A JAUNT TO PARIS

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Last week Joe whisked me off for a short break to Paris for my birthday. Both of us had been to Paris plenty of times, but never together, so it was nice to visit without the pressure of having to do everything touristy and to just mosey about as we pleased.

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We got the red eye Euro-star first thing on Thursday morning and arrived in Gare du Nord before making our way to our hotel. Usually, we stay in an air bnb apartment, but we couldn’t find anything last minute so ended up booking a hotel. It’s without a doubt the nicest hotel in Paris I’ve personally ever stayed in. It was called the Select Hotel and we picked it due to its proximity to one of my favourite areas – Saint Germain des Prés – and because it was only about £100 for the night. We were expecting your standard, run of the mill, cheap hotel, but it was a lovely boutique-feel hotel located on a beautiful square with lots of greenery and stunning water features. It was decorated with lots of exposed beams, quirky art and modern facilities and felt like it should have been much more expensive to stay there. The staff were also incredibly helpful and spoke fluent English meaning I didn’t have to use my pigeon French – trust me, a good thing! 

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After we’d checked into our hotel, we set about meandering around Saint Germain. As I’ve mentioned we weren’t really all that fussed about seeing too much of the tourist stuff, so instead we used our trip to Paris to wander the streets and eat. A lot. We did do one touristy thing, we took a boat along the river Siene which, in the sunshine, was lovely.

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I personally can’t stand the super posh, fine dining restaurants in Paris, and much prefer the bistro scene. It feels a lot less pretentious and the quality of the food is usually up there with the best. We went to La Cuisine de Philippe as it was relatively close to our hotel and I’d heard amazing things. Turns out, it’s probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I started with the lobster soufflé which was absolutely divine, then followed it with a beef and orange casserole main. The beef fell apart and was served up alongside some of the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had in my life (my stomach is actually rumbling as I write this). Finally, I had another soufflé for dessert (overkill perhaps, but the place specialises in soufflés so I had to try a sweet one too) and again, it was just heavenly. Undoubtedly one of my favourite ever meals, even more so because it was very reasonably priced. It cost us about 60 euros each including wine and coffee etc.

It’s worth noting that you’ll need to make a reservation if you fancy eating here (we asked our hotel to do it for us) as it’s a tiny set up with about 10 tables. Philippe, the chef, and his wife run the place on their own. Philippe was such a sweetheart and came out and introduced himself to each table. La Cuisine de Philppe is not a place if you’re after fancy fusion trends and delicate, over the top presentation. It’s a place for really good bloody food, in a laid back, friendly setting.

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Of course no trip to Paris is complete without a good raid of the pharmacies. I’ve spoken about City Pharma on here before, because it really is the best and cheapest pharmacy. I went first thing in the morning and found it to be quieter than normal. As usual the staff were great and the offers on many cult French classics were unbeatable. I picked up a LOT of stuff which if I went through in this post would surely bore you to death, so I’ll be sure to do a separate post in the next week or so.

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An obligatory trip to Sephora was also on the cards. As much as I like the size of the Sephora on the Champs-Élysées, I couldn’t stand the thought of trekking up there, so settled on the smaller, albeit still quite large Sephora’s in the Saint-Germain area. Again, I picked up a few bits so I’ll share what I bought in a post later this week.

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A short, but very sweet trip that reminded me of just why I love Paris so much.

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A CHARLOTTE TILBURY ‘PILLOW TALK’ LIP CHEAT DUPE

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A few months ago I raved about how much I loved the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in the shade ‘Pillow Talk’. It’s a brilliant lip pencil that can transform your pout into one Angelina Jolie would be proud of. I use it every single day and even used it a few weekends ago at my friend’s wedding. Lauren, one of my BFF’s and super talented MUA friend, was doing Amy’s bridal makeup and saw me using the Lip Cheat and asked if I’d tried Essence’s Lip Liner in shade ‘In The Nude.’ It turns out it’s a total dupe for Pillow Talk.

Now I’m not sure how much they cost, because Lauren kindly gave me one of hers, but I believe they retail for around the £1 mark at good old Wilko’s, which is a mega £15.00 saving.  Admittedly, you don’t get the luxe packaging or the beautiful branding of a Charlotte Tilbury lip liner, but for everyday use using the Essence one just makes so much more sense.

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SEVENTEEN ‘HURRICANE’ GEL COLOUR POLISH

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This is a very ‘out there’ choice of nail colour for me. I’m usually a red/nude/pink kind of girl. In other words, I like to play it very safe. So I’m not really sure what came over me last week when I threw this into my Boot’s basket.

Hurricane by Seventeen (Boots own range) is a vivid blue polish and is a complete and utter dupe for Nail Inc. Baker Street which Beyoncé so famously wore. It doesn’t make me feel as sassy as Beyoncé, but it does make me smile when I look at it. It’s such an unusual choice for me – never did I imagine I’d sport bold, blue talons, but sometimes a break from the norm can be a very good thing.

The only thing that slightly irks me is the brush. It’s one of those fat, wide application brushes which I find never allows me to get it as neat as I’d like. Other than that I can’t complain, it’s pretty much spot-on formula, colour and longevity wise! It’s also an absolute steal at £3.99. If you fancy braving the blue yourself, you can pick it up from Boots HERE.

8/10 – Purely because of the daft brush.

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FAKE TANNING FOR LAZY GIRLS

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I’m so much more confident when I have a tan, but I’m also extremely lazy when it comes to fake tanning. I’m not a fan of the smell, the stickiness after applying and the hassle of making sure I get a streak-free finish. St Tropez recently released their Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion, which on reading how it worked, seemed like the perfect solution for us lazy girls. Naturally I picked one up to see if it really was a breakthrough innovation. The process to use is as follows:

  • Wash as you would normally in the shower then switch off the water.
  • Apply the lotion in circular motions all over your wet body.
  • Leave for 3 minutes (at this point I would clean my teeth.)
  • Rinse off, then pat skin dry.
  • It doesn’t actually say, but you wouldn’t be advised to apply any moisturiser once you’re out of the shower.

My first experience of it wasn’t great, in that I followed the process, but I really didn’t notice any difference in colour come morning. It’s worth noting here that I had already been using a gradual tanner every other day at this point so already had some colour on my skin. I woke up the next morning and couldn’t see a difference at all and my immediate thought was ‘I could have spent that £15 on gin. Or lipstick.’

Second time around the same thing happened, but again I still had the remnants of previous fake tanning sessions on my skin, so it came as no great surprise that it didn’t have much of an effect. So here I am typing this after my third experience of using it, where all my fake tan had worn off. I generously applied it last night, but this time set a timer for 4 minutes (they recommend 3, but I was determined to make it work this time) and this morning I have a very subtle hint of colour on my skin. It’s a nice, natural looking colour, as opposed to anything too red or orange, and it’s completely streak free.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I was expecting too much from this product. I was hoping for a significant change in colour, when it’s actually designed to be extremely subtle and built up over several days, so now I’ve accepted it for it it is, I am quite happy with the result. I do have one negative. Perhaps I’m being a bit too happy with the amount I’m using, but after three full body applications  I’m down to about a quarter of tube. I appreciate it’s significantly cheaper to the rest of the St Tropez range, but that works out at around £3.60 an application which when compared with other methods of fake tan, is a pretty penny – particularly for a very light, gradual tan.

Would I repurchase? Yeah I probably will, but only when it’s on offer as it is currently at Boots (£9.67, down from £14.50 HERE). It is, as they say, an innovation in that you can tan in the shower, but I still think the product has some improvements to be made – a pump instead of a squeezy tube to stop it slipping in your hands and a darker colour for a start – but on the whole it’s a decent product that’s essentially a very easy way for lazy girls to add a subtle tan to their complexion.

7/10 – Nice idea, nice innovation, but they need to change it to a pump and up the colour a bit if you ask me.

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THE CLEANSER TO BEAT THE HEAT

ren-cleancalm-clarifying-clay-cleanser-beccy-on-beautyI’m a cleansing balm girl at heart, but the sticky, humid weather has left me wanting something a bit more clay based to help fight the excess oiliness I get in summer. In the winter months I find clay cleansers a bit too harsh for everyday use, but in the summer months, when my skin is feeling particularly grimy, they’re an absolute godsend.

One of the most famous clay cleansers is Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip, but I didn’t get on well with it at all. I thought it was incredibly overpriced and didn’t cleanse well in the slightest. Thankfully it didn’t completely put me off clay cleansers and one that I’ve been loving using recently is Ren’s ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. It’s been SO nice to use after getting in from the hot, sweaty tube.

In terms of where I’d use this in my routine, I’d use it in the morning if it’s been a particularly hot night (i.e. a sweat fest, lovely) or as a second cleanse in the evening. I’d use a balm cleanser to get rid of makeup first, then the Ren Clarifying Clay afterwards. I tend to cleanse my face before I get in the shower, but when I’m using this I’ll massage it in and leave it on whilst I potter about in the shower to let it act as a mini mask treatment.

On a base of Chamomile and Kaolin you can definitely feel the clay content when you massage it in. It leaves my skin feeling really clean, but not stripped. It smells rather nice too, quite spa like, which I always feel to be a good thing as it encourages me to use it more. It costs £19 from most online retailers. I tend to go with Look Fantastic because there is generally some sort of discount code floating around.

So if you’re looking for a clay cleanser to beat the heat this summer this could be it. It’s ideal for combination/oily skin types, but I really wouldn’t recommend it for dry complexions as you’ll probably find it dries your skin out more. For those with super sensitive skin, it does have some irritants in there due the essential oils – just something to keep in mind if you suffer from redness/sensitivity easily.

9/10 – Mainly because of the price. Clay isn’t an expensive ingredient and you could just use a regular old mud mask to cleanse with, but I’m an insatiable product junkie.

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