Monday, 27 December 2010

Body Shop Body Butters just got SUPERSIZED!

I don't know anyone who doesn't love these body butters - there's a scent for everyone and I often stock up when there's a promotion on, for myself and for gifts for family and friends.  I've never complained about the size of the tub, they've always seemed generous to me (tell a lie, I have complained but it involved me being extremely silly, forgetting hand luggage regulations at airports, and me sobbing as I had to throw away my Almond tub, no longer made).

The Body Shop have now gone one step further on the good value path and SUPERSIZED their body butters.  Not by an extra 10%, not even by 50%, by a whopping 100%!  That's 400ml of glorious goodness just waiting to be snapped up and slathered on!

Special Purchase 400ml Body Butter now available for just £12.50 >

That's right girlies, it's the SAME price - £12.50! 

And they didn't stop there:

A large 750ml bottle (with pump) of shower gel for £9.50 - available in Strawberry, Coconut, Moringa, Olive, Satsuma and Pink Grapefruit.

Sadly, the supersized body butters are only available in Coconut, Shea, Satsuma and Mango.  I was sorely tempted by them all, particularly when the sales assistant informed me that they were offering "buy 3 sale items, get the 4th free".  But I managed to resist and plumped for the Mango one, as I'd not tried that before.  Also you would have thought that they'd have had the same scents in the large shower gels as the supersized body butters but unfortunately not!

But these big treats are still getting a big thumbs up from me!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Taking you back to 17th March 2007

Day 1

Current mood:hot
We arrived in the Philippines with a bump, jostling us awake from the first good sleep we'd had in hours.  Up at on the Friday to straighten my hair for the last time for 3 weeks, I still hadn't managed to get 40 winks, even on the 12 hour 45 min flight from Heathrow to Singapore. 

The journey hadn't exactly got off to a good start; almost as soon as we walked into the departure lounge at Heathrow, Grace heard a cafĂ© staff member dressed as a clown telling people that everyone needed to evacuate the area.  Not exactly a very funny clown-like thing to say, Grace thought, and we carried on wandering through a crowd of people before realizing that the fire alarm was ringing and we were meant to be walking in the opposite direction to evacuate.  Shops were closing their shutters and I reminded myself that I really must listen to the messages they put over the tannoy.  People didn't seem to be panicking so we simply followed the crowd.  5 mins later of going in one direction, we stopped a woman who worked at the airport and she hadn't a clue that we had all been evacuated – I came to the conclusion that the fire alarm had probably been set off by burnt toast in one of the cafes.  So we went back and straight to our gate to avoid any further confusion!

So from Heathrow to Singapore we had gone and from Singapore to Manila – all without a hitch.  Singapore airport was more than immaculate, with a toilet attendant literally waiting outside my cubicle so she could clean it the moment I stepped out to wash my hands.  Didn't see lots of men with guns, as per a friend's warning but I did see free internet, free ESPN (not showing bball…typical!) and a sign pointing us in the direction of free massage chairs in the "Oasis" – unfortunately we didn't manage to go there as we were short of time but definitely a must for on the way back!!!

Manila is where the trouble started.  Knowing we had only 2 hours to get off the plane, wait for and collect our suitcases, find and get a taxi to a different terminal (in a language we can't speak – not easy!), check in and actually board the next plane, Grace and I were ready for action as if we were about to start a race!  As always, baggage collection seemed to take forever but we were getting into a taxi outside the airport within 45 mins.  Then we realized that the driver didn't have enough money to give us change from a 1000 peso bill for a 150 peso fare.  All of our money was in 1000 peso bills so it was the smallest amount we had!  The driver obviously didn't want to rip us off and take the money and people at the new terminal were no help – so we ended up giving him a 200% tip (350 pesos) but soon got over our feeling generous after realizing how little that is actually worth in sterling (1000 pesos is about the equivalent to a tenner)!

Inside the terminal, it seemed pretty clear – on the screen it stated our flight number and check-in desks 17-25 so we queued for desks 17-18 as they looked like the shortest queues.  At 14.55 we were finally at the front of the queue after waiting for about an hour (and the plane estimated time of departure was 15.10) we were informed we had missed the last call and had to go wait in another queue to speak to a girl in charge.  
Then baggage was overweight and Grace had to go wait in a THIRD queue to pay for it and wait for the check-in girl to write a long hand-written receipt, whilst  I stood my ground at the other check-in desk.  Finally given boarding passes.
Then we had to pay 200 pesos each at another desk, for some official reason that I can't recall. 
Finally dashed into the departure lounge to look at the screens to find out what gate to go to…
And the plane was delayed for another hour and ten mins.  After all that.
We actually had to wait for 1hr 15mins before we were even allowed to board!  In that time we experienced our 1st black out – it only lasted several seconds but after our panicking earlier, we could only laugh rather than join in with the collective gasp that sounded the lounge.

Being separated on the final flight wasn't worrying as it was only for about an hour.  I was sat next to an old Filipino lady (btw I was one of about 5 white passengers, not something I usually notice or care about but it's quite strange for me to see that many Filipinos all on one plane!).  The old lady did attempt to speak a few words of English to me – and the guilt that I had been dreading for weeks of not learning the language of the country that I'm visiting washed over me, it's pretty shameful that I can only say a couple of words and I hate my own ignorance…

At Tacloban airport we were accosted by several men who wanted us to pay them to dive into the crowd that was fighting to get to the heap of suitcases that had been dumped in the middle of the terminal – no baggage carousel here!  A sign saying WELCOME JOY & GRACE was held up outside in the dark, by Lorena and Natasha.  Introductions were made and then we were taken for our very first ride in a jeepney…

I wish...

...I had learned how to do a fishtail plait in my hair before I got it all chopped off last month!

They're very boho, I love them!  I think they would work better on longer hair - and I had almost waist length hair until last month when I had 6 inches chopped off! 

Are they very difficult to do?

I watched a few YouTube videos and discovered FoxyLocksExtensions - she does fab tutorials, and is super stunning!

Diane Kruger's hair in the last picture doesn't look very long - I may be able to have a go in several weeks!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Accessorize With Love Gift Set £4.99

Superdrug are currently offering this Accessorize gift set for £4.99 - half price!

Accessorize With Love Cosmetic Gift
It contains an palette of 12 intense eye shadows, false eyelashes, and a lipgloss.  Unfortunately the Superdrug website doesn't tell or show you what colours are in the palette so it's a bit of lucky dip - there is a picture in an advert in the paper today but it's difficult to make the colours out.

I think it would make a nice little gift for someone - perhaps you're doing Secret Santa for someone and have a fiver limit?

Also, it's 3 for 2 and there's a large range to choose from, it's not just Accessorize items.  I also like the look of these:
Thai Spa Luxury Gift Box
Thai Spa Luxury Gift Box WAS 19.99, now 9.99

Eylure Girls Aloud Eyelashes Set
Eylure Girls Aloud Eyelashes Set WAS 19.99, NOW 14.99

Naturals Coconut & Shea Butter Biscuit Tin
Naturals Coconut & Shea Butter Biscuit Tin WAS 6.99, NOW 4.99

Butterfly Lights
Butterfly Lights 7.99

I'm starting to wonder if the early bird always does catch the worm, when it comes to Christmas present shopping!  Do we just catch a pricier worm?!

Mad Men - Has it passed by anyone else?

There's been a lot of buzz around Mad Men in magazines and blogs, and glowing reports of a "real woman" with curves starring in this 1960's New York drama - but I have never managed to catch an episode.  Not only that, I've never even seen a trailer for it so that I don't even know what channel it's on!  From what I can gather, it's looks super stylish and has inspired a lot of vintage-lovers.  I just love the fact that it's starring Christina Hendricks, a voluptuous redhead - much more authentic, in my opinion.  I liked her in Kevin Hill, a legal drama starring the gorgeous Taye Diggs, which was cancelled after the first series.  It is likely that she will become one of my style icons!  Watch this space!

Here's some Mad Men images that intrigue me:

Has anyone actually caught an episode of this?  Have I missed out on something special?  Somebody please tell me when it's next on!

Sales Secrets of a Shopaholic

It happens all too often, I'm hoping I'm not the only one.  A week after payday - bank balance zero... Or worse, it has that dreaded minus sign before the figure.

Fortunately, all my Christmas presents had been purchased over the past few months so there would be no last minute panic buying on the early payday two days before Christmas.

Unfortunately, the minus bank balance + 2 1/2 weeks till the next payday = no shopping for me.  =DISASTER!  I am feeling some withdrawal symptoms of steering clear of the stores and feel most weepy as I mournfully browse ASOS, knowing I cannot proceed to checkout.

I cannot wait until the sales!  But unless I want to quickly revert back to the minus in the long 5 week month of January, I must have a gameplan, and I'm going to share my tips with you girlies:

1. Set yourself a budget
Boring, I know but it's easy to get carried away then, before you know it, back into debt from those spontaneous splurges.  Set yourself a limit and draw out that amount of cash - research has shown that it's harder for us to hand over the physical cash, than hand over a credit/debit card.

2. Early bird catches the worm
That old saying has a lot of truth to it.  I'm sure the people that get up to go to Next sales at 5'o'clock in the morning get some right bargains.  Personally that's a tad too early for me, but the principle is important all the same.  And no dithering!  Your first instinct of "oooooh, that's nice" is a strong reaction - if you umm and ahhh too much and leave it while you look around and have a think, you will miss out!  And if you're anything like me, you'll obsess about it and kick yourself for weeks to come about that one that got away.

3. Plan your route
I don't mean get a list of directions off the AA website, I mean have a think about which shops you want to go to first and what they're closest to so you're not going back and forth and wasting time trying to make your way through the crowds.  Get to your first choice before the shop opens so you can quickly nip in as soon as possible, get your shoes (see no. 4 below!) and get to the till so you can move on to the next shop.

4. Shoes, glorious shoes!
As a standard UK size 5, sometimes 6, I almost never find decent shoes in the sales.  Has anyone else noticed shoes in the sales are pretty much either a teeny size 3 or a large size 8?  5's and 6's must be the first to go.  My tip is to go try the shoes you have your eye on a week or so before the sales start, so that as soon as the shop shutters raise, you can make a beeline straight for your correct size and don't have to faff about with taking a seat, taking your socks off etc - you can take them straight to the tills before anyone else grabs them.  Remember, the best time to try shoes on is in the evening as your feet tend to swell slightly as the day goes on.

5. Dress accordingly
I personally hate trying things on instore - the changing rooms in high street shops can be grotty to say the least, with chewing gum stuck to the walls, with not enough hooks to hang the many items you've grabbed on the shop floor, no stool, unflattering lighting and mirrors, and the pungent smell of sweat in the air (hmm, clearly I don't shop in high-end stores!).  If I am forced to try something on, I make sure I'm in and out and not wasting too much time getting undressed and dressed again.  Therefore, tights are out - they take me too long to put on!  Leggings and jeans are ok.  You want to be warm in the cold January air but not roasting hot when you're in the crowded shops.  Don't wear too many layers but equally don't wear a big heavy coat that you may have lug around when you start feeling too hot.  Shopping in New York last January when it was freezing cold outside and sauna-hot in the stores was not an enjoyable experience!

6. Invest in the trends for next season
Research the upcoming trends for next season by reading fashion magazines.  Of course, don't go and buy heaps of bright orange items based on one magazine feature, particularly if it's not your colour!  Use your common sense and stick to things that suit you, and things that you will actually wear.  Chances are that they may have got that one wrong, then you're stuck with looking like you've been tangoed...

7. "But when will I wear it?  I've just had my Christmas do."
What about next year's?  There's ALWAYS going to be parties and countless office do's.  It happens every year.  So why not think ahead and buy a fabulous outfit now, while it's on sale instead of scouring the shops next winter looking for the perfect yet affordable dress and settling for something not quite as fabulous?  Glitz and glamour never goes out of style.  Gold, silver and sequins will always be on trend in the run up to Christmas.

8. Don't buy it just for the sake of it.
We've all done it.  I was a victim of it when I first discovered Primarni - buying something just because it's cheap: "TWO POUNDS?!  I'll have it!".  Often, the alluring low price tag will cloud your judgement of whether you actually like the item.  I have to keep thinking "Would I still like it if it was full price?" - if you wouldn't buy it at full price, don't buy it now it's in the sale.

9. Aim to get the best quality that you can afford.
I'm not big on designer, often because I feel they do make clothes only for the size zero models that stalk down their runways, but I do appreciate that often (but not always!) the quality of the material or the cut of the item is better.  For many of us, designer clothes are not normally in our price range but in the sale, it's a different story - that skirt you've been wishfully gazing at in Vogue is suddenly within your reach.  So instead of buying countless high street items that are likely to fall apart or shrink over the next few months, grab that better quality item that will last a whole lot longer!  When else are you going to be able to afford it?

10. That's soooo last year.
Don't buy something that is instantly recognisable as being "the" item you should have been wearing last year.  You're entering 2011, don't look like you're stuck in the past.  That being said, sometimes trends can last over a few seasons, coming back each year - for example, maxi dresses.  I think I bought my first one in 2007 and I've worn it every summer since.  This winter I've noticed that they've made the transition from being summer only, to a winter item that can be layered with knitwear.  Chunky knitwear will always be around (jumpers are always a necessity), shift dresses always stylish, and you can't go wrong with block colours.  If you know it suits you, and it is likely to make an appearance again in the coming year, by all means, buy it.

11. Check the refund policies
Most major stores will refund you as long as you have your receipt so if you're not entirely sure about something, buy it anyway (see No.1 re no dithering!) and if you decide it's not quite you when you try it on again at home, you can return or exchange it for another item or a credit note.  But be aware, some shops do not do refunds or will only exchange sale items.  And keep your receipts safe!

12. Stock up on presents
Sales are great for buying presents in advance for birthdays in the coming year.  Don't think of it as spending your money at once - you're saving money in the long run.

13. Timeless classics
This is an obvious one.  I shouldn't even have to write it, I'm sure you all know it anyway but I'm going to drum it in one more time.  White shirts, black t-shirts, a camel coloured coat or mac, cashmere jumpers, tan boots.  Season after season, year after year, you WILL wear these!  So why not grab them while they're in the sale?!  In fact, with some of the cheaper items (t-shirts), if you find the perfect classic t-shirt, buy in bulk!  Earlier this year, I bought about seven of the same t-shirt, in black, white, and grey because I know I will them until they fall apart - and they were only 7 quid each!

14. Do it online
Finally - if you can't bear facing the post Christmas crush, take advantage of the world wide web and hit the sales online instead.  You can jump the queue to get some banging bargains, you're likely to be able to find a discount or free delivery code via - and all from the comfort of your cosy couch.

Sales dates for your diary:
23rd December -
New Look online

Christmas Eve -
River Island

Christmas Day -
House of Fraser online

Boxing Day -
New Look in store
House of Fraser in store

27th December -
John Lewis

Do you have some other top tips for us fellow shopaholics?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Unii Palette review

Anything in my early morning beauty routine that shaves a few dozen seconds so that I may savour a few more precious moments cocooned inside my warm cozy duvet is a winner with me.
I was eager to find a palette that would hold my few daily essentials but I had not seen many, and the two products I had seen were just not right for me, either being too flimsy, or too structured so I wouldn’t be able to fill it with the products I wanted.
Then I learned of the existence of the Unii Palette.

Sturdy, wipeable, not too big for me to shove into my handbag without it weighing me down, but not too small for it to store the required products.  And available in a range of pretty colours!
Now, I must stress that I don’t have a huge or even medium to large makeup collection.  My make up bag before discovering fabulous Muhsine’s and adorable Milly’s blogs left something to be desired, to say the least!  And this included a frosted white No. 7 eye shadow that I purchased when I was 16 (ten whole years previously!), that for some reason I’d hoarded away but still had barely touched!  Eeeewww!
A change was well overdue!
The Unii website was great – clear, well-explained, easy to navigate and supported with bright pictures. 
The Unii Palette can store not just one but multiple brands of make-up: Mac, Bobbi Brown, Stila etc.  I love how it doesn’t limit you to a brand or a certain size product.  It uses magnets to store your makeup pans so they don’t fall out, contains a large mirror which is handy for when you’re on the go, has a thumb grip that you can place wherever you want, and a rubberised seal to prevent leaks.  An adhesive magnetic sheet with writable labels is also provided with each palette.
I quickly realised that I would not be content with just one palette – however would I decide upon just one colour when there was a choice of six and I wanted them all?  After much deliberation, I selected Lemongrass (greeny-yellow colourway), Eggplant (dark purple) and Pomegranate (pinky-red) with the intention of the latter being a birthday present for my best friend.  Nearly 3 months later, I still haven’t given the palette to her, as I am extremely reluctant to let it out of my clutches (aren’t I selfish?!).

Unii's newly launched colourway is the gorgeously dark Coal... I tell ya girlies, I would not be disappointed if Santa decided I was a naughty lass in 2010 and left me a this lump of Coal in my stocking!
The palettes’ packaging is well thought out, and when I viewed the video on the website, I was amazed by the amount of work that went into just the shape of the box!  Instructions on depotting for the use of the Unii palette were also included on this box – eco-friendly me was glad there was no excessive packaging (ignoring the airmiles the Palettes had clocked up on their journey to me :-S  Ooops)
A newbie at depotting, I was keen to give it a go.  I prepared my working area rather naively with a single sheet of the Daily Mirror; I had underestimated my powers of destruction.  What a mess.  On my cream carpet!  Eeeeeeeek! 
2 broken bronzers and 4 shattered eyeshadows later… Tadaaaaa!

My 2 palettes complete but not quite as pretty and uniformed as the palettes I aspire to:

(Pics taken from Unii "what's in your Unii" gallery)

I intend to use the Pomegranate (pink) palette when my make up collection expands:

I have since bought Urban Decay’s Naked palette which I looooooove – there is no way (and no need) for me to attempt to depot that.  I’m hoping to collect the remaining colours sometime in the future – Twilight, Snow and Coal.
Final verdict?  I’ve had them almost 3 months now and I’m super impressed with the quality and design of the palettes.  Durable and colourful, I wouldn’t be without it, I use my Lemongrass one everyday - it has my Boing concealer, my Loreal Infalliable pressed powder and various eyeshadows, mainly from my Too Faced Natural Eyes Kit.  My eggplant also has the concealer and powder but holds darker eyeshadows so I try to remember to pop this into my bag if I'm going out for the evening or just out and about at the weekend when I wear more makeup.  The palette fits perfectly in my bathroom cabinet, but also looks great when I pull it out of my bag for touchups.  You can even store eyeliners or slim brushes inside.  The Hubby even commented on the difference in time it takes me to put on my face before work (not that I wear much) – it takes me about 2-3 mins to quickly apply my essentials.  I no longer have to faff about opening and closing different products as they’re now all in the same place (bar my Garnier Concealer Roll-on and my mascara).
I am very happy I invested in these!
The Unii palette is priced at $29 each / $56 for two / $27 for three.  You can pay via PayPal which I found useful, but you can also checkout through Google or Amazon.  It’s available in 6 different colours.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

BARGAIN! Elemis 5 Piece Exotic & Nourishing Face & Body Skincare Collection

Having experienced my first spa day for part one of my hen do about 4 months ago, and then being spoilt rotten on my birthday with another spa day with The Hubby, I have only recently been aware of Elemis.  But so far, I like!

I had a fabulous facial on my birthday, a real treat and desperately needed as my skin has not been great as of late.  Why is it that I get TONS more spots now then I ever did when I was a teenager - I smugly thought I'd got away scot free until the last couple of years...  Grrr

I came away from the spa feeling very chilled out, clutching my bottles of Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser and Balancing Lavender Toner with the hope that they will provide the miracle ingredients to clear up my skin.

Well, I'm not too good at remembering to use them daily... but when I do use them, I do appreciate that they're good products.  The skin hasn't cleared up just yet due to my lack of dedication - must try harder...

Both times at the spa, I had my eye on the Exotic Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt but found the cost a little pricey, especially when The Hubby had just forked out for my Cleanser and Toner - didn't want to look too cheeky by asking for this as well!

I was thrilled when I spotted on Friday that QVC were planning to offer the Moisure Melt as part of their Today's Special Value Product today!
This face and body collection consists of:
A 35ml bottle of the Exotic Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt.  I plan to use this after a shower for maximum effect and also as a hair treatment - god knows I need some moisture in my tresses!
A 125ml tube of Elemis's newest product, Melting Cleansing Gel, an "ultra purifying dual-phase cleanser perfect for challenged, tired and stressed skin".  Tick, tick and tick!!!
A 300ml limited edition super size bottle of Skin Nourishing Hand and Body Lotion.
A 30ml tub of Pro-Collagen Marine Cream.
A 200ml tube of Exotic Frangipani Monoi Bath and Shower Cream.
AND a lovely silver bag to keep it all in:

All for the bargain price of 39.96!  Wow, I am impressed.  Obviously it was popular as getting through the online checkout was a long and frustrating process in which I thought I'd lost out at the last step, which made me give up and go to bed.  To my delight, when I checked my email this morning I had in fact completed it all successfully as I had a confirmation - woop woop!

I reckon this would make a brilliant present for someone who deserves some pampering!  However, this is my Christmas present to myself, ho ho ho!

Will revert back when I've had a chance to use the products!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Mally - anyone tried this brand?

I am always glad to see the Philippines or Filipino people in the media.  There are many full or part Filipino celebs that I proudly declare "They're Filipino, you know!": Manny Pacquiao, Vanessa Hudgens, from the Black Eyed Peas, Cassie, Vanessa Minnillo, Bruno Mars...

Mally Roncal is the first 'famous' Filipino I've seen in the beauty industry. 

Previously when I've looked into her products, they weren't really available in the UK however I've just spotted her range on the QVC website.

Looking through 58 products, the first thing that struck me was that nothing was jumping out at me as being a Must Buy.  If my eye was drawn to something, the price pushed it away again, or the product reviews made me doubt that the product would be worth me spending that amount.  For example:

Mally Volumizing Mascara Duo
Mally Volumising Mascara Duo, QVC Introductory Price 19.79 GBP
Mainly good reviews but the last two described it as so clumpy therefore have had to return.

It's such a shame, because I really do want to support my fellow Filipinos!  Maybe if I could see the actual product, I'd have a change of heart?

Has anyone else tried this brand?  What did you think?