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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A Pipdig Makeover.

If you're a regular round these parts, then you might have noticed something a little different on Monday. Yes, LydiaLulu has had a much needed overhaul. A movie montage makeover a la Tai in Clueless if you will. Except for the part where Cher and Dionne eradicate her identity and turn her into a clone of the stereotypical High School 'popular kid'. Imagine if Tai had had her makeover and stayed true to her grunge music side - that's what I imagined when my new blog design went live on Monday. And sorry if the Clueless reference was lost on you, use it as inspiration to watch one of the greatest chick flicks of all time.
I'd been feeling a bit 'meh' about my blog for quite some time. Of course content comes first when it comes to writing a blog, but it's easy to underestimate the importance of a good design. I just feel like I outgrew my last one. LydiaLulu started as a 'bit of everything' kind of blog but it naturally progressed into something more beauty and fashion orientated. I wanted a design that reflected my new direction, a bit of my personality, while also remaining easy to navigate. 
Pipdig designs have been popping up all over the bloggersphere the past few months. So naturally when I made the decision to invest in a new design, they were my first port of call. From their testimonial page, I had a stalk of some the bloggers who have worked with them and was quickly sold. Their beautiful designs spoke for themselves and I didn't take much convincing! I filled out my wishlist, sent an email to ask about the waiting time , and Phil, Pipdig's Creative Director, got back to me within half an hour and answered all my queries. Safe to say, I secured my spot on their Waiting List a couple days later. Simply because their designs are so stylish and the Pipdig banner appears on most blogs I visit these days, there was a six week wait before things could get started. It meant I had to reign in the excitement and focus on exactly what I wanted out the design. I started to engage more with the bloggersphere as I explored what I really liked in other blogger's templates.

Before:

 After:

It's quite a change, right? I love the trademark Pipdig navigation bar that follows you down the page and clearly separates my posts into categories (of course it was always going to be pink).  My Instagram feed is also at the top of the home page but relocates to the bottom when you click on a post which makes for a convenient way of including my social media into more aspects of my blog. Plus, the integration of my Pinterest feed has inspired me to get pinning again. If you follow me on Twitter, then you may have noticed that I've been a hell of a lot more active the past couple of weeks. I never really 'got' Twitter before - I thought it was all just glorified Facebook statuses. I found it all a little intimidating but forced myself face my fears this month. And now I understand the craze, Twitter is addictive! As a beauty/fashion blogger, I'm really kicking myself for not using it properly before - I've discovered so many wonderful blogs in such a short space of time and Twitter chats are so lovely and chilled. I've fast become an addict, constantly checking for updates, so I asked Phil to incorporate my feed into the design just so readers can see what I'm up to on an everyday basis ... usually it's to do with beauty (obvs), Pop Tarts, or cats.
Most importantly, things are just looking more swish and organised - for a neat-freak like me, this really is the dream. You can also read LydiaLulu on the go via a rather cool mobile-browsing feature or subscribe to a mailing list and get a notification every I time I publish a post. Pretty cool, huh?
Other than just rambling about how much I love my new design, I really wanted to write this post to thank Phil from Pipdig - he's done such a great job and I so appreciate all the hard work he put into turning LydiaLulu into exactly what I envisioned. And for just generally putting up with me and my waffly, technophobe emails. If you're ever in need of a redesign, he's your guy.
With my sparkling new template and a four month Summer break looming on the horizon (after I hand in my five final essays of course), I have some really exciting things lined up for LydiaLulu including a couple of new series and maybe even some videos. This redesign has left me feeling incredibly inspired and excited for the future of my little blog which started off as a pass-time and fast become my passion.

P. S. How cute is the signature?
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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Drugstore Haulin'.

Okay, so 'drugstore' may be the American term but it made for a snappier title than 'I Spent Too Much in Boots'. I have a gift for finding beauty related purchases I didn't even know I needed whenever I'm in Boots and/or Superdrug. As they're technically pharmacies, something within me can convince myself that I really need that new liquid eyeliner because I'm not perusing the isles of a beauty hall. It's so much more tempting to pop that latest release in your basket alongside your everyday necessities. I tend to have my guard up when I'm at the high-end counters, only indulging in what I really want need.

Like I said, I have a gift. I was in the city centre with a friend who was anxious to get back to work -oh the joys of exam season - and was in Boots for less than ten minutes. I only went in for dry shampoo and came out with a new cleanser, shampoo and conditioner, a liquid eyeliner, a compact powder, and a 'Real Techniques' eyeshadow brush (not pictured here - mainly because I forgot but also because I'm planning on writing a review in coming weeks haha). Phew.
I've been using the L'Oreal Crystal Nutri-Gloss range on and off for a few years now. In all honesty, it's not quite up there with Aussie in terms of making my hair feel super soft and smell delicious but it does the job. And because I'm just that superficial, I don't take much convincing when it comes to buying glittery shampoo - just sayin'. These were on special offer so I picked up one shampoo and two conditions just because I have a tendency to use half a bottle in one go when I get overexcited and want to treat my locks. 3 for 2 in Boots, keep your eyes peeled.
I've been trying to shake up the skincare routine of late. The Body Shop's Cleansing Oil has served me well the past year but it's got to the point where my skin is so used to this product that it doesn't have an effect on it anymore. I wrote about my beloved Sephora Cleansing Wipes and how I finished my last pack at the start of this month and so I was very much in the market for something new. I'd noticed the Garnier Miceller Cleansing Water on my sister's dressing table over Easter and was intrigued. Pair my curiosity with a reduced price tag of £3 and I was sold. I've only been using it for a couple of days but I looove this product. It effortlessly melts away my make-up without irritating my skin and leaves it feeling refreshed. I've personally used another cleanser after this step just to get every ounce of grime off my face - I'm an obsessive cleanser, it's a problem. I can see this Cleansing Water becoming a staple in my nightly routine.
My local Boots at home doesn't have a Soap & Glory counter so it's only natural that I get a little excited when I found a brilliant one here in Southampton. I'm a liquid eyeliner girl at heart but have lacking a good liner for quite some time. Don't get me started on the Benefit 'They're Real' Push Up Liner, that was one hyped-up product which did nothing for me. At just £6 and with some big blogging names singing its praises, how could I resist the Soap & Glory Supercat liner? It'll be put to the test tomorrow for my full day of uni. I promise to report back on this one.
I stand by the fact that this could be considered a necessary purchase - I hit the pan of my Bourjois Healthy Balance Powder last week and had been meaning to pick up another one. I can't rave about this powder enough - in fact, I already did in my 'The Beauty Blogger Made Me Buy It' post. It's sets foundation perfectly without making things look 'cakey', i.e. my greatest beauty pet peeve. The shade 'Vanilla' fits me perfectly, this is a product that ticks all the boxes and has a drugstore price tag.
Which takes me neatly to my final purchase - the one I actually ventured into Boots for. Dry shampoo isn't the most exciting purchase but it's a necessity for me. I was a little bit heartbroken that this super duper branch of Boots doesn't stock the COLAB dry shampoo - a quick Google search later and I think it's exclusive to Superdrug. Sigh. But as I'm such a big Aussie fan, I thought why not give their latest addition a go? As far as first impressions go, the Miracle Mega Instant Dry Shampoo smells amazing. An almost tropical scent, that I can't quite put my finger on - subtle and not too overbearing means this gets a big thumbs up from me. It has combated my greasy roots pretty well but it's left that horrible mattifying texture to my hair that just leaves it feeling more dirty than to start with. Some women love a bit of texture, but for me, there's nothing worse than running your fingers through stiff, almost powdery hair. Yuck. Looks like I'll be making special trips to Superdrug to stock up on the COLAB goodness.
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Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Naked 3 Palette : All The Rose Golds.

Last week I ventured into the unknown and bought a Naked palette. I've said it a million times but I'll say it again, I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to eyeshadow. I know, I know - I've been doing this beauty blogging thing for almost a year now but we all have our quirks, right? Again, I put it down to a couple electric-blue eyelid disasters during my early teens. What can I say, the experience scarred me.
It was all the time spent on the bloggersphere that did it - I'd spent my YouTube time admiring the eyeshadow of some of my favourite bloggers and made the conscious decision to give it a go. After all, it's been over five years since I tried a bit of colour on the lids - it was time for a change! I wrote a rave review of the 'By Terry' Ombre Black Star cream eyeshadows last month and I can't recommend the wonderful formula and range of colours enough. But every beauty blogger worth her salt should own a Naked palette... or at least that's how I justified this purchase to myself!

Like with every slightly pricier beauty purchase (see my Charlotte Tilbury Haul and Perfume Splurge posts for details), I did my research way ahead of time. At first I had my heart set on the original Naked palette simply because it's such a classic and includes all the basic shades a girl could want. But then I saw the latest addition to the Naked range in a Lily Pebbles video and knew it was the one. The pinks, the rosy golds, and classic smokier shades - the Naked 3 palette has everything I wanted in an eyeshadow palette. I happily handed over my £38 and started experimenting almost immediately.
Naturally the pinks and golds have had the most wear the past week - partially because the weathers just been so darn beautiful and it warranted summery make-up and because I'm attracted to all things pink. They're such lovely matte shades and even the pigment of the glitter-based colours are very subtle, which makes them a winner in my books. Nothing intimates me more than overly-dramatic eyelids - eek. The lightest shade, a pinky white shade called 'Strange' is wonderfully brightening in the corner of the eyelid whereas a sweep of 'Limit' mixed with 'Nooner' just wakes me eyes up... if that makes any sense at all ha.
Unfortunately, I have been pretty disappointed with the staying power. Unless I seriously layer up the colour - which warrants my fear of over-dramatic eyelids! - the product is almost entirely gone by the time I get back from uni in the afternoon. It's a real shame because I love these lighter shades and their subtle pop of colour.

The darker shades, on the other hand, survive the wear and tear of a night out and refuse to budge - it's seriously impressive. Must be something about the pigmentation, it's just a shame they're not really colours I'd wear on an everyday basis.
Looks like I'll be purchasing a eyeshadow primer to make my favourite shades last which isn't ideal. But to get my money's worth out of this palette, looks like it'll have to be done. Sigh, the NARS primer is going on the shopping list. Personally, this palette is not quite on the same level as the 'By Terry' Ombre Black Stars but its a start in my growing collection. I'll report back on this one.
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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

It's a Love Story, Baby, Just Say Yes.

It's not often I get to quote a classic Taylor Swift song in a post's title, so I jump at the chance when the opportunity arises. Naturally.
Today I indulged big time. But it was worth it - I've been obsessing over Chloé's 'Love Story'  since I unknowingly smelt a tester in a magazine a couple months ago. It smells like love, not kidding. It's a gorgeous mixture of orange blossom and jasmine with undertones of cedarwood. (Of course I had to look that up, there's no way I'd be able to figure all that out from one spritz..!) For me, it's the perfect sweet-smelling floral scent. It's just what I've been looking for since I grew tired of my weary, unexciting everyday perfume. A girl's got to switch things up every so often and perfume is the ideal starting point.
At this time of year, when Summer's just starting to tease us with its arrival, I don't like wearing a heavy, overpowering scent. You want something light and fresh, which is why I had to resist Tom Ford's 'Velvet Orchid'. Again, it's been on the wishlist for months but I left it too late. It's Rum and Honey notes just didn't feel Spring-appropriate.
Which is where 'Love Story' comes in. Like I said, I first discovered this scent in a magazine and fell fast and hard. My relationship with this perfume really does feel like a love story in itself. We met through a magazine, I sought it out at my local beauty hall, I kept going back every so often for a test, before taking the big step today. I really did court this perfume which made it all the more worth it when finally indulged.
What really tipped it for me was the lasting power - I'd spray this during a casual shopping trip and it would still be going strong by the end of the day. In all my years of impulsively buying perfume, I don't think I've ever had one with such great longevity. As much as I've loved 'Daisy Dream' the past year, it's so light a fragrance that it fades before you've even walked out the door. You wouldn't expect it from the elegant packing and peach-coloured liquid but 'Love Story' certainly packs a punch. Well, an uber-girly punch - but hey, that suits me!
On a slightly more superficial note, I adore the packaging of this sweet little scent. The bottle has been designed to resemble a lock like those left on the Pont Des Arts 'Love' Bridge in Paris. A romantic idea, right? To be perfectly honest , it's very easy to sell me a product when it looks this cute sitting on my shelf! I resisted the 75ml bottle just in case it turned into a short-term romance and went for the 50ml which is currently on offer in John Lewis - looks like it was meant to be.
The search is over - the signature scent's been found! It's a Love Story, baby, just say yes.
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Monday, 20 April 2015

10 Student Blogging Benefits.

This time last month I was feeling seriously guilty. My final week of the Spring term had filled up with work and birthdays and general uni stuff and blogging had taken a serious back seat. So naturally when I got home, I caught up with everything the only way I knew how - by blogging it. The post, '10 Problems All Student Bloggers Will Understand', was a really fun and cathartic post to write just because a lot of the 'problems' I encountered seemed really solvable once I'd written them down. Note to self: bulk buy batteries on special offer and take photos before you leave for lectures in the morning. Done!
Now that I'm back at uni and in my final weeks of First Year (Eeek!), I got to thinking... there are a lot of upsides to being a Student Blogger. Here are my Top Ten Benefits:

1. FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE

University life isn't like being at school or having a full time job. Most students have a flexible schedule which is seriously handy when you're feeling inspired. Usually, I tend to write blog posts when I'm in a 'writing mood' - if I try and force it, everything comes out kinda odd sounding and you can absolutely tell that I'm rushing through a post. As an English Literature student, I have the luxury of structuring my day around when I'm feeling inspired to write as long as I still get my work done. Generally speaking, I function best when I work in the morning and blog in the afternoon/evening - it means I get to take my time knowing I've done all the necessary uni reading.


2. ONLY BUYING THE PRODUCTS YOU REALLY WANT

Being strapped for cash is a blessing in disguise. Hear me out on this one! When you simply don't have the funds to go grab every latest beauty release or the latest must-have dress in Topshop, it makes you want it more, right? But you learn to prioritise this way. If you're still lusting after that lipstick a couple months later (and the blogger's hype has died down a bit) then it might be something worth saving up for.


3. STRUCTURE

I don't know about you, but I'm the kind of person who needs structure. If I don't have anything to do in the morning, chances are I won't get out of the bed. Sad but true! But if I have blog posts to write that day, I tend to be way more motivated and productive. Who said blogging was a distraction?


4. BECOMING SPENDING SAVVY

As a beauty blogger, I'm pretty good at knowing where to save and where to splurge. It seems like I spend all my time reading reviews of drugstore and high-end products so I can spend my money wisely. I can't imagine how much the bloggersphere has saved me the past year.


5. A LITTLE INTERNET ESCAPE TO CALL YOUR OWN

I've said it a million times but LydiaLulu is my creative outlet. I technically do a degree in reading and writing essays. So sometimes it's nice to write about my favourite nail polish and not worry about whether it'll get me a first. Who cares if people think it's superficial? As my life guru, Taylor Swift would say, 'haters gonna hate, hate, hate.'

6. BLOGGING AND STUDYING

I've loved all things beauty and fashion for as long as I've loved Literature. Between my blog and my degree, it's a tie. Blogging at university allows me to pursue my two greatest loves at the same time. #winning


7. IMPROVES WRITING

Blogging has made me a better writer. Simple as. If you're writing even the shortest posts nearly everyday, your writing style will naturally improve. You become more confident and your voice shines through... at least I like to think so! I personally find it really hard to write an essay if I've been out of practice for a while. Creating content for LydiaLulu (despite the vast differences in subject matter!) has helped me perfect my writing style.


8. CREATE MORE ORIGINAL CONTENT

Another upside to being broke. This 'problem' featured in my '10 Problems All Student Bloggers Will Understand' post but it's definitely a double-sided one. Yes, we all struggle with inspiration sometimes, especially when you can't afford to do a foolproof Boots Haul. Sigh.
You sort through the depths of your make-up bag looking for something - anything - to write about. You're just about ready to bang your head against the wall and call it a day. For me, these moments are as frustrating as they are integral to the creative process. They challenge you to think of fresh ideas and create original content because you can't depend on your latest purchases, etc. I have an exciting new series coming up in the next few months which I popped into my head when I was scrolling through my Bloglovin' feed. Inspiration tends to strike when you're not desperately trying to think of ideas - reading other people's blogs never fails to inspire me.


9. PERMANENCE OF BLOGGING

My degree is incredibly essay-based, you've only just finished piece of writing when you're already thinking ahead to the next. Once it's done and marked, the last essay is pretty much forgotten about. Which is why I love blogging. Old posts are always there if you're ever in need of a read - or a chuckle in my case, I often wonder what I was thinking in those early days. There's a comforting permanence to blogging... a point that's not exclusive to students, obvs.


10. THE LITTLE MILESTONES

The satisfaction of a post being well received or hitting a milestone number of page visits/followers feels like getting a first. A first in blogging! Of course it's not all about the numbers but a milestone is a milestone. It reassures you that you're doing something right. Blogging while you're a student isn't easy, there's a lot to balance. But these moments make those late nights seem all the more worth it.

See? I'm not all moan and groan. I've got some really exciting things lined up over the next few weeks for my little corner of the internet. Hey, being a student blogger has its benefits...
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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Yet Another Nails Inc Post.

I did again. I gave into the temptation again. I should not be allowed near a Nails Inc when my bank balance is already feeling the pinch of my many many beauty-related purchases this month (see here for details).
But did I realistically stand a chance against the Selfridges concession? I set myself up for failure with that one. Hey, despite my inadequacy as a responsible young adult (you win some, you lose some) I walked away with a really rather lovely new edition to my growing Nails Inc collection. #sorrynotsorry. 
Duke Street is one of those perfect Spring shades - it's so understated and pretty. And in the process of writing this blog post, I also noticed that it's near-impossible to describe. It's a grey-y, purple-y, blue-y, white-ish shade. I can't quite make up my mind - I see a different colour every time I look down at my nails! The Nails Inc website describes it as 'Smoked Lilac' which is probably as close as you can get to pinning it down. However you chose to describe it, Duke Street is right up my street. See what I did there? Ha.
As its part of the NailKale collection, not only is Duke Street wonderfully pretty, it's perfecting too. The range claims to 'strengthen' and 'harden' the nails and its the formula makes this a stand-out varnish. My everyday clumsiness tests nail polishes to the extreme and NailKale tends to endure it pretty well. Like I wrote a mere month ago when I picked up Abbey Road, I don't really buy into the idea that nail polish is good for the wellbeing of your cuticles. Nails Inc claim that this range is 'deeply nourishing' which I find hard to believe - covering your nails in a distinctly flammable and toxic substance isn't going to do them any good. Of course, some are worse than others but if you truly care about nourishing your nail-beds then don't paint them! Easy.

In all honesty, I love the formula. It's so durable and my nails do feel stronger and less vulnerable to breaking. The great thing about Nails Inc is that they combine a unique offering of shades with cutting-edge formulas. The sight of a concession never fails to make me swoon. I'll always be an Essie girl at heart but Nails Inc are bringing it at the moment. Looks like I'll have to keep investing in my nail polish addiction. Sigh...
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Friday, 17 April 2015

Amazing Grace... How Sweet the Lipstick.

So as regular readers of LydiaLulu will already know, I went a bit nuts at the Charlotte Tilbury counter this week (haul post here) and came away with all sorts of goodies. The most typical Lydia purchase of all? The 'Amazing Grace' lipstick of course. For one, it's pink - we all know I can't resist anything pink these days, especially if it's in lipstick form. It deserves all the praise, I'm now a Charlotte Tilbury convert.
Before this Charlotte Tilbury indulgence, my heart belonged to my beloved NARS lip pencils. Their lasting power and wonderful range of colours was like nothing I had ever seen in a lip product. Four months later and I have four of these beauties. They're my go-to product when my make-up is looking a bit lack-lustre.
But 'Amazing Grace' has shaken my beauty regime up these past few days. It's part of the Matte Revolution range which means it aims to do more or less the same as the NARS Velvet Matte finishes. Although I still swear by the NARS pencils, I do find the Matte editions particularly drying so I was naturally curious to try the Charlotte Tilbury equivalent. 
First off, the colour. Just look at it. It's an amazing rosy shade of pink. Not too red, not too pink. It's like nothing I've ever owned before. Typically, I'm drawn to the less-than-coventional shades of lipsticks which I buy in excess and never actually wear. Whoops. That's why 'Amazing Grace' was such a savvy buy for me. After all, it's named after Silver Screen Siren Grace Kelly - and who doesn't want lips like a Old Hollywood Movie Star? Just sayin'. I'd say that 'Amazing Grace' is the leather jacket of a make-up collection - something that every woman needs to spice up her everyday make-up. 
My one fear with lipsticks is looking too 'dolled up'. When I first got into make-up as a teen, I shied away from the stuff - except when I thought it was a good idea to wear a burgundy red one day to Sixth Form and spent the whole time stressing about getting it on my teeth and obsessively re-applying. Those were the days. That's why everyday lipstick is so difficult to get right. I want something pretty and effortless without having to worry about it throughout the day. I feel like I've found 'The One' in 'Amazing Grace'.
My favourite thing about this lipstick (besides the gorgeous rose-gold packaging) is that it's incredibly moisturising despite its matte finish. It's creamy and applies like a dream - just what you'd want from a slightly higher end purchase. For me, that's what makes it slightly superior to the NARS pencils. It doesn't have quite the same longevity, as touch-ups are required after a meal or even a cup of coffee. But I'd much prefer to reapply my lipstick than go about my day with dry lips. No? 
There's nothing else to say. It's love. I can see myself wearing this lipstick all Summer long. Well until the amazing nude pink, 'Miss Kensington', is released in June that is! The Matte Revolution collection are just that good. Promise.
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Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Peak Inside My Jewellery Box.

Just looking at the photo below, you can tell I have a pretty specific taste when it comes to jewellery. If it's silver and dainty, then chances are I'll love it.
When it comes to my wardrobe, I'm the first to admit that I'm as avid a shopper as I am a Spring-cleaner. I'm always welcoming in the new and chucking away the old... or else I wouldn't be able to close my chest of drawers. But with jewellery, I'm the polar opposite. My collection is very limited but I love having my everyday pieces that have almost come to define me. I wear them day-in, day-out. And it's not just because they're pretty and go with absolutely anything in my wardrobe (although that certainly makes life easier) each item holds such personal resonance which never fails to make me smile and start reminiscing.
With the exception of just one, each piece of jewellery was given to me as a birthday present over the years. My Pandora birthstone ring was a seventeeth birthday present from one of my best friends who I've known practically all my life. The stone is near impossible to describe but it's a light pink marbly shade which goes with absolutely any nail polish - a definite bonus for a nail polish Queen like me.
My watch was a gift from my maternal grandparents for my eighteen birthday two years ago. Getting a watch for your 18th is a bit of a tradition in our family, it's our classic coming-of-age present. I chose this Seiko one (similar here) because it's feminine and pretty yet also timeless. Embellishment on a watch tends to have a bit of a Marmite effect on people and before I found this one I was definitely on the opposing team. But when done tastefully, it can make your watch resemble a piece of jewellery *inserts millions of emoji hearts here*
My necklace and bracelet, again, were eighteenth birthday presents. Having spent my teenage years experimenting with bold statement necklaces and cheap high street brands (that would snap after two wears and break my little teenage heart), I set my heart on this Tiffany's design just in time to turn eighteen. It's the prettiest, daintiest, sweetest necklace - I wanted to say that I fall in love with it again each time I wear it, but truth is, it never comes off. It's now an extension of my being! What makes this necklace even more special is that it has my initials engraved onto one of the hearts to make it that bit more personal. I love it.
My grandparents bought me this Dinny Hall bracelet around the same time and I'd say it's very typically Lydia. Girly, dainty, silver, and all that. If anything, this bracelet is a little too dainty and I've had many a drama with broken clasps and it slipping off my already tiny wrists. I absolutely love this bracelet and would wear it everyday if I could, but nowadays I reserve it for special occasions. If anything, I suppose that makes it even more special. Can you tell I'm trying to find the bright side here? Ha.
And last but not least, my Pandora bow ring. To cut a long story short, I was feeling pretty down last December and indulged in some retail therapy. At the time, buying myself something pretty (that didn't break the bank either) acted as a nice little pick-me-up one afternoon. But now when I look down at it, I'm reminded of how far I've come since that all happened and how much happier I am for it. What can I say? A ring can speak a thousand words...
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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Semi-Accidental Charlotte Tilbury Haul.


If you follow me on Instagram, I can only apologise. Today I ventured into central London with my favourite shopping pal (i.e. my wonderful mother) and spent the whole day spamming my feed with beauty finds. Oh and the Liberty's flowers of course #sorrynotsorry.
But the main attraction was always going to be the Charlotte Tilbury counter at Selfridges. Oh my god, it's all kinds of beautiful. Note to self: always visit Selfridges on a Tuesday afternoon, it's as quiet as that kind of beauty hall will ever be. I'd been planning this trip for quite some time, swotting up on my Charlotte Tilbury knowledge and seeking out all my favourite blogger's must-haves.

I can't even remember when I began obsessing over the 'FilmStar Bronze and Glow' palette, it's been that long. Let's just say I swooned when I finally got to try it out. I completely understand why this has been such a hit - the finely-milled powder is universally flattering and luxurious to apply. This may be a slightly shocking confession coming from a beauty blogger, but I've never worn bronzer. I've always shied away from the stuff, thinking it'll turn me that dreaded shade of orange. Equally, contouring has been similarly off limits. But seeing so many of my favourite bloggers rave about it over the last few months (this is a typical 'The Beauty Blogger Made Me Buy It' purchase) I thought, what better way to ease myself in?
So far the staying power's been great, it withstood a rather sweaty, humid tube ride home which is pretty impressive in itself. Gotta love a London heatwave. I anticipate that this is going to be one of my everyday, go-to products. It's so versatile and easy to use. Also, can we just talk about the packaging? Inspired by the cigarette cases of the 1920s, this oh-so-gorgeous sculpting duo comes in equally gorgeous rose-gold case. No wonder the bloggers go mad for it.


So having gone into the beauty hall with an agenda, after finding the 'FilmStar Bronze and Glow' that went completely out the window. Charlotte Tilbury's collection is just so beautiful, it's so easy to get lost. Next, I gravitated towards the lipsticks - naturally. I was instantly drawn to 'Amazing Grace', a pretty vintage pink rose colour. It's pretty much me in Lipstick form. The CT website describes it as a 'tea rose for pretty, polished perfection' which I'd say pretty much hits the nail on the head here. Due to their pigmented formula, the Matte Revolution lipsticks also create a 'lit-from-within' effect which are supposed to make your lips look fuller. So far, so good. I'll get back to you on this one. As a long-term lover of the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils, I'll be interested to see how 'Amazing Grace' compares. Colour-wise, nothing in the NARS selection springs to mind but they'll be a tough formula to beat. I think this Charlotte Tilbury lipstick is up for the challenge.


The next one was a bit of an unexpected purchase. Once again, shock horror, I've never used a product on my brows. I'm a general believer in leaving them to do their own thing. But when I was trying on the 'Bronze and Glow', the lovely make-up artist just whipped this on without me even realising and I seriously loved the results. What I have been doing the past eight years? I guess I've been scared off by some of my own friends' stenciled eyebrow disasters. But well defined, groomed brows can really transform your face. I love this product because it's such a multi-tasker - it's a pencil with a gel formula and wand on the other end and a mini-highlighter in the middle. Everything an eyebrow could want in one go. Simples. Because I'm an eyebrow pencil newbie, I'm going to have to take it easy with this one but the colour of the pencil is an absolute perfect match for me (another Grace Kelly inspired product here) and it seems like a pretty foolproof product.


My last purchase is probably the one I'm most excited to try. My love of Benefit's They're Real mascara is no secret round these parts. The only problem is that I get through the stuff so quickly, a tube only lasts me a couple of months at most. And the stuff isn't cheap. Although it's great when it comes to volumising and lengthening lashes, I've noticed recently just how drying the formula of 'They're Real' really is. It makes me want to pick at my eyelashes all day, something that seriously freaks both my Mum and my sister out. Ha. So for just an extra £4, I thought why not give the Charlotte Tilbury 'Full Fat Lashes' a try? This is a mascara that claims to separate, curl, and add volume, length, and drama. And achieve world peace while we're at it. One of the top selling points for me is that the application stays fresh, meaning you can top up your mascara throughout the day without that slightly gross crustiness that happens when drugstore brands dry out. If it does all it says on the tin, then my search for the perfect mascara is over. I have faith. 

My concluding thought? The Charlotte Tilbury counter is dangerous... yet so so worth it.
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Monday, 13 April 2015

YouTube Listens.

So I thought I'd do something a little different for today's post, a girl can only write about beauty and fashion so much until she's flat out of ideas. Not to worry though, I'm making a very exciting trip to the Selfridges beauty hall tomorrow - I consider it blogging inspiration which totally justifies spending all my money at the Charlotte Tilbury counter, right? Word of warning, I will be spamming my Instagram feed with all sorts of beauty goodies. *Insert heart eyes emoji here*.
Since starting LydiaLulu a little less than a year ago now, I've rediscovered YouTube in a whole new light. Don't get me wrong, I used the online video database just as much as the next person - but I never appreciated it like I do now. The Lydia of pre-June 2014 didn't even have an account (shock horror) and mainly used YouTube as a means of satisfying her need for cute cat videos... well that still happens now but let's just say I've discovered other channels along the way. With all my favourite beauty bloggers on YouTube these days, my subscription box has pretty much replaced television. Sad but true.
I'm the kind of person who always has music playing in the background. It's kind of crazy how important a role it plays in my life. It's like I need the mental stimulation - music helps me focus so I always have it playing when I'm blogging, writing essays, or whenever I'm in the university library (not going to lie, that isn't often...). I'm not sure exactly when it happened but I think at some point I just got bored of listening to the same old songs on my iPhone and started using YouTube as a platform for discovering new music. Here are my edited favourites which have been blasting out my laptop the past few weeks...

Dan Croll - In/Out
Kings Of Leon - Dancing On My Own
Lily Allen - Everybody's Changing
Norah Jones - Don't Know Why
Paramore - Last Hope
John Mayer - In Your Atmosphere
Ed Sheeran - Wonderwall
Jamie Cullum - High and Dry
Michelle Branch - Goodbye to You
Ella Henderson - The First Time

The sheer amount of live, acoustic covers of popular songs and unique original music available to stream is mind-boggling. I quite happily spend all my time getting lost in the depths of these musical wonders. Just hearing slightly different compilations of my favourite songs gives them a new lease of life. These live recordings and covers are just dreamy.
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Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Lazy Sunday Face.

Laid-back Spring Sundays are the best. The sun is shining, flowers are in bloom, and it feels like you have all the free time in the world to catch up on your YouTube subscriptions. Yes, life is good. Except when you wake up and realise that you've caught your little brother's cold and you just feel a bit 'bleurgh' - trust me, there's no other way to describe it. But hey, I still have another week left of my Easter holiday so I'm not going to let it get me down.

For me, the worst thing you can do when not feeling 100% is admit defeat. Instead, I've adapted my everyday make-up routine to something a little more Lazy-Sunday-friendly.
The Dior Nude Tan BB Cream is not a product I've always got on with. Colour wise, it's the strangest shade of orange and is really quite difficult to blend into the skin. It has a tendency to settle in the place you first apply it and then refuses to budge. I remember turning up to work an embarrassingly bright shade of orange and getting all sorts of strange looks from customers. I vowed never to use it again after that shift! What I've realised since is that a little really does go a long way, one pump can cover the whole face and it does give your complexion a nice subtle glow when you haven't over-applied. I'll definitely be working this BB Cream back into my Summer routine.
Benefit's They're Real mascara and Erase Paste are absolute no-brainers for me. I've been using these products for years and they've yet to let me down. On an otherwise light coverage day, I tend to make up for it with lashings of mascara. A little eyeliner in the waterline and a smudge of concealer under the eye just makes me look that little bit more awake. Maxfactor's Creme Puff Blush in 'Lavish Mauve' is my favourite shade of the moment - this dusty pink is the 'your cheeks but better' colour and is so perfectly subtle.

I can't get enough of EOS lipbalms at the moment, I picked up this limited edition Passionfruit balm in Urban Outfitters a few months ago and its fast become a favourite. The best thing about these balms is that they're incredibly moisturising without verging on greasy. I've been a convert for a good two years and have tried and tested a fair few of the range. 'Sweet Mint' will always be my favourite, but 'Passionfruit' is a fun alternative. I always make sure to use these balms before applying lipstick - they almost work as a primer as they soften the lips and combat any dryness. Their unique packaging also means you can apply the product effectively and apply the balm in the creases of your lips. For a lazy day, EOS balms are perfect.
So there you have it! My non-make-up, make-up look, for days when you're not quite ready to go barefaced. Think of it as the Lazy Sunday pick-me-up.
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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Belated March Reads.

Ever get the feeling that you're forgetting something? The niggling voice in the back of your head that's trying to tell you that you've totally spaced out. Pity it doesn't actually tell you what it is you're forgetting, right? Well it's taken me till April 9th to realise that I forgot to write up my favourite 'March Reads'. Whoops, sorry guys. Although this is a relatively new monthly post, it's one of my favourites to write - what can I say, I like to share the blogging love. Here are the posts in March that caught my eye.
I've been a big fan of Suzie's blog for almost a year now, she's one of the few YouTubers I read and watch daily. She's so personable and her cute little puppy, Nala,  just melts my heart. Last month she tried and tested some of Charlotte Tilbury's collaboration with Norman Parkinson and I am so so jealous. Having watched one of her videos where she applies 'Colour of Youth Lip and Cheek Glow', I've been obsessing ever since. It looks like the most perfect bright peach shade while also maintaining a more low key, natural finish. And it doubles as a lip product, I'm the first to admit that I'm a sucker for a two-in-one. I can see the 'Colour of Youth Lip and Cheek Glow'  gaining cult beauty blogger status and it's gone straight to the top of my wishlist alongside the 'Filmstar Bronze and Glow' palette. Suzie gets me hooked on a product yet again

Man Repeller | The Year Without Makeup

One woman charts her year without cosmetics - what starts out as a doctor's request becomes a personal revelation. In an online world of beauty blogging, posts like these, reminding us all that 'nothing will change if you face the world as you really are', are just so important. I love my make-up, skincare, nail polish and all that malarky but I think it's crucial to remember that make-up is only how you choose to present yourself. I know I'd struggle going without even the most basic of cosmetics on an everyday basis, my make-up is my comfort blanket. Without my foundation, mascara, and lipstick I'd feel crazily vulnerable. My love of all things beauty is not something I'm ashamed of but I am quite envious of some of best female friends who can happily pull off the barefaced look and still look great. It's something I'd like to try more often, I think it'd make me happier in my own skin. Challenge accepted!

I've been lucky enough to have met beauty blogger extraordinaire, Lily Pebbles, twice now (the first time when I bumped into her in Oxford Street's Topshop and was so completely starstruck that I just blurted out 'I love your videos so much!' before turning bright red - well played Lydia). I can honestly say she's the loveliest lady and I read her blog daily. She's one of the few bloggers I turn to when it comes to reviewing new products and I have her to thank for my discovery of the 'By Terry' Ombre Blackstars. Plus, she's a fellow London gal so I'm always checking out her vlogs to find new hotspots to explore. Phew, apologies for the fangirl moment. 
I loved her 'Style Evolution' post last month - it left me feeling inspired to try something similar. Although I doubt it would be quite as trendy. It was interesting read as Lily talks through her fashion choices in relation to what was going on in her life at the time - it made me wonder whether I'll cringe over my university style too. Here's hoping not..! 

Again, Hannah has become one of my favourite bloggers. I love that her content is a mix of your standard beauty and fashion posts but she also dabbles in more lifestyle related issues. She's wonderfully honest and upfront with her struggles with anxiety, kudos to this girl.
Her 25 life lessons, struck a cord with me last month - particularly 'if a boy likes you then the whole relationship/seeing each other thing will feel easy' and 'everybody is fighting a battle you know nothing about, so play nice'. Profound words from a wise lady, her variety of content never fails to keep me clicking away. Seriously, I can spend hours just browsing the depths of her site and consider it time well spent - I always walk away feeling inspired.
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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Staple Spring Accessories.

Ankle boots and a backpack - my recipe for style success this Spring! When it comes to my wardrobe, I like to keep things nice and simple. Minimalism trumps fussy fashion any day. Like I wrote in my Spring Style File, I'm attracted to my greys and more general muted colours. So naturally, my go-to accessories need to adhere to my not-so-strict colour scheme. My black Whistles mini rucksack paired with my ancient ASH ankles boots have formed the foundation of every outfit this season. Some may say boring, I call it classic...
So this is technically a hand-me-down. I spent six months working in Whistles when I was in-between universities last year - it's a brand I've come to know and love. And oh how I miss the 50% discount, but my Student Loan just doesn't stretch that far these days. Hence my euphoria when my Mum donated this cute little rucksack to the 'broke Lydia' cause. I bought it for her last Summer because her shoulder was acting up and this rucksack made a cute and practical alternative. She loved it so much that she's since bought the larger size in grey and a matching mini - so naturally, this one has been handed down to me. I took it on my trip to Lyme Regis last week and it was just the perfect size - it was compact and cute yet big enough to hold my chunky camera. Although no handbag could ever replace my Mulberry Alexa's place in my heart, it's nice to shake things up every once in a while. The smaller size forces to me carry round only what I need and wearing a backpack feels like a nice throwback to my secondary school days. Who knew they could be cool?

ASH Ankle Boots - similar here

If I could wear one pair of shoes for the rest of my life, it would have to be these. I bought these back in my Starbucks days so they're no longer available on the ASH website, but there are always similar versions about. Although I swear by my black Acne doppelgängers, these taupe beauties win in terms of comfort. They have a padded insole which means I can happily stroll round the streets of London all day without so much as a blister. At 5"3, I live in ankle boots because they give me just the right boost in height. I feel much more myself with those extra two inches, and these ASH boots have been my go-to Spring staple. The studded effect gives them a little more edge but I love their otherwise classic look. I could see myself donning them at Coachella, right? A girl can dream...
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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Cult Cleansing Mask Reviewed.

Meeting Anna and Lily, of ViviannaDoesMakeup and LilyPebbles, last month at #BeautyChatLIVE was one of those 'pinch me I'm dreaming' moments.  The event was such a great evening of girly chit-chat paired with champagne and make-up purchases, and to top it all off we were given humungous goodie bags filled to the brim with high-end indulgences. You can only imagine my face when I realised the 'Oskia' Renaissance Mask had made the cut. I was practically bouncing off the walls and hardly waited any time at all before slapping it on my face. 
You see, it's been impossible to avoid the skincare giant 'Oskia' on the blogosphere of late. All my favourite names keep mentioning their marvellous Cleansing Gel and Renaissance Mask duo. But averaging at around £50 each, this skincare range was a little out of my reach. So I was understandably more than a little excited to finally give the much-blogged-about Renaissance Mask a go. Sadly, I've been left pretty underwhelmed.
I wanted so much to love this product. I reapplied it numerous times, I kept trying to fall in love with it like the other beauty blogger giants (remember when I said I was immune to blogger's hype? Ha!). After every use, I kept waiting for that eureka moment. It just never happened. 
To be fair, I'm very keen on my exfoliating face masks - I like the feeling of freshly clean, reinvigorated skin. A face mask is a Sunday night routine for me, I love a bit of end-of-week pampering and starting the week with a renewed complexion. The Renaissance Mask is slightly different in that it's supposed to 'brighten' the complexion and leave skin looking 'healthy and illuminated'. It does claim to 'cleanse and clear congested pores' but that seems like a ideal byproduct instead of the mask's primary aim.  
Perhaps it was all the hype that surrounded this product but I really did have sky-high expectations. For £50 a pot and its very sleek, sophisticated packaging, I thought it'd perform miracles. Compared to other masks, it's very effortless and quick - all you do is apply a thin layer over the face, watch the product turn white, and remove after twenty minutes. I really liked that there was hardly any mess involved. Other products tend to get all over my sink and stain my towels an unattractive shade of green. 
Although the Renaissance Mask is supposedly scented with Rose and Chamomile, to me it just smelt unpleasantly of soap - but maybe that's just my unsophisticated taste talking. Once the product settles and the enzymes supposedly start working their magic, the mask turns white and becomes very greasy. Just looking at the photo above, you can tell that it's quite an oily product. I always like to do face masks in the evening so it's only when I wake up the next morning that I notice that my skin has a new greasy sheen to it. The mask leaves a kind of film which is supposed to brighten the complexion but just leaves me looking horribly oily. I have to cleanse twice the morning after just to get rid of the sheen. 
After several failed attempts, I've been forced to admit defeat. Me and the 'Oskia' Renaissance Mask were never meant to be. I've come to the conclusion that this product really isn't aimed at me - I have young, more temperamental, combination skin - whereas I could see it working well for mature skin types. I've thoughtfully donated it to my beauty-loving mother so I'll be interested to see what she makes of it. You win some, you lose some. At least I'm £50 better off for it. LOL jk I'm planning a raid of the Selfridges 'Charlotte Tilbury' counter the minute I'm back in London. 
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Monday, 6 April 2015

Escape to the Country.

As I'm writing this, sitting crosslegged in a armchair with laptop in check, donning my slouchiest pair of trackies and trying to stay focused on this post despite 'Star Trek' blaring in the background, it's safe to say I'm feeling pretty chillaxed. It's the end of the Easter bank holiday here in the UK and I know I'm not the only one who spent the break chilling out, catching up with some blog posts and my hefty list of YouTube subscriptions. Long weekends are just ideal for taking a breather and focussing on the things you love. For me, that means family, dog walks, and blogging - all encapsulated in our annual family trip to Norfolk.
This weekend got me thinking, life in London is so fast paced. Don't get me wrong, I'm so lucky to live in one of the greatest cities in the world but it can all get a bit overwhelming at times. Walking through the streets of central London is as beautiful as it is frustrating - nothing makes me more irrationally angry than getting stuck behind a group of hapless tourists! Which is exactly why I love our yearly trips to the North Norfolk countryside. It forces you to take a step back from city life and embrace a rural way of living - although our favourite hotspot, Burnham Market, is also known as 'Chelsea-on-Sea' so it's not all that removed from the city!
When you spend half of your time split between Southampton and London, the vast improvement in air quality when you're in the countryside really hits you. It makes you sleepy. Or maybe that's just the lack of coffee shops talking..! Either way, it's refreshing and crisp. You forget how much you love walking the dogs on the beach and you suddenly have all the time in the world to read again. Blog post ideas start popping into your head left, right, and centre and before you know it, your whole week ahead is filled with daily posts. In true blogger style, I get excited to whip out some new Spring wardrobe additions and try out some new Spring-inspired make-up.
But most of all, getting out of the city gives me some much-needed headspace. London is such a bubble - the bustling city feels like the epicentre of the universe. To be fair, it is my epicentre, my life is based there. It's all I know. London will always be home, no matter where I'm studying. But that doesn't mean I don't value our yearly Norfolk escape - the countryside gets me out of my head. It's designated time to relax and just enjoy time with my family, something I don't get to do a lot since starting at university last September. That's why Spring is one of my favourite times of year. The days are longer, the weather is brighter, and the change in season makes me feel generally more positive about life. And that's what the Easter break is for, right?
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Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Spring Lip.

A change in season calls for a change in make-up as they always say. Or is that just me? Although I did a whole post on 'My Spring Make-Up Look' just a few weeks ago, I picked up a new lip product recently that I felt deserved some recognition on the ol' blog.
As any regular readers of LydiaLulu or followers of my Instagram may already know, I'm currently in North Norfolk for our annual family holiday. So naturally, I wasn't expecting to come across Tanya Burr's collection of lipglosses and nail polishes in Tesco King's Lynn when I was accompanying my Dad on a mad dash for yoghurt. Who would have thought this collection would be stocked in a supermarket over my local Superdrug? Who knows, but either way I was thrilled to finally give one a go. As I'm still obsessing over Essie's 'Maximillain Strasse-Her' shade, (I can't see myself ever wearing any other polish - that's how serious it's gotten) I thought I'd try one of the much-raved-about lipglosses. I went for 'Afternoon Tea' - an effortless peachy-pink shade.

Lip Gloss - 'Afternoon Tea', Nails - 'Maximillain Strasse-Her'

I must admit, first impressions were not so good. I was so excited about this gloss, I applied it almost immediately. But the product came out quite gloopy and thick. The colour was more pink than I was expecting which also took a while to get used to. And if your lips are at all chapped than this gloss clings to any dry patches, making them look sore and not so appealing. 
Yet like most beauty products, practice makes perfect. It's took me a few more applications to really get used to this lipgloss and I'm happy I persevered. You can tell it was made by a beauty blogger because it succeeds where a lot of other high street alternatives fail. For a lipgloss, this product is really quite pigmented but also has the wearability of a gloss. The formula isn't too sticky or too shiny - for me, it strikes a perfect balance. I grab a gloss on a day when I don't want the high maintenance of a lipstick. 'Afternoon Tea' is the 'your lips but better' of lipglosses - the applicator applies just the right amount and the pigmented formula means a little goes a long way. Of course, like all lipglosses, you need to reapply throughout the day and I wouldn't say this one is particularly long-lasting. If anything, I'd say 'Afternoon Tea' looks best after an hour or so when it's properly set and the colour is a little more peachy.
When I first started experimenting with make-up in my teens, I had lipglosses in abundance. They're easy purchases and the glittery consistencies captured my heart. Since then, I've graduated to NARS lip pencils and been rocking some sort of bold lip almost everyday for months. With its great pigmentation and winning formula, I can see 'Afternoon Tea' forging a great middle ground between lipstick and a boring old lip balm. Although they're not available in my local Boots or Superdrug, a quick Google search told me that the whole Tanya Burr range is online at FeelUnique. At just £6.99 each, these glosses won't break the bank balance. It's a win-win situation.
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Saturday, 4 April 2015

Currently Loving..

Edith Wharton's 'The House of Mirth'

As a self-confessed nerdy Literature student, you can only imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this copy of 'The House of Mirth' in a quirky little bookstore during my recent trip to Lyme Regis. Edith Wharton's masterpiece has been on my To-Read list for quite some time now, I don't know what's been stopping me. I read 'The Age of Innocence' when I was seventeen and it was one of those crucial moments when I realised I wanted to study English at degree level. Since I'm in the North Norfolk for the next week, I can see myself racing through this classic. I can't wait to dive in.


'KT Tunstall's Acoustic Extravaganza' 


Back in 2004, nine year old Lydia had a bit of an obsession with a song called 'Other Side of the World'. I'm not sure what it was, I was too young to really understand what I was singing along to but I loved the melody and I spent about a year with it stuck in my head. Anyway, I've recently had a KT Tunstall revival and discovered this amazing acoustic album on Spotify. Tunstall plays a couple of classics, 'Universe & U' and 'Miniature Disasters', and then mixes things up a bit with some softer, almost country-like songs. It's the sort of album you'd imagine playing in a café to create a bit of atmosphere. Since discovering it about a month ago, I've been streaming it daily. I'm even listening to it now. Ha. My standout songs are 'One Day', 'Ashes', and 'Golden Age'.

Essie's 'Maxmillian Strasse-Her'

Had I bought this varnish a few days earlier, it would without a doubt have made it into my 'The Beauty Blogger Made Me Buy It' post. But alas, I couldn't find it anywhere. This is yet another Vivianna Does Makeup/Lily Pebbles inspired purchase - having said that I'm immune to blogger's hype, whenever these two rave about a product I'm almost always end up indulging. 'Maximillian Strasse-Her' is no different. But at least I can justify it! It's the most pretty dusty egg-shell blue shade and makes a welcome change from my usual pink/red/purple inclination. Plus, the Essie stellar formula means I'm not always worrying about chipping my manicure - so far, it's survived two trips to the countryside which is seriously impressive. 

Cuddles with a Less-Than-Impressed Peggy

The ultimate unrequited love. Peggy is the sweetest little Parsons Russell - people are always stopping to stroke her in the street and she's the most photogenic dog. But she has a typical terrier temper and doesn't enjoy being picked up and cuddled, not that I can take any notice. The next week will consist of dog walks on the beach, quality time with the family, and lots and lots of comfort food. Easter is one of the best times of year.
LydiaLulu
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Friday, 3 April 2015

Trans-Atlantic Beauty Bits.

It's official. In four months times I'll be heading back to New York. I could not be more excited if I tried - the lights, the city, the glamour, and the fast paced lifestyle. It's impossible to resist such a city. And a trip to the Big Apple can only mean one thing - one massive Sephora haul.
Walking into a Sephora now, I still feel like that same 10 year old girl who got butterflies in her stomach by the prospect of endless shades of glittery lipgloss. In honour of my impending trip, and anticipating the ultimate destruction of my bank balance, I thought I'd gather some of my staple trans-Atlantic beauty buys.

 Victoria's Secret Body Butter

Okay so not technically a Sephora buy, but a regular on my American shopping list nonetheless. I began using Victoria's Secret beauty products way before I ventured into the realm of lingerie so I've spent years cultivating my collection. Their body butters are incredible - there's no other way to describe them! I always find myself picking up body butters so I've tried my fair share over the years from all sorts of brands. But I always find myself coming back to good ol' Victoria's Secret. They're the only moisturiser that combines subtle, feminine scents with actual results. They leave you feeling soft and smooth without that cheap greasy residue - a problem I have with a lot of high street alternatives *cough cough* The Body Shop *cough cough*. They're so wonderfully hydrating and the scents always make me feel pampered even if I've had the speediest of showers. 
Plus, my annoyingly sensitive skin also seems to tolerate these moisturisers which makes a nice change from boring old E45 cream. 'Sheer Love' is the last scent I picked up in New York but my old favourites are 'Love Spell', 'Pure Seduction', and 'Amber Romance' - the Victoria's Secret brand shines through in these names, am I right? Of course, there are two branches of Victoria's Secret in London now but I always pick up a few tubs of moisturiser when I'm Stateside. The US stores have the widest range of products and they're a hell of a lot cheaper too. 


Sephora Acne-Fighting Mattifying Moisturiser

It upsets me that this wonderful moisturiser won't make it another four months before my trip. I'm going to have to find a quickie dupe before I stock up in Sephora. For oiler skin types like my own, this moisturiser is ideal. I used to avoid moisturiser like the plague, thinking it wasn't suited to my oily, blemish prone, combination skin. For me, this product has been a real game-changer. It's incredibly lightweight and soaks into the skin quickly and smoothly. Personally, there's nothing worse than your skin feeling 'heavy' with product. This little Sephora miracle provides my skin with just the right amount of moisture to replenish without making it spot-prone. Although I'm not convinced of its spot-fighting abilities, it really is the best formula for my tricky skin type.


Sephora Express Cleansing Wipes

I know, I know - a beauty blogger using face wipes? Hard to believe since we've all sworn them off. But these Sephora own brand one-swipe wonders are too good to eliminate from my nightly routine. They're the perfect solution for when I'm feeling too lazy for the whole cleanse, tone, moisturise routine. I've been using them for years and can't count the number of packets I've gotten through. The great thing about these wipes is that they don't leave your skin feeling stripped and oily - they do a really good job of cleansing while also removing every trace of crusty mascara and embedded foundation. I tend to bulk buy these so no doubt I'll be smuggling about ten packets back in my suitcase.


Sephora Blotting Papers

So blotting paper isn't exactly the most exciting buy but I couldn't do a American beauty post without giving these wonders a mention. Although my skin isn't quite as oily as it used to be (one of the plus sides of turning 20!), I always have these in the bottom of my handbag in case of oily T-Zone emergencies - hence why they've gotten a bit grubby. I bought these in Summer 2013 and I'm only just approaching the end of the packet now so 50 sheets was more than enough for me. They're a real life-saver in Summer, I used the majority when I was working in retail, as they're so easy to whip out and just give your a make-up a lil spruce up. All you do is press them on your nose/chin/forehead to eliminate shine and you're ready to get on with your day. Presto! After all, I like to keep things simple. From what I could tell from the website, it looks like Sephora have developed their blotting papers for more specific purposes - their new range includes a Vitamin C alternative and Lavender-scented papers. I will without doubt be picking up another couple of these make-up lifesavers. 

Of course, there's plenty more on my wishlist. The Marc Jacobs beauty counter will be raided and I'm desperate to try another Fresh Sugar lip balm. But these are the products I always find myself coming back to. Sephoras of Manhattan, watch out.
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