Friday, 12 February 2016

Current Essential Beauty Favourites


Today brings a round-up of beauty favourites that I've tried, tested and firmly added to my list of essentials.

These are all products that have been added to my collection in recent weeks, that I've used long enough to give my full seal of approval.

So rather than a typical review, rest assured that all the products featured below come with a huge recommendation from yours truly. Read on to find out why!




Urban Decay - B6 Vitamin-infused Prep Spray*

This is a product I would have been unlikely to buy for myself or, to be totally honest, even consider as something I might need/want. I am so glad that this has been introduced into my regime!

This spray is designed to be lightly spritzed over the face before moisturiser or makeup and preps the skin with a hit of B6.

I find that this spray instantly makes my makeup application look better - it minimises pores and evens out my complexion; I'm usually prone to a bit of redness around my nose and cheeks. In the long run, I've found that using this regularly has reduced blemishes, improved dryness in my skin whilst balancing oilier areas plus, it's a great pick-me-up in the morning and gives a fresh feeling for the day ahead!

Urban Decay - Naked Skin Beauty Balm (BB)*

We're all familiar with the concept of BB creams now - a lighter, skin-perfecting alternative to foundation - though I actually love to wear this UD one underneath my makeup base. I have this product in Medium which is a bit too dark for me to wear on its own (I've heard that UD have stopped doing the Light and Dark shades, does anyone know if that's true?) but I find this product fantastic in place of a primer.

The tone of the product gives a nice glow under my base and it's great at blurring imperfections across the areas of my face with most blemishes like my chin and forehead. I find that some BB creams can feel a little greasy or watery but this one is oil-free and has a lovely velvety texture.


Pixi - Glow Tonic

Pixi's Glow Tonic has become a bit of a cult product and is one I've wanted to try for ages. This product acts like a toner, to be swept over the skin with a cotton pad for a deeper level of cleansing as well as toning and exfoliating.

I bought this to replace my Clinique 'step 2' Clarifying Lotion, which I've always found a bit harsh as it has a high alcohol content. Glow Tonic is very different in terms of the ingredients, with no alcohol and containing naturally beneficial elements like aloe and witch hazel, as well as glycolic acid which has amazing cleansing and renewing properties.

This stuff has improved my blemishes, faded scars, balanced my skin and overall, makes me look more radiant. I genuinely can't recommend this product enough!

Lord & Berry - 2Phases Waterproof Makeup Remover*

This product is a 'duo formula' remover, containing two 'phases' that need to be shaken together to combine the liquids for maximum makeup removing results. I've tried a couple of removers like this before (a Garnier and Nivea one to memory) but this is without doubt the best I've tried.

This formula quickly, easily and gently removes tough makeup, including waterproof mascara. The main gripe I have with these kind of cleansers is that one part is usually very oily and even when well-shaken, it leaves quite a greasy residue on the skin. I'm pleased to report that Lord & Berry's feels light and completely non-oily.

Containing natural extracts and with added benefits like moisturising, soothing and and refreshing properties, what's not to love?


Urban Decay - Naked: Flushed*

I love this palette. Containing a bronzer, highlighter and blush powder, this is the perfect mini collection of products for your cheeks.

I'm a bit of a contour novice and though I love the effect, it can be pretty time-consuming to create a full contoured look; in steps UD's Flushed palette. This is brilliant for a quick and easy everyday look. With just this one small palette, you can apply a soft contour under your cheekbones with the bronzer, a pop of colour to the apples of your cheeks with the blush and sweep the illuminating highlighter over the top to finish the look.

The three powders all have a slight shimmer to them which gives a really glowy look.

bareMinerals - bareSkin Perfecting Veil

The search is over; this finishing powder is the best I've ever tried - and I've tried many.

Firstly the packaging is great. It's got a mirror (check) and the powder pan also lifts up to reveal a compartment where the puff is stored - a much better alternative to it sitting in the powder permanently.

This powder is not only light, it seamlessly blurs imperfections with light-reflecting particles. I always feel good about putting bareMinerals products on my skin; this powder contains vitamin C to brighten and a special blend of minerals to absorb excess oil.


Urban Decay - Naked Basics*

The Urban Decay Naked range of eyeshadow palettes have full on cult status in the beauty world, though they come with price tag to match their sought-after reputation. The Basics palettes are a great introduction to the range at a lower price point. These condensed versions contain essential shades from the larger palettes and are ideal for creating neautral eye looks or the base to pair with bolder colours from your collection.

The shadows in the original Naked Basics palette are matte and highly pigmented for creating nude daytime looks or neutral yet bold eyes for the evening using the darker shades.

Blendable and longlasting, this palette has become an everyday essential.

Urban Decay - Eye Shadow Primer Potion (Original)*

Firstly, the packaging of this primer is dreamy, I love the characteristic purple branding and the jewel-esque lid. This product is pretty self-explanatory, it primes your eyes for shadow application.

Whether or not you think you need a primer like this, the results speak for themselves. UD's Primer Potion ensures smooth, crease-free shadow application and in one simple step, evens out the skin on the lid.

I like to use this with my UD X Gwen Stefani palette and it definitely ensures that the colour lasts all day.


Urban Decay - Subversion Lash Primer*

Another product that I probably wouldn't have thought to try out but now that it's in my collection, I love it. It's not actually something I use everyday, but more of an extra step I opt for if I'm going somewhere special.

Applying this primer to your lashes thickens them and gives your mascara 'something to hold on to'. It looks a little scary when applied as the formula is bright white, however once you've coated it well in glossy black mascara, you'll look like you're wearing falsies (in a good way).

Urban Decay - Brow Tamer Gel (Clear)*

An absolute beauty essential. Ashamedly, before this, I was using a gross gloopy clear mascara that was defintely a few years too old to finish my brows (I know, ew).

This flexible gel sets brows without feeling sticky or drying too stiff. The slim wand allows for precise application that lasts. Simply, great!


Lord & Berry - Timeless Lip Colour (Iconic)*

This liquid lip colour is the ultimate longlasting matte. This formula glides on like a gloss and quickly dries to an on-trend matte finish that lasts for ages!

Usually the combination of matte finish and longlasting would result in a drying formula that cracks easily and feels uncomfortable to wear - not Timeless! The unique formula contains neem oil, sesame oil and frankincense for a moisurising, comfortable liquid.

Iconic is a classic, bold yet muted red that I've been wearing so much recently. The longwear formula also comes off easily with a good remover, like the L&B one mentioned above!

Urban Decay - Matte Revolution Lipstick (Stark Naked)

Another matte lip formula (I'm definitely digging this finish right now) that succeeds in keeping the lips moisturised and comfortable. The Stark Naked shade is a perfect nude.

The creamy colour glides on well and lasts. This nude colour goes great with my other UD products from the Naked range, though I'd definitely like to try the bright Menace and Bittersweet shades next.

Are any of these products on your beauty essentials list? Or have you seen something you're eager to try?


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Style By Portobello Third Unboxing


So here we have the third and final instalment of my Style By Portobello unboxings!

I've really loved trying out these monthly subscription boxes. For just £35 a month, you receive two or three totally unique vintage accessories, handpicked from Portobello Road Market to suit your style, delivered straight to your door. 

This month, okay last month - you might gather that this post has been a bit delayed thanks to my rather funky Christmassy headscarf, I received two fab accessories. Let's get to the unboxing, below!

style by portobello vintage subscription box
style by portobello monthly accessories box
vintage navy bag and gold necklace
style by portobello vintage navy cut out bag
vintage gold necklace with stone
blogger vintage gold necklace
style by portobello vintage box blogger

Another great haul. I think the bag alone is worth the £35, it's in pristine condition for vintage. I'm not one to usually wear much navy but I'm looking forward to finding something I can style perfectly with it.

The necklace is my favourite piece though, I love it! It's so unusual; definitely not something you'd see on the high street. I like the quirky way that the pendent attaches to the chain and the turquoise stone is beaut!

I'll definitely miss getting my monthly vintage fix, though I'm going down to London in a couple of weeks and planning to hit the markets myself!


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Manchester Restaurant Review: Cabana


There's been so many new restaurants springing up in Manchester that I'm struggling to keep up; my 'must dine' list is becoming too long to comprehend.

One source of such new eateries is the recently renovated Corn Exchange - the grand old Edwardian building between Selfridges and the Printworks that you'd have been forgiven for bypassing prior to the big relaunch.

The focus for the Corn Exchange is definitely dining. With lots of new restaurants pitted around the grand central atrium inside, it's become a real hub for food and drink.

Itching to try some of the new restaurants there, I was delighted to be invited to test out Cabana, a laid back 'Brasilian Barbecue'-style venue.

Cabana Manchester Brasilian Barbecue
Manchester Corn Exchange Review
Cabana Brazilian Restaurant Review

Brazilian street party vibes are definitely the order of the day at Cabana. We visited in the evening and found that the dark interior lit up with eccentric neon signs and string lights gave the place a great ambiance, though admittedly we did feel a bit left out of the party being seated in the outer area of the restaurant - I'd definitely recommend waiting for a table inside!

We were promptly seen by friendly and helpful servers who were more than happy to offer their recommendations. We didn't need much time on the drinks after seeing that they served Sagres - a definite contender as one of our favourite lagers, much loved during quite possibly our favourite holiday to Portugal a few years ago.

Cabana Brazilian Manchester Street Food

On to the food. I decided to opt for Cabana's signature 'Malagueta Chicken', marinated chunks of chicken chargrilled with sweet peppers; I didn't regret my choice. The chicken was beautifully sticky and flavoursome, with a underlying spice which gave it just enough Brazilian kick.

Teamed with sweet potato fries (my favourite) and 'homeslaw', I also chose to supplement the dish with a side order of pitta from the streetfood/starter menu. Now this stuff is seriously good! The pitta was so pillowy and soft - if it wasn't made in house, it certainly fooled me. I wasn't sure what to expect of the chimichurri dip it came with but was pleasantly surprised. Really tasty with a distinct smokiness, it was the perfect soak for the hunks of pitta.

Chris decided on the rack of barbecue pork ribs, which were huge! The ribs would have easily been enough on their own, though come with a dish of the homeslaw too, and Chris also teamed them with a side of the cassava chips. Having never tried these before (neither had I), they were a bit of a gamble. We thought they were a bit lacking in seasoning but were great to dunk in Cabana's signature Malagueta sauce which was on the table, with the same great flavours as my chicken main.

Cabana Brazilian Manchester Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
Cabana Brazilian Raindrop Chocolate Nutella Doughnuts
Cabana Manchester Chocolate Cake Dessert

I have a huge sweet tooth so had been looking forward to the desserts all throughout the meal. We decided to get two different plates and share them. We went for the 'Nega Maluca' Brazilian chocolate cake and the 'Chocolate Raindrop' doughnuts. 

Warned that the doughnuts were very hot, we tucked into the cake - which was beautiful. With a rich chocolately taste and a dense, fudgey texture there was just enough here to happily share. The caramel sauce was an interesting but welcome accompaniment too.

The waiter wasn't kidding, the doughnuts were ridiculously hot! After learning my lesson the first time, we waited a little longer to tuck in. Once optimum temperature was reached, these were heaven. These fried doughnuts were filled with Nutella, with extra on the side for dipping. Washed down with Coconut 'Batida', made with cachaça and sweet condensed milk, my sweet tooth was satisfied. A perfect end to a tasty meal!

Cabana Restaurant Manchester Neon Sign Inside
Cabana Brazilian Restaurant Beer Sagres
Cabana Restaurant Manchester Corn Exchange inside

I'd definitely recommend Cabana for a tasty lunch while out shopping in Manchester or maybe a casual dinner date. I fell in love with all the interior finishing touches that give the restaurant wonderful personality. Next time I pop by I will head upstairs to the 'Caipirinha Bar' for sure, which has hammock seating!

Date night dressing can be tricky if it's just a casual affair and wearing a white shirt to a Brazilian Barbecue restaurant was definitely a risky decision but luckily I covered most of it with my super-versatile light waterfall blazer jacket from Luxemme.

My go-to evening piece of the moment, this is ideal for dressing up the simplest of outfits. Luxemme are one of the best sites I've found for higher-end looking high street.

Blogger Black Waterfall Jacket
Fashion Blogger Black Blazer

Star choker - ASOS
'K' Letter Chain - Vintage
White Shirt - Warehouse
Black Jacket - Luxemme*

 Have you got a fail-safe date night look?


Monday, 21 December 2015

#JLTAW15: Autumn/Winter Trends at John Lewis


I recently attended a great fashion show at my local John Lewis at Manchester's Trafford Centre.

We were treated to a glass of fizz and took our seats ready for the show. We were introduced to trends and seasonal looks chosen by the staff, presented with models of different ages with a new spin on how to wear the looks for each group.

A distinct 1970s style was present in many of the trend sets. Some of my favourite pieces were faux fur gilets, tops and dresses in shades of Wine, knee high suede boots and glam clutch bags - perfect for a Christmas party!

The local team did a brilliant job with the show and it was lovely to see real John Lewis ladies modelling! They even sent us home with a jam-packed goody bag. Some of my favourite products I found inside are below. I love the beautiful candle from Kew, subtly fragranced with citrus notes and the Burts Bees Almond Milk hand cream tester - which is so amazing that I'll definitely be ordering full size!

Admittedly, John Lewis is sometimes more of a walk-through store for me when visiting the Trafford Centre - but no more! The huge range of brands the store carries is staggering. I was surprised to find that JL stock some of my favourites like Kurt Geiger, French Connection, Miss Selfridge and All Saints.

I've put together a selection of my favourite current season pieces at JL, below.

John Lewis have been firmly in the limelight recently after launching their eagerly anticipated Christmas ad this year. I wasn't sure about it at first, it didn't seem to make much sense, though after I learned that the retailer teamed up with Age UK on the ad to raise awareness of the loneliness that elderly people often feel at this time of year, it gave it much more impact.

Love it or hate it, it's definitely been a talking point this year!

What's your favourite Christmas ad this year?


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Style By Portobello Second Unboxing


Today I've got the second unboxing of my monthly Style by Portobello vintage accessory subscription boxes!

So for those of you who don't know, I am testing out these £35 a month boxes of Portobello Road Market-sourced vintage goodies for three months as a style ambassador for the brand. You can learn more and see what I received last month in my earlier blog post.

So, let's get to the big reveal.

Seriously, wow! I think I love this month's contents more than the last.

I think the belt is my favourite piece. In black and gold, it's classic but also really unusual with the little figures adorning the full width of the belt. It's quite small but is perfect as a waist belt - I've already worn it several times and got loads of compliments.

I love a good vintage scarf and have amassed quite a collection over the years. Just my style; I'm always drawn to the ones with Versace-esque chain designs like this one. I think these kind of scarves are really versatile accessories - worn traditionally around the neck, as a headscarf or even around the handles of your bag as I've done, below. It's a really easy way to update a plain bag.

Faux fur patchwork gilet - River Island*
Jumper - Warehouse
Cord Disco Jeans - New Look
Chunky 70s style Suede Boots - Topshop
Bag - Vivienne Westwood
Vintage Scarf - Style By Portobello*

I mentioned that I bought the River Island faux fur gilet above with the voucher I got from the recent Premier Inn Shopping Event. I have such a ridiculous collection of faux fur coats that it was high time that I got myself a furry gilet too. I didn't think I'd get much wear out of this but it's already become a weekend essential.

What are your go-to pieces this season?

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