Travel Bucket List

Friday, March 31, 2017
Image from Escape Button Blog via Pinterest
During my childhood I was lucky enough to travel around the UK with my parents, sister and friends to Dorset, Cornwall and London in the south of England to York, Oban, Llandudno, Dublin and Scottish islands including the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Arran in the North and West of the UK. Also during my teens I visited a fair amount of Europe countries such as Finland, Russia, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Sweden, Estonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Denmark - cruises are an amazing way to visit a lot of countries in a short space of time.

However, there are still so many places on my travel bucket list that I want to visit and this year I will be able to tick of another from my list. There are certain places that I don't want to visit but the lists of destinations that I really want to travel to is very long but here are some of the top places on my list! No, I haven't been looking on travel sites at holidays and deals...ok, I have been looking at flight and holiday deals on sunshine.co.uk.

Santorini, Greece
I have visited Athens, Greece once on a cruise with my family about six years ago and loved it and I also loved visiting Crete as well but the once place in Greece that I have been dying to visit is the stunningly beautiful Santorini. A few years ago Santorini was the blogger place to visit, then it was Iceland and now it seems to be Paris.  The pristine white cliffs, beautiful views and sunshine mean that it has been on my list for a while and I definitely need to visit soon!

Paris, France
Speaking of blogger hotspots and you can't not mention Paris! It's been described as the city of love and with all of the amazing architecture and art, it's also one of the most sophisticated, cultured and visited cities. While I have been to Disneyland Paris, I was only about five years old and the only memories I have are of the light parade, mickey mouse butter and my Ariel money box...

Moscow, Russia
If you read the introduction paragraphs to this post you will have seen that I've already listed Russia as a place that I've been lucky enough to visit; however I visited Saint Petersburg about four years ago and adored it even though some experiences were a little tense (the underground and security for example), I still want to visit the capital of Russia, Moscow.

Reykjavik, Iceland 
I've seen so many blogger visit Iceland over the past couple of years and the photos are just stunningly gorgeous especially of the blue lagoon and Reykjavik in general. Just look at the photo of Reykjavik above (I've been going in the clockwise direction) and how you can not want to go there...although maybe not in the middle of winter!
Image from Coffee In The Mountains via Pinterest
 Ottawa, Canada 
Canada is a relatively new addition to my travel list but recently I've been more and more intrigued by it, maybe because I've read a couple of books about Canada this year. There are a few cities that spring to mind when thinking about Canada such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal but I always forgot the capital of Canada, Ottawa.

Edinburgh, Scotland 
Next is a destination a lot closer to home for me and that is the wonderful and historic city of Edinburgh. Throughout my childhood, we've gone on so many camping holidays around the UK at each city we visit, we always visit a castle - I've been to so many, I've lost count! Edinburgh castle is very high on my list of castles to visit.

New York, USA
I have wanted to visit New York for over ten years, since my auntie came back from there with souvenirs for myself and my sister. The big apple looks like such an interesting and vibrant city and top of my list would have to be central park as well as all of the shops including the mothership, Sephora and obviously Bath and Body Works. I'd probably have to take an empty suitcase to bring back all of my purchases!

Bergen, Norway
Last but not least is a place I am actually visiting later this year! We are going on a family cruise with P&O to various places on the Norwegian coast including Bergen and I cannot wait, every time I think about it, I get overly excited. I cannot wait to cruise through fjords and to beautiful Norwegian cities such as beautiful Bergen.

Have you visited anywhere on my travel bucket list? Where do you want to visit? 

*This is a sponsored post 
*Images from Google 

Beauty BLVD Confessions Lip Tints

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Beauty BLVD Confessions Lip Tints
When spring comes around I always reach for tinted lip balms to add a hit of fresh colour as well as moisture that my lips need all year round. I have been loving the Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment which is so incredibly moisturising and I love the shade. So when I received this set of equally gorgeous lip tints from Beauty BLVD, the creators of the famous Glitter Lips, I was excited to give them a go. 
Beauty BLVD Confessions Lip Tints

Let's start with the packaging, the box they come in is gorgeous but the tubes...not so much as to me they look a little cheap. The tints are part of the new Confessions range which also includes an interesting lip mask. There are three lip tint shades available, the first is 01 Lust. 

As the name would suggest, each lip tint is composed of three individual shades and for the Lust shade that includes a warm coral, blue toned pink and a deep purple. When swatched it shows the shades individually and when applied to the lips, the three shades blend easily together to create a pretty blue toned pink tint that is very natural. The formula is very smoothing and moisturising so it's great for those, like me, with consistently dry lips. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.


Again, the shades are split into three and for the shade Envy that includes a terracotta shade, deep purple and hot pink which combine on the lips to create a similar shade to the first but it's a little less blue and slightly more pigmented. I think this one is definitely my favourite shade of the three, mainly because it's a 'my lips but better' shade so it goes with any makeup look and it feels so moisturising. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5. 
Beauty BLVD Confessions Lip Tints
Top to Bottom: 03, 02, 01 

The final shade is the warmest toned tint of the three and it's also the most bright lip tint too which makes this one my least favourite as I'm not a fan of bright shades although it would be perfect for spring/summer. The Pride shade consists of a beige, brown toned rose and a bright coral pink shade that when applied to the lips is a vibrant coral pink that I think will be a hit with so many but sadly I'm not one of them. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5. 

Overall, all three shades are subtle but still noticeable and they would be perfect for everyday wear, particularly for spring/summer. They are very smoothing, moisturising, lightweight and comfortable on the lips. I'd definitely recommend all three as they're so pretty and great if you have permanently dry lips as they gloss over any dry areas. My only problem is the slightly cheap looking tube, the lid doesn't stay on 100% so it can't really be a handbag staple and the obviously as it's a tint, it doesn't last very long but the moisturising and smoothing effects do which is fantastic! 

What do you think of these lip tints? Have you tried these tints, the lip mask or the glitter lips? 

Movie Night In with the Amazon Fire TV Stick

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
When thinking about relaxing, unwinding or spending time with family and friends, movie days or nights are at the top of my list. Spending time with family and friends with a good film or tv series and treats such as pizza, popcorn, chocolate, hot chocolate or cake is one of the social situations I find the most comforting and relaxing.

While I love watching the same films and tv shows again and again *cough Harry Potter cough*, I do like to change up when I'm watching, especially with other people as I'm sure they don't want to watch the same films over and over. So when I received the *Amazon Fire TV Stick to test out, I was very excited as it not only opened up a wider range of tv shows and films to watch but it was also a great excuse to have more movie nights! The Amazon Fire TV Stick I have now isn't available as far as I know but it will be replaced with an all new Amazon Fire TV Stick which will be released on the 6th April.

I'm sure you've all heard of the Amazon Fire TV Stick but if not, here's an explanation: it's a memory stick looking device that when connected to your TV via a HTMI port and additional cables which are provided, you can watch movies and TV that are exclusive to Amazon through Amazon Prime (if you pay £79 per year) but you also have assess to catch up TV channels such as BBC iPlayer, ITV player, Sky News and more. The main reason I wanted to give it a go is because you can view Netflix via the stick.

As with most people who have access to the internet, I am a bit obsessed with Netflix and the amazing TV series and movies available at a cost of around £5.99 per month. I've had Netflix for so long now and I love being able to watch it via the Amazon Fire TV Stick as there is so much choice. Here are some of my current favourite Netflix TV shows/movies:
As you can tell, I like all of the happy TV shows and movies...not! If you are into crime dramas then definitely check out Whitechapel, How To Get Away With Murder (which is my current obsession), The Killing (either the American or Danish version) or Shetland (which always makes me want to visit Shetland). If you like more paranormal TV shows then you need to watch Stranger Things, just click off now and watch it! Lastly, if like me you have a slightly dark, dry sense of humour then watch What We Do In The Shadows which is a comedy, horror mockumentary although I could see why some people really wouldn't like it!

Since receiving and using the Amazon Fire TV Stick, we are considering cancelling Sky as it's really expensive and we're loving using the TV Stick as it is so easy to navigate, there are so many app choices (the catchup channels for example) and even though there were a couple of minor problems while setting it up, they all fixed themselves and it's been more used the Sky box. It is perfect for TV or movie nights with friends and family because it's so easy to use and find what you want (and you can fast forward or rewind REALLY quickly as well as pause) but also because there is so much choice if you have Netflix or Amazon Prime - if you don't then it will only be useful for catchup channels. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Do you have the Amazon Fire TV Stick? Do you have Netflix? If so, what are your favourite TV shows and movies to watch? 

*The images used are from Google and Pinterest 
*This is NOT a sponsored post 

March Reading Roundup ft. BookBeat

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
March Reading Wrap-up 2017
Last months reading was amazing as I read nine books/novellas/short story collections and I started a couple of my March books last month too so it was fantastic considering that before February I did have quite a few reading slumps. Sadly reading slumps have been affecting my reading in March and I think it's mainly because of The Spy Of Venice which has taken me all month to get through 47% of when it would usually only take me two weeks at the very most. Anyway, let's get on with my reading wrap-up for March:

*The Spy Of Venice by Benet Brandreth - DNF
This book looked and sounded like something I'd adore as it's historical fiction involving Shakespeare on an adventure in Europe which is why I requested it and I was lucky enough to receive a physical copy but sadly it wasn't for me. I found the writing easy to read and follow on the whole but I just didn't want to pick it up, it was taking me so long to make any kind of progress and to be honest it was quite boring, in my opinion. I gave it the best chance I could as I've been trying to read it and finish it ALL month but I just can't so I'm not going to finish it and I can't really rate it but from reading half of the book I wouldn't recommend it.

Tales of Beedle and The Bard by J.K Rowling - ★★★★★, 5/5
To get out of my reading slump there have been two things that have helped, the first are shorter books. If you've watched the Harry Potter films or read the books then you will know about the tale of the three brothers and the elder wand, invisibility cloak and resurrection stone that make up the Deathly Hallows which is just one of the stories in this book, which in the Harry Potter world is told to young wizard children. I adore the cover and the small illustrations; I also loved Albus Dumbledore's notes and thoughts on each story at the end of each short story in the book. They obviously aren't the Harry Potter stories, they are still magical and wonderful. As with our traditional fairytales and folk tales, they try to teach you a lesson about good and evil for example. I definitely recommend reading the short collection especially if you're trying to get out of a reading slump as I read this book in an evening.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury - ★★★★★, 5/5
I'd heard of this book awhile ago as a classic American childrens story and as I love anything to do with Halloween I knew I had to read it! The book follows a group of friends as they go trick-or-treating and they meet an unusual…thing, they have many adventures on Halloween night and learn a thing or two about the origins of Halloween around the world and themselves. I adored the writing style which is so poetic, lyrical and enchanting so much so that I've now bought two more of his books as I just love his writing and I think he'll become one of my favourite authors. I also love the illustrations in this book! I knew I should've left it until Halloween as it would be amazingly atmospheric and nostalgic to read then but I just couldn't wait as I needed a short book to get me out of this reading slump and it definitely did! READ IT NOW!

The Worrier's Guide To Life by Gemma Correll - ★★★☆☆, 3/5
I come across Gemma's illustrations everywhere as they are so relatable and funny so when I saw this e-book a while ago, I had to buy it and I've only just got round to reading it...well looking through it as it's an illustrated book. I adore the illustrations, they're so relatable and I think it would make a great book to gift to people who love her illustrations or illustrated books. However, it was shorter than I thought it would be and just a little meh, if I'm completely honest but I did still enjoy it.
March Reading Wrap-up 2017
Now, audiobooks, they have been on my bookish radar for a year or so and I have wanted to try them out but I didn't know if I'd get on with them, if I would be able to concentrate as much as if I was actually reading and to be honest it seemed a little like cheating. However, I kindly given a free subscription to a new audiobook service, BookBeat. You can get a FREE one month trial using the following link.

I was a little apprehensive at first but the app was quick and easy to download and it's easy to navigate. I found a lot of books, mostly non-fiction that I wanted to listen to so I started with a series called History in an Hour. 

*Stalin by Rupert Colley - Narrated by Jonathan Keeble - ★★★★☆, 4/5
As I love Russian history I chose to listen to this audiobook first which is created by HarperCollins. I like the narrator, he seemed like a generic documentary narrator and I liked the audiobook as a whole as it was very easy to get through, entertaining and interesting although to be honest it didn't really tell me much more than that I already knew about Stalin. However as my first ever audiobook I was impressed with how much I could focus and listen to it while also taking photographs and editing them.

*Stephen Fry Presents A Selection of Anton Chekhov's Short Stories - ★★★★☆, 4/5
The second audiobook I tried had to be narrated by Stephen Fry as I adore him and his voice! I chose a short story collection he narrates by Anton Chekhov, sticking with the Russian theme. There were about six or seven short stories on the audiobook all of which were entertaining, interesting and with Stephen Fry's voice they were pleasure to listen to. There are set in Russia and involve relationships, poverty and unrequited love which isn't usually my thing but I did enjoy listening to the short stories; however they were quite melancholy and not very uplifting or enjoyable in the sense that they were light entertainment, if that makes sense! I now want every audiobook to be narrated by Stephen Fry.

*Sherlock Holmes - The Adventure Of The Lions Mane and Other Stories - Narrated by Christopher Lee - ★★★★☆, 4/5
I have read two of the full Sherlock Holmes books, including A Study In Scarlet and The Sign of the Four both of which I loved so I wanted to carry on with the series. There are only four full length Sherlock Holmes books but there are many short stories including these which I hadn't heard of until I saw the audiobook on BookBeat. I loved Christopher Lee as the narrator although as I'm used to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, Christopher Lee's Sherlock Holmes did take a little getting used to. For all of the audiobooks so far I have been able to listen to them fully within a day while I'm baking, cooking, tidying, dying my hair, taking photographs or editing them and this one was the same. 

The audiobook contains four short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and they all had the same Sherlock Holmes feel to them although not as much as the more well known stories. My favourite was either The Adventure of the Three Garridebs or The Problem of Thor Bridge. I think Christopher Lee does an amazing job of giving the characters personality and individual voices and I definitely enjoyed this audiobook. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Currently Reading: I am currently trying to make my way through Earth by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Linda Elkins-Tanton but it's a bit disappointing and not what I was expecting. I was expecting a factual but interesting book about the earth but all it seems to be are conversations between the two authors and a more philosophical look at the earth which I'm not really enjoying; hence why I have picked it up for weeks. 

Currently Listening: I am now onto my fourth audiobook of the month which is amazing and it is bumping up the number of read books for the GoodReads reading challenge - thankfully audiobooks count as otherwise I'd be very behind. I am loving Victorians Undone by Kathryn Hughes, narrated by Jenny Funnel. I adore non-fiction books about history, particularly when they are unusual and this one is. It looks at the physical appearance of famous people and their contemporaries in the Victorian era including Queen Victoria and Charles Darwin. I will have a full review at the end of April but so far I adore it! 

Have you read any of these books? Do you listen to audiobooks? Will you be using the one month free BookBeat trial? 

Loreal Colorista: Brunette to Pink

Monday, March 27, 2017
Loreal Colorista: Brunette to Pink - Heather Nixon - ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
I have wanted dip dyed ends for so long, I wanted ombre hair for years but more recently the idea of pink hair has been on my mind constantly so when I saw the advert for these new Loreal Colourista wash out dyes, I had to try them!

However, as I have dark brown hair with red undertones, that makes it a little more difficult. I first bought the Garnier Nutrisse Truly Blonde D+++ Maximum Lightener Dye from Boots and applied it to the last two to three inches of my hair for the dip dyed effect. I'd love to say that it worked really well but it didn't; it made the ends of my hair ginger even though on the box it shows the dark brown hair being lifted to a much lighter shade than I achieved. So I then opted for the Jerome Russell B Blonde Max Lift 40 Volume Peroxide Powder and the Jerome Russell B Blonde High Lift Powder Bleach which you have to mix together (you can't just use one of the two, they have to be combined) and it worked so well as you can see below. Thankfully neither bleach left my hair damaged or dry as I was expecting!
Loreal Colorista: Brunette to Pink - Heather Nixon - ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
The Jerome Russell bleach lifted my hair much more so much so that it was mostly a strawberry blonde shade with lighter more straw coloured areas as you can see from the final bleach process above. I didn't want to bleach my hair a third time in one week and I also didn't know which toner to buy or even if it was worth it as I was adding a bright colour on top of the lightened ends. So I added the Loreal Colorista Semi Permanent Dye in Dirty Pink to the ends of my dry hair the next day and...it kind of worked as you can see from the above photo. It dyed some areas of my hair a lovely shade of pink but other areas were peachy or orange which I didn't like so I applied the second half of the bottle to my hair again the same day, it doesn't have bleach or ammonia in it so it's fine!
Loreal Colorista: Brunette to Pink - Heather Nixon - ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
After the second application of pink dye, it came out so much better! My hair, as you can see above, is the final result and is mostly a gorgeous metallic rose pink shade which I adore (it looks stunningly metallic in the sunlight) but it does still have some peachy tones in it - I don't mind them now as it blends nicely into the pink and it much more subtle than it was after the first application of pink dye. FYI: You have to saturate the hair really well for it to show up well and it only dyed the blonde areas of my hair, not the brunette hair.

The application of the Garnier bleach (which I wouldn't recommend), the Jerome Russell bleach (which I definitely would) and the Loreal Semi Permanent Colorista Dye was very easy and almost fuss free. I did the whole process over four days which probably wasn't the best idea but my hair is in surprisingly fantastic condition especially as I've been using a lot of moroccan oil on it since.

It's now been about a week since I started this process and four washes since I applied the Loreal Dirty Pink Dye and it's still going strong. It isn't quite as bright as it was but it is now a beautiful peachy rose shade which looks metallic and almost rose gold in some situations. I couldn't be happier with my hair and I am now looking at other shades I want to dye the ends; I'm thinking either lavender or blue! If you have any semi permanent dye or toner recommendations then let me know! Finally here are a few tips which have helped me as a bleach and coloured dye beginner:

- Make sure you have a lot of gloves and tin foil on hand as they help to protect your hands and the tin foil is perfect for keeping the hair contained and covered while the bleach and dye is working

- Do your research before you start and maybe just do a stand test or dip dye the very ends before applying more as you don't end up with all of your hair shade you don't want or very damaged

- If the gloves I have are too big then I put a hair tie/bobble around my wrist to stop them coming off but make sure it isn't too tight!

- No matter how careful you are with any dye, it will usually get on your skin somewhere and I find that micellar water or micellar wipes are perfect for removing dye from the skin

What do you think of my dip dyed pink hair? Have you tried any semi permanent hair dyes? 

Vegan Chocolate + Raspberry Muffins

Saturday, March 25, 2017
Vegan Chocolate + Raspberry Muffins
It's almost easter and usually that means scoffing easter eggs and chocolate in general at any possible moment but as I'm now vegan, that's a little more difficult. However, my solution is to make some lovely vegan chocolates and chocolate muffins myself to satisfy my sweet cravings and to take part in the chocolate indulgences of easter with everyone else.

I have featured and raved about the brand Indigo Herbs on my blog and now I'm lucky enough to work with them again for this recipe and easter chocolates. I was very kindly sent the *Indigo Herbs Easter Raw Chocolate Making Kit (£19.99) which is 100% vegan as well as pure, using botanical ingredients without any additives.

The Indigo Herbs Easter Chocolate Making Kit contains all four ingredients that you will need to make the chocolates as well as an exclusive easter chocolate mould that features cute eggs, bunnies and ducks to eat individually or to decorate cakes and muffins with. I've made their chocolates before and this second time round was just as easy! The only thing the kit doesn't come with is a thermometer which you do need to make sure the water is the correct temperature but other than that it is an all inclusive kit that is a little time consuming but it's so worth it as the chocolate are so heavenly, rich and indulgent!
Vegan Chocolate + Raspberry Muffins
I have made a lot of chocolate cupcakes, cakes and muffins before but when it comes to vegan chocolate muffins, not so much. I have adapted a recipe I found on Essential Vegan UK to make this one that features cocoa powder and raspberry powder! Here are the ingredients you'll need to make these muffins:

- 2 cups of plain white flour
- 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup of raspberry powder
- 1 cup of light brown sugar
- 1 3/4 cups of oat milk (you could use almond milk)
- 1/2 cup of sunflower oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder

Optional: vanilla essence (1 teaspoon), vegan chocolate chips (1 cup) or nuts of your choice (1/2 cup). This recipe take about 25/30 minutes total and makes twelve medium sizes muffins but you could add more mixture into each case to make bigger muffins but fewer of them.

Step One: 

Preheat your oven to approximately 190 degrees celsius (fan oven/setting). In a large bowl or kitchenaid sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cocoa powder and raspberry powder and mix to combine.

Step Two: 

Add in the oat milk and oil (and chocolate chips, nuts or vanilla if you want to add them) to the dry ingredients and mix well but don't over mix; however you don't want lumps of flour!

Step Three:

Add your paper muffin cases (I used tulip muffin cases) to a muffin tray and add in your mixture to approximately just over half full. You could add more or less mixture depending on how big you want your vegan chocolate and raspberry muffins to be. Bake for about 20-25 minutes but keep an eye on them and check with a cocktail stick and if it comes out clean then they are baked.
Vegan Chocolate + Raspberry Muffins
The muffins turned out so well as did the gorgeous chocolates that non-vegan adore too so I'll definitely be making these again. I wasn't going to make frosting as you don't usually with muffins but I had excess melted vegan chocolate so I made a delicious *if I do say so myself* chocolate frosting. As with every frosting I make, it's complete made up as I go! For this one I used about one cup of melted vegan chocolate combined with 3/4 cup of vegan margarine, 3/4 cup of icing sugar and a splash of water.

I ate two muffins before I managed to get to my camera as they were so yummy! The frosting is heavenly, chocolately and rich so much so that you would never know that it's vegan - it is the same for the chocolate as non-vegans said they wouldn't know that they were dairy free. Due to the raspberry powder, they have a unique flavour that is moreish and chocolatey but it also has a slight raspberry flavour which I adore as raspberries and chocolate are a perfect duo for me. I can't wait to use the *Indigo Herbs Raspberry Powder (£6.49, 50g) again in a recipe or in smoothies!

As I made twelve, well ten when I finished scoffing them, I gave them to my mum to take into work as they were having a bake sale at the primary school I went to, to raise money for a child at the school with cancer so these muffins raised a little money and everyone loved the muffins and chocolates so I will definitely make more to sell.

Have you tried any vegan chocolate? What do you think of these muffins and the chocolate kit?

Book Tour: Those Who Lie

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Book Tour: Those Who Lie

Todays post is quite exciting as it's not only a thriller review but it's also the first book tour that I'm part of! If you've read my other book reviews then you'll know that I love thrillers as they are usually  quick, easy and entertaining reads and this one is no different - despite the difficult, sensitive topics. I have a kindle copy of *Those Who Lie by Dianne Jeffrey which is categorised as a thriller, mystery and crime novel. It was published by HQ Digital back in January and it is approx. 233 pages. 

Emily Klein doesn’t know she has killed her husband until the day of his funeral. At first, signs point to a tragic accident. Yet, as Emily pieces together the events before his death – events which led to her own memory loss – she begins to suspect that her husband’s death may have been the result of more than a terrible twist of fate… But the accident is only the beginning. Because while Emily’s physical scars will heal, the trauma of the accident has awakened old ghosts. She hears strange sounds, catches things that can’t possibly be there in the corner of her eye. Before long, everywhere she looks, she seems to see her husband. And suddenly, Emily finds herself asking the most dangerous question of all.

Let's start with the writing style, for me was very quick and easy to read even though the main topics are quite sensitive and potentially trigging such as rape, family issues, murder, mental illness and more so if you don't want to read about any of those topics for whatever reason then maybe don't read this book. The rape within the book as well as other issues and points that develop and reveal themselves throughout the book were a surprise to me and I think they will be for other readers so I just wanted to warn potential readers. I think books that involve triggering topics such as self harm, mental illness and rape, for example, need to be mentioned on the back of the book or the beginning of an e-book. 

Now onto the storyline, I liked the mystery elements of finding out what happened in the accident, who is responsible, what happening in Emilys past and her relationships, it was the most compelling part of the book. The revelations throughout the book kept me guess for the most part and allows you to try and figure out what is happening for yourself. I kind of predicted some of the revelations so you weren't as impactful for me but it was still an entertaining (if very disturbing at times) journey. 

There are a few unlikeable characters and a lot of characters you don't know whether to trust or believe. I liked the main character and her friends although the parents are another story...The unreliable characters/main character as well as the 'looking over your shoulder', mystery element of this book reminded me a little bit of Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitez but Nightwalker is much darker although both have that mystery and disturbing qualities to them. 

Overall, despite the difficult and disturbing elements, unreliable characters and air of mystery and looking over your shoulder, I did enjoy this book. It's a very quick and easy book to get through and I think if you are into your crime, thriller and mystery novels then you'll like this but do be aware of the sensitive and potentially trigging topics throughout the book! Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3.5/ 5. 

Have you read this book (it's only 99p as a kindle/e-book copy)? Do you like thrillers/crime novels? 

Osmology Candle Boutique

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
We all know that that I adore candles, I always have one burning as they instantly make a room so much cosier, comfy and homely, to me anyway! I have tried countless brands and online stores so when a new online candle store opens, I'm all over it. Osomology have just launched their new online candle store TODAY!

Osmology is an online candle boutique, it's the UK's first dedicated online boutique candle store and they have created a speial candle with the candle company, The Nomad Society for the launch and it's glorious. I was very kindly sent *The Nomad Society x Osmology Candle (£15, 126ml) which is such an incredibly fresh, green scent that is perfect for spring. The candles features notes of leafy ferns and fresh wet moss, I can't describe fully how heavenly it smells! It actually smells a little similar to a L'Occitane candle I had years ago called vert or green tea vert, something like that and I adored it too.
As well as the divine scent *can you tell that I'm running out of beautiful adjectives to describe the scent?* the packaging is stunning and minimal which you know is my thing. The brown glass, which looks amber when the candle is lit as well as the brow paper label makes me think of victorian apothecary bottles and jars so now I love it even more.

The candle has a single wick and it burns really evenly so there is no tunnelling or wasted wax which is great and it's a problem I get with most candles, even my Yankee Candles. The scent is subtle when it's lit which is a shame as it's so gorgeous, I want the whole house to smell of this candle. It has a approximate burn time of 20 hours and I could get through it really quickly but I'm trying to savour it; however when it is finished, I'm definitely going to re-use the glass jar!

Overall, I adore this exclusive handmade candle as the scent is so fresh and spring-like and the packaging is very instagramable! It burns evenly and looks amazing when it's lit as the jar looks like it's made out of amber. The only downside is the scent isn't very strong, although I'd definitely still recommend it! I now have a very long candle wish list! Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Definitely check out the brand new Osmology candle boutique site as I'm sure you'll find something...or ten times that you will want to buy. Also if you order by 3pm this Friday then your order will arrive before Mother's Day! I have a 15% off discount code for you to use at the checkout: OSMOLOGY15D.

What do you think of their new website? Have you tried any of the candles on there? What do you think of this candle? 

Blogging: Then + Now

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Blogging: Then + Now
Today's post is about some of the changes that I've noticed throughout my almost five years of blogging *my little blog will be five in May, I feel like a proud parent!*. It's a collaborative post with The Lifestyle Blogger UK; this is not a sponsored post.

Ok, I started blogging in 2012 and I started because I was procrastinating from university essays, as you do and at the time I was constantly watching beauty 'gurus' on youtube, most of which had blogs so I thought I'd give it a go as I was already writing and earning Amazon vouchers on review websites such as Dooyoo and Ciao so a blog was a natural progression for me. At first it was all about writing beauty reviews, you can go back through my reviews to see my earliest and most cringing posts *they are all very cringingly embarrassing, especially the photo quality!*.

For the first two years of blogging I had absolutely no idea what to do, I didn't even know there was a blogging community five years ago, SEO was a completely foreign concept to me and I was studying at university full time so I didn't put nearly as much time, energy or effort into my blog then as I do now. I feel as though blogging five years ago was such a unknown concept to everyone, even bloggers as it was so new and it definitely wasn't viewed by brands or the media as a useful tool for advertising or promotion as it is now.

My first brand collaboration was such an exciting prospect and I know it was around the time that my blog turned two years ago or just after. It was squealing out loud level exciting about collaborating with a brand for the first time and no I didn't think I'd be the next Zoella, mainly as Zoella wasn't the mega youtuber back then as she is now and secondly as that wasn't my aim. My main aim at that time was graduating with the best grade I could, which I did, if you're wondering *go me!*.

It's only in the past two years that I've taken my blog seriously and considered it as a kind of business, albeit a very small one. I've been buying my own domain name every year since, I put so much time and effort not just into my blog but in learning and reading about all of the other aspects that make up blogging, contrary to popular and ignorant beliefs, it's not all taking pretty pictures and writing about lipsticks but it's learning to use a DSLR which isn't easy, it's learning how to network, communicate with brands/PRs, learning to use social media to your advantage and making your blog stand out in a sea of blogs. It's also about writing skills, how to edit photos, connecting with other bloggers and readers, working with brands and trying to unravel the complexity of SEO, blog analytics and everything else non-bloggers don't have a clue about.

I think even in the five years that I've been blogging, it has changed so much that it's almost unrecognisable from what it once started as and bloggers who have been doing this longer than me will probably agree. I think the change from wholesome, raw and unedited *kind of* writing and thoughts to a more brand orientated, view count obsessed and numbers game style of blogging has it's bad points and good points too. Blogging will always have to change, as any industry does and whether you like the changes or you think it has ruined blogging, that's your opinion but what I think is that the brand focused side of blogging has opened the door to a new and exciting media, one that's more human compared to older print media that is just a faceless and expensive glossy magazine.

I am so grateful for the amazing opportunities, products and emails I've had from super lovely PRs and I'm really proud of my little blog which has grown so much in five years - I had no idea when I started that I will have worked with Harrods, Newlook, Boots, Debenhams, House of Fraser and so many other incredible brands! There are so many amazing blogger opportunities out there now, which can be a double edged sword but I think it's amazing how many brands and the media are finally looking to bloggers although there are still some that mock blogging as the new media on the block that isn't as formal, structured or traditional as other forms of established media. Blogging is such a fast pace, dynamic new media that I think the world is finally recognising, although I still have moments where I have to explain what a blog is to people...

There are so many options for bloggers to connect with brands and have amazing opportunities and if they come your way why not take them! I'm all for bloggers working with brands and earning money, as long as bloggers are clear and honest about it. One of my current favourite sites for great blogging opportunities is definitely The Lifestyle Blogger UK website which has such an easy, no-fuss way of allowing brands to connect with bloggers and for bloggers to apply for amazing campaigns with brands such as Superdrug; definitely check out their site!

Have long have you been blogging? What are the main changes you've noticed in the blogging world? What do you think about the more brand focused nature of blogging now or is that not what you've experienced? 

Mother's Day: Monsoon + Accessorize Fragrances

Monday, March 20, 2017
Mother's Day: Monsoon + Accessorize Fragrances
Mother's Day in the UK is this Sunday so there's still time to pick up a gift! I'm super organised, probably overly organised, so I have already wrapped my mums presents ready for Sunday. There are safe and easy gifts to give and for my mum that includes any kind of lovely pampering products or fragrances; I definitely take after my mum when it comes to loving fragrances!

I was very kindly sent a couple of fragrances from Monsoon/Accessorize which I haven't tried before and to be honest I didn't know either brand actually made fragrances! I think both fragrances would make lovely gifts on their own or a part of a beauty hamper for Mother's Day. 
Mother's Day: Monsoon + Accessorize Fragrances
 *Accessorize Lovelily EDP (£19, 75ml)
Let's start with the most inexpensive and also the most unique, in terms of the pretty spring like bottle. The box is so bright, colourful and floral as is the bottle which has a pink flower almost persevered looking in the lid - I love the bottle, it's also quite heavy so it's more of a substantial present.

The fragrance contains notes of: raspberry, orange, jasmine and sweet vanilla, all notes I adore in fragrances. The fragrance to me isn't very unique, I have to admit but it is gorgeous and perfect for spring. It is a very uplifting, sweet and feminine fragrance that I could see as a young adult fragrance but I don't think that fragrances should have ages attached to them as you should be able to wear whatever you want!

It is initially very sweet and floral but it becomes a more creamy, vanilla heavy fragrance which I love as vanilla is one of my favourite fragrance notes - it's so warming, comforting and familiar as a fragrance note. I think this inexpensive fragrance would make a great gift as an everyday fragrance. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
Mother's Day: Monsoon + Accessorize Fragrances
*Monsoon Rose Gold EDP (£24, 30ml)
The second fragrance will definitely be a blogger favourite as it's rose gold and such a photogenic product! Anyway, this fragrance isn't as inexpensive as the sweet Lovelily fragrance but it is still a great deal compared to other fragrances on the market. I love the bottle of this perfume as it's so simple but beautiful on my vanity; the box is also gorgeous with rose gold detailing *I'm a sucker for anything rose gold*.

The fragrance contains notes of: lemon, tuberose, neroli, rose, vanilla, musk and amber; again all of which sound perfect! This fragrance is much more musky, sophisticated and floral compared to Lovelily and I think my mum would adore this fragrance! It is richly musky and floral but not overly so that it could only be an evening fragrance. I love both but I think this one is winning out! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Overall, considering this is my first foray into highstreet fragrances and in particular offerings from Accessorize/Monsoon, I'm pleasantly surprised. They both look pretty on my vanity, they are both very inexpensive and they last for a good few hours on me, the winner in terms of staying power is the gorgeous Rose Gold fragrance. I'd recommend both, either for yourself or as a gift this upcoming Mother's Day!

Have you tried either of these fragrances? What perfumes are you loving right now? 

DHC Double Protection Mascara

Sunday, March 19, 2017
DHC Double Protection Mascara
When it comes to the one product in my makeup bag that I can't live without I'd usually say foundation but since sticking to a vegan diet, my skin and eczema is so much better and I couldn't be happier with my skin so I'd like to change my answer to mascara. Foundation, mascara and brow pencil are three products that can instantly change your appearance and in my case, my mood. I couldn't think of going out without at least some foundation, brow pencil and mascara!

However, there is one downside to mascara...taking it off! I have sensitive eyes and all of the mascaras that I have ever used have been a bit of a pain to remove at the end of the day or they can feel really heavy on my lashes with just one coat. In comes, DHC to the rescue *cue the superhero music*.

DHC is a Japanese skincare and makeup brand that I've tried a couple of products from in the past but this is the first makeup item and I'm impressed! The *DHC Double Protection Mascara (£15.90, 5g) is Emma Watson's favourite mascara as revealed in a recent interview as she says it's gentle, comes off with warm water and she likes the mascara brush (interview with www.intothegloss.com).
DHC Double Protection Mascara
I like the packaging, it's very lightweight so it would be perfect for travelling and I'll probably take it to York with me next month. I also love the brush, it is very thin compared to all of the other gigantic mascara wands on the market now which means that it can get right down to the roots of the lashes and into the hard to reach corners easily.

It instantly gives my lashes a very fluttery, natural and wispy appearance which I love for everyday but if you are used to massive lashes then this won't be for you. One of the main points I love about this mascara is that you have time and the right brush to really apply it well and right into the lashes. I find it is long wearing and it is easy to remove although it comes off in flakes on me which isn't fantastic; however it doesn't flake throughout the day and it is almost unnoticeable feeling on the lashes which is a big plus for me as other mascaras weight my lashes down so much that I can see my  heavy clumpy lashes constantly, like my own blurry filter.

Overall, I'm loving this mascara for how lovely it is to apply and how it gives my lashes a naturally fluttery look that lasts all day. I also like the packaging and how gentle it is on my eyes as well as how easy to is to remove compared to my other mascaras which I need to scrub at my eyes to remove! The only negatives for me is that the price is higher than my usual hughstreet mascaras and when removing it does come off in flakes. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you tried Emma Watson's favourite mascara or anything from DHC? What is your current favourite mascara? 

The Body Shop Almond Milk + Honey Range

Friday, March 17, 2017
The Body Shop Almond Milk + Honey Range
The Body Shop has been one of my favourite brands for ten years now, I always adored their lip butters and shower gels as well as their now nostalgic shimmer cubes! The new ranges they have been bringing out over the past few years have just been perfect, I loved the virgin mojito range from a couple of years ago. 

The latest offering is the Almond Milk and Honey range which is designed for dry and sensitive skin; it contains organic almond milk from Spain and community fair-trade honey from Ethiopia. I was kindly sent some of the range to try out including their famous body butters and hand creams.
The Body Shop Almond Milk + Honey Range
*The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Hand Cream (£4, 30ml)
My hands annoyingly have eczema over them constantly which can be incredibly dry, tight and uncomfortable as well as making me very self conscious so I am always applying hand cream. Some of my favourite hand creams are definitely these from The Body Shop! This hand cream smells sweet but creamy and comforting which I love - I'll go so far as to say that it might be my favourite scent from The Body Shop ever. The texture is lightweight and gel-like but creamy and nourishing which leaves my hands feeling smooth, soft, moisturised and comfortable without irritating my skin. 

*The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Body Butter (£6, 50ml)
As well as the lip butters which were a staple in my makeup bag as a teenager, the body butters have also been a constant in my beauty collection. I currently have around four that I use in rotation and I've used up countless tubs of body butters as well so another is very welcome. Again the scent is heavenly and the body butter has the same creamy, rich and deeply moisturising formula as the others that I love although it isn't a thick so it's perfect for spring. 
The Body Shop Almond Milk + Honey Range
*The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Shower Cream (£2, 60ml)
I've tried so many products from The Body Shop over the years but one I haven't really tried are their shower creams. The shower cream is soap free, very gentle on the skin and also very creamy. I've mainly been using it as a hand wash as it doesn't strip my skin but it still cleanses well and leaves my hands super soft and comfortable. It doesn't lather at all really unlike their shower gels which produce bubbles for days but I think I actually prefer it to shower gels as it's so gentle and nourishing on my dry, sensitive skin. 

*The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Cleansing Bar (£4, 100g)
Cleansing bars are a new product to me, I haven't tried any from The Body Shop so I was interested to give it a go. It doesn't contain colourants, mineral oil or petrolatum. As well as the organic almond milk and fair-trade honey, it also contains fair-trade shea butter from Ghana. Again the scent is divine (I can't get enough of the scent), it's just so lovely to use. I use it in place of the soap I've been using and it works well while leaving my skin soft but not irritated at all. 

Overall, I adore this new range from The Body Shop! It not only smells divine and perfect for spring but all of the products are effective while being nourishing, gentle and moisturising. I also love the packaging! I have eczema on my hands and none of these products have irritated it which is fantastic although come to think of it none of The Body Shop products I've ever tried have irritated my skin! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5. 

Have you tried this range? What are your favourite products from The Body Shop?

First Impressions: Technic Cosmetics

Thursday, March 16, 2017
First Impressions: Technic Cosmetics
Technic Cosmetics is a brand I've seen around for so long but I've never picked up anything so when the lovely people at Technic sent me some of their products to try out, I was excited to give them a go as I love trying new brands, especially brands that are against animal testing like this one! Their products can be bought online via Fragrance Direct, Just My Look, Amazon and Superdrug.

*Technic Eyeshadow Primer (RRP £5.99) 
Let's get the one disappointing product out of the way first! I'm usually not a fan of creamy eyeshadow formulas as they always crease on me so I was initially a little wary but the shade is just gorgeous as you can hopefully see from the swatch below. It's a lovely champagne shade that would be perfect for everyday; however as soon as I applied it to my eyelids, it began to sting so sadly I can't use this product but bear in mind that I do have sensitive skin/eyes! Overall rating: ★☆☆☆☆, 1/5.

*Technic Mega Lash Mascara (RRP £5.99)
Now on a more positive note, the mega lash mascara claims to give 'mega volume' and I find that it definitely does for my lashes! It is so quick and easy to apply with a large plastic bristled brush. My lashes are instantly black, volumised, lengthened and fluttery as well as defined and separated without being clumpy. It also holds a curl pretty well too. It's currently on sale on Fragrance Direct for only £1.99 and it's definitely worth a try! Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
First Impressions: Technic Cosmetics
*Technic Juicy Sticks (RRP £2.99)
The only thing I don't like about these products in general is that they don't seem to have shade names, just a long series of numbers so I can't tell you which shade this is but it's a gorgeous cool toned pinky mauve *I'm awful at describing shades aren't I?!* that would be great for everyday. It's very comfortable, light weight and almost moisturising feeling on the lips. It doesn't highlight dryness and even though the longevity isn't there, it's great for on the go as it's a twist up crayon. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*Technic Get Gorgeous Highlighting Powder in Pink Sparkle (RRP £3.99)
Finally a product shade name and not just a series of numbers! This highlight in the pan looks so beautiful, shimmery and...not very wearable but it looks gorgeous on the skin. Yes, it's not an everyday highlight and for a pink, glittery highlight you wouldn't expect it to be. It is shimmery/glittery but when it catches the light it looks so pretty and iridescent! Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
First Impressions: Technic Cosmetics
*Technic Pro Powder Brush (RRP £4.99)
Now onto the last product and my favourite, the massive fluffy powder brush! I love makeup brushes, I have far too many already but I always seem to think that I need more and more and more. This brush is so smooth and soft and considering how fluffy it is, it's actually quite dense so it can pick up quite a lot of powder which is great for me as I just dust my finishing powder all over my face. I'd definitely be interested to try more of their brushes and their contouring crayons too! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried any products from Technic? What are your favourite inexpensive makeup brands? 

New In: Burts Bees Lipsticks + Crayons

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
New In: Burts Bees Lipsticks + Crayons
Burts Bees is one of my favourite brands, I love their skincare and especially their lip balms which I use on a daily basis. I've already reviewed some of their lip products but they have recently brought out some new lipsticks and new gloss crayons; I was very kindly sent a few to try out!

The new Burts Bees Natural Lipsticks which contain beeswax, moringa oil, raspberry seed oil and vitamin E. There are 18 shades to choose from, all of which claim a 8 hour wear time, and a smooth, satin finish. Not only are the lipsticks natural but the packaging is recycle plastic, so a great natural and ethical choice!
New In: Burts Bees Lipsticks + Crayons
The new lipstick packaging is just gorgeous, unique and so pretty; I love the honeycomb like design on the lid which also shows the shade of the lipstick. The tubes are really lightweight so they'd be great for travelling. I like the packaging of the new Burts Bees Lip Crayons which features a easy to use twist up tube.

The Burts Bees Gloss Lip Crayons contain moisturising shea butter, jojoba oil and kendi oil, as with the lipsticks, these lip crayons are 100% natural. They claim mess proof application, hydration and smooth lips for up to 8 hours and a sheer, glossy finish.
New In: Burts Bees Lipsticks + Crayons
*Burts Bees Gloss Lip Crayon in 432 Bordeaux Vines (£9.99)
I love the bullet style of these lip crayons as they make application smooth, comfortable and light on the lips. The formula is glossy and extremely comfortable as with the lipsticks. The shade Bordeaux Vines is a deep blackberry shade that would be perfect for the colder months. One point that surprised me about these lip crayons is the pigmentation - I thought it would be sheer but as you can see from the photographs, it's far from sheer. The only problem I have with this because of the glossy formula, it is very difficult to get an even application or a neat application around the lip line.
New In: Burts Bees Lipsticks + Crayons
*Burts Bees Natural Lipstick in 502 Suede Splash (£9.99, 3.4g)
I was able to choose a couple of shades from the new range and I'm SO happy with the shades I chose as they are both perfect for everyday and so natural, 'my lips but better' looking. The formula is creamy, pigmented, smooth and comfortable. The shade Suede Splash is the perfect, natural colour is is very similar to my own but glossier and slightly darker. Compared to the similar Blush Basin shade, it's more terracotta and warmer, whereas Blush Basin is much pinker. It's definitely my favourite shade!
New In: Burts Bees Lipsticks + Crayons
*Burts Bees Natural Lipstick in 501 Blush Basin (£9.99)
As with the previous shade, it's perfect for everyday and I know I will get so much use out of both the lipstick shades! The Blush Basin shade will be a hit with everyone I think as it's such a universally flattering natural pink shade that isn't too light, too pink or too bright. Both shades are spring essentials and a lifesaver for my very dry winter lips. The longevity for both is fairly good but it doesn't last incredibly well through eating or drinking.
New In: Burts Bees Lipsticks + Crayons
*Burts Bees Gloss Lip Colour in 413 Pink Lagoon (£9.99)
Now, baby pinks really aren't my thing as against my very pale skin and dark hair it does;t look right and I find that baby pinks and lighter shades can make my teeth look yellow...well, when I say yellow I mean the colour of Jeremy Clarksons teeth *not a good look*. The formula is smooth and comfortable but as with the Bordeaux Vine shade is it a bit patchy, uneven and it also looks slightly chalky on my dry lips. The longevity of the lip colours isn't great as transfer is incredibly easy.

Overall, I adore both of the lipsticks and I cannot recommend them enough! The Suede Splash and Blush Basin shades are perfection! The gloss lip colours on the other hand are a little patchy and they don't have the best longevity, however they're so comfortable, lightweight and moisturising. For the lip colours I'd have to rate them: ★★★☆☆ but for the amazing new lipsticks I'd rate them: ★★★★★, 5/5!

Have you tried anything from Burts Bees? What do you think of the new lip colours and lipsticks? 

Pebblewise Book Subscription Service

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Pebblewise Book Subscription Service
If you didn't know already, I am a book lover! I wasn't always but since last year I have been a little obsessed as I read 79 books last year and my goal for this year is 80 but sadly I'm not currently on target. However, when a new book comes along I just can't say no, so when the lovely people at Pebblewise send over a mystery book I was very excited!

Pebblewise is a family run secondhand bookshop in North Wales and they have two options for online customers. The first is their 'sunshine box' which is a monthly subscription box of a range of items including self care products, gifts, treats and more! The second is the 'wise reads' monthly book subscription box where for only £5 (free postage in the UK) you will receive one mystery secondhand book each month - how amazing does that sound? Also the price is amazing!

After filling out a filling out a form about my bookish interests, I received a mystery book less than a week later which was so exciting! The mystery is one of the reasons I adore subscription boxes and subscription services! The book was well wrapped and packaged and it came with a bookmark so it would make a lovely gift - maybe for Mother's Day which is coming up?
Pebblewise Book Subscription Service
The book I received is just perfect for me as it is an author I've wanted to read for so long and I've heard nothing but amazing things about her novels so I am excited to start this book. Also for me the synopsis is just perfection:

"In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, its owners - mother, son and daughter - struggling to keep pace. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his"

Yes! I love the book already and I haven't even started it! I can't wait to dive into this book and I'm really happy with the quality too - it is in fantastic condition and it is a hardback too which I wasn't expecting. Overall, I couldn't be happier with the service from Pebblewise or the book I received and I cannot recommend them enough if you are looking for a mystery book treat for yourself or someone else! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!

Have you read this book or any by this author? What do you think of this book subscription service? 

NoMakeNoLife February Box 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017
NoMakeNoLife February Box 2017
Today's post is very exciting as it's not just any subscription box but it's a Japanese beauty subscription box! I have been kindly sent the February box so I don't know if this one is still available or not; if you order now then you might get the March box. Each box contains five to seven full sized beauty products handpicked by their in-house beauty consultant - the box will arrive at the end of each month.

The *NMNL February Box ($29.99 per month, free worldwide shipping) I received contained six full sized beauty products ranging from makeup to false lashes, soap and skincare. Some of the products are from brands I haven't heard of but that's one of the great things about subscription boxes, especially ones from another country as you get to try products and brands you might not have otherwise. If you're wondering about the name, let me explain, the phrase 'no make no life' is apparently a popular phrase in Japan by people who think that makeup is an essential and to some extent I definitely agree but it is arguable. Let's move on to the contents of the February box:
NoMakeNoLife February Box 2017
Let's start with my favourite type of products, makeup! There's an eyeshadow palette included in the box, which is available in four shade variations so you may receive a different palette to the one I have. The Zawachin x NOYL Eyeshadow Palette contains a range of colourful and natural shades and the packaging does remind me of makeup I had as a child but the shadows are surprisingly smooth and easy to blend. The natural shades are very pretty on the skin and would be great for everyday even with the fine shimmer.

Next up, Sailor Moon False Eyelashes which again come in a few varieties but I received the Mercury lashes which are gorgeously fluttery with blue tinted outer lashes. There are two pairs included, the seam is very thin so they should be relatively comfortable and I think they would be amazing for halloween! The lashes also come with a little case to keep them in so you can re-use them a couple of times.

The final makeup item is a tube of the Dolly Wink Eyelash Glue which is sweat proof, waterproof, extra durable and gentle on the skin. Out of all the products in this box, Dolly Wink is really the only brand I've heard of. It's a great addition to the box as the lashes themselves don't contain glue and not everyone has eyelash glue in their makeup collection.
NoMakeNoLife February Box 2017
Now onto the three skincare items in the February box, the first is so adorable - Hello Kitty Sakura Facial Masks! The masks contain sakura extract, tea extracts and hyaluronic acid to moisturise as well as Japanese cotton. The best thing about these masks is that the pack contains a whopping eight face masks which is amazing so you can have a pamper evening with friends. Sadly, Hello Kitty isn't printed onto the masks but they are lovely to use when you get the hang of sheet masks.

Another lovely sakura *cherry blossom* product is the Sakura Facial Soap which contains sakura leaf extract. I personally don't use soap on my face as I have eczema but I have been using it as a hand soap and it works so well. It's a pleasantly scented, gentle soap that doesn't irritate my skin.

Last but not least, my favourite item from the box, the Puchi Animal Hand Cream which I received in the sweet green apple scent. How adorable is this hand cream! It has a cute little panda on it! I've been using this hand cream everyday since I received it as it is so moisturising, it smells lovely and it looks so cute on my desk - it also leaves my hands so incredibly soft! There are other scents/animals available such as honey and rose.

Overall, I do think the price is a little high per box but I love the range of products and brands as well as how adorable everything is! I love the hand cream, it's definitely my favourite product from the box along with the false lashes and sakura soap. It arrived quickly and was well packaged - it comes with a booklet in english with information about each product and how to use it. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

What do you think of the NMNL subscription box? Have you tried any of these brands/products? Are you subscribed to any beauty subscription boxes? 

La Roche Posay Lipikar + Cicaplast

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Struggling with dry and eczema prone skin can be extremely difficult physically and mentally and don't get me wrong, there are far, far worse things you could have but it's not easy especially living with eczema on my face and hands for years and it gets worse during the winter months. Even though I'm going through an awful eczema flareup as I'm typing this, I have been lucky enough to find prescription products and skincare that helps and now I have a few more. Also, yes, I did freeze getting this photo in the snow!

*La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume AP+ Anti-Irritation Body Balm (£19.50, 400ml)
The Lipikar range is suitable for atopy-prone skin on babies, children and adults; it doesn't contain fragrance or parabens. Eczema can make my hands extremely dry, annoyingly itchy and irritated so much so that I have to wear cotton gloves to prevent scratching. This gigantic bottle of cream is definitely helping and I know it's going to last a very long time! If I want to use it as a hand cream during the day then I'll only apply a tiny amount but during my evening skincare routine I'll apply a good layer to my hands, massage it in and then put my cotton gloves on to allow the cream to slowly absorb - usually overnight. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*La Roche Posay Lipikar Syndet AP+ Anti-Scratching Cream Wash (£10, 200ml)
I think the names of some of these products would definitely put some people off as it's not very simplistic or inviting! Anyway, I have been using this cream body wash as a hand wash for the past couple of weeks and it has also definitely been helping with the dryness and irritation on my hands. I find that some hand washes can irritate or leave my skin dry and stripped but this one is perfect so I'm going to decant it into my hand wash dispenser (from Ikea, love it) so I can use it daily. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

*La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repair Balm (£16, 100ml)
Now onto the last product which happens to be my favourite of the three that I've kindly been sent! I've heard amazing things about the cicaplast balm in the beauty and blogging world for a year or two. I have been using this balm (FYI when the products I've mentioned says that they're balms, they're actually thick lotions, in my opinion) as an all purpose product on my hands, ears and face, wherever I have extra sore and dry skin *sexy*. I've mainly been applying it in the evening and then in the morning, I find that my skin is definitely better - less dry and less irritated which is amazing although it obviously won't replace my eczema prescription creams but it helps in the meantime. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried any of these products or others from La Roche Posay? What are your winter skincare saviours?