Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Scents: Potters Crouch Scented Candles

Would you look at these beauties?

I'm a sucker for a good scented candle, and the latest to join my summer collection are from a great new brand - or at least new to me - called Potters Crouch.

They were kind enough to send me over a couple of seasonal scents to try out - Lemongrass and Summer Fruits - and ohh was I excited when I ripped open the box to find this pair. Not only do they smell incredible, but they are absolutely beautiful, too. Housed in handy lidded tins, each one burns for around an impressive fifty hours, and I can confirm they smell absolutely divine.

Potters Crouch use only the highest quality natural perfumes and essential oils created just for them in Grasse, France. Add in the highest grades of wax available, and you've got some seriously long-lasting, strong-smelling candles.

When I say strong, I mean gorgeous - these have got excellent throw, and there is nothing heavy or potent about the fragrances. They scent my living room fantastically, and look amazing, too - how many candles do you know that come with a serving of pretty, glittery bits on top?

Priced at £8.50 each, they are much more affordable than some of the other big brands out there, and I'd say they more than measure up.

I'm really pleased to have been introduced to these, and will definitely be stocking up on some more come the winter months when I burn candles the most - I've already had a sneaky peak, and there are some delicious-sounding scents!

What are your favourite summer scents for the home?


Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Summer Sunday Round-Up

Just looking back at these photos reminds me what a fantastic summer I've had so far. The month of June was packed full of great days out, delicious food and the best company, and fingers crossed there's plenty more of that to come over the next couple of months! The weather does seem to have taken an awkward turn this week, but in all honesty, a dreary weekend was fine by me, purely because it has meant I've got stuff done that I've recently been ditching in favour of enjoying the sunshine. Ok, so I'm not talking about the most thrilling tasks in the world, but they had to be done - plus, it's meant that I've had more time available for blogging.

Last week, we took a few days off work and made the most of the sunny weather, and we couldn't have timed it better if we'd tried. Each day was more of a scorcher than the last with azure skies and not a cloud in sight. We headed down to Padstow in Cornwall and did the infamous Camel Trail, a bike trail which starts in Weymouth and continues on to Padstow. It's about a 45 minute cycle, and it's a coastal path all the way, meaning we had stunning views across Cornwall as we made our way along it. As you can see from the photos, the sea was an absolutely amazing colour, and it serves as a reminder of just how beautiful the UK can be in the summer months. It was quite a nostalgic trip, too, as I hadn't done the trail for about fifteen years!

On arrival on Padstow, we chowed down on some of Rick Stein's posh (and overpriced!) fish and chips, which were delicious but cost us a small fortune! We wandered along the seafront before getting the ferry across to the beach, and being able to get my bikini on and lie in the sun to relax was utter bliss. Unfortunately though, we had to skip ice creams, as having overestimated the time for which we had parked back in Weymouth, we suddenly realised we were running late, and the cycle back was fraught to say the least! We made it back in the nick of time, and by then we had definitely earned our 99s!

We spent the rest of our break brunching at our favourite haunts and visiting local parks, castles and other pretty sights with picnics. We definitely had our share of cream teas and pink lemonade, too.

The same week, we were lucky enough to go and see Kasabian live, and it's safe to say they did not diappoint. Unlike some, they really pull it out of the bag when performing live, so it was great to have a dance and sip on a few ciders while we watched. I've seen them in the past at various festivals, but this time was definitely the best.

There are plenty of things coming up over the next few weeks, with more live music, friends visiting and holidays to look forward to, so after these dull couple of days have passed, long may the sunshine continue! I'll be sure to keep snapping away with the camera so that I've got some pretty pictures to share with you as we go along.

How have you been enjoying the summer so far?


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Review: Kosmea Skincare

If you know me at all from reading my posts, you'll know how much I love trying out new skincare brands, and particularly those based around lots of great, natural ingredients. Sometimes they are OK, and sometimes perhaps not so much for me. But sometimes, I find some real gems, and Kosmea Skincare definitely falls into the latter category.

An Australian brand, Kosmea believes very much in 'skincare as nature intended', formulated with
no mineral oils, petrochemicals, artificial colours or fragrances, no sodium lauryl sulphate (often referred to as SLS) and no animal ingredients. None of the products are tested on animals, and the packaging is recyclable, too!

A natural skincare range formulated around organic rosehip oil and the finest herbal, plant and flower extracts from Australia and around the world, Kosmea instantly piqued my interest, and over the past few weeks I have been testing out three of the brand's products: The Clarifying Facial Wash*,  Hydrating Rosewater Mist* and Replenishing Moisture Cream*.

At first glance, I wasn't sold on the concept of the cleanser, mainly because I tend to go for creams and balms due to their intensely moisturising properties. The Clarifying Facial Wash is somewhere between a gel and a cream, milky in appearance and quite liquid in consistency, and actually, I couldn't have been more wrong.

With Australian Lilly Pilly and Quandong extracts to clarify and tone, the cleanser is packed with hydrating rosehip and macadamia oils to leave skin soft, smooth and free to breathe.

To use, I massage a small amount into dry or damp skin for about a minute, and rinse. I have to say, after the first use I really was blown away by how soft and hydrated this left my skin, and couldn't stop touching it! It's rare to find a cleanser which offers such a noticeable and immediate effect alone - and this one smells incredible, too.

The Hydrating Rosewater Mist, unsurprisingly, comes in a handy spray bottle, and I generally mist some over my skin post-cleanse, but it's also great for a quick pick-me-up for a tired and weary complexion during the working day, so I tend to keep it on hand. Gentle, soothing, cooling and hydrating, this is definitely one of my favourite facial spritzes yet, which is no mean feat considering the number I have tried. The gentle rose fragrance is simultaneously uplifting and calming, and it's the perfect follow-up to both my morning and evening cleanse.

The Replenishing Moisture Cream is an impressive conclusion to the three-step routine, and is easily absorbed into the skin. Rosehip oil nurtures and protects the skin with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, while carrot oil provides a natural source of Vitamin A to help improve elasticity. Add to that a shot of horsetail and nettle extract to aid in the rebuilding of collage, and skin is left plumped, smooth, replenished and rehydrated.

I don't often say this, but I really cannot recommend this range highly enough. I feel that it has done my skin the world of good, and having come to the end of my samples I am eager to replace them, integrating them into my skincare routine for the long-term.

If you haven't heard of Kosmea and you're a fan of good, natural skincare with a whole host of benefits then I'd definitely suggest checking them out. And if you're yet to make the move over to natural ingredients and fewer chemical nasties, then give it a try - you'll wish you'd done it sooner!

Are you a fan of natural skincare? What are your favourite products?


There's still time to enter my Jo Malone Giveaway!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Health Series: Savse Smoothies

I try to drink smoothies as often as I can, as I think they are a great way or cramming extra fruit and vegetables into my diet - especially on day when perhaps I'm a bit too busy to ensure that I get enough portions from my meals. Pre-bottled drinks are just so easy to sling in my bag as I rush out the door to work, and I'll often have one at my desk, but recently I found myself frustrated at the lack of options in my local supermarkets. There are plenty of fruity options, but when you really look, those containing vegetables are few and far between - something which surprises me, considering the popularity of green juices and smoothies in recent years. So, it was a case of making them myself, which although better in the health department is extremely time-consuming, not to mention messy.

I was delighted when Savse got in touch to tell me all about their range of bottled, fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies, and couldn't wait to give them a go. I was sent five delicious flavours to try ( I naughtily managed to drink my favourite one before i was able to photograph it!):

1. Super Green* (broccoli, pear, spinach & kale with kiwi, lemon & banana)
2. Super Antioxidants* ( blueberry, kale,  beetroot, spinach, blackberry & apple)
3. Antioxidant* (beetroot, apple, avocado, lime with mango & lemon)
4. Vitamin C* (strawberry, broccoli, celery, kale, orange & spinach)
5. Super Yellow* (mango, carrot, passion fruit, pineapple & Yoghurt)

The smoothies are cold-pressed, which means no heat is applied as in common preparation methods. This means that the majority of vitamins and minerals are preserved, meaning greater health benefits and more value for money.

I loved Super Green the best - not only did it taste incredible, but there is something about green drinks that makes me feel really positive throughout the day. It makes me happy knowing that I'm getting an extra hit of vitamins and minerals, and you can never have too many green vegetables in your diet. For those of you who aren't keen on veggie juices, worry not - the fruit content means it tastes delicious and is sweet enough to mask any savoury flavours - although personally, I enjoy them either way.

The Super Antioxidant and Antioxidant juices were a close second. I am a huge fan of juices based around beetroot, and the addition of ingredients such as blueberries, avocado (my favourite!), spinach, kale and apple makes for a really enjoyable combination. Again, these are pleasantly sweet - but not overly so, as some smoothies and juices can be at times.

I thoroughly enjoyed sampling all of the juices, and will be looking for ways to stock up - as yet, they aren't available in my area, but check out the Savse website to find out if they are near you.


Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Daily Face

Well, it's been a while since I've done a 'Daily Face' post, and I thought it was about time I brought you bang up to date on which products have been making it into my daily routine of late. It's likely that they are quite different from the items I was using the last time I did a round-up, but I'm sure you will have seen a few of these pop up in The Weekly Selection weekly favourites posts or reviews at some point over the past couple of months.

Starting with my base of choice, it's undoubtedly the Laura Mercier Silk Cream foundation. Mine is in Porcelain Ivory, a shade which is sadly that little bit too pale for me at the moment, but I've been mixing it with a little bit of my Rimmel Wake Me Up in a darker shade for the perfect combination. Silk Cream is just fantastic, transforming the skin so that it glows with a natural radiance. I apply it over a base of the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer in 'Luminizing' for the perfect pairing, and it's safe to say that dull skin has become a thing of the past.

Brow-wise. the latest addition to my collection of products is the fabulous Benefit Gimme Brow. This is essentially a tinted brow gel, which is combed through to shape and fill, all in one go. I love this concept, as it saves on having to use too many different products to achieve the same effect. That said, I do still follow up with my MUA Pro Brow Kit, as I find I need to fill in the straggly ends a bit more. Obviously where the hairs are lacking, you can't really add much with Gimme Brow - and if you try, be prepared to get it smudged and smeared on your skin!

The L'oreal Superliner Blackbuster makes lining the eyes so much easier. It's a chunky felt tip type pen as opposed to a flimsy brush. My only gripe with this is that it isn't quite black enough and tends to fade a little too quickly for my liking. Until I find a suitable replacement, however, this is going to be staying in my makeup bag for convenience as much as anything else. It's a shame I am yet to perfect the winged liner look!
O'll generally apply this after a basic  nude or taupe eyeshadow, but I'm chopping and changing so much at the moment that I didn't have a particular one to share.

I finish off my eye makeup with Benefit They're Real mascara. I love this mascara, as it's so incredibly lengthening and gives my lashes oodles of volume.

A slick of Hourglass Rouge Opaque Liquid Lipstick in Riviera is what it's all about lip-wise at the moment. It's such a vibrant shade of orange, and just the sort of shade I go for at this time of year. It has excellent staying power, too, which is excellent if you're lazy at reapplying, like I am!

I finish my look with a light dusting of By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder to blur any imperfections and perfect my look. This stuff doesn't come cheap, so I don't necessarily use it every day - but I do reach for it on a fairly regular basis. You need to be sure to buff it into the skin to avoid it leaving a white caste on the skin, but if I ever get compliments on my skin, it's when I've been using this.

Do you have any every-day makeup essentials?


Friday, June 27, 2014

Makeup Essentials for Glowing Summer Skin

Some products are notoriously difficult to photograph, aren't they!? Kevyn Aucoin's offerings definitely take the biscuit on that score - reflective casing and cameras do not mix!

That aside...

Glowing skin is an absolute must for me in summer, and I am forever hunting down the best beauty products to help me achieve that. Just the right shade of bronzer to give me that sun-kissed look without going overboard, the perfect peach or coral blush, a subtle highlighter that won't make me look like a glitterball in the sun, and something to sculpt my cheeks for that chiselled effect.

This summer, it seems I have found all four.

This particular Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Glow Duo consists of two of his most iconic products - the Sculpting Powder and The Celestial Powder in Candlelight - but in cream formula. When I first ordered this compact, I wasn't sure what to expect, and it's fair to say that the size when it arrived on my doorstep was initially a little bit disappointing - but then again, for the price, and compared to the full-size items, it certainly isn't bad. Thankfully, the products themselves are entirely redeeming. The sculpting powder is just perfect for the purpose, a taupe shade without too many red or orange tones and leaning ever so slightly grey. I dot onto the hollows of my cheeks and then blend using my Real Techniques Stippling Brush for perfectly sculpted cheekbones, and I have to say, although subtle, it somehow makes all the difference, creating that perfectly natural shadow. I tend to keep it for special occasions and evenings out, as while I'd like to use it daily, I like to keep something back, a secret weapon for when I really need it. Plus I'm scared I'll run out!

For a healthy, golden glow all over, I dust some Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Bronzing Veil lightly over my cheekbones, down my nose and across my forehead and chin. Again, it is subtle, but adds so much warmth to my face. I no longer look pale, but nor do I look 'overdone' -  it appears completely natural on the skin, and would suit the majority of tones. I wear Tropical Days, but you can always go for Tropical Nights if you are that bit darker.

As I mentioned before, it's a good blush that I feel makes any look, particularly at this time of year, and for me, Benefit Rockateur* (now available from QVC as well as all the usual haunts) more than ticks all the right boxes. It's a rose gold powder, reminiscent of Nars Orgasm and Sleek Rose Gold, but in my eyes it manages to top both. A light dusting on the apples of the cheeks provides a sheer but buildable wash of colour, once again incredibly natural-looking but with added sheen. Rockateur blends fantastically and has great staying power - not much more I could ask for in a cheek product.

To finish, I sway between Kevyn Aucoin's Candlelight cream and  the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in 01. I find that the perfect combination is a dusting of  the Baked Powder across the tops of my cheekbones, and a smidgen of the Candlelight cream blended down the centre of my nose, beneath the eyebrows and just on top of the cupid's bow.

Between the four of them, they've got all my summer skin makeup needs covered, and I can see myself reaching for them time and again across the coming months (fingers crossed the sunshine lasts!).

Which products do you rely on to give you that summer glow?


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Giveaway: Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Candle

Just a quick reminder for you today that my Jo Malone candle giveaway is still running. I've got a full-size candle up for grabs in the gorgeously fresh, summery scent of Lime Basil & Mandarin, and with thee being worth £40 to buy, it's a great chance to get your hands on one without breaking the bank.

Good luck!

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