Is this blog title slightly click bait-y? Well considering when blogging first came about, we would use any manner of phrase or song lyric that had absolutely nothing to do with our 'content'. If we get back to basics, here are literally three products I re-purchased that I completely recommend and three that I will be gingerly using up and probably not revisiting! Do any of us have the time or funds to be buying products we begrudgingly squeeze, pump and scrape out with growing annoyance until that last satisfying drop when you know it's over - you have broken up with your cleanser/toner/lotion for good! Well I do not want to waste my pocket money so here is what a good £70 at The Body Shop looks like and what I rate or hate.
Drops of Youth Collection - This juicy range hasn't stopped delivering since I wrote about it last year and each product (minus the unnecessary Wonderblur) is such a heavy hitter. There's nothing faux luxurious here - it's all about hydration and freshness and bouncy, plump skin. It literally feeds my skin! The Body Shop does three products for around £50 in a bundle and you'll be sorted for a few months. You need to try this if you have 20-something dehydrated skin and live in a polluted city. It's like you've walked through a botanical forest after adding these to your routine. That Bouncy Sleeping Mask is incredible!
Vitamin E SPF 30 - I snapped up a few products in a 3 for 2 deal along with the unpictured Camomile Cleansing Oil (slightly greasy but a great price) as I NEED an SPF in my routine. I'm so naughty for not using one every day! This one is fine and OK and just 'good enough'. It smooths on like a thick milk and sticks around for a few too many minutes in the morning. I have to pile my foundation on top and it just ain't pretty. Lovely smell and texture but not for the heavy makeup wearer like myself. The hunt is still on for a great SPF!
Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet - I thought this could be a bargain replacement for the pricey Clinique Moisture Surge as it has suspiciously similar packaging, but my product was quite bitty and clumpy, as though the formula hadn't been mixed properly. The joys of Clinique MS is how is glides on smoothly, while this product felt stodgy. If it was whipped up a little further it could have been perfect. If I'm ever watching my pennies though, it could be a purse-friendly daily moisturiser.
Blue Corn Scrub Mask - I purchased this from Grand Central in Birmingham when I was having a terrible skin week. I needed something to dramatically drive all of the oil, impurities and stress from my skin and a heavy high-street mask generally works. However I never feel the need to strip my face too often and this has languished in my collection. I find adding a huge dose of moisture to misbehaving skin actually does better than to scrub everything away, but having a mask in your skincare arsenal is useful when a bit of old-school TLC is needed in the form of a magazine, 15 minutes relaxation, and scaring your housemates when you pop your head round their door.
It's September! And I've spent this Sunday indulging in AW16 and street style from Phil Oh at vogue.com. Before each season begins, I'll look back at the latest fashion weeks' attendees and take inspiration for the season to come. Here are those I've stashed, featuring mixed prints, utility, oversized or cropped fits and fuzzy fun. Bring it on!
Hello y'all! It's already been an interesting August and as I haven't had a holiday to look forward to, I've spent a few weeks dreaming towards V Festival. Bieber. RiRi. Sia. Little Mix. Um... hello ultimate fun! Probably one of the most tame festivals, this local beauty is only two days of music but offers massive (undercover) headphone discos each night and what feels like an older age range of folk probably heading to work on the Monday rather than school. I attended my first festival when I was 16 and we weren't actually allowed by our parents to camp there, which I'm quite glad about in hind sight! Aside from never fending for or feeding myself before then, I went on to hit up loads of festivals before starting University and then started returning once I was a working graduate who needed to spend a weekend completely away from running water, sleep and normal civilisation. Is it just an excuse to wear some teeny yet super cute co-ords? Maybe! It's like you're in a huge universe contained in one tiny bubble of sounds, views and vibes constantly stimulating your eyes and ears. Since planning my outfits, I've been revisiting my list of packing essentials saved from years gone by, and here are a few things you may not have considered packing but DEFINITELY need.
My ultimate item is a portable gas hair tong. Yes, they do portable straighteners too and they are pretty decent. Life. SAVER.
Guaranteed you'll be camped next to some super keen beans with a portable stove, trolley, perfectly arranged tent and loads of food. I only camp once a year so I tend to scale down on any food I take. I usually pack food for Day One only as any food I take to a festival, I tend to not use. Before you set off you could take anything you fancy as a packed lunch/dinner (I'll usually cook veggie burgers, sweet potato fries, pizza, etc, and wrap in foil) but for the following days, the only viable option is taking dried food like bread, crisps, etc, that really aren't appealing. You'll be craving proper, hearty, hot food as it could be days until your next main meal, and a cereal bar just won't cut it. There will be a stall for any and every cuisine you may fancy so if you can afford it, just eat on the go. You'll be in the arena all day too so are you going to want to be carrying food around in your backpack all day? The only thing I take is a LOT of sweets for energy hits.
Take a torch and before you leave your tent on the first day, tie it to the roof on the inside so when you return at midnight and it's pitch black, you're not fumbling around with your phone torch while trying to enter a damp tent covered in mud. Tie a bag to the porch of your tent too to keep rubbish (and wasps) out. Lots of plastic bags are handy to hold worn and muddy clothes. ALWAYS take wellies off before entering the tent - it should be a no mud zone! Before leaving your tent for the day, move everything to the middle so if the tent sides get wet, your things may stay dry.
Take a flag, balloon, stickers - anything to separate your tent from the rest as it truly is SO dark at night that finding your own tent is a very difficult task indeed.
This is not advice I condone but if you need to smuggle alcohol into an arena, take water pouches (like Caprisun pouches) as they are much more maleable to conceal than a hard plastic bottle. Don't forget a batch of plastic disposable cups too and straws if you are feeling flashy.
Ear plugs and an eye mask might feel really odd but you'll be way too tired to mind and they really will buy you a few more precious minutes of sleep before you get woken up by early birds playing music and cooking sausages at 7am, only separated from your face by a thin tent sheet. Once you're awake, you will not be able to go to sleep again so make it last!
When you do wake up, you'll have to make the sorry walk to an awful portaloo or to the tea/coffee van, probably ASAP, and just imagine thousands of hungover, sleep-deprived, unwashed people waking at the same time. Plan an outfit or suitable pyjamas that you know you can walk straight out of your tent in and stand in a 20 minute toilet queue clutching a loo roll. PJ bottoms and a hoodie should cover it - nothing that can drag on the floor. Take your usual cleanser too and take it off with a flannel or baby wipe dipped in water.
You might have your little brother's sleeping bag from his Scouts days packed but don't forget a pillow.
I learnt last year to take a proper mac as it's going to cover your outfit anyway, and those cheap colourful macs do ABSOLUTELY nothing when it rains. You will be soaking wet and clammy because they are in no way made for rain. Take a proper waterproof (I'm borrowing my brother's) and when the rain does stop, you can emerge pristine rather than sodden. A mac can also double up as something to sit on as the ground will be trashed and you will definitely be sitting at some points during the day.
Failing that, keep a bunch of hair ties in a memorable place and tie that hair back before the rain does any damage.
Try on outfits before you go, including accessories. Not having a mirror is really annoying and you want to trust in what you are putting on and feel super confident. Sense check what you will be wearing at home before you leave.
YES I am going on about outfits because everyone looks damn amazing at festivals. Unless you want to stand in an hour-long queue for those stands that do your hair and glitter, you need to turn your tent into beauty boudoir. The only way to feel half decent is to buy awesome outfits and go ALL out. Plan your makeup looks too as sitting in a field is not the time to try out a cool new eye look.
What is your day bag going to be? I'm trialling a bum bag this year but carrying a mac will mean a backpack may suit better.
This is top secret but if you look at the festival map of years gone by, you can choose a car park to aim for in advance. Instead of the stewards ushering you to the one that's a two mile trek away, we always continue into gold car park and we're literally parked up next to our tent. We can keep half of our belongings in the car until we need to refresh our supplies each morning, and if we have a tent leak again, we will be leaving our clothes in the car also. Take some cash too as they do charge you for parking - ew.
That's everything for now but please let me know if you have an amazing festival tip! Unfortunately the V forecast is rain but I'm really, REALLY hoping it is more of a brief shower than torrential downpours. Touch wood!
Hello! Last Friday was spent very differently to this week as I whizzed down to MTV Crashes Plymouth! I LOVE a festival or any music event really; what could be better than a huge mass of people totally in the zone and sharing the sunshine vibes! That feeling you get after any concert, gig or event is something you can’t replicate.
CrossCountry trains treated my bestie and myself to a trip to the south for a day in Plymouth as loads of artists crashed the town with MTV. I used to holiday in Weymouth a lot when I was a little kid and would sit in the shallows of the sea with my legs to the side pretending to be a mermaid! But heading to the nearby Plymouth for the first time couldn’t have been easier as the route is direct from Birmingham New Street. A few hours flew by as we traveled across beautiful coastline and had those essential hours to fill each other in with all of our latest gossip. My friends and I mostly will meet for Friday night drinks now but when we do, it has to be especially early to reserve a few hours for chatting.
I JUST passed my driving test (wahooooo, that’s another post!!) but there’s no reason to sit on the motorway for hours when you can hop on a train with snacks, magazines and mates and actually relax before reaching your destination! Last year we had a few mini city breaks to Sheffield and Leeds, and it’s the perfect treat when a summer holiday is way too far on the horizon, and you can reach cities across the country so easily. The CrossCountry network is the most extensive in Britain, stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance and from Stansted to Cardiff, calling at over 100 stations, and we are so lucky to live in a country with so many easily accessible cities and landmarks just waiting to be checked out.
After an incredibly smooth journey peppered with multiple cups of tea and biscuits, we pulled into Plymouth Station and strolled across to our hotel to freshen up and decide on our outfits. I had to bring about 200 options and we chose really casual looks in the end as the festival was so central in the town and we didn’t want to go overboard with glitter, feathers and flowers!
Plymouth is a beautiful mix of cobbled streets and a thriving port with a classic British seaside vibe. I had a birthday voucher for Pizza Express so we stopped off for dinner before heading across to Plymouth Hoe to a HUGE crowd against the shore. It was a festival stage of epic proportions and one of the most excited and happy vibes of any music event I’ve been to, especially as the weather held off and it was a warm summer night. We grabbed a Pimms and partied with Afro Jack, Sub Focus and Example, featuring laser shows, smoke and mega beats. The shows were blended by independent DJs from Plymouth so it was literally one long, non-stop party all night!
Feeling hyped and happy, we went onto a local bar called The Dairy that served cocktails in milk bottles before heading back to our welcoming hotel beds! The next day we browsed the port again before leisurely hopping back on the train and chilling to the max all the way home.
Thank you to CrossCountry trains from us both! For students or about-to-be students, a 16-25 Railcard can get discounts of up to 1/3 on most adult Standard and First Class rail fares AND you can also get an exclusive 10% off CrossCountry Advance tickets with your NUS extra, or Apprentice extra card. Follow their student Facebook page here!
GOSH it's hot! I'm writing this lying stretched out on my bed in the most awkward style but it's extreme weather in the UK right now and I can't find a way to sit and type that doesn't feel like I'm wearing the air as a blanket. But hey, summer is here and sadly I don't have a tropical holiday on the horizon! Maybe this will change but my friends and I always prefer to discover another city rather than sit by a pool. I'm not sure you could look forward to a week of lounging as you can with a week of discoveries, but I probably need to widen my beach destination list. I need to feel like I've accomplished something when I have time off work and I figure I can sit on a sunbed when I'm older. I guess I'm not a sun worshipper!
My holiday to Dubai in November wasn't all it was cracked up to be and was mega pricey, so we'd waited a while to book another break. I'd heard the getaway idea of spending a few days in Paris and a few days in Bordeaux, and we looked at switching that up to Paris plus the south of France. This would have been even more costly than two separate holidays so we booked off 6 days to spend in Paris! I've been to Marseille with my friends in a hilariously impulsive trip that cost just £20 to fly and it ended up being truly awesome and effortless, so Paris was the city to ticket off next. My friend is a huge Mumford and Sons fan and they were touring there at the time we wanted to go.
So Paris it was! And it was also a New York reunion for myself and two of my friends who are always up for an adventure; our aim is to be as social as possible. I had my sights set on seeing some beautiful landmarks, mixing with the ‘locals’ and drafting ourselves into the coolest circles and hotspots.
The flights from Birmingham airport are easy peasy as you’re at Charles De Gaulle in little over an hour and we lazily took an Uber to our (Booking.com) apartment; it worked out pretty much the same cost as train and metro travel into central Paris, and we all had large suitcases for the six days rather than our usual overloaded 10kg hand luggage allowance that we always abuse. We picked the central 14th arr. which had a host of local restaurants and supermarkets nearby, but we did end up getting Ubers and the metro during the day and night towards the centre of the city. I’d aim to stay as close to the Seine as possible to be the most central to the night life!
Our apartment absolutely blew us away as we were welcomed in by the owner, Bertrand. This flat was a work of art itself, with incredible 19th century furniture, hundreds of guide books on Paris culture and sights, and actual art and sculptures with their own spotlights. We charmed our way through his meticulous tour of the flat, “this is the kettle”… *extensive how-to lesson*… “this is the cleaning cupboard”… *extensive description of all items*... and he kindly left us with a bottle of champagne and a beautiful cake! What a delight. A hotel is great if you want the upkeep of new towels and a tidy each day, but an apartment crucially gave us the freedom to buy supermarket food to save on eating out constantly, and have some chill time rather than be cramped into one space. We had a hotel in New York but an apartment really worked in Paris as we did spend a fair time eating and getting ready there each days.
After a day of travelling, we browsed the local area with Bertrand’s handy custom maps and recommendations, and tucked into some fair French food with a slight touristy edge. Finding great restaurants is still not my forte as I’m not the biggest foodie but it does pain me to pay top dollar for dull food from a laminated menu full of photos. I was very torn on what to do that evening but one of my friends and I decided to head to a bar just for a few drinks as to not waste our first night, and I literally wore my matching leggings and lace up khaki set that I’d worn on the plane and just topped up my lipstick!
In the run up to travelling, I was actually the most chilled out I've been for any holiday. I had just changed my job a few weeks before and we unfortunately had a furry visitor under our floorboard at home, so I was too wrapped up and stressed about other things to spend my usual weeks leading up to a holiday knee deep in online guides and top 10 listicles. I did manage to collect a selection of bar and club descriptions, though this is an extremely hard task as there’s so much dated information online and a description of a club is so subjective. I’d managed to collect a list of decent-sounding bars and clubs though I annoyingly can’t remember the one we headed off to, which was a tiny dark hole in the wall with a basement cove of open brick-work packed with people dancing to a live band, and a bar circled with the most attractive French hipsters. It was all beards, long hair and smouldering looks, and after ordering two gin doubles that came to around 40 euros, we were slightly apprehensive this would be an EXPENSIVE holiday! A band of older dudes joined the first band on the tiny stage and they encored to the crowd’s delight, and we had a giggling gossip before heading home around 1am as we had to be up and out the next morning for DISNEYLAND!
Now I’m not the hugest Disney film fan as I’m not particularly into cartoon films but obviously I appreciate Disney, the magic and a great chance to be entertained. We chose an off-peak day and the tickets for both parks were under £40 each, and we took a train from Paris straight there easily. I’m hilariously scared of rides and my friends had to coax me onto even the child-friendly ones, but we soon learnt that some queues were not worth waiting in as we spent way too long in the Toy Story area. We had a fast pass but didn’t realise you had to queue up at the start of the day to each separate ride and collect a timed ticket, and by the time we tried to go straight into Ratatouille, the fast pass ticket times were all sold out – oops! We queued up anyway for the top rides so next was the Finding Nemo rollercoaster which was actually super scary, and some 15 year old French girls in the queue were totally making fun of us behind as we waited which made for some hilarious commentary for our friends back at home when we sent an SOS Whatsapp message that we were being bullied by teenagers.
After circling some more rides on the leaflet map and making a rough order of the day, we headed back to Ratatouille and skipped the massive main queue to get straight on in the ‘single riders’ queue. If you don’t have kids that have to be with you at all times, I’d recommend taking this queue as generally you are in the same set of carriages or cars as your friends, and most experiential rides don’t need you to be next to your mates as you aren’t exactly having a chit chat during them! That 3D experience was completely awesome, and I think we then went off for some lunch at Annettes, where I lived my dream of being at a restaurant with servers on rollerskates! We made a slight error in queuing up for ages for the Armagedon ride that just made loads of little kids cry, and the Tower of Terror was absolutely the scariest thing I’ve ever been on! Especially when my friend were secretly touching my hair and I thought it was part of the ride.
A few rides were shut for maintenance but we completed them all and then headed to Disneyland Park for the 5.30pm parade. At 5pm there were spaces along the street but after we grabbed a drink, the pavements were lined with families and it was harder to get a great spot. I’m gutted Ariel wasn’t in the parade but it was a delight to see all of the characters and dancers! I assume the parade is the time when lots of families call it a day as this park was open until 10pm and there were hardly any ride queues from there on in. We worked out way around Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast, It’s a Small World and every ride that was open that day, although I was too chicken to go on Space Mountain! Soon it really was late and we had to head all the way back home, make a supermarket stop for dinner, and get set for a night out.
Another ingenious thing I did was to put in my Tinder profile that I was in Paris for a week and needed nightlife recommendations, and then swipe right for the first 100 guys that popped up. Dodging the many ‘I recommend you hang out with ME’ messages, most people did send over some great suggestions and we chose the hilariously named Le Titty Twister as our destination. We heard it was a rock club but as we stepped out the Uber, we didn’t realised it would be a roped off entrance reminiscent of New York. The door lady surrounded by bouncers asked if we were on 'the list', to which my friend replied yes and improvised with a random name, and we were let into the dark, swanky space themed on Tarantino film and playing hip hop and trap music all night. This wasn’t quite what my friends had in mind but it was more up my street, though we didn’t stay too long as it was rather pretentious and we weren’t feeling that for a Thursday night. We spoke to a few 'business owners' but whether they were real or phoney will remain a mystery!
Plus the next day we were out and about in Paris as we’d bought the Paris Pass. We didn’t end up visiting all of the sights we’d hoped but it’s always useful to prebook as much as you can before heading somewhere so it’s as easy breezy as possible to get up and GO. We headed straight for the Louvre of course and browsed around the galleries before scoping the Mona Lisa, which has apparently been subject to theft, an acid attack and a fire?! She is one rad babe.
We explored Notre Dame and had some massive omelettes by the Seine, and paid a pilgrimage to Sephora before passing some hotties in the street and getting another recommendation for the best parties. The weather was beaut that day and we took a final walk to the impressive Panthéon for a browse before heading off home and getting set for that night. As it was Friday we hit a cocktail bar first in a cool side street packed with after-work drinkers, and got an Uber to Wanderlust. The queue was absolutely massive and about five people thick, snaking all the way down the road, but we confidentially walked straight to the front and basically just asked to come in. At first the bouncers looked bemused and grabbed a guy that could speak English, and we literally just said we need to come straight in while trying to look like we were ‘somebodies’ in an aloof, prestige sort of fashion, and somehow we just casually strolled in. I don’t quite know how we do it but you just need to walk straight in without a bouncer saying yes or no, giving the air that you are meant to be there! My one friend also casually walked straight past the 18euro entrance desk and we were on the huge rooftop party dancing all night and meeting Insta-famous body builders apparently.
Satisfied but a little delicate, we awoke to Bertrand’s alarm clock of a sublime classical music CD and headed on the train to the Palace of Versailles on the boiling hot Saturday. We spent most of the time walking and queuing, and saw little of the Palace after we discovered despite our entrance pass, visiting the gardens was a further 10 euros. 10 euros for open air seemed a little mean and we continued around the grand palace before travelling back to central Paris and not visiting Opera in time. We still had a few hours before we needed to head back to get set for the night out so we hopped on the nearby open top bus tour and chundered round the sites in a bus that really felt like it would topple over at any point! The extended tour did start lulling us to sleep and we soon hopped off and onto the metro home, refreshing ourselves for another night out at the Moulin Rouge club, La Machine. After our recent experiences of club entry, we mentally prepared ourselves to encounter some super strict bouncers, but this club seemed to be super casual and it was a night called Chronologic, where each hour played music from the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and then the ‘00s in order - of course! We walked in at the end of the ‘60s era to a swimming pool-style low dance floor surrounded by balconies, and a stage with super camp dancers and crowd invasions. On the hour there was a grand countdown and the next decade of tunes began. This place was absolutely awesome but IT WAS SO HOT. It was literally the temperature of a sauna and I managed only a few songs before having to go stand near the entrance and popping back in to instantly hit a wall of heat. Next time I would wear something dark and super loose, and NOT wear your hair down! It was such a party but really impossible to stay very long - it was honestly a million degrees!
The next day we had our Mumford and Son’s gig in the evening so we attempted to book a wine tour but instead went on a boat tour down the Seine, which I wouldn’t really recommend unless it’s a sunny day and you can sit on the boat roof. We were so low down in the boat that you couldn’t see any sights over the river walls anyway and listening to a telephone spiel of the commentary was annoying so we just chatted and face swapped instead! I’d choose the bus tour over a boat tour any day.
We grabbed dinner and got back to the apartment just in time to get ready again and take an expensive taxi to the Zennith arena at the edge of Paris. The arena was quite small so it was an intimate-enough gig, and though I’m not a huge M&Ss fan it was a great show. We met some French hippies and a few English guys and hung out before it was home time in a giant shared Uber.
And then it was our last day! Which was actually rather lovely as we got up slowly and packed, realised one of Bertrand’s DVD collection was a film we had been talking about all holiday, and went back into central Paris to have a meal at the cutest, most authentic French restaurant that was truly delicious and opposite Laduree. We strolled down the Seine until sundown and grabbed snacks for an evening of Saved the Last Dance in our cool apartment, before our early flight the next morning.
As I hadn’t been away or taken a break from work for for 6 months, and I’m lucky enough to usually go on a short break with my friends every few months for the past few years, it was SO a few days away that I really needed and I came back feeling refreshed and motivated. It was the perfect mix of action and chill, and my camera was playing up so I didn’t concern myself with documenting the holiday too much. I did get a few shots for the vlog below but there was no full video this time!
We're thinking about a late September break that is relaxing and laid back with just a few cheeky local bars and a whole lotta sea and sand - can you recommend anywhere? We are considering Venice!
Hi guys! I have a cheeky treat for you and myself to brighten up the beginning of our week! Myself, my squad and six of you lovelies will be hitting MTV Crashes Plymouth on Plymouth Hoe this month! I won’t be cramping your style – I have two VIP tickets to give away to you courtesy of CrossCountry trains! There are only 150 VIP tickets available each day and two of those babies could be yours. With the natural harbour backdrop, you could party with Example, Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Afro Jack, Subfocus and more – and when I say party with, I do actually mean there is a chance you could definitely score a selfie with some of those acts when you’re schmoozing in VIP on the Friday.
I am from landlocked Birmingham in the centre of the Midlands but I’m hopping on a CrossCountry train directly there, easily whisking me away to the scenic coast. Along with the VIP tickets - which include exclusive access to mingle with celebs and artists in the VIP area, a cash bar, a buffet (no burger van for you my friend!) and a welcome drink – plus a VIP lanyard to flaunt around in your snaps, I also have four standard event tickets up my sleeve for two runners up to bag. The CrossCountry network is the most extensive in Britain so Plymouth is in reaching distance, and don’t forget your 16-25 railcard (mine has officially ran out, SOB) and 10% off with NUS Extra. Simply enter below for a chance to win the VIP or standard tickets for Friday 29th.
Terms and conditions. The prize doesn’t include travel to or from the event. Please note there are age restrictions for each day.Three winners will be chosen at random and tickets cannot be exchanged for monetary value.
Call me a genius or call me cheeky but I recently had a brilliant idea! I could do with buying a few new work outfits and I really need an awesome new bag but I have no idea what to buy! I had a quick browse in the shops a week ago and was SO overwhelmed with the sales, especially in Zara where it seemed the entire store was on offer. Woah! But really we only have a few weeks left before AW16 takes over so there's no value in investing in trends of the moment, and we don't have long to wear summery things! I have my festival outfits just about sorted but I'd rather save my money now and wait to buy things I can wear for the next 6 months...
The September magazine issues usually give an overview of upcoming trends so you can scope out the first autumn drops right away, and fashion week in September is the perfect time to scout street style from editors and bloggers. I've browsed catwalk trends but by the time they hit the highstreet, they've been moulded and shaped into something much more wearable. I want to know now! So I had the brainwave of stalking the #AW16 hashtags on Instagram and thanks to the lovely people that managed to attended the press days and also the in-house designers behind the ranges, I've grabbed a few snaps of the upcoming collections! And let's start with River Island because they seem to channel trends in the most wearable yet desirable styles, and unlike Topshop, you don't see someone in the same outfit at every turn. The quality is top notch too.
Now I can't WAIT until autumn! There are so many things I love below, from the continuation of this season's retro patch trend into bright embroidery of florals and slogans. I'm definitely going to invest in more denim and upgrade to a pair of seriously statement ankle boots. I fancy taking my bomber jackets of this season and learning how to embroider a slogan onto the back or customise with the perfect patches, and I'm SO drawn to that pink puffa coat!
Hello lovers. I've been debating what to post from my long list of news but first on my memory card was a few new skincare updates since my last venture and ode to Caroline Hirons. After those new found favourites ran out, I dabbled in a few replacements that I already had in my stash and tried to stretch out the time until I had to spend another three figure sum on lotions and potions. This is what I've been using recently and some lived up to their former skincare stars, while others just weren't worth the purchase. Maybe you can help me use them more effectively though! I've been trying to keep on top of my routine but when I'm feeling lazy, I sure notice it in the morning.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ - I and every other blogger has waxed lyrically about this moisturiser that actually unclogs your skin rather than lashing on layers. I use it whenever I have a breakout, which usually comes as a patch rather than one odd spot. This literally cools and clears overnight; I wish it was around while I was a teenager. It's always useful to have in your arsenal. I can't say I've noticed the '[+]' correct any marks, but my spots don't tend to leave marks.
Clinique All About Eyes - I think I had this with a free set or a Christmas gift but this really is a universally good eye cream. Lightly whipped and inoffensive, this settles calmly and restores moisture in the most delicate area of your face. If you're stuck of what to buy and don't want to go too heavy, you won't be disappointed.
MERUMAYA Everything Everywhere Beauty Oil - Despite rave reviews, this feels sticky and heavy on my face, and doesn't seem to absorb. I've tried patting it in and using a teeny amount of product but my skin refuses to 'drink' this! Is there another way I could try? If not I will add it to my hair and body routine!
Niod Photography Fluid - This was a complete impulse after noticing the insane reviews. It apparently anoints you with a beautiful glow under any foundation and gives a flawless selfie result that has lasting power, and some even ditched foundation. I felt it did help me get that glow on but a little goes a long way and it's easy to get a ghost face that looks like you've filmed the highlight challenge. After mixing a drop with MAC Pro-Longwear foundation, it is quite a shock to see the new sheen. The jury is out on this one - I need to experiment and test out different foundations. Also the packaging is absolute pants and the stuff gloops out the bottle when you pull out the pipette, which decants such a tiny drop that you need to keep plunging it back into the mess to get any more. Plus it's glass so this product is no travel companion.
Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Facial Serum - I bought this ages ago and hated it, but Caroline Hiron's praise intrigued me again. I STILL don't get it. It's such a clinical, uninspiring tube and consistency that I take no pleasure in applying it and see no visible results. Possibly I need to persevere and look for long-term results?
Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturiser - This is so popular and I feel like that's more about the decent price point as I saw no benefits to any other light cream moisturiser apart from the smell that made me feel slightly queasy every morning. I couldn't wait to finish it! It did not give any hydration benefits. Boo.
Eve Lom Morning Time Cleanser - This was an awesome freebie from Look Fantastic (among many others) and I was keen to try the Eve Lom hype. Much stiffer than Clinique TTDO, it took a while to warm up and while wouldn't get down to dissolving the day's makeup, as the morning cleanser it is enough to lift any over-night grease or grim for a quick refresh from your head being slapped to your pillow for 8 (or 6) hours. Lovely, but I wouldn't fork out for this.
Last Saturday I attended a day of pop up fashion at New Square! I took my vlogging camera to showcase the shows across the day, with models dancing and performing in latest collections from New Square stores including Outfit Fashion (aka Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge), JD, Next and more.
I haven't vlogged in a little while so I was set with my camera in hand to capture all of the day's activities, plus get some tips from the on-hand stylist Jill on what I should be stocking up on. She also had bagfuls of vouchers to hand out to the unsuspecting audience and it was like Christmas had come again!
My favourite outfits were the CUTE denim pinafore and tee from Dorothy Perkins and a bronze Topshop bomber that I've eyed up in store many a time. Take a peek below!
HI! Hey! I'm here! Eeek I'm back on my blog, weird feelings all round! I've been away for a few reason and I'll go into these in another post but after a rocky few months, the first thing that I definitely want to select from my HUGE 'to post' blog topic list is when I had my hair done by Nicky Lazou!
You might already follow this balayage queen for not only the fun content but also her thumb-stopping before/after shots of 'before' hair looking brassy, frizzy and yellow next to some seriously luscious 'after' locks. I was scrolling one day and saw a girl comment that Nicky lives in Birmingham. Say what? Now this was around November time when I was about to head off to Dubai and was probably feeling super flush. I'd been blonde-ish for a while but the upkeep of highlights was putting a strain on my time and the quality of my hair, which I use heat on every day also when curling it or drying it. For the first time in around five years, I was considering going back to my ginger roots too! A big step, but if anyone could get me there, I hoped Nicky would.
Now be warned: I've probably never wrote a post so passionately about hair but Nicky has relit my fire! And I'm a hair girl through and through. Growing up it was what stood out most about me, and while this might have prompted some tormenting mostly by random people in the street (nice), if you have ginger hair, a lot of people will say nice things too. I've strayed from my colour and to tried new looks, but last year I kept noticing people with such beautiful red hair and it planted the seed to go back to natural.
After a few texts I'd booked my Nicky appointment and had an idea of prices. Warning: this ain't cheap, but I'll go into that later. I'm very much a person who doesn't spend without thought, but if I decide I really want something, I will find a means to achieve that purchase! I'm not impulsive but I'm not afraid to spend either, and I really wanted my hair to go right.
I had a few reservations but off I went to the nearby countryside on a Saturday morning, pulling up to the beautiful setting of Nicky's space. Along with helping hands from her family, there are a few large, chic basement rooms in Nicky's home where she works here magic. I assumed I would be the only client but there are a few girls there at a time, each at different stages of dying, toning or perfecting. It's a really welcoming vibe, with girly conversation and Drake in the air. And after being there a few minutes, I realised other girls has travelled from further than London!
First up is your consultation with Nicky, where I showed in a bunch of photos and discussed what my aim was - to take my top half to my natural colour and cascade blonde balayage through the middle and ends. As mentioned to most of the girls that arrived while I was there, on Instagram everyone thinks you can go from dark to light in one sitting, when in fact going from brown to blonde can take time, especially if you naturally have darker hair. Even I needed two sessions to take my colour as light as I wanted, and that's just because Nicky will not damage your hair, even if you want to pay the price for platinum. Even if you beg to go lighter than light, it won't happen. That was an over riding vibe you get from Nicky - she will not go down the road of treating you as an anonymous customer and delivering something that is going to ruin your hair down the line. She won't slap the bleach on and take you there! This was fine by me as I didn't mind having a second session in a few months if this one went well. Soon I was under foils and the process had begun!
Even though it isn't a salon experience, it's actually really chilled at Nicky's and you leave feeling relaxed and fantastic. She literally preaches the hair gospel as she works by revealing tips, tricks and science behind hair, and you really start to appreciate the art that goes into this. Nicky also has thick, dry, darker hair and so she knows the advice to give. It's really inspiring to hear her hair secrets and as you are getting the 'Nicky' treatment, it feels even more special! She explained how the dyes used for my hair were especially expensive and unique too as I requested a warm, golden, honey colour, whereas most blonde stay clear of anything warm or 'brassy'. I thought she had her work cut out for her really as you can see from my 'before' picture below!
As I was having my treatment, I saw the girls around me emerge with such incredible hair, literally seeing the transformation before my eyes! Soon my blow dry was complete and the change was insane! I have no idea how she took my all-over streaky hair to smooth on top and blonde on the ends?! And I'm a red head - these dyes are hard to come by. We've all seen the 'natural' red head box dyes in Superdrug that are bright orange or dark with a flash of red in certain lights. I was so pleased to have something unique again, though the colour was a touch darker than my natural hue. Nicky promised that the blonde ends would also brighten after washes, rather than going yellow after washes. I can confirm this is true; after the first few washes my blonde layers turned even more true and bright.
Nicky didn't even know I had a blog before visiting (this is not a prompted review - I paid full price!) and I cannot tell you how just lovely and open she is naturally, and so complimentary and sweet. She treats each customer like their hair is a precious jewel in her hands and the goal is always to do something that she knows is a beautiful style, as after all, it's her name attached.
I also returned a few months later to take my roots to my lightest, most natural colour, and the ends even more sun-kissed for spring. Nicky and her sister remembered me which I was so surprised about as they see so many girls, but the repeat customers do speak for themselves, and many girls while I were there had been multiple times. Her sister adds so much to the team too - she's just fabulous.
Now I have the colour of dreams! I have not touched it for months and never need to because it will just grow out - there are no roots! This is the beauty of balayage.
Are you considering visiting Nicky? First I would manage expectations and consider how many sessions you would need to get your desired colour. Consult a few salons and think about if it's money you won't regret, as it will set you back a few hundred pounds.
Balayage is all about the subtly, and we're so used to seeing a major contrast of hair colours that ombre gives, Keep in mind that balayage tricks the eye - the top and bottom colour are totally different yet the result is so seamless that most people will not be fixated on the transition, and may not even notice! But hair looks thicker, glossier, lighter, and full of body and warmth, without the brass. Nicky does it her way and I admire her for that because true authenticity can take you far.
It's not like a 5* hotel experience or a VIP day out when you visit Nicky - she's set up at home because people are willing to come to her from far and wide. Leaving with a perfect blow dry isn't the goal (although for the record, it's really lovely), it's the colour that should be your deciding factor.
If you want a 1;1 salon experience, this isn't it, but does it need to be? Nicky is clear in what is offered and if super light hair is your goal, you would either go a few times or leave with damaged hair in one trip that could be brassy and orange. There will be other girls there during the experience but it's because the demand is SO high. And this is Nicky's style; she's not a salon, she's a talented hairdresser who gets the work done. I'd happily skip the head massage, etc, as long as my hair is looking the best it can.
And being part of the 'Nicky club' is so cool. I feel like I've bought a designer bag - I could survive without one, but it just feels like it has that extra sparkle, even 6 months on. It really gave a confidence boost, not only from the results I was so pleased with but from the experience in general. Will I be back? Yes!