Sunday 31 July 2016

My Go-To Subtle Eye Make Up Look

There's something so magical about finding that make up products you bought separately, fit together like they were meant to be, isn't there? (I can only liken it to what I'm guessing it would feel like if you brought a new puppy home and it curled up right next to the dog you've had for ten years.)
When it comes to eye make up I tend to go for the 'less is more' outlook, moving away from the assumption that a beauty hoarder likes to see if she can fit all the make up she owns, on her face all at once. I'm all about the browns recently, and since I like to think I've got my go-to look down at the moment, I thought I'd share my favourite products - heads up, there are some real gems. Disclaimer: don't get your hopes up for a finished look photo, I'm not quite there yet on the close up face photo train (totally just made that train up). Don't worry though, swatches await. 

My immediate pick for a base shade is 'Naked 2' from the Naked Basics palette, which has become a holy grail for me in the past few months. I apply all my eyeshadow mainly with the base eyeshadow brush from Real Techniques (ah-may-zing.) Then I go into my crease with 'Barcelona Beach' by Make Up Geek, making sure to blend out the warm brown so it looks relatively natural. 'Over the Taupe' by NYX goes on my outer corner; who knew that NYX did single eyeshadows pans and magnetic palettes? Not me, that's for sure. These shadows are such good quality, and the prices are ridiculously low for what you get.
Now, this is where the fun part begins and the glitter comes into play. If you haven't seen Kiko long Lasting Eyeshadow sticks before then you are seriously missing out (see swatches below for ridiculously high pigmentation.) I have the shade '06 Golden Brown', and it's such a beautiful shimmer shade that glides onto the lids. To keep in line with the look I go for when I do a day to day eye, I don't directly use the stick, otherwise the colour would be maximum intensity. Instead I transfer it lightly from my finger onto the eyelid, and it gives the look the sparkle it needs. Building up the shadows would allow this make up to be as vibrant or as subtle as you want it, especially with the shimmer!

From the left: Naked 2, Barcelona Beach, Over the Taupe, Golden Brown.

Have you used any of these products before, and what's your favourite Make Up Geek eyeshadow pan?

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Two Years of Blogging || A Reflection

 How has it been two years ago that I sat down and pressed publish on my first blog post? And how have I written over 200 of them since?! *Excuse me whilst I have a mini meltdown because life is moving too fast and oh gosh, university and adulthood awaits*
This past year has allowed ASD to evolve into what I imagined that it could be, and to make a serious amount of progress with my blog photography (who knew that a sheet of marble sticky back plastic from Wilkos could be the turning point for major change?) and also in the way of promoting my posts and interacting with other bloggers. Meeting new people is scary at the best of times, but to go to a meet up with such talented gals makes it even more intimidating -its a good thing you're all friendly! Never in a million years did I imagine that I could get up and go to an event with no comfort blanket or familiarity to rely on, but now its getting easier and easier with every event I go to. This past year I've attended NWMeet, NWMeet2.0, and was even invited to the Clothes Show and treated extra specially with treats and my own lanyard (whaaaaat - its the little things.)
When I first set up my blog, I just wanted to have a record of my beauty reviews and thoughts, and I never imagined it would be something that brands might want to get involved with, so to participate in collabs was an unexpected surprise. Thank you to the brands who have taken a chance on me this past year, I like you a whole lot and you're pretty darn cool. In regards to anyone that reads my little blog, you definitely fall into that category as well; blogging isn't about numbers, and it shouldn't ever feel like a competition, but logging into my account and seeing a blog comment makes my day.
In regards to blogging goals for the next year, I don't know what to say, because at the moment my future is a bit on the unknown side of things. I have no idea whether my university halls will have good lighting for photography, or how I'm going to scrounge enough $$$ to pay for all the beauty items that I want to review. I plan on taking bulk photos in the month leading up to leaving, but if I get there and there's a lovely desk underneath a window, I'll be a very happy bunny. If you go to university or have graduated and have experience of blogging away from home, I'd love some tips or advice! I'm planning on blogging to the best ability that I can whilst I'm in halls, but the whole process seems so unknown that I have no idea what to expect.
What has blogging brought to your life in the past year, and where do you see it going for yourself in the future?
Thank you to the moon and back for reading this rambly post and all the others that have gone up in the last two years! Here's to many more, *clinks glasses*


Sunday 24 July 2016

The Nine Item Make Up Bag

Technically, this was supposed to be a 'ten things' post, but I got to editing these photos and realised that despite my maths GCSE, I only picked nine. Four for you Glen Coco. 
Even though I would consider myself a make up hoarder, in reality I could probably pick out nine items and be content with life. I thought I'd show you my top nine items that I would take with me to a desert island (scrap that, who would wear make up in the desert?)
Now obviously a primer is essential - I can't get through the day without a primer to minimise shine, and the NYX Angel Veil is the crème de la crème, I think its better than MAC primers and without a doubt worth the £12 that you pay. I wear this everyday and its lasted me months, with still a lot of product left, so I would consider this a worthwhile investment for the nine item make up bag. Plus, white and pink packaging? It's got photogenic written all over it.
I'll skip foundation, since I hardly wear it on a day to day basis, and head straight to concealer. I love my MAC Pro Longwear, I do, but you can't control how much product you get as much as you can with the Rimmel Match Perfection concealer, which has amazing coverage and stays put all day without creasing. If you want a cheap, long lasting concealer with a suitable light shade, this is a good one to pick.
Next is the Multi Task brush by Real Techniques, which I can stretch to covering powder, bronzer and highlight all in one use (it lives up to its name to say the least.) Obviously, long time readers will know that I couldn't go anywhere without my precious Laguna, which is honestly my favourite make up item of all time. The subtle shimmer and the compromise between a warm and cool toned bronze make this the perfect choice. The packaging is also super cute, who else is captivated by smooth matte black packaging? I know I am.
As for highlight, it's got to be High Beam. The pearly shimmer is so beautiful on the cheekbones, and it works well without a foundation base, which is what I look for in a highlight. This may only fall second to a highlight that I'm hoping to pick up on holiday, which I tried a few weeks ago and absolutely fell for (more on that after my trip to Duty Free on Sunday!) Back to the subject at hand, High Beam is a brilliant first highlight to go for, as the glow can't be seen from outer space, but is definitely noticeable.
Eye make up wise I'm leaving it simple, since nine items isn't enough to guarantee a killer smoky eye. The 'Liner Feutre'  by Bourjois is hands down the best drugstore eyeliner to use for a wing, and believe me, I've trialled many. I used to be obsessed with Master Precise by Maybelline, but that dried out waaay too quickly for my liking, and I promise that this one from Bourjois is much better. Also from Bourjois (killing it on the eye products lately) I'm taking my 'Push up Glamour' mascara, surprise surprise. If you want length, volume and sleek packaging, this is 100% the mascara you want to put in your Boots basket.
Last but not least, lip products. It would be irresponsible of me not to put a balm in the nine item make up bag, so the Kiko Kiss Balm in Coconut makes the cut. It's my favourite lip balm of all time - looks like a gloss but feels like a balm, and has the best range of flavours known to lip balms. My MAC lipstick in 'Yash' is my go-to nude lipstick (and I feel like its totally underrated) to complete any look; I've almost used half up, and I only got it a couple of months ago!
What items would you put in your make up bag? Have you tried any of these?


Wednesday 20 July 2016

Glossybox Double Unboxing and Process Review

In the past, I've been a bit sceptical of the whole subscription box scenario that swept in many moons ago and left us all craving that little parcel on our doorstep. When I was 16 my Mum bought me a Glossybox subscription as a treat throughout my GCSEs, and at the time the idea of five beauty products delivered to my door every month seemed like the best and most innovative idea in the world. Flash forward to a year later, and half the stuff I had received went out with the Spring Clean - I mean, who really needs a glittery lotion that smells a bit off, or yet another waterproof mascara when reality check, a normal formula mascara will do much more nicely thank you very much.
Now, beauty boxes have expanded in variety, and it isn't just beauty subscriptions taking the market by storm (hello there pet boxes, I see you and I appreciate you.) I thought that whilst Glossybox had a pretty darn good deal on their subscriptions (£10 per month usually, but with a student discount and an extra free box on the side, worked out at £11 for two boxes including delivery) I would look at the process again with a more open mind, and fully review it for you guys. I also looked at Birchbox, but ended up staying true to my Glossy roots and taking the July box for a spin. As I've grown up, I've become more aware of trying new products out and embracing new concepts, so with that in mind I thought I might get more use out of the products this time around.


My order took around three days to arrive, but that was because the July box was up and running when I placed my order. The delivery was smooth (none of that stupid Hermes malarkey) and the packages arrived unscathed, so there isn't any faults that I can find with the delivery and ordering process.
The first product to jump out at me in the actual July box was this gorgeous F20 brush from Blank Canvas Cosmetics (£11.95); hot pink brushes are the way forward from here on out, are we agreed? The bristles are soft and this brush works wonders for buffing and applying foundation - when I unwrapped this beauty, I knew it was a pretty good start to the box. The risk here though, is that there is often one good product, and a few 'duds' to follow. In July's box luckily, for me there is only one thorn among the roses, so we might as well get that one over with - the Icona Milano Emotion Allowed mascara (£13) seems decent on first glance, but my eyelashes hate me every time I apply a waterproof mascara, so in that light I've had to pass this product on.

The Hairon Detangling Brush is an exciting addition, its a cheaper (£6.99) alternative to a Tangle Teezer, and as far as I can tell, does just as good of a job. Fair play Glossybox. Although a Soft and Gentle deodorant (£2.99) is not the most exciting product in the world, I do appreciate practicality, and if I hadn't received a new deodorant in this box then I would have had to buy one myself, so I consider this money saved, and therefore a win. Finally in the first box I got a Utan Face Gradual Tanner, which I was over the moon about since me and my mum prowled the aisles of Boots just a couple of weeks ago looking for a reasonable face tanner and came home empty handed. Yet another product that I will definitely use, so overall this box is what I would consider to be a good one, regardless of the one miss. I know that another product people may have received in their boxes was a Hawaiian Tropic Berry Lipgloss, and if that had been swapped for the mascara, I know this box would have been complete.
In the 'free box' I got some definite winners - the Hawaiian Tropic sun tan lotion will be perfect for Vienna in a few days time, and since I've had this brand before I can reveal that the lotion does in fact work. I'm not about those faux lotions that actually protect you from nothing at all. The Emite Lip Stain will be lovely to try out and layer under a gloss, and after trying it out I would definitely compare it to Benetint, although a little more on the pink side. I've had spiral hair ties before, so I was over the moon to find some pink (pink!) ones in the box from Hairon, and I do tend to go for more subtle nail polish shades, so this Khaki one from Nails Inc will do the job nicely. The only dud in this box, which was just not photographing well, was a Konjac sponge, something that I know nothing about and honestly am not likely to use, but have again passed on.
Its obviously difficult for a company to pick products that will suit every customers wishes (although Glossy seem to be doing that a bit more for the August box, by letting you pick the shades in your MUA palette), and at the end of the day, despite the fact that I will use most of these products and enjoy the surprise aspect of the box, I have to ask myself whether I would prefer to use my £11 and spend it on an item that I've wanted for a while. It's a tough task to reach a verdict on beauty boxes, but if you go into beauty with the idea of trying out new products, then I do think GB is a good way to go, and you really can't fault the customer service or delivery process.
What do you think of subscription boxes?


Sunday 17 July 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately

Lately, as always happens in the Summer months, I've been whizzing through my reading list and getting to all the books that I missed out on reading during the exam period. I thought I'd do a round up of all my recent reads, since most of them are typical beach books that I know we all search for during the holiday period.
Boy Most Likely To - Huntley Fitzpatrick
This is quite possibly my favourite of the bunch, so its a great place to start. I don't want to give too much away, since the shock of the storyline was what made it such an interesting read. It's a brilliant poolside love story about a 17 year old guy who leaves home and moves into his best friend's garage, and sparks up a romance with his BFs older sister. There is a huge plot twist pretty early on that shapes the story, but I'll leave that to your discovery. This book is a solid 5/5 for me, I sped through it and loved reading Tim and Alice's unconventional love story. It also has lots of appearances of the characters from her other two novels, and carries on from them in a way, so it might be a good idea to read those too.
All The Bright Places - Jennifer Niven
This one is a little bit heavier, as it deals with ideas about depression, suicide and family loss. Theodore is a tricky character, weighed down with the burden of mental health, and Violet is struggling to find meaning in a world where her sister no longer exists. Its a love story of sorts, but what made this so beautiful to read is the friendship side to it; the romance is gripping, but the healing process that evolves with Violet as she meets Theodore is what really drew me to this story. I would say its a 4.5/5, purely because the ending wasn't what I was hoping for, but that's more of a personal frustration than a fault with the book itself.
We All Looked Up - Tommy Wallach
I've got to be honest and admit that this book wasn't up my street. The basic gist of the book is that an asteroid is headed towards Earth, and its pretty much a sure thing that the world is going to be hit. From my first interpretation of this book after picking it up in Waterstones, I expected it to be about this group of people who make the most of their time left, an uplifting 'you only live once' kind of thing. It's actually a lot darker than that, based around humanity's reaction to such a tragedy, and the result of cities spiralling out of control. It's an interesting read, but not what I expected, and the ending left me feeling so dissatisfied that I'm going to give this a 2/5. (But, it does have a blogger in it, so that's definitely one reason to at least give it a go.)
Beautiful Broken Things - Sara Barnard
This is a flipping great book, so I'll start off by saying 5/5. I finished this on the same day that I started it, and I literally couldn't let myself put it down. This one is about two best friends (Caddy and Rosie), and the differences a new friend makes to their friendship. It's so heart breaking and real, and again, this book took a direction that I wasn't expecting, but in this story it completely worked, and it gave dimension to what I thought might turn out to be a petty storyline. It tackles difficult topics, and has such amazing character development, whilst still remaining true to reality and the situations we could actually encounter in our own lives. I don't want to give anything away, but you need to pick this up - plus, the cover is beautiful (who doesn't love a bit of gold foil?!) This is one of the books in Zoella's book club I think, meaning that you might be able to get it at a reduced price, which is a bonus.

Think Twice - Sarah Mlynowski
This is an easy read, following on from the first book in which a group of students in high school get their flu jabs and as a result, develop the potential to read minds. In this one, they begin to lose their ability one by one and have to adjust to becoming normal people again - its an entirely hypothetical situation, but it has its funny and endearing moments, and is just the kind of book you reach for to pick yourself up out of a reading slump. Its not the best book I've ever read, I'd say a 3.5/5, but the story is intriguing and the characters are relatable, which is always a winning combination.
The Crown - Keira Cass
Keira Cass is one of my favourite authors, and to get this copy of the final book in the Selection series was so exciting. If you haven't heard me ramble about this series before, its basically a book in the style of the Bachelor, where the Prince/Princess has to choose from a group of suitors. I know how it sounds, and I was sceptical at first, but its so captivating and I read the entire first three books in three days. The final two books are set after a time jump, and are based on the choices of the Princess, who is actually the child of the matched couple in the first three books, if that makes any sense at all. It's a fairy tale love story, possibly the best series I've ever read, and this one was a brilliant ending to the storyline (5/5.)
The Siren - Keira Cass
This is another of her books, based around the idea that the Ocean requires 'Sirens', beautiful girls who lure humans to the water with the sound of their voices. Sirens can't speak to humans on a personal level due to the damaging effects of their voice, and this book surrounds a Siren who falls in love with a human, despite the fact that her contract with the Ocean is binding and the love could never work. What I found most interesting about this book was the personification of the Ocean, who almost acts as a Mother to the Sirens and has a relationship with humanity - its odd to think about, but the story captured me from the word go and as always with Cass' books, a solid 5/5.
What have you been reading lately?


Wednesday 13 July 2016

Duty Free Beauty Haul

Everyone knows that one of the best parts of going on holiday (and definitely the best part of the airport), is the duty free. Particularly on the way home, when you have a ton of extra euros and a lovely selection of beauty stands right in front of you. I tell you, I went absolutely wild in there.
I don't have a high end concealer, so the first thing I was excited to pick up was the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC15, which I had borrowed from my friend whilst we were in Mallorca and thought was worth splurging on. I'm going to post a full review about this when I've had time to test it out a little longer, since I think I'm going to have a lot to say. 

When it comes to shimmery or sparkly products, I'm a complete magpie and it doesn't matter what the brand or item is, I want it in my collection. When I saw this 'Multiple' product from NARS in the cult favourite shade (Orgasm), I was immediately drawn to it, I've had my eye on the powder version for a while, but I find cream products easier to work with so this one was right up my alley. I'm going to be 100% honest here and say that when I purchased this, I wasn't exactly sure what it did (told you, I'm just a sucker for sparkly things), but its actually a product for various things including lips, cheeks and eyes, which is pretty darn cool. I'm excited to properly try this out, since I've heard from a few blogs that this shade can be a hit or miss despite its golden reputation. I don't often purchase from NARS, this is only the third item in my collection along with my beloved Laguna and a Velvet Lip Pencil in the shade 'Dragon Girl'.

One product I've raved about in the past is the tinted lip balms from Benefit - I love Posiebalm and Benebalm and I think the formula and scent combine to form a killer product. When I got a sample of Lollitint in the Benefit Advent Calendar I knew I wanted to pick up the balm, but £14.50 is a lot to pay for a lipbalm, so I've been putting it off. In duty free it worked out a bit cheaper, and I had exactly that amount of euros left, so it seemed like fate! The packaging on this product is amazing, and the pink/purple shade is pretty on its own, or with a gloss on top.
Along with my new MAC concealer, I picked up a lipstick, because despite the fact that I said in my recent MAC Lipstick collection that I wouldn't be buying more any time soon, we can never resist an opportunity like duty free can we? I'd never heard of the shade Faux before, which is a gorgeous pinky nude, but when I swatched it in store I knew it was the perfect addition to my nude collection (oo er.) Harry was very sweet and picked me up another lipstick when he went through duty free a day later, and chose another one that I haven't heard of, but On Hold is a beautiful pink red Cremesheen lipstick that will look amazing on a night out. I tried this over the top of my Melted Lipstick in Ruby, and it looked lovely, so I can't wait to experiment more with this.

I can't actually believe how much I spent last week in duty free, my bank is crying for me to enforce a spending ban for a while!
Have you made any exciting beauty purchases recently, or have you tried any of these products?

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Battle of the Glosses

Lately, lip-wise for me its been all about the gloss. I used to be a gloss obsessive back in the days when my love for make up was just starting out, but then time moved on, and there's just something so incredibly grown up about a lipstick don't you think? Nowadays, although I've been known to try and rock a matte lip, I've gone back to my make up roots and have started picking up glosses everywhere I go. There are a million brands I've tried out to find the perfect non-sticky gloss, and as you can imagine, there have been lots of hits, and a few misses here and there. I thought I'd talk about both of those categories today, because lipgloss shopping can be such a temperamental game (if I wanted my lips to stick together honey, I'd use glue.)

The Ones I Love
Okay, so there are far more in this category, so we'll start here, with the glosses I pick up on a regular basis and are hiding about in all my handbags for day to day use.
The number one, affordable gloss in my opinion is the NYX Butter Gloss - these babies are the most beautiful, smooth and non-sticky glosses I've been able to lay my hands on, and these past few weeks I've used one almost every single day. They have the best range of colours, my favourites being 'fortune cookie' and 'eclair', and are the perfect go-to gloss. I think (don't judge me for this), that this is the best product from NYX, even better than the Soft Matte Lip Creams.
Make Up Revolution glosses are £1 - WHAT. I know what you're probably thinking, that a good product can't possibly retail at a pound world price, but I kid you not, these are the least sticky glosses I've ever found. The colour range isn't the widest, but the formula itself is a winner for me, and if you're looking for a cheap trial run of the gloss life, I'm not sure you'd ever find a better deal than this one.
Benefit excel in pretty much everything, so it makes sense that their glosses would land in this post. In my advent calendar I received the mini version of Sugarbomb, a gorgeous shimmery pink that I used throughout December and loved. I'm a sucker for a squeezy tube, so I also tried out Hoola for the summertime, and again wasn't the slightest bit disappointed. Although these products can be a bit more on the pricier side, there's more product in the tubes and the fact that each gloss has its own name and packaging makes the situation a lil bit more fancy don't cha think?
Sephora own brand lipgloss is a consistent winner for me - the pink shades are my favourite, and every colour is pigmented to the max. I picked up a few in Poland last year when I was just getting back into the gloss game, and I couldn't be more pleased with the formula and pigmentation. Another favourite of mine is the Loreal glosses (despite the fact that the original Glam-Shine collection has been and gone *sigh*) - I like the applicator on these, and I think the shade range is one of the best out there. These were the products I kept in my school bag all year this year, so they're perfect for on the go and college life.
Last but certainly not least are the Max Factor Colour Elixir glosses, which I hauled in my most recent post. The packaging is 100% what drew me in to these products, the gold is sophisticated and sleek, and for a drugstore product these glosses have a price tag to match (£8-9 seems pretty hefty for a gloss, but hey ho). The formula of these is out of this world, and I reach for these on a night out since the staying power is incredible. Definite recommendation if you're looking for a bit more luxury at the drugstore.

The Ones I Hate
Eeek. Hate is a strong word, but when it comes to gloss, you either love or hate it my friends.
By far the worst product in this category is the Tanya Burr glosses. I feel so awful saying that since it's obviously made by a beauty blogger, but the formula of these is so tacky and sticky that I literally can't apply it, and if I do I feel a bit like my lips are getting sealed shut. Maybe I just got a bad one from the batch, but the colour is also a little bit off - sorry to all the Tanya lovers out there, its nothing personal!
Next up we have the Stila Lip Glazes. I remember feeling elated to see a set of eight of these on sale a few years back, so I rushed to pick them up and try them out. Have I ever been more disappointed by a product? I don't think so. I'd heard beauty bloggers rave about these, so when I first tried them (and I was still getting into make up at this point) I just assumed all gloss was meant to be this sticky and uncomfortable. Wrong - wearing a butter gloss compared to this is like a dream come true.
Sorry to bash Stila again, since there are some products that I do enjoy (hello smudge pot), but the Magnificent Metals gloss just, yet again, wasn't for me. I was so excited to get this item, that I bought one for my friend and also one to give away on this blog. I'm not sure if its just me that these don't sit well with, since I've read many positive reviews, but I can't get this to look right on my lips, and the texture is that of that Crispy Crème donut, you know the one with that sticky pink glossy topping? Probably just me. Anyways, not a good look or feel.
Are you a gloss girl, and have you tried any of these products?


Sunday 3 July 2016

Dressing for the Sun

*Internally cringes because its been a while since I posed in front of the camera*
I did a poll on Twitter to see what you guys wanted to read, and it seems like a holiday clothing haul was pretty high up on that list. I've loved Summer shopping this year, the prospect of going away with my best friends has made me even more eager to snap up some cute outfits for the beach and nights out.
The first couple of pieces I picked up were from Miss Selfridge, which is a completely new store for me, and I was seriously impressed with both the quality and the prices. This Bardot top in a blue and white tile print is possibly my favourite find, and how often is it that you go into a store and end up choosing the exact same item you spotted online? That literally never happens! I also picked up a pair of denim shorts, and let me tell you, its a rare occasion that I end up buying the first pair I try on (is it just me, or are denim shorts quite an uncomfortable item to wear?). These ones are distressed just enough and I actually find them easy to wear, so its a win from me.
Isn't this playsuit the prettiest thing you ever did see?! I'm excited to have a playsuit to throw on for a party, and don't worry I even did a dance in the changing rooms to make sure that this strapless number won't be falling down any time soon. New Look have a number of gorgeous pieces like this in their summer collection, so its definitely worth a look for some summer picks at an affordable price (this only set me back £15!)
This last outfit includes the same shorts as before, but what makes this look complete is the beautiful white kimono from ASOS, with beaded detailing and fringe on the bottom. I actually posted a close up of this item over on my instagram (asmalldistraction) if you want a more in depth look. I wanted this piece for a thin layer to cover up on the beach or if there is ever a cool moment in Mallorca, and seeing as this kimono had been on my ASOS wishlist for two months prior to when I purchased it, I was beyond happy to see this parcel arrive at my door. This is such a classy clothing item for throughout the summer, and I can actually see myself wearing this at home in the colder temperatures too.
Which of these is your favourite summer outfit? Have you picked up any clothing items recently?
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