Beauty

Clarins Beauty Discovery Evening @ Selfridges Birmingham

I'm breaking up my New York posts to tell you about an evening I can only describe as fabulous! The Selfridges beauty personal shopper Rose is amazing at involving bloggers with the beauty hall, as there are always wonderful events, evenings and taster sessions to really keep up to date with all of the happenings across so many counters. 

I've had a few Clarins treatments before and would not spend my pennies anywhere else as it's truly a slice of heaven. It was a very welcome invitation to be offered to try out a relaxing after-work mini treatment at the Clarins Spa in Selfridges, followed by a makeover with the new makeup collection. It's so valuable to try makeup rather than buy off the cuff, and I am a firm believer in the counter makeovers you can have where the cost is redeemable. I'm always urging my friends to book one and discover a new way to do your makeup; it's at these makeovers that I've ever had any idea how to do my own!

It was a Thursday night and I ran a few errands around the shops before arriving to the little spa in a quiet corner of Selfridges. The rooms are tucked away so you don't feel in any way part of the busy beauty hall, and a glorious heated bed awaits, complete with a snuggly duvet. Experiencing a facial while tucked up in a soft, warm bed could not feel better. The lights are dimmed and your eyes are covered, while your head is soothed with relaxing sounds. It's not just your face that gets treats - in between cleansers, masks and oils, you receive neck, shoulder, foot and hand massages, giving the feeling of top-to-toe pamper. Just typing this gives me the dramatic urge to book in another treatment. Imagine having this monthly?! I might add it to my birthday wishlist for August. It is the most luxurious hour and a half of your life!

My facial was a mini taster and I was soon opening my eyes feeling like work was ten hours ago. It doesn't really matter that your face is now completely bare of makeup because your skin looks so good! Having someone else sculpt and massage your face achieves a result you simply cannot reach at home in the bathroom.

I was dreamily led to the Clarins counter and met the makeup artist Phoebe. Phoebe was an absolute ball and we gossiped the hour away. Makeovers are great when you can chat to the artist as the time flies and you don't even notice a whole face of makeup as been applied! I'm feeling really spendy this month as I'm teetering off the frugal wagon and just want a whole new wardrobe and beauty bag. I'm heavily eyeing up the Clarins Instant Light Base as my skin feels so dull and drab as the day goes on, and I had such a radiant complexion that evening. Plus I've started using SPF50 every day and it's making my foundation break up after a few hours.

The combination of glowing skin from the facial and a perfectly primed face made for a flawless finish of the Everlasting Foundation; possibly a contender for my MAC Pro Longwear. Phoebe also pulled out the new Limited Edition The Essentials palette and added a dramatic flick of deep bronze under my eyes which brought out the icy blue shades and framed my cheek bones. I've never done this before and tried it again that weekend for a night out! The palette is a true Naked contender and has a wider spectrum of shades.

I also loved the Instant Light Perfector, which the blogosphere has raved about since the beginning of time. The little tube of gloss adds a milky sheen that illuminates every curve of your pout without looking gloopy or sticky. It was so long since I've used a traditional gloss that I was quite amazed that I hadn't missed this step in my beauty routine! This was my only purchase and I've been using it during the day on its own and on top of all of my favourite nude lipsticks for an even more polished pout at night. Thank you to Rose and the Clarins team - I'll be stopping by once I've just up my Double Serum to try the Hydraquench range, and the Instant Light base is at the top of my shopping list. 


Clarins Skin Spa Birmingham: The Moisture Replenisher Tri-Active Facial Treatment


I have experienced heaven. I honestly have! This will go down as one of the most magnificent moments I have ever had as my recent facial at Clarins was absolutely divine. I was invited to try the spa in House of Fraser in Birmingham and I was not prepared for just how extensive and luxurious it would be. A total game changer!

I have mentioned recently that now that I am 25, I really need to act on the idea of 'prevention is better than cure' and invest in my skin. I am a believer of starting from the inside and getting your base right, as you could buy all the makeup products under the sun but it isn't going to be effective if you have only had a few hours sleep and have spent a week eating junk food and stressing out. I spent a long time figuring out why some people look so effortlessly stylish and I think it is all about having clear and tidy skin, hair and nails. Then soothing your soul means when feeling good on the inside, it radiates on the outside.

I have had facials before but these were honestly in a high street Chinese herbal medicine shop/salon and the benefits were more of the facial massage that really helped liven up my face before a night out. I also work a lot on the computer so the neck massage is also a fuss-free winner after a long week. I expected the Clarins facial to be just that - a few face creams and a massage, but it was SO much more.

With a demanding job and independent lifestyle, I am always on the go and monitoring my lengthy to-do lists. Taking time out to pamper yourself is now a necessary part of this cycle and will mean you are top of your game in other aspects of your life. The Clarins treatments not only targets your skin but they enhance your well-being and literally feed your soul. I was warmly welcomed to the spa by Abbi and discovered the safe haven of the treatment room. You actually lie on a raised bed with a crisp quilt in a low-lit room playing the soothing music that transports you from the street you have just left. It's very calming and inviting and you just feel like you want to be lying there forever. Abbi and I decided on The Moisture Replenisher Tri-Active Facial as my dehydrated skin definitely wishes I drink more water, even though I try to remind myself! You can undress if you wish and once you are cosied under the duvet and your facialist returns to the room, the lights are dimmed and the treatment begins. You don't feel exposed or even concious really as you float off into a blissful world.

The facial itself is a divine sequence of aromatic cleansers, masks, creams, and the Clarins Touch massage techniques that can only be described as ballet for the face! Mixed in is a head, neck and shoulder massage, arm and hand treatments, and even a foot cleanse, meaning you feel refreshed from top to toe and barely notice as each treatment glides into the next. It's so smooth that I was trying to take mental notes for my blog post but drifted off into a heaven of pure bliss and relaxation. The facial massage actually felt like there were 10 hands on my face and I felt so centred. I'm sure it would be very easy to fall asleep!

Afterwards you are slowly brought back to reality and have plenty of time to relax before sipping a drink in the bed and floating off back to the real world. I just couldn't believe how heavenly an rejuvenating an hour could be and it was pure and utter bliss. The treatment from start to finish felt so soothing and expert and you just know you are in very, very good hands for an hour and a half. What an experience! 

My treatment was complimentary so as to tell you all about the spa and experience, and so I felt that was definitely an excuse to walk away with my own purchase too! A few products were recommended to me at the end of the facial, but not pushed onto me, and I was really keen to have the Double Serum in my life. Abbi gave me a few tips on pushing it into my skin rather than rubbing it in, which mostly penetrates your finger tips, and I feel so good for having this in my routine now. I also booked in for another treatment before my holiday to Athens at the end of the month! I was just so impressed and would choose an appointment here over a new dress any day. The treatments are a good 90 minutes so you really do get so much for your spend, and would be wonderful before a big event too. The body treatments sound absolutely incredible; I have been eyeing up The Moisture Quencher or The Body Lift Sculptor as if my face can feel this good, imagine a whole body treatment! There is a treatment called The Sun Glow too which exfoliates and tans you - just imagine!

You can find out more on the website here and I would wholly recommend Abbi and the House of Fraser spa. I'm counting down the days until my next visit!


My Skincare Routine


Last month my skin went damn crazy and the spots attacked! I don't generally have problem skin but it does take a while to heal blemishes, and while one was subsiding, another would appear! The problem with spots is they often appear in annoying places like near your lip or right where your blusher sits, and sometimes it feels they make the biggest statement, despite carefully applying makeup. Applying makeup over a healing spot is even worse!

So here are a few things I was using at the time - and what cleared up my skin!

Garnier Fresh Refining Toner - I was looking for a toner to replace my B. Micellar Water to be sure every trace of makeup was removed each night, or to use to take off all of my makeup when feeling lazy. I like everything fresh and zingy, but this toner did not suit my dehydrated skin as it is a hardcore solution for oily skin. I didn't think it would especially matter but this really made my skin feel stripped and tight with each harsh application on a cotton pad. True to my thrifty nature, I have almost used it up just on my lower T-zone, but finally the bottle can hit the recycling bin.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo(+) - As soon as I started despairing with my skin, I knew I had to repurchase this cult gem. I used the product a few years ago as a daily moisturiser when it first reaped blogger hype, but I knew this time to use it on targeted areas and feed the rest of my skin with kinder serums. Banishing spots and unclogging pores with a moisturiser is usually unheard of, and let's face it, a product that actually 100% does remove spots is ironically rare, despite so many brands out there. If I would have known about this when I was a teenager, life would have been so much better! As a fresh gel/cream formula, you gently spread a dollop of this over your problem areas and it sits lightly on the skin; feeling just heavy enough to know it is working but still offering a refreshed, cooling feeling, rather than being sticky or oily. A few hours later the area is hydrated yet not greasy, and your spots are well on their way to healing - and no more return. Repeat use is meant to now reduce any marks or scars, and keep the texture of skin refined. Add a night of undisrupted sleep and eight glasses of water (and both are basically free) and you're on your way to a good skin day, every day.

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre - In the past I have found it tricky to find a moisturiser that primes for a whole face of makeup straight after. In the mornings especially, I don't have spare moments to wait for anything to sink in. I have tried Indeed Labs hydraluron in the past as a way to boost any moisturiser that followed, but thought it was pretty pants. Sam recommended Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre in a Pixiwoo makeup video as the base for makeup, and it really does deliver at ensuring a perfectly softened face but a formula that doesn't tamper with any makeup then applied. Makeup wears off more slowly but holds a powder well without leaving a dusty or tight finish. Skin doesn't seem to change during the day and keeps a constant level of comfort that doesn't make me feel like I want to wash my face by lunch time. I got mine from eBay but I just spotted on the Boots website that the brand is now stocked there!

B. Revealed Glycolic Cleansing Peel - As the B. Micellar water was a past favourite, I was looking for a cleanser and stumbled across this glycolic peel in Superdrug. I was looking for a balm or oil to potentially shift makeup too, but this intrigued me as it was so cost effective, coming with a muslin cloth and a free gift with any purchase at the time! You can use this as a mask or a cleanser and as an AHA, glycolic acid (found in sugar cane!) is a natural way to shift the top layer of dead skin cells and thicken deeper layers of skin, hence why they are common in masks so they can really have the time to penetrate the layers. This cleanser is rather like a light paste that smooths on like clotted cream. The price and availability mean I will use this across the week, sometimes leaving it on for a little longer while I brush my teeth, and it keeps any congestion at bay. A gentle exfoliation with no scratchy beads and no redness is right up my street. I don't want to be putting anything brash on my skin and rubbing it all around, literally inviting wrinkles to form!

My regime is fine for day to day but nothing was very luxurious, powerful or particularly rich. As I glide (or stumble) into my late twenties, I want to be upping the ante with my skincare and to invest in some killer products. I've been dabbling with the Clinique eye gel too but want some more advice on the subject, and I really needed to add an oil or serum to the daily mix to feed this dehydrated face. That's where the Merumaya Iconic Youth Serum came in. I met their PR gal Lekha and a host of fantastic bloggers at the local Jekyll and Hyde bar, which I have definitely frequented for their creative cocktails. We had a fun, relaxed introduction to the brand across a few Breaking Bad-themed fluorescent blue drinks and Lekha confidently spoke the gospel of a brand that hand picks active, high performance ingredients to deliver the simple promise of youthful, flourishing skin in the most practical way. There isn't an extensive range of obscure varieties; there is a staple line with tried-and-tested, core ingredients that feel oh so good. The Melting Cleansing Balm has received a lot of blogging hype but I was chuffed to receive the Iconic Youth Serum in the goody bag, and ever since have supplemented my routine with the staple boasting the addition of peptides, minerals, plant cells and that good ol' hyaluronic acid. It's blended with a light essence to perk you up and it smooths in light a light gel. A delight! That's the way a blogging event should be done I feel, with the opportunity to really learn about the brand and relate to the product, rather than a showcase.


Illamasqua International Season Makeover, Selfridges


My beauty guardian angel Rose is absolutely revitalising my beauty life and I’m so excited for AW14. Rose is the beauty personal shopper at Selfridges Bullring – yes a personal shopper just for beauty. Woah. Rose is an expert of every counter and can pick out perfect product amongst hundreds in the hall, suiting any need or occasion you may have. And she’s just the loveliest doll ever, taking huge pride and joy in giving you a happy makeup bag, and she's from where I'm from!

 

Rose invited me to try out the latest Illamasqua launch exclusive to Selfridges with a makeover. I had a makeover once at Illamasqua for my 21st birthday night out and haven’t visited for a while as I’ve been through so many hair changes over the years, I wasn’t sure which colours suited me, and concentrated on more nude, neutral looks. Now I’m learning to be comfortable with a bright lip and feeling much more interested in a statement look with my lighter hair (which I need to sort out my roots and random red bits soon!!).

I work during the week but I had an upcoming Friday off work, so I booked in a slot the morning of V Festival! A full makeover before a festival? Indeed! I don’t go for the whole denim shorts/boho festival look and wanted to hit the first night at the fields looking awesome. It was just my luck that member of the actual Illamasqua Art Team,  Clare Lille was at the counter that day, AND was a fellow fair redhead like myself!

Clare visits counters all over the world to advise the teams, and we chattered away about her recent Glastonbury trip and how you can certainly rock a smokey eye at a fest, which is precisely what I had!

I’m coming to the end of my Hoola bronzer and had a lovely time with NARS Laguna, but the new Sculpting Duo attracted me as a beautiful pigmented highlighter sits alongside in a curved palette with a generous, chunky mirror. I have a few odd highlighters in my collection but nothing to get me back into the swing of my cheekbones, which is something I want to incorporate into my AW14 makeup looks. I couldn’t resist buying it in memory of the makeover, so every time I used it I would remind myself to step up my makeup game. 

I also loved the new Glamore Lipstick in Barefor a Kylie Jenner eat-your-heart-out pout. Who knew Illamasqua would do nudes so well! And new Brow Gel in Strike got my attention as I have nearly bought the Anastasia Dipbrow so many times, but I need to try out the shades first. There's only the one colour for Illamasqua at the moment but a light application suited me fine. 

It's interesting to notice how the collection imagery is geared towards affluent visitors from the East visiting the UK during summer time, aka International Season, but the collection works well for all skintones seeking warm, rich tones and a luxe look.

Here's a full list of the products used:

Skin Base Foundation, 6.5
Skin Base Lift, Light 1
Powder, 010 Pressed
Gleam, Mirage
Eye Shadow Palette, Neutral Palett
Masquara, Raven
Brow Gel, Strike
Eye Colouring Pencil, Von
Powder Blush, Naked Rose
Lipstick, Bare
Lip Colouring Pencil, Woo

And so off I tripped to V Festival, putting up my tent with so much shimmer, mud and rain were no issue! 

 


Destination Skin: Vitamin Skin Peel


I have a new favourite hobby and it is mind, body & soul. Yes indeed, that is a hobby! I''m busy, I work hard, and often by Friday I need a weekend to recover from all the tasks I set myself during the week. The temptation to go shopping and buy a truck load of new things masks the need to relax, sort out all of those things on your to-do list, and get yourself back to 100%. It's only this year that I have forgone a new high-street lipstick and impulse face wash for massages, facials, pedicures and clean eats. I began the journey to being a well-oiled working woman machine by sleeping more, drinking more (water) and indulging in pampering instead of frittering away money.

My attention has turned to my skin though as my entrance into the 25-30 age bracket means I need to get my regime in order. To kick start this, I had a life-changing appointment at Destination Skin and ran to the counter right away to book in a first treatment. I chop and change high-street skincare, listening to the YouTube recommendations and forever washing muslin cloths, but it's rare that my skin feels perfectly prepped and refreshed. When I was seemingly rich at University (I wasn't!), I would spend across snazzy skincare brands in hope of revitalising my skin, but over the years I find you can't really alter what you are born with. My skin will always be dehydrated, with the fine lines creeping closer. This does not mean I like to exfoliate, slap on moisturiser and oil up with serums before bed time. What am I putting on my face?! Just as I have makeovers before I buy makeup, I wanted to speak to an expert

Instead of my usual cheap and cheerful beauty parlours, I looked to an actual clinic for advice and spoke to Jessica at Destination Skin in Birmingham. It was one of those life changing meetings where I threw everything I knew out of the window and came away with a fresh vision of just what my skin needed. Jessica really opened my eyes to the offering and treatments available at clinics in comparison to spas and it's really revolutionised my thoughts on skincare. The consultation meant my face was washed and tested to investigate the best course to go down, offering solution rather than pampering - although the clinic itself is a dream and felt much more chic and private than salons I visit more often.

It was also interesting to hear the expectations of some clients and the advice that there is no miracle fix, but treatments on offer mean you can work towards transforming skin rather than a temporary, harsh change. I love science! Jessica gave me a frank overview of my own face, confirming it was dehydrated and rather dull. I'm all about the real talk, and was recommended a vitamin skin peel.

Skin peels make me think of Samantha in SATC and her veil, but the purpose is to use natural acids derived from fruit, nuts and sugar for a gentle way to clear all your dead skin away and stimulate new, healthier skin cells for the future. I visited a few weeks later to have my lashings of foundation stripped away and a cool, zesty solution applied to my face. This penetrated deep down to the deepest layers of my skin and brought out all the dull cells, making my face congested. What felt like cold face cloths were applied to keep my face cool, and it was all over within 15 minutes, followed by a refreshing cream. You can see below my face was not particularly red or patchy, so I applied a little makeup before I left, met my friend for birthday cocktails and awaited the results!

Over the week my face felt like it really was purging all of the dry patches, speeding up the healing for any imperfections or spots, and showing effects for days. If I do have a blemish, it takes weeks to heel up completely. The peel seems to have kick started my skin again and has inspired me to work on this blank canvas now and invest in some products for the skin type confirmed that I am. It's very interesting that there are strict laws for advertising drugs and medical products in the U.K., so medicated skin brands cannot get a look in for the beauty market.


#BullringBloggers & Beauty


On Thursday I had the great pleasure of attending a fabulous beauty event at Bullring. I’m very lucky to have Bullring as my local shopping centre as it has every store you could want on a large scale, and it keeps getting better and better. A Victoria’s Secret store is opening soon and I can’t wait to have those fruity sprays in my life!!

After work, I hot-footed to the management suite where we met an array of beauty brands, labels and treats from the best of the centre. I tucked into a few French Fancies and caught up with divine beauty personal shopper Rose, before bumping into faves Winnie and Gem! We had a natter before a few presentations on upcoming launches. 

The one that caught my eye was the new Curl Friends range from Umberto Gianninis as I am of course a curly girl! They have revamped their curl range with a sleek new look and I was treated to a hair refresh with the new Nourishing Oil, which is right up my street. My hair literally sucks up any sort of serum or spray so this is perfect! You can’t go overboard this this so I could spray it liberally. I go to the Umberto salon in Selfridges so am very happy to give my solid attention to any of their ranges (my stylist is Yogi!).

 We also lusted after the new Urban Decay Perversion mascara and I regaled my patchy blusher woes to the Giorgio Armani team who introduced me to their liquid blush. I'll report on the results!

In fact we went away with an incredible goody bag, and it was personalised! Therefore it is my job to test out these treats and tell you which are worth hard earned pennies, with special excitement for the Michael Van Clarke 3”’ More Inches Magic Oil and Kiehls samples set - perfect to take to V Festival this weekend. *group prayer for sunshine*

When I said personalised, I literally meant it! We were all wondering quite what this meant, and we each found a super sweet Tatty Devine necklace with our blog names! Adorable! I'm going to hang mine on my makeup stand so remind me of my blogging love. Thank you Bullring!


Hair Empties #1

As a blogger on my best behaviour at the moment, I have been collecting my empties! I believe clutter equals stress so normally these would go straight into the recycling, but I've finished a bunch of things at the same time. After around half a year of not entering Superdrug or Boots unless seriously necessary, I've discovered many bargains and avoided any expensive impulses. Now I'll do a haul once a month from somewhere like Savers (Superdrug's little sister brand) and get things like cotton pads or toothpaste from bargain supermarkets like Poundland. This affords me to blow more on makeup and clothes, yay!

So from left to right, I've been using got2b 2 sexy hairspray since university and the raspberry smell still reminds me of great hair days. It gives a buildable dusting that I like to reach a slightly stiff layer to keep my curls in place for longer. It's not a fine Elnett-style mist; this is good, strong stuff that won't ever turn too crispy.

The got2b oilicious dry oil mist was actually a £2 impulse and it adds a fine hint of oil, without weighing down your hair. The more you spray, the shiner your curls get, and near the end of the can I started to spray my hair liberally before washing it a few hours later. Great if your thirsty locks need a dose of moisture.

Before my impulse-starved faze, I did invest in the Charles Worthington Intense Rescue Melting Balm, and warming up the rich waxy product to form a heavy oil really does feel like you are smothering your hair in gold. I don't think it makes any more difference than dowsing your hair in oil below though.

The mask I replaced it with was this Argan Oil intensive hair mask, trying the conditioner and hair oil after. The mask is the consistency of body butter and takes the award of the first in-shower product that didn't seem to wash away as soon as I added it to wet hair. I had my hair cut this week and after getting another hairdresser to feel how thick my hair is, my stylist remarked how he was about to use A LOT of conditioner. Sure thick hair is a blessing but I do usually have to go to town with conditioner, often using a hair mask in place of conditioner. The Argan Oil range is all 99p each - yes 99p - and the density of the creamy products are finally a match for my mane. 

I concocted my own hair remedy with the oil by literally smothering my hair in the stuff for around an hour before washing. I know you can do this with olive oil, but at 99p, the Argan Oil is in fact cheaper! I can't not repurchase these as they are such an incredible price, and feel so natural and nourishing. No fancy claims, just good old oil. I did get a sample of Moroccan Oil with a magazine subscription and the ingredients are literally identical, yet the Argan Oil brand is 10% of the price and feels much thicker. Some may prefer a lighter oil but nothing is too heavy for me.

I don't like putting oil in my hair after washing though as I'd rather use oil to the max than add a small bit. I find adding a 'pea-sized amount' of a product to hair actually only touches the smallest part of mine; it's impossible to spread a product lightly and evenly through thick hair. So I use copious amounts of John Frieda Frizz-Ease Serum with heat protector to provide some relief from the hairdryer and feed my dyed locks. Luckily I only wash my hair once/twice a week so one bottle can last a good few months.

I do want to try the L'Oréal Ever Rich range next - do you rate it?


They See Me Haulin'

We are in 2014! I hope your year has started very well. I'm still not on 2014-time yet as it doesn't feel like I have fully returned to work or anything around me seems to have changed, but I know where I want to go this year. I just need to get there! One step was bringing a few fresh things into my daily mix, having spent almost the entirety of 2013 exercising a very modest approach to shopping. I have never used up so many things and therefore each new purchase has never felt so important. I had some Christmas money to spend and I already knew exactly what I wanted!

I have never spent anything substantial on a bronzer or contour powder as I usually invest more in 'special' makeup, rather than things I use every day. That might not make total sense, but the makeup I wear to work isn't something that excites me. It's a mix of not wanting to spend lots of time on an average, daily face, and not wanting to use up any favourite products. However I tend to vary in skin tone across the week depending if I have tanned at the weekend, and needed a mid-tone bronzer that was buildable. I have the Bourjois chocolate bronzer and an ELF dupe, but it was time to invest in the bronzer of legends: Nars Laguna.

When I spoke to the makeup artist at the counter, I questioned whether it was right for my skin and she suggested it may seem to light but it would suit fine. I was actually wondering if it would be too dark, so that really pushed me towards the purchase and I definitely now feel the lustrous benefits of using a luxury product every day. As it is so fine and the palette is so generous, it feels like I am barely applying a dusting of this to my cheekbones and temples, yet the colour is definite and flawless. This is certainly enhanced by my brush haul of the Real Techniques duo-fibre collection

I have been considering new brushes for a long time and wasn't too set on another Real Techniques offering. Despite so many bloggers waxing lyrically for these, I found my blush brush felt spikey and rough over time, and my stippling brush never got clean enough to replenish the fluffy texture. I was looking to MAC and Sigma for their duo-fibre brushes as I much prefer a lighter application of heavier foundations, rather than very liquid formulas, but this limited-edition Real Techniques set seemed to offer everything I was looking for. I'm going to make sure I clean the brushes after every single use, and at Boots I also got the Miracle Complexion Sponge for half price in a deal. My ancient Beauty Blender sponge developed teeny tears which over time turned into larger rips, and it ended up totally unusable. I love a sponge foundation application (haha) even more than a brush finish, but I feel the coverage is not enough to stand my 9-5 days at work. My plan is to use the sponge when I have extra time to smooth over my skin and blend my final foundation/concealer/contour mix seamlessly.

A few honourable mentions are the L'Oreal Micellar Solution, which seemed a bargain price to take place of my finished B. Pure Micellar Water from Superdrug. It might seem a surprise I'm not calling out the infamous Bioderma version, but I did not find any benefits to it at all. As the first micellar water I tried, the B. version left my skin tingling and literally breathing a fresh sigh or relief from any impurities, whereas the Bioderma and L'Oreal versions line up with no special effects. As soon as I use up this buy, I will be returning to Superdrug for the B. range. As for the Soap & Glory set, it was a bargain £5 deal in the Boots sale, but I was again slightly disappointed that the scent of Hand Food wasn't as incredibly delightful as the rumours say. I love a hand cream with a pump though. Pumps are so underrated!


French Fancies: Bioderma Buys

I have just returned from a few days in France and like everything this year, it went so fast! You spend all week wishing for the weekend and the days just fly by, and this holiday was no different. I will go into the trip details when I have gathered all the photos from friends and chose the best to show you but these items are the only things I bought. The whole trip was on a budget as the flights were £15 and we stayed in a budget hotel, so shopping wasn't really the point. The point was to party!

We travelled via Ryanair which is super cheap and cheerful, especially at 5am in the morning, and only allows 10kg hand luggage, which isn't much. Security restrictions of 100ml liquids also mean I couldn't buy or take anything large, which had my friends and I squeezing all of our makeup, products and perfume into one teeny clear bag each. I visited a French pharmacy though and spotted these baby Biodermas; they are so cute! The perfect way to try the toner without splashing out on an online order. I heard they stocked it at the Birmingham Boots store but I didn't find any and I have just ran out of my Superdrug B. Micellar water. A sweet daily reminder of my holiday and hopefully I will like it as much as every beauty blogger I read!


Me Time!

I am in a zone of calm and zen like no other! I have not truly, extravagantly pampered myself in months, maybe even years; no activity has been purely about relaxing and just feeling great. I've done the whole hair wash/buff/tan routine a million times but tonight I took my time and felt like that lady of leisure I wish I was!

I know a lot of bloggers use a pic-n-mix of products but I have a few fail-safe favourites and don't buy more than those. I can't really afford to try products in case I don't like them, but I needed a new conditioner and splashed out on the Lee Stafford conditioner with argan oil. I have a hair mask below already and I prefer serum to oil, so the oil already in with the conditioner seemed a bonus and Lee Stafford was at the Motel Christmas party so I am fond of the brand! His fiancee is the incredibly hot lady from The Real Hustle and I found myself talking to her and wondering how I knew her... I love a celeb spot! 

I went to Boots at lunch today with Lora, my fellow beauty junkie at Motel HQ, and fabulous intern Holly who is always a ray of sunshine in the office. The 3-for-2 deals called us all and the recent VO5 adverts make me seriously want the promised smooth hair, so I got this conditioner in with the deal. Got2b have repackaged their hairspray too and this has been my favourite for years! It smells like raspberries!

The Botanics Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm is a repurchase after I used every scrap of the first pot I bought. I was about to buy The Sanctuary HC Cleanser again but I saw Lily review this and it sounded even better. It feels very heavy and thick and I wondered if a parade of spots was on the horizon, but my skin is just as blemish-free as with The Sanctuary cleanser and this gives your skin a serious moisture boost. I don't scrub my face dry with the cloth, I leave a little of the balm on and let it sink in for plump, healthy skin. Your foundation goes on a dream! My skin was calling for this during the colder months so I'm not sure how it will fare if we ever get any sun! Hopefully hydrating my skin with this will mean less oil, not more when the weather gets hotter.

Once a week, if I know I am going to wash my hair that night, I will slather on a generous amount of the Charles Worthington Intense Rescue Melting Balm from root to tip as soon as I get home (I don't get oily hair so the roots are fine). By the time I come to wash my hair, it has soaked in and you barely need conditioner. It works! My hair is definitely much softer and more hydrated, and I haven't had a trim since October and my hair still looks fine!

If I'm feeling fancy but want ultimate calm, I love this Seascape body butter that absolutely radiates the most natural lavender smell, like your are rubbing yourself with the real thing. It is rich but spreads evenly and lightly and I like just how white it is, adding to the fresh, clean vibes. If I am tanning, I'll just use this on my ankles, elbows, knees and wrists. Lush!

As I am doing some serious eBaying at the moment, I impulsed one night on the cult Crest White Strips and can confirm they really do work! They are just little stickers covered in a thin layer of gel and you put them over your top and bottom teeth, then whip them off 30 minutes later! Your teeth instantly look smooth and bright, and a few uses make a noticeable difference.

A bath is the ultimate luxury for me as I never have any time and I find the water has to be just the right temperature so you don't feel freezing when you get out! Sometimes I get too hot in baths and it's not fun anymore, just humid! I had The Enchanter bath bomb from Lush sitting pretty for a while on my shelf and today was the day to bust it out in all its citrus glory. The pink centre is the nicest surprise!

All of this pampering was not in vain as one of my bezzies is coming to visit tomorrow and I wanted to kick off the weekend with a girly night of treats. Now I feel a hundred bucks!