Lee Stafford Academy Hair Straighteners review and giveaway

I’m still very much a novice when it comes to hair, really it’s only since I had it cut and coloured in October that I’ve managed to get any kind of grip in styling it myself and my once neglected hair straighteners became one of my most used items. I’d had them for a few years already by this point and over the last few weeks I’d noticed they were failing to heat properly and were losing their ability to you know, actually straighten my hair. So when an opportunity came up to review the Lee Stafford Academy Hair Straighteners* the timing could not have been more perfect.
I’m not hugely au-fait with many hair styling brands but Lee Stafford is one I know well [by which I mean I already own one of his hair dryers]. My previous straightener was by Corioliss and I have never owned a pair of GHDs. Because of this I also roped by Mum in on this review and we both tried out the product- she is the queen of hair straightening so if something impresses her then it’s definitely a good ‘un.
I know looks aren’t everything but these are some sleek looking straighteners which gave a good first impression. I was a little worried about the size of the plates as my hair is very thick and there is a LOT of it and I was concerned that it would prove too much for this tool to cope with. I needn’t have worried.

Thanks to the adjustable heating settings [up to 230 degrees] and handy quick start guide I quickly established the optimum temperature for my hair, waited a mere matter of seconds for the straightener to heat up and got going. This straightener made short work of getting my hair smooth and sleek which in itself is no mean feat. More impressive was that after sleeping on it my hair was still straight the next day- with my old straightener I found that I needed to re-do it the next day as my natural waves had fought back.
Mum thought the same, she was impressed with how easily this straightened her naturally curly hair [please note I have never actually seen it curly] and how sleek a finish it left.

Because I tend to straighten my hair and then curl or wave the top layers with a curling wand I decided to have a go at creating curls with this as well. I probably should have taken a picture but being me I didn’t think of it at the time but this straightener also creates smooth and shiny waves quickly and easily without looking like they had obviously been done with a straightener if you know what I mean?

I 100% would recommend this straightener for anyone who’s on the lookout for a new one, with an RRP of £79.99 it’s on the more affordable scale of things and at the time of writing it’s currently on sale on Amazon for £49.95.

I also happen to have one of these straighteners to give away to one lucky reader- see the widget below for how to enter and the T&C [and good luck!]

Win Lee Stafford Academy Hair Straighteners #1

The giveaway will run until 29th March and the winner will be contacted directly by Review Directory.

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Product sent to me for purpose of review. Opinions and shiny sleek hair are entirely my own.

Snacking: Quinoa Crinkles from Burts Chips

I’m going through a distinct savoury phases with my snacking at the moment. It seems to go in cycles where for a month or so all I want is biscuits (rich teas or party rings preferable) and then suddenly the need for something savoury kicks in and I become a fiend for salt. That being said, I’m not really a fan of traditional crisps- I prefer roasted chickpeas, Hippeas and Burts Chips Lentil Waves over a packet of Walkers so when Burts Chips got in touch to announce the arrival of their new “Quinoa Crinkles” and offered to send me some to try I gratefully and enthusiastically accepted.
Made with (the currently very trendy) grain Quinoa these are deemed to be a wholesome and interesting alternative to the traditional crisp and claim to combine delicious taste, a boost of fibre and top quality ingredients. Each pack comes in at around 85 calories making them perfect for anyone who is watching their weight and the Quinoa Crinkles come in two flavours- sweet pepper & chorizo and west country cream cheese.

I still can’t make up my mind on the sweet pepper and chorizo flavour. On the one hand it’s beautifully strong and definitely unique, but on the other hand my palette struggles to make sense of two such bold flavours together with the over-tone of the sweetness. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy these, because I did…they just aren’t what I’m used to- but they have me wanting more which must count for something.

The West Country Cream Cheese was lovely. My experience of cheese flavoured snacks only extends to Quavers and Wotsits so I didn’t have the highest of standards for these to live up to. These are cheese snacks for adults, with a bold yet creamy cheese taste with a slight hint of onion. Out of the two these were my favourite but I’d happily buy and either either of them again. I’m also a massive fan of the Lentil Waves but in terms of flavour and texture the mighty Quinoa comes out on top.

For more information, stockists and the full nutritional breakdown pop along to the Burts Chips website.

Tell me about your favourite savoury snacks in the comments.

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Big thanks to Burts Chips for the samples (and for setting off another snacking addiction).

Degustabox February 2017

So you’ve probably gathered by now that I’m a fan of the monthly delivery of Degustabox*, the contents of which nearly always impress me. Some months are better than others though in terms of what suits my personal tastes and the February box has probably been my favourite one to date. There were so many products I couldn’t wait to try- even if it did mean tackling a few fears along the way…I’m always up for a new snack or meal to add to my current rotation and this month has seen me add several new items to my ongoing shopping list.
I’ve been livening up my lunch times with these Kabuto Noodles and reduced sugar beans from Heinz (not together I hasten to add!). The Vegetable Laska noodles are gluten free, suitable for vegetarians and packed full of flavour and quality ingredients. A little pricey at £1.99 but worth stocking up on if I see them on offer for back to work lunches. I don’t actively seek out low sugar products but appreciate that it is important to keep an eye on one’s intake- these no added sugar baked beans have the same great taste you’d expect from Heinz with no added sugar/artificial sweeteners of flavours and go perfectly on toast for a warming midday meal (RRP 65p per tin).
From low sugar to ALL THE SUGAR with these items from Bebeto (£1.69 each). I’ll confess to being a bit excited by these Candy Crush gummy sweets as I’m a closet fan of the game (it helps manage my anxiety and provide distraction, honest). These were a delicious mix of some of my favourite sweets and perfect for sharing with my equally addicted mum. The cheese cake gummies were a novel idea and also pretty tasty but I’m not sure I’d rush out and buy them again. I really like Bebeto sweets though and often pick up mixed bags of various sorts in my local poundland.
More sweet snacks- right up my street! The dark chocolate coated banana chips from Maui and Sons were the product I was most excited by this month and they did not let me down. The pack supposedly provides two servings (for a reasonable £1) but I defy anyone to stop at half. As much as I love me some coffee I’ve never ventured in to eating the stuff but the New York Delhi’s Americanos (also £1) persuaded me to try. They certainly do pack a flavour punch and whilst they aren’t something I’d choose on a regular basis they did make for a great little pick me up.
I haven’t actually tried the drinks from this month’s box yet but based on past experience the Blossom Hill bottle will be a real treat, I’m actually saving it for when I have some friends round nearer my birthday- by which time the weather will hopefully be more suited to a summer fruits flavoured drink (£4.99). The pomegranate and basil mixer from Double Dutch isn’t something I’ll be racing to try (I’ve mentioned before my issue with fancy drinks) but I’m sure someone will enjoy it with some vodka or gin or something…
There was no information included on the Just Bee blueberry flavoured honey water and I really dislike honey so I haven’t braved this one but it looks like a healthy alternative to traditional soft drinks- feel free to chip in with a mini review if you’ve tried it! Again, juices aren’t my thing but the Coldpress fruity greens juice (£2.79) certainly looks wholesome and because they are made with 100% fruit and vegetables they are packed with vitamins and have less naturally occurring sugars than other juices on the market. The Koko Dairy Free Original (£1.50) is a product I’ve long been a fan of- I use dairy milk in hot drinks but prefer alternatives in my morning porridge from a taste point of view. I usually go for almond milk but I’ve really been enjoying this and it’s persuaded me to switch up my breakfast from time to time.
More snacks, yay! I loved the packaging for the Peppersmith sugar free mints and chewing gum (£1.50 each) and they taste great too. Pricier than my usual purchases but worth it as an occasional treat. The no added sugar wafer bar from Diablo (95p) tasted great- I am always a little wary of low sugar chocolate products tasting artificial but I didn’t notice it with this- a great little snack for anyone watching their sugar intake!
Finally we have some popcorn from Willy Chase (FITCORN to be precise). I’ve previously reviewed this flavour so knew I was kind of a fan despite disliking honey, I’m keen to seek out other flavours from the brand now.
For those who don’t know Degustabox is a monthly subscription box filled with 10-15 food/drink products, most of which are brand new to the market so it’s a great way to try things out. On a month by month basis the box costs £12.99 (with a discount for longer subscriptions) but the contents are generally worth far more than this.

If you’re persuaded to give Degustabox a go (and really, you should) you can claim a brilliant £7.00 off of your first box (making it just £5.99!) by entering the code 6HZJ8 at the checkout. It’s been a pleasure to work with the brand regularly over the last couple of years and it’s without a doubt something that I will continue to purchase long after our partnership ends. I love the monthly surprise and excitement as well as the chance to discover products I’d otherwise pass up on the supermarket shelves.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products and what you thought of them.

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New Additions to my Essence Collection

I wasn’t expecting anything to drop through my door this Valentines Day so when a red shiny package turned up I was a little bit excited. Excited with good reason as the envelope was home to some new goodies from Essence- and we all know by now just how much love I have for the bargain beauty brand.
A couple of the products were brand new to me so I thought I’d pop up some mini reviews of them. Whilst you’ll find Essence products everywhere in countries such as Spain and Holland they are much harder to come across in the UK but you’ll find them stocked in your local Wilko store or on the Wilko website so if you haven’t already then I strongly suggest you get acquainted with the brand.
I’ve tried many of Essence’s range of mascaras now and they have never failed to impress me. The Forbidden Volume mascara* is no exception- it promises dramatic volume with no clumping and it certainly delivers. One coat of this is enough for a wide eyed day-time look, a second coat is perfect for a more glammed up vibe without a clump in sight. All for £3- I don’t know how Essence do it but if you’re looking for a budget mascara to try then I strongly recommend their range.
Lip products are another area in which I think Essence excel and I really rate their long lasting lipsticks*. You really do get a good few hours wear out of these, far more than you’d expect from a lipstick costing £2.30. This time I tried shade 21 (très chic) which is a beautiful berry red.
Wearing one coat of forbidden volume mascara and long lasting lipstick in shade 21.
I love the Essence gel nail polish range- at just £1.60 per product they are the most purse friendly way to keep your nails on trend. This one is shade 14 “do you speak love?”* and is a berry toned red which I found really flattering against my ghostly pale hands (and yet forgot to photograph before I chipped my nails a few days later).
The 2in1 eyeliner pen* (£2.50) is a great idea. One end has a super fine tip and the other has one designed for a much more dramatic look. I was slightly disappointed by this as after the first couple of uses the fine liner end lost it’s colour intensity and came out more grey than black. The thick end is still going strong though and you really can’t complain at what you’re getting for the price- and actually I’m quite liking the less intense colour for more subtle day time approach when I want to wear liner but not necessarily something bold and in your face.
Have you tried any of these products or found any new favourites from the Essence brand? They have new products coming out on a regular basis and on the strength of these and the ones I have previously featured I am excited to see what’s next.

(Oh, and my unicorn tea light holder was a recent Primark find incase anyone was wondering!)

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David Bowie Newspaper Book

It was inevitable that I would end up a David Bowie fan- he’s my Dad’s favourite musical artist and I grew up with his songs as a soundtrack to my childhood. In fact my introduction to Mr Bowie started in the womb when my parents went along to one of his concerts and whilst he remains the one singer I would have loved to see live I suppose I can sort of say that I did.

I recently came across a post on the (frankly incredible) Josie’s blog which featured the David Bowie Newspaper Book from I Just Love It and immediately fell in love. Having declared my love on twitter I thought no more of it until I Just Love It got in touch and offered to send me a copy as well. To say I was excited would be an understatement!

This is one hefty book that would sit proudly on any coffee table- it’s more than just a pretty face though, inside you’ll find images and newspaper articles that cover Bowie’s musical career from the very beginning right up until his death in 2016.

What I really loved about Bowie was not only was he a bloody legend musically but he also pushed social boundaries too- his fashion influence is still very much in evidence today and he was also a trailblazer when it came to challenging the social norms of gender and being unapologetically yourself. These days everything we see in the media has been carefully curated by PR teams but in Bowie’s hey-day social media was still decades away and there was very little by way of filter. It’s no wonder he became such an icon and this book captures beautifully how he made his impact on the world.

I Just Love It also offer a personalisation service for the book, and as much as I wanted to keep this for myself I knew that really it had to be presented to my Dad who’s collection of Bowie memorabilia is growing almost by the week it seems. He was absolutely made up to receive this, and for me it provided a unique way to say thank you for all of the support and encouragement he has given me over the last 30 years (I think we might have agreed on joint custody though, I can easily lose hours at a time to poring over the pages of this book).

At £69.99 this isn’t a cheap gift but for a true Bowie fan it’s a worthy investment- be it for yourself or someone you love. With both substance and style this is a book that truly pays homage to the late and great David Bowie and it’s something we will still be going back to and enjoying for years ahead.

Fellow Bowie fans do you think you’d love it? And I must ask- what’s your favourite track of his? For me, if I absolutely had to pick just one it would be “Rebel Rebel” but in reality my favourites could probably cover a side of A4 paper and then some!

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Disclaimer- book was gifted to me by I Just Love It in exchange to a blog post. My thoughts on the product are entirely my own.