Lancome Juicy Shaker – Show Me the Honey*

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Ok, so it’s not exactly news that I’m a big fan of Lancome’s Juicy Shaker lip glosses. When they were released earlier this year, I kind of binged on them – collecting a handful of colours in a few weeks, and honestly, they’re still one of my most used products.

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Show Me the Honey is probably the most neutral of my collection (which even contains a blue one) and it’s the perfect shade for everyday use. It’s a sheer, warm toned peach which makes lips look pretty and juicy – and really, what more can you ask for?

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Like all Juicy Shakers, Show Me the Honey, has a bi-phase formula which you shake prior to using. Then, using the foam applicator, you just dab the gloss onto lips. It has a moisturizing and super lightweight formula, so it’s perfect if you’re not a fan of a sticky gloss. Instead this just smoothes on, leaving lips feeling hydrated and looking gorgeous!

Lancome’s Juicy Shaker in Show Me the Honey is priced at £18.00 and is available here (UK) and is priced at $21 and is available here (US)

Dinner at No. 11 Brunswick Street Brasserie*

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I feel like Edinburgh has a whole lot of little gems, which I’m just finding, and one of those has to be No 11 Brunswick Street’s Brasserie. When I mentioned I was heading there after work, my colleagues had nothing but good things to say about it!

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No 11 Brunswick St is a stunning, luxury hideout situated in one of Edinburgh’s iconic Georgian townhouses. It’s a touch down from the Edinburgh Playhouse, so if you’re after a spot for supper pre-theatre, you’ve got to check out the Brasserie.

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The restaurant itself is in the front of the property, it has views out onto the street, and it’s a gorgeously intimate affair. Painted in deep charcoal grey, it’s the perfect canvas for the chandeliers and mirrors which glitter as the night gets darker, and it has to be one of the cosiest dining rooms in the city!

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I went on a Friday evening, straight from work, and the welcome couldn’t have been warmer. We were shown to a table in the corner, right next to the window, and settled on two glasses of the House Red and got down to choosing what we wanted for supper. The wine was an absolute delight – rich and fruity – it was the perfect accompaniment for what was to come!

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The menu is well sized with enough variations for everyone – the first appetiser we opted for were the Chilli and Coriander Fishcake Bites with tartare sauce (£7.00). A trio of crisp spheres arrived, coupled with a homemade tartare sauce. The bites were hot and crisp on the outside, and wonderfully fluffy within. Hunks of cod and salmon studded the bites, and the tartare sauce was wonderful – filled with capers and dill, it was a delicious update on a classic.

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I opted for the Grilled Queen Scallops with Bernaise sauce (£7.00) which were just heavenly. The scallops, served on the shell, were soft and sweet, whilst the Bernaise sauce had just the right amount of vinegary bite.

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When it came to mains, we both opted for the Fillet Steak (£28.00) with Red Wine Jus (£2.75). As you can probably tell, it was a wise choice. The Brasserie at 11 Brunswick Street really aim to serve as much local produce as possible, and the beef was just delightful. Rich in flavour, yet incredibly juicy and tender, we both agreed that it’s one of the best we’ve had in a long time. The Red Wine Jus was the perfect accompaniment – I don’t usually add sauces to steak, but this was a delight.

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To go alongside the steaks, we shared three of the side dishes – it was a touch call, but we went for the Red Cabbage and Chilli Coleslaw (£3.00), Garlic Buttered Greens (£3.00) and Mascarpone and Parmesan Mash (£3.00). Honestly, the whole thing was perfection. The Coleslaw was light, and crunchy – just as it should be. The Garlic Buttered Greens were delicious – the garlic was light enough to let the freshness of the vegetables shine through, and the Mash was heavenly. We should have guessed, thanks to how light the Fish Cake appetiser was, but the potatoes were wonderfully creamy and flavourful. Exactly what you want to have alongside such a heavenly cut of meat!

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Then, after giving ourselves a good while to ponder the dessert menu (and to digest the rather delicious meal) we both opted for the Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream (£5.50). I had wavered over the idea of Creme Brûlée, which, of course, sounded divine. But by this point it was pitch black outside, and the dining room was positively sparkling, and a cosy pudding sounded pretty much heavenly. What was served has to best the very best Sticky Toffee Pudding I’ve ever even thought about. With a swirl of homemade vanilla ice cream and doused in rich caramel sauce, the pudding came already crowned in pear soak in mulled red wine. The sponge was airy in texture, and incredibly moist. The sauce was incredibly moreish, and the ice cream just superb. It was the perfect way to end one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time. So then, after a pot of green tea, we positively bounced out of the dining room, full of wonderfully fresh, Scottish produce, promising to return soon.

Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara*

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When it comes to mascara, I want three different things. I want it to be super black, very lengthening and give a huge whack of volume. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m pretty hard to please, and rotate between a trio of favourites in a daily basis, so, when the newest offering from Lancome popped through the letterbox, I was seriously excited – their Hypnose (this one) is one of my favourites, so I had high expectations!

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First off, I absolutely fell in love with the packaging. The Grandiose Extreme mascara is an updated formula of 2014’s Grandiose mascara, and the packaging is a take on the predecessor too. Matte black plastic looks absolutely beautiful – and I’m in love with the curvaceous shape – it just feels lovely to hold, and makes applying my mascara in the mornings an absolute joy!

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Like the original, it also has the rose-encased lid. It’s just so pretty, and looks like it should be in the new Beauty and the Beast film!

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The Grandiose Extreme has the same swan-neck brush as the original, and a plastic bristled brush head. Honestly, I was a little concerned about the brush, as typically I prefer big bush ones which sweep through lashes. But honestly, I shouldn’t have worried!

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The brush slips through my lashes like a dream, and I can’t tell you how dark the formula it is! Lancome claim that the Grandiose Extreme has ultra black pigments, and I have to agree! This isn’t a formula for days when you want to look fresh-faced and natural. This one, in a single coat, makes lashes super-black, and makes them look miles long – it’s dramatic; it also adds a wonderful amount of volume! I just adore how the effects last all day too – there isn’t a hint of smudging or flaking, just perfect lashes, all day long!

Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara is priced at £25.00 and is available here (UK) and $32 here (US)

Soft & Gentle Body Care*

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As someone with sensitive skin, it can sometimes be difficult to find product which smell great, do their job, without leaving my skin feeling dry or irritated. So, when I heard that Soft & Gentle were releasing a new body care line, I couldn’t wait to have a go! It’s a brand I’ve used a lot in the past, and had great results, so my expectations were high!

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The first of the trio I tested out was the 2 in 1 Shower & Shave Mousse. It’s a gorgeously lightweight mousse which can be used to shave anywhere you need to. I love the light, slightly fruity scent, and even after using, my legs didn’t feel like they needed to be smothered in moisturiser like they normally do!

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Next up is the Fragranced Spray. This is a lifesaver if you like to have a quicken freshen up during the day. I particularly use this in warm weather, after the more boring deodorant, I mist myself with a quick spritz of this. It’s not a deodorant, and it doesn’t have too strong a fragrance and just keeps me feeling super clean all day long.

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Last up is the Daily Shower Wash. Like all of the range, this is gentle enough to be used all over the body, and is a wonderful morning shower gel. It has a clean, fresh fragrance, and it foams beautifully.

The 2 in 1 Shower & Shave Mousse is priced at £3.99 and is available here.

The Fragranced Spray is priced at £2.99 and is available here.

The Daily Shower Wash is priced at £2.99 and is available here.

Lavera Re-Energizing Sleeping Cream*

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When it comes to keeping my skin hydrated I’m pretty much down for anything. I hate the feeling when it’s all tight and sensitised, so in an effort to keep everything soft and smooth, I’ve been using Lavera’s Re-Energizing Sleeping Cream each evening.

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The packaging of the Re-Energizing Sleeping Cream might not look (or feel) all too fancy, but the cream itself is absolutely heavenly to use. Relatively lightweight in texture, I apply a liberal whack of it on to freshly cleansed skin at night, prior to heading to bed.

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I just adore the gentle floral scent. It’s gorgeous, and very spa-like. Even vegans, and those who use cruelty-free products can use Lavera’s cream – and it’s a good thing too! The Re-energizing Sleeping Cream feels so soothing to apply, and I pat it on liberally. Then I head to bed and let it work its magic. The cream skinks in easily without feeling too rich or tacky, and it doesn’t pill on skin either. Instead it just sinks effortlessly into skin, repairing damage caused by elemental pollutants, and leaving skin looking bright and feeling wonderful!

Lavera Re-Energizing Sleeping Cream is priced at £16.50 and is available here.

Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Foundation*

dsc_0844For me, Elizabeth Arden has always been squarely a skincare brand. There’s been at least two tubes of their iconic 8 Hour Cream in the cupboard for as long as I can remember, and their overnight treatment has become a nighttime staple for me. So, I absolutely jumped at the chance to give their brand new Presage Anti-Aging Foundation a go.

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It might sound a bit odd that I’m trying an anti-acing product when I’m still in my twenties, but when a product promises to protect skin from the elements as well as make it look great, well, who could resist?

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Packaged in a slick, rather space-age pump-top bottle, the foundation in eight different shades. Those with very light or deep skin tones may struggle to find a match, but the finish of the foundation is medium-to-light, so you should be able to make it work. I only need a pump or two in the morning, and I’ve been applying it with my favourite foundation brush (this one). It applies smoothly, and leaves skin looking fresh and naturally glowy. It’s designed for normal to dry skin, and leaves it looking super fresh an smoothe – it’s the perfect base for the rest of my makeup. Crucially for me, it’s also incredibly lightweight, and doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a full face of makeup! If you’re in sunnier climes, it also contains an SPF30, which is so important!

Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage Anti-Ageing Foundation is priced at £40.50 and is available here (UK) and $65 here (US)

Ishga Rejuvenating Eye Balm*

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Considering I’ve been pretty much obsessed with skincare since I could walk, it’s probably no surprise that I’ve tried a few eye creams in my time. By the time I was about 14 I slathered the stuff on nightly (much to my mother’s amusement) and I’ve kept up my routine ever since. Recently though, I’ve started to apply eye cream in the mornings, a little massaged in prior to foundation and concealer leaves my skin hydrated all day, and it keeps my makeup in place too!

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My current favourite for day use is Ishga’s Rejuvenating Eye Balm. The Scottish skincare brand, which uses Hebridean seaweed as the basis of all of their products, is so gentle on delicate skin, and I have just fallen in love with their products! The Rejuvenating Eye Balm is a new release for Ishga, and it’s perfect if you’re in need of a little hydration! I use a single pump of the formula, and massage it into my under eye area. Then, I’m good to go – I apply my makeup as normal, and I can’t even tell you how smoothly it applies! Even well into the afternoon, when I normally require a bit of a touch up to  feel human, but after using Ishga, my eye make up still looks freshly applied.

Ishga’s Rejuvenating Eye Balm will be released soon!

Blackbird Bar & Restaurant*

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Living in Edinburgh, you get pretty used to grey evenings, but last Friday was grimmer than most, with lashings of rain and near gale winds. So, having a booking at Blackbird Bar & Restaurant was pretty much the best way to spend an evening. Located on Leven Street, right on the way into Bruntsfield, Blackbird has been one of those places I’ve been dying to try, so when I was asked along to try out supper, I just jumped at the chance!

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The interiors of Blackbird are the definition of cosiness. Split into two halves, one containing the bar, the other, tables for diners – it’s a snug little nook to tuck yourself into for the evening. The walls are original stone, whilst candles and chandeliers shimmer in corners. Despite heading in pretty early, there was already a pleasant buzz as families and couples pondered the menu.

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Coming in out the rain, we fancied something light to start off with, while we decided on cocktails, so we opted on a sharing plate of Crispy Plantain Chips (£6.95) which came with guacamole and spiced yoghurt.

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Sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, the chips were deliciously light and crisp, and the guacamole was just a delight! I can be rather fussy about the ‘green stuff’ but Blackbird’s was a delight – creamy and flavourful with chunks of red onion and chilli.

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As we crunched through the sharing platter, our thoughts turned to cocktails – it was Friday night after all! Perhaps unsurprisingly since half the place is a bar, the drinks menu is incredible – pages of choices encompassing old favourites and new creations. We plumped for two off the ‘Long’ page – a Rhubarb and Elderflower Collins (£7) and a Spiced Pear Buck (£7). Both were perfect – icy cold, refreshing and almost juicy in flavour, I could have easy sipped on them all night!

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The first of the mains we ordered was The Blackbird Steak Pie (£12.95). Served with a generous portion of twice cooked chips, this was the perfect choice for such a grim evening.

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The steak pie came in it’s own little cauldron, and was a hearty mix of crisp and flaky puff pastry with a meaty and rich gravy below. Well flavoured, with huge chunks of steak – it was a hot pot of comfort!

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I opted for the Sumac Crusted Chicken Breast (£11.95) which came on a bed of fried new potatoes and grilled lettuce. The chicken was moist, juicy, and absolutely huge – the sumac gave it a zesty freshness which sat well with the lime butter and vegetables. The grilled lettuce was an absolute revelation – salted and drizzled in lime butter, I’ve already copied this at home! The dish was well balanced and incredibly satisfying – just the way to end a busy work week!

Urban Decay XX Vice Reloaded*

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Whenever Urban Decay release a new palette, it’s almost as if you can hear the world’s intake of breath. There have been a couple lately, and I got my hands on the brand new XX Vice Reloaded Palette, and spoiler alert – it’s a good one!

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Packaged in a slick black compact, complete with jewelled logo, XX Vice Reloaded is something special to behold. It’s big, weighty thing, with a push button which releases the spring-loaded lid. I just love it, and it looks incredible. There’s no doubt about it, this palette is all about celebrating the best of Urban Decay!

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Inside there are 20 shades (to celebrate 20 years of the brand), some new, some classic, and some re-releases, as well as a double ended brush, and a huge mirror. At first I was a little daunted by the shades selection – there are some true jewel colours in there – particularly ones like Acid Rain and Asphyxia which are just breathtaking. But there is also a great selection of neutrals in there too! Perfect for using on a more regular basis.

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The beauty of XX Vice Reloaded is in it’s adaptability. Day looks revolve around the colours Suspend, Shallow and Midnight Cowboy. They’re a mix of matte and satin finish shades, which provide a subtle wash of definition without looking too dramatic.

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In the evenings, I’ve been smoking everything out with shades like Oil Slick, Smog, and Twice Baked. As we’ve come to expect from the brand, Urban Decay’s XX Vice Reloaded’s shadows are buttery smooth and apply like a dream. I’ve noticed that the matte shades do seem to have the very best colour payoff, whilst the shimmers and glitters are a touch sheerer, so when I want a really vivid look, I apply using a dampened brush.

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Like most of the brand’s palette, this one comes with a double-ended brush which is surprisingly useful. I just love that Urban Decay include real tools in their kits, rather than the usual sponge applicators which I throw out immediately!

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Since both ends have quite long and fluffy bristles, it’s a good tool for creating subtle blended looks – and what more can I ask for in the mornings?!

Urban Decay XX Vice Reloaded is priced at £43 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

Real Techniques Ultimate Base Set*

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I’m a big believer in getting your base right, and then everything else will follow. It’s true in most things, but especially in makeup. Start off with a streaky or blotchy base, and there’s no way your makeup is going to look right! So, with that in mind, Real Techniques have released a limited edition Ultimate Base Set.

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The set contains the trio of tools necessary for perfecting your base – the much loved miracle complexion sponge, expert face brush and a deluxe concealer brush.

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I’ve never tried a Real Techniques sponge before, and I’m not really too sure why. It feels soft and firm to the touch, and it expands when damp, feeling a little springier than when dry. It applies foundation smoothly, leaving me with a medium coverage, and it doesn’t soak up too much product either!

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To be honest, I was a little apprehensive before using the Expert Face Brush. It’s described as extra firm, and I’m never really a foundation-brush fan. Usually it takes me an age to buff foundations in using the regular ones, but this one has completely changed my mind! Super soft acrylic bristles don’t soak up my foundations, and I only need a pump or two each morning. The brush doesn’t leave any sort of brush marks in my makeup, and leaves me with the perfect level of natural-looking coverage.

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Last up is the Deluxe Concealer Brush – another tool I had no idea I needed! At the moment, I’m pretty lucky in the fact I’m only wearing Diorskin Star concealer under my eyes (review here) I’ve upped my green tea consumption, and I’m sure it’s made a difference to my skin! So, after applying a light base, I paint on the concealer-triangle under my eyes, then use the Deluxe Concealer Brush to buff everything in. It feels so soft, and doesn’t pull or tug on my delicate eye area. Instead, it just erases dark circles, leaving me ready for a dusting of bronzer and a slick of liner and mascara and I’m good to go!

Real Techniques Ultimate Base Set is priced at £20.99 and is available here (UK) and similar here (US)