Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Benefit's New Brow Collection // My Picks

I’m very much a novice to the world of brows.  Mine have never been particularly unruly; they’re straight without much of an arch, and I only really pluck the occasional stray as I quite like the shape.  My main gripe with them is that they’re a bit on the thin side, and rather pale.  I’ve never been one for trends with anything really, and definitely not my eyebrows.  I remember when I was about thirteen and the in thing was incredibly thin, high arched eyebrows à la Angelina Jolie.  It wasn’t for me.  Now it’s all about fullness and shape, with razor sharp edges and brows completely filled in for that bit of oomph; still not very me.  I like my brows in their natural shape, and what I really want is something that will fill them out and tint them slightly.  The answer to most brow problems is supposed to be found at Benefit, and with the launch of their revamped collection, I decided to dive right in.  I put down my old brown eyeliner pencil and actually started to pay attention to my brows.

I picked up three products, KA-Brow! which is a brand new product to the collection described as an "eyebrow cream-gel colour" - whatever that means - in the shade 01.  Gimme Brow is a volumising eyebrow gel again in the shade 01 and sounded right up my street.  I also picked up the High Brow highlighter pencil, as I recently hit pan on the highlighter eyeshadow shade I was using previously.

Benefit KA-Brow! Review

KA-Brow! definitely has the prettiest packaging.  I love the theming of the new collection, with the silver and pink running throughout.  KA-Brow! just isn't for me though.  The design is innovative, with the top pulling out to convert into a proper little eyebrow brush, but I'm just too lazy for this product.  You build up coverage with short strokes in the direction of the hair growth and gradually work up to either a natural finish or keep going to make it more dramatic.  It just takes way too long!  I think that if you have a bit more going on the brow department this would work well, but for me just filling in took way too long.  The end result is worth it, but not for everday.  I'll be saving KA-Brow! for nights out.

Benefit Gimme Brow Review

Gimme Brow is my new favourite thing, and it will be mentioned in my next favourites post for sure.  It does everything I want for my brows, tinting them slightly while the micro-fibres build my brows' fullness.  I'm a little bit in love with it.  The best thing about it?  It takes hardly any time at all.  You use the brush like a little mascara wand, and the micro-fibres I hate in my mascara work wonders here.  It comes in three shades and if you're lazy and like your brows on the natural side, you need this.

Benefit High Brow Review

Having recently hit pan on the highlighter I've been using under my brows for yonks, I decided it was probably time I invested in something specifically for my underbrow area rather than using up all my highlighters.  High Brow is definitely the answer to that, as a creamy pencil formula in a light pink shade that blends out beautifully.  I considered the new High Brow Glow Brow pencil, but I don't really like a lot of shimmer under my brows as I feel it looks too artifical; on my cheekbones you can pile on the glitter if you want, anything to trick people into thinking that I actually have some.  

 Final Thoughts
Those are my picks from Benefit's revamped brow collection, and I have to admit that I'm loving it (McDonald's theme tune now stuck in everyone's heads for the rest of the day, sorry); Gimme Brow in particular works brilliantly for my needsI also wanted to try out the Goof Proof eyebrow pencil, but it wasn't available when I purchased these in the early sales a few weeks ago.  I'm really happy with all three of my picks, but I do think KA-Brow! is just too much like hard work for everyday use.

Have you tried any of the new collection and do you think I'm being a bit hard on KA-Brow? 

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Monday, 27 June 2016

13 Months; 13 Challenges - Introduction

In one month I will be twenty four.  TWENTY FOUR.  I am very aware that not long after that I'll be twenty five, and very quickly I'll be thirty.  I've done a lot in my life so far, but I'm notorious for not sticking to things, even I actually really enjoy them.  I've got thirteen months until I turn twenty five, and I've decided it's time I actually did some of the things I keep saying I'll do.  

The Plan
  • Try one hobby/learn one skill each month
  • I must work on it at least twice a week
  • I can continue hobbies after their month has ended, but not at the detriment to the next month's task
  • I will document my progress twice a month here, and daily on Twitter 
  • My success is determined not by how good I am at the end of the month, but if I really put effort into learn something new  

July: Mandarin Chinese
I started taking classes in Chinese several months ago but quit when I went through a period of upheaval in my personal life (see this post if you're nosey).  I'm no longer in a position to be able to resume those classes, but I still have all my textbooks and online resources.  I haven't cracked a book since I quit, but it's time that changed. 

Other Months 

I have a few vague ideas for other months; November will definitely be NaNoWriMo, and I fancy learning scuba diving, even if it's just at my local pool.  If anyone else has any suggestions, please let me know in the comments or through Twitter.  I may hold a poll every now and then so you can force me to attempt to learn something each month and then laugh at my suffering.

Documenting My Progress

I'll be writing blog posts twice a month on my progress, half way through and at the end, letting you know how I get on.  At the end of this, hopefully I'll have learned a tonne and found a hobby I adore.  Wish me luck and hit me up with your suggestions, as ridiculous or as dorky as you like.

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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Drugstore Beauty Haul June 2016

Last week I took a trip to Boots and Superdrug and walked out with several new bits and bobs that I haven't tried before, so I thought I'd share them all with you and let you know how I've been getting on.

I'm a big fan of Ruth Crilly's blog A Model Recommends as are we all, and have been wanting to try her dry shampoos for a while now.  I've been a Batiste girl all my life, but there's no denying that they do leave a hell of a lot of residue in the hair and I sometimes feel like it's not doing a great deal.  I picked up the new Active formula of Colab in Superdrug, and it has changed everything.  The active formula is supposed to be more robust than regular Colab dry shampoo, which means it does leave a little more residue.  Compared to Batiste though, this stuff is a miracle.  It leaves my hair looking refreshed and feeling clean in a way other dry shampoos don't and I'm in love.  There's also very little residue at all, so in the regular dry shampoos is must be non-existent.  The only downside to this product is that I find myself using quite a lot of it on my hella greasy hair, but as it's pretty cheap (currently reduced to £2.66 from £3.99) this doesn't bother me.  Come winter when I'm less sweaty and gross I'll be trying out the other formulas.

Colab Active Dry Shampoo Review

I've always applied my liquid foundation with either a beauty blender or my fingertips, and consdering the amount of beauty blenders (and money) I go through I decided it was time for a change.  I decided to have a go at applying with a foundation brush, but not being sure that I would like the method and finish I didn't want to spend a small fortune on a MAC 190SH (I like a short handle) I thought I'd start out with a budget version.  I picked up the Superdrug Foundation brush for £3.99 and it's not bad for that price!  I'm really liking applying my foundation with a brush, although I'll probably still hang onto my beauty blender for a while.  As brushes go, this one is okay, but while cleansing I was worried about losing fibres in the process as the whole thing didn't feel particularly well made.  It's serving its purpose for now though, until I can save up for that MAC brush!

I've been avoiding thinking about my makeup brushes and the bacteria that undoubtedy lies within, and comforting myself with the knowledge that I mostly use a beauty blender and my fingertips anyway so it can't be that bad.  As I decided to give applying my foundation with a brush a whirl I finally conceded that it was time I gave everything a good clean.  I'm kind of poor right now so didn't want to splash out, which is the main reason I picked up this particular cleanser.  You simply spritz the brush a few times then massage the cleanser into the bristles with a clean tissue, and it does work pretty well.  It's nothing fancy, but it seems to do the job.

My last pressed powder ran out a while back, and with the arrival of summer and even more sun cream than normal I'm really feeling the need for a powder to take some of the shine off.  I've used this powder before and it does the job beautifully while only costing £3.99.

Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Lipsticks

I've been loving my MAC Patent Polish in Clever lately, and enjoying the moisturising effects of it being slightly glossy.  Since most of my lipsticks are very much on the matte side of things, this is something of a revelation.  I'd heard good things about the Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker range and decided to see how they compare.  I bought the Gloss Stick in Pink Punch and as I didn't fancy any of the other colours available I'm afraid I also picked up the Matte version in Ember Red - I just really love a matte lip!  Both of the sticks are highly pigmented, which wasn't actually what I was after but I've found myself liking the colour payoff.  The gloss isn't too sticky and the shade is really flattering and I've been wearing it quite a lot.  It lasts fairly well for a gloss stick and I'm enjoying wearing it.  The matte stick however didn't impress me as much.  The formula felt almost plasticky and didn't feel great on the lips, but the colour was lovely and vibrant.  It does need a lipliner with it though, as it wears off pretty quickly.  At £3.50 each though, that's not half bad!

Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Review

 So those are the few bits I picked up in Boots and Superdrug!  I was also after a cheap contour shade for pale skin; I'm thinking more grey than brown, but had no luck.  If anyone has any suggestions, hit me up in the comments!


Thursday, 23 June 2016

New Zealand // Why I Want To Go Back

In February 2015, I finally found my favourite place in the world.  Unfortunately, it just so happens to be as far as physically possible from my hometown while still being on Earth.  That's right, it's New Zealand, and I have to go back.

A friend from university had long since wanted to go to New Zealand, primarily for Lord of the Rings geekiness purposes, and I volunteered myself as travelling companion and general nuisance.  I'm a pretty big LOTR fan myself, and an even bigger fan of travel and new places, so I was pretty damn excited about the trip.  I'd travelled with Matt, my uni friend, when we went with a few other to Egypt for a study tour in our second year, but we'd never spent that much time alone together.  As it happens, he reminds me of my brother, and we get along like a house on fire.  The best thing about travelling with Matt is he's super into hyper-organising things, so I don't have to do anything but agree to stuff and show up when he tells me to - my kind of holiday.  

I had high expectations of New Zealand; we've all seen the panoramic shots in LOTR, The Chronicles of Narnia and countless other movies.  New Zealand blew my preconceived ideal out of the water: it was even better.

I've gathered a some of my favourite photographs from that trip to illustrate far better than I can just why I love this country so damn much.  This post pretty picture heavy, but it could have been far worse as I took almost four thousand pictures over the course of the holiday.  I haven't put them all in, I promise...

North Island

Auckland is New Zealand's largest city, and is the business hub of the country. I found it to be a city of clashing cultures, with fish and chip shops next to sushi restaurants.  New Zealand in general is like this, but there was a greater Asia influence on the North Island and in Auckland in particular.  Also, Auckland has the best bus service ever.  Matt claims I'm exaggerating, but seriously, you could jump on a bus and go around the whole city centre for the equivalent of about 25p. 

Selfie included because I think it looks like the cover of a bad indie album.
 ~Hobbiton Interlude~
GUYS. Hobbiton is real.  Like, actually real.  I've been there and I've drunk the cider in The Green Dragon. The whole place is incredible and immaculately maintained by an army of gardeners, and was a verdant paradise during North Island's drought.  Cue lots of pictures of hobbit holes.


Wellington is known as The Windy City, and on our first night there we got a taste of why.  A sea breeze that blew us backwards and whipped my hair up, late at night on the harbour front with Matt desperately trying to get a panoramic shot of Wellington at night.  I spent a good half hour laughing at the wind, leaping and running like I was five years old again, and feeling completely and utterly at home.  We feasted on some seriously incredible fish and chips, and I fell in love with the city.  That night is quite possibly my happiest memory. 

Our geekiest tour was definitely this one is Wellington.  The sign translates as "Come, walk this path to Rivendell".  If you're not a LOTR fan you may not understand the reference in the odd looking horse photograph, but it's a recreation of a famous scene from the Fellowship of the Ring.  The horse is comprised of three members of our tour group, and they struggle to hold the horse for long because we were all laughing so hard.
Before catching our evening flight to Nelson, we took a trip to the Zealandia National Park, which is about twenty minutes outside of Wellington.  You see that weird looking bird?  That's a Takahe, one of the rarest birds in the world and Matt and I spent ages looking for them, having been assured that they were very shy and not often spotted in the park.  Where did we find them?  Chilling with the ducks.

South Island


We didn't spend long in Nelson, which although technically being a city, has a very small town feel.  I felt it was a little quiet, preferring Wellington, but it suited Matt down to the ground.  The main reason we came to Nelson though, was a really amazing helicopter tour.  If you've never been in a helicopter, they're amazing, unless you get travel sick.
Oh, you're wondering why the picture of the duck?  Because this little shit sat on my back and then pecked my legs.  I was attempting to get some pictures of some more unusual avians and ended up lying in the grass for 45 minutes, and several local ducks decided I either looked comfortable or tasty.  


Our visit to Christchurch was extremely emotional.  Devastated by earthquakes in 2011, much of the city centre was still, four years later, in ruins.  The city still functions, as the suburbs were mostly untouched, but the city centre is still strange.  We struggled to find anywhere to eat at night as many of the restaurants had been destroyed and business had yet to move back to the centre.  It felt wrong to take photographs of a city with its soul torn out, especially after visiting the QuakeCity exhibition, which left me in tears and Matt not far off.  As a result, all of my photos are from our 4X4 tour out to Edoras and Helm's Deep.  The tour was the absolute highlight of the holiday, due to the spectacular scenery and the guides, Phil and Sandi, who are incredible people.  Seriously, if you're going to NZ and are anywhere near Christchurch, check them out.    

I actually really want to go back to Christchurch, because despite the horror of the earthquakes, the whole city felt hopeful.  There was a real sense of them starting again, and looking forward to it.


Dunedin was probably my least favourite city on our whirlwind tour, but it was let down in part by the weather.  While it brightened up for our drive to Queenstown, our day or so in the city itself was pretty dreary.  The city itself was oddly familiar in parts, as it is heavily based on Edinburgh which I know well.  There's ever a statue or Robbie Burns in the town square which amused me to no end! 

Queenstown is easily the most beautiful city we visited.  While the vibe wasn't very me, lots of backpackers and not much culture, I still look at these photographs and can't quite believe they're real.  

 So there you have it!  I'm in love, and it's with a country on the other side of the planet.  If you ever get the chance to go to New Zealand, do it!  It's Scotland on steroids, and huge mishmash of cultures and has the friendliest people I've ever met - and I've met a lot of people.

I hope you enjoyed this post; I'm aware it's quite different to my usual things, but I have travelled quite a lot so I may do more posts like this (although perhaps not quite as long winded).

P.S. I hate ducks now.

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