Illamasqua Leeds (and my new BFF, Charlixo)

illamasqua makeup
Fact one: I have a love affair with Illamasqua. Fact two: I haven’t worn makeup for over a month (while recovering from eye surgery).

With the all clear on cosmetic application and a birthday party rolling ’round, it only seemed sensible to pop into the Victoria Quarter’s Illamasqua store in Leeds for a play.

After being taken upstairs to their ever-so-glamorous makeover room, my appointed MUA – Charli Butterfield (Charlixo, to fellow Instagrammers) – got straight on to stealing my heart with ‘holy grail’ recommendations and her general loveliness.

Over the hour, we harped on about tattoos, the magic of Illamasqua’s Furore pigment (used in the finished look), our shared girlcrush on Alex Box, and the woes of looking ten years younger than you actually are.

When the final look was revealed, I made a personal vow to return to her chair for every and any big event ahead. Then took an unreasonable number of selfies.

Every time, Illamasqua. Every time. :’)

illamasqua makeup
illamasqua makeup
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T London

t london darjeeling diffuser
As a major advocate of British-born brands, I couldn’t let another blog go by without mentioning T London.

Though they are primarily a bath and body brand, they are running laps around their high-street competitors. Inspired by tea (Ango-tastic) and the delicacy of its subtle and reviving aromas, their products are formulated with the finest botanicals and essential oils; sweet orange, lemongrass, Kerala nutmeg, and lemon.

All coming together to create T London’s signature ‘Darjeeling’ scent, the brand’s Darjeeeling reed diffuser has truly been the best addition to my home this year (barring puppies). Coming in both 500ml and 100ml bottles, the glass diffusers make a beautiful – and comfortingly fragrant – statement in any home.

Inner Strength you can buy (thank you, Aromatherapy Associates)

aromatherapy associates inner strength
Strength is a funny concept. Physically, sure, strength is fairly quantifiable, but emotionally? It’s all one big mix of empowering quotes, life experience, and very unquantifiable behaviours.

After offering emotional strength via massage, Aromatherapy Associates became my new best friend.

The boutique’s new ‘Inner Strength Massage’ has been dreamed up specifically to help anyone under extreme stress press the reset button on body and mind. After six months of spontaneous near-blindness and multiple surgeries, it sounded like utter euphoria.

Following the success of their Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil (which Geraldine Howard first blended for her own use when going through a challenging health issue), the core of the treatment focuses on the oil’s powerful therapeutics; uplifting clary sage, frankincense to help focus the mind and calm the thoughts, cardamom and rosemary to help fortify physical strength, rose and vertivert to heal, and geranium to balance emotions and stimulate circulation.

Though the treatment unfolds in multiple steps, each is as considered and comforting as the one before it. Kicking off with a frankincense inhalation and foot cleanse with heated mitts, a choreographed sequence of nourishing oils and paraffin wax is applied to the hands and feet to follow – a dance that magically draws all stress from the body.

After the oil is massaged over the back and legs, more wax is used across the back and legs. As each application cools, the effect it has on your entire being is surprising; a confusing and exciting tranquility.

Moving on to the face and scalp, the treatment then introduces a nurturing and fragrant facial (and a few hot stones), meaning – the full ninety minutes later – you exit the treatment room not only feeling lighter and happier, but looking ten years younger.

Inner Strength? Who knows. But it makes me feel like a certain Pharrel Williams megahit and I’d go back every week if I could.

aromatherapy associates inner strength

One Stop Christmas Shop: Etsy

etsy gifts
We know – biologically – that we are creates of habit but it is easy to forget to what degree this is true. Over the holiday season, many of us have habitual routines or traditions that provide us emotional security blankets.

It wasn’t until one of my closest friends decided to embark on an ‘Amazon-free Christmas’ that I realised these habits could be as much a hindrance as they are a help.

With that in mind, I thought I would create a few One Stop Christmas Shop gift guides for you, dear reader. The aim of these guides will be to inspire and excite your Christmas purchases, all while making sure you check off everyone on your list – mother, brother, father, lover and beyond – as conveniently as possible.

First up? Etsy.

Shop Etsy:
Vintage Steamer trunk
Cloud pendant necklace
Eye Coal
Whatever, I’m Late Anyway watch
Bow and owl dog sweater
Wooden easel dock for an iPhone 5
Rose gold wishbone necklace
Ombre measuring cups (the ‘new home’ gift of dreams!)
Should I Wash My Hair Today? Flowchart
Retro Star Wars art

In Review: Green People and milk_shake

green beauty review
Time for a bit of a ‘green beauty’ update, my loves. It is not often that I switch my products around (that is, at least since I hung up my Beauty Editor hat) but these two brands have tempted a few switcheroos.

First up is beauty brand Green People and two of their epic staple products: the Volumising Mascara and organic pressed mineral powder. As well as having a SPF of 15, the latter is incredibly finely milled feels like air on the skin. A simple, natural matte finish with no nasties? I’m not sure it gets much better. Alas, the mascara is just as impressive: a plethora of volumising bristles, conditioning vitamin E and plant oils, and a super strong pigment. All without mercury, formaldehyde, parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates and synthetic colourants (you’d be surprised by the number of mascaras which do).

Next comes the hair story.

Having coloured so recently, the inevitable search for natural recovery products has led me to haircare brand milk_shake. To put it as simply as I can, these products work. Though they are SLS and paraben-free, the ‘color maintainer’ shampoo and conditioner combine milk proteins, apple juice, and ‘Integrity 41′ (sunflower extract) to create a natural and healthful cocktail for coloured manes.

The ‘conditioning whipped cream’, however, takes the proverbial cake. When used through damp hair, the simple foam acts as a weightless leave-in conditioner and well as an incredible fragrance (not its intention, I’m sure, but an intense plus). It is one of those products that you fall in love with while simultaneously developing anxiety about running out on a particularly frizzy morning.

Well deserving switcheroos, if I do say so myself.

green beauty review
green beauty review

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