Tuesday 30 August 2016

August Favourites

August Favourites 1

Favourites posts seem to happen fairly sporadically around these parts, but I was feeling it this month, so I though I would write one. As usual I've been selective, and included a mixture of different things. As far as the makeup goes, though, there's definitely a theme - mid-pink was obviously my preferred colour this month! 

August Favourites 2 - Topshop Bomber Jacket

1. Topshop Bomber Jacket - Is it weird to include a jacket in an August Favourites? Probably. But the summer has been so changeable - sweltering one day and chucking it down the next - that I've found myself reaching for this quite a lot. It's just so easy to throw on over a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt and is a really useful mid-weight, with just enough padding to keep me warm should the weather take a sudden turn for the worse. I find the khaki colour super-flattering, particularly combined with the gold hardware, plus it makes me feel like I'm channeling some uber cool nineties vibes every time I wear it!

August Favourites 3 - Too Faced Color Drenched Lip Cream in Nude Beach

2. Too Faced La Creme Color Drenched Lip Cream in Nude Beach - Quite apart from the very Instagram-worthy packaging, this is absolutely gorgeous. Buttery soft and with a beautiful sheen, it feels so comfortable on the lips that it might as well be a lip balm. It gives a decent colour pay-off too, and as I mentioned, I've been loving this mid-pink shade this month! The only negative about this is that it's not particularly long-lasting, but it's so effortless to apply that it doesn't really bother me.

August Favourites 4 - Illamasqua Lipstick in Bare

3. Illamasqua Lipstick in Bare* - Very similar in colour to the Too Faced lip cream, but completely different in formula, this Illamasqua lipstick is fabulously pigmented and gives a perfect matte finish. This has a lot more staying power than the Too Faced product, but it does dry the lips out a little. Still, it's worth it for the finished result, which is a really striking, velvety matte lip. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you will love this.

August Favourites 5

Illamasqua on the left, Too Faced on the right

August Favourites 6 - Avene Cleansing Foam

4. Avene Cleansing Foam* - Anyone who's followed my blog for a while might be aware that my skin has been been on a bit of a roller coaster lately. I've never been blessed with a particularly clear or radiant complexion, but generally speaking, so long as I gave it a good cleanse twice a day and moisturised diligently, it's always been OK. I'd slap on good old Estee Lauder Double Wear and I'd be good to go. But then something happened - possibly the stress and upheaval of moving house twice within as many years - and all of a sudden, my skin was dry and patchy and Double Wear started to look like rubbish on me. I changed skincare products, I changed foundations, and before I knew it, my T-zone was like an oil slick and there wasn't a makeup base in the world that wouldn't simply slide off my face after a couple of hours' wear. I had no idea what to do about it, but when I got the opportunity to try this cleanser from Avene, I decided to go for it in the hope that it might help.

August Favourites 7 - Avene Cleansing Foam

It's a mattifying cleansing foam designed for normal to combination sensitive skin, and comes with a pump dispenser. The consistency is very light - it literally feels like the foamy bubbles you might scoop up in your hands while in the bathtub. It's a fairly strong cleanser, so if you don't have an issue with excess oil I probably wouldn't recommend it as I imagine it would be too drying. If you do, however, I urge you to try it. Avene claims that the skin balance will be restored within days. Mine was restored after a single use. I'm always wary of making dramatic statements when reviewing skincare, but that's what happened. It was obviously exactly what my skin needed. I could see almost immediately that my complexion looked a lot more even, and since I've been using this cleanser, Double Wear looks good on me again and lasts all day just the way it used to. Thank you Avene!

August Favourites 8 - Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Gel Nail Color in Nude Rose

5. Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Gel Nail Color in Nude Rose - This was a sneaky purchase made with the intention of spicing up my weekly grocery shop. I only got it a week or so ago but it's been on my nails ever since, so firmly deserves its spot among my favourites. Again it's this pretty mid-pink shade. I always seem to have plenty of white-pink nail polishes, and sheer pinks, and hot pinks. This has clearly filled a void in my life. #firstworldproblems

August Favourites 9 - Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Gel Nail Color in Nude Rose

August Favourites 10

6. Home Decor - My final favourite of the month is somewhat abstract, so I'm using this catalogue to represent it! We moved into our new home earlier this year, but other than the odd purchase here and there, haven't done much so far in the way of redecoration. This month, Mike's parents spent a week with us and re-painted pretty much the whole downstairs, which was so sweet of them to do for us. They did a fantastic job too, and now I've got the home decor bug! Having new paint on the walls has got me thinking about all the other things I want, like new carpets, curtains, furniture... it could get expensive!

What have you been loving this month?

Kate x

*PR Samples. All opinions, as always, are my own

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range

If you follow me on Snapchat, you might have seen that I recently took a trip to the hairdresser's "just to get my roots done", and ended up with hair blonde enough to give Daenerys Targaryen a run for her money. Well, perhaps not quite that blonde, but there was a lot of bleach involved. A lot. I've actually got used to the colour now. Turns out my hairdresser was right - I'd left it too long between appointments (mostly because I hate spending hours getting my colour done - anyone else?) and the underneath sections were starting to look pretty tarnished. It's definitely more even now, but boy did it feel dry and damaged once it was done!

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range - 1

So if ever there was a good time to put a new haircare range through its paces, it was in the wake of this appointment. I was very interested when I was offered the chance to try this Argan Oil range from Natural World - a London based haircare brand that creates ranges from natural ingredients from around the globe. Argan oil is widely known to be very moisturizing, and that was definitely what I needed at this point! The range is also free from a lot of nasties such as parabens, phosphates and phthalates, is gluten free and contains 95% natural ingredients including certified organic argan oil.

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range - 2

I was sent a shampoo and conditioner to try, along with a hair mask and two different sizes of treatment oil. Looking the products up online, I was pretty impressed with the generous sizes compared to the price. For example, I received 500 ml bottles of shampoo and conditioner, which retail for £4.99 each. That's a lot of bang for your buck. The packaging isn't the most luxurious out there but the bright blue colour is fairly appealing and for the most part it's practical enough, although I have to say I hate the packaging of the smaller treatment oil. It's a narrow tube with a screw top and just pours out into your hand, so it's impossible to avoid wastage and mess. The larger treatment oil comes with a press down lid allowing you to dispense a controlled amount of product, which is much better.

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range - 3

All the products feel lovely to use, rich without being heavy, and with a beautiful fragrance. As well as argan oil, the range is also infused with a blend of cedarwood, rosemary, lemongrass and ylang ylang, and this is certainly evident in the scent - especially the orange. As most people know by now, argan oil - particularly nourishing in Vitamin E and anti-oxidants - is a popular choice when it comes to moisturising ingredients in haircare, and the blend of essential oils contained within this range is designed to gently cleanse hair whilst adding moisture and shine.

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range - 4

For my first hair wash post Daenerys-gate, I decided to use the shampoo and the hair mask, for an extra hit of much-needed nourishment. As directed, I left the hair mask on for twenty minutes, wrapped in a towel. When I came to rinse it out, my hair felt soft and manageable. I wouldn't go so far as to say it felt like silk, but to be fair, I don't think there's a product in the world that could make that happen, given how much bleach it's been subjected to.

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range - 5

Hair Mask

For hair washes after that, I've been using the shampoo and regular conditioner, switching the latter up for the hair mask once a week or so, and I'm pleased to report that my hair remains soft and relatively easy to comb through before styling, which is impressive considering the aforementioned bleach. It also seems to work very well at not weighing down my fine hair or causing it to become greasy, which is great as it means I can leave it a few days between washes - a desirable thing if you want to avoid subjecting your hair to too much heat styling, as I do.

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range - 6

Left - Shampoo, Right - Conditioner

As for shine, this has always been an elusive quality as far as my hair is concerned, and even more so since I became a bottle blonde. I don't find that the shampoo, conditioner and hair mask add shine to my hair, although someone with a different/less abused hair type might well find differently. I do however think that the treatment oil, when used on dry hair, adds a little. I really like the treatment oil. You can use it on both wet and dry hair, and it's so light that even if you make a mistake and end up being a bit too heavy handed with it, you can still work with it. Combined with the other products, it definitely makes my hair feel softer and smoother. Can you see the added shine in the "after" picture below? I'll admit, it's minuscule, but I do think there's something of a difference!

Natural World Argan Oil Haircare Range - 7

All in all I think this is a lovely range - effective, natural, pleasant to use and great value for money. If you're interested in trying any of the products, you can pick them up at ridiculously low prices here.

What haircare products are you using at the moment? Any recommendations?

Kate x
*Products sent to me for review. All opinions, as always, are my own

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya

It's true what they say - wearing pretty, matching underwear really is a mood booster! And matching underwear doesn't come much prettier than this gorgeous lace set from Freya. Isn't it lovely? If you like it, make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the post and enter the giveaway, as the lovely people at Debenhams have promised a set to one of my readers!

Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya courtesy of Debenhams 1

You might remember that a few months ago, Debenhams very kindly invited me to go for a bra fitting, and I wrote about my experience here. Part of their #knowyoursize campaign, the main aim is to raise awareness of the importance of getting regular bra fittings. Fluctuations in weight and hormonal changes throughout our lives mean that our bra size can go up and down, and while that might seem obvious, an astonishing 8 out of 10 women are still wearing the wrong size. Correcting this can make more of a difference than you think, to your comfort, your figure, and consequently, to your confidence. So if it's been a while since your last fitting, I'd recommend popping into your local Debenhams next time you're passing. I found their fitters so friendly and approachable, and full of good advice about different styles of bra. You can also check out their handy online guide

Once you know your size, you'll need to stock up on some gorgeous new lingerie (any excuse, right?!) so how about this Freya "Fancies"* set for starters?

Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya courtesy of Debenhams 2

When I first received it from Debenhams, I literally gasped at how pretty it is. I don't usually opt for brightly coloured underwear, but this set is making me seriously rethink that. It's also incredibly comfortable. All over lace, yes, but it's so soft that it just feels like cotton next to my skin.

The bra is underwired, non-padded, and has a cute bow and peep hole detail at the front. The back features a lower than usual fastening, something that's always useful to have in your collection.

Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya courtesy of Debenhams 3

Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya courtesy of Debenhams 4

Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya courtesy of Debenhams 5

The briefs are super-flattering, and, I'm pleased to report, seamless under skinny jeans. No VPL here!

Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya courtesy of Debenhams 6

So if you'd like to win this set, here's what you need to know.
  • The giveaway is UK only
  • The prize is for the Freya Fancies bra and briefs set only
  • The bra is available in sizes 28 E-G and 30-38 DD-G, and the briefs are available in S, M and L. The prize is worth a total of £38 and is subject to availability
  • The prize is non-transferable, non-refundable and non-negotiable. No cash alternative is available
  • Debenhams Retail PLC will not be liable for any prizes which are lost, delayed or damaged in the post for reasons beyond their control
Still want to enter? Then all you need is below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway - Lace Lingerie Set from Freya courtesy of Debenhams 7

Are you a fan of colourful lingerie? Go on, don't be shy, tell me all about it!

Kate x

*Lingerie gifted for review. All opinions, as always, are my own

Wednesday 3 August 2016

The Dress of Dreams

The Dress of Dreams 1 - OOTD featuring Asos

The other weekend I went to the most amazing wedding. I knew it was going to be good. When a Greek Cypriot bride (my husband's cousin) and an Indian groom tie the knot in a fairytale English castle, you sort of know it's going to be a fun day, especially when they each bring their own team of professional dancers! They also wrote their own vows, which added a beautiful, emotional touch to the ceremony, and I must admit, a few tears were shed! The sun shone all day long, and the backdrop of Leeds Castle in Kent was the perfect setting. 

The Dress of Dreams 2 - Leeds Castle

The Dress of Dreams 3 - Wedding Flowers

The Dress of Dreams 4 - Leeds Castle

At the risk of sounding superficial, I always enjoy an event that much more if I'm happy in what I'm wearing, and I could not have been happier in the Asos dress I wore to this wedding. An off-the-shoulder, full-skirted jacquard dream, it was comfortable, elegant and really did make me feel like a princess. In fact, I may or may not have spent some considerable time prancing around the grounds of Leeds Castle, pretending it was all my very own.

The Dress of Dreams 5 - OOTD featuring Asos 
 Dress - Asos, Shoes (similar) - Aldo, Bag, Ring, Earrings - Accessorize

The Dress of Dreams 6 - Accessorize Clutch

The Dress of Dreams 7 - Accessorize jewels

The Dress of Dreams 8 - OOTD featuring Asos

The Dress of Dreams 9 - Leeds Castle

A definite contender for the prettiest dress I have ever worn, I love it for all sorts of reasons. To name just a few:
  1. It is beautifully made. It fits like a dream, and the off the shoulder part sits snugly exactly where it is supposed to - not once did I feel like I needed to straighten it out or adjust it.
  2. Although the sheen on the fabric makes it look rich and heavy, it isn't. In fact, the skirt is unlined, making it very light to wear, which was welcome given how hot it was on the day of the wedding.
  3. The longer length meant I didn't have to worry about fake tanning my legs. That's probably the least glamorous of reasons to love this dress, but it's a big one nonetheless!
  4. There's just something about the style of it. That fold over detail, the fitted waist and full skirt... it's just so elegant.
  5. It shimmers when you catch the light. Who doesn't want that?!
The Dress of Dreams 10 - OOTD featuring Asos
   The Dress of Dreams 11 - OOTD featuring Asos

I usually wouldn't dream of ordering a wedding guest dress online. In fact, it's normally the kind of thing I'd dedicate a whole day's shopping trip to, with multiple trying on sessions and a lot of umming and ahhing. But with time running out, I ended up turning to Asos and I'm so glad I did. In fact, if you're in the market for something to wear to a special occasion, I can't recommend their wedding guest page enough. It's packed full of more dreamy dresses and co-ords than you can shake a stick at, and the accessories are pretty drool-worthy as well.

Styling this was a breeze. I went for some delicate nude caged heels from Aldo - a sale bargain and apparently no longer available, sadly, although I have linked a similar pair above - a sparkly clutch and a little bit of costume jewellery. That was all I needed as the dress really did all the talking! Makeup-wise I kept things fairly neutral, glowy and fresh, and after much deliberation opted for Barry M Copper Mine on my nails.

The Dress of Dreams 12 - OOTD featuring Asos

The Dress of Dreams 13 - Wedding at Leeds Castle
 The Dress of Dreams 14 - Wedding at Leeds Castle

The Dress of Dreams 15 - OOTD featuring Asos

All I need now is someone else to get married so I can wear it all over again!

Have you been/are you going to any weddings this summer?

Kate x
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