Evening in Paris.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Earlier this week, I returned from an amazing four nights in Paris with my boyfriend and his family. We explored France's capital, acted like overgrown children in Disneyland and generally had a wonderful time. I took my camera along to photograph the trip, and thought I'd share some of the photos with you guys. I didn't take my camera everywhere with me - I think sometimes it's nice to have a break and see the sights through your own eyes, rather than through a camera lens - so these photographs are actually from the second day when, after a long day in Disney, we spent the evening wandering the Champs-Élysées. 
Starting at the Arc de Triomphe, we strolled down the street taking in the sights and Parisian atmosphere - pavement cafes, designer shops, beautiful architecture - it was exactly as I'd imagined and hoped it would be. Feeling hungry, we stopped off at one of the cafes for dinner and were talked into ordering Strawberry Champagne Mojitos, which were delicious

Starters were classic French onion soup, and, of course, snails. When in Rome, right? They came drowned in garlic butter and were surprisingly good. For my main I plumped for duck breast in a spicy honey sauce. The duck was tasty and it took a bit of willpower not to lick up the leftover sauce when I'd finished - it really was that good! My boyfriend, his mum and his sister each had a different type of steak - tuna with Asian vegetables, steak tartare and good ol' beef steak, which all looked amazing.

After eating, we continued down the street, stopping off at MAC and ending up in Sephora - a serious contender for my favourite shop in the world. A lot of the products were things we could buy over here (except a little more pricy!), so I was sensible and just picked up a couple of mini sizes of Sephora's own brand skincare items. I got a cleansing water, toner and eye makeup remover, which I'm sure I'll discuss in more detail when I've used them a little more. So far so good, though!

By now, it was beginning to get dark, so shopping bags in hand, we heading back up to Charles de Gaulle-Etoile to catch a metro back to our hotel. On the way we passed a McCafe and I was surprised (and a teeny bit jealous) to see that McDonalds in France has macarons on the menu - England, you definitely need to step up!

I had a really, really fantastic time and fell completely head over heels in love with the city. The atmosphere was amazing, I loved the culture, the architecture, the food was awesome... I could go on. I know it's a bit of a cliche but it really is a beautiful place and I'm already daydreaming about the day I can return. 

Hope you enjoyed - more photos coming soon! 

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

Monday, August 26, 2013

This post has been a long time coming, as this famous facial spritz by Caudalie is one of my most loved products of all time. The Beauty Elixir, which claims to "smooth features, tighten pours and provide an instant burst of radiance to the complexion", has become a cult product, capturing hearts all over the world and becoming a staple in most beauty lovers collections. Makeup artists, celebrities and skincare enthusiasts alike swear by this stuff, while others consider it to simply be an overpriced bottle of water. Here's why I'm firmly in the lovers camp...

The smell is amazing. It's a 'love it or hate it' kinda smell, but I most definitely love it. It's a menthol-scented, herby concoction of organic balm mint, rosemary and rose; and is both refreshing and calming at the same time. Spritzing this throughout the day livens up my skin and makes me feel much more awake and revitalised. It can be used in several different ways - as part of your skincare routine as a toner, to set makeup or simply sprayed onto the face throughout the day. I've used this stuff for well over a year now and nothing brightens or calms my skin like it. Sure, there are cheaper facial sprays out there (Beauty Elixir comes in at around £10 for the 30ml bottle pictured, and over £30 for the full 100ml), but, for me, there's no other product that even comes close to the effectiveness of this stuff. To top it all off, it's completely free of parabens and other baddies, and cruelty free. What's not to love?

Wishlist #2

Sunday, August 18, 2013

As a recent graduate entering the scary real-life world of job hunting and money woes, a lot of my time lately has been spent online, imaginary shopping, rather than outside actually doing it. I've been compiling and pinning lists of things that I want to buy in the future, in an attempt to subdue the obsessive shopper in me and provide me with a little job searching motivation. Here's a small sample of what I'm coveting at the moment...

Now, if you're a regular reader you will know that I am very much pug obsessed. This Catseye Pug Bag has caught my eye in several shops over recent weeks. It's perfect as a wash bag or large makeup bag, and the huge pug image adorning the front is a definite day brightener. I also recently found this Pug Pattern iPhone case by Gemma Correll, an illustrator who creates the cutest and most accurate pug cartoons and books (seriously - if you're a pug fanatic I cannot recommend A Pug's Guide to Etiquette enough). The colourful case features an adorable selection of partying pugs - what's not to like?!

Moving onto another of my favourite things: beauty. The Balm's NUDE 'tude has been on my radar for a while - although the crooked design annoys me to no end, the shades are really beautiful. I've also been on the lookout for a new perfume, and fancied something a little different to the popular, more mainstream fragrances that I usually go for. I have a rollerball version of the Fresh Brown Sugar Perfume which I bought in New York earlier this year, and I've been regretting not buying the full bottle since the day I landed back in the UK. Containing notes of lemon, tangerine, caramel and sugared magnolia, it's the perfect mix of sweet and citrus and is unlike any other perfume I own. Unfortunately it's not as easy to get your hands on over here as we only have a single Fresh store in London, but I'm confident that this perfume will be the first thing I pick up next time I'm in the capital! Another two perfumes I've had my eye on are Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber, and L'Occitane Verbena. Finally, a pair of Shu Uemura eyelash curlers have been high up on my wish list for a while, and the recent hype around Origins No Puffery Cooling Roll-On has had me dying to give it a go.

What's on your wishlist at the moment?

Maybelline Baby Lips

Friday, August 16, 2013

Maybelline Baby Lips, the lip balm that has taken the US by storm, has finally hit UK shores. For a while now, I've heard American bloggers rant and rave about these colourful little sticks of balm, and while I was certainly keen to try them out, I also had to wonder quite what was so special about them. They're just lip balms, right? Well... yeah, but they're quite good 'uns. Let me tell you my thoughts.

Firstly, while definitely not my usual cup of tea, I actually think the packaging is cute. For £2.99 a pop, I think Maybelline went in the right direction with the styling, and these will definitely appeal to younger makeup fans. While definitely not the most sophisticated packaging - in fact, it's bordering on childish - these brightly coloured tubes are fun, playful and appeal to my inner child. Similarly, the scent of the balms really take me back to my childhood. As soon as I sniffed Cherry Me I was hit with waves of nostalgia, and after much memory searching, I'm 99% sure that the smell it reminds me of is the scented cherries from Baby All Gone (90's kids, you should remember this!). I can't get enough of it! Pink Punch is fruity, sweet and reminds me of gummy bears. Yum. 

Maybelline claim that Baby Lips offer 8 hours of hydration. Now, this is definitely not the case but they're decent enough. I'd say they need reapplying every couple of hours. They apply nicely - they're much softer than I expected and feel great on the lips. They leave a slightly glossy finish and, if you go for one of the three tinted offerings, a buildable hint of colour. The non-tinted versions have the added bonus of SPF20, so I'm tempted to pick one of those up to see me through the rest of the summer. There's some nice stuff packed into the balms, such as Shea butter and honey, but petroleum jelly is one of the main ingredients which makes me wonder how effective they are long term. As you probably already know, petroleum jelly acts as a barrier to lock in moisture. Sounds good, but while it acts as a great sealant it doesn't actually help hydrate the lips much at all, and after long periods of use it can have adverse effects, making the lips feel drier. I'll still likely be keeping a tube in my handbag as I like the tint and scent, and they're good for short-term relief; I'm just going to make sure to use a more hydrating balm too. 

So... While I'm not completely blown away by these, I do like them and will no doubt get use out of them. They're easy and fuss-free, perfect for days when you don't want to wear much makeup but want a hint of colour or a bit of protection on your lips. Do I think they're over-hyped? Yes. Would I recommend them? Sure. As long as you don't expect life changing results, you'll get along with these cheap and cheerful balms just fine. 

Instagram #9

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finally got my hands on the Seche Vite top coat - loving it so far! / Twister flavoured lip balm. Genius. / Pretty macarons. / Baby Caudalie Beauty Elixir. Adore this stuff. / Happy Meal Despicable Me minion. I am such a child. / Hugo is not a fan of said minion. (video) / Sparkly holiday nails - Barry M Pink Iridescent. / Beautiful turquoise ocean in Tenerife. / My mum, sister and I, slightly tipsy on holiday. / Cliche relaxing by the pool shot. / Reading American Psycho. / Depressing weather to come home to. (video

An Ode To Revlon Lip Butters...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I'm pretty sure that everyone and their mother have heard of Revlon Lip Butters by now. If you don't have at least one in your beauty collection already then I suggest you head to your nearest stockist immediately and rectify this, because they are pretty wonderful. Sitting halfway between a balm and a lipstick, "butter" really is the perfect word to describe the unique consistency - the formula contains mango, shea and coconut butter, resulting in a product that is soft and moisturising on the lips. Wear time is much longer than a regular balm, and although not quite as long as a true lipstick, it's super easy to reapply these even without a mirror. Pigmentation seems to vary from shade to shade, but is generally impressive and can be built up to your desired opacity. They cost £7.99 and are available everywhere, from Superdrug and Boots to Tesco, so they're really easy to get your hands on. Though if you're a big fan, it's definitely worth waiting for a 3 for 2 offer which seem to run pretty much constantly.

Pictured top to bottomCandy Apple is a vibrant true red that is perfect with a flick of black liner for a retro look. I love wearing this when I want a bright red lip but don't want to look too "done up" - the moisturising, balmy texture makes it feel more casual than a regular lippie. Raspberry Pie is a true raspberry colour - a rich, deep pink that gives a bold splash of surprisingly wearable colour. Berry Smoothie is probably my most used of the five. Ever so slightly darker than my actual lip colour, it's that "my lips but better" shade that everyone seems to covet, and is absolutely ideal for everyday wear. Sweet Tart is a girly, fun cool-toned pink. Bright without being garish, it gives a lovely feminine finish on the lips and seems to suit pretty much anyone - ideal for those who usually shy away from pinks. Lastly, Peach Parfait, which was my very first Lip Butter purchase. I find this much more sheer than the rest, and the slight sparkle that runs through it gives it an almost gritty texture, but I think I'll always have a soft spot for the subtle peachy finish it gives - you never forget your first love, right?!

Are you a fan of Revlon Lip Butters? What are your favourite shades?

Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturiser

Thursday, August 08, 2013

A little while back, Origins announced the release of a brand new daily moisturiser for summer. Sitting on the cheaper end of the Origins moisturiser spectrum at a slightly more affordable £23, the GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturiser is a reformulated version of their best-selling eye cream of the same name, and has similarly big claims. Supposedly performing like an "energy drink" for your skin, this gel based cream contains panax ginseng and coffee beans which "jumpstart hydration levels" and help you on your way to a healthy, glowing complexion.

I've been using this moisturiser religiously for the past month or so, and it has left me impressed for a handful of reasons. First up is the scent. For me, the scent of a product is a part of the overall experience, and Origins are the masters of knowing how to make a product smell amazing. The GinZing moisturiser has a zesty, fresh orange scent which is an instant pick-me-up first thing in the morning. Secondly, the light, gel-like texture means that this moisturiser applies beautifully. It has a lovely cooling effect on the skin, sinks in quickly and gives the skin just the right amount of hydration without toppling into oily territory. Lastly, this moisturiser simply performs well. It's like a cool, refreshing drink for your skin - light, hydrating and energy boosting; and it's absolutely perfect on a hot day. It leaves skin feeling softened, brightened and smelling pretty damn amazing! And to top it all off, it's the lowest priced Origins moisturiser of the lot. Undoubtedly a very welcome addiction to the Origins family.

Summer Beauty Essentials

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

There's a small handful of products that I cannot live without in the hot and humid summer months. With the sun threatening to quite literally melt the makeup from your face and turn your hair into a frizzy, unmanageable mess, it's wise to have a tried and tested arsenal of products that will help you battle the conditions. Firstly, and most importantly, is SPF. This summer I'm loving Avene Very High Protection SPF50+. Specially formulated for very fair skin, this cream is super waterproof and has moisturising properties, making it perfect as a face SPF. Another of my summer must-haves is a cooling facial spritz. These are very popular and therefore all over the place at the moment, so I've built up quite a collection, but Caudalie Beauty Elixir is definitely my holy grail. A luxurious concoction of grape, orange blossom, rose, organic balm mint and rosemary; this pore tightening, instantly refreshing spritz gives your face a burst of radiance and has a real calming effect. Hair wise, Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray is the ideal way of cheating that wavy, just-got-out-of-the-sea hair that will have people thinking you've spent the day at the beach even if you live nowhere near the coast. To help fight frizz I've been turning to the Lee Stafford Dehumidifier, which is a new discovery of mine and really does what it claims - a quick spray of this eliminates that fluffy, flyaway look that my hair likes to adopt in summer. Makeup wise, waterproof mascara is a must for me in muggy, sweaty conditions. L'Oreal False Lash Telescopic Waterproof Mascara is my weapon of choice - it holds a curl amazingly and doesn't leave any of those pesky, under-eye black marks. For nails, a good coral is the perfect summer choice. Essie Cute As A Button is one of my favourite summer polishes and has been adorning my nails pretty much non-stop recently. Last but not least, a fabulous pair of sunnies. My current favourite pair are these peach and gold cats eye babies which came from Topshop.

What are your summer beauty essentials?

Inglot Freedom System 3 Shadow Palette

Friday, August 02, 2013

I've been intrigued by Inglot's Freedom System for a while, but as there's no Inglot stockists near me (there's only two in England and both are in the South - boo!) and I was wary about buying online without swatching the products first, I put it to the back of my mind. That is, until last week when I was browsing the Spanish perfume shops while on holiday in Tenerife and, to my extreme excitement, stumbled across a small Inglot counter. Despite a bit of a language barrier, the lady in store explained the system to me - you simply choose your palette type and size, and then individually select the refillable pans of product that you want to include. The pans attach to the palette with very strong magnets, so the finished palette feels very sturdy and high quality, and of course is completely personalised to your individual tastes. Inglot provide a high quantity of shades from subtle neutrals to bold brights, in four different finishes - matte, shine, double shine and pearl, meaning there really is something for everyone. Now, unfortunately, the shade selection at the counter I visited wasn't the best - it was small in the first place and they only had around half the shades in stock - so I decided to go for the the smaller, three square palette. I took my time selecting three gorgeous shades and went away clutching a bag containing the components to make up my brand new, one-of-a-kind palette. 

The first shade, 153 shine was literally love at first swatch. In fact, I think I might have made an audible gasp when I first tested this - it's just so ridiculously pigmented and beautiful! Pictures really do it no justice at all. It's a cool metallic taupy-bronze shade that applies opaque in just one swipe. Swoon. Secondly, I went for shade 395 in pearl, which is a subtle light cream colour with a hint of golden shimmer - close in colour to my own skin tone, making it perfect as a highlight on the brow bone and inner corners of the eye. The last shade was more difficult. I'm definitely a neutral girl at heart and the remaining colours were either very bright, or just not to my tastes. After swatching some of the brighter shadows, I decided to go for shade 366, a matte shadow in a bright coral shade with red undertones (not as terrifying as it looks photographed, honestly!), which I've been using as a blush. With a light hand and my trusty Real Techniques Stippling Brush, it's a great choice for summer.

I am so impressed with these shadows. They're buttery soft and fabulously pigmented - definitely some of the best quality eyeshadows I've used, rivalling even my beloved Urban Decay Naked palette. The soft texture means they work well as blushes too, so don't look over some of the more unconventional shades - many of their pink, orange and red toned shadows make beautiful cheek colours. Throw in the fact that they're excellent value for money (£5 for the palette and £4.50 for each eyeshadow), and I can see why these palettes are often raved about. Now that I'm sold on the quality of Inglot products, I'm think I'll definitely make an online order at some point in the future. I'm currently eyeing up the 10 square palette and daydreaming about creating the ultimate, personalised collection of gorgeous neutral eyeshadows...

Are you a fan of the Inglot Freedom System? What would be included in your dream palette?

And Katie © // QUINN CREATIVEs