As some of you may have seen on my Instagram/Twitter/blog, I was lucky enough to head off on holiday to Italy with the fam a couple of weeks ago, a trip which required a speedy 20-hour stop over in London. And naturally, in addition to seeing friends and family, a little chunk of said time had to be spent picking up some of my favourite British beauty bits!

My first stop on my whirlwind tour of Boots was the Barry M counter, where I picked up two of the Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Nail Paintsthe first in a beautiful muted greige colour, Pit Stop, and the other, a pale mint green, Road Rage. Both colours are just stunning and, while I’ve only had the chance to give the polish a really ‘speedy’ (ho ho) trial, I can confirm that the formula is one of the quickest drying I have ever used.

Next up, I sped on to the Soap and Glory counter, where I managed to snag the last Soap and Glory Brow Archery in Blonde. Hailed as a superb drugstore dupe for the Anastasia Brow Wiz, I was so excited to get my hands on this bad boy and I cannot wait to give it a proper trial. The same goes for the Maybelline Master Sculpt Contouring PaletteNow, I’m pretty sure this is available in the US – or that they at least have plans to make it available – but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere, so thought it best to grab one while I had the chance. Once again it was the last light/medium available, and I have to say – after just a couple of uses – I’m pretty impressed.

Another Maybelline favourite, which I’ve loved for months but have yet to find anywhere in the US are the Maybelline Colour Drama Velvet Lip Pencils. I’m such a massive fan of these and couldn’t resist picking up a couple more to boost my supplies; I grabbed my tip top favourite shade, Keep It Classy, because I’ve worn my current one down to a tiny stub, and a new red shade, Red Essential, to see how it compares with the other red in my collection, Light It Up.

And then last, but by no means least, another long-time favourite, the Max Factor All Day FaceFinity Primerprobably my all-time favourite primer, this has been one of the products that I’ve missed the most since moving out to the US, and I was so excited to get my grubby little mitts on another bottle *does happy dance*.

As you may be able to tell from the rather restrained nature of this haul, I really didn’t have that much time to plan what bits and bobs to pick out – imagine supermarket sweep, in a tiny Boots, during a ten-minute window, and you’ll get some idea of what my shopping situation was like!

Needless to say I’m already planning another (longer) trip home…

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* team cupcakes *

What a ruddy busy few weeks, but they’ve also been simply brilliant too.

Five favourites

Place: It’s a tie between home sweet home and the villa we rented in Italy recently. Both beautiful, both relaxing, both sorely missed now I’m back in NY.

Food: Pizza and pasta. And gelato. All Italian food basically.

Experience: Buying my first Prada bag baby, woop woop.

Read/watch: I’m busily catching up on all the ace YouTube clips I missed while away.

Beauty bit: Thank goodness for the Piz Buin After Sun Tan Intensifying Moisturizing LotionI may have accidentally crisped my skin slightly on the first day in Italia and this was my ultimate saviour.

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

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* home sweet home *

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* italian landscape *

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* we’re all going on a… summer holiday *

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* baes *

I’ve been a huge MAC fan for as long as I can remember; it was one of the first high-end beauty brands that I fell in love with (the other being Benefit), and I can still remember the thrill I got when I bought my first bright turquoise eyeliner, which I used so often, I managed to wear it down to a stub within a matter of weeks.

In recent years however, my MAC obsession has slowed slightly… There have still be the odd few purchases, particularly when it comes to the brand’s limited edition collections, which I always love, but otherwise my attentions have been focused elsewhere. Until very recently that is.

While strolling around Manhattan with my flatmate a couple of weeks ago, we decided to pop into a MAC store, just to have a play around with some lipsticks, see what was new and so on – well I was like a kid in a candy store. Within minutes my hand arm was covered in swatches and I was frantically trying to tally up how much all of the 100 hundred products in my basket would cost. Needless to say it was too much for my poor bank account to handle, and I managed to slim the selection down to just two items – both of which I absolutely love.

The first is actually one of the very first items I picked up – a satin finish lipstick called Amorous ($16)The color is one of those rare beauties that look good on just about any person, no matter their coloring or their skintone; the best way I can describe it is actually as a mash-up between two of my other favorite lipsticks from MAC – Brick-o-la and Plumful. It has the same slightly brick-toned red shade in it, which as been mixed with a plum-toned pink. Yeah yeah I’m no good at describing colors. But trust me here, it’s just swell.

Then we have the newest addition to my eyeshadow collection: Honey Lust ($10). For a while now I’ve been looking for a shadow shade to fill a gap in my MAC palette; I ordered a pre-made one a while back (I know, lazy) and there were just one or two shades in it that really didn’t appeal – so I popped ’em out and have replaced them. The first one (a really chalky pink-white shade – no thanks) with All That Glitters (a cult favorite) and now the other (a dark dark black) with this, the most beautiful pale gold shimmer shade that looks so beautiful on the lids, I can’t even begin to describe how in love with it I really am.

Not quite light enough to be champagne, but not dark enough to be gold, it is just the perfect easy-as-you-like color to either whack on by itself, or blend with other warm-toned neutrals for a beautiful summery eye. Needless to say – it’s love. 

Looks like my MAC obsession will be back in full swing pretty darn soon…

It’s ruddy hot over here in New York at the moment. But not just hot, it’s humid too. That awful kind of humidity that fills the air and makes you feel a bit as though you’re walking round in a sauna. Know what I mean?

Now as you can imagine, this kind of hot hot heat, although lovely in terms of topping up the tan (with buckets of SPF, of course), doesn’t do such wonderful things for my make-up. I won’t go into too much awful detail, but there were days earlier on this month when I found myself with more make-up running down my neck than sitting pleasantly on my face.

So, in order to combat the sweatier climate here in NY, I’ve come up with a collection of products that help me to beat the heat and my make-up to stand up to any sweatiness. NICE.

First up: Primer. Although these usually play a part in my day-to-day make-up routine, recently they have become all the more essential, helping me to anchor my foundation to my face, rather than find it slipping down my top five minutes after application. For the face, I turn to the Maybelline Master Prime Blur and Redness Control ($9.99), which not only helps to smooth out my face and blur any imperfections, it also helps to ensure that my make-up lasts throughout the day, and manages to keep any heat-induced redness under control. An all-round winner.

And to ensure my eyeshadow remains stuck in place, I use the L’Oreal Magic De-Crease Eyelid Primer ($8.99), which works wonders and, in my opinion, is just as super as many of its pricier alternatives.

Post foundation and concealer application, I like to do a light dusting of powder, which I find helps to keep everything in place and prevents any over-the-top shiny patches. I have a few face powders that I enjoy using, but my current favorite is the Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Powder ($7.99), which comes complete with a mirror and a sponge, meaning I can sling it in my handbag and use on-the-go should any unwanted sweatiness occur!

Last, but by no means least, a setting spray, the cake on top of what I believe to be the perfect sweat-busting beauty edit. While I’ve dabbled with a couple of other options, the L’Oreal Infallible Pro Spray and Set Make-up Extender Spray ($16.99) remains the favorite; it doesn’t make your face all wet when you apply it, it sprays evenly, and it doesn’t have a weird smell. Plus it makes your make-up stick around, on your face, all day long. Of all the products used here, this one is probably the best when it comes to keeping foundation on the face and not the neck…

Here’s to a hot – but sweat-free! – summer.

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I know, I’ve been gone a wee while. Basically things got a bit hectic around these parts, and then I skipped off on a delightful holiday with my family, my friends and my lovely boyfriend and kind of wanted to switch off for a bit. So I did. And that meant that this here blog went without some love and attention for a little bit.

But I’m back in action – feeling organized and ready to take on the world, and the blogosphere. I’ve even bought a planner and everything.

So thank you, everyone, for bearing with me while I’ve taken some time out to take a breather, it’s much appreciated.

And thanks to everyone who helped to make the past week so ruddy fantastic – to my mama in particular who masterminded the whole dealio, and put up with all of us teasing her mercilessly about her slightly OTT organizational habits. It was a seriously super week.

Before I crack on with this post, allow me to just preface it by saying: I am no skincare expert. I read a heckuva lot of beauty blogs, watch a whole heap of YouTube videos and pour over magazines and beauty books like there is no tomorrow. However, I’m not in anyway qualified as a skincare specialist or a beauty guru or even as a make-up artist.

So there are still a lot of things in the beauty world that baffle me, quite honestly. And retinol is one of those things. I kept reading about it, and hearing how important it was for people in their mid to late twenties to start using it. A quick internet search turned up a whole lot of information, not a lot of it that digestible, however I did ascertain a couple of facts. The first thing is that retinol is a form of vitamin A. So far so good. The second is that it is one of the key ingredients in a lot of anti-ageing products.

Which is where I came up against a few unanswered questions. How old should you be when  you start using it? Does someone of my age (mid-twenties) need to use anti-ageing products every day? And so on.

After a bit more research, I also learned that a lot of people use retinol in order to tackle a lot of acne issues – particularly acne scarring. It seems that the vitamin A helps to stimulate new blood vessels in the skin, which in turn helps your skin to heal and recover. In other words, the retinol helps your skin to fight any damage caused by the acne a lot quicker and more effectively, thereby decreasing the risk of scarring.

And that’s where I hit gold; to me, all of that sounded just great. I suffer from some pretty awful acne scarring and redness on my cheeks and my forehead, which is usually made all the more prominent in the summer – thanks to the sunshine. So I picked me up some retinol and got to work.

Now I admit, I struggled when it came to picking a specific retinol to use. Again more internet research took place, and through this I learned that there is a difference between ‘prescribed retinol’ and the stuff that you get off the shelf in Boots or Duane Read. Obviously the prescribed stuff is going to be a heckuva lot stronger – whereas the stuff you buy in the drugstore will be fine for everyday use, particularly if you’re just using it to clear up a bit of scarring.

So I picked up the Indeed Labs Retinol Reface and have been using it now for around a year… ten months maybe? And I love it. Despite my initially clueless-ness about the whole retinol thang, I can honestly say that this has helped to improve my skin so much – I really don’t know what I would do without it. My scarring has gone down, I’m getting less of those awful under the skin spots that linger for weeks on end, and on the whole my skin feels a lot smoother and plumper.

In other words: two thumbs way, way up (who can guess the movie reference?).

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* make up bag of dreams *

I know, I know. Last week I was all ‘oh I’m going to be such a good blogger this week’ and then I completely failed to upload regularly. BUT, rather than make excuses, I’m just here to tell you that I’m back in business, I’m ready to roll and I promise things are going to pick up around these here parts. Honest honest!

And to those of you who have stuck around during the quiet times, here’s to you, thanks for hanging on!

Five favourites

Place: IKEA! I made a trip there on Saturday and had the best time ever. I even picked up a new Alex in which to stash all my make-up.

Food: IKEA meatballs. Say what you want about them but I think they’re delicious.

Experience: My first Manhattan driving experience. Terrifying, yes, particularly in a ruddy U-Haul van, but some of it was actually quite fun.

Read/watch: I’ve moved onto yet another Jilly Cooper novel, this time it’s The Man Who Made Husbands JealousSo so good.

Beauty bit: An oldie but a goodie – Elizabeth and James Nirvana White EDPIt’s pretty much the only scent that I”ve been reaching for in recent weeks and its heady floral notes are the perfect accompaniment to the warmer weather.

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

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* post storm skies *

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* team cupcakes *

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* just a coupla tourists *

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* barack as bowie *

Goodness gracious it’s been a busy month. I’ve had such a good few weeks doing lots of different fun things – a lot of which I’ve been able to do with G which has made them that much more enjoyable.

With regard to my May beauty habits, there’s been a nice mix of old and new products, although most are make up-related; I’ve been having some issues with my skin during the past few weeks and have been trying to tweak my skincare routine in order to try and find a balance that suits my complexion.

In the meantime though, we have a few ace beauty products, such as the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, which I’ve complimented on so many occasions, so I won’t ramble on about it again here. Needless to say it’s superb. And I’ve been pairing that with an old favorite, the Cover Girl Ready Set Gorgeous Concealer, which works so brilliantly when it comes to covering up my eye bags; it doesn’t crease, it doesn’t cake and it manages to get rid of all that dark misery currently sitting under my peepers.

Then there’s the Ciate Triple Shot Mascara, another longtime favorite that I’ve droned on about so many times. It’s so brilliant, and does fantastic things to my lashes. And I’ve really been loving doing a gold eye at the moment with the Marc Jacobs Highlighner Gel Eye Crayon in SunsetIt’s really pretty and looks so nice with a bit of bronzer too.

I did a bit of a Deborah Lippmann haul the other day and picked up a couple of polishes and some nail care items (want to see a haul? Give me a holler). And two that have already made a seriously good impression are the Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish in Blue Orchid and the Deborah Lippmann The Stripper Hydrating Nail Lacquer Remover. Now I’ll be honest, I picked up the nail polish remover mainly because of the name but it’s actually a seriously amazing product. It gets rid of nail polish in just one swipe, but doesn’t dry out the nail at all. The polish meanwhile is just beautiful. The colour is so stunning, and works so well now that I have a wee bit of a tan.

The very few skincare items that I have include the Eyeko Hydrogel Eye Patches which have been so great when it comes to chilling out my slightly puffy eyes. The hot weather tends to make my eyes a bit red and sore and these just help to calm them down. And then I add the Philosophy Hope in a Jar Eye Cream which is so lovely and soothing. It calms down my eyes, helps combat dry skin and de-puffs. It’s beautiful.

Last but not least, we have SPF. Sunscreen-wise, I can’t ever see myself using another option than than the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SunscreenIt blends into the skin so nicely, doesn’t leave a horrible tacky feeling after it’s been applied and gives really good protection. I even use it on my face and thus far it hasn’t made me break out or anything, which is incredibly rare. When it comes to my lips however, I’ve been opting for the Chapstick SPF 30Nothing fancy at all, but it does the job, and that’s all I really need!

What products have you been loving this month?

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* typical brits abroad *

I’ve been ever so rubbish on the blogging front lately, and I can only apologise for being less than consistent with my posts and so on.

It’s been a really busy – but brilliant – few weeks, mainly because G has been here to visit and it’s been so ruddy lovely to see him.

I promise I’ll be back on form in the near future so please do bear with me. And if you feel like checking in on what we’ve been up to, head over and follow me on Instagram and Twitter, where I’ve been sharing plenty of updates!

Five favourites

Place: Smorgasburg. Again. We went yesterday, ate all of the food, and it was brilliant.

Food: The truffle oil fries at Smorgasburg. Holy moly they were delicious.

Experience: Lacrosse final fours in Philadelphia. Such a superb weekend.

Read/watch: Still going strong on Jilly Cooper, and have also started watching Revenge, which I love.

Beauty bit: All of the sunscreen. I got burnt so badly last weekend and have been slathering the stuff on ever since.

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

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* celebrating a big win for the lady terps *

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* such a beautiful sky *

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* so happy to have this guy here *

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* even the stairs at the new whitney are a work of art *

 

As G will no doubt delight in telling you, I can be a bit of a control freak sometimes… on occasion (ok, ok, all the time).

And at times it’s become a bit much to be honest. Particularly when I moved over to the US; while on the surface I felt fine and was having a ball with the whole thing, deep down my body and my mind were trying to tell me that they were struggling a bit with all of the changes and the pressures that are involved in moving home, country and jobs all at once.

So in order to try and keep my anxiety levels in check, I’ve tried to implement a few super simple changes into my routine to try and ensure that I stay on top of things without getting stressed out or anxious.

One of my favorite activities is what I like to call the weekly reset. It’s basically just a period of time at the end of the week, or on the weekend – be it half an hour, an hour, several hours, whatever I have time for – when I can take some time to de-stress, relax, do a bit of beauty stuff, sort out my to-do lists and all those other potentially-irritating tasks that would no doubt bum me out at any other time.

You can really get on with whatever you like during this time; personally, when it comes to beauty, I opt for a mini facial (a nice cleanse with something like the Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser, a mask with something like the Sanctuary Spa Five Minute Thermal Detox Mask), a hair-smoothing session (for this I turn to the Julien Farel Restore and the L’Oreal Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm), and a good moisturise (always the Jergens Original Moisturiser for this).

Often while my hair and face masks are doing their thing, I’ll pop on some YouTube videos, or Netflix (I’m loving Revenge at the mo) and settle down to wash my make-up brushes. It’s a task I loathe but I find that when I have other things to keep me distracted, the time tends to pass a lot quicker than it would normally. Plus, I’ll light a few candles to keep things nice and relaxed and treat myself with a delightful soak in the tub afterwards. That tends to sweeten the deal.

After that fun is done, I settle down to a bit of admin and sort out my diary and my to-do lists for the week or the weekend, depending on when the weekly reset is taking place. I get all of my dates, events, work schedules etc into my planner, and jot down a few things on my to-do list (it’s usually really boring stuff like laundry, groceries etc).

And there you have it. Sounds so so simple and perhaps a bit boring to some, but I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me to feel more in control and at ease about my whole week, freeing up a lot more time that might have been spent worrying to chill out and have fun.

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