We were (are) on a break

Advanced warning – this is probably going to be some sort of ranty word-dump. I’m about a 9.7 on the pissed-off scale, disenchanted with a whole lotta things and annoyed with myself for forgetting to bring Mini Eggs to work today. Although my 5 day birthday weekend food baby is probably thanking me for the last point.

The past few months have been a bit of a struggle for me blog-wise. My brain has been an ongoing circle of wondering whether to keep focusing solely on beauty or to widen things up a bit; worrying about actually getting some time by myself to Netflix and chill on a Sunday instead of spending 10 hours working on my blog and to be honest, feeling quite meh about the whole thing.

Blogging is no longer the fun, casual little thing it was when I started back in 2012. That might not seem like a long time given the stalwarts that have been around since the internet began (well, almost), but it certainly feels like it to me. Blogs these days are now perfectly polished things, with photos that would make Mario Testino jealous and a lifestyle that is all about the ‘goals’.

As a ginger, size 14 (that bit was hard to write), 32 year old, I can tell you now, my life isn’t a Pinterest worthy dream. I have a Mini Egg obsession, a whole load of mis-matched vintage furniture and a rental house that has purple carpet. I also have a full-time job that requires a decent amount of brain effort, so blogging has been my creative outlet for the things I wanted to share. And because I’m not loving blogging at the moment, I feel a bit lost.

I feel like I’ve lost my voice, like I don’t know what I should be doing. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the big PR machine and spit out review after review of some lovely new products, but long-term, that’s not interesting. You deserve more than that.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to be able to test out so many things and find the ones I honestly think are the best, but there’s so much pressure that goes on in the background to please people, that it’s often easy to forget that you have to please your readers. And yourself.

So I want to mix things up a little.

I’m going to give myself a week off, recharge and get my brain cells pumping again. Well, hopefully. When I come back, There’ll be more of a variety of things on here, ranging from my birthday dinner with the girls (love you ladies) through to the best non-sparkly highlighters that’ll give you cheekbones of joy (apologies in advance as one is from Chantecaille and is so expensive it makes me cry. But the cheekbones are worth it.).

I want to keep things real – some days you might get actually get an Instagram shot that’s actually instant (shock horror). Others it might be a photo of my favourite pink lipsticks that took 20 minutes and a crap ton of blue tack to perfect. And I’m ok with that.

Fingers crossed you’ll join me with my mini re-launch. See you on the other side!


29 random things every girl thinks when they visit New York

Tales of a Pale Face in Times Square
Dough doughnuts
1. OMG I had no idea cabs could drive this fast. This is quite fun, kinda like a roller coaster that no-one else seems to be on. Plus it has a mini TV. Cool.

2. Why is the toilet paper so thin and scratchy? Where is the Andrex Double Velvet?

3. And WHY do the toilet doors end like 2 feet above the floor? And have GAPS IN THE SIDES.  Privacy people. Privacy. Nobody needs to be able to see me peeing thank you very much.

4. I love you New York.

5. I actually don’t mind paying $3 for a doughnut WHEN IT’S THE SIZE OF MY HEAD. F** you Krispy Kreme, you have literally been ruined for life for me. Except for maybe those Reese's Pieces ones. Hashtag Taste of New York.

6. Would it be wrong to finish off my giant doughnut as a pre-breakfast?

7. Or maybe I should just save myself for some serious pancake action in about an hour…Oh screw it, eat both, it’s a holiday! It's not possible to give yourself type 2 diabetes in a week, right?

8. Sephora. All the happy vibes, but oh god why does it look like a tornado went through it and where TAF are all of the testers?

9. Also, can you please, please come to the UK. We are sad that you don’t love us.

10. I wonder what would happen if I actually sat down to play chess with one of these people in Union Square. Does that actually happen? Is it just in movies? Will I get hustled for all my $$$ and be forced to return all my Sephora items so I can buy food?

11. FFS can you please just add the tax to the price tags like a normal person. This is ruining all my spending calculations.

12. As is tipping. 20% for crap service is not ok. Even if your wages are shitty.

13. Buildings so tall. Me so tiny.

14. *checks pedometer* I walked 10 miles today. WTAF. That clearly means I can get away with eating another cookie.

15. Getting asked for ID before you go into a bar despite CLEARLY looking over 21 is literally the highlight of the trip. Love you doorman.

16. I’m liking this ‘free pour’ drink thing. Although two gins and no carbs is not a good combo. Must get carbs. Mmm...carbs.

17. I hate myself for being a tourist but the M&M shop on Times Square smells SOOOOO good.

18. Ok, got totally suckered into buying the most expensive M&Ms EVER. Damn you delicious chocolately smell. Ooh, dark chocolate peanut ones!

19. Thank you Starbucks for all your sweet, sweet free wifi.

20. And iced tea. Feeling totally like a New Yorker strutting along 5th Avenue with my Starbucks cup.

21. The view from the Empire State Building at night is so beautiful I actually want to cry.

22. Timing Instagram posts for when UK people are still awake is a pain in the ass. I wanna share my NY view right this second, but it’s 1am your time and my ego needs likes.

23. Totally planning a day of Sex & the City tourist spots. See you at Magnolia bakery…Or Carrie’s stoop.

24. How the hell did Carrie Bradshaw walk around NY in heels? 3.46 minutes in and my feet are DYING. And while we're at it, afford that apartment by writing ONE article per week. I'm starting to feel slightly duped by the whole thing.

25. In fact, it was just a waste of luggage room bringing anything other than a pair of Adidas. I wasted valuable Sephora space on shoes.

26. Resisting the urge to walk around singing ‘New York, New York’ is hard. Or a bit of Alicia Keys for that matter.

27. Why isn't breakfast at Tiffany's a real thing? I would be ALL over that.

28. If I ask Santa REALLY, REALLY nicely, do you think he can arrange for me to come and live here?

29. Santa…? You listening?

House of Fraser Beauty offer - £10 off when you spend £50

House of Fraser beauty offer March 2016
It's not often you get a good discount on high end beauty products, so House of Fraser deserve a bit of a high five for their latest offer. They've cleverly timed it around pay day for most of us, so it's a great time to get a haulin' (not that you probably need much encouragement!).

When you spend £50 or more on beauty products until Sunday 3rd April, they'll give you £10 off your total purchase. All you have to do is include one of their favourite 30 products in your shop and you qualify for the discount.

That might sound like a *tiny* bit of a faff, but when you see the list, it's actually SO easy to do - most of them are ones I'd recommend stocking up on anyhow, and it's a good excuse to give something new a try.

Buy one of these to qualify for the £10 off £50 offer

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer 30ml £29.50

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+Pump £30

Clarins Multi-Active Day Cream SPF 20 50ml £42

NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint Foundation 50ml £30

Kiehl’s Turmeric And Cranberry Seed Energising Mask £28

Yves Saint Lauren Le Teint Touché Éclat Foundation 30ml £32.50

Clarins Super Restorative Eye Concentrate 15ml £54

Laura Mercier Silk Crème Oil Free Photo Finish Foundation 30ml £35

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation 30ml £30

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base 50ml £39

Estee Lauder New Dimension Pump& Fill Lip £29

Benefit Exclusive Cheekathon Blush Kit, £44.50

Lancôme Hypnose Mascara £23

Clinique Smart Treatment Oil 30ml £38

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation £37

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire Lip £21.50

Clinique Pep Start Eye Cream 15ml £22

Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate 30ml £36

Estee Lauder Revitalising Supreme £62

Lancôme Advance Genifique 30ml £59

Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream 30ml £108

Lancôme Juicy Shaker £18.50

Clarins Double Serum 30ml £69

Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick £33

Benefit They’re Real Mascara £19.50

Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick £29.50

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair 50ml £70

Yves Saint Laurent Touché Éclat £25

Urban Decay Naked Palette £38.50

NARS Blusher £23

Whether you're addicted to YSL's Touche Eclat like me (thank you Lord for this absolute wonder) or gagging to try the new NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint (full review over here), there's something for everyone.

Clinque's new Pep Start eye cream is the perfect solution to tired morning eyes - it instantly brightens the eye area and offers a much-needed boost of hydration. In my sleepy state, it did take me a few moments to work out how to open the tube - you have to pop up the round bit in order for the product to come out! £22

If you're in your late 20s/early 30s, then Clarins' Multi-Active Day Cream will be right up your street. It's designed to combat the first signs of ageing like fine lines (I have these, and they suck), and has a surprisingly lightweight, yet hydrating formula. It's been recently reformulated to give added protection from free radicals and the daily stresses of life and I can see it becoming a permanent fixture in my bathroom. £42

For slightly more mature skins, I'd definitely recommend Lancome's Advanced Genefique Youth Activating Concentrate. A few drops of this serum applied prior to your moisturiser will help tackle everything from fine lines to general skin dullness. £59

What would you spend your £50 on?

*contains PR samples


Lancome Juicy Shakers review

Lancome Juicy Shakers review
Lancome Juicy Shakers review
The 15 year old me had a minor obsession with Lancôme’s Juicy Tubes. Maybe it was because they were *just* affordable enough for a teenager with a part-time job to be able to buy one as a treat, or maybe it was that fruity scent and glossy finish that did it. I don’t know, but I’m pleased to see that their new Juicy Shakers will appeal to a young and more mature audience all at once and I’ve been just as pleased with these as I was 15-odd years ago with my first ever Juicy Tube.

Juicy Shakers are a lightweight, semi-glossy lip tint, which mingles a combination of hydrating oils with a barely there hint of colour. You need to give them a good shake before applying them to mix the formula together – the oil and pigment separate slightly throughout the day, so give it a good shake before each use.

The little sponge applicator is a really good shape for getting an even application and makes it super simple to do with or without a mirror. As the pigmentation is quite light, these work really well used alone for a glossy lip, or used over the top of a stronger lipstick to add a shiny finish.

I normally avoid glosses at all costs nowadays, but these are an absolute joy to wear as the oil base means there’s no sticky finish I normally associate with a gloss. They also help to condition your lips while you wear them; double win!

There are 13 shades to choose from, plus Mint To Be, a limited edition one for Spring. Each has a fruity name and a corresponding fruity scent – my favourite is currently Freedom of Peach, but I also want to get my hands on Mangoes Wild and Meli Melon as they sound divine!

Juicy Shakers cost £18 each and can be found across Lancôme counters now.

Are you an old school Juicy Tubes fan? Do you like the sound of the new Juicy Shakers?


New York: the haul

New York Sephora and drugstore haul
New York Sephora and drugstore haul
New York Sephora and drugstore haul

Confession time. I went in to 5 different Sephora’s in 5 days in NY. Now, I don’t feel like that’s TOO excessive given the fact that they all seem to be slightly different, but some of your may disagree.

Anyhow, I was determined to try and track down stuff that I couldn’t get in the UK rather than spend all my hard-earned cash on things that were *slightly* cheaper, but easily available at home.

Annoyingly, there seemed to be some sort of Manhattan-wide Kat Von D shortage, as all of the products/shades I was after were out of stock in every single Sephora I went into. Disappointing. I guess I’ll have to make an online order for that instead; clearly everyone wanted the same nude shades as me.

Anyhow, I did manage to spend quite a few $$$ while I was there, mixing it up with Sephora and the drugstores. Duane Reade is the drugstore of choice in New York – they seem to have one on every street. It’s a weird mix of beauty products and groceries, so you can stock up on peanut butter M&Ms while you peruse the tampons and Milani.

If I’m honest, I found the drugstores a little overwhelming – there was so much choice, but they don’t seem to label what’s new, so it was quite hard to pick out bits and pieces without a good ol’ Google session beforehand.

I’d seen the Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquids thanks to Jane from British Beauty Blogger, so grabbed one of those and also tracked down some Milani Lip Oils, which seem to be a similar thing to the GOSH ones I reviewed a few weeks ago.

I seem to be allergic to EOS lip balms which sucks as they’re so nice, so instead I bought a mini hand cream from them to keep in my handbag. There was also the obligatory Wet n Wild Walking on Eggshells palette – the perfect neutral eye shadow trio.

Although I’d heard a LOT about Bath & Body Works, I’d never actually been to one before, so made it my mission to get up to the one near the Flat Iron building the day I arrived. The number of scents they stock is just unreal – you need a good hour to browse and sniff your way through the shelves! I ended up with 5 mini pocket anti-bacs in different fruity/citrus scents, as well as two fragrances mists and a matching body cream. I’m kinda wishing I had bought myself a 3 wick candle or two now, but I was a bit worried about fitting it all in my suitcase, so resisted the urge.

Sephora-wise, I knew I had to grab one of the cream lip stains, so I found Pink Souffle a pinky-nude that I know I’ll wear a lot. I also found the new Luster Matte Liquids which are of a similar pigment level, but with a glossier finish, so went a bit bolder on that one and tried out Orchid Luster.

There was an entire counter dedicated to colour-correcting, so thought I'd give their redness corrector a try, as well as picking up the new Blotterazzi by Beauty Blender which seems like an interesting concept! After spending several visits tracking down the new Estee Edit range, I decided to give the Flash Photo Powder a try, as it promises to give an almost Instagram filter finish to your skin. Fingers crossed!

I made a few skincare purchase too - a Sephora sachet mask, Josie Maran's argan trial kit, a mini Glam Glow cleanser (which will hopefully launch here later this year) and a Too Cool For School Egg Mousse Pack which I'd heard very good things about.

As it was my birthday month, I got a little Sephora reward as part of their points card system, giving me a very cute Marc Jacobs beauty duo. I'd highly recommend getting one of their loyalty cards - not only do you get birthday gifts and points, but there are also special offers galore. Even if it's just for a single visit, you can still earn some decent points if you like a good haul!

On our trip to Chelsea Market, Kelsey and I had a quick whizz around all of the craft stalls and I fell in love with the canvas makeup bags. The New York slogan definitely appealed and it's the perfect size to pop in my handbag with all my new makeup. I also found Limegreen, an artisan brand from Brooklyn who make natural skincare and body products. Their Lemongrass oil was too good to resist, so I had to bring a bottle home with me.

At the time it felt like I didn't buy a huge amount, but looking back at it all definitely proves me wrong. Oops. I'll be doing some reviews on a few of these products over the new few weeks - let me know if there's anything you'd like to see more info on!

Read all of my New York posts...


New York: the food

New York Dough DoughnutsNew York pancakesNew York The Smith brunchNew York Pies and Thighs deep fried pickles
New York Sephora and cookiesNew York mimosa
New York Juniors cheesecake
New York Juniors grilled cheese
New York Leo's bagels
New York Leo's bagels
New York baked by Melissa cakes
New York pies and thighs fried apple pie
New York pies and thighs fried chicken review
My approach to food in New York was ‘go hard or go home’. And I sure as hell wasn’t going home. I used it as an excuse to eat ALL the food I’ve been craving for months and despite putting on 4lbs in 6 days, it was 100% worth it.

I have to thank my friend Kelsey for not slapping me for being the annoying person who wanted to take food photos before she could eat her pancakes. After the 6th time it probs got quite annoying. So I bribed her with mimosas and everything seemed fine. Ahem.

You can see a whole load of food pics above – there are too many to go into detail on everything, so I’ve pulled out a few highlights below. Just don’t blame me if they make you hungry #sorrynotsorry…

Pies & Thighs – possibly one of the best restaurant names ever, Pies & Thighs (Lower East Side) is the perfect mix of fried chicken, soul food and dessert pies. I fully recommend getting yourself a plate of fried chicken – the crispy coating is lovely and light and essentially a mouth orgasm waiting to happen. I paired mine with mac n cheese and a savoury biscuit which resulted in a full-on carb coma and a very big smile. If you ask nicely the waitress will bring you some honey butter for your biscuit (which is basically a giant, flaky pastry scone) and then you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven. Kelsey’s Chicken and Waffles also looked amazing; think light crispy waffles with a cranberry maple glaze. Despite being beyond full, apple pie beckoned for dessert so I took one for the team and squeezed a piece in. We ate so much that our night on the town ended after 2 drinks as we were both so sleepy, but I have absolutely no regrets. It’s also really reasonably priced, at around $12-$15 for a main.

Mighty Quinn’s – this place is a meat lover’s dream. Deffo not one to bother with if you’re veggie as even the BBQ beans have chunks of brisket in, but to be fair, they’re not really trying to appeal to that market! There are several locations across Manhattan and Brooklyn – we tried the one in the West Village. You queue up canteen style, order your food and drink and then take a seat and get stuck in. I went for a portion of brisket (which incidentally, is HUGE), plus sides of maple pecan sweet potato and BBQ beans. All together it was a little bit too sweet for me – I should’ve swapped the beans for the broccoli salad but hindsight is a bitch. I wanted to order the Brontosauras Rib, which at $23 was about 3 times pricier than any other meat on the menu and Kelsey warned me it’d probs be 3 times the size, so I took her advice and didn’t. Next time though…

Dough – I tracked down Dough in a jet lag fugue state just after arriving on the Tuesday afternoon. I’d read loads about it online before going, so knew these were going to be good doughnuts and they really didn’t disappoint. They’re made freshly every day on site, with around a dozen different varieties to choose from. I went for a classic chocolate iced (am slightly regretting not also buying a Dulce de Leche) which ended up being almost the size of my head. They’ve managed to make the dough so light and fluffy you could easily power through it in one sitting, but I was so tired that I took mine back to the hotel room and feel asleep partway through so finished it off for breakfast the next day. Krispy Kreme will never look the same again. Dough, you spoiled me. $3-4 each.

Junior’s - it’s a total tourist trap as it’s smack bang in the middle of Times Square, but their legendary cheesecake is well worth the queue. The savoury food is pretty average, but works well as an excuse to face plant a giant piece of cheesecake for dessert. They also do takeaway, so you might be better off just grabbing a slice and hot-footing it up to the park and enjoying it in a slightly more relaxed environment.

The Smith – New York ain’t New York without a decent brunch and after attempting (and failing) to secure a table at the Clinton St. Bakery the day before, we booked ahead for Sunday brunch at The Smith to avoid any potential hanger issues. It’s absolutely HUGE, given how high rents must be in this part of Manhattan, and was absolutely rammed at 10.30am so booking in advance is definitely a good idea. They have a huge menu to choose from, so you can get everything from French Toast right through to a burger. I had Sicilian baked eggs and a side of home fries – perfect to counter all the sugar from the days before and Kelsey had a classic avo and poached eggs on toast. Yum. Around $25 each including coffee.

Insomnia Cookies – do yourself a favour and go here. They serve their cookies warm at all times, and the slightly crunchy outer, gooey inner is so good it makes me want to cry that they don’t have one in London. I bought a box of six (peanut butter, chocolate chunk and smores) and have no regrets.

Dig Inn – for something a little healthier, Dig Inn is a great option. We went there twice in the week during our lunch breaks as it was close by, delicious and actually had some veggies in it. It’s another canteen style place – you queue up, choose what base you’d like, then your protein and then choose two sides to go with it from various salad and vegetable combos. It’s quick, very tasty and pretty cheap (about $10). I also love them for the fact you can add half an avocado to your lunch for $1; more places need to do this.

BRB, writing this post has made me so hungry I need to go track down food…


New in: 3 must-have mascaras from Marc Jacobs, Elizabeth Arden and Makeup Forever

3 must-have high end mascara launches from Elizabeth Arden, Marc Jacobs and Make Up for Ever
I'm quite happy to admit that finding the ultimate mascara is a bit of an obsession of mine. When you're blessed with invisible blonde lashes, finding a decent one becomes less a matter of vanity and more one of total necessity! Over the years I've tried hundreds of different ones with varying results, finding my one true mascara love in Too Faced's Better Than Sex.

Now, just because I'm in a long-term relationship with one particular mascara doesn't mean I stop hunting around for the next big thing. What can I say, I'm fickle! So I wanted to run you through three others that i'm currently loving at the moment.

Elizabeth Arden's Grand Entrance gives great definition  and curl to lashes, with just the right amount of volume and length. I love the fact that you can layer this one up to customise the amount of volume you get - one coat is very natural, two is a bit bolder and three is my favourite for a night out. The curved silicone brush gives great root lift, and also helps to separate the lashes to avoid any clumps. It has a tiny little brush on the end, meaning it's easy to get into those dinky little corner lashes without poking yourself in the eye with the wand and the super black formula doesn't flake or smudge, even after a 12 hour day. £22

It's great to see Makeup Forever in Debenhams, as it makes it soooo much easier to get hold of! The Smoky Extravagant Mascara is a must-try in my books - I love the fluttery lash look it gives. Like the Elizabeth Arden mascara, this one is a buildable formula; I usually go for two coats in the day time for a really fluttery finish. The conical brush does take a little getting used to, but with a bit of practice you can get every single lash with minimal effort. The colour is a slightly softer black shade than your standard black, which is quite flattering, especially if you have naturally lighter lashes like me. £18

Marc Jacobs' beauty line has just launched into Harrods, making it much more accessible than it had been up until now (it was available in-store only at their boutique in Mayfair, but that's about it). The Velvet Noir Major Volume mascara definitely lives up to it's name - it packs on the volume in just a couple of coats and manages to do so without clumping. The brush is about the right size for me, not too big and not too small, giving decent lift at the roots that lasts all day. If you have oilier lids, then you might find that it smudges a little towards the end of the day. I noticed a little bit of transfer after a 14 hour day in a very humid New York, but to be fair, I was definitely putting it through it's paces! £20

Have you tried any of these mascaras? What are your current favourites?

*contains PR samples


Thoughts on New York

I’m sat here right now in a massive grump as it’s 27.5 hours since I left New York and I already want to go back. In case you missed my huge amount of Internet/Insta-spam last week, I was lucky enough to get shipped over to the Big Apple for 5 days in order to give some training to my fellow marketing peeps. To say that I was excited is an understatement – it’s not often you get to go somewhere and for someone else to pay for it (minus cocktails and Sephora hauls, obvs), so I spent the past 3 months planning an itinerary with my friend Kelsey, who lives in Brooklyn and very kindly played tour guide to me for the entire weekend in exchange for whiskey cocktails and cookies.

I’ve got a whole load of posts coming up with a photo diary, ALL OF THE FOOD and of course, the beauty haul, but I wanted to do a bit of a brain dump while it’s all still fresh in my head. New York is such an amazing place, but I feel like you could go there for a whole year and only just scratch the surface. There’s so much to do, to eat, to see – it really is the city that never sleeps. So if you’re planning a trip sometime soon, here are my five things you NEED to do. Promise.

1. Brooklyn Bridge – join the 24 million other tourists and cross the Brooklyn bridge. If you have more time, avoid going on a Saturday morning like me, as you will literally have to fight your way through the thousands of other people with the same idea, but the iconic views and Instagram opportunities are well worth the tussle. If you’re pushed for time like we were, walk halfway across, take your photos and walk back again. Not *quite* as fulfilling, but hey, a girl’s got to make the most of what time she has.

2. The High Line/Chelsea Market – the High Line is a beautiful place for a wander with a cold drink from Starbucks. It’s a series of raised up gardens and walkways that take you through the old tram line that used to supply the meat packing district when it actually packed meat, rather than trendy underground night clubs. It’s very chilled, so take your time and wander down towards Chelsea Market, which is just off the High Line at 16th street. Chelsea Market is full of dozens of delicious places to eat (from full on restaurants, to little pop up booths) as well as a craft/artists market stuffed with unusual gifts and souvenirs that you will struggle to find anywhere else.

3. Eat a LOT- New York is not the place to be on a diet. I mean, there are some great places if you want to go healthy, but for me, this trip was all about the stuff we don’t get in the UK. I’ll do a separate post about some of my favourite places to eat, but it’s safe to say I ticked off a lot: fried chicken, slow cooked BBQ, cookies, the nicest pizza I think I’ve ever had and a whole lot more. Expect to put weight on and just enjoy it. I have a NY food baby and I’m quite ok with that.

4. Top of the Rock – I’d pre-booked tickets to Top of the Rock’s observation deck before I went as it can get pretty busy at the weekends so I wanted to make sure we’d be able to get in at a specific time. For $32 you get the most unbelievable views of the entire city, crossing out the New Jersey and Brooklyn. You can also see the Empire State Building, which makes it a slightly better option for me than the Empire State Building’s view, but I’d recommend doing both if you have the time (and money) – aim for one in the day time and one at night. The views are well worth it.

5. Times Square – there really isn’t anywhere else quite like Times Square. It weirdly seems to get busier that later into the night you go, so if you hate crowds, avoid it at all costs. Embrace being a tourist – I was making a total prat of myself by taking photos outside the Hello Kitty store, posing with some NY mounted police and generally just being an over excited child.

And a few tips…

1. The toilets are weird and the toilet paper is nasty. I swear the sewer system must be rubbish as everywhere only seems to stock horrible thin toilet paper – there’s no Andrew Quilted here ladies. The large gaps under the doors are also very handy if you lock yourself in as you can just crawl out, but take some getting used to.

2. Take ID with you. As an *almost* 32 year old, getting asked for ID at a bar on Friday night literally made my holiday but apparently they do this to anyone who looks vaguely under 40. So go prepared.

3. Expect to tip EVERYONE. The tipping culture out there is just crazy. 15 to 20% is the norm, so make sure you allow for that when it comes to cab fares, bars and restaurants.

4. Sales tax. Unlike the UK, they add the tax after you get to the counter, so you might have added up your Sephora purchases and think you’re still in budget and then get to the checkout and find out it’s actually $10 more. New York tax seems to be about 8%, and gets charged virtually everywhere, so factor that in to any purchases.

5. The subway is confusing, but actually really cheap for getting around. They don’t have as many maps posted in the stations as you get on the London Underground, so work out where you’re going and which subway line you need to get BEFORE going to the station. There aren’t many interchange points either, so you might have to walk a bit in order to get to your final destination.

I’ll be back later this week with some more New York posts – let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see. And tell me your favourite locations to visit!



Bioderma Sensibo H2O Face Wipes

Bioderma Sensibo H2O face wipes review
This is probably the only time you'll ever see a face wipe on my blog as I tend to avoid them like the plague. However, when I heard that Bioderma were launching their cult Sensibo H2O wipes in the UK I thought it was a good time to put my prejudices aside and give them a try.

Bioderma's Sensibo Micellar Water has always been a French pharmacy favourite, providing a quick and easy way to remove makeup without stripping the skin. The Sensibo H2O Wipes are a more travel-friendly option - they've been infused with the same gentle, alcohol-free micellar water as you'd normally buy in the big bottles.

While I don't think wipes are the best bet for every day cleansing, these really are good for festivals, travelling or as a quick pre-cleanse to remove the majority of your makeup before a deeper, secondary cleanse. Bioderma's really are lovely and gentle, with no stinging around the eye area or greasy residue.

They're not the cheapest wipes out there at £7 for a pack of 25, but if like me, you've previously avoided wipes in the past, these are definitely a more skin-friendly version that's not full of nasties.

At the moment, these are an Escentual exclusive - why not add a pack to your next Micellar Water order and see what you think!

*contains PR samples 


In flight beauty essentials

In-flight beauty essentials
In-flight beauty essentials
Long haul flights are a mixed bag - there's the joy of being able to watch 8+ hours of TV guilt-free and as many snacks as you can handle, balanced out with the fact you're essentially travelling for an entire day that could be spent at your destination. It also plays ABSOLUTE HAVOC with your skin thanks to the lovely recycled air which is drier than the Sahara. 

I'm heading off to New York in a few days (EEEEP!) so wanted to share a few of my plane essentials that will be keeping me company all the way to JFK. Foundation isn't one of them - I try to apply mine just before touchdown so I can keep slapping the moisturiser on at hourly intervals throughout the flight. The fact that it's a 4.30am alarm call also means that by only applying mascara and eye liner, I can get an extra ten minutes in bed and hopefully won't scare the taxi driver or flight attendants *fingers crossed*. 

Invisibobbles are basically a key part of my life, so it stands to reason that at least one of these bad boys will be either on my wrist, or holed up in my hand luggage. They won't give you a headache if you wear them all day and they also allow you to take them out just before getting off the plane and still have a reasonably good blow dry. 

Eight hours of plane snacks is probably plenty for anyone, so a toothbrush and some toothpaste is a must have for me. If only to stop me eating wine gums for the entire flight. 

To avoid too much dehydration in my skin, I'll be using This Works Light Time Skin Plumper throughout the flight and also REN's new Instant Brightening Beauty Shot Eye Lift to help hydrate and reduce any puffiness around my eyes. 

I've saved a mini L'Occitane hand cream from my Christmas advent calendar as it's the perfect size to travelling and Melvita's rose balm will be on standby to act as a lip balm/general all round hydrator.

If I was slightly braver, I'd probably take also sheet mask with me for the ultimate in flight skin treat, but I'm not sure my fellow passengers are quite ready for that sight!

What are your favourite in flight beauty products? Is there anything you'd recommend I take with me?

*contains PR samples


YSL Rouge Volutpe Shine - 12 new spring shades

YSL Rouge Volupte Shine 2016 spring shades review and swatches
YSL Rouge Volupte Shine 2016 spring shades review and swatches
YSL Rouge Volupte Shine 2016 spring shades review and swatches
Rose Saint Germain, Rouge Tuxedo, Corail a Porter, Fuchsia Stiletto
Ever since I was a teenager, YSL lipsticks have always been at the top of my beauty lust list. There's something so luxurious about them - they're the kind of lipstick you want to pull out in public for constant top ups, just to flash the iconic gold casing.

The Rouge Volupte Shine range has proven to be a firm favourite over the years. Not just for the ridiculously beautiful casing, but also it's hydrating, semi-sheer formula that's so easy to wear. 

YSL have just added 12 new shades to the line up, with a mix of 'Day Birds, Night Bloomers and Wekeenders'. AKA your daily faves, bold brights and a whole lotta pink. I'm not going to apologise for the MASSIVE enable that this post is going to turn into. Every girl needs at least one YSL lippie in her life, so find a good excuse (or a bad one, whatevs) and grab yourself one/all of these. 

Out of the four new shades I've been trying, Corail A Porter is probably the one that will get the most wear, purely as it's a perfect day time shade that doesn't require lip liner or a seriously close precision on application. I thought it was going to be a touch more coral given the name, but on me it verges more towards pink and the slight blue undertones make it very flattering on pale skin. 

Rose Saint Germain is a slightly more intense version, again with a coolish base to it. It's a bit bolder, but one that you can easily wear at anytime without feeling overdone. 

Rouge Tuxedo and Fuschia Stiletto are a whole different ball game - they're impressively pigmented given the high-shine formula, but still aren't as in your face as they would be if they were in a more traditional matte formula. 

If you're drawn to the brighter shades, I'd definitely recommend using a lip liner first to help stop any potential bleeding or feathering around the edges as the formula can be a tiny bit slippery. That said, they're worlds away from your typical shiny gloss - it's more of a sheen and with none of the sticky feel. They also leave your lips feeling super-soft after use and there's no nasty dry feeling that you can get with more matte finishes, thanks to the blend of 6 oils present in each one. 

You can find all 12 new Rouge Volupte Shine shades on counters now, priced £25 each. Will you be adding one to your wishlist? 

*contains PR samples 


NARSissist L'Amour, Toujours, L'Amour Eyeshadow palette review

Nars Narsissist L'Amour Tourjours L'Amour eyeshadow palette review swatches
Nars Narsissist L'Amour Tourjours L'Amour eyeshadow palette review swatches
Nars Narsissist L'Amour Tourjours L'Amour eyeshadow palette review swatches
Spring is clearly the time for stand out eye shadow palettes – there’s been Tarte’s Rainforest of the Sea and now we’ve got the new, limited edition L’Amour, Toujours, L'Amour palette from NARS. Your bank balances might not thank you for it, but yes, you probably do need both. Honest.

L’Amour, Tourjours, L'Amour features twelve new shades, with a mix of day-to-day neutrals and a few stronger, smokier shades. Annoyingly, they haven’t given them proper shade names which I think is slightly disappointing, instead labelling them up with Roman Numerals from 1 to 12. Shades 1 to 4 are probably the ones that will get used the most – think soft barley whites, light golds and a deeper black shade. The second and third rows feature a mix of shades from a deep electric blue through to a beautiful bronze with a few greys and taupes thrown in for good measure.

I want to high five NARS for realising that we all hit pan on our favourite shades too easily, so the first four in the palette are much larger than the accent colours, ensuring you won’t run out of your base shades in a hurry. It’s the sort of thing more brands need to do *hopes Urban Decay are listening, please make Half Baked bigger in all of your palettes*.

There’s a good mix of matte and shimmer shades here and the formula is really, really impressive. I’ve tried a few single NARS shadows before and found them a little chalky, but these are buttery soft and intensely pigmented, especially the more shimmery shades – just use a reasonably dense shadow brush to make the most of the pigment and minimise any fall out. They also last well throughout the day, wearing for around 8 hours on me (without primer) before I noticed any obvious fading.

Predictably, my favourite combination is shade I all over the lid and socket, with coppery shade VI smudged across the lid and a little of II for a highlight in the corner of the eyes. I absolutely love the look of the deep blue they’ve included (shade X) – I’ll be working this into a bolder evening look at the weekend for something a little different.

Packaging-wise, it’s good to see a sturdy plastic shell, although the mirrored finish to the top does make it an absolute b*tch to keep clean from fingerprints. It’s also quite a big palette, so probably not one I’d want to lug around with me all day, but that might just be me as I’m lazy and like as light a bag as possible.

L’Amour, Toujours, L'Amour is available via the NARS website, John Lewis, Selfridges and other NARS stockists, priced £55. There’s also a new limited edition sculpting/blusher palette which looks rather lovely. Be warned, it does contain that old faithful Laguna, so might not be everyone’s cup of tea if you already have 27 in your collection like me, but safe to say, I suspect both of these palettes will be sell outs.

Do you like the look of the new eye shadow palette from NARS?

*contains PR samples


3 to try: spring fragrance launches

3 spring fragrances launches from Britney Spears, Dolce & Gabanna and Aerin
The official start to spring might still be a few weeks away, but as I write this, the sun is absolutely blazing and although it's ball-achingly cold outside, I'm quite happy to pretend that spring has sprung a little early. To help get you in the mood, I've picked out three fragrances that I think are perfect for this time of year - a couple are new launches and there's something included for everyone's budget.

Aerin Mediterranean Honeysuckle - I've been absolutely obsessed with this fragrance ever since it dropped through the letterbox. The name infers it should be quite floral, but I've found that the honeysuckle notes are quite subtle and instead I find that the grapefruit and bergamot notes come through in a much stronger way. It's quite a citrusy fragrance without being overpowering and works perfectly as an indulgent daytime scent. The bottle design feels reassuringly expensive, which is a good thing as a 50ml EDP will set you back £88. That said, 2 spritzes is more than enough to last for hours, so don't overdo it when you apply it!

Britney Spears Maui Fantasy - Britney's fragrance line has been going for absolutely years now and this is her 19th fragrance. I've often found them to be a bit too sweet for me in the past, but Maui Fantasty manages to be so much fresher, while still retaining that Britney feel. It mingles notes of tropical fruits and hibiscus flower and definitely conjours up thoughts of warm tropical days. Prices start at £25, so it's really affordable.

Dolce & Gabanna Rosa Excelsa - this little beauty is all about the rose. It blends top notes of Neroli and papaya with heart notes of Turkish Rose Absolute and African Dog Rose and honestly smells good enough to eat. The rose has often been a central part of D&G's runway collections, so it's lovely to see them tying it all up with a matching fragrance. I love the frosted glass bottle with it's rose flower top - it brings the whole rose theme together very nicely. From £48.50 for a 30ml EDP.

What are your favourite spring fragrances?

*contains PR samples


Beauty from within: the supplements

Beauty from within - supplements for healthier skin
Beauty from within - supplements for healthier skin
Eating yourself 'beautiful' is a huge trend at the moment. With everyone and his dog jumping on the clean eating bandwagon, and avocado on toast being the new food du jour, it seems like we're all a little more conscious about how what we eat can have an impact on our skin. Over the past few months, I've been trialing a few different supplements to see what sort of effect they'd have, with some really interesting results.

Collagen supplements are a huge market at the moment, but I've been a bit skeptical of many of them as much of the time the collagen gets broken down by your stomach acid before it has the chance to do any good. Collagen keeps our skin resilient, our joints working smoothing and provides structure within our cells - it also gives it that lovely youthful plumpness. The natural levels in your body start dropping off from the age of 30 (*cries*), so supplements can help to boost natural levels once again, and potentially have a positive impact on the signs of ageing.

Ingenious Beauty's Ultimate Collagen+ has been one of the few that for me has really shown a noticeable difference during a full month's course. These little capsules are packed full of naturally derived collagen and are encased in a plant cellulose shell, which has special powers (yes, really - full science bit here) to ensure the collagen isn't released until it gets to your small intestine where it can be properly absorbed. You take three pills about 45 minutes before bedtime, preferably on as empty a stomach as possible. Although I don't have any deep-set wrinkles at the moment, I have noticed a more 'bouncy' look to my face. My nails also seemed to grow much quicker than normal and flake a lot less, so I suspect that my body has been using it in these areas.

Fountain are another skin targeting range - they offer a collagen supplement as well as a hyaluronic acid one, all of which come in liquid format. I've been trying the 10x Hyaluronic Molecule supplement - you take two teaspoons per day, either neat or added in to a juice or smoothie if you don't like the taste. They advise you not to mix it with dairy products as this can stop the absorption. Hyaluronic Acid helps the skin to stay plump and hydrated (it can hold 1000 times its own weight in water) and is often applied externally, so an internal product is quite an interesting concept. I can't say that I've noticed a huge difference, but my skin has felt less dehydrated over the last few weeks, so I'm hoping it's down to this!

Probiotics are amazing if you have any sort of tummy troubles or bloating and I absolutely love Optibac's Daily Immunity blend. It combines a boost of vitamin C with all the good bacteria, giving the immune system a boost at the same time as your gut. My mum suffers with IBS, so I'm going to get her some of these to see if it can help - I've noticed a big difference in bloating since taking these and I'll be buying another pot very soon.

Sond's Energising Mineral Supplements are part of their wider skincare range, which is all targeted at those who have very sensitive skin, I've asked a friend to test these out for me as she has been struggling with her skin for a while now and although it's early days, it seems to be having a good, calming effect. Their whole range is aimed at very sensitive skin and features silica as a key ingredient. The supplements target collagen production, hydration and are a natural anti-inflammatory. I'll be doing a full review on the skincare range very soon, so I'll link up to that once it goes live.

No matter how much I change up the rest of my routine, an omega oil supplement is part of my daily routine. I love Udo's Choice as you have the choice of capsule's or the raw oil, which can be added into salad dressings or swallowed neat if you're braver than me (it's not that strong a taste, just feels odd swallowing up oil!). It's also one of the few that isn't fish based, so is suitable for vegetarians (the capsules aren't, but the loose oil is).

Are you a fan of supplements? What do you take as part of your daily routine?

*contains PR samples


L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay Collection

L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay Masque, Shampoo, Conditioner review
We put our hair through a lot these days, whether it’s daily heat styling, a love for dry shampoo or a colour change every month. I’m always on the hunt for products to help me look after my scalp and leave me with lovely soft, shiny locks that don’t need washing every day.  L’Oreal’s new Extraordinary Clay range has been created for what I like to think of as ‘combination hair’ – oily roots and dry ends. It can be tricky to balance out the two without oversaturating the root or leaving your ends feeling dry, but they’ve managed to do a great job with this purse-friendly new range.

The hero product has to be the Pre-Shampoo Clay Masque, which is designed to be used once or twice a week on dry hair. Massage plenty of the mask into the roots using your fingers prior to shampooing and leave on for up to 5 minutes. The clay helps to balance out any oiliness and also works really well at removing any product build up that might be weighing the hair down. Application can get a little messy if you’re not careful (the product itself is blue/green!), so take your time and apply in small sections around the head.

I was really impressed with how refreshed my roots and scalp felt after using the masque; especially as they didn’t feel as though they had been totally stripped and dried out. That feeling lasted for a good 48 hours and I was able to wake up on the second day and not reach for my trusty can of dry shampoo, which is virtually unheard of.

To help prolong the effect, you can also use the matching Re-balancing Shampoo and Conditioner which help to keep that fresh feeling for longer by balancing out the oil at the scalp and moisturising the drier ends. I’m not a huge fan of the shampoo as I try to avoid sulfate-based ones (they irritate my scalp), but the conditioner manages to be nice and light, yet really hydrating and won’t weigh down finer hair at the roots. If you have very colour processed hair, then I’d recommend adding in a weekly hydration treatment as I’m not sure this will be moisturising enough for you, but for uncoloured/unbleached hair it’ll work a treat.

The Extraordinary Clay collection is available at Boots and Superdrug with prices starting at £2.89.

*contains PR samples


YOU NEED THIS: Burberry Runway Palette Spring 2016 - 01 White

Burberry Spring 2016 Runway illuminator palette review
Burberry Spring 2016 Runway illuminator palette review
Burberry Spring 2016 Runway illuminator palette review
Burberry's spring runway palette is an absolute beaut. I can't lie when I tell you that it really pained me to swatch this bad boy - the embossed design is just so lovely!

The runway palette forms part of their limited edition Velvet & Lace collection, which has all been inspired by their spring/summer womenswear launches. It's a small but perfectly formed collection, with two illuminating powders, a black cherry polish and a nude gold cream eye shadow.

The stars of the show definitely have to be the illuminating powders, not just for the stunning lace design embossed on the surface but also for the amazing ethereal glow they manage to give the skin.

I've been testing out the White 01 shade which works perfectly on cool skin tones, but there's also a gold version which I think would be great for anyone with a deeper or warmer tone to their skin.

The white shade is a step away from my usual highlighter shades and I was worried it might be quite harsh, but it gives a really wonderful glow to the skin. It's also not at all glittery - it's got a definite sheen to it but none of that typical sparkle that you often find with very light highlighters. It also lasts incredibly well on the skin - I applied mine at 7am and was still very happy with the finish at 8pm, despite the fact my foundation had gone a bit patchy underneath. 

Although it might be a bit of a luxe purchase, I always feel that Burberry's packaging really helps you feel like you're making a good investment. The silver-toned palette is very sturdy, with a magnetic clasp to ensure it stays closed in your makeup bag. They also include a mini brush (average) and a velvet pouch to help protect it while you're on the go; I have to admit though, this one will be staying firmly in my collector's item drawer for the forseeable future! 

As you'd expect, these are limited edition palettes so grab one asap while stocks last. You can find them via the Burberry website and on selected Burberry counters worldwide, priced £45.

*contains PR samples
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