January 2015 Empties

It's that time of the month again - empties! Sadly 2015 didn't get off to the best start on that front as I didn't use up quite as much as I'd like, but I did manage to get rid of a few things and make some space in the stash. Let's see what's on this month's list...

Make-up


Proactiv Smoothing Primer
I was very kindly sent this primer by the lovely Sali Hughes after I met her at an event (thank you Sali if you're reading!). It's designed to provide a smooth base for make-up and help combat spots thanks to the inclusion of salicyclic acid and white bark. Whilst I'm not entirely certain how much of an impact it's had on my breakouts, I definitely feel like my make-up lasts much longer when I wear it but without my skin feeling overly greasy. You don't need to use very much of it at once either which makes it really good value for money. Worth considering if you have combination or oily skin and are in the market for a new primer.

Revlon ColorStay Pressed Powder
No, your eyes do not deceive you - that is an entirely empty powder compact. To be fair I did slightly cheat at this because I was given it by a friend when it was already partially used, so it's not all my own work, but I feel oddly proud of that! This is a really lovely powder; it's very fine, goes on nicely, lasts a long time (around 5-6 hours before needing to reapply) and is a good yellow tone for my pale skin but also doesn't oxidise the way some powders can. It is a bit more expensive than some other high street options but it's definitely worth looking at if you're after a new powder.

Samples


Electric Hair Hydrate Shampoo
This was a sample in my December Birchbox - I've had quite a few hair products from there now, and so far they've all been a success. This was no exception; even used on its own it left my hair feeling soft and nourished and looking shiny, and also had that lovely hairdresser's shampoo smell which I really like. It is a bit on the expensive side and I have loads of shampoo to use up so not sure I'll be reinvesting soon, but it's been really good for stopping the straw-hair look during the cold winter weather which is always a bonus!

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator
Which I think is a fancy way to say 'scrub'. This was a sample in a Birchbox a few months ago and I really like it. It works better as a morning cleanser as it's exfoliating, but it's creamy rather than overly scratchy so didn't feel too harsh on my skin (which gets particularly sensitive in cold weather). One thing I noticed is how well it worked on my spots and scars; even after just a few days this had helped fade even some of the angriest red marks and the life cycle of my spots was much shorter. It is a bit more expensive than other cleansers I've tried and the fact I can't really use it as a make-up remover means I probably won't repurchase, but if you also have problems with scarring, breakouts or dry patches it might be worth considering.

Honorable mentions

Vaseline Derma Beauty Spray Compressed Anti-Perspirant Deodorant - reviewed here

What have you used up this month? Have you tried any of these products?

Book Review: Yes Please

A few months ago a friend of mine introduced me to the TV show Parks and Recreation. For those who haven't seen it, it stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, an idealistic local government official who's trying to regenerate her town in the face of her colleagues' apathy. I really loved the show and Amy's performance in it, so when I was thinking about what to read next I decided to pick up a copy of her memoir, Yes Please.

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I'm going to say now that if you're expecting Bossypants take two, this is not that book. Rather than the almost relentless attempts to find humour in everything that Tina Fey does (which sadly didn't work for me - I enjoyed the book but it only made me chuckle a few times rather than laugh out loud funny), Poehler's book, although peppered with wry one-liners, is much more introspective, and all the better for it.

A mixture of autobiographical snippets from Poehler's life and essays on the nature of modern-day womanhood, the book loosely follows Amy's journey from when she first got into comedy to where she is now. It covers a whole range of topics from parenthood to drugs, but the best bits of it are when she talks about her family - there's a wonderful passage where she talks about going 'moon hunting' with her two young sons which is just magical, and some lovely pieces covering her childhood as well.

I also loved the fact that the book was intercut with various photographs and documents from Amy's life outside showbusiness, from childhood pictures to school reports and whimsical letters and poems. Granted that might put some people off but I thought it added a lovely quirkiness and showed a different, more personal side of her. In fact, one of the biggest plus points of the book is how personal it is. Whilst it's not warts and all (Poehler doesn't talk about her divorce, for example, and a new boyfriend is mentioned only once in passing), it does go into a lot of depth about the likes of the birth of her first child, as well as being brutally honest about her feelings on issues like working mums vs stay at home mums and female competitiveness.

Overall, I really liked this book. Poehler's charming voice runs throughout it, keeping things lighthearted even when she's talking about serious issues, but the depths the book delves into make it much more than the fluffy memoir it could have been in other hands. A great read about what it means to be a woman in the modern day and you leave feeling like you've had an amazing chat with a cool new friend.

Restaurant Review: Burgers & Cocktails

I like burgers. I like cocktails. So when I recently won £40 worth of vouchers for Burgers & Cocktails, the latest offshoot of Giraffe, I was a pretty happy girl (mainly because free burgers are free burgers, right?). Nick and I decided to make something of an occasion of it as he had his probation interview - and passed, thankfully! - this week, so on Monday we headed down there to try it for ourselves.




The restaurant's vibe is diner meets beach shack, with surf murals and Polaroids on the walls, primary coloured chairs and tables and 50s rock 'n' roll and soul records over the sound system. It all adds to the nice sense of chilling out (maxin', relaxin' all cool...) - you wouldn't think it was just two minutes' walk away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.





To drink, I had a salted caramel milkshake - I love salted caramel anything so when I spotted this on the menu I didn't think twice! It was really lovely, nice and creamy but not too sickly and with just the right hint of saltiness at the end. Nick, being true to the spirit of the blog, had cherry Coke :)


As we had the vouchers we decided to treat ourselves and went for three courses. We had mozzarella and focaccia 'chips' to start (which I foolishly forgot to photograph before we ate them - blogger fail!) - essentially bread with garlic butter and deep-fried mozzarella cheese sticks, with more cheese on top and marinara and garlic aioli dips. Not the biggest portion, but very tasty and went well with the sauces.

We both got burgers for our mains - I had the 'Mac Mountain', which consisted of a wheel of fried macaroni cheese, bacon and slow roast tomato, with a rocket salad on the side, c fries and garlic aioli. What I liked was that you could choose what meat you had on your burger; we both chose beef but you could also have chicken or a veggie burger, which I thought was good as sometimes you want the toppings from one burger but with a different meat.


Nick got the Sloppy Joe burger with cheese, chipotle beef chilli, jalapeno relish and sour cream - plus a whole side of pickles which he loves! - sweet potato fries and garlic aioli dip (again). Both of us agreed the burgers were a little on the small side, and we'd have liked to see more burgers in the middle of the spectrum between the standard 'basics' and the slightly out-there flavours. However, they were cooked nicely - medium-well seems to be standard, which is usually a little too 'done' for my taste, but the meat was still juicy rather than tough - and tasted good, plus the bun was nicely toasted and the fries were crispy.


Finally, I decided to push the boat out and have a dessert. I am always a big fan of food served in quirky or different ways so was pleasantly surprised to get this chocolate brownie sundae served in a chunky glass rather than the more conventional sundae-style glass, which I thought would have been more in keeping with the diner/Americana theme. Again it was a little smaller than I expected but it tasted really nice, wasn't too heavy and had plenty of brownie chunks in it as well as the chocolate brownie stick. (Also apologies for taking the photo after I'd started eating. I am not doing well with that in this post.)


Overall it was really affordable - the bill for the two of us came to just shy of £50 which I think is pretty good! The portions aren't massive so this is maybe more of a place to come for a quick lunch or dinner after you've been out shopping, but if you're into your burgers and not keen on overly bustling restaurants it's definitely worth giving it a go.

Beauty Review: Schwarzkopf Got2b Crazy Sleek 4 Days Heat-Activated Straightening Spray

As those of you who follow me on Instagram may know, just before Christmas I had my hair cut shorter - and whilst I love it, it is requiring a little more styling in the mornings, mainly because my hair has an irritating tendency to 'flickiness' at the ends. Whilst that would be fine if I wanted to do a 70s look on a daily basis, most days it just doesn't work for me. So that means it's time to get the GHDs out, and with that comes the need for heat protector spray.

I picked up this Schwarzkopf Got2b spray after seeing it in a couple of magazines and also the fact it was on offer in Boots. Promising to hold your style for four days (or until you next wash your hair), this seemed like the perfect product; after all, anything that can save you time in the morning is good, right?

As you can see from the photo below, it's very bright packaging - even when I'm trying to get ready in a darkened bedroom without waking Nick up or I'm rummaging around in the depths of a bag when travelling, I can always spot this fairly quickly. Its squat design means it's fairly compact so handy to fit into smaller spaces if you have limited storage. That said, the fact that the pump doesn't seem to lock is a bit of a worry when travelling, so if you're concerned about getting spray all over your stuff it might be best to keep this for at-home use.


In the packaging, the product appears as a clear fluid, which is fairly standard for a heat protector spray. Smell-wise it isn't anything particularly special beyond that sort of 'hairdresser' smell, but to be honest I don't mind that; in fact I often dislike heavily scented hair products as sometimes they clash with perfume or other scented products I'm using that day.

When sprayed on to the hair, the spray tends towards big squirts in patches rather than a fine mist - I suspect due to the pump action - so I would recommend combing it through before you start to straighten or focusing the spray on any particular hotspots (so for me this is the ends of my hair and also my fringe). I normally use this when blow-drying my hair and then another spray before running my straighteners over it, which is the advice the bottle gives for thick hair like mine, and whilst I definitely need that double dose, you might be able to get away with one round if your hair is fine.

So the million-dollar question is: does it live up to those four-day claims? Well, sort of. I've found it to be very hit and miss - whilst sometimes it does stay straight for more than one day (usually after I've been really focused on getting the ends perfectly straight, which I'm not necessarily sure is a good thing), most of the time I find that the next morning it's flicked out and I have to do it all over again. That said, I do find it doesn't dry my hair out too much, which is something a lot of other heat protectors do, so every cloud and all that...

Overall, this is a bit of a middling product for me. It might just be that my naturally stubborn hair is just too much for the spray to cope with, but frankly the effort I'm putting in to get the results I want isn't worth it for me as a day-to-day thing - so I don't think I'll repurchase after this. But if you have fine hair then it might be worth giving this a go.

Closet Confidential

Another day, another tagged post, and this one comes from Bex at Futures. (as is usual for my tagged posts!). It's based on a video tag created by the vlogging legend that is Fleur De Force, but Bex thought it'd be great to turn into a blog tag and I'm really glad she did - her original post was a very fun read! I thought it'd be another interesting take on a fashion post for my blog, so I decided to give the tag a go.

What is the oldest item in your wardrobe/closet?
I have a pair of pyjamas from Old Navy with various Christmassy things like snowmen and stockings and Christmas trees and 'Let it snow' written on them, which my mum brought back for me from New York in 2003. They only come out at Christmas which is why they've lasted so long!

What is the newest item?
This skirt from Cath Kidston - £15 in the sale (I know!) with an adorably quirky print. I can see myself rocking this in the summer with a white T-shirt, bright red cardigan, ballet pumps and big sunglasses.
 
What is the most expensive item?
I have a really classic black silk mix dress from Monsoon that my parents bought for me a few years ago - I think that was about £80. In terms of stuff I've bought myself, it would probably be my running shoes, which cost £50.
 
What is the cheapest/most affordable item? (that you wear/use a lot!)
My Primark handbag. It was £8 and I've used it constantly since I got it, as it's incredibly roomy and goes with loads of different things.

What was the biggest bargain?
This is a bit of a weird one, but I'd probably say my Craghoppers zip-off trousers. I bought them for £18 (they should have been £47) when I went travelling and not only did they hold up for the whole eight month trip, they still looked great at the end of it! Now they've made it into my holiday clothes rotation as they look nice as shorts but you can easily zip the legs back on if it's cold.
 
What was the biggest waste of money?!
Shoes. I am a sucker for beautiful shoes but it means I often buy them, wear them once and then they sit unworn for years. Top contender is a pair of sparkly & Other Stories shoes - they were £55 in the sale and I've never worn them *blushes*

BONUS QUESTION - Show us your three favourite items right now!
 

Red Miss Selfridge coat - my birthday present from my parents last and putting it on always makes me feel cheerful even on the most miserable winter days.
Cath Kidston star print dress - casual yet cute. Really easy to layer up with jumpers on chilly days and nice enough for work too.
Fleece-lined Converse - ridiculously warm and comfortable.

If you've done the Closet Confidential tag then please share your links - any excuse to swoon over pretty clothes! As usual I'm not going to tag anyone specific to do this but if you do feel free to post the link in the comments :)

Book Review: The Secrets of Mary Bowser

I often get books for Christmas, but this year I only got one: The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen, which was in my stocking from Nick's stepmum. I've always been interested in American history - I did part of my History A-level on the American Civil War and its aftermath - but didn't really know much about the aspects of it covered in the book, so was hopeful that this novel would show me a different side of things.


As implied by the title, the novel follows Mary, a young woman born into slavery in Virginia as the emancipation movement was gathering pace. Freed by her abolitionist owner, she is sent to school in free Philadelphia before returning to Virginia disguised as a slave to spy on the Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Initially I found this book a little slow to get going; whilst it's sold on the premise of 'the freed slave spying on the Confederacy', this actually doesn't kick in until the last half or so of the book and consequently the first section felt a bit 'hurry up!'. There were also quite a few characters who I felt didn't really serve a massive purpose, but rather flitted into Mary's life and then out again - though on balance that could be argued as representing the nature of her unsettled life as a free black woman in a country where she was still viewed as beneath them.


However, what carries the book through is the character of Mary. The voice Leveen gives her is really strong and unique, meaning that you become really invested in her story and end up rooting for her to succeed. I always find that there's something a bit 'spoiler'-y about historical fiction as a lot of the time you know what happens in the end, but having a central character who the ordinary reader might not know much about and then making her a real driver in the plot definitely helped keep me in suspense right up until the end.

Overall, I really liked this book. Once it got going it moved at a great pace, the world-building - particularly of antebellum Richmond - is fantastic, and the strong heroine just elevates it to being a fantastic quick read. It's a novel that lifts the lid on another side of the story we're usually told and shines a light on a new aspect of history, and if you're into slightly different takes on historical fiction then I highly recommend it.

Toblerone Shortbread Cookies

For various reasons, this year I ended up getting a ridiculous amount of chocolate for Christmas and not eating all of it. This included two (yes, two) Toblerones, and there's something about eating Toblerone outside of the festive season that just seems wrong. But I was at a bit of a loss for what to actually do with them, especially as I'm trying to eat less junk food.

Then I came across a page on the Stylist website of various recipes involving favourite chocolate bars, one of which was these Toblerone shortbread cookies. What swung it for me was the fact that they freeze well; even when you're trying to cut down on eating rubbish, there are some days when only a biscuit will do, Though you could also offload them onto colleagues/partners/family members - I actually ended up making these as emergency biscuits for my WI meeting last week when I realised I was on the baking rota and hadn't actually made anything at 9 PM the night before!

Here's the recipe; it's originally from the blog Salt and Serenity, but I've converted the American cup measurements into grams to make it easier for my fellow Brits:

Ingredients

225g unsalted butter, room temperature
100g icing sugar
30g cornflour or rice flour
210g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 oz (about 9 triangles) Toblerone, chopped into chunks - you will need to chop them, they're nigh-on impossible to break up with your hands unless you're a World's Strongest Man contestant


Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Beat the butter until it's light and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat again until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.

Sift in the cornflour/rice flour, plain flour and salt and mix just until the dough comes together. Mix in the vanilla extract and Toblerone chunks.



Here they are before they went in the oven. The recipe suggests using an ice cream scoop, but I much prefer my cookies to have a less uniform look to them so I just used a teaspoon and padded them out at the edges.

Bake on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper for nine minutes, then rotate the baking sheet and bake for another 9 minutes until the bottom of the cookies are lightly browned. Leave to cool on a wire rack before eating.


And the finished product! They are everything you want from a cookie - crumbly yet chewy and ridiculously good. Be warned - it is very difficult to stop at just one (though if you can resist they do seem to taste better after being left to mature).

Let me know if you make these and how they work out, I'm always keen to see other people's take on recipes!

January 2015 Birchbox

January is always the month when I tell myself I'm going to get fit... before rain and cold and darkness and life just get in the way (though I'm doing pretty well at keeping up with Yoga with Adriene's 30 Days of Yoga challenge). I'm sure many of you reading this will also have embarked on fitness resolutions this month, and this month's Birchbox has tapped into that by teaming up with Women's Health magazine with a 'Hit Refresh' theme - all about making little changes in your life to help you get fitter, healthier and more motivated.

So now for the unboxing...


I always want to keep the themed Birchboxes, they look so lovely!



And here's what's inside:



Stila Lip Glaze in Glisten



This is one of many products in this month's Birchbox that I'd been keen to try for a while, and I wasn't disappointed. Whilst this peachy shimmery shade isn't necessarily one I'd have chosen for myself, it actually looked a lot more subtle on the lips than it does in the tube and would be a good balance to a strong eye look. The product also has a nice texture without the jamminess you get with some lip glosses and good wear time of around 2-3 hours. I'll definitely be picking up some more Lip Glazes in the future!

Activbod Cooling Finish Lotion



I'm always a bit sceptical about slightly more gimmicky products; after all, body lotion is body lotion, right? So I must admit I wasn't quite sure what would be different about this product, and I have to say the jury's still out. A clear gel texture rather than a traditional lotion, it sinks in quickly and left my skin feeling moisturised all day, but didn't quite work on my dry patches so might be better suited to those with normal skin. It also has a lovely menthol smell which is particularly great for this time of year; I'm currently bunged up with a never-ending cold but breathing this in has been a huge help for clearing my sinuses a bit. Be warned though, it can leave your hands feeling a bit sticky so make sure you wash them afterwards!

HealGel Intensive



HealGel is another product that's been on my to-try list for ages as I'd heard that it was good for acne scars, which I've suffered from for a while, but also has multiple functions as a moisturiser and primer as well as a scar treatment. It's got a clean, slightly citrusy/herby sort of scent, and my skin absorbed it really quickly as it softened my dry patches but without feeling too greasy or tacky. I've only been using it since Saturday so it's still a bit early to tell if it's working, but my more recent scars have cleared up a lot and, although I've had some small breakouts since I started using it (though I'm not sure if it's the HealGel or the Caudalie serum causing them), they're coming to a head and clearing up much more quickly. I'll persist with it but not sure it's a must-buy just yet.

Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum



Apologies for the massive swatch there - this is a product where you think there's nothing in the tube and then suddenly there's loads of it! So just a word of warning for when you open it :) That said, I really like this serum; it sinks it really quickly, is easy to massage in and has a pleasant enough herby, slightly sharp smell. That said, it does make my skin feel a little tight so may be better suited to those with drier skin. It also aims to reduce dark spots and boost radiance, and whilst I'm not sure about the second part of that I do think my skin tone is looking a lot more even since I started using this (though again it may be a little early to tell). It hasn't quite made it onto the must-purchase list but definitely one to bear in mind for the future.

Philip Kingsley Body Building Conditioner



Philip Kingsley products are another brand that I've wanted to try for a while, so I was very pleased to get this conditioner - if a little sceptical that it would work on my thick hair. However, I have to say this was the biggest surprise of this month's box. It's really light so doesn't weigh the hair down, smells amazing - I used the tiniest amount of this and the clean-sweet-floral-spicy scent lingered for ages - and leaves my hair looking shiny and feeling soft but without the greasiness of some heavier conditioners. Just a brilliant product.

Embrace Matcha Green Tea


I'd never had matcha tea before trying this one so was intrigued to see what it would be like, and found it surprisingly nice. It's got a very 'green' taste to it (if such a thing exists) but is also slightly sweet, and so makes a very pleasant alternative to other herbal teas on the market. I'm trying to reduce my caffeine intake at the moment and this could be a good option as just smelling it makes me feel healthier! Definitely one to consider if you like herbal tea and are looking for an alternative to regular tea or coffee. It'd be really nice as a post-workout drink as well, though you do need to whisk it to ensure there isn't a residue at the bottom of the cup.

Birchbox Pilates Band


I'd been after a resistance band for a while so was very pleased to receive this one. Admittedly in the picture it looks quite flimsy but I've actually found it's quite sturdy and even though I've only been using it for a few days I can already feel it working. I use it round my ankles - both when I'm sat at my desk and to do crab walks during TV ad breaks - and definitely feel a lot stronger. As I mentioned before often our good intentions with exercise can be set back by the January weather so an at-home fitness product like this is a really nice little extra.

Overall I was really pleased with the January Birchbox - lots of products I was keen to try, all very in keeping with the theme, and (mostly) all successes. I particularly loved the Philip Kingsley conditioner and was also pleased with the HealGel and Stila Lip Glaze. Whilst there aren't any immediate repurchases in there, I've definitely got a few ideas for items to come back to in the future.

Did you get the January 2015 Birchbox? What did you think of it?

Red Carpet Top Ten: Golden Globes 2015

The awards season kicked into gear last night with the Golden Globes (really pleased that Boyhood got best film by the way, though I can't quite see it getting the Oscar... yet), so as I've done before today's post is sharing my favourite looks from the red carpet. I know I say this every time but this was actually a really hard list to pick just ten from - there were so many nice outfits, as well as quite a few that didn't make the cut!

Lots of the trends we saw at the Emmys seemed to carry forward: plenty of metallics, whites and reds (although pastels were also coming to the fore ahead of the spring trends), classic make-up - lots of smokey eyes and red lips going on - and simple hair. It'll be interesting to see what shows up at the BAFTAs and Oscars, but for now let's see which outfits I loved...

Kelly Osbourne

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Kelly Osbourne shows up a lot in my Red Carpet Top Tens, I know, but with good reason: she knows exactly what looks good on her and nails it almost every time. This dress is a great example of that - the slightly Gothy colour and dramatic cape are toned down by the ladylike jewelled necklace, whilst her purple quiff and the camera bag add a great quirky touch. Edgy but still glamorous.

Lorde in Narciso Rodriguez

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This is one of those outfits that could (and has) go so wrong for so many other people on a red carpet, but Lorde is absolutely bang on the money here. There's a slight Addicted to Love video thing going on with the slicked-back hair and red lipstick, but the sharp lines there and sexy bralet top balance out the slouchy jacket and trousers and stop it tipping over into 'mannish'.

Allison Williams in Armani Prive

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A word of warning before I go any further: there will be a lot of red dresses in this post. The first is Allison Williams' - again, another regular in Red Carpet Top 10 posts - in this absolutely stunning beaded tiered gown. It fits her like a glove and is just so lavishly detailed, going perfectly with her Old Hollywood style waves (though I'm not quite sure about her eye make-up).

Felicity Jones in Dior

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Love, love, love this. There's something about it that's almost a bit sort of Scarlett O'Hara meets old-fashioned movie star - I can see Audrey Hepburn wearing something like this to the Oscars in the 60s. The teal colour is also beautiful against Felicity's pale skin and the simple make-up, hair and accessories are setting off the dress perfectly.

Helen Mirren in Dolce & Gabbana

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Because it's Helen Mirren and the woman is a legend. I don't know what I love more about this look - the dress, with its beautifully classic flattering shape and jewelled neckline, or her 'yes I'm here, and I'm awesome' pose. Love the red lip too - there weren't enough of those on the Globes red carpet!

Anna Kendrick in Monique Lhuillier

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This is just seriously pretty. I've featured a few of Monique Lhuillier's dresses on Red Carpet Top 10s past and you can often tell them just from a picture - that beautiful floaty texture, usually in a pastel colour, often with some kind of girly detail like butterflies or (as in Anna's case) flower petals. They just look like dresses you want to swish about in and pretend you're a princess! I do think the hairdo is a little harsh here though and would have liked something softer, but overall it's an absolute gorgeous dress.

Emma Stone in Lanvin

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There is literally nothing I dislike about this outfit. The jumpsuit has an edge that's offset by the massive girly bow at the back, the cat eyes and nude lip work well with the out-there sparkly top, and I have massive hair envy for Emma's tousled bob. It's like the dream Christmas party outfit - my favourite of the night.

Anna Faris

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Sometimes someone steps out onto a red carpet in something that's just so 'them', and that's definitely the case with Anna Faris. Beautiful delicate embroidery, a lovely creamy golden tone, flattering shape and set off perfectly by her slightly messy updo and black eyeliner. It just all comes together perfectly and looks like a dream.

Catherine Zeta Jones in Angel Sanchez

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More red, I know, but I couldn't not include this dress in my top 10. It just has everything - beautiful shape, unusual petal-like detail around the neckline, gorgeous colour, simple accessories, and classic hair and make-up. Just utterly stunning.

Leslie Mann

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There were quite a few yellow dresses on the red carpet last night, but this one worn by Leslie Mann was my favourite. Again it's a really simple shape but is lifted by the shimmery texture, and she's pulling off the slightly clashing red lipstick and green bag and earrings brilliantly.

Best Dressed Man: Eddie Redmayne in Gucci

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It was a relatively safe Golden Globes in terms of the men's outfits (well apart from Conchita Wurst), but Eddie Redmayne trod the fine line between different and just-too-out-there with his Gucci velvet jacket. Otherwise, it's a classic red carpet look - tux with slightly messy bow tie, shiny shoes and casual tie - but the fact he looks so natural in it seals it for me.
 
Honorable mentions:
Amy Adams in Armani
Quvenzhane Williams in Armani
Amelia Warner
Livia Firth
Jenna Dewan in Carolina Herrera
Katie Holmes in Marchesa
Sienna Miller in Miu Miu
Jessica Chastain in Versace
Tina Fey in Antonio Berardi
Lena Dunham in Zac Posen

What did you think of the Golden Globes outfits? Did you have a favourite?

December 2014 Empties

I've actually had quite a good couple of months for empties - all of a sudden it seemed like loads of different things ran out, so today's post is a bit of a bumper edition! Here's the products I've used up this month and what I thought of them...

Makeup


Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer
This is a great example of a brilliant product let down by terrible packaging. The actual concealer is great - the lightest shade is fair enough for my skin and it gives really good coverage on both undereye circles and spots without looking cakey. However, the tube is just awful; it leaked all over my other make-up (to the extent I had to keep it in a separate pocket of my make-up bag), the black writing rubbed off the tube really easily and the two parts of the lid detached from each other so I couldn't open it without using a tissue for grip. That said Collection have redesigned the packaging since I bought this so hopefully it's improved since. I probably will repurchase it at some point but have a couple of Rimmel Hide The Blemish tubes left to use up to finish off my cheaper concealers and then a couple of Benefit ones, so it will be a little white before I do.

Benefit They're Real! Beyond Mascara
This was the second one in a set my mum bought me as a gift a couple of years ago, and I must admit I'm quite glad to see the back of it. I'm lucky in that I have long lashes anyway, but I did think that this mascara definitely made a difference in terms of how full they looked and helped them hold their natural curl. However, I found that it also made my lashes clump together quite a lot, which I really disliked - though I think a lot of that is down to the design of the brush rather than the actual product - and also quite tough to remove. I'm now back to Urban Decay Supercurl which I much prefer as it doesn't clump anywhere near as much, but have a mini They're Real! in my stash so will be finishing that up once I'm done with the Urban Decay.

Skincare



L'Oreal Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution
This was my first foray into micellar waters and based on my experiences I'll definitely be going back. I was mostly using it as a make-up remover on nights when I was too tired to properly cleanse (I know, naughty) or as an eye make-up remover for particularly stubborn mascara, and it did the job really well. It took all my products off, didn't dry my skin out or irritate it, and was a really quick alternative to face wipes which made my face actually feel clean. It's not something I'd use as an everyday product but definitely something to have in case of emergencies or when a normal one-step cream cleanser won't cut it to shift everything. I'm keen to try a few other brands though so will go for the Garnier one next and then the Bioderma one the world and their wife seems to love.

Simple Kind To Skin Purifying Cleansing Lotion
I've been using this cleanser on and off since my teenage years - not the same bottle I should add - and every time I come back to it I'm reminded why I like it. It's a really good basic cleanser that works well with hot cloths and won't irritate your skin (this was an absolute lifesaver when I came back from New York and had skin drier than a roasted lizard). Plus it's cheap as chips so if you're on a budget after Christmas but need a cleanser it could be worth picking this up. It's not necessarily going to address any major skin concerns but definitely one to consider if your skin is OK at the moment.

Hair



Batiste Oriental Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo is one of those staple products that I always have on hand, yet had stopped using until quite recently - since I got my hair cut it seems to look and feel greasy more quickly than it did when it was longer. So this can of Batiste has been on the go for a while but only used up this month. As with all Batiste scents it does the job well - gets rid of the greasy feeling, adds a bit of oomph to my hair and smells really nice in a floral yet slightly spicy way. I'm trying the Colab dry shampoo at the moment for a change but would definitely buy this one again.

Aussie Miracle Moist Shampoo travel size
I was a big fan of Aussie products as a teenager, but as I've grown older I've been drawn away from them by other brands. However, when we were going up to York for our wedding, I realised I'd forgotten to bring shampoo and conditioner so grabbed this at the station, and it reignited my love affair with Aussie all over again. It smells lovely, doesn't dry your hair out and is really affordable, making it a great buy if you're on a budget. I also like the fact that in the main range the shampoo bottles are slightly bigger than the conditioner - handy as I always use more shampoo than conditioner! Definitely something I'll be coming back to in the future.
Perfume


Prada Candy Eau De Parfum
Yep, at long last there is a bottle of perfume on my empties list! And I think this might be the one that turns me on to the idea of seasonal perfumes. Previously I just worked my way through my perfume bottles in the order I bought them, but then I tried this and I couldn't imagine its sweet, warming, toffeeish scent working in the summer where it could very quickly tip over into sickly. I'm not normally a fan of sweet perfume but Candy has a nice depth that's inspired me to look for similar options in the coming colder months. Probably not one I'll replace for a while but definitely a turning point in my perfume history.

Samples

Nude ProGenius Omega Treatment Oil
This was a sample in a Birchbox a little while ago. It actually really grew on me - when I first tried it I didn't like it, but with regular use I warmed to it very quickly. It made my skin feel nourished even without moisturiser over the top (though I would recommend that if your skin is really dry), sinks in quickly, doesn't feel too greasy or tacky, has a nice herbal smell and works well on dry patches but without making me break out. The only reason I wouldn't buy it is the price - at £58 for a full size bottle, when there are equally good if not cheaper facial oils out there, it just doesn't make the cut.

Meaningful Beauty Cindy Crawford Glowing Serum
Another Birchbox sample and one I'll admit I didn't like at first - I found it difficult to move it around my face and wasn't so keen on the smell - but over time I actually started to really like it. It's actually an anti-ageing serum, so initially I wrote it off as not for me at the age of 27, but

The White Company Flowers Shampoo
I swiped this from the hotel Nick and I stayed in when we got married and liked it so much I'm quite tempted to buy some!

Honorable mentions
This is going to be a new section for products that have appeared on Empties posts before - as today's post is already ridiculously long it seemed a bit daft to write about stuff I've already included in previous posts, so I thought it would be easier to mention them and link to previous reviews. On this month's list are:

Estee Lauder Clear Difference Targeted Blemish Treatment - read the full review here
Vaseline Derma Beauty Compressed Anti-Perspirant Deodorant - read more here

So not bad going I think! What products have you used up this month?