Shine Bright Like A Diamond

Guys, this is getting seriously out of hand. I actually don’t know how I keep getting invited to these things. This week, in a shocking escalation, I was invited to have a sneak peek at the newest Vashi diamonds collection. Widely recognised as one the leading diamond experts, Vashi Dominguez creates jewellery for a suitably sparkling client list including…as if you are reading this and haven’t immediately scrolled down to check out the diamonds. I could say anything I wanted. Marmalade. Goldfish. I think Paul Bettany is sexy. Sometimes I have cake for breakfast. Phew, feels good to get that out in the open.

And so, to the diamonds. Oh my christ they were beautiful. When Niall texted me to ask how it was going, I think I just responded with variations on the word “sparkly”, all in capital letters, in case he wasn’t quite grasping the sparkle. I do not doubt Vashi Diamonds’ commitment to Sparkle Motion for a second. I decided to try basically every ring on, for science, of course. These are the sacrifices I make for you guys.

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vashi diamondsLook at that sparkle. This was definitely one of my favourites. Made with platinum and boasting no less than 19 diamonds, this gorgeous engagement ring still managed to look delicate and feminine. In fact, this was a running theme through the whole collection. Even the biggest stones still managed to avoid looking tacky. It was all sparkle, no bling. I tried on this ring about 15 times and definitely eyed up the security guard to see if I could take him. I probably couldn’t have.

vashi diamondsThis was my other favourite. With a cool 37 diamonds, this ring was literally hypnotising. It would actually be dangerous for me to own this because I would just spend all of my time gazing at it and walking into things.

vashi diamondsThis blue sapphire will probably look familiar to a lot of you, being based on the infamous Princess Diana engagement ring. I always thought I didn’t really like coloured stones, and then I put this on my finger and never ever wanted to take it off.

vashi diamondsI just couldn’t resist. I challenge you to spend all night in a room full of diamond engagement rings and not stick one of them on that finger, even just for a photograph to give your boyfriend a heart attack.

vashi diamondsBecause you can never have too many diamonds. Modelled by the gorgeous Maria who was beyond lovely and awesome, and I am now fully rocking a girl crush on.

vashi diamondsMe, wearing about a year’s rent on my hands. Sigh. Can we skip to the bit where Niall is making buttloads of money?

vashi diamondsI wish that I could guarantee that “Can I take a photo of your hands?” was the creepiest thing I said all night, but my brain was definitely affected by the sparkle, so I can’t say for sure that it was. Ladies, if you’re reading, I apologise. Give me a wave!

And because a photo was never going to do the sheer sparkle any kind of justice, check this out:

diamondsEven on a truly dreadful iPhone video camera, I dare you not to stare at those babies for a worryingly long time. Only be careful you don’t stare too long, I’m pretty sure the sparkle seeps into your mind. On my way home, I got on a bus travelling the wrong way, and paid £1.45 to ride one stop in the opposite direction I intended to. And then I had to pretend that I got a phone call because I was too embarrassed to just get up and get off. I’m pretty sure the guy beside me was totally onto me. Be careful, with great sparkle comes great responsibility.

Which was your favourite from the collection? Please tell me I’m not the only blogger who feels like I’m constantly punching above me weight? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

The Escapologist’s Daughter is up for two UK Blog Awards! You can vote in the Lifestyle category here and the Young Person’s Recognition category here. I’m not above bribery and I make really delicious cakes.

The Lyndsey Loves Launch

Last week saw a brand new pretty things company launch onto the scene, and it was celebrated with a suitably pretty and glitzy launch at Chloe’s Beauty Bar in Essex. We passed through the velvet ropes and across the red carpet into a veritable wonderland of balloons and bubbles.

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There was glitter everywhere, the champagne was plentiful and in true Essex fashion, the girls looked like they’d been photoshopped. A table at the back showcased the best bits from Lyndsey’s fab collection.

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Everything was beautiful, and I could have scooped everything off the table into my handbag and gone home happy, but here are a few of my favourites:

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Everything was seriously girly and pretty, with enough quirk and edge to stop it becoming twee. I was seriously trying to come up with reasons that I would need a dinosaur lunch box in my life, beyond “I just want it”. And I really do. A lot. As well as the quirky novelty pieces, there was plenty of stylish homeware, including some of the most delicious candles I’ve come across in a while. In fact, I might ask for one in my Christmas stocking this year, if Santa is listening.

The event also gave me the chance to catch up with the utterly wonderful Tara from Headline Beauty Blog and Vicky from Rambling Makeup, as well as bumping into a whole host of new blogging faces who I hope to see again soon. I had such a lovely night that I stayed far too long and had to run for my train in my completely unsensible shoes. Thanks for having me Lyndsey – I had a ball!

Can you think of a reason I would need a dinosaur lunchbox? This is important guys. Get in touch in the comments or @EscapologistGl.

The Escapologist’s Daughter is up for two UK Blog Awards! You can vote in the Lifestyle category here and the Young Person’s Recognition category here. I’m not above bribery and I make really delicious cakes.

The Bloggers Love Hub

Apologies that this post has taken a week to get up, I had a very important young man’s 90th birthday to attend. Tonight is the last of four Bloggers Love Hubs, and I was lucky enough to go along to last week’s.

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London’s Kanaloa club buzzed with bloggers and brands, the air was filled with the clicking of cameras, the clinking of glasses and chatter. Impossibly beautiful men and women haunted every corner of the club, sampling the latest goodies from up and coming companies. For the first time, I felt a little bit of a Mean Girls atmosphere, which I haven’t experienced before in the blogging community. The other bloggers were nice, but in the kind of way you’d be nice to your friends uncool little sister. Now I know that I don’t look, speak or act like a lot of bloggers, so this definitely, absolutely might be me projecting my insecurities onto other people. I’m very good at self confidence on paper, less so when I have to do it for real. But I’m definitely going to keep going to events and working on it…someday I’ll feel comfortable walking in these blogger shoes!

Okay, pep talk over, let’s get to the good bits.

Sniffy Wiffy

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Sniffy Wiffy was definitely my brand of the evening. Created by the lovely Sarah and her husband, their product is a line of delicious body lotions with a twist. After hearing that breast exams were best performed on slightly slippery skin, Sarah launched her collection of lotions, each labelled with detailed instructions on how to check your breasts for abnormalities.

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They have a brilliant range of scents, with sweet, floral and fruity notes to suit every taste. I was particularly fond of the Kiwi and Lime and the Orange Blossom, and took home a little tub of Mango. They also have body scrubs, massage oils and hand creams with the same fabulous scents, as well as a new line for men with instructions on how to check your testicles. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, a portion of the profits from Sniffy Wiffy are donated to the cancer charity Coppafeel. I absolutely loved chatting to these guys, and loved their products just as much. Everyone I know is so getting one of these moisturisers for Christmas.

Colour Chase Lipsticks

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Colour Chase does exactly what it says on the tin – they have a line of gorgeous, colourful makeup in crazy unusual colours. The look of these lipstick is pretty editorial, but with purple, orange and yes, even blue, becoming a common sight on the streets of London, it could only be a matter of time before lipstick moves past the reds and pinks we’re all so used to.

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I haven’t actually had the guts to wear mine out yet, mainly because I don’t think it’s exactly office appropriate, but I gotta admit I like it. I don’t quite have the lipstick skillz yet to build up properly opaque coverage with such a bright colour, but I’m sure I’ll get there with a bit of practice. The formula feels lovely, moisturising and smooth and not chalky at all. I haven’t had the chance to test how it wears, but I’d imagine that a colour like this will probably be pretty high maintenance. I’m not sure how the paler colours would work on my skin tone, but I like the look of the purples and even that teal in the top left is looking pretty tempting.

Hifas da Terra

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I love beauty, and I’ve read more about it than is really advisable for a single person. So it’s always fun to discover something completely new. Hifas da Terra is a brand entirely based around the benefits of mushrooms. I know. Mushrooms. Mushroom skincare, mushroom candles, mushroom chocolate. Each chocolate has a different health benefit, provided by a different type of mushroom. I sampled all of them, of course, for science purposes. Needless to say, they don’t taste of mushrooms. In fact the pieces of mushroom felt like crunchy pieces of biscuit or wafer within the chocolate. I felt your toes collectively curl at that, but trust me, they’re delicious. I’ve got a little tester of one of their skincare soaps which I haven’t had a chance to try yet, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated over on Twitter. I’m also dying to try out their massage candle, which smelled incredible.

The Charcoal Spa

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Charcoal is one of the hottest ingredients of the moment, in fact I’ve been having loads of fun trying out a black charcoal toothpaste. Activated charcoal is heated to create inner space, or pores, which can suck out and trap impurities from your skin. Chulo Naturals have created a skincare line based around this magic ingredient. I’m hoping to get my hands on their face mask at some point soon, see how it does with my super fussy princess skin.

Matthew Calvin

blogger event londonMatthew Calvin has designed an absolutely beautiful line of jewellery. Each piece is hand crafted and bears that unusual touch of Matthew’s designs. I’ve never been much of a ring person, but his pendants were so beautiful that I stood at their table gazing at them for far, far too long. In a world of chunky jewellery, I love the look of tiny pendants. They’re dainty, they’re ladylike, and you can wear a bunch of them at the same time if you can’t pick your favourite. His latest collection is based around meteorites, which made me feel pretty damn smart when, by chance, I commented that the pendant looked like a little asteroid. A stunning silver meteorite on a sparkling diamond cut chain…this is a man who knows his way to a geeky girls heart.

Have you ever been to any blogger events? How do you guys keep your nerve in a room full of beautiful people? What’s the weirdest beauty brand you’ve ever come across? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

The Escapologist’s Daughter is up for two UK Blog Awards! You can vote in the Lifestyle category here and the Young Person’s Recognition category here. I’m not above bribery and I make really delicious cakes.

The Good Skin Diaries*

No surprise, I love beauty products. In a lot of ways, I might not be your stereotypical girly girl, but when it comes to lipsticks, nail varnishes and pretty things, throw me right in there with Barbie. And nowhere is this more true than with skincare. I am an absolute skincare junkie. Reading about other people’s skincare routines is like meditation to me. Seriously, hit me up with your skincare post links. I will read all of them. I have read more skincare articles than is really reasonable for any ordinary person, so when I was given a goody bag chock full of skincare lovelies, I was beyond excited to try them out. I’ve noticed a big swing towards Korean inspired skincare of late, and I love the care, the impressive number of products, the sheer ritual of it. So I decided to take my favourite products from the goody bag, throw in some of my other favourites and devise my own Korean inspired regime to test for six weeks to see if I noticed a difference in my skin.

(Shoutout to Charlotte Cho from Into the Gloss and Kerry from Skin and Tonics for inspiring this routine. You can check out their info on Korean skincare here and here.)

Without further ado, here are my before and after photos:

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Before on the left, six weeks later on the right.

Firstly, I’d like to point out that I didn’t do these photos very well. Past me is totally cheating by having lipstick on and her eyebrows done. Also, she is not wearing a pyjama top. But just concentrating on the skin, hopefully you can see a difference. The redness around my forehead and nose has pretty much disappeared, and my skin generally looks a lot brighter and glowier. But the biggest difference I’ve noticed is in how my skin feels. The lumps and bumps and dry patches have totally vanished, and my skin is now so soft and smooth that I spend a considerable amount of time stroking it and undoing all the good work of my skincare routine. I feel confident enough to go to work every day with just a slick of mascara on. And clothes, obviously. And when I do wear makeup, it goes on beautifully, and doesn’t flake off of my face five minutes after I’ve put it on.

So what have you been doing, I hear you cry. Hold your horses, we’re getting to it. Go put the kettle on and grab a cup of tea…there are a lot of steps, so it’s gonna be a long one.

The Double Cleanse

korean inspired skincare routine double cleansingThe idea behind double cleansing is that you use a thick, oily cleanser to remove makeup and surface dirt from your face, and then follow that with a cleansing milk or foam to thoroughly clean your skin. I’ve been starting with Lush’s famous Ultrabland cleanser. I bought a little tub of this at Fashion’s Night Out and have already been back to buy a full size tub. I love it. The cleanser itself is as soft and thick as butter, and totally melts away all of my makeup. Made with almond oil, beeswax and plenty of other moisturising lovelies, this leaves my skin feeling clean, not tight or squeaky. I spend a couple of minutes massaging it into my face and wipe it off with a microfibre facecloth.

For my second cleanse, I’ve been using Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme, which I received in the Build A Beauty Blog goody bag. Formulated especially for dry skin, this cleanser replaces the common chemical exfoliant AHAs with the apparently gentler PHA. Usually cleansers leave my skin feeling a couple of sizes too small for my face and send me running straight for my moisturiser. But not this one. This one leaves my skin feeling healthy and cared for. I rub this in circles around my face and remove with a microfibre facecloth.

I only cleanse my face like this in the evening, to take off my makeup and the general dirt of the day. Contrary to what this post might suggest, I do think it’s possible to overload your skin with products. In the morning, I stick to plain old water.

The Essence

missha treatment essence korean skincare

I don’t like toners. There, I said it. Most of them dry out my skin and the others don’t seem to do much at all. The only toner I’ve ever used and liked was Elemis Apricot Toner, and that was mainly because it smells like dreams and sunshine. And apricots. But Korean toners, or essences are designed to moisturise your skin, not to cleanse it further. The First Treatment Essence by Missha is supposed to boost cell turnover, making your skin brighter. I’ll be honest, despite glowing reviews, this is the product I think has made the least difference to my skin. But it feels nice on my face, so I’ll stick with it and see how it goes! I pat this into my skin with my hands, to avoid the product waste that comes with cotton pads.

The Moisturiser

korean skincare routine moisturiser

This moisturiser was another one from the goody bag, and as you can probably tell by its half emptiness, I’m loving it. Rajeunir Moisture Serum was designed for over 40s, but that’s not putting me off repurchasing it one bit. It’s light and absorbs quickly, without compromising on moisture at all. It has definitely smoothed out my skin a lot, and has even sorted out my poor, terribly neglected neck. You only need a tiny bit as well, I’ve been using one squirt on my face and one squirt on my neck, morning and night for six weeks and I’m only halfway through my bottle. If you fancy investing in a bottle of this, and I’d really recommend it, the lovely people at Rajeunir have offered a 30% discount to all my readers! Just enter the code “escape” at checkout for your discount.

The Night Cream

korean skincare routine night moisturiser

I got a sample of Inlight Organic Night Balm in the goody bag from Antonia’s Twitter for Success workshop. Having looked it up and discovered that it carried a price tag of £52, I was praying that it wasn’t going to work. Imagine how devastated I was upon waking up the next morning with the skin of a newborn. Seriously, I think this night balm might contain unicorn blood and black magic alongside its nourishing oils. This is the product that saw the most immediate noticeable difference in my skin. I’m not wild about the way it feels on my face – it really is very oily – but I guess that’s what you get when you’re covering your face in a moisturiser primarily made of oils. And with results this good, it is a really, really minor complaint.

korean skincare routine night moisturiser

True love.

My skin feels literally plumped up the morning after I use this, and has started to actually glow for the first time in my life. I can’t rave about it enough, it really is amazing. I have really dry skin, so my skin drinks this stuff up, but if you have oily skin, it might be best saved for a weekly treatment, rather than a nightly moisturiser. Listen to your skin, it generally lets you know what it likes.

The Exfoliator

korean skincare exfoliator

The Resurfastic face stic was one of my original favourites from the Beauty Blog goody bag and my love for it has not lessened one little bit. The resurfastic is a hydrating microdermabrasion stick, exfoliating skin with medical grade crystals and soothing with ingredients like aloe, chamomile and cucumber. I’ve been using the stick once a week, between cleansers. I wet the stick and rub it gently over my face for about a minute, then rinse the crystals off. Obviously, if your skin doesn’t like physical exfoliation, you’re best sticking with chemical exfoliants like the ones in the Exuviance cleanser, but I find my skin needs a bit of physical scrubbing every now and then. After I use the resurfastic, I find that I can literally rub dry skin off of my face, which may be slightly gross, but is oh so satisfying. And it leaves my skin feeling like silk. This and the night balm are the main culprits of the aforementioned face stroking. So. Damn. Soft.

The Sheet Mask

Sheet masks are a regular part of Korean skincare routines. The thin material masks are soaked in skin saving ingredients, which then soak into your skin. I was given three Timeless Truth sheet masks to try out, and have loved all of them. They’re amazing for leaving your skin feeling fresh and pampered, and you get to scare the hell out of your loved ones by looking like this:

korean skincare routine sheet mask

The Charcoal Brightening Mask was my favourite of the three, but all three were awesome.

The Magic Potion

skincare smoothie healthy skinade

As well as putting lots of things on my face, I’ve also been given something a bit different to try out. Skinade is a collagen drink, which claims to improve skin from the inside out. I’ve been making raspberry and mango smoothies in the morning (I know, super fancy) and adding my Skinade sachet to that, but it can be diluted in a plain glass of water if you’re not into smoothies. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Skinade, but after just ten days of using it, my skin feels fuller and my pores have basically disappeared. So that’s pretty awesome. I have about a month’s supply left, so I’ll be sure to keep you updated over on Twitter.

So that’s what I’ve been doing to my face over the past six weeks and I’m pretty chuffed with the results. I also try and stick to the basics. I never sleep in my makeup, try my best to get eight hours a night and drink as much water as I can. This is my good skin diary – tell me yours!

What are your good skin secrets? Tell me, and send me all your sheet mask selfies, in the comments and @EscapologistGl.

The Escapologist’s Daughter is up for two UK blog awards! Vote in the lifestyle category here and the under 25s category here. I’m not above bribery…

*Some of the products in this post were gifted for purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!

Nine.Six.One Boutique Launch

I walk past the door at first, looking for a sign. You can tell I’m still getting used to this London life. After a couple of steps I stop and backpedal. I look again at the open door, black paint bubbling and peeling, stairs leading down a scarlet corridor inside. I check the address. I’m in the right place.

This week saw uber cool Mayfair haunt Cafe Kaizen throw open its doors for the launch of pop up fashion boutique Nine.Six.One. I enter the venue through the heavy door at the foot of the stairs and am met with a strange and wonderful sight. The room is dimly lit, the fairy lights strewn around picking patches of colour from the bright walls. The roof is a knotted mass of exposed piping. An enormous blossom tree stands in the centre of the room, clothes and jewellery hanging from it like fruit. A bar stands to my right, laden with cupcakes and cocktails. And all around, I’m surrounded by beautiful clothing, jewellery and accessories.

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Nine.Six.One aims to showcase a unique and eclectic collection of work from exciting up and coming designers, and do they deliver. From the stunning fusion handchains of Trousseau Jewels, to the incredible boxy handbags from Peau Feroce, there is enough on show to please the palate of any discerning fashionista…as well as the imposters like me, of course. But there is one designer who knocks my little socks off: Nour Najem. Nour is one of those women who is almost too beautiful to look at. I finally understand what Carly Rae Jepsen was on about. And if it sounds like I’m fangirling, it’s because I am.

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Nour was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and uses this cultural identity as inspiration for her designs. In an industry absolutely rife with cultural appropriation, it is amazing to see a culture being represented in such a subtle, authentic way, inviting us to share in and appreciate it. Nour’s whole ethos is about preserving and celebrating her local heritage. In fact, she has set up an NGO, Kenzah, which aims to make sure that traditional artisanal crafting skills are passed down through generations of women in Lebanon. Where these skills were traditionally honed by men, Nour is inspiring marginalised women to develop them, and using their skills to add accent and heritage to her collection. And what a collection it is. Both the colours and the fabrics clash and contradict beautifully. Rough wool is layered over fine satin layered over pretty chiffon. Burnished gold lattices and details lift the inky tones of the clothes. They are wonderfully unusual and oh so gorgeous.

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This is my absolute favourite piece from the collection – I’m pretty sure it’s the dress that Nour herself is wearing at the launch event. It’s basically perfect in every way, and I am devastated at my Broke Girl status, which sadly puts it well out of my price range. Some day. Some day.

As a bonafide angry feminist, I love to see women empowering and supporting other women…and when that support results in clothes this beautiful, you better believe I’m on board. I’m still amazed that I’m being invited to events like this…I keep expecting someone to turn around and be like “Hey, are you lost?”. But everyone is so unbelievably lovely, and I leave with a handbag full of business cards and a head full of pretty pictures. Thanks for having me, folks.

Did any of you make it to the Nine.Six.One event? What was your favourite thing from the night? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

Caring For Curly Hair

Me and my hair have a somewhat…fraught relationship. In a lot of ways, I’d be lost without it. It’s my security blanket, sometimes my defining feature. If I’m meeting someone for the first time, I tell them to look out for the curly redhead. But sometimes, I spend hours fantasising about shaving the whole lot off and wearing fabulous wigs for the rest of my life.

Curly girls, tell me if you’re nodding yet.

For the entire duration of my teenage years, I looked like this (far right):

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I know, I know. The braces, the fringe, the waistcoat…but for now, let’s focus on the frizz. This would have been after approximately an hour of wrestling with my hair straighteners. An hour of tugging and sizzling and frying to still look like an honorary member of the hair bear bunch.

Fortunately, once I got into my twenties, my hair started to calm down a bit. But by this point, I was too far gone. My love affair with my hair straighteners had been going on so long that I just didn’t know how to end it.

And then my hair started falling out.

Now, not to get all dramatic on you, this was mainly to do with stress, not my straighteners. But I’ll tell you, nothing gives you a kick up the arse like standing in the shower holding a handful of your own hair. So I had to embark on the terrifying journey of working with, not against my natural curls.

Moisture is the enemy of frizz. The drier my hair is, the fuzzier it gets, so my haircare routine basically involves pumping as much moisture into my hair as I possibly can. Your hair might be different, so it might take a while to find a routine that you and your curly hair love, but it’s so worth it.

These are the products that I’m loving at the moment:

curly hair care products

Before I get in the shower, I detangle my hair using this guy:

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The mighty Tangle Teezer.

If you have thick hair and don’t own one of these, go buy one immediately. I bought mine after my hair started falling out, because I wanted something a bit gentler on my hair than my normal brush. It gets all the tangles and knots out so easily, and there’s hardly any breakage at all. I brush my hair out carefully – this is the only time a brush or comb comes near my hair when I’m wearing it curly, so I try to make it count!

I’ve been using Lush’s Trichomania shampoo bar to wash my hair. I started using their solid shampoo bars after getting Seanik as a present and haven’t looked back. Trichomania is packed full of coconut oil, to boost your hair’s protein content, leaving it soft and smooth. It lathers up really well for a shampoo bar and smells gorgeous.

Once a week, I use a deep conditioner. Right now, I’m using an Argan Oil one that I got at Savers. Fun fact: argan oil isn’t actually very good at penetrating hair strands, so it’s better as a finishing touch than a deep conditioner. For deep conditioners, you might be better looking at something like coconut oil or shea butter, which are very good at penetrating the hair cuticle. But, for whatever reason, this conditioner plays nice with my hair, so I’m gonna stick with it. Slather your hair generously in conditioner, wrap it in a towel to keep the heat in and have a wee cup of tea.

curly hair deep conditioner

After about ten minutes, I hop back in the shower and rinse it off.

When I’m not deep conditioning, I use Biolage Matrix Conditioning Balm. I love this conditioner so damn much. It’s seriously thick, so if you’ve got greasy hair, definitely give this one a miss, but it absolutely melts through my hair and leaves my curls beautifully soft and moisturised.

Once I’m out of the shower, it’s plunking time! Plunking, or plopping, is a method for drying curly hair and it works fabulously for me. It allows your curls to dry in clumps and lets them form their curl pattern as they dry, without gravity pulling them into weird assed shapes.

When I get out of the shower, I squeeze the excess moisture out of my hair and pat it as dry as I can with my towel. Do not turn your head upside down and attack it with your towel. Seriously, if I find any of you roughly towel drying your hair and then complaining that it’s frizzy, I will come over there and push you off your chair. Curly hair is a precious little princess and should be treated as such.

Then, I run a smoothing serum through my hair. Just now, I’m using Twisted Sista’s Different Strokes Smoothing Serum, but any curl defining or smoothing serum should work.

To plunk my hair, I lay a pillowcase out on my bed. A microfibre towel or cotton tshirt will also work. I tip my head upside down, arrange my curls in the middle of the pillowcase, fold the material over the top of my hair and roll the sides into big sausages down the sides of my head. I pull the sausages round the back of my head and secure them with a hairband. This is sort of difficult to describe without images, so I made a handy video to show you how it’s done!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zufO8PTH3ik]

Ooooh, video!

After half an hour, I take down my hair and scrunch in some mousse. I love the V05 Smoothly Does It Curl Defining Mousse – it’s definitely the best mousse I’ve used. Then I put my hair back up in a dry pillowcase and sleep on it.

plopping or plunking curly hair

This is a very sexy look.

In the morning, if it looks a bit mad, I’ll put it in a plait while I have breakfast.

Et voila! Beautiful, bouncy, pampered curls.

curly hair care

Curls! And my pumpkin, because I miss him.

Fellow curly girls – tell me your secrets! Are there any amazing products I need to know about it? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl!

The Escapologist’s Daughter is up for two UK Blog Awards! If you like to read my posts, you can vote for me in the lifestyle category here and the young person’s category here.

Wintery Nights In

This weekend was the weekend of the big Clissold Park fireworks display. I was pretty excited about this, since I love fireworks, love Clissold Park and love any excuse to wrap up warm and cuddle up with the manthing.

My excitement rapidly dwindled when I saw that tickets to the display were £7.50 a pop. As you may have gleaned from all my Broke Girl Guides, I don’t have a huge amount of spending money right now, and paying to see something that is visible from pretty much anywhere didn’t sit all that well with me. Besides, as it turned out, the display was to take place on a thoroughly miserable, rainy November night. So Niall and I decided to watch the display from somewhere a bit cosier.

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The sound of the rain pattering against the windows was interrupted with the crackling of fireworks from displays stretching all across our horizon. The air was thick with the smell of gunpowder and smoke, and our stingy attempts at heating couldn’t quite keep the November chill out of the flat. I made hot dogs and popcorn, Niall poured me a big assed glass of wine, and we settled in to watch the fireworks.

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Clissold Park wasn’t the only display taking place that night, and it seemed like every direction I looked, the night sky was filled with sparks and colour. Watching them like that, holed up warm and safe from the rain with my favourite person, was perfect. Of course, Niall’s attention span is considerably shorter than mine, so I stayed glued to my window, the portrait of Wendy Darling, long after he wandered off. In fact, only the lure of the Doctor Who season finale was finally enough to pry me away from the beautiful dancing lights. I’ve always thought fireworks had a little magic in them, and still gasp like a little kid when those big, gorgeous gold ones go up. But it looks like I’m not alone there. Even now, I can still hear defiant fireworks exploding outside my windows, and the smell of gunpowder is sharp in the air. Bonfire night might be past, but who says we can’t hold on to the magic of a wintery night in?

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Did you brave the weather for your fireworks display? Were your fireworks photography attempts more successful than mine? Get in touch in the comments, or at @EscapologistGl.

Best Foot Forward

Today was just one of those days, you know? Glassy blue skies, that crisp November nip in the air. Despite the cold temperatures, I just couldn’t help but feel like it was going to be a special day. Maybe it was seeing the amazing Wrap Up London campaign finally take off. Maybe it was just the chance of a little sunshine. But whatever it was, I was feeling good. I was running ten minutes early. Even the crush of the London tube commute couldn’t dampen my spirits.

Then, as I was coming out of the tube station, I slipped. Or at least, I thought I had slipped. But as I took another step and felt the cold pavement caress the bottom of my foot, the full, tragic extent of the situation dawned on me.

boot

The sole of my shoe had come almost entirely detached from the boot itself, all the way back to the heel. I stood, commuters jostling around me, with one very chilly foot, and wondered what to do. Obviously, strolling into work like this just wouldn’t do. I limped over to the side of the pavement and sent off a quick email to my boss, explaining the situation. I waited with baited breath for an e-P45 to land in my inbox, but thankfully, it never arrived.

Fortunately, this most unfortunate of events took place on Tottenham Court Road, a street completely lined with shops. I was confident I would have a new pair of shoes in no time. Considering the puddles on the ground, I decided it would be most prudent to keep my mangled shoe on. So off I set, walking like a drunk flamingo, half of my shoe flapping jauntily in the breeze, while surrounding tourists practically swallowed their own tonsils trying not to laugh.

Do you know how many sofa shops there are on Tottenham Court Road? 16. How about sushi takeouts? 5.

Take a guess at how many shoe shops there are.

Not one goddamn one. I hit the Oxford Street Primark before I could find salvation. And had to negotiate two escalators to get to the shoe floor. It was like the worst episode of Gladiators ever.

And with that, the magical feeling had gone.

Wrap Up London

Those of you who know me well will know that I love my bed. Seriously, for me, sleeping could be considered a hobby. I am the least morningy person you’ve ever met, and generally need a good eight hours sleep and two cups of tea before I’m even vaguely conscious in the mornings. So what, in the name of all that is holy could possibly prompt me to get out of bed at 5:30am on a normal working day?

wrap up london

This week is Wrap Up London, an amazing event run by Hands On London, where coats and jackets will be collected at tube stations all across the city and donated to people in need. After my recent experience with one of London’s homeless people, you better believe this would get me up at 5:30am.

wrap up london

A Wrap Up London volunteer braves the commuter crowds.

The campaign doesn’t collect money at the tube stations, they just take those old coats that are gathering dust at the back of your wardrobe and give them to someone who might get cold this winter – whether they are homeless, women fleeing abuse, victims of trafficking or suffering from fuel poverty. A simple, but beautiful idea.

I caught up with Volunteer Coordinator, Alice to chat about the campaign.Alice has been part of the Wrap Up London campaign since it began four years ago, joining as a lowly intern and staying part of it ever since! The great thing about Wrap Up London, she says, is that it’s a charity with such an immediate, tangible benefit. Wrap Up London volunteers are collecting coats that the owners no longer need or want and giving them directly to the people who need them. Every single coat donated means that one more person stays warm this winter. She’s right. That’s amazing.

For the record, last year’s campaign collected just under 17,000 coats.

wrap up london

Team leader Louise bags up one of many generous donations.

I ask her about her most inspiring Wrap Up London moments, and I challenge your heart not to warm at them. She told stories of people collecting coats from their whole streets and driving them to collection points. Others collected in their work and showed up with entire shopping trolleys bursting with coats. But her favourite story was that of a man who walked past the collection point, backpedaled, took off his coat and handed it to the volunteers, saying, “I need to buy a new one anyway”. Upon seeing this, the man behind him remarked that this was a great idea and proceeded to do exactly the same. For a city with a reputation for being cold-hearted, London, I am damn proud of you.

There are collection stations all over London this week, running from 7am until 11am, Wednesday – Friday. If you have an old coat that you’ve been meaning to get rid of, please do consider donating it to this amazing cause. Drop it off on your commute, get your good deed done before 9am, feel awesome all day and help someone get through the winter.

wrap up london

This photo was taken at 8:30. Look at the bags already full behind them.

For more information on Wrap Up London collections, click here! You can also follow Hands On London on Twitter, and get involved with the campaign using the hashtag #WrapUpLondon.

Give a coat. Warm a heart.

Twitter for Success With Antonia Mariconda*

Having worked in social media for a year, I consider myself to be pretty Twitter savvy. I know my #ffs from my #tbt, and I’ve got retweeting totally down. I also know a little bit about how to build a following and what kind of content to be posting.

But I have got nothing, NOTHING on Miss Antonia Mariconda.

(I hope you all have I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston stuck in your head now, because I certainly do.)

I met Antonia at her Build A Beauty Blog workshop last month and she was lovely enough to ask me to come review her Twitter for Success workshop.

antonia mariconda workshop

Note to self: learn how to pose to avoid enormous moonface.

Stop licking your screens, I’m not giving you her mobile number.

Say what you like about Antonia (although it better be nice or I’ll fight you), but she puts on one heck of a spread.

antonia mariconda twitter workshop

I arrived at half past nine to a table laden with baked goods, colourful fruit and delicious raw juices. Take note everyone, feed me and I might get out of bed for you too. The room quickly filled up with people and chatter, everyone excited to hear the holy grail of social media marketing revealed.

antonia mariconda twitter workshop

The workshop soon got underway and the three hours absolutely flew past. Ranging from hilarious anecdotes to tips that we could immediately put into practise, Antonia’s presentation was a whirlwind tour of everything you ever needed to know about Twitter. We found out how to grow an audience, how to post 100 tweets a day, why you should never get involved in Twitter mudslinging and so, so much more. Despite having a massively diverse audience in terms of Twitter experience and ability, she catered to every single one of us and managed not to alienate anyone. Whether you were trying to get your head around retweeting or trying to get more engagement from your ten thousand followers, her advice was relevant, useful and instantly implementable. Sadly, this was Antonia’s last workshop of the year, but a little bird told me that she has very exciting plans for the New Year and I’m hoping to be learning more from her again soon.

*Mushy music*

On a personal level, I am so, so grateful that somebody as successful as Antonia is taking the time to care about a little startup blog like mine, just because she likes the way I write. She knew a huge number of the workshop attendees by name, greeted all of us like old friends and repeatedly stressed how happy she was to offer help and be used as a resource. Technical wizard Mark and PR guru Jenny were equally awesome and forthcoming, and Mark has been extremely lovely despite receiving an email from me regarding self hosting that essentially amounted to “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING OH GOD HELP ME”. Instead of casually issuing a restraining order, he has taken the time to help. Seriously, the world needs more people like that and I feel really lucky to have met them.

Just like the last workshop, I left feeling excited, energised and with a to do list as long as my arm. If you get the chance to see Antonia speak, please, please do go along. It’s not even an exaggeration to say that in two workshops, she might have changed my life.

antonia mariconda twitter workshop

Have you been to one of Antonia’s workshops? Who inspires your blogging? Get in touch in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was gifted a ticket to this event for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!