December 2014 Favourites

Ohhh Hello Stranger, I know how awful I have been at neglecting this blog. I just took a week off without notice to relax and enjoy the season with my loved ones. I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas. I spent mine in Scotland with my boyfriend and it was amazing! The weather was atrociously cold as expected but I still had a beautiful time.  In the spirit of the season, just before the New Year finds us, I present my December Favourites. It's a mixed box of beauty, fashion and lifestyle favourites..

Maybelline Color Drama Velvet Lip Pencils
I have already reviewed the nudey shades of these pencils here and I loved them so much that I had to go out and try my hands on the bolder colours and I am so glad I did. I  feel the bolder colours are easier to apply on the lips and they feel much more velvety than the nude ones which I purchased previously. I went all out and got colours I would not wear on a good day and the shades I got include: Keep it Classy (A Deep Berry), Fab Orange (a Bright coral orange) and Red Essentials (an almost True Red) . I absolutely love all of them and I have been wearing them especially with Christmas and A/W on the cards. My favourite would have to be Keep It Classy as I can still wear it to work and not worry about being too bright. I save the red for weekends or outings and I have not really worn much of the orange one because I think it would look best during Spring.

Kuddy Cosmetics HD Powder*
I was kindly gifted with this HD powder back in May when I visited Nigeria and I would be posting a full review sometime next year (in January, lol). I really love how it makes my overall makeup appear flawless and it looks amazing on photos; it’s not called HD for nothing. I don’t think I have skipped wearing this especially ever since I purchased the Make Up Forever HD Foundation and they both work amazingly well together.

MaxFactor Excess Shimmer in Bronze
After reading the lovely Jasmine's review of the Max Factor Excess Shimmer eyeshadows, my interest was naturally piqued and I knew it had to be mine. It's a somewhat dark bronzey colour in fact I would almost say it's more of a coppery shade.  I love how beautiful it applies and it has an almost "wet" feel when you apply it but nothing terrible. Once it sets (which takes a few seconds), it stays put for a really long time. I have worn it alone and under some eyeshadows and it always looks amazing. It's a little pricey for £7.99 but they are always offers on in Boots. 

Body Shop White Musk Smoky Rose Perfume
When Body Shop did a 40% off sales, I knew it would be insane to let it slide and trust me, I did not close my eyes to it. You know I am hopeless in describing scents but it smells exactly as the name states; white musk and rose and it's right up my alley. I got this in the EDP and I find that it lasts for a longer time compared to the EDT which I also have in the handbag size. Can you believe I only paid £11 for both of them? It’s incredibly barganicious (yes, that's not even English I know).

H&M Chelsea Boots
Well, there are not quite Chelsea Boots but they were also in the sale for only £15 and I had to get them. All the stock including my size was sold out and I had to get a size above my normal size which was not too much of a problem because I think my actual size (UK Size 5) would have been a little tight with socks. Honestly, there are one of the most comfy boots I have ever tried and they go with all my outfits especially this season. I am not sure they would serve well if it snows but they are perfect for this season and transitioning to Spring.

Beanies Coffee in Amaretto Almond
I heard about Beanies coffee a little while ago but I never bothered to pick it up until I went into Sainsbury’s and spotted them. They were only £2.50 and yes, they are quite small but they are suitable if you are not a serial coffee drinker. I drink coffee occasionally and when I have it, I like it sweet which I know many coffee drinkers may loathe. It tastes and smells amazing and you really don’t need to add sugar or milk to enhance the taste because it's perfect the way it is. The almond comes through really strong but not too sweet and I absolutely love it. If you are looking for new ways to try your coffee, I recommend this. That’s it folks and I hope you enjoyed this little round up of all my December Favourites. Make sure to check back for my 2014 Favourites and I think it may be a long one so don’t say you have not been warned...See you in my next post...and a Happy New Year's Eve....x
*PR Samples

Ebay Shopping Tips

( image source: The DrumI recently shared some of my Ebay Beauty Picks with you here on the blog and it was well received and I really appreciate all your engagement. As promised, I am back with some shopping tips I have learned from experience while shopping on Ebay. I know a lot of people use Ebay and even more now that Christmas and Boxing Day sales are in full swing. I have always had a love-hate relationship with Ebay because you just never know what would be thrown your way. I prefer using Amazon over Ebay but the only snag is Ebay has a wider variety of products which is why I still find myself still being sucked back to it. The truth is I still find myself adding items to watch list on Ebay and trying to track down hard to reach products. I have also found so many incredible deals off Ebay, in fact, I have only had one bad experience and many good experiences so this post will be aimed at sharing tips on being safe and street wise while shopping on Ebay.

1.  Do a lot of research on the product you want to purchase so you know the exact key words you need to use to obtain the best search results.

2.  Always check the feedback for the seller and don’t stop there; filter it to the feedback they have received as a seller not as a buyer so you have a better picture. It also goes without saying that sellers with more positive stars are the ones to purchase from although I have bought a few things from sellers with fewer stars and I have not had any issues.

3. Always ask the seller questions if you want more clarity about a product. I find that some sellers are very brief in their description and I never really buy from them except I desperately want or need the product. If a seller communicates promptly with you, then that’s a good sign that they are a little bit trustworthy.

4. I personally prefer sellers who take actual pictures of the products they are selling. It does not really have to be a perfect picture; it just has to be clear with good attention to detail. I refuse to buy from sellers who use generic/stock photos because you just never know if the products are authentic or even similar to the actual product they end up sending to you.

5. If you are unsure of the picture of the product, say maybe it may have been stolen from a blog post or from the internet, ask the seller for more pictures especially if it is something expensive. The truth is I have never really bought anything expensive off Ebay because I just don’t want to be heartbroken just yet.

6.  Always check the shipping costs of products before buying them because some products may look inexpensive but an expensive shipping cost defeats the purpose. I prefer to buy from UK sellers if I can because I know it would arrive soon and would relatively be cheaper than international shipping except from China/Hong Kong who have very cheap shipping costs although the products take ages to arrive. It is also important to check if the seller is willing to ship to your country.

7. If you like the product, leave a good feedback not just because it is a nice thing to do but it encourages the seller to continue with their excellent service and if you receive a bad product, don’t hesitate to leave a negative feedback so other people can be warned.

8. If you receive a dodgy product that is fake or nowhere similar to the description on Ebay, contact the seller and wait for a few days for a response and if not, then you need to contact Ebay customer service or telephone them (be prepared to wait a while before you get through). They would advice you better but you have to be really patient.

9. Always choose to pay by PayPal and I understand that not everyone has access to PayPal but it is the safest way to get your money back if things become unpleasant. I don’t think I have ever bought anything from Ebay without using PayPal because that’s the only way I feel my transaction is safe and secure. I don’t feel comfy doing a direct bank transfer at all no matter how good the deal is. I once saw an item I really wanted and it was also very affordable but the seller wanted a bank transfer and I was like nopes.#endof

10. Always check if the seller is willing to accept returns because it is very important. I feel a seller is more confident in their products if they are willing to accept returns and it’s a kind of assurance and guarantee for the buyer. I have never actually returned anything from Ebay shopping and I generally hate returning anything I buy online because it seems like too much hassle but I know it’s not. However, Ebay returns may be a little more stressful than traditional online retailers.

11. Above all, listen to your instincts and trust me, this has saved me many times. It does not matter how much tips and knowledge about safer Ebay shopping you know. The one time I didn’t listen to my instincts, I had a very bad experience from a seller on Ebay which I would be sharing soon. So, be safe and listen to your instincts before you may a purchase.

That’s all folks and these are my tips for shopping on Ebay which I have learned over time and it has taken me a whole. If you have any other tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments box below as I am always happy to learn new tips to shop safer on Ebay. Merry Christmas...xx

Disappointing Beauty Products #1

You all know I love to keep it positive here on the blog talking about beauty products I really like. It's not like I haven't purchased products I don't get along with but I just can't be bothered reviewing them. However, I think it is important to do mini reviews of some of these products that have disappointed me and even more important to note that people's views about products, whether positive or negative, all depend on their preferences and skin types. I have bought products that have been raved about and they were just blehh! and I have also purchased products that people (bloggers) said were not great which turned out to be amazing. Majority of the products I don't get along with are given to family and friends who may want it but some products I keep because they have alternative uses which I have made a note of where applicable..let's dive in...

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Dark
I know this concealer has been raved about by so many bloggers but I just didn't get along with it at all. First off, the colour shades/range is incredibly limited which is super annoying although I get that it is just a drug store brand. There are only four shades and the darkest which is called Dark 4 is not even near dark enough. I purchased it because I thought it would be a good under eye concealer but it's just not the right shade. It leaves a very unflattering grey undertone to my eyes which look worse than actual dark under eyes circles. Also, the texture is way too pasty for my liking which is why it has made its way to this list of disappointing products. With some tweaks here and there, I can get it to look decent but ain't nobody gat time fo' that. 
Alternative use: None, sadly.

Body Shop Instablur Primer
I was very intrigued when this primer was launched some time this year because I love Body Shop products so I was positive this would work. Body Shop claims that this primer is a 5-in-1 primer which blurs pores, controls shine, hides blemishes, increases your makeup wear time and unifies the complexion. Some of its claims may well be true (it does blur pores) but I don't think it controls any shine or extends my makeup wear time. All the times I have used it with other foundations, I get really greasy within a short time and my foundation does not last longer at all in fact, I barely notice I have used it. However, it works really well with the Body Shop BB Cream which is why I still have it within my stash and I think they are even sold together as they appear to have a synergetic effect on each other.
Alternative Use: Pair this with the Body Shop BB cream or any other BB cream as it seems to be work best that way

Clinique Universal Primer
I think Clinique launched their range of  primers in 2013 which featured various types of primers to suit each skin type and correct various skin imperfections. I got this generous sample when I purchased a Clinique Foundation and I had high hopes for it. To be honest, I barely notice any difference at all which is pretty sad. It does not make any noticeable difference to my makeup; it only aids in a smoother application and it is quite moisturising. My foundation does not last any longer and my T-zone shine is not controlled in any way. However, it has been a good additional base during this A/W season when my skin is drier but I always pair it with another primer.
Alternative Use: If you have dry skin, this may be good for you especially if you are not fussed about pores or foundation longevity.

Makeup Revolution Ultra Face Base and Maybelline Dream Satin Foundation
I bought this because I love Makeup Revolution products (I still do) but it sadly did not live up to expectations. First off, I was very excited at the wide range of shades they had for BB creams/Face Base which is pretty rare with many drug store brands (although many brands have now improved) and when I swatched it, it looked fine. Trying it out at home was a different story as it seemed too dark and when I blended it in, it blends into there was no difference. I know it is a face base/foundation base and it is meant to be super light in texture but that does not mean you should not see a difference (or maybe my skin is just fussy, no?). I like the idea behind it and it is possible I am not using it the right way. The same goes for the Maybelline Dream Satin Foundation which has a really confusing texture; it just feels like chocolate mousse on my skin and the shade is way too dark for me even though it is similar to my perfect match in Maybelline Fit Me Foundation which I love. Thankfully, I have found alternative uses for both of these darker foundations/base.
Alternative use: I pair this with some lighter foundations/BB creams and it works really amazing. I have a post on here on how to mix your custom made foundation shade.

Eyeko Skinny Eyeliner (Mini) and Clinique Brow Pencil in Dark
I got the Eyeko Skinny Eyeliner (mini) as a magazine freebie sometime ago and I was really excited because I had tried it out previously and I liked it. It applies really well and it is also very easy to use especially if you are an eyeliner beginner. However, it dried out really quickly and I am pretty sure I only got three uses out of this which is frustrating and I am hoping this was just a bad batch. Another eye product that has let me down is the Clinique Brow Pencil which is similar to MAC Brow Pencil. I was delighted to see their Dark Brown was very similar to MAC's Stud and I was happy to give it a try (not that it was any cheaper). I love the packaging and the way the pencil matches my brows, however, it kept breaking off each time I tried to use it. I was in shock because it is not the cheapest brow pencil out there so I was not expecting it to break so easily. I had to take it back to the lady at the counter after a few days and she gladly exchanged it and she even said a few customers had complained so we both agreed it was a bad batch. The other one was slightly better and I was super careful using it but I never repurchased because it just felt like too much hassle for just a brow pencil.
Alternative Use: None comes to mind.

Sleek Matte Me, Maybelline Color Sensational and Collection Lip Butter
The sad thing is I love all the above named brands because many of their products are amazing which is why I picked these up in the first instance, however, these lip products are an absolute no-no. First up is the Sleek Matte Me Lip Creams- I just don't even know where to start. The packaging is beautiful and it certainly enticed me and being Matte made it seem more appealing as I thought it would be similar to my beloved Bourjois Velvet Edition...NOT! The wand is just really strange like I can't even work out if it's a proper doe foot or not and the texture is so strange on application and very dry once it sets. I really liked this shade (Birthday Suit) and I was hoping it would be my everyday lip product but clearly that never happened. Next product is the Maybelline Colour Sensational in 710 Sultry Sand which I received in the Glamour Latest in Beauty Box and I was very excited. However, the shade is just very unflattering and ashy on me. Last but not least is another product from Collection which is from their Lip Butter range. I was drawn to it because the shade Cappuccino seemed like a perfect nude-y shade for me/everyday shade.When I swatched it on my hand, it looked amazing and of course, I could not swatch a tester on my lips so I got home and tried it in front of a mirror. I was surprised to see a totally different colour on me and it looked nothing like what I imagined. I still tried to brave it but it felt really heavy, greasy and slippery on my lips.
Alternative Use for the Collection Lip Butter/Maybelline: I think they can be used on top of a darker nude lipstick to illuminate the lips but the texture still remains unpleasant...things we do for love beauty.  I hope I did not sound too negative but I just wanted to let you know how I felt about these products..That's it folks and if you have tried any of these products, let me know your experience in the comment box below...See you tomorrow...xx

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Review

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer is one of the most popular primers out there, along with the Hourglass Veil Primer. Naturally, I wanted to try the Laura Mercier version because the price tag was more affordable but I also wanted to try out a sample first before committing to a full size. You can imagine how delighted I was when the September Latest in Beauty Box had a generous sample of this primer inside and it was one of the main reasons why I purchased the box although there were other lovely products in it. So, is it worth the hype?...

I think the packaging is lovely although this is not the full size, I think it is still similar to the full size. I actually prefer the travel size which contains 30 ml of product in it because it is much more compact and travel friendly. The lid shuts really securely so you don't have worry about it spilling all over the place.

What does Laura Mercier say
Laura Mercier describes this foundation primer as a light weight creamy gel that creates the perfect canvas for makeup application. I absolutely agree with this description however, I would't quite describe it as a creamy gel; it has more of a light creamy/moisturiser feel to it. I don't find it gel-like in any manner and I prefer it that way. I love the texture as it just feels like you are putting on another moisturiser but it gets absorbed really quickly so you don't have to be waiting around or have any greasy or slippery feeling on your face which is common with silicone based primers.

Application/How I use
It's really straightforward to use and I just apply it with my fingers around my T-zones and if I have any left on my fingers, I pat it on my cheeks. The texture reminds me of the Becca Rejuvenating Primer but I think the Laura Mercier Primer is a little lighter in texture. I use this primer straight after my moisturiser/sunscreen and just before I put on my foundation and it acts as the perfect base for my makeup.

When it comes to primers, I always look out for primers that help my makeup/foundation last longer and control shine. If the primer helps minimise pores, that's a massive plus. I am very pleased with the Laura Mercier Primer results because it helps my foundation last relatively longer than when I don't use it and it helps control my shiny T-zones. I wouldn't say it completely mattifies my face but it just helps the foundation apply smoother. I am pretty sure I would buy a full size once this finishes although I secretly really like this travel size and I won't mind getting another one.

The full size retails for £29 (linkand it contains 50 ml which is quite steep but it is a really good primer compared to others I have tried. I think they sell the travel size online and it retails from £17 which is not the cheapest but it is more affordable.  I got this travel size in a beauty box as mentioned previously so I did not technically buy it directly. If you are desperate to try it, I think it would be nice to wait till Boxing day sales where it should hopefully be discounted.

I really can't think of anything I don't like about it unless the price tag as it is quite pricey but as I said, it's worth it. You can also opt to purchase a travel size if you want to try it first before shelling out on the full size. More importantly, a little goes a long way so it would last for a good while even if you use it everyday.

Overall Thoughts
I just love it although I don't think it is "holy grail" only because I have not tried it during Summer/Spring when my skin is more oily and in its elements. I think that's when I can see if it really controls shine as well as it does now that it's winter season. That's it folks and I would see you in my next post...x

DIY Beauty Storage Ideas #2

I am sure if you are a regular reader of this blog you would know I love beauty storage and I have quite a few. I am obsessed with Muji beauty storage (post here) and many other acrylic storage (post here) and I really don't know what it is about this storage systems but they just look damn pretty in photos and real life. However, I appreciate that not everyone wants to shell out on Muji or any other Acrylic beauty storage which is why I have some alternative ideas/tips on storing your makeup with items you already have. None of these ideas are new because I am pretty sure many people store their beauty items this way already but I thought it would be useful to collate some of my favourite DIY ways.

Chocolate Tin Boxes 
Many people would get tons of chocolates during Christmas and majority of these chocolates may come in fancy packaging. Once the chocolates are gone, it's time to reuse the packaging. I actually learnt this tip from my Mum who stores some of her beauty items in old cookie tins and they look so beautiful and fancy. I got this chocolate tin last Christmas from work and it's useful for storing some makeup bits like lipsticks and lipglosses as it is quite compact. One tip is to line the bottom of the tin with paper or leave the paper that comes with tin as this would help prevent any damage to your beauty item or the tin itself.

Gift Boxes 
I think these are my favourite DIY beauty storage because they look so pretty and they are large enough to store quite a sizeable amount of products. My favourite gift box is my Ed Hardy Love Kills Slowly Perfume Gift Set which I adore and it still remains one of my most used fragrances. The Gift box it came in is very fancy and well designed just like the perfume bottles. The good thing about it is that you can use both the lid of the box and the box itself as storage. I store majority of my nail polishes in this gift box and they look so lovely. I didn't use the lid as storage rather I put it under the box to give it some reinforcement as nail polishes could be quite heavy. My Illamasqua Alter Ego Mystery Gift Box  is useful for storing eyeshadow palettes and it looks really classy mainly because it is black. It is not as sturdy as the Ed Hardy one which is why I opted to store lighter makeup like eyeshadows so the box does not get destroyed

Old Beauty Subscription Boxes e,g. Birch Box, Latest In Beauty, Glossy box, etc
 If you have ever purchased a beauty subscription box, you would know the joy that comes with reusing the boxes afterwards as beauty storage. They can also serve as drawer dividers especially if you own an IKEA desk. The Latest in Beauty Box which was featured here is my latest addition to my stash of boxes and I have not used it for anything on my desk yet because I need to save space but I think it would be lovely as a storage for foundations. You can store the foundations upright or flat against the box and it looks beautiful either ways. I also think you can store your most used products or every day makeup here so you can just grab them if you are in a hurry.

I hope you have found one or more beauty storage ideas which can help you organise your makeup. If I had a large dresser or a lot of space, I would definitely use all my empty DIY boxes but I can't for now which is why they are not displayed on my vanity. You can also customise these storage options anyway you like and I have a post here on some more ideas. I hope you have had a pleasant weekend and I would catch you in my next post....x

Ebay Beauty and Accessories Haul

Majority of the items I have bought off Ebay are beauty/cosmetics and to enhance my blog/YouTube. I am quite careful when choosing sellers but still, we are all prone to make mistakes. Ebay is such a lovely place to buy inexpensive beauty storage items like acrylic storage and even makeup brushes but don’t expect the best quality out there. I am going to put up a post on shopping tips for Ebay by tomorrow or Monday so be sure to check back.

Acrylic Storage- Link Here
I recently purchased this lovely acrylic storage which holds 24 lipsticks and I really like it. It’s not heavy at all and it is really compact. I purchased it because I wanted to see more of my lipsticks and use them instead of having them hidden in my drawers. I have another acrylic storage for the rest of my lipsticks (the higher end ones) but that one is less compact and super heavy.

Empty Magnetic Eyeshadow Palette (Link Here)
I have quite a few eyeshadow palettes that need to be depoted so I can use them more because some palette packaging are just way too bulky. I particularly wanted to get more use from my Urban Decay Book of Shadow eyeshadows which I really like but never get to use as much as I should simply because the packaging is too bulky. The Z-palette was my first choice but I wanted something more compact and I didn't want to spend too much money. I found this magnetic palette on Ebay and I decided to take a plunge. It was from China so it took ages to arrive which I am quite used to now so I am not too fussed. I really like it and I just had to choose pink because they didn't have black which would have been so ideal. It has a magnetic board at the bottom so the eyeshadow pans can stick to it and it has such a good grip. Depending on the size of the eyeshadow pans you are depoting, I think this can fit at least 6 or more eyeshadow pans. I somehow managed to squeeze in 9 of the Urban Decay eyeshadows and I love it.

L’Oreal True Match Foundation N6.5 (Link Here)
Shortly after I reviewed and fell in love with the L’Oreal True Match Foundation N6.5, I went back to purchase more as backup only to find out that it may have been discontinued here in the UK. I searched high and low in-store and online and I was pretty desperate because I really like this foundation so I went to my last resort- Ebay. I found this from a US seller and I had to pick it up. It was also such a good deal and I didn't mind that the US version had no pumps; I was just happy to have two extra bottles for the price of one here in the UK and the shipping cost was not bad at all.

Makeup Brushes (Link here, here and here)
I love buying cheap makeup brushes from Ebay especially if they come from China however I only buy on blogger’s recommendations. I recommend stopping over on Fee's blog (Makeupsavvy Blog) where she has such an amazing blog and excellent Ebay purchases and many of these brushes were bought on her recommendations. There are so many makeup brushes on Ebay so if a trusted blogger recommends an Ebay makeup brush which is super cheap, I would be happy to try it. I have bought brushes from a Chinese brand called Jessup and others from unknown brands and I have been seriously impressed. I didn't have high hopes on them and I guess that’s why I was more impressed than ever. I think my favourite Ebay brushes will be these purple ones which look and feel so similar to the Real Techniques Brushes and they have surprisingly lasted really well.

Tech Stuff- Rode Videomic
It is such a gamble to buy tech stuff on Ebay but I guess I was lucky to find a good seller. I bought my Rode Videomic from Ebay and the seller was really amazing and it works excellently without any hitches. I got it for a fraction of the price and it is almost as good as new in fact you can hardly tell that it was ever used. The seller said he had only used it like 3-4 times and I could tell it was true because this seemed brand new. These are my favourite picks from Ebay so far and stay tuned for some useful shopping tips for Ebay on tomorrow's post. What have you been buying from Ebay? See you in my next post...x

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