Tuesday, 29 September 2015

NEW | Selfridges Beauty Personal Shopping

Last week I paid a visit to one of my favourite places ... Selfridges Exchange Square specifically the Beauty Hall.

I was invited to have a little meeting with Charlotte Ingram to learn all about the new Beauty Personal Shopping service available in their Manchester Exchange Square that is the first of it's kind in the UK and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Firstly I will start by saying the service is complimentary and you're not obliged to buy any products, if you don't want to purchase anything you it won't be forced upon you and secondary Charlotte is completely impartial i.e. she doesn't work for any of the makeup retailers, she works for Selfridges so you won't walk away with with a shopping bag exclusively of one brand; if she doesn't think a product will suit you she won't recommend you buy it.

Although currently in its infancy I can see this service being a success and expanding into all the Selfridges stores and I dread to know how busy Charlotte is going to be at Christmas, lord knows how clueless men can be when buying their partners' gifts. With Charlotte, the impartiality will mean the guys won't be sold product that aren't suitable and solely from one counter.

When I heard about the service I immediately thought of men using it for purchasing gifts, women who aren't beauty junkies and want to purchase some skincare and makeup or a teenager just starting out who needs the basics. Charlotte opened my eyes to so many other clientele she see's; women who wear veils and can't remove them on the shop floor, customers with mobility issues who may not be able to navigate the Beauty Hall very easily or customers who don't have the confidence to be makeup free around all the other customers, the Beauty Personal Shopping area is a save haven for anyone who needs a bit of advice about what they're purchasing. Charlotte is so knowledgeable about products and ingredients within the products too which I really commend as so many people ignore that very important aspect of beauty.

I think the Beauty Personal Shopping will be a success because Charlotte is so easy to talk to and it's like a therapy session; we talked about everything and anything both beauty and non-beauty related and I think the real connection you can make builds trust which I think is crucial for a service like this.

Another aspect of Charlotte's job is for the beauty junkies who want the latest releases but can't queue up at 8am on a Wednesday, if you give her a call she can reserve all the limited edition items you heart desires and either put them to one side for you to collect or send them out to you. If you have your eyes set on the Charlotte Tilbury Advent Calendar i'd be giving Charlotte a call as she's already reserved a few and it's super limited edition! How is that not the greatest service ever?

Give Charlotte a call and book in, I think a great gift to give someone would be a Selfridges Gift Voucher and book them in with Charlotte so they can have a great experience and leave with products that will really work so they can spend their voucher wisely.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Exante Diet | Week 3 + Summer Fruits Overnight Oats Recipe

Week three has come and gone on my Exante Diet and having had a very busy and stressful working week I am happy to report still no cheating food wise, my coffee consumption however did need to increase proportionally with my stress levels but all in all I did well.

I did some experimenting also this week with recipes and the picture above was from my very successful Exante Overnight Oats so I thought i'd share how I concocted them. (The porridge packet does advice to use as instructed but i'm a rebel and ignored it).

Summer Fruits Exante Overnight Oats

Exante Diet Porridge Oats
150ml Water
50ml Semi Skimmed Milk
50g Alpro Strawberry & Rhubarb Yoghurt (Optional as it's not part of the daily allowance)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
80g Frozen Mixed Summer Fruits

- In a jar or tupperwear place the Exante Diet Porridge Oats with the water and milk and mix.
- Add yoghurt and vanilla and mix.
- Place frozen fruit over the top and seal jar
- Leave overnight in fridge

Although I won't be having this everyday I think it's a good once a week treat when you're on a diet plan as it feels very naughty as it tastes like eating dessert for breakfast and we all have that one day of the week when we need a morning pick-me-up. (mine's a Tuesday!)

Weight loss this week is another 3 pounds down which is fantastic as i've not had anytime to do my exercises, I actually went to bed at 8:30pm one night I was so exhausted from work.

Total weight loss so far - 10 pounds.

As always the code NICOLAEXANTE is valid for 18% off for new customers so get using it!! (Link)

Monday, 14 September 2015

Currently Obsessed With ... Autumn/Winter Additions

I think the slight chill in the air has got me on the turn and i'm relinquishing my love of summer and surrendering to the imminent colder months because my current Obsessed With's I think all revolve warm scents, chunky boots and flawless winter skin.

1. Diptyque Eau Duelle Eau De Parfum - £90.00 (Link)
Seriously how do I not own this yet? Every time I go to Selfridges I smell it and adore it. It's a warm spicy vanilla perfume and to me smells so warm and welcoming i'd like to think if I wore it everyone would want a hug from me. I just don't have the ability to purchase perfume for myself as I have so many and when loved ones complain i'm a pain to buy for I sometimes wish they'd read my blog. HINT HINT. Diptyque have just opened a pop up shop in BOXPARK in Shoreditch and have three new fragrances out so if you're near pop in for a smell, the bottles are stunning as they're handmade glass bottles.

2. Rebecca Minkoff Sunglasses Pouch - $75.00 (Link)
This is the ultimate 'first world problem' because boo hoo Nicola can't fit her Dior sunglasses case into her Mini Philip Lim Pashli Tote so NEEDS a Rebecca Minkoff Sunglasses Pouch! I know right, I also know I need to turn on the news and get some prospective but I keep just chucking my sunnies in my bag and they're too nice to ruin so this is my solution ... and the pouch matches my bag.

3. Dune Penelope Croc Ankle Boots - £89.00 (Link)
These boots are stunning, they are the perfect height, cut off, slightly pointed, a bit of suede, a bit of stamped leather and they would be a perfect addition to my winter wardrobe for pairing with skinny jeans, tights and a dress, patterned trousers ... the list is endless except that was about it.

4. Biologique Recherge P50 - $61.00 (Link)
I think my longing for this product is half because I just can't get my hands on it as virtually no retailers stock BR in the UK; Liberty sold it for a hot second but seem to have stopped the swines and believe me when I say I have searched for hours to get this online and shipped to the UK but failed. This product is the ultimate exfoliating treatment and as I love liquid exfoliators I need to try this. (I was at the point of booking the Eurostar last month but I couldn't have the time off from work)

5. RMK Skintuner Treatment - £32.00 (Link)
The newly reformulated Skintuners by RMK are the perfect moisturising toners and they really do pack a punch, they come in two options; moist and extra moist and I think for winter skin the extra layer of hydration will help your central heated battered complexion. I think the Extra Moist option should do the trick for me because I never do things by halves especially when it comes to my skin.

6. Estée Lauder Matte Perfecting Primer - £24.50 (Link)
Autumn and Winter makeup trends typically embrace matte skin and this is a trend I tend to stick to all year round with my primer as my skin is oily and if I don't prime it correctly my foundation will be non-existent on my face by lunch time. I've heard this is a great primer to help with the oily skin and it isn't a silicone which I appreciate.

7. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation - £29.50 (Link)
The new offering from Charlotte which has been four years in the making really does sound the perfect foundation; full coverage, lightweight and long lasting ... I'll admit I couldn't resist any longer and purchased this yesterday! Review to come.

8. RMK Powder Foundation Ex - £45.00 (Link)
I have used samples of this before and I used it lightly as a setting powder and was in love with how it made my skin look. It set my makeup and made it last all day with the most beautiful luminosity to my skin. I thought it would be the perfect combinations with the Magic Foundation to create a flawless complexion for party season.

So those are my current obsessions and I caved on one so it won't be long until I eventually own them all even if I have to hop on a train to Paris for the P50!! What is on your Current Obsession list?

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Exante Diet | Week 2

Week two on my Sam Bailey Exante Diet Plan (Link) has come and gone and now comes the repeating of the meals I've tried; I have to say I'm not overly keen on the tomato soup (but that says more about me than the soup because I'm very particular about tomato soup) otherwise I'm not struggling at meal times whatsoever, I can always find something without shuddering at the thought of eating it and I have to say even when I've finished the plan I will be purchasing the Peanut Butter Bars and the Mango & Passion Fruit Drink Mix because they are both so good. 

Now this week I did go off my plan for one meal which was Thursday as I was invited to the Selfridges Food Hall Event at the Trafford Centre. It involved a lot of potential for mischief as there was samples of cake and chocolate available for testing ( I will be doing a post this week all about it) even with all the temptation I remained very well behaved! It was my plan to have a meal 'off' because I had a Yo Sushi Masterclass so I knew I'd eat some creations and I couldn't say no to that but other than some hand rolls and a couple of canopies i was good as gold so I'm pleased with that because I didn't exactly go off the rails on a binge. I allowed myself to switch an Exante meal with a relatively healthy option which I think you need to allow yourself to do as we all have social lives and you can't exactly get your diet bar out at a restaurant so I think if you don't go wild you're sticking on the right path.

Weight loss wise i'm down three pounds this week making it seven in total which i'm thrilled about and if definitely keeps you motivated to carry on when you're missing having your overnight oats but I may have come up with a little plan so I can maybe have some and stick on the plan I am sure i'll update you if it works!

As always the code NICOLAEXANTE is valid for 18% off for new customers so get using it!! (Link)

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Exante Diet | Details + Exercise

My main question when I was considering the Exante Diet Plan was; What does it involve day to day? and what exercise is recommended on the plan?

The Sam Bailey Plan (Link) consists of the shakes, bars and quick to prepare foods. During the day the calorie allowance is 800 which shocked me at first because I thought I would be starving and cheat all the time but so far I haven't found it too difficult by varying my food each day.

My typical day on the plan:

Breakfast - An Exante Shake and an Espresso or an Exante breakfast option (usually the weekend)
Snack - A piece of fruit, usually an apple
Lunch - An Exante Diet Bar (the peanut butter ones are so good!)
Evening Meal - An Exante meal with a portion of vegetables

I drink as much water as I can handle / how much time I can spare in a busy work day for bathroom trips and there is an allowance for up to two cans of Coke Zero and four cups of Tea with milk no sugar. As I don't drink coke and have black tea without sugar I just allow myself up to six cups of tea a day but in reality I never drink that many.

I'm the kind of person who enjoys structure and planning ahead (read: Organisational Nazi) so the Exante Diet (Link) is really easy to follow and I have a couple of spreadsheets on the go so I always have planned my days food ahead of time so I'm never caught out if i'm not at home to make a meal I just simply substitute with a bar. This is probably the main aspect of the plan I enjoy because flexibility is everything when you're constantly on the go.

When you're limiting your calories with the Sam Bailey plan you can't be doing an insanity class every night so one of my biggest questions was; how much exercise can I do? The answer will please some in that you only really do gentle 20 minute walks a couple of times a week, which then increases the longer you're on the plan. I may be able to give up my Aqua Running and Splash Aerobics but I haven't given up my Pilates as I need it for my back pain but as it's such a gentle exercise I just substitute one of my gentle walks for it whereas I wasn't too reluctant to give up my bi-weekly water torture sessions.

I hoped that answered a few of your questions and I shall be back with an update on Sunday in the mean time my code NICOLAEXANTE is still valid for 18% off for new customers (Link)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Exante Diet | Week 1 Update

I have been on my Exante Diet Sam Bailey Diet Plan for one week now so I thought i'd update you all on how I'm finding it, weight lost, what i've been eating etc.

The biggest question I have been asked so far is how I'm finding it; I was told the third day was the toughest and I purposefully scheduled the start of the diet so that I hit my third day on the Bank Holiday and so I could cope with being crabby and avoid getting fired for slapping a co-worker. I definitely agree that the third day is the toughest and I managed to get through it without cheating although I needed a coffee or two for a pick me up and I have to say watching The Great British Bake Off without a slice of cake was slightly disheartening but I remembered there was a couple of desserts in the plan so I whipped up a salted caramel pudding and all was right with the world.

The ease of the plan is what i'm enjoying the most because after a long day I hate being stuck in the kitchen cooking, all the meals are super quick and if i'm feeling at my most tired or if i'm out for the evening I just have a milkshake.

I've made sure to try everything in my first week so I don't end up just eating the same things over and over; I haven't found anything inedible so far, I think I can pretty much eat anything taste wise (barring artificial banana) I was a little disappointed with the chocolate mint shake (in my head I wanted it to be like an after eight and it wasn't) so I just added an espresso and ice and hey presto it was my beloved Starbucks iced mint mocha. I love the honeycomb milkshake and the maple syrup pancakes were great i'd definitely recommend making a few small ones rather than one big one as they take less time to cook and you won't end up biting into a half cooked one as they do take a bit longer to cook than normal american pancakes.

Weight lost so far is 4lbs which is great for week 1 especially when I didn't have the time for all of the daily exercises (I will do a separate post on these) and overall i've not found it too difficult.

I will do another update next Sunday with next weeks loss ... fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

FREE | Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation Sample

Charlotte Tilbury has been working on her newest release for the past five years; previously there has only been one foundation in her makeup line - The Light Wonder foundation which is sheer glowy gorgeousness so there's definitely a gap for a foundation with a bit more coverage and those who might want more of a demi-matte finish.

The Magic Foundation has been developed to deliver these results with it's long wearing, full coverage, weightless demi-matte formulation, which to me sounds like the foundation I am constantly trying to find. I cannot wait to try it and currently having to use every ounce of strength to be patient until I can get matched at a counter and not order it blindly online.

There is currently a sampling offer available (LINK) which doesn't require a purchase so completely free (you just have to basically recommend the offer to a friend, which i'm sure they'll be thankful for a free sample). I love this marketing tool because it helps to spread the word about the launch plus gives customers the chance to try the product before purchase, it's especially useful if you can't get to a counter to get matched because you can estimate your shade from the models / online swatches and make an adjustment if you like the foundation and the shade doesn't quite match because you'll have a reference point before purchasing.

I also think this speaks volumes about the quality of the product as Charlotte Tilbury must really stand behind the foundation's formula to let consumers sample it first so that they can decide to purchase the full size or not.

You can purchase the Magic Foundation for £29.50 (Link) which I think is a good price for what is hopefully a very good high end foundation and a price I pay regularly for the foundations I tend to use!

Let me know if you go for the offer and what you think of the foundation, I will definitely be posting a review once I get my hands on a bottle!!