Monday, 20 April 2015

Instyle Best Beauty Buys 2015 event at John Lewis, Southampton - March 2015

It's no secret that I'm no whizz when it comes to makeup. I know the basics - I can make myself look presentable for a night out, I love a little eyeliner, and can't resist a slick of red lipstick.

However, I struggle with the basics of contouring, can't cope with concealer and am still getting to grips with using a foundation brush instead of my fingers.

This is something I'd love to change - I'm gradually trying to teach myself using blogger tutorials and Youtube videos, branching out with my purchases and reading reviews and advice. 

So back in March, when a friend asked if I wanted to attend the Instyle Best Beauty Buys 2015 event at Southampton's John Lewis, I couldn't wait! I'm always looking to harvest information from professionals, and this was the perfect opportunity.

We gathered a big group of girls together, and set off for a night of beauty. Upon arrival we were given a mysterious little bottle and spritzed with Miss Dior (which, by the way, smells divine!). We then entered the room where the event was being held and immediately headed towards the bubbly and canapés, as anyone would!

The view from the top floor of John Lewis was absolutely stunning and made sure it was the perfect venue.

Before the talk we were given the chance to talk to a few brands - Clarins, Liz Earle, Sisley and MAC. It was really interesting to hear about some of their new products. The girls at the tables were all so friendly and helpful and I learned a lot - though I'm not sure I'll be treating myself to the Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask which is nearly £100! 

Once we had settled down, the talk began, lead by Cassie Steer (Beauty Director) and Catherine Scale (acting Beauty Assistant), who were both lovely and engaging and very, very glam! We were told all about some of their favourite products which had been chosen as winners of the 2015 awards, and given the chance to ask them some questions afterwards - which I loved.

As a fan of the high street, with my funds favouring Superdrug and Boots, I wanted to know what their recommendations were for beauty on a budget.

Catherine and Cassie both recommended mascara from L'oreal, Borjouis eyeshadow quads, and Rimmel Apocolips for fail-safe options. This was good news for me as I adore the Apocolips range, and I'll definitely bear the other recommendations in mind when I need to top up my makeup bag.

When asked for a suggested non-sticky lipgloss, they suggested the MAC Lipglass, or Dior lipgloss, and Sechevite was a winner for best topcoat.

The ladies also recommended MAC and Revlon  for good quality brushes, but suggested the Beauty Blender sponge for a perfectly polished look.

The most interesting thing for me, however, was the news that the same technology is often used for high street brands as more luxury products if the brand comes from the same cosmetics house. As someone who really is a novice with cosmetics brands, this was excellent news, and something I will definitely look into before my next shopping spree.

After the talk finished, we snaffled a few more canapés and headed down to the makeup department to redeem our £10 ticket against some products and pick up our goody bags.

And, oh! What goody bags! I couldn't believe some of the gifts we received - so many from brands I never treat myself to! But more on that at the end of this post.

This is where the mysterious little pot came in. We were advised to head over to the Dior counter to have our skin matched with a sample to take home. I've never ever treated myself to a luxury foundation so this was a true experience and so far I've really enjoyed using my sample. Maybe I will invest in the future.

I used my £10 ticket against a new MAC lipstick to add to my collection - I couldn't resist! Instead of my signature read, however, I wanted a neutral shade to wear on a daily basis. I opted for Fanfare, and it's the perfect my-lips-but-better shade. I like to think it only cost me £5! 

Once the evening had finished, the girls and I made our way to the local Thai restaurant, Mango, for some Pad Thai and jungle-themed cocktails, which made the perfect end to a great evening.

When I got home, I had to rifle through my gift bag. I couldn't believe some of the goodies they had supplied for us to try! Yves Saint Laurent, Clinique, Clarins and Elemis all make an appearance, and the best part was that they are all usable products in my daily routine. So often with gift bags you find you're gifted products which you're unlikely to use everyday, but these are all indulgent essentials and I can't wait to try them all. So far, the YSL serum and Clinique eye cream are winners for me.

You can read all of the Instyle Winners on the John Lewis website if you're interested. I will definitely be taking on all of the advice I was given on the day!

I'll now be keeping an eye out for local events similar to this so that I can learn even more and expose myself to new products and ideas. I really enjoyed the John Lewis Instyle event!

Did you go to the Instyle event? What are your failsafe beauty products?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Life's Loves: March Favourites

It’s been another busy month in my life - as always! The last few weekends have been filled with plane and train journeys aplenty, with a luxury weekend in London (staying at Artist Residence, brunching at Source in Battersea and enjoying afternoon tea on a London bus), a long weekend in Hamburg (numerous posts to follow), a Mother’s Day trip home and a luxurious ESPA facial. I feel like I haven’t really had a moment to breathe, but it’s the kind of busyness I relish, seeing loved ones and experiencing exciting new things.

Naturally, a few of these experiences will crop up in this month’s favourites, and some others will be items I’ve picked up along the way which I have fallen in love with!

As always, the names always link to relevant sites so you can view (and maybe order) a few of these things for yourself. I hope this might introduce you to a few new favourites too.


I’ve religiously stuck to an old favourite for foundation for years and years. My trusty Bourjois Healthy Mix lasted well, but at the end of February I felt the need to try something new, and picked up a pair of Rimmel’s new offerings in a Boots 2 for £10 offer (which meant that, technically, one of these bottles only cost me £3!).

I like to review products after I’ve had a good chance to try them, and I’m sure I’ll be writing a more in-depth piece later this month / next month. However, I’ve loved using these two so far. I opted for the lighter coverage foundation as I’m not a fan of covering my skin in a thick layer of warpaint every single day, but it makes a nice change from my usual daily BB cream. I’m very pleased with the colour, texture and coverage, and am actually enjoying using it - which doesn’t happen much!


At the very beginning of the month I attended the Instyle Best Beauty Buys event at my local John Lewis. The £10 ticket to the event could be put towards a purchase that evening, and so I couldn’t resist adding to my steadily growing MAC lipstick collection - after all, it only technically cost me £5!

I wanted a more neutral colour to wear on a more daily basis than my bright Ruby Woo and Rhianna Viva Glam shades. After a little bit of pondering, I plumped for Fanfare - a lovely simple pink shade which doesn’t stand out too much, but gives my lips a beautiful tint and shine. I’ve worn this beauty a lot and it’s even suitable for the office.

I recently told you about my luxurious ESPA facial experience with Jo at John Lewis in Southampton, and since then I have been using the samples I was given on a very regular basis. ESPA products really are an indulgent treat for a high-street beauty buyer like myself, but it really does make a difference as my skin feels divine after using them. I’m yet to work out which I really love, but I’m sure I’ll be sharing them when I know!

This is possibly one of the most indulgent products I own. I was also gifted this in my goody bag at the Instyle Best Beauty Buys event! I'll be completely honest - I wasn't entirely sure what to do with this product at first, but after a little research I began applying it as a base, and loved the feel of it on my skin. This serum has been formulated to create a radiant and even-toned base for your face, reflecting light and correcting uneven skin tone and dark circles. It feels a little strange applying something shimmer, especially when you're just heading to the office, but this has become a firm favourite and I'm enjoying using something a little special. I'm not certain it's doing exactly what it promises, but it's fun to use and smells lovely.


I’d never heard of & Other Stories until my friend introduced me to the store in Hamburg. Now I’m aware of the store it’s popping up all over Instagram - which is always the way! I hear there’s a store in London, so I’ll be popping in next time I’m nearby as I have utterly fallen in love with all of their products!

I’m trying to expand my somewhat paltry jewellery collection and am enjoying wearing more rings, so I couldn’t resist picking up a couple to take back as a memento of my long weekend in Germany. I fell for a delicate rose gold / bronze single link ring with a simple detail, and a 'dark silver' ring which is perfect to wear on my thumb. I’ve been wearing both nonstop - though the thumb ring is a little big and I have nearly lost it a few times! I’d love to pick up some more of their pieces.

Food & Drink

I’ve been meaning to visit Mettricks in Southampton for months after hearing fellow local blogger Annie Writes Beauty  raving about it! I love a local coffee shop, and finally popped in after my ESPA facial with my housemate. I tried my first ever London Fog there - along with a cheeky slab of delicious brownie - and it was such a lovely place to while away a few hours. The staff were friendly and the atmosphere was so relaxed. There were students in there working on projects and friends catching up over coffee - and let me tell you, London Fog is a firm favourite of mine now. I’ll be back for more soon, Mettricks!

Fashion & Fitness

In my bid to run faster and better for my looming 10km, I splashed out on some proper footwear to replace my five-year-old trainers which wouldn’t look out of place in my Year 9 P.E. classes. After a little guidance from staff at my local Sports Direct, I plumped for a pair from Karrimor. They’re bright pink and black and are made almost entirely of reflective material - and are lighter than air! Pink isn’t usually my colour, but they seem to make running more exciting. So far they’ve been a joy to use and have made it easier to run further. I also managed to get them reduced from £80 to just under £40 (though I think they're even cheaper now!) so it really was an investment. I’m looking forward to using these even after my run is over.


To the Letter, by Simon Garfield

I'm not one for non-fiction books. Upon visits to Waterstones, or my local independent bookstore, I am drawn towards novels and cook books. However, I was gifted this book for my birthday last year, and it's really satisfied my inner academic! I've always been one for education and interesting facts, and this book really does the trick. Although I've only read a few chapters so far, I am keen to finish it. Garfield's book recounts the history of correspondence, and is written in a truly engaging way - it's not stuffy at all. A must-read for any keen letter-writers or collectors of interesting facts! I'll look forward to reviewing this once I've finished it.

What have been your favourites over the last month? I'd love to hear your thoughts on my top picks - have you ever used any of them? Let me know in the comments!

She Wears Burgundy

Saturday, 11 April 2015

What to expect from an ESPA Facial at John Lewis, Southampton

Back at the end of 2014, I was introduced to ESPA at the Southampton Bloggers meet up. After a little consultation and a chat with the lovely Jo from the counter at Southampton's John Lewis, I left with a small batch of samples, which I used with much enthusiasm. My skin never felt so soft and it all smelt amazing! Since that weekend they have been my go-to products for a Sunday-night pamper session.

I was also kindly given a leaflet which gave me the opportunity to enjoy a 30 minute facial with ESPA, and after trying to fit it in to my busy weekends, I finally went along to enjoy thirty minutes of luxury!

I met Jo at the ESPA counter  at midday one Saturday and, after a quick introduction, I was lead to the beauty room. I had no idea that this room was in John Lewis, as it's tucked away - it really is a hidden gem, as it means that you're never too far away from the opportunity for a little pampering.

Having only ever experienced a massage before, I wasn't sure what to expect from a facial! Jo left me to sort myself out at first. After filling out an information sheet about my health and any conditions or concerns I may have, I removed my top (leaving my bra, straps down, on - thank goodness!). I tucked myself under the towels and lay on the bed waiting for Jo to return. I was both excited and nervous.

The room was incredibly peaceful, considering I was in the middle of one of the biggest shops in Southampton's West Quay shopping centre. I could hear distant sounds of shoppers, but my surroundings were so lovely I barely noticed. The room was dimly lit, giving the feel of candles and glowing lights - it was comfortably warm, the towels and bed were soft and cosy and I felt very safe (which is important when you're feeling a little vulnerable).

Jo was wonderful and made sure I was comfortable and relaxed before starting the cleansing process, using products to ensure my skin was clean and clear and ready for treatment. It was a great start to the experience and my face felt so fresh afterwards! I was asked to smell two cleansers - the strongest scent would indicate what my skin needed the most, which was a great way of allowing my body to choose products according to its response. I loved this, and ended up opting for a beautiful floral cleanser.

Next came an analysis. Jo explained to me that she would dim the lights and hold a mirror up before shining UV lights onto my skin. This was so that we could see what was really going on - sometimes what your skin does on the surface doesn't reflect what it really needs. For example, my skin may be dry on the surface, causing me to use hydrating products, but underneath it may be incredibly oily, which would require a different skincare routine altogether.

I had explained at the beginning that my skin was dry, with hormonal outbreaks and scarring. I wasn't surprised, then, that when the UV light was shone up to my skin that the feedback was focusing on dehydration. I was shown that I had black patches beneath my eyes and on my cheekbones, when the rest of my skin showed purple, meaning that my skin really was very, very dry. I also had tiny orange dots around my nose, indicating oily skin. Jo confirmed that I needed to focus on hydrating my skin, and would need to start using eye cream to ensure that I would start preventing early ageing, which I'm at risk of. At nearly 25, I was wondering when I should start getting concerned about this, so I was pleased (and admittedly a little shocked!) when she told me this.

I have to admit, I'm not overly surprised my skin is so thirsty - I've always struggled with keeping myself properly hydrated, and barely drink throughout the day. This has been just one of a number of alarm bells from my body telling me to drink more, so it's time to start getting serious about liquids.

After the analysis, which was a real highlight for me,  Jo set about pampering my face, neck and decolletage according to what my body really needed. I lay on the bed as her fingers tapped, stroked and rubbed my face, working its magic, occasionally asking me friendly questions and explaining what she was up to so that I'd know how to care for my skin at home. She even massaged the back of my neck and top of my shoulders. I was allowed to relax...and boy, did I.

Last year I went to the Marriott Hotel in Bearsted and had my first full body massage, which I loved but didn't feel I could fully relax during. This facial however left me feeling extremely calm.

As the session ended, Jo gave me a moment to sort myself out, and I sat in a daze for a few minutes in that calm, glowing room.

At the end, Jo gave me a list of all the products she'd used in case I wanted to treat myself in the future, and also provided a few generous samples of the products which had been rubbed and massaged into my skin during the past thirty minutes. I left and wandered around West Quay for a few hours afterwards feeling as if I was walking on clouds. I didn't want to break the calm that had come over me and was so delighted that it had soothed me so much!

Another little perk was that I felt that I could shop in Southampton's city centre for a few hours after my facial (still in a daze!) with no makeup on. I was barefaced, but I truly and honestly could not have cared less. I felt amazing, I was confident that I could care for my skin, and I was at the calmest I had been in a long time.

That evening I texted Jo to thank her for the experience, and I really could not be more grateful for those amazing thirty minutes that she gave me. I have never felt so relaxed and so happy with my own skin. It really was what I needed.

Since my consultation and facial I have banished those drying facial wipes from my routine (except for dire emergencies!) and have started cleansing every day with micellar water, using serums, moisturisers and eye cream every night. I'm hoping to see a real difference in my skin - and in my general health too, as I endeavour to drink more during the day.

If you'd like a facial experience and some luxury product advice, I'd really recommend checking out ESPA at your local John Lewis, if they have a counter. If you hail from Hampshire, I can't recommend seeing Jo enough. You'll have a really luxurious experience which is more than just a relaxation session, but an education as well, and Jo is just so friendly and helpful.

I hope to return to the ESPA beauty room in the future (the brand is slightly out of my budget, but I may indulge and treat myself!) - however, in the meantime, I'll be taking better care of my skin - and what's under it.

Have you ever been for a facial, or used ESPA products? I'd love to hear your thoughts and about your favourite items. 

She Wears Burgundy