Category Archives: Reviews

Products that really work # 2

I love, really love making recommendations to people, especially when I then get a message saying ‘that [thing] you recommended is wonderful and I love it’. My last post Products that really work went down a storm, so I thought I’d do another one with some more stuff that I’ve found and loved*.

*and have paid for myself I must add, no sponsored products.

As before, a list and then all the chat:

  1. Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation – £9.99, here
  2. Bourjois Mat Illusion Bronzing powder – £7.99, here
  3. Mizon Snail repair intensive ampoule – £12.98, here
  4. Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser – £8.99, here
  5. Super Facialist Probiotic Micellar Cleansing Water – £6.99, here
  6. Art Naturals Argan Oil Hair Mask – £12.95, here
  7. Clinique Pop Lip (in Passion Pop) – £16, here
  8. Estée Lauder Double Wear stay-in-place eye pencil (in coffee) – £16.50, here
  9. Estée Lauder Magic Smoky powder shadow stick (in slow burn) – £18, here
  10. Superdrug Solait Face Fluid SPF30 – £3.49, here

Wow, look at that, all under £20 as well so they won’t break the bank. This first one is my total gem and I’ve been recommending it all over the place to people and they all love it too…

Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation is quite simply very lovely. Light, luminous and sheer but makes skin look great. Ok for my combination/oily skin although doesn’t have crazy amazing staying power, it will last you a day at work or a night out but probably not both without a touch up. Huge bonus is the fact that it evens out my complexion but you can still see my freckles through it. I like this even more than a lot of the expensive foundations I try and I try a lot. Not a massive range of colours depending where you go but I actually bought completely the wrong colour and it was still ok!

Bourjois Mat Illusion Bronzing powder is a daily wear for me. I bought the light one because I was still winter pale, but will be buying the other shade too for summer. Really nice, natural shade, no gaudy shimmer and can replace your powder if you use one. Friends asked where I’d got my tan from… it was this.

Mizon Snail repair intensive ampoule sounds a bit yuck putting snail slime on your face but given the results I have, I’d drink it if they said I needed to. Hormonal spot scars are almost completely faded and the dehydration ‘wrinkles’ on my forehead are gone after just a week.

Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser and Super Facialist Probiotic Micellar Cleansing Water. I bought both of these because all the fancy things I was using were irritating my skin. Both just lovely and gentle and have calmed and balanced my skin out over the last month. It’s much less oily, clearer and I don’t get a fright when I wake up in the morning.

Art Naturals Argan Oil Hair Mask – I haven’t had my hair cut since before Christmas and I think it’s thanks to this that it’s not dry, damaged or split. Really lovely and thick (I used it every time I wash, not just once a week) but doesn’t make your hair feel weighed down, just nice and healthy. Also doesn’t have a really strong smell, which for me is a plus (Moroccan Oil wafts everywhere).

Clinique Pop Lip – I have this in a different colour and if I’m honest, wasn’t blown away. However, this in ‘Passion Pop’ (lovely blue-red as they call it) is wonderful. Hydrating and long-lasting, doesn’t need much topping up and doesn’t dry my lips out like other fancy reds (hiya MAC).

Estée Lauder Double Wear stay-in-place eye pencil and Estée Lauder Magic Smoky powder shadow stick. Ok, these seem expensive for what you’re getting but it is totally worth it. The eye pencil I got in a lovely dark brown and it’s perfect for every-day wear. Combined with the Urban Decay primer (in previous post), it won’t budge at all and it comes with a nice little smudger on the other end. The shadow stick is frankly fabulous. Most shadow pencils are cream formulas which can smudge and crease everywhere, but this is powder – draw it on and smudge it out with a nice little brush and you’re set. Really nice shimmer that’s not too 90s and can layer up from daytime to night – I’ll be buying other colours.

Superdrug Solait Face Fluid SPF30 is great with summer coming. I don’t think you could wear this daily under makeup as it’s a bit too thick but this is always in my bag when I’m on holiday. Not greasy and won’t clog up the pores on your face like a normal sun cream might. They also do SPF50 and Boots do their version as well.

Let me know how you get on with these or any of the things from the first post.

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The Cult Beauty stash

The one where I spend loads of money on skincare so you don’t have to. I was after some new skincare to fulfill my resolution for the year to look after my skin. The guys at Cult Beauty were really helpful on Twitter and gave some recommendations based on my skin issues. 

So, what did I think?

Emma Hardie Moringa Balm and exfoliating seeds (I bought this direct from EH because I wanted the exfoliating seeds too)- you can’t do much of anything without seeing someone talking about this stuff. After using it for a few weeks, I can say that I love it but don’t feel like my skin can cope with it every day so it’s become more of a skincare treat for me. It smells like you’re in a spa and feels like a total luxury when you use it (especially if you get the free candles too!). Mixed with these little exfoliating seeds and suddenly you have an amazing smelling scrub. The flannel/muslin that you get is far better than any other counterparts I’ve used (Liz Earle and Aurelia). I’d definitely buy this again but go easy if you have tempremental skin. I’d LOVE if they started selling the candles because if fill my home with them. From here, £38 and £15

DNA Renewal foaming gel – I wanted to love this, I really did. It looks like it’s going to work and promises a lot. Sadly I think it was too potent for my skin, it also didn’t foam as much as I’d like and instead of a nice refreshing scent, it kind of smells chemical. On a side note, the tube may look good but trying to store it is a nightmare. From here, £17.50

Eos lip balm – I loved this, until someone told me that in the US there is some kind of law suit against them because they’ve been making people’s lips sore. Not sure on that one (I loved it on use but did find that my lips got drier than normal after) but I’d like it if they perhaps came up with a new formula that didn’t because then I would never be without one ever again. From here, £5.99

Resultime eye cream – This one is tough because I’ll be the first to admit that I do actually expect miracles from eye creams. However the eye area is much less dry and I think there’s been an improvement in lines as well as my eye makeup staying on better. Those lines are still there however which is why I’m not 100% sold. I want an eye cream that makes me look 21 again. I’ll use up the pot but wouldn’t rush to buy it again. From here, £37

Roques Oneil Therapie detox salts – They’re expensive. They’re a luxury. You feel a bit gut wrenched every time you use some because you’re having a £6 bath or something. BUT it’s totally worth it. Totally. They honestly make you sleep like a baby, better than a baby, like the dead. I even talked about them here. Buy here, £37

MV Organics jojoba oil – Again I’m not 100% sold for silly reasons but I think I would buy it again. I’ve been using this to take off my eye makeup because it apparently conditions your lashes (mine are sparse and brittle) and is a great moisturiser for the eye area. It feels like a bit of a con getting a tiny bottle of this oil because you need a good four drops each time. However it takes makeup off with ease, even waterproof stuff and I have noticed a difference in my lashes, it also is lasting a surprisingly long time. I would love if they found some way to actually package this up into an actual eye makeup remover. From here, £29

I think only the jojoba oil would make it into my regular skincare routine. The EH balm would be a treat (I wouldn’t panic if I ran out) and the Therapie salts are on all of my wish lists (bit too expensive to buy yourself all the time). I’m all for more companies providing samples of things, even for a small price, so that people like me don’t end up wasting a load of money!

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Products that really work

I buy a lot of ‘stuff’ and more often than not I use it once or twice, largely underwhelmed. There are however, some things that just work. They do what they say they are going to and the solve some kind of problem for you. So here’s my Top 10 ‘Products* that really work’ and a little detail why I love them below.

*I’ve not been paid for any of this, in fact I am decidedly out of pocket!
  1. Scholl cracked heel repair cream – £5.39, here
  2. Warpaint teeth whitener – £27, here
  3. Body Shop seaweed day cream – £12, here
  4. Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion – £16, here (and other stockists)
  5. Rimmel Scandal’Eyes Waterproof Kohl Liner – £3.99, here
  6. Wunderbrow – £19.95, here (also on Amazon)
  7. Revitalash – £64, here
  8. Nailtiques – price varies £6-16, here
  9. Therapie Himalayan detox salts- £37, here
  10. Clarins radiance-plus golden glow booster – £16.70, here (and other stockists)

This might be a long one, as I’ll chatter on about why I like them all, so I’ll just say here…

I am still elusively chasing the perfect foundation, concealer, face products that make my skin as lovely as it was while I was pumped full of pill hormones (hi spots!) and haircare that gives me the locks of Blake Lively…so happy to take recommendations.

Scholl heel cream – it’s not a nice subject is it, feet but we all (mostly) have them and as they do all the carrying us around, they need looking after. This stuff it witchcraft. A few weeks ago I pretty much had a gaping hole in my heel which was SO painful. Three days of this stuff and it’s gone. How and where it’s gone I don’t know but it has. I’m very tempted to smear it all over my face and see what it can do there.

Warpaint – Ignore the fact that it’s the product of a glamour model or that the website might make you want to tear your face off, this stuff is great. It’s a (messy) black charcoal powder that you smear all over your teeth with a toothbrush (probably not your usual one) for two minutes. I’ve been using it for five days – as well as brushing as usual – and not only do my teeth feel cleaner than they have since my last hygienist appointment but they are WHITE, like really white, whiter than when I use my Crest WhiteStrips which aren’t all that good for teeth. It’s not cheap, it’s messy and might make a fudge of your sink but it really works.

[EDIT] should add that this is 100% natural, vegan and not tested on animals. It’s also safe for children to use!!

Bodyshop seaweed day cream – I’ve written about this before but it still deserves a mention. Not for everyone but if you suffer from oily skin at any time (certain points in the month?) or your makeup slides off in the summer, this might be for you. It really does control the oil on your face, so much so that I can only use it on days when I’m oily and I can even use a foundation that I would normally avoid. Not all the great for dry patches so if your combination skin, might not be for you.

Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion – creasy eyeshadow no more. Really. All day. Even cream ones. Can also be used on its own just to even out redness and there’s a few different finished for matte or slightly pearly. Don’t really need to say any more.

Rimmel Scandal’Eyes Waterproof Kohl Liner – I don’t really need to say much here either. Nice and soft and really black. Doesn’t smudge off everywhere and even stays in the waterline for most of the day. Does make a mess when you take it off though!

Wunderbrow – I’ve only recently (since a few disasters), started to ‘fill in’ my brows and honestly, I hate it. I can never get it right and the stuff slides off throughout the day leaving me with odd brows. But not this. It literally doesn’t budge. It’s a bit of a mare to get the hang of and comes in a lipgloss type tube with a spoolie brush (mascara wand to us normals) to distribute. I’ve worked out doing the outline shape with my HD Brows pencil and then using this on the really sparse bits.

Revitalash – Ok this is mega bucks just for some longer eyelashes. In my defence I bought it before the wedding and when it ran out, didn’t replace it but it works. My lashes were crazy long, my eyes didn’t go a funny colour (as per some reports) and it was worth a splurge for a big event. Combined with an LVL treatment (like an eyelash dye and perm), my lashes were mega, the stuff of dreams. They did the all go a bit crap but that was after the wedding so I didn’t mind.

Nailtiques – if you Shellac and fear for your nails when you take it off, get some of this stuff. They have different types for different nails (dry, very dry, brittle etc.) and honestly, my nails have never been better.

Therapie Himalayan detox salts – They’re not cheap, more of a treat or a great thing to ask for as a gift because if you’re like me then you’ll feel guilty for spending that much on some bath salts. You know what though? Totally worth it. Not even kidding, you’ll sleep like a baby. If you struggle to relax and drift off then give these ago before you resort to clubbing yourself over the head or pulling your own brain out. Very similar to that blissed out post-massage feeling.

Clarins radiance-plus golden glow booster – They could have called it something snappier like ‘sunshine face’ or something. Basically, mix 1-3 drops of this little oil in with your day or night cream and have a lovely sunny glow. Nothing fake tan-y (I have never used fake tan for fear of streaks) and you can tailor it by using more/less. Can be a bit biscuity but if you mix it with a nice smelling cream then you don’t really notice it.

So, there we have it. Don’t say I never give you anything. Happy shopping!

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Quick, easy and tasty curry

Prawn curry

10mins and perfection

I usually have an issue with home-made curry. It doesn’t taste quite right, has nothing on a great take-away and is a bit of a disappointment. Until this one. It takes ten minutes to make and tastes great. At 222 calories per serving, it’s also great if you’re watching your calories or doing the 5:2 diet – even for a fast day! So – quick and easy prawn curry. Serves 2.


  • 2 tbsp medium or hot curry paste (I use Patak’s)
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper, halved, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 whole red chilli (or chilli flakes)
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • 3 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 150ml half-fat coconut milk
  • 200g prawns (cooked or raw)
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • coriander and lime juice to serve


  1. Heat a large pan and add curry paste, water, onion, pepper, chilli and cook for 4 mins until softened
  2. Add chutney, tomatoes and coconut milk and simmer for 3 mins
  3. Add prawns and spinach, cook for 3 mins until prawns are pink and spinach has wilted
  4. Serve with a squeeze of lime and coriander leaves

And THAT’S IT! Eat and enjoy. By Mimi Spencer for Daily Mail

My bridal prep and wedding skincare

I am and have always been a complete product junkie, so the wedding was a great opportunity to try out some lovely skincare products and make sure that I had a great base for my make up artist to work with.

I started using these a good few months before the wedding to give my skin time to have a new cycle and really get used to the new products. I really loved them all and will continue to use them for now – until I find new ones I want to try!
photo (1)1. Ponds Cold Cream, less than £5. I’m sure I’ve told you about this before, here. It’s cheap, it feels wonderful and makes my skin really soft. Gets rid of even the thickest makeup. I use a warm or a cool flannel to rinse depending on how I’m feeling – it will ruin your flannel though. Most often on offer in Superdrug.

2. Liz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask, £15. I only got this about three weeks before the wedding in place of an exfoliator (my skin is too soft and reacts badly to grainy ones) but I think it made a difference in a short time. Fairly pricey for just 50ml but you don’t need to use it every day, twice a week perhaps with your hot cloth to rinse. Worthwhile investment.

3. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic, £14. Or as you and I would call it, toner. I use this every night after cleansing and I think it just helps balance my skin out and keep it free from blemishes. Doesn’t make your skin feel tight like some toners can, just nice and fresh. Decent size bottle that lasts quite a while.

4. REN Radicance Perfection Serum, £35. Ok, it’s not cheap but I’d read a great write up and I don’t think I was disappointed. I got this a month before the wedding, I use it morning and night before my moisturiser and I still have probably about a week’s worth left…and I’d buy it again. Was torn between this and the Flash Rinse which everyone is raving about. It evened out my skin tone and made it seem brighter.

5. AVON ANew Clinical Eye Lift Pro, £10 (usually £19.50). Possible the best money I have ever spent. There are two sections in this pot, one orange jelly-type cream for above the eye – brow bone and eyelid and one thick cream for the under eye area. Brilliant and fast acting, I noticed a difference, particularly in the brow bone area within days of using this. I have deep-set, slightly hooded eyes and this miracle cream lifted and tightened my brows.

6. AVON ANew Vitale Day and Night cream, £19.50 each (when I bought them, got one for £5 when I purchased the other). I will say straight off that I wouldn’t recommend these for someone with sensitive skin or eyes as they are VERY perfumed and even my skin took a few days to get used to them. However, once it had, I must say it’s lovely. Smoothed out a few of my very fine lines and I think it has pretty much got rid of any visible pores. Not too thick or oily but I’d say for people with normal/combination or dry skin.

7. Revitalash, £65 with p&p (will last a good few months). I think this is a bit of a marmite product as I’ve seen some people give bad reviews as they have had reactions etc. However, I didn’t – I just got amazingly long, lovely lashes without the need for extensions. It’s expensive but has lasted me ages and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again when this one runs out! Just pop a very small amount along the last line before bed and watch them grow.

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Small but mighty

When we decided one Saturday night that we absolutely HAD to make caipirinhas, our Kenwood smoothie maker wasn’t best impressed at the bag of ice that we chucked at it. So much so that after that, it couldn’t even manage a frozen strawberry or two.

Of we popped to Lakeland, my Aladdin’s cave, to find a replacement. At first, our eye was caught by the bigger, meaty looking machines but nestled in the corner was the little Tefal ‘Fruit Sensation’. Being someone who is magnetically drawn to anything in miniature (tiny toiletries are just so much more fun, aren’t they?!), I wanted it straight away.
17867_1We stood and um-d and ah-d about it for about twenty minutes, unsure that it’s small stature would mean that it couldn’t cope with our frozen fruit and ice but as we don’t have a lot of counter space in our kitchen, we loved that it didn’t take up a whole lot of space.

A very helpful chap sold it for us, and here’s a great tip for  you –  in Lakeland, if you change your mind about something that you have bought even if it’s just because you have decided that it doesn’t go with your kitchen any more, you can take it back and change it for something else. Just keep the box, all the bits and pieces and your receipt and you can go back and say ‘this didn’t like when we put ice in it’ and get one that does!

As it turns out, this little machine is amazing. Stick frozen strawberries, blueberries, raspberries in it – no problem. Chuck in a whole frozen banana – no problem either. It all clips apart and washes easily. Makes two small glasses or one big glass, so you’re not forever making too much. Also comes with smaller choppers for nuts, herbs, fresh fruit….it’s a wonder. I’m looking forward to making a few little batches of soup in it come the winter.

Tefal Fruit Sensation, £39.99

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Budget Beauty

For a girl who will happily spend £200 plus on a haircut and has five or six £30-40 foundations sitting in a makeup drawer, I’m oddly stingy when it comes to skincare.

Don’t get me wrong, looking after my skin is important, but I think you can get great products at a fraction of the price if you get some great recommendations or you’re willing to give things a try.

I’ve also found out the hard way, that sometimes with make up, expensive doesn’t always equal better. So, I’ve done a quick round-up of my favourites for you. (I’ve not been paid, asked, or given free gifts for this post.)


  1. Boots No.7 hot cloth cleanser. I was recommended this by Mizz Ban and have since told everyone I know about it. Feels indulgent, leaves skin soft and clean and helps with breakouts. A steal at £9.95 but even cheaper when they have their No.7 voucher deals.
  2. Yes To….. I read about this in a magazine and swiped the Yes To Tomatoes moisturiser and cleanser when I was suffering oil slicks and break outs. The moisturiser is sufficient that I don’t get dry spots, but neither do I get oily throughout the day. Lovely and light and apparently, good for my skin! They have other products for different skin types too. Ranges from £5-£15.
  3. Body Shop seaweed day cream. Another one to control the oil but great for combination skin. Light, quickly absorbed, no shine all day. Recommended to Soupy who also loves it. Nice size tub for £4.
  4. Superdrug Vitamin E skin oil. Don’t let the fact that this is an oil put you off, it won’t make you feel oily or greasy. This little tiny bottle is a lovely treat for your face. I keep mine in my wash bag for post swim when my skin is so tight I feel like Joan Rivers. At £2.99 what’s not to like?!
  5. Boots Botanics eye makeup remover. Gets off even waterproof mascara and liquid eyeliner without rubbing. I think that’s all I need to say. £3.99 but often in their deals.


  1. Revlon Just Bitten (BIG crayon things). I tried these, £7.99. I tried the Clinique Chubby Stick, £17. Guess which is better by a country mile? Soft lips, wash of colour. Bingo.
  2. 17 tattoo me liquid eyeliner. If you can get your hands on this (it’s sold out in most places), then do. Helen told me about it after we’ve been hunting for eyeliner that stays put all day. I can’t use the wibbly little brush that comes with it, so I use my own eyeliner brush. £4.99 bargain.
  3. Max Factor mascara. I’d recommend any of them but I usually go for 2000 calories (a classic) and more recently, I did a review of the eye brightening one – I don’t see a difference in the brightness of my eyes but my lashes look great! Depending on where you get it £8-£12 ish but considering I’ve spend a lot on big brand mascaras and always been let down, it’s worth trying a few out!

There we have it, my picks…and just for an out of left field idea… This week, I found myself with a horrible, very red and sore crater on my forehead from where I had squeezed and squeezed a spot. A hole, really and honestly where the spot had been. So before I went to bed, I chucked some Manuka honey on it (only the 6+ cheapest one) and the next morning…. GONE. No red, no spot, no hole, no sign of it at all.

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Gluten and Dairy Free Banana and Chocolate Loaf

cakeThis is no magic recipe, I just adapted the one in my Primrose Bakery book with gluten and dairy free products.

I’ve been finding it hard to find nice, sweet things to have now that I bascially can’t have a lot at all, so I thought I’d take a shot at making something myself…and I’m very glad I did. Of course if you don’t have an annoying allergy, just follow the recipe using normal ingredients. Also if you have no problem with dairy, I’d recommend using proper butter and a good quality dark chocolate.

So here it is!

Makes one loaf (8-10 slices)

125g Pure sunflower spread
250g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla essence
250g gluten free plain flour
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
4 ripe bananas
175g dairy free chocolate

One 900g loaf tin


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, and grease and line the loaf tin with baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together, beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla essence.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir until combined.
4. Mash the bananas and chop the chocolate into small chunks, then stir them into the mixture.
5. Pour the mixture into your loaf tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.
Tastes great served warm or once cooled it can be kept for a few days in an airtight container.