So here's the rarest of things for the beauty blogger - the repurchase.
This one is for the Clinique Take The Day Off cleansing balm - a product I use as my first step in removing my make up before going in with my second cleanse to properly get my skin cleaned, normally with a different cleanser.
I used to reach for Bioderma to remove my make up, and I won't deny that I always do keep some Bioderma in stock for the days when I have a lot of make up on or I'm just feeling extremely lazy, but in winter my skin has a tendency to be more dehydrated anyway and using water on the surface of your skin - whether thats water in the shower or water in the form of micellar - will just contribute to that. Last winter I picked this up in Florida to try and combat the dehydration caused by the plane journey and the change in temperature freaking my skin out a little, and it was love at first use.
I use this straight on to dry skin and remove it with either a muslin cloth or cotton wool pads - though I prefer the former. It melts make up off my face and leaves me skin feeling hydrated and clean but not stripped. You can see it in action in my night time routine video below.
In case you couldn't tell from the fact I've repurchased it I love this cleansing balm, and I can see me repurchasing it many a time hereafter.
I do sometimes use the Lush Ultrabland cleansing balm in its place, which is a much more budget friendly option (starting from £7.95 depending on the size you fancy) and is much more gentle on my eyes - the Clinique one doesn't irritate them if I'm careful but I do need to be careful, whereas the Lush version can be slapped on with no thought and no irritation; however when it comes down to it this has more slip to it than the Ultrabland and that's ultimately why I prefer it on my skin. Though for the foreseeable future I will have both in my stash and switch between them depending on what take sky fancy. Because I'm flighty like that...
A few weeks ago I attended a Blogger Brunch at Kiehl's Glasgow Buchanan Street, to learn more about the history of the company and Kiehl's Gives - which is exactly what it sounds like. Kiehls Gives is the part of the company that relates to Kiehl's three philanthropic pillars - Children, Environment and HIV & AIDs.
Unlike other companies who do one charity campaign a year Kiehl's is constantly organising events and holding initiatives to raise funds for various charities - and each store is expected to contribute something to the community around that store.
For Kiehl's Glasgow they're doing some fantastic work for the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity - they recently held a fundraising night in store which I attended, and raised over £1000. If you follow KiehlsUK on Instagram you might have seen me doing Official Blogger Duties a few weeks ago on their Instagram Stories by updating everyone about a Dog Jog that the Kiehl's Cuddly Coat Team were taking part in. You can find out more info about that and donate on the JustGiving page for that one here.
But the main point of the brunch was to inform us all about the company wide philanthropic collaboration that Kiehl's UK currently have going on with the MTV Staying Alive charity.
Last year the charity collaboration was faced by Tinie Tempah, and this year he's been replaced by Laura Mvula, who designed the top of the pot of the Limited Edition Ultra Facial Cream.
Having a woman front the campaign, and arguable the pink and purple shades chosen by Laura for her design, reflect the focus of this year's campaign - this year the money raised from the Kiehl's X MTV Staying Alive collaboration will go to helping three groups which are on the ground in Africa to help women suffering from HIV and AIDS.
It may seem strange to associate women with HIV and AIDS - but did you know that two thirds (66.666%) of new infections in adolescents occur in girls, and in Africa that rises to 71%. Let me just repeat that - 71% of new infections in Africa are in teenage girls. That's an insane fact I can't get my head around.
And speaking of adolescents - did you know globally that HIV is the second largest cause of death amongst adolescents? And again in Africa that figure rises - it becomes the number 1 cause of death. The number 1.
So how can you support the work the MTV Staying Alive funded groups are doing? Well, there's multiple options - you can donate on the Just Giving page here or you can text from your phone 'Kieh98 £5' to 70070 and donate £5 that will get added on to your phone bill (or come off of your credit if you're on Pay As You Go!)
Or, you can pick up one of the limited edition tubs of the Ultra Facial Cream that we mentioned above.
These retail for £43.50 - £10 of which goes to the charity (a massive increase on last year's Tinie Tempah collaboration which donated £2 of the price to the charity!)
And the great thing is that Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream isn't a rubbish product that they're just trying to get you to buy for the charity collaboration - it's actually one of their best selling formulations, and it's suitable for everyone.
Ultra Facial Cream is a straight froward moisturiser, no anti-aging, no brightening, no even-ing, just pure hydration for 24 hours. And sometimes that's all you need. I actually mentioned this earlier this year in my January Favourites - because I loved the last tub I had so much (you can see in the picture above that it's been totally scraped out.)
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream has Antarcticine in it - a glycoprotein that helps to protect the skin in very cold weather and Imperata Cylindrica - a plant that thrives in the dessert to keep the skin hydrated even in the driest, harshest of temperatures. The formula was 'adventure tested' by a team who were ascending the peaks of Greenland in 2005 and I figure if it can keep their skin happy in Greenland it'll manage mine in the Scottish winter!
You can pick the Ultra Facial Cream up in store throughout the month of December (it relaunched yesterday, to coincide with 1st December being World AID's Day) or online. A great skincare product, that gives something back as well - it's win win!
I feel like I haven't been a proper 'shop' in ages - you know, when you just decide to hate everything in your wardrobe and buy enough stuff to just fill it all over again? Okay, so maybe I've never quite bought that much in one go, but my credit card is getting itchy and I'm in need of a good splurge - maybe because the exchange rate was so bad when we went to New York last month that I really didn't buy anything like as much as I thought I would have, and I'd spent months before that barely buying anything because I was saving for NY. Whatever the reason though, I have a wishlist as long as my arm right now and I thought I'd share the things I want the most from it.
First of all this green jumper is absolutely beautiful - it would match my green Kate Spade bag that I showed in this video beautifully. I've featured the bee buckle belt before in this post here, and again I've featured the same Ralph Lauren dress in this as I did in that one, because I think the belt and dress would just pair up beautifully. In addition to matching the dress though, I think the belt would look fantastic with these jeans, have the jumper tucked into the high waist to show off that adorable belt and then pair with the matching trainers - pretty and practical!
For days when I didn't want to carry as much as my Kate Spade bag allows I feel like this little cross body bag from Zara would be a perfect match in with the bug theme, and the yellow would tone in nicely. The bag would also look gorgeous with the playsuit that I've shown directly above in the collage - again from Zara. With some black tights, black ankle boots and my double pom-pom hat that I showed here I think this could be a totally winter appropriate outfit for all that Christmas shopping I haven't started yet!
For the actual Christmas parties there is nothing more fantastic this season than these shoes. Just. Look. At. Them. I am totally, officially, 100% in love. I think they'll take any plain old LBD up several notches - I'm envisioning them with the Ted Baker Langley collection dress I showed here, but I think they'd also look fantastic with the outfit I've got in mind for this year's Christmas parties.
That outfit's main part is, of course, that fantastic red dress/top-hybrid-thing you can see above the shoes - it's not ridiculously short so some people will probably wear it as a dress, but I actually love the idea of pairing it with slim line, ankle grazing trousers (and of course, Those Shoes!) I'm always into whatever Dior does and I do believe it was Dior who pioneered the dress over trousers look a few years ago - and it's still going strong. The problem will be finding the right trousers - I need a pair that are very slim-line to go under the dress - no one needs any extra bulk to stick through that sateen material, so I've got two options. The top ones are an affordable pair from ASOS, I love the slightly relaxed fit on these and they look like they'll be super comfy - but they might be too bulky at the hips... So the other pair are slightly more expensive, but don't have the same excess fabric and may sit better under the dress! Always good to have options!
There's definitely a few more bits and bobs I'm after, but these are the main ones. I think I'll get started on my Santa letter...
Okay, so I have a confession.
I am an avid reader, that I'm fairly sure you already knew - even if I haven't done any book-tube content in a hundred years.
I am also a fairly avid watcher of films (when your boyfriend is a film-maker you don't get much choice to be fair, but I am a fan of a night on the sofa with a film anyway - and we have made the Cineworld card investment every year for several years now.)
But somehow, despite Stand By Me being one of my favourite films, it's still the only Stephen King film adaptation I have ever seen, and I've never read a single thing written by him. So when the opportunity came up for press tickets to go see The Shawshank Redemption (which incidentally comes from a book of short stories which also includes The Body - the short story Stand By Me was based on) at The Theatre Royal, Glasgow, I jumped at the chance.
Shawshank is one of Scott's all time favourite films and with the press night coinciding with his birthday, I figured it was a no brainer - but I figured it would be pretty interesting for me to hold off on doing any research and present my views in contrast with his - from my point of view as someone with a theatre degree, who sees and reviews a lot of theatre but who has never seen the base material for the play; and from his point of view as it being one of his favourite films, with his film background but being someone who maybe isn't quite as at home in the theatre as I am.
For anyone who knows as little as I did entering the theatre the story takes place inside The Shawshank Penitentiary - a maximum security prison and focuses mainly on the journey of Andy Dufresne - a man convicted of a double murder who insists he is innocent.
The first character we meet is of course the narrator of the story - Red, played in the film by the ever glorious Morgan Freeman. Those aren't shoes I'd like to step in to but Ben Onwukwe (arguably best known for his work as Recall McKenzie in London's Burning - but whom my fellow Glaswegian theatre goers may remember best as the ghost of Hamlet's father from DominicHill's production of Hamlet at The Citizens in 2014) gave a stellar performance.
He was measured and sensible - an approachable but respected character within the prison hierarchy. A man with wisdom on his side, who has spent more of his life in prison than out of it - and a man who, for all his wisdom, sense and measure, is somewhat defeated by this.
From Scott's point of view this wasn't someone trying to be Morgan Freeman (trust me, that's something I've witnessed more than one seasoned actor do on stage) - this was a man who took the character and made it his own - which is the highest praise I think someone can get when dealing with a character portrayed by such an iconic actor. His version, according to Scott, was rougher and louder - less reserved and more upfront.
To combat Red's defeat - enter Andy, portrayed by Paul Nicholls. Despite being innocent of the conviction that finds him in Shawshank, Andy manages not to let the oppressive atmosphere of the Shawshank kill his spirit - he doesn't lose sight of his end goals, of his innocence, of his intelligence or, most crucially, his hope and belief in the above. Paul Nicholls brings a wide range of emotions to the character - we feel everything he goes through and captures every small detail of this complicated, multi-layered character.
Other actors who must be mentioned are Jack Ellis who played the Warden, Nicholas Banks who played Tommy, who entered in the second act and Andrew Boyer who played Brooksie - who had my heart in my mouth at one point. All performances were sensitive, measured and executed with attention to detail and everyone came across as fully multi-faceted. In slightly more background characters I also need to bring attention to Sean Croke who performed the role of Rooster and Adam Henderson Scott who portrayed Rico.
Where Scott and I slightly disagreed was in what we thought of the prison guards - neither of us found them intimidating but I personally didn't think we had to. To me the lack of intimidation I felt from the guards underlined Andy's intelligence and Red's wisdom - they were both so above the guards that they didn't need to be intimidated. Of course, physically these men had batons and could forcefully intimidate the prisoners, but again the fact they had to rely on that force underlined that mentally Andy and Red were above them. All they had was force, and were no match for them in wits.
The set was static for the majority of the play - but it didn't need to change thanks to the fantastic lighting set up by lighting designer Chris Davey. The lighting took us through what the different times of day endear were, as well as transporting us from a library to a dining room to a rooftop. I always personally prefer simpler sets and this one ticked all my boxes.
The only thing I would say I wasn't as keen on with the play was the ending - nothing to do with the actors or the set, just the way it was written. But then, that's just me. I like an ambiguous ending, and to be fair, most people find ambiguous endings frustrating - so overall the ending is probably more liked than disliked.
All in all we both thoroughly enjoyed the play - I would 100% recommend it and would go again in a heartbeat - you can book tickets for the Glasgow run here. It runs till the 26th November with matinees on a Wednesday and Saturday in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Unfortunately it is at the end of it's tour run, so you've only got two further options to catch it - at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre November 28th - December 3rd then finally at Palace Theatre, Southend 5th-10th December.
If Glasgow, Sheffield or Southend are within travelling distance for you and you're a fan of the film, or even if not and you just fancy a good story that explores human emotions from the depths of despair to the highs of hope, then book yourself a ticket to Shawshank. No previous Stephen King experience required.
Benefit's redesign and expansion of it's brow collection caused quite the stir, and if you watched my haul video here you'll know I attended the Glasgow press launch and was so impressed I ended up going to my local counter to purchase a few more bits and bobs.
Since then I've picked up even more things from the collection and now that the initial hype has died down I decided it was time I came along and weighed in my with my opinions. Spoiler alert though - it's overall a massive thumbs up!
I'll start with my favourite product from the collection - the Ka Brow eyebrow pomade. When we were asked to pick what products we wanted at the launch this was a firm choice for me - apart from anything else it's a ridiculously pleasing package to have sitting on your dressing table with its art deco silver lid.
That lid actually cleverly conceals a little brush and I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say the brushes that are usually included with products aren't all that great, but I've used the brush with both the colours I have and I don't have any real complaints. I'm sure at some point I'll buy a separate brush (perhaps the Benefit one since everything else has gone down so well with me) which will give me a tad more control and may be easier to wash, but it's not that high on my priority list right now and for travel I'd have no issues just using the one in the lid (I took shade number 3 to NY with me and only used the included brush.)
At the time of the launch I went for shade number 1, but as the sun has disappeared I've decided to switch up to shade number 3. The lighter and darker shade in the larger swatches are obvious, however you can see with the brush strokes next to the larger swatches (created with the included brush) how buildable this product is - all of those lines have been created with shade number 3 and various pressure levels. Adjusting to light, medium or firm pressure and layering this product means there's a range of shades that can be produced from each colour (like the majority of the collection it comes in 6 shades, meaning there's pretty much a shade for every hair colour) so if you like a lighter, more natural shade by day but want something more defined by night you can get that without using more than one product.
All round, this ones a straight up 10 out of 10!
I tried this out at the press launch and didn't on first impression think there was anything particularly special about it - it just seemed like a standard brow gel. But when I got home and my unruly brows were still somehow neatly in pace, with no tightening or discomfort and no white marks, I realised I had to have this in my life.
My main brow routine is to brush my brows into place, use my KaBrow, if I'm feeling particularly fancy I might neaten them up with some Precisely My Brow pencil but not always, then seal it all down with this gel. If left to their own devices my brow hairs will go in all different directions so I know this is making a massive difference - though I do think the texture of the KaBrow helps keep them in place too!
The brush on this has 2 different sides as well, which allows me to either gently brush over my brows with these or to use it as a way to comb individual hairs into place - so it gives me ultimate control. Again, a firm 10 out of 10 for me.
Since I mentioned the Precisely My Brow pencil above I figured I should probably review it next.
As you can see this is a brow pencil with a small fine nib on one end and a spoolie on the other - following the popular model from the likes of Anastasia Beverley Hills and Soap & Glory.
The fine nib allows for small, precise (get it?) strokes and the second row of swatches underneath the KaBrow swatches I showed previously come from this pencil. I have shade number 3 in this and again you can see how you can get a range of shades from one pencil by using different pressures when applying, or by going over the area more than once.
Whilst I prefer KaBrow overall, for days when I don't have time, when I'm on the go or when I'm being particularly fancy and am combining the pomade with a more precise pencil through the arch or edges this is the pencil I'm currently reach for.
Gimme Brow is a brow mascara - ideal for those of you who prefer a more natural brow. I have this in shade number 1 and as you can see this isn't the full size - I actually got this free with either Marie Claire or Elle around the time that Benefit did the relaunch.
What this does is pick out those little invisible hairs and coat them to make them more defined, longer and make your eyebrows appear thicker. For anyone looking for the 'instagram' eyebrow, this won't get you there but for anyone looking to just throw a little bit more definition on your brows - this does the job and the tiny spoolie means you can be precise with it and make sure you catch every hair you want to.
For me this is the least interesting product in the collection - but that's just my personal opinion. Used daily this will condition brows and encourage growth so for those of you with sparse brows this is probably ideal, but for me it just isn't necessary. When I remember to use this I can definitely see that my coarse, unruly brow hairs are in slightly better condition but overall it's just not something I add in to my routine often enough to say it's a staple. I'll use it every now and again and sooner or later I'll use it up, but I can't see it being something I would rush out to buy a replacement of if I'm totally honest.
When I went to purchase my Ready, Set, Brow Boots were running an offer where you'd get bonus points if you bought two products from Benefit's brow collection - and I decided to make this the other product.
The Benefit Grooming Tweezer and Brush had diamond dust coated, angled tips to allow for precise and firm plucking of hairs, and the brush on the other end always comes in handy. I actually can't deal with my own eyebrow maintenance (quite frankly because my eyebrow hairs are so course and strong it's one of the most painful pieces of hair removal I have to do and I'm just no good at putting myself through pain!) so I just use these for plucking the odd overgrown hair in between threading or waxing appointments, but I have absolutely no complaints. The little brush on the other end makes them super handy to have to hand for travel as well.
PS Excuse my cuticles - I'm using my cream but somehow in winter they just end up a mess no matter what I do or don't do!
The Benefit High Brow Pencil is one of the products that is repackaged as part of the new brow line rather than being a new product. I actually had this years ago and really liked it at the time so when I saw it was included as part of the Bigger & Bolder Brows kit I was really excited to give it another go.
This is a super creamy pencil which I use under my arch just to give the illusion of a little extra lift under there but if you are after the 'carved out' brow look you could take this the whole way round your brows. It blends out beautifully - I just use my finger, as I did to blend out the swatch from the initial one to the one above, and the heat from that works perfectly to work the product into the skin.
I also sometimes dot this just at the inner corners of my eye to throw some matte highlight in there, but if your skin-tone calls for something less pink there is also High Brow Glow on offer, which is more golden in tone.
When I decided to purchase the KaBrow in the darker shade I noticed these little kits at the counter and decided to go for it instead - this one contains a full size KaBrow and High Brow, which alone would retail for £36 vs the £28.50 for the kit, but the kit also includes a mini Ready, Set, Brow which is perfect for holidays, as well as some brow stencils to help guide even the complete eyebrow novice through the process.
In addition to this kit Benefit also have a Defined and Refined brow kit and a Soft and Natural brow kit - which may be better value for you depending on what products you're looking to try and if you have more than one on your list.
The actual tins these come in are also super cute and reusable (I think I'll be really original and keep my brow products in them as the KaBrow is a bit too big to fit into the Muji drawer I currently house my eyebrow products in) and a huge step in the right direction from the thick cardboard packaging Benefit have always use for their kits in the past.
I always think it's important for bloggers to be willing to put their money where their mouths are and I hope you can see from the mix of *'s products and non *'s products that this launch from Benefit is genuinely something I think is very worth your cash - and mine.
Coat - Boohoo*
Dress - Boohoo*
Shoes - Kate Spade
Choker - Boohoo*
I know - it's been radio silence round these parts recently - and there are multiple reasons for that. I wasn't particularly well and, on a happier note, you know the job interview I had that I was rambling on about in this video (yes, the job I've signed a non-disclosure agreement to say I can't talk about on my blog/youtube and generally need to not ever mention!) well I got it! And I've only been there a few weeks now but it's been so busy - and I'm now working in addition to uni and my two volunteering positions and let me tell you, that might not sound like a lot, but there's no absolutely no day that I have that I'm at home and don't have somewhere I need to go. It's a bit horrible actually, but hopefully this job opens doors for me that I can pursue once I graduate - so if things work out it'll be worth a year of never getting enough sleep and never having any time to myself!
I posted a video with these items last week and I'm so happy I've finally got round to doing this blog post because holding these items up does them no justice. Having said that, I don't even think these photographs even begin to convey this dress and coat combo's gorgeousness either.
In real life this dress is the most flattering, beautiful cut but in the pictures I think the ruching detail can look like it's adding inches but in real life it takes them away. Red is my most worn and loved colour so it made complete sense that when boohoo got in touch I went for this one, but the dress also comes in black and for when party season rolls around I think I'll be ordering it in black too! Easy to wear, the type of material that doesn't crease if you're throwing it in a bag to take away with you, super flattering and the perfect length to make an impact but not be tripping over - I'd buy it in every colour if there was more than just two.
But so often a beautiful dress can be marred by having to throw on whatever winter coat we have lying around, something waterproof to bundle us up against the elements. But the Jenny Coat is elegant and dressed up whilst still being reasonably long and warm. Of course it doesn't actually close over, which some might find an issue but I love the way it hangs. When these coats first came into fashion I thought they were too straight cut to ever be worn by someone with hips as wide as mine, but the way this particular coat falls is beautiful. But it's not just a nighttime coat - this will also be super appropriate for wearing to that job I've just got for when I need to meet with head office types and come across like I 100% know what I'm talking about, even if my knowledge on whatever we're discussing might have come courtesy of a google search 20 minutes before the meeting! Even if this type of coat isn't your cup of tea I seriously urge you to check our Boohoo's selection of coats - there's really something for everyone and the prices are, as always, unbeatable!
With the new job and changing seasons it's the time of year when I'll start shopping again - adding those pieces to my wardrobe I think are lacking, or just updating on something I loved last year but don't love as much this year, and it's fair to say most of us do the same. I'm also quite willing to bet that most of you are like me and are updating pieces that, although we don't love them anymore, are in perfectly good condition to be passed on. Boohoo have actually partnered up with TRAID which is an organisation which helps the people in the countries where our clothes are made to have a better standard of living.
Did you know that in the UK alone 10,000 items of clothing are sent to landfill every 5 minutes and over 350,000 tonnes of clothing that is still wearable and could be sold in TRAID shops are landfilled or incinerated?! If we all donate our no longer wanted or worn items to TRAID we're reducing the environmental impact of this, as well as supporting a charity that supports the workers who allow us to get our fast fashion fix.
If you've got any items you could donate there are three ways you can give them to TRAID:
1. Book a free home collection and they’ll pick up direct from your door. Book online at www.traid.org.uk/collections or call 020 8733 2595.
2. Drop them off in one of their 11 charity shops if you happen to be close to one.
3. Drop them off at one of their 1,300 clothes reuse banks.
Unfortunately for me none of these options are currently available in Scotland but this is a charity I hope to see grow and come to Scotland! Until then please do consider clearing out your wardrobes and donating the unworn items to a local charity shop - the funds raised from charity shops achieve great things and clearing out gives you more space to fill your wardrobe with items you love and that you'll wear again and again - it's win win!