Tuesday 25 October 2016

Dainty Jewels From Designed By Nature + Exclusive Discount Code

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When I was approached for a collaboration by Designed By Nature, I was sure I'd seen this London based jewellery brand somewhere before. After a while, it clicked - the lovely Gabrielle had featured it on her blog earlier this year. Gabrielle is a woman of impeccable taste and her blog is just beautiful (if you haven't already checked it out, you should!) so I had a pretty good idea that I was going to like what Designed By Nature had to offer.

Browsing through the website, I certainly did. As the name suggests, Designed By Nature takes its inspiration from the ever changing cycles of the natural world and captures those cycles in beautiful, intricate, hand made jewellery designs. Dainty rings, earrings and pendants worked in silver and brass resemble exotic flowers at various stages of their life cycle and are at once totally unique and completely wearable. The newest collection is inspired by the work of Karl Blossfeldt, a German photographer who made his name by taking pioneering, close up images of plants and flora. You can view that collection here.

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I'm eclectic in my taste when it comes to jewellery. When the occasion calls for it, I love nothing more than a single statement piece that can pull a whole outfit together, but day to day, I tend to favour dainty jewellery which can be layered up to look good with anything. Designed By Nature's pieces are perfect for that.

I was sent the Gingko Ring* in silver, a stunning, adjustable ring designed to resemble the fan-shaped leaves of the Gingko tree. The quality is excellent, and the fact that it's adjustable means I can switch up which finger I wear it on, a feature I love as it allows for wearing it in different ways, sometimes with other rings and sometimes alone.

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Now for the best bit. Designed By Nature have very kindly offered an exclusive 25% discount code to my readers, valid for the next two weeks. All you have to do is enter kate25 when checking out. Jewellery always makes a lovely gift, so with Christmas hurtling towards us like a speeding truck (I swear this year started about five minutes ago?!) this could be the perfect time to place an order. Alternatively, sod everyone else and treat yo'self! Or maybe even do both. Why not head on over to their website now and have a cheeky browse? I won't tell. Oh yes, and they ship internationally too, so wherever you are, you can take advantage of this discount.

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What's your favourite jewellery brand? Are you a fan of statement pieces, dainty jewels or both?

Kate x

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

Friday 21 October 2016

A Scented Love Letter From Michael Bublé

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I've always had the idea in my head that celebrity perfumes are... well, just a little bit tacky. When I heard that Michael Bublé had released a fragrance for women, I must admit, I rolled my eyes a little. But then I saw that the Thirty Plus Bloggers collective was getting behind it, and suddenly my interest was piqued. So much so, in fact, that when I was asked if I would like to review a sample, I said yes straight away. After all, we're talking about highly intelligent and discerning women here. There had to be more to this than just another star putting their name to a product.

Oh, there's so much more. I'll get into the details of it in a bit, but first of all you need to know this: By Invitation is a complex, finely crafted and beautiful perfume, far more sophisticated than I would have expected from a celebrity offering. As for the packaging, if it doesn't knock your socks off, I don't know what will.

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The fragrance was originally conceived as "a scented love letter" to Bublé's female fans, and the man himself has been hands on in every aspect of its creation, from the concept behind it to the finer details of the design. Talking about the original inspiration for the scent, Bublé said, "It's no secret that I'm a hopeless romantic. It's in every note I sing and every song I write. The idea was to create a special 'invitation' to fans into my new world of fragrance. I'm inviting women to enjoy a beautiful scent that represents my personal taste and imagination. By Invitation is what I'd call 'love in a bottle'."

Oh Michael, stop it!

Bublé collaborated with leading French perfumer Karine Dubreuil-Sereni to create his debut scent, and gave her free reign to work with the finest ingredients in order to make his vision a reality. The result is a gloriously dreamy, feminine fragrance - just what Bublé's ideal woman would wear. 

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As well as the fragrance itself, Bublé was also heavily involved in the design of the packaging. Bloggers are well known for their love of good packaging, and when it comes to perfume, I think it's really important. Wearing scent is an experience, whether it makes you feel glamorous or girly, sexy or sassy, and if the bottle doesn't reflect what's inside, it can take away from that experience. The packaging of By Invitation, in my opinion, is a triumph. A luxe cream and gold box houses the most stunning gold bottle - it is without a doubt the best looking thing on my dressing table right now. Elegant and luxurious, the round glass bottle has a pleasing weight to it and is suspended within a band of textured gold, reminiscent of fine jewellery, while the pull off cap is designed to resemble old-fashioned perfume atomisers. The whole thing is part classic, part contemporary and entirely Instagrammable. 
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And the fragrance itself? Described as a crisp, floral oriental, it's unashamedly feminine and I'm completely in love with it. It's a little sweeter than I'd normally go for, but I'm actually thoroughly enjoying wearing something a bit different. The first spritz is light, fresh and zingy - a little like a sparkling fruit cocktail - which comes from the top notes of red fruits, lemon and bergamot. Then, as it settles, the floral heart notes of rose, jasmine, lily of the valley and peony come into their own. I've always loved floral fragrances, particularly rose and jasmine, so I'm in delightfully familiar territory here. At the base, however, the warmth of amber and cedar wood combined with patchouli and a delicious hit of vanilla praline lends an irresistible twist as well as a sophisticated depth to the fragrance. It wears beautifully over time and lingers all day, without being remotely "in your face".

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By Invitation is available to buy from Michael Bublé Perfume or The Perfume Shop and, if you ask me, at a great price point. The 100 ml bottle is £55 and the 50 ml is £39. Apparently, Bublé's aim was create a whole new category with his debut fragrance that sat somewhere between higher end and more affordable brands, which is something I can definitely get behind. The perfume is also available in a 30 ml size and there are additional products to compliment it, including a shower gel, body lotion, purse spray and candle.

So whether you love the idea of smelling like Michael Bublé's dream girl, or you think that's cheesy AF, it doesn't really matter. I'm pretty confident that any fan of feminine, floral or sweet fragrances will love this. Personally, I started off a cynic, and have been thoroughly seduced. Bublé, you old charmer!

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Are you a Michael Bublé fan? Will you be trying out By Invitation for yourself? And what do you think about celebrity fragrances in general?

Kate x

This post was sponsored by Michael Bublé Perfume. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Bean Body Coffee Scrub

If you're like me, you've probably noticed coffee scrubs popping up all over your Instagram feed in recent months. I've been intrigued by them for a while. I always love trying out new body products, and the premise of a coffee based scrub - the caffeine stimulates blood flow, which helps to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite - definitely sounds like a winner to me.

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There's a few different brands that make these, but I got the opportunity to try one from Bean Body, an Australian brand that makes affordable products from the highest quality natural ingredients. They claim that their skincare will leave you feeling "relaxed, super smooth, sexy and ready to take on the world." Sounds good!

I received the Peppermint Coffee Scrub.* You get a generous 220g of product in a practical pouch, which you can re-seal in between uses. Ingredients are as follows:

Robusta Coffee Beans - to stimulate blood flow and help reduce the appearance of cellulite, eczema, stretch marks, age spots, varicose veins and psoriasis. 

Cold Pressed Coconut Oil - to hydrate and moisturise the skin. 

Himalayan Pink Rock Salt and Demerara Sugar - to exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin, acne, whiteheads, blackheads, breakouts and other skin blemishes.

Cocoa and Vitamin E - to nourish and protect the skin, promoting cell repair and rejuvenation.

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As soon as you open this up, you're hit with the delicious scent of fresh coffee. Not exactly what you'd normally associate with bath products, but it smells wonderful nonetheless. As I mentioned, mine is the peppermint version, and the fragrance is faintly laced with peppermint as well. You can also get other variations including mandarin, vanilla and coconut. The product is crumbly and looks and feels exactly like coffee grounds.

The instructions are to apply the product to damp skin, rub it in by massaging in circular motions (concentrating on problem areas), then leave to dry for five minutes before rinsing off. So that's what I did.

It feels very nice to use. Depending on how vigorous you want to be, you can get a really good scrub going with this. You can even apply it to dry skin if you want a more intensive treatment, and conversely, if you prefer a gentler scrub, just add more water. It takes a fair amount of rinsing off, as it sticks to the body a bit as it dries, but I didn't find this too arduous. You can use this as a facial exfoliator as well - apparently it's good for acne - but I haven't tried this as I felt it would be too harsh for the skin on my face. If anyone has used it for this purpose, I would love to know how it worked out!

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Afterwards, my skin felt amazing. Really silky smooth, even before moisturising. In fact, I'd say it was the best result I've had from an exfoliator in terms of how soft and even my skin looked and felt. I've only used this a couple of times so far, so can't comment on any long term effects on cellulite or stretch marks. Like most products of this nature, though, I notice that the wording regarding this is "reduce the appearance of" and not "banish forever". I actually like this, because they're not making any unrealistic claims here. I don't believe there's a product out there that can actually get rid of these things (although if anyone has found one, it's your moral duty to share in the comments!) However, if I can use something like this to smooth out my skin, combined with regular workouts and a good fake tan, I know I'm going to feel a lot more confident about my body than I would do otherwise. So in that sense, I do think that these types of product are worth using.

For me, the only downside of the coffee scrub is the mess it makes. Honestly, this stuff gets everywhere. Cleaning out the bathtub is definitely not my preferred way to end a pamper session, but on the other hand, it's worth it for the lovely results.

Bean Body Coffee Bean Scrub retails for £14.95 and is available online or at Holland and Barrett.

Have you used a coffee scrub? What were the results like for you?

Kate x

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

Friday 14 October 2016

That Red Lip Classic Thing That You Like

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Ever since I picked up the Rimmel Kate lipstick in shade 01, I've been wanting to do a classic red lip look on the blog, and today... here it is. It might not be groundbreaking, but it's super easy, quick, and a nice fail-safe for nights out.

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Base and Brows - I began by applying some Collection Lasting Perfection concealer to any blemishes and areas of redness on my skin, before my favourite Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation. I find putting concealer on first works better for me and gives me a more flawless finish. Under my eyes, I used the Clarins Instant Concealer. This is my tried and tested base at the moment - every time I wear a full face of makeup, this is where I start. My brows were a bit hastily done and I'll confess that I didn't realise how ungroomed they looked till I was editing the photos, so we'll all just have to live with it. Anyway, for what it's worth, I've used Benefit Brow Zings to define them a bit.

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Face -  I wanted to keep this quite minimal and neutral, so as not to detract from the bold red lip, so I omitted blush and went for a sweep of the bronzer from the Maybelline Master Sculpt palette - a really useful product for when you want to keep things neutral - and a subtle highlight with a touch of Mac Soft and Gentle.

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Eyes - Over a base of Urban Decay Anti-Ageing Primer Potion, I applied the shade Sidecar from the original Urban Decay Naked Palette all over my lids, taking it up past the socket and towards the brow bone to compensate for my hooded eyes. Then, I blended Darkhorse into my outer corners and crease to add a little definition and depth. I lined my eyes with the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper, which is my current favourite eyeliner. I thought I already had a good, precise felt tip liner (L'Oreal Superliner), but this one blows it out of the water in my opinion. The tip is so sharp, like a pin, and if you struggle with applying eyeliner for any reason I can't recommend this enough - it will definitely make your life easier! I curled my lashes and added plenty of mascara. Simply because it was the first one that came to hand, I went with Benefit Roller Lash. I do find this a nice mascara, particularly for lengthening, but its big selling point is that it holds a curl really well, and I don't feel that it does for me - at least not any better than other mascaras I own. I would love to know if anyone has found it to do this for them - let me know if it has!

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Lips - The finishing touch was the beautiful Rimmel Kate lipstick in shade 01, which I applied using a lip brush to avoid getting it absolutely everywhere. The quality of this is great for a drugstore lipstick - creamy, pigmented and long lasting. The shade is a gorgeous true red and one that I'm sure is going to get a lot of use over the autumn and winter.

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I really like this look and it's probably going to be my go-to night out makeup for a while!

What's your favourite red lipstick?

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Kate x

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Giveaway with Debenhams - Triumph Modern Bloom Bra

Giveaway with Debenhams - Triumph Modern Bloom Bra 1

Here I go again, showing off my bra all over the internet. Will I ever stop?!

As you guys know by now, a few months ago, Debenhams invited me to take part in their #knowyoursize campaign. Research shows that as many as 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra, which not only has a negative effect on the way your silhouette looks under your clothes, but can cause serious discomfort as well. Sometimes, the thought of going for a fitting can be a bit of a drag or even a little intimidating, but my own experience at Debenhams was neither of those things. My fitter was both knowledgeable and friendly, and getting measured really took no time at all. Oh, and just in case you were under the impression that you have to go bra-less in order to get measured - you don't. That's a total myth. So if it's been a while since you were last fitted, maybe it's time to think about checking your size. If you're based in the UK, Debenhams really is a great place to get it done - I honestly can't say enough good things about my own experience there. In the meantime, you can always check out their online guide.

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In order to help promote the importance of regular bra fittings, Debenhams have also very kindly offered to gift another bra to one of my UK readers. This time, it's the Triumph Modern Bloom Bra*.

A full cup, underwired bra with no padding, this is the kind of lingerie I'd probably never pick up in a shop, dismissing it as a bit "frumpy" looking. However, when I took a closer look at this one, I could see that the quality of the fabric and the lace detailing was actually very good. And, when I tried it on, I was surprised by how pretty it was. Although it is a full cup bra, the whole top section is sheer lace, meaning that it really comes into its own when worn as you get that lovely contrast between the opaque and sheer sections. In fact, it's actually quite sexy.

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It features a 3D flexible wire, which is supposed to provide three times the comfort of a regular wired bra. It certainly is comfortable, with no "digging" even when worn throughout a (very!) long work day. It also feels incredibly supportive for a bra with no padding, which I think must be down to the additional lining on the lower cups and side sling. In short, it's a great one, and I always think you can never have too many black bras, especially at this time of year, when we all tend to wear a lot more darker clothing. It doesn't come with matching briefs, but anything black and a little bit silky will work beautifully with it.

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So if you'd like to win this bra, here's what you need to know:
  • The giveaway is UK only
  • The prize is for the Triumph Modern Bloom bra in black only
  • The bra is available in sizes 32DD to 40F (no A cup sizes are available). 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 
You can enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Do you have any Triumph bras in your collection? And good luck to everyone who enters the giveaway!

Kate x

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