Monday, 29 September 2014

Approved formulas for lip gloss haters

My ambivalent feelings towards lipgloss are no secret on these pages. Gloopy, sticky, and not particularly friendly to wearing your hair down on windy days, I had grown a fairly strong aversion to the stuff. But, having chucked my MAC lipglasses many moons ago, there are quite a few formulas now that really do make a lovely product, and I've found myself reaching for gloss more and more lately. Crazy, I know. Most importantly, all of these picks are non-sticky and fade gracefully.

  • YSL gloss pur in #47, #7, #3, #4: I think these have since be discontinued and reformulated as Gloss Volupte, but I wanted to include them because they're the first glosses I came across that I found to be very lovely to wear. The pigmentation is impactful without being bold, they wear very nicely over lipsticks, and they smell amazing. The orange one is one of my all-time favourite glosses, and when worn over the likes of YSL Rouge Volupte #1 or #2 gives a very editorial look.
  • Maybelline Colour Elixers 005 Breathtaking apricot and 135 Raspberry Rhapsody: These have a slightly thicker formula than the other options but it means they also last longer on the lips. They are also quite pigmented - Raspberry Rhapsody for instance is a really approachable way to wear a lightly bold plummy lip for fall.
  • Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 01 and 02: The least pigmented of the lot, but the feel of these is fantastic on the lips. They add a hint of colour, and definitely do perfect lip texture - no clinging to dry bits or settling into creases, they are satisfyingly slippy on the lips. They come in a squeezy tube with a sponge-tip applicator.
  • NYX butter glosses Peach Cobbler, Strawberry Parfait and Tiramisu: This affordable option ticks all the boxes. The glosses are non-sticky, have medium pigmentation, wear well, and feel good on the lips. I've been grabbing for Tiramisu as my everyday nude option so far this fall, and wore Peach Cobbler for a fair bit of the summer months as a more brightening option. I tend to wear them on their own, and if any gloss has been successful turning me into an everyday gloss-wearer, it's these.
  • by Terry Laque de Rose in 1: This is the only shade I've tried from the range but the formula is lovely. It has a slightly more glass-like look than some of the other options, so I prefer a lighter application. And, for a very straightforward looking pink, the look on the lips really is beautiful.

A post I never thought I would write! But with the help of these products I've definitely "come around" on the lip gloss thang.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Want List #4: A/W 2014 Fashion

Another Autumn want list coming your way, this time: fashion.

Photo set 1:

  • Helmut Lang Stretch Leather Pants: I've been eyeing these for a few seasons, and while it's highly unlikely I'll spend this much on leather pants, I am in the market for a decent look-alike. Recs?
  • Alexander Wang Magdalena Cut Out Pumps: Again, I can't imagine these would end up as my most worn shoes, but it was love at first sight, and I simply think they are fabulous.
  • Parka London Maya Draped Trench Coat and YAS Long Sleeved Trench Coat: I'm on the hunt for a trench coat, hopefully one that is at least somewhat functional as a rain jacket, but that is not too structured. I love these slightly more flowy options, but *think* I want to stick to black. Let me know if you've seen anything I should check out!

Photo set 2:

  • Topshop Side Pocket Grid Tunic Dress: Slightly graphic, clean lines, monochrome. Need I say more?
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs Domo Arigato Packrat Backpack: I've also wanted this for a few seasons and opted for a much more expensive leather option, that I'm now regretting! I'm thinking this would be good for the gym, for travel, or for chill days when I'm working in a cafe and carrying way to many things.
  • All Saints Jinx Boots: I may have already purchased these. And I'm so glad I did. I've been wanting the Rag & Bone Newbury Boots for a while and when I saw that they put the price up this year, it rubbed me the wrong way, and I started seeking out an alternative black boot. I came across these and they're perfect - beautiful leather that will continue to wear in, a narrow ankle that is very flattering with tights or skinnies but that you can wear jeans over if you wish as well. And the heel is very comfortable relative to its height, which make them an everyday-ish boot. They run a little small but the girl who was helping me said her pair did stretch and give over the first few wears so I stuck with my normal size and now they fit perfectly.

Photo set 3:

Photo set 4:

  • Just Female Earth Print T-Shirt Dress: Again, I'm a sucker for graphic and neutral.
  • JOA Checker Coat: I think my wardrobe needs a bit of an update on the knit front this year, and I really liked this black and white checked jumper/coat/heavy cardigan.
  • RAILS Hunter button down shirt: I already have one Rails flannel and it's beyond comfortable, and surprisingly warm. I like how bright and bold the pattern of this one is, and it's a bit less 'farmer' than some of the other flannel plaids. 
  • Rag & Bone Wide Brimmed Fedora: Whether it's this exact one, or a more affordable option, I'm really hanging for a nice brimmed hat. This one caught my eye because the top is slightly more structured (not round) but the brim doesn't appear too rigid, which I think is what might suit me the best.
  • Kate Spade New York Bento Box iPhone 5 case: A bit of a cute add-on, this sushi phone case from Kate Spade. No explanation needed.

What are you hanging for this Autumn? Let me know any recommendations you may have in the comments below!

Friday, 26 September 2014

The sweet life: Charlotte Tilbury Dolce Vita review

I've been hearing great things about the Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette in Dolce Vita basically since it launched last year, but only recently made the purchase myself. The colour palette is very Autumnal, and while gorgeous I wasn't sure how often I'd reach for it. If I'm honest I was tempering my expectations a bit. I'm now eating my words (or I guess, thoughts?) because seriously... it is worth. the. hype.

The palette has 3 shimmer shadows and one glitter (the bottom left bronzy gold), and they are all absolutely beautiful. I've worn this every single day now since purchasing it, and I'm excited to get to use it each morning. The textures are soft and buttery, the pigmentation is superb, the colours blend seamlessly, my eye makeup has looked fresh after 12 hour+ days, and the glitter shadow provides a perfectly formulated, unique and beautiful way to amp up your look. Can you tell I'm in love?

A few of my favourite ways to wear this eye quad:

  • For day: I've been wearing the champagne shade on the lid and the khaki/brown in the crease. The light colour is my absolutely perfect champagne shade - not too pink, yellow or white/chalky - I think it may be my favourite shade of this family I've come across. I thought the darker shade was more of a green for a long while, but upon actually making the purchase it is definitely a khaki brown. It has a slightly taupey tone which pulls cool but also a slightly bronzy tone as well. It's a beautiful shade and works really well to add depth.
  • For Autumn: On days I'm feeling particularly seasonal, I've also been adding a bit of the rust shade in my crease to the above look. It's a subtle and chic way of wearing some colour, and it makes my blue eyes really pop.
  • For night: I've been wearing a slightly plum/rust toned cream eye shadow (e.g. Chanel Illusion d'Ombre in Fatal) with the brown shade on my lid, the rust in the crease, and a tiny bit of the champagne as a highlight. It's a darker, more sultry look that is perfect for the evening, without being a bog standard smokey eye.
  • For a statement: The gold glitter is absolutely beautiful. It has tiny glitter particles that are best pressed on the lid with a finger after applying the rest of your shadows (I've used it with all of the looks above). It warms up the look, and draws a beautiful light and sparkle that is delicate but makes a statement at the same time. And no fall out.
I haven't been this excited by a makeup purchase in a very long time. I almost want to just savour it but it's also got me really curious to try out other bits from the Charlotte Tilbury range. Hmmm.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Gym-appropriate makeup

So.... after not exercising in about a decade (wouldn't recommend doing that!), I made a drastic decision a couple weeks ago and joined a gym. After a brief Anchorman "I immediately regret this decision" moment, my next thought was what makeup does one wear to a gym!? The reasonable answer is probably none, but I don't claim to be reasonable. Plus, as an extreme newcomer to the gym atmosphere, the last thing I wanted to worry about on top of my relative inadequacy fitness-wise, was how my face looked! If you saw me flailing about trying to do leg raises you'd know what I'm on about. So here are some simple, sweat-proof options that appear effortless but do just enough so you can focus on your workout.

MUFE Full Cover Extreme Camouflage Cream Waterproof: Foundation is a big no-no. The last thing I want when I'm sweating my ass off is the feel of a heavy product on my face, or the worry that it's blocking my pores or smudging all over the joint. I've been using this concealer under eyes and on any discolouration or blemishes and it really does the trick. It's thick but just creamy enough, and is full coverage and water resistant. It makes me feel confident enough with my skin that I can be preoccupied with other things.

Rimmel 100% Waterproof Mascara: I like this for its staying properties but it's a gym-only product for me. As a mascara I'm not particularly impressed, and I'm sure there are better options out there (like, perhaps, Urban Decay's Cannon Ball mascara which I'm yet to try). I wouldn't wear this as my daily mascara of choice but if I'm sweating or swimming it's a reliable option for defined and smudge-proof lashes.

MUFE Aqua Cream in #13: A longtime favourite, I've mentioned this quite a few times. It's one of my go-to eye bases anyway because its lasting power is so good. Turns out it's also waterproof, and looks great on its own to brighten the eyes.

Becca Beach Tint Water Resistant Colour for Cheeks and Lips in Grapefruit: I certainly don't want to look too 'done up' at the gym but a bit of colour never killed anyone. The Becca beach tints are super light weight, natural looking, and work as a perfect subtle stain equally well on both lips and cheeks.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Shopping my stash: 3 re-discoveries

The seasonal transition has found me shuffling through my makeup looking for less summery options, and in the process I've re-discovered some gems that had all but been forgotten.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in 54 Boy: Probably my all-time favourite 'nude' lipstick. The formula is light, glossy and easy to wear, and the shade is nude in a 'my lips but better' way, not a mannequin/concealer way. It basically goes with everything, and is the perfect lip to wear when you want some healthy colour but don't want your lips to compete with the rest of your makeup.

By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder: A silica based powder that also contains hyaluronic acid known for its hydrating properties. This is a super light weight colourless powder that can be used on its own, under or above makeup. It's actually quite interesting - it is a powder so it's great for setting and mattifying the face, but because of the hyaluronic acid it manages not to be drying, and it never goes cakey. As the day goes on my face does look naturally satin (not totally matte) but the powder definitely keeps shine at bay. Pores are less visible and it doesn't settle into or enhance fine lines. Dare I say it lives up to its claims! I've been using this everyday since pulling it out of the depths.

Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily Cologne Intense: I purchased this perfume in the duty free when I moved from Melbourne to Copenhagen, which in retrospect wasn't the wisest idea. I was leaving my favourite city in the world and a place I still consider home, and arrived in Copenhagen alone, to dark and lonely -10C days. My associations with this scent are therefore quite grim, and as a result I really never ever wear it - quite unfortunate since the scent itself really is lovely. A warm, quite sensual scent that is great for the colder months. I've begun making a concerted effort to wear this more often, in the hope that I can re-train my brain to form new, happy associations! We'll see.

The upside of having way too much makeup is that you make these little (not really) new discoveries! In this case, three products I'm happy to be reacquainted with.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Consuming Cocktails: Elderflower G&T

A superbly refreshing libation, this Elderflower Gin &  Tonic is the perfect way to pay homage to the season that just was, and to savour the final few warm days before Autumn really sets in ( some hypothetical dream world of course, because Manchester is already freezing).

What you'll need:
  • Tumbler
  • Ice
  • Jigger/Shot Glass
  • Tonic - preferably Fentimans or Fever Tree
  • Gin - something clean but basic like Beefeater will work, but the cucumber notes in Hendricks will be killer (I was out!)
  • Elderflower cordial
  • Fresh cucumber
  • Lime or Mint (for garnish)

Fill your tumbler with ice. Pour in 1/2 shot of elderflower cordial, and 1 shot of gin. Top with tonic and give a gentle stir. Slice the cucumber on the diagonal, and nestle a slice in your drink. Garnish with a slice of lime or some fresh mint leaves.

It's as easy as it gets but the sweetness of the elderflower really plays off well with the bitterness of the tonic (I even drink this sometimes without the Gin!). A slightly amped up G&T which is sure to please gin fans and naysayers alike. Yes, please.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: The Bathory

To continue with my newly-found bath obsession, I recently placed an order with The Bathory, a small independent producer of bath soaks, tailor made-to-order with your choice of essential oils. I'd seen a few positive reviews of this company over the past few months, who I gather had plugged into the blogosphere to boost their release, and decided to give the brand a go (with my own money, of course!)

The brand appeals to me on a whole number of levels. First, the logo, packaging and online platform are all sleek and simple, with a clear commitment to to a clean aesthetic. The core idea, too, is straightforward but really fun - customise your perfect bath soak! Here's how it works:

  1. Step 1 is to choose one of three of their salt mixes - bask, soothe, or detox.
  2. Step 2 is to choose a mix of 3 organic essential oils to be added to your salts, based on scent and mood - the site does a good job of helping you pick by letting you know what is good for what, and which oils pair nicely together
  3. Step 3 is to click order! Shipping is very quick, too.
I ordered 2 bath soaks - one was their Bask salts (a mix of epsom salts, himalayan pink salt and dead sea salts) with frankincense, rosemary and sandalwood oils, and one was their Soothe salts (a mix of epsom salts, oatmeal, honey and buttermilk) with grapefruit, lavender and ylang ylang. Both came beautifully packaged in a brown paper bag with a label clearly indicating your choice of oils (in case you want to order more!) inside of which was a matching dark glass jar full of the salts, beautiful enough to keep on display.

So, what did I actually think?? Unfortunately, for a product that promises the "best bath of your life" I was left a bit wanting. The Bask salts were ok, but the scent was not as strong as I would have liked. After having tried the Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts, I must say that I much prefer those - they knocked me out with the best sleep ever, and I felt like a little went a long way. Of the two Bathory soaks I ordered, I much preferred the Soothe version - it turned my bath a smooth milky consistency, smelled lovely, and was indeed very moisturising on the skin.

However, my gripe overall is that once you open the jar, it tells you to use 1/4 of the jar for a "quick fix", 1/2 for "full benefits" and the full jar for "the best bath of your life". Now... I'm happy to shell out $30/£18 plus shipping on a jar of salts that will last me a while - it is meant to be a luxurious treat after all - but I'm not willing to have a $30 bath. I tried using less, and the effect was not very impressive. So, to really enjoy these, it essentially is a single-use product (at best, double), and at the current price point I just can't justify buying more. I'd much prefer to opt for the Therapie salts, which are twice the price at £37, but which per bath work out far more economical with greater effect.

I'm always in favour of supporting small and independent companies, and I love the concept and design of this one. I think the salts would make a nice gift, but unfortunately, I can't really honestly recommend the product, since I won't be spending more of my own money on repurchasing.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Review: Maybelline BROWdrama Sculpting Brow Mascara

I'm usually fairly calculated with my purchases, but sometimes a bit of a gamble really does pay off. I recently popped the Maybelline BROWdrama Sculpting Brow Mascara in the shade Medium Brown into my basket as part of a Boots 3 for 2 offer (see my full haul here), and I'm so glad I did.

Labelled a 'brow mascara', this product is essentially a tinted brow gel, which adds colour and definition to brows, and holds them in place all with the sweep of a single product. I'm yet to try similar products like the Benefit Gimme Brow, but after finding this cheaper alternative I don't really have any need. The Maybelline offering comes with a bulbous wand, with rigid bristles, perfect for combing through and shaping brows without any clumping at all. Most importantly, the tube has a restricted opening, which means the brush is left with just the perfect amount of product. It almost looks bare until you go to apply it, and it leaves the most perfectly natural looking, subtle but effective, tint. I've found application to be almost fool proof.

Obviously this only adheres to your existing eye brows, so if you're looking for very precise re-shaping or filling in gaps this isn't the most appropriate product. But, if you have reasonably full eyebrows and just want a slightly more groomed look then this product is fantastic. I've seen that Rimmel has recently released a similar product but after playing with the tester at Boots I much preferred this option. I can't speak to the Rimmel formula, but the brush came out super gloopy with far too much product, which will turn into either a waste or a mess, or both. This Maybelline offering on the other hand is my new go-to brow product and acts as an all-in-one replacement for my spooly, brow wiz and brow gel. A great find.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Want List #3: A/W 2014 Beauty

Autumn is hands down my favourite season - I find the colour palettes, textures, changing leaves, and slightly cooler weather all very beautiful. A hangover from school-aged days growing up in NY, September also signals a fresh start in the year. So it's no surprise that my want lists are mounting... here are the beauty bits I'm currently coveting.

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow: God knows I don't need anymore highlighters, but I've only heard good things about this lovely duo. I typically embrace my pale skin (even in Summer) and am not one to use bronzer on the daily, but in recent weeks I have been enjoying a slightly warmed complexion. As the weather gets colder this is a great set to add a bit of shadow to the face and fake the appearance of glowy cheekbones despite the inevitable drying winter weather.

REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial: A new quick-enough-to-use-in-the-shower mask from REN, I can't wait to give this a go. The perfect pick me up if you've been lazy with a lengthy mask ritual. The only other quick mask I've had like this one is the Bliss Triple Oxygen Mask and I quite liked it for an immediate result. My skin has a particularly positive track record with Vitamin C, the main active ingredient in the REN offering, so I have high hopes.

Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne: The recent hype surrounding this new launch had me very curious and it had squarely made my want list before even getting a sniff. Well, this past weekend Dean and I were in Selfridges shopping for his birthday gift, and I managed to sneek away to try a spritz. Not having grown up in the UK, this does not evoke all of the nostalgia that other bloggers have tried to put into words. It was pleasant for sure, and even strangely addictive. But, whether I need to have it, I'm not sure. It struck me as something I would enjoy wearing for a while but not a scent that would become a favourite or even warrant a repurchase. The jury is out, and since it's not LE I think I'll wait a while.

YSL Fusion Ink Foundation in BD20: The newest release from YSL, this foundation is billed as a super lightweight formula with a long-lasting semi-matte finish. The tagline is 'feels like a feather, wears like an ink' which is right up my alley since I prefer a medium semi-matte/satin finish but hate the feeling of heavy foundations. I've already been colour matched for this and BD20 was absolutely seamless but the counter had run out of samples so I may just go back and buy the full size outright.

Tom Ford Eye Colour Quad in Nude Dip: Believe it or not I've never owned anything from TF Beauty. Despite spending far too much money on cosmetics, I think living outside of the UK/US has meant that I've found brands like TF, Burberry, etc. hard to come by in store, and items this pricey are better not purchased blind. Then theres the problem of actually narrowing down what to get! Well, this palette, despite having very dupable shades, really just caught my eye. The formula looks absolutely luxe, and I think at this price point I would rather get shades I can wear everyday and compromise on uniqueness. Apparently this is projected to sell out but if I can track one down I think I may be swayed to hand over my card. Sorry not sorry.

Charlotte Tilbury Colour-Coded Eyeshadow Palette in Dolce Vita: I'm yet to own any Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadows (or anything for that matter!) but this much-raved about palette has really caught my attention. The colours are absolutely perfect or autumn and I think the burgundy/bronzey/olive shades will compliment my blue/green eyes. It's also much less dupable given the rest of my collection. I think if I had to prioritise one new palette for fall, this would be it.

Malin+Goetz Dark Rum Candle: Manchester has already become quite chilly, and now that September has arrived I'm really hanging for a new warming home scent. SpaceNK describes this candle as having "top notes of bergamot and plum, middle notes of rum and leather. The base notes of amber-patchouli and vanilla perfectly balances the sweet warm notes of rum." Basically, perfection.

What's topping your wishlist this autumn??

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Boots haul...

One qualm I had living in both Australia and Denmark is that so-called 'drugstore' brands are exorbitantly overpriced. So much so that if you are going to indulge at all, you may as well just go for high-end brands, because the cheapie end, is really no bargain at all! So I'd be lying if I said the football-field sized Boots in Central Manchester doesn't have me a bit weak in the knees. Enter my first Boots haul! woop woop!

Photo 1:
First up are three Maybelline products, and I won't lie, the 3 for 2 certainly instigated these. I had used the mousse foundation years ago, well before really getting 'into' makeup, and the latest release in the line is called the Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid foundation, an oil-free formula for normal skin that promises to erase pores. Sold. I picked up shade 10 Ivory, and so far so good. I also came across the new Maybelline BROWdrama Brow Sculpting Mascara in Medium Brown and spoiler alert: it's awesome (review coming soon!). To round out the deal I picked up another Maybelline Color Elixer, this time in shade 135 Raspberry Rhapsody, a gorgeous plummy-pink in a pigmented non-sticky formula, that is an exception to my I-hate-lipgloss rule.

Next up is a second foundation, the L'Oreal True Match foundation in colour D1-W1 Golden Ivory, a perfect shade for me. I've heard all manner of raves about this and its similarity to Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk so I finally bit the bullet, and will let you know how I get on. A freebie liner pen, the Super Liner So Couture was an added bonus. I've also heard a lot of love recently for the Soap & Glory Solar Powder, and I've been dabbling a bit more in bronzer over the past few weeks, so the buy one get one half off deal (do you see a theme developing here?) saw me pop one in my trolley. Last but not least, I came across this lonely polish on a shelf of its own and was oddly drawn to it - it's nails inc. Gel effect polish in Lexington Gardens - brighter than a pastel, but not quite a muted neon purple, it's more summer than autumn but I just painted my nails with it and I like.

Photo 2:
On to skincare, body and hair! I've been in desperate need of an eye cream for ages now, but had been putting it off since they tend to be very expensive and not particularly exciting. I saw this La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] for Eyes on sale, and went for it reviews unseen. It's a retinol based anti-ageing eye cream - I'll update you if it's any good.

Even though body mists are very middle school, I had been feeling a slight pull to pick one up - it's a refreshing, cheap way to wear a very girly/sweet scent that I would never go for in full-on perfume form! I picked up the Ted Baker Sweet On You Body Spray Duo and and been misting at will each morning. I've heard Estee rave about the Soap & Glory Orangeasm body wash so in my basket it went at well.

Finally, I mentioned in my In & Out post that I'm completely over my hair, so I picked up 3 different products to avoid dealing with it! A small bun doughnut, a few simple elasticated headbands, and these spiral hairbands that I've seen a few girls wearing. Anything to not have to properly style my hair down.

Photo 3:
Some pretty sunflowers that Dean got me for being brave getting my stitches out, and to which I came home, with this haul in hand. Cue collective awww.

Monday, 8 September 2014

The capsule brush collection

I spent the majority of this summer moving and traveling, which together meant that I was making-do with a small, very well curated set of products for a good two months straight. While a small makeup bag does beg for some variety, I was surprised to find that the handful of brushes I packed really did cover all bases. 3 weeks after landing in my new apartment, and I still haven't made any effort to restore my full brush collection.


  • Real Techniques contour brush: My powder brush of choice. This is not one of those massive sweep and go brushes but it's great for patting powder into the skin, and I find this is the best way to mattify skin and set makeup so it lasts in the warmer months. It's also the perfect size for contouring (as the name suggests), and highlighting too.
  • Real Tecnhiques blush brush: On the large side for a blush brush, I find this great for bronzer and for blending out very pigmented powder blushers.
  • MAC 168 large angled contour brush: My long-time favourite for blush application, this is great for placing colour in a flattering way. It applies colour more precisely and densely than the RT blush brush, so I choose between the two depending on which blush I'm sporting.
  • Real Techniques stippling brush: The absolute best for cream blushes. 'Nuff said.
  • I've been applying foundation with my fingers as of late, but if I had to retrieve one foundation brush it would be my Real Techniques buffing brush - easy and flawless. It's sold as part of the Core Collection, alongside the contour brush.


  • MAC 239 eye shader brush: The standard (and in my opinion, best) eyeshadow brush for packing colour onto the lid.
  • MAC 217 buffing brush: Fluffy but with enough structure to stay precise, this is the only brush I need for blending colour through my crease.
  • An older large shader brush by Sephora (has since been reformulated): a broad shader brush perfect for applying brow bone highlight. 
  • MAC 219 pencil brush (not pictured): My favourite brush I've found for smudging out eyeliner or applying shadow along the lashline. I sadly lost mine on a night out but it is the one brush missing from the lot above that I miss and will repurchase.

I should add that I have many more (and in most cases more expensive) brushes, and these are still my top picks (they also don't shed, unlike some of their more pricey counterparts). I don't wear overly complicated makeup on a daily basis, but I've found this bunch to be totally sufficient for any look I've worn over the past couple months. With that in mind, I'd also recommend it as a starter set of sorts for those who are just getting into makeup.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

My travel makeup bag for a city break

While a bit of travel seems like a good excuse to use those pesky minis constantly cluttering my stash, when it comes to a city break, I want to look and feel just as put together as I would at home. So rather than experimenting with new or risky options, I tend to pick the one product in each category that I know I can really rely on (hence the very-well loved, read: dingy, packaging in the photo below). Check out the capsule makeup bag I took with me for a recent week away.

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation can be worn as a very full coverage or applied quite sheer. It's SPF free, so good for day and night and has a reliably-long wear time. My longtime favourite concealer combo - Bobbi Brown Corrector and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer - guarantee that both undereye circles and any blemishes are fully accounted for. Top with a layer of Chanel Natural Finish Pressed Powder (Poudre Universelle Compacte), which does an impressive job at keeping my skin matte all day without it looking cakey or powdery and that's base done.

MAC Painterly paint pot is the perfect eye base to wear on its own or for long-wearing, crease-free shadows. It's flesh-toned and matte, so it works perfectly under any coloured or textured shadows you may pack. The Laura Mercier Eye & Cheek Palette (not pictured) was my one-stop-shop for eye and cheek colour, and performed well enough to make it into my May favourites. The shadows are buttery and easy to work with, versatile enough for day and night looks, and I loved having 3 blush options too (pink, peach or mixed). NARS Multiple in Copacabana acted as the perfect universal highlight for cheeks and browbone. The Anastasia Brow Wiz pencil and Clear Brow Gel are an easy-peasy solution for well-kept brows, and a slick of my all-time favourite mascara, the Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Mascara finishes off the eyes.

Last but not least, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Saga was my daily lip product of choice, and Revlon Matte Balm in Striking provided a bold option for nights out.

The above selection, applied over Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Serum (my moisturiser of choice for the duration of the trip), resulted in seriously long-wearing but no-fuss makeup.  The looks transitioned perfectly from day to night with only minor touch-ups needed. I was actually taken by surprise a few times, looking in the mirror after super long days to find my makeup totally fresh and intact. It goes without saying that these products are some of my all-time favourites and I would highly recommend each and every one of them.

Friday, 5 September 2014

My new favourite (homemade) snack

I'm definitely a savoury snacker - my taste for sweets has waned throughout my twenties, and aside from a good dark chocolate with almonds I almost always veer towards salty snacks. I love food, fresh ingredients and cooking, so junk food and crisps are not at all appealing to me - it's not a discipline thing, I just really don't enjoy it. You'll usually find me with a giant bowl of homemade salsa or guacamole, one of a few greek/cypriot dips, or a damn good triple cream brie (my heaven). I've recently added to that list these super easy but absolutely delicious crispy kale chips. You can't have just one.

The pièce de résistance is curly kale. I love cavolo nero, but I've never really found a decent use for its curly counterpart until now. This little preparation ritual is super easy and yields a whole container of divinely toasty kale chips - the perfect healthy remedy for a salty tooth.


1 large bunch of curly kale
extra virgin olive oil
good salt (I use Maldon salt flakes - a decent salt really does make a massive difference to flavour, not just for these, but in all recipes!)


1 baking sheet
1 sheet parchment/grease-proof paper
kitchen scissors
salad spinner
Large prep/mixing bowl
Airtight storage container

  1. Preheat oven to 175C/350F fan-forced. The fan is important because the airflow helps keep the oven dry, ensuring your kale gets properly crispy! 
  2. Remove the middle stems from the kale - I've found using a pair of kitchen scissors to be the easiest way to do this. Tear or cut the leaves into large-ish bite-sized pieces (they'll shrink as they cook).
  3. Wash the kale thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner. It's important to get as much moisture out as possible. 
  4. Add two handfuls of kale to the prep mixing bowl with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt (to taste). It may not seem like enough oil at first but if you use your hands to coat the kale you'll find that a little goes a long way.
  5. Spread the kale in a single layer on your lined baking sheet, trying to avoid as much overlap as possible.
  6. Put in the oven, and cook until the edges are brown and the centres are still green. In my oven this takes about 5 minutes, but they can progress very quickly so keep and eye on them! If you need to, set a minute reminder on your phone. If you're not sure you can take them out and feel whether they're totally crispy and continue for another minute if need be.
  7. Let cool on the tray, and repeat steps 4-6 until you've used all the kale. 
  8. Store in an airtight container - I'm not sure how long they'll last because I've never made it past a few days, and I doubt you will either.
I'm really loving these - so much so that big bunch of kale has now become a staple in my weekly shop. If you try it out, let me know in the comments what you think!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Natural nails

When I think of a chic manicure, natural nails is certainly not the first thing to come to mind. But, having traveled for most of this summer I've found myself sans polish a disproportionate amount of time, and in addition to being convenient, I've actually also noticed that the condition of my nails is the best it's been in years. Long, strong, and whiter tips are all good in my book. As it turns out, well manicured natural nails have a certain easygoing but sophisticated appeal .

Soft nails are less likely to be damaged by clippers and files, so soak your tips in some warm water for a couple minutes. Next I clip my nails to the desired length and shape the edges with a glass file. I'm a huge believer in glass files for less damage and a smooth finish, and I literally never leave the house without this Manicare baby in tow.  Apply a bit of OPI cuticle oil to soften the skin, then push back and trim if you want. This is a wholly unnecessary step hygiene wise (probably worse for you), but it does give a much more elongated look to the nails - mine tend to look a bit wide and stumpy otherwise so this is important for me! Once nails dry I go in with a Model's Own 4-sided nail buffer - I skip side 1 since my nails are already filed at this point, but do steps 2-4 (buff-smooth-shine) for a ridge-free and polished finish. Finally, I paint on a coat of OPI's Original Nail Envy Nail Strengthener which provides a welcomed clear gloss and strengthens nails at the same time. Throw the travel version of OPI's Avoplex Cuticle Oil in your handbag for keeping nails looking hydrated and nourished on the go. No genius really, but I know I'm not the only one who has covered some sorry looking nails with polish to make them look presentable. Now you'll have no need.

Monday, 1 September 2014

August favourites & fails

I'm just going to go ahead and proceed with my August faves and fails as though June and July never happened. Creative license, no?


NARS Orgasm blush: an oldie but goodie. I hadn't worn this in probably 2 years until I dug it out this month. I think since NARS tend to include/promote Orgasm seemingly with every new release/palette/you name it, I had grown tired and had given preference to its more subtle cousin, Deep Throat. But I have to say, the pinky-coral with golden sheen of this blush really does do amazing things to lift, brighten and highlight the face. I've re-fallen in love.

MAC Trace Gold blush: My first ever MAC blush, purchased back in 2009 or thereabouts, on recommendation from the MUA at the MAC duty free! At the time I thought it was an odd choice but this really is an amazing blush. It's a golden bronze but on my skin has an ever so subtle pink undertone to it, meaning it can triple as bronzer, blush and highlighter without a bit of orange in sight.

Joeur Matte Moisture Tint in shade Linen: A seasonal favourite, this product is my go-to base product for summer. It has the ease of a tinted moisturiser, with a decent but not suffocating level of coverage, and a matte/satin finish that lasts without slipping off. Need I say more?

Bobbi Brown Sheer Lip Colour in Rosy: A recommendation from Estee, this is a great slightly pink, slight red, well, rosy colour. Well pigmented (not particularly sheer, despite the name) and mositurizing, my only gripe is that I'm not a huge fan of the flat bullet for application.

Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser in Fair: This is my 3rd one of these overall, though I've had about a year-long break since my last tube. A fab undereye concealer that has good coverage (and my dark circles are a force to be reckoned with!), is mosturizing but doesn't crease, is brightening, and with the sponge tip applies like a dream with very little work. Affordable efficacy - highly recommend.

Soap & Glory Breakfast Scrub: I went on a bit about this in my Scrubs post, but let's just say that it smells so fabulous of maple, almondy, sugary goodness, that I've upped my exfoliation regimen just so I have the pleasure of using this. I look forward to it, and will certainly continue to repurchase.

I love... Coconut & Cream bubble bath and shower gel: A big, affordable, shower gel from boots. The formula is good - soap free, paraben free and pH balanced, for a whopping 3 pounds. I only use this as body wash (and so does Dean), but, like the scrub above, it smells fab and that alone has qualified it as a fave.


Seche Vite Top Coat (not pictured): I'm being a bit facetious labelling this a fail - it's actually probably my favourite top coat I've tried. But, it's about half-way gone and has gotten so thick and gloopy that it's unusable. Contrary to the shine and staying power it usually imparts, my most recent few manicures with this stuff have led to my polish plucking off whole nails at a time. I'm pretty sure you can buy some kind of thinner/reviver for this but in principle I don't think I should have to do that. Please send me any recs you have for alternative top coats that perform as well and last in the bottle?? Ta!