Yearly Archives


Beauty, Beauty Reviews, Skincare

nspa Beauty Box | Review

December 31, 2013

nspa beauty box

nspa are a brand I’ve heard a lot about recently (all good things!) and after hunting for a cruelty free skincare regime I decided now was the perfect time to put nspa to the test.

Their products are exclusive to ASDA which makes them pretty accessible, if you can’t get to an ASDA though you can order from the Nirvana Spa website.

I picked up their Beauty Box which contains: Melting Cleansing Gel, Hot Cloth Polish (with a muslin cloth), Illuminating Beauty Serum and their Brightening Day Cream.

On the side of the box it states that it is paraben free and that they are against animal testing. A quick search on their website shows their products are dermatologically approved and suitable for all skin types.

As you can see from the images their bottles are labelled 1 to 4 which I adore because I love order. They do sell other products, which are also numbered, so you can develop a skincare to suit you.

nspa Melting Cleansing Gel

Step 1 – Melting Cleansing Gel: The first step in the process is to cleanse your skin, get rid of any dirt, impurities or makeup. I’ve tested this on a full face of makeup and it does a great job, I’m not willing to rub it on my eyes though.

You apply this to your dry face and rub it in and then wet your hands and it turns into a ‘milk’. I’m rubbish at describing scents but to me it just smells lovely, warm and a little bit like pepper.

nspa Hot Cloth Polish

Step 2 – Hot Cloth Polish: The second stage is to exfoliate your skin with the Hot Cloth Polish. I’ve used Sanctuary Spa’s hot cloth polish and that process is a bit longer than nspa’s and I also find my face prefers nspa’s offering as using Sanctuary’s every day makes me break out.

As with the Melting Cleansing Gel this smells lovely and relaxing.

nspa Illuminating Beauty Serum

Step 3 – Illuminating Beauty Serum: I’ve never used a beauty serum before so I was excited to try something new. The idea behind the serum is to condition your skin and you simply rub this on your face and let it soak in for a few minutes before moisturising.

I didn’t know what to expect when I used this, but it actually does make your skin glow. The serum is a pearlescent white which explains why it makes your skin glow, it even seems to make it glow when you apply makeup over the top.

nspa Illuminating Day Cream

Step 4 – Brightening Day Cream with SPF 15: The last stage is of course to moisturise your skin and I’m so happy this contains SPF 15 as I’m pretty pale so it’s something I always look for in skincare products.

It absorbs into the skin quickly and doesn’t leave my face feeling shiny or oily like some moisturisers do.

The Beauty Box was £8 on offer from ASDA, but I believe it’s £10 the rest of the time. The products are not full size but for £10 I think that’s a good price to pay for trying out a new range and an entirely new skincare regime.

I’ve been following this regime for a few days now both night and day and I can honestly say my skin has never looked better. Though it may sound odd to some, it’s making me feel more confident about my skin and happier about wearing less foundation which is always nice. nspa, I’m officially sold.

Is this product tested on animals? No! On their website nspa say ‘NSPA is against animal testing. None of our products or raw materials have been tested on animals.’.

Would I repurchase? Absolutely. Once I have used these up I will return to buy fullsize bottles and maybe even try out some of their other products.

Have you tried anything by nspa? 

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Books, Dystopian, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Best books of 2013

December 28, 2013

With just a few days left of 2013, I thought it was time to do a bit of reflecting (in a Santa hat of course) on the best books I’ve read this year. 

Books mentioned in this video:

daynight – Megan Thomason: my review

arbitrate – Megan Thomason: my review

Legend – Marie Lu: my review

The Selection – Kiera Cass: my review

Divergent – Veronica Roth: I’m sure I reviewed this but I can’t find it!

The White Queen – Philippa Gregory: my review

What are the best books you’ve read this year?

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Book Reviews, Books, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult

Matched – Ally Condie | Book Review

December 28, 2013

Matched - Ally Condie

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate… until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

This is another one of those books that has been on my to be read list for a long time and by the time I finally bought it I’d kind of forgotten what it was about. 

The Society Cassia lives in is incredibly controlling, but of course it’s all for the good of the people, to make sure they live long and happy lives without illness.

At the age of 17 those who want to marry and have a family are matched to someone of the opposite sex, but Cassia see’s two faces. The Officials tell Cassia that it’s a glitch and that the first face, the face of Xander, is the boy she’s destined to be with but before long she finds herself falling for ‘the other guy’ and doubting the Society and the Officials.

The idea of this book and the Society really interested me but I don’t think the Society was evil enough. In most dystopian novels we get a good understanding of why the Society / government are wrong but I don’t think I felt Cassia’s frustration enough.

She was annoyed that they didn’t have any choice and everything was predetermined but I didn’t find myself drawn in or understand exactly what they were going through. It just seemed a bit boring if I’m completely honest.

Towards the end Matched did pick up and get very interesting, I won’t say anymore though as I’m not going to spoil it, and that did make up for the other two thirds of the book which were a bit slow.

As you can probably tell Matched involves a big ol’ love triangle but I didn’t feel we got to know Xander enough. For a love triangle to work and draw me in I need to like and know both choices.

Apart from Ky and Cassia, who grows throughout the book, most of the characters are fairly flat and uninteresting. I hope that was intentional and was supposed to show that if we were denied of choice we’d all be pretty similar and uninteresting.

I also struggled with the ‘sorting’ thing. What was Cassia supposed to be sorting? I don’t understand! WHAT IS SHE SORTING? Why is it a job? Why is it important? EXPLAIN! (Someone please explain it if you know.)

Matched is part of a trilogy and for me it’s important that all books that are part of a series stand up on their own and this doesn’t. There isn’t a huge climax, I felt it was just setting up for the second book, Crossed, so I have to say it doesn’t stand up on it’s own.

Despite that, I will pick up Crossed out of curiosity to find out what’s next and because I hope, I really hope, that Matched was just setting up for Crossed.

2.5 out of 5

Have you read Matched? 

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Beauty, Beauty Reviews, Cruelty Free, Shower Gel, Skincare

Soap & Glory Clean On Me Shower Gel | Review

December 27, 2013

Soap & Glory Clean On Me

Soap & Glory Clean On Me Ingredients

Soap & Glory Clean On Me

A few weeks back I picked up a few Soap & Glory products, one of which was their Clean On Me creamy clarifying shower gel. 

Clean On Me comes in a pump bottle adorned with their signature tongue in cheek Soap & Glory packaging.

It lathers really well so you don’t need to use a lot of product. I’ve had this for over a month now and as you can see there’s really not a lot gone out of the bottle. I read a few reviews before buying where people said the 500ml bottle lasted them for nearly a year, so you really can’t complain about £6 for a bottle of shower gel that lasts months and months.

I think what I like most about it, other than the fantastic scent, is that it contains a body lotion so as well as making your skin feel clean it makes it feel soft and moisturised.

Earlier this year I finished off a bottle of Nivea’s In-Shower Moisturiser but I feel Soap and Glory’s offering does a better job of making your skin feel moisturised without the need to stand in the shower for three minutes trying not to wash it all off.

Is this product tested on animals? No! Hallelujah. Soap & Glory state on their website that they do not test on animals and they use ‘regularly audited manufacturing partners that uphold the ‘no animal testing’ policy’.

Their FAQs go on to state that they cannot (and nor can any manufacturer or retailer) ‘categorically state that ‘none’ of their raw materials or ingredients have –at some time in the past- been tested on animals’, which is very honest and transparent of them.

I’m very happy to hear Soap & Glory don’t test on animals as they’ve very quickly become one of my favourite brands.

Would I repurchase? Definitely, my skin always feels so soft and clean after using it that I would be silly to buy anything else.

Have you tried Clean On Me? 

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Book Reviews, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Looking For Alaska – John Green | Review

December 26, 2013
John Green Looking For AlaskaWarning: This review does contain spoilers. 

Here’s the description from GoodReads:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

I’ve wanted to read something by John Green for a while and chose an option that sounded a little less like it was going to make me cry at 2am than some of his other books.

Unfortunately this review does contain spoilers, it’s impossible for me to talk about this book and not spoil it, so if you don’t want to be spoiled I suggest you stop reading now. 

I happened across this book by accident to be completely honest. I went into WH Smiths with every intention of picking up Paper Towns and it was only when I got home that I realised I’d picked up this book.  I don’t know how I did it either. 

I was really drawn into the book by the way chapters were marked in this book. Instead of it being ‘Chapter 1’ or ‘Chapter 2’ it was marked as ‘x days before’ and counted down to the main event in the book, which pulled me in and made me want to know what we were counting down to.

Warning: Spoilers ahead so run away quickly if you don’t want to ruin it. Seriously, don’t read the next line. 

Unfortunately what he was counting down to was the death of Alaska, a girl that our main character Pudge seems to have fallen in love with despite all of her flaws.

After that point chapters begin being marked by counting days after her death as Pudge and his friends try to work out what happened to Alaska: was it a tragic accident or did she commit suicide and why was she in such a distressed state?

I don’t know how John Green did it but he made me feel for the characters without me even realising it. Before Alaska’s death I didn’t feel particularly attached to her but after she died, I felt sad that she’d died and found myself desperate to know what had happened also. It’s like he made the characters disarm me and slowly sneak their way into my feelings.

The characters were extremely well developed and were exactly the way I remember teenage boys and girls being. Though I have never been a teenage boy, I have been a teenage girl and I can definitely relate to this book.

It did contain swearing and some kinda sex scenes but if anything it would probably be unrealistic for a book about teenagers to not contain swearing or something sexual, so I didn’t feel that detracted from the book or was unnecessary.

At points the characters were a little pretentious, but weren’t we all at that age? I went to a Private School, though I wasn’t a boarding student, so this book really bought back some memories for me and made me think about my own time at school.

What I enjoyed most about this book is how much it made me think. It tackled the topic of death and what happens after we die, which kept me pondering Looking For Alaska in the days after I’d finished the book.

After finishing the book I did a bit of research on Looking For Alaska and discovered that it is partly based on true facts. John Green did go to a boarding school in Alabama and there was a student there who died under similar circumstances as Alaska did, which I think is why this book is so well written.

All in all, I loved Looking For Alaska. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did but it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read, not just this year but ever.

If you enjoy contemporary young adult novels and / or want to try something by John Green, I really think this is a good place to start.

5 out of 5

Have you read Looking For Alaska or anything else by John Green?

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Cruelty Free, Life

My New Years resolution: cruelty free

December 24, 2013

I know we haven’t quite got past Christmas yet, but I’m all excited waiting for Santa and thought I’d write a quick post about my 2014 resolution. 

Generally I don’t do resolutions, but 2014 will be different. (How many people do you think are saying that right now?) My aim for to 2014 is to start being a more ethical consumer.

It’s something I do think about while buying a product but I don’t think about it as much as I’d like, so by the end of next year I’d like it if all of my beauty, hair and body products were cruelty free.

This unfortunately means I’ll have to stop using a couple of brands I like, such as MAC, L’Oreal and Aussie. The MAC situation really annoys me because they were cruelty free and have recently started testing on animals so that they can sell their products in China.

From now on I will include a note on whether a product is tested on animals or not in every review I write. As I cannot afford to just throw away and replace products, I will undoubtedly end up reviewing some products which are tested on animals, or products produced by companies who say they haven’t tested on animals but are owned by a larger company who do test.

To help me become more ethical I’ve found a couple of useful resources that tell me which products are cruelty free which I wanted to share with you in case it’s something you’re interested in.

Go Cruelty Free

Peta’s Beauty without Bunnies

What’s your resolution for 2014?

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Life, Photography

The week in photos #9

December 23, 2013

The week in photos #9

Our Christmas cake all decorated // Christmas cards from two lovely bloggers // Fleecy Minnie Mouse onesie // A WWF 50p! // A perfect surprise on a Friday evening.

What have you been up to this week?