Friday, 5 December 2014

Sometimes it seems that life is all too hectic, and you need to find a little bit of peace to rest your mind from the mental stress of everyday life. Here in New Zealand, it's all too easy to find somewhere beautiful and tranquil where you're the only person for miles. Last week, I ended up with a car full of travelers on our way to Matauri Bay in the Northland. It wasn't hard to find people willing to come with me for a daytime adventure; a quick scout around the hostel and a "hey, want a ride to the beach?" ended up with myself, a French couple, a Swedish guy and a German backpacker on our way to somewhere beautiful. We all spoke different languages, but communication isn't of great importance when we all share a common interest in discovering somewhere new. That's the beauty of traveling and meeting new people, I think.

As we approached the peak of the winding countryside road, the view of the bay presented itself as if it were screaming at you to appreciate it. I almost slowed to a halt as we all gasped in wonder. Continuing down the steep road, sharp corners gave way to even more breathtaking views and we were just itching to get out of the car and try to photograph the landscape to make it look as picture perfect as it did to the naked eye. We arrived at the bay, and we found that we were the only people on the beach except for one lone surfer. The sand was mostly untouched, golden in colour and hot between my toes. Looking out over the ocean, I had to take a moment to appreciate the turquoise water, waves crashing as they broke and eventually lapping at my feet.

Sometimes it's all too easy to become engrossed in your everyday routine, to constantly worry about the present and the future and the past, to meticulously over-think every single thing going on around you, to forget what it's like to have not a single worry in your mind. Take the time to stop, to find somewhere beautiful and forget about everything - even if it's just for an afternoon.

things have changed

Friday, 28 November 2014

View from Sky Tower, Auckland

Whilst this blog was once an outlet for everything beauty related, I seem to have lost the urge to hoard all things materialistic for the meantime. In fact, I'm currently in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and I have nothing to my name but the bag on my back. It's a nice feeling. Gone are the 3 bags of make-up (and 1 bag of hair stuff, body stuff... I could go on) and instead, I'm carrying around 5 items of make-up - essentials. And not the beauty blogger defined essentials, which is normally triple the amount of a normal person's essentials.

I am in New Zealand for a year, working and traveling with my boyfriend. I thought I could put this blog to good use again by using it as an outlet for what I've been up to, and almost a diary of my travel itinerary if you like. I'm afraid there will be little to no product reviews here (unless you're interested in mozzie spray or aloe vera gel?!) but I hope there will be lots of beautiful places to show you and exciting stories to tell.

I've actually already been here for a month. We left London on the 26th October, and arrived in Auckland on the 28th October. I can safely say that this was the first time I have had jet lag, and I would not wish it upon anyone. Standing in a cramped cubicle shower in an Auckland hostel, I had to hold myself up by the walls as the whole cubicle felt like it was moving just like an aeroplane toilet - horrible! We also flew the San Francisco way round, rather than the Asia way and the journey was one of the best flights I have ever had, hands down. I just love plane food, so it helps that the meals we had were actually really lovely.

As I write this, I'm currently in bed at a beautiful lodge in the remote area of the Northland listening to torrential rain battering the tin roof above my head. Strangely enough, I'm rather thankful for the rain as I'm suffering from the worst sunburn I have ever had at the moment. Four days later and it still bloody hurts. I have lots to show and tell you guys, but I'll save Auckland for another post.


MAC Face & Body Foundation

Sunday, 11 May 2014

MAC foundations and I have never really seen eye to eye; I'm still plagued by memories of orange oxidization, cakey-ness and acne eruptions from my teenage years. In all fairness to MAC, that was probably due to the fact that face wipes were my best friend, and I didn't believe in colour-matching. Anyway, I digress. MAC Face & Body foundation has made me do a 180 on my opinion of MAC foundation products. I love this foundation. First of all, the packaging is wonderful - a hygienic bottle form with a nozzle for easily controllable pouring. The shade is perfect for me and best of all, the foundation is totally buildable. It's a really runny liquid consistency, but it thickens as it warms on your skin. One layer provides a super light, fresh coverage - not quite enough for me. Cue layer two, which provides a second skin-like finish. No cakey-ness in sight! I do still need concealer and a little powder on the t-zone to set this off, but I just love this foundation for lazy days where I can fool people into thinking that I'm not wearing any foundation. It's water based and actually wears really well on my oily, sensitive skin.

MAC, we have a winner!

A Tarte Affair

Friday, 9 May 2014

Let's not beat around the bush here, we're all beauty addicts and I admit, the main reason I was so excited to go back to New York was for the American beauty goodies that are seemingly unobtainable over here. There's one word that never fails to make me weak at the knees, and that's Sephora. The brand which was top of my hit list when shopping in the states was Tarte. I'd heard endless praise for this brand, and I'm so glad that I can now share these little beauties with you lot knowing that they're actually now available in the UK, stocked by QVC - hurrah!

Altogether, I picked up three of the Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushers. Each time I visited Sephora, I just couldn't resist chucking another one in to my shopping basket! I purposely avoided the shimmer-y blush types, as I much prefer a matte blush colour so I opted for Flush, a pale baby pink that's perfect for us pale ladies, Fearless, a suit-all red-toned pink, and Tipsy, the infamous coral orange. Now, although these are pigmented, I do find that I need to swirl my brush quite vigorously to get a good colour pick-up on my brush. I've been using MAC blushes prior to these, and you need to be so light-handed with them, so this took a little getting used to. On the plus side, the lasting power is just incredible. No patchiness or settling into pores, just a lovely pop of colour that lasts all day. The other great thing about the formula is that it isn't chalky or powdery at all, so the colour really does look natural and blends so well with your skin.

You can get your mitts on Tarte products now from QVC! I'm dying to try their full coverage foundation - any other recommendations?

2 months later...

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Sometimes, we all just need a little break. I blog as a fun hobby and unfortunately, life has taken over recently and I've been totally absent over the last two months. I'm not making any apologies for that, I've had some ups and downs and blogging just hasn't been my top priority. But I'm back now and I wanted to share a few updates from the last couple of months.

At the end of March, I jetted off to New York for a little break with my boyfriend. It was my second visit to the city, and it was even better than the first time. It was freezing cold, but we had an absolute blast and did everything we wanted to do and more. I also moved in with said boyfriend, which was a pretty big upheaval from my tiny little room in student accommodation to a lovely house in the country. I've been pretty under the weather recently, which has been a major factor in my absence from blogging. I'd been getting up at 5am every day to get to work, and wasn't getting home until post 8pm, so I was literally exhausted during the week. Weekends were time to recharge and get my energy back up for Monday. To add to that, my job was pretty much soul-destroying. I was often in tears, I dreaded going to work and the whole thing was just horribly stressful. I already have digestive problems which seem to really flare up under stress.

I'm not one for housing negativity in my life, so I got myself a new job which I start next week and I'm feeling so much happier at the moment. Which leads me straight back to here... I've missed blogging and the community as a whole, and I'm so happy to get stuck straight back in. I've also got a few other little projects on the go which are keeping me busy, and I'm sure I'll be able to share them with you soon!

PS: I have my driving test tomorrow, so wish me all the luck in the world!

MAC Studio Fix Powder

Thursday, 6 March 2014

You know when you're 16 and you're not really sure what you're doing with your make-up, but you've just earned your first wage and you decide to splurge on some make-up that's so completely wrong for you? No? Just me, then. I distinctly remember ordering this online and blindly choosing the shade NC35 because I was delusional and in complete denial that I was actually paler than the entire MAC shade range. Yeah, it was never going to end well. I used to apply this stuff like it was going out of fashion, and I must have looked like an actual oompa loompa. Since then, I've steered clear of this product but for some odd reason, I had an urge to purchase it a few weeks ago - in a much more suited shade, I might add.

I popped into my local store and, after standing there coughing and looking utterly lost for a good 10 minutes trying to catch the attention of the MAC assistant, I got matched up to NW20. I'm still not entirely sure what this product is. It's described as a powder foundation, but it doesn't provide enough coverage for me to use it solely as a foundation so I've been using it as a setting powder in places where I need a little more coverage than the average setting powder provides. I find that this powder does go a quite chalky and makes my skin feel dry and slightly tight if I over apply it (definitely out of the question as a foundation, then!), but a quick spritz of MAC Fix+ sorts that right out.  What I do like about this powder is it's impressive oil control. I can get a good 5-6 hours shine-free before I need to top up my t-zone. The packaging is also really convenient, with a large mirror and an applicator sponge (don't use it, cakes like a mother...), and it feels sturdy so I can chuck it in my handbag and not worry about it smashing into smithereens. 

I'm not sure why, but I'm not totally sold on this one. It's just okay. It does the job, and it does it as expected, but it doesn't wow me. Then again it's a powder, not a miracle worker, so maybe I'm expecting a little too much.

What do you think?

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Ah, full coverage foundations... I've never really been a huge fan of them, especially for everyday wear, as I find them too heavy and feel like I'm wearing a mask. But for special occasions or nights out, I do tend to favour a full coverage foundation with impressive longevity and coverage. Enter, Laura Mercier Silk Creme foundation.

I managed to grab this at a bargain price in a blog sale, but typically it's not quite the right shade for me. I have the shade Soft Ivory, which is the palest going in this range. Since travelling America last summer, my tan is still lingering around ever so slightly, and I'm not pale as a ghost like I used to be. I could really do with the shade one step down from this one, but topped up with some bronzer, this does the job for now. When I first tried this foundation, I was far from impressed. It was thick and heavy and seemed to accentuate any blemishes and flaws in my skin - pretty much the opposite from what I wanted to achieve, really. I tried blending it with my fingers, a buffing brush, a damp sponge... and I still hated the results.

However, I persevered. I knew that this foundation was hyped by so many people for some reason, and I was determined to find out why. And now I do. Priming my skin with Becca Rejuvenating Primer, and then Clarins Instant Smooth primer provides a lovely smooth base to work with, and really helps this foundation to sit nicely. This time, I took a tiny amount of product - literally the size of a very small pea - and used my fingers to apply. The results were much more satisfactory. No cakey-ness or flakiness in sight, just a smooth and flawless base. The coverage you get from this really is great, I barely need to use any concealer and it lasts an impressive amount of time. The only thing I don't like is how this wears throughout the day. It seems to separate on my skin and it wears really patchily on me. But, for a night out or a special occasion, this is my go-to purely for the high coverage it offers. It's definitely not one for everyday, casual daytime wear for me, anyway.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush

Saturday, 15 February 2014

hourglass ambient lighting blush
hourglass ambient lighting blush diffused heat
hourglass ambient lighting blush diffused heat
hourglass ambient lighting blush diffused heat swatch

Now, I'm not usually one to give in to blogger hype but when news of this product spread through Twitter like wildfire, I was first in line to snap one up. I've heard rave reviews of Hourglass's ambient lighting powders, but I haven't gotten round to trying them yet. Their new release is the Ambient Lighting Blush which contains a marbled effect blush combining their signature powder alongside some gorgeous blush shades. Promising a glow-y flush of colour with added dimension and a soft-focus finish, I was sold.

I opted for Diffused Heat, which is a coral toned pink and a pretty safe choice for me. The packaging is luxurious and the gold casing looks a treat in my make-up bag. I was actually a little scared to use this product for the first time as the marbled effect is so pretty and I didn't want to ruin it. So reluctantly, I swirled my brush around the pan and applied it liberally to my face. Well, that was a mistake. It's a lot more pigmented than I expected, so you really do need a light hand with this one. The colour transfers beautifully and gives a lovely wash of colour, whilst the pale powder gives the most amazing brightening effect. I've heard from a few others that the marbling really does make a big difference and of course each pan is completely different because of this. I like that I can build up the colour by swirling over the blush parts, and soften it a little by using the pale powder sections at the top left of my pan.

I've fallen a little bit head over heels for this one, and I'm already eyeing up my next shade choice - Ethereal Glow. I've been popping this on at 6am before work and come 6pm when I'm heading home, my cheeks are still bearing the same glow-y flush that they were in the morning - impressive. 

Come on then - who else succumbed to this blogger hype and are you as impressed as I am?

Face Favourites

Friday, 7 February 2014

Recently I've been shying away from slathering on a full face of heavy makeup in the morning and instead favouring a more lightweight application that still manages to hold its own throughout the day. I almost feel a little guilty for mentioning 2 of these products, as I managed to snap them up at bargain prices and there aren't many shades left now! I'm sure we've all heard of Fragrance Direct by now - I usually dismiss bargain websites, but every now and then they stock some absolute treats that I just can't resist.

I've never tried any Korres makeup, but at £3.99 for Korres Ginger & Vitamins Foundation, it would have been rude not to invest. Luckily, they had shade LF1 which I assume is the lightest shade, so I popped it in my virtual basket and awaited delivery. I wasn't expecting much from this, truthfully. I don't usually rate foundations that are marketed as lightweight as I find they often don't wear well on my skin due to its oiliness. But this stuff is so good. The formula is quite a thin consistency and feels really fresh and light to apply. It's ever so slightly too orange for me, but it melts into the skin seamlessly so the colour difference really isn't an issue. It evens out my skin tone and any redness without actually looking like I'm wearing foundation - incredible.

The second bargain treat I got my hands on is the Becca Compact Concealer and I think the shade I have is bisque, but it's since rubbed off the container. I've been after a new concealer since my beloved Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer ran out, and this was too good of a deal to pass up. It's a duo-shade compact which is really handy. The formula is quite stiff and difficult to work with, but warmed up between your fingers it seems to just glide over the skin, pretty much erasing any blemishes or red marks and working wonders on my dark circles. I do carry this around with me and top up throughout the day, and it never goes cakey no matter how much I apply. I think we could be on to a winner here...

Finally, I've invested in a new blush and my first foray into the world of MAC powder blushes. I opted for a matte formula and went for the shade Desert Rose which is quite a dark muted pink-y mauve-y colour (I'm great at describing colours). This is so pigmented that the first time I applied it I ended up looking like a clown and had to start over. I'm used to having to swirl my brush liberally in the pan to get a good pay-off of colour, but with this one all it takes is literally one dab of the brush in the pan and I've got enough colour for both cheeks. PS: It's much less pink than it looks in the picture! 

So that's my round-up of my current staple face products! Have you spotted any bargain beauty purchases recently?

Cystic Acne Heroes

Sunday, 2 February 2014

I've been battling with cystic acne for as long as I can remember, namely around my chin and jaw area. These type of spots tend to make their appearance in large, angry-looking, raised bumps which are painful to touch, and never come to a head. They linger forever and once they finally subside, they often leave dark marks just to make them that little bit more deserving of my hatred. I've been trying to work out a magic formula to banish these blemishes for years, but no matter what I try they always reappear. Although I haven't managed to completely eradicate their presence, I have discovered a little trio of products which help to clear the blemishes, soothe any irritation and finally fade the red marks.

First up is the Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion. This stuff is pure genius, and I cannot praise it enough. I've tried my fair share of spot treatments, but my little cystic friends seemed completely immune to every offering, even the infamous Origins Super Spot Remover. This is a really runny, liquid lotion which you have to shake up first as the sediment tends to settle at the bottle of the bottle. It's a little tricky to use as it's so fluid, but I find that pouring a little on a cotton pad and then dabbing on to the affected areas is the easiest way to use it. This works wonders on under the skin spots. I don't know how it does it, but somehow it can turn the angriest, most painful lump into a little pimple half its size after a couple of uses. I swear by this lotion when I have a cystic breakout, and I haven't found anything that even begins to compare with this. Pricey for such a small bottle, but a little goes a long way. The only downside is its seriously strong smell of sulphur, but that's something I'm more than willing to put up with when it works this good.

Once I've dosed the breakout with some buffering lotion, I follow up with a soothing lotion which helps with the redness and irritation. My favourite is HealGel Face* which I've mentioned before. This is a lovely product for those of us with sensitive skin and really helps to infuse some moisture back into the skin whilst leaving it glowing and smooth. I use one pump for my whole face, and it leaves my skin feeling soft and nourished. I find this step crucial when dealing with cystic breakouts, as often spot lotions and treatments can dry out the area and leave the affected spots flaky and dry, often drawing more attention to them. Following up any spot treatment with a light, hydrating lotion really helps my skin, especially with the healing process.

Finally, a radiance serum. My current favourite is Elemental Herbology Cell Food. I got this after Christmas as part of a set in the sales, so it was a proper bargain. I use a pump of this after HealGel, and again it leaves my skin feeling so nourished and revitalized. A good radiance serum is essential to me for helping with the marks left after a breakout, and this one really helps to speed up that process and fades marks really nicely. It doesn't completely erase them of course, but it certainly gives them a little hand along the way. This also smells really herbal and it's completely non-greasy, so I can use it in the morning as well as in the evening, and it sits really well under my makeup.

Using these products seems to help clear up any active breakouts I have, until the next bout of little buggers come along a few weeks later. So until I find a permanent solution to a suspected hormone imbalance, I'll continue dousing my face with these lotions and potions.

If any of you suffer from under the skin spots or cystic breakouts, I'd love to hear what your hero products are for battling them!


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