Sunday, 29 November 2015

November Favourites

November is over, 2015 is almost over and I'm almost 26. Scary. On a completely different note I have some of my November favourites for you to look over while I cry into my pillows over my impending old age. First up is Urban Decay's Vice release from last year, the Vice 3. I reach for this palette almost daily, the neutral shades are perfect and the more out there shades complement the palette so well. The mirror is also a decent size so I can do my make up in bed if it's too cold to get up in the morning. 

I haven't tried much from The Balm but I use what I have tried all the time, especially Bahama Mama which I've just hit pan on. I use this to add some colour to my cheeks and contouring when I can be bothered as it's so matte. The Balm Desert is the product I want to try next which is bronzer/blush. To keep my make up from slipping I use Smashbox Photo Finish primer. I had gone through a number of samples before I bought the full size version and I'm almost out of that now too. It is such a fab primer and worth the price tag! 

The lipstick that hasn't left my side this month is Sin by Mac Cosmetics. It's dark, sultry and as matte as can be. I wouldn't be without it. Applied alongside Nightmoth lip liner, it's my ultimate Autumn lip shade. Lastly is Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez. I have worn a mixture of scents the majority of my life, namely Marc Jacobs, Christian Dior and Thierry Mugler but after receiving Narciso in a gift set I fell in love. I've finally found my signature scent and I genuinely don't think I'll wear another fragrance again. Narciso has won me over big time. 

What have been your favourites this month?


Saturday, 28 November 2015

November Empties

  • Garnier Micellar water
  • Glo & Ray Illuminating Powder 
  • Smashbox Photo finish
  • Espa Optimal Skin Pro moisturise
  • Benefit Triple performance facial emulsion  
  • Bee Good Cream cleanser 
  • Seventeen BB Balm 
  • Seventeen FalsieEye mascara
  • Maxfactor false lash effect 
  • Maxfactor Masterpiece Max mascara 


Friday, 27 November 2015

Festive Ready with Cloud 9

Christmas party season is right around the corner and with that comes everything we need to make ourselves party ready. From the sparkly dress to the festive make up and big hair, it's the season the majority of us go all out. With my dress already hung in the wardrobe, heels ready and my Chanel red waiting to be used, all that leaves is what to do with my hair. I'm straight up boring when it comes to my mane. I wear my hair down all the time, I'm really unadventurous and hate wearing it up so a good pair of straighteners are my best friend. I've never bought into the hype that is GHD, I've used a trusty pair of £20 Nicky Clarkes for years but after seeing Cloud 9 in action at the Blogger's Festival I kinda fell in love... big time.

For the past month I've been teasing my tresses straight with the Cloud 9 Wide Iron Straighteners* from their Emilio de la Morena Christmas gift set. I have super thick hair so these are the perfect pair of hair tools for me as they control and style the thickest of hair which makes me one very happy blogger. Between the irons is the on/off switch which just slides up and down. I'm forever thinking I've left mine on when I leave the house so to hear a satisfying click each time I turn them off is really reassuring. If you've ever had that panic when you're nowhere near your house then you'll know exactly what I mean. 

The straighteners heat up in seconds, faster than any pair I've ever owned. The heat is controlled between the irons and flashes until the acquired temperature is reached. The maximum temperature can be reached in just 20 seconds and it takes barely any time at all to style my hair. I use them on 150c and get better results at that temperature than I ever have with my Nicky Clarkes on high. They glide through my hair leaving it perfectly straight without damaging or drying out my hair. They're also really light to use which is a deal breaker for me because I get serious arm ache while styling my hair so something lighter than a cloud (geddit?!) ticks all my boxes.

These hair saviours come in a heat resistant bag designed by Emilio de la Morena which makes them super luxe and perfect for Christmas. I'd be very happy if I found these under the Christmas tree. All Cloud 9 straighteners are available via the website, with this particular pair being priced at £135 with free UK delivery. 

Have you ever used Cloud 9 before? 

*PR Sample

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Jewellery Box Black Friday Mega Sale

My go to place for reasonably priced jewellery is Jewellery Box and it has been for the best part of this year. I picked up some bits a few months ago which you can see in my Silver Siren Jewellery Box Haul post. This Black Friday, Jewellery Box are going all out with incredible discounts on six of their favourite items. I was sent what would be on offer which you can see in the photos above so I could let you know what you'd be able to get your hands on for just £1 each. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Black Friday Essentials

It's almost the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday*. The day that every retail assistant dreads and every shopper gets ready for. This Friday, have your bank card at the ready because some of the best sales will be up for grabs. In honour of this day I've come up with some black items that you need to make sure you have in your online shopping basket. These aren't just any items though, these are items for you and you alone because we all need a treat every now and then right?! 

The LBD - 
Everyone needs that one little black dress that makes them feel incredible, the one dress that you can throw on and instantly feel on top of the world. Clothes shops have cottoned on to this day and in preparation for the festive season, the majority of your favourite shops will have a killer sale on. Pay close attention  to H&M, House of Fraser, Arcadia stores and Asos to pick up that perfect LBD.

Black Heels - 
Black heels are a necessity, every wardrobe should have a pair and Black Friday is THE day to hunt down your perfect pair. I have three pairs of classic black heels ranging from a midi heel to a chunky block heel. The go to shops for picking up a new pair in time for new year's eve have to be Debenhams, John Lewis, Office and Asos. Give your feet a treat!

Black Nail Varnish - 
Gone are the days of stubby, chipped nails coated in peelable black nail varnish. Black nail varnish has had a 'sleek' over in recent years with it looking more luxe and sophisticated than ever before. I'm a huge fan of black nails with Barry M original or Gelly Shine in Blackberry being two of my faves. 

Black Clutch - 
Another staple for the ultimate Festive party look is something to hold your valuables in for a night out, think phone, lipstick, mirror etc; As I wear a lot of black I tend to buy quite colourful clutch bags for nights out but I do have two, to really up the sophisticated black get up. Number one being a classic patent Ted Baker clutch and secondly, a Whistles Stingray clutch. You can't really go wrong with Whistles can you? 

Black Russian -
Black Russian, you say? Why cocktails of course and in keeping with the theme I had to choose one of my favourite drinks. Five parts vodka, two parts coffee liqueur. Try it before you judge, you'll thank me later. Something to accompany all that online shopping afterall ;).

What are your essential black items? What have you got your eye on to pick up in the sales this Friday?

*Black box was gifted

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Vintage Cosmetics Company Brushes

If there is anything I love more than make up, it's the brushes that help me apply it. I'm usually a Real Techniques and Nanshy girl but when this floral pack arrived, I pushed my usual favourites to the back and put The Vintage Cosmetics Company Essential Face* brush set in prime grabbing position. This nifty little set comes with the three main brushes you need for the perfect base; Foundation, powder and blush. This would also be the perfect starter set for someone branching out to brushes. The Essential Face set is cruelty free and each brush has a wooden handle, plus an aluminium ferrule which makes them easy to wash with extremely minimal shedding. My set has had three deep cleans so far and I haven't lost a single bristle, time will tell but they're fab quality. 

The flat based foundation brush is light to hold and makes applying foundation effortless. I usually struggle with flat foundation brushes as I always seem to get lines but I don't have this problem with the foundation brush. The powder brush is very similar to a few of the stippling brushes I already own which makes this the perfect multi use brush. Mineral make up, powder, loose powder and blushes can all be applied with this with ease. The bristles are so soft and when buffed in, it helps leave the skin looking natural with no cakeyness. Lastly is the blusher brush, smaller yet perfectly rounded to give a flush of colour to the apples of your cheeks. 

This is my first step into The Vintage Cosmetics Company and as I already have the Smokey Eye make up brushes on my wishlist, it won't be my last. The packaging and whole feel of the products is very now and with over sixty products available, from brushes and lashes to make up bags and beauty tools, I can definitely feel a haul coming on. The Vintage Cosmetics Company is available online, Boots and very occasionally in TK Maxx.

Have you tried The Vintage Cosmetics Company before? What is your favourite product?

*PR Sample

Monday, 23 November 2015

Seventeen All Out Pout // Woo Me

Seventeen make up is a regular occurrence on Annie Writes Beauty and as they keep bringing out new releases, I feel like I have to tell you about them. The All Out Pout lip palettes hit the shops mid way through October alongside their Easy on the Eye eye shadow palettes and Let's Face It face palettes. I hold my hands up and admit I am not a fan of lip palettes and personally don't feel they're necessary past the age of twelve. I lug enough forgotten lipsticks around in my bag without having to add a lip palette to the equation. 

All Out Pout comes in two shades, Woo Me and Fancy Free. Woo Me* contains six shades in a rich satin and gloss finish. With warm nudes, oranges and reds, it's my favourite of the two available. I'd really advise making sure your lips are in tip top condition before using this and also use something like Lipcote as the staying power isn't great at all, food and drink will cause the lip colour to wipe away completely. In the swatches the shades look incredible, they transfer to the lip as intense as the swatches, I just wish they lasted because I'd almost be converted to using this. 

If you're looking for lip colours then I would bypass this completely and head straight to their lipstick range Stay Pout. The shades are better, they last much longer and for £4.49, they're a bargain too. 

Have you bought All Out Pout? What did you think?
*PR Sample

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Things that bug me about Blogging

Hope you're ready for a long post. Take it light heartedly like it's intended to be ;)

Follow 4 Follow
Stop it. Stop it now. The biggest way to get a whole load of people NOT to follow you is tweeting or hashtagging F4F. On Twitter, Instagram and even Facebook, I see it all the time. More often than not I think "What a dick" and swiftly move on, remembering your handle for future. 

I use Crowdfire and I don't see anything wrong with doing so, mainly to see those people who follow, unfollow then follow again. Trust me, download it and you'll soon cotton on to repeat offenders. My problem with Crowdfire are the messages people set up that automatically direct message you with every, single social media platform they're using. Guess what the first thing is I do? I unfollow you. 

Free Shit
Oh you know the kind, the people that think they can start a blog just for the free shit, the kind that think zero effort goes into a post and consequently screw it up for the rest of us by their stinking attitude. Since running events in Southampton and attending blog events run by other bloggers I've learnt to spot these bitches a mile off. They are so freaking obvious. Listen up desperate people, life isn't free, you have to work for what you want. Something thousands of other bloggers are doing and have been doing for years to build up trust with companies for the opportunities to even exist. I hope you enjoy your free dog biscuits from Canine for the dog you don't even own because ya know, it was free...

Copying Ideas
Unfortunately when putting something out on the world wide web, things are going to get copied. Copying and pasting entire blog posts and passing them off as your own are 100% not on BUT when it comes to certain ideas sometimes, just sometimes someone probably got there before you. Classic examples being, monthly favourites and empties, what's in your bag, interviewing series', the list is endless. But recently I've seen people publicly calling others out on a non original idea and that's not on, stew quietly. Just because say, you started an interviewing series and then someone else did that doesn't mean you can then get shitty with them, grow up. How do you know that that post hadn't been scheduled long before yours? Exactly. Shh. I started The Netflix Tag earlier this year (or at least I think I did) and that was copied as "I've started The Netflix Tag", did I throw my make up out of the blogging pram? No. Why? Because I'm an adult. 

Blogging Events
As I said above I run events in Southampton for bloggers to attend for free. We have companies attend, hold drink offers and give everyone who attends pretty awesome goody bags all for nothing. One thing I have come to learn over the last year from doing these events are that some people are damn rude. At our very first event last year we invited twenty or so bloggers to network and mingle, after handing out the goody bags two left without even a goodbye or a thank you. RUDE. 
The last two events have gone much better, (at least everyone says bye now) but you still get the same people that come not to meet other bloggers and network but again just for the free shit. Amy & I work our arses for these events, we get fab companies onboard and we LOVE doing it but they definitely open your eyes to certain bloggers. Certain bloggers that seem to have a reputation not only at our own events but others as well. If you want to read just how much it bugs me click here - Blogging Events & The Free Stuff.

Blogging Misconceptions
Time and time again it is brought up in blogging chats on Twitter about blogging misconceptions. We now live in a very social media focused world where you only see the good things and why the hell not? I'm not about to start Instagramming what I look like after a night out, I'd rather IG a photo of a pretty book, a magazine and a cute cup and title it "Sunday lazy day" instead of "Drank too much rum and I now look like roadkill". I genuinely cannot believe that people moan about this on Twitter. If you want to Instagram yourself with chocolate down your pyjamas while picking your toenails go ahead but if someone else wants to share a picture, perfect photo, keep your opinions to yourself and stop being a very public bitch on Twitter. 

Twitter Chats
There's a difference between a healthy debate and being a dick. There's also a difference between having an opinion while respecting others and being an ignorant shit. Don't be that dick or that ignorant shit because you'll get a reputation and everyone will remember your handle for the wrong reasons. Respect others. What goes out publicly on Twitter stays public even after you've deleted it. 

Anxiety is Cool
I've suffered with Anxiety for quite some time now, I deal with it my way and keep that fact to myself because that's how I want it to be. I've only ever tweeted about it once and this is the first time I've ever mentioned it on my blog but I get so sick of people using it as a fashion accessory in the blogging world. The awareness that it's brought is fantastic but this attitude of "Oh I blog therefore I must have anxiety too" is bullshit. And if you're that person who is making up that you have anxiety to fit in or that you think that it's cool, stop it. You're making a complete joke of people you actually suffer from it. 


Friday, 20 November 2015

Birchbox X Skinny Dip London

I think this is the one box everyone has been waiting on since the promo for the collaboration started and one I was quite interested in to receive, until I received it. Birchbox X Skinny Dip should of been the WOW box that got everyone talking, the one with the incredible samples and beautiful boxes. Don't get me wrong, the boxes are beautiful but that is probably the best bit about this entire collaboration. Can you tell I'm not an iPhone owner? 

I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting. I'd heard that there would be the choice to upgrade for the phone case in the November Birchbox*, which my sister has very happily taken off my hands which is all well and good if you own an iPhone but other than that nothing else in this month's box  screams Skinny Dip. The samples inside are some what disappointing other than the Ren product. How many more hair repair creams, perfume samples and hand creams do you need a month? The only thing that softens the disappointment of a rubbish box is the £10 voucher... well the £10 off you get via Skinny Dip's website IF you spend £24 or more.

There is a competition you can enter to win a fabulous bundle of Skinny Dip prizes which would probably make up for this month's box, I know it would put a HUGE smile on my face. All you have to do is upload a pic of your Birchbox X Skinny Dip box to Instagram, tag @BirchboxUK and your squad aka your best friends while using the hashtag #BirchboxUK.

What did you think of this month's box? Were you as disappointed as me?

*PR Sample

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Stationary Haul

I could spend hours browsing in stationary stores for new pens and notebooks, there is just something about writing on a crisp, new page so after collecting a few more notebooks in recent weeks I thought it was time for a stationary haul. I'm terrible for buying notebook after notebook and never using them because I don't want to ruin the pages which completely defeats their reasoning. The I'm Over It notebook I bought from The Hambledon in Winchester is prime example. Each section is colour coded and the sections each start with a different quote. It's cool, quirky and the perfect place to vent. Inspired by Lauren Hom's blog turned book Daily Dishonesty, it would make a fab stocking filler for stationary fans. 

My most recent finds are the Kate Spade pearl notebook* and gold pen set* from Amara. Everyone needs a little luxury and the metallic gold pens give just that, plus if anyone steals one you know they're yours straight away. My current blog notebook is down to its last few pages so in its place will be the soft pink, pearl ring notebook. I'm hoping to pick up the Chic Happens journel next, ya know 'cos I need more and there is such a great selection on the Amara website. I could easily spend a small fortune. 

My lovely friend Jess bought the white and gold journals for me from Home Bargains a few weeks back as they were so me, plus pretty instagrammable. The lined jotter has come in handy for work and the little, spotty flip pad has found pride of place in my handbag. Friends whom buy you stationary are friends for life, always. Lastly is my whale notebook from Homesense. I bought this with the gift cards each blogger was given on their preview night. It's a hardback, line notebook with the one quote I need to remember to do more of, 'Go with the flow'. I haven't found a use for it yet but I had to buy it for the cute front alone. Homesense and TK Maxx are the best place to find adorable and cheap stationary! 

What have you been picking up lately?

*PR Samples

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My Base Duo with Too Faced

Colder months call for a make up base switch up so I've done just that with a brand I've never tried before, Too Faced Cosmetics. I have read countless rave reviews on their Born This Way foundation and I needed something that would give me good coverage while still leaving a slight dewy glow. Born This Way is an oil free foundation that aims to leave skin naturally radiant. It contains Coconut water to replenish moisture, Alpine Rose to brighten skin and Hyaluronic Acid for a smooth, youthful appearance. All sounds too good to be true right?!

Thankfully the above isn't just clever selling tactics. This frosted, glass bottle of  lightweight, dewy goodness really does make my skin look and feel better. One pump is more than enough to cover my entire face using my Nanshy stippling brush, never have I used a foundation where I only needed one pump for a medium coverage. I can get quite dry at the sides of my face as the weather changes and I haven't noticed it as much while using Born This Way, I'm just left looking healthy and glowy.

I picked up Amazing Face by Too Faced in TK Maxx a few weeks ago, a sun-balancing flexible, foundation powder. I'd just recently used up all of my powders I had laying around and as I was able to find a light enough shade for a bargain £6.99, I had to buy it. This is quite heavy duty if I over do it, so I use a powder brush and just dust my t-zone to set my foundation. Gone are the days I want my make up to be matte and powdery as possible. The dewiness of Born This Way works so well with Amazing Face that it's going to be my fail safe duo this Autumn. 

Have you switched up your base for Autumn? What are your perfect base products?


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Seventeen Easy on the Eye // Birthday Suit

I'm a firm believer of never having enough neutral eye palettes so I was more than happy with Seventeen's latest release, Easy on the Eye in Birthday Suit*. The Easy on the Eye palettes are a collection of eight matte, pearl and shimmer powder shadows, three metallic creams and an eye primer, plus a handy 'get the look' guide so you can achieve the perfect neutral eye. The palette also comes with a double ended brush which is actually pretty good. I was so glad that there wasn't a double ended sponge applicator in this. Now if every other make up company on the high street could follow suit that would be fab.

Birthday Suit comes in a matte black snap clasp palette which is wipe clean, slim and really easy to store. All the shade names are listed on the back which I like, I'm not a fan of shades just being labelled as one, two, three and so on. The palette isn't overly pretty but because the shadows inside are such fab quality, I don't care too much about the look of the palette. 

The shimmer and pearl shadows are the main talking point in this palette. They're super soft, highly pigmented and blend so easily. They also last all day with and without the primer. Baked Chestnut, Toasted Almond and Warm Mink are probably my three favourite shades out of the whole palette. The contrast of each shade blended together give the perfect smoky, neutral eye and I've been wearing it practically everyday. The matte shadows aren't my favourite and probably the only thing about Birthday Suit that is disappointing. There is just nothing to Warm Ivory and Cool Rose, they look great in the pan but not on the skin. I don't tend to use metallic creams as I don't get on with them very well but to have them in this handy little palette is great as it gives me a chance to have a play around with shades.

Even though I'm only really using half of what is on offer in this palette, I still love it. It sounds ridiculous as I have so many neutral eye palettes but Birthday Suit brings something a little different to the table because it has a bit of everything. There is also a smoky equivalent available called The Big Smoke which brings you a beautiful set of blues, greys and purples. The Easy on the Eye palettes are both £7.99 and available from Boots. You can buy both and still have change from £20, fab make up deal if you ask me! 

Have you tried either of the Easy on the Eye palettes? Would you prefer Neutral or Smoky? 

*PR Sample


Monday, 16 November 2015

Clarins Christmas Event

Clarins recently held their annual Christmas event in John Lewis, West Quay and I was invited along with some of the girls to drink some prosecco, eat mince pies and try out some of their products. The event was held in the restaurant of John Lewis on the very top level and was laid out with mini spa stations with Clarins staff on hand to help you with any questions you had.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Building your Pinterest

I don't claim to be a pro with Pinterest, I have a small following compared to others and this is certainly not a post to tell you how you should be doing it because we all hate patronising tips posts don't we? This post is purely on what has helped me grow my own account over the last few months, not massively but enough to notice a difference and increase in traffic and people pinning and liking my pins. I know when I first started using Pinterest I was clueless so I hope this helps one of you. 

Install Business for Pinterest -
I didn't know this existed until Pinterest emailed me after I started making more effort with my own account with a suggestion to upgrade to a business account. This has been the best way to keep track of my account and analytics . I probably look at my stats once a month if I remember as I do most of my pinning on the app, not the website. It shows analytics from your profile, audience and activity to and from my blog as well as impressions, repins and rich pins. Super handy and very interesting. 

Rich Pins - 
Rich pins are pins that include extra information on the actual pin. There are six types, app, movie, recipe, article, product and place. Article pins are what us bloggers should be paying attention to as they can include information on the article, links and enable people to save them. It's done with meta tags which can be implemented on  your website which you can then apply to get them on Pinterest. 

Keep your boards clean - 
Most people are drawn to clean, crisp photos, so why should your boards be any different? Tidy up your boards, name them with something eye catching and change your cover photos to something that would catch your own attention and everyone else's. You can also rearrange your boards and move your most relevant to the top of your profile. On the Analytics page under your profile it will show you, your top five boards then just go from there. Mine are currently Christmas Joy, Hair Inspo, Hedgehogs, Slimming World and Home Inspo.

Take some time pinning - 
Consistency is key with Pinterest to grow your account. I try and pin five - ten pins daily so I'm always active, it's not hard as I can spend hours on Pinterest plus it shows your followers you're still there. If I don't pin for a few days I really notice less interaction by other pinners. By pinning regularly, my followers have steadily increased and my average monthly views are up 50.75%. Try not to bulk pin hundreds at a time as Pinterest sometimes sees this as spam, just keep that in mind. 

Pin your blog photos -
This is something I've been trying to do a bit more of to see if it makes a difference in my blog traffic. I have a widget installed so I can pin my blog photos directly to Pinterest with the blog link as it makes it a little easier. You can also pin your posts from Bloglovin if you wanted to increase your traffic to there as well. In Business for Pinterest you can track your traffic to and from you blog to see what's popular and what's not, this is where rich pins come in too. I also have a separate board where I pin all of my blog posts so they're all in one place. 

Enjoy it -
Pinterest is a photo app and one you should enjoy using, don't just feel like you have to use it to benefit your blog. We don't need to use every social media platform going. I used it for a long time before I started using it to promote my blog, it's perfect for finding recipes, hacks, beauty advice and so much more. So pin, like and enjoy! 

If you have any Pinterest tips please comment below, you can also find my pinterest here.

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