Reading List

I went shopping today after dropping my boyfriend off at the station. He's spending NYE in London while I stay with family in Manchester, so after saying goodbye, I consoled myself with a bit of retail therapy. Urban Outfitters was crazy busy, but I found a quiet spot and had a flick through some of the books, and decided on my style reading list for 2011.

All the images are courtesy of amazon.co.uk where you can buy both of these stylish tomes.

Face Hunter
The Sartorialist

I love nothing more than looking through style and design books on a rainy weekend, so I am really excited to receive these when I return to London in January!


Beauty: Christmas Gifts

I've really enjoyed seeing everyone's gorgeous Christmas presents this year, and thought I'd share a couple of my beauty gifts with you, one of which is so special that I was actually shaking when I tore off the wrapping paper to reveal a very unexpected surprise!

Firstly, I am super excited that my parents got me the lovely Estee Lauder Double Wear eye set. The cute little pouch contains a concealer, dual ended liner (one end is black, the other brown) and a Double Wear mascara. I'm obsessed with Double Wear eyeliner, but have tried neither the concealer nor the mascara, so I'm really looking forward to giving these a try. Saying that, the mascara will be alternated with another mascara, for reasons listed here!

Secondly, and the one I'm so excited about is something I never thought I'd see again. A few months ago, I wrote about how I managed to recreate my favourite perfume, the sadly discontinued Marc Jacobs Blush, by combining a couple of Sanctuary moisturisers. As lovely as this combination is, it's nowhere near as intense as the real thing, so you can imagine how stunned I was to unwrap this on Christmas morning...

My Mum scoured the globe and eventually uncovered a gift set with a stockist who had one solitary box left. That box turned out to be one of the most wonderful, thoughtful and precious gifts I've ever received. Thank you, Mum. Christmas is such a special time of year, and although it's nice to be indulged and to get lots of lovely treats, I would be content with this one box. It's so wonderful to receive a gift like this: one that shows the person buying it knows you inside out, and would go to such trouble to find the one thing that you thought you'd lost.
So, these are my favourite gifts; what were yours?
Finally, some happy news, and a little glimpse into my silly world. My dear friend and former flatmate Patrick got engaged over Christmas and I couldn't be happier for him. When we lived together, he fell for my beloved childhood teddy, and did a fabulous job of creating a rather decadent, delinquent personality for him. Anyway, when I heard Patrick's news, I couldn't help but get Pooch in on the act, and below is the aftermath of his private celebration, complete with Breakfast at Tiffany's fantasy, the cork of his champagne bottle, saved for good luck, and the obligatory Holly Golighty glasses. Congratulations, Pats! x


Beauty: Rimmel Lash Accelerator

Tomorrow I am heading straight for Boots and no amount of snow will deter me from my quest. What I thought was an average product has turned out to be an essential, and it seems I'm finding out the hard way. The mascara that promises lash retention really did work, as evidenced by the fact that I have a newly lost lash to wish on every day. Rimmel Lash Accelerator (LA), I'm sorry for abandoning you. I hope you'll come home with me tomorrow!

Two weeks ago, I ran out of LA mascara and, after not seeing a massive increase in the length of my lashes, I decided to return to Maybelline's The Falsies. Despite loving the long, glossy lashes is gives me, I've noticed that, every day, I'm losing at least one lash per face wash, and over the months of using Lash Accelerator, I noticed only a couple of lashes lost. I'm not saying none fell out, but I was certainly better at holding onto them!

I'd always expected that I'd end up a hostage to fortune after taking the plunge with a lash growth product, but with my lashes thinning to the ocular equivalent of Cheryl Cole's barnet pre-extensions, I am very happy for my ransom to go unpaid, and for Rimmel LA and I to live out our days together!
Have you tried a lash growth product and then gone back to a regular mascara? If so, what happened?


Lifestyle: The New Year Beauty and Style Honours

If you're anything like me, you're probably contemplating your new year's resolutions whilst surrounded by empty chocolate boxes and a half drunk glass of champagne. It's always so easy to decide these things when you have a good supply of sugar and alcohol on hand! The effort comes when we all go cold turkey on the 1st Jan! Ugh, don't mention turkey...

Anyway, I'm not talking about vowing to lose seven pounds, giving up chocolate forever and going to the gym nine times a week, but instead, those nice, achievable resolutions. The ones that involve nothing more taxing than, say, buying some fabulous new beauty products and letting them do all the hard work for you. So grab another box of chocolates, top up your wine glass, and make some simple resolutions with the help of my top picks from 2010.

If 2011 is your year for clear skin...

...then head over to Liz Earle. The fact that this brand is by far the most reviewed on my blog should give you an indication of just how much I love the range, and the skincare is without doubt best that I've ever used. Whether you have dry, oily or combination skin, Cleanse & Polish takes care all of your makeup removal and skin clearing needs, and the toner keeps everything perfectly balanced. I can't imagine my routine without C&P, and its my number one recommendation.

If 2011 is your year for fabulous hair....

...then hair oil is what you need. Shu Uemura Nourishing Hair Oil and Phyto Nectar are firm favourites, and MoroccanOil gets fantastic write ups, too. If you're on a budget, you can do a lot worse than a weekly treatment with good old olive oil, so there's really no excuse for dry tresses next year!

If 2011 is your year for style...

....then check out The Blonde Salad, Fashion Toast, Style Bubble and Park & Cube. Chiara, Rumi, Susie and Shini are by far the most stylish ladies on the blogging block, and there is always something inspirational on their regularly updated sites. The photography is fantastic, and their stunning styling is the perfect fashion fix for those of us who get a little tired of the same old images in the same old magazines.

If 2011 is your year for getting body beautiful...

...then Tracy Anderson is your girl. Her DVD is both utterly mind-boggling in its lack of explanation yet completely effective when you finally memorise it! Tracy's approach works your accessory muscles to pull everything nice and tight, leaving your muscles long, lean and feminine. Ignore the negative reviews (and subsequently, the burning in your thighs), and embrace her mat workout to get the beach body you've always wanted!

Hope that helps. What are your resolutions?
Image courtesy of solariasun.com

Style: Leather Shorts

After much procrastination this morning, I eventually decided to brave the sales, and boy, am I pleased that I did. Selfridges was completely packed, with people queuing for the Gucci and Chanel concessions, and I saw about 30 women jostling to grab what they could of the reduced YSL makeup. Deciding that I had neither the desire nor inclination to fight for lipstick or handbags, I headed upstairs where I stumbled upon the most wonderful and unexpected sale bargain I think I have ever found. A pair of black leather shorts from Theory.

Aren't they just the cutest? If you'd asked me this morning whether I'd be up for investing in a pair of leather shorts, it's highly likely I would've said 'no'. I've never looked in my wardrobe and thought, 'you know what's missing here? LEATHER SHORTS!' and yet here I am, the proud owner of the butteriest bum cover I've ever seen.

I also bought some fab skinny jeans from Goldsign which just fit so perfectly, that they may quickly become my go-to jeans brand. All in all, a very successful trip!

I've also made a decision about blogging in the new year. I spend so much time reading fashion blogs, shopping, and playing dress up, that I've decided I'm going to take the plunge and start including more fashion-related posts here. This means buying a new camera, and also convincing my boyfriend to photograph me (as well as learning to be confident in front of the camera) but its something I really want to try out. There will still be plenty of beauty posts, but I want to make this blog a true reflection of the things I love, hence the little move to a slightly more fashiony angle. Let's see what the new year brings, but I hope you'll enjoy what I come up with!

And if you've bought anything fabulous in the sales, it goes without saying that I want to hear ALL about your purchases! x


Style: Sale Shopping

Sale shopping. We plan the day with military precision, put on our comfy shoes and prepare for battle. Your style inspiration is selected, you vow to buy a few classic investment pieces and some solid basics. In your head, you will leave with armfuls of purchases that would have Emmanuelle Alt asking you for style tips. But rather than making those few classic buys, many of us walk away from the sales with clothes that make us look less like this...

...and more like something from the John Paul Gaultier World Traveller collection. Sorry JP: I just didn't get this one.

So, to avoid scary sale buys, here's my pick of what I'll be hoping to get my hands on come Boxing Day.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Percy bag, now £87.50 from £175

Marc Jacobs bags are such a great buy. The leather is fabulous, and the styles so classic and wearable. This was great value at £175, but at £87.50, it'd be rude not to.
Draw In Light dress, now £91.20 from £228, Liberty

I love this dress. So easy and chic, and perfect with a leather cuff, a cute jacket and some
fabulous chunky heels.
Manolo Blahnik shoes, now £220 from £440
Classic, gorgeous, perfect. I can't wait to get back to London after Christmas in the hope that there's a pair of these left in my size. Please, Santa...
1st image courtesy of jakandjil.com, 2nd from style.com and others from Liberty.


Style: 70s

Grab your disco shoes because we've come over a little bit 70s here at The Beauty Hall. As regular readers will know, I am always dreaming a season ahead, and this winter is no exception. As the snow lies thick and the cold wind blows outside, I have fast-forwarded six months and am contemplating my summer wardrobe purchases. I know, I know.

The blame for this seasonal prematurity lies very squarely at the feet of my long-time love of fashion. As the resort collections begin to filter into the shops and online retailers move from chic tailoring and gorgeous knits to wispy chiffons and colour pops, my mind is swiftly transported somewhere warmer. I guess that's fine as long as I don't take this summer style outside. Brrrr!

Having spent the evening scouring style.com, it seems that the catwalks have been awash with the glamorous vibe of the 70s: asymetric shoulders, billowing skirts, block colours and a bit of chic denim.

How amazing is this gorgeous asymetric number from Lanvin? I will definitely be recreating this look with a slightly more high street price tag (and I'll just have to hope that there's a wind machine poised ahead of me to get the 'swoosh' factor!)

Gorgeous Gucci. I love everything about this look. The beautiful burnished gold accents, the fabulous teal, and those incredible sleeves. Lust.

I completely love this cute weekend/holiday look from Gucci Resort. The thought of white trousers slightly terrifies me, but this is just so adorably chic that I'll be seeking something similar for my January city break to Palma. The heels may have to be slightly more practical for all the shopping, though!

It had to end on a beauty note, didn't it, and who better to epitomise that heady 70s glamour than the gorgeous Bianca Jagger? As beauty shots go, it doesn't get much better than this for me. The red lips, the smokey eyes, those perfect cheekbones, and the best brows in the business. J'adore.
Will you be rocking 70s glam next season?


Skincare: By Terry Baume De Rose Review

By Terry's Baume De Rose is one of those products that seems to come with its own gravitational force for lip product obsessees like me. Ever since Laura of lollipop26writes declared it her go-to balm, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I caved in and bought one myself.

And so it was that I wandered into a packed Space NK last weekend and chalked up my first By Terry purchase. My Mum was visiting for the weekend and, as we were both suffering a bit of winter lip chappage, we got home and dipped into the gorgeously luxe pot for our first rose-scented applications. The balm smells divine, is long wearing and adds a subtle lustre to lips. It is suitably slippery for the grease-addicted amongst us, but not in the least goopy: the perfect balance!

The next morning, we compared notes on the balm's overnight performance: the uncomfortable cracked corners of both our mouths were markedly improved, and Baume De Rose was declared a success.

A week on, and I'm about a fifth of the way through this pot, which is probably something close to reckless considering its £32 price tage. I'm disappointed to say that, despite numerous liberal applications both day and night, my lips still feel uncomfortably dry when I wake up in the morning, although I've happily bid farewell to the cracked corner of my mouth that was both painful and not particularly glamorous! Consequently, I will be returning to Burt's Bees for my daily staple lip balm, and By Terry will sit bedside for occassional use. It seems strange that it worked for me on a more extreme issue but that it doesn't provide enough comfort to be used on a daily basis, but I guess everything has its purpose! I'm not sure that I would rush to buy this again, as I think there are plenty of cheaper products that deliver equal if not better results for daily use. Sigh. I was really hoping this would be my perfect balm.

That means my search continues for the perfect everyday lip balm continues, and all recommendations will be gratefully received! So come on, ladies: what are you lip balm loves?


Skincare: Nubo Cell Dynamic Stimulating Moisturiser

Given that everything as far as the eye can see is sitting under a blanket of snow, I thought I'd get in on the act and sit under my favourite winter white blanket while I catch up on blogging. I managed to catch the last train out of London yesterday so I'm happily tucked up at my parents' house and feeling very relieved that I will be spending Christmas at home! I hope your plans aren't being disrupted by the cold weather.

So here I am, with an enormous pile of products in my eyeline to make sure I get through as much as humanly possible today!

First on my list is a bit of a luxury cream in the form of NuBo's Cell Dynamic Stimulating Moisturiser SPF 20. With it's £135 price tag, I had very high expectations, and I am pleased to say I'm not disappointed with the product. The packaging is beautiful, sleek and ever so slightly space age. Let's hand over to NuBo for the description:

NuBo Cell Dynamic is a critically acclaimed super-powerful complex which activates cells to rejuvenate your skin. The innovative energy recycling system tackles anti-ageing on two fronts – crucially focusing on both the causes as well as the visual external effects.
Traditional anti-ageing formulas force your skin to work over-time to generate collagen and elastin - ultimately producing damaging waste toxins and free radicals as bi-products. This results in a sluggish metabolic cycle and skin resumes its tired and aged look.

The unique NuBo Cell Dynamic patented formula goes beyond traditional anti-ageing approach. It re-invigorates your skin – not only fighting the damage caused by external free radicals but going much deeper too, inside skin-cells.

NuBo Cell Dynamic advanced energy-recycling technology eradicates blocking toxins and radically improves the metabolic cycle to clear a pathway for effective delivery of bio active boosters creating a cycle of a self-maintained rejuvenation.

Beyond all this, it's free of parabens, SLS, petrochemicals, colours and fragrance. All round, it sounds pretty good, doesn't it? And, you know, it really is. My skin looks instantly radiant when I apply it, and over the past five weeks, I have definitely seen a bit of an improvement in my skin. I say a bit, because I don't currently have any major skin ageing concerns, although at 28, it's definitely something that I want to keep on top of. Would I spend another £135 on buying this again? I really love it, but I think my skin is still a little too young to see drastic results, although I will definitely go back to this when I'm starting to see the first of the fine lines that I'm certain aren't too far away! Saying that, its plumping and firming qualities make me wonder how long I'll be able to resist purchasing when this bottle runs out, and I will certainly want to try other products in the range. This will be a fantastic buy for women in their early to mid 30s and beyond, and I guarantee you will absolutely adore it. Everything about this product says 'luxury' and it gives considerably better results that say, Armani's Crema Nera, which I have previously raved about (which, incidentally, is double the price!)

Have you tried this brand, and do these high end luxury creams appeal to you, or are they simply just too expensive to justify?


Male Grooming: Liz Earle

I've written about my lovely boyfriend several times, and those of you who read Modesty Brown will all know a bit more about him than you might like! Here for the first time on The Beauty Hall, the one known as 'The Boy' takes over the reviewing. Over to him, and allowing him a bit of poetic license. After all, we know that he is partial to the odd beauty product, whatever he might say...
Liz Earle is a company better known for beauty products for women. However what is less well known is that the entrepreneurial Ms Earle has diversified and produced a line for men. Displaying the chic, understated packaging women have come to expect from the company, this is a welcome development for any man who has had to listen to their girlfriend wax lyrical about Liz Earle’s products.
I am not usually one for beauty products, a fact which continually astounds my girlfriend. (The Beauty Hall: Er, my pillaged products say differently, Mister!) Tubes of moisturiser and packs of facepacks, given as presents, sit unopened in my closet. I am sure this is typical of many men the country over. This is not to say I do not like being pampered, just that who can be bothered with it all? Don’t women do enough of that stuff for men everywhere? And do we really see any difference as a result of using these products?
Well, I can say if the three products from Liz Earle I have been using are anything to go by, all men should be bothered and the difference is apparent from the first use. Asked to try the men’s Cleanse & Polish, Sensitive Shave Cream and After-Shaving Moisturiser, it would be fair to say I will be taking a bit more time with my morning ritual in the future.
First of all, they all smell great. Whiffs of eucalyptus oil, herbs like rosemary and sage, and hints of menthol greet you as you apply all the potions. Secondly, the use of all natural ingredients is a massive draw, being as they are for a very sensitive area, though men might not like to admit it.
The Cleanse & Polish is very straightforward, just use instead of soap, twice a day and wash off using the provided flannel (or whatever!) It made my skin feel incredibly clean and light and did not dry it out as can often happen with soap.
The shaving cream is, to my mind, something of a revelation. Easy to apply and quick to provide a generous, luxurious lather, despite the relatively tiny amount needed, I do not think I will be using any other product on my face. It gave me one of the closest shaves I have had and without the post-shave rash, the bane of my pre-work preparation!
Finally, the moisturiser is the perfect accompaniment, post-shave. Light, quickly absorbed and smelling good and manly, it helps calm things down and protect the face after being attacked by our razors.
All in all, Liz Earle has three products here that are an excellent introduction for any man into the world of beauty products, so often dismissed as just being for girls. If these are representative of the rest of their line, I can see what all the fuss is about. More please!
The Cleanse & Polish Starter Kit is £13, Sensitive Shave Cream is £10 and the After-Shaving Moisturiser is £16.50.


Gift: Christmas

I've loved reading all the fabulous Christmas gift guides over the past month, and I'd hoped to have mine written weeks ago. However, much like my own approach to Christmas shopping, here I am on the last minute, but hopefully fellow disorganised souls will appreciate a bit of last-minute guidance. Just make sure you don't all rush out and deplete supplies as I still need to buy these for my family and friends!

This first installment contains gifts for the more mature lady, although the majority of these gifts would be suitable for women in their mid to late 20s and beyond. Where my friends and family don't guide me on what they want, I tend to buy treats and the sort of things that people wouldn't always buy for themselves, although as a beauty blogger, that concept is a little alien to me, as I buy everything I want! So, here's my little edit of what I think will make lovely gifts, and I've tried to keep it on the reasonable side in most cases, but do forgive me where I apply a bit of 'luxury license'. It is Christmas after all.

The White Company White Cashmere Candle, £28

I absolutely love scented candles, especially in winter. It's so nice to cosy up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate, while a candle envelops you in a soft glow and fills the room with a beautiful fragrance. The new White Cashmere range at The White Company is a combination of fresh, zingy, and ever so slightly masculine vetivier, with warm, spicy cardamom. I absolutely love this clean yet rich scent, and think it's the perfect spring fragrance. Definitely the kind of luxury we should be spreading at Christmas!

Prada Infusion D'Iris Bath Salts, 500g, £34

These baths salts come in a gorgeous pale green presentation box, the salts beautifully bagged inside, and the delicate silver scoop sitting on top. It smells of white flowers and talcum powder, and makes for a decidedly decadent bathtime. If you really feel like spoiling them, throw in the scented drawer liners. Totally over the top, but it makes getting dressed on those chilly winter mornings just about bearable.

Chanel No.5 Eau de Toilette Refillable Purse Spray, £58 (Chanel counters nationwide)
I got this for my Mum last year and she describes it as her favourite Christmas present ever, which makes me very happy. As always with Chanel, this comes beautifully boxed (and it can be gift wrapped at the counter for the time-poor amongst us) and contains three 20ml refills and one sleek and sophisticated black container with a pop-up gold push button spray. It's so lightweight and practical that it's perfect for carrying around in your handbag, and is more glamorous and infinitely more practical than decanting your beloved fragrance into a fiddly atomiser. Several fragrance companies have caught on to the idea so if your Mum isn't a No.5 fan (although I'm yet to meet anyone who isn't), shop around and you may find something similar.

Liz Earle Ultimate Christmas Hamper, £163.25
Ok, so this is where my festive indulgences meet their peak price, but considering how much you get, this gift makes for exceptional value. It contains a whopping 16 full size products, and is tailored to skin type, meaning you can buy a hamper with perfect products for normal/combination, dry/sensitive and combination/oily skins. If you have a stressed-out, busy female relative who loves a bit of indulgence but doesn't always treat herself, then this may just be the perfect gift. Otherwise, it's for the woman who has everything, but just doesn't have any Liz Earle products. You can read my many, many rave reviews of the Liz Earle range if you like to do your research, but rest assured, you can't go wrong. There are plenty more gorgeous Christmas gifts from Liz Earle ranging from a fantastically afforable £8.25, so check them out here if you're looking for anything from a small stocking filler to the above hamper, which, let's face it, is more of a 'bathroom filler'!

I'd love to know what you'll be buying this Christmas and I hope my little edit is helpful!


Skincare: Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Mask Review

Wow, it has been ages since I last posted and I have to say, it feels good to know that I will have several posts written by the end of the night, and that there will be few items ticked off the vast 'to review' list. As any beauty addict knows, just because I'm not writing doesn't mean I haven't been buying and trying lots of lovely things that I want to share with you!

My biggest wake up call on my lax blogging of late came when I was fully prepared for a relaxing Liz Earle Deep Cleansing face mask, but found that the tube was empty. Never have I actually used up an entire product before I came to review it! This, however, gives you a good indication of just how much I loved this, and I will be repurchasing on my way to work tomorrow (nope, I can never get past John Lewis without popping in, which is unfortunate, as I pass it twice a day, Monday-Friday!)

The mask itself is the usual heady concoction of beautifully scented botanicals, containing clay, manuka honey and geranium to draw out impurities and tone and balance the skin. It's recommended for combination to oily skin, and has definitely helped me battle those pesky hormonal breakouts, which at 28, are even more frustrating than when I was a teenager! I've been using this after Cleanse & Polish and the Gentle Face Exfoliator as a twice-weekly bathtime treat, and it really is fantastically relaxing, alongside being super effective, but really, what else do we expect from the lovely Liz? As for the exfoliator, it's easily the best facial scrub I've ever used, with the grains being the perfect size to give a good deep cleanse and the cream thick enough that it doesn't all run off your skin as soon as you apply it. The exfoliator can be used as often as needed but I use it two to three times a week, depending on my skin. My boyfriend loves this product, so it's another bulk-buy for me, because as always, he likes a liberal application!

A Deep Cleansing Mask Starter kit (pictured above, which comes with the two sponges) is £12.50 and the Exfoliator is £12.25. These products aren't suitable for sensitive skin types, who should go for the Nourishing range instead.

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