Saturday, 31 May 2014

VIDEO: A Weekend With My Bestie

Hey there buds, so, erm, in case it wasn't obvious, I love a good montage vlog.
Rather too much.
In this one you will meet my very best friend and my other angel friends from uni. I hope it stirs your crimples.
I am aware that I am speaking gibberish.

Friday, 30 May 2014

HD Brows: Reviewed (in-depth)

HD Brows were all the rage a few years ago, and back in 2010/11 I had a great stint of getting them done regularly. A few weeks ago I was desperate to try them again as my brows were bushy but not in a Cara kind of way, so back to HD it was.

So, to brief you on the structure of this post, I'm gonna chuck in the before and after pictures early on as I figure that's the most exciting part but stayed tuned for a more in-depth chat about the benefits, the procedure itself and about the brand afterwards!

Before we get started, I am not being sponsored and my research is based on the HD Brow representatives I met at a Brow event back in 2011, just in case you were wondering!

Before (can you tell?!):
HD Brows review before and after

 Immediately after, with powder still in them:
HD Brows review before and after

Not the best shot I have of after with absolutely no product in them:
HD Brows review before and after

As you can see, the procedure made quite the difference!

So, the HD Brows are a multi-step process, incorporating a number of grooming techniques to achieve the perfect brow shape. Apparently this ultimate shape is one that may well be worked towards through a series of treatments, rather than in one fell swoop. The techniques used include:

  1. Tinting of all the existing hairs prior to any removal of any kind, to catch any of the paler hairs and create uniformity
  2. Waxing to shape the brows. Apparently better than shaping through threading, which can lead to brows getting smaller and smaller over time
  3. Threading of the surrounding skin to remove any fine hair - this includes part of your forehead (!) and between the brows
  4. Plucking of individual hairs that the waxing didn't reach
  5. Cutting of hairs that are longer than desired but don't need be plucked/waxed
  6. Pencilling to fill in any parts where the hair needs to grow back in
  7. Applying brow powder again to fill in any parts that are needing to grow back
  8. Applying brow gel to set any longer/stubborn hairs into place
  9. Applying mineral powder foundation to the skin surrounding the brows, which will no doubt be red from waxing/plucking/threading
This lengthy procedure means that appointments can last between 30 and 45 minutes and should typically cost around £25. Salons can only market HD Brow treatments if they are trained by the brand and using their trademarked products - if you see a cheaper "HD Brow", it's almost definitely a fake so do be careful when looking to get this done.

So, as this costs over three times as much as a simple threading, what are the benefits of getting your brows HDed?

The main plus is that for people with paler or finer brows, this treatment should make a huge difference to the fullness and colour of the brows. If you have very thin brows, traditional threading and waxing won't be able to give back some thickness (and will in fact only do the opposite), but HD brows differ in that some people will be shocked at how much bigger their brows will look afterwards.

Some of this is temporary due to the powder or pencil that has been applied, but the tinting of those finer, lighter hairs will definitely help to create a much more even, fuller brow shape longer term.

Also, the fact that all HD consultants should be aiming to take your brows to the standardised HD shape should negate the possibility of your brows being nurtured by one brow specialist then hacked by another.

I think brow fans out there will actually really enjoy how long each treatment is; you know that your brows are getting the very best of the best.

The downsides are the price of not only the individual treatment, but also the ongoing maintenance: I found that if I did no maintenance in between as recommended, I needed to go back after as little as 2-3 weeks as my brows grew back so fast. 

So, the burning question is, are they worth it?

I think if you're a brow obsessive and have the money, you will most likely love this. I think this treatment will also be great for occasions when you want your brows to look extra special, like for a ball/big night out; if you are considering these for your wedding I would say to try them at least six months before the big day to see if you like them and to give your brows a chance to reach their peak, shape-wise.

Another point in their favour is that I know of no other treatments in the same league as this. You will be amazed by the difference, even if you have had your brows threaded/waxed professionally previously.

Personally I am chuffed and hope to maintain them for as long as I can afford them!

I hope you enjoyed this chattier review - let me know what you think of HD Brows and if you want to do some more research, this is the link to the HD Brows website

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Hey lovelies, in case you missed my OOTD from a much sunnier day last week, here it is in all its glory!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

VIDEO: My Current Favourite Youtubers

The first in an entirely unintentional series of favourites is my Youtube favourites. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Barely There Makeup

Ever since I picked up Origins VitaZing a couple of weeks ago, I have been loving the idea of a less-is-more makeup. No flawless base and painstaking liner attempts here - just a quick way to perk up my face on the days when a full face just feels like far too much. This also has the added bonus of a guaranteed break-out free look - not usually the case I am afraid!

So to talk you through how this went down:
I started with Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, plopped mainly on my cheeks, and buffed my Origins VitaZing over the top of that. I felt my undereye circles needed some perking up with my Bobbi Brown Corrector in Extra Light Bisque, but I didn't want to conceal anything else. Through my brows I ran some of my newest love, Maybelline Brow Drama in Dark Brown, and gave my lashes a good ole fashioned curl. I did pop a little Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner in Taupe along my upper lashline and smudged it for a soft touch of definition. On my cheeks I am wearing Stila's Convertible Colour in Lillium, and I went in with Topshop's Glow cream highlighter in the shade Gleam, applying that to my brow- and cheekbones. Last of all I slicked on some of Tanya Burr's lip gloss in Chic.

PS - Does anyone remember the scene from Bridesmaids when Kristen Wiig runs into the loo to slap on makeup before creeping into bed to pretend she woke up looking that perfect? This is SO the kind of makeup that I would have done in her stead (if I could be bothered that is - no man is worth that kind of sneaky action!)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Brand New To Me: Origins

So last week saw me bonding rather wonderfully with the lovely Origins assistant at my local John Lewis - if she is in any way representative of what Origins assistants are like as a whole they should be very proud of themselves.

I helped myself to three of the products I was most interested in, and was given some samples of their other products to try as well as a free facial and loyalty card. I was freakin' lovin' it, let me tell you.

Here's a mini breakdown of what I got and my first thoughts of each:

Origins VitaZing SPF 15 - Energy-boosting moisturiser with Mangosteen (£28 for 50ml)
I've heard a lot of rave about this product (and have since heard from several blogs that Garnier's Miracle Skin Cream is a pinkier dupe) and I am actually really liking it. It's one of those products that starts as a greyish goo and then turns more flesh toned when rubbed into the skin and if you are very pale, I suspect you will find this too dark for you as on me it is somewhat pushing it. It's a very subtle effect, just a slight tint and maybe a fraction of a mattifying effect, but I like it as there are no tinted moisturisers I can wear regularly without breaking out and this offers a completely weightless, barely there alternative. It's basically no coverage but I really like it.

Origins Checks and Balances - Frothy face wash (£18 for 150ml)
This was one of my little samples and you are instructed to put a small amount in your palm, add water, rub to a lather, apply to the face and then rinse off. My frothy cleanser days are very, very much behind me, and this guy has sadly done nothing to convince me otherwise. Its minty, foaming texture is really not for me as I washed this off and felt my skin had been stripped somewhat - I'll be sticking with  my mate Liz Earle and her lovely Cleanse and Polish for the foreseeable.

Origins Clear Improvement - Active charcoal mask to clear pores (£22 for 100ml)
Probably tied as my favourite product along with my VitaZing, Clear Improvement is your classic gross looking mask that you slap on, leave to dry and set, then wash off. According to my mate on the Origins counter, the brand is currently no. 1 for masks in the UK, and this was a must and was the original reason for my visit as I heard such good things from my idol, ViviannaDoesMakeup. According to the back of the tube, "active charcoal acts like a magnet to draw out deep-dwelling pore cloggers, White China Clay absorbs environmental toxins, Lecithin dissolves impurities. Without all that 'stuff' down there, skin 'breathes a sigh of relief'."
This mask really does feel like it's pulling at your skin when applied - in a good way I swear - and I was particularly impressed that it managed to halve the size of a spot that had broken out on my chin. It's going to be a weekly staple in my routine for sure.

Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye cream - To brighten and depuff (£23 for 15ml)
Another of Origin's most famous products, and apparently even used as a highlighter by some of their clients, this little shimmering salmon coloured cream promises an 86% brighter appearance and an 80% reduction in puffiness. Bold claims indeed!
Puffiness isn't usually a concern of mine but I have been rather bothered by my under eye dark circles, and hoped this product would make good on its brightening claims.
I've used this three times and so far never been particularly wowed by it. I will keep you posted if this changes, but so far I am not mad keen.

Origins Modern Friction - Nature's gentle dermabrasion (£33 for 125ml)
The second of my little samples, this exfoliator uses rice starch to buff away dead skin cells. It's a nice creamy little exfoliator (I only use cream ones, rather than gel based versions which are always aggressively harsh) but my mum reckons it made my broken capillaries look even redder than usual, so maybe I'll be looking more at chemical exfoliating options from now on. A shame as I did like this product.

And these are all my bits from Origins, a brand I'd never tried before and was generally a success. I will definitely be giving more of their stuff a good go: I am jonesing for a good moisturiser and I am also keen to test out their spot treatment offerings.

If you have any recommendations of what to try, I would absolutely love to hear them!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

TAG: Why do you wear makeup?

The only intro pic I could find!

This post started life as a Youtube video that was so deeply disrupted by one of our lovely cats that I figured I'd just turn my little prompt notes into a blog post and share it with you guys. This is the link to the original ViviannaDoesMakeup video that inspired this, it's an oldie but a goldie!

1) When did you begin loving makeup?
For me, it really has been a lifelong love affair. My first memories of using the stuff involve some deeply bold experimentations with Tammy Girl palettes - the turquoise blusher trend will catch on - and I remember my mum being bemusedly supportive of some of my more out-there looks. All I'm saying is, J Lo was fifteen years late to the yellow lipstick game.
  My favourite makeup adventure isn't actually one I remember but involves one of the sets my parents bought me to keep me busy during our car journey for a holiday to France. Apparently the lady at the ferry saw me, calm as you please, caked in makeup, chilling in the back of the car and was so taken in my skill and charm that we got an immediate upgrade.
  You are welcome, Mum and Dad.
  This wasn't actually a question but I started wearing makeup regularly at about thirteen or fourteen, venturing out with a simple line of brown kohl on the outer corner of my lower lashline and a super light slick of Natural Collection brown-black mascara. I was almost eighteen before my mum stopped tutting at me for wearing black mascara. I realise now she was probably right about that though!

2) How do you feel without makeup?
For the longest time I absolutely hated how I looked without makeup - I'd say from fifteen to about nineteen I was wearing makeup nearly every day. Things actually changed thanks to a mate of mine from my first uni - after hearing him bang on about how cool it was when girls were confident enough to go bear faced I was finally cool with being seen without it, and given how awful my acne was at this point, I'd say this was a pretty big deal. First and second years of uni saw me only ever opening my makeup bag (okay, makeup bags) for nights out and going bare faced as much as I could.
  Things picked up over my amazing summer as an aupair in Germany as the beautiful mum of my host family was just as much of a junkie as I am, and our mutual love of all things beauty and of course her gorgeous little girl really bonded us.
  As a teaching assistant I started out the year feeling like I had to wear a base, but eventually realised I was the only teacher in the whole school wearing foundation and figured there was absolutely no need. I did make the effort (!) to chuck mascara on every day though as I still wanted to feel I was in "work mode".

3) What do you like about makeup?
I used to be all about the creativity and reinvention side of makeup, and while I do still enjoy this I am also aware of a whole host of other reasons for my obsession.
  I really like the bond that makeup gives - it's one of those things we can pretty much all identify with and there's no easier conversation starter for me than "I love your lipstick/nail varnish/blush..." There's some kind of behind-the-scenes glamour that makeup has always held for me that I really love.
  Over recent years I have become much more confident doing other people's makeup and there's no better feeling than knowing you helped one of your friends or loved ones feel beautiful and confident for a nice occasion.

4) Three Holy Grail Products?

  1. The MAC 217 is a brus any makeup lover should own, especially those wanting to up their eyeshadow game. At £18 it is an investment but not one you will regret; there is a reason this has such a cult status!
  2. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is the foundation in my stash that I think will be the most universally adored as I have heard oilier and dry skinned fans alike waxing lyrical on its loveliness. I am combination and for me it is a fool proof winner, that looks best applied with my Real Techniques Buffing Brush (another potential HG product). L'Oreal's True Match is meant to be a dupe but as it is a drugstore brand I have found its shade range rather dodgy, whereas my Giorgio choice is always on point.
  3. MAC's Ruby Woo Lipstick. I used it in one of my very first tutorials and I have been head over heels since its purchase last summer. You absolutely need a lip liner with this (and ideally MAC's Lip Prep and Prime) and if you don't like a super matte formula you may have to look elsewhere, but if you are cool with these then you will love this. The ultimate red lip.
I of course tag anyone watching to do this - if you do please leave your post or video link down below!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

If you do one thing this month...

...go for a walk!

So since I got back from France, Momma and I have got into the habit of going for a walk every other day or so which I have been loving.

In France I did on occasion make myself walk a longer way home just to stretch my legs a bit and I wish I had made the effort to get out there more.

Even if it's colder out, wrapping up warm and getting out there really does the mind and body good and I suggest you get out and get some fresh air, especially of you're stuck to your keyboard like I am at the moment!

(Written before I finished my essay!)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Nailed It: Tanya Burr's Peaches and Cream

Tanya Burr Peaches and Cream

I was ridiculously excited about Tanya's nail and lip gloss line and I truly have no idea what took me so long, but I grabbed the beautiful Peaches and Cream the other day in a Feel Unique order and I was not disappointed.

It is a few shades darker than it looks in the swatches on Feel Unique and looks slightly darker in the bottle, but I actually really love it and it is certainly very different from anything else in my polish collection (and my mum's, which is bloody massive). 

This doesn't have my favourite brush in the world, after about three days of wear chips are now appearing but my nails usually start chipping within 24 hours so this is actually pretty flamin' good. It took about two coats and I stuck my cheapy Essence topcoat on afterwards.

Tanya Burr Peaches and Cream

I am now debating what polish I am going to try out next as they are a nice size for a good price (£5.99 is a good few quid less than I was expecting!)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

3, 2, 1 - Glow!

While the weather continues to have its own ideas of what constitutes appropriate spring behaviour, I am very much determined to will myself into spring and to this end, I have been forming a little line-up to help me get my glow on.

First up, and the basis of any good tan (fake or otherwise), is an evenly exfoliated base. To this end I have been giving my limbs a little more love than usual with my body brush. Mine was a freeby from the boutique that is my mum's bathroom but you can grab the Body Shop's version here. I won't wax lyrical about the benefits of body brushing as I am now unfashionably late to the party on that one, but I do recommend this when you plan on getting them limbs out.

Next is a new purchase as I recently threw out my only SPF skincare product, but something I really should be wearing all year round! But, now the odd couple of sunny days are peaking through all those grey one, a good old SPF for the face is more essential than ever. This is Vichy's Capital Soleil Velvety Cream Face SPF 50 (you can buy it from the wonderful Feel Unique here). At £14.50 it's not the cheapest product out there, but as a fairly pale person I have long been lectured about how SPF is something worth investing in. This product is definitely one for you drier skin folks out there as I failed to notice that this is meant for normal to dry skin types as it's very hydrating, but so far I've not had any made reactions to my combination skin. I like it as it means I don't need another moisturiser in the mornings.

To tan up dem pins I am currently trialling Garnier's Summer Body Moisturising Lotion as tends to be less than my usual Johnson's Holiday Skin. This comes in both light and dark versions and mine is the light one. I do find I have to avoid being my typical heavy handed self with this stuff as it can end of up a little orangey but it does have the win of creating a somewhat natural tan without that unbearable tanning smell. The apricot smell does turn rather more biscuity after an hour or so, but nowhere near as intense and irritating as Johnson's and I am really enjoying this - and it's about £3.75 at the moment on!

Lastly is my face bronzer, which is Lancôme's Flash Bronzer and this one was recommended by the host mum I aupaired for last summer (hello Vanessa if you happen to be reading!) They seem to have reformulated this but you can get 50ml for £23.00 with free delivery on Lancôme's website and it will last you forever. (I got my mum on this too and we both love it.) When I use this up I do want to try the Clarins version which is very popular among the beauty blogging crew and is actually cheaper too!

And that concludes my sunny line up - taking me from pasty to tasty in four easy steps. Let's just hope the weather improves so I can show my tan off!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Essay Survival Advice

Now I'm going to preface this by saying that, in all honesty, listening to my advice on essay writing is kind of like asking a walrus's advice for baking.

Essays and I do not get on, and this guidance really isn't focused on the academic side as I just don't have any kind of strategy when writing essays, but as for the keeping-going-and-doing-it I have learnt some things (I just suck at putting my own advice into practice).

That said, I have written a bloody load of essays so here is what I have learnt:
  1. If you, like me, can't get off Facebook/Youtube/Tumblr/Instagram - I swear I'm obsessed with a different site every time - get ye some Self Control. Nope, not the mental kind, I'm talking about the Mac application that has changed my life. You have the option to write either a blacklist of all the sites you don't want to waste time on, or a whitelist of the only sites you want to use, and I use the blacklist to make sure I can still access all the online articles I need. Genius.
  2. Find your bubble. By bubble I mean that world-excluding environment that means you are as focused and distraction free as possible. Personally mine involves being sat in the kitchen as for some reason kitchens really motivate me more than my bedroom - lying in my bed is just too tempting - and putting on my headphones and listening to either a song or a playlist over and over again at deafening volume. Not for everyone I know but this is my bubble and it keeps me awake, focused and on my game. Experiment a little - if your home is too distracting, a library may work better (I am not a library worker at all but I know plenty of people who are).
  3. HYDRATE YOURSELF. I read somewhere that doing an exam is as physically demanding as going for a run and if this the case, essay writing for me is as draining as a two or three day long exam. This means your bod needs water, water, water. Obvious but easily forgotten when you're feeling sluggish mid afternoon.
  4. If you're taking a break, don't take a break with a screen. It can take 15 minutes for your brain to return to work mode after even the briefest browse of your Facebook, and unless you're from the 1890's and your essays are for some reason needed to be handwritten, chances are you've been sat in front of a screen for at least an hour and your eyes and brain will be in need of a break. Make a snack, have a chat, go for a run or a walk, just don't chill on your phone's Instagram or watch an episode of Friends.
  5. Get in some soup. I am pretty dependent on soup anyway, but it is especially useful when you are short on time and energy as it is super easy to chuck in the microwave and chow down on at  short notice. Ditto cereal. Also get some fruit in you.
  6. If possible, get some cheerleaders. My bestest cheerleader is always my best bro and part time girlfriend Lizzie, who was wonderfully supportive and also doing a different course to me, meaning that our deadlines/essays were never the same and there was none of that Oh Shit You've Nearly Finished feeling you are at risk of with coursemates. Even now we're not living together, we are all over the Word Count Snapchat game and she is a great person to call when I need egging on. Find your Lizzie. (Good advice for life really but I won't bang on about that in this post). And, related to this,
  7. Celebrate dem Word Count victories; let them motivate you, and even time yourself to see how quickly you can get your next 100 words/page done.
  8. And this is my golden advice: DO NOT WAIT TILL YOU ARE IN THE MOOD. I am saying this to myself as much as you guys. You are never going to be in the mood to write 6000 words in French (what I am meant to have mostly done by now. Not going well.) The secret is to just get the ball rolling - close some unhelpful tabs, get your documents open, and write just a sentence, and just keep going. You will end up in the mood just by making yourself work. This will save you from having most of the work left at the last minute. Not that I know anyone that would do that. COUGH.

And that is all my advice for you angels. Above all else, keep going, you are going to get it done, and you are not alone. And if all else fails, just make a mahoosive mental list of all the things you are going to do to celebrate the fact the essay is done!

VIDEO: France Highlights Montage

Here is my highlights reel from France if you are interested guys! :)