Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Accessorize Your Christmas

I don't know what's happened to me this winter: I'm like a fat kid on a smartie for all things woollen and retro. Accessorize do the best slipper booties and I've included my favourite pairs here. I'd love to receive the blue and white fairisle boots on Christmas morning...

Clockwise from top left:

I'm also taken with a few of the Accessorize bags this season. I'll probably hold off asking for one for Christmas and see if I can snag a bag in the January sales instead. Their sales always include a good selection of clutch bags at the very least. 

Clockwise from top left:

I don't have any affiliation with Accessorize – I just like this stuff! 

Monday, 29 November 2010

Tights Please? No Thanks

This winter I thought I'd be all organised and buy my tights online. Instead of heading to M&S I ventured onto tightsplease.co.uk and ordered four pairs of Charnos: two 100 denier (£6.99) and two 60 denier (£4.99). I chose two black pairs and two 'steel' – a dark grey colour. There was free postage and the tights arrived a few days later.

Everything looked fine apart from the 100 denier tights in 'steel' were in fact 'light grey' and a totally different colour to what was promised. I'm not Gwen Stefani and was never going to wear unflattering light grey tights so I sent them back for an exchange (£1.75 postage).

I was contacted via email to say that my return had been accepted and another pair of 100 denier black tights would be sent to me. But I wanted grey. At this point I barely cared. This was 22 October.

On 12 November I emailed tightsplease.co.uk to enquire about my missing tights and to complain about the service I had received. Someone emailed me back the same day saying, 'Thank you for your email. The tights you have requested to be sent are black however they are on back order and are not currently in stock. I can change this order for you if you wish?' Well, for one I never requested black and two, where's my apology? I've been waiting three weeks for these tights and the ones on 'back order' aren't even the right colour!

I emailed back saying (in a less angry fashion than this) I ordered dark grey, I wanted dark grey, could I please have dark grey? I don't care what brand, I just want an equivalent pair of tights in DARK GREY. I've still received no replacement tights and no return email.

As if this wasn't bad enough, the 100 denier Charnos tights fall down. They have no actual waistband, just the same material as the leg all the way up. When I wore them out I had to buy some £3.99 H&M tights to change into mid-shop. Do I really have to wear a massive pair of granny pants over my £6.99 tights just to keep them up?!

Edit: tightsplease.co.uk have been in touch. They have apologised for the confusion regarding my order. I'm being sent a refund for the missing tights and another pair of the Charnos 60 deniers as a good will gesture. Thank you to Anna at Tights Please for her help. 

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Chavolution of Cheryl Cole

Little Cheryl Tweedy: original Geordie lass. More than a touch chavvy.
The gorgeous phase: with love trauma came fashion & beauty success.
Cute short hair but the style's slipping. Then the extensions came back.
What went wrong? Stringy red hair & tacky outfits. Cheryl's devolved.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Review: RoC Hydra+ Anti-Fatigue Moisturiser

Every girl knows that lack of sleep and stress are both enemies of good skin. We're all just sliced apples, gradually browning from the inside out due to oxidation. What a charming thought.

Antioxidants help to disable the chain reaction that allows free radicals to cause oxidative stress by damaging important cells such as DNA. The body produces its own antioxidants for this purpose but eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables has been shown to provide additional protection against ageing. Skincare brands are also wising up to the benefits of antioxidant-rich moisturisers and serums.

I was sent two RoC Hydra+ Anti-Fatigue moisturisers to test on my dry, fussy skin – one 'rich' and one 'light'. I've been using both products for nearly two months and (amazingly) my skin hasn't crisped up like it normally does when the temperature drops. I've also had very few blocked pores or spots.

The blurb says these moisturisers contain 'a patented cocktail of antioxidants ginkgo biloba and glucan to help protect skin cells from the damaging effects of stress and also reduce common signs of fatigue such as tightness, dullness and uneven skin tone'. As you'd expect, the 'rich' cream is a bit thicker (it contains shea butter) and takes a second longer to sink in. Now that it's chilly outside I've switched to mainly using this. Both creams feel really soothing.

The only downside I've found to both products is their tendency to 'pill'. If I apply a bit too much or try to put makeup on straight away they sometimes roll off my skin in little shreds. It's not a big deal and it only happens sporadically but it's mildly annoying. There's no SPF in either product though, meaning you could happily use them at night when this wouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Love her Look: Elin Kling

Occasionally when abroad I get mistaken for a Swede – probably due to the blonde hair (and eyebrows). I take this as a huge complement! Swedish fashion blogger Elin Kling also happens to be my new style crush. She's perfected her own brand of effortless chic, with skinny trousers, classic bags, killer shoes and bright splashes of colour. Her model looks and figure to match mean she looks good in anything.

If you can read Swedish (or just like looking at stylish pictures of pretty blondes) she blogs at Style By Kling.

Edit: Her skinny jeans are always Cheap Monday; those divine red trousers are by Cos.

Favourite Winter Cleansers: Luxe and Budget

I first tried Cetaphil in 2008 when I picked some up in Tobago. It's one of those rare 'cult' products that actually deserves its reputation. There's nothing fancy about it; it's very plain, there's no smell, it hardly lathers. It simply cleans skin without stripping it (and therefore causing it to produce more oil). My skin's dry anyway but I'm still very prone to spots for some doggone reason.

Being a fickle little beauty blogger I must have forsaken my beloved Cetaphil at some point – probably because I have to order it online in the UK. Towards the end of my New York trip in September a little pack of hormone-affecting drugs caused a major, major outbreak, to the point where I was on the plane home wondering if everyone thought I had Chicken Pox.

Having bought a gigantic bottle of Cetaphil in NY I started using it immediately upon my return and my skin has now been clear (barring the occasional spot) ever since. This time I am sticking with it. You can buy Cetaphil at Victoria Health for £7.95 with free postage. The name is slightly different to mine – 'Gentle Skin Cleanser' – but it's pretty much the same product.

Another cleanser I've been using since summer is Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm. This product does an ace job of removing heavy makeup. You take a dab and emulsify it with water in your palm. You then massage it onto your face and remove with a special double-sided cloth (or any muslin/flannel). The texture makes it ideal for those wanting to perk up their complexions with a little facial massage: it comes with instructions on technique.

I was originally sent the Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Anti Ageing Facial Starter Kit, as well as full-size cleanser. The kit's perfect for those wanting to try Emma Hardie as it contains cleanser, cloth, Rosehip Exfoliating Seeds and Natural Lift and Sculpt Moisturiser.

I finished the moisturiser ages ago (loved it), kept the mini cleanser for traveling and have been using the exfoliating seeds ever since. They last forever. You shake a few of the seeds onto your palm and mix with the cleanser before massaging onto your face. I thought I'd barely be able to detect them as they're tiny, but the seeds create a really satisfying scrub, without being harsh. You can also vary the 'strength' of the scrub by adding more or less seeds.

I like to use the Emma Hardie cleansing balm as a supplement to my standard Cetaphil routine – adding it in as and when my skin needs it. This cleanser feels wonderfully indulgent on dry winter skin but when I used only this in the summer I found it a bit too rich. Mind you, my skin is spectacularly unpredictable. If you like the Eve Lom (mineral oil alert!) or Liz Earle (heaven!) cleansers you will very likely enjoy this.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Eyelashes and Moustaches for 99p

My lovely friend Nikki is going traveling for six months as of next week so we had a big send-off for her at the weekend.

I picked up some 99p false lashes from Savers and did this winged out liner with a shimmery bronze lid. The only difficulty I've had with cheap falsies is that the base strip is thick and difficult to disguise.

I brought along a few key pieces for the occasion and within minutes of arriving at the pub had gone from lovely lashes to manky moustache... I even used my handy Duo lash glue to stick the thing to my face! Good times. Nikki don't go!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Perfume Collection: Past and Present

For her birthday last December I gave my friend Sophie 'Perfumes: The A-Z Guide'. Thankfully she agreed with me that it made for absorbing reading. I loved looking up my favourite scents before discovering which others I might also appreciate.

I've been lucky enough to receive several gorgeous perfumes lately, so in order to give you an idea of whether we might share similar tastes, I'm opening up my current collection for your perusal. I don't know much about top notes and dry-down and all that jazz. These are my emotional reactions to these scents, why I like them and what they mean to me.

My ex and I were shopping in Cheltenham one year when he nipped off on his own and came back with this  boxed and gift wrapped. I felt like I was in Paris with a romantic Frenchman! I look back and realise how lucky I was, although at the time I didn't know any better. I find this scent mature and elegant. It's a lot stronger than my usual perfumes, with incredible staying power. I once smelled it on a woman in the audience at the theatre and wondered if it was too old for me. I'm starting to grow into it now.

Eau Ressourçante by Clarins
My second bottle of this and I also have a spare waiting in the wings. Another Christmas present originally but one that mum picked out for me. After initial reservations it became a firm favourite for a couple of years (subsequently superseded). It's described as 'rebalancing' and that's absolutely spot-on. Refreshing without being sharp. You just have to smell it. Buy it in January when the gift set of perfume, body lotion and body wash goes in the sale – all three products are to die for. 

Aqua Allegoria in Mentafollia by Guerlain
I squirrelled away a sample of this and strung it out for a long time before finally tracking down a bottle to receive as a Christmas present. It's an unusual scent  quite minty and aftershavey but feminine not masculine. I still like it but don't often wear it. The bottle's terribly pretty but the metal flakes off beneath the stopper.

Truth by Calvin Klein
Another present from the ex and one that I asked for based on those little fold-over perfume tabs you get in magazines (there seem to be less and less of them these days – gutted – I love them!). This is so old it's changed colour. It still smells fine and I don't care if it has gone off, I'll never throw it away. Another fairly strong scent but infinitely more interesting than the other CK offerings in my opinion. Very much an 'evening' scent. I never wear it as it transports me back in time about 10 years, which is far too disconcerting.

Ralph by Ralph Lauren
Another signature scent from years gone by, this smells very young and fruity without being cloying or sickly. I think we discovered this at the same time but my best friend Casey has been wearing it ever since and at this point I'd say it's very much 'her' perfume.

Kelly Calèche by Hermès (Eau de Toilette)
I love this so much that I almost don't want to tell you about it, lest you all go out and procure a bottle. It's not like it's my secret, but I don't know anyone else who wears Kelly Calèche (and I don't wish to!). The scent, oh the scent! It does things to me. I seem to remember it described as floral with a hint of leather. It's heaven. If I designed a fragrance for myself, picked the bottle, chose the box, picked the brand... this would be it. This is my second bottle and it's almost finished. I need more. I MUST HAVE MORE! 

Deep in the midst of my obsession with the Eau de Toilette version I started thinking 'Eau De Parfum? Stronger? MORE?' and thus found myself on eBay buying the biggest bottle of Kelly Calèche I could get my greedy hands on without ever having smelt it. Turns out it's not simply a stronger version of the Eau de Toilette – it's different. Still good, but not as good as the original. The base is the same but there's a little something extra in there too. More of a berry element. Anyway, I sometimes wear this alone or combined with the Eau de Toilette for additional depth and staying power.

It's amazing the affect a perfume can have on you. In smelling and describing the meaning of these scents I feel as though I've just shown you a piece of my soul. It smells like Kelly Calèche. Don't leave me out here on my own: tell me what you think. What are your favourite scents? Which perfumes take you back in time to another version of yourself? I'd really love to know.

Monday, 15 November 2010

We're in the Navy... in a Playsuit

Another Saturday night out, another makeup look. This weekend I went for a heavy navy eye, similar to the Kate Moss look I did for Zuneta.com.

I used the same Hourglass Visionaire Eye Shadow Duo in 'prism' to create the smokey eye. Lancome Le Crayon Khol on the waterline. The palest colour in the Sleek Storm palette on the middle of my lids to make the lid look shiny. A bit of an old silver shadow blended in around the socket line/brow bone. False lashes would have been great but I didn't have any so I just used Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara (which, by the way, I don't think has made one bit of difference to my lashes, but I still really like as a mascara).

For base I used my new duo-fibre brush to apply Bobbi Brown Moisture Rich Foundation before layering on some Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser for added 'glow'. I'm really impressed with this brush - it  gives great coverage without heaviness. I used a No7 Concealer Brush from Boots to apply my fave Prescriptives concealer. I'm absolutely crazy about this brush and will have to do a separate post on it. It only cost about £7 and it's perfect for using to cover larger areas of redness, rather than for precision as with a tiny concealer brush.

I wore my new £19.99 H&M playsuit, which I thought went splendidly with my eye makeup as it's a kind of petrol blue/turquoise colour. 

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Shoreditch Pink Lips

A slick of Eyeko's London Lips gloss in 'Shoreditch' has been my recent go-to for perking up my pasty winter complexion. I like its pretty rosy colour and non-sticky feel. It smells yummy too. These limited edition glosses cost £6.50 each or £13.00 for a set of three different colours.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Duo-Fibre Brush Bargain

I'd been after a duo-fibre brush for a while when Beauty and the Blog recommended this one for £6.99 from Superdrug. The brand is 'QVS'. The packaging states that 'the unique combination of natural and synthetic fibres allows you to use it with loose powders, creamy blushers and concealers, as well as liquid foundations'.

Having never used this type of brush before it felt quite strange initially. The white bristles extending beyond the black creates a thin, tickly layer. However, the effect it creates is well worth suppressing a giggle for. My skin looked buffed and 'airbrushed' within record time. I was also happy to wave bu-bye to the annoying brush marks that I have to smooth away when I use my Bobbi Brown foundation brush.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Cheap Coat for a Little Lady

I bought this coat in Primark last weekend for £27. I wanted a 'lady' coat to wear with dresses for a Jackie Kennedy-esque look. I spotted a lot of grans trying it on as well so I guess it's an 'old lady' coat!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Revive Your Fashion Flare

Their Jumbo Classic Flap bags aren't the only thing Lauren Conrad and Kourtney Kardashian have in common – the sight of their flared jeans is making me want to rummage into the depths of my 'jeans pile'.

It's been a while since flared jeans looked right to my fashion eye but it might be time for a renaissance. I've never lost my affection for the leg-lengthening properties of a good pair of flares. Tight through bottom and knee before kicking out to mirror the width of the thigh. Ah the glorious retro goodness!

Kourtney's jeans are Dojo with Clean Pocket in Daring Cleo from 7 For All Mankind. I don't know who makes Lauren's perfect indigo pair (yet!) but Topshop's Indigo Skinny Flare Jeans are a fine dupe.

A brief word of warning: flared jeans should not be confused with their more moderate cousin – the bootcut. Those haven't looked right since 1995 unless you're Trudi from Mistresses (who the BBC wardrobe department clearly hate). In a capsule collection of dowdy sludge coloured outfits complete with matching stringy scarves, bootcut jeans are her constant. No wonder Richard fancied Katie.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Prettifying a New Home

My friend Julia is about to move into a new house with her boyfriend so for her birthday I wanted to get her pieces to prettify the new pad.

I had seen some gorgeous towels a while ago on the H&M website in the 'home' section. I decided to buy a selection of different sized and patterned towels as well as this cute 'We're open 24 hours' bathmat (also a great gift idea for Rebecca at Le Salon de Beaute).

Julia and I both absolutely adore floral print materials, and I especially loved these shower towels. As I knew the landlord would be repainting the whole house white, I went wild for bright patterns. The prices were fabulous too, meaning I could bundle up a nice big pile; wrapping it in a pretty length of ribbon I bought at the local haberdashery.