Monday, 21 November 2016

The First Time Buyer's Cheat Sheet

I feel much of my generation, generally, have it far easier than what our parents, grandparents etc. had it. However, with rising house prices, stricter lending rules and lets face it, poorer salaries, getting a foot onto the property ladder is tougher than ever.

Myself and Chris have been homeowners for about 5 month now and we feel incredibly lucky but it wasn't plain sailing for us either. So here's a little clarity on the whole 'buying a house' malarkey...

Chesterfield Sofa Marks and Spencer White Interior

So generally, most lenders require you to have a 10% deposit. My biggest piece of advice here is to save, save, save - whilst you're living at home (if this is possible) with little to no outgoings. We didn't save a lot and quite frankly, couldn't as we had little disposable income whilst renting our first home and both being on lower incomes than what we're on now. The UK Government offer quite a few schemes to assist in saving up for a deposit, you can find out more here. You could also have the option of a gifted/borrowed deposit off family. I know this isn't always an option for everyone but it is another viable option for you getting a step closer to owning your first home. Do check with the lenders on their permutations that they have with deposits.

This is a biggie. You need to know what you're going to be able to afford-utility bills and food shopping included. We didn't want to max out our budget as we still wanted to live and keep to a similar lifestyle than what we were previously. If you already rent, then you will know what you need to live on anyway. Always give yourself a buffer - don't cut it fine! Our rent for a smaller house was far more expensive than what our mortgage was for our nicer, bigger house - which is crazy! Setting a budget and a limit on your house price will make your search so much easier.

The White Company Winter Candle Fir and Berry Room Spray Home Fragrance

View & Offer
We checked Right Move and local Estate Agents websites, every single day. It ended up consuming our lives! It's such a huge step, you need to be clear on what you really want to invest your life in. You should really contact your local estate agents and tell them your budget range, area and what you're looking for. They will then be able to contact you as soon as something comes on the market - giving you the opportunity to view it first before anyone else does (that's how we nabbed our house!).  For us, we didn't want a project as we don't have time or money on our side. We wanted somewhere which we can still put our touches on but needed little work. Once you've found the property for you - make an offer. When making an offer, most people tend to to go in with a lower offer. Use your judgement with this as you also don't want to ruin your chances by going too low either. There wasn't too much negotiation with our purchase, we went in low which was rejected and ended up paying asking price due to their situation. I still believe it was worth every penny! Of course, I live in the north of England where house prices are considerably lower than those of our southern counterparts - I get that but it's all relevant either way. get that mortgage.

Get a Broker
Probably my most invaluable bit of advice. Mortgage's are just a complete minefield. Even for me, who used to work with mortgages, found it a struggle as their lending rules and criteria differ so greatly. Lenders don't favour first time buyers with a low deposit so, I would get a broker who can search the whole market for you. This means they know roughly who would accept you and your current financial situation and who won't - saving you a lot of time and unnecessary searches on your credit report. Some brokers charge a fee, some don't. Mine, was a brilliant ex-collegue of mine and got us the mortgage we needed (it wasn't without it's hiccups and sleepless nights though!). They will also run through all the different types of mortgages you can get and advise you on what would suit your needs, which also minimises the risk of you getting a mortgage that you can't afford.

They will also help in getting all that paperwork sent out and they will contact the lenders directly throughout the process - so it's perfect if you haven't the time to spend ages on the phone to you chosen lender.

Chesterfield Sofa Marks and Spencer White Interior

Conveyancing Sucks
This was probably the most frustrating point throughout the whole process. You need to arrange a solicitor so they can take care of the legal side of things (the bits I STILL don't understand!). I wouldn't do this until you have your written mortgage offer - this will avoid any loss of funds you've paid your solicitor if your mortgage falls through. Estate agents and vendors will push you on this but stand firm and protect yourself and your hard earned cash. This part of the whole process can take weeks (anything from 6 to 12 weeks!) and is expensive. Get quotes first - do your research. Be prepared to badger your solicitor to death. I hate to tar them all with the same brush but they are slow, they do have other cases to work on and you can sometimes end up forgotten about. Our solicitor went on holiday the day before we we're due to exchange and complete without telling us - which caused me to have a huge freakout (poor Chris!). Just email and ring them for updates, you're paying them a lot of money!

It's the solicitors job to make sure it's all tickety-boo legally and that the property is habitable. For example, we had searches on the property to see if the house was at risk due to being in a historical coal-mine area. Once all the searches are complete and they've received everything they need off the vendors you can then exchange and complete!

Once contracts have been exchanged by you and the vendor - there's no going back, you're now legally bound to complete the purchase. I did feel a little sick when we exchanged, it only then sank in. At this point, the solicitor will arrange Transfer of Ownership with the Land Registry etc. Once exchange of contracts has happened, you're then ready for completion (the day you can move in!).

On Completion, monies are transferred from your solicitor to then vendors solicitor (mortgage funds and deposit), once they've confirmed receipt the estate agent will usually call to say you can pick up the keys...and then you can BREATHE! There's also a ton of helpful information on the Money Advice Service which will probably fill in any technical gaps I've missed.

Now it's the fun bit, filling your home with all the things that make you happy. Which is scented candles and white marble decor for me...#basic.

So whether you're just planning to buy in the near future or just wanted some food for thought, I do hope this has helped and broken the whole thing down in smaller, more understandable steps.
Happy House Hunting!


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like LUSH-mas...


That time of year is upon us once again. The time of year where I make my annual pilgrimage to Lush to stock up on some festive goodness. A treat from me, to me.

Don't get it twisted, I love Lush at any time of year but we all know it does get a little more special during Autumn/Winter. Bath bombs are by far my favourite products that Lush do, not only do they smell divine, I also find they actually benefit the skin. Granted, this is just a little "grab n' go" of what's on offer at the moment and I couldn't leave empty handed...

Star Dust - This has a beautifully uplifting scent, packed full of Bergamot oil, which is an antibacterial that will help cleanse the skin gently. Armotherapists do often use Bergamot to help ease the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder - very apt for those dark nights and mornings. The spicier, festive notes are from the Rosewood Oil combined with vanilla, an antiseptic that smells damn good. It also fizzes away to reveal the sequin-y stars inside. Definitely not the only reason I bought it...

So White - Another clean, crisp scent which I'm definitely reaching for more these days. Bergamot oil makes another appearance in the Snow White inspired bath bomb alongside soothing Neroli Oil and  balancing Rose Absolut. I absolutely love Neroli, it just smells so expensive and it's known for it's toning properties too. This is bath bomb is perfect for those mornings when you just need to take a minute.

Pumpkin Bath Bomb - Last but not least, I picked up Pumpkin as Lush had, sadly, not released the Cinders bath bomb and this was the next best thing. Be warned: this is a fairly strong scent, not for those who are a little sensitive to fragrance. Seriously packing a punch with a festive cinnamon & pimento berry scent, this will seriously warm your cockles. Pop those PJ's on the radiator and you're good to go.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

NARS Velvet Lip Glide

NARS Velvet Lip Glide Stripped Nude Lip
NARS Velvet Lip Glide Stripped Nude Lip
NARS Velvet Lip Glide Stripped Nude Lip

My ears prick up whenever I hear of a new NARS launch. I don't think I've actually been disappointed with any of their products and this recent launch is no exception.

The NARS Velvet Lip Glide's are a liquid lipstick with a semi-matte finish. It felt a little alien to me as it, initially, feels like a gloss on first application as opposed to the conventional thicker, drier feel than most liquid lipsticks tend to have. The comfortable, cushion-y feel is down to the Oil Infusion Complex (basically a shed load of precious oils are packed into this bad boy), which makes your lips look beautifully full and healthy. The wear isn't quite as long lasting as fully matte liquid lipsticks but I can forgo that as the finish and pigmentation is so beautiful.

I opted for the super-flattering shade "Stripped", a beautiful brown/beige toned nude, which looks gorgeous over a warm toned lip liner. The pigmentation is really impressive considering the gloss-like texture, you don't need a lot of product but you can build up the colour if chose to do so - minus the flakiness and bitty-ness that you may get with other products, win. So, NARS have nailed yet another lip product alongside the coveted Velvet Matte Lip Pencil.

Now, I just need every single colour.

NARS Velvet Lip Glide's are available here at £22 - and worth every penny. 

Monday, 31 October 2016

Bondi Sands: The Real Deal

bondi sands self tan review fake tan review tanning mousse

It's a running joke between me and Chris as to how pale I am. He on one hand, has the skin of a Greek God (ha - ok) whereas I resemble a pint of milk. I am not blessed with the gorgeous, delicate, celtic skin - it's just deathly pale. So, I do what I can to get by and to look moderately...healthy?

It is so unbelievably difficult to find tanning products that don't look orange, patchy, green tinged or mahogany on me. I've tried self tanners from all price points, express ones and gradual ones but nothing can compare to the Bondi Sands range.

I'm unsure as to what made me try their range in the first place but I'm so glad I did. I use 3 products from Bondi Sands, the Self Tan Oil Liquid Gold, the Dark Self Tanning Foam and Gradual Tanning Foam. All 3 are phenomenal.

The oil is my favourite, I use this in the morning over clean, exfoliated (sometimes shaved, season depending) skin.  It's got very little guide colour so be sure to blend in throughly with a mitt. Admittedly, I felt a little underwhelmed as there was no instant colour that I like but as the day drew in, the colour developed into this gorgeous golden, natural tan. There's no need to wash off either and I haven't experienced any transfer onto my clothes. It doesn't feel too tacky and sinks into the skin quickly, so it's perfect when you're a little strapped for time.

When I need to crank it up a notch or a "Ross Shade 8" as I like to call it, I reach for the Dark Tanning Foam. As I have oilier skin, a foam is what I settled for as they settle onto my skin better. It does require a little longer in drying time than the oil, traditionally to be applied at night and washed off in the morning. It definitely gives a deeper shade of bronze, without the orange and it doesn't sink into my pores. A seriously comfortable tan and a lovely, even wear.

Last of all is the gradual tanning foam. I use this in the interim when I'm not applying the oil or dark foam. This is hands down, the best gradual tanner I've ever used. No weird smell, no sticky feeling and no patching. The foam sits better on an oiler skin than a normal lotion would. It sinks in to the skin so quickly and there's absolutely no residue so you can get dressed in a snap and it doesn't stick to your jeans. That struggle is real. It keeps my colour looking really fresh and natural as well as moisturising my skin. Unbelievably this post is not sponsored in any way, which is a true testament of  how good this brand really is.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Everyday, All Day Face

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation, Urban Decay Naked, MAC MSF, Estee Lauder, BECCA, Jaclyn Hill

With a change of hair colour, comes a change of make up. I feel like I've got my go-to products down right now and these babies are what I reach for no matter what I'm doing - I do like to add a little somethin' somethin' if I'm feeling fancy but these products are always a constant...currently...just until I feel fickle again.

First up, I cannot get enough of the BECCA Backlight Priming Perfector. It's a hydrating, glowing, smoothing primer that makes my skin feel so juicy and allows any base to glide on like a freaking dream. It's also beautiful mixed in with foundation too if that's your jam. Next, I reach for Urban Decay Naked Weightless Complete Coverage concealer which we've all heard about, but it really is a beautiful product which I use for my under eyes, redness and blemishes. It's full coverage but very creamy and blendable and not drying in the slightest.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation has surprised me to have ended up in my everyday bag. I absolutely hated the stuff when I worked for Charlotte Tilbury last year, I found it sticky, thick and drying. I may have just used a bad sample at the time but my opinion has done a complete 180 on this. It's actually a very lovely product, applied best with a damp Beauty Blender, in my opinion. My skin is fairly blemished with uneven pigment and redness and this just seems to cover without compromising on a healthy finish. The price point is pretty good too in comparison to similar calibre bases on the market too.

I'm really naturally fair and I often need a little help in the bronzing up department. MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Global Glow is my absolutely holy grail bronzer. It warms up the skin, isn't orange and has a beautiful sheen to it, you could actually leave it there in terms of complexion and highlight but more is more for me. BECCA x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection Palette needs no introduction. You can read a more details review here. Created by the goddess that is, Jaclyn Hill, the quality of the products are divine and if you can grab Champagne Pop, I fully recommend that you do.

I've come to realise that going easier on the eye make up works better with my hair colour and 2 products that I can no longer be without is the Dior Diorshow Mascara and Estee Lauder Little Black Liner. There's just something so timeless and flattering about a simple feline flick and the offering from Estee Lauder really helps perfect those flicks. I love my flicks to be thin and not leading all the way into the inner corner of my eye and the thin nib of the product is just what I need to achieve that look. I need a minute to talk about the Diorshow mascara - this is coming from the girl who has protested previously that high end mascaras are no better that drugstore. This completely quashes my theory. The Diorshow mascara is insane. It's super black.It's also a little of the drier side which is perfect for creating gorgeously natural, fluttering lashes but the formula is such that you can really layer it on without having spiky, spidery lashes. Divine.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

BECCA x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection Face Palette

Jaclyn Hill Becca Cosmetics Champagne Pop

First of all, can we just take a minute? I can hear angels singing & the heaven's opening whenever I look at this palette. Now, I don't often go gaga over "hyped" products. They generally end up not having the same effect on me as everyone else, however, this offering from BECCA & Jaclyn Hill breaks the mould entirely.

The Champagne Collection Face Palette includes 2 Pressed Shimmering Skin Perfectors, the iconic Champagne Pop shade and the more yellow/golden Prosecco Pop. It also has 3 blush shades, Rose Spritz (Lumious blush), Ameretto & Pamplemousse in the mineral blush formulas. First of all, the pigmentation and formula of the skin perfecters are insane. They are crazy pigmented and they glide on the skin like a dream - it's quite the spiritual experience when applying. Champagne Pop is definitely my favourite shade out of the two. It has a beautiful peach tone to it, which i can imagine would suit every skin tone out there.

The blushes did surprise me, pleasantly no less. On first glance, they may seem a little OTT, but believe me, they are stunning. Do not be scared of the intense pink shade, Pamplemousse, it is actually fairly sheer on the skin and incredibly flattering. Rose Spritz is a beautiful peach-pink with a gold shimmer running through & Amaretto being a warm, toned brown/bronze, simply gorgeous. These 2 are very pigmented, so a light hand is required.

It's worth noting, that this may be hard to get a hold of now but I do know you may be able to get the shades either separately or in the splits, here.

I would certainly say, the formulation is like nothing else I've tried or seen before & I'm really looking forward to seeing what else BECCA & Jaclyn Hill have in store.

Have you any other BECCA recommendations? I'd love to hear in the comments

Sunday, 27 March 2016

VLB's Glow-To Foundations

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In keeping with the clocks going forward, lighter nights and the teeniest glimmer of Spring/Summer in the distance, I thought I would give you a run down of my favourite get-the-glow bases.

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation - We all know Chanel gives me LIFE. The latest offering from the Les Beiges line is no different. Now, the colours are a little "off" for me but I can make it work. This gives more of a radiance than a dew(?!) on the skin. It feels extremely light on the skin with a satin finish. Ideal for those who are a little oilier but don't want a flat matte formulation. It looks awesome with a dusting of bronzer & a little Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder. Kudos to the whole branding of that line btw - Gisele - ugh, dreamy.

Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow - "Nourishing fusion makeup" mmm. This stuff is divine. I really didn't get along with the original Maestro foundation, it was drying and seriously oxidised on me so, I looked like a runaway oompah lumpah. However, the recently launched Maestro glow is something else. This packs some serious glow with buildable coverage, doesn't oxidise on the skin and just looks fresh. It feels so comfortable to wear - but for those with excess oil issues you may feel it to be a little much. If this is a little too dewy for you, a small amount of powder will dial it down. If it was acceptable to bathe in this stuff, I would. Ain't nobody got time for matte.

Guerlain Terracotta Joli Teint - Definitely a one for the holiday tan fake tan days. The bronzi-est of the bunch with a satin/demi-matte finish. The cult Guerlain Terracotta line have designed this foundation to act like skincare but gives a glowing, bronze coverage. Throughout the day, it gradually seems to bronze your face without looking like a deep shade of Fanta. Pretty cool concept. One thing to be aware of is that the shades are dark. Go lighter than what you think you should and you're on to a winner. You could say it's glowing on me - I'll stop now.

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Serum That Keeps On Giving...

chanel serum review chanel hydra beauty serum review best serums to use

If there were one piece of the skincare puzzle missing in my life, it was a serum. It was a case of being too lazy/not wanting to part with my cold hard cash but my skin was screaming at me to give it a break.

Not a one to blessed with baby's bum skin, I've been searching high & low for a serum that just gives my face...a little somethin' somethin', but nothing has ever quite made the cut. Until now *insert angels signing from the heavens*. Chanel Hydra Beaty Micro Serum (and breathe) is simply gorgeous. I had been given a sample whilst stocking up on foundation and noticed a difference in my skin from one use and even a bigger difference when I had stopped using it, to the point I had to rush out and buy it. It's a beautifully light, refreshing serum that almost feels gel like, which sinks into the skin and plumps it full of hydration. It gave me the "oooooh touch my face" effect.

I know it's packed with Camellia, which is a dream for the skin in itself but what struck me was how beautiful my make up goes on after using this. Foundation glides on and seems to stay on throughout the day with very little touch-ups required. As it sinks straight into the skin, there's no sticky residue either, win. Over the past few weeks of using this, my skin's texture is so much smoother, brighter looking and more even too, which is the proof of the pudding that this stuff really is awesome.

Maybe I should exercise more caution around Chanel counters...

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