30 November 2012

Dr Jart+ water max sleeping mask and BB cream giveaway

Since launching in the UK earlier this year, Dr Jart+ skincare has gone on to win much praise and today I'm giving away 2 of their most popular products - the Water max sleeping mask and Water fuse BB cream:

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Dr Jart+ Water max sleeping mask 
Dr Jart+ Water fuse BB cream

The Water max sleeping mask is an overnight treatment which contains both hyaluronic acid and cactus extract to intensively hydrate whilst you sleep. The BB cream on the other hand is oil free, evens out skin tone and contains both aloe leaf juice and sunscreen to help protect during the day.

For your chance to win both of these, simply be a GFC follower of Peonies and lilies, then leave a comment below telling me what you are most looking forward to this Christmas. Feel free to tweet about this giveaway or like my Facebook page for 3 extra entries each. This giveaway will be open worldwide, and will close at 11pm on 14th December.

Good luck!

November empties/Project bathroom update

It's crazy to think that I'm now approaching my 4th year of Project bathroom. Four years on, I still get that sense of satisification every time I finish a product. My beauty stash still continues to grow at an alarming rate, but these days I'm much more disiplined about using everything up and no longer leave half empty bottles all over my dressing table and bathroom. Here's what I managed to finish this October/November:

Organic surge volume boost shampoo, Forest secrets iRejuvenate step 1 lifting pro-youth face oil, Batiste lace dry shampoo, Seascape unwind bath foam, Forest secrets iRejuvenate step 2 regenerating skin serum, Botanics quenching face mask, KMS california silk sheen conditioner, Botanics soothing eye make up remover, Nails Inc Victoria nail polish, Elemis sharp shower and bath gel, La Roche Posay lipo-replenishing body balm, Elemis pro-vitamin conditioner, Garnier mineral 48hr ultra dry deodrant, Empties, Project bathroom

Organic surge volume boost shampoo
Forest secrets iRejuvenate step 1 lifting pro-youth face oil
Batiste lace dry shampoo
Seascape unwind bath foam
Forest secrets iRejuvenate step 2 regenerating skin serum
Botanics quenching face mask
KMS california silk sheen conditioner
Botanics soothing eye make up remover
Nails Inc Victoria nail polish
Elemis sharp shower and bath gel
La Roche Posay lipo-replenishing body balm
Elemis pro-vitamin conditioner
Garnier mineral 48hr ultra dry deodrant

Generally speaking, I enjoyed using most of the products listed above. Batiste is pretty much an everyday staple for me and I'm already on my next can. I also liked the refreshing scent of Elemis sharp shower and bath gel and would love to own a full sized bottle for every day use. Sadly, Nails Inc Victoria turned thick and gloopy before I could finish using it all up, but it was one of my favourite Autumn/Winter nail colours.

Have you tried any of the products listed above? How did you get on this month?

29 November 2012

November favourites

Can you belive it's now less than 4 weeks till Christmas! This year really has gone by far too quickly! During November, I was introduced to some lovely new products, as well as rediscovering some old favorites:

Naked volume body building shampoo, Naked weightless conditioner, Sleek true colour lipstick in Cranberry, Avene micellar lotion, Caudalie beauty elixir, Kiwi shoe passion Ball of foot gel cushions, Kiwi shoe passion Heel gel liners, Options Belgian choc hot chocolate, November favourites

Naked volume body building shampoo and weightless conditioner
This was actually my first Naked purchase and at the time I really didn't like it. Since then, I've tried a lot more SLS free shampoos, and am now used to it not lathering up as much. Lather aside, it's very gentle and has really helped to soothed my irritated scalp. The conditioner is rich and hydrating, but still easy enough to rinse out. I've not noticed a difference volume wise, but they do make a nice everyday duo and I like the fact that they're not overloaded with silicone.

Sleek true colour lipstick in Cranberry
Only last week I was saying I tend to shy away from strong lip colours. Well I've since done a compete 180, and am now loving this berry lipstick. It goes on very pigmented and matte (so ensure lips are well hydrated first), but it forms a stain on the lips and the colour is very long lasting.

Avene micellar lotion
Micellar waters are now my make up remover of choice and I think this is a good alternative if you can't get hold of any Bioderma. It dissolves eye make up without the need for any rubbing (although not as quickly as Bioderma) and unlike oil based removers, it doesn't leave a residue on the skin. I'm not keen on the soapy scent, but it's gentle enough not to sting or irritate the delicate eye area.

Caudalie beauty elixir
This was THE product of the summer, and although I don't think it was worth all that hype, I do like it as a setting spray. The fine mist takes away that powdery look, and I find it's herbal minty scent to be very calming and refreshing.

Kiwi shoe passion Ball of foot gel cushions and Heel gel liners
Usually after an evening in heels, my feet are in so much pain, but these gel pads really helped to alleviate the pressure on the balls of my foot, thus making heels for more comfortable to wear. The pads are very slim so didn't get in the way, and I like that they have an adhesive backing. The heel gel liners are also great for preventing blisters when breaking in a pair of new shoes.

Options Belgian choc hot chocolate
Finally a non beauty favourite. I've been obsessed with hot chocolate recently and despite tasting rich and creamy, this only has 40 calories per mug, making it a delicious guilt free treat!

Have you tried any of the products above? What are your November favourites?

28 November 2012

Winter clothing, accessories and shoe haul

Recently I've had a lot of events in central London, and as the shops are open till late, I often find myself popping in for a late night browse (best time to go if you want to avoid crowds). Here are some of my favourite purchases:

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Primark Mcqueen inspired scarf -£3

I've got a bit of a love hate relationship with Primark, but I find that as long as I don't shop there too often, I can usually find a bargain or two. The Alexander Mcqueen style scarf was my latest spot and at £3 it was too much of a bargain not to buy! I've been wanting a statement necklace for quite some time now and this spike one from New Look seems to go with just about every outfit.

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Primark knitted jumper - £14
H+M sparkly jumper - £14.99
Primark houndtooth dress -£5

During the Winter, you can't go wrong with cosy knits. The pink Primark one is great for lounging around in whereas the sparkly H&M one is a bit more stylish. I actually brought it in a silver colour last year and it's been one of my most worn jumpers. The dark grey looks more dressy though and I often get compliments when wearing it. The houndtooth dress was by far my best bargain and it's versatile enough to be dressed down or glammed up.

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Admitedly, these New Look ballet pumps aren't the most practical of winter shoes, but they are super comfy, and as I always struggle to find shoes in my size, I'll be saving them for next Spring. Finally I couldn't resist these studded boots. I've been pairing them with dresses and because the heels aren't too high, they're surprisingly comfy to walk in.

Have you done much shopping recently? What are your favourite high street stores?

27 November 2012

Ted Baker Christmas gift ideas (and a giveaway)

 Every year when the Boots Christmas catalogue comes out, I'll eagerly grab a copy from the stands then spend that evening circling all the gift sets that I like. Now Ted Baker isn't a brand that I'm familar with, but this year, there was one product in particular which caught my eye:

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Ted Baker Divine renewal toiletry bag

 I must confess it was the beautiful deep purple washbag rather than the products inside Ted Baker's Divine renewal gift set which first caught my eye. I love the pink ribbon design and for a Christmas gift set, the bag is surprisingly well made. It's padded, fully lined, waterproof on the inside, and has a lovely rose gold and signature Ted Baker ruby jewel zip.

Inside you'll find a bath foam, body souffle and body spray, all of which are heavily scented with rose, sandalwood, raspberry and vanilla. There is also an embroidered Ted Baker flannel washcloth. Priced at £18 I think this is a great value gift set, and it would be a lovely treat for anyone who likes to pamper themselves or travels a lot during the year.

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Ted Baker - Ted's sweet treat Polly purse spray gift set

Ted Baker recently brought out 3 mini perfumes, and this Christmas you can get a Ted's Sweet Treat gift set for the same price as the perfume alone. Inside the pink plastic carry bag you'll find a 15ml bottle of Polly purse spray, as well as 2 bath gems. Like the wash bag above, the perfume bottle is also decorated with a signature Ted Baker jewel. Scent wise, it has notes of mandarin, red berries, honeysuckle, vanilla and amber, which I find to be very sweet and musky. Priced at £15, I think this gift set would be best suited for teenagers. 

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Ted Baker body wash, body spray and bath foam

Finally, if you are looking for stocking filler ideas or want to make your own pampering gift set, then Boots are currently doing 3 for 2 on all luxury bathing products. Personally I prefer the sweet fruity scent of the Butterfly range, but if you'd prefer something more Oriental, than Origami is the range for you.

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Ted Baker origami occasions gift set

Now onto the best bit -Ted Baker have kindly offered to give away this origami occasions gift set to one lucky winner. For your chance to win, simply be a GFC follower of Peonies and lilies, then leave a comment below telling me what was the best Christmas present you've ever received. The giveaway will be open to all UK residents and will close at 11pm on 9th December.

Good luck!

25 November 2012

Instagram 014 and The Beauty Awards

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 Champagne afternoon tea/ Estee Lauder Xmas gift set/ Quality street nails

cocktails, Herbal essences
Pre-award cocktails/ Meeting Denise Van Outen/ Bake off Herbal essences style

Herbal Essences inspired cake/ Christmas has come early/ Yummy Korean soup

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Pixi cosmetics/ Breakfast/ Kelly Love accessories

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Skyfall and Pizza Express/ Making my own perfume/ Sushi Heaven


Recently, I also had the pleasure of attending The Beauty Awards, a swanky awards ceremony which was held after hours at the V&A museum. Usually at events there's not much of an opportunity to chat, so it was great so sit down over dinner and catch up with some of my favourite bloggers. We also had the opportunity to meet Dawn Porter, chat about her top beauty tips, as well as finding out more about Andrex Washlets.

Andrex washlets, the beauty awards
The washlets are basically flushable wet wipes that you use in place of tissue, and from next January, Dawn will be the spokeswoman for their new tv campaign. Having already tackled many controversial/taboo topics for the BBC, Dawn seems like the perfect person for the job, and she certainly kept us amused with her tales of approaching people in the streets, many of whom either walked away or thought she was a complete weirdo! Look out for the new TV advert, which Dawn actually filmed at the award ceremony.

Being a group of beauty blogger, the conversation soon turned to hair and make up, and she spoke at length about her love for Estee Lauder double wear foundation (which lasts all day), Moroccan oil (for glossy, sleek hair) and lashings of kohl liner, which along with a nude lip is her signature look.

Have you been up to much recently? What did you think about the new James Bond Skyfall movie?

23 November 2012

ASOS and Azealia Banks - a sponsored video

Music and fashion go together hand in hand, which is why this Winter Asos have teamed up with Hip hop artist Azealia Banks to release a short music video, showcasing some of her favourite looks from the new Autumn/Winter collection:

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The video is part of Asos's #BestNightEver campaign, which is all about giving customers outfit inspirations and top beauty tips so they can look their best this party season. There are also style videos from Model Charlotte Free and British singer Ellie Goulding, as well as behind the scenes interviews with all 3 girls.



Since releasing her music online in 2009, Azealia Banks has gone on to make a further 6 singles as well as teaming up with MAC cosmetics to bring out her own purple lipstick. Music fans will be glad to hear that the video features an exclusive preview of her new single - Fierce, and like model Charlotte Free's video, all the outfits and accessories will pop up in a clickable bar at the bottom of the video. From there you will be able to buy it straight from the ASOS website or pin the outfit on Pinterest for future inspirations.

Having seen the video, my top picks would have to be the gold baroque necklace, French connection glass pearl collar and black scoop neck long sleeved tee.

Have you made any ASOS purchases recently? What was your favourite outfit from this video?

*Sponsored post on behalf of ASOS

Liz Earle 24 days of Christmas advent calendar

It wouldn't be Christmas without an advent calendar and this year, in addition to my traditional chocolate one, I'll also be treating myself to a new product everyday thanks to the Liz Earle 24 days of Christmas advent calendar.

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Compared to traditional advent calendars, Liz Earle 24 days of Christmas is definitely a lot bigger and heavier. The red advent calender opens up like a book and inside you'll find 24 doors, each opening up to reveal a travel sized sample. The samples come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 2mls for the Botanical essence perfume, to 50mls for the Instant boost skin tonic.

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Over the years, I've discovered some great products from Liz Earle (eg. Botanical shine shampoo, instant boost skin tonic and gentle face exfoliator) and I'm really pleased to see that they've all been included in the 24 days of Christmas advent calendar. The samples will come in handy for travelling and there are also plenty of new products which I'm looking forward to trying this December.

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As tempting as it was to open all the doors, I wanted it to be a surprise everyday. I did however allow myself to open days 1 and 6 so you can get an idea of the sample sizes. All the products inside are listed on the back of the advent calender, as well as on the Liz Earle website, so you can see before you buy.

With a RRP of £100, there's no denying this is a luxury purchase. However it is worth bearing in mind that a lot of the samples retail for around £5 anyway and with so many products to choose from, Liz Earle 24 days of Christmas will no doubt bring a big smile to any skincare fan.

Liz Earle will also be running daily giveaway on Pinterest this December. Each day, you'll be able to win a full sized version of whatever is behind that advent calendar. Click here for more information and to enter.

What do you think about beauty advent calendars? Do you have a favourite Liz Earle product?

21 November 2012

The Body Shop Christmas 2012

When I think of The Body Shop the first things that come to mind are body butters and hemp hand cream but this year at their Autumn/Winter preview event it was the limited edition make up collection which first caught my eye:

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The Body shop smokey eye palette from last Christmas is still one of my most used items and I'm really pleased to see they've brought them back again, this time in a choice of Smokey copper or Smokey moonstone. I'm also loving the trend for sheer but moisturising lip colours and the red Colourglide shine lipstick shown above will be my go to shade for any pre Christmas parties.

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Of course, being The Body Shop, there are also plenty of new toiletries this Christmas. I'm a big fan of the sweet Vanilla bliss range, but you can also get your favourite products in a Ginger sparkle or Cranberry joy scent.

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Finally, there are numerous gift set to choose from. As big fan of their Chocolate body butter butter, I was immediately drawn to the Chocomania heart tin gift set. I think the fruit and nut lip trio would make such a cute stocking filler and as their body butters are so famous, you really can't go wrong with this quirky body butter lollipop.

What do you think about The Body Shop's Christmas offerings? Will any of it be on your wishlist this Christmas?

Disaster Designs Bon Voyage Wash Bag giveaway

Disaster designs do the cutest accessories and today I'm giving away this super pretty Bon Voyage wash bag, courtesy of Kiki's Boutique:


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Kiki's Boutique first opened in Dorset in 2008 and since then they've gone on to expand with a second store in Hampshire as well as a dedicated website.

After browsing the website, I was instantly drawn to this Disaster designs bon voyage wash bag. In fact, I would love one for myself and will be very jealous of the winner! The bag is illustrated with different travel destinations and it's faux leather material and large size means it'll be perfect for a long weekend away.

For your chance to win this Bon voyage wash bag, simply be a GFC follower of Peonies and lilies, then leave a comment below telling me where your favourite holiday destination is and why. Feel free to tweet about this giveaway or follow me on Facebook for 3 extra entries each. The giveaway will be open to UK residents and will close at 11pm on 6th December 2012.

The Boutique stocks a whole host of brands, and other than Disaster designs, I also liked the look of this beautiful London print purse and stylish Olivia Burton watch. If you're struggling for Christmas gift ideas or just want to treat yourself then I'd definitely recommend taking a look on their website. Kiki's boutique have also given me a discount code, so if you'd like to make any purchases, then simply use 'PEONIES15' for 15% off (valid until 31st May 2014).

Happy browsing and good luck for the giveaway!

20 November 2012

James Brown London volume boost shampoo and conditioner

Having found fame as hairdresser and best friend to model Kate Moss, it was only a matter of time before James Brown brought out his own range of haircare and styling products. I don't tend to do much in the way of styling, but as someone with fine straight hair, I was keen to put his Volume boost shampoo and conditioner to the test:

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James Brown London volume boost shampoo*
James Brown London volume boost conditioner*

Both products are formulated with rice proteins and oat extracts and are lightly scented. I can't put my finger on what the scent is exactly, but it does smell very professional and reminds me of the shampoos and conditioners they use in salons.

I found the Volmue boost shampoo easy to lather up and it was hydrating without being too rich. It does however list SLS as it's second ingredient, and over time I noticed that my scalp was becoming irritated. I now alternate this with a Naked SLS free shampoo and my scalp seems to be a lot calmer. The Volume boost conditoner on the hand was light and creamy in texture. It was easy to rinse out and always left my hair tangle free, soft and silky without weighing it down.

After use, James Brown London volume boost shampoo and conditioner always left my hair feeling clean, well nourished and bouncy, thus giving the illusion of slightly thicker more voluminous hair. To notice a real difference, I still think you need extra styling products, but these are a good starting point and as long as you're not sensitive to SLS, they'd make a good everyday shampoo and conditioner.

Have you tried any James Brown London haircare? What are your favourite volumising products?

19 November 2012

Scented candles

Over the last year or so, I've become rather obsessed with scented candles and now that it's winter, there's nothing nicer than snuggling up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate in hand and a scented candle burning in the background. Here are the three that I'm currently using:

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Noble Isle have only been around for a year, but their range of shower gels and body lotions have already become firm favourites with me. When I found out they did scented candles too I knew I had to give it a try.  Fireside candle & snuffer has notes of cinnamon, cypress oil, peppers, ginger and vanilla. The scent is subtle, but it is spicy, sweet and very comforting on a cold winter's day. Noble Isle products have that quintessential English feel, and I like the fact that the candle comes with it's own lid so you can keep it nice and clean when not in use.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of NEOM luxury organics, and their Harmonise candle is just perfect for winter. The candle is made only with vegetable wax and pure essential oils, and as a result burns cleanly without any soot or harmful pollutants. The combination of pine, cedar wood and eucalyptus smells amazing and even when unlit is strong enough to lightly fragrance a room. I also like the fact that they have 3 wicks, as the candle has such a large surface area and it helps it to burn more evenly.

Finally The White Company Blanc scented candle is the latest addition to my collection and the girliest of all 3 scents. Lemon, mandarin, white geranium, mimosa and juniper berries gives it a beautifully crisp and floral scent and I like to burn this during the day to help keep me clear headed and motivated. Like the other 2 candles, this came beautifully packaged and I love how chic and luxurious the white jar looks when sitting on my desk.

Have you tried any of these scented candles? What's your favourite one during the cold Winter months?

18 November 2012

Art deco afternoon tea with Paul Mitchell haircare

I seem to have got into the habit of doing food/lifestyle posts on a weekend, so when I sat down to blog, I thought why not carry on with that theme and write a mini review of the Art deco afternoon tea I had on Wednesday afternoon:

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The afternoon tea was hosted by Paul Mitchell haircare and it took place in the luxurious surroundings of London's Park Lane hotel. On arrival at the hotel, I had some trouble finding the reception desk and asking for directions to the tea lounge, but once I got there, the staff were friendly and helpful, the atmosphere calm but decadent and the food absolutely delicious.

There's just something so luxurious and sophisticated about afternoon tea, and the art deco surroundings and gentle harp music at Park lane's Palm court was the perfect accompaniment to a lovely afternoon of beauty chat, finger sandwiches, cakes, scones and of course copious amounts of English tea. If you ever get the chance to go, I'd highly recommend their beef and wasabi mayonnaise sandwiches as well as the beautifully decorated fruit tarts.

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So you may be wondering what's the link between Art deco afternoon tea and Paul Mitchell haircare? Well their Christmas 2012 collection is inspired by the opulence and glamour of the 1920s and there are a choice of 8 gift sets, each designed for a specific hair type. Naturally, I went for the volumising set, which retails for £25 and includes an extra body shampoo, daily rinse (thickens and detangles) and daily boost (root lifter).

Along with the gift sets, they are also doing gift with purchases (GWP). The leather clutch shown above will be free when you purchase any 3 full sized products, and there is also a luxurious looking notebook duo (free with any 2 purchases) which I'm currently lusting after!

Have you ever been for afternoon tea? What's your favourite Paul Mitchell product?

17 November 2012

Glossybox November 2012

It's Glossybox time again, and this November the theme is Stocking fillers. With the festive season fast approaching, this box is designed to serve as an inspirational gift guide for anyone who is unsure about what to buy a loved one this Christmas:

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Alison Claire natural beauty mango body butter - A rich blend of organic mango and cocoa butters to help nourish dry winter skin. I'm not the biggest fan of mango, but I love body butters and the product is free from chemical nasties so I'm looking forward to giving this a try.

Monu firming moisturiser - Is it just me or does Monu seem to pop up in almost every box! Since my last breakout, I'm now really careful about moisturisers, and as this isn't designed for my skin time, I'll be passing it onto Give and Make up.

Nails Inc Notting Hill Gate -An eye catching neon pink shade. I never get through nail polishes, so I like the idea of a mini bottle. I would have preferred the Kensington Caviar top coat, but non the less, this colour will get lots of use during the summer.

Crabtree & Evelyn Himalayan blue hand therapy - An award winning hand cream which contains shea butter and ceramides to hydrate the skin. Of the 5, this is my favourite product. I'm obsessed with moisturising my hands, and the 25g sample will be perfect for keeping in my handbag.

Dermologica daily microfoliant - A rice based powder that gently exfoliates. I've heard a lot of good things about this, and the product sounds very gentle, so I'll definitely be giving this a go!

Some of the other boxes contained a Burberry body fragrance sample which I would have loved, but on the whole I think there is a good selection of high end products in this month's Glossybox. Next month will be their Christmas box and I'm really hoping they'll bring back the red boxes that they used last year.

If you'd like to sign up for your own Glossybox, then use discount code 'AFFNOV15' for 15% off your first box. Click here for more info and to sign up. 

Have you received your Glossybox yet? What do you think about the products inside?

16 November 2012

Estee Lauder Smashed NOTD

During the winter, I love dark colours and since getting my nails done with Estee Lauder Smashed, I haven't been able to stop admiring them:

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Estee Lauder smashed nail lacquer

Released as part of the 2012 Metal Mania collection, Estee Lauder Smashed is a beautiful deep plummy shade with small flecks of purple and blue shimmer. The shimmer particles glisten beautifully in the light and I can't help but think of Quality street chocolates every time I look at my nails.

Some glitter polishes can be disappointingly sheer, but Estee Lauder smashed was opaque in 2 coats, and despite the shimmer particles, it has a relatively smooth finish. Lasting power is also pretty decent, I'm now on day 3 and so far there has only been minimal tip wear.

As you can tell, I absolutely love this shade and it's gone straight to the top of my wish list. In fact I'm really hoping Santa will brings me this next month as I think it'll be the perfect colour for Christmas day.

Have you tried any of the Estee Lauder metal mania polishes? What colour will you be wearing on Christmas day?

15 November 2012

NIOXIN haircare giveaway

Have you ever wished for thicker, more voluminous looking hair? If so then this Nioxin haircare giveaway may be of interest:

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NIOXIN products are specifically designed to give thicker, fuller looking hair, and they claim that you'll start seeing a difference within 30 days. The products are formulated with white tea extract and peppermint oil for a healthy scalp, as well as kukui nut oil and amino acids to help condition and add strength the the hair.

The kit I'll be giving away will consist of a shampoo, conditioner and scalp treatment (RRP £27.95). There are 6 different kits, each specifically designed for fine, thinning, natural or coloured hair and you'll be able to select the kit that's most suited to your hair type.

For your chance to win, simply be a GFC follower of Peonies and lilies, then leave a comment below telling me who your celebrity hair icon is. For extra entries, feel free to tweet about this giveaway or follow me on Facebook.

This giveaway will be open to all UK residents, and will close at 11pm on 30th November.

Good luck!

Balance Me Christmas gift sets

I'll be starting my Christmas gift guide early next week, but for now I wanted to show you these super cute travel gift sets from Balance Me:

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Balance me take me away with you body collection*
Balance me skin quenching body collection*

Despite looking all small and cute, they each contain 4 products, with sizes varying between 30-55mls. The 'Skin quenching body collection' includes a supermoisturising body wash and hand cream, as well as a rose otto body wash and cream. My favourite however has to be the eyecatching 'Take me away with you' body collection. I love the fresh citrussy scent of the shiny clean shampoo and conditioner and the inclusion of a super toning body wash and cream means you'll have everything you need for a short trip away.

Although I'm not too fussy when I'm on holiday, I do prefer my products to be SLS free, so the fact that all their products are made without parabens, sulphates and mineral oils means Balance Me gets a big thumbs up from me.

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Balance me radiant skin collection*

Another product that caught my eye was 'Radiant skin collection'. When packing, I always try and cut down on non essentials, such as face oils and masks, but this handy little pouch includes a mini sample of both so there's no need to go without whilst you're on holiday. As you may know, I'm a big fan of balm cleansers, so I'm really looking forward to trying the mini clease and smooth face balm and seeing how it compared to some of some of my other favourites.

Having done my fair share of travelling this year, I now truely appreciate the convenience of pre packed minis. The gift sets retail at a very reasonable £16 for the boxes and £18 for the skincare kit, and I think they'd make a lovley gift idea for a friend or even as a pre-holiday treat for yourself.

Have you tried any of these Balance Me products? What do you usually take away with you on holiday?

14 November 2012

Lip pencils

Lip pencils are big news at the moment. Clinique started the trend with their moisturising Chubby sticks, and now it seems there's a new one on the market almost every week:

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Clinique chubby stick intense*

Clinique chubby sticks are more like tinted lip balms and there are an impressive 16 shades to choose from. Shown above are Mighty mimosa, Curvy candy and Two ton tomato. The pencils are enriched with mango and shea butter and feel super moisturising, even on my dry winter lips. Colour payoff is surprisingly pigmented, it's about that of a sheer lipstick and I like the fact that it gives a subtle natural looking sheen to the lips.

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 L-R: Clinique chubby stick in Mighty mimosa, Curvy candy, Two ton tomato, 
Soap and glory gloss sticks in Nudist, Fuchsia-ristic

As the name would suggest Soap and Glory sexy mother pucker gloss sticks have more of a glossy finish and the pencils are scented with vanilla. At £8 each, they're more budget friendly but there are only 3 shades to choose from. Shown above are Nudist, which is the perfect 'my lips but better' colour and Fuchsia-ristic which is more of a bubble gum pink. Pigmentation is sheer but buildable and like the Chubby sticks, I find them to be very moisturising.

I'm not a big fan of strong lip colours so these sheer lip pencils are perfect for me. They're so quick and easy to apply, there's no need for a lip balm underneath and they leave a light stain on the lips, so you still get a hint of colour long after the balm/gloss has disappeared.

Finally I just wanted to quickly mention the new Clinique Chubby stick intense lip pencils. They have the same moisturising formula as the original Chubby sticks, but a much stronger colour pay off. I'll be sticking to the original pencils, but you'd prefer a bolder lip colour, then these would definitely be worth a try.

Have you tried any Clinique Chubby Sticks/Soap and glory gloss sticks? What's your favourite lip pencil?

13 November 2012

Sponsored video - ASOS Christmas 2012, create your #BestNightEver

Is it just me or does Christmas seem to come around quicker and quicker each year? Now that all the lights are on in central London and the TV is full of Christmas adverts, I'm starting to get into the festive spirit and can't wait to start decorating our Christmas tree early next month. Along with the usual festivities, there are numerous parties to go to, and if like myself you're struggling for outfit inspirations, then why not take a look at the new ASOS Christmas collection:


To help promote the new collection, ASOS have teamed up with model Charlotte Free, Singer Ellie Goulding and Hip hop artist Azealia Banks. Each of the girls star in the own fashion video and the whole thing is totally interactive so you can pin and buy the outfits as you are watching the video.


Both Azealia Banks and Ellie Goulding's video feature clips of their new single, but of the 3, my favourite has to be Charlotte's style video. I love the girly outfits and I'm currently lusting after that sheer black shirt and sparkly cocktail ring both of which are super versatile yet glamorous.

ASOS are also running a giveaway on Charlotte's video. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning the items, then simply use the hastag #BestNightEver when you pin an outfit. Full terms and conditions available via a clickable link in the video.

Have you seen the new ASOS videos? What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?

*Sponsored post on behalf of ASOS

12 November 2012

Winter skincare routine

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a skincare junkie. I love testing out new products and this last year in particular I've discovered some great brands. With the weather getting colder, I've just adapted my skincare for Winter and as as there are quite a few new products, I thought it would be a good time to do an updated skincare routine:

Emma Hardie moringa foaming cleansing wash, Angela Langford balanced and beautiful face oil,  Clinique even better dark circle corrector, rigins a perfect world tinted moisturiser, Carmex cherry lip balm, Origins BB cream, Skincare routine, Skincare, Review
In the mornings I always start off with a pump of Emma Hardie moringa foaming cleansing wash. Like my beloved cleansing balm, this is packed full of plant extracts and smells so uplifting. I like that fact that it's easily rinsed away with water and it leaves my skin feeling refreshed but still nicely hydrated. It comes out as a foam so you only use the tiniest bit per wash, but I do wish Emma Hardie would change her packaging. Within 2 weeks of using this, the pump had fallen off, and I have to temporarily push it back into place every morning.

After cleansing, I use a few drops of Angela Langford balanced and beautiful face oil in place of a moisturiser. This is specifically designed for combination skin and as long as I don't use too much, it sinks in quickly and doesn't leave my skin feeling greasy. It has a fresh zesty citrus scent and works well as a base for my make up. Usually my skin gets a little sensitive around October/November, but since using this, I've not had any problems and my skin seems to be more balanced.

Next I reach for Clinique even better dark circle corrector. The cooling metal applicator helps to wake up my tired eyes and the light tinted fluid perfect for keeping my skin hydrated throughout the day. For SPF protection I'm using Origins a perfect world tinted moisturiser, which also doubles up as my base. Finally, a slick of Carmex cherry lip balm and I'm good to go!

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At night time, I start off by removing my mascara with Botanics soothing eye make up remover before cleansing with Blooming babe genie in a bottle. The oil based make up remover quickly dissolves all traces of make up and dirt and I find it to be extremely gentle, even around the eye area. In the evenings I like to take my time and use this to give myself a mini facial massage. Once I'm done, this emulsifies on contact with water and after using a flannel, my skin is left feeling deep cleansed and ready for bed.

A few drops of Angela Langford balanced and beautiful face oil means my skin is well nourished for the night, and I like to use Aveeno positively radiant eye brightening cream to keep dark circles and puffiness at bay. A slick of Carmex cherry lip balm helps to keep my lips soft and smooth. Finally I like a use a few drops of Sk:n intense spot lotion to help get rid of any blemishes.

Have you tried any of these products? What are you currently using as part of your skincare routine?

11 November 2012

Instagram 013

 Hot chocolate on a cold day/ Graduation/ New shoes

 It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas/ Body Shop make up/ New necklace

Korean BBQ/ Birthday cake/ Neom candle set

 Christmas lights/ Dinner with Lina and Natalya/ Eaton Mess cheesecake

New haircare/ Westfield looking all festive/ Hummingbird raspberry cheese cake brownie


What's been the highlight of your week? Have you started Christmas shopping yet?

8 November 2012

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No 15 Eau de parfum

Liz Earle may be best known for her skincare, but in recent years, the brand has started to branch out into make up and fragrance. Last month saw the launch of a new Liz Earle Botanical Essence No 15 Eau de parfum and as a big fan of the original perfume, I couldn't wait to give this a try:

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The fragrance is made up of 15 specially selected botanical ingredients (hence the name) and comes beautifully presented in a rectangular glass bottle with a wraparound cardboard box. Like the first fragrance, you can tell a lot of thought has gone into the packaging and I really like the illustrations of all the different ingredients.

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 With notes of bergamot, patchouli, sandalwood, clove, vanilla and pink pepper, Botanical Essence No 15 is sophisticated, spicy, seductive and just a little bit sweet. The scent has a luxurious aromatherapy feel to it and I find it to be long lasting on my skin. This is fast becoming one of my favourite autumn/winter scents and for those of you that are starting to think about Christmas, this would be a great present idea for any sisters or best friends.

Have you tried the new Liz Earle Botanical Essence No 15? What's your favourite Autumn/Winter scent?

7 November 2012

Nars Fall 2012

To me, the arrival of Autumn/Fall means cosy nights in, plenty of hot chocolate and of course lots of exciting new make up collections:

Nars Larger than life lipgloss in Rouge Tribal, Nars Blush in Outlaw, Nars Pure matte lipstick in Amsterdam, Nars Velvet gloss lip pencil in More, Nars High society eyeshadow trio, Nars Vent Glace eyeshadow duo, Nars fall 2012, Nars fall 2012 review
Nars fall 2012*

The Nars fall 2012 collection was designed by founder and creater Francois Nars, and includes a selection of deep Autumnal colours, bold modern shades and soft subtle shimmers.

Being a neutrals girl, I was instantly drawn to the Vent Glace eyeshadow duo (the shimmery nude looks beautiful as an all over lid colour) whereas High society eyeshadow trio will attract the more adventurous with it's trio of lavender, forest green and iridescent amethyst.

The 2 lip products shown above are Velvet gloss lip pencil in More and Pure matte lipstick in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is a creamy Autumnal berry red and although I love the moisturising formula of the lip pencil, I personally find the shade too brown for my skin tone.

There is also a shimmery Blush in Outlaw, Larger than life lipgloss in Rouge Tribal and Nail polish in Storm Bird (check out my Instagram photo to see what they looked like). Now as you may know, I'm a big fan of blushers and lipglosses, so not surprisingly they were my favourite pieces from this collection and are now both firmly on my Christmas wish list!

Have you seen the new Nars fall 2012 collection? What's your favourite Nars product?

6 November 2012

Hummingbird coconut and pineapple cupcakes

Two of my friends celebrated their birthdays this week and I thought wouldn't it be nice if they had some freshly baked Hummingbird coconut and pineapple cupcakes on the day:

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The inspiration came from my beloved Hummingbird bakery book (recipe here), but as always I adapted the recipe to suit my needs. I opted for self raising flour instead adding baking powder to plain flour, and a mixture of coconut cream and water worked well as a substitute for coconut milk. I also decided to mix in the pineapple chunks instead of using them to line the paper case.


After 30 minutes, the cupcakes came out of the oven, and I must admit, it took a lot of willpower to not eat them there and then! To decorate, I used a mixture of butter, coconut cream, icing sugar and pineapple juice. The result of which was a thick creamy frosting, which went perfectly with the tropical flavours of the cupcake.

Without a palette knife or piping bag, the icing wasn't as neat as I'd have liked, but luckily the cupcakes were delicious and they were a big hit with the birthday girl.

Even though I always adapt them, Hummingbird recipes never fail to impress and I'll definitely be doing more baking in the future. I'd love to improve my decorating skills though, so please do let me know if you have any tips on how to achieve the perfect icing pattern.

Are you a fan of Hummingbird cupcakes? What's your favourite flavour combination?

5 November 2012

Selexir peace balm

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Elena Herdieckerhoff and Mirella Messerschmitt, two lovely ladies who are the brains (and beauty!) behind the rather impressive Selexir peace balm:

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The balm came about as a result of Elena's personal struggle with skin problems in her twenties. Having had relatively normal skin, she suddenly found herself experiencing extreme redness, irritation and dryness. As it was on her face, there was no way of hiding it and having tried both steroids and herbal remedies, she started researching natural ingredients and combining them together in the hope of finding a cure.

After 2 years, she finally found a formula she was happy with, and when friends reported similar results, she decided to teamed up with Mirella and officially launch the product.

Selexir peace balm is made up of 21 natural ingredients, including blackcurrant, black cumin, shea butter, mango seed butter, avocado oil and evening primrose oil to name a few.

As you'd expect from such a rich ingredient list, the balm is extremely thick in texture and has a subtle herbal scent. Because it's so rich, I personally wouldn't use it on my face, but it's been an essential for my hands and legs which tends to suffer from dryness, especially at this time of year.

Now I don't suffer from eczema, but I find the balm extremely nourishing and it really helps to get rid of that irritated burning sensation you can get from very dry skin or after shaving. The balm takes a while to sink in so I tend to use it more at night, but it's free from chemical such as parabens, silicones and petroleum so eczema suffers can reapply as often as they need to.

The only downside is the price of the product. At £99 for 75ml (or £20 for a 15ml tester) it's not cheap, however having seen family members suffer from eczema I know many of them would welcome anything to help relieve their symptoms. In fact, I'm going to pass on the rest of this Selexir peace balm to my brother, and if it helps his eczema, then I would be more than happy buy him another tube once this runs out.

Have you tried Selexir peace balm before? What do you use to soothe dry irritated skin?
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