Tuesday, 23 September 2014


As you may be able to tell, I've yet again fallen out of the blogging habit, but there have been times where I have sat down, brainstormed and drafted so many posts, to realise it's 9pm and I haven't taken any photos, which require daylight and I have work early the next morning..so the posts get put off until I have a day off, but then I'm busy on my day off..and it goes on. 

So I was texting the boyfriend as usual in the evening after a day at work last week, and we ask each other what we're up to: I'm actually drafting a new blog post, after having a brainwave from browsing on Bloglovin', and he's got his Wordpress set up properly, yay! He's been looking to start an outlet for his writing for the while, but now he's had the inspiration and time to do it, and we were saying how we could motivate each other to write, when I came up with the idea of an October Challenge to get the both of us into the swing of things: post everyday for the month of October..

So here we go! If you want to see what my lovely boyfriend Jack is up to this month, head on over to odeavenue.wordpress.com 

Do I really need a toner?

First up in my "Do I really need..?" series

I never thought I needed a toner, until I started reading various beauty blogs: their thoughts and reviews on various products. Then I realised I was using much more cleanser than I needed, just to remove the last remnants of my makeup, because my skin wasn't "squeaky clean". Yet trying to find an affordable toner that does the job proved to be quite the task for my combination skin..

First I thought I'd head to my trusty No7 and snap up the only toner they do in their range: Soft & Soothed Gentle Toner. I chose this as I thought it would compliment the rest of my No7 skincare routine the best, even though as a No7 advisor I know that our cleansers do not need a toner to follow, as the cleansers don't leave any residue on the skin..hence why we only do the one toner! Sadly, this didn't work out for me, probably due to the fact it's a hydrating toner. After the first use, overnight I had developed multiple little pimples of spots across my chin and jawline, which, even when I was suffering with my worst acne, I never had these types of spots, and I had done nothing different with the rest of my skincare routine. I hate to give No7 products a miss as I find them generally great, however this just didn't do it for me, but I think this toner would be great for normal/dry skin types to balance the skin out after cleansing, especially as it's alcohol free. Not to mention that it's £8 for 200ml, and it would be even more of a bargain come round to the £5 off No7 voucher time!

Back to the drawing board, as I searched online for a toner suited more towards a combination skin. Dare I say I struggled, until I came across the Seaweed Clarifying Toner by the Body Shop. Again, very reasonably priced at £8.50 for 200ml, and with rave reviews online, I had to see what all the fuss was about. As you look at the skincare stand within The Body Shop, straight away they are categorised by their ranges, and what skin types they are catered towards; the Seaweed range is specifically targeted for combination/oily skin, and there is also the Tea Tree range, but this is more for blemish-prone skin. If only I knew about this range earlier..

I love everything about this toner! 1) First up, the packaging; simple yet effective, it dispenses just the right amount of product onto a cotton pad without overloading it and wasting any toner. It's pretty robust too, it doesn't leak and you can see exactly how much is left. 2) This toner will last AGES. Because it dispenses just enough, and a little goes a long way, even if it's used more than once a day it's gonna last a long time before it needs repurchasing. And there's no denying I'm going to repurchase this toner, it's just slotted into my skincare routine perfectly: 3) Replacing my third pad of cleanser for one pad of toner means I use less cleanser, yet this toner goes deeper than my cleanser to pull out every last bit of makeup and dirt from my pores, without drying my skin out yet balancing my oils out, you can instantly feel it tighten your pores to stop any dirt making it home. 4) This toner smells divine; fresh and of the sea, it's a joy to use this product! I could go on and on, can you tell I'm impressed? 

Do I really need a toner? Yes, I most certainly do! And if you've got combination skin just like me, I'm sure this would be great for you too. Do you use a toner? 

Friday, 5 September 2014

No7 Match Made Lipstick Service: in depth.

It would be rude of me not to write a post about this, but I thought I'd leave it until after the launch, so I could get to experience how it has gone down with customers.

A brief history of the Match Made Service

Back in the summer of 2012, No7 revolutionised the way we choose our foundations, and is set to do the same with our lipsticks. After rigorous testing and scientific research of over 2000 British women, a unique colour palette was created to give a range of foundation shades that were true to skin colour. From this, a colour measuring device was developed and is used, in larger Boots stores in the UK, to measure skin tone, enabling people to be matched to one of the seventeen true to skin shades of foundation within the No7 range, with various formulas, coverages and finishes on offer. Since the service was launched, nearly one million people across the UK have experienced the Match Made Service, and with complimenting concealers added to the range in 2013, the service is still as popular as ever. Hence, after much more research and testing, the Match Made Lipstick Service has been born.

And now for the sciencey bit!

I'll try not to bore you with this, but it is interesting to see how they got it down to the final colour choices: 700 potential lipstick colours were first set against the 17 skin tones; those that clashed were ruled out, and those that complimented more than one skin tone remained. This left them with 60 potential lipstick colours, and from this the final 43 colour lipstick range was chosen, with at least 14 colours to suit each skin tone: 29 colours in the Moisture Drench range, 14 colours in the Stay Perfect range. All of the new colours are categorised into six key shade groups, to help understanding between the No7 advisor and customer when it comes to choosing a colour(s) - Coral, Plum, Red, Light Pink, Dark Pink and Natural. Note: the key reading is not taken from the lips, it is the same skin-tone reading that is done to find a foundation match within the No7 range. And, if you hadn't already guessed, it's more than one lipstick.. So it's great news if you've already had your match, but it's also a great opportunity if you haven't, as you can get your foundation, concealer and lipstick sorted all in one go! 

The service that answers that all-important question: "What suits me?"

As I already know my skin-true shade, Cool Vanilla, I picked up one of these handy cards that lists all the colours within the new range that best compliment my skin tone. These cards are available at all No7 counters in the UK, subject to availability. I have found that the swatches aren't exactly accurate to how the colours look in the bullet, but it gives you a pretty good idea. The great news is that with the new colours being brought in, the formulation of the lipsticks themselves have been improved too, yay! The Moisture Drench range are so much more pigmented and longer lasting than their predecessors, and the Stay Perfect range are much more nourishing on the lips. I already have six colours from the range: four Moisture Drench, two Stay Perfect..and I'm in love. I adore bright colours as it is anyway, but knowing that they compliment my skin tone gives me that extra confidence to wear the colours with pride. Saying this, I've also gone for a couple more natural looking shades, which I wouldn't usually go for, but yet again, knowing it compliments my skin tone gives me that confidence to wear it. 

Now to go picture crazy..!


You can see from these swatches how the colours transfer from the bullet to the lips, and how all the colours work in harmony with my skin tone. It's quite amazing to see how the different tones of pink are all still so warming to my skin, and most especially the red too. Even 700 Soft Tulip, the most "natural" of the selection is still complimentary, and I would usually surpass this kind of colour in favour of the brighter styles you see here. Saying that, Soft Tulip is becoming an everyday favourite, what with the rise in popularity of the 90's nude..this is my take on the trend for now. And with the finish of the Moisture Drench range being more satin, even the stronger colours I find are very wearable regardless of age, as the colours pack a punch without being harsh. I would say that they're not necessarily long-wearing, as it can transfer onto glasses when drinking, but the general wear of colour is a good couple of hours or so.

Instantly you can see the difference between the Stay Perfect and Moisture Drench: the Stay Perfect are a true-matte finish, and with that the colours are a bit stronger too. However, even with the matte finish, they are not drying nor uncomfortable on the lips. I find with these lipsticks, compared to the Moisture Drench, is that the colour reacts more the natural acidity of your lips throughout its wear: 255 Raspberry Silk gets deeper and much more pink whereas 505 Auburn Whisper takes on an almost red tone. For the longevity, these are spot on, even if you wanted to pop a slick of gloss over the top. I just wish there were more colours in this range; even though there are some classic reds to choose from, sadly none are complimentary for my skin tone. *sad face* At least I get my fix with the Moisture Drench lippies! 

Have you tried the service yet? What are your thoughts on the process and your opinions on the choice of colours?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Payday = haulin'.

So when payday rolled around this month, I was in desperate need of both things that I needed and wanted; as you can see, it's quite a mix too!

  1. Lacura Cotton Pads: Yes, they seem so mundane, but they're needed. I go through them very easily, so I don't want to be paying a lot for them, yet they still need to be of a great quality. This is where Aldi comes up trumps yet again! 99p for a twin pack of pads that don't fleece? Yes please! (I know you can get these twin packs anywhere for pretty much a similar price, but these are seriously the best I've ever used.)
  2. No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Makeup Remover: Definitely one of my holy grail products..and I know that term is used all the time these days, but this eye makeup remover is the only one for me that doesn't irritate my eyes; even the Simple, Johnson and Nivea ones (to name a few) made my eyes sting, even though I don't find my eyes to be particularly sensitive. Not to mention, the No7 remover is an oil-water formula (shake it to wake it! Cheesy I know..) which removes the toughest of waterproof makeup known to man, yet doesn't dry my eye area.
  3. John Frieda Precision Foam Colour: Okay, so I didn't need this quite yet, as I don't tend to dye my hair that frequently because the colour is close to my natural hair colour, just a bit richer..but when it's going for half price at Boots, a girl gotta stock up! (Note: the offer has now changed to 3 for 2 across haircare, both instore and online.) Again, like with the eye makeup remover, this is now the only dye I use, it's just bloody brilliant. (And one bottle still manages to cover my rather long hair.)
  4. Tresemme Heat Defence Spray: The only heat defence that doesn't leave my hair feeling weighed down or with any residue once dried, and certainly keeps my hair in tip-top condition, that's for sure, even with all the blow drying, straightening, curling and updo-ing for work. Also, a bottle lasts me ages, even with my thick, long hair so it's definitely worth its price.
  5. Aussie Miracle Moist Shampoo and Conditioner: I briefly mentioned in an old monthly favourites post that I was loving this range, and I'm still using these shampoos and conditioners with no build-up, and just like the Tresemme, I'm sure these are helping my hair to stay healthy. (The reason I keep saying this is because I haven't had my hair cut in over eight months..naughty, I know, but no split ends or visible damage whatsoever *touch wood*..I just want it to groooooooow!)
  6. VO5 High Volume Hairspray: I only started to use this after Tanya Burr used it in a hair tutorial she did based on a Blake Lively updo, and I love it! It doesn't leave my hair feeling tacky or crispy, yet it has brilliant hold in both everyday wear and extreme hold for updo's, curls, etc. It brushes out super easy too, doesn't dry my hair out..it's just fab, and it's relatively cheap too.
  7. Garnier Ultimate Blends Dry Shampoo: I'm not a regular user of dry shampoo, but I had been using one of the Tresemme ones, which was fab, but at over £5 a pop, I didn't want to be paying that much, so this one caught my eye, as it specified that it leaves no residue: essential for my dark locks! Let's just hope it lives up to that promise..I can't tell you how much I dislike the Batiste ones, both the smell and the colour it leaves my hair..nope, just nope, even the ones made specifically for "brunette" hair.
  1. Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Luminous Lipgloss: At work, our No7 counter is right next to the Elizabeth Arden counter, so when their Untold Colour Collection (Autumn Collection) launched, this instantly caught my eye, as it was so different to anything I had seen before: an almost neon violet-purple with flecks of glitter that the light captures and reflects beautifully..I can't wait to use this to "jujz" up any drab autumn days.
  2. Topshop Nails: A girl can never have too many nail polishes, right? After going on holiday with some of my girl friends and seeing the brilliant quality of the Topshop nail varnishes firsthand, I was won over and finally took the plunge with a gorgeous, almost mustard yellow by the name of "Carnival", which doesn't seem to be on the website, but I think it's perfect to brighten up an autumnal day.
  3. Real Techniques Mini Brush Trio and Miracle Complexion Sponge: I am a HUGE lover of the Real Techniques brushes, for both personal use and work use, I recommend them to anyone and everyone! But I knew I had to add to my collection, and the mini trio are just too cute to dismiss, although I might not use them as they are intended, as long as they do the job I have in mind..especially the sponge, I have only heard good things about this, and although I never use a sponge (I love my brushes too much) I am intrigued to see if this can actually live up to the hype and give just as good a finish as my beloved Expert Face and Stippling Brushes can.
I also had a bit of a splurge in Primark..you've gotta take the bull by the horns, as they say, and it was my first visit to Manchester City Centre for quite a while so I ended up spending over £60 in there alone..! I do love that place! 
Is there anything in particular you like to treat yourself to come payday?