Category Archives: Beauty

Miranda Loves: Elizabeth Arden Skincare

As is probably clear by now, I’m a bit of a skincare junkie, and all through my 20s, I’ve always enjoyed trying out different brands. I rarely stick to one brand for all of my skincare products, but instead pick and choose my favourites from a pretty wide spectrum.

I recently had some Debenham’s gift vouchers to use, and (having been so impressed by the Elizabeth Arden serum I mentioned in this video), I decided to try out the EA cleanser and toner. I definitely find keeping my skin in good condition is most challenging in the winter, as – apart from the cold wind and rain that feels ever present in London – seasonal viruses also tend to wreak havoc on my skin.

This year, however, my skin is holding up better than usual. Although I’ve never been (touch wood!) particularly prone to breakouts, I can suffer from dry and slightly sensitive skin, so I’ve been on the look out for products that hydrate as well as cleanse and are gentle on the skin. The Elizabeth Arden cleanser and toner are beautifully moisturising, and I’ve been very pleased with the results so far.

Do you have any favourite Elizabeth Arden products you’d recommend for me to try?

Please note: this is not a sponsored post; I really do just enjoy sharing what I’m loving at the moment through my Miranda Loves series. 

T&T 09 | Sleek Technique Interview

Click here to listen to the latest Tea & Tattle podcast episode. You can also listen for free on iTunes.

Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all enjoyed the holidays and are starting the New Year feeling refreshed and invigorated. For Tea & Tattle’s first episode of 2017, I’m interviewing the lovely Victoria Marr and Flik Swan, best friends and founders of the ballet-inspired fitness programme Sleek Technique. If you’re seeking some fitness inspiration to meet your health goals for 2017 (or are fascinated by the world of ballet), then this is the perfect episode for you. And fear not: even if you’ve never done a single plié, Sleek Technique is still highly accessible, and you’ll be getting those ballerina legs in no time!

I first discovered Sleek Technique one January a few years ago, at a time when I desperately needed a fitness routine that I could do from home and that was as enjoyable as it was challenging. I was gritting my teeth getting through a job I didn’t particularly enjoy at the time, and I knew that instead of coming home and feeling miserable most evenings, I had to find something fun to do instead. I started taking 1-2 Sleek Technique Live Classes a night, and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. My mood transformed, and it was wonderful to feel strong and graceful again.

As you’ll notice in this episode, both Victoria and Flik have such friendly, bubbly personalities that it’s hard not to smile all through their classes (hard work though they may be!). I loved hearing about how they switched careers from professional dancers to fitness entrepreneurs in this interview, as well as their tips for keeping on track with your exercise routine and their advice on creating a successful business with your best friend.

I’ve also signed up to join in the new Sleek Technique Full Ballerina Body Nutrition Programme, which starts January 10th (we discuss it a little in the episode). I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, and do drop me a line if you’re keen to try it as well, as it would be fun to know if anyone else is doing it too!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2017! I so enjoyed this Sleek Technique interview and hope you do too! I’ll be back with regular Miranda’s Notebook blog posts on Monday; in the meantime – happy listening!

My Favourite Autumn Beauty Products

favouritebeautyproducts

Another round-up post, but rather than books, today I’m sharing my favourite beauty products that I’ve been using day-after-day throughout the Autumn and that I’ll be continuing to use into the winter.

Click on the photo below to watch my video, featuring the products I use to create the curly hair-style I’ve been loving lately, my favourite face-creams, mascaras and more!

autumnbeautyvideo

Curl in a Bottle / Chop Stick Curler / Nuxe Day Cream / Nuxe Night Cream / Nuxe Multi-Purpose Oil / Elizabeth Arden Serum (have to say I had no idea how expensive this is!! It is lovely, but I’ll definitely be eeking out my sample size a bit longer!) / Apricoderm Lip Balm (I can’t find a link for this; I think it’s only available in Europe)/ Chanel Mascara (sadly 40 seems to have sold out, but there are some other colours available) / Urban Decay Mascara and Lash Primer / Zadig & Voltaire This Is Her perfume

Do you have any beauty recommendations?

Miranda Loves: Charlotte Tilbury

Miranda Loves | Charlotte Tilbury

Even though I have a tendency to be wary of new makeup trends and am loyal to brands I know and love best (Chanel, Chantecaille and Laura Mercier dominate my make up collection), I’ve been wanting to try Charlotte Tilbury‘s beauty range for ages. Finally, I took the plunge and booked myself a make-up consultation at the CT counter in Fenwick. I always find the best way to test a new brand is to try it out thoroughly through a proper consultation (and it’s also a great way to pick up fresh beauty tips!).

My interest in Charlotte Tilbury products had been piqued by the many rave reviews I’d read from beauty bloggers and writers whose opinion I trust. I liked the brand’s practical approach to helping every girl master her own beauty routine by the wide range of ‘how-to’ videos available, and the playful side to Charlotte Tilbury’s products also appealed to me. The core products are categorised into 10 different ‘looks,’ ranging from ‘The Rebel’ to ‘The Ingenue,’ and you get to choose which one(s) appeal to you the most. Debating which look I’d go for (should I embrace my inner rockstar, or channel Audrey Hepburn?!), I arrived at Fenwick ready to enjoy myself and see if Charlotte Tilbury lived up to the hype.

Miranda Loves | Charlotte Tilbury

I was lucky as I had the only make-up session booked that afternoon, and the lovely beauty consultant Katerina (do ask for her if you ever fancy getting a similar consultation at Fenwick – she was truly fabulous!) handed me a glass of Buck’s Fizz and proceeded to guide me through more information about the brand and also do a truly fabulous job on my make-up.

It probably won’t come as a shock to any of you that the look I settled on was ‘The Sophisticate,’ which is apparently inspired by beauty icons Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Portman (in the end, I always go for a classically elegant look!). I absolutely loved everything Katerina used to create ‘The Sophisticate’ and ended up getting the Sophisticate Beauty Box so I could add my own twist to the look at home. It’s hard for me to pinpoint a favourite product, as everything really is great quality: I love the eyeshadow palette that is equally good for day or night with pretty tones that I feel really complement brown eyes. A surprise favourite for me is the lipstick, as I don’t generally go for such pale tones, but this shade is perfect for an understated lip and still gives enough colour to be flattering (especially when paired with the gloss). At work the other day, a woman asked if I was wearing blusher, and if so, which one, as it looked so natural and youthful! I was wearing the Sex on Fire CT blusher, which – no surprise – has become a daily staple for me!

Miranda Loves | Charlotte Tilbury

Impressed by the makeup, if anything I loved the Charlotte Tilbury skincare range even more, which Katerina used before applying my makeup. The famous ‘magic cream‘ lived up to expectation: it’s wonderfully rich, but not cloying, and I’m rapidly making my way through the small pot that came with my Sophisticate box. I also completely fell for the Goddess Mask (which I’ve now got my mum hooked on too!). The mask is a real miracle worker, leaving my skin feeling glowing, plumped and hydrated: it’s perfect to apply before a big day or event where you know you’ll want to look your very best. Also, once I run out of my current cleanser, I’m going to try the Charlotte Tilbury one as I loved it when I got to try it out at Fenwick.

Are any of you Charlotte Tilbury fans (I know I’m a little slow to the party here), or have you too been pondering whether to try any of her products? If you’re tempted to book a consultation at Fenwick, it’s worth noting that the make-up session costs £45, redeemable against your purchase(s).

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Please note: this post has not been sponsored in any way (I always mention it if a post is done in collaboration with a brand).

3 Easy Hairstyles + Messy Bun Tutorial

Favourite Hairstyles + Messy Bun Tutorial

I am rather terrible with hair. It’s just not my thing. I never use curling tongs or flat irons, and the one time I attempted giving myself a proper ‘blow out’ I managed to blow all my makeup off the counter (and did not achieve sleek glossy curls in the process).

My ineptitude with managing my locks does, however, mean I’ve become expert at spotting genuinely fool-proof hairstyles. Here are three of my favourites:

3 Easy Hair Styles + Messy Bun Tutorials

1/ The braided up-do is a classic. Simply part your hair down the middle, plait the two sections, cross over your head and pin into place.

2/ A top-knot is a great way to look more elegant. Pull your hair into a high ponytail, split into sections and backcomb them to add volume. Wrap around the ponytail to form a bun and pull it out to form your desired shape.

3/ Wearing your hair half up, half down is so easy, but if you add a pretty ribbon it adds a touch of youthful whimsy to your look.

Messy Bun

Finally, my favourite way to do my hair when I’m having a bit of a bad hair day (or I’m in a rush) is to put it up in a messy bun. This look is incredibly easy to achieve, but it always gets complimented. In fact, after my Pidgin, Hackney post, a few people asked for a tutorial on how I do my hair this way, so here it is! I hope you enjoy it! Press play on the video below or follow this link to view my messy bun tutorial:

What are your favourite easy hairstyles?

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Beauty Tips for When You Have a Cold

Beauty Tips For When You Have a Cold

As we enter the season of snuffles and coughs, I thought it would be useful to pull together my top beauty tips for when you’re battling a cold. Last weekend, I did a little modelling for an online magazine, and I was rather anxious about the shoot because I’d been sick with a cold for the past couple of weeks and felt I looked far from my best. Fortunately, though, I’ve got so used (as a Primary school teacher) to covering up the tell-tale signs of a head cold, that I knew exactly which products to reach for to help me fake a healthy complexion. Here are my tops tips (and here’s hoping you won’t need them!):

hydrate

This is the single most important tip! Your skin tends to get horribly dry when you have a cold, and keeping it as hydrated as possible is crucial and will help with any redness too. The products I always use when my skin is a flaky mess drastically in need of rescuing are: Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Mask and Chanel’s Hydra Beauty Serum. For a wonderfully quick fix, I apply the Burt’s Bees mask and simply remove any excess by gently pressing my face with a piece of tissue. When in the midst of a cold, I take care to apply the mask a couple of times just around my mouth and nose during the day. This is the best trick I’ve found for diminishing a red nose asap!

It’s also important to keep your fluids up when you’re sick, so add some slices of lemon and some mint to a jug of water and keep pouring during the day.

exfoliate

Key to regaining a smooth, even skin tone is exfoliating. I like to use an exfoliating cleanser, such as Chantecaille’s Rice and Geranium Foaming Cleanser, or Emma Hardie’s Rosehip Exfoliating Seeds. Also, I love my Clarisonic, which I always use whenever I’m having a skincare related emergency! It’s the best tool to get rid of pesky spots or flaky skin.

avoidlipstick

My lips suffer terribly when I’m sick and seem to become dry and cracked within a day. I slather on lip balm in favour of lipstick (by Terry’s rose balm is gorgeous, not least because it has a beautiful rose scent), and if I do get made up, I take care to go for strong eye make up paired with a dab of dewy pink gloss on the lips (a favourite is this Chanel one). There’s nothing worse than a bold red lip colour when your lips are chapped.

concealer

When getting made up, I find I have to use more concealer than usual to help cover any red areas (and the inevitable bags under the eyes). It’s a good idea to apply blush only very lightly (as you’re bound to have more pink in your face than normal), but make sure you use a powder to set your make up, as I find when I’m sick that makeup wears off even more quickly (especially when you’re sneezing into a hanky all the time!). I love Eve Lom’s Sheer Radiance Powder which adds a glowing finish to your makeup routine.

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Ultimately, when you’re feeling awful, it’s best to stay in bed and catch up on your favourite TV show(s). When life dictates that you must drag yourself out from the duvet and show your face in public, though, then I hope all the above tips will be useful!

Wishing you all a very healthy and happy start to the autumn! What are your best tips for looking your best, even when feeling your worst?

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Wedding Dressing: My Top Tips

Wedding Dressing : My Top Style Tips{Rachel Riley dress (similar dress here or skirt here); Maggie Mowbray headband (which I bought in her sample sale, but I also love this headband that is very reasonably priced too); Rachel Riley bolero (similar here); Audrey ‘Icon’ clutch bag (very similar here); L.K. Bennett shoes (similar here); Kate Spade watch (similar here); Lindex earrings (similar here)}

Over the weekend, I piled on the make-up to cover up my red nose, packed as many tissues as my clutch bag could contain and headed to Ironmongers’ Hall for my friends’ wedding. Happily, in between days of steady downpour, the sun shone brilliantly on Saturday, reflecting the feelings of exuberance and joy on such a happy day.

Ironmongers’ Hall was in fact built in 1925 in a Tudor style to reflect the golden age of craft in the 16th century, and it certainly made an imposing and beautiful setting for a wedding, as well as a stark contrast to the urban jungle that is the surrounding Barbican Centre. A labyrinth of fascinating architecture mixing old and new, I don’t think there’s anywhere else quite like The Barbican. If you’ve never done it, then I urge you to take a walk through the estate’s highwalks: it’s a remarkable experience.

But back to the wedding! I always enjoy getting dressed up for an occasion, and this time I decided to opt for a monochrome, but still summery look of white and navy. Swans are known to mate for life, so I couldn’t think of a more wedding-appropriate pattern, and I had fun continuing the theme with my choice of headpiece. The bride (like me) is a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, so of course I had to bring my Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed clutch.

However fun it is, getting ready for a wedding (even when you’re just a guest!) can be rather a minefield, so below I’ve put together my top tips for keeping stylish during wedding season. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

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Wedding Dressing – My Top Style Tips:

1/ Comfort First.

Comfort is crucial. Weddings usually last for several hours, if not most of the day and into the night, and dressing stylishly and yet comfortably should be a number one priority. Don’t wear materials that crease badly (you’ll be constantly sitting and standing, so creases will set in no time) or a dress that is very tight (think of the wedding breakfast and cake, as well as all the nibbles and alcohol that are served throughout the day). Bring a change of shoes too – a pair of sparkly flats is ideal for the evening when your feet are killing you, but you still want to dance!

2/ Bring a bag you can check.

Take advantage of the cloakroom and check a bag filled with some essentials: your change of shoes, a shrug or shawl in case you feel cold, sunscreen, plasters and a bottle of water. Carry a little clutch filled only with what you really need: your phone, money, tissues and a lipstick.

3/ Consider the type of headgear that’s appropriate.

I’m rather opinionated when it comes to hats, and I tend to feel that large, Ascot style ones in particular look a little ridiculous after 6pm. If you’re going to a wedding that lasts well into the evening, with dancing into the night, then a smart cocktail hat or a pretty headpiece is your best option. Ideally, you would have the opportunity to change from afternoon to evening wear (in which case, remove your hat altogether and opt instead for a sparkly hair clip for the evening), but if changing isn’t an option then make sure you choose headwear that will look appropriate on the dance floor! I loved my Maggie Mowbray headband, which I felt carried well into the evening, but could also be easily removed when the dancing started.

4/ Make sure your beauty look is set to last.

A long-lasting makeup and hair style is generally a good idea for any all-day occasion. All the photos in this post were taken after I’d already been at the wedding for 6 hours (and had left home, makeup on, 1 1/2 hrs before that!), and I hadn’t had a chance to touch up at all, so I was glad I’d gone for such a long-lasting look! Take time to set your foundation with powder and layer your eye shadow. Also, remember to wear a little extra blush, as photos often whiten out your complexion. If you feel you’re likely to cry at the heartfelt ‘I dos’ then make sure you’ve chosen waterproof mascara! Putting your hair up and applying a liberal amount of hair spray will keep it off your face and looking sleek for hours on end.

5/ Don’t Spend a Fortune.

I really don’t believe in special shopping trips just for one occasion. In fact, the only item I bought for this wedding was the feather headband (as a sample sale piece, so it was greatly reduced), and I intend to get plenty more wear out of it for other future weddings and ballet outings (I figure I have to wear this outfit to see Swan Lake). The dress is another sale purchase from a few years ago. Rather than rushing out to buy a new outfit, I always advise ‘shopping in your closet’ first. Being creative with how you can pull outfits together in different ways is always a lot of fun, and sometimes all it takes is a pretty headpiece to tie a whole look together. Finally: don’t be boring! Have fun playing with unconventional patterns or bright colours.

What are your top tips for wedding dressing?

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Guide to Marylebone Village

Marylebone Village Guide | Miranda's Notebook

Marylebone Village, comprising Marylebone High Street and its surrounding streets, is one of my very favourite areas of London. It’s a shoppers’ heaven, with its all too tempting range of homeware, food and fashion shops. There’s also an abundance of wonderful restaurants, cafes and pubs, making it one of my favourite places to go to meet up with friends.

Here, then, is my guide to the area, which highlights many of my favourite spots.

Fashion

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++ Sandro. My favourite place to shop for fitted dresses, unusual silk blouses and sleek blazers.

++ Agnes B. I adore everything in Agnes B – the hats and handbags are always a great buy, and it’s the perfect place to pick up a LBD, unusual t-shirt or patterned skirt.

++ Theory.  To die for basics (they make the most perfect t-shirts), as well as stylish statement pieces.

++ Matches. Swoon-worthy clothes everywhere.

++ Toast. I love Toast for comfy cords in the winter and floaty, loose dresses in the summer.

++ Rachel Riley. Rachel Riley is famed for her children’s clothes (Prince George is often seen in her boys’ clothing), but I also am a huge fan of her women’s clothes, which boast her signature retro cuts and bright, pretty patterns. This is the perfect place to pick up a dress perfect for a picnic or summer garden party.

++ Bonpoint. A French children’s clothes company that make the sweetest outfits. Harper Beckham is a fan!

Food

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++ La Fromagerie. A cheese lover’s paradise. Its ‘cheese room’ has shelves upon shelves of the most delicious cheeses from all over the world, and an abundance of fresh produce is for sale as well, making it the place to go for the freshest of fruits and vegetables. Happily, there are also benches and tables where you can sit and order light meals, wine and cheese boards or coffee and cake.

++ Rococo. Across the road from La Fromagerie, Rococo sells the most amazing chocolates. Their different flavoured chocolate bars, which are wrapped in the prettiest of papers, make lovely gifts, and they have spectacular chocolate designs (I’m a big fan of the quail’s eggs and asparagus shaped chocolates!).

++ Fishworks. For fresh fish to take home and cook, or for ordering some fish & chips!

++ Kusmi Tea. I love a good cup of tea, and the French company Kusmi Tea offers a spectacular range. The shop is a beautiful place to visit, as its full of colourful canisters of tea.

++ La Patisserie des Reves. For some of the daintiest French cakes you’ve ever seen.

Homeware

Marylebone Village Guide | Miranda's Notebook Marylebone Village Guide | Miranda's NotebookMarylebone Village Guide | Miranda's Notebook

++ The Conran Shop. This is a brilliant place to shop for gifts, as there is a great selection of distinctive homeware, stationery, chocolates and children’s toys. There’s also a pleasant cafe at the back of the shop to rest weary feet once you’ve tired of shopping.

++ Skandium. My favourite Scandinavian design shop, which sells Marimekko fabric, as well as gorgeous things for the kitchen and home.

++ The Designers Guild. I always sigh over the beautiful furniture in this shop, although the (extremely pretty) candles are more within my price range!

++ Caravane. There is lots more stunning furniture in this shop, and I also love their small but tasteful collection of jewellery that looks exactly the sort of thing ultra chic French women wear.

++ Emma Bridgewater. I love her quintessentially English chinaware.

Flowers

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++ Jane Packer. This is one of the loveliest florists I’ve ever visited. Jane Packer bouquets are always tasteful as well as beautiful, and the shop also hosts classes in flower arranging which I’m sure would be fantastic to attend.

++ Street stalls. There always seem to be street florists selling along Marylebone High Street, and this time of year they’re groaning with big bunches of colourful peonies.

Beauty

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++ Vaishaly Patel. Recommended by beauty guru India Knight, this is where I often go to get my eyebrows threaded (their signature facial is apparently fantastic as well.). It’s by far my favourite beauty salon, as the service is so excellent, and the space is calming and peaceful: I feel relaxed as soon as I step in through the door.

++ Diptyque. I know it’s a cliche, but what blogger doesn’t love a Diptyque candle?!

++ Cologne & Cotton. As well as pretty, high quality bedding and homeware, C&C is my favourite place in the area to shop for perfume and bathroom products, such as pretty soaps and hand creams. They also stock a selection of vintage bottles and jars that are brilliant for storing cotton pads and bath salts. I love the range of perfume, which includes Miller Harris and Annick Goutal.

Books

Marylebone Village Guide | Miranda's Notebook Marylebone Village Guide | Miranda's Notebook

++ Daunt Books. No visit to Marylebone Village is complete without a peek inside this fabulous book shop. Daunt Books has a superbly curated selection of fiction and non-fiction, and there is an emphasis on travel literature, with many of its shelves arranged by country. It’s also a beautiful space, with high ceilings and huge skylight, and I always look forward to their author events and the annual Spring Literary Festival.

Eat

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++ Pierre Marcolini. Oh my goodness, macaron lovers you will WORSHIP this place. The most delectable macarons, eclairs and chocolates are served here, and they are so worth every calorie. Grab a table outside, order your heart’s content of sweet treats and a coffee and feel exactly like you’re in Paris.

++ Orerry. Located above the Conran Shop, you can look out over Marylebone High Street and St Marylebone Parish Church whilst eating exquisite French food. The service is some of the best I’ve ever come across, making every meal there truly a delightful experience.

++ Aubaine. A great choice for a breakfast or a light bite.

++ Le Relais de Venise. Steak frites is the only thing on the menu, but oh, it is delicious. This is always one of my top 5 birthday meal choices.

++ Le Pain Quotidien. This is by far my favourite branch of the chain. I love sitting in their big windows especially – it’s an ideal spot for people watching.

++ The Nordic Bakery. You have not lived until you’ve tried their cinnamon rolls.

Drink

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++ Coco Momo. This is a fun bar to meet up with friends for after work drinks and a bite to eat.

++ The Providores. Enjoy a glass of wine and some tapas style nibbles at this Marylebone Village institution.

++ Orrery Roof Terrace. The roof terrace at Orrery is always a brilliant spot to enjoy the sunshine and a glass of wine or cocktail. Pots of lavender scent the air, the sofas are wonderfully comfortable and complimentary dishes of olives and nuts are frequently replenished as you sip your drinks. It’s pure bliss.

Quiet

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++ The Old Church Garden. This is a sweet, peaceful little garden with plenty of benches that provides a welcome respite from the busy crowds of Marylebone High Street.

++ Marylebone Mews. There are so many mewses surrounding the High Street that are well worth exploring. Tucked away from the main roads, they offer little pockets of tranquility in a busy area.

++ The Wallace Collection. I adore The Wallace Collection (you can read more about it in this guest post I wrote), which houses an impressive collection of French paintings, china and furniture in stunningly beautiful rooms. This museum is well worth a visit (and is even free entry!), and their cafe is lovely too.

There is honestly so much to explore and so much that is delightful in Marylebone Village that it is impossible to mention it all, but these are certainly my highlights. Have you explored much in the area? Did I leave out any of your favourite places? Do please let me know your recommendations!

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Miranda Loves: Chanel’s CC Cream

chanelCCcream

My current beauty obsession is Chanel’s latest CC cream, which I’ve been using on a daily basis as part of my go-to spring makeup routine. Colour correcting cream is super for evening out skin tone (I have quite a lot of red in my face), but still providing moisturising benefits.

I’m obsessed with Chanel’s CC cream, as I find it provides better coverage than tinted moisturiser, but isn’t as thick as foundation and is extremely easy to apply quickly with your fingers. It has a smooth, velvety texture and smells pretty great too. As a skincare fanatic, I also love that is has SPF 50 – perfect for heading into summer!

I have never had any luck with CC creams in the past – generally they just look orange and horrible on my (admittedly very) pale skin, but Chanel has now brought out a range of tones, and number 20 Beige is perfect for me (amazingly, it’s not even the palest offered!).

Have you tried a CC cream before? Which is your favourite?

++ View more Miranda Loves posts here ++

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The Perfume Society Workshop

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I absolutely LOVE perfume and have an embarrassingly large number of beautiful bottles of the stuff in my bathroom cupboard, by my bedside, on my desk, artistically arranged on my dresser…in fact, wherever you are in my flat, you’re bound to be only a few feet away from a bottle of scent. I wear different fragrances for work, weekends, evenings and when I go to bed. I am seriously addicted!

You can imagine, then, how excited I was last Saturday to attend The Perfume Society‘s How To Improve Your Sense of Smell workshop, held at the fantastic perfume shop Les Senteurs (another gem of Portman Village). I know I’ve raved about my love for The Perfume Society before, but honestly, if you’re a fan of the smelly stuff, then I’d definitely recommend becoming a member. My membership (£25 for the year) has brought me so much joy already, largely through the fantastic events I’ve been able to attend. The Lankaran Forest party was the best event I’ve ever been to, and the How to Improve Your Sense of Smell workshop made for a truly fabulous Saturday afternoon. Better yet, both these events were free!

The Perfume Society Workshop | Miranda's Notebook

I’d never been to Les Senteurs before, and goodness, it is beautiful! Mum (who is also a Perfume Society member) and I had arrived a little early, so we spent some time wandering around the charming shop and sniffing rapturously at lots of delicious scents. I was especially excited to see an extensive collection of Frederic Malle perfumes. I’d heard about Frederic Malle many times before (his Carnal Flower seems to have rather a cult following amongst the lifestyle / beauty blogger crowd), but had never had the chance to try his perfumes before. Frederic Malle scents are special in that emphasis is placed, not on branding, but on the ‘nose’ behind the perfume: each of the fragrances are created by a well-known perfumer, and their name is placed upon the bottle. I instantly fell for Carnal Flower (an exquisite tuberose) and Portrait of a Lady (a floral oriental with surely the best name ever, especially for book lovers!). Interestingly, both these scents were made by the same perfumer – Dominique Ropion. Obviously, I’m an admirer of his work! Sadly, Frederic Malle perfumes are definitely not cheap, but luckily Les Senteurs sells 10ml phials, so I was able to pick up a couple to try out and decide which I liked best before spending a great deal more money.

The Perfume Society Workshop | Miranda's Notebook

I really must point out that the service at Les Senteurs is impeccable. It would be easy to feel intimidated in the shop, as there are no price lists on display, but fortunately, this only encourages interaction with the staff, who are absolutely lovely and not in the least pretentious. I always feel that quality of service can really make or break a shopping experience, and the lovely people at Les Senteurs played a big part in making the afternoon fantastic. If you’re an absolute perfume novice, but are dying to find a scent that suits you, then I’d suggest Les Senteurs would be a brilliant place to start, as, from my experience, the service is incredibly knowledgable, respectful and fun!

The Perfume Society Workshop | Miranda's Notebook

But back to the workshop! At the start we were all led downstairs, where tables and chairs were set up. As a guest of The Perfume Society, you really are made to feel pampered: plates of delicious chocolate biscuits and jugs of water were placed on all the tables, and everyone was offered their choice of tea or coffee. A pretty, brightly coloured Perfume Society Notebook, with a mini Green & Black’s Maya Gold chocolate bar strategically centred on the top, was placed in front of each chair. The point of the chocolate was soon made clear: in a fun experiment to see how much sense of smell really affects taste, we were told to hold our noses as we chewed a square of chocolate. As soon as we let our noses go, the sudden burst of flavour from the chocolate was quite astonishing.

The Perfume Society Workshop | Miranda's Notebook

I had actually been a little nervous of the event, as I don’t think I have a great sense of smell and always seem to find it difficult to pinpoint specific scents. I don’t much enjoy wine tastings, as I always seem to get the wine completely wrong. When most people talk about smelling notes of pear and apple, I’m often thinking the wine smells of tinned asparagus!

To my joy, though, the perfume workshop wasn’t about trying to pinpoint the different elements of each of the scents we tested blind. Instead, we were told to simply have a sniff and then jot down in our notebooks the thoughts, memories, pictures and emotions that each perfume conjured in our mind’s eye. As the leader of the workshop (a lovely lady whose name I sadly cannot remember) said, smell is so closely linked to our feelings and memories, that it is more important, when picking a perfume, to concentrate on what that perfume makes you think of, or how it makes you feel, then the exact ingredients within it. This experiment was so much fun, and I definitely recommend trying it yourself with any perfume samples you have at home! For me, one light, fresh perfume conjured a vision of newly washed white linen blouses flapping in the breeze on a washing line; whilst another made me think of the words: ‘bouquet of flowers, lilac ribbon, string of pearls and cameo brooch.’ The latter perfume turned out to be Ruth Mastenbroek’s Amorosa (pictured above), which was my favourite of the three perfumes we tested.

The Perfume Society Workshop | Miranda's Notebook

What was really fascinating, was how often people had similar reactions to the scents. One fragrance conjured up the image of an old dressing up box stored in the attic for a few people, and another made several think of a mechanic carrying oily rags (this was definitely my least favourite perfume…)! The atmosphere was friendly and intimate, with less than 20 people at the event, and at the end everyone got out their favourite perfume which we’d been asked to bring along and we all had fun exchanging our perfume stories and smelling each other’s favourites.

The Perfume Society Workshop | Miranda's Notebook

I honestly had the best afternoon at this event, and I can’t wait to attend more. Are you a fan of perfume? Do you have a favourite? In case you’re interested, the one I brought to the event was Chanel’s Chance Eau Tendre (not that I have only one favourite perfume, but I find this is the perfume I reach for on a daily  basis the most at the moment).

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