July Favourites

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I'm sitting down to write my July favourites with a blanket tucked over my knees and the rain pounding down outside my window - I keep reminding myself that there's still a month of summer left, even though it doesn't really feel that way right now! I've picked out my usual top five items of the month, though you could be forgiven for thinking there's only three. What can I say - when I find something I like, I tend to roll with it!


1&2. Backless loafers from River Island and TK Maxx* - I talked about the plain pair of blush pink loafers in my TK Maxx post and have been loving pairing them with jeans and pretty tops this month. I definitely didn't need another pair, but I've been lusting after the embroidered kind for a while now (damn you Instagram!) and just couldn't resist when I saw these beauties in River Island the other day. To my surprise I've actually been getting loads of wear out of both pairs - it turns out that you can't have too many pink loafers. Who knew?!
 

3. Mark Hill MiracOILous Nourishing Heat Protection - The name of this product doesn't exactly trip off the tongue, but it's such a lovely heat protectant. Not only does it protect hair against heated appliances up to 220 degrees celsius, it's also infused with Moroccan Argan Oil to help condition and nourish every time you style your hair. I use both a hairdryer and straighteners on a regular basis so this is a life changing product for me - my hair definitely feels softer since using it. It's also a lovely lightweight spray with no grease to it whatsoever, so I can spritz it quite liberally without worrying about it weighing down my fine hair. Top marks for this one.

 

4&5. Rosie For Autograph Cream Eyeshadow Sticks in Almond Eyes and Movie Star Crush - These are my first ever eyeshadow sticks and they definitely won't be my last. I love how quick and easy they are to swipe on and these in particular have a beautiful creamy formula and shimmery finish. Almond Eyes is the pale gold colour and Movie Star Crush a beautiful mauve. Both are very wearable for day to day. There are two other colours in the range, one a deep copper and the other a cooler toned silvery shade. All four are equally beautiful and I am really tempted to buy the other two, although at £12.50 each I am holding out a little longer!

What's your favourite item from my list, and what have you been loving throughout July?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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Balance Active Formula Skincare Review

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Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 1

We all know it's the ingredients that count when it comes to skincare, yet at the same time, the feeling that "you get what you pay for" can be hard to shake off. As much as I enjoy a bargain, there's a point at which I start to wonder if something is too cheap to be any good. And that's before I take into account my weakness for beautiful (and expensive looking) packaging. So when I was asked if I would like to review some skincare products from budget brand Balance Active Formula, I hesitated. With many of their products on offer in discount stores like B&M and Savers for under £5, I must confess it's a brand I probably wouldn't have looked at if I hadn't been asked. But there was something in their ethos that I liked - their dedication to offering skincare formulated from the highest quality ingredients at an affordable price point. In order to do this, they spend less on advertising and packaging. And having won several national Beauty Awards, it's clear that there are plenty of people out there who like what they are doing. The whole concept intrigued me, and I was curious to see whether or not this very reasonably priced skincare would work as well as the more expensive brands I normally use.

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 2

I was sent three products: the Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum, the Hyaluronic Moisturiser and the Vitamin C Power Serum. As soon as I received them, I could immediately see that Balance Active Formula mean what they say about saving money on packaging. It's definitely not the most beautiful, nor does it feel expensive. On the other hand, it has its good points. It's very lightweight, making it perfect for travel, and it's practical too. The serums have handy dropper applicators while the moisturiser comes in a tube, which I know a lot of people prefer to jars as they're quicker to use and more hygienic. So although I might not necessarily want to display these on my dressing table, they get top marks when it comes to practicality of use, which, let's face it, is more important really!

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 3 - Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum  Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 4 - Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum

Hyaluronic 554 Youth Serum

This serum can be used morning and night before moisturiser. It contains active levels of Hylasome EG10, an aqueous gel of cross linked Hyaluronic Acid which offers longer lasting moisturisation as well as higher levels of water binding and antioxidant capacity than regular Hyaluronic Acid. It also contains Syn-Ake, a peptide that mimics the muscle freezing abilities of snake venom, which helps to smooth wrinkles and blur fine lines. All three of the products I received are completely fragrance free, and the Youth Serum, while having a nourishing feel to it, absorbs quickly, leaving no greasy residue on the skin. I have been using it both day and evening and can definitely see the plumping, smoothing effect on my complexion. It blurs fine lines as well as any other Hyaluronic Acid based product I have used - which is to say, they are still there, but the appearance is reduced. I can also feel a tautness to my skin after using this, which I guess must be the effects of the Syn-Ake. All in all it's an impressively effective serum, and combined with the moisturiser from the same range, forms a great base for makeup in the mornings.

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 5 - Hyaluronic Moisturiser

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 6 - Hyaluronic Moisturiser

Hyaluronic Moisturiser

Containing the same Hylasome EG10 as the Youth Serum, the Hyaluronic Moisturiser is its perfect partner. In addition to locking in moisture and adding to the plumping effects of the serum, this product also contains Algisium C2 which helps to even out skin tone and texture. It's very lightweight, sinking into the skin completely after just a minute or so, and together with the serum it's perfect as a morning product to prep skin for makeup application and the day ahead. Although the moisturiser can be used in the evenings too, I personally prefer to use a richer night cream after the serum at that time of day.

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 7 - Vitamin C Power Serum

Balance Active Formula Skincare Review - 8 - Vitamin C Power Serum

Vitamin C Power Serum

Containing stabilised Vitamin C, Zinc PCA and Oleuropein (the olive tree's most powerful plant active), this serum is deisgned to brighten the complexion, fade age spots, protect against free radicals and boost collagen production. Like the other two products, the formula is very lightweight, in fact, this is probably the lightest of the three. One word of caution though - be careful with it if you have dry and/or sensitive skin. Mine is slightly sensitive, and can be dry outside of my T-zone, and I found that it became irritated after using this serum every day for a while. I scaled back to every other day, and it was fine after that, but it's just something worth bearing in mind. As far as the results go, it definitely brightens and smooths my skin, and having researched it a little bit, it seems that a lot of people have found it helpful in reducing hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. I don't have any, so can't really comment on that, but I can certainly attest to the brightening effects.

I've tried a lot of skincare brands, especially since I started my blog, and this one is certainly the cheapest of the lot. Yet it holds its own against many pricier ranges, with all three products producing real results on my skin. Balance Active Formula is well worth checking out, whether you are on a budget or just fancy forking out a little less for skincare. If you're interested you can check it out at Fragrance Direct.

Have you tried anything from Balance Active Formula? And how do you feel about super affordable skincare in general?

Kate x

*This post was sponsored by Balance Active Formula. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx

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Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 1

As much as I'm enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having lately, we all know that summers in the UK tend to be pretty short-lived. As a result, I find that I don't spend as much on summer clothes as I do on winter wear, and often, I'll pull out the same dresses and tops year after year. But even if the clothes are still good, a girl likes to change things up a little every now and again, wouldn't you agree? I certainly do, and I always find that the easiest way to update an outfit is by throwing some shiny new accessories into the mix.

When it comes to shopping for accessories, nothing makes me happier than finding a great quality piece at a steal of a price, which is why TK Maxx is the ideal place to look, both in-store and online. They have such a vast selection of designer shoes, bags and jewellery that you're sure to find something you like, and with up to 60% off the recommended retail price, well, you'd be crazy not to give it a try, no?!

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Now I'm the first to acknowledge that not everybody "gets" TK Maxx. I didn't get it myself for years. Their stores don't necessarily have the polish that other stores have - if you're looking for minimalistic, colour coordinated displays, you're going to be disappointed - but if you're prepared to embrace the treasure hunt experience, there are some real gems waiting to be uncovered. The presentation might not be the prettiest, but there are some genuinely good deals to be had if you just look a little closer. In fact, scratch that. There are some amazing deals to be had, and one thing I've discovered is that the more you look, the more you find.

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 3

Still feeling sceptical? Well, as part of their #RidiculousPossibilities campaign, TK Maxx challenged me to update a couple of my summer looks by selecting my five top accessories picks. And with the total price of all five coming in at £100 on the nose, I think it's fair to say that I've managed to do that without breaking the bank. That's got to be worth bragging about, right?! Well, call it bragging or call it sharing, I'm going to tell you what I got!

Look 1 - The Jeans And Blouse Combo 

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 4 
My daily uniform throughout most of the British summer consists of skinny jeans and some sort of pretty blouse or top. From working at home to running errands to popping out for lunch or a coffee, this is the look that sees me through pretty much all of it. And truth be told, it can get a bit "samey" after a while, but I've definitely been able to inject a little bit of interest with a couple of pretty new accessories from TK Maxx.

Accessory pick 1 - Backless Loafers - Super on-trend, super comfortable and made from the softest blush pink suede, the quality of these backless loafers is amazing and I can totally see why the recommended retail price is £95. TK Maxx's price? £24.99. It's hard to beat the feeling of glee you get when you land yourself a saving like that! Plus, I love the way the pink adds a little "something something" to my standard blue jeans and white top. Possibly my favourite accessory of the five, I can see these getting plenty of wear throughout the summer.

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 5

Accessory pick 2 -  Stud Earrings - Delicate jewellery always makes the perfect finishing touch to an outfit, and these cute little stud earrings are perfect. I love the mix of silver and gold tones and the fact that they're slightly bigger than my usual everyday earrings. I also love the unusual shape, as you can vary which way up you wear them. These were an absolute steal at £14.99 - they look and feel a lot more expensive than that.

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Look 2 - The Summer Day Dress 

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When things get a little bit warmer, you just can't beat a pretty, summery day dress. This one was bought recently, but the classic cut and timeless broderie anglaise fabric mean I'll be able to wear it for many summers to come. By changing up my accessories, I'll also be able to keep it looking fresh and up to date.

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 8

Accessory pick 3 - Espadrilles - Speaking of up to date, espadrilles are incredibly popular right now, and this dainty neutral pair from TK Maxx cost just under £30. They look great with jeans and shorts as well as dresses and have an effortless vibe about them while still being feminine and pretty. They're super comfortable too.

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 9

Accessory pick 4 - Basket Bag - I've spotted so many bags like this on my Instagram feed lately. I love everything about this one - the pom pom detailing, the rustic wicker look and the fact that it's large enough for everything but the kitchen sink, which makes it perfect to use as a beach or picnic bag. It cost just £19.99 which is a real snatch, especially considering the detail on it and the fact that it's handmade. I also think it compliments my white dress perfectly and brings it right into 2017!

Accessory pick 5 - Pendant Necklace - To complete my second look, I went for this dainty hamsa hand necklace on a delicate gold chain. Just like the earrings, it feels reassuringly solid and the quality definitely belies the £9.99 price tag. I just don't think you can have too many dainty necklaces, and I love the way this one looks peeping out from the collar of the dress.

Spruce Up Your Summer Outfits With TK Maxx - 10

Are you a TK Maxx shopper? And do you have any plans to upgrade existing outfits with some of their amazing accessories this summer? If you do, make sure you come back and brag about it! It's all part of the fun, and I'd love to see what bargains you manage to get your hands on!

Kate x

*This post was sponsored by TK Maxx. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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Klairs Mid-Day Blue Sun Lotion Review

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Klairs Mid-Day Blue Sun Lotion Review - 1

I haven't tried that many Asian beauty products yet, but I have really loved all those that have made it into my collection so far, and this sun lotion from Korean brand Klairs is definitely no exception.

Klairs creates products that promise to be gentle on the skin and free from colourants, alcohol, parabens and artificial fragrances, as well as cruelty free and vegan friendly. Prettily packaged in an adorable baby blue tube, this Mid-Day Blue Sun Lotion* is definitely gentle on skin, but it's also seriously tough when it comes to fending off everything the sun likes to do to our faces on a hot day!

Klairs Mid-Day Blue Sun Lotion Review - 2

For a start, it's a moisturising sun screen which offers SPF 40 protection against UVA and UVB rays, but in addition to this, it also shields skin from the sun's infrared light. This is where the heat comes from, as opposed to the light from UV. Apparently, exposure to heat is a factor in skin ageing, just like exposure to UV. I have to admit, this isn't something I was aware of before, so it was a bit of an eye-opener to find it out! Not only does Klairs Sun Lotion feel cooling and soothing when applied, it's also proven to keep your skin at a slightly lower temperature than it would otherwise be when exposed to infrared light. So you feel that little bit more comfortable, and you're getting that extra protection too. Genius!

When you first squeeze this out of the tube, you notice that even the cream itself is a cute baby blue colour, and when you apply it to your face, it leaves you with a very faint blue cast. This fades as the sun lotion absorbs, though it remains ever so slightly detectable. This is done on purpose, as it neutralises redness (probably quite a handy feature on hot days!) while the guaiazulene (derived from chamomile oil) which gives the cream this blue colour, also has soothing properties. The cream has recently been reformulated to reduce the level of "blueness" left on your skin, and once I had put makeup on, I couldn't see any at all. However, it might be something to bear in mind if you intend wearing it without.

Klairs Mid-Day Blue Sun Lotion Review - 3

In terms of how it affects makeup, I was pleased to find that it absorbed quickly without leaving any stickiness behind, meaning that I was able to apply my usual products and completely forget that I was wearing sun screen.

All in all this is a great facial sun lotion and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Have you tried anything from Klairs? What's your favourite brand of sun screen?

Kate x

*Gifted item. Some links may be affiliate links. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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The Coolest Festival Makeup Ever?

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UV Festival Makeup from 3ina - 1

I spent what I like to call my "party years" in Belgium, a country that puts on a pretty impressive display when it comes to summer music festivals - the most famous probably being Rock Werchter. This was entirely wasted on me because, I have to be honest, festivals have never really been my thing, even when I was young. I've been to a few in my time... so long as I could get home to my own bed at the end of the night. The camping and the mud? No thanks!

One thing that decidedly is my thing, however, is makeup. And if I'd had some like this in my collection back in those days, I might have been persuaded to go to a couple more festivals, purely to show it off.

UV Festival Makeup from 3ina - 2

The makeup in question is from a new brand called 3ina, who got in touch with me recently to ask if I'd like to try a few pieces from their UV collection. Designed to look neon in regular lighting, which is already pretty cool, the products also glow under UV lights. I was intrigued by the concept, so said yes right away. They sent me three items - the Fluoro Top Coat*, the Fluoro Eye Pencil* and the Fluoro Cream Eyeshadow* in 402 which is a gorgeous hot pink. They also thoughtfully provided a little UV light torch, so I could see the products in all their glory. I did have a few reservations about the quality, as, after all, the emphasis here is on the "fun" element, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The Flouro top coat can be added on top of any nail varnish. It offers a nice gloss with a slight blue cast in normal lighting conditions, and a fabulous glow under UV. You can also achieve this with two coats of top coat on its own. You just have to be careful how you apply this, as the UV light really magnifies any sloppiness around the edges as you can see in the photo below!

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UV Festival Makeup from 3ina - 4

The Fluoro Eye Pencil applies just like a regular black kohl eyeliner, but look at what happens under the UV light!

UV Festival Makeup from 3ina - 5

UV Festival Makeup from 3ina - 6

My favourite of the three products is the Fluoro Cream Eyeshadow. It's very soft to apply and looks so effective worn all over the lids. I don't even think you would necessarily need to reserve this for festivals or nightclubs, as I think it would work beautifully on a regular night out if you felt like rocking something a little different. The picture of me wearing the eyeshadow is without UV light, so you can see how vibrant it is in its natural state. If you check out this link you can see how it looks in its full UV glory.

UV Festival Makeup from 3ina - 7

UV Festival Makeup from 3ina - 8

Are you/have you ever been a festival goer? And would you wear this makeup, at festivals or even elsewhere?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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June Favourites

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June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 1

So, precisely how did we get half way through the year already?! June has been a hectic but very nice month. I got to spend a few days in London with my sister, which is always one of my favourite things to do. The weather was so beautiful too so it almost felt like we were on holiday, and with the amount of iced coffees we consumed, let's just say I don't think that Starbucks will be going out of business any time soon.

As usual, I've handpicked a few favourite items of the month, so let's get started shall we?
 
June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 2

 1. Chanel Les Beiges Foundation - Back when I first started blogging, I only wore full coverage, long lasting foundations and couldn't imagine wearing anything else. Now, partly because blogging has taught me so much about taking care of my skin properly, I feel like I can branch out into lighter bases more. Chanel Les Beiges is one I've wanted to try for a long time and I've been loving it this month. It's a great "compromise" foundation, offering a healthy glow without being overly dewy, and a decent amount of coverage without venturing into mask like territory. There are so many others I would like to try, but I think this one will be a mainstay of my collection for a long time to come. I have shade 20 which is a good match for my fair to medium skin.

June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 3

June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 4

2. L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick in 640 Erotique - As far as I can tell there is nothing new about this lipstick range, but for some reason I hadn't discovered it before a few weeks ago. The formula is just gorgeous. The finish is matte, but probably the softest, creamiest matte I have ever encountered and very comfortable to wear. The shade Erotique is a beautiful rosy pink nude and I've worn it almost every day this month.

June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 5

3. DHC Liquid Eyeliner* - DHC is a Japanese beauty brand. I hadn't heard of it before it started popping up on my Instagram feed over the last couple of months, and then as luck would have it, a very kindly PR company sent me a couple of things from the brand. One was this precision point liquid eyeliner. While my favourite Kat Von D Tattoo Liner is difficult to beat, this one comes very close indeed. It has a super fine nib that gives a beautifully precise, black line. I really love the shiny pink packaging too!

June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 6

4. DHC Olive Virgin Oil Swabs*  -  The second DHC product I was sent was this box of cotton buds. Also beautifully packaged, this is such a simple but brilliant idea. Each individually wrapped cotton bud or swab is infused with virgin olive oil, meaning that they are perfect for cleaning up any eye makeup mistakes. I used to dip a cotton bud into makeup remover to do this, and now I don't have to! They're also useful for moisturising small areas like cuticles and around the nose. I did wonder if oil infused swabs would feel greasy to the touch, but they don't at all. They just feel like regular cotton buds until you start to wipe them over your misplaced eye makeup, and like magic, it disappears.

June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 7

5. H&M Skirt - I wore this skirt pretty much every day during the June heatwave (all four days of it!) It's an effortless piece as it goes with everything and the slightly longer length is ideal for city wear. H&M appear to have a slightly different wash in stock now but from what I can see, the cut is the same.

June Favourites 2017, featuring Chanel Les Beiges Foundation, L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Addiction Lipstick and more - 8

What have you been loving this month?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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