Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Flying Solo: My Experience & Top Tips

Flying Solo Travel Tips

I recently flew on my own for the first time and despite being 25 years old, there was still a little bit of me that felt like Kevin McAllister in Home Alone 2, even more so as I was heading to New York on my own. Despite always enjoying the experience of travelling, mostly because I know that I'm going somewhere exciting, I totally understand why others might find even the notion of attempting to do it on your own scary, stressful or downright unnecessary but I'm happy to report back that it was none of those things, well most of the time but I'll go into that in a minute.

For me the most important thing was taking the stress out of it (even though I did almost miss check-in on the way home when a 45 minute drive to the airport took 2 and a half hours!) but overall, I really enjoyed flying solo. And here is why I thought that, as well as my top tips to make it a pleasant experience instead of something to fear or worry about;

Get used to be overly organised

Having always flown with my family before, I was used to my Dad handling all of the important documents such as passports, boarding passes, ESTAs, travel insurance, etc. Travelling on my own meant that I was responsible for absolutely everything that I needed with me from the important stuff to all my snacks, which I usually offload into my Mum or brother's bags. If your hand luggage or personal item can get a little unorganised, to say the least, I'd definitely recommend investing in a travel document holder. I went for this one from Paperchase but there are lots of different options out there, of which here are a few of my favourites;

Arrive at the airport in plenty of time

Don't chance it and arrive at the airport an hour before your flight takes off. Check what your specific airline advises time-wise. So for example, when flying to the US, they normally ask you to arrive 3 hours in advance (at least Virgin Atlantic, United and Delta do, who I've flown with in the past). Not having to worry about getting caught in traffic or there being huge lines at security and you possibly missing a flight, is one added stress you don't need. Thankfully I had no issues on my flight from Glasgow but it was a different story on the way home and I definitely would have missed my flight had I not followed this rule.

I knew that getting out of Manhattan could be quite problematic, especially as I was going through the Lincoln Tunnel and when I'd ventured out to Woodbury Commons earlier in the week the trip took double the time that had been estimated. I arranged for a car to pick me up 4 hours before my flight, thinking that it would take an hour max. to get to the airport. I couldn't thank myself enough for doing this and for being ready to go that bit earlier that day. As mentioned above, the drive took 2 and a half hours, meaning I was only there with an hour and a half to go and just over 30 minutes until check-in closed. Even though I was cutting it pretty fine and didn't have enough time to go grab food at another terminal like I had planned, I made it and could relax when I got there. Always make sure to leave a time allowance for traffic or possible crashes, if you're travelling by car or know exactly when your train, for example, will arrive.

Book into an airport lounge

For some reason, I always thought that you had to be a millionaire or be flying first class to gain access to the airport lounges. That couldn't be further from the truth. If you've got several hours to wait before your flight, have a long layover or have arrived at the airport early, as advised, why not book into an airport lounge. It's definitely a treat yo' self moment but it can start off your holiday on the right foot and if you're prone to visiting a restaurant or stocking up on food and drink before you fly, it might be wise to pay that bit extra to access a lounge instead. As far as I can tell, most lounges offer complimentary food, drink, wifi, television access and lots of space to chill out and get comfortable before your flight. I'll definitely be booking myself into one on my next solo trip!

Do a walk through of your journey/connecting transportation

As this was my first time visiting New York and I had planned on getting public transport into the city from Newark, I found it extremely helpful to watch a few YouTube videos on how to make that very journey. I had to buy my train ticket from a ticket machine, take the Air Train, then take a New Jersey Transit train (not an AmTrak train, which also ran at the same time) to Penn Station, where I then had to get a taxi to my hotel. As a result of watching the videos, I knew exactly where I was going, which signs to follow and even had fellow travellers asking for my advice, despite being a first timer.

Solo Travel New York Tips

Ask for help if you need it

If you're travelling hand luggage only, like I was, or have a ridiculously heavy cabin bag or case, don't struggle to lift it up into the overhead bins on the plane and pull something or hurt yourself. Simply ask for some help from a fellow traveller or a steward. I basically have no upper body strength and was taking a cabin bag heavier than the checked bag I brought home, so there was no way I could do it on my own. As I found when it came to travelling solo in general, people are always happy to help, especially if you're struggling or in need of help. The same goes for if you're not sure if you're going the right way or if you feel anxious or lost.

Download things to keep you entertained, just in case

Even though I knew that I was going to be on a flight with seatback entertainment and plenty of movies, TV shows and music to choose from, I still decided to download a couple of episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from Netflix onto my phone. This is a feature that I only recently discovered but it allowed me to download shows to watch when I wasn't connected to WiFi, which is such a game changer of an idea. On my first flight I had the luck of being sat in a seat with a broken earphone socket and had there not been alternative seats I would have likely been stuck there without anything to keep me entertained. I did get a nice little upgrade to premium economy in the process though so it wasn't a total loss or a bad start to my trip, like it could have been.

Chance your arm at the check in desk

Speaking of upgrades, on my flight home I noticed that quite a few seats were showing as empty on the seat map at our gate. I decided to chance my arm and ask if it would be possible to change seats from the middle seat that I had originally been assigned to an aisle seat. The man behind the desk was more than happy to accomodate and switched my seat in seconds. As a solo traveller there's definitely more opportunity to try this kind of tactic, as it will be easier for them to move one person rather than a couple or whole family. You can imagine how absolutely over the moon I was when I sat in my new aisle seat only to find out that I had the whole row to myself! It definitely pays to ask, as my Mum would say; 'if you don't ask, you don't get'.

So there was my first experience of flying alone. It definitely had it's ups and downs but overall I would 100% do it again. I'm already planning where to visit next.

Have you ever flown on your own or travelled solo? What was your experience like? And would you like to see more blog posts on my solo travel experience, like how to get photos taken of yourself and how not to feel too lonely, for example?


Sunday, 20 August 2017

What I Bought At Bath & Body Works

Bath and body works haul 2017

One of my favourite stores to visit in the US is undoubtedly Bath & Body Works so of course I was going to make several trips during my holiday to NYC and that's exactly what happened. So here's what I bought at Bath & Body Works on this trip to the US;

Firstly, I was so excited to see what Bath & Body Works would have to offer in the warmer months, particularly as I'd never visited the US in the middle of Summer before. Normally I'm there just before Halloween so Bath & Body Works mainly smells of candy corn, cinnamon and pumpkin and I tend to come away with lots of spooky scents and products. But Bath & Body Works had just launched their new Summer collection when I first arrived and I absolutely fell in love with a particular product, so much so that I had to bulk buy it.

Bath and Body Works Sheer Body Oil

This is a sheer body oil but not as you know it. It's actually a foam! I can get quite lazy when it comes to applying body lotion on a regular or daily basis so I have a feeling that this will give me that extra nudge to start taking better care of my skin. I mean who wouldn't want to use a soft and creamy foam that's giving you the benefits of an oil? This is available in three different scents, all of which are new for the Summer but I just couldn't get enough of the Cabana Bay fragrance! Bath & Body Works say it smells like suntan lotion and fresh cotton towels and I would have to agree. It smells just like Summer!

Bath and body works hand sanitizer

Then I spotted these amazing BFF Pool Float Pocketbac Holders, which I quickly added to my basket. And since I bought the holders, I just had to pick up another five Pocketbacs for $6, even though I still have about five of them left from my trip to Orlando in October of last year. Poolside Pop was another one of the new Summer scents and my second favourite of the three so I had to pick the Pocketbac of it up. Then I got my Mum two glittery ones as she loves anything glittery and she hadn't tried these two before and I couldn't stop sniffing these sugar cookie scented ones which is why I added them to my basket too.

Bath and body works Beach Nights Summer Marshmallow

As I was heading towards the till with my bag of Summer goodies, I then spotted a sale section. Again, I'd never been during a sale period so I couldn't believe my luck that it was on. There were so many incredible deals to be had, with most of the stand having 70% off which meant that a body lotion, for example, went from being $13 to $3. I picked up the last Beach Nights Summer Marshmallow body lotion and shower gel in the store or in Manhattan for that matter and it really does smell as good as it sounds, if not better. I can't wait to use these in the colder months!

So there you have it. I don't think I went too crazy, especially as this trip wasn't really about shopping, like my holidays to Orlando so often are.

What do you think of my Bath & Body Works haul? Which product looks like your favourite? Do you wish they shipped to the UK? And would you like to see my Glossier or my general US haul next?


Friday, 18 August 2017

Planning My Travel Resolutions For 2018

Top of the rock photo tips

When Inntravel got in touch to ask if I was already thinking about my 2018 New Year's resolutions, it took me a couple of minutes to realise that there really are only four (yes FOUR!) months of 2017 left, which is more than a little bit scary. They also wanted to see how I was getting on with my 2017 resolutions, which is what inspired today's post.

At the end of 2016, I really only made one New Year's resolution, one which I decided to keep to myself this year, unlike other years (see 2015 and 2016) and that was to really give blogging and freelance writing full time all my energy in 2017. And whilst I did get off to a bit of a slow start at the beginning of the year due to ill health, from March onward I've tracked every affiliate payment that clears each month (which admittedly is only a couple of pounds a month but it all adds up), every sponsored post payment I've received (normally after doing a fare bit of chasing as the 30 day payment window approaches) as well as making a conscious decision to reach out to brands and PR companies to discuss the possibility of paid collaborations. I've also been keeping a note of the odd amount of money that I make on eBay and Depop each month and when you add it all together I'm now making as much as I used to make at my part time job, if not a little bit more, which is something I never thought I'd be able to say.

If you'd like to know more about how I've been monetising my content, let me know as I've definitely got some top tips even if you're just wanting to make a little bit of extra money to pay for your next shopping trip or to put towards something you're saving for.

Planning for next year, I definitely want to check a few more of the travel related goals off my 30 before 30 list and to work on getting that bit fitter, like I imagine most people say each January 1st. After travelling on my own to NYC and managing to do everything from catching my flight to not getting lost on the Subway and walking 20,000+ steps every day, it's made me even more determined to solo travel again. Inntravel are all about planning ahead, so for example, booking a walking holiday now for when January comes along. That way you're sure to start the New Year off on the right foot (pardon the walking pun). As a solo traveller, I was really happy to hear that Inntravel's walking holidays are for individuals, not groups and that you can take your pick of the routes suggested each day and walk at entirely your own pace. The Canary Islands and Lanzarote & La Graciosa walking holidays in particular look and sound incredible.

Have you thought about your 2018 New Year's resolutions? How have you been getting on with this year's ones? Do you have any holidays planned for 2018? And would you like to hear more about how to monetise your blog?

Written in collaboration with Inntravel


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

What's New In My Haircare Routine

best hair care products for dry frizzy hair

Back in April I shared what was new in my haircare routine and since then I've made quite a few more discoveries that I just had to share with you.

As I mentioned in that previous post, I find that after a couple of weeks or months, my hair starts to get used to a particular product or products and then it no longer works as well for me and my hair. As a result, I feel like I'm always switching different products in and out of my routine and these are the ones that I've been using since we last spoke;

bumble and bumble don't blow it thick paul mitchell dry wash

First up we have a product that I had been dying to try for years now; the Bumble and bumble Don't Blow It Thick (H)air Styler. I'd been umming and ahhing about trying the original Don't Blow It (H)air Styler but was worried that it might not work for me and my rather thick hair. But as soon as I heard they were releasing a thick version I was immediately on board and I have to say, I'm so glad I waited for this version. If you're trying to avoid using heat on your hair, whether that be a hairdryer, curling iron or straightener, you need to try this out! It also smells incredible and gives me that just stepped out of the hairdressers look but from the comfort of my home.

I've also found a new favourite when it comes to dry shampoo in the form of Paul Mitchell's Dry Wash*. If you're looking to invest in a really reliable dry shampoo, this is it. There's no white powdery residue, it doesn't leave the hair feeling crunchy or laden with product and you can also get it in a great little travel size, if you prefer. A definite hit for me and my rather lazy approach to washing my hair more than twice a week.

best products for frizzy hair

Talking of laziness, I often forget to allow for the added steps that literally take a couple of seconds more of my time, when it comes to my hair. And one of those added steps is heat protection. I don't know the last time I blow dried my hair but I regularly use my ghds to smooth and style my hair. It truly takes something special to give me that much needed push to add another step to my routine and that's exactly what the Lee Stafford Coco Loco Coconut Heat Protection Mist* is. The fact that it smells like coconuts, alone, is enough to make me want to grab it every time I style my hair. And I do find that the scent lingers, which is a definite bonus especially in the warmer months!

I've been trying to have a little 'look after myself' night each week, normally on a Sunday or even a Saturday night, where I basically pamper myself a little. I pop on a sheet mask, an episode or six of Sex and the City and put my laptop and phone down. And this month I added a hair mask to my little routine. The mask in question, the new Tresemme Keratin Smooth Deep Smoothing Mask. If you've been reading Ellis Tuesday for years now, you might remember the Keratin Smooth Shampoo making it into my 2014 beauty favourites way back then and I've used it on and off ever since then. This does exactly what I'd want from such a mask and gives my hair that much needed added boost for the week to come.

Talking of dry hair again, I spotted this Creme Serum from Dove, which are a brand I'd never thought of trying for their hair products before and again, added it to my basket. I did so as I had over £10 of Boots points burning a hole in my pocket and I'm so glad that I did. This honestly feels like such a dupe for the Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream, that I featured in my last haircare routine post. And I have to say, I feel like this one worked better for me and my dry hair. My Mum has also been caught swiping this from my shelf in the bathroom as well so clearly we're both big fans.

Shampoo and conditioner for dry frizzy hair

Speaking of coconut scented products again, I spotted a 'new in' stand at Boots with a new haircare brand that I hadn't heard anything about before but after a quick sniff, I knew that I had to try it. It was also on promotion too, so that didn't hurt. I cannot rave about this Coconut Milk Shampoo from Maui Moisture enough! It is so so good, incredibly nourishing and it seems to help my hair detangle even as I'm lathering it up in the shower, which I've never experienced before. Has anyone else heard of Maui Moisture before? They have different products for different hair types too, so they're definitely well worth checking out if you spot them at Boots on your next shopping trip.

When I saw that Garnier had brought out a new range for dry, frizzy hair I basically let out a little 'hallelujah' in the haircare aisle at Boots. This is my exact hair type and I normally find that other ranges which focus on frizz also assume that your hair is damaged, which mine isn't, it's more dry/lacking moisture than anything else. I was in the market for a new conditioner so I quickly added this to my basket and I can't get enough of this product! Even if I don't add any smoothing products, of which I've featured a few in this post, I feel confident in the way this and my new Maui Moisture shampoo leave my hair. I'm sorely tempted to try out the rest of the line, which includes a shampoo, a mask and an oil, to see if they're as impressive as this conditioner.

So that's what's new in my haircare routine. Let me know if you'd like to see how it changes in the colder months later in the year, particularly as my hair changes so much in the Autumn and Winter.

What's currently in your haircare routine? Have you tried any of the products in today's post? If so, what do you think of them? And would you like to see a blog post on my 'look after myself' nights?


Sunday, 13 August 2017

The August Love Me Beauty Edit

Love Me Beauty Reviews

I'm back with another Love Me Beauty edit and this one is easily one of it's best. Featuring two big beauty brands, ones which until very recently have been difficult to get a hold of here in the UK, this is definitely a great introduction to the two of them.

As with all of my Love Me Beauty reviews, I have an exclusive discount code to take 20% off your first order. All you have to do is enter the code ellis20 at the checkout to bag a real bargain.

So let's see exactly what's included in the August Love Me Beauty edit;

Kat Von D Makeup UK

Despite always having a good swatch when I used to check out Kat Von D at Sephora in the US and now at Debenhams here in the UK, I only own one Kat Von D product; the Lock It Creme Concealer. So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that the cult beauty brand would be featuring so heavily in this month's Love Me Beauty edit. I'd wanted to try out some of her Studded Kiss Lipsticks in the past but always got rather distracted by other brands and products whilst shopping at Sephora. This is such a lovely buttery lipstick and I love how pigmented it is. But did I really expect anything less from Kat and her makeup brand?

If you remember my NYC Sephora wishlist, you will also remember me saying that I really wanted to try out the Laura Mercier setting powder. But when I ended up spending as much as I did at Sephora, as seen in my NYC haul, there was no way that I could afford to splurge on it this time. As a result, I came home with no new setting powder but as if Love Me Beauty knew I was in need, this one from Kat Von D arrived with me. And I have to say, I like it a lot. I'm now really relieved that I didn't get enticed by the Laura Mercier option at Sephora.

I also love the fact that you can try out one of Kat's newly launched perfumes in either Saint or Sinner as part of this month's edit. It's also a great little sample size, especially when you consider the fact that you normally only get a tiny carded sample in most beauty boxes. The Saint scent, which I received, is such a pretty fragrance.

Buxom UK Debenhams

Buxom are another beauty brand that I've always been intrigued by so I was very happy to see them feature in this month's edit. I really like the brush on this Lash Mascara. It catches every lash, even the ones on my lower lashes and it wouldn't be a brand I would naturally gravitate towards when out shopping so this is definitely one of the benefits of trying products out from a beauty box or Love Me Beauty, in particular. Time and time again I'm impressed with the items and sizes that LMB choose to feature. They're not the run of the mill beauty box products at all either. The Full-On Lip Polish in Dolly is pretty as well but I haven't been reaching for it that much since I received it. But I guess I do have far too many other lip products to choose from which is why many a product gets lost at the bottom of a drawer or makeup bag.

Buxom, much like Kat Von D, are available exclusively at Debenhams here in the UK so if you've always want to try them out or have a swatch, definitely head to Debenhams.

Love Me Beauty Box

What do you think of this month's edit? Have you tried much from Kat Von D or Buxom? If so, what is worth trying out next? And do you also get overwhelmed/distracted when you visit Sephora?


Friday, 11 August 2017

How To Navigate The New York Subway

how to navigate the New York subway

Before I left for New York there was only one thing that I was worried about and that was getting lost on the Subway. No matter how many blog posts I read and YouTube videos I watched, I just couldn't get my head around it. So I'm going to break down how to navigate the New York Subway into what will hopefully be easy to follow tips and tricks and here they are;

Use Citymapper to map out your route

After trying a couple of different apps including Google Maps, I found that Citymapper was the most useful and reliable. All I had to do was input my start and end destinations and Citymapper would provide several different suggested routes. What I really liked about it was the fact that they tell you exactly what Subway entrance to enter/exit. This might not sound like such a big deal but when several of the stations have NW, NE, SW and SE exits and depending on which one you leave via you might be going in the complete wrong direction, knowing which one to use was beyond helpful. It also displays how many stops you'll be travelling, which I always made sure to screenshot so I could keep an eye out for my station. Not all trains have a board or screen that displays the next stop so this was definitely instrumental in me not getting off a stop too early or too late. This post wasn't sponsored by Citymapper, just in case you're wondering. I just found it the most helpful out of all the apps I tried and really relied on it when I was planning my journeys each day.

Look out for the green globes

First and foremost you'll need to find the Subway station you're travelling from. Sometimes they're halfway down a street in a place you've just walked past (this happened to me more times than I would like to admit), sometimes they're clearly indicated like in Times Square where there's a huge flashing Subway sign but most of the time you should be looking out for the green globes. These indicate a station entrance/exit, as do the green railings around them, I found. If you're really struggling to find one, I would definitely stop someone who looks like they know where they're going or even a street vendor to ask. Everyone I approached was happy to help.

Tips using New York subway

Know if you're going Uptown or Downtown

Even if you think you've found the right station, so for example 23rd Street station (as shown above), make sure you know if you're going Uptown or Downtown. Uptown would include places like Central Park and Times Square, Downtown would include places like Battery Park, Brooklyn and the Financial District.

Sometimes they can be on opposite sides of the street, other times they may be on the same side but at different intersections but know which way you're going. There always seem to be exceptions to the rules so there are stations which service both Uptown and Downtown trains. Basically if it doesn't specify Uptown or Downtown you can enter and go either way and if it does, make sure you enter the right one as you'll need to swipe and pay twice if you enter the wrong one. There are plenty of signs and you can always ask one of the station attendants or ever a fellow commuter if you're going the right way.

Check if you can get the express train or need the local

This, again, was something I was really worried about before visiting. The trains whizz past you so quickly that sometimes it's difficult to tell if it's an express or a local but try and look out for the board on the train's exterior. Other trains will alert you that this is the local or express train as you board however others don't. If you're using the Citymapper app it gives you an exact time for the train you should be taking so if it says 2mins until the R train you need to take, I would feel confident getting on that train without even having to double check but if you've taken a note of the train but not which one, it's always worth double checking. Saying all that though, even if you do get on the wrong train you can easily disembark at the next station and catch another train so try not to worry too much about this.

Connect to the free WiFi

I did get on an express by accident on my second day but realised almost immediately that I was on the wrong train. It was going in the same direction but missing out certain, slightly smaller stops (ie. not big tourist/commuter stations), however it was stopping at these larger stations so I got off at the next one and quickly reconnected to the free Transit WiFi to see what train I should take next. I didn't feel flustered or worried at all because I knew I could quickly and easily check which route to take next thanks to the free WiFi. This is especially helpful if you don't have data in the US, which I didn't so I made sure to make use of the free Transit WiFi whilst waiting on the platform.

If you're not sure where you're going don't leave the station

I accidentally read the wrong screenshot, which felt like such a silly mistake at the time and as a result got off at the wrong station. By the time I had realised I had already pushed through the turnstile and left the station. This isn't too much of an issue if you've got an unlimited or weekly Metrocard but if you're paying per ride, as I was on one of my last days, you'll have to swipe back into the station at the $2.75 fare. If I had just stayed on the platform or even gone up the stairs but not pushed through the turnstile, I could have just caught another train on one of the platforms without having to pay again.

So there you have it, those are my tips for navigating the New York Subway system. Hopefully they were helpful, especially as I really struggled to find a blog post similar to this before I left, which broke down the Subway experience into separate and easy to digest points.

Have you ever visited New York? If so, how did you find the Subway system? Do you have plans to visit New York one day? And are you enjoying my New York blog posts?


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow

charlotte tilbury unisex healthy glow uk

As someone who never ever tans, I do notice a little bit of a glow to my skin when I return from warmer climates. Sadly, however, that glow normally lasts for a couple of days and that's about it and then I'm back to being Casper the Friendly Ghost style pale. Even though I look so much more healthier and a little less corpse-like with a bit of a glow, I've struggled to find a product or self tanner that replicates that subtle glow. That was until I discovered the Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow.

charlotte tilbury unisex healthy glow

This colour-adapting tinted moisturiser is one of the dreamiest base products that I have ever tried. Not only does it give you that much sought after Summer glow but it also smoothes the skin, working almost like a primer to diminish any pores.

I started using this prior to visiting New York, mainly to see what it would look like on my normal skintone and have since used it on my return back to the UK. Despite slathering myself in factor 50 SPF each and every day during my trip to NYC, I certainly came back with a bit of a glow and quite a few more freckles and the Unisex Healthy Glow has seamlessly adapted to my post-holiday colour. I can't wait to maintain that shade thanks to this product and I'm already looking forward to looking sunkissed throughout the seasons but mainly in the Winter months when I'm even paler, if you can believe that.

I have swatched it on the back of my hand to show the type of natural glow it gives. As I mentioned above, it comes out of the tube as a white cream, which then instantly transforms into a golden goddess hue, one which blends out beautifully.

charlotte tilbury unisex healthy glow review

If there was ever going to be someone to solve the problem I had as a pale redhead, it was always going to be Charlotte Tilbury! And this is easily one of the best beauty products that I've tried, both this year and I think ever, which is quite the statement. I can definitely see myself repurchasing this product time and time again.

It is now available directly from Charlotte Tilbury and from retailers such as Feel Unique, Cult Beauty, SelfridgesHouse Of Fraser and John Lewis.

What do you think of the sound of this product? Are you a fan of Charlotte Tilbury and her range of makeup and skincare? And have you ever found a dreamy self tanning or bronzing product?


Sunday, 6 August 2017

What I Bought At Sephora In NYC

Sephora Haul 2017 Blog

Normally when I go to Sephora I'm relatively restrained with what I buy. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I'm usually shopping with my Mum in the Floridian malls and she always makes sure to ask me if I really need everything in my basket. I don't know how many times she's told me to put the Anastasia Brow Wiz back on previous trips. But this time I was totally unsupervised and as you can see, I definitely got a little spendy. So much so that I'm now VIB Rouge! Eeek! But I was just in the US less than a year ago so not all of the damage was done in this one trip, is what I keep telling myself anyway. But without further ado, here's what I bought at Sephora on this trip to the US;

FYI: I've linked to UK retailers where possible for the products available here in the UK, just in case you want to check them out or order them for the best price in the UK and in most cases, when taking into consideration the crappy exchange rate, it's actually cheaper to buy them here in the UK. But holiday money not feeling like real money is definitely why I just had to have the items there and then, of course...

Sephora Haul 2017

My main reason for visiting Sephora was to find a new concealer, having just run out of my holy grail Make Up For Ever HD Concealer, which has sadly changed a bit from it's original formula following a re-brand. That and to finally pick up the Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush, after leaving the US without it last time. After asking quite a few Sephora employees at several different Sephora's (of course I couldn't pass by a Sephora without paying it a visit on my travels), I went for the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly. I don't know how I'd managed to go this long without trying it! It's that good. It also didn't cling too much to drier patches under my eyes and on my cheeks, which I will go on to talk a bit more about below. I'm now quite tempted to try the Soft Matte Concealer, as a result.

Talking of dry patches, I had done a bit of research whilst making good use of the free hotel WiFi at CitizenM and had stumbled across the Sephora Smooth Finisher Exfoliating Bath Mitt and all of it's 5 star reviews. And after walking 20,000+ steps a day in NYC, I had to treat myself to the two Sephora Collection Foot Masks. I'll be sure to do a separate review blog post on all of these very soon as I have quite a bit to share on both of them.

When it came to makeup I didn't go too crazy (trust me I had about another 10 makeup items in my basket which I understandably put back). As you will already know if you read my review of the Urban Decay Naked Heat palette, I couldn't resist picking it up on holiday, especially as Sephora had it weeks before the UK launch. I've been using it that much that I didn't specifically keep it in my Sephora bag ready to be photographed, which is why it hasn't made it in photograph form, into today's post but you'll have already been inundated with reviews and blog posts over the past couple of weeks so hopefully it not featuring isn't a bad thing. I also justified this purchase by saying it would be for the blog. Do any other fellow bloggers do that too?

I also finally picked up a Makeup Eraser as I seem to be going through micellar makeup removal wipes at a ridiculous rate, so even though this was rather pricy, hopefully it will pay for itself eventually.

I'd wanted to try something from Marc Jacobs for a while as well and after giving the items in this adorable little set a swatch, I had to have it. The colour, Slow Burn, truly is a my lips but better shade and I have a feeling I'll be buying the full size of the lipliner from John Lewis as soon as I get through the little travel size.

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream - Deep Cleansing Exfoliator Review

As my concealer had been clinging to some dry skin under my eyes and on my cheeks, I was also in the market for something to help with that. I ended up going with Caudalie who have both a Gentle Buffing Cream, designed specifically for sensitive skin with softer exfoliation and a Deep Cleansing Exfoliator, which is nice and intensive without being too abrasive. I can already see myself repurchasing both of these as they have changed up my skincare routine in such a big way already.

Finally I got lured in by the travel section at the tills, like I always do and picked up a travel sized version of the Bumble and bumble Surf Spray, which I used when I was in the US since I was going heat-free when it came to my hair. And I have to say, I really like it. Maybe I'll need to put other surf sprays to the test this Summer. What do you think? Would you like to see such a blog post?

So there it is, my rather ridiculously large Sephora haul or at least large for me.

What do you think of what I managed to pick up? Is there anything you would like to try too in my haul? And have you tried anything in today's post already? If so, what do you think of that product or products?


Friday, 4 August 2017

My Top 10 New York Must-Sees

Travel Blogger New York City Guide

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I literally took thousands of photos on my recent trip to New York, so many that I wasn't sure what to do with them all, specifically when it came to sharing them on the blog. I was thinking of maybe doing a photo diary at some stage, if that's something you'd like to see let me know but today I thought I'd share what I took the most photos of, aka. my New York must-sees. And whilst some of these might seem a little bit obvious, I just had to share the fact that each and every one of these 'tourist attractions' totally lived up to the hype and far exceeded my expectations.

So here are my top 10 New York must-sees;

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

What I've Been Watching: In July

What To Watch On Netflix

Considering how much I love writing these particular blog posts and how much you seem to enjoy reading them, it was only a matter of time until my What I've Been Watching blog series made a return and I'm happy to confirm that it's finally back and on a monthly basis too, as it was previously.

At the end of June I shared my first What I've Been Watching post in over two years and I forgot how much I enjoyed sharing these kinds of reviews. Last month I had quite a bit of time to kill, both on flights to and from NYC and in my hotel room on rainy afternoons, so I've got quite a few movies and TV shows to share with you. That many, in fact, that I've had to separate it into two blog posts, with the other going live at the end of this month. But here is what I watched in July, or at least half of it;

Orange Is The New Black

For some reason or another I try my best to ration shows like Orange Is The New Black where all of the episodes of the latest season are released on the same day. For that reason alone I didn't start watching season 5 until the end of June/start of July and even though it always goes in far too quickly, I was glad to stagger the episodes especially with the season spanning just 3 days in the prison as opposed to the normal timelines.

There were so many things I loved about the latest season and it's definitely just as good as ever. I even got a cameo from Pornstache, who I have to admit I'm strangely attracted to. Maybe/hopefully it's just Pablo Schreiber I'm in fact attracted to and not his character. The other CO (correctional officer) that I find rather attractive, again I hope it's just the actor I find good looking, is CO Humps but without giving too much away, it's pretty difficult to swoon over him this season.

If you haven't already jumped aboard the OITNB bandwagon, now is the time!

Girl On The Train

As you might remember, if you read My 25th Birthday Wishlist blog post, I have been looking forward to seeing Girl On The Train for quite some time now so you can imagine how happy I was to find it available as one of my free movies at CitizenM. I'll be doing a full blog post on CitizenM New York Times Square and their free movie selection at a later date, so be sure to check back for that then.

I have to say, I wasn't as blown away by Girl On The Train as I thought I would be. The trailers had almost kind of ruined the movie watching experience for me as I almost knew exactly what was coming. I also guessed who Megan's murderer was about five minutes into the movie. Sure, I hadn't anticipated the twist but I had a bit of a bad feeling about that particular character from the get go or had maybe even been led to think that, again, from the trailers alone, which is never a good thing particularly when the movie contains a mystery. It definitely wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be and I was pretty glad that I hadn't paid to see it either in the cinema or on DVD as sadly it was rather disappointing.


The first of the movies that I watched on my United flight from Glasgow to Newark, Passengers was another movie that I'd been wanting to see for a while now. I'm a big Chris Pratt fan, mainly due to his work on Parks & Recreation and a fan of Jennifer Lawrence's too so I pressed play on this movie first. And I have to say, I really enjoyed it, so much so that I've already bought it on DVD to watch again.

I'm not normally a big fan of movies set in space, even though I did enjoy the movie Sunshine but I found this really easy to watch and there wasn't too much hi-tech jargon to contend with like there normally is in similar movies. The basic premise of the movie is that two passengers (Pratt and Lawrence) are awakened 90 years too early on a ship heading to a new planet, when it malfunctions. Can they save the thousands of other passengers who are still asleep as the ship continues to malfunction? Well, you'll just need to watch it to find out...

Hidden Figures

Carrying on the space and watching on my first flight theme, we have Hidden Figures. I'd heard a lot of great things about this movie when it came to awards season and had a general idea as to what the movie was about but I wasn't sure if it would really be up my street. As mentioned above, I'm not really into space or NASA, as it's something that I've never had a great deal of interest in but to hear how these three women fought for equality in a time when there was a blacks only bathroom and segregated buses was so empowering. It's crazy to think that that actually happened, even as someone who's relatively informed about the struggle of women and ethnic minorities throughout history. And to think that this was happening in the not too distant 1960's is difficult to comprehend. But I suppose we are in 2017 and trans men and women are still fighting for that very same right; to use the same bathroom as everyone else, so sadly this is an ongoing issue even to this day.

Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae are fantastic in this and it truly was great to learn something about a little-known piece of history. Even my Dad who seems to watch a documentary on space or NASA every other night, had no idea of the involvement of these three women and women in general in the space race. It's safe to say he's got this on his 'to watch' list next.

How To Get Away With Murder

If you've been reading Ellis Tuesday for a while now or follow me on Twitter, you will have no doubt heard me rave about How To Get Away With Murder (HTGAWM)! I saw the first two episodes of the latest season when I was in Orlando last year and thought I would only need to wait a month or two until the season aired here in the UK. That was definitely wishful thinking especially when Universal Channel, who used to air the show in the UK, didn't renew their agreement to show it. However, one morning when I was awake ridiculously early (thanks jetlag!), I decided to check out Netflix since CitizenM also have Apple TV's so I could use Apple Airplay to project my phone screen onto the TV. And there it was; HTGAWM. I watched the entire season over the course of two days.

Thankfully Sky Living now have the rights to HTGAWM and the first two seasons are on Netflix, both here in the UK and the US, so if you're looking for a new show to become obsessed with, this is it!

So there's just some of the things I watched in July.

What have you been watching recently? Have you seen any of the TV shows or movies in today's post? If so, what do you think of them? And do you have any recommendations?


Sunday, 30 July 2017

How To Do Hand Luggage Only

Hand Luggage Only Packing

Having arrived home from NYC last weekend (expect LOTS of New York content in the upcoming weeks/months), I have quite a bit of advice and tips to share from my trip and I thought I'd start with one that many might be contemplating over the Summer months; flying hand luggage only.

For many airlines hand luggage is the only free option when it comes to taking a bag or case with you and for others you'll receive up to 23kg checked luggage allowance in addition to this.

I might do a separate blog post on why to do hand luggage only but until then, here's how to do hand luggage only;

Packing Hand Luggage Only

Keep rollin'

I know there are two camps when it comes to packing and storing clothes but I'm definitely in the rolling one. My Mum taught me to roll my clothes from an early age so it's the only method that I've ever known. I find that it really stops items getting creased and is a super speedy way to pack. Surely I can't be the only one who takes about four attempts to fold something properly, despite always wanting to work at Gap when I was younger. Hehe.

Use packing cubes

You will have already seen me rave about these ingenious little cubes of fabric if you read my Why Packing Cubes Are A Game Changer post. Simply put, without these I wouldn't have been able to do hand luggage only. If you take one thing from this blog post or that one; try out packing cubes! I can't recommend them enough!

Hand Luggage Only Tips

Use every inch of space

This might sound like common sense but there really are so many little spaces and nooks where you can cram in some more items or store basics such as pants and socks. Spaces you might forget to utilise are the areas around the handles (hopefully that makes sense, basically where the handles take up space inside; around them) and inside handbags or shoes that you're taking. I took one little cross body bag with me from Accessorize (see similar) which I've made sure to cram full of little things that would otherwise just be floating around in my case such as travel adapters, medication, reusable bags, etc.

Plan out each outfit

I like to lay out each outfit, complete with shoes and accessories, to properly see what I really need to take with me. You might prefer trying each outfit on and taking a snap of it on your phone or doing a little runway through your house, which is what I did and as a result, you'll know exactly what you need. It stopped me from taking an ill fitting skirt and about four different top options to go with it and a jumpsuit that was too warm to wear even around my house, nonetheless in NYC in the middle of Summer.

Be realistic and ruthless with what you pack

This is what'll stop you from over-packing or just giving in and taking checked luggage. Be really ruthless! Don't take 'what if' outfits, shoes or accessories, especially if you have a general idea of what you're going to be doing when you're away. Don't take your gym gear just in case you use the hotel gym! Don't take three pairs of heels just in case you go somewhere fancy! Don't take five bras for a five day trip! You get the gist.

Charlotte Tilbury The Gift Of Red Carpet Skin

Invest in luxury travel sized beauty products

If you travel pretty often and don't fancy decanting all your favourite and pricier beauty bits, such as skincare and foundation, invest in some travel sized options. This Gift of Red Carpet Skin travel kit from Charlotte Tilbury is so worth the money. It's also a great way to try out many of the products for a fraction of the price. I've already used the Goddess Skin Clay Mask from this set and as a result, purchased the full size. It truly is win win.

Take advantage of your carry on personal item

In my opinion, the only way to do hand luggage only, whereby you take all of your clothes, shoes, beauty and tech in one carry on size case, is to properly make good use of your carry on personal item. If you saw my What To Take In Your Hand Luggage Personal Item post you'll know exactly what I took in mine, this time but you really will save crucial space by carrying all your airport and flight essentials on your body.

Have you ever attempted hand luggage only? If so, how successful were you? Were you able to bring back gifts and souvenirs as well? And would you ever think of doing hand luggage only? Or would it very much be location dependent?


Friday, 28 July 2017

The Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette

Naked Heat Palette

Are you the kind of person who always says to themselves 'I don't really need another eyeshadow palette' only to continue adding to your collection? Well, that's my exact situation and I have to say, I've done pretty good to avoid adding too many in the past year or so, even if I now own the complete Urban Decay Naked collection of palettes, minus the Basics but still.

And there's a reason why I've never parted with them; they're just too good. If I'm looking for a pigmented, soft, buttery shadow, I immediately grab one of my Naked palettes. More often than not it's the Naked 3 that I gravitate towards most out of all my eyeshadow palettes. So when I saw that Urban Decay would be releasing the Naked Heat palette I was conflicted. The angel perched on one of my shoulders was telling me that I already had more eyeshadows than any one individual could ever possibly need or use and that I could put the money towards saving for my next holiday, for example. The devil, on the other hand, was telling me to heat things up.

Urban Decay Heat Palette

It went on pre-sale; I resisted. I went to Sephora, where they had a few of the palettes sitting there ready to go to their new homes weeks before the official UK release date and I think we can see what happened. After swatching several of the shades there was no way that it wasn't coming home with me. Why is it that holiday money, even when the exchange rate is almost non-existent, just doesn't feel like real money? I added it to my basket, along with quite a few other items, which I'll go on to show you in a Sephora haul in a few weeks time and the rest is history.

Urban Decay Heat Palette Swatches

I tried several times to take what I would like to refer to as 'pretty' swatches for today's blog post and ultimately failed each and every time, which was more than a little frustrating. I just felt like my swatches weren't doing the palette any justice once photographed. And I have to say, I'm going to blame my ultra pale skin and visible veins for that but I wanted to show you how it swatches in today's review so here's how it looks on three different skin tones and I think you have to agree, it looks incredible on all three. And that's not something you can say about every eyeshadow palette.

I love a good shimmer and these are some of the most pigmented shimmer shadows that I've tried.
If you own and love the Naked 3 palette, which as I said above, is the most used in my collection, I have a feeling you'll love Naked Heat! My favourite shades, so far, have to be Scorched, He Devil and Ember. And as much as I love the shades right now, I can't wait to adorn my eyes with all things Naked Heat in Autumn. Doesn't it just make you think of crisp Autumnal leaves, pumpkins and darker nights?

Urban Decay Naked Heat

The Urban Decay Naked Heat palette is now officially available from Urban Decay counters at DebenhamsHouse Of FraserJohn LewisSelfridges and the like and on Feel Unique, who currently still have it in stock. But I have a feeling that it will surely sell out so if you want to try it now, I'd definitely recommend buying sooner rather than later if you don't want to wait on a restock. Or if you're from the US or spending your own holiday money, at Sephora and Ulta.

What do you think of the Naked Heat palette? Will you be buying it? Or do you already own it? And are you an eyeshadow palette collector, a bit like I am?


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Shopping At The Glossier Showroom

Glossier Showroom

Despite a pretty jam packed itinerary, one that I'll be sharing on here soon, there was one place I just had to visit more than once, as you might have already seen on my Instagram and that was the Glossier showroom. Anyone with even the slightest interest in beauty or skincare will have undoubtedly heard of the relatively new beauty brand on the block. The brainchild of Into The Gloss founder and CEO Emily Weiss, Glossier has quickly gained cult status and the great news is that they have just announced that they will be shipping internationally, starting with Canada, with the UK to follow later this year.

And since Glossier only currently have one store or showroom should I say, I thought that I would share the shopping experience with you on here, especially as I enjoyed it that much that I made sure to revisit.

So here's what it was like to visit the Glossier showroom in NYC;

Glossier Shop

With Google Maps and my phone in tow, I made my way to Nolita (North of Little Italy) and quickly spotted the Glossier signage outside. New York is definitely one of those cities where you discover so many hidden gems and restaurants/shops as you wander around. It was there that I then took the lift, or elevator as they call it in the US, to the penthouse where the showroom is housed.

It really is a beauty bloggers and Instagram fans dream location. Everything from the millennial pink accenting to the beautiful bunting and marble and mineral decor worked so well for the bright and airy space. I honestly could have spent hours photographing each and every area of the showroom.

Glossier balm dotcom Review

The one product that I had at the top of my list had to be the Balm Dotcom so I was ecstatic to try out all the different flavours out. I inevitably opted for three for myself as they have a deal where you can get 3 for $30 instead of being $12 each so that was a nice saving. I also brought back another three for family and friends.

Which ones do you think I went for?

Glossier Cloud Paint Review

Something that US beauty stores such as Sephora, NYX and Glossier do so well, which we don't do here in the UK, is to allow you to really try out the makeup and skincare. I really appreciate being able to actually swatch a lip colour or concealer, for example, on my lips/face instead of having to swatch it on the back of my hand.

I tried out quite a few of the makeup items but sadly the Stretch Concealer, which I was really excited to try out, was just a little bit too dark for my paler than pale skin. I also got a little bit overwhelmed when it came to the Generation G Lipsticks and at one point had the intention of buying four of them but with a bag full of NYX lip butters, soft matte lip creams and lip oil back at my hotel I ultimately decided against it. I guess it gives me something to return to NYC for at some stage. Hehe.

Glossier Review

Unlike traditional beauty stores and departments, in Glossier you let one of their advisers clad in millennial pink overalls know what you'd like to order and they fill out a little order form for you to take to the till. They then go and put together your order and bring it out in one of their trademark clear plastic bags.

I may have been just a little over the moon at the fact my order came with Glossier stickers and their brilliant little pink pouches. I totally blame Anna from The Anna Edit for getting me so excited.

Glossier Shop NYC

And even though I'd got caught in several rainshowers (sans umbrella and waterproof jacket) walking across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier that day, had scraped my hair up into a messy bun and didn't have a bit of makeup on, I certainly appreciated the sentiment and Insta opportunity.

I have to say, the experience of visiting and shopping in the Glossier showroom certainly lived up to the hype for me. I've just started using my purchases so I will be sure to let you know if they live up to the hype as well. Let me know if you'd like to see a haul straight away or if you'd like me to test the products out first and then do a review. Or, of course, I could do both.

Shop my favourites:

Would you love to visit the Glossier showroom? Are you excited for the brand to ship to the UK? If so, what would you like to try? And would you like to see what I bought from Glossier?


Sunday, 23 July 2017

Exploring Brooklyn With Bodyform

DUMBO Brooklyn Photo Spot

Today marks the first of my New York blog posts, of which there will be many as I literally took thousands of photographs and picked up so many handy tips and tricks whilst travelling across the city. From the tourist spots to the outer boroughs and beyond, I've got plenty of content planned for the next couple of months and today I'm taking you to Brooklyn.

Before I left, I had been asked to #ChallengeBodyform by putting their new Daily Fresh Liners* to the test and I thought that there was no better time to try them out than in New York. Thankfully I didn't have my period when I was away but I was going to be spending 11 nights in a hot and humid city where I wouldn't be doing laundry. Taking hand luggage only meant I couldn't bring about 50 pairs of pants with me so the Daily Fresh Liners really did come in handy when it came to feeling fresh, clean and comfortable even after 8+ hours out during the day and another number of hours out in the evening. 

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge

Like I did most days, I packed my bag with the essentials (as seen on Insta) and made my journey by Subway. I took the Subway straight to City Hall, which is the nearest Subway station to the start of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side. I then proceeded to walk across the bridge, stopping every couple of hundred metres to snap away and take in the sights. If I was to do it again, I would definitely walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan as the views of the city were truly unreal. But I had planned to visit the infamous DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Jane's Carousel after walking across to Brooklyn this time, which is why I went that way.

DUMBO Brooklyn

As I walked closer and closer to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bride Overpass for short) I could see quite a gathering of people, all attempting to get that perfect shot. There was even a professional photoshoot going on where I think they were modelling scarves of all things, on a sticky and humid day in NYC. To see the iconic shot, one that I've been pinning to my Welcome To New York Pinterest board for years, was so surreal. 

Exploring Brooklyn Travel Guide Blog

Brooklyn Bridge Park was absolutely breathtaking too and it was really nice to get a bit of a breeze from being that close to the water. Sadly Jane's Carousel was shut when I arrived, which was just around 11:30am, much to my dismay and the dismay of many an unhappy kid pounding on the glass facade but taking some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city was really nice.

I spent a good number of hours exploring Brooklyn that morning, even though I barely scratched the surface. If and when I do go back to New York, I'll definitely be spending several nights in Brooklyn instead of spending my entire stay in Manhattan. 

Best free things to do in New York NYC Brooklyn Bridge

After lunch at Shake Shack, which was clearly that good that I forgot to photograph it (the one thing I didn't take 101 photos of on my travels was food, mainly because of how ravenous I was each time I sat down for something), I hopped back on the Subway and back into the city where I then proceeded to spend the afternoon shopping, mainly at Glossier but more on that at a later date. It wasn't until about 4pm that I returned back to my hotel to put my feet up for an hour or two. And despite being very sweaty (I was basically covered in a whole body sweat for the majority of my holiday thanks to the heat and humidity of a New York Summer) and having rather tired legs and feet, I still felt fresh and clean down below thanks to the liners. It meant that I didn't need to worry about having a shower before embarking on another adventure or heading out for food that night and it definitely saved me having to change my underwear several times a day, which I did feel was necessary on days that I didn't use the liners. The fact that they took up no space at all in my hand luggage or handbag made me even happier, especially when my cabin bag was practically bursting at the seams already. 

I went on to wear the liners for the duration of my trip and it really did help to prolong the pieces that I'd brought with me without having to wash whilst I was away. You can also #ChallengeBodyform to be in with the chance of winning a £250 shopping voucher, simply by leaving a review on their site.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

So there's the first of my New York blog posts. Let me know what you'd like to hear about most when it comes to my trip. I've got blog posts in the works on things such as how I managed not to get lost on the Subway once (this was my one big fear before visiting). what it was like to travel solo and what I managed to cram into my stay. I'll be writing about all of these topics and more over the course of the year but if there's something in particular that you'd like to see or hear more about, be sure to let me know.

Have you ever visited Brooklyn? If not, is it somewhere that has always been on your 'to-do' list? What would you like to hear about next, New York-wise? And have you ever tried Bodyform's liners?

Written in collaboration with Bodyform

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