December 18, 2014

Aloha from the Bloggers Love Hub (with Product Reviews)


             Bloggers Love has done it again! The Bloggers Love Hub convened every Monday this past November. I caught the last of the festivities on the 24th, which were held at Kanaloa, a Tiki-themed bar. The inspiration behind the Hub was to provide a place where bloggers could network, explore new brands, and catch a fashion show or two – all with a novel liquid refreshment (served in Tiki or coconut beakers of course). Bloggers on site were there to provide advice to fellow bloggers, while beauty treatments (hair and nails) were a further added bonus! Oh, the life of a blogger is hard…

As a VIB (Very Important Blogger), I was able to secure myself a front row seat for the fashion shows (I loved seeing my name card waiting for me)! I chose a mainly black ensemble and paired my see-through crewneck with a lacy maroon bralet and long sleeveless jacket.
Backless styles are a cheeky way of showing some flesh when the rest of the outfit is more reserved (far left); neutrals elongate the body and are always a stylishly safe bet (top center); Fifty Shades of Grey is clearly having a moment and has permeated the fashion sphere with bondage-inspired details, like this leather "harness" as Mr. Grey would say (ahem) (bottom center); just in time for the glitz and the glam of New Year's Eve, sequins are a surefire way to get yourself noticed (far right)
Marilyn Monroe made the "little white dress" iconic in that 1954 photo. It has taken on many different forms since then to provide an angelic rivalry to the tried-and-true "little black dress."
             I personally always jump at the chance to chat to and meet other bloggers in person. It’s a really good way to spread the word about your own blog while gathering tricks of the trade and picking up new blog URLs along the way. Events like this one work to make cyber space that little bit less vast and anonymous. I might have attended the Hub alone, but I left for the Tube station with two fellow bloggers at the end of the night.  

Putting a face to a name: pictured with fellow blogger Joshua Milton of That Kid in the Bowtie
             After making my rounds at the Hub, I was loaded down with goodies, which I was eager to test. Now, I’d just like to interject with some information about the brands featured on the night and a few mini product reviews, because I figure it’s better to show you than to tell you!

             If you follow my blog, then you know that I’m a really big advocate of Umberto Giannini’s hair products for their effortless styling and staying power. If you’d like to have a look at my Grunge Glamour Tousled Salt Spray review, you can view it here and you can find the rest of my reviews for the Glam Hair range here. I am now adding two more of Umberto Giannini’s products into the mix to finish off the Glam Hair range roundup: the Princess Purrfect Hot Styler Spray and the Rock ‘N’ Roll Extreme Hairspray.

Princess Purrfect Hot Styler Spray
Step 1. Spray Umberto Giannini's Princess Purrfect Hot Styler Spray all over dry or damp (as shown here) hair before blowdrying or styling with a straightener or curling iron. Its claim? That it "holds like a hairspray, smoothes like a serum, and protects against heat damage."
Step 2. Brush the spray through your hair before styling as desired. I chose to curl my hair with the Diva Professional Styling Beach Curls Wand, which I swear by!
Step 3. Curl half of your hair on one side of your head first. I tend to leave the curling wand on for 20 seconds per section with the heat setting at 160 degrees Celsius, because I have fine hair. Remember: the less heat, the better!

Rock ‘N’ Roll Extreme Hairspray
Step 4. Curl the rest of your hair. Flip your head upside down and run your hands through all of your curls if you want to achieve beachy waves, opposed to tight curls. Then mist Umberto Giannini's Rock 'N' Roll Extreme Hairspray throughout your hair for hold. A little goes a long way! 
The finished result backs up the product's claim, leaving you with long-lasting, touchable curls!
 Explore the full range of Umberto Giannini haircare here or stop by your local Boots store for quality products at reasonable prices

Timeless Truth Bio Cellulose Apple Stem Cell Collagen Mask
Timeless Truth has a wide selection of beauty masks to choose from. This one is loaded with stem cells extracted from the Swiss Uttwiler Sp√§tlauber apple, which help to nourish and stimulate the skin. Marine collagen reduces signs of fatigue and dehydration by boosting the skin's softness and elasticity. It's as simple as cleansing your face and then wearing the mask (which is hassle-free, unlike creams and other concoctions) for 15-20 minutes. After removal, massage the remaining essence into the skin.
I braved going bare-faced and channeled Hannibal Lecter √† la Silence of the Lambs to reveal radiant and supple skin that provides the perfect make-up base. What you see is what you get; the only make-up I'm wearing is mascara and I haven't cheated with photo editing! For best results, repeat the treatment three-to-four times a week.
Try the innovative beauty masks out for yourself by ordering online here. There are two decadent ranges to choose from: Fusion and Luxury.

In Situ Cosmetics Face Scrub 
London-based In Situ Cosmetics very kindly offered to create a bespoke skincare product for me to pick up at the Bloggers Love Hub. I chose all of the elements to reflect what best suits my skin type,  from the texture, to my skin concern, to a mood boost, finishing off with what time of day I would like to use the product. I ended up with a face scrub for normal skin that firms and tones while providing a total unwind at night. It is literally "made only for you." As my personalized bottle suggests, this product is made specifically for my skin and me. Hands off, everyone!
 The clear gel-like face scrub uses natural micro-beads to exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells and impurities. Quillaja extract is naturally cleansing, orange boosts skin's firmness and elasticity, and sandalwood helps to calm and relax. Afterwards, my skin felt tighter and cleansed, while the scent of the scrub was refreshing and invigorating. The product is exactly what skincare should be -uncomplicated and 98 percent natural - but most importantly, it works!
You too can create your own indivdualized skincare here. Custom-made, paraben-free, color-free, and naturally fresh products are only a click away! Besides, who can resist the super cute name detail?

Vita Liberata
Vita Liberata created the world's first odorless tan in 2007 and became the first completely non-toxic tanning brand in 2011. Watch this space in January, because I will be collaborating with Vita Liberata to test out a product from their new NKD SKN Luxe Tanning Collection. This should be interesting, as I've never tried a self-tanner before, but it should do wonders for perking up my pale winter complexion.
At the Hub, Vita Liberata set up a selection of their Illuminating Skin Finish, which would act as a great highlighter for cheekbones. I tested it on the back of my hand and the result was a silky sheen with just the right amount of shimmer. For more information about Vita Liberata, visit their website here.

Slendertone
Also stay tuned to my blog for my review of the Slendertone System Abs Belt in the coming months. I will be charting my journey on a weekly basis during the recommended four-to-six week period. I'm holding off until after Christmas (I say with a box of chocolates next to me), precisely because it is Christmas where I get to eat, drink, and be merry. Although, come New Year, I will be buckling down and getting back into the routine of working out, eating healthily, and getting toned with the help of Slendertone. That way, I can show you the best possible results.
Slendertone supplies products that improve muscle tone and body shape. From abs to arms to your behind, and even to your face, Slendertone uses Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) toning technology to create strong, deep muscle contractions to tone your body. 20 minutes using the Ab Belt is the equivalent of 120 abdominal crunches. Count me in!
If you'd like to learn more about Slendertone or are interested in what else they have on offer, check them out here.

Nadia Minkoff London
The London-themed jewelry I received at the Hub courtesy of Nadia Minkoff London was such a sweet surprise. Made with Swarovski elements, the charm bracelet and necklace perfectly depict certain aspects of the great city. The Eye is central to both pieces of jewelry with its candy-colored outer wheel, which is whimsical and unexpected. These are definite conversation starters!
I met the lovely Nadia herself at the Hub and was captivated by her electric teal clutch bags and the iridescent peacock tones infused in her jewelry. Nadia Minkoff London was first established in 1988 and stays true to the designer's roots: her home city of London. Learn more here.

             In keeping with the Hawaiian theme of the evening, I feel that a big mahalo (thank you) is owed to Bloggers Love for arranging such an enjoyable event. The eclectic array of brands on show made for a perfect combination of products and services, not to mention the delightful people in attendance. Get involved with Bloggers Love here and the Bloggers Love Hub here. Maybe I'll see you at the next event!

December 15, 2014

Have Yourself a Merry Little Manicure

 Festive nails courtesy of Prettly
             After a grueling week, I finished my final exams at university this past Friday (hoorah!). I dashed out of my last exam to be greeted by my light at the end of the tunnel, which came in the form of Prettly. Prettly is a new beauty technology startup in London where you receive a lot of bang for your buck. They offer services such as manicures, pedicures (both Shellac and classic), hair, and make-up…all delivered straight to your doorstep, your office, or another location of your choice!

             While it can be said that most women love a good pampering session, looking good takes time (take note, boys!) and sometimes that’s time that we simply don’t have. Prettly works under the premise of convenience. Founder and CEO of Prettly.com, Rhea Papanicolaou-Frangista, comments that “anything from ordering groceries to taxis can now be done with a tap of the phone.” Papanicolaou-Frangista and Co-Founder and Head of Marketing, Farrah Hamid, discovered a gap in London for women’s beauty needs, and then they filled it.

My friend receiving her pedicure
             Prettly’s mobile-friendly website couldn’t be more simple to use and it caters to the busy lifestyles and schedules of women on the go. All you need to do is first create an account on Prettly.com, and then through a series of quick steps, you select the treatment(s) of your choice, the date, your beauty professional, and the time. From there, you whip out the plastic and pay for your treatment(s) without having to worry about it on the day.


             I opted for a Shellac manicure and a classic pedicure, while my friend chose a Christmas-themed pedicure. Beauty treatments don’t have to be a solitary activity, but they can be a fun, relaxing hangout for you and a friend. In a typical nail salon setting, however, this usually means you aren’t able to sit together, which means no talking either! What’s the point of a good girly catch up without the gossip?! When my friend arrived at my flat, she came toting wine and sweet treats to celebrate the end of the semester. With winter starting to stretch its frosty wings, Prettly provides the perfect solution for not wanting to brave the cold, or even trade your pajamas for clothes…

My friend's mistle-"toes"
             I was very impressed with Prettly’s efficiency and coordination. Before my appointment, I received a reminder email and text and our lovely beauty professional, Nicoleta Rambu, arrived ten minutes before her scheduled appointment time. Prettly’s beauty professionals are vetted and tested by the team beforehand. They are then rated and reviewed by the customers after each treatment, which maintains the high quality standard.

             Rambu brought a carryall with wheels, which held all of her products and supplies, including a blowup basin in which to soak our feet. All I needed to provide were towels while Rambu provided the rest from her Mary Poppins bag! My friend and I were given the ultimate luxury experience as we simultaneously sipped wine while resting on the comfortable chairs in my flat, our nails primped to perfection, and our final exams far from our minds.

Nicoleta Rambu, our Prettly beauty professional, and my Rudolph red nose nails
             Rambu was amiable from the start and really helpful, giving my friend and me tips throughout. What I liked the most about Rambu was that she took her time and actually ended up staying with us for around four hours!  She showed me multiple shades of red and let me test each one out before making a decision. The type of red, whether cherry or more along the orange spectrum, is very important you know! Rambu only left when she was (and we were) completely happy with the results. By the end of the appointment, Rambu was laughing and joking along with us in our silly antics and I’m certain it’s not the last I’ll be seeing of her!

             Prettly has very generously offered a 10 percent discount off your first treatment with them if you email bookings@prettly.com with the code PRETTLY-FOR-LDN-DREAM in the subject line. Treat yourselves this Christmas! Get started on Prettly's website here

Ho, ho, ho: 'tis the season to be jolly!