Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Beauty | Illamasqua Blushers in Rude & Hussy

So here we go, two days into December and I'm publishing another blog post already.  It's not a huge deal to most people I know, but I've been so busy recently I've barely been able to post at all, so it's a bit of a new thing for me.  I'm not going to jinx myself by making any grand pronouncement about posting every day or anything, but I'm going to try and keep it more regular from now on.

Illamasqua Blusher Rude and Hussy

Anyway, it seems like an age since I reviewed a makeup product on here so for today's post I wanted to bring you two of my absolute favourite blushers of the last year, Rude and Hussy from Illamasqua.  I picked up these beauties in one of Illamasqua's sales last year and have pretty much loved them ever since.  I don't know what it is about this brand, I haven't tried a lot from their range, but have absolutely adored everything I have been able to try.

My first love out of these two has to be the Cream Blusher in the shade Rude.  It looks almost scarily orange in the pan but on my light olive skin skin, it is the perfect peachy pink/coral.  I don't have a great deal of experience with cream blushers, but I suspect the formula which Illamasqua have come up with is a very good one.  It's incredibly soft, with a rich pigment but perfectly balanced with just enough colour.

Illamasqua Blusher Rude

The blusher applies smoothly using either a stippling brush or a ring finger (my preferred method) blends easily, and lasts really well on the skin, giving really pretty colour and a hint of glow. As you can probably imagine, I got a lot of use out of this blusher during the summer paired with a coral lip, even now I still use it on those days where I'm wearing minimal makeup.

A close second in my Illamasqua blusher affections is the rather wonderfully named Hussy, a Powder Blusher.  I was equal parts excited and apprehensive for this blusher to arrive with my order, it's so far removed from the shades I'd normally go for.  I don't regret buying it for a second though, the candy pink/watermelon shade is the perfect pick-me-up for tired looking skin and can't help but bring a bit of a cheer to your day.

Illamasqua Blusher Hussy

In terms of formula, Hussy is equally as brilliant as Rude, it's a matte shade with a powder that is buttery soft and silky smooth to apply.  The pigment here is not for the fainthearted either, a light hand is a necessity, I find that the Real Techniques blush brush works perfectly in this case.

Now I've had the opportunity to sample these two, I've got my eye on plenty more Illamasqua Blushers for the future, watch this space for more reviews!

Illamasqua Blusher Rude and Hussy - swatches

What are your favourite blushers?  Have you tried any from Illamasqua?  I'd love to hear from you.

Sharon x

Monday, 1 December 2014

Restaurant Review | Breakfast at Bill's, York

One of the very best things about living in York at the moment is that there are always new and exciting shops and restaurants cropping up all over the place.  One fairly recent addition to the scene was Bill's restaurant on Coney Street, right in the centre of York.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

Bill's started out in Lewes, East Sussex less than 15 years ago and since then has grown to have nearly 30 restaurants throughout the UK, obviously with the York as the latest offering.  Now I'll be straight up here and let you into a little secret; Bill's menu for lunch and dinner is really not at all up my alley, I don't find anything on there which makes me say 'wow'; it pretty much just leaves me cold.  Their breakfast and brunch options, on the other hand, are another story entirely.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

The sheer number of menu items is what attracts me first of all; from the full English to eggs benedict, granola and everything in between, there's easily an option for almost every taste.  It's a fair bet that that Gaz will always go for anything that includes sausages, bacon or a combination of the two, but after much sampling of Bill's breakfast menu, I've got to say my favourite is the vegetarian breakfast paired with an iced tea.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

The breakfast includes 2 poached eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms, on lovely crunchy sourdough toast that has been generously smothered with hummus on one slice and guacamole on another.  The plate is finished off with a generous swirl of sweet chilli sauce and a little basil.  Everything is really fresh and always very well cooked, and although it looks like a small plate it's surprisingly filling, particularly washed down with the iced tea, usually packed with fresh peach and mint.  Price wise it's not too bad at all either, the basic version of the breakfast is £7.95, but if you're extra hungry you can add on baked beans or crispy potatoes for £1.00 and £1.25 respectively.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

Apart from the food, the other thing I really enjoy about Bill's is the decor, it's this really interesting mix of the industrial and the glamorous, pairing loads of metal and wood with leather chairs and chandeliers dotted throughout (and don't forget that giant lit-up Bills sign in the window).  Even though it's a large restaurant, having a few head height (when you're sitting down at least) dividers throughout the place gives it a more intimate feel, particularly when part of Bill's is a little shop/deli type area.

Bill's Restaurant, Coney Street, York

Aside from the lunch and dinner menus not appealing to me I do have one other negative thing to say about Bill's in York, and it unfortunately relates to the staff.  For the most part they have been friendly and helpful, just as you'd expect in any restaurant, but there have been two occasions (once at lunch and once at breakfast) where I've been unfortunate enough to get served by some singularly unhelpful and pretty darn sullen individuals.  Don't get me wrong, I can understand people having a bad day but maybe some people just shouldn't be in the service industry.  Anyway, it hasn't been enough to put me off the place thus far, but who knows for future visits.

If you fancy paying a visit to any of Bill's restaurants, or if you want to check out the menu, you can find them here.

Have you been to one of the Bill's restaurants around the country?  How did you find the food and the staff?

Sharon x

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Beauty | Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth Review

I've long been an exponent of using cloths to exfoliate my face (muslin cloths and flannels, anyone?) so I was genuinely intrigued to try the Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth* when I was contacted about it.  This little reusable microfibre cloth sounded a little different to my usual favourite muslins, claiming that it could, amongst other things, smooth & soften the skin, combat the appearance of fine lines and deep clean pores.  You can imagine how much I wanted to get my mitts on one?
Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth

When the Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth arrived, it was honestly a tad surprising; this looked just like the cloths that I use to clean my glasses, or to wipe down the screen on my Macbook.  How was this going to exfoliate my face at all?  On closer inspection the cloth is a little different though; running your fingers across the surface you can feel a very slight texture, not exactly rough, but not completely smooth either.  I was fascinated enough to use the Exfolia in my shower that evening.

After reading the instructions carefully (does anyone else do this obsessively with a new product?) I decided to try in the first instance 'The 1 Minute Surprise' that the makers of the cloth recommend.  Basically this involved using the cloth with my favourite cleanser, and washing one side of my face with 9/10 gentle strokes, then washing the other side as I normally would.  I won't overstate things and say a miracle happened in that first test, but after patting dry my face I thought there was definitely some smoothing effect on the 'Exfolia' side.

Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth

As the instructions suggest only using the cloth 2-3 times a week I left it a few days until my next try, again I used it in the shower, after I had removed my makeup, and with my favourite cream cleanser.  This time I was slightly more vigorous with the 'strokes' of the cloth and boy did I feel the exfoliation then!  There wasn't any damage done, but I could see how if I'd had sensitive skin it would have been too much.  Anyway, my skin was left feeling decidedly smoother after this go, but on further use I went a bit more gently.  In addition to using the cloth for my face, I've tried it out the Exfolia on my body too, more specifically on my arms.  I suffer from the dreaded keratosis pilaris (little goose bumps that never go away) on my upper arms and have found that whilst there was no great 'ta-da' moment where everything was fixed, the texture of the skin there has absolutely been improved.

Overall I'd say there has been some definite improvement in the texture of my skin from using the Exfolia cloth, I really do feel like I'm getting a deep clean and whilst I haven't been using it for long enough to really assess it's effects on fine lines (not that I have too many mind!) I'm hopeful of seeing results.  I'll get plenty more use out of this one cloth too, according to the instructions it can be used 60 to 80 times, as long as you keep it clean and cared for (I've been washing mine with antibacterial hand soap).

The Exfolia Microexfoliation Cloth is suitable for all skin types (just be slightly gentle with sensitive skin), it is £10.35 and can be found here.

What are your favourite methods of exfoliation?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Sharon x 

*Product provided for review.  Rambling and opinions 100% my own.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Beauty | Favourite Autumn Winter Lipsticks & Giveaway

If you saw my makeup collection and storage video (you can see it here if you fancy a watch) you'll know that I've got more than a few lipsticks, so picking favourites is a bit of a challenge!

Favourite Autumn Winter Lipsticks & Giveaway

I powered through however and have picked out what I think is a fab range of colours for the the coming weeks and months.  You can hear all about my picks for Autumn & Winter in the video below and find links to all of the products mentioned a bit further down the page too.

Favourite Autumn Winter Lipsticks & Giveaway
L-R: Grand Cru, Prune in Fire, Hyde Park, Diva, Dark Side, Black Cherry, Bewitch Me

Lipsticks Mentioned...
Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in Grand Cru
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupte Shine in Prune in Fire (sorry this one looks like it's no longer available)
Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Hyde Park
MAC Cosmetics Lipstick in Diva
MAC Cosmetics Lipstick in Dark Side
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry
Sephora Rouge Lipstick in Bewitch Me (sorry looks like this one is no longer available too)

Now onto the giveaway portion of the post.  As I mentioned in my video, the content I've been putting on YouTube has been really well received, both on that platform and on Twitter.  I've been really touched by all of the support I've received so wanted to celebrate with a little giveaway of a Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in Grand Cru.

If you decide to enter, good luck!

Sharon x

Please read the rules before entering...
  1. This giveaway is being run on Rafflecopter, and will be open from Sunday 12th October to Sunday 26th October 2014.
  2. To enter, you must subscribe to my channel on YouTube, follow my Blog on Bloglovin' and follow me on Twitter.
  3. Sorry, this giveaway is open to UK residents only, and you must be over 18 years old or have your parent/guardian's/the homeowner's permission to give me your addres
  4. All entries will be checked and verified and any false entries will be removed
  5. The prizes cannot be exchanged, swapped or refunded in any way
  6. The winner will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter and will be notified via email.  If the winner does not respond to the notification email within 2 weeks of initial contact another winner will be selected, again via Rafflecopter.
  7. The winner will also be announced on my Twitter account.
  8. I cannot accept any responsibility for the item becoming lost or damaged in the post, responsibility will be with the chosen mail service. I will send the item via Royal Mail.
  9. Finally - good luck!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Beauty | Old Wives Tail Organic Clove & Jojoba Oil Treatment*

Hello beautiful people!  I don't know about you, but I feel as a beauty blogger I kind of fail when it comes to hair care.  I've got pots and potions galore for my face and body, but in the hair department I'm seriously lacking, I mean I've literally got my shampoo and conditioner and then one leave-in conditioner.  Obviously this is a situation I felt needed to be remedied.

Imagine my delight then when the lovely Lily from Old Wives Tail got in touch to see if I was interested in reviewing one of their organic hair treatments (they have a good variety for all different hair types).  Being a bit of a hair mask/treatment newbie I relied on Lily's advice about which product would be best for me, and after sending her a description of my barnet and it's various woes (my hair is naturally curly/wavy, colour treated, and although there's masses of it, it's quite fine in texture) she said the Clove & Jojoba Oil Treatment would suit me best.

Old Wives Tail Organic Clove & Jojoba Oil Treatment

A few days later a very well wrapped parcel arrived containing a 100ml pot of said treatment.  Scent is immensely important to me in my beauty products so the first thing I did was whip off that lid and give it a good old sniff.  I was pleasantly surprised, I'd expected the usual strong medicinal clove smell but what I got instead was something still pungently clove-y, but also somehow sweet.

Next came the testing.  Delving into the little plastic tub was in itself a bit of an experience; I'd kind of expected a thick conditioner type texture but was met instead with something considerably thicker, and more buttery, almost more like one of the luxurious lip balms I use.  Also unexpected was how little I need to use of this, you can see from the picture in this post that my hair is pretty darn long, so I thought I would have to at least half of this little tub.  I needn't have feared though, scooping out an amount roughly about the size of an olive was enough to cover a good proportion of my hair.  I also worried about how this super thick texture would go into my curly tangly hair, but again I had no problems, the treatment quickly melted with heat of my hands into luxurious scented oil that was easy to spread from root to tip and to massage into my scalp.  From there it was a pretty pleasing experience to wrap my hair in a towel and enjoy the spicy aroma that wafted around me.

So what about the results?  Well let me tell you, it took a little bit of work to wash out this oil treatment, but I was left with lovely soft shiny hair which felt very manageable and easy to style; used a second and third time (with at least a week break in between each use) the treatment gave me similar results too, I only wish I'd taken before and after photos instead of just after.  I'm not surprised by the results either, considering the ingredients in this little pot.  Lovely thick jojoba oil is packed full of B and E vitamins and is intensely moisturising and is helped along in this with shea butter and olive oil.  Clove oil is very well known for it's stimulating effect on the scalp and helping to promote hair growth and whilst after three uses I can't really comment on seeing fuller hair and faster growth, I've got no doubt I'll see results similar to the thousands of people who use clove oil for this very purpose.  I'll still have plenty of opportunity to keep using the Old Wives Tail treatment too, three uses hasn't made too much of a dent in it at all. 

Now normally I'd end a review here telling you how much the product is and where you can get your hands on it, but I've got to take a moment here to wax lyrical a little about Old Wives Tail as a company, and why I like them so.  First off, read the story here about how the company came about, it's so evocative and if it doesn't bring a smile to your face then I don't know what will.  Second of all I find the ethics of this company really admirable, they don't pack their treatments full of nasty fake ingredients, they completely abhor animal testing of any kind and have managed to make effective products that are vegan and completely cruelty free.  See?  Lovely!

So if you do want to get your hands on this oil, it's £13.99 for 100ml and can be found here.

Have you tried anything from Old Wives Tail?  What are your favourite hair treatments?

Sharon x
*Product sent for review purposes. Opinions 100% my own.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Beauty | Sweet Cecily’s Cocktail Flavoured Lip Balms*

I think it’s safe to say that we all know now how obsessed I am with lipsticks.  The obsession with lip products doesn’t stop there though, rather it extends to cover all aspects of lip beautification, I mean really, what good is a stunning lipstick without well prepped lips underneath? Not a good look is what!

As you can probably imagination, I have a whole raft of products with which I keep my lips cared for and these days it takes something really special to join the fold.  These lovely little cocktail flavoured lip balms from Sweet Cecily’s just might do that though.

First of all can we talk about the cuter than cute packaging?  From the way they arrived all wrapped up in brown paper with a pretty little ribbon, to the little individual tins, scent specific labels and nicely turned out typography, I love it all.

The product inside the packaging is right up my alley too!  So each of the Sweet Cecily’s lip balms I was sent are cocktail flavours and I don’t know if the team there just guessed, but they managed to pick out some of my favourites.  Top of the list for me is the Mojito flavour, it has a scent of fresh lime that is somehow right on the money, deliciously zesty but not overpowering.  The Pina Colada flavour is sweet and fruity as you would expect, but not at all sickly.  The final flavour is Espresso Martini, this is a brand new addition to the Sweet Cecily range and packs a good caffeine-scented punch, just like you’d expect of a real espresso martini (The one I got is in slightly different packaging as it was a sneak peak).

Of course, these lip balms wouldn’t make it into my favourites on packaging and scents alone, they’ve got to be a good product too, and let me tell you the Sweet Cecily’s lip balms don’t disappoint.  The texture to me is very reminiscent of some of my other favourite balms in that they feel almost slightly grainy when you first apply them, and then melt with your body temperature to a lovely smooth balm.  The moisturisation is great too, not too heavy but hydrating and long lasting enough that I can get away with application just a couple of times a day.  Almost unheard of for me, I’m a real serial re-applier!  This is probably down to the fab ingredients these little tins contain, there's no chemical nasties to be found here, just good, natural and more importantly, nourishing ingedients.

Sweet Cecily’s Cocktail Flavoured Lip Balms
I think the three lips balms I was sent will last me a good long while but I would without a doubt purchase some when I do run out.  Looking at the Sweet Cecily’s website there are some fabulous flavours to choose from too.

You can find the Sweet Cecily’s Lip Balms here, prices start from £2.95.

Have you tried anything from Sweet Cecily’s?  What are your favourite lip balms?

Sharon x

*Products sent for review purposes. Opinions 100% my own.