Monday, 28 October 2013

Loving Laura Mercier

I first discovered Laura Mercier's 'Silk Creme Foundation' last year and have loved it ever since - I think this is about my fifth tube!  When I recently visited the Laura Mercier counter to repurchase 'Silk Creme', I took part in a promotion that allowed me to buy two products and pick a third for free.  I chose the Shimmer Bloc in 'Mosaic' and Lip Glace in 'Ambre Rose'.

'Silk Creme' provides amazing coverage, has a natural, luminous finish and lasts all day.   It photographs beautifully, especially under flash photography which makes it my go to foundation for nights out. You can read my more in depth review of 'Silk Creme' here

I absolutely love highlighting powders; some of my favourites include Dior's 'Amber Diamond', Smashbox Soft Lights in 'Shimmer' and M.A.C's Mineralize Skin Finish in 'Soft and Gentle'. However, Laura Mercier 'Mosaic' may have pushed its way straight to the top.  The shimmer bloc is comprised of four shades that can either be used individually as eye or cheek products or swirled together to add radiance to the face.

The compact comprises of four shades: a bronze, a gold, a taupe and a champagne which, when used together, gives the appearance of a golden peach.  I've used 'Mosaic' as my highlighting product every day since I've bought it and can't believe how pretty it is.  When using 'Mosaic' on the cheek, it's important to use quite a light hand to avoid it looking too shimmery.  When used with a fluffy brush, the finish is a really pretty, natural sheen which you can see below.  I've also used the champagne shade in the inner corner of my eye.

'Ambre Rose' Lip Glace is a very pretty, rosey bronze lip gloss, perfect for everyday wear.  I love the Laura Mercier Lip Glace formula as it doesn't move around on the lips and avoids any sticky or gloopiness.    'Ambre Rose' is quite an opaque gloss as you can see below.  While it does contain a gold glitter, this is fine enough to prevent any grittiness and helps keep the lips looking glossy and shiny.

What are your favourite Laura Mercier products?

Love Nic

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Rouge d'Armani 601 Plum

Every time I try a new product from Giorgio Armani, I fall more and more in love with the brand.  I recently bought one of the Rouge d'Armani lipsticks in 601 'Plum' and it is one of the nicest berry shades I have ever owned.

The Rouge d'Armani lipsticks have been designed to bridge the gap between long lasting colour and providing comfort and hydration.  The formula is extremely long lasting.   By the end of the day, 'Plum gives the appearance of a stain which I love.  Unlike other long lasting formulas I have tried, it's very comfortable to wear and is not drying on the lips.  When first applied, 'Plum' looks quite glossy before drying down to a satin finish.

The formula is quite sheer but can be built up to be quite opaque on the lips.  I love how versatile this makes the lipstick - you can either dab it on lightly to give the appearance of a stain or you can apply it more liberally, creating a more opaque finish.  The shade is beautiful; when used lightly the lipstick gives the appearance of a light berry colour, however when applied opaquely, it is a true plum

Have you ever tried any of the Rouge d'Armani lipsticks? 

Love Nic

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Best Carrot Cake

On a miserable, rainy Sunday afternoon there is nothing I love better than keeping cosy indoors, and one of my favourite things to do on such afternoons is bake.  I was recently challenged by to recreate one of the recipes from the site.  I deliberated over finding the perfect cake recipe and decided on the 'Best Carrot Cake'.  I absolutely love carrot cake, especially at this time of the year.  As the recipe makes two loaves, I decided to change it up a little and make one loaf and 12 carrot cake cupcakes!  There's a brilliant video on Baking Mad which demonstrates how to make cupcakes, which really helped.

To make this carrot cake, you will need:

5 Eggs
350g Light Muscovado Sugar
400ml Ground Nut Oil
400g Self Raising White Flour
2tsp Cinnamon
2tsp Nutmeg
400g Grated Carrot
200g Sultanas
200g Chopped Walnuts

For the cream cheese frosting you will need:

250g Unsalted Butter
100g Cream Cheese
600g Golden Icing Sugar

The recipe is very straightforward to follow:

1. Preheat the oven to 150C or Gas Mark 2 and grease 2 regular loaf tins with butter and baking paper (I only lined one and filled a muffin tin with cupcake cases)

2. Add the sugar, eggs and oil to a bowl and whisk until combined.  Mix the carrots into the mixture with the walnuts and sultanas.

3. In a separate bowl sieve the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Fold the flour into the egg mixture until combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin(s) and bake for 40-45.  Halfway through cooking, use a sharp knife to cut lengthways along the top of the loaf to create a dome like effect.  Once cooked, remove from tins and allow to cool on a wire rack,

5.  For the frosting, cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add in the icing sugar and pop into the fridge to firm up.

6.  When firm take a palette knife, and holding the loaf in your hands, spread the frosting on, starting at the side and then piling high on top.  Smooth over the frosting for an even finish.  

My loaf ended up taking about an hour to cook - to ensure it's cooked, stick a cocktail stick through the middle of the loaf and when it comes out clear, the cake is cooked through.  For the cupcakes, I baked them in the oven for 25 minutes - they will feel a little 'spongey' to the touch but this is normal. I beat my cream cheese icing together for several minutes to make sure it's extremely light and creamy.

As a cupcake, this recipe is extremely light where as it's a little denser as a loaf.  The cake is filled with  sultanas and walnuts, giving the cake texture however, you could easily omit either of these according to your tastes.  Also, for the cupcakes, I decorated them with a walnut and a sprinkling of cinnamon.  

There are lots of new recipes I want to try from Baking Mad - their chocolate brownie recipe looks delicious!

Lots of Love

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Review: Sleep-In Rollers

One of the best discoveries I've made since starting blogging is velcro rollers.  I absolutely love big, voluminous hair (You can read more in this old post) and to date, the best  I have tried are the 'Sleep-In Rollers'.

'Sleep-In Rollers' are by far the easiest to apply, the comfiest to wear and most secure rollers I've tried.  As you can see above, the rollers are extremely flexible and filled with sponge, which supposedly helps you sleep in them.  I haven't personally tried this and I'm not sure I  ever will as I'm such a fussy sleeper, but they are so comfortable to wear during the day and don't tug at my hair.  

In preparation for a night out, I normally apply the 'Sleep-In Rollers' in the morning and get on with my day (at home, I'm not as brave as others to brave it outside with my rollers in).  I've cleaned my whole house wearing these and not once has a roller fell out.  With other velcro rollers, I spend the whole day trying not move my head in fear of them all falling out.  'Sleep-In Rollers' are so light to wear that I pretty much forget that I have them in.  After leaving my rollers in all day, I'm truly left with huge hair that I can mould into any voluminous hair style I wish.  They work especially well with the Glitz and Glam hair piece I blogged about last month.

However, I particularly love 'Sleep-In Rollers' for when I have plans mid week after work.  As my hair is quite fine, by the end of the day it can look a little flat and lifeless.  All I have to do is pop the rollers in for an hour or so while getting ready and when I take them out my hair looks bouncy and freshly washed - it's a hair care miracle! I've found that adding a little 'Dust It' into the roots of my hair and fringe before applying the rollers really helps and keeps the volume in my hair all night.

In this photo, I let my hair air dry 80% and then blow dried it to help with frizz.  I then sprinkled some 'Dust It' at the roots, popped the 'Sleep-In Rollers' in for about an hour and was left with big, bouncy hair without using a lot of heat.

Lastly, how amazingly CUTE is this cat ear hairband from River Island?  Allowing me to bring a little Halloween spirit to my wardrobe without walking about in full fancy dress .

Lots of Love

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Benefit Stay Flawless 15 Hour Primer

A good primer has been a staple in my make up bag for the last couple of years. Some of my favourites include Laura Mercier's Oil Free Primer, Arbonne's silicone based make up primer and Smashbox 'Photo Finish'.  Until recently I had yet to try any of Benefit's primer products, despite reading so many rave reviews.  I'm not as concerned with the appearance of my pores as I am with the longevity of my make up, which led me to try their newest offering: 'Stay Flawless'.

'Stay Flawless' is a stick primer that is applied directly onto the face before applying foundation.  Benefit recommend applying foundation immediately after the primer, blending the two together as this helps the primer act as a 'magnet' for your base products.  I've found that it's easier to work in sections as the primer dries down quite quickly.

When applied to the skin, the primer feels extremely soft and silky and my foundation applies smoothly and evenly.  Benefit claim that 'Stay Flawless' will help 'lock on your foundation for 15 fresh and flawless hours'.  However with an oilier skin type, my foundation began to wear by about 1 o'clock in the afternoon: 6 hours after I first applied it and as I left work at 5 the foundation I had applied on my chin and forehead had completely disappeared.  I tried again the next day and set my make up with Urban Decay's 'De-Slick' which held up a little better.  However, on it's own, 'Stay Flawless' was not suited to my skin type - it would work more effectively on someone with a normal to drier skin type as it did improve the appearance and application of my foundation.

Overall, I really liked the innovative packaging and application of 'Stay Flawless' with the twist up stick and I loved how it made my foundation first apply and look. Sadly, I just don't think it's suited to those  with an oilier skin type.

Have you tried 'Stay Flawless'? What is your favourite primer?

Love Nic