Monday, September 30, 2013

My Everyday Face

Everyday Make up

Whilst I may have aspirations to look uber glamourous at work when it comes down to it I'd prefer that extra five minutes in bed - yes I love the snooze button. I also find that as I spend most of my day darting in and out of meetings I've yet to find a look that remains the same with little more than a touch of lipstick between meetings - until now.

A combination of products I'd been sent to review and those I've brought or were at my disposal have helped me create the perfect low maintenance look that suits me on a day to day basis.

I start with Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint* in Bare 01. This was my first foray into Liz Earle's make up range and I was a bit concerned about the shade as it looked too pale in the tube but applied to the face it works like a dream and is the right light coverage I prefer. I disguise any blemishes and my hated under eye circles with Bobbi Brown's Creamy Concealer in Sand and follow this with a dusting of Chanel Les Beiges No 30 all over the face. I'm so glad I finally gave in and purchased this product. Such a finely milled light powder that really does give that sheer glow to the skin.

A pop of colour on my cheeks is provided by Chanel's Creme Blush in Affinite applied with Real Techniques Due-Fibre Contour Brush. When I first went to buy this the sales assistant told me it wasn't right for me, I'm glad I disagreed.

Brows are filled in using either my Anastasia Brow Wiz or Mac Omega depending on my mood, which also depends on whether I sweep some Omega across my lid.

My love affair with mascara's continues in the form of Barry M's Lash Vegas*. By the end of the day I need to neither touch up or remove any black smudges under my eyes which is a major plus in my book. I can also finally understand the people who claim they cannot live without mascara as it changes the look of your eyes without needing to apply eye shadow.

Finally I hide my lack of sleep with Rimmel's Wake Me Up concealer and reach for one of my lipsticks, in this case Rosette by Clinque.

What I love about this look is if I'm heading out of an evening it's usually only necessary to add some more Les Beiges, maybe some blush and usually I'll go for a red lipstick (tonight it's Chanel Amant). I'm finding this low maintenance look really works for me right now.

Below you can see the before and after looks. I must stress that the after has not been photoshopped despite my hair being a different colour! I actually took the before picture in the morning and the after once I'd done the above touch ups when the evening light was coming through my window so it has shown up the colour in my hair better.

I'd love to know if you've tried any of these products or what you use in your minimal everyday make up or even if you think this is still too high maintenance. 

*PR Sample

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

September Empties

Skincare Empties

Its cliched at this time of the month to wonder where the previous one disappeared to but seriously, where did September go? That aside I managed to work my way through and finish up a large number of products so lets get on with the job in hand, starting with skincare.

Balance Me Expression Line Filler* is touted as a natural botox for an instant smoother looking complexion. I'm well aware after my many years of frowning that there is no wonder product (in serum form) that will make them disappear but this product does seem to temporarily do what it says. I find that by the end of the day my lines are certainly more prominent and even more so if I don't use this product for a day or two. I'm currently testing two alternatives to see how they fair but this is one I'd certainly repurchase.

With every blogger expressing such love for Bioderma there was no way I couldn't give it a try myself. Was I overally impressed? Not really. I can't quite work out the hype. Yes it's a quick fix product but I found it no better than L'Oreal's Micellar Water and certainly not as luxurious as a cleansing balm. Would I repurchase? Unless I was shopping the aisles of Parisienne pharmacy with a view of the Eiffel Tower, then no.

St Ives Apricot Scrub* does have the best rep now that skincare trends are leading us to daily exfoliating toners and avoid the harsher scrubs. Whilst I tend to be a follower of those trends these days I have had this sitting in my bathroom and sometimes I feel like my skin needs that extra scrub and reach for the tube. It is harsh, it is gritty and I certainly wouldn't recommend this for sensitive skin types and I'm sure there are many of you that will avoid this all together but I've not had any problems. Would I repurchase? Probably no but only because of my use of the double tone. 

Which leads me nice only to Nude Purify Toning Water. I can never seem to find too many reviews or recommendations for toners other than exfoliating toners so when my faithful Liz Earle ran out I had a wander round the aisles of Space NK and this came home with me. It was my first time trying something from Nude and as toners go I have no complaints. Would I repurchase? Yes if I was in Space NK and wanted something at a fair price point but as I was in Boots knowing this was due to run out I returned to my old love Liz Earle. 

A few skincare samples that I used were the Origins GinZing Moisuriser. I love it, there's nothing more or less to say. It is on my list to purchase but until I've used up some other products in my collection I just can't justify it... for now! I can't say too much about YSL Forever Youth Liberator Serum as I think for the type of product it is you cannot get a full opinion of how effective it is with the small sample on offer, unlike Le Nuit De Chanel. If I can manage to avoid throwing a full size of this into my basket when I'm shopping in Duty Free two weeks from now I will consider my willpower to be exceptional. I loved this product. The smell is amazing and I just loved applying this for the few nights it lasted.

St Tropez Mousse

I won't go into too much detail about Sure Maximum Protection* and Dove's Purely Pampering Lotion* as you can find them reviewed here and here but they are both on the repurchase list. Another empty I can't say too much about is St Tropez Everyday Gradual Mousse. I've had this forever. I was obviously not very diligent at applying daily so when I did use it as it wasn't an instant tan I'd see minimal results. It's quite bizarre tanning with a white/clear mousse and of course there is the St Tropez smell - but then I'm slightly strange and like that! Would I repurchase? No but only because I'm braver these days and would go straight in for their instant products. 

Finally a couple of samples from Chanel of their Coco Mademoiselle Body Lotion. I've never been one for matching body lotions to my perfumes but having used this sample and being a frequent wearing of the perfume I would like to change that. Angel by Thierry Mugler was a lovely body cream to apply and a scent I've enjoyed. I've never used any of the fragrances but I would certainly give them a second glance now.

Shower Empties

I'm in love with Radox Pink Grapefruit & Basil shower gel* and a second bottle is sitting in my bag ready to head to Vegas with me. I am not in love with the next two products. I didn't enjoy the Nivea In Shower Body Moisturiser. I can't quite work out where it saves time. I found it greasy to apply. I didn't enjoy the step away from the shower method to let it soak in (surely this defeats the object!) and found I still wanted to use a body lotion on top of it. Definitely not one to repurchase. I'm a big fan of L'Occitane Almond Oil but the same can't be said of the Lavender Shower Cream. I would use this of an evening when trying to wind down after a long day at work but I didn't really enjoy it. I found it thick but not creamy and somewhat drying afterwards. 

September Empties

Moving on to some hand products, IOMA is a brand I'd not heard of till recently and was given their Cocoon Hand Cream* at a press event. I'm fussy about my hand creams but this one past the test (the test is can I lift my mug at work after applying!). I particularly liked it's pump/nozzle which dispensed a thin 'string' of product rather than the usual blob. It was much easier to distribute and I would definitely repurchase. As I would my favourite L'Occitane Hand Cream. I've mentioned this on many occasions so I will avoid repeating myself. 

Sally Hansen Acetone Free Polish Remover is a hangover from my acrylic nail days but still does the job of removing my polish. One tip of the bottle onto a cotton pad is usually sufficient to clean 1 or 2 nails so you can see this bottle would last a long time. I don't find my nails to be too dry after using and would definitely repurchase - in fact I already have!

I'm interested to see how different October's empties will be as I seemed to have got through quite a lot this month; thank you if you've made it this far.

As always link me up to your empties post and let me know if you've tried any of these products and what you thought of them.

*PR Sample

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review | About a Girl by Lindsey Kelk

I gave up on Revenge Wears Prada last week, it was far to dull with a boring storyline and as mentioned last week the characters were not coming across likeable.

This week I've popped the latest release from Lindsey Kelk into my bag, About a Girl. I've loved Lindsey's I Heart Series so I'm looking forward to reading a knew story from her. As I haven't so much as turned a page in this book yet I cannot tell you more than repeat the synopsis from Amazon below but based on the reviews I have high hopes.

Tess Brookes has always been a Girl with a Plan. But when the Plan goes belly up, she’s forced to reconsider.
After accidently answering her flatmate Vanessa’s phone, she decides that since being Tess isn’t going so well, she might try being Vanessa. With nothing left to lose, she accepts Vanessa’s photography assignment to Hawaii – she used to be an amateur snapper, how hard can it be? Right?
But Tess is soon in big trouble. And the gorgeous journalist on the shoot with her, who is making it very clear he’d like to get into her pants, is an egotistical monster. Far from home and in someone else’s shoes, Tess must decide whether to fight on through, or ‘fess up and run…

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bicester Village Shopping Haul

Red Wayfarer Raybans

Ted Baker Flamingo Bikini Bottoms

Anya Hindmarch MPs Tote Bag

Anya Hindmarch Beach Bag

Red Prada Purse

Inside Red Prada Purse

It may be Saturday but there's no lie in for me today as when this blog publishes I'll be jumping in my car and heading to Bicester Village with a wish list of goodies I hope I can get my hands on.

This isn't my first trip to the designer shopping outlet having visited with friends a good few months ago and I thought I'd share the indulgent goodies I can home with and give you an idea of the pricing and discounts available. 

I did initially plan to post a review of Bicester Village but bad weather hampered any photo taking opportunities and then time ran away with me to the point I'm only posting my haul now so it seems sensible to put something up next week once I've had a second visit to compare.

So on to the booty...

First stop to escape the rain on arrival was David Clulow. I was rather envious of my friends Rayban Wayfarers so popped on the red ones just out of interest. And promptly fell in love. Even better they were foldable which makes them fantastic for popping into my handbag and carrying around. With a 29% discount there was no way I was leaving them behind and you can see me modelling them here. Some might stay that was a successful start to the day.

The Ted Baker Bikini bottoms were simply purchased because I love flamingos. I decided I could easily find a pink bikini top to wear with these saving my having to splash out on the full ensemble as they were more than I would usually spend on swimwear. I brought these at 49% off.

Ah Prada how I love thee. In addition to my Prada tote which is never far from my side I also love Prada's purses. They are just the right size to host all my various loyalty cards and I was already lucky enough to own a fabulous pink one that was getting a little shabby. When I walked into the store (only after queuing to get in!) and saw a red one to match my new recently purchased bag I couldn't believe my luck. There was one in the case and I stood nervously as other customers dithered about purchasing till I had an opportunity to shout 'SOLD'. I would have (when finances allowed) happily paid the full price but lady luck saw me purchasing with a 32% discount.

And finally Anya Hindmarch where shopping euphoria took over. My friend and I had already had a recognisance trip to AH, literally wanting to walk out with 99% of the stock, became overwhelmed and logically said we needed to see what else was on offer. Nothing quite hit the mark for my friend who was the one looking to purchase a bag that a day apart from Anya Hindmarch so again we returned to the store and whilst she made her choice I once again swooned over the Tote Bags. I'd actually seen both of these bags on Net-a-Porter when they were current season but could never justify full price for what they were. Suddenly seeing them at 60% and 54% was too hard to resist. Sensibly I knew it was only necessary to buy one, and the beach bag was definitely not needed without a holiday on the horizon when it would be needed. But walking around the store with both hanging off my arms (there was one of each and no other shopper was getting a look in before I made my decision) I wanted both. 

It's safe to say I definitely treated myself on this trip but every item, with the exception of the bikini bottoms has been used on a frequent basis, my Anya totes are my go to's for supermarket shopping, the purse used daily and when the weather allows the sunglasses add a splash of colour to my outfits.

For those interested the RRP for all my purchases is approx £775 and I paid £441 which is a saving of 43% which I'm very pleased with - and reason enough to head there again today. That said I don't intend to be so indulgent with my purchases on this trip as I'm off to Las Vegas next month and all my money is to be saved for this holiday but there are one or two things I want to aid the trip so stay tuned.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Autumn Glory by Pyrex

Is it safe to say Summer has ended? I think so. I know us Brit's have nothing better to do than talk about the weather but it's like someone flicked a switch isn't it. That said I love Autumn, it's my favourite season. I love Halloween, Bonfire Night and the build up to Christmas.

It also means my beloved Autumn Glory dinnerware from Pyrex will be making it's appearance as will many casseroles, stews and hearty meals to keep me warm. I do love Pyrex, from oven to table it means there's less washing up which is always a good thing.

So do share, what is your favourite Autumnal soup or stew and would you care to pass on your recipes?

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

"V" Ladies

In my teens I was "Vikki", yes spelt V I K K I - that was very important. My parents refused to call me anything but Victoria and once I embarked on sending my CV out to future employers I too decided Victoria sounded better than Vikki from Essex (no offence intended to fellow Vikki's from Essex). 

That said Victoria is too easy to shorten, and I'm called many things by different people, usually Vic these days and my brother is the only person still getting away with calling me Vikki. I was called Vix by my colleagues in a previous role yet felt that signing emails Vix was too informal when I joined another company instead signing them off V and a new nickname was born. 

Six years in and most people in the department refer to my as V so when I spotted the necklace from Topshop it had to be purchased. The only annoying thing is it has a tendency to turn itself upside down so starts to looks like an A, who knows maybe that's the next nickname for me.

Do share your nickname's if any.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review // Filofax Personal Domino in Deep Pink

Filofax Domino Deep Pink

Filofax Domino Deep Pink Inside

Filofax Domino Deep Pink Diary

In a quest to reorganise my life and after much admiring across Pinterest (find me here) I took the plunge last week and ordered a Personal Filofax. I've always been a fan of the Filofax using one in my younger days until I switched to a mini Louis Vuitton version in the older label loving ones. 

Then I moved on to a lusted after Moleskine when I wanted something light weight to carry around in my bag. So why back to the Filofax? For one reason and another the Moleskine has been thrown into my draw at home using as a journal, sticking in ticket stubs and cards etc. I'd attempted to use my iphone diary as it was always with me, sync'd to my iPad and I'd have my office diary in Outlook which was also updated on a regular basis. 

I've since discovered that technology is not the best format for me to organise my life. In addition to making notes on the iphone I'd still prefer the physical act of writing a list, there's my blog notebook and multiple other scraps of paper with to do lists, ever growing lists filled with beauty products to try and the odd note here and then of things to remember. 

I wanted one place that could combine everything and more importantly a format that I could easily adapt as plans changed or dates were moved; again the Filofax seemed to be the answer. I'm the sort of person who writes a post it note, spells something incorrectly or doesn't like the look of my hand writing so rewrites it till I'm satisfied so you can imagine the 'trauma' of writing a date in the diary, that date changing and having to cross things out - far too messy for me.

The first thing I discovered was that Filofax's aren't necessarily the cheapest things around, maybe worth every penny but if this new experiment went awry and I invested the £60-80 on the neon Original organiser I favoured then I would be out of pocket. Next I thought about the size. A5 appealed as it's larger for notes but the realities of carrying that size around wouldn't be practical and when I thought about the information I wanted to hand the Personal really should be suitable.

I still thought £60 for the Original was more than I wanted to spend and then I discovered the Deep Pink Domino for only £20 which seemed a bargain in comparison. I also favoured the elastic closure as if I got carried away and overfilled it would be easier to contain than a rigid button strap.

Next was a trip to Paperchase for an abundance of post it notes to decorate the pages. Whilst I love the look of some of the organisers filled with washi tape I wanted to have a less fussy look and thought the post it notes would easily be moved around as things changed without committing ink to paper.

Sunday night I sat and began filling the pages and Monday I spent far to much time at work continuing to play with my new Filofax, it's love!

I can't deny the organiser is still weighty to carry around but knowing that I have all the notes I need is great. I've got into a routine of using the standard posts it found on my desk at work to add extra notes as I need and then spend some time of an evening transferring to the prettier versions.

As for the Filofax itself, the elastic closure works well and feels secure. The colour is far better than I imagined and I think I actually prefer it than if I'd gone for the harsher neon shades I initially preferred. The inside is a beautiful grey suede and I have nothing but good things to say so far.

A more organised and decorative plan is definitely the way forward; and you, what is your preferred method to keep things in check?

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#theSOproject // Bronzer


Another week, another #theSOproject post and now things are getting interesting as we start talking about dare I say the fun stuff. We have our fabulous bases thanks to last weeks Foundation post which you can find here and now it's the turn of the products that add colour and life to faces, this week Bronzer.

Bronzer is traditionally used to give our skins a bit of colour . If you want to add a golden or bronze glow to your skin, reach for the bronzer, not your foundation a shade darker.

I've always been a little clueless where Bronzer has been concerned. I'm not sure why, maybe it's my previous inability to apply or at least know how to apply properly or simply picking the wrong shade but there is the fear that I will make myself look less bronzed and more orange.

As you can see from my photo I don't have a heavy stash of bronzers, the first and most used from Clarins which I only brought back in May following my desire to recreate a Tanya Burr tutorial. Since then it is a staple in my make up bag and I tend to apply to the recommended highpoints of my face rather than frantically swirling all over until I resemble an Oompa Loompa. That said sometimes I need a light dusting all over depending on the base I'm using that day.

Of course now we are also using Bronzers for contouring which is when I reach for either the Sleek Contour Kit or my Barry M Natural Dazzle* both being matte and fit for purpose. I won't delve too much into contouring for this post as it's still something I'm getting to grips with and certainly not something I would do on a daily basis.

It's always good to learn from someone else mistakes so here is what I've learnt about Bronzer.
  • Your bronzer should only be two shades darker than your natural skin tone which if you choose to go a step further into contouring will help create your blank canvas for contouring.
  • Always apply in light coats and build up the colour until you get the look you desire
  • Apply to the top of your forehead, your cheekbones and along your jawline forming a 3 shape on either side of the face.
  • Choose a matte bronzer rather than one with shimmer if you're masking imperfections
On what Bronzers are on my wishlist because I surely must add to my stash, well of course it goes without saying Nars Laguna (I can't wait to see if this features in numerous posts this evening!) and when I visit the US next month I'm hoping to pick up Tarte Amazonian Clay.

*PR Sample

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Review // Sure Maximum Protection

Sure Maximum Protection* link
If you take a look in one of my bedroom draws you'll find a stash of various deodorants all which have been used briefly and discarded during an ongoing quest to find one that actually works for me. Over the years I've been through every brand possible, experimented with the hardcore medicinal versions, dabbled in tablets from the doctor (an unpleasant experience; yes they worked but I've never had such a dry mouth in my life!) and considered botox, until Sure Maximum Protection* landed on my doorstep.

I rolled my eyes at the claims to offer twice the protection of other deodorants and lasting 48 hours fully expecting to throw this in the draw with all the others. I was happily proved wrong. Sure Maximum Protection is now a staple in my routine featuring in last months' Empties post here and another one due to pop up later this month.

Sure recommend applying the deodorant at night so that your body can adjust and this is where the 48 hours protection can kick in. I can't claim to have last a full 48 hours as that's a bit risky for someone who has an eternal fear of the underarm sweat patch but I certainly have nothing to worry about over a normal working day tackling the cramped underground commute.

As for the product itself, a simple click of the wheel at the bottom reveals a cream like texture which is applied to your armpits. I've used products before which remain creamy and sticky but not the case with Sure, it dries quickly so I have no worries about popping on a black dress and heading into work. It's also worth noting there is no fear of applying this after you have shaved under your arms. If you've used any of the harsher products on the market you'll have experienced the hopping around from the burning sensation that they give.

If I'm going to be picky and find a fault with the product it's only simply that the product can dry in the holes so as you reveal the next twist later in the morning/evening it may have dried slightly but as long as you're using the product twice daily on a regular basis this is generally avoided and more to do with my occasionally missing a night time application.

You can find Sure Maximum Protection in your usual stockists such as Boots or Superdrug.

Don't forget to let me know if you give it a try or are already a fan.

*PR Sample

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review| Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

After last weeks disappointing read (Week 38 here) I was looking forward to getting my teeth into Revenge Wears Prada the follow up book to the extremely popular Devil Wears Prada; sadly I am once again disappointed.

As is often the case when a film has been made of a book that is all I picture whilst reading Revenge and it doesn't fit right with me. Firstly I can't imagine the Andy that 'saw the error of her ways' finding her happiness with a wedding magazine, especially one where she proudly discusses the quotes she receives from celebrities, wasn't she destined for more humanitarian causes? Secondly her newfound friendship with Emily, how did they become best friends. Yes I can understand these two characters having a mutual respect for each other but suddenly becoming best buddies and setting up business together? And finally Andy has now left behind her disapproving boyfriend and has married a millionaire businessman and living the quintessential New York life.

Leaving all those questions aside again it's another case for me of finding the characters a bit wet and the story just plain dull. I intend to give the story another chance on today's commute but after last weeks lacklustre read I don't know if I'm prepared to force myself to fight with another - and if you look at the other reviews it seems I am not alone with disappointment of this book.

If my review hasn't been enough to put you off you can find Revenge Wears Prada on Amazon here and of course, the irony isn't lost on me as I sit reading this book with a Prada bag at my feet!

I'd love to know if you've read this book and can assure me it gets better.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Swarovski USB Pen in Fuchsia

Last year my cousin was given a fabulous Swarovski pen for her birthday which immediately sent my mum, aunts and I into frenzy about how we all wanted to own one. My mum received one for her birthday and I subsequently requested one for mine way back in April. Mum ever the extreme shopper went one step further and brought for me the extra snazzy USB pen instead of the simple ballpoint. Lucky me!

I must confess I have spent a lot of time simply admiring this pen in it's box but since I picked up a Filofax in an effort to organise my life better (post coming soon) it's now never far from hand. The USB stick has proved handy especially for storing photos of my niece and nephew which are subsequently printed off when doing a supermarket shop rather than languishing on my laptop for months on end.

As a pen it's a simple ballpoint which whilst I'd love to style things out with a sophisticated ink the humble biro proves most popular for my scribblings. Luckily it is also supplied with replacement inks so I don't find I have to use sparingly for fear of it running out.

It is a heavier pen, which I quite like but some may prefer the simpler (and significantly cheaper) version, filled with only 100 crystals compared to the 400 in my version.

My boss once told me to always hold a pen in meetings as it'll give you something to do with your hands although I think I'll keep this pen at home rather than the boardroom.

And what about you, simple biro or do you prefer something a bit special when writing your to do lists?

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Yellow Roses

Vintage Victoria Plum

I can't keep flowers alive for love nor money. Many a weekend I'd treat myself to a bunch of flowers to decorate my home and within hours they're a wilting mess not to mention my floristry skills aren't the best. If you've read my previous posts (link) you'll know I'm lucky enough to have a fabulous florist who makes all their arrangements with faux flowers which even I'd be hard pushed to kill. When I discovered this gorgeous vintage Victoria Plum jam jar on eBay I knew it was destined for some yellow roses which are my favourite and still look fabulous as we head into Autumn.

Are you a faux flower fan or is that the ultimate faux pas in your book?

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Clarins Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover Vs L'Oreal Absolute Eye & Lip

Clarins Instant Eye Make Up Remover

This past week I have been putting L'Oreal Eye Make-Up Remover to the test again high end Clarins Gentle Remover. Each evening L'Oreal is swiped across my left lid (L for left and L'Oreal; see what I've done there!) and Clarins across the right to see how they compare.

And the results are that L'Oreal stood up to the higher end alternative, in fact I that the Clarin's product can often leave my eye area feeling dryer than L'Oreal. With a price difference of over £10 I was more than happy with the results from L'Oreal's offering. Both offered the same results when a cotton pad was soaked and swiped across the lip once or twice to remove all traces of mascara.

The only downside to L'Oreal is their dreadful packaging. I really don't know why they have put this and the micellar water in these rectangle bottles. There appears to be no way of tipping the product on to a cotton pad without some spillage. I'm planning to investigate further as going forward I may decant in to my own bottle to use.

I'm also carrying out the same 'highly scientific' left/right side test with Bioderma and L'Oreal's micellar waters and again am impressed with L'Oreal for their price point and ability to do what they say on the tin. Everyone loves Bioderma but for the effort required to track down a bottle in the UK and the price I say go for L'Oreal; and as they would say 'because you're worth it'.

Let me know if you've tried either of the L'Oreal products, I'd love to know whether you agree.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Boots Beauty Haul

Beauty Haul

Last Friday I popped into my local Boots branch solely with purpose of picking up a new toner and treating myself with my hard earned advantage card points to Chanel Les Beiges. Clearly as the above photo demonstrates I got a little carried away...

Liz Earle Grapefruit and Patchouli Cleanse & Polish

Liz Earle is a new addition to this branch and to be honest I didn't even realise Boots stocked Liz Earle products. The Instant Boost Skin Tonic is a favourite of mine so being able to pick this up locally was a definite win for me. Of course I then got side tracked by the Limited Edition Grapefruit and Patchouli Cleanse & Polish. I'd seen news of this release and was tempted to buy but having an abundance of cleansers in my arsenal including the original C&P I certainly didn't need it and had managed to resist. But seeing it store and the opportunity to sniff and swatch I was sold. I LOVE the smell of grapefruit and there was no way I was leaving without this beauty. I've been using this every morning since and it's the perfect wake up call.

Chanel Les Beiges, a product I missed out on first time round due to procrastination. There was no way I was missing out on it's second release and there I was on the dot ready to make it mine. Applied in store the light weight powder feels and looks amazing. Since it's purchase I've merely admired it so will pop a full review up in due course.

Chanel Creme Blush, how did that happen?? Well when you're at the Chanel counter and they ask whether you'd like to try anything else what is a girl to do. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, which you can read here, I'd looked into these before but had been directed to the paler shades which were too similar to other blushes in my collection and didn't excite me as Infinite. Such a fabulous pink which adds an Autumnal pop of colour to the cheeks. Again thus far it's only been admired and swatched for my mum so she good feel how velvety smooth this is on the cheeks but as I type this I feel the urge to throw into tomorrow's make up bag.

And last but not least were the Limited Edition Duo Fibre Real Technique Brushes. Once again a product I'd resisted but read multiple reviews singing their praises and I just knew if I left it too much longer their existence in my life might escape me and we couldn't have that! 

The spending really must stop now in readiness for my trip the US next month because we all know there will be no resisting once I enter the hallowed walls of Sephora!

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

#theSOproject // Week 3 Foundation

Bobbi Brown Bare Minerals Rimmel By Terry

Foundation in one form or another has been with us a long time, from lead paints used by the Romans via Max Factor's first commercially available offering to today's varied choices from mineral powder to liquid it's quite hard to know where to begin.

Let's start with the purpose of foundation which is to even your complexion and cover any flaws. The condition of your skin will determine which sort of foundation coverage you require; sheer, light, medium or full. If you're lucky you may not even need foundation and can get away with using tinted moisturisers or BB creams with a little concealer for the odd blemish (see last weeks post on concealer).

Foundation should only be used where and if necessary, do not feel obliged to add foundation to your routine if you do not need it. I didn't start wearing foundation until I was in my thirties favouring Benefits You Rebel back in the day and even now I'm comfortable with the coverage my favourite Erborian BB Cream provides (see a recent review here).

The most daunting part of choosing a foundation in my opinion is finding the right shade for your skintone. This morning I suggested seeking assistance from a beauty counter but if you want to go it alone here's what you need to know. Your foundation should be exactly the same colour as your skin and tested on your jawline, NOT your hand. Never try to go a shade darker, I'm still scarred by a friend at school who had the tell tale orange tide line around their neck from badly colour matched and blended foundation. Next view the swatch in natural light, store lighting is not your friend. The shade least visible is your match.

An important thing to note is that cosmetic colours are not standardised in any way so whilst you may be a medium beige with Bobbi Brown (beige, such a dreadful colour association don't you think) Rimmel may call you dark beige and so on. You will need to find your colour match with any product each time. You also need to consider different shades for the seasons as you may be darker in Summer than Winter.

In addition to finding the right shade, deciding on the coverage you require, whether covering bad scars or simply evening out your skintone you'll need to decide on the type of foundation suitable for you. The variations to formulation will often be decided with coverage but you may want to try a few products to decide what works for you.

My 'first' foundation was from Bare Minerals. When I decided I needed more coverage but wasn't looking for anything to full on their mineral powder foundation appealed to me and felt foolproof to my amateur hands which were scared of liquids. I am aware some people are allergic to one of the ingredients so you'll need to bear that in mind but as with any product what works for one will not for another. MAC foundations seem to divide opinion, some cannot live without, others find it causes terrible breakouts so investigation is key.

I also use By Terry Light Expert Foundation and it's fantastic and perfect for those on the go. This is a favourite to apply on my commute to work and whilst the brush applicator may not be everyone's cup of tea it makes carrying around lots of brushes unnecessary.

This leads me nicely on to applying your foundation. Depending on your foundation type will often depend on your method of application, for example you should stay away from applying water based foundations with cosmetic sponges. The Real Techniques Buffing and Expert Face Brushes are great and really do aid using the smallest amount of product on your face and create the flawless finish you should get from foundation.

I hope you find some of that advice useful, foundation shopping can be something of a mind field but if you investigate thoroughly you should hopefully avoid too many mishaps. I'd love to hear any other tips you have for finding the right foundation.

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Beauty // Try Before You Buy


This evening's post for #theSOproject will be on foundation and no matter how much investigating one does if you're anything like me it's always worth diverting to the experts in store for colour matching. The beauty of buying high end is that you have the opportunity to test products, whether they're foundations or lipstick on your own face whereas in drugstores you're often relying on hand swatches. A drugstore product may be cheap but there is a danger of buying multiple products till you find the right shade and you could've invested in something from a designer brand that was just right.

All this said beauty counters can often be intimidating, surrounded by hoards of shoppers (the MAC counter at Selfridges anyone!) and I thought I'd give you a little review of my recent experiences as I always try to have a chat with the sales assistant and try products before I splash the cash.

Space NK is a shop even at my ripe old age of 34 I find intimidating. My local branch is a short walk from my office, it's where I go monthly for my eyebrow threading but still when I walk in I don't find it the warmest of experiences. Earlier this year I decided I wanted a new foundation and went in to see what advice I could be given. I was a bit hazy about my details as I'm not a big foundation wearer so the assistant tried a BB cream and the By Terry Light Expert Foundation on me.

Now we all know store lighting isn't the best and what might feel right in store after an hour or two on the face might be very different so I said that I would go away and pop back later when I decided which I preferred - yes people I went back to the office with two different products on my face but as they were both the right shade for me and blended properly there was no danger of scaring anyone!

I found this was important as the foundation would be worn at work so if I didn't like it's appearance in the office then it was not going to work for me.

Never be afraid to walk away from the counter when you've had a product applied/tested so you can decide if its for you.

Space NK #2

I went in the same branch on another occasion to ask about Nars Sheer Glow which everyone is, was and still are raving about. I was offered little assistance nor the opportunity to try it on my skin but they did provide me with a small sample (which you can see in the pot above) which I could use at home. I wasn't convinced on using it at home that it was the right shade for me. I tried another branch and they colour matched me differently but I wasn't given a sample. I plan to attempt for third time lucky next time armed with the knowledge of which colours I have been matched to so far

Try different stores for confirmation on colours and question their choice if you have been given other advice 

MAC stores and counters can be a nightmare to browse. Always a fight to the counters even in my local House of Fraser branch but if like me you arrive as soon as they open you might be lucky and they're great at allowing you to try lipsticks etc. I popped in my branch when the All About Orange range launched. I wanted something, I thought a lipstick and walked out with a blusher as well all due to the sales assistances help. I was in the store as soon as it opened (well actually I was waiting outside for the doors to open..!) and had the counter and assistances to myself. I said I was interested in trying the brightest lipstick and then asked for advice on a blusher. I would've gone for one of the paler shades to be safe but she suggested the brighter (jasmine orange) and popped it on with my new lipstick (neon orange) and I left the store with both. Left to my own devices I would've either brought solely the lipstick or ended up with a dull and insipid blusher. (you can see what I brought here)

If you're not sure of your shade, ask for help.

I had a less than successful experience at the Chanel counter which I must stress was due to a different lady than I usually deal with when I'm trying out new products. I explained that I knew Les Beiges would be out of stock but I wanted to colour match so that when it returned I could just pick up what I needed or order online if necessary. I told the assistant I wanted to use as a foundation/powder base rather than a bronzer. She then proceeded to tell me I should be one shade but didn't have one available so would put the next shade up on me instead. I explained I also already had make up on me which should be removed to match properly and she just looked at me again and was like no this will be too dark so I stopped her from putting on me.

Another much raved about but not cheap product is the Dior BB Cream so again I popped into House of Fraser to enquire about trying. This again was not a successful experience. Sat on the chair I had a small area of my face removed of make up and the cream applied but not sufficient to see what coverage it would give.

If you're not confident with the assistants choices stop them and if the test isn't sufficient to make your decision do not feel obliged to purchase. There are plenty of counters to try

I picked the hottest day of the year to have a consultation with Benefit to try their foundation. I don't know whether it was the brightening primer or the fact it was the hottest day of the year but the shine wasn't a good one.

Pick the right day to test products

Recently I've also had fantastic experiences with The Garden Pharmacy where the Chanel assistant who I can only assume was bored and wanted something to do gave me full make up when I asked about one or two products and the Chanel counter at a local Boots. I went in last Friday to buy re-released Les Beiges and whilst sitting in the chair asked to try the cream blushes. Previous advice from one of the assistances on another shopping trip told me the shade I wanted wasn't for me and instead suggested I went for the paler shades. This weeks assistant agreed with my choice (separate post coming later this week) and popped it on and it looked great and I left away with 2 rather than one purchase.

I hope this has been a helpful post and you're encourage to seek the advice from your local beauty counters but have the confidence to walk away without obligation to buy. I'd love to hear more about your experiences with beauty counters, good or bad.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review | The Longest Holiday by Paige Toon

Many moons ago I used to feature a weekly post, What I'm Reading and there was a request to bring it back, so never one to disappoint here it is. The title says it all although due to blogging activities (twitter anyone!) and my love of a lie in requiring make up application on the train my reading habits are slower than they once were. That said there will always be a book in my bag and if it's good enough it might even take me away from refreshing my instagram feed on the commute to work.

The Longest Holiday is the first book I've read by Paige Toon and I'm on the fence about whether I'm enjoying it or not. As I've said I need a book that will take me away from playing with my iphone on the journey to work and this is somewhere in between, I want to keep reading but tend to put it down as soon as I'm overground and can check the latest tweets. 

The main character Laura is somewhat feistier than a lot of heroines in chick lit which appeals to me. I'm so bored of reading about this sad and often dull women whose lives are not complete until they meet the man of their dreams. I'm 34 and single and whilst a man to come home to is not something to be sniffed I hope I'm not representative of the way some of these women are written. Moving on...! 

Laura has had her dreams of a happy marriage shattered and friends whisk her off to Florida's Key West and when the time to come home arrives she refuses and stays put which is where I am in the story currently. Of course there is a love interest for her in the sunny states but I'm not sure how I feel about this blossoming romance or where it's going and how it will end.

All in all I just feel this story is a bit blah, I don't know if I'll be more disappointed if it ends with her returning to the UK to sort out her marriage or stays in the Key West and finds 'happiness' with the sexy Cuban Leo but I fear a man will solve all her problems!

Would I recommend this book, probably not. I find I skim read rather than devour every page and that there isn't really much of a story or anything going. 

As I'm typing this review I'm wondering why I'm bothering to continue reading it! 

The Longest Holiday can be brought from Amazon here 

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