my top 10 beauty heroes

It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve been into beauty products and looking after my skin. Previously I’d just use wipes to get rid of make-up, then go straight to bed (yes, the make-up came off, but that’s not to say my skin particularly thanked me for it). As for make-up brands, I’d opt for the cheapest on the shelf, and prepping my skin was non-existent. But as the natural youthful glow we take for granted in our early to mid-twenties wore off, and too many late nights and stressful jobs took hold, I knew action needed to be taken before my laughter lines were no longer funny.
 
So, I swotted up. I read the Beauty sections in magazines I used to skip over. I pinned dewy-skinned looks on Pinterest and found out how they achieved them. I listened to experts’ recommendations. I started building an understanding about my skin type (sensitive/combination) and what I can do to get it looking its best. So – if you’re anything like me – you may be interested in hearing about my absolute favourite beauty products right now… the ones that live up to the hype and more, and the ones that are constantly on rotation as they bring back certain memories. Let’s delve into my make-up bag, shall we?
 
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{The make-up bag}
 
Clarisonic Brush // You need one of these in your life. Simple as that. They’re pricey, granted, but the amount of times you’ll use it per week will make it more than worth it. It’s a complete game-changer, your skin will feel so smooth the first time you use it, you won’t be able to stop touching it. I use mine about 3-4 times a week and I honestly wouldn’t be without it. I tend to follow it up with…
 
Balance Me Radiance Face Mask // This feels like such a luxurious product. It contains ground walnut shells that gently buff away any dead skin cells, soothes your skin and loads it up with lost moisture. It smells gorgeous (that’ll be the rosemary and lavender) and leaves your skin feeling and looking radiant. I leave it on for a good hour to get the most out of it.
 
Essie ‘Ballet Slippers’ // I wore this colour on my wedding day after seeing it referenced as the ‘perfect nude’ everywhere. So, we’ve got history. It has just the right balance of pink and beige tones, and looks glorious with a tan and strappy gladiators. Sometimes I stray and go for coral toes in the summer, but on my fingers I tend to stay faithful to this subtle hue.
 
Stila One Step Correct Colour Corrector // You know when you wake up in the morning, approach the mirror and your skin is all, like, ‘I can’t believe you made me get up at this ungodly hour… I’m going to throw a hissy fit and be all red and blotchy and unattractive just to teach you a lesson.’ That? Well, this is when Stila comes to the rescue. It looks weird on your fingers – that’s the green in the helix – but once you’ve primed your skin with it, it’s like you’ve given your face a bacon sandwich, a black coffee and the promise of a mid-afternoon nap. It just calms it down so it’s ready to cooporate. And BB cream or foundation goes over it like a dream. My secret weapon.
 
Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Eye Cream // This little cult classic is never leaving my bathroom cabinet. It’s really light and sinks in effortlessly, so you only need a tiny amount. And it keeps fine lines at bay like nobody’s business. Even if I’m about to pass out from tiredness, I always make sure it goes on before bed.
 
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish // Now, this. This stuff is GENIUS. I’m not kidding. I think this product single-handedly turned my complexion around. After I take off my eye make-up, I slather this cleanser all over my face and neck (don’t forget to look after your neck, ladies) then dunk the cloth in almost-too-hot water. Cover your face with the cloth like you do with those amazing lemony hot towels at the Indian restaurant, and you’ll feel all the stresses of the day evaporating from your pores. Give your face a wipe, splash with cold water, then tell me it’s not the most heavenly product ever invented. Follow up with a generous layer of night cream and your skin will be singing the next day. I’ve given it as a present to so many people, and I’m sure at first they’re thinking, ‘nice, she thinks I have bad skin.’ I really don’t. I’m honestly just sharing the love.
 
Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in ‘Rose D’Or’ // For nights out I tend to reach for my NARS powder blushers, but for every day you can’t beat Bourjois. A tiny dab on the apple of your cheeks and it gives you that healthy I’ve-just-run-though-a-meadow glow. If I’m rushing out without a face of make-up, sometimes this is the only product I’ll use. And it’s a bargain.
 
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation // I never knew what the hell I was doing with foundation before I discovered this industry favourite. I had bad experiences with orange jaw lines, trowelled the wrong colour on either too thick or too thin, and mostly just sacked in the whole idea since I ended up looking a complete mess. After researching natural-looking foundations that enhance your skin rather than mask it, this name kept coming up. Best money ever spent. I usually just use a small blob and mix it with a BB cream or highlighter, and bingo… flawless skin.
 
Benefit Laugh With Me LeeLee // Aww, my wedding perfume. It was a change from my usual Marc Jacobs Daisy, and I’m so glad I switched it up for my big day. Every time I spritz it on, it takes me back to getting ready at my brother’s house with my favourite girls the morning of my wedding. There’s a light blend of citrus, jasmine and lily blossoms in there which smell like pure summer, and the bottle’s a pretty little number. Please don’t ever discontinue this, Benefit, I beg you.
 
Bondi Sands Self-Tanning Foam // Recently discovered this after a foray with St. Tropez (“ooh, smart guy’s a rhymer…”). Would never go back. It smells like coconuts, not biscuits. First win. It doesn’t streak and doesn’t make you look like you’ve rolled in Doritos. Ding-ding-ding. I use the lighter version, apply with a mitt, leave it on overnight and shower it off in the morning. Hey presto… even, natural tannage. Total convert.
 
So, there you have it… the teacher’s pets of my beauty arsenal. But I’m always looking for new wonder-products – do you have any you’d like to share with the class?
 

best moments of #orc2015

Six weeks. Twenty bloggers. A variety of budgets. And that, my friends, is the essence of the One Room Challenge. Each year, Linda of Calling It Home organises for 20 bloggers to transform one room in their homes in just 6 weeks, and interior obsessives like me (and probably you, since you’re reading this) get to be voyeurs along for the ride. The class of ’15 has been strong, featuring some of my all-time favourite bloggers like Swoon Worthy and Savvy Home. I trawled all 20 of the blogs religiously, and although everyone firmly put their own design stamp on their makeovers, some made me look more lustfully at my screen than others. So, without further ado, here are my #ORC2015 best bits and the reason why they made the cut…
 
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WAITING ON MARTHA
{Colourful gallery wall + hanging chair}
 
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STEPHANIE KRAUSS
{Pastels + muted hues}
 
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HI SUGARPLUM
{An update on the traditional bedside table}
 
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SWOON WORTHY
{Feminine-meets-masculine office space}
 
swoon-worthy
 
 
DESIGN DUMP
{Sophisticated, layered vignette for a teenage girl’s bedroom}
 
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SAVVY HOME
{Copper bar stools + cosy accents}
 
savvy-home
 
 
JULIA RYAN
{A calming bedroom palette}
 
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JILL SORENSEN
{Dream kitchen scenario}
 
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I HEART ORGANIZING
{Cool greys + panelled ceiling}
 
i-heart-organizing
 
 
6TH STREET DESIGN
{Pops of colour + Jana Bek lamp}
 
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KIMBERLY SCHLEGEL WHITMAN
{Hunting lodge vibes}
 
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JENNA SUE DESIGN
{Brass taps, freestanding bath + tiled floor}
 
jenna-sue-design
 
I’d love to hear what you think of my choices – any favourites?
 

a week in marrakech

A few weeks ago, Tom and I headed off to Marrakech for a sunshine break. Sadly, although we did get to see a smidgeon of sun, the temperatures in the whole of North Africa took a substantial dive the exact week we’d chosen. It also rained. A lot. So, there was nothing else for it, but to turn our planned fly-and-flop into a city break. Although I made sure that ‘city break’ involved lots of reading and napping time, obviously. Let’s not get crazy.
 
We stayed at the ClubHotel RIU Tikida Palmeraie, just 15 minutes from the main square – Jemaa el-Fna – and it was the perfect choice. The pool went on for weeks (just a shame it was too chilly to even dip a toe in), the food was go-back-for-thirds good, and the staff were some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. And I’ve been to Thailand. For the days when it was warm enough to sit out on a lounger (albeit swathed in numerous layers), I devoured a pile of books. Including The Miniaturist, which was just as mesmerising as I’d heard. And when it was too cold, I found a cosy little nook that I’d curl up in with a giant bag of Cheetos from the gift shop. Holiday happiness, right there.
 
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But when we weren’t slothing, we headed out into the great unknown. I love an excursion, especially when the lovely people at Thomson do all the legwork for you, so all you need to do it show up on time for the bus. On one of our trips we took a walking tour around the old fortified city and had a chance to dive into the souks, which has been on my wishlist for years. If you’ve been there yourself, you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s an experience. It’s an assault on the senses. It literally thrums with activity… there’s incessant drumming, you’re offered the weird and the wonderful from every direction, you can smell sweet and sour spices in the air, and it’s more than just a maze of stalls. It’s a tangled web of tiny alleys and passageways that go on forever, all looking exactly the same. Do not attempt to navigate them yourselves because you will get lost… I don’t care how good a sense of direction you have. There’s no 80′s David Bowie to help you, either.
 
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The souks were another level of crazy, and I can’t say that I’d visit them again in all honesty, but the eye candy for interior design fanatics like me almost made it worth it. Perforated gold lanterns that would look stunning above a kitchen island, a rainbow of ceramics that would make a cultured addition to a coffee table, throw blankets at prices that make you want to buy two more suitcases for the journey home. If, like me, the thought of haggling for your chosen item cranks your anxiety levels up a notch, then head to the nearby Berber Cultural Centre. It has all the goodies you’ve eyed up in the souks, but the (incredibly reasonable) prices are set in stone, and the shop keepers leave you to browse in peace.
 
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On our walk through the city, I was aiming my iPhone at everything. Intricate tiles (oh, the tiles), tranquil white-washed courtyards, and the local wildlife, including this very contented feline…
 
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Archways, fabrics, dress materials. Interior inspiration was everywhere. If it wasn’t for the fact that Tom reminded me that I already have a zillion cushions at home, you can betcha I would have smuggled home many many new companions for them.
 
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Let’s talk about the food. Because it was magnificent. We ate our body weight in cous cous soaked in all manner of delicious spices, tender lamb stews, sweet orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon (trust me, try that one at home) and, yes, random buffet food combinations like pizza with a side of roast beef. One night we had a tasting menu at a riad. Not only was the restaurant out of this world – twinkly lights, sumptuous courtyard, all the Moroccan trimmings – the food was so god-darn-good, Tom and I still have lengthy conversations about it.
 
Tom – That chicken pie, though…
Me – That salad platter, though…
Tom – That tagine though…
Me – Those pancakes, though…
 
You get the picture. Also, the mint tea. Not the same as the bog standard peppermint stuff from Twinings. It’s meticulously prepared and served in a shot glass. Oh, and forget your sugar embargo and make sure you add a lump or two, I promise you it’s worth it.
 
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So, the verdict on our Marrakech holiday. It was the perfect blend of loafing and exploring, with food that I’m still dreaming about, and that gratifying feeling of seeing somewhere completely removed from your everyday routine. Like a great book, it does stay with you for a long time… but whether I’d go again, well, the jury’s out. Although, that chicken pie could well be enough to convince me.
 

sixty soho gets a makeover

Ten years ago, my commute to work was a hop and a skip along Fifth Avenue. As far as commutes go, there are worse ways to travel to work. Okay, so I left out the part about the smushed-in-someone’s-armpit PATH train from Jersey City, but details, details. The beauty about working opposite the Chrysler Building (again, there are worse places to call your office…) was that I was in prime hotel territory. I love me a hotel. We’re not talking your local Premier Inn, we’re talking the fancy schmancy kind that have marble floors and sweeping staircases and a jaunty concierge. And one hell of a watering hole. Preferably of the roof-top variety. So, when I heard that NYC’s 60 Thompson had been refurbed and re-branded as SIXTY SoHo, my ears pricked up faster than you can say ‘J.Crew half-price sale’. This is going to be good, I thought to myself. And I wasn’t wrong. Industrial chic, sophisticated tones, and layer upon layer of textures.
 
The dark window frames and patterned floor create plenty of drama…
 
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In most NY hotel rooms there isn’t room to swing a cat. In here you could swing 128 of the beggers…
 
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Stocked and loaded.
 
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1,800 square feet of split-level gorgeousness… ladies and gents, the SIXTY Loft…
 
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The Sessanta bar. I mean, seriously.
 
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Just add a G&T and good friends.
 
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I’ll take a week in the SIXTY Loft, thanking you kindly.
 
Good, right?
 

the march edit

1st March. Finally. I don’t know about you guys, but my year officially starts right here. Jan and Feb don’t even deserve a mention, as far as I’m concerned. But we made it… the evenings are getting lighter, and very soon that special day will arrive when temperatures reach a whopping 15 degrees, and the world and his wife agree it’s definitely BBQ weather. Bring it on. To celebrate, I thought I’d bring you a round up of all the things I have my eye on this month – something that I’m going to make a monthly feature. Enjoy. It’s good to be back.
 
march-edit
 
Maje cardigan // Yes, the price tag made me wince. But it’s Maje. Ergo, it’s fine. And coats are going to be redundant soon, with any luck, so it’s just plain practical.
 
Burberry BB cream // This stuff is getting rave reviews everywhere. Apparently one application of this wonder product and it turns you into a glowy Rosie H-W doppelganger. I’m in.
 
Kilim cushion // Turns out I like my cushions like I like my cardies. Who knew? While the shops are serving up zig-zags and geometrics like they’re some kind of new trend (*cough* 2012), I’m drooling over all things kilim.
 
Neom candle // This smells incredible. I have it burning away right now, and I can vouch for the fact it does exactly what its name promises.
 
French Connection T-shirt // Hurrah! We can start talking about T-shirts like they’re not some kind of mystical creature again. This one plus some denim cut-offs and you’re sorted. Might want to wait for the 15-degreer, though.
 
Salted caramel truffles // Packaging wins me over. I’m that fickle. I’m sure the truffles taste great, too.
 
Copper pendant // This pic doesn’t do this pendant justice… when the light shines through it, it’s kitchen island perfection. And one day it will be mine.
 
The Miniaturist // I’m off on holiday in 2 weeks to Marrakech and I intend on ploughing through as many books as possible. I’ve heard good things about this one – has anyone read it? – so it’s already packed and ready to hit the sunlounger.
 
Tell me, what’s on your lust list this month?