Beauty Debate: My £114 vs £40 Skincare Routine :

There's always been competition between high end skincare products and the high street. Some people believe 'you get what you pay for' whilst others think higher end products are simply marked up because of the brand name.

If you weren't aware, some high street brands are owned by larger high end brands. For example Bourjois own Chanel (yes it's that way round!), Estee Laudre own Michael Kors Beauty and Clinique, and then there's L'Oreal whom own ALOT of the market such Lancome, Maybelline, Georgia Armani, Garnier and Kiehls.  

Which makes you wonder... are you paying for the brand?

When it comes to skincare I'd never say that you get what you pay for, it's all about which brand do what product the best. So when it comes to my beauty routine, yes I do mix and match with cheaper and higher priced products but If i were to split them into purse savers and purse splurges, which would be my favourite?   

Splurge Beauty Routine - Total £113.73

Splurge Beauty RoutineSimple Make Up Wipes £3.25
Garnier 900ml Miscellar Water £7.99 
Sukin Exfoliatior £9.99
Rodial Hangover Face Mask £45 
Neals Yard Frankincense Toner £20 
Neals Yard Frankincense Cream £27.50

Save Beauty Routine - Total £39.72

Simple Make Up Wipes £3.25
Garnier 900ml Miscellar Water £7.99 
Neutrogena Hydro Facial Wash £3.99
Lacura Caviar Face Mask £6.99
La Roche Posay Serozinc Spray - £8.50
MooGoo Moisturiser £9.00

When it comes to my luxury skincare routine I have about 6 products that I like to use. There's makeup wipes to remove my eye makeup, miscellar water to remove my base, an exfoliator, a face mask, a toner and then of course a moisturiser. 

To really test which beauty routine I'd prefer (minus the Simple Makeup Wipes and Garnier Miscellar Water as I'd never change these!) I tried each one for a week and was surprised to say that I preferred using all the products in the £39.72 routine than the £113.73. 

Sukin Skincare Exfoliator vs Neutogena Hydro Facial Wash
To be honest with this one I would of much preferred to review the Pixie Glow Tonic against the Neutrogena Hydro Facial Wash as they both contain fruit acids. However, since there are other ways to exfoliate the skin I figured that this was still fair. The Sukin Skincare Exfoliator is a little messy, although the beads are small it feels like you need to spend longer on the skin for it to have an effect. The Neutorgena Hydro Facial Wash however has a gel like consistency, feels incredibly quick to apply and doesn't need long on the skin to do it's job, on an extra it also removes excess makeup.

Rodial Hangover Face Mask vs Lacura Caviar Facemask
Although I do love my Rodial face mask I also love the Lacura one so when I was reviewing these over the 2 weeks I worried I wouldn't be able to pick as they both have the same (if not exact) results. However one advantage (that seems to be a common theme) is that the Lacura face mask only needs to be left on for 3 minutes, it doesn't dry which makes it super easy to remove and it leaves my skin feeling super soft. The Rodial face mask however has to be left on for a good 10-15 minutes, dries into a powdery finish and is a little messy to remove.

Neals Yard Frankincense Toner vs La Roche Posay Serozinc Spray
Although the Neals Yard toner smells incredible I much preferred using the La Roche Posay spray, simply because It's super quick and easy to use. I don't need to pour any product out or require extra help from cotton pads. The La Roche Posay spray leaves just the right amount of product on my skin that it soaks in quickly where as I always end up pouring too much Neals Yard toner onto a cotton pad and wasting it.

Neals Yard Frankincense Moisturiser vs Moogoo Moisruriser
I knew before I even did the 2 week trial on both these moisturisers which one would win. Although I love my Neals Yard moisturiser I haven't stopped talking about the Moogoo one. Unlike the Neals Yard which is a little watery and takes a while to sink in (but smells incredible) the Moogoo moisturiser is thicker, has a pleasant milky smell, feels natural and although needs a little more effort to moisturise into the skin, it doesn't leave any oily residue. 

Save > Splurge 
You don't always get what you pay for and it is about personal preference. So next time you're considering splurging on a product just because you think it'll worth, money and the brand name don't always mean better! 

Beki Xo

(*) Disclaimer: I was not gifted any of the above products. All views in the post are my own and others opinions may differ depending on their skin type.
4 Life Lessons Learned In 2016

Okay, okay. Enough with the negatives about 2016. Yes, sadly a shit ton of celebrities died, Brexit happened and that man who I shalt not name became president of America but don't let that shadow your personal achievements, experiences and gains from 2016. 

I for one bought my first home, accepted an awesome job role, had the opportunity to interview my first celebrity (Ryan Gosling), had an incredible holiday in Lake Como Italy, fed lions and tigers at South Lake Zoo, got back in touch with old friends and met some awesome new ones. But as well as having experiencing all the fun stuff I had throughout the year I also learnt some life lessons...

Good Things Come To Those Who Hustle
I've always been told 'good things come to those who wait', 'just give it time' or 'If it's meant to be it's meant to be'. No. Sitting around and waiting for an email from your dream job, an offer on a house, a phone call from an old friend or customers to buy from your newly opened business just aren't going to happen unless you hustle. Make an effort, don't accept the first answer and push yourself to make shit happen. I (well 'we') spent 2 years in the process of buying a house, jumping over hurdle after hurdle, pushing for information when we were given delays and demanding compensation when it all got a little ridiculous. Even when others said to us 'maybe it's not meant to be' or 'I can't believe you're still in the process' we wanted the house and we weren't going to give up that easily. Finally (however many months down the line) we're in the position we hoped we'd be in, sat in the house we own and knowing all that energy used on hustling worked. Motto: Don't settle - hustle. 

F**k It, Take More Risks 
I've always been comfortable with routine, being happy with what I have and holding back when I'm not comfortable with the certainty of an outcome. But why should we always settle on just being happy with what we have? Why should I just be okay with not taking a risk and being better off? This past year I've learnt to say "f**k it" when it comes to risks. I mean, there's a risk crossing the road for god sake so why should any other risk feel greater? For me it's more a 'risk' of speaking my mind, talking things out and confronting someone or something face on when I know I have a better idea, a gut feeling or an opinion that could greatly effect an outcome. Just think f**k it, it's better to feel relieved you've said or done it and can say 'at least I tried' than 'what if...'. 

It's Never That Bad 
On the back of taking risks, the outcome will never be as bad as you think it will. Over 2016 I've learnt to think positively, if something really shit happens I'll try to pull the good things that have come from it and focus on those. You can't jump into a time machine so you just have to deal with it and rather than sulking in a corner you have to remember that things aren't that bad. Situations like; yes you weren't given a certain opportunity but you'll get a bigger and better one, yes you shouldn't of said that but maybe this will happen, yes you were turned down on this but maybe because something better is around the corner, positive thinking works wonders. It doesn't mean you're an optimist but if it did so what? You're making the best of what you think is a bad situation and that can make life so much easier as you just need to remember that it's never that bad. 

It's Okay To Check Your Social Media Often
No seriously, it is. I hate this stigma that social media is taking over the world in a negative way, that you need to turn off your phone or 'pause' your social media account so you can wean yourself off it like it's some kind of A class drug. Don't get me wrong if you can't watch a movie without picking up your phone or you feel like you need to have your phone on the table during a meal out with your other half then maybe you do need to take a break because your brain does need some 'down time'. But for most of us who like to quickly check through 3 social media accounts in under 2 minutes, every hour or so, what's wrong with that? We've become a nation of professional multi-taskers, so If I can chat to my mum on the phone whilst quickly replying to an old friend online, what's wrong with that? Social media allows us to receive information even before it's hit the news, connect with old friends, keep friendships going when you're too busy to meet up and also connect to people you'd never bump into in real life. For me as a blogger I have an online community, for me as a Social Media Executive, it allows me to provide you with news, memes that you'll connect with your friends by tagging and share experiences you never knew existing or would never see yourself. So yes, it's okay to check your social media multiple times a day to stay connected, so long as you don't feel like you need it to feel connected.

Beki Xo

The Gingerbread Gin Cocktail Recipe (*)

My gin collection is rapidly growing and therefor so are my cocktail recipe ideas. You can't beat a simple G&T or a classic Tom Collins but there's something fun about understanding what ingredients work best to enhance or marry the botanicals within a gin.

Portobello Road Gin has enough alcohol strength to carry flavour of the 9 botanicals and push them through other ingredients contained in a cocktail. The taste of the gin itself has a fresh juniper and peppery palate that develops into a red berries and citrus finish. The 9 botanicals within the gin are juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and nutmeg.

Because the gin contains both fresh and grounding flavours it works well with garnishes such as lemon peel, grapefruit, cinnamon, cherries and pear for a simple gin and tonic. But since Christmas is vastly approaching I couldn't ignore those 2 spiced botanicals of cassia bark (aka cinnamon bark) and nutmeg to create something a little festive...

This recipe has a smooth festive taste with a slight sharpness of the gin making it perfect as a short drink... or a gingerbread man bath as I've been told it looks like!

The Gingerbread Gin Cocktail Recipe:

50ml - Portobello Road Gin
25ml - Gingerbread syrup (coffee syrup works great)
1 large egg white (helps smooth out the flavour and add that frothed top)
2 cubes of ice

  • Add the egg white into the cocktail shaker along with the ice
  • Next add the gin and the gingerbread syrup (less syrup if you prefer it less sweet)
  • Pop on the lid and shake until the the liquid sounds thick and the shaker becomes misty
  • Put the gingerbread man into the coupe cocktail glass and pour the liquid 
  • Next finish off scooping the foam on top of the glass and serve
Be sure to eat your gingerbread man before he drowns! 
The great thing about this recipe is how easy it is to tailor it to your taste. If you prefer the drink sweeter you can add more gingerbread, if you prefer it smoother you can add more egg white which doesn't add flavour but helps to smooth out the liquid).

Beki Xo

(*) Disclaimer: As part of this blog post I was gifted the Portobello Road Gin however all opinions and the recipe are my own
How to create a yoga a yoga bath at home (*)

The easiest and most accessible type of hydrotherapy is a hot bath. We all know the temperature of the water helps to relax the muscles and blood vessels, improving circulation and releasing natural endorphin's that make you feel good. But how can you turn a hot bath into a spa like experience that can not only melt away the tension but also clear the mind? 

For me, I can't stand still long enough in the same pose for over 3 minutes without getting twitchy so normal yoga is out of the question (unless it's Ashtanga or Vinyasa yoga). But the one thing I can do for hours is sit in the tub, so imagine combining the meditation practises of yoga with an hours worth soaking?

Bath meditation is easy, it's as simple as focusing on your breathing, the sensation of the water on your body and keeping your mind quiet, focusing solely on the present. 

But there's a couple of extra things you can do to turn your bathroom into a spa like experience using aromatherapy and bath products. For me I like to use 2 types of bath products, some bath salts that help to draw out impurities and relax the muscles as well as a bath soak that contains essential oils. 

One of the greatest editions to my 'yoga bath' is the Organic Aromas Radiance Essential Oil Diffuser which I've previously mentioned in another blog post >here<. I'm obsessed with using this wherever and whenever I can If I want to induce a deep sleep or relax. I even used it the other day just to fill the room with an 'awakening' scent before some friends arrived as it helps to create a relaxing atmosphere. All it takes is a few drops of essential oil, turn the dial to how much you'd like dispersed and watch the mood lightening change colour as the oil pushes the steam into the air without added water or heat. 

Aromatherapy is incredibly beneficial (for me personally) as it instantly changes my mood. So when I was told that Organic Aromas had created a bespoke collection of 10 scents blended from 60 pure oils, I jumped at the chance to review them! Unlike most diffuser scents that are typically one pure essential oil, these scents are individually blended to create 10 incredibly different and more luxury oils that work together to create results.

Firstly the packing is just stunning with a magnetic closure and velvet lined inside containing 5 scents in each box. One box (Awaken) contains more gentle, intriguing scents that are quite floral, fruity and mild where as the other box (Inspire) has more earthy, woody and crisp scents, which are the ones I prefer to use when I'm having a yoga bath.

To complete your yoga bath experience, once you've set the mood and dipped into the tub you'll want to pop on some spa like relaxing music. Depending on how you're wanting to feel afterwards (awakened, revived, relaxed, calm) would depend on the music you choose but there are trillions of different types out there, just opt for the one you're most attracted to. When you've chosen your type of music, it's good to perform a couple of easy yoga stretches such as seat twists, seat forward folds, side lateral stretches and rolling of the shoulders before taking that 15-60 minutes away in the bath to just breath. 

Beki Xo

(*) As part of this blog post I was gifted the Organic Aromas Elements Premium Essential Oil Blends Collection however all views and opinions are my own

White Christmas Cocktail Recipe Ft Martin Miller's Gin (*)

Since starting my gin collection I've been wanting to experiment a little more with gin based cocktails. A good old G&T is at the top of my list along with a classic Bramble but there's something fun about taking the the taste of the botanicals from the gin and experimenting with other spirits and liqueurs.

The latest gin added to my collection is the rather popular Martin Miller's Gin. Now, I'll admit I'm always hesitant of 'popular' gins. From my experience a couple of them are a little too smooth and less flavoursome. I prefer more well balanced, full flavour gins that have that after kick of bouquet, citrus or spice. Don't get me wrong I'll never turn down a mystery G&T but I do have my favourites!

Martin Miller's Gin contains 9 botanicals, however breaking from tradition the gin is created through 2 separate distillations. As well as the base of juniper the first distillation includes the more earthy notes such as; coriander seed, angelica root, liquorice root, cassia bark, Florentine iris and a small portion of lime peel. The second distillation has bitter orange peel, lemon peel and lime peel which are all finally married together to create a fresh, clarity of flavour.

As well as their more modern take on creating the gin they also go to extreme lengths to give the botanicals the purest and and softest canvas for the flavours to really dominate. That length is all the way to Iceland for the freshest earth water that almost gives a sweetness to the gin, making is the freshness and clarity of flavour perfect for my cocktail!

I wanted to create something festive, a dessert like cocktail that reminded me of an indulgent Christmas day with a twist. So if you love tipples such as a Tiramisu cocktail, Baileys Martini, Irish cream coffee, a Grasshopper cocktail or something along the lines of an alcoholic milkshake... you'll love this.

White Christmas Cocktail Recipe: 

50ml - Mozart White Liqueur
25ml - Martin Miller
3 - cubes of Ice
1 - pinch of cinnamon or grated chocolate

  • Add the ice, liqueur and gin to a cocktail shaker. 
  • Shake until the the outside of the shaker is misty and the ice has less movement (due to the froth created)
  • Using a cocktail strainer pour into a tall prosecco glass and garnish with cinnamon 
The great thing about this cocktail is that it works with so many garnishes. You could add mint or orange or coffee, anything that goes with white chocolate works. The gin has such a clear and unique flavour that it manages to pull through the liqueur giving it a fresher, more balanced taste.

It feels like you're drinking an indulgent dessert but the great thing about Mozart is that it's 60% less fat than other liqueurs so we're on to a winner!

Beki Xo

(*) Disclaimer: I was gifted Martin Miller Gin as part of this blog post however the recipe and opinions are my own

The £150 Caviar Face Mask For £6.99

Yeah I know, I can't believe it either...

You'd be wrong to pass the makeup and skincare in Aldi and remark them as being just another cheaply made Aldi beauty brand who are trying to flog their old stock in the supermarket chain. But since the German skincare brand is quality tested alongside brands such as Olay and L'oreal from my experience of the Lacura brand, they're very much something to shout about.

As usual I ventured into my local for the usual small food shop and came out with something I didn't really need but I'm now very happy I picked up on a whim!

It was the words 'Caviar Illumination' which first drew my eye to the new 'luxury skincare' range, followed by an interesting ingredient labelled on the side of the box... snow algae.
Also referred to as 'watermelon snow', it's a species of fresh water green algae that grows on coastal polar regions around the world. Apparently the substance contains properties that when applied to living cells (your skin) helps to repair DNA and improve moisturiser to restore skin's elasticity.

The packaging itself looks pretty expensive with the cream being contained in a weighty glass jar accompanied by a small face brush. It's one of many similarities to the La Prairie Cellular 3 Minute Peel Mask which comes with a hefty price of £149.99.

The product itself is a gel like cream that when applied to skin (using the brush) glides on freely leaving a sheer film. As the product contains saliclyic acid it's strongly advised to avoid the eye and lip area whilst you wait 3 minutes for the cream to do it's thing. The mask is non drying and there for extremely comfortable to wear and remove. After removing the product on my first try to skin felt incredibly smooth, soft and plump, more so than the results i get from many of my nourishing face masks. I also noticed that 5 minutes after I removed the product that it had calmed my breakouts, reduced the redness in my skin and minimised my pores.

So what are the similarities between the £149.99 La Prairie Mask and the Lacura Caviar Mask?

The packaging
The 50ml amount
The application brush

The light texture of the face mask
The length of time in which you leave it on
They both contain acids to exfoliate 
The both contain caviar extract
They're both aimed to firm, tone, smooth, exfoliate and hydrate. 

Of course I'm unable to compare the products directly as there's no way I'm paying £150 for a 3 minute face mask but i'm super impressed with the Lacura Caviar Face Mask and would highly recommend it! 

Beki Xo
(*) I was not sponsored or gifted the product featured in this post. All opinions provided are my own

If you're as obsessed with Autumn as I am then you'll of been collecting those pretty munchkin pumpkins all month and now Halloween is over and Autumn is turning into Winter, they just don't quite look right nestled on the table.

I'm not one to waste anything and although the usual pumpkin soup and pumpkin stew are as delicious as they sound, I fancied baking something sweet and healthy... it's been a while after all.

Okay, okay. I may of bent the truth a little. Only 2 out of 3 of these recipes are 'healthy' versions but we're allowed a sweet treat once in a while right? The baked pumpkin cream cheese cupcakes are incredibly delicious but if you''re after a healthy version you can use the cupcake recipe in my 'Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte Cupcakes' >here< and just follow cream cheese recipe swapping the sugar for sweetener. 

It's super simple to make 'pumpkin puree' and there's no need to try and hunt down a can itself, as we all know it's like gold dust in the UK. Simply stab a number of holes in the top of the pumpkin and pop it in the oven for 40-60 minutes (depending on it's size). Once it's cooked, peel the skin and spoon out the insides removing any seeds. Taa-dar!

So which recipe is first?

Chewy Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

You will need:

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup soy or dark choc chips
3 large eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey 
1/2 cup coconut flour

How to:
  1. Put the oven onto 180 degrees and grease proof a deep oven dish
  2. Add the dry ingredients into a bowl (cocoa powder, baking powder, coconut flour and coconut sugar) and mix until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl add the rest of the ingredients and whisk 
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bowl, whisking as you pour
  5. Pour the brownie mix into the grease proof  oven dish and pop it onto the middle shelf for approx 40 minutes
  6. Let the mixture cool before cutting into squares and serving. 
  7. To make them look a little prettier you can dust a touch of icing sugar over the tops

Next recipe?

Chunky Pumpkin Spiced Loaf

You will need: 

1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups of wholemeal flour
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
2 medium eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil 
1/4 cup of milk 
1.5 tsp pumpkin spice
1 pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda or 2 to make is 'fluffier'

How to: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and grease proof a loaf tin.
  2. Pop the coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds or near a warm heat source so it melts
  3. Take the coconut oil and add the eggs, vanilla extract, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, maple syrup and pumpkin puree. Whisk until evenly combined. 
  4. Then slowly add in the wholemeal flour, whisking as you pour until the mixture is even and 'gloopy'.
  5. Last of all add the bicarbonate of soda and fold into the mixture before pouring it into the loaf tin.
  6. Pop it into the oven for approx 40 minutes (test with a cocktail stick, if it comes out clean the loaf is ready).
  7. Leave to rest on a cooling tray before roughly adding some icing sugar to decorate and serve

And last but not least...

Baked Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcakes 

For the cupcakes you will need: 

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup rapeseed oil 
1 tsp baking soda 
2 large eggs 

How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and greaseproof a muffin or cupcake tray. This mixture will do 12 cupcakes. 
  2. Whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar and pumpkin puree and mix until even. 
  3. Add in the rapeseed oil, vanilla extract, eggs and baking soda and whisk until the mixture is even.
  4. Next fold in the plain flour and continue to fold until ingredients are combined well 
  5. Pour approx 2 tbsp of cupcake mixture into each tray and leave to the side whilst you prepare the cream cheese 

For the cream cheese you will need: 

225g of plain cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1-2 tsp vanilla extract (depending on how sweet you like it)

  1. Add all the ingredients together in one bowl
  2. Take 1 tbsp of cream cheese and add it onto of each cupcake 
  3. Once each cupcake has it's own tablespoon of cream cheese, take a tooth pick or chop stick and swirl the cream cheese into the cupcake mixture
  4. Pop the cupcakes onto the middle shelf of the oven for approx 20-25 minutes 

Beki Xo
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