Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Holly Bourne: How Hard Can Love Be? (The Spinster Club 2) | Book Review

When I stumbled across this novel in the library I was absolutely thrilled considering it is the second sequel within the Spinster Club series. I really wasn't sure what to expect next and I wasn't sure what was going to happen within Evie's life next however, upon reading the blurb I realised that this is no longer Evie's story, it is in fact Amber's; her close friend that we briefly heard about in the first novel, Am I Normal Yet?. Bourne has quite quickly turned into one of my favourite YA Authors and whenever I pick up one of her novels, it is almost guaranteed that I am going to enjoy it. 

Firstly, I absolutely love the idea of using a sequel to learn about other characters briefly met in the previous novels and I was extremely excited to learn all about Amber, who she is, what she stands for and what has happened within her life. Despite this, this novel isn't set in the same time as the first so whilst going through Amber's journey with her, we still hear about when Evie had her relapse (which we experienced in the first novel) and we are able to get a brief idea of how she is getting on with her recovery. I must admit, this novel took me an entire month to get through due to being busy but I am so pleased that I managed to find the time to get back into it. Like the first in the sequel, this book touches quite heavily on feminism but also carries a great deal of humor. Amber is going to visit her Mother over the summer in America, and is looking forward to spending time with her even if it means also having to help run a summer camp that her Mum and dare I say, step-dad, Kevin runs.

Alongside Feminism, this novel also explores Alcoholism and Abandonment as well as falling head over heals for a boy, a situation that is destined to fail. I love how within Holly Bourne's novels, her characters are never perfect and are just realistic, everyday people who have their flaws. Amber is seventeen years old and has had quite a hard upbringing, from her mum being an alcoholic, her dad leaving her mum for a new family and her mum then abandoning Amber to live in a different country, meaning that Amber has no choice but to live with her dad's perfect new family. We learn a lot about Amber fairly quickly; she is a huge Harry Potter fan, she loves Art, she is tall with red hair and boys are never interested in her.

You can't help but empathise with Amber throughout this novel, she is at the age where she is experimenting with Alcohol and she is often found very drunk with the other staff members at the summer camp however, we all know that Amber needs to be careful due to her mum still being a recovering alcoholic and it isn't until somebody points out that she could end up like her mum, that she realised that binge drinking to avoid emotional pain, is not the right answer. Amber also wants nothing more than to mend her broken relationship with her mum, it had been two years since they last saw each other and Amber had so much that she wanted to say, do and feel but is anything ever that simple? Amber feels like she has been abandoned by her own mother, so she constantly have the internal struggle of being unsure of what to say or do, without her mum reacting badly. 

As soon as Amber meets the other Staff members she will be working with throughout the summer, one person sticks out in particular; Kyle. However, everyone fancies Kyle, he is a typical, perfect American boy who even won Prom King. Kyle and Amber get on really well from the beginning, he looks after her almost every single time she drinks too much and he actually listens to her problems. However, Amber's mum really dislikes Kyle, nobody knows her reasons but she warns Amber not to fall for Kyle as she has already seen too many heartbreaks over him the prior year. Kyle is an absolute gentleman and is very aware that he the definition of a cliche but Kyle has issues of his own, he does only what is expected of him and not what he truly wants because he doesn't know who he really is. Amber is very wary about getting close to Kyle but their relationship is so honest and real, they talk about everything and anything and Bourne has really used their deep and meaningful conversations to teach and inspire readers.

It wouldn't be a Spinster Club Novel without Spinster Club meetings which have been happening over video chats and Amber makes sure to fill her two best friends; Evie and Lottie in on everything that has been happening whilst she has been away. 

This book is around 470 pages long and there were parts that I lost interest in and that just got tedious but I powered through and I am so pleased that I did because it takes almost the entire novel and an entire summer for Amber to get the answers from her mum of the hidden questions she had. You can sense her relief when she finally unravels the truth and the seriousness of her mums illness. I love how each chapter starts with an example of 'Situations that are Destined to Fail' that actually relates to a project she is working on in Art class. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I can't wait to read Lottie's story. I rated this book four stars out of five because I did enjoy it, it was informative and fun but I did prefer Am I Normal Yet? I also enjoyed hearing things from a different perspective, such as feminism, boys and everyday issues. I hope to be back soon with a review of the third novel within this sequel. I think that everybody needs to read these books at least once.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 12 February 2018

Living with Scars & Stigma

Disclaimer - This post heavily talks about Self-Harm, Scars and the Stigma surrounding Mental Illness and can be triggering, please don't read if you're feeling vulnerable as the last thing I want is to have a negative effect on your well-being.



When we were young, we were told to love ourselves and to accept our imperfections as they are what makes us unique. When we got ill, we were told to learn to live with our illnesses without being defined by them. When we got older, we grew up accepting tattoos as they can make us unique and they are a piece of art. It takes time to change stigma and it takes time to change people's viewpoints and we have to remember that not everybody grew up in a world where tattoo's were accepted and talking about mental health was inspirational and courageous. But in today's society, people of all generations are getting tattoo's and have learnt to live with the idea that everybody has their own interests, hobbies and personalities. We have all grown to admire the idea of individuality so why are all of these things so easily accepted, forgiven and forgotten yet mental health is still a very taboo subject. Thankfully, the stigma around Mental Illness is getting better, day by day and year by year but there is still one big aspect that hasn't quite been addressed and accepted yet, which is Scars; not just scars because single scars can be seen as a sign of bravery and being fearless, they may tell a story of a time where that person had an accident, an operation, or even brought a new life into the world. Despite all this, I can't get my head around the common thought process that Scars that were formed from Self Harm are often seen as not pleasant, attention seeking and a sign of weakness. What baffles me even more, is how quite a large amount of people in today's society feels that due to the fact that there are numerous scars, they have the right to comment on them and ask questions about them even though they are most likely very aware of what caused them.

I am sick of people trying to be sympathetic when in reality they can come across as patronising, I am fed up of people asking me pointless questions and making statements like "didn't that hurt?" - Yes it did, that was sort of the point, "they're quite bad" - Yes I am also aware of that, and no I wasn't thinking rationally when I did it so I didn't think about the consequences, "are you still crazy?" - I wasn't crazy in the first place, just poorly so I don't think i'll be answering that question, "do you still do it?" - you're a stranger so what do you expect me to say? "But you're a pretty girl" - I have heard this time and time before, just because you feel that someone is attractive, doesn't mean that they avoid all bad things within the world and thank-you for making me feel even more insecure, "will they go?" - No, they wont so it would be good if I could stop getting questioned by multiple people every time I wear short sleeves.

I find it so odd because at home and around my close family, short sleeves is all I wear, I am still me, I am still a human being and I am still a part of their family. My family are so used to my scarred body that they don't even notice anymore, they just have accepted me for who I am, what I went through and supported me through my illness, despite it breaking their hearts. On the other hand, when I go out in public, it is a rare occasion that I will wear just short sleeves, it's not something that I am comfortable and confident in doing, especially around people I don't know. At work, despite all of the staff being aware, I will only wear long sleeves because I am so self-conscious of my scars, I don't want questions from customers and I am worried that people will complain that it is disgusting and putting them off their food because we live in such a divided community when it comes to Self Harm. Even the people who don't say a word, but proceed to stare, thinking that I haven't noticed, I am very aware of you staring at my scars, it is making me self conscious and it is bothering me about what you might be thinking.

Don't get me wrong, I can completely understand people not wanting to see Self Harm wounds as they can be disturbing, triggering and not pleasant. But when it comes to having fully healed scars that I have to live with for the rest of my life, scars that might fade a bit more but wont ever disappear, scars that leave permanent dents and bumps in my skin and scars that will only not be noticeable if I have tattoo cover-ups or operations, I have a right to wear short sleeves on warm, sunny days without feeling self-conscious of people staring and without worrying that someone will say something and make me doubt myself. It would be nice if people would try to be a bit more sensitive and understanding of the topic. Some stranger belittling me into feeling that showing my scars is wrong cannot change the fact that I have scars, they cannot magically make them disappear.

I have seen the fear in an older lady's face after seeing my scars, she might have been wondering if I was going to hurt her, considering that I am clearly capable of hurting myself, she could have been thinking how if I was around when she was a little girl, I would have been thrown into an asylum where I would rot away into nothing. I have experienced so many young children being genuinely intrigued about my scars, how they got there and what happened and I have had to hope that they will firstly, not end up in a position where they are self-harming and secondly, prepare for that one day where they find out about self-harm and it will click in their brains that they've seen it before but didn't know what it was, I dread the future conversations between myself and younger relatives when they know all about my scars and are sad to find out what really caused them but I can only have faith that maybe their generation will grow up without the stigma, more understanding and are able to help people who carry scars, feel confident within their own skin and to not be ashamed. I have witnessed doctors becoming queasy when fixing my wounds, I have seen nurses become squeamish over the sight of a wound that I did to my own body, I have been refused numbing anesthetic because I did this to myself, so why would a bit more pain make any difference? There is such a misunderstanding surrounding self harm and scars, they are seen as bad when at the end of the day, when we're recovered, we'll look down to our scars and they'll remind us that we are brave, we are strong and we deserve to wear our scars with pride instead of with guilt, shame and negativity.

I think one of the scariest things within today's society, alongside the stigma is the confusion and worry on some people's faces when they see my scars, I have been asked how I ended up with scars so big and so wide, how I managed to do it and that they didn't think that it could be a possibility to willingly slice down to fat, muscle and veins. I actually have a phobia of blood and veins, but whenever I tell someone close to me this, they laugh which is understandable. I am always asked how and why my self harm got so severe, so quickly when in reality, everyone saw my self harm as severe when my wounds were classed as superficial. It took under a year for my self harm to be classed as scratches, that I could easily blame on the cat or a fall to cause it to a drastic change of wide, exposing wounds that required immediate medical attention. Self Harm can escalate extremely quickly, I was oblivious to how severe it could actually become until it happened to me. I was naive and I wish more than anything, that I had someone to educate me on how serious it could become, on how even if I didn't want to believe it, I will be someone who spends a lot of their time in the A&E waiting room, waiting for my wounds to be put back together. If only I had known how quickly this coping mechanism would spiral out of control, I could have prevented it from getting worse and saved my skin a lot of damage.

One day we wont be surrounded by stigma and shame, but we have to do it together. When you feel confident in wearing short sleeves, then go for it because the more of us who come out of hiding, the more people will understand and hopefully it'll eventually disappear and we wont be made to feel like we're doing something wrong.


Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Saturday, 10 February 2018

January Favourites 2018

I am aware that this post is slightly late up, but despite January feeling never ending, February is going by at an extremely fast rate, already. I have decided that favourites posts aren't made enough on my blog so this year, I am going to aim to talk through all of the things I have been loving, every single month.

Throughout January, I found that the majority of things I have loved are in fact beauty products but there are a couple of non-related beauty products that I have also found a love for and I will therefore start with those.

If you know me personally, you will know that I am trying to quit smoking which was a habit I picked up three years ago. I haven't smoked a cigarette in a few months and I am using an e-cig (electronic cigarette) to help me. I am now down to 3MG nicotine percentage after starting at 16MG. Recently I switched my e-cig to the Aspire Pockex which I am loving, I really finds that it has reduced my urges and cravings for a cigarette incredibly. It also comes in a whole variety of different colours, I really had my eye on the Rose Gold version but it wasn't in stock when I got mine so I went for Matte Black. Depending on where you purchase this e-cig, it costs anything from £23.99-£30 but it is still much cheaper than cigarettes and I actually find that I have no trouble with this e-cig at all compared to the previous ones I had. 

Feather & Down Sweet Dreams Pillow Spray is a fairy new product to me but I absolutely love it already. It is a Lavender scented Pillow Spray that aims to relax you and help you to sleep. I originally wanted to pick up the This Works Pillow Spray but I spotted this one in Boots for only £7 and thought that it was worth giving a go considering that I struggle to sleep. Obviously, if you're not a fan of Lavender then this is not the product for you. I am not entirely sure if this product actually helps me to sleep or not but it certainly helps me to relax easier. It is a very soothing scent and I am getting on really well with it so far.


Moving on, another product that I have been using every single day throughout the past month is the No7 Illuminated Make Up Mirror. I had this product on my wishlist for two consecutive years as I was getting fed up of not having a free standing mirror. I actually got this product for Christmas but it retails for £34.99 (it is currently on offer at Boots for £20) and it comes in either silver or rose gold. I wasn't sure if I would like this mirror when first using it because it shows every single flaw, smudge and blemish but I now struggle to do my make up without the light as it makes such a difference.


A product that I have tried multiple times in the past but never stuck to is the Soap & Glory Righteous Butter which is a Body Butter in their traditional fruity yet floral scent. This product contains Shea Butter and Aloe Vera, leaving your skin super silky and soft. I find that this product isn't sticky like some moisturisers can be and even after applying a large amount, it soaks in to your skin quickly. I would recommend this product if you're looking for an affordable, everyday moisturiser.



I was fortunate enough to have received a few different perfumes throughout my Birthday and Christmas but one that has stuck by my side and turned into a new holy grail is the Mugler Alien Perfume which in all honesty, was a Christmas present to my mum but it has somehow landed on my dressing table. This fragrance has a very strong and powering scent, it is definitely a distinctive scent and is very noticeable, even with the smallest amount. It is described as both a floral and woody scent, containing Jasmine Sambac, Cashmeran Wood and White Amber. The bottle is stunning and full of purple and gold which is actually refillable too. This product is around £54 for 30ml but there is almost always an offer on at at least one perfume retailer.

The Soap & Glory Face Soap & Clarity Face Wash is next on my favourites. I received a mini of this product in a gift set and have been using it non-stop since, I have already purchased a full size version. This product is a 3-in-1 V Daily Vitamin C face wash which cleans and purifies skin, removes make up and exfoliates. I find this product so easy to use and it is a really quick process. I have heard a whole bunch of people stating that they wont use this product due to it containing micro-beads, which are really bad for the environment but according to Soap & Glory, they have switched over to environmentally friendly ingredients. The full size of this product is £8, I have noticed that this product has helped to clear up my skin and has left it feeling much more smoother, rather than constantly being dry and oily. 

Moving on to make up products, a new and higher end product that seems to be turning into a holy grail product is the Too Faced Hangover Primer which retails at £27, so definitely on the pricier side however, it creates the perfect base for your foundation. This product is infused with coconut water and carries quite a light, coconut scent. It is a creamy consistency, but can be slightly tacky, allowing your foundation to set better. I find that with many primers, applying foundation can often remove the primer and leave your make up patchy but that isn't the case at all with this product. It is very lightweight and hydrating, it smooths your skin and a little goes a long way, I really couldn't recommend this product enough.



The Kat Von D Translucent Loose Powder has been a product that I have been looking out for for a very long time but it is always out of stock on the Debenhams website.. has it been discontinued? I managed to finally get my hands on this product from Depop and I love it. I  had used it prior to purchasing time and time before due to my friend owning it. It doesn't feel chalky, it doesn't leave marks on your concealer and it smells like cake mixture.. I am not joking. This product usually retails at £22, but is in such a generous sized pot and would last a long time and is the perfect product for baking. 

Last but not least, the final product that I have been adoring is the Soph X Make Up Revolution Highlighting Palette. When applying the shades within this palette, you wouldn't think that it is a drugstore palette or even, only £8. Within this palette, you get eight generous sized highlighting shades which focuses on the pinks, purples and golds. The shades start lighter on the left and get darker to the right meaning that there is bound to be a shade for everyone. There was a discussion that the four left shades looked very similar to the Sleek Solstice Palette but they all reflect differently. You can use the shades within this palette individually or on top of each other and you'll get an incredible glow. The pigmentation is insanely good and the products are very shimmery.



That is all for today, I am trying to keep my favourites posts short and sweet because we all know that I have a tendency to ramble. If you'd like to see reviews of any of the products mentioned then please let me know. 

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Monday, 5 February 2018

Dialectal Behavior Therapy | What is it?

Hello and welcome back to my blog. I keep finding myself getting quite stuck on what to post for my Mental Health Monday posts as I am not sure if you prefer more informative posts and advice, or posts where I just chat about my opinions on topics.. please let me know as I really can't tell but for now, I am doing a bit of both. Due to the fact that I did a small amount of Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT), I thought that I would try and explain each of the skills to the best of my ability as I am aware that DBT isn't available to everyone. I am just going to say.. I am not qualified in DBT, I am just trying to share the skills in order to help others.

What Is DBT?

DBT is a talking therapy which is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), but has been adapted to help people who experience emotions very intensely. Like CBT, DBT aims to help you change unhelpful behaviours but by additionally also focusing on accepting who you are. Within DBT, the relationship between you and your therapist is very important and once trust is built, is used to prompt and motivate you to want to change. According to MIND, "the goal of DBT is to help you learn to manage your difficult emotions by letting yourself experience, recognise and accept them. Then as you learn to accept and regulate your emotions, you also become more able to change your harmful behaviour. To help you achieve this, DBT therapists use a balance of acceptance and change techniques."

Within DBT, Diary cards are used to help track your emotions, destructive behaviours, urges, medications and which skills you have been using. They have to be filled out every day and completely honestly. Usually, you would meet with your therapist once per week. Diary cards will also contain sections for homework that your therapist would have set you for the upcoming week. I will say now, DBT is difficult, it can be very draining and is a lot of hard work but it can be beneficial for many people in the long run but if you want it to work, you have to be willing to change your behaviours. Upon starting DBT, I found it difficult to remember to fill in my Diary cards, meaning that I had to fill them in all at once, so they weren't always accurate. Despite not being in DBT, I still use the Diary cards as I find them helpful to track how things are going. For every service, the Diary cards will look quite different, but I will attach one that I found online here, that you can print off and give a go.


Another part of DBT is the chain analysis which are essentially a step to step document of an incident that had happened right from the morning before it happened to the night after. Chain analysis will commonly be used if you have self harmed, attempted suicide, drank alcohol, not eaten or done drugs depending on what behaviours you are struggling with. They are very difficult and intense and you have to talk through absolutely everything that happened before, after and during the incident. I honestly can't even count the amount of times that a chain analysis has left me in tears but again, they're beneficial and they make you not want to have to fill them in again. An example of what to include in a chain analysis can be found here but if you want me to, then I can do a whole blog post on them.

Skills

Within DBT, there are a whole range of skills that can be split into four different categories. Some skills may be explained slightly differently across different services but they all mean the same thing. During DBT, these skills will mostly be taught within a group setting that occurs once a week. I found the groups the most difficult as I cannot stand being sat in a room full of people I don't know, but they are very informative and quite helpful to some. Within the group, you'll be given homework alongside your individual homework from your therapist, that usually relates to the skills learnt. The DBT Skill modules are categories into;

  • Mindfulness Skills
  • Emotion Regulation Skills
  • Interpersonal Effective Skills
  • Distress Tolerance Skills
Mindfulness Skills are a range of skills that can be used to help focus your attention to the present time instead of being distracted by worries about the past or future. Mindfulness is a type of meditation and can come in all different types as it is all about observing and concentrating. Some mindfulness skills work for some, but not others which is completely normal. There are many different apps that can be used for listening and sound mindfulness tasks but you can also eat mindfully, hold something mindfully or even colour mindfully. Depending on the service, the skills can vary but the staple skills within this module include:
  • Wise Mind
  • Observe
  • Describe
  • Participate
  • Nonjudgmental Stance
  • One-Mindfully
Emotion Regulation Skills are a set of skills that can be used to recognise, understand, explain, be more aware and have more control over your emotions. I found these skills in particular helpful when describing how I am feeling. The skills in this category are:
  • Identifying & Labeling Emotions
  • Reducing Emotional Vulnerability
  • Increasing Positive Experiences
  • Opposite Action
  • Coping Self-Statements
  • Identifying Unhelpful Thinking
  • Problem-Solving
  • Sleep Hygiene
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills are all about teaching you how to both ask for things and to say no to things or other people in a calm manor, whilst also maintaining your self-respect and important relationships, without making situations worse. The skills inside this module are:
  • Clarifying Goals
  • Objective Effectiveness (Dear Man)
  • Relationship Effectiveness (Give)
  • Self-Respect Effectiveness (Fast)
  • Seeing another perspective (Think)
The last set of skills are Distress Tolerance Skills which are probably the ones that I found easiest to learn. These are a set of skills that can be used to teach you how to cope and deal with a crisis in a more effective way, without having to resort to using destructive or harmful behaviours. The skills within this module includes:
  • Distract
  • Self-Soothe
  • Improve The Moment
  • Pros and Cons
  • Radical Acceptance
  • TIPP Skills
I will be doing blog-posts on each different skill and I will leave a page at the top of my blog where each skill will be linked. I will do them in any order, but if there are any that you'd prefer to see sooner then please do let me know.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x


Sources & Links: 
Mind DBT 
Diary Card Example
What to include in a DBT Chain Anaysis
Photo

Friday, 2 February 2018

Benefit Gimme Brow Product Recall, Being Discontinued & Review

Back in what I believe was mid-2016, Benefit Cosmetics launched a huge range of 13 different beauty products, every single one being Brow products in different formulas, styles, applicators and shades.. there was bound to be something for everyone. This launch included not only brow filling products, but brow setting gel, a brow highlighting pencil and brow primer. The majority of the brow filling products are available in six different shades ranging from light to dark, meaning that you're able to find a product that suits your skin tone and hair shade the best.

Benefit Gimme Brow is a volumising eyebrow fibre gel that aims to make your brows look naturally fuller and thicker. It comes in a sleek silver packaging and its full size product is in 3g. I decided to opt for trying this product due to it still leaving your brows looking natural due to the fact that bolder, filled brows just don't work on me. This product is available in three different shades; 01 (light), 03 (medium) and 05 (deep). I was slightly hesitant to purchase this product as I believed that the best shade for me from their brow line was shade 02 which isn't available in the Gimme Brow. However, I went for shade 01 and was pleasantly surprised with the shade of this product, I find that it is buildable, you can use it straight onto your natural eyebrows or onto already filled in brows and it gives much different effects, making it versatile to how thick you may want your brows to look. Prior to trying this product eighteen months ago, I really struggled to find a reasonably priced brow product that doesn't leave my brows looking too dark, I really felt like the market was missing good quality brow products aimed for lighter tones and whenever I found a product that I had heard good reviews of, I couldn't find a shade light enough.



Having said all of this, it is a rather well-know fact that back in October 2017, more than a year after the product was placed on the market, the Benefit Gimme Brow was actually given a voluntary product recall from Benefit UK where it was explained that "out of an abundance of caution, we are initiating a voluntary recall of our Gimme Brow product after discovering that recent batches of the product did not meet our stringent quality standards. If applied in its normal usage on the brows, the Gimme Brow product doesn’t involve any risk. However, if it comes into contact with the eyes, it could lead to eye irritation." Benefit recommends that everyone who uses the Gimme Brow stops using the product and to return it to its original place of purchase for a full refund. 


Since this recall, the product has been taken off the market and now appears to be Out Of Stock on all of the websites that sell this product, suggesting that it has been discontinued which we aren't sure if it is temporary or long term. Due to the fact that I have personally had no issues with this product and I can't remember where I purchased from, let alone have the receipt, I have been using this product despite being advised not to. However, just a disclaimer, I don't recommend doing this as it could lead to eye irritation and it most likely means that the product could include a dangerous ingredient.

Overall, I really do hope that Benefit manages to resolve the issue soon and bring a much safer version of the product back onto the market. The product is long lasting and so easy to apply with its small brush applicator, it really does make your brows appear thicker and more fuller. The only downsize is that I find the product does dry up extremely quickly which is a shame as the more it dries out, the harder it is to apply. This product did cost £20 from the Benefit UK website.



Have you tried any of the other Benefit Brow products? Benefit have actually added a new feature to their website where you can not only find out which product would be best for you, but you can actually add a photo and see how the product would look on you.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Sunday, 28 January 2018

What's New? Urban Decay | January 2018

It feels like it has been a whole eternity since I last sat down and wrote up a post yet we are still in January?! I have had a very busy couple of weeks, hence the non existing posts and me failing at my new schedule.. however I was lucky enough to be invited to a Debenhams, Urban Decay event where I got to have a nose into all of their new products and launches as well as drink pink lemonade and mentally spend A LOT of money. I thought that it only made sense to share these exciting new launches with you that includes setting sprays, concealers, eyeshadow palettes and of course, a whole new collaborated range with Blogger Kristen Leanne. If you do find something that you like, then I have linked each product to both the Debenhams and Urban Decay websites so you can have a look for yourself.

Rebound Collagen-Infused Complexion Prep Priming Spray

Urban Decay are one of the few higher end brands that keep coming out with different types of primer/setting sprays, so many that I can't keep up. This setting spray is a hydrating spray that tightens and boosts radiance. It has a light yet refreshing scent and this spray in particular, is ideal for all skin types. Containing extracts of Chia Seed (which is a source of antioxidant vitamin E), Centella (which is an ancient healing herb) and Chameleon Plant, this formula firms, smooths and evens out skin tones and can be used throughout the day without smudging your makeup, in the morning before your makeup or in the evening if your skin needs a quick boost. When testing this spray on my hand, despite the scent not being strong, it still carries quite a bright yet pure aroma and is extremely light-weight. This product costs £26 from both Debenhams and Urban Decay UK in a 118ml bottle.

All Nighter Pollution Protection Environmental Defense Make Up Setting Spray

I'm not sure about you, but I have tried and fallen in love with the All Nighter Setting Spray so I feel that finding a setting spray that I love even more, would be quite difficult even if it is from the same range. This product is essentially the All Nighter Setting Spray with a twist and with added minerals that helps to shield against environmental damage. This Pollution Protection Spray includes a mixture of minerals including Zinc, Magnesium and Copper to help protect against oxidation and just like the All Nighter Setting Spray, still contains time-release temperature control technology that lowers the temperature of your makeup to help it last longer (up to 16 hours to be precise). This product is also £26 from Debenhams and Urban Decay UK but is slightly more pricey than the standard All Nighter Setting Spray which is £23.50.


Quick Fix Hydra-Charged Complexion Prep Priming Spray

I am aware that this isn't a completely new product, but I got to have a little look at this product for the first time at the event and therefore thought I would include it. This hydrating and soothing primer spray reduces the appearance of pores, brightens and smooths skin and replaces any lost moisture. It is a light-weight spray so can again be used throughout the day over the top of makeup but can equally be used after taking your makeup off or in the morning before applying makeup. This spray contains Vitamin B3 and Coconut Water enabling it to both nourish your skin and smell fresh. This spray definitely has a slightly different scent to the other Priming Sprays and Setting Sprays so it may be worth having a smell of the tester bottles before purchasing. This product is £23.50 from Debenhams and Urban Decay UK.


All Nighter Waterproof Full-Coverage Concealer

This is probably one of the most exciting launches for many people, myself included. This is yet another product from the All Nighter range and is a blendable, full-coverage concealer with an angled, flocked paddled applicator for precision upon applying. This product provides a full, matte coverage that lasts all day and all night whilst covering anything, including redness AND tattoos. This formula provides a much higher coverage than the Naked Skin Concealer and masks imperfections for 24 hours. A little goes a long way with this product and it includes a high-tech blend of polymers and humectants which provides ultra-long wear and prevents the product from settling into fine lines and pores. This concealer comes in 14 different shades from pale to deep and can be matches to your skin tone in Debenhams stores. It comes in the same luxurious packaging as the All Nighter Liquid Foundation and can be mixed with the Rebound Complexion Prep Priming Spray before applying to thin out the consistency but if you're not one for full coverage products, you might want to avoid this one. This product does dry down darker than when you first apply it, so make sure you wait for it to dry before picking your shade. This product costs £20 from Debenhams and Urban Decay UK. I have included some swatch photos below, the top photo is whilst the product is still wet and the bottom is once it has dried. 





Distortion Eyeshadow Palette

This stunning Limited Edition palette contains 15 different shadows, 10 of which are normal shadow shades and 5 being transformer hues which can be applied on top of shadows to give them a different shift due to their individual reflective pigments. This palette also has arrows and you can follow each arrow to create your own look. I have actually purchased this product and I cannot wait to play around with it. As always with Urban Decay, the packaging of this palette is insane and so reflective. I love how this palette is something completely different to ones we've seen before. It costs £39.50 from Debenhams and Urban Decay UK but be quick, because stores have limited stock!




UD X Kristen Leanne Kaleidoscope Dream Eyeshadow Palette

This palette is so quirky and so different but what can you expect when a palette is being designed by Kristen Leanne who is a big lover of self-expression. This palette is again Limited Edition and includes 11 vibrant shades, with each shade being named after something close to Kristen's heart. This palette is a mix of what I would class, everything scary inside an eye-palette due to it's vivid brights, it's unique yellow toned shade and even a split-pan duotone shade. This palette does look incredible and is probably my favourite collaborated palette so far, I love how unique it is and it even comes with a double ended brush. This palette is £28 from Urban Decay UK.



UD X Kristen Leanne Daydream Eyeshadow Palette

This Limited Edition palette is pretty much the complete opposite of the previous. It is a pretty, dainty looking palette with five gorgeous nude and matte shades, the perfect, dreamy palette for everyday use. The packaging of this product is honestly so stunning and completely girly. It again comes with a double ended brush and costs £25 from both Debenhams and Urban Decay UK.





UD X Kristen Leanne Beauty Beam Highlighter Palette

Let me just tell you.. the pigmentation of these highlighters is crazy. This Limited Edition Highlighter Palette is in a similar style to the Naked Flushed Palettes. This palette is gold toned and contains three, gorgeous shimmer shades which can be worn individually or together to create the perfect glow. I must admit though, when swatching these shades I did notice how only one shade would really work on my skin tone; the other two being too dark. Again, the packaging is absolutely beautiful and so unique. This palette costs £22 from Debenhams and Urban Decay UK.




UD X Kristen Leanne Vice Matte Lipsticks

Obviously a collection wouldn't be complete without some form of lip product and there are quite a few of them. The first set being Vice Matte Lipsticks. I have only tried a couple of the Vice Lipsticks but unfortunately neither of these have been their Matte ones. These three lipsticks within the range are all in the standard lipstick packaging but with a purple metallic shell and with Kristen's name written on them. First we have Cloud 9 which is a Comfort Matte Lipstick and is a vibrant purple. It is an absolute gorgeous, pretty toned purple but I am pretty sure I wouldn't be able to pull it off. Next is a much darker and deeper toned purple in the shade Spellbound which is a Mega Matte Lipstick. I did actually have the chance to swatch a Mega Matte lipstick but I have no clue how they would feel on the lips. Finally, we have Bun Bun which is another Comfort Matte and is a deep nude with pink/taupe undertones. These lipsticks are £16.50 each from Urban Decay UK.






UD X Kristen Leanne Vice Liquid Lipsticks

This liquid lipstick is in UD's Comfortable Matte Formula and is a true grey shade, hence the shade name being Grey. It comes in their Liquid Lipstick glass packaging with a metallic purple lid and is a very stunning colour, I just again, doubt I could pull it off, especially being quite fair. This costs £16.50 from Urban Decay UK.

The final product within this collection is a Vice Liquid Lipstick duo which is a set of two stunning nudes that would look great on any skin tone and could be pulled off for any occasion. This set costs £22 from Urban Decay UK.


That is all from me today, I hope you enjoyed having a nose into some of Urban Decays new products. If you'd like me to turn this into a series then do let me know as it has been fun, and thank-you to everyone who organised the event.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Friday, 12 January 2018

LUSH Cosmetics Valentine's Day Collection 2018

It has been a while since I last sat down and spoke to you about LUSH. Christmas has been and gone and we are onto a new year which means that new occasions and new products are just around the corner and first up is Valentine's Day which has always been one of my favourite occasions because I feel like the products are a bit more varied whereas until 2017, the Christmas products were pretty similar for a few years in a row, which is probably why some of the Christmas range products are my favourites.

This year, LUSH really seems to have changed things up in regards to Valentine's Day and some of the most popular products will not be making a return. Prince Charming Shower Cream (previously a shower gel) will not be returning, nor will Roller Bomb, Lover Lamp Bath Bomb (my absolute favourite), Ladybird Bubble Bar and Over and Over Bath Bomb is now part of the regular line. So overall, it doesn't look like the Valentine's Collection 2018 is off to a good start, and the Kitchen no longer exists so let's just hope that they bring out some old favourites as Exclusives. On the other hand, it looks like Unicorn Horn is staying which I am sure many people will be glad about, I am just hoping that it has a slightly more subtle scent than before because although Lavender can be used in lots of ways to help you relax and especially to help you sleep, there is only so much of it I can take. I am actually rather annoyed that LUSH have released a Giant version of the Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb alongside the regular size. I feel like this product is very hit or miss and I personally cannot stand the Rose Jam scent so it would have been nice if perhaps they brought back a different product from the previous Valentine's Day Collections. I do not own any of the photos used in this post and they can all be found on the LUSH UK website here. These products are currently only available to buy online as part of their pre-release.


Bath Bombs:

Top: Love Boat
Bottom Left: Rose Bombshell
Bottom Right: Titsy Tosty
Love Boat Bath Bomb £4.25 - This is a brand new product that is Vegan and contains Rose Oil, Orange Oil and Lemon Oil which sounds like the scent would be very zesty and uplifting. This product is shaped as a boat and has a bright pink and blue shell. I really feel that LUSH are trying to move away from their sphere shaped products.

Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb £4.50 - I believe that this product first made an appearance in the Mother's Day range for 2015, but came back for Mother's Day 2016 with a complete revamp. This product couldn't look any different if it tried. I mentioned above how I dislike the Rose Jam scent and I am also not fond at all of having bits in my bath, even if they are leaves or petals, it's just not really my sort of thing and does not relax me in the slightest. If you aren't aware of the Rose Jam scent, this product contains Rose Oil, Yellow Rose Petals, Rose Absolute and Geranium Oil.

Titsy Tosty Bath Bomb £3.50 - This is a product that I have previously tried but this year, it is pink whereas in previous years it was white. I presume that they have made it pink for the occasion but it is strange for them to not change the name. However, this product also contains flowers and petals and therefore again, is not one for me. This product contains Seven Rosebuds, Rose Absolute, Jasmine Absolute and Orris Root Powder which I think is a quite unusual ingredient as I haven't really seen it within products before.

Giant Rose Bombshell £14.95 - I cannot tell you exactly how big this product is as I haven't seen it in store yet but this seems like one hefty bath bomb and is describes as 'The Ultimate Romantic Bath'. The first time that I really took an interest into a larger bath bomb was of Easter 2016 when I discovered Humpty Dumpty Bath Bomb but I even didn't want to spend around £7 on a 'larger' bath bomb so for this product to be sold for just under £15, how big is it? £15 is a lot of money to spend on one bath and if you're only spending that amount of money once a year for a nice, 'luxury' bath then that's fair enough, but how much better than the original is the product? I would like to see it compared to three regular sized Rose Bombshell Bath Bombs which would still be cheaper. If you hadn't caught on yet, this product includes exactly the same ingredients as Rose Bombshell, and looks the same.. just much bigger.


Bubble Bars:

Left: Unicorn Horn
Top Right: Heart Of Enlightened Expectation
Bottom Right: Whole Lotta Love
Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar £4.50 - I believe that Unicorn Horn was initially released in 2015 and has been a popular choice of Bubble Bar ever since. This product is shaped as a 'unicorn horn' and is multicoloured in bright blue, yellow and pink, making it even more magical. Unicorns have been a really popular theme and sort of obsession over the past couple of years so I feel that LUSH did well to create such a clever and trendy product which they recently managed to do again with bringing out a Bubble Spinner last year when the Fidget Spinner trend was at its peak. This product contains Lavender Oil, Neroli Oil and Ylang Ylang Oil, which if I remember correctly, was a very uplifting and relaxing scent.

Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroon £4.75 - I am so excited to try out this product, it contains Lemongrass Oil, Rose Absolute, Shea Butter and Murumuru Butter which should be so creamy and moisturising, leaving your skin super soft. I absolutely love the consistency of Bubbleroon's and am so eager to try this product in particular. Looking at the demo, it also appears to drastically change the water colour to a deep pinkish, red which ties in nicely with the Valentine's theme. This product is shaped in a macaroon style but as a heart and is so cute.

Heart Of Enlightened Expectation Bubble Bar Melt £4.50 - I am actually yet to try a Bubble Bar Melt and am therefore intrigued as to how it works and how well it works. This product does look gorgeous, and anything that seems like it has lots of Gold in it is always a favourite of mine. This product contains Jasmine Absolute, Rose Absolute, Geranium Oil and Cocoa Butter so therefore is a very floral based scent that is apparently soothing and calming. This product is in a heart shape and is super cute with an orange base and white top. I am so pleased that this product contains cocoa butter as it is one of my absolute favourite ingredients.


Shower Gels/Creams & Soaps:

Tender Is The Night Naked Shower Cream £14.50 - Despite it's good causes, shower cream's that don't come in a bottle is something that I can't quite get my head around and is something I wouldn't want to purchase due to it sounding very messy and quite annoying if there is no labels on it explaining the ingredients of the product itself. However, like I did mention, I am aware and do appreciate that it is for a good cause and does mean that there will be less waste. I overheard a LUSH employee once explain to a girl how the product does in fact lather up into a shower gel consistency and not just a soap which again, I just can't understand but according to LUSH's website, their naked shower gels are double the concentrate as their liquid shower gels. I really can't explain how much of a good idea I think this Naked product collection is, it just isn't something I am particulary interested in and I think that it is a shame that this product hasn't also been launched as a regular Shower Cream as I know that myself and probably many others would have been keen to try it. This product contains Jasmine Flower Infusion, Ylang Ylang Oil, Shea Butter and Vanilla Absolute.

Tunnel Of Love Soap £5.94 - I think that people, including myself often forget how wonderful some of LUSH's soaps really are. I am not somebody to use bar's of soap in particular so any that I accumulate seems to always go to waste, even my favourite soap ever (Honey I Washed The Kids). Tunnel Of Love is a soap that I haven't previously heard of and therefore is probably new. It is pink with a cute white heart shape in the center and contains Rose Water, Lime Oil, Kaolin and Olibanum Resinoid. This definitely sounds like it could be a zesty, fruity scented soap that would probably be perfect for the warmer months.


Other Products: 

Cherryish Body Scrub £7.95 - This product is a solid body scrub in the shape of a heart with two cherry's on it. This product contains Ground Cherry Stones, Almond Essential Oil, Cocoa Absolute and Coconut Oil as well as Cocoa Butter and Sea Salt. This product sounds like one that I would love, it has multiple of my favourite ingredients inside and would smell divine as well as being so exfoliating, softening and soothing. I don't usually reach for solid body scrubs but I may have to give this product a go.
Top Left: Kiss Me Quick Wash Card
Top Right: The Kiss Lip Scrub
Bottom Left: Cherryish Body Scrub
Bottom Center: Melt My Heart Massage Bar
Bottom Right: The Kiss Lip Gloss

Melt My Heart Massage Bar £5.95 - I don't currently own a LUSH massage bar, but I know from past experience that they work really well on scars, softening, fading and reducing the itchiness of them. This massage bar has love engraved onto the front and contains Cypress Oil, Dried Rose Petals, Cocoa Butter and Olibanum Resinoid and seems to be a fairly herbal scent with a hint of orange (I could be completely wrong).

Kiss Me Quick Wash Card £2.00 - Wash Cards are something that I tried once, hated, used up as quickly as I could and then never purchased again but they must work for some people or LUSH wouldn't keep bringing them out. Wash cards are defiitely down there with some of the cheapest products in the LUSH store but compared to the wash cards that I previously tried, that were rather boring and just contained a quote.. this one seems small and is in the shape of some lips. I think that this wash card is designed as a one time thing which I think would be really good as there is nothing worse than trying to dry out products, my house has looked more like a LUSH factory than a home more times than I would like to admit. This wash card contains Clove Bud Oil, Mimosa Absolute, Fresh Apple Pulp and Tonka Absolute.

The Kiss Lip Scrub £5.95 - I feel that this product has been around for a year or two but I haven't actually managed to try it. I used to love the LUSH lip scrubs when I was about ten years old but haven't looked back although I feel like maybe it is time to look into getting one due to the fact that nothing seems to be able to cure my matte liquid lipstick damaged lips. This product includes Caster Sugar, Sicillian Mandarin Oil, Almond Essential Oil and Fine Sea Salt so would be perfect for repairing and then moisturising your lips. 

The Kiss Lip Gloss £6.50 - This product comes in LUSH's classic lipstick and lip gloss packaging and is a light, sheer shade of pink that looks so moisturising on the lips. It is meant to be rich and conditioning due to it containing Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, Cupuacu Butter and Coconut Oil. I am pretty sure that this product has been around for at least four or five years now and it is one of those products that I always spot, but never think to pick up.



Gift Sets:

Top Left: Love Hearts
Bottom Left: Lots Of Love
Top Right: In Your Dreams
Center Right: With Love
Bottom Right: Love Box
Love Hearts Gift Set £24.95 - I absolutely love looking at LUSH gift sets despite the fact that the total value of the products inside is often less than the set itself and you're usually paying for the pretty decoration. However, you can often find little gems within gift sets including limited edition items or even discontinued items. This first gift set comes inside a cute heart themed box and includes five different products which are; Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroon, Titsy Tosty Bath Bomb, Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar, Love Boat Bath Bomb and Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb. Everything inside this set is from the Valentine's Day collection and you get enough products for around three baths. I love the variety of bubble bars and bath bombs within this set and think it would be perfect for those who love in particular the Valentine's collection with the floral, fruity scents. The contents inside this product comes to £21.50 meaning you're paying £3.45 for the packaging which is very pretty but you could also probably achieve yourself with a little bit of effort and slightly less money.

In Your Dreams Gift Set £11.75 - This is one of the smaller gift sets within this collection and includes two products which are the Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar and the Love Boat Bath Bomb. The product value of this box if the products were bought separately is £8.75.

With Love Gift Set £12.95 - This is another small gift set which again includes two items, these being Ro's Argan Body Conditioner 45g and Tender Is The Night Naked Shower Cream 120g. This is definitely a set for those who maybe don't own a bath or just don't like bath's and this set contains a product from the everyday line. It isn't possible to give the value of the products individually due to the fact that the Ro's Argan Body Conditioner comes in a smaller, tester size. I have included a link to this product on the LUSH website in case you wanted to know more about it.

Lots Of Love Gift Set £57.50 - LUSH almost always brings out a bigger and slightly more expensive gift set and this is the one for Valentine's Day. It comes in the cutest box that can be kept and includes nine items which are actually all Valentine's Day exclusives minus one. The products inside are; Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb, Sex Bomb Bath Bomb, Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroon, Heart Of Enlightened Expectation, Tunnel Of Love Soap 120g, Tender Is The Night Naked Shower Cream 120g, Melt My Heart Massage Bar, Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar and Cherryish Body Scrub. The only product not being an exclusive is Sex Bomb Bath Bomb which is a well known product in LUSH's regular line. Again, I have added a link in case you wanted more information but it currently costs £3.75. It also again wouldn't be possible to say the precise value of the products purchased separately.

Love Box Gift Set £28.95 - This product contains four different products that are all from the Valentine's Day Collection and includes; Tender Is The Night Naked Shower Cream 120g, Melt My Heart Massage Bar, The Kiss Lip Scrub and Cherrylish Body Scrub. This box seems to focus more on the body and would again be suitable for those who either don't have or dislike baths. 


Knot Wraps:

Cherry Baby Knot Wrap £3.95 (50cmX50cm) -  This product has a bright and summery floral design with cherry's and hearts. If you want to add some brightness to your day, this is the one for you.
Top Left: Cherry Baby
Bottom Left: Roses
Top Right: All Together Now
Bottom Right: Good Valentine


All Together Now Knot Wrap £4.95 (70cmX70cm) - This Knot Wrap is quite a unique design and I do really like it. It is all about how we are tied to the planet in one way or another so we might as well all stand together to save the world from plastic. 

Good Valentine Knot Wrap £3.95 (50cmX50cm) - This design is in a vintage, dirty orange shade and has a boarder made from black hearts. In the middle is five steps on how to be a good valentine. I like this product and the humor surrounding it.

Roses Knot Wrap £4.95 (70cmX70cm) - This final Knot Wrap is a very vintage yet quirky rose design. It has bright red roses contrasting on a bright blue background and despite being vintage, is very trendy right now.

Overall, it's no secret that I am disappointed with the 2018 Pre-Released Valentine's Collection. I feel that LUSH have missed a vital opportunity to bring back some all time favourites but instead everything is the same. We have products with the same or similar scents, many products containing dried flowers, petals or leaves, a naked shower cream that many people aren't brave enough to spend the money on in case we hate it, four knot wraps and a bunch of face and body products that we've all seen before in slightly different variations. The products that I will be trying to pick up are; Unicorn Horn Bubble Bar, Love Boat Bath Bomb, Whole Lotta Love Bubbleroon and Heart Of Enlightened Expectation Bubble Bar Melt but on a brighter note, they will only add up to a total of £18 so I have saved myself some money.

Which products are you excited for? Which will you be missing? 


Thank-you for reading, Tay x
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