A Little (Big) Announcement

I’m launching a brand-new blog!

Yes, that is indeed correct – as of today, Frocks & Flowers will be no more. I wanted you, my band of lovely, loyal readers to be the first to know, and to point you in the direction of my brand-new blog, The Style Stories.

2017 marks ten years of blogging for me. From the hazy days of 2007, where I spent my first summer in Scotland mostly alone and holed up in my bedroom, escaping loneliness that felt like it would never end by reading the daily escapades of people like Susie, Elisabeth and many more – to today, where I blog to make sure that my love for writing has an outlet, and to create something that’s truly mine.

After these ten years, and many different guises,  now’s the time to start afresh and create a new space that reflects who I am now. I started Frocks & Flowers just as I was about to graduate university, and four years later, things are hugely different now and I am too.

My new blog will still be a mix of fashion, beauty, travel and interiors, but with a little more ‘me’ sprinkled on the pages, and a more grown-up (and hopefully more sophisticated) approach to things – I’ll also be sharing food reviews, lifestyle tips and anything else that pops up and takes my fancy. I just hope you’ll join me on the journey!

I want to finish off by saying thank-you to each and every one of you that’s read my words, liked these posts, saved them to come back to later or followed the blog – it’s so surreal knowing that there are literally hundreds of you that have enjoyed what I’ve shared on these pages.

I hope to see you on the other side! Join me at www.thestylestories.co.uk from today x


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?

Skincare Saviours


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.

New In: Beauty Basics


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?

Revlon Color Stay Foundations – Velvet Matte vs Satin Finish

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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?!

Bedside Beauty Must-Haves

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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?






Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix Highlighting Sticks

frocks and flowers edinburgh beauty blog edinburgh lifestyle blog edinburgh blogger Revlon's PhotoReady Insta-Fix Highlighting Stick review

The worst thing you could say about my complexion? “Matte”. It’s a no-go area for me. Matte is flat, matte is crap.

What I love is a fresh, dewy, healthy glow – anytime of the year, for any and every occasion. My look just isn’t ‘done’ without it. And while I’ve been in a long-term love affair with No.7’s Instant Radiance Champagne Crayon for around three years now, there’s always room in my stash for another stick of glowy goodness to try.

Such space was made for the new-ish release of Revlon’s PhotoReady Insta-Fix Highlighting Sticks, which piqued my interested immediately. This collection currently comprises two shades – Gold Light and Pink Light.

I received Gold Light as part of a GWP just before Christmas, and while the shade is a little too dark and golden for my porcelain winter skin, I really loved the creamy formulation. One quick swipe of this stick, quickly smudged in with fingertips, creates a soft-focus glow that catches the light beautifully, without being at all glittery or sparkly. It takes a fair bit of smudging to get this shade to look natural on my skin, but I imagine that in the summer, or on a more olive-based skintone, it would work beautifully to create a really healthy, sunkissed radiance.

I ordered the Pink Light version this week to see how it would compete with the golden version, and this is much more suited to my winter skintone. This soft, pearlescent pink is really subtle on my pale skin and creates a beautiful soft glow. It’s subtle (it needs a few swipes to get a noticeable effect), and while it’s definitely sparklier than its golden sister, there’s still no obvious glitter particles. It just radiates. 

Overall, I really like both of the PhotoReady Insta-Fix highlighters; Pink Light is definitely more suited to my skintone but both shades are flattering and easy to blend. Creamy, velvety and perfectly radiant, either would be a sensible addition to make to your highlighter stash.

Have you tried the Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix Highlighting Sticks?