Thursday, 16 October 2014

My Little Box - October

A few weeks ago I stumbled across French subscription box My Little Box on Twitter, and immediately tweeted my Paris-mad blog buddy Kayleigh to let her know about it as it looked right up her street! I was very restrained and didn't order for myself (I'm not a huge fan of monthly boxes in general) but when I saw Kayleigh's post I really wished I had as it looked beaut! I then kind of forgot about it, until my copy of Elle magazine arrived this month, and I read that October's My Little Box was to be in collaboration with Diane Von Furstenberg...I think I may have squealed a little. As you probably know Diane is a US fashion designer and her label DVF are famous for their beautifully flattering wrap dresses in the most gorgeous prints (I mean, look at this  beauty!) and I have been coveting one FOREVER (I WILL own one, one day. I WILL!).

Anyway, as soon as I read that I hot-footed it over to the MLB website and placed my order for the October box. It arrived today and I am thrilled with it!

The box came beautifully presented and I couldn't open it fast enough. There is a cute drawstring bag inside containing L'occitane hand cream, Kerastase hairspray and My Little Beauty Micellar Water Cleanser - all of which I will use.

 One of my favourite items in the box is a super-cute Lips pin on a card stating 'A Kiss from Diane'.

But the piece de resistance - the thing I was waiting for - is a specially designed My Little Box DVF scarf which I got a little giddy about when I took it out of the packaging! I knew from Elle mag that there were three scarf options, and I had everything crossed that I'd get the one I really wanted - the pink leopard print - and I did! Woohoo!

The box also contains a copy of My Little World which is a super cute mag filled with MORE GORGEOUS DVF DRESSES THAT I MUST HAVE IMMEDIATELY! I'd better get saving (the box also contains a 20% off DVF code though, so if I did buy one, I suppose I'd be saving money really.) In the meantime, I am over the moon with my scarf and the rest of the box.

My Little Box is brilliant value at only £11 plus p&p, and even though this was an extra special DVF edition, which is why I bought it, I'd still definitely be tempted by future boxes.

Have you tried My Little Box?


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Getting my US Beauty On at Rose's Beauty Store

I’m a beauty junkie. This is probably obvious from some of my previous posts, and, also, from the title of the tab above, saying 'Beauty Junkie’. *cough*

What this basically means is that, if I see a innovative new product on a blog, read a rave review, watch an impressive advert or just basically hear about something I haven’t tried yet, I MUST HAVE IT. Since I read a lot of US based beauty blogs, this presents me with a problem, as a lot of these amazing new beauty products are found in Sephora, or US drugstores, and not here in the UK. Which, of course, only makes me want them more. MOAARRRRR!!

So every time I visit the US, I fill my boots (not literally - that’d be weird, and I imagine getting through customs would be awkward) with all the covetable products I’ve been eyeing up, which is great. Then I get home, and about a week later, discover another must-have product that I’m kicking myself for not noticing before I went. Not great. So, if I’m here in the UK, where can I buy these awesome US goodies? On one of my favourite beauty sites, that’s where.

Iif you haven’t heard of it already, I’m talking about the fabulous Rose’s Beauty Store. Rose’s is based in the UK but stock so many of the amazing US brands that are near impossible to get hold of here; think Kat Von D, Bite Beauty, Makeup Forever, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Josie Maran and Tarte to name a few. Alongside the premium brands, Rose’s also stock some US drugstore products which I was over the moon about as, when I was in Florida earlier this year, I fell in love with Covergirl Outlast Foundation and was worrying about how I’d be able to replace my bottle when it ran out - luckily Rose’s came to my rescue!

As we know, Sephora now ship to the UK, however once you add on taxes, shipping, and take into account that there are quite a few products Sephora won’t ship over here (like the Tarte bronzing set I had my eye on - grrr!) it becomes a bit of a hassle, so for me, ordering my US beauty must-haves is so much easier from Rose’s. The thing I love best is that if there is something you really want (like the Sephora Give Me Some Lip kit. I. NEED. THIS.), then the ladies at Rose’s will make every effort to get hold of it for you. I’ve used Rose’s a few times and the service has always been brilliant, shipping quick, and I’ve been over the moon with my goodies. The other fab thing is that a lot of the foundations are available as samples to try before you splash out on the real thing (and I was so glad of this, as it gave me the chance to try Kat Von D foundation which did absolutely nothing for me, without forking out for a full size bottle).

Some of the stuff I've had in Rose's awesome Sample Packs
Another thing I love about Rose’s - but you need to keep this under your hat because frankly it’s freakin’ AWESOME - if you love trying new products (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) the site offers sample packs for £1 each which contain three different beauty/hair/skincare samples - these obviously vary but I’ve had a few of these and some have had some amazing contents like mini Nars and Marc Jacobs lip glosses, Makeup Forever primer in a cute bottle and Hourglass mascara. Much cheaper than a beauty box but you still have the fun of getting a surprise and trying something new. What’s not to love?!

Let me know if you’ve tried Rose’s Beauty Store!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser

I expect a lot from my cleanser. Since I have combination skin, I need a product that won't dry out my skin, but will really work deep down into the pores in my t-zone. I need something that's exfoliating enough to get rid of any flakiness, but not so harsh that it aggravates my problem areas. It needs to wash off easily (taking the day's make up with it), and leave me feeling clean and refreshed. Oh, and it has to smell nice. Like I said, I expect a lot. I'm always on the lookout for new products that might fit my (long) list of requirements, so I jumped at the chance to try Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser*.

I was intrigued by some of the ingredients: Moringa seed extract to deep cleanse, jojoba spheres to exfoliate and pumpkin enzymes to leave skin looking fresh and radiant. Sounds impressive, right? I tried the product over three days and here are my thoughts.

This is a hardworking cleanser. It's described as 'Advanced Tri Phase', since the product is not only a cleanser, but an exfoliator and mask treatment too. It's light in texture and the smooth jojoba beads don't feel harsh or rough, but glide over the skin, sloughing away any dullness and flakiness. After rinsing, my skin feels clean but not tight. After applying the product and leaving for ten minutes as a mask treatment, I felt completely refreshed and my skin had the sort of glow I've only ever experienced after a salon facial. I love the idea that I can use this product as my daily cleanser as well as a luxurious treatment whenever my skin needs a bit of extra attention.

Using this in conjunction with the Optimal Skin ProSerum, which I apply afterwards as a base for my makeup, I've noticed a difference in my skin in just a few days. It feels fresher, more radiant and best of all, like I've given my skin a real treat. I'm converted!

Have you tried Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser?

*Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser is £30 for 100ml. This review is based on a sample sized product I was sent to try. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Love Niche London Event

If you're a regular reader you'll know that I am a semi-professional shopper. If there are places in Newcastle to buy purdy clothes from, you can bet I've visited. And bought. But occasionally, I'll hear about something new on the shopping front in wor Toon. That's why I was so excited to be invited to a blogger preview for the Love Niche London Collection at Love Niche, the brand's personal styling studio, hidden away upstairs in Grainger Town.

I was trying to think of how best to describe the Love Niche studio. Basically, imagine the most amazing walk in wardrobe, one of those super-plush ones you see on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, with ornate armchairs, soft carpets and lots of dark wood panelling. And full of gorgeous clothes. Eeep!

The studio, and the Love Niche brand, were created by Nisha, who greeted us warmly with cocktails when we arrived at the studio and explained that, as a fashion designer and personal stylist, Nisha has been in the fashion industry for years, working both here and in India. Nisha has her own range of evening dresses and resort wear under the Niche by Nisha Vedhara brand, as well as a specially selected premium fashion collection under the Love Niche brand, designed to fill the gap between high street and high end, tailored to her client's requirements. Because of her contacts and experience in the fashion industry, Nisha has access to the factories and design workshops who supply some of our high street favourites. So now, Nisha has lauched the Love Niche London collection, which includes handpicked high street pieces, specially selected to create the perfect outfit, along with beautiful accessories.

We were able to get a sneak peek at the Love Niche London range before it goes on sale online in October, and I think it's fair to say I picked out quite a few pieces that I loved. I felt like a kid in a candy shop as I rifled through rails of gorgeous dresses, jumpsuits and jumpers. My particular favourites were this red jacket and floral print trousers - I love how vibrant the jacket is and the trousers just make the outfit that bit more interesting. I'm no stylist but I was quite proud of the ensemble I created!

Each of the bloggers who attended on the night picked out outfits, all of which were gorgeous and priced really reasonably. My beloved jacket was £40 and the trousers £25, which I think is brilliant considering how much you'd pay for the same thing on the high street.

It's clear how enthusiatic Nisha is about fashion and her collections, and it's lovely that a fashion designer like Nisha, based here is Newcastle, is doing so well. I can't wait to check out the website when it goes live in October, and I'm hoping I might still be able to get my hands on that jacket!

Thanks to Nisha and her team for inviting me to their amazing event and for the lovely bracelet I got to take away! Keep an eye out in October for the new Love Niche London site which is sure to have plenty of gorgeous pieces *credit card at the ready* :)

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Throwback Thursday - Beverly Hills, 90210

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A couple of weeks ago I was blindly flicking through the tv channels when I suddenly spotted a very familiar large wrinkled forehead. Could it be...?! YES, IT WAS! It was Dylan McKay, hearthrob of my childhood years. At this point I am SURE you will all be very aware of who Dylan McKay is, but I shall explain anyway.

Dylan, played by the very lovely Luke Perry, was one of the main characters in Beverly Hills, 90210. Not that fancy modern version of the show, but the ORIGINAL. The BEST.  In a nutshell, the show centred around Brandon & Brenda, sixteen year old twins who move to Beverly Hills and the exploits of them and their friends as they stumble through high school and college.

Brandon and Brenda had the best life. They basically went to school, wore amazing clothes (The jeans! God I miss stonewash jeans. Kind of), lived in a mahoosive house and ate pie at The Peach Pit. Dylan was Brenda's rebel of a boyfriend who - shockingly - wore an earring. Oh, he also drove a porsche. I had no idea what a porsche was when I was twelve, but it sounded cool. Other characters included Kelly, Brenda's bitchy school friend (and my teenage fringe icon), Donna, the one who was only on the show because her dad produced it hung around with Kelly and Brenda, Steve, who had the most fabulous blonde curly mullet, Ahhhhndrea, who wore glasses and was therefore terribly clever, and David, the school geek. There were others, too, but these were my favourites.

Brandon and Dylan were not like any school boys I'd ever come across - or was ever likely to. (Years later, I looked back on this and felt somewhat cheated). The whole thing was so full of drama (90210 tackled some tough subjects, like alcoholism and domestic abuse) yet unspeakably glamorous. I would sit on a Saturday tea time eating my buttered crumpets and watching in awe.

I learned valuable stuff from that show, too. Like every time I need to enter a US zipcode into a website to be able to enter special, super-amazing US-only sales (I'm looking at YOU, Kate Spade!) I confidently tap in those familiar five digits without a second thought. My Sephora Insider card is actually registered at the Walshes' address. Not a lie.

Yeah, so CBS Drama are currently airing every.single.episode at 9pm each night. Good bye, social life! Turns out I love 90210 now as much as I did back in the day. The only thing that's ruined my little jaunt down memory lane is the realisation that all of the cast - and therefore, me - are considerably older now. Luke Perry (Dylan) is almost 48. FORTY EIGHT. His forehead is still wrinked.

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Ian Ziering (Steve) is 50. Oh, and he's also a Chippendale. Why didn't he look like this in the 90210 days? Although admittedly, I was partial to his mullet.

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Were you a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210?

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Blogging Pretty On A Budget - HP Turquoise Chromebook

One of the (many) frustrations I've had over the last few months whilst blogging/writing/browsing Shoeaholics website is that my laptop is SLOW. It's old (well, I've had it for over three years, which in laptop years is like, a hundred or something), overworked, the battery is on it's last legs and my letter 'L' keeps doing this annoying sticking thing where I'd type a paragraph then read back over it and realise that every time I'd typed the word 'blog' it shows as 'bog'. (My sticky 'L' caused a particular problem when I drafted up a post about the new clock I bought for my bedroom. But we won't go into that).

So, it was pretty obvious I'd have to invest in a new laptop before I posted something that got me banned from the blogosphere. And me being a mild-technophobe (I'm actually pretty good with technology once I get going. It's the 'getting going' bit that gets me - reading instructions and the like) I didn't have a clue where to start. I knew I didn't want a tablet (I prefer a keyboard - I know, I'm so old-school) or a netbook (I like a bigger screen), I'm not massively keen on Apple products and I remembered reading something recently about Chromebooks being pretty snazzy and good for those on a budget (which I am - I have a handbag habit to feed after all) so when I spotted this little beauty I thought it might be worth a try. Especially since it's so purdy! (I'd love to say that had nothing to do with why I purchased this, but...)

Anyway, it has a 14" screen, 4Gb RAM and 16Gb SSD for those who are in the know. For those that aren't, like me - it powers up fast, the keyboard feels nice, and the battery lasts up to 9 hours. Oh, and did I mention the purdy turquoise colour? This also comes in white and coral (and I did sway towards coral at one point as it looks equally gorgeous). The best bit? This is a refurbished model which means it's basically new with all accessories but much cheaper than one actually listed as new. I paid £179 for this which I think is pretty good. I ordered from Dabs and it arrived within 3 days.

I've been using my new beauty over the last few days and apart from getting used to not having Windows I'm getting along fine with it. And I do LOVE the colour. All I need now is an equally cute laptop bag to carry this around in for when I'm using it on the go. (let's just ignore the fact that 99% of the time I use my laptop I'm lying in my bed).

What do you think? xx

Monday, 15 September 2014

Lush Newcastle Event

Before last week, Lush wasn't a shop I usually made a beeline for; I suppose like a lot of people I've always walked past the store and enjoyed the gorgeous smells wafting out of the doors, but I've not often gone in, other than to buy bath bombs or the occasional brightly wrapped gift for someone at Christmas. I've never really thought about it much before but I suppose the reason for that is that I don't (or didn't!) know much about Lush products. I did know, however, that they aren't tested on animals, nor are any of the product ingredients. Lush is also often raved about in a lot of the beauty blogs I read so I was excited to get a lovely email from Lush PR asking me if I'd like to attend an event at the brand new Newcastle store last week.

So I met up with one of my partners in blogging-crime Chloe and we headed off to the new store, which is inside Eldon Square. Lush had pulled out all the stops for the night, with yummy gin cocktails, cupcakes and a singer who I didn't get the name of (I believe she works for Lush) but was so good I actually thought we were listening to a cd rather than a live performance. The store is large and bright with shelves full of gorgeous Lush goodies in the brand's signature quirky style. 

The staff were visibly excited about the new store and really enthusiastic in showing us around and demonstrating products. I particularly loved the massage bars which I've never tried before but after one of the ladies gave me a mini hand/arm massage with a Therapy bar I was sold! The super rich moisturisers (cocoa and shea butter) made my skin silky soft and left a lovely sheen whilst smelling amazing (orange oil and lavender oil - mmm). I was really interested to learn that ingredients in the product are 100% natural and a really cute fact we were told is that the design of the Therapy bar is inspired by the fact that one in every four babies born has an 'outie' belly button. We were also told that this particular massage bar was previously a Lush Spa exclusive product which I can believe as it feels like such a decadent treat!

I was keen to check out the various ballistic bath bombs and we got to try out a couple including Fizzbanger which not only smells good enough to eat but also changes colour whilst it fizzes away in the water. The piece de resistance is the popping candy in the centre of the bath bomb which we could hear popping away as the bomb dissolved. I can honestly say I've never seen a bath product like it and I will definitely be treating myself to one of these!

The new store also has a large perfume bar stocking the brand's Gorilla perfume. The Dirty Body Spray caught my eye as it comes in a quirky spray-gun and I think the Husband would love the fresh, minty scent. The store also stocks Lush makeup which we didn't get a chance to try as it was quite busy. 

What really came across to me is how much the staff love and believe in the products. Lush products are made in Poole and a couple of the guys from the factory were demonstrating how they divide and package product ready to hit the shelves. Lush products are all freshly handmade and have a little sticker on each showing who made it (in cool cartoon form) and when which gives a really personal touch. You can see more about how the products are made here

When we left we were given a bag of goodies including I Love Juicy Shampoo, Furze Perfume, Kalamazoo Beard and Facial Wash (yes, yes, I know. I don't have a beard. Usually.) and Enchanted Eye Cream which I can't wait to try, I will be posting reviews soon. 

Since I'm now a Lush convert, I'd love to know what your recommended Lush faves are? Let me know, and, if you're in Newcastle, check out the new store.