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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Review - Gel mani and pedi at Muse of London

All throughout my life I have been scolded by various folk for naughty chipped nail polish. Although I am a self confessed beauty addict, I have never had the patience to sit at home and paint my nails religiously or remove my polish when it's looking worse for wear.

This is why a good gel manicure every two weeks is essential to my life (nobody deserves to be mocked for ineptly painted nails).

Before a recent trip to the sunny Spanish isle of Mallorca, I booked myself in to West End pamper parlour Muse of London - renowned for it's cutting edge (see what I did there) hair stylists, eclectic decor and talented nail technician, the lovely Holly.

When I arrived, flustered and windswept, I was invited to relax in a stylish lounge area where I could choose from a range of herbal teas and glossy magazines.

Before I knew it, I was whisked downstairs to a rather glamorous sofa - complete with double foot baths - perfect for preening ones toes with a buddy or a feet-fondling lover.

After a good soak, Holly exfoliated my troubled tootsies with a pumice stone and soothing creme scrub before filing and painting my toenails a classic pillar box red.

My nails were then shaped and polished in a matching colour using Shellac, which has always been my gel polish of choice due to its long lasting nature and gloriously glossy finish.

I then left Muse of London to rush home and pack for my holiday in my usual last minute, frenzied state, yet with fabulously mock-proof nails.


Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Review - Secret Extensions and Zen Hair

I love thick, flowing, excessively-long, barbie-style hair. There. I said it and I am not ashamed.

For me, long hair is the epitome of femininity and sensuality. When my hair looks sad, I feel sad too, so it's essential I get that fabulously fresh weave in before an exciting holiday with the girls or a special night out.
I have been unashamedly in love with hair extensions for many years now, and thankfully due to the non-invasive methods of my regular stylist, Shannel Watson of Secret Extensions, my natural locks have remained in a pleasing condition.

Shannel shuns the use of toxic glue, which is the most common attachment method of extensions in the UK and is known to cause damage to the hair, severe irritation to the scalp, dermatitis and all manner of allergic reactions.

For those of you who prefer individual extensions, Shannel has invented her own hand-tied extensions called Brazilian Knots, involving the attachment of thin strands of natural hair to the roots by a tiny plait and organic cotton thread. The whole process takes about 4 - 5 hours but the results are truly worth it.

From my experience, I feel that as long as you look after your extensions (hold the hair from the roots before you brush, plait your hair before you swim/sleep, use high quality, nourishing hair products etc) and stay away from the ones that are attached by glue, your hair will be fine.

Shannel Watson smiling. Smiling, because those customers keep on coming back...
Whilst I've been lucky enough to find such an expert hair extension technician, it has been quite the conundrum to find the perfect hair to enhance my needy mane.
That is until I heard about Zen Luxury Hair Extensions - beloved by beauty bloggers, models in search of beautiful barnets and the sultry Kardashian sisters.

The company's website states that it has over 35 years of experience in the industry and that it uses a special source guaranteed to provide 100% virgin Remy hair of the highest quality.

As always, I was at first skeptical about such 'too good to be true' claims. I was overly familiar with such pompish talk from extension brands and would usually end up crying into a frazzled, shaggy mess after a few weeks of trying an unknown hair company's hair.

Zen Hair actually impressed me.

You can purchase three different 'series' of Zen hair - Pure, Luxury and Ultimate, which all increase slightly in quality levels.

I opted for three packs of the Luxury Series in 20 inches. This brand of hair is sold in a much smaller amount that other hair extensions, so you will need at least 3 to 4 packs for a satisfactory, voluminous look.

Each section of hair features a sticky section which is supposed to be stuck directly onto the roots of your hair. Being a pure weave advocate, Shannel simply sewed the hair into thin braids and the effect was outstanding.

The whole process took about 45 minutes and I was left with gorgeous long, shiny tresses, worthy of a cheesy shampoo advert - as you can see in the images below;

After blow drying only

After extensions are curled using heated rollers

I would recommend Secret Extensions and Zen Luxury Hair to anyone interested increasing the volume and length of their hair. After three months, the quality of my tresses are in perfect condition and for the first time ever, I am able to reuse the same hair when I get my weave redone next week. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Review - Elli 100% natural body balm

Due to my unyielding love of fine foods, I have been recently posting about my various culinary jaunts across the capital - but today I feel like going back to my organic/natural beauty roots by writing about my ardent love for my latest skincare discovery.

I was given the Elli Body Balm by the lovely people at Herbs-APlenty - a South African face and body care company specialising in natural and organic products that smell of pure jubilation.

First of all, I must blather on about how much I love the packaging - simple, slightly retro lettering and chic bright colours.

Then I must express my adoration for the wholesome ingredients list. I can't explain the feeling of intense happiness I get when I read the back of a new beauty product and am faced with lovely herby names such as 'matricaria chamomilla' and 'lavandula Marie' - a stark contrast to the scary chemical titles of PEG-40 and blahblahparaben, so commonly found lurking on the ingredients lists of even the most innocent looking containers.

This blissful balm is described on the packaging as "a calming and nourishing blend of Shea Butter and Marula Oil, enhanced with indigenous African essential oils." 

Shea Butter is excellent for deeply moisturising dull, dry skin, whereas marula oil is said to contain a whopping 60% more free radical busting antioxidants than argan oil - ideal for treating sun damaged and crepe-like post summer skin. 

I admit that my skin did feel rather nourished and my mood calmer as I smoothed on this deliciously-scented body balm. The texture is gorgeous - not too greasy, yet rich enough to leave my post-showered self silky soft from head to toe.

I also loved the sexy sheen left on my skin after using this product - perfect for donning a little black dress before a glamorous night out in London Town.