High Definition Brows @ Benito Brow Bar, Debenhams


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


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


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


A Boots Haul



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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

A Slice of Heaven: The Moseley Haven, Birmingham

This year had been a turning point in my focus on well-being, motivation and self-nurture. As a single, independent person I have a lot of 'me' time, but that also means I'm the only one responsible for looking after myself. When my to-do list gets clogged up with every single little thing I've been putting off or have yet to even start exploring, and the two free days of the week feel like they flutter by in a flash of errands and commitments, you do stop to ask if you are truly content, and secondly, if you are thriving. I usually skip the content part and push myself to achieve and set goals that never seem to end. This year I've been spending time reviewing and thinking mindfully about how I can be more 'in the present' and feel energised by my current situation and experiences, rather than propelling myself to a future dream that is never achieved because there's always a next step after that. Time to stop and smell the roses.

As much of a multi-taker that I am, I also know that sole, calm experiences are something I used to have a lot of, and now find hard to factor in. Whether it was browsing charity shops across the city for hours as a teenager hunting vintage clothing, to reading all of the books in the Young Adult section of the library, to writing blog posts about every little detail of my life in 2007, I used to glide into my 'me' time with ease. Now I fill it with errands, tax returns, courses, budgeting, or just reminding myself of what I should be doing, when in fact the world will not stop if none of those things are not done immediately. I slowly but surely turned over a new leaf and made a conscious effort to read, write and be open to 'treating' myself. After all, what are we working for if it's not to enrich ourselves, enabling us to create better lives for us and those around us?

I received a wonderful email from Alison Knowles, an experienced beauty therapist who recently opened a new beauty spa in local Moseley Village; The Moseley Haven. I'm so keen to explore the business' we have around us. I have grown up frequenting the green grocer and visiting the markets in town with my mom, and today I like to dabble in any local offerings, from dance classes to beauty to cocktails. There's nothing like experiencing a local independent, and Alison mentioned that her spa uses Eve Taylor Aromatherapy products, who is the creator of Dermalogica oils and the found of professional aromatherapy, with an OBE to prove it. I've had many facials, which I'll come onto next, and the products are a key player in not only the results, of course, but the facial experience itself. Eve Taylor is only available to professionals so this was a unique chance to try the skincare in all its glory. 


On the bright Saturday morning I strolled along to Alison's beautiful house; if you know Birmingham then you'll certainly know that Moseley Village is so picturesque and serene. The spa is the most ambient, inviting space, and feels especially cosy but also refreshing and tranquil - a hard balance to reach. When going to an in-store or hectic spa, it does feel like an extravagant affair that I never know if I am 'grown up' enough for and also doesn't always feel private, but The Moseley Haven is so inviting and the sort of place you want to take your time to enjoy and appreciate - and never want to leave! After the warmest welcome from Alison, I felt right at home and settled into the heavenly, heated bed ready for the Skin Quenching Facial. The setting felt quite literally like you had stepped into an oasis of calm and it's easy to drift away. 

I started this blog almost nine years ago because when I feel passionate about something, I want to tell all of my family and friends about it. Facials and spa treatments are the most wonderful experience as there is nothing like the care someone gives your skin at that moment, the music, the excitement to see the results, and not to mention the amazing massages and treatments. If you have a good facial experience, this will include hand, neck and shoulder massages too! I urge everyone I know to have treatments alongside their usual beauty routines as I can't stress enough how luxurious they are and so much more of a buzz than buying a fast-fashion dress. The feeling is priceless!


Each stage of the facial blended into one another yet each felt like a different chapter for the skin, and you feel more and more harmonious as the hour goes on. The Skin Quenching facial starts with preparing with the Balancing Cleanser, with Lavender and Jasmine, Sage, Linden Blossom, Rosewood and Soya to balance and harmonise the skin; then an all-important Enzyme Peel. Papain and Bromelain enzymes gently break down the surface skin cells and loosen comedones, aka blemishes, and Bentonite clay absorbs excess oils. Then there is an incredible lymphatic draining massage for the face and decolette using a treatment oil with Rosewood, which helps promote cellular stimulation, Jasmine for balancing the skin, and plant oils to protect moisture and natural oil levels. Facials are so important if you take your skincare seriously as there is just no way you could work this sort of magic on your face yourself. It's not just the products but the actual motions on your skin that really make the ingredients work and literally breathing life into your face contours. Yes - did you know a facial actually creates sculpted cheekbones and lifts the eyes, it's not just your skin's appearance that is affected.

The Soothing Masque gave the healing powers of Green Tea, and then Alison's favourite Oxygen Response Serum concluded the hour, which aids Oxygenation of the cells, leading to skin renewal and removal of those toxins. The treatment finishes with the Refining Eye Gel containing Algae and Seaweed extracts for firmness with reduced puffiness, and Balancing Moisturising Lotion with the star Vitamin E. Not only do you have a sublime experience, but you are also set to leave with skin that is perfectly primed and ready to take on the elements and continue working across your day, complete with SPF. Absolute bliss! My skin felt like a flawless canvas, glowing with hydration.


The Moseley Haven also offers popular gel manicure and pedicures using China Glaze, lashes, waxing and massage treatments.

"Regular facials are so important to keep your skin balanced and looking at its best, using the right products will help with your skin tone and complexion, and the facial draining massage helps keep the skin firm and helps release any toxins which can lead to unwanted puffiness, dullness and keep the skin glowing and radiant.
Using products at home with a good skin routine is very important but the reason facials are great is because you get the facial massage which has so many benefits to the skin and really boosts your circulation.
Having regular treatments is also very beneficial to your well-being and gives you time to really relax and de-stress." - Alison Knowles
I also loved how the Eve Taylor products were based on natural essential oils; a reason the range was chosen as the signature for Alison; also making for a serene and natural experience. Paraben and fragrance free, and not tested on animals, it's practically saintly. Alison uses the peel or mask to exfoliate once a week herself and then applies either the Soothing masque to hydrate the skin or the Purifying masque to combat any impurities. Words of professionals are gospel to me! Why do I never use masks?!
The dream would be to have facials every few weeks and then continue on every month or so when you have settled into a great skincare routine. I can't say I ever have a constant run of feeling my skin is especially pampered, as once you have felt your skin after a facial you realise it's never been so clear or so hydrated. I'll definitely be visiting the spa again to influence not only my skin but also my well-being and self-appreciation - the prices are extremely reasonable too.
And Alison's top beauty tips? Always remove makeup before going to bed, always use a sunscreen on top of your daily moisturiser and don’t forget to include your neck and décolleté when you do your skincare routine.

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?