Thursday 28 August 2014

Barry M Matte Nail Paint in Crush

Autumn is well and truly on its way here in Kent. In fact, Monday and Tuesday this week felt more like the middle of Winter, but let's not dwell on that! My thoughts are turning more and more to leather jackets, Chelsea boots and cosy knits... and to dark and berry coloured nails after a season full of brights.

My sister came to visit over the bank holiday weekend, and, just for a change, we went shopping. I picked up two nail polishes from Barry M, one of which was the Matte Nail Paint in Crush. I fell in love with the colour immediately, and I have to say that my heart sank a little when I realised that it was a matte formula. I've always avoided matte polishes in the past because I love glossy nails, and was fairly sure I wouldn't like any polishes that didn't have a sheen to them. However, the rich burgundy colour of this one is so lovely and so perfect for Autumn that I thought I would be adventurous and give it a try.

What you see in the pictures is two coats of Crush over a base coat of Ciate's Underwear. For some reason I had in mind that a matte polish would be tricky to work with, but Crush glides on like a dream. When you first apply it, it looks glossy, and then it dries to a matte finish.

Barry M Matte Nail Paint in Crush

It's reflecting the light a bit, but I assure you, there is no shine to this whatsoever. It's flat as a pancake.

I have to admit, I hated it at first. Loved the colour, loved the application, hated the matte finish. Then some time passed and I got used to it, and I started to think that maybe it didn't look so bad after all. In fact, I thought, maybe it looked sort of sophisticated.

Barry M Matte Nail Paint in Crush
I'm still undecided about it. I don't think it helps that I've applied it on a day when I'm working at home and thus am wearing a ratty old jumper and jeans and have left my hair and face "au naturel" - in other words, slightly terrifying to dogs and small children. It's kind of tainting the effect of the nails a bit. I also think that the matte finish is pretty unforgiving to anyone who's not amazing at doing their own manicure - i.e. me. Every last bit of sloppiness around the cuticles seems magnified somehow, with no gloss to distract the eye.

Barry M Matte Nail Paint in Crush

That said, I do love the colour, and I'm going to persevere with it. Tomorrow I shall dress as a human being as opposed to a scarecrow and we'll see what I think of it then!

What do you guys think of matte nail polish? (I ask all the hard-hitting questions on this blog!) Any brands/shades you recommend?

Kate x

Monday 25 August 2014

My Current Go-To Makeup - Peachy and Polished

This past couple of weeks I seem to have been applying the same makeup every time I go out, so I thought I would share it with you. It's not exactly quick and easy, or at least it isn't for me, but the result is very soft, neutral and yet polished, which makes it suitable for pretty much any occasion, day or night, smart or casual. My life has been pretty busy lately with a lot of work and family events so I guess that's why I've been recreating it so often! The main focus of the look is peachy, glowing skin.


Face - For foundation, I use my trusty Estee Lauder Double Wear in the shade Cool Bone. I am still on the lookout for a drugstore alternative that suits my skin, and a few of you who read this blog and/or follow me on Twitter have offered some interesting suggestions, so look out for another review coming soon! I apply Collection Lasting Perfection concealer under my eyes - I forgot to include this in the photo - then powder my skin with Rimmel Stay Matte pressed powder.

Eyebrows - I use the Benefit Brow Zings palette, which I talked about in-depth here. I'm still loving this product. Although it was expensive, I have been using it liberally since buying it nearly two months ago and have barely made a dent in it, so I reckon it will be a long time before I need a new one.

Bronze/Blush/Highlight - I have spoken before on my blog about my Aunty, who for some unknown reason off-loads unwanted high end makeup on me every time I see her. (I don't ask why. I just take the makeup and run.) One such acquisition was the Estee Lauder palette which you can see in the top right-hand corner of the above photo. It has a blusher and powder highlight that I must confess I haven't really used that much yet, but nestled between them is the Bronze Goddess Bronzer in 01, and it's really lovely. I use it to warm up my whole face, then add Mac Peaches blusher and a generous sweep of Benefit Watt's Up highlighter at the top of my cheekbones and under the arch of my brows.

Eyes - I use an old Chanel duo that is no longer available but easily replicated - a creamy colour for the lids and a warm, mid-brown blended into the crease. Instead of liner, I've been experimenting with using Natural Collection eyeshadow in Crushed Walnut along my upper and lower lash lines, to create a softer effect. My current mascara is LancĂ´me Hypnose Star.

Lips- This is the one part of this makeup that I've changed recently, and I actually think it makes the look. With my one and only nude lipstick running out fast, I made a naughty little detour on my last supermarket shop to visit the beauty aisle, and ended up coming away with Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Nude Delight. I wasn't 100% sure about it until I actually put it on, but as soon as I did, I loved it. It's a gorgeous peachy colour. It doesn't have amazing staying power, but it's beautifully pigmented and has a lovely creamy consistency. I can see myself repurchasing this over and over again.

Peachy makeup

So there you have it - my peachy, polished makeup look. Let me know what you think!

Kate x

Thursday 21 August 2014

H&M's Transitional Dress

The main subject of today's post is this H&M dress. However, I don't think I can possibly write it without sparing a few words for the bag and shoes too. I hope you don't mind. ;-) All three items are new and I'm obsessed. OBSESSED, I tell you.

H&M Dress
Floral Dress

Let's start with the shoes. Summer is fading fast (does anyone else feel like it only just got here?) and I'm not sure I'll have many opportunities left to wear them. Nevertheless, I've certainly been getting plenty of use out of them this past couple of weeks. (Check out my Instagram if you want to see what they look like with jeans.)

H&M Shoes

I bought them on a total whim. I've been trying to start gearing my mind towards autumn/winter clothes, so I wasn't really looking for sandals at all. But they looked so nice with the dress that I just couldn't help myself. They're also super comfortable. I don't know if I should admit this but my main outdoor activity is shopping, so I love shoes that look good but that I can also pound the streets in. (Although don't wear these if you are planning on trying on other shoes. The laces will drive you nuts.)

Then there's the bag. Ah, the bag. It makes me feel all grown up and put together. It's from Zara, which is my absolute favourite place to buy bags at the moment and has been for some time. I honestly think they do the "could be designer" thing like no other store on the high street. I love everything about this one - the shape, the size, the gold zip. It's got a long strap you can attach when you need your hands free (for ease of shopping, obvs) and little gold feet so that the bottom doesn't get dirty when you put it on the ground. A small detail, but so important! There's a similar (though not identical) black version, which I clearly need as well.

Zara Bag

So, onto the dress. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it in the window of my local H&M. I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but all my dresses tend to be either evening wear or massively inappropriate outside a beach holiday environment. I could see immediately that this one was different. It's a lovely length, stopping just above the knee, and the high neckline and modest sleeves make it so easy to wear when I'm out and about.

Floral H&M Dress
Blue Floral Dress

I could also see straight away that this dress is a perfect "transitional piece". It's light and floaty enough to wear with sandals and bare legs while the weather is still warm, but because it's fairly "covered up" and has a dark base colour, I can see it working just as well with tights, boots and a leather jacket. Since buying it, I've noticed that H&M have introduced another colourway, black with a cream print, which is equally lovely. Do we think I should get it? At £19.99 it would be rude not to, no?!

H&M Dress

Dress - H&M, Shoes - H&M, Bag (available in red) - Zara

One little pointer in case you're interested in the dress - I usually wear a size 8 in H&M but got this in a 6 as it's generously cut.

What do you think of this dress? Are you thinking about new season clothes yet or are you still in full-on Summer mode?

Kate x

Monday 18 August 2014

The Great Foundation Challenge #1 - L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Foundation

It all started on holiday. I'd picked up a bit of a tan, and was wondering if my usual foundation - Estee Lauder Double Wear in Cool Bone - was looking a bit pale on me. I've never bothered getting different shades of foundation to suit my changing skin tone before - I generally just use a bit more bronzer when I'm tanned. But when my husband pointed out that I was wiping out my colour with my "plaster of Paris", I decided that maybe a slightly darker shade is something I need to invest in.

As much as I love Double Wear, though, I'm not sure I want to fork out another £29.50 for a different shade that I probably won't wear that often.

So I've set myself a challenge, to find a good drugstore foundation that I'm happy to use as an alternative. I've done some research (read: spent HOURS on the Boots website), asked for some recommendations on Twitter, and over the weekend I went out to buy contender number 1 - L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Foundation.

L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Foundation; Estee Lauder Double Wear FoundationDon't the shades look similar here? Believe me, they're not.

I wasn't blessed with naturally clear and luminous skin, so I like a full coverage foundation that evens out my complexion, gives an airbrushed finish and provides a good base for the rest of my makeup. I also like it to last all day. Double Wear gives me all this, and I am specifically looking for drugstore foundations that claim to offer the same things.

In the photo below, I'm wearing the Estee Lauder in my usual shade, Cool Bone. My tan is fading fast so I don't think it looks too pale any more.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation

In the next picture, I am wearing the L'Oreal Infallible in the shade Honey. I forgot to line my lower lash line, but other than that the rest of my makeup is exactly the same. I don't have the world's greatest camera equipment at my disposal but I have taken both photos in the same place at the same time of day with pretty much the same amount of light hitting my face.

The colour difference is quite funny. I give you permission to laugh.

L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Foundation

Yes. Exactly. I think I have taken the "just a touch darker" thing a teensy bit too far. In my defence, though, what's on my face bears little resemblance to the shade in the bottle, and when I tested it on my jawline in Boots, it didn't look like this. I wouldn't have bought it if it did. Either it has oxidised on my skin, or I made a huge mistake in picking the colour. This may well have been the case as the lighting in my local Boots is notoriously distorting. Plus, I had to contend with my Mum, who was supposed to be helping me but was mostly just swatching various makeup. ("Look how it makes my skin glow! I'M HAVING IT!") Very distracting. ;-)

Poor colour match aside, I'm disappointed in this foundation. For something that claims to be high coverage, it's remarkably sheer. Even when I try to build it up, I can still see my every imperfection through it. It doesn't even out my complexion in the slightest - if anything, application is patchy and makes it more uneven - and it doesn't give me anything like the luminosity that the Estee Lauder does. I think it's clear from the photos that it hasn't provided nearly as good a base for my makeup either. 

One thing I will say for it, though, is that it does last. What you see on my face in the photo, questionable as it might be, was still there well into the evening.

I don't want to be too harsh, as I am comparing a drugstore product with a high end one that I really love. If you want a long lasting foundation for a reasonable price (£9.99) and don't require a lot of coverage, you might like this. But I won't be persevering with it or bothering to look for a better colour match. This is supposed to be L'Oreal's high coverage offering, and I honestly get more coverage from my Garnier BB Cream. So the quest continues!

Have you tried L'Oreal Infallible? Do you like it? And any ideas which foundation I should try next?

Kate x

Some links may be affiliate links. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Thursday 14 August 2014

The Dreamy Warehouse Dress

If romance were a dress, it would be this one. Silky to the touch, bearing a floral print as delicate as a watercolour painting and light as a cloud to wear, this was one of my favourite "out to dinner" dresses while I was in Mallorca last month.

I mean, just look at it.

Floral Warehouse Dress

I bought it from Warehouse earlier in the summer and I think it was around £50. It may still be available in stores and may well be in the sale but of course it isn't on the website. (General rule of thumb - if I want to blog about it, it isn't on the website.)

It's a midi length at the front - if it looks a bit longer on me it's because I'm only 5'3! - and dips ever so slightly at the back. You can't see in the photos but there is actually a silky pink slip underneath to about knee length, so the part of the dress that's longer than this is slightly sheer. Perhaps because of the length, I like to wear it with quite a high heel, so I chose my nude Zara sandals. I am still completely in love with these shoes, by the way - possibly the most comfortable heels I have ever owned. (Why oh why didn't I snap them up in black when I had the chance? This shall forever be one of my life's most bitter regrets. Well, OK, maybe that's a bit strong.)

Floral Warehouse Dress

Dress - Warehouse, Shoes - Zara, Necklace - A little shop in Santorini

Floral Dress

It's impossible not to feel like a fairy princess in this dress. Skirt-swishing is absolutely essential.

Summer Dress

Do you have a fairy princess dress in your wardrobe, or are they not your cup of tea? If you like them, what's your favourite way to style them?

Kate x

Monday 11 August 2014

Cala d'Or, Mallorca

Today I want to share with you one of my favourite places in the world - Cala d'Or in Mallorca. If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know that I spent a week there recently. My parents, aunty and uncle have rented a villa there every summer for years, and my sister and I still try to join them whenever we can, as the place holds so many happy childhood memories for us.

For the last few years, our temporary island home of choice has been Villa S'Hortet.

It's a really lovely place to stay, has a pool and a barbecue, and plenty of room to house the various members of the family as they come and go.

Life in Cala d'Or on one of our family holidays is not exactly what you might call action-packed, and that's just how we like it. Mornings offer a choice of activities. Turn left out of the villa gates, and a very short walk will take you into the little town. Here you can find a few interesting shops to browse around, including a bakery selling local cakes and pastries, and plenty of cafes and restaurants. My favourite place to stop for a break - because the morning has been so stressful so far - is Cafeteria Plaza. It's a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by, and they make a mean chocolate milkshake, a drink I always crave when on holiday, for some reason. The local cafe con leche (milky coffee) is also really good.

I definitely like the town best in the early mornings, when it's quiet and not too crowded with other holiday-makers. It's also a nice time to look at the parrots who reside at some of the local bars. One thing you guys should know about me is that I bloody love parrots. Totally random, but there you go. I just think they're beautiful and amazing.

OK, let's move on from parrots now.

Dress - Topshop, Sunglasses - H&M

If you fancy walking a little further once you've had your coffee, you can find some quiet streets away from town where you can have a really good nose at other people's villas. Many of these streets are lined with beautiful pine trees. These trees are honestly one of my favourite things about Mallorca. They look and smell amazing, and provide plenty of much needed shade on a blazing hot day. There is a pretty little beach too.

Every so often, just to mix it up a little, we turn right out of the villa gates instead. An equally short walk in this direction takes us to the marina. We stroll along, looking at all the yachts and picking our favourites, before stopping for brunch at Porto Cari.

But whichever direction we turn, we always have to buy food for lunch at the villa. Which means that, chances are, a plastic carrier bag is going to find its way into your blog photos. I like to call this shot "keeping it real".

Shorts - H&M (similar here), Top - River Island, Hat - Accessorize, Flip-Flops - Havaianas, Yellow Bag - Zara, Plastic Bag - Spar 

Afternoons are almost always spent back at the villa around the pool, swimming and sunbathing, reading, chatting, and dozing in the shade.

And in the evenings, we're faced with the difficult decision of where to eat dinner. Sometimes we barbecue at the villa, but usually we go out. There are many lovely restaurants in Cala d'Or, from cheap and cheerful to super-fancy, but one of my favourites is Proas. It serves traditional Mallorcan cuisine and overlooks the marina.

This time, I chose a grilled local fish called serviola, which was served with tumbet - a kind of Mallorcan version of ratatouille made up of fried sliced potatoes, peppers and aubergine. Delicious!

After a long evening filled with good food, good wine and plenty of family chatter, it's back home to the villa, to sleep it all off  before waking early the next morning and doing it all again.

Have you ever been to Cala d'Or? Did you like it? And do you have a favourite holiday spot that you love to go back to?

Kate x

Monday 4 August 2014

Three Steps to Lovely Legs

In my last post, I promised to write about the products I used on my legs when getting ready for the wedding I went to in Santorini. So, here goes!

Like most girls, I have my insecurities when it comes to the way I look. One of my biggest bugbears is the little collection of thread veins that started to appear on my legs sometime around my early twenties. Thread veins are a fairly common issue. They're not harmful, but they're not pretty either and for that reason they can be upsetting. They are usually genetic (thanks Mum!) and while there are certain treatments you can have to get rid of them, these are typically quite expensive and what I have tried so far unfortunately hasn't worked for me. Now, a lot of people tell me that the veins are "not that noticeable", but I notice them. Silly or not, the fact is that they affect my confidence from time to time.

So I've learned to get pretty good at hiding them. This is my three-step "makeup routine" for my legs, which I use for nights out, special occasions, or basically any time they're going to be on display and I want them to look their best.

Cocoa Brown Fake Tan, Veil Cover Cream, Soap ang Glory Glow Lotion

Products from left to right: Cocoa Brown fake tan, Veil Cover Cream, Soap and Glory Glow Lotion

1. Fake tan

The darker my skin, the less obvious the veins look, even without doing anything else. So it's no surprise that fake tan and I have formed a strong friendship over the years. I've tried quite a few different brands, but my current favourite is Cocoa Brown. It's easy to apply, lasts a good few days and gives you a really natural-looking tan at a fraction of the price of many other brands. You still get that delightful biscuity smell while it's developing, but I have yet to find a tanning product that's truly free from that. I reckon for a nice bronzed glow it's worth it!

Veil Cover Cream

2. Leg makeup

Finding Veil Cover Cream has made the biggest difference to my legs. More importantly, it has made the biggest difference to my confidence when it comes to showing them off. It's a specialist makeup which can be used as foundation or concealer on the face or body and is designed to cover pretty much anything, including tattoos and birth marks. You don't necessarily have to go this heavy duty - products such as Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs are supposed to help disguise minor imperfections. However, I personally feel more comfortable slapping on industrial strength coverage.

I've had the individual Veil Cover Creams before, but this time I ordered the medium to dark kit. I'd definitely recommend going for one of the kits if you wanted to try this out for the first time, as you get everything you need in one reasonably priced package. The green cream can be used as a base, and helps to really disguise any blemishes when you put the flesh-coloured creams over the top. Of these, you get a selection, plus a white one, so that you can find your ideal shade. You also get a setting powder that keeps the makeup water and smudge proof, as well as a cleanser and toner for removal.

Below is the "before" picture. This is me with a tan - natural this time rather than courtesy of Cocoa Brown, as I have just got back from a week in Mallorca. You can see that the little veins around my calves and ankles are still visible, although I can assure you, if I wasn't tanned they would be considerably more obvious than this.

Before Veil Cover Cream
Now look what happens when I apply the Veil Cover Cream.

Veil Cover Cream

Can you see the difference? Not only does it conceal the thread veins, it makes the skin on my legs look much smoother and more even too. Every time I put this stuff on and see what it does, I want to wear it every single day. I don't, though, because its downside is that it's quite messy and time-consuming to apply. Also, although the setting powder does a good job of keeping it from rubbing off all over the place, removing it is a nightmare. You think you've washed it all off, step out of the shower and dry yourself, look at your once pristine white towel... and realise there was quite a lot left after all. Kind of annoying.

However, I absolutely love what it does for my legs and it's great having the option to use it when I want to.

3. Gilding the lily

The final step is something I decided to do recently, after seeing Cheryl Cole with an amazing sheen to her legs on the Graham Norton show a few weeks ago. I loved the effect, and decided to look for a product that would do something similar. I found Soap and Glory's Glow Lotion. Dab a little of it along the front of your shins, and you get a nice, subtle sheen. This is what it looks like when it catches the light.

Soap and Glory Glow Lotion
Nothing to do with disguising thread veins, but I like the way it looks! Being a Soap and Glory product, it smells rather lovely too.

So there you have it - my three step leg makeup routine. I hope it was useful for anyone who ever feels less than confident about getting their legs out!

Does anyone else have any tips for beautifying legs?

Kate x
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