Sunday, 28 April 2013

Shopping Online: The Pro's and the Pitfalls

I have developed a love/ hate relationship with online clothing and beauty stores, so I've decided to weigh up the good, the bad and the downright ugly aspects of clicking and spending.
a cartoon of a woman shopping online

Pro: You can buy virtually anything from the comfort of your own home. Clothing optional.

Con: What if it doesn't fit? This happens to me. A lot. As we all know by now, sizing is not universal - a Topshop 10 might be a Zara 12. Until you familiarise yourself with the brand, mistakes will happen. Just don't beat yourself up if you can't quite zip those jeans up or your new top is gaping where your boobs are supposed to be.

Pro: Delivery to your door, often the next day if the price is right and regular 'free delivery' promotions.

Con: Missing said delivery because you went to get milk and were gone for all of five minutes, then having to trek to the closest Royal Mail depot which is bound to be closed by the time you finish work/ get there.

Pro: Online stores pounce on trends the minute they hit the High Street and produce their own versions at more realistic prices. Remember when American Apparel Disco Pants became huge? Now you can find them online for a fraction of the original AA's £70 price tag.

Con: Online stores (especially cheap and cheerful sites) can compromise on the quality of their products. You can't pick up a top and feel the material or inspect the stitching on a boot like you can instore.

Pro: You can fire up your computer and go straight to a reliable price comparison sight to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. My pick? Global comparison site Uniprice. .

Con: Going to fire up your computer and realising your cat/ puppy/ boyfriend has chewed through the power cable.

Pro: The novelty of clicking on an item on the screen, entering your card details and bam! you're done. No swathes of people to barge through to get to the counter. No traumatic public transport or parking space negotiations. You wanted it, you bought it and now it's yours.

Con: Having to pay with your card. I for one am slightly more frugal with my money when I've got cold, hard cash in my wallet. Studies show that in general people spend more when paying with plastic. No, I didn't make that up, there are actual studies.

*Image taken from google. I do not own this image.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Fake Tan Files: Spray Tan at Artistic Monkey

Growing up in Australia I practically had a permanent tan. While my time in London has seen my skintone adopt a much pastier pallor, I think for now I've had enough of sporting the 'pale and interesting' look and it's high time I get my Aussie kid colouring back.

Throughout spring and summer I'll be testing out a variety of fake tans in an effort to find my perfect, go-to faux glow.

First off the bat is an organic Spray Tan I experienced last Friday at Artistic Monkey salon in Kilburn.

An oasis among the general drabness of Kilburn High Road, Artistic Monkey sticks out like a sore thumb in the best possible way.

The salon is glamorous, modern and clean with really lovely staff and to top it off, there's even a cheeky bowl of miniature cupcakes for snacking on while you wait!

There can be few things as mortifying as stripping off and having a virtual stranger spray every inch of your body with a fine brown mist, but beauty therapist Lili is so friendly that I nearly forgot I was standing there in nothing but a thong and stick on soles (to prevent dying the soles of my feet).

The whole process took under 15 minutes yet it was the most thorough, enjoyable spray tan I've experienced (and I'm from the Gold Coast, the fake tan capital of Australia so that's saying a lot).

Lili made sure it was even and wiped my palms with baby wipes to avoid any tell-tale signs of fakery (not a word but it is now) before leaving me to get dressed.
Immediately after the spray tan - looking a little dirty!

The next day - after the tan has developed (and two showers!)

Tan line day 3

Tan line day 3

When you go for a spray tan, the key is to wear the loosest, darkest clothes you can find and skip the bra if you can. Make sure you exfoliate really well the day/ night before and don't skimp on the moisturiser!

After the tan, wait at least 8 hours before showering, allowing the tan time to develop properly and treat water like the enemy - that means no washing dishes!

The formula they use at Artistic Monkey is top secret but they did tell me a few things about it:

  • It's organic
  • It's Australian (yay)
  • It contains a load of skin loving ingredients
  • It contains anti-ageing components
  • It's a 'green based' formula, therefore there is 0 chance of looking like a fanta can

This formula is so good in fact that it was given a 5/5 rating by More Magazine :0

I really can't recommend this spray tan enough - even the boys at work thought it looked great and they would be the first to tell me if that wasn't the case!

The spray tan at Artistic Monkey left my skin looking glowy, healthy and naturally tanned - literally like I'd been lazing about in the sun for a few days. The tan lasts about 7 days if you take care of it properly (don't have really hot baths and slather on the moisturiser). I had mine on Friday and it's now Wednesday and I'm still quite tanned! If you're interested in a healthy looking olive tan rather than an orange one I recommend you give this a go.

The spray tan at Artistic Monkey is £28 for full body or £15 for half body (waist up) with packages available for courses of 6.
You can call Artistic Monkey on 020 3638 3616 or check them out here. Make sure you have a browse of their other beauty treatments and hair services while you're at it!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

April Chill at Beauty Works West: My Experience

Beauty Works West is a little bit of luxury just off one of Notting Hill's loveliest streets, offering beauty treatments aplenty as well as an inbuilt boutique featuring niche luxury products. It's also home to Dr Daniel Sister, world-renowned anti ageing and hormone specialist.

Last week I went along to Beauty Works West to try out their  April Chill promotion - a package that includes a Ling Deep Cleansing Facial or Relaxing Massage followed by a Signature Manicure or Pedicure.
I hadn't had a beauty treatment since I left Australia over three years ago so I was beyond excited to go and meet the team at Beauty Works West and indulge my inner (or rather outward) beauty fiend for a couple of hours.

The Experience:

I opted for the facial and pedicure option for my April Chill experience and popped along to the Beauty Works West Medi-Spa in Notting Hill last Wednesday
Once inside I was greeted with a drink of my choice (I chose water because I'm hardcore) and a little bowl of mixed fruit and nuts to pick at while I filled out my consultation form.

Before long I was greeted by my therapist for the day, Beata, and led to the treatment room which was softly lit and smelled gorgeous!

Beata left me to get undressed and get myself tucked in to the heated bed (!) ready for what was about to be one and a half hours of unashamed pampering.

Beata began by gently removing my eye makeup before cleansing my face, neck and d├ęcolletage twice with Ling Purifying Facial Cleanser to get rid of any makeup and general London muck.

Next up she covered my eyes with cotton pads and turned on a magnifying lamp to analyse my skin and decide which products would be most beneficial.

That's one of the greatest things about the Ling Facial - it's completely tailored to what your skin requires at that time.

Once she'd established my skin concerns, it was time for some serious exfoliation in the form of the Ling Triple Action Exfoliator followed by the Ling Spotlight Papaya Resurface Peel.
Once these were removed  I had the steam machine directed at my face so a continuous, gentle stream of steam opened my pores and Beata massaged my skin (which felt absolutely incredible), allowing the products to penetrate more deeply and prepare my face for the next phase - extractions!

I have never, ever had a professional extractions experience before but Beata made the whole experience a lot less painful than it could have been and I was far too relaxed to be embarrassed about the amount of blackheads she was tackling!

Once the extractions were done, the Ling Rescue Peel was applied, preventing any infections and soothing my skin. While the peel was working its magic I was treated to an arm and hand massage before my hands were slipped into gloves filled with paraffin - a bizarre sensation at first that ultimately felt totally comforting and luxurious once I got used to it!
Ling Skincare

After the paraffin solidified and the peel had done it's thing, the gloves were removed and my face cleansed again before the Ling Ginseng Herbal Masque was mixed with Ling Oxygen Plasma Potion and applied over my face, neck and d├ęcolletage.
The next step in the facial was a real treat and something I'd not experienced before. Beata used an ultrasound machine to gently massage the masque in, explaining that the ultrasound helped my skin to absorb the masque. The ultrasound machine provided a sort of cooling sensation, which was welcome after the steam and extractions, and gave off a slight buzzing sound that wasn't unpleasant.

Once the masque was removed a moisturiser was applied (I was matched with Ling Squalane Hydra Boost) as well as eye and lip cream.

Like all good things, my facial came to an end and it was time to get ready for the next phase of my April Chill experience - the Signature Pedicure.

Once I'd gotten dressed and slipped on the flip flops provided by Beauty Works West, I made my way across the room to the manicure and pedicure room.

A sizable, airy space, the room included a couple of state of the art pedicure chairs complete with built in massage option. The room also featured televisions suspended from the ceiling and a Sex and the City boxset should you fancy a bit of Carrie action while your tootsies are tended to.

Beata soaked, clipped and scrubbed my feet while we chatted and I scoffed an almond croissant and drank a latte before she slipped paraffin filled booties onto my feet and left me to relax (!) for a few minutes.

Once she returned and the booties were removed and my feet cleaned again, it was polish time!
Beata expertly separated my toes and applied my chosen shade - Geranium by Essie and helped me slip on my flip flops.

After two and a half hours of shameless indulgence my experience was over and it was back out into the streets of Notting Hill. To be honest can hardly remember the tube ride home because I was virtually levitating.

The Results:
My skin felt incredible and looked refreshed, glowing and even-toned. I basically looked like I was wearing really, really good foundation when in reality I was bare faced. My skin was the cleanest it's been in what I imagine is a really long time and there wasn't a blackhead in sight on that nose of mine. I kid you not, there was not one!
This super-clean, plumped up and refreshed feeling lasted a couple of days but even now, one week on I am blackhead and congestion free with a stupidly soft face.

As for my feet? Well, they've never looked this good. I promise I'm not just saying that.
 I had never indulged in a pedicur before my experience at Beauty Works West and Beata managed to make my hobbit-like feet look feminine and, dare I say it, sexy?
One week on, the nail colour is still going strong and there's not a chip nor tear in sight - Beata I applaud you!

You can find out more about Ling Skincare products and all the beauty treats on offer at Beauty Works West here.

April Chill at Beauty Works West is running until April 30th
Facial + Manicure or Pedicure £155
Massage + Manicure or Pedicure £145

To book in for this exclusive treatment call Beauty Works West on 020 7221 2248 and quote 'April Chill'.

Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know if you try out any of the services or products from Beauty Works West!

*I was given the April Chill experience for consideration to feature on my blog

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Supracor - A New Way To Scrub Up For Spring

We all know how important a good scrub in the shower is - removing yucky dead skin cells is key to lovely, healthy skin and a vital first step when you plan to fake tan!

I've been trying out a couple of products from Supracor - a Californian brand that uses recyclable materials to produce a huge range of lifestyle and bath and body goodies.

Lately I've been using the SpaCells Facial Sponge and Stimulite Bath Mitt to rid myself of any flaky bits and get the circulation going.

SpaCells Facial Sponge

This nifty little sponge fits onto your fingers like a mitten and removes makeup, cleanses, exfoliates and massages all at once thanks to the 'honeycomb cells' that it's made up of.

The SpaCells sponge features two sides for two different jobs:

The clear side is soft and flexible, perfect for pairing with your cleanser to give your skin care regime added oomph.

The black side is a little more heavy duty and isn't designed for use on facial skin - use this side to buff away at elbows, forearms and the back of your hands.

The SpaCells sponge even includes some easy instructions to give yourself a facial massage, which is a rather nice touch!

Stimulite Bath Mitt

I'm not going to lie, this bath mitt is pretty hardcore. You can use this one for dry body brushing before you jump in the shower, or use it with shower gel or soap for lathered up scrubby goodness.

The biggest selling point of these products for me is that they are naturally anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. I like to scrub my skin with exfoliating gloves and puffs but let's face it, they can get rather manky after a while and nobody likes a mouldy shower puff!
These two products are well worth a look if you're in the market for some seriously effective exfoliation - the SpaCells mitt in particular is a great option for fans of the Clarisonic or other exfoliating devices as you still use your regular cleanser with it, it's just turbo-charged!

For more information about Supracor products, visit and have a gander at the range.

Have you tried anything from Supracor or a similar product?

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Black and Blue: Wishlist from Avenue 32

Avenue 32 is an online wonderland of designer goodies.
I could spend hours trawling this site with its plethora of luxury designer pieces and lifestyle products.
From uber luxe candles, pillows and throws for the home to gorgeous mesh boots by Phillip Lim and beautiful sequin dresses from Azzaro for you, Avenue 32 is the place to click on over to if you're looking for something extra special and designer.

Here are some of my picks from what's currently on the virtual racks over at

What do you think? I'm particularly keen on the Merino wool gilet by Garzon - a perfect trans-seasonal piece :)

Thanks for reading!

*Promotional post

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Beauty Obsession: Emilia Clarke

Game of Thrones is back for it's third season and it's already ruining my life again. How does HBO expect me to wait a whole WEEK between episodes of magical, ultra-violent dragon and nudity filled sword-wielding goodness?
I just love this show and I have a crush on virtually all of the male leads and a lady-crush on one white haired  beauty in particular - Daenerys Targaryen, aka Emilia Clarke.

I don't usually go for blondes (or women) but there's something so utterly special about this girl that I wanted to devote an entire blog post to her face.

Whether she's playing ethereal Dragon Princess Daenerys in Game or Thrones...

Or in her natural state as a brunette beauty...
There's no denying that this girl is a bona fide stunner, kicking beauty goals all over the place.

The 'Old Hollywood' maekup look is starting to become her beauty signature.This look is super simple to achieve and looks ultra glamorous. All you need is a decent liquid eye liner and a slick of red lipstick.

This look is probably my favourite to date. She looks uber elegant and I'm loving the subtle smoky eye with blue tones blended in to match her dress. This picture is testament to the transformational effect of a good pair of hair straighteners.

Whether she's hanging out with dragons as Daenerys or vamping it up on the red carpet, Emila Clarke is an English Rose indeed.
Do you watch Game of Thrones?

Thanks for reading :)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Snail Cream! What, really?

Anyone for a moisturiser made from snail mucus?

I came across this on Amazon today while browsing Etude House products:
Introducing Snail Code, made on location at a Bulgarian Snail Farm, apparently.
Etude House's Darling Cream, containing 'snail mucin'. Yum!

These creams have been kicking about for a while and are especially popular in Korea, but I only stumbled upon the horror today.
Snails are rather good at using their slimey stuff to repair damage to their shells- it contains hyaluronic acid and antioxidants apparently- so it sort of makes sense for it to have a similarly rejuvenating effect on human skin.
Personally I would never use a face cream made from crushed snails but each to their own I suppose!


Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Day at the Races? No Thanks.

Who likes horses? I do.
 Granted, I fell off one when I was 14 on a busy main street and never got back in the saddle again, but to me they are beautiful, elegant, sentient beings.

In Australia, we all place bets and get frocked up for the Melbourne Cup - a fairly straightforward, run of the mill horse race that involves a handful of ponies galloping around a racecourse.
Yes, some horses are injured in this race and are subsequently put down, but this is a rare occurence.

I assumed that the Grand National race would be in the same vein as the Melbourne Cup, so I was gob-smacked, disgusted and frankly a little disturbed when I watched the Grand National for the first time three years ago.

This race is akin to The Hunger Games in that a great deal of participants die whilst vying for the same coveted prize, (though I'm sure the horses themselves couldn't care less if they win or lose).
Making horses jump over ridiculous fences at a stupidly quick rate and gallop through slippery mud just doesn't seem kosher to me. In fact it seems downright cruel.
On average, horses die every single year at the Grand National.
They're either injured, deemed lame, then destroyed or they trip over and break their necks.

As lovely as it is to get dressed to the nines, drink some bubbly and wear a strange hat, I think we need to look at the bigger picture here and that is this: the Grand National is little more than a violation of animal welfare and complete disregard for the wellbeing of a beautiful animal.

I asked on Twitter earlier how others felt about the race and one girl in particular -Rachel from @madeupof summed it up pretty perfectly 'Mass murder for public entertainment and profit? Doesn't do much for me personally'.

So, let's head on down to Aintree Racecourse and place bets on how many horses will die this year?

Rant. Over.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Smooch Cosmetics Eyeshadow Duo in Naughty Schoolgirl

As a fan of Smooch Cosmetics lipsticks, I was pretty excited to try an eyeshadow from the brand.

Smooch Cosmetics have released a series of eyeshadow duos rather cutely dubbed the Ladies Who Lunch collection.
Inspired by different personalities and characters there are 6 shadow duos to choose from: Posh Tottie, Trophy Wife, Social Butterfly, WAG, Naughty School Girl and Morticia.

I tried the Naughty School Girl duo - a coffee brown and pearly nude palette that can be used alone or blended to create your own look.
Smooch Cosmetics Ladies Who Lunch collection Eyeshadow Duo in Naughty Schoolgirl; £9.50

The formula came out a little patchy on me, however I didn't use a primer on my lids first so chances are I could have had a better result had I taken that extra step.

The lighter toned colour in the duo came out quite white and shimmery on me, a bit ice princess, a bit whimsical and not usually a shade I'd go for but paired with the dark coffee colour of it's twin shade and a little slick of liquid eyeliner, I managed to create quite a subtle evening look.

I have rather deep set eyes and my eyelids tend to crinkle up a bit, resulting in pigment getting lost in the folds. I did find that this eyeshadow didn't stray into the crinkly bits by the end of the day - always a big tick in my book - even Urban Decay shadows tend to gather in the lines so it was a nice surprise to see this kind of staying power from a slightly more affordable brand!

You can browse the Ladies Who Lunch collection by visiting Smooch Cosmetics - be sure to check out their lipsticks too!

Thanks for reading!

*The Smooch Cosmetics Eyeshadow Duo was given to me for consideration but this review is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.