Tuesday, 25 February 2014

London Fashion Weekend - Favourite trends

 So I got last Friday off from my day job AND my night job (from spinning a few tunes) and hopped on a train to the big smoke, where I got to soak my retail senses in the world that was London Fashion Weekend.

Layla Frends headphones - £140
I know these aren't very thrifty picks below, and I'm going to have to ask you to forgive me for that in advance, and also point out here that I absolutely love high street, reworked, charity shop, and sustainable pieces. I love a bargain, and I love the individuality.  But a girl does still have to have the occasional dabble in the high end wish list. The exhibition was full of great British brands, and amongst my favourites had to be Emma J Shipley, and the Textile Federation, who are both incorporating some really quirky prints into their collections. Leading on the accessory front for me was Tessa Metcalfe Jewellery, and Jane Carr with her absolutely beautiful scarves, not to mention the genius bag creator that is Lulu Guinness, and Layla, who have some utterly beautiful headphones that are going to have to be mine very soon.
Lulu Guinness, Union Jack Lips Clutch £325
Textile Federation, Stellar Eye Dress - £60
Emma J Shipley - Lemur Scarf, £195

Tessa Metcalfe - Gold Pigeon Claw Necklace £250

Everyone I spoke to kept congratulating me for being there alone, calling me brave, and looking at me like I was some kind of ultimate weirdo. It just feels a bit odd pulling weird faces in photographs in some shades by yourself. With your best mate, funny posing = hilarious, on your own, funny posing = mental. However, I did treat myself to a few products from the label.m hairdressing stand which also meant I got to have my hair done in a style inspired straight from the catwalk. I went for the 'Bardot' :)

I also popped along to a trend catwalk, which meant I could glimpse some great new looks for this season.

A summary: lace is most definitely on trend (yes!) as are neons, flower prints, metallics, and... funky sportswear - which I can't say I'll ever be on board with. Sadly I didn't get any usable pictures as I was seated in a non friendly camera location, but I did meet a new blogger friend, Emily!

 Favourite trend: Lace Embrace - There were some gorgeous outfits paraded on the catwalk from the likes of Christopher Kane, Diane von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta.

Good Sport: Designers featured included Alexander Wang, Peter Pilotto and Stella McCartney, with some creative little sporty numbers that have been dominating the catwalk for a while. It's 'sports-luxe' so think basketball mesh bright colours and skirts with folds reminiscent of cheerleader pleats, rather than trainer wedges (shudder) but to me, it is still a wildly exaggerated throwback to the sports days we probably love to bury in our minds (and if you were like me, often had a sick note for). Perhaps that's why I don't really get this one!

Later, I met up with Trig who hotfooted it down to meet me after he finished work, and we rounded off the day by meeting up with some of my friends in Soho.  We ended up in a ladies only bar - needless to say he managed to blag that one very well with a beard. Random nights out are the best!

Alice x

Tagging the lovely Beauty Rae :) 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Individual Mink Eyelash Extensions Giveaway! At The Spa Room (London)


I popped down to 'The Spa Room' in East London this morning and treated myself to a new set of eyelashes. Its been so long since I've had my eyelashes done - since the lovely lady who did mine regularly (Natasha Embellish) had a baby (and so quite rightly needed to take time out!) 

I've had some horrible eyelash experiences before - I once went to a hairdressers in Peterborough who advertised them on the door, only to find an hour and a half later that it looked like a few spiders legs had been attached to my eyelids, sporadically (there were about 5 'lashes' hanging on there for dear life from big black dots of glue). Thankfully, 'The Spa Room' was a completely different, professional experience to this. The lovely ladies have recently relocated to Bow, to merge their beauty school and beauty practice together into one space. I was made to feel very welcome and at home when I got there. Nuressa explained the difference between mink lashes, which are softer and look more natural, and normal eyelash extensions, which seem a bit harder. This makes them perfect for daywear as well as when you're out partying at night!

In my experience, eyelash extensions usually last at least 3 weeks, (depending on the glue!) so we'll see how they hold out. But I'm extremely happy with them. Being a redhead with blonde lashes, they are virtually invisible most of the time, so it's nice to have fluttery peepers again.

Now - if you like what you see, and you live in the London area, I have one free eyelash extension appointment to give away! I originally bought this as a voucher for my sister as a birthday present, but unfortunately we couldn't redeem it and she won't be able to use it in time - which means someone else can. Thought it may as well go to some use if anyone out there wants it! :)

If you'd like it, just;

1. Either follow me on bloglovin or GFC :)
2. Write a comment below so I know you want it!

Must be booked by the 20th March! Original value £63 (I think?) Could make a perfect present to someone, or yourself of course ;)

Alice x

UPDATE: I will be sending this to the lovely Estelle! Half a week on and mine haven't budged in the slightest - no mascara needed! Glad to report they're all still doing great :)  x

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Moisturisers - the Rich, the Reasonable, and the Thrifty

I am forever on the quest for the holy grail of all moisturisers. Lets face it, there is so much product choice out there nowadays, most of which promising you skin that will emanate golden particles and make your face glow like the dewy morning, that it's really hard to stay loyal to just one range. Over the past 6 months, I've gone through a pretty vast price range of moisturisers (due to a varying cash flow) which has given me the opportunity to put a few of their age defying and face brightening claims to the test. Overall, I wanted to explore the notion of quality being exclusive to price - is the most expensive always the most effective?

Lets start with Product number 1: 'The Rich' - Creme De La Mer, £105

I have been intrigued by 'Creme De La Mer', which literally means 'cream of the sea', for quite some time now. Heralded as the be all and end all of all moisturisers, and 'the' classic skin quenching investment, it's perhaps too obvious a choice for this category, but a deserving one nonetheless. There are more expensive moisturisers out there, but at a retail price of roughly £105 for 30ml, it certainly sits in the quality aisle. I had been wondering about this for ages, so I decided to invest in a small pot after much deliberation. Who wouldn't be slightly curious about a miracle product that is revered by the stars? J Lo reportedly bathes in the stuff. I'm not ashamed to admit that I wanted to know why.

Personal observations:

  • It's quite thick and dense when applying. I judge a moisturiser by whether or not it sinks into my skin and feels almost 'invisible', and this one did not. I found my face clogging up quite a bit after a collective amount of days using it.
  • It's got a very calming effect. I have quite red skin naturally, and I did feel less 'rosy' after a few weeks of applying this.
  • It feels very luxurious and smells very nice, too. They give you an applicator which helps you to measure the correct amount of product per application.
  • The use of seaweed and algae amongst other sea based products does allure to the mysteries beneath the oceans blanket - which many believe hold the elixir for younger looking skin.

Overall, I do think that this was a little too heavy for my skin. That's not to say it might not be perfect for other skin types. I decided to use this as more of an intense night cream - I did find that it cleared up any dry patches unbelievably quickly and may work wonders on scars, too. Definitely a great product to grab for if you find yourself with sunburn!

Product number 2: The reasonable - Korres Magnolia Bark First Wrinkles, £22.50

I am getting past my mid twenties now, and I'm becoming more and more conscious of keeping any pesky fine lines at bay. I've been researching religiously for products that preserve. Korres seemed to tick all these boxes and seems to be developing a nice following, too. I used the magnolia bark range 'first signs of wrinkles' day cream (even though I don't think I'm quite there just yet) but if that's not what you're after, the rose 'brightening' cream looks great, too.

Personal observations:

  • As a contrary to 'Creme De La Mer' the cream absorbed very quickly and 'sunk' into the skin. My makeup seemed to glide on easier, too.
  • It has SPF 15 in it which is really handy - they say you should wear SPF every day whatever the weather and I've not been good at doing this, though I know I should! Plus, it smells nice, which is also a bonus.
  • Apparently it prevents skin inflammation, which keeps wrinkles at bay - can't comment on this really as I didn't notice any difference in this respect, but then I don't think my skin is particularly inflamed in general!
  • Magnolia bark active extract is a really interesting ingredient which I've not come across before in a skin cream. I did notice that the tiny lines on my forehead seemed to fade over time, too, and I'm hopeful that it is also preventing new ones from appearing!
  • It seemed to help my dark circles, and even after a sleepless night, my skin still looked quite peppy. I could definitely see the difference.

I genuinely like this one so much I've actually invested in the night cream as well. My skin feels fresh, rejuvenated and moisturised and I have to say I have been very impressed with it.

The Thrifty - Olay Total Effects 7 in One Day Moisturiser - £10

I realise I could have gone for the very cheap end of the range here, but heres the story - I'd just spent lots of money on Creme De La Mer and wanted something (relatively cheap) and effective from Boots in a hurry, before I decided which product to jump to and eBay surf for next (which is when I found Korres). After much shelf navigating, I finally landed on this, which looked reasonable and seemed to be offering a lot of 'bang' for its buck.

For the quality of the product, I think £10 for Olay Total Effects is actually very cheap, which is why I chose to review it on the 'budget' end of the scale. I'll be honest, I'm thrifty when it comes to most things, but a bit of a snob when it comes to moisturiser, as I see protecting your skin as a serious investment. But what I thought would just be used for a few weeks and then tossed aside, turned out to be a good month long relationship with Olay (before my fickle mind started searching for something new).

Personal observations:
  • Total effects seems to be a bit of a cosmetic warrior, fighting uneven skin tones, first signs of wrinkles, surface dullness, and other (the name would suggest 7) areas of difficulty. So it caters for a whole range of skin types at once.
  • It is light and easily absorbed, and seemed to brighten my skin, though sometimes verged on a bit oily, so I was worried about putting it on more acne prone areas.
  • Total Effects also includes SP15 - good for lazy people like me!
  • Not much is needed for each application, so despite it being a small bottle, it does last a while.
  • I prefer products with more natural ingredients, but 'Total Effects' does contain an impressive range of vitamins, which is said to have a good anti-aging effect.

The verdict: Overall Korres sinks into my skin the best and has the most natural ingredients, so for my combination skin, it wins the race! It caused me no complications in terms of skin blemishes, wasn't oily at all, yet made my skin feel very nourished and brightened it significantly, and from what I could tell, kept to its promise of reducing any early signs of wrinkles. Coming in at £82.50 cheaper than its expensive contender, I do think this does re-affirm that throwing more money at things doesn't always ensure that you'll get the right product for you. Though I will definitely be reaching for the Creme De La Mer if I ever have any burns or skin complaints, as I do believe its rich, thick qualities have a very soothing effect!

Whats your favourite moisturiser? Have you ever tried any of the above products?

Alice x

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Friday, 14 February 2014

My top 5 favourite Valentines gifts (to buy for yourself!)

Now, I'm not writing this post because the other half has disappointed this Valentines day. Quite the contrary, I was presented with a lovely bunch of flowers, heartfelt card, and very beautiful heart shaped chocolates from M&S this morning (which I had for breakfast). But I am also not immune to the little devils that encourage you to spend, spend spend that are out in full force around V day, and I have to say, I quite like them, if I'm honest. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and lets face it, no one buys better gifts for you than yourself. So, in the spirit of doing so, I decided to profile the 5 presents I bought this year, from me, to me. I am quite the romantic.


1- Sleek True Colour Lipstick in 'Barely There' - I discovered this after watching 'Katie's Beauty Blog' Youtube channel, and I love it! Its a great shade for daytime wear. Thanks, Katie! 
2 - Naked 3 Palette, Urban Decay - Unless you've been living under a rock you might have seen this absolutely everywhere. I saw a good tutorial on how to use this by Katie (you can also find her blog here) and I've also seen lots of other bloggers going crazy about it! It has a really beautiful selections of shades, from shimmery pinks through to dark, warm, taupe shades. The palette also comes with some primer potion which is handy. This retails for around £37 but I bought a new one off ebay for £32. I think its well worth the investment, as you can create a whole range of daytime to night time looks with it.
3 - SASFashion (ebay) Tartan bodycon velvet dress - I bought this for a thrifty £14.99, it ticks so many boxes for me, and I love the shape of it with the cut out neck. I've been really loving seeing tartan everywhere this season, but being a redhead, wasn't too keen on the pilarbox tartan that's dominating the trend right now. This is much more subtle colour, it suits my tones, plus I love the velvet material.
4 -  Follow Me FMUK Gold Shoes, Amazon -  I recently made the promise to myself that the next time I bought a pair of shoes, I would resist the urge to revert to buying 'safe' black heels that go with every outfit. I'll be teaming these with my current fave LBD and some chunky gold jewellery this weekend in order to add a touch of sparkle to my outfit! They're great for me, as being 5ft9, I can never find court shoes that I like unless they are platforms, which make me far too tall. These are a nice compromise. They're also really good value at £16.99.
5 - London Fashion Weekend Silver Tickets -  A bit of a random one, but I've scored next Friday off, both from my day job and DJing at night, so I decided to treat myself and feed the shopaholic within me. I'm looking forward to browsing some great current British designer brands and watching the afternoon catwalk show. I'll have my camera ready to snap any good finds!

Have you treated yourself this Valentines day, or were you spoilt? What have been your favourite February buys?

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Exploring Lapland - in search of the Northern Lights


It's a long way back to London..
Last week, Trig and I embarked on a snowy Scandinavian adventure to Karesuando. The little town, which is tucked away 140 miles into the wilderness of the arctic circle, nestles between Sweden and Finland, and has an other worldly panorama which doesn't feel too unlike standing inside a stunning photograph. The snowy surroundings transports you straight into an alternate universe full of reindeer, icicles and eerie forests. The phenomenal sunrise and sunset alone, only five hours apart in late January, filled the sky with a multitude of colours during the day, brushing the landscape with bluish, pink, red, and golden flecks of light.

It's always been a dream of mine to see the Northern Lights, but I had no idea how much else there was to look forward to in this part of Scandinavia, too. Having semi prepared for the prospect of surviving in up to minus 40 degrees (we were provided with thermal suits and boots, luckily) we were both soon exploring, and destroying perfect blankets of snow by jumping in feet first! The snowballs were surprisingly difficult to compact, but apart from my hands turning to ice, the cold didn't affect me too much, thanks to the thermals that were provided as part of our package deal. They weren't very fashionable, but they were incredibly warm. Which was lucky for me, as I'm pretty sure most people expected me to turn up in open toed shoes and a cardigan!

One side of my body an hour ahead of the other!
Karesuando is not the biggest of towns, and to walk from our base in Finland over to Sweden, which is just across a little bridge, took about 10 minutes. Sweden is an hour behind Finland, and this meant we could have each leg in a different country and time zone, which was pretty good fun. On our exploratory walks in Finland we found a little cafe that sells reindeer burgers, and a DIY shop run by a local man called Marcus, who seemed to stock almost anything imaginable. Our adventuring into Sweden also involved walking across a frozen lake, stumbling across some colourful yellow houses, and the Church that's featured in the Coca Cola advert....

On another experimental mission we also found a strange looking igloo made entirely of bottles!

Our first excursion was to embark on some snowmobiling at night, after a hearty Finnish meal! Snowmobiling is illegal in Finland without a drivers license, and as neither of us are drivers, so that nearly excluded us from participating. Luckily we were paired up with an older couple, Gill and Allan (which is also Trig's name). Allan and Allan were secretly pleased that they could jet off at full speed into the distance, whilst Gill and I were rather more apprehensive. Gill took some time to find her feet, especially seeing as 'the speed limit is only 35 mph in Guernsey!' but once we got into it, there was no stopping her.

On the second day, we visited a local reindeer farm and went on a long sleigh ride. We chose the grumpiest looking reindeer to travel with, they really all did have very different personalities, and we opted for an opinionated, sassy companion! We soon became very acquainted with the reindeer pulling the sleigh behind us, who unexpectedly popped up next to us (and too often very close to my face) to keep his eye on us throughout the journey.

Afterwards, we huddled around a roaring fire in a teepee, nursing our frozen fingers and drinking a hot 'Glögi', a spiced fruit concoction, and took the opportunity to ask the reindeer herders questions about their lives in Finland.  We were curious as to who owned the reindeer, and most importantly, if they really ate carrots (The answer to that is no). Each reindeer belongs to someone in Lapland, mostly the Sami people who own plots of land, so there is no such thing as a wild reindeer.   The reindeer are considered very important, and the Sami natives have a philosophy that if a Reindeer has to be killed, that not one bit of them can be wasted. They are therefore used for a whole host of reasons, including clothes, skins, food and boots, as well as tools.

Unlike other northern lights excursions, where you travel out on a bus for an hour out of a main  city and keep your fingers crossed that the skies will be kind to you, we had the luxury of being able to walk straight out of our lodge to skies free of light pollution - which greatly increased our chances of a sighting. The staff from the lodge lit candles each night along a winding path in the forest, and we followed this nightly to a vantage point on a hill, where we could see the horizon perfectly. We heard stories from lots of people who had been in search of the lights and not been fortunate enough to see them, so we understood that it was largely down to chance. Luckily, we were blessed with a truly magical display on our third night, some of which we managed to capture on camera. It was very strange to consider that what we were seeing were charged particles from the sun, exploding in the earths atmosphere and dancing across the skies. :)

 One of the highlights to the end of the week was most definitely visiting a husky farm, where we rode our own husky sled. I was very worried about doing this initially, seeing as I cannot even ride a bike, so Trig took the reigns first. You have to stand on the back of the sled, resist the urge to say 'mush' and keep hold the top handle, no matter what, even if your legs are akimbo behind you, in order to save your partner being dragged off into the wilderness. The sled was equipped with a metal brake, which was handy, as you very quickly learn how to operate it. The dogs absolutely loved running, and they were very vocal when they were made to stop, pawing at the snow and tangling themselves up in one another in frustration. We got a sense that they were very much cared for and looked after by the way the guides spoke about them. We were then given a short tour of the farm and met the father of half of the husky farm, Roy,  (below) who was very friendly!

To end an absolutely perfect few days, we caught a final sighting of the northern lights that night before our long journey home, and pondered life over a few warming drinks. The landscape was just surreal on our journey back through Sweden. We passed glistening trees, which seemed to me like a strangely calming sculpture-like snow forest, and left the reindeer behind as they grazed in the woods. Karesuando gave me a sense of seclusion and simplicity, and much needed time to reflect, but this was balanced with exciting experiences and opportunities to connect with local wildlife and people, that definitely left me with the sense that I'd been in some kind of dreamy reverie.

Notes: We went on a package deal with Transun, on a January half price deal from the UK for £400 each. This included our flights, transfers, half board accommodation for four nights, plus lots of amazing excursions!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Clarisonic Mia 2 Cleanser - is it Worth the Price Tag?


Just to note, this is not a sponsored post. Clarisonic don't know me at all!

I go through phases of being really good to my skin, and then being terrible with it again, so a few months ago, I committed to a few key changes to my rather basic 'cleanse and moisturize' daily routine. The first pledge was to never again forget to take my eye makeup off at night, and to start moisturizing my neck, as I completely neglect it. The other resolution was to finally take the plunge and buy myself a Clarisonic!

I have always suffered with problem skin, particularly in the lower part of my face, and despite working my way through hundreds of products over the years, nothing has really changed this. I wanted something to cleanse my skin much deeper, and I'd read tons of reviews and videos about electronic cleansers.  Clarisonic seemed to be hailed as one of the best, and I wanted to judge this for myself.

The Clarisonic Mia 2 retails for a rather hefty £125/$150. As you probably gathered, I'm a bit thrifty, but I believe the key is in spending your money wisely and buying the products that are worth the money! They are cheaper on Ebay, but you have to be really careful not to get yourself a knock off version as these are not safe. Clarisonic also offer a 90 day money back guarantee from their website with the purchase which is quite reassuring if you're umming and ahhing.

Clarisonic Mia 2, which also comes in a range of colours.

I decided the best way to test this would be to use this once a day, as religiously as possible over the course of a few months. Even after the first few days, your face feels instantly clean on a deeper level. I have to say it's been most rejuvenating as well, especially the morning after a night out, though that's a sidenote!  It does need charging every now and then, but I found that I've only needed to do this occasionally, the battery life seems to last about three weeks.

Plus points;
  • The charger magnetically 'sticks' to the clarisonic, making it very easy to use
  • It's very simple, you rotate the device in circular motions around your face and after one minute, it switches itself off
  • It's very portable as the battery life lasts for ages
  • It stops if you press on the skin too hard.
  • It has two settings. I pretty much always used the faster one!
  • I wasn't a fan of the cleansing lotion it came with, it made my skin burn a little bit. I switched to Environ's Sebuwash, which also tackles problem skin with tea tree and balancing ingredients, so this was a good combination for me.
  • The heads need replacing after a while, which is to be expected, mine tend to last a few weeks before I feel I should start thinking about replacing them, though this could be down to the individual. You can sanitize and clean them too.
  • It is pricey, but once bought the only costs are the replacement heads.

I have definitely noticed a significant improvement in my skin. It feels incredibly smooth, and makeup tends to glide on much better. Ratio of blemishes have definitely gone down quite a lot, though I still get the odd breakout. I would say this is partially my fault though, as you have to keep it up. It's only a minute a day, but sometimes we just don't have that spare minute! If I stopped using it for a couple of days (which I did rarely) I really noticed the difference, which is probably a testament to how much good it was doing.

The process is similar to microdermabrasion in the sense that it seems to help other products to penetrate the skin much more effectively. I have now switched from using it in the morning to the evening, because I feel this is better for enabling the night time products to work, and this helps me to stick to using it, too!

Have you used a Clarisonic? I would love to hear how you got on with it, too!

Alice x