Ever since returning from my holiday a few weeks ago, I’ve been feeling pretty darn knackered and getting out of bed each morning is an ongoing struggle. However, I’ve also been trying my hardest to make better use of the pretty extensive collection of make-up that I have at my disposal – rather than just chucking a blob of foundation on my face, slapping on a bit of powder and leaving it at that, which, I’ll admit, had become my more regular routine in the weeks leading up to my holiday.

So in order to try and make the most out of the big ole beauty collection that I’ve amassed, I decided I would try and come up with a simple summer make-up formula that would be quick and easy, applied with the minimum amount of fuss, but that can serve as a base for whatever other, more wild and crazy products I wanted to add into the mix. Or, for those days when I feel like keeping things a bit more laidback, can be worn by itself.

Well you know what? It’s taken a fair few weeks but I think I’ve cracked it.

Kicking off with three drugstore face base favorites – the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte 24hr Foundation ,the Maybelline Master Conceal Face Studio Camouflaging Concealer and the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Powder. All have incredibly long-winded names, but at the same time, all are so easy to use, work really well on my face, and last in the horrible New York humidity. Win.

To add an all-around ‘summer glow’ (cringe), I’m very much enjoying the Phsycian’s Formula Happy Booster Glow & Mood Boosting Powder; it’s really light, and doesn’t add any unwanted ‘orange’ to the skin, just a nice healthy glow, which means I can top it up with contour or blusher if I so choose, or leave it as is for a more natural look.

My super simple go-to eye look at the moment, involves swiping two of the Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color Pencils – in Angel and Immortal – across my lids, with the darker Immortal in the crease and the champagne-toned Angel in the inner corner, smudging ’em out with my finger and then leaving them there. If I’m feeling really adventurous I’ll add a brush into the mix, or perhaps another shade to give more definition to the crease, in which case the two Nudestix pencils serve as a great primer/shade base, but otherwise that’s that. And it works well.

Last but not least I whip out my favourite mascara of the moment – the Ciate Triple Shot Mascara – and that’s pretty much me done. Occasionally I’ll choose to spice things up with a bold lip color – as in the above right photo – or sometimes I’ll really go all out and add a slick of liquid eyeliner. Oh yeah, I’m wild. But whatever else I decide to do with my look, this simple selection provides a pretty perfect base – if I do say so myself!


* barry m speedy quick dry nail polish in road rage // £3.99 *

 Once again I am well behind the times – shock! – and I find myself catching onto a good old thing a wee bit late. BUT, in this case, I have an actual excuse – I believe that this brilliant new (ish) product came out after I moved over here to the US, and I’ve only just been back for the first time since the big move so haven’t had time to check ’em out yet. OK?

So, excuses out of the way, without further ado, I should probably tell you what product it is that I’m babbling on about.

Say hello ladies and gents to the Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Nail Polish in Road Rage (£3.99)the latest addition to what has become a somewhat out-of-control collection of mint green nail polishes. In fact I’m pretty sure the title of this post has been used by yours truly in the past – on more than one occasion! – but in this case I just couldn’t resist adding one more pretty polish to the selection.

So what was it that made the Barry M polishes oh-so exciting? Well, first of all – I’ll be honest – it was a little bit to do without the huge amount of hype surrounding them when they first came out. Being over here in the US, knowing that I couldn’t get my hands on them, made them all the more appealing.

Then there is the colour selection – all complete with fun car-appropriate names, the pastel-toned shades are just beautiful, and I’m not sure there’s a single shade in there that I would ever say no to…!

Now, with the more cosmetic stuff aside, let’s move on to the meaty stuff: the formula. Hailed as one of the quickest nail polishes around, these Barry M delights sure did have a lot of chat to live up to. But thankfully, I admit I was impressed. While not quite the lightening speed I had in mind (we’re talking milliseconds here people) the polish does dry really ruddy quickly, making a speedy manicure so much easier and more enjoyable.

Plus, it dries down to a shiny, gel-like finish, that stays put through pretty much anything, particularly when paired with a good topcoat.

(Oh, and did I mention how cute the little bottle is?)

Not much more you can ask for in a polish really, is there?

I cannot for the life of me understand how it’s July already. HOW? Summer feels like it’s in full swing here in the US of A – and from what I gather from all you guys back in the UK, it’s pretty darn hot over there at the moment too!

And with that in mind, I’m going to crack on with my first favorite which will no doubt come as little surprise to most of you: Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraîche Skinscent ($65). This stuff is literally summer in a bottle, as far as I’m concerned. It has the most amazing coconutty scent that immediately transports me to my last holiday whenever I wear it. I’m hooked and it’s pretty much all I’ve been wearing since June. The above is last year’s bottle but I may have already purchased a bottle from this year’s collection too. You know, just in case.

Another sun-focused favourite has been my Claire’s Fruit Emoji Sunglasses ($12). These bad boys are pretty much the only shades I’ve been wearing thus far this summer; I know they’re slightly crazy and a bit ‘out there’, I just can’t get enough. Plus they’re ruddy cheap as chips (sorry, fries) which makes them all the more appealing!

Moving on to some make-up goodness, and the Nyx Blush in Dusty Rose ($5). This is my first blusher from the brand and I have to say I’m totally hooked. The colour is subtle, but by no means non-existent, and it just gives that perfect natural flush to the face that adds a delightful glow. It’s quick, easy and effective – everything you want in a beauty product basically.

Sticking with the easy and effective theme, we have the Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color Pencil in Immortal ($24)This bad boy has become one of my favourite go-to products for super simple make-up looks; you just swipe it across your eyelid, smudge with a brush or a finger, and you’re ready to go with a perfect bronze eye. If you really feel like going all-out, use it to line your eyes too and add a bit more of an edge to the look. Simple pimple. 

The last make-up product of the batch is the Lancome Color Design 5 Shadow & Liner Palette in Beige Brulee ($50). Another one product wonder, this eyeshadow palette comes complete with every shade you need to create the perfect eye combination. There’s a pale colour to put all over the lid and tone down any blue colouring, there’s a taupe-y beige shade, there’s a deep brown for the crease, a shimmer shade for the inner corners, and an even darker brown to line the eye. On the days when I’m not using the aforementioned one-swipe Nudestix pencil, this is all I’ve been reaching for.

Last up on the list is something a bit silly – but also ruddy brilliant – the Cake Batter Chapstick ($2.99)This bad boy is an old classic – with a sweet new twist in the form of the delightful flavour. It keeps my lips nice and soft, smells delicious, and also tastes pretty super too! (Not that I eat it. Much.)

Here’s to a happy July y’all.

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.


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 *

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