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September 2014

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! 


V Festival 2014 - The highs, the stories, the scandals

Guys! Hey! So I'm working chronologically through my recent happenings and I have so many funny, amazing and downright crazy things to tell you from V Festival. I've seen quite a few blogger festival posts this summer so I've kept it to the nitty gritty, juicy bits and some things I am fairly confident you will NOT expect!

1. SO we bounced down the motorway in Stacey's ride and luckily I had peeked at the festival map before travel (a seasoned V attendee right here!), so we knew to drive to a certain car park and be right by a campsite. No walking from the car laden with bags like camels! We camped in the quieter Gold campsite but it did make us feel quite far away from the atmosphere so we might change that next time. Our morning routine was to wake up to the sounds of children (yes really - see below) and go to sit in the car for about an hour, drinking two litres of water, as it was so close!

2. We met many a fabulous person, as detailed soon. My best buddy Barrie from work is potentially the best festival wing-man ever and even brought us both festival presents and made us loom bands while watching Rudimental! Can I just make a side note and say how much I fancy one of the dudes in Rudimental. I had to state how much of a nice man he seems many, many times while gazing at the Main Stage screen with heart eyes. I've seen Rudimental a few times this year and they just know how to work a festival stage, even if they're not the typical band or singer.

3. Back to the first day of Friday evening where they open the arena before the bands kick off on the Saturday, and I was especially keen to hit club MTV in the massive circus tent, followed by a silent disco. Many (I was going to say a few but I'm old now!) years ago at Reading Festival, we had to run to the queue for a silent disco even before the headliner had been on, so I wanted to be all queued up and prepared for this baby, and make the most of the first night. We ventured down to the arena before grabbing out wrist bands from Barrie on the gate (he worked there!) and partied it up in the club/tent! At one point Stacey made me go on a fairground ride which I am so scared of (and made her go on them on her own at Wireless Festival), but I was talked into a swinging, spinning, upside down monster, and screamed and closed my eyes throughout! We queued for the silent disco and we danced with 18 year olds until 3am to the two different DJs playing different songs simultaneously - you just flick a switch on your headphones to change the song and everyone is dancing and singing to different things! Amazing!

4. The next day but embarked for my only favourite act of the weekend, Jhene Aiko. When I saw Jhene on the line up I nearly whooped out loud on the train to work and immediately felt very excited. She was so lovely and sweet and just amazing, and not many people were watching her so we were very close. I had already looked at a recent set list of hers so when some girls infront of us were saying 'I don't know this song? Maybe it's new?', I could input 'She's covering Tupac'. Now I don't particularly know a Tupac song from any other but they were very impressed with my worldy music knowledge until I did reveal to Stacey later that I only knew because I had read it recently! Haha!

Mounting created Bloggif

5. The second surprise highlight was Childish Gambino, who I have only been listening to recently and did a major set at the MTV stage to a crazy crowd. His dancing and strutting across the stage really drove everyone wild and instead of sitting to eat pizza with Stacey, I decided to venture towards the thick of the crowd at the stage and go back to Stacey after a few songs. Somehow I always end up getting into VIP areas, backstage and behind barriers where ever I go, through no effort of my own really. A man next to me was also alone and after a few songs feeling like we really should start talking to each other, he started up a conversation and it turned out he was the DJ at the cocktail tent! Now this 'cocktail tent' was more of a huge open VIP house with fancy bars and a DJ platform high above the bar, so you could only see the DJ if they hung over the wall in front of the box. Around the clean, plastic bars were dance floors spilling out onto the festival field and music pumping, so as you walked by you were almost drafted into a totally new section! In fact some people spent more time there than watching bands! The DJ said we should stop by for some drinks, so I returned to Stacey with news of my new friend, and we went to meet Barrie to see my dreamboat Rudimental dude and party with him.

6. We felt the festival vibes and skipped off to the cocktail tent, where I waved down the DJ and we got some cocktails and met his male model friend - well hello there! They both took a break to come with us to see Jason Derulo, who was smooth like a smoothie from the veeery far away place we were standing as it was SO busy.

7. We decided for myself and DJ man to go back to the cocktail area for his set, and Stacey go with Mr Model to watch their favourite Paolo Nutini. I'm not a Paolo fan so I was eeeking inside with excitement as myself and the DJ went backstage and climbed the ladder up to the cocktail DJ floor/box, where you looked over the whole crowd dancing from above. Of course my exterior was cool and collected, but as usual when you are backstage, inside you are thinking 'Well this isn't daily life! Hell yea!', just like a rock star. I put in my favourite requests and channelled my inner Kate Moss festival vibes, and soon enough the DJs friend returned... without Stacey. Somehow he was lost her along the way and we had no phone signal so we were stuck!! Red alert! 

8. I made the most of hanging out in the cocktail area with all of the crew before saying goodbyes and skipped off. While considering my plan B now that I was alone and couldn't get hold of Stacey, one of the barmen I had been chatting to a little while before when I was partying with the DJs (be nice and chat to everyone - a good life motto) said he was going to see Chase and Status at the big circus tent with another dude while on their bar breaks. I said 'Sure!' and by then it was night time so I found myself in a strobe lit, floor shaking, 10,000 deep crowd all raving to thumping dance music in the dark. It was wild! And I found Stacey, wahoo!

9. The second day was all about the music, with so many swooning gals at the Ed Sheeran set, and a host of indie bands bursting out tunes. Justin Timberlake rounded off proceedings very nicely and added a new twist to the day's line up.

10. And we find ourselves at number 10! I'm sorry I deceived you into thinking I would summarise my experience but I have just ended up typing and typing for hours tonight! Onto my outfits - I wore my lemon Motel set again as I love it and a festival setting is the perfect place for it, and a new identical set in a green tropical print! Stacey also wore all Motel, with the sunflower skirt and off shoulder dress! I wore some nail decals on my face (also asked to borrow from a random girl in a crowd?!) and a head piece, although it was very wonky and falling off most of the time but I did feel very cool!

Until next year, Weston Park!

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.

Birthday Nights

Hello guys! I hope you are all doing very well. I thought I felt very emotional last week because it was my birthday but I think it was just hormonal in the end! I am the grand age of 25 and I'm sort of going along a path of trying to get rich but also travel, shop and push myself to succeed. It's a working balance in progress! I've also started driving lessons which makes me feel even more like a certified grown up. I just need to stop laughing as I'm driving and it should be fine!

So my birthday was finally chance to wear a dress that has been burning a mini hole in my wardrobe. I say mini because it is rather small! I had a big night out on the cards but it was bitter sweet as one of my friends is also moving to Abu Dhabi soon, so it was a joint celebration with my friends on Saturday night.

I follow so many brands on Instagram and Pepper Mayo seemed the Australian answer to Missguided. It was certainly a risk ordering one size from so far away as I usually order a variety of sizes, especially when a £10 customs fee was slapped on by Royal Mail. The sheer amount of things I buy and return is quite crazy as I only like to keep things I really, really love, with the perfect fit. The fashion Gods were smiling though and the dress fit like a dream, even if a little short! It's call the Victoria Dress and the plunge effect is actually due to a built in V shaped wire, so there is no danger of flashing. I absolutely love crochet and it’s quite unique in black. I was going to get the white version of the dress but only the black dress had my size in stock and so it was meant to be. As it was so short, I added a plain black bodycon skirt underneath, and teamed with some shoes I actually bought myself from Choies. Has any blogger actually purchased things from those cheapie Asian websites?! Maybe I'm the first! I was looking for a copy of the Giuseppe Zanotti shoes that eventually fizzled down to Zara, and these fit the bill. They also have them in nude which I would totally go for if they wouldn’t get so stained in a club.

I also spent a night in the swish Bloc Hotel Birmingham through a work contact and felt like a total lady of leisure. It is even in the Jewellery Quarter, an area of my city that a few of my friends enviously live in! It's the cool, cosmopolitan hub of Birmingham and definitely matches the trendy day trippers of the city, with a chic, compact feel but first class features. I settled for a night of TLC in the king-size bed lavished with Egyptian cotton sheets, after soaking up a monsoon drench shower, hooking up all of my gadgets and admiring the pink lighting. I'll just move in, thank you! There is nothing better than watching movies snuggled in bed. I have a fantasy of having a bedroom literally empty of things apart from an incredible bed and fur rug. I’d so much rather clear things out than buy loads of cutesy homewear! Twenty five ain't looking so bad :)

#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!

All about Amsterdam: Part 2

Hey guys! So here are the final instalments of my Amsterdam trip. I really want to book another holiday already! After our first arrival night, we still weren’t totally sure of our surroundings but woke up nice and early to being our tourist travels. We went towards Anne Frank House with a pit stop for breakfast, and got slightly lost along the way. Once you figure out which canals are which, Amsterdam is quite easy to navigate though. Bicycles nip down the cobbled streets much more frequently than cars and the air was humid and close, with canals littered with pretty flowers. A man sitting outside a café exclaimed ‘You girls are so fashion!’ and we approached a very trendy barbers to ask for directions from various tattooed, bearded men! Amsterdam vibes are very chilled so after asking many people, we finally found our destination. There was a queue of around two hours but we hovered and finally reached the doors to Anne Frank House, and toured around the actual rooms where the families hid for years. I’ve read Anne Frank’s diary but there weren’t too many extracts in the exhibitions, possibly to keep the visitor flow going through. It was quite eerie and very sombre; one of those once in a lifetime experiences.

For the whole holiday I wore these white sandals from Quiz which divided my friends as one hated them and one borrowed them every night and bought a pair when she got home! They are so satisfyingly chunky and comfortable due to that platform, but they are super easy to walk in and don't look like a heel at all. I've seen loads of cute girls wearing these 'ugly' sandals with Joni jeans et al, looking really sweet. Other outfits you've seen before but it was so hot that we couldn't handle wearing much!

After our first stop, we had a wander around a few shops and tried a very tasty strawberry tart from one of the many bakeries. It’s quite annoying when going on holiday and only finding touristy restaurants and cafes, but Amsterdam haunts weren’t too bad for day time eating, even though it took us a while to find decent evening places without photographs of the food in the windows! We took a hilarious trip around the Sex Museum, which was so bizarre to see rude selfies taken in the 1900s. Even when cameras were first invented, nudie photos were taken!

We hit a few bars for drinks and ended the night with plans to go on a bar crawl the next day, as we weren’t too sure where best to go and still didn’t want to be all dressed up and walking the streets in our usual heels and get up.

And then it was Friday – another chance for us to see the sights. We sipped fresh mint tea before embarking on a trip around the Heineken Experience. I managed to get a complimentary trip for the girls and I through my work so we made our way through the hilarious tour through the factory, smelling hops and mixing the barley (maybe!?).

They had a crazy ride where you took a trip through the real beer making process, before sampling the complimentary refreshments in the bar rooms which pumped out the music. This definitely put us in the mood to hit the town, but first we visited the iamsterdam sign and took a look around the Van Gogh museum. After finding out he was rather mad, we realised over dinner that the day had ran away with us and the pub crawl we had planned to go on would start in an hour! We vowed to get ready in the nick of time and speed walked towards the hotel, before bumping into one of the guys dotted around the city advertising the crawl and realising the first bar stop lasted two hours – not the whole crawl. OH!

So we all managed to shower and add as much makeup as possible in our tiny compact mirrors, before trying on all of my outfits in attempt to look dressy but not too dressy. In the end we just went with our usual glam outfits and walked to the first bar. When we paid, we worked our charm on the organiser and he gave us ‘special’ purple wrist bands and a mention in his 'speech'.  Well it turned out that half of the 200 people were purple and his speech consisted of telling everyone how messy and wasted we would get! When he mentioned ‘four sexy girls from Birmingham’ we literally stayed silent and hid haha! We realised everyone around us was already drunk and were either 18 or on a racous stag do, so it took us a few terrible shots and free watered down drinks to warm up. By the second bar we were laughing at the drunk people and avoiding the lurching stags, before reaching a final place where the toilets were 50 cents to use. This made our decision for us and we took the risk to abandon the crawl, even though we didn’t know quite where we would end up. Funnily enough, a bar that was recommended earlier to us was right infront of our eyes, so we stepped in and had some very reasonably priced sweet wine and soaked up some electro. I asked a group of hipsters where a club called Jimmy Woo was, as I had heard from many sources that it was the top club. Even more coincidentally it was right next door, so we walked up to the guest list queue and after looking down his list, the bouncer said we were (magically) on it and we walked straight in! This turned out to be the most perfect club with a heaving dance floor and a song list that we would have created ourselves.

We danced for the entire night and it was such a perfect sequence of events that we were content with just that night out, since having done so many activities during the days. This was proved by our late rise the next day and hangover breakfasts at 1pm. If we would have been out every night, we would never have visited so many parts of the city in the day, so really it’s either/or when choosing holiday priorities. Our main aim of the final day was to rent bikes but that didn’t quite happen, so we observed a really random photoshoot where some girls in matching playsuits started swimming in a pond, and then rounded off our trip an awesome restaurant with a gorgeous menu of delicate dishes, and we toasted our short trip. But oh no, it did not end there – we still had a few key places to see! The infamous red light district on a Saturday night was heaving, and due to the key time slots, the girls in the windows were amazing!! Literally like supermodels but with a lot less clothing and a lot more sass. We also saw a sex show which had a number of ‘acts’ in succession, each more crazy than the last! There are things I have seen that I can never unsee!!

After a few more cocktails to toast this craziness, it was time to grab a pizza slice and hit our beds, setting the alarm for a 6am rise for the airport. All in all it was a very expensive trip and we had so many more experiences that didn’t involve a three day hangover! We had loads of stories to tell and it’s a city you definitely have to visit once. Next I’d like to travel further afar to Prague or Budapest maybe, and then I might head towards my first long haul holiday. Better start saving those pennies!