The Lifestyle Blogger UK

I’ve followed The Lifestyle Blogger UK for a little while now and I absolutely love the range of articles on her website. She includes so many useful articles from the latest list of Blogger Hashtag Hours (which are amazing for scheduling Twitter chats into my diary!) and the most delicious recipes including a Salted Caramel Brownie recipe (Yum!!)

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So imagine my delight when I found out The Lifestyle Blogger UK also has her own gorgeous fashion boutique! The Lifestyle Blogger UK asked me to choose a product to review either a necklace or bracelet and as I favour one particular necklace at the moment I opted for a bracelet. At this point I had no idea what the bracelet would look like and it was quite nice to know there was a surprise coming in the post for me!

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The bracelet arrived so promptly and safely wrapped so as to not get damaged in the post. It was wrapped in a gorgeous little packet with a “The Lifestyle Boutique” label attached. Inside was a pretty little organza bag (and as a quick top tip – don’t throw these away! They are perfect for using to carry earrings or other delicate jewellery on holiday in your suitcase!) This bag held a lovely gold and tan coloured bracelet.

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I always find bracelets quite fiddly to put on. After all usually you need two hands to put them on, resulting on some sort of bizarre finger yoga movements in an effort to get the most delicate of bracelet on your wrist. This one however, was so easy and effortless. Due to the sturdy nature of the material of this bracelet it was able to keep its shape when sliding onto my wrist. After entwining the clasp together it clasped together with ease using a magnetic clasp.

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This bracelet is the perfect accessory for outdoor adventures and holidays in the sun. It would look perfect with that khaki or tan coloured outfit which seems to be making a comeback as we move into Spring/Summer months! It makes the perfect gift for friends and family.

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Definitely make sure you pop by The Lifestyle Blogger UK website when you have a minute. Her articles are fabulous and a new one goes live every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday! You can also subscribe to ensure you don’t miss any!

Becky at Pretty & Petit

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#apovgiftswap

So here I am – back with a bang! (or for those who know me well, a crash, bang, wallop! Either way, I have left you all for so long and I am terribly sorry to have left you in a lurch wondering if I would ever return but more on my little life update soon enough!

Today I want to let you know about a fabulous initiative I’m getting involved in after stepping back into the beautiful world of blogging. This fun opportunity involves swapping Christmas gifts with fellow bloggers whilst being able to network with one another, sharing ideas, happy thoughts and general positive vibes!

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This was something that I got involved with last year and I found it so much fun! It also enabled me to find out more about different blogs and writing styles which was so inspiring.

You’ll be able to see what I received closer to Christmas and I can’t wait to share my favourite Christmas gift ideas!

This year the gift swap is being organised by A Piece of Viola who has a fabulous Travel, Lifestyle and Fashion blog! Take a read by clicking here and if you fancy reading and discovering the blogs of those involved make sure you follow #apovgiftswap on Twitter.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

New Year, New You – Make Money through Matched Betting

As part of my ‘New Year, New You’ series this month I’m asking bloggers to share their plans, tips and resolutions for 2016! 

For the purposes of this blog post I decided to try out one of the free trial beginner options. If I was being brutally honest, I didn’t get my hopes up and I expected my outgoings to be much more than my profit. I’m not keen on betting or gambling and have always avoided it as I can’t afford to get intro trouble with it! I ‘erm’d and ah’d’ over it for quite a while however felt that for the purposes of this blog post I wanted to give you my personal experience of Matched Betting and I could only do this by following through with the process. I tried the initial beginners option and to my utmost surprise it worked, meaning I got my money back and made just over £11 in profit too!

I personally, wouldn’t put everything into this being your full time job (although some have made it that so it is a possibility) If you’re looking to save for those new pair of shoes or a holiday, then it’s a great little money making opportunity. My main piece of advice is to make sure you read the instructions before doing anything and then follow them as you are completing the process. It may look tricky and a bit daunting at first but I assure you it does get easier and the more you read the instructions, the more it makes sense. This will also ensure you get the profit and you don’t make any losses! Also make sure you have the funds available to do it. You have to deposit money in to cover liability so always make sure you have those funds available and don’t get yourself into trouble because of it. I have shared one user experience sent to me from Chammy (Visit her blog by clicking here) who has had some amazing success below. Has Matched Betting been successful for you? Let me know your experiences in the comments!

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Chammy’s Experience:

When I first heard the term “Matched Betting” I did my best to avoid everything about it. I thought it wouldn’t interest me as I’d never placed a bet in my life and the closest I got to gambling was a few games of bingo when I was younger and a lottery ticket now and again. I didn’t have a clue about odds and what they actually meant or that you could bet on anything other than whether a football match would win/lose/draw. I was completely clueless and just the term “betting” was enough for me to assume that it wouldn’t be for me. Well, that was until I actually took the time to look into it and chat to others who were doing it – I then established that is wasn’t what I thought it would be and little did I know that it would make a huge difference to my life.

If you’ve never heard of matched betting or have and like me, made the assumption that you’d just be sat there hoping the horse you bet on placed so you actually won some money, then please take a few moments to actually read up about it. Matched betting isn’t gambling in the sense of placing a bet with the chance of losing the money you used. You place a bet with a bookmaker and then place another bet with what is called and exchange, this second bet is AGAINST the result of the first bet.

Eg.

Bet 1: Manchester Utd WIN

Bet 2 (aka the lay bet): Manchester Utd DON’T WIN

This means that the bets cancel each other out so you technically don’t win or lose. The profit is then made by the free sign up bet the bookies will offer you, so you repeat the process and end up with profit.

It is a LEGAL, RISK-FREE and TAX-FREE way of earning some serious cash and all you need is £60 to get you started, you won’t need more than that. If you can afford to have a larger starting pot then it would be to your advantage but you do not need to add any more of your own money once you start.

You take that £60 and head to a site called Profit Accumulator – this site is the place to be and offer a free trial so you can have a go before taking that leap. Profit Accumulator will hold your hand every step of the way with information, step-by-step guides, videos and a forum (Platinum) which covers everything you need to know. You will be given the first two offers to have a go at, again you are told and shown exactly what you need to do, and you will walk away with up to £45 in profit.

So you’ve had a go at the free trial, what now? You could take that £45 and run but I recommend you take £22.99 of that profit and invest it into your first monthly subscription to Profit Accumulator (or £150 annual if you fancy saving some money). The Platinum subscription opens up all the other beginner offers which will see you comfortably build your balance, after those offers comes the more advanced offers which will see bigger profits; all of this while still receiving information and training to help you along the way. But don’t the sign up offers dry up? While you will eventually run out of sign-up offers, Profit Accumulator will take all the hard work out of finding offers for you (known as reloads) which will ensure that you always have something to do – this is on top of personal emails and/or texts you will receive offering you bonuses and freebies.

Profit Accumulator ensures that you will get the most out of matched betting and the offers that are available, maximising your profit and minimising the amount of time you will have to spend placing the offers. If that doesn’t convince you then head over to The Money Shed where there is a dedicated forum thread to matched betting and you will see its members bringing in anything up to £2000 a month with an average of £500-£1000 being made, certainly nothing to ignore.

Even after 4 months doing this, I still don’t understand odds, I’ll never fully get my head around all the jargon and technical side of things but luckily I don’t have to – this way of earning is perfect for even the most novice of bet-makers, just like me, while giving plenty of challenging stuff for those who are more experienced; such as casino and slot offers (some come with a small risk but aren’t necessary to earn).

So far I’ve personally managed to book and pay for a holiday for this year (first one in over 5 years), Christmas was a breeze without having to dip into the household income and I already have plans to upgrade to a new car, redecorate the house and rip out the garden – all paid for by my matched betting funds. This way of earning has seriously changed my life for the better, I was looking at years of saving every extra penny to accomplish all of these plans – with the holiday being the last on the list. Now I’m looking at all the necessary plans being done this year so I can then concentrate on planning more of the fun stuff – next Christmas, another holiday, university fund for my son etc.

Don’t just take my word for it though, have a read through The Money Shed forum, give the free trial on Profit Accumulator a go or do some more research – just don’t ignore this fantastic opportunity, you might end up kicking yourself.

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Memories of 2015

2015 has been a year of some fabulous memories..

Small Businesses of 2015

I have featured some fabulous small businesses over 2015!

Achievements of 2015

  • Organisation of the 10th Anniversary Awards for the Fashion Retail Academy
  • Completing Race for Life
  • View from the Shard
  • Winning a competition for a trip to Dubai and shopping vouchers for Dancewear Central through blog writing
  • Passed my theory test
  • My first tattoo

Travels of 2015

  • France – Nice, Aix-En-Provence, Aix-Les-Bains, Paris, Tour De France, Versailles and Disneyland
  • Mykonos
  • Bristol (Twice!)
  • Southampton
  • Kent

Events of 2015

  • Cinderella Exhibition
  • The Ideal Home Show
  • London Bike Show
  • My friend’s beautiful wedding at Kent Life
  • London Fashion Weekend
  • Wonderful blogger events, product launches, chocolate making workshop, Big Bloggers Conference, Beautycon, Xmas Party, Food Festival
  • West End Live
  • Wireless
  • Pure London
  • The Cycle Show, Birmingham
  • Design Your Future and Skills London (FRA)
  • Beauty Blogger Awards 2015 & Olympia Beauty
  • Louis Vuitton Series 3 Exhibition
  • BFI London Film Festival – The Program
  • My friend’s beautiful wedding in Whitstable
  • Made London
  • Clothes Show
  • Winter Wonderland

Films of 2015

  • Furious 7
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • Spy
  • Spectre
  • Star Wars

Style of 2015

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What are your fave memories of 2015? I’d love to hear them!

Wishing you all a most fabulous and wonderful 2016 and will leave you with some memories of last years fireworks from London.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

The Program Film Review

When I think of Lance Armstrong I think of three things, cycling, the Tour de France and doping.

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I used to love cycling when I was younger and was out on my bike every night after school. I never really thought of it as a hobby though – just something fun to do. Eventually as I grew older I found other interests, music and dance in particular, so my passion for cycling dwindled away at that point. Now I’m out of education and have been settled in a job for the past few years I have started to get more interested in it again. In the summer of 2015 I even got to witness first hand the excitement of the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris and even though it was pouring with rain, it was still so exhilarating and amazing to watch. When watching a race like that first hand, you notice the true passion these riders have for their sport. Cycling is their life.

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The program, which held its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival last night, tells the story of Lance Armstrong, his rise to glory and the doping scandal that engulfed his highly successful career. Based on the book, Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh, Chief Sports Writer of The Sunday Times it looks at the relationship between these two characters and provides an account of the events that took place leading up to and post his confession on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2013.

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In a Q&A with the cast and director, after watching the film it was interesting to hear how David Walsh had spoken to people after they had watched various screenings of the film to discover their reactions to find them somewhat having empathy with Lance. This may have something to do with the cancer, Walsh stated, but as was said in the film, he was ultimately using his disease as a shield. It is at this point I should mention that of course cancer is the most terrible of diseases and of course I do sympathise as what he must have gone through would have been one of the most horrific times of his life. Ultimately his career was about doping and whilst I did not feel the empathy with Lance, I did feel it for David. It was admirable to hear how he stuck with his beliefs even though no one else believed him.

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I found this film difficult to watch. Despite some mixed reviews coming out today, I have no doubt that it was an enjoyable film – I can tell I enjoy a film when I don’t feel like I’m clock watching at all. There were a few laughs shared and I definitely think Chris O’Dowd playing David Walsh and Ben Foster playing Lance Armstrong are what made the film. To be honest though, I felt a bit flat coming out of it. I initially thought it was in regard to how I felt about the responses the director, Stephen Frears, was providing to his questions. It felt as though he had made the movie because he felt like it needed to be made and wanted to get there first. I felt frustrated by his responses and felt that the film and the story, deserved so much more than that. This one man had cheated his way to the top SEVEN times without intense questioning. I think it was at this point that I really felt my empathy for David Walsh. I didn’t really feel anything about Lance when the stories were breaking in the news at the time. I didn’t know enough about the sport to pass judgement – I just knew it was wrong. To witness his portrayal by Foster though, to witness his arrogance and his greed to win, made me feel disappointed and well, heartbroken really. Cycling is a sport, it should be enjoyed by those who have a passion for it and whilst I think Lance’s career started with that passion, he clearly lost that when his greed for the win took over.

The Program is in cinemas now. A must for any cyclist enthusiast!

Becky at Pretty & Petit

Inked Shop Review

Usually I only tend to review businesses from here in the UK but as this is a fashion related post, I’ve decided to go international as I absolutely love this brand!

Inked Shop, based in the United States, provides women’s and men’s clothing, merchandise and homeware from many alternative designers. They offer reasonable International Shipping although be aware you may need to pay a customs charge on delivery.

I absolutely love the different designers on Inked Shop and I especially enjoy anything Disney related. So imagine my delight when I came across this Frozen inspired T-shirt by Black Market Art! I absolutely love it. The design is so cute and whilst I normally don’t wear T-shirts because of the neckline, I really loved the scoop neck on this.

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Below is my wishlist from the website! Do you have any favourite items? Let me know in the comments!

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Click here to view the full range available.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

All images from Inkedshop.com

A View from The Shard

On a warm September evening, we travelled over to London Bridge to visit The Shard, the tallest building in Europe. Watching this gradually being constructed over the last few years, it was amazing to be able to visit this amazing building. Especially as so many of the tallest buildings in London are predominantly housing or office blocks.

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               The View from The Shard

We paid for our tickets, went through some security and had our photo taken. After being provided with an audio guide we were guided over to the lift. I felt a bit apprehensive prior to going to The Shard as I am afraid of heights but once in the lift this seemed to disappear.

To get to the top you are required to get in two lifts, travelling at 6m per second. They are ultra smooth and it doesn’t feel like you are travelling anywhere at all! The first stops at floor 33 where you head to a second lift to go up to floor 68. This was definitely one of the tallest buildings I’ve ever been in. I don’t think I’ve ever been higher than 8 floors!

Stepping out on the 68th floor (and walking up the stairs to the 69th) we were absolutely mesmorised by the sight before us. Every single part of London, North, South, East and West was laid out before us in a criss-crossing pattern of multi-coloured lights and beautifully lit architecture.

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We enjoyed some champagne and took so many photos of the different views available from the floor to ceiling windows in each angle of the building. Although a sprawling city, it looked so small from that height. The railways snaked across the city like rivers and the Thames itself was adorned by bridges spanning its width as far as the eye could see. It was truly spectacular.

Champagne on the 69th floor!

Champagne on the 69th floor! (It was dark up there!)

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Looking up into the night. Towards the spire of The Shard

If you’re thinking of visiting The Shard on a trip to London it’s an absolutely amazing thing to do! Certainly you pay a price for a view like that (concessions are available for students, senior citizens etc.) and there are some wonderful packages available too. However they have an affordable boutique at the end which is good value for money so handy for souvenirs on your way home.

Some key facts about The Shard!

The Shard is approximately 309 metres high.

The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe.

A fox was found living on the 72nd floor during construction which staff nicknamed ‘Romeo’.

The Shard is home to Shangri-La Hotel, as well as multiple bars and restaurants and office space.

It takes 3 months to clean the windows of The Shard by some very brave window cleaners!

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Becky at Pretty & Petit

Slim Fast Challenge Review

A few months ago Slim Fast sent me a diet plan to review as part of their Slim Fast Challenge. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to write it – partly due to not having the time but also being indecisive over whether I would write it at all.

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I have only ever dieted in the last couple of years. I don’t have a problem with dieting but I just don’t want to be an advocate for dieting and I don’t feel like I want to diet. I would much rather be happier, healthier and exercise more in order to lose weight rather than be restricted to certain amounts of food, points systems and fasting methods. I’m not saying those are bad options, many people I know have trialled these various ways to lose weight and they have been successful. They’re just not for me.

As to why I was indecisive over writing this review was contributed to by a number of factors. Before experiencing the Slim Fast diet I admit that I purely thought it was a fad; a money maker and I did question as to whether I should take part in the challenge at all. I do not regret my decision at all, I’m glad I tried it! It was fantastic to find that there was such a huge range available and I didn’t have to stick to just milkshakes all the time (which I wouldn’t have necessarily minded as I am a huge milkshake fan!) The challenge was easy to follow with the 3 snacks, 2 replacement meals and 1 balanced meal and meant I was able to plan each day in advance with the numbered products on offer. I did find a lot of the products were very sweet. I absolutely love sweet things so I did enjoy them but it could get a bit tedious for someone who is not keen on sweet tasting products.

I decided to complete the challenge two weeks prior to going on holiday to Mykonos for a girls holiday aiming to lose a little bit more weight before a week in the sun and I found that this was perfect timing for me. I took delivery of a huge parcel filled with Slim Fast goodies. From milkshakes to milkshake powder, chocolate bars to tortilla chips and pretzels. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of products available and regularly see these on offer in stores such as Boots and Superdrug so are easy to stock up on. It was interesting to see how the products that regularly I would have eaten as a treat every so often, were now products that I had to eat on a daily basis as part of the plan. Products designed to keep energy levels up throughout the day.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage the whole two weeks of the challenge. I did try and religiously stuck to the diet for a week, however it just wasn’t for me. I suffer from IBS causing painful cramps, which for the past few years by being more careful with what I eat, has calmed down significantly. I found sticking to the Slim Fast products for that first week quite painful. I either felt full or extremely hungry with no in between and constantly bloated with a nagging pain. So this was one of the couple of negative things I found about it and it was the sole reason I was unable to continue for the whole two weeks – my body just did not suit it. Believe me, this isn’t the same for everyone. Slim Fast is a global phenomenon so it must be working for some people and not all body types are the same!

Despite this uncomfortable feeling I did enjoy taking part in the Slim Fast Challenge and yes I did lose weight! To be honest, I couldn’t specifically tell you how much, it was enough to notice a difference although I have been also exercising quite a bit more so that may have contributed also. Looking at images of me in May and July to compare I can certainly tell a difference.

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I am sharing this review as honestly as I can so please do not let my experience put you off entirely! If you are looking for a new diet plan to try then yes, certainly give Slim Fast a go! It is always worth trialling these things as the thing you are least expecting to suit your body (and your bank account) might actually be a solution! Although definitely stay away from those dangerous diet pills you find online – they are definitely not the answer!!!

Have you tried Slim Fast? I’d love to hear what you thought of the plan.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

A two week plan of products for this review were provided by Slim Fast.

MUA Cosmetics Review

Today is an exciting day as I am doing my first ever beauty review! I want to bring you some of the best budget, mid range and luxury brands out there ranging from store own brand to MAC and Benefit products.

So for those who know me, they know I love to stick to the same beauty regime every single day! Currently in my make up collection I use the following:

Benefit – The Porefessional Primer

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Max Factor – Skin Luminizer Foundation in Natural

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Rimmel London – Stay Matte Powder in Silky Beige

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Benefit – Boi-ing Concealer in 01

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Benefit – Hoola Bronzer

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Bourjois Paris Blusher – Rose Eclat

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Benefit – They’re Real Mascara

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Benefit – Bad Gal Liner Waterproof

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Topshop – Smokey Eye Palette in Golden Aura

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MAC Lustre Lipstick in Viva Glam V

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MAC Dazzleglass in Rags to Riches

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I absolutely love these products, but I’m also open to trying new ones and love mixing it up with lots of different brands (although I have been known to splurge quite heavily on Benefit cosmetics as you can probably tell from the list above!)

So this week I’m bringing you MakeUp Academy (MUA) Cosmetics. I found my products in Superdrug and they had an amazing 3 for 2 deal on for all cosmetics – get down there quick if you want to get involved! It’s an amazing offer! I bought a mixture of eyeshadows and primers, both of which are essentials in my beauty regime and also bought a new highlighter which I have pretty much fallen in love with! My reviews of all these products below with a Beautify or Bust review, letting you know my verdict. Let me know if you are loving or hating the MUA Cosmetics range and if you have any faves in the comments below.

MUA Pro-Base Smooth, Set & Prime – £5

Usually I use Benefit’s Porefessional and I absolutely adore it, so for me to step away for a moment was a difficult choice to make! I love the clear simple packaging of this product and I found the difference of it being in a pot rather than a tube interesting. It sits happily alongside those pricier products on the shelves and does a good job at providing a base for my makeup. However, I found I had to use quite a lot of the product to get an even base and my face still felt quite oily after using it. It certainly made my skin feel smooth though after using it.

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Verdict: BUST – I love the packaging of this product but not overly keen on the scent compared to my current Benefit product. I really like the smoothness of the product though on my skin so would probably use this for every day use however definitely prefer the product being in a tube rather than in a pot.

MUA Pro-Base Prime & Conceal Powder – £4

Obviously, not being a make up pro when I first saw this powder I was slightly confused wondering why I would want to put a bright green and purple onto my face! This baked powder is beautiful and a wonderful addition to my make up collection. It feels so light on my skin too which is amazing!

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Verdict: BEAUTIFY – I love this product! It gave my skin a nice smooth, matte finish and reduced redness and blemishes. If I wanted to use a primer that was a powder instead of a cream I would definitely opt for this every time! In terms of using it as a concealer, I would most likely use an additional, although it did reduce redness I still needed to use an additional concealer to hide any additional blemishes!

MUA Undress Your Skin Shimmer Highlighter in Iridescent Gold – £3

I saw this highighter on Ninkcompoop’s YouTube video review (go check out her videos – I’m addicted!) and literally fell in love with it to the point that I went out and bought it that same afternoon! The colour is absolutely gorgeous, a shimmery gold and the pattern on the powder is so pretty that I want to display it for all to see!

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Verdict: BEAUTIFY – Not having used a highlighter before, I absolutely fell in love with this product. I loved how it brightened up my face and my eyes and the sparkle it provided. I definitely recommend!

MUA Eyeshadow Pallette in Hall of Fame – £4

I absolutely love the colours on this pallette. A mixture of golds, creams, blush, warm browns and dark blues to create a smokey eye effect. This pallette contains some of MUA’s most popular shades ever and I love the flexibility to get creative with it.

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Verdict: BEAUTIFY – I absolutely love the range of colours available in this pallette, ranging from nudes and golds to blues and black with a touch of sparkle. This is one pallette that I think will last me a very long time!

MUA Merged Trio Eyeshadow in Theatrics – £2.50

Firstly I absolutely loved the name theatrics, this was closely followed by the amazing baked colours. They literally look like planets! It was difficult to choose which trio to go for as there were so many to choose from and they all looked amazing, however finally settled on a mix of purples and golds which I thought would be a perfect combination.

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Verdict: BEAUTIFY – I love the smokey eye effect this trio gave me and the additional sparkle in each eyeshadow. An amazing budget purchase and so pretty!

MUA Brow Define Tinted Brow Mascara in Dark Brown – £2

This product came in a couple of fab shades to choose from depending on how dark your brows are. It was easy to apply and the product went easily onto the eyebrow, brushing gently through. A perfect product for defining brows!

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Verdict: BUST – I can see how it would be a fab product, and it definitely does stay on and emphasises my eyebrows but as my brows are quite dark already I’m not sure this is the product for me. It made me look quite theatrically angry as the product was quite dark! I think I will be sticking to a powdered product in future.

Becky at Pretty & Petit

All images taken from linked websites. MUA review images are my own.