pulls out like a drawer. I like to keep my nail varnishes in there for the time being but the plastics removable to use for storing little bits later on. 

And when you slide it open, there are five beautiful bottles of nail varnish: two pink gel coats and three very classic colours. The first shade is Dazzle, a frosted shimmery sparkle. This would be perfect for a hint of shimmer or as an overcoat for a bolder colour. The second shade is Greige, a gorgeous lilac grey putty shade. I have been wearing this non stop all of January (hint: you might see it featured in my January Favourites post on Friday). And the last shade is Diva, a bold glossy red, perfect for statement nails. This one is an excellent pedicure colour too. 
There's also a full size crystal nail file. You may remember my 2015 favourites where I raved about the Leighton Denny crystal nail file - it now has a rival! I've decided to keep this one in my manicure box at home and have my (slightly battered) Leighton Denny one for my handbag on the go.

There's a reason why this kit is called Perfect Formula - I can honestly say that this is the best thing that I've ever tried for my nails (and trust me, there's a lot I've tried). If you're thinking that this set is a little out of budget, the Pink Gel Coat alone will be enough to introduce you to the range - I just love the fact that you get some lovely colour choices with this set for only a few pounds more!

Have you tried the Perfect Formula range? 
Let me know your thoughts!

Ambar xo


Monday, 25 January 2016

The '90s Nude Brown Lip

So... I'm a little late to the Gerard Cosmetics 1995 party. But oh my, I'm so glad I found it! It is literally the most perfect '90s lip that I was looking for, a perfect combination of dusky rose pink and brown. It's semi matte, more of a satin finish so not too drying on the lips. With a good brown liner, like Mac Whirl, this is perfect. Just p-e-r-f-e-c-t. 

I know this shade was inspired by the famous Kylie Jenner lip of last year, but it seems to be a shade that goes with everything! I'm finding that I could put on any outfit and this would be a fail safe option to team with it. There are LOTS of dupes out there. I know that I went through two tubes of the Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle, which was also a pink brown nude but was a lot more glossy. I'm also a firm lover of the Soap and Glory Gloss Stick in Nudist, but this? This is just something on a whole other edgy, grungy and yet somehow perfect pout level. 

Have you tried the '90s lip trend?


Friday, 22 January 2016

Some Fancy New Earphones

Since my standard Apple earphones broke during my travels back and forth across London over Christmas, I was in desperate need of some new ones. I had a few criteria whilst shopping to find the right replacement:

1. They mustn't be too expensive. I had already blown my budget over the festive period on presents and the sort. I didn't want to spend more than £30 or so. Aka, click off the Frends website.
2. They must be earbuds. I usually use my headphones on the go so I don't like having bulky over ear headphones which take up lots of room in my bag. I needed them to be small enough to travel with without problems.
3. Looking cute is a bonus. I wanted them in a pretty colour if possible. My previous ones had just been plain white, and although this particular criterion wasn't essential, I was thrilled when I finally clapped my eyes on Happy Plugs.

If you're a fan of the rose gold earphones that Frends have made popular, Happy Plugs is your answer. These are B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. I don't think the picture even does them true justice. The colour is the perfect shade between copper and rose gold (if you read my Homeware Haul then you'll know all about that obsession of mine). I actually featured this exact pair in my Christmas Gift Guide for Her, but completely forgot about how much I wanted them afterwards! They are extremely comfortable to wear in your ears and they don't fall out (this is a problem I find frequently with a lot of earbuds I have bought in the past).

Now, sound quality. Honestly, these are pretty darn good for the price. Don't expect Bose but these allow for sharp, crisp, quality sound which doesn't change depending on the volume you have set. The sound stays consistent and they really are a pleasure to use. There is a control on the wire which allows you to pause and play videos and sounds tracks. However, the one down side is that this control doesn't have a volume control like the standard Apple headphones. You have to control volume using the device the headphones are connected to.

Price wise - now here is the best bit - they are usually £24.99, but on Amazon, Happy Plugs are selling these particular earbuds (and in a ton of different colours) for £14.99! For such an adorable accessory, I have no complaints. I am thoroughly impressed so far and I've been using them non stop since I received them. My one worry is how long they will last, but I can keep you posted on that one - so far, so good!

Have you tried Happy Plugs?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A Battle Between Concealers

You may or may not know my obsession with the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. It is luxurious, light weight yet medium-to-full coverage and perfect for nearly every concealing job out there (the exception is probably tattoos). I even featured it in my 2015 Favourites. However, at a price of £22 for 6ml, it is expensive. Yes, the packaging is super pretty and sleek. Yes, the coverage is a tiny bit more. But all in all, I am certain that Maybelline have formulated the perfect dupe for this little tube of flawlessness. That is with none other than their Maybelline Fit Me Concealer.  

Firstly, take a look at the packaging. Very, very similar. Of course with NARS there will be that extra level of luxury, but with the Maybelline being only £5.99, I can't really complain on that front. It still looks pretty sleek to me, even if it is plastic. Both have doe foot applicators for applying the concealer, with the Maybelline wand being a little longer than the NARS. That's another thing - you get 6.8ml with Maybelline Fit Me, so a fair bit more product. 

Then take a look at the swatches. My NARS concealer in Custard on the left (running out a little hence it looking a little thinner) and the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Sand on the right. They look almost identical. The coverage is very similar, I'd say, with the NARS being a little more buildable. Both consistencies are very lightweight (Maybelline Fit Me is actually a gel based formula) and hydrating without caking on the skin. They last a long time and are both easy to blend with fingers or brushes/sponges. 

NARS have a wider shade range, with Maybelline only making this concealer in six shades, but the latter is truly a great dupe if you find your shade. I seriously cannot sing enough praises about these products. Be sure to let me know if you try them!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Gorgeous New Jewellery Finds

There's something so uplifting about finding the perfect accessories to match your outfit. I I love looking for the gorgeous pieces (the more sparkly the better!) to team with a relatively simple ensemble. Accessories work particularly well with a minimalist lifestyle - they can help transform the basic staples of your wardrobe into high fashion looks, and reinvent those pieces each time your wear them. Actually, that's possibly the main reason why I absolutely LOVE shopping for them.

Shoes, hats, bags - they're all under the accessory category, but I wanted to focus on the power of jewellery. There have been several jewellery trends floating around over the past few months, from geometrical shapes, to large statement necklaces and bold metal torques. All of these are ones I turn to frequently when relying on an outfit pick-me-up, and the best thing about these trends is it's so easy to find high street dupes for designs all over the runways. 

The pieces pictured above in this blog post are ones I purchased last week from none other than Accessorize. The rings reminded me of similar pieces from Monica Vinader and Gorjana, very classic and sophisticated but a little glitzy at the same time. I was instantly drawn to the hexagonal shapes and simple lines, which  when stacked together look pretty darn cool. What's more is that they're able to go with so many different shades of nail varnish - I've teamed them with a lavender grey for an everyday, but these rings would look totally party ready with a scarlet red! 

What are your favourite places to shop for jewellery?

Friday, 15 January 2016

My Top Three Makeup Brushes

I've seen a few of these sorts of posts floating around where the best of the beauty brushes are shared across the blogging world, so I thought I'd hop on the band wagon and share my top three makeup brushes in today's blog post. All of my choices are super affordable, and ones that I have been using for months - so there is no doubt that they are truly my favourites! Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Zoeva 102 Silk Finish Face Brush (£11.50) - you may have seen this featured in a couple of blog posts in the past. I bought the Zoeva Rose Golden Brush Set (£56.95) back in April (full review up on my blog here) and in short, I love the whole set. But, this one is my absolute favourite. It blends liquid foundation seamlessly with no streaks or brush lines. It's densely packed full of bristles and makes applying foundation a piece of cake in the mornings.

2. Real Techniques Multi Task Brush (£7.95) - this one I love using for blush. My one is looking a bit worse for wear now because I've been using it for over two years - but it's still going strong! It applies blusher evenly and is the perfect size, so I get just the right amount of product on the bristles and then on my cheeks.

3. Zoeva 227 Soft Definer Brush (£6.95) - for blending eye shadow, this one is a dream. It works just like the Mac 217 (£20), with long soft hairs to give a smooth transition between each shade (an essential when working with colours in your crease). I love using this brush with my Lorac Pro Palette ($42) to get a crease free, well blended look which lasts all day.

What are your essential makeup brushes?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

New Year Neutrals with Essie

New Year means new nails with a fresh spin on the classic neutrals - and I've found the perfect shades from Essie for the job. I love the taupe trend that has been floating around from last year, but I've found that mixing it up with some subtle mauves, rich pistachios and smoky greys adds a colourful twist for 2016. Essie has always been a brand I've always trusted when it comes to long wearing, chip free, pigment rich nail colours. They have so many different shades in their range but I've picked out five of my favourites that I've swatched for this blog post:

1. Sittin' Pretty - a vibrant neon lavender. This one is the brightest of the bunch but it still has an element of neutral when only using one coat for the softest purple nails. It looks lovely with a tan if you've been somewhere hot for Christmas! 

2. Turquoise and Cacois - a bright aqua green. When this shade first came out it was a very popular one. It's bright but not too bright, I find it a subtle aquatic green blue which looks fresh for the new year. Now, who said the 'January blues' were always bad?

3. Take it Outside - a glossy putty grey. I love grey. There is something so sophisticated about a classic glossy neutral, and nothing is as neutral as this one. This is definitely one I'll be wearing on my nails most of January.

4. Warm and Toasty Turtleneck - a soft deep mauve. A twist on the simple grey, this one is perfect for those of us still snuggling up in the turtle necks from Autumn/Winter 2015. It's more purpley, very glossy and super stylish for the new year. 

5. Parka Perfect - a shimmery ice blue grey. This one is beautiful for matching the wet weather on England. I think the best way to describe it is like a rainwater blue, very pretty, with a subtle shimmer running through the pigment for some extra shine.

Which colours will you be sporting on your nails this January?

Monday, 11 January 2016

The Perfect Plumping Lipgloss

I rarely opt for lipgloss when it comes to finishing off my makeup. I much prefer a balm, butter or a creamy lipstick. However, when I finally decided to venture back into the world of gloss via purchasing the Dior Lip Maximizer, I found the perfect plumping pout sat ready made in the tube. I suffer from extremely dry lips, so I needed something moisturizing and long wearing, that wasn't sticky (one of the reasons why I never really opted for lipgloss in the first place).

This lipgloss ticks all the boxes. Its super glossy and weightless - you literally don't even realize that it's on your lips at all! The only thing that gives it away is the slight tingly feeling it leaves on your lips to plump up your pout. I love that, but it might not be for some. The tingling sensation isn't as strong as something like the Buxom Lipglosses - it's gentler but still achieves a very similar effect. The formula itself contains a blend of hyaluronic and marine based fillers which keep your lips looking full all day long.

Price wise, one 6ml tube costs £23.50. It takes a long while to get through a tube so although it seems a small amount, it will last you a fair amount of time. As for the packaging - it's just gorgeous! The silver lid is embossed with the CD or Christian Dior and the gloss sits in a clear square tube. There is a doe foot applicator to apply the product evenly on your lips. 

So now I'm a convert - I will definitely be trying to find a similar product for a lesser price!

Have you tried the Dior Lip Maximizer?

Ambar x

Friday, 8 January 2016

Top Five Tips for Keeping Organised in 2016

With January being the month of new beginnings, getting organised is on the top of my priority list once more. Each year I love trying out new methods and techniques to balance my workload and personal life, and with blogging now in picture, proper organisation is a must! Here are my top five tips for staying on top of a busy lifestyle for 2016:

1. Prioritize your daily tasks. Having a list(s) of the things you have to do each day is one of the best tools you can have for staying organised. I would recommend breaking each task down into three categories in order of priority - so, List A has perhaps two-three tasks which have to be done at all costs, List B with things that should be done but not essential and List C with little tasks which would alleviate the workload for the following day. 

2. Keep an annual planner/agenda. I've kept an agenda every year for as long as I can remember. I like buying ones with a monthly overview in front so that I can see what I have coming up. My planner for 2016 is the Kate Spade Agenda in white with gold polka dots.

3. Use colour. A pack of coloured felt tips or fine liners can be your best friend when it comes to organisation and staying motivated. I love colour coding using post it notes and coloured binders as well. This is especially useful when dividing subjects and modules to separate them clearly.  

4. Keep a clean work space. Clean surroundings will keep a clear head, so you'll be much more productive in a tidy work space. This doesn't mean spending hours tidying up, but keeping the area in which you work clean enough to get on with your day will really boost your productivity.

5. Keep your overall goals in mind. This is essential not only for trying to get organised but also STAYING organised throughout the year! The lists which I mentioned earlier will help create a clearer picture of your daily targets on a visual level, but it is so important to have an idea of the bigger picture in your mind so you know what you're working towards. This helps keep you on track and motivated to continue your organisation all year long so you can achieve your goal.

What are your top tips for keeping organised for 2016?

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb

This fragrance has been on my wishlist for over two years now. I tried a sample, then a slightly bigger 30ml, and now I finally caved and bought the big 'un. Firstly, it's so pretty! I love the weight and feel of the bottle, the pink tint of the perfume makes it so sweet and feminine, much like the scent. I'm not really one for super sweet scents (I'm more of an Alien by Thierry Mugler sort of girl), but this one felt really special. It's very rich and the fragrance lingers on the skin for hours. I've purchased the EDP, so it does last all day. The top notes are Mandarin, Bergamont, Pink Pepper and Saffron. Heart notes are Roses, Jasmine Flowers and Olives (hence the name Flowerbomb). The base notes are Amber, Vanilla, Patchouli and Oud. Sounds fancy. No wonder I love it! It is pricey. £96 for the 100ml EDP, but you can find deals at different fragrance and department stores if you shop carefully.

Have you tried V&R Flowerbomb?

Monday, 4 January 2016

Cleansing with Charcoal

Charcoal masks have been around for a while now, with some of the most famous ones being the Origins Clear Improvement Facial Mask and the Michael Todd Charcoal Detoxifying Facial Mask. I haven't tried the latter, but my experience with the Origins version was very positive - it left my skin tingly fresh and it actually felt like the mask had done something even after just one use. However, both of these are quite pricey options, not to mention masks take time and can't be done everyday when you have a hectic schedule. So... this is where the world of charcoal cleansers comes in - daily washes that can be used to help deep clean your skin without the need to leave it on for a long time in order to work. This is where I introduce the Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser

Priced at only £4.99, this cleanser is a must have for anyone who likes a deep clean for their pores on a regular basis. It claims to draw out and trap two times the amount of dirt that a regular cleanser would, and honestly, after trying it, I have to believe that. My pores feel wonderfully tight and very clean after every use, and once I have followed up with a good moisturiser, my skin looks healthy and fresh. It being a cleanser means that you can use it on everyday (in fact, they actually recommend this) and overtime, I have found a huge improvement in the texture of the skin on my face. 

If you're not a fan of the tingly sensation that you get with a charcoal cleanse, then this isn't for you. But for me, this is perfect - it definitely hits the 'favourite cleansers of all time' list!


Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy 2016!

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fantastic New Years Eve and are not too tired this morning... I'm sure most of us are or have been thinking about the kinds of resolutions we'd like to keep this year and I'm no different. I know some are firmly against creating new years resolutions but I honestly think that they do help steer people in a positive direction, encouraging them to make their lives the best it can possibly be. As it's such a popular topic of discussion in January, I thought that it would be a good idea to dedicate some blog posts to looking at goal setting and positivity so that we can all start the new year with a bang!

First off, in this particular post, I want to share the resolutions that I have set myself for the new year. They are all personal goals, but range from different aspects in my life, whether its university, my blog or well being. I hope that by writing them down, I'm more inclined to stick to them so that I can review them at the end of this year! Here they are:

1. To stay on top of my degree workload.
Procrastination is the devil. Doing an English degree means lots of reading which can be very difficult to keep up with as texts change every week! I've set this resolution with the idea of reading ahead so that I'm not stuck and panicking the night before (an experience which I'm only too familiar with at the moment!)

2. To read more.
You'd think that by studying for an English degree, that I'd do a lot of reading. This is true to some extent, but I actually don't get much time to read for myself! I really do want to use this year in order to get back into leisure reading - I actually can't remember the last time I read for pleasure, so this is a resolution well needed at this point.

3. To post on my blog at least three times a week.
At the moment, my blogging schedule is Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which is a pattern I have fallen into and enjoy. I'm going to try and keep it that way, and maybe throw in a challenge where I blog every day for a month during the summer (but that's thinking very far ahead!)

4. To take care of my body.
This is of course the cliche 'eat clean and exercise' resolution, but I feel that by wording it 'taking care of myself' is better. It makes it an incentive, something that I really want to do and by eating natural foods and getting in regular workouts, I will certainly be doing that. There are lots of new foods that I'm desperate to try as well - so a mini resolution would be to try new cuisine and find new dishes that I enjoy!

5. To take each day as it comes.
I'm very bad when it comes to stress. I can stress about things that haven't even happened yet very easily - so it made sense to set this goal - so I can focus on twenty four hours at a time and relax. Planning is also part of this resolution. I want to plan each day and stick to it, and that should help with the stress enormously!

What are your New Year's resolutions?
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