Beauty: Minimalism

If you're a product junkie, you'll know the feeling of having a multiplicity of products in almost every room. Some things make it to those hallowed spots reserved for products in daily usage - see bathroom shelves and dressing table - while others are left strewn in drawers, wash bags and cupboards, just waiting to be rediscovered. A quick scan of my designated beauty zones (i.e. every room in the house) turns up bottles, jars and tubes for just about every skin and haircare concern: my routine is anything but minimalist.

Despite my accumulated stash product arsenal, I still hold the view that there is untold beauty potential in pharmacies and department stores across the world and my quest to uncover them knows no bounds. I want to try everything, but secretly, I crave a simple, paired back routine of beautifully-packaged products. Oh for a life without clutter and a bathroom shelf that looked this chic.

Clockwise from top left: Parsley Seed Mask £27 by Aesop, Mustard Soak £8 by Fig & Yarrow, Ocean Mist £18 by Sachajuan, High Potency Eye Lift £78 by Perricone MD, Nourishing Repairing Mask £16.94 by NOUNOU


Style: Winter Boots

I have two superficial wishes in life:

1. That I was still young and foolish enough to bear the pain of commuting in attractive footwear rather than comfy flats/clunky wedge boots

2. That I could afford to take taxis everywhere, thus rendering all footwear choices curb to cab decisions - that distance can be covered in six inch spikes no problem

This frustration comes from having invested in a long, belted, black cashmere coat. It's grown up and the stuff of winter in the city dreams. It's begging to be paired with a slim, equally elegant heel, and yet practicality wins out every time, and I find myself lacing into my trusty little wedges. Worryingly, these past few days have had me checking my reflection and wondering if I'm clomping headlong into goth town. Not the look I was going for. 

A few years ago, I bought these, and was mocked endlessly by the Yorkshireman for referring to them as 'winter boots'. He was clearly expecting something slightly more practical. He was right (as he usually is): weekly trips to the cobblers and aching feet meant they were consigned to the wardrobe for 'occasional wear' pretty sharpish.

So, my question is, what is the perfect boot for this time of year, factoring in the bleak English winter of rain, snow, ice and the ever-present burden that is having to leave the house for work? Do you plump for fashion over functionality, push through the pain for the love of a cute heel, or just forget the elegant commuter ideal and stick with something cosy?

I'd be happy to leave it to the fashion week pros if only it didn't look so good.

Images from http://thefashiontag.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/fur-coats-2014-trend/


Hair: Focus on Phyto

My quest for long hair came to a screeching halt at around 7pm on Friday when hair that fell past my shoulders was chopped into a jaw length bob, which notably, embraces my natural curl. I have been a life-long straightener, so this feels new, but I'm happy to say I'm no long phased by the rain: it's become something of an on-the-go styling product. Hurrah for being content outside in anything above 1% humidity.

My desire for long hair is never outweighed by my pursuit of soft, healthy locks, and the products I'm currently using were selected to get as much nourishment into it as possible. Amazingly, they're all from the same brand: Phyto. Plant-based, mostly silicone-free, and crucially, effective; it's pretty much the answer to my hair prayers.

Here's what I'm currently using:

Phytolisse shampoo £11.50, Phytophanere supplements £33.00, Phytokeratine thermal protectant spray £16.50, Phyto 9 day cream £14.50, Subtil Elixir £24.50 and Phytodefrisant straightening balm £14.50
From Phyto available at www.johnlewis.com

The standout products for me are Subtil Elixir and Phytodefrisant. The latter has achieved cult status with those of us 'blessed' with coarse, thick hair and it's managed to significantly tame my frizz, even if damp weather. It promises straighter hair with frequent use, and although it hasn't unraveled my curls, it has made them much more defined and manageable. Always a winner in my book.

Subtil Elixir (for dry and ultra dry hair) has been a revelation to me, and has filled the enormous hole left by the discontinued Phytonectar. This pre-shampoo treatment is a blend of camelia, corn germ, karanja and egg yolk oils (it is all about egg yolk when it comes to healthy hair) which regenerate and nourish the hair fibre. Camelia is a particularly light oil, so this isn't the kind of oil treatment that requires several shampoos to remove it all. 

I'll be reviewing the other products photographed above soon, and in the interim, I'd love to know your Phyto favourites.


This Week #2

My new winter coat - a wool and cashmere French Connection number scored on eBay for £80; the Shard on an exceptionally grey day in London
Oscar Wilde said that memory is the diary that we all carry with us: it keeps close the people we have loved and the things we have done. Time fades many things, but dear memories are something that, if we're lucky, are kept in sharp focus for a lifetime.

At times when life feels dull, it can be easy to forget that we are the authors of those diaries of memory. Try imagining yourself 20 years from now and picture the things that you would like to look back on. Now go out and write your history.


Body: REN Moroccan Rose Otto range

Moroccan Rose Otto body lotion £26, ultra-moisture body oil £34, and sugar body polish £32
From REN available at www.marksandspencer.com

When it comes to scent, there are few aromas more luxurious, evocative and calming as rose. Alongside its historic association with love, fidelity and romance, it is widely used in aromatherapy to soothe anger, ease anxiety and alleviate depression. You may not find yourself the recipient of a beautiful bouquet of roses as often as you might like, but with REN's Moroccan Rose Otto range in the bathroom, you will be too calm, too pampered and too indulged to notice.

As the name suggests, Moroccan roses are the cornerstone of these products, and REN's famous bath oil (not photographed here) contains the essence of 10,000 petals. Those of you who have experienced a rose garden in the height of summer will recall the feeling of being enveloped in that deep, heady scent and feeling utterly soothed. Imagine adding that fragrance to hot water in a candlelit bathroom and you can only begin to get a sense of the seductive intensity of these products.

The standout for me is the sugar body polish which leaves skin silky smooth and wonderfully scented. This is most definitely not a product for a quick scrub in the shower, but one for those pampering winter ablutions where bathing transcends the functional and becomes almost ritualistic.

Marks & Spencer is offering some fantastic REN gift sets which start from £25 and include all the products in the photo above, as well as a body wash. Clever REN always make it easy for you to try their products before committing to full size purchases, and indeed, to make your travels more luxurious with their decadent minis. It will make the perfect gift for a loved one this Christmas, or as an indulgent treat for those of you who need to zap the stresses of modern life.


This Week #1

I can't get enough of my faux leather skirt from Zara; a flat white and Sunday Times Style catch up at Gail's in Soho; that feeling when you thought you'd brought your concealer and instead you've brought a scarlet lippy. Thanks, Nars packaging...

Transforming a thought into an action takes little more than the will to do. As an idea begins to take shape, hands can be busy manipulating that cerebral gossamer into something tangible. Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, we are constantly occupied in dictating our moods, shaping our environments and influencing our futures through the simple act of choice.

Practiced often enough, choice becomes habit. The activities we undertake daily - quietly, automatically, unconsciously - can be an open road to our hearts' desires, a pathway to contentment or a sheer drop into mundanity. It is said that 10,000 hours of practice are required to perfect a skill, but how many of us invest even a few moments' energy in pursuit of our dreams? 

Aristotle said that we are what we repeatedly do: our actions - the good, the bad, and the ugly - define us. They make us who and what we are. It may seem an overwhelming task to break old habits and form new ones, but cast your mind back to the opening line of this post: transforming a thought into an action takes little more than the will to do. Act now, and you're already a step closer to where you want to be.


Style: Knit on Pencil

Motif sweaters and pencil skirts could very easily become my uniform - and oh how I wish I could justify everything from Marcus Lupfer! Here are my favourite sweaters and skirts from net-a-porter.
L-R: Acne, Burberry Prorsum, Marcus Lupfer
L-R: Dagmar, Givenchy, J Brand
All items available on net-a-porter.com


Have a wonderful weekend

Taking inspiration from one of my favourite bloggers, Joanna Goddard, I'm going to endeavour to write a weekly link list to share what I've loved from the web this week.

This weekend I'm going to a knitting and sewing show with a friend (she's the expert, and I'm hoping I pick up some tips so I can build on my sewing experience), having my autumn permanent blow dry and going for a Sisley facial (a brand I've wanted to get up close with for a long time - thanks, Mum!) What are your plans? Whatever you're up to, have a wonderful time!

How to get rid of cellulite (hint: creams don't work!) 

The facial massage technique I have been using for the past seven days. My stressed-out chops have already registered an improvement

Lovely Milly of Pearls and Poodles has created her own lip gloss with Illamasqua

Finding out you have been using the wrong saying by seeing the right one on a tote bag (*this*, kids, is how you know you're old, and that you shouldn't be using the saying at all)

The Guardian's top ten romantic films

My favourite new Twitter account - Bang and Olufsen as you've never seen them before...


Beauty: Sweet Almond Oil

Crumbs, I'm having some serious blogging issues at the moment. One minute I want to write, the next thing I'm writing myself out of writing, and then today, I find myself standing in Boots, eyes glazed, swatching everything in reach whilst my brain prances about in my head singing 'GIVE IN! YOU LOVE MAKE UP!'

It's true, I do.

My previous two posts, all questions, concern and confusion, proclaiming 'why am I writing here?! What's my purpose'; were the Angela Chase of blog posts (for those of you under 30, it's what Claire Danes did pre-Homeland. If you're in your teens, watch it and finally feel as though somebody understands you. Or just drool over Jordan Catalano; there's no judgement here).

Anyway, today's mood is simple: I am following my wise and powerful internal monologue which decrees, 'go forth and purchase makeup!' Hey brain, no need to shout. I'm on it, ok?

In the meantime, I can't say I'm entirely derailed from my slightly hippy mood of the previous two weeks, and that's because my skincare routine is now almost entirely oil-based. Oil for cleansing, oil for body moisturising and oil for my night time face massage, and one in particular: sweet almond oil is where it all started. I've been using this on my body for about 12 months and I can say, hand on heart, that no body moisturiser has ever come close to it. It delivers velvet-smooth skin in a few days, and I make sure that my supply never comes close to running low.

Now, you will already have concluded that this ain't no high end purchase. Never have I seen a svelte, blow dried young thing trot into Selfridges' beauty hall on her Manolos to request a litre of oil. But then that's possibly because they don't sell it (somebody's missing a trick, I tell you). The 500ml bottle above came to the grand total of £11.26 but I've since discovered an online stockist (link!) which sells a litre of this cold pressed elixir for £6.99. We all know that things don't need to be expensive to perform well, but I won't be surprised if you need a little convincing to add a giant plastic bottle of oil to your beauty routine (focus on the soft skin I mentioned above). If the utilitarianism troubles you, you have my permission to buy a cute bottle and add in a few drops of your favourite essential oils. Lavender and lemon, anyone? After you get creative with scent, you'll probably still have spent less than an equivalent volume of your usual body moisturiser. Try here for some blending inspiration.

The biggest perk? For years I've suffered with keratosis pilaris: annoying little red bumps on the upper arms that aren't painful, just not especially cute. Since the almond oil, they have all but disappeared. Much better than the £40 AHA body cream that promised to banish them and failed to deliver.

I'll be blogging more about my experience with oils soon. I have so many to share with you, all of which have their own fantastic properties. Plus if you ever run out of something to dress your salad with, there's always something within reach...




Here are some quotes on turning 30 that popped up on a quick Google search. If you're 29, you might want to pour yourself a G&T:

When you’re a teenager, all you want to do is buy beer. But once you hit 30 all you want to do is to get carded - Carrie Bradshaw

After 30, a body has a mind of its own - Bette Midler

Depressed yet? Well, pin back your wrinkles, as old Francis Fitzgerald has something to finish us off:

Thirty – the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair - F. Scott Fitzgerald

As someone who's passed


Interiors: Beautiful beds

Beyond the beauty hall: a new start

Well, so much for me being an 'ex blogger'!

It feels strange being back here, and the past two hours have seen a jumble of words written and deleted on this page. My return boils down to the simple fact that I have missed writing here, but the struggle comes with the knowledge that what I wrote about before is less important to me than it once was. Let me explain...

My decision to stop blogging in June was motivated by a variety of factors, only some of which I declared. I was (and still am) much more focused on 'a quiet life' but I'd also reached my limit with the beauty industry. I looked back on some of the products I'd tested, and considered how many of them I was still using: it was very few. Certainly not the prized hair 'oil' that was actually full of silicones and ended up ravaging my hair. Or even the serums that cost three figures and made absolutely no difference to my skin. I was sick of the marketing; sick of being told that this product would make me beautiful, and even more, I was sick of telling you that you should buy it, too. I was sick of being part of what I felt was a myth, another non-expert reeling off what was essentially a list of today's likes and dislikes. Who knew what tomorrow would bring? So, I changed tack.

While I wasn't blogging, I started using all natural products, being kinder to my body, and it worked wonderfully. With my hair dryer locked away and only real oil and eggs for topical nourishment and a balanced diet for internal benefit, my hair grew long and glossy. Expensive cleansing balms were scrapped in favour of coconut oil and my skin was as clear and healthy as it's ever been. Then crisis hit at work, and the telltale signs of stress started to appear on my 31 year old face. I found myself craving laboratory beauty once more, but the sceptic who abandoned this blog in June couldn't be quieted and I couldn't quite bring myself to make a purchase that I wouldn't have hesitated over in the past. Maybe there isn't a cream for everything, and given the choice, I'm happy to get older. I think there's a balance to be struck, which is as much about stripping away the complexity of the quack science that's marketed to us every time we step into a chemist or a department store beauty hall as it is about me enjoying writing this blog. I don't want to write about things that aren't useful anymore, because these words are out there to be read and it's important to me that they communicate something of value.

And that's why this blog has had a change of name: I now find myself beyond the beauty hall, although where that is, I'm not quite sure! I guess the evolution of this blog will come as I start to develop a new voice about the things I have become more passionate about and I very much hope you'll tag along for the journey!


Life: A Quiet Mind

After a blissfully happy weekend that began with spending time with friends (and eating some very good cake), and is ending with yoga, a long walk and an overwhelming sense of quiet contentment, it's wonderful to feel like I've finally achieved my goal of a quiet mind. The things that I used to think and worry about are gone, and I realised just how far I've come. Yoga and meditation have played a huge part in this process, and have enabled me to remove everything toxic from my life and just enjoy being. I've grown stronger mentally and physically, removed all the pressures that I never realised I put myself under and life has just started to flow, which is something I'm enjoying very much.

Mind, Body, Green featured a really interesting piece on things to do if you want to be happy, and the list at the end of the article really resonated with me. Over the past two years, I've managed to incorporate each one of these things into my life and I feel infinitely better for it. If you're looking for a little more peace in your life, give the following a go and see how much it improves your outlook. 

  • Recognise your unique self
  • Let go of what no longer serves you
  • Love yourself and get comfortable in your own skin
  • Be open-minded
  • Feel your feelings
  • Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want
  • Release attachments
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Follow your heart
  • Stop engaging in drama
This list may sound a little selfish but by tackling what's inside, everything outside seems to magically follow. 

"When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, 'Oh yes - I already have everything that I really need." Dalai Lama

It's for all the reasons above that I've decided to take a bit of a break from blogging to just enjoy what's happening now. I love the products I'm using (in which almond oil plays a starring role as cleanser, moisturising and deep conditioning hair treatment) so I don't want to disrupt that by trialling tonnes of new products. My makeup is a happy parade of neutrals and I've stopped spending half my salary on new clothes and am instead focusing on the healthy body that's inside them. I feel like there's less of a place for 'things' now, so there's less for me to talk to you about here.

I may be back at some point, but for now, I'm happy to report that my evenings will no longer be spent on editing photos and drafting blog posts way into the small hours, and will instead be about good food, friends, yoga, and plenty of relaxation which is just what this 30 year old wants from her life.Thank you for reading, contributing, and making my blogging years very happy. Maybe see you again one day.

x Rachel x


You may have noticed we've been a little light on content over at The Beauty Hall recently and it's pretty much all down to one product. This product contains one ingredient, and it's performs multiple duties as my cleanser, moisturiser (face and body), deep conditioning hair treatment and nail strengthener. In finding this wondrous creation, I have realised that my blogging future looks pretty grim, but I also feel like the search is over. My skin is glowing and clear (and the sneaky little lines I'd seen appearing have vanished), my hair can now be left to dry naturally without frizzing into oblivion, my nails are long, strong, split free and are growing like wild mint, and the keratosis pilaris on the tops of my arms (the little red bumps to you and me) have disappeared without a trace.

You're probably wondering what the product is, aren't you? Well, it 


Be patient and tough: one day this pain will be useful to you.

Love will enter cloaked in friendship's name

To be loved, be lovable

The cause is hidden. The effect is visible to all.


Closed - Giveaway: Elegant Touch Envy Nail Wraps

Elegant Touch Envy Nail Wraps are the perfect solution for those of you craving some cute nail art without the hassle of a trip to the salon or the need to master straight lines, which, if you're anything like me, is never going to happen :) To save you even having to leave your house, I'm giving away two packs of nail wraps to one lucky winner. If you fancy your chances of winning these little beauties, all you need to do is:

1. Follow The Beauty Hall with Google Friend Connect

2. Follow The Beauty Hall on Facebook (which you can do here)

3. Leave a comment below

This giveaway is open internationally and a winner will be chosen at random on Sunday 26th May at 8pm GMT. The winner will be announced on The Beauty Hall's Facebook page, so stay tuned!

Good luck!

Beauty: Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X

I'm quite excited about this. Tria has launched a new at-home hair removal laser which delivers results in as little as 90 days, and I'm going to be putting it to the test. I'm very much on the cusp in terms of hair colour, so I'm really hoping this works for me. I have convinced myself my hair is light brown rather than red, but we'll see what the laser decides! I'll be keeping you up to date on progress.

Have you tried laser hair removal? What do you think?

The Tria Hair Removal Laser is priced at £375 and is available in this lovely green and hot pink. For more info, click here.


How to: Be Your Own Stylist

If you're anything like me, you check in with your favourite style and beauty blog a few times a week. We like their dreamy images on instagram, we swoon over yet another Celine handbag and occasionally we think, 'I wish I looked like that. I wish I got to travel there. I wish Jimmy Choo sent me shoes to pose in'. This constant stream of beautiful people and beautiful things can, I think, make us all feel a little inadequate at times.

I posted recently about my style rut and I'm so pleased to report that my ASOS order was pretty successful. Of the seven things I ordered, I kept four, all of which have me totally committed to overhauling what has become a pretty drab, predominantly black wardrobe. I took a completely different approach to choosing pieces so I thought I'd share my tips in the hope that it helps you to style yourself up in a way that has you excited to get dressed in the morning.

1. Start with some inspiration

It's not hard to think of somebody whose wardrobe you'd happily raid. For me, having fifteen minutes to rifle through Olivia Palermo and Miranda Kerr's walk-ins would have me pretty much set for life (although I may need to shed a pound or six). My Pinterest boards are brimming with images of both of them in skinny jeans and oversized tops, teetering in perfect cigarette heel stilettos or padding around in chic flats, toting enormous handbags and wearing just the right amount of leather. With all these images in front of me, it's not hard for me to conjure ideas for my perfect off-duty outfit. 

Alongside this, ask me which item of clothing I would most like to own and I would tell you, without missing a beat, that it would be a Roland Mouret dress. A Galaxy, a Watson: I'm not fussy. Figure hugging, hourglass silhouettes are my choice for the working week every time. So, those are my basics, and they're what I hunt for every time I go shopping. And yet still I look at pictures of Chiara Ferragni and think 'why don't I dress like that?!' So, we need to make a leap of faith and...

2. Shop for yourself as though you were shopping for someone else

This is the single most important piece of advice I can give you. We all have a perception of how we look and many of us stick to the same safe pieces we feel comfortable in. Before I started my four hour ASOS scan, I wrote a shopping brief so that I didn't think of shopping for me and what I normally wear, but for a woman with the same stats as me who wanted a new look. I tried to take myself out of the exercise as much as possible, so I wrote down the following:
  • Tall
  • Red hair
  • Age 30
  • Size 8/10
  • No black!
It was initially quite tricky to steer myself away from the many black dresses, but that's where the next step comes in...

3. Save everything you like

Yes. Everything. Don't think about it: just save it. Don't tell yourself you'd never wear it, that it doesn't go with anything, that you'd look ridiculous in it. Just save it. I really only wear dresses to work, so I made sure to start with skirts and tops. This exercise should feel challenging, but that's how we get to the good stuff. I'd recommend starting your search with a site like ASOS, purely because they have so much, that their site is so user friendly, and because you can save the things you like for 60 days. This makes step four much easier.

4. Edit and be brave!

Now comes the fun part. You'll hopefully be greeted by lots of images that look something close to your dream wardrobe, unrestricted by thoughts of whether you can wear disco pants if you're a size 16 (who says you can't?) If you're lucky, you will have picked lots of things that look vaguely wearable together - this selection was random but there's a clear theme running through. Now comes the challenge. 

I haven't worn printed trousers since I was eight, but the pair on the top right were one of seven pairs I originally saved. My subconscious is speaking to me and it's saying 'I WANT SOME LOUD TROUSERS!' Speak and ye shall be heard. So, cast your judgements aside and behold:

These are the things you truly love. Preconceptions and prejudices aside, this is how you'd like to dress yourself. Now, checkout and prepare yourself for a revelatory trying-on session.

I hope this inspires your style endeavours!


CLOSED: 20% off treatments at Spa London, Ironmonger Row Baths

On a rainy April morning, Stephen and I arrived at Ironmonger Row Baths, ready to descend to the recently-renovated, subterranean Spa London. After a long working week, there is nothing more appealing to me than spending an afternoon of steam rooms, saunas and scrubs. Spa London didn't disappoint.

After three hours luxuriating in the two steam rooms (eucalyptus and peppermint-scented), the two saunas, scrubbing ourselves with ice chips, experiencing the traditional Roman bath ritual of tepidarium (warm), caldarium (hot) and laconium (hotter!), reclining (and napping, Stephen...) in the relaxation room, we then made our way to the treatment rooms. I had the Elemis Coconut Rub and Milk Ritual, which saw me scrubbed with dried coconut and coated in delicious lotions and oils, wrapped up and left with the silkiest skin I've felt in a long time. Stephen had the Ironmonger Row Baths Scrub and Wash which probably wasn't the right treatment for him, given that he's a frequent exfoliater. Although it was enjoyable, he didn't notice a huge amount of difference to the smoothness of his skin, so this is perhaps one to skip if you're a bit of a scrubber (sorry, I couldn't resist that one!)

So, onto the good stuff. Spa London at Ironmonger Row Baths have very kindly offered readers of The Beauty Hall a whopping 20% off all treatments! Yep, that includes facials, body treatments, tanning, manicures, pedicures, massage, waxing and everything in between! There's no code - you just need to book here and the discount is already applied. The offer is limited to one use per person and there is no closing date to the offer. How splendid! The offer is not valid at any other Spa London location. Entry to the Turkish Bath is not included in the cost of the treatment.

If you do go, please make sure to let me know what treatments you have! 

Enjoy x


Three Things

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend and the weather where you are isn't too mixed up - we've gone from sunshine to pouring rain in a matter of seconds here on the hill! I'm struggling to whittle down my selection of loves to just three this week; a sure sign that, irrespective of how tired I am after a six-day working week, it's been a good one!

- I'm obsessed with this Boutique by Jaeger skirt. It would be the perfect addition to a summer office wardrobe -

- The Gourmet Burger Kitchen treat that I finally sank my teeth into a 2pm this afternoon - my first meal away from work in four days! -

- This week's work makeup look - so long-wearing thanks to Seventeen's fabulous primer! -


Beauty: Merumaya Melting Cleansing Balm Review

Before you ask, the photo above isn't a snap of a novel packaging experiment. This photograph shows what happens when you love a product so much, you just have to get into every last corner of the tube to use it all up.

And I love this product.

Merumaya's creator, Maleka Dattu, has a wealth of skincare knowledge behind her, and following spells at Clinique, Lancome and Origins, decided to set up her own skincare line. Maleka describes the process of the creation of her Melting Cleansing Balm as being motivated by a desire to create something 'beautiful and luxurious', and from the minute you flip the cap open, that's exactly how it feels. The fragrance is delicate and indulgent, and reminiscent of the finest spa treatments.

A little bit of the balm goes a long way, and true to its name, it melts into the skin on application. It's so silky that, at the end of a long day, I find myself unable to resist a relaxing facial massage, and after removing the cleanser with a flannel and hot water, I follow with another cleanse to remove any final traces of makeup. The website Q&A is wonderfully honest, and says that testers had mixed results with eye makeup removal but my experience has only been positive. For me, two cleanses is sufficient to banish all traces of my non-waterproof mascara, eyeliner and eyeshadow.

Prior to using this product, I was a devotee of Emma Hardie's Amazing Face Cleansing Balm, which is truly wonderful. At around £34 for 100ml, however, it ranks as the most expensive cleanser I've ever purchased. For me, Merumaya's Melting Cleansing Balm matches Amazing Face's performance on every front, and costs a grand total of £14.50. Yep, you read that correctly. Even more fantastic is the following statement from Maleka:

"Working in collaboration with some of the best cosmetic science brains, I have fulfilled my goal to provide luxurious, effective skincare and have chosen to present it at an accessible price point."

I find it so refreshing to see brands that are committed to developing high-performance products that are much more affordable than some of their counterparts. I'm not especially excited by the idea of paying a premium for luxurious packaging: I just want a product that works. And this one does just that. I can see this being a feature on my bathroom shelf for a long time to come.

Merumaya's Melting Cleansing Balm is available from John Lewis and online for £14.50.


Three Things

Inspired by my favourite blog, Cupcakes and Cashmere, Three Things is a new series to keep track of everything that brings a smile to my face. Expect a mix of beauty, food, photographs of the sun and plenty of celebrations of new yoga poses I've managed to find my way into!

- My current beauty favourites, reviews of which are coming up soon -

- The cherry blossoms outside my flat are finally in bloom -

- That the weather will soon be sunny enough to rock this gorgeous Nails Inc Feathers polish, which makes me smile every time I look at it -


Style: White Jeans

White jeans. It's almost an oxymoron. You start off with a functional fabric, designed to be hard-wearing and ready for anything, and then dye it the most impractical of colours. White jeans speak of tans, glossy salon blow dries, long champagne-fuelled lunches and taxis everywhere. In short, not something that fits well with the 9-5.

Yet like so many things in life, when a boy expresses a preference, it suddenly becomes an intriguing concept! This is what happened this week with white jeans. I'm not convinced I'll ever be the type to pull them off, so in an attempt to style them up so that I might be, I've arrived at something so 80s and so man-repellant, that I've entirely defeated my starting point for exploring the idea.

That said, I would add this little lot to my net-a-porter basket faster than you can say 'Liz Hurley'.

Clockwise from top left:

1. LOT78 'Hello' t-shirt - £75
2. J Crew 'Darling' cashmere sweater - £265
3. Acne mid-rise white jeans - £170
4. Fiorentini & Baker Nubis boots - £368
5. Pierre Hardy clutch - £125
6. T by Alexander Wang leather bralette - £288

So, how about you? Do you love or hate white jeans?


Beauty: Estee Lauder Display

I've written before about my Mum's love for Estee Lauder. Handbags, drawers and dressing tables sparkle with that familiar glint of gold, and when it comes to shopping, there are few finer words than 'gift with purchase'.

Whenever I read a blog post about makeup organisation, I think of Mum, and while at home, I managed to pick up the perfect display piece for all her gorgeous, gilt cases. The results were even better than we thought they would be.

This beautiful mini Estee Lauder counter now sits on her bedside table for her to admire as soon as she wakes up. We quickly learned, however, that perfection has its downsides. The next day I received a text message:

'I'm on my way to a meeting and I don't have any lipstick. They're all on display!'


Hair: How to improve hair growth

When it comes to haircare, Philip Kingsley is my go-to. A trichologist since 1957, his experience is unparalleled. His products have taken me from coarse, frizzy hair that relied on expensive treatments, to soft, silky locks that don't even frizz in the rain. It's nothing short of miraculous.

I will be posting an updated hair routine very soon, but in the meantime, the latest post on the Philip Kingsley blog on how to improve hair growth is must reading. Steer clear of gimics: this man knows his stuff!


Life: Modern Etiquette

One of my guilty pleasures in life is to read old etiquette books. I'm in no way a traditionalist, but something about etiquette and social conventions fascinates me. There's something quite lovely about the idea of dressing up for dinner at home, sending invitations for friends to come to dinner and generally being a lot more respectful and courteous than is so often the case in our society. That said, when I arrive home from work at 7pm, I tend to want to remove my makeup and slip into something comfy rather than touch up my face and wear a dress for dinner!

Wondering what examples of modern etiquette are out there, I stumbled across The Rules: an illustrated guide to modern etiquette which has some brilliantly illustrated examples of very modern problems. Can you relate to any of these situations?

All courtesy of good.is
There's also the fantastic Pug's Guide to Etiquette by Gemma Correll.

Is etiquette an outdated concept or are there certain standards you strive to live up to?


Beauty: Makeup Brushes - How Many Do We Really Need?

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I absolutely love watching makeup tutorials on YouTube but the one thing I'm always amazed by is just how many brushes are used in the process of achieving a look. Most of the videos I watch are filmed by professional makeup artists, so it makes sense that they have a broad range to ensure that they can achieve the finish they want. But for the rest of us, I wonder just how useful a few hundred pounds worth of MAC brushes really are?

If you're anything like me, your morning makeup application is probably time-limited (there's somewhere else to be) and possibly happens on the train, in between traffic lights or somewhere else that requires a reasonably compact, portable makeup bag. The idea of carting around a range of brushes for every contour of my face doesn't seem especially practical. 

I probably own about 20 makeup brushes, yet I only use four with any regularity. Perhaps more tellingly, three out of the four cost less than £5, and I don't think my makeup looks any better or worse for it. The other 16 sit in a little pot, tucked away in a cupboard, probably never to be used again. Sure, I could pick a MAC 217 out of a line up, but my E.L.F blending brush doesn't do too bad a job and for the fraction of the price. As for the crease colour brushes I own (yes, I have two: both exactly the same), well, let's just say I can think of better uses for the money!

My makeup bag big four are:
How do you feel about makeup brushes? If you have a vast collection, do you use them all? Do you see a difference between expensive and cheaper brushes? And hands up who's bought a brush because they saw it in a tutorial and never really used it? *raises both hands*!


Style: The Shoe I Can't Forget

Two years ago. It was like any other average weekday in London. After work, I decided to pop into Zara before heading home via Bond Street tube. I wandered around until my eyes fell upon the most beautiful black suede shoes. They were so elegant, so unlike anything else I'd seen with their deep cutaways on either side that I had to try them. I slipped out of my ballet flats and onto those wonderful arches, yet when they were on, I felt the cutaway was too severe, and disheartened, I put them back onto the shelf and after a wistful glance back, I made my way home.

In the weeks that followed, the shoes appeared on all of my favourite style blogs, and my heart leapt at their beauty again. They looked just the same as they had on me, and I resolved to track down a pair. But as we all know, the cocktail of a beautiful, affordable shoe on the foot of a world-renowned fashion blogger equals just one thing: total sell out.

To this day, I still have pangs of regret that I don't own those shoes. Even if I'd never worn them (which I would have), they could simply have been a thing to admire. Until that day that they appear on ebay for anything less than double, and sometimes triple the price, I'll have to content myself with those fleeting moments that shoe and shoe lover were one.

Do you have a similar story? Which item do you regret missing out on?


Craft: Painted Eggs

I'm looking out of the window at the falling snow and feeling very satisfied that my day involves nothing more challenging than relaxing and staying cosy under my favourite knitted blanket. These weekend snow days feel so decadent!

Although the weather doesn't feel much like spring, easter is just around the corner. My plans involve an annual road trip for a friend's birthday, and preparing for this relatively new tradition made me think of some old ones: notably, painting eggs when I was little. This was one of my favourite things to do, and I'd spend hours focused on painting the perfect face, my name, some flowers or anything else that inspired me. It's a great activity for kids, but a search on Pinterest turned up some ideas that I may be tempted to try out...

How amazing are these Lichtenstein-inspired eggs? I'm not sure any attempts I make will turn out so well, but they'd certainly be fun to try. You could use any artist as inspiration - maybe a bit of Mark Rothko for an easier start!


I love these chalkboard painted eggs, and am already thinking of planning a dinner party just so I can use them as place markers. These would be great to make with children as you need fewer eggs for unlimited designs. Throw in some different coloured chalk and the possibilities are endless.


Finally, I think these moustache eggs are so fun. I'm going to scribble a few of these onto boiled eggs in the morning next time I have friends over to stay and see who's awake enough to notice!

Are you tempted to try any of these out?


Life: Creating Space

I don't know about you, but over the past few years, I have so often been guilty of criticising myself for the things I've neglected, left undone or just plain forgotten. A much-needed night spent quietly at home somehow becomes a missed opportunity for doing something constructive, seeing friends or even blogging (generally the first thing to be neglected!), and it's soon apparent that there is no peace in anything.

Recently, however, I've found that I've been able to completely let myself off the hook for the choices I make, and in so doing, I've opened up space for the kind of peace and contentment that I can't ever remember feeling: it's fantastic!

This feeling has coincided with discovering the wonderful Tara Stiles, otherwise known as the 'Yoga Rebel'. My yoga practice has never advanced especially far, and I have been one of the many people who've tried every branch of yoga yet never quite found anything that delivers on the promise of calmness of spirit combined with perfect posture. Tara's approach is to go only where your body allows you, using your breath to create a little more space with each exhale. After four days of practice with Tara's videos, my breathing and heartbeat have slowed at the same rate that my overwhelming sense of calm has increased. My arms are showing new definition, and I'm managing to get into postures I never thought possible, all because the pressure to create the 'picture of the pose' has been removed. I read a wonderful passage on Tara's blog where she explained that when we achieve something with the help of somebody else, we often want to give them all the credit when really, we've always been capable of the change on our own. It's reminded me that my capacity to enjoy my life is all within me, and that adding unnecessary pressures and focusing on the negatives doesn't achieve anything. From now on, if it makes me happy, it's the right thing to do!

How do you create space in your life?

You can read more about Tara (and see her videos) here.


Style: Apple Latte Gold Jewellery

Browsing Etsy occasionally turns up the most stunningly talented people and the most covetable things. I stumbled across Apple Latte after a friend at work wore an adorable Pac Man necklace. She couldn't remember the seller's name, but a quick search brought up this wonderful shop, and added a whole list of beautiful pieces to my wish list, starting from under £10. Want, want, want!

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