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The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Collection #BloggersSkincareGuide‏


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The Body Shop approached me at just the right time to discuss skincare advice for 20-somethings as I've been on a major skin hype recently. Major! It all began when I hit 26 and found out that from the age of 25, it's all downhill for your skin elasticity. Hoping to continue to party around the world well into my 30s, I want my body to be a temple and so it all begins with your face. It's the thing everyone sees the most, the basis of all of my beauty buys, and gets the most abuse from my lifestyle. Daily full coverage foundation, office air-con or heating, my commute pollution and the sun's rays all contribute to those fine lines, gaping pores, dry patches and stiff, dehydrated skin. I was also fed up of my budget skincare routine but not ready to land £85 on a face oil. My micellar water never left me feeling totally fresh-faced and my moisturiser sunk in straight away without a trace. Combination didn't even cover the sensitive, tight areas like my forehead and cheeks, but then my T-zone could move around any foundation by 2pm.

Throwing money at the problem is no way to begin a skincare overhaul; I needed to get my entire strategy in check. I started to read the cheat sheets on Caroline Hiron's blog and woah, I was finally awoken to the definition of skin care. I previously thought 'less was more' when it came to applying products to your skin, but Caroline's 5-7 step routine involves a concoction of oils and acids to remove all of the day's harsh effects and then to inject the hydration back in. Finally I could scrutinise an ingredients list, understand which products to choose for myself and take out the noise from a beauty world full of jargon like 'anti-ageing'. You can't physically age backwards, but you can take careful care of your skin, especially with the fast-paced and demanding life of your '20s.

And that's where the Drops Of Youth collection came in, much to the delight of someone who has been stalking The Body Shop emails for a discount code for months. There are so many good things said about the Bouncy Sleeping Mask and I was also shopping around for an eye treatment, so alongside landing £100 on a new Hirons-approved regime (I'll blog more on my haul next), the DOY collection was a seamless addition to the mix. The organic collection boasts that it aims to restore and replenish skin, and as someone that feels like they've aged ten years in the past two years, I would love to press rewind and get myself in check. After double cleansing, acid toning and spray hydrating, I move onto the Drops Of Youth Eye Concentrate. Any eye creams of the past have left my eyes streaming but I've been rolling this around my socket line and patting in any excess. I didn't realised before just how dehydrated my eyes were as I just assumed that the under-eye skin is naturally sensitive, to the point where any buffing brush felt scratchy if I blended out concealer and any smudge of mascara was an impossible pain to rub off. A few days into using the Eye Concentrate and my under eyes are stronger and much more comfortable. I like the gel formula as it sinks in effortlessly with a nice cooling finish. Now I've started using an eye cream, I can literally never go back!

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Onto the serum - it's imperative at night to use an ingredient-rich oil or serum before your moisturiser to really get to work. A moisturiser is more of a protecting coat rather than a treatment, so I examined the results of the Drops Of Youth Concentrate carefully as I had high hopes. Despite the instantly reliving effects of deep hydration, it does change the actual surface of my skin. My previously tight, restricted skin suddenly breathes a sigh of moisture as the thick gel is patted in. A few drops warmed up in your hands covers the face in a solution that sticks around, rather than absorbing and dragging. I wouldn't use this before make up but actually you will still see the effects the morning after anyway. With skin 100% hydrated, moving a make up brush of foundation around it feels totally comfortable! Compared with a water-based serum, the deep texture of this concentrate really gives a high dose of pampering that takes a few minutes to sink in and is 99% natural and all organic, so your skin can't really get enough.

Now the hero of the range: the Drops Of Youth Bouncy Sleeping Mask. I had my eye on it for so long as I looked at it like a cheat product. Anything that can make me disguise my lack of sleep due to late night Tumblring is a win. Apply a layer after the serum according to this helpful massage guide beginning with a move called 'over the rainbow' (really). Wake up with replenished, soft, indeed 'bouncy' skin. Happiness! OK seriously this stuff just works - you get a huge 90ml and a sweet little scoop which I actually keep inside the jar, and when applied to your beautifully serum-soaked skin, it acts as the final layer to keep the levels of moisture in your skin super high across the night. You do get that look of an undisturbed night's sleep as your skin is softened, has a lot of 'give' and is the perfect canvas for the day ahead. If I do my skincare as soon as I get home (on a good day!) and finish with this mask, even a few hours later I can still see it on my face via my skin looking dewy, shiny and plumped. After such a long skincare routine, your skin doesn't cling onto any products and suck them up - it lets them penetrate evenly and each product has chance to do it's rightful job. I will definitely be taking it on the plane for my Dubai holiday and reapplying religiously!

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And onto what I would call the bonus of the range, the Drops Of Youth Wonderblur. It's almost like a primer that's so hydrating, you wouldn't actually use it with make up. Hear me out here: I find silicone primers with an almost-perfect plastic effect are better to hold layers of make up. The Wonderblur would be perfect if you chose to wear no make up or had a beach day as it smooths out those lines and pores without the artificial feeling. Make up that's good for your skin? Yes please!

I just can't say enough how such an intensive skincare regime has left my skin feeling so much lighter, brighter and younger than before in such a drastic way. I will tell you about other products I've purchased recently soon, but I can wholeheartedly say I will be repurchasing this collection if the generous products ever run out! In the mean time I'll be trying to ensure I relax more often, keep the sugary treats to a minimum, get back in that gym, drink 3ltrs of water a day, and try to not read the entire internet before I eventually send myself to bed. I'm keep to try The Body Shop's Vitamin C range next, have you tried it? I also did a video below - my first 'sit down' video in so long! It was quite straight-forward to film so I might do some more in the future.


High Definition Brows @ Benito Brow Bar, Debenhams


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Did you know HD Brows is actually a brand and not just a treatment to get those brows on fleek? Well I've experienced a brow revolution and now I'm worshipping at the alter of brow benefits. I get my brows trimmed and threaded every month and there's nothing like the sleek transformation they give to not only your face but also the way your makeup looks. A tidy brow means a tidy look. There's an ahhh-mazing Polish salon near me that has the best brow gal who charges just £3 but I'm never in that area so I'll just get them done at my nail salon. There's no direction there though and while I am left with neat brows, you don't get the custom look that you get at a dedicated brow bar. The way they are shaped determines how they then grow, so a qualified brow professional will encourage and cultivate your brows to grow into the shape that best defines your features.

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High Definition is the brand that started the brow craze and they recently collaborated with Benito Brow Bar in Debenhams, Bullring. I had the premium brow treatment and it has literally transformed my look from the 3-week-post-threading version above to the defined sisters below. There is no 'one shape fits all' treatment here; my Elite HD brow stylist carefully tinted, waxed, threaded, plucked, trimmed away to reveal a set worthy of any Instagram close up.

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A life transformation may be a little extreme of a description but I've absolutely reaped so many benefits of having such defined and groomed brows. My beauty buddy Georgie always sang the praises of brow tinting as you wake up already feeling made up, but brows are such a natural part of a beauty routine that it's not comparable to fake lashes or makeup tattoos. They subtly frame your eyes and nod to your cheek bones, lifting your face shape, and if dyed correctly, the colour should compliment your eye and hair colour. When I look in the mirror first thing in the morning and attempt to get from the 'head smooshed into the pillow' look to 'fresh-faced and professional' and out the door by 7.32am (the 2 minutes is very important), my face already looks ready and presentable.
 
My brow artist explained how she had left certain areas to grow while trimming others in order to start to achieve the new shape naturally. She also showed where any make up was applied, which you can pick up from High Definition's own range. I've had my brows tinted at high street salons before and the dye has faded after a few face washes, but these brows still stand strongly a few weeks later. There are also no signs of needing to get them redone any time soon but I'm definitely going to book in again before my Abu Dhabi/Dubai holiday as they are perfect for a pool-side no-makeup look.

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The New York Diary - My week in NYC, The Haul

 

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Wah! I don't want to write this post and have side stepped it for the longest time. My New York trip was every dream realised and I can't consider it over, even though it was months ago! I'm still on a high and I find that when I have rare moments of feeling mindful and meditative, I think back to what the holiday signified. It was so fulfilling to reach a goal that had been a lifelong dream and I felt so present throughout the week, drinking in every second.

Lots of people head to New York to shop but there weren't many things I could buy there that I couldn't just get online. Apart from the endless snacks I got for family as gifts and the Hershey-made Cadbury chocolate I picked up for work to try, I couldn't not get a Yankees jersey! If you read my post you'll know that we accidentally walked into a daytime club and met some New Jersey guys who worked on Wall Street. They helped us barter for a jersey, which explains why it's a large youth size haha.

I picked up the EOS lip balm and Dove deodorant because I forgot mine, and the smell reminds me so much of being in NYC that I can't bear to use it up and just creepily sniff it sometimes. I (of course) hit Sephora but nothing took my fancy. I have enough makeup from brands here to need to pick up more, and while being up close to brands and products I've never seen before in the flesh, nothing really caught my eye. I did have a shopping list on my phone collected from various YouTube Sephora hauls before I went, and I made a beeline for the Elizabeth and James mini rollerball perfumes. Sephora has a mini rollerball version of just about every perfume ever, which are SO handy as you don't need to commit to a scent and they also fit sweetly into your handbag. I nearly bought a large size of this Boscia cleanser but I'm glad I didn't as I don't think it does a heavy duty clearance of your makeup and it made a few eyelashes come out.

The Sephora highlighter was a gift for my friend Georgie and the primer was on offer for around $6. The two lip pencils were purchased at Duane Reed on Times Square at around 2am when we didn't get into the club Avenue. I also got a MAC lipstick in Velvet Teddy at JFK on the way home to use up my last dollars!

I have a daily mental checklist where I remind myself of the path I'm on and how I don't have my own place, I'm single, etcetera, but the only thing I'm really afraid of missing the boat on is not travelling to the places on my wishlist before it's too late. I don't mean travelling in the sense of touring, sightseeing or selfies; I mean just being there. Just myself in that moment feeling centred in literally the very centre of where I would choose to be if an instant transporter machine existed. I spend every moment of the day laughing when I go on holiday with my friends but I also love alone time, and my quiet times are just for me, myself & I, plus a whole host of wanderlust.

Which brings me onto my next trip. I get to travel a fair bit because that's literally all I spend my money on. I saved for NYC and I've managed to gather any funds since for a trip to.... Dubai! AND Abu Dhabi! My friend teaches there now and she insisted October/November were the best months to go. Flights weren't any more expensive around the time of the Formula 1 and so we booked it up. Who do I think I am?! Well really anyone can buy a ticket and for the F1, you only need one ticket to access the race course and all of the boats, bars and parties in the hub of the event - plus the after-race concerts in the evening, of which this year are Enrique Inglsias, Florence + the Machine and Blur! That's so insane. The entire weekend was around £100 so half the price of a festival ticket here. Flights were reasonable and we got a bargain 4* hotel for just £30 per night. As I've shown in this post, I don't go on holiday to shop really so I don't need endless spending money!

It does stress me out to think of the huge group we'll be in - nine girls! - so I'm going to do some solo research and be sure I know of all the things I want to do there, and most likely my friends will be up for doing those things too. Then I'll try best to plan all of my outfits and 'looks' as I really like to go to town on holidays and make moodboards of new makeup and hair looks I want to try, taking advantage of being in such a glamourous place. The week before I went to New York I was really ill and it was all I could do to throw my clothes in my case, let alone do a loose assessment of whether anything I had packed matched! Also if I plan in advance, it will be so much easier getting ready when there are nine of us to get out of the door! Literally on holiday we are known for leaving hotels in the middle of the night as we've spent so long getting ready haha! In Europe they don't go out until late but I think Dubai will be more traditional closing times of 2/3am. Who knows!

So if you have any tips or recommendations at all for Abu Dhabi or Dubai, please do let me know! I might see if any of my friends who didn't come on the NYC trip would want to go there next year and then while they're doing the tourist thang, I can go do my own thang! The thought of New York fills me with such an overload of emotion, I can't think of anything else like it! I felt totally at home there yet full of inspiration. Take me back! However now I'm gearing up for the East, I've bought loads of summery things in the sales, and I'm set for the beach! The countdown is on.


A Boots Haul

 

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I've got a Boots haul to share which is rare for me because the term 'haul' implies gathering a large quantity of something or replenishing a load of things in bulk, and I'm not high maintenance enough to need that many backups! Usually I never buy things all at once. Almost all of my purchases are considered, meaningful or needed; a month is a long time and I'm always saving for X or forking out for Y, so I can't afford to be frivolous. I'll totally contradict this shortly as I've spent a bomb this month and splurged on lots of things I've had my eye on, but here are a few purchases I made recently.

It's shocking behavior for a savvy shopper like myself but I don't actually have a Boots points card because I never shop at Boots. Did you know that the discount shop Savers is owned by Superdrug? Well I get all of my toiletries and haircare from there for a fraction of the price of the same thing in Supers, and I'll price up Boots/Superdrug when I need to replenish any high street makeup. I find 99% of the time when I go into Boots, I will find five other items I will suddenly remember I 'need' and am tempted towards a 3-for-2 or discount promotion, and soon I'm £30 down when I went in for a shower gel. However my buddy Georgie was in town and I wanted to show her the rather large Boots in Birmingham city centre. I let loose and here's what I got!

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I was a long time user of L'Oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara since my Uni days I believe and it's the big hitter for long lashes like mine. I get a lot of lash compliments and for some reason my lashes are just long, though I am still partial to a false lash. In fact in Uni I used to wear Eylure Double Lashes - yes, that's two layers of lashes! However I recently tried the Maybelline Colossal Mascara and I found the teeny tiny brush grabbed every lash, and the curved wand pushed them up to stretch as far as they could. I got another one of these in a promotion deal in waterproof as I actually missed using it, and the waterproof choice was because I'm going on holiday in November... watch this space!!

I laughed at the ingredients of La Roche Posay Serozinc as it's just water with salt and zinc added, but there was a certain hype that I could not resist. Now that I've bowed to the alter of Caroline Hirons though (more on that in a coming post), I can see this is a nifty product to layer just before your serum or moisturiser, I have literally read Caroline's entire blog recently and was trying to reveal the skincare epiphany to my friends today via Whatsapp but I just cannot translate. Basically Caroline knows her stuff and there is a world of benefits to reap by reading her cheat sheets. Fun fact - a guy we met in New York at the Yankees game said "So you're going to message me on the WhatsUpapp?" LOLz.

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I definitely sinned in the house of Hirons by buying this micellar water but as they go, I did enjoy swiping off my makeup with the Botanics All Bright Micellar Solution. Now I realise that was a lazy atrocity but I have a soft spot for Botanics and enjoyed using their balm cleanser a few years ago. I'll have to check out the ingredient list.

As part of a L'Oreal deal, I spied that the L'Oreal Color Riche Eyeshadow in Gold Mania was literally as intense as the name suggests, being the actual colour of gold rather than a mess of sparkles. Its buttery smooth and packs a punch when applied with a wet or Fix Plus-sprayed brush. A yellow gold makes blue eyes POP and nowadays I enhance my eyes with shadow rather than liner.

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These Masque Bar Sheet Masks were an impulse as they were reduced to £6, and I find clay or dry face masks unbalance my skin and leave it flawless for a moment but have no long term benefits. I chose the anti wrinkle set as they boasted the most hydration and indeed they are pieces of very slimey material. I like how you can rub the serum left on your skin into your face for extended benefits. A good pampering alternative to a drying mask that's impossible to get off and a treat for a night out to add a fun extra to your routine. I love getting ready!

I've seriously revamped my hair care routine since I started having highlights and have been left with straw if I'm not careful, and so I invested in an old faithful, the Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Intense Rescue Melting Balm. It's a wax that you warm into an oil in your hands and smooth on as a hair mask before washing. The oils and butters definitely give a dose of hydration to your locks and I save it for weekends. 

So there you go - a few treats to refresh my beauty routine :)


Style Birmingham Live 2015


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Last weekend was a HUGE weekend in Birmingham, with Grand Central finally open, arts festivals, the Rugby World Cup, and Style Birmingham Live - a fashion and shopping event with catwalks, goody bags, stylists and lashings of champagne. I've only ever known what it's like to live in major cities and these events just encompass how thriving Birmingham is, and how seriously we take shopping. It's not about browsing a store and coming away with a few shopping bags one weekend; it's about studying the runways, examining the trends marching past, pillaging the racks in the huge flagship-size stores, and wearing what represents you. There are so  many different styles and cultures here that the vibe is all about striving for the best sense of your own style and shopping the newest items first, rather than jumping on bandwagon, diluted trends. 

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There are now five department stores in the city centre and numerous difference areas of the town that offer a different fashion landscape. I headed to the Gas Hall Gallery early on Saturday morning, literally battling through the crowds in New Street Station at the launch of Grand Central/John Lewis, and met up with a gaggle of fantastic local bloggers. I'm sure there's becoming a bit of a Birmingham blogger collective now and it's really lovely. We took our seats in front of the catwalk at the final forth row so we could stand up and take all of our annoying photos, and sweetheart Mark Wright presented a trend session with stylist Mark Heyes. I did look out for bae Michelle Keegan but no joy there.

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It was a fabulous array of trends, looks, and gorgeous, unique models. Plus some seriously hot male models - I did actually spot my future husband. Seeing clothes move on real bodies and sachet down a catwalk live really does bring the trends to life, and we were taken through Red Hues, Haute Hippie, Urbanista, and many more. Such fun!

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After that breathe of fresh fashion air, we hot-footed down to House of Fraser for a Bobbi Brown Backstage Beauty event. You know I love talking to professionals and soaking up their wisdom, so I was all ears for this masterclass. Amy Conway, Bobbi Brown Pro Artist for the UK & Ireland, talked us through her tips and talents on maximising your look with the latest Bobbi products. I just loved how she called the brand Bobbi! The latest Greige collection was the feature; a curated range of neutral grey and beige hues, with a stunning eye Greige Collection palette as the centrepiece and the Intense Pigment Liner to add intensity, coming in a compact rather than a stick. This comes in three shades of plum, midnight blue or forest green, each tailored to maximise different eye colours. It's so interesting to watch a demo and see the tips performed live in action. My favourite was 'If in doubt, sparkle it out!', meaning if your matte shades aren't blending out quite how you would like, add a touch of shimmer shadow and you'll soon be blended to perfection.

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Most certainly a fabulous day! I then headed home for a dreaded driving lesson, where I ended up driving through town during this manic day, and that certainly was not fun. Still, it is an ultimate Saturday when it's filled with shopping, beauty and style!


Thoughts on Blogging...

 

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Hey lovelies. I've just got home from a blogging event and well, I felt rather chatty! In the past week I've been doing something that's half crazy and half Carrie Bradshaw by dictating blog posts in my mind to myself, which I used to do years ago. For example, I'd be in a shop and see something I liked and would start mentally drafting a blog post. If I ever have something amazing to tell my friends, such as a terribly funny date, I usually imagine the conversation in my mind while I'm on the train to work or putting my makeup on. I hope that doesn't sound insane but a sequence of recent events has got my blogging buzz going again. It could be a combination of loving so many bloggers and vloggers at the moment and also coming to the conclusion that, even though fame and fortune through blogging has never been my aim, I still feel the best blogs are not always the ones with fancy bells and whistles in the form of marble backgrounds and soft-focus flowers, but also the ones that showcase the ins and outs of a life of normal habits and happenings. That said, I love attending cool events and sharing items on my blog that I would never have the chance to explore otherwise, but I do reflect on the 'good old days' of blogging where it was all about a life untouched by the internet's spinning wheel.

So what is even happening in my life? Sometimes I feel quite disgusted in myself that I have the audacity to even indulge myself in a length of time typing purely about myself, but this blog was set out to be a diary rather than a platform of elegance and luxury. As the eve of nine year stint as a blogger approaches, I've found myself sitting on the side lines, not quite joining in with the others in the playground but feeling intrigued enough to watch shyly on. I love blogging because I do have that natural urge to create, share and log things, as my many lists in my Notes app would reveal, but I don't feel any natural urge to thrust myself out there and charge forward. My blog has always had a 'you come to me' attitude, which also applies to my approach to dating, as I feel if you are not here reading, you are really doing something much more important. However I understand that that is no way for anybody to stumble across my pages on the internet and have chance to like what they read. The ultimate gain from blogging is resonating with like-minded people and is not about a like from someone you don't know, but receiving interesting feedback and connecting your thoughts with others. I can't be a blogger that showcases the news of what's 'out there' though as I only have chance to offer what's right here inside my head, unless maybe this was a full time job to report on new products, trends and labels. I also can't show you an edited, unblemished version of my life as I do not make beautiful breakfasts or haul five shades of the same lipstick. But being the sponge that I am, I take a few tips from here and read a few posts over there, and soon find myself trying that smoothie recipe on a Saturday morning or arranging my favourite lipsticks into a perspex stand, just because.

So I don't know where I sit in the blogging world but arguably it wouldn't be anywhere but where I'm sitting right now. I don't have the hours available to cultivate something aesthetically stunning here, but I also do have a lot of time for Flying Saucer and want to show you the things I am trialling or loving, and get involved with the lovely blogger community. I used to release any and every thought I had onto my blog, but nowadays I wonder if it's just best kept in my head and not needed on the internet for all or no one to see. But as long as I pay my 15 dollars to Typepad every month (yes I've been doing that for nine years - you do the math, I'm an idiot), I'll happily type away here, and hopefully soon it will be a clear mirror of what my life is all about at the moment, even though that is a scary thought. I'll keep working on my photography and poses, and remain here not to force myself upon you, but in a quiet corner of the blogging world where you can find me still typing away, nine years later.