29 May 2013

Blogger Illustration by Zoe Newlove

Firstly, if you haven't heard of Zoe Newlove, where have you been?! Zoe is one of my favourite bloggers and also one of the nicest and most talented girls I've gotten to know through blogging - not only is she a fellow makeup artist and beauty blogger but she's also a super cool graphic designer and illustrator, seriously, I'm pretty sure there is no end to her talents!

Zoe very kindly offered me one of her blogger illustrations and after much faffing over a high quality picture on my part, I finally sent a suitable image to Zoe and the result was amazing...

I couldn't be happier with it - I feel like I'm seeing myself as a Disney character and the attention to detail from the dress to my knees, collarbones and nails is incredible!

The process also amazes me as Zoe draws her illustrations by hand first - something I am always envious of! I can paint a face but I cannot for the life of me draw anything on paper.

If you'd like to know more about Zoe and her rates as well as seeing more of her work, please click here and show her some love. You won't regret it.

Vicky x


27 May 2013

Selfridges Summer Beauty Box

After the disappointing Selfridges Lucky Bags at Christmas I had decided I wouldn't be picking up anything similar again in a hurry so when I saw mentions of the Selfridges Summer Beauty Box on Twitter and Blogger, I skimmed over them and paid them little attention.

Then during my morning browse of the Selfridges website I spotted the Summer Beauty Box and decided to see what the fuss was - all boxes are the same and the products have a combined retail value of £70. Sold.

Aqua Splash Tangle Teezer

Designed to be used on wet hair and in the shower, the Aqua Splash Tangle Teezer has non-slip grip on the sides so that you can tackle tangles in the shower. This isn't something I would have bought separately as I already have a Tangle Teezer but it's always helpful to have a spare.

Jane Tran Hair Clips

The hair clips remind me of being 10 years old and trying to grow out a fringe - they're very unlikely to ever see the light of day - even on holiday!

Erborian BB Creme

I'm not the biggest fan of BB creams, I have nothing against them I'm just more likely to reach for a tinted moisturiser or a sheer foundation than I am to try and search for a good quality BB cream. Erborian are a Korean brand and this product is designed to create a flawless finish. I haven't put it to the test yet but I'll be sure to review it when I do.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

Magic in a bottle. I first became aware of Caudalie when the spa I worked in ran a promotion on the products and it was love at first try, shortly after I noticed it was also a bloggers favourite and I can see why: it's so refreshing. The scent alone is enough to lift my mood and it was essential for travelling in London last summer during the Olympics - the tube isn't a nice place at the best of times but a spritz of this and I felt human again and my skin felt and looked better. This travel size is perfect to keep in your handbag or on your desk for a little pick me up.

Lancaster After Sun/Tan Extender

It's very rare I tan naturally, not only am I very fair (I tend to defrost rather than tan...) but I don't like to sit in the sun and I always wear SPF however I also value a good after sun and find it a Godsend in the summer months. It's a step a lot of people seem to forget or opt out of but a good after sun is an important part of my summer routine and the Lancaster one smells incredible! 

Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray

A firm favourite amongst bloggers but I've never really been a fan of texturising sprays so I'm really looking forward to trying this and seeing how it works on my hair because I definitely wouldn't have purchased it.

St Tropez Instant Glow Face Lotion & in store offer card

St Tropez aren't my tanning brand of choice but I've tried out the Instant Glow Face Lotion and it's love. It applies quickly and evenly and then washes off - perfect for keeping an even glow on those days when your face tan has worn off but your body doesn't need re-tanning, I hate that awkward stage but now it doesn't have to be a problem. I also like the fact that I can go without a base when I use this which is another reason I love fake tan - I wear less makeup which is always a good thing in the summer.

The in store offer card is a promotion for a set of St Tropez products when you book a spray tan.

Molton Brown Blissful Templetree Shower Gel

I love Molton Brown products but I haven't bought any for ages so this was a lovely and very welcome addition. It smells absolutely incredible and left my skin feeling soft and clean after use. I'll definitely be buying the full size when this runs out.

For some reason I forgot to photograph the Models Own neon nail varnish. I love a neon polish for the summer so I can't wait to try it out - I own a lot of Models Own polishes and I think they're great quality, the only thing that puts me off is the overpowering chemical smell.

Have you purchased this? What are your favourite items?

Vicky x

22 May 2013

Zara Cross Ankle Strap Heels

I briefly touched upon these shoes and how much I love them in this post but after picking them up in black this week I felt they deserved some more love, and so did you as I've lost count of the people that have tweeted or emailed to ask about them!

Nailing the summer trends, they're  neon orange faux suede with cut out sides, crossed over ankle straps and a rounded pointed toe with asymmetric lines.

With a heel height just shy of 4 inches and no concealed platform I wasn't expecting them to be remotely comfortable but they are honest the most comfortable heels I own. They're lightly cushioned to provide comfort to the ball of the foot and unlike other heels where this can often end up being more painful than helpful, it's a real help.

The ankle strap is looping to create a criss-crossed look and fastened with a delicate gold buckle. With the exposed sides and heel height I had a bad feeling there would be a serious ankle related injury somewhere along the line but thankfully the straps provide excellent security.

Here's where the geek in me really comes out and where Zara have excelled themselves for me - they provide a set of spare heels. SO GOOD. The only other time I've known this to happen is with Christian Louboutin. When I find a good pair of shoes I like to look after them and I will get them reheeled but there's nothing quite like having the exact same heels fitted again - sure a heel is a heel but the originals are always the best in my opinion. Considering the price of the shoes, this really is a great extra.

The main thing I love about them is that they can be worn dressy (as above) or casual with jeans and a t-shirt or shorts/a skirt. They add a flash of colour to any outfit and as someone who tends to stick to a neutral palette I need all of the colour I can get!

Zara High Heel Shoes with Ankle Strap - £29.99

Vicky x

20 May 2013

Review: Revlon Colourstay Ultimate Suede Lipstick

Good old Boots, there's nothing quite like a 3 for 2 offer that coincides with the launch of a new product, especially one you've been waiting to get your hands on. As an avid reader of US Cosmo I've seen the adverts for the Revlon Colourstay Ultimate Suede lipsticks for months upon months, not knowing when, or indeed if, they would be launching on this side of the pond.

I picked up three shades: Finale, It Girl and Socialite. 

The packaging is sleek and simple with a clear base showing the shade of the lipstick. The plastic is sturdy and has survived endless weeks at the bottom of my handbag to no ill affects - no scratches and thankfully, no cracks!

The Revlon Colourstay range is designed to be long lasting and the Ultimate Suede lipsticks are no different. Sold as being long wearing and transfer resistant, they contain shea butter, aloe and vitamin E to moisturise yet manage to set to a demi-matte finish.

Top to bottom: Socialite, It Girl, Finale. Apologies for the lack of 'face' swatch, I have a little cold sore stress scar at the moment :(

Despite finding very little transfer I still found I needed to top up a few times a day which isn't exactly ideal for a product that is designed to be long wearing. I'm not particularly tough on lip products when it comes to reapplication throughout the day as I do expect to need to reapply after lunch or dinner and I found the issue with this wasn't so much that the colour had completely gone, because it hadn't, the Ultimate Suede Lipsticks do leave a stain to the lips but that's all they leave after a few hours.

I didn't enjoy applying them as I found them all quite slippery and patchy - I think they'd work great layered over a better lipstick (maybe a MAC Amplified finish) on a photo shoot but for every day I really don't want to faff about too much trying to ensure they're not patchy.

Matte lipsticks and even demi-matte lipsticks tend to be drying however I was confident that due to the moisturising ingredients packed into these that this wouldn't be the case and I was correct. They're not drying, they are however, incredibly sticky. Not even 'sticky lipgloss heavy' sticky, actual 'pulling an envelope apart' sticky. I don't want to feel like my mouth is opening and closing with velcro every time I open it to speak, eat or drink so for me this was a major drawback.

With this in mind, I don't actually dislike them, the fact Socialite has been in my handbag since I purchased it is testament to this. I guess I'm on the fence with them - they're not bad but they're not amazing. 

Revlon Colourstay Ultimate Suede Lipstick - £8.99 each

Have you tried the Revlon Ultimate Suede lipsticks? Which shades and what are your thoughts?

Vicky x

17 May 2013

Review; Bioderma Hydrabio Exfoliating Cream

I could not have been more excited when I found out Bioderma would be launching several products from their skincare range in the UK this year. The infamous Crealine H2O had previously only been accessible at makeup artist shops PAM and Guru Makeup Emporium here in London and we certainly paid a premium for the privilege of being able to get our hands on the MUA Holy Water and sadly the skincare ranges went largely unobtainable.

That all changed recently however with Bioderma's foray into the UK market, launching in Boots and various other chemists including the fantastic John Bell & Croyden where I picked this little wonder up a little over two months ago.

I think most people will agree that when it comes to exfoliating, no matter how gentle the product, it does very little to hydrate your skin, particularly in the winter months when it can be left feeling smoother than the proverbial baby's bottom yet lack hydration. The Hydrabio range has been designed for sensitive dry to very dry skin with the aim of proving hydration where needed and encouraging the skin to hold on to its own moisture through the patented Aquagenium complex. 

At the time of purchase London was still in the icy clutches of winter and my skin was feeling seriously dehydrated and weathered so when I spotted this, a hydrating exfoliant I knew I had to have it. I am very particular about facial exfoliators - I like something I can feel working but nothing too harsh or stripping which I often find to be a real issue. 

Creamy in texture and packed with exfoliating micro-beads, this is a rich exfoliating cream and a little goes a very long way.

Take a small amount of product and massage into the skin in circular motions, taking care to avoid the eye area, before removing with a face cloth or cleansing sponge (or just with water if you so wish). Skin is left feeling soft, smooth and not at all tight or dry.

I never thought I'd see the day anything usurped my Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant as #TheBestExfoliatorEver but this really has. I use it once or twice a week and my skin has never felt or looked better. 

Bioderma Hydrabio Exfoliating Cream - £10.50 for 75ml

Have you tried any Bioderma products since they hit UK shelves? Which ones are your must-haves?

Vicky x


15 May 2013

Ted Baker SS13 Blogger Competition

I know I'm more of a beauty blogger than I am a fashion blogger but when I saw Ted Baker were hosting a blogger competition I simply couldn't resist. 

I've lost lunch hour after lunch hour perusing their stock in Selfridges and I absolutely love their pieces. As part of the competition, bloggers are asked to pick three items from the Ted Baker collection to create their favourite look for 2013.

TALLAR Swoop Neck Dress £249

This dress is super chic. The colour and cut are classically beautiful, whilst the full skirt and v-neck back keep it fun and fresh. I'm currently on the look out for another dress for the races and this would work well at any formal event including summer weddings.

PAISIE Clutch Bag £79

The PAISIE clutch bag has a summer floral patter, a removable shoulder chain and space for your essentials. With a neutral colour base this clutch bag can be worn again and again with a variety of outfits.

ROSALIE Sunglasses £75

Keeping with the classic shape and style of the dress, these 1950s style sunglasses are the finishing touch to any summer outfit.

If you'd like to enter the Ted Baker competition to win a £75 gift voucher you can do so here.

Vicky x


13 May 2013

Review: Philosophy '27 Wishes' Balm

For years now I've sworn by the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream so when I was very kindly given the chance to try the 27 Wishes* multi-purpose skin nurturing balm from skincare brand Philosophy I jumped at the chance.

 I've long been a fan of Philosophy products, particularly their bath products so I was keen to see if their   skin care also hit the mark.

Multi-purpose balms are a wonderful thing - even as a beauty blogger and makeup artist that hoards numerous products, I still want one product that does everything: one that I can apply to my face, my hands and my body and not have to worry about whether or not it's too harsh, too delicate or just plain wrong. 

Designed to tackle 27 of the most common beauty problems such as: rough cuticles (guilty), dry elbows, chapped lips, cracked heels and even split ends, 27 Wishes is a great product to have in your handbag or on your dressing table.

With a blend of seed oils including jojoba and sunflower the 27 wishes balm smells better than any multi-purpose balm I've ever tried. It has a herbal smell which although strong is not overpowering and I actually found to be quite relaxing. 

As soon as it landed on my desk I rubbed a pea-sized amount into my hands to get a feel for the product  and to take in the scent - I had expected it to feel quite greasy and to sit on the skin but it didn't. Balms typically sit on the skin but after a few moments it had started to absorb into the skin and I wasn't left with greasy hands which is always a bonus.

I've mainly been using this balm to address my cuticles and my mum has also been trialling it on some cracked skin she has around her mouth thanks to the insane weather we're having. She normally goes straight for vaseline which I hate however after trying this she was converted and I'm still waiting to get it back from her!

All in all, I think this is a very handy little product and one you'll reach for more than you would think.

Do you use multi-purpose balms, if so, which are your favourites?

Vicky x

*PR Sample

12 May 2013

Meet Up and WIN: Dublin! 7/8th July

I'll be over in Dublin on the weekend of the 7/8th of July and whilst I know there's a big Irish bloggers meet-up at the start of June, sadly I'm unable to make it over.

Not to be deterred I thought it would be really nice to arrange a meet-up in Dublin over that weekend and I'm trying to gauge numbers/plan and so on.

I'll throw this straight out there - by meet-up I genuinely mean just meeting other bloggers and blog readers rather than just handing out goody bags which a) I don't have the connections to organise and b) I wouldn't be able to bring over with me!

I would however like to offer the opportunity for a bespoke makeup lesson and makeup bag overhaul/review with myself. As a professional makeup artist I charge from £50 an hour for a makeup lesson and £20 for a makeup bag review/shopping session and it could be yours for free!

The bespoke makeup lesson can focus on whatever you want - if you just want to learn how to apply a flawless base then that is what we will do, if you'd like to learn a creative editorial look then again, the choice is yours.

A makeup bag review and overhaul focuses on how to get the best out of the products you already have and highlights the products you may need to invest in - should my PRO discount at MAC be valid in Ireland (I'm still checking but I think it's accepted in Brown Thomas) then you will benefit from a generous product discount should you choose to buy any products.

Please do let me know if you're interested in coming and if you have any ideas or suggestions on location so that I can start planning - oh and spread the word!

Feel free to email me at beautybloggingbrunette@hotmail.co.uk if you'd like to come to the meet-up, help organise or have any ideas.

For your chance to win a bespoke makeup lesson and makeup bag overhaul/review with me, simply follow the steps below.

1. Follow my blog via GFC or Bloglovin' - specify which and I will check :)

2. Leave me a comment below with your email address and tell me what you'd like to learn in our bespoke makeup lesson and what your makeup bag staple product is.

3. For an additional entry, Tweet the following "I'd like to win a bespoke makeup lesson with @VickyGMakeup in Dublin" and include the link to this post.

4. Closing date is the 30th June.

It would be highly preferable if you could take your bespoke session over this weekend however I will be over again in October and we can arrange a mutually convenient time if not :) x

Good luck and I look forward to meeting some of you soon!

Vicky x

6 May 2013

Theatre Review: Viva Forever

I'm a little bit late to the party with this one as it was announced last week that Viva Forever will be closing next month but I thought I'd share my thoughts with you anyway in case anybody is tempted to go and see if before the curtain comes down one final time.

A few weeks ago my friend Lucy and I headed off to the Piccadilly Theatre in London to see Viva Forever having purchased two of the "best seats" for the price of one on ShowPairs. As we had to collect our tickets at reception we were a few minutes late and had to spend the first 15 minutes watching on a screen in the bar as part of the "latecomers policy" employed by the Piccadilly Theatre which is something I have never experienced in any other theatre I've been to and appears to be far more disruptive to the people around you than just letting people in as they arrive - if people are coming and going to the toilet and bar in the first few minutes which invariably they are, it seems senseless to not let people into their seats. 

The show itself has been met with less than favourable reviews but as an avid fan of the Spice Girls (which 90s girl isn't?) I couldn't resist seeing the show and went with an open mind. 

Viva Forever tells the story of Viva, a singer on a reality TV talent show called 'Starmaker', through the songs of the Spice Girls. The star of the TV talent show seems to be dimming so the concept felt a little tired although the staging was clever. More a parody of the X Factor than anything else, the TV element had me cringing in places, particularly with the host who I'll call Dermot O'Deary... 

Even as a huge Spice Girls fan I found it hard to place some of the songs and the combination of Mama (sang by Viva), Goodbye (sang by Viva's mum) and Headlines (sang by Simone) was a particular low as the three screeched over each other and left me squirming in my seat waiting for the noise to stop. The songs did improve towards the end and I really enjoyed Spice Up Your Life, Viva Forever sang by Angel with an acoustic guitar and 2 Become 1 for comedy value alone - achingly predictable yet still amusing. 

I left the theatre feeling confused: I wasn't sure how I felt about the show and I'm still not. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it. I did enjoy it for the most part and it does have the feel-good factor that it promises to deliver but I can understand why they've pulled the plug - it could have been so much more. I wouldn't say it was bad, more disappointing. 

Spice Girls fans will likely enjoy it for the songs alone so I would say if you're in London during the evening over the next month and at a loose end, buy some tickets and go along for a sing-song. 

You can read Lucy's review here.

Have you been to see Viva Forever? Will you be catching it before it ends?

Vicky x

Cosmopolitan Blog Awards

I feel so very cheeky to even be posting this after such a long break from blogging (work/social life has been seriously getting in the way lately!) but as you're probably aware, the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards has opened for nominations and I would be so very grateful if you would like to nominate me or any of your favourite bloggers.

The link is here and I would be under the Best New Beauty Blog category if you would like to vote for me.

Vicky x
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