New In: L’Oreal Pure Clay Detox Charcoal Mask

Tres Bien Edinburgh beauty blog l'oreal pure clay detox mask review l'oreal charcoal mask review

Charcoal face masks have been storming the internet recently; I’m almost certain you’ll have come across one of those actually-quite-gross videos where someone peels off their charcoal mask to show off the detached pores and gunk that comes along with it. Yeuch.

I prefer to be a little gentler with my skin these days, and anything that promises to literally pull every ounce of anything out of my skin sounds a little scary to me. However, I’ve heard so much about the benefits of charcoal that I still really wanted to try a face mask with it included, but something a little kinder to my skin. Step forward, the new Pure Clay Detox Face Mask from L’Oreal.

L’Oreal have just released three versions of this mask in their new Pure Clay range: Detox, Purity and Glow. My skin at the moment is just coming out of a congested phase so I thought that the Detox mask, packed with charcoal and kaolin clay, would be the best option for my face at this stage. They’re usually priced at £7.99 each, but as they’re new, Boots or Superdrug usually has them on offer for around £5.

Starting with the packaging, I actually think the Pure Clay Face Masks look really luxurious. Housed in an elegant green box, the actual product is in a really heavy square glass jar. They look sleek and chic, perfect for popping on the bathroom shelf. The jar is quite a lot smaller than the box would have you believe, but there’s enough product for ten applications – so you’re looking at a cost per use of 79p if you buy full-price. Not bad at all, considering that some on the market are upwards of £30.

Now, the product itself. There’s something really intriguing about black face products; something about them just makes me feel like my skin is going to be super-clean afterwards. The formula is gorgeously thick and heavy, but it doesn’t feel too much on the skin; it actually feels really quite cooling and light once applied. I applied a decent, thick layer to the skin and it takes around ten minutes to set fully so you can wash off. As it dries, you get the disgusting-but-satisfying added bonus of seeing those pesky dark pores and blackheads turn white and loosen themselves from the skin.

The Pure Clay Detox Face Mask is made up of three pure clays, combined with charcoal; the aim is for the product to act like a magnet, drawing out impurities and leaving behind deeply cleansed, clarified skin that remains hydrated and nourished. Those three clays are kaolin clay, which absorbs excess sebum, montmorillonite, which works to eliminate imperfections, and ghassoul, which is renowned for clarifying the complexion.

The mask promises instant results – which I’m always pretty dubious of. Skin should be ‘immediately smoother and clearer’ after one use, and after a week of use, skin will ‘feel fresher and look more luminous’.

Anything that promises visible transformation is setting the bar high indeed. My skin is actually in a pretty good place at the moment, with just a couple of hormonal blemishes lurking in the usual spots, but the texture is much improved to what it was earlier in the year – so I wasn’t really expecting to see anything noticeably improved – much less a ‘visible transformation’.

However, after removing this mask (using warm water and a fluffy flannel), I actually really did notice a difference in the look and feel of my skin; it looked much clearer and less congested, especially on my nose (my problem area for blackheads) and the surface of the skin looked really fresh and bright. As I say, I don’t really have too many blemishes to be dealt with at the moment so I haven’t really seen any changes there, but overall my skin looked calmer and brighter, with redness being dialled down too.

For the price, I’m really surprised at the effectiveness of the mask; I’m sure there are probably more effective ones on the market if you have a higher budget, but for a quick fix and a purse-friendly way to treat yourself, I really don’t think you can wrong with this. I’m definitely intrigued to try the other two face masks in the range, but for the time being I’ll definitely be adding the Pure Clay Detox mask into my weekly skincare regime!

Have you tried any of the L’Oreal Pure Clay face masks?

Spring Cleaning My Wardrobe

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Now that it’s April, and the evenings are light and – dare I say it – the weather is getting a little warmer, it properly feels like Spring is here. I’d been thinking for a few weeks now about setting aside an afternoon to rearrange my wardrobe ready for the new season, so when Satsuma got in touch to ask me to be a part of their Spring Cleaning campaign, it felt like perfect timing.

I’m quite lucky that, in the apartment we’re currently renting, we have a spare bedroom with a double wardrobe. In this wardrobe lives my ‘surplus’ of clothing – that is, all the pieces that would be entirely inappropriate for the season. So at the moment, the wardrobe is filled with summer clothing – floaty dresses, strappy tops and cropped trousers galore, with a few pairs of sandals thrown in for good measure. And in my ‘main’ wardrobe, the rails are stuffed with jumpers and the floors are covered in my boots. So it’s definitely time for a swap around, and while making the transition, it’s a perfect time to reassess what’s in my wardrobe – what can stay and what really needs to leave (preferably via eBay!).

Now don’t worry, I’m not about to start preaching about creating a capsule wardrobe – I’m far too much of a maximalist for that. But life is so much simpler when you can just dip into the wardrobe with ease each morning, knowing that everything in there looks good, feels good and works well with other pieces in there. It’s just about clearing out the clutter to find those little gems that you might have forgotten all about.

wardrobe clearout, how to clear out your wardrobe, how to spring clean your wardrobe, wardrobe decluttering tips, edinburgh fashion blog, scottish fashion blog

So here are my top tips on spring cleaning your wardrobe in time for the season ahead…

1. Clear out from the past season
Take a look in your wardrobe, and remove anything that won’t work for the season ahead. In my case, this will be chunky jumpers, bulky cardigans and anything particularly dark or wintry. This includes winter boots, coats, hats and scarves that will also be cluttering up your closet! Assess each item carefully: what do you want to keep for next season, what’s past its best. Pack away the items you want to keep; I’ll be folding bulky jumpers and keeping them in the drawers under my bed, and tidying away coats, boots and accessories into the surplus cupboard. Anything else needs to go into a ‘throw’ or ‘donate’ pile.

2. Bring back pieces from last spring/summer
If you have a surplus wardrobe, like me, it’s time to reorganise that too. Go through the items with care again and think about what you will want to wear in the months ahead. Does an item you loved last summer still excite you? I like to look at pieces and think “if I saw you in the shops today, would I still buy you?”. If the answer is yes, it goes in the closet! If not, get those items in one of those two piles you’re already building up.

3. Take EVERYTHING out of your wardrobe
Now that the surplus seasonal stuff is dealt with, it’s time to start working on your main, everyday items. The best way to handle this is to take literally every item out of your wardrobe, and I mean everything; no backing out on shoes, coats, bags and other accessories. If there’s anything seasonal kept in drawers or elsewhere, bring that too – this is a purge, after all. Dumping it all on the bed means you have to get it finished too, otherwise no bedtime for you!

4. Start sorting into five key piles
I find that the easiest way to look at organising clothing is by sorting it into five key piles: keep, maybe, bin, donate, sell. This should make deciding what to do with your clothes much easier.

The ‘keep’ pile is obvious – this should consist of pieces that fit well, that you feel good in and that you know you will wear frequently in the season ahead.

The ‘maybe’ pile is a slightly trickier one – usually this will be pieces that haven’t been worn yet, pieces that you want to keep but aren’t sure why, or pieces that you just don’t know how to style. These pieces are the ones that should be tried on and considered carefully – if, once you try them on, you’re still not sure, then they should go into the ‘donate’ or ‘sell’ piles. If you’re not sure now, it’s pretty likely you won’t ever wear it.

‘Bin’ is simple – pieces that are overworn, damaged or just generally worn out should be repurposed or thrown away. Everything has a life span and this applies to clothes too. Check for stains, holes, threadbare sections or just if something looks tired and done.

The ‘donate’ and ‘sell’ piles might be interchangeable, but my general rule of thumb is this: if it’s been worn a few times, is in fairly good condition and could be worn again, and didn’t cost too much in the first place, donate it. If something is unworn (especially with tags still on!), or still in fantastic condition and cost a fair amount to begin with, sell it. You can make good sales on eBay on pieces from high street stores as well as designer – if the quality is good, why not sell on, make a few pounds and put it towards funding new pieces for your closet?

5. Organise those piles!
Bag up the ‘bin’ pile and put it in the bin. Done. Bag up the ‘donate’ pile and leave it near your front door, so you’ll remember to take it with you next time you leave the house, and drop it off at your nearest charity shop. Put the ‘sell’ pile on your computer desk, so you’ll remember to photograph it and get it listed online ASAP – remember to snap them in good daylight, and scribble down all the details of each item so you can write a detailed description that will help the pieces sell.

I find that putting the piles somewhere that has the potential to irritate me (i.e. in front of the door, on my bed or on the desk chair) will push me to do what I need to do with them quicker, to get them out of the way.

Try on the ‘maybe’ pile and consider each piece with care. Do you like it, does it feel good? Does it fit, or are you squeezing yourself into something because you love it on the hanger? We’re all guilty of this! Be kind to yourself – if something doesn’t make you feel good now, it probably never will. Put it on the ‘sell’ pile and use the money to buy something that makes you feel fabulous. This applies to shoes too – how many pairs of shoes do you own because they’re pretty, but never wear because they’re painful?!

If something looks good but you’re just not sure if it goes with your wardrobe, put it into the ‘keep’ pile and move on to the next stage.

6. Assess what’s left.
Take a good look at what should now be one big ‘keep’ pile. How does it look? Do the pieces work together? Lay out the pieces and try and create at least three outfits for each key piece – obviously you can’t do these with statement pieces, but with more ‘everyday’ tops, skirts, jumpers, trousers and shoes, it’s good to make sure that pieces are versatile and that you can wear them in different ways.

If there’s a piece you love but you have nothing to go with it – don’t fret. This is what your ‘sell’ pile will help to fund – new pieces that do work! Make a list of anything you need to buy to fill the gaps.

7. Put it all away!
You’re almost there – and now it’s time to tidy it all away. Start putting things back in your closet, drawers, wherever you keep your clothes, but make sure you organise them in a way that makes sense. Jeans, basic tees and lightweight jumpers can be folded and put away into drawers or stacked on shelves – anything bulky needs to go in a different closet (if possible) or in a designated ‘winter wardrobe’ area.

For everything else, make sure it’s all hung up nicely, and then put it away in a way that makes sense to you. For instance, I organise my wardrobe in the same way I was taught to organise the rails during my time at H&M – by category, and then by sleeve length. So for instance, my rail is organised like this currently:

  • Strappy tops
  • Short sleeved tops
  • Long sleeved tops
  • Shirts
  • Cardigans
  • Jumpers
  • Strappy dresses
  • Short sleeved dresses
  • Long sleeved dresses
  • Short skirts
  • Longer skirts
  • Cropped trousers
  • Longer trousers

Sounds a bit mad, but it makes everything really easy to see and find. And if everything is easy to see and find, you’re more likely to wear it and get the maximum use out of everything in your wardrobe, all season long.

So there we have it – my top tips on spring cleaning your wardrobe! Hopefully you find my advice helpful in cleaning out your closet – and now I’m off to start on tidying up mine…

This post was in collaboration with Satsuma Loans. 

Skincare Saviours

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I’ve been toying with whether to write this post or not, as I don’t want to jinx my current good fortune in the complexion department. But then I thought that was stupid, and nothing I write here will actually impact my actual face, so here we are… I wanted to write a frank and detailed post on these products, as when I was desperately scouring Google for hope that something would solve my skincare woes, nothing I found really made me feel like something would truly work. So I hope that this helps at least one of you!

I’ve never been a spotty person; in fact, my complexion was much closer to dry/normal than anything ever resembling oily skin. If I ever did get a spot they were small and slightly inconvenient, but nothing to really worry about. But then a couple of years ago, I switched my Pill and all hell broke loose – on my face. I didn’t put two and two together for months, and walked around with a very sore, very sad, very bumpy face. Once I eventually twigged, I switched my Pill again and almost overnight, the spots disappeared. I was living a happy, blemish-free life again, until my Pill was discontinued and I was put onto one that “is basically exactly the same”, according to every doctor and pharmacist I asked. Let me tell you, it is not exactly the same.

For the last year or so, I’ve been struggling for the first time in my life with cystic acne; that is, large, painful spots that sit under the skin. They never come to a head, so they can’t be squeezed (trust me, I’ve tried and I have the scars to prove it) – they just sit there, as hard lumps that ache and are sore and tender to the touch. It is no fun. Nothing seemed to be clearing them; I swapped out dairy for a while, tried every kind of mask and cleansing regime… nothing worked. Yes, I know I could change my Pill (again), but this one really works for me – aside from the face situation.

With my brother’s wedding and a million and one photographs of my face looming, I decided I really needed to find a cure. So I decided to try the much-famed Effaclar Duo+, from French skincare brand La Roche-Posay.

Here’s where things get interesting. There is literally NO INFO on the La Roche-Posay website (or any of their stockists) beyond the basics with this product. Is it a moisturiser? A topical treatment? God only knows. In blog reviews, the info is blurry and the outcomes wildly differ – from miracle cure to total nightmare. It just goes to show that skincare really isn’t one-size-fits-all.

So I’m going to try and be really clear about how I use Effaclar Duo+, seeing as I found next to no helpful info about it at all. I decided to take drastic action and use it morning and evening, as a moisturiser. It’s a fresh, gel-cream texture that lends itself really well to a quick skincare routine; I apply a small amount in the morning (avoiding the eye area) and massage in, apply my eye cream, and then leave five minutes before applying primer and my makeup – if you apply anything directly on top straight away, it tends to ball up. In the evening, I swing between applying a facial oil or a new moisturiser (more on that later) on top of the Effaclar, but quite often I just use that and an eye serum.

I started using Effaclar Duo+ on a Friday night at the very end of February. I had two very hard cystic spots on my chin and a few others brewing along my jawline – the cystic ones had probably been there for two or three weeks already. I applied it, and in the morning, I was presented with – sorry if this is super gross – two large spots on my chin that were ready to be dealt with, where the cystic ones once stood. So I dealt with them, and it was almost shamefully satisfying.

Effaclar Duo+ promises that you’ll see results in 24 hours, then more dramatic ones in eight days, but it should take around four weeks for “unclogged” skin. I’ve been using it for just over six weeks now, and I think it takes around this amount of time to really see results. My skin did almost instantly look better, but it has taken weeks for the spots to stop appearing. Apparently this is due to spots being created really deep down in the skin, so it takes a few weeks to “unclog” them and bring them to the surface. I will say that I haven’t had a single new cystic spot since starting to use this, which is incredible – I have definitely had quite a few large spots (more than I would have liked, and enough to induce pure panic that it wasn’t working for me!) but all of them were resolvable.

I’ve really stripped back my entire skincare routine too; face washes and oils are all out, it’s back to basics for me. One session with a cleansing oil brought on a fair few blemishes the next day, so they’re off the shelf for me currently. Instead, I use the super-gentle Garnier Micellar Water to cleanse, then a warm flannel to make sure everything is off and my face is squeaky clean. I use the Boots Botanics Triple Age Renewal Hydrating Serum under my eyes in the morning, and in the evening Pure Spa Eye Serum, and if I do choose to apply a facial oil in the evening, it’s always my trusty Vitamin E Overnight Serum In Oil. Three times a week, I’ll use a Nip+Fab Extreme Glycolic Fix pad to decongest and exfoliate the skin ‘s surface too.

I’m now six weeks deep into this routine, and for the first time ever, I have been confident enough to forgo foundation – in fact, I have done so five times in the last week! Concealer and a touch of powder is enough at the moment, and that feels amazing. My skin looks clear and glowing, and while there’s still one or two (admittedly tiny) spots that pop up and scars that need to fade, I don’t know if my skin has ever looked better.

To deal with the last few spots that have been cropping up, I decided to up the ante and purchase a few more La Roche-Posay products – namely, the Effaclar AI and the Cicaplast Baume B5 SPF50. The Effaclar AI is a topical gel cream that you apply directly to brewing spots, to calm them and stop them in their tracks, and so far, it’s pretty damn good. It sits really well under makeup too, so you can use it before you get ready in the morning with no fear of it peeling away.

The Cicaplast Baume isn’t strictly a facial moisturiser (actually, who knows if it is, the website says it’s everything and nothing all at the same time!) but can be used all over the body. I’d heard that this was a bit of a wonder product, so I decided to give it a go to make sure I wasn’t drying my face out with all of these acids. I’ve used it a few times as a night cream over the Effaclar Duo+, and it’s really something else; light and absorbent, but incredibly nourishing and hydrating to the skin, without being greasy.

So there we have it – the products that have literally saved my skin! If you’re struggling with something similar, my advice is this: PERSEVERE*. One night last week I was convinced that Effaclar Duo+ wasn’t working for me and that I’d always be red and spotty; I read a million blog posts where people were saying it didn’t work for them and being super vague about why. And then just like that – a few days later I woke up and I could finally be totally sure that I knew what all the fuss was about.

The only (minor) downside to all of this is that I am now too worried about introducing anything else new into my skincare routine – that isn’t La Roche-Posay, apparently they will have my money for life! So for the time being at least, I’m keeping things super simple and stripped back – if it works, there’s no need to change it, and I’m certainly not looking to go back to those painful red spots anytime soon!

I really hope you find this helpful – problem skin is such a downer and really can affect your confidence, so I hope at least some of my experience is useful or gives you a little bit of hope that something will work for you.

*Unless you have some kind of bad reaction – in which case, for the love of God do not persevere.

Weekend Wishlist

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JUMPSUIT | CANDLE | CLEANSE BALM | BOOK

CLUTCH | FACIAL SPRITZ | JUMPER

This weekend’s wishlist doesn’t feel especially spring-like; in fact, it feels a bit like a wishlist I’d make in September. It screams of the new but also of the classic – routines done differently, a twist on the timeless. New candles, new stationery, new books and new clothes, in a classic shade of navy (of course).

After a few months of saving and daydreaming about things to come, this wishlist has a bit of a ‘treat yo’self’ vibe about it – and while I probably won’t act on it, it feels quite cathartic to shop online and play the ‘if money was no object’ game with a virtual basket.

First up, two luxury goodies I’d love to add to my Sunday night routine. Diptyque’s Rosa Mundi candle sounds exactly right for me: heady rose, sweet and sensual and sophisticated. Add to that the (travel-size) Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm and there’s a seriously indulgent evening to be had. I loved this cleansing balm during my last Elemis facial but it’s pricey – seeing that ASOS does this travel-sized version has made me think about treating myself and my skin to something a little bit special.

Also on a beauty note, I’m loving Aster & Bay’s Rosewater Mist. Disclaimer: I handle their PR, but on a serious note, this stuff is heavenly. It smells beautiful – rose and honeysuckle, with a crisp sea salt finish to stop it being too heavy or sweet. It’s a really light spritz that just refreshes the skin in an instant, ideal over makeup for a quick hydration boost. I’ve been reading how great rosewater is for hard-to-please skin, so I’m thinking about treating myself to a full-size bottle of this to see how we get along.

Now, along those new-season vibes… two new additions to the wishlist wardrobe, both in classic navy and arguably very sensible. I don’t own any jumpsuits (can never find the right length), but this culotte style from ASOS looks just right – cool, casual and perfect for spring/summer evenings paired with Stan Smiths or lace-up flats. It’s not the cheapest so I’ll be looking around for alternatives, but I really like this and can see it fitting well into my spring wardrobe. On the more realistic side of things, Edinburgh isn’t exactly warm most of the time, so a new jumper never goes amiss, no matter what the season is. I came across Ille De Cocos on Instagram and loved their Parisian-style sweaters and knits. This slouchy navy number with subtle pointelle detailing would be super cute with pleated skirts or jeans on chillier days.

It wouldn’t be a wishlist without books and stationery now, would it? You’ve probably seen The Curated Closet scattered in many an Instagram flatlay by now, (I know I have) and by all accounts it’s a great read and helpful for those of us with racks of clothes but only around five or six outfits in rotation. I’ll definitely be picking up a copy soon to help me tackle my mammoth wardrobe into submission! And to finish – did you know And Other Stories has started selling stationery?! If you didn’t, I suggest you head over to their website ASAP, as their stock is gorgeous. Think embossed notebooks, pastel leather cases and covers, gold metal hardware and seriously swoon-worthy colour schemes. I adore this chic little leather envelope clutch, perfect for keeping notes and receipts and doubling up as a cute little clutch!

Monthly Favourites: March 2017

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MY FAVOURITE THINGS

SKINCARE

This month has seen a real turning point in the condition of my skin, and I think it’s all down to one incredible new addition to my beauty routine. After years of hype, I finally purchased a tube of La Roche Posay’s famed Effaclar Duo +, and so far, so fabulous. I’ve never really suffered with spots before but in the last year or so my skin has been prone to developing painful, under-the-skin spots that lurked on my face for weeks without any signs of disappearing. I’ve been using Effaclar Duo for around four weeks and the change in my skin so far is amazing – in the first weekend, lingering cystic spots were brought to the surface to be disposed of, and while one or two have still developed over the month, they’ve been nowhere near as big or painful, and have disappeared in a day or two. My only issue is that I didn’t buy into this before!

BEAUTY

Earlier in the month, I gave up trying with my previous foundation routine, and went back to my old favourite with a new blend, Bourjois’ Healthy Mix foundation. While the colour match isn’t as perfect as the Revlon ColorStay formulas (Bourjois is always a bit yellow on me), the formula is better than ever, delivering a sheer wash of healthy, dewy colour that brightens the skin and gently hides imperfections. Blendable, buildable and natural-looking, this is a budget-friendly foundation that is hard to beat in my eyes.

NEW PURCHASE

This is a purchase I didn’t intend to make this month, but after the strap of my (not-so) trusty Mango trio bag snapped just as I got inside the airport to embark on a weekend away, I didn’t have much option. I had to hotfoot it to the nearest Accessorize, where I promptly decided to replace the broken bag with this little lady. Small and sophisticated, and made from the softest leather, it’s a gorgeous bag that does the job beautifully – I just wish I hadn’t had to spend the money to buy it! At least it was discounted in the duty-free section of the airport…

ITEM OF CLOTHING

This month, I did the laughable – but I know we have it all done at some point (tell me we’ve all done it at some point?!). I went on a mad hunt to track down an item I have previously owned but returned – around a year ago. You may remember Zara selling a seriously cute white broderie anglaise top, with long sleeves, ruffles and a slightly cropped length – Liv is wearing it beautifully here. Last spring, I dutifully bought it as I loved it so much on the website, but I hated it on me. If I’m brutally honest with myself, I was perhaps a little too chubby to pull it off with any aplomb, so I returned it sadly and didn’t look back. That is, until I spotted images of the blouse doing the rounds on Pinterest, and it grabbed hold of my heart all over again. I frantically searched eBay and blog sales to no avail, until I finally found one on Depop in my size. So I rebought it, and, dear readers, I am delighted to report that this year I am no longer too chubby to wear it, and it fits beautifully and it looks pretty bloody good too. So there.

SHOP

I have actually tried really hard to not buy anything this month, so no real favourite stores are sticking out to me. Must try harder next month…!

TV SHOW

We have been loving Catastrophe – a very grown-up sitcom from Channel 4. The third series is on currently, but we hadn’t seen any episodes before, so we’ve spent more evenings this month than I’d care to admit bingeing on All 4 to catch up with the previous series. It’s hysterically funny, so dry and sarcastic. I highly recommend it!

MUSIC

More Life – need I say more?!

FOOD & DRINK

I am a recent convert to poached eggs (I know…) and have been enjoying devouring them whenever possible. Last weekend, I had a day to myself and while waiting to collect some alterations, I decided to take myself off for a very late lunch, to The Skylark in Portobello. I’ve been before for cocktails (not great, admittedly) so my expectations weren’t especially high for their food offering – but I was very pleasantly surprised. Delicious, softly poached eggs, oregano roasted tomatoes, spinach, chestnut mushrooms and the most beautiful bread for mopping it all up – the tastiest brunch I’ve had in a very long while.

READ

This month, of course, celebrates World Poetry Day, so I’ve actually been enjoying re-reading some old favourite poems and discovering some amazing new ones through Twitter. My favourite poem is this one – sit, feast on it.

TREAT

Not much in the way of treats this month actually – we’re saving for a house purchase, a weekend away and everything else that comes along with life – but I have been able to pop out to dinner a few times this month, which is always a favourite treat. We’ve been for brownies, for pizza and of course, that amazing brunch I mentioned above. Food is the best indulgence!

How To Spend A Weekend In: Edinburgh

For years and years before I’d moved to Edinburgh, it was always a city I’d longed to visit, and I was always excited for our daytrips here. Now, after six months here, I can by no means say I’m an expert, but I’ve done more than my fair share of exploring so that when friends and family visit, we can show them a great time in our new home town. Here’s a little guide for spending a weekend in Edinburgh, in case you’re itching to book a trip sometime soon…

Friday night

Edinburgh is seriously easy to get to from most major cities in the UK, by train or plane. If you take the train, you’ll arrive right in the centre of town, so you can hop off the platform and start your weekend immediately. If you fly, you can jump onto the tram right outside the airport and head direct for the centre, which takes around half an hour.

Choose your tipple #edinburghpubs #Edinburgh #vodka #Gin #whisky #Rum #craft

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Dump your bags and head to The Holyrood 9A for dinner and drinks to remember; it’s a seriously cool spot just off the Royal Mile that will delight foodies and alcohol aficionados alike. There’s dozens of craft beers to choose from, a wide list of delicious cocktails and a broad food menu that covers nibbles, burgers, salads and some seriously indulgent desserts.

Saturday morning

On Sundays we #brunch #smokestack #edinburgh #brunchquest

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Spring out of bed and head to bustling Broughton Street for a delicious, leisurely brunch at Smoke Stack. Their waffles are famous all over the city; savoury lovers will adore the Huevos Rancheros option, but if you’re sweet-toothed like me, the Sweet Berry waffles, piled high with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries, will hit the spot for sure.

Post-breakfast, nip next door to Artisan Roast to pick up a hot drink to go (I daydream about their rose hot chocolate), and then take a wander along the street – stopping off at luxurious chocolate boutique Coco Chocolatier if you’re so inclined – and down to Life Story on London Street. This Scandi boutique stocks everything your minimalist heart could desire – from beautiful stationery to prints, homewares and rare magazines. It’s peaceful and oh-so pretty; just make sure you’ve left enough space in your hand luggage to take home a goodie or two from here.

This is the morning to explore the New Town – the side of Edinburgh that really came to prominence in the 1800s. Take in the exquisite Georgian architecture, and shop to your heart’s content in the gorgeous boutiques and high-end stores on George Street.

Saturday lunchtime

If your tummy is rumbling after all that shopping, stick to the New Town and head to Thistle Street, for a taste of Mexico in the heart of Edinburgh. El Cartel has been getting rave reviews since it opened, and is a great spot for a light lunch and a tasty cocktail. Be warned, you may have to queue for a table, since the restaurant is the size of most people’s living rooms, but it’s a cosy spot that looks great on Instagram too. Order one of the frozen daiquiris, some guacamole to share and the cod tacos for sure.

Saturday afternoon

Work off those cocktails with a stroll up to the National Museum of Scotland, over in the Old Town. On the way, you’ll see the stunning architecture of the castle and stroll the cobbled streets of the world-famous Royal Mile – just try to dodge the coachloads of tourists and those gawping at street performers if you can.

The National has just been named as the city’s most popular attraction, and it’s easy to see why. It’s packed with interesting exhibits from nature and science to fashion, culture and Scottish history, and it’s also one of the most picturesque museums you’re likely to visit – be sure to take a snap from one of the balconies of the impressive, sunlit gallery. It’s worth the wait for the single lift on the fifth floor to take you up to the rooftop, where you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous view over the city and a prime opportunity to inundate your Instagram followers with what they’re missing out on.

Doughnut date 😍🍩😍🍩

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After your exploration, take the stroll back the way you came, but take a detour to the new Waverley Arches development, behind the train station. Here, a number of boutiques and small businesses have set up shop – so you can pick up some beautiful homewares or gifts in Elk & Wolf, a cold-pressed juice in Juice Warrior, or, if you’re feeling particularly naughty, a decadent doughnut and a hot coffee in Baba Budan (seriously, how good do they look?!).

Saturday evening

If you don’t mind the wait, Dishoom is the perfect spot for a twist on the traditional Saturday-night curry. Newly-opened on St Andrew’s Square, this three-floor restaurant offers a tapas-style Indian dining experience that’s perfect for couples who don’t mind sharing. Staff are incredibly friendly and the food is first-rate and well-priced. Don’t miss out on the Chicken Ruby, the grilled Chicken Tikka and the luxurious Garlic Naan – and if you like a little fizz with your dinner, the Bollybellini is sublime.

For something a little more intimate, you might like Cafe St Honore; a Parisian-style bistro tucked away in one of Thistle Street’s side lanes. Indulge in authentic French fare in a snug and very romantic atmosphere.

When your tummies are full, head down to Queen Street and ensconce yourself in a cosy corner at Bramble, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar which has frequently been voted among the best in the world. The bar has a very extensive menu, so to save time – be sure to try the Butter-Scotch and The Bright Side – both are beautiful. This is a very easy bar to while away your Saturday night in, away from the chill!

Sunday morning

It’s time to shake off that headache! Clear your head with a bracing walk up one of Edinburgh’s stunning hills – but be sure to bring some goodies with you. I love Soderberg on Broughton Street, where you can fill your bag with Swedish-style breakfast pastries and tasty treats ready to take on your walk. If you’re really looking to reach the top in style, take a mini bottle of champagne too!

For inexperienced hillwalkers, Calton Hill is the obvious choice. Just at the end of Princes Street is one of the city’s most famous viewpoints – this is the spot where almost all of those beautiful images of Edinburgh are taken. Dash up the steps and take in a glorious view of the city with your breakfast picnic to share.

If you’re slightly hardier than the average townie (I am not one of these people), then Arthur’s Seat is the Sunday morning walk for you. Most Edinburgh citizens will tell you this is no big deal and that it’s an easy walk – but as a Londoner whose highest hilltop experience was Primrose Hill, I am here to tell you to ignore them. Bring proper shoes and prepare for a hike. It doesn’t take too long to do and weather-permitting, it isn’t particularly treacherous – but the views from the top are worth any exertion getting there, I promise.

Sunday afternoon

If you can face any more walking after your hill-hike experience, it’s worth taking a slow stroll through town and up to the ancient Dean Village, which is absolutely beautiful. Wander along the Water of Leith and into Stockbridge, where you can enjoy the Farmer’s Market. Fill up on any number of delicious snacks and treats – from fresh pizza to lobster rolls, pies, coffee and patisseries, plus a huge number of local artisans selling their wares too.

Post-market, take a taxi back over to the Old Town, where you can really get exploring. This area of Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its 16th-century architecture, and there is so much to look at and find. From the twisty, hidden little lanes branching off of the Mile, to the incredible, awe-inspiring St Giles Cathedral. Literature lovers should take the tour of important spots for Edinburgh’s authors in the Old Town, while Harry Potter fans might like to go on the hunt for important spots that inspired the series – from the cafe where it was written, to the school that inspired Hogwarts and the graveyard where the original Tom Riddle is buried…

After your explorations, rest your feet and relax at one of the city’s most beloved cake spots: Lovecrumbs. Just up from the Grassmarket, this cosy coffee shop offers some of the most delicious cakes I’ve eaten anywhere. Expect unusual flavour combinations and exotic ingredients, along with fresh local coffee, for a gorgeous way to unwind after an activity-packed morning and afternoon.

Sunday evening

Before you head off to catch your train or flight home, there’s always time for pizza. Civerino’s on the Royal Mile is often noted as the city’s best pizza place, and it’s easy to see why. Fresh dough and fresh ingredients, served by fabulously friendly staff. It’s the ideal way to finish off your trip and stave off hunger for the journey home.

So there you have it – the ideal way to spend a weekend in Edinburgh! The best bit is, even after you’ve spent your weekend here, you still won’t have seen even half of the city in total, let alone all of the stunning places surrounding it – so you’ll always have an excuse to make a return visit in the not-too-distant future…

Wardrobe Wishlist: March

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GINGHAM DRESS | GINGHAM BLOUSE | SUEDE BAG

BALLET FLATS | SLOGAN TEE | JUMPER | SWEATER

A new month, and time again for another wardrobe wishlist!

This month’s wishlist seems to be very Parisian; I think it’s inspired by my upcoming trip to the city of light. A pretty simplistic colour palette, with pops of colour, minimal shapes and limited print – the perfect Parisian capsule wardrobe, wouldn’t you agree?

I am loving the high street’s Spring offering so far; retro gingham is one of my favourite prints and the high street is awash with it. It was actually very difficult to whittle it down to these two pieces! I love this subtly ruffled blouse and this dynamite sundress, which is just so gorgeous… like Lana Del Rey at a barbecue.

Slogans aren’t usually my thing, but I am obsessed with this navy La Redoute sweater (I actually just snapped it up with their 30% off code!) and can see it working throughout Spring. And this Mango tee, with its not-so-subtle Bowie homage, is just too much fun to resist.

Accessories-wise, I’ve wanted a pair of dusky pink, satin ribbon ballet flats for years – I can actually remember painstakingly stitching ribbons onto a pair of plain pink ballet flats about ten years ago! These Topshop ones will make the process far easier, I’m sure. And who could ignore this gorgeous emerald green suede bag? It would be the perfect bag to take to Paris with me in May – super chic, big enough for the essentials and far cheaper than it looks!