Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser

I expect a lot from my cleanser. Since I have combination skin, I need a product that won't dry out my skin, but will really work deep down into the pores in my t-zone. I need something that's exfoliating enough to get rid of any flakiness, but not so harsh that it aggravates my problem areas. It needs to wash off easily (taking the day's make up with it), and leave me feeling clean and refreshed. Oh, and it has to smell nice. Like I said, I expect a lot. I'm always on the lookout for new products that might fit my (long) list of requirements, so I jumped at the chance to try Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser*.

I was intrigued by some of the ingredients: Moringa seed extract to deep cleanse, jojoba spheres to exfoliate and pumpkin enzymes to leave skin looking fresh and radiant. Sounds impressive, right? I tried the product over three days and here are my thoughts.

This is a hardworking cleanser. It's described as 'Advanced Tri Phase', since the product is not only a cleanser, but an exfoliator and mask treatment too. It's light in texture and the smooth jojoba beads don't feel harsh or rough, but glide over the skin, sloughing away any dullness and flakiness. After rinsing, my skin feels clean but not tight. After applying the product and leaving for ten minutes as a mask treatment, I felt completely refreshed and my skin had the sort of glow I've only ever experienced after a salon facial. I love the idea that I can use this product as my daily cleanser as well as a luxurious treatment whenever my skin needs a bit of extra attention.

Using this in conjunction with the Optimal Skin ProSerum, which I apply afterwards as a base for my makeup, I've noticed a difference in my skin in just a few days. It feels fresher, more radiant and best of all, like I've given my skin a real treat. I'm converted!

Have you tried Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser?

*Espa Optimal Skin ProCleanser is £30 for 100ml. This review is based on a sample sized product I was sent to try. 

Love Niche London Event

If you're a regular reader you'll know that I am a semi-professional shopper. If there are places in Newcastle to buy purdy clothes from, you can bet I've visited. And bought. But occasionally, I'll hear about something new on the shopping front in wor Toon. That's why I was so excited to be invited to a blogger preview for the Love Niche London Collection at Love Niche, the brand's personal styling studio, hidden away upstairs in Grainger Town.

I was trying to think of how best to describe the Love Niche studio. Basically, imagine the most amazing walk in wardrobe, one of those super-plush ones you see on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, with ornate armchairs, soft carpets and lots of dark wood panelling. And full of gorgeous clothes. Eeep!

The studio, and the Love Niche brand, were created by Nisha, who greeted us warmly with cocktails when we arrived at the studio and explained that, as a fashion designer and personal stylist, Nisha has been in the fashion industry for years, working both here and in India. Nisha has her own range of evening dresses and resort wear under the Niche by Nisha Vedhara brand, as well as a specially selected premium fashion collection under the Love Niche brand, designed to fill the gap between high street and high end, tailored to her client's requirements. Because of her contacts and experience in the fashion industry, Nisha has access to the factories and design workshops who supply some of our high street favourites. So now, Nisha has lauched the Love Niche London collection, which includes handpicked high street pieces, specially selected to create the perfect outfit, along with beautiful accessories.

We were able to get a sneak peek at the Love Niche London range before it goes on sale online in October, and I think it's fair to say I picked out quite a few pieces that I loved. I felt like a kid in a candy shop as I rifled through rails of gorgeous dresses, jumpsuits and jumpers. My particular favourites were this red jacket and floral print trousers - I love how vibrant the jacket is and the trousers just make the outfit that bit more interesting. I'm no stylist but I was quite proud of the ensemble I created!

Each of the bloggers who attended on the night picked out outfits, all of which were gorgeous and priced really reasonably. My beloved jacket was £40 and the trousers £25, which I think is brilliant considering how much you'd pay for the same thing on the high street.

It's clear how enthusiatic Nisha is about fashion and her collections, and it's lovely that a fashion designer like Nisha, based here is Newcastle, is doing so well. I can't wait to check out the website when it goes live in October, and I'm hoping I might still be able to get my hands on that jacket!

Thanks to Nisha and her team for inviting me to their amazing event and for the lovely bracelet I got to take away! Keep an eye out in October for the new Love Niche London site which is sure to have plenty of gorgeous pieces *credit card at the ready* :)

Throwback Thursday - Beverly Hills, 90210

beverlyhills90210.jpg (800×551)

A couple of weeks ago I was blindly flicking through the tv channels when I suddenly spotted a very familiar large wrinkled forehead. Could it be...?! YES, IT WAS! It was Dylan McKay, hearthrob of my childhood years. At this point I am SURE you will all be very aware of who Dylan McKay is, but I shall explain anyway.

Dylan, played by the very lovely Luke Perry, was one of the main characters in Beverly Hills, 90210. Not that fancy modern version of the show, but the ORIGINAL. The BEST.  In a nutshell, the show centred around Brandon & Brenda, sixteen year old twins who move to Beverly Hills and the exploits of them and their friends as they stumble through high school and college.

Brandon and Brenda had the best life. They basically went to school, wore amazing clothes (The jeans! God I miss stonewash jeans. Kind of), lived in a mahoosive house and ate pie at The Peach Pit. Dylan was Brenda's rebel of a boyfriend who - shockingly - wore an earring. Oh, he also drove a porsche. I had no idea what a porsche was when I was twelve, but it sounded cool. Other characters included Kelly, Brenda's bitchy school friend (and my teenage fringe icon), Donna, the one who was only on the show because her dad produced it hung around with Kelly and Brenda, Steve, who had the most fabulous blonde curly mullet, Ahhhhndrea, who wore glasses and was therefore terribly clever, and David, the school geek. There were others, too, but these were my favourites.

Brandon and Dylan were not like any school boys I'd ever come across - or was ever likely to. (Years later, I looked back on this and felt somewhat cheated). The whole thing was so full of drama (90210 tackled some tough subjects, like alcoholism and domestic abuse) yet unspeakably glamorous. I would sit on a Saturday tea time eating my buttered crumpets and watching in awe.

I learned valuable stuff from that show, too. Like every time I need to enter a US zipcode into a website to be able to enter special, super-amazing US-only sales (I'm looking at YOU, Kate Spade!) I confidently tap in those familiar five digits without a second thought. My Sephora Insider card is actually registered at the Walshes' address. Not a lie.

Yeah, so CBS Drama are currently airing every.single.episode at 9pm each night. Good bye, social life! Turns out I love 90210 now as much as I did back in the day. The only thing that's ruined my little jaunt down memory lane is the realisation that all of the cast - and therefore, me - are considerably older now. Luke Perry (Dylan) is almost 48. FORTY EIGHT. His forehead is still wrinked.

cbab1f19173fcaa52c3140c62ae15956.jpg (317×400)

Ian Ziering (Steve) is 50. Oh, and he's also a Chippendale. Why didn't he look like this in the 90210 days? Although admittedly, I was partial to his mullet.

Ian-Ziering-d-acteur-a-stripteaser_exact780x1040_p.jpg (780×1040)

Were you a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210?

Blogging Pretty On A Budget - HP Turquoise Chromebook

One of the (many) frustrations I've had over the last few months whilst blogging/writing/browsing Shoeaholics website is that my laptop is SLOW. It's old (well, I've had it for over three years, which in laptop years is like, a hundred or something), overworked, the battery is on it's last legs and my letter 'L' keeps doing this annoying sticking thing where I'd type a paragraph then read back over it and realise that every time I'd typed the word 'blog' it shows as 'bog'. (My sticky 'L' caused a particular problem when I drafted up a post about the new clock I bought for my bedroom. But we won't go into that).

So, it was pretty obvious I'd have to invest in a new laptop before I posted something that got me banned from the blogosphere. And me being a mild-technophobe (I'm actually pretty good with technology once I get going. It's the 'getting going' bit that gets me - reading instructions and the like) I didn't have a clue where to start. I knew I didn't want a tablet (I prefer a keyboard - I know, I'm so old-school) or a netbook (I like a bigger screen), I'm not massively keen on Apple products and I remembered reading something recently about Chromebooks being pretty snazzy and good for those on a budget (which I am - I have a handbag habit to feed after all) so when I spotted this little beauty I thought it might be worth a try. Especially since it's so purdy! (I'd love to say that had nothing to do with why I purchased this, but...)

Anyway, it has a 14" screen, 4Gb RAM and 16Gb SSD for those who are in the know. For those that aren't, like me - it powers up fast, the keyboard feels nice, and the battery lasts up to 9 hours. Oh, and did I mention the purdy turquoise colour? This also comes in white and coral (and I did sway towards coral at one point as it looks equally gorgeous). The best bit? This is a refurbished model which means it's basically new with all accessories but much cheaper than one actually listed as new. I paid £179 for this which I think is pretty good. I ordered from Dabs and it arrived within 3 days.

I've been using my new beauty over the last few days and apart from getting used to not having Windows I'm getting along fine with it. And I do LOVE the colour. All I need now is an equally cute laptop bag to carry this around in for when I'm using it on the go. (let's just ignore the fact that 99% of the time I use my laptop I'm lying in my bed).

What do you think? xx

Lush Newcastle Event

Before last week, Lush wasn't a shop I usually made a beeline for; I suppose like a lot of people I've always walked past the store and enjoyed the gorgeous smells wafting out of the doors, but I've not often gone in, other than to buy bath bombs or the occasional brightly wrapped gift for someone at Christmas. I've never really thought about it much before but I suppose the reason for that is that I don't (or didn't!) know much about Lush products. I did know, however, that they aren't tested on animals, nor are any of the product ingredients. Lush is also often raved about in a lot of the beauty blogs I read so I was excited to get a lovely email from Lush PR asking me if I'd like to attend an event at the brand new Newcastle store last week.

So I met up with one of my partners in blogging-crime Chloe and we headed off to the new store, which is inside Eldon Square. Lush had pulled out all the stops for the night, with yummy gin cocktails, cupcakes and a singer who I didn't get the name of (I believe she works for Lush) but was so good I actually thought we were listening to a cd rather than a live performance. The store is large and bright with shelves full of gorgeous Lush goodies in the brand's signature quirky style. 

The staff were visibly excited about the new store and really enthusiastic in showing us around and demonstrating products. I particularly loved the massage bars which I've never tried before but after one of the ladies gave me a mini hand/arm massage with a Therapy bar I was sold! The super rich moisturisers (cocoa and shea butter) made my skin silky soft and left a lovely sheen whilst smelling amazing (orange oil and lavender oil - mmm). I was really interested to learn that ingredients in the product are 100% natural and a really cute fact we were told is that the design of the Therapy bar is inspired by the fact that one in every four babies born has an 'outie' belly button. We were also told that this particular massage bar was previously a Lush Spa exclusive product which I can believe as it feels like such a decadent treat!

I was keen to check out the various ballistic bath bombs and we got to try out a couple including Fizzbanger which not only smells good enough to eat but also changes colour whilst it fizzes away in the water. The piece de resistance is the popping candy in the centre of the bath bomb which we could hear popping away as the bomb dissolved. I can honestly say I've never seen a bath product like it and I will definitely be treating myself to one of these!

The new store also has a large perfume bar stocking the brand's Gorilla perfume. The Dirty Body Spray caught my eye as it comes in a quirky spray-gun and I think the Husband would love the fresh, minty scent. The store also stocks Lush makeup which we didn't get a chance to try as it was quite busy. 

What really came across to me is how much the staff love and believe in the products. Lush products are made in Poole and a couple of the guys from the factory were demonstrating how they divide and package product ready to hit the shelves. Lush products are all freshly handmade and have a little sticker on each showing who made it (in cool cartoon form) and when which gives a really personal touch. You can see more about how the products are made here

When we left we were given a bag of goodies including I Love Juicy Shampoo, Furze Perfume, Kalamazoo Beard and Facial Wash (yes, yes, I know. I don't have a beard. Usually.) and Enchanted Eye Cream which I can't wait to try, I will be posting reviews soon. 

Since I'm now a Lush convert, I'd love to know what your recommended Lush faves are? Let me know, and, if you're in Newcastle, check out the new store. 


Lulu Guinness Bargain Make up Bags

I love cute, and I love quirky, ergo, I love Lulu Guinness. The signature black, white and red of her designs is instantly recognisable and I often find myself cooing over her iconic lips clutches or forties-style handbags. So, when LG had a sale recently, I pored over the website looking for bargains. Gotta be honest, I don’t need any more handbags. As in, I literally have no room in my house for any more handbags. But what I did need was a new makeup bag. (I’m using the word ‘need’ quite loosely here - I have a perfectly good Marc Jacobs makeup bag, but it’s *slightly* bigger than I’d like to carry every day. So, actually, I suppose I did need a new makeup bag). 

Anyway, I spotted the cute little number below on sale for £ could I say no?! It’s polka dotted, it has a red lining, it’s big enough to fit my powder, lippy and blotting sheets in but small enough to force me to not carry my entire makeup collection around with me, making my handbag weigh a ton. No brainer.

I visited Cheshire Oaks last week, and popped into the Lulu Guinness outlet, as you do. There on the shelf was my lovely cosmetic bag’s bigger sis – this one opens out into two sections with clear sides so you can see what’s inside. Perfect for travelling, and reduced to £13.20. Mine!

I’m not sure of the original prices of my bags, but similar ones in a newer design are priced at £22 for the small one and £60ish for the doubler, so I’m going to class these as a mahoosive bargain. The Cheshire Oaks store seemed to have plenty in stock if you happen to be visiting. 

What do you think?

P.S. Anyone who loves Lulu like I do will most probably know about her Uniqlo collab which is available now (I have my eye on the lips print pullover)


Looking For a Unique Wedding/Engagement/Celebration Gift?

...I often am. I think especially when it comes to weddings, if the couple don't have a gift list, or you just want to get a little something different to remind them of their special day, it's hard to think of anything other than a bottle of champers, and just because I could happily sit and quaff a full bottle doesn't necessarily mean they'd want to. Ahem.

So, I think I may have professed my love for all things Etsy on several occasions on Twitter. I have bought many unique bits and pieces from there (and yes, I did need that 'People I Want To Punch In The Face' notebook) so when I knew I had a few weddings to attend this summer I headed over to Etsy to see if anything caught my eye, and that' when I stumbled across Bramley Apple of my Eye. Lisa, who owns the shop, makes beautiful hand-stamped pieces from aluminium or sterling silver at really reasonable prices.

My favourite pieces are the Aluminium Hand Stamped Wedding Key Rings as I think these definitely fit into the 'completely unique gift' category! Each key ring comes stamped with - well, whatever you choose, really, but you could for example have the initials on one side, and the wedding date on the other, which is what I chose and I think makes these a really cute keepsake.

So, having bought these for the last 3 couples whose weddings I've been to, I thought I'd share as I think they are such a brilliant, cute idea. What do you think?