Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tuesday mani | m&s beauty

I had a nosey around m&s's beauty department in Southampton the other day. There were a few things that caught my eye but what I was really drawn to was the 'Limited collection quick dry nail polish'.

There was a gorgeous bright zingy orange and a lovely pastel blue and I was going to give in and get both. I was very strict though, and plumped for just one and went with the blue which is called 'Ultra Violet' . It's a gorgeous colour and so summery! (Wishful thinking!!)

I was pleased when it applied really well with a great brush and only needed two coats to give a full opaque, even, and glossy finish. They dried quickly and despite smelling pretty vile I was chuffed.

My problem started about two minutes after I started getting on with my life.

Oh. The. Chipping.

Literally ridiculous. I know this varnish wasn't exactly the most expensive but with a topcoat as well and allowing plenty of time to dry I was quite frankly pretty annoyed. All I did was put some folded clothes in a suitcase. I think any varnish that can't handle that is pretty much a fail as far as I'm concerned.

I would say that it would be fine for just one night out rather than varnish that you want for a week, but I bought it because I thought it would be a great summer time everyday staple.

Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

Have you tried any of the limited collection varnishes? Was I just unlucky in the colour that I picked? Do let me know!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Stick

I was mooching around Debenhams beauty hall the other day and found Dior's new offering, the Cherie Bow Eye Shadow  Pen Twin Set. I really loved it, both in 'Grey sigh', but also 'Beige Ribbon'. These are really quick to apply with a chubby stick like nib, but also have a sponge like applicator at the other end with a more translucent shimmer. They can be used together but both ends can also be used seperately. The girl on counter used the goldy, shimmer of 'Beige Ribbon' on the inside of her lower waterline as well as the inner corners as a sort of highlighter. The effect was beautiful but on top of my other purchases I couldn't justify this little beauty.
 And how glad I am! When helping a friend pick up some make up in Boots, Rimmel's new offering caught my eye. This scandal eyes offers a very similar effect for obviously a much lower price tag. A humble £4.99 in fact. Sadly there is not the same double end application allowing for you to decide how much shimmer you want but instead it's one easy to use crayon-like nib. It's actually quite a similar idea to Clinique's new Chubby sticks for eyes but again obviously much cheaper.

I went for the colour 'Bulletproof Beige' so as to be a dupe for the Dior. It's a beautiful gold with quite a metallic sheen to it. A much darker bronze, imaginatively named 'Bad Bronze', also caught my eye and I may well find myself investing in this little bad boy as well! The colour is gorgeous and pay off is pretty good. It applies easily, can be blended, sticks all day, and is generally a really useful thing to have around! I must say, the texture is lovely and creamy and doesn't snag at all.

This swatch is quite built up and it is possible to sheer the colour out for a more subtle glow. The shimmer is also more apparent in life. It's not crazy shimmer though, more of a metallic, and is just what I want for the inner corner of the eye. Like the girl at the Dior counter, it also looks lovely on the waterline- a little tip that wouldn't really have occurred to me!
All in all I think this is a great little product and I'm particularly keen on this colour which you can get herehere. It's a new release and Boots were already running out when I got there so I'd get my money at the ready ASAP if I were you! At £4.99 I'm not really surprised they're proving to be so popular.

Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser-

So as you may remember I was lucky enough to win about £300 worth of alpha- h products back in December. I've been diligently working my way through them and thought I would start reviewing the products that I was sent. I must say that the whole experience was fabulous. My phone consultation was with just about the nicest human being I've ever spoken to and I received a huge package the next day with all my products in.

My skin is generally pretty balanced and I would describe it as normal. Occasionally I get dehydrated skin in winter from being outside a lot, and sometimes I get a little sheen in between my eyebrows at the top of my nose. My only problem really is that recently I've started getting hormone spots at the corner of my mouth and a few on my chin. I also get a few on my temples when I'm suffering deadline stress.

The first product that I'm going to review is the Alpha-H balancing cleanser with aloe vera. Why? Quite simply it's just a fabulous all rounder and basic. It's the kind of product that just quietly gets on with it's job, no bells and whistles, but is reliably there for you to fall back on.

This little super star easily gets rid of any face make up, and is gentle enough that you can gently smooth it onto the eye area, removing shadows, liners, and mascara in one fell swoop.

I actually already owned this product before my competition win. I bought it around July last year and it has only just started thinking about running out. I do only use it in the evenings though and use something different in the morning. Even so I think that's pretty good going.

It doesn't compete with any other treatments you might want to use such as liquid gold, and is soothing to sensitive skin. It reduces the redness of any occasional spots I may have, and since I have been using my Alpha-H regime the number of spots I get has definitely declined.

Obviously I am using a lot of products in conjunction so I can't pin point this as some sort of holy grail for spot prevention. I can however promise that it has helped my skin, both in its blemishes but also has helped even tone and brighten.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

I'm still here!

 I'm sorry that I completely disappeared for so long! As I may have previously mentioned I'm in my final year of university at the moment. I've just had my dissertation draft due in on top of a couple of different essays and grad scheme applications which hasn't left me a lot of time to get much done!

  Either way my most stressful deadline period is over now, so I hope you will be delighted to know that I am now back with a vengeance. Scheduled posts that I have coming up are an update of how my skin is doing with my Alpha-H products (with before and after photos!) and individual reviews of those products, make up reviews, and a couple of film reviews. I've also got graduation balls and ceremonies coming up as well, so I thought I may do a couple of outfit related posts about those.

  Do let me know if any of those sound particularly interesting and should receive priority! Either way posts will now become much more regular once more.

Much love

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A bit of a haul

Hey guys!

 So the other day I went for a shop and ended up with rather more than I intended! I personally always like to have a nosey at what other people get on shopping trips, so thought I'd share with you!

I don't normally think to go to Republic but was rather pleased with what I found this time

'Geek' tee, £13
  I'm really pleased with the fit of this T-Shirt. It's fitted in shape, but I bought it a size up. It means it is baggy, but because of the cut it doesn't make me look like I'm wearing a sack. The cotton is a really nice feel and good amount of stretch and it looks great with black jeans.

Cute floral blouse, £20

Again, I really like this, and it is long enough that I can wear it with shorts or leggings. Also it looks really sweet with:

Pontelle jumper, £25
Which is really flattering on, and also super warm! The neckline is really good for having a little buttoned up blouse underneath. They don't seem to have it in my colour online, but they do have it in  khaki or stone.

 While I was at the jumpers I also went for this one as a good all round staple:

I know elbow pads aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I think they're sweet and this sit just in the right place for me. I can't find this one online and my receipt is at home rather than uni, so I'm afraid I can't tell you the price of this one but I reckon it must have been around the same as the other.

Lastly I bought this, which I appreciate the photo does nothing for:

Polar neck dress, £18
 I actually tried this dress on a size smaller, which fitted fine, but I decided I wanted a more relaxed fit so I would be able to wear it day to day as well. So I haven't tried this exact one on, but those arm holes look huge, so it may be winging its way back soon! This is my most risky purchase though, as I don't entirely know what I'm going to wear it with at the moment. But I'm trying to be more adventurous with my outfits this year and for £18 and a student discount on top of that, I thought I'd give it a go!

So there you have it everyone- my random Republic splerge. I was going to have a look at their dupe disco pants after my last post, but they only had them in very exciting colours, and I'm certainly not feeling that brave just yet!!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wednesday want!

Hi guys!

 I'm probably a bit late to the party with this one, you've seen them all before. But the last week I've found myself reeeeally wanting a pair of American Apparel's Disco Pants in black. I just think they're so cool, and can make an outfit just that bit more exciting. My legs are probably my best asset as well, so maybe this would be playing to my strengths?

Photo from Asos

They've partly come to my attention from seeing an increasing number of dupes appearing on the high street. I can entirely see why, as £20 seems much more sensible than a crazy £74 for what are essentially glorified leggings. However, the more I've researched, the more I've heard about the magical spanxs like qualities... and let's face it, wouldn't every girl like a little bit of help sometimes? Really I'd like to go and try a pair on, but there are no American Apparels around me.

So what do you think? Are they worth it? Have you tried any dupes that are marvelous? Let me know guys, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one xx

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Tuesday nails

I don't really know much about max factor, but at the end of summer I picked up one of their 'max effect mini nail polishes'.

 It was the colour rather than the brand that caught my eye- no.26 Cappuccino. When I saw the price which was only a few pounds I thought I'd give it a go.

I have to say, I'm really pleased with it! I do have a relatively active lifestyle and my nails do chip at the drop of a hat. This has managed to last relativelty well, however, especially considering the price which I thought was pretty good.

So woo, go team max factor! I'll certainly be looking into more of their products in the future. I found mine in boots but they don't have it online. Superdrug do have it online, but I'm sure for more money than I paid. What about you guys? Have you tried any of their varnishes or their other make up?

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Review- Clinique colour surge eye shadow quad

Hello everyone!

 Today I thought I'd get back to talking about some of my favourite make-up products. I have to admit now that I totally love eyeshadow. For some people it's lipstick, but for me it's all about the shadow. I just love that through blending and shading you can completely change the effect and shape of the eye. Shadow can look quite dressy though, so for every day wear I stick to my absolute must have nude palette.

My ever so old, and slightly battered, Clinique palatte

I know everyone raves about Urban Decay's 'Naked' palettes, and this is certainly something I'm going to invest in soon and give a whirl, but I haven't got it yet because I simply haven't felt the need to. My lovely Mum bought me Clinique's Colour Surge Eye Shadow Quad in 111 choco-latte years and years go, and I've been so happy with it I've never really bothered to look round for anything different (hence my tardiness with the naked palette).

The Clinique website advertises this palette as 'pale beige with a deep muted brown, a golden taupe, and a midtone shimmering red brown' and claims that it is suitable for any skin tone. Generally I find in palettes that there's one slightly odd colour that you never touch, but not with this one. If there is one that I use less, it's probably the more red toned shadow. Having said this, I still use it plenty but usually for a more evening look rather than day time- probably because of my skin tone. They all complement each other perfectly and can be blended on used alone.

 As I said, I've had my palette for years now, and you can see that I'm nowhere near the bottom. They just last really well! They're well pigmented, build well, and blend easily. I never get any sort of fall out when using this either and it lasts well all day.

As you can see, you get two little brushes with this. If I'm getting ready in the morning I would always use my own brushes so I can use multiple colours and blend well. If I'm out on the move though, the brush provided is fine for providing washes of colour. I don't really think any in palette brushes are particularly marvellous, but this one does a fair job.

The casing is also pretty, yet substantial and this has handled being bashed about in handbags and make up bags for years. I like that the whole of the lid is mirrored rather than an unnecessary boarder which shrinks mirror size. I also really like that on the Clinique website itself they offer video tutorials on how to use the product, and recommendations of what colours will suit your skin tone. I find I trust Clinique to provide products that won't upset my skin or cause any negative reactions- the website seems to me to provide an additional nice touch.

All in all, I really love this palette. My precise colour seems to be fairly unavailable, but Debenhams offer the same palette in different nude colours for £25 here. I know there are eye shadow quads out there for less money, but how well this has lasted considering I wear it pretty much every day is testimony to me that it is worth it. I don't think Clinique always gets the press it deserves for what are trusty and attractive make up products and I urge you to give them a go.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Film review- Life of Pi

I always said that this blog was going to talk about various films and books as well as beauty and lifestyle. I've been wanting to do this particular post for a while, but I wanted to make sure that I did this remarkable film justice, and as I've been ploughing through my final uni exams I decided to hold fire.

 I should maybe say first of all that I loved Yann Martel's prize winning novel 'Life of Pi' when I read it many years ago. As a child I was always very keen on C. S. Lewis' books, and somehow life of Pi was always like a more grown up and dimensional version for me. Maybe it was the whole big cat feature. Either way, when I heard about the film adaptation that was underway, I really wasn't sure. I knew how I had imagined the book, and I wasn't convinced I wanted to see someone else's version.

 I had absolutely no reason to worry. Firstly, let's look at the special effects. They really are phenomenal. I've always felt a bit underwhelmed by 3D and often it's made me feel quite unwell. From the very opening titles as we are shown around Pi's beautiful zoo in India, the 3D is a part of the film and utilised so perfectly that it becomes a part of the film rather than simply a gilding to cover weak story lines. Some scenes in this film can only be described as breathtakingly beautiful, so much so that words really can't describe. It's the best use of 3D I have ever seen at the cinema, and as far as I'm concerned has set the bench mark for what films over the next couple of years should be trying to achieve.

 Now on to the story, which I believe is as beautiful as the effects. People seem to be concerned that they will get bored watching a film where a significant portion is one character alone on a life boat with a Bengal tiger. All I can do is plead that you will not let this put you off. The time flies in this film, and there are never long awkward moments that feel lacking in dialogue between multiple characters.

 As far as an adaptation goes I can honestly say I have never seen a better book to film version. Ang Lee deserves a round of applause every time he steps out his front door as far as I'm concerned. While his version of 'Sense and Sensibility' will always hold a place in my heart, many of his other films (yes, including 'Brokeback Mountain') have passed me by. This is something I'm going to be changing as soon as possible though! Lee somehow took everything that was already perfect about the book, made it visually beautiful and then proceeded to take any weak spots and totally perfect them. The final message of the book is crystallised by Lee to perfection. There is only one section of the book that is left out, but as Pi is experiencing a temporary blindness I can appreciate that this would struggle to translate on the big screen. I also think Lee made a wonderful move to cast a completely unknown actor in a lead role that the entire film depended on. A brave move which paid of splendidly.

I have only one annoyance with the whole thing and that is the random addition of a love interest for Pi at the beginning of the film. Why is this necessary?! What is Hollywood's obsession with having a love interest?! LEAVE IT ALONE! As her screen time is all of about a minute, it really didn't cause me that much strife. I can't believe that an audience couldn't have empathised with Pi's desolation at leaving his home, his way of life, his friends, his zoo and his country and cultural identity, without a random girl fluttering her eyelashes a bit though.

All in all the best film I have seen, possibly ever. I beg you all to rush out and see it if you haven't already. Do try to go 3D- like the story itself the addition of animals (or in this case 3D) just makes it more magical. If you have gone to see it, what did you think? Did you love it as much as I did? I'd love to hear your thoughts as well...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Review- Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation

In the past I've always been just a normal foundation kind of girl. Nothing fancy with no real special effects. When I ran out of my trusty Clinique foundation, however, I decided that I just wanted a bit more. I wanted that gorgeously illuminated and dewy looking skin that quite frankly is a million miles away from the reality that lies underneath my make up.

 When I saw YSL's promise that their Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation is  'The magic light of Touche Éclat in a foundation' I pulled out my happy dance and trotted off to my nearest Debenhams to get my colour match done.

The conclusion? I really do think YSL deliver on all their promises. It does illuminate and highlight contours and consequently photographs like a dream. They also claim that 'with no opaque powders, its perfecting texture evens the complexion', which it certainly does. Whether or not it is this lack of 'opaque powders', this foundation really does feel ever so light when it goes on the skin and simply refuses to be cakey.

Example of the finish in photographs

 When putting it on, it's quite runny and so I have found it best to apply from my nose and eye area outwards with fingers. Then I buff it in with my foundation brush once it's settled a little more. I have found that because it's so very liquid you can get brush marks left behind if you go in all guns blazing with a brush.

On a side note, it also has a delicious scent as you apply it that makes me feel like I'm on my holidays. It doesn't hang around and turn your face into a glorified perfume bottle thank goodness, but it does just make the application a bit more enjoyable and the product feel all the more luxe. Call me a packaging pervert, but the weight of the gorgeous glass bottle and gold pump finish complete the whole affair. If you're not careful though the pump gets a bit carried away with its own marvellous-ness (yes, this is now a word), and you end up with rather more product than you bargained for!

This costs £28 which is a little pricey but I think well worth it for a foundation that you can forget you're wearing because it's so light, and looks great. You can find it here!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Alpha H

Recently I was lucky enough to win a competition. I am the girl who has never won more than a revolting bottle of rosé at a raffle, so for me this was a pretty big deal indeed.

 This prize was about as far away from unpleasant and headache inducing alcohol as humanly possible. I won an amazing session with the skin company Alpha- H, where I described to them all my skin problem areas and needs over the phone to a lovely man named Tom, and they sent me an fabulous selection of their products that cater to my specific needs.

And oh my, did they send me a selection- just look at all of this stuff! I can now boast a huge range of products from hand cream to their cult product liquid gold.

I was lucky enough never to really struggle with acne when I was a teenager. However, now that I've hit my early twenties my skin seems to have, quite frankly, gone mental. Now I'm probably exaggerating somewhat, I know that many people suffer with awful skin complaints. As a young twenty something girl though, I do feel sensitive about my appearance, and spots are not really what I need.

 Generally my skin is well balanced, I don't really suffer from dry or oily skin (touch wood). However, I do find that I get a few spots on my temples and quite a few around my mouth down to my jaw line. Speaking to Tom, he advised me that these temple spots are probably stress induced, and that the spots round my jaw are hormonal. Apparently women do experience hormonal changes in their early twenties and so this is actually relatively common. I AM NOT ALONE!

 There's not a whole lot I can do about my stress, as I'm currently in my final year of University. However, I am going to try to make a concerted effort to drink more water, which I know I don't drink enough of now. Maybe that should be my resolution for 2013?!

 Anyway, I will be trying all these amazing products out and letting you know how they work for me. If I'm feeling brave I may also take some photos of my skin problems, so that it will be easy to compare and see the improvement. I hope! If this is something you guys would like to see then let me know and I'll see what I can do!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

If there's one piece of advice...

You may think I'm a little bit barmy, but a good friend of mine who took me under her wing when I was about ten gave me a few rules to live my life by. As I've got older these are rules that I've generally tried to take on board. They are:

1) Don't cry in front of people. Only ever cry in your car, or in your bedroom.

2) A girl should always have a black polo neck as a wardrobe essential.

3) Always wear black mascara. Always.

Now I appreciate sometimes one is a bit tricky to master. Friends have also disagreed with the polo neck, and I believe this is mainly because they think it's not a good one for big boobs. I can honestly say that big boobs has never been a problem for me so I can't really comment.

Mascara is a must that surely no one can disagree with though. Through the years I've been a bit of a mascara connoisseur, however recently I've stuck with one which is pretty much unheard of for me.

What is it, I hear you cry! Chanel's 'intimitable volume length curl separation mascara'.

I know, catchy title right? I'll forgive them though because it is marvellous. My eyelashes are quite long and curly, so I often get those annoying black dots on the top of my eye. Not with this little beauty though. It's relatively natural looking, but my eyes look brighter, more awake, and my lashes look thick black and long. It lasts well throughout the day and I never get that horrible crispy feeling that some mascaras give you. It is expensive at £23, but in my opinion it's worth it.

Review- Neutrogena Visibly Clear 2-in-1 wash mask

My skin is generally well balanced, neither oily or dry I wouldn't say, however I do get spots around my jaw line near my mouth. The main issue isn't even the spots themselves so much, as these dissapear usually within a day. They have a habit of leaving red marks behind them though that hang around sometimes for several months. This does at least mean that I can cover them with make up relatively well, but it isn't ideal.
Neutrogena's two in one isn't a product that I use everyday, but I do like to pull it out when my skin is looking just a bit dull and tired. I also feel it makes any spots look more dried up and makes any red marks that are left behind look less angry.
 You can use it as a cleanser, but I usually take the mask option. The best bit about its dual purpose is that you can wash it off quickly if something pops up (your postman decides he fancies a chinwag etc.) and still feel like its done some good. It's particularly good in the morning as it has a tingly feeling that really makes you feel awake! While this feeling might not be for everyone, I've used it on friends and they've all loved it so much that they've gone and bought it for themselves.
At £3.99 and easy to find here at Boots, you'd be silly not to give it a go really!

Welcome to 'Smiffy Stumbles'!

Hello everyone!

 I am obviously using the term 'everyone' fairly loosely here as the number of people reading this will probably be me and only me! I've already made the decision to not publicise this blog to friends and family, certainly for a while, and so I really am starting from scratch trying to get this out there.

 I suppose the overwhelming question that needs to be answered is what this blog is going to be about. It really is what I stumble upon, and what I find interesting. I love beauty and skin care products, but there are hundreds of experts out there who focus on this as a career, and I'm sure would be able to provide a much more fascinating insight than I. That's not to say that I won't feature my reviews and thoughts on products that I use, however. It simply means that I will also be blogging about films, books, and theatre as well.

I would class myself as a relatively well rounded person, and hope that this blog will reflect my interests. I also find that I think something is fascinatingly interesting and proceed to tell my family, friends, dog, cat, and whatever vaguely living things are anywhere nearby, all about it. This is normally while they are actually trying to do something else, like cook dinner, get an important piece of work done, have a phone call or wrestle a lion. Hopefully if people seek my blog out they will be interested in the same sorts of things as I am, and it will relieve some of the pressure my loved ones are currently experiencing!

I hope that if anyone has 'stumbled' upon this blog, this may sound appealing to them and they would like to stick around to find out a bit more!