The Miracle Skincare Brand

So a few weeks ago I shared some of my own personal make up tips with you, and one of those tips was to always take great care of your skin. This is still true, but FORGET the products I recommended ! Okay well don’t forget about them completely, they’re still good products that do the job well, but I have found the PERFECT skincare products !

I’ve never really had a proper skin care routine. Hypocritical of me, yes I know. But I admit it – I would just moisturise every now and again, exfoliate every now and again, and cleanse every now and again. Shameful ! It doesn’t help that I’m an impatient person – I like to see results immediately ! Sometimes we start out with good intentions of washing our face daily, exfoliating, toning, and moisturising only to give up after a week or so when our face doesn’t start glowing like Jennifer Lawrence’s. I’m SO guilty of that – I’ll wake up one day, look in the mirror, or see a photo of me on a night out, and start frantically panicking about how dull my skin looks and how dark the shadows under my eyes are. Henceforth, I will more or less drink my own weight in water and ritually scrub my face in the shower every day and night. Then, once a week has passed, you’ll either find me back on the sweet sweet drug we call Diet Coke, or drunkenly collapsing on my bed with a face full of make up whilst my trusty facial wipes lay forgotten on the bedside table. Then, in another week, I’m flapping about my dull skin. It’s a painful cycle that never seems to end ! Until now.

So, not long ago, whilst satisfying my shopping addiction with my weekly trip to John Lewis, I happened to chance upon the Liz Earle counter in the beauty department. I vaguely remembered my mum going on about something with a similar sounding name a few weeks back, and, having absolutely no regard for the very little amount of money which sits in my bank, bought the recommended Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser without question. It came in a nice limited edition tin that also included two cotton cloths…how could I say no ?! Well, I am SO SO SO glad I didn’t as it is probably one of the best products I have ever purchased. I used it as soon as I got home as I had a particularly nasty acne rash on my cheeks (which I often get as I used to have a bit of acne when I was younger) and I wanted it to be dead and gone in time for my friends 21st on Saturday night. Honestly now, I’m not lying, it had literally VANISHED within a matter of days. I have been using it for over a week  now and my skin is looking the best that it’s been in a long time. Having decided I was perfectly satisfied with my purchase, and thus desiring to extend my Liz Earle collection, I yesterday purchased the Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic, the Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser, the Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator, and the Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate. 

Although I’ve only used them altogether the once so far, I can see this being a skin routine that I most certainly will stick to. It’s an absolute pleasure to use these products as the smell is great, they glide on smoothly, and they leave your skin feeling super soft and super cleansed. The products themselves aren’t overly expensive either (well, I get 25% staff discount at John Lewis so WIN!), but I don’t think you can put a price on a good cleanser or moisturiser – you wouldn’t use crap to clean your teeth so don’t use crap to clean your face !! I’ll show you the products in detail so then you’ll be one more step towards becoming as obsessed with them as I am ! 

1.  Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser 

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So this is my first Liz Earle purchase, yay ! It’s a very important product to have as part of your skin care routine as you’re supposed to use it before anything else. This one comes in a limited edition tin to celebrate 150 years at John Lewis so, you know, you’re not just getting a nice cleanser, but a pretty box too ! The product has won over 100 beauty awards so you know it’s good stuff ! The first thing you do when using this cleanser is fill a basin with warm water (or do it whilst in the shower!) soak one of the muslin cloths in it, and then wring it out so it’s damp rather than wet. Afterwards, apply 1 pump of the product into your hands (the box says 2 pumps but I think this is too much) and use your fingertips to lightly massage all over your face. The product has a creamy texture and a tea tree oil-like scent (basically eucalyptus) so it should glide onto your face easy enough. Once you’ve done this, take your damp cloth and gently wipe all traces of the cream off, splash a bit of water on your face, then pat dry ! Seriously, this stuff literally takes ALL your make up off your face, and I mean ALL. Any traces of mascara, foundation, eyeliner etc are completely wiped out (little pun there incase it goes over your head). It leaves you with a totally bare face which is brilliant as your face literally becomes a clean canvas upon which you can start putting on make up 😀 RRP £19.75 

2. Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator

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After you’ve cleansed and polished your beautiful face, it’s time for exfoliation ! Once upon a time, it was typically recommended that you only exfoliate your face once a week, if that, as the rough texture of it would strip away all the natural oils in your skin and leave it feeling and/or looking raw. These days though, many exfoliators are much lighter and much more gentle meaning you can use them daily ! This Liz Earle one recommends that you use it as often as you need to 😀 I used it for the first time last night and it left my skin feeling ridiculously smooth – I know I said the cleanse & polish left it feeling smooth but this one is like DOUBLE smooth ! You can literally glide your finger across your skin afterwards and it just feels like silk. Seriously. Exfoliator is a good product to have and use because it strips away all your dead skin cells and exposes the nice, clean, glowing skin you have underneath. It’s also great for clearing up blackheads and blocked pores. Disgusting yes but we all have them !! Just gently massage the product onto your face (it feels like you’re rolling beads all over your skin. In fact, I think they are jojoba beads….) then rinse off 🙂  RRP £14.50

3. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

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We all cleansed, polished, and exfoliated then ? Right, so the next step is to tone your skin and remove any particularly stubborn traces of dirt or make up which may clog your pores up again. Spritz a generous amount of the tonic onto a cotton wool pad and lightly wipe all over your face, concentrating on your forehead, nose, and eyes. Keep doing this, using as many cotton pads as you need, until there is no more dirt left on the pad. Some toners have a strong, clinical scent to them, but this one is very floral smelling (it genuinely smells like the massage rooms you get in spas), and doesn’t leave your face leaving taut and dry as so many others are prone to do. RRP £13.25

4. Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser

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As I stated in my ‘Secret to Flawless Make Up’ post, moisturising is an essential part of any woman’s skincare/make up routine. Finding a good moisturiser that suits your skin type is really difficult. Well, I think so anyway. Personally I like a moisturiser which feels silky and smooth on the skin, but I find that a lot leave your skin feeling very firm and dry which I don’t like. I’ve only used this Liz Earle moisturiser the once but it is absolutely beautiful. I use the normal/combination type instead of the combination/oily. It’s both very soothing and very smoothing (is smoothing a word?!), and full of natural ingredients to protect your skin leaving it refreshed and hydrated. Apply gently onto face and neck after using the skin tonic 🙂 RRP £19.25

5. Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate

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The last product, and final piece of your skincare jigsaw, is this absolute gem of a skincare productIt’s basically a facial oil intended to plump and even your skin. It’s a product that must only be used at night time before bed as not only does it work over night as you sleep, but the aroma is also so soothing and relaxing, sends you right off ! It’s a rollerball application but rather than roll it all over your face, you should roll a small bit in your hand, warm between your palms, inhale the scent, then smooth onto your skin. It recommends that you apply it before you moisturise, but I actually think that adding moisturiser on top is too much. Instead, I would only apply the moisturiser in the mornings and then only apply this oil in the night, not both (of course, always do the first three steps!). RRP £20.00

 

So there we go – my Liz Earle skincare routine ! What I really love about this brand, aside from the fact their products are absolute miracle workers, is their dedication to using all botanical and natural ingredients. Nothing is better for your skin than natural extracts. They also NEVER test on animals ! As I’ve been researching more into the Liz Earle skincare range, I’ve discovered that they also do hair and beauty products…YES ! Will definitely give these a try and let you know my results and opinions 🙂 Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and let me know if it’s inspired you to try any Liz Earle products yourself and what you thought of them !

 

(All pictures taken from http://www.johnlewis.com)

Sansa Stark: Don’t Underestimate This Girl

**SPOILERS** DO NOT READ ON UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED UP TO SEASON 4 

In a land where bloodshed is rife, beheadings are the norm, and attendance at a wedding is practically a death sentence, the writers of Game of Thrones (yes that includes George R.R. Martin himself) could have easily taken the sexist route by having its female characters fall apart in this misogynistic medieval world, forcing them to become mere chess pieces in a male-dominated political game. They did not choose this route. Instead, in what is perhaps its most revered and compelling aspect, Game of Thrones is brimming with women who challenge their medieval conventions and constraints with their determination and strength, becoming formidable opponents to both men and women alike.

When we think of GoT‘s headstrong females, our mind is immediately occupied with images of Daenerys ‘Khaleesi’ Targaryen who is marching towards Westeros with a small company of loyal dragons, an army of 8000 highly skilled soldiers, and 3 men who are completely at her mercy. Or how about the impressive Brienne of Tarth ? The 6ft 3″ blonde warrior could even give the beloved Hound a run for his money in a duel. Not to mention Theon Greyjoy’s sister, Yara Greyjoy, the commander of the Iron Islands’ entire naval fleet, who, as we saw in last week’s episode, is pretty handy with an axe.

GoT Women

Yes, these female characters reject the stereotypical forms of feminism, for these women are physically well-built, display signs of overt masculinity, and are clearly uncomfortable when faced with ideals of femininity, favouring chainmail and steel over dresses and flowers. However, what is so great about this show is that the writers have not simply put a woman in a suit of armour, shoved a sword in her hand and said, ‘Hey look feminists ! We’ve challenged social expectations – our women don’t sew or cook, they fight and kill in battle !’ No. There are in fact many female characters in GoT whose lack of physical prowess and skill in battle is more than made up for with their cutting wit, subtle astuteness, and unparalleled intelligence. I mean, I would not want to be on the receiving end of Lady Olenna Tyrell’s sharp tongue, nor would I want to be caught in the middle of a political mind game between the menacing Cersei Lannister and the devious Margaery Tyrell !

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I have recently introduced two of my friends to the Game of Thrones universe, and when I remarked to them about all the strong females in the show, they both said ‘Yes. Well, except for Sansa.’ Yes, sadly, whenever someone is asked who their favourite GoT character is, poor old Sansa Stark rarely makes the top of the list. However, having been a loyal fan of the books and an avid watcher of the television series from the very beginning, I can comfortably say that by Season 4, the beautiful Sansa has made it into my top 5 favourite characters to watch, and is, I believe, one of the strongest female characters on the show.

Sansa Stark

Ah there she is. With her stunning red hair, flawless bone structure, and beautiful physique, Sansa is the epitome of the perfect Lady of Westeros. She looks far too fragile to survive in such a brutal world as the one she lives in. The fact that her sister is Arya Stark doesn’t help her image. If you compare the two side by side, there is no doubting that Arya is the obvious choice when it comes to who is the most spirited and resilient – I mean, the girl is only 11 years old yet she can already wield a sword AND she’s killed THREE people with it ! Even when we are first introduced to the sisters in Season 1, Episode 1, we see Sansa happily enjoying her embroidery classes whilst Arya sneaks out to play bow and arrows with the Stark boys. If that isn’t juxtaposition then I don’t know what is. Okay, I admit it, even I was frustrated with Sansa at first; throughout Season 1, all she did was moan about how ‘Southern’ she wanted her hair to look, stuffed her face with lemon cakes, and spent her time daydreaming about marrying a handsome knight and being rescued from her wintery tower, all whilst rejecting her Northern roots, practically disowning her family, and pining after the psychotic Prince Joffrey. Yes, at first, Sansa seemed the stock ‘Damsel in Distress’ character, incapable of doing anything for herself or processing any thought which didn’t consist of pretty princes or gorgeous gowns.

Sansa Stark

However, we are currently on Season 4, and in that time Lords have been beheaded, Commanders have been exiled, Kings have been poisoned, and, yet, Sansa Stark remains. She is the Lone Wolf in the Lion’s Den (Starks vs. Lannisters reference incase you didn’t know….), but has so far managed to emerge with all her body parts intact – surely we have to give a teenage girl credit for such an impressive feat ! Seven Hells, even the brilliant Tyrion Lannister has felt the sting of the Lion’s claws, leaving him with a scar he will carry forever. Still, poor Sansa has had to withstand a lot of mental suffering during her stay at King’s Landing – she witnessed her father’s beheading, suffered abuse and humiliation at the hand of our dearly departed Joffers, was forced to marry Tyrion ‘the Dwarf’ Lannister, and silently endured the death of both her mother and her brother. Did she scream ? Did she run ? Did she drop kick Joffrey in the face ? Or call Cersei an evil, miserable bitch ? No. Sansa has never ceased to be anything but ladylike, graceful, and polite, but it’s not because she’s too brainless to do anything else, but because she understands that this is the only way to survive.

Brienne of Tarth once told Catelyn Stark that she had courage, ‘Not battle courage perhaps but, I don’t know, a kind of woman’s courage.’ This is exactly what Sansa has – her hopes and dreams may have been ripped to shreds and fallen to pieces around her, but she slowly learns to use her femininity to her advantage, wearing her innocence and naivety as her battle armour. Like Tyrion once said to Jon Snow: ‘Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.’ So Sansa Stark sits prettily in her little cage, repeating her curtseys, and singing like a little dove, but she endures. She learns how to play the game of thrones, and has blossomed into one of its leading participants, unlike so many of her other female comrades who have been eliminated (Ros the Whore, Catelyn Stark, Lysa Arryn, Talisa).

So there we have it. Sansa Stark is not a warrior, she is not a soldier, she is not a killer, she is not a rebel. But she is a survivor. Personally, I truly believe that eventually Sansa will be the one to reclaim Winterfell in the name of her father and House Stark. I mean, Bran’s off beyond the Wall messing around with direwolves, three-eyed ravens and strange blonde-haired boys, Jon Snow is a loyal brother of the Night’s Watch, and Arya, whilst a complete bad-ass, is slightly out of control. It’s all down to Sansa. LONG LIVE SANSA !

Sansa Stark

Also, the way Sansa bitch-slapped her ridiculously annoying cousin Robin in the latest episode was applause-worthy. 

 

Is Television the New Cinema ?

Hello ! Apologies for the lack of posting recently. I’ve been in work practically ALL WEEK ! Not to mention that I don’t really like posting something new unless it’s well written and worth reading 🙂 Ideally, I wanted the other set of Vintage Disney Princess drawings to be up and ready by now, but I’ve had absolutely no time to even get started on them, so, alas, you must wait another week or so for those beauties !

My lack of drawing can also be traced back to another source: my addiction to television. Yes, I admit it; I am ridiculously, unashamedly, and irrefutably obsessed with watching television. Everyone assumes that as an English Literature student I must spend most of my days with my nose in-between the pages of a 1000+ page book. Not an entirely inaccurate assumption mind you – my love of reading will never die ! But, unless you only watch The Jeremy Kyle Show, or don’t even own a television set (the latter is preferable when faced with the first prospect), there is no denying the recent surge in remarkably good, in some cases even extraordinary, television (Ahem, True Detective). It’s time to forget what you think is cinema’s dominance over the small screen.

Not too long ago, movies were the BIG thing, they were IT. If ever there was a great novel, play, or comic book out there, you could be rest assured that somebody, a producer or director or what not, would get their hands on it, acquire the rights, and, not long after, the written word would be slapped across the big screen, encapsulated in a two-hour+ epic propelled forward by a large Hollywood ensemble. I remember that only a few years back, every time I went to the cinema there would always be an onslaught of must-see-trailers before the actual film itself started, followed by the tagline ‘SUMMER OF CINEMA 2007’ or ‘SUMMER OF CINEMA 2008’ etc etc, you get the idea. And they weren’t kidding. Not that I’m saying cinema is suddenly bad now – there are still plenty of adaptions to the big screen that capture my attention and get my adrenaline pumping. Films such as The Hunger Games and The Hobbit are all 2-3 hour interpretations of incredible books and, in my opinion, do them wonderful justice. There is also something magical about going to the cinema that beats sitting on your sofa in front of a tiny screen by comparison. However, what I am saying is that the sudden rise in brilliant television is perhaps the way forward in terms of adaptations.

Just look at HBO’s Game of Thrones – could anyone really imagine George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire now being translated into a series of movies similar to the Harry Potter format ? The same goes for Robert Kirkman’s comic book series The Walking Dead – maybe once upon a time I could have seen this being adapted for the cinema in the same way that the Batman series was represented by Christopher Nolan’s impressive Dark Knight trilogy. But, now I could not envision any movie, no matter who it was directed by or who it starred, being able to compete with the way in which AMC’s The Walking Dead has brought the comic books to life with such vivid detail and clarity. Even past adaptions such as The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, whilst they remain incredible in themselves, I feel fall short in comparison to television’s recent interpretation of Thomas Harris’ novels: NBC’s Hannibal.

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The fact is that these television series, some of which have up to 22 episodes per season, provide us with much more detail and insight into these different worlds and characters than a movie ever could. Take the character Hannibal Lecter, the infamous serial-killing cannibal/brilliant psychiatrist from Harris’ suspense novels – whilst no one can doubt Anthony Hopkins’ incredible performance as Dr. Lecter in both The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, it is hard to envision any 2-hour movie being able to fully reconcile us to such a brilliantly complex character. Prequels and sequels have attempted to help us better understand Hannibal Lecter – Hannibal Rising (2007) revealed to us the origins of Dr. Lecter and the driving force behind his actions – but the lack of coherence across the series (i.e. same director, same shooting style, same actors), doesn’t quite do the character justice. The same applies to Game of Thrones‘ Tyrion Lannister, for how could we possibly begin to understand or appreciate this one-of-a-kind character, whose dry wit, sardonic bitterness, and intellectual prowess stems from his life-long torment for being a dwarf, if he were merely a figure in some blockbuster-movie where his screen time probably totalled at 30 minutes ?

With television growing and growing in popularity, the lines between TV and Cinema are becoming increasingly blurred. I mean, there used to be a distinction between those actors who starred in movies and those who starred in television, but I think we are beginning to see a substantial crossover as a number of Hollywood actors, many of whom started out in television, begin to return to the small screen. Martin Freeman is a prime example of such overlap – star of Ricky Gervais’ The Office, Freeman shot to international fame as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, but has since made a return to television with his continuing involvement in BBC’s Sherlock, and his recent portrayal as Lester Nygaard in FX’s Fargo. Yet, what has truly rendered the start of a new era in television is the participation of The Hunger Games’ Woody Harrelson and Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey in HBO’s True Detective (a show which is possibly one of the best things to ever be aired on television). Many might disagree with me, but I seriously doubt that such massive Hollywood stars would have lent their names to a television production back in, say, 2009 even.

True Detective

And it is not hard to see why such actors are choosing to spread their talent across a multi-episode television series – where once television’s lower budget led to depictions of day-to-day reality rather than the fantastical escapism encountered in film, television is beginning to acquaint itself with massive special effects, making some episodes seem like they were intended for the big screen. The two which spring to my mind immediately is The Battle of Blackwater Bay depicted in Season 2, Episode 9 of Game of Thrones, and the incredible police-chase sequence at the end of Season1, Episode 4 of True Detective:

As you can now probably see, if you couldn’t before, I just love television. And I don’t mean any old television programme, although I am guilty of continuously watching The Only Way is Essex and Celebrity Big Brother (reality television is often the best form of escapism !). But, yeah, I can often think of nothing better than getting lost in a brilliant television show in the same way that I lose myself in the books that some are based on. I love having something to look forward to every week, something that I can research and read up on, characters that have back stories which can occupy me for hours and hours, and story-lines which engage me for weeks, possibly months on end rather than just that two hour trip to the cinema. I can only imagine how incredibly wonderful both Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings would have been if they had been 10 episode epics unfurled over 5 or more seasons. I mean, there’s still time to do that ! Just imagine an HBO rendering of The Lord of the Rings, where Middle-earth comes to life on the same scale as Westeros ! (Although The Lord of the Rings movies will always hold a special place in my heart) Or how amazing would it be to hear the words ‘Next week, on FX’s Harry Potter….’ Getting excited just thinking about it ! Personally I really think a television adaptation about James Potter and Sirius Black’s time at Hogwarts NEEDS to be made ! I already have the perfect cast list in mind….

Anyway, to conclude my weird-obsession with television, I’ve made a list of what I believe are some of the best television series out there, many of which are adaptations of books and the like. As I said earlier, I truly believe that television has the potential to accurately bring to life the written word more than any big budget, blockbuster movie ever will. In fact, it is not so much that television is now becoming indistinguishable from film, but, rather, is beginning to surpass it.

Game of Thrones
The Walking Dead
Hannibal
Fargo
True Detective
Sherlock
Dracula
Sleepy Hollow
Downton Abbey
Sex and the City
Doctor Who
American Horror Story
Lost

Now don’t shoot me just because something like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or Dexter isn’t up there, as I’m not an infinite pool of knowledge when it comes to every television show, and I’ve still yet to see the odd few ! But those are my favourites 🙂

Also, one more thing, and this is simply a personal reason for my obsession with recent television, but I am LOVING all the British actors being featured across many of these shows ! Sorry to all my American readers (if any), but as a proud Briton/Welshman/Englishman (Welshwoman, Englishwoman ?!), it is great to know that the world can now see the amount of talent we actually have on our tiny island. I mean, there is at least ONE Briton featured in almost all of the television shows I’ve named, most of which are American-produced. Let’s name a few…..well, for starters, almost the entire cast of Game of Thrones are British ! But we also have Martin Freeman in Fargo, Tom Mison in Sleepy Hollow, Andrew Lincoln and David Morrissey in The Walking Dead, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers in Dracula, Hugh Dancy in Hannibal and Dominic Monaghan and Naveen Andrews in Lost. Yes, most of the time they are playing Americans (how GOOD is Freeman’s Midwestern accent in Fargo ?!), but it’s still inspiring to see them being cast in such big productions ! AH I LOVE IT ! Okay, so I just remembered that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is actually Irish and not British, but hey, my surname is Irish so it still makes me proud !!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading ! Oh yeah, and watch True Detective. It’s amazing. I still can’t get over how ingenious it was – ‘You’re in Carcosa now.’ Just brilliant. Even if you just watch it for the opening sequence, that’s justifiable:

 

 

 

The Magic of Diagon Alley

They make a fuss about Hogsmeade, but I assure you, Harry, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
– Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Percy Weasley couldn’t have provided less comfort if he’d tried when he made an attempt to console poor old Harry about his inability to go to the illustrious village of Hogsmeade (his parents are dead McGonagall ! Who else is going to sign his consent form ?!) However, Percy has a point; Hogsmeade is nothing, NOTHING, next to Diagon Alley.

I mean, Hogsmeade is more or less the John Lewis of the Wizarding World – it’s amazing, sure, and everything you look at captures your attention, what with their delightfully sparkling products, some of which you’ve never seen else where before. Where else is better than John Lewis ? What’s that ? Yes. Oh yes. Harrods. Harrods is better than John Lewis. And that is just what Diagon Alley is – it is the Harrods of the Wizarding World.

Like Harrods, Diagon Alley is where the real magic happens, where the real magic begins. Here, there are things that exist beyond your wildest imagination, things that will always be just that little bit out of your reach, things that are beautiful, luxurious, extraordinary and enchanting; walking through the bank at Harrods (you can smell the millions) evokes images of the legendary Gringotts Wizarding Bank, whilst the lavish fashion and accessories department, where it would be a miracle if you could afford one item, vaguely reminds you of the robes and wand you purchased from Madam Malkin’s and Ollivanders in that dream you had last night.

That being said, I implore you to look at this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2545244/Revealed-A-peek-inside-Diagon-Alley-Orlandos-newest-Harry-Potter-attraction.html

Yes, that article was published back in January. Yes, I have only just accepted that it is happening. Yes, I am beginning to reconcile myself to the fact that I will probably never get to step onto those cobbled streets myself. For now, as you can see for yourself, the kind people who run the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando, have submitted to our demands and dreams by opening up their very own Harrods, i.e. Diagon Alley.

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By the end of Summer 2014, the lucky muggles visiting the Wizarding World will be able to step off the snowy streets of Hogsmeade, book a ticket at Platform 9¾, and catch the Hogwarts Express all the way to the magical cobbles of Diagon Alley. Tired from your train ride ? Don’t worry, you’ll be able to replenish your sugar levels at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour. Doubtless you will need the energy if you are to practise your Quidditch skills by purchasing your very own Nimbus 2000 or Firebolt at Quality Quidditch Supplies. Why not send us back at home a postcard of your adventures ? Better yet, you will even be able pick up a quill and some parchment at Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment – the owls at Eeylops Owl Emporium will be happy to air mail your letter to us ! 

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Is my jealousy that obvious ? I prefer the the term pleasantly envious. Seriously though, whilst the likelihood of me ever walking through that colourful, spellbinding Alley currently stands at zero (unless I win the EuroMillions….or rob Gringotts…), it is heart-warming and inspirational to think that there are people out there who are literally building dreams as we speak. For that is what Harry Potter is – it is a book that transports us to a different world, where we are enchanted and bewitched, where nothing very bad could ever happen to us (apart from the return of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters). And now something that was once only achieved through words is slowly coming to life, becoming a reality that we can touch, taste, and smell, and that is truly amazing.

Perhaps one day I will be able to let myself be chosen by my very own wand at Ollivanders (the wand chooses the Wizard don’t you know), but, for now, I will content myself with my books and my imagination. If that fails, there is always The Making of Harry Potter Tour at Warner Bros. Studio London 🙂

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Happy 85th Birthday to the Beautiful Audrey Hepburn

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone
– Audrey Hepburn

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On what would have been her 85th Birthday today, I want to dedicate this small post to the most heart-stoppingly beautiful woman that I have ever seen – Audrey Hepburn. I remember watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a young girl and being completely struck by her feminine, elegant, sophisticated beauty. No one compares. She is my inspiration ❤

The Secret to Flawless Make Up

‘I no more think that you should use a lipstick, powder, deodorant or hairbrush in public than you would take a bath in public’
– 
Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn appreciated the power of keeping beauty secrets) 

As a big fan of make up I am more than aware of the THOUSANDS, perhaps even MILLIONS, of articles like this that are out there. All we need to do is google ‘Make Up Tips’ and in less than a minute us women become armed with the knowledge of how to contour our face like Kim Kardashian, attain Angelina Jolie cheekbones, perfect a Keira Knightley pout, and draw on Megan Fox eyebrows.

Whilst I am regrettably unable to teach you how to magically transform your face into that of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s with just a few effortless brush strokes, I can let you in on a few beauty secrets of my own 🙂 I mean, I don’t want to brag (or maybe I do), but everyone always comments on how good my make up is (by everyone I mean my mum….), so I’ve decided to do the unthinkable, and share some of my easy tips on how to achieve a very fresh, simple look with your make up.

E-card Make Up

1. First thing’s first, ALWAYS make sure you face is CLEAN ! That goes without saying really. Never ever use soap to wash your face – it will strip your skin of all its natural oils and leave it feeling extremely tight and dry. Instead, I use Olay Total Effects Cleansers: Self-Heating Skin Exfoliation. Normally, I would recommend you only exfoliate your face once a week, but with this one you can use it every day as you please. You can actually feel the cleanser heating up on your face (if you close your eyes it feels like you’re at the spa….), and it leaves your skin feeling smooth and smelling beautiful !

Olay Exfoliator
2. Remove all the left over dirt and make up that accumulates on your skin throughout the day. For this, I use L’Oréal Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Solution. All you need to do is dab a little onto a cotton pad (you may need to use two) and sweep across the face, repeating until there is no dirt left on the pad. Proper skincare will ensure your face has a natural glow to it, which means less make up is needed !

L'Oreal Cleanser
3. MOISTURISE ! You would think that would be obvious, but not many people do actually remember to moisturise their face, not to mention their neck or décolletage (both of which also benefit from a bit of moisturiser !) Of course, everyones skin is different so it’s very important to find a moisturiser that suits your specific skin type, and once you find a good one, stick to it ! After filling up yet another drawer full of forgotten moisturisers that didn’t quite meet my expectations, I have settled on using Olay Instant Hydration Skin Serum. It’s technically an anti-wrinkle serum, but it’s never too early to start preparing for the inevitable ! Moisturiser does not only ensure your skin is hydrated, but it also acts as a primer to keep your make up in place throughout the day. WIN. 

Olay Moisturiser
4. FIND A GOOD FOUNDATION ! I am a firm believer in investing in a good, reliable foundation – once you have a decent base, everything else on top will look flawless. I’ve been through more foundations than I have McDonald’s Drive Throughs (i.e. quite a few), and have ended up looking both like a tangerine and a ghost. I have learnt from my horrendous teenage years and have become somewhat of a foundation aficionado. Thus, I highly recommend Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow; it really is WOW and not as expensive as you might think. I advise applying foundation with a foundation brush, dabbing onto the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead, then blending it all together with both the brush and your fingers.

Benefit
5Highlighter really is your best friend, and nothing can compare to Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat. It is literally a miracle worker and an absolute god send. Never EVER use anything but this when it comes to highlighting. Not only does it add definition to your cheekbones when blended across the tops of your cheeks, but it also reawakens tired eyes when dabbed under and around the eyelids, slims down a perhaps-slightly-larger nose when brushed right down the middle, and plumps up thinning lips when applied around the lip line.

Touche Eclat
6. Use bronzer, not blush. This may outrage those of you who prefer a pinky hue to a bronzed glow, but I’m only stating what works for me ! Bronzer is definitely more suitable than blush if you have darker, olive-type skin like I do. A lot of make up artists recommend sweeping bronzer all over your face, but if you’re after a more defined look then my advice is to sweep your bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks and upwards towards the temples (you can build up the colour as you please). You can also sweep the excess powder under your chin, along your forehead, and on your brow bone. Like foundation, I have gone through many many bronzers – matte bronzes, glittery bronzers, expensive bronzers, cheap bronzers – but the one I always come back to is Dior’s Diorskin Nude Tan Bronzing Powder. Just to add, I always apply my bronzer AFTER highlighting, never before. Some people do it the other way around but I found this way has always worked best for me.

Dior Bronzer
7. Only apply one coat of mascara. Again, I’ve always heard and read that you should apply between 2-3 coats of mascara, but if you have a decent, reliable mascara then this is not necessary. If you end up applying too much, the price you pay for slightly longer, darker eyelashes is black smudge on your brow bones when you blink, and very unnatural looking eyelashes which resemble the legs of those really hairy garden spiders that always manage to find a way into your bedroom just as you’re about to turn the light out. It’s a little expensive but I always use, and highly recommend, Chanel’s Le Volume De Chanel. It lasts forever as you only ever need one coat, and the brush separates each and every one of your eyelashes to make eyes appear much larger and somewhat almond-shaped.

Chanel Mascara
8. When applying lip gloss or lipstick, just go for it ! So many women try and apply their lip colour perfectly the first time, but I say just aim for the general lip area and go for it, you can always tidy up any mistakes and imperfections afterwards with a cotton pad or a cotton bud. To be honest, I don’t wear lipstick or gloss that often, but if you are a lipstick lover then I advise investing in a good one – with cheaper lipsticks, especially glosses, I always find that your hair ends up getting stuck in it whenever the wind blows ! The only lipstick I ever use is a red one that I got a while ago from Yves Saint Laurent and I’ve heard very good things about most of their lip colour range ! Although saying that, I’ve also had good experiences with Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain. If you can, always apply your lip colour with a brush – the colour lasts longer.

Revlon
9. Eyeshadow isn’t just for eyes. That sounds weird, but if you’re on a night out and fancy contouring some high cheekbones for yourself or maybe a stronger jaw line, I find that taking a small eyeshadow applicator and a brown eyeshadow (the shade of brown should be slightly darker than your skin tone) will do the trick. Simply dab the applicator into the powder, then sweep the colour from the end of the thicker part of your eyebrow, then down the side of your nose (both sides), then blend. After this, apply a small line of powder just above the hollows of your cheeks (where the bone is), and, again, blend blend blend ! Do the same along your jaw line if that’s the look you’re going for – it’s all about blending ! This you can do with either your fingers or a make up sponge. With eyeshadows, I don’t think it really matters whether its expensive or a bit cheaper as in my experience they’re all pretty much the same ! Although I do recommend Benefit Longwear Powder Eyeshadow in spiced brown shade.

Benefit Eyeshadow
10. Use loose powder to lock everything in place ! As I said before, moisturiser will do this for you, but powder not only extends the wear of your make up, but also enhances everything else, giving your face an all-over subtle glow. Loose powder is more of a luxury than a necessity to your make up kit, but if you do require it then I recommend Dior’s Diorskin Nude Rose Powder – it is costly but very worth it ! It’s a very luxurious product, so it’s a pleasure to put on really 🙂 As with the mascara, it lasts forever as you only need a tiny bit – too much and your face will end up looking very Geisha-like, not to mention it will obscure any bronzer or blush that you may have put on beforehand. Just dab a large blusher brush very lightly into the powder, and very gently sweep across the forehead, nose, apples of the cheeks, and jaw line. This powder will also stop your face from looking too shiny and keep your make up from sweating off if you’re dancing the night away on the weekend ! Disgusting I know, but it does happen from time to time !

Dior Powder

Katie’s Extra Special Beauty Tips

1. If you are fair headed, like I used to be a very long time ago, use BROWN mascara. Only wear black mascara if you are dark.

2. To achieve a very sultry, tousled look, apply all make up as normal and then take a hot shower or bath – the steam will sink into your skin and soften up your make up.

3. Follow the beautiful Audrey Hepburn’s example and separate each of your eyelashes with a pin after applying mascara – it will give them an even fuller look.

4. Keep it simple for a daytime look – foundation, a little bit of bronze/blush, and a lick of mascara is all you need. If you must wear eyeliner, wear brown, not black.

5. If you’re going for a strong look with your eyes, keep the lips looking pale and subtle. If you want a strong lip colour, keep eye make up very simple. NEVER do both !

6. Use liquid liner for the tops of your eyelid, and either a crayon or even eyeshadow for the bottom lash line – it gives a much softer, less harsh look.


So that’s it really ! Hopefully you’ve all learnt something today, and will perhaps try some of these tips yourselves, and maybe even invest in some of the products I’ve mentioned ! Like I said, you won’t end up looking like Scarlett Johansson, but you will enhance an even more beautiful YOU 🙂

Love Katie xx