Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Idiot's Guide to Contouring.

Just to clarify, you are not the idiot - I am.

You see, even as a beauty blogger who plays around with makeup on a daily basis, the word contouring is enough to break me out in a cold sweat.

And whilst I would love to rock a cheekbone like Kim K, I'm not the kinda gal who is going to get herself all muddled with 4 different shades of foundation, a bronzer, a highlighter and a Beauty Blender... talk about effort.

What's more, I think contouring gives the impression of being something of an expensive trend to embrace... the much-hyped Kevin Aucoin Sculpting Powder comes in at an eye-watering £33.00. And as I, personally, think contouring is a bit much for daytime, I wouldn't even use the aforementioned product on a daily basis, so it just seems like an awful lot of money to spend.

I'd given up all hopes of contouring my cheekbone-less face, until I read that Cheryl Fernandez Versini (whose contouring skills I have long admired) proclaimed that she uses matte taupe-toned eyeshadows to create her killer cheekbones... and it got me thinkin'.

I love the L'Oréal Paris Glam Bronze in Golden Bronze*, a matte taupe bronzer which adds very subtle definition when used on the temples and cheekbones, but if you wanted a more dramatic contoured look, it's probably not your best bet (... especially with my skintone).

I then found a matte brown eyeshadow in my stash - mine is by TIGI Cosmetics and I'm pretty sure it's no longer available, but the Natural Collection Solo Eyshadow in Crushed Walnut is a pretty good dupe.

Taking a swipe of the L'Oréal Paris Glam Bronze followed by the matte eyeshadow on an oblique-headed Contour Brush from the TMart Professional Brush Set*, I tapped off any excess, then buffed the brush into the back of my hand to ensure even product distribution across the bristles...

I then took the brush to my face, all the while mentally reciting a top contouring tip from Charlotte Tilbury: follow the hollow.  

I buffed in circular motions along the cheek hollow...

Look - I have actual cheekbones!

My technique probably need a bit of practice (I will be sharing some of my contouring pearls of wisdom here on Friday), but this method has proven to be something of a revelation to me, and whilst I still won't be embracing contour on a daily basis, I can't wait to add this to my evening makeup look.

All I'm sayin' is watch your back, Cheryl and Kim. I've now got a contour brush, and I'm not afraid to use it.
*PR Sample

Monday, 27 October 2014

Shine On.

There's a new favourite in my haircare stash that I've been dying to tell you gals about.

I've previously proclaimed my love for the original John Frieda Brilliant Brunette range, but the new Liquid Shine may just be better than the original.

The Liquid Shine line is enriched with Crystalline Complex, which is absorbed into damaged hair whilst also smoothing the hair's surface to make it super soft shiny and glossy.

I've been trying out the Shampoo*, Conditioner* and Perfecting Glosser* for about a fortnight, and can honestly say it's totally changed the texture of my hair... which tends to get rather coarse and dry as soon as the temperatures drop. I've had lots of comments about my hair looking more glossy, and the colour more rich, which I think it pretty good proof this stuff is working.

I adore using these products (all the more because they are glittery! I couldn't get a good photo of this so you'll just have to buy it yourself to see!) and absolutely love this entire range,...and if you're looking to get your brunette locks in tip-top condition before winter sets in, this is the stuff to get.

Now excuse me whilst I go run my fingers through my hair again...

The John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Liquid Shine range is priced at £5.89 - £5.99, and available at Boots.

*PR Sample

Monday, 20 October 2014

FOTD: Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.

As you all know, I was lucky enough to attend the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards a couple of weeks ago, as I was shortlisted for Best Established Beauty Blog.

I've shared the events of the night with you here, and whilst dressing the part is all well and good, being a beauty blogger means the real focus was the makeup.

So today, I thought I'd share with you the steps taken to create this look:

London: here I come! #CosmoBlogAwards

First up: I cleansed and toned and finished with plenty of moisturiser - my choice is the Nivea Pure & Natural Day Cream. It sounds almost counter-productive to long-lasting makeup, but trust me when I say a well-moisturised face will make your base last much, much longer… just make sure you leave yourself a good amount of time for the moisturiser to sink in! 

Next up came some pre-concealing…

I am lucky to have relatively clear skin, but when I do get the odd spot, it tends to leave a dark mark behind that can’t really be covered by my normal choice of concealer without beginning to look cakey – thankfully, the Estee Lauder Double Wear Maximum CoverMakeup in Medium-Deep comes in pretty handy for covering pesky hyperpigmentation, and as it's waterproof, it doesn't budge all night. The smallest (and I really mean that!) amount of this buffed into the problem area with a Real Techniques Expert Face Brush covers the offending area… this product can be really drying if your skin isn’t moisturised, so all the more reason to slap the day cream on like there’s no tomorrow!

Next up, creating a totally uniform skin-tone – my pick? L'Oréal Paris True Match Foundation in W7, Golden Amber which provides flawless medium coverage, but can easily be built up to full without looking cakey… what’s not to love? 
My top tip for making your foundation last is to apply several light, thin layers, buffing each one in (the aforementioned brush is my pick for this) thoroughly to make sure the product is really well blended. I don’t have perfect skin, and find that one full pump of product is far too much for me, so there’s really no need to layer this stuff on thickly!


I concealed any dark circles and redness using the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Biscuit, and dusted my T-zone (where I tend to get shiny… nice) with the ChanelLes Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder. 

I then left my base and attended to what was to be the main focus of my look: the eyes.

I applied the NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base to my ‘lids, which tend to get rather oily (shiny T-zone and oily eyelids… really selling myself here). If you wear eyeshadows on a daily basis, or want something that’ll make your eye makeup last on a night out, this is the stuff to go for. Not only does it make your eye makeup last much longer, it also preps your eyelids for the shadow pigments, allowing them to show up much brighter on the skin. Genius. 
Next came the eyeshadow in the form of the most beautiful palette ever… I’ll just give you a moment to take it in if you haven't already read my review:

Say hello to the Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eye Palette in Dolce Vita. I’m sure I’ve lost you ladies to a makeup coma, because just look how pretty it is. I turn into a heart-eyed emoji every time I look at it... I cannot cope.

I finished the look with a feline flick using the L'Oréal ParisSuperLiner Perfect Slim, along with the Eylure Volume 100 Strip Lashes.

I then filled in my brows with an angled brush and a matte dark brown powder before moving back onto the skin...
Now, I have zero cheekbones, but am completely useless with the complicated Kim Kardashian method of contouringdo I have time to blend 4 different shades of foundation into my skin? No, no I do not.
The L'Oréal Paris Glam Bronze in Golden Bronze* is a taupe coloured bronzer, which provides a natural contour to the face, without a hint of unsightly orange shimmer. I apply this is a ‘3’ motion, across my temples, under my cheekbones and under my jawline using a Real Techniques Blush Brush. 
Next up: my favourite step… blusher:

I started off by applying the Daniel Sandler Watercolour Blush in Spicey, a pink-peach shade, using the Real Techniques Stippling Brush to my cheeks.
I’m not one who goes sparingly with the blusher, so came the second product.

To create a shimmery ‘pop’ of colour on the apples of my cheeks, I applied a small amount of NARS Blush in Orgasm, a peach shade with finely milled gold glitter running through it, using a Real Techniques Blush Brush. I love using the Daniel Sandler Blush, as it creates a long-lasting flush to the cheeks, and combined with NARS Blush in Orgasm, the cheeks have a gorgeous, healthy glow.

To create a dewy sheen to the high points of my face, I dusted the Soap & Glory Glow All Out Luminizing Radiance Face Powder along the tops of my cheekbones, bridge of my nose and Cupid’s bow.

The final touch was lipstick…

I’d planned on doing an autumnal berry lip to complete the look, but had a total change of heart on the day. Instead, I opted for the L'Oréal ParisLiquid Lipstick in Molto Mauve* (above), a nude peach colour, so as to not compete with the strong smokey eye I’d gone for.

Et voila!

I was really pleased with the finished look… but I’ll let you guys be the judge, what do you think?

*PR Sample

A modified version of this post originally appeared on the Epigram website, click here to read it.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eye Palette in Dolce Vita.

I've had my beady eye on the Charlotte Tilbury line for yonks now, but given the high-end price tag of the range along with my measly student budget, they're not exactly products I can justify buying for myself.

It seems my wonderful friends took my not so subtle hints as to what I wanted for my birthday the other week, and the girls truly delivered by presenting me with the Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eye Palette in Dolce Vita... so let's start off with that packaging... isn't it just beautiful to look at?

Charlotte's entire range is based around 10 iconic beauty looks, and Dolce Vita is based on screen sirens past and present, such Sophia Loren and Penelope Cruz, with the look's palette creating a warm and sultry smokey eye.

The premise of the palettes is so simple, and makes even the most clueless of gals able to create a smokey eye thanks to Charlotte's ingenious system of 4 shades used to Prime, Enhance, Smoke and Pop. Starting from the top left and working round in a clockwise direction, you're able to create a quick and easy look that takes to from desk to disco, and Charlotte has created video tutorials for each look, so you can even apply your shadows whilst watching her use the makeup (here's the Dolce Vita one).

The basic idea is that the Prime shade goes all over the lid, and the Enhance shade along the lashline and outer crease. You can stop there, and you're left with a daytime-appropriate look, but should you want to make the look more PM friendly, simply use the Smoke shade in the outer corner and along the lashlines, before finishing with the Pop shade in the centre of the lid; this premise works for all ten of the eye palettes... clever, no?

All of the shadows are ultra-pigmented, and the Pop shade in the Dolce Vita palette is honestly one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen - applied to the central part of the lid, it creates a stunning glittery, golden sheen to the eye. The other 3 shades are beyond stunning, but the Pop shade is the best of the bunch, and completes the Dolce Vita look beautifully.

I wore the this look to the Cosmo Blog Awards last week, and got quite a few compliments for my eye makeup. Charlotte suggests pairing the look with a peach lip, which is what I went for, and the warm-
bronze eye looked beautiful with a nude pout.

I honestly cannot fault this palette - the shadows are, hands down, the best quality I've ever had the pleasure of using. Yes, it is incredibly expensive, but if you have a birthday coming up, want something fancy on your Christmas (yes, I said the C word already) list or even if you fancy a little splurge on yourself, then I'd certainly point you in the direction of the Dolce Vita palette.

I love the amount of thought that has been put into Charlotte's range, and the fact she's made 10 totally different looks to suit the makeup needs of every single woman. It's safe to say I'll be putting one thing from her range on my Christmas and birthday lists for many moons to come... hey, it'll only take me about 50 years to get the entire line.

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eye Palette in Dolce Vita is priced at £38.00, and available at

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards Ceremony 2014.

Last Tuesday, I had a rather exciting event to go to... and if the title of this blog post doesn't give away what that event was, well I don't know what will.

Yep, the Cosmo Blog Awards were finally here... and 3 months on, I was still in total disbelief that I'd even been shortlisted for Best Established Beauty Blog

Unfortunately I spent the morning of the awards doing a bit of work... highly glamorous, right? I wish I could have avoided it, but sadly there's no rest for a final year medical student, even on Cosmo Blog Awards day... major #MedStudentProblems.

When the work was done, it was time to start on the real job of the day... transforming my tired 24 year-old face into one that resembled a fresh-faced beauty blogger's.

Let the primping commence! #CosmoBlogAwards

I had planned my makeup in advance and, initially, was set on doing a matte berry lip... but when it came to the day, I had a total change of heart. Given how heavy my eye makeup was (more about that later this week!), I figured a peachy nude lip was the way forward, so instead of the Rimmel Kate Moss 107 Lipstick I'd planned on wearing, I used the L'Oréal Paris L'Extraordinare Liquid Lipstick in 500, Molto Mauve*. I paired this makeup with un-fussy hair, and simply added a few flicks and curls through the lengths for some definition.

My dress was an old favourite by Glamorous, which I bought in Joy many moons ago.

I was really pleased with the finished look... but what do you guys think?

London: here I come! #CosmoBlogAwards

At 3 PM, I walked to the bus stop (sidenote: being dolled up to the nines at three o-clock on a Tuesday afternoon does get a lot of bemused stares) and departed for the station, where I was met by fellow shortlister and Bristol-based-blogger Rachel of the delightful Handbags and Cupcakes. 

Rachel and I have been following each other's blogs for ages, but despite being at the same University, had never met face-to-face (mainly because she was off living it up in Europe last year!). You wouldn't have thought it, though, as within about 5 minutes of boarding our train, we were gossiping about everything from bad dates, to birthdays (having both recently celebrated one), to blogging.

The two hours flew by as we gabbed to our hearts' content, and before long we pulled into London Paddington and jumped on the tube to get ourselves to the venue... whilst indulging ourselves with a bit of classic tourist behaviour, of course.


After a stroll through London, we found ourselves at the OXO2 Tower, South Bank where the awards were being held, and were met with a gorgeous view... naturally, us blogger gals got rather snap happy...

We made our way up the stairs, checked in, then hastily made our way to the ladies' room to switch out of the flats we'd worn for the journey and into heels... hopefully we fooled everyone into thinking we'd been wearing the latter the whole time.

Heels on, we headed into the party and were met with champagne and cocktails... FYI, that's my hand eagerly reaching for the champers.

Champagne in hand, we strolled further in and were met with a backdrop by Next (who sponsored the awards), who asked us to write a few words to complete the sentence, "I'm at the #CosmoBlogAwards with @NextOfficial and..." This was an opportunity for me to be cool and funny with what I wrote on my speech bubble, so I went with something really original:


Rachel's mind worked very much like mine, in that food seemed to be the epicentre of both of our thoughts for a large part of the evening, so it was pretty good that Next had provided these yummy cookie pops:

It's safe to say Rachel got quite excited by the cookies...

I think we ate a faaaaair few of these as the evening progressed... sorry Next.

The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted that she'd also got herself another drink... so naturally I needed to catch up. Good thing, then, that I had just found myself at at a bar...

Provided by Pinky Vodka, the cocktails were numerous (and obviously included Cosmopolitans) and seriously yummy... I'd love to tell you I tried them all, but a couple of sips in and I realised they were pretty strong.

By this point, we had spotted another source of sugar to soak up some of that alcohol, and it came in the form of cupcakes provided by Two Little Cats Bakery.

Not only could you eat these scrummy cupcakes, but you could also decorate them with your choice of frosting and edible treats...

This was not our only trip to the Two Little Cats stand, and having, ahem, sampled a fair few of the flavours,  I can tell you that the peanut butter frosting was the best of the bunch, with the coconut flavour coming in a close second... mmmmm....

Sorry, think you lost me to a frosting-induced food coma there... where was I?

Ah yes. 

Not only could you make your cupcakes look all pretty, but you could also make yourself look fabulous too. In theory, I could have walked into the Cosmo Blog Awards bare-faced and walked out looking a million dollars... I say in theory, because in reality, I don't think I'd want to walk into an awards ceremony with absolutely no makeup on, especially as I am a beauty blogger.

Despite already looking beyond great, Rachel opted for a bit of a makeover. First stop: MUA.

Whilst Rachel had her makeup done, I chatted with the MUA artist, who showed me some of the eyeshadows she was using - they looked easy to blend with really great colour pay-off... Think I'll be giving these a whirl in the future.

The London Dolls were on hand to give everyone fluttery lashes, and of course I'd already come with falsies glued on, so...

And, finally, Iz Beauty were on hand to get your talons looking trim with some rather cool nail wraps... finally, something I could actually have done!

Then came some mingling...

I met Sophia Meola (above), who was also shortlisted in my category - we only chatted briefly, but she was so warm and friendly. Check out her Chanel... me? Jealous? 'Course not.

Before long it was time for us to sit down for the awards... not before another a quick pit stop at the Two Little Cats stand, though.

We piled into the room and took our seats and sure enough, the results were announced.

Sadly I didn't win in my category, but hey-ho - I think being shortlisted from 47000 entries is a pretty big achievement in itself! Huge congratulations to all the winners, who can be found here... make sure you watch the video at the bottom and see if you can spot yours truly!

Ceremony over, it was time to get back to the cookies, cupcakes and cocktails.

I'd left my flat in Bristol with my hair looking great, but sadly the bouncy ends I'd styled 6 hours earlier had pretty much dropped out... lucky, then, that Remington were on hand to tend to our tresses!

The Remington hair stylist had quite the task on her hands thanks to my oodles of thick, heavy hair... oopsy... luckily, Rachel's hair was a bit easier to manage!

One of the girls working on the Remington stand (Hi Esther, if you are reading!) happened to be a friend of a friend, and it also just so happened she (quite literally) lives over the road from me in Bristol... small world, hey?!

Utterly fab night at the #cosmoblogawards, as you can tell by the expressions on my and @bombayrose's faces.

Hair done, we headed on over to the Thomson photo booth for some crazy 'holiday' snaps... it seems I was rather taken with the inflatable shark.

Rachel and I put down our inflatables, and skipped off without realising we still had our holiday gear on... then had to walk back and return it, awkward.

Then came a little more mingling, this time I bumped into Alex and Victoria from Cosmo Blog Award winner My Little Black Book.

Victoria knew her stuff when it came to my actual job (student doctor, incase I didn't mention it enough!) as she happens to be the sister of a couple of fully-fledged doctors, and seeing as I am now applying for jobs (still in denial about that one) we had a little chin-wag about all things application related... mainly about how terrified I was about the prospect of being a responsible adult rather than 24 year old student next year.

Then it was time for some awkward posing in front of the Cosmopolitan magazine backdrop... when in doubt, hand on hip...

I chatted with a few other bloggers including Abi, Natasha, Samantha and Katie, but the night was drawing to a close, and with both Rachel and I scheduled to have teaching on Wednesday morning, it was time for us to get back to Paddington and board our train to Bristol.

We slipped our heels off, put our comfy flats back on, and I popped on a coat and cardigan with some leggings to brave the chilly temperatures outside. We took a leisurely stroll back along the river towards Waterloo, all the while taking in a totally different view from the one we'd seen earlier...

The dull, grey water of the river was replaced by a glossy, black sheet, which reflected the twinkling lights from the big city so very beautifully...

I've always considered myself a country girl, and before now, I can't say I've ever been drawn to relocating to the Capital, especially as my first few years of work will be spent paying off six years of student debt from medical school... but as I stood looking out onto the Thames, I did think to myself, "Boy oh boy, I could get used to this view." Maybe in a few years time when I have a little more than an overdraft to my name, I'll revisit this idea... watch this space.

We got to Paddington, climbed onto our train and sprawled ourselves out across a table, having a mooch through our Cosmopolitan goodie bags and looking through each other's photos from the night. At 1.30 on Wednesday morning, we pulled into Bristol and said our goodbyes before setting off in seperate taxis back home.

I woke up early the next morning to get myself back to hospital placement in time for teaching, whilst donning a find from the awesome goodie bag...

Back to reality (aka hospital placement). Wearing my new favourite @nextofficial scarf! What a lovely find in the #CosmoBlogAwards goodie bag! ��

A bonus find was yet another Two Little Cats cupcake... that went down a treat, especially as I hadn't managed breakfast that morning.

The joy of finding last night's squished (but still delicious!) @twolittlecatsbakery cupcake in my bag (along with appropriate reading material, naturally). #CosmoBlogAwards

I'd like to say a massive thank you to Cosmopolitan for a great evening, along with all of you who nominated Bombay Rose for Best Established Beauty Blog, and ultimately got my little piece of Internet spotted by the lovely people at Cosmopolitan. I wouldn't have been shortlisted if you ladies hadn't voted for me in the first place, so from the bottom of my heart: thank you so very much.

*PR Sample
Credit: many thanks to Rachel for letting me use some of her photographs

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