Herbal Essences clearly naked haircare review

Browsing the aisles of Boots there'll always be certain brands which bring back nostalgic memories of being a teenager. For me one of those brands is Herbal Essences and I must have gone through countless bottles of their shampoos and conditioners back in the day. In recent years I've moved onto more natural/high end brands however their new Clearly Naked collection has got me hooked all over again and if you're looking to try hair care free from parabens, silicone and colorants then this new range is well worth a look:

The clearly naked conditioner is nice enough (fruity smelling, nourishing and light weight) but it's the two shampoos which are the star of the show for me. One of the reasons I love Herbal Essences is because their all products smell so good and this new range doesn't disappoint. The combination of grapefruit and mint is subtle but still refreshing and sweet and linger lightly in my hair after washing.

When I first saw the Herbal Essences clearly naked range I assumed that it would be sulphate free, turns out that's not the case but despite this it still feels gentle and non irritating on my scalp, even with regular almost daily use. The volume shampoo foams up easily (one of my biggest complaints about SLS free shampoo), feels clarifying and leaves my hair soft and clean without being stripped or weighed down. At £2.35 a bottle I think this is a good budget buy if you're looking for something a little more gentle on the scalp and as it's so easily available on the high street I can see myself picking up another bottle soon, especially as the boyfriend seems to enjoy using it too!

Another one of my daily essentials is dry shampoo and I have to say I'm impressed with Herbal Essences clearly naked dry shampoo. As with most budget dry shampoos there's a slight chalky after feel but it does a good job at soaking up any grease and out of all the dry shampoos I've tried this one gives the most volume. Plus it smells really fresh and I like that it comes as clear spray so there's no white cast and you don't have to spend ages rubbing it into the hair.

Herbal Essences clearly naked, from £2.35, available in store and online at Boots.com

Have you tried the new Herbal Essences clearly naked range? What are your hair care favourites?

Outfit: Dinner date with friends

Is it just me or do weekends always go by far too quickly? What with blogging and a full time job there never seems to be enough time during the week I often find myself trying to cram everything into just 2 days! Usually on the Saturday I'll arrange a date night or meet up with friends and as I had a stand in photographer this weekend I thought I'd share my outfit of the night:

Deep down I'm a bit of a granny at heart and especially during winter you'll find that all my outfits centre around 2 words - comfort and warmth. My Topshop jeans are probably the most worn item of all time and to make it more dinner appropriate I've teamed it with a nautical striped jumper and black T-bars, which are surprisingly easy to walk in despite the heel.

Of course no outfit would be complete without some accessories and at the moment I'm loving this floral New Look necklace as well as my sparkly rose gold Fossil watch. Finally a spritz of Chanel perfume, my Primark muted pink clutch and I'm good to go! Although totally intentional I'm also loving the combination of pink and navy as it offers just the right amount of girlyness whilst still being semi-smart and sophisticated.

Anyone else always finding themselves short on time? Did you get up to anything nice this weekend?

JewelCandle and festive giveaway winners

A big thank you to everyone who entered my Jewel candle and festive giveaways. It's always nice to give something back and I loved reading all your comments. So without further ado, here are the winners:

Giveaway winners

Girls you should have an email in your inbox very soon. If you could please let me know your address I'll arrange for the prizes to be sent out asap.

Thanks again to everyone for entering and keep an eye out for future giveaways if you didn't manage to win this time!

Winter skincare additions

After the festive season my skin was in need of some care and attention and having recently finished a couple of daily staples, I've introduced 3 new products into my routine. Round about now the weather starts to get really cold, so in preparation I've been trying out 2 nourishing cleansers and as well as a toner/exfoliator to help add some radiance:

Winter skincare - Tru, S5 and Alpha H

What I like about Tru ultimate two-way deep cleanse is that although it's a cream formula, it's got a high concentration of oils so still feels nourishing on the skin. There's castor oil which is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, as well as coconut oil and vitamin E to provide long lasting moisture and antioxidant protection. I find 2 pumps is enough cleanse all over and because of the oils, there's still quite a lot of slip on the skin thus allowing me to really massage it in and help dissolve any make up. It rinses away easily with water and although it's not as rich as my usual balm cleanser it still leaves my skin feeling comfortable and hydrated.

For heavy make up days I wanted another balm cleanser so have been giving S5 nourish cleanser a try. With a rich oily texture it makes light work of make up removal, however I find the scent quite strong and although designed for use around the eye area it does sting a little so I'd recommend using a separate eye make up remover first. I like that it's an emulsifying formula though and has extracts of rosehip and argan oil to help put some moisture back into my dry winter skin. I probably won't repurchase this again as I prefer the Emma Hardie cleansing balm but it's a good everyday cleanser and I'll enjoy using the rest of this bottle.

My use of toner is sporadic at best, but during the winter I always try and make an effort as I really do notice the difference. Usually my biggest complaint is dehydration but this year possibly because of a lack of sleep, I've been struggling with radiance more. Which is where Alpha H instant facial comes in. It's an exfoliating toner which uses a blend of botanicals to gently reinvigorate the complexion, refine pores, soften winkles and mattify the t-zone to leave skin looking smoother and more radiant. As the results are similar to that of microdermabrasion it tingles a little on application, however afterwards I find that serums and moisturisers absorb so much better. My skin always looks best after exfoliating but with this I get the results everyday and used in combination with a good night cream, my skin has never looked brighter.

Have you tried any of these 3 products? What are you winter skincare staples? 

A recent homeware haul

Having lived in the same flat for several years (since I was a student in fact), it was in need of an overhaul and one of my aims for 2015 was to focus on interior design and make it into more of a home. I'm not sure whether it's because of Instagram and Pinterest or whether I'm just getting older but recently I've developed a serious obsession with homeware and can spend hours browsing online and in store. Having had a declutter over the last few weeks, I figured it was time I treated myself to some nice new bits and bobs:

Homeware haul

Starting with this beautiful silver photo frame from House of Fraser. Although I take thousands of photos every year more often than not they become a forgotten memory on my hard drive. This year I'm going to make more of an effort to have them on display around the flat and I like that this has multiple slots, thus allowing for a collage effect. Plus the textured silver effect looks really cool and fits in well with the rest of my decor.

A little while ago Flamingo gifts got in touch and kindly offered to let me pick a few items from their website. They seem to have everything from the cute to quirky, but what caught my eye was this wooden chalkboard and silver jewellery tree. The chalkboard has a certain charm with it's shabby chic design and the little hearts and it's now sitting proudly in my kitchen where I regularly scribble little reminders and shopping lists for myself. The silver tree has also come in really handy as my jewellery doll was getting rather crowded. The plate at the bottom is particularly useful and it now houses my watch as well as most worn earrings and rings.

Something else I've become obsessed with is drinking tea so naturally I needed some new mugs. The boyfriend treated me to this Starbucks mug as part of my Christmas present and it couldn't be more perfect. As a Londoner I love that it's got the distinctive skyline and it's enough to hold even the biggest cup of tea. As far as I can tell they're a worldwide release and I'm thinking of starting a mini collection next time I go travelling. I also liked the look of this Royal Albert floral tea cup - it was just too pretty to resist although because of the smaller size I'll probably end up using it as decoration and storage for my blogging desk.

Anyone else finding themselves becoming more obsessed with homeware? Where are your favourite places to shop?

The Library of Fragrance perfume review

It's always exciting to see new brands launching in the UK, especially if its one that I've previously wanted to try anyway. Back in 2013 whilst on holiday in New York I came across Demeter fragrance, a brand which had over 300 scents, all based on single notes and subtle blends. Unfortunately at the time there were no testers available and as the brand wasn't available in the UK I thought nothing more of it. Fast forward to 2015 and they've now launched as Library of fragrance here in the UK:

The range is absolutely huge and has everything from traditional scents such as peony and jasmine to more unique offerings such as fireplace and thunderstorm. Each scent can be worn alone or blended together to create your own totally unique perfume. Currently there are 101 scents available in the UK and although the choice was rather overwhelming at first there were 3 that immediately jumped out at me.

Of the 3 my favourite has to be Fireplace, an intriguing warm and spicy fragrance which I just can't stop smelling. It's the darkest of the 3 and to my nose has blends of leather and wood, with just a hint of sweetness to bring it all together. It works well as an evening fragrance but during the day I also like to layer it with peony or one of my other spring/summer perfumes for something a bit more fruity/floral.

Clean skin on the other hand is much more subtle, with notes of orange, lemon, rose, bergamot, peach and vanilla. It really does remind me of that feeling you get having just stepped out of the shower and it's the perfect daytime scent for work. Finally there's peony which I must admit I choose purely for the name. Normally I'm not the biggest fan of pure florals but this is surprisingly light and goes rather well with both Fireplace and Clean skin.

As the scents are all colognes they're not the most long lasting however each spray is a nice little pick me up and the small bottles perfect for chucking into my handbag. Currently 28 of their most popular scents are available in Boots and I can see myself going along for another sniffing session soon. I'm intrugued to see what Moonbeam and Snow smell like and I'm tempted to pick up Vanilla ice cream too!
Have you tried any of the Library of Fragrance perfumes? What's your current favourite perfume? 

December favourites

As its been a while since my last beauty post I thought it would be nice to look back at some December favourites before launching into my 2015 reviews and new product launches. With the weather taking a turn for the worse and the festive season in full swing my December favourites focused mostly on winter skincare essentials and party make up:

 December favourites

December favourites - skincare

Starting with Elemis pro-collagen marine cream which was my go to morning moisturiser. It's rich but not greasy and nourishing without being too heavy for my dry/combination skin. Normally by December my skin becomes dry and sensitive but this year used together with Clarins lotus oil my skin feels almost as hydrated and supple as it does during the summer. I like that it contains a whole host of anti-ageing ingredients and because of the thick texture helps to form a barrier against the cold wind and rain. Rather annoyingly I've just run out and need to stock up asap. I may be late onto the bandwagon but safe to say I now fully understand the hype of Elemis pro-collagen marine cream! 

For the morning after I've been loving these Elemis pro-collagen hydra-gel eye masks. We've all been there after a late night and one too many drinks - this helps to soothe the delicate eye area and after 20 minutes my skin is left looking brighter and more refreshed, At £46 a pack (for 6 sachets) these are a luxury treat however the ingredients list is seriously impressive and as an instant tightening, depuffing and hydrating treatment I've yet to try a better alternative. 

Most of my weekends are spent at home/shopping but for the odd festive party I've been using Venus proskin sensitive razor and He-Shi dark foaming mousse for silly smooth bronzed legs. I always find hair removal to be such a pain but thankfully with 5 blades the razor gives a closer shave and therefore longer lasting results. It's also got a lubricating strip and ribbon of moisture which helps to make it less irritating and drying on the legs. He-Shi on the other hand is an old favourite and as long as the skin is prepped properly its the easiest way to achieve a long lasting even tan. You can read my full review here

 December favourites - hair and make up

My love for dry shampoo is well documented on Peonies and lilies, however recently I've been converted to Swell ultimate volume dry shampoo. As it's a non aerosol it took some getting used to and still takes longer to apply but unlike most high street alternatives once rubbed in it's undetectable on the hair and there's no chalky feeling whatsoever. It may look small but the bottle is crammed full of powder and as you don't use much per application I can see this lasting ages.

It wouldn't be Christmas without some glitter and I found myself pairing OPI pink yet lavender with almost every nail colour I've worn during December. Full review and swatches here

Finally for make up I've been loving Bourjois smokey stories eyeshadow palette in Over rose and Rouge edition velvet in Happy nude year. Both are long lasting yet small enough to pop into my handbag - an essential these days as I often find myself going out straight after work. The eyeshadows have a lovely cream powder texture, are easily blendable and come in 4 complimentary shades for a quick and easy smokey eye. I particularly liked the glittery square in the middle - perfect for adding a hint of festive sparkle. To pair with the smokey eye I went for Happy Nude Year, a gorgeous pinky coral which despite being a long lasting matte wasn't at all drying on the lips.

Have you tried any of the products above? What were your December favourites?

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

It's become somewhat of a tradition to reflect on the year gone by and to look forward to the next 365 days. I always feel like I've not achieved much but looking back 2014 was pretty eventful and it's probably been one of my best and busiest years so far:

I started the year commuting to and from Kent and ended the year back in London and with a new job and living with the boyfriend. Definitely my biggest highlight this year. I'm so glad those depressing Sunday evening train journey are now a thing of the past and these days whenever I get a train back to Victoria I instantly get that Friday feeling and feel so happy and lucky to be back in London. 

Another reoccurring theme for 2014 was friendship and I'm grateful to have made new friends as well as reconnecting with old friends whom I'd not seen much the year before. I also feel like I did lot of growing up in 2014 and although I now feel old on a regular basis it's nice to be more confident and happy in myself. 

Now that I'm working full time I've come to appreciate holidays so much more and this year I was able to visit both Paris and Taiwan. Plus I had a lovely 2 weeks off in July when the weather was absolutely beautiful and I had the chance to rediscover and fall in love with London all over again. 

Peonies and lilies turned 5 back in August and it's crazy to think that something I'd started as a student back in 2009 would become such a huge part of my life. Through the blog I've been given some great opportunities and met so many people some of whom I'm now good friends with.

Looking back at the resolutions I made it's safe to say they were a big fail. Between the long commutes and subsequent upheaval of moving 2014 was probably my busiest and unhealthiest year yet (although things did start to improve a little towards the end of the year). For 2015 I want to focus on just 3 resolutions:

1. Be healthier, eat out less, do some exercise and hopefully lose weight along the way.

2. Dedicate an hour or two each weekend to being more organised, staying on top of admin and preparing for the week ahead.

3. Be more adventurous, break out of my comfort zone and make the most of new opportunities in 2015.

In addition I'd also like to travel more, get back into reading, declutter, take more photos and hopefully decide once and for all where my future career lies. I always like to make goals for the blog too and this year I'm going to aim for a regular schedule of 3 posts a week, a new updated design as well as more food and lifestyle content.

How was your 2014? What are you hoping to achieve this year?

Holiday highlights - Taiwan part 2

 Happy new year everyone, hope you've all had a good time last night and 2015 will be your best year yet! I'm hoping to write a reflective post later this week but for now here's part 2 of my Taiwan holiday highlights:

Although most of our time was spent in central Taipei we also had a couple of days to
 explore further afield. My favourite of which was the Tamsui district which had a lovely
 beach side feel thanks to it's pretty waterfront, and I really enjoyed browsing it's many 
food and souvenir stalls. 

There were some beautiful gardens nearby but I just 
had to include this photo for all the selfies!

Back to central Taipei and we were treated to the most amazing afternoon tea. Now I'm
a big fan of the British version but this one trumps it hands down. With a huge spread of
of dishes, from dim sum to roast beef, sandwiches to sushi and everything in between. The 
desserts platter was just as impressive - shown above is only a small selection of what 
was on offer. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip and I'd love to go back again.

No trip to Asia would be complete without a visit to the temple - there was 
actually a public prayer session in this particular one when we visited

Another highlights was visiting Shi-Lin night market. Open till the early hours there's 
just about every stall imaginable - I particularly enjoyed shopping for new jewellery 
and handbags but there were plenty of mobile accessories and gadgets too. There's also an
underground food court which serves an impressive selection of dishes. Taiwan is famous
 for it's street food and there's no better place to try than at a night market. If you ever get the 
chance to go I'd highly recommend the pork buns and Hot star giant crispy fried chicken.
All too soon though it was time to say our goodbyes. After one last Szechuan feast, bubble
 tea and wander around the nearby uni (where we saw no less than 3 wedding shoots) it 
was time to head back to the hotel, pack our bags and get ready for the airport.

Taiwan it's been a great trip, thank you for being so amazing!

Part 1 of my Taiwan holiday highlights here.

 Did you have a good New Year's eve? What were your 2014 holiday highlights?
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