*This post is sponsored*

We humans are creatures of habit. We all have our particular ways of tackling tasks, functioning in our everyday lives….including our own unique approaches to shopping. We all have favourite stores we sneak into on route to work meetings, and online stores we can’t resist scouring during our lunch breaks. Some of us snack while we shop, our bags providing shelter to an assortment of naughty nibbles. Others text or gossip on their mobiles, while grasping at the rails and feeling up the clothes.

However, these habits and repetition could also be described as boring, stagnant, mundane….a rut if you will. It’s fun to shake things up a little bit, to go out of your comfort zone. Forcing yourself to veer away from your usual path can be incredibly rewarding.

Today I planned to do just this. I was on a serious mission to buy some new beauty goodies that would allow me to try and achieve some of the stand out A/W catwalk trends, updating my well-oiled, 15 year long make-up routine. I was also looking for a change of scene, having tired of the manic nature of shopping in central London and the constant risk of being rained on.

For the last 13 years or so I have visited Reading, not for shopping purposes, but to get muddy in a field while listening to my favourite bands. It’s a fairly swift train journey from my home in Surrey, so I picked the main shopping hub, The Oracle, as one of my new splurge destinations.

Prior to my visit to this mystical shopping land, I  downloaded the shopping centre’s new app The Oracle PLUS [] – which is like having that know-it-all pal with you at all times….but this pal can fit in your hand and doesn’t drive you up the wall. I didn’t want to get distracted from the task at hand, and end up coming home with bags of clothes and home-wares I don’t need, so I used the Search feature to find out what beauty stores were in the centre. 

After perusing the What’s On section and feeling a bit miffed that I would be missing out on a show-stopping and quite frankly adorable forthcoming performance by Bars and Melody, I headed to the Offers tab for a quick perk-me-up. I was thrilled to see that I could get 20% off a Giraffe lunch via the app…more on that later. 

Now on to the goal of today….To attain the necessary beauty products needed to catapult me to ‘on trend’ status by autumn. So surprise, surprise, Black eyeliner is big again this winter. This means no adaptation on my part, considering a moderately thick liner it has been a make-up staple of mine for longer than I wish to admit online. However, this season liner has many different personalities…sexily smudged, feline precision, chunky half measures and even quirky and jagged. To be able to achieve all these looks you really need to invest in a gel…a liquid liner just won’t achieve that smokey look.

(Caption) Using the PLUS app to check for offers and alternative beauty destinations at The Oracle! 

Maybelline’s Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner is the ideal product to nail this trend. The formula gives a wonderfully intense finish. It comes with the addition of a 2 in 1 applicator – one end for defined classic liner looks, the other to create the aforementioned smokey effect. I love how dramatically dark the Noir Black shade is too. Its lasting formula will also be ideal for my upcoming festivals, and tendency my face has for melting during the summer.

The models that weren’t sporting classic black, were flashing bright with graphic pops of coloured liner, green shades being the most popular. Boots, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Kiko have a vast array of options for green eyeliners, but the majority were in pencil form and a large chunk in very subtle dark green shades. If I was going to tick off this trend I wanted to do it with oomph. 

Lancôme Turquoise Precision Eyeliner 

I eventually located Turquoise Precision eyeliner by Lancôme (in Boots and Debenhams), which has glittery particles and gives an extremely contemporary aesthetic. 

YSL Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils!

To enhance these liner looks it is integral to complete the look with lashings of mascara. The magpie in me was drawn to the beautiful golden packaging of YSL’s Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils, which is the perfect choice. 

So while we are talking eyes, copper was a massive story on the A/W catwalk. Metallics can be a bit intimidating for some, but the warmer tones bronze and coppers are far more wearable and complimentary, and they don’t just have to be saved for glam evening occasions.

I don’t need to be tanned all year round, in fact I sort of enjoy the shocked response when I come back from holiday bronzed and glowing….a very different picture to my normal self. That said, I would like the transition from summer golden to autumn pasty to be a little less dramatic…and a little less depressing. I love the idea of dusting my cheeks and nose with a bit of sunshine, courtesy of a bronzer. Boots had a huge amount of options when it came to bronzer, it seems to be a product that more affordable brands do really well. I could have gone for Rimmel and been quite content, but as a renowned chocoholic there was no turning back when stumbling upon this sweet smelling number

(Caption) Bourjois Bronzing Powder and Highlighter duo.

(Caption) L’Oréal Color Riche Le Ombres E3 Infiniment Bronze (BOOTS)

I was tempted by the visual allure and blogger popularity of the extensive Urban Decay palettes in Debenhams, as well as the beauty and the luxury of the Dior eyeshadow sets showcased appealingly in House of Fraser. However, when I stumbled on this rather more affordable L’Oréal number in Boots I realised it ticked all the trend boxes. Warm metallic tones with the opportunity to add dimension with shade and highlights. Done. 

(Caption) Copper eyes 

I don’t need to wax lyrical about the 90’s revival, if you’re on Instagram you will be more than aware of the reappearance of crop tops, chokers and Clueless style checked minis. But one of the most prolific looks has been the matte lip, originally sported by Drew Barrymore, now wholeheartedly endorsed by Kylie Jenner. It was a red matte lip that ruled the runway though, from youthful orangery hues to screen siren post box red and sultry deep scarlets.

When I think of lipstick, I think of MAC, so I headed to their House of Fraser concession to find out which was their best-selling red lippy. Straight away I was handed the Ruby Woo…and within a second another lady asked if she could have one too. I wanted to check it would suit my skin tone with, and post, a tan, and was assured it would still look fab come autumn/winter.

(Caption) Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo £15 (House of Fraser)

 Gloss – on its own or over another lip colour!

It is believed that you are either a gloss person, or a matte person….in the spirit of this expedition, and being open to anything, I decided to delve into both….Yes matte is cool…but how kissable is a glossed up pout?

So brands like Fendi and Rodarte added a translucent shine to the models lips. But it’s a versatile piece of kit too. We also saw models sport a gleam across their cheekbones and eyelids. Gloss can even be used to tame unruly brows. What a clever multitasker.

Lately, due to the number of my friends turning vegan and in turn seeking out cruelty-free beauty products, I have found myself more inclined to consider where and how the products I buy are made. Today, I wanted to seek out some products that were environmentally and ethically conscious. I turned to The Body Shop to buy my multi-purpose clear gloss. 

Body Shop Mint Lip Gloss 

Now, I hope I’m not the only one who wakes up with dry lips. My lips never look soft and smoochable. Apparently lip exfoliation is the answer. Now, I’m pretty lackadaisical when it comes to exfoliating my body, but I hope the smaller surface area will mean this product remains in my routine. After all, there’s no point buying these beautiful lip products if your natural base is in a sorry state…like mine. Like they say when buying underwear…the foundations are so important. In keeping with my hunt for some ethical and natural products I headed to Lush.

Lush Mint Julips Lip Scrub

Going into a Lush store is always a fun and multi-sensory experience, the displays look good enough to eat…and you probably can given the natural nature of their products. The allure of the colours, smell, and fun functionality of the products, makes it terribly hard to come away with just one. However I was being strict today and just purchased this Lip Scrub in Mint Chocolate. I can already foresee this becoming an tastes unreal! 

It is ever so important to refuel even when immersed in a full on day of shopping. You don’t want to risk poor purchase decisions because of a dip in energy now do you? The Oracle has a particularly nice array of eateries, many of which reside by the river. There is almost too much choice – Jamie’s Italian, La Iguanas, Nandos, Strada, Café Rouge and more. 

P.S The bridge that takes you from the main part of the shopping area to the side of the cinema is decorated with gorgeous vivid flowers.

Thankfully the PLUS app, and its list of offers, made it a tad easier to settle on a restaurant for my pit stop. Today Giraffe had a generous 20% off – so I opened the PLUS app, tapped the offer, and scanned the QR code at the till to get the discount – how exciting, and it made me feel great about ‘treating’ myself to lunch on a weekday. 

So after my successful day at The Oracle, I’d thoroughly recommend you too not only switch up your make-up routine for the upcoming season, but venture to new areas and explore alternative shopping environments. I can’t be the only one to feel a bit overwhelmed in our capital city’s sprawling shopping centres. My shoulders felt more relaxed, my jaw less tense, my sweating less profuse. It was quite a relief to shop in a more compact, easy to navigate centre, one that lacked the stress inducing crowds and the need for an unpleasant London commute. 

If you intend visiting, make sure you download The Oracle PLUS app [, so you can discover their great offers and find the shops you need with ease. 

I’ll be heading to some other amazing shopping centres over the next month. Stay tuned.

P.S Offers currently available….

1.       Goodie bag with purchase at Clinique @ HOF. Receive your complimentary selection of goodies when you make a purchase at Clinique in House of Fraser.

2.       Free gift when you buy the Naked Smokey Palette at Urban Decay. Receive a free gift when you purchase an eye shadow  palette from urban Decay’s ever-popular Naked range at House of Fraser.

3.       3 minute beauty offer at Estee Lauder. Receive a 3-minute touch –up at Estee Lauder on your next visit to House of Fraser, Reading.

Leave a Reply