Brunch is probably my favourite meal, which I think we should all take more time to appreciate and indulge in. What’s even better in my opinion is when you come across a brunch menu that isn’t filled with the typical dishes that are synonymous with this trendy past time. Smashed avocado on toast is great but let’s be real, we’ve all mastered this to perfection.
If there’s one thing we all hate, it’s eyeliner that smudges. So wanting to try something new, I found myself in my go to make-up store, KIKO Cosmetics and purchased their Lasting Gel Eyeliner. Now, I’ve heard about these type of liners and seen countless YouTube tutorials about their application and the different type of wings you can create with a bit of brush control. However, I’ve never really seen much in terms of reviews of the actual product.
Up for a make up challenge, I went home happy with my purchase, which included the EYES 209 brush.
Using my current pen liner as a guide for the first application, the gel had a thick, creamy texture, leading me to believe that it would take some time to dry. However once applied, drying time was less than 30 seconds, leaving a deep, jet black shade. If you’re not familiar with applying eyeliner using a brush, then the first couple of applications will be a little tricky. My advice is to practice as much as you can, and use another eyeliner as a guide to help you if need be.
What I love about this purchase is the way KIKO’s gel liner simply doesn’t budge. Panic usually sets in when I realise that I may have smudged a perfectly lined eye, but I was shocked to see that this gel liner was still intact despite the odd accidental itch. The colour is just as intense as it looks and the fine brush allows you to be as precise as you want.
When removing this eyeliner, it’s worth noting that it isn’t the easiest of liners to clean off. Using a good eye make up remover should do the trick, especially if it’s oil based. I tend to stick to my usual skincare routine using Liz Earle’s Cleanse and polish. Gently massaging the cream into my eyelids and then using the muslin cloth in warm water to wipe away the gel liner usually does the trick. You may need to go over the eye area a few times in order to remove completely, so be gentle and use a soft, eye-friendly material.
To ensure all residue is completely removed, I recommend using Liz Earle’s Eyebright soothing eye lotion afterwards.
I’m so glad I went with my gut and purchased KIKO’s gel eyeliner. Despite being told that it’s easier to use a pen liner, I don’t think you get the same finish and staying power. Also, there comes a point when the colour intensity of a pen liner will begin to fade, but you’re guaranteed a deep and dark application every time when you use KIKO’s gel liner. At £8.90 you’re hardly breaking the bank. The KIKO EYES 209 brush retails for £10.90. A very inexpensive purchase, which when paired together can have stunning results.
Try it for yourself.
Across the road from my fourth floor Oxford Street office stands KIKO Milano – an Italian cosmetics brand founded in 1997. Their mission as stated on their website is to ‘allow all women to treat themselves to the most innovative cosmetics without having to sacrifice their budget’ – sounds like music to a make-up addict’s ears.
There’s nothing better than walking out of a store armed with all your make-up essentials and knowing that you won’t have to resort to water and the complimentary office fruit to get you through to the next pay day.
On this particular visit, face masks and concealer was high on the agenda – despite shelling out a fortune previously on MAC’s Studio Finish Concealer, which I found did nothing but make my skin look like rust with it’s random reddish hue.
Unlike the MAC concession in Selfridges, staff at KIKO are not only friendly and approachable, but know their products, which is essential in winning over a customer’s trust and having you feel at ease knowing that your make-up woes are in good hands.
So… on to the all important purchases…
KIKO Skin Evolution Concealer
With make-up so heavily priced nowadays, you wonder what you’re going to get for a concealer priced at £5.50. I’ll tell you what you get – coverage that doesn’t make your under eyes and blemishes look rusty red. A little goes a long way with this travel-friendly miracle. Usually I’m not a huge fan of concealers and foundation – most of the time I simply apply powder and I’m on my way. The concealer itself is quite light and for someone who is seriously picky when it comes to her under eyes, I’m more than happy with the finished result when I apply my powder on top. Beware though, it is so tempting to over-apply. As with most concealers, resist the temptation as this will lead to it creasing. I’ve only used this concealer during summer however, so it will be interesting to see how it fares during seasonal changes. Best blended with your finger, the search has been a long and financially painful one to find a concealer that truly suits my skin complexion. Though nothing will ever be absolutely perfect, this is as close to perfection as I think I’m going to come in my quest to find a concealer that truly compliments me.
I’ve found that my skin tone is best suited to shade number 05 – Linen Beige, but there are another seven shades to choose from.
KIKO Purifying Mask
The only face mask I’ve used religiously is by Liz Earle and it’s done a good job every time, so finding an alternative has been a real challenge. But again, taking cost into account, there has to be a more affordable alternative for those who don’t want to break the bank when it comes to building their ultimate skin care regime. KIKO’s Purifying Mask was recommended based on my skin concerns – breakouts, blemishes and my skin type which is combination.
Massaging a thick layer on to my skin after cleansing, leave for approximately 10 – 15 minutes and then remove with loads of warm water or a damp sponge. My skin was definitely brighter and felt fresher. The aim of this face mask is to remove dead skin cells, give skin a long lasting matte look without drying it out completely and reducing those pesky blemishes. Only consistent long-term use will prove whether or not blemishes are significantly reduced, but based on my first use I would definitely continue using this product. Priced at an incredibly affordable £5.90, it is paraben-free and non-comedogenic.
It is worth noting that KIKO offers a range of masks tailored for specific concerns so getting a consultation in store is highly recommended.
Overall, I love this brand. It’s a fresh change from the common MAC product reviews you see all over the internet. But with boycotts taking place because of political conflict, and consumers becoming savvier and conscious about where they spend their money, I’m happy to whip out my card for a brand that seeks to indulge make-up lovers without having them break the bank.
Liz Earle products are my go to when it comes to my day to day skin regime. On the weekends just before starting another tedious Monday, I go a step further, delving deeper into the delightful goodies on offer.
Face masks are everywhere. From luxury brands to cheap one offs. As tempting as it is to experiment and try them all, I’ve found that all important balance with Liz Earle coming out on top yet again.
The Deep Cleansing Mask is a concentrated clay and botanical mask, which helps to draw out impurities leaving skin balanced and calm. Whilst it may not initially look too appealing to smear on your face, ingredients like aloe vera, geranium essential oil, Manuka honey and white and green clay, gives it a sweet and slightly floral scent. Smooth and glossy, I generally apply this after using the Cleanse and Polish and leave for about five minutes.
You do feel that slightly tight sensation as it dries, but unlike most masks, there’s no sign of crumbling or cracking. Wiping off the residue won’t leave your face begging to be moisturised either. In fact, the smooth, bright and oil-free touch is something to behold. Lately I’ve been prone to a couple of breakouts but when used consistently, the natural ingredients of course work their charm and help to ward off unsightly spots and blemishes.
All in all, it’s one of those masks that does what it says although it should be noted that it’s not suitable for sensitive skin. Don’t be disheartened though. Liz Earl stocks a wide range of products and for those who have sensitive skin, there’s the Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask. The fact that these products come with warning notes and are tailored for specific skin types gives me that bit more confidence in trusting their knowledge in skincare.
Dark circles are another problem area for me. No matter how much powder, concealer and foundation I blend in, they’re still there. Liz Earle doesn’t work miracles, but she does offer olive branches that will make a slight difference. Her Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion is a gentle tonic that “revitalises the delicate eye area” and can also double up as an eye make up remover. Suitable for contact lens wearers, pretend you’re at a spa and place two cotton wool pads over your eyes and relax for a couple of minutes. Gently wipe them away and you’ll notice brighter and refreshed eyes. Don’t you love a brand that understands your needs?
Find these products and much more on www.lizearle.com
A crisp Friday evening where the work week is officially over and the chaos begins as everyone eagerly makes their way across London, anticipating the weekend ahead. Some heading home, others out with friends.
Instead of heading home where it’s cosy and warm, I’ve decided to detour and seek out a new retreat that doesn’t come with any distractions, allowing me to give my full attention to my beloved blog. No, before you raise your eyebrows and wonder, “What’s Safeera doing at a champagne bar?!”, calm down and read on…
Comfortably occupying the first floor of St Pancras Station, Searcy’s is a stylish champagne bar with accommodating staff, plenty of space and a spoilt for choice menu when it comes to choosing the perfect glass of bubbly.
Away from the hectic Friday evening crowds below, I’ve nestled myself into a comfy seat, Elderflower Presse my drink of choice. Sweet, sparkling and in my opinion a fabulous replacement for champagne. See, you don’t need to necessarily have champagne. The non-alcoholic drinks are limited, but considering this is a champagne bar, you can tell thought has gone into the alternative drinks on offer.
Food and beverages are what you would expect to be priced, in what I deem, the heart of St. Pancras. Placed outside the actual restaurant, you don’t feel like you’re missing anything with a selection of edibles that ranges from seafood to sandwiches to a cheese platter. I was told however, that the restaurant is something to behold, so watch this space!
What I loved most about this place is it isn’t a social venue for the pretentious. Whether you’re waiting for a train to whisk you out of London, or simply meeting friends for the night ahead, Searcy’s is the ideal spot and caters for all. (You know this is true when a party of 1 turns up wanting to just sit there and write a blog!)
The odd Eurostar pulling up on the platform behind you adds a lovely touch, almost tempting you to throw caution to the wind and escape the crazy busy city for a few days. If you’re more level headed than me, then the decor, the vibe and the charm of this bar is enough to satisfy the need to leave reality behind for a few hours.
Cover photo by: Plodicus via Flickr
A Tuesday evening in the capital presents itself with many options where after work drinks are concerned. Rather than weave in and out of a congested Oxford Street (made even worst with the run up to Christmas) thinking outside of the box has never been a better idea.
Which is how I ended up at The Shard. If you haven’t seen this colossal structure in all its glory, then frankly, you’re missing out. Dominating the current London skyline, The Shard’s exterior boasts a certain opulence, leaving your mind running wild at what to expect from its interior.
Greeted and guided to the lifts, the doors opened to the 31st floor in a matter of seconds. No ear popping or stomach dropping sensations too, which is a major thumbs up.
The dimly lit foyer and glass doors led us to a balcony view of Aqua Shard, one of three restaurants, which stopped both myself and my friend in our tracks, gobsmacked at the attention to detail, intimate lighting and the one thing we had both been anticipating – the view.
I purposely picked Tuesday taking my chances on the crowds being manageable and was pleasantly surprised to find that there were seats available around the bar area. Result! Drinks in hand, you couldn’t help but forget about all of life’s worries.
The décor, the ambiance and the type of crowd that Aqua Shard draws in is quite refined but not pretentious. These are people who want to fully enjoy their evening in a stylish, environment and share your enthusiasm at just how spectacular the panoramic view of London is.
On a whim, we decided to dine at Aqua Shard, unable to pry ourselves away. Our waiter ushered us to a very intimate, cosy table for two with chairs positioned to give you your very own slice of the London skyline.
Not only was our waiter attentive and patient, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the restaurant’s bar could concoct my favourite mocktail. A virgin Pina Colada with a pineapple shaped Shard garnish sat in front of me minutes later.
Dinner was what you would expect at The Shard, and with Aqua Shard offering contemporary British Cuisine, it makes a welcomed change from the array of multicultural foods lining London’s streets. I won’t lie, it is pricy, but considering the environment and the absolutely sublime views, anyone going to the Shard should be prepared to part with some cash.
Baked Scottish cod and a pearl barley risotto were the dishes of choice. I’ll leave the real foodies to dispute whether or not the menu is authentically British. As far as I’m concerned, that soft, melt in the mouth cod hit my seafood craving with little St George mushrooms packing a punch.
A blackcurrant cheesecake rounded up dinner and boy oh boy was it good. A very unusual looking cheesecake with all the elements pulled apart, individually dotted around the dish. Tasting the sweetness of the blackcurrant jam with the chewy ginger biscuit and the smooth blackcurrant mousse-like cream cheese was probably my favourite part of dinner.
Definitely worth the dine, do bear in mind that tables are needed back within 2 hours, which is probably the only downer of the whole experience. Good food. Stellar ambiance. Limited time to savour those views.
All in all I enjoyed my first experience there, despite the abrupt ending to our night. To top it off, my amazing dinner date was insistent on giving me my belated 25th treat, which for me, was the crème de la crème of the evening.
Am I not surrounded by the most amazing people?