*Summer Beauty Trends

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Image from Cosmopolitan
Beauty and hair trends for summer aren't always a favourite of mine as they are usually the same every year and my personal style and trends definitely suit autumn much more than summer; however there are some gorgeous trends on the runway for summer 2017.

Also most of the trends for summer are not very wearable for me with coral eyeshadow, wet hair and bright liner which isn't what I'd typically wear; however there are some gorgeous trends this summer from Giambattista Valli, Viktor & Rolf and Christian Dior especially!

Red Lips & Minimal Base
There are some trends that come back all of the time for a reason, they are gorgeous and you can't get any more of a beautiful combination than a red lip and a clean, simple base. As it's been gloriously sunny here in Manchester recently, I've had a set my makeup every day but still keeping it fresh and light. I don't use red lip products that often but when I do, I usually opt for a easy and fuss free options such as tinted lip balms as they are so easy to maintain and are perfect for my perpetually dry lips.
Images from Vogue
Sleek Mermaid-Like Waves 
My hair is naturally wavy but it's also naturally frizzy so I'm in a  constant struggle to maintain the waves or make them more defined and to reduce the halo of frizz I have. I love this style, I think it's so gorgeous and perfect for summer. I'm going to try and re-create this hairstyle from Viktor & Rolf with my ghd Ruby Styler.

Star Details
I love stars, I have a star tattoo on my wrist so when I saw this gorgeous look via Christian Dior, I knew I'd love it. I know it's not very wearable...but it's so pretty and I think if done minimally then it would be perfect for a summer festival look!

I also love the trends of dewy skin and glossy lips as they not only suit my dry skin but they are quick and easy trends to follow as well. Ellisons have created a 'experts in beauty' e-book which features current summer trends as well as a useful beauty Q&Q.

What are your favourite summer beauty trends - mermaid waves, red lips and dewy skin or star details? What are your favourite summer beauty products? 

*This is a collaborative post
*Images from Vogue and Cosmopolitan

Everdine Vegetarian Meals

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
A couple of weeks ago I received an amazing (and large) box of frozen meals from Everdine to try out and it's been a delicious journey trying them all! Everdine make clean, simple and home cooked meals that are frozen so they last longer, you can eat them whenever you want, there's less food waste and they are perfect if you don't have the time or energy to cook a complete and nutritious meal.

They have two options to choose from and I obviously picked the vegetarian meal options of which you can either select 8 pre-prepared frozen meals for £55.20 per month (you can cancel at any time) or 12 vegetarian meals for £76.80 which is a little high but they currently have an offer were you can save so much! I also have a link below to get £25 off your first order with Everdine!

I was able to receive the *Everdine 8 Veggie Meals (£55.20) to try out which are all made by chefs that are trained at Michelin starred restaurants. Each meal takes less than ten minutes to heat up and prepare which is fantastic and there's a really good selection that changes every so often. I also love that they tell you how best to recycle all of the packaging that comes with the meals!
Mushroom Spaghetti Carbonara
The first meal I tried was the carbonara and I ordered two of these as I knew I would love them - who doesn't love pasta, cheese, broccoli and roasted mushrooms? There is a list of the ingredients on the back of each meal as well as the nutritional table per pack; for example, in this option there are 13.g fat (which isn't great!), 370 calories and a whopping 16.2g of protein. All of the meals I have are suitable for vegetarians but NOT vegans. It would be amazing if they had a vegan meal plan option.

It sounded perfect to me and it was so delicious, I'm glad I ordered two! They are so easy to make, you just need to remove the sleek, pierce and heat for the allocated amount of time. As they are frozen they are very handy as they stay fresh and can be used whenever they are needed or wanted. They were so delicious and I wish I had another right now! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
Warm Pea & Asparagus Orzo Salad
I chose this one as it sounded like a healthy option but the amount of fat in this pack suggests otherwise; although the amount of fibre and protein is fantastic! I love orzo pasta (it looks like giant rice grains) and I love green veggies so this one sounded perfect. Sadly, it was a little disappointing as the mint oil pesto that came with it separately was so artificial tasting - it was nothing like pesto. Overall rating: ★★★☆☆, 3/5.

Paneer & Sweet Potato Kofte Biryani
Now, I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to spicy food but as I'm British (and Mancunian), I was pretty much raised on traditional english food and curries! I do love curry, vegetarian obviously but not if it's too spicy. This biryani with pomegranate seeds, cashew nuts and roasted peppers was so tasty although not my-mouth-is-on-fire kind of hot.

The only thing I didn't like were the raisins/sultanas which I know are traditional for some curries but I don't like them but other than that it is one I'd definitely choose again even if the heating up process was a bit longer and involved than the others. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Roasted Cauliflower & Barley Risotto
This meal was definitely my favourite of all the meals I've tried from Everdine! I didn't think it would be as it sounds a little boring but it was so delicious, creamy and I loved the texture of the barley and toasted hazelnuts! Unlike the other meals, the carbohydrate, whether that's pasta or rice, wasn't mushy. I wish I had ordered two of these as it was so good and if I do make an order with them myself and this option was available then I'd definitely order numerous packs. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.
Rainbow Vegetable Pad Thai
I love noodles and stir frys as well as veggies so I thought this one would be a safe option to choose as I hadn't tried any of them before so I had no idea if I would like them or not but oh boy...I was very wrong. As with the others it was very quick and easy to prepare and it looked to colourful and delicious but it was so incredibly sweet, like candy and I couldn't eat it sadly. Overall rating: ★★☆☆☆, 2/5.

Tofu And Shiitake Mushrooms With Black Bean Sauce 
I have been a vegetarian for over half of my life but I very rarely eat tofu and I have been wanting to try it more so that's why I choose this meal but sadly it just wasn't for me. I loved the egg cauliflower rice and the black bean sauce but it was very watery and not very appealing on the whole. Overall rating: ★★☆☆☆, 2/5.

Vegetable Gyoza With Miso Broth 
Sadly these last three meals were really disappointing for me but that doesn't mean you won't love them. I did love the spiralised vegetable noodles and the gyoza but it was just a bit boring! With the previous meals earlier in this post there were so many interesting toppings and textures but this one was a bit of a soupy mess. Overall rating: ★★☆☆☆, 2/5.

Overall, I think the idea is fantastic and it would have been perfect for last month when we were going through awful kitchen renovations as we didn't have a sink, oven or hob for about three weeks so these meals would have been amazing. I love the packaging, the meals came really well packaged and the choice was great for the veggie meals I picked from. The meals just need a microwave (well an oven for one meal) so they were very simple to prepare. I adored the carbonara, risotto, salad and biryani but the last three meals were so disappointing! However, I would definitely recommend the rest and this service!

You can use this link (here) to get £25 off your first order!

Have you tried Everdine? What do you think of meals like this? 

TheBalm Mad Lash Mascara

Monday, May 29, 2017
TheBalm Mad Lash Mascara
Before I received this incredible package of goodies from the wonderful people at TheBalmEU, I had only tried TheBalm Mary Loumanizer which is one of the best highlighters I've ever tried but now I have so many products to try out and I've found another favourite.

Usually I go for waterproof mascaras as I live in Manchester and rain is just a constant but during the warmer months I can get away with a regular mascara which is amazing when it comes to removal! I was sent *TheBalm Mad Lash Black Mascara (£16.75) which came in the cutest, retro packaging.
TheBalm Mad Lash Mascara
The mascara 'transforms your lashes to new levels of height and fullness as well as providing 'intense volume and definition'. Usually I don't go for mascaras with plastic wands as I always end up jabbing myself in the eye and plastic wands can be painful! However, this has a plastic wand and I love it as it gives my lashes so much definition and length, more so than any other mascara I've been using recently.

One thing I look for in a mascara is the ability to be able to take my time to apply the mascara as otherwise I'll either make a mess or injure myself and this formula is perfect for that as it doesn't dry down, flake or clump. It does have a slight curve in the wand which I'm not a massive fan of.
TheBalm Mad Lash Mascara
I love the way it leaves my lashes, it's a fantastic everyday mascara for me as I personally don't love huge clumpy lashes but that's not to say that this mascara can't be built up as it definitely can. It holds a curl fairly well and it lasts throughout the day on me, unless it's completely pouring down, which has been happening recently because, England.

Overall, I adore the packaging and I really like the formula as it leaves my lashes very black, longer and fluttery which is what I want on a everyday basis. Even though it has a plastic wand, it's easy to use and it doesn't just dump a load of mascara on my lashes weighing them down.  If you want huge or clump lashes then it won't really be for you but I have been loving this mascara. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you tried this mascara or anything else from TheBalm? 

Ultimate Father's Day Gift Guide: Part One

Saturday, May 27, 2017
Father's Day in the UK is on the 18th June this year and that's not too far away now! My dad is a little bit difficult to buy for, I know he likes aftershave and foodie gifts but I don't want to keep buying him the same thing every year! Here are some unique and interesting Father's Day or birthday gift options from some amazing sites and brands including Amara, The Soap Kitchen, Half Ounce, Osmology and Find Me A Gift!

*Half Ounce Men's Organic Gift Set (£29.99)
When it comes to gifts, the actual gift is important but more so than ever, the packaging is important. Gifts should look the part and I adore the packaging of this amazing gift set from Half Ounce which is a small UK company that makes natural and organic products that are cruelty free - that's amazing!

The gift set comes with: scissors/comb, brush, a lip balm...whisky scented, beard tonic, beard wash, beard balm, beard wax and a wash bag. It contains so many items, all of which would be great for travelling. I think this set would be amazing for beardy dads and other men in your life as it's really well presented, it's natural and the products look amazing - very victorian/apothecary themed to me. I've liberated...the lip balm as I've never seen a whisky lip balm before and I'm a lip balm hoarder so I had to try it and it's really nice! It doesn't smell or taste like whisky, it's just a subtle warm scent and it leaves my lips smooth and super soft. Definitely a gift set to keep in mind for Father's Day or a birthday!
*Osmology x The Nomad Society Candle (£15)
I've reviewed this candle already on my blog so you can read my full review if you want more information but this candle would be a fantastic gift for Father's Day as unlike most candles, this one doesn't look very feminine and it's a very unisex scent. To me it smells like the scent of the garden after a rainy day, very fresh and green. I adore this candle and it's a great price for a handmade candle that lasted quite a while.

*The Sherlock Holmes Book by DK Publishing (£16.99)
Myself and my dad really like the Sherlock BBC series as well as the films so a book like this all about Sherlock Holmes would be perfect. I love the layout of these books and they would make fantastic coffee table books as who doesn't love a bit of Sherlock. They also have a Shakespeare version as well as others - I've mentioned them on my blog previously, if you want to check out that post.

*The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb via Pushkin Press (£12)
I have read a few books published by the amazing people at Pushkin Press and I've loved all of them but this one was my favourite! I adore the cover, I love the boxy, petite size and the story is just perfect. It is a classic but it's very assessable and it's a thoroughly enjoyable adventure with ghosts, welsh folklore, magic and haunted castles.
 *The Soap Kitchen Orange & Cedarwood Body Wash & Shaving Soap 
Toiletries and aftershave are staple, safe dad gifts I think as you just can't go wrong and they are very practical. These two gift options are both handmade and contain essential oils so they smell amazing! They both smell citrusy but earthy, rich and musky - I love the scent, I think it's a nice unisex scent.

I've been using the body wash as a hand wash and it's fantastic even on my sensitive skin; it can also be used as a shampoo and even a facial wash which would be perfect for my dad as he doesn't know or care about the difference between those products anyway! I use a shaving soap and they are amazing and I think this one will be great too. However, if you don't like the sound of this scent then check out their website as they have so many products and scents to choose from.
*Wooden Memory Box (£24.99)
I love the website Find Me A Gift as they always have such amazing and unique gifts such as this gorgeous wooden memory box which contains compartments and containers for all kinds of items and souvenirs. I have a couple of memory boxes from school and for certificates but my dad doesn't have any so I think this one would be great for holiday souvenirs and other little items that don't have a home yet.

They could fill it themselves or a more personalised option would be to fill it yourself with items that are memorable and special? Maybe from a birthday or holiday? I think it would make a very different and also very special gift for Father's Day or a birthday - not just for men but for anyone as it's a lovely idea. I partiularly love the tins, notebooks and containers in the box that can be used to store special items.
*Carry On Cocktail Kit - Old Fashioned (£25)
Amara is such an amazing online store for homeware and gifts, I've mentioned them in previous gift guides as they have unique and amazing gifts for anyone...or yourself! This kit is one of the cutest and unique I've seen as it's a mini cocktail kit (no alcohol included though) to make some yourself.

The kit contains aromatic bitters, cane sugar, a linen coaster and a spoon/muddler. I adore the design of this kit, I think it's such an amazingly designed gift. The items inside the tin are within a canvas bag and you get a little cocktail recipe card too. I think this gift would be amazing for so many people, especially dad's this Father's Day. Amara is currently running a weekend long price match offer.

What do you think of my video and the items I've featured in today's gift guide? 

Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party

Friday, May 26, 2017
Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party
Whenever someone is hosting a bake sale, I'm always one to make something to sell whether it's cake, cupcakes or gingerbread cookies. I always bake something for charity when I can, especially for the primary school I used to go to where my mum works as they are always holding bake sales for various charities.

Marie Curie have started a new campaign, the 'blooming great tea party' which is an amazing name, mainly because it makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. They are encouraging everyone to bake, get together and raise money for Marie Curie and the wonderful and essential work they do. It will take place between the 23rd to the 25th of June so you have time to organise and prepare what you're going to bake.

Check out their website to find out more and to request a free fundraising pack filled with balloons, photo props, bunting, stickers and more! You could host a blooming great tea party at home, at your work or turn it into a garden party! If you don't know what you could make then visit their site for a mixture of classic recipes and very unusual ones too.

I've made a vegan spiced apple cake with a maple syrup and pecan nut frosting with apple crisps that I know isn't very spring or summer appropriate but I just love anything with apples, cinnamon and maple syrup. It was really easy to make and while it isn't the fluffiest cake, it's very delicious - annoyingly I can't find the recipe I followed but the Hot For Food recipe looks amazing.

Will you be taking part in the Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party? What's your favourite thing to bake? 

Gift Ideas For Young Dads

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Image from Victoria Ling via Pinterest
In the UK Father's Day is not far away! Or perhaps you’re feeling generous and want to buy them a gift out of the blue? Either way, I’ve come up with four trendy gift ideas that will please your dad while also ensuring they always look their best! 

Designer Sweatpants 
We wouldn't usually admit it but comfy clothes and pyjamas are what we would all want to wear most of the them. Men love them because they’re nice and comfy, and it just means they can relax. When they’re at home, it doesn’t really matter if they’re wearing sweatpants all the time. But, it’s when they nip out and still wear them that things get problematic. You love them but it can be a bit embarrassing when you go for a quick coffee, and they’re in their raggy old sweatpants. Which is why this gift idea is so great! Instead of them wearing old and unfashionable sweatpants, you can buy them a pair of designer ones that look a lot nicer. You can get some from top brands like Hugo Boss that are nicely styled and designed to give a fitted look rather than be all baggy. Now, they can go out wearing their sweatpants and still look as good and fashionable as ever! 

Beard Grooming Kit 
Some guys look great with beards but what we can all agree on is that an unkempt beard or stubble is just not a good look for most. If you’re gonna rock the beard/stubble look, at least make sure everything is shaped and looking nice and smart. So, a beard grooming kit makes for a really trendy gift idea. It provides the tools to keep their beard nice and shapely at all times. They can look after it, and ensure they rock the bearded look with ease. Likewise, they can use the clippers to shave off their beard extremely quickly, which gets rid of the excuse that they ‘didn’t have enough time to shave'. A grooming kit is useful for dads that have beards and for ones that like to keep things smooth on their face. 

Designer Sunglasses 
I don’t know what it is but some dads just can’t seem to pick out a nice pair that suits their face. Either that or they just don’t bother buying any and ruin all your summer holiday photos by squinting in every picture - it's the dad thing to do. It’s a general rule of fashion that sunglasses make everyone look better. Of course, as someone that’s probably more in-tune to fashion than they are, you’ll know what sunglasses work best for them. So, it’s the perfect excuse to go out and get them a pair as a gift. You’ll find that the general reaction will be something along the lines of ‘I’ve been meaning to get some sunglasses for ages’. They’re one of those things that dads just always forget about which makes them a brilliant gift!

Designer Coat 
If there’s one item of clothing that many dads seem to get wrong all the time, it’s their coat. Dads just can’t seem to pick out good coats. They either choose something that’s very specifically made for a certain type of weather. For example, a big thick parka that’s meant for extreme cold and wetness and my dad tends to wear the exact same coat and jackets all of the time - it's his dad look. Or, they choose something that just doesn’t go well with other clothes. What you need to do is buy them a nice designer coat that’s suitable for various conditions and can be worn with pretty much any other outfit. Black or blue coats are popular for the second reason; they suit pretty much any outfit. Then, you want to look for something that’s waterproof but also quite lightweight so it can be worn when it’s not super cold out then there won't be any more frustrating shopping expeditions where nothing is bought but the same shirt as the others in his wardrobe. 

What do you think of these gift ideas? What do you buy for father's day or birthdays? 

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest

British Sandwich Week

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Last week was British Sandwich Week (14th - 20th May) and annoyingly I'm late to party with this post but better late than never and after the horrendous events of earlier this week, I didn't want to post anything until now.

Today's post is all about nostalgia and delicious food in particular cheese, is there anything better than that combination? I was very kindly sent a huge sandwich hamper filled with cheese, bunting and sandwich essentials ft. Babybel, The Laughing Cow, Leerdammer and many other yummy goodies. If you follow me on Instagram (@ofbeautyand) then you will have seen the unboxing and a sneak peek!
I haven't had Babybel or Laughing Cow cheese since I was in high school as I used to have them in sandwiches pretty much every single day at school. We have so many memories attached to food, not just emotional ones but memories of times in our lives and to me Laughing Cow and Babybel products are just so nostalgic as I grew up having them in my lunch box in primary school almost every day.

I've created a couple of sandwiches that my child self wouldn't have had but my adult self loves! As a child I'd just have Laughing Cow cheese triangles on a sandwich or a grated cheese sandwich (my mum always used to say to me that I'd turn into cheese as I ate so much of it!) or I would have a Babybel in my lunch box as a snack along with delicious Daim bars, penguin biscuits or animal crackers - I'd love to go back to the 90's, minus the glitter hair mascara, mood rings and cheese discos *macarena anyone?*
Instead I've made sandwiches that are so nostalgic but more 'adult' than I would have had as a child. I love bagels and I definitely prefer them to plain white bread so I always start with a toasted bagel. I've added spread cheese as well as The Laughing Cow 'light' and Leerdammer cheese because the more cheese the better. I also love adding iceberg lettuce, rocket and fresh herbs to my sandwiches such as basil or dill.

I haven't had some of these products for almost ten years and they bought back lots of school memories and I forgot how creamy and delicious the Laughing Cow triangles were and I can't wait to try the other flavours - who knew they had a blue cheese option! My mum might be right that after all of these yummy sandwich goodies, I might turn into cheese!

What are your favourite sandwich fillings? Do you have any school day lunch favourites? Do you like any of the products I've featured?

Rubis Switzerland Rose Gold Tweezers

Monday, May 22, 2017
Usually I don't tend to pay too much attention to celebrity makeup or beauty recommendations however, makeup artists are different! The amazing Bobbi Brown said last year that Rubis Switzerland tweezers are 'the Ferrari of tweezers' which isn't a subtle statement, so naturally when they arrived in the post I was interested to see if they are just that good!

*Rubis Switzerland Rose Gold Christmas Star Tweezers (£29)
Firstly, the tweezers are rose gold and you know me, I love rose gold anything *yes, I'm a blogger cliche*. They don't just have a rose gold finish, they also have cut out stars along one side...I'm sold. If you didn't know I have a star tattoo on my wrist so anything with stars on and I'll want to buy it!

The tweezers are stainless steel with tips composed of surgical steel that is rust proof and very high quality as well as being designed to be very precise. They have been making tweezers in Switzerland of over 60 years so they know what they're doing!

They're comfortable to use, well, as comfortable as tweezers can be and they are very effective so you don't have to keep going over the same area again and again. I think the tips are what make the tweezers really precise and super effective even on tiny hairs. Overall, I don't know if I would say that they are the best tweezers I've ever tried but they are very cute, I love the rose gold finish and they are very effective. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

What do you think of these tweezers? Have you tried anything from Rubis Switzerland? 

TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Liquid Lipsticks + Swatches

Sunday, May 21, 2017
At heart I'm a lipstick kind of girl, they are so nostalgic to me but recently, liquid lipsticks have taken over the beauty world and I have to admit that they have taken over my 'currently using' makeup drawer too.

A couple of weeks ago an incredibly exciting email arrived and it did make me squeal slightly as it was from the super lovely and generous people at TheBalm EU about trying some of their products so you'll imagine my excitement when a package completely filled with products from TheBalm arrived *I was in beauty blogger heaven*. So over the next couple of weeks I'll be reviewing and swatching all of the products and today's post is the first!

*TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charming (£15, 7.4ml)
The first products I'm going to review are three of the gorgeous liquid lipsticks from TheBalm; they all come in the cutest retro packaging! They claim to be long lasting with a comfortable matte finish. The liquid lipsticks have a minty chocolate scent that reminds me of minty Areo chocolate bars, it's making me want to eat them...

I've tried quite a few liquid lipsticks from various brands and the ones that have a matte finish are usually aren't that easy to apply but these from TheBalm are perfect! They have such a smooth formula that makes them a dream to apply and they set within 15-20 seconds so you have time to apply a god layer before it sets.

The shade Charming is a gorgeous deep pink berry shade that I think is a great all year round shade and it will be great with so many skin tones. I have been using this shade the most as a thin layer but it can be layered to be a deep, dark vampy shade that would be perfect for autumn/winter.
*TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Charismatic (£15, 7.4ml) 
Next up is the lightest shade I have and it's my least favourite of the three but it's still so comfortable to wear, lightweight, easy to apply and the lasting power is fantastic. Charismatic is a typical 90's brown nude shade that everyone loves! It is a great everyday shade that would be perfect for work as it's fairly natural and the longevity is amazing - on me these liquid lipsticks last for about eight hours even through eating and drinking normally but if I was very careful then they could definitely last a little longer.

With some liquid lipsticks they can crack or flake off throughout the day which isn't ideal at all but thankfully these don't! They remain comfortable, lightweight and intact for most of the day even after eating which is the big test for long lasting lip products.
Top - Bottom: Charming, Charismatic, Reliable
*TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Reliable (£15, 7.4ml)
Last but not least, a shade that is pretty much tied with Charming as my favourite! Reliable is a deep red toned berry shade, on me it's a 'my lips but better and darker' shade *that phrase isn't going to catch on is it?*. I adore this shade as well as the velvety smooth formula that almost feels like a lip oil to apply - I definitely recommend all three of these gorgeous liquid lipsticks!

Overall, I adore the packaging, the shades are gorgeous and very wearable and the application is dreamy - most liquid lipsticks set so quickly that you have be apply them perfectly first time round but these are different, the formula is so smooth and easy to apply that it makes them foolproof to apply pretty perfectly. They don't feel heavy, sticky or drying on the lips which is fantastic. The longevity is fantastic at between seven to nine hours on me, even though drinking and eating they last so well and when they do wear off, it's fairly evenly and subtly. These are definitely some of the best liquid lipsticks I've tried! Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5.

Have you tried these liquid lipsticks? Have you tried anything from TheBalm? 

Organic Beauty Week + Favourite Natural Brands

Saturday, May 20, 2017
Organic Beauty Week + Natural Brands - www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
This week is Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week which is a celebration of all products and brands that are organic but I'm also including brands and products that include just some organic ingredients which are more widespread and accessible. I think for the majority of makeup and beauty users around the world, organic ingredients or an organic brands is definitely a plus but it's not at the very top of our list of necessities in order to buy a product but I am trying to make a effort to use more natural and organic brands.

*SoEco Face Brush Kit (£18)
This set contains four brushes including an angled contour brush, tapered blending brush, round foundation brush and a lip brush. All of the brushes are made with synthetic bristles and responsibly sourced bamboo. As with my other Ecotools brushes, the bristles are so soft and I adore the rose gold ferrels. I love the foundation brush and the tapered blending brush the most so far but I know I'll get so much use out of all the brushes, especially while travelling to London and Norway in the summer. I'd also recommend Ecotools brushes - Ecotools brushes were the very first makeup brushes that I purchased way back in my sixth form days which seems like a lifetime ago now!
Organic Beauty Week + Natural Brands - www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
 Neal's Yard & Deliciously Ella Skincare
Neal's Yard is a brand that I always hear so much about and I definitely want to try more from the brand; I tried the lovely skincare duo created in collaboration with Ella from Deliciously Ella last year. Neal's Yard products are organic and they all receive amazing reviews - I definitely recommend the wonderful Deliciously Ella cleanser and moisturiser. I have a full review on my blog if you want to read it.

Bodhi and Birch Pampering Products 
While Bodhi and Birch isn't an exclusively organic brand, they do use organic ingredients such as organic shea butter and they use lots of lovely natural ingredients. I have tried a few of their products and I love them - my favourite range is definitely the ylang ylang range which smells divine. They also have some fantastic gift sets. Bodhi and Birch state that they use organic ingredients whenever possible.
Organic Beauty Week + Natural Brands - www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
*Tamese and Jackson London Mint Noir Shampoo and Conditioner (£5.95 each, 250ml)
Next up is a brand that I hadn't heard of before but it's a haircare brand that isn't just suitable for vegetarians and vegans but it's halal as well as paraben free. It also contains organic ingredients! I like the packaging, I love the scent which is subtle, clean and fresh and both products are fantastic. The shampoo lathers well and leaves my hair clean without being stripped or dry. I love the conditioner, it leaves my dry, frizz prone hair so much smoother, softer and detangled. I think these products are wonderful, especially for the price!
Organic Beauty Week + Natural Brands - www.ofbeautyandnothingness.co.uk
Last up, one of my favourite brands of all time and it's The Body Shop; it's such a nostalgic brand for me as I loved their products growing up, especially the lip butters! While The Body Shop isn't an exclusively organic brand, they do use so many amazing natural, fair-trade and organic ingredients and they actually have a entirely organic range - the Nutriganics range.

I was very kindly sent the new *Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask (£16, 75ml) which is 100% vegan and it contains organic tea tree oil. I adore the packaging for the mask, it looks so fancy and luxe especially as it's very heavy for a face mask. The mask also smells amazing, to me it smells earthy, natural and a little like mens cologne and similar to a L'Occitane green tea candle I had years ago.

I also received *The Body Shop Face Mask Brush (£8) which is such a genius idea! The one thing I hate about masks is getting the mask under my nails and the whole messy application but the brush makes it such a quick, easy and neat process; as the mask has little bits of green tea in it a brush is really useful. The mask looks like a traditional face mask, it hardens and dries on the skin and as it has a slightly gritty texture it exfoliates the skin as it's removed with a hot muslin cloth. I've used this mask a couple of times now and I love it, not just because it brings back 00s face mask vibes but also because it leaves my skin incredibly smooth, soft, exfoliated and deeply cleansed.

Have you tried any of these natural and organic brands? 

Wedding Guest Outfits ft. Quiz Clothing

Friday, May 19, 2017
Next year I'm going to be a bridesmaid for one of the closest friends so for a while now we've been looking for bridesmaid dresses and now Quiz Clothing have launched their new bridal range which includes not only wedding dresses but also wedding guest outfits, bridesmaid dresses and general occasion dresses.

I've teamed up with Quiz and the lovely blogger Helen from HelsBels for a little challenge. I picked out an outfit for Helen and she kindly picked out an outfit for me from the new bridal range from Quiz Clothing and here's what she picked!

*Quiz Clothing Cream & Pink Flower Hem Skater Skirt (£26.99, UK 10)
My favourite style of dress and skirt is definitely skater, I think it is such a universally flattering shape and I also love how simple but spring like this skirt is! I never really wear things like this but I'm loving it and I think it will be great for spring and summer garden parties or as a wedding guest outfit. As it's a skirt, I can pair whatever top I want with it which makes it so versatile and I chose a casual grey tee from Monki.
*Quiz Pink Embroidered Tie Up Heels (£29.99, UK 3)
How you seen heels that are more beautiful that these! I am a big fan of the current embroidery trend and these fit the bill perfectly; the gorgeous floral embroidery is a lovely combination with the skirt. The heels very photogenic, they are so perfect with the outfit and as wedding guest or bridesmaid shoes. They are also surprisingly comfortable and the adjustable ties make sure that they can be made more secure. The heels also come in black and grey but the pink is perfect for spring!
*Quiz Clothing Pink Faux Suede Small Bag (£14.99)
Helen also picked out a gorgeous bag and I couldn't have picked better myself; I love the colour and the size - it's the perfect size for the essentials such as my phone, cards/money, beauty essentials and more. It also comes with a chain shoulder strap which is great for me as that's how I wear all bags. I have so many massive bags but whenever I need a small bag I never have one. As with the skirt and heels, I know I'll get a lot of use out of this bag throughout spring and summer.
I wanted to show another way you could wear the skirt and heels with a fluffy and cosy pink jumper which is from Topshop a couple of years ago. Spring in Manchester is still pretty chilly so bare legs are just about possible with a cosy jumper! I don't know why as it isn't usually my style but I love the pastel pink, greys and lighter shades (and in my hair) for spring and summer.
I was also sent the *Quiz Clothing 3/4 Cropped Jacket (£17.99, Pink) but I completely forgot to photograph it and since the weekend it has been constantly raining - welcome to manchester! It's a great little jacket that I think would be perfect with the first outfit or worn casually with a white tee, jeans and the embroidered heels. There are lots of other colour options to choose from too so there's pretty much a jacket to match most dresses on their site.

Overall, I couldn't be happier with the heels and the bag as both are gorgeous and I'll get so much use out of them. I also love the skirt even though it isn't my usual style and I think all of the items will be perfect as wedding guest or even bridesmaid outfits/accessories. They have such a wide range of bridal, wedding guest and bridesmaid dresses, heels and accessories to choose from!

Is it possible for me to pose without touching my hair...no 

What do you think of my two outfits? Have you bought anything from Quiz Clothing? 

Buying Your First Car

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Image from Car & Vintage via Pinterest
I passed my driving test back in December (second time round with only four minors) and since then I've become a named driver on my dads car/insurance as it was the cheapest option but it's not ideal. We have been sharing the car which is an adorable but old Renault Clio that I love and find really easy to drive even though it has a very heavy clutch however I'd love my own car. I've been looking on and off for the past couple of months at cars but it's quite difficult to know what is good or not and there are so many factors that go into buying a car, especially your first car.

Obviously one of the first things to think about is your budget, not only for the car but insurance, how much road tax you'll have to pay, the MOT or an initial service or fees you might have to pay as well as breakdown cover. The price for most first time car buyers, like myself, isn't going to be huge and I don't think you'd want a luxe, expensive car initially as you may have passed your test but you still carry on learning. My dad has said from the beginning of my learning to drive that you learn to pass the test, then you learn how to drive and it's so true, especially when driving on your own.

Brand, Model & Style
Another important factor is the brand, model and style of the car you want; for example, do you want an automatic now rather than a manual? Do you want a more eco friendly car with few emissions and therefore less tax? Do you like one brand/model over another? Which brand is more reliable?

If I had the money, I'd definitely want a cute vintage Fiat 500 from the 50's/60's but they are a little pricy for a first car and if anything went wrong with it then I don't think parts would be cheap either but I can dream! There are a few articles out there about the best car for learners and for first time cars buyers and all of them are little practical cars like the Renault Clio. Research online, ask friends or family and find out what everyone thinks is the most reliable brand and model - personal recommendations and reviews are so useful!

Insurance Group & Road Tax
Different cars have different insurances prices based on engine size or other factors, for example, the Renault Clio I drive has a 'sport' engine so the insurance is more expensive if you're not a named driver. Look at the car you want or an approximation, get on some insurance comparison sites and compare the quotes - as with most things it's better to shop around!

For road tax, as of April 2017, there have been some changes and prices have risen *cries* so make sure you check! It's based on the cars carbon dioxide emissions and the list price so the more eco-friendly the better but that does usually raise the initial price of the car.

If you didn't want to or can't buy a car outright then you could do what I'm doing and share a car/be a named driver on a family members car if you can (although it's not a ideal option, your own insurance is better). Alternatively, a personal lease can be a cheap choice as it's kind of the car version of renting a house where you pay a certain amount per month for the car.

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest 

Do you drive? If so, what was your first car? What is your dream car? 

Top Ways To Whiten Your Teeth: Dentist Recommended

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Image from apartmenttherapy.com via Pinterest
A great smile is instantly recognisable. It’s the perfect gateway to a great first impression, and yet so many of us struggle to stop daily life polluting our pearly whites. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways for us to whiten our smiles and get our grins up to scratch. Here are the top ways to whiten your teeth.

Baking Soda & Hydrogen Peroxide
A natural antibacterial agent, hydrogen peroxide is great for keeping both teeth and gums healthy. When combined with baking soda however, the paste removes plaque and daily grime, leaving your teeth looking fresh and white. For best results, either gargle the paste for one minute, or place it on your toothbrush and brush as you would normally. Obviously do your research beforehand!

Coconut Oil
It’s amazing to think that coconut oil has any more uses than it does already, but as it turns out, the incredible oil can whiten teeth too. Coconut oil includes antimicrobial properties which can be effective in both protecting and cleaning the teeth and gums. All you have to do is take a spoonful of the oil, and gargle the substance for between five and ten minutes. Admittedly, the taste can take a bit of getting used to, but if you’re looking to whiten your teeth with as little chemical interference as possible, this is definitely the way to go.

Heather here, just to interrupt to say that oil pulling is something that I have tried numerous times and I find that it helps to keep my teeth a little whiter than usual but as stated it isn't the most pleasant process/taste; however it is a fantastic natural option that I'd definitely recommend before trying anything else.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Both nicotine and caffeine are wonderfully addictive, and unfortunately they can ruin your attempts at achieving a pearly white smile. If this is an issue with you, then apple cider vinegar is most certainly your answer. Containing a mixture of acetic acid, potassium, magnesium, probiotics and enzymes, the vinegar both kills bad bacteria and promotes the growth of good, probiotic bacteria.

Professional Teeth Whitening
Sometimes, you just need a good old fashioned scrub. Professional teeth whitening is safe, reliable and likely to last a long time. While chemicals are used, they’re used in a controlled way that ensures your enamel is kept intact, and your dental hygiene is protected.

Our smile can so easily define us, and so if you’re worried that yours isn’t quite as bright as you’d like it to be, why not try whitening themt? At the end of the day, first impressions are everything!

About the Author 
As a cosmetic dentist, I’m dedicated to giving people the smile they’ve always wanted. If you’d like to take a look at how we at The Smile Dentist can help you, take a look at the website here.

*This is a sponsored post
*Image from Pinterest

Hayfever Helpers with Superdrug Health

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
I have had hayfever for the past three or so years and I didn't know how lucky I was before then to not have suffered with hayfever! Hayfever is an allergic condition where your body thinks that pollen grains you inhale are dangerous and need to be destroyed, as if they were a pathogen hence the symptoms of feeling ill, having a runny nose, itchy eyes or a cough, stuffy sinuses or general feeling like you have a cold.

Everyones hayfever symptoms are going to be a little different, for me, my hayfever symptoms manifest themselves in the form of a runny nose, tingling sinuses, headaches and watering eyes as well as feeling like I can't breathe as normal, like I'm breathing in something thick and irritating *sexy*. I think that my eczema and hayfever are in some way connected too which is great...I've tried so many antihistamines, including loratadine and while they do help, it's definitely not enough to tackle my hayfever symptoms so the best option for me has been a multi-product approach.

Antihistamines are a common way of relieving hayfever symptoms, the common options in the UK include: cetrizine hydrochloride and *loratadine tablets (£3.49, 14 tablets) which are both available on the superdrug website. I've tried both as well as a couple of others including chlorphenamine maleate and fexofenadine, the latter is a prescription only antihistamine and oh boy...it was not fun! Check out the non-prescription antihistamines out there but if they don't work, go to your GP and see if they have any options for prescription antihistamines.

Nasal Sprays + Barrier Balms
Another option which happens to be the grossest is nasal sprays. I've tried a couple including Avemys nasal spray suspension (such a nice, not disgusting sounding product...) which doesn't help me really, it makes me feel like I have a cold! However, it is another option to try out if you didn't want to take antihistamine tablets.

Let's up the gross factor shall we? There are also nasal/skin balms that you can use as a barrier to try to prevent the inhalation of pollen. I have tried one ages ago and I found it did help (I'll have to find it again) but only if you use it immediately after you've washed your face/woken up.

Eye Sprays & Drops 
Lastly for the products that I have personally tried, eye sprays and drops. My eyes can become a little dry and irritated as I wear contact lenses most of the time and hayfever does make it worse. Eye drops can definitely help although I always end up blinking out the drops...thankfully that isn't an issue anymore because of the *Optrex Activist 2 in 1 Eye Spray (£15.99, 10ml) which is a miracle product for me right now!

It's designed for dry and irritated eyes which mine definitely are at this time of the year especially! You just spray it over closed eyes and instantly my eyes feel so much better, less dry and less irritated which is fantastic. It also states that it 'wont smudge eye makeup' and it doesn't although I haven't tried it with full on winged liner or a smoky eye, I couldn't wear that anyway with the awful hayfever I have. While it obviously doesn't get rid of hayfever symptoms, it definitely helps me to feel like less of a runny nosed, achy and ill form of myself! It is a little pricy but personally it's so worth it - also it doesn't irritate the eczema I have over my eyes, I'm impressed.

Superdrug are currently having an offer of buy one, get the second half price on selected allergy products! 

Do you have hayfever/allergies? Have you tried any of these products? 

New In Skincare ft. The Ordinary

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
If you've been reading my blog for any length of time then you'll know that I'm a bit obsessed with skincare and serums! Before starting my blog, I had absolutely no idea about serums or the sheer amount of skincare brands out there to try *thank you blogging for drawing me into the world of skincare...not so much for the massive amount of skincare I have*.

This post is all about the three skincare, well, two skincare products and one primer, I have been loving recently from Dr Botanicals which is a lovely natural brand and The Ordinary which looks very medical and scientific but both are amazing and are well worth checking out!

*Dr Botanicals Cocoa Noir Time Reverse Facial Serum (RRP £91, SALE £19.99, 30ml)
You may know that I'm a Dr Botanicals brand ambassador so I not only get to try out lots of amazing products but I also get to bring you a HUGE discount code for the product of the month using the code: HEATHER1.

The serum is not tested on animals, it's suitable for vegans and contains lovely ingredients such as geranium flower oil, seabuckthorn fruit oil and neroli oil. I love the packaging as I love everything from Dr Botanicals!

This serum is one of the most heavenly scented serums I've used, to me it smells like vanilla and rich earthy dark chocolate, I love it! Not only does it smell divine but the texture is so silky and it absorbs so quickly while leaving my skin so moisturised, smooth and nourished. This serum would be amazing during the colder months and for dry skin types (it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin so I'd pre-cautiously recommend it for sensitive skin types) as it's so rich.
Next up is a brand that everyone and their mum has been talking about, The Ordinary. Their skincare is so inexpensive, I bought two products via Asos a couple of months ago and I've been loving both as they're so effective but gentle and non-irritating which is perfect for my sensitive skin!

The Ordinary High Spreadability Fluid Primer (£5.50)
I have been loving this primer, it has made some foundations that previously looked cakey on my skin look so much better and smoother. The primer feels like it's just pure silicones as it's so smoothing and it has that slippy consistency that silicone primers have. I love the look of the packaging but annoyingly the lid doesn't screw on properly anymore so I can't put it away in my currently using makeup drawer; I'd still recommend it though!

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£6)
If you have dry skin as I do then hyaluronic acid is your best friend as it very deeply moisturises the skin and helps to make my skin look and feel moisturised, smooth and more comfortable. I adore this serum and I can't believe how cheap it is as the previous one I was using was priced at around £35! If you want this product but don't know how to use it, here's what I do: I use this product after I cleanse on dry skin as a serum then I apply my usual moisturiser - I use it twice a day. If you have dry skin then you need both of these now! *waiting for you to go and buy them*

Have you tried any of these products? What skincare are you loving? 

Audiobook TBR with BookBeat

Monday, May 15, 2017
Bookbeat has not only opened up a new way of consuming books to me but it has also made me choose more non-fiction and be able to get through more books as I can listen to books at times when I couldn't read them such as while cooking, baking, getting ready for the day and cleaning, so glam.

As I am writing this, probably a week or so while you're reading this, I am onto my ninth audiobook since I started the trial back in March. I have listened to five non-fiction and three fiction audiobooks on Bookbeat but there are still so many audiobooks on my audiobook equivalent of a TBR 'to be read' list.

I have quite a few non-fiction audiobooks I want to get to including: 21st Century Dodos by Steve Stack, The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders, A Short History of the United States by Robert V. Remini and Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes; the latter I do have the physical book of but I keep putting off reading it so I think an audiobook version will be better for me!
The next section of audiobooks I want to listen to includes the 'masterpieces in miniature' range by Agatha Christie which is a new series to me. I love the Poirot TV series and believe it or not but my great great great uncle (or something like that) Sir James Watts was married to Agatha Christies sister and Agatha Christie stayed at his home, Abney Hall, a few times and wrote a couple of books there...he's literally my only interesting relative! 

I definitely want to get to these very short (sometimes less than thirty minutes) stories read by the wonderful Christopher Lee. Thankfully these audiobooks do count on GoodReads to the 2017 reading challenge and the audiobooks I've listened to so far have definitely helped bump up the number of books that I've read/listened to this year.

If you wanted to subscribe then it's £14.90 per month and there isn't a limit on how many audiobooks you can listen to! You can get a ONE MONTH free trial using this link (it's not an affiliate link) rather than the normal two week free trial!

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, are there any you'd recommend? Will you be taking advantage of the Bookbeat free trial? 

New In: Eczema Skincare ft. Cetraben

Monday, May 15, 2017
New In: Eczema Skincare ft. Cetraben
I have suffered with eczema and generally sensitive skin since I was around 14 years old and I also had it as a baby too. Finding the triggers is one thing that I can really help reduce sensitivity and eczema flareups but narrowing down triggers can be so difficult; however in the meantime prescription treatments and a good range of skincare products to rely on is so important.

Through my blog I've been able to find a few brands and products that don't irritate my skin and help to keep my skin as comfortable and moisturised as it can be such as Antipodes, Lush and Caudalie products but here are my latest favourites from a brand that's new to me - Cetraben.

Cetraben is a brand with a range of skincare solely produced for those with sensitive, dry, eczema prone and problematic skin types and mine definitely fits into these categories. The products don't contain any animal derived ingredients, they are not tested on animals and the products are suitable for all ages. I was kindly sent a few of their products to try out and I've been loving them!

*Cetraben Daily Cleansing Cream (£7.99, 200ml)
Let's start with the 2 in 1 cleanser and moisturiser (to be honest I'm never a fan of 2 in 1 or 3 in 1 products like this) which is suitable for children and adults. It's free from parabens, lanolin (which is great as it's derived from sheep glands...so I'm very glad it isn't an ingredient!) and SLS. I've been using this cleansing cream as a hand wash as I do annoyingly have eczema on my hands as well as my face.

The cleansing cream doesn't lather up, it's effective and it leaves my skin feeling soft, smooth and moisturising - it feels as though a moisturising layer (but not greasy) has been left on the skin which is great for my hands as they are perpetually dry!

*Cetraben Lotion (£7.99, 200ml)
If you have dry skin, especially if you have eczema then you'll know just how important serums, oils and moisturisers are! I love my serums and face creams twice a day and I use hand cream as often as I need to which is very often as my hands are always so dry and uncomfortable. I've been using this lotion as a hand cream while at my desk and it's working so well!

I love the pump dispenser, especially as I'm using it as a hand cream. It feels almost like it has a whipped consistency as it's so light on the skin but it is still very smoothing and moisturising on my eczema prone hands. It's great as a hand cream because it absorbs quickly without leaving a thick heavy cream on the skin so I can get back to typing and editing photos very quickly.
New In: Eczema Skincare ft. Cetraben
*Cetraben Ointment (£6.99, 120g)
Now onto my least favourite product of the four I've tried but just because it isn't what I'm looking for, that doesn't mean it won't work for you. This ointment is very thick, almost balm like and it feels very oily on the skin so it would be great to use on hands/feet overnight with cotton gloves/socks on so it can work over a prolonged time.

*Cetraben Cream (£4.99, 50ml)
Last but not least, one of my favourite products from the range. The cream is a fantastic size for travelling with, it comes with a very handy pump dispenser and the cream to me is a richer, thicker version of the Cetraben Lotion. Again, I use it as a hand cream but also on other areas of eczema and general dryness. It takes longer to absorb but it is very smoothing and moisturising; it leaves my skin feeling much more comfortable which is so rare when I have an eczema flareup!

Overall, I really like this range of products, I think they are so effective and the price is amazing! The pump dispensers are so handy and I will continue to get so much use out of these products, especially the lotion, cream and cleansing cream. All of the products seem to be on offer online (superdrug/boots) so they are well worth trying. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you tried anything from Cetraben? What are your current favourite skincare/bodycare products? 

Gift Ideas: Dartington Crystal

Sunday, May 14, 2017
Already this year, there have been a few milestone birthdays for friends and family as well as my parents 25th wedding anniversary and myself and my closest friends turn 25 this year too *cries* so there are a lot of milestone birthdays coming up.

When I'm giving gifts, I try to give gifts that obviously I think they'll like and as many as I can but also gifts that are a bit special especially for a milestone birthdays or events. Special gifts are a bit harder to come across but Darlington Crystal have some amazingly beautiful gift options! I was very kindly sent the stunning *Dartington Crystal Gold Celebration Champagne Flutes (£45) which are just gorgeous! Dartington are celebrating 50 years this year!
The glasses come in a lovely presentation box, they are handmade and the extra special feature is that they have real crystallised Swarovski elements on the glasses which adds such a luxe touch! The stem is clear but the rest of the glass has a unique golden, almost iridescent looking tint to it which I love  but they do come in a fully clear option as well as very unique pink variation.

I think the glasses look so gorgeous in the presentation box and they are very photogenic! They'd make such a lovely and special gift for a birthday or a special event such as a wedding or anniversary. My parents 25th anniversary has already passed but I think this gift would have been absolutely perfect.

They have such a gorgeous range of glasses of all kinds as well as beautiful vases, photo frames, candle holders, engraved gifts, paperweights and more to choose from - the vases are so pretty, especially the 'heather flower bottle' vase.

What do you think of these gorgeous champagne flutes? Do you have any special birthdays or events coming up?