• Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm
  • Kiko Daring Game Collection Kiko Daring Game Collection
  • L'Oreal Perfect Slim Super Liner L'Oreal Perfect Slim Super Liner
  • The Body Shop Wild Argan The Body Shop Wild Argan
  • Wifey Road Trip: Scotney Castle Wifey Road Trip: Scotney Castle


Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm

It’s not been too long since I spoke about the Clinique Chubby Stick Baby Tints, but hot on their heels is another new release from the brand in the tried and tested Chubby style. Here’s the Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm* – or Clinique Chubby Cheeks for short!

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These creamy cheek colours are considerably chunkier and with a flatter top than their lip-focused predecessors, for obvious reasons; a pointy tip isn’t going to be conducive to quick application and blending on the cheeks. The oil free formula provides a natural colour and healthy glow with no effort at all. I prefer to apply a couple of dots straight from the pencil to one cheek, give it a quick blend with my fingers and then repeat on the other side. Going at it one cheek at a time gives you more time to blend the colour out to a realistic flush before it sets, but honestly I think you’d be hard pushed to make any major mistakes while using Clinique Chubby Cheeks. You could also blend with a brush if that’s your preference, but I do prefer blending creamy products with good ol’ fingers.

My favourite shade is probably Amp’d Up Apple, it’s got a fairly neutral undertone and I think it’s the one that works best with my colouring. Robust Rhubarb isn’t dissimilar, just more on the peachy side of things and a little warmer in undertone. I imagine Roly Poly Rosy should be another suits-all shade, whereas Plumped Up Peony will probably be better worn on darker skins.

I really, really like these but, much like the Baby Tints, I don’t think you need to rush out and buy all of them. Just pick the shade that you like best and it will become indispensable to you. They cost £19 each and are available on Clinique counters nationwide, as well as in larger Boots stores and online from Clinique. If you’re after something similar on a tighter budget, pop to Superdrug and scout out Gosh’s latest releases – they have something pretty similar but far cheaper.

Kiko Daring Game Collection

It’s no secret that Kiko is one of my favourite affordable brands. It’s also no secret that I get a leeettle bit excited when they release a new collection – so I have great pleasure in sharing one with you today. A gambling-themed, Bond girl inspired selection that offers a guilt free thrill if you’re the type to fancy a flutter; here is Kiko Daring Game.

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Kiko Daring Game encompasses pieces from blushes and bronzers, to an eyeshadow palette and a pretty unique powder brush, and even a skincare serum. Every single product is, as always, hypoallergenic, clinically tested and paraben free.

The first of the bits I have to show you*, and most certainly my top pick, is the Colour-Up Long Lasting Eyeshadow in Charming Champagne (£7.90). Kiko seriously make some of the best eye makeup products I’ve ever encountered in my half a decade of beauty blogging, and this one is definitely fitting the pattern. Colour-Up Long Lasting Eyeshadow is not too dissimilar in formula to my beloved Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadows from the brand, just presented in a different format. It’s available in 10 different shades as part of Kiko Daring Game, and this one is indeed a charmingly sparkle-infused champagne shade that is beautiful just blended over the lid without any fancy shadow work. Of course, if you have the time and inclination it also looks stunning as the focal point of a more dramatic look but honestly, I like it on its own. There’s absolutely zero in the way of smudging, colour fading or creasing throughout the day (although I’d add the caveat that those with oily lids like me should apply a primer first for best longevity). Top marks!

Next up, the All-In Marker & Kajal (£9.90). This clever double-ended product has the potential to fulfill every woman’s eyeliner needs, but there are a couple of things about it which fall a little bit short for me. On one end, there’s a felt-tip style liquid liner for lining the upper lashline, with a suitably strong black colour that holds for hours and hours. However, I find the tip a bit too chunky and a bit less flexible than I would like (I prefer the L’Oreal Perfect Slim Super Liner). At the other end lives a twist-up kajal pencil that’s ideal for a smoky eyeliner look, it’s easy to smudge around and smoke out when first applied but dries down to a unmovable finish. Unfortunately it doesn’t show up so well in the waterline, which is make-or-break for me in an eyeliner so overall, I’d have to give this potentially very practical product a miss.

Down to the lips now, with the matching Ace of Diamonds Lipstick (£7.90) and Ace of Diamonds Lipliner (£5.90) in Distinct Golden Hibiscus. Kiko Daring Game features six gorgeous lipsticks and their corresponding lipliners. The lipliner is the twist-up type, so no sharpener required, and imparts an identically coloured base in preparation for the lipstick. Kiko say that its no-transfer forumula is long-lasting, waterproof and improves the hold of lipstick – and boy, does it (more on that in a moment!). The lipstick’s finish falls somewhere between matte and satin, and is intensely pigmented in just one swipe. Super creamy, too, and paired with the liner, it’s there for the long haul. I wore them together, along with the Colour-Up eyeshadow pencil, to go out for lunch with the in-laws at the weekend. We stayed such a long time chatting and whatnot after our meal that we ended up ordering dinner as well – that’s a first, never done that before – and eventually got home almost 12 hours after we left. I hadn’t touched my lips up at all, in fact I forgot about it altogether, so imagine my surprise when I glanced in the mirror and it was completely, 100% intact. Maybe a bit less intense than it was half a day ago, but bloody impressive nonetheless, lasting through 12 hours, two meals and countless drinks. Actually amazing.

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So, there’s my two cents on the Kiko Daring Game collection. Eyeshadow pencils highly recommended as always, and I still can’t get over the incredible wear of the Ace of Diamonds lipstick and lipliner. Do check out the collection online, or in-store if you can. There’s even a sextet of 5-free Poker Nail Lacquers (£5.90 each, pictured above) with dice numbers on the caps – adorable.

L’Oreal Perfect Slim Super Liner

My favourite black eyeliner has always been Pixi Lash Line Ink. Unfortuantely mine has finally run out, and since I didn’t have a reason to go anywhere near Carnaby Street (where their store is based) anytime soon – and also because I really begrudge paying for postage when ordering online – I went hunting in my local Boots for something to tide me over. Enter L’Oreal Perfect Slim Super Liner!

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This skinny little pen is a pretty nifty find for the bargain price of £6.99. If you like felt-tip style eyeliners, you’ll love this one. With a teeny tiny 0.4mm tip, it’s as easy to create a very thin line as it is to apply it at an angle for a thicker, more dramatic look. The barrel has a sort of rubberised grip for a more secure hold that does a good job at preventing any slips of the hand. The tip is neither too stiff nor too flimsy, therefore very easy to control. It’s easy to apply your eyeliner in one fluid movement without any of that join-the-dots nonsense required with eyeliners that skip and drag across the lid. The colour is super black, too, no wishy-washy grey here.

My only criticism of the L’Oreal Perfect Slim Super Liner is its lasting power on oily lids – or lack thereof. If I wear it over eyeshadow, or at least an eyeshadow primer (like Urban Decay Primer Potion or Too Faced Shadow Insurance), it lasts just fine but, on days when I’m in a rush, I want to just apply some black eyeliner straight onto bare lids. I imagine it might fare better on those without oily or hooded lids like mine, but on me if I skip priming the lid then I experience some transferring on the outer corner and colour fade throughout the day. Not the end of the world when I can prevent this just by remembering to add a smidge of primer first, but definitely something to bear in mind.

L’Oreal Perfect Slim Super Liner is available online and instore from Boots and Superdrug. Annoyingly, Boots only have the blue and green versions online and Superdrug only have the black one, but both shops have all three in store.

I know this is a pretty popular choice for low-cost eyeliner; if you already own it, what do you think? If you don’t, are you interested in trying it?

The Body Shop Wild Argan

BOOM! It’s time for a new collection from The Body Shop! Despite my usual preference for their more sweet and edible ranges (Brazil Nut, Chocomania, Honeymania, Blueberry.. you get the picture), I’ve fallen hard for The Body Shop Wild Argan range.

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Quick show of hands – who actually knew what the argan fruit looked like before now? Not me. Total ignoramus, I know.

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Dried argan fruits ready to be de-fleshed and the nuts inside cracked to release the oil

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Zoe London and I showing off our beautiful henna designs at the Moroccan-themed launch

Argan oil is pretty ubiquitous in the beauty world now, with even the likes of Primark selling tiny little bottles of it among the other crap they shill to you to distract from the long queues (although I’m sure the purity of theirs is questionable at best). Despite it being contained in all sorts of moisturising products for the skin, body and hair I think I’m probably safe in assuming that I’m not the only one who didn’t really know anything about the ingredient, where it comes from or how it’s obtained until I was introduced to The Body Shop Wild Argan range. If you’ve spent the last few years harbouring a similar ignorance, allow me to fill you in…

There is only one place in the world where wild argan fruit trees thrive naturally – the foothills of the Atlas mountains. In this locale, you’ll find a small cooperative called Targanine, founded and run by women. Targanine are The Body Shop’s newest Commuinity Fair Trade partner (their twenty-sixth, believe it or not) and are another shining embodiment of The Body Shop’s Trade Not Aid philosophy, providing the Targanine crew with a stable income to provide for their families and to reinvest in their local community – think schools, creches, doctor’s visits – all the things we absolutely take for granted.

So, as mentioned in the caption on one of the photos above, I had absolutely no idea what an argan fruit looked like until now. Now I do, and I know that the process to obtain the precious argan oil from this fruit is a long one which Targanine undertake with lots of TLC and some very exacting standards to ensure only the best quality is achieved. The fruits are hand picked, air dried, de-fleshed, then the nuts within are hand cracked. Sure, machines can do all of this stuff – but the by-hand method produces a much higher quality of oil, super rich in fatty acids including Omega 6 which makes it one of nature’s finest moisturisers. Argan oil is already popular in the beauty world, particularly as a hair oil (think Moroccanoil and its many successors across all price brackets), but thanks to their partnership with Targanine, The Body Shop have expanded on this with a full bath and body care range.

All the old favourites are present – Shower Gel (£4), Body Lotion (£8), body scrub – this time called Rough Scrub* (£13) and packed with ground argan and walnut shells for serious buffing action, Bubble Bath (£8), and of course, what kind of The Body Shop collection would this be without a Body Butter* (£13)? Everything smells glorious, like the argan oil products we’re already familiar with but souped up with a hint of honey and, to my nose, something a bit like marzipan too (so you’d assume almonds, but I can’t see that on the ingredients!).

There are a few stars of the show which really allow the Targanine argan oil to shine. The Radiant Oil* (£14) is – praise the baby Jesus – a spray oil. There simply aren’t enough spray oils on the market! So much easier to distribute evenly over your body or through your hair this way, and it absorbs quickly so you aren’t left hanging around in your birthday suit. Definitely my top pick – followed closely by the Miracle Solid Oil* (£8) which, as the name would suggest, is a little tin of solid argan oil that may well be the single most effective body moisturiser I’ve ever used. It’s perfect used in conjunction with the Body Butter to top up any extra-dry bits like elbows and knees. Or, if you can bear sleeping in socks (weirdo), slather it on your feet before bed and wake up with super smooth ones. Last but not least is the Solid Oil for Lips, essentially a smaller tin of Miracle Solid Oil with a few tweaks to the ingredients so it’s a bit more on the edible side for obvious reasons.

All in all, another sterling range from The Body Shop and one I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Definitely try out the Radiant Oil and Miracle Solid Oil to experience argan oil in all its glory! The Body Shop Wild Argan range is out now in store and online, so what are you waiting for?

Wifey Road Trip: Scotney Castle

On Saturday, Sheenie and I decided to get out of the city for a day. Armed with cameras and a very cheese-centric picnic basket, we headed to Scotney Castle in Kent. The grounds of Scotney Castle actually feature two castles, the ‘old’ and the ‘new’. The latter is still nearly two hundred years old, having been constructed between 1835 and 1843. We didn’t go inside the new castle (which, by the way, housed an office for Margaret Thatcher during her time in office) but we spent several hours wandering the beautifully green gardens and what’s left of the original 1378 castle. I’ve always found it fascinating to visit places like this; I like to spend a few minutes taking in the rooms, the layout, the construction and then closing my eyes and imagining a scene unfolding of life there hundreds of years ago. Then, boom, right back to the present day when we hit the cinema on the way back to London to watch The Inbetweeners 2. Very funny, even better than the first one – definitely go and see it if you loved the TV series and the first film.

Luckily the weather was on our side, with blazing sunshine that has left me with hideously sunburned arms. The visit afforded a great opportunity to christen my new 50mm f/1.4 lens – a birthday present from Colin which he let me have a day early for exactly that reason (it was my birthday yesterday, by the way). This means that you’ll have to cope with some amateur wide-open aperture shots and lots of floral macros!

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A weekend with mum

Despite only living about an hour’s train ride away from my hometown, I don’t see my parents very often. Everyone’s working during the week, and when one of us is free on a weekend, 9 times out of 10 the other is busy. Last weekend though, mum and I finally both had a free weekend at the same time so she came up for a brief, but perfect visit.

Mum arrived late morning on Saturday, and we spent all afternoon wandering around the Waterglades at East Village and the Olympic Park. The evening was spent inventing our own cocktail – a bastardised White Russian composed of milk, Disaronno and Mozart Gold chocolate licquer – and drinking a lot of them while watching Disney movies. A 2am walk around the park again listening to mum’s scuba diving stories was followed by a well deserved sleep and a thankfully hangover free Sunday of shopping and Thai for lunch.

I love spending time with my mum, and only wish I could do so more often. The older I get, the more I realise how alike we are. Oh, and the cocktail? We named it Titty Sprinkles. South Park fans will know what we mean.

Seems only fitting to post this on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of her giving birth to me…

Love you, mummy xxx

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Wait for it, wait for it…

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