Friday, 31 July 2015

I'm always up for trying innovative products, especially when they are a little bit different. So when I was offered the chance to try the first ever 'Beauty Cereal' I was more than intrigued. The Believe Beauty Breakfast* has just launched into Wholefoods, but what exactly is it?

Well it's a breakfast cereal, that you treat like any other cereal but it's been created for your skin, hair and nails. It's packed with ingredients that give a kickstart to your beauty regime. There's granola and British honey toasted oats, so you're getting a wholesome breakfast that keeps you full all morning. There's also coconut, sun dried blueberries and cranberries, which makes it really tasty, it certainly does not taste like sawdust like some other granolas. The granola has been made into clusters and they've been blended with 17 vitamins, including vitamins A, B12, B3, B5, B6, vitamins C, D and E plus zinc, selenium, magnesium and biotin.

What I found particularly interesting is comparing the calories of this to other cereals on the market. I suspected that it might be quite high, which would defeat the point of filling your body with good vitamins. It's actually comparable to other cereals on the market! It's the same calorie consumption as Kelloggs Crunchy Nut and the Jordan's Crunchy Oat Granola. 

You can tell this has been made with the beauty world in mind, as the packaging is gorgeous. I love the purple colour theme and it has some really pretty gold detailing. I have to be honest and say that cereal is not normally my thing, in fact I normally hate it. However, I've really enjoyed eating this! You can eat it with milk like a regular cereal, you can mix it with yoghurt, but I actually even like eating it on it's own.

The cereal retails for £4.50 a packet here, which is for 450g. This makes it a bit pricey than other cereals on the market, but this is a bit unique. I'd recommend mixing it into your routine, by having it for breakfast a couple of days a week. That way you get the benefits of the nutrients without a huge price hike to your shopping bill.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

You may have noticed that there happens to be a new trend taking the world by storm. It's called 'strobing' - but what exactly is it?

Strobing is dubbed to be the 'natural contouring' method, whereby you ditch the bronzer and make full use of your highlighter. It's all about embracing your dewy skin and creating shine and glitter all in the right places. It's also designed to be a much faster way to contour. So it's one if you're a little time stretched, or you just happen to be a little bit lazier in the mornings. Instead of faffing about with two products and a lot of blending, you're just using highlighter. Better yet, more is more! 

To add the new strobing trend into your routine, start with a dewy base. I'm a huge fan of the ESPA Naturally Radiant Tinted Moisturiser, which I've spoken about plenty of times before. It gives your skin a good amount of coverage and it leaves your skin glowing! If you do not have any dewy bases, you could mix a bit of the Good To Glow highlighters from Rimmel London into your normal base. You then want to find your favourite highlighter, you can't go wrong with something like the Mary-Lou Manizer from The Balm. Normally I'd say you want to be careful with this highlighter as it's really pigmented, but this is the strobing trend! Apply a generous amount to all the normal places; cheekbones, the middle of your nose, your brow bone and the corners of your eyes. If you overdo it, you can always dab your foundation brush over the top of the highlighted areas, to dull it down a little.

I'm a huge highlighter fan and as much as I love contouring, I'm all for trying this new trend. What do you think of strobing? Gorgeous glowing skin, or too much like a glittering disco ball?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Whilst on holiday recently we had some pretty extraordinary weather. In fact, when we were in Washington DC, the temperature reached a whopping 39 degrees. If I'm honest, 39 degrees is too hot for makeup, but when you're taking lots of selfies you want to look your best. I tried a lot of makeup combinations and sadly, a lot of foundations and products really let me down. However, I did find a winning combination that gave me perfect makeup all day long.

I started every single day with a full cleanse, SPF and sweat can play havoc with your skin if you're not careful. I was cleansing with Vichy Purete Thermale Fresh Cleansing Gel, and then spraying Serozinc all over. Once Serozinc had soaked in I was applying the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Power Serum. This serum is incredible for dehydrated skin, perfect for recovering after high heats and long haul plane journeys. Then I was applying my moisturiser, which is the Garnier Pure Active Moisturiser which is great for combatting blemishes. 

After a full cleanse it was makeup time, and I started with the most important step; SPF. The SPF I've recently falling in love with, is the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid. It's a formula containing 50SPF+ and let me tell you, my skin didn't burn once in three weeks. It's quite the achievement! 

So, onto the actual makeup! My foundation of choice was the Mattifying Infallible Foundation from L'Oreal, it was the only one that didn't let me down. It didn't melt, smudge, crease, it just stayed in place all day. I topped the foundation with the Bourjois Healthy Balance Powder, it's an incredibly fine milled powder which adds a bit of coverage and keeps shine at bay. I would then apply blusher, bronzer, waterproof mascara and eyebrow pencil and top it all with the Vichy Dermablend Setting Powder. I've been using the Vichy setting powder for ages and it's just phenomenal at setting your makeup, I've never seen anything quite like it. 

This combination really kept my makeup in place all day, which made me incredibly happy. Nobody wants foundation melting off your face when you're at the top of the Empire State Building! 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

People always tell me that they have a Digital SLR camera, but they use the camera in automatic mode as they are not sure how it works. Although, you can get fantastic results in automatic mode, you can really get a lot more from your camera if you tinker with the settings. 

Before I get started though, I want to point out a couple of things! First of all, you don't NEED a SLR camera if you have a blog. The picture below was actually taken on my iPhone, an SLR is a huge investment. I only have mine as I work in the video/photography industry, so I needed it for university and work. My second point is that I'm in no means suggesting that I'm camera professional, or that my pictures are perfect. This is all knowledge I've picked up from blogging and working!

So you stick your camera into manual and you've got a whole load of options to choose from and tinker with. My camera is a Canon 650D, lots of Canon cameras will have identical settings to mine, but if you use a different brand, you're likely to have the same options too. If you've played with the settings before on your camera, you might want to restore to default settings. 

ISO - how much light do you want to let into your lens?
The ISO on your camera controls how sensitive your camera is to light and essentially how much light you let into your lens. The lower the number, the less light you're letting in. I often find that the 'golden' number for me is 400. If it's a particularly bright day I can get away with 200 and if it's dark I need to up it to 800. Beware of placing your ISO above 800; a high ISO makes your image more grainy and blurry. Tinker with this until you have the level of brightness you need, change as appropriate. 

Aperture - how much of the scene do you want to be in focus?
I'm a huge lover of depth of field and I like to tinker with this option quite a lot. The Aperture or 'F Stop' refers to how much of a picture is in focus. It's the setting that has a letter F in front of it, eg. F5.6. If you're taking a picture of a product and you want the background to be blurry, this is the setting you should change. A small F Stop (eg. F2.8) means that the subject or product stands out and the background will be blurry. A large F Stop (eg. F11) means that the whole scene will be in focus. 

Shutter speed - how long does it take for the camera to take the picture?
This is an option that I basically never tinker with, as once you've found your perfect setting you rarely need to change it. Certainly with beauty photography anyway! The numbers here refer to how quick/slow the 'shutter speed' is on your camera. This basically refers to how quickly your camera takes the picture. If the shutter speed is too slow, it will let in a lot of light, but you're likely to get a blurry photograph. If it's too fast, you won't get enough light into camera. Most of the time, the default option is perfect for beauty photography. If you've tinkered with this before, try changing it to something 1/125.

White balance - does white look white?
When you put your camera into manual, you often have the chance to adjust your white balance. White balance refers to the colour balance and essentially how your camera is interpreting white. Most of the time on automatic, your camera is actually too blue or too orange. White balance is incredible important with beauty photography, as you want your colours in the products to be true to what they actually are. It's easy to adjust your white balance, grab a piece of white paper and adjust the settings until the white paper looks white. This time the settings are likely to be words like 'sunlight' or 'cloudy' - I find that these normally have no bearing to the actual weather, so don't be put off. 

I really hope you find this useful, let me know in the comments below! If you have questions on any other settings, leave them in the comments below or tweet me (@hopefreedomlove). 

Monday, 27 July 2015

There are several websites that I have bookmarked for beauty purchases and Escentual is one of them. They stock everything from skincare, to haircare, to fragrance, so it's a good place to pick up your essentials (excuse the pun). At the moment they've got an offer on which saves you 20% across the whole site, so I had to place an order.

In my shopping basket first of all was Serozinc, which is a product I use everyday and I swear by it. It's fantastic at keeping blemishes and other skin problems at bay. Escentual have a duo-pack for £10, which saves you heaps of cash! Next up I wanted to have a backup of the Bumble & Bumble Curl Conscious Reactivating Mist. It's become a staple in my haircare routine and I cannot imagine living without it. It's quite pricey for a hair product, so I nabbed the chance to save 20%. When you purchased Bumble & Bumble products over £20 you received two freebies; the Cobalt SprayChalk and the Hairdressers Invisible Oil. They are both miniatures but both really decent sample sizes which is great.

I also picked up two items which were impulse buys. The Mister Mascara Tweezers Precision Point Tweezers were reduced to £2.99, I've wanted to try a pair of point tweezers for ages so popped them in the basket. I also picked up the , because I've actually lost my old spoolie Daniel Sandler Brow Groomer Brush, so I needed a replacement. I've heard nothing about either of these products, so I'm looking forward to trying them.

You can see by the picture that I was also sent a ton of miniature freebies. Who doesn't love a sample of a product?! There are two La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL products, a mini Vichy Ideal Soleil BB Tinted Velvety Cream, a sample of the My Burberry Eau de Toilette and THREE mini Versace samples.

If you're ever stuck with decisions on what to buy, the girls who run the Escentual twitter handle are fantastic. They also have an amazing blog, which is constantly refreshed with fresh, engaging content. (This sounds sponsored, but it isn't! I honestly think this brand does social media so well!) Just tweet them a question and they usually come back to you within the hour, it's amazing! Check out the site here, I'd love to know what you have your eye on

Sunday, 26 July 2015

As I’ve been on holiday for a little while, I’m a bit behind on my favourite subscription box – ‘My Little Box’. So I thought I would bundle June and July into one handy blog post with a little comparison review. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in a bit of a rut with beauty boxes, and I feel like they need a bit of a shake up. There was a time when I had four subscriptions on the go, but now only My Little Box remains. What I like is that their boxes are a little bit different, everything is very cute, they feature some lovely artwork and even some lifestyle items.

My Little French Riviera Box (June)
This box is simply gorgeous, a sailboat sits on the ocean filled with little fish, the actual boxes from My Little Box are works of art. Inside the box we have two lifestyle items and three beauty items.

The first lifestyle item in the box are some super chic sunglasses from Sarah Lavoine, an interior designer. They are round lens in a matt, retro purple shade. The second item is a pair of planters, which you can use for your plants, but you can also use them for pens, makeup and other cute things.

The three beauty items are a bit of a mixture too. First of all we have a gorgeous blue nail polish that Sarah Lavoine picked out herself. "A deep blue with a touch of green, as if we had just dipped his fingers into a lagoon, there's my timeless colour". This is going straight on my nails, it’s gorgeous! You can learn more about it at The second beauty item is a product from Kérastase, which is a brand that has featured before in My Little Box. This is a treatment which aims to tame your frizz or unruly hair. The last item is ‘Happy Exfoliation’ which is made by My Little Beauty, it’s a gorgeous sea salt scrub, perfect for prepping for a summer tan!

My Little Road Trip Box (July)
July’s My Little Box is dedicated to the road trip, making sure you have everything you need for your up and coming holiday. Once again, it’s a box packed with beautiful items. Inside there are three beauty items and FOUR lifestyle items, so it’s packed!

First up lets look at the beauty items! There’s a bottle of my favourite micellar water the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water – it’s one of the super cute miniature bottles. I’ve been obsessed with this recently as I took one on holiday with me. There’s also a full sized Essie nail polish, unfortunately mine is in the shade Vices Versa, which is bright neon green. I’m not quite sure when/how I’ll make use of that shade, but I’m going to make it my mission! The last beauty item is the Summer Sorbet by My Little Beauty. It’s designed to be a post-sun cream, designed like an after sun to rescue your skin from sun exposure.

The lifestyle items include a Travel Organiser, which is a plastic wallet to keep your money, tickets, paper souvenirs and passport all in one place. Very handy! The next two items are from BIC, one is a handy pen from their Cristal Stylus range. The other is what My Little Box call ‘Postcard 2.0’ – a little mini notebook that you fill with memories from your holidays and post to a loved one. If all that was not enough, there’s also a mini pack of golden temporary tattoos.

So the question is, what is my favourite box? For once it’s actually a tough question, as I feel like these are the two best boxes we’ve had in a while. However, my favourite is definitely the July box, it’s packed with things I can actually make use of. I also feel like it’s been designed so well, everything works together and makes logical sense to the theme.

If you’re interested in trying My Little Box, you can subscribe here for £11 and £3.95 P&P.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Blog ideas come and go, but one thing I really enjoy writing about, are the products that I've finished. Empties posts are also among my favourite posts to read too; I honestly feel that if you've used a product to the end, you are pretty well placed to have an opinion on it. So without further rambles and digressions, lets get down to business! What I particulary like this month, is that there are a few different products in the mix.

Redken Curvaceous Full Swirl Serum
This serum is fantastic if you have curly hair that sometimes needs a little bit of encouragement. You use this when your hair is wet, scrunching it through your locks. You then get very pretty curls, with very minimal effort. What's also great is that you can use this on dry hair too, without getting into a sticky mess! This is the second bottle of serum I've finished and I'm definitely restocking. It's available from Look Fantastic here for £16

Garnier Pure Active Moisturiser
This is a reoccurring product in the empties hall of fame. It's my go-to moisturiser and it's perfect for those with oily and blemish prone skin. It's really cooling as you apply it to your skin and it only costs £3, bargain! You can pick this up from Superdrug here (you can also get it in Boots, Tesco, Sainsburys etc).

Seche Vite Top Coat
I've tried a lot of top coats in my time and few things come close to Seche Vite. This is definitely the holy grail of top coats for me! I recently repurchased this and it's blown me away all over again. There is a reason that this is raved about so much - it's just unbeatable in the nail world! You can buy it from Boots here for £9.

The Body Shop Frosted Cranberry Hand Cream & Shower Gel
You can see here that I fell in love with the Frosted Cranberry scent during the Christmas season. Lots of people bought me goodies for the range as Christmas presents, so I've been enjoying the scent until now. The shower gel is as good as all Body Shop shower gels, it really foams up and the scent lingers all day. I kept the hand cream in my drawer at work for when I needed a little pick me up. It dries quickly and it actually fills my office with a lovely fruity scent! I hope The Body Shop brings this back this year (hint hint).

La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel
I'm gutted that I've come to the end of this beauty as my skin loved it! This cleanser is incredibly gentle, it's not scented and it doesn't strip your face. It just leaves your skin feeling clean and plump. It kept blemishes at bay and also kept redness at a controllable level too. I'm definitely going to be repurchasing this in the near future, as I really miss it in my routine. 

If you have any empties posts I'd love to read them, leave me a link in the comments section below! 

Friday, 24 July 2015

When the Dual-Intensity blushers from NARS first launched, I remember being sucked in. They looked gorgeous, I loved the colours, I loved the embossed pattern, I loved everything. I'm actually surprised that I lasted so long before I caved and picked up Adoration from Space NK

I chose Adoration as my chosen shade, as I felt like it was the shade I get the most use out of. I'm a big believer in seeing makeup as an investment (is that crazy?!). So if I'm buying a high end item, I want it to be something that I will get a lot of use out of. The special thing about these blushers is that the have a wet/dry formula, which allows you to get a different finish. For a healthy glow (my personal favourite) you use the colours dry, but for a more dramatic effect use the colours wet.

The blusher has two sides; there's the bright pink blusher (shimmering hot pink) and the light pink highlighter (sparkling baby pink). As the names suggest, both of these shades have a hint of glitter. The colours are pigmented; just a swish of the brush in the highlighter gives you the colour you need, and with the blusher it's practically a dap in the colour.

The compact is still the gorgeous matt black design, but it's a little different to their usual packaging. First of all the compact is square, it doesn't have rounded edges and the lid is held in space by a magnetic strip. I love this design, much more than the normal NARS packaging, which I didn't even think was possible.

I'm honestly so happy with this blusher and I think it's well worth the money. Mainly before I prefer the formula of this to all my other NARS blushers, which is saying something. These blushers retail for £30 from SpaceNK, which I think is quite pricey. However, I think as a little treat they work, they are something a little bit special.

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