Sunday 30 November 2014

Fall diaries: makeup favourites

It is the last day of autumn and in the final Fall Diaries post I wanted to share what makeup I have been reaching for the past few months. Each season seems to inspire certain colours in me, sometimes they coincide with what the magazines and latest fashions dictate and sometimes they don't. This autumn my favourite makeup selections were built around lilac, teal and orchid with a stronger focus on the eyes.

Lips and Nails.

Rms have done it again, the lip shine in Royal is a gorgeous shade of lilac, which can be worn sheer or very intense. It works both for day and night, and mixes well with different lipsticks (there will be a post on that). Curious is a muted orange that distantly reminds me of pumpkins, a perfect daytime colour to brighten up a rainy day. Gressa skin's radiant lip boost is an incredibly beautiful product, it transforms your lips, it goes on almost like a stain, with such a beautiful colour. The most flattering orchid I have ever come across.

I quiet like to match my lips and nails, Kure Bazaar in September is a perfect partner for Radiant. Intensae in irreverent is a dark morello cherry, that appeals to me during the colder seasons and is a perfect companion to smokey eyes. Priti NYC in tulip tree is a gorgeous teal, it is not as bright as most summery nail varnishes but still has that pop of colour, that livens up gloomy rainy days.


I always liked the smokey eye look and I have really enjoyed experimenting with the intensity of it this autumn. Living nature eye shadows in glacier*(grey with slight shimmer) and slate*(matt black) are absolutely sublime, the texture is so soft and silky, blend really well and stay put all day.

When I was feeling more adventurous or wanted to match my eyeshadow to my nails, Honey Bee gardens party girl palette is what I turned too. While the colours look really bright in the pans, they are actually very wearable. You can easily wear them as a wash of colour or build them up more intensely to line your eyes.

I am still enjoying all of the above choices so much that I am sure I will continue using them through out winter as well, maybe with a few more deep berry editions, I think with the cold weather and the party season up ahead it might be time to give in to the dark side of makeup.

*PR sample all the opinions are honest, my own and based on the experience with the product

Tuesday 25 November 2014

La Bella Figura More than Makeup

La bella Figura happens to be my krypronite, every time they come up with a new product I helplessly reach for my wallet, and then Mr RF has to wrestle it away from me. Hey the products are fabulous but they do come with a price tag that my pocket can't always handle, so it is nice to have someone who can be the voice of reason. So instead of immediately purchasing the whole range I keep saving up and getting one or two products here and there (impatiently waiting until the time my favourite London boutique will start stocking the range).

When the new make up line had a red lip colour and a gold highlighter the decision of what to get next made itself. As part of the order I also received samples of blush in Just Jenna (which I really wanted to get) and a limited edition Disco Queen Gloria (which immediately went to a friend to avoid temptation).

Golden Corrective Highlighter Brazilian Denise. Is a very warm buildable gold. It is a slightly paler shade of gold than I was expecting based on the picture, and it took me a few tries to make it work on me. I find that it does look best on my cheek bones and on the brow bones, I did not like it down the bridge of the nose or on my eyelid. I love the texture, it blends in seamlessly and gives me a glow that doesn't look sweaty or greasy. The shimmering particles are super fine, it looks more pearlescent than sparkly.

The highlighter has a slightly sweet, very pleasant scent. I find that it lasts all day, but when you apply it initially it goes on a little brighter, after 10-15 minutes after it had time to sink in, that is what it looks like for the rest of the day. The way I use it, it is not in your face make up, it is more of  a glow from within. My skin loves this product and I have been very pleased with how it enhances my features.

Radiant Creme Blush Just Jenna. What can I say, I really hope that this sample will last me a long time because I absolutely love this blush. You only need a tiny amount, and it immediately perks up your face. A good blush does wonders, you can skip all the rest of your makeup and still look fabulous, and Just Jenna is the best blush I have come across in a long time.

You can use the lightest touch or go bold with this one, it is very versatile. The colour is vivid orchid that seems to be neither overly cool nor too warm, I think it will work on most skin tones. It has slight floral scent that reminds me of roses. It lasts all day and is more intense at the beginning, just like the highlighter.

Hydrating Lip colour Lisette La Coquette. First of all I love the name, makes me think of innocent flirting and playful glances. The colour in the pan is a reddish plum, it is not that dark on the lips but does give your pout a dose of cranberry colour. It would not be my choice for an evening lipstick, but I love it for daytime.

It has a glossy finish and is indeed very moisturising, lip balm is sort of unnecessary unless your lips are seriously dry. Because of that, the lasting power is somewhat similar to a tinted lip balm, you need to reapply every 2-3 hours if you want it too look more intense. The scent is rosy like Just Jenna. I think this is perfect for everyone who likes red lips from afar but isn't quiet brave enough for the London Bus experience, or anyone else wanting a more daytime friendly red lippy.

I continue to be in love with this line, and I am hoping they will expand their permanent collection of colours. I love how all of these work together, this makeup could easily take you from day to night, and as I am getting older I really appreciate that It is taking care of my skin. I love that the products make me feel glamorous and that it looks so effortless on, and the fact that I can be done in less than 5 minutes without touching a brush. This makeup line has all the bells and whistles, but allows you to nurture your inner minimalist, I mean I love getting ready as much as the next girl but surely we could all use that time for something else?

Saturday 22 November 2014

Christmas gift ideas

I love the run up to Christmas, all the shops come up with some cookie items that you never see for the rest of the year. The craft fairs with delicious food and handmade items, and of course the beauty gift sets. While the process of finding the right gifts can be immensely frustrating, it is also one that I really enjoy. I like coming up with a theme for a person and then creating a package that fits it.

All the gift bundles in this post are ideas of presents, and not really the exact things that I will be giving this year, simply because I haven't finished my Christmas shopping yet. If you are curious about the beauty gift sets that I decided to go for here is the video.

For the Holistic beauty.

 This present bundle is for someone who likes the idea of approaching beauty from inside out and is happy to have a simple skincare routine.

Eat Pretty. Is a book full of insight, the cover is very girly but also fun and the advice is very sound.

Content Beauty skin tea. This is probably not the most delicious thing in  the world, but it is also not the worst. I found it to be really beneficial to my skin, and you can also use it topically in the form of a toner.

Morihata face cloth. This organic face cloth is fast drying and incredibly gentle, perfect to use with oil or balm cleansers, plus it look rather stylish.

Lyonsleaf beauty balm. This is your skincare routine in a jar, it is a cleanser and moisturiser, plus regular use of face cloth could make the need for exfoliator redundant.

For the Dreamer.

This is for someone who likes fairy tails, pretty things and making plans more so than actually pursuing them.

Alice in Wonderland and through the looking glass. The clothbound classics from Penguin is simply gorgeous to look at, it is a wonderfully crazy story that someone who hasn't lost their child like enthusiasm will likely appreciate.

Enamelled mirror. Continuing with the theme of the story, and one can not have too many cute looking compacts surely?

Marble and Milkweed rosy lip tint. This is a lovely, lightly tinted lip balm that  smells fabulous.

Lotus Wei  Holiday Cactus. Your own very version of the "Drink me" potion, helps to promote gratitude, awareness of your legacy, mindfulness. Tastes like honey berry nectar and helps you form a clearer picture of what you want to achieve.

For the Romantic.

This is for the person who likes a happy endings, candle light dinners and dainty things.

Pride and Prejudice. Another cloth bound classic, this is one of my favourite books, it takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotion, the writing transports to another time and yes the ending is a happy one.

People tree bow earrings and bracelet. Very delicate looking set that won't look out of place during the day or in the evening.

Indigo wild Zum lavender and mint candle. This gorgeous candle transforms a room in to a summer garden, perfect for relaxing in a bath or for setting the mood.

For the Adventurer:

This is for someone who is always on the go, enjoys the great outdoors and hasn't lost their sense of adventure.

Treasure Island (clothbound classic). You say adventure, I say treasure hunting and pirates. While it never makes me want to jump on a ship, it always inspires me to be more active and do something exciting.

People tree Pom Pom hat. One needs to keep warm during all the outdoorsy pursuits. People tree hats are always both stylish and functional.

Green people body brush. One of the best things to give your circulation a boost first thing in the morning, making you ready to face the day.

Badger balm muscle rub. You can use this little gem both before and after strenuous activity, soothes everyday aches and pains, every active person will benefit from it at some point.

Tension soother. When your day is jam packed with excitement there comes a time when you might need some help relaxing. Tension soother promotes calm, courage, and relaxed awareness when times get tough.

For the kitchen God/Goddess.

For foodies and anyone who enjoys coming up with their own recipes a festive food hamper is a great way to go. Just find an appropriate sized basket that you want to fill and go crazy at your local health store or a good supermarket. Possibilities are endless, you can have a theme like an Italian or Japanese cuisine and select items that fit, or just go for random choices of spices, preserves and pulses that you know the recipient enjoys. If you are looking for some slightly unusual ingredients Ottolenghi has you covered (and yes they deliver nationwide, and most things internationally).

Moleskin recipe journal is a perfect place to record all the fabulous creations that they come up with.

I hope this little guide has given you some ideas, and may you find Christmas shopping a pleasure this year.

Monday 10 November 2014

Pure & Light Organic Essential Toner review

For me toners are an essential part of my beauty ritual. The benefits of a good toner are noticeable after a few weeks and you get an occasional gem that soothes your skin almost instantly. There are different options available to help "purify" your skin (I am guessing that is a marketing term for help clear blemishes and clogged pores), "plump" your skin (that would be the ones for dry/mature skin), "revitalise" and so on. I divide toners in to two groups: wipe-off and spray-on. A wipe-off toners job is to remove any remnants of cleanser, and to bring skin's PH into balance after cleansing. Spray-on toners job is somewhat similar, to bring the skin's PH into balance and provide extra hydration before applying moisturiser, effectively sealing the toner before it evaporates.

One argument against the use of toners is that gentler formulations of cleanser no longer make it necessary to balance the PH levels, but that is only true if the cleanser that you are using is indeed that gentle. A well formulated toner however will help with your overall skin appearance and function, i.e. help it be less oily, or dry, or sensitive, generally bringing it closer to the happy middle. Over the years I have noticed that my skin is often happier with products designed for all skin types rather than something for oily/combination skin which is often too drying (and the normal/dry is often way too rich).

Pure & Light organic Essential toner* is one such product that has been formulated for all skin types and is recommended for people over the age of 18. The ingredient list consists of a combination of three organic distillates: orange blossom, geranium and rosemary. Orange blossom is often recommended for mature and dry skin types and it helps with general skin health, geranium helps balance hormonal skin and keep skin supple, rosemary has anti-bacterial properties and is fantastic for skin that tends to get congested.

I absolutely love the packaging of this toner. It is an airless pump container, and every time I use it I can feel the inside mechanism moving from the bottom, I think that is pretty fabulous and very clever. At the bottom of the bottle you can find both production date and expiry date (which I wish more companies would do), and once you started using your toner, it stays fresh for six months.

The scent is very mild and orange blossom is the more dominant, not surprising since it is the very first ingredient. I find this to be an excellent morning toner, I have been using it exclusively (morning and night) for the past two and a half weeks and I really like how it works for me. My skin is balanced and it helps keep the texture of my skin nice and smooth (something that only very few toners manage to do). The reason why I like this as a morning toner especially, is due to a short ingredient list. Before this toner was sent to me I have been using an Aloe hydrolat so my skin wouldn't get upset with a more active formula, and I found that Essential Toner* mixes happily with my morning skincare, without flaring up any sensitivities, and improves the appearance of my skin ( it just looks a bit smoother and pores seem a bit less noticeable). Honestly there wouldn't be anything more that I would look for from a toner. I find the quality of this one to be very high.

Now we come to the question of price. It retails for £35 which in itself is not a problem for me as I do tend to splurge on skincare and have a few pricey toners. However the size is 45ml (based on similar sized toners, I expect it to last about 3 months used once daily, with occasional twice daily use), making it a slightly rounded up £0.78 per millilitre, and it also makes the most expensive toner per millilitre in the organic beauty market that I know of. That being said I still feel that it is worth having and at the moment there are a couple of offers, if you spend £60 on the Pure & Light organic site you will get free shipping and a toner for free, and they also have a few Christmas gift sets that have the toner in them with really good savings.

If you live in London and want to see it in person before committing you can pop over to Janna Organic Remedies who carries the range in their store.

*This product was sent to me for a review. All the opinions are my own honest representations, based on my personal experience with the product. 

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Green Beauty on a budget: skincare

When it comes to green beauty I tend to get carried away, I love pretty packaging and feeling of luxury that some of the higher end products give. However there are plenty of brands that offer great results with quality ingredients without breaking the bank. Organic skincare doesn't have to be about saving for months to get a bottle of face oil, unless that is what you want. The choice is yours whether or not to splurge or save, but it is good to have options.

This time I am focusing on skincare, and if you fancy watching the video instead of reading (or maybe both) here it is.

Konjac sponge. I feel like I've talked about these a lot and here is a comprehensive behind the scenes post. These are £7.99 and if you look after them properly should last you around 3 months. This is a good morning cleanse option, or a second cleanse in the evening. If you use it regularly you won't need a separate exfoliator.

Lyonsleaf beauty balm*. This balm is an awesome all rounder, it can be used as a cleanser or as a moisturiser. Used with a hot cloth nightly a separate exfoliator also becomes unnecessary (well maybe once in a blue moon if you feel like it). Just massage a small amount into dry skin, let a damp hot cloth sit on your face for 30 seconds to loosen things up, and wipe off. Used as a moisturiser just apply a half a pea amount (a little more if your skin is dry) to damp skin, massage for a minute or so (face massage is great for your skin). It is £12.95 for 55ml.

Bathing beauty Miracle soap. This honey oat loaf of goodness is a great choice for a second cleanse. While I would not recommend most soaps for face use, this one is a good option. I would still limit it to every other day use, but you can see how your skin responds to it. It is £4 and will last you a good long time.

Essence of Eden organic coconut oil. While not everyone gets on with coconut oil, if you do it is a great inexpensive product. I mainly use it for makeup removal or to protect my face in a hot shower. A 300ml jar will set you back £14.00. There are other options of coconut oil out there, I don't think all of them are of equal quality and personally I didn't get on with some other coconut oils but this one works a treat.

Jason Aloe Vera pure beauty oil. This is a steal at £6.49 for 30ml. It is a multi purpose product for face and body, for the times when your skin is feeling sensitive or sun burnt. I also use it as an eye makeup remover. It only has three ingredient sunflower seed oil, aloe vera leaf gel, safflower seed oil and is USDA certified organic.

Odylique Spot-on Serum*. This product comes in 2 sizes for £15.00 you can get 60ml, or 20ml for £8.00. It can be used as a targeted spot treatment, or to soothe insect bites and minor skin damage. You get a lot of product for your money, and it is a really handy serum to have around on summer holidays.

Akamuti Flower water. I am a champion of toners, and flower waters offer really good skin benefits, my personal favourite is rose, however it really depends on your skin type. Akamuti chamomile water (pictured in old packaging, they now come in spray bottles) is £6.50 for 100ml and is a great choice when you want to be gentle with your skin.

Gaia creams veggie cocktail*. This product is very concentrated, and while 30ml will set you back £15.00 if used purely as a face moisturiser it will most likely last you pretty much the entire freshness period. However it is designed to be used both on face and body, so the choice is yours.

Our tiny bees purifying vitamin face mask. A great face mask is a must. This one is a mixture of white clay a kaolin, honey, oats and mango. It can be used both as a gentle scrub or as a mask. A 100ml jar comes to £7.95.

Jane Irredale magic mitt. This is the one product I forgot to mention in my video. On beauty bay it retails for £13.95. It is a make up remover, all you have to do is dampen the mitt and then gently wipe of your makeup. That is it, and yes it actually does remove every trace of makeup. Afterwards wash the mitt with soap (Dr Bronner's is good) and leave it to air dry. I have had mine for several years now and it still performs the same, however I have never used it for eye makeup removal, my eyes are super sensitive, I stick to a gentle oil blend for that.

*These products were sent to me/part of goodie bags, there was no explicit expectation of review or mentions. As always I only include the products that I genuinely like, all opinions are my own based on my experience with the products.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Fall diaries: The Outfit

When I was much younger, it feels like another lifetime, I would practically buy myself a whole new wardrobe with the beginning of each season. I am much wiser now, and I tend to spend my money on a few key pieces here and there that will stand the test of time (and lets face it, I need all the extra cash for beauty products).

This Autumn I was really feeling the colours of red wine and teal, and what do you know turns out they are in fashion at the moment. I did the sensible thing looked through my wardrobe, pulled out everything I had in those colours and realised that although I have plenty of teal, a burgundy jumper wouldn't go amiss.

While I do enjoy dressing up for the evenings, my daytime clothes have to be comfortable and look good without trying. So what is better than a relaxed sweater and skirt combo? A dress that looks like one of course! Hush has the laid back style down to a t and this dress is just a pleasure to wear.

But I don't want you guys to worry, I am definitely not becoming a fashion blogger, just wanted to share my favourite look for the season. Trying to pose for pictures with Mr RF as the photographer is a lengthy process, it goes from "hey you are supposed to take pictures of me not the ducks", to not being able to stand straight from laughter because of the passing commentary.

The dress is called Rosie and comes in two colours, the one I have is Damson/Navy. I would suggest signing up to their news letter as they often send discount codes.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Let's talk RSPB

Warm rays of sun, soft rustle of leaves underfoot, an autumn day when staying indoors is just unthinkable. On such a day my favourite place to be is a park or a botanical garden, where I can enjoy the simple beauty of everything around me, and poke fun at the ducks, who are very happy to show of their behinds from under the water.

As we were about to leave the park an RSPB (Royal society for the Protection of Birds) stall caught our attention (to be truthful it was at the entrance to the area all along, it's just somehow I managed not to see it on the way in). I love animals and a cute fluffy toy is always bound to get my attention, ahem I mean a book about wildlife. When it comes to charities I am very choosy and I ask a lot of questions, and if I'm honest I tend to avoid those people that try to get me to sign up to something on the high street. Somehow this felt different. There was no hard sell, no one was blocking my way or tried to get my attention by shouting, it was just a well presented stall manned by someone who seemed to be happy to be interrogated by me and most importantly I did not feel pressured.

RSPB is a nature conservation charity (so they are not solely concerned with birds, but habitats and other wildlife as well), while most of the projects are UK based they are involved in some international projects as part of BirdLife International. What makes them special is that they run over a hundred of nature reserves around Britain that are open to the public.

If you decide to become a member you get two passes that give you free admission to these nature reserves and a subscription to Nature's home magazine that comes out quarterly (as well as feeling amazing that your money is going towards conservation of animals and their habitats).

Membership fee is a charitable donation so you effectively choose how much you wish to give by setting up a monthly direct debit, the perks are yours regardless of the amount. RSPB pledges that ninety pence from each pound donated goes directly towards conservation. So are you going to vote for Bob?