Shamp1 Shamp2

Earlier this month, I took part in a work project which involved me going five whole days without washing my hair. I know. Now as some of you may remember from this post, I don’t really deal well with unclean hair so I made sure to stock up with as many dry shampoo-type products as possible, so as to ensure that my hair – while dirty – would at least remain grease-free.

The first product that I put to the test was the Drybar Detox Dry Shampoowhich I happened to have in a travel size. Now, I’ll be honest, when I first tried this, I wasn’t too impressed – it made my hair more sticky than it did clean – but after giving it a good shake and applying slightly less product to my roots, the formula has been working really ruddy well. It doesn’t leave loads of white residue, it doesn’t make my hair feel weighed down with product and it smells really love.

Moving on to the Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry ShampooWeird name aside – which, I’ll be honest, is pretty much the reason that I bought it – this product is a bit meh as far as I’m concerned. It did add a bit of oomph and volume to my hair – hurrah! - but in terms of actually refreshing my hair, it didn’t really do too much.

Then there’s the TreSemme Fresh Start Renewing Dry Shampoo. This one kind of sits brilliantly in between the two aforementioned products, both in terms of price and quality. The effect of the formula isn’t hugely noticeable as far as I’m concerned – it certainly didn’t save me from the grease after I had gone several days washing. But, it also wasn’t awful, and my hair did look lovely and volumous after use.

To be honest, I’m not sure any of these bad boys is going to beat my all-time favourite – Batiste – but, if I had to choose one to use from here on out, I’m going to go with the Drybar offering because I believe that it offered the most in terms of its formula. Most of the time however, I’m back to washing my a hair a bit more regularly…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA* beauty blender solid blendercleanser // $16 *

I hate washing my brushes. It’s probably – no, definitely - my least favourite beauty-related task, mainly because it’s just so ruddy time-consuming and boring.

Recently however, while browsing through the aisles of Sephora, I came across the Beauty Blender Solid BlenderCleanser ($16), which is essentially a small pot that has been filled with a solid soap, which you can use to wash your brushes. All you have to do is remove the lid, wet the bristles of your brush and swirl it round in the dish that contains the soap. Rinse it off and boom, you’re done!

Now I know this might not seem that much easier than washing your brushes with liquid soap, however, being able to save the time of pouring out the soap into my hand etc, plus being able to avoid having a prune-y hand for hours after washing my brushes, really does make the whole brush washing experience that much more bearable.

Plus, the soap is incredibly effective; there’s something about using a solid soap as opposed to a liquid that is so much easier and more efficient. My brushes are left looking super clean, feeling super soft and the soap leaves no strong scent either, which is always a bonus.

Needless to say my brushes will be getting a bit more attention from now on…!

Bite1 Bite2 Bite3

During the past few months, I’ve slowly started building up what is, I think, a pretty impressive collection of Bite Beauty products. I’ve got lipsticks, I’ve got lip crayons, I’ve got lip balms – and yes, before you ask, I already have the lip colour removing wipes on order from Sephora.

So I thought the time had come to pay a little tribute to this beauty brand that has so quickly captured my heart – and my wallet – and explain to you all just why I think the products are so ace.

First of all, there’s the fancy packaging. I love a good matte container. The Nars ones rock my world – particularly the packaging on the new lipstick line – and the offerings from Bite are no different. Everything just looks so sleek. Then there are the formulas, which tend to lean slightly more towards the matte end of the lipstick scale, but don’t in any way dry out the lips or highlight any unsightly cracks or chapped, flaky bits – a dream if you live in a cold and windy city (hello New York!) and tend to have dry lips all the darn time.

I’m also a big old fan of Bite’s lipcare line – the Agave Lip Mask is the absolute dream when it comes to treating the aforementioned dry lip issues, and the Whipped Cherry Scrub smells and tastes just as sweet as the name would suggest – plus it helps to leave lips looking totally flake-free, without aggravating or drying them out further.

In other words, I just think Bite is really on the money with everything its doing. The range of shades is huge, the products are all well thought-out and they’re all pretty immense quality, which I know not many brands can say about every product in their line-up.

And no, before y’all ask, this isn’t a sponsored post, I just wanted to share the love and highlight the products that have been jazzing up my lips of late.

BBW2 BBW1

Yes, there is still snow on the ground. Yes, it’s still below freezing outside. And yes, I still have to wear a coat, gloves and scarf at all times when heading out into the world so as to avoid frostbite but despite all of that, I am almost certain that Spring is indeed just around the corner. The weather, while still chilly, is so much warmer than it has been during the past few weeks, there are tiny birds singing in the trees, the sun has been shining and I am ready for the warm seasons to arrive.

So in that spirit, I did a wee Spring-themed candle shop at Bath and Body Works, which is pretty much my all-time favourite place to buy candles these days, in order to pick up a few fresh warm weather scents, which I thought I’d share with you guys today.

The first two I popped into my basket were my favourites from last year – I picked them both up during my holiday to New York in June last year and couldn’t wait to grab them again this year – Lemon Mint Leaf and Honeysuckle BouquetBoth of these fragrances are so fresh and light; the lemon and mint leaf has all the freshness of the mint, which fills the room even after the first ten minutes, but it doesn’t have any of that sickly sweetness that peppermint candles tend to have, for example, because the acidity and brightness of the lemon cuts through giving the scent a super subtle tang, which ties the whole thing together brilliantly.

Then there’s the honeysuckle scent (boy that’s a fun thing to say). Honeysuckle is one of my all-time favourite fragrances anyway, but this candle seems to bring together all of the best bits of it – there’s the fresh floral scent, which makes you feel as though your lying outside in the garden in summer, even when it’s cold and windy outside, and the subtle sweet honeyed undertones which add a nice warmth to the overall fragrance. Similarly, the Lilac Blossom has that same bright fresh floral fragrance to it, but without the sweeter edge – it literally smells like you have your head inside the most beautiful bouquet, and I actually think it is going to work really well when burnt alongside the honeysuckle scent. Watch this space.

Last up is the Fresh Water and Sea Salt, which I actually bought on a bit of a whim mainly because I liked the colour and the idea of having an ocean-y scent in my room. And when I gave it a sniff in the store, it smelled nice but by no means blew me away. Then I started burning it. The scent of this candle is so much more once it is lit and it just manages to fill the entire room with this fresh-scented air, which honestly makes you feel as though you are walking along the seaside – without any of the funky fishy/seaweed smells that you may actually encounter when out by the ocean. It’s the perfect Spring scent in my opinion and has actually become the unlikely favourite of this whole bunch.

Feb1Feb2

February has been and gone! How speedy was that?

Anywho, this month has been all about re-discovering some of my most loved products, and also testing out some of the beauty bits and pieces that I’ve meaning meaning to try for a wee while.

So, first up, the one skincare item on the list – the Aesop Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque. During my recent skincare troubles, which I think are slowly starting to sort themselves out, this mask was an absolute saviour, helping to dry out spots, without drying out my skin, reduce redness and generally soothe any inflamed nasties.

Then we move on to some lip care courtesy of the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. I’ve mentioned this bad boy in the past, when I was using it as part of Bite Beauty’s five night lip fix treatment, but even on its own, this product works some serious magic on chapped lips, particularly when used overnight. Which brings me onto another Bite-related favourite, the Bite Beauty High Pigment Lip Pencilswhich I have been loving wearing on my lips this month. Super pigmented, as the name would suggest, matte – but not too matte – and incredibly lightweight. They’re  a lip lovers’ dream.

I’ve also had a thing for eyes this month, testing out both the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner and the Marc Jacobs Gel EyelinerBoth are just superb. The Kat Von D liner blows all other liquid eyeliners out of the water as far as I’m concerned – it’s so easy to apply, it lasts all day, it’s just awesome. And, paired with the Marc Jacobs liner in the upper rim of my eye, it creates perfectly-lined lids which will last all night long.

The last two products included this month are both old favourites that I’ve turned back to a lot this past month. The Elizabeth and James White Nirvana fragrance, which I probably don’t need to say too much about – suffice to say it’s the most unique and interesting fragrance I own. Then there’s the Cover Girl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundationwhich, despite the ridiculously long name, is actually kind of great; it is nice and lightweight, yet provides great coverage, it doesn’t go cake-y throughout the day and it doesn’t make me shiny. And all of that for a drugstore price tag? Awesome. 

What products have you guys been loving during the month of February?

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This weekend I have been lucky enough to have my first visitor from home since G let (sob). The lovely Diane – who is like a surrogate big sister to me – arrived on Friday and is here until Wednesday, during which time we are planning to cram a whole load of New York-themed fun in.

Yesterday we went to do the Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center, we went to the Bethesda Fountain and the Alice and Wonderland statue (one of my favourite places ever) in Central Park, we paid a visit to the Plaza, we did some window shopping at Saks and Bergforf and we ate a lot of food – lunch at Dean and Deluca followed by frozen hot chocolates at Serendipity.

And yes, if you’re wondering, that is the Serendipity table from the movie – the very same one which played host to John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale when they went on their oh-so adorable New York date all those years ago.

Needless to say I’m having the most amazing weekend. And in a weird way, even though seeing someone from home makes me miss everyone else who isn’t here even more, acting as a tour guide of sorts has helped me to feel as though I’ve finally got to grips a bit with the city, y’know? It’s something of a weird sensation – good and sad all tied up in the same experience.

I hope you guys are all having amazing weekends!

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* gobble *

I won’t lie, I am writing this as I’m about to rush out of my door to go and spend some weekend fun with a family friend who has come to visit, woo hoo.

So please excuse me for being so brief!

Five favourites

Place: BED. As mentioned last week I have been exhausted recently and have pretty much been spending all of my spare time here, haha.

Food: The Harvest Bowl from Sweetgreen.Holy moly is it good.

Experience: The weekend that is still yet to happen!

Read/watch: I’m finally reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch which I’m really enjoying, but it is quite a tricky one to read on the subway – just because you have to maintain a good amount of concentration. BUT it is really great.

Beauty bit: The Victoria Beckham x Nails Inc nail polish. I’m absolutely loving both colours at the moment – they apply like a dream, dry quickly and last for ages. Two perfectly-manicured thumbs up!

Have a good weekend everyone and don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram and @CharlieLanks!

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* it’s still christmas in connecticut *

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* obsessed with this michael kors look *

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* selfie *

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* blue skies and skyscrapers *

UKUS UKUS2

For those of you who don’t know, I made a big old move from London to New York about four months ago in order to start a new job over here in the Big Apple. Needless to say I was pretty excited about the whole thing, particularly – I’ll be honest – because the move meant that I was going to have access to all of the amazing American beauty products that weren’t available in the UK, from budget drugstore brands to high-end stores, like Sephora.

And while you may have noticed from all of my US-based haul posts (you can read those here if you need to catch up), I’ve had a pretty superb time exploring all of the new beauty buying options that have been made available to me over here and I like to think that I’ve taken full advantage of the amazing access that I’ve had to new brands and products that I just couldn’t lay my little paws on in the UK.

However, for anyone in the UK who, like me, has felt a wee bit jealous of the beauty brilliance over here in the US, I just wanted to point out that we are also missing a fair few of my former favourites, which just don’t seem to be as readily available in this country as they were in Boots and Superdrug back home.

Boujois is a brand in particular that I am missing so much. So many people keep waxing lyrical about its latest releases – there’s a face powder and some eyeshadow sticks that I’m seriously keen to try – and I just can’t seem to find them anywhere here in the US. Bourjois just isn’t a brand that seems to be sold in many, if any, stores. Sob.

Then there’s Barry M and Collection. Two of my all-time favourite budget brands, both of which stock a fair few of what I would consider to be my ‘staple’ make-up items, and yet neither of them can be found over here in the US. Yes, we have alternatives – I think Wet n Wild and Nyx are probably the closest we have – but neither, in my opinion, boast products that can beat my most-loved Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer or the Barry M Jelly Hi-Shine Nail Polish, for example.

And when it comes to some British beauty brands that are in fact stocked over here, I’ve often found that they don’t have anywhere near as impressive a selection of products – up until about a week ago, Rimmel was missing my most-loved Kate Moss x Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in 30, while, for some reason, Maybelline US doesn’t seem to sell the amazing Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil or the Forever Strong Super Stay 7 Days Nail Polish.

Then there are high end brands like Jo Malone and Sarah Chapman. Yes, they are available over here – thank goodness – but all of the products are priced even higher than they are back home.

Now, I’m not saying all of this to try and evoke some sympathy from  y’all – I’m just trying to let you British beauty lovers know that you’ve got some pretty ace brands out there yourself, so try not to be too envious of the situation here in the US and embrace what you have back home. And, if that doesn’t work, who wants to do a beauty trade, eh?!

Spray* l’oreal infallible pro-spray & set make up extender setting spray // $13.99 *

I have fairly oily skin, which – although not the most awful thing in the world – can be a bit of a nuisance when it comes to prolonging the freshness of my make-up. In particular, there are a fair few oily patches on my chin, nose and forehead which seem to love chowing down on my foundation throughout the day, leaving me with little to no coverage by the time I head home from work.

So, as you might imagine, setting sprays have long been a key part of my make up routine because they really help to combat the old ‘hungry face’ syndrome, ensuring that your base hangs around all the livelong day. Up until now though, all of the setting sprays that I’ve come across and used have been from more high-end brands, the most well-known being the Urban Decay De-Slick, which has been a favourite now for years.

Oh how things change…

Enter the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Spray & Set Make Up Extender Setting Spray ($13.99)the first (I think?) setting spray to be launched by a drugstore-based beauty brand. Now, let’s be honest, this bad boy could have been a disaster; I won’t name any names, but there have been a few instances in the past when cheaper brands have attempted to launch their own versions of a high end product and they’ve been a total and utter flop.

Now in this case however, because this spray is just ace. Everything from the sleek matte black packaging to the fine mist that the pump delivers is just awesome, as far as I’m concerned. The spray doesn’t have a funky smell, it doesn’t leave a sticky residue (ew), it doesn’t leave your face feeling damp and tacky and it won’t break the bank. What more can you ask really? And in terms of the final result, I couldn’t be more impressed.

This product dramatically increased the wear time of my make up, leaving me with actual foundation on all areas of my face at the end of the day. No hungry face over here! Similarly, it also ensured that I didn’t develop any unsightly oily patches during the day, helping my skin to remain nice and matte – but not at all cake-y. In other words, you won’t turn into a big old greaseball, but if your natural *glow* will still shine through. It’s the perfect compromise!

What do you guys think about L’Oreal’s new setting spray? Are you planning to give it a go?

 

JF1 jf2* julien farel restore treatment // c/o $36 *

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be sent on the best work mission ever, which involved me visiting the super swanky Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa in New York City to try out one of his many superb haircuts and treatments. (If you want, you can read all about it here.)

Anywho, while I was there, Mr Farel used his Julien Farel Restore Treatment (c/o) on my locks, in a bid to make them look and feel a whole heap healthier than their usual dry and frizzy state. Applying the product to the roots of my dry hair, he began massaging it into my scalp, explaining that this process releases all of the dirt, oil and (pardon my French) crap from your hair follicles, which in turn allows your hair to grown more freely.

In other words, it helps you to achieve a lot more natural volume 

And as with all haircuts, after Mr Farel had worked his magic, my hair looked and felt superb. My split ends were gone, my hair was silky smooth, yet bouncy and everything about it just screamed health. But would this wonder product have quite the same effect when put to the test in my own bathroom at home?

After attempting to use it the first time, my answer would be a resounding no. Having used the treatment – I thought - exactly like it was used in the salon, I was horrified to wake up and find that my hair was greasy, lank, and ever so slightly, um, crunchy. It wasn’t pretty. 

But, I was determined to persevere and I’m happy to report that, after round two, my hair was back to its healthy, happy self. Now, I’m pretty sure that the reason round one went so badly is because I didn’t rinse out the product properly. Y’all know me – I like to get things done, y’know? And I think I failed to take enough time to make sure that my hair was actually completely clean. My bad.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case the second time round. And post-wash, my hair felt so clean, soft and lightweight. There wasn’t any heavy product to weigh it down, it had oodles of natural volume and all I wanted to do was *swish swish* it round. Sad, yes, but oh-so true.

So, post-round two, I’m now using the treatment every other wash – and still loving it just as much as the second time I used it.

*swish swish*

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