April Empties

Sunday, 29 April 2012

It's Empties time!  You may recognise quite a lot of these from what I took with me to Japan.  Here are my thoughts and whether I would choose to repurchase them or not:-

Neom Organic Body Lotion in Real Luxury - One of my favourite body lotions, smells incredible and soaks into the skin straight away.  Repurchase? Yes! Already on my wishlist.  Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream - 'Super moisturising' really doesn't explain this product very well.  Although it's won awards, I didn't like it much personally, and found that I needed to reapply it a lot more frequently than other hand creams.  Repurchase? No.  Burts Bees Coconut Foot Creme - Another misleading product IMO.  Instead of being a typical cream, it's actually like a thick gel which is weird!  Doesn't soak into feet and leaves a greasy, slightly sticky residue instead.  Repurchase? No.  Eucerin Dry Skin Shampoo - Great shampoo for sensitive scalps, reviewed here.  Repurchase? Yes at some point, but I'm trying something else at the moment.  Boots Botanics Purifying Face Scrub for Normal/Oily Skin - This was OK, but left my skin feeling a little stripped if I used it too often.  Repurchase? No.  The Body Shop Moisture Foundation SPF 15 in 04 - Another OK product, does the job but there other foundations that I prefer over this.  Repurchase? No.  Bodhi Mint Thé Refreshing Bath & Shower Therapy* - I absolutely love this, so revitalising and just lovely to use.  Repurchase? Maybe, I don't really use mint scented shower products that much, so I'm not sure if I'd be able to get through a full size before it expired.

Elf Conditioning Lip Balm SPF 15 in Nice and Natural - It has been taken me AGES to get through this and although I like the sheer nude colour a lot, I wasn't that taken with the overly vanilla scent.  Repurchase?  Probably not.  Bamford Botanical Bath Oil in Geranium - Love this, so relaxing and luxurious to use.  Got about 5 or 6 uses out of this 30ml sample.  Repurchase?  Yes, but it's on my birthday wishlist because the full size is very expensive, eeek!  Bodhi Jasmine Falls Relaxing Body Moisturiser - I adore this scent so much, but prefer the formula of other body lotions more.  That said, I would perhaps buy another travel size of this.  Repurchase? Maybe.  Morroccan Oil - Had this sample bottle in my travel bag for ages.  Do still like this, but if I use it too often it makes my hair feel like there's a lot of product build up on it and I have to use a clarifying shampoo to get it back to normal again.  Repurchase?  Already have another sample size bottle in my stash from xmas.  Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil - One of my holy grail items, smells so good and works so well on face, body and hair, as well as in the bath.  Sadly this is the last of the sample bottles I've managed to acquire so I need to buy a full size ASAP!  Repurchase? Yes!  The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara - I like this for everyday looks, but it's certainly not as volumising as other mascaras I have tried.  Repurchase?  Maybe if I saw it on offer, but wouldn't pay full price.  Macadamia Deep Repair Mask - Loved this sample and managed to get about 4 uses out of this sachet.  It's lovely and thick, and makes my hair soft and manageable afterwards.  Repurchase? Definitely.

What beauty products have you used this month?  Leave your links below if you've also done an empties post.

*PR sample

April Book List

Books I have read this month:-

(1), (2), & (3) The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins - Not sure why it's taken me to so long to read this trilogy, but I loved it. Any books that are aimed at teens/YA and has themes of questioning government and authority, a strong female lead, uprisings and rebellions etc, are always going to be a winner with me.  Eagerly anticipating the next two films as well. [5/5]

(4) Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey - After finishing The Hunger Games, I wanted something similarish in terms of a science-fiction/fantasy/dystopia kinda thing, for an easy read to take my mind off things between intense revising sessions.  Santa Olivia filled this void perfectly.  It's definitely a lot more fantasy based, and gives its own take on the mythology of werewolves. [3/5]

(5) Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger - I don't know anyone else who enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry as much as I did. Yes, the characters are hideously cliched and have that usually irritating 'trying way too hard to be weird/quirky' element to them. Add to this the fact that this book is totally predictable (I saw what the 'big' secret was straight away and what direction the story was going in right from the start). Plus, the ending is so half-hearted and abrupt, that you have to question whether Niffenegger herself got bored with it or just ran out of steam. So why the good rating? Because despite all of the above, I found myself completely absorbed by it. I loved the writing, I quickly grew to like the OTT weird characters, and I enjoyed reading a novel that explored grief in a strange, yet wonderful way.  [4/5] 

(6) The Passion by Jeanette Winterson - This is a novel that really sucks you in but in a very strange 'magical realism' type of way. It wasn't until I'd reached about halfway through the book that I realised how much I was actually enjoying the story. If you like your books to be a bit of a mish-mash of genres (The Passion has fantasy, romance, and historical fiction all intertwined) but have beautiful writing nonetheless, then give this a go. [4/5]

What are you currently reading?  To see what I'm reading next, feel free to add me on Goodreads :)

Burts Bees Grab Bag

Friday, 27 April 2012

I've spoken of my love of Burts Bees before, and have always wanted to try out more products from their range.  When I saw them advertising this special 'Grab Bag' promotion, I immediately ordered one and it arrived today.  For £20, you get £55 worth of products which is a fab deal and I'm very happy with what was included!  In my grab bag were the following:-

Full sizes: Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion, Thoroughly Therapeutic Honey & Orange Wax Body Lotion, Lip Shimmer in Rhubarb, Lip Shimmer in Watermelon.

Travel & sample sizes: Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo and Conditioner, Radiance Day and Night Creams, Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream, Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar, Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash.

Random bits: Burts Bees storage tin & nail file.

A great bargain in my books! Especially when you consider that the lip shimmers are £5.99 each and the body lotions are just under a tenner each!  They do state on the website that some of the products may have slight marks on the packaging, but all of mine were perfect and looked brand new.  Looking forward to trying all of these out and will post some separate reviews soon.  At the time of writing, these are still available from Burts Bees here.

Have you picked up a Burts Bees grab bag?  Do you like any of the products that I received in mine?

Budget Beauty: Bourjois 'Chocolate' Bronzer in 52

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I remember when the famed Bourjois 'Chocolate' bronzer first came out because virtually every woman I knew rushed out to buy it.  I missed the hype big time on this though, because at the same time of its release, I had purchased Benefit's Hoola Bronzer and that was me sorted on the bronzer front!  I haven't tried out many other bronzers, since I love Hoola so much, but I saw this chocolate bronzer on offer at Boots at the weekend (£4.99 instead of £6.99) and thought I'd give it a go.  Firstly, other than it looking like a bar of chocolate, I didn't pick up on the scent of chocolate that a lot of people seem to love this product for.  To my nose, it smells a little like some kind of sweet perfume?  It's not strong enough to bother me, but it doesn't smell like chocolate to me!  

Anyway, this bronzer is finely milled, not chalky at all, and application is a breeze.  Looks great with a light hand to add a bit of a glow/definition to the face, and also looks equally good if you want to build it up and use it as a contour.   It has little flecks of gold in it which look quite glittery in the pan, but once it's applied to the face, it looks pretty much matte. 

I swatched both of the two shades that it's available in and decided to get 52 so that I could use it as a contour.  The paler shade 51 seemed much too orangey on the back of my hand for some reason, so I'd certainly recommend swatching it in store first if you're pale and think that 52 might be too dark.  Wear time is another plus that this bronzer has.  On my oily/combination skin, it lasted all day and I didn't need to reapply once. 

Bourjois 'Chocolate' Bronzer in 52, applied with a light hand as a subtle contour.

Do you have the Bourjois chocolate bronzer in your make-up bag? 

NOTD: China Glaze - Below Deck

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

I haven't been in the typical Spring/pastels mood at the moment nails-wise.  Might be due to the torrential rain we've been having in the UK recently?  Anyway for now, I'm sticking to some of my old favourites.  China Glaze's Below Deck is a darkish mauve that is work-friendly and just really easy to wear.  It's also a shade that compliments the current trend of those off-grey/white bags that everyone seems to be carrying around too!

What are you wearing on your nails today?

Tried & Tested: Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator

Monday, 23 April 2012

Since switching the majority of my skincare routine to mostly Liz Earle products, my skin has been noticeably better in general, but this week my face decided to have a mini breakout.  Argh!  So I've been reaching for Liz Earle's Gentle Face Exfoliator* to see if it would help to clear things up a bit.  I often find that minor blemishes soon disappear after I use a good exfoliator a few times, I don't know if that works for anyone else's skin, but it certainly does for mine.

The Gentle Face Exfoliator contains naturally active ingredients and aims to draw out impurities whilst getting rid of dead skin cells.  It does state that it's not suitable for sensitive skin, but my skin borders on sensitive most of the time and I didn't have any problems using this.  If you have very sensitive skin, I'd recommend getting a trial size/sample first to see if it's OK for you.  

It's packaged in the same kind of tube that Cleanse & Polish comes in and has the same handy pump that dispenses just the right amount of product to do your whole face with.  Formula wise, this reminds me EXACTLY of Cleanse & Polish (has the same lovely menthol scent, similar thickness etc), but with tiny jojoba beads added (see photo closeup below).  To use, you can either use it after your cleanser, mix a bit with your cleanser, or use it alone.  I tried it with Cleanse & Polish and thought it was largely unnecessary that way, so I use it alone now and it works really well for me.  My face is left feeling deeply cleansed and exfoliated, and I don't get any tight or dry feeling afterwards.  My face just feels smooth and looks brighter.  I've used it about four times so far in two weeks and it has helped to minimise some of the little blemishes I sometimes get on my chin.

How does this compare to my current holy grail exfoliator from Purity?  Well I view the Purity one as being great for maintenance and being an excellent budget buy.  When my skin is behaving itself, I don't need to use anything else.  But when it starts to throw tantrums, I think I'll definitely be reaching for this Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator because it really gets deep down into the skin and helps to clear everything up, whilst making it feel lovely and smooth on the surface.

Have you tried this? What are your favourite face exfoliators?  

*PR sample, opinions are 100% honest and my own as always.

Canmake Gokunobi Mascara

Sunday, 22 April 2012

One of the make-up items that I bought for myself in Japan, was this Canmake Gokunobi Mascara in Glossy Black.  I asked the SA for a waterproof lengthening mascara that was under 1000 yen, and she immediately took this one off the shelf for me.  It has quite a thick bristled 'D' shaped brush which helps to seperate the lashes, as well as enabling you to keep the curl and lift of them whilst you apply it.  The SA recommend that I use the straight side first to apply one coat and then use the curved side to apply a second coat if wanted and this would eliminate clumping, which it did! 

It's very easy and quick to apply this mascara and it lives up to its colour by delivering a lovely glossy black finish to the lashes.  I thought that it lengthened mine very well and didn't flake or budge throughout the day so I'm happy with the results.  It also lives up to its waterproof claim (getting caught in torrential rain this week was a good way to put it to the test!), and is easy to remove unlike some of the other waterproof mascaras I've tried in the past which were a lot more stubborn.  A great mascara for a great price!

Have you tried anything from Canmake? What's your favourite waterproof mascara?

April Magazine Freebie

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Not sure if this has sold out or not, but I managed to pick up the last two copies (one for me, the other for my sister) of this month's Red magazine which has a free 30ml Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, plus a muslin cloth.  I love Cleanse and Polish so much that I thought it would be handy to get another travel size.  After all, you can never have enough Liz Earle in your life :)

Anyone else picked this up? Highly recommend getting a copy if you can find it!

Joliebox - April

Friday, 20 April 2012


The little black beauty box known as Joliebox arrived on my doorstep today and I couldn't wait to open it up. Inside were the following products:-

[1] 15ml tube of Balance Me Daily Essentials Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm: this is 100% natural and sounds like a balm version of Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish.

[2] 10ml jar of Tropic Skincare Skin Revive: a firming and nourishing moisturiser which has a subtle citrusy scent that I'm not sure I'm keen at just yet, as I generally prefer unscented skincare. I'm sure I'll give it a go at some point.

[3] Sample bottle of Pure Fiji Exotic Bath and Body Oil: love, love, LOVE coconut oil as an intensive moisturising treat, so naturally was very pleased to see this included! This one is blended with 'exotic nut extracts' and is a wonderful multi-purpose product that can be used in the bath, on the body and on the hair. Going to be trying this out tonight I think.

[4] Full size Bellapierre Lash Building Mascara in Black: I'm something of a mascara fiend, so always like receiving these in beauty boxes. Have seen Bellapierre products on the Naturismo site and always wanted to try something by them as they're a mostly natural/chemical free brand, but their make-up is a little on the pricey side! I'll certainly look forward to trying out this mascara.

[5] 30ml KMS California Freeshape Hot Flex Spray: Have spoken before of how much I loved the KMS California Quick Blow Spray sample that was in another beauty box, so I'm excited to try out this one. It's a protective heat spray that provides a flexible hold, which they claim will last until your next wash. Will be putting this to the test soon.

Summary: Another great box from Joliebox, again all products that I'm interested to try out and that appeal to me personally. A happy camper!

Did you receive a Joliebox? What did you think?

Amarya Organic/Natural Beauty Box - April

Thursday, 19 April 2012


I was very happy to get my Amarya box redelivered to me from the post depot today, along with some other wonderful goodies that I had missed whilst being away. This month's Amarya box contains a full size bottle of Pure Organic Argan Oil by Simply Argan which I am very excited to try out. Ever since this miracle oil exploded onto the blogosphere, I have been wanting to try it, but had been seriously put off by the amount of fakes on the market, so I was a bit wary. Plus it annoyed me greatly that some companies were using the term 'Pure Argan Oil' on their products when they actually only contained a small percentage. So you can imagine how pleased I am to finally have a proper bottle of the pure stuff, this one even comes with a certificate of authenticity!

The other two products in the box are tiny sample sachets, but again ones that I'm happy to try out nonetheless. I received a 7ml Evolve Protein Build Conditioner for dry/damaged hair and a 2ml Jurlique Purely White Skin Brightening Cleanser. Will include mini reviews of these two in my monthly empties posts once I've given them a go.

Special offer code: enter EASTERBOX for 15% off the Evolve and Jurlique ranges when you purchase them from Amarya.

Tokyo Photo Diary: Part 2

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


1: Shibuya. If you thought Shinjuku was big and busy, a very short subway ride away is Shibuya which is just insane. Here you'll find absolutely everything from designer shops to green spaces, and I got lost about three times trying to find a second-hand record shop (which I did eventually and it was awesome, called Recofan).

2: Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station. Read any travel book on Japan and you'll come across the heart warming but sad story of Haciko, the loyal Akita who waited for his owner outside Shibuya Station. A statue to this loyal dog attracts a lot of tourists.

3-5: Harajuku. You've probably heard of Harajuku in popular culture thanks to Gwen Stefani. It's this tiny hub of crazy/cool and is where teenagers flock to pick up the latest trends and fashions. If you go on a Sunday, they have a very cool vintage flea market and you're likely to see local kids dressed up in outrageous clothes.

6-9: Rikugi-en Garden in Bunkyō-ku. Tokyo has many gardens and parks to visit, but one of the most mesmerising ones is called Rikugi-en. Breathtakingly beautiful. You can spend a whole day here just walking around and admiring the views.

10 & 11: Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba. For something a little different, you can walk along the Rainbow Bridge and take in the views across Tokyo Bay Harbour. At night it's all lit up with different coloured lights.

12-14: Asakusa. Another interesting area is called Asakusa and here you'll find a 'Kaminarimon' or 'Thunder Gate' which is one of the entrances to the famous Sensō-ji temple. If you're in Tokyo on the 8th April, Asakusa is a great place to celebrate one of the Buddha's Birthdays and it's here that you can pick up all manner of traditional Japanese arts and crafts, as well as various trinkets and gifts.

15: Me at Shinjuku Gyoen.

Other places I briefly visited in Tokyo include Ginza, Roppongi and Shinbashi. It's so hard to fit everything you want to do and see in 14 days but I'm happy with what I managed to accomplish and had a fantastic time. Would definitely like to return at some point in the future, and would love to visit more of Japan!

Tokyo Photo Diary: Part 1


Before I decided to go to Tokyo, I read a lot of travel books and spoke to numerous people who have been in the past, and have also lived out there. I had some rough ideas of what to expect but nothing really prepares you for what's in store. Arriving in Shinjuku during the evening rush hour (or rather hours) is like being thrown into the deep end and not something I'd recommend if you're lugging an enormous suitcase behind you and feeling the full effects of travelling for over 20 hours. If you think London is busy at 6pm, multiply that by a 100 and you can begin to understand the sheer volume of bodies all around you. There are people simply everywhere, going in every direction possible, but in an orderly and calm manner. Organized chaos at it's very extreme. It takes some time to adjust and shake off the jetlag, but after the initial first two/three days of exploring and getting lost, you start to see how incredible a place Tokyo really is and get to grips with the size of the place. It is HUGE! Thankfully, the Tokyo Subway system is relatively easy to work out and is the cheapest and fastest way to travel around. I could honestly talk about Tokyo until you're all bored to tears so I'll keep this post and part 2 relatively short and explain things through photos to give you an idea of how amazing Tokyo is.

1 & 2: Shinjuku early in the morning. Most places don't open until 10/11am because they close quite late, though quite a few places are open 24 hours. It's packed full of clubs, bars, restaurants, gaming arcades, designer shops, convenience stores, karaoke bars, and practically everything else under the sun. Shinjuku is where I made my base and from there you can use the subway to get to everywhere else in Tokyo.

3: Taito Game Station. Gaming arcades are everywhere, with many of them open until 5am and they are incredibly crowded on Friday and Saturday nights with Japanese business men patiently queuing behind teenagers for their chance to improve their high score on their favourite game. Utterly surreal to watch a guy in a suit play for hours on their equivalent of Street Fighter.

4: Japanese food displays. Also everywhere are places to eat, with restaurants to suit every possible taste required. You'll see the usual Western fast food giants here (but be prepared to pay a lot more for your meal than you would in the UK) but I found most places served normal dishes of Japanese food. The meals are often displayed outside in plastic form and if you're struggling with the language you just point to what you want. A word of warning though: my vegetarian friend had a seriously hard time finding food she could eat because a lot of dishes contain fish, even if there's no fish shown in the picture, so you will need to speak some Japanese if you're veggie/vegan.

5 & 6: Calico Cat Cafe in Shinjuku. You can't visit Tokyo and not go to a Cat Cafe. For about £8 per hour, you can sit in a room and play with lots of cats. Food & drink are also available, as are little tubs of chicken that you can feed the cats.

7 & 8: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. A 15 minute walk away from my hotel, was this enormous park which was so beautiful and covered in Cherry Blossom. One of the many things I love about Tokyo is how you get the best of both worlds; the buzz and excitement of a busy city and then these incredible parks and gardens where you can slow down and just watch the world go by.

9: Gucci in Shinjuku. I passed Gucci nearly every day walking to one of the subway entrances and admired the window displays.

10: 1Q84 books. One thing you'll immediately notice in Tokyo, is how the Japanese heavily promote their own talent, there really isn't as much Western stuff about as you might think there would be. There are also huge book stores everywhere with people constantly browsing and buying. Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 was at the front of every book shop that I visited.

11-13: Ueno. The next part of Tokyo that I visited after Shinjuku, was called Ueno and is probably my favourite district. It's home to the famous Ueno Park which is where everyone goes to celebrate the Cherry Blossom season and it's so beautiful. It is also full of interesting art museums, temples and shrines etc, so definitely a place to go to experience some culture.

14: Shi-Shi the Giant Panda at Ueno Zoo. Ueno also has a zoo near the park, and they currently have two Giant Pandas there called Ri-Ri and Shi-Shi. I found the zoo to be a bit depressing as a lot of the enclosures looked very small, but there was a lot of construction work going on to extend areas.

15: Hanami parties/picnics at Ueno Park. If you visit Tokyo in April, you'll get to experience 'Hanami' which is the Japanese traditional celebration of flowers, mainly of 'sakura', the cherry blossom trees. It's such a lovely experience to have a picnic with lots of other people during this time and often random people will come up to you and share food and drinks.
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