Night Time Routine.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I am, admittedly, pretty nosy. I love taking a peek into other peoples lives and some of my favourite blog posts to read are ones that allow you to pry into someone else's little world. So, I decided to do my own and share some of my bedside table must-haves. In my opinion, there's really nothing more relaxing than climbing into bed early and having a self indulgent mini pamper session, so I like to keep a few essentials within easy reach to ensure that I nod off feeling nice and content. 

Prior to bed, I spend a few minutes in the bathroom removing all my make-up, cleansing and toning. Once snuggled up in my duvet with a candle or two lit (I'm currently burning a mini version of S by AS London which has a lovely earthy, spicy scent to it), I smooth a small amount of Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum into my skin. I love this stuff - it's lightweight but still incredibly hydrating, and my skin feels instantly better after using it. Next, I moisturise using NUXE Crème Fraîche De Beauté 24HR Soothing and Moisturizing Cream, which is really soothing and gives my skin lasting hydration. Described as a "smoothie" of almond and orange blossom, it has a fresh, almost herbal scent that I'm a big fan of. Onto eye cream - right now I'm using Benefit's It's Potent which has lots of lovely ingredients and isn't too heavy on my skin. Finally, I coat my lips with Blistex Intensive Moisturiser Hydrating Lip Cream. While not the fanciest or most exciting of products, this is an amazing cream - it's ridiculously thick and keeps my lips well moisturised until morning.

Face done, I quickly slather on some hand cream. NEOM Complete Bliss Hand Cream in Morroccan Blush Rose has been doing the job lately. If my hair is feeling a bit dry, I apply a small amount of NUXE Huile Prodigieuse to the ends. I also keep a big bottle of one of my favourite body moisturisers by my bed - Soap & Glory's Smoothie Star Deep Moisture Body Milk, which is perfect for particularly dry days and smells like popcorn!

Beauty routine complete, I can really start to relax, and This Works: Sleep is the perfect companion. Containing a lavender scented pillow spray and calming pulse point rollerball fragrance, it helps ensure a calm, relaxing nights sleep. Finally, I settle down with a good book. I'm highly indecisive, so tend to keep a small tower of literature next to my bed to guarantee that something takes my fancy! I'm also never further than a few feet away from my iPad mini, so I keep that on my bedside table for late night internet browsing and flicking through my current favourite magazine, Allure.

So, that's my bedside table. I love taking my time with my beauty regime before bed. I find it really relaxes me and makes for a better nights sleep, although I have to admit some days I can barely be bothered to slap on some moisturiser before nodding off! Still, I think it's nice to keep the products within easy reach for when the mood does strike, and keeping a few staples next to my bed is the perfect motivation.

What do you keep by your bed? Any night time essentials?

Dainty Doll Bargains

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Word has been flying around the blogging world recently about the amazing Dainty Doll bargains available over on Fragrance Direct. Many of the products have been vastly reduced (most being around the £2 mark!), leaving many people pondering over whether or not the company are coming to an end. Dainty Doll is the brain child of Nicola Roberts, who most of us know as the pale red head from Girls Aloud. Sick of the lack of beauty products that are aimed at us pale ladies, Nicola took it upon herself to create her own range of products that are especially for the fair-skinned market. Being very pale myself, Dainty Doll is a brand I've always been keen to try but never really seemed to get around to, so when I saw the simply ridiculous reductions on Fragrance Direct on Sunday night I filled up my basket within about ten seconds flat! Today I received a parcel filled to the brim with Dainty Doll products (I think I went slightly overboard... cherry Southern Comfort, this is your fault!) so I thought I'd share my thoughts on some of the range with you guys. I've been wanting to test out the liquid foundation from this range for a while but unfortunately it wasn't available on Fragrance Direct, however I noticed yesterday that Boots are selling Dainty Doll with a third off and I managed to pick up a foundation for free by paying with my advantage card points! So, onto the products:

Mascara and Eyeliner Duo in 001 Good Gosh (x2 - I bought one for my mum as it was her birthday!), Loose Mineral Powder in 001 Now That I've Found You, Liquid Foundation in 001 Now That I've Found You, Lipstick in 002 Saucy Sailor, Concealer in 001 Abracadabra, Eyeshadow in 002 Treat Her Like A Lady, Eyeshadow in 001 Are You Experienced, Powder Blusher in 002 My Girl, Powder Blusher in 004 You Are My Sunshine. 

I've spent most of my teenage and early adult life on the search for the perfect pale foundation. I've never found a high street brand light enough for my skin and have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I have to pay £20+ for a close colour match. This foundation retails at £22 which is fairly reasonable, although it's on offer right now for around £14 in Boots. The shade is great - it's the lightest in the range and is a touch lighter than my usual go-to's (Illamasqua Skin Base in 02 and Kat Von D in Light 42) but is still a great match for my skin. It gave me a really natural, dewy finish when applied with my Real Techniques Buffing Brush and has so far lasted me all day without going cakey or blotchy. I'm a fan!

Although I'm pretty loyal to my Collection Lasting Perfection concealer, for £1.99 down from £14.50 I couldn't resist sticking this in my basket. Again, this is the lightest shade and the colour match was excellent - definitely a closer match than my Collection concealer. The coverage is a lot heavier than I'm used to so I had to spend a long time blending it in, however once applied it's lasted really well. I'm not sure if this has knocked Collection off the top spot but I'm going to keep using it and see how it holds up.

Again, I'm really impressed with the colour match of this. I have a really hard time finding powders than don't show up orange on my skin, so I was over the moon with the shade this product. I also really like the built in retractable brush which makes this powder perfect for keeping in your handbag. However, I do think the amount of powder you get is very stingy considering the full price of this product is £19.50 (when I saw this online I was fooled into thinking the powder continues into the black section of the packaging - it doesn't!), although I only paid £2.99 for it so I can't complain too much. It's advertised as a foundation but I don't think the coverage is good enough to wear alone. I used a small amount over the top of the Dainty Doll liquid foundation and quite liked the results, but I wouldn't pay full price for this.

I bought these two neutral eyeshadows. Treat Her Like A Lady is a light silvery nude and Are You Experienced is a medium matte brown. These eyeshadows have a smooth, creamy texture, are easy to blend and have really good pigmentation. I'll definitely be getting use out of these, and for £1.99 each (from £11.50) they were amazing value for money.

This duo combines mascara with liquid eyeliner in one handy tube. I bought an extra one for my mum to make up for the fact that I was splashing out on beauty products on her birthday evening, but I'm sure she won't mind that I opened it for a quick photo! I like this mascara - it separated and lengthened my lashes really well, and while it didn't make them look as thick as I usually like, the finished look was really natural. I was slightly disappointed with the eyeliner, though. As you can see, the applicator is very long and thin which makes it difficult to apply. I had to use a steady hand and tiny strokes to avoid making a mess, and I didn't even attempt to do my usual cat eye flick as I was certain it would end in disaster. Maybe this will improve with practice, but I don't think this product is going to replace my usual eyeliner any time soon.

Saucy Sailor is a classic, 40's bright red shade that is super flattering on pale skinned ladies. It's very moisturising and creamy, has great pigment and leaves a stain on your lips even after it's faded. I love red lips so I'm really pleased with this, and at £1.99 down from £12.50 it was an absolute bargain.

Lastly, I bought two powder blushers. I think these are some of my favourites products from the range - they have a gorgeous, creamy consistency and the colours are just stunning. My Girl is a really pretty pastel pink with just the right amount of subtle shimmer running through it. It's not over the top at all and leaves your skin looking glowing and healthy. It's a perfect everyday shade as it looks really natural, and is light enough that it looks lovely on very pale skin tones without looking overdone. You Are My Sunshine is possibly my favourite product out of everything I bought - it's just so beautiful! It's a pinky peach with golden shimmery undertones, very similar to NARS Orgasm or Sleek Rose Gold. I really can't wait for the weather to sort itself out as this is going to be absolutely perfect on sunny days. Can't quite believe I managed to snag these for £1.99 each!

Swatches of all the products.

So, all together, these products cost me an whopping... £18.91 (plus postage). How amazing?! I am so impressed. At full price this little haul would have set me back over £150! Even though a few of the products didn't absolutely blow me away, I think I picked up some winners - the blushers and eyeshadows particularly impressed me, and the foundation, concealer and powder shades are definitely worth checking out if you're a fellow pale girl who has a hard time finding a match. I adore the packaging of the products - they're sophisticated, sturdy, and feel high end (they also have a really satisfying click when you close them... I think I'm impressed a little too easily). I think it's a real shame if Dainty Doll are shutting down as it can be difficult to find makeup that flatters fair skin, and they really have their shades spot on. Perhaps they're just rebranding and getting rid of old stock, or maybe that's wishful thinking on my part. Either way, I highly recommend checking them out on Fragrance Direct. Although quite a few of the products have sold out by now, there's still some bargains to get your hands on! They have some other exciting offers too - I spotted some Essie Nail Polish for £1.99 the other day and was verrry tempted to make a second order. I think I may have found a new favourite website...

Find Dainty Doll at Fragrance Direct here.

Instagram #2

Beef Tataki at Yo Sushi in the Trafford Centre / Amazing Mars bar cupcake for my mum's birthday / Making a prawn stir-fry / Hugo in the snow, having a stand off with another dog / David Bowie - The Next Day (number 1 - yay!) / Hugo / Quorn curry / Cocktail pitcher at Revolution / Boneless Buffalo Wings at TGI Fridays / Beef Street Tacos at Lust, Luck Liquor and Burn in the Northern Quarter, Manchester / My new phone case - guinea pig/Bowie hybrid / Sleepy pug.

MAC Please Me.

Friday, March 08, 2013

MAC's Please Me lipstick is a medium muted rosy pink shade. I never imagined a shade like this would suit me and have always stayed away from overly pink lipsticks, tending to favour darker colours. However, I swatched Please Me when browsing my local MAC counter today and simply fell in love. It's really flattering against my pale skin tone, and has such amazing pigment and staying power. Although it is a matte finish, I've found it's actually one MAC's more creamy matte lipsticks - I'd probably describe it as more of a semi-matte finish. It's still a tad more drying than your average lipstick but I find that this is easily remedied with a generous layer of lip balm before application. This is such a perfect everyday lipstick, being both subtle and really pretty. I can imagine Please Me very quickly becoming a staple in my makeup bag!

Percy & Reed, Elemis and Neal's Yard Magazine Freebies.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Magazines have really been spoiling us when it comes to beauty freebies this month. I recently picked up the April editions of Marie Clare, Cosmopolitan and Glamour (several, in some cases) and I now have a whole host of lovely samples to add to my ever-growing collection. Here's a run through of what I got in my little magazine haul...

Glamour: Percy & Reed Colour & Shine Shampoo and Conditioner, and No Oil Oil.
I've received this shampoo and conditioner as a freebie before and really enjoyed using them, so I was quick to grab them again when I saw them free with this months Glamour. I also picked up another copy for the volumising hair oil - I have a bit of a hair oil addiction and this one claims to be great for fine hair, which is perfect for me. 

Cosmopolitan: Elemis Fresh Skin Daily Moisturiser, Mattifying Moisturiser and Quenching Lip Balm.
Elemis are a brand that I've heard good things about but never used, so I jumped at the chance to sample some of their products courtesy of this month's Cosmopolitan. I picked up two moisturisers and a lip balm. I've only used the lip balm so far and I'm loving it, so fingers crossed that the moisturisers are just as effective!

Marie Clare: Neal's Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream
As a bit of a hand cream fanatic I was really excited to see this offering from Neal's Yard with Marie Clare magazine this month. This hand cream smells amaaazing, like orange and honey, and makes my hands feel instantly softer.  It's also part of Neal's Yard Bee Lovely range, which helps raise money to protect bees - aww! I really love this product, so much so that I'm very tempted to buy another copy of the magazine so that I have another lined up for when this one runs out.

So there you go - a pretty fab little collection of treats, I reckon. And, with a generous pile of brand new magazines waiting to be flicked through, it's the perfect excuse to have a relaxing bubble bath and an early night. Yay!

All of these magazines are available to buy now.

February Birchbox.

Friday, March 01, 2013

I have finally received my February Birchbox. It was quite disheartening seeing other people get excited about their boxes while I was left empty handed, although a lovely email from the Birchbox team offering 20% off in their online store as an apology for the lateness took the edge off slightly. So, was it worth the wait? In a word, yes.

The theme of the box is London Fashion Week and the products are all designed to "rev up your beauty routine" and give you a bit of a boost. There are four decent sized products and both a beauty and lifestyle extra in the box, along with a 19-page Birchbox magazine which I think is a great addition - the content is always good and it is presented beautifully. Perfect for a flick through with a cuppa!

Here's some more detail about what I got in my February box:

Korres Guava Shower Gel
It's always great to receive a product from a well known and respected brand in a beauty box so I was thrilled when I saw this. This shower gel smells amazing, has lovely packaging and is a really generous sample size. Think I'm going to save this for a holiday later in the year!

Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Plump N'Thick Leave-In Thickening Mist
Any product that promises to thicken hair is fine by me. I have thin hair so I'm always on the lookout for products that give me a bit of extra volume and texture. This "light but powerful" spray claims to deliver visible volume when spritzed onto towel-dried hair. Hopefully this lives up to expectations. I can't wait to try it out!

Vichy Thermal Spa Water (Limited Edition)
I already love Vichy so was pleased to find this in the box. It's a multi-purpose product that is essentially a water spray, but can be used to set make-up, as a toner or simply for a refreshing boost. I think this will be ideal for summer or when travelling. The size is perfect for popping in your handbag, too!

Gerda Spillman Bio Fond Cream Foundation
This is the only product I wasn't overly fond of. The idea is nice enough - a cream foundation that comes packaged in a stylish compact with a mirror and a sponge. I received the shade 01/Praline, which I believe was the lightest shade that Birchbox sent out, however it is still way too dark for my pale skin. I think it's a bit of a gamble to send out products like these in beauty boxes as it's very difficult to match everybody's shades correctly and always seems to leave people disappointed. Such a shame! I'll try to find this another home.

This Birchbox branded curler is a beauty extra. It's a pretty basic tool so I don't have too much to say about it, but it's always nice to have a spare eyelash curler and this one feels surprisingly good quality. The lifestyle extra is a sachet of EBOOST natural energy booster. From what I can gather, this is basically a posher version of Berocca. It's completely natural and promises to boost your energy without making you crash like other some products. I'm curious to see if this works any better than my usual coffee and energy drinks. 

All in all, I'm pretty thrilled with this box. It's a really strong box with a great mix of generously sized products from some exciting brands. Foundation aside, every product is something that I'm looking forward to trying out which is what beauty boxes should be all about. I'm already looking forward to the March box, I just hope it arrives on time!

Birchbox is £10 a month plus £2.95 postage and packaging. You can subscribe here.
And Katie © // QUINN CREATIVEs