NARS Blush in Gina Review

I feel that Orgasm gets so much hype and fanfare it overshadows all the other wonderful colours NARS has in its blush range. I’m currently trying out this NARS Blush in Gina.

By all means, if you’re looking to try out NARS blushers and don’t know what colour will suit you, Orgasm is a great all-rounder and is pretty universal in terms of suitability, but if you’ve got the time, then pop over to a NARS counter and have a chat with the SA to see if there’s a colour which might suit you better.

 

Nars Blush Gina

The shade recommended for me was Gina. It’s a lovely orangey coral – perfect for my skin, which has warm undertones, and tans easily in Summer, but also great for the transition into Autumn, matching the lovely russet tones of falling leaves.

It’s a matte colour, so there’s no shimmer/sparkle like with Orgasm. Sometimes that’s a good thing; sometimes it’s not. It depends on the day. Where Orgasm gives you a more dewy, glistening look, Gina adds depth and warmth, almost like a bronzer (but not quite).

Nars Blush Gina

It’s not going to be for everybody, but I think it’s a great shade for those with warm undertones, or maybe those who want to add a little warmth.

Lasting Power: All day.

Consistency: Matt powder. Very pigmented and easily applied – use a light hand!

Sensitive Skin Suitability: 5/5

Price: £22.50

Overall Rating: 8/10. It’s a great blusher, but I don’t think it’ll suit me through Winter when my skin has lost some of its glow. It’s still a great Summer/Autumn choice, but a shame I can’t wear it year-round.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick Review

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick Review

Story time: I had a free sample of the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick a few years ago. I didn’t think much of it (though I was impressed with the generous sample size) and just kept it in my bag as a touch-up product. I found it too thick and cakey-looking, difficult to apply and the wear-time, I thought, was poor.

Fast forward to last month when I was bumming around Cardiff (read: perusing each and every single beauty counter in all the department stores). I was mostly looking to buy one particular foundation (Shiseido Sun Protection Liquid foundation you are my one true love, don’t ever leave me) but of course I spent a long time looking at others because…well, trying new things is fun, isn’t it? I’m quite loyal to a few foundations, but I like to dabble here and there.

I went into House of Fraser to buy the Shiseido foundation, but I ended up chatting to the girl at the Bobbi Brown counter. I thought I’d test out the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick once again because it had been a few years and I felt like trying something different (although I wasn’t expecting much).

What was really interesting, though, was how the SA applied it: she used a fluffy brush, gently sweeping it across the top of the stick to pick up product, then applied it to my face. This made a huge difference to the finish of the foundation! I was seriously impressed with how natural this looked, especially considering the cakey finish I’d previously achieved. In fact, I was so convinced I bought a stick as well as the other foundation I was looking for!

The Product: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

The Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick is a medium, buildable to full-coverage foundation in stick form. It seems to have a bit of a cult status among beauty gurus (Wayne Goss’s video on it prompted me to try it a second time).

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

Here’s a little about the foundation from the Bobbi Brown website:

Designed to look and feel like skin, this award-winning foundation is formulated with a unique transparent base and skin tone correct pigments for the most natural-looking, skin-like finish. A Bobbi Brown original, the innovative formula features Smart Technology for targeted moisturization or oil control depending on what skin needs. Delivers medium to full coverage and comes in a convenient swivel-up stick for at home and on-the-go application. Available in 31 skin tone correct shades.

First time around I wasn’t totally convinved this was “skin-like” at all – it seemed really heavy and mask-like. Turns out I just hadn’t found the best way to apply it (for me, anyway).

How did it perform:

Really well! It’s not my favourite foundation in the world, but it’s great for everyday wear to work. I find it covers up redness really nicely, looks natural and doesn’t slip around on my face. It also doesn’t highlight any dry patches, which is a winner.

Wear-time was great – it lasted a whole day in work without moving or breaking up. I would probably say this isn’t best for a night on the town, however.

This blends really nicely, especially when applied with a fluffy brush as opposed to drawing it straight onto your face.

I got this in the shade Cool Ivory, but there are so many shades I ended up finding about 4 I could potentially use. I just picked this one because I like it the most. Most of the colours run pretty yellow/warm, but on the plus side, they cater to quite a wide range of darkers colours, so if you’re not pale and you struggle to find the right shade, this could be a good option.

My Verdict

Pros:

  • Applies really nicely (when you find the best way that suits you!)
  • Lasts a full day at work.
  • Looks really natural.
  • Huge colour selection.
    Doesn’t irritate my skin.

Cons:

  • Possibly not as hard-wearing as foundations like Estee Lauder Double wear. Better for daytime than partying til 5am.
  • Great colour selection, but possibly not best for those with lighter/cooler skin tones.
  • Kind of unhygienic? I can see the little bits of dust and crap that are gathering on the top of the foundation, which I guess is unavoidable if you’re applying this directly to your face or with your fingers. Gross. But then again I like to pick my nose when no one’s looking, so who am I to judge? (Don’t look at me like that, you do it too).
  • Pretty expensive for the amount of product you get. I only use a little bit day-to-day and have found I’ve used a fair amount in under a month – well, a lot more than other foundations in comparison.

Overall: 8/10. The Bobbi Brown skin Foundation Stick is a really beautiful for everyday wear, although I’m not 100% sure yet if it’s worth the hefty pricetag. On the plus side. it has no added fragrance and is great for sensitive skin.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Review

 

First a little introduction on the brand, then I’ll go on to review The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%. If you’d prefer to just read the review then skip to the bottom!

 

About The Ordinary

The Ordinary arrived on the skincare scene with little fanfare of its own, but with much anticipation from the beauty community. Writers and bloggers up and down the UK, as well as Redditors from much further afield, heralded The Ordinary as a brand that promised skincare formulated with ingredients scientifically proven to work, but at a fraction of the cost of much bigger brands.

When I heard about a new skincare line that promised so much but cost so little, I simultaneously salivated at the mouth and raised an eyebrow: what’s the catch? Well, apparently there isn’t one. This range of skincare has taken the beauty world by storm – and it’s easy to see why: the products really do exactly what they say and are sold by a company that prides itself on science and honesty. Reviews of The Ordinary products have been overwhelmingly positive, so after a few months of research, I decided to take the plunge and order some for myself.

Because there aren’t any stores local to me, I ordered online. The Ordinary offer free delivery over £25, so of course I spent all that fabulous cash that I don’t have on a whole bunch of products (which I will review later). The interesting thing is, for £25 I managed to get 5 products. Yeah. FIVE WHOLE PRODUCTS. Somebody wake me up, I’m in a skincare dream!

One of those products was The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%. Until I ordered this I’d been using Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix pads, which were nice, but not £5.50 nice.

By the way, The Ordinary’s website IS SO FUCKING INFORMATIVE, OMG. Like, if all skincare websites went into this much detail, I swear we’d all be skincare experts and they’d all be out of business: “this moisturiser contains fragrance because…well…I guess scents are nice, right? We all want to smell like blueberry cheesecake even if it gives us red, inflamed skin, right? RIGHT??”. Moving on…

 

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% Review

So, a little background on what the product is: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% is a chemical facial exfoliator. It contains Lactic Acid, which is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA). AHA’s break down dead skin cells to make way for new ones. I used to struggle so much with flakes around my nose, even after physical exfoliation. I used to get horrible skin-barnacles around my nose whenever I’d wear foundation, but trying chemical exfoliation (AHA and BHA – read more about them here) has seriously helped me so much, not just with flakies but with skin tone and general glow too!

Here’s a little from the website about what it claims to do:

Lactic Acid is an alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the skin. This 5% formulation offers very mild exfoliation and is supported with a purified Tasmanian pepperberry known to reduce signs of inflammation and sensitivity that is often associated with exfoliation.

This formula contains a studied Tasmanian Pepperberry derivative to help reduce irritation associated with acid use. This derivative is of plant origin and varies in colour seasonally and this colour variation may be apparent in the formula from time to time.

It doesn’t actually mention it in any detail on the product page (except for in the ingredients), but the “HA” refers to hyaluronic acid, which is a super hydrating little acid that can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water.  This is a nice additional ingredient which can help skin hydration. You can read more about hyaluronic acid here.

How did it perform?

I’ve been using this for about 3 weeks and the results have been amazing. I use The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% about 3 nights a week (careful not to over-exfoliate) and my skin has honestly never looked better. I’ve been using a lot of new products, but I’d put improvement mostly down to this. I’ve noticed my skin looks brighter, smoother and less red than ever before.

I’ll admit the texture is a little weird. It’s very liquid, kinda sticky, and not that pleasant to put on my skin…but does that really matter? So what, my skin is a little tacky for 10 minutes, I’m only going to moisturise and go to bed!

I basically just put a little on the back of my hand, then rub it all around my face til it goes sticky. After about 10 minutes I moisturise and sometimes add a layer of Vasaline before bed (this makes my skin feel unbelievably smooth the next day, kind of like how I imagine a dolphin feels – I wouldn’t know what dolphins feel like because I missed out on the childhood magic of swimming with the slippy bastards).

Another plus is that The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% doesn’t hurt my sensitive skin, but some may struggle with it – I can tell it’s pretty potent, even if it’s on the lower end of acid concentrations. I’ve used milder AHAs in the past, so it might be something those who’ve never chemically exfoliated work up to.

It’s also worth noting (and I’ve already mentioned it in passing) that this is best used at night. AHAs make skin super susceptible to sun damage, so it’s best used as a sleepy night-night treatment. If you’re going to use this in the day, give it a good hour before leaving the house and wear some damn sunscreen, you degenerate.

My Verdict

Pros:

  • It’s. So. Goddamn. CHEAP. Honestly, probably the best £5.50 I’ve ever spent on a skincare product.
  • There’s no added shit. Like bulking agents or fragrance. Just bare-bones stuff that really works.
  • It might not be too harsh for someone who isn’t too used to chemical exfoliators.

 

Cons:

  • It can be quite hard to get hold of. It only really stocks in its own London stores in the UK, otherwise you have to buy online (you can get it from The Ordinary’s own site or ASOS and probably other places but I’m lazy AF so Google it yourself!). I know they often have stock shortages, which is unsurprising because of how good/cheap the products are.
  • Possibly too harsh for the uninitiated. If you’ve never tried an AHA before it might be worth trying something a little less hardcore (perhaps the Glycolic Fix pads from Nip + Fab). But, then again, the bottle is so damn cheap it’s not like you’ve wasted £30 on something you won’t be able to use for a while.

Overall rating: 10/10 would put on a nice dress and let it take me to a moderately priced dinner and maybe go back to its flat if it bought me enough drinks and my legs were recently shaved.

 

Have you tried The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%? What did you think of it?

 

 

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The Body Shop Chamomile Sumptuous Butter Review

I find makeup removers very hit or miss. They often irritate my sensitive skin and occasionally break me out (depending on how curmudgeonly my skin is being). The only makeup removers I find that consistently perform well are micellar waters, and even they aren’t 100% without fault (they often leave traces of foundation and NUXE’s micellar water left with with a constellation of whiteheads across my jawline). The Body Shop Chamomile Sumptuous Butter is not like that.

The Body Shop Chamomile Sumptuous Butter Review

I’ve dabbled in creamy cleansers (I had a brief and tempestuous affair with Liz Earle’s celebrated Cleanse and Polish) but have found them fiddly and time consuming to use. I saw some pretty good reviews of The Body Shop’s cleansers, so after finishing my Garnier micellar water, I decided to try one out – The Body Shop Chamomile Sumptuous Butter.

The Body Shop Chamomile Sumptuous Butter: Let’s review, shall we?

I’m pretty divided on the packaging. It looks nice and travels well, but something really grosses me out about dunking my fingers into the pot to rake out the product. I guess some may recommend using a dinky little spoon or spatula, but I’m not that refined – I’d rather just use my gross sausage fingers. I also never know where to start: do I just go straight for the middle like a greedy degenerate, or do I romance it a little and work inwards from the edges? Do circles even have edges? I’m pretty sure they don’t. I’m confused right now, so let’s talk about something else.

CONSISTENCY! Let’s talk consistency. The product itself really does live up to its name. It really is quite buttery. It actually reminds me a little of coconut oil in that it’s solid until you warm it up with your fingers (you know, when you’re gouging it out of the tin).

A little goes a long way. I apply a small amount* to my face, it turns sort of oily/buttery, rub it around a little, and all my makeup dissolves. It works on my Shiseido foundation which is a bastard to remove, and also on my mascara, leaving no traces behind once I’ve rubbed a wet flannel all over my face.

It’s worth mentioning you don’t even need to use a flannel because it’s water soluble. Just splash your face with some warm water and you’re good.

Perhaps best of all, it doesn’t irritate, not even just a little bit. It feels like nothing, even though it’s scented. What’s great is it also doesn’t break me out – in fact, my skin has looked its best since I started using this.

It also lasts. I bought a pot last June (that’s 8 months ago) and I’ve only just bought a new pot. That’s with 5-6 days a week use. Pretty impressive.

Overall Rating:

I’m going to give The Body Shop Chamomile Sumptuous Butter a 10/10. That doesn’t happen often, but this is a product I can see myself staying loyal to. I couldn’t recommend this enough, and I will continue to buy it as long as it’s on the market (do you hear that Body Shop? Don’t you dare take my one true love away!).

Number 4 Lumiere d’Hiver Super Comb Prep & Protect Review

I’m not easily impressed by hair products, especially leave in ones, which often make my hair feel limp and greasy. Nobody wants that. Rarely does a leave-in conditioner scrape a 4 or a 5 out of 10, so even I am surprised to say that this has earned itself a solid 9. Back pats for you, Number 4 Lumiere d’Hiver Super Comb Prep & Protect.

The Good Stuff

It smells awesome. A lot of hair products fall into the scent category “perfume I’d buy for an 8 year old cousin I don’t particularly like”, or “packet of Dolly Mixture I’ve left under the car seat for a few months” – i.e too sickly and sweet. This does not. This is refreshing and kind of creamy at the same time – imagine a mix of something milky you’d put on your hair to moisturise it, and something salty you’d spray on it to give it some texture. Whatever the scent is, I like it more than any other hair product scent.

The packaging is classy, elegant, understated. Some might call it boring, but I much prefer it to the neon abominations and dildo-shaped cack you get from TIGI Bed Head. There’s not a lot more you can say about a white rectangular bottle.

It makes my hair ridiculously soft. I can’t stop touching it.

It works. One of the reasons it takes me so long to publish new reviews is because I like to give products a fair old test run before I decide if they’re good or not. The other reason is I’m lazy. I’ve been using Number 4 Lumiere d’Hiver Super Comb Prep & Protect for at least 6 months, and I can honestly say, my hair is in much better condition than it used to be. Partly due to this being great as a heat protector, and partly because I’ve been getting regular trims.

The Bad Stuff

The name is a mouthful. Wrapping my gums around this tongue twister is like trying to give a lamppost a blowjob.

It’s expensive as shit. It lasts a while though, so it’s a decent  investment.

My Verdict

A respectable 9 out of 10. My hair loves it; my purse gives it the middle finger salute. I will buy it again because I’m a masochist when it comes to parting with my hard-earned cash.

Seventeen Doll’d Up Mascara Review

Sometimes I purchase a product with little or no expectations and I’m blown away. It’s a lovely little surprise and usually makes day, if not my whole week.

This was not one of those occasions. No, I had expectations for Seventeen Doll’d Up mascara. Somewhat high expectations, one might say, considering the kind of reviews its had on MakeupAlley (5 lippies all around?! u wot m8?!).

I was a little skeptical because of the price and because it’s by Seventeen, a brand that’s not impressed me on the rare occasion I have encountered it, but nevertheless, my expectations were quite high.

Well, on this occasion, my high expectations were exceeded, which is the kind of lovely surprise that can make your entire month. Did you just fart, Seventeen Doll’d Up Mascara, because you have blown me away.

I love everything about this mascara. I love the packaging, I love the brush, I love the formula, I’m just bursting with love for this stuff, so much so that I’m not even going to include a section for the negative aspects because, well, there are none.

The Good

It’s incredibly pocket-friendly at just £6.29. SIX POUND TWENTYNINE? I’LL TAKE FIVE!

The brush is so satisfyingly comby, it ensures all my eyelashes are nicely separated, coated with product, and fanned out like a baby cow’s.

Seventeen Doll'd Up Mascara

The formula is amazing. It doesn’t dry too fast or too slow, which means it doesn’t glob everywhere and make a mess between coats, and dries quickly enough for me to add a few more coats before I need to leave the house in a rush.

To add to that, it doesn’t run or smudge (and I’ve tested it on a night out involving rain, humidity, and bumloads of sweat); it also helps my irritatingly straight eyelashes hold a curl, which is an absolute miracle.

It’s also easy to take off, no need to rub your eyes raw to remove all traces.

The packaging is cute as hell. It’s a nice shape and pretty to look at.

Did I mention it’s cheap as shit?

My Verdict

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’ll reiterate my point: I LOVE THIS MASCARA. It outperforms products 3 times the price and has given me faith in sparse, straight lashes (yes, all 6 of them).

100 kittens, puppies, unicorns and tap dancing liopleurodons out of 10.

Shiseido UV Protective Liquid Foundation SPF 30 Review

Shiseido is a brand I’ve had exactly zero experience with until now. I could write the things I know about them as a company on the back of a stamp – they do sunscreen, they are Japanese, they have classy packaging. That’s about the extent of my knowledge on Shiseido (hell, I can barely spell the word).

So, I know they have a pretty decent rep when it comes to sunscreen, and they have a pretty well received sunscreen/foundation which comes in a funky blue blob of a container. I’ve been meaning to try this for quite some time, so I popped into House of Fraiser to test it out.

I was reasonably impressed when the SA applied it to my face, but I was sold when she told me it was £14 instead of the £30 it normally costs. I also got a free gift in the form of a makeup bag plus 4 travel size face and body products #winnerwinnerchickendinner.

The Good

It looks nice. Like, really nice. As in, you can’t tell that you’re wearing makeup, you look like your skin was crafted from the finest marble by an Italian artist with an unreasonably long and hard to pronounce name. So smooth.

It’s lightweight. Like being kissed by a feather made of clouds. You can’t feel it on your face all day, it doesn’t feel at all heavy or cakey.

It lasts all day long. It’s actually a challenge to remove – get your most reliable oil-based remover out for this badass over here.

It suits my skin tone perfectly. Of course this is a much more personal note. But whatevs, I’m just very pleased that something finally matches my skin perfectly.

The bottle is cute and compact, and you get a lovely dinky sponge too.

The Bad 

It can be a ballache for dry skin because it’s so matte. If you have any flakies, back the fuck up and use something more moisturising.

The packaging is a pos/neg type deal – yeah, it looks swag, but you can’t see how much you have left. I’m getting anxious thinking of it running out already and I’ve only been using it a week.

It’s quite hard to blend and dries quickly, so if it doesn’t match your skin tone perfectly, you could end up with some obvious tide marks. Not a good look. Tbh, the sponge, although cute and soft as hell, does shit all for blending and absorbs a fuck-ton of product, which is like…sponge, could you not?

Yeah, I guess it’s expensive, but that’s down to personal stuff too – what’s expensive for one might be pennies for another, so I try not to take cost into account. But I will say I would be willing to pay full price..

It’s actually sort of hard to get off. My micellar water doesn’t quite cut it so I’ve resorted to using mineral oil to cleanse, which is not my preferred method of makeup removal. I imagine this will get right on my tits after a while.

My Verdict

I’m impressed. I’d buy this again at full price, especially for the summer months when my skin is a little more oily. I love the amount of sun protection too; this means I don’t have to worry about using a sunscreen with my foundation.

Overall, 9/10.

Shiseido UV Protective Liquid Foundation SPF 30 is currently £18 at FeelUnique.

LUSH Lust Perfume

If LUSH’s Lust were a girl, she wouldn’t be the one sitting at the bar, peeking shyly from beneath her Bambi lashes at the dude across the room; she’d be a fiery redhead who’d saunter up to the guy she’s been eyeballing, grab him by the chest hair and growl in his ear “you’re coming home with me”. 

It’s a jasmine grenade. The kind of powerful scent that, if you’re not careful, will wear you instead of the other way around, filling any room you enter and every nostril in it. It’s for this reason I bought the solid version rather than the atomiser, which, upon sniffing, was not unlike being hit in the face with a bouquet (not that I’d know what that feels like). No, the solid version is a little more subtle, and not to mention far more convenient: it’s small and packaged in a Vaseline-like tin (pro-tip: do NOT use it on your lips) which means it’s not going to clunk about in your bag like a perfume bottle, and won’t leak or break – which is a vast improvement upon the old, black, twist-up packaging LUSH used to use for their solid perfumes (RIP Imogen Rose, which remains congealed in its lid). 

I’m not that knowledgable on scents and the like, but LUSH says this contains jasmine, ylang ylang, vanilla and some other stuff, but all I’m really smelling is raw, sexy jasmine. It lasts a good workday, so like, 8 hours or so. Pretty impressive. 

I’ll say one other thing: this scent will turn heads. Not necessarily in a good way – it’s a very polarising scent, as in you either love it or hate it. That means you’ll have a 50/50 chance of either being followed by legions of salivating men (or women), or repulse whoever is sitting in the neighbouring seat on the train to the point of evacuation (something I am absolutely okay with).

I’m giving LUSH Lust a 7/10. I like it, but not for every day. In fact, I’d say it’s a night time scent. It’s also very reasonably priced (for the solid version, anyway) at £6 for 12g.

bareMinerals Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara | Review

 

I’ve tried a lot of mascaras over the years, but I’ve only just heard of bareMinerals mascara. Who’dve thunk, eh? I’ve been sat on my arse thinking they just do foundations and other skin-based makeup and didn’t even think to check out their eye goodies. And I’m glad I did – this bareMinerals Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara has impressed the hell out of me. Here’s a few reasons why I love it:

  • It gives great volume and length. Once coat looks great, very natural for work, 2 coats gives a dramatic impact, 3 and I almost take flight when I bat my lashes. 
  • It doesn’t clump, like, at all. Maybe that’s because the formula is quite dry, I don’t know.
  • It dries quickly, so I don’t have to worry if I need to clean up any mistakes I’ve made. I can just give it a minute and then clean up with a cotton swab.
  • It doesn’t gloop everywere. This is a huge and gross problem I have – a lot of mascaras leave goop in my eyes. Hideous, I know. But this one doesn’t. It’s by far the cleanest I’ve used.
  • To add to that point, it stays put all day. I find that most non-waterproof mascaras will smudge and give me panda eyes, but this one doesn’t, even if I give my eyes a good ol’ rub. 
  • It’s easy to remove at the end of the day, which you wouldn’t think from such a stay-put mascara. One cotton pad covered in micellar water does the job nicely, and…
  • …it doesn’t irritate my eyes! Hurrah!

An overall winner from bareMinerals, a brand I haven’t really explored (watch this space…). 

I wouldn’t mind a little more length/curl, and apparently the formula expires after 3 months (which isn’t really bad considering mascara should be thrown away after that amount of time anyway), so I’m giving it 9/10.

 

Have you tried bareMinerals Flawless Definition Volumizing Mascara?

Stag Coffee, Cardiff | Review

IMAGE: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AtV6CW8eV1I/U2e9h2HNi9I/AAAAAAAAA38/XwWVYSRlO5s/s1600/Front.jpg
IMAGE: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AtV6CW8eV1I/U2e9h2HNi9I/AAAAAAAAA38/XwWVYSRlO5s/s1600/Front.jpg

A few months ago, I was so irked by a purchase of mine (the infamous Superdry Parka) that I was moved to write an angst-ridden piece about it on here. So infuriated was I with this purchase, I spewed forth my vitriol onto this blog, despite the fact that it primarily has a makeup/skincare focus. It brought me some relief, so here I go again, except this time, my spleen is vented on a coffee house…

Stag Coffee, based in Cathays, Cardiff.

Stag Coffee is one of those hip, quirky, “shabby student chic” type places that attracts exactly the sort you’d imagine: privileged university students with pastel coloured hair and tattered “vintage” clothes, who “upcycle” and complain about politics and the price of petrol, before going to do their weekly shop at Sainsbury’s in their 2010 Ford Fiesta (which mummy and daddy bought for them as a reward for doing so well and getting into u-naaaaay to study Sociology with Advanced Beekeeping) to stock up on kale and quinoa (pronounced Kwin-oh-ah, obvs).

It’s the kind of establishment that offers mismatched cutlery and crockery; big, squishy armchairs which look more comfortable than they actually are; and is so dark you can barely see your mates (but it doesn’t really matter because you can still see the screen of your iPhone to upload that picture of your vegan all-day-breakfast onto Instagram).

Maybe I’m just bitter because I’m no longer a student who can potter down to the local coffee shop for a chai latte and slice of spiced aubergine and WD-40 cake (or whatever the flavour of the month is) at 3:30 in the afternoon before writing 452 words on my General Businessness and Whathaveyou essay, and proceed to down half a litre of Rachmaninoff vodka (Lidl’s finest) before dressing up like Tinky Winky and hitting the SU with the rest of the Teletubbies (or whatever tonight’s theme is). 

Or, maybe I’m just so appalled at the cataclysmically shit experience I had at Stag Coffee that everything in, and orbiting around, this glorified Starbucks has me clenching each orifice of my body like it’s sucking on a not-quite-ripe grapefruit and being salted like an unsuspecting slug.

Am I being dramatic? Probably. Am I wrong in pointing out that, when visiting such a venue – i.e., one that serves food and drink which you eat while sitting in – service should be as important as the quality of said food and drink? No. 

Sunday afternoon and I have a hankering for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. This is not the kind of appetite which can be whetted by a stealth trip to the local Co-op for a day-old cupcake and a hastily made cup of Yorkshire Tea. No, no – this is the kind of hunger which can only be quashed by a visit to a quaint caff for a slice of something delightful served with a pot of liquid gold. 

So I set off with Monsieur Raptor, hoping to visit one of Cardiff’s most popular tea shops, only to discover that it’s closed. Never mind, stiff upper lip and all that, let’s find somewhere else. After a relatively fruitless search through the streets of Cardiff and spying many a full Cafe Nero or Coffee #1, we almost give up trying to find a nice, independent cafe. Then we spotted Stag Coffee. Yes, it looked a little “studenty”, but it seemed better than going home. 

It doesn’t look too busy, and there’s plenty of seats outside, but it’s a cold January day, so we venture inside, hoping to find an empty table for 2. We find a large table surrounded by about 4 or 5 big squishy chairs with 2 girls drinking coffee. Okay, fair enough, they got here first. There’s also a large group of about 6 people sat around some tables and chairs. I can’t help but think a switch of seats would clear more space for other customers, but whatever; you can’t force people to move. We wait behind another couple in front of us to order, then they take up the only free table left. This takes about 10 minutes.

When we reach the front of the queue, we’re told to go and wait at a table outside, and that someone will be out to take our order. Okay…why exactly can’t our order be taken now and then brought out when ready? Never mind, maybe they just want to know where we’re sitting and will follow us outside. Nope. We’re left waiting in the cold for a further 15 minutes before a waiter comes out to take our order. How are we supposed to know what we want without a menu? “I’ll have a pot of tea and whatever that sticky looking cake on the counter is, please” I say, unamused.

Another 20 minutes passes and our food arrives. The confused looking server trundles around, cakes in hand trying to figure out who ordered them. Have these people never heard of table numbers? I have to wave him over. But wait, where’s our tea? Another 10 minute wait, cake finished, and the pot of tea arrives with no sugar, and no offer of any sugar. Again, the waiter had to trundle around looking befuddled, asking every table if they ordered a pot of tea before finally bringing it to us.

30 minutes. For a cup of tea and 2 slices of cake. That’s not including the time it took us to be seated and have our order taken. I’m astounded. The place wasn’t even that busy.

Even worse was having to go back to the counter to queue up to pay, only to be met with an exasperated “yeah?” from the boy at the counter, who I had to tell “I’d like to pay please”. “Oh, right….This Girl will deal with you” is his response, pawing me off to another clueless member of staff. I then had to awkwardly explain which table I was at (gesticulating wildly at the table outside, slightly out of view) and what I ordered. Then I was further embarrassed when I almost didn’t have enough money, as I wasn’t aware of how much the cakes cost due to the lack of relevant information displayed at the counter – over £9 for two teas and 2 slices of cake with abysmal service and an outside seat in January is borderline taking the piss.

The staff are unfriendly, not bothered about helping customers, and don’t seem to know what they are doing. The chocolate cake was dry. Food – even simple food which does’t even need heating – takes way too long to arrive. 30 minutes to throw a teabag in a pot and fill it with hot water is unacceptable. There is a clear lack of understanding of customer service at Stag Coffee, and frankly, the place is a mess. I am utterly disappointed that a place with so many stag motifs didn’t live up to my expectations (I love deer). 

On the plus side, the carrot cake was delicious. 1/10.