Monday 29 September 2014

Ark Skincare Review

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Inside Out Beauty event held by the Elixir Clinic and Ark Skincare as part of London Fashion Week. (I blogged about it here.) As if getting to attend such a lovely event wasn't enough, we were also sent home with goodie bags containing two Ark Skincare products to try. I've been using them for the past fortnight, so I thought it was about time I let you know my thoughts on them.

Ark Skincare is not a brand I had heard of before the event. They are unusual in that, in their own words, they don't believe in skin types. Instead, their skincare ranges are designed to suit three different age groups - teens to early thirties, mid-thirties to fifty, and fifties and beyond. As I mentioned in my earlier post, the simplicity of this approach is something that really appeals to me. Sometimes, skin types can be difficult to pin down and they can change with the seasons or a whole host of other factors, so the idea of selecting products based purely on your age is quite refreshing.

Ark Skincare Review

The two products I received are the Regenerating Skin Defence and the Anti-Ageing Skin Protector SPF 30 Primer. I was pretty excited to try both of them - especially the primer, as I've never actually used one before and it's something that's been on my list of things to try for a long time. The packaging of Ark products is really lovely - clean and simple in white and silver, which I love. I've been applying the Regenerating Skin Defence after cleansing and toning each morning, followed by my usual moisturiser, and then the primer before my makeup.

Ark Skincare Regenerating Skin Defence

The Regenerating Skin Defence contains Alpine Rose and Vitamins B, C and E. It's designed to firm the skin, smooth wrinkles and protect against environmental damage. When you dispense the product it smells wonderful, in a natural, "plant-y" sort of way, if that makes sense. It's a rich, creamy formula that has a beautiful pearlescent sheen to it, and as you smooth it into your skin you can feel the firming action getting to work pretty much immediately. It claims to be anti-inflammatory, and once the product has had time to settle into my skin, I definitely notice a reduction in redness in those areas where I sometimes suffer from it (around my nose and cheeks).

Ark Skincare Anti-Ageing Skin Protector SPF 30 Primer

The anti-ageing primer has a similarly natural scent to it but is much lighter in formulation, and looks white until it's absorbed by the skin. Once it's sunk in, my complexion feels silky smooth to the touch and looks much more even in tone. It's a bonus to know that with shea butter and SPF 30, it's also protecting my skin from ageing and the elements. As a base for makeup, I've most noticed its benefits on days when I wear my Garnier BB cream rather than a full-on foundation. The BB cream stays put for about eight hours with this baby underneath. Without it, I'm lucky if it lasts for four.

At £70 for the Regenerating Skin Defence and £36 for the Anti-Ageing Primer, this skincare range is not the cheapest out there, although it is by no means the most expensive either. Most of the products fall into the £25 - £30 price range. I am seriously impressed with the two I've been using and have seen a definite improvement in my skin over the last two weeks. I will almost certainly be repurchasing them once they've been used, as well as trying other products from the brand.

Has anyone else tried anything from Ark Skincare? What did you think? Any recommendations are most welcome!

Kate x

Thursday 25 September 2014

Berry Lips on a Budget

With Autumn on the horizon, I've been rediscovering my love of plums and berry tones, particularly when it comes to makeup. Two lipsticks that I reached for a lot this time last year definitely fall into this category, and also happen to be the most affordable items of makeup I own. They've been well-loved and well-used for some time now, so I hope you'll forgive them looking a little scruffy around the edges. Say hello to Raspberry (on the left) and Cranberry from the Boots Natural Collection line of Moisture Shine lipsticks.

Boots Natural Collection Lipsticks in Raspberry and Cranberry

These lipsticks, along with every other item of makeup by Natural Collection, cost a whopping £1.99 each. I have to admit this made me suspicious at first. If it's that cheap, I wondered, surely the quality wouldn't be up to much? Well, in fact, the quality is seriously impressive for the price. The shades of these lipsticks are lovely, they are smooth and creamy to apply and have a nice shiny finish. The staying power isn't the greatest, but it's not terrible either. Blot and reapply - it's old school, but it works! - and you'll get a good two to three hours out of one of these bad boys.

The only thing I'm not crazy about is the white plastic packaging, but let's face it, if a brand is going to offer such low-priced makeup, it's the packaging I want them to skimp on, rather than the product!

Boots Natural Collection Moisture Shine Lipsticks

You can see from the swatches how pigmented these lipsticks are. Raspberry is at the back and Cranberry at the front.

Boots Natural Collection Moisture Shine Lipstick in Cranberry

And here I am in my selfie spot, wearing my selfie shirt. As usual with these face pictures, I'm concentrating, so cannot possibly smile at the same time. I'm wearing Cranberry above, and Raspberry below.

Boots Natural Collection Moisture Shine Lipstick in Raspberry
Do you like these shades? Which is your favourite? Any other Natural Collection fans out there?

Kate x

Monday 22 September 2014

A Match Made in Heaven

It's official - I'm addicted to Zara bags. I featured a cream one in this post a while back, and mentioned that when I was buying it I saw a similar one in black which I was tempted to get for the Autumn/Winter season. Well, I bought it. And more by accident than design, I've also ended up getting a new wallet from Kurt Geiger that looks perfect with it, like the two pieces were made to go together. Naturally, this has made me feel all grown-up and put together. (Does anyone else feel like if the contents of their bag are all nice and neat and orderly, their life is too? Just me? OK then.)

Zara Bag and Kurt Geiger Wallet

Bag - Zara, Wallet - Kurt Geiger

The bag is made in that structured, ladylike style that seems to be so popular at the moment and which I'm really getting into. It's a nice size - big enough to carry what you need when out and about, but not so cavernous that you're tempted to fill it with half your worldly possessions. Like the cream bag, it has little gold feet which keep the bottom from getting scuffed when you put it on the floor. Little details like this are a big plus in my book - if I'm going to buy a new bag, I don't want it to get spoiled the first time I put it down in a coffee shop. I absolutely love the gold hardware on this bag, especially the big gold zip. It has a pocket on the outside and one on the inside, and a long strap to attach when needed. Plus, the lining is purple, which is kind of cool. 

Zara Bag
Black Zara Bag
Black Zara Handbag
At £39.99 I think this bag is a real bargain. The wallet was quite a bit more expensive, but it's real saffiano leather, whereas the bag isn't, even though it looks and feels as though it's made of exactly the same material. The wallet was £80, but I had a 20% discount card, which took some of the sting out of it. In any case, I was due a new purse. My old one was about a decade old and falling apart. This one is very roomy and has lots of space for all my cards, notes and coins, and again, I love the gold hardware. It adds a touch of glamour and really makes it look like it belongs with the bag!

Kurt Geiger Wallet
Black Wallet
Black Kurt Geiger Wallet
I'm loving both these items and I'm sure they will get a lot of use over the cooler months. And there's really only a couple more Zara bags that I have my eye on. (All right, three.)

Anyone else as obsessed with Zara's bags as I am?

Kate x

Wednesday 17 September 2014

London Fashion Week Event - Inside Out Beauty

Some of you may know that I attended my very first press event on Friday. I'm not going to lie - I did a little excited dance when the invitation landed in my inbox. The event, part of London Fashion Week and held at the very luxurious Grace Belgravia health club, sounded amazing, and I certainly wasn't disappointed when I arrived. I was slightly nervous, as I didn't know anybody, but it didn't matter as everyone was so friendly and welcoming. By far the best part of the night for me was meeting some lovely fellow bloggers, who helped to make the evening so much fun.

Inside Out Beauty Event at the Grace Belgravia

We were met by our hosts, representatives from Ark Skincare and The Elixir Clinic, who were so enthusiastic about their products and keen to tell us all about them. The theme of the night was "Inside Out Beauty", something that really appeals to me. After all, we all know that if we are not taking care of our insides, it shows on the outside!

The Elixir Clinic specialises in vitamin infusions, that is, delivering powerful concoctions of vitamins via an intravenous drip. There are various combinations you can take, targeting detoxing, youthful beauty, hair growth, etc. I must admit, I find the idea of taking my vitamins intravenously slightly terrifying, but there's no denying it's an effective way to get them right into your system. Everyone I spoke to who had experienced the treatment spoke very highly of it, saying that it left them feeling refreshed and rejuvenated afterwards. There was even one lady who told us it had helped to regrow her hair after an issue with her body being unable to absorb vitamin C. I'm definitely intrigued by it, though it still scares me! I'd love to know what you guys think of this sort of treatment. Would you be tempted? Has anyone tried it? Let me know in the comments!

London Fashion Week Inside Out Beauty Event

Ark Skincare is not a brand I had heard of before, but when I researched them, I found them very interesting. They target their ranges towards different ages rather than different skin types - so from teens to early thirties, mid-thirties to fifty, and fifties and beyond. The simplicity of this is definitely something that appeals to me, as I often find the whole skin type thing somewhat confusing. Ark products are packed full of natural ingredients and I'm excited to give some of them a try. I've been feeling as though I'm in a little bit of a skincare rut lately, so this introduction to a new brand could not have come at a better time for me.

Ark Skincare Event at London Fashion Week

Ark also do home aromatics, including scent diffusers, which we weren't shy in picking up from the table to get a good sniff of. I particularly liked the fresh, citrus notes of the Living diffuser.

Ark Skincare Inside Out Beauty Event

Once we had found out about the brands, I was whisked away to get my complimentary manicure and hand massage with one of Ark Skincare's nourishing oils, which felt wonderful. My nails were painted with Essie's Mademoiselle, which looks just like my natural nail colour, only creamier, glossier and generally healthier. I forgot to take any pictures of this but I felt like a million dollars afterwards.

Then it was time to sample some of the goodies laid on for us that night - delicious sashimi and superfood smoothies. The smoothies came in a choice of red or green. Green looked somewhat scary to me, so I picked red, thinking that it would be made from berries. Sadly, it wasn't. It was made from beetroot, which is one of the few foods I really dislike. In the spirit of Inside Out Beauty, though, I drank it, because it's good for me. The sashimi, however, was amazing and I could have polished off the whole tray by myself. I didn't, though. That would have been rude.

Sashimi at London Fashion Week

Sushi at London Fashion Week

Superfood smoothies at London Fashion Week

Water with Cucumber

Being a newbie, I had no idea what I should wear to a blogging event, so I settled on a simple black playsuit from Zara. (Looks more like a dress really.) In fact, I ended up wearing head to toe Zara, apart from the necklace which is from Topshop. Credit for this photo goes to the lovely Jess from The Beauty Sanctuary.

As the evening drew to a close, we were each handed a goodie bag, containing two Ark skincare products to try. I can't wait to give them a go, and I will of course be reviewing them here once I get a good feel for them.

Goodie bags at London Fashion Week

Ark Skincare

I had the best time at the event, and I'm so grateful to have been invited. Thanks to everyone involved and all the lovely ladies I met for making it such a great night!

Kate x

Thursday 11 September 2014

Get to Know Me Tag

I've been blogging for nearly six months now, and it occurred to me the other day that I haven't shared a huge amount about myself in that time. What better excuse could there be to do a Get to Know Me Tag? That's right, none!

There's a few versions of this floating around the internet. Some have 100 questions. Don't worry, I've plumped for a 25 question one. 

Here goes!

1. Do you have a middle name?

Um... Yes. It's Louise. Shocker.

2. What was your favourite subject at school?

English, art, history. All the humanities!

3. What's your favourite drink?

Kind of depends on a lot of factors. Time of day, the weather, occasion, etc. As I write this it's the end of a long, hard working day, so I'm longing for a nice glass of wine and some fancy crisps. This particular combination, to be enjoyed at approximately 5.30 pm, is known in my family as a "drinky-poo". That's the official technical term.

4. What's your favourite song at the moment?

Lily Allen's "Air Balloon" has been going around my head for ages.

5. What would you name your children?

Erm..... No idea. I feel like I'd have to meet them first, if that makes sense?

6. Do you participate in any sports?

No. I hate sports. But I love yoga, Pilates and aerobics.

7. What's your favourite book?

I thoroughly enjoyed the Game of Thrones books and can't wait for the next one to be published. But my all-time favourite book is probably "Watership Down" by Richard Adams. It's beautiful and I've read it more times than I can count.

8. What's your favourite colour?

Again this depends on many things, but I tend to prefer warm rather than cool colours.

9. What's your favourite animal?

I love all animals, but cats are pretty amazing.

10. What's your favourite perfume?

It's currently Stella by Stella McCartney, but I'm a big fan of Jo Malone perfumes too. I've decided that I want to branch out and try some new perfumes soon. It's important to keep setting new goals in life.

11. What's your favourite holiday?

Christmas I guess, though I love all the different seasons and enjoying what each one brings.

12. Have you graduated from high school?

Yes. Quite some time ago. Moving on...

13. Have you been out of the country?

Yep! I've seen quite a lot of Europe, including Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. I've been to the U.S. too and I also lived in Belgium for around 13 years and loved it.

14. Do you speak any other languages?

None fluently, though I understand Dutch quite well and a little French also. I can order a chocolate milkshake in Spanish, which is a vital life skill.

15. Do you have any siblings?

Yes, I have a sister who is also my best friend.

16. What's your favourite store?

I go through phases. It's Zara at the moment. I also love Topshop, River Island and H&M.

17. What's your favourite restaurant?

Now this is easy. It's called the Belgaqueen and it's in central Brussels. The decor is amazingly beautiful and they serve delicious locally sourced Belgian food.

18. Do you like school?

Like I said, school is a fairly distant memory for me, but on the whole, yes. My A-level years (16 to 18) were fantastic and I had the best time.

19. Who are some of your favourite Youtubers?

The Persian Babe has amazing style and I could listen to her talk all day. I also love Pixiwoo, Beautycrush and Shirley B Eniang. Beauty and the Blog does some lovely makeup looks. I try not to get hooked on too many though, because I work from home, so the potential for distraction is real and dangerous!

20. What's your favourite movie?

It's impossible to give just one answer to this. The most recent ones I can think of are the last two Planet of the Apes movies. I didn't expect to like them that much but I thought they were amazing. You've Got Mail and Lost in Translation are also springing to mind. And the movie of Watership Down will always have a special place in my heart.

21. What are some of your favourite TV shows?

I was obsessed with Lost. I'm also a big reality show fan, though I tend to watch them for the clothes and makeup rather than the "story". I miss shows like Buffy and Charmed. Those were the days.

22. PC or Mac?

PC. Is it still OK to call myself a blogger?!

23. What phone do you have?

iPhone 5. Redeemed myself slightly with that one.

24. How tall are you?


25. Any pets?

No. But one day when I have the time to look after one properly, I want a dog or a cat. Or a parrot.

So there you have it! 25 things you didn't know about me, and probably weren't going to ask! I hope you found it at least mildly entertaining.

I'm quite excited at the moment, as I'm attending my very first blogging event on Friday. My plan is to do some posts next week about my experience, what I wore, etc. So stay tuned for that! In the meantime, if anyone reading this fancies doing this tag, then consider yourself tagged, my friend! Let me know if you do it and I'll come take a look!

That's all for now!

Kate x


Monday 8 September 2014

Barry M Gelly Nail Effects in Blackberry

I hope you guys don't mind another nail polish post so soon after the last one, but if I'm honest they are one of the quickest posts for me to do when I'm run off my feet with other things, which seems to be ALL the time at the moment!

Also, this is a new purchase, and I couldn't wait to try it out!

I bought Barry M Gelly Nail Effects in Blackberry at the same time as the matte nail paint in Crush, which I blogged about here. In case you remember how undecided I was about the matte polish, I can tell you that it grew on me in a big way. Whether or not I would buy more matte finishes I'm not sure, but the colour of that one is really beautiful, and once I got used to it, I really enjoyed wearing it. I also found it lasted quite a while before chipping, too.

But anyway, back to Blackberry. I love Barry M's Gelly Hi-Shine range, so I knew I was going to like the finish of this. However, the colour was a bit of a gamble. (Sometimes in life, we all have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Others go bungee jumping; I buy shades of nail polish that I'm not sure will suit me.) I've tried all manner of blue polishes in the past - pastel blues, sky blues, glittery blues - and they never seem to work on me. However, I've never tried a navy or darker shade of blue before, and Blackberry looked so pretty that I just had to give it a go.

Barry M Gelly Nail Effects in Blackberry
Now I'm not the best at painting my nails, even when I have plenty of time, which was not the case yesterday. So please excuse the (very) messy edges. If anyone has any good tips for achieving a neat manicure then please let me know! But, my own lack of skill aside, I have to say that I really love this colour. I think it's quite a sophisticated way to do blue nails. I'm wearing a base coat but no top coat. I don't think you need one with the Gelly finishes, as they're so shiny. Compared to others I've tried from this range, application is lovely and smooth. I'm wearing two coats in these pictures.

Blue Nail Polish

I think I'm developing a bit of an addiction to Barry M polishes. Their colour range is amazing and they're so affordable too. My sister picked up one of the silk finish shades when I bought this one, and it looks beautiful, so I shall have to try one of those next!

What do you think of this shade? Are you a fan of blue nails?

Kate x

Thursday 4 September 2014

Little Autumn/Fall Fashion Haul

I have a little haul for you. And I do mean little. It's two jumpers and a pair of boots. But I thought I would show them to you now while the items are still available to buy, rather than saving them for outfit posts sometime in the distant future. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's started shopping for their new season wardrobe, so if you happen to like any of the items I bought you should still be able to find them.

They're all pretty basic, but there's a good reason for that. I tend to be a bit of a magpie when I shop, always drawn to embellishment or a pretty colour. As a result, not much goes with anything else, and I suffer from that age-old syndrome - masses of clothes and nothing to wear. So I'm trying to introduce a few more basics and neutrals into my wardrobe.

Here's what I bought.

Zara Jumper

This jumper is from Zara and it's available in three colour ways. The others are red with black and yellow with black, but I much preferred this one. I'm actually wearing this in my last post, although you can only catch a tiny glimpse of it. It's a lovely, soft knit, the perfect thickness for when the weather starts to turn cooler. It feels warm and cosy to wear and it's quite flattering too, with the boat neck and loose (but not too loose) fit.

Zara Knit
Jumper - Zara

The second jumper is from Topshop, and it's black, which means it hasn't photographed as well as the other one. Still, you can get the gist of it (I hope!) It's a similar thickness to the Zara one and just as soft, but ever so slightly more fitted. I love them both, and chances are I will wear them to death over the cooler months.

Topshop Jumper

 Topshop Knit

Jumper - Topshop
Now, onto the boots. These were a bargainous £45 from River Island and are sturdy and comfortable. It was the sleek, slightly pointed toe that attracted me to them, as I tend to find that this style suits me better than the chunkier ones. 
I must admit, I have my reservations about the boots. Not in themselves - I think they're beautiful - but how they look on my feet. I don't know if anyone else has this issue, but I always find it difficult to go from light flats and sandals to heavy winter boots. Suddenly my feet look very clumpy and it takes me a while to get used to it. I also have a weird thing about my ankles/calves being skinny and boots not fitting snugly enough... but if I'm going to be that picky then I will probably never buy any boots, and I need boots. So watch this space - if I like them, they will undoubtedly feature on the blog over the winter. If you never see them again, you'll know I made a mistake!

River Island Boots

 River Island Ankle Boots

Boots - River Island
Has anyone else made any new season purchases yet?
Kate x

Monday 1 September 2014

The Great Foundation Challenge #2 - Revlon ColorStay

Some of you may know about the little mission I set myself recently - to find a good drugstore foundation I can use as a substitute for my favourite - the amazing but pricey Estee Lauder Double Wear. Double Wear is definitely my "Holy Grail" foundation and it delivers on so many levels, but the two main things I want to see replicated in a drugstore alternative are a nice full coverage and decent longevity.

The first contender was L'Oreal's Infallible 24 Hour Foundation, which unfortunately I didn't get on with at all. If you want to read about my experience/have a good laugh at my appalling choice of shade, then check out the post here.

Never one to back down in the face of adversity, I've pressed on in the search for contender number two. I know everybody says this, but one of the best things about blogging is getting to know fellow bloggers, so many of whom are always ready to offer their thoughts, suggestions and support to whatever it is you're doing. Lots of you have been forthcoming with ideas about foundations I might like, and as a result I now have a pretty long list! One that seems to come up a lot is Revlon ColorStay, so I decided to try this one next.

I've been wearing it for a few days now, and I'm happy to report that I like it!

Revlon ColorStay Foundation

There are two versions of ColorStay - one for normal to dry skin and one for combination to oily skin. Well, sometimes my skin is dry, but my T-zone is often oily, so I went for the combination one. So far it seems to be suiting me just fine. Shade-wise, I chose Fresh Beige. It's probably the perfect colour for when I'm tanned - wanting a base to match my tan is what triggered this quest in the first place - though it's perhaps just a trifle too dark for me at the moment.

The coverage is not quite up there with Double Wear, but it's pretty close. It also has a slightly dewier finish, which a lot of people may prefer. I'm not sure that I do, necessarily, but once I powder over the top, I'm left with an even, natural-looking base that holds the rest of my makeup beautifully. The best bit is that it lasts all day.

Revon ColorStay Foundation
While I may not be as head over heels for this as I am for Double Wear, I'm certainly impressed. At £12.49 it's less than half the price, too, so it's a great back-up to have. I'll definitely be getting plenty of use out of this one.

Have you tried Revlon ColorStay? Do you like it? Stay tuned for more drugstore foundation reviews - I'm on a roll!

Kate x
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