January & February Empties!

The first Empties post of 2015! Have you been keeping up with your New Year’s Resolutions so far?! I’ve been trying my best to use up products, and simultaneously developed a bit of a Lush addiction – oops! But I’m still enjoying keeping track of what I’ve been using up and at least trying not to buy anything I don’t really need! Here’s what I used up through January and February…

Skincare

1. Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel (£17.60 via Escentual) – My HG cleanser for taking off my makeup; shame it’s so pricey! Luckily Escentual has quite a good deal, but despite only using this on days when I wear heavy eye makeup, it still gets used up so fast. I remove the bulk of my makeup with a wipe and use this delightfully jelly-textured product on dry skin to literally ‘melt’ away my makeup, easily and gently – the most effective way to remove stubborn liner and mascara without irritating sensitive eyes. Repurchase? Yes – when I can afford it!

2. REN EverCalm Gentle Cleansing Milk (£16 via Space NK) – Another cleanser, though I don’t love this one quite as much as the Clarins. I used this on days when I was wearing less or no makeup, since it required a bit more work to get everything off! However its creamy, gentle formula meant it didn’t irritate or dry my skin at all – ideal for no-makeup days, and the pump bottle made it so easy to use. Though I definitely need something more oil-based to get all my makeup off, and £16 is a bit steep for me at the moment! Repurchase? No.

3. Barleans Coconut Oil (£17.99 via Amazon) – First I have to say this was around £10 when I bought it – Amazon prices seem to change a lot, and I don’t tend to discriminate between brands of coconut oil as they all do the same thing! I’m sure everyone and their great grandma has already heard how miraculous coconut oil is, and I’ve been using it for just about everything these days, but mostly for areas of dry skin (my skin does not like this winter weather) and as a treatment on the ends of my hair, left on for at least half an hour before washing. It makes quick work of dried-out skin and damaged hair, better than many expensive lotions and conditioners – a must-have multi-use product for just about everything! This giant tub lasted me well over a year, so it’s also excellent value for money. Repurchase? Already did.

4. Bioderma HydraBio H2O (£10.20 via Escentual) – My quick morning cleanser! After waking up, I drop some of this on a cotton pad, swipe all over my face and leave – I love a good micellar water, and this is my favourite. I have to say I don’t notice a huge difference between the HydraBio version and the regular Bioderma, but I find this brand doesn’t dry out or irritate my skin at all – it’s definitely the most gentle and effective I’ve tried. A must-have for me – makes cleansing in the morning so easy when I’m half-asleep! Repurchase? Already did.

5. Johnson’s Extra-Sensitive Wipes (£3.29 via Boots) – I have a considerable stash of these, since my nan would always buy loads when they were on offer! To me, they’re nothing special – despite being labelled ‘extra sensitive’ they are quite rough on the skin and don’t do the best job of removing makeup, but they’ll do when I don’t have others. Neutrogena are still my favourite; though sadly not sold in the UK! If I have to buy wipes in store, I usually go for Simple instead. Repurchase? No.

6. Kleenex Shine Absorbing Sheets (no longer available) – These always make a regular appearance in my Empties posts, so I won’t go on about them too much! If you can get them cheaper than the much-loved Clean & Clear blotting sheets, they are most definitely worth it – a handbag essential for anyone else with oily skin.

7. La Roche-Posay Hydreane Legere Moisturising Cream (£10.20 via Escentual) – Another regular in the Empties that I won’t go on about too much! My everyday moisturiser – I’ve been layering this over my Hydraluron serum during the cold weather, for some added moisture. I always go back to this – it’s hydrating yet non-greasy, kind to sensitive skin – an ideal daytime moisturiser for wearing under makeup. And luckily it’s not too expensive! Repurchase? Yes.

8. La Roche-Posay Redermic Eyes (£20.80 via Escentual) – So maybe I’m not old enough to need any kind of heavy-duty anti-aging eye creams yet, but creasing under my eyes is enough to make me a little self-conscious. Of course, on my young skin it didn’t make a huge difference, but the light creases have certainly improves a little; not so much with dark circles though! Repurchase? Maybe when I finish up other eye creams.

Bath

9. Kneipp Herbal Bath Stress Free in Mandarin Orange (£7.99 via Fragrance Direct) – I received this as part of one of my BBB boxes last year – a lovely surprise which I quite enjoyed! I never really use bath oils, but this gave a gorgeous, uplifting orange fragrance that was wonderfully relaxing in the evening. I’m more of a bubble bath / bath bomb person, but I did love this while I had it! Repurchase? Possibly not.

10. Lush Sweetie Pie Shower Jelly (from £3.50 via Lush) – I tend to stay away from Lush’s shower jellies after finding them thoroughly frustrating a few years ago, but I just couldn’t say no to this delicious scent! Sweetie Pie is a coconut, cherry, blackcurrant and bergamot-scented sparkly jelly, not too far from the scent of the much-loved Comforter bubble bar. I still find these wriggly, slippery jellies annoying to work with in the bath, and don’t use them in the shower at all since I’d constantly drop it, but this did smell gorgeous, & fairly useable squished into an exfoliating cloth! Repurchase? Yes, in future.

11. Lush Snow Fairy Shower Gel (unavailable) – Found this in a little Christmas gift box from 2013 which I’d forgotten about, oops! It still smelled good but the pretty colour and glitter had all stuck to the bottom, and I have another mini one to get through in the meantime, so I used it as a bubble bath instead! Snow Fairy is a real love/hate product – its scent being almost overwhelmingly sweet, a fruity, sugary, ultra-sweet marshmallow fragrance. I used to love it but now I’m fairly indifferent – a bit too sweet for me! I’m happy to use it up somehow if I’m gifted it, but not one I rush out to buy! Repurchase? Probably not.

12. Lush Roots [Sample] (£10.25 via Lush for full size) – An invigorating treatment for the roots of your hair – clue is in the name! It’s hard to tell from a tiny sample if your hair will like this, so I bought the full size anyway. So far? I used it a few times in the run-up to dyeing my hair in order to help get it in great condition. It’s rather difficult to apply to longer hair – messy and tangly, ouch! After 20 minutes it feels rather tingly from the peppermint, and you wash it out. I haven’t used it near enough to notice if it encourages hair growth or helps maintain condition over time, but I did notice it give a little more volume, and the hair at my scalp felt particularly clean and fluffy afterwards. I’m not totally sure if it’s safe for coloured hair, so I have it stowed in the cupboard for now! I’m not sure if this is really a necessity for me personally, but I’d encourage anyone with dandruff or a dry scalp to try it out, it might really help! Repurchase? Not sure yet!

13. Lush Northern Lights Bath Ballistic [x2] (unavailable) – Possibly my favourite bath product from Lush’s Christmas collection last year! This unusual cylindrical bath bomb is dreamy in every way – gorgeous ylang ylang and jasmine scent, purple, covered in tiny stars and fizzes and foams into beautiful purple, blue and yellow swirls in your bathtub, reminiscent of the Northern Lights in the skies, hence the name. I wish this was a permanent product, but at least I stocked up well! This is my go-to bath product to use for a lovely relaxing evening. Repurchase? Yes, if possible.

14. Lush Unicorn Horn [unavailable] – The beautiful must-have, sparkly, candy star-encrusted, conical bubble bar from Lush’s Valentine’s collection this year! Needless to say I stockpiled these too – they’re just so pretty, not to mention the calming lavender fragrance that is a perfect partner to the Twilight shower gel or bath bomb. I was feeling gluttonous so used an entire bar for one bath, but this could easily be used for two, making them decent value for money. I hope they bring these back next year! Repurchase? Yes, if possible.

15. Lush Christmas Penguin [unavailable] – Sorry for all the limited edition products! I have reviewed Christmas Penguin briefly before, but wish I’d bought a few more at the time. Aside from being completely adorable, this smells very much like the wonderful Olive Branch shower gel, citrus and bergamot scented – one that’s unisex and an all-round pleaser. Why do they not do these all year round?! Repurchase? Yes, if possible.

16. Lush Heart Throb Bubbleroon [unavailable] – My other favourite from this year’s Valentine’s collection, besides Unicorn Horn! One bubbleroon is enough for two baths – the bright red hearts easily break away from the gold glittery middle. Scented with ylang ylang oil, geranium, vanilla and frangipani, this is a slightly floral, slightly spicy, a little bit gourmand fragrance – quite an unusual one. Crumbled under the tap, this produces luscious red bath water, a good amount of bubbles and leaves skin nicely moisturised after. I’d have been more than happy with a few of these for Valentine’s Day. Repurchase? Yes, if possible.

17. Lush Star Light Star Bright Bath Melt [unavailable] – Last one of the discontinued bath bits for now! This was included in one of three (!) 12 Days of Christmas gift sets I bought in the 50% off sale – really good value considering the wonderful items inside! I was really hesitant to use it as it’s somewhat of a glitterbomb (I’m still finding glitter everywhere!) though I changed my mind once in the water. This melt faded into a stunning deep blue, the glitter adding to the beautiful shimmery night sky effect in the water – so pretty! And not to mention ultra-moisturising – my skin felt incredibly soft afterwards and I didn’t need to use lotion. Repurchase? Yes, if possible.

18. Lush Phoenix Rising (£3.35 via Lush– A new favourite of mine – not sure why I never tried it before! My personal style lately is very much a witchy/hippie kind of thing, and this divinely spicy cinnamon and bergamot delight just adds to that. I cut it in half before use, which left plenty for one bath. It looks gorgeous in the water – purple and then fizzing into the blue middle. Cocoa butter and shea butter leaves your skin feeling soft and smelling luxurious. A rather unique one that I wish I’d tried out sooner – can’t stop smelling myself afterwards! Repurchase? Yes.

Makeup

19. Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation in Ivory (£8.99 via Superdrug) – My go-to daily foundation for a while, but now I’m favouring L’Oreal True Match since it controls my oiliness a little better. Though this is ideal for when you’re looking and feeling a little tired to create a foolproof radiant look that isn’t just shiny – this saved me many days whilst at uni! Great medium coverage and colour match, easy to apply and pump packaging, which is perfect. A must-have for anyone looking for an affordable, natural-looking, slightly glowy base, even on oilier skin. Repurchase? In the future.

20. MUA Makeup Academy Fixing Mist (£5 via MUA) – I was looking for an affordable dupe for the Urban Decay fixing sprays; sadly this didn’t live up to expectations! It wasn’t a disaster or anything, but just didn’t make my makeup last longer – why waste money on a product that doesn’t do anything? Repurchase? No.

Hope you enjoyed nosing through my empties from the last couple of months – hopefully I can rein in my Lush addiction and start using up more products..especially since I’m going away next month and need to save money! What have you used up lately?

February Favourites

We’ve almost made it through the dreary winter weather, people! Today is looking rather, dare we say, spring-like?! Sunny and not horrendously cold for once. Anyway, my Favourites this month is a little sparse as I’m hoping to be hopping on a plane next month and so saving up money just in case! So here’s what I’ve been adoring during February…

1. Lush Calacas Shower Gel (unavailable) – It’s no secret that I’ve been somewhat obsessing over Lush lately! This was available in the Lush Kitchen a few weeks ago, but I didn’t pick it up at the time, since I’m not usually a fan of citrus or lime-scented products! Instead I took a chance on it, buying one from a lovely seller via Depop, and so glad I did! However this isn’t quite your typical lime – it’s sweet and fruity as well as zesty and energising, perfect for a morning shower! Maybe it’s the neroli which gives it that twist? Calacas is a must-try for anyone who needs a little extra something to wake them up in their morning shower!

2. Lush Lord of Misrule Solid Perfume (unavailable) – I’ve been wearing this layered with the scent of Calacas after showering in the morning – I just can’t get enough of the Lord of Misrule scent! It’s a mix of patchouli, vanilla and black pepper – quite an unusual combination and wasn’t quite sure when I smelled the limited edition bath bombs late last year of the same scent, but it’s distinctive and gorgeous – sweet, warm and a touch earthy. I’d love a liquid version, as well as shower gels and lotions, so I can smell like this all the time!

3. L’Oreal True Match Foundation (£9.99 via Boots) – Admittedly an impulse buy after reading claims of this product’s longevity on oily skin, but turned out to be a great one! A lightweight medium coverage liquid foundation that is perfect for everyday. I use just a single pump to cover my entire face. This wears so well throughout the day without feeling heavy, separating, oxidising or getting too oily – I only need to blot once through the day, if that. And it doesn’t cling to dry areas (thanks, winter weather). I’m NW20 in MAC / Buff in Revlon, and shade C2 Rose Vanilla is a great match for my light, cool-toned skin. A pleasantly affordable must-try for anyone else with oily and combination skin looking for a new everyday foundation!

4. Lush King of Skin Body Butter (£5.75 via Lush) – An unusual concept for moisturising the skin, but has proved really effective! This solid bar is simply massaged into the skin, melting with the warmth of your body and leaves skin non-greasy and beautifully soft. Hardly any more hassle than using lotions, and also smells good enough to eat. Fair trade cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil work their magic to thoroughly moisturise dry skin and leave it baby-soft. I received this in a Christmas gift box and was a little skeptical as I don’t really use their massage bars, but I’m so pleased with the results and will now be using it all the time! And who wouldn’t want to smell like delicious cocoa butter?!

5. MAC Creme Cup (£15.50 via MAC Cosmetics UK) – One of those lipsticks I always seem to go back to – as you can see, it’s now little more than a nub and may possibly be the first ever lipstick I use up completely, how exciting! I thought I’d lost it the other day and was so distraught I went to pick up another (by trading in 6 empty MAC products at my local counter using their Back2Mac programme), and of course, found it again a couple of weeks later! Typical. I’ve recently had my hair re-dyed a dark reddish-purple with blonde, and I love how this creamy, warm pale pink nude contrasts with the purple. It is also really hard to find an affordable dupe for this and so definitely worth investing in – one of those wearable pink-nudes that will suit just about everyone.

And that’s it for my favourites this month – my January/February empties will be coming soon! What have you been loving this month?

Top 5 Makeup Items Tag

A tag that was floating around on Depop recently, so I decided to share mine on here too! The idea of this tag is to share your top 5 holy grail, can’t-live-without makeup items. Maybe it’s the items you use and abuse daily, or a favourite ‘special occasion’ piece! I couldn’t quite narrow it down to just 5 so I cheated a little and chose 7!

1. MAC ‘Launch Away’ Blush – My go-to, everyday peachy-pink blush! As you can tell, I really do use this a lot – truthfully I haven’t touched any other blushes in a while, despite having a fairly sizeable collection of the things! On the skin it has the most lovely satin finish and is very difficult to overdo. I have multiple backups of this, so hopefully I’ve never have to be without! A shame it was limited edition a couple of years ago and therefore quite difficult to get hold of.

2. Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation in Buff – Another product possessing unicorn-like levels of rarity, in the UK at least. I always snatch up a few of these on Ebay or Fragrance Direct whenever I spot them available at a good price, though you can always pick them up in the US (or ask someone nice to get some for you). Although I really hate the heavy glass packaging (could it be more awkward?!) the formula itself simply cannot be beat. An ultra-lightweight whipped texture with excellent coverage and the perfect shade for my NW15/20 skin. It stays put during the longest and busiest of days and is virtually oil and sweat-proof, only needing perhaps one touch-up over those 12+ hour days where you need to be looking your best morning til night. Though it is very much full coverage so I don’t typically wear it every day – only when I’m on an evening out, or have a very busy full-on day. Not sure how I’d cope without this now!

3. MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW20 – The best concealer I’ve ever used! True to the name, it really does stay put all day and offer maximum coverage for dark circles and marks. I only tend to use this under my eyes and doesn’t crease, as long as only a tiny amount is used. I have a tiny red vein mark under one of my eyes which I’m quite self-conscious about, but this covers it perfectly. The only issue is the packaging – as handy as the pump is, sometimes it does deposit a bit too much product which inevitably gets wasted – a bit of a shame considering this isn’t the cheapest! I’ve tried other concealers but have found they’re too yellow, too sheer or just all too prone to horrible creasing.

4. Maybelline Color Whisper Lipstick in Made-It Mauve – Again with the hard-to-find products – so sorry about that! These lipsticks deliver a sheer yet vibrant and very comfortable wash of colour to the lips, perfect as a grab-and-go product for any look, or even just to brighten up your face and look at least half put together when you’re getting ready in a rush. A lovely, easy-to-wear wintery berry shade which would suit any skin tone.

5. MAC Brow Pencil in Lingering – I found my holy grail brow product! A must-have for defining sparse brows whilst looking soft and natural. This self-propelling pencil allows you to draw individual hairs with the ultra-fine end, a particular necessity when you have brows like mine which grow in patches. I finish with MAC Brow Set in Beguile to tint the lighter hairs and tame flyaways for full, natural looking brows. I’d be somewhat lost without this!

6. Collection Extreme 24 Hour Felt Tip Liner – My favourite eyeliner, and possibly one of the cheapest around! I really don’t get on with typical liquid liners, but this pointed felt tip style pen is virtually foolproof – so easy to use, and a must-try for anyone else who typically has issues getting eyeliner just right due to sensitive eyelids or any other reason. Create a fine line or a thick, dramatic cat eye look – nothing else I’ve tried has been quite this simple!

7. Make Up For Ever 158 Double Ended Sculpting Brush – Does a brush count as a makeup item? It definitely isn’t the cheapest out there and quite a lot more than I’d normally like to spend, but if you think of it as two separate brushes it isn’t quite as much. This works as my foolproof contour brush – I use the angled end to sculpt my bronzer of choice (usually Benefit Hoola) under my cheekbones in a line, then use the larger fluffy end to blend out. Simple, subtle instant cheekbones from one brush and one product! I really don’t like anything too obvious in the way of contouring, so this is perfect for me – and a great investment!

So there are my top 7 products – sorry, I couldn’t quite narrow it down to 5! I tag anyone and anyone who’d like to do this – link me to your top 5 below!

January Favourites

*insert I-can’t-believe-the-first-month-of-2015-is-over ramble*..hope you’ve had a brilliant month! Mine has been quite fun and busy, but stressful too! Not to mention very cold even on the South Coast – can warm weather come asap, please?! Here are some of my favourites that have got me through the most dreary, chilly month of the year!

1. Superfacialist Rose Brighten & Refine Facial Scrub (£8.99 via Boots) – Anyone else with ultra sensitive skin will already know the eternal struggle of trying to find an exfoliator that actually works but without leaving your poor face red and raw! I was told that rubbing with a flannel would be enough, but it’s really not effective enough. I’d tried numerous other scrubs but they were either much too abrasive, or the formula irritated my skin. I picked this one up on a whim so didn’t research it before buying as I’d normally do, but I am so glad I did! Using a tiny amount (squeeze around half an inch onto your fingers) and very gently rub all over, it does feel very scratchy and ‘I’m-totally-going-to-have-lobster-skin-after-this’, but somehow skin looks perfectly calm, as well as feeling thoroughly buffed and more radiant. I believe it might be the rose water in this that helps to calm – not sure, but it definitely works! I use every other day to keep my skin looking smooth and clear, with a clay mask once a week.

2. Lush Kitchen ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’ Shower Gel (currently unavailable) – It’s a sad time – I discovered the brilliance of the Lush Kitchen this month! For anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure, every week Lush cook up very limited batches of favourite discontinued products down the road from me upstairs from their Poole store (yet I still have to pay the £4 postage!). This leads to a whole lot of refreshing the page at 8-9am when there’s something specific I’m after! Anyway, I didn’t manage to grab a Yummy Yummy Yummy shower gel when they were available, but was able to buy from a lovely seller via Instagram. And I’m so glad I did! It’s a real love-it-or-hate-it kind of product, with the scent of real fresh strawberries (no synthetic fragrances here) and added oils including almond oil to moisturise the skin. The scent does linger, which I love because it smells divine! Truly worthy of the name – I’ve been using this in the shower every single day.

3. Lush Kitchen ‘American Cream’ Body Lotion (currently unavailable) – Another Lush Kitchen favourite, who would have guessed?! And again, I totally missed out first time round but managed to grab one on Ebay. And, like any brilliant limited edition product, I’m devastated this isn’t permanent! It just smells amazing – the exact same scent as the much-loved hair conditioner of the same name, a distinctive & unique vanilla, sage and strawberry. Delicious! I wish I had enough to smother myself in this every single day, it’s one of my all-time favourite Lush scents.

4. Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 (from £27 via Cult Beauty) – One of those products I’d heard raves about for months, but as there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to check it out in person, I felt very much in the dark about this! So many bloggers and vloggers claimed this as a must-have, yet not explaining why it was so good! As a self-confessed fragrance addict, I felt compelled to grab one and check it out for myself. For science, you know. Okay, so it is rumoured to smell unique on everyone, working with the natural warmth and chemicals of your skin rather than just a typical perfume scent. And that it acts somewhat like pheromones to make you irresistible to potential mates..who knows! To me, it is such a gorgeous woody-floral, slightly masculine scent – not far away from the likes of MAC Turquatic or Abercrombie & Fitch’s ‘Fiernce’. Yet it is very light and far from overpowering, making it very wearable for any occasion – it fades through the day and you don’t smell it yourself, but still very much sticks around for others to pick up. And the ‘attraction’ claim?! A great marketing ploy, perhaps! Although I did wear it on a date the other day (!) which I think did go well, if I say so myself! And I struggle with non-verbal communication, but I’m pretty sure a sales assistant was flirting with me when I wore this. Or maybe it’s just me! This is my current go-to due to its gorgeous, light, wearable and compliment-inducing scent. Fragrances are so subjective and the reviews are decidedly ‘meh’, but I would approve this as a must-try for everyone!

5. Lush ‘The Greeench’ Deodorant Powder (£6.25 via Lush) – Oh winter weather, how much I dislike you! Wearing layers and long sleeves 24/7 to insulate against the icy weather means my skin can’t breathe as much as it needs to. Inevitably leading to sore underams from my regular roll-on deodorant and sweating (not the most fabulous topic but we all do it). Sore, irritated underarms are so common around this time of year since we haven’t had warm weather and sunshine in months. I solve this painful issue by applying coconut oil twice a day, with a generous dusting of this powder deodorant on top to absorb excess moisture and neutralise odours. Featuring tea tree, thyme and sage, this does smell very medicinal and straight out of the garden, yet the smell doesn’t linger on your body unless you sniff directly under your arms, so won’t interfere with your perfume. I need something more powerful in the summer, but this is a perfect all-natural choice to wear under your long sleeves in the winter weather to keep your skin happy, chemical-free and smelling good.

6. Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment (£28.15 via Escentual) – I was initially very hesitant to purchase this in December as yet another cost amongst the present-buying frenzy of Christmas. But I’m very glad I did! Sure, applying oil to oily skin might be counter-intuitive, but this is an absolute saviour for dehydrated skin in the colder weather. I was having problems with flakiness around my nose, and yet my skin was still oily. Applying 5-6 drops every evening under my night cream, I started noticing improvements in my skin texture and less excess oil after only a few days, and 2 weeks later my skin looks and feels much more even and smooth. No breakouts or reactions to my sensitive skin at all. This has made a huge difference to my dehydrated, combination skin in the harsh, cold weather and I can’t recommend it enough!

7. Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation ($36 via Sephora) – I’d picked this up in Sephora in the USA a few months ago but only got around to trying it recently! First off, I’m not typically a powder foundation person – they barely seem to show up and I really need a liquid or cream formula to cover my redness. I’m NW20 in MAC and picked up the shade Fair Honey – although labelled as for ‘peach undertones’ this shade suits me just fine. There is a specific Tarte powder brush linked on the Sephora page which the product is advised to be used with, though my regular Bobbi Brown kabuki works fine. The packaging is pretty unique – a wooden bamboo style lid with a pretty decorative design. And interestingly, rather than a traditional plastic sifter, the inner ‘mesh’ is fabric and so stretches a little when the brush is used to allow the loose powder to be dispensed without mess. A loose powder you can travel with! I have to disagree with this being full coverage, more of a light coverage which is buildable to medium, but for more relaxed and lazy days where I still want some cover, this is a perfect mess-free, fuss-free and lightweight option, like you’re not wearing makeup at all. If I’m heading out to the supermarket or on a quick errand, I buff this all over my face for lightning-quick coverage with no cleanup required. A shame Tarte is only sold on QVC in the UK (and more expensive) as I’d recommend checking this out in person!

I hope you enjoyed checking out my Favourites this month! Do you use & love any of these products? Link your latest Favourites post below & I’ll be sure to have a read!

What I Got For Christmas [Beauty Selection]

A bit late to the post-Christmas haul, but thought I’d finally get around to putting away my wonderful festive gifts and show you what I got in the process! As always, *insert I’m-not-bragging disclaimer here* – personally I love to read these particular posts so thought you might too!  A quick snap of my beauty-only gifts this year..

So pleased and grateful for EVERYTHING!

1. Lush Think Pink Box (from both my parents) – Anyone who has to buy me a gift can never go wrong with Lush! Especially in a big, beautiful pink box full of some of my favourites. This really was the best choice for me, it’s a very generously sized selection and out of all the products there is perhaps one that I won’t use, but everything else is amazing! Stuffed full of a mix of 12 full size products – bath bombs, soaps, bubble bars and lotion – plus a sample Helping Hands hand cream, this piece of the permanent gift set selection is a winner for any time of year. The big beautiful ribbon is far too lovely to undo, but at the same time I can’t wait to start using everything!

2. MAC Turquatic fragrance (from my dad) – Anyone else get separate presents from each parent, even when they’re still together? Or maybe just me?! My mum tends to buy quirky, natural and unique little boutique gifts, whilst my dad will usually just ask what you need/want and get that – both great to me! I’m about halfway through my mini size Turquatic and the bigger size is much better value for money, so hopefully I can crack into this soon! Turquatic is a really unique floral-woody-ocean scent and one that works really well for me in cooler weather. And it’s not too expensive, so definitely worth picking up the smaller size or rollerball if you’re curious!

3. Viva La Juicy fragrance (from my nan) – Another pick which was clearly chosen by me haha! As my nan is 89 and has trouble moving around, let alone getting out of the house for a bit of Christmas shopping, so she gave me a budget for a gift I’d like and she’d wrap it up herself (very sweet of her as she’s so ill at the moment and it’s a real struggle for her). I wanted to choose something special that wasn’t totally disposable and I could still keep around, but still would enjoy. I have a tiny size of Viva La Juicy I bought from WalMart in the US a couple of years ago and loved it as a fruity-floral, casual, go-to scent, so I found this giant beautiful bottle of the stuff from AllBeauty on offer for half price! Once I use up the baby size, the giant bottle will look so fabulous on my dressing table, as well as being a very wearable scent I never tire of.

4. TokyoMilk Dark Everything and Nothing (from my dad) – Last fragrance gift – are you sensing a theme here?! I’m currently going through a minor fragrance obsession and was disappointed when I fell so much in love with the mini rollerball of this scent I picked up from Sephora in the US, yet couldn’t have it sent here due to shipping restrictions. I pleaded on MakeupAlley if anyone was able to get them in the UK, and behold, someone directed me to Wild and Funk! For a reasonable price and not a giant mark up! My dad was kind enough to get it for me since I loved the rollerball scent so much, which I’m very grateful for indeed. The site even has TokyoMilk candles (which are so lovely, by the way), so I’ll definitely be checking them out again in future!

5. The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector (from my mum) – I know it’s starting to appear like my dad got me all kinds of great stuff and all my mum got me was a hand cream, but she got me some wonderful home bits and other non-beauty things as well, so it’s not one-sided at all! My mum knows this is my favourite hand cream yet I don’t shop enough in the Body Shop to take advantage of their regular offers, so she was very kind to get it for me, especially since my hands get so dry in the winter! One of my bedside table essentials I can never be without.

6. MAC Heirloom Mix Mineralize Blush in Modest (from my dad) – The white brush set in MAC’s holiday collection was sold out everywhere, so this was the only item in the holiday set I was really interested in! I swatched both Modest and Sweet Sentiment blushes at my local MAC counter, and thought Modest was more wearable for me – warmer and peachier; SS was a bit too pink and cool-toned for my liking. A stunning, wearable blush with a lovely highlighting sheen – not glittery! All the Mineralize blushes give the most beautiful dual blush-highlight effect which is why they always draw me in every time. I’m still working on finishing up my MAC Launch Away blush as I’ve recently hit pan(!), so when I use that up I’ll be giving this a go! So glad I received this!

7. NARS Virtual Domination Cheek Palette (from my dad) – The holiday palette that everyone’s been talking about! I was kicking myself for not picking up the NARS One Night Stand palette last year, so this should satisfy my NARS blush palette craving! This gorgeous palette contains a large Laguna bronzer (one I’ve been curious to try for a while) as well as Miss Liberty highlighter (shimmery pale peach-coloured highlight), Sex Fantasy (pale lavender-pink matte blush), Final Cut (matte coral-peachy blush) and Deep Throat (a cult favourite warm shimmery peach-pink). Cannot wait to start using this! My mum also got me the Digital World lip pencil set as a thank you gift a couple of months ago, which was the other main NARS holiday release this year, so I feel thoroughly spoiled and very lucky to have both!

8. Hourglass Ambient Blush Palette (from my dad) – Have I got enough blush yet?! A stunning piece I had my eye on for months. I was scared it would sell out well before Christmas like the Benefit blush set sadly did, but surprisingly it’s still available here despite being limited edition! I’ve swatched it with my fingers and it is the softest, most beautifully glowy blush formula I’ve ever tried. It really is stunning, from the colours to the packaging to the formula – well worth saving up for if you’re considering it!

That’s all I got beauty-wise for Christmas – I feel truly lucky and thankful that my family are so generous! I can’t wait to start trying out these throughout 2015 and I’m sure they’ll start popping up again in a Favourites or review post very soon! What did you get for Christmas? Let me know if you have any particular favourite gifts!

November & December Empties (And A Happy 2015!)

HAPPY LATE NEW YEAR! Hope you all had a wonderful festive season and New Year! I skipped on the December favourites because I spent the month focusing on Christmas and present-buying rather than makeup and beauty products..but be assured I will have one up at the end of the month! I have also been terrible and wanted to put together a giant Lush Haul from Boxing Day; but in a rush to make space, I threw out all the excess packaging, packed everything away and used some of it in the midst of my excitement – d’oh! I’ll be sure to put together another Lush Haul in the near future though, as I’m a little bit obsessed. As you can probably tell from this post. So yeah – I used up a whole lot of stuff and hope to downsize my product stash just a little! Curious to know what I finished up and have been loving or hating? Read on!

More empties than ever before – this bag was seriously overflowing!

Makeup

1. Urban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray [Travel Size] (£20 for full size via Debenhams) – I picked this smaller size setting spray up from Sephora over a year ago, but hadn’t actually used it til recently! It lasted a few months when used 2-4 times a week. Upon recommendation, I sprayed a few times before and after applying makeup. I didn’t notice a significant difference when I was just wearing makeup for a few hours, but definitely on long days when I’d have it on 12+ hours – it made a slight difference in reducing the shininess of my face as well as stopping my makeup ‘melting’ from excess oil. However if you have oily skin, you do need to use hydrating skincare products as no primer or setting spray will suddenly change your skin type! I’m also going to try out MAC Fix+ to see how they compare. Repurchase? Maybe.

2. Collection Pressed Powder (£1.99 via Superdrug) – As you can see, there is some left but I gave up as the broken pebbles got far too messy to work with! I don’t notice a massive difference between high end and low end pressed powders personally – just that they shouldn’t be too yellow/orange or look too ‘powdery’ on my skin. And in a mirrored compact, if I anticipate using it for travelling. This is a perfectly good budget option – an ideal shade for pale skin, nothing fancy, and does exactly what you want! My only complaint is that the packaging can be difficult to work with for travel, but other than that, this is excellent for the price. Repurchase? In the future.

3. MAC Prep & Prime [Sample] (£21 for full size via MAC Cosmetics) – This was available towards the end of last year as a GWP at MAC counters, or requesting one by mail via a certain online link – not sure if this is still available! I ended up with 3 or 4 of them in total – perfect for my travel bag! Despite being such a tiny size, it did last me a good few weeks. The consistency is more of a cream/lotion feel than a straight-up silicone primer, and it does smooth out the skin to make a noticeable difference in makeup application as well as slightly extending the longevity. Now to use up all my other primers! Repurchase? In the future.

4. ELF Mineral Eyeshadow Primer (£3.50 via ELF) – This took me around 2 years to use up – it just kept going and now it’s pretty much dried up! An excellent budget primer that keeps powder eyeshadow in place all day and longer – you can’t beat the price. Comparable to the much more expensive Urban Decay Primer Potion, although the UD version is a touch smoother and easier to blend shadows on top of. I’d say unless you’re really not bothered by the cost of your products, get this one! Repurchase? Maybe in future.

5. Collection Extreme Length Mascara in Black (£2.50 via Boots) – Not completely used up but I’d forgotten about it and it dried out! When new, this is an excellent affordable mascara for natural-looking length and volume with no clumps, flakes or smudging. Pretty much everything I want in a mascara! Repurchase? When I’ve used up my others!

6. Collection Extreme 24 Hour Felt Tip Liner in Black (£2.50 via Boots) – My favourite liner! Lasted for months before turning greyish, always gives the loveliest defined deep black line and is the easiest to apply with the felt tip end – I just can’t seem to do brush style liquid liner! I’m open to trying new products but this really is a fantastic foolproof budget option. Repurchase? Yes.

Skincare (Face)

7. Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes (£2 via Boots) – My favourite readily-available face wipes. Ok, my ultimate favourites are the classic Neutrogena ones, but they aren’t sold in the UK, so these have to do! Always the wettest, most gentle and most effective at removing makeup before a proper cleanse; my only complaint is that I don’t like the slightly textured feel of these! They are usually £3.50 (but currently on offer at Boots) so they’re more expensive than most, though they are the best out of all the drugstore wipes I’ve tried..and I’ve tried pretty much all of them! Repurchase? Yes.

8. Lush Angels On Bare Skin Cleanser (£6.75 via Lush) – One of my past favourites, but not a product I reach for as much anymore. It is a great combined cleanser/gentle exfoliant for sensitive skin, but I felt a little wasteful having to throw it out when I’d barely used half the tub after 3 months, so I stick to other products. This needs to come in a smaller pot – not sure how anyone gets through the even bigger size in time! This ultra-natural product uses kaolin to cleanse and ground almonds and lavender to gently calm and exfoliate – a must-try for sensitive skin. Repurchase? Maybe not.

9. Emu Oil Well Moisturising Eye Cream (£7.25 via Feel Unique) – After a year or so, I eventually finished this up! It is a super-gentle eye cream with hyaluronic acid and emu oil which soothes and hydrates the under-eye area without irritating in the least. Excellent for the price, as some eye creams are so expensive and burn your eyes! This is raved about by just about everyone who tries it, so I urge you to give it a go! Repurchase? Already did.

10. Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm (£5.25 via Lush) – I’ve probably had this lying around for 2 years or so – it’s long expired and I’ve recently become allergic to the peppermint oil in it anyway! I prefer stick or tube balms, as the tin or tub balms are messy and unhygienic to apply, especially whilst travelling. This did a decent job hydration-wise, but if you store the tin in a cool room it is a real struggle to get it out as it so solid! Despite having ‘honey’ in the name, it didn’t smell very honey-like to me, more like white chocolate and peppermint. A good natural balm but not the most practical. Repurchase? No.

11. Nuxe Reve de Miel (£9.50 via Feel Unique) – Another product that took me around a year to use up, but one of my favourites! This cult product is perfect for leaving on overnight and waking up with soft, hydrated lips – add a layer of Vaseline on top for even more softness. It has an unusual thick, matte texture on the lips – not one to wear during the day. Not to mention the delicious chocolate orange scent makes me crave, well, chocolate oranges. However again, the jar format means it can be unhygienic, which I don’t like! If I could have it in stick form it would be perfect. Repurchase? Already did.

12. Kleenex Shine Absorbing Sheets (discontinued) – Yet another 29p discounted pack of blotting sheets I’ve used up! These appear in my Empties posts so often you know the drill by now, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. These were kept in one of my handbags to keep my face oil-free throughout the day. Repurchase? Yes..if I find them again.

13. Lush Tea Tree Water Toner (from £4.25 via Lush) – I’d only used around half of this before I noticed it smelling less than fresh and got rid of it, but only used it during breakouts so it was already a bit expired. I don’t usually have much faith in toners, but the tea tree mixture helps heal and eliminate blemishes on oily or spot-prone skin, whilst feeling very refreshing. I learned my lesson and got a smaller bottle instead. Repurchase? Already did.

14. Mudd Original Mask (£6.99 via Amazon for larger size) – Another regular in my Empties posts! My go-to, 1-2x a week mask for sucking out dirt and impurities from my skin, without irritating it at all. It makes a real difference in keeping everything smooth and clear, especially if you suffer from blackheads. Repurchase? Yes.

15. Simple Kind To Eyes Eye Makeup Remover (£3.49 via Boots) – Despite the popularity of Simple’s cleansing wipes, this makeup remover is a bit rubbish! It doesn’t do a great job of removing mascara, but at least it doesn’t hurt the eyes. I much prefer an oil-based formula for stubborn makeup removal – I just kept this to correct my eyeliner. Repurchase? No.

16. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel (£11 via Boots) – A rare product that caters to both oily and sensitive skin! Adore that all LRP products are non-scented and wonderfully bland – what all skincare needs to be. Great for cleansing oily, spot-prone skin without drying out too much or irritating at all, but I do find this a touch drying in the winter months. Not suitable for removing eye makeup though! Repurchase? Already did.

17. St Ives Gentle Apricot Scrub (£3.99 via Tesco) – I used this all the time as a young teen, but now there are much better exfoliants on the market in my opinion. This does a fair job when you’re in need of some scrubby action, but I prefer other brands (Una Brennan!) that do a better job with less irritation. Repurchase? No.

18. The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Exfoliator (£10 via The Body Shop) – Another scrub placed firmly in the ‘meh’ category. This doesn’t irritate as it’s non-scented and very gentle on the skin, but then doesn’t do the best job at exfoliating as other products could do. Better than nothing if you’re without, but not something I’d go out to buy specifically again. However this might be ideal for anyone with ultra-sensitive skin who finds that most scrubs are too abrasive. And The Body Shop usually have some great offer on, so forget paying full price for this! Repurchase? No.

Skincare (Body)

19. Mitchell and Peach Kentish Cobnut Scrub (£36 via Mitchell and Peach) – Let me just say I didn’t purchase this myself – I don’t think any scrub is worth spending £36 on personally! My mum received this as a gift (can I have friends who gift me crazy expensive beauty products please) but said the smell reminded her of “furniture polish” so I used it up instead. I can see where she was coming from – the smell upon opening is really overwhelming! It’s a sugar scrub in oil with tiny nut pieces to exfoliate. It does do a decent job of exfoliating with the sugar/nut combo and the oil leaves skin lovely and soft, but the smell is just too much! Definitely more for someone who’s into more mature floral scents, as it was too strong for me. And even if I liked the product, it’s an easy DIY. Also the name sounds like the most English phrase ever..”Kentish Cobnut”..heh. Repurchase? No.

20. Lush Fair Trade Foot Lotion (£9.75 via Lush) – I managed to pick this up from the car boot sale for either 50p or £1 – something cheap like that! I’d tried it before years ago but wasn’t too impressed, & thought I’d give it another go. Surprise – still not impressed! Although the peppermint scent is good for making your feet smell fresh, it’s not thick and buttery enough to be that moisturising compared to my Body Shop Hemp favourite – this formula is much runnier and doesn’t do much at all to soothe and hydrate genuinely sore, dried-out feet (lovely visual for you there). And it’s a bit expensive for what it is! If I end up with another I’ll probably end up passing it on to someone else. Repurchase? No.

21. Lush Ultrabalm (£8.95 via Lush) – A product I really have had for ages! Ultrabalm is a great natural alternative to Vaseline – use on dry noses, lips, elbows and knees. Unfortunately it had long expired and the consistency had gone a bit weird. A very useful little tin if you’re strict about using all-natural products and need an all-purpose balm. For me, I prefer natural when available but rarely need it anymore, since most of my super-dry skin issues are non-existent these days. Repurchase? No.

22. Victoria’s Secret PINK Sweet & Fruity Hand & Body Cream ($8 via Victoria’s Secret USA) – An impulse buy whilst in the USA last year! I really liked the scent of this but didn’t use it much until this winter, since it’s fairly strongly scented and strong body scents in warmer weather give me a headache. The scent is described as ‘sugar berry and pink grapefruit’ – pretty much what it smells like to be! Definitely more of a young, fun scent. One of my favourite VS scents – I don’t use it much but when I feel like using a scented lotion it’s one I tend to go for. Repurchase? Already did.

Hair

23. Johnson’s Baby Powder (£1.42 via Boots) – My dry shampoo of choice! I prefer rubbing in powder to absorb excess oil at the roots rather than a spray – it’s more effective for me. If needed, I then spray Batiste through the lengths if I have critically oily hair. And yes, I always ensure it’s thoroughly rubbed in – white patches flatter no one! Repurchase? Yes.

24. Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Treatment (£12.70 via Feel Unique) – My previous favourite deep conditioning treatment, but the famous Macadamia one has really won me over lately! Although this one is still excellent. The consistency is really runny and I always find myself having to use a lot to cover all my hair so it’s not the most economical choice, but it really does make hair wonderfully soft after leaving in for 10 minutes and then rinsing out. However as mentioned, the Macadamia is my new go-to, so I’ll be using that for now! Repurchase? No.

25. Bed Head Masterpiece Hairspray (£10.19 via Amazon) – Favourite hairspray! I used to love the Tresemme Freeze Hold spray when I had shorter hair, but found it was too crunchy for longer hair, so I use this instead. It feels like you never even used hairspray – a great light to medium weightless hold. It also smells amazing – fruity and not chokingly gross like many others do! Just wish they did this in a travel size. Repurchase? Yes.

26. Tresemme Thermal Creations Volumising Mousse (£4 via Boots) – Love this mousse! A great volume boost post-blow-dry without feeling heavy or sticky, with bonus heat protection. I’m currently using up a Bed Head one which is okay but feels a bit sticky, and will definitely be going back to this. Excellent product, especially for the price. Repurchase? Yes.

27. Oribe Dry Texturising Spray (£38 via Space NK) – Much as I enjoy this product, I cannot get over the price – no can of hair product is worth £38! I bought this less than a year ago in a money off promotion so didn’t pay full price, but it is still ridiculously expensive nonetheless. It is excellent – sexy, lightweight texture and boost in a can for fluffy fresh hair. But there are other texturising sprays which are similar enough and won’t take a significant chunk out of your bank account. Repurchase? Maybe when I’m rich.

Lush Bath Bits – so many they deserve their own section this time!

28. Reindeer Rock Soap (currently unavailable) – After shunning soap bars for a long time, I’m finally embracing Lush’s ones and realising how great they are! Reindeer Rock was a special Christmas edition, a glossy cranberry shade imprinted with reindeers and silver glitter, with the divine blackcurrant Comforter scent. Dreamy! I use the bar soaps on my hands instead of in the shower, and find they are gentle and non-drying – ideal for winter. Repurchase? Yes, when possible.

29. Cinders Bath Bomb (currently unavailable) – Another Christmas exclusive! Dropped into the bath, this smell simulates Christmas to me – warming spices, cinnamon and orange, with novelty popping candy! A must-have for Christmas, but still pleasant to use post-holdiday season. I still have a couple from gift sets as well as some sale bargains. Repurchase? Yes, when possible.

30. Candy Mountain Bubble Bar (currently unavailable) – Fruity Snow Fairy scented goodness. If you don’t like super-sweet, girly fruity scents, you won’t like this. I’m the fan for the name alone, being slightly obsessed with Charlie the Unicorn as a young’un. I cut this pink and white, glittery conical bar in half and crumble under a tap for a pink, fruity bubble bath experience. Though I’m not sure why this one is strictly limited to Christmas, as it’s not super-festive and would be a hit throughout the year! Repurchase? Yes, when available.

31. Granny Takes A Dip Bath Bomb (£3.35 via Lush) – Received as a cheeky freebie from one of my favourite Lush staff members! I wish I’d taken photos as this bath bomb is a true experience. Prepare for divine rainbow psychadelic water with a spicy citrus scent – it feels like you’re bathing in rainbows! Maybe more of a special occasion one, since you really do have to use the whole thing at once and it is a little pricey for one bath. Repurchase? Maybe.

32. Wizard Bubble Bar (currently unavailable) – Still kicking myself for not stocking up on the Halloween exclusives while they were out, and going on holiday instead! To be fair I didn’t realise this one was strictly Halloween, as Christmas and magic kind of go together, so why not keep it around?! Devastated I only got the one! I felt a bit mean slicing his head in half, but it did make the bath smell lovely – described as “juniperberry and fennel”. Repurchase? Yes, when available.

33. Dorothy Bubble Bar [x2] (£3.25 via Lush) – One of my all-time favourites from the permanent collection, but seemingly not a hit for everyone – you either love or hate it! Ylang ylang and orange flower make this bubble bath relaxing and instantly mood-boosting, with pretty blue-green water. One I always save for a bad day! Repurchase? Yes.

34. Butterbear [x2] (currently unavailable) – Pretty much the same as Butterball, another permanent favourite of mine, but smaller and in teddy bear form – so cute! The cocoa butter melts for a gorgeously decadent bathtime fragrance whilst softening and soothing dried-out winter skin. I picked up a small bag full in the Boxing Day sale as they were around £1 each and really help my skin stay moisturised in the winter! Repurchase? Yes, when available.

35. Christmas Penguin Bubble Bar (currently unavailable) – Love this adorable guy – especially when some of them turn out a bit deformed in the manufacturing process! A similar format to the Wizard bar, again I feel cruel slicing it up. A citrus-floral scent very much like that of the Olive Branch shower gel, again rather uplifting, unisex and a good suit-all scent with mountains of bubbles! Repurchase? Yes, when available.

36. Comforter Bubble Bar (£4.75 via Lush) – Anyone who knows me at all knows how much I adore the Comforter scent! Delectable fruity blackcurrant with pretty pink water and mountains of bubbles, plus one of the more economical options from Lush as you can get up to 5-6 uses from just one bar. I even purchased the Comforter perfume and shower gel from the Lush Kitchen recently, along with the freebie Comforter Fun. Obsessed? Me? Never.. Repurchase? Yes.

37. Northern Lights Bath Bomb (currently unavailable) – Again, another which got me a bit confused about season-specific products. I thought this was meant to be a Halloween/Fireworks Night release only, yet more appeared towards Christmas. Not that I’m complaining – I loved this so much I ended up also filling a little Lush carrier bag full of these on Boxing Day. I normally avoid bath bombs as they can be a little wasteful, but this can easily be broken or chopped in half without affecting the product. The scent of jasmine and ylang ylang gives a truly relaxing bathing experience, along with stunning purple waters fizzing into rainbow foam and tiny little dissolvable stars throughout – the closest you’ll get to a fireworks display in your bathroom without becoming seriously injured. Pretty and a great scent – glad I stocked up! Repurchase? Yes.

38. 13 Rabbits Bath Melt (currently unavailable) – Is it awful that I only purchased this because it had ‘rabbits’ in the name?! This was my second order from the Lush Kitchen..most likely with many more to come in future. I’d order all the time, but annoyingly it costs nearly £4 to deliver any package from Lush, even though I could technically pick it up from the Poole factory or shop, both pretty much down the road from me, but they don’t allow it! How annoying! I purchased a few of these very limited edition melts along with a Nutts massage bar, yet to try it out (but secretly waiting for someone to try it out with me haha!). A seriously unusual scent – dark chocolate and ginger! Decadent and unique. This smells delicious in the packet, but in the bath mixed with the warm water I found the ginger fragrance was a little strong for my liking and gave me a headache. However despite the overly strong fragrance and dodgy-looking brown bath water, it did moisturise my skin nicely. I’d recommend to anyone who was a fan of Lush Sonic Death Monkey shower gel. Repurchase? Probably not.

Candles

39. Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss Medium Candle (currently unavailable) – A favourite of mine – very upset this isn’t available anymore! I even tried to source it on Ebay whilst in the US, but the only one I found was $50! I’d spotted this on Ebay UK a while ago and got it for around £6 – really glad I did. This is my favourite scent to burn in the bedroom (but not like that!)- a very girly fruity-floral musk which I adore, this was very popular as a body scent when it was out as well. If anyone has another I’ll happily buy it off you! ;) My only issue is that these old-style medium candles don’t burn evenly as the wick is much too small for the jar, so a DIY foil sleeve around the outside is a must if you want to make the most of your candle. Repurchase? Yes, if possible.

40. Bath & Body Works Marshmallow Fireside 3-wick Candle ($11.25 via Bath and Body Works US) – It makes me so envious when I see how dirt cheap these candles are in the US, and then how extortionately expensive they are on Ebay UK and US import sites! Why must candles be so heavy?! But the reason why this is half-used and in a ziplock bag is because I bought it on Ebay; it arrived smashed and the seller never responded, so I got my money back and decanted what I rescued into another 3-wick candle jar! However this wasn’t a perfect solution, as near the bottom two of the wicks came loose and my candle was rendered useless, so I froze the jar, scooped the wax out with a knife and saved it to use in my new Yankee Candle large oil burner I got in the sales last week. Onto the actual scent: this is one of my essential Winter candles, instantly adding a sense of cosiness to any room. I was so put off for ages as it was described as a ‘smoky’ scent and I can’t stand cigarette smoke or too much smoke due to my asthma, but this is actually lovely with only the slightest hint – a cosy smoky vanilla that is the closest you’ll get to roasting marshmallows round a campfire without leaving the house. Repurchase? Yes, when possible.

41. Bath & Body Works Renew & Refresh Mini Candle (currently unavailable) – Despite only buying in October, this is somehow sold out/unavailable online?! As soon as I sniffed it I knew I had to get a couple of these minis, as well as a 3-wick whilst I was in the heaven that is Bath & Body Works in the US only a few months ago. Described as “jasmine, fresh air and mint”, this is the perfect candle for relaxation that isn’t too overwhelming – some scents get a bit heady for me after a while and I have to put them out, but I could have one of these burning all day and really enjoy it. Light, beautiful and genuinely refreshing! Repurchase? Yes, when possible.

Samples

42. Philosophy Amazing Grace Body Lotion (£29 for full size via Boots) – Still not a fan of the Philosophy cleanser or the lotion – it just smells like plastic to me! Nothing special and definitely not worth the price tag. Purchase? No.

43. Algenist Advanced Anti-Aging Repairing Oil (£65 for full size via Space NK) – Only a couple of uses in this sample so hard to gauge the long-term results of this face oil, but it felt lightweight, hydrating and left my skin feeling lovely and soft the next morning. However I couldn’t justify that price tag at the moment! Purchase? When I’m rich.

44. Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector (£30 for full size via Boots) – I initially thought this was an eye cream, oops! However it’s a correcting cream for the under-eye area which looks very similar to Benefit Porefessional straight out of the sachet. This was the perfect lightweight product for neutralising my dark under-eye circles on a lazy makeup day without having to cover up with heavy concealer – I was quite impressed. However £30 for a tiny tube of this is a little steep! Purchase? Maybe when I have more money.

45. Origins Modern Friction Scrub (£33 for full size via Boots) – A pricey one for a face scrub! This was way too abrasive for my sensitive skin – even with the most gentle of rubbing, it still made my face feel sore and red. Purchase? No.

46. Hourglass Illusion Tinted Moisturiser in Ivory (£45 for full size via Space NK) – More like a foundation than your typical tinted moisturiser, this provides decent coverage whilst still being lightweight. However Ivory (the 2nd lightest shade) looked a bit orange on me! Repurchase? In a different shade, when I have more money.

47. Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation in Shell (£50 for full size via Space NK) – Great coverage, lightweight and made my skin look pretty much flawless! The shade was a good match for me, but there are plenty available. Ideal for oily skin – it definitely held off the shine for as long as possible. Repurchase? Yes, when I have more money.

48. Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Face Oil (£39 for full size via Origins) – I got a couple of uses out of this, and despite the strong botanical smell, it made my skin feel so soft and hydrated the next day when worn under my night cream. Like all these samples, this is a little on the pricey side, but something I might consider after using up my current Clarins face oil as I really enjoyed it! Purchase? Maybe.

49. Origins Plantscription Youth-Renewing Night Cream (£48 for full size via Origins) – The same scent as the oil, this was a wonderful combination to wear at night to make my skin look well-rested and hydrated the next morning. However this is nothing unique and I’d probably stick with my cheaper Ren night cream which is a pretty similar consistency! Purchase? No.

Fairly sure this is my biggest Empties post yet – phew! I’m really pleased I managed to use up so much and am being more selective about what I purchase, rather than impulse buying. Fingers crossed for a more organised, selective beauty stash in 2015!

What have you used up this month? Let me know below!

November Favourites [Bumper Edition!]

Happy December! After no Favourites last month, here is a slightly bigger November Favourites with a few extra treats thrown in! With the sudden drop in temperature and chilly winter weather (but really, how damn cold does it need to be?! I’m typing this at 5pm in my dressing gown..), I’ve been enjoying a few new and exciting products that I’m sure you’ll love too!

1. Bath and Body Works Mason Jar Candle in Leaves ($12.50 via Bath & Body Works, does not ship to UK) – Really, how many times do I have to confess my undying love for Bath and Body Works, and how dearly I wish they’d sell in the UK? Maybe if I keep on they’ll have to, right?! We really are deprived. Anyway! I actually managed to get this one via Ebay auction for a fair price after totally forgetting to pick one up in the US – I’d originally smelled it in store and wasn’t keen (and to me, actual leaves just smell like dirt, so that put me off a bit), but after hearing so many raves I realised I needed Leaves in my life. It is described on the site as ‘golden nectar, red apple and spiced berries’ – it smells like a lovely, warming but definitely not overpowering spiced apple. Perfect throughout Autumn and Winter, this is a perfect go-to, suit-all home scent which isn’t limited to a single holiday like some of their other options. One to light when you come in from the chilly weather and feel right at home!

2. Superdrug Cherry & Macadamia Body Butter (£1.98 via Superdrug) – Because when the lovely Adrienne recommends such an affordable favourite, you can’t just not get it. I’m not a fan of the greasy Body Shop body butters, nor do I love the smell of most cheap scented lotions (Asda/Nspa, looking at you and your vile ‘shea butter’ one!), but decided to try it anyway since it was around 76p with my student discount and £1 of Superdrug points, as it’s currently on offer. I’m not even a big cherry fan, but this lightly textured, cherry pie scented butter sank into my skin so well and made me smell good enough to eat. I rub this all over every night after showering or bathing – it leaves my skin soft, non-greasy and smelling amazing. A wonderful surprise for the price – I’ll be sure to try out the other scents too! No wonder Adrienne loves it so much.

3. Macadamia Deep Repair Masque (£24.25 for 250ml via Feel Unique) – Thanks to the cold wet wintery weather, my hair has been feeling far from its best lately! I’d heard so many great things about this particular mask, but couldn’t quite justify spending so much on a hair product (says the girl who shelled out for Oribe Dry Texturising Spray..). I spotted it on AllBeauty where it was significantly cheaper and managed to get myself a pot for around £16, but is now sadly sold out! I’ve tried many hair masks in my time and wasn’t expecting miracles, especially as it was so hyped up, and the weird ‘curdled’ texture of the product seemed a bit gross to me. It didn’t make my hair feel anything special after washing out; but it wasn’t until I dried it that I realised how beautifully soft my hair was! No tangles or frizz – just baby soft hair, even the dry bleached ends. The next day my friend couldn’t stop touching my hair because it felt so smooth! I really hope this is a product that keeps working and not just a quick fix. Regardless, I’m currently in love with this because of how it’s transformed my hair!

4. Make Up For Ever 158 Double Ended Sculpting Brush ($53 via Sephora) – So I went a bit nuts in Sephora on my holiday. Multiple times – of course. After realising how awful my cheap Boots travel blush brush was, I decided to treat myself to this beautiful specimen. It is perfect for travelling as it is essentially 2 luxury brushes in one – a blush brush and a contour brush. As expected from such a high end brand, the quality is excellent and the bristles are wonderfully soft. It washes easily with no problems whatsoever. Since I’ve been home this has become my go-to brush for foolproof contouring – simply swipe the angled ‘wavy’ side through your bronzer and follow under your natural cheekbones, then use the ‘straight’ side to blend out. Literally foolproof. I’d tried so many contour brushes but couldn’t quite seem to get the soft & subtle yet defined look I wanted. This has made the job so much easier and is absolutely worth the money, as I’ve been using it every single day. A worthwhile investment!

5. Urban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray (£20 for full size via Debenhams) – Another Sephora purchase! I grabbed this smaller travel size for just $10, but after enjoying it so much I’ll definitely be going for the full size in the near future. I never found setting sprays to be that effective, but after a good few days up in London lately whilst wearing foundation in the cooler weather, I’ve noticed they do in fact serve a justified purpose. Spraying a few times before primer and after powder in a kind of ‘makeup sandwich’, this noticeably prolongs the wear time of my makeup on those 10 hour plus days where you don’t always have the time or facilities to keep touching up and redoing your face. As I suffer from shiny t-zone sydrome throughout the day, this doesn’t completely eliminate that problem, but certainly helps a little. And anything that helps my least favourite makeup issue is a must-have for me!

6. Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Facial Serum (£24.99 via Boots) – As this was on offer for just £16.66 earlier in the month, I had to try the must-have skincare product that everyone’s been raving about. And as I suffer with unattractive dry patches around my nose in the cold weather, I was desperate to try anything. Hyaluronic acid is in everything lately and it’s easy to see why – it’s essential for keeping dehydrated skin fully moisturised and holds many times its weight in water, etc. This product has a really unusual but pleasant jelly texture, very cooling to the skin, and absorbs immediately – it’s like my skin eats it up. I use it at night under a serum with my night cream on top, but it’s fine to use as a day serum too. After using for over a week, my skin is so much softer and smoother (I couldn’t stop touching it at first) and dry patches are completely gone. I don’t have significant enough lines to verify the smoothing/plumping claims, but my skin looks and feels much happier in general. I hope it continues to work over time! If you’re suffering from sad winter skin, you need this in your life – thank me later. I just hope the little tube lasts, as it is quite expensive.

7. Elizabeth & James White Nirvana ($75 via Sephora, does not ship to UK) – Another Sephora must-have! After a few free samples, this turned into my ‘holiday scent’ and I couldn’t get enough of it. The white peony and musk scent would not be something that I’d ever gravitate to alone, but I’d heard a lot of praise for Elizabeth & James (brainchild of celebrity entrepeneurs Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) and wanted to give these scents a try. I thought I’d prefer Black Nirvana (I’m a sucker for sandalwood and vanilla anything) yet this was the one I doused myself with each morning in my aunt’s huge Floridian bathroom – I’m sure she appreciate that! The light musky floral is so wearable and transcends the niches of season and occasion – I can’t think of when it wouldn’t be appropriate to wear, if you love it too. I’d recommend this to anyone else who loves Marc Jacobs’ Daisy and its other incarnations, as this will more than likely be your new favourite as it is quite similar, but new and different enough to warrant spending the money on. I just wish the bottle wasn’t completely opaque – I’m sure I must have used up most of it by now!

8. MAC Lip Pencil in Subculture (£12.50 via MAC Cosmetics) – Thanks to some celebrity I’ve never heard of, lip liners are a serious thing right now. I hadn’t really given them much thought previously, yet they give such a perfectly defined edge – an essential if you’re wearing a brighter colour, or something further from your natural shade. Although MAC Whirl is the must-have liner of the moment yet constantly sold out, Subculture is an excellent substitute as they are quite similar in tone. This also works work alone for a neutral beige-toned lip as well as a liner for your favourite 90s-inspired shade. My only criticism of MAC lip liners is that they can be quite dry and tug on the skin a little, but they are perhaps the most long wearing you’ll find.

9. MAC Lipstick in Velvet Teddy (£15.50 via MAC Cosmetics) – The partner to my Subculture liner. This is impossible to find in the UK again, yet I picked up two with ease from the MAC standalone store in Millenia, FL. Always one to be curious about products which are inexplicably popular, I did try this in the store and wasn’t keen at first – it looks so brown in the tube! I reluctantly bought one to take home (the US prices are excellent so why not), though as I wore it again I really started to like it..and promptly went back the next day to buy another! It doesn’t appear as a ‘woah, brown?!’ shade on the lips, more as a very wearable nude with a pinky undertone. The matte finish is ideal for winter weather and right on trend, especially partnered with Subculture or Whirl liner for a full & defined look. Velvet Teddy is absolutely worth a try if you can get your hands on it, especially if you think it probably won’t suit you.

That’s all for my November favourites! After my multiple Sephora splurges, I’m trying my best to use up my products over buying more, so stay tuned for a jam-packed Empties post at the end of the month. Hope you are enjoying the impending Christmas season; if not, it’s totally okay to hide out on the Xbox with a friend all day like I do! No shame! <3