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The Fantail Brush: Review and First Impressions

15 Apr

fantail brush 006

Let me be honest about fantail brushes. I had never used a fantail brush before, I had always thought that it was just a frivolous product which wasn’t really necessary. Then I was contacted by the lovely The Vintage Cosmetic Company about the launch of their new fantail brush – I was definitely intrigued.

The brush came in the mail wrapped in a very cute ribbon. My immediate impressions were that the brush was smaller than expected, and that it was a hundred times softer than expected. For some reason, I had always thought that fantail brushes are prickly! This one is the absolute opposite of prickly, and it feels so luxurious on my face.

I wasn’t sure what to use the brush for, so I looked at The Vintage Cosmetic Company’s little “instructions”, which basically said that I could use it for a number of things. I decided to apply foundation, concealer and face powder as normal, and then proceeded to apply the rest of my face products (blusher, bronzer and highlighter) using my new fantail brush.

For bronzer, I dipped the brush into some Bourjois Delice de Poudre bronzer. It didn’t pick up much, but that’s usually the case with that bronzer anyway (regardless of the brush). So I moved on to another bronzer – an MUA one – and this time it picked up a good amount of product along its bristles. I applied it underneath my cheekbones, but I had no idea how to do it properly, so I ended up with a very defined line of brown powder across my cheeks. Panicking, I almost decided to wipe it all off and start from scratch, but instead, I tried to blend the bronzer out with the fantail brush itself. This worked pretty well, and that’s probably because this brush is also known to be great at blending or removing excess make-up. I still needed to blend it out with my fingers a little bit, so that totally taught me not to draw an actual LINE of bronzer on my face next time.

I then moved on to some blusher. I moved the fantail brush across some blusher from The Balm, and swept the brush across my cheeks in an almost diagonal motion, sweeping up towards my temples. This worked brilliantly, because usually the blusher I used would have applied itself a little too heavily, and I usually need to spend ages blending it out so I don’t look too red-cheeked. This time I even had to add a touch of product and was able to blend it out for a really natural look. Definitely super-happy about this brush at this point.

Oh my. Then things got super dandy. I swiped the brush on some highlighter and swept it on the tops of my cheeks. What a lovely sprinkling of glow that gave me. The brush made it so easy to distribute the product on the parts of my face that I wanted, while also letting me blend everything together effortlessly. It’s all about the narrow top part (for application) and the fan part (for blending and distributing product in a natural way).

fantail brush 003

So this brush turned out to be:

  • Incredibly soft.
  • Able to pick up a good amount of product (i.e. blusher/bronzer/highlighter/etc.).
  • Excellent for use with a bunch of different face products, and it worked fantastically for all of them.
  • Pretty darn awesome.
  • A high quality + very pretty item. I’m also keeping the bow on for a while. :)

I would have never thought of picking something like this up. Now, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a staple in my brush collection. It seems like it will last a long time too, since the bristles are densely packed and super soft, and the brush handle is sturdy and it’s all very well-made.


And what’s even more splendid – products from The Vintage Cosmetic Company are available on – i.e. FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING. The fantail brush doesn’t seem to be stocked there just yet, but there are tonnes of other products to skim through for now, and you can get the fantail brush from other places. (Their own website seems to have free shipping too! That’s splendid.)

This gorgeous fantail brush was graciously provided as a PR sample by The Vintage Cosmetic Company


Anti-Cancer Mushroom Soup

31 Jan

Durham Jan 2013, Lush, Venus 094

I made this amazing mushroom soup today. It’s from a site called Stonesoup, and I had been meaning to make this soup for months, especially since I’ve had so much success with her chilli oil (she has recipe videos and everything).

Is it just me, or are homemade soups the tastiest?


Is it just me, or does soup take forever to prepare?

I loved it oh-so-much, but I doubt I’ll make it again if it’s just for a quick meal. Maybe I should make large batches and freeze a few portions?

The taste is heavenly, but my aversion to spending more than two minutes in the kitchen means that stuff-from-scratch is a rarity.

If anyone decides to make this, it really isn’t a difficult recipe at all – just chop up onion + garlic + mushrooms and whirl them around in a pot for a while. That is basically it. Delicious.

LUSH Let the Good Times Roll cleanser review

18 Dec

So this was supposed to be a Clarisonic Mia review. I was using the Clarisonic for a couple of months, and then I was only using it on-and-off, and then I purchased the subject of today’s post (the LUSH Let the Good Times Roll facial cleanser), and I never looked back. I’ve actually not used my Clarisonic since!  (Although I promise that there will be a Clarisonic review some time soon-ish!)

This cleanser is quite strange (similar to the LUSH Angels on Bare Skin one), but while Angels on Bare Skin smells like lavender and doesn’t have the most fantastic consistency, Let the Good Times Roll is the new Best Thing Ever. It contains corn oil, polenta, maize flour, CINNAMON(!) and actual bits of popcorn for extra exfoliation.

The smell of this cleanser is addictive; and I’ve actually  nibbled at it (it’s not pleasant) because it smells so good.

Its cleansing properties are very effective, and after you take a little chunk of it and mix it with a small amount of water, it’s the perfect consistency to gently rub all over your face. As I said, the smell is divine, and it exfoliates exceptionally well. I can’t believe that this is a limited edition product! I hope it won’t be too difficult to purchase again.

The product comes in little tubs, and the expiry date of my product is early February, which is a pity in my opinion, since I don’t think I’m going to finish even two-thirds of it by then.

An absolutely splendid product. Highly recommended.


Sanctuary Spa Winter Facial-in-a-Box (review)

7 Dec

Sanctuary Spa (Covent Garden) Winter Facial in a Box

Yesterday I had a free morning which I set aside for a little pampering session. My face was feeling a little tired (check out the BEFORE picture below…), and the Sanctuary Spa Winter Facial in-a-box was the perfect relaxing treat. Let’s get this straight: I loved it. And I wasn’t expecting to. I expected icky creams and a lot of standing around waiting for things to “sink in”. The whole process was actually very relaxing and straightforward. The steps were easy to follow, and the products all smelled amazing. The consistency of each product was also very soothing (particularly the face mask – more about that soon).

The box costs £20 and the whole spa-like treatment should last around 30 minutes.

The products in the box – little tubes, a mask sachet, and there’s a muslin cloth hidden underneath the sachet!

The box had really handy step-by-step instructions, and they weren’t in a flimsy leaflet but printed on the inside part of the flap that opens the box. This was really useful, because everything was laid out and ready to use.

The back of the box had some extra information (and ingredients) – which I’m including here so that you can get an idea of the products’ ingredients.

There’s the muslin cloth I referred to earlier!

The box also suggested soothing music and a fragrant candle. I followed the instructions dutifully, and the candle really added to the calming effect (I never light candles when I’m washing my face, so this was cool).

First, I cleansed my skin with the hot cloth cleanser. I’ve never tried anything like this (I’m dying to try the Liz Earle one!), and this way of cleansing felt so thorough and satisfying. I did have to use quite a lot of the cleanser cream to cover my entire face though.

The cleanser.

Then I exfoliated my skin with this scrub. The tiny beads in it were a little rough, but there were very few of them (unlike the St Ives Apricot Scrub for example), and the scent was SO GOOD.

The scrub.

Then I swept some serum over my face, neck and “décolletage” (tee hee), and relaxed for a few minutes.

The serum.

WARNING: THE SCARY PART. I then applied the face mask, which was incredibly smooth – and it gives the most curious sensation: it first goes warm and then cools – really cool.

The face mask!

Then there was an eye gel step, with a little going a long way.

Eye gel.

And finally, I patted on some moisturiser with SPF. I blew out my candle, and carried on with my day. SUCH an easygoing process.

A couple of before and after photos:

BEFORE: my tired face.

AFTER: my relaxed + pleased face (what a selfie… you can see me in the mirror and everything)

My face was so soft and touchable after this facial-in-a-box (boyfriend-approved as well) and I’m still seeing the effects a day later. What’s really great is that there’s TONNES left, so this isn’t just a one-time facial, but I think I can get up to four more uses (or maybe five?) out of the box. I could also use any left over products on their own (and they each have their own instructions on the backs of the tubes).

This box would also be an ideal Christmas present – I could see all sorts of people enjoying this (and people of all ages). Please let me know if you’ve tried this out and what you think of it. I’m definitely going for a stroll by the Sanctuary aisle at the Durham Boots when I’m in England in a few weeks’ time.

[Disclaimer: I was generously sent this super-awesome box for free, but I was under no obligation to review it or mention it in any way. Let me know if you have any questions about this.]

The March 2012 JolieBox

2 May

This is a little late, but I wanted to share it with you anyway. I ordered my first ever JolieBox in March, and I was very pleased with it. As a new subscriber, I even received a little extra treat (the Jane Iredale Just Kissed cheek and lip stain, below). This is actually supposed to change colour according to your mood or skin tone or something – which is quite strange – but I really think it’s a lovely little sample, and I really like it.

I originally ordered this box because I had read that this was going to be a box full of full-size products (apart from the stain which was a bonus). There were four full-size products, the lip and cheek stain as a bonus, and an EXTRA bonus – a little JolieBox mirror, which is really light and thin, and I’ve found it super handy to keep in my bag.

Out of the four other products, I was impressed by the huge 200ml Yardley Luxury Body Wash in Peony. The smell of it is amazing, and I think peonies are such fancy, lovely flowers. I haven’t used it yet because I might give it as a part of a present some time soon… :)

The nail polish is LCN nail polish, in a shimmery pinky shade. I put this on but it really didn’t suit me, and I’m not very fond of how iridescent and sheer it is. It retails at £5.50, but I’m definitely not buying one of these any time soon. I don’t think I’ll even ever wear it again.

There was also the Davines Authentic Moisturising Balm, which is 98% natural, and you can use it on your face, hair and body – although I’m only using it on my face. It’s quite an odd product, since you have to put it on your damp hair/body, and then after a few minutes you rinse it off. I’m not really keen on standing in my shower with the water off, so I’m only using this on my face – but I am very impressed by it as a face balm – it’s definitely moisturising and all-natural, while also taking any extra traces of make-up off.

Finally, there was an Eyeko Skinny Eyeliner in a brownish shade, which I have used a couple of times, but I’m not very pleased with it. The shade is a bit yucky, and the eyeliner itself isn’t performing as well as some of my other eyeliners do. I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but it goes on all smudgy and patchy. I’ll use it again, but will be steering clear of these eyeliners if I ever want to purchase one. Although the worst thing about it is probably the colour, which is more of a personal thing.

So that was my March JolieBox! There was also a little magazine – the JolieMag – inside, but I haven’t given it a proper flick-through yet. I wish these services were available in Malta – but I can understand how it is way too small a market for something like this. Hopefully some foreign Beauty Boxes will start shipping to other countries (e.g. EU countries – please?), so that Maltese girls can also sample some delightful brands.

JolieBox is £10 a month, plus P&P which is £2.95.

I cancelled my subscription after receiving the March box, but I’ve re-subscribed again for the May box (they had a special re-subscribing offer which meant that the box was about £5 cheaper!). I love receiving these boxes in the mail, and I’m very aware that sometimes they’re not all that worth the money, but I do not get one of each every month (usually just one every month or two), and I’ve found some really great products in most boxes. Sample-sized products are also fantastic for a traveller like me. =)

Mini-Review: Baldry’s (a tearoom in the heart of the Lake District)

24 Apr

Last February, when my parents visited, we went on a Grand Day Trip to the Lake District. Lovely place. Very picturesque. One of my most favourite regions in the world.

We stopped over for a stroll in a beautiful village called Grasmere (GO THERE.) and we were in need of a little late afternoon snack and beverage. We popped into this place called Baldry’s, a delightful little tearoom. (Actually, it wasn’t that little at all. It was lovely and spacious, yet not too large – I hate overly large restaurants/cafeterias – like Slug and Lettuce in Durham – that’s ridiculously huge.)

Anyway, on to the good stuff. And it’s mostly all good. The only bad thing I can think of about this place is that it was a little expensive, but such good value. You might be spending £3-4 on a beverage, but it’s going to be AMAZING. (And when your parents are paying, it’s even better…) =)

This is what I had:

A hot drink – it was some spiced apple concoction: really delicious. And a scone. With jam and butter. And look at that saucer! And the little containers! All so stylish. The scone was one of the best I’d ever tasted. I mean, look at it:

In the blurred background you can make out my boyfriend’s choice of snack: a flapjack – also on a flowery saucer, also delicious.


There was a wide array of treats and drinks, with even full-on meals being offered, and there were lots of specials on chalkboards – you’ll definitely find the perfect thing to nibble on.


In Grasmere, right in the middle of the Lake District. Such a gorgeous village.

The service:

Thoroughly amusing. The man who served us was very loud, very friendly, and quite a joker. These were all very good things, though! He was absolutely lovely, and his attention to detail and comments about our choices made us feel incredibly welcome, and as though we were regulars.


I was cooing at everything. It was all very sophisticated yet homely. Lots of tables, lots of pretty crockery – a job well done.

The quality of the food:


All in all, we were very impressed by the whole experience. Definitely popping back if I’m ever in Grasmere again. And even if I’m ever remotely in that area, I am making a deliberate detour to visit this beautiful tearoom once again. I hear their lemon meringue is good too.

I wish they’d open a branch in Durham. Please?

She Said Beauty Box March 2012 Review

1 Mar

I’ve always been quite a fan of beauty boxes (the first time I heard about the American Birchboxached for one), and ever since I moved to the UK last September I just knew that I’d be ordering a few for myself (finally!).

I’ve received some Glossyboxes, Feel Unique beauty boxes (sadly discontinued), and Carmine beauty boxes. Most of them have introduced me to some really lovely products (even though they’re often too expensive for poor Claire the student to purchase full size). I usually only get a box after I’ve seen what it contains (I find out from blogs and youtube videos usually), but went I heard that there was a new beauty box available and that the first one was being sold at a reduced price, I thought “why not?”, and hoped that since it was the company’s first box, they’d be trying to impress.

So on to the review! I received the She Said Beauty box this morning, and it seems that I’m one of the first, which is brilliant. Since I’ve received quite a few other beauty boxes, I was eager to compare and contrast.

First impressions: the bright pink mailing box was very cheerful, but I almost spilled out the beauty box’s contents when trying to lift it out of the mailing box, due to the actual box being a little flimsy with a (not very strong) magnetic closure.

I lifted the box out (safely), and immediately realised that the quality of the actual box of the beauty box was much poorer than others. Glossybox, for example, have gorgeous and very sturdy boxes, whereas this is one which I might actually throw out (SHOCK! HORROR! – Because I adore boxes and hardly ever throw them out). It started falling apart as soon as I tried to open it. However, the design of the box is a lovely and very bright greeny-turquoise.

The packaging inside was your typical pink tissue paper (which was actually awfully crumpled), taped with a sticker and tied with a pink ribbon. I love ribbons.

Inside I could see the box’s card, with a welcome message and product information (on the flip side). As I turned the card I got a peek of the box’s contents. Nothing caught my eye with incredible excitement, but I was still very curious about what I had gotten.

More on the packaging: most beauty boxes have their products nestled in shredded paper, which is quite nice, but this shredded paper reminded me a little too much of straw and hay, so I’m not too sure about the luxury feel that it gave off (it was a certain lack of luxury feel). Also: as soon as I opened the box there was a really horrid chemical-y smell that came out – a definite turn-off, let me tell you.

I realised that they had put in a “bonus” item in the box – that of a very decadent looking Jing Flowering Dragon Eye Tea – which seems lovely and would probably make lots of English girls very excited – and I may be a UK resident, but I am still not a tea lover, so that item will have to be passed on to a friend.

The first item I looked at (after the tea) was an Orly nail polish in the colour Ancient Jade, which seems lovely, and oddly close to the nail polish I’m wearing right now (which I got at Primark for 50p). It seems to be full size though, so it’s a £5 product.

Then I realised that there was another bonus product in the box, because underneath everything I saw a large Orly nail file (nestled in the hay). I think that’s a very good bonus. I don’t have a nail file in the UK, so that’s awesome.

Then I noticed a “comfort zone” leaflet, which I tried to read but it was all bendy and weirdly shaped, so I just put it back down when I realised that it’s not a product. The comfort zone sample in the box is a “good night kit”, which is a face night anti-oxidant kit for stressed skin. It contains two teeny samples. I’m excited to try these out. Full size this would cost £52.95, ouch.

Then I picked up what I thought was a lip gloss, but oh no, it’s a Collection 2000 Cream Puff Moisturising Lip Cream, which seems like a lipstick in a cream form! I’m very intrigued about it, and when I swatched it on my hand it looked divine. I wasn’t too happy when I saw that it was a Collection 2000 product, since I could get it from Boots in a heart beat, and they’re very cheap products, but this might prove to be quite lovely. AND it’s a full size product (costing £2.99). AND if I really love it, it’s going to be really easy to purchase.

Then I opened a little box with Aveda products inside. It contains THREE hair product samples! This is a very generous box. They’re tiny samples, but I’m sure I’ll get one or two uses out of them, and they’re quite pricey for hair products – £15.50 (shampoo), £17.50 (conditioner), £18.50 (style-prep smoother).

The final product was hidden in a hole-of-hay, but when I fished it out I was very pleased. It is Premae Harmony Face Balm, and claims to moisturise the skin without over-greasing. I used a tiny bit of it and really liked it. It smells subtly like mangoes, and the full size 50ml product would be £18 (ouch!).

Apparently other people got false eyelashes instead of the face balm – which would could have been a very lovely product to try out as well – even though I’ve never worn falsies, and the only time I tried I failed oh-so-miserably. (Maybe it was because they were £1 ones from Poundland…) However, I much prefer the face balm sample.

Overall impression: I like this box. Lots of little products to try, and a few full size ones as well. Very well-balanced too. I might stick around for next month’s box! =)

Specifications: it’s a £9 box, with £2.95 for postage and packaging. This first box is now sold out, but the second one still seems to have the 25% discount (if it’s your first one).

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