M&J London Larkin | The Summer Spa Scent of Dreams



I used to be obsessed with candles. Like REALLY obsessed. I don't buy or burn them as much as I used to as I've generally become a bit disinterested, especially with a certain mainstream brand starting with the letters Y and C. I've been leaning more and more to independent brands, and over the last year I've found some incredible ones, offering beautiful scents and incredible quality wax that make me wonder why inferior brands managed to become quite so popular. One brand that has seriously impressed me with everything I've tried, and has quite possibly become my favourite candle brand, is M&J London, who I've spoken raved about a couple of times before on this blog.





Founded by Jennifer McNabb, M&J London Ethical Luxury Candles produce beautiful soy wax candles in a variety of stunning scents, all inspired by Jennifer's travels, experiencing different areas of the world. M&J London puts ethical practices, sustainability and quality at the heart of the brand. This emphasis on ethics comes from Jennifer's past as a designer of high street fashion, experiencing first hand the effect 'fast fashion' had on labour and environmental standards. She wanted to 'Be the change you want to see in the world', and it certainly is refreshing. The brand even donates a proportion of profits (50p small candle/£1 large candle) to women's charity nia, and uses recycled glass jars.

M&J London candles use Rainforest soya wax and a lead-free cotton and linen wick for a clean and purified burn, and the scents are custom-made by a perfumer. Essential oils aren't always ethically sourced, so the brand uses a smaller proportion, combined with aroma chemicals to maintain the balance between ethics and luxury. The candles definitely have that luxury feel, without quite the eye watering price tag of the likes of Diptyque and Jo Malone. Initially, I felt that £35 was still in that luxury price range for me, but for candles that I genuinely get joy out of, and for scents that I will return to year after year, I'd be more than happy to invest. 




Launching on the first official day of Summer (June 21st) is the newest scent from M&J. Larkin* (from £25) takes inspiration from the Skylark, soaring between heaven and earth with its beautiful song, embodying the feeling of serenity, tranquillity and calm. As the bird flys, the breeze ruffles the stunning blue blooms of the larkspur, representing joy. Larkin takes a mix of gorgeous white florals, headed by uplifting neroli which immediately transports you to a spa setting. Ylang ylang aids relaxation, whilst sweet geranium imparts balance, harmonised by a basil note. It is a beautiful scent, and one that could work in a variety of settings. Instinctively, I thought of this as a bathroom scent, one to pop on while you fill the tub, but its uplifting nature would also be great for an office.

This is the first time that I have had one of the small candles, and it's a great size, burning for around 30 hours. To minimise tunnelling, you need to burn long enough so the wax pools over the entire width of the candle, which can take 2-3 hours for a large candle, but with a smaller one it only takes about an hour so it's great when you don't have as much time. I also love burning candles on my bedside table, and the smaller size is fab for popping on the side of the bath. Once again, this brand has really impressed me, and it'll only be so long before I delve into the rest of their repertoire (well, once I've gotten through my ridiculously large stash...).

What kind of candle scents do you gravitate towards?



- Post contains PR samples (*) -
- This does not affect my views & I will always give my honest opinion of a product -

Tried, Tested & Approved: New Additions To My Makeup Bag #1

Tried, Tested & Approved: New Additions To My Makeup Bag


I've been thinking about doing a post like this for a while, a roundup post detailing all that products that have earned their rights to be fully fledged members of my makeup bag. I try a lot of beauty products, and not everything makes it into my daily rotation. Some items simply don't impress me, but even those that do can often get cast aside in favour of something else. I also wanted a place to chat about some of the products that aren't necessarily Monthly Favourites worthy (although this month, most of them are, and you can scroll to the end to watch that video), but those that have still made their way into my everyday stash. Out of everything that I've tried over the last month or so, these are the ones that are here to stay...

Base

When it comes to primer and foundation, there's nothing new to see here, but for concealer I've been loving the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer. I got this around the end of April and it's really become part of my routine, especially when I want something full coverage on my dark circles! It has a thick texture which can take some getting used to, but I warm a small amount between my fingers before patting on to my under eye area. It really brightens everything up and the high coverage means it works particularly well for spot concealing blemishes too. Now that the weather is hotting up, I've been making more effort to prolong the wear-time of my foundation. Something I've welcomed back is the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray*, which has the finest mist and sets my base really well for the day ahead. I've been using a lot more powder lately, so this keeps my complexion looking fresh rather than cakey.

Face

The Maybelline Master Contour Palette has made it back into my rotation this month, and I've been really enjoying using a separate contour product rather than just using bronzer. This Medium/Dark palette has a really nice, cool toned contour shade that does a great job of sculpting cheekbones, particularly if you use the flat brush provided! For highlighter, I've been trying out a few recently, and I was pretty impressed with the offerings from Primark (so much so that I've reached for them more than the Jeffree Star X Manny MUA Skin Frost I reviewed last month!). I picked up the Mermaid Highlighter, which is an icy white with a unique blue/purple shift, and the Pure Glow Highlighting Palette, which has 4 shades. I've been loving the white shade called Desert and the lighter gold called Glimmer, and they have this gorgeous 'lit from within' glow without looking at all glittery. The only downside however is that the Primark highlighters are not overly long lasting on the skin - they lose their 'pop' after a few hours, even when applied with setting spray. I've also been making full use of the Morphe M510 Brush, which has become my method of choice when it comes to applying highlighter. It grabs just the right amount of product and is the perfect size for the tops of the cheekbones.


Tried, Tested & Approved: New Additions To My Makeup Bag

Eyes

For eyes, I've been really enjoying playing around with the L'Oreal Infallible Eye Paints as I picked up three shades not too long ago. My faves are Sunset Goals, which is a matte orange, and Cocky Bisque - a shimmery gold. Sunset Goals makes a great base for a warmer bold eye look, or simply all over the lid with a matte brown in the crease for everyday, and Cocky Bisque is great as a base for gold shadows to intensify the look. I've tried A LOT of mascaras recently, but one that I've been coming back to is the Maybelline Colossal Big Shot*. I'm not usually into natural bristle mascaras, but this one has a great wand which really gets into the root of the lashes to provide a good amount of volume, curl and length with this amazing fluttery finish which I've only ever gotten from false lashes!

Lips

The main new addition lately has been my first Jeffree Star Cosmetics Velour Liquid Lipstick, which I picked up in the shade mannequin. It's easy to apply with a comfortable formula, and I'm obsessed with the shade. It has just the right balance of pink and brown tones, and is such a 'my lips but better' shade. For days when I've not been wearing liquid lipstick, I've gone for a more natural approach. I've been reaching for the Barry M Lip Liner in Pose which, if you've seen my Kylie Lip Kit Dupes video, you'll know I wasn't overly excited by. It lacks in creaminess and pigmentation, but this actually works in its favour, making it the perfect shade for over lining your lips. I like to then pat the Essence Sheer & Shine Lipstick in 09 I Feel Pretty over the top, which is a deep rosy shade, for a natural flush.



What have you added to your makeup bag recently?





- Post contains PR samples (*) and affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give my honest opinion of a product -

The Perfume Society Scented Skincare Collection: What's Hot & What's Not!

The Perfume Society Scented Skincare Review


Recently, The Perfume Society collaborated with subscription box brand Latest In Beauty, and together they came up with the Scented Skincare collection* (£22). A travel bag packed full of skincare, with each product earning their place in the collection due to their wonderful scents. I wholehearted agree that skincare has to smell amazing. Not only does it encourage you to use it day after day, meaning results are much more likely, but it contributes to the experience - a skincare ritual that either sets you up or winds you down depending on the time of day. You may have seen my First Impressions video of the Scented Skincare collab, and I've had time to give it a thorough testing, so here's my round-up of the products that float my boat, and those that I wasn't so fussed about.


What's Hot!

I had a couple of sure-fire favourites from the Scented Skincare bag, some that I was obsessed with from the word "go". The Sukin Detoxifying Clay Mask (£11.95) was one of them, from its Battenberg cake scent to the baby-soft feeling it left on my skin. It's nicely detoxing, without stripping my skin and it has become my clay mask of choice as of late. I also really loved the Amie New Leaf Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish (£5.95), mostly because of the incredible scent of orange blossom, with a hint of creamy mango, and a green note in there too. If only I could bottle that and have it in perfume form! That aside, it's a gorgeous exfoliator, being creamy and having a good amount of scrub whilst still being pretty gentle. My last favourite from the collection was the Rosalena Rock & Rose Facial Oil (£42). There's something about oils that feels oh so luxurious! This one is packed full of rose, geranium, jasmine, and ylang-ylang and provides a nourishing treat for the skin.


The Perfume Society Scented Skincare Review


What's Good...

I've been using the Balance Me Restore & Replenish Face Cream (£40) a lot and I can see why it's been included in the bag. It smells wonderful with a herbaceous neroli scent. It has rather a balmy texture and feels nice on the skin, however it hasn't quite made it into my favourites as I prefer a richer moisturiser. It doesn't leave your skin looking shiny, so I think it would be nice for normal/combination or even oily skins and it's natural too. The Ultra Sun SPF 30 (£20) is something that I've been very grateful of due to the weather we've been having! I haven't used it a ton yet as I'm still loving my Merumaya Youth Preservation Moisturiser* which has SPF 20, but it's really good as SPF goes. It is lightweight and absorbs quickly, and leaves a nice base for makeup. 

I technically can't say too much about the MOA Fortifying Bath Potion (£27.50) as it's a single dose and I'm waiting for the perfect time to use it! However it does smell lovely (really minty and fresh) and you really can't go wrong with a bath oil. Something I have had quite a bit of use of however is the ThisWorks Sleep Plus Trouble Shooter (£35) It's basically their Deep Sleep Pillow Spray in a form where you spray yourself, rather than the pillow, and it has a moisturising formula too. I tend to spray my wrists (out of perfumista habits) and my chest/neck area to help me drift off. The scent is a relaxing lavender and vetiver blend, although there's a certain note that I'm not sure about. It's still a lovely product and I enjoy the concept - spraying yourself is more justifiable than your pillow when the product is fairly pricey!


The Perfume Society Scented Skincare Review


What's Not*
*There's not a bad product in this collection per say, but there were a few products that I wasn't so into. 

I wasn't overly keen on the scent of the Aromatherapy Associates Renewing Rose Body Cream (£35), as I'm not a big lover of the Geranium note, however it is really nice and rich whilst still being lightweight. The same goes for the Aurelia Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream (£28), the scent wasn't quite my cup of tea, but as hand cream goes, its a lovely one. The Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Body Lotion (£22.95) also didn't overly excite me, but me getting excited about body lotion is pretty rare anyway, I find it such a chore! Like I said, I have no issues with the formulas of the products, and scent is so subjective, so these products could still be for you!

Overall, I've been really impressed by the Perfume Society X Latest In Beauty Scented Skincare collection, and I've taken many of the products and put them in my everyday skincare routine. I'd definitely recommend checking this out if you're into skincare, as it's great value for money with lots of higher end brands in there. With lots of travel sizes, it would make the idea pre-holiday purchase, and of course you can make good use of the toiletry bag for all your bits and bobs. It would be great for gifting too, particularly for those who love both fragrance and skincare!

Which product do you have your eye on?





- Post contains PR samples (*) & affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views & I will always give an honest opinion of a product -

Highlights of May: Ibis Lates & Manfrotto Vlogging Masterclass

Highlights of May Ibis Lates Manfrotto Vlogging Masterclass


My first monthly vlog is here! This month, my Highlights post has come in the form of a vlog, and it documents some of the best bits from the past 30 days. I kicked things off at the start of the month by heading to Birmingham with my gal pal Emmie, for the Ibis Lates event at their New Street Station Hotel. In a collaboration between Ibis and The Roundhouse, the Ibis Lates events aim to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust while showcasing some of the best upcoming artists in an intimate gig setting.

After a quick burrito (can't argue with that), we made our way to our home for the night and got ready for the evening ahead. When we went downstairs, the lobby/breakfast area of the hotel had been transformed into a fully fledged gig venue, complete with green room which became our base for the event. First in the line-up was Kenan Kian, the perfect choice to open the event with his upbeat sassy tunes, and let's be real, anyone that starts a track "this is for all the bullshit bitches out there" gets my seal of approval! What was most inspiring was to hear how he had dealt with homelessness and other issues, which obviously have influenced his performance and songwriting. Next up was soulful Malunga, who brought a beautiful voice with an eclectic mix of influences before the headline act. Birmingham-based duo Ekkah took to the Ibis Lates stage to deliver an upbeat set, full of good vibes and 80's/electro-pop influences. It was a brilliant night and I'd definitely recommend going to any of their future events for a budget-friendly night (tickets are £5) of great music, all in aid of charity.





My other Highlight of the Month had to be going down to London for the Manfrotto Masterclass, a day of vlogging education from the experts. After bumping into pal Annie at St Pancras, Starbucks in tow (I learnt the hard way that their Cinnamon Buns don't taste as good as they look), we headed to the event held at Lumiere Studios in Southwalk. First up was a masterclass in all things YouTube, direct from a vlogger's mouth. The lovely Josie from Fashion Mumblr gave us the inside scoop on everything from turning viewers into subscribers and how to beat that bloody YouTube algorithm (don't even get me started...). It turned into a bit of a Q&A situation and I left confident that I was on the right track, with a few new things to try too. Some key things that I took were: a) publish straight after uploading instead of scheduling (the algorithm doesn't priortise scheduled videos) and b) publish outside of "popular" times (lessens the competition to get your video seen).

The next masterclass was from expert photographer Jim Marks (who has produced both still and video campaigns for big-name brands like Dove and Nike, as well as shot with celebrities including Hugh Laurie and Jennifer Saunders) all about lighting, something that I was very eager to learn about. One thing that I really took from the talk was that it wasn't so much about the type of lighting you have, more so what you do with it. He spend a lot of time explaining how light moves and how to manipulate it to get it to work for you, with things like diffusers and reflectors. I currently have a pair of softboxes, and had been wondering whether to purchase a ringlight, but I've since altered the positioning of the light source. Having one light above you pointing down at a 45 degree angle works best (although watch the dark shadows underneath your chin as you might need a reflector) and then the other light can be used to brighten the background. It's made so much difference!

Out of anything, Jim recommended the Lykos LED lights (from £300.95), which are expensive but a lot more space-saving than my current setup, as well as the Lumimuse 3 LED Light (£45.95) for vlogging. I've opted for the more affordable, pocket-friendly ML120 12 LED Light (currently £19.98), which I'm looking forward to playing around with on my camera, as well as on my iPhone with the help of the ShoulderPod G1 Grip* (£24.90), which we were kindly gifted at the event. The last masterclass had a focus on iPhone photography, and it's definitely encouraged me to ditch the camera in favour of more "in the moment" content for vlogs, and they recommended using an app like FiLMic Pro (£14.99) where you can use manual functions to manipulate your lighting situation for better quality footage. It was a really informative day, and I've already put some of the tips into practice! P.S. You can use code FOLLOWER17 for 20% off on the Manfrotto website!

Make sure you check out the vlog and subscribe in time for next month's!
What has been your highlight from the last month?





- Many thanks to both the Ibis Lates and Manfrotto teams for having me at their events -
- As always, this does not affect my view and I will always give an honest opinion of a product/brand/service -

Superdrug Solait Dry Oil: The £4.99 Bondi Sands Dupe!

Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil Review Bondi Sands Dupe


Superdrug's own sun and tanning range Solait have undergone a bit of a makeover for the 2017 summer season, now sporting the most Insta-perfect pink bottles with on-trend typographic logos. The range is all priced under the £5 mark (and often on buy one get one half price!), and includes everything from bronzers (which I've heard really good things about), fake tan, SPFs and instant tans. I'n going to be honest and say that fake tan is one of the areas of beauty where I'm pretty much clueless. That and false eyelashes. I'm a lazy girl and things like this are a bit too much faff for me...

I never really enjoyed the process of fake tanning until last year, when I first tried Bondi Sands Liquid Gold. The sticky mousse formula has been replaced by a silky, hydrating oil that smelled just like coconuts, and delivers a deep olive tan that doesn't stain the bedsheets. It was an all-round winner, apart from the price. At £14.99 for 150ml, it was triple the price of my previous St Moritz (oh how that stuff reminds me of uni night out prepping!) and I found after just one use I'd used a good 1/5 of the bottle.


Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil Review Bondi Sands Dupe


I had a bit of a nosey through the new Superdrug range and my brain started ticking when I saw the Solait Tanning Oil*. Could this be a dupe for my favourite fake tan? It sure sounded similar! It is described as being easy to apply and quickly absorbed, enriched with Argan Oil, Aloe Vera and Vitamin E to moisturise the skin for longer lasting results. Side-to-side, the products are certainly very similar in terms of concept. Both products feel the same on the skin, with a base of Argan Oil. The Superdrug one also has grapeseed and sweet almond oil, and the Bondi Sands uses Jojoba Oil. The initial scents are slightly different - the Superdrug one claims to have a tropical scent, which personally I think has a minty tinge, although it's still pleasant, and the Bondi Sands has a gorgeous coconut scent. Whilst both have a little bit of that biscuity developing scent, its certainly nothing compared to most traditional fake tans. 

I usually apply the Tanning Oil on dry, freshly exfoliated skin (I avoid using an oil-based scrub before use) with a mitt but I've found using an old sock over a latex glove makes application a bit more precise. The Superdrug oil has a bit more of a tint to it than the Bondi Sands, so you can see where you've applied it a little better. I remember once completely missing my left calf when I applied the Bondi Sands in dim light, oops! My skin is left feeling really nourished, and I really think this helps the tan look a lot healthier and last longer too. I like to apply a tanning oil in the morning on a lazy day, as I don't like that sweaty feeling you get when you leave it overnight. These dry oils aren't sticky like mousses or lotions, so you can get dressed shortly after and go about your day (I still like to wear loose clothes though!). Both tans start to develop in 2-3 hours, but you don't technically need to rinse the tan off. I usually just have a shower as normal before going to bed.


Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil Review Bondi Sands Dupe


The shades are slightly different, with the Bondi Sands being more olive in tone, although the Solait certainly isn't orangey - it's kind of that glow you get after a day in the sun. For me, the Solait Tanning Oil builds a nice amount of colour whilst still looking natural, but if you're darker skinned, you may want something more intense. You can apply another coat after 30 minutes to get a more intense colour however. I found that the Solait Tanning Oil lasted really well on my skin, despite not the best at remembering to use a scrub every couple of days. Even still, it lasted a good 7 days, and didn't go at all patchy. 

Personally, I like both tans and each has its positives. The Superdrug Solait Tanning Oil is a lot cheaper, and I find due to it being less dark, it's more foolproof, and I like how it lasts and fades on me. I prefer the Bondi Sands scent, and the fact that it's deeper and more olive toned may also be a positive depending on your preference. However I don't find that the Bondi Sands does enough to warrant paying an extra £10, so I think if I had to repurchase one out of the two, it'd be the Superdrug Tanning Oil. It definitely is similar enough to be called a dupe, and I'm really happy I've found an oil-based tan I can apply regularly without feeling guilty of the price!


Have you found any good dupes recently?


- This post contains PR samples (*) and affiliate links -
- This does not affect my views and I will always give my honest opinion of a product/service -

ICYMI: This Week's Most Read Posts

Hi I'm Kirstie & I'm the Girl with an addiction to perfume

Hi I'm Kirstie & I'm the Girl with an addiction to perfume
Behind The Scent © . QUINN CREATIVES .