Saturday, 30 November 2013

november favourites

Now that November is drawing to a close and it's got to that point where there's around four hours of daylight per day, I'm finding it more and more difficult to keep up with everything. Between mountains of studying, revising for a piano exam - it's on the 4th of December, wish me luck - and my new-found love for Sherlock (I now track #sheetlock on Tumblr), not to mention I haven't even started buying Christmas presents, I've really got enough to be getting on with and yet all I want to do is curl into a ball and hibernate. It doesn't help that I've started buying Yankee Candles (they instantly put me to sleep); the one I'm currently burning is Cinnamon Stick and I've also got stocks of Christmas Memories and Vanilla Chai waiting to be put to use.

Moving on from candles to face cream (smooth transition there), and I've finally got myself a full size pot of moisturiser after spending about three months using up all the samples I had lying around. I went for the Elemental Herbology Cell Plumping Facial Hydrator since I had used up a few little tubes of it before and adored it, plus I had a load of Birchbox points saved up that softened the blow of the price tag somewhat. But it's worth it - I would have believed it if I was told that this moisturiser had been custom made for my skin, as it works so well at preventing excess oil and dry patches as well as creating a good base for makeup.

I'm not going to go too into depth about the Sleek Blush in Flushed or the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry as I've posted full reviews of both the products this month. Simply put, they satisfy my need to wear BERRY EVERYTHING on my face and make me feel all wintery and festive. And seeing my lipstick mark on a mug of tea is one of the nicest things, don't try to argue with me on this because it is fact.

Coincidentally, I featured the Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation in last year's November Favourites post (you can view it here if you want to have a chuckle at my photography skills... check out that lip swatch) and here it is again, and for good reason. Wake Me Up is such a brilliant foundation for the price, and provides just enough coverage to disguise any redness whilst giving my skin a natural glow. I have the lightest shade, 100 Ivory, which is still half a shade too dark for me but works if I blend it in, so I wouldn't advise blind buying the foundation online if you've got very fair skin.

Another previous favourite of mine has been the L'Oreal Super Liner Perfect Slim*, but it deserves another mention seeing as I've fallen even more in love with it. The swatch of doesn't portray it in the best light, as I'd left it standing upright for too long and there was barely any ink near the nib - rest assured, the line it gives is rather more precise than it looks and I end up with flawless winged eyeliner every time. Also from the same Super Liner line is the Gelmatic*, a black eyeliner that doesn't end up halfway down your face at the end of the day. The automatic mechanism works well (I've tried a fair few automatic eyeliners where this isn't the case) and there's a sharpener on the other end of the pencil so that keeps me happy, plus it's one hell of an upgrade from my smudgy, grey-black Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero.
And yeah I should have put a review up of these eyeliners like five months ago but since they've not budged from their spot in my daily makeup routine I keep forgetting to take photos of them. I'll get round to it soon. Promise.
*PR Sample.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

revlon black cherry

I'm not one to shy away from a bold lip colour and come winter, dark lips and I stick together like glue. There's something about the dramatic look that a deep lip colour gives which I just adore, and paired with some winged eyeliner I'm all set for the colder months. I may have overcompensated for my lack of shades to choose from last year, and ended up with more vampy lipsticks than I can handle but one that hasn't escaped my rigorous testing is Revlon's Black Cherry.
The packaging is beautiful, worthy of high-end status in every way were it not for the price tag. The lipstick glides on easily, but will need to be applied with a lip brush if you're going for an opaque coverage as the colour is so deep that any slight mistakes will show - I go around the edge of my lips with a concealer to make sure that I haven't "coloured outside the lines" as it were, and doing this helps the shade stand out even more. 
Black Cherry can fluctuate between a dark berry shade and a more warm-toned deep red depending on the lighting. The creme formula is moisturising enough for me to wear it without my lips cracking (definitely a good thing), although I make sure to prep my lips well beforehand even though the formula may not necessarily cling to any dry patches, it does accentuate them. My favourite way to wear the colour when I'm not going for the full-on gothic vibe is to apply the lipstick lightly to give a sheer tint, which has the effect of making me look like I've just been stuffing my face full of cherries (something I always strive for).


Sunday, 24 November 2013

november birchbox

English Laundry Pour Femme EDP | Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle | Weleda Creamy Citrus Body Wash 
Laura Mercier Long Lash Mascara | Birchbox Pencil Sharpener | Pukka Herbs Teas | Chella Highlighter Pencil

Can Birchbox stop being so consistently good for just one moment? Sure, I've received that Beauty Protector spray in two previous Birchboxes and haven't even started using them up, but I'm not complaining because there's SIX OTHER PRODUCTS in the box that I'm in love with. Yah.

A delicious cinnamon scent filled the entire room as soon as I took off the lid of my box, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the perfume sample had leaked - nope. One teabag had somehow managed to fragrance the room quicker than any candle would, and as an avid tea drinker I'm looking forward to sampling these new flavours (and of course my favourite, the Earl Grey will not go unloved). I adore the sample of perfume as well, so much so that I don't mind such a tiny sample being included as I'll probably end up buying the full size.
The Weleda body wash is going straight in my travel bag for the next time I'm staying in a hotel overnight and they don't provide shower gel, and it also smells amazing (spotting a theme here?). The Birchbox own-branded pencil sharpener is also a welcome addition as my previous pencil sharpener is looking rather worse for wear - however my NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils don't seem to fit in the new one so I may have to hold on to both for now.
And then there's the two makeup items, arguably the most exciting part of any beauty box. First we have the eagerly anticipated Laura Mercier product that Birchbox teased us with last month - in my box was the Long Lash mascara which I'm dying to try out, but for fear of either it or my current mascara drying out I'm going to wait until I've finished the mascara I'm using now before cracking the Laura Mercier one out. I haven't tried a pencil highlighter before, so I'm looking forward to working out how to use this one by Chella - I'm a little confused if it's supposed to be blended out with a brush or your fingertips, so I guess it'll be a case of trial and error.

Birchbox costs £12.95 per month, and you can subscribe here.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

uk magazine freebies - november 2013

Yeah, this is the post where I track down as many free gift with magazines as I can find on the internet and on the magazine racks (I spend about five minutes in WHSmith taking notes, it's a little awkward) and share them. You know the drill.

So first we've got a few Orly treats with Cosmopolitan (£3.60), which have a choice of four shades of the miniature bottle of Orly nail polish. The colours are a glittery gold, nude, deep red or ruby red.
More nail polish freebies with Glamour (£2), who have partnered up with Nails Inc for Kate Spade. You'd think I'd be all over this freebie, seeing as Nails Inc is one of my favourite nail brands, but none of the colours particularly appeal to me as they all seem very basic and I probably already have exact dupes in my collection already - there's silver, gold, red and black. Also in the mag is a gift card for The Body Shop, with either £3, £15 or £100 loaded up on it.
Another free gift that I thought I'd be excited about but ended up passing on was the Benefit lipglosses that come with this month's issue of Elle (£4). There's three different shades to choose from, Dandelion, Coralisa or Hoola - all 6.5ml in size.
I also recall a few other freebies coming with magazines, but I didn't take down any details and can't seem to find them online - Harper's Bazaar comes with Christmas cards and Tatler has a free Markus Lupfer clutch bag with it (view it here).

Monday, 18 November 2013

notd | lights of emerald city

OPI Lights of Emerald City | Ciate Cookies and Cream | Bracelet Watch*

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you one of the most interesting glitter nail polishes in the world. OPI's Lights of Emerald City was part of the Wizard of Oz collection, and is made up of large square white glitter mixed in with smaller iridescent square pieces of glitter. I paired it over three coats of Ciate Cookies and Cream, which together managed to stay glued to my nails without chipping for five whole days. The glitter isn't the easiest to apply, and takes two coats and a bit of dabbing here and there to get an even coverage. But it's worth it.
Also check out my new arm candy, courtesy of Born Pretty Store (they've got so many lovely inexpensive wristwatches on their site - I'm planning on buying one or two to use as stocking stuffers this Christmas). I adore the burgundy colour and the Roman numerals on the clock face, and it's easier to put on than you'd think once you've had a few attempts. If you fancy grabbing one for yourself, you can use the voucher code NATASHAC10 for 10% off as well.
*PR Sample.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

empties #7

I've made a considerable dent in my moisturiser sample stash, and have worked my way through a mini Origins Starting Over, Blanc Cachemire Creme de Jour Protectrice and Benta Berry G-1 Moisturising Face Cream. Both the Origins and Blanc Cachemire moisturisers were pleasant to use and absorbed quickly, although Starting Over isn't geared towards my skin type and the Blanc Cachemire one costs over £50. Crazy. As for the Benta Berry moisturizer, well... it was completely unusable. It would ball up if I applied any more than the tiniest amount, making it impossible to apply any makeup and leave my skin still unhydrated. As I hate throwing away anything that isn't empty, I ended up using it as a body lotion but did not enjoy it one bit. Honestly it must have been to worst moisturiser I've ever used.
Repurchase? No, no and no.

Another perfume bites the dust, and it's one that I will miss. I picked up the Beyonce Pulse EDP in the January sales last year for around £10 on a whim, and luckily I adored the scent. It's very fruity and sweet (that kind where you just have to sniff again) and although it doesn't last all day, it sure beats most of my eau de toilettes. The bottle isn't to my taste, but at that price who's complaining?
Repurchase? Maybe.

The Origins Super Spot Remover has been featured in a previous empties post that I wrote up around five or six months ago, and since then I've used up another whole bottle. Simply put, I love it and it's brilliant. Seriously, I've been without it for around a week now and my skin sorely misses it.
Repurchase? Yes.

A few other little bottles and tubes have been finished up too - Weleda Skin Food which I like but don't love (there are better alternatives available), the Gerda Spillmann Renaissance Age Serum (didn't do anything at all to my skin, not surprising as it isn't aimed at my skin type) and the B.Liv by Cellnique Off With Those Heads Blackheads Sebum Gel. I found the sebum gel to be less drying and slightly less effective than the Origins Super Spot Remover, but I may repurchase it in full size as I'm interested to see how it fares in the long run.
Repurchase? Nope, no and yes.

Other empty products include a rare makeup product in the form of the Maybelline Pure Cover Mineral Concealer in shade 03 Sand and the Clearasil Vitamins & Extracts Wash and Mask. The latter was just about to reach its expiry date, so I placed it in the shower to use as a body wash of sorts. Can't say it did much. As for the concealer, it's the one that I used when I first started wearing makeup (not the same tube, obviously) and didn't really need much coverage anywhere. However, my lack of sleep calls for something a bit more heavy duty now so I think I'll be ditching Maybelline for the famed Collection concealer - but if you're looking for something with a natural coverage I'd highly recommend checking out Maybelline Pure Cover if you can find it in stores.
Repurchase? No and no.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

the basics of beauty blogging

Entering the world of blogging can be tricky, and I know that when I first started I felt as though I had jumped in at the deep end with no idea how to keep afloat. Since then, I've learned a few tips and tricks so I thought I'd share them with you. If you've been blogging for a while don't expect to see anything new here, I'll just be going over the very basics - this post is more for those who are toying with the idea of starting a blog. Also please don't take my word as gospel, as everyone has their own way of doing thing and I'd hate for anyone to think that they have to stick to a specific formula.

Look into whether you want your blog to be purely one subject, or cover a range of things - for instance I focus mainly on beauty, but I also upload the occasional lifestyle or baking post. I've even done a few outfit posts. An obvious way to do this is to read blogs. Lots of them. It's the best way to find out what you like and what attracts you to blogs you like to read. 

The design of your blog is an important factor in keeping potential readers on your page, as first impressions really do mean a lot. Choose a colour scheme and a main font or two, then go about creating a header. You can pull inspiration from other blogs, and see where you want to have something really detailed or just a simple slogan. Having a photo as a header can look amazing, but it runs the risk of getting outdated. If you've made a header with a white background, but when you upload it there's still a grey-ish background you need to make the background transparent. A free way to do this is to go to LunaPic, upload your header and go to the transparent option on the edit menu. Once you're done, save it as a PNG and that's it!
Unless you're using your blog as just another platform of social media, I'd recommend using proper spelling, punctuation (please please please don't overuse exclamation marks) and grammar. Blogger has a built-in spellchecker (that doesn't seem to recognise the word "blog"), as does Google Chrome so it's difficult to get caught out, although sadly they don't pick up on things like mixing up "you're" with "your". Also please disable word verification on comments (I did a tutorial here) and try to have photographs on the largest possible size, or even go one step further and go into the HTML of your post and adjust the sizes from there.

Don't focus too much on statistics. Although it's nice to know how many people read your blog and it gives you a little confidence boost, when your pageviews for one week are less than the week before it'll get to you more than you might think. I know statistics is something that most bloggers like to keep private, which can be daunting if you're just starting out and think that the "bigger bloggers" are getting thousands upon thousands of hits per day. If it helps, I average 150 pageviews per day (according to Google Analytics, Blogger's statistics estimate around 200 a day. Neither are very accurate - one of the main reasons being that they don't track people who have disabled cookies) on days when I haven't uploaded a new post.

As for photography, you don't need a fancy camera, you don't need a light box and you certainly don't need Photoshop. Just find a good light source (this may be difficult now that it's winter, try taking a week's worth of photos all in one day at the weekend instead of resorting to flash) such as a windowsill, put your product facing the light and your camera on its macro setting if it has one and get snapping. If you can't find a good background, then tape up an unbent A3 sheet of paper for a clean plain white background (what I did in this post).
Editing is brilliant, and can turn a "meh" photograph into something Pinterest-worthy. I use both Picasa 3 and PicMonkey for my editing, and although I do own Photoshop Elements 6 I don't use it for blog photos. Picasa is free to download and automatically retrieves all your photographs from your computer (it doesn't support PNG format though) and I primarily use it to go through all the photos I've taken on a single "shoot", which can be anywhere from 30 to 200. I love Picasa for this as you can delete a photo instantly at the touch of a button without need for confirmation. I then export the photos I've chosen to PicMonkey to crop them and play around with the exposure, saturation, sharpness and size (I make sure that all photos are under 1MB, it helps them load faster on the page). If I'm adding text to a photo, I go back to Picasa as it has access to all of the fonts you have installed, whereas there are only a select few on PicMonkey.
To make editing faster, I'd suggest mastering a few keyboard shortcuts if you haven't already - Ctrl and Z to undo your last action, Ctrl and + to zoom in etc.

But if you're thinking of starting a blog, do it. Just don't expect for brilliant content to appear out of nowhere as everybody's got to start somewhere. It's a learning process, and it's almost impossible to make great content if you've never made good content, and make good content if you've never made average content, and make average content if you've never made anything that was slightly iffy. I know I'm not proud of my first post, but I keep it up for a reason.

Thanks to the lovely people on Twitter for giving me the confirmation that this post would be something you'd like to see!
Would you like this to be a series? The stuff I covered is fairly basic, but hopefully you might have learned something new. Maybe a post focusing specifically on photography, HTML/CSS or something? You tell me. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

life in colour #6

silhouettes | moorings | italian breakfast
seaside | pinecone | deck chair
railway | cagliari | bougainvillea
departures | life rings | washing
esplanade | sunny days | little octopus

flag | palm tree | alleyways

cobblestoned street | neptune's grotto | poser
new lotions and potions | handmade birthday card for a friend (stole the design idea from isa)

sleepy town | european goodies | back home

birthday cards and gifts
more birthday treats

Here's a few holiday photos from my ten day break in Sardinia. The temperature was perfect and the island itself is absolutely beautiful, much more lush and green than most of the Mediterranean and - bonus - the food is heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. Pretty much on every street there was at least one pizzeria and gelateria. I didn't want to leave.
I also had my birthday around a month ago, which was filled with cake and some lovely presents that I'm very grateful for - my parents got me a record player so I can finally play all of my dad's old vinyls and my friends fuelled my nail polish addiction (check out that OPI number) as well as gifting me a Sipsco tshirt and... er... this.