Saturday, 30 November 2013

Chloe Roses Perfume: Review

Chloe-Roses-eau-de-parfum-review

Not usually a fan of overtly rose scents, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Chloe Roses does not smell like a traditional rose perfume.  The rose is very much present - but there’s nothing twee, old-ladyish or fusty here.  To me it has the pure scent of freshly cut roses… the waft in the breeze as I stroll through rose gardens or bury my nose in a bowl of big fat roses. 

I’ve just spritzed it again and been reminded of the greenery in this fragrance, thanks to bergamot top notes… it’s as if I can smell the leaves and stalks as well as the juicy petals. This element of freshness blends with the soft rose to create a well balanced scent, with base notes of white musk and amber that linger delicately on the skin. 

To me, this is a daytime fragrance, not one that I’d reach for on a night out.  See by Chloe (review here) is still my No1, but I think many rose lovers will really enjoy this.

I was first lured in by these mesmerising rose petal-esque dancers at the September launch, worth a look here for the prettiness!

Chloe Roses is available with 15% off at Escentual right now.

Are you a fan of rose perfume? What’s your favourite scent at the moment? 

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Friday, 29 November 2013

SensatioNail Deluxe Starter Kit: Boots Star Gift

Sensationail-Dusk-til-Dawn-swatch-pics Sensationail-Sugar-Plum-swatch-pics

                           Dusk ‘Til Dawn                                                                                       Sugar Plum

A quick head’s up that one of my favourite beauty products is this week’s Star Gift at Boots for one week only.  SensatioNail is a home gel polish kit which allows a perfect mani for up two weeks.  I’ve reviewed it in detail when I first got mine about a year ago and much as I love switching up my polish, I’m very chip-prone and still turn to this kit regularly when I want to be low maintenance and wake up with perfect nails every morning!  You can add regular polish on top and remove with acetone-free polish remover if you fancy a change or a bit of nail art.

Above are a couple of my favourites, Dusk Til Dawn and Sugar Plum (Sugar Plum included with this kit).  For this time of year I also love Blue Yonder (navy) and Espresso (dark chocolate with gold shimmer).  I used Rose Gold for the dot on my ring finger above, a limited edition shade, sadly sold out now.

Sensationail-Deluxe-Starter-Kit 

Meet the SensatioNail Deluxe Starter Kit - usually £105, now £45 - which includes all you need for 20+ manis/pedis:
SensatioNail Pro 3060 LED lamp with mains adaptor, 2 full size colour polishes - Taupe Tulips & Sugar Plum (7.39ml each), a full size base/top coat (7.39ml), full size Cleanser (27.2ml), Primer (3.54 ml), pack of 12 Lint-free wipes, buffer & Removal Tool.

You also get triple advantage points (minimum £60 spend online or £30 instore) and a voucher for £3 off your next colour purchase, so total actual savings equate to £68.40

The polishes are generally cheaper from sensationail.co.uk, but this Deluxe Starter Kit deal is only available at Boots - find it HERE.

My original review or the standard Starter Kit is here.

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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Love Me Beauty Box: Stocking Filler Sorted!

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Without a doubt the best of the beauty boxes around, Love Me Beauty comes up trumps this month, with FOUR make-up items included in the mix.  Much as I love skincare, it’s the inclusion of make-up that sways it for me - maybe it’s the instant gratification factor!

Love-Beauty-Box

Mitchell & Peach Shower Wash - perfect size for travel, Models Own Hot Pink Nail Polish - saving this one for Summer, Jelly Pong Pong 2in1 Bronze Shadow/Liner, Lord & Berry Brick Lipstick - a dark vampy, heather toned brown with an incredibly creamy texture.

ArtDeco-HydraLipBooster-Translucent-Rose 

Art Deco Hydra Lip Booster in Translucent Rose - a lovely milky nude and Absolution Le Soin Purifant - a revitalising, deep pore cleansing mask.

Love-Beauty-Box-November-2013 

I can’t help thinking what a cute Stocking Filler one of these would make - just add a bow!

The contents of this month’s box are worth £86 and you get the lot for a tenner - don’t know about you but I really can’t argue with that! This box is still available and mine is Edition 1 (other colour options in the make-up).

Find out more at lovemebeauty.com

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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

SBB in Cision UK Top 10 Beauty Blogs

I’m very chuffed and more than a little overwhelmed that Strawberry Blonde Beauty has been included in Cision UK’s Top 10 Beauty Blogs, not least because I’m in the company of my favourite beauty bloggers ever!  If you’re not already subscribed, do go check out these other beauties - all well worth a visit!

Beauty Blogs UK Top 10

  1. British Beauty Blogger

  2. Vivianna Does Makeup

  3. The Beauty Shortlist

  4. London Beauty Queen

  5. Pixiwoo.com

  6. ReallyRee

  7. Caroline Hirons

  8. Lips So Facto

  9. Strawberry Blonde Beauty

 

In the Spotlight

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I was also featured in Cision’s Speedy Spotlight this week, talking about my thoughts on blogging and working with PRs, which you can read here.

*goes and lies down*

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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Real Techniques: Sam’s Picks - Review

Sam-Chapman-Real-Techniques-Sams-Picks-set

Sam (Pixiwoo) Chapman has launched a set of her favourite Real Techniques make-up brushes - Sam’s Picks - and added one new exclusive to the bunch.  If like me you already have quite a few Real Techniques brushes, in this review I try to answer:

… do you need this set?

… does it add anything to the mix - and if so, what? 

… what results can you achieve with each brush? 

In a nutshell, if you like attention to detail and precision application, this set is for you.  If a quick sweep on the run is more your style, you can probably live without Sam’s Picks.  If you’re new to Real Techniques, this is a great place to start.

Here’s a closer look - and the lowdown on what I’ve been using each brush for…

Contents

Real-Techniques-Sams-Picks-which-brushesReal-Techniques-Sams-Picks-makeup-brushes

*brushes in above pic are actual size*

With six brushes in total, Sam’s Picks provides a good basic collection that will perform most functions required by the average user, unlike some of her other sets which seem to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  I like the box guide and printed names on handles, which are a great guide to anyone either new to make-up brushes or trying to extend their repertoire.  When it comes to beauty, rules are made to be broken - and I like to mix things up a bit.  At the end of the day, use your brushes for whatever works for you.

A Closer Look

Real-Techniques-brushes 

So here we have:

Pointed foundation brush - not designed for applying a full face of foundation (it’s too small and would take all day), this is useful for applying heavier coverage only where needed.  I use it to conceal any redness around my nose and chin, then buff the product in with the setting brush.

Setting brush - great for those of us who don’t like to powder all over, this is designed to mattify or set make-up only where needed.  I’ve been using it for the Iridescent shade in my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette - for precision application of highlighter on tops of cheekbones, browbones and cupid’s bow.  It also works well for buffing in liquid concealer, though I prefer it for powder.

Essential crease brush - this is the brush I was most excited to try as it’s the only new release included and exclusive to this set.  Smaller than a standard crease brush, this is almost half the width of a MAC 217 and packed a little more densely.  I think this will be a godsend for anyone who finds working with eye shadow quite tricky, or those who like to use a number of eye colours and blend carefully and precisely, without them overlapping too much.  Although it requires a little more effort that my usual 217, I like the sense of control that this brush gives and had really good results from using it for crease work.  It’s also dainty enough to smudge shadow along the lashline or blend powder over a gel liner for a softer effect.

Fine liner brush - I knew this would be the brush I’d reach for least as I rarely use gel liner. I tried it with a Clarins cake liner and found it too long and flexible for the results I wanted to achieve (I prefer a firm angled brush for this kind of work), though it did work quite well for applying a dense cream eyeshadow as liner (Makeup Atelier Crème Eyeshadow in Taupe).  Although the bristles are long, they don’t have too much give and I’d imagine this would also work with the likes of MAC Fluidline or Bobbi Brown gel liners; it really just depends on your own preference and application style.  What I’m most likely to use this for is days when I need a teeny dot of concealer for pinpoint spots or red marks - I haven’t tried this yet but think the bristles are fine and stiff enough to do the job. 

Real-Techniques-new-2013 

Last but by no means least, these two fat, fluffy beauties.

Buffing brush - my beloved and most used make-up brush ever, I’m thrilled to have a back up for this beauty, which I literally use every single day. Its densely packed supersoft bristles and gently domed shape make it perfect for application of liquid foundation.  The bristles don’t absorb too much product and create the most airbrushed finish of any I’ve tried. The entire set is worth the cash for this brush alone, though I really wish it was available as a single purchase. In my view, the Buffing brush is to face what the MAC 217 is to eyes and an essential in my collection.

Multi-task brush - super soft with tapered bristles and a lot more give that the buffing brush, this brush is wide at the front with slimmer sides, allowing it to perform different functions depending on how you hold it.  So far I’ve tried it with mineral foundation, loose powder, bronzer and blush.  It was a little too loose to use with my Bare Minerals loose powder mineral foundation. It did the job, but glided over larger pores and flaws rather than buffing the product into them, which I resolved by going over these areas with the setting brush.  It worked beautifully with loose powder and bronzer, even for contour when held at an angle so that the slimmer edge slotted into the hollows below my cheekbones.  While I’d normally opt for a smaller blush brush, this worked better than expected at patting blush lightly on cheekbones at an angle, then turning to the side to blend in.  The loosely packed, flexible bristles mean not too much product is lifted and quite subtle results are achieved, both plus points in my book as I always prefer to add a little more rather than undo over application.

All in all, a very welcome addition to my collection and a variety that will cover most needs for make-up brush or Real Techniques novices.

The Real Techniques Sam’s Picks Gift Set* is available on www.cloud10beauty.com priced £29.99

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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Berry Picking: Autumn Make-up

Berry-Plum-MakeupI’m always drawn to berry toned lips and nails in Autumn, but this year, I’ve dipped into berry eyes and cheeks too.  By berry, I include all types - from raspberry to blackberry and all variations in between - here are a few of my favourite berry pickings…

Eyes & Cheeks

MakeupAtelier-Creme-Eyeshadow-Aubergine,Bourjois24hColor-Prune-Nocturne,Kiko-Lounge-Warm,LizEarle-Peony-Blush

First up, two cream eyeshadow products.  For those a little timid about such bold tones, Bourjois’ new Colour Edition 24H cream eyeshadow in Prune Nocturne is the perfect option, which you can read about in more detail in my previous review.  Quite light on pigmentation, it can be worn as a wash of colour or built up a little for a subtle smoky eye.

Makeup Atelier Crème Eyeshadow in Aubergine is a completely different animal. Highly pigmented, soft and creamy, don’t go plunging brushes or fingers into this little pot as the smallest sweep from the surface is all you need - as you can see in my swatch. I adore this colour, but must admit it’s a touch bold for my kinda look (& skillz!). I’d love to see an expert / MUA in action with this one as it really is a beauty… I’m currently enjoying the formula in a safe-bet Taupe.

This gorgeous plum shade from Kiko’s Lounge Palette in Warm Tones falls somewhere between the two and is a breeze to work with. Check out my full review of the palette here and Instagram pic of me wearing it here.

Onto cheeks, and Liz Earle Peony (full review) is a shade I only reach for at this time of year as it delivers a flush of just-back-from-a-beach-walk that’s really flattering on pale cheeks. There are plenty of much more overtly plum/berry toned blushers around, which I fancy experimenting with, so if you have any recs, please let me know!

Lips

Stila-Liquid-Lipstick-Aria,ByTerry-Sangria,Stila-LipGlaze-Tropica-Punch

This is where I’m much more willing to go for a bold look and I have three options today (and many more in my stash!). I’ve already written an ode to By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge Lipstick in Sangria Appeal, which you can read and see applied pics here. The texture is second to none for a forget it’s there, wearable bold lip.

I discovered Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick this Summer and if you haven’t tried it already, you absolutely must as the formula is mind blowing (to a lipstick fanatic at least!). Priced somewhere between Hourglass and Sleek options, the key to mastering this liquid lipstick is all in the application. It’s very pigmented, you only need a little and once it’s set, it’s set - so try to get it right first time. For me this means prepping my lips with a good balm, outlining with a lipliner and going straight in with an almost clean wand (it has a doe wand, so wipe off any excess on the inside of the tube).  For an extra smooth line, I start at the outer corners of my mouth and work up to the cupid’s bow on each side, then apply downwards on my lower lip.  It literally feels a bit like painting your lips and sets to a matte finish, which I pat with a little ESPA balm for a comfortable finish and slight sheen.  Once all that’s done I’m good to go - and will reach for this when heading out for dinner and drinks, or any occasion where I don’t want to worry reapplying all evening.  It really doesn’t budge and if anything, might  need a mini top up in the centre of the lip after dinner.  See me wearing it here.

Completely coincidentally, my foolproof berry option is another Stila formula - Lip Glaze in Tropical Punch.  This barely there berry looks gorgeous for an everyday look and is one of the few glosses I reach for in Autumn.  Another longterm everyday berry/plum favourite is Boots No7 Sugar Plum Moisture Drench lipstick, a gorgeous mulberry shade which I couldn’t find it to swatch here, but it’s a beauty - give it a whirl next time you have a Boots No7 voucher.

I haven’t forgotten about nails - I was going to add them here but think they deserve an ode of their own.

Do you have any berry/plum beauty favourites?

 

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Biker Style Welly Boots

Biker-Welly-boots Black-Biker-Boots-Wellies-Welly-Shop  Luxe-Triumph-Biker-Wellies-black Luxe-Triump-Welly-Shop

Have you any idea how long I’ve spent looking for a pair of welly boots that are a. stylish, b. practical and c. don’t cost a fortune? We’re talking years, so yes I do feel entitled to be excited about my new biker style welly boots, which keep my feet dry and comfy on long walks without making me look like a geek.  I may have been seen wearing them when it’s not raining.

I don’t have much else to say about these other than I love the detail (esp the back zips and red lining), the matt rubber, non overtly-wellyishness, comfort and reasonable price - compared to the likes of Hunters et al.  Sizing is pretty true - I got my usual size and there’s plenty of room for thick socks and the grips look like they’ll hold out in snow. (Oh and if you’re a stickler for presentation like me, you’ll love that they arrive beautifully packaged, individually wrapped in their own dust bags in a beautiful bird print box.)

Luxe Triumph Wellies, £37.99 at The Welly Shop (where you’ll also find Aigle, Hunter, etc if you feel like forking out three times as much.)

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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Neom Scents of Christmas Travel Candle Trio

Neom-Christmas-candles-2013-Comfort-Harmonise-Christmas-Wish

If anything was going to burst my first Christmas post bubble it was the arrival of NEOM’s new candle set, Scents of Christmas, a trio that will carry you through festive preparations, the big day itself and perhaps even New Year’s Eve!

Harmonise (silver) - Pine, Cedarwood and Eucalyptus… green & woody, I can imagine burning this one while draping twinkly lights around and wrapping pressies.

Christmas Wish (gold) - Mandarin, Cinnamon & Tonka Bean… deep and warm, this one needs to be saved for The Big Day. Dinner eaten, feet up, a little glass of somethin’-somethin’ and this wafting through the house. Bliss.

Comforting (bronze) - Cedarwood, Vetiver & Star Anise… earthy and leathery, this is a warm, inviting scent - perfect for festive entertaining or a NYE party.

NEOM Scents of Christmas Travel Candle Trio

The set comes in a beautiful high quality gift box, making it the perfect present if you can bear to be parted!  Each candle is sealed to retain the fragrance and smells beautiful even unlit.

“Burn Christmas Wish to evoke the mouth-watering aroma of a freshly baked Christmas cake; Harmonise for the fresh, green scent of the Christmas tree; and Comforting for a smoky log fire.”

Neom-Christmas-candles-2013 

As ever, NEOM candles are made from a special blend of 100% natural vegetable wax, pure natural extracts and aromatherapy oils - no paraffin wax, synthetic scents or chemicals. Plus the essential oil quality and quantity is so high that they really do act as feel good treatments as well as fragrancing your home - price justification right there.

Neom-mini-Christmas-candle    

Smaller than the standard NEOM candles, these are 75g, the same as the travel candles, but don’t let that put you off - these babies burn for up to 20 hours!  I’ll be doing my usual trick of surrounding them with non-scented candles and tealights, then blowing out the NEOM after a couple of hours when the room is filled with scent.

Neom Scents of Christmas Travel Candle Trio*, £42 is selling out fast, so don’t hang about if you fancy it. Currently out of stock on the NEOM site, but I’ve found it at Selfridges. You can also buy the candles individually for £16 each, (&other dreamy festive stuff) at NEOM Christmas.

 

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Health & Beauty Supplements: My Picks

Health Beauty-Supplements

I used to be very cynical about supplements until I tried Imedeen for the first time last year and was amazed by the results, which motivated me to research other options.

I’ve picked up quite a few new supplements recently, so thought I’d share what I’m taking and what’s working in case it helps anyone else. I’m no health expert, so this is just my personal opinion and experience of what works best for me, based on my own research.

Organic Burst Maca - for energy and endurance: I sprinkle this on cereal and it’s one of the few supplements I’ve found that tastes inoffensive. It’s kinda cinnamon-ish and blends in well with muesli or granola.  I’ve been taking this for a few months since Beauty Shortlist recommended it on twitter (thanks Fiona!) and really do think it’s helped my energy levels.  I bought it directly from Organic Burst online (link in brand name above), though it may be available elsewhere.

Agnus Castus - for hormonal balance: this herbal remedy has many uses and I popped it in my basket in the chemist this week after realising *that* was why I was in banshee mode and had better do something about it! I’ve taken this in the past and it works. Nuff said!

Floradix - liquid iron, rosehip & B VItamins - for energy: I first took this on recommendation from midwives after having a baby and have repurchased it many times as it really does help my energy levels and gives me a bit more oomph! I take one capful twice a day for a few weeks and then once daily.  When I forget to take it I know I’ve probably had enough and am not longer feeling the need! It’s pricey but really works for me and I know many others who rate it highly.  I quite like the taste too - like a slightly herbal syrup.

Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend - an organic blend of Omega 3,6 and 9 for skin, hair and nails: this is an exceptional supplement in an extremely pure form.  I must admit it took me a while to get used to taking it and I did divert and try the Paradox lemon flavoured Omega oils (also above), but Udo is of such high quality I think it’s worth persisting with. Best mixed into food, there are lots of recipes around… I find it easiest to take mixed in with something strong flavoured, like a pasta sauce or garlic & chilli salad dressing.

Ddrops Vitamin D drops - for healthy bones, teeth & immune system:  Ddrops are at the other end of the spectrum from Udo in that one single *tiny* drop a day is all you need for your recommended vitamin D dose.  As someone who struggles with both tablets and liquid supplements, I can’t tell you how much this excites me!  It’s literally pure Vitamin D in coconut oil, so I just lick a drop off the back of my (clean!) hand, though you’re supposed to add it to food… I just don’t want to risk missing any! I definitely do tend to feel a bit low and sluggish in Winter and don’t know why it never occurred to me before to try addressing this with a Vitamin D supplement, so I’m really hoping this helps! The baby & nursing mum version is available at Boots and the adult one at Amazon.

Imedeen Hair & Nails: I’ve tried both Imedeen’s Skin and Hair & Nail formulas and noticed improvements with both.  I spotted the biggest changes when taking the Hair & Nails, possibly because they’re more obvious and easier to measure.  My nails looked longer and stronger and lashes more voluminous… there may also have been improvements to my hair and skin, but these were the things that jumped out at me.

Ilumina by Seven Seas - Skin Nutrition vitamins: Again, I used both the Skin Nutrition and Hair, Skin & Nails formulas by Ilumina and was really impressed by these vitamins, again noticing healthier lashes and nails in particular. I also noticed quicker regrowth on my legs, so I’m guessing the hair on my head was growing faster too!

I tested Imedeen Hair & Nails and Time Perfection skin formula, then Illumina Hair, Skin & Nails and Skin Nutrition.  I took each supplement individually for 3 months before taking a break of 1 month (so that I could measure results from scratch) and then started the next one.  It’s difficult to say which was best as I noticed improvements from both, but do have a slight preference for the Imedeen as I felt they made the most significant improvements and I also felt calmer when taking them, possibly due to the Vitamin B content (though they both contain Vitamin B - go figure!).  I’m still taking the Imedeen Hair & Nails and the Seven Seas Skin Nutrition a year later, so do believe in both brands.

I expect that all individuals respond differently to supplements, according to personal needs, but it’s really important to check the labelling for specific ingredients and RDAs as they can vary quite significantly.  I bought a men’s multivitamin for my husband last week and the more expensive brand - (honestly can’t remember which one it was) - had much lower levels of some vitamins, like almost half the amount, for twice the price!  It’s also important to take care not to overlap certain supplements - check with your GP or pharmacist if you’re unsure.  Personally, I’ve seen greater benefits from taking vitamins for my specific needs rather than a one fix multivitamin.

[links to the best prices I could find via the sub headings above]

Do you take any supplements - and which ones do you feel make a real difference?

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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

NCLA Prized Possessions: Swatches

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Um, let’s just stare at the pool of indigo glitter for a moment… how beautiful?  NCLA Prized Possessions is a new release from the 5-free brand’s Black Market Fall Collection.  NCLA do some of the best glitter polishes around. Not for glitter wusses, they really do pack a punch and the quality is a dream to work with.

NCLA-Prized-Possessions-swatch NCLA-Prized-Possessions-UK

This was two coats on a clear base to illustrate how easy the colour and glitter are to build… I also intend to try it over a navy base.  I love that this looks bright sapphire blue in some lights and purple in others, thanks to the green, blue, turquoise, silver and purple chunks of glitter running through it.  I didn’t use a topcoat here as I quite like the 3D texture, but the colours look even more WOW glossed up!

A gorgeous alternative to the usual Winter and festive shades, don’t you think?

It’s a Wrap!

 ncla-nail-wraps-fowl-playNCLA_jennahipp001

I’m also really tempted by these stunning NCLA Fowl Play nail wraps… I’d wear one or two as an accent nail with a plain black outfit and think they’re some of the nicest designs I’ve seen.  I’ve tried NCLA wraps before and found them really easy to use - press on, file down edges and paint over with clear polish.

The latest NCLA releases are available now at CutECOsmetics

 

Visit my previous post

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge Lipstick: Sangria Appeal

 

ByTerry-Hyaluronic-Sheer-Rouge-lipstick-Sangria 

Meet the Perfect Berry Lip: By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge lipstick in Sangria Appeal.  I love berry, plum and wine lip colours at this time of year and think they’re incredibly flattering on pale skin tones for a pop of colour that can really bring the face to life.  While a red lip screams ‘look at me’, berry has a quiet, sultry confidence. 

Matt may be where it’s at (& I do dip in occasionally) but a moisturising lipstick will always be my go-to.  Personally, I find sheer textures much easier to work with when it comes to deep lip colours; matts or semi matts require a level of precision application that I don’t often have time for everyday - and definitely not on the go.  By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge has the most divine texture, which applies smoothly, doesn’t drag one single bit and coats lips in a wash of colour which can be patted on and blotted for a lovely subtle look or built up to quite an intense finish with a lovely sheen. 

How this feels on my lips that appeals just as much as the perfect colour and how it looks on.

 ByTerry-Hyaluronic-Sheer-Rouge-Sangria-swatch ByTerry-Hyaluronic-Sheer-Rouge-Sangria-applied

The colour isn’t too red or too dark, just a perfectly balanced burgundy wine tone (the swatches are much more accurate than how it looks in the bullet, top pic).  I’ve swatched the colour once and three times to show how the opacity can vary… on my lips I’m wearing two layers, for a little extra lasting power.  Speaking of which, this lasts pretty well considering the formula and I don’t need to apply a balm underneath, which is unheard of for me when it comes to strong colours.

I like to pair Sangria with a light make-up look, especially around the eyes where I’ll opt for taupe or grey eye liner and mascara.

This won’t be the last time you’ll hear me rave about berry, burgundy and wine shades this season… in fact I have a post on my favourite berry make-up shades coming up very soon!  If you fancy a berry lip that’s not dauntingly vampy or heavily pigmented, I can’t recommend this highly enough and will definitely pick up another shade - Nudissimo looks like it could be a winner.

By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge Lipstick is available at Space NK.

Are you a berry lip lover?

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Monday, 11 November 2013

You Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar 2013: Review & Contents

 You-Beauty-Advent-Calendar-box-2013You-Beauty-Advent-Calendar-2013 You-Beauty-Advent-Calendar-2013-pics

You Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar is a premium festive beauty box - and hands down the most exciting one I’ve seen to date! 

*Spoiler Alert: if you don’t want to know the contents in advance, look away now!* 

First up, it’s a biggy. I’ve photographed it next to my iPhone 5 to give you an idea of just how big. Basically each side of the box is the same width as my phone - think Advent Beauty Box rather than calendar!  While I was excited to receive a Liz Earle Advent Calendar last year, I must admit I think it’s way more exciting to have one with a mix of brands - and not just any brands. Think Cult Beauty, Space NK style brands.  There are only one or two items in this box that I’m a tad blasé about trying… the rest I can’t wait to use - and the best bit is I’ve picked out 9 which were on my actual wishlist to try. Just realised that I chose an uneven number - sorry if that irks anyone’s OCD but at least it confirms that these were my true omg can’t *wait* to try this picks!

My Top (9!) Picks

 You-Beauty-Advent-Calendar-2013-contents  

Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts - I’ve heard numerous beauty bloggers rave about how amazing these are for deep relaxation and sleep. The peachy crystals are so pretty I can’t wait to try them in the bath!

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil - this iconic oil cleanser is said to cleanse and refine pores like no other. I love a cleansing oil in Winter and may just give this a go this evening. I’ll report back!

Caudalie Hand Cream - I love everything I’ve ever tried by Caudalie and this feels and smells gorgeous (there’s an equally exciting NEOM hand cream in the box, which I’ve tried before and loved)

Dr Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips - Much loved by MUAs & beauty bloggers, this leaves a thick greasy layer of moisture on lips and cuticles (not one for on-the-go). Mine have been suffering lately so this has not left my side for several days.

You-Beauty-Advent-Calendar-2013-content

Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask - pretty much the goddess of face masks according to my beauty loving friends.  I’m kinda hoping not to love this too much as it’s so pricey, but super excited to try it!

Perricone MD No Foundation, Foundation - beauty bloggers are to blame for my obsession with this little number for a no make-up make-up look. I’ve only tried it on my hand so far and the texture feels really light and dewy. Perhaps more of a Spring product but lovely to have a little sample to try it out.

Leighton Denny Nail Polish in Vamp - the best Chanel Rouge Noir dupe I’ve ever tried, this is uber glam.  I painted it on for Saturday night out with the girls and paired it with an equally vampy lip and simple eye look. LOVE.

Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream - another natural brand that’s been on my radar for a while, this has a really pretty rose scent.

Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil - I tried this yesterday in a moment of physical and mental exhaustion.  I’d heard good things about AA but still felt cynical about how a quick bath could change how I feel that much.  Well, it did. I emerged cocooned in a little oasis of calm and the gorgeous smell lingered around upstairs all day.

Whats-in-You-Beauty-Advent-Calendar-2013

The whole shebang… better than a few bits of chocolate, right?  If I were to perfect this box I’d add a mini candle and perfume rollerball… maybe next year!

You Beauty Discovery Advent Calendar* costs £49.95 which I know is a lot, BUT when you consider that the contents are worth a whopping £240, it softens the blow a little and I’ll be surprised if these aren’t a sell-out.  This stash would be enough to keep most beauty lovers happy for way longer than one month! 

Get the full lowdown or order yours here 

Christmas pressie for yourself anyone?

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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Merchant Hotel Spa: Darphin Facial

The Spa at The Merchant Hydrotherapy Pool 

If you live nearby or visit Belfast and need of some proper pampering (I’m talking *proper*), then I’ve found the perfect place for you.  I was recently invited for a Darphin facial at the Merchant Hotel Spa in Belfast, where I spent the most relaxing few hours I’ve experienced in a long time… luxurious surroundings, incredible products and a talented therapist made a pretty heavenly combination.  I very rarely treat myself to things like this, so it was a big deal for me and as I lay there having my treatment I decided to start a pampering pot, where I’d save up for a luxury treatment every couple of months.  I’ve been having a pretty stressful time work wise, to the extent that it took me a while to mentally switch off and allow myself to relax - and it was so worth it - let me talk you through the experience…

IMG_6915Belfast-Merchant-Spa 

I ran from the car park - last minute as usual - and breezed through the Spa doors to be enveloped with the gorgeous whaft of essential oils and swept down a spiral staircase into a little den of tranquillity, with velvet sofas, candles and fresh flowers.  From this point on, the lighting was really dim everywhere (except the changing room!), which I loved… the Spa is in the depths of the hotel and felt like being in a secret underground haven!

Belfast-Merchant-Spa (3) IMG_6909

After filling in some details about myself, I was taken down the Corridor of Calm (not its official name, but should be!). I LOVED the little touches everywhere - lit candles in lanterns, oil burners, pretty furnishings and artwork - these little things really helped make the whole experience more special for me.

Belfast-Merchant-Spa-review  IMG_6912 

I was left to change into my robe before reclining on this cute velvet chaise longue with a cup of ginger tea (please excuse the slightly fuzzy candlelit photos).

The Spa at The Merchant treatment room

My therapist collected me here and brought me into this gorgeous, candlelit room for my treatment (that’s a shower on the right!). I was in such a daze afterwards I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember the therapist’s name, but will try to find out as she was amazing. No idle chit chat, just a truly amazing facial using a selection of beautiful Darphin products - exfoliation, deep cleansing, nourishing mask, hydrating serum and oils. I was told afterwards that my skin was very dehydrated and that I need to drink more water… I struggle with this in winter but am trying to keep a bottle filled by my desk (and in between glasses of wine at the weekend!).

And then it was all over.  You know that dazed, foggy feeling after a relaxing treatment where you really don’t want to be ushered straight back to the bright lights of reality? The Merchant has it covered…

The Spa at The Merchant Relaxation room

I had the pleasure of the Relaxation Room all to myself, where I lay on one of the beds and was served iced water (wasted no time there!) and wooden skewers of gorgeous fresh fruit.  I didn’t go into the Hydrotherapy Pool this time, but I’ll most definitely be back!  The Champagne Nail Bar also sounds very appealing and I imagine (hope!) some of my local blogging friends would be up for a visit some time.

My favourites of the products used on me were Darphin Hydraskin Intensive Moisturising Serum, which is really light and refreshing, yet deeply hydrating and Organic Rose Aromatic Care, a gorgeous nourishing oil, which luckily I already own (previously reviewed here).  My skin was seriously glowing after - it looked and felt more smooth and refined and I noticed a difference for a good couple of weeks.  I wish I could say it was good enough to go make-up free, but I think I’d need to go more regularly to reach that status!

Get the lowdown on the 5* Merchant Hotel & Spa here.

When was the last time you had a facial or spa treatment? Anyone else fancy starting a Pampering Pot?

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