PRODUCT REVIEW – Aurora Band Night Roller

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As a girl with naturally straight-ish, thick hair, I’ve always been fascinated by ways of creating natural curls that don’t drop out after two/three hours. I’ve tried countless curling tongs, different techniques with GHDs and way too many blowdries and yes, if you have plenty of time in the mornings or a bottomless bank balance, you can achieve bouncy, beautiful curls. Unfortunately my bank balance doesn’t quite live up to my grooming aspirations and getting ready for work is never a leisurely task, so alas my search continued.

I remember seeing the Aurora Band for the first time on dragon’s den and thinking it all seemed a bit too good to be true – could you really get waves that stay put without heat?! It was only after a friend asked for an Aurora Band for her birthday that I looked back into these and whilst not convinced by the mixed Amazon reviews, the pictures of my friend’s hair looked too good to pass up and here we are.

ab2Official Product Description: The Aurora Hair Band is designed to transform your hair overnight, while you sleep, into salon quality hair when you wake for the perfect morning style. For best results use on freshly washed hair, dry off the moisture and leave slightly damp.

Directions for use: Brush your hair thoroughly and divide into two – as with pigtails. Place the band on your head with the non velcro section on your forehead and begin at the front of your hair winding 2inch wide sections up and around the band. Leave the rest of the first section and incorporate it into the next 2inch section and wind as before. Continue with this technique until you reach the end of pigtail 1. Repeat this with pigtail 2 and be sure to leave an inch gap between the two end pieces at the back of the band. Sleep with the band in place. In the morning, unloop hair from the back, working forward. Shake out your hair and use hairspray to set.

Things I loved: On paper, this product shouldn’t work. No heat, freshly washed hair and a velcro band? To say I was sceptical is putting it mildly – I really was going to take a LOT of convincing but do you know what?! It actually works!!!! This is an affordable, quick and relatively easy way of creating voluminous curls. The jargon-free instructions on the box are simple to follow and it took me less than 15 minutes to get the band on. I was nervous about sleeping in this but the hairband is soft, not too thick and actually isn’t that uncomfortable – I woke up forgetting I had it on which can only be a good sign. It’s a damn site better than sleeping in rollers too, that’s for sure.

Things I really loved: The result. After the battle of removing the band – I’ll come onto that soon – I was left with a style I was really pleased with. The price point for this item is spot on too. As a beauty-addict I play about with a great deal of products and hate splurging on items that turn out to be massively disappointing – it happens more often than you’d think. That said, this is not one of these items; for one, £12.99 isn’t a massive expense when it comes to haircare and I’m sure I’ll get a lot of use out of this – a win/win purchase.

When I’ve used GHDs and tongs in the past, I’ve always ended up with curls that started close to my hairline and ended up channeling early-days Taylor Swift inspiration. The Aurora band lets you decide on how big and bouncy you want your curls by the thickness of the sections you use. I really love that they keep the top of your hair smooth and let the curls start wherever you place the band – they can be as tight or a loose as you like, so you can change up the results!

Things I didn’t love: Ok, so this is cheap and it works and so I can already hear you asking ‘What’s the catch?’. Simply put, taking this out really was not fun! When the instructions say to leave space at the back, LEAVE SPACE AT THE BACK! I learnt my lesson quickly! After much tugging, I got to the stage where my hair was still stuck and knotted around the velcro and I don’t advise doing this, but I ended up ripping the band out of my hair, partly in annoyance and partly to save time and hassle. The ends of some curls were a little frizzy because of the force I used (oops!) but honestly, I’m sure this can be avoided next time. Most of the negative reviews suggest I was not alone in having trouble but don’t let this put you off; the negative experience of removing the band was quickly outweighed by the result and it hasn’t put me off using the band again.

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Purchasing options: £12.99 for an adult band from Amazon. Children bands are available for the same price.

If you’re looking for an easy way to spruce up your hair during the working week, I would recommend you get involved with this £12.99 bargain! I’d love to hear what you make of the Aurora Band and whether you too find the results worth the removal effort.

Sincerely, Sarah x

‘B’ is for Brunch, Borough Market and The Big Short

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Not that we’re at all competitive but I felt a certain level of responsibility to plan an epic ‘B’ date to follow on from our first step into the world of alphabet dating. Luckily, living in London means no shortage of amazing things to do, see and places to eat.

Having a self-professed ‘foodie’ for a boyfriend meant that, whilst a tad obvious, Borough Market was a non-negotiable part of our day out. For those of you who haven’t been, Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market and offers the highest quality of fresh produce and a real mix of cuisines. It’s a fantastic place to feed your culinary interest, pose questions to the experts and just try out new products and flavours. The market is in full swing Wednesday-Saturday, a lunch only market on Monday and Tuesdays and the traders take a well earned day off every Sunday.

To start our day off in true foodie indulgence mode, we headed to The Riding House Cafe near Oxford Circus for Brunch. The atmosphere here is great; we were lucky to get a corner table which not only provided amazing people watching opportunities but gave us a bit of peace and quiet amongst the hustle of the breakfast crowd. Whilst the food was really good, the standout part of the trip for me had to be the hot chocolate – seriously up there for the best cup in London! If you like eggs royale, Alastair highly recommends getting them here; the hollandaise was apparently en pointe.

After hours in Borough Market followed by a few drinks in and around London Bridge, we headed off to Westfield to watch The Big Short. Whether you have a financial/investment based career, a base level interest or know hardly anything, this film explains complex concepts and takes you through the cause of the 2008 global financial crisis. The biggest surprise for me, wasn’t how idiotic a group of bankers could be but how the film used famous faces like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to break up what could’ve been a rather dense topic – who thought a sub-prime mortgage and CDOs could be so simple?! Minus the feeling of impending doom I had after watching this, it’s well worth a watch.

If you’re looking into alphabet dating, here are some alternative ‘B’ date options for you to try: bowling, bingo, board games, baking, a boozy bar crawl or even a trip to the beach. If anyone has any suggestions for date ‘D’, I’m all ears – feel free to leave ideas in the comments.

Sincerely Sarah x

 

Squeaky Clean Makeup Brushes

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Cleaning your make up brushes is one of those tasks most of us hate. It’s not particularly glamorous, it can be time consuming and you have to do it properly if you want your brushes to retain their quality. All that said, a bit of effort really is only a small price to pay to avoid recurrent breakouts from the bacteria, oil and dead skin cells your brushes accumulate. Basically, you’re not getting out of this one – just do it!

If you google ‘how to clean makeup brushes’ you’ll be flooded with so many methods and products to use and ultimately, it can be a bit confusing. I’m a stickler for cleaning my makeup brushes and do it quite regularly, so here are my do’s and don’ts for getting your brushes squeaky clean:

makeup brushes DO keep it simple – Brands are constantly coming up with new, ‘essential’ products for you to use but you don’t need to buy into that hype. Johnson’s Baby Oil or Baby Shampoo has always served me perfectly well and it keeps the bristles super soft. Warm water + Baby Oil/Baby Shampoo = Clean brushes. Simples.


DO use lukewarm water – 
I learnt this one the hard way; I’ll never forget wrecking my favourite foundation brush by using really hot water which melted the glue and caused the bristles to fall out. Not fun.


DON’T get water in the ferrule  – 
The ferrule is the metal part of your brush connecting the bristles to the handle. You are only trying to wet the bristles before using your oil or shampoo; try to avoid getting the connection between the ferrule and the handle wet. Water can get trapped inside the brush and this can cause all sorts of trouble… You’ll need a new brush.

DON’T be heavy handed – Once the bristles are wet, dip the brush into the product of your choice and work in the palm of your hand. Small, gentle circles will work to break away the build up before you rinse again under water.

DO allow for drying time – Your powder, foundation and blending brushes will take longer to dry than your eye and lip brushes. I tend to leave mine to dry overnight. Don’t use the brushes if they’re not dry. It sounds obvious but they really won’t do what you want them to and you won’t be happy with your result. Patience is key.

DON’T lie your brushes flat – By this I mean, don’t let your brushes dry horizontally with all of the brush on one surface. Pressure on the bristles when drying will result in your brushes losing their shape, being unfit for purpose and will mean they take even longer to dry – annoying all round. Instead, you can either stick them to a wall vertically (with your bristles facing down) or horizontally with all of the bristles off the surface. The picture at the end of the post shows how I do mine.

DON’T run water directly into the head of the brush – The reasons for this have already been covered: a) you don’t want water in the brush and b) you want to treat the bristles as delicately as possible. Keep your brush at a 90 degree angle to the flow of water or 180 degrees with the bristles facing down.

and finally,

DO it regularly – The more often you do this, the softer your brushes become and the ‘task dread’ diminishes. I’ve combined a range of recommendations about frequency and here’s a quick guide:

  • Foundation brushes: Weekly
  • Powder, Bronzing and Blending brushes: Weekly
  • Eyeshadow brushes: After every other application
  • Eyeliner and lip brushes: After every application

Right, thanks for sticking with me through that. I hope you find this guide helpful and enjoy playing with your as-good-as-new makeup brushes. Please do leave any of your own tips in the comments below.

Sincerely Sarah x

brushes drying2

 

The Sincerely Sarah Beauty Quiz 2016

Before unleashing my 10 question beauty quiz on my kind makeup bag volunteers, it’s only fair I bite the bullet and give it a go myself, so here goes:

1. What is your favourite beauty product and why?
There are so many skincare and makeup products to pick from but Benefit ‘BrowZings’ has to be my all time favourite! I hadn’t quite realised how much impact good brows have on your makeup look – they really do change everything! I never leave the house without doing my brows so this is my staple. 

2. What is your current skincare routine?
I have only really settled on a skincare routine in the last 6-7 months but I’m really happy with what I’ve ended up with. I cleanse with L’Occitane Precious Cleansing Foam and moisturise with Clarins HydraQuench twice a day. I exfoliate once a week but haven’t quite found my favourite yet but if I ever need an extra burst of moisture I use the Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment serum – you really only need the tiniest amount though! For spots I swear by Sudocrem to reduce the redness. As a make up remover I normally go for Lancome Bi-Facial but after buying into the hype, I’m currently trying the Garnier Micellar Water

3. What are your top 3 go-to beauty brands?
Benefit for most makeup, Urban Decay for wonderful palettes and Clarins for complexion and skincare products.

4. What is your favourite new beauty find? It has to be OPI Gelcolour manicures! I only got into this in December and it’s totally revolutionised my nail care – before that, I always opted for varnish but had to repaint or change colours every 3-5 days. I love the longevity of an OPI Gelcolour manicure and they make me feel so put together. Getting back into nail varnishes will be hard after this.  

5. What makeup products do you wear everyday without fail?
You can read my everyday makeup routine here but if I really had to pick, I’d go for BrowZings, foundation and mascara as the essentials on a daily basis.

6. Which 3 products could you not live without?
Clarins HydraQuench Moisturiser, Nivea Handcream and Benefit BrowZings.

7. What beauty product most failed to live up to the hype for you?
This isn’t going to be popular but I really can’t get myself on-board with the YSL ‘Touch Eclat’ fuss. I may need to try it again because I know this is a staple for so many people but the consistency, colour and finish for me were all awful.  

8. What item is at the top of your beauty wish-list?
I’m going to go for two items from the same brand here: Glastonberry lipstick and Magic Foundation by Charlotte Tilbury 

9. Who is your makeup idol?
Alex Steinherr, the Beauty Director for Glamour, always has spectacular makeup and her skin is always glowing! If you don’t follow her on instagram already, she’s definitely worth checking out. 

10. Best piece of beauty advice you’ve ever been given?
Less is more! If you’re going to wear a bold lipstick, keep the eyes and complexion simple and vice versa. Oh and to never over pluck your eyebrows!!! 

Look forward to sharing more beauty quiz results in the coming weeks and months. Comments and thoughts are welcome, as always!

Sincerely Sarah x

Introducing the ‘Makeup Bag Rummage’

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So… I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about how I can make this blog a bit different to the thousands of wonderful beauty blogs already online, and after much deliberation here’s the plan:

As we know, I love being nosey and digging through people’s make up bags, so twice a month I’ll be indulging in this penchant by rummaging through friend’s makeup collections and reporting back on what I find. To take things a little further, each friend will be asked the same ‘Beauty Quiz’ in the hope of unearthing some new beauty and skincare faves!

Fingers crossed my nearest and dearest will be happy to get on board with the idea and grant me unlimited access to their make up bags. If you’re a reader and would like to get involved, get in touch with me here or via twitter/instagram.

Now to decide on the SS Beauty Quiz questions. Until then…

Sincerely Sarah x

 

My Remote Working Essentials

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A large proportion of my working week is spent on some form of public transport getting from point A to usually a distant B. I’m know I’m one of the lucky ones who can truly say they love their job but let’s establish one important thing; travelling for work isn’t as easy as you’d think!

In my world, working remotely can mean anything from an accommodating coffee shop to setting up shop on a packed train. That variety is actually pretty enjoyable but the hard part is finding a way to keep your productivity levels up when nothing else is consistent. When you have this level of variety in your week, it’s important to establish what works for you early on and get into as many good habits as possible.

My key bit of advice for successful remote working is to only pack the ‘essentials’. Not only does this mean you escape the joys of lugging around a ridiculously heavy rucksack, but you become far more efficient – trust me, it really works! After much trial and error, I’m now pretty no-nonsense about what classifies as ‘essential’, so as well as your tech items, here are some of the items I could not be without:

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  • Diary: I advocate digital options in most aspects of life but I can’t seem to shake off my paper diary dependency. I think I’m just a tad jaded from too many failed 4G/Wifi moments stuck at a random train station with no ‘go to’ address. It never hurts to back up an electronic diary and just means you won’t miss a meeting! This one is from one of my favourite stationers, Esmie UK.
  • Notebook: If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m slightly failing at the ‘going paperless’ thing…sorry! A notebook is so important for mid-thought scribbles, to-do lists and is a vital backup in the case of a dead laptop. This blue A5 notebook was a bargain in the Paperchase sale and is professional enough to whip out in front of clients too.
  • Hand sanitizer: OK, now I don’t want to sound old before my time but I really value a good hand sanitizer when I’m out and about. You never know when it’ll come in handy and unlike most brands, this Happy Jackson version leaves your hands clean, fresh and not dried out! It also smells amazing – mint and cucumber, I think?
  • EOS Lipbalm: I know not everyone likes EOS products in the blogging world but at the moment I’m a fan. This Strawberry Sorbet balm smells delicious and is light on my lips and not too slimy. This is an inexpensive, practical addition to any work bag – I’ll be replacing mine when the times comes.
  • Nivea ‘Smooth Nourishing’ Hand Cream: Nivea is unbeatable when it comes to high-street hand moisturisers. I’d comfortably say I’ve tried all of the brands on sale in Boots and Superdrug and I’m yet to be swayed. The travel size versions are perfect to keep in your handbag and a full sized version lives on my desk. You’ll be so pleased to have this gem when you’re travelling in the depths of the cold weather.
  • Hair ties: The UK’s unpredictable weather is to thank for this addition. This one is pretty self explanatory but the good old hair tie has saved me from looking like a complete drowned rat on more than one occasion. These colourful ones are from a Happy Jackson hairband ball – sheer genius!!
  • Nivea Lipcare ‘Pearly Shine’: I really like this product for a last minute beauty-fix. The pearly tones act to refresh your look with little effort, which is exactly what you want when you’re busy.
  • A good brolly –  Wow, I really do sound old now. I’d highly recommend investing in a sturdy, reliable umbrella to leave in your bag so you’re never without. I really love this Radley one and the red really works well with a black trench coat for work.

Martin Luther King Day 2016

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As a History and Politics graduate, I can’t let Martin Luther King day pass me by without some form of acknowledgement. If you’re not interested in political history and key historical figures, you may want to look away now…

As the most famous leader of the American civil rights movement, Dr Martin Luther King Jr is considered a peacemaker for his widespread promotion of nonviolence and racial equality across the world. His ‘I Have A Dream’ speech is studied and celebrated, and paved the way to him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. After his assassination in 1968, Dr Martin Luther King Jr was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter (1977) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2004), as well as the establishment of Martin Luther King Day in 1986.

On the 29th MLK Day, I wanted to share my favourite quotes of his. In today’s world, I feel these quotes are as relevant as they were in the sixties:

  1. “I have decided to stick to love… hate is too great a burden to bear.” (A testament of hope, 1967)
  2. “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (Letter from Birmingham City Jail, 1963)
  3. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” (Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, 1957)
  4. “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” (Beyond Vietnam – A time to break silence, 1967)
  5. “The time is always right to do what is right.” (Oberlin College, 1964)
  6. “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” (Love in Action: from strength to love, 1963)
  7. “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come.” (Letter from Birmingham City Jail, 1963)
  8. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (Letter from Birmingham City Jail, 1963)
  9. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle.” (‘I see the promise land’ speech, 1968)
  10. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” (Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964)

Sincerely, Sarah x

My Everyday Makeup

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I seriously LOVE having a look in my friends’ make up bags. I love seeing the products they use and I especially love being nosey and seeing how they apply them. This is sadly also true when it comes to strangers; I often find myself completely glued to watching people on the tube apply their makeup – strange, perhaps but gripping all the same.

There’s no covering up my love of beauty products and trying out new combinations. Not that I think you can ever own too many beauty bits but deciding on a day-to-day routine does become a little tricky when you’re choosing from 10+ foundations, 15+ mascaras and 20+ lipsticks! Unsurprisingly, I change things up quite often, but for now, here are the products I use for my everyday makeup look and how I apply them:

  • Benefit ‘That Gal’ Brightening Face Primer – £22.50
  • Clarins ‘True Radiance’ Foundation in 105, nude – £27.50
  • MAC Strobe Cream – £24.50
  • Dior Nude Tan Colour & Glow Powder in 001, Aurora – £38.00
  • Benefit ‘Brow Zings’ Brow Shaping Kit in dark – £24.50
  • Urban Decay ‘NAKED2 Basics’ Palette – £23.00
  • Rimmel London ‘Exaggerate Auto Eye Definers’ Liner £3.99
  • YSL ‘Volume Effect Faux Cils’ Mascara in Noir Radicale – £25.00
  • MAC lipstick in Crème Cup – £15.50

BASE: The first step of my routine is a generous application of the ‘That Gal’ primer to help even out my complexion and brighten my skin (for a full product review, click here). I then mix a 5p sized amount of the Clarins foundation with a small bit of the MAC strobe cream – a little really does go a long way! – and apply to my whole face. You don’t have to mix the strobe cream but I really like the all over dewiness it creates, and it saves a bit of time in the mornings.

CONTOURING/BRONZING: I am definitely not one of those people who contours every day – I mean, who actually has the time for that?! Instead, I use my bronzing powder to complement my cheek bones and the combination of the apricot and bronzing tones gives a mini contour effect with far less effort. Using a ‘real techniques’ brush, I apply just under my cheekbones, which I find works for me.

EYE BROWS: I am a firm believer that good brows will change your face entirely! I’ve gone through so many brow products and always come back to the benefit compact; they last for ages and I am a huge fan of the combination of powder and wax. I’ll do a separate post on how to define brows but simply put, I use a hard angled eye brush and drag the product through my brows, following a natural arched shape.

EYES: ‘Stark’ from the palette is my go-to, daily eye colour – it’s natural enough to wear all over your eyelid and makes a great base if you ever want to go for something more dramatic. I thinly line my upper eyelid with the Rimmel liner and use the ‘smudger’ to make the look less precise and a little messier. To finish, I use the mascara on my upper lashes only with a zig-zag application to create an even volume.

LIPS: The final piece of my everyday make up is a light dusting of the natural, pinky, Crème Cup lipstick.

 

…and there you have it, a quick look at my everyday make up look and my current favourite products for a natural look. Let me know your favourite products and thoughts on my everyday look in the comments below.

Sincerely, Sarah x

 

 

‘A’ is for Attenborough, Art and Afternoon Tea

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As if I wasn’t a fan already, I’m delighted to report that our first alphabet date weekend was a success!

Our Saturday started with a trip to see Alicia Vikander and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl and was followed by an amazing homemade Afternoon Tea. Bubbles, scones and cucumber sandwiches sans crusts is always a winner in my book!

The all important ‘something new’ for our date came on Sunday in the form of a virtual tour around the Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough, at the National History Museum. It was AMAZING, and having Attenborough narrate the underwater experience was something I won’t forget in a while. Whilst not beginning with A our weekend also included a rather indulgent meal at Hache and thankfully, a lot of walking around West London.

As promised, here are some other ‘A’ date ideas for you to try: visit an Aquarium, try your hand at Archery, visit an Art gallery, sit in the Audience of a TV show or try an Art class… there are so many options. This is why alphabet dating is such a good idea; it really gets you to think about making the most of each date, rather than settling for the familiar option. On a side note, if you’d like to visit the Attenborough exhibition at the NHM, you can find out more info here.

It’s now my turn to think up a ‘B’ date to live up to this one – arghh! If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below – all help is very much welcomed.

Sincerely, Sarah x

 

Dating our way through the alphabet

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I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to the wonderful world of instagram for introducing me to the concept of alphabet dating. As a hopeless romantic, I love the idea of spending time planning and enjoying, new and exciting dates for my boyfriend, Ali, and I to enjoy throughout the year. There are no ‘rules’ for how alphabet dating should work, it’s a perfectly flexible way of reintroducing the magic of spending uninterrupted time with your loved one back into your relationship.

We have agreed to carve out time every fortnight for an alphabet date, not only so ‘Z’ falls on Christmas Eve, but because it seemed realistic for us when juggling busy careers, professional qualifications, hobbies etc. The beauty is, there’s no right or wrong way to do this, you can work your way through the dates as quickly or as slowly as you’d like.

In a pledge to up the ante, each of our dates will include something that’s completely new to us both; it can be a new restaurant, a new band, a new place to visit – literally anything! We’re going to take it in turns to plan and pay for the dates, although again, you can do whatever works best for you.

I’m going to blog about our experience and I’m excited to think of what we’ll discover along the way. I’ll share what we got up to on each date and I’m planning to include some alternative suggestions you may wish to try if you’re thinking of giving this a go too. Our ‘A’ date was last weekend so a post about that will follow shortly – I’m restraining myself from sharing it now!

If you’re alphabet dating, would like to, or have finished all 26 dates, I’d love to read your thoughts and suggestions below. :) Happy Dating!

Sincerely, Sarah x

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