Book Review: American War by Omar El Akkad

Monday, July 31, 2017
www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
Since last year my reading has skyrocketed, I cannot stop reading and I love to read a range of genres from crime and mystery, dystopian and fantasy to magical realism, quirky non-fiction, literary fiction, and YA. It's always so exciting to receive arcs from publishers so when this one arrived, I couldn't wait to read it!

*American War by Omar El Akkar - (352 pages - released on 7/09/2017) - ★★★★★, 5/5

I received a physical ARC from the lovely people at Pan Macmillan/Picador; I love the cover and I couldn't wait to read it as it sounded amazing but also very relevant to the scary times we currently live in. It follows a close knit family in the south of America who are struggling to get by and they want to travel north where they hope to have a better life away from the danger of war, rebel groups and impending bombs/fighting, sound familiar?

The world is set in the not too distant future in the aftermath of a plague caused by a biological weapon and the second American civil war were there's a divide between the north and the south. There are also mentions of suicide bombers in the book as well as refugee camps, not fitting in to a society in which you live, family grief and other issues that are surprisingly relevant in our world now even though this book is an almost dystopian/post apocalyptic novel. The authors sums up the feel of the book well with, "nothing in this book hasn't happened; it just happened to other people and it happened far away". Omar El Akkad is an Egyptian/Canadian journalist who received Canada's National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and his experience and reporting definitely show in book.

I loved the writing, it was a fairly quick to read and I liked flipping from the present to the past which gave insights into how the world came to be as it is now including faux news articles and other snippets of information about the war, people involved and a rather moving speech. Throughout there's a sense of foreboding and a feeling that I didn't want to carry on as I knew it wouldn't end well because how could it?

I found this book so heartbreaking, not just because the characters didn't deserve what happened to them, the awful scenes of war, death and torture or the futility of war and conflict but because these things do happen in our world, sadly it's not confined to fiction. I would definitely recommend this book as it's so devastating and heartbreaking but wonderfully written, touching and raw - it doesn't hold back. I do wish the ending was very different but life doesn't always have a happy ending, does it.

Have you read this book or will you be picking it up? What are you currently reading or planning to read next? 

Summer Bathroom Ideas + Competition

Saturday, July 29, 2017
Image from Fall For DIY
I have been a bit neglectful of my pinterest account recently whereas usually I'm obsessed but when Designer Radiator Showroom got in touch about their new competition, I had to get my pinterest on! They are giving away £250 to spend on Designer Radiator Showroom and you can enter by creating your perfect summer bathroom board on pinterest.

You can find my board above with all of my summer perfect bathroom and design pins! For summer, I definitely prefer green, beachy and clean homeware, designs and styles during the summer months so that's what I've done for with my 'summer bathroom' board.

From the DRS website I chose to include the DRS Gaby Towel Radiator as to me it seemed the most 'natural' and neutral looking of the choices available and I think it would work well in a natural, beachy themed bathroom.

The only requirements to enter are that you create a Pinterest board with the title of #DRSSummerBathroom, you have to use at least one of their product images within the board and you have to be a UK resident over 18 years of age. The competition closes TOMORROW so you have to hurry if you want to enter to win £250 to spend on the Designer Radiator Showroom website!

Will you be entering the DRS Pinterest competition? What would your ideal summer bathroom look like? 

*This is a sponsored post

Book Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Friday, July 28, 2017
As this year marks the 100 year anniversary of the Russian revolution, I wanted to read some Russian literature so why not start with one of the longest and most prolific books...Also I visited Russia a few years ago and loved it so I wanted to read a book partially set in Saint Petersburg which was the city I visited.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy - ★★★★☆, 4/5 (1,215 pages)

War and Peace follows a vast range of characters who are all interconnected as they are either friends, family, colleagues or enemies. It takes place during the early 1800's when Russia and Austria are at war with France and Napoleon. Leo Tolstoy does an incredible job of explaining war, troop movements, the chaos of war and it's effects so well and in a way that is surprisingly enjoyable to read.

We follow so many characters as well as the main characters, therefore it can be confusing to read at times, particularly when it comes to all of the soldiers, emperors and generals as there are a ridiculous amount (and it's difficult to keep track of who is in charge of what regiment etc) but thankfully there's a list of the main characters at the beginning of the book listing the names of the main characters (most characters have numerous names) and their relationships. I feel as though some of the military scenes were a little unnecessary, for example, there's a whole section on how a regiment were wearing the wrong uniform...

The book isn't just about battles, war strategy, troop movements and soldiers expectations of war but it's also about the lives and intermingling relationships between the main characters in terms of young love, family ties and friendship. The main characters such as Prince Andrei and Nikolai Rostov who go off to war are quite interesting characters as they are so naive when it comes to war, they think nothing can hurt them and that they'll be heroes but reality hits them hard!

We also follow the more melancholy life of Pierre as his father is ill, we don't know where all of the father's wealth will go after he has pass away and we deal with the high class of Russian society during balls, dinners and social gatherings. So there is quite a mix of the chaos and tumultuous world of battles, death and the screams of wounded soldiers to lavish banquets with princes, counts and countesses and marriage prospects, wealth and the bourgeois problems that go along with that kind of society and wealth.

I haven't read anything quite like it, especially considering I only fully got back into reading last year after barely reading anything since high school! I know War and Peace is one of the most iconic, classic books but before I started it, I had no idea what it was about apart from the implications of the title and I was so suspired at how much I genuinely enjoyed reading the book, especially the war scenes and the lives of the main characters as they evolve as people, as their lives changes for the better or worse and the twists and turns too. We follow the main characters from the naivety and invincibility of youth to experienced, more real versions of themselves (apart from Natasha who remains the same childish character into adulthood), some change so much that they are nothing like what they were at the beginning of the book.

One thing that definitely helped me get through the book was that I wanted to find out what would happen to the main characters and also because the chapter sections were generally quite short and to me it read like a TV series, each chapter felt like an episode of a TV series, albeit a long and epic TV series with lots of Russian names that I did have some trouble pronouncing! It's more engaging than I thought it would be, whether it's a battle with the french, a tension filled social gathering, the death of family members and transition of wealth and position, drunken shenanigans involving a bear, duelling or marriage proposals, there's always something going on.

I managed to read the first third of the book within a week and it was so motivating seeing my progress (if you follow me on GoodReads then you'll have seen my updates) but then the main battles ended and the book seemed to take lots of tangents involving an overbearing and verbally abusive father, the rich families loosing money and a very odd section about the freemasons and illuminati...the first 40% or so of the book was very interesting, entertaining and fairly quick then the middle (from around 45% to 60%) was slower and not quite as engaging but still enjoyable; then from 70% to the end of the book, oh boy, it felt like a completely different book as it was quite tedious, slow and a slog to get through (although it did have some portions that were interesting and enjoyable). The book started to feel like a textbook towards the end (e.g.: historians said this about Napoleon, history will view this battle in such a way) and it wasn't as enjoyable and the ending, it just ended without a satisfying conclusion. I'm sure there are some philosophical points that went over my head throughout the book as well as military terms but overall I enjoy it and I do want to read more from Leo Tolstoy.

Overall 
Yes, this book is huge at over 1,200 pages and it takes a lot of concentration to read it particularly when you have to keep switching from reading the main text then to the french or german translation in the footnotes. Also it takes so much time and motivation, there are so many characters particularly military characters that it can be a little confusing and I felt as though some of the actions of the characters (soldiers saying they love their emperor and crying because he's so wonderful for example), felt very theatrical rather than realistic. Even though the last 30% was a struggle especially compared to the rest of the book, I would recommend War and Peace, not just for the reading bragging rights but because it's a genuinely epic story of such vast proportions and on the whole it was enjoyable and entertaining. However as the physical book is so huge, it wasn't easy to read it as it is just so heavy so maybe try the e-book but the Vintage edition I have is so beautiful.

Have you read War and Peace or any other famous classics? Have you watched the War and Peace TV show? 

Summer Reading Recommendations

Thursday, July 27, 2017
Since the beginning of last year I have really got back into reading after barely reading any books for the past ten years or so (apart from books for college/university) but now I can't stop. I do prefer to read during the colder months being all cosy with blankets and candles but I have been able to get a lot of reading done in the garden this spring and summer!

Holidays Gems, which is a great site for cheap holidays and last minute holiday deals, challenged me to pick my favourite books of last year and this year that I think would be great summer holiday reads as they are all so enjoyable, fairly quick and easy. They range from interesting and intense thriller mysteries to magical and fantasy options and finally a few quirky non-fiction picks.

Magical & Fantasy Books
Books that are categorised as fantasy, magical realism or any that have a magical element to them are some of my favourites and from these categories I'd have to recommend The Gilded Cage by Vic James (I can't wait for the second book), The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, the later is amazing for any time of the year - read it!

Thrillers & Dystopian
This category is perfect for a beach read as they tend to be very engaging and quick reads and if you are into post-apocalyptic and dystopian books then look no further than The Diabolic by S.J Kincaid, This Savage Song by V.E Schwab (it's a mix between YA fantasy and dystopian to me) and The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey. For thrillers and mysteries with a dark but contemporary edge then check out The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne which has just been released. Another dark read is definitely The Mayfly by James Hazel!

Quirky Non-Fiction
Lastly some non-fiction that is very different and also inspiring; for the inspiring picks you need to read The Women Who Made New York by Julie Scelfo and Triumph and Disaster - Five Historical Miniatures by Stefan Zweig as well as We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. For a very bizarre non-fiction pick, check out The United States of Absurdity by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds which seems very appropriate considering wha happened yesterday in the not so good ol' US of A.

Have you read any of these books? What are you planning on reading this summer? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Google and Netgalley

Things They Don't Tell You When You've Passed Your Driving Test

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Image from Pinterest
Longest blog post title ever? I passed my driving test in December last year which was a massive thing for me and luckily I pass second time round. Yes, passing is down to knowledge and the skill of driving but it's also just as much down to luck on the day, the examiner and so many other factors, some of which are out of your control such as other drivers, pedestrians, unclear road marking or even the weather and your mood. Learning to drive is an essential skill and you learn so much but there are some things they don't tell you:

Driving Alone 
While you are learning to drive, you cannot drive on your own. I drove with my parents and my instructor so driving on my own for the first time was so nerve wracking as I hadn't done it before and you lose that safety net of being able to ask someone questions or having that extra person watching out for dangers. The other thing that is odd that I found about driving on my own is the silence, I was used to my parents talking or my driving instructor asking me questions but on my own there was nothing but the noise of the engine which was so strange at first!

Insurance & Extra Costs
While learning to drive you are covered by your instructors insurance or you can buy learner driver insurance which is what I did but after that it gets so much more expensive. I thought that if you are over 25, which I nearly am, that insurance decreases but it isn't by much! Also I thought that Pass Plus would decrease insurance too but again, it isn't by much at all. Road tax and breakdown cover are also costs that I completely forgot about too. The there's random things like a steering wheel lock, car cleaning products, sunglasses... and of course, petrol.

Car Maintenance 
In the UK as well as learning how to drive you also have to answer some 'show me, tell me' questions about where things are in the car and under the bonnet such as the oil and water, for example. However, you aren't told how to change a tire, change a windscreen wiper, what to do if your car breaks down, how to dispense petrol or how to change a headlight bulb, most of which I've had to do since passing my test. Practical knowledge and skills like that aren't taught and I think they should be!

Becoming A Taxi 
This is an unexpected one but only a week or so after passing my test, I was ferrying my parents around and picking people up and now I know what it was like for my dad to drop me off and pick me up from friends houses, birthday parties and school...I actually like driving on the whole but being a taxi isn't so fun; however it is all good practice and helps build confidence.

Renting A Car & Experience Restrictions 
Once you have passed there are still restrictions, for example, renting a car usually needs 12 months experience of driving before you can rent and sometimes you have to be over 25 too. Also if you are thinking about driving abroad then you might need more experience, you'll have to check specifically for that country as laws and restrictions vary.

Can you drive? What was your experience of learning to drive and passing? Have you experienced any of the points I've mentioned? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest

One + Two Month Update: Love My Skin Laser Hair Remover

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
I have now used this laser hair remover for the past month or so, you can check out my first post about the *Love My Skin Laser Hair Remover (£299) which includes an explantation of how it works and my initial impressions. I have actually noticed some positive results already! I have used the device on my underarms and legs twice so far. I haven't experienced any pain or discomfort while using it so far which I'm very happy about as the other devices I used previously did cause some discomfort.

I have noticed that on my underarms, I have one small patch which no hair growth, it's about the size of a 5p piece - it's amazing (sorry if this grosses any of you out!). I didn't expect to see any progress as soon as I have but I'm not complaining as it's fantastic. I haven't experienced much of a difference on my legs but it's a much larger area so I didn't expect to be able to see small changes straight away but so far so good and I'll definitely continue to use it and you never know, I might notice the full results before my holiday to Norway at the end of august!

For my two month update, I've noticed a little more progress but not as much as the first month. I have noticed that maybe the regrowth is slower and finer which is positive and I can't wait to keep using it and see more progress as it's been great so far! One thing I'm struggling with is making sure that I'm getting to every area which isn't easy and I need to keep track of when I use it too as I keep forgetting but so far so good!

Have you tried any laser hair removal devices? 

DegustaBox: Summer 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017
Back in 2014 I tried the September Degusta subscription box which is a monthly food and snack box (£12.99) and loved it so I'm happy to be working with DegustaBox again! Each months box contains between 10 to 15 food, drink and snack items which I think is fantastic considering the low price and if you use the discount code KVAA2 it will make the box only £5.99 instead of £12.99.

I have the summer themed box and it contains nine separate items but I'm very lucky in that as I'm a brand ambassador I get to receive and try extra items too! The products within the summer box range from cereal and snacks to drinks and cooking ingredients with prices varying between £4.99 to 99p. The item total for this box is over £20 which is much more than the price of the box, especially if you use the discount code above!

*Thor Dry Apple Spritz Sparkling Drinks
I'm visiting Norway next month so it was a strange coincidence that I received two delicious drinks named after a norse god! I adore the packaging and even though I don't usually drink sparkling and carbonated drinks very often, I loved these! They are both so refreshing and perfect for summer. I've been drinking them both in the garden while the weather has been so sunny and warm. I think the mint flavour is my favourite of the two but they are both definitely worth looking out for.
*OLOVES Healthy Olive Snacks (99p each) 
I'm a sucker for packaging and these look amazing! I'm actually not a fan of olives but my mum loves them so she has taken these to work as a snack at lunchtime as working in a school and running after children is very tiring! She really liked these, they taste great and they are a perfect size to add into your bag or a lunch box! They are a perfect low calorie, healthy snack and they're suitable for vegans.

*Maille Dijon Original Mustard (£1.99)
The leaflet that explains all of the items in the box also has a couple of recipe ideas too and one of which involves this product (I love that there are recipe ideas using products from the box!) and while it isn't vegetarian, I know my dad would love to try the recipe. I don't like mustard on anything but within cheese pie - my auntie makes a delicious and probably extremely calorific cheese pie and she always adds mustard to I'm going to attempt to make my own with this and I think it would be amazing!

*Ryvita Thins - Three Cheese Flatbreads (£1.89)
Most of the items in this box would be great snacks or ingredients to make up a summer picnic and these flatbread crackers would be perfect on their own or with a dip. I've been eating them with my vegan ranch dip (cashew cream, fresh dill, oat milk, garlic, salt/pepper and apple cider vinegar) and they are so good. The flatbread crackers are so moreish and cheesy but they are surprisingly low in calories and contain a good amount of fibre.
*Rowntree's Randoms Sweets (£1.29) - product of the month
I really wanted to try these but they contain gelatine which I can't eat as I'm a vegetarian but myself and two friends went on a mini road trip to Chester a couple of days ago (which you will have seen on my Instagram Stories if you follow me there - you'll have also seen this DegustaBox unboxing too) so they ate these sweets and loved them.

*Weetabox Additions Coconut & Raisin (£2.99)
I used to have Weetabix regularly growing up but recently I've been opting for less healthy carb heavy breakfasts which aren't the best option so I was very glad to find this new and healthy breakfast cereal in the summer box. Now, coconut and raisin sounds like a very odd combination but actually I love it! I've been topping two of the Weetabix blocks with oat milk, maple syrup, banana and cinnamon dusted seeds for breakfast and I'm loving it so much!

*Frylight Cooking Spray with Avocado Oil (£2.99)
We were actually using the olive oil version before this one arrived and now I've switched to this new option. They are one calorie cooking sprays that are quick and easy to use; they make me use far less oil while cooking than a traditional bottle of olive oil. They're well worth buying as a healthier and easier option especially as one bottle lasts for ages.
*Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Red & White Quinoa (£1.99)
I am a big fan of quinoa but it is a pain to cook as it needs rinsing multiple times and cooking for a while; also I find I always overcook it so it's mushy and no one wants that! A pre-cooked packet of quinoa is a great addition to this box as it's so easy to add into anything from salads to a soup or as a replacement for rice or cous cous. I've added mine to salads with green beans, asparagus, rocket and lots of vegetarian parmesan *drools*.

*Blossom Hill Spritz Raspberry & Blackcurrant (£4.99)
I may be in my early to mid twenties but I don't actually drink often - I only tend to drink at blogger events or celebrations and even then only minimally so I will be saving this for a girls night in with friends or for a couple of birthdays that I have coming up this summer. It sounds like something I'd like as I love anything containing raspberries! This product is included in the alcohol version of the DegustaBox only and there are two flavours that you could receive.
*Crafted Mango and Passionfruit Drink (£1.80)

When I think of summer in terms of food and drink, I think of picnics in the sun (with bees flying around everywhere), salads, fresh smoothies and chilled fruit drinks. Mango and passionfruit are two of my favourite summer fruits so this juice drink is perfect! It's so delicious, summery, refreshing and the perfect drink while read in the garden or to add into a smoothie.

This is my first DegustaBox for a long time and I'm so impressed, not just with a amount of items and value for money but the quality, range of products and recipe ideas and discount codes included. This summer box was perfect especially with the lovely weather we've been having recently and I cannot recommend it enough!

Don't forget to use the discount code: KVAA2 to make the box only £5.99 instead of £12.99! 


Have you received any of the DegustaBox subscription boxes? Have you tried any of the products? 

New In Skincare + Summer Skincare Routine

Friday, July 21, 2017
I always change up my skincare to fit with the seasons and summer as well as winter is a season that has the most changes. I have dry, sensitive skin but during the hot summer months, it has become much more normal to oily so most of my existing skincare doesn't suit my skin, thankfully the lovely people at Hello Skin, Glamglow, T-Zone and Frezyderm have come to the rescue!

*T-Zone Charcoal Black Peel Off Mask
In my teens, I used peel off masks constantly as they were so incredibly cheap and they were fun to use! I now mainly use cream and wash off masks but this one has been a real blast from the past. It contains activated charcoal to unclog pores, peel away blackheads and soften the skin. I've only used it a couple of times as this range is a new addition to my skincare routine but I like it so far.

It can't be applied with a blush as it's so sticky which makes it a little more messy and it does take a while to dry as it needs upwards of 20 minutes to fully dry on the skin but I do feel as though it deeply cleans my skin. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.
*Frezyderm Active Block SPF25 (£17.50)
I'm luckily going away twice this summer so SPF is definitely needed and this one is perfect! Firstly, I love the packaging and the pump dispenser but it also has anti-aging ingredients as well as hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin. It's suitable for all skin types and ages around 25 to 45.

I've been using it regularly since I received and I'm so glad to say that it doesn't irritate my skin as some products with SPF can. It doesn't really have a scent, the texture is so smooth and it absorbs quickly. I always forget to use SPF but having this product with my current skincare stash means that I'm reading for it more and as it is hydrating and smoothing it can act almost as a primer before makeup too. So far I can't recommend it enough! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!

*Dr Botanicals Cocoa Noir Light Facial Moisturiser (£19.99 - SALE)
As you know, I'm a Dr Botanicals brand ambassador so I get to try their lovely products and review them each month and today I'm bringing you a review of the Cocoa Noir Light Moisturiser which I've been using so much as it is much lighter than some of my other regular moisturisers which have been too heavy during the very hot days we've been having in Manchester.

It's a light but hydrating cream that smells incredible and I've been using it with the Dr Botanicals Cocoa Noir Time Reverse Facial Serum (£19.99 - SALE) which is equally as gorgeous and smells incredible too. It's a rich serum that is great for the drier and colder days! Speaking of colder days, I've also been loving the Rio Rosa Mosqueta Facial Oil on the drier area of my skin and it's been working wonders. Dr Botanicals have a sale on lots of products so check out their website. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!
*GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Mask 
I have wanted to try a Glamglow mask for so long but they are really quite pricey, in my opinion so I've never purchased one so I was excited when this arrived in the post from Glamglow to try! I've managed to get three uses out of this sample as I only use it on my congested t-zone and after the initial slight redness (not irritation) from the first use, it's been working so well. It really cleanses my skin and it feels quite luxe to use too. The only negative for me is the price but now I definitely want to try the thirstymud mask. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

*La Roche Posay Thermal Spring Water (£6.99, 150ml)
The heatwave last month and throughout July has been ridiculous in Manchester as we don't usually see the sun, never mind having such hot and humid temperatures and the only items that has been helping are facial water sprays. I think they are quite overlooked and thought of as quite gimmicky and I thought the same until I stated using them.

Not only are facial water sprays great as emergency toners and refreshing facial water sprays during very hot and humid summer days but they are great to refresh my makeup and cool down. I've tried quite a lot and they are all great including this cheaper option from La Roche Posay which is one of my favourite French skincare brands as well as Avene and Bioderma. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*T-Zone Charcoal and Bamboo Nose Strips
Again, another blast from the past as I used nose strips once a week as a teenager and I loved them! Until these arrived in the post, I hadn't tried any for around ten years but I'm glad I have some again as they are so satisfying to use. They are quick and easy to use, they do actually remove grossness from pores and I will be using them so much now! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

*T-Zone Charcoal and Bamboo Deep Cleansing Face Scrub
Last but not least in this quite nostalgic skincare range is a facial scrub! I use face scrubs once a week to deeply exfoliate my skin instead of using mild acid treatments and they are so effective, especially as my skin can be very dry in places and to smooth everything out, you can't beat  good old face scrub. I like this one as it has a pleasant scent and it isn't too abrasive on my sensitive skin. I think this new charcoal and bamboo range is well worth checking out. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
*Eucerin AtoControl Face Care Cream (£11.99, 50ml)
Eucerin is a brand I've tried a couple of products from as they are well known for their sensitive skincare so I was excited to try a couple more products from them via the lovely people at Hello Skin who have so many brands aimed at sensitive skin so if you suffer with sensitive skin or a skin condition scthen check them out!

I've been using the AtoControl cream as my day cream on the days when my skin feels extra sensitive or if I have had a mini eczema flareup as it is moisturising, smoothing and it is so gentle on the skin - it doesn't irritate at all. I have had a couple of little eczema flareups and this cream as well as the cream mentioned below have recalled helped to keep my skin feeling more comfortable and less irritated. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

*Eucerin AtoControl Face Cream (£9.69, 40ml)
On the days when my skin is extra sensitive or irritated, I use my regular day cream then this cream on the more irritated, eczema prone areas to help soothing and add extra moisture. It contains a skin calming complex and both products in this range really do help to calm my skin and reduce the feeling of irritation that eczema can cause. I'm so glad I was able to try these products as they have been helping to much and they are so gentle; if you have sensitive skin then I cannot recommend these products enough as they've been kind of a game changer for me and a wonderful new addition to my skincare routine. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.


Have you tried any of these products or brands? What are your favourite summer skincare products?

Redecorating + The Psychology Of Colour

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Image from House Beautiful via Pinterest
If you've been following my blog or social for the past few months then you will know that we've recently going through a complete kitchen redesign and we are currently redecorating the living room and along the stairs - I have a couple of redecorating posts on my blog if you want to have a read!

I personally love a simple and natural colour palette of greys, beige or cream, white, dusky pinks and browns as that's just my style which is shown in my bedroom, home office and the kitchen. I find that certain colours in a room can not only make it look new, fresher or brighter but they can affect your mood too.

For me clean, crisp colours like cream, pink and grey as well as gunmetal and black in bathrooms can make me feel fresher, organised and less distracted! With our home office (which is where I spend 90% of my time) it's cream, white and rose gold colours are just so perfect, fresh and brightening particularly as it's the smallest room of the house and I feel as though I can be productive and organised...most of the time.
Thomas Sanderson have created a guide all about the psychology of colour as well as interior design and redecorating tips based around colour. They suggest that colours affect a lot of what we do, even if we don't realise it! For example, purple supposedly elicits feelings of relaxation and comfort so it might be best to use it in the living room. Black and white might be a good colour scheme to use in the bathroom to give feeling of cleanliness and luxury.

Also one colour that has an effect on me is definitely the colour blue! While I don't know if I want a blue room or wall, it is a colour that makes me think of relaxing holidays and it is a very calming colour. Whereas red is apparently perfect for the kitchen as it's a stimulating and energising colour!

I do have a BSc Hons degree in psychology and while we didn't study anything to do with colour, it definitely has a unconscious impact on our lives from packaging and branding to our moods and emotions!

Do you think that colours have an affect on your mood? Are you redecorating your home? What are your favourite colour palettes? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Images from Pinterest and Thomas Sanderson

Quirky Wedding Gift Ideas

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Next spring I'm going to be a bridesmaid for the first time which is equally very exciting and touching but at the same times it's also very nerve wracking! This is the first wedding I'll have gone to as an adult, the previous wedding was one of my cousin's weddings when I was around 16 or 17 which seems like a lifetime ago!

Since this is the first wedding I've needed to buy gifts for, I was little lost with what I was supposed to purchase. I know what my friend will love to receive as a present but I think wedding gifts are a little different as they are more for the couple and the home. Thankfully PrezzyBox has so many amazing and quirky wedding gifts to choose from and I was kindly sent these gorgeous gifts so thank you PrezzyBox!

*Wild Olive Handmade Soap Collection (£9.99) 
I've tried a few products from Wild Olive in the past so you can check out my reviews if you want and I think this cute handmade soap collection would make a great gift - not just as a wedding gift. I think for my friends wedding I'm going to make up a wedding gift hamper of various items for the couple and for her specifically.

The soap collection isn't only presented so nicely but I think handmade gifts are extra special and you all know that I love to give practical presents too so this ticks all the boxes. The collection contains nine little squares of soap all of which are made using natural ingredients and each soap has a different scent, for example: victorian rose soap, oatmeal scrub, herb garden soap, strawberry and cream scrub and so many more. They all smell incredible!
*Personalised Candle Holder (£4.99 - SALE)
Personalised gifts are so special and for a wedding I think they are quite safe gifts to give but this one is a little more unique as it's a cute candle holder! It has my friends initials on it which I know she'll love. The size of the candle holder is perfect for a single tea light or for a sampler candle (e.g.: the Yankee Candle samplers). I love the design, it's a practical but personal gift that's so inexpensive!
*Poleroid String Lights (£9.99)
Last but not least is my favourite item of the three, although they are all fantastic and it's a set of string fairylights with little pegs attached so you can hang photos from the pegs! The set also contains little photos wallets to add in your polaroid photos (or you could cut up regular photos to fit). I think it's such a cute and unique gift, I haven't seen this idea before and it would be great to hang up wedding photos. You could also hang up other items if they are lightweight too because of the plastic pegs attached to the string lights.

It uses two AA batteries so they can be placed anywhere, they are easy to set up and even though the light isn't very bright, it's still noticeable and adds such a nice homely feeling to any room - I love fairylights! I think they are a really unique way to display photographs or other light items!

Here are a few other personalised and adorable wedding gift ideas from PrezzyBox:

What do you think of these wedding gifts? What would you buy as a wedding gift? 

Makeup Dupes ft. Beauty Base

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Back in the early days of blogging there were certain posts that everyone published including monthly favourites, OOTDs, empties, week in photographs posts and of course, dupe posts. If you don't know, a dupe is a product that is similar to another (in terms of shade, formula, packaging etc) but dupes are usually cheaper. I haven't seen any dupes posts for so long and I also haven't seen many favourites posts but I'll be bringing you both this month!

Today's post is all about three dupes that I've found recently via Beauty Base who kindly sent me these products to try out. Beauty Base has a great range of makeup from brands such as Milani, LA Girl, Eylure (which is a brand you already know that I adore) and many others, all at great prices.

*Milani Amore Matte Lip Creme (£9.95)
I have tried one of these before and liked it but this one is even better! I have the shade '10 adorable' which is a perfect 90's nude shade that's great of everyday. I have tried a lot of liquid lipsticks from Crown Brushes, TheBalm, Colorpop, The Body Shop and so many other brands and it can be very hit or miss. Some can be flaky, dry and very matte and others can be sticky, patchy or oily feeling but this one is fantastic.

The shade is gorgeous, it applies like a dream and it lasts really well so I can't recommend it enough. I think it's better than the The Body Shop options, in my opinion. I didn't like the other shade I tried as it was flaky but the shade '10 adorable's is perfection. I also think that even though they are cheaper, they are comparable to TheBalm liquid lipsticks too.
*W7 Mighty Mattes Palette (£6.99 - sale)
I've tried a couple of products from W7 previously and I liked them for the price but this palette has to be my favourite product from W7! I'm all about matte eyeshadows, I don't like shimmery shades or metallic shades so an all matte palette is just perfect. I like the packaging as it isn't cardboard, it's a metal tin and the shades aren't too dark - there are a lot of lighter shades.

I have quite a few matte palettes and while I adore them all, particularly TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Ador and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude palettes (they are definitely worth checking out), I think this palette is almost just as good! The pigmentation is fantastic, they apply well and for less than £10, you really can't go wrong!
*Milani Prep + Set + Go Powder (£12.95)
We all know how much I love the Vichy Dermablend Powder and don't get me wrong I still do and I'll continue to use it but I find it being a loose powder a bit annoying so this Milani pressed powder is a great dupe. It has the same mattifying and setting abilities as the Vichy powder but it is in a pressed powder compact which makes it easier and quicker to use! I do think the Vichy powder is a little better but for the convenience of the Milani powder, I'll be using it more and it's cheaper too.

I cannot recommend these products enough, they were all fantastic and turned out to be very similar and great dupes for some more expensive or harder to find products! Now onto my quick video which features swatches of all of the products from Beauty Base and a mini tutorial for a quick, everyday makeup look.



Have you tried any of these products or brands? Do you have any great dupes? 

*What Family Means To Me + Quarter Life Crisis

Monday, July 17, 2017
Image from What's Not To Love via Pinterest
I came across an interesting infographic created by Slater and Gordon (divorce solicitors in London) all about #familymadesimple including statistics about families in the UK. For example, 1 in 30 families in the UK have a grandparent as a full time carer for grandchildren, 42% of marriages end in divorce and 31% of people surveyed have required legal assistance in family law.

The infographic got me thinking about my family and friends, how myself and my friends grew up in very different households and childhood memories of my family, particularly now as I'm coming up to the grand old age of 25 and how I'm having a quarter life crisis!

Growing Up In The 90's + What Family Means To Me
Growing up during the 1990's was amazing with all of the barbies, furbys, bop it, polly pocket and board games, all of which I played with my sister and my cousins - I have a lot of cousins! Family for me, from a very young age meant spending time playing dress up, games and playing outside with my sister, friends, neighbours and all of my cousins, most of which are around my age.

As a child and young teen, we spent a lot of time with my dads family as we all live near each other and by that I mean within ten minutes drive from pretty much all of my cousins and aunties. Every time it was someones birthday or for easter, new year and christmas, we always get together with so much food and a family quiz which naturally ends up in good natured arguing, obviously.

Growing up in an environment with very close cousins that I spent so much time with and went to school with was amazing and I was close to my aunties and my grandad too particularly as a child. However, as we all grew up and some of my cousins moved half way across the world and to other countries, we don't tend to meet up as much and we aren't as close on the whole which is actually quite upsetting as we all used to be so incredibly close and I don't like change at all!

Quarter Life Crisis 
Everyone has their own things going on now within my family and we do meet up occasionally but it's just not the same. I feel as though I'm having a mini quarter life crisis as so many things are changing with family and friends around me and I feel as though I'm staying the same and I'm not where I thought I would be at almost 25! Having said that, I need to remember the progress I've made (e.g.: first class BSc hons degree and learning to drive) and that everyone's different and one situation isn't better than another.

I'm not looking forward to turning 25 but I will be exploring London on my birthday which I'm so excited for (we are going on a Buckingham Palace tour!) but I just need to look for the positives rather than focusing on the negatives!

Are you a 90's child too? What does family mean to you? What are you looking forward to this summer?

*This is a collaborative post
*Image from Pinterest 

10 Money Saving Tips from Samples To Shopping Your Stash

Saturday, July 15, 2017
10 Money Saving Tips from Samples To Shopping Your Stash
I know the photo doesn't match the content but the sunset a few weeks ago was so gorgeous and I needed to use it in one post so this is it! I've published two posts already on money saving tips aimed at students but hopefully these tips are a little more general. If you have any money saving tips or if you know any websites with great offers, deals or discount codes then share in the comments below.

Coupons, Discount Codes & Sales
Let's start with the easiest and that's looking out of coupons and sales! There are a lot of sales going on at the moment which is great for me as I have holiday clothing to buy and also I'm always on the look out for discount codes. Whatever I buy, whether it's groceries on Ocado to books, tickets, clothing and beauty products, I look for a discount code just by searching 'store name discount code 2017', you might get 10% off or free delivery - you never know unless you look. I've been able to find discount codes so often for clothing, books and even Buckingham Palace tour tickets!

Deals & Changing Providers
Everyone has various talents and one which my mum possesses is that she's amazing at saving and looking for deals with different service providers, whether it's electricity, broadband, Sky or car insurance. Recently she's been able to get money off our car insurance which is amazing but sadly those traits definitely haven't pass down to me but I do think that it's worth checking out if you can save money with a different service provider! Even if you just save £50, it's still worth it as then you can buy £50 worth of makeup, skincare or books...that's how it works right?

Switch To Cheaper Alternatives 
Whether it's groceries, clothing, makeup, skincare or homeware, sometimes we have to opt for the cheaper versions. I used to buy a fair amount of higher end makeup but now I'm definitely more of a high street makeup gal, although obviously more expensive makeup is nice from time to time. In terms of cheaper makeup brands there are a few that I'd definitely recommend including: Essence, Rimmel, Kiko and Eylure. Also changing to cheaper, store own groceries helps to save some money and as my mum always says 'save the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'.

Shop Your Stash
As well as not buying as much makeup this year, I've been shopping my beauty stash instead and I've discovered products that I haven't used for so long. I found my Bourjois 10 Hour Sleep Effect foundation in my stash and now it's been a constant product in my makeup routine for months now when before it was hidden away. Shopping your stash isn't just confined to makeup but look at your wider beauty collection, clothes that are hidden away and even your kitchen cupboards to use products that you haven't yet rather than buying more.

Re-Use, Recycle & Grow Your Own
I have a few products or categories of products that I don't use as much and finding new uses for them means that the money spent on them isn't wasted, for example I use shower gels as hand washes, body cream or facial moisturiser as hand cream, shampoo or hand wash to wash my makeup brushes and even conditioner as an emergency shave gel!

Growing your own herbs is a great way to reduce the money wasted on herbs that you don't use and end up mouldy in the fridge within a couple of days. Also why not try and grow your own veggies from food you already have such as strawberries, avocados, celery and more. Recycling is not only good for the environment but you can use old containers for new products, clothing into something new or get crafty with the wonder that is Pinterest as there are so many recycling ideas on there.

Samples & Freebies 
There are so many freebie websites out their (always be careful about who you are giving your details to!) which I used to use all of the time. I've had haircare, skincare and food samples as well as perfume, toothpaste and tea so it's worth checking out.

In terms of samples, you can get freebies with purchases or just ask at beauty counters as they should be able to give you free foundation samples without having to purchase anything. Also, the MAC UK Facebook page has given away a couple of hundred mascara samples and I've been able to receive two mini MAC mascaras from it so keep an eye out.

Staff Discount 
Some stores offer staff discounts which is worth looking into and as my dad works within the NHS, he gets a surprising number of discounts, the main one we use is for 50% off at Dominos *can I get a hallelujah!*. Apparently if you or someone you know works within the NHS you can get discounts with Sky, Currys, Jet2Holidays, Apple, Vision Express and many more!

Planners, Organisers & Spreadsheets 
Keeping track of what you're spending is key I think and having all of that information in one place or in a planner, organiser or spreadsheet can definitely help. I use notes and spreadsheets for everything as they keep me organised and on track, I don't know what I'd do without my blogging and tax spreadsheets! When it's all laid out you might be able to find things to reduce spending on.

Netgalley & BookBridgr 
This is a very specific tip but as I'm a book blogger, I have to mention it as it's been amazing for me and that's Netgalley. I thought Netgalley was a US only website so I didn't check it out but it is available to book reviewers and bloggers in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe and the UK. If you're an active book blogger, reviewer or youtuber then you can sign up to Netgalley and request free e-books of titles that aren't published yet! As I'm writing this, I've received an amazing 99 e-books, some of which I read months and months before the publication date.

Also a new website and it's BookBridgr which is aimed at book bloggers in the UK that offers free physical books to review. I've only just started, after a long approval time and I received my first book today (Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick) even though I only requested it a couple of days ago! Both websites are definitely helping reduce my book buying!

Swap & Share 
The final tip is something a little different and that's swapping and sharing products or books with friends. Instead of buying new books why not swap and trade with friends both online or offline. Also if you have products that you don't want any more or don't use then you could swap with friends (or car bot them?). My friends get blogging items when I don't want them anymore, don't like them as much as other products I have or simply if I just don't have any room!

There are all of my money saving tips from basics to more specific tips and I hope you've found something that's helpful. If you are short on cash then there are always various short term or small loans available that are worth looking into and researching - always do your research first!

Do you follow any of these money saving tips already? Do you have any money saving tips or tricks that I haven't mentioned? 

*This is a sponsored post

New + Upcoming Book Releases Wish List

Friday, July 14, 2017
Before January 2016, I only read maybe five books in the year and reading just wasn't something I was interested in but I set myself the goal of reading 30 books in 2016 and I smashed that by reading 79 books and now just over half way through 2017 and I'm onto my 80th book of the year...yeah, I'm a bit obsessed.

It's come to the point where I'm reading so many arcs via netgalley that I'm anticipating so many upcoming releases and that's what today's post is all about! There is a definite theme of magic, darker books, fantasy and quirky books as they are the genres that I love the most!

- Carnivalesque by Neil Jordan (available now)
- Ghostly Tales By Chronicle Books, Illustrated by Bill Bragg (released on 25th July 2017)
- An Almond For A Parrot by Wray Delaney (released on 27th July 2017)
- Poe: Stories and Poems A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Gareth Hinds (released on 1st Aug 2017)
- City Of Circles by Jess Richards (released on 10th Aug 2017)
- Tarnished City by Vic James (released on 5th Sep 2017)
- Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (released on 7th Sep 2017)
- Daughter Of The Burning City by Amanda Foody (released on 7th Sep 2017)
- A Skinfull Of Shadows by Frances Hardinge (released on 21st Sep 2017)
- The Language Of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (released on 26th Sep)
- Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (released on 28th Sep 2017)
- Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban by J.K Rowling (released on 3rd Oct 2017)
- The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night by Jen Campbell (released 2nd Nov 2017)
- The Secret Poisoner by Linda Stratmann (available now)
- The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (released on 30th Jan 2018)
- The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss (available now)

Top of my list of books I'd love to read ASAP include: Godsgrave, Poe: Stories and Poems, Tarnished City and The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night. I've requested a couple of these on BookBridgr so fingers crossed. There are so many more books that I'd like to add, especially new releases but then this post would be never ending!

Are any of these books on your wish list? What are you currently reading or wanting to pick up next? 

Blogging Essentials #2

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Earlier this year I published a post all about my current blogging essentials and today's post is a continuation of it with some new items and more general blogging items that you might not initially think of! Check out my previous post if you want to see more of my blogging essentials that are perfect for beginners and seasoned blogger alike.

Blankets: Cosiness is key
I know the obsession with hygge is pretty much gone, it went the way of Pokemon Go and we are still in summer but I cannot stop thinking about autumn - well, let's be honest and say that my mind is aways thinking about autumn and all things related to being cosy, baking, cooking and autumn clothing/activities because it's the best time of the year. Fact.

As my mind is constantly in autumn mode, blankets and being cosy is key to me being productive. Give me a blanket, candles, a gingerbread latte and my iMac and I'll be able to get so much done, whether it's answering lots of emails, editing photos or video clips, typing up posts and guest posts or researching. The blanket in the photo above is one I actually made using the arm knitting method and for my first attempt, I'm so happy with it as it's so incredibly soft, cute, versatile and it keeps me surprisingly very warm!
*Penclic Mouse R3 (£59.99)
This next essential is definitely a new addition and despite a few teething problems, it's become a desk staple for me. I have an iMac which is going on for eight years old now (I need a new one ASAP) and it has a traditional corded mouse although recently as the iMac itself is failing so is the mouse.

The Penclic Mouse is a wireless, pen like mouse that is definitely unusual and innovative! It can be used if you're left or right handed, it connects wirelessly to your iMac or PC using the USB dongle included and it is such a unique concept that I personally haven't seen before. The set up was a bit confusing as nothing seemed to happen but thankfully it's now working. I'll be completely honest and say that it definitely does take time and patience to get to grips with as it's such a different style and shape to a traditional mouse but I find it a bit more comfortable to use, especially as I'm on the iMac for most of the day, pretty much seven days a week.

I love that it's wireless, as there is no annoying cord that gets wrapped around other things on my desk, it feels natural to hold as it's a pen shape and I love the scroll wheel which is really useful, particularly as the scroll function on my Apple mouse is broken! If you're thinking about getting a wireless mouse then check this one out!

One thing to note when it comes to blogging and desk jobs in general (as well as nurses, builders and many other jobs) is that repetitive strain injury can be a cause of concern. It is estimated that 73% of those who work at a computer are at risk of repetitive strain injury due to typing but it can be easily prevented. To help prevent repetitive strain injury, it is advised that you should take regular breaks from your desk and it is worth sticking to regular breaks because repetitive strain injury can in some cases result in physiotherapy or even surgery.

Bookshelves, Storage & Canvas Bags 
The first essential in this section is more of a book blogger problem and that's too many books! I'm lucky enough to be sent books occasionally from publishers and I'm very quickly running out of space but these gorgeous floating book shelves from Red Candy are perfect and you can store other things on top of the books too, if the aren't too heavy.

Storage is a general life essential but as a blogger I have specific drawers for tax documents, press releases and product information, products that need to be photographed and other drawers for blog prizes, packaging and even blog photo props.

One thing they don't tell you about blogging or that isn't shown is the amount of recycling that you have to deal with. As I said, I'm very lucky in that I get to work with some amazing brands and PRs so very regular packages and boxes means that around once a week I end up with a big stack of recycling and canvas bags are perfect to store and sort out paper recycling!

Earphones
A good pair of earphones are very hard to find, especially as for me, most of them are actually quite painful to wear but these gorgeous wireless earphones from Sudio Sweden are perfection in earphone form! They're white and rose gold (tick), wireless (tick), the sound is fantastic and clear (tick) and they are so comfortable to wear (tick). I honestly cannot recommend these earphones enough! I use them for editing videos, watching youtube, listening to audiobooks and they even work as ear plugs on a noisy train...

Those are more of my personally blogging essentials, what are your blogging essentials? 

Summer Festival + Travel Essentials #2

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
I published my first travel beauty post last week and today's post is a continuation of it with some absolutely adorable travel essentials that would be perfect for camping, a road trip, festival or just to keep in your handbag on a day to day basis. The items in today's post were very kindly sent by the super lovely people at Mad Beauty!

*Mad Beauty Mini Biscuit Nail Files (99p each)
All of these items from Mad Beauty are from the new biscuit collection and everything is just so cute and very British and these nail files are no exception. Nail files are just an essential and they are a staple in my 'minimergency' bag within my handbag as you never know when you'll need one. This tiny little pack is so perfect for travelling and the packaging is reminiscent of a bourbon biscuit! I also have one of the jam biscuit packs too! There are six mini nail files in each pack and they even have the biscuit print on them!
*Mad Beauty Moisturising Hand Sanitizers (£2.99 each)
Next up, hand sanitizers which are an essential and great for travelling or festivals when you might not be able to easily access a sink in that moment. I have the cute bourbon one which has a lovely vanilla scent and the strawberry scented one which is great too. They are both very thin, portable and are perfect pocket or handbag sizes. There's a cute cherry scented one too! I find them really easy and quick to use, I like the scent and even though I have to be very careful with them as I have eczema on my hands and it can sting, they're effective and they don't leave my hands feeling extremely dry or uncomfortable.

*Mad Beauty Biscuit Tissues (99p)
I can't get over how adorable the packaging for everything in this new biscuit collection is, it's so cute and obviously makes me want to eat all the biscuits, especially custard creams *drools*. Tissues, again are an essential and it's always handy to have some in your handbag, makeup bag or car, especially when the packaging is as cute as this!
*Mad Beauty Biscuit Compact Mirror (£2.99 each)
Last but not least, two very cute compact mirrors that again have the great biscuit designs on them! I used compact mirrors so much during college and university and I've started keeping on in my bag again and they're great for checking if my makeup is still looking half decent or not...not is the case during these humid, muggy days we've been having!

There are so many adorable ranges from Mad Beauty including glitter, button, chocolate, cereal and seasonal ranges as well as their stationery featuring cute retro designs! I cannot recommend their cute travel, summer and festival essentials enough! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried anything from Mad Beauty? What are your travel essentials? 

Five Minute Makeup Options + Tips

Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Most of the time and especially during the summer months, I always opt for time saving, quick and easy products as well as easy and effective makeup so here are some of my favourite products to create five minute makeup looks with, featuring natural, glowy and summer ready products along with some basic tips on how to save time getting ready in the morning! 

Luminous & Radiant 
When it comes to base products, foundation, concealer and powder, I need moisturising, radiant and natural looking products to combat my dry and uneven skin. My top luminous foundation include the Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation, Max Factor Skin Luminizer Foundation and the gorgeous Giorgio Maestro Glow Foundation which is the perfect radiant foundation for summer, for those with dry or dull skin. There are many annoyances when it comes to having eczema, especially around my eyes and that's when it comes to concealer, the vast majority of them look so drying and cakey but thankfully the Clinique Airbrush Concealer and the fantastic Essence Stay All Day Concealer are perfect for light to medium coverage without making me look like I haven't slept or moisturised in a week!

Sticking with the radiance theme, the Freedom Strobe Cream is fantastic to add into your primer at add radiance along with the Stila Smudge Crayon in Antique which makes my eyes look so much brighter in one swipe - it's also great as a emergency highlight too.  For mascara, summer calls for fluttery lashes with a formula that's easy to remove and the DHC Double Protection Mascara is an essential as it can easily be removed with just warm water, yes, just warm water! Lastly for lips, tinted lip balms are a great to add moisture and a wash of sheer colour that you don't need to worry about. 
Natural, Long Lasting & Summer Proof 
In the UK recently we've had a couple of heatwaves (31 degrees celsius in Manchester which is unheard of!) as well as very humid, muggy weather and my makeup has been suffering, until I started using these quick, easy and long lasting products together! 

The LA Girl HD Long Wear Illuminating Foundation and the Vichy Dermablend Powder stay all day even through hot and humid temperatures, facial water sprays and sweat - they are well worth checking out as well as the fantastic Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation for a more matte option. 

For brows, there are a few pencils that I've been loving lately as they make filling in and defining my brows so quick and fuss free including the Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil, Eye of Horus Pencil and Gel and the very inexpensive Eylure Brow Pencil which has a spoolie on the end so it would be great for travelling. 

Contouring can be a bit of a time hog when it comes to quick makeup but the NYX Blush in Taupe when used with the Real Techniques Multitask Cheek Brush makes it a 10 second process. Easy lip products that you don't need to think about are also time savers and the new Burts Bees Lipsticks are perfect (and the packaging is so cute!). Lastly, for waterproof mascara you can't go wrong with options from Rimmel or Essence. 

Now onto some time saving tips:

  • Lighting Direct have conducted research into makeup application and lighting, some of which is a bit shocking like the statistic that women over their lifetime will spend an average of £22,000 on makeup and did you know that 75% of women apply their makeup in poor lighting? You'll never apply your makeup well or quickly in poor lighting and that's my first tip. Apply your makeup in an area with good lighting or invest in a light up makeup mirror. I always apply my makeup at my desk as it's in front of a large window with my makeup mirror and where all of my current makeup is together; which leads very nicely into my second tip!
  • Keep the makeup you're using currently in one place so you don't need to waste time searching around for your products! I keep all of my skincare together and all of my current makeup in one drawer at my desk so it's in easy reach and I have everything to hand. 
  • Multi-use products and two in one products save time and money, for example, I use skincare that contains SPF, foundations that don't need powder as they are quite skin like and mattifying and brushes that can be used with numerous products. Also why not try bronzer or highlighters as eyeshadows, tinted lip balms as blush or eyeshadows as eyeliner? 
  • Make sure your skin is well prepped in terms of skincare and primer before you start your makeup as then you won't have to waste time and start again (which is something I do end up doing often because of my dry skin!). 
There are my current favourite quick and easy products and my time saving makeup tips! What are your favourite easy products or time saving tips? 

*This is a sponsored post

Go To Summer Beauty Essentials + Video

Monday, July 10, 2017
I'll be honest and say that even though summer is filled with birthdays, sunny days in the garden and my birthday as well as holidays, it's my least favourite season (can it be autumn now?) but one thing I do like about summer along with the light evenings, is glowy summer makeup! I've been kindly sent a range of makeup from some lovely brands that would be perfect for a summer makeup look and the products are some of my June and July favourites.

*Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation (£45, 30ml - Fair)
I have been using the same two foundations for so long and I love them but I wanted to try something new and the lovely people at Perricone MD sent over the No Foundation Foundation which is a product that I've wanted to try for years! I'm so glad that I was able to try it as it's one of the best foundations I've tried in a very long time and it's also perfect for this time of the year as it has a more skin like to matte finish which is an essential for the humid weather we've been having in the UK recently!

The shade Fair when blended down my neck is a great shade match for my ghostly pale skin although it would be even better if it was slightly lighter (thankfully they're coming out with a lighter shade later this year!). The foundation blends like a dream, it has a light to medium coverage and it looks so natural on the skin. I have sensitive to dry skin normally but in this heat my t-zone has been so oily and this foundation manages to apply, look and last so well on the drier areas and my more oily t-zone. It's perfect with a brush, beauty blender and a silicone sponge but the only thing I don't like about the foundation is the pump which sticks and then foundation goes flying at the wall...Other than that issue, it's amazing and I cannot recommend this foundation enough!
*AHB Cosmetics Highlight & Strobe Kit (£59.95)
Summer calls for glowy, light makeup and a good highlighter palette is an essential, especially for travelling as you have numerous products in one palette. It's designed in the UK and is free from parabens - it's also cruelty free which is amazing. The palette contains four highlighters and two baked blushers in one gorgeous palette that has rose gold detailing...yes! For my ghostly pale skin, the lightest highlighter (London Frost) is perfect and it's the shade that I've been using the most. The Miami Sun shade which is a warm tan shade is also gorgeous and adds a golden summery glow.

As I'm so pale, the shades Parisian Dawn (golden bronze) and Dubai Haze (warm, pinky bronze) don't work as highlighters but I have been using them as eyeshadows as they're so pretty and great as an all over the lid shade! The two baked blushes are perfect for someone like me, who doesn't wear blush most of the time, as they aren't very pigmented but they can be built up easily. All of the highlighters and blushers apply and blend perfectly with the *AHB Cosmetics Blush & Highlighter Brush (£20) as the brush is incredibly soft and smooth. The brush is double sided so you can use one side of the brush for blush and the other for highlighting. They are offering free delivery this weekend!
*TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Ador. Palette (£39)
I've been using TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Ador and the Meet Matt(e) Nude palettes constantly for the past couple of months as the packaging is super cute, the eyeshadows are so pigmented and smooth and all of the shades blend wonderfully. The Matte Matt(e) Ador palette contains nine shades that are perfect for an everyday to evening palette as all of the shades are matte and there's a great range of shades from skin tones shades to browns and black and navy - check out the video below for swatches of the AHB Cosmetics palettes and TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Ador palette.

I've been using the shades Matt Johansson, Matt Munoz and Matt Williams the most but they are all fantastic and this palette is lightweight, thin and contains a large mirror so it will be perfect to travel with - I'm definitely going to take one of the two from TheBalm with me on holiday this August!
*TheBalm Bahama Mama Bronzer (£17.49)
Bronzer is a summer essential but if you're as pale as I am, then it is a bit of a dangerous product too as you can easily go from ghostly pale to being an umpa lumpa (oompa loompa?...). Everything from TheBalm has the cutest packaging and this one is no different. The bronzer is matte, it's pigmented and easy to blend. The shade adds warmth to the skin but it isn't too dark or warm toned for my pale skin.

*Essence My Must Haves Palette & Eyeshadows (£1.50)
Essence is one of my favourite high street makeup brands and they've recently come out with a build your own type palette which is £1.50 for the empty palette and each shadow is £1.50 (there's also a eight pan palette). The shadows are pretty pigmented, creamy and shimmery - perfect for summer and as you can customise it, it would be great for travelling as you'll only take the shades you need.

I've already reviewed the Crown Brushes as well as TheBalm Mad Lash mascara which you can check out or you can watch the video below for swatches and a tutorial using the products I've featured in this post. I can't recommend these products enough, especially the Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation, both of TheBalm palettes and the AHB Cosmetics Palette and Brush!


Have you tried any of these products? What are your summer essentials or current favourites?