Monday, 26 May 2014


I love falsies. Whether to add a bit of drama to a look, or just to give that perfectly polished feel, there's no end to what lashes can do for your eyes and for your confidence. I don't, however, like the tricky process of applying. Once they're on, they look fantastic, but trimming them to size, making sure they match, and getting them to stay put are a bit of an ordeal that I usually just reserve for special occasions. Thankfully, Nouveau Lashes have formulated a great latex free glue which makes the lengthy application process a little more worthwhile. And last Bank Holiday weekend, I joined 50 bbloggers taking part in the #UltrabondChallenge, in which we put the Ultrabond Strip Lash Adhesive through its paces, spending 48 hours looking glam in our false lashes. Documenting the challenge in a couple of selfies, I'll be the first to admit, I was extremely sceptical, but I was far from the only one who made it to the end. So, here's to an amazing new lash glue, and let me tell you how I got on. 

Day 1:

After a busy day at work, I came home and applied the Nouveau Lashes. The glue is a little different than a normal adhesive, as it takes a while until it's ready to go on the lash line, and remains slightly tacky after application. Once I'd gotten used to this, however, I was away. The lashes themselves were great; super lightweight, and the perfect lash for dressing up for evening or just wearing casually throughout the day. It's a good job too, as I would be wearing them day and night for the duration of the weekend! After carefully taking off my makeup at the end of the night (the part I was most apprehensive about), the falsies hadn't budged.  Granted, I did use a micellar water and a very gentle touch, and I did have to remove a little cotton pad debris from the lashes. Still, an impressive feat for any lash glue.

Day 2:

The following day, I was pleased to wake up and discover that my lashes were still in place. After a very tentative shower, I readied myself for a 12 hour shift at work. And apart from a few comments about getting a little too dressed up for a day of serving drinks, the shift was uneventful, and the lashes behaved themselves for the whole 12 hours. Though the rest of my makeup was struggling by this point, my lashes were still going strong as I locked up for the night. 

Day 3:

The lashes were starting to come away at the corners by this point, but I managed to disguise this with some artfully placed liner. They comfortably lasted through a meal with friends and a sunny day at Southbank, and, after my final selfie, off they came. I used my normal Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish on my lids, and just gently cleansed until the lashes came off. It did feel good to really clean the mascara off after 48 hours of being super careful. I'm so impressed with how long the glue lasted, and the fact that the lashes looked almost as good on Day 3, as they did on Day 1. Understandably, they were looking slightly worse for wear, but overall, an amazing result from a wonderful glue.

Why would you want to wear lashes for this long, you might ask? The glue is actually formulated for those who suffer hair loss; the long lasting glue means that they will be able to wear lashes for days with none of the hassle of reapplying every morning. For those of us who just love a strong lashy look, however, I think this glue would make the ultimate addition to any festival make up bag. Even if you don't quite survive the weekend frivolities, your lashes will. 

The winners all received the generous prize of 5 pairs of Millie Mackintosh Lashes. With my new go to lash adhesive, I'll definitely be getting a lot of use out of these beauties! A huge thank you to Nouveau Lashes and Amazing PR for organising this fun, slightly different blogger challenge. If you want to read more about the glue and how other #bbloggers got on, just search #UltrabondChallenge on Twitter and Instagram. There are plenty of other great reviews to discover. The lash glue costs £12.95, and after testing it for a weekend, I can promise you that it's well worth the money.

Monday, 19 May 2014

April Favourites

Although it seems like a lifetime ago, April was a pretty exciting month for me. However, exciting as it was, I was fully burning the candle at both ends, and the tube strikes were my breaking point - I was so exhausted that I thought it best to take a few weeks off from the blog, as something had to give. Exhaustion rant aside, let's talk about the best beauty bits of April.

Last month, I was introduced to the world of threading. A revelation, I was super pleased with how clean and sharp my brows looked after my appointment at Blink Brow Bar (At The Bluebird in Chelsea, FYI, I would highly recommend). Whilst there, I spoke to the technician about how unhappy I was with my uneven brows. One is less arched than the other and, although it's probably only noticeable to me and brow professionals, I was keen to get them sorted. She told me to use Blink's Nourishing Brow Oil every night and come back to have the shape altered to the way I wanted it. I was a little sceptical, assuming she was after commission, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. I must say, it's really been working. The blend of natural ingredients have really been helping my brows to grow at break neck speed, and on top of that, I find them a lot easier to tame in the mornings. Now there's an added bonus!

Burt's Bees//Replenishing Lip Balm

In terms of lip care, I've never really strayed from Lanolips. It does it's job wonderfully, as well as tasting and smelling pretty divine. It is, however, around the £10 mark and, being a gal on a budget, I just don't really have the money to be throwing at beauty products at the moment. Enter Burt's Bees. These beautiful little balms are just over £3, and are my new weapon of choice for keeping my peckers moisturised, beautified and healthy. With 100% natural ingredients, I keep thinking that it would be a great idea to get one for my desk, one for my bag, one for work etc, but I think bulk buying might defeat the thrifty mission I am currently on. We shall see.

Marc Jacobs//Daisy Sunshine

I bought this in Singapore at the end of last Summer, and adored it. Unfortunately, before I could get much use out of it, it was Autumn and I had to put it aside in favour of something a little less summery. As soon as the sun came out for more than two days in a row, this baby came straight out of retirement and I've been loving using it ever since. It reminds me of a limited edition Impulse Shakers spray called Melon Madness from my early teens that I adored, so has the added benefit of being a bit of a nostalgia kick for me. I will definitely be wearing this for the duration of Summer, although knowing England, it's been and gone, and we'll be dusting off our parkas again before May is out.

The Body Shop//Vitamin E Moisture Cream

Another beaut of a product that's been getting a lot of use recently is The Body Shop's Vitamin E Moisture Cream. I won't harp on about it too much, as I gave it a full review here. I will say that it's been exactly what the doctor ordered in terms of restoring and maintaining a healthy, glowing complexion.

Colour Club//Goldstruck

This one of my April favourites was a Birchbox discovery. This gem of a polish is a neutral, understated soft gold, and looks so beautiful and summery on my tips. I don't think it's a colour I would have picked out for myself, but it's definitely going to be a summer staple for me. That's the beauty of Birchbox people, who, coincidentally, this shade is exclusive to, so they've pretty much ensured I remain a loyal customer. Clever trick there, Birchbox! I also really like its mini size. It's not often I say that about a product, but I can never manage to finish a full size polish before it gets gloopy, so this petite bottle is perfect for me.

I love Jurlique products, and I've been having a bit of a moment with their hand cream for the past few months. I love using the lavender one before bed, but it's the Citrus Hand Cream that I've gone a little crazy for. I can't get enough of the scent, it's so delicious! On top of that, its rich, creamy texture feels so luxurious and nourishing, that I just can't stop slathering it on my mitts! A little tube of heaven, right there.

Allure Magazine//April 2014

My final favourite from April - my first ever copy of Allure Magazine. I feel like a real beauty blogger now.

As I'm so behind, I'm not going to ask what your April Favourites were. Instead, what products are you coveting for these sunnier days? Let me know!


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Book of the Week: Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

"Walking the stacks in a library, dragging your fingers across the spines - it's hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits."

I love reading all sorts of books. Classic literature, well known bestsellers, books that my friends rave about - to be perfectly honest, I just want to read ALL the books. Sometimes, however, the best books are the ones you've never even noticed; the ones you didn't even know were there. I picked up Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan in Waterstones only to take advantage of a 'buy one get one half price' offer. I hadn't heard anything about the book or it's author before, but it had a quirky cover and, as it was in their book club, I found myself quite intrigued. After getting through it far too quickly, I can tell you that I found it to be a wonderful read. Full of contemporary adventure, and fun little back stories, it really goes to show that the unexpected can be just what the doctor ordered.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore tells the story of, you guessed it, a 24 hour bookstore run by a man named Penumbra (oh, the obscurity). Through the eyes of Clay Jannon, an unemployed web designer in desperate need of a new job, we learn about the mystery of Mr Penumbra, and how there is more to the shelves of his humble shop than meets the eye.  A lot more in fact, that cannot be seen even if you're searching. With Clay's knowledge of technology thrown into the mix, Penumbra's loyal customers team up with Google's (yes, Google. I always forget that there are actual people that work there) most promising employees in order to crack a code that's been puzzling readers for centuries. 

The one thing I really loved about the tome was the amalgamation of old and new - the coming together of book worshippers and tech wizards in order to solve an age old mystery. I will always be a book lover, but it's so interesting to read something that has a backbone based on literature, but that so well and truly incorporates the modern world of technology into its story. For me, it was this fresh and exciting perspective that really had me hooked. It may seem a little outdated in a few years, with it's plethora of references to Kindles and Fruit Ninja, but if you're of my generation, you'll love all of these contemporary allusions. I think delving back in in years to come will be a great blast from the past, reminding me of all those technological crazes that we love right now, but that will be long forgotten by then. 

Not a particularly deep read, it's a lot of fun, and had me smirking away to myself more than once. I'd consider this a great holiday pick for those who aren't huge fans of chick lit, or the soppy romantic stuff. Now don't get me wrong, I love a bit of Cecelia Ahern as much as the next girl but, to be honest, Sloan's writing is a lot more my cup of tea. So there you go - a quick, light review of a quick, light read. If you're not sold yet, Google it. There are actual people that work there, don't you know.

Have you read Sloan's contemporary tome? Are you a book or a Kindle girl? Let me know!


Friday, 25 April 2014

Something Beginning With...D: Diet

This week, I thought I'd cover something completely new to the world of Squares (the blog, not me). I wanted my Something Beginning With D to be a little different than a bog standard beauty post because, let's be honest, as much as we love them, they can get a tad repetitive. With that in mind, Diet will be the topic of today's post. Please don't misunderstand me, I hate the concept of dieting - to me they're just fads that go out of style faster than the last season's lippy. Anyone remember Atkins? Yep, me neither. I do, however, wholly believe in maintaining a healthy diet, and eating all the foods you like in moderation. Over the past few years I've really started to realise that no amount of miracle skin cream is going to make you glow if you're constantly chowing down on crisps and coke. Beauty comes from within, and that's a fact that often gets underestimated. Since ditching the brownies for bananas, I can honestly tell you that it has made a noticeable difference to my skin and hair as well as my health. Still, I'm by no means a health nut - long live the binge day - but I thought I'd put together a little something, sharing with you the small changes I've implemented that have made all the difference. 

Get Some Nuts

I love a cheeky snack between meals. My grazing food of choice was once the coveted Custard Cream, or a sneaky bag of ready salted. However, since around Christmas time (not AT Christmas time I must quickly add - be serious), I've been swapping out my fatty snacks for seeds, nuts, raisins and the like. No good if you have a nut allergy of course, but I find them equally delicious, and the natural fats in them are really good for you. Hazelnuts and almonds are my fave, and I'm quite partial to a nice walnut every now and again. Admittedly, I have had a bit of a relapse recently, since starting an internship with a steady stream of Kit-Kats at my disposal, but I've definitely streamlined the snacking over the past few months. I also make an effort to incorporate healthy things into my breakfast. A sprinkling of flaxseed on my morning porridge, or a blueberry or two mixed into some greek yoghurt. There's one of your five a day before you've even started! So there you go - step one of my new healthier diet. And the occasional Snickers never hurt anyone now, did it?

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away 

I actually think it might, you know. Apples, as well as being full of nutritious fruity goodness, are known in the beauty world for their marvellous detoxing qualities. So, like a kindergarten cliche, I've taken to popping an apple in my daily lunchbox. You really can't ever have enough fruit! Which brings us onto my next point...

Juice, Juice Juice!

Like the rest of the world, I've gone a little juicing mad. I love to make my own tasty concoctions, and the fact that they are so good for you might just be the biggest bonus ever. My favourite juice, which I have when I wake up, is a blend of apple, spinach and celery. Admittedly, it does look a little bit like toxic sludge, (see picture above apples!) but it tastes amazing, as well as being super good for you. One interesting little tip I've picked up is that it's better to have more vegetable based juices, so that you're not overloading on sugar from fruit because, however natural it is, too much sugar isn't the best. There are plenty of juicing books out there to give you lots of info. The Juice Master is perhaps the most obvious one, but my favourite is Super Juice by Michael Van Straten. I love that it has this  'at home' remedy section at the back, where it lists pretty much every illness you could think of, and gives you your cure through one of his delicious juices. Genius! He's apparently the UK's best known practitioner of complementary medicine too, so he must have a vague idea of what he's talking about. 

Water, Water Everywhere (And ALL The Drops To Drink)

As well as plenty of fresh juice, I've now made it a habit of keeping a glass of water on my desk, which I sip on when I'm bored. I'm massively guilty of forgetting to keep hydrated throughout the day, but I find that keeping a big glass within reach has remedied my parched state, and my skin has definitely thanked me for it. And that constant yo-yoing to the loo and back has to count for at least some of your daily cardio, right?

So there you are. They might seem trivial, but all of the little things add up, and I really feel great after striving to look after my body a little better. Of course, I'm writing this whilst gorging on the remnants of my Easter treats. The healthy eating resumes tomorrow.

What are your favourite ways to stay healthy? Any nutritious snacks you care to recommend? Let me know!


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Wax On, Wax Off: Waxing vs. Shaving

As far as staying fuzz free goes, I've always been a shaving kinda gal. It's just easier, more convenient and, most importantly pain free. But having recently booked a holiday (Florence here I come!) I've been thinking more and more about the pros and cons of 'at home' waxing. Here, I've decided to put together a little debate; will I waver to waxing, or will I stay a shaver? We shall see.

With regards to shaving, I used to be a Venus lover through and through, but after receiving a Wilkinson Sword HydroSilk* razor in my OxMeet goody bag, I've been having a go with that. I must admit, maybe Venus isn't the only blade for me after all, as this one's pretty great. Similar to my old Venus Spa Breeze razor, it has moisture bars, meaning that my skin doesn't get dry and irritated after shaving. Honestly, I hate to shave my legs with any razor that doesn't have these built in moisturisers now, as I feel like they make such a difference! The HydroSilk also has 5 curve-sensing blades (fancy, eh?) for really close shaving, and let me tell you, it definitely earns the 'silk' in it's name. It's even got a travel cover, so it doesn't get all gammy in your wash bag. The perfect travel companion, no? Now, I know that shaving doesn't last long, and your left with stubbly pins mere days after doing the deed, but that's not an aspect that's ever really bothered me. Sure, it would be lovely to have silky smooth legs all year round, but even with waxing, that's never going to happen, so what's a couple of extra minutes in the shower for the sake of a little legwork? It's also important to note the pain free pull of shaving - the soreness of waxing was making me more than a little apprehensive. I gave it a go anyway, for comparison's sake, and here's what I thought. 

Obviously the big draw of waxing is longer lasting results, hence the reason I'm considering it for my travels. I don't really want to be spending valuable time abroad perfecting my summer legs, so it makes sense that I should give them a cheeky wax before I head off. After a quick trip up the hair removal aisle in Boots, I selected the Veet Wax Strips for Senstive Skin. I thought it wise to have a trial run before I went all gung-ho just days before my trip. To be honest, I'm not fully impressed with the results. I do love that the strips are impregnated with Almond Oil and Vitamin E for that little kick of moisture, and I favour the longer lasting results over those of shaving, but for me, that's probably where the benefits end. In terms of the pain factor, the initial sting is fine, but it throbs for a while afterwards, and leaves my skin looking a bit angry for the rest of the day. Not an attractive look, I can tell you! This does go down overnight, so I think I'd be safe doing it in advance, but another aspect I found rather irritating was the sticky residue left on my red legs after I'd yanked the wax strips off - the perfect finish wipes are nowhere near perfect by the way. Paired with the fact that you aren't supposed to wax over the same area twice, so any strays you have to tweeze from the tacky remains, it seems to me that waxing isn't really worth the trouble. It might be my novice technique that's causing all the difficulties, but I think I'll remain a shaving lady for the foreseeable future. 

Conclusion: I think I'll give waxing a go for my stint in the sun, although I plan to book an appointment for a professional wax to save me the hassle. But I'll be sure to pack my trusty razor - just in case. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

What about you guys? Waxers or shavers? What's your razor of choice? Let me know!

*PR Sample

Monday, 21 April 2014

Battle Of The Liquid Liners

I love a well defined lash line as much as the next girl, but sometimes that perfect liner can be a little elusive. After years of searching, I'm still not sure I've found the ideal product, but I'm definitely a lot closer, and a lot more informed. With that in mind, I thought I'd share with you a few of my faves, along with a couple of no-no's that you might want to avoid. 

My token brown liquid liner, I think this is my favourite of the lot. The perfect mix of sturdy and skinny, I love lining my lashes with it. I fear it's only a matter of time before I cave and buy it in black, as I think it's the easiest liner I've ever worked with. It's perfect for pushing into the roots of the lashes, and firm enough that I can sweep it across my lash line for precise, neat framework every time. As well as this, it's a given that the darker colours are true, but I've also heard amazing things about the more vibrant shades in the range, which offer bright colours with a great pigment. None of that wishy washy rubbish!

This is slightly less flexible than Stila, but still thin enough for a really sharp, defined line. And holy, moly, what a pigmented formula! I think it's probably the perfect size and strength to execute the  most beautiful feline flick, and I'd be able to say that with a little more confidence if I were any good at them! But hey, if Alexa Chung, queen of the wing, loves it enough to put her name on it, it must be a winner.

This is a liner I've fallen a bit out of love with. When I first bought it, I thought I'd discovered a new favourite, but I've found that it gets dry really quickly, and it's difficult to pick up enough product to draw a neat, black line that isn't riddled with patches and imperfections. Maybe I just got a dud, who knows, but it's been delegated to the bottom of my make-up draw nonetheless, and won't be resurfacing anytime soon.

A hell of a lot thicker than my other liners, it has the aesthetic of a marker pen. I find it difficult to get a precise line with this, probably the only reason I don't use it on a daily basis, but it's great for really working into the lashes and for doing the more bold looks. Be A Bombshell is also a brand that gear their products towards more sensitive skin, so if that's something you struggle with, you should definitely check them out. 

This one probably gets the least use of all my liquid liners, and I knew I'd made an error as soon as I'd bought it. It has a really thin brush applicator, designed for close precision work, which make me feel completely inept. Although you can get a much thinner line, it offers no control, and I end up smudging it everywhere. With a bit of practice, maybe I'll get there one day, but for now, I think I'll stick to my pen nib packaging. To be honest, it is just my preference that makes this a bit of a rubbish product for me. If you favour a thin liner brush over the angled equivalents, then I'd probably recommend that you give this one a go. It has really great lasting power, and I like the glossy finish it dries to. Unfortunately, I'm just not nimble enough to master the technique needed to use such a high precision brush.

So there you have it, and after careful deliberation, I think it's pretty safe to say that my winner is Stila! I love this product, and it would definitely be the first I recommended to somebody in the market for a new liquid liner. Eyeko and Be A Bombshell are not to be scoffed at, however - both equally lovely liners that give a great result. Sadly, Bourjois is not for me, but try your luck, it may be just the thing you're looking for. As for Loreal, shame on you! Dry, patchy lining is no good at all!

What's your favourite liquid liner? Do you like any of the liners I've listed? Let me know!


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Book of the Week: Perfume - The Story Of A Murderer

"Odors have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions or will. The persuasive power of an door cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it."

OK, you got me. I judged a book by it's cover. I picked up Perfume by Patrick Suskind on a recent trip to Waterstones simply because it looked so pretty on it's shelf (or maybe it smelled good, who really even knows anymore)! Upon further perusal of the blurb, I was sold - I had to buy it and read all about this weird perversion of perfume. And honestly, I've never read anything like it before.  Despite being the story of a murderer, it's such a fun and interesting read. Admittedly a little strange, but completely unique, I was totally absorbed by a fantasy tale of perfumeries, grotesqueness and desire.

A strange little tome about a strange little man, Perfume documents the meanderings of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. Born without a scent, society is unnerved by his perturbing presence, if they even notice him at all, and his supernatural smelling talent leads him on a twisted journey to hunt down the most perfect fragrance on the planet, even if that means partaking in a spot of murder along the way.

The intriguing notion that fuels the book is that scent has a much more profound effect on society than we are aware of. As well as Grenouille being considered an outcast due to his lack of smell, he is alone in the knowledge that the most beautiful of people are not attractive to us because of their good looks, but because of their enticing aroma. We only think that their appearance is what's beautiful because we consider sight to be the most predominant of the senses. I found this to be such an interesting concept that, although it's just a work of fiction, I got to thinking about all of the things that are made that much more attractive to me because of their fragrant beauty. Flowers, for example, or a slice of apple pie: both have their own aesthetic appeal, both are enhanced by their inviting bouquet.

The book itself is also written in a really unique way, something I found pleasantly peculiar. The dark, twisted tale is communicated in such an upbeat, lighthearted, almost humorous manner, which I found made it even more entertaining. Grenouille treats his murder victims, not as people, but as living vessels for alluring fragrances. And so the language in which they are treated, although rather alarming, is so abstract that you almost forget how harrowing the act is. I've never seen killing dealt with in such an interesting way, making this one of the most fascinatingly abnormal books I have ever read. 

If you're looking for something a little different to read, I would really recommend you pick up this weird and wonderful tale. A little worrying in places, brilliant in others, and witty throughout, I loved everything about this fragrant feast of a fantasy, and I'll definitely be looking into other works by this German gem of a writer!

Have you read Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer? What is your favourite perfume based read? Let me know! 


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