Beauty: Seventeen Doll'd Up Mascara and 3-Way Liner

Has anyone else been obsessing about three-dot liners, yet finding themselves unable to justify the Clarins investment? I mean, can't we make do with a bit of eyeshadow underneath our eyes or a bit of smudgy kohl? Do we really need an eyeliner that fills in the gaps at the base of our lashes?

Yes. Yes we do.

After reading a few reviews of the Clarins and Bourjois products, and contemplated why I was so late to the party, I emerged from the tube and walked zombie-like into Boots. I wasn't thinking especially clearly, I was just compelled to buy. The Bourjois one was nowhere to be seen. A little dejected that an investment in something that I was pretty sure I didn't really need but had to have was required, I walked back toward the door and the Clarins counter when something caught my eye. I needed to repurchase the Seventeen  BB cream (now with SPF 25 - well done, that brand!) and there in front of me was a three dot liner, free with purchase of Seventeen's new Doll'd Up mascara. I don't need mascara. I never need mascara. Did I care? No way. Nothing would stand between me and my three dot liner. Off I went to the till and the rest is happy history.

Firstly, Seventeen have been extremely canny here. There is huge hype surrounding these liners, and yet this one is currently only available when purchased with the mascara. Would I ever have considered buying a Seventeen mascara? Not a chance. Rimmel and Maybelline launch something new and I'm all over it, yet a Seventeen launch would easily pass me by. Also, note that I'm writing Seventeen rather than 17. A stealthy re-branding has been happening over the past year and the culmination is some pretty covetable and accessible products. It's a lot more than can be said of when I was a teenager! (Blue eyeshadow and orange foundation, anyone?)

So, what do I think of them? The three-dot liner is, without doubt, one of the greatest makeup inventions of my lifetime (I don't overestimate, I promise!) Dotted along the lashline, it gives subtle definition, but that definition is so perfect in its subtlety that it's somewhere close to mind-boggling. Why hasn't this been thought of before? Full on black eyeliner seems too harsh for the day (apologies to the sisters Middleton) but these dots makes eyes look wide awake and perfectly made up. It's also entirely fool proof, and having applied on a bumpy tube, I still emerged with it looking perfect. How many of us could say the same for our favourite gel or liquid liners? And it lasts all day. Please, don't anybody wake me up from this eyeliner dream. Oh, you can also draw lines with it, but if you ask me, all you need is dots.

And the mascara? Colour me surprised (and colour my lashes a lovely black!). I have recently consigned an Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme to my 'maybe I'll use this again one day but probably never will' drawer due to it's propensity to clump and a new Clinique mascara that looked great on my Mum is sadly lacking for me. Doll'd Up? I've worn it every day since I got it. It's a fantastic daytime mascara - lashes are lengthened, gently curled, and you can build it up without it clumping. I'd want a little more drama for night, but this is perfect for daytime, and you know, I wouldn't hesitate to try whatever they put out next.

Finally, a plea. Seventeen: whatever you do, make the Doll'd Up 3-way liner a part of your range. Let us buy it for years to come. And moreover, keep doing what you're doing. It's fantastic.

Doll'd Up is available now in Boots for £6.29 with the 3-way liner free with purchase. Now you've finished reading, go forth and buy!

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Workspace: Personalised Address Stamp

Living in London when so many of my friends and all my family are back in Manchester means that staying in touch becomes even more important. Receiving christmas cards always makes me realise how nice it is to get something in the post other than bills and junk mail, so I'm going to treat myself to one of these personalised address stamps and some lovely stationery so there's never an excuse not to write when I think of a friend. Texting may be quick, but with something so beautiful, the lost-art of letter writing could be on it's way to a comeback.

Stamp available here for £12.61


Travel: Hotel Daniel, Vienna

Although I haven't made any new year's resolutions, I want to start making better use of my holidays and visit some new destinations. Last year was incredibly busy, and I was stunned when I got to December, checked my calendar and realised that I still had ten days holiday left: shocking!

So, to remedy that, I'm going to start posting about some most beautiful hotels in the cities that are high on my 'to visit' list in the hope that it will inspire me to book some flights. First off, Vienna!

I came across the Hotel Daniel in Elle Decoration a few months ago and have been haunting their website ever since. Everyone I know who has been to Vienna says it's the most beautiful city, and this hotel looks like the perfect base from which to explore it.

Who wouldn't want a hammock in their bedroom?

Beautiful copper pot for afternoon kaffee und kuchen. Yum

.And if that wasn't good enough, they keep bees. How cool.

Rooms at the Daniel start from 92 Euro. Their gorgeous website can be found here.


Skincare: Glycolic Skincare Review

I'm no skincare expert, but I certainly know what I like. One thing that has slipped pretty easily into my night time routine over the past few months is a once-a-week glycolic application, and it seems to be having a rather nice effect on my 30 year old chops.

Glycolic acid gets rid of dead skin cells and targets those pesky first signs of ageing - pretty much music to my ears. Most are marketed as being gentle enough for frequent use but as it's an acid, I tend to find once a week is sufficient. 

I'm alternating between two products at the moment - REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate and Bliss That's Incredi-'peel'! pads. 

The Bliss pads are a higher 'spa strength' concentration and need to be followed with a moisturiser a few minutes after application. REN advises to follow application with the serum in the range but I have to confess that I've just used it on its own before bed and all has been well. Waking up to radiant skin that lasts for the next few days makes these products the perfect investment for me.
At the moment, I'm using REN at home and pack the Bliss sachets for nights away. The slight fiddly opening of the Bliss sachets is the only thing that has pushed them slightly behind REN for convenience, but I would always want to have a supply of these at home to pack for holidays as they take up zero space.

One thing to be aware of when using glycolic is that you must use an SPF for a few days after your treatment (that said, you're hopefully using an SPF everyday anyway, so won't need to do anything extra!)

REN AHA Resurfacing Concentrate is £30 and available here.
Bliss That's Incredi-'peel'! pads are £39 and available here.


Hair: Updated Routine and Reviews

Image from http://www.babble.com/home/rifle-paper-co-prints-for-the-powder-room/

Miraculous things have happened to my hair over the past few months. I bit the bullet and had about four inches off the length at the beginning of September. This followed me taking my permanent blow dry custom back from Trevor Sorbie (disappointing) to Daniel Hersheson (amazing). In the intervening months, I've tried some new products, thrown in a few supplements, adapted my diet, and changed up my routine a little bit. The result? Unprecedented growth, shine, and most exciting of all, no split ends (it's been seven weeks since my cut and normally we're seeing signs around week five!) So, what's in and what's out?


I've read so much about Phillip Kingsley's Elasticizer over the years and yet weirdly, I've only tried it in the past few months. All I can say is that if you haven't tried it yet, don't wait another minute. Applied to damp hair for 20 minutes before you shampoo, it leaves hair silky, revitalised and strengthened. I had the privilege of meeting the man himself a few weeks ago and he told me the story of how he created this wonderful product for Audrey Hepburn, who tried it, loved it and used it for the rest of her life. My life isn't quite as glamorous, but anything that brings me a little closer to Audrey can only be a good thing.


My criteria for shampoo is that it should be as natural as possible and SLS-free, which means it's all round more gentle on hair. Australian Natural Botanicals is a new player on the market and the divinely scented shampoos and conditioners are 98% natural. I've tried both the normal and dry shampoos and have found them both excellent. Dry would be my usual choice, but the scent of the normal shampoo is so delicious and the results lovely and lustrous, they're both contenders.


Ojon's Damage Reverse has been my staple over the past few months, closely followed by Philip Kingsley Moisture Extreme. Both are rich, moisturising and beautifully scented - perfect for hair that needs a bit of extra TLC.


Toni & Guy's Heat Protection spray has well and truly replaced Aussie's Take The Heat. Both are great products but T&G just seems to have given my hair weeks longer between cuts, making me think the defence is a little more robust. It also has a great little button on the head to stop it leaking if you pack it and I now have a bottle in the three places I'm ever likely to be styling my hair!

Tara Smith's Shining Moment Glossing Spray is a complete revelation to me. Another of the recent M&S beauty hall additions, it gives mega watt gloss without weighing hair down. The beautiful botanical scent means it's gender neutral (I observed a bewildered man being spritzed by Tara and then admiring his newly sheeny crop!) and the product really performs.

Supplements and diet

After reading an article in Elle magazine, I've been taking biotin, cod liver oil and vitamin B12 for two months. It apparently takes three months to see results in your hair, but the unusually quick growth makes me think these additions to my routine are already contributing.

Besides this, I've added more good fats to my diet, including oily fish, ground flaxseed (added to porridge) and avocado. This has been a constant in my routine for five months and after years of low fat eating and what I thought was naturally dry hair, my new growth is glossy and silky: to say I'm delighted is an understatement!


Interiors: Kooky Display Cloche Ideas

For a while I've been desperate to get my hands on some display cloches and always think that the weirder the contents are, the better the effect. I have a big square shelving unit from Ikea to fill with books and some other interesting pieces as part of my reading nook project and I think a few cloches would make a really fun display.

I'd love to rig up my sunglasses like this but I'm sure I'd just end up with lots of empty jars!
Image from http://pinterest.com/Optigirls/
Part of me also wants to curate strange little scenes under a cloche, and I was browsing on Etsy for a little brass deer figurine for a woodland idea and came across the weirdest thing which I now think I have to have!

Isn't it bizarre?! This is marketed as a wedding cake topper and I found myself trying to imagine what kind of bride and groom would go for something like this on their cake! It's so odd that I can't stop looking at it and I can't decide if it's meant to be ironic (I hope so) but there's something about it that I think is so weirdly brilliant that it may find itself under a cloche on my shelves sometime soon!

If you've got the same weird taste as me, you can find the deer statue (and some even stranger ones!) here.


Interiors: Jewellery Organisation

How absolutely stunning is this branch jewellery stand from Branchidermy? I've been looking for something to display my ever-expanding accessory collection, but I'd be worried about spoiling its beauty by covering it with sparkly bits! So beautiful.

Available here for £47.75. 


Hair: January Empties - James Brown Intensive Moisture Mask and Tara Smith Shine On Review

Returning back to London after the Christmas break is always a little hectic. The bump back to reality is a bit of a shock to the system, and somehow, I managed to exacerbate that upheaval by leaving my shower filled with empty hair products: bad blogger! What we can learn from this event is that a) I'm occasionally lazy b) there were some good products in that shower! 

And here they are - Tara Smith's Shine On shampoo and conditioner and James Brown Intensive Moisture Mask.

First up, James Brown. This conditioner is lovely and rich, beautifully scented, and easily translatable to an everyday conditioner. My hair is naturally dry and quite thick, and so I like something deeply nourishing to follow my daily shampoo: this delivers perfectly on that front. If your hair is less dry, this would be perfect as a weekly treat.

Next up, Tara Smith. I have met Tara a couple of times and think she's a star. Passionate, innovative and utterly driven to deliver on products that meet her high ethical standards, as well as giving us the movie star hair she's renowned for. The range - which comprises four shampoos and conditioners and some wonderful styling products - is entirely vegan and SLS-free. Tara recommended the Shine On duo for me and I happily zipped through the fabulous travel-size bottles in a couple of weeks. It does exactly what it says on the bottle

These products will now absolutely be my go-to for when I'm travelling, rather than fussing over decanting my larger products into dinky bottles. Perfect!

Tara Smith is available at Marks & Spencer (link!), with the range starting at £5 for travel size bottles.

James Brown Intensive Moisture Mask is available from Boots (link!) for £8.16, but is on 2 for £8 at the moment, so grab a bargain!

Interiors: Home Fragrance - White Company Noir, Bahoma Jasmine and Cristal Review

Having a beautifully-scented home is a bit of an obsession of mine. Whether it's the fresh, post-Saturday cleaning smell when sheets have been changed, floors mopped and wood polished, the aroma of a particularly beautiful bath oil wafting along the hall after a hot bath, or a deliciously rich casserole in the winter, there will never be a moment when I'm not aware of the smell of my home.

My flat is decorated entirely in warm neutrals with dark wood and lots of soft lighting, so I like to alter the scents from room to room to create different moods. Writing this down, it seems quite mad, but it's something that gives me huge pleasure and makes my home feel like a luxurious sanctuary. I vary my use of candles, oils and diffusers depending on the time of year (candles in summer often seem a bit pointless as their soft glow is wasted on light evenings) and the following are a few of my favourites:

Bahoma, Cristal 

Cristal is currently in my hallway and provides a beautifully rich, spicy, chypre scent. A very seductive, sophisticated fragrance and the diffuser lasts an amazing six months.

The White Company, Noir

I can't describe this scent any better than The White Company do on their website so I'll hand over to them:

The ultimate scent to relax and revitalise body and mind. Glamorous, sensual Noir combines exotic amber and fresh, fruity mandarin with sophisticated oriental white orchid. Combining all the benefits of revitalising ginseng and stimulating green tea, these wonderfully relaxing and restorative treats will re-energise body and mind to promote a deep sense of wellbeing.

I've never found it difficult to spend time in a candlelit bath but the combination of the Noir bath oil and candle make me feel like I've been transported to a luxurious spa, and hour long baths have become a nightly experience. Possibly one of my most favourite fragrances, and it is just as relaxing as they describe.

Bahoma, Jasmine

Jasmine was my first Bahoma fragrance and is still very much loved. Given that I have an open-plan sitting and dining room, it's important not to have a scent that dominates. This provides the perfect gentle floral that is so delicate, it just blends perfectly to create a wonderfully relaxing environment.

What are your favourite home fragrances?


Wear It At Work: Statement Shoes

I've set up a new board over on Pinterest of some of my favourite office looks and the one thing I'm noticing is the abundance of amazing court shoes that I seem to be coveting! I tend to wear some black velvet slipper-style flats from Zara for commuting and change into my favourite black Max Mara courts when I get in. It's starting to feel like shoe-Groundhog day!

Slightly edited image from here
We had the first flickers of sunlight in London today, and it's got me thinking about summer shoes, and with a Zara voucher burning a hole in my pocket, I'm definitely investing in these gorgeous things. 

I know, they're still black, but they're just so beautiful. It may be another few months before we venture outside together (cold toes just aren't chic), but come the summer, and with a gorgeous pedicure, I can't wait to step out in these.

Shoes available for £49.99 here.


Skincare: Luxtural Skin Care

Luxtural, Luxtural. Where do I begin?

I was lucky enough to attend an event with Luxtural's creator, Pnina Vilinsky, in autumn last year. After a one-to-one consultation with the former Sisley and Estee Lauder skincare maestro, I walked away with a bag containing the full Luxtural range and wearing a smile after Pnina guessed my age as 25 when I'm actually 30. Is there a better way to spend an hour after work?

Before I say anything else, the Luxtural range is expensive, the three products totaling £438. That said, I'm at the age where anti-ageing is at the top of my skincare concerns, and not being particularly pro-botox, any non-surgical option to hold back those first signs of ageing is something that I'm constantly on the look out for.

All that said, it's a lot of money, so my testing had to be rigorous. I started out using all three products - the Hydrating Rainy Mist, Silk Premonition moisturiser and Sophisticated Veil serum - and within a week, my skin felt like silk and was glowing. My morning skincare routine was transformed into a luxurious pampering session with the first spritz of the beautifully scented mist, and I love that the layering of these luxurious products has never felt like a routine activity but something to be savoured.

The products are so deeply hydrating, that after the first week and on Pnina's recommendation, I found that I didn't need to use them in the evening, so reverted to my usual night cream and just used Luxtural in the morning. After three weeks, I felt I finally had the beautiful skin I'd always wanted. At four weeks, I stopped using the products.

'Why?', you're probably wondering. Well, here I was, skin radiant with the kind of glow I don't think I'd ever seen, and I wanted to make darn sure that it was down to these products. If I'm going to face a lifetime of this kind of investment, I needed to be certain they were responsible! Sure enough, over the course of the next two weeks, I watched my skin get duller as that luminosity ebbed away. At the end of my self-imposed Luxtural ban, I leapt out of bed and made for the products. As soon as I breathed in the scent of the Rainy Mist, I knew the glow wasn't far away.

Pnina advised that some of her clients use just one or two of the products, but for me, using all three together has provided the best results. Beyond the quality of the products, the packaging looks and feels luxurious which is absolutely what you'd expect from the price point (and what some more expensive ranges don't deliver). I can't deny that it's a huge amount of money, but for those of you who are reaching that age and are thinking about making a serious investment in skincare, I can't recommend this more highly. Rather than botox and corrective treatments, treating your skin to deep hydration will keep it looking young and healthy and for me, will always be a much better investment. I know not everyone will be able to spend this kind of money, but if you are thinking about dabbling in the high end skincare market, this is an absolutely incredible place to start. I don't say this lightly, but this range has completely changed my skin, and I can't look back from here.

Luxtural is available from Fenwicks.

For my policy on declaring PR samples, click here.


Style: Topshop Studded Bag

My one and only sale purchase this year is this gorgeous studded suede and leather bag from Topshop. Even better, it was only £20! If only all sale shopping ended this happily.


Interiors: Reading Nook

Having rearranged my sitting room, I now have a cute little recess that will serve as a perfect reading nook. All that's stopping my Kobo and I from moving in is the current lack of an armchair big enough for snuggling up in and losing myself for hours. My Pinterest board has a range of inspirations so all that's left to decide is....

Do I go calm and cosy?

Cool and modern?

Or sleek and retro?


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