February 09, 2016

Travel | Dubai Miracle & Butterfly Garden

Over the new year, I managed to escape the grim British weather with a flight to Dubai. Winter is probably the most expensive time of year to visit as the weather is in the comfortable 20s and I'm not the only genius with the bright idea to escape winter weather. As my family lives there and I've visited so many times, I decided to check out their newer attractions including the Dubai Miracle Garden along with the butterfly garden that was close by.

The Dubai Miracle garden is a flower garden located on the outskirts of any of the other main tourist attractions in Dubai. The nearest landmark I can think of would be Motorcity. It is said to have over 45 million flowers. In typical Dubai fashion, 72,000 square meter garden holds the record for world's largest flower garden. It's a quirky alternative to your standard park.

As it is on the outskirts, I felt like I was surrounded by local residents with a few tourists here and there. Transportation is difficult without a car. However there are buses from Mall of the Emirates that take you there.

You could just take a brief walk around, enjoying the view or you could spend the whole day there. Sitting and relaxing on the swinging chairs, peacock benches or bean bags with a bit of ice cream from the vendors to enjoy while people watching. There's a good variety of food there, don't think you'll get away with bringing in your own. Be careful not to step on the grass or flowers though, or one of the many guards will start whistling at you to move!

The Miracle gardens are shut during summer as the temperature easily reaches over 50C making it impossible to both maintain the garden and be outdoors for more than 2 seconds without breaking into sweat. As I suspect the plants die each year, there tends to be slightly different displays each year too.

As the sun set and it became a bit cooler, we made our way towards the Butterfly Garden.

The Dubai Butterfly Garden was a short 5 minute walk from the Miracle Gardens, depending on which of the 3 exits you take.  Each time my family has visited, the price has been higher and higher. During this trip, it cost 50 AED per person.

The Butterfly garden is said to be the largest indoor butterfly garden and it homes 15,000 butterflies from 26 different species. It is essentially 3 large domes all connected to each other along with the entrance, forming a ring.

It's surprising how...unpleasant it first was to have giant insects flying past you. There were even a few kids who were in tears as they were too creeped out by them. It took a while for me to get used to as they were everywhere! Most butterflies weren't of the colourful variety. The most disappointing thing to me was that there was nothing unique between each dome, making it feel repetitive. It may as well have just been one large tunnel.

Similar to the Miracle Garden, how little or long you spend in there, depends on you. You could easily walk through the whole thing in 5/10 minutes, or you could sit down in the little net huts waiting for a butterfly or two to land on you.

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February 07, 2016

Lush Sex Bomb Bath Bomb

While I did pick up quite a few Lush bath bombs at the Oxford Street store, Sex Bomb never caught my eye. This was actually a small treat from family that I enjoyed when visiting home.

When you sniff the bath bomb, the scent is very subtle compared to most others. Only once it's immersed in water does the scent hit you, with hints of jasmine, ylang ylang, clary sage. According to the lovely Lush Ladies, Sex Bomb is meant to get you 'in the mood' but I can't attest to that.

As the bath bomb dissolves, it forms a cloud of pink that slowly spreads around the tub. It's a good one to try out if you're not keen on glitter. Unlike Ylang Song which had real petals surprise you and stayed in the tub, Sex Bomb unleashes an odd oily fake pink flower whose petals separate around the bath. I wish they eventually dissolved into the rest of the water as I really didn't like them and felt it cheapened the experience. I would have preferred real petals and ended up using some for bath time. 

Out of all bath bombs, this is the only bath bomb I've used whose scent lingered on my skin for so long.

Sex Bomb is available at all Lush Stores for £3.50 each.
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January 31, 2016

Urban Decay Spectrum Palette

For Christmas, I admit to strongly hinting to my partner what I wanted. Urban Decay's limited edition spectrum palette. With the Gwen Stefani collection, it seems to have gone under the radar. The fear of missing out on this palette was way too strong. The palette consists of 15 shadows laid out in rows of 3 analogous eyeshadows, forming a ombre of greens, blues, purples, pinks and neutrals.

The palette contains 5 new shadows, 4 popular shades from the current collection and 6 returning shadows from past palettes:

Protest golden forest green shimmer
Junkie teal green shimmer 
Deep End bright teal shimmer

Madness bright metallic blue shimmer with blue micro glitter
Evidence deep navy blue shimmer
Prank deep navy matte with turquoise floating pearl

Omen bright metallic purple with blue shift
Flashback bright deep purple with pink sparkle
Voodoo metallic purple shimmer with iridescent purple micro-glitter

Flatline metallic pale pink
Bordello pale mauve shimmer with gold micro-glitter
Backlash bright pink with orange floatng pearl

Daybreak soft bronze with silver glitter
Burn medium golden brown shimmer
West deep metallic brown shimmer

The packaging of the spectrum palette is very similar to their 15th anniversary palette which was released back in 2011. Lifting the lid of the box reveals the palette which are on a detachable tray. I will definitely be reusing the box for personal trinkets or maybe even to use as a customisable palette. There's also a big square mirror underneath the lid. The sides of the lid let's you stand the mirror while you do your makeup. A simple but extremely useful idea! 

So how do the eyeshadows actually perform? All the shadows have some sparkle or shimmer in the pan. None of them are matte, making them very pigmented. A little goes a long way and there's minimal building needed with most of the shadows in this palette. The downside of all shimmery shadows is that you'd definitely need a complementary matte palette to work with these. The main shadows I had issues with had chunky glitter in them and had fallout problems (curse you Voodoo & Bordello). The only other qualm I have is with Backlash, for not being as insanely bright on the lids as it is in the pan. Otherwise, Deep End is a mermaid dream come true, the turquoise, blues and purples are great for those who enjoy playing with colour.

Ultimately, while I do love these eyeshadows, I admit I own so many similar shadows. None of these colours seem to have anything truly unique to them. I wouldn't describe this as an 'unmissable' palette. Although, it definitely makes for a beautiful gift.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the Spectrum palette is sold out on the Urban Decay UK site. It was selling for £35. However, it seems as though Urban Decay may be bringing them back as they have began stocking them exclusively in Sephora US. Fingers crossed they'll be available in store here for those who missed out over the Christmas period.
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January 24, 2016

Lancôme Grandiôse Mascara

A few months ago, I was spoilt by a care package. In this box, there were plenty of mascaras thrown it to last me the next few years. Most were samples and very generic looking. There was however, one that stood out, Lancome's Grandiose mascara.

It's easy to see why Grandiose piqued my curiosity, it's the quirkiest piece of makeup I own. The black rose encased in glass instantly makes me think of the enchanted flower from Beauty and the Beast. Combine the femininity and nostalgia of the flower with the simple choice of colour and you get an aesthetic that is sure to appeal to the masses of any generation.

Even when unscrewing the cap, I was intrigued by the swan shaped wand that greeted me. The patented wand looked like it'd be difficult to use but it actually curves in an angle that makes applying the mascara from root to tip easier.

While applying the mascara is easy, I find it's not that effective. It adds some black to the lashes and lengthens them a little with 1/2 layers. However, when I try to layer the mascara more than that, I find it has a tendency to clump lashes. So unless you already have naturally thick and long lashes, or if you just want a thin coating on, you may want to avoid shelling out £24.50 for it. Especially considering how mascaras tend to only have a shelf life of 6 months anyway.

On the plus side, as you're forced to avoid layering, it makes it one of the easier mascaras to remove at the end of the day.
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January 12, 2016

7 Highlights From 2015

I'm rather late to the 'let's reflect on the past year now that it's 2016' party. As I was away during New Years with family, there wasn't that much reflecting going on. 2015 was a great year for me, especially after 2 years of financial uncertainty, stability has been a huge relief. So here is an admittedly filtered list of 7 highlights from 2015...that I'm actually ok with sharing on the internet.

1. I bit the bullet and dyed my hair an unprofessional hair colour.
It's probably a bit sad that dyeing my hair is kind of a big deal. However, as someone who's never done anything to their hair ever...not even added bangs, it was kind of terrifying. Coming from a conservative family, bleach was the devil and would fry all your hair off. Also good hair determines how marriageable a female is. Having bleached the hell out of my hair, I've managed to escape that mentality. What's the big deal? It's hair, worst case scenario, it'll grow back...probably. 

2. I passed my makeup exams and although I've yet to hand in my coursework...

3. I've gotten over my fear of applying makeup on other people.
I've been asked several times by several people to do their makeup for them for important events. I've always said no. Just because I kind of know what I'm doing to my own face (and even then, half the time I'm winging it) doesn't mean I'll do anywhere near a decent job working on your face. After passing my makeup exam, I'm 100x more confident with my skills.

4. My temporary positionat work during the evenings turned into a 2 year contract on days
AKA normal civilised human working hours. Not working evenings has also meant I've been able to marginally save what little social life I have left after years of forever being at work for any social gathering. This financial security has also meant that...

5. I got to travel to a country I've never visited before & fell in love with it while

6. Getting a taste of solo travel.
While I travelled a lot in 2015, most places were cities or countries I had previously visited. Germany was new territory and I'm surprised by how much I loved it. I really want to go back on a train tour around the country. While I visited a friend in Dresden, I explored Berlin by myself. The experience was terrifying but liberating. Being in a rather codependent relationship too, I felt like I had regained some independence by going solo.

7. Last but not least, I was privileged enough to meet a woman who inspires me, Alex Box.
Admittedly, it was only for a very brief moment in time. After attending a talk we all got the opportunity to get a photo with the speakers. I left the talk thinking she wasn't anything like I expected her to be. Super down to earth and just...cool in every single way imaginable.  
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January 10, 2016

Black Friday, Christmas & Dubai Haul

As we enter the new year, I've made the same promise to myself that every makeup addict makes. Spend less money on makeup. It's embarrassing to admit how difficult it's been and we've only barely passed the first week of 2016. So instead of obsessing over what I want to buy, I'm appreciating what I already own by sharing my recent purchases.

Black Friday Weekend 
I had good intentions during Black Friday weekend and planned to not partake. A Selfridges e-mail with a discount code totally wrecked that for me. I decided to not go crazy and only picked up 2 beauty items. Illamasqua's skin base foundation, which I had run out of, and their contour kit for the makeup kit.

Then I made the mistake of reading Jayne's piece on alternative/indie companies with black friday offers on. I had one look at the Glitterbomb jewellery website and bought a few necklaces for myself. The sailor moon necklaces and the mad hatter are easily the most unique and quirky bits of jewellery in my little collection.

Coming from a family that doesn't celebrate Christmas, I don't receive many gifts. Usually, it's just one, from my partner. Our gifts usually aren't a surprise and we're very upfront about what we would like. We ask what's something frivolous you want to buy but haven't treated yourself to? For me it was Urban Decay's limited edition spectrum eyeshadow palette this year, which I didn't even think would land on UK shores at all. This palette is almost too beautiful to use but I've been lusting after Deep End (turquoise) for a lifetime and a half. So it will be very loved. 

During my Christmas and New Year break I flew home to see family. After hearing that Kat Von D had launched in Sephora Middle East, I obviously had to stop by and pick up a few more liquid lipsticks. I picked up 3, the ever so raved about Lolita, Lovesick & Mother. Technically, I picked these up before the new year, so I can say I've been a good girl this year. I won't lie, the only reason I managed to stop myself from picking up more was because they didn't have certain shades in stock.
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January 03, 2016

Lush Intergalactic Bath Bomb

Out of all of Lush's bath bomb range, Intergalactic seems to be the most talked about among beauty bloggers. After visiting the Oxford Street store, this blue bath bomb with bits of white, pink and yellow piqued my curiosity.

The moment you place the bath bomb into the water, the blue disperses across the water. While most of it is blue, you get small swirls of white, pink and yellow as it carries on fizzing. After all the foam disappears, you're left with blue water with flecks of gold everywhere. Intergalactic felt like it took a little longer than some of the other bath bombs I've used. 

Intergalactic includes cedarwood and vetivert oil, along with a strong dose of peppermint. Leaving the tub, I found myself smelling minty and covered in glitter. Even after drying myself down, I was surprised to find the insides of my clothing covered in gold glitter.

While I did enjoy Intergalactic and all it's glitter glory, I don't think I'd repurchase. I felt underwhelmed with the overall colour and experience. The light streaks of colour was disappointing. I had hoped for more rainbow goodness from it and personally it didn't deliver.

You can purchase Intergalactic for £3.95 from any Lush store.
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