Sunday 20 December 2015


I hit upon this brand by accident whilst browsing an online store and decided to google them to find out more.  I was really pleased they offered an affordable tester.  Everyone's skin is unique so although reviews can help, nothing beats trying it out for yourself.  

It also ticked all my boxes: 

* all natural 
* cruelty free 
* affordable 
* british (it's nice to support a local business, plus my product doesn't travel as far so there's less pollution) 

The last test was whether it is good quality.  Affordable and quality don't often go hand in hand - you tend to get what you paid for.  For just £1.99 it sounded like an invitation to try it out for myself.  

I was interested in the cleansing balm but decided to purchase all the samples.  I got:

* cleansing balm = £1.99 
* moisturising cream = £1.99 
* body butter = £1.99 
Postage and packaging was £1.15 

My order arrived promptly.  I really liked the travel friendly mini tins.  These would be perfect for holiday and look adorable. The lids are easy to get off and seem to stay on well too.  

They also sent a leaflet all about how their product is sourced and why all natural is better value for money than organic products that often contain a high percentage of water.  


I massaged this onto my skin and then used a hot flannel to remove it.  There is no need to moisturise afterwards.  The product looked hard but was actually very soft and easy to apply. 

CONS:  I felt odd not using a moisturiser so applied the cream afterwards.  

PROS:  It didn't dry out my skin or cause new breakouts.  The scent isn't very strong.  

The sample lasted about 3 weeks so would be ideal for holidays.  

VERDICT:  This is a good quality affordable product.  You can't lose.  I would buy again.  


I applied this to my face, neck and de collage after cleansing. I also applied it to dry spots and those pesky hormonal breakouts.  I rubbed my finger over the solid product and it turns into an oil that's easy to run in.  

The product has a multiple of uses - an everything cream.  It has claimed to help skin conditions like psorasis and eczema.

CONS:  If it gets in you hair, your hair looks oily.  

PROS:  Helped heal spots faster.  Good at keeping dry skin hydrated.  Gentle scent.  I rubbed leftover product into my hands - my nails and cuticles love it.  

VERDICT:  my favourite out of the free. I would buy this again but waiting for my sample to run out.  

The sample is the perfect handbag size.  


This has a very similar consistency to the others but was the hardest out of the three. I scraped the product out and warmed it my hands before rubbing on my body.  I used it everywhere but my face.  

CONS:  it takes ages to apply to your body because you can only scrap a little out at a time.  

PROS:  My skin wasn't irritated by it and it was moisturising.  Same gentle smell.  

VERDICT:  I wouldn't by the butter again. It took me too long to apply after my bath/shower - I get cold quickly so need a fast application.  It works but it's not for me.  


These samples were very impressive.  They are beautifully packaged and you can tell the brand take pride in producing a product that is ethical, green and works.  

These are perfect for travel, as well as testing, you get a decent amount in the tins.   

Give them a go, you won't be disappointed and it won't break the bank.  


They'd also make cute stocking fillers for a natural beauty lover.  In addition, they do gift sets where you can buy their products at a discounted price.  

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Tarte vs Jane Iredale

I've been lusting after Tarte cosmetics for a while but they are difficult to buy in the UK.  In addition, Tarte Cosmetics official website does not ship to the UK (USA, PR and Canada only).  The only option appeared to be QVC. 

QVC don't do samples and had a limited choice of shades (none of the pale shades).  I found a seller on eBay who sold 2ml samples for £3.90.  I ordered the shade Fair Sand.  I feel its a tad too dark and yellow for me.  I planned to order Fair Beige or Ivory come pay day.  

Whilst waiting, I discovered Rose Beauty Store.  This store is online, the office is located in the USA but  supply a UK distributor that uses DHL (so you don't pay import fees).  They charge £1.49 per sample and £2.00 shipping.  One sample would cost £3.49 and two samples would be just £4.98. is worth checking out. Their prices are reasonable and they have an excellent range of some difficult to get products.  

At the same time as ordering from ebay, I ordered a sample of Jane Iredales Glowtime BB cream in shade Fair BB1 from Skin Maze.  This is an award winning salon in Dorset that you can visit for treatments.  They stock the full Jane Iredale range and offer a sample service. This sample cost £2.50 and free shipping.  The sample arrived with a generous amount of product.  I have used it to do a full face and thought it looked great and felt good on. 

Sample Jane Iredale Glowtime in Fair BB1 purchaser from Skin Maze.  Sample Tarte Foundation in Fair Sand purchaser from eBay but similar can be purchased from Rose Beauty Store for less money.

The BB cream feels more moisturising and smooth.  Tarte felt thicker and drier but not in a nasty way. 

Top is Jane Iredale BB cream and bottom is Tarte Foundation.  The BB cream is lighter and has a pink tone.  Tarte is darker and has a yellow tone.  

The both deliver a good full coverage and blend reasonably well.  When I applied the BB to my face, I used my blender sponge and it looked smoother.  They both seemed to melt into my skin as they warned up.  

TARTE FOUNDATION VERDICT (£36.99 at Roses Beauty Store)
This shade is to yellow for me.  I might order Ivory or Fair Beige to see if they are better matches as I love the fact this is made from clay from the Amazon rain forest that has been untouched by pollution.  Doesn't that sound beautiful?  I do like how the product feels on my skin.  The product has an spf 15.  

JANE IREDALE BB VERDICT (£32.50 at Skin Maze) 
I honestly thought this would be too dark - like nearly everything that claims to be light.  When I first put it on, it was too light.  However, give it a few seconds to adjust and it looks perfect.  It feels so good on my skin - it gives that feeling that your skin will be better for wearing it which is the result of a good BB cream.  

It has an SPF 25 which is great protection for skin that easily burns. Seven of the Jane Iredale products have won the Skin Cancer Foundation seal of approval and this is one of those award winners.  I've had my eye on their "powder me spf dry sunscreen".  If I couldn't find a good foundation with spf I was going to buy the sunscreen as a finishing powder to give me the protection I need.  

It claims it can also be used as a concealer but I'm not yet convinced - i think if I had a bad blemish, I'd still want the reassurance of a strong concealer.  

This BB cream is everything I could wish for.  I'm not sure I can wait until pay day.  This is the winner of everything I've tested and I don't feel the need to test anymore.  

I shall do a post on where to get samples for different brands so you can do your own trials if you wish. Xxx

Monday 5 October 2015

Vapour Organic

I was going to order samples of Vapour organic from Naturismo.  Then, I noticed on Vapour's company website that they offer a free Shade Consultation.  You answer a few questions and upload a picture of yourself.  A few days later you get an email recommending your ideal shade.  

My email came back recommending Atmosphere luminous Foundation in 090.  

Everywhere, I have seen Vapour foundation for sale has started with shade s100.  At first I thought the advisor had gone crazy, didn't know her product or was trying to tell me I am too pale to even register on their charts.  

However, on their website, there is in fact an s090 for the true/really pale beauties. 

Vapour offer a sample service where you can order 5 samples for $15, plus $5 shipping.  This is over £13 just for a few samples with enough product to try once or twice.  Seems a bit steep for me. 

I started searching the web and found a fantastic store in London who stock shade 090 and do a sample service.  

Content allow you to request 4 samples of any product they sell (there are a few restrictions) for the amazing price of £3 and free shipping!  I was chuffed. I ordered the concealer in s000 and both foundations in s090 and the skin perfector from 

It was east identifying which shade of concealer to order based on my foundation shade using their guide. 

My order arrived quickly and I could tell instantly that they were lighter than others.  I was excited that finally if found a true pale shade match. 

The samples were in similar pots to those I am accustomed to from Naturismo and the amounts given are good.  

I was invited on a night out and tried the concealer with my Lily Lolo foundation and it looked great.  That's why it looks used in the picture. 

Here is a search on my wrist.  It's hard to see because the match is so good.  

From left to right, illusionist concealer, luminous foundation, soft focus foundation.

After a bad experience with Bobbi Brown's stick foundation (very dry and streaky), I was swaying towards the liquid pump foundation despite being recommended the stick.  After trying both, I actually do prefer the stick.  It felt smooth and creamy.  I absolutely love  the concealer.  

Suitable for normal, dry and mature skin. Moisturises and gives a light to medium, dewy finnish.


Suitable for combination to oily skin.  Medium to full coverage with a satin finish.  

This is a highly pigmented concealer to hide flaws and brighten under eye.  It's moisturising and has anti inflammatory ingredients.  It is easily blended with your finger.  

Come pay day, I will be ordering this concealer.  

I was super close to having the luminous foundation on my must have list.  The product feels great and the colour melts into my skin but... During my next review you will learn what topped it.

I will review the Straus Soft Focus Instant Skin Perfector s902 another day.   

Thursday 24 September 2015

RMS Beauty - Uncover Up

Another Amazingy sample.  RMS beauty do a product call uncover up which is marketed as a foundation and a concealer.  I ordered the lightest shade #00 and Amazingy threw in the slightly darker shade #11.

I applied it to my arm and double checked the lightest is at the top because it appeared darkest on my arm. 

(Left #11 and right #00) 

It had a lovely moist feel to like applying a light moisturiser.  I then blender them in. 

Once blended you can't tell much difference between the two shades.  It's a lovely medium coverage, perfect for everyday.  I'm still not convinced it would perform well as a concealer but I like it as a foundation.    

I prefer shade #11 in my test but I suspect that some residue from Kjaer Weis may have got mixed in.  I had washed my arm between applications but that foundation was thick.  I'll test #00 again to be certain before purchasing. But, that's right, I like this enough that I'm thinking about buying it.  

Lovely texture, good colour & good coverage - not too heavy but enough to even your skin out.  Feels good on my skin.  As a foundation it's a good choice.  

I'm not convinced it would work as a concealer but if you already have it as a foundation, it doesn't hurt to try it. I do love a product with multiple uses. 

I think it's worth the money.   You can often get kits with this and three to four other products in which saves you money if you want to try the brand.  Their luminizer has great reviews!  Amazingly sell the kits at about 100 euros which is about £80.  Most places sell the kits at 150 euros.  Just the uncover up is 36 euros and that is about £26.  

Kjaer Weis vs Luxsit

Two other samples I bought from Amazingy were: 

* Kjaer Weis cream foundation - Porcelain 
* Luxsit BB cream - fair opal (spf 15)

The full size Kjaer Weis products are in posh silver cases that can be refilled.  It looks glamorous and economical.

I had never heard of Luxsit before visiting Amazingy. As I'm looking to replace my current BB cream with something organic this seemed like a good option.  I also like that it has spf protection - very positive for a redhead.  

This thing I notice is that both products are a darker shade than my other samples.  As far as I am aware, this is currently the lightest shade they stock.  

The Kjaer Weis (top) was very thick.  The Luxsit was oil and separated when I samples some on my skin. 

The Kjaer Weis is clearly too dark for my pale skin. It looks like it gives a full coverage so if you can get the right shade for you then you could easily give the illusion of flawless skin.  If you are Loly White like me then you'll look like an Oompa Loompa with this on your face.  

The Luxsit disappear into my skin and felt nice.  I guess the oil helps it melt in but I'm concerned it would be too sheer for me.  It is full of benefits (a one for all style product). 

Kjaer Weis is good quality but too dark.  "Like Porcelain" is nothing like porcelain.  Being able to buy refills will save you money and the environment.  The case is so pretty I wanted this to be the one.  

Luxsit is full of benefits (a one for all style product) but I don't think it will have deep enough coverage for me. I do like that it includes spf protection.  

Sadly, I'm not sold by either so won't be investing in a full size versions.  The hunt for the perfect organic base for pale skin continues.  

Hiro Cosmetics

I had not heard of Hiro cosmetics until I saw them on Amazingly's website.  I really liked the sound of the space balm and requested a sample.  Amazingly felt I should consider Hiro mineral powder so threw a sample pot of that into my order along with the balm sample. 

I got:

* Hiro Space Balm -#02 Altaira 
* Hiro Mineral Foundation - #01 Porcelain 

The balm was tricky to get out the bag to try.  It had a sticky texture and was thick.  

The powder was easy to get out the pot and dust into my arm.  It did have some sparkles in it.  

The balm is slightly darker than the powder.  It has a matt look whereas the powder has a shimmer look. 

They balm rubbed in well but is noticeable on my skin due to the heavier coverage.  The powder seemed to disappear but left a sparkle which I'm not sure I like for everyday wear. 


Balm:  I wish I had more product to try.  I will try it on my face but I think it may be a tad to dark for me.  

Mineral powder:  I can't see me using a sparkly face powder for everyday.  I can see my younger self wanting it for nights out on the town but I very rarely get a night out now and can't warrant the expense of an occasional powder.  

I'm really happy with my Lily Lolo mineral powder that I am not considering replacing it. 

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Ilia Beauty base

One of my Amazingy samples was the Ilia concealer.  Amazingy threw in the tinted moisturiser for free - just because they are thoughtful like that.  I hadn't chosen the moisturiser as I was concerned it would be too sheet but as I had a sample I gave it a go.  

I got:

* Ilia Beauty Moisturizer Los Roques (T1)
* Ilia Beauty Vivid Concealer Cassava (C1) 

Both samples came in pots which made it easy to try and a decent amount.  

The tinted moisturiser was a good shade and blended well.  If you are looking for a sheer coverage then this would be ideal. 

The concealer is denser but still easy to rub in.  The texture is suitable for covering imperfections and I will test it when I've more time.  I will keep this in mind.  


Tinted Moisturizer:  I do like it but I'm looking for more coverage.  It is something I'd consider if my tastes change because the colour is ideal and felt good on my skin.  It would even out my skin tone.

Vivid concealer:  This is going on my wish list as it is a good colour and texture for a concealer.  I'm bound to use up the sample but will try it on my face before buying.

Monday 21 September 2015

Ere Perez foundation

I love Ere Perez waterproof mascara and really wanted to try their Oak Milk Foundation.  Being an Australlian brand I was concerned that their idea of pale would be a more tanned version than the UKs.  

I was really pleased to discover Flora and Fauna online a natural boutique that offer samples of Ere Perez foundation. They charge 5.41 AUD and free shipping.   This is about £2.50.  In addition, for every AUD spent, you earn a loyalty point. 

As it was coming all the way from Australlia it wasn't the quickest order. When it arrived it was in a bubble wrap envelope and came with a handwritten card "Hi Alison, thanks for shopping at Flora and Fauna.  Hope you love the sample foundations, F&F x".  It was a sweet personal touch and my two samples were in neatly labelled screw top pots (I can probably reuse) and packaged in a cotton gift bag.  

There was a small card with the web address and details about Flora & Fauna shop "Natural, cruelty free beauty and skin care.  Over 40 luxurious local and global brand.  seasonal beauty boxes.  Shop, vegan, organic, local".  There was a green theme throughout. 

The Ere Perezfoundation is exactly the texture I was looking for.  It's thick enough to even out your complexion but fluid enough to blend easily.  

I only really wanted to try the shade Light but the shades came as a pair so I had Light/Medium for comparison.  I didn't feel there was much difference in the two shades.  Sadly I felt both shades were too dark for me.  

It's a real shame because I really wanted to like this.  The foundation ticks all my boxes for everything I want but if it is too dark.  I don't want to look like I've been tangoed which is even worse for a redhead (Orange hair, orange face - nooooo!).

I did try it on my wrist so another day I'll try it out on my face and see if that works better.  However, for now... It's top marks to Flora & Fauna and a no to Ere Perez for pale skin.  


Wednesday 16 September 2015

Sept Beauty Buys (MOA and Acorelle)

I bought some treats and samples from Naturismo which has to be my top online organic store.  The site is easy to use and find what you want and I like their offers.  All orders get free shipping! 

I bought: 

*  Acorelle Balance set £15
*  MOA green Balm £4.99 


The set comes with three 10ml bottles of scents with armotherapthy benefits to balance you.  

*  Silky Rose:  my signature perfume is Chloe but I've found that other Rose perfumes just can match it.  However, this was a lovely sweet uplifting floral scent and I've found myself wearing it everyday.  
*  Vanilla Blossom:  this was the scent I was most excited to try but was disgusted.  Scent is a personal taste and some may like it.  On me it smelt like old lady and moth balls.  I hate being wasteful but I really hate the smell.  
*  Absolu Tiare:  this was the scent I would never have bought if it were not part of the set. It's pleasant.  I've thrown it in my handbag as an emergency perfume.  

ACORELLE VERDICT:  you get a good variety in the box and they are decent sizes to really try them out or use on the go (holiday).  I'm glad I tried them before buying full sizes as I almost bought the vanilla one.  The Rose is going on my xmas gift wish list.  It isn't long lasting and it's very subtle but since wearing it my mood has been on a constant hight - perhaps the aromatic effects.  


This is an everything balm.  

I bought it for my son's cut finger to help it heal.  He's a toddler so he's constantly finding new dangers to get bumps and scuffs.  My plan was with mummy's kisses, cuddles and magic balm, boo boos will be gone.  

Noah isn't that bothered by it. 

I on the other hand was suffering with some dry skin on my nose - I think it was caused by Glow Tonic which I stopped immediately and read scary reports about skin cancer.  I decided I needed a more moisturising cleanser for my skin and decided to give MOA a go as it was sitting on my shelf.  

Like coconut oil you need to warm this up into an oil.  It is softer though, more like butter.  I massaged it onto my face then pressed a warm flannel onto my face - to open the pores and let it enjoy the balm.  Then, I washed it off.  Next, I rinsed my flannel under the cold tap and pressed it against my skin to close the pores.  My face felt clean but moisturised.  I wasn't worried about using a toner to remove the last traces because this product can be used as a moisturiser.  My skin loved it.  

I had a sample of another balm cleanser that just didn't live up to the joy I had with MOA.  

MOA VERDICT:  I wish I'd bought a larger pot!  This is affordable and so versatile.  It is an amazing product.  I'll be getting the bigger size come pay day. 



With every order you can buy up to 5 samples.  There is also usually a 7 free samples offer if you spend over £25. 

I choose: 

* Cauldaline - Divine oil 
* Aurelia - miracle cleanser 
* Vapour -highlighter in trick stick 
* Balmology - nourish beauty balm 
* Balmology - cleanse cleansing balm 

They threw in: 

Sept Beauty Buys (Antipodes kits)

After spending NO money in August I couldn't wait until pay day.  Sadly my budget hadn't doubled. 

From Amazon I bought: 

* Antipodes Moisture Boost Minis set
* Antipodes Anti-Aging Minis set


This set contains 

*  Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum 10ml 
*  Avacado Pear Nourishing Night Cream 15ml 

It arrived at the end of August (does that technically fall into the Aug budget?).  

The serum comes in a bottle with a pippet. I dosed two drops onto my fingers and massaged it into my face, neck and de collage.  Then I apply the cream.  I use a generous pea size amount.  

The serum is full of berry oil so I expected a fruity smell and the cream has pear so I thought it would be sweet.  However both of them have a mild earthy smell that is unisex.  

The condition of my skin improved quite quickly.  I'm suffering with less breakouts and less dry patches of skin.  The only downside is that the oil gets in my hair when I sleep and I wake up with unglamorous sleek hair.  


This set arrived on 1st September and I've used it everyday since.  It contains: 

*  Divine Face Oil Avacado Oil & Rosehip 10ml 
*  Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream 

Again, both products are very lightly fragrances and have a very natural earthy smell.  The vanilla cream has been in my wish list for ages because I love the smell of vanilla so I was a tad disappointed that  it didn't smell like ice cream.  It's still sweet but more subtle. 

I applied it using the same method I used with the anti-aging set. Again, I've loved the results with my skin.  However, it takes a while to dry and I'm often in a rush so end up applying my BB cream and mascara and the combination results in panda eyes - I know, I need to be more patient.  

ANTIPODES VERDICT:  both kits are great to try out the products.  It's been over 2 weeks and I still have plenty left to use.  I love the result on my skin and have learnt to use less oil.  I really want to buy the full size products but they aren't cheap, with RRP starting at £18 for the serum up to £30 for the night cream.  To buy all four would blow my monthly budget for a few months! 

Sunday 16 August 2015

July Beauty Buys

I ordered some treats from Cult Beauty on 1 July which arrived on 8 July (see above). 

The order came to £55.

I was meant to just order Skyn Pure Pore Minimiser and Pixi Glow Tonic but they had some very tempting offers running at the time.  

PIXI offer

One offer was that if you spent £30 on Pixi then you got a 4 Piece Try Me Kit for free.  I was sold.  I orders my tonic and bumped up my order with the brilliance balm in Rosy and got the following samples: 
* Primer 
* Brilliance balm in Unique pink 
* Corrector concentrator
* Endless eyeliner 

Wow! I can see why this has become a cult staple.  After washing my face this makes my face even cleaner.  It helps with blemishes and dry skin because it exfoliates whilst toning.  What a super star.  

I still get the hormonal blemishes but I recently dared to go into town with nothing but powder and mascara on because this has helped the condition of my skin to feel less ghastly.  

This is a rich cherry red.  It costs the lip in a vibrant juicy nourished red.  It feels great.  The balm gives the lips a gently stain so when it runs off you still have a hint of colour.  

The crayon has a twist at the end to push the product up.  It can be applied to the lips and cheeks which makes it extremely useful when in a rush each morning.  

I love vibrant reds but some people might find it too bright.  For me it is a great alternative for my Benefit Benetint balm and stain.  Exactly what I was looking for.  


The tester is in a shorter tube that the full size and doesn't twist up so once it is gone, it is gone.  

I never would have ordered this because I  was disappointed with the magic green lipstick from Barry M.  It reacts to the ph for your lips to give you your personal unique shade of pink.  The Barry M version was dried my lips, went a harsh horrid shade that I didn't feel suited me and went patchy.  It was fun but a waste of money - very disappointed.  

The PIXI balm is firstly incredibly moisturising and feels like a delicious minty treat (it has a minty taste - very refreshing).  It gives a rich sheen.  The unique pink reacts with the ph in your lips to bring out a gorgeous subtle natural shade - your lips but better.  

I will be purchasing a full size of this because I love it.  I apply it to my lips and cheeks.  On my cheeks it has an illuminating effect which is very now.  It's subtle and natural - perfect for everyday. 


The eye liner is very soft and creamy, it glides on and delivers a rich colour that is waterproof and doesn't smudge.  

I loved this eyeliner and used it up quickly - I did have a sample size.  I think because it is so soft it will run out fast, that's the only problem.  

The tester didn't twist up but I believe the full size does so you don't need a sharpner.  I will buy a full size one because it is lovely to wear and very pigmented. 

This is dabbed under the eye to brighten the face.  For my pale skin it looked orange.  I won't buy this again.  


It was a decent primer.  I wore it to a wedding and it kept my makeup on all night through drinking and dancing.  

I had no problems with it but I don't feel compelled to buy the full size of this (because I just bought Skyn).  

Based on the quality of this, I am interested in trying PIXI's green primer to cancel out redness. I'm wondering if it would help neutralise my chin, nose and between my brows which has a pink tone. I've never tried the whole green thing.  

SKYN offer 

Cult Beauty did have a deal that if you spent over £30 on Skyn then you go some free Skyn samples (I can't remember what).  I didn't do the offer because to bump up the order would have meant spending a lot more than I planned as their products are quite expensive.  


I first saw this product on Marks & Spencer's but with my £30 budget I often have something else that takes precedent over trying out such an expensive (for me) primer.  The draw was that it is silicone free.  

I never notice I had enlarged pores until I saw the improvement using this.  I like to apply it on my T Zone - just a pea size amount.  It gives a lovely smooth texture to my skin that makes an excellent base for make up.  

If I can afford to buy this again, I will.  

This product pushed me over my budget in July so I've bought any treats this August but added a lot to my wish list for September.  


Cult Beauty let me choose two free samples that I have not tried yet.  

As I spent over £50 I was entitled to free shipping.  

Tuesday 30 June 2015

June Beauty Buys

For June, I ordered a blending sponge and Pixi eye shadow palette (in Emerald Gold) from Beauty Bay.  The Grand total was £15.70.  I ordered Missha BB Cream (in #13 Light Beige) from Yes Style.

My Beauty Bay arrived promptly.  I had to wait for the BB Cream to arrive before I could try out the blender sponge so the first thing I played with was my new eye shadows.

Pixi, Mesmerizing Mineral Pallette in Emerald Gold (£13.20)
Wow!  This was not something I needed in my life until I tried it.  

I love when a product can just be opened and used right away.  The brush is of good quality.  The case is good but I had expects it to be hinged along the long side but it's the narrow side.

The shadows are highly pigmented so you don't need much powder to get the colour to show.  In addition, all the colours work well with each other so you can either use the light colours for a natural look or the dark colours for an evening look, you can go gold tones, brown tones or my favourite, green tones.  You can even wear a colour on its own.

My only disappointment is nothing to do with the product.  I stupidly left the eye shadow on the dining room table and my toddler thought it would be fun to throw it on the floor.  Now, the hinge is broken and the lid doesn't shut properly.

All the other eyes shadow palettes in this range are now on my wish list and want to try more Pixi products.

Beauty Bay, Blender Sponge (£2.50)
Missha B, Signature BB Cream in #13 (£21.90)
I bought these to use together as I heard the BB cream applies better when you use a blender sponger.

The BB cream looks a lot like foundation to me - the same consistency and colour.  On my hand, the colour was so close to my skin tone that I could hardly see it.

I put the cream on the sponge and then bounced it all over my face.  I then added some small drops around my nose and the corner of my eyes and used the pointy end to get in close.  The cream went on really well and covered up my blemishes enough that I did not feel the need to apply concealer too. 

From Beauty BayI bought their blender sponge for £2.50 (pink was sadly the only colour left).  I then treated myself to the Pixi Mesmerizing Mineral Palette in Emerald Gold at £13.20 to ensure I got free delivery (free 2 day tracked delivery on spends over £10 otherwise £1.95).  My grand total came to £15.70.

From Yes Style I have ordered Missha B Signature BB Cream #13.  This cost £21.90 with free shipping (7 to 14 days).  I did see I could get it cheaper on eBay but I wasn't sure if it was the real thing.

Maybelline BabySkin Fatigue Blur Primer £7.99
Maybelline BabySkin Instant Pore Eraser Primer £7.99
Maybelline Great Lash WTP - Very Black £4.99 

Boots had a buy 3 for 2 offer, so I also bought my best friend the waterproof mascara which is her favourite.

Both the baby skin products smelled strongly of harsh chemicals which was unpleasant.  

I used the pore minimiser under my BB cream.  It looked like a gel.  It went on easily.  Once applied it created a smooth layer on my skin that was an effective makeup base.  

The fatigue blur is designed to brighten the complexion to give a refreshes awake look.  However, it disappeared under my BB cream making it pretty pointless.  I then tried it as a highlighter over my BB which was more effective but I wasn't that impressed.  

Baby skin wasn't for me and I won't buy either again. 

I gave the mascara to my best friend as I know it is her favourite.  I have tried it myself and it is good.

Dr Organic Snail Gel Cream

For June, I ordered Dr Organic Snail Gel Cream and 4 Snail Gel face masks from Holland and Barrett.  H&B had a sale on  "Buy 2 or more get 25% off.  Buy 5 or more get 50% off all Dr.Organic."  Therefore, my order came to a grand total of £13.97 (£15.96 to include £1.99 postage).

I haven't tried the face mask yet but as soon as the cream arrived I used it right away.

The cream is thick and white and smells of lemons.  It's a lot more pleasant than the thought of how it was made.  My 18 month son was interested so I allowed him to sample some too and it caused no adverse reaction to his young skin.

I have been using this cream morning and night.  To start there were no obvious "wow" benefits from using it but my pre-existing blemishes appeared to be healing and no new spots erupted in response to changing my regime.  One night, I went to bed and didn't use it, my skin flared up.  This happened again today - last night, I went to bed last night without using it (I used my Surge Organic night cream instead) and today, I have a massive spot on my chin.

Now, I am terrified that my snail slime will run out and anger my skin angry from with drawl.  As a result, this cream is likely to become a staple in my skincare regime.

Monday 29 June 2015

Calling All Writers

Last weekend (27 June 2015 to 28 July 2015) was the Felixstowe Book Festival.  The library had arranged for guest speakers and workshops to take place at the Orwell Hotel as well as activities in town for children and at the library.  

I decided to take advantage of the event in the hope that my support would encourage them to continue more in future.  The last event on the programme I attended was a talk by Sara Sheridan.  I made a few notes from their discussion on what it is like to be a published writer and how to become one.

Sara began by warning us that she will be brutally honest with us about negatives of being an author and told us to Google her articles on Huffington Post to read more about that.  This introduction set the pace for Sara's humours honesty, ensuring that any writer that dreams the industry is rainbows and glitter gets a reality check.

Sara went on to inform us that there are a few main reasons why a writer doesn't get published:

  1. The writing is simply not good enough.
  2. It needs editing 
  3. Selective slots - for example, they publisher might print 3 books a month (36 a year).  Many of these slots will already have been allocated to existing authors leaving possible 10 slots for new writers.
  4. Neilson Bookscan - This tells publishers what is selling such as genres or formats.  If a book stops selling it will get pulled from the shelves to make space for something else.  They can gather information of who is buying the book like age.  For example, younger readers are more likely to read on a tablet where as older readers will prefer an eReader.  
Sara pointed out that the Neilson Bookscan helps to identify a trend but the trend can change.  For example, YA Fiction, Fantasy, Children's books is on the increase.  However, if you write crime you shouldn't give up, just wait until the tides turn in your favour.  

When a genre is doing well, Agents are more positive about taking those books on as they are more likely to be bought by a publishing press.  However, if an Agent/Publisher loves your book regardless they will still take it on.  It's all a gamble and down to luck.

Sara's advised that you should write what you enjoy and not worry about what is trendy because it constantly changes.  

Sara spoke about different size agencies and shared her own experience together with what she had learnt from other writers:

  • Small Agency (3 people):  Here you will get a very personal touch.  They will respond quickly to you.  They may have less resources so there is less "clout".
  • Medium Agency (6 people):  Here you will still be known but they will be slower to return your calls.  
  • Big Agency:  Here it is very hard to get hold of anyone unless you are a big name.
Sara spoke about the importance of narrative drive and recommended researching novels similar to your own and study them technically.  How many chapters does it have?  what is the word count of chapters and the novel?  How is it paced?  What have they done well - is it something you could incorporate into your work? 

It is worth getting your novel edited because an expert eye will identify things that you won't.  She spoke about the two different type of editors and that it is worth finding one that specialises in your genre.  She recommended researching what editor the publishing house uses that prints the sort of books you write.  These editors are experience in the field and will know how to make the novel work in a way that will make it popular with readers.  It is best to get your novel to the best standard you can before getting an editor and definitely before sending it out to agents/publishers as it will improve your chances of getting a deal.  

Sara was asked on her view regarding Amazon's Kindle Lending Library only paying writers for how much the reader reads.  Sara felt it was too new that she wasn't sure how it would affect her yet.  She then went on to speak about how much has changed over the years and writers no longer need to take the traditional route to publication. 

Sara talked about a friend who wrote a number of murder mysteries that are set in a rough city but was unable to get an agent or publisher.  It didn't appeal to the white, middle class men who dominate the publishing industry.  In the end she self published on Amazon and they sold really well.  The publishers, who originally turned her down, offered her a contract but she felt they hadn't supported her from the start so went with Hudson Press (Amazon's publisher) to take her book to print.  

To self publish on Kindle Direct Publishing, all you need is:
  • a word file
  • cover
  • price
  • and to fill out a form about the book such as genre
Sara also pointed out that if a writer sells an ebook via a publisher then they will usually earn about 25%  and receive this money after 6 months arrears.  If a writer sells an ebook they self published then they will usually earn about 75% and receive this money after just 6 weeks.

Sara reminded us to foremost enjoy writing because once we get a contract we will be expected to keep submitting and we'll have deadlines.  

Sara recommended joining The Society of Authors (about £85 per year) as soon as you can.  She explained this site is like a Trade union for Authors and can help with contract queries.  However, you cannot join until you have a contract.

My thoughts

Sara's sense of humour made the talk really enjoyable.  She was down to earth and delivered exactly what she promised - honesty.  I had never heard of the Neilson Bookscan and I'd never considered how few slots are available.  It really does seem that once you get your foot in the door, your job is to stay there and that can be almost a challenging as getting in in the first place.  It was also nice to be reminded that the traditional route is not the only route.  I would like to learn more about editors because no matter how long I work on my writing, I can always return to it and find something knew to fix.  

Sara also talked about some of the stigmas attached to "women writers" or "romance writers" and I had never before knew these stigmas existed for other writers but I knew what she was talking about.  I've experienced that smirk when I tell someone I write teen/paranormal/fantasy romance.  Growing up I was always encouraged to NOT pursue writing, to instead pursue a "real job".  Being a writer is a real job and sounds like a lot of hard work.  It's still my dream and I would encourage anyone who wants to be a writer to never give up.  Yes, you need an income but if you continue to aspire to be an author then one day, that can be your income.  In the meantime, my jobs are research for future characters.  

I would attend a talk by Sara again, she was a really likeable person who knew a lot about the industry.  

Some people at the event recommended:

Further links:

Sunday 28 June 2015

Meet The Publishers

This weekend (27 June 2015 to 28 July 2015) was the Felixstowe Book Festival.  The library had arranged for guest speakers and workshops to take place at the Orwell Hotel as well as activities in town for children and at the library.  

I decided to take advantage of the event in the hope that my support would encourage them to continue more in future.  The first event on the programme I attended was a talk by Alexandra Pringle and Patricia Borlenghi.  I made a few notes from their discussion on the differences between a large or small publishing house.

How long is it from contract to publication?

Patricia estimated that this can take about a year.  Alexandra said this is the same for a large publisher from when the contract is signed but that they will take into account when the best time is to publish the book so it may be ready after a year but could be delayed a few months to place the book for sale at the optimum time.  For example, September is not a good time because this is when Christmas books are launched for example celebrity cook book.

Do you need to see the whole novel before offering a contract?

Both publishers said they would offer a contract after seeing a synopsis and some sample chapters if they loved the work.  However, Alexandra pointed out that for a new writer they would want to see the whole thing as they need to get to know you before trusting you like that.  However, non-fiction is often bought on a sample and synopsis.  

What is their opinion on other formats i.e. ebooks/audio?

Alexandra originally didn't like ebooks until she got into publishing.  Her business began by only publishing ebooks.  Now she is a huge fan of them and although also prints, she prefers ebooks.  Alexandra is deaf so has no personal experience of audio books but knows people that do enjoy them.  Alexandra didn't feel ebooks are a threat to print as she often goes on to buy a print version of a book that she truly loves.

Patricia knows people who enjoy audio books whilst driving or on the commute.  She enjoys ebooks for how instantly you can receive the information and spoke about a holiday where she'd finished the novel she had packed and then downloaded the next book onto her kindle.  Now she only packs her kindle as she can then take many books but use less space.  Patricia didn't feel that ebooks to be a threat to print and pointed out that they have made hardbacks more desirable as a gift.  When giving a book it is nicer to unwrap something tangible.  Patricia believed people were more likely to buy an authorbiography in print whereas fiction was preferred as an ebook.  She went on to say certain genres tend to sell better on Kindle.

Cost of books and the risk to the industry?

Patricia spoke about how ebooks can protects the territory rights.  She also spoke about how books are actually relatively cheap and their prices have not increased in the past few years.  She gave an example of how the cost of books has come down.  She spoke about how supermarkets are not able to sell books at bargain prices making the pricing of books very competitive.

How important is it that a writer has an agent?

Alexandra purposefully set up her small publishing house to support writers who don't have an agent and welcomes submissions directly from writers.  Once Alexandra receives a manuscript it can take 24 hours for her to read it.  If she takes you on, you can choose to go mainstream after 2 years.  

Large publishing houses rely on agents.  Patricia felt they are 'everything' due to the sheer volume they receive.  Bloomsbury no longer have a slush pile.  

Both read submissions all day every day.  They only time they have to read anything for their own personal pleasure is on holiday.  

Do you meet a writer before a contract?

Patricia would meet the writer and compared their relationship to a marriage.  She would go through the process hand-in-hand and attend events with them and over see the whole process.  

Alexandra agreed that the relationship is very intense and feels she is nurturing of her clients.  She will attend launches with them and book events.  

What is involved in selling a book?

Patricia pointed out that selling a book can start up to 3 months before a book is even on the market to make the public aware that it is coming.  

Alexandra spoke about the importance of building the brand and the books availability.  She spoke about the importance of social media today and in particular Twitter.  Alexandra spoke about the difference between marketing (paid advertisements) and publicity (reviews).  Alexandra gave examples of situations where marketing and publicity made no difference and book sales were gradual and took 4 years to reach the best sellers list (Eat, Pray, Love).  

Patrica pointed out that despite everything they know about the book trade it is still very unpredictable and a lot like betting on the horses.  

What about books that get rejected and then make it big?

Alexandra pointed out how Bloomsbury took on Harry Potter when everyone else had turned it down.  She  pointed out that when an agent or publisher turns a write down it doesn't necessarily mean it is no good, it means it's not right for them.  Harry Potter was with the right person to make it excel.

Patricia agreed with this and discussed how personal taste is very important.  The person selling it need to have the drive and excitement to sell it.  Pat spoke about Barry and Sara with her on her own novel as well as meeting J.K.Rolling.  Patricia felt that children's fiction is on the rise as parents are becoming more aware of the importance of encouraging reading.  

What genres are doing well?

Alexandra said YA was on the increase.

Patricia opened her doors to Children's fiction in March 2015 (Pudding Press) and has received queries for YA fiction which she currently does not publish.  However, it is something she will be considering for the future - watch this space.  

Is the industry dominated by male writers?

There was some talk about an article by Kamila Shamsie that had been posted in the Guardian about how the publishing industry is very male dominated. She proposed that for 2018 the only books published should be those written by women.   

Both publishers were area that the industry is male dominated and spoke about their experience of this.

Alexandra was supportive of this movement (only publishing women) as 80% of her submissions are from men and she'd like to actively encourage more women writers.  She reminisced about discovering Virago in the 70s and how it exposed her to the world of women in fiction.

Patricia agreed that something needed to be done to address the inequality balance.  She pointed out that we do have the Orange Price to celebrate women writers.  Many awards are male run and notoriously celebrate male writers.  Patricia can think of a writer she felt deserved to win but didn't even get nominated for her work.  Women writers do sell books but statistically don't win awards.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed the talk.  The way Patricia and Alexandra interacted with each other broke the interview up and made it feel like a talk show.  The knowledge they both share from their length of time in the industry was very insightful.  I hadn't been aware of the gender equality issue.  It was also good to see what is involved from their side of the business like why it takes so long from agreeing a contract to a book arriving on the shelf.  The only problem was the hour went too quickly - I wanted more!

Links in this post:

Thursday 28 May 2015

Foundation for ethereal beauties (like redheads)

Over the years, I've used a number of foundations for pale skin.  Here are some foundations for anyone who is pale enough to burn at noon in the summer together with my experience of them.

Lancome - Teint Miracle Foundation (#005 Beige Ivory)
This was the first foundation I ever discovered that truly matched my skin tone, gave great natural coverage and lasted all day.  It was the first time I felt beautiful.  I fell in love with the brand and discovered their skincare products were undeniably agreeable with my skin.  It was my first choice for wedding make-up.

Look out for their offers like "buy two products (one to be skincare) and get a make-up bag with miniature/full size popular products".  Whenever I needed to buy more Eau Micellaire Douceur (cleanser), Bi-Facil (eye make-up remover), Hypnose (mascara) or foundation, I'd get showered with free stuff.  The small bottles were great for holidays and I was kept in a constant supply of lip gloss, lipstick, mascara and eye liner.  In addition, at Christmas they often have a hamper of beauty products at less than half price if you buy one/two products or spend a certain amount.  I often love their spring eye shadow pallets.

I would have stayed loyal to them forever if it hadn't been for an info-pic I saw on Facebook that suggested they test on animals.  I searched their website but found nothing to the contrary.

I no longer buy their products which is a shame.  I wore the brand for my wedding and loved everything from the primer (La Base Pro) through to the finishing touches like my eye shadow quad and lip gloss.  Lancome really has set the bar (for me) - it is difficult to find any products that come close to the quality of what I became accustomed to.

I also used their concealer (Effacernes Longaue Tenue) in their lightest shade and the correctors (Teint Miracle Corrector) in rose and peach.  I used it under my eyes and on the my cheeks as a highlighter.

Ester Lauder (loose powder)
One day, the Lancome counter wasn't holding a special offer and I really wanted to purchase a powder to set my foundation.  Instead, I found myself drawn to the Ester Lauder counter who also have some wicked freebies for customers.

I bought a loose powder in their lightest shade.  It was in a black square shaped pot.  The product was great and sometimes I wore the powder on it's own (no foundation).  However, the lid was loose and being clumsy I knocked it over.  After that I was scared to take it out with me in case it poured out inside my bag.  They don't appear to sell the product any more so I'm guessing other customers must have complained about the poor container choice and they've redesigned it.  I wasn't in love with the powder so I never bought it again.

I was in love with the freebie they gave me - Idealist (pore minimising primer).  With the hefty price tag, I've not had the luxury of buying a full size bottle.  However, if you can afford it, I highly recommend it.  My skin has never been happier.

Sheer Cover - Mineral Foundation (Bisque)
This is the first and only time I have ever been duped into buying cosmetics from a shopping commercial.  It promised the world with its flawless mineral foundation and if you ordered now you got this whole kit at an unbelievable price.

I ordered the lightest shade and it was orange on me.  They have now changed their foundation and the shade names but I wouldn't go there again.

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Dainty Doll - Liquid Foundation (#Very Light)
I couldn't wait for Nicola Roberts to launch her line of make-up especially designed for redheads. I also loved the quirky packaging with the little redhead cartoon character.  I bought the foundation and concealer in very light.

This brand was only available online and no matter how hard I hunted there was no way of purchasing a sample to see what colour was an ideal match.  I don't get why companies don't have a 50p sachet, especially if they only have a select store - only in London.

I'm sure you have guessed where this is going... turns out this was too pale for me.  The foundation was very thick so if you want a good coverage then this might be an option for you but I found it too heavy for me.  I also didn't like the click pen for the concealer - it ran out fast and not very much product came out.  Plus, you are wiping your blemishes with the same brush which doesn't seem very clean.

Illamascqua- Rich Liquid Foundation (#100 & #115) 
I don't know anyone who buys their products - perhaps because we don't have a store that stocks this in our County.  It was a bit of a gamble buying online but I felt reassured because they sold a white (#100) foundation so if the shade was too dark, I could mix it and lighten it.

I'm always the lightest shade but... #115 was too light!  I was able to use it mixed with foundations I'd bought that had been too dark.  I also bought their Matt Primer and quickly learnt, I should have bought Satin Finish because I didn't like the dry effect it had on my skin.

Bobbi Brown - Foundation Stick (#Alabaster)
The nearest Bobbi Brown counter to me is 60 miles.  I really wanted to try their foundation because it had amazing reviews and there is a huge choice of varieties as well as a wide choice of colours.  So, eight months pregnant I got my husband to drive me there - I wanted a foundation that would survive labour.

The counter girl first told me off for not making an appointment - she didn't have anyone booked in but still felt it important to scold a heavily pregnant woman who had travelled over an hour to see her.  My husband persuaded her to help me as it was for my birthday and she agreed.  I told her I was interested in the new BB creams with 35spf and I wanted something long lasting and fuss free.  She identified that my colour was Alabaster and that I should buy the Foundation Stick and Face touch up stick.  She applied it and it looked good.  I also got an eye shadow pallet and some freebies.

On my birthday, (exactly a week before my son's d├ębut), I got to finally use my new make-up and I found the foundation stick was very difficult to apply.  The touch up stick is basically a smaller version of the foundation stick.  It is very dry and does not blend very easily.  

There is such a wide range of products, I'm sure that another sales girl who actually wanted to help me would have helped me purchase a product that actually works with my skin type.   I ended up using both sticks as concealer because that was all the chalky product was good for. If you don't have dry skin then this might be great for you.  The colour Alabaster was spot on and the best match to date.  It also stays on through labour (lol) and swimming.

I bought their Tinted Moisturising Balm online but I wish I had tried the product first as it didn't agree with my skin.  It was too rich and looked streaky.

I have since tried the Creamy Concealer in Porcelain.  This is good.  You don't get very much for your money.  I get blemishes on my chin and use it every morning and after only a month I'm already at the bottom of the pot.  It also fades by the end of the day.  However, it isn't drying and feels comfortable on my skin and the little pot has a mirror in it.

Bourjois - Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation (#Vanille Calir)
Living on maternity pay meant I had to kiss goodbye to premium make-up. Hitting the high streets, I was drawn in by this foundation promising a mix of fruits that deliver health benefits the skin.

I got the foundation in Vanille Calir and concealer in Eclat Clair.  The colour was pretty light and although it wasn't perfect I couldn't complain at a third of the price I had been paying for Bobbi Brown.  In addition, this product blended nicely and felt good on my skin. If you are on a budget, this is a great product to buy.

Lily Lolo - Mineral Foundation SPF 15 (#Porcelain)
A colleague at work recommended this foundation to me - it is cruelty free, organic and 95% of products are vegan.  It is often compared to Bare Minerals except this price tag is an absolute steal.  It was available at a local beauticians so it was easy to check the colour was right before buying.

I wear this most days as it gives a good light build-able coverage.  It is also a good colour on me.  The only draw back I've had is that it very dry and matt (I prefer liquid).  Sometimes it sits in the creases on my face.

I use this everyday but I'd like to buy a liquid foundation and concealer for those days when I want (need) a fuller coverage.

Beauty Without Cruelty - Ultimate Natural Liquid Foundation (#Sheer)
I really wanted to love this brand because of all the good that they do in the beauty industry.  Sadly, I was very disappointed.  The coverage is barely anything at all, you may as well not be wearing it.  The concealer had great reviews but was out of stock and the waterproof mascara had dried out and crumbled off the brush.  I won't buy this brand again and wouldn't recommend it based on my experience.

For Christmas my mother-in-law treated me to a box of miniatures of their best selling products.  I loved They're Real (mascara) and Benetint (lip tint).

The box also contained Porefessional (primer).  At first I thought it was too dark as it came out brown but it melts into the skin and makes the best base for make-up and makes pores vanish.   The box also contained their two lightest shades of concealer, however, these were both too dark on me.  My friend lent me her Lemonaid (eye primer) and this was amazing at covering the redness on my eyelids.  I used it everywhere I had redness - even on my neck after a night of passion *wink*.  I've had an excellent experience with Benefit's primers and recommend them.

Missha - Signature Real Complete BB cream (#13 Light milky beige)
I read that BB creams from Asia are better than the western ones.  As the western ones all appear to be too orang for me I decided to take a gamble and order this online.  I choose Missha Signature Real Complete BB Cream (Spf 25) in shade #13 as it appeared to be the lightest.  I also bought a beauty blender sponge to apply it.

The BB cream is quite thick and covers up my blemishes and red tones (no need for corrector or concealer).  It is my exact shade, if I put it on the back of my hand, I can't see it.  I can still see my freckles on my cheeks.

The BB cream should last up to 12 hours, has wrinkle care, whitening and UV blocking benefits.  I'm not sure about the whitening but the other benefits sound awesome and my skin feels great after wearing this all day. It really does give a perfect coverage and lasts most the day.

They are against animal testing but sell to China (test their products to comply with the law there).

I really love this product and so does my skin.  The only draw back is that damn law in China - I wish they'd come out of the stone age and accept that unnecessary testing is ridiculous.  Surely they can count that humans have used it as evidence of it being suitable for use and "human use" must give a more accurate testimony than the reaction an animal has to the product.