Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review | The Affair by Gill Paul

The Affair, Gill Paul Book Review

LOVE. GLAMOUR. SECRETS.A stunning historical love story from the bestselling author of The Secret Wife. Rome, 1961. As the cameras roll on Cleopatra, the world is transfixed by the love affair emerging between Hollywood's biggest stars: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. But on the film set, tensions are running high. The money is running out, and a media storm is brewing over the Taylor-Burton relationship. When historical advisor Diana Bailey starts work on the film, she wants nothing more than to escape from her own troubled marriage and start anew. But as the heady world of Hollywood envelops her, secrets begin to emerge in the cast and crew. Is everything as it seems? And what really hides beneath the glamour of the famous film? An enthralling story of love and passion from the bestselling author of The Secret Wife, set against the stunning backdrop of one of the most iconic Hollywood movies ever made.

How long it took me to read The Affair by Gill Paul is by no means indicative of how much I loved and enjoyed reading it. If you are a fan of old Hollywood I'm sure you will love this book. I started reading this prior to returning to work so my reading time was sporadic and then it was initially hard to return to my reading habits once I was back to daily commuting but it got to the point that Ben told me he was bored of hearing how much I was enjoying it and just wished I would hurry up and finish it.

As the synopsis says the backdrop to the book was the filming of Cleopatra, which at the time was the worlds most expensive movie to ever be made. It was plagued with struggles during filming from weather and illness and the scandalous affair of it's star Elizabeth Taylor.

Gill Paul explains that she was able to speak with two actors from Cleopatra who shared their stories of life on set and it clearly shows in The Affair as Gill has allowed you clearly visualise how wonderful and fraught it must have been spending ten months in Rome filming one of the most talked about films of the time.

I thought simply this would be a 'love story' of sorts but there are twists and turns I didn't expect if not a little easily handled and perhaps dealt with quickly but still, it added a little more depth to what could easily be a somewhat typical story of boy meets girl just with an Italian backdrop.

Once I had finished reading The Affair it left me wanting to watch Cleopatra, travel to Rome (ideally in a time machine to the 1960's) and find out what other stories Gill has published featuring similar events as their backdrop.

*this post contains press samples and/or affiliate links



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Monday, August 7, 2017

My Make Up Declutter


I appreciate it's the height of 'first world problems' and a rather nice problem to have but one of the 'downsides' as a beauty blogger is quite simply the sheer abundance of products that we own. Over recent months I've tried to take a step back from making unnecessary purchases, accepting press samples I do not need and instead focus on working my way through my collection using what I have or decluttering things I do not love or have need for. I've rather enjoyed the process and enjoyed using products to their end rather than constant chopping and changing, reigniting my love for products once forgotten and finding I'm able to gather more thoughts on the products I do or not like. Today's post is sharing some of those products that haven't quite made the cut this month. 

First is L'Oreal Paris Infalliable Total Cover Foundation which despite my claims that I am not making any unnecessary purchases shows I am still prone to be swept up by some new releases because I have no need for more foundation. As is often the case this was first released in the US and unclear whether it would indeed hit UK shores I was able to ask a friend to pick it up for me. This was way back in December yet it's only recent months I've been reaching it for and I do not like it at all. Having such love for L'Oreal Infalliable Pro-Matte Foundation I expected that it would be a case of loving what I presumed what just be a fuller coverage version. Yes it is fuller coverage but far too much for my skin which felt suffocated whilst wearing. It did nothing for my mature skin and instead highlighted every line on my face so it's certainly not something I would reach for. I actually felt like I was wearing a mask that would crack and was literally itching at my face wanting to remove it.

An old favourite is Vivienne Westwood Boudoir Perfume that was my holy grail scent of old. In recent years I do not wear very often because it is a strong and heavy scent not suitable for day, or certainly work. As such the bottle has languished on my vanity unused and as part of my declutter I reached for it and realised that either the scent is perhaps too strong for me or quite simply I left it unloved too long and it's gone off. It was sad to part with a scent that brings back so many memories - good and bad - and I can remember when my mum purchased for me when it was only available exclusively in Harrods many years ago. 

Dr Lipp's Nipple Balm for Lips - yes that is its name - was one of the products I first purchased having moved into beauty blogging and saw appearing on various other blogs and YouTube channels. I was never particularly enamoured but what for me is simply a thick balm. Designed as one of those versatile products, original as the name suggested for the nipples of breastfeeding women but not is hailed to tackle any irritation from dry cuticles to lips and even babies bottoms. Interestingly I'm currently using a pot of Carmex that I prefer in the tube yet in this instance the tube was troublesome due to being such a thick formula. I actually had some success for Dr Lipp having left on the windowsill by accident one particularly sunny day so it had melted and dispensed with ease. That said life is too short to be fighting with a product I don't particularly enjoy using.

I purchased Make Up Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter in Pink Lights over 2 years ago and I've rarely reached for it if at all. I prefer either a pigmented pink that works as a blush or at champagne or gold highlighter. This is just too cool toned and a bit 'out there' for me as beautiful as it is. Time to pass it on.

Like many other bloggers I loved the Sephora Lip Creams when they were first released and wore often but there is no denying that if wearing on a long day they are very drying and reapplication does bode for a clean lip look. I was always conscious of this so in latter months found myself reaching for it less and less, even when I was working through my lip collection. Finally taking the plunge I didn't make it 5 minutes from leaving home before noticing any moisture being sucked from lips and decided it was time to move on to other products such as the L'Oreal Lip Paints which are a far creamier and less drying. 

OPI Face and Body Shimmer is a product I'm once again ashamed to admit the age of and it's clearly only had sporadic use over the years. This is a very glittery product but not in an offensive way, but does mean choosing the appropriate occasion is key. I took this to St Lucia with me on holiday and love a dusting on the shoulders but decided that was where it should stay and instead I can use one of the many highlighters in my collection.

The final product in today's post is the Real Techniques Buffing Brush a long term favourite of mine and well used. Recently I've been enjoying Beauty Blenders and Oval Brushes for foundation application and seeing my Real Techniques brush looking wearing from such use and cleaning I decided to throw it out and purchase myself a new one in the future. 

I'm really enjoying relieving myself of the excess products in my collection and hope to keep continuing to do so. Are you a beauty hoarder or have you joined the current craze for decluttering your stash?

*this post contains press samples and/or affiliate links


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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Products I Used Up | June 2017


No, it's not a typo these are last months empties and very soon you'll have this months and a flurry of empties posts since I found a whole bag filled with my 'beauty trash' of products I've yet photographed and shared with you. If in any doubt my mission to work through the products I have before repurchasing is going well.

First we step into the bathroom and finally I have finished my Champney's Citrus Blush Shower Mousse*. I say finally only because I feel like I have been using this product, admittedly off and on, for years! This is a product I would repurchase and it's perfect for this time of year and unlike any product I've used before. If you're bored of the usual gels, then I'd say give this a try for a more luxurious shower companion. 

When I first started using wash products for 'the intimate area' I thought it would be too much bother swapping between that and a regular shower gel but it's become something I don't even realise I'm doing now. Soft & Gentle Daily Wash* is less intrusive than the more well known offering Femfresh in large part because it's less 'obvious' in the bathroom. If you're a little shy about these matters then this is the product to use. I would repurchase, although it was Femfresh I did this month only because it was on offer and cheaper.

Another month, another stick of Sure Maximum Protection and this month a small mini that I have been carrying around in my handbag to ensure that I'm not 'that commuter' on the London Underground. I think we know the answer is a resounding yes to repurchasing.

As I had a spring clean of my bathroom I was amazed how much shampoo and conditioner I had in half used states so it's been my mission to ensure that they make there way to these posts. Last month it was TIGI S Factor that I finally said goodbye to. You can read my original review of the range to find out more but the only reason I wouldn't repurchase is the packaging - no one wants to fight with a shampoo morning when they just get out of bed.

I've moved onto salt sprays in recent weeks but prior to that I was using Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Texture Spray*. This is more subtle than a salt spray but still adds some texture and better suited to cooler weather if hair is already a little dry and brittle. You can read my review of the Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion range here

I've found that since returning to work I'm more active in applying hand cream once again and one I have used is Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate. This style of tube is one of my favorites as it's both small without lacking on product. I loved the scent of this as it was sweet and perfect for the Summer without being overpowering. 

Skincare Review

The first three products that I used up last month you will note from my St Lucia Skincare regime and they are favourites. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic is a long term favourite and I absolutely love it in the spritzer version. Again I'm trying to use the toners that still sit in my stash but I will certainly repurchase again in the future. Liz Earle Eyebright I'm not so sure about repurchasing. I do love it, it's fantastic when eyes are particularly suffering due to hayfever but it's a product I forget to reach for or think about it so it goes a little unloved. I think I'll see whether it's missed.

A product that is missed is the B. Effective Stubborn Make Up Remover*. I thought this was just a nice product and happily returned to the Garnier Micellar Water once it was used up but I'm not enjoying it so much and missing the former.  The B. Make Up Remover is a bi-phase solution and I find it gentler on my eyes which is what I use micellar waters and the like for. I'll definitely be repurchasing this again in the future.

Ren Glycolactic Mask I have little to say about unfortunately as I think it sat on my shelf too long and when I have attempted to use it the smell is a little off so into the bin it goes. Let me know if you've used before and whether it's something I need to seek out in the future.

Janjira Illuminating Day Cream* is a product from the stash sitting half used that needed to be used up. The packing for this product is sleek and lux and I like the pump dispenser to avoid product finding it's way under my nails. It's a nice light moisturiser to use in the warmer months when my skin is oiler and sits at a mid range price point of £24 I would think about repurchasing if there wasn't so many other offerings on the high street that I'm keen to try. Or more importantly a basket filled with moisturisers I need to use up first.

Finally is Perricone Md Blue Plasma Cleansing Treatment which I used as a second cleanse. This was an interesting product to use as my second cleanse as it's not one you use to wash off and it's somewhere between a liquid and gel that is nice to apply but I think I prefer my wash products and certainly those which aren't so expensive.

Beauty Review

I was gutted when my travel sized Mac Fix+ came to an end and I had hoped to refill from my larger bottle but the cap has beaten me. For now I've got a couple of other fixing sprays I'd like to use first but I will be repurchasing soon as I love having this in my handbag to freshen up make up if I'm heading out after work.

As part of my declutter process I'm trying to be more diligent at discarding mascaras when they have been in use for some months and it's been a success. I don't wish to tempt fate but I've not had what was a sporadic but frequent eye infection since I've been adopting this tactic. Last months mascara empties were two from Chanel, the Le Volume Mascara and the L'Oreal Superstar. Interestingly I had the smaller travel sizes of the Chanel Le Volume and loved it but once I'd purchased full size I was less impressed and actually found it disappointing and with fall out. The L'Oreal Superstar Mascara I enjoyed and would repurchase but mindful of it's something of a faff applying the primer first and it's quite large and bulky packaging for a mascara.

Wet n Wild Illumi-Naughty Highlighting and Concealing Pen is a great concealer perfect for the better days when you've had a good nights sleep, or at least want to fake having had one. It's not a must have in that I would seek it out from a UK seller but if I come across it when I'm in the US later this year I'm sure I'll throw one into my basket.

Finally a perfume that I enjoyed but didn't love, YSL Black Opium. It's a strong heady scent with a slight sweetness so it's perfect for Summer evenings.

What products have you been using up recently?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New Launch | Nip+Fab Make Up Range

Nip Fab Make Up Review

Nip+Fab is a brand best known for affordable skincare found in your local Superdrug but it cannot have escaped your notice thanks to it's popularity across social media that they have recently launched a make up range. Products range from £5 to £15 if purchased without any of the offers you'll often find in Superdrug stores where it is exclusively available. I was sent a selection of products from the range that I have been testing out in recent weeks, and if you read my New In Beauty post last month you will already know that the Nip+Fab mascara was heading straight for years favourites post. 

Nip+Fab Liquid Lipstick Biscuit Swatch

We'll get the two products I'm least enamoured with out of the way first, although the reason for that is down to personal preferences than any criticism with the products abilities. First, in packaging akin to Kylie Cosmetics are their Matte Liquid Lipstick* in which I have the shade Biscuit. I am currently in the middle of decluttering my lipstick collection and accepting that I'm not really a lover of nude lips, especially in the matte variety and this is no different. When applied I don't 'hate' the shade on me I just don't really feel like myself without a bright red lip or similar - and I wish they would expand beyond nude shades - but it was comfortable to wear whilst I pottered around home. I paired this during my testing period with the Sleek Metallic Lip Cream to see if either product could find a home in my lipstick collection and I much preferred both products worn together yet it's not really for me. If you love nude matte lips the range is definitely one to explore. 

Nip+Fab Make Up Review

I've barely got my head around contouring and highlighting and now it seems like colour correctors are the next product range to be hitting the high street and I was sent Nip+Fab Colour Corrector* in the shade Banana which is, as the name suggests, a yellow concealing product typically used to correct dullness and brighten so ideal for under your eyes. When first using this product I had never used a yellow concealor, or colour corrector so I was keen to see how this would work for me. This was a nice concealer and ticks my most important box where concealors are concerned, it doesn't crease although I don't think it's necessarily the perfect product for me, and I've actually been testing another brands colour correctors which have been working better for me. The formula has made me keen to try their range of traditional concealers so that's next on the list for me.

Nip+Fab Eyeshadow Swatches

Lets move onto the really good products, starting with the Eyeshadow Palette, 01 Sculpted*. If you've been desperate to find a matte eyeshadow palette on the high street, unprepared to pay the extortionate cost of Visiart palettes then Nip+Fab might just have offered you the solution. Containing ten matte shades of brown and two shimmers this is the palette that matte lovers have been waiting for. The powders feel stiff in the pan and when you put your brush in these is slight kick back but certainly less than my beloved Lorac Pro Palettes and there is no fall out on the eye. Because of the aforementioned favoured red lip I prefer I often keep eye make up very simple and I'm certainly not skilled with creating fabulous smoky eyes so I'd argue there is two many matte shades for me to want to work with but if for example you have a selection of pigments or eyeshadows like L'Oreal Infallible Eye this palette is the perfect addition to make your eye design come together. My limited skills and laziness mean I want a more evenly mixed palette than solely mattes, or to reach for multiple products. Whilst the two shimmers are pretty, again I want a little more significant colour difference or choice from the shades. Again Nip+Fab have only released one colourway of their eyeshadow palette and I'll be interested to see if they add more to their range - an Urban Decay Naked Heat Dupe perhaps? 

Nip+Fab Highlighting Palette Swatches

Nip+Fab Highlighting Palette Swatches

Before I delve into the beauty that is the Highlighting Palette* I must reference the packaging for the Nip+Fab range, especially on these palettes. For the price point these palettes feel strong, study and more luxurious than the cheaper alternatives for what is something very similar. As I say the quality of the materials does stand out although the mirror lovers may have cause to complain. In fact when you compare this packaging to Zoeva at comparative pricing Nip+Fab win here. 

So the Highlighting Palette which is available in one colour way 01 Stroboscopic is going to appeal to all the highlight lovers in the world. Recently I have become more enamoured with highlighting and loving seeing that glow on my cheekbones and as the sun shines it's something I'm sure to apply - but would I want nor need a palette containing such variety? Of course I can argue the case for and against that but I will say I rather like this palette and it will be finding a home in my stash and dare I spout the overused blogger phrase 'its perfect for travel' but it really is. A couple of weeks ago I was staying overnight at a friends. Applying my make up the next morning I was able to utilise the various highlighting shades in conjunction with the eyeshadow palette and had the slight shimmer I wanted.

I'll say little about the Nip+Fab mascara* has it's been a product I've talked of in numerous posts of late, not least yesterdays favourites. It's a fantastic mascara that lengths and gives volume to your lashes. My only negative is that it does dry out and clump very quickly so it's one to use and enjoy than pick at sporadically. 

In summary the Nip+Fab make up collection is certainly one I've enjoyed using and am keen to try out some more products from the range. Have you tried any of their products before?

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Monthly Beauty Favourites | June & July 2017


It's extremely cliched at the end of each month to exclaim 'where did this month go' but really, where did July go? It was only as I was sitting last weekend thinking I really must sit down and hit publish on my June favourites when I realised that people were sharing their July favourites so in blogging terms I was definitely behind.

It then occurred to me that the month had moved so quickly that I hadn't even made my usual notes for the coming month of items that would appear the following month and it was still many of these being staples in my everyday routines.

Enough with the excuses and let's have a look at what products have made an impression of late, starting with Imperial Leather Banana Bath Cream. Yes Imperial Leather heard 'my' pleas and brought out the accompanying bath cream for my much loved shower gel. This makes a nice break from either the muskier or zesty scents I often find in my bath room and pairs wonderfully with the Coconut Shower Gel from Aldi if I want to have a little cocktail in the bathroom.

A frustrating hit in recent weeks has been the Lacura Hot Cloth Cleanser, frustrating as it was only available for a limited time and I didn't have the foresight to stock up. I do hear it's back in November so take note if you're looking for an affordable Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish dupe. As I shared when I first tried out this cleanser it's indistinguishable to it's higher end counterpart. I enjoy a creamy cleanser for days when I'm disinterested or too tired in double cleansing and the like and I find them especially nice for a morning cleanse of a weekend when I'm preferring to go make up free.

I wasn't too keen on Urban Beauty United Brush* No 22 (the brand has had a redesign since so products are numbered differently) for make up application and then one evening when I wanted to apply a clay mask I reached for it rather than using my fingers - especially with stiletto nails - and found I much preferred the application method. Using the brush to apply face masks has seen me using less than I need and distribute far evenly. How do you apply your face masks?


Finishing the skincare favourites is La Roche-Posay Anthelios Face Mist*, a new release in the Anthelios line. SPF is really key to your skincare regime but I must confess outside of my holidays I tend to rely on the SPF in my skincare and make up items than applying a separate cream but the new Anthelios Face Mist has changed that. I apply a layer after my moisturiser and only particularly sunny days over make up whilst it's handy size makes it perfect to throw in your handbag for touch ups throughout the day.

Whilst I wouldn't rely on this in sunnier climes for days when I only see the light of day during my commute to work I find it works perfectly. I was skeptical at it's mist name but it really does apply as such and has a nice scent which makes it a pleasure to use and again, how it would sit on top of make up was of concern but it doesn't interfere at all. It's a product I will definitely repurchase and use, even for my trip to Florida later in the year, this will be ideal throughout the day to add more coverage.

Before I would even call myself a 'beauty blogger' I shared my purchase of the Bare Minerals Foundation and it's one I've repurchased often although not used so much in recent years. Again please don't judge me for how old these foundations might be but I recently rediscovered it as I was working my way through decluttering my make up collection and have been using it regularly as skin has been oiler due to the (occasional!) warmer days.

Whilst the Bare Minerals Original Foundation as a loose powder isn't ideal for travelling at home I find it quick and easy to use, and it's allowed me to play with some cream products and change up the way I do my make up which has been fun. Such is my enjoyment of late I have already used up one pot and have started on a second I had in my stash.

When I'm in a hurry in the morning, or just feeling generally lazy about my make up and want to apply and go it's the GOSH Contour'n Strobe Kit* in Light I've reached for. As I shared in my earlier review this palette pairs perfectly with a red lip, another of my lazy day saviours.


When I first received the Nip+Fab Make Up Mascara* I compared it to the YSL and it's certainly proved as much as since I have been using it has dried up in exactly the same way as that would - luckily this is a much cheaper product for repurchasing and it's finish would see me do so without worrying that it does dry out and clump very quickly.

I'm not sure if my final beauty favourite is strictly 'allowed' as I have only used once but I loved it so much I felt it only right to share. Mac Fly By Twilight foiled eyeshadow was part of the Faerie Whispers collection I picked up over a year ago and a few weekends ago as I got ready for a party was the first time I'd used it since buying it.

I tend to pick bronze and browns for my eye make up but I liked the change with some silver and this eyeshadow applied wonderfully. A spray of fix plus gave more pigment and sparkle but it was thick enough to not cause a bad finish on 'older eyelids'. It's definitely one I'll bringing out for party time in the future.

I'm going to end my favourites with something a little different and the website Foxella. It was mere days before I started my new job i saw a Tweet from Jane at BBB tagging Foxella, had a nosey as one does and then fell into a black hole of celebrity gossip and 'blind items'. In short Foxella is a celebrity gossip site that shares gossip about celebrities indirectly but adds the suggested celebrity the gossip refers to in it's post. As I can't bear to add views to the Daily Mail, even for their sidebar of shame, Foxella has filled that void so I can be sure to Keep Up With Khardashians and other such celebrities from the Z to A list. I follow them on Twitter and find it's the simplest way for me to keep 'informed' and will tell anyone who is a fan of such salacious gossip that this is the site to follow. Often I will print screen particularly 'interesting' gossip and sharing with friends creating shock, conversation or denial as we see fit. Predominantly it is American celebrities that feature and some I am not familiar with and will skip over but you find the odd British celebrity featured such as the Beckhams and One Direction members. One such hungover day I actually scrolled through the entries since I'd discovered Foxella and read every one - it was the perfect day. Judge me accordingly but I dare you to dip into the site and not become like me anticipating the next tidbit that appears in your Twitter feed. 

What have you been loving this month, or indeed the past two months?

*this post contains press sample and affiliate links



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