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!

New In: Beauty Basics

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I’ve mentioned many times before that I tend to be a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to beauty and skincare. However, every now and again I go a bit crazy and try a whole host of new things – with varying success levels, it has to be said. After a bit of an unsuccessful dabble with new beauty buys at the end of last year, I think I can say I’ve had a little more luck with my latest beauty haul – and the reason why? Some of these purchases aren’t technically “new” at all…

I was a huge devotee to the original Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation for years and years – I loved the low-to-medium coverage and the dewy finish, its build-ability and its price point. When I ran out of my last bottle last year, and my local Boots didn’t have any more in stock (it appears I’m not the only fan!), I took a chance on the Revlon ColorStay foundations instead. You can read my review on those here – basically, good but not great, and I had to mix two formulas to get anywhere near the kind of base that I like. Not ideal. When I heard that Bourjois had reformulated Healthy Mix, I was dubious about it – but with my patience running out with Revlon, I decided to give it a go.

And? It’s actually even better than the original! That same level of coverage, to hide tired skin and even out the complexion, without masking the skin underneath – I have always loved that my light freckles are visible through this foundation. But somehow, skin looks fresher and dewier, and I found that the base lasted all day long. My previous bugbear with the old formula had been that it tended to oxidise slightly if worn all day, but so far, no such issues. I am sold, all over again! I’m the lightest shade, no 51 Vanille Clair for reference.

Along with a lighter base for Spring, I wanted to try a lighter concealer too. I’m a lover of Collection’s Lasting Perfection Concealer, and while I can’t see that changing any time soon, I prefer to use something a little more hydrating on the eye area when the warmer weather rolls around. This concealer is like a blanket, totally smothering dark circles, redness and blemishes – perfect for a heavier foundation but perhaps too much on a dewy, glowy base. Once I was convinced by the Healthy Mix foundation, I thought about reverting to the new-formula HM concealer too (loved this years ago, before full-time work gave me darker eyes than my uni days!) – but then I spotted the sleek packaging and alluring name of the Radiance Reveal concealer. It was love at first swipe, dear readers – blended with thermal spring water and hyaluronic acid, it’s seriously hydrating, very fluid and just so light. I have used this a few times now and it’s everything I look for in a concealer. There’s no creasing, no caking, no fading away – just luminous, bright-looking skin all day long. I picked Ivory and it’s perfect, slightly lighter than my foundation for a really perky, bright-eyed finished look. I wouldn’t use this on blemishes or obvious redness (Lasting Perfection is always my weapon of choice for those kinds of issues) but for creating fresh, glowy eyes it’s ideal.

Of course, for any base, primer is an essential. I absolutely love L’Oreal Infallible Mattifying Base, so it’s no surprise to see a new tube in this haul, to replenish my nearly-finished tube in my makeup bag. If you like that silicone-type of primer, like the renowned Smashbox primer, you’ll love this. It’s perfect for making sure makeup sticks all day. But (kind-of) new to the stash? L’Oreal’s Lumi Magique Pure Light Primer. I say kind-of new; I last used this primer back in around 2014, so it’s been due a restock in my beauty arsenal. Sometimes I really like to ramp up the radiance, and this pearly-white primer is pure glow. It actually does a pretty good job of keeping makeup in place, but I’ll likely be mixing this with the Infallible primer for a glistening base that sticks fast.

Mascara-wise, I have been forced to try something new in this haul, and so far, so good – although I’m still wary of singing its praises too much. I went to repurchase my beloved L’Oreal Lash Architect mascara, but found that it had sold out (do we sense a theme emerging?), so after a long process of analysing each one in the stand, I went for the False Lash Superstar Red Carpet. Terrible name, great mascara. I’ve always quite liked those double-ended ones, with the white primer and the black topcoat, and this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve tried. One coat of white and two of black creates thick, fluttery lashes, and the flexible formula makes it really easy to reapply; plus it doesn’t flake or smudge, despite not being waterproof. So far, so good – hopefully it stays flexible and non-flaky as the formula dries and thickens.

My final new beauty purchase is one that I’ve invested quite a lot of optimism into; I’m really hoping that this product does what it promises to. After years of rave reviews and wondering, I’ve hopped on to the bandwagon (about five years after every other beauty blogger) and purchased La Roche-Posay’s Effaclar Duo +. My reason for lateness? I’ve never really suffered with spots before; I’d always been lucky that my skin was clear and besides the occasional hormonal blemish, nothing really caused me a problem with my skin. But for the last few months, I’ve been suffering with those horrible under-the-skin blemishes on my chin that won’t disappear, and I know they’re down to nothing but hormones. I’ve heard that this is one of the best products for dealing with those kind of spots, and I’m really hoping this is the case. After only a couple of uses, smaller bumps have disappeared and the larger ones are much less red and angry – so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Have you tried any of these items?

Monthly Favourites: February 2017

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MY FAVOURITE THINGS

SKINCARE

With my brother’s wedding only around ten weeks away now, I’m really starting to think about my skincare, and how to ensure I have a clear, blemish-free and glowing complexion in all of the photographs. To combat those pesky hormonal breakouts, I was recommended to try adding some acids into my skincare routine, and after some research, I decided to take baby steps and start with Nip+Fab’s Glycolic Fix Extreme Pads. Packed with AHAs and BHAs, these pads are designed to decongest skin and create a more even, brighter complexion. After two weeks of use, I have definitely noticed the difference in the texture and look of my skin – and while they haven’t necessarily prevented breakouts, they have dried out the blemishes and evaporated them in record time. If anyone has any recommendations to quash hormonal breakouts I would love to hear them!

I’ve also been loving a new facial oil to add some moisture back into my routine; Ermana’s Renew Face Oil* is seriously impressive and feels like a real treat to use. I’ve been adding this into my evening skincare routine post-acids, to boost moisture and generally give my skin a bit of a lift. It’s a really luxe, silky oil and is completely natural too – it gets a very big thumbs-up from me!

BEAUTY

I don’t want to keep harping on about this wedding, but it is shaping so many of my decisions at the moment! My bridesmaid’s dress is red, and when I initially tried it on, I was wearing red lipstick. My soon-to-be sister-in-law loved the two together so I’ve set about trying to find the perfect matching red to last me through the day – and I think I’ve found it. NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo; a bright, vibrant, blue-based red that has a seriously glamorous feel about it, in a velvety formula that sets matte and lasts for DAYS. I’m just trying to ration it so I don’t use it all before the big day…

NEW PURCHASE

Zara’s sale didn’t hold much wonder for me this season, but I did manage to snap up one of my favourite purchases of the season before they sold out… These white leather heels are just perfect. Chunky wooden heel, pointed toe and unbelievably comfy – I know I’m going to get so much wear out of these, once it warms up in Edinburgh! The best bit was that they were reduced to just £12.99 down from £50-ish. They’re sold out online but you might have luck in store! I also purchased the Instagram blouse of the season – this unbelievably fun and frivolous floral embroidered blouse. It is Spring personified and I am so excited to wear this!

ITEM OF CLOTHING

Honestly? My Gap merino sweatpants. It’s been a cold month, and an expensive month, so we’ve been staying in most nights and trying to stay in at least one day at the weekend, to save money. So while my fancier clothes aren’t getting much of an airing, I am basically living in these sweatpants in the evenings and/or on a Sunday, and they are the comfiest things I have ever owned. Gap usually reissue them every season so keep an eye out – I got mine for £15 in the sale last year and they are one of the best purchases I have ever made. Who needs pyjamas when you have these?!

SHOP

I had spied Life Story in Broughton on a few Instagram accounts of late, and I kept meaning to pop in, without properly knowing where it was – so when we stumbled across it while walking through town a few weeks ago, we just had to pop in. It is the most beautiful shop – especially if you’re into your interiors and that effortless Scandi style. The boutique is packed with stationery and homewares that are meticulously chosen and beautifully presented, so if you don’t leave with a wishlist spiralling into the hundreds, you’re doing something wrong.

TV SHOW

We have become a little bit obsessed with the brilliant BBC One drama Taboo. Created by and starring Tom Hardy (swoon), it’s a really dark, Gothic drama that holds you in suspense throughout. I won’t say much more than this for fear of ruining it, but Tom Hardy plays James Delaney, the presumed-dead son of a trading magnate who returns to London after his father’s death and proceeds to do whatever the hell he wants to do. It is dark and twisted and so, so good. The entire series will be on the BBC iPlayer for a while yet and I urge you to watch it. “I have a use for you…”

MUSIC

After saying last month that Lianne La Havas’ ‘Blood’ on vinyl was on my wishlist, Lewis went and bought it as my Valentine’s gift, and I have been playing it ever since. It sounds just as gorgeous as I hoped it would. Highly recommended!

FOOD & DRINK

I’m still on a bit of a journey to shift some extra pounds, and while I’ve lost over half a stone so far (go me!) there’s still a little way to go before I hit the target in my head. One thing I’ve found really useful is Slimming World’s recipes, as you know they’ll be low in fat and packed with vegetables and goodness. I absolutely love the recipe for their Easy Chicken Curry – it tastes delicious and so authentic, and adding in some natural yoghurt at the end gives it the perfect finishing touch. Great for satisfying those takeaway cravings without the guilt, check out the recipe here.

READ

While we’ve been staying in this month a bit more than usual, it’s been a really good time to catch up on my reading and find some great new writers online. I’ve got Emma Cline’s The Girls on my bedside table for my night-time reading, but I also found Ella Risbridger and her fantastic column for The Pool this month. It’s beautifully written, so touching, sometimes devastatingly sad and at times so heart-burstingly happy – you can read the back catalogue here.

TREAT

A trip to Paris! A treat in the purest sense of the word. We’ve booked a weekend away in my favourite city in May, and this time we’re going with another couple. It should be so much fun and I’m really looking forward to some time away, just the four of us.

Revlon Color Stay Foundations – Velvet Matte vs Satin Finish

Frocks and Flowers edinburgh lifestyle blog edinburgh beauty blog revlon colorstay velvet matte combination skin revlon colorstay satin finish best foundation for oily skin best foundation for dry skin

It’s not often I’ll write a foundation review; I’ve enjoyed both the Bourjois Healthy Mix and 123 Perfect CC Cream for a couple of years now and felt no need to swap either one out of my daily routine. However, when I couldn’t buy either recently, I took a chance on a new base: the Revlon Color Stay Foundation.

This foundation comes in two variations – Oily/Combination and Dry/Normal. I was dithering over these choices and decided to go for both, in shade Ivory. The Oily/Combination formula is described as having a ‘velvet matte’ finish, while the Dry/Normal gives a lighter satin finish, both offering medium to full coverage.

Initially I was using the O/C formula; the liquid is thick and velvety, easy to blend generally but I had some trouble blending it into my nose and chin, which are usually the oilier areas of my face. I found that it was better tapping it into these areas, rather than blending, and following it up with a layer of the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer.

For the first few weeks of using the O/C version exclusively, I really liked the finish; it was more matte than the light, dewy finish of my previous Bourjois bases but looked nice once it was set. However, in the last week or so I just haven’t been able to get along with it in the same way – powder looks too heavy on it, it’s dried out my nose to flakes and even with a primer and setting spray combo that’s usually infallible, my face has just been eating it up so there’s nothing left by 5pm. For a foundation designed to combat oily skin, I can’t say that I’m that impressed, sadly.

Driven to distraction by my suddenly-flaky, dry complexion (not sure if this is being caused by the weather, heating or something else at the moment!) I decided to delve back into the drawer and try the Dry/Normal formulation.

This is a much thinner, lighter formula – definitely more of a satin than a velvet! It’s far easier to blend too, but I don’t feel like it gives any less coverage than its heavier sister. Concealer and powder seems to sit better on top of the N/D formula, and so far, it seems to outlast the O/C version too. It’s definitely more hydrating but something still wasn’t quite right for me.

I’ve not been blown away by either formula, which is a shame as the shade match is so perfect. But in the last few days I have found a little hack that seems to make a world of difference – mixing the two formulas together and applying with a brush has created a base with medium-full coverage, a slightly glowy but velvety finish and absolutely no dryness at all. Perhaps Revlon should just release a one-size-fits-all formula and have done with it?!

A Stylish New Accessory

frocks and flowers edinburgh lifestyle blog edinburgh fashion blog style blog edinburgh blogger kate spade watch review

It’s safe to say that, when I was unwrapping my Christmas presents a few weeks back, I certainly wasn’t expecting to see this! My darling Lewis had already totally spoiled me with most of the items on my wishlist (purchased before I’d even written that post!) so I thought I’d had my fill. But a Kate Spade watch? Totally not on my radar – but I’m so glad it was on his!

Blush pink leather, gold hardware and a gently shimmering mother of pearl face – the three dream components for a watch in my opinion, so the Metro watch was the perfect choice.

I’ve been wearing this basically every day since Christmas; the pale blush tone goes with absolutely everything in my wardrobe and makes it a gorgeous option for a daytime watch (see here and here for examples!). It’s sleek and chic and so feminine – and the little details, such as the tiny spade at the ’12’ space and on the arm, give me all the heart-eyes!

Do you wear a watch?

Bedside Beauty Must-Haves

frocks and flowers edinburgh beauty blog edinburgh lifestyle blog edinburgh blogger bedside beauty must haves body shop serum review pure spa serum review this works pillow spray review

frocks and flowers edinburgh beauty blog edinburgh lifestyle blog edinburgh blogger bedside beauty must haves body shop serum review pure spa serum review this works pillow spray review

My bedside beauty routine is something of a finely-honed art; it’s taken much experimentation to get to the point where I’ve found those products that just do the job, without costing an absolute fortune.

The first of those is of course, my trusty The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum In Oil, which I’ve now been using for about two years (and have mentioned here, here and here before!). Whether my skin is feeling dry, irritated or blemished, this oil is always the one I reach for. It’s incredibly lightweight as an oil but its results are so strong – whenever I use this, I wake up in the morning with glowing, soft and plump skin. I’ve been increasing my dose of this recently as the wintry weather here in Edinburgh has meant my skin has dried out more than usual, but a few drops of this and a good five minutes spent massaging it in, works absolute wonders. It’s delicate on sensitive or irritated skin, and while it doesn’t stop or prevent blemishes, it does help the scars to fade much faster.

I might only be 25, but prevention is better than cure I feel, so I’ve invested a fair bit of time into finding the right eye cream too. My eyes tend to really show if I’m not hydrated; I get these tiny crepey lines that makeup settles into, and they are so annoying and unflattering. The best thing I’ve found to combat these (along with upping my water intake!) is PURE Spa’s Regenerate & Boost Eye Serum*, which is absolutely packed with argan oil. It’s a fairly heavy oil which is unusual for eyes, but this definitely does the job – a single drop is enough to use on both eyes, and I just pat it gently under the eyes, around the edges, and over the eyelids for maximum hydration. After a couple of weeks’ use I really noticed the difference, under my eyes especially, so I now use a drop every night. You can check out what I thought of the rest of the PURE Spa skincare range here.

Finally, I have become a recent convert to a cult classic – This Works’ Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. I had always been intrigued by the idea, but never wanted to part with £20 for something I wasn’t sure worked – so when I got my mitts on a mini sample I was excited to try it out. Suffice to say, the hype is well-deserved, and every night that I’ve used it, I’ve noticed a real difference in the quality of my sleep. I don’t use it every night, but on those nights where I feel a little tense or more awake than I’d like to be, I spritz it a few times on my pillow and prepare to slumber down! I’ll certainly be buying the full size when this little mini bottle of magic runs out.

What are your bedside beauty must-haves?