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:

korean inspired skincare routine

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!

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):

curly hair care

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:

curly hair care tangle teezer

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.

Build-A-Blog Goodies: Miscellany*

Welcome back to the Great Goody Bag Trawl, 2014! Yesterday, we talked about the amazing workshop run by Antonia Mariconda, and the skincare goodies that I found in my goody bag. As a major skincare junkie, I was thrilled at the lovely face pampering products in the bag, but there were also loads of other things to play with, and today is the day to try them out!

Quick goody bag reminder:

beauty blogger goody bag popart glossybox

The Base Makeup

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Sadly, being the human equivalent of Casper the Friendly Ghost, the Beauty UK CC Cream and the Essence Soft and Natural Makeup were too dark for me, and I figured it’d be pretty unfair to show off a potentially great product by uploading a picture of me looking like Snooki. But be sure to follow me over on Twitter and I’ll retweet any reviews that my fellow workshoppers put up! Or, if you’d like to try them out yourself, give me a shout in the comments and I can send them to you.

However! The Rimmel Matte BB Cream in light was just about perfect for my skin, so I decided to give it a go. I’ve never tried a BB cream before, so was excited to try this one.

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This is me with absolutely no skin makeup on. I have fairly good skin, with no major breakouts, but as you can see, I have a pretty uneven skin tone, with red patches on my nose, forehead and cheeks, as well as shiny skin from worshipping at the altar of Dominos too much.

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This is me wearing the BB cream (and nothing else). I was pretty impressed with how much this evened out my colouring and generally brightened up my face. It also has SPF 15, which is a big, big plus for me – I pretty much never wear sunscreen, even though I know I’m going to end up with a face like Alex Salmond if I don’t start. To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced that BB creams aren’t just fancy tinted moisturisers, but either way, this would be great if you’re the kind of girl who likes a little coverage but doesn’t want the feeling of a face full of makeup.

self tanner

We were also gifted this Gorgeous Bronze self tanner, but due to aforementioned ghostiness, I decided that the medium/dark shade probably wouldn’t be very flattering on me. So again, keep an eye on my Twitter page, where I will be sure to retweet any reviews from my less pigmentally challenged friends. And if you guys would like to give this a go and tell me what you think, let me know down in the comments!

The Eyes

I’m a little nervous when it comes to eye makeup, I’ll be honest. Having deep set eyes means that a lot of the time, eye makeup will make me look like I’ve been punched in the face. But mascara is my absolute desert island must. I can take or leave foundation and lipstick most days, but you will seldom see me outside without a quick swipe of mascara, so I was excited to have not one, but two new mascaras to try out!

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In the name of science, and to avoid having more pictures of my face than absolutely necessary, I decided to try both mascaras at the same time and compare. In this photo, the So Susan Flutter Mascara is on the left and the Essence Lashes Go Wild is on the right.

This looks like the poster for some avant-garde theatre.

This looks like the poster for some avant-garde theatre.

I was actually glad that I put both on at the same time because I don’t think I’d have noticed the difference as much if I was looking at them separately, but looking at them side by side, it was obvious that the Lashes Go Wild gave me significantly more length and curl. Both mascaras went on beautifully, with no clumping and both are lovely and black. The So Susan Flutter mascara lives up to its name by giving you pretty, natural, fluttery eyelashes, but if you’re like me and like a little more oomph, I’d recommend the Lashes Go Wild mascara. Both products are also cruelty free, which is amazing for you animal lovers out there.

As well as the two mascaras, our goody bags also contained pretty eyeshadow duos from Essence in irresistible smoky eye.

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The palette contained two shades, a silvery-lavender highlight and a dark slate-grey shade, perfect for creating pretty smoky eyes. I had a bit of a heart attack when I saw the dark colours, but the shadows actually go on much softer than they look in the palette.

Swatches, dry.

Swatches, dry.

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Swatches, wet.

The shadows can either be applied as normal, or can be applied with a wet brush for more intense colour payoff. I applied the highlight all over my eyelid with a fluffy brush and then pressed the darker shade into my lashline and round the outer corner of my eye for a natural, girly look.

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The shadows were just dark enough to provide a bit of definition and bring out the green in my eyes, while avoiding that classic fist-in-the-face look. To my surprise, I actually really liked this palette.

The Nail Polishes

I am obsessed with my nails. I absolutely love painting them, and tend to let them grow until it becomes physically difficult to carry out everyday tasks before I cut them.

nail polish review

This is the Ciate´ London Paint Pot in talent scout and oh my lord I love it. I mean, do I even need to say anything? Look how great that colour is. It’s the quintessential Daphne from Mystery Inc purple, and what more do we really need in life? The nail varnish comes with a nice big brush (small nail varnish brushes are a serious pet peeve), meaning the full nail can be covered in three strokes. It dried quickly and only took two coats to hit a glossy opaque finish. Go buy this guys, seriously, it’s great.

nail polish review

This is the Essence Colour & Go Polish in snazzy pumpkin (I didn’t know that was the name of it until right this second and I’m so damn happy), and was I ready to hate it. I took one look at this bottle and got ready to write it off. I mean, who wants nails the colour of a traffic cone, right? Turns out that I DO, all day, every day, for the rest of my life. This colour, which looks hilarious in the bottle, is absolutely beautiful on. It manages to be simultaneously funky and pretty and looks totally kickass with pale Casper skin. It also took ONE COAT to be totally opaque, in comparison with my Nails Inc orange, which takes at least three or four. I am in love. My nails are so very, very happy with this goody bag.

The Perfume

Well, there was bound to be something in the gift bag that I didn’t like, and I’m sorry to say, dear readers, that we have reached that point. I’m gutted that I didn’t like the Yves Rocher Quelques Notes D’Amour, because it came in the most adorable tiny packaging I’ve ever seen in my life. And I am a sucker for tiny packaging. The blurb for this perfume claims that it will recreate the feeling of falling in love through sensuous rose and patchouli. For me? Not so much. This perfume reminded me a lot of Dior’s classic, Poison, which I’ve also never liked, so if you love Poison, it might be your dream come true! I did like the scent better the longer I wore it, it softened and lost it’s sharpness, and the woodiness started to come through, but I don’t think it’ll be becoming a regular on my dressing table. As if I have a dressing table and not an unorganised box in my wardrobe.

The Miscellany

There are a couple of products that haven’t gotten a shoutout yet, because I think they’ll need more than one use to get to know them properly, including a genuinely terrifying tongue scraper.

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So if there’s anything you’re curious about from the goody bag that I haven’t mentioned yet, do keep an eye on my Twitter page, where I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts as they happen. All in all, this was a bloody amazing goody bag, and has done a great job of introducing me to new brands that I think I’ll be investigating in the very near future (hello, Essence!). Very happy, very pampered, very lucky.

What’s the best goody bag you’ve ever gotten? Did you all know about Essence already and now think that I’m super-lame? Should I just man up and get a Glossybox subscription? Chat with me in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was gifted these products for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!

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Build-A-Blog Goodies: Skincare*

Having spent a thoroughly glamorous morning learning the secrets of beauty blogging at Antonia Mariconda’s Build-A-Beauty-Blog event, I spent a thoroughly unglamorous afternoon making my way home in a monsoon. By the time I arrived back at the flat, I looked like this:

girl blogger

Not ideal.

I was soaked, shivering and definitely ready for a bit of TLC. Fortunately, the goody bags at Antonia’s events are basically legendary, so I had plenty of supplies at my fingertips to play with!

beauty blogger goody bag

face masks skincare popart glossybox

Excellent point number one. The inclusion of a Glossybox meant that I had a box within a box to open. Seriously guys, there is nothing I love more than opening parcels.

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So then, when inside that box, I found another adorable little parcel, I basically lost it.

glossybox inside

I disapprove of straightening your hair more than once a day, so enjoy my big hair.

I have a whole lot of stuff here to talk about, so in the interests of shorter-than-Moby-Dick length blog posts, and because I don’t like to put makeup back on my skin after facialing it up, today, I’ll be looking at the skincare goodies in my bag!

(Obviously, I won’t be able to tell you about the long term effects of these products because I’m not magic, so I’ll do a follow up post at the end of the month to let you know how my skin is liking them. Follow up posts, woo!)

Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme

exuviance cleanser review

I’ve been having lots of luck with the Lush Ultrabland cleanser I got at Fashion’s Night Out, so it’s going to take a heck of a cleanser to knock that off its perch. The Exuviance Gentle Cleansing Creme boasts a conditioning ingredient list, including Polyhydroxy Acid, a supposedly gentler chemical exfoliant than our beloved AHA’s. I applied a small pump of the cleansing creme to my face, massaged in for a minute and then removed with a microfibre face cloth. Interesting side note: this cleanser smells exactly like Bailey’s. It actually made me grin when I squirted it onto my hand. I’m not sure what that says about my relationship with Bailey’s, or whether this will put you off, but I liked it. The cleanser took off my makeup without leaving that horrible squeaky clean, my-face-is-three-sizes-too-tight feeling. As someone with seriously dry skin, this is fairly rare and very much appreciated. The cleanser left my face clean, soft and glowy…which is basically everything that I’m looking for on first use.

Resurf.A.Stic Face

resurfastic review

The old school deodorant look of this stick initially put me off, but actually, this is one of my favourite things I tried today. For those of you who still like a bit of physical exfoliation, the resurf.a.stic face combines gentle microdermabrasion with moisturising ingredients. I know there has been a big step away from physical exfoliants in the skincare community, but my skin does pretty well with it. If you have really sensitive skin, or have had a bad reaction to physical exfoliants in the past, I’d maybe give this one a miss. The exfoliation is gentle, but you can feel it. To use, you simply wet this stick and rub it all over your face in circles. This felt pretty weird, I’m not gonna lie. And I could feel little pieces of skin collecting on my face, which was gross, but weirdly satisfying. BUT. When I rinsed the product off and felt my skin, my jaw actually fell open. It felt like I had been bathing in the blood of unicorns. But I hadn’t. I’d been rubbing a deodorant microdermabrasion stick on my face. I’ll keep you posted on whether my skin reacts to this throughout the month, but for now, I’m one very happy, very smooth bunny.

Etre Belle Liplift Peel

How scary does this sound?! But since I was exfoliating my face, I figured I might as well give my lips a go as well. Time to confess to my worst ever beauty habit: I bite my lips. I don’t mean in a cute, Anastasia Steele, aren’t I so sexy way. I mean I will literally gnaw pieces of skin from my lips. I’d love to say I do it when I’m nervous, but I do it all the time. I think I might have mild dermatillomania. This does not leave them in the best state: bleedy, chapped lips are not a good canvas for lipsticks. Despite this, I always thought that lip scrubs were one of those things everyone said you needed, but you don’t really. I am converted. One minute with this scrubby mixture sitting on my lips and they were as smooth as I can remember them being. Big thank you to Glossybox, who included this in their gift bags.

Timeless Truth Bio-Cellulose Apple Stem Cell Collagen Mask

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Anyone with an interest in skincare will have noticed the influx of Korean inspired skincare of late. From double cleansing, to snail gels, to the incorporation of essences and serums, Korean skincare is where it’s at. And sheet masks are no exception. Sheet masks are soaked in skin conditioning ingredients, which are then transferred into your skin. This particular one uses stem cells extracted from apples to help repair damage and moisturise unhappy skin. And if that didn’t convince you, you get to look like this for 20 minutes:

sheet mask review

Quid pro quo, Clarisse.

Scaring the everloving Christ out of your boyfriend is optional, but very much recommended. I put this on my newly scrubbed skin and relaxed with a cup of acai berry tea from Slimming Solutions. I’m not trying to lose weight, so don’t know how good my review of the tea will be, but it tasted yummy, is apparently a superfood and adds to my burgeoning tea collection, so I sipped away on it quite happily. After 20 minutes, I peeled off my mask (so much fun) and massaged the remaining apple serum into my face. Not being a skincare expert, I can’t vouch for the magical properties of the ingredients, but they left my skin looking plump, bouncy and healthy. Lovely. I’m saving the other two for my flight to Australia at the end of the year.

Nuxe Masque Creme Fraiche De Beaute

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This was another Glossybox offering – thanks Glossybox! This mask is a 24 hour moisturising mask from luxury French brand Nuxe. The mask smelled strongly of roses, so if you aren’t a fan of floral scents, I’d skip this one. I enjoyed it though, it made me feel like Mary Pickford. Not enough like Mary Pickford to actually eat a rose, but then, she was a gorgeous movie star, so what do I know? I massaged the mask into my skin and let it sink in for 10 minutes. I really liked the way this mask felt on my skin, it was really cooling and refreshing.

Rajeunir Moisture Serum

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I finished up my facial with a quick squirt of Rajeunir’s moisture serum. I don’t normally put this many products on my face all at the same time, but I was so excited to see all of them there! Although the Rajeunir line is primarily directed at women (and skin-conscious men) over the age of 40, I figured everyone could do with a bit of extra pep in their skin. This rich serum sunk into my skin pretty much immediately – although admittedly, I do have very thirsty skin. It smoothed out, plumped up and softened my skin, and left it looking bright and healthy. I only used a tiny squeeze of this serum, a little really does go a long way!

(Rajeunir have very nicely given my followers a 30% discount until the end of November with the code “escape”. So if you fancy giving it a go, now’s a good time! Click here for the serum.)

At the end of my routine, I was pretty darn impressed with how soft my skin felt. Seriously, I’ve been walking around stroking it, which, ironically, is one way to guarantee bad skin. Keep your hands off your face, people.

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Not looking too bad, for a barefaced girl. Check back in at the end of the month to see which products I’m still loving, and which ones have fallen off the cart. And I’m lazy, so I can guarantee there will be casualties.

Tomorrow, I’ll be tackling the rest of the beauty bag…wish me luck!

What’s you skin holy grail? Have you ever repurchased something you got in a goody bag? Tell me about your skincare routines and please send me sheet mask selfies either in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

*I was gifted these products for the purposes of review. All opinions are completely my own and completely truthful – promise!

Build-A-Beauty-Blog Workshop, With Antonia Mariconda*

Today, I went to my first ever blogger event.

*Humorous sound effect of cherry being popped*

I put on my best beauty blogger outfit, packed my notepad and my grown up girl lipstick in my bag, and headed for the Soho hotel.

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Apologies for the blurry photo – my mirror is dusty because I am a sham of an adult.

I arrived at the very chic Soho hotel, tucked away behind the hum of Oxford Street and was directed to the Indigo room. The Indigo room was basically the pinkest room I’ve ever been in, but I’ll forgive it since it boasted the snazziest wallpaper in the world.

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Get a load of that. The room was buzzing with beauty bloggers and industry professionals, all here to learn how to build a successful beauty blog from a serious beauty heavyweight.

I picked a table, and somehow, in a room of 40 people, in the middle of London, managed to pick a seat next to a fellow Glasgow girl. We chatted and got to know the other ladies at our table, all while tucking into some lovely breakfast goody bags.

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The bag contained loads of yummy snacks, and I wasted no time in scoffing a white chocolate and macadamia Clif Bar and a carton of pineapple coconut water. That’s right, I got to drink coconut water and pretend like I was fancy. Will let you know if I wake up looking like Beyonce tomorrow.

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I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the texture of coconut water, and I have to say, I kind of see what they mean. It’s almost oily in texture, but it tasted pretty good, plus, you know, Beyonce.

Then our host, the lovely, lovely Antonia Mariconda took to the stage, and spent the next 3 hours explaining, inspiring and giggling with us. With the help of tech wizard (official job title), Mark Bugg and freelance PR Jenny Pabila, Antonia took us through the basics of building a successful beauty blog from the ground up.

Confession time: I had a preconceived idea of what Antonia was going to be like. Despite absolutely adoring beauty products, spending far too much time reading beauty blogs and being a staunch lipstick feminist, I still had a harmless, but undeniably prejudiced idea of what she would be all about. And she absolutely blew me out of the water. By talking about her own experiences, as well as those of some inspirational women in the room, she reminded me that blogging is about growth and inspiration, about your journey through the world, and that sometimes, something as simple as a beauty product can turn everything around. She was so much more than the glossy, superficial beauty queen I had expected. And she reminded me that beauty and blogging can both be good for the soul. Yes, I got mushy. I went there. Deal with it.

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Mark doing his thang.

The trio covered every stage of blogging, from knowing when you’re ready to blog, to using WordPress correctly, from developing your voice, to managing your relationships with brands and companies. Antonia cut in with anecdotes of the things that she had done right, as well as things she had done very, very wrong. She was brilliantly, hilariously candid, and wasn’t afraid in the slightest to use herself as a bad example. The presentation managed to contain tips that were as relevant for bloggers just starting out, like me, as they were to bloggers with 5,000 followers who were looking to take it to the next level. All three speakers were warm, funny and I totally wanted to take all of them for a pint afterwards. I learned some amazing tips, but more than that, I left feeling like I could take on the world. I felt like everything was out there, just waiting for me to reach out and grab it. I wanted to write. I felt…oh god, I don’t even want to say it but there’s no other word…empowered.

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To save this post from being approximately 4000 words long, I decided to chop it up into sumptuous little bites that you can peruse at your leisure. Stay tuned for the next post, what you all really wanted to know…what was in the goody bags (Part 1)(Part 2)?

What’s the best blogger event you guys have ever been to? Who gave you career changing advice? What inspires you to blog? Chat with me in the comments or at @EscapologistGl.

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

Happy Hair Days With Stunt Dolly

Exciting news everyone – I got a job! Sure, it’s only for a month, but it means for the first time in about a year, I have a bit of money to spend on me. There was never any doubt about where my first spend would be, the second I put down the phone with the recruiter, I picked it up again and booked myself a haircut.

Stunt Dolly is the kind of place that doesn’t really exist in Paisley. Exposed brick walls, rich wooden panelling, sleek styling chairs and an abundance of aromatherapy candles give this place the air of a tiny spa, smack bang in the middle of Dalston. Stepping through the doors, you immediately forget about the commuters, fruit sellers and neon signs all jostling for space at Dalston Junction.

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Photo from the Stunt Dolly Instagram.

Photo from the Stunt Dolly Instagram.

I was ushered inside, sat on the ridiculously comfortable couch, and along with the usual offer of tea and coffee, was also offered a glass of wine. These people are my people. However, having spent the entire day yesterday getting squiffy with one of my lovely cousins, I decided to save that for next time.

Important note: I am seriously socially awkward. Sitting in a chair making small talk with a stranger for an hour is basically my worst nightmare. Whenever I go for a haircut, I usually bury my nose in a book, raising my head only to answer questions that I can’t avoid. For some reason, Stunt Dolly was different. From the second Manny shook my hand, I felt totally at ease. We chatted through my hair wash, as he cut, and even, at points, battled with the hairdryer. I didn’t reach for my book once. These guys are lovely.

Now, I have a lot of hair.

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This is lots of fun for swishing around, but tends to elicit somewhat strained, terrified laughter from hairdressers. Manny was literally the first hairdresser I’ve ever been to who wanted to give me a style that looked great with my curly texture, not in spite of it. He chopped away, thinning it out, getting rid of the dreaded triangle-head and left me with beautifully shaped, light, bouncy curls.

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I left feeling totally pampered, utterly chilled out and looking pretty damn gorgeous, in my own very humble opinion. Less than an hour had passed since I walked through the door. Seriously, I can’t even blowdry my hair in under an hour. I have come to the conclusion that Manny was probably a wizard. Today is definitely a good hair day.

The Broke Folks’ Guide To London: Fashion’s Night Out

This week saw the glamourous and gorgeous of London descend on the shopping district for a night of fun, fashion and freebies. Enjoy that alliteration, I did it just for you guys. That’s right, it was time for British Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out.

At first glance, I might not seem like the best fit for Fashion’s Night Out.

Everything in my wardrobe is at least two years old.

The vast majority of photos on my phone are failed selfies, deemed too embarrassing to ever see the light of day.

And I’m so skint that my dad took pity on me and topped up my Oyster card for me last week.

But I do love a good night out, and I thought, why shouldn’t the broke girls of London be represented? Note: these people can smell poverty, they really can. But if you can hold your own in a little River Island dress among a sea of Chanel and Mulberry, and feel totally fine quaffing the free champagne and sailing purchaseless past cross security guards, go for it.

Problem number one: I had nothing to wear. I raided my wardrobe and decided that you can’t really go far wrong with a pretty dress.

Tah-dah! My pretty little dress.

Tah-dah! My pretty little dress.

I examined my outfit from every angle, only to be completely ignored by the majority of people I encountered. Seriously, even the flyerers didn’t see me half the time. They can sense the high street coming off me.

I called my driver and had him take me to Oxford Street.

My driver is so darn generous.

My driver is so darn generous.

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Yes, that is a portable Elemis spa. I seriously considered it, but figured that it would probably be unwise having spent the past 45 minutes carefully applying my face.

First stop on my whirlwind tour was Jo Malone, who were launching a new fragrance: Wood Sage & Sea Salt. I grabbed my first glass of bubbles and set about sampling as many gorgeous fragrances as I could.

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The new fragrance was lovely, but as predicted, failed to knock Peony & Blush Suede off the pedestal as my favourite of their scents. What surprised me though, was that I did find a perfume which did: Nectarine Blossom & Honey. I’m not usually a fan of honey scents, but this one was light and sweet without being cloying, and had me wandering around creepily sniffing my hand for the rest of the evening.

Having hung around sipping champagne and sniffing things for as long as I could without becoming suspicious, I headed to my next shop, my favourite of the evening: Space.NK Apothecary. Despite the River Island dress, I received a genuinely lovely, warm welcome, and the ladies on the door made me feel right at home straight away. By the time I got inside the shop, I had another glass of champagne in one hand and a stripy box of popcorn in the other. Excellent.

The range of glorious skincare on offer was heaven for a skincare junkie like me. Seriously, reading about other people’s skincare routines is like meditation to me – tell me what you put on your face! I did consider sneakily giving myself a full Eve Lom facial with all the testers, but decided that would probably be frowned upon. But I am so definitely heading back there for some goodies when I am less broke. They were also launching their beautiful new Silver Screen lipstick range, which they were showing off by giving glamourous femme fatale makeovers in the back of the shop. And they were running a lucky dip, which proved very lucky for me!

Such happiness.

Such happiness.

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I won a gorgeous Lipstick Queen lipstick in Sinner Red, a cool-toned Cruella red that made my eyes green like whoa.

Lipstick and swatch:

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Swatch on my face:

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This creamy lipstick packed one hell of a colour punch, with not a hint of shimmer in sight. This was a big plus: I have serious attitude problems when it comes to shimmery lipsticks. It also boasts awesome staying power, surviving a plate of risotto and two cups of tea after I got home. Can you feel the glamour?

Heading up Oxford Street, I came to House of Fraser, where the red carpet was well and truly rolled out. Here, the official Vogue Fashion’s Night Out cover shoot was taking place, complete with the chance to get your makeup done by YSL head makeup artist, Fred Letailleur and YSL goodie bags. This was an agonising decision, dear readers, because if I had gone for it, this would have been a very short blog post: the queue was all the way into the back of the shop. If anyone got one of the coveted YSL goodie bags, it would be great if you could tell me that what was in them wasn’t even that good. Slightly heartbroken, I gawked at the skills of the makeup artist for a while and then slunk away to continue my journey.

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I stopped off at Molton Brown, my favourite splurging site, to try out the new fragrance they were launching: Oudh Accord and Gold. The scent was a bit honey-y for me, so I wasn’t crazy about it, but the packaging is typically beautiful for Molton Brown, with gold flakes suspended all through the product. Also, they had macaroons, champagne with gold leaf and a super-friendly security guard, so I’m willing to forgive them.

Continuing down Regent Street, I passed shop after designer shop that looked more like nightclubs than shops. DJs, photographers, velvet roped queues, even live magic acts were on full display all the way down the street.

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I browsed J Crew, which had the best champagne, but also the snootiest assistants by far. I seriously considered buying something, just to show them up, but then figured that that was probably the point, so refrained. They were launching two new fragrances, and having read a lovely interview with Creative Director, Jenna Lyons, I decided to try them out. No. 57 is a unisex fragrance, and of the two, it was the one I preferred. It was woody and smoky, and very sexy, but still not a patch on my beloved Jo Malone. I wasn’t a fan of the No. 31, it reminded me of the sickly sweet body sprays you fog yourself with as a teen. But if you like sweet, flowery scents, you might be onto a winner.

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The accessories section was absolutely jumping, and I soon discovered that free gifts were being given away with every purchase. However, even the embellished hair ties and coasters were coming in at about £15, so again, I had to resist. Lots of shops were doing free gifts with purchases, so if you were a broke girl with a little bit of money, as opposed to a broke girl who actually doesn’t know if she’ll be able to buy food in a month, the evening could be very lucrative indeed.

Last on my trip was a little flurry of bath and body shops. I nipped into Crabtree and Evelyn, and immediately fell in love with their Wisteria scent. It smells so much like parma violets. I realise that I just said I didn’t like sweet floral scents, but I will always, always make an exception for parma violets.

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Right next door was L’Occitane, a longtime favourite of anyone with a nose. I feel like I’m not alone in saying that I’d buy up the entire shop in a heartbeat, but I particularly fell for the Jasmine & Bergamot range from their Grasse collection. This was the one time in the evening that I truly swithered over getting my purse out. It is absolutely gorgeous.

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Last up was a shop a bit closer to my price range, and my heart: Lush. At this point, things were starting to wind down, but after five glasses of champagne, I didn’t really mind that too much. I just had time to nip in and pick up a tub of their much-applauded Ultrabland cleanser. Only having used it once, I can’t really say what it’s going to do for my skin in the long run, but in the short term, I’m impressed. The waxy texture makes it loads of fun to use, and the oil base means that it melts makeup away with no scrubbing or scraping. It’s also super moisturising, making it one of the few cleansers I’ve used that doesn’t leave my face feeling tight. Just soft, glowing glowiness.

Haul for the evening:

  • Five glasses of champagne.
  • A macaroon.
  • A box of popcorn.
  • A cone of donuts.
  • A beautiful lipstick.
  • A snazzy new cleanser.

And all that for only £8. Not a bad night out for a broke girl. I did all this in two hours as well, so if you were more committed/wearing more comfortable shoes, there was loads more on offer.

Things I’m gutted I missed:

  • Topshop were doing glittery lips. I know I said I had attitude about shimmer, but straight up glitter? Bring it on. They looked amazing.
  • SOMEONE was giving out champagne ice lollies. If anyone knows who, do let me know.
  • Links London were doing fashion illustrations of their guests. I walked past just after 6 and foolishly thought that the queue was too big. This was only because I had not yet seen the queues to come. So beautiful, and a lovely keepsake.
  • The Radley dogs were in House of Fraser somewhere. There are photos of them all over Instagram. I just have no idea where they were. Curse you, enormous department store!

Would I do it again? Hell yes I would. It was loads of fun, and I got to do tons of research for when my broke-ness finally ends (no word yet on when that will happen). Who knows, maybe next year I’ll have enough money to go on a shopping spree. But for this year, I’ll take all the free champagne I can get.