Self care, skin care,
& nurturing Mother Nature.

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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, searching for pure happiness & joy

November 30, 2016

The Shadow Switch Hype

If you're remotely involved in social media, particularly the platforms used by many beauty bloggers and makeup enthusiasts, you're bound to have seen the latest craze to sweep through the beauty community called "Shadow Switch". Shadow Switch by Beauty Essentials is a product which tons of people have been trying out with their eyeshadow brushes and after reading several posts about it, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to grab one to test for myself. You can pick up Shadow Switch from Amazon for around £5.99 so I ordered one and it arrived through my letterbox a few days later.

As the name implies, Shadow Switch allows you to quickly "clean" your eyeshadow brushes during use so you can use the same brush with multiple colours and the colours won't transfer and blend so you don't need to have an arsenal of brushes ready for one eye look. When it arrived I quickly ripped off the packaging and was a little bit surprised with the cheap box it came in. I do like nice packaging but it's not the be all and end all for me however the box this guy came in was screaming "the Pound Shop" to me but I told myself that didn't matter - it was the contents that counted. The whole product comes in a bog-standard tin that you often see beard balm or moustache wax products come in with the slightly gross loud Barbie pink "Shadow Switch" logo sticker on the lid of it. Once you pop off the lid, you are greeted with the cleaning product which is a sponge.

Now I'm not going to lie - even before I purchased it, I thought this product just looked like a glorified brillo-pad (you know those metal scourer sponges you or your mam definitely have under your kitchen sink?) and looking at the product now in my hands, I felt exactly the same. You can remove the sponge from the tin by just pulling it out and it is just a flat circle sponge like a burger patty. The sponge is a little softer than a scourer sponge though so I was intrigued to see how it actually worked. Once I had applied my makeup, I started to do my eyes and once I had applied my base colour, I swirled the brush over the sponge surface to get rid of the colour. I was so surprised to see just how well it worked! The sponge does a brilliant job of pushing the brush bristles back and forth to get rid of any shadow product retained in the brush and it collects in the sponge. This worked really well for my fluffier eyeshadow brushes and even darker shades were removed enough meaning that I could confidently apply the next colour without worrying if there was still some residue from the last shade on the brush. As you can probably see from the photos, the brushes still retain some of the eyeshadow colour, but this doesn't transfer onto the skin so its not a problem!

Now I know most people like to use fluffy blending brushes for most of their eye makeup application, but I straight up love using those cheap sponge applicators you usually get free with eyeshadow products from the drugstore. I like using these sponge brushes because they're so affordable to replace but they're also great for packing on colour. I like to use them to apply base colours usually or if I need to really pack on a shadow that isn't that pigmented and then I will go in with a fluffy blending brush to sort out the edges. So naturally because I use these sort of brushes, I needed to see if they could be cleaned using the Shadow Switch too. And would you believe it - it does a pretty good job?! It definitely doesn't remove all of the product, but it does manage to get the majority of the eyeshadow off the flat, dense sponge applicator which is all I really need it to do as I only ever use quite neutral nude shades with these brushes anyway.

All in all don't let this cheap product deceive you. The packaging might not be the nicest or the most glamorous amongst your makeup stash, but if you don't have the funds or the space to buy and store various eyeshadow brushes, definitely pick this guy up first and see if it works for you. I don't know how long the product will last and I have to work out if it's going to still work after I wash it or if that will kill the effect of it, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see this simple sponge in a pot works magic on my makeup brushes. Also just as a side note - I use a flat brush to pack on my translucent face powder on the areas of my face I get oily and it does a grand job of freshening that up a bit too so it isn't just limited to your eyeshadow utensils!

- A.
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November 28, 2016

Autumnal Dungarees

There's something about dungarees that I just love. I think they give outfits such a put together but understated look and I always feel like I have such an attitude in them (as sad as that may sound). I always feel a little bit androgynous in them too - even if I've thrown in some girly feminine pieces alongside them - and it's definitely something I really like. Having that little bit of a tomboy vibe or androgynous look to an outfit just keeps me in my comfort zone but in the best way; in a way so I feel extremely confident in what I'm wearing. One of absolute favourite pair of dungarees are these tailored Miss Selfridge ones that I got in a sample sale years ago. They've got a more formal feel but put with the right accessories and they can become so dressed down and casual. I'm still head over heels for bardot tops too and I've started to pair them with dungarees more and more because there's just something about that tiny bit of shoulder poking through that I like.

New Look Bardot Top (similar) | Miss Selfridge Tailored Dungarees (similar) |
Poor Boy Vintage Saddle Bag via Asos Marketplace (similar) | Converse Hi-Tops via Schuh

- A.
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November 25, 2016

My Favourite Books: Part I

Since the end of summer, I haven't honestly read anything which is something I've tried to rectify this week by making sure I read during my commute to work. I travel for around an hour to work and then an hour back each weekday but for some strange reason, I haven't taken this time as an opportunity to get some much-needed reading done. I always feel like I don't get a lot of time to read over the weekend because I catch up on other things like this blog and you know, having a life outside of my job, but I do miss reading an awful lot. So because I haven't read anything in a while, I thought it would be a good idea to actually share some of my all-time favourite books with you guys instead. These are books that I have possibly read numerous times, that gripped me from start to finish, or are just books I would simply recommend. I am going to separate my favourites into a few different posts because I a) don't actually have all of my books in my current flat as many of them are tucked away in a cupboard at my mam's and b) don't want the posts to go on for days. So in no particular order, here are my first 4 picks that I'd highly recommend:

Along Came a Spider by James Patterson
First up is the first of two books that I absolutely love by the author James Patterson. If you've ever ventured into any sort of book store you will have no doubt seen an extensive range of books from Patterson because that guy has released a lot of stuff, but Along Came a Spider is a favourite for me. It is the first novel which follows an African-American forensic psychologist/homicide investigator, Alex Cross, through your typical intense, crazy, unrealistic stereotypical crime thriller drama. However this story isn't so unrealistic. If you're remotely into anything like Silence of the Lambs or anything to do with serial killers - you will love this series because it is a generally realistic and truthful fiction story that uses a lot of inspiration from real life cases. I say this every time I do a book post, but I will say it again and I will not spoil the story for you, but this story follows Alex Cross in the investigations of some murders ranging from black prostitutes to private school teachers and then to a child kidnapping and an egotistical individual is linked to it all.

Kiss the Girls by James Patterson
The second instalment in the Alex Cross stories is called Kiss the Girls and I like this one almost more than the first, Along Came a Spider. The writing style of both of these books is fast-pace and energetic so you can read through them in no time at all. The writing style is easy to follow despite using "police" language at times and it creates a sense of suspense just when and where it is needed. Kiss the Girls has a slightly different crime thriller plot to Along Came a Spider as this time the story travels down more of the female prisoner/victim of serial killers/criminals side of things and Cross has more a romantic interest mentioned throughout. I have only read this book once but I can clearly remember significant details of certain parts of the story, certain lines, certain characters and their actions etc. and for me that shows just how much of an impact that story had on me as a reader. It is worth quickly mentioning here that both Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls were both made into film adaptations with Morgan Freeman playing Alex Cross and whilst that casting decision is possibly the most accurate one to ever have been made ever (if you have read or read these books in the future you will no doubt instantly read the narrative in Morgan Freeman's voice. I don't know how or why but it will happen), the films do not do the books justice. They're really bad 90s adaptations that miss out vital parts of the stories and yeah, I'd recommend avoiding them all together!

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Now my next favourite has been made into a movie that is 110% worth watching, but let me prattle on about the novel itself first. The Road is a post-apocalyptic story of the journey of a father and son across barren land who are some of the last few survivors after an incident that killed the majority of life on earth. I really enjoy post-apocalyptic crisis stories so this one was an instant winner with me. Cormac McCarthy has become one of my favourite authors over the years but I would say this is my firm favourite book of his because it's a little bit different to his usual grizzly cowboy-esque tales. As you can imagine from the setting of the story, this novel is bleak from start to finish. It is gritty, sometimes uncomfortable to read, and it just generally will tug on your emotions for a multitude of reasons. But that is exactly why I like it. It's a story I've read a couple of times now and I know I will re-read again and again in the future. It is a story that definitely stays with you because you feel so emotional reading it but also because it has the power to shock you yet leave you wanting more rather than rejecting it in disgust. As I mentioned earlier it has been adapted into a film and the film is *excellent* and very true to the book so I would recommend it however, if you are interested in the story and you are familiar with the movie or even if you're not, the book is 10x more hard-hitting and gritty than the film so be warned.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
You might notice a theme here with what kind of books I like to read, but it wouldn't feel right if I didn't give this book a mention. Stieg Larsson's Millennium series is one of my most favourite book series ever but the first book in particular is my favourite for many many reasons. The Millennium series is a psychological thriller trilogy which focuses on two very different yet very similar main characters - Mikael Blomkvist (a journalist and publisher of a political magazine, Millennium) and Lisbeth Salander (a troubled individual who is a researcher/computer hacker). The story essentially follows both of their personal lives until they inevitably meet each other in the most unpredictable way. Again, this series has been made into a very popular Swedish film trilogy and this first book in particular was also re-adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Daniel Craig and my bae, Rooney Mara. I like both film adaptations and I think they stay very true to the original story so if films are more your thing, definitely check both of them out. This book is worth reading though especially if you like those gritty, ugly stories I seem to. The original Swedish title of this book translated to English as "Men Who Hate Women" and I think that title suits this story so much more. Whilst it is without a doubt a thriller novel in every sense of the genre, it also confidently tackles the injustice of some legal systems, sexual exploitation, rape, and politics of money, journalism and personal privacy in such clever ways and I can't recommend it enough if you haven't picked it up already.

And there you have it! This first instalment of My Favourite Books series portrays my more sinister interests which should probably be a cause for concern, but I do love a good book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I will do more posts talking in detail about more fiction and some factual reads too so if you're a fan of a good book, keep your eyes peeled for more.

- A.
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November 23, 2016

The Body Shop's Matte Lip Liquid

Another Wednesday, another lip product post. I would say I'm sorry that the blog is a little bit lipstick heavy lately but I'd be lying and it is my favourite makeup product to buy, try, and wear so it kind of makes sense that I feature so many of them on the blog. The Body Shop have a great deal recently which was if you spent over £50, you got 50% off. I knew I wanted to try their new matte liquid lipsticks and a I needed to pick up a few other things, so of course I jumped on the chance to get them a little bit cheaper (which meant I could buy more because that's apparently how my logic works). These matte lipsticks seem to have sprung onto the market from nowhere and I had seen people saying some great things about them and if you say "matte" and "liquid lipstick" in one sentence, you can pretty much guarantee that my interest has been well and truly peaked.

These lipsticks retail for £6 so they're really affordable and I can say that right off the bat, they are very similar to the highly coveted and loved NYX soft matte lip creams just they're 50p more for the same 8ml. The colour range isn't as extensive as the NYX soft mattes but it is still a solid range with your choice of nudes right up to your brighter pinks, reds, and darker shades. I picked up four shades which are my usual go-tos: Windsor Rose, Crete Carnation, Sydney Amaryllis, and there was a dark plummy shade - Tahiti Hibiscus - got thrown in the basket too. As you can see even from the choice of names for each shade, The Body Shop have definitely taken some inspiration from the NYX soft mattes in more ways than one. Having since tried these colours, I definitely want to pick up the majority of the other shades so let me tell you why.

The actual formula of these lipsticks is so smooth. You might notice from the photos above that there's not a lot of product on the wands and that's because the formula is more like mousse than liquid. Although it sounds like a terrible thing to say, it almost reminds me of the dreaded nostalgia of the Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse or the Collection Cream Puff Lip Creams. There's literally no drag on the lips when applying the lipstick with it's classic doe foot applicator and the formula feels really velvety and soft to the touch and when you smack your lips together as there's no stickiness. As the name suggests, they are a matte lipstick but they do take a little time to dry down and even when they do, they don't dry down completely which I actually quite like. I'm all of those rigid, "no going anywhere" matte liquid lips but wearing them all the time can take it's toll on your lips. These ones give your lips a bit of nourishment and a bit more freedom of movement which is a welcomed change in my current arsenal of lip products. Whilst they never dry down completely and whilst that does mean they transfer, after trying the darkest Tahiti Hibiscus shade first, I noticed that it also acts as a slight lip stain too which is great and means the product does not go patchy. This is music to my ears - especially for this darker plum shade - because I love my NYX soft matte lip cream in the shade Copenhagen but I do find it goes on patchy as can my Lime Crime Wicked and Beet It from time to time. This one glides onto the lip effortlessly and can be layered up as much as needed without going crispy or bleeding into the fine lines around the lips - amazing.

From left to right: "Windsor Rose", "Crete Carnation", "Sydney Amaryllis", and "Tahiti Hibiscus"

One thing I should mention though is whilst these lipsticks are pigmented and have a great colour pay off, I do think the colours are slightly more sheer than other liquid lipsticks I own. I don't mind this at all but I am mentioning it because the shade of the actual lipsticks is sometimes at least 3 shades lighter than the shade the tube makes you believe it will be. I think this seems to be a new movement in lip products as brands such as Chanel and YSL are bringing out more sheer washes of colour and as these lipsticks from The Body Shop are so nourishing and comfortable to wear, I really don't mind the colours not being *as* bold as the likes of Lime Crime Velvetines. One thing I'm not too keen on though is the scent. The Body Shop are well-known for their strong, statement scents for their hand creams and body conditioners but this product I do find a little overpowering. It's a very fruity, tropical sort of scent which is nice, but it is one of those scents that instantly makes my head hurt. Luckily, the scent does go away once the product has dried down but it is something to bear in mind if you're not big on scents - especially when they're from a product that will be right under your nose!

Wearing shade "Windsor Rose"; the perfect pale brown classic nude

Wearing shade "Crete Carnation"; a classic dusky pink rose/nude shade which really suits pale skin tones

Wearing shade "Sydney Amaryllis"; a really bright red shade with slight blue undertones mixed with a more raspberry tone

Wearing shade "Tahiti Hibiscus"; a vibrant plum shade - not as dark as the tube so it's a really bright berry tone that's a little different

The last thing I really need to mention about these lipsticks are their longevity. Liquid Lipsticks, particularly matte ones, have been so popular over the last couple of years because they're usually long wearing and can tackle just about whatever you throw at them and stay pretty much intact. These lipsticks aren't *that* long wearing as they do transfer and they're a bit on the sheer side however I really don't see that as a bad thing because of one redeeming factor. When I first tried Tahiti Hibiscus I had a few cups of tea and a big greasy burger and fries and was really surprised with the results.

After drinking tea, it did transfer to my mug but the lips themselves didn't look like they had lost any colour which was great. Now, when I had the burger, I was fully expecting to end up with the plummy shade all over my chin/nose/face in general and be left with that horrible "halo" effect around the outer line of my lips. Instead though the lipstick came of completely. Like I mean there was no trace that I had ever had quite a pigmented, dark lip shade on my lips beforehand. I personally think this is amazing because it makes it so much easier to reapply a lip product if all previous traces of it are wiped away so rest assured; whilst this lipstick might not withstand a greasy meal, it will wear down evenly and not make you look clownish once you're finished eating which is such a bonus.

- A.
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November 21, 2016

Black Cat Black Clothes

It's beret season again! It's leather skirt season again! It's knee high and over the knee sock season again! I've rattled on about how much I love this time of year so much already on NB, but I especially love it for layering and for certain items of clothing that I deem kind of seasonal for these colder months. This trusty Primark leather skirt has seen me through three A/Ws now and I intend to carry on letting it see me through many years to come. It's my favourite go-to piece when I don't know what to wear because it can tie an outfit together nicely and make you look put-together even when you haven't put much thought into your outfit! I especially like to pair it with long socks as it gives it a nice little bit of edge but keeps you surprisingly warm too which is something I look for - long gone are the days when I chose style over warmth and comfort. I teamed it with this frilly floral blouse from Primark which has become a staple not only in my personal day-to-day wardrobe, but in my work wardrobe too. It's a gorgeous cut, in-keeping with the frill/ruffle trend, and the colours and pattern are so autumnal - definitely one of my best recent purchases.

Primark Frill Shirt (similar) | Primark Leather Skirt (similar) | Asos Wool Beret | Primark Knee High Socks (similar) | Topshop Suede Fringe Bag | Deena & Ozzy via UO Slingbacks (similar)

- A.
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November 18, 2016

Misty Morning Walk

It's been a little while since I posted a nature photography post so guess what you're getting today? A couple of weekends ago, Matt & I took a walk along the golf course just to get out of the house for an hour or two. Walking through a golf course might not sound like the most interesting or glamorous of places to walk, but I used to walk this route to my placement job last year and I could remember the views being incredible. Because the old horse bridle path goes right through the centre of the course, all you can see for miles around is gorgeous greenery and especially in autumn, when the leaves are changing to various shades of red and orange, the views are all that bit better. To get to the golf course, you also need to walk through a small woods which is pretty during this time of the year too. Unfortunately it was an extremely grey day which always makes for bad photography however I did get a few nice snaps of the changing autumnal colours (albeit some of the photos aren't as crisp and focused as I would have liked). So if you're a big fan of autumn and just nature in general then carry on scrolling!

Autumn LeavesFall WalksMisty Morning ViewCatkinsAutumn ColoursFall WalkFootpathWalks in NatureForest DenForest TreesAutumnFall ColoursAutumn Days

- A.
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