How to buy perfume without smelling it first

Friday, 17 October 2014



Some of us don't live in big cities and our nearest beauty hall is a decent car drive away so buying things like perfume, which is a very personal and individual thing, can be difficult without making that trip out in the car. I've bought a few perfumes online now without trying them first but it can be quite worrying at first, especially if you're spending over £20 on something which you've never smelt in your life!

Basically, you'll probably notice that there are some keywords which are used when describing perfume; 'fresh', 'floral', 'fruity' and 'oriental' are all common words used by brands and shops to describe scents. Generally people tend to favour certain types and I now know which keywords to look for when choosing perfume and which ones to avoid.

I really aren't keen on 'fresh' perfumes (Davidoff Coolwater) and I also don't tend to go for overly floral perfumes like Marc Jacobs Daisy and Chloe. I look for keywords like 'oriental' because it puts more of a musky, spicy spin on the perfume... it can also makes it a stronger scent which can be very easily recognised if you smell it on someone else. My number one perfume of all time is Jean Paul Gaultier which is a heavy floral-oriental perfume; so I look for those keywords in the descriptions of other fragrances. Perfumes with similar descriptions are Armani Code, Valentino Valentina*, Dolce & Gabbana The One and Gucci Guilty so it seems sensible for me to choose something which has a similar description.

To do this yourself you just need to do is look at the perfumes on your dressing table and have a quick google to see what the keywords are used when they're described then have a browse on some different perfume websites (as they all have their own ways of categorising perfumes) and you should find something that's perfect for you without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Do you prefer fresh or oriental scents?

Rhodes 2014

Sunday, 12 October 2014

So I lied a little in my previous blog post title and made out I was going to Jamaica, but this time I actually have been to Rhodes; Not as exotic or as far away as a Caribbean Island but every bit as enjoyable. We went at the end of the season (1st October - 8th October) so it was quieter than normal but most things were still open and the weather was still gorgeous (between 24 and 29 degrees all week!). We stayed in a hotel called Sentido Port Royal Villas and Spa which was in the small, lesser known resort of Kolymbia (also spelt Kolimbia); the hotel was like nothing I've ever seen before...




It had 2 pools, 3 restaurants and the rooms were arranged in blocks rather than just being one big block of balconies which really set it apart from other hotels. We had a standard pool view room but the view was still amazing (first photo is the view from the balcony) and the room was amazingly spacious with a massive bed, sofa, flatscreen TV and mini bar. 


View from the back balcony (was a tad windy that evening!)

The only thing about the hotel was that the evening entertainment wasn't great and drinks were very expensive if you weren't all inclusive (we were half board) so we tended to venture out every night or stay in our room and watch films (might sound sad but we don't really get to watch TV and films at home because we work a lot so it's a luxury to just be able to relax in front of the tele). We hired a car for 3 days which was a very reasonable 100 euros and used it to travel to neighbouring resorts. One night we went to a Greek night in at the 'Cannon Bar' in Falaraki; our friends stay there every time they go to Rhodes so we thought we'd pay a visit to see what all the fuss was about...




The owner, George, was grilling fresh octopus caught that morning served with garlic bread and there was lots of shouting and singing coming from his direction. As the night progressed (and the carafes of wine were flowing on my table!) the plate smashing and Greek dancing started which was really fun to watch and George really made an effort to try and get everyone involved. I'd highly recommend a visit to the Cannon Bar if you're around Falaraki; it happens every Saturday night at 9pm.

We also took a trip to Rhodes Town in the hire car (the driving there really does leave something to be desired; safety is not on their list of priorities!!!) and we explored the old walled town for a while and also paid a visit to Sephora (what I want to know is why Greece can have a Sephora and we can't?!)






Rhodes Town although busy, is a really beautiful place and the old walled town really does take you back in years to how life used to be there with the maze-like streets and old medieval buildings. If I was to go to Rhodes again I'd probably be quite tempted to stay in a Boutique hotel in Rhodes Town... it has the hustle and bustle of the city but with a Greek touch. 


And then of course, the main reason why I love any Greek island... the food! I love pitta breads and taramasalata and tzatziki dips, I could literally eat them until they come out of my ears! 

Have you visited a Greek island? 

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Woah, We're going to Jamaica

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Totally Tropical went to Barbados, the Vengaboys went to Ibiza and I'm going to Jamaica!!

Ok... I'm maybe not lucky enough to actually be going to Jamaica but I've been making some cocktails to get me into the holiday mood! Cocktails are known for being free flowing abroad, especially in the Caribbean and the taste always reminds me of being somewhere just a little warmer than the UK.

Every country seems to have their signature cocktails; Cuba has the Mojito (one of my favourites), in Barbados is the Rum Runner and one of the signature Jamaican cocktails is Planters Punch. Virgin Holidays have created these great cocktail masterclass videos and kindly sent me a cocktail kit, challenging me to make my very own Planters Punch with a few extra treats from the Caribbean Island to try...




I had a bit of a Jamaican themed night in the pub last saturday when I got out packets of plantain crisps and unleashed the cocktail shaker. Plantain is a traditional Jamaican snack which is similar to our crisps, it's similar to dried banana but in savoury form; it sounds a lot weirder than it tastes because I can tell you now they're very easy to just keep eating and eating... and it's the closest thing you're going to get to banana without being banana so it's a fruit... right??? Anyway I got on with making the Planters punch and actually made some so everyone could have a try, it was incredibly easy to make and doesn't include loads of expensive ingredients; here's how it's done...

Ingredients: 
25ml Jamaican Overproof Rum
50ml fruit juice (I used orange)
Dash of cane syrup
Squeeze of lemon and lime

- Grab a tall glass and fill it with ice
- Pour the rum and fruit juice in (at the same time if you're feeling adventurous)
- Finish with a dash of cane syrup and a squeeze of lemon and lime
- Garnish with a slice of fruit (orange, pineapple... whatever you have)

So simple yet so tasty (and quite strong so be careful!) and you could use any fruit juice you have laying around in your fridge and I'm sure that regular rum would work just as well (and it wouldn't pack such a punch in the alcohol content department!).

If you fancy getting in the holiday mood then here you can find lots more cocktail recipes.

What are your favourite holiday cocktails?

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Hair Removal with Skin Doctors Hair No More

Friday, 3 October 2014

Hair removal: one of the aspects of a beauty regime which seems to be largely ignored by the beauty blogging community. Although it may not be glamorous it's something that most of us do, most women have a bit of a battle with unwanted hair in various different places on their body and for many of us a life without body hair would be SO much easier.

There's quite a few options for hair removal on the market from waxing and depilating to laser removal and then there's plain old shaving with a razor and we all have our own personal preferences.   Personally, I like to go for the free option which is shaving but the hair free results don't last long and shaving every other day has become one of the burdens in my life. I recently tried the Skin Doctors hair no more hair removal system which is a kit containing depilatory (hair removal) cream and an inhibitor spray which is supposed to stunt hair growth and give you smoother skin for longer. 

Skin Doctors hair no more hair removal system £11.99 Direct Cosmetics

The application is very much like any other hair removal cream in that you smooth a thick layer over the skin and leave it to work for around 6-8 minutes depending on how thick/coarse your hair is; my hair is naturally quite soft and fairly light on my legs so 6 minutes was enough for me. The process with hair removal creams can sometimes be a bit messy and smelly but I was pleasantly surprised by this one; I applied it with the spatula like it said in the instructions which made things SO much easier because there was no mess on my hands at all and although it does have a slight smell to it, it doesn't stink the whole house out so thumbs up so far!

When it came to taking it off after 6 minutes I used the spatula again to scrape it off going against the grain (it doesn't specify which way you should do it, I just found this was a cleaner finish) and rinsed it in a sink of water after every 'strip'. Yes it does make a mess of the sink and it does take some getting down the plug hole, in hindsight maybe it would be better to put it into a plastic bag and then into a bin. Overall it was totally painless and fairly easy to do but I was left with a bit of residue on my legs which felt weird so I had to go and shower of any remaining product and I could finally feel how smooth my calves were. I would say that the initial finish was better than shaving because I didn't miss any hairs which I sometimes do when shaving. 

The next step to this system is to spray the inhibitor in a fine mist over the area and massage it in until it has been absorbed by the skin. You then repeat this daily to help reduce hair growth. 

Results after a week: 
The hairs did grow back (as the packaging suggested they would after the first application) but they were noticeably softer and a lot less prickly. You know that spiky leg stage you go through, well I never went through that after using this. The hairs also seemed lighter and less coarse which is obviously a good thing. 

If you're willing to persevere with this over a period of several applications then I reckon it could be a really good product; nobody should expect miracles from a depilation product like this so to expect it to eradicate all signs of hair after one application is simply unreasonable. 

What's your favourite method of hair removal?

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A 'small change' purchase

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The worst part about reading blogs is seeing products that I want but simply can't afford... talk about dangling a carrot! I know that lots of you are in the exact same position as me so today I'm bringing you something which you should be able to go buy without any guilt or real damage to your bank account, I like to call it a 'small change' purchase; one which you could probably buy with the money you find lying around your house/car/old coats and bags...

Powder Brush £4 Wilko

Wilkinsons (or 'Wilko') isn't a place you'd expect to find some decent beauty tools/products but since the recent launch of Essence and Wilko's very own tool line, things are looking up for the high street chain. It looks like they might have taken a little bit of design inspiration from another high street makeup brand launched by two very popular makeup artist turned Youtubers with the sleek black handle and bronze colour block handle and the quality of the brush is certainly one of the best I've ever seen, especially for the money. 

As you can see the brush is very dense, with hues of red running through the black bristles creating a kind of ombre effect. It is so incredibly soft, like so soft I could just sit and stroke it (at the risk of looking a little bit weird). The large surface area means that you get plenty of product on and it makes powder application an absolute doddle; I've only used this with a pressed powder but you could use it with a loose powder and I would imagine the results are just as good. I compared this to the Real Techniques powder brush and I do think the handle is slightly more ergonomic than this one but the bristles on the Wilko brush are much softer.

So what I'm basically trying to say is that you need to get yourself to a Wilko's store or have a look on their website. Even if you don't need a brush, you need to see how soft these are!
Have you seen Wilko brushes yet?

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How the La Roche Posay Effaclar Anti-Blemish System worked for me

Monday, 29 September 2014

I started using this at the end of August so I think after 4 weeks I've used it long enough to know how it's working for me. I did a post about it here but just to recap it's a 3 step kit consisting of a foaming gel cleanser, clarifying toner and a corrective serum type product. As you'll all probably know, I've been battling with acne and blemishes since I was 13 and although my skin has cleared up considerably I still get the odd 'attack' and at the time of starting to use this my skin was having a meltdown so it was the perfect time to put something like this to the test...

La Roche Posay Effaclar 3 Step Anti-Blemish System £32.50 Boots

Did it help to reduce blemishes?

I'll start by saying that I have been using this through two 'cycles' so therefore I should have technically had two menstrual breakouts on my chin within this time. However, I have actually only had one spot which was anything to shout about which is VERY good for me. The only thing it hasn't helped with is blackheads, they unfortunately remain unchanged and still continue to plague my nose. tsk.


Did it improve the appearance of your skin?

I used to have quite a bit of redness from acne scarring and I think this has improved, I could now get away with a lighter foundation if I wanted to as it doesn't take as much to give an even colour all over my face. The reduction in excess oil was also noticeable without drying my skin out which is a refreshing change because some products which claim to reduce oil will strip your skin within an inch of it's life!


What did you think of the individual products?

Foaming Gel Cleanser: I'm not a fan of foaming cleansers and I have to admit that my opinion hasn't really changed because using this meant that I had to use a separate eye makeup remover (I'm all about the quick and easy cleanse) and although my skin did feel clean when I used this I couldn't help but go back to my old favourite Bee Good Cream Cleanser for my night cleanse. However, I decided to use this just for my morning cleanse as I never need to remove eye makeup in the morning and I think it really contributes massively to the reduction of oil on my face. 


Clarifying Toner: I really, really like this. Toner was always the step I tended to skip in any skincare regime but I forced myself to remember to use this while I was trying out this kit; it's clarifying but not drying and it does do a great job of removing any residual cleanser or grime from your face. Lots of blemish fighting toners on the market are full of alcohol which can strip your face of natural oils which can then make it over produce oil (ain't nobody got time for that!!).


Effaclar Duo +: This has been the main game changer for me, I've been using it as a primer after moisturiser and I really love it. It is absorbed instantly by my skin without leaving it feeling tight, and although it doesn't fill your pores (like some primers do) it does give you a great base for your makeup to stick to.


What were your overall thoughts of the kit?

I think kits like this are all about making them work for you and I would say that if you struggle with blemishes and problem skin then you would find a way to make each of these products work in your favour. Although I don't use the cleanser morning and night as the instructions suggest you should, it works much better for me just as a morning cleanse. At £32.50 for a full skincare system I don't think you can go far wrong with this and you also can't buy the toner separately which for me is a reason to buy this kit in itself! 

If you are struggling with your skin and you're at the end of your tether thinking you've tried everything then I really do recommend La Roche Posay; it's gentle yet effective stuff and it doesn't break the bank.

Have you tried any La Roche Posay products?

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Discover a New Blogger #4

Saturday, 27 September 2014


Written by Yaya, a Mexican-American expat living in the UK, My Dreamality is a collective blog of all the things Yaya gets upto in her life. With her clear photography and quirky 'expat musings' posts (see about her post about the English Obsession with Chips... so true!) this blog brings something different every time there's a new post so it's always fresh and never same old, same old which is very refreshing!



I first found Maddie's blog by watching her Youtube channel (one of the very few which I watch every time there's a new video!) and I was impressed with how down to earth she was. I really love blogs where you can tell the person is totally real; I know we all try and perceive that we live the perfect life but the truth is that we often don't! Her recent post about an oddly named Topshop blush really made me laugh and her video about when Toni & Guy ruined her hair really made me feel her pain (by the way, Maddie if you're reading this, you really should have gone back and kicked up so much more of a fuss!). 



If you love high street fashion then you will definitely love this blog. Alice's 'Fashion under £50' posts are amazing for finding the latest bargains on the high street; in each of these posts she does a series of outfits which are all under £50 which is great if you like to live on a budget because there's generally something for every occasion. This isn't just a fashion blog though, there are also baking posts, music and beauty thrown in there too but it was definitely the fashion under £50 posts which caught my eye! Finding a blog which features stuff I can actually afford always pleases me :)


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