The Complexion Product That'll Get You ALL The 'What's On Your Skin?!' Compliments

5 March 2019

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter

Described as
"a customisable complexion booster [to] illuminate skin and make lines and pores appear smoother"

Meg says...
I'm late to the party with this one, aren't I? In all honestly, I think it's because I've been confused about what it actually is and what it actually does. Is it a primer, a highlighter, a concealer, a bird, a plane? Let's figure it out together, shall we...

As you expect when you buy anything from The Tilbs (and rightly so, as it's a luxury brand that isn't cheap in the slightest) the packaging feels satisfyingly heavy and looks extremely pretty. It's not the most travel-friendly product which is a shame, but the weighty glass and rose-gold lid are kind of worth it!

This is a lightweight, creamy liquid. I wish I could expand further on that but in all honesty, I'm sat at my desk right now with the back of my hand smothered in the stuff and all I'm coming up with is: 1. it's very light 2. ooh, it's creamy! 3. not actually a cream though, more of a liquid... so, there we go.

There are a multitude of ways you can apply this: under makeup as a primer, mixed with your foundation for extra glow, dotted over the high points of your face as a highlighter or simply all over your face by itself. It's extremely, wonderfully versatile!

My personal favourite way to use this is both as a primer and a highlighter. Using the huge doe-foot applicator, I sweep a generous amount over my cheeks, forehead, nose and chin. Next, I place a few dabs of foundation over the Flawless Filter and use my Look Good Feel Better Multi-Tasking Brush to blend everything. I go for another dip and dot the product in a C-shape around my temple onto the tops of my cheekbones, on the bridge of my nose and on my cupid's bow then bounce in with the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge.

I can't quite put my finger on its faint scent but whatever it is, it's clean, non-offensive and disappears once you've blended everything in.

This comes in seven shades from fair to dark. The product doesn't actually leave much colour behind once it's blended in, but obviously you want to get the right one for your skin tone and the Charlotte Tilbury website is really useful for helping you decide this. I use 'Light 2' and it's an absolutely spot-on match for my MAC NC20 colouring!

The perfect 'I'm positively glowing with health and my skin really does look this good naturally' lit from within glow. It practically airbrushes your complexion: pores seem to disappear, dullness is immediately brightened and the word 'flawless' isn't an exaggeration. It blends seamlessly with foundation and really does give this Hollywood-esque red carpet look to your skin, especially when you double up on the old primer/highlighter combination. I feel like it gives a decent amount of coverage also which I wasn't expecting, as I definitely use less foundation and concealer and would happily wear this by itself on good skin days (or 'no makeup' days, wink wink).

I can't imagine any skin type this wouldn't work on either, as you can simply alter the way you apply it. If you're dry then whack it all over like I do, and if you're oily then stick to a few teeny dabs along the tops of your cheekbones for glow (not shine) instead.


The bottom line
I'm absolutely obsessed with it. The first time I used it, I genuinely couldn't stop staring at my skin in the mirror as I'd never seen it look more glowing or perfected before. How did I sleep on this product for so long?! If you haven't tried it, you really must - it's reasonably priced for the difference it makes and you'll be pleasantly surprised by how many "which foundation do you use?" or "your skin is looking great!" comments you'll get. Pinky promise!

Photos by Megan Duffield Photography

The Best Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner You'll Eat In Pai, Thailand

26 February 2019

I'll always remember Pai as being the place where I spent my first Christmas and New Year's outside the UK, the place where my boyfriend Will joined the circus (quite literally) and the place where I enjoyed some of the most delicious food I've ever eaten.

As you've clicked on this post I'm gonna guess that you're a fellow foodie who's heading to Pai (I'm actually here whilst I'm writing this and I'm still jealous of you!) and it's a pleasure to introduce you to these spots. As someone who eats 95% plant-based these are mainly vegetarian and vegan recommendations, however Will eats meat and fish and he loved the following restaurants just as much as I did. Read, visit, eat and enjoy!


Om Garden Café
You could have twenty people in your party and each of them would find something to suit their appetite at Om Garden! They offer 'main meals' such as chickpea curry or pesto penne (both of which I've had and loved), lunch options like soups, salads and sandwiches and an all-day breakfast menu with plenty of avocado toast, savoury crepes and porridges. I'm a big fan of their tempura cauliflower burger (ask for the wasabi mayo on the side, it may make your eyes water!) and really like the green 'tropical garden' decor. They also do a proper cup of tea - we're talking actual Yorkshire Tea teabags, people. I hadn't had a cuppa in about three months and it was a slice of home (and heaven, as if you know me you'll know how much I love my cups of tea!)

Big's Little Café
A popular spot with Brits, probably for the sole fact that they serve hash brows and baked beans! When they say 'little' they aren't kidding, this is a tiny hut where you pull up a stool to the bar and watch the cooks at work. This is your best bet if you're after a classic fry-up - get the big hash brown with all the trimmings and thank me later! They also serve jacket potatoes, baguettes, burgers and more brunch-like options such as Spanish omelettes.

Fat Cat
Organic home-cooked food for a reasonable price, and cats! Their cats are extremely adorable and very friendly - even if the food wasn't great I'd go here to get my cute kitty-fix. They do great herbal teas and coffees (with lots of non-dairy milk options) for about £1, and we always go for the 'on toast' option of scrambled egg or avocado with seeds which is roughly £2.20. Their sandwiches are generously filled and come with salad and chips, and they have a fridge full of vegan desserts like raw cheesecakes.


Na's Kitchen
Probably our most-visited restaurant in Pai, you must come here for a traditional Thai curry! They do all of the classics (green, red, panang, massaman etc) with rice included, so you can get a really decent and delicious feed for around £1.50. Check the back of the menu for their "one dish" options, these are even cheaper and just as tasty! Their spring rolls were also the best we had in Pai - some restaurants give you three tiny ones chopped in half, but theirs is a generous portion. Na is an angel and her warm smile always brightened our day!

Pen's Kitchen
Another cheap and cheerful one that never disappoints, Pen's became our go-to lunch spot as the meals were inexpensive, filling and always full of flavour. The portion sizes are healthy and their panang is to die for - we took two new friends from Colorado here and they agreed! I fell in love with Thai curry soup (with a side of plain rice stirred in) whilst in Pai, and Pen's Thai red or green curry soups with tofu were my favourite.

Charlie & Lek
Continuing with the theme of family-run restaurants that offer amazing Thai food with tiny price tags, we headed here for quick lunches and group meals alike. I didn't like tofu before I came here, which is saying something, as theirs isn't 'mushy' and I especially enjoyed it in their red curry and their vegetarian khao soi. If you haven't tried khao soi before, it's a coconut curry noodle soup from Northern Thailand and it's divine. Other Charlie & Lek recommendations include the papaya salad and the vegetable tempura - and if you're missing red wine, they give you a generous glass (rare in Thailand!) for 100 baht.


Le Rêve de Pai
Hands down one of the best meals I've had in my life. I'm sure that's enough to convince you to enjoy a meal here, but I have more to say so let me proceed... the menu is small and therefore extremely well executed, and from the moment we walked in and ordered two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon we were in love. Good Italian food is extremely uncommon in Pai but this is the real deal: the bruschetta is lovely, the pumpkin soup is wonderfully warming and their cheeseboard is such a pleasure after months without 'proper' cheese. Will had the salmon pasta and I had the mushroom pasta, and I'll forgive you for thinking mine sounds plain as it was anything but! They use dehydrated stalks of shitake mushrooms and I can't even explain how meat-like the texture was - it's the closest thing I've had to steak in years. Combined with silky spaghetti, beautiful red chillies and practically whole garlic cloves, it was genuinely my perfect pasta dish and every mouthful was sheer heaven. Our bill came to around £25-£30 with red wine and G&Ts included and was the perfect 'let's treat ourselves' romantic date night spot. We'll be going back for that mushroom pasta!

Update: we did indeed go back, as we decided to treat ourselves to another meal here on our last night in Pai, but we had a horrible experience. During my meal I bit onto something hard, pulled a sizeable piece of sharp broken piece of glass out of my mouth and when we told the owner, she couldn't have made it clearer that she thought we'd made it up (presumably to get a free meal?) and I was so mortified that I genuinely could've cried! It was a painfully awkward situation, she offered no apology and we left feeling incredibly uncomfortable - so whilst the food is lovely, the rude treatment was pretty inexcusable.

Maya Burger Queen
If you're British and missing 'proper' chips then you won't be disappointed with a portion of Burger Queen's fries. Chunky-cut and fluffy, you'll find yourself ordering another portion (with their homemade garlic mayo) before you've even finished the first one. Will thought their mushroom burger tasted like pulled pork, and their vegan sweet potato and pumpkin patty with avocado is so satisfying - the perfect hangover cure!

If you're finding yourself craving something different then why not give Mexican a whirl? I had a pretty average burrito at One Fine Day but an outstanding one at Cafecito! They do various Mexican classics like quesadillas, tacos, tostadas and tortas with your choice of homemade chorizo, pulled chicken, avocado or mushroom carnitas and you can add toppings such as black beans, pickled jalapeños, rice or avocado. I actually almost sent my meal back as I thought they'd given me pulled pork instead of mushroom carnitas but nope, they're just genuinely that meaty and tasty! The heuvos rancheros from the all-day breakfast menu was a real treat for Will, and the tostadas were my personal favourite. Ask for the off-menu spicy margaritas if you're in fiesta-mode!

Honourable mentions go to Nong Beer which is great for groups, Earth Tone for all the vegan food and desserts you could want, Air Restaurant for the cheapest Thai lunch in Pai and of course, Walking Street.

Walking Street (officially Chai Songkhram Road) is basically a night market selling souvenirs, clothing and all the food you could possibly want! Head here for an inexpensive meal on the go - there's falafel wraps, Mexican burritos and nachos, sushi, pancakes, gyozas and much more, all made right in front of you. Our favourite was Thai Food Bar - it's a converted vehicle where you'll find the nicest guy who cooks fresh meals to order that you eat from the bar on the side of his van. I loved his veggie mushroom green curry - just don't say yes when he asks if you want it "Thai spicy", I'm really good with spice and struggled!

If you'd like to see these meals in action, check out the weekly food diary in Pai video I made. Hope you enjoy these recommendations as much as we enjoyed discovering them!

The Beauty Products I Wish I'd Brought Travelling

19 February 2019

 Considering how thorough, how methodical and how diligent my packing process was when it came to deciding which beauty products I'd be relying on for a trip lasting the best part of a year, it's kind of crazy how many changes I'd make if I could go back in time. I guess I never could've known what I'd miss or what I'd need until I actually experienced backpacking... and in the words of Michael Scott, I should've had hindsight.

Just for the fun of it, and in the hope that this will aid any other fellow beauty and makeup lover who are embarking on a long ass trip of their own, here are the products that are currently sat at home in the UK, unused and unappreciated, whilst I'm sat in Asia missing them deeply. Mama loves you, kids.

BECCA x Chrissy Teigen Glow Face Palette
This actually made my final cut but I took it out at the last minute - so close, yet so far - as it was so big that it wouldn't fit in my makeup bag. I'm mainly missing it for the colours: it has a bronze with the perfect non-orange tone, a pinky-coral blush, a peachy highlighter and my pick of the bunch, the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter in 'Rose Gold' which is my favourite thing makeup-wise when I'm in a hot country. I'm also missing it for the huge mirror, as doing your mascara in a teeny Benefit Hoola mirror gets old fast! I sooo wish I'd just stuck it in my bigger toiletries bag.

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette
Perhaps even more useful than the BECCA x Chrissy Teigen palette would've been this neat wee number from The Tilbs, as it has the same big sturdy mirror that stands up by itself and pretty much everything you need to create a day or night look. All you'd need aside from it - if you're a makeup lover like me, of course - I'm sure most people don't think about it that deeply! - would be concealer, mascara and lippy. So compact and convenient, and worth the price tag also as you're guaranteed to use every product down to the pan.

Maybelline Color Tattoo 24-Hour Gel-Cream Eyeshadow
Specifically in the shade 'On & On Bronze' - 'Bad To The Bronze' in the States - which has been one of my go-to eyeshadows for years as it's such a failsafe product! Simply swipe onto your lid with your index finger then get to work with a window-wiper motion using something like the Real Techniques Oval Shadow Brush and hey presto, the perfect bronze eye that lives up to its 24-hour claims! Instead I brought MAC Tempting, and find that the lasting power just isn't there nor is it as easy to apply.

Braun Silk-Epil Epilator
A tool rather than a product but something I'm missing all the same is my epilator, as trying to stay on top of hair removal whilst travelling has been a shock to the system and I'm tempted to take inspiration from the hippies I'm surrounded by and just let it grow! I didn't bring my epilator as it felt like a lot of faff what with the charging cord and extra weight, but constantly buying razors isn't great for my purse or the environment - plus the underarm stubble reappears way more quickly.

It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream
This is a weird one as I've never actually tried this product before, but after a few months of backpacking (and reading a ton of blog reviews) later, I've come to the conclusion that it'd be the perfect base product - something that sits in the middle between coverage and SPF, that isn't a foundation or a tinted sunscreen. I'm finding my Bioderma too dark and often don't want to wear anything full-coverage now that my freckles are coming out.

Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base
I know what you're thinking: but Meg, isn't that super bulky and would therefore be a bit annoying to travel the world with? Maybe, yes - but so many beauty bloggers having rediscovered it recently and I've therefore been reminded of how great it is. It's such an amazing holiday product that you don't even need any coverage with as it makes you look so beachy and bronzed, and in the most natural way ever too. It's pricey but would've lasted me the entire trip (and beyond!)

Glossier Generation G Lipstick
I packed one bold lip shade, the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in 'The Queen' which is a stunning cherry red, but am yet to wear it as it as the formulation (despite being lovely!) seems too heavy for hot, sweaty weather. I also think I'd feel too 'done up' wearing it whilst in Asia, and wish I'd brought a lighter option like one of the Glossier Generation G's. They've recently switched up the formula and made the packaging more sturdy, so 'Zip' and 'Jam' definitely would've been in my makeup bag had they made those changes in time.

Shu Eumera Eyelash Curler
If I could have one beauty related thing magically transported to me right now, it'd 100% be an eyelash curler and I'll be making a purchase as soon as I see one. I never use mine at home, but practically every day I wish that I could open my eyes up and look more awake without having to apply mascara. Even more so, I wish that I'd gotten a lash tint and perm - I've heard amazing things about Nouveau Lashes and am truly kicking myself for not booking an appointment in before I left the UK!

NARS Monoï Body Glow
Such an extra one, however something I've been craving is a golden glow. Despite having been away for weeks, I'm not one for sunbathing and nearly always wear long sleeves and trousers so I'm just as pale as I was when we hopped on the plane at Heathrow. A product that gives sheen and shimmer like this one from NARS would be so welcome, just for a little shoulder and decollatage action! Glass bottles aren't great for travelling, but you could decant it into a plastic spray bottle like this - or save the money and make your own by mixing baby oil with a budget smashed-up powder highlighter.

Are there any products you couldn't live without if you were going travelling?

A Week In My Travelling Bank Account: Thailand Edition

12 February 2019

Round up, round up: it's 'new blog series' o'clock, and this one's all about money and travelling. Countless people have sent me polite and tentative "don't answer this if you don't want to, but how much did you save for travelling?" DMs on Instagram, so I thought I'd take the awkwardness out of it for you and start sharing how much I'm spending.

Whatever your backpacking budget, I hope this helps anyone who's in the same boat that I was, e.g. 'I'm leaving home soon and have no clue how much things will actually cost in various parts of the world'. We're kicking things off in the very affordable town of Pai in Northern Thailand!

$1 = 31.45 Thai baht (฿)
£1 = 40.73 Thai baht (฿)

Monday = 1,000฿

Brunch at Fat Cat (90 - avocado toast & salad, 50 - iced coconut latte). Dinner on Walking Street (100 - falafel & salad pitta at Queen Falafel50 - ginger tea & reusable bamboo cup)

140 - 2x rum & coke

150 - daily scooter hire
40 - litre of petrol

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

150 - 2x homemade soap from Re-Wild
100 - 1x supplements from Earth Tone

Tuesday = 610฿

Brunch at One Fine Day (140 - avocado salad, 60 - iced coconut latte). Dinner at Pen's Kitchen (50 - veg & tofu noodle soup, 60 - beer)

150 - daily scooter hire

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

Wednesday = 850฿

Brunch at Cafecito (170 - burrito, 40 - mint tea). Dinner at Maya Burger Queen (100 - vegan burger, 60 - large fries, 60 - beer)

120 - G&T at Sundown Playground

150 - daily scooter hire

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

Thursday = 1,450฿
Brunch at Art In Chai (120 - avocado salad, 60 - chai latte). Dinner at Na's Kitchen (100 - red curry, 60 - tom yum soup, 80 - beer).

400 - wine at fire show
130 - 'I'm drunk and hungry' veggie avocado burger

150 - daily scooter hire

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

200 - reusable water bottle

Friday = 450฿
Lunch at Paradise (free - kindly cooked by our friends!). Dinner at Food Truck (70 - veggie green curry, 60 - beer). Snacks on Walking Street (20 - pancakes)

150 - daily scooter hire

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

Saturday = 955฿
Lunch at Pen's Kitchen (70 - veggie stir fry, 30 - honey & lime iced tea). Dinner at Kome Maun (75 - rice noodle soup, 30 - ginger tea)

100 - wine

150 - daily scooter hire

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

350 - gel pedicure

Sunday = 1,180฿

Breakfast at market (100 - baguette, fruit and avocados). Lunch at Paradise (80 - fried rice, 40 - iced coconut latte). Dinner at Bebe Spice (320 - curry, 340 - rum & cokes)

150 - daily scooter hire

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

Monday = 2,370฿

Fruit from market (20 - pineapple, 40 - bananas, 10 - passionfruit). Breakfast at Cafecito (740 - 4x Mexican dishes, also paid for friends). Dinner at Le Reve De Pai (180 - mushroom pasta, 60 - gin & tonic)

150 - daily scooter hire
40 - litre of petrol
200 - bus from Pai to Chiang Mai
800 - sleeper train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok

450 - private bungalow at Paradise (between 2 people)

Seven days of spending, done! This reflects an average week in Thailand for me. Some days I'm clearly feeling more frivolous than others, socialising tends to mean more pennies leave my purse and paying for a bus or train to another part of Thailand can be pricey, but on average I spent between £25 and £30 in total per day.

In Pai I paid around £5 a night for a lovely bungalow, ate mostly local food like curries for £2.50 a portion and shared the cost of transport with my boyfriend. As a result, I haven't set myself a daily limit for Asia as pretty much everything is low-cost - Australia will be a very different story! - and I'm earning along the way through blogging, however if you're on a shoestring budget there are plenty of ways to save.

Let me know if you'd like a post sharing money-saving tips whilst travelling (I quite like the idea of setting myself spending challenges) and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this new series also? I thought it'd be a helpful idea for anyone embarking on a backpacking journey or a cost-effective holiday of their own - if you have any suggestions on what I should add or where I can improve, please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks, pals!

Photos by Will Burchill Photography