Mother's day - a last minute gift guide

In my usual style I've left it till the very last minute to pick up a gift for Mother's day. Thankfully though speaking to friends and colleagues it seems like I'm not alone and if like myself you've still yet to find the perfect treat then here are 4 last minute beauty suggestions (all easily available on the high street):

Elemis cellular recovery skin bliss capsules
 Elemis cellular recovery skin bliss capules

Elemis pro collagen treats

With high end skincare  for all skin types, Elemis would be a natural choice for Mother's day. You could always treat your mum to her favourite serum or moisturiser but if she's new to the brand then either the above gift sets would be a good option. The cellular recovery capsules in particular comes beautifully packaged and with individual little pods of skincare oil this would be perfect for the mother who likes to take the time to really pamper herself. Pro collogen treats on the other hand contains 2 skincare essentials - the much raved about cleansing balm (see my review here) and the advanced eye treatment. Plus the sturdy case doubles up nicely as jewellery box afterwards.

Yardley Jade EDT

Perfume would be another classic gift and for a light spring scent then take a look at the new Yardly Jade EDT. Inspired by the swinging 60s and with notes of peach, bergamot, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang and sandalwood it's their most youthful fragrance yet. The perfume rather reminds me of Chanel Chance and even better it's currently less then £10 at Boots, meaning there'll be plenty of change left over for a box of her favourite chocolates too.

Mandara spa bali santi

Finally for some pampering bathtime treats then what about the newly launched Mandara Spa bali santi range? Key ingredients include coconut oil, lotus flower milk, yogurt, spice and flowers, although blended together it smells exactly like a tub of melted chocolate. The Bali santi nurturing body milk in particular is just beautiful and I'd highly recommend picking up a bottle for yourself too!

Are you a last minute shopper like myself? What did you get for mother's day?

The spring edit - make up and skincare

Every season I like to switch things up a little, partly because it stops me from getting bored and partly because there are just too many pretty new launches to resist. I'll be doing a haircare and bodycare edit soon, but for now here are some of my top make up and skincare picks:

Spring edit - make up and skincare
The spring edit - make up and skincare

Ren rosa centifolia hot cloth cleanser, Suti honour coconut and rose face cream
Ren rosa centifolia hot cloth cleanser and Suti honour coconut and rose face cream

Kiko rock boulevard bronzer, Kiko rock boulevard blush
Kiko rock boulevard bronzer and blush

My beloved Elemis balm cleanser came to an end last month, but seeing as my skin is no longer as dry, I've been enjoying using the Ren rosa centifolia hot cloth cleanser instead.  To remove all traces of make up, I simply massage onto dry skin, wait a minute or two then rinse off with warm water. The cleanser is lightly scented but very gentle on the skin, and always leaves my face feeling clean yet still nourished. Being Ren it's free from a lot of the chemical nasties and it gets big bonus points for coming with a small flannel instead of the usual muslin cloth.

I'm still seaching for the perfect Spring day cream but at night I've switched to Suti honour coconut and rose face cream. It's rich and hydrating, but still quick absorbing and non greasy on the skin. There's rose to hydrate and tone, coconut to repair and date seed extract to help fight the signs of ageing. Being a small company you can tell that a lot of love and attention has gone into each product and they do the most beautiful cleansing balm too (which has now made it's way firmly to the top of my wishlist).

Make up wise, I've been reaching for Bourjois 123 perfect CC cream on a near daily basis. It's super light yet still offers the same coverage as many of my foundations. Click here to see my full review.

I've also been loving the new Kiko rock boulevard collection. Call me a sucker for design, but I love the embossed zip and jean pocket. The products don't disappoint either. Both products come finely milled and although the bronzer looks scarily dark in the pan, it can be applied with a light hand for a sheer wash of colour. There's no visible shimmer either, so perfect for using under the cheeks as a contour. The Pop apricot blusher on the other hand is just beautiful - pinky coral with a natural satin finish, perfect for adding a pop of colour during the spring months.

Finally for the lips I've been switching between the new L'oreal extraordinaire liquid lipsticks (full review here) and Bourjois rouge edition velvets. The L'oreal one has more of a glossy finish, whereas the Bourjois dries to a matte finish. In particular I've been loving Bourjois peach club for a more neutral lip and L'oreal fuschia drama when I want something a bit brighter.

Do you also like to switch up your make up and skincare every season? What are your top picks?

A wander around Greenwich market

At the start of the year I had 2 aims - incorporate more lifestyle posts on Peonies and lilies and spend more time exploring new areas of London. With that in mind, armed with our oyster cards and cameras, we decided to go for a little wander around Greenwich market yesterday:


As it was around midday we headed straight for the food stalls, and boy were we spoilt for choice. After a quick stop to smell some amazing tea blends, we went about the hard task of choosing what to have for lunch.


With everything from Sushi to bento, wraps and burgers there really was something for everyone. Perphaps most impressive was the Korean food stall, where almost everything was cooked fresh to order. In the end we opted for a beef stir fry and a messy but oh so delicious minced lamb and hallumi cheese wrap. If it's a sunny day like yesterday then I'd highly recommend walking to the nearby park where you can enjoy a spot of sunshine and people watching over lunch.


The desserts didn't disappoint either. Having sampled various options I'm pleased to report that the millionaire's shortbread and warm churros with caramel/chocolate dipping sauce were both absolutely delicious and well worth the long queues. 


Bellies filled, we started browsing all the different craft stalls. I particularly enjoyed the home decor and skin care stalls, but there were plenty more to choose from - perfect if you're on the lookout for unique presents for friends and family.


Cutty Sark was just around the corner too, and although we didn't go on board it was fun to look around, marvel at the design and act like a tourist taking lots of photos. All in all, it was a really delicious and fun day out. If you're ever at a loose end then I'd definitely recommend having a look around London's many markets. Next on my list are Spitalfield's and Borough market, but if you have any other suggestions then please do let me know in the comments below.

Have you ever been to Greenwich market? Did you get up to anything nice this weekend?

Braun silk-epil 7 skin spa epilator review

It's that time of year again when the sun starts shining, temperatures begin to warm up and everyone starts to shed those heavy winter layers. Now whilst I love the first few days of spring - so much hope and happiness for the summer months ahead, one thing I don't enjoy is hair removal and fake tanning after months of hiding under dark jeans and thick tights. Usually I'm a shave and go kinda girl, but this year in search of a longer lasting solution I've been trying out the new Braun silk-epil 7 skin spa epilator:


 Braun epil-silk 7 skin spa epilation and sonic exfoliation system

Braun epil-silk 7 skin spa epilation and sonic exfoliation system

Having used an epilator before I knew what to expect, and although uncomfortable at times it certainly wasn't painful or unbearable (if you've never tried it before it's similar to having an elastic band flicked across the skin). Compared to shaving it takes a few minutes longer, but the little guide light ensures that no hairs are missed and the longer hair free period means the results are worth it for me.

Being a fake tanner, I found the exfoliating brush head particularly useful, both pre treatment to smooth out the skin and to prevent any ingrowing hairs from forming. Despite having more than 10,000 bristles and 3,000 vibrations a minute it felt surprisingly gentle on the skin and was almost like a clarisonic for the legs. Other features include the fact that it can be used both wet and dry and comes with a shaver attachment for more delicate areas.

As with most electrical tools it's an investment purchase at £169.99 (currently on offer with 1/3 off at Boots). However if you are thinking of investing then long term it works out far cheaper than waxing and in the short term it'll mean longer hair free periods, especially when compared to shaving.

Have you tried Braun epilators before? What's your preferred method of hair removal?

Glossybox March 2014 - Beauty blossom

The new Glossybox arrived last week and I must admit on first impressions I wasn't immediately bowled over (there's usually at least one standout item). However having had a good play with everything this weekend, I've since come to the conclusion that although it's not the most exciting, it is the most practical box I've had in a while and I can actually see myself using each and every single product:


Glossybox March 2014

Mitchell and peach body cream
Juicy Couture malibu collection
Dove intensive repair 60 second treatment shot
BellaPierre shimmer powder
Sleek make up pout polish

Of the 5, my favourite has to be Sleek pout polish, a gloss/lipbalm hybrid which comes in the most beautiful peachy nude colour. BellaPierre shimmer powder is beautiful too, although being a loose powder I'd probably save it more for special occasions. Haircare wise, there's a sample of Dove's new treatment shot. Having had good results from a similar one by Tresemme I'm keen to give this a go, and given the current state of my hair, it could certainly do with a good treatment or two.

Completing the line up is a sample of Mitchell and Peach's body cream, which will come in handy for weekends away and finally little testers of Juicy Couture new Malibu fragrance. With it's combination of tropical fruits and fresh flowers, this might just be my go to scent for spring/summer. As always there's a mini glossybox magazine too.

Overall, not the most exciting of boxes but a very useful and good value one none the less. For more information and to sign up for your own Glossybox, click here.

Are you a Glossybox subscriber? What did you get in your Glossybox this month?

Maxfactor excess volume extreme impact mascara

Without realising it's turned out to be a bit of a drug store week on Peonies and lilies. Is it just me or are they coming up with some great launches this year?! Today I wanted to talk about another new addition to my make up bag, the Maxfactor excess volume extreme impact mascara:

Maxfactor excess volume extreme impact mascara

Maxfactor excess volume extreme impact mascara review
 Maxfactor excess volume extreme impact mascara review

Maxfactor excess volume mascara review
Maxfactor excess volume mascara review

Launched in January, Maxfactor extreme volume extreme impact mascara comes in 2 steps, the first to volumise and the second to add colour and gloss to the lashes. From what I can tell, the first brush is the same as their well loved False lash effect mascara - a chunky rubber brush which really gets into the roots, coating each individual lash to add volume and definition.
 
The second is a thinner, more tapered brush. I find the first coat dark enough already, but this stage helps to lengthen and add more volume, as well as removing any small clumps from the first application. The smaller brush lends itself better to the lower lash line too.

Both ends work well when applied alone, but used together it gives the appearance of thicker, more volumised lashes with a bit of extra length too. It holds a curl nicely throughout the day, but it's worth mentioning that compared to some of my other mascaras it can take a little longer to remove. I'd recommend an oil based make up remover first followed by your usual cleansing routine.

Maxfactor excess volume extreme impact mascara, RRP £12.99, available now from Boots.

Have you tried this new Maxfactor mascara? Any drugstore launches that have caught your eye recently?

Bourjois 123 perfect CC cream and eye cream review

When it comes to high street foundations and concealers it seems Bourjois can do no wrong. Their healthy mix foundation was one of the first I ever brought and to this day it remains a firm favourite. There's now a new foundation on the block, and despite the rather cliched name, Bourjois 123 perfect CC cream may just be another new favourite:

Bourjois 123 perfect CC cream and eye cream

With it's CC cream name and squeeze out tube, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's just another sheer tinted moisturizer. In fact it's more of a light-medium foundation but with a seriously light fluid texture (it reminds me of Chanel vitalumiere aqua). On a day to day basis I simply dot on a small pea sized amount then blend in with my fingers, but for more coverage you could easily build it up with a foundation brush.

Coverage wise, it's very natural - evening out my skintone and drying to a semi matte finish. It really does look like a more radiant evened out version of my natural skin. It's an oil free formula too, so lasts well thoughout the day and despite my naturally oily T-zone I only really need to powder up in the afternoon.

The only thing the foundation won't do is cover up my dark circles, which is where Bourjois 123 perfect CC eye cream comes in. Like the 123 perfect foundation, the CC eye cream is light and fluid in texture, offers 24 hour hydration and SPF 15 protection. Being a light concealer it won't completely mask heavy duty dark circles, but if you're after something that's brightening and won't settle into any fine lines, then this would be well worth a try. 

Overall, a really lovely duo of bases. I'm still amazed at how good the CC cream is at brightening and evening up my skintone, especially when you consider how light it is. Definitely one to check out if you hate the traditional heavy feel of foundations or if you want something lighter going into Spring.

Have you tried any of the Bourjois bases? What's your favourite foundation and concealer?

Hydraluron moisture boosting face mask review

Every so often a product comes along which completely transforms your everyday routine. For me, that product was Hydraluron, a gel serum which basically saved my skin from dehydration and dryness this Winter. So when I heard that Indeed Labs were bringing out a new Hydraluron face mask, I couldn't wait to give it a go:

Hydraluron moisture boosting mask

I wasn't expecting Hydraluron to be in a sheet mask, but actually the formula works really well. Each cloth is soaked in the gel serum, so you can simply pop it on, relax and let the mask do all the hard work. Not being used to sheet masks, I found it a little fiddly at first, but by the second mask you soon get the hang of it and it's very soothing and cooling on the skin. After 15 minutes, you simply peel off the sheet, then rub in any excess serum before applying your usual moisturiser on top.

Straight away my skin felt more plumped up and radiant, with the effects lasting a good few days after. I had quite a bit of excess gel left in the satchet too, which I used in place of my usual Hydraluron at night. The only downside? At £19.99 for a box of 4, these work out significantly more expensive per application than the tube. Because of this, on a day to day basis I'd still recommend the serum, but for special occasions, flights or hungover skin days, these sheet masks are an absolute must have!

Hydraluron moisture boosting mask, RRP £19.99 (currently on 3 for 2 in Boots)

Have you tried the new Hydraluron face mask? What are your winter skincare essentials?

L'oreal extraordinaire liquid lipsticks

We may only be in March, but 2014 is shaping up to be quite the year for lip products. We've already had innovative new formulas, matte crayons, everyday nudes and bold brights. Well now joining the line up are these beautiful new L'oreal extraordinaires:

L'oreal extraordinaire liquid lipsticks

L'oreal extraordinaire liquid lipstick swatches
L'oreal extraordinaire liquid lipsticks

Described as a liquid lipstick, the new Extraordinaires are perfect for anyone who wants the colour pay off of a lipstick, but without any of the dryness that can you sometimes get. The shades shown above are 600 Nude vibrato (a beautiful everyday peachy pink), 204 Tangerine sonate (a classic coral) and 401 Fuschia drama (a bold bubblegum pink).

Of the 3, my favourite would have to be Nude vibrato, simply because it's just so natural and wearable. Applied like a lipgloss, the Extradorinaires feel balmy and moisturising on the lips (apparently they use a special blend of micro oils and colour pigments to achieve this). Good colour pay off can be easily achieved in just 2 layers but they also work well when blended out for a more natural daytime look.

There's no staining element to these liquid lipsticks, but without eating or drinking I can get a good few hours of wear before the need to reapply. Overall, an exciting new launch for the high street and I would definitely recommend checking them out once they start appearing on counters across the country.

L'oreal extraordinaires, RRP £8.99, available now from Boots.com

Have you tried any exciting new products recently? What's been your favourite lip launch this year?

February favourites

It's been a while since I've done a monthly favourites. January was all about going back to basics, detoxing and pampering my skin, but what with all the exciting new launches in February it wasn't long before I got bored and started introducing them into my routine. It's not all bad though, as I've managed to discover some great new products:

February favourites

I'm not the best at using toners, but coming into Spring I've been enjoying the new Organic Surge orange flower toner. Without any alcohol, it's gentle and calming on the skin. My skin can still be a little temperamental at times, but I feel that using this daily helps to tone down the redness and balance out any dry/oily patches.

For my eye cream I've been reaching for Clinique superdefence SPF20. With light deflecting particles and broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection, this helps to target both dark circles and prevent the early signs of ageing.  Considering it's got SPF in it, the formula is surprisingly light and fast absorbing, making it ideal as an everyday eye cream.

We may be coming into Spring, but I'm not ready to let go of my dark nail varnishes just yet. Essie wicked is the latest addition to my collection and it's just the most beautiful deep dark red. The formula is impressive too, thin enough that it's easy to paint, but still pigmented enough to be opaque in just 2 coats. I have a feeling this is going to be the start of a very expensive Essie obsession...

After a bit of a make up rut, I discovered L'oreal Miss Manga mascara last month. The flexible brush means you can really get into the corners and for a non waterproof mascara it holds a curl pretty well too. It tends to smudge a little during the day (I have this problem with most mascaras) but for a lengthening and volumising effect it really does do the job well. 

Finally a rare fashion favourite from me - I was treated to this beautiful Fossil Stella watch for Christmas and it's barely left my wrist since. Rose gold seems to be one of those colours that's super flattering on everyone and it goes with just about every outfit. I love the subtle row of crystals and with hourly dials and a date counter, it's nice and practical too.

What were your favourites this month? Do you have any Essie nail varnish recommendations?
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