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. 

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.

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.

Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, Bath Street, Glasgow (Source: Beauty Boutique & Day Spa Facebook page)

Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, Bath Street, Glasgow (Source: Beauty Boutique & Day Spa Facebook page)

Many moons ago I reviewed the now-closed nkd Waxing concession in House of Fraser, Glasgow.

It was my first experience of designer waxing and I was so impressed that I was a regular customer until they closed their doors a couple of years ago.

The reason for the closure cannot have been lack of customers (as it was always really hard to get an appointment), but Brazilians and Hollywoods are now the norm in the waxing world so there’s a multitude of options out there for former nkd devotees like myself.

The one thing I learned from going along to nkd regularly was that the wax they used, Perron Rigot, made all the difference when it came to preventing pesky ingrown hairs and minimising the pain.

So when it came to finding a new “intimate” waxer, as they’re known in the beauty industry, that was the first thing I looked for.

I’ll be honest – although many salons I tried after nkd were good, they never quite managed to meet the nkd standard. It wasn’t that the salons or therapists were bad, most were lovely and I can’t actually fault their waxing, but if you went to nkd and had Ashley as a waxer, you’ll know what I mean.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve finally found one salon that does meet my high post-nkd expectations.

Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, located on Bath Street, Glasgow, is a real gem of a place. Like most newbies to beauty salons these days, I booked using an offer I received via Wahanda which meant I had a package of treats for a decent price.

The salon itself is welcoming and modern, and way bigger than you expect it to be. Although I only experienced the waxing and massage rooms, a short trip through the salon revealed a slick city nail bar and hair salon to the left the of main beauty building. As they offer day spa packages and treatments, I assume there are hot tubs and/or a small swimming pool somewhere in the salon but I didn’t come across this on my visit.

I’m terrible with names but I *think* my therapist’s name was Laura. She immediately put me at ease and a short chat revealed that she managed the salon, so I was in safe hands. 

I opted for a Brazilian wax and since I’ve been having these for a few years now, there’s no surprises in the routine. However, you do hear horror stories of being asked to kneel on all fours (really, is that ever necessary?!), so when you go to a new place, that’s always my worst fear! Thankfully, there was none of that and the process was as embarrassment-free as it can possibly be when you’re naked from the waist down.

This is my checklist for a good bikini wax and Beauty Boutique met them all, so that’s why they’re my new favourite waxing place:

  1. The therapist should be easy to talk to – awkward silences are good for no one
  2. The procedure should be explained fully if it’s your first time at the venue or first time getting the treatment – surprises are never welcome
  3. Perron Rigot wax is your friend, if the salon is using it then you shouldn’t have to worry about ingrown hairs
  4. The hair should come out in one swift swipe of the strip – if you feel every strand being tugged out, there’s something not right
  5. Wait for the excruciating pain to come… and smile in relief when it never does. Okay, so it’s not the most relaxing/enjoyable experience in the world but if you’re close to passing out from the procedure then it’s not being done right.

I’d say I only had regrowth after about 6 weeks and could easily have got away with 8 weeks if I wasn’t going on holiday, so it was also excellent value for money.

I know some people are put off by the cost of designer waxing, but I used to spend £8 every 2-3 weeks to get a basic tidy-up wax so it does add up to around the same cost in the long term.

If you’re looking for a fuss-free (and mostly pain-free) waxing experience, in sleek city centre surroundings, Beauty Boutique & Day Spa is definitely the place to try – you won’t be disappointed.

I had the Brazilian Wax, £27, @ Beauty Boutique & Day Spa, 145 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4SQ
0845 408 8804

http://www.beautyboutiquedayspa.co.uk

Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.

I’ve managed to escape being tagged in those Facebook posts currently clogging up newsfeeds; you know the ones – ‘thanks for the nominations, here’s 7 random facts about me’.

Some people are completely missing the point of course, with random facts turning into obvious lists of things we already know because YOU POST ABOUT IT ON FACEBOOK ALL THE TIME. The best ones usually go something like… 1. I love my family 2. My dog too he is amaaaazing 3. I have the best boyfriend in the world ever… yawn.

But some of them are actually worth a like and I’ve laughed to myself while reading things I never knew about my best friends or Facebook acquaintances.

So here’s my ‘7 Random Beauty Facts’, in no particular order…

1. I have an irrational fear of eyelash curlers.

Straight up, the contraptions terrify me. I have tried to put them near my lashes but always end up convinced that I’m going to accidentally pull them out and have bald eyelids. Forever.

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2. I don’t know what my natural hair colour is

I’ve dyed my hair since I was 14 and that is genuinely the last time I can safely say I saw my natural hair colour. I think it was a chestnutty brown shade, but since I’ve spent over half my life with dyed locks it’s very difficult to recall.

I started off on Wella Colour Mousse, dying every towel in the house a lovely shade of red, before discovering bleach and deciding that I was going to be blonde like my childhood idol Madonna after all.

 

3. I’m a blonderexic

My mane’s definitely been through the colour wars with me and my obsession with being blonder than blonde. I do believe it’s a diagnosable illness, when your hair’s whiter than snow and somehow all you can see is yellow brass.

It all came to a head the time I decided my hair wasn’t blonde enough and bought some peroxide and bleach toner for a few home improvement sessions… that ended with the left side of my hair deciding to fall off before I abused it anymore. It took about five years to bounce back. Painful.

These days the fear of having short, frizzy hair is enough to steer me away from any extra lightening activities but for moments of weakness I have silver shampoo and fake tan on standby, always guaranteed to make me feel extra blonde!

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4. Uneven eyeliner = bad day

It’s the one thing I can rely on in the morning, the barometer of how my day is going to turn out. If it’s fifties pin-up perfection then I know it’s been worth getting outta bed. If it looks like I’ve drawn it in my sleep, I should probably just jump back under the duvet and forget it. True story.

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5. I don’t straighten my hair (anymore)

This is the one that most people can’t believe but it was a self-imposed ban that has helped my hair get back to straight health after the incidents outlined in fact 3. My hair was never in need of being ironed daily to start with. But, like many girls in 2002, I was sold the GHD dream of poker straight shiny locks and developed a completely unnecessary ten year habit.

The problem with straightening your hair every day is that your hair actually becomes addicted to the heat, only sitting properly when you’ve run those ceramic plates through every last strand. It develops a frizz that is only tamed by heat pressing down the split ends, caused by the straighteners in the first place.

Unless your hair is naturally wavy, curly or coarse, steer clear of these things. It took me two years of only ever straightening my hair at the weekend or on special occasions to finally break free.

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6. I have a love affair with Double Wear

The best-selling Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation has been a staple in my makeup bag since I was 19. As a student this wasn’t a cheap purchase but it was worth parting with the student loan. Once I realised I could get flawless skin and it lasted 6 months compared to 6 weeks of the cheaper foundations I was using, I was sold. For life, it would seem.

These days I tend to wear Fresco when my skin is paler and Sand Beige when I’m tanned, but the formula has always remained one that works with my skin no matter the shade. I would actually be heartbroken if this was ever discontinued! The rest of the Double Wear range is pretty good too, the concealer and eyeliner are now also staples in my beauty bag.

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7. It took me 28 years to wear red lipstick

Properly anyway. I had tried it on many occasions, but when I looked at myself in the mirrorI felt like a wee girl who had played with her mum’s makeup bag. Not some blonde bombshell with sex appeal, as was promised by many a red lipstick advert.

It may have been bad hair, overly-smoky eyes or just the wrong shade, but for years I smeared the red lippie off my face just about as fast as I had put it on. That all changed when I tried Topshop’s Rio Rio (don’t think I’ve mentioned that shade before??) and at last I had found my fit.

These days I own a multitude of red lipsticks but that was the first one I had the courage to wear all night and actually felt amazing when people not only compliment but asked what I was wearing. Result!

They say there’s a red lipstick for everyone and now I really do believe it.

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Scottish fashion blogger. Always having a blonde moment.