Mandara Spa amber heaven travel bag giveaway

With 4 spas dotted around the globe and an extensive range of beauty products, it's safe to say that Mandara Spa know a thing or two about pampering treats. Today the lovely people behind the brand have kindly offered to give away 10 sets of their Amber heaven spa getaway travel bag:
Mandara spa amber heaven spa getaway travel bag

Inside the travel bag you'll find a a set of 4 products - nourishing bath essence, conditioning shower cream, softening body cream and a nourishing hand cream. Inspired by the sensual fragrances of Bali, the entire range features key ingredients such as sandalwood, patchouli, jasmine flower and cocoa butter - perfect for relaxing and pampering yourself on the go.

To enter, simply be a GFC and Bloglovin follow of Peonies and lilies, then leave a comment below telling me what would be your favorite pampering treat. Please also leave an email address or Twitter handle so I can get in touch if you are one of the lucky winners. 

Giveaway will be open to all UK readers and will close at 11pm on 8th February 2014.

Good luck!

BareMinerals get started kit review

A little bit of a confession to make today - what with the stresses of a full time job, long commutes and last minute Christmas shopping, I've been stuck in a bit of a make up rut these last few months. However come January I finally got bored of using the same products day in day out, and seeing as I've always liked mineral make up, it seemed like the perfect time to give BareMinerals get started kit a try:

BareMinerals customizable 8 piece get started kit*

With a selection of 8 items ranging from powders to brushes (and an instructional DVD), this seemed like the perfect kit to introduce me to BareMinerals, a brand that up till now I'd only tried lip products from. It also gives you a choice of various foundations, which is ideal as we all have different skin types and colours.

I opted for Ready SPF20 foundation as I preferred a more matte finish as opposed to the natural glow of their original lose powder formula. As I normally use a BB cream or tinted moisturiser anyway, I only needed a light dusting of this for some extra coverage. It can also be built up, and although I found the effect too heavy for daytime wear, it does create a beautiful complexion for photos.

Throughout the day I do start to get oily patches breaking through, however this sadly normal for me no matter what product I use, and a light dusting of the Mineral Veil finishing powder soon sorts out any shine or greasy patches. There's also a loose bronzing powder and 3 travel sized brushes too, all of which I really liked. The only product I've yet to try is the Prime time foundation primer as I found the foundation to work just as well without.

Overall, a really good value box of products to try out. I found the pressed powder and mini brushes particularly useful for doing my make up on the go, however this would also be ideal if you were new to the brand or just wanted to try out some of their hero products without having to invest in the full sized version.

Have you tried anything from BareMinerals? Do you prefer liquid of powder foundations?

Glossybox January 2014

Yesterday the first Glossybox of 2014 landed on my doorstep and the theme this month is Back to basics. They've gone for a slight redesign with the packaging too - gone is the old matte pink design, instead there's now a glossy pink box with the products nicely wrapped up in a branded bow. All very nice changes, but as always it's the products inside that really matter:

As first impressions go, I have to say I'm really impressed with the products they've chosen this month. There are 2 mini tubes of Yu-Be moisturising skin cream, floral Vintage cosmetic company tweezers, Balance me super toning body wash, Vaseline essential moisture body lotion and a pack of Anatomicals under eye patches - all really essential products that I already use or could easily be Incorporated into my every day routine.

My only complaint is that there seems to be an Anatomicals product in nearly every beauty box. Whilst I've always liked their products, it's starting to feel a little repetitive and it would be nice to see Glossybox introduce some newer brands. As always there's a mini magazine too, which this month is filled with top tips for detoxing and toning up as well as the usual advice columns and mini product reviews.

Overall, a well thought out, useful and varied box of products. I hope this sets the trend for 2014 and I'm looking forward to seeing what they've got planned for the rest of the year!

To find out more or to sign up for your very own Glossybox, click here.

Are you a Glossybox subscriber? What did you think about this month's box?

Winter hand care essentials

For as long as I can remember I've always been a regular hand cream user, but come winter time when the temperature suddenly drops my hands can become really dry and I always find myself upping the moisturiser in a bid to keep them soft and smooth. So following on from last week's blog post about my favourite winter nail varnishes, I thought I'd talk about my must have winter hand creams today:

Neal's Yard Remedies garden mint and bergamot hand lotion
Liz Earle superskin hand serum
Antipodes delight hand and body cream
The Body Shop hemp hand protector

Starting with this Neal's Yard remedies garden mint and bergamot hand lotion. Long term readers will know that I love anything that's refreshing and citrus scented so this was a big hit for me right from the start. I like to keep this on my desk as the pump means it's really easy to dispense and because the hand cream isn't too rich it's very fast absorbing too - perfect for during the day when I just want to lightly moisturise and get on with my work.

Much like it's skincare equivalent Liz Earle superskin hand serum is designed to be used underneath hand cream for that extra boost of hydration. I personally find this too light to be used alone, but on days when my hands are really suffering, this works wonders when used in conjuction with another product. It's light, fast absorbing and immediately soothing on dry irritated skin. As always with Liz Earle products, it's packed with active botanical ingredients too.

Of the four Antipodes delight hand and body cream is the most recent addition to my little collection. It's got extracts of macademia oil and gardenia so is beautifully scented and although quick absorbing, offers as much moisture and hydration as other heavier duty hand creams. Ideal for those days when your hands are really dry, but there's no time to hang around waiting for creams to sink in.

Finally I couldn't not mention The Body Shop hemp hand protector. It's fair to say this is probably my favourite hand cream of all time and I've lost count of the number of times it's been repurchased. Because it's so thick and creamy, I like to use this at night and no matter how dry my hands are, they're always soft and moisturised come morning time. A must have for anyone who suffers from dry hands.

Do you also suffer from dry skin in the winter? What are your favourite hand creams?

PS. Congratulations to Aimee who is the winner of my Nourish argan beauty collection giveaway. Aimee, look out for an email very soon!

Rayban caravan sunglasses review

It may seem rather out of season to be blogging about sunglasses in the middle of winter, but after years of wanting some Raybans, I was lucky enough to be treated to a pair just before Christmas. Now it's no secret that I'm super indecisive so in my usual style, I ummed and ahed for a good few weeks before deciding on the Rayban caravans:

Rayban caravan RB3136 -005-55 sunglasses*

I was gifted mine from Vision direct where the delivery was super quick and they had a good selection of eye contacts and sunglasses to choose from. The only thing I would say is that Raybans come in a variety of sizes so if you can I'd recommend trying them out in store first before ordering online (failing that there's a short size guide on their website).

As I have a naturally round face I opted for the more square style of Rayban metal rimmed caravans. Considering it's not been the most sunny of months, these have come in surprisingly useful for driving and I can't wait for some proper sunshine so I can start wearing them out and about.

Previously I'd only ever had high street sunglasses and comparing the two you can definitely tell the difference in quality and sun protection. My only complaint is that I seem to be in between sizes. In hindsight the larger size would have probably been a better fit, although the medium works just as long as I have my hair down. The toughened brown leather case was a nice touch though, especially as I've lost count of the number of sunglasses I've accidentally broken in my bag!

What was your favourite present this Christmas? Do you also own a pair of Raybans?

Sponsored video - Slendertone abs belt

As is the case with most people, I aim to be healthy all year round, however come January (what with the over indulgences of Christmas and the promise of a new start) I always find myself trying just that little bit harder. Whilst there's no substitute for a balanced diet and an active lifestyle there is one product in particular that I've been wanting to try for years:

Using a clinically proven muscle stimulation technology, Slendertone abs belt promises to give users a full abdominal workout without the need to spend hours at the gym. Now I don't know about you, but the idea of a belt giving me a firmer more toned abdomen sounds super appealing, especially as it's one of the areas I'm most self conscious about. There are 10 programmes to choose from and some can even be combined with your usual exercise routine for a more intense workout.

Slendertone have also released their top tips for keeping yourself fit and healthy this year:

1. Keep alcoholic consumption to a minimum (just 2 glasses of wine can contain up to 380 calories).

2. Try power walking, skipping, cycling or circuit classes to increase cardiovascular health and burn off those extra calories.

3. Aim for at least 1.5 litres of water. Not only will it keep you hydrated, it'll help to fight off those 'hunger' pangs.

4. Eat a balanced diet of proteins, minimal fats and a small amount of carbohydrates too provide you with energy for those work outs.

5. Finally try wearing your Slendertone belt during exercise for maximum results.

If you'd like to give the Slendertone abs belt a try, then keep an eye on their Twitter and Facebook page where they'll be running competitions until 14th February 2014.

Are you also on a health kick this January? What would be your top tips?

*Post sponsored by Slendertone

Winter nail varnish favourites

Whilst I love experimenting with nail varnish there are always a few colours that I gravitate towards, and after looking through my collection earlier this week, I wanted to share with you my top 5 favourite shades for the Winter season:

Winter nail varnish favourites
OPI pink yet lavender
Barry M dusky mauve
Nails Inc little miss chatterbox
Liz Earle pure poetry
Orly pink flakie topcoat

 Winter nail varnish favourites - natural daylight

Winter nail varnish favourites - with flash 

OPI pink yet lavender - A really gorgeous mix of fine silver glitter and chunky pink pieces. For such a chunky glitter polish the application was surprisingly even and the finish relatively smooth. Beautiful as a top coat over any colour, but especially darker blues and purples.

Barry M dusky mauve - The infamous Chanel Paradoxal dupe - I remember searching for this everywhere when it was first launched as it was sold out for weeks. In natural daylight it's a very dark mauve colour but add in some bright lights and it transforms into the most beautiful deep purple shade with just a hint of pink shimmer.

Nails Inc little miss chatterbox - For sophisticated daytime nails, you can't go wrong with a bit of taupey greige. Unfortunately this colour was limited edition, but for a good dupe I'd recommend Liz Earle ebb tide strengthening nail colour.

Liz Earle pure poetry - A really beautiful berry red shade - one of those classic colours that will always look super chic and goes with just about everything. Opaque in 2 coats, this was fast drying and bar a tiny bit of tip wear, long lasting too. It's also enriched with avocado and borage oils to help strengthen the nails.

Orly pink flakie - Finally a matte snowflake effect topcoat. Suspended in a clear polish, the flakies are densely packed and multi-coloured so gives the most beautiful effect when it catches the light. Like the OPI glitter it'll work over any nail varnish, but is truely stunning when paired with a deeper base colour.

Have you tried any of these nail varnishes? What would be your top picks?

Elemis radiance collections

Just in time for the New Year, Elemis have launched 4 new radiance collections. Each set has been specifically designed for a particular skin type and after rather neglecting my skin towards the end of last year, this has given me the perfect excuse to introduce some new products into my skincare routine:

Elemis balancing lime blossom cleanser, Elemis balancing lavender toner, Elemis pro radiance illuminating flash balm

Elemis balancing radiance collection

There are 4 sets to choose from - Rehydrating for dry sluggish skin, Balancing to aid oil control, Resurfacing to help speed up natural cell renewal and Illuminating which helps to rejunvenate and moisturise. Each set contains a cleanser and toner, as well as a mini 15ml pro radiance illuminating flash balm. The real selling point though has to be the fact that each set retails for £30-35, a massive 44% saving compared to the usual RRP.

One of my beauty resolutions this year is to regularly use a toner as part of my skincare routine and with it's promise of gently clarifying the skin and minimising pore size, Balancing lavender toner seems to be doing a good job so far. The lime blossom cleanser is nice and soothing on the skin too. I still prefer my balm cleanser at night, however thanks to it's fresh citrus scent and light refreshing texture it works well as a quick morning cleanse (especially during the winter when parts of my skin can be a little bit dry).

Overall a rather barginous and useful skincare set from Elemis - I like the fact that they've gone back to basics and just focused on cleansing and toning. If like myself you're in need a skincare overhaul or just want to treat yourself to some new products then I'd definitely recommend taking a look. Be quick though, as the products are limited edition and will only be available whilst stocks last.

Have you tried any of these products? Did you make any skincare resolutions for 2014?

Christmas party outfit of the day

It's been a while since my last outfit of the day, but seeing as one of my New Year's resolutions was to include more fashion posts on Peonies and lilies, I thought I'd quickly share what I wore to my Christmas work party a few weeks ago:

Patent black heels - M&S

As it was a work do I wanted to keep the look quite simple and classic with just a few pieces of jewellery to accessorize. After trying on various dresses I decided to go for this lace grey number, which was nice and structured but still stretchy enough to accomodate a full 3 course meal! The pink clutch bag was a bit of a last minute bargain from Primark and as always you can't go wrong with a pair of black patent heels.

Jewellery wise I opted for my favourite Tiffany's heart necklace and a Glitzy secrets bracelet. For such a heavily jewelled bracelet it was surprisingly light and comfortable to wear and as someone with small wrists I really appreciated the fact that you could adjust it quite tight. It's got a glamorous vintage style too so perfect for adding a bit of sparkle to an otherwise simple outfit.

Did you go to many Christmas parties this year? What would be your go to work party outfit?

New skincare favourites

After several weeks of festive over indulge and late night parties, my skin has been left looking less than radiant this January. As a result I've made a real effort to focus on skincare and in addition to some old favourites, I've discovered 3 new products too:

Estee Lauder advanced night repair, Elemis white flowers eye & lip make up remover, L'oreal Paris skin perfection day moisturiser

Starting with Elemis white flowers eye and lip make up remover, which has now replaced Bioderma as my make up remover of choice. Compared to Bioderma it takes about half a miniute longer to remove any mascara or eyeshadow, however I find it to be so much gentler and I've have yet to experience any irritation or stinging (even when I accidently get some into my eyes). As with all bi-phasic removers, it feels very conditioning on the skin and thanks to the extracts of white peony, lily and tea, nice and cooling too.

After deep cleansing (and a twice weekly face mask), I've been using Estee Lauder advanced night repair on a daily basis. It's a serum which goes on underneath moisturiser and by morning my skin always feels more hydrated, better rested and just generally brighter looking. Not surprising really when you consider it's got hyaluronic acid and a whole load of antioxidants on it's list of ingredients. Having never tried the original version it's hard to compare, however I will say this feels very light on application, is instantly soothing on the skin and works well under any moisturiser.

Finally during the day I've been graviting towards L'oreal skin perfection day moisturiser. At night I'm still using Clinique DDM, however during the day I wanted something that's a little bit less nourishing yet still thick enough to offer protection from the harsh winter elements. It's got a mattified almost primer like finish so great for using underneath my usual BB cream or foundation. Unlike traditional mattifying moisturisers it's not at all drying on the skin though and over time I've noticed a slight improvement in skin tone and pore size too.

Have you tried any of these 3 products? What are your new skincare favourites?

Goodbye 2013 and looking forward to 2014

At the start of every year I think it's nice to look back and reflect on the year gone by as well as looking forward and making some goals/resolutions for the new year ahead:

New York - September 2013

If I had to sum up 2013 in one sentence I would say it was the year of big changes for me (some good, some bad). I started working full time, saw my friends move all over the country (some even abroad), changed jobs after 4 months, temporarily moved to a new place myself and made a whole load of new friends.

Highlights of the year included spending a week in Prague, making new friendships through work and blogging, turning 25, attending London fashion week and finally getting to visit New York. And the biggest downside? Having to divide my time between Kent and London (I'm a Londoner through and through).

 Kew gardens - summer 2013

So looking forward to 2014 - needless to say I'm super excited to be moving back to London in the summer. With a bit of luck, it'll also be the year me and my boyfriend buy our first place together. I also want to continue blogging on a regular basis, organise more meet ups with friends and hopefully do more travelling too (if you have any holiday recommendations then please do let me know in the comments below).

In terms of resolutions, I've gone for just 5 this year:

1. Aim to blog at least 3 times a week. Along side the usual beauty posts I'd like to feature more fashion, food and lifestyle posts too.

2. Try and be better organised. I've got a habit of leaving things to the last minute and this year I'd really like to be better prepared.

3. Somewhat cliched but I'd really like to eat healthier and be more active in 2014 (I always start off so well then tail off towards the end of the year). 

4. Set aside a small amount of time each fortnight for some pampering treat.

5. Finally get back into reading and aim for at least 1 book every 2 weeks. What with a Kindle and long hours on the train I've got no excuses this year!

What were your highlights of 2013?  Have you made any goals/resolutions for 2014?

Christmas 2013

Happy new year everyone! Hope you all had a good time last night and that 2014 will be your best year yet. Now that the festive season has come to an end, I thought it would be nice to sit down and look back at some of my favourite memories and photos from the last few weeks:

Work Christmas dinner

It all started with the work Christmas party back a few weeks ago. These days the aren't many opportunities to dress up so I really enjoyed glamming up (look out for an outfit post soon) and celebrating with friends and colleagues. It was my first Christmas dinner of the year too (so tasty)!

 Oxford street Christmas lights

 Oxford street

Godiva teddy bear

 Festive Lola cupcakes

 Selfridges Christmas chocolates

As a Londoner, I regularly shop on Oxford Street, but this year, what with all the glittering white snowballs and sparkling Christmas lights it just seemed that little bit more magical. Selfridges had some beautiful in-store displays too, and I really enjoyed browsing through everything whilst picking up Christmas presents for friends and family. On a more personal note, since I now spent half my time away from London I've come to appreciate the capital so much more and I can't wait to move back properly in August 2014.

 Christmas presents

For Christmas this year I'd already picked up some pictures frames, scented candles, jewellery and books, but thanks to a generous gift voucher from Halifax bank, I was able to treat a friend to some extra beauty bits too. 2013 was a year of big changes for me and I really wanted to say a thank you to those who helped me get through the year. I opted for a Real techniques brush set (some of the best I've ever tried), a cute set of Cath Kidston mini toiletries as well as a bottle of the beautifully scented Boss orange perfume. Thankfully the gifts went down a real treat and she's now as obsessed with Real techniques make up brushes as I am!

Christmas 2013 also saw me return home to Birminghm for the first time in over a year. Although I always miss the freedom and convenience of London whenever I go back it was nice to just relax at home, enjoy some home cooked food and meet up with old school friends.

Bullring Birmingham

Coffee with friends

Finally with my old school friends we seem to have got into the tradition of meeting up after Christmas for lunch and some sale shopping. Quite surprisingly I didn't buy a single thing this year, but it was just nice to sit around, drink coffee and catch up over the last year. It's crazy to think we've been friends for nearly 15 years now!

Did you have a good Christmas break? What are you most looking forward to in 2014?
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