Shake It Up at Malmaison

There are some days when an invite drops into your inbox and you have to reply so fast, your keyboard practically steams. Shake it Up at Malmaison was one of those invites. Cocktails? Pampering? Food? SIGN ME UP!

Malmaison

Blogger Event

The event was held in the beautiful Malmaison hotel, in their Work and Play space. Work and Play is a flexible space offering everything from two person pods for meetings to large event spaces for dining and parties. It even has it’s own bar, so I collected a glass of fizz on arrival and set off to investigate the pampering options on offer.

Le Petit Spa

Cover FX

Immediately grabbing my attention was Le Petit Spa, Malmaison’s own spa, who were offering manicures. I settled in and selected a bright pink from their range of CND Shellac polishes. Shellac is a fast drying, glossy gorgeous polish that can last up to 14 days, without damaging your nails. My manicurist expertly shaped my nails into the rounded off shapes I like, and began to paint. Shellac really is fact drying, and I was merrily snapping photos again without a smudge in no time at all. I love the finish of Shellac, as it is really high shine, and your nails look glossy and gorgeous.

Next, I went to chat to Cover FX, who are baed in Harvey Nichols. I had heard of them before, for their truly incredible Total Cover foundation which I’ve seen cosplayers use to cover tattoos. Cover FX specialise in products that make your base perfect. All their make-up is vegan, cruelty free and free of parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil, and talc, all of which can cause irritation. Their foundations are available in a whopping 40 shades, and it’s all gorgeous. Deneita (ask for her at their concession in Harvey Nichols, and tell her I sent you) shade matched in record time, and showed off a selection of their products with obvious pride. I fell in love with their gorgeous highlighters, especially in the shade Celestial, and their frankly miraculous setting powder, which is water resistant. They showed off just how water resistant by painting on some foundation to the hand of Alev, of Bella And Robot. They set the foundation with the powder, tipped some water over her hand and then blotted with a tissue. Not a single piece of that foundation moved a millimetre. Incredible.

The spa were also offering up ESPA hand cocktails, and talking us through all ESPA’s lovely products, while other girls were being coiffed by the team from Blow Ltd.

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All that pampering was hungry work, but luckily team Malmaison were ready with a selection of dishes from the new summer menu.

We had Summer Minestrone SoupSmoked Mackerel PatePoached Salmon HollandaiseSlow Roast Beef BrisketSummer Vegetable and Cherry Tomato Linguine, and Chargrilled Chicken Breast with Crunch Thai Salad. All of it was delicious, light, and perfect for summer dining. It was colourful, with fresh flavours and nothing too heavy. The real stand out was the brisket for me, which was so well cooked and tender.

Cocktails

Suitably fed, it was cocktail time! Malmaison had created a selection of cocktails to match the nail varnish colours on offer. We were given the chance to have a bash at making our own. I am generally pretty crap at making cocktails, but always up for the attempt, so I assembled the ingredients for the pink Metropolitan, a twist on the classic Cosmopolitan.

Under the watchful eye of the bar tender I merrily sloshed vodka, lime juice, cranberry juice and raspberry puree about, and shook the whole lot with ice.

Cocktail making

Metropolitan

Topped with raspberries, my attempt looked pretty and tasted even better. I was pretty generous with the lime so it was sharp, just how I like a cocktail, and the colour actually did match my nails pretty well.

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The most important part…dessert! Fresh red berries and vanilla mascaprone served with shortbread crumb, Banoffee Cheesecake and Warm Summer Pudding. All super pretty, brightly coloured and delicious. Let me back at that cheesecake.

Sadly, with goody bags collected, it was time to go home. The whole evening was excellent fun and I highly recommend you look to Malmaison for all your eating, drinking and fancy nails needs.

I was a guest of Malmaison and East Village. All opinions are honest and my own. 

Festival Hairstyles, with Blow Ltd

Festival season is still in full swing, with some of the UK’s biggest festivals still to come. Whether you’re packing up your tent and your wellies, or whether you’re just looking to create that festival fashion look at home in the garden, I’ve teamed up with Blow Ltd to bring you some of the best festival hairstyles.

Blow arrived in Birmingham about two months ago, and offer a mobile beauty treatment service. With more and more of our life’s managed on demand at the tap of an app, why shouldn’t your beauty treatments be the same? Download the app, and you can book a stylist for hair styling, make-up or nail treatments. With appointments available from 7am til late, it’s an ideal option for busy women.

Blow stylist, Anna, arrived on my doorstep, and we got planning. Blow’s stylists bring all their own gear with them. All I had to provide was somewhere to plug in the straighteners, which is ideal.

Festival Hairstyles

Loose waves hairstyle

The challenge of any good festival ‘do is looking decent on unwashed hair. My hair is naturally really oily, so I’m used to thinking about how this will impact on hairstyles. Anna started with a very simple style. She curled most of my hair into loose waves with the straighteners, which adds a little texture and hides any ‘I slept in a tent’ unbrushed hair issues. Anna added two mini braids to the front, which helped add some interest and pull my hair back from my face. For festivals, this is ideal, as the front is often the bit that looks worst for me if I haven’t washed my hair that day, and of course not having your fair in your face is much nicer if you’re jumping around in a crowd.

Festival style

Festival fashion

Festival hair

Next, we tried out these cute little buns. Again, the hair is braided from the front, to hide any grease  build-up, and then twisted into two messy buns at the back. This looks cute, keeps your hair off the back of your neck when you’re hot and sweaty (just remember the suncream!) and as the focus is messy, can be easily worn all day. Just shove an extra pin in if any of the bun starts to fall down. Messy buns in general are a good move for festivals. If you’re trying to create these styles on site without a mirror, anything too tidy is just going to send you mad. Embrace the mess! Trust me, it looks better this way.

Space buns

Space buns are a festival classic. Get your hair out of your face, and twist it up into two little buns, like ears, on top of your head. You can leave the rest loose, like I have, or you could braid or tie up the rest too. This would be a great one to cover in glitter, or if you’re going to be rocking some in-your-face festival make-up, to really up those space-girl vibes.

Crown braids

Festival braids

My personal favourite festival hairstyle is the crown braid. Seperate your hair and slowly plait it into one long braid, all round your head, like, you guessed it, a crown. It looks so pretty, and achieves all the goals of the other hairstyles. Hair off your neck and out of your face? Check. A good disguiser for unwashed locks? Check. Still looks good messy? Check. Customisable? Check. Spray on the glitter hair spray, pop on a flower crown, add some pretty grips, or just leave it as is. All would look cute, even when you’re covered in mud. Anna’s secret tip? Do this style the first day of the festival and wear it all weekend. Just add more pins as and when you need them.

Whatever style you pick for your festival, remember to embrace the messy look. As Anna worked on these styles for me, she told me she thinks this is the main mistake people make. You shouldn’t be scared to try out new styles, because getting it perfect shouldn’t be your aim. Hair that’s a little ‘lived in’ looks best, so just shove in some pins, load on the glitter and get out there and enjoy yourself!

Using Blow Ltd felt like a real treat too. Anna was great; chatty, friendly and obviously knowledgable. With prices starting at £30, it’s an affordable treat and a great alternative to the salon if you’re pressed for time. If you’re planning a special event, Blow is perfect, and they even  offer discounts for group bookings. I’ll definitely be booking with them again.

This post was written in collaboration with Blow Ltd and East Village PR. All opinions are honest and my own. Thanks to Anna for the photos of the back of my head! 

The Chop, at Rush Hair and Beauty

A drastic haircut is always a scary thing. I’ve had my hair lots of lengths over the years, but it’s been long for a long while now. It was more than time for a change, and I decided for a much shorter cut. I booked myself in with Rush, Birmingham. I’ve been to a blogger event there, but never actually as a customer. Rush are currently offering 50% off for new clients, which I used when I booked. I love to be able to book online, and their booking system was super easy to use.

For perspective, I took this blogger classic mirror selfie the morning of haircut day.

Rush is smack in the city centre, which is ideal. The salon itself is really nice, with huge mirrors so everyone can have a good gossip while they’re in. A friendly receptionist took my coat and I was handed over to my stylist, Richard. I’d actually met Richard before at their blogger launch, but he didn’t appear to recognise me. In the interest of disclosure, I did reveal my identity to him halfway through the cut, but by then, I was confident he was nice regardless of whether you’re a blogger or not. We talked through what I wanted, and I went off to have my hair washed.

Unfortunately, the young girl who washed my hair could not have been less interested in me. It stuck out, as everyone else at Rush was chatty and friendly. This one started badly by failing on all basic manners, instead roughly yanking my hair about, informing me “Your hair is so long” in a stroppy way while she struggled to get a towel round my shoulders and shove me back against the sink. She just about managed to ask if the water was too hot, before she went back to ignoring me all together. Instead, she chatted to the other girl washing hair, who appeared to be ignoring her client too. You’ll be glad to know both girls were incredibly bored, and they really hate listening to the salon’s playlist on a loop all day. Look, I’ve worked retail, I know it’s dull as hell listening to the same songs over and over, and I’m sure washing hair all day is a snore, but Rush isn’t a cheap salon. If I’m paying that much to be there, I’ve paid it because I want a nice experience. Listening to the girl washing your hair whinge, after she’s man-handled your head, isn’t really ideal.

Thankfully, it was back to nice Richard. He was friendly and professional, and had just the right amount of chat. I’m not really one for small talk, and I really appreciate it when my hairdresser is sociable, but not behaving like we’re besties. Being able to get the right amount of small talk for your client is a real skill, and Richard clearly has it.

The cut itself was done pretty quickly, and Richard asked lots of questions so he could get the best finish for me and the amount of maintenance I’m willing to do myself. A blow-dry with a round brush later, and I was done.

Hair cut

Here’s the finished do. Much shorter, with some long layers through. Exactly what I wanted.

Rush have offers running a lot, so it’s always worth checking the site before you book. Overall, I was pleased. The cut itself was great, and most of the people I dealt with were lovely. Maybe they need to have a little word with the ones washing hair though…

 

I paid using a 50% off voucher available to all first-time clients. I was not invited to review, and until halfway through the cut, Rush didn’t know I was a blogger. All opinions are honest and my own.