Friday, 31 July 2015

Matchy matchy skincare ft. Verso

I'm not typically one for matchy-matchy skincare, but something about the simplicity of this numbered and aesthetically gorgeous retinol-based lineup by Verso really appealed to me. After trying so many products a simple no-fuss sequence that 'does it all' is surprisingly refreshing. Of course, the proof is in the pudding, so what do I think?

I've delayed writing this review for a couple months now, because when I first started using this line we had an abrupt family tragedy which caused a significant amount of stress, and the seasons were changing. My skin went from relatively smooth and clear to pretty angry, but given the circumstances I thought it unfair to 'blame' these products. I've now given it about 2.5 months and feel I can write a fairer review.

There are 6 products in total, I have 1-5. The sixth is their dark spot corrector which I'm yet to try. All the products in the line are based on a proprietary compound called 'retinol 8' which is meant to be a more concentrated but less irritating and less drying version of retinol. I must say that this is definitely true - I've noticed very good benefits in terms of hydration and fine lines, and have not experienced any problems with dryness, irritation or flaking which many retinols are known for. The packaging is perfect - it looks nice and minimal, it's lightweight, and the pumps dispense exactly the amount of each product that you would want to use. That said, for me, not all products stack up equally so here is the run-down:

  1. Foaming Cleanser: Now I know for a lot of readers the word 'foaming' will immediately put you off. I think it's a bit of a misnomer - this cleanser is more creamy and in my experience really doesn't foam at all. It does have a lighter texture than a heavy cream cleanser, though. Nonetheless, it is my least favourite product of the lot. It's basic - it smells fairly neutral, it seems to clean my skin, though it is not good around the eye area. I think those with combo or drier skins will find it too 'squeaky'. For me, my skin just hasn't been the same - I had been using clay based cleansers for 1-2 years (the Sunday Riley and then the Sarah Chapman) and since switching I've had way more problems with keeping hormonal acne at bay. For the price it's a bit of a 'blah' product, and I'll definitely be going back to something clay-based.
  2. Day Cream: At the other end of the spectrum, this product I absolutely love. It has done wonders for keeping my skin hydrated during the day without ever making it shiny or greasy. It's a magical formula for underneath makeup, which continues looking fresh throughout the day. No lines or crepey undereyes here. I had worried that it would be too heavy for my combo skin but not so. I think it would work well on a range of skins and more or less for the entire year. This is a standout product for me because I think when you come across effective skincare that also improves the look of your makeup, you're onto a winner!!
  3. Night Cream: I don't have much of an opinion of this night cream in isolation. It's lovely - it feels nourishing on the skin without feeling heavy or suffocating. The texture is of a typical cream - it seems to sink in well and keep my skin hydrated through morning. I've been using it as part of a nightime routine with the following 2 products and together they get a thumbs up.
  4. Super Facial Serum: This is called a 'serum' because it has a higher retinol concentration, but the texture is actually much more like a typical cream. It's definitely not what I think of when I think 'serum'. That said, I put this on cleansed skin and then top it with the night cream and together I feel like I'm getting a lot of 'good for your skin' ingredients and a dose of hydration. I don't have any wrinkles but had begun to show a few 'fine lines' and actually since using this product these have become much less of a concern, especially my smile lines :)
  5. Super Eye Serum: This is my second 'top pick' of the lineup. Unlike the facial serum, this stuff feels very concentrated. I think if you have particularly sensitive skin or eyes this is a no-go. It feels a bit burny on my skin when first applied in a warming way, but doesn't cause any visible irritation. I have noticed a huge difference in my eye area since using this - it is hydrated and stays this way throughout the day, it's smooth and any and all fine lines have disappeared. I really feel like this is a rockstar product for anti-ageing benefits in this notoriously susceptible area.
Overall it's a bit of a weird one! The cleanser I don't think I'll be buying again. The day cream I definitely will, as with the Super Eye Serum. The other nighttime products - the Super Facial Serum and Night Cream - feel more benign and less 'special' as you use them, but the overall effect on my skin has been noticeable over a period of time. My skin feels more balanced, hydrated and definitely more plump, with fewer visible fine lines. I think combined with a few more specialty products that get thrown in here and there when needed- masks, an oil, etc. - this line forms a really solid core skincare regimen that is simple (in the sense of not needing to think about it too much!) but also very effective.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The luxury want list

With a few hauls posted lately, I must say that I'm rather content on the purchasing front. That said, I'm already sort of hanging for Autumn... Manchester has been cold and overcast for days, so with the weather feeling like October, I at least want the gorgeous beauty and fashion to match! Here is my very premature wishlist of-the-moment, emphasis on wish. *insert heart-eyed emoji* 

  • Tom Ford Skin Illuminating Powder duo: I've never tried anything from Tom Ford Beauty... like I mentioned in my recent Burberry Haul, I've just found it difficult to narrow down the standouts and actually take the plunge. With that said, this duo just looks absolutely stunning. Do I need more highlighters? A resounding no. But they are just so swoon-worthy. I suspect I'll be at Selfridges picking up this bad boy as soon as it hits shelves in early August. Sorry not sorry.
  • Miu Miu Cap Toe Sneakers in black: You would think after just posting about these in silver I would be set for a while. But indeed it's the opposite - I've so totally fallen for them that I want them in more colours, and the black is the perfect everyday, casual, far-less-of-a-statement option. Cue the obsessive search for a good price.
  • Aerin Amber Musk EDP: This one isn't really up for question. I've gone through a sample of it and it's just as ridiculously amazing as everyone has been saying. A warm, amber-musk-coconut-rose-benzoin scent that will be heavenly for Autumn and Winter. If you want to save a few quid buy it from my go-to, Parfuma.
  • YSL Lipstick Print Monogram Wallet: This one puts the wish in wish-list because I most likely will not spend this much on a wallet I don't need. I'm tempted. But I probably won't succumb. Nonetheless, I thought given this is a mostly-makeup blog I should just point out this awesome gem. I would never want a bag with such a cutesy print, but a wallet? I mean... If money was no object I would have hit 'add to bag' without a second thought. My only slight peeve is I would have preferred it with the more modern and petite 'saint laurent' insignia rather than the big logo plate.
  • Stuart Weitzman Sprite booties in 'taupe':  I spotted these while in Selfridges the other week and in person they just really called out to me! The khaki/taupe colour is gorgeous - neutral without being black. They have a hidden wedge, the most beautiful suede, and a really effortless slouch. If I splurge on an addition to my boot lineup this Autumn, these will be it.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Can't have too much of a good thing! The Body Shop Smoky Poppy

You'd be forgiven for thinking this photo was taken in a shop. But, nope. I have indeed purchased 7 of these in one go. It's almost comical.

Credit is owed to Dean on this one. We ran out of body wash while I was in Copenhagen a couple months ago and he was tasked with picking out a new one in my absence. We're both massive fans of Korres, but something lured him into The Body Shop on this occasion, and he came out with a shower gel in 'Smoky Poppy'.

The boy done good. Most people think of poppy as fairly benign but it does indeed have a taste and this corresponding scent is a smoky, powdery, slightly sweet but not at all fruity version of poppy! It is certainly one of the more masculine scents that The Body Shop does but not so much so that it's not thoroughly unisex. I love it! The gel is more or less a dark grey/black which is weird but fun. The scent is strong in a good way - it fills the bathroom and nicely scents your skin. We've gone through two already, so when body shop was running their sale a few weekends back with an extra 40% off, we decided to stock up! I think I got all 7 of these for about 10 pounds which is completely ridiculous. And, I decided to throw in a matching scrub for good measure. If it's not broken, why fix it?!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

10 seasonal bits I'm absolutely loving

This is not a comprehensive list of summer bits, nor a selection of holiday must-haves. I'm in Manchester and if the cosmos are being generous, it pushes 18 degrees with a few hours of sun at best. That said, of course there are certain products I tend towards in the warmer months, and these are 10 that I've absolutely been loving or been impressed with lately.

  1. Nars Larger than life long-wear eyeliner in Barrow Street: I'm all about the neutral eye looks, but a bit of colour here an there never killed anyone, especially in summer. This matte mint green brightens the eyes in a slightly unexpected but very summery way. The formula is smooth and indeed long wearing, and works on the waterline or the lashline. A fave for two years running!
  2. Estee Lauder Double Wear stay-in-place eye pencil in 09 Electric Cobalt: In a similar vein, I've been wearing this bright metallic cobalt liner too. Something about a bronzy eye and a blue liner screams summer to me, and this rendition is basically flawless. Brighter and more saturated than other 'similar' blues I've tried.
  3. Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder: I've spoken about this before on the blog, but it is by far and away the best face powder I've used. I can use this over any base and it looks flawless (never powdery) and keeps my face looking satin and and fresh all day long.
  4. L'Oreal Makeup Extender Setting Spray: After years of thinking it is more or less an unnecessary step, I've begun religiously using setting spray this summer. This one is the best I've tried and I really do find that it extends the wear of my base, regardless of which foundation I'm wearing. Combined with the Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder it's an impervious combo!
  5. Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Marie Antoinette: You would have seen me make this recent purchase in my Charlotte Tilbury x Norman Parkinson haul, but it's quickly become a much loved product. The formula is thin and light, sheers out and blends flawlessly, never gets cakey or crepey, and dries down to a long lasting finish. I love both that I purchased but this taupey-bronzey shade in particular has been a daily staple.
  6. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipstick in Miss Kensington: Another purchase from the same haul, this shade is THE perfect retro peach/pink nude. It brings to mind driving a vintage car down an Italian coastline, with huge white sunnies sporting this lipstick. Sounds crazy but with bronzed skin and eyes, the matte formula is just so chic. (nb: the colour does not appear true in the photo above! If you go to my haul I have much more accurate swatches!)
  7. St Tropez Instant Tan: Speaking of bronze, I've been absolutely loving this wash-off offering from St Tropez. I'm not a big one for fake tan - I'm super pale and actually kind of like it (it suits me!). The exception of course is my pastey legs and this does a treat to make them look slightly less blinding without any faff or maintenance. It claims to be water & transfer resistant and it actually is! It dries down without any tackiness and didn't rinse off in the shower until I actually scrubbed up with body wash the following morning.
  8. Essie nail polish in Chillato: One that made my June faves, this shade is just quintessential summer. A whited out chartreuse green. Nuff said
  9. Byredo Bal d'Afrique EDP: I wrote about this more extensively here, but it's become one of my two go-to scents this summer. It smells super super clean, and in my opinion there is nothing better than that on a hot sticky day. Lasting power is also ace!
  10. Lubin Gin Fizz EDT: Last but certainly not least is this gorgeous gem. It's no secret my summer drink of choice is a Gin & Tonic, and all my favourite cocktails are gin-based. I had been contemplating this purchase for literally months but since I had no way of smelling it in person I hesitated for ages. It is addictive and stunning, fresh, spritely, glamourous, and yet reserved. It was originally launched in 1955, inspired by Grace Kelly, and really does embody a sense of American sophistication found only in a Paris cocktail bar around that time. A gorgeous bottle, a gorgeous scent, and a new favourite.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Fashion spotlight: Miu Miu cap-toe sneakers

After months of um-ing and ah-ing, and then going on a wild goose chase trying to find my size, these babies are finally mine!! I first mentioned them all the way back in early May! Rarely have I put so much effort into tracking something down, but these shoes are what heart-eyed emojis are made of!

Can we all just take a minute? These pointed-toe sneakers have become a bit of a thing, with a number of celebs spotted wearing the black and white versions, and cheaper brands on asos now making replicas. I'm certainly not one for 'it' items, but the shape and style of these fit seamlessly with my style, so when I saw the silver I immediately started saving so they could be mine!

As many readers know, my wardrobe is pretty monochrome, and slightly scandi. I stick to neutral colours, solid but very well-cut pieces, love skinny black jeans and oversized tops and cardigans, and mainly rely on accessories - shoes, bags and jewelery - to mix things up. I do a lot of walking and very rarely wear heels. I'm all for a casual, effortless but stylish look. So... flat sneakers, chic pointed metal cap toe, metallic eye-catching but still somehow neutral leather?! I mean.... It was love at first sight.

They are gorgeous and everything I wanted. They have quickly become a cherished and very special item in my wardrobe. They are slightly narrow and have taken 1-2 wears to break in, but overall are comfortable and true-to-size. I can see myself getting the black version for Autumn and wearing them every single day.

These are not cheap and certainly part of the hesitation was about whether I could justify spending so much on shoes. But by the time I made up my mind my size was impossible to track down. I ended up getting a size too big, returning them, etc. etc. They are also markedly cheaper in mainland Europe than the UK so I had them sent to my work in Denmark, only to have the wrong size! Anyway, sometimes patience and persistence are rewarded because in the end I found my true size on sale at an italian retailer and ended up saving 180 pounds off of the UK retail price! Score. You can find them here.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The monochrome taupe eye

You know when you get into the groove of things and you start rocking the same look everyday? Not because you're in a 'rut', just because you love it so. damn. much. Yup, that's what this post is about. Meet the 'monochrome taupe eye'.

So, we all know monochrome is the shiz. Typically within the beauty sphere it's used to described outfits or wardrobes limited to black, grey and white, but the term applies to anything comprising of varying tones of the same colour. All three of these colours look slightly different when swatched but on the eye they really appear the exact same just in different textures:

  • Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Marie Antoinette: This is a semi-sheer cream shadow that goes on super smooth and thin but then sets in place. I've been putting a thin layer of this all over my lid and then sheering it out all the way up to the brow bone. It gives a really sultry, summery, bronzy-taupe look to the eye.
  • L'OrealColor Riche L'Ombre Pure Shadow in Matte 106 Breaking Nude: A matte cool taupe brown shadow in the most buttery lovely texture. This blends so nicely into the crease without adding any shimmer or too-noticable warmth.
  • L'Oreal Infallible Eye Shadow in 890 Bronzed Taupe: A metallic pressed shadow in the same gorgeous taupe colour that tows the line between warm and cool. I use a Mac 239 to pat this on the centre of my lid just to give a bit of shine.
I'm obsessed with this eye look. It's so simple and basic. There is no partitioning and blending. No sophisticated use of colour. It looks sexy, worn in and effortless. It's been my go-to look for summer, with bronzed skin and a peachy nude lip. Perfection.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Summer empties

When it rains it pours! I always seem to run out of things at the same time. This installation of empties comprises a few familiar faces and a few bits that I'm mentioning for the first time.

  • La Roche-Posay Serozinc: I won't bang on about this, I've spoken about it so much already. A zinc-based toner that doesn't feel like it's doing much until you stop. Great for consistently clear skin and now much more widely accessible at Boots.
  • Kate Sommerville Goat Milk Cream: I've done a full review of this here. It's a nice gentle, soothing, no-fuss cream. If that's what you're after I have no complaints, but it's nothing groundbreaking for the price point and given how hard it is to get from the UK.
  • Alpha H Liquid Gold: A cult product and for good reason. This is in the old packaging which indicates just how long it has lasted me. A glycolic chemical exfoliant that you rub on at night with no other product and wake up to smoother, brighter, skin.
  • Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water: I don't know why I keep bothering with these new releases. This didn't do a great job of removing my eye-makeup and left me with clogged pores. It's cheap, but from now on I'm sticking to Bioderma, which remains the best no matter how many of the copies I try. If it's not broken...
  • Urban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray: Another one I've owned for yonks and used so sporadically I didn't have much of an opinion. I started using it a few weeks ago just to 'use it up' and actually do find it makes a difference. I've now started using the new L'Oreal setting spray as part of my daily routine, and while I would happily recommend the UD, I do think I prefer the L'Oreal overall.
  • Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom and Honey Cologne: A beautiful fresh, fruity summer perfume. This smells like the name but remains bright and refreshing - not gourmand or heady notes whatsoever. I've gone through 2 bottles of this and while I'll be taking a little break for now, it's definitely in my top few of the Jo Malone lineup.
  • Philip Kingsley Elasticizer: A pre-shampoo hair treatment that helps to smooth the hair shaft, strengthen, and reduce breakage. I find using hair masks to be a bit of a faff in general, but this one is really effective. I leave it overnight and wash it out in the morning. I've already re-purchased the large tub.
  • The Body Shop Honey Mania Body Scrub: Meh. This does not get a thumbs up. It smells lovely, and the texture reminds me of gelato. You can definitely tell there is honey - it has a smooth creaminess that is very unique. Unfortunately it is useless as a body scrub/exfoliant.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

In & Out #4

That one where I tell you all the things that have entered and exited my life for the time being. Round 4. Let's do 'dis.


  • At-home workouts: I haven't been to my gym since before Christmas, despite paying membership fees each month (ugh). But, I thought to get back into things I'd do a bit of at-home exercise. I've really been into Blogilates which is upbeat and allows me to go through routines I wouldn't do in public view! My pilates mat from Swedish brand Casall deserves a mention as well - It's much much thicker than a normal yoga mat so while it's not very portable, it does a much better job of protecting my hips, tailbone and spine from the hard floor. It's only been 2 weeks but I feel decidedly more energetic and Dean is convinced my butt is tighter (I'm not going to argue).
  • Beauty shopping: After many months of feeling more or less uninspired by makeup, and completely overlooking new releases, I've been on a total beauty binge as of late! I cleared things out a bit when I moved last month and I've also used up a tonne of products that have been hanging on for a while. In their place I've gotten a bunch of new bits from Burberry, Charlotte Tilbury, and a mix of Body, Hair and Fragrance. Next up is a Sephora cart I've had saved for ages and which I anticipate will be purchased on pay day ;)
  • That mascara look from the A/W Burberry show: This is such a weird one, but when Lily Pebbles did a tutorial of the Burberry show makeup look, she used a technique whereby there is a lot of thick and voluminous mascara at the base of the lashes and none on the tips. Most people would be completely put off by this. However, I have fairly long and thick lashes and a small eye space, so I often find my lashes steal the show from whatever shadows I have on my lids. This technique looks way more relaxed and laid back, not too 'try hard', a bit more grungy and effortless, and yet it still defines my lashline whilst also allowing my eyelids to show! I've been doing it most days for the past 1-2 months! crazy!
  • Fake tan: I'm not typically into tanning whatsoever. I am very pale and have come to terms with it, seeing no need in particular to go for a faux bronze. That said, something came over me in Boots the other week and I purchased not 1 but 2 tanning products. The first I'm yet to build up the courage to use - it's an actual self tanner, the St Tropez Express Tan. The other is a rinse off one that has taken the place of my beloved This Works Perfect Legs Skin Perfector. Whereas the latter is definitely more nourishing, I appreciate the complete dry down and longevity of the former. While I'm on the tanning bandwaging, I've also taken out my Clarins facial self-tanner again and begun using that as well. Who am I?!
  • Succulents & Cacti: Yes, I know. Succulents are all the rage. And I've now joined the hipsters and 14 year old instagrammers and added a few to my home. We moved flats last month and our place is very light and bright and the small pops of green really do change the feel of things without detracting from the clean lines and minimal decor.
  • Penguin Great Ideas series: I mentioned in my last In & Out that I wanted to make more of an effort to read. Now let's be clear - I'm a PhD student. I spend many of my waking hours reading and writing. But, I've largely neglected reading fiction for the past few years. I came across this little series in Waterstones by Penguin where each book is more or less a pamphlet - about 100 pages each - and each title contained within the series is considered to be world-changing, influential and inspirational. You would have heard of all the authors (Dickens, Orwell, and so so many others), but the books themselves are less well known or more abridged essays, speeches, etc. My goal is to read 1 per week for the entire year. 


  • Clutter: This one is mundane and a total no-brainer. As I mentioned we moved last month, and even though we're not nearing retirement (!!) we decided to 'downsize' in an effort to save and actually buy our own place soon. We've moved around a lot, and twice internationally, so I don't have too much junk hanging around, but nonetheless you'd be surprised how many things of minimal use end up travelling the world with you if you allow it the space. This time I've really appreciated the need to reduce the amount of things we have, get clever with storage solutions, and purge, donate and really pare down in every way possible things we don't need or use. The result is a smaller apartment that is even more spacious and minimal than our previous (larger) one.
  • Clearly my memory because I can't recall what else is 'out'!! lol!!

Friday, 17 July 2015

A foray into Burberry Beauty

How many hauls can I post in a 2 week period?! Geez. Anyway, with a single exception I've never tried anything from Burberry Beauty! Crazy, I know. It's not as though I haven't wanted to - it's a brand I've almost purchased so many times, but for some reason have found it difficult to pull the trigger. Until now.

L-R: Pale Barley Eyeshadow, Earthy Blush, Pink Heather Eye Colour Cream, English Rose Lipstick (natural/artificial light)
The first two bits I have wanted for a long time, the third is a new release, and the lipstick was thrown in for good measure. Here is what I picked up:

  • Eye Colour Silk in 102 Pale Barley: The cult favourite eyeshadow. I've never heard a bad thing about this. It reminds me a lot of Mac Patina and others have said as much. But, I just had to try the real deal. It's so often sold out that when I saw it online alongside these other bits I finally went for it.
  • Light Glow Blush in 07 Earthy: Admittedly a bit of a 'blah' shade in the pan. But, this kind of colour works so well to define the cheeks and add a bit of life whilst still being neutral. I'm yet to try it out but I'm thinking this is the less pink Tarte Exposed, and less warm-toned Nars Madly. Score.
  • Eye Colour Cream in 106 Pink Heather: These cream eyeshadows are a brand new release from Burberry, and since reviews of the formula have yet to really reach the web, I decided to stick with one shade. This was not easy - the range is gorgeous! This colour would typically not be my first choice - I always worry about looking bruised or wearing anything that will bring out the purple undertones of my dark circles. But, I just bought a taupe/bronze and a champagne from Charlotte Tilbury, and have a true chocolate-bronze in mind from Marc Jacobs, so I decided to go with this more unique and very Autumn appropriate rosy shade. It's got a bit of pink, purple and bronze in there so I'm hoping it'll make my blue eyes pop.
  • Burberry Kisses Lipstick in 17 English Rose: Lipsticks are always hard to purchase online but I liked the name and sort of figured you can't go wrong. It turns out to be a bit darker than I was hoping - it's almost the exact shade of my natural lips. An ideal 'my lips but better colour', I know I'll get a tonne of wear out of it even if it's less unique than I was hoping. I'm wearing it as I type and the formula is light, glossy and comfortable, so it gets a thumbs up from me!
Update: after playing with and swatching these formulas yesterday I *may* have had a few glasses of wine and used my Boots points online to order another Burberry blush and eyeshadow. Coming soon... #sorrynotsorry

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A much desired haul

Another day, another haul. Or so it feels. After a bit of a beauty-buying hiatus, I've been on a roll the past few weeks. Shockingly, this one has no makeup in it. (Don't worry... that's coming soon).

There are a lot of "maintenance" products in this haul - exfoliators, fake tan, a hair mask, a cuticle product. All things to keep me in tip-top shape through summer :)

  • Lubin Gin Fizz EDT: First up is the one I'm most excited about! I've had this perfume in my Cult Beauty basket for months but was hesitant to 'buy before I try'. I'm a lover of gin libations and consider the gin and tonic basically the essence of summer. So lemon, bergamot, juniper... in a perfume?! Sold!! It turns out to be every bit as fabulous as I expected. It's fresh, sophisticated, and glamorous in an understated way. It originally launched in 1955 as a homage to Grace Kelly and is very evocative of the American cocktail bars of Paris which were infamous around the time.
  • Mio Double Buff Dual Enzyme Exfoliator: I've been wanting to try Mio for a long time and this body scrub sounded great. It has a physical and chemical exfoliant - something I love for my face but have never tried on my body. I'm yet to try it out but fingers crossed. (A caveat - upon receiving the bottle I noticed it said to apply on dry skin and then rinse off in the shower... a total faff!!)
  • St Tropez Instant Tan in Light/Medium: This is a wash-off temporary tanning lotion and it's bloody brilliant. It dries down completely and doesn't transfer whatsoever. Not surprisingly then, it's highly water resistant too - it didn't rinse off in the shower until I used body wash. A subtle, healthy colour for when you want to wear bear your (bare) legs without blinding fellow humankind.
  • St Tropez Express Tan: This tan requires slightly more of a commitment, but application only takes 1-3 hours. Apparently, you put it on and depending on how dark you want it, wash it off within a couple of hours, after which the colour continues to develop. This is obviously the pre-cursor to the new in-shower version that only takes 3 minutes!! I'm a total newbie when it comes to fake tan - in part because I'm so pale I assume everything will make me orange. But, I've heard good things about this and at least it's fairly quick to maintain.
  • Philip Kingsley Elastisizer: I've mentioned this before, because it's fab. This is a repurchase for me. A pre-shampoo hair mask that increases the elasticity of the hair and therefore smooths and prevents breakage. I tend to leave it on overnight and my hair is noticeably more nourished come morning.
  • Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Nail Polish in 130 Rose Poudre: I most certainly do not need another colour like this but I've heard great things about this formula and wanted to give it a go. The colour is a really pretty and romantic muted mauve/rose that I know I'll get lots of wear out of. It reminds me of OPI's Tickle my Francey which is an all-time favourite. I just used it to paint my nails and while I can't yet talk to wear time, it was easy to apply and opaque in 2 coats.
  • Elegant Touch Nail Apothecary Cuticle Remover: I went into Boots for the Sally Hansen version of this which was nowhere to be found and so picked this up instead. I have no basis for comparison but this cuticle remover gel worked a treat! Would definitely recommend if you want a bit of help loosening and removing your cuticles for an extra manicured manicure.

Monday, 13 July 2015

The best beauty hack for breakouts

So this bit of genius arose totally by accident. Dean and I moved apartments this month, both within the same building, which meant moving basically entailed carrying things upstairs. We had an overlap of time where some of our things were in one place, and some in the other. And, nearing the end of this shenanigan, I found myself getting ready for bed, and realising that - oops - all my skincare was upstairs! So, lazy me, I quickly poked through Dean's toiletries to see if he had anything resembling a face cream that I could use as a one-off.

My only option was this baby - The Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post Shave Lotion, which Dean swears by on the rare occasion he decides to shave (ha ha, I kid... kind of). Now a bit of back story - my skin had been in shambles since about mid-May. A family emergency meant a quick trip to the mediterranean, heat and humidity included, plus a lot of stress and upset, and add in moving on top of things, I was struggling to get things under control. So anyway... I slapped this on without thinking about it. And come morning, had the clearest, least angry skin I had had in over a month!

I've since tried it a number of times to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and nope - this tube works wonderfully for irritated, angry, broken out skin. Retrospectively, it makes total sense. Post-shave products are designed to hydrate but also to calm - to make sure skin is clear and not clogged, to soothe, and to be anti-bacterial. Leave it to Aesop to do all of this with good-for-you ingredients.

I feel like so often the expectations of products exceed their efficacy, so coming across something like this totally by accident is extra satisfying. If your guy uses this I'd highly recommend snatching it for yourself. Or, as I will, you may want to go buy your own tube regardless!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Top 5: Summer bases

Getting my summer base right is like walking a tightrope. There's a fine line between glowy and sweaty, oil-absorbing and cakey, and on the handful of days that the sun shines in Manchester, you better bet I want my skin to look like skin... just better. These are my 5 picks for this time of year.

  1. Bourjois 123 Perfect: A new find this year, this foundation feels and looks luminous on the skin (obviously without any shimmer) but has surprisingly good coverage and lasting power. It is billed as 'colour correcting' and really lives up to the claim - Even though it is a light base it does a great job covering my dark circles so I can go easier on the concealer.
  2. Jouer Matte Moisture Tint: My go-to summer base. This product was the first I found to provide a lightweight feel, in a medium coverage, matte-effect summer base. This is billed as a matte tinted moisturiser (genius) but it may as well be a foundation. On me, it stays in place and looking matte/satin (and never shiny) through a whole summer day. A forever favourite.
  3. Hourglass Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint: Another new find this year. I've written a full review of this product here. Suffice to say that it definitely has more coverage than a 'tint', is moisturising, and melts beautifully into the skin (without ever melting off of skin!). A great option if you want a hydrating product that isn't going to be a slippy mess.
  4. L'Oreal 24 Hr Infallible Pro-Matte: Another new release this year. On me, this has a similar finish to the matte moisture tint, in a slightly less 'whipped' feeling formula. For me it's a winner because it's one of the very few foundations that doesn't smudge under the bridge of my glasses.
  5. Shiseido Sun Protection Liquid Foundation: I tend not to sport this unless I'm actually in a warm climate - like when I lived in Melbourne, or if I'm on holiday in Cyprus. It's SPF 43, has a super liquidy lightweight formula, and is waterproof!!! This sets in a way that lasts much longer than typical bases without any need to layer or get into cake territory. It's perfect for sweaty beach days or humid sticky city weather.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Haul & First impressions: Charlotte Tilbury X Norman Parkinson

Today I'm talking a mini haul and first impressions of some new bits I picked up from Charlotte Tilbury's new Norman Parkinson inspired retro 'collab' collection. The two lipsticks are new launches exclusively with this collection, the two eye bits are new-ish and included in some of the looks-in-a-box. There was a also a gorgeous highlighter but alas I have too many to have justified it, and an also-gorgeous cheek-and-lip tint. Def check it out!

L-R: 1975 Red, Miss Kensington, Norma Jean, Marie Antoinette [indoors/natural sunlight]

I've only heard good things about the Matte Revolution formula, so I couldn't wait to finally try it out. I was going for sexy sienna (which will one day be mine!) but when I popped into Selfridges and spotted these two new shades I simply couldn't choose and got both. The formula is indeed matte without being drying. And the rose gold packaging is utterly fab. So far so good.

  • Matte Revolution Lipstick in 1975 Red: a gorgeous, striking, retro orange-red. I much prefer this colour in a matte formulation, and while I have enough others to not have 'needed' this, there is a vintage-y feel to this rendition that screams summer pin-up, giant sunnies and all. It's inspired by Jerry Hall's first Vogue cover, and it's as glamorous as you'd expect.
  • Matte Revolution Lipstick in Miss Kensington: That perfect retro pink-nude, reminiscent of something Twiggy would wear. Matte nudes are hard to get right in my opinion - I have fairly pigmented lips so the wrong shade of matte nude can look washed-out and concealer-ish, but this lipstick is just right. Gorgeous.

I'm all about the cream eyeshadows, and have just finished my Marc Jacobs one, so somehow justified two of these :) The shade range is stunning - a few different tones of bronze, a khaki colour, seriously good. After trying them out, its love. A light whipped texture that applies easily, and thinly (no caking or crepey eyes here), is easily blended without tugging, but then dries down and stays in place. Great on its own or as a base for powder shadows, these are everything a good cream eyeshadow should be (if I say so myself).

  • Eyes to Mesmerise in Norma Jean: The lightest most 'everyday wash' colour - a light golden champagne.
  • Eyes to Mesmerise in Marie Antoinette: A taupey-bronze shade, ligher and less 'amber' than the other bronze options in the line up.

Charlotte Tilbury has yet to disappoint me. The shade ranges, the formulas, the packaging. A breath of fresh air if you ask me.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Review: Braun Silk Epil 7 Epilator

I've delayed my review of this for some time so that I could give my full, thorough, thoughts on what many will associate as a modern day torture device. I'm well aware that hair removal isn't the sexiest of topics, but it is one that seems difficult to get right. Balancing frequency, convenience, pain, cost, effectiveness, and for some modesty, etc. can be tricky business.

The last time I had tried an epilator was about 10 years ago, when my mother in law "gifted" me her barely used devil incarnate because she simply couldn't take it. And at the time neither could I. It was loud, painful and all-in-all a bit barbaric. So I had relegated it to not even being an option for the last decade.

Fast forward to a few months ago when Lily Pebbles and her model friend Keisha Lall did a video about hair removal, and Keisha's method of choice was epilating! She made a strong case - you don't have to wait for regrowth, you can do it at home, to most body parts, and apparently, it gets less painful over time. That week I found myself at Boots, tenuously purchasing the Braun Silk Epil 7. God. Help Me.

The device itself is great - it charges quickly, can be used wet or dry, and comes with different heads for different levels of sensitivity, speed, coverage, etc. No complaints there. So, how have I gotten on??

Arms: My first foray was on my arms, hairy buggers as they are (sorry). An awkward bit to shave or wax, but a bit unwieldy if left untouched, epilating seemed a great middle ground. The pain was medium, but overall it was quick and effective. It didn't get every hair, but on my arms my priority is more thinning out enough to be presentable, so I'd give it a thumbs up.

Legs: Life changing. Doing your full legs takes a minor investment of time (say, 20 minutes?) but I'm left with perfectly smooth summer-ready legs for a full 2-3 weeks. As a perpetual lazy shaver, this is absolutely brilliant. Of course, waxing would do the same but I can do this at home, without any outlay, and without the faff of booking an appointment. You can also target bits that grow back at different rates, rather than having to wait until things get dire. My new method of choice.

Armpits: I've never waxed my armpits, but I had been shaving in the shower as part of a daily ritual. The first go using the epilator was the most pain I've ever felt short of an acute injury. I mean, one requires a serious amount of stoicism to go through with it. However, when the hair grows back it is far less coarse, and far more sparse. I can get away with doing it once a week now, and it's quick and comparatively pain-free. Again, my new method of choice.

Face: I'm not one for threading my whole face, but if you are I think this would do a good job. I've used it on my upper lip, and between my eyebrows, and it kills having to book in for a threading session. There is a special head for facial areas which is much smaller and more precise, and as an in-between solution it's really great. Of course, it's not precise enough to shape eyebrows, so don't even try!! But by keeping the unibrow and moustache in check, it definitely prolongs the time between threading sessions.

Bikini: This is where the rubber hits the road. I've not yet brought myself to use this down there. We all know that bikini waxing is basically the least pleasant thing ever, but at least it's like quickly ripping off a band-aid. Using an epilator means sustaining the pain for much longer, and something about the anticipation just makes it very hard to self-inflict. If you're of stronger character than I, then go for it!

Overall: Since hairs are pulled out from the root, re-growth is equivalent to waxing. When it does grow back, it doesn't all grow back at once, so after the first go the hairs always seem to be thinner and more sparse, which also means it's quicker, and less painful. So one upside is that if you stick with it, the experience really does become more tolerable. I like that it avoids the embarrassment of exposing your body hair to to a beautician, whilst also saving the time and expense of having to book an appointment. It's also more on-demand, and I don't experience the same redness or sensitivity afterward. All in all, if you can stomach the first few uses, I'd encourage you to re-consider the modern-day epilator as a decent option that covers most bases. Something I never ever thought I would say!

Monday, 6 July 2015

June favourites & fails

June has been a crazy month. We've been trying to get back on our feet after a family tragedy, and also moved house. The latter entailed a pretty significant clear-out of the beauty 'collection'. I tried to be as ruthless as possible, with 'throw away', 'donate/give away', 'try again' and 'keep' piles. All but one of this months favourites resulted from the 'try again' pile - things I couldn't remember if I liked or disliked, or things I wanted to make a concerted effort to use to see if I liked them enough to keep. All in all then, a worthwhile exercise!


Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer: There has at various points been tonnes of hype around this concealer, in part because it's an affordable drugstore option. I vaguely remember purchasing this when I was using the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and not thinking much of it - certainly it didn't sway me at the time. Recently though, and without having repurchased the NARS in a while, I've really been enjoying this. It's high coverage, creamy, doesn't crease and stays in place. I've heard a lot of people say this is 'too heavy' for under the eyes but on me, and on well prepped skin, I really don't find this to be the case. I've been using it over my Bobbi Brown Corrector and it does a great job coverage-wise and is brightening, without looking heavy or cakey.

NARS Penny Lane: Another one I had forgotten about but have fallen in love with. A warm-toned pink cream-to-powder blush. You could easily wear this one all year round but at the moment I feel like its slight browny undertone serves to also bronze and sculpt my face. I use my Real Techniques Stippling Brush and it really is fab - it's not 'dewy' and it does dry down (my preference), but it does blend nicely into skin and it stays all day. Unfortunately, when searching for a link to this, it appears that Nars has axed its cream blush line. Wah wah...

Dolly Wink liquid eyeliner: I picked up this unassuming gem when I was in Tokyo last summer. I'm not a big eyeliner girl, in part because I've always been terrible at it, and partly because I have hooded eyes and small lids and don't always feel that it suits me. But, I figured if ever I was going to find a product to convince me it would be amongst Japanese/Korean products. I was right! This felt-tip pen has such a fine tip that I can make the slimmest line, but is sturdy enough to make a controlled flick. It's dark and requires only a single pass for full colour intensity, which means you only need to get it right once. I don't use it too often but it's given me a flawless result each time, and performs as well today as it did on day 1. And, it stays put but is easy to wash off. Score.

MAC Lipstick in Hue: An oldie but a goodie. Back around 2009 or thereabouts, this was my favourite 'nude' lipstick, and one of my favourites overall. It's the only lipstick I've ever finished and re-purchased. But, for the past few years I've strayed from these light nudes, preferring instead more natural and one might say more mature 'my lips but better' shades. I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of it so made of point of trying it again. And, I have really been enjoying it. With a bronzy eye, and Nars Penny Lane (above) it's been a perfect easy-going summer look. It also looks killer with a cream tangerine gloss on top (say, YSL Gloss Volupte in 203).

Essie Nail Polish in Chillato: New for their summer collection, this polish is a super pretty whitened lime/chartreuse pastel. It has more of a yellow undertone than all the mint shades - no blue at all, which is quite unique. I've had it on my toes consistently since I picked it up.


Boots Glass nail file: Ok. So I had a crystal nail file from Manicare (an Aussie brand) for probably going on 8 years. It worked as well the day I accidentally lost it overseas as it did the day I bought it. I remember paying $15 AUD for it and thinking it was super expensive, but looking back it's among the best $15 I've spent on beauty. So when I lost it I was determined to pick up something comparable. I mistakingly cheaped out and went with the Boots version, which after literally 2 uses has dulled and no longer works. Fail. I've since picked up the Leighton Denny version, which if you're in the UK I'd highly recommend - so far so good... I can see it lasting years.