Sunday, August 28, 2016

Queen of the fancy Indian places

I've been eating out a lot recently, it's literally one of my favourite things to do.  And I like all the fancy places.  And Dubai has an abundance of them.

I've been to three of the best (and without doubt fanciest) Indian restaurants over the past few weeks in Dubai and thought I would whip up a post comparing the three I have been to.  I'd love to do some more food related/lifestyle posts on my blog which might be useful for residents and for visitors.

I love Indian food but can't tolerate very spicy food but nearly all the restaurants were super accommodating to my tastes. 


If you want to wow with the service and location, Amal at Armani is the one.  The interior is understated and lofty and showcases the kitchen and the creative chefs working behind a floor to ceiling glass wall.  The restaurant has a private terrace overlooking the Dubai fountains and sits within the Burj Khalifa.  It's such a beautiful place to have dinner.  The atmosphere is calm and sophisticated-this is not the place for a rowdy group dinner and the service was next level.  I couldn't reach across the table to pick up the dahl without our dedicated waiter beating me to it.  Yet it was never intrusive and Livin Joy (best name ever) was discreet, informative and helpful.  The restaurant manager even chatted to us and told me the exact last time I had been in the restaurant which definitely made me feel like a valued guest.  Interestingly enough, Livin Joy is the only waiters name I remembered from all 3 restaurants which shows what an impression his service had on me-and Dubai is a place where service levels in hotels like this is very high and you get used to it very quickly making it hard to stand out.

We chose the vegetarian tasting menu which worked out to be incredible value at AED300 per person and allowed us to try a bit of everything.  The 4 mini starters were sublime, especially the Paneer with the beetroot dressing.  The main dishes were plentiful for a tasting menu and served sharing style in little Thali dishes.  My all time favourite Indian dish is Paneer Makhni and although not on the menu, the chef made me one as a replacement for one of the more spicy dishes.  The food was relatively classic Indian fare with dahl, fresh roti, saffron rice and raita all served and everything was delicious and totally tailored to my taste.

Desserts were also traditional, with mini Rasmali and Gulam Jamun served and I went off menu and ordered their signature Chocolate Sphere because I had had it before and knew it was incredible.

Tea and coffee and petit fours are also included.

*Tip-for AED95 you can have unlimited soft drinks/mocktails-this is an incredible deal and one that we took full advantage of, especially as mocktails were around the AED45 mark each.   This wasn't advertised and Livin Joy told us about the package.

We were one of the first to arrive and the last to leave, we met the head chef and viewed several of the fountain shows during the night.  There was absolutely nothing negative I could say about this restaurant and it's firmly one of my favourites in Dubai.  Considering this is Armani, the value for money was amazing.  The total bill was AED880 for two vegetarian tasting menus, two soft drinks packages and my additional dessert.

I've also eaten twice at Hashi the Japanese restaurant on the ground floor at Armani-this is another exceptional restaurant with both amazing food and service.


Indego by Vineet has a brilliant reputation in Dubai and is so beautiful inside-it's warm and inviting and has a family feel to it and the staff have the confidence of people who know the food is great.  This was the only restaurant that I hadn't eaten at previously.  The restaurant manager was very friendly and as the restaurant was relatively quiet being midweek, spent time chatting to us about the background of the restaurant and the celebrity chef behind it.  This restaurant is perfect for family gatherings, date nights and business dinners alike.

Although they have a tasting menu we decided to order a la carte.  The tasting menu is a similar price to that of Amal.  We were treated to an amuse bouche first which is the bright yellow and pink dish below-it was a frozen beetroot coulis with yoghurt and passion fruit and it was absolutely beautiful-don't expect to get this if you go though-they change the amuse bouche every single day.

The starters here were absolutely incredible-I highly recommend the Tawa Tinkey dish which was Paneer and Roti pinwheels, Zucchini patties and tomato raita-I could have happily eaten it all over again.  I could eat it now!  The starters were creative but the main courses were more traditional-again we went for a Paneer dish, Dahl and a traditional vegetable Biryani enriched with dried fruits and paneer-all were delicious, particularly the Biryani.

We shared a Chocolicious Indego dessert which is their signature sampler dessert but it was heavy and a little too rich after what we had already eaten.  The 'chocomosa' or chocolate samosa and the chocolate buttons were delicious though.

The bill came to AED830 including soft drinks which I was pleasantly surprised about especially considering the quality of the food.  Again the staff were very happy to accommodate my non spicy palette and often checked that the food was to my liking.  This is definitely the place to go if you want a good quality Indian dinner in the Marina area and somewhere that is unlikely to ever disappoint.


Tresind is by far one of the most inventive and contemporary restaurants I have ever been to, but it has a price tag to match.  Having said that we ordered a lot of food because we wanted to try a bit of everything and experience the theatre behind the food.  I've been to lots of innovative restaurants before where they use techniques like molecular gastronomy but I've never been to anywhere else like this in Dubai-it's unique.

The dinner starts with a smoke filled urn being placed on the table to 'refresh your senses' and then with a complimentary deconstructed Pani Puri served as a shot.  The chef makes the dish at the table, talking you through each step and using molecular gastronomy to create each component.  There's a lot of liquid nitrogen and pizzazz about the cooking methods used and you pay as much for the skill and the show as you do the food.  It's a great place for groups and celebrations as long as everyone has the budget for it.  But it's certainly a 'wow' restaurant.  They do have a tasting menu but again we decided to go a la carte.  This was the restaurant I found to be least accommodating in terms of both recommending the non spicy dishes to me and also adapting the food to suit.  I found the waiter and the menu to be confusing and difficult to understand and in the end we just made our own choices.  One dish we were assured was not spicy was incredibly spicy.

There's a lot of small complimentary dishes given-small bread rolls, refreshing sorbets (two were served to us during the course of the meal-one sweet, one savory)  and the dinner closes with the presentation of Pan flavoured candy floss entwined into flowers and twigs set in an open top bus.  Sounds bizarre I know.  It used to be presented as a tree with candy floss hanging off it which was nicer.

One of the highlights for me is the Modernist Chaat Trolley which is prepared by a chef in front of you and is zingy and flavourful.  It again uses liquid nitrogen to freeze components of the dish and it's light and refreshing.  The trolley is designed to be shared and the more people, the bigger the dish.

Another highlight was the Paneer dish above, unfortunately I cannot find the Tresind menu online and can't recall the name of it and whether it was a starter or main (as I said the menu is extensive and confusing) but it was delicious.  We also loved the mock meat khurchan which was served in little thali dishes with pickles on the side with mini roti's pegged along a 'clothes line' for you to make your own mini wrap.   This also comes in a duck version for meat eaters which is one of their signature dishes.

I don't have pictures of the mains but there was a Paneer dish in gravy that was way too spicy for me, indian breads, dahl and an amazing take on a quiche with mushroom and goats cheese-not very indian but very moreish.

We went for another liquid nitrogen spectacular for dessert-the deconstructed black forest cake-chunks of chocolate sponge, caramel, cherries, redcurrants, frozen cream and an amazing amazing homemade fudge (apparently called Peda) which I literally picked out every square of.  Definitely a sharing dessert.

(photo credit who also has a brilliant review here (and much better photos than me but I wanted to explain the candy floss bus!)

Even the drinks are full of drama-my first one arrived in a treasure chest that was filled with liquid smoke and LED lights.

Tresind is probably the most innovative restaurant in Dubai that I have been to-and maybe because of that, it was the one that was the least accommodating of my palette.  I imagine a lot of the food is prepared to some extent to accommodate the overall presentation.  The food however is wonderfully innovative and you find yourself wondering what's next and how the next dish will look.  But it's also by far the most expensive place I ate-the bill was AED1770 which included soft drinks.  Worth it?  For a one time experience yes.  In future though I'll be sticking to their business lunch.

*Tip-the business lunch offered Sun-Thurs is amazing value at AED180 and a great way to sample some of the dishes.  Also, if you're feeling really spendy, try a Lava Lamp mocktail-it's a show in itself!

Please let me know if you'd like to see more posts like this on my blog-I'd love to hear your feedback!

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Friday, August 26, 2016

My BFF's top 10 beauty picks

Meet Danielle...she's my BFF and has been for 11 years even though we now live 3500 miles apart.

We've had so many great times and been on holiday together to Vegas, Cyprus and Cornwall and spent lots of time together between London and Dubai.  And slowly slowly I have converted her into almost as big a beauty junkie as I am.

When I was recently in London I asked her to select her top 10 beauty products of the moment so I could share them in this post.

In no particular order here are her 10 top current fave beauty picks.

Benefit Hoola bronzer

Benefit Hoola Bronzer

Hoola is Dani's bronzer of choice because she says it makes her brown rather than orange and she loves the matte finish on the skin.  This is her first box of this cult bronzer but knowing Dani, if she likes it, she'll have already bought three back ups!

Becca Tigerlily

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Luminous Blush in Tigerlily

A new purchase and something Dani describes as a 'summer-ish' blusher, she says she likes the shimmery finish and that this bright orange shade goes well with Champagne Pop.  She says she is very light handed with this (I know from personal experience they are very pigmented) and just dabs it lightly on the apples of her cheeks.

Becca champagne pop

Becca v Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop

Danielle says she loves this creamy powder highlight when she is going for a sunkissed look and loves the glow it gives.  She uses it sparingly and loves the texture because it's not chalky or glittery.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Magic

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Magic Rejuvenating Balm

Danielle is extremely precious about her lip balms.  In fact she detests people using her lip balms so much that she actually sticks her lips straight into the pot so no one else will use it-haha she is going to kill me for telling you that!  Danielle always has lip balm on her-I've seen her use everything from the tins of vaseline to Creme De La Mer but she declared this one from Charlotte Tilbury to be her fave ever!  I take full responsibility for introducing Dani to Charlotte Tilbury and getting her hooked!  She loves the fact this lip balm is non sticky, really hydrating and I wrote in my notes that she said it smelt good.  When I asked her to elaborate....

I've actually posted a full review about this lip balm and the lip scrub-read my thoughts here.
Fun fact about both Dani and I-we both suffer from Anosmia-or in other words neither of us are able to smell much at all.

Kylie lip kit in Posie K

Kylie Lip Kit in Posie K

A bit of a surprise entry here because Dani barely every wears lipstick.  Lip balm constantly but never lipstick-lip gloss is usually as good as it gets and that's on a special occasion.  But she is obsessed with this Lip Kit and even though this isn't a shade she would normally wear (she is all about the sheer peaches usually) she says she likes to use the liner to slightly overdraw her lip line and fill in her entire lip before going over with the liquid lipstick.  She admits it does dry down a little tacky and that it is drying but she also says it's really long lasting and fuss free.

Becca lip primer

BECCA Lip Priming Perfector

This is something I had never even heard of but Danielle says this lip primer really helps to perfect the tone and texture of her lips whilst also softening them.  She says she uses it in conjunction with the Charlotte Tilbury lip balm for the perfect pout.

charlotte tilbury legendary lashes

Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes

Dani says she is really enjoying this newly launched mascara.  She loves the fact it is very black and gives her lashes a wet look, whilst elongating and defining.  She likes the fact it's easy to build up and it dries quickly but she did tell me that it's not waterproof and it can smudge-this is a complaint I have heard a lot about this mascara.

Kevyn Aucoin super soft buff brush

Kevyn Aucoin Super Soft Buff Powder

This is a pricey brush at £48 but Dani says it's a great multitasker and she likes the soft 'stubby' bristles.  Dani uses it for her bronzer or highlight and loves the fact it's so easy to control how much product gets deposited on her skin.

Kevyn Aucoin Soft Clay

Kevyn Aucoin Eye Shadow Single Matte in Soft Clay

Once a die hard Stila 'Kitten' eyeshadow wearer (we both were, when Stila was removed from the UK a few years ago we used to source the single pans from the States) Dani now prefers something more subtle  and wears this matte neutral shadow every single week day-so much so this is her third pan.    She likes the fact it 'looks like nothing' because she prefers the 'no make up make up' look for work.  She loves the texture as it's very light and this shadow really evens out any discoloration on her eyelid without looking made up.

Kardashian Beauty dry conditioner

Kardashian Beauty Dry Conditioner

Dani's final current fave is something she has also got me hooked on after giving me some to bring home to Dubai.  Dani says she much prefers this to dry shampoo because it doesn't give her the dry, stiff and brittle feel you get from a dry shampoo and this dry conditioner actually makes your hair feel really soft (as well as smelling great).  It doesn't have the oil control properties of a dry shampoo but this something you would mist onto mid lengths and ends to condition and add shine.

So there are Danielle's current top 10 beauty picks-I like to think I have trained her well.  I love the fact she whatsapps me whatever she buys or is finding she loves and yet still messages me randomly saying 'what do I use this for'?

Have you used any of Dani's faves?  I'd love to know if you and your BFF bond over a love of all things beauty related?

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Lip Six is back!

lipstick swatches

Update-I'm such an idiot!  I realised today I posted this lip six back in July but hadn't deleted the pictures off my 'still to blog about folder'.


Fun fact!  Even though I haven't written a blog post in like 4 weeks I still photograph my lips every morning!

So I now have a backlog of lipstick swatches so I thought a lip six post would be an easy way to break back into beauty blogging-they're so easy to do and take me literally 5 minutes #LazyBlogging

Here are my (probably 4 weeks ago) last six lip picks!

Top row (L) Marc Jacobs Love Marc matte lip gel in 136 Shout (R) NARS Audacious lipstick in Fanny (review!)

Middle row (L) YSL Rouge Volupte Shine in 13 Pink in Paris (R) Clinique Plum Pop lipstick (review!)

Bottom row (L) Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G lipstick in Velvet Underground (review!) (R) MAC matte lipstick in Pink Plaid

Don't forget you can see my daily lip pick on snapchat >> username Stadybelle

Which is your favourite?

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Life updates, how it feels to go through early menopause and the future

Whilst I understand this is not the usual make up review post you might be here for, and that my story is probably highly irrelevant to most of you reading, I've been AWOL for a little while and I wanted to explain why.  I am currently going through early menopause and it has been such a nightmare that I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings about what has happened to me in the hope that someone, feeling the same worry and stresses I have felt in the last few weeks might one day find this post and feel they're not alone.

OK so back story (I apologise if you've been following me a long time and know all this already).

Two years ago I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and my treatment was major surgery-removing my cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes, plus part of my vagina and lots of lymph nodes.  For ethical reasons, and because the cancer was not present in either ovary, my surgeon preserved them and pinned them to my abdominal wall to keep them out of harms way from chemo and radiotherapy.  I recovered well and went into remission but there were a lot of continuous side effects that I have never really spoken about.  Firstly, for the last two years I have been in pain almost daily from lympocheles which is a collection of lymphatic fluid that gathers and forms a large cyst-however the pain was mostly very manageable and I was monitored regularly.  My last CT scan was in February this year and showed the lymphocele present but shrinking.  Secondly, my complexion became horrendous-blemish after blemish, nothing helped and I suffered from very sore, cystic spots constantly.  I saw several doctors but nothing helped.  Finally, my ovaries became polycystic and one of the main side effects I had was growth of hair on my face-I had not had this before and it was such a confidence destroyer.  However, there was an easy fix and I started to shave my face twice a week (using eyebrow razors) and this kept the problem at bay. 

About 12 weeks ago I started suffering with horrendous abdominal pain-it started during a meeting with my boss Raj and he was so concerned that he wanted me to go to the doctors immediately.  I refused; I had had similar pains before and knew in a few hours they would dissipate.  But they didn't and the next day I was worse-my assistant Chloe and Raj forced me to take an emergency doctors appointment and I was seen by another gynecologist at my usual hospital.  She did a scan immediately and saw two new masses around my ovary that were not present on my scan in February.  She actually took a picture of the scan on the monitor using her mobile phone and went to see another doctor immediately.  I was given pain relief and asked to come back for another scan in the morning with a radiologist.

The third day I was in agony.  I don't know how I got to work as I could barely walk.  I went for my appointment at 10am and I cried the whole way through, begging the doctor (who I knew quite well) to tell me what was wrong and to help me.  I couldn't talk to my mum and dad as they were on a cruise but I feared something was really wrong.  The doctor told me he would write his report and send it to my surgeon Dr Rajesh but within 10 minutes of leaving the hospital, Dr Rajesh was on the phone to me, telling me he had arranged an emergency MRI scan which I had two days later.  To cut a long story short, I needed surgery and on the 23rd May I had another major operation to remove the two new masses and unfortunately Dr Rajesh also had to remove my right ovary.  Even though I knew I couldn't have children following my first diagnosis and surgery, it felt like that was just reiterated 1000 times again.  My mum flew out to help me and after 2 days in hospital I was allowed home to recover.  And I felt fine, I didn't feel emotional and I recovered much quicker than my first operation.  I couldn't have done it without my mum and she made the process of getting better so much easier.  Four weeks later I was well enough to return to work.

I only had to work 8 days before I had a weeks holiday booked in the UK for my friends wedding but I was so so worried about flying home.  I was worried about the long flight and just 'being' in the UK.  I hadn't been for six months and in that time I had split up with my fiance of 13 years and had major surgery.  About 3 days before I flew I started to get these weird weird feelings-it would start at the bottom of my back and feel like a wave rising up my back into my head-I would feel extremely hot (but not sweat) and I would have a weird 'sicky' feeling at the back of my throat-it also felt a bit like I was claustrophobic.  It would only last a minute or so and then go.  I thought maybe it was anxiety about my trip.  And then they started coming more and more.  I also felt very unsettled and teary.

I went to the UK, had a good time but the second I got on the flight I was uncontrollably crying.  I couldn't even say why or control myself.  Ever since my first operation I have been quite emotional, especially at work and feel like now I am known as the girl that cries!  When I got home to my apartment in Dubai I was still crying and just couldn't stop.  Driving to pick my cats up, tears streaming down my face I thought 'how can I get through work tomorrow like this'? and I called my doctor for an emergency appointment.  I walked into her room and burst into tears again.  I felt utterly utterly out of control.  I felt like my body was controlling me rather than me controlling it.  This anxious crying person was not me.  There was no discernible reason why I would feel like that.  My doctor referred me back to the gynecologist who saw me the same afternoon and they ran a blood test to test my FSH level.  Anything under 21 is 'normal', mine was 79.9.  I was going through the menopause.  My doctor told me my body thought it had been hit by an earthquake.  I'm 36 years old.  I shouldn't go through the menopause for another 15 years. 

Part of me felt relieved to be able to put a label on this feeling.  I knew I wasn't right, even in London I had been completely disinterested in shopping and just wanted to hide out at Danielles and anyone who knows me knows that I am a total shopaholic.  I found Selfridges chaotic and overwhelming-I know it is crazy busy in there but that kind of thing does not bother the normal me.  I feel like even now, I am still a bit disinterested, maybe disengaged is a better word and feel like I am a difficult friend at the moment.  I've not been great at keeping in touch and I am sure my friends are confused at my inability to engage in conversation yet at the same time be present on, for example snapchat. My blog was of no interest to me and my tolerance levels of most people were very low.  And I was so paranoid, going over and over in my head any comment that felt negative or any situation where I felt I didn't know where I stood.  In short, I felt more lost than ever before.

Immediately I was put onto HRT tablets but initially told just to take the estrogen ones and to  disregard the combined estrogen/progesterone tablets you normal take for half of the month.  I was told because I have no cervix that the primary purpose of taking the progesterone is to protect the cervix against endometrial cancer and so therefore I didn't need it.  A second doctor then told me I should take progesterone because it has other benefits to me and the 'no cervix, no progesterone' line of thinking is old fashioned.  I was also warned there are big risks taking HRT-breast cancer and cardiovascular disease being the main two and I now have to have a breast scan every 3 months.  But if I don't take it I have been told I will have osteoporosis in my 40's.

The medication issue has been extremely confusing and is ongoing-both doctors would prefer for me to take a transdermal estrogen (usually a patch) because then the body doesn't use the liver to metabolise it which is better for me-but it's not available in Dubai.  I've engaged BUPA for a second opinion on the medication and am waiting for their final report but my case worker, a GP from the UK is utterly lovely and keeps checking up on me given I spent an hour on the phone to her in tears during our first consultation a few weeks ago.  She has also suggested to me there may be an element of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to my condition given what I have been through the past two years.  Sometimes, part of me sees signs there may be but honestly mostly I just think it's part of life.   And I am huge believer now in everything happening for a reason.  When you live for a long time with someone who is mentally ill as I did, freedom from that is an unbelievably precious gift.  That relationship had ground me down to a point where I was just surviving, whatever public perception I portrayed.  You never know what goes on behind closed doors as the saying goes.  Now I actually feel like I am living. 

But the HRT medication took a while to kick in-I cried at work during my last monthly 1:1 with Raj for absolutely no reason just after I started taking them-it had been a great month and I think Raj was startled when I started to cry. I tried to explain, through gritted teeth, embarrassment and sheer frustration that this wasn't me-that it was my hormones and I just couldn't control it.  Don't get me wrong, at the time it felt like this situation was never going to end but now, a few weeks later I am feeling 'normal' again.  The tablets have stopped the mood swings and hot flushes.  I feel more sociable even if I feel vulnerable.

I found this article written by a girl the same age as me about her experience of early menopause and so much of it resonated with me.   She talks about feeling like she didn't want to be noticed and how she felt isolated from her 'normal' friends who were all settling down, getting married and having babies in their 30's.  I don't resent any of my friends happiness at all, I just can't identify with it anymore.  I have no interest in relationships or dating and I do feel insufficient.  Maybe that will change in time but who knows?

I guess I am a work in progress at the moment-I am hoping to get my medication sorted soon and I am glad I sought help early on.  I don't feel any longer that my body is controlling me and that's a huge relief.

What's next?  I don't really know.  This year so far has been a big year of change.  Since splitting up with Mike I have more or less redesigned the whole apartment.  I've just bought a new car, I felt like I needed to cut all ties and associations to him especially given the way we broke up (a long, complicated and traumatic story.)  I needed a fresh start.  I needed to feel free.  And I think these changes are making me feel better.  I've lost some weight but want to lose a ton more.  I've joined a gym.  I'm still happy in Dubai and in my job and I'm good at it-I'm probably due a change but equally I'm a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to moving outside my comfort zone.  Blogging hasn't been of interest, neither has make up shopping even though I still 100% love make up.  Sometimes I feel blogging has had it's day-I watch far more youtube videos than read blog posts.  If I don't read as many blog posts how can I expect someone to read mine?  I wonder how relevant I am in a sea of glossy, beautiful bloggers with innovative content.  It's not a world I fit into.  But yet a lot of my good friends come from blogging and I don't really want to let it go completely.

Despite all this, there are moments when I do actually quite like myself, feel proud of being a single and independent woman standing on my own two feet 3500 miles from home.  I only had surgery 12 weeks ago and yet I am back at work, feeling pain free and I've done six flights already since the operation and did my 7th today.  I've made difficult decisions this year and fully faced up to the consequences and nothing has fazed me.  I felt like I had taken everything in my stride but when the menopause hit I suddenly felt like everything was crumbling around me.  Yet  I know there are things I do easily that other people maybe don't find so easy-I march through airports confidently, get on more flights per year than some people take in a lifetime and I'm a very confident driver in a city notorious for being intimidating to drive in.  There were several times when the menopause hit and my hormones were spiralling out of control without me knowing, where I told myself 'you're a bloody cancer survivor Stacey, what the fuck is wrong with you' in an attempt to 'motivate' myself out of the state of mind I was in

So bear with me whilst I find my feet.  I'm writing up and scheduling posts today so maybe it's about getting into a routine again.  I'm a terrible terrible overthinker/ overanalyser and however much I try to remind myself not to, it's a huge weakness of mine.  Maybe blogging will allow me to channel the energy I waste over thinking every situation into something more positive.

I know this post has been super long and rambly and if I still have your attention then thank you.  I've always been massively grateful for the love and support I receive through this blog even when I am undeserving of it xx

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Recent empties

When I say recent, these are actually my May empties.  What can I say, I've been busy.

There's some really good stuff in here though so lets crack on.

Omorovicza Cleansing Foam

Not my fave-talked about it a lot more here, but I found this quite basic for the price and I wouldn't repurchase.  It definitely sits in the 'morning' cleanse category for me and although it was nice, nice doesn't justify the price v results.

Niod Photography Fluid

Still my all time fave primer, I adore this stuff and have converted as many people as I possibly can onto it!  Already repurchased (plus a back up), I have written a full review on this magical primer/instagram filter for face here.

Niod Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex*

If you have dry skin this stuff is an absolute godsend.  The first time I used this 'as light as water' serum, my skin was suffering from the extremely drying effects of some medication I had been prescribed by my doctor.  My foundation wouldn't sit on my skin without peeling and flaking and it was just gross.  One application of this serum overnight sorted the problem totally out.  I genuinely couldn't believe the effect it had.  When I used this I genuinely didn't need to use a moisturisor before applying make up.  I've written a full review here
*PR sample

Kiehls Creme De Corps

One of my all time fave body moisturisers,  It's a cult classic and I love everything about it.  The yellow lotion absorbs almost immediately and it doesn't irritate my skin (a lot of body moisturisers make my skin break out in a rash, especially on my legs).  It's also super soothing and cooling when you apply it.  I adore it!

Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder

I go through stages of hating this and then loving it.  My hair is very fine and gets greasy very easily and every single day I either use a dry shampoo or texturising spray.  This is one of those sprays that really does make your hair feel a bit matted though so if you don't like that slightly stiff, matte texture to your hair, don't buy this.  I would also not recommend this for very thick hair.  The powder also contains colour so you definitely need to wash your hands after you apply it.  I probably wouldn't repurchase-I prefer the Charles Worthington texturising spray or just good old Batiste.

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

Technically only sample size but I really loved this wash off cream cleanser.  It's very basic and reminds me of the Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser and it is great for sensitive and acne prone skins.  I usually cleanse with an oil or balm and then once I have rinsed that off go straight in with this onto wet skin for a thorough cleanse.  Good stuff.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Brush On Glow BB highlighter

This is one of those 'YSL Touche Eclat' pen style concealer/highlighters and I would rate it as just ok.  I used it all but I wouldn't repurchase, I prefer these days to use a corrector and then concealer rather than a concealer and then a highlighter.  One good thing about this range is it comes in a wide range of shades and it's very similar to the Touche Eclat in formula.

Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash

I'm so picky about mascaras and this one is really good!  It really separates, lengthens and volumises, doesn't flake or smudge and is really black.

NARS Sheer Glow foundation

I had a real love/hate relationship with this throughout the time I used it.   Firstly I hate that it doesn't come with a pump and I have to buy one separately.  Double Wear is the same and it just drives me nuts.  I've used this before and remember really loving it but this time, initially I felt like it wasn't giving enough coverage.  So I started using it as a light base and then buffing in the Make Up Forever HD foundation (the stick version) over the top and I liked it much more.  Then one day I forgot to add the extra layer and I really liked the way this foundation wore throughout the day-it just seemed to look better the more my natural oils mixed with it.  It works really well with the Nivea aftershave balm as a primer under it but you won't get more than medium coverage.

Belif The Truth Cream

Included this little sample pot because I really loved this light, gel based moisturiser.  It was super hydrating without leaving me as an oil slick and make up sat really nicely over it.  I don't know if you can buy this in the UK-mine came from Sephora in the US.  Similar in texture to the Dr Dennis Gross in that it's gel based rather than cream based but I actually preferred the Belif-I felt like it never broke me out whereas I was never sure with the Dr Dennis Gross.

MAC Omega eyeshadow

My Holy grail powder for eyebrows-have repurchased over and over and I prefer it over anything else I own for brows!  Also works well as a contour for pale skin and a matte transition shade-a total all rounder.  If they ever discontinue it, there'll be trouble!

Nuxe Huile Prodiguise

I've had this little sample pot of the cult Nuxe oil for ages and I am sure I have used it before and not been overly wowed.  But for some reason I tried it recently and I was absolutely wowed-I just loved how soft my skin was after using it and how it absorbed so easily-I was literally slathering it on.  I've since been and bought the full size one and I just love it so much-also adore the packaging and the size I have has a spray pump so it is totally hassle free to use.

Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion

I have tried really hard to like Dr Dennis Gross products but nothing has really impressed me.  I gave away the Ferulic and Retinol serum because it wasn't doing anything for me, the Alpha Beta peel pads seem really harsh on my skin and this moisturiser was just ok-as I said above I was never 100% sure this wasn't breaking me out.

The formula contains Hyaluronic Acid which keeps moisture locked into skin, Glycolic Acid to improve tone and texture, Aloe to soothe and Collagen to plump and firm.  I do think I prefer the Origins Ginzing which is very similar and I wouldn't repurchase this particular product.

So that's all my empties from May, I now need to go and start working on my June empties post!

Have you used any of these products?

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