Beauty

The Belfry Spa & Afternoon Tea Review, Sutton Coldfield

I will start this review with revealing that I have never been to a spa... ever!!! I have had plenty of facials and usually a monthly massage, but I have never had a girls' weekend or hen do situation at a spa. It's not quite the activity I'd embark on alone as I had no idea on spa etiquette until The Belfry invited me to try their Fire & Ice experience. A massage, afternoon tea and spa experience sounded sublime! I've had a really hectic few months and had a job change, so could a spa day slow down my whirring brain cogs for once?

It was a sunny Sunday when I travelled to the legendary golfing resort and strode into the leisure area. There is a swimming pool and gym area, but there are no screaming children here - it's a calm, clear space and much of the spa lounging facilities are tucked away in a zone upstairs, swathed in warm nudes and creams. After combing through the brochure of what to bring, I was already in my cozzie on arrival, and so I just wrapped up in my towelling robe in the changing room area. It was complete with dressing tables with hair dryers, plus huge cupboard lockers so I could lay out my things and store my fluffy towel.

My back massage was definitely one of the best I've had. When I visit a local salon for my usual 30 minute session, I hurriedly arrive carrying all of the stress of the day, just about unwind, and suddenly I'm throwing my clothes back on and setting out again. I completely appreciated the upgrade of having the chance to relax into the setting and let the effects of the massage continue all day. It was the perfect start to the day; drifting off with the tension kneaded out of my tense shoulders. Oh, the perils of working at a computer all day long! The knots in my back could support a ship! I had a chance to sniff and choose the oils used too, and the bed was firm, rather than the fold up variety, set in a real room rather than a sectioned corner of a salon.

Next up was the Fire & Ice experience, so I padded back down to the circular tunnel housing various doors into small rooms. I began with a sauna and travelled across to an aromatic caldarium, igloo, hydrotherapy pool, and steam room... wow! The description of each stop and suggested timings were labelled at each door so even a novice like me could navigate clearly! There were quite a few people on their own and a few couples, so many times I was alone in the rooms despite it being a weekend. I spent around an hour exploring the different zones as I was curious to see what was next, but you could spend around 1.5hrs enjoying the contrasting experiences. I wasn't brave enough to tip the bucket of ice water over my head but I might have been if I were with a friend!

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I had a good hour before my scheduled afternoon tea once I had showered and was back in my robe. My next destination was the relaxation room; a zen lounge full of sofas, beds and snug little cubby corners with tassel curtains. Other guests were chatting softly or mostly napping, and I picked out the corner sofa, drew back the curtain and dived into my book (HPDH if you're wondering). I cannot tell you just how relaxed I felt, it was like I couldn't have been brought back to the woes and to-dos of reality even if I tried! I was absolutely loving the feeling after soothing my body with the warming spa experience and now being contained in my soft bubble. My book was even slipping out of my hands, I was so chilled!

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Soon I was soothed into a dream-like state and was floating around in an alternative universe! I felt safe and warm, and my to-do list was so irrelevant as I was completely in the present moment, doing exactly what I needed to be doing. I was definitely peckish by the time my afternoon tea was scheduled and I tucked into quaint sandwiches, fluffy, warm scones piled with sweet jam and thick cream, and sampled delectable little cakes. I had the time to savour each tasty bite and really enjoyed the lunch. As it was a Sunday, my instinct was to now head home and make a start on my endless task list, but I ignored that familiar nagging voice and was drawn back to the relaxation lounge where my own corner was still vacant and welcomed me in. I spent a few more hours reading and continuing the feeling of utter contentment. What bliss!

Thank you to The Belfry Spa for having me - hope I'll see you again very soon!


Palette Profile: Huda Beauty Desert Dusk

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In the past 12 months or so, I've gone a little nuts for eyeshadow palettes. With 500+ makeup screenshots saved on my phone, there's always a new colour combination I need to try, and any makeup hoarder will know that a "similar" shade just will not cut it (or cut the crease shall we say).

I've also grown to appreciate how palettes are designed as a family of shades, and generally sticking to the curated selection will mean all colours work and blend together seamlessly, resulting in that dream of wearing ten different shades without looking like a clashing rainbow. You can dive in and dabble without very much planning, and only need one set for a whole week when travelling.

It just so happens too that the current trend for pinks, purples, warm oranges and reds are totally my shades. Each palette offers a billion new looks and once received, I'll be absolutely scrolling through hashtags and searching YouTube for tutorials, fawning over my new obsession. I'm going to start a series of posts called Palette Profiles to share my favourites and not-so favourites with you. I'm totally an enabler! 

First up is the shining star of my palette collection right now: the Huda Beauty Desert Dusk palette. At a hefty £50+, this bad boy offers a range of 18 matte, pearl, duo-chrome and glitter shadows in opulent sunset hues, each almost 1 gram, plus a hugeee mirror. 

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Starting with the mattes, they do air on the chalky side but a tacky primer will allow you to pack them on and maximise on the warm peach of Eden, the coral pop of Saffron or the surprisingly flattering orange Blazing. This palette offers the ultimate rose gold eye! Amethyst is by far my favourite though as it's so hard to make a magenta classy rather than barbie.

Cosmo is a satisfyingly chunky glitter that definitely needs the aid of a wet brush or balm.  I've dabbled in the pearls as a contrasting layer over the lid and inner corner, with Twilight and Retrograde lighting up any look without being frosty.


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Here are a few (rather filtered) looks I've pulled from the past few months, from deep purple to a fiery sunset. If you're thinking 'oh that bottom right picture looks ten times better than the rest' it's because I had my makeup done by a local artist to get some new inspiration and damn, those brows were amazing! She used the rose shades and a gold pigment for a sparkling lid, plus heavy winged liner that I never thought I could pull off. I did inquire about a Huda makeover but the new counter in Selfridges Birmingham only offered foundation matching at the time as they were so busy! I really want to do the full sunset package next with the burnt oranges and bright purples, so I'll need to hit YouTube!
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Despite the price, this really is a shape-shifting palette for bold looks. The colours will surprise you and it is much easier to use than you would assume at first look. If you like playing with colour and going to town on the eyes, you definitely need this to complete your palette arsenal. Thank me later!


Face of the Night with IT Cosmetics

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If you've watched my vlogs you'll know I can achieve a lot in an hour, even though that does usually mean another 30 mins faffing for heels and ordering the taxi. When it comes to getting ready for a night out, often I have planned my outfits and my makeup look so I can dive in and speedily pack on a lot of makeup. I can't just go with the flow as who knows what kind of pastel, shimmery, smokey eye I could end up frantically rubbing off while my mate is on her way round! I always have an inspiration screen shot or YT video at the ready so I know which colours to pick, and you can see mine below from last weekend.

Any new purchases take centre stage as I'll plan a look around them, whether it's a new shadow palette or liquid lipstick. I received a surprise parcel from IT Cosmetics in the post and have been pondering the products, waiting for the right time to dive in. A morning before work is not the time to experiment, especially when you'll have to wear something throughout the day in unforgiving daylight, but night time is the right time!

The Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer is heeeeavy duty. I usually use the Maybelline Under Eye Eraser which can't exactly be called thin, but IT's offering is the consistency of tacky paint, and a little goes a long way when warmed up with finger taps. That tacky consistency allows it to stretch without you rubbing it away, and welcomes a light dusting of powder over the top to blend with your foundation. This is everything!

 

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Shout out to the Brow Powder too, which is actually a wind up pencil so that's rather confusing. The best this is that it's strong enough to make bold strokes without it snapping, and thin enough to be precise. I don't want to go back to a brush and powder, it just doesn't have the control!

Unfortunately I'm not sure where this inspiration image is from but I didn't quite go as golden or shimmery, so I'll definitely be using this image again over the festive season!

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The Hand and Foot Spa, Selfridges Birmingham

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Last week I had the pleasure of trying out The Hand and Foot Spa at Selfridges, Birmingham. You're probably thinking, hold up, what about the acrylics?! Well yes, I've had back to back acrylics for around seven years now and I have a love/hate relationship with them. There's nothing like a fresh set and a polish that's everlasting, but what used to be a relaxing treat is now time consuming and boring. I don't like sitting at the salon for up to two hours at a time every three weeks and I'm constantly feeling more picky about just how many people those tools have been used on. When your hand is brushed with that giant kabuki and loads of debris and powder puffs out... yes, you know the one. Argh!

Now that you're thoroughly grossed out, it came at a fateful time that I met Donna Haar-Jørgensen, founder of the established London spa, just before Christmas. The Hand and Foot Spa had just launched at the Selfridges Birmingham Beauty Hall and the concept was so unique. First there is a snazzy iPad station with a Clueless-style app to show any nail polish colour on your nails just by snapping a photo of your hand!

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This completely takes out that connundrum of trying to choose a polish at the salon but hating it as soon as it's applied on a few nails, but it's too late to turn back! I've frequently chosen a pink that was to pearly, or a nude that turned out to channel a corpse vibe on my pale skin. It helped me go totally off piste and choose a super dark navy blue. I've never had a colour like this but the shade made the most of my little nails and didn't wash out my skin tone.

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I'd had my acrylics taken off that morning and it highlighted the best thing about The Hand and Foot Spa. A brand new nail kit is used for each customer, including every instrument from file to metal clippers. You even get to take the kit home with you, making your manicure stretch as far as your purse! What a genius idea and such a luxury.

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My sessions really flew by as my nails were primped and preened. Years of acrylics meant they were super thin and bendy, but they were rounded off, buffed and treated to a glorious hand massage with the spa's own natural hand cream. Then came a warm paraffin wax treatment inside these gloves that were pre-heated, giving the type of relaxation you can only achieve from a warm bubble bath.

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One SUPER shiny manicure later and my nails were showing no sign of the years of abuse from the electric drill! Smooth and glossy, with hands that were beyond hydrated, this truly is a manicure that goes to the next level. A week on and despite a few chips around my weak tips, they're still as shiny as ever.

You can book in yourself via The Beauty Workshop on 0121 600 6718. A visit would make a great Mother's Day gift too!


TONY MOLY | Selfridges Beauty Hall

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There's a new brand on my makeup radar and it's super kitsch, super cute and super cult. TONY MOLY is a beauty hit hailing from South Korea but now we can get our paws on these adorable products at Selfridges. It's ALL about the super food ingredients in the best packing ever. Quality and cuteness!

I've been trialling the Egg Pore silky smooth balm, Panda's Dream hand cream and Mini Berry lip balm and it's been a fun ride. The lip balm and hand cream have taken pride of place on my work desk and have achieved endless compliments for their adorable aesthetics. I feel like the punchy designs contribute to my office feng sui of feeling inspired yet chic. I love to add a little fun into my routine. The hand cream is whipped with a light honey fragrance so it hydrates my hands and wrists rather than greasing them up so I'm unable to type for five minutes, and gives them a nice healthy glow. The cherry lip balm has a flushing coral tint for a pretty flash of colour. The formula is also thicker than your average lip pot. I can't stand slippery lip products and this is much more soothing and impactful on parched lips.

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I've been applying the Egg Pore primer to my nose area to blur out those dreaded pores that foundation just will not mask. It's more of a waxy balm than a stiff, drying silicone and allows foundation to smooth over rather than stick. The hydration is much appreciated during these months of switching up baking office heating with freezing air when I walk to and from work. Do I need a car yet? Still not sure!

Don't miss the fun beauty cubes in the Selfridges beauty hall; they house some sweet wonders that will perk up your makeup bag and make a welcome difference to your routine. Makeup bag or fruit bowl? Why not both!


HD Brows with Benito Brow Bar | Debenhams, Bullring

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I don’t think I’m a ‘brow girl’ as I never feel like I have mine quite right. Not only are my brows two different shapes - I even feel like the two sides of my face are sisters rather than twins! Symmetry is not my best feature! I need help and guidance in this area but my brows have been looking more than groomed over this party season thanks to a trip to the Benito Brow Bar in Debenhams Bullring for their collaboration with High Definition (HD). 

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I lay back in the chair and my brows were threaded, plucked and tinted into a defined set that literally lifted my no-makeup face from sad to sculpted! Rather than a hop in-and-out of the chair experience from my local nail shop, there’s a tailored approach to totally transform your current brows. If you’re needing an overhaul like me, trust the experts and give your sisters a whole new look. Trust me, your eye makeup will never look better!

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I also bumped into Ting and she kindly filmed the experience for my weekly vlog below. Thank you Ting! Enjoy with a cuppa (or a Christmas Baileys!).


Halloween with #DebsGlamoween

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Happy Halloween ghouls and gals! Last week I hurried along to a frightfully fabulous beauty event held at Debenhams Bullring and it seriously got me in the spooky spirit. OK I'll quit the puns there, but it got me oh so inspired for Halloween and you can see my look here!

Debenhams hosted an extravaganza of Halloween beauty and we bloggers were treated to a masterclass from different counters. I don't always head to Debenhams first for my makeup buys but with the likes of Illamasqua and Make Up For Ever on my doorstep now, my product wishlist just got a whole lot longer.

First we followed a contoured skeleton look at Make Up For Ever, home of the HD foundation that was possibly my first ever Kardashian-inspired purchase circa 2011. I love the concession area they have now and these are the light-up mirrors of my dreams! MUFE have so many pro and niche products, from skin moulding putty to a very blood-like red liquid. I'm keen to try their base and finishing products as the quality is so high and they can ugrade your FOTD to flawless finish levels. Their HD powder is the one! We had a sample to take home with us and it's like applying fairy dust each morning - it's so light yet so good!

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With a glass of fizz in hand, we popped across to Illamasqua and all adored Chetna's cryptic clown look. I loved chatting to her about all of the different looks she was trying each day for Magikmasqua. HOW cute is this one! I've recently bought a palette, lipstick and contour duo after having a makeover there and I'm firmly an Illamasqua convert. They have some Christmas gift sets of all different sorts of products and we also tried the latest collect in aid of the charity S.O.P.H.I.E., which Illamasqua has a long standing partnership with.

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Next we took a seat the glitteringly gothic Urban Decay counter and watched the classic costume tutorial of 'I'm a mouse, duh!'. Genius! The unicorn tears are so sweet too. Absolute glitter goals! We cooed over the palettes and admired their adorable pumpkin. I've been waiting literally years for my perfect Urban Decay palette and as soon as they bring out a warm, peachy set, I'll be straight there. I haven't given UD enough focus in recent years as I feel they are all about the colour, and nowadays I'm not sure if brights really suit me! That is nothing makeover can't sort out though - I must book in soon and find my perfect UD shades!

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Thank you Debenhams for a hugely inspirational evening and a peek at some gorgeous products. I also included the evening in my weekly vlog below! Did you know I have started weekly vlogging again? Indeed I have!


A Skincare Transformation

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Last year I felt the urge to trade up my skincare. I was just really fed up of scrimping and feeling lacking. A final ripple of a quarter life crisis, I was ready to splash some hard-earned cash, even though it eternally feels like you do not have enough. I see friends and colleagues around me saving and going without for months, only to get on the property ladder and then have to scrimp even more! I work hard but I've decided I'm not going to spend my 20's stopping myself from doing things because I'm saving hard for the future. The future is now! And alongside a little saving, I can do a little spending. I've spent a couple of years really stepping away from luxury brands and skincare, visiting even Boots and Superdrug once in a very blue moon, and avoiding any impulse purchases. Well you only live once, and I'm still saving each month but I'm also spending a little, making the most of years I can't get back and perking up my life.

And I bit the bullet with my skincare! Mine was just not the one - I'd swipe away makeup with micellar water and splash on some moisturiser, then exfoliate when my skin was feeling especially drab or I was about to apply a lot of makeup. When your routine is minimal and has no real thought behind it, the last thing you want to do is go out and buy more products, clogging your face with layers of product and scent. I even had a few expensive oils but now I see there was no point in using them when my base was just not prepped. I never really cleared my skin to a high degree, and I never really fed it well. It was a cycle of not completely refreshing my skin and not feeling the benefits of any goodness.

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It began when I dived into Caroline Hiron's blog. Beauty bloggers rave about it and one day it was time for me to open my mind and listen to the skincare gospel. I'm not going to reiterate Caroline's advice but I can say that her routines work. Her advice works. It just does! I would start by reading her cheat sheets, the most succinct being the Routines cheat sheet that details the steps you should take. At first the sound of cleansing twice followed by acids (yikes), eye creams, oils, serums, moisturisers etc all in one morning seemed insane. In fact it's miraculous. After using products in this sequence, each step either perfects and clears my skin like nothing else, or gives it litres of goodness. Clogged, rough, irritated or heavy does not come into the equation. If you're not convinced on the need to double cleanse, check out this cheat sheet. To start formulating a shopping list back in September, I then browsed the other sheets that listed recommendations in each of the product categories, noting them down and shopping around websites to find which I could get the best deals on. Once your haul has arrived, visit the application cheat sheet to see which amounts best to use. Then you're on your way!

Since I've actually tried, tested and used up these products, here are my thoughts. You can search for them on Caroline's blog to hear the benefits of each one and why they are in her good books. I made orders on Feel Unique (great service and freebies), Cult Beauty (4 day delivery costs £4 and it came in ugly packaging) and on the high street, using discount codes and cash back sites to get even better deals.

Clinique Take The Day Off Balm - I thought Clinique was a brand all about the hype but it turns out it really does offer great skincare. I don't know how previously I was too tired or time-stretched to wash my face properly, and yet now it's something I look forward to as I know it's going to go well and I will end up with clear, clean and prepped skin, You get a mega 125ml of product so even four months later I have enough product left to last a couple more weeks, and teamed with a bog standard flannel, this takes off all of my makeup, including MAC Pro Longwear foundation. You don't necessarily need a specific balm if you don't wear heavy makeup every day, but I'm sure your face is covered in enough junk from transport, office air-con and pollution to justify it anyway. This is a definite repurchase. I toyed with Emma Hardy but this is half the price, or the Una Brenan oil which is always on offer in Boots.

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Ren Clarifying Clay - Now that most of your makeup is erased, the second cleanse can treat your skin type. I'm prone to a few blemishes and my skin can be clogged with city life so I chose a clay cleanser. This transforms into a milk, has a soothing botanical smell that is right up my street, and after a swipe of  flannel my skin is now just so clean and balanced. It's the best feeling, its almost addictive. The product is inside a sachet in a pump bottle, so in order to get all of the product out, I had to crack open the bottle somehow and cut into the sachet. Not very handy! But I would repurchase this, though I also considered the Clarins Extra Comfort Cleansing Cream which I would pick up if it was a better deal.

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Pixi Glow Tonic - I love exfoliators and when you don't take your makeup off properly, those dead skin cells really stack up. Previously my exfoliator gave me that fresh, smooth skin that was so ready for primer, foundation and concealer, but now I realise that is too harsh. The toner step in the iconic 'cleanse, tone and moisturise' routine that we all know was originally designed to be an acid toner, but the high street has taken the term and now any sort of water with a splash of chemicals can be called a toner. You're meant to use an acid to do all of the exfoliating work and not those scratchy, harsh beads or scrubs. Pop a touch of Pixi Glow Tonic on a cotton pad every night and you never ever feel the need to exfoliate with a scrub. Tight, flaky foundation is a thing of the past and my blusher and contour does not go patchy the way it used to. Your skin does 'glow' but in a natural way, not a red rashy way. I considered the Clarins Clarifying Lotion or the First Aid Beauty Pads but the Pixi toner has lasted me way longer than the 60 FA pads would have. I may try the Clarins lotion next as you can only get Pixi in certain places, but Caroline has stated only to use it a few times a week.

La Roche Posay Serozinc - This slipped out of my routine as I didn't really see the point! It doesn't add any benefit that's even comparable to the other products so why do I need a spray of water? It's a placebo product I feel!

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Body Shop Drops Of Youth range - I have reviewed these products already but they are all repurchases - especially the Bouncy Sleeping Mask. I use the eye serum morning and night and the other two exclusively at night. I want to try more of the Vitamin A and C ranges next so I have my eye out for a discount code! The Body Shop always exclusive their best products from their endless discount codes which is annoying.

Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum - After I've cleansed, toned and rolled on the Body Shop eye serum above (do this before the following), I move onto an oil/serum and moisturiser/treatment. In the morning I use a serum and moisturiser, and in the evening I use an oil or the Body Shop concentrated serum above, and then a treatment like the Sleeping Mask. The Vichy serum was a great price in comparison to many serums and it's great under makeup as it sinks in beautifully. An oil or treatment that sticks around would really upset foundation. I'm not too dedicated to this though and may try another high street serum or maybe Clarins Hydraquench - can you see a Clarins theme here? They have good free gifts at the moment with multiple purchases hmm...

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Clinique Moisture Surge - I've ran out of this baby and I need another pronto. It's just perfect! Other brands offer similar gel moisturisers but this is so flawless under makeup, over the Vichy serum. I'd toy with exploring high street gel moisturisers though as I don't think its 'wet' formula is too unique, and a moisturiser can afford to be one of the cheaper products in your routine (ironic words there!) as it's just a barrier, rather than a treatment. I'm also sizing up the Indeed Labs Fillume.

Bio-Essence Aqua Droplet Sleeping Beauty Mask - Caroline Hirons flipped out about this mask but I felt stronger results in the morning from the Bouncy Sleeping Mask. Reading Caroline's review again, my rubbing motion may be better as a wipe and pat so I'll try that tonight as I never felt any 'droplets bursting'. I have quite a lot left so I'm unsure if it's a repurchase yet. It smells strongly of artificial watermelon and I'm not entirely sure that's on purpose. It's very cooling and like a whipped gel or very light jelly. It just doesn't feel like it sinks in and in the morning I can't spot a difference!

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So now I've ran out of my Ren second cleanser and the Clinique Moisture Surge, and I'm almost out of the Clinique TTDO, Pixi Glow Tonic and Body Shop Bouncy Sleeping Mask, although I have plenty of Bio-Essence left. The eye serum and serum concentrate from The Body Shop are still going strong, and the Vichy serum bit the dust first. Do you have any recommendations similar to these? I'm about to repurchase a bunch of things but I'm awaiting some great discount codes nearer the end of January! 


All Hail A #TilburyTaxi


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On a weekend you'll find me in rather a few too many taxis as my heels are not made for pavements, but I've never been in a taxi quite like this! A few lucky black cabs were treated to a Charlotte Tilbury makeover in aid of the Selfridges Live + Loud event and the email jumped out as a great way to get to know a brand I've never really tried. If only you could jump in every taxi, have a fabulous make-over and then come out the other side looking glam! Well the #TilburyTaxis offer just that when they pop up across cities, and my blogger credentials meant I had an appointment nice and early on Saturday morning to experience a complimentary quick trick by one of Charlotte's backstage Lead Artists Julia. I heard the appointments got booked up like hot cakes so I arrived fresh faced and ready to experience something magical.

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Now truth be told, I've never 'got' Charlotte Tilbury. The first time I explored the brand, the make up artist told me that Charlotte herself feels she has to always wear black eyeliner because she's a redhead and has fair skin. Now I'm a redhead with fair skin and I don't feel I have to, so that comment always stuck in my mind and whenever I pass the counter, I always think of it. I dabbled in the brand by purchasing Pillow Talk lip liner after Amelia Liana raved about it, and yes it is the most perfect pouty 'my lips but so much better' colour. At night I find it too pink but in the daytime it really enhances your make up to the most gorgeous level with just a sweep of the pencil. I checked out the Norma Parkinson collection launch too and that's where I just didn't feel the brand was for me. I put it in the box that I consider Benefit in - it's all about the brand. It's the packaging, the product names and the 'magical' effects that they promise that my sceptical side feels are a bit excessive. They fit perfectly into the world of marble beauty blogger photos, but I always feel to me that the most important thing when buying make up is the shade and finish on your own face, and it makes me feel dizzy when the fancy names and decadent packaging gets in the way. I feel I'm just being sucked in by the noise around the product rather than the actual thing!

But how many people rave about Charlotte Tilbury? Possibly every single blogger. So I have been itching to have a makeover at CT as you know that I usually always trial products at counter makeover appointment where you can redeem the cost. A qualified makeup artist hand-picking the shades and products for you is so important to me as you never know how something will look for certain before you've parted with your cash. My funds have been put towards different brands this year though, and so having this makeover was definitely a test for me. Could I be a Tilbury girl?

The answer is yes or else I wouldn't be writing this post! Charlotte Tilbury has a range of set make up looks where you can purchase the products as a set in a box. These have the hefty price tag of around £200 and a make up artist once told me that a gentleman selected a set for his wife, mistress and daughter one Christmas, choosing a suited look for each! My make up artist Julia was so sweet and was really excited to get started, as was I! Once I stepped into the taxi, I got swooped into the hype, with the mirrored draw stack full of the products awaiting. We chose the Vintage Vamp look, using antique gold and deep rouge tones for the classic siren look, swapping smoky shades for deep brown liner and rust eye shadow.

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And predictably I'm hooked! From talking to Julia, I learned that as Charlotte is such a well known and acclaimed make up artist, she would never put her name to any product that was not of a superbly high standard. After experiencing the range, the high price tags are justified in my eyes, which were framed in the most beautiful shades from the Vintage Vamp Luxury Eye Palette. That palette is what dreams are made of! I love the Barbarella Brown eye pencil too and the pop of ruby red blush in Love is the Drug. I really think I need to get this lip combo of Night Crimson Lipstick, Savage Rose Lipliner and Unleash Me Lip Lacquer. If only I wasn't going on a super expensive holiday next week!

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I did walk away with a few products and let me tell you, the £58 dent in my purse was definitely noticed. However I really was in love with these items and they were on my shopping list that day. They're not in a famed colour but it was the quality of all of the products that really made their mark for me. The Airbrush Flawless Finish powder was SO fine yet made such a difference. It felt like absolutely nothing on my skin yet did all the work of a heavy duty powder. A dust of this on your brush leaved a feather light layer to set your make up beautifully. I can't believe how great it looks without any cake. The Retoucher just seemed the perfect concealer. Hydrating, smoothing, pigmented, this was created by Charlotte to take out imperfections at the most close-up photoshoots. I am a little sceptical about pen packaging and I think it can conceal only a small amount of product, but so far it's a dream to use. I've been saving these for nights out and weekend looks, and even kept them in the boxes - such respect! I'm excited to feel part of the Tilbury gang now and will be scoping out the rest of the products for the Christmas party season.


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.