L’Occitane Hand Creams – PRODUCT REVIEW

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Everyone has their thing, and mine is dry hands. I hate having dry hands and annoyingly I’m genetically ‘blessed’ with them. I’ve been through so many variety of hand creams, lotions and oils to treat and soften my skin that I feel well placed to judge the good from the bad, the great from the good and the exceptional from everything in between.

L’Occitane is a brand I only started using a year back and I truly wish I’d have discovered it sooner. I’ve not had a bad product from them yet, and I’ve made the most of them in the past 12 months, that’s for sure! When a good friend gave me a gift pack of their best-selling hand creams, I genuinely couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

The gift set includes three, 30ml tubes of product; the best selling, Shea Butter Hand Cream, the Lavender and the Pivoine Flora:

Shea Butter Hand Cream: I can totally see why one of these is sold every 3 seconds! The website says this product is enriched with 20% Shea Butter which explains how creamy and softening the formula is. What I love most about this cream is that it does it’s job with no added fuss – you’re not left with slimy, sticky hands and your skin actually does feel so much healthier and better nourished as a result.

Lavender Hand Cream: This is my favourite night hand cream. The lavender smell is perfect to help you relax before bed, whilst treating your skin to an extra dose of moisture. The scent is soft and not too heady. I find the formula to be the lightest of the three, so I do need to stick with the Shea Butter during the day to keep my dry skin at bay. If you’ve got nicely nourished hands as it is, try this one first!

Pivoine Flora Hand Cream: Another great hand cream from L’Occitane that soaks in quickly and leaves your hands feeling smooth (thank you, shea butter!). For me, the floral, peony scent is a bit too over powering so I wouldn’t keep this in my handbag to use all the time, but it is a great cream to use every now and again.

In true Sincerely Sarah fashion, I couldn’t do a product review without my overall breakdown:

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Things I love: The gift set has something for everyone as all three creams offer something slightly different – in formula, scent and use. If you’re new to the L’Occitane brand this would be a great introduction to their products, but I warn you, you’ll get hooked.

Things I really love: The packaging is of course, fantastic. I’ve come to expect nothing less from L’Occitane and I fully intend to reuse the beautiful tin for another purpose once I’ve finished the creams. On a practical note, it’s always so handy to have a collection of travel-friendly products for on the go.

Things I didn’t love: As I mentioned, the peony scent of Pivoine Flora isn’t my favourite but I haven’t got a bad word to say about the actual cream and the impact of the product.

Purchasing options: All of the creams are available independently in 30ml travel sizes, or you can pick up the full sized versions of Lavender and Pivoine Flora in 75ml tubes. As the best-selling hand cream, the Shea Butter is available in a 150ml tube too. Prices for all the travel minis is £8.00, the two 75ml creams are available for £14.00 and the 150ml Shea Butter is £19.00. You can buy L’Occitane from independent shops or online.

I definitely look at The Hand Cream Collection gift set as a complete success. I would happily purchase two out of the three full sized products and wouldn’t hesitate to give this as a gift to friends and family. L’Occitane are quickly cementing themselves as one of my favourite skincare brands! I’d love to know in the comments if you’ve tried these and which is your fave.

Sincerely, Sarah x

Spring Favourites

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I’ve been a tad tardy with monthly favourites posts since February, so in an attempt to get back in the flow, I’ve opted for a collection of my top picks this spring. It goes without saying the bulk of products are skincare and beauty related but there are two miscellaneous faves I just couldn’t ignore tagged on at the end.

Revlon ColorStay Foundation: Some beauty bloggers think of this as a dupe for NARS Sheer Glow which was all I needed to hear to get me to Superdrug but comparisons aside, I can’t speak highly enough about this foundation. With medium, build-able coverage, this is perfect for day-to-day looks and at only £12.99, it’s totally affordable and makes your skin look very healthy.

MAC CremeSheen Lipstick in ‘Peach Blossom’: I love, love, love this lipstick and I can assure you this won’t be a passing fling either. The colour is a classic ‘your lips but better shade’ and fab for any occasion.

Clarins Santal Face Treatment Oil: I incorporated this oil into my weekly facial routine in a bid to combat the dryness I get, thanks to the joys of combination skin. I have total confidence in this product, and that’s pretty rare. I know that the morning after I apply this treatment, all dry patches will have disappeared and my skin will be looking and feeling good. For £32.00 this is a great investment piece for any skincare routine and a little product goes a long way so you won’t need to be constantly restocking.

Montagne Jeunesse, Cucumber Peel-Off Mask: Everyone has used these face masks at least once: they’re a £1 each and normally available on a deal in supermarkets and drugstores across the UK. The cucumber anti-stress mask combines citrus and pulped cucumber to remove dead skin cells and freshen up your skin. I found the peel removal a little strange at first but got used to it quickly enough. These masks are suitable for regular use or are great for a little bit of ‘me-time’.

Burt’s Bees Nourishing Mango Lip Balm: As I mentioned in my last beauty haul video, I normally buy and lose lip balms in a matter of days but I’m so pleased this has defied the odds, and I now use it constantly. The smell of this is so refreshing and it leaves my lips super soft and nourished.

L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream: Basically put, if you have dry hands, you need this cream. The formula is rich and creamy and unlike lots of similar creams, doesn’t leave your hands sticky. I’ve already started to notice the difference if I don’t use this for a day so this has quickly made its way into my ‘essentials’ category. Fun fact: this product is so popular, one is sold every 3 seconds! Yup, I promise, you need it in your life too.

Now I’m onto the non-beauty related faves so feel free to close your browser if you’re a die-hard makeup and skincare lover and don’t want to be distracted; I won’t be offended…

ASOS: Now I know what you’re thinking, why on earth is ASOS down as a favourite – it’s hardly new? Well, as much as I love buying beauty products, I really dislike clothes shopping. I’m off to Glastonbury this summer and have been in desperate need of revamping my summer pieces so over the last few weeks I’ve spent countless hours browsing the pages of ASOS compiling excessive wish-lists and for the first time EVER, it was surprisingly fun. A few days later and I’m now waiting on my first clothes delivery of 2016. If you want to know what I picked up, a haul video will be with you next week.

In Stitches – The highs and lows of life as an A&E doctor: My day to day job means I work very closely with the NHS so I couldn’t pass up this book. I am constantly curious about the inner workings of our health service and this is a truly fantastic  read, giving an insight into the everyday workings of a busy A&E department. The author, Dr Nick Edwards, strikes the perfect balance between criticisms of the government and NHS efficiencies, and genuine care for patients. By the end of the book you end up wishing you could bestow medals on every member of NHS staff.

Sincerely, Sarah x

Nude Nail Favourites

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Picking the ‘right’ nude nail varnish is like searching for a needle in a haystack. With so many brands and shades, it’s hard to know where to start without trying out most of the products on the market. If I’m not wearing OPI Gelcolour, 9 times out of 10 my nails will be nude.

I’ve been through so many similar but different nude polish options over the years, it’s a genuine relief that I’m finally content with my four favourites and whether I’m in a pink, beige or peachy mood, I’m covered. If you’re still hunting for that perfect ‘your nail but better’ colour, hopefully this post will help you on your way. 

Nail polish collage

From top right, clockwise: ‘Spin the Bottle’ – Essie; ‘Limo-scene’ – Essie; ‘Ballerina – Barry M; ‘Elizabeth Street’ – Nails Inc. 


‘Spin the bottle’ by Essie
 £7.99

Possibly the nude of all nudes, ‘Spin the Bottle’ is a semi-sheer nude that works perfectly with all skin tones. The creamy beige colour has subtle peach undertones making this a great everyday polish, especially for spring. If you’re an Essie fan, ‘Topless and Barefoot’ is a similar shade and also well-wroth checking out. This one is really hard to beat.

‘Limo-scene’ by Essie £7.99

A pastel pink sheer polish with a whiter than expected finish, this Essie option is perfect for fresh and understated nails. If you’re looking for a full coverage nude, this probably isn’t the one for you but if you’re prepared to be patient and apply 2+ coats, this is a wonderful one to try. ‘Limo-scene’ is the perfect base for a french manicure or you can use it on its own. If you want a whiter nude from Essie try ‘Allure’, or opt for ‘Ballet Slippers’ or ‘Mademoiselle’ for other fantastic pink options.

‘Ballerina’ by Barry M £2.99

For under a fiver you can’t beat Barry M’s nail paints. I personally prefer the lighter shades from Barry M as I find the polish chips quicker than some of the slightly pricier alternatives. ‘Ballerina’ is a sweet dusty pink, it’s vibrant in the bottle but falls just on the right side of girlie when painted. These polishes dry quickly and can be used on natural and acrylic nails with a glossy finish. Win win.

‘Elizabeth Street’ by Nails Inc £11.00

Described as a ‘delicate nude cream polish’, it’s unsurprising that this is one of Nails Inc’s top selling products. The colour is beautiful and looks a little milkier than similar pink nudes on the market. The finish is sheer with an ever so slight shimmer and the lasting power is excellent – you’ll easily get 7 days of chip free wear out of this, and even longer with a good quality top coat. Some people find the formula a little hard to get used to, so best to try this on top of a base coat if you’re unsure but I’ve never had a problem.  

Hope you enjoy trying these colours and let me know if I’ve missed any of your favourites.

Sincerely, Sarah x 

April Beauty Haul (VLOG)

Confession time: I have a problem. It is actually impossible for me to walk into a shop selling makeup and skincare products and not spend money. I wish I were exaggerating but it really is my weakness. Luckily for you, that means my last shopping trip turned into a bag so full of goodies, I couldn’t help but stretch my vlogging muscles once again with another haul and first impressions video. Here you have the latest in my collection of beauty vlogs: 

As I mention in the vlog, if you haven’t checked out Caroline Hiron’s blog, you really do need to. She is an expert in all things skincare and her ‘cheatsheets’ are not only worth reading but have totally revamped how I care for my skin.

Here’s the full list of featured products: 

  • Garnier Micellar Water – 2 for £7
  • Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme – £14.95
  • Lush Lip Scrub in Mint Julips – £5.50
  • Burts Bees Nourishing Lip Balm in Mango – £3.69
  • Vaseline Intensive Care Essential Lotion – £5.59
  • Radox Moisture Soak with Calendula and Rose – £1.00
  • Sleek Makeup Brow Kit in Dark – £8.50
  • Sleek Makeup Eyebrow Stylist in Dark – £5.99
  • Sleek Makeup Matte Me Lipstick in Petal – £4.99
  • Revlon ColourStay Foundation for Normal/Dry in Ivory (110) – £9.99
  • Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge in a double pack – £9.99

Knowing my shopping weakness, you won’t be waiting too long for another haul post – blog or vlog. I’m also planning lots of product reviews from these spur of the moment purchases too.

Sincerely, Sarah x

 

 

MAC Prep + Prime Skin Base Visage – PRODUCT REVIEW

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I’ve shared my love of primers with you all before so it’s no surprise that I’m back with another primer product review. My Mum very kindly surprised me with MAC’s Prep + Prime Skin Base Visage recently and I started using it almost immediately. A month on and here are my thoughts…

Official Product Description: A lightweight gel lotion formulated with special-effect silicones. MAC promises this primer evens out skin redness and skin tone while adding radiance and improving the application and finish of foundation or powder. Designed for use on all skin types, the Prep + Prime Skin Base Visage supposedly evens skin tones by 20%, improves radiance by 22% and reduces the appearance of redness by 14% – pretty impressive numbers. 

What I loved: Like most beauty-lovers, good packaging has the power to really excite me and MAC really didn’t disappointed here. The primer comes in a sleek black plastic bottle and is covered by a galaxy like, starry effect which is carried onto the black box too. Sometimes the small things count too and the fact this bottle comes with a pump to minimise mess, is definitely one of my positives. The product itself is light, creamy and smooth in texture and you really only need a small amount so I can see this lasting me a while. In line with its promises, I found liquid and cream foundations sat really nicely on top of this and did in fact last longer than normal. Good packaging, light on the skin and does what it’s meant to? Triple points to MAC! 

What I really loved: Yes, it actually does get better. My skin type is normal to combination and at times my T-Zone decides to get rather greasy but luckily, Prep + Prime Skin Base Visage prevents those outbursts of oiliness and keeps you suitably matted throughout the day, whilst transforming tired skin into a radiant base. Similar to Benefit’s Porefessional primer, this too boasts silicone as an ingredient which lays the groundwork for flawless makeup. A month in, and I can already say I’ll definitely be re-purchasing when I run out. 

What I didn’t love: If you’re looking at adding this product to your collection, my ultimate top tip is to be aware of the glitter! When I first pumped this onto the back of my hand I was shocked, it really does look uber sparkly, hence the packaging. Luckily, the glitter is muted when you apply to your face and simply gives you a healthy glow. The second top tip is think of what you’re wearing it with; I tried using this underneath my trusted BareMinerals powder with no other change in my skincare or makeup routine and unfortunately the finish wasn’t anywhere near what I had gotten used to. With a powder on top of this primer, my skin was left feeling and looking dry and cracked, particularly around the nose and on the apples of my cheeks – not good. My only actual bugbear with this otherwise fantastic product is I can’t see how much I’ve got left in the bottle, so please MAC I beg you, change this to a transparent bottle!! 

beforeandafterproductcollageeditedPurchasing Options: £21.00 for a 30ml bottle. Can be purchased directly from the MAC website.

So there you have it, I’m obsessed with yet another primer. Seriously, if you’re not using a primer and you use a cream or liquid foundation, this product is well worth a try. Who doesn’t want long-lasting, oil-free base makeup with a smooth finish? I’m totally sold. Thanks, Mum 🙂

Sincerely, Sarah x

Dupes: Urban Decay Naked2 vs Makeup Revolution Iconic2

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The concept of a “dupe” in the beauty world is nothing new. Don’t believe me? Try this: do a google search for your favourite luxury makeup or skincare product, followed by the all important ‘D’ word and watch the product recommendations flow in. Impressive, huh?

During my last drugstore beauty shop I picked up the Makeup Revolution Redemption Iconic2 eyeshadow palette purely because it reminded me of my old faithful, the Urban Decay Naked2 palette. I hadn’t thought of it as a “dupe” at the time but after some playing around, I present to you the £4 alternative to a £38 cult-beauty favourite…

THE SWATCHES

Each palette contains 12 taupe-centric, natural eye shadows in light and dark shades with matte and sparkly options. To the naked eye the colours looked similar but when compared on skin, at least 10 of the 12 shadows looked identical.

swatches(The shadows in the Revolution palette weren’t named but in order of light to dark, the Urban Decay shadows are Foxy, Half Baked, Bootycall, Chopper, Tease, Snakebite, Suspect, Pistol, Verve, YDK, Busted and Blackout) 

It goes without saying that the £34 price difference is eye watering, so I wanted to find out whether the actual products were as similar as they seemed and if the added spend was worth it. For a fair test, I applied a look with one palette on one eye and the “dupe” colours from the alternative palette on the other eye. I took the trial seriously and wore the mismatched products all day (yes, in public!) to get a good feel for staying power and comfort too…

THE LOOK

I created a semi-glam look to mix of both the lighter and darker shades, using 6 shadows from each palette for the look – Foxy, Bootycall, Verve, Suspect, Pistol and Blackout and their Iconic2 dupes.

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THE RESULTS

Choice: Both palettes offer similar, if not identical shadow shades.
Winner = Both

Application: Part of my reason for loving luxury makeup products, is the joy and experience of applying them but I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of the Iconic2 palette – the shadows are a lovely texture and blend really well. The Urban Decay shadows have always been popular because you don’t need much product to get an intense colour but despite my initial scepticism, the same can definitely be said for the Makeup Revolution ones too! That said, I did get more fall down from the Iconic2 powders so had more tidying up to do than normal but that’s a small sacrafice.
Winner = Makeup Revolution

Finished look: This is tough as the finished looks are really hard to tell apart. I really studied my eyes and have since stared at the pictures for way longer than most would consider “normal” so I have to judge this on semantics. I’d go as far to say that I preferred the finish of the Iconic2 highlighter as it had more of a brightening effect. The Urban Decay shade Pistol is a great smokey eye colour and makes a good dramatic but not harsh under eye liner. Again both palettes are pretty even.
Winner = Both

Staying Power: I always tell myself part reason I spend a fortune on makeup products rather than drugstore options is staying power. Simply put, if I spend more I expect it to last all day, and last well. After 11 hours both eyes showed signs of wear but there was a noticeable difference between the two. The Urban Decay shadows had only just started to crease in the natural spot but the Makeup Revolution eye had gone quite patchy and the strong shimmery finish had faded considerably. For the first time, Urban Decay clearly triumphed.
Winner = Urban Decay

Removal: Whilst neither eye looked perfect when I came to remove my makeup, the Urban Decay shadows came off easily with a cotton pad and micellar water whereas I did have to apply more pressure to get rid of the glittery leftovers of the Iconic2 shadows. Minor difference but being heavy handed around your eyes isn’t a habit you want to get into so Urban Decay pips it here too.
Winner = Urban Decay

Packaging: This is a bit like comparing a present wrapped in brown paper with a Christmas present wrapped in metallic paper finished with a ribbon, bow and gift tag. The price dictates there will be no frills with the Makeup Revolution palette but the famous ‘it’s whats on the inside that counts’ line is worth bearing in mind. Figuratively speaking however, I really am a sucker for a ribbon and bow so the metallic hard cased Naked2 palette does stand out. From a practical perspective, the double ended brush is a dream and the mirror makes this a great product to use on the go too.
Winner = Urban Decay

Price: Cheaper isn’t always better but a difference of £34 is difficult to ignore. Taking into consideration the similarities between the two, £4 for 12 good quality shadows is excellent value for money. This one is a no brainer.
Winner = Makeup Revolution

THE FINAL VERDICT 

On scoring alone, the Urban Decay Naked2 palette reigns supreme but both products really are, very similar. If you’re currently on the look our for a new palette and are torn between these two products, I would make the decision based totally on whether you can afford the extra £34 – ultimately that’s what it comes down to! I do think the Naked2 is the better palette but, and it’s a big but, I’m not totally convinced it’s £34 better than the Iconic2. The Makeup Revolution product is the definition of a dupe for me – it’s a highly comparable product, far cheaper and it’s so easy to make the case for not needing to spend the extra cash. For that reason, I’d probably recommend the Makeup Revolution palette more freely, especially if you’re just looking to play around and try out new looks. If you’re a pro or simply, just have the money spare, I’d say plump for the Urban Decay but there really isn’t much in it. As an owner of both I have continued to use both but if I wanted a full day and night look, or just felt a bit indulgent, I’d reach for Naked2.

Sincerely, Sarah x

 

 

Drugstore Makeup Haul (VLOG)

I love YouTube. Call me sad but I adore having so much entertainment and knowledge at my finger tips. As a beauty and product junkie, I dread to think about the number of hours I’ve spent watching tutorials, product reviews, hauls and lets not forget countless Vlogmas series! It’s addictive.

When I started Sincerely Sarah I vowed to make the content as rich and varied as I possibly could, whilst keeping that tricky balance between my full-time career and a social life. There’s something to be said for being able to have a chat and a show and tell to liven up an otherwise, word-heavy site so I have dipped my toe into the world of YouTube and have filmed my first beauty haul. 

So here goes nothing… click below to watch my first beauty haul of affordable, ‘drugstore’ products: 

Here’s the full list of featured products:  

  • Revolution Redemption Palette – Iconic 2 – £4.00
  • Revolution Ultra Sculpt & Contour Kit – Ultra Fair – £3.50 
  • Collection Contour Kit ‘Highlight & Sculpt’ – £2.99
  • Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer – Fair – £4.19
  • Collection Fast Stroke Eyeliner – Black – £2.99 
  • Collection Big Fake Curves Mascara – Black – £4.99
  • MUA Matte Lipsick – Peachy Keen – £1.00
  • MUA Lipstick – Nectar – £1.00 
  • MUA Lipstick – Shade 1 – £1.00
  • Collection Moisturising Lip Butter – Vintage Rose – £2.99
  • Collection Matt Lip Butter – Crimson Velvet – £2.99
  • MUA Undress Your Skin Illuminating Liquid Glow – Oyster – £3.00

Compared to my other blog posts, it’s been fun to look at budget, ‘drugstore’ beauty products and I’m looking forward to using and reviewing the items soon. This really does go to show that makeup doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun and the more affordable ranges allow you to experiment and embrace your creativity by trying new looks. For a total spend of £34.64 you really can’t go wrong – that’s an average cost of £2.89 per product!!!

Let me know what you think of the new post format and I look forward to creating and sharing more vlogs soon.

Sincerely, Sarah x

Benefit’s ‘Fakeup’ Concealer – PRODUCT REVIEW

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I have been on the quest for the perfect concealer since I started wearing makeup. With the ability to brighten tired eyes, hide blemishes and put the finishing touch to a good base, it’s a pretty important product. I’ve been through so many of the cult favourites and have fallen in and out of love with so many concealers that my enthusiasm for new products in this category has waned somewhat.

As we’ve established, I’m a die-hard benefit fan and would confidently say I’ve owned and tried nearly all of their range. Two of the concealers on my short approved list are from the Benefit range, Erase Paste and Boing. Both products are very different, one more brightening and better under the eyes and the other more heavy duty and good on blemishes.

A month or two back during a makeup shop, I was stocking up on some Benefit essentials and added Fakeup to my pile for the first time. Here are my thoughts on the good, bad and the OK…

Official Product Description: Fakeup is clearly defined as an under eye concealer with hydrating crease-control abilities. Ingredients include Vitamin E (great for moisturizing) and apple seed extract combine to hide dark circles and diffuse fine lines for a silky smooth, ultra-natural look. The product is proven to keep skin hydrated for six hours

What I loved: The presentation of the moisturizer wrapped in concealer is intriguing and I’m sure did well for sales as a new product – it was that intrigue that had me sold after all! I was concerned that Fakeup would look greasy under my eye with such a high moisturizing content in the formula but so far, this hasn’t been the case at all. As with all Benefit’s products, the packaging on this is divine. I am a big fan of the lipstick-esque presentation; it’s super easy to use and minimizes mess.

What I really loved: I felt virtuous using this product. All too often I apply heavy make up and feel a bit guilty for clogging pores and doing god knows what to my skin whereas this feels beautifully light and nourishing under the eye. The formula also worked well for me for the most part and didn’t crease under my eye, like some of the thicker, dryer concealers out there. The ‘light’ shade was also a great match for my complexion.

What I didn’t love: The con of the moisturising content of this product is that on every wear bar one, my mascara printed under my eye within two hours of application, which lets face it, isn’t a great look. I then tried the product with waterproof mascara and the problem did admittedly disappear but I rarely wear waterproofs so this is a bit of a stumbling block for me. If you do, this is worth a try. The staying power of this product really is decided with a good primer. On the days I forgot to prime, this wore off pretty quickly and didn’t last the full working day. The primer does make it last, just, but the coverage does wear. Also on a massively picky point, I’m not crazy about the name Fakeup. A lot of people wear make up to enhance their face or to boost confidence and the implications of the word ‘fake’ just didn’t wash with me – minor and pathetic, perhaps but it crossed my mind just the same.

Purchasing options: £18.50 for 3.5g Net wt. 0.12 oz. Can be purchased from the Benefit Cosmetics website or any large department store (Debenhams, House of Fraser etc).

Fakeup is a good product but not one I can see me incorporating into my regular makeup routine. There are definite pros to consider if you’re in the market for a new concealer – the moisturizing quality being the main one. I think Fakeup is a good addition to Benefit’s range of concealers but I would put it third after Erase Paste and Boing.

Have you tried Fakeup? If you love this or hate it, I’d love to hear from you. Links to my twitter and Instagram are in the sidebar, or feel free to leave a comment below.

Sincerely, Sarah x

‘C’ is for Champagne, Cheese and Cellar Door

C date

Date day C was a long time coming but well worth the wait. Arranging a big night out on a Monday wouldn’t have been the original plan but actually what could have been a miserable start to the week was transformed into a fantastic food and drink filled evening.

Meeting time had been set for 7pm in Covent Garden (first C!) and I was unsure about what was lined up. I had been told that the date combined two of my favourite things but that didn’t really narrow it down. Luckily, it turns out that Alastair knows me better than I know myself and our evening was made up of champagne, cheese and even more champagne. What’s not to love?!

I thought it was a joke when what I thought looked like an underground toilet quickly turned into an intimate 30s style cocktail bar, Cellar Door. With a vintage feel, small yet atmospheric layout, it’s easy to understand why they describe themselves as a Berlin club meets New York basement dive – even on a Monday! With a small stage tucked at the back of the bar, Cellar Door put on free cabaret and burlesque performances from 9pm every night and are pretty renowned in the scene. The female power continued onto their cocktail menu with drinks named after iconic women ranging from Marie Antoinette, Coco Chanel through to Dita Von Teese. Never one to miss up a feminist reference, the Simone De Beauvoir Champagne cocktail was just the right mix of strawberry and bubbles. If you’re yet to visit, one word of warning, the toilers require a liiiiittle bit of dutch courage – the glass doors only cloud up when locked!

An hour later we were on the move again to French artisan bistro, Champagne + Fromage. Made of up of two companies, French Bubbles and Une Normande a Londres, this is the place to go if you like authentic French cheese and charcuterie boards and fine Champagne. Whilst this place was new to me, it’s obviously well loved by many, with locations in Brixton and Greenwich as well as Covent Garden. The family who run Une Normandy a Londres are expert Camembert producers so it would have been rude not to share a wheel between us. We also shared a charcuterie board and the waitress selected cheeses for us to try based on our tastes. Unlike most French dining experiences, Champagne + Fromage have mastered the balance between knowledgable and helpful service and a laid back atmosphere. The champagne was perfectly matched to our foods and they even offer different glasses to complement the food flavours.

Alphabet dating was a concept that we took on in a bid to spend more time doing and experiencing new things and getting to know our city better. The idea of dating your way through the alphabet won’t be for everyone, the notion may be cheesy to some or just unnecessary to others but frankly even by date three, I stick by our decision. Leading busy, London-based lives, as a couple carving out careers makes it hard to find as much time together as we’d like, so why not use that time a more creative way?

Date ‘C’ was a roaring success – thank you Alastair! I’m already thinking up ideas for ‘D’. Other ‘C’ date ideas if you want to try it yourself include cocktail making, climbing, a trip to the Cinema and cooking classes.

Sincerely, Sarah x

Charlotte Tilbury ‘Magic Foundation’ – PRODUCT REVIEW

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Charlotte Tilbury is the beauty brand I’m lusting after most at the moment and whilst some may say I’m actually rather late to the CT party, I’m just so glad I’ve arrived! The Magic Foundation has been at the top of my beauty wishlist for as long as I can remember; the beauty world has gone crazy for this product, celebs and beauty bloggers alike are big fans and I’ve seen so many positive comments on twitter and instagram, I had to check it out. A trip to Selfridges and some swatching later, I was the proud new owner of the lightest shade of the 15 and was all too ready to have a play.

Magic2Product Description: The Charlotte Tilbury team didn’t pull any punches with the Magic Foundation product description, they promise a “miracle in a bottle” suitable for all ages, skin tones and skin types, AND the feeling of a second skin that is just “perfect”. No pressure, huh? The CT page reports stats about comfort, colour match and how long the product stays put and of course, they’re more than encouraging. If all of that doesn’t  have you running towards your nearest CT stockist, the before and after pictures show the Magic foundation’s ability to cover acne, scarring, discolouration and smooth wrinkles – it’s pretty incredible!

Things I love: After that write up, it’s hardly surprising that I – like most – had serious expectations for the Magic Foundation. A very helpful MUA in Selfridges applied the product for me to colour match and I immediately loved the application and the light feeling on the skin, which truly is surprising for a foundation promising such full coverage. The Charlotte Tilbury branding is also super chic, channelling art deco designs and splashes of gold, this translated really well to the Magic Foundation packaging. Coming in a glass bottle, the Magic Foundation has a gold lid, includes a pump and is wrapped neatly in pale pink box.

Things I REALLY love: I am a fan of full coverage and this product doesn’t disappoint. There are comparisons floating around the blogosphere between this and Estee Lauder’s Double Wear but for me, this takes the crown. The foundation covers blemishes easily and has a demi-matte finish, meaning you won’t need to powder after application. The 5 years of production that went into finalising the Magic formula were obviously well spent, I really love that the finish is dewy enough for a dry skin day but also matt enough that oily t-zones pose no problems. Over the years, I’ve found the trick of an excellent full coverage foundation is to not only deliver on the coverage but to still appear natural and Charlotte Tilbury has that box well and truly ticked.

Things I didn’t love: When CT launched Magic Foundation, she also released the Magic Complexion Brush (which is similar to the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush) and is perfect for buffing the foundation to create that natural, flawless look. A traditional foundation brush could easily leave a ‘cakey’ finish and looking ‘over done’ is no one’s aim. The CT complexion brush is £45.00, which means if you don’t have a buffing brush already, this suddenly becomes a far more expensive foundation. One other slight picky thing, I love the glass bottle for appearance but I’m not too crazy on glass bottles in general as they’re such a nightmare to travel with. The pump also tends to dribble product once you’ve finished but my top tip is to unscrew the top and pop a small amount on the back of your hand to skip the pump and generally to save wasting product.

Purchasing options: If you’re looking to get your hands on your own Magic Foundation, it’ll cost you £29.50 for a 30ml bottle and the brush is £45.00. You can order directly from http://www.charlottetilbury.com/uk or head to either the flagship store in Covent Garden or counter in Selfridges, London.

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I can totally see why Charlotte Tilbury has been getting so much attention for her Magic Foundation, it really is a strong all rounder and definitely on its way to becoming a cult beauty favourite. If you’ve tried this foundation, I’d love to get your feedback below in the comments or on twitter/instagram. If not, you’ll find me in Covent Garden…

Sincerely, Sarah x

 

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