Since May this year I've been trialling laser hair removal at Sk:n Clinics - the UKs number one clinic for skin treatments. Laser Hair Removal can be a long-term solution to unwanted hair growth, it can reduce the amount of hair that grows, thin it and possibly stop growth all together. Laser Hair Removal requires both commitment and can be quite expensive, it's a big decision for a person to make so I'm reporting the results as they happen and sharing with you the ins and outs of the treatment straight from my personal experiences to make that decision a little easier.
The area I'm having the treatment on is my upper lip, I feel a little embarrassed admitting that but most ladies get a few hairs growing above their lip and I find it the most annoying to remove and the most embarrassing should I forget! So far I've had my patch tests done and gotten the go-ahead to have the treatments, I've been using my inclusive aftercare pack to take care of my skin between treatments to keep it in optimal condition and of course my first few treatments have gone ahead. You can read my entire diary so far here.
Sk:n Clinics have a really welcoming atmosphere, they're bright and clean with little touches such as free samples, information guides and flowers. The ladies at my clinic (which is situated in the Health Village across from Lakeside in Thurrock) are absolutely wonderful, they always talk you through the procedure as its happening and answer any questions you may have, they really care about you and your treatment. Each time you attend a session you need to fill out a couple of forms with the clinician to check your medical records haven't changed and to track your progress, this only takes a couple of minutes and then the treatment begins.
Plate Laser Machine with safety goggles
Just to recap quickly on the procedure, you lay on a couch and have safety goggles placed over your eyes to protect them from the bright laser, aloe vera gel is applied to the area and cold air is blown before the laser is moved over the area and zaps away a zone of hairs. After the treatment cooling water spray is applied and suncream with SPF25 is applied to protect your skin.
Sk:n Clinics have two types of lasers: pin-point lasers and plate lasers. At the start of my treatments I was having the pin-point laser but now I have moved clinic I am having my treatments with the plate laser. The plate is placed against the treatment area and because it's so large it can zap larger areas in just one shot. The plate is really cooling against the skin and the procedure is really quick, it takes around one minute to treat my entire upper lip and only around six to eight 'shots' of laser. The plate is also near-painless, as you increase your treatments you also increase in the strength of the laser which can cause an increase in discomfort - I'm on a 32/35 strength and would describe the feeling as similar to a quick flicking of an elastic band, the laser treatment is so quick you barely have time to notice it. After the treatment my skin is a little red but not at all inflamed or irritated, the redness goes down by the time I've left the clinic and I'm ready to continue with my day.

With Laser Hair Removal you can't expect to see immediate results but over time you will begin to notice a difference, this is why you need to be committed to treatments, I attend my clinic once every month. After my first two treatments I noticed the hair growing slower and after my third treatment I noticed the hair growing back thinner too. What amazes me is that up until just before my fourth treatment I didn't need to remove any hair in the area (which usually I would do once every couple of weeks) because it was growing so slow and so thin that it isn't noticeable. I'd say by my fourth treatment I've had a 60% reduction in hair, which is a great result at just four treatments! I'll be updating you on how my final treatments go and what the final results are in due course.

You can locate your nearest sk:n clinic here, prices of your course vary depending on the area you choose for treatment, which can be found hereThe upper lip treatment I am receiving prices at £72 for a single treatment, £346 for 6 treatments, and £432 for 8 treatments (*). All treatments receive an inclusive consultation.
With the UK facing record levels of youth unemployment at a time where jobs are needed most it is high time employers recognise the value, skills and vibrance that young people have to offer in the workplace. The Prince's Trust, a UK registered charity, is there to help young people to get the training they need and secure a path towards employment, helping over 55,000 people every year.
The Prince's Trusts latest campaign 'Tomorrow' aims to encourage employers to recognise young people as tomorrows industry leaders and thus reduce youth unemployment. This campaign is driven by iconic people who are at the top of their industries mentoring young people who have overcome unemployment, together they have created products to be sold nationwide and show employers exactly what young people are made of.
Liz Earle, popular botanical skincare expert and business owner, has been mentoring Rebecca who came to the Prince's Trust when she was left homeless and pregnant with no one to turn to; the charity helped her set up her own beauty salon which has now become successful beyond her wildest dreams. Together Liz and Rebecca have produced a twist on one of Liz's most loved and best selling products to raise awareness of youth unemployment but also raise proceeds towards the Prince's Trust.
Allow me to introduce you on behalf of Liz and Rebecca to the Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser in a Rose & Lavender Special Edition. This Special Edition Hot Cloth Cleanser combines the original Hot Cloth Cleansing formula with a blend of Rose & Lavender oils to make for the most relaxing and calming facial treat. Packaged inside a beautiful special-edition pump-action tube at a generous 150ml portion is the staple cleansing formula, enriched with flower extracts, chamomile and cocoa seed butter for a luxuriously soft and creamy cleansing experience.
For anyone not familiar with the Cleanse & Polish process it is a two step process which involves using a cleanser and a muslin cloth to both clean and exfoliate the skins surface. The first step is to smooth the cleanser over your skin (you needn't remove your makeup prior to use, just go for it) and massage gently to stimulate blood flow and deep-clean before warming your muslin cloth under warm water and gently buffing away the product from your skin. If you have quite tough skin or a regular skin type you can carry out this process twice a day every day, as I have combination skin that tends to be a little imbalanced I use my hot cloth cleansers two to three times a week or as a weekly facial for a real skin treat. You can read my review of the original Hot Cloth Cleanser formula here.

The Limited Edition Rose & Lavender Hot Cloth Cleanser has succeeded all my expectations, the lavender and rose oils make for the most beautifully soft and floral scent that I don't feel is as strong nor potent as the original formula. As always, the cleanser leaves skin feeling completely clean, refreshed and so soft to the touch. This is definitely a must-have for any Hot Cloth Cleansing fan!

The Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser in 'Rose and Lavender' retails for £19.75 with £2 of the price going towards The Prince's Trust from every purchase from Liz Earle online and Liz Earle stores and stockists. You'll need to be hot on your heels with getting this product because there's limited stock!
Carmex are easily recognisable as a top-selling lip balm, especially with over 130 products from the Carmex range sold every minute in the UK! Carmex retail a range of lip balms in various application methods, formulas and styles. My favourite discovery from Carmex is their Cherry range which has an SPF of 15 and is available in a classic jar or squeezable tube.
Carmex began with their classic jars being hand-poured, since the growing popularity of the Classic Carmex Jar a new flavour was born - Cherry! Carmex have really recognisable packaging with bright yellow branding and easy to use twist-lid pots.
The formula of the Cherry Carmex is a lot softer to the touch and smoother than the Original Carmex formula, I much prefer it personally because it's easier to apply and feels more nourishing but it does tend to sit on the lips a little. Most Carmex formulas are enriched with menthol for a soothing and tingling sensation, the Cherry formula doesn't tingle as much as other formulas from Carmex I've tried making it perfect for those who dislike tingling sensations! Regular use of the Cherry Carmex pot gives me smooth lips that feel less rough and look less chapped, it also gives them a gentle hint of juicy cherry scent.

Carmex Cherry Lip Balm Jars retail for £2.69(*) from Boots in stores and online.
GHD have been the hairstyling brand to have for as long as I can remember, they're loved by hair stylists, celebrities and many hairdressers across the country. Most well known for their straighteners GHD - Good Hair Days - offer style, comfort and quality in their ever-growing range of products for styling and caring for your hair.
I'm really excited to write this post because I love my GHDs, I use them to style my hair in so many ways - curls, straight and smooth, waves, crimps - you name it I can do it with them thanks to their hot temperature and smooth, contoured ceramic plates. GHD have developed a range of haircare products and tools to help you get the most not only out of your GHD styler but any styler you may own, so even if you don't have a GHD you can still get that super-smooth salon fresh finish at home.
The perfect gift or treat for any heated styling addict is the GHD Style & Protect Gift Set, which I have well and truly fallen head of heels in love with! Packaged inside a matte black box with gold GHD branding the Style & Protect Gift Set features 2 Sectioning Clips, a hand finished Paddle Brush and two styling products - Straight & Smooth Straightening Spray and a Final Shine Spray - giving the set a total value of over £45!

GHD PADDLE BRUSH
Every time I ask my professional stylist what the best brush for a blow dry is he tells me a Paddle Brush for a smooth and sleek finish. The GHD Paddle Brush has a really luxurious feel with an easy grip smooth matte handle and super soft bristles that glide through the hair without tugging or snagging. To get the most out of the paddle brush use your sectioning clips to section up your hair and then take sections of hair, seal them into the brush and blow dry straight down with the blow dry tip pointing onto the brush. I love using this brush with my straighteners through the lengths of my hair and just for general brushing, it's a little too heavy to travel in my everyday bag so I keep it by my stylers.

SECTIONING CLIPS
It's really important to section your hair when you straighten or blow dry, damage can be caused when the hair is over-styled for example if it is already dry but still being exposed to a blow dryer. By sectioning your hair you know exactly what areas of hair have been dried or straightened and you can minimise over styling, they also make styling so much easier! The GHD Sectioning Clips have a matte black finish and hold in the hair really well without slipping or falling out.

GHD STRAIGHT & SMOOTH SPRAY
What I love about this gift set is that it features full sized products, not trial sizes or reduced size cans. The GHD Straight & Smooth Spray not only protects your hair from heated styling but it encourages your hair into the style you desire whilst smoothing it and boosting shine. I've been reaching for this product every time I blow dry and straighten my hair, after using it my hair is really smooth with fewer flyaways, frizz is reduced and I know it's protected against heat too. This is my favourite product from the gift set, it is amazing and I am a hundred percent going to repurchase this when I run out.

GHD FINAL SHINE SPRAY
For adding a touch of final glamour to your style comes the Final Shine Spray, you can spritz a generous amount over your entire style for a super glossy finish or spritz a little onto your brush or fingers and run through the lengths of your hair for a textured and polished finish. I use this spray mostly on my fringe and through the lengths of my hair, it finishes a style well and leaves you feeling like you've just stepped out the salon.

This set is perfect for use not only with your styler but also with your blow dryer too, never have I had such a smooth blow dry as I had with using this set. All the products work in harmony with one another really well but you can also use them individually too, I'm considering picking up a couple more GHD products after enjoying the products in this gift set so much - did you know GHD have launched a hair dryer too? I am so excited about that.

GHD Style & Protect Gift Set retails for £39(*) from GHD online and GHD stockists, I've found it on a limited offer for just £19 on ASOS! Each of the styling products can be purchased individually from the selection of GHD haircare products online.
From the creator of facialist to the stars Úna Brennan comes a new skincare range launched exclusively at Boots. Super Facialist is a high street, at-home-accessible version of Úna's incredible talent featuring 16 products broken down into three ranges - Hydrate (rose), Firm (neroli) and Deep Clean (tea flower). If you're a fan of British brands and like a huge choice when it comes to skincare then I can guarantee this range will be something worth taking a look at!
The Deep Clean collection is comprised of five products aimed towards shiny or oily skin types, enriched with ingredients such as Watercress, Horsetail and Nettle to hydrate the skin whilst controlling shine and oil. On offer you have a Mattifying Moisturiser, Pore Purifying Clay Mask, Facial Scrub, Pore-Minimiser and Cleansing Wash.
I have a couple of products from the Superfacialist range, they have a very natural almost leafy scent and they mattify the skin really well; my favourite product is the Pore-Minimiser which works very nicely.
The entire Super Facialist range has a great mix of natural products, natural oils and active ingredients to combine the enjoyment of pampering with performance and beautiful textures. The moisturisers have a really creamy texture that sink into the skin in seconds, whilst the Pore Minimiser has a velvety soft almost gel formula that glides over the skin.
I personally would say you need to pick your products from the Deep Clean range carefully depending on the needs of your skin and considering your skin type. I have combination skin so I only apply the Deep Clean products when my skin is very oily or shiny, if I apply it at times where it is clear or calm I find the Salicylic Acid in the products can irritate my skin a little. I've tested these products on a friend who solely has a very oily skin type to see if they make a considerable difference and she says they help control the oiliness of her skin all day and keep it in a good balance.

Looking at the Super Facialist range as a whole the Deep Clean products aren't quite suitable for my skin which can't handle Salicylic Acid unless it is really disrupted, I think the Hydrate or Firm products would be a little more successful for me personally - if you have quite oily or shiny skin and can handle Salicylic Acid then I reckon, based on the experience of my friend with these products, that they will make a considerable difference.

Save 1/3 on all Super Facialist products in Boots stores and online right now.
Recently I've become one of those people who can't go more than an hour without finding a photo-op, all thanks to Instagram. It's really warming having an album of all the things you've seen in and done in one place with the chance to jazz up your everyday mobile snapshots with filters and borders.
Over the short time I've had Instragram I've realised one thing, it's mostly a mix of food and beauty products - which sums up my life quite well! These are just a couple of my favourite pictures, memories and discoveries from the past week:
1. Macaroons - a lovely surprise treat 2. Nandos 3. BlanX Whitening tooth paste and mouth wash, giveaway coming soon! 4. Enjoying my Liz Earle Healthy Glow Bronzer 5. Hair Products tailored to your water area! 6. Doggy hide and seek 7. Beautiful lingerie from Gilly Hicks 8. Pinkberry is delicious, I had Watermelon and Coconut with Raspberries, White Chocolate pieces and Almonds! 9. 'Fluorescent Pink' from W7

You can find me on instagram by searching 'hollyarabella'.
He-Shi began as a mother and daughter team back in 2004 when both ladies wanted a tan with minimal scent, instant colour and easy application; so, they developed a range of products running through from Step one of preparation, Step 2 of Tanning and Step 3 of maintenance, all of which are 100% Paraben and Alcohol free which met their tanning needs. Now He-Shi is a multi-award winning brand with a huge range of products under its belt, including a professional spray tanning range!
He-Shi Express Liquid Tan is marketed as their 'easiest tanning lotion' for at-home use, it can be used on both the face and body and is suitable for both males and females. I think it's great for a brand to make it clear their product can be used by men too, not many tan brands take the male market into consideration.
He-Shi products are packaged inside deep brown packaging with golden yellow branding. The Express Liquid Tan is packaged inside a tall cardboard box which explains application well, inside you find a tall plastic bottle with a pour-cap. The packaging is practical and travels well because it isn't too large, unfortunately I find that dispensing the product is nothing short of a nightmare.
The formula of the tan is a liquid consistency, it's completely runny and fluid and tints the skin on immediate contact. This is the first tan I have tried with a totally liquid consistency and although it sinks into the skin and dries immediately, I found it a nightmare to apply. Applying this tan with a mitt is a must, cup the mitt and try to very gently tip a little onto the mitt before quickly rubbing in. I ended up with so much formula on my floor and dripping down my body because the consistency is so fluid, I personally prefer a mousse or lotion formula.
Although it seems I am disappointed by the liquid tan formula, it does hold many benefits. The formula is absolutely streak free and has no drying time, the following day to applying the tan I had a completely even tan all over my body even after washing away the colour guide. What's also great is that the formula didn't rub off onto my clothes or bed sheets - a first from any tan I have ever used, I am so impressed by this and my sheets are thankful too! I wouldn't say the tan is entirely scent free but it certainly has the least detectable DHA scent out of all tans I've tried, after I wash away the colour guide the scent disappears.
The developed tan colour isn't too deep or too pale, I like to leave the tan on for at least 8 hours, it's golden brown and not orange or muddy at all! If you want a natural sunkissed glow I recommend one application, if you want to bronze it up and go for a beach babe look then I recommend applying two thin layers in one application slot. I haven't pictured myself wearing the tan because tan will produce a different colour on all different skin colours and types. I do find the tan tends to fade a little patchy, even with regular moisturisation and exfoliation, but it lasted me around 6 days in full colour and faded completely at around the 10 day mark.

If you're tired of using self tanners which have a DHA smell, apply patchy and don't last as long as you'd like the He-Shi Express Liquid Tan is definitely worth a go, it just takes a little time to get used to the formula. Once you're used to it, you're away and the tan really is easy and fuss free. Although I dislike the liquid formula of this tan I'm really impressed with every other aspect of the product and am looking into trying perhaps a mousse or lotion He-Shi tan instead with the hope I get on better with the consistency.

He-Shi Quick + Easy Express Liquid Tan retails for £37/300ml (*) from He-Shi online and He-Shi Stockists.
With A Level results freshly released and many teens preparing themselves to take the plunge and move out of home to University it's no wonder my inbox has been flooded with emails asking for advice about moving to University and more importantly about what to take.
Moving to University is an exciting and nerve racking time, for the less-organised of us it can be a total nightmare gathering together all the things we may need, even the most organised of us will find at least one necessary item lacking once we arrive!
When I moved to University I was more than organised, I made sure I had a list of everything I may need (in any situation...ever) and then a list of luxuries should I have enough money to treat myself. I moved into a house rather than halls so had plenty of things to purchase, which meant lists, lists and more lists!
Popular furniture store Oldrids & Downtown have made things easy this year and put together a Student Guide listing all the basics you will most likely need whether you're moving into a house or halls! Everything is listed at a reasonable price but doesn't compromise on quality. You can find the Student Guide here.

A COUPLE OF MY ESSENTIALS
There are plenty of essentials that we think about when we go to University, such as pads of paper, bedding, photographs to pin on our wall. These are a few things you may not have spared a thought to that eventually became my mini-essentials at University.
Hand Soap: Cleanliness is key, I kept a pack of soaps aside and they lasted me all year - keep by the kitchen sink and bathroom. Germs tend to spread fast at University and washing your hands can be the key to beating the dreaded freshers flu! This Cath Kidston Soap Stack features some gorgeous floral scents and leave your hands feeling really clean, they're a luxury at £6 but they last a long while!

Hangers: When I went to University I massively under compensated on the number of hangers I needed! I found myself asking most clothing stores if they had any going spare, most of which I was turned away from empty handed. So remember, take clothes hangers and plenty of them! They're great for drying things upright and of course for hanging your clothes. These Cath Kidston Hangers retail for £10 and are gently scented, why not hang your freshers ball gown on them!

Towels: I took two bath towels with me, one bath towel and one regular towel and I was so glad I did! I was never without a towel whilst one was waiting in the wash and also always had a towel for guests. Try to purchase towels that wash and dry easily and are either dark or light, that way you can pop them in with your dark or light wash (which you will be bound to be doing regularly! These Christy Vancouver towels I've chosen here are half price at the moment and available in a huge range of colours, priced between £1.99 and £18. I think I'll be picking up an extra bath towel for this year at University to accommodate for guests, not everyone wants to be using a bright pink fluffy bath towel!

Cutlery: You can never have too much cutlery, it seems to go missing or gets left behind when you go to a friends flat for a takeaway! Be prepared and try to take at least two of everything, if you like hot drinks then try to take at least three or four teaspoons and always remember large spoons for serving up meals! This 16 piece cutlery set is only £15, I can't quite believe the value of that and it has everything you will need to eat happy.

Worktop Saver: This seems like a strange item but it proved so valuable to me! A worktop saver stops your pans or kettle from burning your worktop - burn marks can rack up a hefty charge when it comes to your final housing or halls check up, believe me! I love worktop savers with fun prints, this Joseph Joseph Worktop Saver has a bright kitchen theme and will sit comfortably on your worktop without slipping.

A mug: Whether you're feeling tired after a long day at University or missing your home, a good cup of tea or coffee (or hot chocolate if you're really treating yourself) can always pick you up. I found a mug so useful for making hot honey and lemon drinks in when I got poorly too! This 'Little Sweet Heart' mug is absolutely wonderful, it's by Jamie Oliver from a huge collection. I really want it!

What are your University must-haves?

Phyto are an environmentally stable and 95% botanical haircare brand who pride themselves on their high quality range of hair products targeted to the hair type and needs.
Phytolisse is the range from Phyto that targets frizzy or unruly hair types, one of the finishing products from the range is the top-selling 'Ultra Glossing Finishing Serum'. The Ultra Glossing Finishing Serum wraps each length of hair with a special blend of althea extract and pro-vitamin B5 to hydrate and protect the hair whilst smoothing and banishing frizziness and fly-aways.
Phyto have packaging which really pushes their 'natural' ethos, the packaging is light and fuss free with an inclusive information pamphlet about the product. I really like it! Inside the cardboard box you will find quite a luxurious frosted glass bottle with a pump action dispenser, simply pump a small amount onto your hands and work through the hair.
The Phytolisse Ultra Glossing Finishing Serum can be used on both towel-dried and dry hair, I find that if I use the serum on my hair dry it leaves it looking really greasy. I'll be putting this down the fact my hair is quite thin, I reckon the serum is just fine to be used dry on the very tips of your hair for a boost of shine should you have very thick hair that isn't particularly prone to greasiness.
I apply the serum through towel dried hair, I only use a pea sized amount and rub it between my hands before ruffling it through my lengths and then styling as normal. It has a fluid texture that isn't runny but isn't thick, it works through the hair well and leaves behind a weightless feel. I personally dislike the smell of the product, it smells quite similar to nail polish but luckily this isn't detectable once it is applied to the hair.
Phytolisse Ultra Glossing Finishing Serum has many uses, it not only works on leaving my style with a much smoother finish - I always get a better blow dry when I use this product - but also banishes frizz and flyaways throughout my day. If you have really thick or frizzy hair I reckon this product will do wonders to your hair, it makes it so much more manageable and easier to comb through and style without weighing down your hair or adding to the thickness.

Phyto Phytolisse Ultra Glossing Finishing Serum (*) retails for £21.50 from Phyto stockists such as John Lewis, beautybay.com and feelunique.com.
Oils seem to be a running theme on my blog right now, I'm applying them everywhere so it seems - my hair, my nails my body...I've even been brave and tried them on my face. One of my favourite oils from my growing collection is the Nip + Fab Multi Fix Oil which I originally heard about from Fee.
What makes this oil so special? It contains a unique mix of bio-lipids, safflower oil and borage oil to create a multi-use product suitable for smoothing and nourishing your hair, skin and nails as well as improving the appearance of uneven skin tone, stretch marks and scars.
Nip + Fab Multi Fix Oil is packaged inside a tall plastic tube with a pull cap lid and pour mechanism. Each oil comes packaged inside a cardboard box which features the classic Nip + Fab branding, I love the design of Nip + Fab packaging - it's practical and feels like something special.
Most people tend to shy away oils for fear of feeling oily or greasy after application, Nip + Fab Multi Fix Oil has a runny but not overly thin texture that smoothes into your area of application and dries instantly without leaving any residue or greasy feeling. I like working it into slightly damp skin for a really smooth finish but what's great about this oil is it sinks into dry skin too just fine without leaving any oiliness behind. You don't need to use too much and I find the application time is around half of that it takes me to apply moisturiser, which is great if you're in a rush.
The uses for this oil are endless, my favourite uses are to lighten stretch marks (it really works) and as a post-shower moisturiser, the nourishment it offers is incredible and my skin feels so soft with a gentle sheen. Although this product can be used in the hair and it works well I prefer my Mythic or Moroccan Oil because I feel they are a little more moisturising and boost the shine too. You can also use this oil as an anti-aging skin treatment, cuticle softener, or even a luxurious bath treatment (be careful, things get a little slippery when added to water!). I have had so much fun experimenting with the oil and finding different uses the work for me and help me get the most out of my product.
Multi-Fix Oil just gets better and better as the scent of the product is truly enjoyable, it doesn't have a greasy or oily scent at all but smells exactly like marzipan without being too overpowering or sickly. The scent lingers on the skin for around an hour after application before it fades and disappears.

Whether you're looking for a do-it-all product, want to try oils for the first time but don't know where to start or are looking to lighten the appearance of stretch marks and scars then Nip + Fab have the answer with their Multi-Fix Oil, I can't recommend it enough!

Nip + Fab Multi-Fix Oil retails for £12.25/100ml from Nip + Fab stockists such as Debenhams and online.
Water Transfers or 'decals' have recently become my new nail-art obsession; they're any girls dream for beautiful, salon finish designs in an instant right in the comfort of your own home. Hail The Nails are an independent online retailer who sell a great range of water transfers as well as nail foils and nail crystals - it's couture for your nails all in once place!
I've become absolutely obsessed with water transfers because they're so unbelievably easy to apply and have such a professional finish. To apply the transfers, cut to size from the cardboard sheet then place into a tray of warm water (I use a cotton bud box lid), a few seconds later the transfer will become soft and simply slide off the backing onto your nail, smooth it into place and then secure with a top coat of clear polish.
The transfers have an oriental feel about them, they're a very delicate floral design with flecks of green and white - I love how dainty the flower is. Here I have applied the transfers over three coats of Orly 'Kiss The Bride' for a subtle combination.
In my experience with a couple of transfers I've found they last just as long as the nail polish you use with them, they don't come away, peel or spoil at all so long as you apply a clear top coat over them.

Most Water Transfers retail for £1.99 for a sheet of 20 transfers from Hail The Nails online and over on Etsy, who offer free delivery with every order and even deliver worldwide.

What's In My Makeup Bag?

26 August 2012
Being a beauty blogger and cosmetics fanatic means I find it hard to stick to a regular makeup routine. My makeup bag changes either weekly and monthly to accommodate for the condition of my skin, the weather and the seasons. One of my favourite things is having a look through my friends makeup bags, you can discover new items and brands! Adrienne from The Sunday Girl is running a series of posts for her favourite bloggers to share what's inside their makeup bag and I've been asked to take part!
Right now my makeup bag is awash with natural but brightening makeup for a glowy complexion and a flawless finish. I tend to have my favourite products and daily essentials stashed in my everyday makeup bag for ease of access and a look that I can always rely on.

You can read the full post about what's in my makeup bag over on The Sunday Girl here.
Did you know that well known nail polish brand Orly, who pride themselves on Toluene, DBP and Formaldehyde free products, have a nail care and treatment line? That's right, not only do Orly develop beautiful  nail colour but they can also protect and improve the condition of your nails too.
One of Orly's top selling treatments has been re-released - Nailtrition - which is a two week course for strengthening your nails and helping them grow. The formula contains nail nourishing and strengthening ingredients such as Collagen, Protein, Keratin and Bamboo Extract to give even the most brittle of nails a treat.
Nailtrition is packaged inside an attractive cardboard box where inside you will find a frosted glass bottle with an easy-grip twist off lid. The brush is skinny but delivers a nice coating of polish on the nail without looking streaky.
Following the directions to the letter, Nailtrition is designed to be applied every day for a week (one or two coats), removed on the eighth day and then having the process repeated for another week. You must leave at least a week between full treatments so this isn't a treatment that you can apply a coat of every day forever - remember to let your nails breathe!

WEEK ONE
I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about not wearing any nail colour at all other than the Nailtrition for a whole fortnight, especially being a nail polish addict and changing my polish near every other day! However, as I remove my nail colour in week one and see my nails chipped, discoloured and at varying lengths I think perhaps my nails are in need of a little TLC. My nails are quite long but they're all really uneven and snap so easily despite their length here, my test was to see if the length could lasting without snapping and increase too.
Nailtrition swatches as a very pale frosted pink shade, it's very opaque but does build in colour as the week progresses. I think the gentle 'tint' of colour it has is quite nice, pale enough to be suitable for most occupations but tidy enough for those who can't stand wearing bare nails such as myself.
The formula is quite ideal, not too thin and not to thick, but I did find two coats every day tended to bubble the polish a little so I just stuck with one coat per day and didn't have any issues. The coat of polish dries really quick in under two minutes.
Towards the end of week one I noticed my nails becoming a lot stronger and stiffer, they weren't bending as easy and by now my nails would most definitely have snapped!

WEEK TWO
In week two my nails began to grow out at quite a considerable rate so I was glad to have removed and started reapplying the polish as directed for a smooth and clean finish without obvious 'growing out' errors.
I'm really impressed with the results Nailtrition provided in just two weeks; my nails feel so much stronger, have a more even shape and aren't snapping or breaking as easily, they're not so discoloured anymore either. My nails most definitely grew longer than they would if I'd let them to their own devices over a two week period, and during the period I didn't incur a single broken nail - we have a new record! I am a little disappointed that my nails appear to still be peeling even after two weeks of treatment so I think I may need a separate treatment for that complaint. 
Over all I'm very pleased, I hadn't expected Nailtrition to be quite as fantastic as it is! From week two I applied the Nailtrition as a Base Coat every now and then as a 'top up' treatment.

Orly Nailtrition retails for £7.95(*) from most Orly stockists and BeautyBay.
Argan 5+ is the new skin and body range freshly launched on our high streets which harnesses the goodness of Argan Oil and other botanical ingredients. Oils are the talk of the town right now, they're a multi-use product that not only nourish our hair, skin and nails but also have fantastic moisturising properties too!
I had previously tried the Argan 5+ Precious oil Elixir and liked it so much that I headed straight to my local stockist to try out some more from the range, the Body Polish was my first port of call. Argan 5+ Softening Body Polish is enriched with 'Argan Synergy', a divine mix of Argan Oil and four other oils known for their restorative and nourishing properties.
Argan 5+ have very simple branding that I feel captures Argan Oil's Moroccan roots well. To use the product all you need to do is screw away the lid and scoop out the product with your hand. Easy peasy!
The Argan 5+ Polish has a really smooth formula which is saturated with gritty particles that vary in size (these are crushed olive stones and pumice), you only need to use the tiniest amount and I didn't find the texture over abrasive or irritating at all.
After rinsing away the particles my skin feels really soft, dead skin is buffed away gently and my skin has a natural after-scrub 'glow' - all that you may expect from an exfoliator. However, the Argan 5+ Softening Body Polish goes one step further and leaves my skin feeling so soft, nourished and moisturised that I don't feel any need to apply moisturiser after or for up to two days after use, it's the ideal product for if you're in a rush and need to skip a step somewhere!
I was quite surprised by just how amazing this body polish is, this is not just your average exfoliator and I will definitely purchase it again.

Argan 5+ Softening Body Polish retails for £8.99/300ml in Boots.
It is rare that I entirely use up a beauty product, Shampoo and Conditioner aside, because I'm always testing out new products and can't resist splurging on the latest product! Tut at me, I must use something up before I purchase more. Recently I've been making more of an effort to use up my beauty products and there's something quite nice about finishing a product completely because it opens up space for a new product or brings back the excitement of repurchasing a product you love.
There is one small snag about finishing up a product - you're left with empty packaging and need a place to put it. I recently ran a Facebook Poll and the results show that the majority of respondents throw their packaging in the bin, many people also wash out their pots and recycle them and only a minority recycle their packaging without washing it out. What surprised me was not a single person re-used their empty packaging!
Until recently I just threw my packaging away, we're in an environmentally conscious world which pushes recycling but my main excuse for throwing them away was that the amount of water used to wash them out completely counteracts recycling the product anyway when we're trying to conserve water! Then when I was in the shower finishing up a bottle of product I had a Eureka moment. These are my tips for making the most of your beauty empties whilst saving the planet and yourself some pounds!

RE-USE
Not a single person who answered my poll re-used their beauty packaging and I am so surprised! You can save yourself so much money in the long run by re-using packaging, obviously you can't re-use everything but you can re-use the majority. 
I like to re-use sample pots for mixing up my own lip balms, travelling body lotions for a nights stay and for sharing samples of my beauty products with my friends. They're great for having handy when you snap a lipstick to pop it straight into and keep sealed tightly too.
If you ever use mini travel bottles keep them!! You can re-use them on your future travels so this saves the need to repurchase travel sized bottles (which always seem really pricey for what they are?) or buy some empty bottles yourself. I just keep my empty travel bottles in my suitcase so when I'm packing I remember to fill them up. I also keep small and tall pots for storing my bobby pins in, which I am forever losing! If you don't like the style of the packaging you could peel away the sticker and replace with your own pretty wrapping paper or ribbons!

WASH-OUT AND RECYCLE
The vast majority of recycling centres require recycled products to arrive clean and washed out - the empties which don't usually tend to just be thrown away! 
Washing out a product for recycling is a completely fair request but does seem to waste a bit of water. This was my in-shower Eureka moment: keep your empty bottles in your bathroom, when you go to shower stand them around your feet and as you shower the water you use will wash them out! No excess water used. 
If you have a bath use the leftover water to rinse out your bottles before letting it back down the drain. These methods not only stop you from using more water than you need but also save you money on your water bills because you're not using anything extra!

Empty beauty products are something we barely spare a thought towards, I say it's about time we did! I'll definitely be making more of a conscious effort to use up products and try to re-use or at least properly recycle the leftover packaging.
Micellar Waters have become increasingly popular recently, they're well known as one of the most gentle cleansers for your skin with their watery properties and gentle ingredients. The single product which leads the way for Micellar Water is the 'Bioderma Créaline H2O Micelle Solution' from France. It's known in the beauty world as the cult, holy grail product of skincare and it's so hard to get outside of France people are willing to pay a lot of money to get some! If you're unsure about the difference between Micellar Waters and regular cleansing, you can find more information in my blog post about the difference here.
Bioderma work hard to produce dermatologically tested solutions for problem and sensitive skin, creating gentle formulas in their laboratories that work. They're one of the best known skincare brands in France! So of course, my inner beauty lover got the better of me and when my favourite Micellar Water from Etat Pur was running low I picked up a bottle of Bioderma to see if it really is worth the hype which surrounds it.
Bioderma Créaline H2O Micelle Solution is packaged inside a tall and chubby clear plastic bottle with a pink snap open lid and a pour mechanism. I really like the packaging, it's sleek and really attractive; my only problem is that I do find the lid really stiff and difficult to snap open (don't do it with your teeth, I have learnt that the formula tastes foul).
The solution has a typical Micelle Water solution, it has a very similar consistency to water but is also enriched with other skin nourishing and makeup dissolving ingredients. The formula is suitable for sensitive skin and doesn't irritate my skin or eyes, it's one of the most gentle micelle's I've used.
Bioderma Créaline H2O Micelle Solution works best smoothed over your skin poured directly onto a cloth or cotton pad - there is no need to add water, it's key ingredient is water! I don't find myself having to use too much for a full application and it removes my makeup, including eye makeup, really well, leaving my skin feeling clean and really soft. I do still find a little more makeup coming away still when I tone after, but this is expected as Micellar Waters are not as thorough as perhaps a deep cleanse because they simply skim the skins surface.

Bioderma clearly have set the benchmark for Micellar Waters with their ultra-gentle formula, it does what it needs to do well and has lovely packaging. I'm happy with my purchase of Bioderma but wouldn't go out of my way to get another bottle, it's very similar to my Etat Pur Micellar Water which I am entirely happy with. Bioderma Créaline H2O Micelle Solution is most probably more of a life changing product for those who suffer from incredibly sensitive skin and eyes.

My Bioderma Créaline H2O Micelle Solution was from France where it cost me around £7, but you can get it in the UK on Ebay from this seller who is tried and trusted by lovely beauty blogger Vivianna.
Sometimes we are searching for the perfect nail colour but just can't find it, or sometimes we have an eyeshadow that we are never going to get use out of and it remains unloved on the shelf. There is a remedy for both these beauty woes! I've been mixing up my own nail polish colours with some old eyeshadows or colours I don't get so much use out of to update my nail polish collection absolutely free!
Creating your own nail polish colours and shades is so easy, you can experiment by adding in some glitter or altering how much formula you add. This is my no-fuss guide on how to get creating your own colours.

YOU WILL NEED:
> Clear Nail Polish
> An eyeshadow
> Cuticle Stick
I have used an old Clear Top Coat that I no longer use, an Inika Eyeshadow and an old cuticle stick that I can happily throw away after use.

PREPARATION:
Before you begin you may want to crush up your eyeshadow into a fine powder using the end of your cuticle stick. I have chosen to use a loose-powder eyeshadow so didn't need to follow this step.

STEP 1:
Remove the lid on your nail polish and place to one side. Scoop up your crushed or powder eyeshadow with the cuticle stick and carefully drop it inside the polish through the opening. Repeat this a couple of times.

STEP 2:
Drop one cuticle stick end completely into the nail polish pot and 'stir' the formula together. Then shake to ensure the shadow and nail polish fuse together.

STEP 3:
For a brighter colour take the other end of your cuticle stick and repeat the process until you are satisfied. Then paint on clean nails, allow to dry and apply a top coat. et voila, a brand new nail colour that you created.

The polish lasts for a good few weeks, the formula will be a little thicker than your average polish and take a little longer to dry but it is completely worth the extra time taken!
Nail art is something I've been becoming more and more interested in recently, I had thought it was something best left to the professionals but when I took a few steps into nail art designs I realised just how easy it is for even novices like me to create super easy designs with the right tools and colours! A product I love for creating nail art designs is a Nail Art Pen, there's plenty on the market but the best quality I've used so far are from Models Own. The Models Own Nail Art Pens are available in five colours - white, blue, pink, yellow and black - and are created in association with nail art extraordinaires Wah Nails.
The pens are packaged inside a bright and colourful box which has all the instructions for using the pen. The pen has a dual-nib applicator with a 'dotting tool' and 'striping brush', you twist the white lid and pull away to reveal the flicking wand, or leave the lid on and pull away the end cap, squeeze the black plastic gently to release formula from the minuscule dotting tip.
I found the dotting tool a little hard to get the hang of at first, I think the nib produces dots which are slightly too small personally but it does it's job well and produces uniform and well formed dots. The striping tool is my favourite part of the Nail Art Pen, it doesn't have a perfectly formed end which is a shame as this can cause a little dragging but it is so easy to use and creates lines and flicks so easily. You have a lot of control over the tool, so you can create thick or thin lines and all sorts of creations.
'Black' swatches as a well pigmented deep black shade, you needn't build any colour at all. I do find this shade drags a little when you apply a top coat, even if the polish is left for a day to settle, which is quite a shame! The Models Own Nail Art Pen lasts on my nails as long as the base colour underneath, it stays pigmented and doesn't fade or chip.

See more of the Models Own Nail art Pen in action in my Leopard Print Tutorial here.

Models Own Nail Art Pens retail for £6 each from Boots and modelsownit.com, where you can also get all five nail art pens for £20 in a handy box set!
Hair Oils are well and truly a product of the moment, never have I used a product which is so unexpectedly smoothing and glossing on my hair and hair oils are now my turn to product for post-wash care. There are plenty of hair oils available - Moroccan Oil, Argan Oil - and now there is Macadamia Oil from Macadamia Natural Oil, most of these oils work on the same principal but can be combined with other ingredients to yield different over all properties.
Oil from Macadamia nuts in the South Pacific is carefully combined with natural and botanical ingredients in all Macadamia Natural Oil products, which are split into two categories of 'Care' and Style'. From the 'Care' range comes the Deep Repair Masque, which harnesses the goodness of Macadamia Oil combined with Argan oil and infused with tea tree, chamomile, aloe and algae extracts. I love using hair oils, I use them every time I wash and style my hair, so what better than a hair masque that has the same nourishing properties as an oil but gets even deeper into the hair.
Macadamia Oil products have the most beautiful design with a Moroccan-style print and green finishing touches. The packaging of the Hair Masque is entirely practical, easy to use and looks very aesthetically pleasing. Simply twist off the lid and scoop out a walnut sized amount and slather onto combed, towel dried hair.
The Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque has a really thick and creamy formula that clings to hair once applied but doesn't weigh it down, it washes away really easily under water and leaves the most beautiful sweet yet nutty fragrance in your hair.
What's great about Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Masque is you only need to leave it on for seven minutes to achieve the same effect you would having left another hair masque on for say 45 minutes. It's a very quick boost to your hair and the finish is just beautiful. My hair feels really smooth with a glossy finish, without compromising on body, but also looks and feels really strong. Continued use has helped to improve the appearance of my split ends and really nourish my lengths to the point where they actually not only look but feel healthier.

Macadamia Deep Repair Masque has an RRP of £23.95 but you can get it for £18.99 (*) at HairTrade.com here.
Inika Cosmetics - certified Vegan, Halal and Organic brand - have a huge range of eyes, lips face and tools under their belt. Their values are so high that there's too many for me to list them all, but all products are petrochemical free, animal by-product fee and preservative free. Inika are not just a makeup brand but an environmentally stable and world-conscious brand who have some incredible values that don't compromise the quality of their products.
Inika Mineral Eyeshadow is available in 24 shades and contains only the purest ingredients meaning even the most sensitive of eyes can wear the shadows.
The Mineral Eyeshadow is packaged inside a small matte black box with classic Inika gold branding, inside you will find a small pot of shadow with a twist off lid, tap the pot gently at an angle to release the formula. I apply these shadows with a brush by picking up a little formula, tapping the excess back into the pot and then sweeping over my eyelid. One small problem I find with the packaging is that picking the product out the pot can be a little tricky, tapping the pot to the side releases a lot of product from the large square dispensing holes in one go, so I found myself getting a little covered in the product!

SHADE #20 AUTUMN PLUM
Autumn Plum is officially described as a 'divine shimmering deep purple', it's a beautiful plummy shade  with copper undertones that shimmers gently in the light without leaving a gritty or glittery finish. This shade makes a lovely crease shade worn with more neutral base colours, but also wears alone beautifully - it looks great teamed with a little purple mascara on the tips of your lashes!

SHADE #22 TURQUOISE
Turquoise is officially described as 'representing the finest gemstone', it's a bright aqua blue that has a really great pigmentation and a very light frosted shimmer. If you want a subtle pop of colour on your eyes this looks great mixed with a little water and worn as an eyeliner, I like wearing it in the corner of my eyes too. It's a really buildable shade, if you just want a hint of colour go for a tiny amount applied with a brush, if you want something really bright and edgy layer it up!

Inika Mineral Eyeshadows have a dusty, well milled formula that picks up beautifully on a brush and apply without fallout straight to the eyelid. Both shades have a similar wear time of around five or six hours before I noticed any fading, and they barely crease at all! If you want them to last longer on your eyes or have a punchier colour, simply apply an eye primer and build the colour.

Inika Mineral Eyeshadow retails for £14.50/1.2g (*) from Inika online.
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