Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Luxe Beauty Life | Beauty A-Z

I love a good list (it might be the logical engineer in me) so I thought I would put together an A-Z of beauty to sum up my favourite products and beauty tips. Here goes...

A is for Ambient Lighting Powders by Hourglass. This is a new find of mine and I have written about them in Ethereal Glow - click here - they are great for reflecting light from imperfections and highlighting the areas you want.

B is for Beauty Flash Balm by Clarins. It doesn't matter how many great products I try, I always go back to this one, it tones up, brightens and smooths skin instantly and the fragrance is light and refreshing.

C is for Confidence. It is an old one, but true nonetheless...nothing more beautiful than a confident lady.

D is for Dry Shampoo. This is a hair care requirement, not only does it buy your hair an extra day before washing, but it also buys you more time in bed! I have found Batiste to be the best I have tried and they do a brunette version to save you from a head of white powder.

E is for Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. I can't possibly stress how useful this product is, it has countless uses and is super effective. A few of my favourite uses include; eyebrow taming, dry skin smoothing and cuticle soothing.

F is for Fake Tan. Winter is almost over and who can blame us for needing to fake a bit of natural glow??

G is for Graze. I love this concept (I know not technically beauty) but lots of yummy healthy treats to choose from, posted through your letter box as often as you like. Read more on a previous post I have done - click here

I is for Invisibobble. So you want to tie your hair up while you go to the gym, put on a face mask, do the hoovering, sleep, etc. but you don't want a kink in your hair? Well, this invention is just for you. I must say, it probably doesn't keep your hair quite as secure as a normal hair band, but the hair band kink drives me crazy!

J is for Jean Paul Gaultier ClassiqueI have a crazy amount of different perfumes but I always go back to this scent. I can't get enough of it, it is the scent that describes feminine in my view, floral, sweet and a signature scent that changes depending on the wearer.

K is for Kérastase Nectar Thermique. I have raved about this one before - click here - enough said.

L is for Laughter lines. We are always trying to fight the signs of ageing with numerous anti-wrinkle creams but when it comes to laughter lines - bring it on! I don't want an old face that never smiled.

M is for Makeup remover pen. Having one of these pens handy is a god send when you are doing your eye makeup as you can easily correct any little smudges or wiggly lines caused by shaky hands!

N is for Nars Orgasm Blush. The most popular colour in the Nars blusher range, everyone seems to either own or want to own this one! The high pigmentation, the perfect amount of gold shimmer, and a natural pink colour and I can see why it is the must-have blush.

O is for Oil. Oil isn't a new thing by any stretch, I have been a little behind the times on this one though and now I just can't get enough of it. One of the most versatile I have found is Josie Maran Argan oil, you can use it after cleansing whilst your skin is still damp to capture moisture, you can use it on your cuticles and nails, on scars and stretch marks, on dry hair ends, a generous amount can be used as a hair treatment overnight and wash out in the morning...the list just goes on.

P is for Peppermint Tea. I have been a peppermint tea convert for a long time, it soothes your tummy, aids digestion, caffeine free and apparently it can give your oestrogen levels a slight boost which has a great effect on your skin and combats acne.

Q is for Quick Drying Nails. If your nails take ages to dry after you paint them then there is a high chance you are going to smudge them, I use Elegant Touch Rapid Dry Spray once I have painted to keep them looking good.

R is for Real Techniques Brushes. Makeup brushes can be really pricey but a good brush is essential for perfecting the desired effect. I have found these brushes to not only be really good quality, and easy to use, but also a great price.

S is for Skin Doctors Ingrow Go. I epilate the hair on my legs so this is an essential for me, it doesn't smell great but it certainly helps in the fight against unsightly ingrown hairs!

T is for Touche Eclat by Yves Saint Laurent. Who doesn't have this? This cult product is a must have for highlighting and covering up the dark circles under your eyes

U is for UV rays. As much as getting some sun is glorious and getting vitamin D is important, protecting your skin from UV rays is really important. So many products now have SPF which makes it easy to be part of your beauty routine, and wearing sunglasses in the sun ensures protection of the sensitive skin around your eyes.

V is for VO5 Give Me Texture Dry Texturing Spray. This spray is amazing for adding texture and it is a bargain price to boot. Sometimes you just need a bit of grime in freshly washed hair to style it or to achieve the bed head look. Personally, I use it on my fringe to give it a choppy, messy look.

W is for Water. This one is on every one's list - drink more water! Not only does it help detoxing your body and keeping you hydrated, but it also aids excess water retention so your skin isn't so puffy. Buy a funky water bottle to keep with you while you are at work or out and about and you will be sipping away without even realising.

X is for X-rated. Having some fun between the sheets burns calories, lowers your stress levels, helps you sleep...do we need any more reasons?? Beauty wise, surely nothing beats the post-fun glow!

Y is for You time. This one is simple and free, take some time out just for you, even if it is only a few minutes. Breathe deeply, clear your mind, relax, pamper...whatever you choose to do, being kind to yourself with some you time will help you get those stress levels down that can all sorts of horrid effects on your skin, never mind help you with Z.

Z is for zzz's. Everybody knows this but getting enough sleep is so important to make sure your skin is in the best condition and keeping on top of those dark circles...but if you can't resist the party then you can always rely on T.

There we have it, a beauty A-Z. I hope you found some useful tips or products you can use!

Luxe Beauty | Urban Decay - All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray Review

I don't know about you but, as much as I love my makeup, once I have put my face on and I step out the door, I don't think about reapplying or touching it up. It just doesn't enter my head at all, but I always feel a little disappointed when I get back home and look in the mirror and that awesome look that I spent so long perfecting has smudged, and slipped, and just generally not stayed looking so perfect. While I was in New York last year, living the dream in makeup heaven, Sephora, I found this spray - Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray - and I had to buy it and give it a shot. So the idea is that you spray it on over your makeup and it stops it from going anywhere, I admit I was pretty sceptical about this, but I thought in the name of not looking a mess after a few hours it was worth a try. I spray 2/3 times over my makeup and what I have found noticeable is that my makeup, blusher and concealer especially, stays put. I would definitely recommend this product if you are like me and don't carry your makeup around with you and you want to still look fresh after a days work or a night out, and even better they do two other sprays called Chill and Slick. Chill is a cooling and hydrating makeup setting spray, which I imagine will be perfect in the summer or on holiday, and Slick is an oil control makeup setting spray which provides a matte effect. I use Feel Unique a lot for purchases like this as it is free delivery on orders over £10 and they have just started selling Urban Decay products Feel Unique Link

Monday, 24 February 2014

Luxe Beauty | Smashbox - Full Exposure Palette Review

Eeeeeek! It arrived...and it is beautiful! I think I may have wowed out loud when I opened this little treasure chest up. Of course, I am talking about the new Smashbox Full Exposure Palette.

So first things first, the box itself, it is compact enough to squeeze it into your makeup bag to take away with you but it has a decent amount of product in there (14 good sized portions of colour to be exact) and you have a great size mirror AND a darn good eye shadow brush. At £36 this will not break the bank and you also get a free mascara with the palette along with a guide for perfecting 3 different looks for each eye shape (super useful!).

The colours are absolutely perfect for my colouring (brown hair, brown eyes, medium skin tone) but I imagine they would look good on anyone. There is a row of matte powders and a row of shimmer powders, they give great coverage and easy to apply without ending up with powder all down your face. I always use a primer underneath my makeup anyway but these powders seem to wear quite well after a few hours. The middle colour in the bottom row (see picture below) is very, very sheer and on a skin tone such as mine I can't think how you would use it, but potentially on a different tone it may be effective. This palette will do the full spectrum of eye looks, if you are looking for a dressed down nude to a full on sexy, smokey look you can nail them with the choice of colours. The powders blends really easily too so you can really have fun trying out different mixes. Personally I tend to put a light matte powder all over the eye lid, a darker matte in the crease and outer corner and then if I am fancying some glitter then a nice blend at the outer corner.

The brush that you get with this is great too, I usually find brushes you get with palettes a little naff, but this brush is so useful! It is double ended with different densities of brush, really great for creating different looks, the only thing you need to add to this is a brush for more detail if you were going to really go to town on your eyes.

If you are looking for a great selection of neutral, shimmer, matte and brown powders then I really don't think you need to look further than this palette, I can't wait to take this on holiday with me at the weekend!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Luxe Beauty Life | Wish List February 2014

My wish list is particularly long at the moment, makes me want to skip forward a few paydays so I can do a huge order!! Here are some of the expensive big hitters I am lusting after at the moment:
NARS Sheer Glow Foundation - the more I read about the dewy finish from this foundation the more I need to have it! How else will I look gorgeous on date night?!
Kevyn Aucoin The Lip Expert in Bloodroses - ever since my make over in Space NK when I first tried this lip stick I can't stop thinking about it, the colour is just divine and the packaging makes me want to show it off on my dressing table.
Charlotte Tilbury Bar of Gold - it is that time of year when you want some added glow in the run up to Spring and this light reflecting highlighter would be my ultimate end-of-winter pick me up!
By Terry Baume De Rose - I am guilty of wanting the 10th anniversary edition because it is covered in hearts...slightly pathetic I know.

What is tempting you at the moment?

Luxe Beauty | Smashbox - Be Legendary Lipstick in Infrared Matte Review

I am slightly crazy about red lipsticks, I would say I have a lot of red lipsticks to choose from, but it doesn't stop me from buying more! I have been really excited about this lipstick and the only thing I love as much as red is matte, and this is the beautiful combination of both. Again, as with the Be Legendary lipstick I reviewed in Matte Latte, this comes in cool packaging of a super square container and dark silver inside. The colour itself had a little more pink than I was expecting but it is still a gorgeous shade of red and if you want something darker you could try layering with another lipstick in a darker shade. It applies really well and is well pigmented so gives a real thick layering of colour without being too heavy on your lips. I know you should apply balm before all lipsticks, but it would emphasise that point with this one as the matte texture does not look as good on lips that are a little dry. I can't wait for the weekend to give this lipstick a night out.

Luxe Beauty | Skin Consultation at L'Occitane

I am a self confessed makeup obsessive, but it isn't to be underestimated how important it is, and how irrelevant awesome makeup is, that your skin is in the best condition it can be so I thought I would show it some love. We are in the run up to spring now and hopefully the weather will start to get warmer and skin will get some much needed vitamin D! Until then, I though I would pop down to my local L'Occitane to get a skin consultation to see how it was coping with this long autumn/winter. First things first, my skin hydration level was checked, I was confident this wouldn't be too woeful as my skin doesn't tend to feel dry apart from in very concentrated areas, I was right, at 62% hydration my skin isn't doing too badly at all. Clair was the lovely lady doing my skin consultation today and she got to work by clearing my skin of face paint using the eye makeup remover and milk makeup remover from the Immortelle range. A top tip I picked up here was when you are putting product onto cotton pads you should use damp cotton pads rather than dry so the product isn't absorbed and you get more onto your skin. The makeup removers worked well and let my skin feeling refreshed and decongested.

Next step was some brightening water which worked as a toner after cleansing, this didn't have a drying feel to it at all which really showcases the benefits of the natural ingredients as I find many other toners can dry out the skin. Serum was then applied (which I forgot to picture, d'oh) which made sure the deeper layers of skin got some pampering too. Another top tip, apply the serum by dabbing your palms on your skin in a bouncing motion rather than rubbing in to encourage the serum to get as deep as possible. Eye balm was applied next to focus on some of the fine lines my eyes are accumulating, this eye balm had a lovely cooling effect that soothed the skin, I imagine this would be lovely on a morning when you are feeling a little delicate. To finish off some precious fluid was used, this was a really interesting product as, unlike a normal moisturiser, it has a very runny consistency rather than being more cream like. The effect of the fluid is a dewy, moisturised texture which has lasted for the last few hours.

My skin feels lovely after that pampering session and I have learnt a lot about treating your skin kindly...hopefully I will reap the awards with a youthful glow when I am older! Thanks Clair from L'Occitane, Stratford upon Avon for your time and all your interesting tips.

A couple of other products I had a good look at were the Brightening Instant Exfoliator, which has a great texture for those who like to really scrub your face clean, and Brightening Moisture Mask, which doesn't need long on your skin to work its magic but really brings out the radiance of your skin and moisturises at the same time.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Beauty | GlossyBox or Birchbox?

There are a few beauty boxes available in the UK now and I have signed up to two so I thought a straight to the point comparison on GlossyBox and Birchbox would be useful.

I think price is a good place to start, especially when you are considering joining up to a monthly fee. However, the price of GlossyBox and Birchbox is the same, both boxes are £10 a month plus £2.95 p&p, with discounts for signing up for more months at once.

Ok, so you pay £2.95 for postage and packaging for both, but how do they stack up against each other? GlossyBox is delivered by Hermes and I tend to find it on my doorstep, which is useful that I don't need to pick it up from a depot somewhere, because I am usually out at work during delivery times, it is not so useful when it is raining and it gets soaked through! The times between GlossyBox taking the payment and dispatching the box can sometimes feel quite lengthy too. Birchbox is delivered by Royal Mail, which saves the box from the rain but it does mean I will always be making a trip to the delivery depot to pick it up. The length of time between payment and dispatch seems reasonable too.

Paying for a beauty box to be delivered each month is a real treat, and so you want it to feel indulgent and worthwhile when you get to unwrapping it. GlossyBox comes in a protective cardboard box for mailing purposes which rips open easily with a perforated tab. Once you open up the outer box there is a shiny box inside that contains the products, it is usually pink with the GlossyBox logo on it but is sometimes with different prints on it to reflect a theme if there is one that month. Inside the glossy box there is tissue paper wrapped around the products, which is sealed with a logo sticker and tied up with ribbon also with the GlossyBox logo on it. Inside the tissue paper you have your products placed on top of shredded, crinkled paper. All in all it provides a nice experience that feels like a real treat. Birchbox also comes in protective cardboard box which rips open easily with a perforated tab. Inside, there is a brown cardboard box with Birchbox printed on it, the box sounds a little boring but I like the basic, pared back, eco feeling of it. Opening the box up there is a fabric drawstring bag that contains the products it, I think the bag is a really nice touch as it can used again.

It is important when choosing a beauty box that they have brands that you like here is a small selection of the brands for each of the boxes...
GlossyBox; Anatomicals, balance me, caudalie, essie, l'occitane, nip+fab, rimmel, Toni & Guy
Birchbox; benefit, dr brandt, korres, Molton Brown, O.P.I, Rodial, teapigs, urbanveda

I have usually been impressed by the quality of the products I each of the boxes, but there have been the odd product in each that either would not be useful to me or has been below expectations. Each box asks you to fill out a beauty profile so they can tailor your box to your profile, every now and then it feels that isn't the case. In the main though I enjoy the surprise of what is in the boxes and trying out products that I may not know about or wouldn't necessarily have chosen myself.

Both boxes offer points for filling out surveys on the products. GlossyBox gives you 50 points per survey and when you earn 1000 points you get a free box, this works out that every fifth box is free. Birchbox offers 5 points per survey and 1 point for every £1 spent (so you get 12 points a months from buying your box) every 100 points gives you £10 to spend in their online shop where you can buy full size products of the samples in the box.

I have found each box to be great value for money, and a lot of fun to receive. I have a GlossyBox review and a Birchbox review on my blog that goes into the products from February's boxes in more detail. Have fun choosing!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Beauty | Useful Tip: Lip Scrub

I frequently get quite dry lips and am left with rough skin on them, which when applying lipstick can be a real nuisance! I heard about lip scrubs a few months ago but I only found expensive ones online and I didn't want to invest until I knew it was worth it. I found this lip scrub from Lush called Mint Julips and essentially it is sugar that you scrub into your lips to get rid of the dry skin, either lick or clean off and then apply your lipstick. I have found this really useful in the cold weather when I am prone to dry lips and the Lush lip scrubs are relatively inexpensive and come in three flabours; mint, bubblegum and popcorn.

Beauty | BirchBox Review - February 2014

This was my first BirchBox so all a completely new experience...

The box itself is quite basic, but in an earthly, eco friendly type way so I really quite liked it as it felt unpretentious. When you open the box up there is a fabric drawstring bag (very much the same feel as the box, earthly and eco friendly) which contains the products. This month Birchbox included a little chocolate in there too...yum! There is a product card included which has a little info on each product a brief description on how to use and these were also some other cards with some tips and tricks for eye liner application and other bits. So, the products this month were...

Beauty Protector - Protect & Oil Review
This oil is to protect hair from heat and UV rays while keeping it healthy. I straighten my hair every day so I always apply heat protector to damp hair before I blow dry. Only a small amount of the oil is needed on damp hair and it is not greasy and heavy. I have used this twice on damp now and it has given my hair a gorgeous healthy shine, I also used it on the ends of my hair when I first got it as they were a little dry and it left it looking hydrated and smoothed the split ends. This oil smells great too!

Eyeko - Skinny Liquid Eyeliner Review
I LOVED this eyeliner! It has a felt tip application brush and goes on super easy. It is perfect for upper lash line application and it lasts all day, it doesn't smudge so you have to be confident in your application as it isn't good for smudging out and each line stays exactly where you put it. 

Nail Rock - Nail Glitter Review
This is a little messy but really good fun to apply, coat your nail with the polish a couple of times and then dip in glitter pot. It gives a great finish but you have to be a bit determined with ensuring your whole nail is covered well. Unlike other glitter polishes, this one comes off reasonably easy too, it is still more awkward to shift than normal polish but much better than some that I have tried. I think this would have been a great look for Christmas as it is a little festive in red, but still great for a weekend or night out.

Urbanveda - Radiance Exfoliating Facial Polish Review
This product has an earthly herbal smell so you feel like you are using a natural organic product. I applied this on to wet skin and massaged in and rinsed, I wasn't overly impressed with this product but it wasn't a bad product either, it was a little does-what-it-says-on-the-tin really. It exfoliated the skin and did leave it feel refreshed, but I thought my skin felt a little dry and tight afterwards and I reached straight for my moisturiser! It isn't a hugely expensive product so it I imagine it would be good for taking along on holiday but not as part of a frequent beauty regime, for my skin anyway.

Gilchrist & Soames - The London Collection Shower Gel Review
On the product card, the scent of this product is described as invigorating which is something I would agree with. There are lots of lovely scents in this shower gel perfect for waking you up and refreshing you in your morning shower. It foams up nicely so it gives a luxurious feel and leaves the skin feeling hydrated and smooth.

I really enjoyed this box and there was a mention on one of the cards of an exciting collaboration coming up in March which has enticed me to get another! 

Beauty | GlossyBox Review - February 2014

February's GlossyBox had a Valentines theme so the box had lips printed all over...

As an extra treat there was a Lindt chocolate bar included, which makes sense because Valentines is not Valentines without chocolate!!

So moving on to this months products:

Nougat London - Sparkling Body Shimmer Review
I have to say that my first impressions of this product weren't great. The packaging and sickly pink colour reminded me of something you would have got with a Barbie when you were younger. This is a sample size product so I don't know if the full size product packaging will be any better. The product is runny so be careful when tipping the bottle as you can end up in a glittery mess! When applied to skin it gives a very light and sheer shimmer. I applied to my shoulders and décolletage and it gave a very flattering finish, and the application was easy, unlike some other body shimmers, you don't end up which patches of built up glitter. I was pleasantly surprised with this body shimmer as down to the colour and packaging I wouldn't pick this off the shelf, but as for the application and end result it is a really great product and it will be well used as we gear up for summer!

Toni & Guy Hair Meet Wardrobe - Stick It Up Gum Review
This was a full size product from Toni & Guy, packaged in a box and the product is in a plastic tub as you usually find hair wax in. I wouldn't tend to but this type of hair product as I usually look for shine and swing enhancing products, but giving this one a try was interesting. Using it to tame stray hairs in an up do it does the job well without creating a wet look. When your hair is down you can use it to create volume by working through the roots with your head upside down...it certainly provides volume! I personally found it a bit heavy in my hair but I may have used too much and need to perfect my technique still. As I am currently growing out a fringe I will be using this when pinning it back to keep the hair in place.

Ciaté London - Paint Pot in Red Hot Chilli Review
I am already a big fan of Ciaté and this is a welcome addition to my ever growing nail varnish collection. As with the other paints from this brand, the application is easy and even on the first stroke, the coverage is really good, requiring only a touch up on the second stroke. The colour, Red Hot Chilli, is a really fiery red and just perfect for date night or just to perk you up a bit as we drag through all this awful weather!

Maybelline New York - Master Kajal Liner Review
I haven't tried a Kajal liner before and from what I can tell it is essentially the same as Kohl liner but creamier. This liner is jet black and applying it is really easy, it lasts well and easily smudges to create the desired effect. I found it easy to apply on the upper lash line which is something I can usually only do with liquid, gel or felt tip liners. I also find some liners can irritate the skin around my eyes but I had no reaction to this at all.

Miners Cosmetics - Cocktail Kiss Review
Miners Cosmetics is not a brand I have come across before but on the product card in the box it is hailed as a celeb favourite. This lip gloss tasted chocolatey when I applied it and it was quite heavy and sticky on the lips. I have tried lighter glosses which feel more natural and light and this didn't wow me tbh, but this is £2.99 and it leaves a nice shimmer effect. I would say this is a cheap and cheerful product and every makeup bag needs a few of those.

I thought this months GlossyBox was great value for money as there were 4 full size products and all the products were interesting and useful...I wonder what March will bring?

You can sign up to GlossyBox here

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Luxe Beauty | Make Over at Space NK with Emma Hardie Facial

I have just got back from having brilliant time with the girls at space NK Stratford-upon-Avon, and naturally, I didn't leave empty handed...

There was an event on today where Space NK were offering complimentary make overs if you booked in beforehand. When I got there is was handed a glass of fizz (always welcome!) and Kate from Emma Hardy treated me a fantastic facial. Now I feel like I may have been kept out of the loop on Emma Hardy as this was the first time I have come across the brand, but it won't be my last!  The facial started off using the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm, this was absolutely divine, the smell was delicious and the oils gave the balm a luxurious spa feel to it. My skin felt lovely and refreshed and super smooth afterwards. Then Kate used the Emma Hardie Moringa Foaming Cleansing Wash which really made sure all the last remnants of my make up was well and truly adiosed, this foam felt very natural unlike others due to the natural foaming ingredients used. Again, the cleansing wash felt very luxurious and premium. After my face was thoroughly cleansed, the Emma Hardie AM/PM Treatment Moisturiser was applied, leaving my skin super smooth and well primed for make up. I had a really interesting chat with Kate about Emma Hardy and how although only having been started up 4 years ago, it has already gained a strong reputation within the beauty industry having won 17 awards so far. The Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm was my most favourite product used and interestingly it can be used in a variety of ways such as a face mask as well as a cleanser and it can also be used to fight against skin conditions such as eczema due to all the natural ingredients balancing skin to a normal healthy level. If you want to find out more about Emma Hardie then here is a link to the website for more info... http://www.emmahardie.com


After being pampered with Emma Hardie goodies, it was then time for my make over curtesy of Pam (Space NK, Stratford-upon-Avon) using a number of different products. The products I took note of because I really liked them were the following...

By Terry - Wrinkle Control Serum Foundation in Fresh Fair 
This foundation gave an absolutely flawless but natural finish. It doesn't feel heavy and Pam found the perfect colour match in Fresh Fair. When I need a new foundation I will be investing in this one as it really did give the perfect finish and I would say it is worth the high price.

Laura Mercia - Eye Basics in Buff
I have been searching for the perfect nude eye look for a while and I think I have found it! Very easy to apply, builds up to create different looks, matte finish and long lasting, this is a bit of a revelation for me. I am very excited about wearing this and I think it will be a great natural look for work and for day time.

Kevyn Aucoin - The Expert Lip Colour in Bloodroses
This lipstick was such a gorgeous colour, a really deep, dark red and even better it moisturised my lips too and lasted a good few hours. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the colour, hopefully the picture below does it some justice. This is an expensive lipstick but I really loved it and I think it might have to be a payday present to myself!

Hourglass - Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Glow
This is a new product to me but it is applied on top of your makeup to reflect light to cover up imperfections and highlight. It really was interesting to see the effect and I think it is a great product for photo finish make up for when you really want to make an impression. It comes in a variety of colours that offer a slightly different glow, I went for a translucent one but there were others with more colour in them.

I bought a few things afterwards and received these product as a complimentary gift so more reviews to follow! Thanks Space NK, Stratford upon Avon and Kate from Emma Hardie for a great and educating time!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Luxe Beauty | Smashbox - Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow Review

Smashbox Limitless 15 Hour Wear Cream Shadow in Icon was another product I bought from the smashbox range. I am a huge fan of cream eye shadow as it is so easy and fast to apply and the good ones stay in place for hours. This is definitely a good one, the colour is very rich in pigment and the cream gives great coverage, and I love the fact that this shadow doesn't crease and lasts perfectly. I think this is a great evening out eye shadow and I will be stocking up on some other colours.

Luxe Beauty | Smashbox - Limitless Eye Liner Review

Smashbox has been gaining in popularity in the UK over the past year and so I made a few purchases to see what it was all about. I bought the smashbox Limitless Eye Liner in Smoke and Indigo Ink, they came in matte finish boxes and each, very usefully, have a sharpener built in to the lid. They have a very creamy texture which is easy to work with to create the look you want but I wouldn't say they would be a subtle choice if you were paring down your eyes, to emphasise your lips say. The staying power of this eye liner isn't the best I have come across but by no means terrible, I would recommend checking the mirror after a few hours wear as it does smudge easily. All in all I am quite a fan of the eye liner mainly due to the versatility if you were wanting to create a show stopping eye look. Smoke is a great colour to compliment a smokey eye look, it isn't has bold as black but still dark, I would say similar to a charcoal black and it has a slight shimmer to it. Indigo Ink was a lot bluer than I thought it was but if you are looking for a blue eye liner without it being too out there as it verges on a midnight type blue.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Life | Graze Review

I have been having Graze delivered for over a year now and I would highly recommend it! I work in an office at a desk job and, as I am sure many people in that environment can relate to, I got in a bit of a food rut. Every morning I would pack my bag with a satsuma, an apple and a sandwich and I would have the same thing day in and day out Monday to Friday. I came across Graze by chance and signed both my husband (another desk jobber) and myself up to a trial and haven't looked back since! The main reasons for me being such a big Graze fan are:
  • You have a different selection of snacks each week so no getting bored of the same thing
  • It is delivered in a box that fits through your letter box so it is relatively hassle free - I get mine delivered on Saturdays so they are there in time for Monday morning
  • If you are looking for something healthy there is a healthy option that can be selected
  • At ~£4 a week you get 4 punnets of snacks for less than the cost of a drink in the pub!
  • If there are any snacks or specific ingredients you don't like you can select for them not to be sent - I have binned the garlic olives as they aren't very office friendly!

You can sign up to Graze here

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Luxe Beauty | Valentines Day Makeup - Givenchy Le Rouge Review

So we are in the run up to Valentines Day, and although every year I tell my husband it is commercialised and a money pit but...I fall in to the trap of wanting to dress up and do something every year!

I love any chance to raid the makeup kit and go to town with the face paint so I always think Valentines is the perfect excuse. I strictly abide by the eyes or mouth rule which makes V day difficult - surely this day (if not most days) is the time to rock some seriously sexy red lips. I have far too many red lipsticks due to forever being on the hunt for that perfect red but my absolute fave that I always go running back to is Givenchy Le Rouge lipstick in Grenat Initié. It is gorgeously dark without being burgundy, I love the matte finish and to top it off the packaging is to die for - black leather and metal - wow!

For eyes I use Bobby Brown Metallic Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Goldstone as it has a very subtle shimmer and you can build it up to whatever look you are going for, with a creamy brown eyeliner and some mascara it is a great eye look that it subtle enough with bold lips.

Topped off with some luminiser and subtle cream blush...that will be my Valentines look.

Beauty | Balenciaga Florabotanica Review

Ok, I admit it...I initially wanted this perfume because I am a gimmick victim and I loved the bottle. It is funky and quirky and a little Alice in Wonderland, but the perfume is pretty good too! It is a strong scent which I tend to wear on weekends rather than to work (in my opinion this verges towards a sexy scent). When it is first sprayed on it is very musky, almost herbally, but given a couple of minutes it settles down to being very wearable and the hints of rose become more prominent...perfect for evenings out.

Beauty | Paul & Joe Hair and Body Mist Review

A while ago I became slightly obsessed with the idea of a hair fragrance. Having long hair I loved the idea of each time my hair moved getting a waft of fragrance, and I also liked the idea of being able to refresh my hair when those unwanted smells latch on to it like grimy cities and smoke can. The benefit of a fragrance specially for your hair is that it isn't as harsh as a standard perfume which can dry out your hair. After searching around I found that at the time there weren't many hair mists out there, so I bought Paul & Joe's offering for around £20. The great thing about this scent is that you can use it as your main perfume too so you don't have to worry about pairing scents together, it is a light floral scent with cute and pretty packaging and bottle. I found it didn't seem to last all day so it did require another spray throughout the day, but it was a lovely scent for the warmer months and I can imagine this would suit all ages. I have even used it to give me clothes a freshen when heading straight out from work!

Beauty | Gandini Orange Blossom and Leaves Colonia Spray Review

I bought this perfume on a whim online as I liked the sound of a citrus based perfume and the brand was well established, Gandini is an Italian brand dating back to 1896. This perfume isn't for the faint hearted! Personally, I quite like it but it is very strong, could almost be considered over powering so use sparingly. I have worn this to work before and can still smell it at the end of a long day so I would say it is long lasting. I have had plenty of compliments when wearing this as it is very unique in smell and is fresh, so a lovely compliment to spring and summer, but with an earthy undertone so it feels like a very grown up scent.

Beauty | Kérastase Nectar Thermique Review

My ghd's were a great investment...I use them almost every day. My hair require serious taming as it is that awkward not quite wavy enough to be boho and far too frizzy to leave so I have been through numerous products over the years to find something to protect my hair from the big heat I subject it to. After years of searching, I am quite convinced I have found the one. I first came across Nectar Thermique about 6 months ago when I went to a salon for a blow dry, afterwards my hair felt so fantastic I asked about all of the products that were used. I needed a new heat protector as my usual spray had run out so I spent a little bit more (it is ~£15) and bought this. I use it when my hair is damp and use a generous dollop massaged into my hair and then combed through before blow drying and straightening. It is very light so you don't feel it weighing your hair down and after 6 months use it has made a real difference to the health of my hair, less split ends and more shine. This is a forever product for me, I can't imagine another product coming close in spite of its high price. I have found one bottle lasts me about 4 months which is really good going!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Life | New York, New York!

It is New York Fashion Week so I thought this would be a good chance to reflect highlights from my recent trip to the big apple for the fantabulous 30th Birthday of the Other Half (OH).

It was early December so the Christmas extravaganza was in full flow and the window displays were shining, it was snowing (in a nice romantic way, not the life threatening polar vortex way) and thankfully not too windy. We stayed at the Hilton Times Square and we had a brilliant city view overlooking Times Square although mostly we just saw snow. 

Starting with hotel then, it was exactly what you would want for a 4 night stay in a city you have never been to before. The location was perfect for getting around with the majority of shops you would be looking for within a 15minute walking radius. The room was clean and modern, with a comfortable bed (essential if you walk as much as we did) and quiet for a good nights sleep. The staff in the hotel were very friendly with a good knowledge of the city to help us find our way to where we wanted to go. We didn't book breakfast at the hotel as we wanted to get out in the morning and find new places when possible but we did indulge in room service one morning which was delicious and huge (I like pancakes big time but even I need help from OH to finish my portion).

The first day we headed over to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) as I had forever obsessed over Van Gogh's Starry Night painting and there wasn't a chance in hell I was missing our on seeing it. As we worked our way through the various galleries being shocked and in awe in equal measures we finally got to the painting I had been waiting for...and it was worth the wait! It was genuinely breathtaking and, unlike the Mona Lisa in Paris, you could get right up close without dozens of people elbowing you out of the way. There was also an interesting Magritte exhibition on which I found surprisingly interesting despite some of the more out there pieces which weren't really to my taste.

After having my mind blown by modern art we headed back down 5th Avenue to have a look at all of the window displays and sought out the big names like Barney's, Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman, it was every shopaholics dream! I had the best day and then to top it off we managed to get to Macy's on their 25% off everything day - the 2 hours in there is a bit of a blur, but I came out of there with a LOT of bags! 

I thought the day wouldn't get any better but then we found the TKT booth in the middle of Times Square, this is definitely somewhere I would recommend a visit to if want to catch a show. Each day at 3pm they start selling the tickets for shows that haven't sold for that night. We bagged two tickets for Chicago half price for that evening...the day got better! The show was brilliant at the Ambassador Theatre, my face hurt from smiling by the end of it, and to finish the night off we rolled out of the theatre straight across the road to an Italian restaurant called Da Marino. What a find! There was live music and a great atmosphere topped with tasty food, I am sure you can find somewhere cheaper or better food but it was great and not too pricey so just what you need when you fall out of the theatre at 10pm in need of food!

The next day it was OH's 30th Birthday, so we had booked lunch at a 3 Michelin starred restaurant called Le Bernadin. Wow! From the cocktails to the dessert it was a taste sensation! Unlike other Michelin starred restaurants we have visited in th UK it was reasonably relaxed, and not overly pretentious so it was an enjoyable experience with amazing food. 

Later that day we headed for a change of scenery so we headed south towards Greenwich Village and wandered around the shops eventually finding ourselves needing dinner and we stumbled across a restaurant called Bleecker Kitchen & Co. which most certainly deserves a mention. At the time they had only been open a couple of weeks, the food was very tasty, I had a pulled pork slider with fries, delicious! The bartender rustled us up some cocktails on request and we also were given free dessert as it was a special birthday. The lemon meringue pie was amazing!!

The biggest discovery for me in NYC was Sephora. For those who don't know what Sephora is then it is a shop of dreams, scented, blushed and glossy dreams. It is a cosmetics store that beats any other cosmetic store, it was the most wonderful moment finding Sephora! I had to reign in the spending at this point as OH was getting a little stressed at the spend rate, but I managed to grab a couple of great buys which I will review on my blog soon. 

While we were in NYC we went to see the New York Nicks at Madison Square Gardens play the Chicago Bulls. I would recommend anyone to catch a game even if they aren't a huge fan as the atmosphere is electric and the entertainment was non-stop. I really got into the game and was cheering on the Nicks at full volume within 5 minutes!

Other highlights were the top of the rock at the Rockefella Centre and the 30% off the whole store at J Crew (needless to say we had to buy another suitcase to check in on the way home)...I had the time of my life in New York.