had never used before Serenity of Beauty | Beauty, Fashion and Lifestyle Blog: December 2013

31 December 2013

REVIEW | REN Sensitive Skin Gift Set

A few months ago, my skin started to protest, my Elemis products were no longer working for me. At that point I heard nothing but positive reviews for the REN products and thought this was a perfect opportunity for me to try some of the products. I took to twitter (as you do), and so many of you lovely bloggers gave me suggestions on what best to try. I did feel a bit overwhelmed and didn't quite know what exactly to go for so I 'hot footed' it down to my local Marks and Spencer (M&S) store. The lovely beauty counter assistant was very helpful; I explained what my skin complaints were; sensitive, dry and sore, and her suggestion was this lovely Sensitive Skin Gift Set. I usually hate gift sets because there is always something I hate, or end up giving away to someone but I figured this was a good way of trialling products I had never used before.

The first thing that struck a chord with me was the lovely zip pouch etched with the REN branding. Although plain and simple, I thought this was really cute and makes for a great makeup/travel case to pop all your essentials into. If you're like me with loads of beauty bits and pieces swirling around at the bottom of your handbag, then this certainly will ensure some form of organisation is regained in your handbag. It's not huge but is spacious enough to fit your essentials. Now onto what was actually inside . . .

The contents of this gift set is as follows:
  • Omega 3 Night Repair Serum 10ml
  • Hydra-Calm Global Protection Day Cream 50ml (full size)
  • Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk 150ml (full size)
  • Frankincense Night Cream 15ml
  • Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel 3ml 
When I first opened this gift set I was pretty impressed to find amongst the samples 2 x full sized products, which I was very happy to discover. Upon inspecting what as in the gift set, I couldn't wait to start using them as they all looked so lovely. Having had time to use these products for a number of months, I thought now is the time to provide a brief rundown on each of these products and whether or not they are worth buying full size.

1. Omega 3 Night Repair Serum 10ml
(Full size price 30ml/£23.00)
When I first opened this, I'm not going to lie, I was a little taken back by the scent that this product gave off. Yes, the clue is in the title . . omega = fishy! I love fish, but I didn't expect this product to have such a potent smell of it. The main purpose of this oil-based serum is to replenish your skin at night whilst restoring the lipids leaving your complexion healthier and smoother. The directions on this product is to massage a small amount onto face and neck and rub in an upward motion until completely absorbed. When I hear ''oil'' in products, I kinda go running, but after learning that good oils are good for the skin, I decided to give this product a try. It is slightly oily, but once absorbed into the skin, it feels quite nice. Has it made my skin smoother and my complexion healthier? Not really . . Would I buy at full price? probably not. 

2. Hydra-Calm Global Protection Day Cream 50ml (full size) £27.00
 One of my skin complaints was that my skin was dry and sore, due to the harsh weather, and my aim was to find a hydrating day cream that would target those complaints. The purpose of this product is to hydrate and replenish, protect skin against the harsh elements and keep calm and soothe. OMG . .I cannot rave highly enough about this product; it seriously is amazing. The cream glides onto my skin like a dream, it smells 'freaking' fabulous and my skin is no longer sore or dry. I use a pump and a half of this product and massage thoroughly into my skin until it is absorbed. Once absorbed, my skin feels so good (and my makeup goes on soooo much better too!). Will I be purchasing? Absolutely.

3. Hydra-Calm Cleansing Milk 150ml (full size) £16.00
For years I have always used facial cleansers which are foamy/soapy as I always thought ''That's a good thing'' (little did I know. . . ). Anyway I have never used a cleansing milk before so was baffled, stumped as to how best to use this product. I used one pump which produced an ample amount of product before massaging well into my skin. After rinsing my face well, my skin felt incredibly soft and smooth in comparison to some products which often left my skin feeling taut and sore. The purpose of this product is to remove, dirt, pollution and makeup whilst leaving the skin purified, calm and soothed. Having used this for quite sometime I really do like how it leaves me skin after every facial wash. But I have noticed it has brought the blackheads I suffer with to the surface of my skin a lot quicker which makes for extracting (sorry guys!) a lot easier and less painful! Will I be purchasing? Yes.

4. Frankincense Night Cream 15ml £8.00
(Full size 50ml/£32.00)
Frankincense is a name I only hear at Christmas in the form of candles/oils, but never have I heard of it in a beauty product!!  The purpose of this night cream is to hydrate, recharge and revitalise the skin overnight leaving it looking radiant and healthy. I use a pea sized amount of product before massaging well into my skin. To be honest, although I do like the night cream and it leaves my skin feeling really nice, and my skin glowing in the morning I did find this to be ever so slightly too oily. Perhaps I am using a bit too much? but I always feel like there is too much product on my skin after use and that it can't breathe. Maybe it's just me? Will I be purchasing? Unsure . . . 

5. Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel 3ml 
(Full size 15ml/£20.00)
Not going to lie, not really a fan of products that are used under and around the eye area; makes my eyes incredibly sore. But as REN products are free from nasties, I have given this little sample of eye gel a try. The purpose of this gel is to cool and refresh around the eye area, reduce the appearance of puffiness and dark circles, and revive and brighten the eye area. I have used this a few times and to be fair it is pretty good. It's not amazing, but it does a great job of cooling the eye area especially if they are sore (tip: place item in the fridge . . even more nice and soothing!). I haven't noticed huge dramatic changes, but it is pretty good. Would I be purchasing? Probably not. 

 . . So there you have it, folks . .my little run down of the REN Sensitive Gift Set. Now you lot want to know ''How much is the set?'' . .Well I can confirm I got this all for a bargain price of £35 . . yep, £35! Taking into account the price of the full sized products, PLUS the Frankincense 15ml night cream which comes in at £8, I think this set is definitely worth the money. Some may say the REN products are expensive, but in my opinion you get what you pay for!

REN Sensitive Gift Set

Are you a fan of REN products? 

30 December 2013

REVIEW | Trendz iPhone Case

So my iPhone 4s was on the blink and seeing as it's christmas (well it's kinda finished now), I treated myself to the iPhone 5s. I like to treat my phone(s) with great care, so I always ensure I have a good sturdy case on my phone. Not going to lie because I am quite fussy and particular with what I have on my phone, it did take me a while to find a case that I was happy with. Eventually after much searching I came across this lovely polka dot case by the brand Trendz in Sainsbury's.

I have never heard of this brand, but upon first seeing the case, I was pretty impressed to see how well the product was presented in its presentation box. I assume this is to ensure it doesn't get scratched, scuffed and have people's 'paw prints' all over the case/product which is a personal bug bearer of mine! The outer packaging itself doesn't have much writing apart from the basics; the brand name, what phone the case will fit and what other products the brand produces. Upon taking the case out of the packaging I was very impressed to feel how thick and sturdy the case is. Due to its thickness and sturdiness, I did have a bit of difficulty getting the case onto my phone, but it fits flush and secure to the handset. The polka dot design, although not extravagant, is cute, easy on the eye and simple. When I visited Sainsbury's on Boxing Day there were plenty of designs to choose from, i.e. zebra/leopard print, glitter, bling bling and etc.

As sale mania has hit many stores in the UK, and I suspect around the globe, the RRP for this case in Sainsbury's was £10, but I managed to get it in the sale for £5 which is a bargain. In comparison to cases sold in the cheap stores for the same price or more, I think this is reasonable.

If you are after a reasonably priced, yet decent quality iPhone case, then I urge you to visit the Sainsbury's website as linked below or stores whilst stock lasts . . .

Trendz Polka Dot Hard Shell Case

22 December 2013

REN Skincare | Rosa Centifolia Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser

REN Skincare Rosa Centifolia Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser

A few weeks ago I came to the end of my Elemis Freshskin Exfoliating Glow face wash and although it was ok and my skin didn't protest against it, I felt like I needed something which was a bit more gritty with a bit of 'umph'. Having researched and spoken to bloggers for recommendations, I decided to give the Ren Rosa Centifolia Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser a try.

''An exfoliating cleanser formulated with microbeads of jojoba that gently yet thoroughly buff away make-up, dirt and dead skin cells to leave your skin purified, invigorated and radiant''. 
(REN, 2013)

First impressions, as with most of the REN products the labelling and packaging is pretty straight forward. Simplistic, clean with easy to read font. As the product is an exfoliator the packaging is that of a soft tube which makes for dispensing the product very easy, with its flip top lid. The product itself I quite like; it is white in colour with a consistency that is quite runny which for an exfoliator I wasn't quite expecting. And as a result if you're not careful you end up with more product than you need. I tend to use a small blob, which I rub in between my hands first before applying to my face. And for an extra deeper cleanse, with my soft bristle face, I put a small blob on the brush and gently buff into my skin.


Ingredients:  Aqua (water), hydrogenated jojoba oil, glyceryl stearate, cetearyl glucoside, cetearyl alcohol, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, phenoxyehanol, juniperus communis fruit oil, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate ,tocopherol, citric acid, limonene, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, salvia officinalis (sage) extract, rosa centifolia, flower extrac. 

I have to be quite careful in what I use on my skin, otherwise . .I get an attack of zit army! But with the ingredients that is in this product, I haven't had a break out which is an immediate winner with me. The smell of the product is really nice; very fresh and with the peppermint oil, this fragrance is very noticeable. In terms of the microbeads, some exfoliators with microbeads can be a bit harsh on the skin, but I personally find that this is just right and as I have sensitive skin I haven't had any problems with this exfoliator whatsoever. One thing I have noticed however I suffer with blackheads (yep, gross), and at every opportunity I do my very best to eject them from my skin. I have noticed since using this product, it has helped the blackheads come to the surface of my skin a lot easier which makes for the process of extracting a lot quicker and less painful.

I tend to use this exfoliator twice a week, in the morning in the shower. However before using I like to splash my face with a bit of warm water, so the exfoliator is able to glide along the skin with ease. And I work with the product for a good few minutes until the microbeads start to dissolve. Once exfoliated enough, I rinse well and then splash my face with a bit cold water which I find helps to wake me up in the morning! Afterwards I notice my skin feels incredibly soft, clean, smooth, and my moisturiser thereafter glides onto my skin so much better, sinking well into the skin which for this time of year is just what I need. And what I have also noticed is my skin does not feel sore or tight after use, which some exfoliators can do to your skin.

This exfoliator however does not come in cheap . . at £15/100ml a tube it is rather pricey, hence my usage of twice a week, in the morning only! By using it in this manner, I have had my tube for 7 weeks, and I still have just under half left. So if used sparingly it can last for a considerable amount of time. 

I personally enjoy using this product; it so far has been kind to my skin, has helped bring the blackheads to the surface of my skin easier and leaves my skin feeling very smooth, fresh and glowing. I have to admit it hasn't made my skin 110% amazing, but in comparison to previous exfoliators, my skin feels a lot better and brighter after use.

Would I repurchase? Yes.

Have you tried the Rosa Centifolia Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser??


8 December 2013

Clothes Show Live 2013

Every year I try to attend the Clothes Show Live in Birmingham; it's not far from home (45/50min drive), and it's a day exercising those legs and away from the TV. I was fortune enough to be granted a Press Pass this year, and of course I got very excited at the potential opportunities that would be available to ensure I was able to make the most out of my pass. However either I missed something or completely got the wrong end of the stick but I left yesterday feeling somewhat underwhelmed from the whole experience. This year I went with the lovely Dawn from Whatdawndidinheels, who I must say is such a lovely lady. We had a good day with lots of giggles.

If you've never attended Clothes Show Live, it is basically a beauty and fashion event whereby lots of brands (i.e. Models Own, Rimmel) and boutique/independent sellers descend onto the N.E.C to sell their goods at so say cheap prices. The stalls have a variety of items to cater for everyone's different styles. Having had a browse several times yesterday a lot of the items, in particular clothing wasn't really my cup of tea and resembled that of market clothing sold at prices which you know full well isn't worth the money. That said, the beauty items however were at decent prices, although I know on the last day of the show the prices will be slashed . . dramatically! The 3 years that I have attended Clothes Show Live, I always end up leaving with bags and bags of things I have purchased, this year I left with every single penny (apart from the £10 I had to pay for parking!). But in terms of buying at the show, I left with nothing. Truthfully, I just didn't see anything I wanted and as a result, I decided to be sensible and put my saved money towards my Christian Louboutin shoe fund! 

The Clothes Show Live tickets are currently £28 (standard) +£2 booking fee, £40 (platinum) +£2 booking fee, £25 (students with NUS) +£2 booking fee. If I am being honest, although I have paid platinum prices in the past, this year I do not think it is worth £40 at all. More like £20-25, but I know running costs and etc for the 5 days is not cheap, so i guess they have to make their money....somehow!

Being part of the press, I was expecting it to be really organised, friendly, with some sort of schedule that enabled all to see exactly when would be the best opportunity to meet/greet/interview the famous faces and etc. But instead, it just seemed really disorganised, very 'hush hush' and nobody forthcoming in talking to one another. Don't get me wrong, the welcoming from the girls in the press room was friendly, but other than that, nobody really made conversation after that encounter.

Each year the main fashion theatre holds the main Clothes Show fashion show, and this year the theme is 'A Weekend in the Country'. I quite enjoy this part of the show as it's a nice mix of the fashion/models strutting their stuff down the catwalk, but it's also nice for me to watch some dancing which you all know I love. I took a ridiculous amount of pictures but have selected a few of my favourites for you all to enjoy below. And I have also uploaded a youtube video here of some footage from the show too.

Becca Dudley and Henry Holland

Becca Dudley, Thom Evans (nice body ;-p) and Henry Holland

2013 X Factor Finalists Kingsland Road

(Favourite picture; nice contemporary piece of dance art)

As previously mentioned I left the Clothes Show slightly disappointed. I am grateful for the press pass but I am feeling slightly underwhelmed by the whole experience of being granted a pass. It's definitely a good day out, with family/friends and if you're into 'celeb spotting', then this is right up your street. But in terms of shopping, if you looking for a bargain, don't bother attending in the first few days, go on the last day as that is when sellers are literally giving away things!

Will I attend the Clothes Show next year? Probably not.

Have you ever been to the Clothes Show Live? Are you planning on going this year? Would love to hear your thoughts. 

4 December 2013

What's in my Bathroom?

I've been meaning to do this blog post for quite sometime, but I've been struggling with lighting like many other bloggers have. But at the weekend the weather was good so I ensured I took full advantage. I have never really done a blog post as such delving into the depths of my bathroom as I didn't think it was that interesting. But I thought seeing as of late I have been using new products, changing routines and etc, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to blog about what's in my bathroom. So without further ado, here goes . . .

First of all, I should start off by saying I hate clutter so I popped into a local cheap shop and purchased the clear plastic storage container for a mere £1.00 . . yes, £1.00! Bargain! I thought by having this stops members of my family using my stuff (ha yes, they know not to touch anything IN the box), and it's a great way to keep that area of the window sill neat and tidy. Plus it's clear which is a great way to see what's in the container and when it need's a good clean.

1. Body - Imperial Leather shower gel 'Japanese Spa'

If I am honest, I am not too fussed as to what I use on my body, although I do like a product which is of good quality and gives a good lather. Imperial Leather is a shower gel my family and I always tend to use as it smells great and leaves the skin feeling smooth and nourished. There are loads of scents which Imperial Leather do and the majority are really pleasant. Imperial Leather has also become reasonably cheap; at £1 for a good quality product and brand, you honestly cannot go wrong.

2. Exfoliate

Exfoliating the body was a step I never use to do as a teen, as I thought my skin was 'invincible' (oh how times have changed!). But since my early 20s, I ensure exfoliating is incorporated into my shower time routine. I have used a good few body exfoliators but the 3 which I enjoy using is the Soap and Glory 'Pulp Friction', Planet Spa and Palmers 'Cocoa Body Scrub'. My favourite body scrub is the Palmers one; it smells 'freaking' amazing, but leaves my skin feeling so so smooth and soft. It is quite gritty so might be a bit too much for those with sensitive skin, but it is amazing. Pulp Friction is also pretty good too; not as gritty as Palmers but it is really good. And the Planet Spa scrub I use on my feet; nothing is more cringy that seeing crusty feet, a part of the body many people forget to pay attention to!

3. Tools. . . 

Everybody has tools in their bathroom . .and I am not referring to the building sort. A pet peeve which drives my parents up the pole is when I wash my hair, bits of hair clog the plug hole. My mum got so sick and tired of it, she purchased a cheap kitchen strainer thing and instructed me to ensure I use it everytime I wash my hair. Have to say, it was the best thing she ever suggested and purchased. My hair no longer clogs the bath and all hairs are caught in the strainer. Definitely a good investment for those who have a similar problem like myself. 

I tend to detangle my hair under running water; this prevents tangled hair which is an utter nightmare for me to sort especially when I have lots of hair regrowth. Using the wide tooth comb helps to comb through my hair with ease and it also helps to evenly distribute  conditioner from root to end. I have had this wide tooth comb for about 7/8 years, and it's still going strong. 

I use to use VEET which many of you know come with the little spatula. And of course I decided to keep one of the spatulas incase it came in handy for something. Sometimes when I am applying conditioner to my hair, I often drop a big 'dollop' in the bath, or it splashes onto the shower curtain. This spatula is great at picking up the wastage and ensuring you get the most out of your products. 

I like to multi task when in the shower especially if I am doing my hair. Once I have conditioned my hair a great way to ensure that it is out the way is using some normal salon clips. These I have had for sometime and they were great for holding the hair in place.

4. Tools. . .

And of course my tools does not stop there. I have an exfoliating brush which has massage prongs. If I am honest I only use this every so often as it can be a bit too much for my skin. But it really does get to the nitty gritty of removing the old, dead skin cells as well as massaging the skin. 

Exfoliating gloves are a love/hate product. Some people find them to be amazing others find them to be too harsh. I personally love mine, as I am able to control how much pressure I use to exfoliate my skin, and I feel like I am able to get to every took and cranny. They are also really really cheap too.

The little clear face brush my mum purchased for me. She thought it would be a good little tool to have to get the best out of my facial product, and she was right. I tend to use this every few days, and I find it gives my skin a much deeper cleanse. It helps to really work the product into the skin which I can tell instantly once I have dried my face. The bristles are quite soft which you know will be kind to your skin. And to ensure the brush doesn't harber dust, a plastic cover comes with the brush.

The Razor is pretty self explanatory .. although I have used the same product (not same razor and etc, that would be gross) for the past 10 years. I can't fault my Venus Gillette, hasn't done me any harm whatsoever. Although not photographed here I tend to use the Gilette shaving foam as well, as it's kind to my skin and doesn't bring me out in rashes and etc.

5. Face. . . 

If you follow me on twitter you, will know that I am constantly battling with my skin. I hold my hands up, my skin is not amazing, but it's not horrendous. I am forever always on the look out for products that are able to cater for my needs without drying out my skin and giving me more problems. I was using the Manuka Doctor Foaming Cleanser which started off great but after a while started to irritate my skin. Since starting my blog I have discovered brands I never heard of, brands which have certainly opened my eyes to skincare a lot more. Two brands which many people talk about in the blogging community is Origins and REN. If I'm being honest, I honestly thought these two brands were just hype, but when everyone is talking about the same brand, then you know they must be good. 

I only recently purchased the REN products, so it wouldn't be fair for me to give a thorough review now. But at a later date, I shall feedback my thoughts on the REN products I have been using. But the Origins Clear Improvements Charcoal mask I have been using for a good few years, and I absolutely love it. I will warn you, it does get messy, but my skin afterwards, feels amazing. I did blog about this product which you can read about here.

 . .So there you have it . . that concludes what's in my bathroom. 

Hope you've enjoyed this blog post.

Would love to know what's in your bathroom.

1 December 2013

The Body Shop Body Butters Almond and Vanilla Bliss

During the summer I tend to use creams which are light and absorb quickly into my skin. However when the hard, cold winter weather starts to creep in, I immediately change my body creams. My skin this time of year gets very dry (biggest pet peeve), and no matter what I use nothing seems to cure the dryness apart from the Body Shop Body Butters. I first discovered these when my mum came back one day with about 8 tubs of the Almond Body Butter. It was 'thee' most gorgeous body butter I had ever smelt and my skin felt so good; hydrated and smooth. From that day on, I knew I would be finding myself venturing into the Body Shop every Autumn/Winter. 

At the time unable to find Almond, which I think is limited edition, I managed to get my hands on the Vanilla Bliss body butter. I am quite fussy when it comes to vanilla as some are either too sickly or have hardly fragrance. But this body butter smells absolutely amazing, with Beeswax, Cocoa, Shea Butter and Brazil Nut, ensuring my body is well nourished. The body butters are all tailored for different skin needs, however this particular body butter is for hydration and is suitable for all skin types. The Body Shop claim that this body butter gives 24 hour hydration and it is exactly spot on. Once I moisturise my body in the morning, unless I have 2nd shower during the day, I don't need to moisturise again until the following day. Result.

Having a cheeky browse on the website last week, I spotted Almond Body Butter appear in the ''Customers also bought . .'' section. I immediately clicked on it to find that the Almond body butter is currently back in stock. I honestly thought my christmas and birthdays had come at once, and of course I ordered a few tubs. The Almond Body Butter, which contains Sweet Almond oil, is targeted at those with Normal/Dry skin, aiming to leave skin soft and smooth. As with Vanilla Bliss, Almond also provides 24 hour hydration, which is a god send for those who suffer with dry skin especially during the winter months.

In terms of texture and consistency, both body butters are slightly different. They are both thick in consistency and need working well into the skin. Vanilla Bliss however has a more buttery texture than Almond which is quite smooth. Both body butters leave the skin with a subtle scent lasting allday.

Price . . where do I start? Many people complain at the expense of these body butters which I agree they are a little expensive. I purchased 4 of each (yes I am stocking up), when the body shop had 40% off their entire website. If you shop smart and wait for sales, you can get yourself a bargain. Or even purchasing gift sets can save you a few £££.

Vanilla Bliss and Almond both RRP at £13/200ml each.

Words cannot express how happy I am to see these body butters back online (not sure about instore). They are incredibly moisturising and smell amazing. However it is rather annoying that both of these scents are limited edition meaning I will have to stock up!

Are you a fan of the Body Shop Body Butters?