Sometimes I like to pretend I’m a lady of luxury and there’s no better place to do that than Blythswood Square Spa & Hotel in Glasgow.

Many of my friends were surprised that I hadn’t visited the Blythswood already, so I made a point of booking in for a birthday treat. Another year older, another life goal ticked off the list!

The 5 star hotel exudes elegance, with an impressive exterior and grand reception area that puts me in mind of a David Lynch boudoir. In a good way, I promise – if sparkling chandeliers, monochrome flooring and red velvet is your thing, you’ll love it. 

I wasn’t staying overnight in the hotel on this occasion, so I headed downstairs to the spa, eager to treat myself to some much-needed pamper time.

Upon arrival I was asked to fill out a consultation card and offered a glass of prosecco, which was part of my package and went down a treat. 

Afternoon Tea at the Blythswood 

The relaxation area at the spa reception looks glamorous and comfortable, but I’ve decided the chairs are deceptively uncomfortable. The backs of the chairs recline at an angle that’s neither lie-back-and-relax-pre-massage or sit-upright-and-sip-prosecco. So you end up perched in an awkward in-between position, glugging your prosecco so you can move on to comfier surroundings.

This is also an issue when the afternoon tea is served, as I found I was digesting fruit scones and cream cakes at an alarming rate, due to my uncomfortable seat.

On the plus side, unlike many afternoon tea offerings, you do get one of those fancy tiered trays of treats all to yourself. And dietary requirements, or fussy eater requests, are catered for without any issues. 

Blythswood Square Spa Review

Several scones, cakes, meringues and cups of tea later, I was taken through to the chilled out treatment rooms. I only waited a few minutes in the treatment reception area before being taken to a private room by my therapist, who I want to call Natalie so I will. 

Once Natalie had an understanding of my many aches and pains, she got started on the back, neck and shoulder massage I had requested. Her perfect pressure and precision when targeting my pain points left me feeling very relaxed and soothed some of the tension I had arrived with. One of the best massages I’ve had the pleasure of receiving, using gorgeous-smelling Ishga products. 

Post-massage, I took a wander round the thermal suite to see what it had to offer. Not being a massive fan of saunas (the lack of air is suffocating and I have an irrational fear of being locked in), I opted to spend most of my time floating between the hydrotherapy pool, the solarium and the crystal steam room. 

The hydrotherapy pool was probably my favourite, a large jacuzzi situated in the centre of the spa. Plenty of bubbles and high ceilings made this a relaxing experience that I returned to a few times on my visit. 

The crystal steam room is unique and you’ll either love it or hate it. I could only cope with it when the door was slightly ajar (see previous comment on irrational door locking fear), but it was a calming wet room filled with menthol steam that did its best to clear my congested system of toxins and the previous night’s vodka.

The spa itself feels like the crystal maze, with its various rooms and themes, so it’s fitting that this steam room does have a red crystal centrepiece, from which the scented steam emanates. Strangely hypnotic and relaxing at the same time, with the door open of course…

My one gripe is that the main pool, complete with waterfall and jet features, isn’t larger. When I go to a spa I like a swim, but the size of the Blythswood’s pool is only fit for a doggy paddle. There also doesn’t appear to be a need for the strange ‘hidden’ room located towards the back of the pool. Other than the water that shoots out from the corner, it seems like a bit of a waste of space that could be put to better use.

Given the small size of the pool, there are only a few loungers located next to it for relaxing on but the spa wasn’t busy enough when I visited for this to be an issue. 

Overall, I enjoyed my time at the Blythswood and was pleasantly surprised that it lived up to the hype. Not sure I would pay the list price to visit the thermal suite, but worth a visit if you can get a deal on a voucher code site. 

 

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I’ve visited PURE Spa in Glasgow a couple of times now for some much-needed pamper time, so it was great when the new PURE Spa skincare range landed through my letterbox recently.

Any time I’ve had a massage or facial in PURE, the therapist has used Elemis products (which are amazing!), so I was interested to see what the spa brand’s own skincare range would bring to the treatment table.

What’s the PURE Spa skincare range like?

On first impressions, the packaging is pretty on-brand and in keeping with the interior of the spa itself – minimal, monochrome and the epitome of clean.

In line with current skincare trends, the range features face oils and serums, rather than traditional moisturising creams, so I was excited to try out the fragrant formulas on my face.

I worked my way through the products I was sent and, since I have mixed feelings on the range, I’ve reviewed them individually.

PURE Hydrate & Renew Face Oil

I am currently switching between an Espa and Decleor face serum in times of moisturising need, so this sounded like it was ideal for my dry post-Ibiza skin.

Featuring a unique combination of frankincense and rose for dry/normal/sensitive skin, the oil claims to “refresh and revive your skin”.

It smells amazing, a bit like Turkish delight, but I was a bit disappointed by the results of this one.

The oil failed to sink into my skin, leaving me with an unwanted shiny look for the rest of the day.

I decided to swipe this one off with a face wipe one day when even my Estee Lauder Double Wear didn’t help to absorb the excess oil.

PURE hydrate & renew face oil

PURE hydrate & renew face oil

PURE Regulate and Clear Face Oil

Since turning 30, I’ve been plagued with stress-related breakouts, so I hoped this one would help me out in one particularly stressful hour (or week) of need.

The ylang yang and kukui oil for oily/combination/blemished skin worked better for me than the hydrating oil.

I didn’t know much about the Hawaiian kukui oil, but turns out it’s a favourite of Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o, used to soothe skin and heal wounds.

It definitely doesn’t smell as nice as the frankincense/rose oil, but after a week of using this I noticed that my forehead was less oily and the blemishes had dried up.

PURE refresh & revive face spritz and clean & glow cleansing oil

PURE refresh & revive face spritz and clean & glow cleansing oil

PURE Clean & Glow Cleansing Oil

I do love neroli and jojoba, so was sure this one would be a favourite.

While it promised much in the brand blurb (“a gentle, deep cleansing formula melts away make-up and grime, leaving skin soft, hydrated and glowing”), I was left disappointed.

My skin did feel glowing but it also had an oily residue leftover, so I found myself reaching for another cleanser to remove the remains of this one.

Kinda defeats the purpose when you need to cleanse off your cleanser, so for me this didn’t work.

PURE Refresh & Revive Face Spritz

Face sprays terrify me so I had to persist with this one! There’s something about liquid splashing onto my face that I just can’t compute without actively trying to jump out of the way!

The alcohol-free lavender and mint spray does feel nice on the skin, if you can sit still through the spritzing.

Claiming to hydrate and tone, as well as set your makeup, this is a great thing to have in your handbag in the summer if you need a refresh or a cool down.

PURE regenerate and boost eye serum

PURE regenerate and boost eye serum

PURE Regenerate & Boost Eye Serum

I’m always wary of placing any liquids on my eyes due to having developed strangely sensitive eyelids in my mid-twenties. No idea why, they just ballooned one day after applying my usual liquid eyeliner and haven’t been the same since!

Anyway, I decided to give this one a go on a quiet weekend so that if I did end up with huge swollen bug eyes, I wouldn’t scare the general public at any point.

Pleasantly surprised to report that the retinol and argan oil combination didn’t aggravate my eyelids and it had a nice aroma to it.

Time will tell if the anti-ageing claims prove to be true, but worth a go if you prefer an eye serum to a cream.

Overall verdict

I was definitely split on this range. I like the packaging and the scents of most of the products, but was only really impressed by the regulate and clear face oil.

As with every skincare range, so much depends on your own skin type and what works for you, so I’d definitely recommend testing out the products first.

The range is priced at £14.50-£34.50, so it’s in line with premium skincare brands, but without the established reputation.

Worth trying before you buy with a facial at your nearest PURE Spa to see if you like the results from the products used first.

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.
*These products were sent to me by the brand but all opinions are my own

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Rouge Essentiel and Monochrome

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Rouge Essentiel and Monochrome

As a major Chanel obsessive, I’m always on the lookout for a piece of semi-affodable luxury from their beauty collection, while I pretend to save up for a quilted classic flap bag.

My most-worn and admired nail varnish is the iconic Chanel Rouge Noir, the much-imitated and eternally chic deep red wine shade. 

However, even a Chanel loyal like myself would have to admit that when it comes to staying power, the luxury brand’s nail varnishes could do with a little boost.

What?! I hear you cry as you rock a chip-free Barry M nail paint five days later. Yes, I do know that at £18 a pop these polishes should be glued to the nail for at least a month, but alas our Chanel shades missed the longevity gene when they were created in all their glossy glory.

And so the Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour was launched and we all lived in hope that this was the ultimate nail polish solution.

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Rouge Essentiel CREDIT: chanel.com

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Rouge Essentiel CREDIT: chanel.com

I opted for a change of scene and tried two new shades from the range, Rouge Essentiel (a classic red) and Monochrome (a chic grey).

The blurb from the Chanel marketing machine promised much: A long-wear, protective nail polish with lasting shine designed to make vibrant colours dazzle. Long-wearing, extra-fine and ultra-shiny, each coat offers an absolutely even and lacquered result.

And what of the end result? Well let’s just say I got two days of unblemished nail colour before it reverted to type and flaked off. 

Can’t fault the shades themselves, and two coats does indeed make a world of difference to the colour and depth, but lasting this nail polish is not.

Would love to know if you’ve tried any of the new shades from the range (and if they lasted longer for you!).

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour, £18

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

Pure Spa Glasgow nail bar

Pure Spa Glasgow nail bar and reception area

I make no secret of the fact that weddings and all things wedding-related stress me out, so when a month of hen dos and weddings approached me way too fast, I decided to take action.

I decided that only a total body overhaul would switch my mind off from overthinking the impending doom of the big days ahead, and signed up to the Spa Essentials Experience at Pure Spa on West Nile Street, Glasgow.

My only previous experience of the salon was a quick file and polish in the downstairs nail bar, so I was excited to see what lay in store at the spa side of the building.

On arrival I was greeted by my therapist Alison, who showed me through a series of doors that led to a serene hideaway from the bustling street below.

A quick change out of my work clothes and into the soft, fluffy robe and slippers provided was my first step to relaxation and this was followed by a five minute rest on the reclining chairs dotted around the spa waiting area. My only criticism is that this area is not ideal for relaxing – the bright lights and rigid recliners don’t allow you to switch off fully, even less so as this is the main walkway for guests entering and leaving the treatment rooms.

Pure Spa Glasgow relaxation area and sauna

Pure Spa Glasgow relaxation area and sauna

I was slightly more relaxed when Alison collected me and took me into one of the tranquil treatment rooms, complete with soft lighting and heated, towel-laden beds.

The treatment started with a refreshing foot scrub and massage, as Alison asked what I was hoping to get from today’s experience and if there were any particular aches and pains she should concentrate on.

It was then over to the indulgent bed, where I snuggled down for the first part of the treatment: a hot stone massage. The tension in my shoulders was expertly massaged away with the help of the hot stones and the aching muscles I’d complained of earlier in the day eased up for the first time in a few months.

Part two was a hopi ear candle – now, I’d never considered this particular treatment before, but when I saw it was an option for this package I decided to go for it. Having been plagued by blocked ears and tension headaches over the past couple of years, my research told me this was a possible remedy for these ailments. 

It’s quite possibly the strangest treatment I’ve ever had, yet I found the experience quite relaxing. The hollow cotton tube, soaked in beeswax, honey and herbs, is lit and inserted into the ear to remove excess wax and impurities. Although this sounds dangerous, the flame is at the top of the candle away from the ear and a gentle crackling noise is heard as the candle burns and works its magic.

The jury’s out as to whether this does actually help sinus and stress-related conditions but I did feel less congested and Alison showed me the wax that had been removed by the candle… not something you’d want to look at every day!

Elemis skincare

Elemis skincare

The final part of my treatment was an Elemis facial, which I hoped would give my dull winter skin a boost. Having tried Elemis products in the past, I was looking forward to seeing what Alison recommended for me. The pro collagen cleansing balm was a standout for me, as it felt so soothing on my skin, so I made a mental note to try this at a later date. I love it when a facial is finished off with a scalp massage so I was pleased that this is what came after the facial, but a bit gutted that my time in the spa was over!

As I made my way back down the stairs and into the brightly-lit reception area I got a stark reminder of why I hadn’t revisited Pure Spa after my manicure all those months ago. Some of the reception staff could not be less-friendly and inviting if they tried. There’s one in particular who looks thoroughly bored and disinterested in every customer that comes through the door and when she asked me if everything was okay with my treatment I got the impression she wasn’t remotely interested in my answer as she quickly faked a smile and tried to push some add-on products.

I’d thoroughly recommend the Spa Essentials Experience if you’re looking for 90 minutes of escapism, but try and avoid the icy robots at the door…

*Spa Essentials Experience at Pure Spa, West Nile Street, Glasgow, £110

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

If you follow me on Instagram or Pinterest then you’ll know my makeup addiction is showing no signs of waning anytime soon.

I love nothing more than planing what beautifully-packaged pieces of makeup magic I’m going to purchase on payday and I know I’m not alone.

Having recently installed a beauty station in my spare room, complete with an illuminated Hollywood-style mirror from Ikea, I’ve been practising and perfecting some new makeup looks in my free time. 

My friends are always asking me on a night out how I did my eyes and where did those cheekbones come from, so I thought the next step would be to actually learn how to apply makeup on to someone else’s face so I could practise what I preach!

I found a three-day makeup course online via the Scottish Beauty School’s website, which outlined the course content:

  • Plan and produce specific makeup looks
  • Adapting looks appropriate to face shapes
  • Makeup using various techniques
  • Use of basic corrective makeup
  • Changing the look into bridal and evening makeup
  • Smoky Eye Look and Party Lashes
  • Health and Safety
  • Underpinning knowledge of skin structure

The great thing about this course was that the certificate achieved allowed you to get insurance if you did want to have makeup as a career option, either as a freelancer or working in a salon.

The course was a Christmas gift to myself and part of my new year’s resolutions list to learn a new skill. The majority of attendees on the course, however, paid for the course using an ILA fund or were there because their employer had paid for them to do the course.

The attendees were a mix of students already employed in the beauty industry, either working in a salon, self-employed or mobile beauticians. I felt a bit apprehensive on the first day to say I was there just to develop my skills, but the other girls didn’t seem to mind.

Makeup on the Scottish Beauty School makeup course

Makeup on the Scottish Beauty School makeup course

Over the next three days our lecturer, professional makeup artist Elaine Coburn, demonstrated a series of techniques and looks that we then got a chance to recreate on each other. I was better at some of the tasks than others, but practise makes perfect, right?!

Day one was quite nerve-racking and it was hard to get used to being “back at school”. In a professional setting, courses are quite different to being back at a place of education – you definitely feel the clear student/teacher dynamic in the way you’re spoken to, which isn’t wrong, but it did take me a day to get used to it. We all took notes as she carried out her first demonstration on how to create a blank canvas using foundation and powder, making it look so easy when, of course, it isn’t.

Then it was our turn and that’s when the hard work really started. The lecturer did a walk round of the room as we were all trying to remember how she did this and that, what brushes were used etc, and at times this could be quite off-putting. Being watched by someone inevitably leads you to make mistakes and that was almost always the case on day one! Her knowledge and help was great, though, and if you were going down the wrong route she was able to offer suggestions to get you back on track.

What I did think was tricky on day one was working on other students. While the majority of the class were lovely and easy to talk to, there were some girls that were very specific about what they would allow you to do on them and a few others had problematic skin. Part of me thought it was great, as that’s a likely scenario you would come across in real life, but another part of me wished we had silent models with perfect skin that were a true blank canvas for us to start out on!

The other issue with working on your fellow students is that half of your time in class is spent being a model for someone else. I didn’t mind this at all and was more than happy for my partner to choose any makeup she liked, but I did think that if we all had models then we would’ve had longer to practise and perfect the techniques.

We ended day one with a focus on eye makeup and I felt a bit more in my comfort zone as that’s the one area I’ve applied makeup to on other people before. The lecturer showed us a pretty daytime look that could’ve worked for bridal makeup and then we got to recreate this on one of our classmates. I was quite happy with the look I created, using nudes on the eyes and lips, but my model had excellent skin so it made it slightly easier.

Day two started with the Instagram-famous contouring and how we could avoid looking like a hideous Kardashian gone wrong. I’d only ever contoured my own face, and I use that term very loosely, but I found it surprisingly easy to work with the shading and highlighting makeup provided. Hardest part was the nose, where I felt like I verged on making my model look like she had soot on her face! Again, I had a great model for this look with clearly defined cheekbones so that did help.

The afternoon was back on to eye makeup and this time we were going smoky. My afternoon model wanted black and gold so I tried my best, but probably should’ve gone with what I would’ve done myself and picked out colours that were easier to blend. 

Some of the makeup at this stage proved difficult to work with and I’d say that was a recurring theme on the course. The kit provided beside each bed was full of budget products (I don’t even remember the brand) and while you can scrimp on some things, you can’t do that with all and expect to achieve great results. To be fair to Elaine she brought along a lot of top cosmetic products from her own kit, including Mac, L’Oreal, Revlon, Morphe and Sleek, but having a better standard of kit beside us would’ve helped greatly.

I wasn’t overly-happy with this look and then I had to apply the dreaded party lashes on top! I’d never applied these on myself never mind anyone else, so this was extremely difficult to get the hang of under watchful eyes. I kept dropping the lashes from the tweezers and applying them too far down the model’s lashes, so in the end I had to accept that this was something to try another day! More time on techniques like this would’ve been useful for me, though some of the girls got the hang of this straightaway.

On to the final day, where we started off with a vintage 1940s look, followed by a creative afternoon trying cut creases, glitter and strip lashes. I had a difficult model (she was lovely, but her eyebrows needed some help) for the ’40s look, so I wasn’t enthused by my completed makeup attempt. During this look I also learned that applying red lip liner on another face is way harder than it looks and something I need to practise to avoid making my models look like a clown.

The last look was one of my favourites and I enjoyed using strong purple eyeshadows to create a cut crease on the eyelids. I then ruined it all with application of some hideous glitter and strip lashes that refused to curve to the eyelid. How I wish I’d taken a photo of the eyeshadow sans glitter and lashes!

And that was us done. I sat nervously at the end, waiting to see if I’d passed the course in spite of my disastrous eyelash application attempts, but I’m pleased to say my certificate was there waiting for me.

I found the course a great starting point for anyone thinking of going into makeup professionally, but I’d say more practise and maybe an advanced course would be needed after this one in order to feel totally confident about your work.

If you’ve been on this course I’d love to hear about your experience and what you’ve gone on to do afterwards, we all have to start somewhere!

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

Auchrannie Resort handbook and coffee

It always feels like the longest month of the year, so this January I decided to break it up a bit by crossing the water and visiting the Auchrannie Resort in Arran.

With it being only an hour on the ferry from Ardrossan, I’ve visited the island many times but never had the Auchrannie experience.

View of Arran from Auchrannie

View of Arran from Auchrannie

I didn’t quite know what to expect but the package I’d opted for (The Island Escape) promised a luxury overnight stay including breakfast, a prosecco lunch and two spa treatments.

January weather is ideal for hibernating in a spa resort, but not so ideal for travelling to it. Luckily, our sailing was relatively calm and we had a transfer from the ferry terminal to the hotel included in our package. A very welcome touch since I’ve learned that only one taxi serves the island. My suitcase and I are not made for the local bus service I’m afraid!

I’m sure it’s walkable without the luggage but the five minute transfer took us right to the door, where we were able to check in at reception with minimal fuss. Our room was ready and we got ourselves settled in before heading down for a pre-booked lunch in the spa.

Twin room at Auchrannie Resort

Twin room at Auchrannie Spa Resort

The room itself was on the third floor and my only complaint was that the wifi didn’t appear to function up there. It was fine in other parts of the spa hotel and the main house hotel, so at least we weren’t completely cut off from civilisation, aka social media.

The spa hotel is modern with plush grey decor in the corridors and purple interiors in the rooms. We had a twin room, which was very spacious, with a sofa/seating area in addition to the beds and a fridge to store vodka water. There was ample wardrobe space and a modern bathroom with miniature complimentary toiletries courtesy of Arran Aromatics.

Arran Aromatics miniature toiletries at Auchrannie

Arran Aromatics miniature toiletries at Auchrannie

We checked into the ASPA for lunch and were shown around the facilities while our food and drinks were prepared. The seating area in the spa itself is very luxurious and an ideal setting for lunch, though it would’ve been nice to have the menu to peruse at a table, rather than the spa reception desk. Talk about being under pressure to choose!

ASPA reception area

ASPA reception area

The lunch menu itself was what you would expect from a spa, full of light, healthy(ish) options and a delicious start to the afternoon, accompanied by a glass of sparkling prosecco.

We had a few hours to spare after lunch before our spa treatments, so decided to check out the rest of the spa facilities. There was a large swimming pool, shallow pool, solarium, steam room and foot baths, so plenty of places to relax before or after your pampering session. My one disappointment was that there was no jacuzzi, as I love some bubbles on a spa day!

Auchrannie Spa relaxation room

Auchrannie Spa relaxation room

Complimentary robes and slippers are provided when you check in to the spa so we headed back to the relaxation room to wait on our treatments. With low lighting, beaded curtains, chaise longues and secluded pods, this is the perfect place to chill out with a glass of chilled water. 

I opted for the mini facial and back massage using my favourite Espa products. My therapist was very knowledgable about the products and expertly carried out my facial to treat the condition of my skin at the time (dry and dull). I’ve had better back massages but it was relaxing if nothing else. After our treatments we headed back to the relaxation room for a raspberry sorbet and glass of lemon water, pure bliss!

ASPA relaxation area

ASPA relaxation area

It was a struggle not to go for an afternoon nap at this point, but we had booked dinner in the Brambles restaurant at 7pm, so powered through to get ourselves dressed and across the carpark to the main house hotel. We couldn’t fault the traditional surroundings or the service in the restaurant but had to ask to move twice, which wasn’t ideal.

The first time it was due to overheating in front of an open fireplace and the second time it was due to being surrounded by a family of ten with unruly kids. Understand the resort is family friendly but there should be an area where adults can escape if they don’t fancy listening to mummy tell little Ben/Jen to please sit down for the millionth time. Or at least a curfew on when said families can enter. Rant over. 

Dinner itself was top notch, I went for the fillet steak with blue cheese sauce followed by white chocolate and Arran Gold cheesecake, which I have to say is one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had. After the food feast we retired to our comfy beds for a Grey Goose nightcap, totally pampered and relaxed for a good night’s sleep. 

Auchrannie Hotel breakfast

Pastries for breakfast

Breakfast was included in our package and again it didn’t disappoint. Pretty much all you can eat continental and cooked breakfast, with too many options to list. I had some spiced Arran sausages with grilled mushrooms on toast, then managed to squeeze in a couple of mini fruit pastries alongside my tea. 

It felt really sad to be checking out and heading home, but there was still some time left to enjoy a cosmopolitan in Cruz bar before our transfer taxi arrived to take us back for the ferry home. I’ll definitely be back to the resort, but now I know what to expect I’ll be planing a few more spa treatments and maybe even an extended stay.

I visited Auchrannie Resort on the Island Escape package, courtesy of itison.com. Standard price for this package starts at £119 per person per night.
Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

Christmas countdowns for adults have gotten a whole lot more exciting over the past few years with the popularity of advent calendars for grownups.

If you don’t fancy waking up to a new choccie treat behind the window each morning, there’s a variety of beauty advent calendars providing some fabulous incentives to coax you out of bed in anticipation on cold winter mornings.

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Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.