Friday 24 June 2016

The Highlighter You Need to Try Next


I find it so hard to recreate that natural, dewy, youthful look that you see so much on the catwalks; sometimes I think that maybe it's because I've got dry skin, but other times I'm certain it's because I'm using the wrong products.

Quite often, that dewy look isn't always down to the type of foundation used: a little highlighter goes a long way, and session stylists use a discretionary amount here and there to accentuate features in the light.

Depending on what the look demands, a high power, glittery highlighter might be used to give that super sheeny pow on cheekbones, noses and cupid's bows; however, more discrete looks can also being achieved using subtle highlighters, also known as illuminators.

IT Cosmetics Hello Light Crème Illuminator* is a great product for achieving a natural glow-from-within look. Its super silky, light texture is ideal for applying over liquid or powder foundation - and, best of all, it can be built up if you want to highlight particular areas more than others. I use this specifically on my cheekbones and cupid's bow, but I do like to brush a little bit onto my forehead and nose to bring a slight glow to my foundation.

With a light pink base, this illuminator is very cool-toned. I've tried it with both natural-looking makeup and a darker, heavier look, and it works well with both. It also works great alongside a contour!

I love the simple, clean, mirrored packaging of this product. It's a handy size, plus, the high quality mirror is so useful when you're on the go. The click-close is secure, so you won't have to worry about the compact opening and ruining your makeup bag.

If you purchase this from QVC, you'll also get an illuminator brush which is perfect to use with this product. Its pointed tip is ideal for hitting specific areas such as the bridge of your nose; however, because of its size, it's also great for covering larger areas.

*Gifted for review

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Jewellery to Rock Your World


I'm far from a magpie when it comes to jewellery; I don't like things that are too glitzy or glamorous with huge diamonds or slabs of gold hanging down (not that I could afford THAT type of jewellery anyway). No, I much prefer the understated look - I guess some of us would call it 'minimalism' - with classic details and high quality stones.

I never used to be like that. When I was a teenager, I loved huge blingy rings and statement necklaces, probably because I liked to show off. But, after working in the jewellery industry for five years (and realising that, as much as I thought otherwise, people don't like a show-off), I found that my tastes refined and I began to appreciate what I like to call 'quietly brilliant' jewellery: pieces that are well made, understated and not at all trend-led.

I also prefer pieces that are practical for my lifestyle. I'm always on the move, going from home, to the office, to press events, to dinners and back again, so I need low maintenance, secure jewellery that I don't have to worry about losing every five minutes. If it's got fiddly bits or loose/badly set stones, then I'm not even thinking about buying it.

When I got invited to try a piece from Rocks & Co, an online outlet for affordable jewellery, my initial reaction was, 'God, I'm so picky that I doubt they'll stock anything that'll fit the bill.' However, just a quick scan through their website presented a selection of over 2000 rings alone. As you can imagine, I was pleasantly surprised.

If I couldn't find one piece that I liked out of a selection of thousands, there must have been something wrong with me. Luckily, however, I fell in love with one particular ring from the moment I saw it: a beautifully unfussy 9ct Welo Opal ring

Opal is my birthstone, and my favourite stone overall. I love that it comes in so many different variations and that, in certain lights, it looks as if it's on fire, and in other lights it looks perfectly opaque and creamy white.

So, of course, this ring was the perfect choice for me. With four simple claws and no other stones, this ring is gorgeously minimalist. I also like the fact that it has a solid shank (the bit of the ring that goes round you finger) rather than a hollowed shank like I see from so many jewellery retailers; this tells me that it's high quality, sturdy and made to stand the test of time.

From a style point of view, this goes with everything in my wardrobe (another benefit of minimalist jewellery). However, I'm currently pairing it up with a black turtle neck top and pastel blue tailored trousers for a smart office look. When wearing opal rings, I like to keep my nails coated in a nice shade of nude to really emphasise the many different colours found in the stone - or you can pick a complementary colour like turquoise, off white or coral.

My other favourites from Rocks & Co include a Tanzanite and 9ct Gold Ring, Black Diamond & White Gold Earrings, and a Colour Change Fluorite Gold Pendant. What are your favourite pieces? Let me know in the comments below!


Friday 17 June 2016

Semilac UV Hybrid Gel Nail Polish

Semilac UV Hybrid by Jen Lou Meredith

You might have seen Semilac's UV Hybrid lacquers in gel nail reviews and how-to videos the internet-over, but get ready to see a lot more of this product, as Amy Childs has just become the new face of the brand in the UK.

Semilac has dominated the Polish market since its conception in 2012 - and it's easy to see why. Its quick setting and easy-to-use formula is incredibly popular with both salon professionals and at-home beauty fans; plus, its affordable polishes come in a huge range of colours, from monochromes to metallics. However, Semilac's partnership with TOWIE star Amy Childs is sure to make British beauty experts and enthusiasts more aware of the brand and its extremely high quality products.

Semilac UV Hybrid by Jen Lou Meredith

I tested out Semilac's UV Hybrid in 049 True Pink* and 138 Perfect Nude*. Semilac has so many different shades of pink, and the True Pink shade is a very bright, Malibu Barbie-style colour; Perfect Nude is as it says on the bottle - the perfect shade of nude (for my skin tone, anyway). 

Application was ridiculously easy - all I needed was patience and a steady hand, as with any nail polish, gel or not. See below for a super easy walkthrough:


 1. Shape the nail as desired, then clean any oils away with a clean piece of cotton wool and nail polish remover.

2. Apply Base for UV Hybrid to bare nail in a very thin layer. Cure for 30 seconds underneath a UV lamp. Make sure you apply all layers in an even coat across the whole nail so that the layers don't lift or chip.

3. Apply one thin coat of your chosen Semilac UV Hybrid colour, cure, then apply another thin coat and cure again.

4. Apply a thin coat of Top for UV Hybrid. Do a final cure for 30 seconds.

5. Get a clean piece of cotton wool and some isopropyl alchocol (if you don't have this, which many people may not, straight vodka works fine), and gently stroke the cotton wool across the nail from cuticle to tip to get rid of the tacky layer. Your nails will last around a week or two if you've followed this technique and depending on how much you're using your hands.

6. To remove the polish, soak cotton wool in nail polish remover, place over the nail and wrap your finger in a foil strip. Wait around 10 minutes and slide the polish off your nail using the cotton wool.

See what Semilac's up to on their social media channels:

*Gifted for review

Wednesday 15 June 2016

An Ascot Ladies Day Exclusive!!

There are two traditions in Britain that I truly hope never fade: Ascot Ladies Day (a day where I can wear the most ladylike tea dresses and truly fabulous hats without anyone batting an eyelid) and afternoon tea (one of the only meals where I can justify eating sugar on sugar and not feel bad about it). 

These two traditions might be something that we can only indulge in once in a while, but they're definitely something to be enjoyed and savoured whilst they're happening. I have my fair share of afternoon teas in a year - birthdays, anniversaries, and sometimes I make a mini afternoon tea at home if friends are coming over - and when I can't go to Ascot, I love seeing the outfits online.

If you've ever experience one or both of these activities, then you'll probably have some idea of the kind of enjoyment and nostalgia they bring to mind. 

So wouldn't it be amazing if the two were combined?

I'm not talking about something as standard as sitting down for afternoon tea at Ladies Day. That would be pretty average - and I didn't put the word 'exclusive' in the title of this post for nothing. I'm talking about wearing afternoon tea. 

Yes, really.

This doesn't mean a cake-based food fight (I couldn't bear the thought of all that cake going to waste). No, when I say 'wearing afternoon tea', I'm on about Dorset based bakery Thomas J. Fudge's afternoon tea inspired biscuit bonnet. AKA, a hat inspired by afternoon tea.

What a time to be alive!

Featuring a spread of real Florentine biscuits, arranged on a tempting table setting complete with cake stand and pale blue gingham ‘table cloth’, the hat means racegoers need not choose between a bite of afternoon tea or a flutter on the horses!

How's THAT for a showstopper?

This creation will be modelled at Ascot Ladies Day on Thursday 16th June. So if you're going this year, make sure to keep an eye out and see if you can snap a photo.

Now, if you've never had a Thomas J. Fudge's florentine, shame on you! They are possibly my favourite biscuits on Earth. Actually, no, they ARE my favourite biscuits on Earth. With a creamy chocolate base and sweet, sticky flaked almonds and sultanas on top, I salivate just thinking about them. I could easily eat a whole box, especially with a cup of English Breakfast and some neatly cut salmon and cream cheese sandwiches to top it all off. Food for thought, eh?


Monday 13 June 2016

Bodylab TastyShake Total Protein Complex

 Let's get one thing straight: if I can look anywhere near as stunning as Jennifer Lopez looks when I reach her age, I would be a very happy woman. Not because I'm vain or because I'm afraid of getting old, but because I'm pretty certain that she's an insanely happy and healthy human being.

   I'm by no means a fitness fanatic, and I truly believe that you don't need to be one to achieve a healthy body, but I do like to exercise regularly and eat well. I take a few vitamins and supplements here and there, and I've tried my fair share of protein powders, but I'm pretty impressed with J-Lo's new BodyLab range, consisting of Metabolise capsules, a 14 Day JumpStart Kit and the TastyShake Total Protein Complex in Vanilla and Raspberry Yoghurt.

   These are now available in the UK at Superdrug - and if you're quick, you can save a third on any product from the range. Also, while the deal lasts, if you spend over £15 on any diet and fitness products at Superdrug, you'll get a free shaker! (Note: I'm seriously not being paid to say this, I'm just helping you get a good deal!)

Today, I'm reviewing the TastyShake in Classic Vanilla*. This yummy, low-cal protein is designed especially for women, and contains 1g of saturated fat per 20g serving, 15g protein and 1.7g carbohydrate (plus a minimal amount of fibre, calcium and sodium). Each serving is 80 calories, so it's great for those of you who are watching your calorie intake.

   It has no added creatine, which as you might know is an osmotically active ingredient which makes your body retain water - so it's ideal for those of you aiming to lean up with a targeted exercise routine.

   The entire line is actually based on a blend of plant-based compounds. Does this mean it's organic? Well, no, it's not certified organic, but it does appear to contain some natural ingredients designed to burn fat, increase lean muscle, boost energy and support the metabolism.

   After trying this out pre-wourkout, I did feel as if I had more energy for my normal exercise routine, pushing myself slightly further with my reps. I also felt slightly less tired afterwards, which meant that I could get on with making myself a hearty, healthy dinner instead of lounging on the couch for half an hour watching TV.

   It smelled really good (as we all know, half the taste comes in the smell), and it was really nice to sip while I was cooling down. I don't like to gulp down my protein shakes like my boyfriend does, as it makes me feel really bloated afterwards.

   I would, personally, love to try the Raspberry Yoghurt flavour - so if any of you have tried this, please leave a comment below letting me know how you got on!

   If you don't like taking your TastyShake straight with water, you can mix it into shakes with other ingredients, or even healthy snacks. For this post, I created two different options for post workout protein that you can make in less than five minutes with ingredients that can be found in any healthy kitchen - enjoy!



100g oats
20g (one scoop) BodyLab TastyShake Total Protein Complex in Vanilla
180ml natural yoghurt
4 strawberries
Handful of blueberries
1 banana


1. Mix together the oats, protein powder and natural yoghurt in a bowl.

2. Slice the fruits (apart from the blueberries) and lay everything on top of the oatmeal.

3. Eat!



20g (one scoop) BodyLab TastyShake Total Protein Complex in Vanilla
180ml water
1 banana

1. Slice the banana.

2. Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend for around 30 seconds.

3. Drink!

* Gifted for review

2 Puddings That'll Make You Look Like a Dessert Hero

I'm no dessert hero, but I know who is: Mary Berry. The Queen of Puddings herself. Everybody's favourite TV cooking personality and the woman whose fabulousness and culinary prowess I aspire to attain by the time I'm 81.

It's coming to that time of year again when the scent of freshly cut grass is the first thing you notice when you step out the door, you've probably planned an afternoon with the family picking strawberries at the weekend, and the Great British Bake Off is just around the corner. Yep, these are some of my absolute favourite things about summer - not to mention endless Pimms and Wimbledon nonstop on the tele - and it makes me want to dust off my copy of Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites and bake my way through June, July and August, slowly fattening myself up for the winter ahead.

But wait, I'm not actually that great at baking... I mean, I successfully made macarons that one time, and a questionable batch of golf-themed cupcakes for my boyfriend's 21st, but I'm definitely not a dessert hero. Plus, I'm way too busy at the moment, running a blog, my own business and working as a journalist alongside it all to even think about turning on the oven to make something tasty and pretty.

Searching around the shops for something decent to pass off as my own creation, I come across Mary Berry's sharing desserts - one, a rich Belgian Chocolate Brownie Pudding*, looks like it would be perfect for a date night in, whilst the other, a Luxury Summer Fruit Pudding* appears ideal for a post-Sunday lunch sweet treat. Perfect!

With easy-to-read instructions and even a little pot of sauce for pouring, I popped the Brownie Pudding in the microwave until it was piping hot and served it up with some strawberries and rosé (of course) to eat with dear boyfriend. We demolished the whole thing, even though it could have fed five people. Gooey, rich and, above all, chocolately, this is the ideal pudding for any chocoholic. It's great for, as I said, date nights, but it's also perfect for a dessert after a family dinner with a dollop of ice cream each, or to share with friends and a good movie. I would happily repurchase.

The Luxury Summer Fruit Pudding was even easier to prepare; simply remove the packaging and tip upside down onto a plate, et voila! The strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blackcurrants create the most perfect medley of summer berries, while the summer syrup and soft white bread layers make this into a delicious treat for you and your family and friends: a tasty and tangy bite of summer to enjoy on an afternoon in the garden, wide-brimmed hat tipped back and sunglasses on, feeling a little bit like Audrey Hepburn whilst perching on a bistro seat. Ahh, summer, you do bring happiness to us all.

Now, I couldn't complete this post without a little word from Mary Berry herself, now could I? Here's what the Queen of Puddings has to say about her delicious new line, available from Tesco, Ocado and Waitrose at just £3.50 each:

1. What inspired you to create the new range of traditional puddings to share?

British Classic puddings are great for family occasions and I want to share my favourites.

2. Why do you think classic pudding recipes will always be popular?

These are the puddings that people love and remember.

3. Was there a reason that you chose to launch with the Belgian Chocolate Brownie Pudding and Luxury Summer Fruit Pudding?

I love brownies and this was a perfect excuse to make it into a pudding.  Summer is my absolute favourite and there is no reason not to have it all year round.

4. Have you always had a sweet tooth?

It's not about having a sweet tooth, I love to end a meal with something on the sweet side and these puddings are very tempting !

5. You mention that your mother was an inspiration for the new products, what was her favourite dessert and were you inspired to bake because of her?

Mum loved Bread and Butter Pudding and hers was the best.

6. How does creating a ready made dessert recipe differ from creating a recipe for a book? 

They are all very similar but I make sure that only the best ingredients are used.

7. You’ve had a very busy start to 2016, are you looking forward to what’s coming up? 

I certainly am - more Great British Bake Off, my own programme, another book, life is good!

8. Do you manage to enjoy leisurely meals with your family? 

Yes definitely, the more often, the better.

* Gifted for review
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