Xtava Twist Curling Wand review and giveaway

Over the last twelve months I’ve really got in to styling my hair, ever since I took the plunge and went for a new style and bold colour I’ve been determined to make more of an effort with it, both in taking care of it and in how I wear it. My army of tools is basic- a dryer, straightener and a curling wand. My current wand has definitely seen better days so I welcomed the chance to try out a new one as well as give one away to one of my readers.
This is the xtava twist curling wand* which costs a very reasonable £20 from Amazon. Call me a snob if you must but I do seem to have fallen in to the habit of spending a fortune on hair tools with the belief that they’ll somehow be better for my hair, or give greater effect so I was interested to see how a budget curling wand would perform.

This is the 1-1.5 inch conical wand, it’s thicker than the one I currently own and for me that’s a good thing. I prefer a looser curl over tight spirals and this gives me exactly that. In true Laura style I haven’t yet managed to photograph the results (watch this space!) but it gives a wave type curl (technical term) which I’m really enjoying for an every day laid back vibe.

In terms of quality I’m really happy. It uses ionic technology to keep frizz at bay and the barrel is coated in tourmaline and ceramic to help minimise heat damage to the hair. There are many temperature settings on this wand with a guide of what heat will suit your hair type best- the LCD display is a helpful feature too as you can keep track of how hot you’ve got it.

The look and feel of this curling wand would have you think it costs far more than it does- from the luxe packaging to the weight and feel of the tool itself- I’d definitely recommend this for anyone looking out for a new curler whether you are on a budget or not.

I also have one xtava curling wand to give away to one of my readers so you may get to try it out for yourself! Just follow the simple instructions below.

Win the xtava Twist Curling Wand #11

Let me know in the comments what your favourite hair styling tools are and if there are any you’d especially recommend.

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Steer Your Own Trolley*

Everyone has a budget. This budget can be used for your shopping needs when it comes to fashion, holiday, car, house and grocery, but more importantly this budget needs to be managed efficiently. Without organisation you can’t afford to buy the things you need. It might sound quite dull – unless you love crunching numbers – but keeping your budget in the green is a difficult and necessary art to master. As most people have limited amounts of money it’s best to understand how to make the most of what you have in order to buy the things you need – and the things you want – without breaking the bank. Shopping is not only great fun but also a matter of analysis, research, clever decisions and knowing when and where to borrow money. In short, welcome to your guideline of shopping priorities and budget handling.

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Fashion shopping

As well as being on top of your list of interests, fashion is an essential part of everyday life. However, it’s an essential that doesn’t come for free and that needs clever thinking to make the most of it especially as there are often more pressing expenses than filling your wardrobe with the most killer outfits you can find. One of the easiest solutions to your shopping finances is to transform your shopping habits for the better. When it comes to fashion ask yourself whether you want more of the cheap stuff or less of the quality stuff. Less is often more especially if it passes the test of time and the washing machine. Learning to manage your shopping impulses can change dramatically how you handle fashion shopping and fashion budget.

Holiday shopping

Who doesn’t love going on holiday? The main issue with holiday shopping though is that it’s the kind of thing that you can’t postpone. Deals can be cost-friendly but they don’t last. Unfortunately, while deals can be advantageous in the long term a lot of them require up to 100% of fees to be paid within two weeks of booking and that means that you might need to rely on a same-day loan from New Horizons to handle your holiday booking. Or you could ask your parents to lend you money, but who likes to do that nowadays? You need to plan your holiday budget – yet it doesn’t mean that the budget is available all the time. For instance, if you’re planning to save £100 each month for a big holiday it’s likely that you won’t have accumulated the necessary amount if you book early so you will need to choose a deferred invoice or a loan option. Stick within your predicted saving though!

Car shopping

Buying a new car is exciting, but it can be tricky to stay within your budget- that’s why you need to define very clearly what you can afford, as opposed to what you aspire to own. Once you’ve decided on your car budget it’s helpful to research the different models and makes within this so that you can identify the kind of cars you prefer for your needs. Whatever you do, don’t just pick a car you love the look of, but pick a model that fits your needs. With cars, it’s best to be cautious!

House shopping

If you’re buying your first home you’ve probably noticed that the housing market is full of different options in terms of houses and mortgages. So before you begin your search for the dream home you should have a look at your credit score as this will define the kind of loan you can get. Sometimes it’s even better to postpone the house search so that you can improve your score. Then you need to set a realistic payment for your mortgage: don’t buy above your means or you won’t be able to afford to live! This is one of the most common mistakes new home-buyers make. Don’t bust your budget, buy a smaller house instead. More importantly, don’t forget to add maintenance, tax and utility costs when setting your budget.

Food shopping

According to Money Saving Expert you could save £1,000s on your yearly grocery shopping. As it is the supermarket’s job to make you spend you need to be aware of its tricks- from the magazines placed by the till to the sales-type signs for non-sales items. Take the downshift challenge to slash £1,500 off your grocery bill by cutting brands off and focusing on the value products. After all, value products don’t come at a low quality; they simply don’t have the same merchandising strategy than brands.

In short, don’t ask what you could have if you had the money. Instead, define your shopping priorities and keep an eye out for saving opportunities. The more you save, the more you have available to spend next time! So take the lead and steer your trolley to shopping savviness!

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The Cost of a Date – ultimate dates*

Date night is the time where you put the outside world on hold and focus on just the two of you. Sometimes though dates can be expensive and it can be hard to find a good location or venue on a budget.

A trip abroad could definitely take your relationship to the next stage- together with Angelic Diamonds, retailers of bespoke round engagement rings we advise you on making the most of your date no matter where you are in the world with hidden costs included:

Photo by Daniel Lee on Unsplash

A trip to Rome
Rome is home to thousands of years worth of history and this could make your date one of education and discovery.

It’s also one for the football lovers-
If you’re a fan of football why not head to an A.S Roma game and put yourself in an electrifying environment? At the grand Stadio Olimpico you can buy a ticket for €100 (£88.02). Just make sure you’re both football fans before you go, as it’ll be slightly awkward if one of you is bored when surrounded by screaming fans…(been there, done that!)

It can be free and meaningful-
Rome on a budget is a thing as there are plenty of places that you can visit for free. Why not head to the Trevi Fountain and throw a penny in for good luck? Once you’re done you could take a stroll to one of the many cafes nearby so that you can sit and people watch to your heart’s content (minimal spend on a coffee not counted!)

A special cinema trip-

A trip to the cinema could be the perfect place to go if you’re not wanting to spend too much money. In Rome you can expect to pay €21 (£18.48) for your taxi and €57 (£50.17) for your meal for two in one of Rome’s fine restaurants. To top it all off you can expect to spend €17 (£14.96) on two cinema tickets.

A trip to London

London is full of culture, being home to different shops, restaurants and pubs that will make sure that there is never a dull moment! If you want to enjoy this city properly then you need to swat up on where to go- when it comes to dates in this city the world really is your oyster.

A touch of luxury-
If you like the finer things in life why not head to a luxury hotel in London and have afternoon tea? At £50 per person you and your date could enjoy tea, scones and sandwiches at the prestigious Claridge’s Hotel in Mayfair. If you are both feeling flush then why not also book a superior queen room at £690 a night?

A touch of knowledge-
Knowledge is key, and London is home to museums and galleries to account for all tastes. There are a lot of free museums in London for you both to visit such as The Natural History Museum. Once you’re done with the museums head over to Westminster Bridge to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. This also isn’t too far from the Southbank where you can pick up some delicious street food or take in the great views all around you.

A cinematic paradise-
London is host to many movie premieres so you might just see the red carpet rolled out. If you’re not on the guest-list then why not take your date to the cinema for £23? If you get hungry you can always get a meal including wine and dessert for £66. Don’t forget to hit the bars on your way out- a pint will typically set you back £4.41 and a cocktail will cost £9 – not bad when you’re living it up in the capital and far cheaper than my home town!

A trip to Paris

Paris is known as the city of love so this makes it the perfect place for you to go to for a date. Tourists come from far and wide to have a great time with their significant other and this could be you too. Home to many of the world’s greatest writers and artists, Paris oozes chic everywhere you walk through its many streets.

Taking a date to new heights-
A trip to the Eiffel Tower might make this date the best you’ve ever been on – especially if you visit on Valentine’s Day where it’s shining against the black sky. On this day why not try booking in at 58 Tour Eiffel? It’ll cost you around €120 (£105.63) for each person, however and if you’d like a seat in the window to witness the spectacular views then you can pay the extra €30 (£26.41) to really take your romance to dizzying heights!

Budgeting in Paris-
Walking across some of the most beautiful bridges in Paris will be worth it especially if you’re on a budget – you’ll have a beautiful backdrop of Paris in the background of your pictures after all. Couples, as a symbol of their love for one another use padlocks and lock them to the Pont des Arts Bridge throwing away the key into the water.
It will probably be the cheapest date you’ve ever been on with locks only being a couple of euros each. Be warned though, as Paris officials are urging couples to stop so that the bridges can be protected; instead, why not take the lock home as a reminder of that great date you had together.

A romantic meal-
A nice restaurant in the city doesn’t have to cost the earth. A meal for two including wine and dessert will typically cost around €65 (£57.21). Afterwards, if you head over to the cinema it’ll cost you €20 (£17.60) each.

A trip to New York

The Big Apple offers something for everyone – with the theatres of Broadway, the neon-lit Times Square and skyscrapers like the Empire State Building, the possibilities really are endless.

A trip in the sky-
A private helicopter tour of New York’s famous landmarks will set you back around $1,500 (£1,184.40) so you’ll need to get saving if this sounds like the perfect date for you – but it will never be a date that you forget! With unparalleled views of the Empire State Building, the Stature of Liberty and Central Park though, this is the perfect date to get your heart’s racing. Hold on tight!

Recreating movie scenes-
We’ve all seen Central Park in a movie so why not recreate an iconic movie moment? You’ll be Audrey Hepburn in the making. Or, if you’re feeling peckish you could go to the restaurant featured in Where Harry Met Sally; you’ll be quoting lines from the film in no time! If that’s not enough, take a walk down to the financial district if you and your date want to feel part of the glamour and excitement of the Wolf of Wall Street. Just be careful, as it’s a jungle out there…

Let’s go to the movies!
You can’t leave NYC without going to the movies. Take your date at the typical cost of $28 (£22.11) each. Perhaps a meal would complement this date nicely? Including wine and dessert, you can expect a meal for two to cost you $111 (£87.66). After that, the two of you could paint the town red in some of Manhattan’s best rooftop bars. A cocktail will likely cost $14 (£11.06) and a pint of lager around $7 (£5.53). Enjoy!

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Cats&Coffee

So this post concludes my trio of outfit posts in collaboration with the fabulous Wearall and it just so happens that I was given another opportunity, this time to create a personalised top from YourDesign (who have a whole selection of personalised t-shirts to choose from) which when added together made for the perfect casual outfit. It’s also a debut post for my spur of the moment hair colour change- booked in to go for my usual pinky/red shade I made the snap decision to go, well, orange! I’m not 100% sure how much I love it at the moment, I think I’ll probably go back to red after this but it’s fun to have something to bright- especially given how bleached out my hair was looking prior to my trip to the hairdresser- it’s not usually this floofy but humid weather conditions and a disposition to frizz were against me.

Skirt c/o Wearall (get it here) | Baseball tee c/o YourDesign | Trainers: Puma

I love a good slogan tee so being presented with the opportunity to create my own was fantastic. Out of the range that YourDesign offers I decided to go for a classic baseball tee, which costs a very reasonable £15 and emblazoned it with two of my favourite things in life- cats and coffee. You can select from a range of images and fonts from those on the YourDesign website or you can upload your own photos which also makes it a great gifting option. The whole process was really simple to do and delivery was quick so if you can’t find the slogan you’re looking for on the high street, or are looking for an extra special gift then I can’t recommend the service from YourDesign enough.

I have praise for Wearall as well, each and every item I’ve been sent by the brand has been great. Sizes do tend to be a bit on the small size so do bear that in mind, but again with swift delivery and plenty of special offers and discounts I strongly suggest heading over there for a new-season spend up.

This is me signing off for a week or so now- I’m off on holiday tomorrow- a week in The Highlands with my boyfriend and I couldn’t be more ready for the break!
Blogging will resume once I’m home and recovered and hopefully I’ll be feeling refreshed and full of new ideas for the blog as well as a whole host of new content from my trip away.

If you were designing your own slogan t-shirt, what would it say?

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Autumnal Embroidery

Allow me to join the bazillion people pondering out loud how on earth we find ourselves in September again- it wouldn’t feel so much of a shock, or shame if we’d had a noteworthy summer, but the fact the nights are drawing in and it’s looking decidedly grey and dull outside makes it feel more like a punishment. Still, it’s an excuse to change up one’s wardrobe I suppose and embrace a whole new colour palette- gone are the sugary sweet pastels, replaced instead with rich and earthy tones such as the beautiful berry shade that features in the second of my outfit posts in collaboration with Wearall.

Jeans c/o Wearall (get them here) | Tee: Primark | Sandals: Asda

Embroidery is the one trend I’m not ready to let die and I love everything about these jeans. From their perfectly relaxed fit through to the colour way of the details they tick all of my denim boxes and I’ve been wearing them to death. I’ve talked about autumn at the start of this post but actually these photos were taken over the August bank holiday (which granted us with some much needed sunshine!) after finally roping my boyfriend on board with the photography side of things. I think my blogging still bemuses him somewhat, but he’s a good egg and didn’t take much persuading.

The third and final instalment of my Wearall collaboration will be up on Friday, shortly before I clock out and head off on a week long break up in the Scottish Highlands. To say I need this is a massive understatement- just don’t mention the weather!

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