D.I.Y Floral Nail Art


It will be no surprise to many of you who have read my blog from the start or follow me on Instagram that I love nail art. I love the process of painting my nails and creating something fun, inspired by other nail art or fabric patterns. When I saw this floral manicure on Lauren Conrad’s website (via Pinterest) I had to give it a go!

It’s perfect for spring/summer, and the only thing it really requires is patience! If you haven’t got a steady hand, ask a friend of family member to help. I painted mine whilst watching American Horror Story, so I had a good excuse not to watch all the gory bits…


Brushes – You don’t need to spend a lot of money on professional nail art brushes. I use these fine art brushes from The Works, but you can pick similar ones up in any arts and crafts store for super affordable prices.


It’s all about the base…

Step 1 – It’s important to protect your nails and I use Essie’s All-in-One base coat. It may be slightly pricier than many drugstore products but I’ve found this particular one dries the quickest and leaves a super smooth finish, sometimes I use it by itself on days between wearing polish for a ‘my nails but better’ look.

Step 2 – Choose your base colour. I alternate between bold colours, pastels and nude shades, and as I haven’t worn this beautiful blue in a while I was inspired to create something with it. I can’t fault Rimmel’s Rita Ora collection – the formula and longevity is fantastic and there is a great range of shades to choose from. This one in ‘Breakfast in Bed‘ has a slight shimmer to it but only noticeable in certain lights. I always suggest two coats for the best coverage.



Step 3 – Choose a pale pink shade (I used Barry M’s Gelly nail paint in ‘Rose Hip‘) and paint two splodges on each nail. This is to create the shape of the rose so it doesn’t need to look perfect.

Step 4 – Use a fuchsia pink to create the petals, and draw ‘c’ shapes on the pale pink splodges with a fine brush. Each nail will look slightly different and this really adds to the ‘DIY’ effect.




Step 5 – Similar to step 4, use a white polish to ‘highlight’ the petals and add dimension. An off-white like Barry M’s Gelly Nail Paint in ‘Coconut’ is perfect!

Step 6 – A dark green shade is needed to create the stems – I used Essie’s ‘Stylenomics‘ as it’s a great green grass colour. Draw one or two small lines next to each rose, again each one doesn’t have to be the same.




Once it’s dry, add another layer of Essie’s All-in-One coat for shine and protection.



Follow me over on bloglovin’ and tweet me photos if you give this a go @kcallen_xo


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Buckley London Jewellery


For a few months now I’ve been trying the ‘less is more’ approach to my wardrobe. Whilst my lipstick collection is far from minimal, I find that a good accessory can change up an outfit in an instant.

When I heard about the beautiful Costume Jewellery brand Buckley London, I had to get my hands on a few pieces! They kindly sent me 3 of their most popular pieces to try a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since.

I love a bit of sparkle on my earrings, and these gorgeous Cubic Zirconia studs are perfection. At an affordable cost of £25, they really stand out even if you have long hair like myself (excuse the ear photo, but you can see the size of them in comparison to my other studs). I had been looking for a new pair of studs to glam up my outfits for a while so I’m thrilled I’ve finally found a pair that are comfortable to wear, and I’ve worn them pretty much every day since! You can buy yours here if you’re interested or want more information.

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The pieces that caught my eye the most were this range of metal mesh bracelets. Available in four tones, I received the black rhodium, rhodium and rose gold with hand-set crystals (the rose gold is definitely my favourite). I love stacking up bracelets and already own a variety of different styles, but these sparkle mesh pieces are a new favourite and will definitely be a staple for spring/summer.  They stretch over your wrist comfortably and you can wear just the one or stack them to suit whatever occasion you’re dressing up (or down) for. For a set of 3 (which come in random assortments) it will set you back £24.99, see here for more information.

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As the designers of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy brooch (even the Royal Family have donned them on appearances), I was excited to receive their stunning crystal poppy brooch as I’ve wanted one for so long. You can wear this Jewelled Poppy with pride supporting this brilliant cause, whilst adding a touch of sparkle at the same time. Please see their collection of remembrance poppy brooches here.

(Profits of every poppy sold is also paid to Royal British Legion Trading Limited.)


You can see how I wear these pieces in my latest Spring OOTD post here. Their affordable pieces make the perfect gifts for friends and family!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of Buckley London’s collection here and @BuckleyJeweller on Twitter.


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Exploring Sorrento

Spring has sprung, which means sunshine and warmer weather – yay! When the weather gets better I instantly get into holiday mode and yesterday it made me think about my favourite family holiday to date. Last May we visited Sorrento in Italy and I instantly fell in love with the place. The people, the food and drink, the culture – it felt homely and we were greeted with so many friendly faces.

What’s in my Bag? | Spring Edition

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who carries around more than they need. I am the ultimate over-packer. This is how I usually justify it in my head…

The 3 or 4 pens… Well, in case I have to lend a pen to someone I will need to carry at least 2.

The post-it notepad... You never know when you may run out of paper in your two notebooks or if you need to stick a message onto something (or someone!)

Three lipsticks and two mini perfumes (along with the rest of the makeup)… because I’m indecisive and need options at all times to cater for my mood.

And this is just the half of it. But enough is enough! I have found the solution to this problem – just wear a smaller bag!

I have been on the hunt for an over the shoulder bag for a while now, something not too small (I have plenty already) and one where I still have the option to pack an extra couple of bits. I rejoiced at this beautiful bargain I spotted in Primark last week – it’s only £8!!

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I told myself a while ago that I would only buy better quality items, even if that means splashing the cash a bit more, so that I have less clutter in my room. The logic is there, but even after searching on the internet for slightly pricier handbags I still couldn’t find one! And who am I to turn my nose up at a bag of this cost and happens to be just what I’ve been searching for? I’ve worn it everyday since purchase and have kept products to a minimum (trust me, this is minimum). My body even feels better because I’m carrying less weight! The detailing on the bag is pretty and you can even smell the leather, so you are getting a great quality bag for your bucks.

The bare essentials…

Red purse from H&M… It’s small enough to carry around a bit of cash and a few cards

iPhone 5c

Revlon Colorstay lipstick… Just the one!

Cath Kidston compact mirror

Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara… The cheaper dupe for Benefit’s Roller Lash!

Fresh compact powder in Seventh Veil (no longer available, sigh!)

Hugo Boss Jour Pour Femme perfume


A small bag of almonds… Perfect for snacking on when you’re craving something sweet.

Red Valentina leather notebook

Pen from Paperchase

Chewing gum

Soap & Glory hand sanitiser

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You can wear it from day to night too, great for if you’re out all day! They also stock a tan shade too, if you’re more of a brown bag kinda gal!

What bag are you wearing this Spring?


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Wicked the Musical

‘Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them…?’  

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Fellow Ozians, a couple of weeks ago I was kindly invited along to watch the West End and Broadway hit musical, Wicked.

Home for four weeks at Bristol’s Hippodrome, I made my way to the theatre last Thursday evening with eager anticipation. I’ve wanted to see it for so long so you can imagine my excitement as I made my way up the emerald green carpet. A musical I had heard so many great things about yet hadn’t found the opportunity to see it for myself, my expectations going in were high. In fact, I felt I already knew the show so well just from listening to the soundtrack on repeat!

My friend and I soon found ourselves in the Piano Bar with a cheeky drink, and with half an hour until the show was due to start we had a read through the programme to familiarise ourselves with the actors.

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In case you are unfamiliar with this popular musical (firstly, how? Secondly, go watch it now!) it tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz. Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ that is inspired by ‘The Wizard of Oz’, we learn about Glinda The Good’s unlikely friendship she strikes up with Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Two very different characters who meet at a sorcery school, we follow them on their adventure to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  This is only the start of some surprising events, as the story takes place before, alongside and after the famous tale – warning: you may watch the original in a different way after this.

As the lights dimmed and the map of Oz lit up in green, eerie music played as monkeys crept onto the stage which set a dark scene. We were soon introduced to the Citizens of Oz as they awaited Glinda The Good’s arrival, and I awaited their powerful performance of ‘No One Mourns the Wicked’.

A fire breathing dragon, flying monkeys – for one night only, we were in the Land of Oz.

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Oh my Gah-linda!

The brilliant cast were led by the beautiful, bubbly blonde Glinda The Good (think a British Elle Woods), who adds glamour and humour to the role. Played by the brilliant Emily Tierney, she really entertains the audience and holds her own on stage, a character famously played by Kristin Chenoweth in its original Broadway production over 10 years ago. I hadn’t seen any clips on YouTube nor had I read up on the background of the musical so I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect her to be so ‘high spirited’ shall I say. As an audience member in her mid twenties, I found her ever so slightly over-bearing at times but the younger generation around me seemed to love her. As they chuckled away at all her jokes (particularly throughout her rendition of ‘Popular’), I sat through it cringing. This is no reflection on Emily as an actress nor as Glinda, but after listening to Chenoweth’s version so many times I’ve got used to the American accent and the exaggerated Britishness just didn’t do it for me. As the show went on however, and her friendship with Elphie grew, I came to love her more (even with the British accent).

For me the real star of the show has to be Ashleigh Gray. Playing the part of Elphaba the Wicked Witch of the West, Gray was pitch perfect! Her vocal range could rival Idina Menzel’s (which is no mean feat), especially during ‘Defying Gravity’ and ‘No Good Deed’, and she puts on an incredibly powerful and emotional performance that you find yourself getting lost in. Her character really progresses throughout, more so than the rest of the cast, and the love triangle between herself, Glinda and Fiyero is captivating to watch. She’s a strong leading lady and as the protagonist of this story, she changes our view on one of the most well-known ‘villains’ of all time. She also rocks a black cape, perhaps Madonna should take note…

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Samuel Edwards plays a rather dashing Fiyero, a prince who has both Witches falling at his feet. I mean, who can blame them? Have you seen the rest of the men in Oz? And I thought it was slim pickings where I live… It’s a tough job to lead a cast alongside two women like Ashleigh and Emily who take the main focus on stage, but Sam pulls his own weight throughout. Carina Gillespie puts on a stunning performance as Elphaba’s ‘normal’ wheelchair-bound sister Nessarose, as she falls in love with Boq (Richard Vincent) – a Munchkin who is secretly vying for the attention of Glinda.

The two ‘villains’ are played by Marylin Cutts as an excellently evil Madame Morrible, alongside Brookside’s ‘Max Farnham’ aka Steven Pinder – who plays the contrasting roles of Dr Dillamond and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The entire ensemble are commendable for their stage presence, their passion for what they do shines through and it makes the experience so much more enjoyable when you know the talent are having just as much fun doing their job.

I’m unable to compare to the West End performance, but from the standards set so high from this UK tour production I can only imagine the show to be even bigger and better in London! With lower prices and coming closer to smaller towns across the country, why not take a trip to the theatre with your family and/or friends for a fun evening out?

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The show is currently in Bristol until Saturday 21st March, so make sure you book to secure your tickets to this spectacular production. Still not convinced? Then take a look at the musical trailer below, don’t miss out on this critically acclaimed show.

All that was missing for me were the munchkins singing ‘Ding dong the Witch is dead…’


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Creating your Own Sunshine


What does happiness mean to you? 

Happiness can mean something different for everyone. Some may find happiness in a good job whilst others are their happiest when they are a free spirit travelling the world!

I’m at my happiest when I’m doing something I’m passionate about – blogging.

After leaving my job towards the end of 2014, I have been on the hunt for something new to sink my teeth into. After not really finding anything that I particularly loved, I made a decision to take some time out and focus on my blog. It’s my online source of happiness. Ever since I can remember I have had a passion for writing and photography and I’m lucky that I can combine both of these talents here on the blogosphere. It wasn’t an easy decision, in fact I was constantly having to reason with myself and others why I was doing this. Now I’m at the point where I don’t want to, I don’t need to.

I choose happiness.

I can be extremely hard on myself which then reflects on how I behave, making me extremely anxious. I hate feeling like I need to apologise for making a choice that makes me happy, but sometimes when you meet people who don’t understand the blogging thing it’s automatic to act defensive. I’ve made a choice that is right for me right now, it’s so important to make yourself happy first – to follow your dreams is a happy life.

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Comparison will only leave you with self-doubt and it will turn you into a bitter person. Remember that nobody is perfect, behind the smoke and mirrors even Beyonce is likely to be unhappy about something! I have spent most of my life comparing myself to others in one way or another, especially growing up with how the media portrays the rich and famous – it’s bound to make you yearn for unattainable attributes. Don’t follow the crowd, love yourself first and do what makes you happy.

I’m lucky to have a network of supportive friends and family around me, as well as a bunch of lovely ladies I’ve met through blogging. Stop hanging out with those who make judgement, surround yourself with people who remind you to continue doing what you love and will be there if you need them. I have a couple of close friends who have been the best example of this and I can’t tell you how important these people are.

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Who knows how I will feel in a week or two, but right now I’m just going to keep doing my thing and I’ll be content. There will be days (like earlier this week) where I will trip up and lose my way a bit but these moments will only make you stronger. Be the best that you can be and don’t compare yourself to anyone.

If you are in a position where you can be selfish and base decisions on what will make you happy – just do it! Not to sound cliche but the world is your oyster and opportunities will only come to those who work for them.

Some days you just have to create your own sunshine.


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Jamie’s Italian, Cheltenham


When I was approached by Jamie’s Italian a couple of weeks ago to review their restaurant here in Cheltenham, I leaped at the chance. As a lover of Italian food and a fan of Jamie Oliver’s I was looking forward to sampling some authentic cuisine with the rustic touches I know it is famous for.

We had a table booked for 7.30 on Tuesday evening and as we arrived on the dot we were greeted with a friendly smile within seconds of stepping through the door, I stated my name and we were swiftly taken to our table. The room was filling up slowly so it had a lively yet relaxed environment, perfect for a couple of friends catching up for the evening (nothing worse than having to shout above the noise to be heard).



The restaurant is a former County Court with original features including the jury box and judges’ table, it’s a pretty impressive place to eat your lunch or dinner – whether you are dining with friends or family, it’s a fun experience for all ages. Situated in the centre of town with bars and restaurants including Bills, Copa and Slug and Lettuce on the one side and the Everyman Theatre on the other, it’s a great location and easy to find.

Once we were comfortably seated and our coats were kindly hung up for us, our waitress for the evening brought over the menus and took our drinks order. We decided on a carafe of Sauvignon Blanc to wet our appetite and were well informed about the Specials dishes. We studied the menu and decided on sharing two starters – the Cured Meats Plank for one and the Artisan Bread Basket.



The plank boasts four types of cured meat, including fennel salami, aged prosciutto, piccante and mortadella. Served with a mini buffalo mozzarella, pecorino (thin crisp music bread) and chilli jam, a wonderful selection of pickles and olives and a delicious helping of kale slaw. Laid out on two tins, an idea Jamie himself picked up during a stay in Italy, the food was at eye level to us so it was much easier to see the contents on the plank aside from looking extremely well presented.

The bread selection was the perfect accompaniment, with homemade focaccia, ciabatta, sourdough, crackerbread and grissini sticks – served with extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic and a tasty olive tapenade.





The flavours of the bread, meat and accompaniments together were fantastic and I couldn’t fault any part of it, aside from there wasn’t enough kale slaw – it was delicious!

We chose to order our mains once we had consumed our starters, the menu has such variety we just couldn’t decide! After a lot of ‘umming and ahhing’, we eventually chose The Jamie’s Italian Burger with a side of Funky Chips and the Lamb Chops Scottaditta.



When our mains arrived we were impressed with the presentation, especially with the lamb chops. My friend was given a separate plate to dish up the meal her own way, which included a flavoursome trio of herby red onions, toasted nuts and yoghurt with a side of posh polenta chips. I sampled a mouthful of the lamb and it was tender and flavoursome, something I would definitely opt for next time.


The beef burger was delicious! With the mortadella, balsamic onions, tomato and smoked mozzarella (I removed the pickles and chillies), the combined flavours worked perfectly together. The rosemary and garlic chips were incredible, chunky and fluffy on the inside, the perfect chip – they are extremely garlicky though, so perhaps not the best choice if you’re on a date…


I couldn’t finish all of my meal as it was so filling but that’s not a reflection on the food, just my small stomach. I always regret leaving anything behind, and an hour later I was craving those chips again!

We resisted dessert, as much as we were eyeing up the Epic Brownie, I opted for a cappuccino instead to round up our lovely evening. I was impressed that the cup of coffee tasted so authentic, it was like being back in Italy.


Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable and efficient, continuously informing us throughout the evening on the food and thoughts behind the presentation of the courses which was a really nice touch to the experience. A far cry from your usual Italian restaurants, Jamie’s is a warm and inviting dining experience for most foodies.

You can check out the menu here and book a table for yourself – there is even an easy way to choose your meals according to your dietary requirements!



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Top Hat at the New Theatre, Oxford

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Last weekend the family and I took a day trip to Oxford, where we had matinee tickets to see Top Hat at the New Theatre.

We chose the afternoon performance so we could have a leisurely lunch and browse around town (they have a MAC counter, enough said?) I’ve seen a few shows in Oxford now and they are always so professional, a real joy to watch and will rival any West End performance.

As a big theatre lover I couldn’t wait to sit in my seat and wait for the show to start. I hadn’t seen the famous film, which stars screen icons Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, so I didn’t know what to expect. I had seen a few clips on YouTube and I knew it featured one of my all time favourite tunes ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz‘ (it’s actually become my kitchen dance at home, what a sight it is to behold….)

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We joined the many other theatre-goers who were queuing and picked up a programme and confectionery en route, before making our way to our seats. Boasting an 1800 capacity and beautiful art deco features, this theatre dates back almost 180 years to it’s original opening and is still home to incredible talent.

Whilst we sat in our seats waiting for the show to begin I enjoyed reading the performance history of the actors, it’s always interesting to find out what their background is and occasionally you recognise them from previous work they have done. Does anyone else enjoy this? It’s a ritual now whenever I see a show.

A little bit about the show…

Jerry Travers is an American dancer who travels to London to star in a West End show, produced by the idiotic Horace Hardwick. Whilst practicing his tap dancing routine he ends up awakening the beautiful Miss Dale Tremont. After a good telling off, he immediately falls in love with her and begins to follow her all around town to win her affection. She somehow mistakes Jerry for Horace, the husband of her friend Madge and escapes to Italy with the flamboyant Italian fashion designer Alberto Beddini. After a proposal and a wedding, both from two different men, Dale soon realises she has made a mistake and reconciles with her love, Jerry Travers.

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As the live orchestra started to play the overture and the golden curtains parted, I was already tapping my feet and the excitement was building rapidly. The brilliant cast were led by Alan Burkitt (Jerry Travers) and Charlotte Gooch (Dale Tremont), who I would praise as the perfect pair to play these iconic characters. With big shoes to fill I wasn’t sure anyone could live up to the talents of Astaire and Rogers but these two have surely raised the bar.

Puttin’ On The Ritz set an energetic pace for the rest of the production, oozing such class and sophistication that took you all the way back to 1935 when the original film took place. I started to fall in love with the era, the music and Jerry Travers – I suddenly wanted to take up dance again!

As the show went on and more songs were sung and danced to, the more I realised I had heard several of the songs before without the Top Hat association. Cheek To Cheek and Let’s Face The Music are all classics most of you will have heard before, whether in an advert or on Strictly Come Dancing, they are some of theatre’s greatest musical numbers to date. I don’t think there was one person in the audience who didn’t want to get up on that stage and join in.

Horace and his wife Madge, played by the wonderful Clive Hayward and Rebecca Thornhill, make up the comedy sub-plot with Gooch and Burkitt. Horace’s butler Bates (John Conroy) is a gem to watch, cue a sequence of funny disguises and accents as he keeps a close eye on Dale Tremont, while latino Sebastien Torkia (Alberto Beddini) steals the show at one point in his pants. Yes, it is just as brilliant and absurd as it sounds – what’s not to love? Burkitt makes tap dancing look so effortless and does it with cheeky charm, especially when he sweeps Gooch off her feet in that iconic feather gown.

Top Hat is a beautifully written love story with a humorous case of mistaken identity, brought to life through an astounding cast of talented individuals. Aside from the leading ladies and gents, the ensemble were just as entertaining and stunning to watch. They all seemed to be loving every moment they were on that stage, a ‘dream job’ for any musical theatre actor I can imagine. It is with thanks to Burkitt and the rest of this cast that Top Hat is now cemented as one of my all-time favourite musicals, sitting comfortably alongside Chicago.

Choreographed by Bill Deamer and directed by Matthew White, the team behind the production have created something spectacular and no doubt will leave audiences all around the UK falling in love with the show.  The lavish sets, glam costumes and timeless music really make it a magical and memorable performance, I’ve had the soundtrack stuck in my head ever since and there doesn’t seem to be a sign of that stopping.

Top Hat, Top Show. 

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See here for the Top Hat tour dates, and let me know if you see it!


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Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara

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I’m forever on the hunt for a new mascara. One that lengthens, volumises, separates and doesn’t leave any nasty clumps. As a big mascara junkie I’ve always got more than one on the go but I’m eager to find just one that will do the same job that three are currently doing.

Rewind a few weeks to when Maybelline launched this pretty pink metallic mascara, I had to get my hands on it! I used my trusty Boots points to pay for it, currently on an introductory price offer of £5.99 (will go back to £7.99 in a few days!), and off I went home to test it out.

Initial thoughts…

I found the brush really interesting, shorter than Maybelline’s The Falsies mascara but had a similar curve to it which I love. Curved wands make it easier to apply the product to the top and bottom lashes, something most mascaras can struggle to tackle, and this one does both jobs with the two curves perfectly.

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The brush is firm and does a great job of separating the lashes whilst doing some sort of volumising magic on them. The clump free formula make it easier to layer the mascara on, perfect if you are wearing it day to night. You haven’t got to worry about any smudging as it dries quickly and gives you a really pretty, natural look.

Removing mascara is one of my least favourite things to do usually but using my Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser this mascara is pretty easy to take off. If I’m feeling lazy I use my Simple makeup remover wipes, but they don’t remove it very well without a lot of rubbing so I would suggest using a stronger and softer solution. This does prove that the mascara doesn’t budge and still looks great from day to night without any necessary layering, always a good thing in my book.

I’ve used it every day since purchase and it’s a new favourite in my makeup collection! I actually might go and buy another whilst it’s cheaper…

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What mascaras are you currently loving?


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