Festive giveaway - M&S limited collection eyeliner set

Happy New Year's eve everyone, hope you've all had a good holiday and are enjoying the festive period between Christmas and New Year. For today's giveaway I've got this colourful set of M&S limited collection eyeliners: 

M&S limited collection eyeliner set

With 8 full size eyeliners, in a range of colours from everyday neutrals to bold blues and greens as well as a gorgeous lilac, this would be perfect for a night out or for anyone who likes to experiment with make up. For your chance to win, simply leave a comment below telling me your favourite Christmas present this year. Don't forget to be a Bloglovin and GFC follower of Peonies and lilies and also to leave a contact email address or Twitter handle via the Rafflecopter app so I can get in touch if you are the lucky winner. This giveaway will be open internationally until 7th January 2016.
Good luck and Happy New Year!

Festive giveaway - Ciate liquid velvet lipstick set

Happy Christmas Eve everyone - I'm currently wrapping the last few presents, catching up on Vlogmas and getting excited for all the festivities tomorrow! Following on from the DIY beauty hamper giveaway I've got a few more prizes to share, starting today with this cute Ciate liquid velvet lipstick set:

 Ciate liquid velvet lipstick set

Featuring 3 gorgeous suit all shades, the mini liquid velvet lipsticks are pigmented and long lasting, perfect for a night out or to keep in your handbag during the day. For your chance to win simply leave comment below telling me your favourite Christmas tradition. Don't forget to be a Bloglovin follower of Peonies and lilies and leave an email address or twitter handle on the Rafflecopter app so I can get in touch if you are the lucky winner. The giveaway will be open internationlly and will close at 12am on 31st December 2015.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Christmas gift guide - Stocking fillers and Secret Santas

Christmas is fast approaching and although I've made a start on my shopping, stocking fillers are always something I leave till last. Luckily this year there are lots of cute little sets available and if you're in the same situation then I hope you'll find this gift guide useful. I've also included a couple of bigger presents which will work well for any last minute Secret Santas:

 Christmas gift guide - stocking fillers and Secret Santas

I feel like M&S always gets forgotten about as a beauty destination but since their revamp a few years ago they now stock some great brands. One gift set that caught my in eye was this colourful eyeliner kit. With 8 shades to choose from she'll be spoilt for choice and  I like that there's a good mix of darks and brights. As all the eyeliners are full size it works well as a Secret Santa too. 

Located in the New Forest SenSpa offers the most amazing treatments and this little gift set allows you to experience some of that relaxation at home. There's a relaxing body wash, body scrub and body butter as well as a sleep therapy bath soak. Perfect for anyone who needs some pampering or likes to travel a lot. 

Tree decorations always make the cutest stocking fillers and for skincare fans you can't go wrong with a tin of Steamcream. A versatile moisturiser for hands, face and body it contains ingredients such as oatmeal, lavender oil, chamomile and jojoba oil, all fused together by a shot of steam. A great way to try out the brand or to have a mini to keep in your handbag. 

For mums and sisters I'd recommend this gorgeous eyeshadow palette from No 7. You really can't go wrong with neutrals and not only does this contain 8 wearable shades it also comes in the most beautiful gold packaging. Great as a standalone present or combined with one of their skincare sets for the ultimate treat.

Ciate may be best known for their nail polishes but they've recently branched out into make up and I love this cute little tree decoration for Christmas. The liquid velvet lipglosses are so pigmented and long lasting and they'll be perfect for slipping into your handbag come New Year's eve!

Christmas gift guide - stocking fillers and Secret Santas

For mums and grandmothers I'd recommend having a look at Yardley perfumes. There are so many scents to choose from and for the quality they are so well priced. New for this year is English bluebell, a light and fresh fruity floral with notes of bergamot, cassis, bluebell, jasmine, vanilla and musk. 

I don't know anyone who doesn't like Cleanse and polish. A cream based cleanser, it turns make up removal into a complete dream and the gentle eucalyptus and rosemary scent is so soothing. It's available as a standalone product but I think the starter kit with the muslin cloth would make such a nice gift, especially if she's new to the brand. 

For Christmas this year Smashbox have partnered with painter Yago Hortal to design this fun gift set and inside you'll find 4 of their bestsellers, including the much raved about photo finish primer and full exposure mascara. Perfect as a Secret Santa (especially for sisters and best friends) and you'll no doubt be super popular with the lucky receiver.

Scented candles always make such nice gifts and with Yankee Candle there are so many scents and sizes to choose from. For a Secret Santa I'd go for one of the jars but as a stocking filler their votives are great, especially if you include a couple. Berry trifle is rich and fruity but Snow in love and Christmas cookie are always super popular too.

How are you getting on with your Christmas shopping? Did any of the gift ideas above catch your eye? 

Christmas giveaway - DIY beauty hamper

Can you believe there's now just 9 days till Christmas?! Time always seems to go by so quickly in December and there's still so much to do before the big day! To celebrate Christmas and to say thank you for all the support this year I've got a few giveaways coming up, starting today with this DIY beauty hamper which I hope will help to take away some of the festive stress and get you feeling party ready:

Christmas giveaway - DIY beauty hamper

It's always nice to take some time out for a pamper and inside the gift box you'll find a variety of products including a shampoo and conditioner, Dead sea salt scrub, Dove gradual tan, Jelly Pong pong make up and festive nails, as well as a pair of Christmas socks and Yankee candle to help you relax.

This giveaway will be open internationally and to enter simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter app. I'm going to try my best to get this delivered in time for Christmas so the giveaway will close on Monday 21st December with the winner announced and the prize posted the same day.

Good luck!

Colour your way with Boots No 7

Although I like to try out new products and formulas, day to day my makeup remains very much safe and neutral. So when No 7 got in touch and asked if I'd like to experiment with some new colours I thought it would be a good chance to step out of my comfort zone, especially with Christmas and the party season coming up:

 No 7 colour your way - my look

I'll never be one to embrace crazy blues and oranges but I thought purples, reds and golds would work well with my skintone. To start with I applied my usual base and brows, then got to work with Tea party trio eyeshadow palette and Deep purple stay perfect amazing eye pencil. Both were quite close to my usual make up shades and therefore gave a nice smokey eye with just a hint of colour. I thought I'd gone for quite a dramatic look but actually looking at the photos I could probably amp it up even more for the party season 

Another product I liked was the Shimmering glow palette highlighter as the gold works really well with this particular look. For lips I switched between Moisture drench lipstick in Berry shine (a gorgeous daytime pink) and Pillarbox (an orange red). I've always been a little scared of red lipstick but I actually really liked the colour and having been pushed out of my comfort zone I'll definitely be reaching for it a lot more this Christmas. Only downside is that it's a lot more high maintenance than my usual lipstick so I need to find a matching lip liner asap!

To complete the look I went for another 2 products from the limited edition Christmas collection - No 7 gel look shine in Red velvet and Treasure. Gold and red is such a classic combination this time of year and I loved the glossy shine and gel like finish. 

Overall it was surprisingly fun playing around with some new colours and although I still love my neutrals and taupes it's good to switch it up every so often. If anything it's made me want to experiment more with colour and I've already got my eyes on a gorgeous turquoise nail polish and smokey green eyeshadow. 

Do you like to experiment or do you prefer to play it safe with colour? What will you be wearing this Christmas?

Christmas gift guide - the luxury edition

Part 2 of my Christmas gift guide and today it's all about luxurious gifts for that someone special in your life:

Skincare kits will always go down well, especially with mums and fellow beauty addicts. It's a good time to stock up on old favourites and as they often contain a few extras it's nice to try something new too. This year I've been particularly impressed by Radical and with a moisturiser, serum and eye cream it's got her whole beauty routine covered. 

Cleansing brushes are still so popular and Mary Kay skinvigorate gets my vote this year. Compared to cleansing by hand it removes far more make up and I like that it's battery operated and waterproof so no need to constantly charge or worry about electricity in the bathroom. If she likes her beauty reads it's also worth adding in Mary Kay's book which makes for such an inspiring read.

L'occitane Pierre Hermes collection (from £14)
You can always rely on L'occitane to do some great gift sets but if you'd rather pick and mix your own present then take a look at this gorgeous limited edition collaboration with Pierre Hermes. Inspired by his macaroons, there's a choice of 2 scents Jasmine neroli and Grapefruit rhubarb, with a variety of products including a shower gel, body lotion and perfume. There's also a really lovely hand cream trio which is bound to be popular this Christmas.

Braun silk epil 5 epilator (currently on sale for £49.99)
For a girlfriend or sister it's worth asking if she has any expensive electricals on her Christmas wishlist. Hair straightener are always a popular option but if she's wanting a new epilator then I would definitely recommend taking a look at Braun. Their epilators are always so well designed with a range of different accessories and speeds. It also come with a smart light and massage system, ideal if she's new to the world of epilating.

Michael Kors gold collection (from £33.50)
Perfumes are another great gift idea and this year the Michael Kors gold collection sounds particularly gorgeous. There's white luminous gold with notes of pear, jasmine and amber, 24k brilliant gold which contains mandarin, florals and woods and finally Rose radiant gold which sounds perfect for winter with it's notes of spice, florals and musk. A particularly good gift if she's fashion conscious and loves her MK handbags and watches.

Finally saving the best till last. Every year a huge Soap and Glory gift set goes on sale for half price in Boots and this year they've collaborated with fashion designer Philip Colbert for this eyecatching bag. Inside you'll find 9 full sized items, including favourites such as clean on me, the righteous butter and hand food. A huge bargain as always and definitely worth buying either as a present or as a pre-Christmas treat to yourself. 

Did any of these gift sets catch your eye? What are your favourite luxury gifts?

Christmas gift guide for her

Christmas is fast approaching and this time of year there are always lots of gorgeous gift sets and beauty exclusives. I'll be doing a few gift guides this week, starting today with this huge selection of products for her: 

Molton brown the cruise collection, Soap and Glory soaprise, This works dream believers, Melvita L'or Bio extraordinary oil

Luxurious shower gels and body lotions will work well as presents and you can't get much better than Molton Brown. This gift set features 2 of their best selling scents and is a great way to add a touch luxury to her everyday routine, plus it comes beautifully presented too.

Soap and Glory always goes down well, especially with teenagers and this year I'm loving the Christmas cracker gift set. There are 6 all together and each one has a generous travel size product inside. With minis such as clean on me and foam call it's a fun way to stock up on old favourites or to try out something new over the holiday season. 

This Works deep sleep pillow spray has been raved about so much and given that Christmas can be a particularly stressful time of year this gift set would be a great idea to help someone relax and unwind. In addition to the pillow spray there's also a deep sleep dream cream so she can really pamper herself and the gift box is absolutely gorgeous too. 

On a little side note, Bath & Unwind are doing an Arran Aromatics Secret Santa when you spend over £30 this week. 

Another cult classic and this body oil would be perfect for someone who likes the little luxuries in life. With a blend of five oils this is seriously nourishing and a great alternative to the usual body lotion. It can also be used for the face and hair and smells lovely too.

100 Acres candle

Continuing on with the pampering theme, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't like a scented candle for Christmas, especially one as lovely as this. It's made with natural wax and essential oils and I love the fancy gold print. Even unlit the candle smells amazing, it's so warm and festive and really does remind me of cosy nights in by the fire.

Art and make up by Lan Nyugen-Grealis

Art & Make up by Lan Nyugen-Grealis (£22.03 from Amazon)
For all the make up lovers out there what about this book, filled with some seriously stunning images and pro tips by award winning artist Lan. Each look is an amazing work of art and with inspirations from the world of art, sculpture and cinema and performance art it'll keep you enthralled for hours.

Bare Minerals the royal court, The Balm Nude'tude eyeshadow palette, 17 cosmetics clutch

A neutral eyeshadow palette is an essential for any beauty addict and this Christmas I'm loving Nude'tude by The Balm. There are 12 eyeshadows all of which are buttery and pigmented and come in a good mix of mattes and shimmers. It also comes with a mini brush and eyelid primer so you have everything you need to complete the look.

Contouring and highlighting has been THE make up trend for 2015 and this kit has 3 gorgeous powders to help you achieve the look. There's clear radiance for an all over glow, golden gate to add a pop of colour and warmth to bronze and contour. A good option for anyone new to contouring or as a go to kit for someone who likes to travel.

Finally for teenagers she'd love this 17 clutch. Inside you'll find a palette with 6 versatile eyeshadow shades as well as a gorgeous bubblegum pink lip crayon. There's a good mix of neutrals and brights so she can experiment with different looks and the clutch doubles up nicely as a make up bag too. 

Did any of these gift sets catch your eye? How are you getting on with your Christmas shopping?

Life - November round up

Another month over and November seems to have passed by in the blink of an eye. Can you believe there's now just 21 days till Christmas?! I'm looking forward to going gift shopping, visiting winter markets, cosy nights in and catching up with friends but before things get all festive around here, here's a little round up of life in November:

November started with a night out at the Cabaret for a friend's hen do. I'd never been before but it was a really fun night with a 4 course meal and entertainment throughout followed by lots of dancing (and even a little dance off at the end). I wasn't sure what to expect but we all had such a good time and I would definitely recommend if you want to try something a little different for a special occasion.

We also went out for a really tasty Lebanese followed by a late night screening of James Bond and I have to say Spectre is my favourite movie to date. There's a good mix of action, drama and romance and Daniel Craig played the part perfectly. 

After nearly a year and a half I finally plucked up the courage to get my hair cut! I'm one of those people that's terrified of hairdressers and it was even more nerve wrecking as I was trying out a new salon after being left disappointed by my last stylist. Luckily Tomoyuki gave me a cut which I really like and with nearly 7 inches off at the ends it feels so much healthier and lighter now.

November also saw a couple of Spring/Summer press days and although it still seems a long way off I'm excited about some of the new launches on QVC and M&S, especially the gorgeous Tarte palette, Little Ondine polishes and Shay & Blue perfume.

November was a bit of a fail on the health and fitness front. I all but stopped doing 30 day shred and only managed one run the entire month. It felt good to get back on the bandwagon though so I'm hoping to do a lot better in December. I'm also going to try and take up some indoor activities for when the weather's bad so please let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions!

Food and drink
Living in London there's no shortage of restaurants and bars to try out and this month I've discovered 2 new favourites - Murger Han in Euston which sells food from the Xian region of China and Piste a pop up bar in Soho which is designed to look like a winter ski chalet.

Located near UCL, Murger Han very much caters to the student population with it's simple no frills menu and cafe decor, but aside from my mum's home cooking this is probably the most authentic restaurant in London and the prices are really reasonable too.

To celebrate the launch of their new fruity wines, Echo Falls treated a bunch of us to an evening of cocktails and canapes at Piste. With flavours such as strawberry & lime and winter spice the wines are a nice alternative to the usual reds and whites and they're a lighter option for cocktails too. My favourite has to be the passion fruit & peach wine, especially when mixed in a cocktail with pineapple juice, lemon and vanilla, so good!

How was your November? What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?

Photography tips for beginners

Photography is one of my favourite parts of blogging and although having a DSLR and macro lens helps, I'm always looking for ways to improve. Having recently attended a photography workshop where I learnt about some of the more technical aspects I thought I'd put together a little guide for taking the best photos and getting the most out of your camera:

 1. Natural daylight is best
Starting with the most obvious, but whether it's for beauty, fashion or food, natural daylight is always best. I find the light most flattering in the afternoon although strong sunlight can also work for a brighter more contrasted photo. Coming into Winter though it's not always possible to have natural daylight so it's worth investing in some lighting or playing around with different camera settings (especially in somewhere like a restaurant where lighting is not always possible). 

 Low apertures for a blurry background

2. Aperture for a blurry background
Aperture is one of my favourite settings to change for a more professional looking shot. Think of all the beauty and fashion blogs where the subject in focus and the background blurry - it's called 'bokeh' and the best way to achieve it is with a low aperture (expressed as a 'f' number). It can be achieved with a kit lens but for a really professional looking photo I'd recommend investing in a macro lens. I have this one which goes down to a f1.8 and has made a huge difference to the quality of my photos. It also helps to have the subject of the photo as far away from the background as possible. 

Playing around with shutter speeds and angles for the best photo

3. Shutter speed to control the lighting
This is all about how quickly the camera takes the photo (expressed as a fraction of a second) and therefore how much light it lets in. For daylight a fast shutter speed eg. 1/200 is fine but at night time you'll need to decrease the number eg. 1/20 for a well lit photo. Anything lower than 1/60s and you'll most likely need a tripod to avoid hand shake and therefore a blurry photo. This is also the setting you need for those cool moving light photos although patience and a tripod is definitely needed!

To control aperture and shutter speed simply change the circular camera dial to A or S respectively then use the little thumb dial on the right to increase or decrease. 

4. White balance for a more colour accurate photo
This is particularly useful in warm lighting situations or if you want to go for a particular effect - think yellow lighting for warm cosy feel or blue lighting for a colder more wintery effect (apparently a common trick used in films). The automatic set up is usually good enough for daylight hours but for a warmer or colder effect there are also several pre-set options on a DSLR. Most useful though is the option to set your own white balance and tell your camera what is true white for the most colour accurate photo (instructions here).

5. Play around with different set ups
I'm guilty of relying on the same few set ups for my blog photos but sometimes experimenting and taking a shot from a different angle can make all the difference (particularly with food and drinks). Flat lays will always be popular but a zoomed in shot with a blurry background can be just as good. It's also fun to play with the rule of thirds and white space in a photo can be just as effective if not more visually striking.  

I hope you found these tips helpful and a big thank you to Currys and Nikon for such an informative and useful evening!

Do you use these settings regularly ? What are your top photography tips?

Currently loving...nude/baby pink nails

I've always loved experimenting with bold statement nail colours but recently I can't seem to get enough of nudes and baby pinks and have built up quite the collection! There's just something so effortless chic about barely there nails and today I  thought I'd share a few of my favourites:

 Essie ballet slippers, Essie vanity fairest, Bourjois rose satin, No 7 blissful, Review, Swatches
Currently loving...Nude/baby pink nails

Essie ballet slippers, Essie vanity fairest, Bourjois rose satin, No 7 blissful, Review, Swatches
L-R: Essie ballet slippers, Essie vanity fairest, Bourjois rose satin, No 7 blissful

Essie ballet slippers - A classic baby pink which although sheer at first can be built up for more of an opaque creamy finish. It's one of those timeless suit all shades that every girl needs in her collection and the wide Essie brush makes application so quick and easy.

Essie vanity fairest - A really sheer pink with a fine shimmer running though. Even with three coats the nail bed still shows through but this is actually my favourite of the four as the colour is just so gorgeous yet subtle. A really good one for everyday wear especially if you like the naturally polished look.

Bourjois rose satin - A petal pink shade which again can be worn sheer or layered up for more of  an opaque look. I actually prefer to wear just one coat for light wash of colour but even layered up it's fast drying and has a nice glossy finish. Works really well as part of a French manicure too.

No 7 blissful - This is more on the peach spectrum but it's the most pigmented of the four and I can easily get away with just one coat. It has a gel like finish and seems to go with just about every outfit for a subtle understated look. A really good colour for work too, especially if you work in a more professional or office environment.

Have you tried any of the shades above? What nail colours are you loving this Autumn/Winter?

Autumn/Winter skincare essentials

It seems that a lot of us struggle with our skin during Autumn/Winter. The combination of cold winds, hot showers and central heating can leave it feeling dry and sensitive and as a result a new routine is often needed. Through trial and error I've found some real gems and today I thought I'd share the 5 products I'm relying on this Autumn/Winter:

Autumn/Winter, Skincare, Beauty, Kiehls, Hylamide, Dr paw paw, Dove, Dove derma spa. Kiehls ultra facial cream, Review,
Autumn/Winter skincare favourites

Kiehls ultra facial cream review

Kiehls ultra facial cream - This product has been raved about so much and I'm kicking myself for not trying it sooner! With ingredients from sea glaciers and the Australian dessert it's well equipped to protect the skin from harsh conditions and achieves that magical combination of being super hydrating yet at the same time still feels very lightweight and non greasy. It leaves my skin feeling comfortable and balanced and is now my go to day cream. It can be used at night too although having got on so well with this I'm tempted to try their midnight recovery concentrate next.

Hylamide low molecular booster serum - A serum is a must have during Autumn/Winter and at the moment I'm really liking this. Unlike most hyluronic acid based products, this contains different molecular weights so that it absorbs into the deeper layers and increases hydration from within as well as targeting the surface layers. The serum is quite viscous and feels almost gel like although it's quick absorbing and soon disappears into the skin. I also really like the pipette as it keeps the product nice and hygienic and allows me to dispense the exact amount each time.

Dr PawPaw original balm - This reminds me of Vaseline (although there's no petroleum in the formula) and has a multitude of uses including for the face, lips, nails and elbows. I was initially hesitant to use such a rich product on my face but it doesn't seem to have caused any breakouts and within a day or two my stubborn dry patches had completely disappeared. Because it leaves an oily sheen on the skin I tend to use it overnight and save it as a lip balm only during the day.

Dove derma spa body lotion and hand treatment - Finally it's important to also take care of the skin on your hands and body. I was actually told by a therapist recently that my arms felt dry after a few days of not moisturising. Since then I've been slathering on the Dove daily! The derma spa range is slighter thicker than their usual body lotions but it was the scent that really sold me on the product. A really heavenly blend of florals, it just smells so amazing and lives up to the spa name, turning an everyday chore into a bit more of a treat. The hand cream isn't as scented but it does the job well and the small tube nice and convenient for my handbag.

Do you also struggle with your skincare during Autumn/Winter? What are your beauty essentials?

DIY beauty ideas

Since joining Pinterest I've become rather obsessed with all things DIY, be it for beauty, home or even a special occasion. So when Mira Showers and Midas touch crafts challenged me to put together a few recipes I thought it would be the perfect excuse to get creative and have some fun in the kitchen:

DIY peppermint sugar scrub

 DIY beauty - the essential ingredients

1. Scented body scrub
DIY body scrubs are one of my favourites to make as they're just so simple yet effective. Essentially you need some sugar or oats to exfoliate as well as some olive oil or coconut oil to bind the ingredients together and to gently moisturise. I then like to play around with essential oils depending on what mood I'm in. Today I really fancied a detoxing peppermint scrub but lavender is good for relaxing and citrus flavours never fail to uplift and brighten. 

2. Olive oil eye make up remover
Another really easy recipe is to mix together two parts water with one part olive oil for a DIY eye make up remover. I remember back in the day there were endless articles dedicated to using just olive oil as a cleanser but I found that it was quite difficult to wash off and I much prefer an emulsifying balm cleanser instead. This works really well though as it removes any heavy eye make up first and any residues are easily washed off after using my usual cleanser. 

3. Baking soda detoxing shampoo (source)
This is a new one for me but apparently baking soda works really well at removing build up and detoxing the hair. All you need to do is mix a teaspoon of the powder in with your usual shampoo. A cheap and easy alternative to the much loved Bumble & Bumble Sunday shampoo and a great one to try if like myself you use a lot of dry shampoo or styling products in your hair. 

Have you tried any of these recipes before? What are your favourite DIY beauty creations? 

Disclosure - Ingredients provided for blog post

Bare Minerals make up brushes

As I've gotten more into make up I've really come to appreciate the power of a good brush, especially when it comes to base products such as foundation and powder. Bare Minerals have recently expanded their collection and for the last few weeks I've been putting a selection of their new face and eyebrow brushes to the test:

Bare Minerals, Tools and accessories, Make up brushes, Contouring, Powder, Blusher, Eyebrows, Foundation, Review

Retailing at around £15-25 each the brushes aren't cheap, but with their sleek black handles and soft fibre bristles they remind me rather of NARS and are amongst some of the nicest in my collection. The brushes are made with a mix of natural and synthetic fibres (depending on the brush) but despite this I've not had any problems with shedding and they seem to hold their shape well after washing.

From left to right:
Supreme finisher - a fluffy rounded brush designed for a sheer application of products. I tend to use this as a last step sweeping on my face powder or to soften any harsh lines. 

Complexion perfection - this is the least used of the 5 as I prefer a buffing brush instead. Designed for liquid foundations and concealers it gives a medium to full coverage but I find that it takes a little longer to blend in and I tend to save this for special occasions only.

Brow master - if you like to fill in your brows then this is a must have. The angled brush picks up just the right amount of colour and allows for a precise application. I like that it comes with a little spoolie too as I always like to brush through at the end getting rid of any extra pigment and allowing for a more natural look.

Precision face - a flat top kabuki that makes foundation application a complete dream. The bristles are so soft and I can do my entire face in less than a minute. It gives a really flawless finish and is one of my favourites from the entire collection. 

Seamless shape and finisher - if you only buy one brush then let it be this one, a domed fluffy brush which makes contouring and sculpting so easy. Compared to a traditional angled brush it gives a softer finish and can double up as a blusher or powder brush too. A great one to own if you're new to contouring or if you are looking to build up your brush collection. 
Have you tried any of the new Bare Minerals brushes? What are your favourites for a flawless complexion? 

Two new Soap and Glory favourites

For someone who loves make up it's taken me a while to get into primers. It never seemed to add anything but after discovering a good one last year I've started to incorporate them into my daily routine and now thanks to Soap and Glory I can add One heck of a blot primer to my list of favourites:
Designed to control shine for 12 hours, it also helps to smooth over pores, prolong the wear of make up, even out the skintone and generally leave you with a more glowing complexion. I find a pea sized blob the perfect amount for my skin and although like all primers the effect is subtle, my skin does feel smoother and make up seems to last longer too. What I really like though is that it helps to control shine without being at all drying. I've spoken many a time about how my skin tends to get dehydrated and sensitive this time of year but I've not had any problems with One heck of a blot and it really does help to balance out my shiny T-zone during the day. 

Soap and Glory have also recently launched a new night cream in the form of Speed plump overnight miracle moisture mousse. Designed for tired, dry skin it really couldn't have arrived at a better time. Unlike traditional night creams which tend to be on the heavier side, this is whipped up into a light airy mousse. It's still packed with hydrating ingredients though and come morning my skin always looks plumped up and well rested. I've got one particularly annoying patch of dry skin which only the most nourishing oils seems to help but otherwise this is a good overnight moisturiser and if you also struggle with dry skin but hate the feeling of anything heavy then this is well worth a try.

Soap and Glory One heck of a blot primer and Speed plump moisturiser, both available instores and online at Boots.com
Have you tried either of these 2 products? What are your current skincare and make up favourites?

The weekend - Cocktails, Lobster and Chanel Mademoiselle Prive

After a particularly stressful week we decided that a day to ourselves on Sunday was just what we needed to relax and unwind. The plan was originally to get lunch in Soho before going for a wander in central London however with it being the last day of the Chanel Mademoiselle Prive exhibition we decided to go for a short walk across Hyde Park, followed by Burger and Lobster in Knightsbridge instead:

 Burger and lobster cocktails

 Burger and lobster Knightsbridge

I'm not sure if I mentioned it on here before but Burger and Lobster is one of my favourite restaurants. They only have 3 items on the menu and I always go for a whole lobster steamed then lightly grilled, served with a herby butter dip, golden crispy fries and side salad. Despite the huge expansion across London you can still expect to wait around an hour for a table but trust me it's worth it for the delicious lobster. They do a great selection of cocktails too and both our choices were fruity, refreshing and light, the perfect accompaniment to the meaty white shellfish. On a little side note, whilst the food was still good in Knightsbridge, for the best tasting lobster I'd suggest visiting Soho or Mayfair instead.

 Chanel Mademoiselle Prive exhibition

Mademoiselle Prive - the origins of Chanel

Lunch done, it was a short walk down Sloane Street to the Mademoiselle Prive exhibition. I'd been expecting a traditional exhibition but actually it was more of a digital experience with each room having different focus on the history of Chanel. Unfortunately the exhibition has now finished but hopefully these pictures will give you an idea of what it was like if you didn't get the chance to visit. 

 Mademoiselle Prive - The fragrance room 

 Mademoiselle Prive - Karl Lagerfield's casino themed AW haute couture show

 Mademoiselle Prive - Feature film showing a fictional meeting 
between the ghost of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfield

 Mademoiselle Prive - shadow show

I think my favourites were the scented perfume room with the huge vats of fragrance and also the introductory room which gave a fascinating insight into the start of the Chanel empire. It was cool that they had a downloadable app and in various rooms there were behind the scenes footage as well a unique virtual 360 tour of the Coco Chanel apartment. 

Did you get a chance to visit the Chanel Mademoiselle Prive exhibition? How was your weekend?

Neom Christmas Wish home collection

I am nothing if not predictable and as soon as Autumn arrives you'll find me snuggled up at home, drinking hot chocolate and lighting all the candles. Neom have recently brought out their limited edition Christmas scents and although it may be a little early when it came to choosing a new candle I couldn't resist trying their new Christmas Wish home collection:

Neom, Neom Christmas wish, Neom christmas wish home collection, Scented candle, Home mist
Neom Christmas Wish home collection 

First of all lets just take a moment to appreciate the gold polka dot design. I've got a real thing for gold at the moment and the Neom Christmas Wish candle couldn't look more beautiful or stylish sat on my desk. Glass tumblers are always so useful for storing odds and ends and with such a lovely design I'll definitely be reusing this once I've finished with the candle. 

I've always said that Neom do the best home fragrances and Christmas Wish doesn't disappoint. With a blend of mandarin, cinnamon and tonka bean it smells so welcoming and festive that it's hard not to unwind and relax. I usually light mine for an hour or two in the evenings although I have to say that even unlit the scent throw is amazing. All Neom candles are made with 100% natural wax too so there's no need to worry about black soot marks or any potential harmful pollutants. 

The gift set also comes with a matching home mist which is great for subtly scenting a room and makes for a nice alternative when I don't want to have an open flame burning. At £44.95 Neom Christmas Wish home collection is one of the more luxurious gift sets but their fragrances are always a bit more special and thinking ahead if you are starting to plan your Christmas shopping then this would make for a lovely present or even as a little cheeky treat to yourself.
Have you started thinking of Christmas yet? What's your favourite Neom home fragrance?

October empties

I know I say this every month but this year is going by far too quickly! Summer well and truly ended in October and as a result rooftop bars and cocktails have been swapped for cosy nights in and steaming mugs of hot chocolate. I think the weather change is somewhat reflected in my empties too, with 5 moisturisers and a nourishing cleansing balm this month:

Empties, October, Emma Hardie moringa cleansing balm, Clinique superdefense eye cream, Aromatherapy associates enrich body butter
 October empties

Starting with a non beauty empty first - I really liked the fresh floral scent of L'artisan L'ete reed diffuser but over time I found the scent throw to be not as good. Neom still remains my favourite brand for home fragrance and I'm hoping to stock up on a couple of their gift sets this Christmas. 

As always there's a dry shampoo too and Inecto pure coconut dry shampoo did a good job of refreshing my hair in between washes with a nice tropical scent. Emma Hardie moringa cleansing balm remains a firm favourite and I love the relaxing blend of essential oils. The balm is so luxurious and combined with a facial massage it turns make up removal into a real treat. 

Of the moisturisers I didn't get on with Olay total effects as the SPF made my skin break out. Filorga skin absolute day was great for summer but come autumn I found that it wasn't moisturising enough and I've since switched to Olay regenerist which I much prefer. Clinique super defense eye cream was a real favourite though and I loved how it was rich and creamy yet and the same time still light and quick absorbing. A real daily essential and one that I'll no doubt be repurchasing again. 

Other empties include the Armomatherapy Associates enrich body butter which was thick and nourishing and had the most exotic and sensual blend of jasmine, patchouli and tonka bean. FC5 ultra hydrating hand creme was nice enough and did a good job of keeping my hands soft and moisturised but I wasn't so keen on the powdery scent and I've since replaced it with a more fruity hand cream which I love. 

How did you get on this month? What were your favourites and dislikes?

Top tips for a more flawless complexion

For the last 2 years I've struggled with my skin - a combination of factors meant that it looked far from best and I was constantly battling dry/dehydrated patches and spots. Recently though I've made a couple of skincare/lifestyle changes and the other day it hit me just how much more balanced and clear my skin has become. So today I thought I'd share my top tips for achieving a more flawless complexion: 

Top tips for a more flawless complexion, Skincare, Tips, Flawless complexion, Hydraluron, Maxfactor, Olay, Emma Hardie, Clean and clear, Water, Exercise, Beauty, Lifestyle,
Top tips for a more flawless complexion - my current skincare routine

1. A good skincare regime
It's taken me a while to achieve this but my top tip would be to sit down, have a good look at your skin and work out what the issues are. For me it was very much dehydration and constant spots. From there I went through my skincare regime, figured out which products were working and what new additions I needed. I still love Emma Hardie amazing face moringa cleansing balm but I've reintroduced Hydraluron back into my skincare routine (review here) and added in a new moisturiser which has made all the difference. Olay 3 point age-defying cream is rich and nourishing without being too heavy or greasy and feels instantly soothing on the skin. It gently exfoliates to renew the skin and I like that it targets the first signs of aging, something which is definitely high on my list of priorities now that I'm in my late twenties. I still get the odd spot from time to time but it's far less frequent now and they don't seem to last nearly as long. A good spot gel always helps though and Clean and Clear does just the trick. 

2 Exercise
Whilst the skincare routine would have no doubt helped, I'm sure that exercise played a big part in helping my skin to look clearer. At the moment I'm doing 30 day shred every 2-3 days with some sit ups and push ups in between. I want to get back into running regularly and I'm hoping to alternate my home workouts with some swimming and exercise classes too. 

3. Staying hydrated 
Water not only flushes out the toxins, it also helps to plump up cells and helps you to stay more mentally alert. I try to aim for 6-8 glasses a day and I find that having a big bottle on my desk really helps as its there to hand, and I'm far more likely to drink if I'm not constantly having to get up to refill my glass. 

4. Make up
Finally don't underestimate the power of makeup. Now I'm not saying you should cover up spots etc with a heavy base but for days when you want to look more flawless a good foundation can make all the difference, evening out the skin and blurring over minor imperfections. I really liked Maxfactor miracle match foundation as it offers a buildable light to medium coverage, has nourishing ingredients and doesn't cling to any dry patches. I'd say it has a semi-matte finish and I find that it lasts well throughout the day with needing any touch ups. 

Now I'm by no means an expert but I hope these tips will help and if you have any suggestions or product recommendations then please do let me know on the comments below. 

Do you also struggle with your skin? What are your top tips for a more flawless complexion? 

Overnight stay at Careys Manor Hotel and SenSpa, New Forest

Spa trips are one of life's little indulgences and for a relaxing break there's nothing better than overnight stay followed by a long treatment. Living in London I'm spoilt for choice with hotels and spas but sometimes it's nice to get away from it all and Careys Manor Hotel and SenSpa in the New Forest was just what I needed: 
It always surprises me how close other places are and Careys Manor Hotel and SenSpa was less than 2 hours away from London Waterloo. With it's wooden decor, long corridors and open fires it reminded me rather of an old stately home and surrounded by large areas of greenery and trees it felt like a world away from the hustle and bustle of London. 

As I've gotten older I've really come appreciate a nice hotel room and I'm pleased to say Careys Manor didn't disappoint. The giant double bed couldn't have been comfier, there's a sofa to relax on and let's just take a moment to appreciate that view! There's even hot chocolate and biscuits hidden away in a draw should you want a little treat. 

Our treatments weren't till the next day so after a quick tour we made our way to the onsite SenSpa for some serious relaxation. I'm a keen swimmer so was really pleased to see a decent length pool and half an hour of gentle exercise really helped me to unwind. There's a whole host of saunas and steam rooms to choose from but my favourite has to be hydrotherapy pool. Powerful jets of bubbles blast around you as you sit and relax and afterwards I was even brave enough to take advantage of the cold experience shower and ice treatment. 

The food was another highlight and there are two restaurants to choose from - Cambium which offers locally sourced fine dining and Zen Gardens which offers Thai. I loved that there was an authentic Thai restaurant on site and with dishes such as beef stirfry, duck curry and pad thai it was a real highlight and something that made Careys Manor/Senspa stand out against all the other spas I've been too. 

Breakfast was a buffet of hot and cold dishes and with such a huge selection of items there really was something for everyone. They even had Tabasco for us hot sauce lovers so a big thumbs up from me! 

Now onto the treatment, I opted for the Sen fusion signature massage which was just 90 minutes of pure bliss. SenSpa treatments are based on traditional Thai techniques and their staff here undergo regular training, which you can tell in quality of the treatment. I asked for a firm massage and after a quick chat my therapist really got to work getting rid of all the knots and tensions in my shoulder. This was then followed by an all over body and head massage which was so relaxing that had it not involved several position changes I would have definitely fallen asleep.

Although I only stayed for one night it's safe to say that after the treatment I left feeling revived and far more relaxed. For me there are two things that made Careys Manor/SenSpa stand out - the quality of the treatment and the fact that you can get Thai food on site. I've since incorporated a few of their products into my daily routine but being so close to London I'll no doubt be back for another stay and if you're looking for a relaxing UK break then I would definitely recommend.

Have you ever been to Careys Manor/Senspa? Where are your favourite places to go for a relaxing break?
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