Switching off over Christmas

21 Dec 2015

You may (or may not!) have noticed that I have not blogged for the past month or so. I have also been very quiet on social media. To be honest, there is no real reason as such, I just needed a break. Blogging whilst working full time is hard work and I applaud those who manage to make it work.

Christmas is the perfect time of year to take a break from blogging, spend some time with your family and truly relax. I have therefore decided to continue my break from blogging until the new year, where there will be a new blog post every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Here are my top tips for switching off over Christmas.

Finish your Christmas shopping as early as possible
This may be a little late considering there are only 4 days till Christmas (can you believe it!), but being prepared will mean less stress. I finally finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, which isn't ideal, however I now feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I can finally relax.

Spend time with your family at home
Christmas is a busy period with parties and dinners, therefore it is important to take some time out to wind down. Spend some time with your family at home, enjoy one another's company and take a break from technology. Spending time with family is my favourite part about Christmas.

Take some time out from social media
I believe this is one of the most important things you can do over Christmas. It is scary how much of our day we spend on social media promoting our blog and wasting the day away. Don't get me wrong, I love social media - but I think you will all agree that now is the time to put down the phone and enjoy your Christmas dinner rather than tweeting about how great it is.

Finally - Put your out of office on
Let people know that you will be unavailable and do not check your e-mails. This will be hard for me as I check my emails every hour every day, however this time of year things start to wind down so there will be less emails coming in and therefore less need to check your emails.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, I will see you all in the new year! Let me know your top tips for switching off over Christmas - I would love to know!

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Bath & Body Works Haul | Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel

10 Nov 2015

Bath & Body Works Haul

Alongside my Bath & Body Works Candle Haul I also asked my boyfriend to pick up some anti-bacterial hand gel. I am not so fussy on the scents of anti-bacs so I just asked if he could pick up some random ones and overall I am very pleased! As usual, the deal of 5 for $6 was on, which is amazing value - why would you ever pick up less than 5?!

I got Frosted Cranberry, which is a sweet scent of cranberry and iced peach, Marshmallow Mittens, which is vanilla bean and coconut. Paris Amour which is described as fench tulips with a pop of pink champagne, Pure Paradise, a blend of sparkling star fruit and frangipani blossoms and lastly Mad About You which is a mixture of soft peonies, blackcurrent and vanilla musk. I have yet to try these as I am still finishing a few off from my last purhcase but I am most excited by Pure Paradise and Mad About You!

What is your favourite Hand Sanitizer?

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Bath & Body Works Haul | Candles

8 Nov 2015

What would a trip to New York be without a Bath & Body Works haul? Unfortunately it wasn't me who was going to New York but when my boyfriend had to go there for work I asked if he could pick me up a few bits. Their candles are my absolute favourites, but as I am building quite a collection of candles at the moment I had to restrain myself and so I asked for 4 candles - 2 medium and 2 large. I chose a variety of Autumn and Winter scents that I liked the sound of, which wasn't the easiest of tasks when basing it on a description, but thankfully they were all perfect!

The 3 wick candles are the best in my opinion, so I would always go for these over the smaller ones. First I chose Winter, a combination of pine needles, icy mandarin and winter woods which captures the magic of winter. It has a soft woody smell, with a nice fresh citrus undertone - which I asbolutley love. I also chose Alpine Cheer, which I am currently burning and I am really enjoying it so far. It contains mountain balsam, cedarwood bark and snow white canberry and is the perfect woody balsam smell, whilst not being too overpowering due to the cranberry.

In the medium sized candles I chose Autumn and Vanilla Snowflake. Autumn is my favourite of the bunch, it is a very crisp fragrance due to the red delicious apple, rich cedarwood and green balsam and it very calming - I highly recommend this one! Lastly, I chose Vanilla Snowflake, which is a very obvious choice for me. It is a beautiful blend of creamy vanilla and wintery mint, with a dash of coconut. This gently scent is perfect for this time of year, but would also be nice all year round.

If you haven't tried Bath & Body Work candles before - you must. The designs are beautiful, the throw is very strong and they burn nice and evenly. It doesn't just fill the room it is burning in, but your whole house. They are very hard to get hold of in the UK but you can pick up some on e-bay, or on your next visit to the states!

What is your favourite Bath & Body Works candle?     

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My Evening Skincare Routine

5 Nov 2015

Evening Skincare Routine

It has been over a year since I last posted my evening skincare routine and a lot has changed since then! In the evening I still like to use a face wash and at the moment I am loving the Vichy Purete Thermale Fresh Cleaning Gel* in conjunction with the Magnitone. Together these do a great job at removing my makeup, leaving my skin squeaky clean. Next up I use the Vitamin E cleansing Wipes from Sainsburys to remove any missed bits of dirt, and also to remove my eye makeup. These are great value at £1 and are really good at removing even the toughest of mascaras.

I then move onto serum, a must have in any skincare routine. My all time favourite is the ESPA Optimal Skin ProSerum* which I reviewed in full here. This luxurious serum contains 99% natural ingredients and leaves my skin feeling soft, plump and radiant. Once this has sunk in I apply the Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Creme*. I adore this moisturiser. It contains ingredients to smooth the texture of your skin, encourage cell renewal and lightly exfoliate your skin - working to renew your skin overnight. I find this moisturiser to be very nourishing and works nice with the serum to repair my skin overnight.

Next, I apply eye cream. I am currently using the La Roche Posay Pigmentclar eye cream*, which works nicely to brighten my under eye area (which I desperately need). It's not the most moisturising, which I also need help with, but is doing wonders for my dark circles. Lastly, I can't go to bed without applying some Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream. If you haven't tried this and suffer from dry lips, this is a must have in your life!  

What products do you like to use in the evening?

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My Invisalign Journey | Tray 1 & Tray 2

2 Nov 2015

Invisalign Journey Tray 1 and 2

In my last post I explained how much I struggled on my first day of wearing Invisalign. The first tray was most definitely the hardest, and as my dentist said - it only gets easier, which I can definitely say is true now that I am on tray 3. The first week of wearing Invisalign was quite a struggle, but each day was slightly less painful. I finally got the knack of removing the aligners, which makes the process a whole lot less painful and by the second week I was beginning to feel more like normal.

After the first few days, my lower lip was still catching on my aligners, leaving me with a swollen lip and my tongue was sore from the rough edges. I filed the edges slightly to make them smoother, and this really helped them to fit much more comfortably. My swollen lip went down and was no longer catching, which made me feel a lot better about the whole process. I now make sure I file my aligners before I change trays, to avoid any soreness in my mouth.

I was quite nervous about changing my tray for the first time - I was worried that I would go back to that first day where it was painful to remove the aligner and painful to eat. I had read that it is best to change your aligner just before bed, so that most of the movement can be done whilst you are sleeping. So just before bed I took an Ibuprofen and changed my aligners, sleeping through the night with no issues. I did wake with very sensitive teeth, but this quickly passed and I could no longer even feel them in my mouth.

As I am writing this I have just moved onto tray 3 and I am experiencing sensitivity again. I also have an ulcer under my tongue which is catching on the aligners, making it very uncomfortable. But otherwise I am very much used to wearing them. No one has noticed that I have Invisalign, even those that know I have Invisalign question whether I am wearing them or not because they are so discreet!

Let me know if you have Invisalign and if you are blogging about it!

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Bloggers Secret Santa - Sign up Now!

31 Oct 2015

Bloggers Secret Santa 2015

For the past few years I have thought about hosting a bloggers Secret Santa but I never really made the time to start one. So this year I have decided I would like to make it happen. As this is my first time arranging a secret santa I am going to limit it to UK bloggers only (sorry, maybe next year it will be international!).

You do not have to be a beauty blogger to take part, I am accepting all kinds of bloggers. It's a great opportunity to get to know a blogger who you may not have known before and spread the festive love!If you haven't taken part in a Secret Santa before, here is how it will work.

Complete the form - Please complete this form by the 28th November if you wish to take part.
Receive your bloggers name - On the 29th November you will receive details of the UK blogger you will be buying a gift for. Now is the time to get to know them, look on their blog and their social media to find out what they may like.
Send your gift - There will be a set budget of £15. If you wish to go over that amount then feel free but please try and keep it fair :) To ensure that everyone gets their gift before Christmas, please send it by the 11th December.
Share the love - When you receive your gift, post it on Twitter with the hashtag #VCSecretSanta. If you wish to let someone know you were their secret santa, now is the time :)

Please note: As the blogging community is so lovely I am hoping that everyone who signs up will follow through with sending the gift. Please do not sign up if you are not commited to sending your gift out on time.

So what are you waiting for, go ahead and RSVP now!

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Top 3 Leave in Conditioners

29 Oct 2015

Leave in conditioners may not seem as important as shampoo and conditioner, but they actually serve more purposes than you would think. The obvious is that they condition your hair, but they also keep you hair soft and manageable, tame frizz, add shine and some even provide heat protection. For me, the main reasons for using a leave in conditioner is to detangle my hair, provide additional moisture and prevent breakages in my hair. Here are my top 3 leave in conditioners at the moment.

The Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance (£4.49) has been a favourite for many years. I can remember buying it when I was a young girl and was obsessed with that Aussie scent that we all know and love. This conditioner contains jojoba seed oil, which conditions and nourishes my hair and does a good job at detangling. It is not the best leave in conditioner on the market, but in terms of value I would highly recommend it.

My favourite of the three is most definitely the Macadamia Professional Weightless Moisture Leave in Conditioner* (£8.95). This is a new one in my collection and it is the one that I have been reaching for the most. The combination of Macadamia oil and Argan oil means it adds moisture whilst repairing and strengthening and leaves my hair super soft. Its lightweight texture means that it does not weigh your hair down, it smells amazing and it also detangles very well.

Lastly, the Philip Kingsley Daily Damage Defence* (£22.00) is certainly the high end of leave in conditioners. Not only does this condition, but it provides heat protection, protection from daily environmental wear and boosts the shine of hair. It is not as lightweight as the Macadamia conditioner, but I have yet to have issues with it weighing down my hair. This large bottle will last you months, and is great used in conjunction with the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer.

What is your go to leave in conditioner?

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Update | 30 Countries before 30

27 Oct 2015

If you were following my blog back in May, you will have seen 30 Countries before 30 post. Essentially, I would like to visit 30 countries before the time I hit 30. At that point in time I was at 14 countries, just under half way. Now I am at 16, having travelled to Malaysia and the Czech Republic, which I have learnt equates to only 8.2% of the world- so I still have a long way to go!

I am going to Dublin in December, so that will get me up to 18, but I still have 12 countries to visit in just under 2.5 years. I would love to squeeze in another country this year, but I am pretty busy between now and Christmas - I have my eye on one of the Nordics though. As you can see in the picture, most of my travels have been around Europe - something which I would really like to change over the next few years.

To track the countries I have visited I use the app Mark O'Travel and use the UN member states as the total number of countries. It is a great way to visualise where in the world you have visited!

What are your travel plans between now and Christmas?

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Ole Henriksen 3 Little Wonders Mini Collection

25 Oct 2015

Ole Henriksen 3 Little Wonders

Ole Henriksen is a luxurious skin care range that is designed to be simple, safe and effective. The Little Wonders Mini Collection* is a trio of their best selling products which help to brighten, resurface and hydrate the skin in as little as 7 days. The truth serum is applied in the morning and the night gel in the evening, both followed by the brightening moisturiser. 

The Truth Serum Collagen Booster is rich in vitamin C, which helps to boost collegen production and restore radiance and has a refreshing orange scent. The Sheer Tranformation Brightening Moisturiser is oil free, lightweight and therefore absorbs very quickly. Together, these take a while to fully absorb, before you can apply a primer.

The Invigorating Night Gel is a resurfacing treaatment that works to improve the skins tone and texture. It is slightly sticky when applied, and has a very unsual smell, which disappears once the moisturiser is applied. I am pretty indifferent about this product, I have yet to see any real improvements in my skin tone - this may be a longer term treatment.

Since using these products I have found that my skin is looking brighter and more refreshed. At just £18, this pack is a real bargain - it's a great way to try before you buy a full price product, as they can be expensive. These are mini, so do not expect to get months of use out of them - but they do give you good idea of how they work with your skin before trying the full size.

Have you tried any products from Ole Henriksen?

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DIY | 5 Step at Home Facial

21 Oct 2015

At Home Facial
Facials are an important part of a skincare regime, they help to prevent and treat problems such as dry skin and breakouts. I myself ensure that at least once a week I put aside some time to relax and pamper my skin and these are the steps I follow.

Firstly, cleanse your skin to remove makeup and dirt from your face. I currently like to use Trilogy Make-Up Be Gone Cleansing Balm* which melts away your makeup, even the hardest waterproof mascara. Then steam your skin. This will open your pores and prepare your skin for the exfoliation. To steam my skin I use a cotton flannel or muslin cloth, fill a sink with hot water and soak the cloth in the sink. I then ring the cloth, place it on my face for a minute and repeat 3 times.

Next, exfoliate. I rub the exfoliating face scrub in circular motions around my face, promoting the blood flow, and focus on the areas where I suffer from blackheads or oiliness. I have been using the Urban Veda Purifying Exfoliating Facial Polish which contains natural pumice to remove impurities. The comes the mask. As my skin is currently dehydrated I use a face mask that will help put the moisture back in my skin.  The Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask is perfect for this, and leaves my skin feeling silky smooth.

Once rinsed comes the final step, moisturising. It is important not just to moisturise your face, but your eye area also. I use the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Balm* under my eyes and the Apinourish Firm Skin Facial Moisturiser* on my face. After a facial I like to apply a thick layer of both and leave it to sink in. This allows my skin to soak up the benefits of the facial, restoring the hydration in my skin.

Let me know your tips for at home facials! 

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Top 5 Autumnal Nail Polishes

19 Oct 2015

Autumnal Nail Polish

As the leaves on the tree begin to turn brown, and the skies are more grey, I welcome in the new season with a change in nail polish. I swap the bright summer shades for the dark sultry shades; these are my particular favourites at the moment. Firstly, inspired by the beautiful black/green wings of a beetle is Models Own Emerald Black Beetle Juice (£4.99). This shimmering duo chrome is beautiful for the transition from Summer to Autumn and will keep you going through Winter.

Next is the Kiko Nail Lacquer in 320 Beige Mauve (£2.50). This light heather colour is a beautifully toned down shade in comparison to the colours I wear in the summer. It goes with almost everything and looks great on any skin tone. I also like to wear red throughout the year and at the moment I am loving Rimmel 60 Seconds Polish in 320 Rapid Ruby (£2.99). Rapid Ruby is the perfect true blood red, that looks great on my fair skin.

Although the darker skies are not a favourite, this polish from Bourjois certainly is. Grey to Meet You from the 1 seconde range (£5.99) is easy to apply, due to the shape of its brush and dries with a lovely sheen. Lastly, one of my favourite nail polishes is Peace & Love & OPI (£12.50) from OPI. This duotone sage and eggplant nail polish is absolutely beautiful, in some lights it looks more silvery purple, whilst in others it looks more green.

What are your favourite nail polishes for Autumn?

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Beauty Advent Calendars 2015 For Under £50

17 Oct 2015

Following on from my last post, luxury beauty advent calendars for over £50, here are the more affordable options for this year. There are so many options this year, which means there is something for everyone in terms of cost, with the cheapest being just £18.99!

Bomb Cosmetics | £18.99
If you love Lush, but cannot face paying £49.95, then this is the calendar for you. You are treated to 24 mini bath bombs and soaps, that are jam packed with essential oils and natural ingredients.
Available: Now

W7 Cosmetic Treats | £19.49
W7 are one of the cheaper makeup options, so its nice to see they have bought out an advent calender. Included is 7 nail polishes, 3 eye shadows, 4 lip glosses, 6 lipsticks, 3 glitters and 1 mascara - so you can try a new look every day in December. 
Available: Now
House of Fraser | £20
A new one for this year, House of Fraser have released a beauty advent calendar that is in collaboration with Colour Couture. Again, included in this calendar are a variety of different make-up products - enough to build up a whole new make-up collection.
Available: Now

Marks & Spencer | £25
I am a big big fan of the Marks & Spencer makeup hall so this calendar really excites me.  In order to get this advent calendar you do need to spend £25 in their beauty hall, however this does includes brads such as REN, Rituals, Rodial and much more - so you are in for a treat.
Available: November

Tanya Burr Deck the Halls | £25 (currently £15)
Another new calendar for the year is the Tanya Burr Deck the Halls calendar. I can already predict that this will sell out very fast, especially as it is only £15 at the moment. Inside you are treated to two nail polishes, two false lashes, two shimmer posts, three mini lip glosses, two nail files and a mirror. 
Available: Now

Sugar & Spice | £25
I have not heard of Sugar & Spice before but at £25 this is a fair reasonably priced advent calendar. Included in the calendar is a variety of cosmetics, nail polishes, jewellery and hair accessories - so a bit more of a variety than others.
Available: Now

Benefit Party Poppers | £34.50 
The Benefit calendar is always a popular one, so much so that it has already sold out online! As you can see you are treated to 12 days of popular mini benefit products. This is a great way to try out different Benefit products before you commit to a full sized product.
Available: Now

No7 | £38
This advent calendar includes 25 beauty wonders from the No7 skincare, cosmetics, bathing and accessories. It is worth a whopping £148, and includes 6 full-size products so it is definitely well worth the money.
Available: 28th October

L'Occitaine | £39
I am particularly tempted by this calendar as I love all L'Occitaine products that I have tried. Featuring a selection of best sellers, this calendar is filled with 24 Provençal treats, including the almond shower oil which is my absolute favourite.
Available: Now

Makeup Revolution | £45
When I first saw this calendar I was very surprised at the price, considering how cheap Makeup Revolution products usually are. Having said that it does include 25 full sized products and it looks as though you are treated to a palette on day 25, which is perfect for Christmas day!
Available: Now

Lush | £49.95
As a big Lush fan, I am really very excited by this calendar. Included are 12 of their most popular Christmas products, ranging from shower creams and bath bombs to body lotion and soap. This unfortunately is already out of stock, but do keep checking as they usually restock. 
Available: Now

Cheeky Advent | £49
A calendar with a difference - all nail polish! This contains 24 5ml nail polishes, which are long lasting, quick drying and high shine formula's. As you would expect, there are 24 different colours - meaning you could make December extra special and wear a different colour every day!
Available: Now

Ciate Mini Mani | £49
Last, but not least, the Ciate Mini Mani advent calendar. Ciate nail polishes are of great quality so this really is great value. There are 17 mini paint pot polishes, 3 mini nail treatments, 2 decorative nail toppers and a mini crystal nail file.
Available: Now

Which are you most looking forward to?

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Luxury Beauty Advent Calendars 2015 For Over £50

15 Oct 2015

Every year I post about the Beauty Advent Calendar, and every year it seems to get earlier and earlier. However, as you may know these sell out super quick. I was planning on putting them all in one post, but there are so many this year that I have split them into 2 categories - luxury and below £50. From £59.95 all the way up to £260, there are some serious expensive and luxurious calendars available!
You Beauty advent calendars are one of my favourites as they are more affordable and contain a great mixture of products. Worth £330, this calendar includes some great brands such as Nuxe, Molton Brown an ESPA (a favourite of mine!)
Available: Now

Clarins | £60
This is a Clarins first and what a beauty it is. I am a big fan of Clarins and therefore love the idea of opening a door to a Clarins product every day. This advent calendar includes best selling and iconic products mixture of skincare and makeup, but the majority is skincare.
Available: Now

I love the Body Shop, therefore I love this advent calendar. It contains products worth £93.50, from bath and body products to make up, and even has a few Christmas scents included which I do love! This is a great way to try out all the different scents before you buy fullsize.
Available: Now

There is not much detail available for the Look Fantastic advent calendar, which makes it all the more exciting. All I know is that the contents are worth over £250, I have a feeling it will be a gooden and I can't wait to see what is inside!
Available: 1st November
The Selfridges Advent Calendar is always a popular one that sells out very quickly, so if you would like to get your hands on it do pick it up soon!  This year it is £95, which is expensive, but opening each door to brands such as Kiehls, Lancome, YSL and Viktor and Rolf - what do you expect?
Available: Now

Liberty of London | £149
This may be one of my favourites, if only I could justify £149! Every day you are treated to a different luxurious brand, there is even a full size Diptyque candle. What else would you expect from Liberty of London?
Available: 29th October

Charlotte Tilbury | £150
The book of magic make-up is certainly magic. Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with a minature Charlotte Tilbury product. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one you will also find a sample of the Magic Night Cream which isn't due to be released until January!
Available: November

Jo Malone | £260
Lastly, the award for the most luxuirous advent calendar this year goes to Jo Malone. The Georgian Townhouse design contains mini perfumes, scented body creams and much more. What a special treat this would can dream!
Available: Now from Harrods. Nationwide from November

Check out my next post for Beauty Advent Calendars under £50.

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Borneo Photo Diary || Kuching

13 Oct 2015

The last place we visited in Borneo was Kuching, the city of the cats. Unfortunately we had a bit of drama missing our flight from Mulu to Kuching (that only departs once a day) but the lovely MASWings got us on the next flight to a much larger airport so that we could purchase a new ticket to Kuching. We therefore arrived a bit later than expected, so we went to dinner and relaxed for the evening. The next day Richard wasn't feeling too great so we had a relaxing day exploring the city and resting by the pool.

As Richard was staring to feel better, we decided to go to the beach in the morning (our first time on a beach this trip!!) and the Sarawak Cultural Village. It was so hot and humid that we could barely lay in the sun, I have never had this issue! For dinner, we went to Zinc, a French/Spanish fusion restaurant. I would highly recommend going there if you are ever in Kuching, the owners were super friendly and it had a great atmosphere. It is expensive for Kuching, but compared to the UK it is still cheap.

Next up, we went to Bako National Park, for a day of trekking and looking for Monkeys. This was very similar to Mulu, however we did see lots of macaques and other creatures we had not seen before. As we had not yet seen an Orangutan (and you can't go to Borneo without seeing an Orangutan!) we visited the Semenggoh Nature Reserve. Here they look after Orangutans who have been mistreated, get them back to full health, then release them into the wild. As the Orangutans know they can get food from the reserve, they will come back for food, but you are not guaranteed to see them. Thankfully we were very lucky and got to see not just 1, but 4 or 5 of them! They are amazing animals, so human like - it was a real treat to see them in the "wild".

That is the end of my Borneo Photo diary - I hope you enjoyed it :)

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