UK GIVEAWAY! Win Acrylic Makeup Storage from Songmics + Review

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Acrylic Makeup Storage from SONGMICS
Acrylic makeup storage have long been the go-to for beauty bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers and anyone who loves displaying and building up their makeup collection, so I'm thrilled to bring you a giveaway in partnership with Songmics so that you can win one of their popular acrylic makeup organisers. Read on to find out how to enter!

There's something so pleasing about being able to see exactly what you have in your makeup collection, and these on-trend, clear acrylic units are a must-have for your vanity table. There are a number of brands out there who sell these and Songmics kindly sent me the following two-piece set to share with you all today.

Acrylic Makeup Storage from SONGMICS
The first part of this Songmics set has three sections and a dedicated lipstick holder area where you can display 12 of your favourite lipsticks. I was able to easily fit any of my lipsticks into these from a variety of brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, MAC, Urban Decay and Kat Von D, so any standard sizes will work nicely. 

Next to the lipstick area are two sections and these are perfect for small palettes or chunkier products that you want to stand up which may not fit into the drawers below. For reference, I've included a boxed Too Faced Blusher, a Dolce & Gabanna Eyeshadow Quad and a Hurraw Lip Balm in the front, and a Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette and a Bare Minerals Eyeshadow Quad in the back.

There's a small thin but deep section at the back of the lipsticks which you can use for more palettes (I put a Lorac Eyeshadow Palette and an RMS Beauty Quad in there), or it would be a good place to store some makeup brushes.

Size-wise, it's 8.5 inches across, 4.5 inches depth and 3 inches high (at the highest point at the back).

Acrylic Makeup Storage from SONGMICS
Acrylic Makeup Storage from SONGMICS
Acrylic Makeup Storage from SONGMICS
The second part is a three drawer unit and it surprised me how much makeup I could fit in! I tried out a lot of different products in this and the biggest items that managed to make the cut were the Yadah All Day Cushion and the Bellapierre Banana Setting Powder - both of which are quite chunky. 

Each drawer measures 9.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches so there's plenty of space; in the top drawer, I filled it with some of my most used bronzers and blushers (both powder and liquid/tube formats); in the second drawer I added a few favourite eyeshadow sticks/liquids, eyeliners, mascara, a Physician's Formula Nude Eyeshadow Palette, a KIKO Concealer and some brow products. For the third and final drawer, I placed some Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick Minis, the Yadah Cushion, Bellapierre Banana Setting Powder, PUR Pressed Mineral Foundation Compact and a couple of highlighters and a BB travel size from Marcelle.

Acrylic Makeup Storage from SONGMICS
Acrylic Makeup Storage from SONGMICS
Most of the acrylic storage sets from Songmics can be stacked or used separately (as shown above) so you can customise your makeup storage to your exact needs and how you want to display everything. They have lots of different organisers on Amazon, so be sure to check them out - they'd make ideal Christmas presents for anyone who loves makeup. Give them a like and follow on Facebook too for more giveaways and product news :)

Want to win your own Songmics set? Enter via the Rafflecopter below, and one lucky winner will be drawn at random when the giveaway ends on 13/10/2018 - good luck!

Introducing: YOPE - Ginger Sandalwood Natural Liquid Soap review

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

YOPE - Ginger Sandalwood Natural Liquid Soap review
You guys know that I'm a sucker for cute packaging and when I was recently introduced to YOPE, I instantly fell in love.

I mean look at it - it's a juggling owl! Well, I think it's an owl? Regardless, it's CUTE!

YOPE is a Polish brand that's recently launched here in the UK in Waitrose. They have a huge range of shower gels, body lotions, hand creams and they even have a new line of eco-friendly washing up liquids, bathroom, floor and kitchen cleaners too. However, they are most well known for their Natural Liquid Soaps and I was so happy when this cutie arrived on my doorstep the other week.

As my regular readers will already know, I tend to avoid SLS in my products these days as it can sometimes dry out and irritate my skin, and everything from YOPE is free from SLS and SLES. The brand has been developed by a team of cosmetologists and dermatologists to be safe and healthy for everyone in the family to use, especially young children. The composition of the formulas are all 92% natural and feature low-processed ingredients, with no Parabens, PEGs, Silicones or artificial fragrances in any of their products.  

YOPE - Ginger Sandalwood Natural Liquid Soap review
They have a wide variety of natural scents/flavours available and I've been loving this Ginger Sandalwood one which smells so uplifting with a nice subtle zing! The Sandalwood also adds an Autumnal element as it's quite woody and warming which works very well with the Ginger IMO. These ingredients aren't only included for their scent though as Organic Ginger Root Extract helps to fight off free radicals, whilst natural Sandalwood Extract promotes healthy skin regeneration, so it feels gentle and nourishing on the skin. Vitamin B5 and Allantoin are also present to further hydrate, refresh and soften, making it a pleasure to use.

As with most Liquid Soaps, these are multi-purpose so you can use them to wash your hands, in the shower or bath, and I've been using it to clean my makeup brushes as well. The bottle comes in a huge 500ml size so it's excellent value for money - definitely give them a try!

YOPE Ginger Sandalwood Natural Liquid Soap* (500ml, £7.99) is available from Waitrose.

Have you discovered any new beauty brands at your local supermarket recently?

Green Beauty: S5 Neutralise Cleanser, Purity Serum + Balance Fluid review

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

S5 Neutralise Cleanser, Purity Serum + Balance Fluid
Widely known in the beauty industry for their innovative serums, the organic skincare brand S5 has recently undergone a reformulation and repackaging makeover, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on some of their products!

Described as 'intelligent organic skincare for modern living', S5 is a specially formulated range of high-end skincare which helps to combat the environmental and physical stresses of everyday life such as pollution, foreign chemicals, lack of sleep and poor nutrition. These are all common culprits which can cause inflammation in the skin as well as premature ageing, so S5 has developed products to deal with a range of different skin problems and complaints. 

One of the key concepts behind the brand is their scientific research and emphasis on using natural ingredients which grow in the extremes of nature (such as mountain, desert, arctic and tropical climates), and what active components they can use to help make the skin more resilient overall. I really like this idea and it introduces a range of exotic natural ingredients to consumers who may not have tried anything like this before. 

Made in small batches in their own studio lab in Hertfordshire, all of S5's products are cruelty-free, suitable for sensitive skin, free from SLS/SLES, parabens, petrochemicals, TEA, artificial colourings and are vegan friendly. Like many brands, S5 are constantly improving their skincare, and this week sees the launch of their 'second evolution' with new formulas and a sleeker rebrand to go with it.

I've had the following products for the past month to try out which are all suitable for oily, combination and sensitive skin types, so here are my thoughts!

S5 Neutralise Cleanser, Purity Serum + Balance FluidS5 Purity Serum* (30ml, £48, link)
The Purity Serum is something that I've used on/off from S5 for a few years now (it was first featured in a favourite serums post of mine back in 2013 here), and I was keen to see what this new formula was like. Specifically developed to tackle acne and blemishes, this 99.65% (and 86.72% organic) natural treatment has been clinically proven in tests to reduce the appearance of blemishes by 42% and sebum production by 65%. 

This serum features an effective bioactive blend of Andiroba, Acai and Copaiba, which work in synergy together to balance sebum and blitz blemishes, and there's Alpine Epilobium to further balance oil production and reduce the appearance of large pores, whilst the popular Willow Bark is included to clarify congested pores and help promote natural exfoliation of skin cells.

Purity has a typical runny serum-like consistency that absorbs fast and layers well underneath other products such as face oils and moisturisers, so it was easy to incorporate into my skincare routine. It feels very soothing, and unlike many other acne targeted treatments, it doesn't dry out my skin. I mostly like to use this 1-2 times a week, but if I'm dealing with a breakout, I'll use it every evening until it clears up, and it does help to speed up the process very well.

S5 Neutralise Cleanser, Purity Serum + Balance Fluid
S5 Neutralise Cleanser* (100ml, £24, link)
A lot of cleansers for oilier and combination skin types can be too harsh or stripping, but this Neutralise Cleanser is like a breath of fresh air, so it's perfect for sensitive skin too. Texture-wise, it's very light, oil-free and because there are no sulphates, it doesn't foam or lather up much, but it does do an excellent job of gently cleansing the skin and will even remove some light/mineral based makeup too. Given the price though, I prefer to use this as a morning cleanser instead because it's so nice and refreshing - it really helps to wake up my tired skin a treat and it never feels dry or irritated afterwards. 

Two superstar ingredients in this cleanser are African Moringa Peptides which help to protect the skin against environmental aggressors and pollution (another good reason to use it in the morning), and Prickly Pear Cactus Extract that's revered for its natural hydrating and soothing properties.


S5 Balance Fluid* (50ml, £46, link)
To complete this three-step routine from S5, I tested out their Balance Fluid which is an anti-ageing moisturiser that's been specially designed to balance and protect oily, combination and reactive skin. Like the rest of the range, I love the sleek glass packaging that comes with an inbuilt pump, and a friend of mine was quick to compliment it when I showed it to her the other day - the rebrand is definitely a winner!

Featuring Alpine Epilobium and an 'Extreme Protection Complex', it helps to balance excess sebum production, reduce the appearance of pores, and protect the skin against the ageing effects of everyday pollution. Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid is also included to instantly hydrate and plump up fine lines and wrinkles. This moisturiser is incredibly lightweight; the 'fluid' name is spot on here as it describes the texture perfectly. As it's so lightweight, it absorbs quickly and creates a lovely smooth and mattified base for makeup - I can happily skip using a primer whenever I've used this which is always a welcome bonus.

Check out the full range of S5 Skincare at s5skincare.com

Have you tried anything from S5?

Easy Baking: How To Make Crusty Artisan Bread in a Bread Maker/Machine (Chocolate Chip & Cherry Sourdough Bread recipe - Vegan)

Monday, 1 October 2018

Chocolate Chip & Cherry Sourdough Bread recipe - Vegan
If you remember my Chunky Apple & Spelt Soda Bread recipe from a few weeks back (check out that post here if you missed it), you'll know that I've been eager to try my hand at baking some sourdough/artisan bread for a while now.

Life has certainly been getting in the way of my baking attempts recently, but I have been able to make some advances in the kitchen with a little helping hand from a Panasonic bread machine, and I highly recommend them if you're busy/short on time, or simply don't have the energy to do all that kneading yourself! They basically do all the hard work for you and I've had some great success with making a couple of different variants of crusty bread recently - all of which have been delicious and are far healthier than what you'll find in the supermarket as you have complete control over what ingredients to use.

My favourite recipe at the moment has been for a Chocolate Chip and Cherry Sourdough Bread and for this, I simply followed a basic White Sourdough recipe (Jamie Oliver and Paul Hollywood have some good ones), and then added in some dairy-free Dark Chocolate Chips and a few dried Cherries as the last step, before it all went into the bread maker. I was surprised by how well it turned out and after a few tweaks here and there, I've managed to get it perfect.

Heads up: You'll need a Sourdough starter before you attempt this recipe - I used this recipe from The Guardian for mine, and a bread machine that has a Hard Crust Bread setting on it.

Chocolate Chip & Cherry Sourdough Bread recipe - Vegan
Ingredients (makes 1 loaf):
  • 450g Organic Strong White Flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 50g Organic Spelt Flour
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Handful of dairy-free Dark Chocolate or Cacao Chips
  • 3-4 Dried Cherries, cut into small pieces

(for the Levain):
  • 80g Active Sourdough Starter
  • 80g Organic Strong White Flour

Method:
  • Make the levain the night before going to bed and this is pretty easy as you simply combine your Sourdough Starter and the 80g Strong White Flour in a bowl with 80ml of cold water, and mix it until it's all smooth. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave on the side overnight at room temperature. In the morning, your bowl mixture should look bubbly. 
  • The next day, in a separate large bowl, add the Strong White Flour, Spelt Flour and pinch of Sea Salt, mix together and make a well in the centre. Add the levain and 300ml of cold water.
  • Mix everything together until you have no lumps. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for around 30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the water.
  • Pour the mixture into the pan of your bread machine, push the Dark Chocolate Chips and Cherries into the dough so that they are well covered, choose the setting (one for Hard Crust Bread will give you the best results for this recipe) and let the breadmaker work its magic. 
  • Once completed, allow to cool slightly before adding a light dusting of White Flour over the top to finish it off. Enjoy it sliced warm or cold with your favourite toppings. Any type of nut butter and jam works well with this one!

Chocolate Chip & Cherry Sourdough Bread recipe - Vegan
Storage tip: Keep it in a bread bin for up to a week (later on in the week it's great for toasting), or slice it and store in the freezer for up to a month. 

[This post is sponsored by Panasonic]

Have you ever used a bread machine?

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September Empties: Products I've Used Up

Sunday, 30 September 2018

I had a feeling that I was going to have a bumper load of Empties this month, so I wasn't surprised to see my Empties box overflowing with products today! Let's jump straight in then, as there's a lot to chat about.

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels
I've had a rough time this month with about two weeks of flu and let me tell you - when I have the flu, I literally look like death warmed up. Seriously, it's not pretty! Luckily, I had a pack of these in my skincare stash and they are fantastic for quickly depuffing your eyes and making you look like you've had a full eight hours of sleep. Repurchase? Definitely!

RMS Beauty Ultimate Makeup Remover Wipe
I don't use a lot of wipes these days, but I like to have some handy for travelling. These ones from RMS Beauty are basically coated in pure Organic Coconut Oil and don't contain anything else, so they're very gentle on the skin. They worked well with removing mineral-based makeup but struggled with shifting waterproof mascara, and given how expensive they are, I don't think I would bother picking these up again. Repurchase? No.

September Empties: Products I've Used Up
Green People Hydrating After Sun Soothing Moisturiser*
This is one of my favourite after-sun formulas and I really enjoyed using it all Summer long. It isn't sticky or greasy, and feels wonderfully hydrating - just what you want to soothe the skin after too much fun in the sun! Repurchase? Yes.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Acid Daily Cleansing Pads
There are so many budget-friendly options out there if you want to add some Glycolic acid to your skincare routine, but I'm a big fan of these cleansing pads from Superdrug as they feel gentle, do a good job, but don't irritate my skin. I always stock up when they're half price. Repurchase? Yes.

B. Effective Stubborn Makeup Remover
Another cheap-as-chips favourite of mine is this eye makeup remover from Superdrug's B range. This works a charm and is on the same level as much pricier brands in terms of performance, yet you can often pick it up for a mere £4 when it's on offer! An absolute bargain and massively underrated. Repurchase? Yes.

Esse Probiotic Serum*
For something much, much more expensive, Esse's Probiotic Serum was a real pleasure to use and my skin fell in love with it. Due to its hefty price tag, I didn't use this every day and instead rotated it with some of my more affordable serums so that it lasted longer. If you're into luxury probiotic skincare, Esse is a worthy brand to look into. Repurchase? It's out of my budget at the moment, but I would be tempted if I saw it on sale. 

September Empties: Products I've Used Up
Weleda Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion*
I've yet to come across a Weleda product that I don't like, and I'm a big fan of their Wild Rose range which smells beautiful. Their Body Lotions have a gorgeous formula and absorb easily into the skin - I loved using this after a long hot bath. Repurchase? Yes.

Nuxe Reve De Miel Face Cleansing & Makeup-Removing Gel
Received this in a recent GWP and I hated it. It left my skin feeling tight, dry and not very clean (like there was still some residue left behind), plus it didn't remove all of my makeup. Repurchase? Nope!

Evolve Organic Beauty Hyaluronic Serum 200*
Oh, it was a sad day when this ran out because it's one of the best Hyaluronic Acid based serums that I've ever used! It feels virtually weightless on the skin, absorbs rapidly and it really plumps everything up, making your complexion look more refreshed and rejuvenated. Repurchase? Will do once I use some other serums up.

Antipodes Juliet Brightening Gel Cleanser*
I love a gel cleanser in the Summer months and this one from Antipodes served me well when it was hot and sticky outside. Great for oily and combination skin, it gives a deep cleanse without stripping the skin and helps to clear up blemishes as well. Repurchase? I'd happily buy this again next Spring/Summer.

September Empties: Products I've Used Up
Weleda Evening Primrose Revitalising Body Oil*
Lovely body oil, very rich and nourishing so perfect to use for a pampering session and another great product to apply after a hot bath to rehydrate the skin. Repurchase? Yes.

Jung & Schön Cleansing Milk*
This came to me in a European beauty and lifestyle box and is from the Austrian brand Jung & Schön which translates as 'young and beautiful'. It's a nice and gentle light cleansing lotion/milk with a fresh and slightly fruity scent to it - it was very nice to use. Repurchase? Would pick it up again if I saw it in the UK.

A'kin Brightening Rosehip Oil*
A'kin do the best rosehip oils in my opinion - there's just something about their formulas which feels very refined and high-quality.  I mainly use it as a facial oil in the evenings to help lighten any old acne scars and brighten up pigmentation areas. Repurchase? Already have another bottle in my stash.

LUSH Snow Fairy Shower Gel
I'm a sucker for the sickly sweet, candy-floss like scent of Snow Fairy and always overdose on it in the Christmas sales. This is my last bottle from last year's haul and I'm looking forward to treating myself to another bottle this Christmas! Repurchase? Yes.

Have you tried any of these? 
What have you used up recently?

Introducing: Spark Beauty by Feel Unique - Discovering Luxury Indie Beauty Brands from the USA

Friday, 28 September 2018

Spark Beauty by Feel Unique - Discovering Indie Beauty Brands from the USA
I love to support indie beauty brands so I was over the moon when I found out that Feel Unique have a new dedicated section on their website showcasing a range of luxury indie brands from the USA - how exciting!

With so many amazing places to shop for makeup and skincare online these days, it can be all too easy to skip past the smaller, niche brands (or not even find them to start with), so it's fantastic that Feel Unique have launched Spark Beauty - an easy one-stop shop for discovering the best high-end indie brands from the States. 

There are currently twelve brands listed which include skincare, body care, fragrance and makeup, and I imagine many more are on their way soon. To give you a little taster, here are some of the most coveted products that are available from Spark Beauty to whet your appetite. 

Ogee Sculpted Lip Oil
 Try If You Love Luxury Organic Skincare: Ogee Sculpted Lip Oil* (3g, £18, link)

Ogee are a high-end organic and natural, cruelty-free skincare brand whose products have some pretty luxury price tags attached to them (their Seeds Of Youth Serum is around the £120 mark to give an example). Their products feature high percentages of certified organic ingredients, are free from a long list of 'nasties' such as parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and artificial colours, and they are proud supporters of OFRF, the Organic Farming Research Foundation, which fosters widespread adoption and improvement of organic farming systems.

Ogee's Sculpted Lip Oil is a chunky lip balm crayon and contains 95% organic ingredients which include Olive Fruit Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Vitamin E and Sunflower Seed Oil. It also has a little Peppermint Oil so it feels hydrating, cooling and instantly refreshing on the lips. I love applying this before lipsticks, especially matte formulas, so it's a useful product to have in my makeup kit.

O'o Hawaii Bird Bath Antioxidant Cleanser
 Try If You Have A Big Budget For Clean & Organic Skincare: O'o Hawaii Bird Bath Antioxidant Cleanser* (sample shown, full size is 100g for £110, link)

Another exciting luxury organic brand to check out if you have a large budget for skincare is O'o Hawaii. Their products are seriously high-end though with prices starting from £100-£158, and the high-performance formulas use an array of anti-ageing and antioxidant-rich superfoods, many of which are sourced from Hawaii. The brand is cruelty-free, and everything is strictly free from Wheat, Gluten, Palm Oil, Soy, with no unnecessary fillers of artificial fragrance in any of their products.

I've had the pleasure of trying out a sample of their Bird Bath Antioxidant Cleanser which is a rich, thick cleansing balm that removes all traces of makeup, including waterproof, and provides a deep and thorough cleanse for the skin. Key ingredients include Sea Buckthorn oil, Coffeeberry Extract, Hawaiian Red Algae, Hawaiian Strawberry Guava, Tamanu Oil, Murumuru and Cupuaco Seed Butter, Need Oil, Pineapple Enzymes, Green Tea, Papaya Seed Oil and Hawaiian Kukui Nut Oil, and it smells really uplifting and fresh.

Clove + Hallow Lip Velvet in Fiesta
 Try If You Want Luxury Cruelty-Free & Vegan Makeup: Clove + Hallow Lip Velvet in Fiesta* (5g, £30, link)

If you're searching for luxury cruelty-free and vegan-friendly makeup, Clove + Hallow is a brand that is starting to build up a cult following, especially after Allure magazine called it its '2018 Valentine' earlier in the year. Their bestsellers are the Lip Velvets and these are seriously amazing. There's a limited shade range at the moment, but the colours that they do have are absolutely gorgeous. These include nudes, everyday pinks and brights, plus one or two more 'out there' shades including a dark midnight blue, so there's already something for everyone.

I have the shade Fiesta which is a killer bright red. The pigmentation of this liquid lipstick is incredible and the Lip Velvet formula boasts a creamy, kissable and comfortable smudge-proof matte finish. It does take a little longer than some other brands to completely dry down, but once it has, it's not going anywhere! The Clove + Hallow formula is also called 'Clean 15' so it's free from fifteen undesirable ingredients such as parabens, talc, animal by-products, synthetic fragrance and artificial flavours. 

RealHer Highlighter in The Spotlight Is On Me
Try If You Enjoy High-End Indie Makeup: RealHer Highlighter in The Spotlight Is On Me* (link)

California is home to a plethora of emerging indie beauty brands and RealHer are one of the brands making a name for itself. Although it's not natural or organic like the brands above, it is cruelty-free and there are no parabens, gluten or sulphates in their cosmetics.

RealHer are most well known for their Lip Kits and Palettes, but this standalone Highlighter is a real beauty gem that demands to have some attention thrown at it. Packaged in a sleek black compact with a large mirror, this shade is called The Spotlight Is On Me and it's a gorgeous gold that looks flattering on a range of skin tones for some instant glow wherever you want to apply it. I've had so many compliments from friends recently when I've been wearing this and it lasts well throughout the day or night!

Shop Spark Beauty exclusively at FeelUnique.com

Have you bought anything from Spark Beauty yet?

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