Tuesday, 27 May 2014

& Other Stories: Bath & Body

I was in London at the weekend and just couldn't resist nipping in to my favourite
 ever store, & Other Stories. For those of you that haven't heard of the brand before, it is a
 sister label of H&M (and a very chic one at that) along with Cheap Monday and COS. 
& Other Stories is stripped back and more high end than H&M, but still remains relatively
 affordable. The style is simple, clean cut yet still very original.

When in an & Other Stories store I always find myself spending hours in their beauty department. 
They have their own make up, skincare and bath ranges, all of which look as elegant as each other.
I'm particularly taken by their compact powders and blushers as they have a Shakespeare quote from Romeo & Juliet etched into them. Cool huh?
When I was in their Regent Street store on Saturday I couldn't resist picking up a couple of bits
 from their bath & body range. After taking my time and having a good old sniff of pretty much 
everything they have to offer I went for the Frozen Verbena Body Scrub and the 

All of the & Other Stories body scrubs are amazing as they are really abrasive, so I chose 
Frozen Verbena based on scent alone. The scrub is made up of sugar, which I like as I try to 
avoid plastic based scrubs for environmental reasons. The fragrance of this scrub is refreshing,
 light and slightly floral as it has notes of lime, basil, verbena and geranium. So far after using this
 scrub just a couple of times I am really impressed with the way it polishes the skin and leaves it 
feeling silky smooth. 

I picked up the Lemon Daydream Hand Soap as I thought the bottle would look great next to
 my sink, and I was not wrong. However, after giving this gorgeous hand soap a try I was
 completely blown away. The fresh, citrus fragrance lingers on the skin for ages and leaves you
 feeling really cleansed. Lemon, grapefruit and pear notes all make up this deliciously refreshing
 hand soap.All of the & Other Stories bath & body range is paraben free, which for me is
 another great appeal to these products. I guess the only thing I don't like about both of these
 products is that I will have to wait until I'm in London again to stock up.

Have you tried any beauty products from & Other Stories?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Blow Ltd: The Beach Blow

I have spent the last couple of days in our beautiful capital city, London. After hearing so much
 about Blow Ltd and their speedy beauty services I was determined to get myself booked
 in for a slice of the action. 

Blow Ltd describe themselves as being the home of fast beauty, and they really do live up to this.
 They offer hair, nails and make up updates at affordable prices and in no time at all.
Located in the Covent Garden area of London, it is clear to see from the outset that Blow Ltd
 is not just your average beauty salon. The aesthetics are cool yet understated and everything in there
 is on-trend and up to date.

When I entered Blow Ltd I was greeted by Tanya, my stylist, who sat my down and talked me
 through the menu. For me the menu really is the coolest part of the whole Blow Ltd experience
 as it offers the opportunity to show the stylist exactly what you want out of your blow dry. 
I opted for the beach blow as I was going to a gig later that day (to see the Arctic Monkeys
 at Finsbury Park no less) and wanted something nice and casual. Tanya noticed straight away that 
my hair is a little brittle at the moment and so used the Kerastase reconstructing shampoo
 and conditioner. After washing my hair my stylist took me over to the blow bar where she began
 to dry and create those beachy waves. It took me aback a little when Tanya pointed to an iPad
 mini in front of me and said 'there's some magazines on there if you would like to take a look'.
 Before I knew it I was flicking through the pages of the latest Elle magazine on a tablet, which
 gave Blow Ltd even more cool points in my books.

When my blow dry was finished (in 30 mins flat) Tanya asked me what I thought.
 I had honestly never seen my hair looking so big, voluptuous and glossy. I was impressed!
Tanya assured me that the waves should last well into the evening, and boy was she right.
 My beach waves lasted a good 8 hours, and I think they would have gone longer if it wasn't
 for the beer being thrown around at the gig.
The whole experience was quick but at no point ever felt rushed, which to me seems perfect in a
 city that is constantly on the go. I cannot recommend Blow Ltd enough and next time I'm in London
 I will be booking in to try another great option from their menu.

Have you visited Blow Ltd? What did you try?

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Weekend Eats: Cow & Co

This weekend me and Harry decided to make the most of the glorious weather and head
 out on our bikes for brunch. We decided to try Cow & Co, which is just a two minute walk
 away from the hustle and bustle of Liverpool One.

Cow & Co is a quirky little shop that stocks anything from stationary to kitchenware, and 
everything they sell is designed to perfection. They have recently transformed the ground floor
 of the store into a cafe and, after hearing good things, I decided it was next on my 'places to try' list.
Both me and Harry decided to go for a bagel, and they were pretty great choices. Mine was
 goats cheese and home made pesto, and Harry opted for the cheese, ham and pickle. 
We both also agreed that the cappuccino was the best we had ever tasted (quite a statement
 coming from us)! The greatest part of the cafe itself was its extensive magazine collection. 
There is a whole wall full of cool, alternative magazines to read including my particular
 favourite, Oh Comely. 

Although I loved Cow & Co it is definitely a place to go for a coffee and a small bite
 to eat, and not a meal. The relaxed atmosphere of the cafe was so lovely, and sitting outside
 in the sunshine we completely forgot that we were in the center of Liverpool. I will be visiting 
again for sure, even if it is just for their perfect coffee.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Home Bakes: Peanut Butter Bites

If you like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups you are going to absolutely love this recipe!
When I was at a training day recently with work one of my colleagues had baked little these
 little treats for us all. After my first mouthful I was hooked and just had to find out the recipe. 
The recipe is actually one of Nigella's and is so quick and simple to do. 

These little peanut butter bites are perfect with a cup of tea, and even make a lovely gift for 
those with a sweet tooth.


For the base
50g muscovado sugar
200g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
200g smooth organic peanut butter

For the topping
200g milk chocolate
100g plain chocolate
1 tbsp unsalted butter


- Stir all of the base ingredients together in a large mixing bowl either by hand or with an electric 
food mixer. I find this part a little messy as the icing sugar gets everywhere so prefer to
 do it by hand.

- Once the mixture has come together and has a very sandy consistency you can press it into
 a lined brownie tin. Nigella says 'it is quite satisfying seeing the gentle finger indentations in the
 soft, rich mixture' but I'm not sure I agree. What ever tickles your fancy Nigella.

- To make the topping I melt all of the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling
 water on a low heat. Stir this mixture regularly until there are no lumps left.

- Spread the chocolate mixture on to the base and then pop the tin in the fridge to set. 
When spreading on the chocolate mixture I like to leave it looking a little rough around the edges, 
but if you prefer a smooth finish just use the back of a spoon to spread evenly. 

- The chocolate mixture sets fairly quickly, and once completely hardened you can cut up into
 little squares and enjoy. I cut the squares pretty unevenly to give a rustic feel but you could be
 more precise if you prefer.

Will you be trying this recipe? I would love to know your thoughts!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Yes To Grapefruit Daily Facial Scrub

Grapefruit Daily Facial Scrub, Yes To, £6.99

Yes To are a company that I have only recently become familiar with. I first caught 
wind of them during a Twitter bloggers chat and was intrigued to find out more. I began looking 
into the company as I'm a total skincare addict, but like to keep it all as natural as I possibly can.
Yes To make sure that all of their products are at least 95% natural and paraben, petroleum and
 SLS free. Plus, all the packaging is completely recyclable and the products themselves are cruelty free.
 You don't get skincare better than that, surely?

So, after finding out more about Yes To and their natural skincare range I headed to my nearest
 Boots store to check out the range in the flesh. I was in need of a new facial scrub and was immediately
 drawn to this one from their grapefruit range. My skin tone is pretty uneven and prone to blemishes,
 so this daily scrub seemed perfect for me. 

I have been using this grapefruit facial scrub for around two weeks now and I am really pleased
 with it. Not only does this scrub smell ridiculously fresh, it also evens skin tone and enhances
 luminosity. Made with lemon balm, this scrub helps to calm and repair damaged skin, whilst the 
grapefruit oil brightens and moisturises. After the first use my skin looked brighter and fresher,
 and I could really notice a difference. Although this is a daily facial scrub I try and use it just once
 a week as my skin doesn't need scrubbing too often. Overall, I am really impressed with this scrub
 and am looking to venture further into the Yes To skincare range.

Have you tried anything from Yes To? What did you think?

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

How running taught me to challenge myself

On Sunday I took part in, and completed, the Liverpool Spring 10K race. This is something I never thought I would be able to do as my fitness levels used to be terrible. There once was a time where I couldn't 
even run on the treadmill for 2 minutes without getting ridiculously out of breath, and feeling like
 I had to stop. I would never thought a year ago that I would be able to run non-stop for a whole
 hour like I did on Sunday. I especially did not expect to enjoy the race quite like I did!
As a result I have found myself wanting to apply for another race in a few months time,
 despite the huge blisters on my feet from Sunday.
So far my running journey has taught me a lot about how to challenge myself and achieve
 my goals. I find running really mentally tough, but in the long run (no pun intended) I always
 end up with a clear, anxiety free mind. Realising that I can push myself to run further than ever
 before has only encouraged me to try and apply this success to other areas of my life. 
Understanding that your mind gives up before your legs do is key to accomplishing your goals
 when out on a run. I find motivational quotes really inspiring before I go out to run
 (or hit the gym) and Pinterest is particularly good for this. I have created a health & fitness
 inspiration board on Pinterest and always check back to this when I need a little lift.

So, what are you waiting for? Get those trainers on and go run!
 Even if it is just for five minutes, you will thank me later.

Monday, 5 May 2014

The Self Preservation Society

Lush Cosmetics are a company that famously pride themselves on their natural, ethical
 and handmade products.Where possible Lush try to use only the finest natural and
 organic ingredients in their cosmetics, but do allow for the occasional safe synthetic.
 The safe synthetics (such as methylparaben and propylparaben) are used in cosmetics 
as preservatives to give products that contain water a longer shelf life.
Lush recognised that, although they are deemed to be safe, lots of people don't like to
 use parabens for many different reasons. They are now working on taking their
 range from 70% self preserving to 100%, and have started by adapting some of the most
 loved Lush products.

Dream Cream is up hailed as the best Lush product for many, many people. The incredibly
 soothing ingredients of this hand and body lotion make it great for those who suffer with
 dry skin, eczema or psoriasis. The new self-preserved version of Dream Cream has been
 cleverly re-formulated to provide the same effects as the original for even the most sensitive
 skins. The product inventors at Lush have reduced the amount of water in this product and
 replaced it with a higher olive oil and glycerine content. This has given the formula a richer
 consistency but, as it took 98 attempts to get it right, rest assured this is still the Dream Cream
 you know and love.

Good news! Ocean Salt  has not only become self-preserving but also vegan too. To make
 this well loved face and body scrub self-preserving the inventors removed the two
 parabens and three synthetic emulsifiers that were in the original formula. These safe synthetics
 have been replaced with more fine sea salt and glycerine, as both are natural preservatives and
 mango butter and lanolin were added to the mixture to soften and soothe. The product is thickened 
with the added japan wax and avocado butter, which in turn prevents the onset of bacteria.
If I'm really honest I do prefer the original version of Ocean Salt to the self-preserving as ironically
 this one smells a little fake. I also prefer the coarse sea salt used in the original formula , but despite
 this both versions work just as well as each other at brightening the complexion.

Mask of Magnaminty is probably my favourite of all these four products. This face and back mask
 is great at unclogging pores and giving the skin a really deep cleanse. To make this a winning 
self-preserving formula Lush have replaced the synthetic preservatives with a higher honey,
 kaolin and glycerine content. When I tried this mask I really noticed a difference in the way 
my skin felt compared to the original formula. Whilst on the face my skin didn't tingle as much
 as usual, which may be due to less peppermint oil, but when I rinsed it off my skin felt smooth
 and supple. To me this self-preserving formula is much better than the original and has quickly
 become one of my favourite Lush products.

 Sympathy for the Skin is the final product released in the recent self-preserving range at Lush. 
This hand and body lotion, which I think smells of cake batter, is a firm favourite due to its
 beautifully light banana and vanilla fragrance. Again, there is less water in this body lotion and
 it has been replaced with a higher almond oil and glycerine content. The self-preserving version
 of this body lotion is much thicker and richer, so if you are looking for a really emollient cream 
this is the one for you.

All in all it is great that Lush are offering their customers the option of using products free
 of safe-synthetics. It is important to note that both the originals and the new self-preserving
 formulas will be available in stores and online.

Do you try to stay paraben free?

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Ingredient Focus: Avocado

After my previous ingredient focus post on honey (which you can find here) I had a few people
 tell me that they found it really interesting, and asked whether I would be doing any similar posts.
 I hope to do a whole series of these posts, and so I decided to focus on the benefits of avocado 
for the second ingredient focus post.

Avocado, delicious in its own right, has many benefits for both the skin and the hair. The good fats
 contained in avocados provide many nutrients including vitamins A, B, C and E as well as 
minerals such as iron and potassium. With many health benefits they really are a super food, but I'm
 going to tell you how avocados can help us look great on the outside as well as feeling good on 
the inside. 

Skin: When used as a butter (produced from the flesh of the avocado) the fruit is very hydrating
 as it softens and soothes the skin. If your skin is a little thirsty it will drink up the moisturising
 properties of avocado and will certainly thank you for it later. Avocado also contains
 antioxidants which help protect against free radicals and in turn eliminates wrinkles and prevents
 premature signs of ageing. Avocado oil is also thought to be great for reducing the visibility 
of age spots, fine lines and scarring. All in all avocado is pretty much your skins best friend.

Hair: Avocado oil has been used for centuries in products such as hair conditioners and masks
 as it is nutrient rich and restores health. Dry, brittle hair will benefit from avocado oil as it is
 rich, nourishing and softening. The oil increases the tensile strength of the hair (that is how far you 
can pull it before it snaps) as well as adding a gorgeous shine. 

This healthy, natural ingredient is basically a health and beauty marvel, particularly for those 
with dry or ageing skin. Will you be incorporating avocado based products into your beauty routine? 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

My Everyday Make Up Routine

I love doing my make up but as I work 9-6 five days a week I soon found that I needed to
 discover a lasting but quick and simple daily make up routine. I like to keep my day to day
 make up routine simple and my face looking natural, so I keep the amount of products I
 use to a minimum. I decided to show you my everyday make up routine, as I am quite
 boring and stick to the same thing every day.

Face: After prepping my skin with a morning cleanse and moisturise routine I apply the Revlon Photoready
 Skinlights Face Illuminator in Pink Light. I use this to brighten up my skin as it leaves a dewy finish.
Then I use my Real Techniques Expert Face brush to buff the Nars Tinted Moisturiser, in Finland,
 into my skin. The Expert Face brush is a bit of a cult classic in the beauty world, and personally
I have never used anything that has left such an even finish with my foundation. As the weather is
 getting warmer I recently switched from foundation to the Nars Tinted Moisturiser as it is lighter
 and has a high SPF. I finish off my my face makeup by lightly dusting on the Illamasqua 
Translucent Loose Powder using the Mac Duo Fibre Face Brush. Then, using the same
brush, I lightly sweep the Illamasqua  Powder Blusher in Naked Rose over the apples of my
cheeks and up along my cheekbones.

Eyes: After finishing my face I then move on to my eyes and usually start with my brows. I use
 the Illamasqua Eyebrow Cake in Thunder and the Benefit Hard Angle Brush to lightly fill in my
eyebrows and give them definition. I find a powder gives more of a natural finish than a pencil
when it comes to perfect brows. Then I apply a very light dusting of Mac Vanilla Pigment
 (this is such a wonder product!) over the top of the eyelid using the Real Techniques Base 
Shadow Brush . I don't like to wear eye shadow every day but I find that the vanilla pigment
opens up the eye and leaves it looking brighter, which I am all for. I finish off my eyes with a
few coats of Loreal Miss Manga Mascara in Black on both my top and bottom lashes.

Lips: On a day to day basis my make up look is very natural, and so I like to choose a lip
 colour to reflect this. I usually opt for the Mac Matte Lipstick in Kinda Sexy as the shade
 is a neutral pinky-rose and blends well with the rest of my daytime make up look. I love
 the matte look of this lipstick but it can sometimes be a little drying so I finish the whole thing
 off with a dab of the Lush Cosmetics Honey Trap lip balm as is is nourishing and hydrating.

What is your daily make up routine like? Do you use any of these products?