CLOSED Giveaway: And The Winner Is...

...Camelia Andrasescu! Congrats, Camelia - I'm emailing you now!

Thanks to everyone for entering xxx


Style: City Break Shopping

In ten short days, my boyfriend and I are off to Palma, Mallorca to celebrate his birthday. It's one of my favourite places for a short break: a beautiful city with great food, fabulous shops, good weather and lovely beaches nearby. Ok, so at this time of year, it'll be more about strolling on the beaches rather than sunbathing, but still, you get the idea!

Despite the fact that I will be doing a lot of shopping when I get there, I decided I was very much in need of a few new items to take with me. I've been going through a bit of a protracted style revamp over the past year, and it's really taking me quite some time to work out exactly what I want. Since coming across my new favourite blog, The Blonde Salad, I've found so much fantastic style inspiration that I hopped over to Asos last night and picked up the following for my trip. All images are from the Asos site:

These fabulous leather trousers, on sale at £60!

A super cute, dip-back black t-shirt...

I used to love a printed t-shirt in my late teens, and decided it may be time to return to this trend. My boyfriend said I can have this as long as he's the one I run away with! Hmm, unless Mallorcan native Rafa Nadal wants to sweep me off my feet, it's a deal!

This dress has the potential to be way too short (like every dress I've ever bought from Asos - at 5'7, I'm not that tall!), but I think it's too cute not to try.

These earrings are not at all my usual style, but I was so drawn to them that I thought I may just give them a whirl!
It's all being delivered tomorrow, so I'll keep you posted on whether I end up keeping any of it! I'm still contemplating whether to start posting some outfit photos, so let me know whether this is something you'd like to see here x


Style: Saturday chic

Saturday chic
Saturday chic by TheBeautyHall featuring skinny distressed jeans

Oooh I am loving playing on Polyvore this evening! My boyfriend and I are going to Palma for his birthday in a couple of weeks and this is my perfect Saturday sightseeing outfit. All I need now is the budget for the Margielas!

Style: Where's My Sweet Girl?

Where's My Sweet Girl?
Where's My Sweet Girl? by TheBeautyHall featuring a satin handbag
How the Black Swan looks when she steps off stage. Watch out for your feathers, girls.

My sad life: A Dent In The Shoe Fund *Unimpressed Face*

My receipts in a slightly more ordered state than when they lived in the shoe box. I say slightly...

Brollies at the ready, ladies for a dark cloud hangs above The Beauty Hall. January means one thing for this lipstick lover, and it ain't makeup related: yes, it's tax return time!

As a momentary break from the misery of calculating how much of the fashion fund has to be paid in tax (really, HMRC? Really?! Well, you better break it to Harvey Nicks, 'cos I'm not doing it), I thought I would share some of the happier memories that, until last night's epic accounting session, lurked in the groaning shoe box ominously marked 'receipts'. This proves that there is some joy in tax returns:
  • The receipt from MAC, King's Road, where I bought an entirely new face after morphing from blonde to brunette. And I only went in for a brow pencil...

  • My bargainous Theory black leather shorts - thank you, Selfridges

  • 100+ receipts from Eat (note to self: prepare your own lunches!)

  • A couple of obscene bar tabs from Refuel at the Soho Hotel. The passion fruit and ginger caipirihna is a clear winner *hic*
Ah, happy memories! HMRC, I hope that gives you some ideas of what I'd like you to spend my money on.


Inspiration: The Language of Flowers

As I write, I'm swaddled in blankets and have a steady flow of Lucozade to hand: yup, I have succumbed to the dreaded seasonal lurgy and am feeling completely vile.

To cheer me up, I've been watching one of my absolute favourite BBC period dramas, Cranford, which is based on a series of novels by Elizabeth Gaskell. The tale follows a formidable group of single and widowed women in Victorian England and is one of the most charming, funny things I've seen in years. Despite the early episodes being somewhat lacking in romance, one of the women receives anemones from an admirer, prompting her friends to consult The Language of Flowers, to decipher the meaning of this gesture. At a time when it was not proper to display emotion or speak freely of feelings held, each flower carried with it a secret meaning, so that messages could be quietly conveyed through the giving of a small bouquet.

I love the romance of this idea, and thought I'd look for the meanings of a few of my current favourite products:

Liz Earle Energising Body Scrub - Contains geranium which represents elegance and gentility

This scrub is one of my favourite recent finds. The grown up, herbal scent is complex, and the initial hit of pine and geranium soften to orange blossom for the perfect olfactory wake up call! What I like most about this product is that the consistency of the gel means that it stays where you put it until it's washed off. So many scrubs run away in the water flow as soon as they're applied, yet this one really grips. For this reason, and for those of you craving a bit of elegance in your life, it's definitely worth a look.

Jo Malone Red Roses Bath Oil - Contains red roses which represent true love

It comes as no surprise that red roses represent enduring love, which is perhaps why I will never get tired of this beautiful bath oil. The scent is so beautiful, and perfect for a long, relaxing bath complete with glass of wine and candlelight. No need to wait to receive red roses from an admirer, if you ask me: definitely one to treat yourself to!

Palmers Olive Hand and Foot Cream - Contains olive which represents peace

After a freezing few weeks, I have found myself utterly reliant on this cream which I first tried at my parents' house. For some reason, my Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Hand Cream just hasn't cut it this year, and it's been well and truly usurped by Palmers. And at a fraction of the price, who am I to argue?! It may not be able to bring peace to anything more than your tired winter-worn skin, but when the temperature plummets, that's more than enough for me.

So those are a few of my favourite floral products, and I'm keen to know about yours! Will you be consulting the Language of Flowers to find out their meanings?
Oh, and don't forget to enter my MAC giveaway here!
Image courtesy of joycetice.com


Giveaway: MAC New Year Neutrals - CLOSED

At last, I'm finally getting round to posting my new year giveaway! This is my way of thanking all of you lovely people for reading and commenting on my blog, and generally making this a really enjoyable experience for me.

Yesterday, I did several laps of Selfridges Beauty Hall, looking for gorgeous things to include in my giveaway, and I couldn't help but come back to my two most repurchased makeup products, both from MAC: Painterly Paint Pot and Big Baby Plushglass. What better way to share my favourites with you that to give you a chance to win them?!

Painterly is a beautiful nude beige that is the most perfect 'slick and go' eye product I've ever found. It looks pretty, polished and brightens the eye beautifully. It's also a fabulous base product, and makes an amazing foundation for a neutral eye. It's a cream formula that dries to a lovely, smooth finish.

Big Baby Plushglass is one of my all time favourite lip products. It's a soft peach with a slightly pearly finish, and the gloss contains vitamin E and plumping ingredients that give you a moisturised, full lip. It's the kind of easy product that leaves you looking fresh, chic and is a holiday favourite for me.

Now, onto how you can get your hands on these lovely things! The prize for one lucky winner is 1 x Painterly Paint Pot and 1 x Big Baby Plushglass. To be in with a chance of winning you need to:
  1. Be a follower of this blog
  2. Post 'I'm in!' in the comments below along with your email address or your twitter username
  3. To increase your chance of winning, tweeting or blogging about this giveaway will buy you an additional entry (make sure you post the link in your comment and include @TheBeautyHall in your tweet)
The giveaway is open internationally, and a winner will be drawn using random.org on Saturday 22nd Jan 2011 at 9pm, GMT.

Good luck!


Haircare: Rahua

I seem to be having all kinds of good luck this week, as I've just had an email from Rahua letting me know that I won their 'Rahua Resolution' competition! The prize includes shampoo, conditioner, finishing treatment and the thing I'm most excited about, Rahua Elixir, which promises to rebuild even the most damaged tresses. Sign me up!

Needless to say, I am very excited, and will be posting about it as soon as I get everything and try it out. Yey!

On the subject of prizes, after being held up at work today, I didn't get chance to buy my giveaway prize. I will be heading to Selfridges at lunch time tomorrow, so will post tomorrow night. Usual giveaway rules will apply (you need to be a follower and leave a comment) and it will be open internationally! Check back tomorrow for more details.


Beauty: My Favourite Concealers

Concealers. You name the brand, and I've tried it. Liquid, cream, drugstore or counter, I don't discriminate: if it's a great product, I'm all over it. Or more appropriately, it's all over me. Of all the contents of my many makeup bags, drawers and cupboards (I'd be a bag blogger if I only had one makeup bag...), it's probably the one I'd fight hardest to keep, as having skin that looks clear and even-toned is my biggest basic beauty goal.

Despite several months of blogging, this is my first comparison post, and given that I've owned just about every concealer on the market, I thought it would be a pretty good place to start!

I should point out that, although Estee Lauder Double Wear is in the photo, it's not reviewed here. I've only had it a couple of weeks and not sure it makes it into my 'favourites' list quite yet! Thanks to Holly for pointing out the potential confusion!

Affordable and effective: Maybelline's Pure Liquid Mineral Concealer, £6.19This one is an old favourite of mine. Super affordable and long wearing, it gives great coverage and unsurprisingly, it works fantastically well with the Pure Mineral liquid and powder foundations, both of which I'm a fan of. It only comes in three shades, so you may not get a perfect match, but its definitely worth a swatch to see if this works for you. I tended to only use this under my eyes, but got great results with it.

MAC Select Cover-Up and Studio Finish, both £13.50This is more a question of texture preference and purpose than anything else, as the Select Cover-Up is a liquid, and Studio Finish a cream. Studio Finish has the advantage of being water-resistant, so it's perfect for holidays, and Select Cover-Up has a nice, brightening effect yet gives good coverage. Invest in a brush for Studio Finish (Boots No. 7 concealer brush is great value)

Benefit LemonAid, £16.50

Although not strictly a concealer (it's an eyelid brightener/primer), I couldn't miss this one out. A sweep of this over lids leaves them looking bright and fresh, and it's also a great base for your eye makeup, so this is a good product to have anyway. It also has another use not mentioned on the box. This yellow-tinged product is fantastic at neutralising particularly dark circles on fair skins better than any concealer alone can. You need to add a layer of flesh-toned liquid concealer or foundation on top of it (it leaves the skin looking abnormally bright otherwise) but I guarantee it perks up even the sleepiest eyes!

And now for my holy grail concealer...

Giorgio Armani High Precision Retouch, around £27.50
This liquid is the daddy of all concealers for me, and having tried several other products since using it, I can't see myself straying. Dark circles are blasted with a hit of vitamin E and the product contains pearl which diffuses light and gives skin a radiant boost. It conceals brilliantly, and is just an all round fantastic product. Yes, it's pricey, but it lasts and lasts. Definitely my number one.

So, those are my favourites: what are yours?


Beauty: Invisalign

Oooh, just a quick and very excited post to say that in a week's time, I am going to have moulds taken for Invisalign braces: YAY!

Last year, I went for a consultation with an orthodontist who told me Invisalign wouldn't work for me, and that I needed to go with a different system that would cost £7000. No way! I went to see Dr Michael Akere at the London Bridge Dental Practice (recommended by Laura of lollipop26) who said Invisalign will be perfect and at half the price, who am I to argue?

Having perfect teeth has been something I've wanted for so long, but at 28, the idea of metal braces was really off-putting, so you can imagine how great I'm feeling tonight. Now I can't stop smiling, perfect teeth or not!

I'm thinking about doing an Invisalign diary so you can see how my treatment is progressing: is that something you'd like to see?


Travel: Paris

I'm back at work tomorrow, and given how little I want to be there, I am now preoccupied with planning my birthday trip to Paris (not until August, unfortunately), and trying to convince my boyfriend to let me book this place...

http://hotel-particulier-montmartre.com/ Love it!


Travel: London

Firstly, happy new year to all you lovely people. I hope your night was fab and fun filled, whatever you did.

I'm a little sad that my Christmas break has whizzed by so quickly, and while it's with a heavy heart that I'll be leaving my parents and heading back to work, I am also giddy with excitement at returning to London. Despite the fact that the city drives me mad at times, it also affords the opportunity to do just about anything your imagination can conjure. So, here are just a few of the things I can't wait to do when I get back to my adopted home.

1. Sip a passion fruit and ginger caipirihna (or 5...) at Refuel in the Soho Hotel

2. For nights when too many Refuel cocktails have been consumed, stumble on stilettos to nearby Balans, where eggs benedict and many other delicious treats are served 24hrs a day: yum!

3. Saunter through the heavenly Shoe Gallery at Selfridges, which stocks everything from epic Skovgaards to the entirely more gentle Pretty Ballerinas. A place where die hard shoe-holics could easily lose a day!

4. Snuggle into the divinely comfortable leather seats at the Electric Cinema, order a bottle of wine, and enjoy the latest movies in decidedly decadent style

5. Get lost in Liberty, possibly the most beautiful and perfectly edited department store you could imagine. My favourite corners of the store are the book section - perfect for those days when you need a bit of inspiration- and the fabric floor, which I can never leave without buying some new buttons! The Tarte au Citron in the cafe is perhaps the most delicious I've ever tasted.

6. Visit Tate Modern on the South Bank. The current Turbine Hall installation, Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei, is incredibly impressive and you're only a quick stroll from one of my favourite places to eat...

7. Canteen, which specialise in grown-up school dinners, with food that is immensely comforting and totally delicious. The roast chicken with fries and garlic mayonnaise, accompanied by a glass of chablis is basically irresistable to me!

8. Visit Ryantown, artist Rob Ryan's fantastic shop. For as long as I have loved Rob Ryan's work, I have still never made time to get down to his east London store. Whimsical, nostalgic and utterly romantic, his beautiful screen prints hark to a happy little world filled with love, happiness and a sprinkle of magic.

9. Although it's on every list of things to do in London, it's with good reason, as a trip to the capital wouldn't be complete with visiting Borough Market. It's basically foodie heaven, and whatever you want, it's a safe bet you'll find it there. Stock up on Pieminister Pies, grab a wild boar burger and drink as much Monmouth Coffee as you can without causing jangling nerves!

10. Take a stroll over as many of the Thames bridges as you can, some during the day, and some at night. When I first moved to London, I remember being completely awestruck at the sight of the river and the beautiful buildings that flank it, especially by night. That feeling has never left me, and I always pause for a quick glance, even if I end up late for meetings!
So, that's just a small slice of my London must-sees. What are your favourites?
Image courtesy of 7art-screensavers.com

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