Monday, 24 September 2012

Tag: Beauty and Brains post.

Morning everyone :)

I originally saw this tag on Hannah's (Midnight Violets) blog, and I really liked the idea so I thought I'd give it a go. This is the first time I've tried a tag post, this is a nice straigtforward one. I'm considering trying both a "How Much Is Your Face Worth?" post and a "Shopping the Stash" post next (when I have the time, this week I have one day off!)

So without further rambling... Beauty and Brains!

Favourite Book - 
A hard question to answer as an English graduate! If I have to choose 1, it would be "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams. Yes I know it's actually a play but I read it. I love that all of Tennessee Williams' plays are chock-full of layered metaphors and symbolism, but I particularly enjoy the figurative language in this play. The characters are Amanda, a faded Southern Belle, obsessed with finding her daughter Laura a husband. Laura, however is a socially isolated young woman who has retreated into her own little world, symbolised by her 'glass menagerie'. Laura's brother Tom, and the play's narrator, is a frustrated poet, who escapes into a night-time whirl of bars and cinemas to escape the bleak realities of his siituation.

Read it, and read up on the history behind it, it is completely fascinating! I think I love it so much because it was the first play of Williams' that I studied in my final year at school, and it made me realise just how multi-faceted literature can be, and it also makes you realise, through the events of the play, that the world is definitely not as black and white as people try to make it.

Favourite Quotes - 
Again, difficult as an English graduate, but I think I have to go with Oscar Wilde's preface to "The Picture of Dorian Gray.":
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.
No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.
Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.
I particularly love the part about finding ugly and beautiful meanings in the world. Makes dealing with trolls a whole lot easier! :P

English or Maths - 
Eh... what do you think?

Science or Art - 
Strangely, I prefer science! I loved studying chemistry and physics at school. Although in my later years at school, most of my subjects were arts-based, I still preferred (and was slightly better at) sciences.

Name five music artists or albums that changed your life - 
Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself
Joshua Radin - Rock and the Tide
Less Than Jake - In With the Out Crowd
Runrig - Cutter and the Clan
Anberlin - Never Take Friendship Personal

All of the above albums pretty much sum up my teenage years (and twenty-something years :P)

Favourite & Least Favourite Subjects at School - 
Again, what do you think? Loved English, hated Maths. Although I got top grades in my Higher Maths, I am convinced that this was due to a mix-up at the exam board. Because I was (pardon my French) shite at maths. I still am, I hate having to deal with any finance at work because I can barely count!
Favourite 'Celebrity with a Brain' - 
Bill Bailey. He's smart, he's extremely funny and he can also play loads of instruments. I struggle to play two!
If you could study anything anywhere, what would it be?
I'd like to go back to uni to do a course on Autism Studies, I'm already planning to do this once I move back to Glasgow. The University of Strathclyde has an amazing Centre for Autism Studies, so I want to apply there to do a postgraduate diploma then a Masters. I'm just greedy, I already have 2 degrees :P
What's your nerdy little secret? 
At the moment, probably that I really enjoy "Storage Wars" and "Pawn Stars" on the History Channel. Weird, but the one-liners the folk come out with can be outstanding!

Favourite beauty Guru(s), who you admire for more than their love of beauty/fashion - 
Probably one would be my friend Claire over at Eyelining Obsessions  because not only does she know her stuff, she's incredibly smart, and in her own words: "...likes her coffee like her heart: black and bitter." - she's just as cynical as I can be, but is lovely and funny on top of it. 

If your channel/blog didn't focus on Beauty/Fashion, what would it be? 
If I was allowed, I would talk about my experiences working with people with ASDs. But since I'm not sure of the legal in's and out's re: client protection, I'd rather not. Though maybe once I've worked for my company a little longer, I might ask if I can guest-blog for them on some projects.
Name some things that you're obsessed with that other people would find strange or geeky - 
Adventure Time! It's the most amazingly cute cartoon from the U.S.. It's on Cartoon Network UK most mornings, but it's so funny and, like most brilliant kids cartoons, has a lot of adult jokes subtly hidden in there.Plus they have loads of cute songs like this :)

Name five people (excluding friends and family) who inspire you - 
Err...I'm not too sure. I don't really find a lot of famous people inspiring. I'm not very good at gushing over celebrities and such, I always cringe at people who do it on Twitter and Facebook. I can think of a few people that I admire, and enjoy their work though, so how about that?
1. Joshua Radin - One of America (and the wider world)'s most talented singer/songwriters. And it pisses me off that people in the U.K. fawn over Ed Sheeran, when Joshua Radin has been working harder for longer, writes better music and has a better voice. So go check him out and see what I mean. 
2. Matthew Inman - Matthew writes and blogs on his site "The Oatmeal". Not only is he a brilliant comedic observer, he's also pretty impressive at raising money for charitable causes. Currently he's trying to raise money to build a museum dedicated to Nikola Tesla at Wardenclyffe, with the current total sitting at over $1.2 million. Unbelievable!
3. Alasdair Gray - A Scottish artist, writer and fantastic chess player. Gray wrote one of Scotland's most amazing novels of the 20th century, "Lanark: A Life in 4 Books". He is also the creator of some of Glasgow's most beautiful murals. If you're ever in Glasgow, get the subway to Hillhead station, then have a drink/lunch or just a wander round Oran Mor on Byres Road if you'd like to see some of his wonderful works. 

4. Edwin Morgan - another famous Scot! Edwin Morgan is one of Scotland's most prolific writers and poets. He wrote poetry and plays right up until his death in 2010 at the age of 90! He never lost his mind, or his unique literary style. My favourite of his poems in "Strawberries". 

I can't think of another person, so tough :P

Who's your intellectual soulmate -  
Now this is probably going to sound cheesy, cringey, sickening etc. But I'd probably have to say my boyfriend Kristopher. We share a lot of common interests, and we enjoy a lot of the same TV shows, music and places. I think he's my intellectual soulmate because although Kris isn't university-educated or have a full college course behind him, he is easily one of the smartest (if not THE smartest) person I know. He's sharp as a tack, and can always see solutions to problems that would have me in a flap. He keeps me calm when I'm having a neurotic moment, he is the laid-back to my highly-strung nature. And what's brilliant is that he doesn't boast, is quietly confident and doesn't show off, even though he could easily out-fox you in a debate. And on top of it all, he's the nicest guy ever. Every guy I know has a huge man-crush on him (I find this hilarious, it's like a fan-club; I have to remind them sometimes that it's me he's dating!) So yes my boyfriend Kris = intellectual soulmate.

Well that is an awful lot of rambling from me, apologies! But that's me in a nutshell, I never shut up. Hope you enjoyed finding out a little more about me :)

Christina xo

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Selfridge's Beauty Box (aka OMG THE PRETTY!)

So yes, it's taken me a while to get around to posting my review of the one-off Beauty Box from Selfridges, launched to promote their (utterly fabulous-looking) new Beauty Workshop in their London store. But it's taken me a while to get round to trying all the products, and I still haven't This is a testament as to how much product you get within this beautiful little box of joy! For £15 (plus £4.95 P+P) you get:

It is so freakin' pretty right? And inside you will find:

Antipodes Organic Avocado & Rosehip Divine Facial Oil
Bio Effect EGF Serum
Aesop Parsley Seed Anti Oxidant Serum
Estelle & Thild Lip Balm
Philip B Katira Hair Masque
Stila One Step Correct
Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask

For only £15 you get over £150 worth of product, which I think is amazingly good value. So what do I think of the products? I'll go through each product in turn...

Antipodes Organic Avocado & Rosehip Divine Facial Oil: I used this while I was on holiday in Gran Canaria, since it says this is a great product for preventing and soothing sun damage (I'm terrible, I love to sunbathe. I shouldn't because I'm a typical pasty pale Scot, but I still always end up trying to reserve a nice bed by the pool!). It has a really refreshing smell, and my skin certainly looked in better condition after being in the sun than it usually does. The only issue I found with this the oil is that it takes a while to sink in. But then if you're using this at night this won't matter, I was using after showering and before getting ready for evenings out. On the whole, liking it!

Bio Effect EGF Serum: This is the only product I haven't tried yet, and it's only because I want to use the other serums and oils first before trying this one, as I fear my skin will go on the fritz if I try too many things at once! I have, howeverm heard very good things about Bio Effect, so I'm really looking forward to trying it out.

Aesop Parsley Seed Anti Oxidant Serum: I haven't used this enough to discern its effect on my skin, but I have heard it is excellent for spot-prone skin, and I can feel a few brewing under my skin so I may give this another go shortly. One thing I can remember is that it has a rather strong scent that I'm not overly keen on, but I don't mind that.

Estelle & Thild Lip Balm: I absolutely love this, and it is now part of my daily make-up routine. It's so moisturising and lasts really well on my lips. It also satisfies my sweet-tooth as it's a raspberry lip-balm!

Philip B Katira Hair Masque: I like this, not quite love though. The Katira Hair Masque aims to improve manageability and shine in your hair. I tried leaving this in for most of the day yesterday, and it certainly improved shine, but my hair was just as unruly as always. It smells nice, and it does make my hair look extremely glossy, so it's like not love for this one!

Stila One Step Correct: Again, I love this so much it's now part of my daily make-up. I suffer from pretty blotchy/red skin at times, and in addition to my usual primer, this really helps eliminate some of the unevenness. It also feels really soothing when you apply it, so it always feels like a treat to apply!

Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask: My only gripe with this is that I want more! But at £57 for a full size jar, I'll maybe have to wait and save up. I loved this so much I've already finished it (sad face). This is a deep-cleansing clay mask which literally just sucks all the oil and crap from your face and leaves it feeling clean, smooth and (most importantly for my oily face) a whole lot less oily! You can feel it working as it sits on your skin, and it really helped my skin while I was on holiday, helping to tame all the excess oil and sweat produced due to the hot weather. I will, one day, invest in a full size jar of this because it really helped my skin and felt amazing.

Overall, this was well worth the £15 (and the excessive swearing and refreshing of Selfridges' website) I spent on it. Did you manage to get your hands on a box? What were your thoughts on the products?

As always, would love to hear your feedback!

Christina xo

Monday, 17 September 2012

Haulosaurus Rex (i.e. When Christina got lots of lovely presents then went mental in Duty Free)

Recently it was my birthday (I had to work through most of it though, bleurgh), and to celebrate, I eventually went out with my nearest and dearest friends and family. And it was amazing! I had steak, wine and lots of catching up with my closest friends :) Birthdays, of course, also mean presents! And I was spoiled. I now have two new gins to try, a gorgeous new handbag, two stylish new canvas shopping bags and many other generous gifts. But the ones I'd most like to share with you are the beauty related ones (naturally.) And I will. In a minute. Because there's more...

I have also just returned from a week in Gran Canaria. Which means passing through the (Glasgow) airport duty free store! And it had just been refurbished with new counters *drools*. Plus once I arrived in Gran Canaria, I managed to grab a few cheeky bargains in a lovely little parfumeria. So would you like the run-down of my mental shopping spree/birthday haul?


Ta-Dah! I shall now break down each set of purchases for you:


Glasgow's duty free counters have always been pretty extensive (they have Dior, Chanel, OPI, Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Ardin, Clarins... you name it really), but since its refurbishment they have added a MAC counter (I literally squeed when I saw this...ask my boyfriend.) So it would have naturally been foolish not to indulge, no? So I picked up Studio Fix Fluid in NW15 (£17.50) and a single eyeshadow in Trax (£10). Trax is described on the MAC site as "Burgundy Plum with Shimmer" - the most gorgeous gold shimmer to be precise. I've recently been pairing it with some gold shades from other palettes, and the result is v.pretty :) Hopefully I will be able to master photographing my face soon so I can show you. The Studio Fix Foundation is so far doing pretty well in my estimations. It keeps me matte for quite a long time (Longer than my Dior Forever foundation) and gives a really good finish. I'll need to compare it to my 17 Miracle Matte foundation though in terms of longevity, but so far, a win!

Next stop was the Chanel counter. As I mentioned in my Wish List post, I've been eyeing up their new matte lip colour, Rouge Allure Velvet. I thought the shade La Fascinante was my dream, but when I went to swatch, I was instantly drawn to another shade, L'Exuberante, which can only be described as a deep bright pink, not fuschia, but a kind-of deep, slightly reddish, pink! I will try and get a review up with pictures soon, but suffice to say, My God, it is beautiful, and well worth the £20.50 I paid for it.

After leaving the check-out at Duty Free, I thought I was content. But alas, I had not banked on Glasgow Airport adding a Rituals store to there arsenal. And having loved their Yogi Flow Shower Foam from my Christmas Glossybox, I popped in to purchase a replacement shower foam, and picked up the matching body spray too. Delicious, luxurious smelling skin, here I come! Also, after that last stop-off, it was off to Gran Canaria with me! And this leads me on to...


One day, my boyfriend Kris and I decided we would get one of the many boats up Gran Canaria's South Coast to take us to the big town of Puerto Rico for some shopping (would not recommend staying there unless you're a typical Bulldog Brit, but like I say, some good shops) and I stumbled across a little parfumeria, where one of the ever-so-slightly-pushy sales assistants kept offering me discounts and "special prices". But there were two items I literally would have been stupid not to pick up: a 30ml bottle of Valentino's Valentina Eau de Parfum (I've seen various prices, but average appears to be £40) for around 36 euros (£29). But my piece de resistance... Getting Guerlain's Sun in the City Illuminating Powder for...37 euros (£30)!!! Not too bad considering the RRP is around £43. I am loving this just as much as my MAC Trax, and they actually pair well together too. I'm looking forward to experimenting further with it too!


There's a reason I've added this last. One of my other presents was a Boots gift card from Claire (you can read her fabulous blog here) and I have just gotten round to spending (read: splurging) it! Having bought the Guerlain Powder, I realised that I should probably buy some proper brushes to actually use it with (and to do it justice), so after asking around I settled on getting myself some Real Techniques brushes. I bought the Base/Flawless Core collection (£21.99) and the Base/Flawless Powder Brush (£12.99). At the moment, Real Techniques brushes and sets are all on a Buy-1-Get-1-Half-Price offer in Boots, so the powder brush was only £6.50). So a big thank you to Claire! (Brushes are pictured below.)

Next up, my friends Fraser and Sara treated me to a lovely Soap and Glory gift set, which includes: Clean on Me (Shower Gel), Girligo (Moisturising Body Mist), The Righteous Butter (Body Butter), Flake Away (Body Scrub), and Hand Food (Hand Cream. I always love Soap and Glory (I rely on my Flake Away Scrub and their Fab Pore Face Mask), so I'm excited to try these products. Thanks Fraser and thanks Sara!

Last, but by no means least, my lovely brother Andrew bought me a bottle of Paco Rabanne's Lady Million. I had samples of this years ago and loved it, so I was well chuffed to finally get a full-size bottle, so again, thank you so much to my brother!

*Phew* That really is a shit-ton of stuff. I'm not going to be on a very, very strict budget in the run-up to Christmas because 1. It's the run-up to Christmas and 2. Kris and I are saving every penny we can to fund moving back to Glasgow as soon as we humanly can. So no more mental spending for me!

Does anyone have any of the products I've mentioned? Would love to know your thoughts, feelings, tips etc. All feedback is welcomed!

Christina xo

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Make-up Madness - My MUA Collection

Recently on their Facebook and Twitter profiles, Make Up Academy (MUA) have been sharing pictures of fans' enormous MUA make-up collections. I felt a little left out, so I thought I'd share my fairly sizeable collection with you and tell you about some of my favourite products...

It's not huge but still quite a lot of make-up there! It's just so easy to get carried away when you're ordering from MUA's website because everything is so cheap. But with MUA, cheap does NOT mean bad. Not at all, I love MUA make-up, it's affordable and the quality is just amazing. With that in mind, here are my top products from MUA's range:

1. Lipstick in shades 3 and 12 - MUA's lipsticks are a little slice of heaven! For £1 you get a lipstick that is moisturising and creamy, with a great range of colours. I have 6, but my favourites are shades 3 and 12, seen below with shade 3 on the left and 12 on the right:

Aren't they pretty! Shade 3 is a warm deep pink and 12 is a light pinky nude with a little sparkle through it. Great colours, reasonably long-wearing, LOVE!

2. Eyeshadow palettes Glamour Days and Going for Gold - I love MUA eyeshadows, they last really well and come in a fantastic range of colours. My two favourites are Glamour Days, which is perfect for injecting a little bit of colour and shimmer to your daily make-up, and Going for Gold, a limited edition palette of shimmering metallics designed especially for the London 2012 Olympics. Glamour Days is pictured on the left and Going for Gold on the right: 

3. Professional Eye Primer - This stuff is MAGIC! My first eye-primer, and I don't think I'll get another, because this is just amazing. I once came in drunk from a night out, passed out on the sofa straight away, then woke up to discover my eye make-up HAD NOT SHIFTED OR CREASED. Incredible durability! (Although I would not advise getting so drunk you forget to remove your make-up. Bad Christina...)

4. Lovehearts Lip Balm - this is my go-to lip balm. It's perfect during the day because it leaves my lips soft and nourished, whilst also injecting a little colour into them, I have the shade Hot Lips, which gives my lips a rosy sheen, swatched below :)

5. Intense Colour Eyeliner Pencil - I would highly recommend this if you're new to using eyeliners. Only £1 each, they come in a great range of colours, are really soft-textured making them easy to apply to both the waterline, along the lower lashline AND the upper lashline, and if you make a mistake, they're easy to remove too. But also long-lasting, which makes for one awesome eyeliner I have one in royal blue, forest green and brown, all swatched below:

Out of all MUA's amazing product, there's only one that I'm not keen on, and that is their BB cream. Mainly because it's not really a BB cream, more of a middle ground between a medium coverage foundation and a tinted moisturiser. It's ok for days when I'm heading into work, or entertaining at home, but it doesn't last very long, not enough coverage for me, and it doesn't do a lot for my oily skin sadly. A lot of folk have raved about it on blogs, but it's just not for me! It's literally one blip in a collection of make-up that I love!

So go on folks, if you haven't tried MUA before then do it NOW! Seriously, go now, they always have great offers, and at the moment if you spend £8 you get a free 24 shade eyeshadow palette. BARGAIN! As well as their webstore they are also on Facebook and Twitter so get them on their too for updates on offers and new products. You will NOT regret it I promise :)

Christina xo