Browsing articles in "review"
Dec 12, 2011

Review: MeMeMe Smokey Eyes make up kit

MeMeMe Smokey Eyes Kit

Smokey eyes

After I wrote a review of the MeMeMe Goddess Collection contacted me again to see if I wanted to also test out another make up product from their site. I’d been so impressed with the Goddess Collection that I jumped at the chance!

A fan of a smouldering smokey eye for as long as I’ve been wearing make up, I was immediately drawn the to the MeMeMe Smokey Eye make up kit and I tested it out properly last week when I attended an evening event.

The ‘create the look’ kit contains:

1) Fat Cat mascara

2) Eye Sweep in black

3) Eye Line eye pencil in coal

4) Powder Eyeshadow Trio

5) A handy step-by-step card

Smokey Eyes Kit eyeliners

Eye Sweep

This is the first time I’ve tried a felt tip-style eyeliner and I am completely sold. This product is so, so easy to use, lasts all day without smudging, and is the perfect inky black. I’ve used it every single day since!

It’s also a great starter tool if you’re new to using eyeliner: it’s easy to build up gradually and the precise nib makes that timeless make up look the eye flick so simple to achieve.

Eye Line

I have used Dior’s eyeliner crayon for years and simply put I adore it so this Eye Line had a lot to live up to – and yet I was really, really impressed. The colour is very strong and long-lasting yet it’s easily smudged with a cotton bud to make it softer and more lived-in. I’ll be giving this a permanent place in my make up kit (but I’ll still keep my Dior crayon too, a bit of luxury never goes amiss!).

Smokey Eyes Kit eyeshadow and mascara

Powder Eyeshadow Trio

This trio consists of white, mid-grey and dark grey eyeshadows. The theory is to apply to white as a base and highlighter, the mid grey into the crease of the socket, and to use the dark grey to add more depth. Of course the colours can also be used singularly or with other shades; I’m favouring the dark grey with a nice plummy-purple for a more colourful alternative.

As with the other products in this kit, these are also very hard-wearing and barely creased all evening, despite the fact that I forgot to apply my eye primer as I was rushing.

Fat Cat mascara

I’m not faithful to any one brand or type of mascara and I like trying new ones as and when they appear on the market. So, I was keen to try this and can safely say it’s definitely one I’d be happy to buy again as it’s super-black and made my lashes look really thick: along with Clinique’s High Impact and Maybelline’s Volum’Express One by One it’s a new favourite!

Before and after

Smokey eye and bare eye

You’ve already seen what the products look like when they’re applied, here’s a made-up eye next to a bare eye so you can compare the difference. As I’ve already mentioned I wore this look for an event so if you’d like to see what this looked like from a distance just pop over to my post about the IntoWP Windows event.

Overall thoughts

Once again, I was incredibly impressed with this kit from MeMeMe. The products are all highly pigmented, much more so than you’d expect for make up within this lower end of the price range.

Not only that but they last forever. Seriously, I committed the ultimate skin sin of falling asleep in my make up and the next morning my eye make up still looked freshly applied! Just don’t try that at home … ;)

Click to buy: MeMeMe Smokey Eye make up kit (currently on special offer!)


Dec 11, 2011

Lumie Clear light treatment trial: weeks 3-4

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my experience of adult acne and everything I’ve tried to get rid of it. Let me just reiterate for a minute the affect acne can have on your life. I’m not being dramatic about a couple of spots here! I have avoided social occasions because of my skin and I’ve found it so frustrating that it’s reduced me to tears (and I am not a cryer).

So I am currently trialling Lumie Light’s “Clear”, a light therapy product that uses red and blue LEDs to help reduce and prevent spots. At the time of that first post I had been using the light for a week or so and wasn’t yet seeing any difference – I was ok with that though, Lumie had said it takes around 4 weeks before you notice any changes.

So as I hit the 4-week mark what are my thoughts?

I am definitely starting to see an improvement in my skin!

After 3 weeks of using Lumie Clear I must admit I was starting to get frustrated. Why wasn’t it working?! I’d been using it every single day for 30 minutes! I had to remind myself that I had another week to go before it should start to show signs of working.

Now, I can definitely see a change in my skin.

Earlier this week I committed the ultimate skin sin and fell asleep while still wearing make up (I’m so annoyed at myself, I haven’t done it for years!). I’ve been paying for it since.

I am still getting the odd new spot anyway, despite this mishap, but they clear up much quicker now. I can actually see reduced redness immediately after using Lumie Clear so it makes sense to use it in the mornings (although some days I can’t quite wake myself up early enough!).

I’ll update you again in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to see how my skin (hopefully!) continues to improve ’til then!

Buy Lumie Clear (currently on special offer!).

If you’ve any questions about the product just leave a comment and I’ll try to help :)


Nov 27, 2011

Review: Malmaison Manchester hotel, Smoak bar & grill, and Ember Lounge

Manchester Malmaison

Manchester Christmas Markets were on my mind from mid-September and I’m a big fan of staycations, so after a delightful night at the Malmaison hotel in London we decided to stay at the Manchester Malmaison and made the short train journey up north last Thursday.

(N.B. If you don’t fancy doing much reading this lazy Sunday evening there is a video at the end of this post covering most of the same aspects.  It’s my first attempt at vlogging so please be kind!)

The location

The nearest train stations is Piccadilly, the city’s main transport hub with rail links to major towns and cities all over the UK, as well as to Manchester Airport.  The Metrolink (‘Met’, tram system) and free shuttle buses also stop here so even if you arrive at one of the alternative train stations it’s easy to find or if you’d prefer to jump in a cab it shouldn’t cost much as the city centre is relatively small.  If you haven’t much luggage you could even walk to get your bearings (weather permitting!).


On my frequent trips to and from Piccadilly the Malmaison is a building I’ve passed many times but never actually been into.  My impressions of the hotel have always been favourable; with simple white fairy lights at the entrance year-round the hotel looks both welcoming and fun.  The interior is very different, though no less inviting.

As with the London hotel, the lighting in the reception area is subdued with plenty of plush chairs dotted around.  Whilst the area is, of course, busy with a steady stream of visitors and day-guests (to the spa, bar or restaurant) it feels relaxing and cosy.  Our check-in was smooth with the offer of a map and some info about Manchester (which, as a native, I politely declined).  We were then greeted by a friendly duty manager who efficiently whisked us up to our suite, ‘The Best’, before leaving us to explore.


Manchester Malmaison bedroom

Manchester Malmaison - view from the bedroom

The morning after our stay I tweeted that the bed was so comfortable it was “like sleeping inside a giant marshmallow”.  Not only that but we didn’t hear one single peep of noise all night.  Both of things resulted in probably the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had in a hotel.  I thought the velvet-tasselled headboard was a little bit OTT but whilst it’s not to my taste it’s just a bit of fun.

The bedroom (and lounge) was equipped with a decent-sized flatscreen TV and a DVD player.  Free wifi also runs throughout the hotel, which in my opinion is as necessary as running water nowadays.  High-speed internet is available at an extra charge.

In this shot taken out of the bedroom window you can see just how close Piccadilly is – literally a 2-minute walk, even lugging a case.


Manchester Malmaison Lounge

Manchester Malmaison Lounge

Manchester Malmaison Lounge - desk

Manchester Malmaison Lounge - mini bar

Manchester Malmaison Lounge - magazines

The lounge area was super-spacious and had a theme that, at first, surprised us and then delighted Chris.  We’d presumed that the suite’s name of “The Best” literally meant the best room however it’s actually after footballer George Best (the football-shaped iPod/iPhone dock seen above should make sense now).  The red, black, and white colour-scheme is inspired by Manchester United, the club where George experienced the most success, and there were a couple of pop art-style canvases depicting George on one wall.

I really liked the feel of the lounge, immediately plonking myself on the sofa for a 2-minute recharge before we headed out into the city.

Along with the usual mini bar refreshments the room is also stocked with beauty products such as an eye mask and hand cream, all priced very reasonably at £1.75 or less.  There were also 4 women’s magazines to flick through, as well as Condé Nast Traveller in the bedroom and a complimentary copy of The Independent delivered in the morning.


Manchester Malmaison bathroom

Manchester Malmaison - bathroom products

The bathroom was sleek and stylish with a monochrome colour scheme finished with shiny silvery hardware.  There was both a bath and a walk-in shower (drench!).  I can only wish that I had time for a bath but that luxury unfortunately escaped me.

Malmaison’s like their products, which range from the basics to the more unexpected – massage oil anyone?  No shampoo, which is surprising, but I used the body wash as I find in hotels they’re often labelled as a 2-in-1 product and it did the trick.

For me the major negative point of this bathroom was the layout.  The mirror is directly above the sink and toilet so it’s hard to use without having to lean right over either, which isn’t comfortable and nearly ended in tears after I knocked my cosmetic case down the loo (luckily it wedged itself halfway without falling into the water).  Whilst not a small room I can’t see how this could have been set out any better, however, without sacrificing the separate shower or bath.

Dinner at Smoak Bar & Grill

Smoak dinner

Malmaison peach melba

Smoak Bar & Grill is reminiscent of an upmarket American diner, with meat taking up most of the focus on the menu.  After a delicious starter of a three sausage sampler and goats cheese and apple hush puppies (something I’d never heard of before but absolutely loved), we both opted for steaks, myself onglet steak frite with garlic butter.  I really enjoyed mine but Chris had asked for his medium to well-done and parts of it were quite burnt.

We had to leave just before 9pm to be at an event at Emporio Armani (more on that later) so we asked if it’d be possible to order dessert and have it delivered up to our room later; a very odd request but one the staff were more than happy to oblige.  So I enjoyed my first ever peach melba in bed and it was superb, by far my favourite of the 3 courses.

Cocktails at Ember Lounge

Ember Lounge cocktails

It was immediately obvious that our bartender, Nathan, knew exactly what he was doing (although he did mention that he’s only been at the hotel for a week).  After asking us what we liked to drink he rustled up a ‘BBC’ for me, which contained, amongst other things bramley apple sauce (really) and basil – super-refreshing.  Chris had a delicious berry and whiskey combination.


Malmaison breakfast

After begrudgingly dragging ourselves out of bed Chris and I sampled the Big Mal Breakfast, essentially a fry-up.  I have to say considering the name and the price (£14.50) we were expecting more food.  However the continental breakfast is free with lots of choice (pastries, fruit, cereal, bagels, etc.) so we also helped ourselves to some of that too.

We’d organised a late check-out so we headed back to the room to relax for a while, and I also made this video showing you round our suite.  It’s my first foray into vlogging  (sorry for all the ‘ers’ and the fact it’s in portrait rather than landscape!), I hope it’s ok …


Thanks so much to the staff at Malmaison Manchester for a wonderful staycation!  I’ll post a photo diary featuring the aforementioned Christmas Markets soon, in the meantime (in case you missed it) I also did a little post documenting my day

Malmaison Manchester

Gore St, Manchester, M1 3AQ

+44(0)161 278 1000

Disclaimer: Chris and I were very happy guests of the Malmaison Manchester.


Nov 21, 2011

Lumie Clear light treatment trial: weeks 1-2

Spots are something that affect everyone from time-to-time (often at the worst possible time), however having the occasional bad skin day is nothing compared to living with the affects of acne, even in it’s mildest form.  Throughout my teens I experienced the odd flare-up but was probably quite lucky – something I didn’t recognise or appreciate until recently.

Adult acne

Around 3 years ago I was happily taking the Yasmin contraceptive pill, the second combined pill that I’d tried and one I found suited me well.  However after a year it was noticed that my blood pressure was higher than it should be so it was decided that I should try the progestogen-only pill (‘mini pill’) and that’s where my skin problems began.

Ever since then I’ve experienced adult acne, at varying degrees of severity.  This has not been solved by: changing mini-pills (and I’ve tried a lot of them); not taking the pill at all; skincare products (including both expensive and cheap brands and prescribed gels); diet; exercise; mineral make up; not wearing make up; BB cream; tea tree oil; drinking more water; and wishing, wishing, wishing.

The only thing that worked completely was going back onto the combined pill but as this pushed my blood pressure back up I had to stop taking it again very quickly – health has to come first.

The Lumie Clear trial

Last month I saw on Twitter that the UK-based light therapy company Lumie were looking for people to trial their Lumie Clear product, so I sent them my application and was delighted to hear a few days later that I had been chosen.

I’d sent them the list of everything I’d tried to ‘fix’ my skin so far – fully expecting them to be put off by the fact that nothing had worked – and the fact that they weren’t has given me so much faith that Lumie Clear will be the one thing that rids me of this confidence-shattering affliction.

What is Lumie Clear?

Basically, Lumie Clear is a light-therapy product which emits skin-benefitting rays. So says the Lumie Clear website:

“Many acne patients find that their skin improves after exposure to sunlight and research has focused on specific wavelengths of light. Violet and blue light can eradicate the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria causing the inflammation; red light can be useful in further promoting the healing process. Lumie Clear LEDs emit blue light at ~415nm and red light at ~660nm.”

Results are expected in 4-ish weeks and after the last trial 70% of testers saw an improvement.

The product itself is a little pod which you plug into the mains and then either prop up on the base or hold directly against your skin for 15 minute intervals, timed by the machine.

My thoughts so far

I’ve found Lumie Clear incredibly easy to use and to incorporate into my daily routine, in fact it’s actually nice to sit down for a dedicated 15+ minutes once a day and just relax: I tend to use it when I’m watching a DVD or reading a magazine.

So far I’ve been holding the pod directly against my skin (hoping for faster results!) and find the machine gets pleasantly warm but apart from that there are no sensations, this is a 100% pain-free procedure.  Direct contact like this is recommended for no more than 15 minutes per day on each area but you can prop the machine up and use it for longer e.g. on your back.

I’ll be updating my blog with the results every couple of weeks and I took a ‘before’ photo so I can compare once I hit the 4 week mark - fingers crossed in a couple of weeks I’ll be back with clearer skin!

Buy Lumie Clear.

p.s. Sorry if this post is a bit long, I just wanted to give the product a thorough introduction so you’d know what it’s all about!



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