31 October 2016

October Beauty Favourites

It's that time of the month again where I rave about my beauty essentials

Things look rather autumnal in this beauty favourites post, even though I'm currently going into summer. I can't help be envious of everyone in the Northern Hemisphere who have orange leaves everywhere - it is my favourite season after all. Hopefully there's a bit of something for everyone here - from volumising haircare to a classic dark lip.

Shaaanxo 18 Colour Eyeshadow & Lipstick Palette
As I stated in my review of this, I've basically only been using the eyeshadow side of this but I am loving it. It has shades which I'm really rather fond of - I love nothing more than a warm toned eyeshadow look, especially when orange is involved. I think the pigment and pay off of these shadows are really decent, especially when this palette is quite affordable.

Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Shampoo & Conditioner
This is a new shampoo and conditioner duo I've been trying out for the last month which I thought I'd mention! This is more of a volumnising shampoo and conditioner, so if you already have thick hair, this may not be best suited to you. I think I have quite fine hair but it can also be frizzy. I tend to think this can be a little stripping on the hair, but that's why I recommend using it alongside another shampoo and conditioner. I find this makes my hair feel thicker and not dragged down, and both products tend to make my hair less frizzy when I use it an oil as well. If you have fine, limp hair I think these would be really good, although like I said, they can feel a bit drying if overused.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara
This is my holy grail, #1 mascara without a doubt! I had a little break from using this to pursue other things, but I've come back. This has been plenty raved about in the beauty blogging world but if you haven't tried it yet, definitely give it ago. It gives my lashes a false lash effect by lengthening and lifting the lashes, and it's also very black and volumnising too. I've received compliments while wearing this and I do notice my lashes look extra long and thick when I use this. My only gripe with this is that it is a little difficult to remove, but you really get an intense, full look with this.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Budapest
I've had a chance to wear this recently and I am in love. This colour is a dark plum purple, almost burgundy colour - perfect for autumn or anytime really. I find the staying power of this particular shade to actually be really good - when I wore this the other day (see here) it stayed on pretty much all day even after I had eaten lunch. I love the formula and matte look of these soft matte lip creams - I could just buy a ton of them!

Do you like the look of anything here?


27 October 2016

Read in October

From mental illness to time travel, here's a round up of this month's reads

While it looks like I haven't read much this month, it's been a fairly good reading month for me, and I've managed to get stuck into some books before exams officially start. From then 'til now I'll be a bit MIA with reading. If you didn't catch it, at the start of this month I reviewed What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne, which I loved. Apart from that, here's what I've been reading...

Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven, RRP $19.99
Published by Penguin on 4 October 2016

After loving All The Bright Places by the same author, I was more than pleased to get to Holding Up The Universe*. The story follows two different perspectives, a boy with an inability to recognise faces, and a girl who is labelled as 'America's Fattest Teen'. The book involves a lot of learning to accept and love who you are, and this was illustrated through the two teens' insecrutities and pasts. Libby, although she gets bullied, has a fighting spirit and is fearless in nature. Jack is scared and confused and feels alone, even when he's trying to maintain a cool exterior.

I particularly loved how Libby saw humour through the bullying, and was always focused on her dream of becoming a dancer. I really appreciated the self-love element of Holding Up The Universe that connected these two people, however I found myself feeling unconnected aside from that. This book felt ungenuine to me in parts, because it wasn't completely believable to me. Somehow I felt like the characters were completely defined by their differences. I kind of feel like, although the self-love element is empowering and important, it didn't feel raw enough, and didn't warrant the same connection and response as her first book did. I still think this is worth a read and is one of the biggest YA releases this year, but already I can see it's generated a vareity of responses and opinions. 3.5 Stars.

The Next Together by Lauren James
Published by Walker Books on 3 September 2015

Although this has been out for a while, I've been wanting to get my mitts on it for a while. I'll soon be reviewing the second book which has been newly released, The Last Together, but for now here are my thoughts on the first installment. The Next Together is quite a unique book, one that is set across various time periods (from medieval times right up to a futuristic world) and involves different formats, like shopping lists and letters and newspaper articles. It's a fantasy book, which I've found increasingly hard to get into recently, but this one is really managable and the time periods and twists and turns aren't difficult to understand at all. The story follows Matthew and Katherine and it's basically a quest to find out what happened with their relatives after they were accused of being terriosts.

It was so pleasant to read something that had science fiction fantasy elements without being dragged down by all the details. It was still interesting and complex, but perfect for younger readers or nineteen year olds alike. I actually found this had a nice consistent plot that never really made me bored. I would say that the ending was quite unexpected and odd, but I'm looking forward to how part two plays out in The Last Together. 4 Stars.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow, RRP $24.99
Published by Harper Collins on 1 October 2016

When tasked with reviewing Girl in Pieces*, I really had no idea what to expect. The blurb is very unsuspecting and vague but already had me intruiged: "You can spot the girls who will have it easy. I don't even have to describe them for you. You can spot the girls who will get by on smarts. You can spot the girls who will get by because they're tough, or althetic. And then there's me." I wasn't expecting this book to be so raw and gripping - raw is definitely the word to sum up this book. This story starts in a psychiatric centre which felt like a cross between Girl Interrupted and Orange is The New Black. It ultimately follows the girl, Charlotte, as she navigates life after a difficult past and having a mental illness.

I could imagine this would be quite intense to read for some people who have mental illnesses or even thoughts like Charlotte does. I honestly felt very gripped by this story, and it's really a no-bullshit zone. The author deals with a very important topic in such a realistic way, or what I imagine could be realistic for some people. This book is very real, heavy and honest, and that's what I loved about it most. It's also very sad, but such a worthy story to read. I think it was great to go into this with no expectations because I came out feeling like this was such a good book. I really recommend this one. 4.5 Stars.

Do you want to read any of these? I'd love to know!


*Review Copy

24 October 2016

Skincare Central | Trials & Favourites

Separating the good from the bad...

Or should I say the really good products from the not so great, not worth your time products. I'm sure that's a saying that's going to catch on soon.. Anyway. I've been trialling out a fair bit of skincare recently, so I thought I'd do a round-up post and tell you what I've been slapping on my face recently. There are a couple things in here I've been trying out for quite some time, others I haven't tried quite so much. But nevertheless... hopefully you'll takeaway something from this post.

This is a product that has been featured on here one or two times and it's one that I love. I'm mentioning it now because it's almost empty (how?) and I'm regretfully I'm going to have to buy another bottle. I saw regretfully because I like my money to actually stay in my bank account, but I do think this is worth its price for its toning, smoothing and brightening effects it seems to have on my complexion. This doesn't leave an oily feeling on the skin, rather it's a gel like texture, which sinks into the skin and is a perfect base for moisturiser.

This is a very lightweight, cooling product that supposedly firms the eye area, tightens and brightens. I haven't used this a load, but when I have, it did add a bit of extra moisture to the area in combination with my face moisturiser. I wouldn't describe this as rich, as it's a very liquidy product, and for that reason I don't think it's going to do absolute wonders at improving my dry under eye area. I suppose this is more of a serum designed to firm, but overall I wouldn't go out of your way to buy this. I've been using it a little because my Clinique eye cream is running out, which leads me onto...

It sort of makes my eyes water at how expensive this little pot of eye cream is... but sadly I do really like this product. I find it's the perfect consistency - not too rich and not too thin and lightweight to nicely moisturise and nourish the under eye area. I hadn't used an eye cream before trying this one out but I'm not sure if I can go back now. I think the Clinique eye creams are genuinely fab, so if you're on the lookout for a new one, maybe this could work. I don't use eye creams for wrinkles or anything like that (I don't care, haha) but I think the extra bit of moisture helps make-up go on nicer.

This is a new range of New Zealand made skin care specifically targeted at teens, which I think is quite a nice idea. I believe their range is focused on everything natural, and you can really tell that it is by the smell, for starters. This moisturiser smells like lemon and ginger when first applied, which is really strong but quite nice, but when rubbed into the skin it kind of smells like grass which is slightly off putting. I think the moisturiser itself is quite nice though - it's very lightweight but takes a little while to sink into the skin. My skin feels very soft afterwards and I will genuinely continue to use this. Lightweight moisturisers with more natural ingredients is what I've found my skin enjoys. Does anyone agree that it's really hard to find the perfect moisturiser, though?

This is a product I've only tried a couple of times. Apparently this product is for 25+ so on hindsight this probably isn't the serum for me. This is a very lightweight, liquidy, gel-like serum that sinks into the skin quite fast. It did make my skin feel quite smooth afterwards but nothing amazing happened for me to warrant continue using this.

Apparently this 'releases intense moisture as you sleep' but I wouldn't go that far. This is another quite light moisturiser that is more suited to night time use. After using this quite a few times, this Neutrogena moisturiser does make my skin feel supple and refreshed after use. It isn't an intensely rich night cream, which is probably quite good, because rich moisturisers tend to clog my pores. I haven't had any kind of reaction or break-out to this so far so I will probably continue using this every few nights.

Question time! Do you use the same skin care products over and over or do you like to try new things? I'm a little hesitant to try loads of new products in case my skin freaks out..


20 October 2016

BH Cosmetics Shaaanxo Palette + Brush Set Review

Today I'm reviewing an eyeshadow palette and brush set from BH Cosmetics...

When I saw Shaaanxo's Eyeshadow and Lipstick Palette I thought I had to get it. I fell in love with the orange shade above because I am all about that warm toned eyeshadow look right about now. This is a really affordable palette and it seems to still be on sale at the moment. The palette itself features 9 shades - some gold, brown and pink toned shimmery wearable eyeshadows, and a few matte colours. I will start off by saying I have never owned much eyeshadow and I've never been one to wear it too much, but lately I've been obsessed with it and lashings of mascara.

Starting from the left and going across to the right, there is a creamy matte white which would be great for inner corner. Next there is a shimmery champagne colour, and a shimmery pink coppery colour (one of my faves). On the second row it has an orange yellow shade which is slightly neon (the only shade in the palette I'm not too much a fan of), a shimmery warm toned golden brown, and an amazing orange rust shade which has to be my favourite. The final row consists of a cooler toned chocolate shimmery brown, a really intriguing metallic brown colour (it has almost hints of green in it) and lastly a matte dark brown (almost black).

My verdict? The eyeshadows are really decently pigmented and not chalky. I haven't tried too many palettes, but when they are chalky I absolutely can't stand it. They're don't have a particularly buttery formula, but for the price they are really good and do stick around on the lid. I feel like if you are a lover of warm eyeshadow looks featuring browns and orange tones you would really love this palette - it's really suitable for autumn or practically any time year round because you can create really natural looks.

The palette comes with 9 lipstick colours on the other side. I mainly got this palette for the eyeshadow, but I have been testing out the lipsticks here and there. I personally don't really like lip palettes like this because I don't have a lip brush and it can get a bit messy. In saying that, I think the pink/nude shades in this palette are really wearable and can be dabbed into the lips for a semi sheer finish. They actually do stain your lips a little bit so there is a long-wear element to them. However, they can feel a tad sticky if applied too much and I'm mostly a fan of super matte formulas. I think I will still get some wear out of the lipstick palette though because there's a variety of shades that are actually really lovely.

From left to right: Precision Detailer Brush, Angled Face Shader Brush, Small Round Blending Brush, Flat Top Buffing Brush, Tapered Contour Brush, Nose Contour Brush, Tapered Face Blending Brush, Large Shader Brush, Small Deluxe Blending Brush, Precision Blush Brush.

When making an order for the palette, I slipped in the Sculpt and Blend 2 - 10 Piece Brush Set too because I'd seen some good things. The set I got has a few eyeshadow brushes, quite a selection of face brushes for powder products, some good concealer brushes, a flat top brush for foundation and weirdly, a nose contour brush...

The brushes are really soft and I feel like I can get a lot of use out of them because of all the different ways to use them. After trying these out for a few weeks, the brushes I've used the most are the eyeshadow brushes - they're good for applying colour and blending - and the face brushes for powder and blush. I did use the flat top brush for foundation and it worked well for a lighter finish, but it isn't as dense as my holy grail Real Techniques Buffing Brush. There are probably two or three brushes I wouldn't use, or use much, in this set. BH Cosmetics have a range of different brush sets available, so I could have easily picked up a slightly different set.

Overall I think these brushes are great for beginners because of the decent price and they work really well. I really like the Shaaanxo palette too, and once again, would probably be good for beginners or novices like me.



17 October 2016

Mini ASOS Haul and Try On

Is it possible to fall in love with a jacket?

One of my goals this year was to shop a little more carefully, meaning shop for quality over quantity. I've never been one to spend hundreds on new clothes, but where I can, I love buying special pieces that I will get a lot of wear out of. I think doing this, and buying basics, which I wear a lot of anyway, means you can't really go wrong.

It's a wonder I was able to snatch up this jacket from ASOS because I think it's now out of stock unfortunately, and went out of stock in my size just after I bought it! I've seen Liv wear this and after those diddle daddling I decided I really wanted it in my wardrobe. Summer is coming up in New Zealand and what's better than a statement denim jacket? This one is really nice quality and, I think, a lovely colour - medium blue - which perfectly slots into my wardrobe with my black jeans and plain tops.

This is a small ASOS haul of sorts, so the other item I picked up was this black satchel bag. Perfectly my style and a really decent size to store all my bits and bobs in. No, it doesn't fit my laptop in for Uni days, but Uni ends for the year in a week (eek! yay?) so I'm calling this my every day bag when I'm going to work or meeting with friends. I was in desperate need for a new bag after I've been using my tote bag which left me a little bored - you know, I need something structured in my life. Come to think of it, this would be a nice camera bag of sorts, if your gear wasn't too hefty.

So I'm currently in love with my two new purchases and no doubt another ASOS package will be making its way to my door soon, as I'm always browsing the site.




13 October 2016

5 Pamper Picks

What I've been treating my skin and body to lately...

Whether you're in the Northern Hemisphere or Southern, I think there's never an excuse not to pamper yourself. I'm currently going into summer, where those fresh smelling and radiance boosting scrubs are of the upmost importance, while those stepping into autumn may want to stock up on those delicious-smelling bath treats.

Lush So White Bath Bomb
As the Lush Christmas range has just graced stores in New Zealand, I've been snooping around and picking up a couple of things. I remember having the shower gel of this which smelt absolutely heavenly (like apples) and the bath bomb is no different. This product is definitely one of my all time faves when it comes to bath bombs. They've added a green 'leaf' to it this year, so they have seemed to up the ante with this number just a little. Unlike before, where the water came out white, the water is now a mix of milky blue and green.

Lush Northern Lights Bath Bomb
I wanted to try something new from the Christmas range so I picked up Northern Lights, which is a purple bath bomb that makes your bath water turn a somewhat interesting shade of yellow... Anyway, this has a lot of ylang ylang oil in it, and I think the general smell is floral and sweet but with a touch of something deeper. I'm just so great at describing scents. Honestly I'm not sure if bath bombs are really worth it for the price but I do like trying Lush's new concoctions every now and then.

The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng and Rice Clarifying Mask Polishing Mask
This has been my go to mask for the past month. I contributed to a post over on Sophie's blog where I reviewed this mask so make sure you check that out for my full thoughts, but in short this mask makes my skin look brighter and nice and exfoliated. As I have skin that can tend to get a bit clogged and dull, and have a fair few breakouts, I found this suited very nicely to my skin!

Pure Fiji Coconut Creme Scrub - Mango
From a scrub for the face, to the body... with a delicious mango scent to boot. The Pure Fiji brand is possibly New Zealand/Australia focused I think, so if you're overseas you probably won't have great access to it. This product is a nice light scrub with small exfoliating bits to make sure the skin is all buffed and moisturised. This would be a great everyday exfoliator because it's not harsh at all.

Zoella Beauty Bath Latte
I featured this product in a recent first impressions post but thought I'd collate my final thoughts on it, as I've really been enjoying whipping this out for a quick bubble bath. Pouring a bit of this in the bath produces a fair amount of bubbles, which is great if you're a bit of a Lush fanatic but can't really afford to spend lots of dosh on countless bath bombs. This smells so gorgeous, I'd be interested to see what else is in this range. I'm not sure how long this product will last, but overall it gets a big thumbs up from me.

What are some of your favourite pampering products?


10 October 2016

An ASOS Wishlist

 I'm shopping for summer AND winter at the moment, let me explain...

I have an upcoming winter trip away (I'm going to Europe for a month) and New Zealand is approaching summer, so I have a somewhat conflicting clothes shopping list going on right now... You can probably see the bits from ASOS I've picked out are geared more towards winter, I'm not much of a fan of summer dressing. I should be making an order in a month or so to stock up on warmer clothing, but certainly not all of this stuff. Who does that thing where they put everything in their basket and want to cry afterwards at the price?

I think these options would be equally nice for spring/summer when it's not too hot and winter layered underneath a coat. I am in love with the frill neck and sleeve designs that seem to be cropping up everywhere recently plus the slightly 70s/80s vibe of coloured stripes and mom jeans.

L-R: ASOS Ultimate Chunky Jumper with High Neck, Monki Velvet Oversized Jumper, Monki Faux Shearling Teddy Jacket, Monki Fleece Jacket, Monki Tassel Detail Scarf

I think buying a couple of jumpers would be sensible as it's going to be cold on my holiday. I am loving high neck ones as always, plus a good scarf wouldn't go amiss. I love this one from Monki particularly because of the colour, and it looks so effortless. On the topic of Monki, I am literally loving everything they're bringing out and I'm glad I can take advantage of some of the coats and cosy options they have going on...

L-R: Adidas Originals White and Navy Stan Smith Trainers, Nike Black & White MB Runner Trainers, ASOS Match Point Pointed Flat Shoes, ASOS Mylo Embroidered Flat Shoes

Lastly, I am in dire need of some new footwear. Seriously, I need some sneakers - maybe some Stan Smith's even though they are kind of #basic and everyone has them, or potentially some black sneakers so they won't look as dirty. I'm going to need some comfy footwear walking around everywhere. Also, I need some flats for the spring/summer or for wearing to work - I just want something that's easy to slip on and go.

Also, I did cheekily buy a couple things from ASOS the other day so no doubt they'll feature on the blog soon.
Do you like the look of anything I've picked out? Have a great week!


6 October 2016

Feminism in YA | What's A Girl Gotta Do? Book Review

What would happen if you called out every instance of sexism and filmed it?

I was extremely excited to read the last book in The Spinster Club Trilogy, What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne* when it arrived on my doorstep. I have raved about the other two books on my blog before and there's going to be no exception for this one. If you're on the market for some contemporary young adult fiction that's a bit different and fresh, definitely check out Holly Bourne. She also has a new book And A Happy New Year? coming out in November which I believe is one last hurrah to The Spinster Club series.

Feminism in YA has been something I've seen cropping up more and more lately, and I think it's fantastic. I believe it's crucial to expose younger readers to the importance of gender equality and make them aware that, you know, there's something kind of wrong going on here. I first became aware of what feminism truly was only last year when I was 18, but if I had read about feminism in books when I was younger just think about how good that would've been.

Holly Bourne has said she wanted to expose her readers to feminism gradually through each book in this series, as there was some feminism themes in Am I Normal Yet?, even more so in How Hard Can Love Be? and now it's full-blown in the third. I think it's such a fascinating concept to call out every instance of sexism as Lottie does in this book. There are times when it's shameful, embarrassing, annoying for other people, and soon enough it really starts effecting Lottie in a bad way when she becomes too obsessed about it. One of the aspects I really liked about this book was the way Holly obviously acknowledged that we can't all be 'perfect' feminists all the time, and that there are different 'levels' of sexism but those little things that happen really do add up to bigger things. In this way, that catcall you get on your way to your bus stop still really does perpetuate the patriarchy.

I loved reading What's a Girl Gotta Do? as I felt really justified about my beliefs and empowered that everyone can do something to help sexism, like starting their own Spinster Club.

I would love to hear any suggestions for books about feminism or if you would read The Spinster Club books!


*Review Copy from Harper Collins

3 October 2016

Around The Web | #1

I've been itching to share some links from around the web...

Sometimes I think I would just love to write about a post about little bits and bobs I've seen/read/engaged with online, including a thing or two I've bought recently that tends to fit into more of the 'miscellaneous' category.

Something I've found on the web that is all about the web... Emma Gannon's podcast is practically my latest obsession and I've been eagerly downloading all the episodes to listen to on my morning commute. I feel like it sets your day off right - hearing two people have a discussion about interesting topics. I have definitely been listening to them on my way home too, and I find the length of one podcast is generally perfect - all finished by the time I get to uni or work. I always felt a little bit funny with podcasts because I didn't know a good time to listen to them, but incorporating them into my commute definitely makes the time spent staring off into space on public transport just that extra bit more productive. Emma Gannon discusses a range of topics with her guests, from sex to books, and always incorporates the web into all of it, making it perfect for the modern woman.

I have been loving all of the fanfare that's come out of the release of Stranger Things. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend, but every one has been shouting about this lately and it's resulted in loads of Tumblr gift sets and text posts, and 'merchandise' if you like... If you have a good ol' search for Stranger Things on Society 6, you'll find an array of things, and this also goes for Etsy, etc. It's really a wonderful time. I picked up this print of Eleven and the guys on their bikes (and my sister did too!) a few weeks ago and have just got round to framing it and putting it in place on my bookshelf. Finally I have something to represent my obsession, and it has a bit of an 80s vibe which I've been loving lately.

Lately Lauren has been banging out some great posts about quite taboo topics, like this one on choosing not to drink. It's something I can definitely relate to, and makes me wonder if I could write some interesting blog posts on some taboo topics, not just another monthly favourites, if you know what I mean (even though I love those posts too!). It's nice to know there's people out there that think like you do or share some of the same feelings, when you can't necessarily see that in real life...

I've been getting into pins recently (and badges! If some would kindly make their way into my life along with my dream denim jacket...), so I was pretty chuffed when PJ (read: YouTuber - very good - go watch!) came out with some new merch. I just need some more pins to cuddle up with my two existing ones... perhaps thisthisthis and this? Okay seriously I could do about 5 more of these links... Looking at what I've bookmarked in my 'Buy' tab, I'm thinking I may have to do a wish list post at some stage.

I watched this very recently and I just thought Arden was really quite articulate and said some great things! I love watching videos about taboo topics (I mean, I guess it's kind of taboo?) and I loved that Arden touched on topics like consent, marriage before sex, birth control, etc. I also love watching YouTubers like Hannah Witton and as a side note her new series The Hormone Diaries is really good.

Have a great week!

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