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These Days

So, the world’s a bit weird now, huh?

Gone are the days of me finding £20 flights to God-Knows-Where and flying on a whim. Gone are the days of planning elaborate multi-country/state trips and getting excited about them months in advance. Gone are the days of, well, venturing outside our front doors, really.

I understand the importance of what we’re doing, of course I do… but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t miss my old travel habits. Programmes like Race Across The World and Travel Man are so fun to watch, but my God do they make me miss hopping on flights/buses/whatever and going somewhere new.

Until all of this is over, or at least managed somewhat better than it is now , I thought it’d be a good idea to bring you the world virtually. Here are a list of webcams of places I’m bucket-listing for when this ends, travel-related games and quizzes, and a few other bits and bobs thrown in for shits and giggles. I hope it brings a smile to your face and allows you to travel away from this weird new reality, even if it’s just in your imagination for now.

Webcams

Australia – Moana Beach
Australia – Sydney Harbour Bridge
Brazil – Ponta Negra Beach, Natal
Canada – Alberta Central Memorial Park
Canada – Quebec’s Parliament Square
China – Senado Square, Macau
China – Panda Cam! (Contains sound)
Croatia – Port of Split
France – Sacre Coeur Basilica, Paris
France – St Pierre Port, Potiniere and Porquerolles, Provence
Greece – Morosini Lions Fountain, Crete
Greece – Oia, Santorini
Iceland – Stykkishólmur Town
Israel – Tel Aviv Marina & Beachfront
Japan – Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo  (read about my visit here!)
Mexico – Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
Mexico – Playa Camaron, Mazatlan
New Zealand – Waikawa Boating Club, Marlborough 
Russia – Kolomyazhskiy Avenue, St Petersburg
Singapore – South Singapore
South Africa – Tembe Elephant Park, KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa – Sea Point Promenade, Cape Town
South Korea – Myeongdong Cathedral, Seoul
Thailand – Haad Rin Beach, Ko Phangan 
USA – Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
USA – Humpback Whale Sanctuary, Maui, Hawaii
USA – Castro Street, San Francisco, California 
Vietnam – Hải Châu, Da Nang
The Moon 🙂

Travel Games & Quizzes

GeoGuessr– I used to play this constantly – basically, you have to guess where you are in the world (via Google Street View), and the closer you are, the more points you get. In order to play, you can sign up for a free account (but there’s a limit to how many games you can play a day – there’s the option to sign up for a Pro account where the games are unlimited, but sadly this isn’t free). You can play with friends too, if the quarantine life has got you missing your nearest and dearest and HouseParty just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Traveler IQ Challenge – A fun little game (that requires Flash to be enabled) where you have to try and pinpoint the location of some cities and countries on a map of the world. It does have some really obnoxious sound effects, so I’d put it on mute if I were you.

Sporcle – Not technically a travel website, but it does have a geography section! The world’s most popular quiz website – literally thousands of free quizzes to challenge your grey matter.

Media

Youtube – I’ve listed some of my favourite travel Youtube channels below… watch the world through their eyes!
Travel Channel
National Geographic
Travel Insider
The Points Guy UK
Kara & Nate
The Budgeteers

Spotify – I’m a HUGE fan of music, and love the way it can transport you to somewhere completely new. I made a bunch of travel-inspired playlists featuring artists from all over specific continents a few years ago – why not have a listen to a few and see if they can evoke a memory of travels gone by for you?
African Mix
Asian Mix
Australasian Mix
British Mix
European Mix
North American Mix
South American Mix
Chillout: Hawaiian
Ibiza Sunset
LA Dreamin’
NYC Dreamin’
Travel – Total Mix
States Road Trip

I hope you’re all keeping safe and healthy. Remember, everything is temporary – this too shall pass – and when it does, we’ll reconnect with each other and the world once more.

Can’t wait.

R x

No-Buy Year Analysis

Alright lads?

My No-Buy Year has come to an end, and as mentioned in my December Empties post, I thought I’d do a separate post to take a deeper dive into the year – what worked, what didn’t, what I learnt from the project, and the all-important data behind it all. If anything, it’ll help my data analysis skills, which can only be a good thing, right?

Before The Project

  • Starting Off

Right before I started this little experiment, I took stock of my inventory of products (and believe me when I say it was an inventory – the numbers are below in the data section, but I was quite disgusted at just how much I’d accrued over the years). I was about to move house and was dreading carting all of this stuff around yet again (I moved house in 2015 and worryingly some of the same products were coming on the move with me again in 2019), and it also made me realise just how unnecessary this all was. Why did I have 13 conditioners? Did I really need 40 liquid lipsticks? How long was it truly going to take me to use up 11 blushers? I binned the stuff that was truly past it, and started afresh with a still-horrendously large amount of products.

In all honesty, I’m still quite embarrassed about just how much stuff I had – it was verging on hoarder territory, and I genuinely dread to think how much I spent on this stuff over the years. It was definitely a good move to at least try and do a no-buy year, if only to regain a little more of my sanity, space, and spare cash.

  • What was the aim of this project?

The aim of the project was (and still is, in a way) to see how long I could go without buying any new products when I already had at least one in use. Within the small but mighty beauty panning community, this is referred to as a Replacement Only No Buy (RONB) – I could only buy an item when all items in my collection, for that category, have been used up. As an example, if I have 11 blushers, I could only buy a new one when I had used up all 11 (in this example, I’d likely be buying a new blusher when I was 65 – more on the longevity of products below).

  • What were your expectations going into it?

Honestly, I didn’t really have any expectations going into it. I was already thoroughly fed up with all of the stuff I’d somehow acquired, so was looking forward to using it rather than squashing it behind some wardrobe doors, but as for the amount I’d use and the speed in which I’d use it? No idea. I didn’t think I’d use up everything, but some categories surprised me more than others. I obviously thought I’d be rolling in all of my spare cash afterwards though…

Hustling Make It Rain GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

During The Project

  • How did you find it?

Because I was so fed up with my own hoarding tendencies, I actually found it a lot easier than I thought I would. I found a certain amount of satisfaction in minimising my stash and using stuff up – the PanPorn is real, y’all – and whereas my inventory still isn’t where I’d like it to be, it’s a hell of a lot better than it was. It also gives me some goals for 2020 in terms of using even more stuff up.

In terms of going into shops and buying stuff, my willpower was en fleek and I actually found myself fairly disgusted at how much unnecessary stuff is peddled to us on a daily basis (more on this below). I was only really tempted by one product – the Anastasia Beverly Hills ‘Riviera’ Palette, in case you’re wondering – but the No-Buy Year has been and gone and I still haven’t bought it, so what does that tell you?

It also made me realise gradually what I like and dislike out of the products I’ve already got, and made me question why I bought some of them in the first place (spoiler alert – most of these were because they were part of a ‘set’). Take the Urban Decay ‘Naked’ palettes, for example. I bought the original Naked palette yeeeeears ago after it was described as a ‘cult’ item by some magazine, and when Urban Decay released a second Naked palette, then a third, then the Smokey Naked palette, then whatever they released after that, I felt as though I needed to keep buying them to complete the collection. Despite the fact that, other than the original palette and maybe the third Naked palette, I didn’t actually rate the formulas of the eyeshadows and found the Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes a lot more suited to my preferences and skin type. How ridiculous is that? How much money have I spent because some marketing bigwigs at Urban Decay have pushed this stupid eyeshadow series on me? I’ll still use the palettes because I’m cheap and want to see how far I get with them out of curiosity, but that’s a mistake I won’t be making again.

  • Did you make any purchases?

I won’t lie, this was a No Buy Year but I did make a few ’emergency’ purchases outside of the RONB. It was usually when I was travelling and forgot things like toothpaste or shampoo, and trust me when I say that it annoyed me every single time. I was also gifted a few lovely items by kind family and friends, which I excluded from the before-and-after data below.

  • Did you truly use up all of that stuff?

I tried to use up as much as possible, but I also did Marie Kondo-style declutters from time to time. Products that I hand-on-heart knew I would never use, and that were absolutely fine and unused, I donated to Caroline Hirons’ amazing charity Give and Makeup (no longer operating nationally – DropPoint is a great alternative), or gave to family and friends. Other than that, I recorded all of the genuinely empty products I used up on the blog, for your reading pleasure.

Happy Marie Kondo GIF by NETFLIX - Find & Share on GIPHY

After The Project

  • Longevity of products

One of the biggest things that struck me after completing the no-buy was the longevity of some products – namely powder cosmetics such as blusher, bronzer, highlighter and eyeshadow. I touched on this lightly in the mid-year check in, but I’ve honestly been shocked at just how long it’s taken for the powder cosmetics I use on a daily basis to be used up. I’ve been using the same highlighter all year, pretty much, and it’s only just hit pan (and there’s a hell of a lot more left in it, annoyingly). This begs the question – why are so many makeup products consistently pushed on us when it can take us literally years to use up one (even with daily use)? It’s ridiculous and so wasteful, especially when you consider the environmental impact of producing even one makeup item – let alone using it up and then recycling the packaging. Truly insane.

  • Unnecessary purchases and makeup marketing

In a similar theme, this project made me realise just how utterly unnecessary some products are, and how easily we’re swayed by marketing, advertising and social media influencers. Take fake eyelashes, for example. Half the influencers and social media stars out there use lash extensions, or at the very least fake glue-on lashes – and sales of fake lashes have soared over the past few months. Now, I’m not one to judge, I dabble in all kinds of weird and wonderful beauty trends for the bantz, but when these trends become a ‘need to have’ rather than a ‘fun to have’, it becomes a problem, and feeds into larger social issues around body image and self esteem. Do we really need as many products as Superdrug says we do?

  • Next plans?

As I said earlier, I really enjoyed this project, and I do want to continue on a no-buy (or RONB). I’ve certainly got enough products to do so, and I really enjoy the feeling of minimalism and space – it’s true what they say about decluttering and mental health. When I do start buying products on a RONB, I want to be more mindful about plastic packaging – one thing that has struck me has been the amount of plastic and waste generated from this year. Fortunately most of them have been recyclable so it hasn’t been as bad as it might initially look, but with so many excellent zero waste options out there, it’d be daft not to give them a whirl if it means helping the planet a little bit too.

 

The Data

  • Mid-year predictions – how did I do?

    I will reach over £2000-worth of empties by the end of this year  Not quite, but a damn good attempt! £1768.54 worth of empties, an average of £147 worth of empties used up a month. This is borderline obscene, and a great reflection of just how much money I’ve spent on products I probably didn’t need over the years.

    I will use up over 200 products this year – SMASHED THIS, 256 products in 12 months, an average of 21 products used up a month! A crazy amount!

    I will use up at least another five tubes of the Rimmel Fix & Protect Primer – Only three more tubes were used up! Although lol, that’s still a ridiculous amount of primer for six months.

 

  • What did the before-and-after data look like?

Makeup - 2019

Body Products - 2019

As you can see from the above data, the numbers… well, they don’t lie. In 99% of the categories, I used up at least one item – very often more than one per category (fake tans and body lotions, I see you). Some categories did indeed go down to one item (primer, powder, eyeliners, etc), and some categories were not only used up but weren’t even replenished (who needs hairspray anyway? I’m not on Strictly). 

Categories I’d like to get down to RONB in 2020 include foundations, facial scrubs, facial cleansers and body sprays/mists. I think this’ll be fairly easy and will very much help in further decluttering of the stash… although, for reasons mentioned above, maybe eyeshadow palettes, blushers and bronzers might take a little longer.

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Overall, I hope that was an interesting recap for you all – it’s certainly transformed my spending habits when it comes to things like cosmetics and body products, and my flat is looking a lot tidier as a result (although the minimalist in me thinks there’s a still a hell of a lot more to sort out). Let me know your thoughts – would you ever do something like this? What would you do with a spare £1768? How much do you use up a month?

See you next time where I’ll be returning to #dattravellyfe and sharing my travel plans for 2020!

roaring twenties gifs | WiffleGif

R xx

Empties – December 2019

And so it ends. The last month and wrap up of this year long project, and what a year it’s been! I’ll do more of a general annual wrap up shortly (including some snazzy data and charts, aren’t you lucky?), but for now, let’s recap the empties used up in December. Ho ho ho, etc.

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Total number of products used up: 19

Estimated retail value of products used up: £122.99

Total value of products used up this year already: £1768.54

 

Nearly reached £2k of products, eesh! Let’s take a deeper dive into these, shall we?

 

Face Products

(L-R: Formula 10.0.6 ‘Wipe Your Face Off’ Face Wipes, Garnier Micellar Water x 2)

Formula 10.0.6 ‘Wipe Your Face Off’ Face Wipes – 8/10 – I picked up these last time I was in the States in September, when I realised I literally had nothing to take my makeup with. Doh. These worked a treat – smelt good and did the job at a pretty low cost. Plus the packaging is cute.

Garnier Micellar Water x 2 – 10/10 – I’ve waxed lyrical about this product for the past year, so I won’t go over it again. Suffice it to say, this is the best budget makeup remover out there. Cheap, cheerful and gets rid of your makeup in one fell swoop. Great stuff. I’m not sure what the difference truly is between the formulas in these two bottles, mind – they seemed pretty identical to me.

 

Makeup

(L-R from top to bottom: Maybelline Color Sensational Matte Lipstick, Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick, No7 Stay Perfect Lipstick, CND Shellac Nail Polish in ‘Rose Brocade’, Essie Nail Polish in ‘Big Spender’, BlueSky Hard Gel Builder, and Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow in ‘Timeless Black’ and ‘Permanent Taupe’)

Maybelline Color Sensational Matte Lipstick – 7/10 – So I found this in my stash with the below lipsticks, after not having used them for a while, and not only was it mostly used up, it also had some weird white blobs on it (which I later discovered was wax bloom). Given these were way past the 12 month expiration mark, I thought it best to chuck them to the empties pile. From memory though, this was a nice enough lipstick, very mattifying and lasted a fairly long time on my lips. I’m not a huge fan of traditional lipstick anyway (total convert to liquid lipstick), but this was nice enough.

Rimmel The Only 1 Lipstick – 6/10 – As above, this joined the empties pile after I found wax bloom on the lipstick (as well as this particular lippie suffering from what I like to call ‘hot car syndrome’ – the inside lid looked like a massacre). This range claimed to be mattifying – I disagree with this description – but it was nice enough for a budget range, and came in a variety of colours. No idea if they’re even still doing this range, so this review might be completely worthless… sorry?

No7 Stay Perfect Lipstick – 4/10 – Ah, No7. Beloved of mums and nans up and down the country, but sadly this lipstick also bit the wax bloom dust, and didn’t make much of an impact even when I used it. I think I got it for free with the purchase of some skincare – I certainly didn’t buy it – thankfully, because it was pretty rubbish. I gave it some points because the packaging was quite sleek, if that kind of thing matters to you?

CND Shellac Nail Polish in ‘Rose Brocade’ – 3/10 – I love CND gel polishes for the most part. Smooth, pleasingly thick, and last for ages on the nails with correct preparation and application. Sadly though, this was a bust. A limited edition colour from what I can tell, it became very lumpy very quickly, didn’t apply well at all, and ran out weirdly quickly. The colour was also slightly misleading in my opinion. A real disappointment.

Essie Nail Polish in ‘Big Spender’ – 8/10 – Similar to CND, I bloody love Essie polishes for their ease of application and their lasting ability – but unlike the above CND polish, this hit the polish spot. A lovely unique colour with a great thick brush to apply, and lasted for quite a long time without chipping (subject to preparation, obv). Would recommend.

BlueSky Hard Gel Builder – 7/10 – I occasionally use hard gel builder on my natural nails when I want to strengthen them before using a Shellac colour, and I occasionally dabble in the world of pot-and-brush builders (you can also get hard gel builders in a polish bottle, which is a LOT easier) to apply these. This was fine – slightly too thick and fiddly for full marks, and required a fair amount of filing after curing to get a nice smooth base – but came off well and did the job of strengthening at quite a low price. Fair play, BlueSky.

Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow in ‘Timeless Black’ – 8/10 – This is a bit of a budget version of the MAC pro longwear paintpots , and in my eyes is almost indistinguishable. Very pigmented, smooth and lasts a long time on the eyelids without creasing, this is a great base for a dramatic smokey eye. Plus, if you ensure the lid is tightly on the pot, it lasts ages. Not bad for a fiver, huh?

Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow in ‘Permanent Taupe’ – 6/10 – Same formula as the above, but I’m knocking off a few points because quite frankly this colour is weird. Beige with a purple undertone, it made me look like I’d been socked in each eye by Anthony Joshua, and no amount of eyeshadow over the top would improve it. If you’re looking for a neutral base, check out ‘Creme de Nude’ or ‘Creme de Rose’ in the same range.

 

Hair Products

(L-R: Schwartzkopf Essence Ultime Hair BB Beauty Balm, Batiste Dry Shampoo Dark, Nizoral Shampoo)

Schwartzkopf Essence Ultime Hair BB Beauty Balm – 8/10 – Ah, another discontinued product, this time featuring the beautiful Claudia Schiffer. Unfortunately I didn’t look like her after I used this, but it was still a lovely serum/hair cream – very moisturising and felt very ‘luxe’, despite it being a budget buy. I’m not sure why it was marketed as a BB beauty balm, as it was very much a thick hair cream, meant to be used like a serum, but it was still lovely, so I’ll ignore the marketing spiel for now.

Batiste Dry Shampoo Dark – 4/10 – Ah, I had SUCH high hopes for this product, but alas, it let me down. As someone with long, thick and very dark hair that gets oily fairly quickly, I was really excited when I saw this on the shelves – FINALLY I wouldn’t get that weird dusty talcum powder sheen when I spritzed my mane with dry shampoo! – but sadly it still somehow went a weird dark grey on my roots. It also didn’t do a great job at the ‘shampoo’ part, leaving my hair looking somehow greasier than ever? I’m sure there’s still a gap in the market for a dark dry shampoo, so if someone could come up with a better formula, I’d appreciate it.

Nizoral Shampoo – 7/10 – I’ve covered this before, but if you struggle with scalp psoriasis, you’d do well to give Nizoral a go. Make sure you leave it on for a few minutes before washing off. Knocking off some points because it’s a bloody tiny bottle and barely lasts me a fortnight.

 

Body Products

img_1265.jpg

(L-R: Zoella Pretty Polished Body Scrub, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Body Butter, Zoella Scooper Dooper Foaming Bath Soak)

Zoella Pretty Polished Body Scrub – 8/10 – I think I’ve mentioned this scrub before somewhere in the archives, but this was my second tub, bought when it went on clearance a while back. Lovely scrubby tendencies – tough but moisturising at the same time, and a gorgeous scent that miraculously stayed on the skin throughout the day. It’s a real shame this got discontinued, because I really enjoyed it.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Body Butter – 7/10 – This was sent to me by a friend in America after I failed to pick some up during my trip in September, and wow did it blast me into an autumnal mood. VERY cinnamony and spicy – not much actual pumpkin scent in my opinion (what does pumpkin even smell like, in all honesty?), but a lovely warm smell that stayed on the skin for a while. Taking a few points off as it was a little too greasy for me, but then I guess it is a body butter, so what am I expecting, really?

Zoella Scooper Dooper Foaming Bath Soak – 7/10 – Another one from this discontinued Zoella range, this was a nice enough bath soak with that gorgeous scent again. A few points knocked off because it wasn’t as foamy as it claimed, and I like to be surrounded in piles of bubbles when I bathe.

 

Miscellaneous

img_1266

(L-R: Zara Ginza Tokyo Perfume, Sensodyne Toothpaste)

Zara Ginza Tokyo Perfume – 8/10 – I’m a big fan of Zara for cheap and cheerful perfumes, and this is no exception. In fact, I bought a sample size of this in 2018 and enjoyed it so much I bought the full size version from eBay a few weeks later. Really light, floral and ‘pretty’ – I’m rubbish at fragrance descriptions so this’ll just have to do, ok? The only downside was that it didn’t last too long on the skin in my opinion, but given how cheap it was, I don’t really mind.

Sensodyne Toothpaste – 7/10 – Eh, this was ok. I enjoyed the fact that it was conveniently travel sized so went around with me for the holidays, but it had a weird, slightly gritty texture that I wasn’t really into. Cleaned my teeth fine, mind.

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And there you go folks – the No Buy Year is over! I’ll upload a deeper data dive into the year shortly, as well as my plans next, but I hope you enjoyed this project as much as I did – it certainly made me re-evaluate a lot of my buying tendencies.

Travel-wise, I’m off to Florida at the end of the month for work (so won’t be documenting on here), but I’ve got some rather exciting plans for later on this year, so stay tuned!

R xx

Empties – November 2019

Alright everyone? Winter has officially arrived, and with it comes another raft of empties. A small haul this month – I actually went to Dubai for just under a week in November, and purposefully didn’t use much makeup while I was out there (the tan quest was real), but I appear to have accumulated a load of empties anyway. Here goes!

img_0829

Total number of products used up: 21

Estimated retail value of products used up: £128.27

Total value of products used up this year already: £1645.55

 

Body Products

(Original Source Cherry & Almond Milk Shower Milk)

Original Source Cherry & Almond Milk Shower Milk – 8/10 – Here’s the thing, I’m a sucker for an old school cherry bakewell. Little hit of pastry with a blast of frangipane, jam and that naff-but-still-delightful cherry half on top? I’m here for it. And this was like showering with liquidised bakewell. Every morning and evening, I actively looked forward to using it and smelling like Mr Kipling for the next few hours. Knocking a few points off because I don’t really know what shower milk is.

 

Skincare

(L-R: Beauty Pie Japanfusion Cleanser, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Biocellulose Face Mask, Garnier Micellar Water)

Beauty Pie Japanfusion Cleanser – 6/10 – So I  used up my last cleanser in September, and decided to sign up for Beauty Pie for the Japanfusion cleanser that had been clogging up my Facebook feed for the past year or so. Beauty Pie as a whole has been pretty excellent – I admittedly haven’t placed too many orders as I’m only ordering replacements, but the quality so far has been lovely. This cleanser was, sadly, a little overrated in my eyes. It’s a gel cleanser and transforms to a milky consistency when mixed with water, but it was pretty underwhelming and didn’t have a visible impact on my skin. It also smelt slightly off – fragrance free but with a whiff of plastic? I’ve heard that the other cleansers are pretty good so it may just be this one, but I don’t really understand the massive praise it’s getting.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Biocellulose Face Mask – 7/10 – I received this in a care package from a friend of mine, and really enjoyed using it. A VERY overwhelming scent of cinnamon and nutmeg, but was a lovely luxurious face mask, felt very treaty, and left my skin looking pretty damn glowy. Thanks S!

Garnier Micellar Water – 10/10 – I’ve raved about this before, and I will continue to do so. Buy it as soon as possible.

 

Hair Products

(L-R: Garnier Ultimate Blends Honey Treasures Conditioner, Garnier Ultimate Blends Honey Treasures Shampoo)

Garnier Ultimate Blends Honey Treasures Shampoo & Conditioner – 9/10 – I’m going to review these together, as I used them together, and to be honest I’m not such a hair expert that I can distinguish between the performance of identical shampoos and conditioners. Sorry ’bout it. That being said, I really liked these. GORGEOUS scent (a very rich honey fragrance that stayed in my hair all day long), made my hair dead soft, and it was super cheap to boot. Really lovely.

 

Fragrance

(L-R: Beauty Pie Perfume Sample Set x 3, CanMake ‘Make Me Happy’ Perfume Mist in Rendezvous)

Beauty Pie Perfume Sample Set x 3 – 6/10 – Another item I threw in my cleanser order above, this was a cute little sample set of Beauty Pie’s three fragrances – Brazilian Lime, Fig Leaves and Tea, Petals, Heliotrope and Ambrette, and Red Apple, White Peony and Cashmere Wood. They didn’t last too long on my skin, and the only one I would consider buying the full size version of is the Petals, Heliotrope and Ambrette scent, but I can’t ever pass up a little fragrance sample to throw in the ol’ handbag.

CanMake ‘Make Me Happy’ Perfume Mist in Rendezvous – 8/10 – I bought this in Tokyo, along with two other CanMake perfume mists, and finally used this one up this month. A lovely little perfume mist, very light and floral and ‘pretty’, and lasted a surprisingly long time on the skin given it’s just a body spray really. I’ve got one more on the go at the moment and I’m going to miss spritzing these when they’re gone.

 

Makeup

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(L-R: Kat von D Lock-It Foundation, Revolution Matte Fix Oil Control Fixing Spray, Rimmel Clear Complexion Powder, Colourpop Matte Liquid Lipstick in “Fresh Cut”, Rimmel Fix & Perfect Primer)

Kat von D Lock-It Foundation – 4/10 – Oh man, this was a disappointment, and not just because I accidentally gave money to an anti-vaxxer by buying it. This foundation is insanely full coverage. Which, y’know, is fine if you want to cover up a tattoo, or a scar, or maybe your political ties with Ukraine, but for regular everyday foundation it’s just too much, and goes cakey towards the end of the day. My skin was crying out for mercy by around 5pm. As I said, it is good coverage, and if you have some severe acne or skin condition that regular foundation isn’t touching, go for it, but for normal skin types, I’d find something else.

Revolution Matte Fix Oil Control Fixing Spray – 6/10 – Given that I was using hairspray for a really long time to fix my makeup, you’d think my skin would be over the moon about me using an actual fixing spray, and would want to play ball. Huh, not so much. It certainly did well at the start of the day (no shit?) but towards the end my makeup was slip-sliding all over the shop. I’d opt for something else – if you have a few coins to throw at this non-problem, Urban Decay does a great setting spray.

Rimmel Clear Complexion Powder – 9/10 – Only my fiftieth use of this this year. Go forth and buy.

Colourpop Matte Liquid Lipstick in “Fresh Cut” – 7/10 – OK, I heard loads of great reviews about Colourpop’s matte liquid lipstick range, and about a year or so ago I went and bought loads of them and had them shipped to the UK (see now why I needed to do a no-buy year…?). They last a hella long time, and are insanely pigmented, but for some reason the colours oxidise really badly on my lips, to the point where my lips look a completely different shade from the tube. It’s bizarre, I’ve never experienced anything like it before, and I really don’t know what’s caused it. This liquid lipstick was one of the only ones which didn’t do this, so naturally I used it all up this month. It was the perfect pinky nude, and I miss it very much, but because of #oxidisegate, I’m reluctant to buy it again in case it happens again with this one. I’m not sure my spendy little heart could take it.

Rimmel Fix & Perfect Primer – 9/10 – Have repurchased, would repurchase. Best budget primer out there.

 

Nail Products

(L-R: CND Shellac Power Polish Base Coat, Bluesky Gel Top Coat)

CND Shellac Power Polish Base Coat – 8/10 – I’m a big fan of CND Shellac polishes, and this base coat was no exception, giving a great base with extreme longevity to whatever gel creation I plopped on my nails this month. The only drawback is that this shit is expensive – I really can’t afford to keep spending £15 on a tiny bottle of base coat, and I doubt you guys can either. I’ve been trialling a brand called NYK1 which I found on Amazon – will let you guys know how this goes as replacements for this and the below.

Bluesky Gel Top Coat – 4/10 – Bluesky is one of these brands you see being flogged on Wish and Amazon and AliBaba all the time – it’s a cheap but cheerful gel polish brand, and is almost marketed as an alternative to CND Shellac and Gelish. I’ve bought quite a few of their colours over the years and put up with the peeling and blobbiness because it was cheap and did the job for a few days, but I’m putting my foot down with this top coat. If you are in desperate need of a gel top coat* and payday isn’t for weeks, then go for this one, but if you want long lasting manicures with no air bubbles or seepage onto your cuticles, opt for something else.

*I don’t know what kind of weird nail emergency this would constitute, I don’t know your life

Miscellaneous

(L-R: Pronamel Toothpaste x 2, Bath & Body Works Frosted Cranberry Hand Soap, Salon Services Raspberry Ripple Wax, Dove Go Fresh Deodorant, Nivea Pearl & Beauty Deodorant)

Pronamel Toothpaste x 2 – 7/10 – Cleaned my teeth. Great job, toothpaste.

Bath & Body Works Frosted Cranberry Hand Soap – 9/10 – Not much more that needs to be said about these foaming hand soaps that I haven’t already said. Love, love, love them. Please come over to the UK in the roaring 2020s, B&BW.

Salon Services Raspberry Ripple Wax – 8/10 – For those of you in the know, I wax my own legs, arms, and usually eyebrows (when I haven’t had them microbladed, of course!!!111!!!). The best thing about this wax was the yummy smell. The worst thing was wondering why wax needs a yummy smell???

Dove Go Fresh Deodorant – 9/10 – I liked this deodorant! Really pleasant smell, and did the job well all day long. Apparently it has pomegranate in it – who knew that was a thing armpits needed?

Nivea Pearl & Beauty Deodorant – 7/10 – A cute little travel sized deodorant I carried around in my handbag for about a year, and only used up this month. It was fine and did the job. Not much else to say, is there?

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Last month to go in this year’s #NoBuy project, and the question remains… do you guys want me to continue with this series even though the year has technically finished, or shall we wrap it up and look ahead to this new decade? Answers on a postcard…

R xx

Empties – October 2019

Hello-ween, ladies and gentlemen! (A bold choice for an October greeting, but I’m sticking with it). It’s finally autumn – the big coats are in and skimpy summer dresses are out, little brats are throwing conkers at each other, everything is covered in pumpkin spice… like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of autumn in the UK. The tenth beauty empties post is up, and boy do I have a lot of empties this month. You got your mulled cider ready? Let’s go!

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Total number of products used up: 23

Estimated retail value of products used up: £111.35

Total value of products used up this year already: £1517.28

 

Over £1500!! Alright, let’s get into it!

 

Fragrance

(L-R: I Am So…? Body Spray, Sylvain Delacourte Eau de Parfum Vanille)

I Am So…? Body Spray – 2/10 – I genuinely have no idea why I bought this. Beloved of many a girls PE changing room in the 00s, it was rolling around my gym bag and was finally used up this month. Cloying, sickly sweet, and a slight metallic scent from the can… I wouldn’t buy it again. The only reason it gets any points is because it was good in a pinch at the gym.

Sylvaine Delacourte Eau de Parfum Vanille – 8/10 – Ah, now we’re talking! I used up the SD Muscs collection last month and used up this lot this month – which to be honest I much preferred. A lovely mix of vanilla-based perfumes – my favourite was the Vanori which is described as a “sunny vanilla” – the only thing I’m knocking points off for is that these fragrances are expensive full-size. Like, take out a bank loan expensive. Really not sure they’re worth such a high price, but I will say that the sample packs are lovely to throw in your bag. And comparing them to the shit body spray above? Let’s just say my taste in fragrances has gotten

Image result for much better baga

 

Skincare

(L-R: Garnier Micellar Water, Sainsburys Nourishing Vitamin E Facial Wipes, L’Oreal Pure Clay Purity Face Mask, Alpha H Liquid Gold)

Garnier Micellar Water – 10/10 – I’ve purchased and repurchased this multiple times, and will continue to do so. Cheap, cheerful, and does the job of removing my daily makeup mask quickly and painlessly. A holy grail product!

Sainsburys Nourishing Vitamin E Facial Wipes – 4/10 – Oh these were fine. Pretty bog standard, average wipes. They were cheap, I’ll give them that, but were they as efficient at removing my makeup as the micellar water? Nah, not a chance. Save the 99p and buy the micellar water instead.

L’Oreal Pure Clay Purity Face Mask – 8/10 – A lovely little budget face mask that I’ve repurchased a bunch of times. Made my skin soft and clear, and smelt lovely to boot. Perfect for a spa night. Knocked a few points off because every time I use it they make my dark grey flannels slightly mint green (it can be washed off, I’m just lazy).

Alpha H Liquid Gold – 6/10 – I might get crucified for this by the wider Beauty Community™, but I… didn’t really rate this. It’s a known cult favourite, beloved by skincare aficionados around the world, but I thought it was a bit meh. Overpriced (£33 a bottle, you having a laugh?), stung like hell, stunk of chemicals, and didn’t really do much aside from giving my skin a bit of a glow (which may or may not have been because of the amount of acid in there). I’m sorry fellow Beauty Junkies, I know I’ve let you down, but honestly, I’m not sure the hype is worth it.

 

Haircare

(L-R: Suave Keratin Infusion Conditioner, Herbal Essences Strawberry and Mint Shampoo, Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo)

Suave Keratin Infusion Conditioner – 7/10 – I picked this up when I was in Florida last month – as someone with thick, coarse, long hair, I’ve long learnt that hotel conditioner just will not cut it – and it was surprisingly good. Made my mildly unmanageable hair smooth and silky, and smelt good to boot.  Would I make an effort to seek it out over my usual shampoos and conditioners? Probably not, but I’d buy it again in a pinch.

Herbal Essences Strawberry and Mint Shampoo – 8/10 – I used up the conditioner version of this last month, and have to echo my review again – it had a lovely scent and made my hair soft and clean. Nothing much more to say about bog-standard shampoo, is there?

Alphosyl 2 in 1 Shampoo – 6/10 – I bought this on Amazon to treat my scalp after a few flare ups last month. It had a load of good reviews online so I felt hopeful, and it did help things calm down for a week or so, but unfortunately the flareups came back and the shampoo seemed powerless against them. A shame really – on the plus side, it did leave my hair clean and didn’t smell as bad as the reviews claimed, but would I buy it again? Nah.

Makeup

(L-R Just For Men Moustache & Beard Dye, Rimmel Fix & Protect Primer, Essence Lash Princess Mascara)

Just For Men Moustache & Beard Dye – 8/10 – OK – I feel I have to explain this one. I know it’ll come as a shock to a lot of you, but I don’t have a beard or moustache… I actually used to use this to tint my brows! I read this tip on a forum ages ago and the logic is airtight – it’s a larger and cheaper pack, is still safe for facial hair use, and because this formula is made to last through daily face washing, it’ll stay longer than regular brow tint. It’s a no brainer if you think about it, and honestly, this did work really well. Knocked off a few points because it still didn’t last anywhere near as long as I wanted it to (I’m lazy and only want to do my brows every three months or so), and was slightly more fiddly than using regular tint (don’t use the brushes included – opt for cotton wool buds instead), but on the whole I’d absolutely repurchase. Or at least I would… if I hadn’t just had my eyebrows microbladed!!! (Post to follow!).

Rimmel Fix & Protect Primer – 9/10 – I’ll continue to buy this until they stop making it or my face falls off, whichever comes first.

Essence Lash Princess Mascara – 9/10 – See above. The best mascara I’ve ever tried, and a repeat purchase on RR.

Body Products

(L-R: Zoella Shower Gel, CVS Romance Shower Gel, Derma-V Deep Moisturising Foot Pack, Sanctuary White Lily & Damask Rose Body Lotion)

Zoella Shower Gel – 8/10 – I reviewed some Zoella products a few months ago and have made my way through the shower gel version this time. As much as I dislike Zoella and the concept of a professional Youtuber, I’ve got to say this was a lovely shower gel – iridescent which made me feel all sparkly and shiny, and had a gorgeous scent too. I would repurchase but unfortunately I think it’s been discontinued – I did buy more than one though, so I’ll probably see you next month, Zoella Shower Gel!

CVS Romance Shower Gel – 6/10 – Another last-minute purchase from my trip last month, picked up at the same time as the conditioner as part of my “stuff I forgot” shopping spree. This was…fine. Smelt alright, made my body clean (so good job, I guess, shower gel?), but was fairly generic. Would I buy it again? Probably not, but it did the job when I needed it to.

Derma-V Deep Moisturising Foot Pack – 5/10 – Bought this as part of a ‘spa night’ I lined up for myself to celebrate my new bath rack purchase (I’m in my thirties, leave me alone everyone). It was dirt cheap (99p!) and I wasn’t expecting a whole lot… which is a good thing as that’s exactly what it delivered. A fairly average foot pack with dubious moisturising properties, but it did smell delightful so it did have that going for it, I guess?

Sanctuary White Lily & Damask Rose Body Lotion – 7/10 – Ah, I love this scent. It was so delicate and floral, and was so nice to slather on before bed. That being said, the moisturising aspect wasn’t that great, and despite using it all up in a month, I don’t think my skin was actually that moisturised by the end of it. I’ve got another bottle of the stuff because I loved the scent so much, but would I buy it again after that? Probably not.

 

Miscellaneous

(L-R: Sensodyne Toothpaste, Nivea Protect & Care Deodorant, Bath & Body Works Crisp Morning Air Handwash)

Sensodyne Toothpaste – 6/10 – Lol, it’s toothpaste. It cleaned my teeth just fine, but it was slightly weirdly gritty and made my teeth squeaky, so I’ve knocked a few points off.

Nivea Protect & Care Deodorant – 8/10 – Lol, it’s deodorant.

Bath & Body Works Crisp Morning Air Handwash – 9/10 – Do I really need to say much more on these handsoaps? Love them, love them, OPEN UP A STORE OVER HERE B&BW!

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Until next month! Will I crack £2000 worth of products this year? Probably not, but I’ll give it a try!

R xx

Empties – September 2019

Alright you lot, bit of a funny Empties post this month… due to the amount of travelling I did (America for work, and then Italy the week after for pleasure), I have a load of random miniature travel empties, as well as your standard empty products I used at home. I was quite glad in a way to be done with these travel products, as they’re the kind that have been rumbling round my drawers at home for yeeeears and I was getting sick of the sight of them. Ready for this empties travel special? Here ya go…

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Total number of products used up: 26

Estimated retail value of products used up: £94.15

Total value of products used up this year already: £1405.93

 

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Miscellaneous Travel Items

(L-R: Complimentary Virgin toothpaste (hey, it still counts), Kristen Ess Signature Shampoo minis x 2, Garnier Micellar Water, Hawaiian Tropic Duo Defence Sun Lotion, Garnier Ultimate Blends Sleek Perfector Oil, Daiso Travel Lotion, Toner and Cleanser)

Complimentary Virgin toothpaste – 6/10 – I feel silly including this, but you know what, I used it up this month so it’s going in the post. Admittedly I only got the one use out of it but it was still used up. A nice flavour and handy when travelling. Can’t really elaborate on this one I’m afraid guys.

Kristen Ess Signature Shampoo – 5/10 – So this was meant to be some fancy shampoo sample that I picked up from Target in April… $10 per full-size bottle, and honestly, I don’t get the hype. It was perfectly fine, smelt nice and cleaned my hair as shampoo is meant to do, but it barely foamed up so each hairwash cost the $4 bottle, basically. I don’t quite have that much money that I can afford such an expense for some mediocre shampoo, unfortunately. Avoid unless you’re a millionaire and have a thing for wasting money.

Garnier Micellar Water – 10/10 – I’ve waxed lyrical about this makeup remover for the past ten months and don’t like repeating myself. Go get it!

Hawaiian Tropic Duo Defence Sun Lotion – 8/10 – This was a sample I saved for travel purposes (#nanaface) and used in Florida earlier in September. Smelt nice enough, but most importantly, gave me a very light tanmark with minimal burning. Good job Hawaiian Tropic!

Garnier Ultimate Blends Sleek Perfector Oil – 7/10 – Yet another travel sample – this smelt lovely and worked nicely, but was a very generous sample. I have very long, thick hair and even a third of this pack was too much – leaving a lot of oil left in an open sample packet, which, when you’re travelling, is a bit of a nightmare. I eventually had to ditch the packet after it fell over in the hotel bathroom and oil got all over my other toiletries. Boo. But nice smell and worked well.

Daiso Travel Lotion, Toner and Cleanser – 5/10 – I picked this up in Dubai when I ran out of skincare products on the road and, even though they were very handy, they REALLY stripped my skin whilst also being greasy. I don’t know how that happened, but it did, and my skin was left shiny but tight. It gets points for cuteness, usefulness and fragrance, but as for actual skincare? Nah.

 

(L-R: L’Oreal Elvive Fibrology Shampoo and Conditioner, Best Western Shower Gel)

L’Oreal Elvive Fibrology Shampoo and Conditioner – 8/10 – Despite being teeny weeny bottles that I picked up in Heathrow en route to Rome, I really liked these products. Made my hair very shiny and manageable, which is no mean feat when you’ve got notoriously tricky hair and manage to forget your hairdryer, straighteners and hairbrush in hot, humid Rome. I’d be curious to see how these hold up when I actually style my hair properly. Would buy again.

Best Western Shower Gel – 7/10 – Your bog-standard shower gel swiped from the airport hotel in Rome. Smelt nice, probably wouldn’t buy standalone.

 

Makeup

(L-R: Rimmel Clear Complexion Powder, Charlotte Tilbury Eyeliner, BH Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick in ‘Endora’)

Rimmel Clear Complexion Powder – 9/10 – This old chestnut. Excellent, cheap, and easily accessible from literally any supermarket or high street pharmacy in the UK. Will obviously buy again.

Charlotte Tilbury Eyeliner – 6/10 – This was fine… to start with. But because I wear a crapton of eyeshadow on the regular, any eyeliner has to be really resilient against it, and this one, well, wasn’t. It was insanely pigmented and lasted a long time on the eyelid, but it took on a lot of my eyeshadow with it over the weeks and eventually gave up the ghost. For £22, I’d expect better.

BH Cosmetics Liquid Lipstick in ‘Endora’ – 9/10 – Oh man, I loved this lipstick so much. Gorgeous colour, creamy, pigmented, cheap as hell, (I think I paid $5 for this?) and stayed for a long ass time. I’d prefer for it to stay a little longer, but for that price I’ll take 6 hours over 8, any day.

 

Hair Products

(Clairol Herbal Essences Conditioner)

Clairol Herbal Essences Conditioner – 9/10 – Just the one haircare product today (aside from the aforementioned travel products), and this one was lovely. Yes it’s cheap (although maybe not that cheap – when doing the price estimates for this post, I realised Boots is selling these for £6 each?!), but damn it smells bloody good, and it made my hair look great and feel soft as hell. Lovely. Would definitely repurchase.

 

Skincare

(L-R: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, Formula 10.0.6 Deep Down Detox Ultra-Cleansing Mud Mask, St Ives Radiant Skin Scrub)

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser – 5/10 – I had high hopes for this cleanser due to the rave reviews it gets online, but… meh. It was very drying on my skin, which is normally a good thing as my skin is oh-so-oily, but it was very uncomfortable, almost. I also didn’t rate the texture or the smell, and for £18 it really should have been a bigger bottle. I’ll say it again – meh.

Formula 10.0.6 Deep Down Detox Ultra-Cleansing Mud Mask – 4/10 – Another ‘meh’ skincare product – this one not only made my skin kinda greasy, but it also ruined my muslin cloths which is IMO inexcusable. Who do you think you are, Detox Ultra-Cleansing Mud Mask?

St Ives Radiant Skin Scrub – 7/10 – I quite liked this, even though it wasn’t as scrubby as I’d have liked (I like my exfoliants rough as hell). It smelt lovely, very citrussy and fresh, and did feel nice on the skin. Would probably rebuy after my beloved Apricot Scrub runs out.

 

Miscellaneous

(L-R: Sylvain Delacourte Eau de Parfum Muscs, Sensodyne Pronamel Toothpaste, Colgate MaxWhite Toothpaste)

Sylvaine Delacourte Eau de Parfum Muscs – 8/10 – OK, this is where I confess to being a sucker for a Facebook advert. This was advertised while I was mindlessly browsing Facebook one night in front of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I thought it’d be a good buy to take with me when I travel (I also bought the Vanilla ones which I’m working my way through at the moment). I wasn’t disappointed – these were lovely. Grown-up, classy and fancy (at the RRP for a bottle, they really should feel all of these things) – and very convenient when travelling. I got a lot of compliments with pretty much all of these samples (excluding the middle one which got a bit much after a while) – the only thing holding me back from full marks is the eye-watering price of a regular bottle. Eesh.

Sensodyne Pronamel Toothpaste – 5/10 – My mum got a load of toothpaste samples and gave me a metric ton of them for travel purposes (thanks Mum!). Unfortunately I didn’t like this one much. It served a purpose in that it cleaned my teeth, but the texture was oddly gritty – even thinking about it now makes me shiver, like nails down a chalkboard. I probably won’t buy the full size, but fortunately this was the only Sensodyne one she gave me.

Colgate MaxWhite Toothpaste – 8/10 – A much nicer toothpaste (I can’t believe that I’m now rating toothpastes, what’s my life become???). Not gritty, but nice and clean and smooth, with a nice flavour and these little weird fresh square gel things in the paste. Not sure the latter did much, but it made it relatively fun to brush my teeth I guess??

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Until next month! (Will we get over £1500 finally?!?!)

R x

Rome, Italy – September 2019

Long time coming, this post – but I finally did it! I finally made it to Rome, one of the most popular tourist cities in the world, and did it in relative style! Not going to lie, this was one of my more challenging solo adventures, and my patience and hatred of inefficiency was tested big time. Want to know more? Read on, friend!

I flew into Rome Fiumicino airport at 11pm on Saturday 21st September, which was my first gripe (seriously Alitalia, why schedule all of your flights so late?). The flight itself was fine and fairly standard for a short haul economy flight, but the addition of a complimentary drink and snack was a nice touch (looking at you here, BA). Because of the late flight time, transport to the city centre was fairly sporadic and/or nonexistent, so I’d booked a room at the Best Western Rome Airport and got an Uber there from the airport. Pretty straightforward but annoying that I’d had to do this because of Alitalia’s poor scheduling decisions.

Up and at ’em the next morning, the hotel had a shuttle bus to Circo Massimo/Piramide, a Metro station just outside of the city centre, where you could ‘easily’ get transport to the rest of Rome. This is where my first problem was – turns out Rome public transport is not really that clearcut or straightforward. I give you this map as an example:

Now, looking at this map, you wouldn’t know which line is bus, tram, or metro, would you? Even the legend on the right hand side is confusing. I’d like to think I was pretty savvy with these things, but even after asking various Italians and looking like a right n00b, I was still none-the-wiser and ended up walking to Roma Ostiense station and getting a regular, bog-standard train to Roma Travestere, the area I was staying in for the next few nights. From there, I had to get a tram (which doesn’t technically reach the centre of Rome but is useful for navigating the suburbs like Travestere) to Trastevere/Min. Instruzione, where my AirBnB was. Phew!

Trastevere (pronounced tras-TAIR-vare-eh) is traditionally the working-class suburb of Rome, and is famous for nightlife, excellent food and drink, the odd Basilica, and cobbled streets with street art. My AirBnB was a hop, skip and a jump away from the main squares, next to Basilica di Santa Maria, and after plonking my bags down, I found an excellent little restaurant (of which there are many in Trastevere) called Ombre Rosse, which also turned out to be one of the top-rated restaurants in Rome (something I had no idea about until checking them just now on TripAdvisor!).

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After devouring the above, washed down with some day wine and some fresh focaccia, I hopped on the trams and made my way over to one of the main reasons I went to Rome – the Colosseum.

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I won’t bore you with my mediocre historical retelling here, instead I’ll redirect you to the Wikipedia page and tell you what it was like to actually be there. The entrance was slightly hard to find, surrounded by tourists

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and umbrellas because there was a light drizzle, but I managed to find it, passed through security, and paid the €12 to enter.

The Colosseum was large as you might expect, but the detail was something I really enjoyed (and do with any attraction like this). The graffiti and little drawings from the Roman era on the more hidden columns made it ‘real’ and human, and whereas it was very grand and imposing, the human elements were what I enjoyed the most.

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There was also a really interesting museum on the top floor which detailed the history of the Colosseum and the context of it within Ancient Rome, as well as artefacts found inside it (coins, games and hilariously some schoolboy drawings of penises) which I really enjoyed. Worth having a look out for these.

After the obligatory Colosseum visit, I went to a restaurant near my AirBnB where I had some burrata and bread, some wine, and a heaving portion of insanely good fresh wild mushroom tagliatelle. Whole thing cost €22. Unreal.

The next morning brought with it a new challenge in the guise of a TRIP TO POMPEII. Insert volcano emoji. I say challenge because, well, you’ll see.

To get to Pompeii for the guide tour I had booked on AirBnB (shout out to Lello who was a huge help in this whole palava), I had to get up at the crack of dawn, get the tram back to Roma Trastevere train station, get the train to Roma Termini, get another train to Naples, get another train to Pompeii, and do all of this as early as possible to get in town for midday for the tour. It was all looking good, until I made a fatal error in trusting the Italian national train system. Delays were rampant (I should have been clued up to the fact that the train departure boards had a special column for delays), and the confusion I experienced earlier in the trip with the transportation system was magnified due to a lack of signs, staff, and sense. The train from Rome to Naples (which was delayed half an hour) originally cost €16 for the slow train, but there were no signs to indicate which was a slow or fast train and I ended up getting on a fast train accidentally and being fined an extra €35 for the pleasure. When in Naples, there were minimal signs or staff to show where to board the train to Pompeii, so I ended up missing another train and waiting with a nice Scottish family for half an hour until the next one. After all of this, I was late for my tour and didn’t make it – one of the more significant bummers of the trip, especially as I’d gotten up at 6am on my holiday to make it in time.

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I wasn’t about to give up and turn around though, I was in Pompeii after all, so I quickly downloaded an audio tour (shout out to Rick Steves!) and got to stepping. I walked to Pompeii from the train station (around 25 mins – there is a shuttle bus if you want to save your legs for the actual ruins) and paid €15 to enter.

Right, first point, right off the bat – Pompeii is HUGE. Like, HUGE. I didn’t quite realise how big it was (the more cultured among you will know that Pompeii was a city like any other), but there was no way I could cover the whole thing in my little day trip, and indeed most guides and tours will stick to a few of the districts around the sides. As with most destinations on my hit list, it was absolutely swarming with tourists, which was actually quite useful as I weaved in and out of tour groups and just joined the back of the English-speaking ones from time to time. Shh, don’t tell.

Second point – book. a. tour. Rick Steves tried, bless his little travelling heart, but there is almost no point in doing Pompeii without a tour guide, because to the untrained eye (I am of course assuming that most of you aren’t archaeologists), it all kiiiiinda looks the same, and it’s very easy to lose where you are and what you’re actually looking at. In hindsight, it would have been exponentially better to have booked a tour from Rome so that I didn’t get stressed or miss the tour, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and it’s something I’ll do next time for sure. From a quick Google search, The Roman Guy looks like a good option (not sponsored).

I didn’t hate Pompeii, but it could have been a lot better, is all I’m saying. Anyway, obligatory pics below!

 

 

After repeating the travel experience back to Rome and getting to my AirBnb a broken woman, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to go out and eat, so I ordered Deliveroo. In Rome. No ragrets because the white truffle and courgette flower pizza, fritto misto and tiramisu were all phenomenal, but I did have a twinge of guilt that I’d been so lazy. Meh, whatever!

After the palava of Pompeii, I decided to just take it as easy as possible on my last day in Rome, and start the morning relaxed with a coffee in one of the squares, after checking out of my AirBnb. This was definitely the right choice.

 

 

Because I didn’t have too long until my flight, and even though I’d walked quite a lot of Rome, I chose to be Tourist Extraordinaire and bought a ticket for one of those hop-on-hop-off buses to see the bits of Rome I hadn’t quite made it round to. This was a genius idea, even if I say so myself – gave me a nice relaxing journey, I stopped off at a few of the attractions (Spanish Steps, Circus Maximus, etc etc) and had a trot round, and then made my way round the rest of the city. Annoyingly I didn’t have time to go to the Vatican or the Trevi Fountain, but I’ll be hitting these up the next time I go for sure.

 

 

Finished off the trip with a cheeky gelato at Roma Termini train station, and set back to the airport using the Leonardo Express airport transfer train.

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Overall, I liked Rome, but 3 days (2 days if we exclude Pompeii) was not nearly enough time to see everything I wanted to. I did, however, manage to scoff pizza, pasta, gelato, coffee, and so much mozzarella that I’m now just a walking ball of cheese, so at least that’s a positive. To summarise – would go back for the food and the drink but for God’s sake Italy, sort your bloody trains out.

(Also – severe apologies for the lack of photos on this post – I got a new phone yesterday and haven’t transferred a lot of pictures over yet, so will endeavour to do this soon. Probably. Maybe.)

R xx

Empties – August 2019

Alright lads? I’m currently writing this while flying over the Atlantic as you do – I’ve just been on a work trip to Florida and am just flying back, as pasty white as I was to begin with (as it’s a work trip, it won’t be documented here). But today we are not talking about my complexion – we are taking a closer look at what I used up last month. Bet you can’t wait, can you?

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Total number of products used up: 26

Estimated retail value of products used up: £198.68

Total value of products used up this year already: £1311.78

OK, not as busy as some months, but still quite a lot of products used up. Here’s the ol’ roundup below…

 

Hair Products

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(L-R: Pantene Colour Protect Shampoo & Conditioner, Pantene Volume & Body Conditioner, Umberto Giannini Extreme Hold Hairspray, L’Oreal Elnette Hairspray)

Pantene Colour Protect Shampoo & Conditioner – 6/10 – Meh – as previous posts will mention, I don’t have colour-treated hair so can’t attest to its colour treating properties, but I will say that it smells good and makes my hair feel shiny, so at least that’s something, right?

Pantene Volume & Body Conditioner – 6/10 – I am of a very diverse background, and as a result have very wavy, thick, voluminous hair. I’m not sure why I picked this up, as volume and body is the last thing my hair needs, but as it turns out it was shit at delivering both, so just acted as regular conditioner for me. Fair play, but probably not the one if you actually want thiccc locks.

Umberto Giannini Extreme Hold Hairspray – 2/10 – OK, so I’ve mentioned before on this ‘ere blog about how I use hairspray to set my makeup, right? Well, this was purchased on this basis, and unfortunately was absolutely horrible. Stank to high heavens of chemicals (seriously, don’t use this and stand near an open flame), was very gritty, and didn’t do a great makeup fixing job. I’m fully aware that it’s not its actual use, but seriously, it was awful. Do not purchase.

L’Oreal Elnette Hairspray – 7/10 – In stark contrast to the Umberto Gianno-no disaster above, this was very good (there’s a reason it’s been around for decades). A light mist, smelt good, and did a great job of fixing my makeup mask

 

Face Products

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(L-R: Garnier Micellar Water x 2, Garnier PureActive Face Scrub, Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean Face Wash, Simple Face Scrub, L’Oreal Face Mask, Random Japanese Brand Sheet Masks)

Garnier Micellar Water x 2 – 9/10 – Ah man, do I love this stuff. I’ve waxed lyrical about it for months now – will keep repurchasing until they stop making it. Love love love. The only thing I’d change is a fragrance, but it’s not exactly an essential.

Garnier PureActive Face Scrub – 8/10 – I got a load of these little samples a few years ago (yes, years), and finally used them all up this month. I really enjoyed these – they were very versatile (you can use it as a scrub, face wash AND mask!), smelt good and made my skin tingly soft and clean. A good budget buy to look out for.

Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean Face Wash – 8/10 – Another Soap and Glory skincare product, this face wash (officially a ‘cleansing milk’) was really lovely to use. Delicious apricotty fragrance, really soft and gentle on the skin, plus the bottle was HUGE so good bang for your buck too.

Simple Face Scrub – 2/10 – Onto a not-so-good product now, this was guff. Not a scrub by any stretch of the imagination, more a moisturiser with a bit of walnut shell in it. Did absolutely nothing for my skin. Would not recommend.

L’Oreal Face Mask – 6/10 – I’m really into the L’Oreal face masks at the moment – the Purify one is fantastic – but this one was a bit of a letdown. Not half as good as the Purify one – it was a pretty purple colour and it smelt nice but that’s all really, it didn’t actually do much for my skin. Skip this one and try out the light green variety.

Random Japanese Brand Sheet Masks – 8/10 – OK, I need to do some explaining here. Back when I was in Tokyo in 2017, I picked up a bunch of weird and wonderful sheet mask packs. Skincare is a BIG thing there, and they often use ingredients which aren’t exactly Westerner-friendly… such as these sheet masks, which include ‘horse placenta’ among its ingredients. Yes, horse placenta. And you know what – terrifyingly, it actually worked a treat. I don’t know how these dermatologists or skincare professionals discovered that putting horse placenta on your face cleared it up, but sure enough it did, and I was actually quite sad when I ran out of masks this month. What have I become?

 

Makeup

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(L-R: Essence Lash Princess, Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation, Rimmel Exaggerate Eyeliner, MAC Powder Blush, Urban Decay Eden Eyeshadow Primer)

Essence Lash Princess – 10/10 – My HOLY GRAIL mascara. NOBODY can TOUCH this £2.99 mascara. Keep your Lancomes, your Benefits, even your Maybellines, because this mascara trumps ALL of them – giving you falsh lash realness without any clumps at a bargain price. Seriously, Google it and thank me later.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation – 8/10 – This foundation is a cult foundation among the bloggosphere for its longevity and excellent full coverage. Not to blow my own trumpet but I have pretty decent skin and probably don’t need to wear full coverage every day – but I do, and this foundation does an excellent job at evening skin tone and providing good coverage while not masking me up. Good job EL, although I still think there are more ‘realistic’ foundations out there.

Rimmel Exaggerate Eyeliner – 8/10 – Rimmel has been one of my budget favourite brands for decades – and for good reason! This liquid eyeliner lasts a LONG time, has excellent pigment, a nice brush for application and is maximum five pounds. Bargain. Will inevitably be a repurchase.

MAC Powder Blush in ‘Fleur Power’ – 7/10 – A blusher I bought during the 2011 MAC obsession heyday, I thought that it was high time I used this up. And I didn’t even manage it over eight months of daily use. Didn’t even touch the sides. It got to the stage where the blush was looking quite chunky because my brush just didn’t pick up an even amount around the pan. So off to the MAC graveyard it goes. I would recommend picking one up if only for its longevity (do I really need to tell you that it lasted eight years?!), but maybe have a strategy for how to get the last remaining dregs out of the compact.

Urban Decay Eden Eyeshadow Primer – 2/10 – Ugh. I’ve been spoilt after using up my beloved Maybelline Color Tattoo eyeshadow primer, because this really did not do it for me. Greasy, split often on my eyelids, and didn’t exactly keep my shadow crease-free. Don’t bother.

 

Body Products

(L-R: Soap & Glory Clean Girls Body Wash, Zoella Pretty Polished Sugar Scrub)

Soap & Glory Clean Girls Body Wash – 8/10 – Another S&G shower gel bites the dust – and good God did it take its sweet time about it. Definite value for money, this shower gel had a lovely fragrance and a slight iridescence that made me feel like a mermaid at 5am every morning before work. Would repurchase once I’ve made it through my stash.

Zoella Pretty Polished Sugar Scrub – 8/10 – Say what you want about Youtubers, but they know how to put their name on a product that an underpaid R&D team within another company creates. This scrub was really nice. A gorgeous fragrance, very scrubby, and yet moisturising at the same time. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s marketed to a demographic about 15 years younger than me.

 

Miscellaneous

(L-R: Bath & Body Works Blackberry & Basil Foaming Hand Soap, Lavender Violets Gel Polish, CND Shellac Top Coat, Zoella Snow’Ella Body Mist, Sure Deodorant, He-Shi Tanning Mousse, Salon Services Acetone)

Bath & Body Works Blackberry & Basil Foaming Hand Soap – 9/10 – Do I really need to talk about how wonderful these soaps are again? Gorgeously scented, moisturising, and makes washing your hands a joy. Ugh love. Will obviously repurchase any time I head over to the US.

Lavender Violets Gel Polish – 7/10 – I found this random brand on Amazon after searching for the perfect cranberry gel polish, and found it in the unassumingly-named Lavender Violets brand. It isn’t quite as good as my beloved CND, but it does the trick and lasts nicely (around 2 weeks on average without chipping). Have already repurchased.

CND Shellac Top Coat – 8/10 – The perfect gel polish top coat. Shiny, durable and lasts ages on the nail. I’m only knocking off a few points because it’s a) expensive and b) a tiny bottle, but who am I kidding, I’ll buy it again.

Zoella Snow’Ella Body Mist – 2/10 – Meh, I had high hopes for this body mist/perfume because I absolutely loved the other fragrances in the range, but this was overpowering and very wintery (piney), which didn’t really work in the middle of summer. Glad it’s gone. Bye Felicia.

Image result for bye felicia

Sure Deodorant – 8/10 – Does the job. Done.

He-Shi Tanning Mousse – 7/10 – Mildly problematic name aside, I really liked this tanning mousse. I’m very used to your Ronseal-esque fake tans, so it was nice to have a slightly more natural glow this time round, and this mousse worked well – even coverage and didn’t get patchy at any stage in the process. It’s quite expensive for what it is, but if you’re looking for a very natural tan, you could do a lot worse.

Salon Services Acetone – 9/10 – I use acetone for my gel polish removal, and this is your bog-standard acetone. Works a dream and is usually relatively inexpensive. I usually decant into a little pump bottle because I find it a lot easier than faffing around with bottles and cotton wool and the like – twop tip.

***

I’m heading off to Rome on Saturday evening for a long weekend, so the travel posts will be reinstated (on an ad-hoc basis, but still, they’re back!). Hooray! Until Rome post…

R xx

 

Empties – July 2019

Jeez, what a month. Big changes in my personal life, and big moves in my, uh, beauty life? More on the personal side of things below, but for the meantime, check out this heaping pile of empties! (And yes, I’m still on a no-buy, this was all shamefully from my existing stash. Hence the need for a no-buy this year…)

img_3033

Total number of products used up: 28

Estimated retail value of products used up: £203.44

Total value of products used up this year already: £1113.10

Jesus Christ, two milestones this month! First time we’ve gone over £200 of retail value, and total value of products used up has gone over £1000! This is what happens when you stress-use products, people… reviews below!

 

Body Products

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(L-R: Millie Mackintosh Luxe Body Body Lotion, Korres Santorini Vine Body Milk)

Millie Mackintosh Luxe Body Body Lotion – 4/10 – Oh I wanted to like this because the smell was so good, but truth be told, the lotion was pretty shit. Super greasy, took ages to soak in, had a weird white aftereffect, and didn’t actually moisturise my skin that well, after all that. Still, it had a beautiful scent so it does gain some points there.

Korres Santorini Vine Body Milk – 9/10 – I was gifted this by my friend Caroline (Tron, what up?), and loved it. Smelled so good and was a very effective moisturiser, especially used in conjunction with the shower gel below (look at me using matching body lotion and shower gel, yeah I’m that bish). Would repurchase.

 

Bath/Shower Products

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(L-R: Molton Brown Templetree Body Wash, Korres Santorini Vine Shower Gel, French Connection Bath Foam)

Molton Brown Templetree Body Wash – 8/10 – Another gift from Mr Roams’ lovely mum, this was such a gorgeous scent and foamed up really nicely. The only drawback is that I want a bigger bottle now and they’re super spends.

Korres Santorini Vine Shower Gel – 7/10 – I didn’t find this quite as foamy as the Molton Brown, but the scent and moisturising made up for it. Delightful. Cheers again Tronpud.

French Connection Bath Foam – 4/10 – I got really into baths this month as it was a particularly stressful one, and this bath foam was used up in about three days. Not because I had three baths, but because it barely foamed up. Come on French Connection, the clue’s in the name – it needs to foam up for it to be considered a bath foam. Smelled nice, but was not fit for purpose. Bad bath foam.

 

Face Products

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(L-R: St Ives Gentle Smoothing Oatmeal Scrub, Nuxe Creme Fraiche de Beaute Light)

St Ives Gentle Smoothing Oatmeal Scrub – 5/10 – I’m a big scrub aficionado, as I’ve covered before on this ‘ere blog. Love a good exfoliation, the grittier the better. I’m sorry to say, that, despite the delightful oaty creamy scent, this really didn’t hit the spot for me. It was more like a cream than an exfoliator, and even though I appreciated the multi-tasking notion of it being a mask too, even that didn’t really do much for my skin. Soz St Ives. Love the Apricot one though.

Nuxe Creme Fraiche de Beaute Light – 6/10 – I used up the *proper* Nuxe Creme Fraiche de Beaute in May’s empties entry, and this was the light version. Now, I’ve gotta say, I’m not one for skin moisturisers…

Image result for dermatologists hate her

as I have very oily skin and any moisture – especially in the morning – makes me look like I’ve dipped my face in a fryer. And unfortunately, this was no exception. Smelt nice and I felt all fancy and French when I was using it, but as for its skincare properties? Meh.

 

Perfumes

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(L-R: Jennifer Aniston Perfume, Canmake Make Me Happy Body Spray)

Jennifer Aniston Perfume – 8/10 – OK, no shade here folks, but I really like this perfume. Yes, it’s a celebrity, and no, I don’t know how much Jennifer Aniston knows about perfume, but it smells almost identical to a discontinued Philosophy perfume I had ages ago, and for that I love it. It smells quite soapy and clean, with some floral notes underneath it. Really lovely and sophisticated IMO. Would repurchase.

Canmake Make Me Happy Body Spray – 7/10 – Oh this was cute. A purchase from my Japan trip, it’s actually a body spray aimed at teenage girls. Seeing as I’m officially double their target market’s age, I didn’t expect to enjoy it when I sampled it in the shop, but it was very fresh and so cute I couldn’t pass it up. It’s very sweet, don’t get me wrong, but come on, how could I not with that packaging?

 

Hair Products

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(L-R: Pantene Pro-V Colour Protect Conditioner, Pantene Pro-V Colour Protect Shampoo, Pantene Pro-V Micellar Conditioner, Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime Crystal Shine Finishing Oil)

(Note: in the interest of my time and sanity, I’m going to review the Colour Protect products together)

Pantene Pro-V Colour Protect Products – 6/10 – OK, so here’s the thing. I don’t have colour treated hair no mo – I’ve given up the bottle and the hairdresser visits, and I’m embracing my natural colour, which happens to be dark brown with a few white hairs and light brown tones around my face. So in all honesty I wasn’t expecting much from the colour protection claims of this combination. However, I was surprised at how good my hair felt and looked after using it. Smelled excellent too. I gave it a six because in all honesty I don’t know how good it is at its main claim, but give it a go. Or not, whatever.

Pantene Pro-V Micellar Conditioner – 4/10 – Like above, this was a nice lightweight conditioner, but as regular readers will know, I’m a cynic when it comes to using micellar as a beauty buzzword, so it goes down to a 4. Sorry ’bout it?

Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime Crystal Shine Finishing Oil – 7/10 – I’m not kidding when I say this serum took me a year to finish up. I have incredibly long and thick hair, so tend to use a fair amount of serum to keep it under wraps, but I swear this bottle kept self-replenishing. It was nice enough, made my hair shiny which I’m eternally grateful for, but seriously, took a year to use. True bang for your beauty buck.

 

Makeup

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(L-R: Fenty Beauty Foundation, Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer, Essie Fiji Nail Varnish, Studio 10 Makeup Mist, Maybelline Matte Maker Powder, Rimmel Fix & Perfect Makeup Primer)

Fenty Beauty Foundation – 9/10 – Rihanna got it goin’ on on the makeup front! This foundation was absolutely fantastic. Hands down amazing. Nice, natural (yet buildable) coverage, a generous bottle that lasted forever, an excellent range of shades to fit a variety of skin tones (LONG overdue), and a pretty reasonable price. I’ve got another bottle of this in my stash, and will most certainly be repurchasing once they’re both used up.

Urban Decay Original Eyeshadow Primer – 3/10 – This feels almost sacrilegious to type, but… I didn’t like this. I know, I know. *The* cult Urban Decay eyeshadow primer. I just… didn’t rate it. It felt greasy, and creased my eyeshadow, doing the one thing it was meant not to do. It also had a really weird smell, although this might have been down to the fact it was a sample I got with an eyeshadow palette ages ago. In my opinion, you’re better off with the much cheaper Maybelline Color Tattoo (reviewed here!). Thank me later.

Essie Fiji Nail Varnish – 8/10 – Shocker, I used up a regular nail varnish this month! It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of gel polishes and mostly wear them out of laziness, but I do occasionally dabble in your bog-standard polishes, and this happens to be one of my favourites. Just the right shade of pink-tinged white, goes with any outfit or look, and makes a tan look unreal. Have already repurchased!

Studio 10 Makeup Mist – 1/10 – I got this in a rogue Glossybox last year… and hated it. It did nothing for me in terms of fixing makeup, but it did blotch my makeup and was more of an irritating mist than anything else. Don’t bother.

Maybelline Matte Maker Powder – 6/10 – I bought this on the way to Dubai back in May, and all was well… until the powder’s metal tin detached from the plastic case it was in, and caused a right mess. I used it all up still, but it was a pain in the ass. Have bought Rimmel’s powder instead as a replacement.

Rimmel Fix & Perfect Makeup Primer – 9/10 – Excellent. Have already repurchased. See you next month.

 

Miscellaneous

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(L-R: Solait Wear Off Tan, Bath & Body Works Frosted Cranberry Hand Soap, Bath & Body Works Toasted Vanilla Chai Hand Soap, Betacap, Just Wax Vanilla Creme Wax, Soap & Glory Hand Food Hand Cream, Superdrug Women’s Health Vitamins, Soft & Gentle Roll-On Deodorant, Crest Toothpaste)

Solait Wear Off Tan – 7/10 – I bought a LOAD of these last year when they were on offer for 50p for some random reason. Nothing I love more than cheap fake tan, clearly – but turns out this is actually pretty good! Foams up nicely, applies easily, and looks pretty natural with minimal streaks. Knocked off a few points for biscuit scent, but to be honest if you want a good budget fake tan, you could do a lot worse than this.

Bath & Body Works Frosted Cranberry Hand Soap – 9/10 – Need I say how much I love these soaps? Foamy, moisturising, come in a load of different scents which last for ages on your skin. Love. This Frosted Cranberry scent was delightful – very fruity and wintery, which felt weird in the middle of summer but it *is* the UK – and overall really lovely to use. Ugh, can B&BW just open a branch here already?

Bath & Body Works Toasted Vanilla Chai Hand Soap – 9/10 – As above, but with a marshmallowy vanilla scent.

Betacap – 9/10 – Felt a bit weird adding this in to the month entry, but it’s a product I’ve used up that’s had a positive effect on me so I figured it deserves its place here. I get flare-ups of scalp psoriasis when I’m very stressed – it’s not painful but is a pain in the ass. I’m no medical professional but this really helped me out this month when I was under a lot of pressure – if you suffer from SP too, check it out.

Just Wax Vanilla Creme Wax – 9/10 – Ooh, this was a nice addition to my hair removal routine. Very vanilla-y, thick, smooth and applied nicely. My skin was super moisturised afterwards and also smelt of vanilla which was a nice little bonus. Would repurchase.

Soap & Glory Hand Food Hand Cream – 6/10 – Ehh, y’all know my feelings on S&G scent, and if it wasn’t for the scent I’d give this a lot more points. As it was, it was a very nice little hand cream which absorbed well, but did mean my hands stank of S&G. If you enjoy S&G, you’ll bloody love this.

Superdrug Women’s Health Vitamins – 2/10 – I might get some slack from the vitamin community for saying this (yes I know y’all exist), but I don’t really understand what vitamins are meant to do. It all seems a little snake-oil to me – I’ve never taken a vitamin and felt better after a certain amount of days. I’ve recently lost quite a lot of weight and bought these to try and supplement this – these looked nice on my dresser but that’s really all they’re good for in my opinion. Guess I’ll just continue being nutritionally deficient!

Soft & Gentle Roll-On Deodorant – 6/10 – I hate roll-ons, and this was left over from last year’s trip to Cuba. I know it’s bad for the environment to use aerosols, and I’m open to using other varieties of roll-on, but this didn’t work that well IMO. Used it up and will not be repurchasing.

Crest Toothpaste – 8/10 – With no added Shakira this time, this made my mouth clean. Good job, toothpaste.

******

So, I promised a ‘personal’ life update, and here it is – I’ve been offered another position within my company. Hooray! Because of this, my travel posts will continue to be slightly lessened as I get to grips with my new job. I’m off to Florida in September for training and to meet my new team, and will not be blogging this trip due to it being for work, but I intend to take a trip towards the end of the year, potentially to SE Asia, as well as a few weekend trips here and there. I’ll keep you updated but yeah, expect more empties posts rather than travel posts over the next few months!

R xx

Empties (and a check-in) – June 2019

It’s been 6 months since I started my No Buy Year, and what a 6 months it’s been. Lots of changes, lots of travel, lots of fun little adventures… but most importantly, no beauty purchases whatsoever. I know. I have no idea how I’ve managed to do this, but suffice it to say, my bank account is looking a lot healthier, my cupboards are no longer groaning at the weight of my stash, I feel all Marie-Kondo-smug at my newly minimal (for me) collection, and my skin has never looked better. Let’s take a dive into the junk I’ve been putting on my face and body this month – with a halfway data update and a prediction about what the next six months will bring.

Total number of products used up: 19

Estimated retail value of products used up: £175.68

Total value of products used up this year already: £909.66

Reviews below as per usual…

 

Body Products

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(L-R: Boss ‘Ma Vie’ Body Lotion, Body Shop ‘Vanilla Chai’ Shower Gel, Jo Malone ‘Lime Basil & Mandarin’ Bath Oil, Soap & Glory ‘Sugar Crush’ Body Scrub)

Boss ‘Ma Vie’ Body Lotion – 6/10 – Ah man, I’m really not sure I should give this a 6/10, but I will because I love the scent. The lotion was insanely runny, almost milk-like, so its moisturising qualities were fairly minimal, but it did make me smell fabulous. Even better paired with the perfume, which of course I also own.

Body Shop ‘Vanilla Chai’ Shower Gel – 6/10 – The Body Shop does fantastic shower gels, in a range of good fragrances, but this one really didn’t do it for me. Very spicy, overwhelmingly so, which made me feel slightly ill whenever I stepped into my bathroom afterwards. Meh. I’ve had better.

Jo Malone ‘Lime Basil & Mandarin’ Bath Oil – 3/10 – How this has an RRP of £45, I’ll never know. Maybe it’s because I don’t like oils (lol) but this left my skin greasy with an overbearing fragrance. It only gets points because it looked bougie in my bathroom, but in my humble opinion that ain’t worth £45.

Soap & Glory ‘Sugar Crush’ Body Scrub – 8/10 – I’d used this before a few years ago, but using it again over the past month reminded me why I loved it so much. Thick and substantially gritty, this left my skin smooth and moisturised, and it smelt great to boot, like a citrusy milkshake. Would definitely repurchase. Knocked points off because it got all over my shower and it’s hard to scrub off.

 

Haircare

(L-R: Tresemme 24 Hour Body Hairspray, L’Oreal Elvive Phytoclear Shampoo)

Tresemme 24 Hour Body Hairspray – 7/10 – This was a decent enough hairspray, but, uh, controversy alert… I actually use hairspray to fix my makeup, beauty pageant style. Worked pretty well for that, so I’ma stick with 7/10.

L’Oreal Elvive Phytoclear Shampoo – 6/10 – I’m not sure if this did anything for my psoriasis, but it smelt nice and felt luxurious on my hair. My hair was also incredibly shiny and smooth afterwards, so worth the £3 or however much it was, even if it didn’t stick to its scalp health claims.

 

Makeup

(L-R: Benefit ‘Big Easy’ Foundation, Rimmel ‘Fix & Perfect’ Primer, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Gold)

Benefit ‘Big Easy’ Foundation – 1/10 – Confession time, I never actually used this up, there’s still a little bit in there, but I hated it so much I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Greasy, patchy, made my skin dry in areas and oily in others. Coverage was ok, but nothing remarkable, and you could probably get better with a Rimmel high street number. Do not purchase.

Rimmel ‘Fix & Perfect’ Primer – 9/10. Bored of talking about this now, it’s great, go and buy it.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Gold – 7/10 – This was a lovely little highlighter, but sadly for me it broke and shattered all over my makeup bag when I was travelling earlier in the month. Upsetting on a number of levels – it was expensive and was also limited edition. Try it out if you’re in the market for a new highlighter though, it was lovely and very flattering/natural.

 

Skincare

(L-R: St Ives Apricot Scrub, Simple Facial Wipes, Thayer’s Facial Toner, Soap & Glory ‘The Fab Pore’ Purifying Foam, L’Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask, Enlite Super Face Facial Microdermabrasion)

St Ives Apricot Scrub – 7/10 – A classic scrub beloved by many who grew up in the 90s in the UK, it’s maintained its classic status, but may be a touch too abrasive now for my skin. I can’t believe how aggressive I was with this stuff when I was a teen, I’m shocked I had any skin left. Still does the job though, and smells nice to boot.

Simple Facial Wipes – 5/10 – These were pretty generic wipes, but they did the job just fine and were pretty cheap. Grab these if you’re in a pinch. Points knocked off because they’re fragrance free and I like my synthetic skincare scents.

Thayer’s Facial Toner – 2/10 – I picked this up in the States in April for a ‘treat yo’self’ session in my hotel room, but truth be told, I hated it. Greasy and stunk of old roses. Couldn’t wait to use it up. Avoid.

Soap & Glory ‘The Fab Pore’ Purifying Foam – 7/10 – This was a nice enough facial cleanser, but did leave my skin feeling kinda tight, so knocked off a few points.

L’Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask – 8/10 – Really enjoyed this face mask, it was cheap as chips and left my skin feeling amazing. Absolutely destroyed most of my flannels and towels though. Would probably opt for a lighter coloured mask in future.

Enlite Super Face Facial Microdermabrasion – 5/10 – I bought this last year in the States and it’s since been discontinued. Which is a good thing for all of you, as it was pretty average and didn’t, uh, microdermabrase (?) as well as I thought it was going to. It was also a surprisingly small pot.

 

Miscellaneous

(L-R: Mylee Pure Acetone, Bath & Body Works Spiced Mandarin Foaming Hand Soap, Sure ‘Bright Bouquet’ Deodorant, Zoella ‘Winter Wonderland’ Hand Cream)

Mylee Pure Acetone – 9/10 – Most of you know from previous posts that I do my own gel nails, and the removal process involves soaking cotton in pure acetone and wrapping it round your nails. This did the job in that it removed my polish and left my nails in fairly good nick. Thanks chemicals!

Bath & Body Works Spiced Mandarin Foaming Hand Soap – 9/10 – Loved this. Gorgeous scent and made my hands feel soft and well scented afterwards. Love love love.

Sure ‘Bright Bouquet’ Deodorant – 9/10 – Made me smell good. What else is there to say about deodorant?

Zoella ‘Winter Wonderland’ Hand Cream – 8/10 – As much as I hate Youtubers and the whole thing, I have to confess that this was a really nice hand cream. Non-greasy and smelt great. Probably would look for an alternative once I’m done with all of my current hand creams.

 

********************************************

Thoughts and Predictions

We’re at the halfway point of this experiment, and so I thought it would be interesting to summarise my thoughts so far (in classic ‘me’ fashion, I have quite a few), and predict, based on the patterns exhibited over the past six months, what the results will look like at the end of the year. Let’s go!

  • It takes far longer to use up a makeup product than you might think. Double the time you think, and triple the time if it’s a pressed product like an eyeshadow or a blusher.
  • Because of this, it’s almost insulting the amount of shit we get pushed on us as ‘must-have products’. I blame Instagrammers, Youtubers, generic influencers for this, as well as the wider media. Let’s look at the stats here – I have 18 eyeshadow palettes. 18. My mother bought me a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow palette when I was 16 – and I still haven’t used up even one of the six colours (it’s now turned into a sentimental piece for me). Most women will never use up a single eyeshadow palette, so why are we constantly being pushed to buy palettes? Find one good quality palette in shades you know you’ll wear, and stick to it. Don’t be an idiot like me.
  • Women – you do not need most of the products you think you do. Let me tell you something – I’ve been blessed with pretty good skin, and when I was in my twenties I treated it terribly. Slept in my makeup, used facial wipes frequently, never moisturised, never wore SPF. When I turned thirty, I thought I better do something about this or I’d turn into a leather handbag by the time I was forty, so I went out and I bought an entire skincare regime. Serums, weird oils, cleansers, soaps, all featuring weird peptides, vitamins, emulsions – you name it, it was in there. The second I started using the full range, my skin broke out, got inflamed, milia appeared around my eyes, and my cheeks burned up… because I was overloading my skin with chemicals and unnecessary steps. Don’t do this. Buy a good quality cleanser with minimal chemicals, a good facial SPF, drink water and get some sleep. You’ll be alright.
  • I’m using up some types of products far quicker than others. I obviously take showers/baths every day, so it’s pretty understandable that my shower gel collection has decreased quicker than my, say, nail polish collection – but I’ve been quite surprised how long it’s taking to use up makeup in comparison, especially as I also use the stuff daily. This has resulted in me still having a HUGE stash of things like fake tan, but barely any products like deodorant, toothpaste or shower gels left. Therefore, I’ve had to shift to what some bloggers/subreddits are calling a Replacement Or No Buy (RONB), which is still working well and means that at the end of this crazy experiment, I should hopefully end up with just one of everything. You know, like a normal person.

 

Predictions

  • I will reach over £2000-worth of empties by the end of this year (I’m currently at £909.66)
  • I will use up over 200 products this year (I’m currently at 113).
  • I will use up at least another five tubes of the Rimmel Fix & Protect Primer.

 

Ready for the next six months? I am! Let’s do this!

R xx

Empties – May 2019

May has ended and now we’re halfway through the year (what?!). Time to see what I liberally applied to myself last month!

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Total number of products used up: 15

Estimated retail value of products used up: £91.53

Total value of products used up this year already: £733.98

Reviews below!

 

Haircare

(L-R: Herbal Essences Body Envy Conditioner, L’Oreal Elvive Phytoclear Shampoo, L’Oreal Elvive Dream Lengths Hair Mask)

Herbal Essences Body Envy Conditioner – 5/10 – ok, starting off strong with a bog-standard conditioner I picked up in Dubai – this was fineIt wasn’t great, but neither was it terrible – it was just average. Hence why I gave it an average score. You’re welcome.

L’Oreal Elvive Phytoclear Shampoo – 6/10 – I bought this to try and help psoriasis after reading many positive reviews about it online, but did it help? Not so much. However, despite that, it was a lovely fresh shampoo – smelt divine (minty?), a nice thick pearlised texture, and made my hair feel super silky. So, all in all, not a bad shampoo I guess?

L’Oreal Elvive Dream Lengths Hair Mask – 8/10 – This was from a whole range that L’Oreal brought out last year around protecting long hair. Now, those who know me offline will know that I have exceptionally long hair and half of the battle is protecting the length from the triple threat of sun damage, heat damage, and split ends. This mask was apparently designed to help protect hair from all of the above with the view of growing hair long. I’m not 100% sure it worked in my case, especially as I got a haircut last week, but I will say that it was lovely to use. Really smooth, gorgeous scent, felt luxurious on my hair, and made it oh-so-smooth and manageable. Again, not sure about the claims that it’ll protect my long-ass locks, but it did make them feel and smell delightful.

 

Body Products

(L-R: Freemans Barefoot Foot Scrub, Body Shop Frosted Berries Shower Gel)

Freemans Barefoot Foot Scrub – 3/10 – Oh man, listen. I wanted to like this so much. Pedicures are one of my favourite treats and I wanted to be able to replicate salon treatments at home, so bought this on a whim last year. It was suitably scrubby, sure, but good god the smell was appalling. Very, very medicinal, and strong to boot. So much so that I actually couldn’t finish the tube. I’m sorry. I know this is meant to be ’empties’ but I had no choice. Don’t hate me?

Body Shop Frosted Berries Shower Gel – 8/10 – Ah, this was much better. Smelt divine and foamed up really well. The only drawback is that it was limited edition from Christmas about three years ago. Sorry lads. (Also, there’s only so much you can say about shampoo, deodarant and toothpaste… this ’empties’ series is really testing my writing flex)

 

Makeup

(L-R: Benefit They’re Real! mascara, Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creme de Rose, CND Shellac in Naked Naivete)

Benefit They’re Real! Mascara – 4/10 – So, I’ve used this mascara a few times before, but they must have changed the formulation somehow because this was awful. Smudged constantly, yet was somehow near impossible to remove from my actual lashes. Granted, it gave me my required spider leg lashes:

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but at what cost? £19, to be exact. Pass. There are so many other better (and cheaper) options out there.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creme de Rose – 10/10 – I’ve found it guys. The *perfect* eyeshadow base. It’s creamy, it’s a beautiful nude colour, it helps eyeshadow stay on the lid and not crease, it’s cheap, and it took FOREVER to use up (seriously, I’m talking a good two years – you do not need much). Run to your nearest Superdrug and grab it. I’m working on some Urban Decay eyeshadow primer at the moment and it just doesn’t compare.

CND Shellac in Naked Naivete – 8/10 – a beautiful nail colour, this is a long-time favourite of mine, and is the second bottle I’ve used up since October. My current nail colour of choice is a bright raspberry pink, but I’ll likely be going to this bad boy afterwards. Only drawback is that it does get quite gloopy quite quickly, but look at that colour – I mean…

Image result for cnd shellac naked naivete

 

Facial Products

(L-R: Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes, Nuxe Masque Creme Fraiche de Beaute)

Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes – 6/10 – I picked these up from Target a few months ago, and have been using them whenever I couldn’t be bothered to do the whole 3 step cleansing routine (note – a lot). They did the job and smelt nice, but I’m knocking some points off because these stung like hell. I wear a lot of makeup on the regular, and whereas these did a good job of removing the majority of it, they also made my eyes tear up because they were so strong. “Efficient but painful” should be the tagline here.

Nuxe Masque Creme Fraiche de Beaute – 6/10 – I was given this by a friend a few years ago, and have only just gotten round to using it up. I’m not great at using moisturiser daily – I have insanely oily skin, and I know you’re meant to use moisturiser every day but I really do not enjoy the ‘slip ‘n’ slide’ feeling of an oily face with moisturiser on it. Sorry, dermatologists everywhere.

Image result for dermatologists everywhere hate her

This was pretty nice to use though, smelt good and felt very luxurious. The only drawback is that it left a weird film on my skin which didn’t feel overly great. I’m currently using the ‘light’ version of this so will inevitably report back on that next month – I’m trying to use more moisturiser so I don’t age horribly and look like a handbag in five years.

 

Miscellaneous

(L-R: B&BW Winter Candy Apple Foaming Soap, Tesco Pro Antibacterial Hand Gel, Kiko Milano deodorant, Oral B 3D White Toothpaste, Hand & Face 10 Vanilla Mini Wipes)

B&BW Winter Candy Apple Foaming Soap – 8/10 – I’ve waxed lyrical about these hand soaps before (seriously, could I sound any sadder? It’s soap), and this one is no exception. HURRY UP AND OPEN A BRANCH OVER HERE B&BW. PLEASE.

Tesco Pro Antibacterial Hand Gel – 3/10 – This worked, but smelt awful, so knocking a lot of points off for that. I want my hands to be clean, but I also want them to smell decent.

Kiko Milano deodorant – 6/10 – This has been discontinued now I think, but it was my “spare” deodorant for a while. Excellent staying power and did the trick really well, but it had the opposite problem to the hand gel in that it had no scent at all. Which was really odd to me. So, because it’s my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want, I’m knocking off 4 points for it. I want artificial scents, goddammit, and I want them now.

Oral B 3D White Toothpaste – 9/10 – It’s toothpaste.

Hand & Face 10 Vanilla Mini Wipes – 8/10 – Mama Roams bought these for me randomly a few months ago (maybe she saw the state of my car?), and I finally used them up this month. They were super cute and smelt amazing, but knocking off a few points because they dried up pretty quickly, which negates the idea of handy mini wipes really. Ah well!

I’ve already used up a STACK of products for next month, so see you then for a Bumper Post™!

R xx

Dubai – May 2019

The latest in my solo travels saw me visit a place I’d only gone to for a stopover before, but with £200 return flights with Etihad and some oddly cheap hotels, I couldn’t exactly say no, could I? UAE, let’s have at ya!

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I left work and headed to Heathrow on 2nd May for an overnight flight to Abu Dhabi with Etihad. Obligatory lounge wanker behaviour (stuffing my face with free pasta and prosecco) and a bit of a wait, and I was on the flight in no time. I’d never flown Etihad before and was pleasantly surprised – the film selection wasn’t as vast as Virgin/Emirates, but the food was pretty good and the seat legroom was phenomenal for economy (I have 36″ legs, this is crucial for me). The only drawback for me (and it’s a very minor complaint) was that the music piped through the sound system on repeat was insanely annoying after a while, but given that’s the only complaint I could come with, I’d say that was pretty good going, no?

We landed in Abu Dhabi at 6.30am or so on Friday 3rd May. As far as I’m aware, Etihad only fly into Abu Dhabi, but they do offer a free coach shuttle to Dubai which does need to be booked ahead of time. Head outside Abu Dhabi airport, turn right towards the ‘buses’ sign, and you should see the Etihad coach with some benches and shelter outside. The coach drops you off an hour or so later at a pretty derelict shopping centre in the middle of Dubai (with terrifying plastic clowns outside – remember that and you’ll know you’re in the right place), but from there it’s pretty easy to get anywhere in Dubai with local taxis/Uber/Careem.

Image result for abu dhabi airport etihad coach

Look for a coach/shuttle bus like this outside AD airport…

A quick word on transport in UAE – Uber is pretty common and used a lot, but Careem is the local app, and usually has a lot of deals and special offers on, so you may be able to get some free rides. When I went, it was right at the beginning of Ramadan, so there were plenty of codes and coupons around. Just a heads up – make sure your payment card is synced up to it before leaving the UK, or you could have some issues for some reason (the app did NOT like my UK debit card).

Right, so. Dubai. It was pretty bloody hot, humid, and sweaty the second I stepped off the air-conditioned coach, and I couldn’t wait to either get back in some air-con, or dive into a nice cool pool. Fortunately, the cheapo hotel I’d booked had both. I managed to get a sweet deal – £88 for 3 nights! – at a Premier Inn in Al Jaddaf, which was around a 15 minute drive from central Dubai (might be the reason for the price?). The hotel is relatively new and large, and there were building sites around the hotel, but hey, it had a pool and aircon, what more do you really need?

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The pool I spent an inordinate amount of time in/by

I checked in on Friday at around midday, had a little kip, and then decided to launch into Dubai life at full throttle by subjecting myself to the Dubai Mall on a Friday night (which is the equivalent of a Saturday night in the UAE).

Dubai is synonymous to Brits for being a mecca for three things – large attractions (what up Burj Khalifa?), tax-free salaries, and insane shopping centres, and the Dubai Mall was no exception. This place was huge. The second largest mall in the world in terms of total land area, it has over 1200 shops (most of which I visited), 14000 parking spaces, and had 92 million visitors in 2015. It was no joke. So of COURSE I started off there.

 

I spent a long time just wandering around the shops and trying to get my bearings. It sounds ridiculous for a grown-ass woman to get lost in a shopping centre (and to feel frequently overwhelmed at the sheer size of it all), but it happened several times and it was mildly stressful trying to figure out exactly where I was. Even the Dubai Mall official app didn’t help me that much, although I’d recommend downloading it anyway as you may just be smarter than me. I ended up window shopping most of the time (it was relatively expensive, guess they have to make up for those tax free salaries somehow – and I’m also on a FIRE journey so unnecessary spending on stuff I don’t need is more or less verboten), but it was still fascinating to truly see how the other half life, and slightly depressing when you realise just how much capitalism and consumption is valued there. I had my AED70 sandwich and chips, and that was enough for me. Sorry not sorry, Dubai.

The next day, I had a lazy morning/early afternoon by the pool (standard – for my international readers, I’m British, and we take sun whenever and wherever we find it). I managed to get both a pretty nice tan, and also a lot of ogling by slightly pervy men, which as a solo female traveller is always a barrel of laughs. The next morning saw a rather unfortunate incident with one of these pervy men, which I’ll document further down below, but Saturday morning saw very few incidents fortunately. I had a spot of food and drink before going onto my next Dubai activity – a desert dune safari!

I booked the desert dune safari before arriving in the UAE, on the recommendation of one of my (now-ex) colleagues who said it was well worth doing. I was a little apprehensive because I a) was travelling by myself, and b) am old enough to remember the old adage of “don’t trust meeting anyone on the Internet by yourself” (even though that’s how I met Mr Roams, but whatevs), but I booked the trip through Arabian Adventures anyway (for those interested, it was the Evening Desert Safari), and at 4.30pm a driver came and picked me up from my hotel to start the excursion.

The desert dune safari itself was more of a convoy with around 20 other vehicles all driving out to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. There were 5 other people in my vehicle – two couples and one of the husband’s sisters – and the driver, who was a friendly man who kept calling me Miss Rosi and was highly amused at the fact I was by myself. The drive to the desert took around an hour, and once we got to the gate of the conservation reserve, the tyres on the jeep were let down and we set off to drive at high speed over the dunes.

 

As you can see, it was quite bumpy.

After about half an hour of doing this and feeling increasingly sicker, we drove to a campsite where we ate, drank and watched a Turkish (I think?) dancer perform, which was pretty cool. It wasn’t quite the small intimate dinner I was hoping for – there were around 200 other people there – but it was fun to chat to lots of different people, eat lots of pasta, and watch the dancer who was awesome. There was also an opportunity to sandboard, hold a falcon, ride a camel, have henna, and smoke shisha, but I chose to watch the dancer instead because I’m old and broke.

 

Eventually we made our way back to the hotel where I was dropped off and slept pretty damn soundly.

The last full day saw me wake up late, go to the pool for a top-up tan, get mildly assaulted by an idiot who swum into me and grabbed my waist. Despite us being the only two people in the pool, he said that he didn’t have his goggles. Funny that he’d managed to swim several laps absolutely fine before I got into the pool, huh?

After throwing an absolute fit at this idiot, I got out of the pool, got dressed, and ventured back to the Dubai Mall in order to visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and conveniently accessible from the mall.

Unfortunately for me, going to the tallest building in the world came at an equally tall price, and they wanted to charge me £80 just to go to the 124th floor – not even the highest floor! So I said “no thanks” to that, went to the Cheesecake Factory, and decided to Google Image what the views from the 124th floor would look like instead. I’d recommend you’d do the same if your wallet’s too small for your fifties, and your diamond shoes are too tight.

Image result for burj khalifa views

The view I missed out on because I’m too cheap

All in all, it was a lovely little trip and break to go somewhere I’d never been before (other than Morocco and the Maldives, this was the only other predominantly Muslim country I’d been to). The people were so welcoming and friendly, especially when they realised I was travelling alone – nothing was too much for them to accommodate and the customer service in the restaurants and hotels was ridiculously good. Just be warned that yes, it’s a pretty expensive country, and to be conscious of dressing appropriately in public places (don’t leave shoulders or knees exposed). Other than that, you’re golden. Unlike my wallet.

R xx