Sunday, 25 May 2014

a new look...balayage and a (almost) bob

I fell in love with the balyage effect when we were shown this season's colour trends at the Trevor Sorbie press event last month, and I was very kindly invited back to the salon to review the colouring technique in my beauty column in Women Actually which you can read below... I wanted a whole new look for summer, and decided to freshen up my dull ombre with some brighter blonde balayage highlights, as well as finally taking the plunge and going for the chop I've been umming about for months. As always, the team at Trevor Sorbie Brighton were lovely and did a fantastic job at creating exactly what I wanted. I took in my Pintrest board to show Jamie and Morgan the look I was going for, and they recreated the look perfectly. 

Balayage creates far more natural looking highlights than traditional foils, as the dye is painted on freehand and seperated with cotton wool and cling film to achieve a softer, sunkissed ombre effect. The best thing is, your colourist can completely customise the look to exactly how you want it, whether that's subtle golden highlights or a more prominent dip dyed look. I'm loving having shorter hair too, it's so much easier to manage and style in a hurry (bumble & bumble Surf Spray is my new best friend) and now all the split ends have been cut off, I'm determined to keep my hair in much better condition. 

Shout out to my work mate Sam who took some of these photos for me :-) he's a photographer for the paper but is also an amazing wedding photographer so go check out his site, Page and Picture.

Here's my column... Enjoy!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Radiant Orchid Round Up

When the Pantone Colour of the Year was revealed, I never thought I'd get on with it in make-up terms - it's such a strong shade for someone who tends to always play it safe with peaches, pinks and neutrals. However, I learnt that 'Radiant Orchid' doesn't have to just be the one hue: Pantone 18-3224! but, instead can encompass a whole family of lilacy pinks and intense berry shades that are so wearable on any skin tone or hair colour. 

As my obsession for anything Radiant Orchid coloured grows, so has my beauty collection. I've welcomed a new influx of candy lilac and bold fuchsia shades into my make-up bag (and dug out a few unloved pieces for a breath of fresh spring air).

Benefit Lollitint: This candy orchid coloured cheek and lip stain is so wearable, giving a pretty flush of lilacy pink that can be layered up for a powerful pop of colour. After years of struggling to 'get' Benefit tints, I've finally fallen in love with the budge-proof colours, now that I've learnt to apply them properly. By dabbing a tiny bit of product onto a soft, fluffy blusher brush, the tints can be easily buffed into the skin for a subtle, lit-from-within glow with an airbrushed effect. My previous method of dabbing straight onto the cheeks and rubbing it looked so harsh and uneven - no wonder I didn't appreciate the hype! I was surprised at how well the creamy, lilacy pink colour of Lollitint works on me- it just gives a really subtle, natural looking nod towards the Radiant Orchid trend. When applied to the lips, a few coats give a bang on trend, girly shade that ain't going anywhere all day. 

Benefit Hervana: A heavenly swirl of peach, lilac, petal pink and a pearly highlighter, this box of blusher is the ultimate in achieving a pretty, glowing complexion. Applied alone, Hervana will give the most subtle hint of a peachy lilac glow to the cheeks. Great for when you want a minimalist look with just a wash of on trend colour. Applied atop Lollitint, the shades compliment each other to "intensify" the colour- Not so much in terms of brightness, but to add depth, warmth and a gorgeous shimmer. 

Bare Minerals Loud & Clear Lip Sheer, Berry Remix: If you didn't catch my review of these ultra nourishing, ultra glossy lip balms, click here to read more and see swatches. When working the Radiant Orchid trend in the day time, Berry Remix is a godsend as the sheer coverage gives low-key lip colour. But, layered over Lollitint, Berry Remix adds shine, nourishment, and a more comfortable silky feel to the lips. Lollitint is great in terms build-able pigmentation and longevity, but can be drying and lacklustre. These two products work in perfect harmony to create the ideal Orchid lip. 

Mac Lustre lipstick, Milan Mode: I've rediscovered this oldie but goodie from the depths of my dresser drawer. Milan Mode is a hot fuschia pink, but it's blueish undertones can qualify it to be included in the Radiant Orchid family. It's far bolder than the aforementioned products, with a more intense colour payoff and sparkle. As we know, I fear a bold lip, so a bright coloured Lustre lipstick is about as far as I'll go. The semi-sheer formula provides a decent and obvious pop of colour, which will build up quite bright, but it'll never be an in-your-face, solid block colour. Phew. 

Not too much to say here as you can pop over to my Nail Files section to see individual reviews and swatches of my favourite Radiant Orchid nail shades: Deborah Lipmann; Between The Sheets and Butter London; Molly Coddled. Pretty much all I've been using on my fingers and toes recently and worthy of being included in this round up, even if for pretty photo value alone. Some other shades you may want to check out are Essie; Splash of Grenadine (had this at a salon once, bloody gorgeous), Pop Beauty; Pansy Purple (this has vanished from my collection SOB! Who stole it?! Was it you, Fifi McGee?!) or for a much more sophisticated take that I think my Mum would love- OPI; Significant Other. 

Have you delved into this trend yet? What's your favourite Radiant Orchid make up recommendations? 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

teapigs magic matcha green tea (& a Matcha May giveaway)

I don't quite know what's happened, but I've turned into a little bit of a health freak, and have a new found interest in anything that's green and good for me. I've been drinking green tea religiously since embarking on my new healthy lifestyle in January and reaping the health benefits, so when teapigs told me about their superpower green tea, I obviously jumped at the chance to try it out (and give you the chance to try it too!)

So what makes teapigs' organic matcha green tea* 'superpower'? It contains 137 times the antioxidants of ordinary green tea, boosts energy for up to six hours, gives you healthy skin and helps you lose weight! Amazing!?

The Sciencey Bit...
When you make an ordinary cup of green tea, you end up throwing most of the antioxidants in the bin when you throw the teabag away. But because Matcha powder is made from 100% of the green tea leaf, you drink every last nutrient, vitamin and mineral.

I'm not going to bore you by pretending I know what I'm talking about with long words like thermogenesis (what) but BASICALLY all the goodies trapped inside this green powder is proven to increase energy and alertness, and aid weight loss. It was even voted the best slimming and fitness product of 2011! If you don't believe me and want to nerd up on how it works, read this.

The Yummy Bit
So green tea isn't the most delicious thing in the world, and as suspected, 137x strength green tea isn't exactly tasty. Drinking Matcha as a normal cup of tea certainly wasn't my cup of tea (sorry!) but I did find a few ways to make it bearable, or even actually quite yummy!

Dissolving half a teaspoon of Matcha in a shot glass of water is bloody disgusting, but two swigs, and it's done. 137 cups of green tea in one quick, pretty painless shot, and I'm good to go.

But when I have a bit more time to get my Matcha fix, I've been blending half a teaspoon into a fruity smoothie, and can barely taste it at all. I've been adding it to smoothies of every flavour (raspberry, blueberry, strawberry...) but my favourite super dooper health freak smoothie is made from half a banana, a kiwi, a few handfuls of spinach (you don't taste that either!) a coconut and lime Muller Light and half a teaspoon of matcha.

A Matcha Latte made with almond milk is also quite yummy, and can be enjoyed hot or iced. I use the little electric whisk included in the matcha kit to make the milk frothy and pour it over a teaspoon of matcha dissolved in a little hot water.

Your turn...
teapigs have been very kind and sent me another matcha kit for one of you lovely lot too! It includes a tin of organic matcha tea, a teapigs shot glass, a half teaspoon measure and an electric whisk to whip up your green lattes! If you'd like to win it, just use the rafflecopter widget below! Open until the end of 'Matcha May' to UK readers only. Good luck <3

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Nail Files: Nail Art @ The Final Nail, Brighton

If you're after a bit of jazzy nail art, you have to head down to The Final Nail in Brighton. Alex is one super talented lady when it comes to creating intricate designs on your fingertips, and can do just about anything you fancy - be it pretty prints, cartoons or graphic patterns, lettering or fully blown pictures. (Her colleague and in-house beautician, Lily, has even challenged her to paint the Mona Lisa on her nails, which Alex accepted without batting an eyelid.) Check out a selection of her amazing designs over on their website. As an MUA and established nail artist, Alex has a massively impressive CV, having worked for Fashion houses and high-profile clients, so I was pretty excited to get the celeb treatment!

I popped down to pay a visit to the girls' nail bar and beauty salon, armed with a Pinterest board full of ideas, to get my nails pimped.  We decided to go all out with neon-bright florals, and I opted for a Gelish manicure to make the design last for as long as possible! Alex started with a fluro pink Gelish base, and then painted tiny, intricate flowers on top that look so perfect it's quite hard to believe they're hand painted! I love the mix of the mega bright colours with the floral print, it's stops the design from looking too 'twee' and is so fun and summery. I'm in love with the design, I just can't stop looking at my nails and everyone has been complimenting them and asking where I got 'em done!

I'm totally heading back very soon for something different. For festival season, I'm thinking some 'ethnic textile' inspired nail art a la Lauren Conrad.

Do you have any fun nail-art bars near you? Make sure you pop in to their boudoir-esque salon on Bond Street whenever you're next in Brighton!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Urban Decay Naked Basics: how to make the most of your palette

Sometimes, the best things really do come in small packages. The baby sister of the cult Naked palettes may be dinky, but the stripped back and streamlined Basics palette is capable of big things. It's six essential matte shades can create countless looks - from fresh faced minimalism to sexy smoky eyes. The no frills approach means you won't find any sparkles or metallics, just basic fail-safe shades that are guaranteed to blend seamlessly to create the perfect eye make-up for any occasion. 

Here's the palette low down: 
VENUS: opalescent off-white shimmer
FOXY: pale yellow-toned cream matte
WALK OF SHAME: pale pink-nude shell matte
NAKED 2: soft taupe matte
FAINT: warm mid-brown matte
CRAVE: almost black with very slight shimmer

Playing around with the palette can create endless possibilities, and here are just some of my favourite ways to mix and match the six shades... barely there, bright eyes, classic and smokey.

This minimalist look is ideal for those days when you want to look like you haven't made an effort. I simply swept foxy across the lid and up to the brow bone, with a touch of naked 2 in the crease for a bit of depth and definition. Add a coat of mascara, pair with nude glossy lips and bed hair and you're good to go.

This one is great for disguising tired eyes and faking a fresh, bright eyed look. I used the palette's only shimmer, venus, on the brow bone and in the inner corner of my eye, and blended a mix of foxy and w.o.s over the lid. Then with the ecotools highlighting eye brush (fluffy and sparse bristles) I dusted another light coat of venus over the whole eye to blend it all together, and with a small angled brush, took it under the eye. I also lined my waterline with the shimmery end of my Youngblood Eye Illuminating Duo.

This is my favourite, daily go-to look - classic shadow with cat eye flick. For this one I start by sweeping naked 2 across the entire lid for a darker, velvety base. Then I add depth by pressing faint into the crease and outer corner, and highlight with w.o.s in the inner corner and brow bone - which blends all the shades together. With a small, angled brush, I take a bit of crave under my waterline, then I use a liquid liner to create the flick. To finish off the look, I like to use a tiny bit of crave on the top lid with a small smudging brush to soften out the look of the liquid liner.

Lastly, a dramatic smokey eye. I like this for chilled night out (dinner and cocktails maybe) where full on glitter and false lashes might be a bit much. I start by dabbing crave into the outer half of my eye and crease. I just press it on with a soft angled eyeshadow brush rather than sweep, so that I can control where it sits. Then I press some mid-brown faint onto the inner half of the lid. Then with a bigger blending brush, I place some naked 2 into the inner corner, and on the brow bone, before blending all the shades together gently. To finish, I use a petite shading brush to add a bit more crave  along the top and bottom lash lines, before adding dramatic liquid eyeliner and mascara. 

If you don't already own the Naked Basics (or have it on your wishlist) I hope I've persuaded you to go and get it immediately. It's a real investment which will remain a core piece of your make-up collection all year round! 

(PS - not sponsored or an affiliate link etc etc, I just think this is a must have palette for every woman in the world!)

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Coral round up

Ah Spring is here, and isn't it wonderful? This time of year brings many things that make me feel happy - sunshine, flowers, mini eggs, but most of all... It's time to whack out the coral! I personally think that coral shades are those most suited to me and so do a little happy dance as I stow away the plums and crimsons of winter to make way for a plethora or peaches, nectars and melon hues. Yippee! 

Benefit Fine-One-One: Generally, I'm not one for cream blushers (yes, yes I know - who am I?) but this little stick of magnificence wins me over. With two gorgeous shades of watermelon pink and coral orange, combined with a champagne highlighter, Fine-One-One is the ultimate power product for a gorgeous Spring fling. In stick, the colours look a little daunting, but on application they provide the prettiest sheer flush that blend together seamlessly for a three dimensional, soft peachy glow. As we all love a multi-tasker, Benefit doesn't let us down with this one- the shades work fabulously as lipstick too, providing gorgeous creamy matte coverage. Only, it's annoying when the corals wear away faster than the highlighting stripe and you're left with an uneven stick. #beautyproblems. 

Too Faced Summer Eyes: I can't tell you how happy I felt to dust off this precious little tin of mine for it's second season. I was smitten for it last summer, and love it just as much this time around. I had to include the Summer Eyes palette in this ode to coral due to its vibrant, golden-glittering 'Coral Crush' shade. Click here to see my review of the palette, which includes a photo of Coral Crush in action. It's truly stunning. 

Mac Frost lipstick; Costa Chic: I owe my adoration of coral to this old favourite. Purchased a few years ago for a wedding and worn every sunny day since, Costa Chic is my perfect lip shade. A flawless. Lend of pink and orange, combined with Mac's Frost formula, which gives a subtle shimmer and shine.

elf Mineral Moisturising Lip Tint; Guava*: This is like a pared down version of the above - a pastel peach with a frosted finish, which is ideal for creating a fresh-faced, nude lip look but without looking like my school friend circa 2004 who used a Collection 2000 concealer as a lippy. Lolz. If you missed it, here's the full review and swatches

Korres Lip Butter; Pomegranate: These buttery pots of deliciousness almost feel too nourishing to be classed as make-up, instead feeling like an intense skincare treat. But, the colour pigmentation enable them to create a bold lip worthy of a make-up status. Pomegranate is a lovely coral pink, scented with (you guessed it) Pomegranate. I always get compliments when I slick this on; it's such a pretty shade.
Mavala; Fresh Melon*: I will never tire of how cute the mini Mavala bottles are... Fresh Melon is a pastel candy orange with a slight shimmer that twinkles in the sunlight. Obviously, pastels are the only choice for Spring nails, but if you're not keen on blues and greens, and want something a bit less twee than baby pink, orange is the way to go. See here for swatches. 

Models Own; Tropical Sun: The Beetlejuice collection is sooo two years ago, I hear you cry! Correct, but how could I pass up rediscovering something so pretty? Tropical Sun is quite a punchy orangey peach, fused with a metallic gold and flecks of silver glitter. 

Do you get your coral on as soon as Spring arrives? What are your most loved coral items? 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Nail Files: Between The Sheets

Is one Radiant Orchid inspired nail polish enough? Of course not! Butter London's Molly Coddled is a pretty, sugary sweet take on the Pantone Colour of the Year, but I also wanted an amped-up version. After some intense research on the topic, I decided there's no point in doing these things by halves, and popped Deborah Lippman 'Between The Sheets' on my birthday wish list.

When it arrived (with thanks to Matt's mum xx) it was even more beautiful than I could've imagined. The perfect punchy orchid hue - not pink, not purple but definitely 'radiant' and definitely gorgeous! It's going to look gorgeous with a tan, and this year I'm going to suck it up and get a St Tropez Spray Tan at The Beauty Shed. I've always felt too self concious too strip off and have someone paint me orange, but two stone lighter - why not!

With two coats of 'Between The Sheets', you get a solid, vibrant colour with a glossy finish (made even glossier with a coat of Seche Vite - my friend thought I'd had a shellac... that's the power of Seche Vite ladies!) and as with all Deborah Lippman polishes they're free from chemical nasties that weaken your nails. The one thing I would say is that, for the price, I'm a bit unimpressed with it's longevity... but, perhaps I'm just working too hard. I should invest in a dishwasher. 


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