Sponsored video: YSL luxurious mascara

As someone with short straight eyelashes I'm forever looking for a new mascara to transform them from drab and boring into something more defined and eye catching. One that's caught my eye recently is YSL luxurious mascara, a consumer favourite which has been reformulated to give a false lash effect with just one stroke:

Although I've yet to try a YSL mascara I've certainly heard good things, especially about YSL Babydoll which seems to be constantly raved about. So what makes the new YSL luxurious mascara stand out? Apparently it's all in the triple film complex which remains unchanged from the previous version. There's a coating film for intensity, a conditioning film for curve (a must have for my short straight eyelashes) and a fixing film for long lasting effectiveness (something else I always look for as I hate mascaras which smudge or flake during the day). What's new is the addition of 4 sensuous oils which helps to leave the lashes more flexible, lengthened and supple. I'm also intrigued about the brush applicator which has nylon fibres of different diameters to help enhance volume.

To go along with the relaunch there's an attention grabbing video campaign featuring model of the moment Cara Delevigne - anyone else wish they had her perfectly groomed eyebrows and long flowing locks?! Of course with any mascara the proofs in the testing but YSL luxurious mascara certainly sounds very impressive and I know I'll definitely be giving it a try next time I go shopping!

Have you tried any of the YSL mascaras? What are your eye make up favourites?

*Post sponsored by YSL

Dim Sum afternoon tea at Le Chinois, Knightsbridge

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! 2015 marks the year of the goat and to celebrate I was invited for a rather lovely Chinese afternoon tea at Le Chinois, Millennium Hotel Knightsbridge. Now as you know I love both afternoon tea and dim sum so this East meets West fusion was literally my idea of foodie heaven:

Champagne to start

How the afternoon tea is usually served up. 
Because there were so many of us ours came on individual 
plates along with some tasty extra extras too. 

Crispy chicken - Thin strips coated in a spicy 
savoury batter, these were so moreish! 

Siu Mai - A dim sum classic, juicy pork and prawns all 
wrapped up in soft pastry and gently steamed. 

King prawns with crispy filo and pineapple - A treat for 
the eyes and mouth. The freshness of the fruit was a lovely contast to 
the crispness of the prawn and cut through the richness perfectly. 

BBQ pork (Char Sui) bun - Another dim sum classic.
 Sweet marinated pieces of pork enclosed in a light fluffy bun. 
These ones always go down a treat whenever we go for dim sum. 

Crispy scallop rolls - Unfortunately I didn't get to try
 this one but it certainly looked interesting! 

Duck spring rolls - Crispy and filling, these were delicious with 
the hoisin sauce. Le Chinois afternoon tea comes with a serving of 
traditional Peking duck pancakes too (not pictured). 

Finally mochi and mango to end - Sweet yet chewy these were the 
perfect end to our afternoon tea. After so many fried dishes it was 
great to have some fresh fruit to nibble on too. 

As someone who eats dim sum regularly (and therefore like to think of myself as a bit of a connoisseur) I had very high expectations and I'm pleased to say that Le Chinois did not disappoint. The restaurant is run by authentically trained head chef Anthony Kong and although some of the dishes aren't what you'd traditionally associate with dim sum the flavours were absolutely spot on and each dish more delicious than the last. I still love my cheap and cheerful restaurants but for a special occasion (such as Chinese New Year) this would be a great alternative to the traditional afternoon tea and I would love to return for my birthday later this year. 

Le Chinois dim sum afternoon tea, £25 per person (12-5pm daily).

Have you ever tried dim sum? What are your favourite special occasion restaurants?

Valentine's/Date night beauty favourites

Ah Valentine's, one of those love it or hate it occasions. Personally I think it's a good excuse to spend some quality time together and any day which involves chocolates gets a big thumbs up from me. This year the boyfriend surprised me with some VIP cinema tickets to see Fifty shades of grey and we went for a rather nice dinner date on Sunday. Never one to pass up an occasion to get dressed up I thought I'd go for a red themed beauty look this year:

Valentine's/Date night beauty

Whenever I can I always like to start with a mini pamper and just before Valentine's I was kindy sent this heart shaped strawberry gift set from The Body Shop. As I had my own perfume I didn't use the EDT, but the shower gel, body butter and lip balm made for a lovely trio. The scent reminds me of those strawberries and cream sweets and smells good enough to eat! Plus the formula is really moisturising and helped to keep my skin soft and smooth all day long.

I'm not normally a red lips and nails kinda girl, but if you can't wear red on Valentine's day then when can you? I think lip crayons have to be one of my favourite formulas and I really liked the new Body Shop lip & cheek velvet stick in No 40. It's a flattering berry red shade which gives a sheer wash of colour whilst at the same time still being nice and moisturising on the lips. For nails I decided to go for Relish the moment, an almost identical red which looked really pretty when paired with my favourite OPI pink yet lavender glitter.

It's always nice to have a candle flickering in the background but I actually surprised myself with this tobacco scent from Malin + Goetz. Normally I can't stand anything tobacco related but this is rather sweet and almost reminds me of dark chocolate. Of course there are notes of leather and smoke too. A really beautiful winter scent which I'm now obsessed with and can't stop smelling!

Finally for perfume I decided to go for the new Hugo Woman by Hugo Boss. I found the bottle quite plain and clunky which is a shame as the actual fragrance is lovely. With notes of boysenberry, mandarin, plum, tea and sandalwood it's bold and feminine. Perfect as a date night perfume and it'll work really well as a transitional scent too. Although the notes are very different it reminds me a lot of Boss Orange, one of my signature scents and I can see this fast becoming a new favourite too. 

Did you have a nice Valentine's weekend? What are some of your beauty favourites?

Currently loving...

Having gotten into a bit of beauty rut last year I saw January as a good excuse to have a clear out and introduce some new products into my routine. Of course in the process I've rediscovered some old favourites too so today I thought I'd do a round up of what I'm currently loving for make up and skincare: 

Currently loving...make up and skincare favourites

Make up favourites

I struggle with dry hands anyway but combine that with the cold weather and a job which demands constant washing and you've pretty much got the perfect recipe for dry itchy hands. Normally I'd use an overnight treatment but what I like about Hand chemistry extreme hydration concentrate is that it's got a lighter creme-gel texture so can be used during the day too. It's packed with moisturising ingredients and since using this I've noticed a big difference in the condition of my hands. After 10 days it claims to offer long lasting hydration and I'm looking forward to seeing the results with continued use.

In winter I'm obsessed with slathering on rich moisturisers and oils but the downside is that my skin can start to feel a little congested, which is where Liz Earle brightening treatment mask comes in. There's witch hazel and white clay to detoxify as well as aloe vera and camphor to help boost radiance. Plus it gets to work in just 2 minutes, ideal if like myself you're always finding yourself short on time!

On a day to day basis I'm all about quick and easy make up and since discovering Maybelline baby lips in cherry me it's not left my handbag. It's a really beautiful berry pink shade which adds a hint of colour whilst at the same time moisturising and protecting my dry winter lips. Not to mention that it smells absolutely delicious!

At the weekends though I tend to make a bit more of an effort and I'm really liking Soap and glory supercat fat liner. It's thicker than most of my other eyeliners so perfect for a more dramatic look and because I'm not having to go over the line repeatedly there's less chance of mistakes. Pen style eyeliners have always been my favourite and with this it's really easy to control, pigmented and smudge proof once dried. 

Finally some new make up brushes courtesy of Boots No 7. The contour and highlight brush has become a daily essential depositing just the right amount of colour to perk up my face and on days when I contour the angled brush fits hallows of my cheeks perfectly. The smudger brush whilst not as much an essential is a lovely addition none the less and as the name suggests is great for smudging out eyeliner when creating a smokey eye. On a little side note if like myself you struggle with small eyelids then the brush end is great for a more precise application of eyeshadow. Well worth a look next time No7 do their money off vouchers.

Have you tried any of the products above? What are you currently loving?

December/January empties

Another month another set of beauty empties to share. Looking back I can't believe this is now my 6th year of project bathroom and although my beauty stash remains as out of control as ever I've learnt to be more careful with my purchases and have a strict one in one out policy so as to not have too many of the same products on the go at any one time. Throughout December and January I managed to finish 17 items:

December/January empties

Thanks to a combination of time away from home and The Body Shop Christmas advent calendar I managed to get through quite a few travel sizes this month. The mini shower gels and body lotions are so handy and I'm glad I've now got a stock pile for any trips away later this year.

With the weather taking a turn for the worse I've managed to finish several of my favourite moisturisers and need to restock asap! Elemis pro collagen marine cream in particular is great for this time of year and I liked that it was both protecting and anti-ageing. Ragdale hall spa body butter was another favourite which smelt and felt far more luxurious than its £8.50 price tag. 

As always there's a can of dry shampoo and although I've tried most of their varieties, Batiste brunette remains my favourite, simply because its so quick and easy to rub in and doesn't leave behind a tell tale white cast in my hair. Another product I really enjoyed using was Organic Surge spiced lily bath foam (although I used it as a shower gel instead). I don't think their products get enough credit and considering it was SLS free I had no problems getting a decent lather. Plus I loved the warming combination of patchouli and clove bud. 

These days I tend to give away anything I dislike so it's rare to find them in my empties however there are always a couple of products which I probably won't repurchase again. This month it would have to be Antipodes Grace gentle cream cleanser and The Body Shop dreams unlimited sun fresh body lotion. Both nice products but especially this time of year I find myself gravitating towards balm cleansers and rich body butters instead. 

How did you get in December/January? What were your beauty favourites? 

Hot stone massage at Blue Harbour health club and spa

As much as I like pamper myself at home sometimes there's just no substitute for a professional treatment. Recently I've been feeling particularly stressed with work and commuting so when Wahanda got in touch and asked if I'd like to review one of their treatments I knew straight away that I wanted to go for a massage:

Browsing the Wahanda website I was spoilt for choice with locations and treatments all around London - in fact it took a good day or so for me to eventually decide. Normally I'd go for a simple back, neck and shoulder massage but in the spirit of trying something new, I thought I'd give the hot stone massage at Blue Harbour health club and spa a try. It also helped that the spa was conveniently located in Chelsea right next to where I was meeting a friend that day!

On arrival I was greeted by the friendly reception staff, given a quick questionnaire before being taken on a tour and shown to the changing rooms. It turns out the pool and sauna are open to all guests and bath robes, slippers and towels are provided for everyone, although I was disappointed to find my robe had the tie missing. 

Upstairs there's a lounge area with drinks and magazines provided where you can relax before and after your treatment. It's also where all guests are greeted by their therapist. Like all good treatments, mine started with a quick chat about what it would involve and an assessment by the therapist to see which areas needed the most work. Turns out I naturally position one shoulder higher than other and one foot out in front - a sign perhaps of the stress I've recently been under.

For the treatment you are given some hot stones to lie on which I thought was a great way to start and I loved the warming sensation as the therapist used more hot stones to massage in the body oil. Compared to a traditional massage it doesn't relieve as much tension but if you just want something relaxing then this would be a good choice. Towards the end there's the option of using cold stones to invigorate and boost circulation. I'm glad I gave it a go but safe to say I'll be sticking to just the hot stones in the future!

Afterwards there's no rush to leave and I took full advantage of the lounge area, sipping on tea and reading magazines (plus occasionally sneaking a look on my phone). Having been to some amazing places over the years Blue Harbour feels more like a health club than luxury spa, however that's reflected in their price and I couldn't fault my treatment or the friendliness of it's staff. If you're after the full spa experience I'd recommend Lifehouse or Baglioni spa but if you're after a no frills treatment in a convenient location then I'd recommend giving Blue Harbour a try.

Have you tried a hot stone massage before? What are your favourite London spas?
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