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25 February 2014

Exploring Calton Hill | Live Your Life #1

I've been inspired to venture out and do things and visit places I've never explored before. I'm 18 years of age and it suddenly hit me a few evenings ago that there is a whole world of places and activities out there which I only have a limited amount of time to experience. Life is short after all, so I thought I'd start a little series of new places and activities I try out to help you feel motivated to do something different too! It doesn't have to be something extremely spectacular or extravagant like travelling every country in the world, or bungee jumping off a bridge (both, I would love to do), but just things like a sport you haven't tried, or a place in your city or town you've never been to before. It can all be done right on your doorstep!

I live in Edinburgh and I have so for my whole life. I don't live right in the city centre, however, since commuting to and fro Uni everyday, I've realised I haven't explored the place I call home enough. 

So, today I took a little trip up to Calton Hill. I'd never been there before, but it is always in my view whilst sitting on the top of a double-decker bus along Princes street. Despite the weather being pretty crap, I enjoyed a quiet little spot at the top of the hill and witnessed the most amazing views of the city. 

Let me know if you have visited somewhere/started a new activity recently, I'd love to hear your stories!

18 February 2014

High Street Haul | Primark, New Look and Boots

Does anyone else intend to go shopping for once specific item and come home with everything but the item you were looking for? That happened to me today. I'm desperate for some new shoes for work, however, clearly everything but work shoes caught my eye and this is what I ended up buying!

I was in need of most of the stuff I bought, so my splurge wasn't all that bad. :)

I picked up a smart black bag from Primark. I'm attached to my CĂ©line Paris Luggage knock-off, however I'm so overprotective with it (even though it was only around £20!) and tend to pick it up only when I'm going somewhere a little fancier. I actually noticed FayesFix over on YouTube had the same bag and instantly fell in love with it- it does look very similar to Zara's city bag and for $12, the quality isn't too bad at all.

The simple black bag has smaller handles and also a longer removable strap if you wanted to carry it on your shoulder. The inside of the bag is surprisingly very roomy, it opens and closes with only a popper button as well as two slightly smaller compartments at the side which close securely with a zip. I'm hoping to wear this bag to University when I'm wanting an outfit to look a bit more put together- however, I'm not too keen on the design when it comes to carrying my laptop. I definitely don't feel too comfortable storing my laptop in the main compartment and the securer sides are a bit too tight for it to fit (boo!).

I've been looking for a new purse for a while; the one I use usually is very small and I always end up getting notes caught in zip as I have to fold them into tiny squares (first world problems!). I picked up this gold purse with delicate patterned material from New Look for only £9.99. 

When unzipped, the purse has two sets of card compartments capable of holding 12 cards as well as a section for notes and coins in the middle. It's definitely going to take a while for me to get used to carrying around a bigger purse, this time I can actually carry all my cards in one place instead of selectively picking which cards will fill the 5 card slots in my old purse beforehand- result!

If you followed my Roaccutane posts, you'll know Eucerin's Dermo Purifyer Adjunctive Hydrating Care moisturiser was a staple product in my skincare routine when I was on the drug. Post-roaccutane and it's still securely in my routine; I love how it's oil free, has SPF and is a brilliant moisturising base underneath make-up. It is a little pricey at $9.25, but it does last a good month or two and is well worth the price.

Finally, I picked up a liquid concealer. I usually use Rimmel London's Hide The Blemish stick concealer, however I found it a little drying and hard to blend, so I picked up an old favourite, Maybelline's Dream Touch Lumi concealer in Ivory. I've used this before and it's brilliant for covering up dark under-eye circles as well as blemishes. 

I'm thinking of trying Collection's Lasting Perfection concealer as I've heard great reviews. Have you tried it before? Which concealer do you think is best for covering blemishes?

11 February 2014

Valentine's Day | Outfit

* Dress - Forever 21 *
* Heels - New Look *

I bought this dress last week when I was shopping in London and I'm absolutely obsessed with it. It's a navy blue dress, with 3/4 length sleeves and a beautiful fuchsia-pink floral pattern. There's also a criss-cross design with the material at the back of the dress, which adds that little bit extra to outfit-  very Brandy Melville esque! I paired the dress with some simple black heels.

The make-up I decided to wear with this outfit was my Valentine's eye make-up look which I blogged about yesterday. You can take a look by clicking the link HERE.

If you're like me and want to stock up on chick-flicks and fill the freezer with ice cream in preparation for Valentine's Day (#ForeverAlone), remember it's not all about spending time with just a partner- show your family and friends some love too! I hope you all have a great Valentine's day <3

10 February 2014

Valentine's Day | Eye Make-up (Feat. Urban Decay Naked Palette)

With Valentine's Day only a few days away, I've come up with a quick and easy Valentine's smokey-eye look. It features shadows from the beautiful Urban Decay palette, which I'm absolutely obsessed with at the moment. 

Keep your eyes peeled for my blog post tomorrow where I'll be showing you the outfit I chose to wear along with this eye make-up look.

I got the Urban Decay Naked palette for my 18th birthday last year, and it's most definitely something I look forward to using when going on a night out. The colours are very varied, ranging from subtle pinks, essential bronzes and even midnight blues.

The three shades I will be using for this look are Toasted (1), Hustle (2) and Sin (3).

I started by priming my eyes with the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. I find my eyeshadow lasts a lot longer when using this product as a base, and it prevents the shadows from creasing too.

Using my Real Techniques Domed Shadow brush, I covered my lid with Toasted. It's a beautiful pink colour with gold undertones. Usually, I find pink shadows a little daunting and out of my comfort zone, but this shade is a really subtle pink and I love the bronze shimmers throughout.

Next, I added Hustle into the crease of my eye with the eyeshadow brush that came with the Naked palette. The brush is quite pointed, which makes it easier to apply crease shades as you can really control where the shadow is going. Hustle is a gorgeous, basic, dark-brown shade which I think compliments Toasted really well. After dotting Hustle into my crease, I blended it out using my Real Techniques shadow brush again. I also added a little bit of Hustle to the outer half of my bottom lash line to bring together the look.

I then used Sin in the inner part of my eye to brighten the look. Sin is a shimmery pale-pink, which I think works well when added to the inner part of your eye to make your eyes look wider and more awake. 

I opted for a pencil eyeliner to line my top lash line, but a liquid liner could also be used as an alternative. I love Rimmel London's Exaggerate waterproof liner as it stays on for ages and doesn't smudge throughout the day, but it does also look great when smudged with the applicator on the end. I lined my upper lash line and added a tiny cat-eye flick to the end.

Finish off by adding a coat of your favourite mascara (I used Maybelline's The Falsies Volum' Express mascara) and you're ready to go!

As my eyes are quite dramatic, I opted for a natural lip and applied Nivea's Pearly Shine, which is a lip balm with a stunning nude pink tint.

Let me know if you enjoyed this post and if you'd like to see any other looks featuring the Naked palette- I love it! 

What are your plans for Valentine's Day?

6 February 2014

How To Look After Your Make-up Brushes | Cleaning & Tips

Ideally, make-up brushes should be wiped clean with an old T-shirt or cotton material after each use, and cleaned thoroughly every week. I've been a bit lazy in the cleaning field recently, and I've actually been breaking out quite a lot because of it. So, I finally spent a quick 10 minutes cleaning my make-up brushes and it's made such a difference to my skin and my make-up has been blending more effectively too. 

What you will need (clockwise from the left):
- Baby shampoo. I find Johnson's baby shampoo does the job, is cheap and a bottle lasts ages.
- A clean bowl/ a container to wash your brushes in.
- Kitchen roll/ a towel to rest your brushes on after they've been washed.
- Dirty make-up brushes! 

To begin with, soak your make-up brushes in lukewarm water to prepare them for washing.

Next, prepare a mixture of around a pea-sized amount of baby shampoo and a few drops of water and begin to swirl your dirty make-up brushes in the mixture. I do this for about a minute, making sure to scrub the brushes against the bowl to work off some of the product.

You may need to repeat step 2 if your brushes are exceptionally dirty. I re-made my mixture and continued washing until the water was clear, soapy and there were no traces of make-up from the brush in the bowl.

After your brushes are clean, remove any soapy suds by running the brushes under lukewarm water.

When you're finished, tap your brushes against the end of the sink to remove any excess water and lay them on a towel, or kitchen roll.

I prefer to wash my make-up brushes before I go to bed, as they usually take a good few hours to dry, and they'll be ready to be re-used for make-up application in the morning. 

Other tips:
- Take caution when storing your make-up brushes. Your make-up bag is full of bacteria, and storing your make-up brushes there will only make them dirty and clogged with bacteria. Invest in a brush organiser or make your own by using an old coffee/hot chocolate container.

- Never use a hairdryer to dry your brushes. The heat from the hairdryer will damage the bristles and weaken the glue at the base of the brush. If you know you'll be using your make-up brushes a lot one week, try and clean them in advance and give them proper time to air dry.

- If you use synthetic brushes (for cream/ liquid product application such as lip gloss, cream blush, concealer etc), you'll need to use an alcohol based cleanser (No7's is great) to clean your brushes, as this will help break down the waxy ingredients.

- Don't store your brushes upright when they're drying. Too much water at the base of the brush can damage the glue binding the brush hairs together, which may lead to them losing their shape. Make sure your brushes aren't dripping wet after washing and leave them to dry next to a window or on a towel.

Looking after your brushes will save money in the long run and keep them looking (and working) at their best!

For more information about how to clean your brushes, visit the real-techniques blog at

1 February 2014

A Little Boots Haul!

I feel like I haven't had a proper look in Boots this year, as I'm still working my way through the products I was given as gifts during the Christmas season. So, this afternoon I spent a good hour or two in Boots looking through all the new products on the shelves, and here's what I came away with.

I picked up a mixture of essentials and some new finds. I haven't tried the newer finds yet, but if any of the products are worth a buy, I'll be sure to write a review on them for you later on.

Dove Hair Therapy Nourishing Oil Care Regenerating Mask
I recently had a few inches cut off my hair after I realised how dry and split the ends were. As the Christmas period was very busy, I was a little bit lazy when it came to treating my hair. So, I picked up Dove's Nourishing Oil Care Regenerating Mask in particular as it contains Argan Oil. At the end of last year, I purchased Tresemme's Liquid Gold Argan Oil and I absolutely love it (look out for a review later), so I have high hopes for this product. From opening the lid, the texture is very thick and it smells amazing, I've heard Dove products are really good for restoring hair, so I'm excited to try it.

Eylure Dybrow (black)
I normally get my eyelashes dyed at a beauty salon, but I only tend to go during the Summer as it can be pretty pricey. I was swaying between Colorsport's 30 day mascara and Eylure's lash dye, but after reading some reviews on line, Eylure's came out top. I was a little bit concerned why Eylure changed the product name to Dybrow, but it turns out due to EU regulations, manufacturers are no longer able to place oxidative tints in their products for eyelash use, so it can only be sold for eyebrow use (concerning?). I don't think the dye will be as strong or effective as the ones used in salon's, but considering it's only £7 for a whole year's use, I thought I'd give it a go.

Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime Biotin+ Volume Shampoo and Conditioner
I spotted these on a promotional stand in Boots and thought I'd give them a try. My hair tends to adapt to shampoos and conditioners when I constantly use them, so I feel like switching them up every once in a while is good to bring some life into my hair. I have quite fine hair, but lots of it, so I'm hoping Schwarzkopf's Biotin+ shampoo and conditioner will help give it a little bit of volume, especially considering my hair is quite heavy as it's long.

Max Factor Masterpiece Max Mascara (black)
If you read my everyday eye make-up routine post, you'll know that I always wear waterproof mascara to help hold the curl in my eyelashes during the day. I quite like to use a non-waterproof mascara on my bottom lashes, to give them a break from my usual waterproof Maybelline mascaras, as I feel like it's not always necessary for my bottom lashes. I've used Max Factor's Masterpiece Max mascara before and I love the wand as the bristles are very thin and defined, making it easy to coat all the bottom lashes. It also doesn't smudge either, which is always a bonus.

Rimmel London 60 Seconds (clear)
I am obsessed with Rimmel's 60 seconds nail polish collection. I find they are the best quality nail polishes, which dry really quickly and last a long time too (for a really affordable price!). I was running out of clear nail polish, so I picked this up while I was passing.

Have you had a look in Boots recently? Are there any new products you've purchased or have your eyes on?
Copyright @ Alix Staines.