One Stop Self Tanning Shop ~ which one is right for you?

I tutted at myself today as I realised I’ve been self tanning most of the winter, hiding golden limbs under winter woollies… and then the minute there’s enough heat to get my legs out, they’re bottle white!

Self tanning can be very daunting if it’s not something you’re familiar with.  From compiling this post I’ve realised I may be a bit over familiar, eek - but hopefully that’s to your benefit! I’ll be sharing my thoughts on more products in the run up to summer, but assuming I’m not the only one who got caught out ‘unprepared’ in the UK’s recent sunny weather, I thought it might be useful to give a quick rundown of some favourites I’ve used and loved to date…

If you’re not comfortable with applying self tanning products, I wrote a foolproof guide here.

Instant Self Tan

An utter godsend for moments like the above.  It’s hot… I can’t bear to cover up completely but neither do I want to blind everyone with my fluro skin.


Karora - a recent discovery. Natural, organic wash off formula for a golden glow with a subtle sheen. Review 


Fame Instant Mineral Tan by Rockstar Tan - gorgeously golden splashproof instant tan for face & body

St Moriz Instant Self Tanning Lotion - great formula, easy to apply, instant deep colour with wear off formula

Anatomicals Tanatomicals body and face instant tan - good for darker skins

Review of above three


Gradual Tans

Also known as moisturising self tanners. Basically a body lotion that includes a small amount of self tanning properties, allowing you to build a gradual tan through applying daily or every few days until you achieve the result you want.  The colour will build over around 4 hrs then wear off naturally and is generally quite light in colour, so perfect for this time of year.

076 054

Xen Tan Transform - smells divine and gives a gorgeous golden colour. Great on its own or for topping up a natural or faux tan.

Entourage Gradual Tan by Rockstar Tan - perfect for very pale skins, gives subtle colour and nourishment, pretty foolproof!   Review of both


Karora Gradual Bronzing Moisturiser SPF 15 - gorgeously moisturising, natural golden tan - Review


Full on Self Tanning products

Personally I think instant and gradual tanners are the way to go at this time of year, when a golden glow is more flattering than a full on tropical tan.  If you can’t wait for a bronzing bonanza, here are tried & tested reviews of some standard self tanners (each name links to my review):

If you can’t stand the biscuity smell of self tan, Xen-Tan Scent Secure makes it disappear - don’t ask me how; it just does! I reviewed its newest Gold formula here, which contains 24c gold leaf and doubles up as a beautiful instant tanner!

Gosh I’ve reviewed a lot of self tanners!  If you have any questions, tips or favourites, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you! Thanks for reading, Nic x





Monday Mani ~ Spring Sparkle

I thought a pretty mani would be a cheery way to start each week and share my latest favourite nail look. It will also encourage me to look after my nails and cuticles all the time and not just when disaster strikes! I hope you like the first of my Monday Mani series…


The first sunny weekend of Spring made me want bright nails with a touch of glitter to catch the sun’s rays, so this is what I came up with… Spring Sparkle! 


The gorgeous orange shade is Peachy Rose #021 by GOSH and the gold glitter is by Saffron London, picked up cheap as chips on eBay, inspired by the lovely Fee over at Makeup Savvy. The colour isn’t peachy or rose, but what I’d describe as a ‘soft’ orange. It’s bright, but has a gentleness about it. I applied two coats for this look.


I’ve never had a full on glitter top coat before and am so impressed with this one with fine particles of glitter alongside little squares and large hexagons, which sometimes needed a little manipulation to place. You could use tweezers or a cocktail stick to do this, though I seemed to manage with the brush as I didn’t want them to look too uniform.

This last shot was to show the colour out of direct sunlight, though you can barely tell the difference!


I liked the sparkle just on tips to avoid an OTT daytime look. The glitter particles are set in a thickish clear gel polish, so I definitely needed a top coat to smooth out the surface, though this wouldn’t necessarily be the case if I’d covered the whole nail with glitter.


I’ve been using Orly Polishield for a couple of months and think it’s a fantastic topcoat - think I got mine from BeautyBay. If you’ve used Seche Vite, they are comparable, except this one is less gloopy and takes a little longer to dry. As you can see in the pic above it has a similar almost plastic effect smooth finish.

So do you like my first Monday Mani? What have you been wearing on your nails this weekend?


Filorga Skincare ~ a guest post by my lovely sister

Laboratoires Filorga is a French skincare brand, much loved by models and celebs.  I was testing another range when I was sent this for review, so once pics were taken I handed over these stylish pots of loveliness to my big sis (& bestest friend), Paloma.  

This is her review and my first guest post on the blog!  Paloma is a skincare fanaticist, always searching for her holy grail products and has tested most high end brands in existence… I shall leave you in her very capable hands!
I loved the whole experience of using these products. Firstly because of the look of them… the packaging has a chic aesthetic, combined with convincing science. (The black packaging and double F logo are reminiscent of one of my favourite brands’ interlocking Cs!)

I also liked the consistency of the creams compared to the last moisturizer I used, Elemis Marine Cream.  I loved the Elemis, but it seemed to evaporate daily. The Filorga went on easily and yet had reassuring body to it.
Filorga Day 197
The Iso Structure (Absolute firming day cream) has to be worked well into the skin, and after three weeks of using it, I really didn't want to put on any foundation. My skin looked smooth and firm, had fewer flaws and seemed nice and bright.
176  177
The Sleep and Peel (Resurfacing night cream) has a mild tingle when you apply it. I liked this, as it convinced me that it was gently exfoliating all the dead stuff off my face as I slept!  It’s also richly moisturising.
181 203
The Optim Eyes is for dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles, with a texture somewhere between a gel and a cream. I found it reasonably effective although quite drying - it wasn’t my favourite of the three products, so my search for the ultimate eye cream continues!

The day and night creams were definite winners - I was sorry to see the bottom of the jars and am sure if you are lucky enough to be able to combine these basic products with the serums, masks etc, you will see amazing results.

Thanks for a fabulous review sis!  Have you got any French skincare favourites?

Newry Style City ~ Get the Look ~ Hair & Makeup Tips

Hot on the heels of Belfast Fashion Week, Newry Style City kicks off tomorrow with a week of stylish events.

A series of free and ticketed events include catwalk shows and Online Fashion First Aid Clinics. I’m loving the sound of the official opening ‘Speed Styling’ event, where a host of beauty, fashion and lifestyle experts will offer one to one advice and tips to help fashionistas get set for the new season.

Here are some of my favourite looks that will feature at the event, with tips on how to recreate the hair & makeup at home…

Newry Style CIty 2012 fashion shoot Newry Style CIty 2012 fashion shoot

Get the Look - Makeup

Pastels 'It’s no secret that pastels are bang on trend for the Spring/Summer season, and your make up is no exception,” said makeup artist Paula Fraser.  “For the first look of the day, the clothes are all gorgeous soft floral prints in pretty pastel tones, so I’ve used an array of soft pastel pinks on the eyes, lips and cheeks for a fresh romantic look.

Lash it Up “A key look throughout the shoot was a really dramatic lash and this is easy to copy with the right false lashes.  I used the Eyelure Naturalites Double Lashes 207, which gave an intense, feathery look.”

Be Bold For the bolder for vibrant coloured looks Paula wanted to change the make up look completely and decided to use bright bold colours for major effect:  “I used aqua greens and blues to create a glamorous smokey eye, and on the lips, a neon coral pink which made them pop.”

Newry Style CIty 2012 fashion shootNewry Style City 2012 fashion shoot 

Get the Look: Hair

Soft tumbling curls are a key look for Spring Summer 2012; if wearing the hair down, hair stylist, Olivia Muldoon, suggests:  “Think Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl and go for a more dishevelled wave for a fresh feel. Using medium tongs, curl sections until all the hair is curled, then leave to cool before gently brushing out and setting with hairspray.”

Fake Bob “Pull most of the hair back into a hair elastic ¾ way down the hair into a loose ponytail. Fold up, under and secure at nape of neck with bobby pins; keep front section loose to frame face & finish with hairspray to hold. This is a really cute look with a pretty hairband worn across the forehead!”

Height and Drama “Take a large section from ear to ear and backcomb from front to crown. For extreme hold, use ‘Osis Dust it powder’ at roots where you have backcombed. Using your fingers, gently bring hair towards the bottom of the crown to create a beehive look. Pull into a low ponytail at nape of neck. To exaggerate height, use the end of your tail comb to lift the beehive to desired height. Finish with hairspray.”

Many thanks to Makeup Artist, Paula Fraser and Hair Stylist, Olivia Muldoon for sharing their tips with us!

All Creative Direction and Styling by the lovely Katrina Doran for

Full details of the coming week’s events are at


Mixing my dream lip colour with OCC Lip Tar

I made my own little OCC Lip Tar cocktail mix and came up with a colour which is close to my perfect lip shade! It was so much fun adding a teensy dot of each colour to alter the tone until it was just right.  It turned out this lovely watermelon type colour, which I just love!


The two OCC Lip Tars I used were Pretty Boy and Grandma, which I previously reviewed here if you’d like to see them swatched in their original state.


I mixed them with one of my favourite lip balms by First Aid Beauty - it’s thick and waxy, so mixed easily and held the colour well.


What do you think? Have you had a play with OCC Lip Tars and come up with anything special?


Wild Romantic Body Butter with Shea & Marula


Wild by name and wild by nature, the ingredients in this product range include some of Africa’s less known botanical treasures. The Romantic body butter with Shea and Marula oil is rich in antioxidants and fragranced with Ylang Ylang, Lavender and Patchouli.  Super rich and deeply moisturising it works wonders on legs that have been shielded by winter woollies for way too long!

Wild is a fair trade organisation set up by the lovely Valerie who spent her childhood in Kenya, going on safari and literally running a bit wild!  Inspired by the wealth of natural resources and ingredients at her fingertips, the Wild product range evolved.

“At Wild we can bring you all the energy, exuberance and bold, bright colours of Africa and mix it up with a little urban cool to bring sunshine right into your bathroom!

Using only the highest quality oils and the purest ingredients from trees and plants from Africa we have created a unique range of body butters, soaps and hand creams that are as beautiful to look at as they are fabulous for your skin.”

IMG_1411 IMG_1417IMG_1426 IMG_1421

I was really impressed by the quality of these products and love the big chunky embossed soap, which has a gentle massage effect on the skin.  The fragrance of this particular range brought me back to my student days - the patchouli reminds me of burning incense, which was all the rage in what my daughter calls ‘the olden days’! 

As a complete contrast, I’m loving the sound of Zingy Body Butter with Grapefruit and Kalahari Watermelon, which I think would be especially gorgeous in summer!

The texture of the body butter is reasonably soft - although quite solid (ie it won’t spill if you turn the tub upside down) it doesn’t need warming or softening in the hands before use and sinks into the skin quickly, leaving a lovely (non greasy) sheen.

The body butters cost £14.50 and soaps £5.25… if you buy both they come in this pretty African fabric bag, tied with a ribbon, which would make a lovely gift. The full range is available at Wild and you can tweet Valerie @MyWild_ - I love that her products and business have such a personal touch.

Wild is exhibiting at the Natural Organics show at Olympia 1-2 April 2012 and Valerie may be able to waive the entrance fee for some of my subscribers if any of you fancy going along! Please tweet her @MyWild_ if you are interested, mentioning this blog post.



Luxury £50 Spa Giveaway with Wahanda!

Wahanda very kindly offered me a £50 voucher recently, which I thought maybe one of you lovely people could put to better use than me!  If you fancy some tlc with a pampering spa treatment, facial or manicure, here's a chance to pamper yourself  for free!

Wahanda is the UK’s largest spa site, offering fantastic discounts on treatments in your area - you can browse Wahanda Spa Deals and see if there are any you like the look of near you!

The winner will be sent a promotion code for a £50 voucher, which can be applied to all deals that are purchasable or bookable on (you will see a little yellow ‘Wahanda Voucher accepted’ below valid deals & a purple ‘Buy Voucher’ next to them).

Entering is easy - just click on the link below!

Thanks & good luck!

Nic x


Mother’s Day Flowers by Sephora & a few treats

Happy Mother’s Day to my mummy followers. This letter from my little girl, Amber, is by far the loveliest Mother’s Day gift I’ve ever had - it’s on the fridge at the moment but it will be framed…


We’re going out for a lovely lunch today, but I just had to do a Nail of the Day post with Sephora’s ‘Mother’s Day Flowers’ polish first! I picked up this polish at Sephora in Singapore at Christmas.  It’s a very wearable deep puce, very glossy, a bit gloopy in application, but Orly Polishield came to the rescue!


It just happened to tone in well with the flowers in my garden this gorgeous sunny morning (I told you it’s always sunny in Belfast!) - just look at that blue sky!


I like this colour as it’s bright but very wearable and not too in your face.


It comes in this cute little mini round bottle and is incredibly pigmented. I could have got away with one coat really but I never feel happy unless there’s two!


And last but most definitely not least, my 4 year old got me home this gorgeous little pot of yellow primroses. He made the dragonfly himself (there were two but one flew off apparently).


Have a lovely day everyone!


Glitter Guinness ~ St Patrick’s Day Mani

So when I asked you to choose my St Patrick’s Day mani, most of you voted (via Twitter) for Glitter Guinness… and here it is!


Happy St Patrick’s Day from bonny Belfast!


As you can see the sky is blue and the sun is shining (typical Irish weather really)… we’re off out to visit some friends soon for an evening of Paella & Prosecco (again, typically Irish).  I hope you’re having a great day wherever you are. How do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? (if you do)


The products I used were Nubar Verde, a blackened dark green with very fine glitter and Dior Vernis Safari Beige for the tips.

I hope you give my mani a….




St Patrick’s Day Nail Polish ~ you choose!

A bit of a fun post and my first delve into nail art.  Lesson no.1 - buy a fine tipped brush before attempting any more!  St Patricks Nails

Earlier in the week I decided to do a St Patrick’s Day mani, just for fun. Today the girls at said they would do a post of people’s manis on their blog and to tweet them pics, so I got out my nail wheel thinking I’d try a few options - how hard can it be? Errr…. fiddly or what?! I’d like to add at this point that I normally have pretty good artistic ability, but with a nailpolish brush, nail wheel and two small children at my ankles - um… this is what I came up with, squiffy shamrocks & all!


As you can see, I was a little indecisive. I’m going out tomorrow night and would like to have pretty nails.  Whichever option you guys like the most I’ll paint on my nails tomorrow and do a nail of the day post. Just leave a comment below or tweet me @Strawbry_Blonde


These are the polishes I used to achieve the different looks - if you want any more details please just ask.


Spring Summer 2012 Nail Polish Collections ~ my faves

Yes I know this is a nail polish post and this is kind of related…

Butter London gets Lippy

Image - Butter London Facebook

I was excited to discover that Butter London has introduced a range of lipglosses to match some of their best nail polishes and had to share. Currrently available at Butter London and Ulta, Musings of a Muse has some swatches of these lipglosses, which look beautifully pigmented.  I’m not normally in the habit of matching nails and lips and wouldn’t necessarily pair them as suggested, but I wouldn’t kick any of these out of my makeup bag and would happily mix & match!


Butter London Spring 2012 Nail Colours 


L to R: Disco Biscuit, Bossy Boots, Slapper, Trout Pout, Knackered

I’m bursting to try these, in particular Knackered, the mermaidy colour on the right.


YSL Duo Vernis No 8

YSL-Spring Summer 2012-nail-polish

I fell in love with these two shades when I saw them swatched by my friend Alice on Super Gorgeous blog. To me they are the perfect shade of orange and pink, particularly the orange. I think these shades would look amazing with a tan!


Chanel May and June

Chanel nail polishChanel nail polish

The Chanel colours aren’t a whole lot different from the YSL, though slightly softer and more pastel toned. If only they weren’t £17.50 each…


Models Own new Beetlejuice 2012


L to R: Copper Pot, Tropical Sun, Indian Ocean

While I think all of these look striking in their own right, the one I most want to try is Indian Ocean, another mermaidy shade (I’ve always had a penchant for mermaids!). These are out on Monday 19th March 2012 and will cost £5 from Boots or modelsownit.  I’m also rather taken by the look of the Models Own Nail Art pens - have any of you tried them or would you recommend any others?


Nubar Jellybean Collection

Blue RaspberryLemonStrawberry

L to R: Blue Raspberry, Lemon, Strawberry

I adore Nubar and adore Jellybeans - and while I love the idea of this collection, I can’t help thinking that its creators could have had a touch more fun with it.  The colours could have had a little more oomph and some of them are just a little too ordinary for my liking…. but pretty nonetheless.  There are 8 colours in the collection and the above 3 are my favourites - all are available at Beauty Bay for a reasonable £5.50 each.

What are your favourite new Spring Summer nail colours - have I missed any spectacular ones?

Thanks for reading, Nic x

© Strawberry Blonde. All rights reserved.
Blogger templates by pipdig