Tuesday 30 May 2017

May Favourites

May Favourites 2017 - 1

May is drawing to a close, and finally we're starting to get some warm and sunny weather in the UK. The sun is streaming through my window as I write this, and I'm looking forward to finishing work for the day and maybe grabbing a cheeky glass of rose in the garden before dinner.

I really hope I haven't jinxed it now. If it's chucking it down with rain by the time you read this, I can only apologise!

May has been quite an eventful month. I was in London twice for blogger events, which was very exciting. I don't always write about every event I go to on the blog any more, but I usually share the experience via my Instagram Stories, so make sure you're following me on Instagram if you're not already and want to see what I get up to. (And just so you know, if I haven't posted anything in my stories, it's because I'm spending my time having an argument with my laptop or doing laundry and I don't think anyone needs to see either of those.)

Right, on to my favourites.

May Favourites 2017 - 2 - Benefit Ka-BROW!

1. Benefit ka-BROW! - When it comes to brow products, I used to be the biggest fan of Brow Zings, also by Benefit, until my sister recommended I try this instead. I was converted immediately. If you're already familiar with Brow Zings, ka-BROW! does pretty much the same job, but in one step instead of two, and with better results. It also comes in prettier packaging. It's a gel-cream consistency, comes with its own angled brush, and is essentially everything you need to create perfect brows in one product. I tend to use the brush to lightly draw in the shape of my brows first - I find this helps to cheat a neat, "just-waxed" look - and then use short strokes to fill them in and create more definition.
May Favourites 2017 - 3 - Benefit Ka-BROW!

May Favourites 2017 - 4 - Benefit Ka-BROW!

2. E.l.f. Natural Glow Face Palette* - I talked about this here and I'm still in love with it. Perfect for traveling, this offers a bronzer, highlight and choice of two blushes in one handy palette - all of which are in really beautiful shades, ideal for everyday wear. This has been working overtime for me ever since I got it.

May Favourites 2017 - 5 - E.l.f. Natural Glow Face Palette

3. Accessorize Chandelier Earrings - There is nothing remotely new or trendy about these, and in fact I've owned this particular pair of earrings for a few years, but something about the sunny weather has made me feel like digging them out again. I very rarely wear statement earrings, but every so often it's nice to change up your look, and this is quite an effective but simple way to do it. I think that big earrings work beautifully with off the shoulder or cold shoulder tops and I've really been enjoying giving this pair a new lease of life on evenings out this month. Accessorize have quite the selection and you can have a browse here if you feel so inclined.

May Favourites 2017 - 6 - Accessorize Chandelier Earrings

4. River Island Top - This is so pretty and fresh looking, perfect for summery weather. I've mostly been wearing it with jeans and heeled sandals, but it would also look great with denim skirts or shorts. I honestly don't think you can have too many pretty tops and this one is a firm favourite right now.

May Favourites 2017 - 7 - River Island Off The Shoulder Top

5. Zara Loafers - So these do look a little bit like Granddad slippers, but they're kind of chic as well, or at least I think so! They're super comfortable, go with pretty much everything and look loads more expensive than they actually were - a totally bargainous £19.99. Good old Zara.

May Favourites 2017 - 8 - Zara Loafers

May Favourites 2017 - 9 - Zara Loafers

6. Z For Accessorize Constellation Necklace - I do enjoy my Accessorize jewellery, don't I?! Delicate little gold necklaces are always lovely and I particularly like this one due to the constellation design - I'm a sucker for a bit of astrology! This one is Scorpio (which, surprise surprise, is my star sign) and I've seen all the signs in store, though for some reason I can only seem to find Pisces on the website. These aren't expensive but they're really pretty and fun to wear.

May Favourites 2017 - 9 - Z For Accessorize Constellation Necklace

What have you been loving this month? And what's your star sign?!

Kate x

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

Friday 26 May 2017

Budget Friendly Tips For A Whiter Smile

Budget Friendly Tips For A Whiter Smile - 1

Did you know that 15 May to 15 June is National Smile Month? Neither did I, but I was alerted to the fact when I was sent a couple of products from Janina recently. It's not a brand I'd heard of before, but it focuses on low abrasion whitening without damaging tooth enamel, and I've really been enjoying trying out the couple of things they sent me. It also got me thinking about teeth whitening in general. I've never had any expensive or drastic treatments, but the little things I've done over the years seem to have worked pretty well at keeping my teeth nice and white. So I thought I would share my budget friendly tips with you, because after all, who doesn't love a budget friendly beauty tip?!

The Basics

I'm sure no one here needs me to explain the importance of brushing your teeth twice a day, but I will make one recommendation, and that is to always use a whitening toothpaste. I've done this for as long as I can remember and I really think it has paid off over the years. I always look for a toothpaste that lists all the important oral health benefits (protection against cavities, plaque, etc) but with whitening as an additional feature - that way I know I'm not sacrificing anything important for the sake of whiter teeth. One I keep going back to is Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste, but currently I'm using both the Janina Ultra White Extra Strength Toothpaste* and Janina Ultra White Teeth Whitening Foam*. What's great about both these products is that they're clinically proven to produce excellent whitening results without using harsh abrasives, which can be damaging to tooth enamel, using instead a Bromaine Complex formulated from fruit enzymes. It just gives you that little extra peace of mind - you're maintaining the whiteness of your smile, but safely.

Budget Friendly Tips For A Whiter Smile - 2 - Janina Ultra White

My other basic recommendations are to use an electric toothbrush - much more efficient at cleaning your teeth than the manual variety - and not to skimp on flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. Speaking of mouthwash, you can add in some sneaky whitening action here too - my favourite is Ultradex.

Food And Drink 

We all know that too much black coffee or red wine can stain your teeth. I'm quite lucky in that I like my hot drinks really milky, so any staining is kept to a minimum. I do enjoy the odd bottle glass of red wine, but my best piece of advice here is "everything in moderation". Actually, that's quite good advice when it comes to red wine in general, not just because it might stain your teeth! Even food that is considered healthy, like salad dressings and fruit juices, can be damaging to tooth enamel, something I wrote about in greater detail in this post. My personal belief is that if you worry too much about these things, you will end up eating nothing at all, which obviously isn't good either. So, unless of course you are following a particular diet, my advice is as before - everything in moderation. Eat the delicious salad with the lovely dressing (preferably with steak and chips on the side) and have a black coffee afterwards, if that's what you like. Just don't have two or three black coffees afterwards. You get the idea.

Whitening Strips And Other Treatments

Budget Friendly Tips For A Whiter Smile - 3 - Boots Expert Teeth Whitening Strips

Sometimes I like to give my teeth a little whitening boost, and my tried and tested way to do this is with whitening strips. I love the Boots Expert Dissolvable Strips. They're easy to use - simply stick them to your teeth and they dissolve within ten minutes. They're also great value for money and they really do work. There's enough in the pack to use them twice a day for two weeks if you want to give your teeth a full whitening course, but I tend to just use them for a few days before a big event or whenever I feel like I could use a little something extra, as I can see a difference after just a few uses. I know that some whitening strips can cause sensitivity, but I've never experienced that with these.

Budget Friendly Tips For A Whiter Smile - 4 - Boots Expert Teeth Whitening Strips

Every time I head to the dental care aisle in Boots, I'm amazed by how many whitening options there are. From instant pens that you brush on to gel and tray treatments to new age "blue light" systems, it's all readily available and considerably more affordable than having whitening treatment at the dentist. For the moment, I don't feel the need to branch out from my trusty strips, but it's good to know that there are so many alternatives should I decide to give them a go in the future.

Makeup Fixes Everything

If all else fails, it's amazing how wearing the right shade of lipstick can give the illusion of whiter teeth. As much as I love oranges and brown-toned nudes, they're not your friend when it comes to brightening up your smile. Instead, you should opt for cool-toned shades and anything with a blue base - Mac's Ruby Woo is a good example of a blue-based red. Berry colours are also great, as they tend to have strong purple or blue undertones. I'm wearing Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick in Under My Spell here, which is the best example I have in my current collection. I think it really does make my teeth look whiter! Apparently, a slightly glossy finish also helps, as opposed to matte.

Budget Friendly Tips For A Whiter Smile - 5 - Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick In Under My Spell

Budget Friendly Tips For A Whiter Smile - 6 - Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick In Under My Spell

What are your top tips for whitening teeth without breaking the bank?

Kate x

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

Tuesday 16 May 2017

E.l.f. Cosmetics Is Coming To Superdrug - Here's What You Need To Buy

The other week, I was intrigued when I received an invitation to a launch event for e.l.f. Cosmetics (short for eyes, lips, face). Although I'd never tried anything from the brand before, the name was very familiar to me. There seemed to be lots of hype around it a few years ago, but more recently, not a word. I soon learned that there was a good reason for this. E.l.f. makeup used to be available in the UK (to buy online) but then mysteriously disappeared. Now, however, it's back, which is most certainly good news! It's already available online at Superdrug, and you'll be able to check it out in store from 1st June. 

E.l.f. Cosmetics 1

E.l.f.'s mission is to provide luxurious beauty at affordable prices, and the most expensive product you'll be able to buy at Superdrug will be the Precision Multi Blender Massager Brush at a very reasonable £14.50. Sounds good, no?! I had the opportunity to look at quite a few products at the event, and received a very generous goodie bag at the end of it, the contents of which I didn't hesitate to try out. As a result, I've come up with three separate lists - my must-have products, things you don't need but might like, and finally, a wishlist of interesting products that have caught my attention and which I would very much like to own!

Must-Have Products

E.l.f. Cosmetics 2 - Natural Glow Face Palette

E.l.f. Cosmetics 3 - Natural Glow Face Palette

1. Natural Glow Face Palette* - I absolutely love this. Not only does it come in this beautiful mirrored packaging, which would give any high end equivalent a run for its money, but the quality of the powders themselves is really lovely. While I found that none of the products swatched particularly well, it was a different story when it came to applying them to my face. This palette contains a bronzer, highlight and two blushes, all of which are designed to give a very natural, flawless glow. I've been wearing the bronzer and peach toned blush every day since I got this and I'm loving the way it looks. If you're only going to get one thing from e.l.f., make it this.

E.l.f. Cosmetics 4 - Lip Exfoliator

2. Lip Exfoliator* - This looks like a cute pink lipstick, but it's actually a lip scrub in bullet form. You can get this in several fragrances - mine is Sweet Cherry and smells good enough to eat. So much more practical than a messy sugar scrub in a pot, this also feels lovely to use and does an amazing job of both exfoliating and moisturising the lips. This has definitely taken the place of my old Lush lip scrub - it's brilliant.

E.l.f. Cosmetics 5 - Precision Powder Brush

3. Precision Powder Brush* - Soft as a unicorn's mane, this brush is fantastic quality and I have been loving using it to apply the bronzer from the Face Palette. Plus, the silver trim and clear handle make it look pretty on my dressing table, which is always a bonus. I definitely want to explore e.l.f.'s brush collection a little more.

E.l.f. Cosmetics 6 - Radiant Gel Lip Tint

4. Radiant Gel Lip Tint in Dewy Berry* - I'm not always a fan of this type of product, but this one is really pretty. It's a lovely colour and gives a beautiful sheen to the lips. Although sheer products don't always show up on my lips, this shade is deep enough to make an impact. Part of e.l.f.'s Aqua Beauty range, it's infused with purified water, rosewater and Vitamin E to keep lips soft, so this together with the shiny finish make it a perfect product for summer.

"Nice To Have" Products

E.l.f. Cosmetics 7 - Nude Rose Gold Eyeshadow Palette

E.l.f. Cosmetics 8 - Nude Rose Gold Eyeshadow Palette

1. Nude Rose Gold Eyeshadow Palette* - I know. It's called "rose gold" and I don't think it's a must-have. Am I even a proper blogger? The shades in this palette are undeniably pretty and I'm really impressed with the quality of the packaging. The pigmentation isn't the greatest as you can see in the swatches above, but I found it was vastly improved when worn over an eyeshadow primer - you will see that the colours look a lot more vibrant on my eyes in the photos below. If you're in the market for a neutral eyeshadow palette and don't want to spend a fortune, this would be a nice choice - it's only £12.50. However, if like me you have neutral eyeshadows coming out of your ears, you probably don't need it.

E.l.f. Cosmetics 9 - Baked Blush And Highlight In Rose Gold

2. Baked Highlighter and Blush in Rose Gold* - Yep, I went there again. This is pretty, especially when you swirl the two colours together to create a pink gold highlight. However, on me it just doesn't seem to translate well onto the skin. A shame, because I really wanted to love this. It could just be my skintone, however.

E.l.f. Cosmetics 10 - Intense Ink Eyeliner

3. Intense Ink Eyeliner* - This is nice and black and not too tricky to use, and at £4.50 is a great affordable eyeliner. For me, though, it just doesn't compare with my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner. I need a really precise point on these, if only because my hooded eyes make liners difficult to apply, so the Tattoo Liner was always going to be tough to beat. It is, however, nearly four times the price of this one.

In the pictures below, I'm wearing as many of the above products as I could fit on my face. I have a couple of the mid pink shades from the eyeshadow palette on my eyes, as well as the eyeliner, while my bronzer and blush are from the face palette. I'm also wearing the rose gold highlight, although you can't really see it, and the lip tint.

E.l.f. Cosmetics 11

E.l.f. Cosmetics 12

My Wishlist

1. Molten Liquid Eyeshadows in Brushed Copper and Rose Gold - these looked absolutely stunning when I looked at them at the launch event and have pride of place at the top of my wishlist.

2. Illuminating Face Primer - I've been wanting to try one of these for ages. The e.l.f. one is a good price (£7.50) and apparently can handle both dry and oily skin. Brilliant if you have a face like mine that can never make up its mind.

3. Matte Lip Colours -  Supposedly rich in pigment with a matte finish, they're in jumbo pencil form, twist up, but come with a sharpener just in case you need one. I have my eye on the shade Tea Rose to start with.

4. Velvet Matte Lipsticks - I do love a velvet finish. These lipsticks contain moisturising ingredients and I very much like the look of Ruby Red.

Are you excited about e.l.f.'s return to the UK? Will you be making any purchases?

Kate x

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

Tuesday 9 May 2017

5 Ways I Want To Improve As A Blogger

5 Ways I Want To Improve As A Blogger - Blogging Advice - 1
Back in March, I wrote about the five best decisions I've made so far in my blogging "career". (I hesitate to use the word "career", but it's preferable to "journey", no?!) Ever since then, I've been meaning to follow it up with a post about five areas where I'd like to make some improvements. As I said before, I'm in no position to offer anyone advice on how to succeed as a blogger, but I do feel that sharing experiences is helpful.

This is me finally getting around to post number two!

1. I should practise what I preach - In my good decisions post, I talked about how jumping in at the deep end and just starting my blog, regardless of whether I felt ready or not, was a smart thing to do. But for some reason I don't seem capable of following my own advice when it comes to YouTube. Ever since I first started my blog, I've liked the idea of creating a YouTube channel to go with it. While I think that some content works best in written form, there's other stuff that's more effective when talked about, and I would love to be able to offer both. But I just don't get round to it. Partly this is because writing comes naturally to me, while talking, especially to a camera, definitely doesn't. Starting a YouTube channel was always going to be more of a challenge for me than starting a blog. But the main reason, if I'm being totally honest, is fear. Fear of putting myself out there on a notoriously unforgiving platform, and fear of being rubbish at it. But if I never start, how will I ever graduate from rubbish to half decent? Maybe this will be the year when I find some courage and actually do it. Who knows?!

5 Ways I Want To Improve As A Blogger - Blogging Advice - 2

2. I should think more creatively about my content - I cannot tell you the number of times I have published a post I thought was kinda sorta ok-ish, only to think of a much more interesting way I could have presented the content a couple of days later. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good old-fashioned, straightforward review post. I enjoy writing them and I enjoy reading other people's even more - it's my favourite way to find out about new products that I might be interested in trying. However, I do have a tendency to rush the thinking part of my posts. (Not the writing part - I do that painfully slowly!) And all too often, the result of this is that I'll create the most obvious and unimaginative post possible every time, which basically consists of some pretty pictures, and a few paragraphs along the lines of: "This is Product X. You use it on your face. I really like it." Afterwards, it will occur to me that I could perhaps have compared Product X to a rival product from another brand, or created a look with it, or something else. Anything that would have added my own unique spin to the post. The lesson here is that I need to start thinking more about the best way to present each piece of content, instead of just opening Blogger and starting to write.

5 Ways I Want To Improve As A Blogger - Blogging Advice - 3

3. I should take time out to learn my craft - It can be difficult enough to find the time to create regular content, promote that content, be active on social media and deal with my inbox, let alone anything else. But there are other things I would love to do that I know would help improve my blog a lot, such as finally learn how to make the most of my DSLR camera, or how to use SEO properly. Somehow, I need to find a way to manage my time better so that I can fit this kind of stuff in!

4. I should post more consistently - I am terrible at this, and once again, it's a consequence of not being as organised as I should be. All the advice you hear is that you need to produce frequent, but most importantly, consistent content for your readership to grow. As much as I would love to post more frequently, I've accepted lately that two posts a week is actually quite a challenge for me as it is, and that I should focus on achieving that before attempting anything more. There's no point in trying to run before I can walk, and I must say, it's been something of a relief to take the pressure off myself on this score. Hopefully the productivity will follow - watch this space!

5 Ways I Want To Improve As A Blogger - Blogging Advice - 4

5. I should remember why I started - I first started blogging because I felt so inspired by the beautiful content I saw others producing, be that in written or video form. It was a source of so much pleasure for me and I knew I'd get even more out of it by joining in and starting something of my own. I was right. But over time, things subtly change. You improve, even grow a little bit, and you start to think, "hey, maybe I could actually make something out of this". And that, of course, is where the dreaded comparison factor starts coming into play, and where you start raising your expectations, only to find it's a lot harder to succeed than you could ever have imagined, and that maybe the progress you've made really isn't that significant after all. In my good decisions post, I talked about not giving up my blog when I lost heart at the end of last year. Well, perhaps the most important improvement I want to make is in my attitude, by remembering more often why I started it in the first place - for fun. I bumped into the lovely Alina at an event recently, and we chatted about how the blogging world can get disheartening from time to time. Then we agreed that if it wasn't for our blogs, we wouldn't have been there that evening, sipping champagne, having a good old gossip and playing with brand new makeup. Which, after all, wasn't that much of a hardship! When we feel disheartened as bloggers, it's because we're ambitious for more - or at least this is true in my case. Ambition is no bad thing, but if the disappointment gets too much, it can be counter-productive. Sometimes it's good to try to see the glass as half-full.

Can you relate to any of these points? How would you like to improve as a blogger?

Kate x

Friday 5 May 2017

Collection Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette

Collection Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette Review - 1

Colour correcting concealer palettes - I've been seeing them all over the place lately. Designed to help us in our quest for flawless complexions, they contain concealers in all manner of crazy pastel shades. Each one counteracts a different colour based issue we might have with our skin - such as excessive redness (breakouts, spider veins), sallow yellow tones or dark purplish hues under the eyes.

I don't have huge amounts of colour related issues with my skin, but I do get a bit of redness due to broken capillaries around my nose and cheeks and the occasional blemish on my chin or forehead. (I know, what a goddess!) So although I didn't want to spend a fortune on a fancy palette, I was interested in trying one that could offer some help with the redness. I opted for the Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette from Collection. At £4.99 it's very affordable, plus it's super compact and lightweight, making it perfect for travel. There's even a handy little mirror inside.

Collection Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette Review - 2

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the quality Collection produces at such a low price point is astounding. Their Lasting Perfection concealer has cult status in the blogosphere and for good reason, so needless to say, I had high hopes for this palette.

It contains a green concealer - the one I was most interested in - to neutralise redness, and a lilac one to counteract yellow or sallow tones, which I must confess I don't really have a use for. These are a cream to powder formula. You're supposed to blend them over the areas where you need them as a first step.

Collection Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette Review - 3

Collection Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette Review - 4

For step two, you cover everything over with the liquid Primed & Ready concealer, before setting it with the invisible setting powder. 

Collection Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette Review - 5

The quality of the products is great and everything applies easily. The liquid concealer is very creamy and offers a lot of coverage - it's actually very effective at covering blemishes in its own right. I liked the little brush provided to apply the green concealer to small blemishes and the veins around my nose, but you'd probably want to use a bigger one or perhaps your fingers for any larger areas of redness.

Collection Primed & Ready Correct & Conceal Palette Review - 6

 So, does it work? 

Well, there's no doubt that it does a good job of concealing the redness, but is it noticeably better than my regular concealer? Honestly, in my case, I don't think it is. However, I don't necessarily think that this product is a waste of money. If you're suffering with a larger than usual breakout, a palette like this would be great to have in your stash. Likewise, if you generally struggle to disguise discolouration with your usual base products, you might just love this. As for me, I'm going to hold it in reserve for a day when any spots decide to run wild. It might just become my best friend in that situation!

Have you tried a concealer palette? What's your opinion on them?

Kate x

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Three Ways to Style a Trench Coat

Classic, timeless and elegant, is there any situation in which a trench coat wouldn't work? With this crazy cold snap we've been having in the UK lately, a cover up is essential, and trenches are perfect for adding that extra layer while still looking spring-like. I've owned a few variations of them in my time - different lengths, different colours, etc - but my favourite will always be the classic beige trench coat, like this one from Jack Wills. And, just to show how versatile it really is, I've put together three entirely different looks for you, all based around the same coat. Enjoy!

Weekend Wear

Three Ways to Style a Trench Coat - Weekend Wear

Trench - Jack Wills, Jeans, Blouse - Topshop, Shoes - River Island, Bag - Zara

The trench is incredibly classic, so with all my looks, I've tried to compliment that by introducing a few trend-led items without going over the top. Hence the gingham top here, combined with the frill detail on the sleeves, embroidered mules (how beautiful are they?!) and the let-down hems on the jeans. For me, this is the perfect casual Saturday outfit. Relaxed and comfortable enough for wandering round the shops, and cute enough to feel nice in when you stop for lunch somewhere.

Date Night

Three Ways to Style a Trench Coat - Date Night

Trench - As before, Dress, Shoes - Zara, Bag - Kurt Geiger

A trench isn't necessarily the obvious choice for a night out, but why not? I think it would look great thrown over this gorgeously girly, embroidered Zara dress. I also quite like the way the strappy heels pick out the colour of the coat's lining. As for this Kurt Geiger bag, it's a work of art! It's not super cheap, but it's a lot more affordable than a real designer number, and did I mention it's beautiful?!
Nine to Five

Three Ways to Style a Trench Coat - Nine to Five

Trench - As before, TrousersShirtBag - H&M, Shoes - River Island

When I used to work in an office, this was exactly the sort of thing I would wear. You could switch the fashionable frilled trousers for classic cigarette pants if you wanted to, but I kind of like the subtle way these add a modern edge to the outfit. The bulk of this look comes from H&M, which I used to love back when I needed a "corporate" wardrobe as they have so much to choose from and it's all so affordable. 

Are you a fan of the classic trench coat? Which of these looks was your favourite?

Kate x

This post was in collaboration with Jack Wills. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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