Monday, 8 February 2016

The Pure Luxury Collection from Eloquence Beauty




When I was given the opportunity to try out the Pure Luxury Collection from Eloquence Beauty I had a good long look at the ingredients before I said yes. I've become quite fussy about what I put on my skin these days and will quite happily say no to something that isn't going to be suitable. Now don't get me wrong, I'm no Caroline Hirons. I wouldn't dare to say I'm an expert in cosmetology or chemical composition of skincare products but after years of blogging and obsessing over what I'm putting on my face I know what to look out for and I know what works for my Sahara dry skin.

The first thing I spotted was Hyaluronic Acid. Sold! But I kept on looking. The second thing I spotted, and the main selling point of the brand, was the Sacha Inci Oil. A quick research told me that this was a new Protein rich Omega stuffed Peruvian wonder oil, very similar to the much loved Argan Oil which I also use quite regularly. Lastly, and this wasn't about the ingredients, I noticed that each product was labelled in a clear step by step routine so that you couldn't go wrong. This was beauty by numbers and it ticked all my boxes. 


When the set arrived I had to wait a few days before truly getting stuck in to my rigorous testing (I had just received a course of Laser Hair Removal from Destination Skin and had to avoid acid based products for a week) but I marvelled at sleek design of the packaging and the functionality of the pump action bottles. These will stand out on your shelves and make you want to reach for them. What I did do was start off with the Nourishing Treatment Oil (pictured first on the left, below). This is an rounder product I've been using it everywhere. Whether it's as a facial oil, or massaging into my cuticles, rubbing on the ends of my hair I have literally bathed in this oil and it's lovely. Often I find oils can be sticky or leave my skin with a nasty residue that I have to wipe off. There was none of that with this oil. 2 pumps did my hands and face with a quick wipe of the excess through my bleached ends. I noticed a massive difference.  

When I finally was able to get stuck in to the four step treatment I loved how simple it was. Having the numbers labelled on the bottle really takes the stress out your routine. 

Step 1 - Purifying Facial Cleanser (pictured second on the left, below). The cleanser is probably my least favourite product in the range. It's a lovely cleanser with little foaming or lather action that makes it feel chemically but it's not something I feel I could entrust to a full face of makeup. You'll definitely need a second cleanse beyond just eye makeup remover and that's just more effort than I like to make on a daily basis. That being said if you're not wearing makeup or are a fan of a multiple cleanse routines then you will absolutely love this step. 

Step 2 - Firm & Tone Serum (pictured in the middle, below). This was my first click when I was in research mode. Having dry skin I need to know that a serum is going to suit me and this one, due to the use of Hyaluronic Acid, does. A cream base , rather than a gel, it glides on the skin and leaves a perfectly prepared surface for the moisturiser. The two products really do work well together which is something that I find brands don't often get right. 

Step 3 - Firming and moisturising Eye Gel (pictured second last on the right, below). This is my most neglected step in my normal skin care routine but it has been nice to take that extra bit of time to treat my eyes. Given my recent poor health and the fact that it seems to just get worse every day (I should probably point out here that I'm writing this review from hospital. My third stay in less than two months), the fact I've been able to see a marked improvement in the tiredness in my eyes is definitely down to this gel. My only issue with this product is the tube itself, I find it hard to control the amount of product I'm squeezing out so there is lot of wasted excess being wiped away. I miniature version of the pump action bottles or even a smaller hole in the Nib could easily solve this!

Step 4 - Protect & Repair 24 Hour Cream (pictured last on the right, below). As I've mentioned already this cream pairs lovely with the other products in the range. They blend into each other and leave you wanting to touch yourself for the rest of the night (careful now). However an important step for me was that this worked independently from its siblings. If I'm floating about during the day I'll often just dab a bit of moisturiser on to refresh my skin and I hate it when I'm left feeling tight or greasy afterwards. Two opposite but equally displeasing sensations. No such problem here. 

 



So there you go, my thoughts on the Eloquence Beauty Pure Luxury Collection. These are definitely going in to  my regular skincare rotation and I will be keeping an eye out for more from this brand. I look forward to seeing what they have in store. 


Friday, 29 January 2016

The Perfect Fry for #ulsterFRYday

Today is #ulsterFRYday. It is also the final day of the UK's National Breakfast Week and the last weekend of Northern Ireland's Breakfast Month as part of its year of Food and Drink.

Today is the Ultimate day in the breakfast calendar. It is Breakfast Mecca. 



As much as we all hate to say it, The Perfect Fry is really the ultimate comforting, healing and hearty breakfast. What it lacks in low fat it makes up for in high satisfaction. And whether you're Irish, Northern Irish, English, or Scottish (sorry Wales but your lava bread and cockles just don't meet the fry up criteria) we all have our opinion on what The Perfect Fry is. 

Given that this is the most holiest of days in the Breakfast calendar I thought I would share my take on the perfect fry. And I warn you, it's non region specific! 

Sausages
Image via thebigkitchen.org

The temptation these days is to go all fancy with your sausages to ensure they're 100% meat, organic and had a good life resulting in 8 GCSEs before going on to fulfil their sausage destiny on your plate but, for me, the perfect sausage in a Fry is a standard catering sausage. Deep Fried. They're dirty and great and oh so tasty. 

Baked Beans
Image via TheGuardian.com

The next most important part of a fry for me is Baked Beans. A controversial addition for some who believe it has no place on any of the regional variations. And yet it corrupts them all in equal frequency. Baked Beans are the thing that brings a fry together. It turns the Fry from a load of separate greasy bits of protein and carbohydrate into a cohesive meal. Beans are necessary. 

Fried Bread
Image via my bestie Gayle

This is where the bulk of my Fry begins to take on Northern Irish leanings. My fry includes all of the fried breads. Whether it's the English plain white slice, or the Norn Iron favourites of Potato Bread (fadge), Soda Bread, and Pancakes. My Perfect Fry has them all dipped in butter to a lovely golden crunch. As you can see from the photograph above, it should be about 50% bread to be truly authentic. 

Fried Egg
Image via ShockinglyDelicious.com

You may like your eggs poached or scrambled or boiled (weirdo) in your fry. They're all good and I'd happily eat any fry that came with the eggs prepared this way. My fry has fried eggs. Slightly crispy round the edges with a completely cooked white but still runny in the middle (for dipping purposes) it can be tricky to get the eggs just right but oh so worth it. I absolutely detest getting a fried egg and there's a big gloop of uncooked white on top. I will heave. But if you get it just right? Heaven. 

Bacon
Image via BBC.co.uk

Bacon comes way down on my list of priority ingredients because, if I'm being truly honest with you dear reader, I'm not that fussed on bacon. I'm quite fussy about foods being too salty and so I've never been overly fond of any kind of pork which is pumped full of the stuff during production. I'm also extremely fussy in how it's cooked so quite often if I'm eating out I'll leave it off my order or swap it out. I will concede that for most people Bacon is vital and so it does land on my list. And when I'm cooking a fry for a large group I will, of course, cook it. My way. The right way. (Medium crispy just in case you're interested) 

Special Mentions
These are the items that, whilst not vital to My Perfect Fry, I would be more than happy to receive on my plate. 

Hash Browns/Boxty

Image via irishcentral.com

I love a good hash brown and although it is often used an alternative to one of the various bread options I have mentioned above I will happily dip it in my yolk. Boxty (the Irish version pictured above) is slightly wetter inside than a hash brown but still a welcome addition. 

Black or White Pudding

Image via Wikipedia

Black Pudding is the infamous bloody sausage made up of very little actual meat and is in fact pork/beef fat, pork blood and various oats and grains. It's currently being touted as a super food so be prepared so it a lot more on your menus and supermarket shelves. 
I can't remember ever having actually had white pudding but it contains all the same ingredients as black minus the controversial superfood blood element. Not really sure what the point of it is other than to satisfy squeamish people, maybe? 

Veg Roll

Image via homebutchers.com

Vegetable roll is a delicious but thoroughly Northern Irish addition to the fry. It is a coursely ground, highly spiced, Beef patty with a minuscule amount of vegetables (usually leek, scallion, or something green so it stands out) thrown in and most importantly it is pink, even when fully cooked. I don't know how they keep it pink. I'm not sure I want to know. But it is delicious. The only reason it isn't in my main list is because it is not an ingredient I would purchase when making a fry for just myself. 

Fried Tomato
Image via Eatbelive.com

I never actually eat the tomato when I get it in a fry and usually I'll swap it with someone looking to shift their egg. It is a bargaining tool used only to make you feel slightly better about yourself when give your sausage a dip. 

Lorne Sausage
Image via Wetnelly.com

You've gotta love the Scots. Why go to the hassle of having to squeeze your sausage meat into a pesky skin when you can just square it up and fry it off. I have to admit I had a wee square sausage in celebration of Burns night this week as they sell them in my local Iceland.

Hell No M'deario

There is only one absolute hell no for me and for some of you it may be screamingly obvious what it is. MUSHROOMS. The much loved greasy fried fungi in an absolute crime to food. I despise mushrooms. You will never find one on my plate willingly and if for some reason they do end up there you can be sure I'll be offering them up for trade instead of my tomato. 


So have I missed anything out? Are you completely offended by choices? If you think I have then absolutely let me know but all I'm saying is that after years working in the food industry and having cooked up hundreds of Frys, I've had actual marriage proposals. They're pretty damn good. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Belfast Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 Launch





If you're a Northern Irish Fashionista then one of the events you'll keep a keen eye out for is Belfast Fashion Week and, of course, the official fashion week season begins with their launch a few weeks ahead of the shows.

Today I was invited to the launch in BFWHQ (just off the Dublin Rd) to check out a sneaky peak of the newest trends and the hottest items from Northern Ireland's High Street and Boutique stores. Seeing as I was in Belfast for an appointment already it was a fab opportunity to multitask and make the most of my trip to the city. 

I met up with my friends Sarah from The Sarah Story and Claire from World Of Kitsch and after a quick nosy around the venue (on the hunt for nibbles) we grabbed a Miel et Moi cupcake and then pitched our spots ready for the show. 

Last year I had a crap spot and wasn't able to get any photographs, this year I was a woman on a mission and pitched myself dead centre in amongst all the professional photographers. Definitely worth the few dirty looks I was getting in to bring you the above video and below photography. Multitasking at it's best! Don't forget to head to Belfastfashionweek.com to check out the itinerary and snap up some tickets. As our lovely host and event organiser, Cathy Martin, says tickets sell quickly and the High Street shows are always the first sell out so make sure you get in quick!

Sarah, Myself, and Claire (photo courtesy of Cool FM)




























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Monday, 18 January 2016

"Brand New Mint In Box"



Of the ways to describe the most premium of items in your makeup collection "Brand New Mint In Box" should not be one of them. One of my most awful habits is buying makeup and then not using it and to my even greater shame it is usually with my most expensive purchases.

There is an Alan Carr joke about the extortionate price of a Spanish Onion, the punchline is "when do you save an Onion for best?" This is kind of how I feel about expensive makeup. It's so pretty and so precious that if I get up the courage to actually purchase it, I'm then usually too scared to use it. The pride and shame of this habit is these two items from Dior. 


The absolutely sublime Dior Skin Nude Tan highlighter which I purchased as a pre-release special edition from House Of Fraser TWO YEARS AGO has sat in box all tightly wrapped up only being shown the light to show off to my friends and family. Yes I do show off my prettiest of pretties to my friends and family... Don't judge me. 


In comparison my Dior Addict Lipstick has only been in my possession for a few months but it, much like 90% of the unused items in this post, fell victim to my "can't use before photographing" policy. It then ended up at the bottom of a "to photograph" bag and has only just been rescued by my recent reorganisation efforts. 


In the slightly less shameful but equally as unused categories we have quite a few goodies. A NARS lip pencil which I bought at IMATS a few years ago and didn't even know I had, a Jemma Kidd lip gloss which I'm pretty sure came from a magazine and a few goodie bag/gift box items items I've yet to get round to from this past Christmas; I was slightly preoccupied...






In the eye category I have at least a few items that have been swatched/used once but given their almost pristine conditions in their little boxes I'm still a bit guilty. Do you know how hard it is to keep NARS packaging clean? The secret, according to this cream shadow, is to never take it over the box more than once. A few more goodie bag/IMATS/Magazine Shadow singles from Benefit, MUD, and Inika and then we find the reason that I mistrust most beauty counter sales assistants. I was "matched" with this Benefit Brow Zing in shade Medium. Ginger hair dye aside I am quite clearly a dark but back then (several years ago now) I knew nothing of brows and was happy to take the sales assistant's word for it. Of course the shade is far too red toned for my natural brow colour and thus has been used only once. If anyone fancies it you're more than welcome to it (NB: it's still good, I checked!) 

And now we have my final sin, a brand new mint in box Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner that is completely dried up and will never get a use. Maybe that should teach me for buying blue eyeliner? 





So there you have my deep dark makeup secret, from now on I'll do my best to keep the mint condition collectables to just figurines. Wish me luck!