Monday, 30 May 2011

Luminaire


Late nights, early mornings, far too little sleep will inevitably plague you with those troublesome dark circles and tell-tale lines. Sleek Makeup's new Luminaire Highlighting Concealer could be the answer to banish those dark areas and awaken your eyes with an instant brightness and flawless finish. The highlighting concealer, with moisturising properties, can brighten dark circles, conceal blemishes and fade out imperfections.


Firstly, the concealer was a lot thicker than I anticipated, but is creamy and easy to apply. There are five shades available in the Luminaire highlighting concealer, L01 - L05. I was sent the lightest shade, L01, which was probably one shade too light for me. This wonderwand can be used around the eyes as well as camouflaging blemishes, uneven skin tone and adding a natural highlight to the nose and cupid's bow. The concealer is simply dispensed by clicking the top of the wand. The brush is soft but not ideal for blending the product in once applied. I opted to softly buff the product in with a MAC 224 blending brush, but using your fingers, dabbing gently around the area, would work just as well.
I don't think I suffer too badly with dark circles, and sometimes don't even bother with concealer full stop. But some days, I do feel I need a little radiance to my eye area. Before is me simply with my foundation applied. Afterwards, you can see how the concealer has really brightened up the area under my eyes and flawed out the uneven skin tone. It works particularly well when applied in the corner of the eyes as well, to add luminosity to those dark regions.
I do really like this product as an under-eye concealer, and is a quick answer to perk up your eyes with a nice glow. However, I don't think it's amazing when used as a concealer elsewhere on the face. I found the consistency a bit too loose and the coverage wasn't brilliant, but for the eye area, it is perfect.


The Luminaire Highlighting Concealer (£6.49) is a permanent product and is currently available from Superdrug stores and Sleek Makeup online.


Have you tried this?
What is your miracle product for banishing those dark circles?
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Sunday, 29 May 2011

i've got butterflies




Playsuit: AX Paris

When approached by AX Paris to potentially feature one of their items, I logged onto their site with slight trepidation. I have often seen their range stocked in New Look but have never really been drawn to it, believing it was just a collection of super-slinky body-con dresses which are not my thing. However, I was pleasantly surprised by many of the pieces they had to offer, in particular this sweet playsuit prettified with colourful butterflies. I was pleased that the size I opted for fitted perfectly which is always the tricky issue when ordering online. It is 100% cotton so hangs nicely and is lovely and light for summer days. I love that it has pockets; adding a casual tone to the outfit, and think the draped panels, front and back, makes it extremely flattering.

As for my nails, I am no nail art whizz by any stretch of the imagination, but confronted with a lazy Friday night and fuelled by too many nail varnishes, I thought I would have a play. I don't even have a nail art pen or anything fancy like that, I simply dipped the end of an orange stick into the polish and blobbed! 

I hope you are all well and enjoying the LONG weekend.
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Saturday, 28 May 2011

prolong the red





Tips for the perfect red lips:
1. Prep the lips before applying your lipstick. Lightly scrub them (maybe with a toothbrush) and apply a balm to rid them of any dry skin.


2. Line the lips with a lipliner, delicately following their natural shape. This will create a barrier, preventing your lipstick from feathering, as well as giving you a guide when applying the lipstick.


3. Use a small lip brush to apply your lipstick with precision.


4. Go around the outside of your lips with a fine brush and some concealer to sharpen up the edges and erase any lipstick mishaps.


5. Smile


This is MAC's pro longwear lipcreme in Prolong and I think I am in love.
It has a wonderfully creamy texture and finish, with a rich intense colour. It smoothes onto the lips like a dream and really does keep its vibrancy for a long time. What I love about this lipstick is that it has a subtle cherry-red hint to it, yet remains a true, classic shade.


Do you like to flaunt a ruby lip?
Which is your classic, red go-to lipstick?
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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

3 day straight?



With my hair being the way it is; thick, curly, unruly, prone to frizz...the list goes on, I was very excited to try this product out, as I hoped it could be the answer to all my hair woes.  I saw the words 'made with keratin' and my heart skipped a beat. I have been harbouring after a keratin treatment for my hair for many moons now, but slightly awed by the high cost, and the fear of the fuzzy re-growth. For a mere fraction of the price, I hoped this spray could be by new best friend.
John  Frieda's 3-day straight semi-permanent styling spray contains a heat-activated formula that helps eliminate frizz as the hair is straightened. The hair is 'styled' straight and keeps it that way for up to three days. Frizz is banished and hair is left looking glossy and smooth.

The instructions for use are very straight-forward, simply spritz the product onto towel dried hair, varying the amount depending on the thickness and length. I divided my hair into sections as it is that thick and I wanted to ensure that every last strand was coated! I then combed the product through my hair before beginning the epic task of blow-drying my hair. Usually, I tend to just blast my hair to get it dry and then laboriously straighten it with straighteners to tame the mane down to a more modest size. However, I thought after spraying the 3 day straight through my hair, I should be good and attempt to dry my hair as straight as I could with a barrel brush, to optimise the results. Instantly I cringed at how sticky my hair felt, a feeling that didn’t really improve as a blow-dried my hair. I was worried that I had either been too liberal with the product or I had left some conditioner in my hair. I persevered until I had dried all my hair and looked optimistically in the mirror in the hope that a halo of glossy straight tresses would be reflected. Alas, no. However, this product requires the heat of the straighteners to begin working its magic. The moment I started straightening my hair, the stickiness melted away and I definitely noticed that my hair felt smoother and easier, maybe even quicker, to straighten. Once I had finished, my hair was definitely straight. A lot straighter than normal and was lightweight and frizz-free.

However, over the next few days, I didn't feel the product really kept my hair straight or frizz-free. Due to my type of hair, it takes very little to induce the frizz. Humidity, wind, rain or exercise, and poof, I am reaching for the hair straighteners! I honestly think for most other hair types, this product could have a really positive effect and you would see some great results. However for me, and my type of hair, this product was not able to tame the mane. I don’t feel it made any difference to my hair over the three days and I did have to reach for the straighteners every morning. 
I will say though that the way my hair straightened, and felt, immediately after using the spray was really lovely, and made my usually exhausting job a little bit easier, leaving my hair smooth and free of frizz. I am a big fan of John Frieda Frizz-Ease products, faithfully purchasing and repurchasing the serum and finish spray, but sadly, my hair was too bigger task for the 3-day straight spray.


The 3-day straight spray is available from Boots and is £6.99 (100ml)
Have you tried this product? I'd love to know your thoughts.
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Monday, 23 May 2011

making macaroons


Move over cupcakes, it would seem another colourful, sugary delight is coming back into food fashion and is becoming the sought after treat, perfect with tea or boxed and ribboned making a wonderful gift.
You cannot mention macaroons without being transported to Paris. Ladurée, the home of luxury cakes and pastries, made these little treats infamous, colouring them with the most endearing pastel shades and flavouring them with delicate scents such as rosewater and lavender.
You will pay an arm and a leg for a beautifully-packaged assortment of macaroons, so I thought I would don my apron and give them a whirl myself. Making macaroons, in essence, is very simple, comprising of only four basic ingredients. The key for perfect macaroons is precision, patience and practice...




Recipe:
175g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
3 free-range egg whites
75g caster sugar
(will make 16-18 macaroons)


Preheat your oven to 60°C/fan140°C/gas 3





1. Whisk the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until they have formed soft peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar, making the mixture thick and glossy.
2. If you wish to create colourful macaroons, add your food colouring at this stage and whisk until you have achieved your desired shade.





3. In a food processor, whizz together the ground almonds and the icing sugar into a fine powder.
4. Add half the almond/icing sugar mix into the meringue mixture and fold in gently with a spatula. Once completely combined, fold in the remaining half. The mixture should be glossy and fall off the spatula with a ribbon-like consistency.





5. Line two trays with baking paper.
6. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and  pipe small rounds, about 3cm across.
7. Leave the macaroons to stand for 10-15 at room temperature until they form a slight skin.
8. Place in the oven for 15 minutes but keep your eye on them. My ones only took 8 minutes so it can vary and you don't want the tops to burn or discolour. You want your macaroons to have a lovely glossy domed top and a beautifully bubbly base. Leave to cool before removing gently.




For the filling, the sky is your limit and you can be as adventurous as you like. The typical filling is a standard buttercream (1 part butter, 2 part icing sugar) but you could try a luxurious chocolate ganache, lemon curd or jam. Or simply colour or flavour your buttercream to add a bit of je ne sais quoi! Decorate with chopped nuts, rose petals or desiccated coconut. Macaroons are the perfect chance to let your creative juices flow.





Before you add your sandwich filling, pair up your macaroon halves so both are a similar shape and size. The perfect macaroon should be crispy on the outside and delectably soft and sweet on the inside.
For the pink and yellow macaroons, I filled them with buttercream. For the white macaroons, I added spoonfuls of Nutella to the buttercream mix to create a chocolatey contrast.







Eat your heart out Ladurée! ;)
x
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Sunday, 22 May 2011

having a ball





Dress: Karen Millen
Peacock feathers: Accessorize
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Nails: Barry M's Orchid (166)
Tan: Lauren's Way


Last weekend was my end of season hockey dinner and dance. It's a great evening which allows the whole club the chance to come together, share the triumphs of the previous season whilst indulging in some food, drink and unashamedly bad dancing! The night is quite plush, with the men donning a tuxedo, making them almost unrecognisable from the usual hockey attire I am so use to seeing them in. I bought this dress maybe 4 years ago for a wedding and then sadly after that , have never worn it since. I just love the colour of it, which shimmers between dark emerald green and a rich deep blue. I opted for a clean neckline, choosing some statement peacock feather earrings and stepped out into my carriage in my Jimmy Choo's.


I hope you are all well and having a good weekend. 
I made a multitude of macaroons yesterday, so I am very excited to share them with you, providing I haven't scoffed them all by then...
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Thursday, 19 May 2011

ring ring, bling bling



With my newly purchased iPhone 4 feeling a little stark and vulnerable, I felt I needed to add some bling to its life. Since I got my phone, I live in fear of dropping it, not to mention obsessively cleaning the screen of the tiniest finger marks. This little gem, sourced from eBay for a mere fee of £6.95, serves the purpose fully of protecting my iPhone and screen whilst being rather pretty at the same time.


This is the seller if you wished to indulge in a little bling for your phone too!
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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

treats from Tresemme



Another day, another bountiful range of hair products to hit the shelves. A month or so back, I attended the launch of VO5's new haircare range, and we were also treated to the presence of Matthew Curtis, Tresemme stylist and all round hair god, who introduced us to these latest products. We witnessed Matthew showcase the products whilst offering us tips and tricks along the way to achieve our desired style.


24 Hour Body: Amplifix Hairspray
Touchable Finish: Hairspray
I like these hairsprays, and always find myself reaching for them when I have a beehive that needs a bit of reinforcing. The products do not differ from each other that much. Both are equipped with a lovely fruity fragrance and great staying power. The main difference is that the amplifix hairspray is probably more industrial and will hold a style for much longer than the touchable finish hairspray. The touchable finish hairspray is better suited to smoothing away flyaways and frizz, and adding volume at the roots. It also brushes out much more easily than the amplifix, which can leave the hair a little bit crispy. 


Instant Refresh: Volumising Dry Shampoo
Dry Shampoo has never really been my bag. I don't think my hair ever warrants it as it rarely get greasy or oily between washes. I have passed this to a friend who has always been intrigued to road test some dry shampoo and she has been mildly impressed. Smelling fresh and zesty, it revives her greasy roots, giving them some body and lift. It is perfect in the face of crisis when time doesn't permit a hair wash, but I don't think it will become part of her complete hair routine. 


Thermal Creations: Blow Dry Potion
 This non sticky and lightweight cream promises to protect the hair up to 230 degrees whilst blow-drying, straightening and styling. It is used on damp hair, smoothed through the lengths whilst paying particularly attention to the roots. More product can also be applied to the roots after styling to add extra smoothness. Unfortunately I didn't love this product. I know what my hair likes and it has never been a fan of creamy lotions used on it whilst damp. I tend to find them too heavy, opting more for serums and sprays. This blow dry potion was a little too heavy and greasy for my hair and I found left it feeling weighed down and lacking movement and body.



Salon Sleek: Straightening Spray
Salon Shine: Glossing Spray
Salon Smooth: Serum
This is an angelic addition to the Tresemme's range. They have created a selection of products with added argan oil from Morocco, to really nourish and smooth the hair. I absolutely love all these three products when used in conjunction with each other. I previously spoke about Argan Oil in regards to the VO5 Miracle Concentrate, which is a really wonderful product for restoring dry and damaged hair, and these are no different.




The serum and straightening spray are used on towel-dried hair before blowdrying. I use the spray first, applying liberally all over my hair. I then follow with the serum, which only require a small pea-sized amount, and I smooth this through the ends of my hair. The glossing spray is a great finishing product that adds instant shine to your hair and smooths away those troublesome flyaways.
Voila, my hair straight after using these three products.


24 Hour Body: Sky High Plumping Powder
Very similar to the VO5 Instant Oomph Powder, this plumping powder is a fine white dust that has a subtle, fresh smell to it. It is perfect for adding some volume and lift to the roots, and by following the simple instructions on the packaging, you can achieve an amazing plumping effect with a natural matte texture. The hair does feel a little tacky to the touch, but for creating sky high lift for a night out, I am willing to forgo this slight downside.


In summary; 
Products to pick up: the Argan Oil range
Products to skip: Blow dry potion and volumising dry shampoo

This new range is available from Superdrug, Boots, Tesco and Asda.
Have you tried any of these Tresemme products?
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Monday, 16 May 2011

P & G Summer Spa

Ever wanted to ask the brands a burning beauty question? Well now is your chance.
P&G Summer Spa are opening their virtual doors to the blogging world. This event offers one on one advice, tip and tricks on all things beauty from the names in the know, whilst demonstrating some practical advice through tutorials. On Thursday 2nd June, ten brand ambassadors of P&G will come together and be poised, ready to be grilled and answer an array of questions.


The ten ambassadors will be made up of the likes of:
Caroline Barnes of Max Factor, Ben Cooke of Herbal Essences and Nichola Joss of Venus & Braun as well as many other names on hand to offer their expertise.




This is a great opportunity for us all to get involved, and raise any deep-seated questions we want to put to the ambassadors themselves.
There are a few ways that you can pose a question to the brands. Firstly, take a look at the poll below and submit which question you would most like to see asked during the Summer Spa event.



You also have the chance to ask your own personal beauty question by simply leaving it in my comments section below. On the night, the ambassadors will be taking 'wildcard' questions, selected from my and other bloggers' comments, and if your question is chosen, you will win a prize. A P&G goody bag filled with must-have products for all your beauty needs. So make sure you leave an email address along with your comment so we can get in touch with you if your question is selected.


The question I would like to ask is: 
"With festival season fast approaching, can you offer any quick, simple tips to achieving that perfect tousled, boho bouffant without the heat"


Results will be announced shortly after the event has taken place on 2nd June. I will follow up with details of the event and announce the lucky winners so keep your eyes peeled for that.


I am really looking forward to reading your questions!
UPDATE:
Hello all
Thank you to all who left a question to be put forward to the P&A beauty abassadors during their recent Summer Spa event. The videos from the event are now live and you can watch them here. Simply register and then click on the individual brand logos below the main video to view each one. The 15 wildcard questions that were selected and asked have been collated and if your question was chosen, I will be notifying you shortly.
Thanks again.



(this post has been sponsored by P&G)
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Friday, 13 May 2011

shawled





Shawl - New Look (sale)
Palazzo pants - New Look
Ballet flats - New Look
Nude vest top - New Look
Feather earrings - River Island
Bando - Accessorize


Ever wake up and unintentionally fashion yourself as a walking advert. Today was one of those days. It is no secret that I have been finding lots of fabulous finds in New Look of late. I feel they have really upped their game recently and consequently their prices as well!
This shawl is one of my favourite purchases and was sneakily located buried deep on the sales rack. It reminds me of an antique table cloth that my grandmother use to own. I think the intricate detailing and floaty fringing is really pretty. 


Thank goodness, it is finally it is the weekend; and I have quite a busy one planned. It is my hockey annual Dinner and Dance tomorrow night which gives our club a chance to all get together to celebrate the season's achievements and enjoy a three-course meal and a good boogie.  I am really looking forward to it and have my outfit all planned out. It will be a treat to see each other dressed in something slightly more refined that our standard hockey attire!


Sunday will see me stirring up a flurry of flour in the kitchen. I am part of a 'bake club' at work, which sees a different person each week bring in some homemade treats. Next week is my week, and I am on savoury duty. Cupcakes I can do, but savoury snacks poses quite a mission. I think I may have to enlist my chef boyfriend to give me some assistance...

I hope you all have a great weekend girls.
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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

MAC Style Suite Red Carpet Masterclass

On Thursday night I attend a Style Suite Red Carpet masterclass at the Pelham Hotel in London, hosted by MAC Cosmetics. As the official Beauty Partner of the British Academy Film Television Awards, which take place on Sunday 22nd May, MAC invited a few bloggers along to get some tips and tricks to perfecting red carpet makeup.
Ushered into a palatial suite within the hotel, with champagne and nibbles loitering in the corner, we were greeted by Lynsey Alexander and Neil Young, both senior artists for MAC. The atmosphere was friendly and informal, with an obviously great rapport between the two artists. They both had a beautiful bare-faced model for company and they began to create the looks on the models whilst answering questions and talking us through each stage and product used.



Lynsey Alexander, who has worked with a plethora of celebrity names, Sienna Miller, Naomi Campbell and Kelly Osbourne to name but a few, created a look entitled 'Antiqued', consisting of a bronzed-smokey eye, contoured cheeks and a nude lip, complemented with soft tousled hair.
Neil Young, who has worked on editorials such as Grazia, GQ and Cosmopolitan, and has executed his magic on the faces of Linda Evangelista and Grace Jones, created 'Show Orchid', a dramatic look with flawless skin and statement lips, emphasised with a soft up-do.



The artists gave us a real insight into the world of red carpet makeup and how it varies from catwalk and editorial work. A close partnership between the celebrity needs to be exercised in order to create an extension of their personality through their makeup. It is also important to work in harmony with hair and wardrobe, to ensure all aspects of the finished look complement each other.
Neil and Lynsey also shared with us some tips and tricks to ensure they are not responsible for the circled 'ring of shame' gracing the pages of the tabloids the following morning. 


1/ Conceal under and around the nose to appease those unfortunate camera angles
2/  Take the texture of the face down through the body; highlighting and powdering where necessary
3/ For 'camera ready' skin, prepping is key. Using a luminising cream, such as MAC's Strobe Liquid, will give the skin a glow as well as allowing your foundation to glide on
4/ Keep blotting paper close at hand to remove shine without adding more coverage
5/ Bronzing under the chin will create a more defined look to the face, and eliminate the dreaded double chin
6/ Avoid dark, heavy eyes as the flash will always whiten the appearance of the skin, making your eyes look harsh
7/ Lightly wash lips with a concealer, such as select moisturecover concealer, to tone down the natural redness of the lips before applying a neutral lipstick






Neil's model wore Show Orchid on her lips and Lynsey's model was flaunting Shy Girl, both two of my favourite lipsticks. 
The final looks were stunning and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them being created. It was a fabulous event and I feel I learnt some invaluable tips from the experts themselves.


Which is your favourite look?
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Sunday, 8 May 2011

out in stripes




Top - H&M (£2.99 and in a whole host of colours)
Skirt - Vintage (Retro Rehab, Manchester)
Jewellery - Accessorize
Sunglasses - H&M
Lipstick - MAC's Costa Chic


Evening all.
Just a quick outfit post for you. I wore this today for some luncheon in the sun with Rob. We feasted on olives and pizza which subsequently induced a food-related coma. But it was worth it! 
I really love this navy striped skirt, which pretty much skims my ankles. It was one of my wonderful finds whilst shopping in Manchester a few weeks ago. And H&M basics came up trumps again with these cute little tops available in lots of lovely colours and patterns. I am wearing Costa Chic which is basically summertime encapsulated in a lipstick!


I hope you have all had great weekends whatever you have been up to.
Thank you to all my recent new readers I have received, and all the comments you leave.
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