Sunday, 19 June 2016

Travel: Things to Do In Budapest

View across the Danube from the Siklo

A little bit of a different post from me today - not related to beauty in the slightest. I'm a little nervous stepping outside of my comfort zone as beauty products have always been my main focus on this blog. I decided to leave the decision up to you guys and posted a poll on Twitter - would any of you be interested in a travel post? 100% of you voted to see what I got up to on my little trip away to Budapest, so without further ado....

We got the most amazing deal when it came to flights and accommodation; we booked a package holiday through Expedia for 5 days costing a grand total of £179 per person. I'm never too fussed about staying in a luxury hotel when I'm on a short city break - as long as I get to see a lot of the city and have somewhere relatively comfy to catch some z's I'm more than happy. We opted to stay in the Ibis Styles Budapest Center and I have no complaints at all. The location was fantastic and so close to one of the main Underground Stations so everywhere was easily accessible. The rooms were spacious and clean and the staff were really friendly and would go out of their way to help you. If you're looking for luxury though, this hotel won't be for you but I'd definitely have no problem staying here again.

I'll attempt to condense this section into 'must see' areas of Budapest as there is plenty to do and it caters for so many different interests. During city breaks, I enjoy a mix of culture, sightseeing and relaxing and this city most definitely doesn't disappoint.

If culture/buildings/monuments is your thing then you need to take a trip to Parliament in the
Lipótváros region. You'll find the most well kept, beautiful buildings; I couldn't quite believe how clean these buildings were considering their age. Heroes Square is well worth a visit too where you can find the impressive Millenium Monument. My favourite was most definitely the Basilica of St Stephen, the architecture was just breath taking and I loved it so much that we went back to see it again!
Parliament Building
After enjoying the sights of Heroes Square, we opted for some well deserved relaxation in the form of the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. I can't recommend this place enough, granted, it's a little bit strange as you're technically having a large bath with loads of strangers but it was so relaxing; wallowing in a warm thermal pool for hours surrounded by beautiful old buildings is my idea of heaven. I was slightly disappointed as I was expecting the water to be boiling hot (the signs said it would be 28 degrees), however, it was definitely more lukewarm than hot. Still lovely, but warmer water would be my personal preference. I'd also highly recommend taking your own swimming costumes, flip flops and towels because we hired ours and it was so expensive!
Széchenyi baths

Next, we hopped on the Underground heading for the Víziváros district and spent a whole day sightseeing in the gorgeous weather- this was probably the most jam packed day of the entire trip. We stopped just before our destination so we could stroll across the Széchenyi Bridge. We then took the Castle Hill Funicular Railway (Sikló) to the top of the castle where there are some spectacular views across the Danube. The Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastian and the Magdelene Tower are all a must see in this area too. If you're not a fan of crowds then this area will probably not be for you as it's full of so many tourists all trying to photograph the same stunning views. I swear I even saw some elbowing for the best space going on at some points!

I need to mention the Gellért Hills too, while there is not too much to do there, it is also famous for it's fabulous views - we walked along the Liberty Bridge and you can see miles and miles of Budapest. There's some quirky cafes and restaurants in this area too; we stopped for a cold drink in an Alice in Wonderland themed café!
Liberty Bridge
There is such a relaxed vibe and a real buzz when it comes to the nightlife in Budapest. The Hungarians seem to know how to have a good time; there is something for everyone from quiet restaurants and bars if you'd prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle to packed nightclubs if you want dancing and a little craziness.
Two venues really stood out for me; the Vintage Garden Restaurant and the 360 Rooftop Bar. We had a delicious meal at the Vintage Garden Restaurant and ended up getting accidentally very drunk on their amazing cocktails. The Oreo cheesecake and the chocolate dipped strawberries we had for dessert were to die for. It's very aptly named as the interior is all in the style of a vintage garden!
The 360 Bar is an absolute must - it's a rooftop bar that allows you a '360' view of the whole of Budapest which is just incredible. There are fairy lights everywhere, a DJ and so many varieties of wine, beer and cocktails. It was so busy we couldn't find a seat at first - they have everything from high tables, benches and bean bags. I did feel like I wasn't really cool enough to be in a place like this as it was extremely cosmopolitan but the staff were so friendly and really made you feel welcome. I've never been anywhere like it before; it's expensive to get in but well worth it just for the experience.
360 Bar
Budapest has jumped right up there as one of the best European cities I have ever visited, I loved everything from the culture to the people and the nightlife. I'd highly recommend visiting if you ever get the chance!
Have you ever been to Budapest? Is there anything else you can recommend when taking a trip to this beautiful city?

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Fran's Beauty Blog Turns One | Reflections

So this post is a little overdue as my blog birthday has already been and gone - 17th May 2016 to be precise. However, I wanted to take a little time to reflect on the past year of blogging; what I have achieved, how far I've come and what blogging means to me. A whole year of blogging seems to have passed in the blink of an eye, so here's an update now Fran's Beauty Blog has turned one.

It goes without saying that this part of the post won't be for everyone, but stats and figures are all part of my blog's progress and development. I figured some of you would want to see/ have a nosey at how far my blog has come statistically in 365 days:

Twitter: 2, 445 followers
Pinterest: 401 followers
Bloglovin': 630 followers
Page Views: 21, 904
DA: 20

Stats wise, while my blog is by no means 'well known' or 'recognised', it's still quite overwhelming to go from creating an account on Blogger in the hope that one person in the world may possibly read your posts, to building a loyal following/readership. I'm so happy and grateful that I've managed to hit 20K+ profile views, 2K+ Twitter followers and over 600+ followers on Bloglovin' all of which have been significant milestones for me personally. Some may not agree, but I'm a firm believer that number of followers does not equal success; engagement and retaining the interest of my readers is much higher on my agenda.

I love nothing more than engaging with other bloggers, taking inspiration, discussing common interests and just generally having a good ol' friendly chat. I'm not going to sugar coat it though, the blogging community is one of the best and worst parts of blogging in equal amounts. It is a fact that you will never see eye to eye with everyone, personalities will clash and people will not always agree with your point of view. I'll openly admin that I've thrown shade and people have thrown shade at me, it's just life and life is not all sunshine and rainbows much though we would love that to be the case. Don't get me wrong though, I have struck up some incredible online friendships with the most innovative, kind, supportive and creative individuals and that is something I wouldn't change for the world.

It's a common misconception that every blogger receives PR samples/'freebies' from brands on a regular basis. I have rarely been contacted by brands in my first year of blogging and that aspect is only starting to gain some traction now as my blog reaches a slightly wider audience. I have collaborated with Hugo Boss on this fragrance post and Debenhams on this Chloé Perfume Review  here , both of which were fantastic experiences and have given me a small insight into dealing with brands professionally. I am, however, extremely picky as to who I choose to work with and what I will review on my blog. I have rejected around 90% of PR/brand opportunities because my blog will only ever include relevant product reviews that I believe my readers will find interesting/helpful. If you're considering starting a blog in the hope that you will receive several 'free' products, I can promise you you're starting a blog for all the wrong reasons.

As it stands at the minute, I don't measure my blogging success/achievements in terms of numbers. While I have included my stats in this post for any of you that are interested, that is not something that is overly important to me  - I get excited when I reach a milestone, but blogging is much more than that for me. Before starting my blog, I felt that my life was lacking in something but I couldn't quite put my finger on what that 'something' was. My blog is my hobby and it hasn't been life changing but it has given me an outlet to explore my creativity once again which I thoroughly enjoy and it was definitely as aspect of my life that needed reigniting.

Here's to another year (hopefully 10) of Fran's Beauty Blog - thank you so much to every single person that visits/engages with my little space on the internet, I'm forever grateful!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Boots Haul: New Beauty Additions

So, nipping in to Boots in your lunch hour is up there with one of my most dangerous things you can do. I went in with the intention of "browsing" and £50 later, came out with a little haul. My makeup bag was in need of a refresher though, so that's how I'm justifying it. Had to be done. There seems to be a bit of a pink theme going on, this wasn't intentional I just picked up the products that caught my eye at the time!

(L-R) Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Lipstick in Pommiegirl, Sleek Matte Me Lip Cream in Velvet Slipper, Sleek Matte Me Lip Cream in Shabby Chic, Barry M Illuminating Strobe Cream
Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Lipstick in Pommiegirl - firstly, as you can imagine, this product caught my eye because of it's beautiful, shiny packaging - it comes in 3 colours pink, red and rose gold depending on the finish of the lipstick. I opted for a matte finish as I can't get enough of matte at the minute. The berry colour is gorgeous and it feels so comfortable to wear on the lips. I thought the bright shade would be great as we come into the Summer months. I was really impressed with how long lasting this lipstick was too and you won't need to reapply continuously.
Barry M Illuminating Strobe Cream in Frosty Pink - I absolutely love this highlighter. I swatched it in store and couldn't quite believe the intensity. It's a full on 'my face looks like the moon' kinda glow and my blog swatch really doesn't do it any justice. It comes in two shades Frosty Pink and Iced Bronze, I opted for Frosty Pink as it suits my paler skin but Iced Bronze would be great for anyone with olive/darker skin. It's so easy to apply and gives an intense, dewy finish. Like most cream products, it does slightly move your foundation so you may require a couple of foundation touch ups.
Sleek Matte Me Lip Cream in Shabby Chic - I only purchased this a few days ago and I've already worn it every single day, I'm obsessed. The shade is a dusky pink which is ideal for my skin tone and goes with so many different looks. I love the formula as it dried quickly and I didn't experience any drying or flaking which often happens with matte lipsticks. I didn't find it overly long lasting but you can excuse that because the shade and formula is brilliant.
Sleek Matte Me Lip Cream in Velvet Slipper - Strangely, while I was really impressed with 'Shabby Chic', this shade/formula just didn't quite compare. I was initially drawn in by the shade as it looked stunning, however, when I applied it I found that it didn't apply evenly and dried darker in some areas than others which made it look patchy. I'm also not the most careful when I'm applying lip products and tend to make mistakes but when I tried to neaten this product up, it stained the skin around my lips. It's a real shame as I wanted to love this as much as I loved Shabby Chic.
Benefit Hoola Bronzer - I've been lusting after this for a while but being so pale I tend to avoid bronzer at all costs. However, this product is perfect if you have pale skin like me. I apply this to the areas that I would usually contour for a more subtle, warm glow - it blended well and didn't leave me with that 'muddy' look that I was dreading!
Sleek Solstice Highlighting Palette - I'm yet to try this product but thought I better include it considering it was part of the haul. I'm really excited to swatch it as I've seen/read lots of good things but I felt it needed a post of it's own with swatches included. So far, I love the variety as it includes two baked powders, a shimmer powder and a cream highlighter.
Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Acai Smoothie - I can just tell that this nail polish will grace my fingernails on several occasions this Spring/Summer. I love pastel colours as it starts to get warmer and they look great with a tan (if I ever manage to get one). It appears lilac in the bottle but I'd say it's more of a deep pink with slight purple tones. Either way, it's beautiful and the application felt seamless thanks to the smooth formula.  
Have you tried any of these products? What new additions have you got in your makeup bag?

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Spring Lip Picks 2016

It's only as I type up this post I realise that while I very rarely wear lipgloss, all four of my favourite Spring lip products are glosses. Look at me stepping out of my comfort zone, eh? I'm just enjoying something a little lighter on the lips as the weather gets (sort of) slightly warmer because I'm pretty sure that lipstick makes your mouth sweat right? Nope, just me then....
(L-R) L'Oreal Paris Color Riche Extraordinaire in Rose Symphony,  MAC Cremesheen Glass in Loud & Lovely, Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Celestial, Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in Nude-ist.

L'Oreal Color Riche Extraordinaire this gloss is a blogger's dream when it comes to the packaging - shiny and gold! It's an orangey-pink shade which I wouldn't normally go for but it looks really pretty when applied and brightens up my makeup for Spring. The formula is slightly on the thick side for me and the applicator is what I can only describe as fluffy which can make application a little messy. I always need to clean up the edges. Nothing too major though, I'm still a big fan of these.

MAC Cremesheen Glass I feel so girly and feminine when I wear this bubblegum pink gloss, it's gorgeous. I tend to wear this if I go out as it's glamorous and adds a little extra something to your makeup look. It feels so comfortable to wear, it's not sticky or drying in the slightest. It's more long lasting than a lot of lip glosses I've tried, however, you will need to keep this in your handbag so you can reapply every now and then throughout the day.

Rimmel Apocalips I can't stop wearing this gloss, it's probably the one that I am most impressed with out of the four - it's so wearable and suits so many different looks, it's not drying and it's long lasting. I also really like the applicator as it has a little groove around the edge that seems to fit the shape of your lips. So pretty much the whole package. I definitely need to purchase some more of these!

Bourjois Velvet Lipstick I'll get the negative out of the way first - I've seen quite a few bloggers comment that these matte lipsticks aren't drying on the lips but that isn't the case for me, I find them so drying so I was a little bit disappointed about that! However, I do love the way these look as they do give a velvet effect on the lips which is a little different and the dusky pink colour is just beautiful and perfect for Spring.

What are you current favourite lipsticks? Do you prefer lipstick or lip gloss?