Thank You 2014

Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Happy New Year's Eve! As we celebrate the end of a year, often packed up with as many ups as downs, and prepare for a new year, often armed with resolutions of how we're going to make the new year bigger and better, it's also good to look back at what we are thankful for.

Thank you 2014 for:

...being the year I finally started blogging because I have been enjoying every moment since and look forward to where blogging will take me. 

....being the year I discovered the power of personal development seriously and grew more confident and happy in myself as a result.

....being the year that I failed some of my classes so that I could learn the valuable lesson that a setback is just that - a setback and not the end of the world. In fact, it's often an opportunity in disguise.

.... being the year that I grew closer to my family and friends.

...being another year of my life.

Books That Marked My 2014

Monday, 29 December 2014


I feel like this year has gone insanely quickly, especially these past couple of months! But as we say goodbye to the last of 2014, it's a good time to reflect, and in today's post I look at the books that marked my year in some way.


I did not want to read this book. I have a love/hate relationship with Lena Dunham (though I suspect it might have something to do with being unable to differentiate her from her character Hannah from Girls) and reading this book - out of sheer curiosity might I add - did not settle anything for me. I'm still not sure whether I like her, or even if I like this book at all (there were moments where I physically cringed) but it taught me something, and I can't hate on a book that teaches me something. Not That Kind of Girl taught me that it is okay to be unapologetically you. Lena Dunham is unapologetically herself in this and that is something to be admired.

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso 

I feel like this is one of those books that is on every female creatives 'must reads' list. I was swept up in the hype of the #GIRLBOSS movement and I am happy I did. It's just one of those books that if you read it at the right moment, it spurs you and makes you feel like you can conquer the world - and that you will. The story of how she founded Nasty Gal and the nuggets of wisdoms peppered within are what spurred me to stop wishing about starting a blog and just do it. 

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield 

This was on my Amazon Wishlist for ages before I finally cracked and bought it to see if it lived up to its Amazon reviews. I was disappointed. At least after the first read; it was shorter than expected and I didn't feel particularly inspired to go out and 'fight the Resistance'. However, over the next couple of days after reading it, I started spotting patterns in my behaviour that Pressfield highlights as obstacles to creativity. When I read it a second time, I found I made good use of my Kindle highlight feature, and now reach for it every time I feel the creeping tendrils of 'writer's block' or other creative blocks. 

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This is another book that I'd heard a lot about, and I thought 'why not' before adding it to my car. I have not looked back since I first read it about six weeks ago. It's one of those books that you either get or you don't, depending at what point you are in your personal journey, and if you get it you have a 'mind blown' moment. I feel like if I had read this book a year ago I would have been like 'What is this old man from an other era talking about? How is this stuff from the Great Depression applicable to me?' but at stage I'm at, I can see the 'secret' he's getting at. This books lays down the basic principles to success and leaves it up to you to figure out how to set them into place in yrur own life, and I love that.

What books marked your year? 

Things I Learnt From My Unofficial Blogmas

Thursday, 25 December 2014


Merry Christmas! I hope you had a lovely day, however you celebrate the day. As I'm sat in festive pyjamas, admiring my gifts from Santa and recovering from the festivities (eating your body weight in food does tend to affect mobility), I'm also reflecting on how my unofficial blogmas went and what lessons I can learn from it. For those who are unfamiliar with it, blogmas, similar to vlogmas over on Youtube though perhaps not as popular, is where you blog every day in December on the run up to Christmas. However, since I wasn't sure whether I would manage it, I didn't announce my intentions and so consider it to have been more of an "unofficial Blogmas". 

Here are some of the things I learn; 

Blogging every day is hard...and very easy to give up on.


I have a newfound admiration for bloggers who blog every day (especially those who also juggle it with a full-time job). It's hard enough to blog 3-4 times a week, let alone finding time to write posts for every day of the week, capture and edit the accompanying photos, publish (or schedule) the posts and then share them on your social media platforms. It is much easier to give into the snooze button, procrastination and promise yourself that you'll update your blog another day.

There is much more to blogging than content.


Of course content is important as it's what usually keeps readers in your blog, but it's not the only thing that makes a blog. I realised that the appearance of your blog is important, such as your layout and the images that accompany your posts, especially if you're a beauty or lifestyle blogger. Social media in some shape or form has also became vital for sharing your content, but mostly so you can also interact with other bloggers. Other than social media, reading other blogs, leaving comments and gaining inspiration comes with being blogger, and despite how hard we might wish it (and try), we can't do all these things at the same time. So it's pretty difficult to find the time. Every day. 

It often feels like a juggling act. Planning is key. 


We have a set number of hours to get everything done in a day, and it's surprisingly difficult to maximise those hours, especially if you're not blessed with natural organisational skills. Luckily I've recently started actively improving my organisational skills and so found a way to plan all the posts for the month. At the beginning of the week I'd review them and write out a checklist of pictures that needed taking, and then do a quick daily to-do list so that I was always reminded to blog at some point. I don't think I'd have managed blogmas without planning. 

You can't always make make blogging a priority. You, on the other hand, are always a priority.


It's very easy to put pressure on yourself, especially when you're passionate about something and want to do well. There were two days where I didn't post anything because I wasn't feeling well, and it took quite a bit of self-comfort to remind myself that it wasn't the end of the world. There are some days where you just can't blog for a multitude of reasons, and that is absolutely okay. 

Blogging is worth every bit of effort.


Blogging every day confirmed that it's something that I would happily do every day for every day of the year if I had the opportunity. Updating this blog was a moment of my day that I truly enjoyed and never approached as if it was a chore. Perhaps that's why I decided to do an unofficial blogmas first, to be sure that blogging is something that I really want to do. I already knew that I want to eventually regularly create written content for a living, and now I know that this blog is most definitely the first step in the right direction - blogmas confirmed that. 

How do you feel about blogging every day? Do you/could you/would you want to do it? 

Ciaté Mini Mani Month Calendar Days 22-24

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! I don't remember the last time I was so excited for Christmas. Perhaps I took my own advice to heart and really got into the Christmas spirit. I must say that having a Ciaté Mini Mani Month Calendar certainly didn't hurt! It was a bittersweet moment opening the last door on the calendar - we should have advent calendars all year round. How much different would the lead up to exams be if you had a calender with little gifts to count down the days?  

The last three polishes were: 

Caviar Pearls - Christmas Tree Caviar
Serendipity


After a week of pretty pastels, the closer we got to Christmas, the more festive the polishes got. Can't get more festive than 'Christmas Tree Caviar' with red, yellow and green pearls. I have yet to try out the pearls - I'm a little apprehensive about messing it up actually! I think I might prefer the silver glitters of 'Locket'. 'Serendipity', the full size Ciaté polish behind door 24, is the most festive of all as a red glitter. Red glittery mani for Christmas? Of course.

Did you have an advent calendar this year? 

This Week I've Been Listening To... - Christmas Edition

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

It's Christmas Eve tomorrow which means that the Christmas songs have been flowing throughout the house - and by that I mean that I've been blasting them non-stop to accompany the last-minute Christmas wrapping, the last of my revision in the countdown to the sadistically placed January exams, and even lulling me to sleep when the wind is howling a little too much and I can't get to sleep. While I have been listening to other songs -  James Blunt's 'When I Find Love Again' has been a favourite this week - it's been about the Christmas songs all day err day. Even though I did stumbled across some of the oddest Christmas songs. The Vengaboys' 'Where Did My Xmas Tree Go?' anyone? If you want to be festively confused then definitely check it out.

Without further ado, here are the songs that have gotten the most Christmas love: 


"Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing... A ring...
I don't mean on the phone; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight"
-Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt

Feliz Navidad, Jose Feliciano
All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt
Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry Be Happy, Pentatonix
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Andy Williams
I'll Be Home, Meghan Trainor
When A Child Is Born, Johnny Mathis
Mary's Boy Child/ Oh My Lord, Boney M.
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas, Michael Bublé
Baby It's Cold Outside, from Neptune 1949
Little Drummer Boy, Pentatonix
Adeste Fideles, Il Divo
Santa Tell Me, Ariana Granda


I quite like a mix of good old Christmas classics and discovering new ones. I'm not usually an Ariana Grande fan so was surprised by how much I liked 'Santa Tell Me', and I've also become a huge Meghan Trainor fan. There's just something about her voice that I really enjoy, though nothing can beat a good Mariah Carey. I also really like 'Baby It's Cold Outside' for the different renditions that have been made - I really like the Lady Gaga/Joseph Gordon Levitt rendition where the gender roles are switched. It's interesting to have a different take on things. It's probably why I've also been enjoying Pentatonix's takes on Christmas songs. who have the most amazing vocals. I highly recommend checking them out if you like acapella Pitch Perfect-style singing.

What are some of your favourite Christmas songs? 

Make Up Revolution Ultra Cover & Conceal in Medium-Dark

Monday, 22 December 2014


My original purpose of buying the Make Up Revolution Ultra Cover & Conceal palette in Medium-Dark was for Halloween: I wanted to go pale but didn't like the chalky look of white face paint, so figured I would use the lightest shade as a foundation for my zombie look, the darkest to hollow out my cheeks, and figure out how to use the rest of the shades in the palette later. Besides at £6.00/€7.58, how could I not? 

It worked a treat for Halloween, but since then have failed to fully explore the potential of the palette. I use the darkest shade to contour my face - I smooth it onto the hollows of my cheeks and then blend it out with a contour brush, but I've yet to really use it as the concealer palette that it was intended to be. Which is a shame, as I find it difficult to find concealers that match my skin tone, and this palette gives me the possibility to create the perfect shade all year round without breaking the bank. 

The few times I have reached out of my make up comfort zone and used it to conceal my under eye, I have been pleasantly surprised by the way that it smooths on, and doesn't drag the skin or stick to dry patches. I think that it's intended to be the kind of concealer you apply layer by layer and blend until you get the desired effect, so I might also need to invest in a decent fixing powder and buffing brush to get a flawless finish. I will definite have to include playing around with this in my New Year's Resolution as this is one of those products that has great potential - if you know how to use it. The full size mirror it comes is only an added bonus.

Have you tried the Ultra Cover & Conceal palette? Do you think a concealer palette is for you?

Ciaté Mini Mani Month Calendar Days 15-21

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Only three sleeps until Christmas! I'm not much of a Christmas person, but sending out Christmas cards, getting your gifts all wrapped up and listening to Christmas songs has this way of rubbing off on a person. Though I think one of my favourite parts this year has been getting my hands on a Ciaté Mini Mani Month Calender. It's not the Mini Mani Manor, but the shades I've gotten so far have converted me into a Ciaté fan (click here and here if you want to check out the other shades). 

This week I uncovered: 


Caviar pearls - frost yourself



Whilst I was a little disappointed by similarity between 'members only' and 'ivory queen' (from what I can tell one is a slightly lighter nude, both with slight shimmers in them), I came to like 'amazing gracie', which is a really pale pastel pink as much as I suspected I would, and having the base coat 'underwear' to go with the top coat I got last week made me happy.  I didn't think much of 'play date' when I first opened the door, but when I went to take pictures, I realised that it was the perfect candy cane red which I do believe I shall be donning for the Christmas days. I'm not a massive fan of red, but for the Christmas season - yes please! I also suspect at only £9.00 for a full size bottle I'll definitely be repurchasing some of these beauties. 

Have you tried any of these shades? What will you be donning on your nails for Christmas?

A first venture into B. Skin Products

Thursday, 18 December 2014

When I went to London recently, I didn't only pick up more Pukka teas, but I had time to pop into Superdrug and get my hands on some products from the B. Skincare range. B. is a make up and skincare brand exclusive to Superdrug that is suitable to vegetarians and vegans as well as being cruelty-free, so I was intrigued. I picked up the B. Clean Melting Gel Cleanser (normally £6.99, currently on offer for £3.47) , the B. Quick 4-in-1 Cleaning Wipes (normally £3.50, currently £1.73) and the B. Energised Eye Cream (normally £8.99, now £3.47). As you can imagine, I was pretty ecstatic to find that there was a better than 1/2 price on selected B. products - these products are already very reasonably priced, but when you're trying out new products, it can be a bit disappointing to spend money on them only to find you don't like them. 

The B. Energised Eye Cream is from their Phase 1 range, which was specifically created for use in your 20s and 30s. The eye cream I'd been using wasn't doing much for me, and though I know when you're in your 20s the products are more about prevention by keeping your skin moisturised, I wanted a little something more. The B. Energised Eye Cream promises to keep your cool and de-puff tired eyes whilst helping brighten them up by reducing the appearance of dark circles. After two weeks I'm not sure if I've seen a noticeable difference to my dark circles, but they haven't gotten worse, and I really enjoy this. It has more of a gel consistency, so when you apply this it cools and soothes instantly, and I imagine this feeling would be amplified if I kept it in the fridge. I'm pretty happy with this, and have had no adverse reactions to it, which is always a plus. 



I've been using the B. Quick Cleaning Wipes before using the B. Clean Melting Gel Cleanser. I know make up wipes have gotten a bad rep in the past couple of years as we realised that on their own they don't clean enough, but I think they can be good for removing make up, especially when you're not feeling reaching for lots of different products. And like the eye cream, I like the experience of using the B. Quick Cleaning wipes: they're really gentle on the skin, don't sting my eyes and has just the right amount of product on them.

I'm not sure what I think about the B. Clean Melting Gel Cleanser. It's a thick clear gel, that melts into an oil as you rub it into your skin, and then when you add water it takes on a milky consistency that is meant to act as a toner to leave skin soft and supple. It's also meant to be gentle enough to remove eye make up, but I find that this does sting my eyes so I don't. So far it hasn't broken out my skin, and after using this my skin is cleansed without that stripped, dried feel that can follow some cleansers. However, this is aimed at normal to dry skin, so I wonder if it isn't a little too rich for me, even if my skin is drier in the winter months. Perhaps I would have gotten on better with the B. Refined Exfoliating Cleanser

Overall, this is most definitely a brand I look forward to trying more of their products; beautiful minimalist packaging that doesn't betray how affordable the range actually is, I feel more confident using their products as they have to take more care with their ingredients in order to be both suited to vegans and cruelty-free, and though I'm not yet sold on the results, I enjoy the experience of using the products, and skincare routines are something we should look forward to, not dread.

Have you used any products from the B. make up or skincare range? 

Make Up Revolution | Essential Mattes Palette

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Make Up Revolution has a knack for aptly naming their products. Like the 'Awesome Double Flick and Thin' eyeliner which is indeed awesome (I tell you just how much here), their Essential Mattes palette gives you exactly what it says on the tin and for the super affordable price of (£4 | €5.05) . This palette has 12 shades of neutral matte shades that are perfect for an every day make up routine, from your white shade, perfect for creating a bright base or adding to the inside of the eye all the way to a light purple to wear on days where you want to add a subtle dash of colour to the eyes. This palette suits all skintones, and with 12 shades to play around with, you can create a different look for every day of the week with the same palette without ever feeling like you're just doing the same look day in, day out.

Though I have been trying to experiment more with the Colour Chaos palette in my every day look, the Essential Mattes palette is generally the palette I'll grab when I'm getting ready. I like to have a base for my eyeliner and the darker shades are great for adding some depth to the eyelid, or they look great on their own. I really like wearing the purple shades on days when I'm in a rush and know there isn't a chance in hell I'm getting my eyeliner even: I apply the lighter shade on my lids, blend the darker purple into the corner of my eye and along my crease, and then sometimes finish with a dab of white to highlight my eye. 

I would highly recommend this palette if you're on the look out for affordable neutral shades all in one palette. I find that most drugstores neutrals tend to have shimmers in them, and I personally don't like to wear shimmers on a day-to-day basis. And if you aren't particularly taken with the shades from this Essential Mattes Palette, be sure to check out the newly released Essential Mattes 2 palette!  Words cannot describe the amount of self control that is needed when it comes to Make Up Revolution. (Have you seen the Euphoria Palette in Bare? Or their Ultra Blush and Contour Palette in Golden Sugar? If so how are you resisting?) 

I think we've established that I am more than a little taken with Make Up Revolution, ha.

Have you tried the Essential Mattes palette or any of their 12 shade palettes?

This Week I've Been Listening To...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014








As tempting as it is to listen to Christmas songs on loop, my lack of innate Christmas spirit means that after an hour I am about done with all the cheer, though I think it's a lovely way to end the evening, with a nice warm cup of something, candles in the background and writing out those last Christmas cards (how did the deadline to send out cards get so close!) 

"Oh, there ain't no rest for the wicked
Money don't grow on trees
I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed
And ain't nothing in this world for free"
- Ain't No Rest For The Wicked, Cage The Elephant
This week I've been listening to:

Bed of Lies, Nicki Minaj
Mr C, Nina Nesbitt
Two Worlds Away, Nina Nesbitt
Jazz, Mick Jenkins
push pull, Purity Ring
I'm Not The Only One, Sam Smith ft. A$AP Rocky
Sweater Weather, The Neighbourhood
Wires, The Neighbourhood
Afraid, The Neighbourhood
Flawless, The Neighbourhood
Ain't No Rest For The Wicked, Cage the Elephant

I may have listened to The Neighbourhood's album 'I Love You.' on repeat whilst blogging all week, but those are my favourite songs, besides '#icanteven', their latest single. I realised I never really listened to them much until now because I confused them with The 1975 who I am not a massive fan of. The song of the week would have to be 'Ain't No Rest For The Wicked' though. Perfect for a post-shower shimmy around the house.

What songs have you been listening to this week? 

Winter Essential | The Body Shop Almond Hand & Nail Cream

Monday, 15 December 2014


I love my The Body Shop Strawberry Hand Cream, and it still resides in my handbag for on-the go moisturising (and I feel like the sweet scent acts like a perk-me-up during these cold times), but I found that I needed something a little more moisturising. So when I wandered into my local Body Shop and saw that the Almond Hand & Nail Cream (100ml) was half-price, I knew it had to be fate. It contains sweet almond oil, which is known for its deep moisturising and skin softening prowess, as well as panthenol (a derivative of vitamin B5), to help seal in the moisture, therefore a treat for hands and nails dried by the harsh weather.

When I bought this I'd been getting an increasing number of hangnails, and one of the main causes of those pesky bits of peeling skin around the nail is dryness. I've been using this regularly for a few weeks now and have noticed a massive difference - no hangnails! I also suspect that because my nails are in better condition my nail polish is staying on just that bit longer. And though this isn't a foot cream, I've also been applying this on my feet every night before I go to sleep. I may not be not noticing a difference I imagine I would get if I used something like the Hemp Foot Protector, but the skin on my feet is smoother and my toenails are in much better condition. The fact that this smells amazing is only a plus. The sweet almond scent is actually quite understated; it doesn't hit you like the Strawberry one, so this would be great for those who don't like overwhelming scents, 

So far I'm really happy with the results, and think I'm going to invest in some other pieces from the range, using the Almond Hand & Nail Body Butter before bed for more intensive moisturising. If Almond isn't your thing, you can check out the other products at The Body Shop to create your own handcare regime. I really like how The Body Shop have you covered with a range of cleansers, oils, creams and butters. 

Have you used anything from the Body Shop handcare range? I'm particularly curious about the new Absinthe range - I thought it was a drink! 

Ciaté Mini Mani Month Days 8-14

Sunday, 14 December 2014



"Life's too short to be wearing boring nail polish."

It's the second week of Ciaté Mini Mani Month Calendar, and so it's also only 10 sleeps until Christmas! I'm not usually this excited about Christmas, but I have been making more of a conscious effort to do so, and having an advent calendar this year certainly has helped. If you're a bit of a reforming Scrooge like me, last week I posted a little guide on how to get into the Christmas mood if you're not a Christmas person, as well as days 1-7 of the calendar

This week I got these shades: 

Pillow Fight
Glitter Jingle Bell



It is now official: I am a Ciaté girl. The shades I got this week were right up my street. I've been wearing 'Pillow Fight' all week, which is a gorgeous purple-toned grey that I unfortunately think is a calendar exclusive. Sad face. I've worn this since Tuesday, and on Sunday, without the top 'Speed Coat' that I was surprised to find behind door no. 10, and it's only just begun to chip at the tops. That's definitely the kind of durability I need from my polishes. Unfortunately 'Pepperminty' had dried out (and it's a shade I know I would have loved - mint greens are my favourite) but at least I got 'Ferris Wheel' the next day, a pretty pastel blue that's going to get a lot of wear in the spring. 'Party Shoes' is such a beautiful gold glitter with green/blue accents that I *almost* used it straight away. I still need to find a hassle-free way to remove glitter!  

This year's calendar hasn't come to an end yet and I'm already excited about getting next year's Ciate Advent Calendar, which I will definitely be getting my hands on - just try and stop me! Do you think you'd get it? 

Doubt, but keep going.


Doubt. We've all felt it. It's that little thing that makes you hesitate before a decision, and even once you've made the decision it stays around, asking you whether you're sure that you did the right thing - are you sure that there wasn't another option to pick, a better option? Doubt can come from different sources: it can be from an offhand comment from a friend that didn't mean much but sets off a series of questions in your mind, it can come from a fear of the unknown keeping you off-kilter and making you question that which you can't possibly predict, or it can be from insecurity, an inability to trust your own decisions. It's the last source of doubt that can be the most damaging. 

Doubt can be a good thing, as it can make you double-check to see if you really do have your keys, or it can make you question a person's motives when they don't seem entirely genuine and save you a whole world of hurt. However, when you doubt yourself on a regular basis, it is rarely beneficial. There is a difference between questioning yourself and doubting yourself. When you question yourself, you ask pertinent questions to make sure that you're doing the right things for you: do I really want to take this course or am I doing it to please my parents? Do I like this style of coat or do I want to buy it because everyone else has it and I think I'll feel better when I 'fit' in? Am I happy with this relationship or has it become more of a habit? 

Self-reflection is important so that you always have a sense of self: who you are at the moment, what you want, and the general direction you're heading. Questioning what you do provides you with answers to move forward. On the flip side, doubt does everything it can to keep you stuck in one place. Imagine that you have a wall which you need to climb over - you have two options. Option one, you ask yourself how you're going to climb over it, who you know that might have a solution to your current or if you could Google a way, in order to work out a strategy. Option two, you doubt whether you can even get over the wall. You question your decision to even climb the wall. Why climb the wall? What's wrong with being on this side of the wall? 

In one scenario, you're moving forward, because after all, nothing stops you from climbing back over once you know how to climb it in the first place. The other scenario stops you from doing something that you might like to do or getting the hurdle that will bring you closer to what you want. And the funny thing is, both options take about the same time, but only one of them gets you results. The time you spend questioning a decision is about the same time you could have spent executing it. 

For years I have let my dreams lie dormant because every time I made the decision to follow them I would be racked with doubt: do I have what it takes to be a writer? Would I ever even make a living writing? How could I possibly have original content when there are so many other writers out there? Hasn't it all been written before? During the time I was doubting my dream, I could have been asking more pertinent questions like: if I want to be a writer, what do I have to do? What can I do today that would take me in the right direction? Instead of doubting my dream, I could have been moving towards it.

Now that I've started blogging, I still have doubts: I doubt whether I'm taking the content in the right direction, whether there's any point of having another blog in the sea of blogs, and whether I shouldn't be working on fiction, or non-fiction, or anything else really. However, I've learnt over the past couple of months that doubt, like fear, will always be there, it's just a question of not letting it get in the way. Over time, you begin to doubt what you do with less intensity and regularity, but in the beginning - especially if you have a habit of doubting your decision - it's going to be difficult, and some days it'll feel almost impossible to look at practical ways of getting over your current obstacle rather than wondering why you should get past that hurdle in the first place.

My only advice is: doubt, and keep going. If you don't like where you end up, go back, but don't let doubt paralyse you. Doubt the doubt, but don't doubt yourself.

Time to Declutter #1: Skin Care

Saturday, 13 December 2014


The end of the year draws close, and amidst all the festivities, I think it's also a good time to declutter and make some space for the coming year. Over these final weeks of 2014 I'll be throwing out the beauty products I won't be bringing into 2015 with me for a whole host of reasons but the top two being that they didn't work for me or they've long passed the acceptable amount of time you're supposed to keep beauty products before they're basically petri dishes of bacteria. 

The first batch of beauty products I'll be getting rid of are skincare products that didn't work for me and I definitely won't be trying again. Obviously, this not to say that they're necessarily bad skincare products - far from it. Not all products work for everyone, and I personally like to hear what didn't work for other people so that I don't feel so alone when a product that seems to work miracles for everyone else just doesn't work for me. 


The skincare ranges that stopped working for me

Having oily skin, I'm always on the hunt for products that will keep my skin looking clear, matte and shine-free. Right now I have a skin range that works beautifully for me (I talk about it here) but before I got there, I went through The Body Shop Tea Tree range first. When I was using this range, I had a nose piercing at the time, so the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Foaming Cleanser was beneficial for it (tea tree is handy when you suffer from the dreaded piercing bump). I wasn't a massive fan of the Clearing Toner as you had to shake it to blend it and there was always bits of residue I couldn't quite get rid of (though I'm sure it didn't change much to the product). I'd finish my routine with the Skin Clearing Lotion, which promised 'lightweight hydration with shine-control'. This was before I realised that light hydration + skin clearing product = one way road to stripped skin. These all worked great at first, but over time my skin grew progressively oilier the drier it became. Once I figured what the problem might be, I tried just having one product at a time in my skincare routine, but as I've come to realise, I also have sensitive skin, and these products proved a tad too strong for my skin. 

I must confess that I bought these Neutrogena Visibly Clear products in a pique of desperate nostalgia. None of the products I was using at the time were working and remembering this range working miracles for when I was younger, I picked up the Visibly clear Oil-free Moisturiser in hopes that it would once be the solution to my skin problems. Alas it wasn't meant to be, and after about two weeks of use, it was if it stopped working overnight. Rather than hydrating my skin whilst leaving it soft, clear and relatively matte, my skin was breaking out, oily and massively irritated. The Visibly Clear 2-in-1 Wash and Mask also became quite drying, even if I only used it as a weekly mask. I suspect that this didn't work for me this time around because contrary to my teenage years, my face can't really be classed as blemish prone, so these products ended up being too harsh on my skin.



Cleansers? You mean a one-way ticket to break outs right? 

All these products ended up breaking me out, though I admit to being partially to blame for some of them. I have no idea why I purchased the Garnier Pure Active Purifying Make Up Removing Gel | 2 in 1: Cleanser and Make up Remover when I'd tried products from the Pure Active range before and had an allergic reaction. I guess I was enticed by the possibility of combining my make up remover and cleanser in one, and this contains the much-touted salicylic acid. Alas it wasn't meant to be and I had to spend weeks nursing my skin back to health. However, I don't understand why the Kruidvat Cleansing Lotion for Dry and Sensitive Skin also had the same effect. It's intended for dry and sensitive skin, so why did this irritate and strip my skin? The only answer that I can come up with is the price. Skincare doesn't have to cost a fortune, but sometimes you have to be willing to spend a bit more. It's your face. That can't be replaced. 

That said I don't think that's why the Essence Soft Cleansing Gel in Lime & Cucumber didn't work for me. As with the HEMA Cleansing Milk for Normal to Combination skin, I think it was a case of me purchasing products that weren't suitable for my skin type. The cleansing gel would suit younger skin whilst the cleansing milk was a little too rich for me, no matter how much I wished I could use it as an alternative to their Cleansing Milk for Oily Skin which they unfortunately discontinued. As for the Bourjois Paris Vitamin Enriched Toner, it's just a case of it being past it's use-by date. I started using it at the beginning of the year as an alternative to Tea Tree Toner but never really liked it much. It didn't seem to make much of a difference to my skin despite containing vitamin C.




Face creams, eye cream, I scream when products irritate me

Last but not least, the creams that need to go and never return. The Nivea Visage Pure Effect Shine Control Hydrating Mattifying Gel wasn't that bad, but it wasn't particularly good either, and has now been sat in the back of the bathroom cabinet for so long it unfortunately needs to go. On the other hand, the Yves Rocher Sebo Specific Complexion Perfecting Day/Night Cream taught me a valuable lesson: when a product tells you to avoid direct sun whilst wearing it, you do not want to be wearing said product. Especially in summer. Especially without SPF. Some beauty lessons just need to be learnt the hard way. 

On the other hand, I don't understand why I had such a bad reaction to the HEMA 'It's my beautiful skin day' Hydrating & Calming Day Cream for Dry/Sensitive Skin with SPF 10, Yves Rocher ACTIVE SENSITIVE Hydrating Day Cream for Sensitive Skin, and the Kruidvat Eye Cream in Aloe Vera for Sensitive Eyes. All these products are intended for sensitive skin, so at worst I expected to have oily skin in exchange for calming hydration. Instead I would wake up with taut, itchy skin and with the eye cream, I ended up sleeping more hours than necessary thinking that my puffy, stinging eyes was due to a lack of sleep. These are all quite low-priced drugstore products though (under €10), so they continued my education in not skimping on the products you're going to put on your face on a daily basis.

Are you clearing out any beauty products in preparation for the coming year? Did you have a skincare product that just did not agree with you this year? 

Make Up Revolution | Salvation Palette: Colour Chaos

Friday, 12 December 2014

The Make Up Revolution product I'll be talking about today is the Salvation Palette - Colour Chaos, an 18 eyeshadow palette packed with an assortment of bright, punchy shimmers and mattes (£6.00 | €7.58) . I actually bought this for Halloween as I needed a versatile palette with highly pigmented colours and this fit the bill. The full-size mirror that comes with the palette also really helped out when we were all getting ready and there was a shortage of mirrors. 'Tom Tom', a bright red shimmery shade was what I used to complete my Little Red Riding Hood look whereas I used the rest of the shades to re-create this Zombie Flapper look by Youtuber Desi Perkins. The applicator that comes with the palette isn't my favourite but it sure does help pack on the colour. 


I currently don't wear eyeshadow that often: I'm a glasses wearer and have quite small lids so most days I feel like no one will be able to see the beautiful shades anyway. However, I need to stop telling myself this lie as the few times I've worn this during the day, I've really liked the looks you can create with this palette. The fact that most of the colours are bright doesn't mean they're not wearable. Sure, I don't wear 'Toxic apple-tini' (the shimmery acid-green shade) during the day, but the purples, pinks and greens are definitely wearable, and the white 'TipX' and the silver 'Gleam' can just add a touch of glam to the inner eye or the centre of the lid. This is a palette that will definitely get me through the holidays. 'Deliver Me' is a gorgeous dark green and 'Gleam' combined with the dark blue 'Over-bored' would work well for New Year's Eve, matching with one of the Maybelline Colour Show Glitters. 

I currently want to get my hands on their newly released Girl Panic! palette, which I feel I'd be more inclined to wear daily but I've not yet to find a good enough excuse to get it (though I'm sure it's only a matter of time!) Have you tried the Colour Chaos palette or any of the Make Up Revolution Salvation Palettes? What did you think of them?

L'Oreal Paris Nude Magique BB Powder in Dark

Thursday, 11 December 2014


I have had my eye on this product for awhile now. It would catch my eye as I browsed the beauty aisle but I ignored its call, making up excuses along the lines of 'it'll probably break me out' or 'it'll probably be too light for my skintone'. However, my curiosity eventually broke down and I had to buy it to see if the L'Oreal Paris Nude Magique BB Powder in Dark would live up to its promises. Claiming to offer light coverage, a velvet feel, an 8h non drying mattifying finish whilst leaving shine free, fresh looking skin, it certainly had a lot to live up to. 

As an oily skin girl I was definitely enticed by the possibility of having the BB effect in a powder form as any BB creams I'd tried would either sit on my skin or make me feel oilier than usual. And this product did not disappoint. Instead I've been kicking myself for how long it took me to actually pick it up. I have been wearing this with no foundation or primer - I tried wearing the Laura Mercier primer with this product and actually found that my T-zone became oilier a lot quicker than without it (though perhaps I need to try the oil-free primer in her line).



The BB Powder applies light but it quickly warms up to match my skin tone. I do feel like I have to add a bit of colour back to my face though, and usually slick on The One Stick Blush in Malibu from Make Up Revolution just to bring back some colour to my face. I've been really enjoying the light coverage of this, and as I like the effect of the powder on its own, it feels like I've been allowing my skin to breath. It is buildable, and over the holidays I'll probably use this as a setting powder because this is the first powder I've had that keeps my skin matte and relatively shine-free without breaking me out. If I put this on in the morning, but lunchtime my shiny T-zone is making an appearance but not in the usual 'ick, my face is oily' sort of way. When I'm wearing this, I seem to glow rather than looking like I desperately need to locate some blotting paper asap. 

I don't tend to apply touch up my make up when I'm on the move, but even I can appreciate just how travel-friendly this powder is. The powder section lifts to reveal a mirror and a sponge, perfect for on-the-go application. I've heard you can apply this with a powder or kabuki brush, but so far I've found that the sponge applicator it comes with works well enough. Overall, I think this is a great product, and I would highly recommend if you have oil-prone skin and want the BB effects without the negative side-effects of some creams. 

Have you tried the L'Oreal BB Powder? Do you like BB products or do you prefer foundations? 

A New Discovery: Pukka Tea

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

I love tea. If you know me, this is no secret, but it's time I officially put it out there. I love tea. I'm not entirely sure at what moment I started really getting into it, but I have vague memories of black tea with lemon and honey being my go-to beverage in the winter because it's what my mother would give me at the first complaints of a sore throat. Now, whenever I wander into a supermarket, I have to pass by the tea aisle to scope out if they have any flavours that I have yet to try. I'm currently mostly a tea bag girl because of convenience and habit; I have yet to agree with arguments that loose tea is better. What I do like about loose tea is the possibility of making your own flavours by mixing things up. But I digress.

Today's post is about my recent discovery of Pukka Teas. I'd seen them on the shelves in my perusals of tea when I was still in the UK, but I'd always thought myself more of a Twinings girl. It wasn't until my sister sent over some teas from London, amongst which was the Peppermint & Licorice and Three Mint. I instantly fell for the packaging: the designs are bright, vibrant and make you want to reach for the tea on the shelves. I didn't expect much before each first try, as I'm used to teas falling short of expectations in the flavour department. You can imagine the shock I got when I discovered that these teas taste amazing! 

How pretty is the inside of the Three Mint box? 

If you like your mint teas then Three Mint, a "verdant fusion of organic peppermint, spearmint & fieldmint", is definitely worth a try. What I like about this is that it really is a mix of the three mints, rather than one of the mints overpowering another: they're in perfect harmony. It's my favourite post-lunch drink as it's refreshing and peppermint is really good for digestion. That is why the Peppermint & Licorice is currently my favourite after dinner tea. I really didn't expect to like this tea as I'm not a fan of licorice, and thought it might taste bitter or for some reason thought licorice and aniseed taste the same. As it turns out this tea is actually quite sweet, but not in a sickly sort of way, just a soothing, calming sort of way.

The Elderberry & Echinacea is the most recent of my Pukka buys and again I didn't expect it to be as fruity as it claimed. It has blackcurrant and elderflower notes to round out the flavour, and I just love how full of flavour the end product is. I don't usually take out my tea bags when it comes to herbal teas so I really like that this doesn't get that tangy, bitter aftertaste you can get with some fruity herbal teas when you steep them for too long. 

Another plus of the Pukka Teas is that they're organic, vegan and Fairwild (they aim to take their ingredients from the wild and ensure that those who grow and cultivate them have a fair wage, rather like the FairTrade concept). Who doesn't want tea that tastes good, makes you feel good and does good? I'm looking forward to trying more teas from their range, so expect more Pukka posts (and tea posts in general) in the future! 

Have you tried Pukka teas? Which is your favourite? Are you a tea person? 

This Week I've Been Listening To...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Don't you just love it when you stick to resolutions? I recently made myself a promise to try and venture from my musical comfort zone and listen to new artists every week, no matter how much I think that I could probably listen to Hozier's 'Take Me To Church' on loop for the next five years (how great is that song?!). 

Not that venturing out of my musical comfort zone simultaneously got rid of my habit of songs that I really like on a loop. I rediscovered Lily Allen this week, and having already exhausted 'It's Not Me, It's You' back when it came out in 2009, it was the turn of 'Sheezus'. Though I'm not sure about the solidity of the feminism behind 'Hard Out Here', it's a catchy enough tune perfect for singing along to at the top of my lungs to whilst doing the washing, and the 'URL Badman' response to a critic is amusingly clever (though I haven't dug deep into the origin of the beef that sparked this witty tune). 'Wind Your Neck In' is an additional track on the Deluxe Edition that I would qualify as this album's 'F** U' but not quite as direct. I also like her little odes to Mr Cooper in the form of 'L8 CUMMR' and 'As Long As I've Got You'. All in all, Sheezus is an album giving a lesson if blasting 'Smile' in your bedroom was once (or still is) one of your pastimes.


I got this thing, gonna tie your tongue
Step in my ring, you'll be out round one
You want to feel what you cannot touch
You think it's love but you think too much
- Got It, Marian Hill


This week I've also been listening to: 

  • Long Way Down, Robert Delong
  • Thinking Out Loud, Ed Sheeran
  • Lips Are Moving, Meghan Trainor
  • The Nights, Avicii
  • Dangerous, David Guetta
  • I Bet My Life, Imagine Dragons
  • Mess Is Mine, Vance Joy
  • Aferlife, Ingrid Michaelson
  • I Can't Stop Drinking About You, Bebe Rexha
  • Got It, Marian Hill
  • Running Behind, HOLYCHILD
  • I Followed You Home, Elliot Sumner
  • Time, Mikky Ekko
  • Lips, Marian Hill
  • Twenty-Something, Noah Gunderson

I am really liking Meghan Trainor at the moment. Her EP already had me hooked, and her music is so bubbly, fun and deewop-y. Not to mention her amazing voice. Same with Marian Hill; 'Lips' and 'Got It' are definitely worth a listen. I didn't realise Bebe Rexha was the singer on David Guetta's 'Yesterday' which I am still in major like with, and 'I Can't Stop Drinking About You' would make a great pre-drink song for a girl's night out. Guess this week I've been really loving the female artists! 

What have you been listening to this week? Anything from my list? I'd love any recommendations!

Make Up Revolution | The One Stick Blush - Malibu

Monday, 8 December 2014
Another day, another ode to Make Up Revolution!  As I mentioned in my haul post, I'll be giving each individual product their own post as I've come to love them so much. With the virtues of the Awesome Double Flick Liquid Eyeliner and the Ultra Brow Arch & Shape already exalted here, it is now the turn of The One Blush Stick in Malibu

When I saw this shade I had to have it. I like pink blushers as much as the next girl, but I wanted something that I could wear that would mimic the natural flush of my face, and as a black girl, pink isn't it. So into my shopping cart Malibu went, and after the first couple uses, into my all-time favourites cosmetics list. Granted, it's the first blush stick I've used, but so far I have little if anything to complain about. It goes onto the skin vibrant, and then blends effortlessly to give a creamy glow that adds much-needed colour to my face. On a minimal make up day I use a BB powder, shape my eyebrows using the Arch & Shape, add mascara then two swipes of this and I'm good to go! Great for when you're running late.

The One Stick Blush is also multi-use, so I've been using this as a base for nude lips. On the lips this has a soft matte finish, that works well as a base to be paired with a lipgloss or a similarly coloured moisturising lipbalm. And what with nude lips all the range, in no small part thanks to Kylie Jenner and the Noughties revival, this blush will have you recovered. Besides, at £5.00/€6,31 how can you resist? 

I might give the Matte Malibu a try as well; it appears to have stronger red tones than just the Malibu. The Matte Rush has also caught my eye...Who doesn't need a dark coral-y pink in their lives? 

Have you tried any of The One Blush Sticks from Make Up Revolution, or any of their other blushes? What do you think of them?

Ciaté Mini Mani Month Days 1-7

Sunday, 7 December 2014

"In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different" - Coco Chanel

Can you believe how fast time flies? We're already seven days into December and only 17 sleeps until Christmas! Thanks to having gotten my hands on the Ciaté Mini Mani Month, I have also acquired seven gorgeous shades of Ciaté Minis in the meantime. Until I got this calendar I'd never tried Ciaté brand and I have to say so far I've not yet been disappointed. I also really like how each day has it's own quote in the calendar (the quote above is today's quote). 

The shades I've gotten so far are: 

Sequin Miss Mistletoe

My favourite so far is 'Sugar Plum' which is a beautiful purple pastel. I did need three coats of it to get a nice opaque consistency but since it dries fast enough, I don't really mind. I'm also thinking that 'Fit For A Queen' is going to be my go-to silver for accents. Silver french tips on a blue base? Yes please! If you like any of these shades I recommend heading to the Ciaté site where some of them are in their sale. 

Overall I've been really pleased with this calendar and hopefully next year I'll be able to get my hands on whatever calendar Ciaté is doing. I've seen pictures of the Mini Mini Manor and the goodies, and it looks so good. 

Have you ever had a Ciaté calendar? What do you think of Ciaté nail polishes? 

What to do when you're just not a Christmas person...and you want to be.



'Tis the Christmas season! It's the time of year when everything gets bedecked in sparkling lights and equally entrancing festive decorations, where Christmas songs are played on loop, and there is a rush to figure out what to get friends and loved ones, fight with the Christmas crowds to do so, and make sure that everything is sorted out on time before Christmas is upon us. Christmas is a time for many things, but mainly a time for expressing love and thanks for family and friends in various forms. The most important part of Christmas for me has always been getting together with friends and family. Our family tradition is to get together as a family on Christmas Eve and celebrate what the holiday means to us together.

Our tradition is far from the more...commercial side of Christmas. I don't say commercial in a bad way (I mainly use it for a lack of a better word), just that elements such as Christmas trees, advent calendars and exchanging gifts was never really part of our tradition, so I always felt a little odd when friends got excited about Christmas shopping and the arrival of Christmas-related goods in the shops. When I went away to university, Christmas felt like a massive cultural shock because despite having lived in the same country as my housemates, I didn't really get what you were supposed to do around this time of year.

And I don't think I'm the only one. I think there are others who just never got into the whole Christmas thing for a whole bunch of different reasons, from religion to bad childhood experiences with Christmas. I know how it can feel a little like the outside looking in and quite frankly overwhelming when it's the first Christmas that you're really trying to get into. This year is the first year I'm trying to completely immerse myself in the Christmas spirit. I have so many moments where I have no idea what I'm doing, but luckily I have friends who know what they're doing, and thanks to bloggers and vloggers, there really isn't a shortage of Christmas ideas. 


I'm by no means an expert, but sometimes it can be comforting to have a few guiding tips from someone who is just as lost as you are. So without further ado, here's a few things to do to get into the Christmas spirit when you're not a Christmas person but you want to be

Get an advent calendar. This is my first year getting an advent calendar, and I feel like it's really helped me get and stay in the Christmas spirit, because you have a little something to look forward every day and you're counting down the days until Christmas!

Listen to Christmas music. I challenge you to listen to Christmas songs and not get into the Christmas spirit. It might take a little searching to find what kind of Christmas songs you like but listening to playlists on Spotify or 8tracks can help you along the way. Strangely, my favourite Christmas song at the moment is Lily Allen's rendition of 'Somewhere Only We Know' because of last year's John Lewis advert, firmly knocking off The Pogues 'Fairytale of New York' from top place. That said, this ranking is most definitely subject to change before Christmas is over as I have only just Boney M Christmas song goodness and I've had 'Feliz Navidad' stuck in my head for days. 

Make hot chocolate and cosy up with a Christmas film. I've not yet to do this, but I am really looking forward to making hot chocolate (or a Christmas-spice herbal tea if I'm not in a chocolate mood) and just relaxing with a festive film. I love 'Love Actually' and it wasn't until last year that I finally watched 'Elf' after I was tired of not getting the constant references to it. Plus, Christmas films are usually light-hearted and uplifting - the perfect remedy for long dark cold winter nights.

Decorate your home. Spread Christmas cheer throughout every corner of the house. It doesn't have to be everywhere or perfect, especially if you feel a little overwhelmed. I've started in my bedroom by getting a few Christmas scented candles (nothing fancy, just something like Glade Apple Cinnamon though I would love a Yankee Candle), hanging a few Christmas decorations on my wall in place of my usual decorations and wrapping lights around my bed frame. I aim to add touches of Christmas everywhere, but just having a few touches this year has made me happy. 

Get a Christmas tree. Nothing says Christmas quite like a Christmas tree. Luckily they come in so many different sizes, and if you don't feel like you'd be able to decorate a 7ft natural tree (I really wouldn't know what to do with it), then a small synthetic desk tree is more than enough. Deck it with a few lights, a bit of tinsel, add a star on top and - voilà! Instant Christmas. 

Watch Vlogmas videos or read Christmas blog posts. 'Tis the season for daily vlogs on Youtube, and even though it's usually just Youtubers vlogging their daily activities, most of the time they'll be preparing for Christmas as well, and their general enthusiasm for the holidays can be addictive. If vlogs aren't your thing, luckily there are a plethora of Christmas-related blog posts on the Internet, ranging from gift guides if you have no idea what to get your brother to DIY ideas for things like cards, presents and decorations. Let yourself be inspired by others who've already got a decent grip on this Christmas thing. 

Send out Christmas cards. I have mixed feelings about this, even if I am excited to send out my own cards this year. Don't send out Christmas cards as an obligation because you're receiving them. It won't feel heartfelt and you won't get any enjoyment out of it. Do send out Christmas cards if you intend to add a personal touch, you know your friends and family will appreciate it (especially if you never send them!) and it's something that seems fun to you. 

Make or buy your friends and family gifts. If you come from a family that doesn't usually "do gifts" it can be really fun to break from tradition and get everyone gifts even if you know that you're probably not going to get anything in return. It doesn't have to be anything big, and it can even just be a DIY you picked up on your perusal of Youtube videos and blogs. Personally, I've discovered that there's something magical about getting into the spirit of giving. 

Go to a Christmas market or fair. This is another thing I'm really looking forward to. Christmas markets and fairs are a hub of Christmas spirit, with gift ideas on the stalls (and I'm all for supporting independent sellers) and traditional Christmas foods to be discovered. Last year was my first taste of mulled wine and I finally got what the hype was about. Since every country has its own traditions, it can be a good place to pick up the little local nuances and discover new things. 

Talk to others about Christmas. Last but not least, if you feel like you just don't know what to do or feel like this Christmas thing is a bigger hassle than it's worth getting into, call up a friend who is (comparatively) Christmas crazy and just toss ideas back and forth. You'll be sharing favourite Christmas songs and ideas before long! Also just talking to family members about decorations, maybe changing up dinner plans and so forth can also help feel like you're taking on the mammoth challenge of starting a new tradition all on your own. 

I'm sure there are loads of other ways to get into the Christmas spirit, but what's most important is doing what feels right for you. Some days Christmas songs are the most annoying things in the world, and outside of December you wouldn't catch me listening to Michael Bublé and I'm not even sure we're going to have a tree this year despite my good intentions because I keep thinking 'how will I decorate it? What if it looks rubbish? WHAT DO I DO WITH A TREE?' and you know what - that's fine. If the extent of your Christmas cheer is wearing a t-shirt that says 'Bah humbug' then that's pretty cool actually. Everyone should be able to just do whatever makes them happy, and that includes how to celebrate Christmas. And as I keep telling myself, there's always next year to step up my Christmas game if I want to. 

What about you? What do you do to get into the Christmas spirit?

Maybelline New York Color Show | Be Brilliant! Xmas Collection

Saturday, 6 December 2014



As if having a Ciaté Mini Mani Month as an advent calendar wasn't enough nail polish in my life, when I was in my local Di scoping out St. Nicholas presents for my girl friends (which is today - December 6th - so happy St. Nicholas Day!), my eyes did a mandatory scan of the Maybelline New York Color Show display because I find this range to be so affordable for a polish that I can usually make last a week, and when I come across a colour I like, I end up loving it.

So, of course, when I saw they had a Limited Xmas Collection line:  'Be Brilliant',  the likelihood of me leaving the shop without at least one of the shades in my possession. Indecision between which appealed to me the most led to me leaving with all four in my possession. 

From left to right, the gems in this glittering collection are:

421 Purple Dazzle
420 Skyline Blue
419 Spark The Night
418 Light Up

Until I started getting Color Show nail polishes, I never really paid much attention to product names but I find that they get them just right. Don't these sound polishes that will get you through the entirety of the holiday season? 

I've yet to use them however because as much I love glitter nail polish, I absolutely loathe the removal process, so much so that I end up asking myself why I decided to get glitter polishes after I swore to only admire them from afar. However, I do believe that I have found a solution for wearing these dazzling beauties without the pain of removing them - and if my theory turns out to work in practice you can be sure that I'll be sure to share it with you. Saying that, it's doubtful that I won't be wearing one of these on New Year's Eve, removal process be damned! 

Have you tried any of these? Which would you wear for New Year's Eve? I'm not sure if this available worldwide - I think it might be a Benelux/France exclusive - but let me know if you've seen these around your area. I'll also be eternally grateful if you have any tips on removing glitter!