Friday, 7 September 2012

Holiday Snaps: Madrid

Over the summer, in the midst of writing my dissertation, I spent some time in Madrid on holiday with my Boyfriend.  I thought I would share a few snaps and a little update, better late than never!

Madrid is one of my favourite cities, alongisde the fact that my parents live there, it also has beautiful weather, shopping and scenery. I would recommend anyone to go for a romantic city break as there is so much to do and the food (and wine) is amazing! It was so hot while I was there, reaching up to 40 degrees, so we spent most of the time by the pool and going out in the mornings or evenings. One of my favourite days was spent in the park which is so beautiful, with loads going on and things to do, including a boat trip onto the lake, which I have wanted to do for ages and happy I finally did it!

If, like me, you love nice food then Madrid is definitely a place to visit. One of my favourite places to get tapas and drinks, is the market (pictured above). You can choose from anything such fresh fish, ham, traditional foods, paella, many desserts as well as cocktails and a massive range of delicious wines. We also went and had a look around the famous Madrid bull ring which was really interesting and the architecture was amazing. We also had some lovely meals out and obviously, spent some time around my favourite Spanish shops (Especially Zara!).

Aside from going on holiday, I have spent the rest of my summer finishing my dissertation and I have now, finally, finished my Master's degree!!  I am now preparing for my big move to London on Saturday to start work!

I hope everyone had a lovely summer - I would love to hear what you've been up to!

I will be back to more beauty and fashion posts in the next couple of days as things get back to normal!

Ali xxx

Friday, 24 August 2012

Perfume on a Budget: Zara Woman: Black

Zara is undoubtedly my favourite high street shop, a perfect mix of classic, trend and quality pieces for a reasonable price. One of Zara's little gems which often goes unnoticed has to be their perfume range. I have owned three other perfumes that I have loved and my most recent purchase is another winner!

You can buy these in both small and larger sizes, I opted for the small 30ml as its perfect to fit into my handbag to use on the go. I bought this in Europe where the prices are a little cheaper and picked it up for a bargain price of 5.95, I think in the UK you can get it for around £7.95.

This is a great evening scent as it is less floral than my previous perfumes, Zara Rose and Zara Femme. Its a beautiful, delicate yet womanly fragrance and as with the majority of Zara perfumes, smells much more expensive! Also, contrary to what you might think, it also lasts quite a long time before the smell wares off.

I swear by Zara's cheap perfume alternativesfor those months in between christmas and birthdays when, as a student, I can't quite justify forking out a fortune for something I can get for the fraction of the price!

Have you ever tried this perfume or any of the other offerings from Zara?

Ali xxx

Have you ever tried

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer

Arguably the most valued item in my everyday makeup bag is the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer. It also comes with me wherever I go, for those moments when I need to touch up my make-up throughout the day.

It is an excellent and quite high coverage concealer, great for applying over blemishes, evening out my skin tone or topping up worn off foundation on the go. The packaging helps to make this really easy, it comes in a sleek little compact complete with a great sized mirror too. As the texture is quite drying, it isn't too great for concealing the under-eye area, where I prefer to use a lighter, illuminating concealer.

This product is also fantastic to last all year and get you through both the summer and winter months. There are two shades, similar in tone yet there is one darker than the other for those times when you get a little extra colour to help create the perfect custom-made shade. Also helping to make sure that this products lasts throughout the year, is that even with almost everyday use, it takes ages to finish. The high level of pigment means that very little product is needed to achieve perfect coverage, it is super long wearing and it doesn't dry out. In my eyes, this helps to make the high-end price tag of £26 a little more justifiable!!

I always apply this product after my foundation, it is so blend-able and creates a flawless finish. When I use this product at home during my morning make-up routine, I use a brush, blending the product on the back of my hand to warm it up and create the right shade. I then apply lightly onto the needed areas that haven't been covered by my foundation. I then set with my translucent powder and your ready to go! If I find I need a touch up during the day when my make-up begins to look a little tired I warm the product on my hand with my finger and gently apply.

This is something I don't see myself being without any time soon and I would recommend for all skin types and colours!

What's your go-to concealer? Have you tried this one yet?

Ali xx

Monday, 6 August 2012

OOTD: Spanish Sunshine

Dress: Mango
Bag: Aldo
Sandals: Aldo
Watch: Omega
Bracelet: Pandora

Face: Dior BB Cream
Cheeks: Bourjois Bronzer, MAC Fleur Power, MAC Cream Colour Base in Pearl
Eyes: Maybelline Gel Liner, Bourjois Volume Clubbing Mascara, 
MAC Paintpot in Barestudy, Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Tease,
Eyebrows: MAC Lingering
Lips: Mac Plink!

Here is an outfit of the day from my recent visit to Madrid to see my parents. We went out for a nice meal, and as it is still so hot and sunny in the evenings, this is what I wore! I bought this dress while I was out there, I just couldn't resist the gorgeous electric blue colour as this is something I have been looking for for a while. I also love the light silky material and the floaty design because it's perfect for the sunshine and heat.

The bag is my new staple accessory, its the perfect size for me to fit in all my things - I always carry so much around! I think the colour is really versatile so it will go with loads of my outfits.

Tomorrow I am back to Madrid again to make the most of the Spanish sunshine this summer, although I am going to be doing some dissertation work while I'm there! I will also be spending some time with my family and boyfriend, enjoying the food and visiting the sights (and shops!). I am thinking of doing a little holiday photo diary too while I am there!!

I hope everyone's having a lovely summer!

Ali xxx


Friday, 27 July 2012

MAC Cream Colour Base: Pearl

MAC Cream Colour Base - Pearl £14.50

Whilst on the search for a new face highlighter, I came across this Cream Colour Base in MAC in the shade Pearl. I am a fan of highlighters, and I love adding a bit of extra glow onto my browbone, cheekbones and occasionally on my cupids bow. I had every intention of purchasing the MSF in soft and gentle, however I wanted something that wasn't too glittery or shimmery.

This highlighter adds a gentle iridescent sheen to the skin, and gives an extra bit of glow where it's needed. I love the colour it gives as it's really subtle and the colour matches my pale skin (and still looks good with my tan too!).  It is described as a pale gold with icy shimmer. You can slightly see the sheen it gives on the swatch above after it was blended in - I love how subtle it looks without any glitter or shininess.

The only problem I have with this highlighter is that it isn't the easiest to apply. I usually just dab it gently onto the necessary areas with my finger, but it isn't too blendable and I find I have to be careful not to rub off my foundation underneath. To stop this happening, I make sure that I warm up the product before applying. I am not really a fan of applying my make-up with my fingers and always opt for a brush wherever possible, so I sometimes apply it with a foundation brush which works OK too. I am also going to try with a make-up sponge too and see how that works! I do love that this product is buildable, however I think a light application looks best!

Overall, I love the look that this highlighter gives, as it isn't at all shiny, but gives a slight glow and sheen to the skin. Having tried this, I now want to branch out to try some different highlighters and see how they compare as I don't quite think this is the 'perfect' one for me - so any recommendations will be very much welcome!

I hope everyone has been enjoying the sunshine! Sadly for me I have been stuck at uni finishing off my dissertation and have missed all the glorious weather! Tomorrow I am off to my cousins wedding - and I am a bridemaid so I am veryyy excited, lets hope the weather stays the same :)

What is your highlighter of choice? Are you doing anythign nice this weekend?

As always, I love to hear from everyone!

Ali xx

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Dior Hydra Life BB Cream

 Dior Hydra Life BB Cream - £41 from House of Fraser

The battle of the best BB cream seems to be ever debated and ongoing. After waiting for a while to find my perfect one, I eventually discovered the Dior Hydra Life BB cream. Combining the moisturising and sun protection elements of a skin care product with the complexion enhancing powers of a foundation, this one-step BB cream

This one product is suitable for all skin types and colours, as it blends effortlessly into the skin, adapting to your individual colour and tone. If anything, it is a little yellow in tone for me, but if you wait a few minutes after application and apply a little bronzer over the top it creates a very natural finish which is soft and velvety to touch.  As you can see in the final picture, the product has blended into my hand perfectly, adapting perfectly to my skin tone.

The coverage is pretty good, it evens out my skin tone and covers any irregularities. If you have any blemishes, all you will need is a little touch of concealer on the problem areas. I haven't found it necessary to add any powder to the skin, as the colour lasts and improves the skins moisture and hydration without adding any extra shine. One of the best aspects of this product for me, is that whilst giving a surprisingly good coverage, it feels extremely lightweight on the skin.

With an added bonus of SPF 30, I have been using this product as a sun cream whilst out in Spain and it has been so much nicer on my skin. I haven't burnt or suffered from any breakouts and my skin has remained hydrated yet flawless. This also means that this is perfect for holidays and will substantially cut down the amount of products you need to take with you!

The only downside to this product is the price, but I haven't found a high-street equivalent yet that lives up to this! Acting as a primer, moisturiser, foundation and SPF all in one, this all-in-one product is my favourite for summer.

Whats your favourite product for summer? Do you use a BB cream?

Ali xxx

Monday, 16 July 2012

YSL Effect Faux Cils Indecent Volume Shocking Mascara

YSL Effect Faux Cils Indecent Volume Shocking Mascara - £23 

Full, volumised and curled lashes is definitely my look of choice and I have found the most amazing mascara to help me achieve this! I have always been a fan of YSL mascaras and this one is no exception. 

The helix shaped brush means that the bristles curve around the wand in a spiral shape, making it different to the original YSL Faux Cils mascara, resulting in an even application on each lash. The product applies effortlessly, giving instant volume, thickness and length to the lashes alongside a long-lasting curl. The formula is of a creamy and luxurious consistency, and the sleek gold packaging also helps to add to this luxurious and expensive feel. This mascara is may be more suited to a night time look as it gives a rather dramatic effect, however, it can be applied lightly to make it more day-time appropriate. Alternatively, the original Faux Cils mascara might be better option for this.

Overall, this is everything I could ask for in a mascara, giving a long- lasting and even curl, thickness, volume and length in a few easy strokes. It is an absolute dream to apply and even though it is a little bit more expensive than high street brands, it is definitely a cut above the rest!

What is your favourite mascara? Are the High end mascaras worth it?

Ali xxx

Saturday, 14 July 2012

MAC Lipstick: Plink!

On Wednesday I flew out to Madrid in Spain to visit my parents and enjoy the beautiful sunshine! One of the best things about traveling abroad by plane is the duty free make-up counters, so what better way to spend my time at the airport than looking for a new lipstick to add to my collection! As I didn't have an abundance of time to go through each lipstick, carefully choosing which one I wanted, I went for something which stood out to me that I haven't looked at before.

Knowing that I wanted a light and easy wearing summer shade, to wear on holiday and at home that would add a subtle yet warm glow of colour to the lips, I chose the shade Plink! I was torn between this and the new Cut a Caper shade from the Heavenly Creatures collection, but I decided to opt for the pinker shade instead of the coral as it was a bit too similar to my more recent purchases!

Plink! is a Lustre finish so it applies quite sheer to the lips but it is definitely build-able. Although I am not usually a fan of shimmery lipsticks, I think this is quite subtle and something which is great for a holiday to go with a more natural or bronzed make-up look. I do love the warm rosy pink tones of this lipstick and I would recommend this if you're looking for a natural and easy to wear pink shade or a nice alternative to the more baby pink colours.

What's your most recent lipstick purchase? Have you found any nice summery shades?

Ali xxx

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Update...and a trip to London!

From top to bottom: One of many cool phone box artworks around London, British Flags on Oxford Street, International flags on Regent Street, Outside Belgo's, Inside Belgo's, Liberty's, Carnaby Street, Carnaby Street again!!

Hello everyone! Sorry for my lack of blogging for the past week, I have desperately needed some more hours in the day to fit it in! On the upside, I have loads of posts lined up for the next few weeks - beauty, fashion and lifestyle related! I have been sooo busy recently, for those that follow me on Twitter will already know, I have recently moved house and started my dissertation in the same week which had taken up most of my time. I am also planning my big move to London for September this year at the end of my Masters degree to begin an Internship so flat hunting has jumped to the top of my priorities!

Yesterday, I went for a shopping trip with my boyfriend in London for his birthday which only added to the excitement of it all as it is one of my favourite cities so I thought I would share a couple of snaps from the day! The weather has been so disappointing recently, it is supposed to be July so where is the sunshine!!! Luckily, we managed to avoid the rain but it was still a little overcast as you can see from the photos. We spent the day wondering around Covent Garden, Oxford Street, Carnaby Street and Shoreditch and of course, I took my camera out with me! The best part of the day was the lovely lunch we had in a Belgian restaurant, Belgo's, where I had some delicious mussels and Belgian Beer. I would definitely recommend it if you like that kind of food as it has a lovely atmosphere and it is reasonably priced too!

I hope everyone has been enjoying the 'summer' so far - if we can call it that! I would love to hear what everyone else has been up to recently!I am off to visit my parents in Madrid next week which I am really looking forward to, my duty free male-up shopping list has grown way too long already!!!

Love Ali xxx

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Clarins Pore Minimizing Serum: Review

 Clarins Pore Minimizing Serum - £22.00 for 30ml

In the quest for flawless looking skin I have recently started trying Clarins Pore Minimizing Serum. The lightweight formula contains a combination of Alpine Willow Herb, Hibiscus Flower extract, Dead Nettle and Soft Wheat Proteins to reduce large pores by repairing skin cells, tightening the walls of the pores and subsequently refining skins texture and firmness. Whilst instantly tightening pores, this product also helps to deliver all day shine control by reducing sebum to create a smooth, matte skin texture alongside a fresh, flawless complexion. 

The light formulation of the serum means that it glides smoothly onto the skin; this, paired with the delicate scent makes the application effortless and enjoyable.

Although this serum has immediate effects, it also works as a treatment for the pores and, therefore, best results are seen after a few weeks use. With this in mind, I have been using this for 3 weeks before writing my review and I have found my skin to be noticeably smoother and the appearance of  pores has been dramatically reduced. 

Pore minimizing products or treatments is not something used by everyone, but it is something that I have started to enjoy using to help give me a more flawless base and improve the look of my make-up-less face. I would recommend this product to anyone who, like me, wants to effectively reduce the size of pores as this is a more longer lasting treatment compared to other products which just mask their appearance.

Do you use pore minimizing products and have any recommendations?

Ali xxx

Friday, 15 June 2012

Top Summer Beauty Products: Face

1. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser - £33 from House of Fraser
2. Laura Mercier Secret Camoflague- £26 from Space NK
3. Bourjois Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder - £6.99 from Boots
4. MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle - £21.50 from MAC
5. Urban Decay Primer Potion - £14.50 from Beauty Bay
6. L'oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara - £9.35 from Feel Unique
7. MAC Costa Chic - £13.50 from MAC
8. Blistex Daily Lip Conditioner - £2.59 from Boots

During the summer months,  I hate feeling and looking like my face is caked in heavy make-up, so I turn to lighter products that are sun and heat friendly. When the weather gets hotter, I tend to stay away from foundation and lean more towards tinted moisturisers or BB creams.  One particular product I am a fan of for summer is the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser. This sheer and lightweight product adds a hint of colour to even out the skin tone, whilst creating a natural and glowing look to leave you feeling like you are wearing no make-up at all. It also provides the the added protection of a sun cream, with SPF 20 to protect from the harmful UVA and UVB rays.

When using a tinted moisturiser, if you have any blemishes that may not get fully covered, I find a good concealer can work wonders so you don't feel like you have to layer on the foundation. My favourite product for this is the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer which provides a great coverage on the necessary areas. The product also comes with two different shades which is perfect for summer when you get that bit of extra colour to the skin.

To give a golden glow when the sun comes out, I like to apply a bit of bronzer to add warmth and brighten up my face. I tend to stay away from a shimmery bronzers when I'm in the sun so I use the Bourjois Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder as I find that the colour is great for my skin tone and I love the matte finish. 

To go alongside bronzer, a trusty highlighter can create a fresh and dewy look for the summer when applied lightly to the top of the cheekbones, on the tip of the nose and cupids bow.  There are quite a few to choose from and it is personal preference when deciding between powder, cream or liquid highlighters. At the moment, I am loving MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle as I find powder highlighters so easy to apply to create that natural glowing look.

For longer-lasting eye-shadow in the summer months, I find that using a primer is necessary if you want it to last throughout the day. Urban Decay Primer Potion has been loved by many and is really great at preventing smudging and improving staying power.

Waterproof mascara is a must have item for me when I go on holiday, but I am starting to use it more often to prevent smudging when it gets hotter. I usually love to apply lashings of mascara but, again, I have started to opt away from this and create a much more natural look. For this, I love using L'oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara as it seperates and adds length to the lashes without clumping, but can also be built up if you want to add thickness too.

A great bright lipstick can help to finish off a summery make-up look. My favourite shades at the moment are bright corals and I think that Mac Costa Chic is prefect to add that pop of colour. I have written a more lengthy post with swatches here. Alongside this, lip protection is also necessary to stay clear of nasty blisters! I would recommend Blistex Daily Lip Conditioner as it has SPF 15 and leaves the lips feeling silky smooth.

What do add to your make-up collection in the summer? Do you have a 'go-to' make-up product?

I really do hope the sun starts to come out and all of you have a really great summer!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

My Top Summer Beauty Products: Body

 1. Garnier Ambre Solaire Golden Protect Shimmering Protection Lotion SPF 20 - £.8.30 from Feel Unique 
2. Origins A Perfect World Intensely Hydrating Body Cream with White Tea - £27 for 200ml from Boots 
3. Origins Modern Friction Scrub - £30 for 125 ml from Boots 
4. Redken Colour Extend After Sun Mask £17.25 from Feel Unique, Mark Hill Holiday Hair Cover Up! Protection Spray £5.99 from Boots
5. Fake Bake Flawless £26 from Boots 
6. This Works Perfect Skin Miracle £28 from Boots
7. Essie - Fiji and Tart Deco £7.99 from Boots 
8. YSL Elle Summer Edition £35 for 90ml from Boots

Without competition, the most important beauty product for summer in my opinion is sun tan lotion to protect from the harmful and premature aging effects of UVA and UVB rays. This new shimmering protection lotion from Garnier adds a golden shimmer to the skin whilst adding a radiant glow. It has a non-greasy formula and holiday fragrance enriched with Monoi Oil which leaves you protected and hydrated throughout the day with a glistening pearly glow.

A good exfoliator is key when trying to prolong and maintain that gorgeous sun-kissed glow. Without this, skin can become dry, peeling and uneven after sunbathing. This skin-refining exfoliator from Origins eradicates dead skin cells, uneven patches and signs of skin damage and discolouration to produce smooth and polished skin with a natural-looking tan.

An essential step after exfoliation is moisture replenishment, to help to maintain your tan whilst hydrating the skin after sun exposure. Origins intensely hydrating body cream is perfect for this as its rich and creamy texture sinks into the skin beautifully to prevent it from peeling and create a healthy glow.

If you are not a fan of baking in the sun, but love having a natural-looking tan, then a good fake tan can look just as good without the harmful effects. My favourite fake tan is the Fake Bake Flawless tan (full post here) because, as stated in the name, it creates a flawless even looking tan. If fake tanning is not your thing, I would recommend This Works Perfect Skin Miracle to even out the skin tone whilst giving a bronzed sheen to the legs, helping to give you that extra bit of confidence in the hotter weather.

Protection for your hair can be just as important as your skin if you want to keep healthy-looking and hydrated locks. To protect, this spray from Mark Hill is perfect; with SPF it helps to protect from the suns rays and prevent a dry scalp or fading colour. To intensely treat sun-damaged and dry hair, this moisture rich hair mask from Redken helps to reverse existing damage and prevent colour fading.

To complete the polished look for summer, a pretty nail varnish is at the top of my list. My favourite colours for summer are bright corals or pretty pastels. I absolutely love Fiji from Essie as it looks light, feminine and polished whilst Tart Deco adds a bright splash of colour.

A light summer spritz of perfumeis the final step in my summer and holiday preparation. I have always been a fan of YSL Elle perfume, so the summer edition is great for me!

What are your essential summer items for the body? My next post will be my favourite summer beauty products for the face!

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