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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

MY HUNT FOR A/W BEAUTY - BRENT CROSS TRIP


*This post is sponsored*
It’s my current mission to get all the beauty tools needed to ensure I am on trend come A/W.…not because I think it is necessary to copy catwalk looks exactly, but because it can be incredibly fun to use them for inspiration….and what a lovely excuse to splurge! As well as my goal to update my make-up looks for the new season, I wanted to purchase the vital ingredients from new shopping destinations.


Today I ventured to Brent Cross, which is a simple sit on the Northern Line, but there are also plenty of buses than can get you there if you aren’t a fan of the tube.


Before I embarked on today’s beauty haul, I wanted to check the Brent Cross PLUS app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.match2blue.ignite.brentcross&hl=en_GB
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/brent-cross-plus/id950683610?mt=8 just in case there were any offers that would be useful during the day. There were various attractive foodie deals, so many in fact, I had to be quite strict with myself.


Having had a very unhealthy festival weekend, one which saw me scoff a chocolate orange for breakfast, I was going to try and be a bit more sensible come lunchtime. Brent Cross didn’t make it terribly easy for me, with all my favourites captured within the centre (Pizza Express, Nandos, Wagamamas, MacDonalds). However I remained strong and headed to Leon, which has equally delicious options whilst being relatively kind to my ailing body. When ordering my Thai green curry with brown rice, I headed to the ‘offers tab’ on the PLUS app and found that I’d get a free drink with my meal - in keeping with my very temporary health kick I opted for a freshly squeezed orange.





Feeling pepped and ready for action I headed to Fenwicks. I always try to go to the big department stores first so I can get a grasp of all the brands available to me in that given location. There’s nothing worse than settling on a product under the header of ‘it’ll do’ to then find out your favourite brand was available to you. It had all the well-known high end beauty brands you’d hope for, as well as one that has been harder for me to find in other shopping centres.


I was embarrassingly giddy to discover the Charlotte Tilbery stand, with its beautiful 1920’s inspired design and impressive array of hero beauty products. Working within the fashion industry for a number of years, she is someone I have admired for a while -  lauded for her beauty expertise backstage at fashion shows, painting the gorgeous faces of some of our greatest and most iconic supermodels. In recent years she has been a constant in my life thanks to glowing endorsements by beauty bloggers and journalists alike. If reviews are to be believed her years of work have helped her to create extremely beautiful and covetable products…that also do the job their labels boast.




Today would be the day I would finally be able to see what all the fuss is about. To tick off the copper eye trend I decided to purchase one of her eyeshadow pencils, which had been heartily recommended to me by a fellow YouTuber. The display helps you choose a colour that will complement and enhance depending on your eye colour. For my brown eyes - Amber Haze, which is a warm coppery hue, was their recommendation for a night time look - I guess because it gives a rather sultry aesthetic.





So did Charlotte and her famous eyeshadow pencil live up to my high expectation?….It is a glittering and empathetic yes from me. It is glaringly obvious why I was told this particular product was a must-have. I don’t find applying make-up terribly easy, but this was one of the simplest products to apply. It is impossible even for me to muck this up. You simply sweep the pencil across your lid and under your lower lash line if you want that coppery smoke effect - and smudge if you feel it necessary. The formula is the perfect consistency leaving your lids feeling smooth, unlike other pencils that can leave a waxy finish. The best thing about this trend is that it can be worn day or night (just add eyeliner to make it more dramatic) and suits pretty much everyone.


It was only last week that I bought my first MAC lipstick…I know, I’m extremely late to the party. I aim to make up for last time though, and foresee it becoming a pretty expensive addiction….and not very helpful to my bedroom clutter levels. On my Brent Cross expedition I wanted to tap into the matte red lip again, but this time focus on an orangey hue as opposed to a classic scarlet or primary. Acne was one of the design houses that opted for a bricky orange, which tells you that this is a slightly younger and edgier take on the trend. The great thing about these tones is that as well as adding punch to your wintery clothing palettes, they look fab in summer against bronzed skin and vivid clothes.




I don’t believe you can follow every trend and expect them to work flawlessly for you. Sometimes it takes experimentation and amending them to suit your looks and/or lifestyle. I wanted to make sure I bought a shade that nodded to the trend, but most importantly looked great on me. It’s always hard to access what works for you, so I asked one of the MAC staff to put a couple of shades on me and tell me honestly which one looked better.


One was a deep terracotta shade, a bit more adult and safe. The other was brighter and more daring. I play it safe far too often, so decided to be a daredevil and go for the shade they call  ‘So Chaud.’





But there is no point spending money on a beautiful new lipstick if you are going to put it on top of a surface that’s cracked, chapped and looking everything but luscious. I’ve been using a wonderful Lip Scrub from Lush that sloughs away all the flakey skin, but I still need some help to keep them feeling soft and nourished.


I‘m going to carry Maybelline’s Baby Lips with me at all times from now and try to resurrect these weathered lips of mine. Kissable lips here I come….


While I was in Boots I went on the hunt for a really affordable lipgloss. I don’t get much joy from buying a clear lipgloss, it’s rather low on the excitement level when it comes to make-up purchases, so I never want to spend too much on it. The fact that it is likely to be used with great frequency this coming season, means that a low price tag would be extra beneficial. On the catwalk it was not only used on the lips but to add a dewy nature to cheeks and eyelids. At a mere £1.99 this one from Natural Collection would be just perfect.
Models that sported this low maintenance undone look on the catwalk also showcased hair that looked like it had been cuddled by nature’s elements. To achieve this look I’d require a spray that added rough texture and body to my hair.



I found this Sea Spray in Lush which promises to not only leave your hair smelling fresh but full of body and volume. Big hair has always been my thing, my pursuit of Bardot hair a lifelong mission.






Before returning to Boots to tick off the rest of my trend boxes I wanted to refer to the PLUS app, just to check I hadn’t missed a vital shop out of my schedule…..thank goodness I did. I still had beauty mecca, John Lewis, to visit.




To complete my copper eye trend I mentioned earlier you should really add some bronzy elements to your face. Contouring is all the rage at the moment thanks to the Kardashians, but you don’t have to make it a lengthy and convoluted process. This Benefit product with its very specific brush allows you to enhance that cheekbone line in one quick swipe. The helpful ladies on the Benefit counter in John Lewis explained how popular the product was with its customers, and just how easy it was to achieve the desired look. As you can see from the images above it really does enhance the structure of your face, and tone in wonderfully with your coppered eyes.


The next trend takes us away from make-up and beauty for a bit, and that’s hair decoration. It goes from simple to intricate, so there is something for every type of girl.


I wasn’t sure where would be the best destination for this particular trend, so I searched jewellery in the PLUS app shop finder. Educated with the results I headed to River Island and Topshop. Topshop had some beautiful hair chains, but they weren’t quite right for the look I was hoping to create. River Island had some great oversized leather bow headbands too, which I may pop back to buy another day, but I need to stay focused.


Accessorize and various concessions within Fenwick and John Lewis had hair accessories and embellishment but a lot of them featured feathers, flowers and colour. Claire’s Accessories would prove to offer an extensive choice of hair jewellery that looked almost as good as the real deals. Not everyone wants full on glam and glitz. The more nonchalant fashionistas out there will want to go for a simple but edgy black leather band, a la Proenza Schouler. I found a great plaited leather-like alice band at Claire’s Accessories. While I was there I was astonished to find the above bejewelled hair clip for a gobsmackingly brilliant £10. It is made up of 4 connected clips that hinge in a way that allows you to style it in many different ways. If you want to emulate Prada style then slick your hair into a high pony and clip your sparkler at the crown. But if you are off to a wedding at the weekend like myself, you may want to try various romantic updos (see above).




Wanting to stick to my budget I headed back to Boots, where they house so many affordable beauty brands, as well as the higher end names.


Even if the fashion gods rewrote the rule book forever and said that we should never wear eyeliner, it would always remain a staple in my regime. I never feel complete, nor look alive, without a slick of eyeliner on my top lids. I already own a turquoise liner by Lancôme
to mirror the teal graphic liners which were a funky hit this season, sported most notably at Antonio Beradi. Today I wanted to find a formula without the glittery element of the Lancôme example. L’Oréal’s Emerald Green Superliner hit the spot, and proves to be extremely proficient at creating very precise lines. If you wish to mirror Anna Sui’s double flicks this may well be the best tool to use.



At Suno we saw a chunky block liner, which I thought would be easily achieved with a felt pen style liner or an applicator with a thicker nib of some sort. I have only ever tried bath and body products by Soap and Glory, but was happy to come across their Supercat liner in Boots - I was drawn in by the seriously cool packaging and design. When a brand that is famed for a certain type of product delves into other areas you can’t help but feel skeptical, but so far I am very impressed the first item of Soap and Glory make-up I have tried.


To achieve a sexy smudge I turned to Revlon and their Photoready Kajal in black. It comes with a spongy end to enable you to move the pencil once you've drawn it across your lids and under your waterline. I found it a tad rough for my sensitive eyes and turned to my trusty fingertips to create that celebrity mainstay…the smokey eye.


My mission was almost complete, but with little budget left I still had an integral bit of kit to source. For some, mascara is their only daily essential, the one thing they won’t leave the house without applying first. It has the ability to bring a look together and give it that final push. I wanted to find a product that gifted volume, to really enhance the eye looks I had achieved with my other purchases. Collection (in Boots) came to my rescue with their comparatively budget mascara, Volumising 10X. It’s brush is noticeably denser and chunkier than the norm and achieves a pleasing result considering its low price tag.


So there you have it…that’s how I continued in my quest for A/W make up perfection via Brent Cross.


If you are visiting soon, make sure you download the Brent Cross PLUS app from the App Store https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/brent-cross-plus/id950683610?mt=8 or Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.match2blue.ignite.brentcross prior to your visit, and register to make the most of their offers.

Join me in my next blog post, where I try even more products that tap into the stand out A/W Beauty trends, this time purchased from Croydon’s Centrale shopping centre. Till then….
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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

MY HUNT FOR A/W BEAUTY - THE ORACLE TRIP


*This post is sponsored*

We humans are creatures of habit. We all have our particular ways of tackling tasks, functioning in our everyday lives....including our own unique approaches to shopping. We all have favourite stores we sneak into on route to work meetings, and online stores we can’t resist scouring during our lunch breaks. Some of us snack while we shop, our bags providing shelter to an assortment of naughty nibbles. Others text or gossip on their mobiles, while grasping at the rails and feeling up the clothes.

However, these habits and repetition could also be described as boring, stagnant, mundane….a rut if you will. It’s fun to shake things up a little bit, to go out of your comfort zone. Forcing yourself to veer away from your usual path can be incredibly rewarding.

Today I planned to do just this. I was on a serious mission to buy some new beauty goodies that would allow me to try and achieve some of the stand out A/W catwalk trends, updating my well-oiled, 15 year long make-up routine. I was also looking for a change of scene, having tired of the manic nature of shopping in central London and the constant risk of being rained on.

For the last 13 years or so I have visited Reading, not for shopping purposes, but to get muddy in a field while listening to my favourite bands. It’s a fairly swift train journey from my home in Surrey, so I picked the main shopping hub, The Oracle, as one of my new splurge destinations.



Prior to my visit to this mystical shopping land, I  downloaded the shopping centre’s new app The Oracle PLUS [https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/oracle-offers-events-competitions/id981080572?mt=8 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.match2blue.theoracle] - which is like having that know-it-all pal with you at all times….but this pal can fit in your hand and doesn’t drive you up the wall. I didn't want to get distracted from the task at hand, and end up coming home with bags of clothes and home-wares I don't need, so I used the Search feature to find out what beauty stores were in the centre. 


After perusing the What’s On section and feeling a bit miffed that I would be missing out on a show-stopping and quite frankly adorable forthcoming performance by Bars and Melody, I headed to the Offers tab for a quick perk-me-up. I was thrilled to see that I could get 20% off a Giraffe lunch via the app…more on that later. 
Now on to the goal of today....To attain the necessary beauty products needed to catapult me to 'on trend' status by autumn. So surprise, surprise, Black eyeliner is big again this winter. This means no adaptation on my part, considering a moderately thick liner it has been a make-up staple of mine for longer than I wish to admit online. However, this season liner has many different personalities…sexily smudged, feline precision, chunky half measures and even quirky and jagged. To be able to achieve all these looks you really need to invest in a gel…a liquid liner just won’t achieve that smokey look.


(Caption) Using the PLUS app to check for offers and alternative beauty destinations at The Oracle! 

Maybelline’s Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner is the ideal product to nail this trend. The formula gives a wonderfully intense finish. It comes with the addition of a 2 in 1 applicator - one end for defined classic liner looks, the other to create the aforementioned smokey effect. I love how dramatically dark the Noir Black shade is too. Its lasting formula will also be ideal for my upcoming festivals, and tendency my face has for melting during the summer.

The models that weren't sporting classic black, were flashing bright with graphic pops of coloured liner, green shades being the most popular. Boots, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Kiko have a vast array of options for green eyeliners, but the majority were in pencil form and a large chunk in very subtle dark green shades. If I was going to tick off this trend I wanted to do it with oomph. 


Lancôme Turquoise Precision Eyeliner 

I eventually located Turquoise Precision eyeliner by Lancôme (in Boots and Debenhams), which has glittery particles and gives an extremely contemporary aesthetic. 



YSL Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils!

To enhance these liner looks it is integral to complete the look with lashings of mascara. The magpie in me was drawn to the beautiful golden packaging of YSL's Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils, which is the perfect choice. 



So while we are talking eyes, copper was a massive story on the A/W catwalk. Metallics can be a bit intimidating for some, but the warmer tones bronze and coppers are far more wearable and complimentary, and they don't just have to be saved for glam evening occasions.

I don’t need to be tanned all year round, in fact I sort of enjoy the shocked response when I come back from holiday bronzed and glowing....a very different picture to my normal self. That said, I would like the transition from summer golden to autumn pasty to be a little less dramatic...and a little less depressing. I love the idea of dusting my cheeks and nose with a bit of sunshine, courtesy of a bronzer. Boots had a huge amount of options when it came to bronzer, it seems to be a product that more affordable brands do really well. I could have gone for Rimmel and been quite content, but as a renowned chocoholic there was no turning back when stumbling upon this sweet smelling number


(Caption) Bourjois Bronzing Powder and Highlighter duo.


(Caption) L’Oréal Color Riche Le Ombres E3 Infiniment Bronze (BOOTS)

I was tempted by the visual allure and blogger popularity of the extensive Urban Decay palettes in Debenhams, as well as the beauty and the luxury of the Dior eyeshadow sets showcased appealingly in House of Fraser. However, when I stumbled on this rather more affordable L’Oréal number in Boots I realised it ticked all the trend boxes. Warm metallic tones with the opportunity to add dimension with shade and highlights. Done. 


(Caption) Copper eyes 

I don’t need to wax lyrical about the 90’s revival, if you’re on Instagram you will be more than aware of the reappearance of crop tops, chokers and Clueless style checked minis. But one of the most prolific looks has been the matte lip, originally sported by Drew Barrymore, now wholeheartedly endorsed by Kylie Jenner. It was a red matte lip that ruled the runway though, from youthful orangery hues to screen siren post box red and sultry deep scarlets.


When I think of lipstick, I think of MAC, so I headed to their House of Fraser concession to find out which was their best-selling red lippy. Straight away I was handed the Ruby Woo...and within a second another lady asked if she could have one too. I wanted to check it would suit my skin tone with, and post, a tan, and was assured it would still look fab come autumn/winter.


(Caption) Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo £15 (House of Fraser)


 Gloss - on its own or over another lip colour!

It is believed that you are either a gloss person, or a matte person….in the spirit of this expedition, and being open to anything, I decided to delve into both….Yes matte is cool…but how kissable is a glossed up pout?

So brands like Fendi and Rodarte added a translucent shine to the models lips. But it’s a versatile piece of kit too. We also saw models sport a gleam across their cheekbones and eyelids. Gloss can even be used to tame unruly brows. What a clever multitasker.
Lately, due to the number of my friends turning vegan and in turn seeking out cruelty-free beauty products, I have found myself more inclined to consider where and how the products I buy are made. Today, I wanted to seek out some products that were environmentally and ethically conscious. I turned to The Body Shop to buy my multi-purpose clear gloss. 


Body Shop Mint Lip Gloss 

Now, I hope I'm not the only one who wakes up with dry lips. My lips never look soft and smoochable. Apparently lip exfoliation is the answer. Now, I'm pretty lackadaisical when it comes to exfoliating my body, but I hope the smaller surface area will mean this product remains in my routine. After all, there's no point buying these beautiful lip products if your natural base is in a sorry state...like mine. Like they say when buying underwear...the foundations are so important. In keeping with my hunt for some ethical and natural products I headed to Lush.





Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub

Going into a Lush store is always a fun and multi-sensory experience, the displays look good enough to eat...and you probably can given the natural nature of their products. The allure of the colours, smell, and fun functionality of the products, makes it terribly hard to come away with just one. However I was being strict today and just purchased this Lip Scrub in Mint Chocolate. I can already foresee this becoming an addiction..it tastes unreal! 

It is ever so important to refuel even when immersed in a full on day of shopping. You don't want to risk poor purchase decisions because of a dip in energy now do you? The Oracle has a particularly nice array of eateries, many of which reside by the river. There is almost too much choice - Jamie's Italian, La Iguanas, Nandos, Strada, Café Rouge and more. 
P.S The bridge that takes you from the main part of the shopping area to the side of the cinema is decorated with gorgeous vivid flowers.



Thankfully the PLUS app, and its list of offers, made it a tad easier to settle on a restaurant for my pit stop. Today Giraffe had a generous 20% off – so I opened the PLUS app, tapped the offer, and scanned the QR code at the till to get the discount – how exciting, and it made me feel great about ‘treating’ myself to lunch on a weekday. 



So after my successful day at The Oracle, I'd thoroughly recommend you too not only switch up your make-up routine for the upcoming season, but venture to new areas and explore alternative shopping environments. I can't be the only one to feel a bit overwhelmed in our capital city's sprawling shopping centres. My shoulders felt more relaxed, my jaw less tense, my sweating less profuse. It was quite a relief to shop in a more compact, easy to navigate centre, one that lacked the stress inducing crowds and the need for an unpleasant London commute. 

If you intend visiting, make sure you download The Oracle PLUS app [https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/oracle-offers-events-competitions/id981080572?mt=8 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.match2blue.theoracletoo, so you can discover their great offers and find the shops you need with ease. 

I'll be heading to some other amazing shopping centres over the next month. Stay tuned.

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