Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Luxe Beauty | Kevyn Aucoin Makeover

Last week I popped in to my local Space NK as they had a makeup artist in from Kevyn Aucoin giving free makeovers. I was interested in the Kevyn Aucoin makeover in particular as I only own one product from the Kevyn Aucoin range, The Expert Lip Colour in Bloodroses (I absolutely love it!!), and I wanted to learn more about the range. I have been looking at the different products within the range for a while now, and what I have found is that they are very classic tones, albeit with an on-trend feel, but they will last through the future trends also. For that reason, the products are a great investment, but it is also that reason as to why I don't own more as I do seem to go with what is hot at the time. When I went in I wanted to try some burnt red eyes so the makeup artist, Emilie, used the Eye Shadow Single Matte in  Burgundy (109) and Faded Heather (108) to blend out. I also spotted these lovely metallic loose powders as well so the Loose Shimmer Shadows in Rose Quartz was used as well to round off my eyes, but Emilie said that you can also mix some in with your foundation to give it a glow (I will be trying that in the summer!). The Precision Liquid Liner and Eye Pencil Primatif were used in Basic Black, which both gave a great result but unfortunately my eyes reacted to this product which is not unusual as my eyes are a little sensitive. The Essential Mascara added a subtle amount of volume and curl without looking too over the top. The end result was really lovely and I am hoping I can recreate it at home!

Other products used in the makeover; Liquid Airbrush Foundation, which gave a brilliant coverage with only a small amount of product. The blusher was the Pure Powder Glow in Shadore. The look was finished off with a light touch of Matte Lip Colour in Tenacious and a dash of The Lip Gloss in Vesuvian.

So this was my finished face...

There is only so much makeup can do but I think Emilie did a great job, what do you think?

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Life | Tips and Tricks to Fight Stress

Stress can be quite a drag when it has its grip on you and over the years through high school to uni and then on to a professional career...stress has definitely reared its ugly head on occasion. In this time I have researched, heard about and developed my own ways of dealing with stress so I thought I would put all these little tips and tricks in to a post and hopefully one might resonate with you so you have something to combat stress the next time it crops up...
I can't escape quoting Legally Blonde now “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.” Or we could just leave it as happy people aren’t letting stress get to them? It really is as simple as that, physical exercise releases the happy hormones. Also, exercising muscles can release the tension in muscles that comes with stress, so it can help relieve that tension headache. Just search stress and exercise on the internet to read up.

Use Your Imagination - Senses have memories
This tip was one I picked up at a training course a few years ago, and I have used it successfully ever since. Thinking of each of your senses; smell, taste, see, hear, touch. We use these senses all the time, so it is only natural that these senses have memories associated to them, and in turn, an associated feeling. So take a moment to yourself in a quiet place and think back to a time when you were relaxed, calm, happy, unconcerned about life's trials. Think about what was happening at that time; what could you smell or taste? Was there a song playing or another sound that you can remember? Do you have a picture of that place or moment? Can you remember the feel of something? You need to find something that has such a strong association that just by smelling something that you remember at that time, or seeing a picture of the place, you can take yourself back to that moment of calm. This is probably difficult to imagine right now so I will share my own example and maybe you could find your own memory to relate back to.
I was lucky enough to have a honeymoon of a life time in the Maldives, and a moment from that holiday that I remember was after a relaxing massage in a hut over the water with a glass floor. It was one of those hugely expensive, gimmicky honeymoon massage treatments for couples, so we both had a massage and then there was a bath filled with oils and all sorts of skin enriching ingredients at the end, overlooking nothing but endless Indian ocean. I remember so vividly that moment of sitting there, completely content, without a care in the world, and I remember the smell of Jasmine from the flowers that were in the bath. So now, whenever the pressure is on in work and things are reaching boiling point, I just pop the kettle on and pour a cup of Jasmine tea. I sit there with the cup, smelling the Jasmine, and I instantly feel calmer. Now that is my own personal memory, yours may be from your childhood, it may be a song that you used to sing along with your friends to in Uni or even just something very simple like a picture of your favourite place.
Relax each muscle to get to sleep
I find one of the worst thing about times of stress can be struggling to switch off at night and get to sleep, and lack of sleep only makes things worse! So a technique I use to try and switch my mind off is this; I shuffle in to as comfortable position as I can so that all my muscles feel relaxed. Once I feel like there is no pressure anywhere and I am comfortable I start at my toes and imagine each muscle relaxing, working my way up my body to my forehead. You may get distracted and think of something else and if that happens then start back at your toes again and work your way up. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn't, but at least I feel like I am doing something rather than that helpless insomniac feeling of trying to get to sleep desperately.
This technique was something I used throughout my exams in high school and college when I felt overwhelmed with workload. Go to a quiet room, close the curtains, turn off any harsh lighting and light a candle. If you have some relaxing music (preferably instrumental) you could also put this on if you can't shut out exterior noise. Get yourself sitting down comfortably and focus on the candle light and breathe deeply. With each deep breath in, think of one of your stresses, and as you exhale, imagine you are breathing out the issue. Some issues can take more than one breath!

There are lots of ways to fight stress, and I have just pointed out a few that I use, but everyone is different. Sometimes just taking some time out for yourself and having a bath or lying still can help you relax. What do you do to relax and combat stress?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Luxe Beauty | Tom Ford Lip Colour Sheer in Firecracker Review

Firstly, lets just address the packaging It may just be the most beautiful lip stick container ever. Super chic in cream and gold and the material feels premium and expensive...which might be because it is  little pricey. I took advantage of a discount code for department store and I knew that my purchase was going to be Tom Ford Lipstick in Firecracker. It is the first Tom Ford Lipstick I have bought and, unfortunately for my bank balance, it is unlikely to be the last!

I decided to go for Firecracker as I thought it would be perfect for the orange lip trend of Spring/Summer 2014. The colour is a deep orangey red which is very pigmented, and wears well. Don't be fooled by the name 'Lip Colour Sheer' as the product actually gives great coverage with quite a creamy texture and I wouldn't describe it as sheer as you can see from the swatch. I found glossiness of the product to wear off quite easily, but the colour stains and stays for a good length of time.

Hmmm, I wonder which colour from the Lip Colour Sheer collection I should try next?

Luxe Beauty | My Current Top 10 Beauty Products

I have tons of beauty products but there are ones that you always go back to or some that just stand out, here are my top 10 beauty products that I am loving at the moment...

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
These amazing ready to use pads exfoliate, tone and brighten all at the same time using a blend of ingredients that include glycolic acid, cucumber and lemon peel in the perfect amount to be just right for daily use!

I sound like a broken record...but I really can't get enough of this cleansing balm! The refreshing scent, luxurious texture and gorgeous result. If you haven't tried this cleansing balm then you need to!

Ole Henriksen Truth To Go Wipes
I know using cleansing wipes is a little bit taboo but these are just too lovely. They smell like orange sherbet and they have a whole host of ingredients to keep your skin clean and glowing. I like to use them before the cleansing balm to get rid of the majority of my makeup. The resealable packet means they are great for chucking in your gym bag and travelling.

Benefit Gimme Brow
I have reviewed this fantastic product before (here), the easiest and fastest way to perfect brows...I am just a little bit addicted!

YSL Touche Eclat Wild Edition
I simply do not believe there is anyone who hasn't heard all about the Touche Eclat amazingness. Well, it just got a whole lot more amazing with the addition of leopard print (swoon), not only does it look even more gorgeous, it is also much easier to get enough grip to take the lid off (especially when you have makeup and moisturising cream all over your hands!).

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner
Another product I have already reviewed quickly (here), this makes winged eye liner looks so easy it could be an every day look!

Colour Club Gala's Gems Nail Polish in Heirloom Pearls
I got this nail polish in this months BirchBox and it is perfect for Spring 2014! It hits the white nails trend with a hint of cream to make them look very classy indeed.

Real Techniques Buffing Brush
This brush was part of the Real Techniques core collection, it is to be used with powder but I also use it to buff out liquid foundation after using the foundation brush too to get a real natural finish.

Dior Addict Lip Glow Colour Awakening Lipbalm
This is such a gloriously luscious luxurious lip balm that I just can't get enough of! It looks so very pretty in my bag and it leaves my lips looking at their very best.

Payot Pate Grise
This is my miracle product for beating those below-the-surface blemishes from rearing their ugly head. Just a dab of this over night when you feel a red sore bump and you will see nothing more of it by the morning. It only works when the spot is below the surface though so stay vigilant!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Beauty | Skincare Basics - Why Are you Doing What You Are Doing?

The secret to a perfect look is having perfect skin as a base. We all know about what we should be doing to keep our skin clear, even, moisturised, etc. but do we know why? This post is going back to the basics of skin care and summarising why each step is important.
Why cleanse?
During the day the skin collects all sorts on it; makeup, impurities, oils and dead skin. All of these can equate to blemishes and clogged pores. Surprisingly, cleansing before bed also helps towards keeping your skin from aging as during the night is when skin goes through a recover and renew phase, if is unable to do this efficiently if it has a days worth of grime in its way. 

I always have a tub of Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm where ever I go, it is absolutely divine with it’s gorgeous scent and luxurious texture.
Why exfoliate?
Exfoliating is not something I would do daily, but certainly I aim to exfoliate 2/3 times a week. The main benefit being it removes all the dead skin from the surface and this will help to prevent pores from being clogged up. Also, in areas where hair is removed, exfoliating helps prevent in grown hairs.
My go to exfoliator is Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose In It as it works really well on blackheads and has a herbal/menthol frangrance.
Why tone?
As with all cosmetic products, there are so many different types out there doing slightly different things. The many benefits include removal of excess makeup and oils, balancing the ph levels on the surface of your skin (although some argue your skin is more than capable of doing this by itself) and closing up pores on your face after cleansing. Also, the moisture on your face from the toner enables the products you use afterwards to be absorbed easily (technically water can do this job for you too).
My favourite product is the L'Occitane Immortelle Essental Water as it feels so refreshing in the morning.
Why use serum?
Serum is formulated so it has very small molecules that can penetrate through to the deeper layers of your skin. These layers are skin that will be surface skin in a few weeks we want to keep that layer as healthy as we can for when it makes an appearance!  Only a small amount of product is needed per application as they have very high concentrations of ingredients, so the small tubes/tubs will last a long time. Again, there are many types of serum, there are some to target specific skin problems and are meant to be used for just a few weeks at a time, or there are others which can be used daily.

One of my favourite serums is Super Facialist by Una Brennan Vitamin C+ Overnight Repair Radiance Capsules as the capsules have the perfect amount of product in for an application and my face feels lovely when I wake up the morning after. The texture is a little different than other serums, which tend to be more gel like, as this product has more of a silicon feel.

Why use moisturiser?
Just as we want to look after the layers of skin that will be on the surface in the future, we don’t want to leave the skin that is on show right now behind! Moisturising creams specifically target the surface layer of skin and act as a barrier to keep hydration on the surface. It is best to apply after your serum has dried (about 3 mins) and it is always useful to find a product that will focus on your skin type.

I sometimes wonder if I could live without Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, I feel genuine love for this product.

Why use a different moisturiser at night?
You may have seen some moisturising creams state that they are a day cream or a night cream and the difference between the two is quite important. During the day your skin is being subjected to lots of external environmental changes such as UV levels and temperature changes. So during the day you need a cream which will help protect your skin against these changes. Whereas at night, as I mentioned earlier, your skin is working to recover from the stress it has had to endure during the day, so a night cream will contain enabling ingredients for this such as Vitamin C and retinol, but will not have an SPF as it is not required.

I like the No7 Protect and Perfect Night Cream, it works really well with my skin skin type which is Normal/Combination.

I hope you have found this post useful, what is your day to day skincare routine? Any steps you would add?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Life | Should Women Take Protein Supplements?

This post will be tackling something a little different than I usually do, protein. There are many benefits of protein which include healthy skin, nails and hair, however the benefits of protein are much further reaching than that (like great skin hair and nails isn't enough??). 

I am not a gym bunny by any stretch, but I am aware that keeping myself fit and healthy is required, and with problem knees (yup, they dislocate easily) I need to maintain my muscle tone. I do see going to the gym as a bit of a chore. Although I definitely feel the endorphine rush when I leave, it is not pleasant when you hobble around the next day aching (we have all been there!). This is where protein comes in. There are many associations to body building, muscles, men only, even as far as steroids when you mention protein shakes to someone not in the know, but the truth is protein shakes are a great way of helping your body to recover after a work out. Not only does this make sure you can go again the next day if you wish, it also means you won't be struggling to get out of bed! 

Firstly, what are protein shakes? There are lots of different types, however the most popular for muscle recovery is whey protein, which is a supplement of amino acid that aids muscle recovery after a workout (you have about a 2 hour window to have a protein shake after a workout for it to be effective, although some argue protein at any time is just as effective). Mass gainers, which can typically contain creatine, are what most people associate with protein shakes, and they do-what-they-say-on-the-tin and help build muscle. It would recommend whey protein shakes after a tough workout, leave the mass gainers to the body builders and those wanting to build impressive muscles! 

Now obviously, there are many sources of protein, but I find shakes to be the most convenient for immediately after a workout. There are also protein bars, which I have to admit don’t taste brill, but they are also a quick source of protein for when you are on the go. Other alternatives are protein porridge, hot chocolate protein mixes, protein pancake mixes, there are all sorts of innovative ways to take protein which you can find here. Always read the ingredients list though and ensure there isn’t high levels of sugar in there and watch how many carbs are in there too. Some powders have added ingredients to act as a meal replacement too which can aid weight loss, I have to say I have found this effective as a breakfast replacement (especially when it gets towards bikini time!). I use Impact Whey Protein from as it is great value and tastes good too (it comes in a few different flavours but my fave is smooth chocolate!). They also do a great womens version called Max Elle True Diet which has some extra ingredients such as green tea extract, which helps to increase metabolism, and CLA which reduces the potential for your body to store fat. Max Elle True Diet is slightly more expensive but a great investment if you have a weight loss target.

This post was sponsored by and press samples were supplied.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Luxe Beauty | Leighton Denny High Performance Nail Colour in Attention Seeker, Just Perfect & Statement Maker Review

Leighton Denny High Performance Nail Colour's have a whole range available at Marks and Spencer's currently and I was really excited to try out 3 colours.

From left to right: Attention Seeker, Just Perfect, Statement Maker.

The Leighton Denny High Performance Colours apply very easily and full coverage is achieved with 2 coats. I have had the polish on for nearly a day and so far there has been no chipping and it is wearing well (I will update with how long this lasts). 

Getting to the specifics on colours; 
Attention Seeker is a gorgeous deep pink with plenty of shimmer in there, perfect for a summers night.
Just Perfect is a lovely blush pink that screams spring and welcoming colour back in to life! Out of the three this would have to be my favourite.
Statement Maker is another shimmery colour, with maybe a little more glitter than Attention Seeker, in a nearly khaki green. Personally I see this a great evening shade that will subtly complete a look.

Until the 16th April Marks & Spencers are running a Beauty Discovery Event, which includes the promotion, buy 2 Leighton Denny products and receive a free pink collection gift set. T&C's apply. Click here.

Luxe Beauty | Discover Beauty Now!

Recently I took a wander in to an M&S store which was not my local store...Wow! I have been missing out big time, I was so surprised to see the range of beauty products on offer there. Even better, Marks & Spencer are running a Beauty Discovery Event until 16th April which includes FREE GIFT with purchase promotions on a whole load of brands. Some brands that will be tempting me include: Leighton Denny, REN, Jurlique, Bliss, Philip Kingsley and Murad, just to name a few!

You can shop the Marks and Spencer Beauty Discovery Event here

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Beauty | Nude Lipstick Reviews

Nude lips is one of my favourite go to lip looks as it is so versatile. It is perfect for work, day time and even night time when you are working an eye popping look. I have four nude lipsticks that I use so I thought it'd be useful to compare...

L'Oréal - Collection Privée by Eva Review
So the thinking behind Collection Privée is that L'Oréal used 6 famous women, who work with the brand and all have different skin tones, to produce the perfect nude lipstick for each of them. This is the tricky thing about the colour nude, it's a different colour on different people. So I reckon L'Oréals plan was bordering on genius! I bought the nude developed for Eva Longoria as her skin tone was the best match to mine (simple way to pick the perfect colour, right?) and I have to say this lipstick is spot on. The lipstick is highly pigmented so it provides excellent coverage and it has a slight shine to it to make your lips look extra luscious. My only complaint with this lipstick is that I find it slightly drying but it is still my go-to for work lippy when I want to look professional and polished.

Revlon - Super Lustrous Lipstick in Mauve It Over Review
I bought this one a while ago and I still chuck it in my bag now and again as it is a little bit of an old faithful. What I love about this lipstick is the matte finish and although it is a little darker than the L'Oréal one, I like this one for adding subtle colour, particularly when I want my makeup focus on my eyes. I tend to wear this one one weekends and evenings rather than work as it creeps towards the trendy side of things. This lipstick doesn't feel heavy and sticky on your lips like some matte ones can, it gives good coverage and doesn't dry my lips out.

Maybelline - Colour Sensational in Velvet Beige
Velvet Beige is darker still with a little bit of shine, I would say for my skin tone it is on the very edge of nude. I find this lipstick very moisturising though and sometimes it just seems to suit my mood if I feel like going understated on all counts and with its pink undertones it put a little colour in my face.

Smashbox - Matte Latte Review
This is the most expensive lipstick of the four and so as you would expect the packaging is that little more luxurious so it is worth a mention, the casing it is a matte black in a very square shape with a dark silver metal effect on the inside. The lipstick itself is matte and provides a good covering, I would say this is the mos pigmented of all four and it is easy to apply evenly. It doesn't leave your lips sticky and feels very light when it is on. It can be a little drying though so I always apply lip balm first.

The swatches below are the following from left to right: L'Oréal, Revlon, Maybelline, Smashbox.

Life | New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week is my favourite. There is something a bit daring and fearless when it comes to NYFW but you still get a feel for clothes that you would actually wear. I love browsing the pictures of the street fashion and seeing what will be coming up in a few months. Unfortunately, as much as I submerge myself in fashion, the reality is that it is unlikely I will ever be so on trend. The brutal truth is that fashion looks best on women of a slim build, clothes just hang in the perfect way to show them off. At 5'8" and a UK size 14, I definitely don't fall into the slim category, and my curves (as seems to be the 'in' thing at the moment) detract from beautiful prints and edgy tailoring. Vivienne Westwood has been one of the best designers I have come across to flatter curves, but still it seems that curvy women are destined to show off their figure rather than their clothes. Still, I would love to get to NYFW and give some of those clothes a run for their money even if they would only fit one arm!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Luxe Beauty | Benefit - Gimme Brow Review

So, big brows are big at the moment. Which is great news for me, as I have quite sizeable ones! Unfortunately they are a little sparse at the inner end, and a little unruly, so to perfect my brows I always need some Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, an eyebrow pencil and a tidy up with a Tweezerman eyebrow brush. Well, life just got a little bit easier...drum roll please for Benefit's Gimme Brow. As soon as this product launched I knew I was going to have to give it a go. Gone are the painstaking mini strokes with a pencil to emulate hairs, and getting frustrated when your eyebrows still appear drawn on. Gimme Brow does the tidy and colour all at once whilst giving a super natural look. It works by the gel volumising the eyebrows that are already there, this includes the really fines hairs that you can't see. The product is water resistant too (Phew...I still have flashbacks from an unfortunate rainy day when my eyebrows began to drip down my face. Yes, it was as unpleasant as it sounds!) and long lasting so it provides a fuller brow all day. I tried to take a picture (sorry about the scary eyes!) of one brow au naturel and  one brow Gimme Brow'ed...can you figure out which is which? 

(hint: the one on the left has had a little boost)