Tuesday, 25 February 2014

{Birchbox Beauty Winners: Face & Body Care}

Do any of you lovely people subscribe to a Beauty Box? Sometimes you'll discover an incredible product, and sometimes you'll get a real dud - that's a risk you take and part of the fun in a strange way! I've been hooked on Birchbox for a while now, so I thought I'd share some of my absolute favourites from the many, many boxes I've received. Here are the Face & Body Care winners...

B/Attitude Body Souffle (£24/200ml): I received this sample around the time I escaped to Greece last summer, so it came along with me. I don't know about you, but I'm quite fussy when it comes to body moisturiser - especially in the summer. One of the best feelings in the world involves returning from a long, hot day at the beach, jumping in a cool shower to wash off all that sand & seawater, and sitting outside, wrapped in a soft white towel, while you gently moisturise your freshly sun-kissed skin. 
However, if the moisturiser is too heavy it'll just sit there (making you look like Casper the Ghost) - too light and your skin won't have that wonderfully hydrated feeling. This body soufflé definitely lives up to its name - the moisturiser is whipped into a cream that looks good enough to eat, feels amazingly light and yet does the job properly. Lather some of this stuff on and your skin will feel silky smooth & soft all evening long, guaranteed. It also smells amazing (part of the reason I'd really like to eat it)!

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle (£15/236ml): When it comes to beauty products I have to admit I tend to judge a book bottle by its cover. So when this little red bottle arrived I wasn't exactly convinced. It didn't look luxurious, which is what I look for when it comes to my precious hair. I have incredibly thick hair which, especially when long, is prone to tangling. 


I whacked this bad boy out the morning after a night of hairspray & jagerbombs in equal measure, and now I'm hooked. It is honestly amazing, it'll detangle the most stubborn of knots and makes your hair look super shiny and frizz-free. I'll never judge before trying again. Armed with my Tangle Teezer and my little red bottle, my hair can conquer the world!

RMK Cleansing Balm (£29/100g): Trying this cleansing balm was kind of a curse as well as a blessing, because now I feel like I can't go back to any of my usual, cheap cleansers. Honestly, I'd call cleansing with this little pot more of an experience than a simple ritual. OK I'm exaggerating for (minimal) comic effect, but I do always look forward to my evening make-up removal with RMK.


When I received this product I also read some advice for how to apply:


1. Take a grape size amount of the balm and massage into your face and neck for 30 seconds, or until you feel the balm start to liquidise.
2. Then take a hot cloth and press this to your face, breathing deeply three times. 
3. Repeat twice and follow with cold cloth compress before patting dry. Follow with your serum or moisturiser.
I would seriously recommend trying this, as just taking this little time out to breathe will help you relax and unwind. In our busy lives, we tend to rush around without pausing to take stock - so cleansing is a great time to do this. Afterwards, I walk around with a little glow and a big old smile, feeling very smug and zen-like (until something stresses me out again). The cleanser is also seriously effective, unlike other cleansers which will leave you ready to mingle with the other pandas at the zoo. Sometimes it's worth investing in a beauty product, and I definitely think cleansing is one of those times.
Urban Veda Radiance Exfoliating Facial Polish (£8.99/125ml): First of all, let me just say that the thing that has me completely hooked on this exfoliator is the scent. It is simply incredible - I can't even describe to you what it is but I guarantee you'll be asking people to sniff your face after use, it's so damn good. 
If RMK Cleansing Balm is an unwinder, this Facial Polish will wind you up, ready to face the day ahead! As you scrub your face you'll feel all the horrible city (or country) grime wash off you, leaving you radiating freshness like the best of them. After I tried my sample a few times I was desperate to get the real deal, but assumed it would be out of my (extremely narrow) price range. My jaw dropped at the price - only £8.99! Thank you, oh Beauty Gods.

I'd love to hear any of your favourite Face & Body Care products/tips - I'm always on the look out for something revolutionary or just plain effective. Stay tuned for my make-up favourites from Birchbox...
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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

{London Life}

After a brief hiatus (ahem, a month), I felt like I was slowly saying goodbye to my blog. But then my best pal Annie, who's off to Paris in a couple weeks, asked me for some recommendations. I went trawling back through my posts finding my favourite places and restaurants. It was so great to have a visual diary of everything I loved in the City of Lights, so I thought should do the same for London (and surrounding areas). FYI, if you want to see my Paris tips just click here. So here's what's been happening in London lately...

Borough Market (always a classic) - my Mum & I did some strolling around this foodie haven on a rare sunny day. My new fave bit is the exotic fruit stall with all its crazy colours, shapes and textures. Starfruit, those green things on the left, were a daily staple in Zanzibar and come highly recommended if you're not afraid of a bit of sour. Anyway, at Borough Market, be sure to sample the raclette, and the duck confit sandwiches,  and the curries, and the chocolate brownies... good luck getting out of there without a forklift.


Something you simply must do this month is visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum. I pretty much spent the entire time walking around the gallery with mouth open, gobsmacked at the talent these guys have. I mean, the photo above (the Junior winner) was taken by someone under 14 years of age! Also, we had the pleasure of seeing a picture taken by a French photographer we met while on safari in South Africa about ten years ago, Gregoire Bouguereau. It's a small world after all! You have until the 27th February to check out the masterpieces, so get your skates on - and I'd advise you book ahead. 


A little advice? If your mouth has dried up from all that open-mouthed wonder, pop across the road to L'Opera, an organic deli & patisserie and an old favourite of mine. Their fresh juices are just divine, as modelled beautifully by Ian. The waitresses assemble a custom plate of food for you at the counter for a fair price, so you can mix and match between cuisines as much as you like.


Be sure to save room for dessert, it does not disappoint. We split a large piece of red velvet cake, and as the friendly waitress served us she let us know she had whipped it up just that morning.


L'Opera somehow manages to be exotic and cosy all at once, and its dedication to organic freshness just oozes out of the delicious food. Don't take my word for it, head down there.. after the photography exhibition of course!

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Friday, 27 December 2013

{Winter Warmers}

I hope everyone had a very happy & restful Christmas time - personally, I spent most of the holidays with this beauty... she had a lot of presents to deliver in her santa outfit! 


The Post-Christmas/Pre-New Year week is actually my Mum's favourite time of year - it's a time to take stock of everything, play with all your delightful presents, and prepare yourself for the new year ahead. It's also not quite time to get back on the sensible life plan, so all those treats can be eaten up in leisurely time. If I were still in Paris, I'd be skipping down to my new favourite café Le Voltigeur in Le Marais for a winter warmer with my cosiest pal..


Suze visited me in my last days in Paris & we covered many a mile (and restaurant). After our weekend, I would heartily recommend Chez George on Rue des Canettes for a hearty, authentically French experience - think eccentric old women with orange hair complimenting your outfit choice & young men buying roses for their many sweethearts. But our favourite restaurant was definitely La Vache et Le Cuisinier in Montmartre. Slightly more expensive than other joints on the Rue des Trois Frères, but totally worth it. The food is to die for (I recommend the steak followed by profiteroles) & beautifully presented, and the clientele are a mixed bunch of Parisians with plenty of stories to tell. Stay 'til closing time to hear the best ones.


Anyway, back to Le Voltigeur. We stopped in for a break from window-shopping & pulled up some chairs outside in the cold. No need to worry about freezing here - if the drinks won't warm you up then the cosy blankets sure will. Pull one around up you as you watch the world stroll past.


There didn't seem to be a menu, so Suze ordered the house speciality which was their Chocolat Chaud (complete with a little Carambar). It came in a little pot which you stir in with milk, to your desired strength/consistency. I was suitably jealous, but nevertheless my delicious Vin Chaud had the desired effect of warming up my chilled bones. I also had a new pal to play with - the café seems to have a live-in dog who wanders the seats looking for a cuddle. I was more than happy to oblige & felt right at home.


As we wandered back with warm hearts through the little streets of Le Marais, we chanced upon a swing band playing. They were actually very talented & fantastically French - notice the bass player enjoying his cigarette while he plays. 


The pièce de résistance was this beautiful lady who was clearly the band's dancer. She was so full of energy & concentration as she moved gracefully around her little stage, she really transported you back to another era. Half of Paris took a pause from their busy lives to watch her move, such was her beauty.


I'm now back in England with mixed feelings - I'll certainly miss all the delicious food & sights but it sure is nice to be home and surrounded by friends & family. Stay tuned for more London-based tips...

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