Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone fun and safe new years celebrations, wherever in the world you may be! New posts coming soon :)


Monday, 29 December 2014

December Favourites & Fails

December has to be my favourite month of the year. Both Dean and I are Christmas-obsessed - from music, to food, to decorations, to the bustling city, the festive spirit, and most importantly this year - we had our parents visiting us in Manchester! It is the month where my attention (and my budget!) are mostly turned towards others, but at the same time, the festivities entail parties and glamour, which calls on some fab beauty bits too. On to the faves...


Favourites


  • First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads: I've seen a lot of talk of these over recent months, and since I had a small tub that I got in a Sephora set earlier in the year, I decided to start trying them out at the end of last month. They are individual circular pads soaked in a gently (acid) exfoliating solution. I sweep this over my face after cleansing and before moisturiser in the evenings and I really do find my complexion to be clearer and brighter come morning. It's similar in concept to the likes of other gentle chemical exfoliants like the Pixi Glow Tonic, but I find these to be more effective, and still gentle enough to use once a day.
  • Philosophy Eggnog showergel: This one more or less speaks for itself. For me, the Philosophy shower gels are all about their scents. The formula is basic - not terrible, nothing groundbreaking, but the scents are fab. Given that, they're a bit overpriced for regular use, but I found a few at TK Maxx with holiday scents and the first one I've given a go is 'Eggnog'. And it smells exactly like eggnog. I'm especially missing my beloved holiday drink since I can't find it in the UK, so using this each morning is a festive nod to Christmas at home, and I'm obsessed.
  • Benefit Hervana: Since my spending in December is devoted to gifting, I did a bit of 'shopping my stash' action, and this is one of the oldies that I pulled out. It's a light slightly peachy, warm pink in a matte formula. I would reserve this for fair/light skin tones only, or things may get a little chalky. But for me, it's a perfect colour to add a flush to cheeks without competing with bold eyes or lips that I tend to favour during the holidays. See it on my cheeks here.
  • Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey: Another result of shuffling through my reserves. I wouldn't vouch for the 'stain' in the title, but it is a lovely and super easy to apply and wear tinted balm crayon in a pretty rosy mauve shade. I've been keeping it in my handbag and wearing it most days. See what it looks like on.
  • Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Luxury Palette: I've been banging on about this all month, but I love it. I've been wearing it most days - all the colours are gorgeous. See my full thoughts on it and swatches here and on my eyes here, but in short it's one of my top two recommendations for Holiday 2014 releases.
  • Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum: A product I'm so surprised I love. I would have never chosen it for my combo skin, let alone ever think it would work for me or that I would love it. And yet here we find it in a favourites post. I've written my full thoughts on it here. Suffice to say it's full of good-for-your-skin oils and awakens my skin better than any other makeup product, without making it shiny or greasy, and can be used under or over makeup.

Fails


  • Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer: (not pictured) At the other end of the spectrum, is Hourglass's other primer, geared towards more oily skins. Now - this is a bit unfair. As a primer I actually really love this - it does work to keep my makeup lasting longer. But, it's the first product in a long time that I can identify as having broken out my skin, and does so repeatedly every time I use it. I blame the silicone, but if you're not sensitive it may be worth giving it a go.


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Party-ready eyes

My eyes are always my favourite part of makeup. It's the feature I tend to emphasise the most, and eye products are my favourite ones to buy. And even though I don't have big nights out very often anymore, the holiday season is an excellent excuse for bolder eye looks, and even *gasp* glitter (the gorgeous, sophisticated kind of course... I promise it exists). From shadow, to liner, to glitter, to mascara, to brows... check out my picks for party-ready eyes this season.


I feel a bit like a broken record, but ever since picking up my first Charlotte Tilbury Quad, I've had a yearning to chuck my whole eyeshadow collection and replace it just with these. The shades and formulas are absolutely lovely, the packing is compact, and I just don't seem to tire of them. It's not often I'm so content with a product or range of products, but these quads have seriously impressed me, so if you keep seeing them pop up on these pages - that's why!

The Holiday release - the Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Luxury palette on it's own makes for a killer metallic smoky eye. There's a silvery-taupe, a gorgeous bronze, a brow/inner corner highlight, and a satin black to darken and smoke however much you wish. My other CT pick is my original love, the Dolce Vita palette - mostly because the 'pop' colour is a gorgeous bronze glitter shade. The glitter particles are extremely fine and delicate, and bring a lovely sparkle to any eye look without any garish glitter or fallout. Just pat over your lid with a finger as a final step.

The other eye products I always seem to rely on for an eye-catching party look are the Giorgio Armani Eyes to kill intense pressed shadows. I absolutely love the formula of these and have about 5 of them. Yes, it's true that the L'Oreal Infallible shadows are essentially formula dupes, but the above two shades are just perfect for a holiday look. The first (#4 Pulp Fiction) is a metallic silver/gunmetal, and the second (#14 Antique Gold) is a gorgeous exactly that - antiqued gold. I think both of these shades bring a sultry edge to their 'bright silver' and 'yellow gold' counterparts. Both provide gorgeous lid shades for a metallic smoky eye that is perfect for any party or big night out.

With my picks of shadows covered, on to defining the lashline, lashes and brows. The perfect frame for your gorgeous metallic shadows. I'm not a huge eyeliner-wearer, and winged-out liner typically doesn't suit me (and I'm rubbish at it). But, the Koji Dolly Wink eyeliner pen that I picked up in Tokyo over the summer (but available here) is the best liner pen I've tried. The nib is super fine and controlled and product applies opaquely, so you don't need to go over an area (and perfect it) more than once. For my lower lash line and tight-lining I've been using the Anastasia Covet Waterproof liner in black on an almost daily basis - it's super black and stays in place. Simples. My mascara of choice, and perfect for dramatic lashes is the Bourjois Black Jack Volume Clubbing Mascara, and while it's typically too high maintenance, what better time than to use a separate product for your bottom lashes - the Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara has a teeny-tiny wand perfect for the job, and the formula will not budge or smudge.

Last but not least, there are a few options for brows. I recently went through my three favourites, but for a bold eye I'd pick the Anastasia Brow Wiz. Defining enough to match a bold eye, but not so OTT that you look angry or that your brows steal the attention.

Party eyes done and dusted.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate! I hope everyone enjoys a fun and safe holiday with family and friends.



Cat xx

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Reds

I love a good bold lip at any time of year, but festive season certainly calls out for them even more. Here are 5 reds that I can totally vouch for.



  • MAC Russian Red: A very bold, requires-guts, bold matte red lip. I'd recommend applying this with a lip liner and a lip brush. We're not in low-maintenance territory by any means. But, of all my collection, this is the most 'true' in your face classic hollywood red.
  • Hourglass Opaque Rouge Lip Stain in Icon: A rich, saturated, bold red, in a long-wearing liquid stain. This colour is eye catching and glamorous, but my one complaint with this formula is that it doesn't apply well over itself. So, it's best kept for a drinks evening than a full-on feasting affair, because re-application can be laborious. If you want the colour without the fuss, Hourglass do Icon in other lip liners and lipsticks, too.
  • YSL Glossy Stain in #10: A squarely festive true red, with a relatively long-wearing glossy finish. This is probably my 'most worn' bold red if you exclude the orangey-toned options.
  • MAC viva glam Cyndi: Not not-so-bold red lip. This is no longer available but I've mentioned before, it's one of my all-time favourite shades. It's far more wearable than a bright bold red, having a bit of a cherry colour to it. If your holiday party is casual and you don't want to look too done up, but you're still going for something red, then this is a nice option.
  • MAC Lady Danger: I love this colour and I think an orange-red is often easier to pull off than a true red. Would it be the first shade that came to my mind for a holiday party? Definitely not. But, I also think you need to choose reds with skintone in mind, and for those who don't suit more blue-based reds, this is a striking option.
Which red will you be wearing for Christmas Eve tonight!?

Monday, 22 December 2014

Brows 3 ways...

Brows may not provide the most exhilarating read, but after years giving them no attention whatsoever, I have, in the past year or so joined the crusade. Grooming, of course, but in terms of filling them in/keeping them in place? Nada. But, in the age of Cara Delevingne, we can all afford to give them a second look. They really do frame your face, and change your whole look, for better or worse! Here are the 3 products I use, depending on the day and look I'm going for.


Quick & Easy:
  • On a daily basis when I'm wearing casual makeup, I reach for the Maybelline Brow Drama Reshaping Brow Mascara. This is not the only product of its kind, but it does the trick for me, and it's accessible and affordable. It's essentially a tinted brow gel, which isn't new in concept, but there has been a recent wave of drugstore releases that were previously unavailable. If you need radical re-shaping this won't do the trick, but if you have reasonably thick and well groomed brows and just need to darken them up a bit, make them slightly more uniform, or keep them in place, a slick of this is perfect. The bulbous end of the wand picks up just the right amount of product and dispenses it naturally and without any mess. See my full review here.
Natural but defined:
  • For a more defined look without it being obvious that you've been attending to your brows with makeup, I reach for the Anastasia brow wiz - a dual ended pencil with a spoolie on one end and a very fine-nipped pencil on the other. This product is amazing. It allows for fine strokes, meaning it blends with real hair, whilst defining and filling in. If I want to emphasise a certain shape, or fill in gaps, or if I've gone a bit too long without a threading sesh, this is what I reach for. It elevates brows to what they should be - a frame for the rest of your face.
Bold and polished:
  • The Anastasia dip brow pomade is by far the boldest of the bunch. It's almost like a gel eyeliner but for brows, meaning you need to use a separate brush for application - I use the Anastasia #12 dual-ended brush for brows. There are multiple shades available to suit different complexions, but at least for me this one is reserved not only for big nights out, but for nights out where I specifically want a look with bold brows. I would warn that it is very easy to go over-the-top with this, so minimal product and a light hand are needed. It does let you completely makeover your brows and your look though, and this won't go unnoticed. Which can be a blessing or a curse.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The pre-party 'pamper'

Soaking in a bath is great for a relaxing Sunday, but there are other pre-party essentials that often feel more like chores than treats. I'm talking hair masks, face masks, exfoliating, shaving, nail-painting, the works. This post is devoted to those need-to-do-but-don't-feel-like-doing-before-the-party-tonight personal grooming necessities, and my recommendations to make them a little more pleasant.



  • Threading: Since moving to the UK I've started getting threaded again, and it really does make a massive difference. This is best a step completed a few days before the big event - My eyebrows tend to be fine, but sometimes my upper lip can get a little irritated immediately afterwards, so best to give it a few days for you skin to settle. 
  • Hair Mask: A hair mask is always a good bet for keeping locks looking their best, and an overnight mask means no time wasted waiting for it to work. I recently picked up the Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Overnight Ultimate Hair Healer from Boots, and will be my product of choice for my coming parties. I can't vouch for it quite yet but will update you if it turns out to be great. My other tried and true pick is the Philip Kingsley Elastisizer which I would highly highly recommend.
  • Face Mask: When I'm short on time and busy with everything that comes the holiday season, speed and results are key. Look no further than the Kate Somerville Exfolikate - a dark green slightly abrasive combo physical and chemical exfoliant/mask that smells of cloves and can be applied in the shower, massaged in, and left on skin for a couple minutes while you do the next bits. 2 minutes later you'll have bright, smooth and clarified skin. Magic.
  • Body Scrub: Whether you're getting your legs or arms out, it's nice to have smooth, exfoliated skin - especially with the drying tendencies of the cold weather. My scrub of choice is the Soap & Glory The Breakfast Scrub, mostly because it smells of maple syrup, and of course does the trick. 
  • Shaving: Even though things can get a bit overgrown in winter (a bit TMI, but is it just me?!) a proper shaving sesh is paramount before a party. My favourite product to shave with is the L'Occitane Amande Shower Oil, which smells lovely of marzipan whilst retaining a freshness, and has a good 'slip' to it. It's a great 3-in-1 product to clean skin, shave, and to moisturise, meaning there is no need to slather on a moisturiser afterwards. This means no greasy texture or scent will interfere with your party dress (for me, a lifesaver, because I really dislike the feeling of body creams under clothing). Photographed above is a little mini I have, but I've gone through 2-3 full size bottles of this, and will happily go through more.
  • Nails: Last but not least, is a good manicure. This can be as protracted as you wish, but one product I've fallen in love with over the past year is OPI's Nail Envy base coat, which keeps my natural nails strong and looking their best, despite the potentially stripping and drying effects of successive polish cycles.

Now for the fun stuff... picking your outfit and makeup!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Date night makeup ft. Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Palette

I wore this makeup a week or so ago for a date night out with Dean, and really liked it, so I posted a photo on Instagram. I thought in addition I'd show you what I used, because it includes the new Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel quad, as well as a few re-discoveries from my stash that I've become happily reacquainted with. It's fairly heavy on the eyes, and neutral and low maintenance on the lips - perfect for a date where eating, drinking and kissing are likely to ensue. Or, swap in a bold red lip and it would also make a killer look for a holiday party.

 

For base I started with 1 pump of my Burberry fresh glow along my cheekbones, for a luminosity boost. Next I applied my L'Oreal True Match Foundation (see my shade w. comparisons here) with a Real Techniques Buffing Brush. For slight correction under my eyes I used the peachy side of my Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in SC02, and then topped with my MUFE Full Cover Concealer to brighten the area. I also spot concealed with the yellow-er side of the Secret Camouflage.

For eyes, I applied the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze all over my lid as a base for my shadows. This bronzy-taupe really intensifies the pigment of the shadows I put over top, and makes them stay all night. For shadows I used the new Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel quad for Holiday 2014, placing the top-right taupe shade on the inner half of my lid, followed by the bronze shade on the outer half. I then placed a bit of the champagne shade under my brow, and blended the crease with the same bronzer I used on my face. Finally, I smudged some of the black shadow along my upper lashline for a slightly smokey look. Next, I filled in my brows with my Anastasia Brow Wiz, lined my waterline with my Anastasia Covet Waterproof eyeliner, and coated lashes with Bourjois Black Jack Volume Clubbing Mascara which featured in my November favourites.

To warm up my cheeks without competing with my eyes, I added a subtle sweep of the Soap & Glory Solar Powder bronzer which I really love - both the shade and finish are perfect. I've re-discovered Benefit Hervana blush over the past few weeks - it's a matte light slightly-warm pink shade that is great for adding life to the complexion without competing with bold eyes or lips. So, on the apples of my cheeks it went. Finally, with a light hand, I applied The Balm's Mary Lou-manizer to highlight my cheek bones.

On my lips went another old favourite that I had forgotten about - Revlon's Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey, a really pretty and super easy to apply and wear rosy-mauve shade. It's a great neutral for this time of year and while Dean may disagree, it's definitely on the kissable end of lip product proceedings, as its name promises.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Autumn empties

Though I do make a concerted effort to use up products (bar those that are terrible), given how excessive my stash is, it's still not too often that I finish things. That said, of course it's the case that the products I love and would happily continue using are precisely the ones that run out and require repurchasing. So I thought I'd make my 'empties' a seasonal (quarterly) feature so you can see what my thoughts are after the newness of a product has worn off.


Makeup

Bobbi Brown Corrector (Light Bisque)(not pictured): I rarely finish colour products, but base products are a different story. I've gone through probably 4 or 5 pots of this corrector, and I've been missing it dearly in the weeks since it ran out. A peachy-toned creamy concealer that corrects blue/purple circles under the eyes. For most normal people this would be an adequate concealer but my circles are particularly horrific so I use this under the next product.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla: This product requires no introduction - I've mentioned it countless times and it's my favourite concealer I've ever used. I've been scraping the sides of this one in desperation, but plan to buy a new one straight away. Great for under eyes and blemishes.

NARS Sheer Glow in Deauville: I've owned this since it first launched and whilst it's gone neglected for stretches of time, I was using this consistently throughout October and November and really fell in love with it. It has a luminous but not shiny finish, a medium coverage, and is surprisingly well-lasting on my combo-oily skin. I think anyone with combo-oily, combo-dry or normal skins would get on will with this one. I apply it with my Sigma angle topped kabuki and it's flawless whilst still being 'real' and not mask-like. And, Deauville is a great colour match for me. I have a tonne of foundations to 'get through' but would definitely consider repurchasing this one.

Skincare

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Face Cleanser: This was the second bottle I've finished, it having been my daily morning cleanser for the past year and a bit. This cleanser is thin, barely foaming, and contains clay. It keeps my skin balanced, but not stripped, and it does seem to help in keeping it clear in conjunction with my other skincare. It also effectively removes the remnants of mascara that may have been left on from the night before. I'm slightly tempted to try the Sarah Chapman Skinesis Rapid Radiance Cleanser next, but I still wholeheartedly recommend this product and would (and will) absolutely repurchase.

Rodial Dragon's Blood Sculpting Gel: This is my 3rd or 4th pot of this serum, which I've spoken about before. I'm a bit fuzzy on the active ingredients, but I do know that when I stop using it my skin looks worse, and when I resume it looks clearer and more vibrant. The packaging is also great - make sure once the pump runs out you twist the top off to get the remainder - this way you don't waste a drop of product! I've tried a few other products in the 'dragons blood' line and this is definitely my favourite. Highly recommended and will repurchase.

Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright: I did a full review of this one here, and I've been using it everyday since. It works great morning and night, including under makeup. A creamy and moisturising serum that effectively lightens pigmentation. And, in my opinion it's very affordable for such effective skincare. I've already bought a new tube.

Fragrance

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black: This made it into my favourites a couple months ago, and I've been wearing it pretty constantly through Autumn. It's warm and sexy without being too heavy or OTT - notes of violet, sandalwood and vanilla - yum. My one gripe is since the (cool) bottle is opaque, it came as a surprise when it ran out! I do really love this (and the white version as well) and would definitely consider repurchasing on my next trip to the US (or, if/when it launches in the UK).

Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede: This is the one anomaly of the lot - of course fragrances are personal and I know a lot of people love this one. But I was using it to use it up, really. I bought it on a whim when it first launched on a trip to London, knowing once I went back to Denmark I wouldn't be able to pick it up. And really from the start I regretted it. It's just far too floral for my tastes. It's girly without the sweetness, and the subtle suede doesn't do much for someone who appreciates the sexiness of deep woods. I've been layering it over Jo Malone Dark Amber and Ginger Lily, which I prefer, but overall I'm not sad to see it go!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas gift guide (aka things I'm obsessed with)

Pretty straight forward - my gift guide is a mix of things I own and absolutely love and cherish, and things I'm lusting after and would totally love to receive. With one exception, I've included no pre-selected gift sets, because even though they can be easy and economical, there's something about it that feels a bit unconsidered or commercial to me. It's also mostly non-beauty. I feel like anyone beauty-obsessed like me is best suited to do their own shopping, and those non-beauty-obsessives in my life would probably much prefer to receive something else. This is meant more to inspire ideas than as a shopping list, but make of it what you will! So without further ado....


Photo set 1:


  • Royal Copenhagen Contrast Mugs: I was introduced to these mugs while I was living in Copenhagen and despite preferring neutral and understated modern decor, the Scandis do pops of colour very well. These ceramic mugs have brightly coloured silicone for style and to insulate from heat, and come in about 20 colours. And, they're meant to mix and match the colours so even if you can only afford to gift one or 2, the recipient can add to their collection over time. They are what Dean and I drink our coffee out of each morning.
  • Byredo Parfums Bal d'Afrique: I own Byredo Gypsy Water but this scent will be my next purchase. The gift idea though, is really a more boutique-brand fragrance that is beautifully packaged and less well known. I particularly like Byredo because the product design is just as noteworthy as the gorgeous scents.
  • Lomography Diana Mini La Vie en Rose edition: This won't be everyone's cup of tea, but an old-school toy film camera is something I got for Christmas a few years ago and I really love it. You can experiment with different kinds of film, play around with multiple exposures, and create instagram-like photos with the mystique and materiality (and patience) that only comes with film.
  • Marshall Monitor headphones: I bought these earlier in the year and they are fabulous. They are over-the-hear, can fold up, you can switch the side of the cord, and change the nature of the sound. They aren't cheap but I prefer the sound to the likes of other similarly high-end brands and they look super cool too.

Photo set 2:


  • Nuuna 'For my eyes only' L Notebook: I love a good bit of stationary, and when adopting a new commitment to journaling, this was my notebook of choice. I found mine at paperchase - it has a flexible but sturdy cover, nice quality paper, and comes in a range of really cool designs.
  • A.P.C. Half Moon bag in Navy Saffiano leather: I've been lusting over this handbag for months - it's expensive enough to be an investment but not crazy luxury. I just think the shape and style is very classic and versatile, and it won't be something you see everywhere. Unfortunately when I went searching for the link it seems to be sold out most places :-/ As a gift idea more broadly though, I think a thoughtfully selected handbag is a brilliant gift. 
  • Marble Basics big basic round tray: I follow this Australian brand on Instagram and love their simple marble homewares. You can find similar things from Danish design house Hay as well (and I'm sure elsewhere). A gorgeous piece that will match a range of styles, it's hefty and something not everyone would think to buy for themselves, which in my opinion, is one hallmark of a great gift.
  • Glerups felted wool slippers: These Danish slippers may not look like much, but they're hand-sewn and made of 100% felted wool with a suede bottom that wears beautifully overtime. My daily ritual since buying these shortly after moving to Denmark nearly 2 years ago, is that I immediately slip them on as soon as I get home. I've even begun travelling with them! They are so warm and comfy I have vowed to always own a pair. I bought my parents each a pair for Christmas last year after they each commented on mine when visiting Copenhagen.
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette: A makeup item that I swear by, is beautifully packaged, festive, convenient, and not commercially well-known by non-beauty addicts. I've been using mine nearly everyday since picking it up last month. See my full thoughts on it here.
  • Jo Malone Travel Candle Collection: I included this set because it is beautifully packaged, luxury, and I absolutely adore all 3 included scents (which doesn't often happen with pre-prepared sets!). Pomegranate Noir is a classic of the brand and rightfully so, Pine and Eucalyptus is perfectly seasonal, and Incense and Embers is one I've been lusting after. I would absolutely love to be on the receiving end of this trio.

Photo set 3:


  • Alessi Girotondo Boy Round Tray: My mother in law owns this and I loved it so much Dean bought it for me as a gift a number of years ago too. It still holds a central location in our living area - I absolutely love it. I love Alessi designs more broadly too, especially their S/S homewares, which also make amazing gifts for weddings.
  • Oskia Rose de Mai Massage Candle: This one is great to gift to someone in a relationship, or as a host/hostess gift, because as the candle burns, the 'wax' turns into a very lovely rose-scented massage oil. So, they get the luxury of a high end candle, but it's also something that can be enjoyed as a couple once all the guests have left!
  • Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash and Hand Balm: A gorgeous luxury set from a Melbourne-born brand I absolutely love to support. We sprung to buy these for our guest bathroom where it is most on display, but since it is a pricey luxury to buy for yourself, it makes an amazing gift, and the products are lovely and would suit most tastes.
  • Vita Fede Titan Plain Crystal Band Ring: This ring or any of the other pieces from this beautiful jewellery line. I am yet to own a piece from this designer, but I have fallen in love with a few, and would be blown away to receive one. The pieces are really nice but wearable enough to be able to wear on a regular basis.

Photo set 4:


  • Marshall Stanmore speaker in Cream Leather: Dean bought this for the house last year and it looks the perfect mix of contemporary and vintage - I love that it functions as a brilliant sound system and a design piece in one. An obvious nod to the Marshall amps, this is an at-home speaker that we plug into an iPad (and use Spotify) but also works over bluetooth. Comes in a range of colours.
  • Vintage or handmade bits from Etsy: Top of my wishlist this year is a vintage brass pineapple, but my recommendation is really one-off vintage pieces or handmade items from Etsy. I think it's the perfect way to get something unique and that shows you've put a lot of consideration into who you're buying for. Anything from homewares, vintage bar tools, dresser organizers, or personalised jewellery, I think Etsy is an excellent gifting resource all year round.
  • Warm PJs: I don't have any particular set in mind, but PJs are such a Christmas gift to me. I used to get a pair every year growing up. Warm, cozy, seasonal, and the perfect thing to lounge around in during the days at home between Christmas and New Years.
  • Nixon 42-20 Chrono Watch in Tortoise: I've had this watch saved in my 'hearts' on Shopbop for probably a couple years (!!). I bought Dean a watch from this brand for Christmas 2 years ago and he's worn it everyday since, and frequently gets compliments on it. They are well-made with great customer service and eye-catching semi-industrial looking designs, though they have more streamlined pieces too. Watches in general I think make great gifts.

Photo set 5:


  • Alexander Wang cashmere endless scarf: This one may look a bit basic, but I bought this scarf for myself 3 years ago and it's still by go-to standby every winter. I wear it most days - it goes with absolutely everything, from super casual to dressed up, and it can be worn over your head if you're especially freezing. It's super soft and warm and doesn't show any sighs of wear. Exactly the kind of piece that is worth investing in. (link is to their current rendition).
  • RABLABS Kiva Platter: I discovered this brand through Shopbop's gift guide last year, and while it's quite pricey, I think these platters are just absolutely gorgeous. I'm not a fan of the whole collection, but the neutral stones with silver edge plating I just find very striking.
  • 3.1 Phillip Lim Mini Pashli Messenger: Another one on my wishlist! I love the Pashli line, but this shape is slightly less 'done'. They've released a bunch of really cool colours and understated metallics this season, which is competing with the black and brass number I've been contemplating for a while.
  • The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander: My favourite cookbook of all time (see a full review I wrote here). In general though, a lot of new cookbooks tend to release in the lead-up to Christmas and it's when Dean and I tend to buy most of our new additions. Come boxing day there are sure to be a few cheeky purchases. Endless entertainment for anyone who loves to cook!

Not Pictured:

  • An experience: I think we often get caught up in buying 'things' but an experience that will create lasting memories can often be really nice. Whether it's a trip, tickets to a show, a spa treatment, or similar. depending on the recipients interests. My parents are flying into Manchester from New York for Christmas this year, and since they haven't been to the UK since the 80s and have limited luggage space, I booked my mom and I in for a high-end and very British champagne afternoon tea for a girly day since we see each other so infrequently, and I know she'll cherish it way more than anything material.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Review: Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum & Lip Treatment Oil

Probably the two most unlikely purchases to have made it onto my blog. An oil-based luxury lip balm and a hydrating anti-aging primer. Who am I? A girl who was eager to pick up the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette and too shy/spendy (pick your poison) when dealing with salespeople... that's who. Sigh. This was a very expensive ad-hoc purchase made at Liberty's in London, with no prior research to provide peace of mind. So what it worth it?


Well, I'll start by describing how these were sold to me! I had taken the train from Manchester to London and was spending the day being nomadic with my luggage in tow, until Dean finished with his work conference and we could check-in to the hotel. So, by the time I entered Liberty's over 12 hours after getting ready in the morning, it's fair to say my makeup was worn, I looked tired, and my skin looked uncharacteristically parched. The lovely MUA helping me with the blush palette was certainly putting on a hard sell which I tried my best to resist, but he was lovely, I was killing time, we had a good chat, yada yada yada. Typically, I never ever trial makeup on my face at counters. Probably for this exact reason - I'm definitely someone who begins to feel I owe it to them to purchase something! Am I the only one?

Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum: First, he suggested patting this primer into my skin - over makeup - as a sort of 'refresher'. It's a product I would have never in a million years chosen for my combo-oily, prone to shine, skin. I rarely use primers but when I do I'm usually trying to mattify my skin, not hydrate it. And anti-aging? In a makeup step? It all seemed very misplaced for my age and skin type. But, on this particular occasion my skin looked like crap, and he explained that the founder of Hourglass developed this to refresh her complexion after stepping off a long-haul flight. We've all been there. So, pat on my skin he did, and the results were miraculous. Despite my makeup having mostly worn off, my skin had a restored vibrancy, a lovely natural glow, it looked... healthy, hydrated, supple. I couldn't stop looking in the mirror at the counter. I was expecting the worst and got the best. Crazy. Later that night after dinner, and without any further touchups, I asked Dean if I looked greasy (expecting the obvious answer) and he assured me I didn't at all. Good thing, because I had already caved and bought it earlier that afternoon.

The 28 refers to the ingredient list - 14 essential oils, 10 lipid-rich plant oils, and 4 vitamins = 28. It's a light dual-purpose hydrating skin treatment and primer for makeup, which is actually lovely - the idea that your makeup is actually benefiting your skin is something I'm definitely on board with. I've been wearing it everyday since I got it, mostly under rather than over makeup, and only with a very light moisturiser underneath (or just this). I need only a tiny bit. I pat it into my skin, apply foundation on top, and my makeup lasts well throughout the day - I'm not sure I would buy it for this reason alone, but it definitely doesn't hurt. It has been excellent to keep my skin looking 'alive' throughout the day, not oily or greasy, but definitely not dehydrated either. It feels comfortable going on, luxurious, even. Dare I say I really actually like it.

I think it's especially perfect for this time of year. And, interestingly, whereas I would typically think to powder my face mid-day, this was a totally different kind of refresher that really had me doing double-takes. For this reason I think it would be especially good for those ladies with dry skin, to revive the complexion throughout the day.

Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil: Containing the same 28 beneficial ingredients plus 3 active ingredients, this is a similarly luxurious hydrating and conditioning lip treatment. The applicator is plated in 24-karat gold which I was told provided smooth and more hygienic application (though it seems a bit unnecessary/lavish to me). There is a pump that pushes product onto the applicator - no hands or mess involved. Certainly, having a balm not in a pot is a benefit for when you're out and about. I must say though, I'm not nearly as blown away by this as the serum.

First, it's not you, it's me. I'm not one of these obsessive lip balm junkies. I apply my By Terry Baume de Rose on nights I remember, and that's my lips done. So, you could argue I'm not the right person to be evaluating this product. But what do I have to say? Applied lightly it provides a nice finish to the lips (I think Men may even be able to get away with it, since it not 'balmy'). I wouldn't choose it as the best base for lipstick, since things can tend to get a bit slippy around the lip line. It feels hydrating while it's on but wears away and leaves my lips feeling almost a bit dry (I'll note that the MUA explicitly said this was not a product that creates that 'need to apply' cycle - in my opinion, he's wrong.). Applied more thickly, things get a bit goopy - fine for overnight but not a look I'd want to sport in public. It feels more nourishing this way, but it doesn't feel like it stays in place. It doesn't last as long as my By Terry so it would never win the status of my chosen overnight treatment. And if that relegates it to daytime use, I don't love that it's full of oils. I know this is its pièce de résistance but I find when I have oils around my mouth, whether it's this or something I eat, it makes my whole face feel greasy. Maybe I'm weird. Fair enough. But for me it's not worth the small fortune I spent on it. You win some, you lose some.

Friday, 5 December 2014

My two must-haves from Holiday 2014

There is no doubt that my favourite time of year for makeup launches is the holiday season. I absolutely love the cheer and festivities surrounding Christmas and New Years, and with the celebrations comes a license to go a bit bolder, a bit more glam, and a bit more eye-catching with your makeup. That said, I'm pretty sure the legend of the 'party season' exceeds its actual demands on one's beauty regime (or is that just me?!), so I also want to make sure products I buy now are ones I'll continue to use and love. Enter these two absolutely fabulous launches for Holiday 2014 - the Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Luxury Palette and the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette. To. Die. For.


With the vast majority of my funds happily going towards gifts for others (it's all about the giving, people!), I've been especially discerning about the bits I pick up for myself this season, and with the number of holiday releases, sorting through the noise is not always an easy feat. I highly highly recommend both of these products - they are top class in their categories, and both are packaged beautifully (i.e. with a sophisticated nod to the season without being tacky, gimmicky or over the top), making lovely gifts.

Charlotte Tilbury Fallen Angel Luxury Palette: After falling head over heels for my Dolce Vita palette, I was thrilled to see the launch of this new quad in shades that are right up my alley. A gorgeous shimmery bone colour, a metallic silver taupe, a rich bronze, and a very pigmented black. The formula is different from the original palettes, and is meant to be used wet or dry (swatches above are dry). I find them just as buttery smooth and pigmented as my other Charlotte Tilbury shadows, so you won't be disappointed. One could easily say these shades are 'dupable' but the superiority of the formula combined with having them conveniently together is a win for me. Not to mention, if I'm investing in a luxury palette I want the shades to be ones that will get a good run. I've found this surprisingly versatile - the lightest shade is a gorgeous brow highlight, and depending on what I'm going for I can achieve looks ranging from a subtle pretty day time look, a taupey-bronzy sultry look with the black forming a cat eye, or a full-on smokey eye. There can be very minor fall out during application (but never afterward), which would be my only equally minor criticism. Can you tell I love it?

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette: I was counting down the days until this turned up in stores and despite a big crescendo, my expectations have been exceeded. I've mentioned before that when I first got my Ambient Lighting Blush in Radiant Magenta I wasn't the biggest fan - the formula grew on me over time but I've now come to realise my beef is actually with the shade, which can veer a bit vibrant for my liking. However, after having tried the 3 shades in this trio I've fallen head over heels for this product. Left-most is Luminous Flush, an easy-to-wear midtone pink, followed by Incandescent Electra, a gorgeous highlight-y coral, and finally Mood Exposure, a plummy-neutral goes-with-everything shade that is also great as a contouring blush. Together, they really cover all the bases. The finish of these give the skin the most beautiful luminescence, and they last well throughout the day. The shades are each great on their own but also work combined/layered as well. I'm a huge fan of blush palettes, and until this year didn't think enough brands do them. But despite the relative choice now available on the market, this luxe option is definitely my top pick.

Neither of these products are cheap, and whether they are worth it will depend on your budget (and interest). While luxury products don't always justify their price points, these two are a case of 'you get what you pay for' - beautiful, well-executed products in sophisticated and functional packaging.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The perfect festive glitter

I'm a sucker for a good glitter, but this one is especially beautiful. Essie's Summit of Style is a gorgeous glitter polish released as part of the luxeffects collection for the holidays this year, and recently featured in my November Favourites. And I'm obsessed.


For what looks like it might just be a straightforward gold, it's surprisingly unique. A slightly rose-gold, bronzy, burnished antique gold. There's just something about this that feels so festive to me. There is a richness and warmth to the golden bronze that screams Christmas time, - warm, cozy, romantic but also glamorous, sophisticated, and elegant. I've been pairing it over Ciate's Dangerous Affair, a beautiful rich oxblood cream. A pairing I think may very well see me up to New Years. Love.

Monday, 1 December 2014

November Favourites

November was a pretty quiet month on these pages, largely because I've been in Denmark for work for 3 of the past 4 weeks, sans camera. The upside is that the things I had with me got a seriously good workout, and luckily I found a handful of products that have really impressed me.



Bourjois Black Jack Volume Clubbing Mascara: After a series of flops trying out alternatives to my beloved Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Mascara, this month found me land on this fab (and much more affordable) mascara from Bourjois. It's apparently meant for clubbing, which is extremely far from my locus of activity, but it is outstanding for dark black lashes with serious volume, and it applies easily. It doesn't clump, and leaves my lashes very voluminous but also separated, and it lasts well with no smudging or transferring, too. My one complaint is I have a hunch it is making my lashes a bit dry, in part because it's not the easiest to remove, but I haven't been the most diligent using a separate eye makeup remover, either.

Sigma F84 Angled Top Kabuki brush: I have had this brush for years, and as it was more or less forgotten, I left it in my mini selection of usable but less desirable products I store in Copenhagen and use when I'm travelling for work (I commute between the UK and Denmark!). I was there for most of the past month and as this was my only foundation brush I began using it out of necessity and ended up falling in love with it! I've now brought it back to the UK with me and have been using it every single day. A great shape for covering a large area efficiently, but also getting in and around the eyes. It's a fairly dense synthetic brush, great for a fuller-coverage.

CO LAB dry shampoo in Rio: A recently released dry shampoo by blogger and youtuber Ruth Crilly from A Model Recommends. This is obviously doing the rounds in the blogging community, but I picked it up on my own accord and I have to say that it actually does live up to all the recent buzz. It has an (actually) invisible formula that on my fine hair is super volumizing but also very lightweight. Best of all, it does not give me that disgusting gunky buildup feeling that has you yearning to wash your hair immediately. In fact, I've been using it on second, and then third day hair and it deceivingly fresh. I have the Rio tropical scent and it's lovely.

Burberry Fresh Glow Nude Radiance No. 01: Described as a 'Luminous fluid base' this is not a product I would typically go for, since I'm usually attempting to tone down the 'glow' on my combo skin. But, I was hearing good things right about the time I spotted it in TKMaxx for a fraction of the RRP, so it came home with me. And, I've really been loving it! It is very subtle, and dries down without feeling like another heavy layer on my face, which is ultra important to me. I've been using it on my cheekbones under foundation, or on particularly dull skin days mixing a pump in with my foundation and it's great for slightly lifting the complexion on dehydrated autumn skin.

Essie summit of style: A fabulous glitter polish perfect for the holiday season. It's a slightly coppery, bronzed, burnished, vintage gold sort of shade. I've been wearing it over an oxblood red and it's the most beautiful festive combination. Full post coming soon. (note: the promo image in the link above does NOT do this shade justice!!)

Rituals Foaming Shower Gel in Yogi Flow (not pictured): I got this as a GWP in Copenhagen and used it every day I was away. It's the texture of a gel-to-foam shaving cream which has the benefit of not rinsing down the drain quite as quickly as a typical gel. The scent was absolutely amazing, and my main reason for loving this. It also left my skin scented for far longer than any other shower gel in memory which is a huge win in my book.

Lush Luxury Lush Pud bath bomb (not pictured): I picked this up in my lush haul, and finally used it this past week. And oh-em-gee. My bathwater was a cute multicoloured rainbow (when I texted a photo to Dean he thought it was a painting!) that settled to a pink-purple. The scent was unbelievably good and perfumed the apartment, and my skin for a good long while after the bath (24+ hours). By far my favourite bath bomb I've tried so far. It's limited for Christmas so go get one if you're interested!

I feel a bit like I hit a goldmine this month - it's not so often I encounter so many new products I love. What caught your fancy in November??