Last week was my 42nd birthday. And while it is not traditionally thought of as a significant birthday - I think all birthdays are special. So we packed the kids off to their grandparents for a few days, and Husband and I enjoyed the sites and restaurants of London. Regular readers may remember that we spent my birthday in York last year. We had so much fun, but this year we thought we'd enjoy the capital city.
On Friday, my actual birthday, Husband booked us a table at Bob Bob Ricard. It is a Russian restaurant, elegantly decorated. Rather than normal tables, they have booths, and each booth comes with a 'Press for Champagne' button. As you can imagine, it is a popular place for Champagne-lovers. As the restaurant is quite over-the-top, I wanted some dramatic make-up. One of my nieces works at Laura Mercier at the Bentall Centre in Kingston and she booked me in for a makeover.
We all get into a rut sometimes. I basically wear four similar lipsticks, all of a reddy brown or pinky brown colour. I remember trying pink lipstick as a teenager and realising that it didn't suit me because of my brown lips. Actually, it is my brown upper lip that changed the pink colour and then my lips didn't match. But 41 is a lot easier than 18, in so many respects. And I've recently started to embrace my very full, brown lips.
Most of us have a body part, or three, which we dress to disguise. But sometimes the feature you're trying to hide cannot be covered. What do you do when you hate your face? I remember being 10 years old and the boys at school would tease me. 'Your lips are so big, you must trip over them when you're walking'. And other similar quips. I remember holding back the tears and not letting them see my sadness. I would spend hours in the mirror, trying to find ways to make my lips look smaller. An obviously futile exercise.
As a teenager, I turned to fashion magazines for tricks to help me minimise my lips. I started wearing lipstick at 15, and would line my lips so they would appear smaller. Fast forward 26 years and I continued trying to make my lips look smaller. At this point though, it was so natural that I didn't realise that I was doing it. Then last weekend, I got my make-up done, which is quite a rare occurrence. Not only did I get a bright lipstick, but the make-up artist filled in every inch of my lips.
I was initially surprised at how full my lips looked. And I could hear those 10-year old boys taunting me. Then I remembered that there are women who inject toxins into their lips to make them fuller. Some people actually want big lips. Big lips! Like mine. And I have wasted years trying to make them smaller. Just because of some stupid little boys. Isn't it funny/ridiculous how we can carry so much baggage from childhood? And you don't even realise that you have let it effect you.
I have been bemoaning my lack of nice make-up recently. I have decided that as a 40-year old, there are certain basic make-up staples that I need. So, this year I have decided to slowly stock up on all the items that I think constitute a grown-up make-up bag. I will need foundation that perfectly matches my skin, a great mascara, pressed powder to help my skin from looking shiny, eye shadow, blusher, a couple of lip liners and 64 lipsticks. Okay, okay, maybe I don't need that many lipsticks but surely they couldn't hurt?!
Anyway, last week I spent ages browsing the make-up section of the House of Fraser website and I thought I would share what I got. First stop, I decided that I needed some pressed powder. Pressed powder is one of those staple items that one should have in their cosmetic bag. I do not. And since I suffer from an oily t-zone, I thought it would be good to pay away the shine. Whenever I have had make-up done at a beauty counter, Bobbi Brown has always impressed me. So I picked out the Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Pressed Powder in warm natural. It is recommended for those with combination skin, and it comes with a little puff. The colour suits my skin. It really brightens up my face, and even made my lipstick look brighter.
I have been feeling a bit tense recently. Life has been so busy, but then when is it not? Do any of us complain about having too much time on our hands? Anyway, I think I haven't been very organised recently, which has led me feeling like I'm always busy. I seem to always have a crick in my neck or suffering from achy legs or a sore back. So this week I thought I would book myself a pamper session. And since I am short on time, I booked a mobile beauty therapist.
I have seen Laura from Laura's Mobile Beauty Treats for the past three years. When Dubz was a baby, she would come during his nap times. Now I see Laura while he is at pre-school, and while Moozles is at big school. I normally book a massage, though sometimes I get a facial. Today, I had a manicure and pedicure followed by a full-body massage. And I feel so relaxed. My hands and feet look pretty, and my body doesn't feel so achy. I have had many massages in my life and Laura gives one of the best ever (I even went to one of those Vietnamese massage places in Clapham Junction where the lady stands on you - oh, the pain).
You're probably wondering why I don't just go to a salon. Well, there is the ease of having your treatments at home. This is great if you're short on time, don't drive or you have a small baby/toddler. I love having a massage and then having a sit in my comfiest chair rather than having to travel home. And if I ever get a manicure from a salon, I always end up chipping a nail when I'm putting on my seat belt to drive home. Every. Time.
It seems like all the cool people get one of those monthly beauty subscription boxes. Last month I decided that I want to be kinda cool. So I had a look at the various beauty/lifestyle boxes (basically researched all the boxes in a very uncool, mum-like fashion), and decided to go for My Little Box.
If you haven't heard of it, My Little Box is a French company so the items are automatically a bit more chic. You get a range of beauty items, some of which may be from their own beauty range, but there are also some fashion and/or lifestyle accessories and a little magazine. I do feel that the magazine is aimed for a a younger crowd, but I do like to know what 'da kids' are into these days.
My make-up bag is looking pretty empty. I don't wear much make-up anyway, but it has gotten to the point that my 7-year old now has more make-up than me. *sob, sob* So I've been looking for some new beauty products. And as always, I need new lipstick (can you ever have too many lipsticks??). I am sure you're all in the same position. Plus, with spring approaching, who doesn't want some new make-up to brighten your face?! So, when House of Fraser asked me to hold a giveaway for my readers, I jumped at the chance.
With Christmas coming next month, I wanted to make one thing clear : no one needs bodywash as a gift. I know sometimes you might not know what to get someone, but there are so many more thoughtful things you can buy for your girlfriend/sister/cousin/niece/aunt. When Holland & Barrett asked me to try out their gift finder, I was excited to see what they had to offer. Husband has a new-ish secretary and I thought I could find her some Christmas gifts even though I don't know her very well.
I was immediately drawn to the Dr. Organic Manuka Honey set of hand and foot creams (£11). Hands have the tendency to dry out in the winter, and the set even comes with some gloves to really seal in the moisture. And many of us have feet which are still recovering from dry summer feet, so a thick cream would be lovely.
Once the hands and feet are nicely moisturised, it is time for some festive nail polish. This bottle of Zoya Pixie Dust Arianna (£11) is so pretty. It's a glittery burgundy colour, perfect for all the Christmas dos. Now, I want to say that Husband's secretary will like this. Alas, I love it so much that I'm keeping it. Whoops.
Last but not least, this Dr Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Hair treatment (£14.99) looks amazing. Frizz is a problem for many of us come autumn and winter. One of my real life friends recently recommended argan oil to me, as I have a major frizz issue. There is a good chance that this won't make it into Husband's secretary's gift bag either. But a gal needs some treats while she is busy buying Christmas gifts for her family and friends. I don't know about you, but I get the gifts for our family as well as Husband's family so I'm kept extra busy in November and December.
The Holland & Barrett gift finder offers presents for women, men and children, as well as stocking fillers and items for the home and the tummy. There is also options by price, which is great when you're on a budget. And if the person you're buying for really does want body wash, they have some at Holland & Barrett. 😉
I was asked to pick out some gifts for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Summer means more than just warm weather and holidays, it also means trying out new beauty products. Yea! I've been trying out a few new skincare and beauty products, and wanted to let you know what I have been using.
Little Ondine Nail Polish - This is a fab concept in polish. Little Ondine is made from natural ingredients, which means that there is no yucky smell when you are painting your nails. This also makes it perfect for painting your little one's nails. And you can peel it off, so no need for nail polish remover to dry out your fingers and nails. They come in glitter, bright and not-so-bright colours. And, for my American readers, they will be launching in the US soon. Here I am modelling Boom. Please ignore my wonky fingers.
Mio The A Cream Firming Active Body Cream - Oh, how I adore this cream. It feels really light, but it makes your skin feel so soft. It has a lovely coconut and almond scent when you rub it in, but then you just smell nice without smelling like you're wearing 1980s suntan lotion. I am not sure if this has actually firmed up my skin, but as I'm exercising regularly now it makes me feel like I have. It also makes my skin 'shimmery like a fairy' (according to my daughter). I am not sure if they meant for this to have happened, but it has. I had never heard of Mio before the lovely people from John Lewis Kingston sent me the cream, but now I am a fan!
Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair - If you thought I had naturally straight hair, you would be mistaken. I have thick, wavy hair which I straighten every other day with my trusty GHDs. I received the Aveda Damage Remedy in a goody bag from an Instyle Beauty Event at John Lewis Kingston a few months ago and I love it. You can use it as a leave-in conditioner, or leave it in after you've conditioned your hair. It protects your hair from heat styling as well as helping to heal your damaged hair.
Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream - This is for the older skin. *clears throat* I have a little problem with age spots. I think this might be a brown girl thing. Anyway, I've started using the Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream as it is supposed to work wonders on reducing age spots as well as preventing them. I was given this trial-size tube at a Clarins counter recently. I will have to go back and buy a big tub.
So, those are my summer beauty goodies. Are you using any new skincare or makeup products this summer? Anything you recommend?
I was sent the Mio body cream and the Little Ondine nail polish for the purposes of a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Nothing cooler than taking a selfie in the John Lewis lingerie department, right? Anyway, I was at John Lewis Kingston a couple of weeks ago for one of their beauty events. But it was a special event, as they had the team from In Style magazine imparting their wisdom on skincare, haircare and make-up. Not only did they talk about their favourite brands, but they answered audience members' questions.
Each year, In Style magazine has a special edition listing the best beauty buys, as voted upon by beauty experts and readers. Best cleanser? Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. Best nail polish? Essie. Best flat iron? GHD. Best inexpensive mascara? Max Factor Masterpiece.
I was then treated to a lovely back massage from Clarins. Clarins have the most amazing smelling products. I don't have many expensive beauty products, but I have the Clarins Beauty Balm, which is lovely. And their Lotion Tonique was voted as the best toner.
There was also a make-up tutorial from one of the make-up artists from Bobbi Brown. I learned to always do your eye make-up first. That way, if there are any smears from your eye shadow or mascara, you can wipe it off your clean skin before putting on foundation. If you have already put on your foundation and just try to cover the smears, it can lead to greyness around the eyes. Who knew? Oh yeah, experts knew.
Do you have any beauty secrets? What are your make-up best buys?
I was invited to the John Lewis/In Style Beauty Event for the purpose of this review. I was given some of the 'best buys' to sample. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.