How To Approach Brands and Get Samples

Before I start writing this post I would like to make my intentions clear. As a blogger a lot of people have asked me how I grow my following and how I get free samples. Compared to a lot of bloggers out there I don’t get that many samples and products from brands, I only review what I think is relevant to my blog and if you are thinking of starting a blog just for samples let me tell you that this will not work. A blog takes hard work and with plenty of blogs out there you need to stand out and earn those products. Now that you understand that, here’s my tips.
how-to-approach
1) Understand the market
It really does depend on what you are blogging about but if you’re covering beauty, fashion and lifestyle then there really is a lot of competition. In honesty, the beauty blogger market is very saturated which means that there’s way more bloggers than you may think. When contacting a brand or trying to ask for samples you need to understand your USP (unique selling point) what can you offer that other bloggers don’t? It could be that you have a strong social media following or perhaps you have a polished writing ability but know your strengths and think about how that will benefit a brand. To be considered you must have something that your target brand wants.

2) Don’t be greedy
A lot of bloggers refuse to work for free and whilst I understand that photography, social media and blogging takes time you do need to be realistic. I’ve never been paid for reviewing a product and in honesty I personally wouldn’t want to be. If you’re targeting high end brands then you need to be aware that unless you can ultimately help to market the brand and boost sales that fifteen pound lipstick is fifteen pounds that they’re not making. Similarly, don’t get a bad reputation for emailing and spamming every brand and public relations company out there and if you are a small or new blogger start small and work your way up.

3) Maintain your integrity
I’ve seen beauty bloggers suddenly rave about pet food when they have been sent it because they want to impress a brand. Let me tell you now only accept collaborations and products that match what your blog is promoting. Similarly be honest! Every single product I have reviewed on my blog (whether I purchased or it it was sent) has an honest review, that’s not to say that you can’t like a product but if you start to lie it will become obvious, samples are a benefit but at the same time integrity can’t be bought.

4) Always disclaim what has been sent to you
In the UK as far as I’m aware there’s no law saying that you have to disclose what was sent but if you don’t then other bloggers won’t be impressed. I personally have a disclaimer for everything that is sent to me because I want you guys to know that I did not buy this product, hiding that fact makes people question your integrity. I remember instantly unfollowing one large blogger, she had a disclaimer that said she was sent the products then began her review by stating “Whilst browsing the aisles of X I couldn’t resist buying Y” don’t bullshit me, if you’ve been sent a product then you didn’t buy it so tell the truth!

5) Approach brands professionally
Whenever I approach a brand (which is rare to non existant if I’m honest) I think about what it is that I want. Let’s say that you want to try a skincare brand perhaps you could ask them that you would like to try some samples to see if they work for your skin. This is totally reasonable, but again be fair. I like to also request to be added to a press list so I can get the latest press releases on your launches and advancements in the industry. Constantly demanding samples won’t impress if you like the product consider buying it and never repeatedly ask for samples of products that you’ve tried before unless you want to look like you’re in it only for the freebies.

6) Do your research
Yes large bloggers may get full sized samples and whilst that is attractive starting small can help you build a rapport with a brand and it gives you something for your press pack (I’ll get onto this next). Some of the samples that I’ve reviewed have been magazine freebies, a sample in a magazine, from online websites that sometimes give away free samples, through social media and through being emailed. There’s endless resources and ways to try products, so don’t think that it’s full size of nothing. I still review perfume samples because although I may not be able to talk about packaging I can tell you about the notes, the longevity, the scent and if I would recommend it.

7) Don’t take on too much
If you are promising brands reviews in exchange for samples then stick to it and this means not going for every sample and opportunity out there. Whilst this may be disappointing you have to turn down opportunities, it’s better to really invest time into each opportunity than to have stacks of questioning emails and feeling overwhelmed.

8) Be wary of personal details
A lot of bloggers use PO boxes but these can be quite expensive to get so the rest of us will have products sent to us directly, this means that you have to think about your personal details. DO NOT give out your phone number EVER and b very careful where your address is going, identify theft is still a think and slapping your home address on social media is never a good idea. I only ever send me address via email and even then I have a separate email for my blog than my personal email. It’s not worth getting hurt or having your identify or personal details stolen for a freebie.

9) Grow your following and get analysing

Bigger brands demand a high following and plenty of engagement and they have every right to do so because they have bloggers queuing to work with them, this means that you have to put effort into your blog. Practice your photography, refine your writing style, proofread everything, grow your social media and think about SEO, Google Analytics and page rankings. I’ve spent nearly three years growing my following and I still think that I have a long way to go. If you’d like to work with brands as I said above start small and work your way up and be willing to put the effort in. Remember, nothing worth it in life comes for free.

10) Create a press pack and rate card
Whilst this may not be as necessary for reviewing products if you’re thinking of doing sponsored posts then you need to create a press pack and a rate card. A rate card has the price and costing of hiring you to promote or produce content, consider the services that you would like to offer and how much to charge. There’s no set rate for bloggers but typically the bigger you are the more you can make so do your research. A press pack details professional information about your blog, this can include your ethos, your following on both your blog and social media, page rankings, previous work you have done with brands and generally information that will encourage a company to work with you. Press packs take time but do it right and it will add a nice accompaniment to any email.

That concludes this post! If you enjoyed it please hit the like button and feel free to leave your questions or advice in the comments section, also if you’re not already following me on Bloglovin or WordPress feel free to do so.

Thanks for reading!
love_nina

Posted in lifestyle, Random | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grace Cole Fruitworks Watermelon and Pink Grapefruit Shower Gel Review

Grace Cole is a lovely brand in England that provides a selection of bath and body products. I don’t really hear people talk about Grace Cole despite the facts that the products were stocked in House of Fraser. If you’ve yet to try the brand think of fruity scents, luxurious feeling formulas and a low price tag. The shower gels aren’t the best I’ve tried and I have to admit this one was a bit of a disappointment here’s why.
shower-gel
Grace Cole has various ranges within her overall product line and this is part of the Fruitworks range. I love the packaging, it’s very fun and colourful with images of fruit that I feel reflects the product range well. This miniature version came in a set but the full sized body wash is retails for £5.00 for 500ml which I think is great value for money.

In terms of formula, this lathers up okay, it’s a clear product which can make it difficult to gauge how much that you’re using, call me daft but I’d love to see a product that matched the colour of the packaging. This does foam up slightly but the coolness of the gel means that sometimes I don’t always feel like I’ve combated the stink.

In terms of smell this definitely leans more towards watermelon in my opinion. I personally don’t like watermelon but I do like grapefruit. My boyfriend is the opposite, he smelled the grapefruit whereas I smelled the watermelon, I think you’d only get on with this is you liked both scents, I do think that the scent is very light.

Overall, this isn’t bad but I’ve tried better including the Coconut and Lime from this range which is fantastic. I personally wouldn’t repurchase but if you are a fan of watermelon and grapefruit then I’d recommend that you give it a try.

The Grace Cole Watermelon and Pink Grapefruit Body Wash is available here for £5.00.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and if you did please hit the like button, let me know in the comments if you have tried anything by Grace Cole. Other than the shower gels I have a body mist which I love!

Thanks for reading.
love_nina

Posted in Body and Fragrance | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soap and Glory Smoulder Kohl in Superblack Review

Black eyeliner is a staple in my makeup collection however, I often plump for a nude one for daywear simply because I find it so hard to find a black eyeliner that doesn’t run on me. I was excited to try this one by Soap and Glory that came in a Soap and Glory eye makeup set. This is quite budget friendly and very high quality, here’s my thoughts.

smoulder-kohl
The Soap and Glory Smoulder Kohl retails for £5.00 usually the lid has a sharpener in it but as this was in a set it doesn’t which is a little bit of a shame as I could do with a new one! I adore the packaging the pink and black works well together.
nib
For me pencil liners fall into two categories, we have the standard ones that tend to be more common, these are relatively decent as liners but can drop down or smudge. Then we have what I like to think of as the elevated versions, these are much creamier and feel higher quality, they also tend to be harder to sharpen, these include liners by Urban Decay and Gosh and this one. This definitely reminds me of the Urban Decay 24/7 liners, it’s very pigmented with a creamy texture that just glides onto the waterline and lash line. The difference is that this is £5.00 whereas Urban Decay is around £15.00.
swatch
Instantly with one swipe there’s a very rich black pigment. One thing that I love about Soap and Glory products is the pigment, from the mascara to this liner when they say black they mean black not a watery grey or blue toned version.

This does glide onto the waterline and lid, the only thing I would improve if I was to nitpick would be for this to last longer, black liner never lasts on me! I’m not sure on the exact hours but this does last longer than other pencil liners that I’ve tried without being difficult to remove. At the moment I’ve had this on for around five hours and although it has broken up a little on my waterline it’s not noticeable unless you pull down the waterline to look. I’ve not tried smudging or smoking this but I think that this is best for those who need their eyeliner to stay where they put it which is something that I need!

Overall, this is fantastic, I’d highly recommend this liner. Soap and Glory do also do coloured ones in their gift sets but these aren’t yet in the permanent range which is a shame because I’d love to try them! There is however, a brown one that I do think that I’ll try. I would definitely repurchase this, at only five pounds it’s extremely high quality.

The Soap and Glory Smoulder Kohl is available here for £5.00.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and if you did please hit the like button, let me know in the comments if you have tried any of the Smoulder Kohls by Soap and Glory, people have hailed this as a dupe for the MAC Smoulder Kohl but I actually prefer this!

Thanks for reading.
love_nina

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Body Shop Honey Bronze Highlighting Dome in 02 Blush Review

I have to be honest when the Body Shop first launched their Honey Bronze range I instantly thought “This is not for me” the reason is simply due to my skintone. I’m very pale with neutral undertones, so although I can pull off warmer shades  have to be careful. The word bronze is something that honestly scares me, I’m very selective with my bronzers and I don’t use fake tan so I will admit that this product definitely made me nervous…
highlighting-dome
The Body Shop Honey Bronze Highlighting Domes come in three shades 01 (highlight) 02 (blush) and 03 (bronze), the shade that I have here is 02 (blush). The packaging is rather unusual, the lid unscrews and you have a wider base to hold onto and then a dome of product. For blusher this would work quite well but I think I’d struggle to highlight and bronze with this as the shape of the product means that you can’t be as precise. These retail for £8.00 which I’d say is a comfortable high street price.
inside
The colour of this product reminds me of Sleek’s Rose Gold and Nars Orgasm but a little darker. It’s a pinky coral with golden shimmer in it. Unfortunately this product does contain glitter which is something that I tend to avoid for the face. Although I do love me some glitter on my nails occasionally, at twenty two I think I’d struggle to walk out with a glittery face without looking a bit daft, but that is just my own preferences.
swatch
The texture of this surprised me, I expected it to be quite creamy and although it is a cream based product it’s actually on the drier side. Swiping this across my face allowed it to drag a little bit and the product wasn’t super soft in texture. It’s not the driest product I’ve ever tried but it’s harder and slightly waxier than I expected. I’ve swatched this above and as you can see it’s clung to what small amount of arm hair I actually have. Looking at my own arm there’s no noticeable hair and definitely not even enough to shave yet in this photo it really shows up the texture of my skin which isn’t great for drier skin types like me.

Although this is moderately pigmented, you aren’t going to leave a stripe on your face but when you blend it the colour quickly fades leaving behind small particles of glitter. This really disappointed me as the colour wasn’t there but the shimmer was. If I had used this as a highlight the shade would be too dark for my skintone so my main option was as a blush but even that didn’t really work.
blended
(Blended out)
Overall, I’m just not keen on this, the formula isn’t great, the colour is too dark for me as a highlighter, too pink to be a bronzer and too glittery as a blusher so it’s not very versatile. I think that concept sounds nice with the dome shape but to me this is more gimmicky and not something that I feel that I need. I’ll be passing this onto someone who I think can get more use out of it and personally I don’t think that these are anything to shout about, I wouldn’t recommend or repurchase.

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Highlighting Domes are available here for £8.00.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and if you did please hit the like button, let me know in the comments if you would give these a go or if you have tried them. Also if you’re not already please follow me on WordPress or Bloglovin, I’m really trying to grow my following this year so it would be a massive help.

Thanks for reading!
love_nina

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Winter Frost Nail Art Tutorial

I’m really proud to bring you today’s post as it’s my first time using glitter for a nail art tutorial and it actually worked. Today’s post is a basic nail art tutorial that was inspired by frost and blue skies that encapsulate January in my eyes. This tutorial is very simple so I hope that you enjoy it and let me know if you give it a try!

You will need
products
A pale blue nail polish – I used Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Polish in Uptown Blue.
Holographic shimmery glitter – I used Seventeen Nail Glitter (came in a nail art set)
A top coat of choice – I used Manhattan Pro Mat Top Coat

Step One:
blue-nail
The first step is to paint your nails with the blue nail polish move onto the next step before the nails have fully dried. I chose a pale blue because I wanted it to look quite wintery and with the glitter it reminds me of frost but you can use any colour that you like.

Step Two:
glitter
The next step is to pour the glitter. Originally I tried dipping the nail but that caused the polish to smudge so I took a flat surface (a box lid works great to catch the glitter) then I simply poured the glitter over the nail. Be generous with the glitter to make sure that it coats the nail fully. Once the glitter is on the nail gently shake the nail to get off any excess and allow to try.

Step Three:
finished
Apply a top coat to seal the design into place, I actually used a matte top coat and I’m really happy with the results. This tutorial really was easy to do and you can use it on all of your nails for a sparkling effect or simply on an accent nail. I was surprised at how easy this was and I LOVE the end result.

That concludes this post, if you enjoyed it please hit the like button and let me know in the comments if you would try out these glitter nails. If you’re not already following my blog then feel free to do so on WordPress or Bloglovin.

Thanks for reading.
love_nina

Posted in Nails | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dark Magic Makeup Tutorial

I have to admit that this look definitely didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, or should I say it did but the horrible yellow lights we have here plus the cloudy weather has stopped this from showing up on camera as it did in reality. I have to say I am disappointed with the photography of this look however, I thought I’d still share it with you. I hope that you like it.
look-2 look
Eyes
I always start eye makeup first because then I can catch any fallout before I start my face. I started by priming my eyes with the Body Shop Instablur Eye Primer the texture of this really annoys me however, it does provide a good base for eye makeup. Next I used my Urban Decay Vice 3 palette. I used the shade Alchemy across the lid (it’s actually a deep pink but it’s shown up as more of a brown on this look) I then used the shade Defy in the crease and I blended that out. Pink and grey may sound like a strange combination but the pink is more red toned so it worked quite well for this. I wanted the eyes to be the key focus so I also applied winged liner using my Soap and Glory Supercat Liner. For my tightline and waterline I went with black using my Soap and Glory Smoulder Kohl in Black. I then applied under eye concealer using the Maybelline Instant Eye Eraser Concealer before applying the inner corner and brow bone highlight which was the shade Bobby Dazzle from the same palette. For lashes I used the Benefit They’re Real Lash Primer on my upper and lower lashes then the L’oreal Telescopic Mascara on my upper lashes. Finally I swept some of the same grey shade (Defy) on my lower lash line and used my Sleek Brow Kit in Dark for my brows.

Face
My face was kept relatively simple, I didn’t want too much colour considering the bold nature of the eye and lip. I primed with my Stila Aqua Glow Perfecting Primer which I love before applying my L’oreal True Match Foundation in 1N using my Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. I added a small amount of my Astor Deluxe Bronzer in 002 Safari Fever underneath my cheekbones and the applied a small amount of my MUA Undress Your Shimmer Highlighter in Iridescent Pink to my cheekbones and down the centre of my nose. For powder I used my Max Factor Creme Puff Powder in Truly Fair to set everything down.

Lips
For the lips I used only one product and that was the Nyx Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen I absolutely adore this product the shade and finish is an absolute dream and it really rounds off this look.

That concludes this look, if you enjoyed this post please hit the like button and let me know in the comments if you would give this a go. If you don’t like pink you could swap the pink for a brown as you can see brown works nicely too!

Thanks for reading.
love_nina

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Eve Taylor Age Resist Range Review

The Eve Taylor Age Resist range is one that both intrigued and unnerved me. If you have been reading my blog you’ll know that I’ve done quite a few reviews of Eve Taylor products, most have disappointed me, one burned my skin and I’m yet to find one that blew me away, so I felt that this range would be no different. Despite this, anti ageing skincare seems to work wonders for me even though I’m only 22, I have to say this range has surprised me…
eve-taylor-age-resist
There are three products that I have to talk about from this range, first we have the Day Cream with Ceramide 3, then we have the Night Cream with Vitamin E and the C+ Brightening Moisturiser. There are more products in this range but these are the three that I have.

Age Resist Day Cream with Ceramide 3 £17.03 (50ml retail)
The main ingredient of this cream is Ceramide 3 which helps to retain the moisture within the epidermis. I agree with the brand that this is medium weight, I’ve felt lighter and I’ve felt heavier, it sank into the skin relatively well and did leave my skin feeling soft and hydrated, it also didn’t move or disturb my makeup. This has a herbal scent due to the presence of herbs such as patchouli, lavender and clary sage. It’s a scent that I could do without but it could be a lot worse. Generally, this did moisturise my face and didn’t irritate. This isn’t something that I felt was groundbreaking, so I personally wouldn’t repurchase, there is other day creams out there that I personally prefer.

Age Resist C+ Bright Brightening Moisturiser £27.59 (50ml retail)
c-sharp
I didn’t expect this to happen but this product was absolutely fantastic and it really blew me away. The pale salmon toned cream has a light fruity scent (most likely due to the presence of Vitamin C) which I found really pleasant. This sank in like a dream which I didn’t expect as a lot of the creams from Eve Taylor have struggled to actually sink in. What surprised me about this is how my face instantly looked radiant. Don’t think shiny or oily but imagine that beautiful healthy glow that just makes your skin look airbrushed. That’s what I had. This is quite expensive but I didn’t even need the entire sachet to cover my face so I think that a little really would go a long way. I would recommend and repurchase, if there’s one product that I’d recommend from everything I’ve tried by this brand it would be this by far, it is amazing!

Age Resist Night Cream with Vitamin E £14.39 (50ml retail)
Back to the herbal scent with the presence of Lavender, this is described as a richer cream that provides nourishment and hydration. I wouldn’t say that this is a thick cream or even very rich but it wasn’t thin or watery like a lotion. This sank into my skin again surprisingly easily which did surprise me. This did leave my skin feeling soft and smooth but I didn’t feel like my skin was especially hydrated. Not a bad product but again nothing groundbreaking.

That concludes this post, the final Eve Taylor products I have will be reviewed next week and then we’re finished with this brand. If you enjoyed this post please hit the like button and let me know in the comments if you would give any of these products a go.

Thanks for reading!
love_nina

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