Now some people may see the title of this post, and think “obviously!” Hurray if you are one of those people, but I have recently been shocked at the amount of people I see out and about with very dirty, clogged up make up brushes.  Some of my friends have also admitted to me they can be a bit lazy when it comes to cleaning brushes and sponges, but it is so important and can help your skin stay healthy. I know it is something that we may not have time for every day, so here are some handy tips for keeping your brushes clean.

TOP TIP: If you are pushed for time to wash your brushes every day, at least wipe them with a baby wipe, just to get the excess make up and bacteria off.

Then I would say wash your brushes at least once every week. I do mine on a sunday as I am usually make up free that day.

Step 1) Run warm water over you brushes. You should notice some of the pigment immediately washing off of your brush.

Step 2) Use a brush cleanser or shampoo and work it into the bristles of your brush.

MAC brush cleanser £8.50 is very good (Get it here) What is so good about this product is that  even when you think you’ve got all the make up off the brush, a squeeze of this cleanser soon shows you there is more! It really seems to get rid of every last bit of make up ( and hopefully bacteria )

If the MAC cleanser is breaking the bank, (which it can sometimes for me as I have a lot of brushes to clean) then Johnsons Baby Shampoo does a really great job. At the moment it is only £1 at boots (get it here) It lathers up nicely, and effectively gets your brushes clean. The good thing is that because it is meant for babies it is kind to skin, plus I think it smells nice!

Step 3) Thoroughly rinse the cleaning product from the brushes and dab dry with tissue.

Step 4) Re-shape your brushes and lay on tissue to dry.

If you do this on a regular basis I genuinely believe it makes a difference to your skin.

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Last week I went to see Shrek The Musical with some girl friends. Now bearing in mind we are all in our early 20’s, it was surprising how much we all enjoyed it! Similarly like Legally Blonde the musical, I had my reservations about how Shrek would work, as the film isn’t a musical and I was uncertain how they could visually achieve some scenes on the stage. Shrek is after all, a very well-known film and the characters are well-loved, so I was hesitant as to how the UK cast could take on the voices and personalities that are so synonymous with Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. I needn’t have worried. Shrek The Musical delivered on all levels. It was funny, had some great songs, and some of the visual elements were SPECTACULAR.

As a BIG Girls Aloud fan I was slightly disappointed that Kimberley Walsh wasn’t in the performance I saw ( I almost cried ) but the girl who did play Fiona, Alice Fearn did have an incredible voice. I have always liked Richard Blackwood ( a few of his songs still appear unashamedly on my iPod ) and I was pleasantly surprised at his performance as Donkey. Nigel Lindsay was aptly a disgusting ogre with a heart as Shrek and I am literally in shock that this is the same man who played Barry in Four Lions! Leigh Anne Stone played the gingerbread man and her voice absolutely blew me away but this show would not be half of what it is without Nigel Harman.

I literally could not believe my eyes seeing Harman camp it up as Lord Farquaad. My only previous experience of Harman was of course in Eastenders, and clearly this role is the polar opposite, but I cannot express how funny I found his performance. His facial expressions, his dancing, not to mention the fact he is ON HIS KNEES THE ENTIRE TIME…it was truly impressive. I especially love the nod to Wiked’s “Defying Gravity” in one of his songs.

As I said some of the visual aspects in the show were incredible. It was only half way through the show I thought “how the heck are the going to do the dragon?”…well fear not, they “do” the dragon with sheer style. I haven’t seen War Horse but I imagine it’s pretty similar puppetry…more or less…ahem. Joking aside, I thought it was amazing. The set was very impressive and I was particualarly captivated by the bridge sequence.

The show really did make me laugh out loud, and at the end i just wanted to get up and dance! This is show I think children and adults can enjoy and apart from the toilet humour ( I suppose it is to be expected) I LOVED IT!

A little while ago I went to see Legally Blonde the Musical at the Savoy Theatre. Being a fan of the films I really wasn’t sure what to expect from a musical version. Would the songs be good? Would it make sense bursting in to song? Would anyone else be able replace Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods? Well, I can honestly say it was such a fun show to see, I defy anyone not to feel uplifted and happy after seeing this. I also defy anyone not to get the song “Oh My God Oh My God You Guys” stuck in there head for the rest of time. For hardcore musical fans, this show it is not as serious as some classic musicals and I found elements of it reminded me of a panto (IN A GOOD WAY) because it is light and fun.

Carley Stenson was a fine fit for the role of Elle Woods. I have always liked Carley (although I am not a Hollyoaks fan) and I was surprised at how good her voice was. Lee Mead played Emmett when I saw the show. The show is very girly, and although Lee played the role well, it wasn’t the kind of part that allowed him to shine, as the play isn’t really focused on him.  Peter Davison was well cast as the villainous Professor Callahan, but the star of the show for me was Natalie Casey as Paulette. I have always found Casey annoying in things like Two Pints of Larger and A Packet of Crisps (although, who wasn’t annoying in that?) but I can’t believe how good she was in the show. Her comic timing and delivery was great, and I was surprised at how well she can sing! She certainly changed my opinion of her, and really made the show even more enjoyable. Also I can’t forget to mention how good the dogs are in the show. They were the ultimate professionals and definitely had the cute factor.

I would really recommend this show for a fun girls night out. The music is lively and catchy and some of the songs had me laughing out loud, look out for “Gay or European?” There are a few innuendos and adult talk which may not be suitable for young children, but overall it’s a really good night out. So if you like the Legally Blonde films go and see it!

Warning: May cause desire to dress head to toe in pink.

Like most of the nation I became obsessed with the Great British Bake off. So, finally, months after it has finished, I decided to get baking. Over the christmas period I made clementine, cranberry and white chocolate muffins and they were delicious…not to big myself up or anything…

I got the idea from a recipe I saw on This Morning, although I didn’t follow it completely.

So here is what you will need:

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g plain flour
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1 clementine
  • 200g white chocolate buttons
  • 175g cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 170C/Gas 3
  • Beat together the eggs, vanilla extract and milk.
  • In another bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and clementine zest. Be careful when ‘zesting.’ This was the part I found most tricky.

  • Cream the flour mixture with the butter. (Note make sure the butter has warmed up)
  • Now pour the egg mixture in with the flour mixture.
  • Fold in cranberries and chocolate chips.
  • Divide the mixture into muffin cases.
  • Bake for 30 mins.

The lovely thing about these muffins is that the whole cranberries burst in your mouth. I think they are best served warm because then you get the most out of the melted chocolate and gooey cranberries. Voila!

In my opinion there is nothing worse than an over plucked, thin eyebrow. But, now there is a new eyebrow faux pas, the “scouse brow.”

Please do not try this at home

This is just so exaggerated and looks completely fake ( much like the tv show Desperate Scousewives). I think the key to a successful eyebrow is full, but subtle. You should pick a shade that is very close to the natural colour of your eyebrow, and use it to shape and fill in the natural line and arch of your brow.

The right way to do it…

Mila Kunis

I love the shape of Mila’s eyebrow. It is full but in proportion with her face and most importantly, her eyes. It is even and not heavily filled in, just enough to frame her face beautifully.

Natalie Portman

Another lady with perfect brows is Natalie Portman. Again her brow is full, but not over powering, it is looking as natural as possible, and helps to high light her eyes.

Lauren Conrad

Another brow hero of mine is Lauren Conrad. The coverage of Lauren’s eyebrow is very natural, but the overall look is perfectly groomed, no rogue hairs, just evenly shaped.

My budget brow kit:

Tweezers

Scissors

Clear mascara: 2 True Intense Colour Mascara in shade No.1 Clear (£1.99)

Eye brow pencil: 2 True Expert Brow pencil. Shade No.1 (£1.99)

I have very dark brown hair and I LOVE the shade of this . It is really natural and not too dark. I would recommend it for mousy light brown, medium brown and dark brown hair as you can get a darker or lighter effect when applying different pressure.

Step 1. First pluck and trim the hair into the shape you want.

Step 2.  I then apply clear mascara onto the eyebrow to help hold the shape. (If you run out of clear mascara, a tiny bit of vaseline also does the trick!)

Step 3. Once the mascara is dry I use the eye pencil to fill in my brow.

Step 4. To finish I use the brush on the cap of the 2 True eyebrow pencil to smudge and brush off any excess colour.

Optional Sexy Step 5. To give more impact on a night out I apply Benefit High Beam (£18.50) under the arch of my brow.

Pricer Brow Kits:

Brows A Go Go: Benefit £26.50 (Get it here)

I have many friends who swear by this kit! It has everything for a dramatic eyebrow, and is a very handy compact. Save up!

Arch De Triumph Taupe/Buff: Soap and Glory £8 (Get it here)

This is a lovely little crayon. It is a good neutral shade for eyebrows, and the pearly pink highlighter has a similar look to Benefit High Beam. It is handy to just pop in your bag and do your brows on the go.

With the cold winter days and festive parties upon us, it is time to indulge in some winter colours for your nails.

First up…The Christmas Pudding

No 7 Beanie

No 7 Beanie £7 (Buy it here)

This brown is very versatile and will be the perfect addition to any earthy knitwear this winter. It has a glossy shine and is very hard wearing (as are all No 7 nail varnishes that I have tried)

Next…The Mulled Wine

No 7 Damson Dream

No 7 Damson Dream £7 (Buy it here)

This photo does not do the colour of this polish justice. It is a mixture between burgundy, plum and metallic red. When the light hits your nails the colour pops and is very glossy. It is smooth to apply and the perfect wine shade to get you in the festive mood.

Next…The Christmas Coal

No 7 Beautifully Black

No 7 Beautifully Black £7 (Buy it here)

This is no ordinary black, it has a subtle hint of silver sparkle in it so the colour is not too harsh or gothic for daytime, yet it has all the glamour for the evening. I would highly recommend this as being in everyone’s collection as THE staple black nail varnish. You can’t get away from metallic clothes and accessories at this time of year, and the hint of silver in Beautifully Black means that it fits in well.

Next….The Other Black

Nails Inc Victoria

Nails Inc Victoria £11 (Buy it here)

I know what your thinking, it’s not No 7…shock! In case you’re wondering I did go quite ott with my Boots £5 vouchers recently.  Anyway, I got this free with Glamour for £2!! I have lots of nails inc varnishes but this has to be my favourite shade, so I am very please I got this bargain. If Beautifully Black is a bit too black for you, the hint of red in Victoria offers a bit more warmth so it will suit all skin tones (my photo doesn’t do it justice). It has such a glossy finish, so much so a few people asked if I had had my nails done professionally! (Surely the ultimate compliment?) The hint of red adds a little Christmas spirit to a classic look, plus my nails were chip free for a week.

Next…The Bobby Dazzler

2 True Crystal Nail Polish

2 true Crystal Nail Polish Shade 4 £1.99 (Buy it here)

This little beauty truly has the wow factor. The pigment of this colour is amazing, it is a dazzling purple with all the effect of glitter, but none of the grittiness. I honestly could not stop looking at my nails when I had this on. It is very hard wearing – with not a chip in sight! I also can’t believe how easy it is to take off, often glitter nail varnishes are a pain to remove, but this was so simple! I can’t praise this little gem enough, it is amazing value for money and it comes in red, teal and royal blue ,which I will be adding to my collection soon.

Next…The Snow Ball

NYC Gramercy Glitz

NYC Gramercy Glitz 155 £1.79 (Buy it here)

This is a shade that has all the sparkle you need, but with its baby pink undertones, it is still subtle.  The glitter is very small with flecks of silver, white and iridescent blue. I liked the effect of it over a pale pink or pale metallic gold. Be sure that it is dry before applying more than one coat, as it can get a little bit gloopy, but for a glitter nail varnish it is very good.

Next…The Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

Collection 2000 Fudge Brownie and Buried Treasure

Collection 2000 Lasting Colour £2.99 (Buy it here)

10: Fudge Brownie 25: Buried Treasure

There are lots of cute metallic party dresses in the shops right now, and these nail varnishes are a great accessory for any glam outfit. The shades are pale but that’s what I love about them. They are not too vibrant for daytime wear, and just nicely compliment whatever shade of jewellery you are wearing, as your nails look like they have been dipped in liquid gold and bronze.

And finally….The Christmas Cracker

No 7 Milan

No7 Milan 110 £7 (Buy it here)

Minx nails have become very popular (and rightly so) but I think that this polish is like minx in a bottle. It gives the impression of a pinky silver foil and really sparkles. This really does shimmer and again I was so surprised at how long it lasted. Because this is so sparkly, some people may shy away from using it during the day, but I would recommend it for any party dress.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this as the trailer looked good, which usually means all the funny bits are shown and the film struggles to fill in the blanks. But seriously… wow. I was pleasantly surprised with how good the animation was, as a die hard Pixar fan I never think anything else is up to scratch, but the years Aardman have spent working on this, certainly have paid off. The story was great and I didn’t feel any part of the film was dragging as there was comedy all the way through.

What struck me most about this film was all the little touches that children wouldn’t pick up on. The film is ridden with jokes and visuals to entertain adults. Not surprising, as this method is also part of the magic of Wallace and Gromit. In my opinion, the casting is brilliant. Jim Broadbent is very good at being the clumsy ageing Santa, Hugh Laurie is fabulous at playing the highly strung Steve, James McAvoy is charming as the caring Arthur, but most notable mentions are to Bill Nighy and Ashley Jensen. Bill is brilliant at playing a wise cracking, grumpy ex santa, and his relationship with Ashley Jensen, the wrapping supremo elf, provided me with the most laugh out loud moments throughout the film.

I really feel this is a film you could go and see with any member of your family, as I think anyone could enjoy it. I would happily go and see it again, and I know that it is a film I will watch every Christmas from now on. Although I was really impressed with the graphics, to be honest I didn’t feel the 3D added anything special to it, so if you can only see the 2D version, not to worry.