Friday, 31 January 2014

Roadmap to Success


A bit of a different post for once!

This week has been a bit of a game-changer, in some surprising ways. On Monday, I went on a two day training course through work called ‘Roadmap to Success’. It was all about working out what your goals were and making a plan to achieve them, and although that sounds good anyway, it was even more enlightening than I was expecting.

The group was all women, as its part of a ‘Women’s Network’ work have organised and it was a mixture of ages and departments etc – some faces I knew, some I didn’t. I went into it with an open mind, but I got much more out of it than I thought possible. The trainer, Julia Regis (find her website here) was so insightful and empowering, and led us through a series of exercises to discover our strengths and passions.

What emerged really clearly for me is that I love to write. I knew this already, but seeing how it connected to everything else I wanted to do was a shock. I’ve never told anyone I know in real life about this blog, and I’ve never promoted it because I didn’t want people to know it was mine.

Examining those feelings, I suppose I felt it was frivolous and not very worthy (negative voice in head: ‘There’s a humanitarian crisis in Syria and you want to write about lipgloss??!). But I’ve realised that’s okay. Not everything has to be war and peace. I can care about politics, art and great works of literature as well. But there’s no shame in something you derive joy it.

It was also limiting me because I was so very aware that there are thousands of beauty blogs out there, and all doing it better than I can. More professional photos, better graphics, more inventive content, glossier lifestyles. But, again, I realised something simple. Just because other people are doing it better than you, doesn’t mean your views aren’t valid. Comparisons to other people are utterly pointless. If they weren’t, no playwright would ever have tried to write after Shakespeare!

So I’m going to do my thing. It might not be the shiniest, or the most informed, but it will be mine. And I actually prefer other blogs that are real and accessible, a bit rough around the edges, to the ones that are super-slick and in a league of their own anyway. It meant so much just to stand up and admit that I love to write, that I write this blog, without having people laugh at me or mock me for caring. I got some amazing encouragement from the other girls on the course who took a look at it as well, which means a lot.

I’m going to commit to posting regularly. I’m going to own up that its mine and promote it more by linking my social media accounts. And I’m going to keep making space in my life to write regularly.

We learned tonnes of other useful stuff as well – everyone’s idea of success was different and everyone got something different out of it, but we all came away feeling empowered and motivated to do well. Powerful stuff!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Wipe Clean: PVC Skirt Fashion Inspiration

Wipe Clean - PVC Fashion

Wipe Clean - PVC Fashion by msgsarah 

Ok, so I'm a little obsessed with PVC skirts at the moment. I love that they're a little bit subversive, but that you can dress them down to be really edgy. I knew I wanted to get one in black, so above is a little mood board with some thoughts on styling.

Good tops to pair it with would either be a slouchy, grey marl sweatshirt or fresh white T with a cheeky slogan. These sporty pieces bounce off the ultra-raunch factor of the PVC and normalise it. The skirt would also work really well paired with wedge trainers - the pencil length demands a heel, but again, the sports vibe would downplay it. 

Contrast the skirt further with an uptown girl boucle jacket in pretty cream. This smartens up the look by giving it a grown-up foil. A white enamel and jewelled statement necklace will give it some pow.

Beauty wise, either dark, nightshade lips or a punchy red, orange or pink would jolt the monochrome outfit to life. Nails in this season's vibrant, poppy orange give a hit of colour. A leopard clutch adds a bit of patterned impact.

I'm planning to recreate this look in the near future, and will post the results.


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Get The Look: Radiant Orchid Eyes


 Did you know there was such a thing as a Pantone 'Colour of the Year'? No? Well, neither did I, but it seems that this year, its something that is really influencing fashion and beauty trends, and not just something graphic designers get excited about.

This year's colour is 18-3224, or, in real people speak, 'Radiant Orchid', a warm, vibrant purple shade that sort of reminds me of Barbie accessories and those electronic 'My Secret Diaries' every 90's little girl had! In short, it's a colour the younger me used to be especially keen on.

I thought it would be fun to revisit it and make a look that works for eyes. Purple is a really pretty shade on most eye colours, but it especially suits brown-eyed girls, contrasting and bringing out the warmth in those amber tones.

To start off with, dot on an undereye concealer in a 'piece of pie' shape around your orbital bone. Here I'm using my new favourite, Benefit Erase Paste in shade 2. Use a concealer brush to dot the product on, but the warm pad of your ring finger is the best tool for blending. A rolling motion, and the heat of your hand, will help work the concealer in seamlessly.

Now to bring on the power purples. I'm using the 'Peony & Python' palette from Bobbi Brown. It was a limited edition, but you can still pick one up through the power of eBay. How cute is the packaging as well?

The palette has some really nice, and very wearable shades. For the purposes of our Radiant Orchid Eye, we'll be using:

1) Cool Ivory - a warm, greyish beige with a matte finish. This will be the base shade.
2) Lavender - a warm, pinkish purple with a frosted metallic finish. This will colour the lids and the lower lashline.
3) Plum Orchid - a blackened, deep purple with a matte finish. This will be applied onto the outer v to add depth and drama to our look. 

Before we get started, its a good idea to prime the eyelids. This helps create a flawless base to the lid and lightens it, allowing the colour to pop. I'm using Dainty Doll Eyeshadow Base in 'Frankie', patted on with a finger tip.

Now for the colour. With a fluffy brush -I'm using Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush, pick up some of the 'Cool Ivory' shade and buff it all over your lids.

Time for some orchid! With the Accent Brush, also by Real Techniques, pick up some of the 'Lavender' shade and swirl it into your lids and crease. To make the colour even more vibrant, I spritzed the brush with Mac Fix +, which turns the shadow into a cream and makes bright shades really zing.

Then, using the same brush, work some of the 'Plum Orchid' into the outer V of your eyelids. This deepens the look of your eye and adds some serious impact.

Because too much is never enough, now to add even more purple! Collection Glam Metallics in 'Ripped' is a really nice, molten hot purple liner. Swipe a fine stripe along your upper lash line to provide definition and increase the shiny purple-ness!

Bourjois Little Round Pot eyeshadow in 'Feu D'Artifice' is a pretty metallic lilac. Use a liner brush to swipe it on your inner corners and under the lower lash line.

Collection Kohl Eyeliner in 'Purple Passion' is a vibrant, dark purple kohl. Use it on your waterline to further ramp up your purple haze.

Finally, if you want to define the eyes further, perhaps to take the look into evening, for heaven's sake don't use your usual black eyeliner. It's too harsh and will kill the look. A deep brown harmonises much better. I used Mac Fluidline in 'Dipdown' on a slanted eyeliner brush, just to deepen up the very outer lashline.

What to do with the rest of your face? Pink tones work well with purple eyes. I've used CK Cosmetics Cream Eyeshadow in 'Sizzling' as a cream blush, MeMeMe Dew Pots in 'Hollow Haze' as a highlighter on cheekbones and eyebrows, and Maybelline Watershine Elixir Liquid Lipstick in 'Rose Star' to finish off my lips.

And here is the finished look! Subtle, radiant, and absolutely on trend, Radiant Orchid is a look that you can easily carry off for the working day or getting coffee with friends and is really fresh for spring. Get in on the trend now.

If you want to go OTT, pair your orchid-eyed look with some lavender lipstick and nail polish.Want to tone it down? Here are the shades that will be your orchid-eyed best friend.



Thursday, 23 January 2014

January Haul: Benefit, 17, Skin 79, Topshop, Primark

Hello Dolls!

Since last blogging, I've managed to aquire a few more pretty things to show to you...

Seventeen Skin Wow! 3 Way Glow and Prime Highlighter - £5.99,

As mentioned in my recent mascara review post, until a couple of weeks ago, I'd pretty much written off 17 as a cheap brand with sub-standard formulations that was only aimed at teens who didn't know any better. But since purchasing a few of their new launches on a whim, I've had to dramatically revise my opinion and admit that they're actually got some pretty fab stuff.

And now that this highlighter is in my life, I don't think I can ever let it go! Honestly? It's better than Benefit High Beam. It's better than Mac Strobe Cream. And at that price, it's almost a sin NOT to try it.

Why is it so great, you say?

Well, it's a really flattering blend of peach tones that looks lovely on.I find Strobe Cream can be a bit too white, especially during the summer. You can use it as a primer, mix it into your foundation, or use it as a classic highlighter. It gives a subtle halo effect and isn't overly glittery. The pump dispenser means there's no mess and no messing around. And the packaging is not really so bad,either.

This has been the answer to lacklustre, dull winter skin for me. I've been mixing a pump with BB Cream in the mornings for my base, and dabbing it on my cheekbones at night. I regard this as an essential now and will definitely be repurchasing.

17 Skin Wow Highlighter, blended in natural light

Black wedge suede and leather trainers, £15.00, Primark

  Ok, I'm very late onto the whole wedge trainer trend. I can be a bit cautious sometimes (see my long debate about the acceptability of leather trousers, here) and I have to admit that when wedge trainers first came out, I thought they were more than a bit silly. But after seeing all the styling possibilities, various Made in Chelsea stars and my best friend, Lady T, wearing them, I caved in.

I still didn't want to spend too much on a pair until I was sure I would get wear out of them, so of course it was Primarni to the rescue, always the place to get hold of a super-trendy item for much less! I really like these and I've already planned loads of outfits to wear with them! It is nice to have a comfier shoe for zipping around town that's not a biker boot or a ballet flat, I must say.

Skin 79 Super+ VIP Gold BB Cream - £14.99,

This is a product that I've used, on and off, for a quite a while now, but I've been absolutely loving it lately, so I thought it was worth a mention.

Back when BB creams first began to be talked about, and there weren't any available in the UK yet, I sourced some from Korea which were posted over (see my full review post here). I ended up really liking the Skin 79 range, which comes in about eight different formulations. Started off using the Hot Pink version, but I've found that I much prefer Gold, which is a creamier texture and more blendable and moisturing.

But then Garnier launched their BB cream, Miracle Skin Perfector, and that became my favourite and is obviously easier to get. Recently however, I started using Skin 79 and I'd forgotten how much I liked the finish - its higher coverage than the Garnier cream and gives a more flawless finish.

In case you haven't come across it, this contains adenosine and arbutin to even out skin tone, promote elasticity and fight wrinkles, an SPF 25 and gold and caviar extracts (oooh, FANCY!).

At the moment, it's my go-to mixed with a pump of 17 Skin Wow and topped with a bit of Bare Minerals powder.

Polka Eau De Toilette - £6.00, Primark

This was sort of an accidental purchase. You know the sort. I kept trying to put it back, but I just couldn't. I wouldn't normally count on Primarni to produce a fragrance I'd actually like, but then it seems I'm eating a lot of my own words recently when it comes to budget products. Is everything just improving?

It was the cute, Marc Jacobs-esque bottle that first grabbed my attention, but I still spritzed the fragrance not expecting much. But I found that I really liked it -  it's fresh, floral and fruity - sort of a raspberries and peach smell, but not in a Body Shop kind of way. I'm not sure if its actually supposed to smell like Marc Jacobs' Dot perfume, because I haven't smelt that, but I couldn't stop smelling my wrists!

I'd left the store, but this convinced me to go back and get it. Generally with fragrances, I'm quite choosy and I stick to what I like, so it's good to discover something new. At that price, I was planning to just stick it in my desk drawer, but the bottle's so cute, its snuck onto my dresser.

White and Crystal statement necklace - £6.00, Primark

This is what I really went into Primark for! Isn't it stunning? I actually spotted this in Look magazine and fell in love immediately, especially when I clocked the price. I think it looks far more expensive than it is! Of course, usually when you spot Primark stuff in magazines, its not in store for love nor money, so I wasn't expecting to actually find it. When I saw they actually had them in I was over the moon!

I can't wait to layer this over sweaters, it's so dramatic and bold. Thrilled I managed to get my hands on it.

Benefit Erase Paste Concealer - £19.50,

I was heartbroken when I recently finished my Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener and found they don't make it in the same formulation anymore. It was a salmon-coloured cream that really battled dark under-eye circles, which I suffer from badly.

How devastating is it when something you love gets taken off sale!?! After some research online, I found that Erase Paste seemed to be the nearest match. It's a pretty good dupe as well. The texture is really smooth and it doesn't settle into fine lines.

Topshop Sale Items

I'm not very big on sales usually. I hate the jumble sale vibe and finding stuff you love, only to realise its not in your size. But I recently found myself in town, really early in the morning, hunting for birthday gifts for my husband, and mysteriously ended up in Toppers. It was so early the rails were still neatly arranged and there weren't a million other people elbowing me, so I managed to find these bargains

Grey quilted sweatshirt, reduced to £12.00

I liked this straight away! It's just the perfect, go-with-anything casual sweater and I could see a million ways you could style it up to look great. It's very oversized, so I actually ended up getting an 8 petite. I can't wait to pair this with leather leggings and a statement necklace.

Velvet chain strap cross body bag, reduced to £12.00

This is a really neat little bag, a sort of a quilted, brushed black velvet. I fell for the chunky, gunmetal hardware -the lock is very Celine inspired - and the silver snake chain handle is a nice twist on the usual sort of chain strap. I can't be doing with clutches at the moment, I'm all about the cross-body or the long shoulder strap. Hands free is much better for dancing!

Black lace insert playsuit, reduced to £14.00


Is it just me, or do you have to read carefully with playsuits too? I love the look of them, because their so cute and yet totally edgy as well, they're easy to style, and I adore seeing other people in them. But I'm an apple shape *sigh* and they can make me look really dumpy.

In fact, not so long ago, I bought an All Saints Balera playsuit that I had to return because it made me look 8 months pregnant. So I was amazed to find this little number, which is cut in such a way that makes it really flattering. The shorts drape really nicely, and the lace panels at the waist nip you in. I love the lace edging too. I can't wait to pair this up with my wedge trainers.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Review: Mac In Extreme Dimension 3D Black and Seventeen Doll'd Up Mascara

It's a complete departure, but I picked up a couple of new mascaras recently and now that I've been using them both for a little while (I almost never like mascaras as much when they're fresh - is that weird?), I thought I'd give them both a little review for you.

Seeing as I've been a repeat buyer of L'Oreal False Lash Telescopic for quite a while now, this was a bit out of my comfort zone, but it's good to try new things...

>> Mac In Extreme Dimension 3D Black 


During my recent off the radar, non-blogging period, I went down to London with Lady T to celebrate her birthday.

We had a blast, mooching around Harrods and Harvey Nics, smelling the expensive perfumes and drooling over all the amazing designer bags and clothes. I tried on a chinchilla coat that was £23,000. £23 GRAND!!!! I just cannot believe some people have that much money. In the evening, we went out to a club called Ink on Leicester Square and we had a really great time, in fact I'm sorry I missed blogging about it.

Despite all the general loveliness in the stores, I didn't buy very much, but I did end up picking up this mascara.

The assistant talked me into it, and I think she said it had been in development for 10 years! That's a lot of dedication.

Mac call it:

"A lightweight, whipped formula that saturates lashes from root to tip and won't smudge, clump or flake."

The benefits of the formula are:

  • Adds volume
  • Extends length
  • Creates curl
  • Conditions for softness and flexibility
  • No smudging, clumping or flaking
It comes in a bulbous, glossy black plastic tube with the Mac logo all over it.The brush is made of soft plastic too, as opposed to a fibre brush (I hate fibre brushes), but is less angular than the L'Oreal one I normally use, and doesn't have the central reservoir like that one. Actually, I think the brush is very similar to the Bourjois Volume Glamour Max Definition (the one in the pink tube).

I like this mascara a lot because it really does coat lashes and add lots of volume as promised. I would argue against the creating curl though -  I have pin-straight lashes and nothing short of a long session with my Shu Uemura lash curlers combats that -  but then no mascara I've ever tried has really helped to curl them.

The formula is extremely smooth and long-wearing, and it really doesn't flake or smudge, although it can be a bit on the clumpy side - but nothing unbearable. And despite the durability, I find this comes off very cleanly at night with a decent remover and doesn't leave you with panda eyes. The pigment is very black indeed, so if that's your bag, you'll love this.

A great mascara for night-time, and I'd say it draws neck and neck with my False Lash Telescopic in quality. This has become my go-to night out mascara, although nothing would make me give up my falsies altogether! It's great for a dramatic finish.

Mac In Extreme Dimension 3D Black

>> 17 Doll'd Up


Having not used anything from this range for many years, I recently ended up buying a few products from the Seventeen line, which seems to have gone through a big overhaul. The packaging is much more appealing, they seem to have quite a few new hero products, and I think the formulations have gotten better in a big way.

One of the things I purchased was this mascara -  I liked the plastic brush and the cute packaging, which comes in a slim tube with a little bow motif.

Boots say you can:

"Create a beautiful, overstated, wide-eyed look"

And the main selling points are:
  • Special lash lifting formula
  • Curved brush gives a doll-like effect
  • Volume and curl without clumping
  • 24 hours of staying power
I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this, mainly because, perhaps wrongly, I'd written Seventeen off as a cheap brand with not many good products.

Glad to say I was really wrong. This mascara gives a super-pretty, fanned out lash, very wispy and gentle. The curved brush makes it really easy to apply and if clumps are the thing that gets you worked up, this formula produces absolutely zero. It doesn't flake or smudge either.

The only downside is that its not great at volume, even with two or three coats, but it's perfect if you want a bit more of a natural look. I had it in the dark brown shade, which makes it even more unassuming. I really like the finish on this mascara and at that bargainous price, I'd definitely buy it again.
Seventeen Doll'd Up mascara

This product is a perfect dupe for the much-hyped Benefit They're Real! mascara. It gives the same separated, super-long, wide-eyed effect, so if you love that, I'd wholeheartedly recommend that you give Doll'd Up a go.

I will definitely be back to the 17 stand to repurchase, which is not something I ever thought I'd say! My photo here is not the greatest, but if you search online for pictures, you'll find some that better show the amazing results. What a find!


Sunday, 19 January 2014

January Style Inspiration

Lately, I've become somewhat of an obsessive Pinterest user. It appeals to the magpie in me, who just wants to appreciate lovely things. There's some genuinely great content on there and I'm finding it particularly appealing for a few things - ideas for workout routines, interior decor and inspiration for outfits. F

It's really begun to influence what I'm buying, and I already have a 'want list' of things that I will be buying as soon as payday hits thanks to my obsessive browsing on there. So I thought I'd do a quick round-up of what's really caught my eye lately:

>> Pastel Gem Rings

Pastel and Neon Mix

I don't know where on earth these are from (if you know, pleaaaasse comment and let me know!), but I do know it was love at first sight when they popped up on my feed! The opaqueness! The chunkiness! The candy colours! Oh, my head is spinning just looking at them. I love the edgy look of the rough-cut, rock finish with the soda-pop colour. Beautiful.

>> Nonchalant Cool with a Pop of Red

Source: ashley-ringmybell...
One of the best things about Pinterest is that it sort of reaffirms your own personal taste. I'm forever finding oufits that I love, only to realise that I already own all of the elements, and just hadn't thought of pairing them together like that.

 In this case, I love that the slouchy, 'don't care' vibe of the grey marl sweatshirt and black suede Nikes offsets the potential raunch factor of the leather mini. And when paired with the Ray-Bans and the insolent slash of crimson lipstick, it's absolute undone perfection. 

If it was me, with my less perfect pins, I would wear my new black wedge trainers. I already own a black leather Reiss mini and grey quilted Topshop sweater, so I will be recreating this look as soon as I can!

>> Stormy Purple and Midnight Blue Shadow

Navy Blue and Purple Eyes
Wow. Just wow. Look how amazing this purple and navy blue shadow combo looks on her amber eyes! I'm especially in love with this because I have those colour eyes myself ( a light, orangey-toned brown) and I often think they can look a bit boring. This really makes them dazzle. The shimmery navy is phenomenal. I know Urban Decay do a great, vibrant navy shade ('Blue Bus' from the Book of Shadows Vol 4), so I may have to try and get my hands on it!

>> Wipe Clean

Love this outfit for a night out!
I don't watch reality tv, snob that I am, so I'm only vaguely aware of this lady through trashy gossip mags - Vicky Pattison from 'Geordie Shore'. I also know (through those trashy mags) that she recently lost a shedload of weight and seems to be showcasing this by going out dressed in a series of very nice outfits. I must say, I think she's beautiful and I love that raven hair and blue eyes combination (wish I had it!).

Specifically, I'm loving her in a bit of PVC...

The first outfit, with the nude PVC skirt, is done very well. Obviously, anything like that has strong sex worker connotations, but the barely-there strappy sandals work well with it. I must say I love the black satin bustier with it, although I'm not sure I'd be confident enough to wear this outfit. 

This second version is more like something I'd actually wear (if I could afford a Chanel bag...clearly the wages of sin -or reality television- are better than I thought!). The white t-shirt just tones the raunch down a notch, and the pointed courts keep it classic. I love this skirt, and I'm buying one on payday. Topshop and Missguided both sell PVC skirts if you suddenly have an urge for one.

Here's some ideas also on how to style them:

How to style a pvc skirt

>> Grey Polish with Neon Tips

Nailed it!!!  Even more digit decor inspo here >>  nail art, manicures, mani, polish, beauty, DIY, how tos, nails
This is so cool and really refreshing. The little hit of neon lifts the grey polish nicely, without being full on. I'm at an age where I've started to worry about the age-appropriateness of certain things (neon, glitter, hair bows, slogan t-shirts...) and this is a great way to introduce a pop of colour without being too full on. Plus, I'm not great at nail art, but this is beginner level! I love the thin-ness of the tips as well, so much more classy. Now where to get neon yellow nail polish?

>> Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat Party Outfit

Night outfit
I don't really go out on the town as much as I used to, but when I do, dammit I want to dress up and feel great! And sometimes Pinterest can give some great inspiration for how to style up items into the best look.

Again, I own most of these items, but wouldn't have thought of styling them like this. The chunky boyfriend watch is a stunner (love the tortoiseshell face on this one), and the black ankle boots - of which I have about a million pairs - give a bit of a edge to the glittery mini. The skirt is the kind of thing you wear to a Christmas party - but pairing it with the low-key white camisole makes it okay for summer too -double win. The animal print on the clutch adds a bit of interest with pattern, and I'm in love with the khaki OPI polish - again not the obvious choice to me, but so much better. I've scoured the net and I think its called 'Uh-oh Roll Down the Window', from the Touring America collection, so I need that in my life too!

What have you found to inspire you lately?


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Review: Mac Huggable Lip Colour

holiday2013 machuggable001 MAC Huggable Lipcolour Collection
Mac have a new lip colour launch for the start of the year- cue hysterical excitement. It's called 'Huggable Lip Colour' (isn't that cute?) and they come in this really sexy, sleek metallic packaging, like the 'Sheen Supreme' range- which I also love- but more silvery. I much prefer the tube to the regular Mac lipsticks, which look a bit cheap and dated in that matte black plastic.

>> What's the hype?

It's a brand new formula, 'inspired by Asian trends', which sounds very mysterious (something to do with skincare benefits?). It promises:

  • A smoothed-out, sculpted finish
  • Unique gel base
  • Lasting, glossy, feather-light finish
  • Helps to boost collagen
  • Lasting finish up to 6 hours
MAC Huggable Lip Color

>> What colours are there?

There are currently 12 shades in the range, with a further two (not mentioned here) that are exclusive to Asia (boooooo.)

Commotion - Deep cool plum cream
Red Necessity - Deep warm wine cream
What A Feeling! - Mid-tone cool pink cream
Feeling Amorous? - Mid-tone fuchsia cream
Love Bean - Mid-tone warm pink cream
Out For Passion - Soft warm rose cream
Touche - Light beige cream
Fresh & Frisky - Soft neutral peach cream
Cherry Glaze - Orange red cream
Fashion Force - Cool coral cream
Rich Maroon - Mid tone chestnut cream
Rusty - Deep auburn

>> What do I think?

I was pretty excited to try this new launch, and although I tried to convince myself to wait until payday, as soon as I passed the Mac store, I ended up running in and grabbing one! (Weak, Sarah, sooo weak...)

My excuse was that I'd run out of my go-to neutral, Sheen Supreme in 'Bare Again', so it was totally justified.

I wanted a neutral shade, but the most beige, 'Touche', I felt was a bit pale on me. So I ended up choosing 'Fresh & Frisky', which has more of a peach tone to it. But it will still work well for a more toned down lip look with strong eye makeup.

The packaging is beautiful and feels well worth the £17.50:

On the lips, it does feel lightweight and a lot more hydrating than some of their other formulas. Especially in the winter months, my lips can get flaky very easily when wearing a lipstick, but I noticed that this kept them nice and soft. It's not quite as shiny as I expected (especially not from the very glossy campaign shots), but it'll do!

Mac describe the finish as 'luminous' and I'd have to agree, they do have a certain glow to them and the colours really pop:
Mac Huggable Lip Colour in 'Fresh & Frisky'

I'm excited about the promise of collagen content to boost my pout as well, although I'm not sure if that's more of a cumulative effect? I did feel that it made the shape of my lips look nice and full.

The colour lasts pretty well - maybe not exactly six hours, but certainly not one that needs reapplying every half hour.

>> The Real Verdict

This is a gorgeous lipstick with amazing sleek packaging that also feels comfortable on the lip and achieves a glowing, boosted appearance. The colour range is pretty decent and includes some lovely brights, a raisin coloured dark and popping reds and pinks. The staying power is decent and the added skincare benefits and moisturising effect make it well worth the spend. I'm in love with this shade and will certainly considering adding some more of them to my collection when I'm feeling flush!

>> Where can I get one?

£17.50 at Go get!


New Year, New Start


Hello beautiful world!

So, I'm a little late to the party,  but it's a New Year and I'm back and energised, and ready to give this whole blogging thing a bit of love. 

Being busy at work and trying (unsuccessfully) to move house has been feeling like its taking over my life, but I've realised that I need to make time for the things that I love doing as well.

Here we are at 2014....didn't popular culture tell me I'd have a jet pack, a hoverboard, and a retinue of sassy robot friends by now?

I thought I'd share my resolutions for this year:

>>    Become debt-free

This sounds like quite a big one, but it's not really. In fact, hopefully it will be an 'easy win'. I've been silly and naive with money when I was younger, and I left uni with two large overdrafts, credit cards, store cards and goodness knows what else. I wasn't financially responsible at all, and didn't even open my bank statements. Since then, I like to think I've grown up massively when it comes to money matters. I've had to learn responsibility, I've become a homeowner, plus being married to a financial advisor puts a bit more of a focus on being sensible with money!

Now, all my credit card debt is on a 0% card and I've been steadily paying chunks of it off, I've built up some savings and I've even analysed my credit report. But this is the year I want to finally wave goodbye to being in debt. I will still have my mortgage, student loan and car loan, but I want to be rid of all credit otherwise. I only have under a £1000 left to pay off, so hopefully it won't take much longer -  just a few months and I should be able to tick this off my list.

Taking it forward, I resolve not to build up any more debt, and to save up for the things I want rather than relying on credit. I don't want to worry about debt anymore.

>>    Be consistent with my health and 'join the dots'

It wouldn't be New Year's without some kind of diet and exercise related resolution, so here it is! I think that when it comes to health, I've been doing all the right things. I visit the gym, I've started running home from work a few nights a week, and for a while I was doing morning workouts. But I don't do any of the above enough, or consistently enough to get real results.

So my goal this year is to join all the dots up and try and make what I'm already doing work better for me. In addition, I want to start lifting weights, proper weights, not girly ones. Too many women are afraid of it, but I read a very enlightening blog post recently that really changed my mind about it (view it here)

I also had a flirtation earlier last year with the 5:2 diet. It was the only diet I've ever tried that worked for me, I stuck to it, it made me feel good, and I did lose some weight. Only then I went on holiday and jacked it in and I couldn't seem to get back on track when I came home, no matter how I tried. But it might be time to give that another try too.  I figure my time is running out before I start a family, so it feels like this year, in many ways, is my 'last chance' to do a few things. And getting truly fit is one of them!

>>    Be kinder to myself and others

This sounds like a bit of a silly resolution, but I think it's important. I'm generally quite a positive person but I do judge myself- and others- quite harshly sometimes. I can be a bit unforgiving, a bit quick to pass verdict. And I don't think that's always helpful. I don't want to lose my compassion. And I don't want to make my own life harder than it should be.

So this year, I'd like to take it a bit easier with all the comparisons. I want to undertake more little acts of kindness - be they ever so small- because they can actually make a big difference to others. And, rather more selfishly, they can also make a big difference to me. Studies have shown that being kinder to other people actually boosts our own happiness and self-esteem more than any other factor. Sounds like a win-win situation it would be stupid not to try and make more of.

I'm not going to set any number goals (like 'I must do X number of kind acts this week...'), but where I see the opportunity for something small that could improve the world around me, I'll take it.

>>    Take writing seriously

I'm definitely a writer. I'm a writer in my bones. I can't stay away from it. And yet I devote so little time to it. This is mainly a combination of lack of self-belief and lack of self-discipline. But I want to try and take writing a little more seriously this year.

For years now, I've been working on a novel (what can I say? I'm an English Lit graduate, it's practically a law!) but although I've worked on it in fits and starts, again, I've never been consistent enough to see it through. Even though writing makes me happy.

It is hard to find the time alongside everything else, but maybe I need to prioritise and make time rather than spending ages on social media in the evening, or reading so many magazines. It's another one of those things I know I won't have time for when I do start a family, so I need to make some headway this year, if only to prove to myself that I can.

>>    Mix it up style-wise

So my style is what you'd call, fairly vanilla. I know what I like and I tend to stick to it. And what I like is fairly 'safe'- an indigo jean, a nice riding boot, a little black dress, a well tailored jacket. And I'm not proposing to abandon any of that. It took me long enough to figure out what my style was and what suited me. But I want to be a little more adventurous this year, and try some new things. Again, it seems like my last chance before I have to settle down into sensible mum-style clothing and consider practicality above all else.

I tend to think girls fall into two categories (possibly three if you count people that only dress for comfort) i) those who dress for men and ii) those who dress for other women. And I've always dressed for men. I've always wanted to look attractive, instead of trendy. Classic, instead of current. So I just want to try being a little more adventurous and try some different styles. I'm never going to be way out there, but I want to try a few little modifications and be less 'obvious' with my look.

>> Buy less, buy better quality

Hopefully this one isn't incompatible with the one above! I feel like I want to invest more in having better quality clothes this year. Clothes that will last me for more than a season, that are well-cut and made from quality fabrics.  This will naturally mean buying a bit less, although with eBay etc, it doesn't have to cost the earth to aquire nice things.

Buying my first designer handbag a couple of years ago has really taught me a lot. It's beautifully made and I get so much lasting pleasure from using it. It's durable and since getting it, I have rarely used any other bag. Now, I'm certainly not rich or anything, but the economics of it- cost per wear- have made perfect sense. Do I really need a closet full of cheaply made bags that fall apart, when I can have one really well-made piece that's stood the test of time?

So, I want to spend more. But that means buying less, which will be quite a challenge for shopaholic me. It doesn't have to be designer, but it does have to be made well. I'm inspired by my friend Lady T, whose style is always immaculate, but who treasures her clothes and, ironically, or perhaps making perfect sense, has a much smaller selection than me.

It's definitely the way forward. And hopefully, knowing my own style will help me make smart choices.

>>    Invest in skincare

I've always taken fairly good care of my skin. But the products I use are relatively inexpensive and not thought through. I tend to just buy whatever catches my eye. I'm like a magpie flitting between products! But I'm not getting any younger, so it's time to get serious about skincare. I worked out that while I'll spend quite a lot on make-up, I don't seem to spend much on looking after my skin. And if you don't take care of the canvas, the painting will never look as good. So I want to spend a little more on a decent regime that I can stick to.

I've been thinking about it carefully, researching a few different lines. I've also pledged to use up what I have before rushing out to buy new stuff, and hopefully that will help me to make an educated decision.

Those are my goals for the coming year. I'll post updates about how I'm doing as we go on. Here's to a 2014 full of good health, happiness and progress.
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