Apothem Labs Day Drops*

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When it comes to new health trends, I’m not sure many have been as widely adopted as the new enthusiasm for CBD in a range of products. I’ve tried serums, face masks and creams with the stuff, so when I got invited to a breakfast with luxury brand Apothem Labs at Harvey Nichols, I absolutely jumped at the chance. Rather than the kind of crunchy image CBD can have, Apothem have it down to a science.

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Harnessing the power of CBD oil alongside pure botanicals, Apothem’s products are designed to perform effectively as possible whilst also being an absolute joy to use. Their Day Drops are designed to keep you calm throughout the day – each morning I drop 5-6 drops under my tongue (where it’s easiest for it to absorb, and keep them there for about a minute), and during busy days, I use another couple of drops around midday. Even though the drops are ‘Day’ ones, they don’t contain caffeine or any stimulants, so you can even use these in the evenings, if you need a little help to relax and unwind.

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With pure CBD oil, like the type used by Apothem, you don’t get high or giddy. Instead, they just seem to keep me calm. On days when work is getting super busy or I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed, these drops help me take a breath, and tackle everything on my to-do list.

Apothem Labs Day Drops are priced at £85 and are available here.

Fenty Beauty PRO Filt’R Hydrating Foundation*

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When it comes to base products, I’m seriously picky. On a daily basis, like to look as natural as possible. You’ll not find me playing about with contouring, baking or strobing (or whatever new instagram idea is currently trending). Instead, I tend to find product I like, then stick to them. When Fenty launched a few years back, it revolutionised the beauty industry thanks to it’s range of 40 shades of foundation. No matter what your skin tone, chances are, Fenty’s got your shade.

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As if having a seriously wide range of skin tones on offer, Fenty have released their Pro FILT’R Hydrating Foundation – a lighter take on the original which promises to provide hydrating, medium to full coverage for all skin tones. For someone like me, who’s skin skews to dry on an almost daily basis, it sounded like the perfect solution. My only concern was that it might be a touch heavy. Fenty Beauty looks aren’t exactly known for their subtly (hello blue lipstick), but I couldn’t resist having a go!

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Mixing one pump of the PRO FILT’R Hydrating foundation with a pump of the Pro Filt’r Hydrating Primer creates the perfect base for days when I want to look and feel a little more done. It’s definitely a higher level of coverage than my regular tinted moisturiser or skin tint, but it doesn’t look heavy or caked on. Instead it smoothes onto skin, neutralising redness and covering imperfections. I’ve been using a damp Beauty Blender to apply, and I’ve been loving the results. The finish is naturally luminous, and no matter what I’ve been getting up to during the day, it looks the same in the evening as it did in the morning. It’s super comfortable to wear too – even areas which tend to dry out, usually around my nose and mouth, stay feeling hydrated, and looking freshly applied.

Fenty PRO FILT’R Hydrating foundation is priced at £27 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

Pixi Skin Treats Overnight Retinol Oil

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When it comes to skincare in your (early) 30’s, one ingredient pops up time and time again – retinol. A form of Vitamin A, the experts say that it promotes skin renewal and enhances collagen production – i.e. everything you want the moment you leave your twenties, but you have to be careful. Use a formula that’s too harsh, or use too much, and skin can be left red, irritated or even peeling. Since my skin can be reactive at the best of times, I’ve tiptoed around using retinol, but around Christmas I couldn’t resist treating myself to a few Pixi Skincare bits – and grabbed their Overnight Retinol Oil among other bits.

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I’d heard great things about it previously, but honestly, it was a pretty spontaneous purchase. I use an oil nightly, so swapped in Pixi’s Overnight Retinol Oil when my other one ran out. It’s a beautifully light oil, which smoothes onto skin without feeling too heavy or greasy. On nights when I need a little extra moisture, I just add a nourishing balm on top.

Pixi’s Overnight Retinol Oil doesn’t have a noticeable scent and it won’t overwhelm skin. Instead you wake up with skin which looks clear and bright. It’s perfect for combatting late nights – and on evenings where my skin needs a little extra TLC, I’ll use Pixi’s Retinol Tonic before applying the Overnight Oil too!

Pixi Overnight Retinol Oil is priced at £26 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

Trying BrewDog Edinburgh’s Vegan Chickn Wings with Temple of Seitan*

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Edinburgh’s Lothian Road BrewDog location has been on my must-try list for a while. Whenever you zoom past, it’s always absolutely packed, and on dark nights, the neon and the crowds always looks like a good evening guaranteed. So, last week, on possibly Scotland’s rainiest night, we headed over to try out the new partnership between BrewDog and Temple of Seitan (one of London’s hottest vegan fast food spots).

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Despite the grim weather, the Lothian Road branch was absolutely buzzing with people – there were groups of post-work drinking buddings, hen parties, friends and dates all nestled in cozy booths and shared tables.

As we waited for our booth to clear, it was the perfect excuse to explore a little – I had no idea that the restaurant was so big, and that the brand even sell merch and beers to go. Perfect for those hard-to-please foodies!

BrewDog Lothian Road is also completely dog friendly – so we got make friends at the bar!

Since we were absolutely starving, we couldn’t resist sharing a platter of Temple of Seitan chick’n wings, which came smothered in a hot sauce & syrup glaze with a vegan mayo dip. I’d never tried seitan before, and it’s probably the closest to chicken meat alternative that I’ve tried. Rather than feeling bouncy like tofu can, seitan is made from gluten, and has a denser texture which really does feel quite meaty. As someone who doesn’t like to fiddle around with bones, the seitan is the perfect alternative!

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As well as platters of delicious wings, BrewDog is serving up a number of Temple of Seitan burgers. I went for the Clucky this Time (£10) with southern fried seitan, avocado, red onion, cajun mayo & coriander in a sesame and poppy seeded brioche bun.

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The perfect mix of spicy and flavourful, this was one of those dishes which you would swear blind had meat in it. I loved the creamy slices of avocado as well as the punchy mayo, and beetroot brioche bun.

We also ordered a portion of macaroni ‘n’ cheese (£4.50) and I opted to enjoy Sweet Potato fries which were delish!

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In the interests of science, we ordered a Cluck Norris (£10.50). Piled high with buttermilk fried chicken, avocado, red onion, cajun mayo & coriander in a sesame and poppy seeded brioche bun, it was an equally delicious. The generous mound of chicken was super crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside.

The partnership between BrewDog and Temple of Seitan feels pitch-perfect, and if you’re in the mood for some vegan fast food in Edinburgh City Centre – you know where to go!

The Insider’s Guide to Edinburgh*

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When it comes to visiting a city like Edinburgh, it’s all too easy to get distracted by the idea of tartan and castles, and miss out the capital’s real gems. From some of the country’s best hotels, to restaurants and even some of my favourite salons and spas – there’s always somewhere to add to your ‘must-visit’ list!

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First up, if you’re not a local, your first job is to find your favourite out of the many hotels in Edinburgh city centre. If you’re only staying a night or two, I’m always a fan of enjoying a little luxury, and Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel is one of the city’s finest. Originally built as a luxurious base for rail travellers, the hotel’s iconic clock keeps visitors and locals alike on time day and night, thanks to it being set 5 minutes fast so travellers don’t miss their trains (apart from New Year’s Eve when it’s bang on). The building’s exterior is absolutely glorious, and you can’t miss it when you’re exploring the city.

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With 187 rooms to choose from, guests can bring furry family along for the fun, as the hotel has a number of pet friendly options, and General Manager brings along his own dog, Lucy, who sometimes makes appearances in the Lobby.

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Not only does The Balmoral take the crown for Edinburgh’s most central location, but it might just be the foodiest spot to enjoy too! Home to Number One – which has held a Michelin Star for nearly 20 years, it’s a must-visit for those celebrating a special occasion (or who just fancy enjoying some top tier cuisine). If you’re after something a little more relaxed, Brasserie Prince is also a fantastic option, with fine French dishes served up daily.

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Just a short walk up to St Andrew Square, you’ll find my new favourite daytime spot – Lady Libertine. A spot with a bit of a split personality, during the day it feels like something out of Mad Men, with original dark wood panelling, sumptuous velvet booths and swathes of marble. They serve up some of the city’s best coffees, and it’s the perfect meeting spot, as you can sit and chat away for an hour or two without feeling too rushed or hurried. Once night hits, the space transforms into a bit of a speakeasy, with sharing plates to savour and a downstairs space which plays host to DJs on selected nights.

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Like most, I’m trying to incorporate a little more self-care into my weekly and monthly routines, which is where Zen Lifestyle comes in. With two locations in Edinburgh (Hanover Street is the most centrally located, whilst the Bruntsfield location is perfect for those exploring a little further out) Zen Lifestyle has become a bit of a go-to. Mixing relaxation with medical-grade treatments, a trip to Zen will leave you looking and feeling your very best. My most-booked treatment is the Diamondtome Facial – an incredibly effective exfoliation treatment which has absolutely transformed my skin in the year or so that I’ve been enjoying treatments. With no irritation or downtime, it’s perfect if you’ve got sensitive or reactive skin, but still want that natural glow. I love how easy it is to customise your treatments too – you can add massages or red-light therapy treatments onto facials, which leave you positively floating out the salon!

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If you’re in need of a bit of a nail-refresh when you’re visiting Edinburgh, Buff CS is a must-visit! Perched up on East Market Street, the salon is a converted railway arch, and it brings a whole lot of Skandi-cool to the capital. Whether you’re after detailed nail art, or a simple manicure, it’s the top spot to try.  I’ve been a regular for a good few years now, and I can’t believe the difference that having a regular manicure has made to my nails, not to mention that I’m in love with their curated selection of products – if you’re in the market for some very cool, hard to find L:A Bruket, this is the spot to pick it up.

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If you’re after a dose of culture during your trip, head to The Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood Palace. Smaller, and often quieter than the National Galleries (which are definitely worth a trip) it’s part of the Royal Collection, and often hosts some really marvellous exhibitions. Currently showing Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, which marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, you can often see less well known pieces, which is always such a thrill. The exhibitions change regularly, and include everything from old master paintings, rare furniture, decorative arts to photography.

The spending money used for this post was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

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