Empties: April 2015

This has been a bit of an unusual month for empties as I've used up loads of products that I've been working my way down for ages. A lot of my empties tend to be 'quick hits' of samples or things I can finish off relatively quickly, but this month it seems to have been more like everything that was due to be finished has come all at once. So here's what I used up in April...

Makeup



Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation in 51 Light Vanilla
I really like this foundation for when I'm having a good skin day; the pump dispenses just the right amount of product, it's a great match to my skintone, blends really well and gives a nice level of dewiness but without looking too shiny. My only gripe about it is that it's not the easiest to completely finish (as you can see it looks like there's a lot still in there but this is after holding it above a pot to decant for 48 hours), but I would rebuy in the future when my skin improves.

Rimmel Hide The Blemish Concealer in Ivory
This is a bit of a classic product for me - I think it was one of the first concealers I ever bought (well not this exact one obviously). I really like this one for travelling as its stick design makes it really portable and easy to draw on before blending out with your fingers, though you can just as easily use it with a brush if you prefer, and it lasts a long time on the skin too. However, whilst I find it works really well on covering up my spots, I do find it slightly too cakey on the under-eye area so it may not be the best one to use for dark circles (though, as always, blending helps). There are a few different concealers I want to try though so won't be repurchasing this just yet.

Benefit Longwear Powder Shadow in Call My Buff
An ivory/neutral eyeshadow is something I always like to have in my make-up bag, and this has been a really nice shadow to use. It has a lovely soft texture which feels really nice on the eye and just the right amount of shimmer to be interesting without going overboard. I also find it holds up really well; I can go through a 12-hour day at work and there will still be some of this left on my flannel in the evening. And isn't that vintage-style packaging just gorgeous? Again I've got a few other similar products I want but would definitely consider buying this again.

Shower products


Lush Tramp Shower Gel
Is it wrong to be sad about finishing a product? Because that's how I feel about this. Tramp is one of my favourite Lush scents ever - an earthy, woody, 'dark' yet 'green' fragrance that smells like being in a mysterious forest. Sadly it was discontinued all the way back in 2010 and I've been in mourning for it ever since, so have been eking out this bottle for months on end. It was inevitable that I was going to finish it someday but now that's finally come I actually miss it a lot. Oh well, one day I'll find a dupe for it - not that I need more shower gel for a while mind...

Samples


Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Eau De Toilette
This is a really lovely springtime perfume - it's got a fresh, floral, fruity scent that's very feminine but not overpoweringly sweet or powdery. It's the kind of thing I could imagine wearing on a warm spring day in the office or going to the park for a picnic with friends. If you're looking for a new perfume as the weather gets warmer and want something quite light for daytime wear, then this one is worth trying.

Befine Warming Clay Mask
I wrote more about this in my review of the April Birchbox and found it a bit mixed. Whilst it did work as a moisturising mask and headed off my usual post-threading breakouts, I found it difficult to move around my face and didn't find it particularly warming. I would have liked it to be a bit more exfoliating too. Not sure it's something I'd repurchase as it was just a bit too much faff and too hard to work with for my liking, but it was a nice treat to try on this occasion.

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

Season's Readings: April 2015

April has been a slower month on Season's Readings - partly because I've been so busy at work (we had an awards event last week and so that's been taking up lots of my time) and partly because one of the books was particularly hefty (more on that later). But I did still manage to get a bit of reading done, so here's what's been on my Kindle on this month...


Insurgent by Veronica Roth
I mentioned this on last month's post but, as I finished it in April, it's appearing here. This is the sequel to Divergent and follows Tris and Four as they deal with the aftermath of the Dauntless attack on Abnegation and the splitting up of the factions, testing their loyalties and their relationship. Whilst at points it does seem a bit like filling in before the last book in the trilogy, the character development - particularly for Tris - is good and it moves along at a cracking pace. You do need to have read the first one for some of it to make sense, but it's worth a look if you fancy a quick escapist read.

Horns by Joe Hill
I often like to match what I'm reading to where I am or the time of year, but I think that reading this over Easter must be the strangest juxtaposition yet. Horns is the story of Ig Perrish, who wakes up on the anniversary of his girlfriend's murder - of which he has been falsely accused - to find horns growing from his head and people spilling their darkest secrets to him at a touch. Whilst it's very dark and there are some particularly gruesome descriptions, it's also got a strange heart and a wicked - in every sense of the word - humour about it that make it far more palatable. Whilst some might think it's a bit quirky for its own good, if you're not squeamish and want to try something a bit different I'd suggest giving this a whirl.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I wanted to read Outlander before watching the TV series and I must admit I found it disappointing. It's slow, which is both good - it's quite rare to find a novel that takes its time these days - but equally it's quite frustrating, which the lack of character development and uneven pacing doesn't help. Part of me feels like it needs a good editor to say 'Cut it down by half, stop trying to overcomplicate it by using too many fancy words and take out 90% of the Fifty Shades of Scotland stuff' (not so much because it's badly written but just because it's constant). I'm not sure I'll read the rest of the series but as a first novel I think I can forgive it.

Total books read in April: 3
Total books read in 2015: 16/50

So all in all, a bit of an odd month on Season's Readings; in the end, it's three romances, though all of very different natures. I think of all of this month's books, Horns was my favourite - it had rounded characters, was paced well and played with conventions brilliantly - but Outlander is the only one I'd hesitate to recommend.

What's been on your reading list this month? Have you read any of the books listed here?

Benefit Roller Lash Mascara

Benefit is one of those brands I've always had a special relationship with as they were the first 'proper' make-up brand I ever got into, via their Bad Gal eyeliner and mascara as a teenager. Ever since then I've kept an eye on their new launches, and their latest one is Roller Lash mascara. I'm always on the lookout for 'the one' mascara that's going to give me super-glamorous full lashes, so when I was lucky enough to win a competition with Feelunique to get my hands on this I couldn't wait to try it out.

As its name suggests, Roller Lash is a curling and lifting mascara, designed to eliminate the need to use eyelash curlers. Its Hook 'n' Roll brush is designed to work in a similar way to old-fashioned hair curlers by grabbing onto the lashes and pulling them up into a curl. I'm someone who's never really got to grips with eyelash curlers (too scared I'm going to pinch my eyelids with them... owww) so was intrigued to see if they could be replaced by a mascara.





Now I'll hold my hand up and admit that I am a sucker for pretty vintage-style packaging, but this is particularly beautiful - I love the beauty-parlour pink script on the tube and even the silver and black checkerboard and stars detail on the box. The tube itself feels nicely sturdy and isn't too easy to accidentally open, so I'd feel very happy to take this out and about and whip it out of my handbag if I needed to touch up my make-up.


As you can see from these four photos, in the top ones my eyelashes look pretty decent but nowhere near as enhanced as with the mascara; it really opens up my eyes and makes my lashes look incredibly full and fluttery, which is always a look I like to go for as I feel it works for daytime and evening. These pictures are with two coats but you could quite easily build it up even more - I've tried it layered up with Benefit's They're Real! mascara and my eyelashes looked frankly ridiculous (in a good way I should add!).

In terms of durability, Benefit claim that this lasts 12 hours and I've definitely found that it lives up to that. I normally take my make-up off when I come home from work (about 11 hours after applying) but left this on a bit longer to see how well it held up. In the end I was taking my mascara off 14 hours after applying it and there was still loads of it on the cotton pad. It also didn't smudge or flake during the day which is always a nice bonus.

Overall I really loved this mascara. It works with lots of different looks, applies really nicely and makes your eyelashes look nice and full but without being too over the top. It's not the cheapest at £19.50 a tube but taking everything into account, I'd say that's worth it for a mascara you'll get a lot of use out of and that will look gorgeous on your dressing table too.

Have you tried Benefit Roller Lash yet?

Women Fashion Power at The Design Museum

I have a dress that I keep almost exclusively for days when I have big meetings; it's from Dorothy Perkins and it's a blue and brown snake print, with a knee-length skirt and three-quarter sleeves. I call it my 'Kate Middleton dress' because it looks like something she'd wear to an event, and whenever I wear it I feel polished and put-together. That idea that certain clothes make us feel powerful is something I find really intriguing, and as it's the subject of the Design Museum's latest exhibition Women Fashion Power.

I'm going to warn you now: there are a lot of pictures in this post. You might want to get a cup of tea and a biscuit before you start reading...



The exhibition goes through the last 150 years of fashion and how this links with women's changing position in the world. This display at the beginning sums it up brilliantly: a wall of photographs and paintings of powerful women, from Cleopatra to Hillary Clinton, showing that power for women exists in a hundred different forms.




You're then taken on a journey through history exploring how women's opportunities to exert influence and show personality through what they wear has changed over time. This for me was the most fascinating part of the exhibition and I found it really interesting to see how things moved on.



The obligatory corsets - some of these actually made me physically wince to see how small they went.


Love this red dress with built-in bloomers and the black riding habit.



The suffragette section was utterly fascinating - I loved the mixture of turning any old thing into a fashionable item whilst reinforcing your political message alongside the pretty feminity of the black lace top with suffragette colours in the sleeves.


Love this advert for the Selfridges Rest Room!


Moving on into the 1920s and the age of the flapper. I love the gold Egyptian motif on the black dress on the right - just absolutely stunning and so much attention to detail.


I love the rope detail on the shoulders of this Elsa Schiaparelli dress.


Because you can't go wrong with a pair of bright blue sunglasses, am I right?



I love this Chanel suit; it's so beautiful and timeless.


As well as the gorgeous clothes, the exhibition is peppered with photos and video of various women - some famous, some not - looking ridiculously cool in their various outfits. I took loads of pictures of them (quite glad I did as the shop didn't seem forthcoming with postcards - sort it out Design Museum!) but this one is my favourite.




Aren't the prints on these circle skirts just amazing? I really want that Beatles one on the right...




I love the sense of playfulness these 1960s dresses have about them; they just ooze cool to me.



This jumpsuit is a great example of how clothes were being used in the 1960s and 1970s as a means of communicating political messages - believe it or not, the print is actually a photograph from the Woodstock festival. I found that incredibly powerful.



This is the suit Margaret Thatcher wore when she was voted Conservative leader. Say what you like about her politics but having a piece of history like that in front of you is really quite incredible, especially considering how much female politicians' appearance is still scrutinised today.






As well as iconic pieces like the Vivienne Westwood T-shirt, YSL tuxedo and Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, there was also a selection of items of clothing that had been donated by various high profile women from the world of politics, business and culture, along with notes on why these were their favourite pieces and made them feel powerful.



How incredible is that phoenix embroidery on the black dress on the right? Just stunning.



The red dress on the left was worn by Miriam Gonzalez Durante (Also, on a side note, I love that neither Nick Clegg nor Colin Firth - his wife Livia's dress is on the right in the picture above - were mentioned in their bios. It's a small thing, but it seems massive to see them standing alone; too often we talk about women as offshoots of their husbands despite what they've achieved on their own.)


Vivienne Westwood channelling modern day Boudicca on the right, Diane von Furstenberg's epically relaxed zebra trouser suit on the left.


I love the theatricality in these designs - Lady Gaga's Gareth Pugh dress (made entirely of bin bags) and Skin from Skunk Anansie's bird-like stage jackets.


Moving on into the 80s... How amazingly over-the-top are those power suits? Not something I'd wear at all but they just give off an amazing 'don't mess with me' aura.


The iconic dress from Robert Palmer's 'Addicted to Love' video.


I love these two dresses - the one on the right is Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel (that train reminds me of a peacock's tail) and the one on the left is Jean Paul Gaultier. They both have this playful yet sexy quality to them which really appeals to me.


Katharine Hamnett's iconic slogan T-shirts. The photo of her wearing the 'Vote Tactically' seems strangely appropriate right now...


Red and leopard print is a classic combination and this Charlotte Olympia perspex clutch is a perfect match for the red shoes.



More shoes! Louboutins on the top, Manolo Blahniks (and an amazing sketch) on the bottom.


Amazing Philip Treacey hats. I love the one on the right that looks like a cross between a mohawk and a bird of paradise.


The noughties in four outfits: Samantha Cameron's grey polka dot dress (is it wrong that I actually really like this and would wear it myself?), pink Juicy Couture velour tracksuit, adorably sweet Kate Moss for Topshop white dress...


... and the legend that is the Roland Mouret Galaxy. God I love that dress, it's such a classic.


The final image of the exhibition; Lily Allen looking like she's stepped straight out of the 1950s in a pink convertible.

Women Fashion Power is at the Design Museum until 26 April and tickets cost £13 - though you do get access to the whole museum for that, including their current Designer of the Year exhibition. I would really recommend it if you love fashion and the role it's played in women's changing status in society; this is a whistle-stop tour through the history of modern women via the most amazing outfits and, although it feels like a lot is packed it, it's definitely worth it. Go go go!