Orly Summer ~ Truly Tangerine, Basket Case & a Chanel May dupe?


I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a spring in my step at today’s sunshine and thought I’d share some Orly summer shades for this week’s Monday Mani.  While Truly Tangerine, It’s Not Me, It’s You and Basket Case are all part of Orly’s permanent collection, they are totally SS 2012 - and some of my all time favourite shades.


Naturally I couldn’t choose which to wear so went for all three at once.

Truly Tangerine is a proper sharp citrus orange. If you’re a fan of red nails, switch to this for Summer! It’s so vivid and will look amazing on darker skintones.

It’s Not Me, It’s You is a soft, but definite pink. Deeper than baby pink, lighter than fuchsia, but a definite pink and sooo pretty. I think this would work with most skintones.

Basket Case is a rather mean name for such a pretty pink. The deeper of these two pinks is a gorgeous blue toned pink, which is bright and bold, yet quite soft and easy to wear. Love it.


All three are highly pigmented creams which apply smoothly and with ease. My nails are a little sad at the moment so I’ve filed them right down and will hopefully be nourishing them back to health very soon (any recs for your favourite strengtheners very welcome!)


The above pic was taken in the shade and shows the difference between the two pinks…. they look quite close in colour in the bottle, but aren’t at all when applied.



Chanel May Dupe?

231Chanel nail polish

My favourite of the three shades is It’s not me, it’s You - the lighter of the two pinks. It’s just so pretty and wearable.  It suddenly occurred to me that it looks quite similar to Chanel May… what do you think?  It looks nothing like this pic of the bottle, but similar to other swatches I’ve seen.  Sadly it hasn’t eased my craving for the peachy Chanel June!

All three shades are available at Beauty Bay

What colours will you be wearing on your nails this Summer?



ghd air - have you been blown away?

ghd air   Katy Perry mermaid

Renowned for its iconic straighteners, ghd has pretty much become a household brand name, though it was only this week that I found out ghd stands for good hair day!  The company has created another exceptional styling tool that is blowing barnets away across the land. ghd air is a rather stylish and extremely desirable new hairdryer, designed to ‘help unlock the secret to a gorgeous salon blow dry, every day.’

Featuring a powerful professional motor and advanced ionic technology, it delivers exceptionally fast
drying and styling while helping to reduce frizz, leaving hair soft and silky.

Kenna, ghd’s Creative Director and Stylist to the stars says; “ghd air truly does blow all other competitors out the water. The power that ghd air exudes gives it supremacy over all other hair dryers I have used. Offering a perfect smooth finish; it is style and results in one”.

Designed to help create a salon look at home, RRP £99, this baby boasts:

  • Advanced Ionic Technology for reduced frizz and a silkier, softer finish
  • Cool shot button for a quick blast of cool air to fix your look in place
  • Salon strength AC motor for more powerful drying
  • 2 concentrator nozzles helping to create a wide variety of styles
  • Ergonomic design for easy handling and maximum control

Personally I think this sounds amazing and while I haven’t personally tried it, a friend with impeccable judgement has - and raves about it!  Is it too early to write to Santa?


*Sponsored post*


Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Capri ~ Summer 2012

Bronze_Goddess_Hilary_Rhoda_Model_shot compressed

This weekend I’ve mostly been making sand angels in my new gold bikini… you like? 

If only….

This is of course the gorgeous Hilary Rhoda modelling Estée Lauder’s Bronzed Goddess Capri Collection for Summer 2012, featuring gold, metallic and sun-kissed tones with flashes of blue and white, inspired by the Mediterranean Isle of Capri.



I’ve swatched some of the collection instore at House of Fraser and can tell you it’s definitely worth checking out in person.  While the stars of the show are clearly the Pure Color Gelee Powder EyeShadow and Illuminating Powder Gelee, I was actually most drawn to their quieter counterparts… Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Molten Lava and Intense Kajal Eye Crayon Duo in White Sands/Molten Lava. 

Inspired by the kajal used in ancient India, this eye crayon is beautifully creamy and pigmented and its earthy darkness a sultry contrast to the pastels in other collections. ‘For bold drama, define the eye by applying rich Molten Lava along upper and lower lashline avoiding the inner corner. Add a bright highlight with vivid White Sands in the eye corner and/or just below brow line.’ 

You can see how gorgeous Hilary’s Molten Lava nails look against her golden skin in the pic above.  Speaking of golden {*glances up at clouds*} I’ve been using Estée Lauder self tanners for 10+ years and they are one of the best formulas I’ve tried for a streak-free, long lasting, deep golden colour.  Perhaps a bit pricey for everyday but brilliant for special occasions.

As many of you know, my passion for perfume almost equates that of makeup - and this collection includes two amazing fragrances. New Bronze Goddess Capri joins the cult favourite Bronze Goddess, which has been rolled out for another Summer.  While the Capri is very lovely, Bronze Goddess will be my fragrance of Summer 2012!

Pure Color Intense Kajal Eye Crayon Duo in White Sands/Molten Lava, 5g RRP £18.00 & Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Molten Lava RRP £14.00.  The full collection is available throughout the UK from this Tuesday, 1 May 2012 and online at esteelauder.co.uk or all the usual outlets.


Brazil Dreams

Brazil Dreams

If (unlike me) you’re lucky enough to live within reach of London, please check out the hot pink gorgeousness of Brazil Dreams (exclusive to Harvey Nichols) on my behalf!  Estée Lauder’s UK Global Makeup Artist, Alan Pan will be at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge from 6th June to 9th June and is available for personal beauty makeovers.

A £20.00 booking fee is redeemable against Estée Lauder purchases made during the event - to book call 0207 235 5000.


A Sleepy Giveaway with Badger Balm & Kneipp

Following on from my Sleep Secrets post, I have a gorgeous giveaway for you, courtesy of the lovely people at Badger Balm and Kneipp.

This is what you can win…

Badger Balm Sleep Balm with Lavender & Bergamot


A gently fragranced, certified organic balm that can be dabbed on pulse points to help you relax and sleep and even used as a lip balm.  I have two tins of Sleep Balm to giveaway in the large 56g/2oz size, which I reckon would last at least a year as you need so little!


Kneipp Herbal Bath Collection

Kneipp Herbal Bath Collection

The set contains:

Warm Embrace Bath - with Ginger, Cardamom, Macadamia and Honey Essence

Pure Bliss Bath - with Red Poppy and Hemp

Sensual Seduction Bath - with Black Knight Blooming Jasmine

Valerian & Hops Bath Oil (the same one I reviewed)

Lavender Bath Oil

Eucalyptus Bath Oil

These products are dermatologist tested and contain no parabens, paraffin, silicone or mineral oils.

You can read my review of the Sleep Balm and Bath Oil in my previous post.


To enter…

Leave a comment below with your name & contact email and if you’re feeling super generous you can follow my blog where it says ‘Join this site’ on the top right hand menu and like my new Strawberry Blonde Facebook page! ;-)

Winners will picked at random: two people will win a Badger Balm Sleep Balm and one will receive a set of Kneipp mini bath oils.

Closing date for entries is one week from today, Sunday 6 May at 21.00 GMT

Thanks and good luck!

Nic x


Things that make me go Ahhhhhh….. Sleep Secrets


This post was inspired by several conversations with people who find it difficult to sleep, or even relax.  I know I’m not alone in having been through times  where I’ve struggled with these things (usually stress related) and experienced the debilitating effect that lack of sleep can have on pretty much everything I do. My usual approach involved the following…

Old Faithfuls


Camomile tea is top of my list - totally knocks me out and makes me sleep so deeply I can barely waken in the morning!  A few drops of lavender oil on my pillow or oil burner, pillow mist, a good book and a hot water bottle. That’s been my formula which has worked well over the years, but I’ve discovered a few more tricks in recent months for uber relaxation and sweet dreams!

Neom Tranquillity Organic Bath Oil


This is a true luxury product which smells exquisite thanks to English Lavender, Sweet Basil and Jasmine…  it smells really pretty and a capful can be used in the bath or massaged into the body before showering. The latter gives a more intense hit of the essential oils, as you’re massaging the oil directly onto your skin before the steam of the shower surrounds you in a cloud of the gorgeous aroma.  Saying that, a bath is more relaxing for obvious reasons - not least that you’re lying down!  I save this for an occasional treat when I want to feel completely pampered.

Tranquillity Organic Bath Oil costs £32 at Neom Organics 


Badger Balm - Lavender & Bergamot Sleep Balm


I’m very fond of this cute little tin of Sleep Balm, which is super easy to use.  It is set completely firm, so that when you run your fingers over the surface just a small amount softens to the warmth of your touch (you can’t dig into it like Vaseline). It can be massaged into temples, pulse points and even used as a lip balm - and I slept like a baby the first time I tried this. Certified organic, it is made with Lavender and Bergamot to help you balance and unwind and has a really lovely gentle smell.

The full ingredients are extra virgin olive oil, castor oil, beeswax, and pure essential oils of bergamot, ginger, rosemary, lavender and balsam fir.

Sleep Balm costs £3.99 (small size) or £6.99 at Bath & Unwind


Liz Earle Harmony & Comfort Candles


It was news to me that Liz Earle does candles - or aromatherapy products - but these two little glass jars of vital oils completely blew me away they smell so exquisite.  The only heart breaking thing about them is that they’re only available in these teeny 5cm high travel sizes. Harmony claims to create a sense of wellness and balance while Comfort is soothing and reassuring.  Comfort is my favourite of the two as I adore warm, woody scents.

These cost £9 each at Liz Earle


Kneipp Balancing Mineral Bath Salt - Lavender


Lavender is one of the most widely used relaxation aids and Kneipp Balancing Mineral Bath Salt is made with lavender essential oil and salt crystals evaporated from pure underground salt water sea.  When I first opened this tub the beautiful fragrance drew me right in and I wanted to run a bath and jump straight in!  A few hours later I did just that and found it incredibly soothing both physically and mentally.


Just look how gorgeous the natural salt crystals are... of course they dissolve completely in the bath leaving a cloudy at-home spa treatment!

Kneipp Lavender Salts cost £8.95 at garden.co.uk

While the Lavender salts are gorgeously soothing, if you want a serious sleep aid, I’d recommend another Kneipp product…


Kneipp Herbal Bath with Valerian & Hops


This is what I’d call a proper sleep potion, containing essential oils of Valerian and Hops essences, which promote relaxation and a restful sleep.  Of all the products here, this is the only one I’d suggest using exclusively at night time. When I first smelt it the fragrance was so intoxicating I couldn’t resist popping a few drops in a little bowl of hot water next to my desk, just so that I could breathe it in and enjoy it.  Hand on heart, within about 20 minutes I was sinking back into the chair and could quite easily have nodded off on the spot! 

This stuff is amazing… I really felt every knot of tension drift away when I bathed in it.  It turns the water a lovely deep blue… same colour as where the light hits the top of the bottle in my pic.  It’s really concentrated - you only need one capful for an entire bath - which also makes it economical.  I love how the entire upstairs is filled with the soothing aroma after I’ve used it (and secretly hope the children will sleep a little longer the next morning!). 

The best price I found was £6.95 at Fragrance Direct.


Silk Pillowcase ~ Charlotte & Co


I’ve fallen in love with this beauty from Charlotte & Co on a million levels.  It’s extremely soothing to sleep on (I seriously don’t think I’ll ever be without one now that I’ve tried it!); it stops my hair from frizzing and tangling so much overnight and it prevents the skin creasing - therefore reducing wrinkles! 

So yes it’s a luxury, but what girl would turn down a good night’s sleep and waking up with silky hair and smooth skin?!  Ok so it may not be quite as fairytale as that, but every little helps! I expected silk to be quite cool and ‘slippy’ to sleep on, but it’s actually really warm and comforting - I genuinely love it.

Usually priced at £35, Charlotte & Co currently has these on offer at 2 for £55. Check out the lavender pillow spray and silk nightwear too!


Sanctuary Spa Covent Garden - Soothe to Sleep Collection


A friend gave me this set of products for Christmas and I just love them… my favourites are the body elixir and comforting night butter, which are extremely moisturising and smell divine!  I’ve raved about them on twitter before and many of you agreed they feel and smell like a much more expensive product.  If I haven’t had time for a bath, I like to massage these into my arms and neck before bed so that I can drift off inhaling the soothing fragrance.

This pack contains:
Soothing Bath Float 75ml
Smoothing Silk Scrub 50ml
4 in 1 Restoring Body Elixir 75ml
Comforting Night Butter 50ml
Serenity Eye Pillow

This set £20.50 at Sanctuary.co.uk and is currently part of a 3 for 2 offer.


L’Occitane Lavande Body & Massage Gel, Relaxing Roll-on and Lavender Candle


Like most people who have tried L’Occitane I’m a huge fan and this lovely range smells sweeter than most lavender products I’ve come across.  I sometimes find lavender a bit dusty-fusty, but this smells really pretty and used together, these three products are a lovely way to help you relax and drift off to sleep.  


I like to light the candle while I’m getting ready for bed or reading my book, so that the room is filled with the fragrance.  It’s quite a gentle scent and not at all overpowering.


Made with lavender essential oil from from Haute-Provence, the body & massage gel is light, cooling and silky.  It’s an unusual texture, almost like a creamy gel that feels like a light oil once massaged in and stays tacky for a little while, so that it can be used for massage or just left to soak in.  It’s lovely and cooling on weary legs at the end of a long day!

Lavender Massage gel £20, Relaxing Roll-on £12, Candle £19 at L’Occitane


White Chestnut ~ Bach Flower Remedies

 Bach Original Flower Remedies 20ml - White Chestnut

If like me, you’re one of those people whose mind just won’t stop racing when you want it to, these drops are a godsend.  The problem usually occurs when you’re trying to get to sleep - or even worse, if you waken in the middle of the night: the ‘3am darkness doom’ when everything seems so much worse than it does by the light of day! 

I discovered White Chestnut when I was pregnant, often an ironically sleepless time - and these are safe to use during pregnancy.  Just pop a few drops under your tongue (the taste is quite pleasant) and they really do seem to help the mind settle - and hopefully let you drift off to sleep!

White Chestnut costs £5.95 from Feel Unique for 20ml or you can pick it up in Boots or a Health Store.


So that’s my sleep secrets, which I really hope are helpful to some of you.  Do you have any others you’d like to share?

This post featured a mix of gifts, purchases & samples.


eos Medicated Tangerine Lip Balm


It’s probably not cool to get this excited about a lipbalm but I’m in love with this little orange ball of gorgeousness!  My lips have been quite dry in this rather chilly ‘Spring’ snap, which is why I was drawn to the medicated balm, but this product does come in other scrummy flavours like Lemon Drop and Honeysuckle Honeydew.

It’s not just an emollient, but is packed with antioxidants, zinc, Vitamins C & E and shea butter, shea butter and jojoba oil.


If Apple made lip balms they would look like this.  The design is just genius. It’s quite big as you can see, almost the width of my palm, where it sits quite often as I have to fend off family and visitors from stealing it.


The lid just twists off and the balm itself is quite firm, but has quite a bit of give on the surface - so it coats your lips with a layer of protection in one swipe.

I bought mine from cutECOsmetics.co.uk for £5.95 with free uk p&p (always helps, doesn’t it?!)

Have your lips been feeling the cold lately? When it warms up a bit I plan to treat myself to the Lemon Drop with spf.


Butter London Trout Pout Nail Lacquer ~ Monday Mani

Butter London Trout Pout Butter London Trout Pout (9)

This weekend I wrote about Butter London Lippy in Trout Pout and promised I’d be back to show you the gorgeous matching nail polish, part of Butter London’s Spring Summer 2012 Collection.  I’ve also compared it to swatches of the lippy, just to let you see how well they work together.

Butter London Trout Pout Swatch 

Trout Pout is a stunning pink toned coral (verging on salmon pink) that comes to life on the nails and looks brighter than it appears in the bottle.  It’s warm, bright (almost neon in certain lights) and super summery!  I wasn’t sure if it would work with my skintone, but actually it’s fine - and will look amazing on darker or tanned skins.

Butter London Trout Pout Nail polish swatch

The colour was difficult to capture on camera and this one was the closest of the gazillion shots I took in various lights. 

Butter London Trout Pout Nail 

This one was the next best!  I’m a little heartbroken at all the beauties I can’t share, but I don’t want to mislead anyone about the colour.

Butter London Trout Pout (2) Butter London Trout Pout (4)

The big square glossy black lid lifts (not twists) off to reveal a dinky lid.  Butter London polishes are famous for being ‘3 Free’ - here is exactly what that means….

Butter London Trout Pout (3) Butter London Trout Pout (5) 

The brush is quite fine and the hairs are cut to mould perfectly to the nail, making application a breeze.  The brush can overload (& drip) quite easily and I found it streaked a bit on first coat, though this may have been my fault as at first it looked like it might be opaque in one coat, so I may have overdone it...  I’d recommend three thin coats for best results. 

I didn’t add a topcoat, partly because I wanted to let you see the beautifully glossy finish ‘as is’ and partly because I couldn’t find my favourite! (Orly Polishield) I did have a chip on day 2, though hopefully a top coat will address this.

Here’s how the nail polish compares to the matching Lippy…

Butter London Trout Pout Nail & Lippy compared

The colours look identical above, but as you can see below (nail polish top, lippy bottom) the lippy is a touch softer in tone - and equally gorgeous!  You can read my review of the Lippy here.

Butter London Trout Pout (11)

My Butter London Nail Lacquer came from CutECOsmetics.co.uk …. it costs £12 and the Lippy is £14. 

Will you be Buttering up your lips & nails this Summer?

Lippy was a purchase & the polish a sample.


Clinique Runway Coral Lipstick ~ Review & Swatches

I’m back with another coral lip today at the opposite end of the spectrum from yesterday’s pastel toned Trout Pout.  I’m head over heels with both shades, which will definitely be Summer staples for me.  Runway Coral is Clinique’s vibrant new coral lipstick, a limited edition inspired by Jenna Menard’s makeup for the S/S12 Karen Walker show.

Clinique-Runway-Coral (7)

Runway Coral is about as bright as coral goes and makes a gorgeous alternative to red.  It’s a great one to wear when you’re feeling bright and confident - or in need of a little pick me up!  It’s just one of those shades that I find energising to wear.  As this is an online exclusive I’ve tried to include as much detail as possible to help you decide if it’s for you.

Clinique-Runway-Coral (2) Clinique-Runway-Coral (4)Clinique-Runway-Coral (5) Clinique-Runway-Coral

I’ve used Clinique lipsticks a lot in the past but it’s been a while - and I forgot how much I love them.  The texture of this is beautiful - it’s the creamiest I’ve tried in ages and although long lasting, feels moisturising on the lips.  I can’t figure out how Clinique has managed to make this so pigmented, moisturising + long lasting at the same time, but the combination is a winner for me!

Clinique-Runway-Coral-swatch Clinique-Runway-Coral-swatch (2)Clinique-Runway-Coral (11) Clinique-Runway-Coral (13)

As you can see in these swatches, it leaves a lovely sheen when applied.  (Since my captions seem to have shrunk on the lip pics, the one on the right was taken with a flash.)

“…treats lips to hours of creamy, comfortable coverage that won't dry out, feather, crease or cake, thanks to advanced moisturising ingredients and pigments that cling to lips for an incredibly smooth even colour that stays true and stays put.”

Clinique-Runway-Coral (9)

Please excuse the spaced out expression in this pic, but it was the one that showed the colour best! I’ve tried (using non Clinique products) to recreate the look that Clinique’s Global Colour Artist, Jenna Menard, suggested for this lipstick - with slightly flushed cheeks and a neutral eye. 

You can see the exact products Jenna used with Runway Coral here (Lid Smoothie in Bit O’Honey and Powder Blush Precious Posy look particularly gorgeous and are def on my list!)

I can’t think of any negatives really, except that I would have called this Catwalk Coral!

Available now only at Clinique.co.uk RRP £16

                                                                                              Clinique-Runway-Coral (8)

                                                                                             Thanks for reading - will you treat yourself?  Mwah, Nic x



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