Tuesday, 29 September 2015

My holiday essentials

I have recently got back from a week in Lanzarote with my boyfriend. I had an amazing time and I will tell you alllll about it soon.

Today's post is all about my holiday essentials. The few items that I can not live without when I go on holiday abroad.

First of all are my sunglasses If you read my recent Weekend Sale Finds post, you will have read that I purchased my Michael Korrs sunglasses at Bicester Village. I love sunglasses! I think they make everyone looks great and I took every opportunity I had to put on these glasses in Lanzarote.  I also do not want wrinkles from squinting in the sun!

I also need some good suntan lotion. I love the Nivea Sun Protect and Bronze range which has a built in tan activating protecting oil. I have very pale sensitive skin so I usually wear SPF 20 so I don't burn. It takes me a lot longer to tan than most people but at least I won't have damaged skin from the sun.

However, if you read my lastest skin update post you will have seen that my skin didn't exactly react very well to my suntan lotion. Think I will need to be finding myself a new one for next summer.

I always need some reading material for the plane and the beach/pool.  This year I didn't take any books with me and just took the October 2015 issue of Elle magazine, to spend my time dreaming of all the clothes I desperately need in my life.

When I am not reading, I love nothing more than just lying in the sun listening to music on my iPhone. This is where my earphones come in. I downloaded lots of new songs for my phone in readiness for my holiday to enable me to have a good sing song in my head whilst catching some rays.

For the first time ever, I also downloaded some TV shows for my phone, to occupy me on the plane. I am so angry at myself for not thinking of doing this before. Watching Made in Chelsea made my 4 hour journey fly by. No pun intended.

To carry all of this, you need to have a good beach bag. I have a bright pink Kurt Geiger back which matches my bright pink bikini from Boux Avenue.  It is a big bag so it fits everything I need to carry around with me all day, even my towel. I purchased this from Shoeaholics which you can purchase in peach or yellow here.

I always like to have some comfy shoes to walk around in for the day and I love these white sandals from Topshop which were only £28.00. They are so comfy and look great with a pair of denim hight waisted shorts.

It is always beneficial to take a few sleep in rollers with you. Even though the second my hair hits humidity I end up looking like Monica from Friends in Barbados, it still seems to go flat on top. I hate my hair flat and want as much volume as possible. That is why I pack 6 sleep in rollers with me when I go away. I put them in whilst I get ready, give them a quick blast with my hair dryer before I take them out and my hair has some volume at the roots.
The rollers are currently on offer for only £16.16 here.

The one item I literally could not live without on holiday is my Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. It is MAGICAL. If you want to see my review on this product, have a look here.

What can't you live without when you go on holiday?

Love Lauren

Sunday, 27 September 2015

L'Oreal Paris Elnett Heat Protecting Styling Spray Review

I have very dry and damaged hair and have to be careful of the damage my hairdryer and straighteners can do to my hair.

I have always used ghd Heat Protect Spray and have used this now for years. I have tried a few other products in that time but have always gone back to ghd Heat Protect Spray as nothing has been as good.

I realised a couple of days before I went on holiday that I was running VERY low on my ghd Heat Protect spray and didn't have enough time to order some online before I went away.

I hunted around the town of Halesowen where I work to see if any of the hair salons sold it or anything similar this and nowhere did!!

I ended up having to just pick up something from the local Wilkinson to keep me going. I came across the L'Oreal Heat Protect Styling Spray and thought I may as well give this a try.

I was pleasantly surprised with how good this actually was! My boyfriend actually asked me what I had done differently to my hair to make it so smooth and shiny!

It makes my hair so much more manageable and noticeably less dry. I can't believe it has actually made the difference it has. I just wish I had come across this sooner.

I used to pay £9.95 for my ghd spray, whereas the L'Oreal spray is only £4.00 from Wilkinson.

Goodbye ghd Heat Protect Spray, I will be sticking to my L'Oreal Heat Protect Styling Spray from now on.

Has anyone else used this? Do you have any other heat defence sprays you would recommend?

Love Lauren

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Book Review - Bad Girls by Rebecca Chance

When I arrived at Birmingham airport two weeks ago, I realised I didn't have a book with me to read on my holiday. I popped to W H Smiths in the airport to have a look for one. 

I decided to choose 'Bad Girls' by Rebecca Chance.

The synopsis is as follows - "Stunning supermodel Amber Peters should have the world at her feet. But her secret addiction has led her down a dangerous path - and given her a deadly enemy. Lap dancer Skye Ellwood is desperate to escape her tawdry life, but has no idea how - until a client makes her a proposition she can't refuse. Following an ultimatum from his fiancee, gorgeous A-list movie star Joe Jeffreys is finally heading to rehab to sort out his sex addiction - and save his squeaky-clean image. Spoiled daughter of a legendary rock god, Petal Gold is convinced she's a huge star in waiting, and she'll trample on anyone she thinks is standing in her way. Passion, jealously, betrayal, revenge and scandal: during their tumultuous thirty days in LA at the Cascabel rehab clinic, the lives of Amber, Skye, Joe and Petal will be transformed forever. But for one of them, the stakes could not be higher - nor the situation more dangerous..."

I did enjoy reading this book as it is so easy to read and kept me intrigued as to what will happen to the characters next. When you are chilling next to a swimming pool with lots going on around you, you need something easy to read and not something that you need to really concentrate on, Bad Girls is perfect for this , a great holiday read.

Rebecca Chance starts the book explaining the life of each of the main four characters, My only criticism is that it was quite far in to the book when the characters finally interacted with each other in rehab. 

Due to the detail in respect of the background of each of the characters, you feel connected to the characters. I personally enjoyed reading about Amber and Skye the most. Though, I did actually like all four characters. The book is full of drama and had quite a few surprises that kept me on the edge of my seat (well sunbed). 

If you are looking for a nice easy read with lots of backstabbing, sex and drama then I would definitely recommend giving this book a read. After reading Bad Girls, I will be buying another Rebecca Chance book very soon. 

Does anyone have any good recommendations as to what book I should read next?

Love Lauren

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Six weeks in to my no Sodium Lauryl Sulphate trial

Here is my weekly skin update for all of you, showing how well my skin is coping without the use of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.

I got back from a week in Lanzarote a few days ago and usually when I am away, my skin improves dramatically.

Unfortunately this time, my face took a disliking to my sun tan lotion.

I was using Nivea Sun Protect and Bronze Factor 30. It doesn't contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate but there must be something in this that my skin doesn't like. Which is a bit annoying as my skin was fine wearing it in May earlier this year.

The suntan lotion was fine everywhere but my face and chest which both ended up red and blotchy. As soon as I started to use my boyfriend's sun tan lotion (Boots Soltan sun tan lotion) my skin started to heal within a couple of hours. So if you do have sensitive skin, maybe only use Nivea Protect and Bronze on your body, and use a different sun tan lotion on your face.

My skin now is a little pink in the cheeks as usual but has improved dramatically over the last couple of days.

I will continue to try to stay away from any product that contains Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and update you every few weeks as to whether my skin is still improving or not.

If anyone has any recommendations as to any natural products you can reommend, especially suntan lotions, please let me know :)

Love Lauren

Friday, 18 September 2015

My top 5 favourite MAC lipsticks I own with swatches

I adore MAC lipsticks. I literally don't think I could ever have too many of them! Today I am going to share with you my 5 favourite lipsticks that I own in no particular order.

First of all there is Lady Danger. I have already reviewed this for you here where I showed you my red MAC lipsticks. This is a coral-red colour with a matte finish. This is my favourite red lipstick at MAC as I love how bright it is, it is a perfect red shade for summer.

Next on my list is Chatterbox. This was either the second or third MAC lipstick I purchased and as you can see, I have nearly used the lipstick up. I think I could possibly say this is my favourite MAC lipstick and that is a bold statement! I love how I can wear this pretty much anywhere, it isn't too much to wear every day to work but it still stands out enough to wear when going out for a few drinks too.  The colour looks a little brighter in the bullet than it actually is when applied to the lips. It is an amplified creme lipstick, so it doesn't dry out your lips at all. MAC describes Chatterbox as bright red pink but personally I would describe it as Barbie pink!

Then there is Rebel. This is a satin finish and it looks so much darker in the bullet than it does on your lips. I love how you can build up the colour to however dark you wish your lips to be. It is a pink/purple berry colour and is perfect for a sultry/vampy look. It is also very long wearing, I barely have to top this colour up when I wear it. I would highly recommend you using the MAC lipliner 'currant' when using Rebel.

I also love Faux. This is another lipstick which is wearable for both work and play. Faux is a mauve-pink colour with a satin finish. I find this colour compliments my skin tone both when I have a tan and when I have my naturally ghostly pale skin.

Finally there is Love Lorn. I only purchased this lipstick in March this year but I really love it. It is such an easy colour to wear and I often wear this to work. It is described by MAC as emotive blue pink and has a lustre finish to it. It leaves such a glossy shine to your lips and keeps your lips nice and moisturised. 

What are your favourite MAC lipstick colours? Does anyone have any recommendations as to what I should buy next?

Love Lauren

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Five weeks in to my no Sodium Lauryl Sulphate trial

As you saw last week, my skin has dramatically improved over the last four weeks since I stopped using products that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.

This week my skin has been pretty clear with a couple of dry patches here and there which only seem to last a couple of hours. I have been testing out a few new skincare products and some new allergy tablets, I will talk to you about these soon.

As always, here is a weekly photo of my skin a couple of days ago with no make up on. It is pretty clear, just with a little redness but it isn't dry or raised at the moment, so the red goes straight away with make up on.

I am currently on holiday at the moment in Lanzarote. My skin is usually it's best when I go abroad, so hopefully next week I will be able to report to you that my skin is tanned and glowing...... I can wish!

As my skin isn't really changing much week by week anymore, after next week I will be posting my Sodium Lauryl Sulphate posts every month so that I am able to give you a more detailed analysis on how my skin is coping.

Love Lauren

Thursday, 10 September 2015

My sale finds this weekend

I spent pretty much all of last weekend shopping and I therefore feel I should share with you some of the bargains I purchased in the sales.

First of all I went to Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands. As I was going on holiday, I decided I needed a new holdall bag for the plane seeing as mine is literally falling to bits and I can't bare to be seen with it. When I went on a hen party a few months ago my friend Jade had a lovely bag and I couldn't believe it when she said she purchased it from Primark.

So that was my first stop. Straight away I found this lovely faux leather holdall bag which was reduced from £14.00 to £7.00. I purchased it straight away as I knew I wasn't going to find a bag that looks as good as this for so cheap.

Now this will show my age. I Next I decided to have a look in Marks and Spencer at their homeware range as they had 10% off all homeware that weekend. I recently purchased a dinner set from there, so I decided to purchase white mugs to match which with the discount only cost me £19.20 for 6 mugs!

The following day I decided to visit Bicester Village in Oxfordshire. This is probably my favourite place in the country! I absolutely LOVE it! But do not love the temptation of buying things when I am meant to be saving for a house!

My first mission was to find some sunglasses for my holiday. I had seen so many lovely black Celine glasses online that I had to visit Celine first. Unfortunately, only coloured glasses were in stock. I was heartbroken.

After going in every single shop looking for sunglasses, I came across these sunglasses from Michael Korrs which were reduced from £120.00 to £79.00. What an absolute bargain! I can not wait to wear them on holiday now!

To make myself not feel so bad for spending so much money when I am meant to be saving hardcore, I decided to treat myself to some Cath Kidston oven gloves. Which are for my new house, so it's fine if I spend money on that right?! These were reduced from £14.00 to £9.00.

I clearly didn't think I had done enough spending, so I went on to ASOS to see what I could find on them. I subscribe to ELLE Magazine each month and in last months issue, they gave away a 20% off ASOS card, so I had to use it as I couldn't waste it.

I came across a lovely black textured blazer that had been reduced from £50.00 to £25.00. I don't have many blazers, so I took this as my opportunity to get one. It looks lovely on and is such a bargain. If you want to have a look at it, click here.

I also found the cutest Paperchase cat highlighters on ASOS too which were only £3.00 for the pack. As soon as I saw them, I knew I needed them. As I was about to order them however, my lovely boyfriend informed me that he had already ordered them for me. He knows me too well.

I love a good bargain! Has anyone else come across any good bargains lately?

Love Lauren

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

My Holiday Nails - Nails 4 U review

So yesterday I decided to have my nails done ready for my holiday on Thursday.

I work in Halesowen, West Midlands so I decided to get them done on my lunch break. The nearest salon near my office is Nails 4 U which is situated near the main shopping centre in Halesowen town centre. This is a Vietnamese American Nail Salon. I popped in and luckily they said they could do my nails there and then.

I have had nail extensions on now for about 2 months and my nails underneath the extensions are now pretty long. The girl who was doing my nails suggested taking my extensions off and just giving me nail overlays instead so I could just have the length of my natural nails which was a great idea to me. She told me it would only cost me £22.

She applied acrylic to my natural nails before painting them a 'Barbie pink' colour as I wanted a bright pink colour for my holiday. Also I know a lot of people will now say, 'oh my god acrylic nails are bad for your nails etc.' but I am so heavy handed that when I have tried Gel or Shellac nails, they snap off after about a week, so acrylic seems to be the only thing that actually keeps my nails looking good for a solid 4 weeks.

Has anyone had anything other than acrylic that I could as for instead which is strong enough for me?

I love my nails and the shape they have been filed in to which is slightly pointy but not too much, so I can easily type with them on.

The only criticism I have is that the staff aren't exactly the friendliest there. Usually when you visit hair or beauty salons, you spend your whole time there chatting away with whoever is doing your hair/nails and they are usually quite chatty bubbly people. The people at Nails 4 U basically do not talk to you for the whole time you are there, they only talk when they need to ask you what shape or colour you desire. They did a good job of my nails though, so I will let them off.

Not only does having nail extensions make my hands look much more feminine, they actually stop me from causing any damage by scratching when my whole body itches from my eczema flare ups due to how blunt the nails are. If you have eczema or any other skin problems and have never tried nail extensions before, give them a go for a month and see whether it helps you. You will be surprised!

Love Lauren

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Four weeks in to my no Sodium Lauryl Sulphate trial

It is Sunday again, which means it is time for my weekly update on how my skin is coping without using any products that contains Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.

My skin hasn't really changed much in the last couple of weeks to be honest. I haven't had any more reactions during the week and have managed to stay completely clear of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate since I used the Olay Daily Facial cloths a few weeks ago without realising they contained Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, causing my bad reaction that I showed you all in my post here.

My skin is thankfully less red this week than it has been in months and the only problem I have suffered with is a couple of days of dry skin on my forehead, but that could just be due to the change in the weather as it has been horribly cold this past week hasn't it?!

Here is a photo of my skin today so you can see my progress.

It does seem like using non Sodium Lauryl Sulphate products is helping my skin condition and I can only hope it continues to get better. If you want to see what products I am using that do not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, have a look at my previous post here.

Love Lauren

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Makeup Brush shampoo review

As you may remember from my previous blog post showing my new beauty products that do not contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate  (have a peek here if you haven't seen it yet) I purchased a new gentle shampoo to wash my make up brushes.

After hunting around the shops for over an hour for a baby/kids shampoo that doesn't contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate I finally managed to come across Halo n Horns Kids shampoo. It really surprised me that so many baby products contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, even the products which claimed to be for sensitive skin and 'gentle' on the skin, yet they contain a skin irritant?! It baffles me!

Anyway, I am here to review Halo n Horns Kids shampoo, not rant on and on about Sodium Lauryl Sulphate again.

As you will see on the second photo, here are the ingredients:-

'Aqua , Decyl Glucoside , Cocamide DEA , Acrylates Copolymer , Cocamidopropyl Betaine , Glycerin , Diazolidinyl Urea , Parfum , Disodium EDTA , Starch Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride , Urea , Sodium Hydroxide , Sodium Chloride , Sodium Lactate , Sodium Benzoate , Denatonium Benzoate , CI 47005 , CI 42090 .'

No sulphates! Yay! It also doesn't contain any phthalates, MIT, parabens, Triclosan or propylene glycol. It is hypoallergenic and is not tested on animals! It is ticking all of my boxes here.

The colour is a pale green translucent gel and the smell is amazing. It smells just like melons! My brushes also smell lovely after using this as they have a faint smell of mango the first time I use any of them after washing.

At first I thought the shampoo cleaned my brushes much easier than my previous shampoos, however after a few uses I find that it seems to take a bit more cleaning than normal to ensure my brushes are thoroughly clean. However, all in all I think this is a great find and I will definitely be buying this again when I run out.

You can purchase this shampoo for only £2.00 from ASDA here.

If you want to see how I deep clean my make up brushes, take a look at my previous post here.

What do you use to clean your make up brushes?

Love Lauren

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Lyttelton Arms review

Last weekend I went to the Lyttelton Arms in Stourbridge, West Midlands for a nice evening meal. It is a very stylish pub village pub with an amazing cocktail menu.

We sat down at 7:00pm in the dining area and the waitress came running over straight away to take our drinks order. After spending around ten minutes deciding which cocktail to have and probably driving the poor waitress insane with my indecisiveness with regards to which drink to choose, I finally decided to try a Chambord Royale which is Prosecco mixed with raspberry liqueur with a raspberry on the side. It was definitely worth the ten minutes it took me to decide upon it.

The waitress brought out a big jug of water and lots of lovely complimentary artisan rustic bread for us to share whilst choosing what food we wanted from the menu.

Luckily, this didn't take me as long to decide as my drink. I decided to have a change for once, as I usually like to stick to ordering either a burger or sausage and mash wherever I go. I decided to try Pan-fried Potato Gnocchi which comes with asparagus, peas, spinach, poached egg and toasted spiced sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

This was a very unusual choice for me as I think this may have been the first time I have ever ordered a meal that is completely meat free, so my only worry was that I might find the meal slightly 'boring'. I was wrong, it was amazing and ever so filling. I will definitely choose this again the next time I go back to the Lyttelton and I will be hunting online to find myself a similar recipe to cook for myself.

Does anyone know of a good gnocchi recipe?

Even though I couldn't manage to eat all of my main course, there is still always room for dessert!! I ordered Sticky Toffee Pudding with Ice Cream. It was delicious!  Please ignore how dark this photo is, as when it turned 9:00pm they dimmed the lights and my flash on my camera decided it didn't want to play anymore.

All in all, I had a lovely meal and a few drinks to follow. The service was great  and very prompt and the prices are very reasonable with my cocktails only costing around £7.00 and my main meal costing £10.95.

If you want to have a look at the menu, take a look on their website here.

If you are ever in the Stourbridge area, I would thoroughly recommend popping to The Lyttelton Arms for a few drinks or a bite to eat.

Love Lauren