Monday, 23 November 2015

Christmas competition - win a beauty hamper worth over £70!

Christmas beauty giveaway, win a hamper with NYX and Molton Brown
Since we’re approaching Christmas, I figured it would be rude not to host a festive giveaway!  So one lucky reader can win a beauty booty over £70, which is perfect to get the festivities started.  Whether you indulge yourself, or re-gift (I won’t tell anyone!), there’s something to please anyone.   

The goody bag includes Orange and Bergamot hand cream from Molten Brown, as well as Dr Organics gloves to keep your mitts supple and moisturised, NYX lip butter for soft, glossy lips, Naturalash for a full party flutter and True Brit for totally glammed up nails.

Entering is super easy, see below. The competition is open to UK residents over the age of 16.

Good luck!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 21 November 2015

How to tone down a harsh lip colour

We've all been there. You spied a lipstick in the shops, it swatches on your arm beautifully and you buy it. You then try it on an home, thinking it will be your new go-to shade, but oh dear... what looked gorgeous on your hand is very different on your lips.

Maybelline's Lip Crayon and MyFace's Gigabyte lipstick
I had the exact experience this week, when I purchased Maybelline' lip crayon in 210 Keep it Classy. A hand swatch showed it to be a gorgeous berry. The chunky pencil is moisturising, smells gorgeous and glides like a dream. But on my rather full lips, it's all a bit too much and more drama than I need in my life. I don't know whether it's too much against my skin tone, but my sister, who is slightly more fair-skinned than me bought the same lip colour and had the same sentiments. I think even Kylie Jenner would find it a bit overbearing on her pillow lips. 

So the solution? Well it's all rather genius. I was initially going to just blot the shade, but this just made it look well-worn. So instead, I applied a layer (or two) of my nude brown MyFace lipstick in Gigabyte, and voila, a more muted, and rather gorgeous pink-with-a-hint-of-brown shade emerges. I think the nude beige-brown tone takes the edge off the deep berry, and even makes my lips look fuller (bonus).
So armed with this knowledge, I will be experimenting to see what magic MyFace can perform on my other too scary to wear shades, and I'll keep you posted. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

10 recipes that are easier than Nigella’s avocado on toast

Collage of easy recipes forbreakfast lunch and dinner

It turns out that even TV cooking queen Nigella Lawson has days when she just can’t be arsed. Or so it would seem when she decided to totally take the pee and ‘cook’ avocado on toast on her show. Cue lots of laughter and mocking on TV, the internet and well, everywhere.  

But Nigella, I salute you.  Sometimes the quickest recipes are the best, especially when you don’t have hours to cook slowly and look seductively at the camera.  

I’m no stranger to quick and easy recipes, and I mean really quick (not like Jamie Oliver’s pretend 15 minute meals). So as a homage to Nigella’s easy peasy cheat recipe, here are ten that I’ve concocted in the past that might just be even easier than that.  Click on the captions below the pics for the detailed (cough) method:          
Cheat's chicken burrito

Lazy-ass chicken burrito

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 1 min (for wrap)

Easy scale: 10/10 

Cold fruit porridge

Cold citrus porridge - tastes better than it sounds

Prep time: 3 mins
Cooking time: zero

easy scale 10/10

Jamie Oilver chickpea salad with feta, beetroot and tomatoes

Jamie Oliver Chickpea salad with a twist 

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: zero

Easy scale: 9/10

Chilli cheese on toast with spices

Masala chilli cheese on toast

Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins

Easy scale: 8/10

Baked egg muffins recipe

Egg muffins with peas and cheese

  Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins

Easy scale: 8/10 

Baked basa fish from frozen wth potatoes and leeks

Baked basa fish (from frozen) with vegetables

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins  

Easy scale: 7/10

Cheese, potato, sweetcorn and onion pasties with jus rol pastry

Cheese and potato pasties

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins

Easy scale: 6/10

Cod baked with lemon, onions and peppers

Cod on a bed of vegetables

Prep time: 8 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins

Easy Scale: 7/10

Garden vegetable omelette

Prep time: 3 mins
Cooking time: 7 mins 

Easy scale: 9/10

Homemade pizza baps topped with cheese and tomato

Pizza baps with cheese and tomato

Prep time: 3 mins
Cooking time: 3 mins

Easy scale: 10/10

Monday, 16 November 2015

Olaplex treatment review with before & after results

It’s the new hair trend that’s causing a buzz, but what does Olaplex actually do? And is it any good?  As a sucker for trying anything that promises a renewed and invigorated me, I road-tested Olaplex for you.  

What is Olaplex? 

Hailed as the hottest hair thing since the Brazilian blow-dry, Olaplex is an apparently revolutionary treatment that promises to restore dyed and damaged hair to its former glory by repairing the bonds of the hair from within.  Apparently Kim Kardashian used it when she was alternating between bleached blonde and brunette, and Vogue have raved about it as a hair saviour, with the reporter saying that her hair was left super swishy after the treatment.  

Olaplex works in three steps.  The first two treatments – which look like conditioners - are applied in the salon, while clients are offered the third treatment to do at home.  Unlike deep conditioners which just coat the hair from the outside, Olaplex works from within, and makes the hair less porous, and more susceptible to hair colouring.  As a result, colour comes on better, hair looks shinier and healthier.               

And here’s the big fat disclaimer from me. Well, two actually. I was offered this treatment to trial by ColourNation, a very trendy hair salon in London’s West End, who are one of the first in the area to use Olaplex, which has come from America.      

But the bigger disclaimer is here, I don’t colour my hair.  And the last time I did I was at university when I did this ridiculously red streak home-dye job.  So you may be wondering what business I had trialling a product that is primarily aimed at overworked, over-coloured hair. And you have a point.   

When I was invited to trial the treatment I was told that the product would be beneficial to my hair, though I might not get the ‘wow’ factor experienced by those with have colour, sun and product-damaged hair.  As Olaplex strengthens from within, you don’t necessarily see results, though your hair is stronger and more susceptible to colouring.    

And in a bid to give you my real-time reactions, I've recorded a short video of me before, and after treatment, which you can see at the top of this post.  For posterity, here are some pics too:

          Long black hair before using Olapex Long black hair after Olaplex treatment

As you can see, I was given a lovely blow dry which added volume to my hair, and I have to admit, my hair did feel lighter and very smooth.  However, with my usual cynical pinch of salt, I’m not sure how much could be attributed to Olaplex, and how much was down to the lovely conditioning treatment and blow-dry I’d received.  

So in a nutshell, I had a great treatment at ColourNation, but having natural tresses, I may not be the best guinea pig for Olaplex, and I don’t think I’ll be needing to use the treatment.  However, it’s certainly something to consider if I do decide to hit the bottle.      

Olaplex is available at ColourNation for £50.   

Friday, 13 November 2015

Breakfast and Brunch at Giraffe restaurant, Trafford Centre

Veggie brunch at Giraffe in Manchester's Trafford Centre

So as a foodie (code for greedy pig) if could eat our for every day I would (though my bank balance and waistline wouldn't approve). And one of my favourite weekend luxuries is eating out for breakfast, or brunch. 
So I recently visited Giraffe in the Trafford Centre with my family, and here's what we had:

Roast vegetable omelette with Avocado salsa at Giraffe Trafford Centre

The omelette was well made and delicious with a generous veg filling, and the veggie breakfast was a nice alternative to greasy fry ups with its bakes veg sausages and avocado slices (though the sourdough bread was a little tough). But for me, the dish that was the best was my Mexican burrito (smug face).

An open tortilla topped with mushrooms, cheese, black beans, fried eggs, salsa and cheese, the brunch was as colourful as it was tasty. Costing £8.30, it may seem a bit steep for breakfast / brunch, but it's nice as an occasional treat. So if I were to visit Giraffe again, I'd definitely opt for the Mexican breakfast as it's a delicious concoction you'd be hard pressed to get elsewhere. In fact, I'll see if I can twist hubby's arm into coming with me next weekend.  

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A manicure without the polish - Emjoi's polisher review

I may have mentioned this before on my blog, but nails are totally not my forte. 

In fact, as sloppy as this sounds, the last time I painted my nails was for my wedding. Three years ago. 

As a result of the lack of nail colour, I feel that I have to take extra care to make sure my nails are strong and healthy, and shiny. And the latter is where Emjoi's Micro Nail Polisher, a product I was sent for consideration, helps.

Shiny nails after using Emjoi's Micro Nail buffer and polisher

I've raved about Emjoi's Micro Pedi, which removes the hard skin from heels. In fact my rather gross footage demonstrating it in action is one of my top viewed videos, and while Emjoi's Nail version doesn't have quite the same wow factor (it's quite hard to top dusting a of dry skin scattering like snow), it does a pretty nice job of buffing and shining my nails. I've reviewed it previously with before and after pics, but here's a video demo so you can see exactly how it works. 

And to see the Emjoi Micro Pedi at work in all it's crusty feet softening glory, check out the video below...        

Monday, 9 November 2015

Trying to take the fakery out of social media

Is social media fake?  Essena thinks so

There has been a lot of talk recently about how fake social media is, sparked by the headlines from Essena O’Neill, the Instagram model who famously quit social media, claiming the platforms ‘brainwashed a generation’ (you can an article on this here).    
Of course, Instagram, Twitter and the entire blogosphere is littered with pictures of us looking fabulous enjoying our fabulous lives, going out for fabulous meals, with added filters to make it all look even more fabulous.  And to be honest, for someone who carries the motto ‘life without airbrushing’, I’m not surprised that it’s started to get nauseating.               

I started Desi Girl’s Blog because I was getting a bit tired of seeing some blogs out there which were more advertorials for brands.  I remember coming across one such article which posted about a £250 eyeshadow quad which was apparently too pretty for words.  Indeed it was so pretty that the writer couldn’t say much more than that, and I was left wondering how good it was, how long it lasts, what it looks like when worn (there wasn’t even a swatch accompanying the piece) and crucially, whether it was worth the money.  Now while I avoid pitching things against their cost, (as everyone’s budget is different and I don’t want to impose my opinion of what people should spend on makeup) at the very least, I try to spell out the pros and cons, and try on the product for posterity.  As bloggers with a certain amount of influence, that’s the least we owe readers.     

Of course, there is the odd plucky PR who will try their luck with getting you to promote a product their way (i.e. saying when to publish, tweet, etc.).  I even had one that sent me the wrong product, and asked me to amend my review, just changing the name of the product she mistakenly sent. Needless to say I didn't, and we haven't been in touch since.   
You see, Desi Girl’s Blog is set up to be a bit of an antidote to some of the more polished, ‘airbrushed’ and edited blogs out there. That’s why my YouTube channel offers unedited videos with real-time tutorials, and I often start them off wearing no makeup (not no makeup makeup), even at the risk of offending the eyes my lovely viewers.  My style could be seen as rustic or some may say crappy compared to some of the almost cinematic videos out there, but that is how YouTube, and blogging started out.      
When YouTube first launched, it was for real people to post about their lives.  Vloggers would post straight forward tutorials, shot in their bedroom wearing a hooded top.  But slowly, with the emergence of YouTube celebrities and filtered Instagram, videos have become more like TV shows, beauty tutorials are heavily edited and use dozens of products that cost a fortune.  Suddenly, what was supposed to be an accessible channel for everyone has become unattainable for many.  And as for the tutorials, the sharp editing often leaves us unable to emulate the look for ourselves.        

When it comes to blogging, it’s hugely important to offer honest reviews, not just of the things I love, but also what hasn’t worked out quite so well.  It’s not about bashing a brand, but it’s about offering a constructive view, so you, as the reader, can make the most informed choice.  My view is, when I lose the trust of my readers and viewers, it’s time to shut down the laptop, as I’ve lost it all.    

Essena's has attracted criticism, however, as many people call it a publicity stunt in itself, while some have noted that it's bad faith to have taken the money from brands than bad mouthed them afterwards. While I agree with the latter point (if she is really against social media, a charitable donation of some of the money she recieved from brands would have made her cause seem more genuine), her stance has lead other instagrammers to follow suit, publishing the truth behind their perfect photos.  It’s hard to say whether this is the beginning of a real sea change, or a passing fad, but I for one hope that the whole social media is fake debacle will restore some normality to the digital world.  Filters are great, but keeping it real is even better.             

Friday, 6 November 2015

Tuquoise restaurant review, Cheadle

Tomato Bruschetta, hummus and pitta served at Turqoise Turkish restaurant in Cheadle, Manchester

Recently I visited a friend for lunch in my old neck of the woods, Cheadle. Anyone south of Watford may say, where the hell is that? So for the benefit of clarity, it's a leafy area just outside Manchester.

While the high street boasts veg shops, a Boots and my beloved Quality Save, like many villages, it doesn't have eateries in abundance. There's a pizza express, and Tuquoise, a Turkish restaurant that's my go-to when in the area, and the subject of this review.  

Lucky for ladies who lunch, or those who work nearby, Tuquoise offers lunch specials of two dishes for £7. The generous menu offers staples such as humus and soujuk (Turkish sausage), and halal eaters will be pleased to know that there are chicken and meat options available (I was informed that only the steak wasn't halal). 
I normally opt for the mixed mezze, which is a flavoursome plate of cheese filled pastries, vine leaves, falafel and warm pitta, though sadly this wasn't on offer. 

So here's what we had:  

Mediterranean starters at Turquoise Turkish in Cheadle, Manchester

The bruschetta was a tasty, filling portion, though the bread got a little soggy underneath all that tomato. I much prefer the bruschetta at Pizza Express or London's La Cucina.

Turkish chicken shashlik with rice, salad and chilli sauce

Turkish halal Kofte meatballs with veg and rice

The kofte (meatballs) would have benefitted from a side dish of chilli or garlic sauce, as the dish overall was slightly dry.  I know this is typical of Turkish cuisine, but I think I've been spoilt by restaurants in London that offer some sort of sauce with their meat dishes. 

I've previously had the vegetable moussaka, which is a rich tomato dish, and I'd probably opt for this, and some mezzes if I visit again.

In terms of how Turquoise squares up against other Turkish restaurants I've tried, I'd say it was better than Tas, but didn't quite pack the flavour of Efes. However, if I'm in Cheadle again, it would be my go to place.     

Turquoise in a nutshell...

Cost - lunch specials offer two courses for £7. Dinner offers two courses for under £10.
Halal- most dishes are halal apart from the steak.
Great if... You're in the area and fancy something different.
Not so great if... You prefer your meat strongly flavoured or spicy. The nature of Turkish is that it's light on the palette. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Celebrity makeup disasters that make us look like makeup artists

I figured I'd post something fun and frivolous which would make us feel a pinch better abour ourselves. And what better way to lift our spirits and our confidence than with a mean article that pokes fun at the very epitome of perfection... our celebrities?

While we aspire to look like them and covet their makeup looks (Kylie Jenner lips?  I've done a tutorial here), there are also some times when they get it very wrong, and here are some of the best...

1) The Haloween makeup when it's not Haloween 

Tyra Banks heavy eye makeup contouring disaster   

Tayor Momson's black rock chick eyeshadow

No, the above aren't Haloween makeup tutorials, though they bloody well should be. Tyra seems to be trying out all the makeup tricks at once - highlighting and contouring, bright lips, smokey eyes.  In isolation, they're mkauep magic.  but they should never be worn together. It almost looks as though she had three makeup artists working on her at once, though they forgot to consult each other on the look. 

As for Taylor whats-her-face, the goth look does not earn you rock chick credentials.  And Kung Fu Panda you are not.  

2) The not-so-translucent translucent powder 

Angelina Jolie's white translucent powder

Miley Cyrus' translucent powder makeup disaster

They say the camera never lies, but it sure can be a bitch.  Angelina and Miley probably looked great when they looked in the mirror before leaving the house, but there translucent finishing powder decided to make an appearance on the red carpet once the bulbs started flashing. Ironically, the translucent powder is designed exactly for these red carpet moments, but instead leaves these ladies looking flour-bombed.       

3) The highlight of the night

Eva Longoria's too-much concealer and highlighter makeup disaster

Amy Child's highligher makeup disaster

Highlighting can be a double edged sword.  If done correctly, you look lit from within.  But a shade too light or a stroke too far makes you look, well, a bit silly.  Just ask Eva and Amy.        

4) The WTF   

Lindsay Lohan wears too much blush

Christina Aguilera's makeup disaster

There are just no words.  And there is just no need. Someone told Christina and Lindsay that their makeup was OK.  They should be ashamed. 

So that's my mean post of the day.  But in the interests of fairness, I thought I ought to share one of my own makeup no no's...

Desi Girl's Blog makeup goes wrong

Yes, I matched my lipstick with the stripes on my jumper.  And yes, I thought that was OK.  But it wasn't. 
Have a good rest of the day!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Braun Face foundation sponge review and demo

A real time demo of Braun's beauty sponge, - a clever gadget which attaches to the Braun 2-in-1 facial epilator and cleanser review. 

The sponge can be used for massaging serums into the skin, applying primer or smoothing on foundation.  I try out the sponge with Sleek's Creme to Powder Foundation, and share my thoughts as I go along. Enjoy my real time review / tutorial and always, please subscribe!

Check out my video demo of Braun Facial epilator:

And for Braun's facial cleanser:

Applying makeup with Braun Face