The Best in Beauty Deals

If you're anything like me, you'll hate the mad mobs, claustrophobic crowds and hectic hysteria that is most shops this time of year. If you get in now, you can do the ordering online. Bye bye madness, long queues and aggravated shop assistants, hello warm feet, warm beverage and time with your loved ones on your days off!

Below are my top beauty discount websites and the great deals they've got going on:

FEEL UNIQUE - a classic. Feel Unique currently have a £10 discount when you spend £50 or more on Fragrance with code SCENT50. Plus, Christmas delivery guaranteed for the UK if ordered by the 18th of December.

SALON SKINCARE SALE - If you're lucky you'll find some of your favourites in the sale going on over at Salon Skincare!

LOOK FANTASTIC - You can currently save 15% if you buy 2 products over at Look Fantastic. Use code TWINKLE15. They also have 25% off 'must have' gift sets for Christmas.

HQ HAIR - Currently have 10% off on selected items with code PARTY10, as well as 20% off Kerastase, 50% off selected electricals and 25% off on electricals

BURT'S BEES - for the natural beauty babe, Burt's Bees currently have some amazing 'grab bag' deals that I personally would LOVE for Christmas!

L'OCCITANE - with limited free shipping and discounts on some incredible gift sets, this site is not to be missed!

Please share any other great deals you've found! I hope this spares some of you the aggravation of fighting an old lady over the last gift set in store!

Madara Deco Face Sun Flower Tinting Fluid

This stuff is really lovely. I have normal/dehydrated skin and tend to gravitate towards very glowy products for my base, but this velvet/matte base feels very light on the skin, doesn't settle into fine lines and has a shimmer to it that does make the skin appear to glow. It offers no more than 10% coverage, so you will have to use a concealer on any blemishes/dark circles/redness, but it does offer an 'I've just come back from a refreshing holiday in the Mediterranean' type of golden glow.

Madara offers natural beauty products for the health-conscious. This is the first I've tried from them and so far, so good. The pros are that the ingredients are great and the product smells exactly like celery (if that floats your boat!). The packaging is very chic for such an 'eco' brand and the pump dispenser is very handy and hygienic. The cons are that the container is opaque so you have no way of knowing when you're running low and also it doesn't look particularly recyclable at first glance. Lots of plastic. Also, at £23, it certainly isn't the cheapest option out there.

On good skin days, this is perfect, but if you do need more coverage, I would say perhaps give this a miss. For me, it's the perfect thing to slap on for the weekend. I know I'm getting good ingredients onto my skin, whilst still offering a teeny bit of som'n som'n. You can find this over at Feel Unique if you're curious.

Let me know if you'd recommend anything else from the brand. OR any similar products?

A Fairytale Escape

This week I had the absolute pleasure of staying at the exquisite Jack Sparrow House in St. Keverne, Cornwall for a couple days. It was a getaway I had been looking forward to for a while, mostly because the reason behind the trip was to celebrate the boyfriend's birthday, but it really exceeded any expectations I had by a million times over. Located on the Northeastern part of the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, this little house is a beautiful creation by the very talented Jonathan Melville-Smith of Outlandish Holidays.

With camping a regular venture and a hotel room not really the kind of place I was after for this adventure, I began looking into unique places to stay in. Jonathan's website came up on Google and I am so, so glad I had a quick peruse. I saw a few shots of the Jack Sparrow House and fell in love.

If you're after a quiet, cosy and romantic spot where you've got cooking and bathroom facilities, beautiful coastal views and an array of stunning beaches nearby - this is the place for you. It's a small cottage with a downstairs kitchenette and seating area, toilet and a ladder up to a cosy double bed. The best bot was the amazing shower in a converted horse box!

Exceptional love and care has been given to every detail in this home and you can feel the presence of so many happy people who have stayed there before you. A nice touch is the little 'memories' book on the table when you walk in. I really enjoyed reading about everyone's experiences there over the years. i left one of my own.

See my pictures below and I'm sure you'll understand what I mean. If you're looking to surprise a special someone or get away for a couple days of much needed R&R, I cannot recommend this place enough!


Origins GinZing

Ohhhhh it's a good range; in fact one of my favourites from Origins. I've used the GinZing Eye Cream for years, as well as the mascara since it was released 2 years ago. I had just run out of my day cream and so I felt the time had come to try the moisturiser. What really shoved me into a concrete decision was a great little Extra-Zing EnergiZing Kit that I spotted while perusing the website. For the price of the moisturiser alone (£23), you get to also try a 5ml pot of the GinZing Eye cream and a 'Try Me' sized version of the mascara. BARG!
If you've not tried the mascara, you can check out my review here. The eye cream is fantastic; it has a real luminosity to it which does a fantastic job at diffusing the light under the eyes. It doesn't cover dark circles per se, but it does make them appear less dark. It's a definite must for me! It has caffeine included, as well as Panax Ginseng to help reduce puffiness and brighten up that delicate area. The full-size version of this is a 15ml pot, but I personally find 5ml lasts me over 6 months... in fact probably closer to a year! You only need a little, after all.

Now onto the latest bad boy - the GinZing Energy-boosting moisturizer. This is a glorious 50ml pot of citrusy wonder! It's a very light gel-cream texture, similar to the Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Illuminating Moisturizer or the Make a Difference Plus Rejuvenating Treatment, if you've tried either of those. I wouldn't say it was rich enough for dry skin, or even normal skin that suffers from quite a bit of dehydration in the winter months, but for oily-normal skin (in the summer/warmer climates), this is perfect! It packs quite a punch for being so light-weight, yet absorbs quickly, brightens the skin, smells lovely and light and offers a great base under make-up. Again, Ginseng and coffee beans do their magic and brighten up a dull complexion.

At the starting price of the Origins Moisturiser range, this is aimed at the younger market. If you don't need anything radical, but a bit of luminosity and want to look after your skin, you can't go wrong with this kit. Also available from Boots. It would make a great gift too!

Looking for a good eye SPF?

I've got you covered! I was thinking pretty recently about the importance of protecting the eye area when you're whipping out your daily sunscreen and it occurred to me that aside from my sunglasses, I didn't have anything to really do the job! I don't particularly want to put my face SPF's around my eye in case of stinging/greasiness/puffiness, but I want SOMETHING to protect me if I don't want my sunglasses on. In walks an absolute babe of a solution:

At about £2.50 from Boots (and currently on offer for 2 for £4) you cannot turn away from this beaut. If you don't have any particular issues with your eye area and just want daily protection, this is a must. It isn't particularly hydrating and I can't see it doing a whole lot if you're looking for visible changes or miracles, but it will protect you from UV rays...and to me that's the best thing you could do to for any aging qualms! Perfect for young skin, easy on the wallet and easily accessible. This is one of my best finds for a long time.

Anyone got any other eye creams with an SPF that they adore? I'd love to know!

Carnica Bees Honey & Beeswax Lip balm

Carnica Bees is a gorgeous little British cosmetic company specialising in natural products based on the glorious substances that bees produce - beeswax and honey!

If there's one thing I've learned in my cosmetic quest over the years, it is that it is always better to keep things simple. The product in question today is exactly that and I'm wonderfully pleased with this little gem - now an staple resident in my handbag.

Ingredients: Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil, Beeswax, Honey.

Can you get anymore natural?

It is lovely and hydrating without being glossy, fragrance free and a great base under makeup too. Can't get enough! And at £3.25 it is a total bargain. Go go go!

The Best Base.

Now, the title to this post makes some serious claims, but I'd hold true to that! The combo in question is the L'oreal Lumi Magique Highlighting Base Primer and the True Match Foundation.
Sweet Moses! How have I only just discovered these?! I think there's a common misconception that high street/drugstore foundations just never compare to higher end, but when a brand like L'Oreal is centre stage, you can't help ponder that if these products are made in the same place as Giorgio Armani, Lancome, YSL... there's GOT to be formulation cross-over!

This Lumi Magique base is stunning! And it has replaced MAC's Strobe Cream that I was using before. I dot onto the high points of my face before applying foundation and the after effect is a beautiful, ethereal glow. You only get about 20ml and it retails for about £9.99, but the quality is so fantastic that I think it well worth it!

Onto the real star: L'Oreal True Match Foundation. My, oh my. This is just a dream to work with! I mix N4 Beige and W3 Golden Beige to achieve my perfect match, and that's my only fault with the colour range - though large none of the individual colours match me . It is a very liquid-y formula, and glides over the skin beautifully. I have quite dry skin and although this isn't the usual super-dewy type of formula I normally go for, I am really enjoying the finished effect. The product doesn't cling to any dry patches, doesn't oxidise on me and wears better as the day goes on and some of my natural oils are released onto the skin.

I have heard this compared to the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and whilst I don't own that one, I must say that Amelia makes a pretty good arguement for it!

Boots have buy one get one half price at the moment on L'Oreal, so I'd recommend picking up this little duo!

Chic Cream Cheeks

What a gorgeous Sunday morning here in Bristol! It is absolutely freezing, but the sun is shining and there's a nice hustle and bustle in the city.

On days like today, I automatically reach for cream blushes. They just add a delectable dewiness to the skin that powder almost certainly can't achieve. My top three of the moment are right beauties, if I do say so myself and I thought I'd share them with you today...
 (Left to right in above, and bottom to top in below: Maxfactor Soft Pink, Illamasqua Rude and Illamasqua Dixie)
I think out of the three, the Maxfactor little pot has the best texture. It is butter-soft without being at all tacky and the colour suits every skin tone. As the name suggests, it is a neutral soft pink that does a fantastic job at imitating a natural flush. At £6.99, you can't really go wrong either!

The Illamasqua shades are brighter and bolder, but can be worn very sheer if desired. Rude I would describe as a 1950's apricot/coral, which I envision would look STUNNING on a fair blonde and Dixie is similar, but with a red tone to it that I think would look stunning on most people.

What are your favourite cream blushes of the moment?

Lip Combo of the Mo.

This has been my go to if I want to turn the pout up a notch from my usual lip balm offering. And boy, is it a good'un!

Illamasqua Medium Pencil in Torment and Korres Lip Butter in Quince. 100% Stamp of approval! I don't think this pencil is available anymore, but you MUST try the Illamasqua lip pencils for their amazing quality. Head over to the site - they've got a wicked sale on!

The Beauty Sample: Friend, not foe.

As a gal who's worked on a counter and thus amongst the beauty department, I can safely say that the majority of counter staff I know detest walk-up customers who outright request a sample. They assume these customers have no interest in buying the product, otherwise would be handing over the cash instead and they feel this deep, troubling need to cling onto their little pots and tubes as if the Apocalypse may come at any given moment and God forbid they'll be left without their tiny tubs of lotions and potions (that they, themselves, don't even use anyway!). It's a funny thing is the beauty department...

ANYWAY, moving on, I'm here to say that if you're curious about a particular high-end product and want to try before you buy, never feel bad about asking for a sample. To the lady or gentleman on a counter, you are basically a sum of money towards a sales target (of course, many of the ladies and gents I've worked with are lovely and really enjoy spending time with clients and helping them with their cosmetic concerns!) My point is, the counter person would always, of course, prefer that you spent the money then and there. However, if you are genuinely interested in the product, willing to listen to some advice on whether that is actually the best type/version for you, then go give it a try before you buy without feeling any shame or guilt! After all, who wants to shell out £30 on a foundation for it only to end up being crap. Not me.

The above is a sample of Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup SPF15 in shade 04 Neutral. I don't even suffer from redness, but this stuff is BEAUTIFUL and I bought it immediately. It is the perfect neutral tone that doesn't pull at all yellow or pink - heavenly. Moral of the story here? Don't be shy, try before you buy!

The Five Product Face

Like most people, I go through phases with my make-up. What can I say? I'm only human. It can be a full blown cat eye and red lip one day to a simple five minute 'slaplication' before I dash out the door the next. That's what this post is dedicated to today, my five minute, five product face.
First up, it's my trusty Origins Vitazing SPF 15. I've honestly lost count of how many of these babies I've squeezed my way through over the past 5 years or so. It is incredible stuff. Not a foundation, but totally evens out any redness whilst also making you look like you've just come back from a spa retreat somewhere fabulous in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A true Godsend. To conceal any blemishes or slap on top of my dark circles, I always turn to my Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer. Generally I use a seperate concealer for my undereyes/blemishes, but we're talking bare essentials here, so I've widdled it down to this great all-rounder. With a whopping 10ml in the tube, it'd be a great thing to take when travelling to mix with moisturiser for a base too! Hey, what's better than a foundation and concealer in the same tube?! 

Following the, sun-kissed theme, I am addicted to Daniel Sandler's Watercolour Creme Bronzer in Fiji to crank up the colour and faux-glow. I blend this with my finger onto cheek bones, bridge of my nose and lightly on my brow bone. The red-bronze colour immitates a natural tan and if I could use one word to describe the way it makes you look, it'd be healthy. I swipe a nice dollop of Miss Sporty Just Clear Mascara through my brows to make sure they behave themselves and finish off with the No7 Extreme Length Extend Mascara. No faffing, no brushes, no worries.


Rewind & Refresh

Over the past year or so, I've been suffering more breakouts than usual, and my skin has lost a bit of its glow. I've got the right products to reduce said breakouts and reignite said glow down to a tee, but that's not the point. Prevention is key, right? I don't want to keep having to combat issues, but rather do things to keep my skin clear and healthy before having to bring out the big guns.

I've been having a good think about it and what could be causing it. Of course stress plays a part, but everyone has periods of stress throughout their lives and I recognize those occasional pesky spots around my chin as being a result of that. Then there are hormones which again cause breakouts around the mouth, chin and jawline and really are a result of stress again. So that's fine - those I can link cause with effect. However, it's not those breakouts that I'm getting... I'm getting big, cystic ones on my cheeks. Big ones that hurt and linger and scar. I've never had those kind of spots before in my life!

So instead of whining about it, I'm on a mission over the next couple months to pinpoint the cause and eradicate the trigger. I'm going straight to diet of course. I've only recently been drinking dairy on the regular and so I'm inclined to think that could be the cause. But there's also sugar. Whether it's in the plethora of cocktails I've been sipping on nights out (and subsequent lack of sleep) or the growing number of crappy chocolate bars and sweets that I've been consuming over recent months.

I think I'm in need of a lifestyle overhaul and I'm really quite excited about it! One thing at a time of course, so for January it is a month without alcohol. Let's see what happens.