Wardrobe Update

27 Jun 2017

Postcards from Santa Eulalia

Choosing the region that we stayed in Ibiza was a shot in the dark so to speak, and going by the hotel reviews was really the only reason behind the decision, not having visited before (see more of Sol Beach House Ibiza). As luck would have it, not only was the hotel amazing, Santa Eulalia had everything we wanted. Calm, non-hassled walks on the promenade at sundown overlooking the ocean, lined with restaurants that literally housed every cuisine you could be after on holiday. San Martino was our favourite restaurant, offering authentic and absolutely delicious Italian food, wine and ambiance (not particularly being one for tapas). The baked aubergine for starter and wild mushroom with truffle oil risotto for main were ordered more times than I care to admit, and considering it is on the sea-front, the prices were more than reasonable. Visiting in May seemed to be the perfect time, as there were enough people around to create an atmosphere, but it was far from busy by any stretch. Too pretty not to share, here's some of my pictures from Santa Eulalia... 


Staying in a wellness hotel, of course Sol Beach House Ibiza (see here) was joined to a hiking trail leading up, essentially, from the pool itself. Complete with beautiful, panoramic coastal views, it's more than worth waking up an hour earlier to do the walk (or run, if you're brave) before breakfast.


All photos used are my own.
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25 Jun 2017

Fresh Faced

Whilst at the Anti-Pollution event that The Body Shop held in their Soho store last week, hosted by (the) Alessandra Steinherr, as well as taking in the expert advice on how to protect our skin while amidst such a polluted city like London, I also took the opportunity to (finally) try out some of the brand's make-up offerings. I couldn't tell you why, but I've never crossed paths with any The Body Shop make-up, despite hearing how good it is; particularly when I was younger. Now that I'm paying more attention to my skin, I've noticed that it's getting more sensitive to the quality of make-up I'm using; no longer can I get away with wiping it off the next morning with a face-wipe (this is actually a sin in the skincare world), nor wear layer after layer of synthetic, pore-clogging foundation, concealer, primer, the list goes on, without visibly noticing the effects. 

I can't say that I've done a huge amount of research on it, but there doesn't seem to be a particularly affordable, skin-friendly make-up brand that springs to mind (suggestions are, most definitely, welcome), aside from The Body Shop when it comes to this. My skin has slightly lost it's mind at the moment and I'm still working on the root of the problem, so trying some of their cult make-up products has come at a good time of at least controlling the mayhem that's going on in my complexion. Another huge pull towards their make-up popularity is the brands ethos on cruelty-free, as well as being vegetarian and mineral-oil-free, and considering it's still not too expensive, it's quite a guilt-free purchase to make (you can sign their petition to Ban Animal Testing here). 

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A foundation for those who want the coverage of one but want to still look as though they have their 'own skin' on their face, the Fresh Nude Foundation is your answer. It has SPF 15 protection, a semi-matte finish (for the much-desired 'dewy' look), up to 24-hour moisturisation and it is suitable for sensitive skin. So, in a nutshell, it's not going to irritate your skin, which foundations I've tried in the past have done, and it's light enough in consistency to remove easily.  

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Skimming the line between skincare and make-up, this was an impulse buy on the recommendations of Alex Steinherr (who's going to ignore the advice of a beauty-guru) and a push in the direction of starting to use SPF-50 protection every day. Previous to this, I've been using Ultrasun Face pre-application of make-up, but the thick, white texture of that was making me reluctant to stick to it. Skin Defence is the opposite; really light in texture, absorbs easily and feels like a primer essence rather than an SPF. It protects skin against both UVA (more penetrative and promote skin-ageing) and UVB (surface-skin damage and redness), and contains Vitamin-C (3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid), and red algae extract to prevent dullness and great anti-oxidants that protect against free-radicals. You can see why they named it multi-protect! 

[Side note: My skin's broken out quite badly in the last week and, although I'm not sure, concerned that this may be the perpetrator. Many people get on really well with this, having no problems, and the above still stands, but I'd advise trying a sample before buying or just being aware of it. Feel free to message me on Instagram @aestheticalblog if you have any questions.]

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Honey Bronze is actually more a bronzer-highlighter hybrid (depending on the shade you get, there are three), or maybe you'd call it a tinted shimmer. I assumed it was a small powder dome, but it's actually creamy in texture and you apply straight onto cheekbones and blend with fingertips. Anything brush-free, thus handbag-friendly, is good with me and the shade (I got 01 Highlight) is subtle but effective, especially when in the light. The formula actually contains honey (ethically sourced Ethiopian honey, to be precise) which boosts skin's moisture and gives you that glowing effect. 

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To avoid the cycle of re-applying lipstick every five minutes in between drinks, I've been a devotee of matte liquid lipsticks ever since they became a 'thing'. In shade 030 Crete Carnation, this Matte Lip Liquid has re-inforced why I like them so much (you can tell I haven't been out-out for a while as lipstick just hasn't been on my radar for months). I'd say it's slightly pinker than it looks, so especially suited to fair-hair, light in texture and, most importantly, no maintenance needed (e.g. carrying around a matching lip liner..). 

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All photos taken my myself.
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17 Jun 2017

Bodycare Routine from Day to Night

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Now that the temperature is firmly on the rise, summer holidays are in sight and we're baring our shins more than once a month, implementing a few season-friendly products into your post-shower routine makes all this a little less daunting. Keeping that reptile-like skin at bay is sometimes easier said than done, and it's taken me until now to get into good habits with my skin (sometimes even moisturiser is more than I can handle). With that said, when I do muster the energy to exfoliate, moisturize and oil-up everywhere from the neck down, the benefits are more than worth it and I wonder why I didn't do it sooner. Depending on the time of day or what I'm doing, I usually change-up what I'm using to suit. This is more of an evening combination, as the Aesop scents in particular are very indulgent suit best when you're winding down. I'm swaying towards oil over moisturiser at the moment but only in the evening as it's a bit too greasy for day-wear. 

Body wash | AESOP 
Body scrub | Diptyque
Moisturiser | AESOP
Body oil | REN 


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When it comes to the morning, I'm looking for scents to uplift and revitalize (aka any good reason to get out of bed), over a relaxing, luxurious scent that works the opposite way. Believe it or not, the scent of kelp and magnesium has quickly become one I associate with getting energised for the day, particularly during the week, thanks to REN's latest bodycare launch (read more here) so I'm religiously using the scrub, wash and cream combination in the early hours. A lack of time in the mornings also means that anything I do use, I want it to actually be doing something to my skin, rather than just making it smell pretty. Ameliorate's Skin Smoothing Lotion is the master of resurfacing the texture of your skin and I try to use it on a daily basis on the backs of my arms. Keeping it somewhere you usually reach for in the morning (like next to your toothbrush) is very useful in helping you remember to use regularly, as results with things like these only come with repeated use. 


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Body wash | REN 
Body scrub | REN/Mio
Moisturiser | Ameliorate
Body oil | Mio
         
     
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What do you use to wake up in the morning and unwind at night?

All photos taken by myself on Olympus Pen EPL-7. 
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14 Jun 2017

The Trouble With Goats and Sheep

A book that came under my radar purely because I kept seeing it everywhere, the inquisitively named The Trouble With Goats and Sheep was not what I expected. To be honest, I wasn't really sure what I expected with a title like this, but it quickly becomes clear as you get into it. The analogy of 'goats' and 'sheep' is used in the bible essentially to separate the good people from the bad in the eyes of God, and is cleverly woven throughout the novel by Cannon to epitomize the themes, and used often satirically (and literally) by the narrator (a ten-year-old). The novel is set amidst the notoriously hot summer of 1976, oscillating between the perspective of a ten-year-old Grace, and other inhabitants of 'The Avenue', and recounts the unsettling and unexplained disappearance of Mrs Creasy, who one morning, is reported missing by her husband. With no other logical explanation than perhaps she has discovered some long-buried, deep and dark secrets of those she lives amongst, and the unravelling starts from there. 



Narrated mostly by ten-year-old Grace, the disappearance of a women through a child's eyes is eye-opening in it's unusually intelligent perspective. An innocent outlook appears to be somewhat more accurate than anything any of the adults come out with, and it is only from the outside looking in that we really see the hypocrisy, inaccuracy and nonsensical nature of some of the things that pass us by on a day-to-day basis; things that we say are given a whole new dimension of ridicule when questioned by a child. For instance, Grace's parents tell her she is at the 'awkward' age, and she notes that, well, she doesn't feel awkward so it must be the parents who do. Her literal mindset is very endearing (and refreshing amidst the hard-hitting subject matter). Given the weighty subjects of religion, exclusion and falling short of societal norms, the tone of the novel is fairly light and humurous at times due to the child's perspective, or perhaps quirky is the word. It softens the uncomfortable attitudes of the 1970's, regarding race and cultural acceptance is observed by Cannon interestingly. Particularly highlighted as the Kapoors move onto the avenue; and most of the dialogue towards them are ones that would be completely unacceptable nowadays, and interesting to see how society has progressed in forty years (much for the better). Some of the things Grace's parents come out with are jaw-droppers...

Grace and Tilly's quest to find God (and thus find the missing Mrs Creasy) is what drives us around the avenue, like a lens, taking us behind closed doors into the homes of each resident, one by one, and they gently disclose their secrets that weave into each others lives. Each resident has their own story to tell which we get in fragments to fill in the blanks ourselves; each appears to be fighting a battle in their own way. The character of Walter Bishop is undoubtedly the most thought-provoking. An outsider in all senses of the word, Walter is ostracized by all of those around him purely on assumptions and rumours on his behaviour towards children in the past (it is reiterated that the charges against him were dropped by the police and a likely case of misunderstanding). We never hear from his point-of-view, and it is only when Grace is narrating that we start to sympathise with him, and realise that what we are reading from the perspective of the adults isn't always as "gospel" as they'd like us to think it is. Often quite uncomfortable to take at times, the residents take on vigilante behaviour and make their own 'punishments' for him, with the intention of eventually driving him out of the neighbourhood. From small things like refusing to let him buy a pint of milk at the corner shop, to things much, much more sinister, the treatment towards Walter is frankly inhumane. As an outsider looking in, it seems absurd to think people would treat someone this way, but it really does highlight how 'mob mentality' is more apparent in the 'civilised' world than we think it is; (hopefully) less so nowadays.  

Perhaps the oldest trick in the book; encompassing the novel within a relentless heatwave that beats down on those beneath it oppressively renders the characters merciless to the point of entrapment, more so than they already are; pathetic fallacy at it's finest. Heat has a stagnant quality, opposed to rain, or storms, that works to draw out the days, swells the most mundane of emotions and builds into a crescendo that must be released (thus, marks the cathartic storm at the end of the novel). The heat is also used by those within the avenue to consistently dismiss odd behaviour as 'down to the heat'; a means of justification and something much easier to believe over any other forces at work, or facing reality. Something most of us are probably guilty of, blaming our bad behaviour on a 'long day' or something similar must seem illogically strange to children who do take everything literally, which is what makes this book so clever. Not only the weather, but the claustrophobic setting of a cul-de-sac heightens this further, no one leaves the avenue, so nor do we, only spectators from other roads, come to observe, and so it becomes suffocating for those within it.

The story does become slightly bizarre and hard-to-get-your-head-around when Tilly runs back to Grace to tell her she's found Jesus, which turns out to be a decaying part of a drainpipe that slightly resembles the religious figure, and consequently draws the residents of the street to sit around it for days and days afterwards (just staring at it, like jobs no longer exist and they have expendable time to watch a drainpipe...). Anyway, if you can overlook this, it's the character studies, in my opinion, that are the point of interest for this book, alongside the cleverly satirical perspectives. The book reminded me of one of Jon McGregor's novels, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, albeit much lighter in tone than McGregor's and not as hard-hitting (a must-read), but the setting of a street riddled with secrets draws parallels in many respects. If you've read this (hopefully you have, and I haven't completely spoiled it), I'd love to know your thoughts...!

Ph. taken by myself on Olympus Pen EPL-5 camera and all thoughts are my own. 

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4 Jun 2017

Fates and Furies

Never has 'don't judge a book by it's cover' rung truer in my experience; when I saw this book was about a marriage, relationships and secrets, I wrongly jumped to the conclusion that this was a chick-lit kind of novel (albeit a very good one, given it's reputation). I knew next to nothing about Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies before picking it up (except that it's last month's FMN Bookclub read which I am hugely invested in, and also Barack Obama's favourite read of 2015...), except from what's written on the back, and was more than ready for an easy, breezy summer read. It was is no such thing; my expectations were matched by a lyrical, dream-esque prose accounting for the dynamic between newlyweds Lotto and Mathilde, and their weird, wonderful and deceptive lives together (and apart).


Since finishing the book, I've read a lot of reviews that, frankly, slate this book in it's entirety. The far-fetched nature of the characters, their motivations and the plot in general is classified as pretentious, unrealistic and unlikeable. A lesser Gone Girl. Although I get from where these views are coming from, I can't help but find the beyond-reality, sort of, charming about the book (although, granted, when I read that the protagonist was called Lotto, short for Lancelot, an eyebrow was raised). Despite the bizzare names, isn't it the inconceivable that we look for, and thrive from, in cultural mediums that we invest in, and really the reason we do? If you're looking for realistic circumstances, then perhaps this isn't for you, but the plays, films and stories that we put so much time into are not typically formed around reality. If you detach yourself from the realms of possibility, I think there's a lot more to appreciate as an artistic piece, opposed to thinking of this as a study on the realities (and mundanities) of life. It really is down to taste, this one. 

Mathilde, the most intriguing character of the novel (to those both within the novel and those looking in), is introduced as this beautifully-lonely enigma at the end of college, and quickly becomes a doting wife to Lotto, at 22, when they encounter at a frat party - literally playing out the act of love at first sight (clever, given the novel revolves around theatricality). Her story, as we gradually find out, is despairingly sad, and tragic in all senses of the word. The reason why she is the way she is, is something that makes you question many things - namely unconditional love, forgiveness and at what age do we become responsible for our actions. The way she is described reminded me of one of my favourite books, The Picture of Dorian Gray, in the way that language depicted towards Mathilde is sadness dressed up as beauty. Lotto objectifies her from the start and his attitude towards women is infuriatingly skin-deep and he is simply incapable of seeing this through to the end. She is seen for her beauty by every character in the book, and not for her talent; she keeps modestly quiet at the fact she spends hours tweaking Lotto's plays, lets him believe he is the genius he wants to be, and, in turn, has the 'trophy wife' aura lingering around her throughout. 

The theatrical way that the characters are illustrated to us, stereotypically archetypal of those within the industry anyway, diffuses the way we identify what is the story and what is within Lotto's plays. Mathilde, the beautifully tragic siren and Cleopartra figure who's beauty is rooted in tragedy; Lotto, the charmingly ignorant and attractive playwright that girls fall at his feet, and Chollie (think Iago), the bitterly meddling, repulsive best friend who's at the crux of the novel's plot and devilishly lingering behind the scenes through to the crescendo. The novel's irony lies in the subtext. Lotto's renound as a celebrated creative, and the 'talented' one of he and Mathilde throughout their marriage. He even states in a post-theatre talk that he believes women are lacking in creativity in general, as too much of their energy is spent, instead, creating new life (infuriatingly, he can't see why this would be offensive...). But, isn't it ironic that it is Mathilde who spends everyday acting, arguably her whole life with Lotto, and deceives him completely, even her name is not her name; she plays a bigger role than Lotto ever could, and no doubt better. The allusions to Greek tragedy woven through the novel emphasise this theme, and intertextuality has always been something that gets me when reading (spoken like the true English-lit nerd I am); I think it's to do with the satisfaction of simply recognizing a textual reference (ha). Some will like this, some won't; there are a lot of chunks in the novel that are scripts of Lotto's plays that make for very interesting observation of what's going on in his head, and his past. 

Formed in two halves (exemplifying theatre on a structural level, the two 'parts' of the novel resemble the acts of a play, with a noted interval), the book is magnetic in it's ability to draw you to one perception, only to completely deceive and shock you with an alternative point of view from another character's voice.  The book is charged with a tension that is built up and up, especially with Mathilde, and you just want her to let it out her demons, whatever they are. For instance, on Lotto's return to their after going AWOL at the writer's guild for weeks without contact and aloof with an intriguing musician that's almost certainly developed feelings in Lotto, she says nothing when he eventually returns on the matter; perhaps this is the 'unrealistic' part of the novel that I can agree with, as this is entirely unrelatable to me. The unspoken is passively tangible throughout; most of the book, in fact, circulates around the unspoken, the 'white-space' of both Lotto and Mathidle's life that is not outed to eachother, and really what makes the second half so gripping. The what if, in the circumstance that they knew each others deepest, darkest secrets, is something that particularly plays on Mathidle's mind, and she chooses to live in silence, no matter how hard it is. 



I could go on and on... a lot of rambling for this one, but I urge you to see what you make of it. Love or hate, it's definitely going to be a conversation-starter. I've just finished reading Joanna Cannon's The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, so stay tuned for that one.
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1 Jun 2017

Sol Beach House Ibiza


It's almost three weeks now since coming back from Ibiza (sigh), and I'm still not done with sharing photos from our trip. One of the things that made it so good, aside from the much-needed sunshine, was the hotel that we stayed in. A wellness hotel located on the coast of Santa Eulalia, only a twenty-five minute drive from the airport and a short walk to the marina, Sol Beach House Ibiza has everything you could want from a hotel. Booked quite last minute, we weren't sure what to expect from this place as time didn't allow for much research and there are a lot of hotels in Ibiza to choose from, but it was clearly a good find. Just a five-minute walk from a cast-away-esque beach, by night the candles fill the place with the scent of coconut (this was our first impression of the hotel and we knew instantly that we were going to like it), but it was the views that really made it. Given it's a large hotel, it had the handmade touches and attention to detail of a boutique hotel (including the yoga mat that's in each room).  



Breakfast quickly became by favourite time of day (not something I usually look forward to back home), which had pretty much anything you could want (smoothies, tailor-made omelettes, fresh pancakes, the list goes on..), and made even better with the free-flowing prosecco and al fresco dining experience; the thought of all this made getting up that whole lot easier; we basically jumped out of bed everyday. Smoothies, raw juices and cocktails are served all day, and the food menu similarly had a fresh, healthy offering and some pretty tempting dishes. As we spent a lot of time in the hotel, we opted to venture future out for meals for a change of scenery, but I would not have had any problems choosing.



Perhaps the hotel would have been a different experience altogether going during peak season, as one of the luxuries of being there was how tranquil, relaxed and calm both the hotel and pool area was. It's not often that you get free reign of sunbed-choice (or hammock if you prefer), and more often than not the pools were completely empty. The hotel itself is very big and has a lot of rooms, so I imagine this is a different story come July, so if you can I'd recommend going out of season.


All photos taken by myself. You can find out more about Sol Beach House Ibiza here.
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