Wednesday, 18 January 2017

I’m sure there was a time when the sales used to last a matter of days. Nowadays the January sales seem to last a lifetime, with more and more products being added every day. I’ve really been enjoying reading about some of the bargains my favourite bloggers have nabbed, so I decided to whisk around my home and put together my own post. I’m genuinely quite bad at not buying the things I want – the term TREAT YO’SELF is practically my mantra. So normally, if I really want something – I tend to waste too much of my money buying it. That being said, there were actually a few things that I had my eye on before Christmas, that had managed to escape my grasp – it was time to rectify this!

My sales shopping consisted of two shops – Boots and SpaceNK – both of which I waited for patiently on Christmas Eve, whilst slightly merry and full of chocolate. First up was Space NK and I was delighted that so many of my favourites had been popped into the sale! One brand I’ve heard a lot about, but never tried is Chantecaille. Their fall release was named ‘Protect The Lions’ and featured so many lovely products embossed with a delicate lion design. The Lion Pride Cheek Shade had been reduced to £24 and I just couldn’t resist it’s subtle pink shimmer any longer! 

Next up is the Sun Designer Palette from By Terry, which was reduced to £32 and has been on my wish list since August.  Inside the luscious velvet pouch, you find a palette comprising of six different face hues – including bronzers, blushers and highlighters. I’ve been obsessed with By Terry all damn year, I love their lipsticks and their cream eyeshadows, so I’m damn excited to try out some of their powder products! One side of the palette features some pretty bronzing hues, whilst the other side features some pretty daring blusher shades! I think this is going to be a fantastic travel palette!

I think it’s safe to say that basically all the beauty gurus all over the UK are raving about Smith & Cult! I fell in love with one of their glitter polishes earlier this year and I felt it was time to try out one of their colour shades. ‘The Graduate’ was reduced to £9 and it’s an opaque rich taupe nail polish – I’ve been loving these hues in the last couple of months. Smith & Cult polishes are highly pigmented and they are 8-free, which means they are formulated without a lot of the common nasties! 

The last thing I picked up from SpaceNK was something quite special! I’ve really wanted to play with the Diptyque fragrances for a long time, so as soon as I saw this, I knew it was meant to be! This is the Eau De Parfum Discovery Set, which was reduced by 50% to £37. Inside the sleek black box you receive five of the signature fragrances from Diptyque – designed to allow you to discover the “luxurious olfactory universe of Diptyque”. Each of the bottles are 7.5ml and there are designed to be handbag friendly, simply finished with a silk-screen printed design. Inside the box you get Philosykos, L’Ombre dans, L’eau, Do Son, Tam Dao and Eau Duelle – I really hope they don’t leave me disappointed! 

Next up we have two goodies from Boots, once again, as soon as the sale went live I knew exactly what I’d be hunting for! First up was Essie – Essie is one of my favourite brands so I snap up any chance to get polishes at a discounted price. The Essie Cracka Colour Nail Gift Set is a super cute cracker shaped box, with four full sized Essie polishes inside. 

The last product in my haul was the Stila Star Light Star Bright Highlighting Palette, which if you follow my blog, you’ll know I was desperate to get my hands on. Inside the pretty gold palette there are three radiance-enhancing highlighters. They have a really soft texture, which just leaves a really pretty, radiant glow on your cheekbones. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to grab one of these before they sold out, so I am pretty chuffed to have this in my collection now!

I’d love to know about any beauty bargains you’ve grabbed recently! Have you tried any of these products?

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

If you ask me, there isn’t much better in life than receiving a fresh bouquet of flowers. There’s just something so special and personal about having them in your home, seeing them every day and thinking of that special someone. Having flowers in the home truly makes me a really happy person, so I was delighted when I was offered the chance to review some beautiful flowers from Blossoming Gifts

Before now I’d never heard of Blossoming Gifts, but I can safely say that they are about to become a staple in my gifting arsenal! Blossoming Gifts are an online retailer, offering a whole host of beautiful gifts for you to choose from. They have everything you could ever need, from fresh hand-tied flowers, a range of pretty personalised gifts and a whole host of different hampers and wines. All of the gifts are available for delivery the very next day, when you want to send them anywhere in London or throughout the UK. You simply hop on to the website and pick what takes your fancy – a few clicks and your gift is on it’s way! Blossoming Gifts provide next day flowers 7 days a week, the flowers are sourced from the finest flowers from our British growers where possible so that you can send the best bouquets throughout the UK.

I decided to test out the Blueberry Pancakes Bouquet*, which arrived bright and early the very next day. They arrived in a pretty cardboard box, which had been decorated with blue and white illustrations. What was really unique for me, is that the flowers were pre-wrapped and pre-arranged, I’ve seen flower services in the past where they just arrive flat in a box and you have to do all the hard work yourself! The Blossoming Gifts Bouquet arrived arranged beautifully, so all I had to do was snip off a couple of centimeters on the stems and pop them in a vase – GENIUS! 

I was really impressed at how well the flowers had travelled, they arrived in impeccable condition and they’ve spent the last 7 days looking gorgeous in my lounge! Even my boyfriend commented on how pretty they were and he can be a bit of a ‘Bah Humbug’ when it comes to flowers! The roses only took a few hours to start to open and the lilies took about 3 days to start to open up. They’ve been going strong for a total of eight days and are just starting to show signs of giving up, which is commendable. All the bouquets from Blossoming Gifts are designed to be beautiful and affordable, this bouquet would only set you back £40 and it really is exquisite. 

If you’ve fallen in love with these flowers as much as me, you’re in luck! If you’re interested in trying out Blossoming Gifts for yourself – I have good news! All my readers can save a whopping 33% off by entering ‘BGIFTS33’ at the checkout. This code will give readers 33% off all flowers other than those in the 'flowers by post' page. If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, Blossoming Gifts are also giving you the chance to win your own bunch of flowers! Blossoming Gifts are giving my readers the chance to win their very own bouquet, one lucky person will be able to pick any bouquet worth up to £35! All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. You will need to be following Hope, Freedom, Love on Bloglovin’ and you will need to supply an email address. By entering the competition you are agreeing to be signed up to Blossoming Gifts newsletter, where you will receive promotional emails. Good luck, full T&C's are below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and conditions! The giveaway prize consists of one bouquet worth up to £35 from Blossoming Gifts. At the end of the giveaway one winner will be chosen and they can pick any in stock bouquet, worth up to £35 from the website. The giveaway will be running until Monday 30th January at midnight and you can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. To be eligible to win you must be following my blog via Bloglovin and enter your email address on the Rafflecopter widget. By entering the competition you are agreeing for your email address to be used in the Blossoming Gifts Mailing List, where you will receive the Blossoming Gifts Newsletter to your inbox. There are additional entries if you follow via Twitter and Instagram, visit Facebook pages or tweet about the competition. Entry is limited to UK residents.The prize was donated by the wonderful Blossoming Gifts team for a giveaway. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

I love Spring time and I especially love Spring makeup, so this time of year is right up my street! One of my favourite brands from 2016 Pixi by Petra, has just released their latest collection for Spring Summer 2017. The new collection is actually quite big and it includes lots of lovely new products.

There are new lip balms, palettes, blushers and kabuki brushes. The new collection is available right now and I’m here to give you the low down on the bits you need to try…

The famous Endless Silky Eye Pen* (£12 here) has been released in a new matte formulation, with new shades for Spring. It’s a waterproof, pigmented pencil, which gives you great colour payoff. It means that you can just apply it once and you’re good to go. There are two new shades - Matte Khaki which is a lovely green hue and there's Matte Mulberry, which is pictured here. I’ve been using this beautiful brown purple hue close to the lash line on the eyelid and then extending it through the bottom waterline. It gives you great definition whether you’re creating a subtle smokey eye, or creating a dramatic tightline. It’s very gentle on the eye, designed for people who suffer with sensitive eyes. The addition of Vitamin E nourishes and protects the skin around the eye, whilst Mica provides natural looking luminosity. 

The Correction Concentrate* (£14 here) is another fabulous Pixi product and it’s been released in a brand new shade - Awakening Apricot. This concealer arrives in a handy pot and it’s a highly pigmented concealer, which you use for correcting the skin. It’s designed to erase dark circles and blur any fine lines around the eye. The new shade has been designed for olive skintones who need to need help neutralized discolouration. Simply tap it into the after your foundation and before your concealer – you can use it around your eyes, nose and mouth. 

The Gel Tint & Silk Gloss* (£14 here) is a new Pixi product, on one side you have a lip stain and on the other you have a gloss. The product is designed to be the perfect pair, the lip tint gives you long lasting colour and the gloss keeps your lips lusciously hydrated. You can use either of the products on their own, or layer them together to bring your lips to life. Pixi even recommend using the tint on your cheeks as a pretty rosy blusher. I have the shade SweetGloss & BerryTint which are two pretty pink/nude shades. 

I've swatched some of these lovely products for you below. As you can see the Endless Silky Eye Pen is a such a lovely purple tone and the Gel Tint & Silk Gloss is a perfect handbag essential. As I mentioned, all these pretty new products are available right now! You can pick them up in the London Pixi Boutique, the Pixi Website and at Marks & Spencer

Friday, 13 January 2017

It’s the new year and I’m not sure about everyone else, but my skin needs some serious TLC! Booster Shots were a bit of a “thing” in 2016, but they were always too expensive for me. So I was super excited to see that one of my favourite brands, Nip+Fab, have created a range of lovely Booster Shots. The Booster Shots are designed to complement any skincare routine, as you can use them to provide extra treatments to your existing products. You simply use these on their own, or mix them with your your serum or moisturiser! Nip + Fab have released four different booster shots, so there is probably a fix for everyone.

The four shots have everything you could ever need! First up there’s the Viper Venom Fix Blurring Shot (£24.95 here), which is designed to blur out your pores and smoothe out any lines. It includes Syn-Ake, soft focus powders and a tightening complex – you just pop two drops into your product to achieve flawless, silky-smooth skin. Next up we have the Bee Sting Fix Repairing Shot (£24.95 here) which is the repairing and conditioning boost for your skin. This is a lightweight, nourishing oil especially designed for repairing dry skin. Pick this shot if you have damaged or dry skin – the mix of bee venom, royal jelly and hyaluronic acid, will hydrate, condition and plump the skin. The third Booster Shot is the Kale Fix Protecting Shot (£24.95 here). The kale shot is fantastic for protecting your skin from pollution, which can really harm the skin. This one is a blend of Kale plus vitamins B5, C and E – add two drops of this oil to your skin for a boost of nourishment and defence. 

The last Booster Shot is the one I have here and it’s the Glycolic Fix Instant Radiance Shot* (£19.95). I picked this one to try as it’s just what I need at this time of year! Inside the shot you find glycolic acid (which is great for retexturing and resurfacing the skin), a blend of fruit acids (which stimulate skin cell renewal) and finally we have amino acid derivatives (which reduce the appearance of pigmentation). This Booster Shot is a fast track to radiance and luminosity. The blend of exfoliating acids help your skin to regenerate and leave you with a gorgeous, natural luminescent glow. The addition of aloe vera and allantoin, protect the skin from becoming sore after the treatment. The Booster Shot itself is actually a pretty pearlescent blue shade, which turns into a golden glow when applied to the skin.
for the skin. 

If you hadn’t guessed already, I’m in love with these Booster Shots! I love that you could own them all, simply swapping them in and out of your routine depending on your needs. I also love that you don’t need to have loads of different products, you could have a very simply routine which you just bring to life with these lovely shots! Check out the shots on the Nip & Fab website, they are celebrating the launch with loads of exciting offers throughout January! Buy the NEW Viper Venom Fix Blurring Shot before January 17th and receive the Viper Venom Night as a free gift worth £19.95! Just enter the code: VNIGHT at the checkout. Get shopping here

Thursday, 12 January 2017

I spent a lot of time last year praising the Bouclème brand – as a curly hair lady I quickly became one of the brands biggest fans! The collection by Bouclème is a revolutionary new range, designed by fellow curl sister Michele Scott-Lynch. She was fed up with the dull, lack-luster, disappointing products on the market and had a desire to a range of products that delivered healthy, frizz free curls, without using nasty and artificial ingredients. Thirty years of curl struggle inspired Michele to create Bouclème, which features curl products without using sulphate and silicone, or products that strip away moisture and weigh down the hair.

The latest product to land in the Bouclème world is the Bouclème Curl Cream*. It’s made with coconut oil, coconut fruit extract, kukui oil, shea butter and castor oil – which creates a new nourishing and moisture replenishing product. The cream is a very versatile and really does it all you need it to do, reviving lacklustre curls by injecting shine into the hair. It’s also designed to banishes frizz, leaving curls smooth and bouncy.

What I really love about this product is that it is multi-purpose, you can either apply it on wet hair as a styler or you can apply it on wet hair with the Bouclème Curl Defining Gel for a medium hold. Most importantly (in my eyes at least) is that you can also apply this product into dry hair on day two or three curls, so that you can bring them back to life again. As somebody who has searched the internet tirelessly, I can tell you it’s incredibly hair to find a product that works on both wet and dry hair! For someone who travels as much as me it’s a godsend – as I just want one product to pack that works for the whole time I’m away, rather than travelling with three different things. 

Bouclème strongly believes in the power of nature, so all of their products are created without chemical nasties. Even the preservative used is eco certified and they use fair trade products wherever possible, to ensure that farmers get their fair share! The products are also tested on curls, not animals! The Bouclème Curl Cream is available now, priced at £19 (you can buy it here)

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

If you’re a frequent reader here on Hope, Freedom, Love – you’ll know that I’m highlighter obsessed! The more highlighters I have in my collection, the happier I am (sad but true)! This means that I buy and try a lot of different highlighters, some which impress me more than others. One product that I’ve tried a lot of are cream highlighter sticks – there are a lot of these available on the high street, so I like to test them and see which ones really offer value for money. Some cream highlighters offer a subtle approach, some focus on bronzing and some are for the hard-core strobe addicts. If you fall into that last category, you need to keep reading… 

In 2016 Maybelline worked hard to bring the market budget contouring options, that honestly offered some real bang for buck. Some of them completely blew me away – namely the Contour V Sticks (read my review here) and the Bronzing Brick (read my review here). The newest kid on the block are the Maybelline Master Strobe Sticks*, aiming to bring something more iridescent to the market. The Strobe Sticks arrive in glitzy silver and black packaging, neatly finished with black lettering. The stick itself is larger than others on the market, offering a product that works well on the cheekbones. 

The Maybelline Master Strobe Sticks are available in two different shades – ‘Light’ is a more pink shade and ‘Medium’ is more of a golden shade. My personal favourite is the pink shade, as I think it’s so versatile and pretty – plus as you see by the swatches, Medium is quite orange on my skin. One stroke of the highlighter adds a pretty, dewy glow – simply tap in the colour with your cheekbones for an intense glow, or blend with a brush for something more subtle. The formula is very creamy and it includes micro-fine pearls, which give a lovely iridescent finish on the skin. I simply swipe this onto my cheekbones, down the middle of my nose and then use a brush to add highlight to the brow bone!

The Maybelline Master Strobe Sticks are just beautiful and for £6.99, I don’t think you can go wrong! Well done Maybelline! 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

2016 definitely saw the world descend into a bit of a crazy place, we all know about all the lows and to be frank I think most of us have spent an hour in front of the news in tears. On a more personal level I had a really fantastic 2016, I concurred fears, I changed jobs and I created some fantastic memories! So I thought it was incredibly important to document my highs from the year. I encourage you to do the same, because (I can't say this without sounding a bit preachy) it’s such a lovely enlightening experience!

Visiting Las Vegas
Last year I was sent to Las Vegas with work and I really didn’t want to go. In fact, if I could have paid someone to take my place I would have! Low and behold it was actually the most fantastic experience! I love being there, I loved the atmosphere and I just felt like I was in the movies the whole time. Seeing the Bellagio Fountains was weirdly emotion and I was very excited to visit my third M&M world. We stayed in The Paris Hotel, which of course has a replica Eiffel Tower and I loved walking round all the hotels! I’m actually going back to Las Vegas this year but my man is coming with me, so I can’t wait to show him the sights! 

Learning how to play Craps in San Diego 
Straight after Las Vegas we went over to San Diego for a larger conference. San Diego is a beautiful place and being by the water always makes up for the fact you’re missing home. Most the trip includes ‘death by PowerPoint’ but we had one social evening where we went to the San Diego Baseball Stadium. Whilst we were there we had a fake Casino and we were taught how to play craps! We had the best instructors who taught us the game so well and it’s so much fun! It certainly helps when luck is on your side! 

Turning 24 (and discovering cocktails)
I had a very low key birthday in 2016, but everything we did was just perfect! It started with Birthday pancakes, ended with Birthday steak and included cocktails! What else do I realistically need? This year I really fell in love with cocktails, I’ve really enjoyed experimenting and not just ordering the house Rose. 

A cultured day in London 
This year I wanted to make a conscious effort to say yes to more things! I’ve always been a bit of a home fan and my IBS makes me incredibly nervous to travel. One of my beautiful friends is always such a busy bee and she inspires me to do more with my days. I still have a long way to go, but I really enjoyed a day in London with her in March. We had a yummy breakfast, wondered around the Tate Modern and I discovered Wahaca! She taught me that even new friends will understand when you’re not feeling best – you don’t have to hide at home! I feel truly blessed to have her in my life! 

We brought a car
I’m not a car fan, I don’t even have a driving license (I know, I know). However my other half is a bit of a car nerd and he’s always dreamt of owning a BMW. We chanced nipping into the garage one random day and it turned out we could not only afford one, but we could afford a brand new one and it’s pretty damn nifty. It’s not my thing, but it made him incredibly happy and it meant the world to him.

Joining the Really Ree collective
It’s not every day that you get offered the chance to review beauty products for one of the biggest beauty blogs on the planet! This year I’ve had so much fun reviewing products for the lovely Really Ree – I get to try loads of fabulous products, write some beauty content and I get to be part of a big beauty family! Thank you Ree and Rebecca!

Seeing Adele live 
If I was to name a musical idol it would always be Adele! Her albums give me a life and they’ve got me through some pretty shitty moments. We really had to battle the online queues to get tickets in London, but on our fourth attempt we got them! It was the most magical night and I may have shed just a couple of tears! I actually have tickets to see her again this year and I feel so lucky to be going again!

Reaching 1000 followers
I am a big believer that numbers don’t make and break a blog, but reaching 1000 followers felt like a big old milestone to me! I’m forever blessed to have this blog and I’m so thankful for every reader and every brand that chooses to work with me! Thank you! 

Heading on holiday with my sister 
In May we rented an apartment with my sister and her boyfriend, speeding off to Center Parcs for a lovely week break! I’ve never had a holiday with my sister and brother-in-law but it was truly the most beautiful week. Center Parcs is one of ‘happy places’, you’re surrounded by forests and the water, which just makes me feel so calm. Getting some real quality time with my little sister is so important to me and she’s a big inspiration in my life! We really didn’t want to come home! 

Exploring our local countryside
After leaving Center Parcs I found myself really craving nature, it was a weird feeling which I’ve never had before, I just wanted to be out the house! So we jumped in the house, drove towards the water and explored! We walked along the river, took pictures of swans, ate strawberries and watched the water rafters. It was such a lovely afternoon!

Getting a new job (and being promoted twice!) 
I was deeply unhappy at work and was really craving a change! I’m one of those people who needs to enjoy getting up in the morning and I’d really lost my mojo. At the start of the year I had decided it was time for a change, but I wasn’t ready yet to leave the company that I know and love. A job came up, I applied, I got offered the job! It was a complete change of role and all I needed was someone to believe in me. I’m so happy in my new role and it’s really changed my life, my happiness and my mental state! My lovely old colleagues through me a lovely party and we all got very tipsy on Mojitos in the office, it was the exact send off I needed and I love them for it! 

A refresh in Spain
Despite the fact I picked up gastroenteritis, we had a lovely week in Spain in August. It had been a crazy year to date and I really needed a week to chill out. We rented a villa and we just chilled by the pool, ate BBQ food and swam to our hearts content. 

A day at London Zoo
I actually met my man at London Zoo and it holds such happy memories for me! Seeing the lions and penguins turns me into a big kid – it’s just so much fun! We headed to London Zoo in September with my sister and brother-in-law, again we had such a lovely day. I wish I could see the penguins every damn day!

Afternoon Tea, the London Eye and yummy food
I really enjoy working with and this year I reviewed three gift ideas for them, as part of my Christmas gifting reviews. It meant that I got to go to London with my man and experience the gifts in person! We had Afternoon Tea at the Wardolf, had a spin on the London Eye and had a four course meal at Zizzi Italian. It’s so important to take those days with your loved ones, I’ll treasure the memories and the pictures forever. 

A busy old Christmas 
My favourite Christmas’ are the ones where you stay at home in your PJs and don’t move for three weeks. This Christmas was a little bit busier than that, in fact, I didn’t spend a single day in my PJs – but I think it’s worth it! We had a lovely Christmas Day at home, boxing day with family, a fake Christmas with my sister and brother-in-law and New Years Eve with more family (we finished roughly eight bottles of fizz). I also got to reconnect with an old special friend of mine, had a Jamie’s Italian with one of my best ladies and had a pre-Christmas gift exchange with my work wives. All-in-all it was busy, but it was fun filled! 

Let me know what you’re favourite moments of the year were below, it’s so important to take a day to remember the happy moments!

Monday, 9 January 2017

I really bang on about Real Techniques here on Hope, Freedom, Love – but it’s with good reason! Not only did they bring budget friendly brushes to the high street, but the brushes perform better than a lot of high end brands – all for a fraction of the price! I love that the brand always feels current, bringing out products that we’re all desperate to get our hands on. Following the beauty trends creates huge demand and it means that people like me can try out beauty trends, without compromising paying my mortgage! This new set from Real Techniques gave me heart palpitations the very first time I spotted it… 

If you’ve never heard of Real Techniques – (where have you been?!) – you’ll be unaware that the brand was designed with top-rated YouTube beauty gurus Sam and Nic Chapman. The two qualified makeup artists have heaps of experience and were able to help Real Techniques to create a range of high-tech brushes. The brand was created to help the everyday person to reveal their inner expert! The brushes are available at two price points, offering a offers a full base line of brushes as well as the luxury collection, Bold Metals – both of which I love! The Real Techniques brushes are split into three categories, which each have their own colour coding – base, eyes and finish. All of the brushes are hand cut, which gives them a precise defined shape. They are even created with UltraPlush synthetic bristles, so they are 100% cruelty free!

The latest limited edition collection from Real Techniques is the Highlight And Glow Brush Set*. This kit includes two exclusive brushes and they are designed to give you every brush you need for creating a natural, beautiful glow. The three brushes have been designed to cater for highlighting, strobing, and bronzing – which is bang on trend. The three brushes include: the multi task brush, the targeted blending brush and the compact fan brush. 

I actually already own three of the multi task brush, it’s such a fabulous, all-rounder, which everyone needs in their collection! It features long, tapered bristles – which means it’s fantastic for bronzer or highlighter. The targeted blending brush is one of the exclusive brushes in the set! It’s densely packed, which means it’s perfect for blending liquids or creams. My favourite brush from the set is another exclusive brush and it’s the compact fan brush! First of all, how CUTE is this brush?! Secondly, it’s the brush I’ve dreamed about for years! It has dense bristles, which means you can use it to add precision glow to the smaller areas. It’s also so small that it’s handy for blending concealer around the eyes and for adding setting powder in those hard to reach places! 

The full set arrives in a panoramic case, finished in jazzy exclusive design, so that you can carry your brushes in style and stand them on the side in any location. This amazing little set is only available for a limited time (which actually started back in August) so don’t miss your chance to grab it from Boots, priced at £20
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