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Sunday, 29 September 2013

To Read...2013

All pictures from Goodreads
Firstly, I would again like to apologise for being on such poor form for the past month. I made big plans to get myself more organised and to blog on a more regular, structured basis, but I've just been so busy for the past couple of weeks that, yet again, I've let my poor little page fall by the wayside. In all fairness, it was my birthday on Friday (23 doesn't seem as bad as I thought it would!) so I feel like I can let myself off a little. As I only got home from flitting around the south of England about an hour ago, I don't have a Book of the Week for today, just as I didn't last week (again, sorry), so instead I thought I'd put together a quick list of all the books I want to read before the year is up. Some may call it a rather ambitious list, but aim high, I always say.

Here are a few books that have been on my 'to read' list for far too long now, in no particular order:

A Song Of Ice And Fire - A Dance With Dragons, Part 1 & 2 // George R. R. Martin
Captain Corelli's Mandolin // Louis de Bernieres
The Beautiful & Damned // F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Godfather // Mario Puzo
The Cuckoo's Calling // Robert Galbraith
One Summer: America 1927 // Bill Bryson
A Thousand Splendid Suns // Khaled Hosseini
The Book Thief // Markus Zusak
The Night Circus // Erin Morgenstern

That's all for the moment. No doubt I've forgotten one or twenty, and the list will inevitably grow as the days shorten. I always value recommendations, so I would love to hear your suggestions. Have you read anything amazing recently? What's your favourite book? Have you read anything from my list? What should I read first? Let me know!

S.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Not Worth The Hype: Products That I Found Disappointing

I'm usually pretty confident that I'm going to like a product before I buy it. I read blogs, consider the recommendations of friends, and pay attention to what is being talked about, so that I don't waste my hard earned cash on something I'm going to hate. But sometimes I make mistakes (I'm only human after all), and every now and then, a dud product slips into my collection and I find myself thinking, 'ohh, this is such a disappointment.' We all do it, so I thought I'd share my disappointing purchases with you, in the hope that I can help you to make a more informed decision before you buy one of those oh so raved about products, that actually might end up falling short. Or, so that you can agree with me and make me feel better about my pointless spends. On we go.
Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips Combo Pack - £10.99
The first on my hit list are the Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips. These do nothing. And not only that, they hurt too! So you peel it off, revelling in the promise of lessened blackheads and a clearer T-zone, and you're left with watery eyes, looking a bit like Rudolph, and you still have clogged pores! It's not on really, is it? And actually, I thought I was the only one that thought this, until I saw it mentioned on Imogen's blog, The Bluebird & The Robin. Subsequently, I mentioned it to a fellow beauty obsessive, and her reaction was, 'ugh, yeah they're s**t'. So what I want to know is why is everyone still raving about them , if no one thinks they work?! What type of mind game is this?! I have since been told that even though these awful things are nothing more than torture weapons, the Boots own brand are much more effective, and a fraction of the price. You're welcome. 
Maybelline Fit Me Foundation - £7.99
Next to take a verbal beating is Maybelline's Fit Me Foundation. I actually didn't go out and buy this. A friend who has a much darker skin tone than me, knowing full well that it would be way to light for her, bought it - no idea why. I always struggle to find pale foundations, particularly those that have a more yellow tone to them, so, after noticing the rather huge flaw in her foundation selecting routine, she gave me this to try out. Now actually, the colour is a pretty good fit, but the foundation itself is just so watery that I struggle to get any kind of coverage at all without looking like I've dipped my face in cake batter. Another aspect that irks me, is the fact that it has no kind of pump or dispenser. You just pour it out of the bottle. It's so messy and you get way too much product - I found it to be quite a traumatic experience actually. Now, I know you can go out and buy pumps for your products, but why should I have to? Why doesn't someone have the sense to put one on it before they try and sell it? I mean, honestly! Also, it has SPF 18 in it. I mean, yay for SPF and everything, but 18? I thought they went up in multiples of 5? Don't confuse me so. I have heard good things about the powder in this range though, and as I know the colour is such a good match, and I sincerely doubt that I'm going to have the same consistency issue with it, I think I might give it a whirl. 
Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquers - £6.49
Next up is the Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer. This is one that really irritates me, because I actually think the product is amazing, apart from one flaw which ruins the whole thing. The colours are super pigmented, as well as leaving a decent stain once the glossiness has faded, and they don't dry and leave your lips looking all cracked and flaky, like a lot of lip lacquers tend to. Sadly, the fact that it doesn't dry means that the instant a light breeze catches you unaware, you end up with your hair stuck all over your lips, and any attempt to rectify the situation, more often that not, results in some Joker-esque style of pout, where your hair has left stripes of highly pigmented product all over your face. Thank goodness it stains, eh? I also seem to get a lot on my teeth as the day goes on, and I'm struggling to think of a situation where I'd want to rock that look. So I'm confined to the house if I ever want to wear these. Such a shame!
Benefit Porefessional Primer - £24.50
Another product that I was expecting to love and was left really disappointed by is Benefit's Porefessional Pro Balm Primer. Now, I'll put my hands up and say that I could have probably avoided this one. I saw it at duty free, and when the woman on the Benefit counter saw me looking and asked if I wanted a sample, I panicked, refused and bought the full sized product. It seemed perfectly logical at the time. If only I could remember why. Now this primer is OK, but it isn't great, and the one thing it claims to do, it doesn't do very well at all. With this on, I don't think my pores look minimised in the slightest. It does make my skin feel smoother and silkier, creating a lasting base for my make up, but I don't think it stays put any longer than other primers I've used in the past. I think that if this product wasn't so hyped, I might have enjoyed it a bit more, but as I was expecting spectacular, and all I got was spectacularly average, unfortunately it's getting the boot.
Benefit They're Real! Mascara - £19.50
The last is probably the most controversial of my disappointments, and it's Benefit's They're Real! mascara. For something marketed as the fastest selling mascara in the UK, I was expecting amazing things from this product, but it's just all wrong for me! For starters, the shape of the mascara wand is sound in theory, but in practice, I just don't think it works. The weird mace looking bit at the tip would be perfect for coating the lashes vertically, and I thought it would be particularly good for bottom lashes and getting right into corners, but it just picks up wayyy too much product for it to be effective. I end up with clumps all over the place and a lot of wasted product. I also find that it's difficult to layer when wet, and absolutely impossible when dry, which is rather irritating. I can't be getting that false lash effect with only one coat, and let me tell you, the only thing 'unreal' about this stuff is the colossal amount of flaking and clumping when you attempt a second. It does lengthen my lashes, but no more so than other mascara's I've used, and it isn't particularly good at holding a curl either. So yeah, I just don't rate this mascara. At. All. I much prefer my trusty MaxFactor False Lash Effect mascara's, which I've been going back to for years now. 

So that is my list of products that, in my opinion, aren't worth the hype. Suffice it to say, Benefit took a fair bashing there. It's odd, because I love Benefit. Their eye shadows are amazing, and their blushes, to die for, but their two most hyped and loved products, I think are so underwhelming it's ridiculous. The Benefit products, and the rest, may very well suit you, and I am by no means trying to say that they are universally rubbish, they're just not for me. So if you love any of these products, and feel like they need a bit of defending, then by all means, leave a comment. I'd love to hear everyone's different opinions - it's so interesting to hear how different everybody is when it comes to cosmetics!

Do you agree with any of the products I've mentioned? Do you disagree? What are your disappointing products? Let me know!

S.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

September Glossybox

Sadly, I was unable to get last months Glossybox. The courier that delivers it annoyingly doesn't knock and just leaves the box on the doorstep and, as I was on holiday, and I didn't want it to just sit there, braving the elements and alerting nearby burglars to our absence, I reluctantly had to cancel my subscription. I renewed as soon as I returned, however, and I must say, I'm so glad it wasn't this month's I skipped, as I think that this British beaut is my favourite so far. I usually get something that's not to my taste, but there is nothing that I wouldn't have considered in the September box! Jumping on the theme provided by the presence of London Fashion Week, the box is filled with some fantastic, home-grown products.
The products I received this month were:
Be A Bombshell Onyx Eye Liner
Toni & Guy Classic Shine & Gloss Serum
Elizabeth Arden Untold
Eyelure Pre-Glued Lashes
Dr Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips
First things first, I received an eye liner from Be A Bombshell Cosmetics. I'm dead chuffed that I got a black eye liner as I've been on the lookout for a new one - I'm not particularly happy with the Bourjois one I'm using currently. This wasn't a brand I had heard of before, so I wouldn't have considered buying it if it hadn't been sent to me, but I must admit, they've made a rather good first impression. The liner looks a bit thick and daunting at first, as if you're about to go at your face with a permanent marker, but it's actually fairly easy to control the thickness of application. This is the main plus for me, as I usually really struggle with liquid eye liner, but with this product I was able to create the perfect feline flick in an instant. It's very pigmented, dries almost immediately upon application, and lasts all day. And what more do you want from an eye liner, really? Upon visiting the website (which is actually www.beabombshellcosmetics.com, the one printed in the box isn't a registered domain - oops!) it looks like the brand is actually American, which is a bit confusing, but never mind, eh? But after a bit of exploring, I discovered that another plus from the brand is that the founder, Tonya Thompson, says that it was born out of  a desire to provide cosmetics suitable for the most sensitive of skins. Struggling with highly sensitive skin herself, she was sick to death of being so limited in the products she could use, and so she pioneered the brand to combat the problem. Now I don't suffer with sensitive skin, so I can't really preach about it, but all of the Be A Bombshell products are tried and tested by her, so if you do struggle to find products that work with your sensitive skin, maybe it's worth giving this brand a go.
The second product I found in the box was the Toni & Guy Classic Shine & Gloss Serum. The limited edition packaging, designed by Lulu Kennedy, is really lovely but, to be perfectly honest, I'm more interested in the product inside. The serum is similar to the Frizz Ease range, in the way that it is designed to tame frizz whilst adding a healthy shine to your hair, and actually, it really does! You put it onto dry hair, which felt a bit unnatural to me, as I'm used to putting serum on before I blow dry, but I went with it, and I was left with soft, silky smooth locks and a reinforced love for Toni & Guy products. It's perfect for getting rid of those annoying flyaways that make me look like a baby owl, and I was so impressed by the fact that it left absolutely no residue on my hands when I had finished working it through my tresses. Added bonus - it smells like the Toni & Guy Sea Salt Spray! Wohoo! Love that stuff!
Next up was a 5 ml sample of Elizabeth Arden's new fragrance, Untold (Also American, no? I think I've misunderstood the theme). First of all, the bottle made me want to cry a little bit from the cuteness of it all. It's just so dinky and adorable. I love elegant perfume bottles, and if you make them mini, well then I just can't help myself! As for the smell, it's a very soft, sweet floral scent, which is just beautiful. It's not what I'd usually opt for, fruity fragrances usually being my ideal, but that's the reason I like Glossybox - for discovering little gems like this one that I might have overlooked at the perfume counter. I think this delicate scent will be perfect to pop in my handbag for evenings out, and I'm sure it will get a lot of use, despite it being rather different from my signature scent.
The fourth item I was given was a set of Eyelure Pre-Glued Lashes. I love wearing false lashes. I think they add a wonderful element of glamour to a look, although I only tend wear them on special occasions, as I feel like they're much too much effort to be fussing around with on a regular basis. I haven't had a chance to wear these yet, but I'll be really interested to see how well the glue compares to the normal Eyelure lashes. I would hope that they are easier to use, and if that does turn out to be the case, who knows, I might start wearing falsies much more frequently. As a matter of fact, it's my birthday next week, the perfect occasion to give these fluttery babies a test run. 
Last, and sadly, least in this months box was the Dr Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips. I've heard a lot about this product, and although I wasn't about to rush out and buy it, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. Not that I had much of an opportunity to! The already minuscule sample had barely any product in it. It was like the grapple you have with your toothpaste when you're down to the very last dregs. Not what I want from something I haven't even used yet! The product itself is rather dense, and, although not sticky, it's quite difficult to apply and move around. And once it's on, I didn't find it to be particularly moisturising, soothing or hydrating. I'm not even sure what it's supposed to do to be honest, but it didn't really do much of anything. I mean, it's OK, but it isn't great, and definitely not a product I'll be purchasing any time soon.

Et voilĂ . I hope you enjoyed my round up of glossy treats for this month. I think it's probably the best I've received so far, but what do you think? Did you get the same products as I did? What was your favourite? Let me know!

S.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Book of the Week: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

"Aim higher in case you fall short."

Firstly, let me apologise for dropping the ball a little bit with these Book of the Week posts. I've had a very hectic past few weeks with not a lot of time to read and, to be perfectly honest, I didn't really have anything that I was that excited to write about. I could have just picked a book and scribbled down a few thoughts about it, but I thought it was far better to take a couple of weeks off, and come back to my weekly musings with a refreshed energy. I still haven't really read anything new (I'm actually still working my way through the Game of Thrones series, and loving it), but I did think of a series that really caught my imagination a while ago, which has since become a bit of a phenomenon. So for this week, I thought I'd write about the The Hunger Games trilogy, and my fave of the three, Catching Fire.

I read The Hunger Games series a fair few years ago now. At the time, I hadn't heard anything about them, but a friend and fellow book addict had read them, and knew they were acquiring quite a substantial following, and she insisted I read them, as she was positive that I'd love them. And as soon as she explained the premise of the books to me, I knew she was right. I love the gladiatorial aspect of the whole thing, and I'm always quite intrigued by dystopian, 1984-esque stories, so I was more than a little excited to get started. Needless to say, I devoured the two that had been published in as many days, and bought the third as soon as it was released. I would absolutely say that this series has more than earned it's title as one of the most popular young adult books of its generation. It's just brilliant, and here are a few of the many reasons why.

My first reason for loving all of the books is the hero of the piece; Katniss Everdeen. I love how independent and determined she is. There are far too few strong female role models in young adult literature these days, the majority of them focused on boys and looking pretty, but I think that Katniss sets a fantastic example for younger readers. She gets things a little bit wrong sometimes, and she is definitely flawed, but her concerns are for her family, and the good of others, making her a lot more deep, interesting and likeable than her contemporary equivalents (*cough* Bella *cough*). I just love her, and welcome the rather refreshing perspective she brings to the female lead. I actually think that popular books with a strong and healthy female presence, owe a lot of their success to this fact, although I'm not sure how many would agree with me. For example, Harry Potter captured the hearts and the imaginations of pretty much every one of my generation, but I don't think the books would have had half as much longevity without that strong female foundation - Hermione, Mrs. Weasley, Luna, and J. K. Rowling herself make those books what they are, and I think this is also the case with Katniss. 

I also really enjoy the way the books are written. The style is quite choppy and abrupt, which really lends itself to the content of the book. The whole thing is very fast paced and gripping, at times a little nail biting, and I think the fact that the writing style is so exhilarating is probably one of the many reasons that I couldn't put the books down until I had finished them!

Catching Fire, the second in the series, is my favourite of the trio for a few reasons, one of them being that it is far more cleverly constructed than the first. A big part of that is obviously owed to the fact that so much has been set up for the reader in the first instalment. But I just enjoy the premise a lot more. I massively prefer the arena in this one (which I think will translate fantastically to the silver screen), and I love the fact that the contestants turn against the Capitol and the arena itself, giving all of the players a chance to get to know each other, and, by proxy, the reader gets to know them too. There wasn't much opportunity for that in the first book, as Katniss was so isolated for most of the time. I particularly liked Finnick Odair and his back story, and I've yet to meet anyone who didn't! I also loved Mags, the 80 year old, wise little lady from Finnick's district, as well as Wiress and Beetee, the kind of adorable duo who figure out the arena. To be honest, all of the characters had something wonderful about them, and I'm grateful that we were given the chance to get to know all of them this time around. 

So there you have my opinion of the well loved Hunger Games. And although Catching Fire is, without a doubt, my favourite,  I couldn't really fault any of the three books. I think they're brilliant, and  I cannot wait to see the hotly anticipated film adaptation of my favourite in the series. As for the Book of the Week posts, I have a pile of books as tall as me just desperate to be read, so next week, I'll be back with a renewed zest and enthusiasm, as well as some exciting (hopefully) book reviews for you all to read. I'd better get cracking!

Are you a Hunger Games fan? Which one is your favourite? Are you excited to see the new film? Let me know!

S.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Singapore Part Two: Theatre, Elephant Rides And A Bit More Shopping

Picking up form where I left off with my Singapore Part 1 post, I'm just going to dive right into it and tell you all about my second and final amazing week on holiday. So here we go.

Fresh back from sunny Indonesia, we decided to throw ourselves right back into the active lifestyle of Singapore with a day trip to Singapore Zoo. I love visits to the zoo. It's one of my absolute favourite things to do. In fact, at one point in life, I was adamant that my dream job would be as a zoo keeper. It didn't work out, but I still adore visiting. To be in a warm and sunny country, surrounded by a huge variety of tropical and amazing animals was just a dream. And it was here that I experienced the highlight of my trip. When we were in Bintan, I got hugely excited by the fact that the hotel offered elephant rides, and struggled to hide my disappointment when I was told that you needed to book at least a day in advance, and the that elephants didn't ride on Sundays. Saddened by the lost opportunity, I told myself that it was OK, it was just a sign that I'd have to return someday to enjoy this experience and all of the other wonderful adventures the resort had to offer. It turns out that I needn't have been so disappointed after all, as when I opened up the Zoo map, there it was! Elephant riding!! It might not seem that exciting to those of you that live in places like Asia, where the opportunity probably presents itself all the time (I mean, you only have to go to your local zoo!), but for me it was absolutely amazing and by far the most memorable part of my trip. The elephants were so playful, so intelligent and so beautiful! I'd never really considered how magnificent they were before, but I think they are definitely one of the most amazing animals I have ever had the pleasure of being so close to, and the trip has sparked in me a desire to learn so much more about the majestic creatures. It makes me grin just writing about the experience, it was so wonderful!
Me on a frickin' elephant! Ahh!
The cutest little meerkat you ever did see!
The following day was equally action packed. I think by this point we were aware of the end of the trip, making us determined to cram in as much as humanly possible. We journeyed over to the island of Sentosa, which is about a 5 minute monorail ride away from the Singapore coastline, and spent a fun filled day at Universal Studios. Lacking a Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this place has nothing on Orlando, although I'm kind of glad for that as I feel as though it would have taken away from the magical experience of my previous year's trip to Florida if it had been at all comparable. Despite that, this theme park is amazing in it's own way. It features some of the same attractions as it's Western counterpart, The Mummy roller coaster being a particular favourite of mine, but it also has some new elements including an entire area dedicated to Shrek, as well as a Madagascar section and a Sci-Fi City featuring a rather exciting 4D Transformers ride. It was such a fantastic day, that really made me happily nostalgic for last year's holiday (I spent a week and a half at Universal Studios Resort, Orlando, and then a week and a half visiting my aunt in Miami). 


Wednesday took us to the relatively new Gardens by the Bay. If I'm honest, I preferred the Botanic Gardens, which were free, and absolutely breath taking, but the Gardens by the Bay had their own charm. Something I found particularly interesting, and kind of weird, is that the main attractions of the Bay are two large, domed, greenhouses that are home to plants from all around the world. Now, to me, greenhouses are supposed to get hot to help the plants grow, but here, they are made colder than the outside climate in order to house exotic displays like the English country garden! Ha! I cannot tell you how odd it felt to be standing amidst rose bushes and the like, thinking about how similar it is to your own back garden, with a load of Asian people ogling at how interesting and different all of the flowers are! It's so odd to consider that what is normal, almost boring to some, is fascinating and new to others! The gardens also had these really interesting structures called the Skywalk, which looked like some kind of futuristic forest. It was really nice to be able to see the surrounding bay from atop these quirky structures.
On Wednesday evening, we went back to Sentosa, this time taking the scenic Cable Car over to the island. We got popcorn and drinks for the journey, and it was fantastic to get a birds eye view of the place. Once we arrived, we went luging, which was a really fun go kart thing, down to the seafront and had dinner on the beach. The restaurant was beautiful, the food delicious, and it was such a relaxing and enjoyable evening. I wish I could do it every night!
They had one of those cool weather signs haha!
On Thursday, I took myself on another lone shopping trip, but during the evening, I was very much in my element, as we were taken the see The Phantom of the Opera. Dressed to the nines, we head out to a cute little restaurant called Au Chocolat, which featured, you guessed it, chocolate, in all it's food. I was desperate to try out one of their many beautiful desserts, but the meals were kind of huge (see my brother's beast of a burger), and I thought it unwise, considering the impending theatre trip. Phantom was on at the Mastercard theatre, which is inside the Marina Bay Sands shopping centre. Shopping and theatre in the same building - bliss. A huge fan of everything musical theatre, it had never really been high on my must watch list, but I absolutely loved it! The music, the costumes, the story - everything was just perfect, and it was a fantastic evening out.
The Beastburger
Friday was another day for shopping. First of all, me and my Mum (not really a guys day out) went to a place called Bugis Street, which was recommended to me, and described as a bigger, better version of Chinatown. A large sheltered square littered with all kinds of market stalls, it was all a bit to claustrophobic and crowded for my liking, so we didn't stay long and decided to go and see what else Singapore had to offer. So we picked a direction and took a leisurely stroll which landed us on Arab Street, followed by Haji Lane. Now these were more my kind of places. Lined with cute little boutiques, brimming with beautiful handmade jewellery and sweet little trinkets, we whiled away the afternoon exploring all the fantastic little corners of these roads.
After a lovely days shopping, we went for dinner at the Singapore Cricket Club, and then went out for drinks at a bar called One Altitude, which perches on top of One Raffles Place and is the worlds highest outside bar. 64 floors up, the drinks are good, but the views are breathtaking. You feel like you're on top of the world, and we had the best time pointing out all of the places we had visited over the past two weeks. I  had never been to a rooftop club before, England not exactly offering the best climate for it, and I only wish that my friends had been there to enjoy it with me - they would have all loved it! Oh well, I'll just have to go back there with them, won't I?
My camera's crappy attempt at night photography
On Saturday, we spent the morning taking in the history of Singapore at the Asian Civilisations Museum. As an Ancient History graduate, I absolutely love this kind of thing, but admittedly it isn't for everyone. We then took a river cruise, and were able to get another wonderful view of the bay from the water. As we were heading home the following evening, and the boys wanted to watch the Grand Prix (yawn), we decided not to go out for the evening, instead opting for a tasty barbecue on the terrace. It was delicious, and reminded me so much of my childhood, as it was kind of traditional to have as many barbecues as possible whilst we were on holiday. The perfect end to the perfect trip. 
On our final day, I zipped out for the last of many trips to Sephora, before heading back to the apartment for another afternoon at the Botanic Gardens. There, we had a fancy lunch in the centre of the Gardens, where I had a Caesar Salad in a bowl that I could have feasibly worn as a helmet. Delicious, but huge. After a leisurely afternoon, wandering around to the places we didn't have the time to explore during our first venture, we went back to the apartment to pack and drove to the airport. I was so sad to go, but I'm sure I haven't seen the last of this magnificent island.
There is still so much that I want to do in Singapore, and I will most definitely be venturing back there, hopefully sooner rather than later. I had no idea how much I would fall in love with the beautiful city island, but it is safe to say that those two weeks were two of the best in my life. If you are ever given the opportunity to visit Singapore, grasp it with both hands! I promise, you'll have the time of your life.

Are you considering visiting Singapore? What would you be most excited to do there? Let me know!

S.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Singapore Spree: Sephora Haul

Due to some kind of colossal oversight, there are no Sephora's in England. Tragic but true. So, whenever I go on holiday, I make a point of seeking out the mothership and going a little crazy with my credit card. Some might call it unnecessary, but hey, if you can't splurge on holiday, when can you, eh? Naively, I thought that the store was more a western thing, but on my recent trip to Singapore, I saw them dotted around all over the place! Needless to say, I returned to England with a severely depleted bank balance, and beauty products coming out my ears. As excited as a kid at Christmas to have a play around with all my new purchases, I couldn't wait to share them with you either. So, here is a summary of all the cosmetic treats I picked up.
Firstly, I'll tell you about what is arguably my favourite buy: Fishwife by Butter London. I've been lusting after this beauty for rather a while now, so you can imagine my squeal of delight when I saw it perched atop the Butter London display. Unavailable in the UK for reasons I can't quite fathom, this is possibly the most beautiful polish I've ever owned. A stunning holographic sea foam green with flecks of gold and all sorts in it, I have worn this solidly for about 3 weeks now. It also seems to be immune to chipping and is so easy to apply - the Wonder Woman of the nail varnish world! I'll do a full review on this at a later date, but it's definitely replaced my previous favourite, Fiver, at the top of the nail art hierarchy.
The other contender for favourite purchase is a Too Faced palette, aptly named Pretty Rebel. It is packed with some magnificent metallic shades, perfect for either dolled up or grunged down looks, as well as a couple of matte neutral shades, one of which has become a staple part of my everyday make up, and a questionable pink shade. Not sure why they thought that was a good idea, but hey, I'll try anything once. I've never bought anything from Too Faced, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the palette is very similar in quality, design and pigmentation to it's Urban Decay counterparts. I actually only got it because of one magnificent shade, Girly, which is an iridescent brown with shots of green in it. I spent a long while umming and ahhing about whether it was a good idea to spend a considerable amount of money for 10 shadows when I only really wanted one of them. I'm so glad I took the plunge though, because I absolutely love it! Again, I will do a more detailed post on this wonderful palette another day. It's just so much fun to play around with!

Sorry about the photo quality! I have yet to find anywhere in my house where the lighting is decent enough to get a good photo!
Next on my list are the Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment, and the standard Tinted Lip Treatment in the shade, Coral. I love these products, and have been wanting to replenish my dwindling collection for a while now, so of course I had to pick up a couple! I had never tried the Advanced Therapy product before, but I have to say, it has worked wonders on my dry, flaky lips as an overnight treatment. As for the Coral Lip Treatment, the colour pay off is fantastic for a tinted balm, and, as always, I love that it contains SPF 15.
I then got the Bliss FatGirlSlim Skin Firming Cream. A while ago, my friend recommended this to me, along with it's partner product, FatGirlSleep, as one of the best anti-cellulite products she had ever tried. Cellulite is one of my biggest insecurities, so I was really keen to give it a go! Now, I know that it is no substitute for a balanced diet and good old fashioned exercise, but sometimes it's nice to have that extra kick of confidence that a caffeine based product like this one can give, be it on a night out, or a special occasion, when you're desperate to wear that new skirt, but are worried about the dreaded orange peel. I didn't get both products, as it is quite a lot of money to part with for a product that I had never tried before, plus, I had a weight allowance to worry about. So far, I'm really getting on with it though. Although not drastic, I can see a difference when I've put it on, and, weird as it sounds, it's one of those products that you can feel working, which I really like. I think I'll give FatGirlSleep a try at some point soon. Maybe when my bank balance has had a little more time to recuperate.
The next was a bit of an impulse buy. I hate it when they put stuff near the tills. Disaster waiting to happen! It's a Philosophy Lip Shine in the flavour, Melon Daiquiri, and as well as providing a beautiful peachy shimmer for the lips, it's delicious!! I can see myself reapplying this rather too often on the days I miss lunch. Yum!
I also bought a NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in the shade, Cashmere. If I'm being perfectly honest, I only bought this because I have never owned an NYX product, as they aren't readily available in the UK, and I wasn't going to leave having not bought something from the brand. But actually, I'm loving this pencil! It's been getting most of its use as an inner corner highlighter, but I really like it as an eyeshadow base or on its own, scribbled across my lids. It's a really beautiful pale gold colour, and it only cost S$9! (£4.50) Such a steal! I'm really glad I picked this up.
Finally, I got myself a travel brush set. I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many brushes. I really like the Sephora brush collection, but can't get past how long the handles are. Honestly, they're like chopsticks for giants. Can't be working with those. But the travel sets are a much better size, easy to travel with (clearly), as well as being quite a lot cheaper. I got the Face and Eye Travel Tool Kit, and I've gotten quite a lot of use out of them already.
I also got a couple of things in duty free on the way there, the first being Benefit's Porefessional. Now, I'll be honest, I heard rave reviews about this product, and although it does happen on occasion (cough cough, Philosophy Lip Gloss), I rarely buy something unless I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it. But I used this primer for the two weeks that I was away, and it didn't really do it for me. I don't know whether it's aimed at more oily skin, but it didn't really minimise my pores at all, although it did make my skin look a bit smoother. As for staying power, it was OK, but nothing amazing. Granted, it might have has something to do with the humidity and heat of Singapore, so I'm going to give it a second chance now that I'm home, but honestly, I'm not holding out much hope for this one. It's such a shame, because I was really excited about this product. I'll just stick to my trusty bareMinerals Prime Time from now on I think.
Last, but not least, I bought the essential duty free purchase, a new perfume! It's Daisy Sunshine by Marc Jacobs. A deliciously fruity scent, I knew I had to have it the moment my nose caught a whiff. I'm not too enamoured with the somewhat garish bottle, much preferring the more subtle original version, but with a smell this delectable, who really cares. I only wish that I could have found a 100ml size.
So there you have it, my Sephora haul. It's quite a long post, but then again, I bought quite a lot of stuff! And, let's be serious, when do I ever manage to write short blog posts? Condensed is not my thing, and for that, I can only apologise.

Do you have any of the products I have recently purchased? What do you think of them? Like me, do you suffer from a distinct lack of Sephora's near you? Let me know!

S.

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