Items I’ve purchased after trying a free sample!

I’ve mentioned this in many of my blogs before, but thought it would be interesting to actually look at some items that I have then gone on to buy full size after trying a free sample.

Never underestimate the power of clever marketing. As a makeup or skincare brand, you are competing in a saturated market, with many of your competitors always trying to find that ‘next big thing’. You just have to look at the unicorn craze of last summer to see this in action. Most of the bigger YouTube influencers are sick of reviewing anything remotely unicorn related now, case in point of what I’m saying. However, there are still brands bringing out unicorn themed products, but looking for a twist. Be it ‘festival’ vibes or even slaying the unicorn to bring a darker theme to the products (unicorn blood, tears, snot as examples).

My blog isn’t about unicorns, mermaids or any other mythical character though. It’s about how clever marketing and product placement caused me to go big. The clever marketing in this case is the use of free samples and minis of a product. So which ones caused me to ‘go big’? Read on to find out.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream

Awesome product. At £70 I had to know it was good before I purchased. So I went into CT in London and I asked for a sample. They kindly gave me a few so I had a good 5 days worth of trying. I absolutely loved this cream. It is so luxurious on the skin, thick without being heavy and sinks in like butter. My skin glowed afterwards and my makeup glided on. Purchased without hesitation. Would I have bought it without trying it first? No. It’s too expensive to risk. Would I buy it again? Absolutely, I’m hooked.

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye

A restorative concentrate that you apply to your under eye over night. You wake in the morning to less puffy and a smoother area. Hydrating and refreshing. This I am trying currently after being given some samples at the airport when buying something else. So far it feels lovely. It definitely leaves my under eye smoother and I feel fresher. I will keep you posted on this, but I think I will be purchasing the full size version of this.

Benefit Porefessional Primer

This was given to me in Sephora after having my eyebrows waxed. It sat in the back of my drawer for ages. Then I needed something small to pack in my bag for an overnight stay. I grabbed it and thought no more of it until the next morning. Then I tried it! Wow! This little tube of loveliness blurred my pores and my makeup glided on brilliantly. I used the little tube up over the next couple of days and then popped by Sephora and bought a full size product.

Too Faced, Better Than Sex Mascara

This little beauty was given to me at the Too Faced store in London. I used it and loved it. I have such small lashes and couldn’t believe how the formula grabbed the little wispy ones in the corner and gave them some dynamic. Some reviews I read said that it left their eyelashes clumpy, which had put me off. How glad was I that I got to try the sample for myself. I use this mascara most days now.

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel

After trying this as a free sample about 2 years ago, I bought the full size version and have never looked back. I use this every single day to wash my face. It makes my face feel really clean and cleansed. The lightness of the gel is perfect and it never irritates. This brand has my loyalty for life after just one little sample showed me the way.

So there you have it. Some of the samples that have made it into my full size products. Never say no to a sample! You never know where it will take you.

Have a great day!

Interview Makeup

So this week I have an interview, and no matter the outcome, I look forward to being able to wear my ‘interview makeup’. What is so different to everyday makeup I hear you ask? The main difference is the confidence that it can instill in you.

You want your makeup to be professional yet give the coverage to get you through the process without the need to touch it up.

Below are my top 5 interview proof makeup favourites:

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation (my shade is 5 medium).

This foundation is full coverage and sits beautifully on the skin. Once setting has occurred, the oxidization leaves your complexion looking matte with a slight dewy finish. I love this foundation. It plays really well in the interview mix.

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer (I wear a mix of light and light medium):

Still the best and the coverage is photo finish filtered. If, like me, you spend the night before a big interview laying awake pondering all the different scenarios, then Shape Tape is the way forward. The consistency is light yet full coverage and really does cover dark circles and imperfections.

Urban Decay Naked Palette:

My go to palette for interviews or big days at work. The gorgeous array of neutral browns in matte textures, blends beautifully and you can create a professional yet dynamic eye with this palette alone. No need to dip into anything else. It also lasts all day and stays fresh looking.


No matter where you are, you can never have enough sharp and blinding highlight. My new favorite is the ABH Amrezy highlight. You can tone it down, or if you need an extra little pop, layering it on. An alternative if you don’t have the inclination for something quite so striking is the Huda Beauty Pink Sands 3D highlighter in Santorini.

Lip stick!

A slick of good lipstick can make anyone feel confident. In my interview I want my lips to feel hydrated and look awesome! My interview lipstick of choice is a Mac lipstick in the shade ‘Angel’. It’s a gorgeous shade and isn’t too much.

There we have it!

An interview is obviously so much more than just a face of makeup, but it sure helps the process along!

Charlotte Tilbury Haul

I love Charlotte Tilbury products! The quality of them and the way they look and feel on the skin is just pure class. Therefore I was so excited to have time this week to visit the concession stand in Selfridges (London) and check out what’s new and what I’d like to try. I would have loved to get to the CT boutique in Covent Garden, but it wasn’t to be this time. Selfridges is a great second to the actual store though, and the service is second to none.

I’ve used the Magic Foundation in 5 medium before and loved it, but I had recently run out. So I decided to pick up another bottle of that. I love the coverage this foundation gives me, and they gave me some free samples of the primer to try with it too. I will do a day test of both the foundation with the primer very soon.

I also was drawn to the Magic Cream. It is an iconic part of the Charlotte Tilbury brand. Some would say what made the name a household name. I’ve always wanted to try it, but at £70 a jar I had to wait. It is boasted on the website as being loved by models and celebrities and claims to lift your complexion. I’ve tried many samples of the cream and the hyaluronic acid part is what interested me being over 35 and always looking for the next best thing to beat those pesky wrinkles. So I decided that I was going to invest in my face for research purposes (at least that is the story I’m sticking to if my husband asks). I have purchased the cream and I can’t wait to blog on how it works out for me.

The other items I was keen to get my hands on were the new lipstick shades. I adore the gold luxurious packaging of the Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks. They have a special edition shade to commemorate the Queen and her long serving monarchy, called, funnily enough, ‘The Queen’. It is a rich warm pink matte revolution shade that I cannot wait to try. I also purchased the returning favourite of the limited edition

K. I. S. S. I. N. G. Lipstick, ‘The Duchess’ (which you can see me wearing in the photo below). This is a beautifully buttery lipstick with a gorgeous sheen. It is named after the stunning Kate Middleton. I wore it to a glam event last night and loved the way it finished my look. I also picked up a couple of the soft lip pencils. These glide on and are the perfect compliment to the lipsticks.

The lovely thing about Charlotte Tilbury is the freebies you get when you purchase a substantial amount from them. Good size travel items too. This time I got a mask, a primer and a cleanser to try out. I also got some little sachets of magic eye rescue cream that I am keen to try. I’ve said this before in my previous blogs, but always ask for free samples. Some of my favourite products have been discovered through free samples.

So there we have it and I can’t wait to try it all out. Keep your eyes on the blog for future looks and tests of all these products.

Have a great day.

Too Faced Cosmetics – London Haul

Being in London this week, it seemed rude not to visit the new Too Faced store on Carnaby Street. I am not going to lie, as I got ready to leave the hotel to find the store I was very excited. I had seen the lavish launch all over Instagram back in December, and I was keen to see it in person.

The store itself did not disappoint. You can’t miss it gleaming and glittering in the dingy February gloom. I have to say that Carnaby Street is the perfect location for the brand, it is trendy and laid back in the same breath. The narrow pedestrian style street allows for the wow factor to sink in as you aren’t disturbed by the general hustle and bustle of London. Although I did visit at 10am on a Thursday morning, so Carnaby street was still pretty much sleeping.

The shop itself is beautifully laid out with all the products clearly categorised by theme and I particularly liked the ‘Jerrod Blandino favourites’ at the back of the store, that weren’t Too Faced, but products by other less known brands that were being promoted. This certainly worked on me as you will find out later!

The staff welcomed me warmly. I was served by a lovely Canadian MUA, who didn’t follow me around, but asked if I needed any assistance. I asked her for a couple of products I wanted to look at and she helped me immediately. My main reason for being there was to get colour matched for Born This Way foundation. The lady asked if I would like my whole face done with the product. This was fantastic and I got the opportunity to try some of the other products too, which in turn lead to me buying extra products. She talked me through what she was using and why it was good for my skin tone, texture etc. she used some of the rose oil that was in the Jerrod favourite section as well as the hangover primer. My skin felt and looked amazing, so this little bit of detail had me sold on the product. The MUAs in the store were both so knowledgeable and represented the brand professionally. A definite plus to my experience in the shop.

The Born This Way foundation was matched perfectly and I have to say, having worn it for the rest of the day it stayed flawless. It has more of a natural coverage to it, rather than full coverage. However it is very build-able and so it could be made more full coverage. The setting spray was the hangover 3 in 1 product, which has a light fresh smell and also found its way into my shopping bag.

I had a wonderful time in the Too Faced store. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is looking for a lovely shopping experience. We spend our time online so much, sometimes some interaction with other makeup lovers is the perfect way to discover new products that we might not have known about. I would also recommend this to both experienced makeup lovers as well as anyone new to makeup and who wants a really good steer on what to get.

My final purchases were:

⁃ Born This Way foundation in Light Beige

⁃ Hangover 3 in 1 spray

⁃ Too Faced Chocolate Gold palette

⁃ Better Than Sex Mascara

⁃ Glow Job Face Mask

⁃ Aerin Rose Oil

– Peach Perfect Matifying Loose Setting Powder

Travelling light … what’s in my travel makeup bag?

Following on from my last blog, where I talked about my top 5 makeup picks, I got to thinking about my upcoming trip to London and what I’m going to take with me. I always carry a little makeup bag in my hand luggage wherever I go, and the mini makeup kit I’m about to share actually was all I had when I went to Baku late last year. I travelled with just a back pack and this makeup bag saw me through the 4 days I was there.

SOS … send supplies.

Iconic pigment sticks are my first absolute life savers when it comes to traveling light. These little beauties can be used as foundation, concealer and contour. That’s exactly how I used them in Baku, and the coverage is just right. To deepen up that contour and give some definition, a teeny tiny Hoola soft matte bronzer from Benefit does the job. It even comes with a tiny little brush applicator (not that I would use that, I took a mini Sephora brush kit instead). Blush, I travel with a Sephora own brand duo in a pink and a apricot colour, they also double as eye shadow and work a treat. My eye pencil is a mini from Makeup Forever called Aqua XL in jet black. It’s soft and blend-able, so you can still get that smokey eye.

The little palette you can see in the picture is just lush! It’s one of the Tarteist pro to go palettes in mini version. The colours are beautiful, with a mix of neutrals in matte mixed with some shimmer shades to pick up a day to night look. Totally blends out and you can create more than one look with this little palette. She may be little, but she is fierce! For mascara I have a couple of minis in the bag, one being the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes in black, and the other being the Benefit Roller Lash, also in black. You can never have too many mini mascaras in your travel bag.

The skincare routine I travel with is a mix of my favourite Lancôme goodies. Whenever I buy a new full size product, I ask for free samples and save them for travel purposes. Don’t be scared to ask when you buy products for samples. Some of my best beauty discoveries over the years have come from free samples. I would love to know what’s in your makeup travel bag. Any beauty hacks that you always use when traveling? One thing that isn’t in my bag (yet), but will be is a small tub of Vaseline. It acts as a lip balm, eye makeup remover and is great on dry skin after being in the aircraft cabin for hours. Have a great day!

Skin and Haircare favourites

Being over 35 (did I mention that), I have tried and tested so many products over the years. Some failed dreadfully, some tagged along for a while, whereas others stayed for the long haul. I used to be a slave to the familiar when it came to skincare, not in the actual ritual of taking care of my skin, that has never wavered, I mean in the sense of sticking religiously to the same products. Even when I knew it was game over deep down for a product, due to a change in my skin or the product just wasn’t working like it used to, I would cling on as it was familiar and safe. I think fondly of my Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream as I type this. I loved the smell, the texture, the way my 20 something skin felt when I used it. Even early 30 something me still reached for the tube everyday, despite my beautician telling me that I needed to progress to something a little more substantial for my skin type. I would promise I would change, but every time a tube ran out, there I was on the Dermalogica website ordering more. However, I have to say that I did manage to move on from this amazing product last year, and despite having half a tube in the back of a drawer (for old times sake), I no longer use it. You can do it, you just have to know what you are moving on to.

As I move into 2018 and I do my annual reflection on the year gone and what’s to come, I decided this year to extend my reflection to what has worked well for me in health, beauty and wellness this year. So, here I am, having spent the last week putting together this list of what comes with me and what I am leaving in 2017 (and probably should have been left in 2015 if I’m being completely honest with myself).

As always with these things, it is a personal account of what I love, and might not be to everyone’s taste.

Kiehls Amino Acid Shampoo & Conditioner.

I have such fine hair and not much of it. I have been diagnosed with a severe B12 deficiency and a slight Vitamin D one too. I live in the sunshine, so the D diagnosis was surprising. Nothing some shots can’t fix every now and then though. But the limp, fine hair was seriously starting to do my head in (no pun intended). I use Nanogen shampoo and conditioner every time I wash my hair, as it is designed for people with thinning hair. But every week, I treat myself once with a lovely hair wash with Kiehls.

It says on the website:

  • Creates a rich, creamy lather for a delightful shampoo experience
  • A special blend of moisturising ingredients imparts softness and shine as the formula adds body and fullness
  • Suitable for all hair and scalp types when mildness is desired
  • A customer favourite

I have to agree, my hair feels so soft, full and bouncy after using this. The coconut oil I am sure plays a big part in the softness. I am not sure if it will be as effective on shorter hair as it really does leave everything so soft, the structured style type of person might not like it as much.

L’OCCITANE Precious Cleansing Foam

I absolutely adore this cleanser. It is light, luxurious, and does the job. My skin feels clean and soft after every use. The smell is divine and the pump delivers a generous helping of the liquid in a rich foam.

I have used this for about a year now, it is a firm favourite and I have also delved into other L’Occitane products after using this one.

One their website it says:

“L’Occitane revealed the exceptional anti-ageing powers of immortelle – an essential oil proven to enhance circulation, protect against free radicals and increase collagen synthesis”.

I am not 100% what the immortelle is, but it seems to be doing its job on my skin.

Eau Thermale Avene Mousse Cleansing Foam

Another favourite of mine. Amazing for sensitive skin and even though it is pretty pricey, it is totally worth it. The glutamic acid is an active ingredient and this matifys the skin, taking away redness and soothing.

On the website it says: “Formulated for normal to combination sensitive skin, Cleansing Foam gently cleanses and removes make-up from the face and eyes”.

It does exactly what it says, with a lovely scent. I highly recommend this product.

L’Occitane Immortelle Oil Makeup Remover

Anti aging properties, the oil really removes every last trace of makeup. I love using it after a full on face of makeup on a night out. It takes everything off. The texture of the oil is lovely and has a great scent. My skin feels smooth and well cleansed afterwards.

Sephora Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes

These are the best things I’ve ever used to take off my makeup. They are so refreshing and the smell is absolutely gorgeous. The quality of the actual wipe is soft and thick. Some of the wipes I’ve used in the past feel very flimsy and the product isn’t really saturated into it. These wipes are different. They are inexpensive and feel luxurious on the skin. They remove everyday makeup and leave my skin hydrated.

Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel

An oldie but still a goodie … my smoothing cream might have evolved but this Cleansing gel is still my everyday go to. The gel pumps out and then once water hits it, froths up leaves my skin clean and smooth. The scent doesn’t overpower, and it is just a lovely fresh cleaning agent for the skin. Clearing away makeup residues is the best thing. I love having a fresh face!

There are some more to add to this list, but where does it end. I could easily keep going, but I need to be strict with my absolute go to, everyday routine products. I will continue to reflect on my favourite moisturiser, serums, eye creams and primers in a later blog.

Now onto what I am leaving behind in 2017. Some of the items on this list have been a long time coming, but I feel that writing it down finalises its demise.

Bare Minerals Pure Plush Gentle Deep Cleansing Foam

This product is just too harsh for my skin. The citric smell is too overpowering and it leaves my skin dry and tight. I did persevere with it for a good 2 months, and I have gone back to it a few times to test it again. Alas, it just isn’t for me.

Hollywood California Glam Glow Thirsty Mud Mask

This is a controversial choice I understand, but it just isn’t for me. I find the way it sits on my skin just too sticky and heavy. It stings as well, which I am sure isn’t right. I just don’t feel that for the price that this is a product that I can recommend.

Dove Cleansing Bar

This was one of my quickie makeup removers. I used it so many times over the years, going through bars of the stuff. But, it is no more. I have to let it go. It’s basically like using a harsh soap on my skin these days and I can’t do that anymore.

So there you have it. My go to products and some that I’m leaving in 2017. I would be very interested to know what products you like to use.