Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Empties: September 2014

September Empties
Believe it or not, the end of September is here already - I've had my birthday and am now officially 23, which feels very elderly!!! I had a long weekend away in Nice for my birthday which was gorgeous and I can't say I'm pleased to be home today - it feels very cold in Lancashire after three days in the south of France! I may pop up a post about what we got up to, if anyone's interested? In the meantime, here are the products I've used up in September, and what I thought of them.
Empties Sept
Gillette Satin Care Radiant Apricot Shave Gel I love the smell of this stuff and it makes a close, comfortable shave really easy. I'm actually taking a break from Gillette to try other shaving products in an effort to find something that doesn't leave me legs dry and insanely itchy after shaving, but that may well be a hopeless enterprise.
Repurchase? Maybe, depending whether I find anything I like better
Batiste Cherry Dry Shampoo Yep, Batiste features in my Empties pretty much every month - it's a total essential for me. I really like the fruity scents Batiste do but I always seem to forget about Cherry. Boots had run out of the Tropical version I usually buy when they last had an offer on, so I picked up a can of Cherry instead and I did really enjoy using it.
Repurchase? Always.
Batiste Pixie Lott Dry Shampoo Another can of Batiste, I really like the scent of this Pixie Lott version, it's kind of floral but not flowery and seems to do a great job of freshening my hair up for another day. I think I've got through two cans this month because I finished one pretty early on in the month, and my hair's taking a while to get used to the much softer water now I've moved back in with my parents.
Repurchase? Yes.
Naked Volume Body Building Shampoo I love this shampoo but unfortunately it's been discontinued in Boots both instore and online, so the only way I'll be able to get hold of it now is ordering online direct from Naked, which is a faff. Nonetheless, it's a lovely shampoo, so if I can't find anything I like as much, I'll no doubt end up coming back to it.
Repurchase? Maybe.
Naked Smooth Silky Conditioner This does such a good job of smoothing and softening my dry ends without weighing my hair down, it also smells beautiful. Thankfully I think this is still going to be available in Boots (for the time being, at least), so I'll be able to get hold of it reasonably easily.
Repurchase? Probably.
Sept Empties
Superdrug 100% Pure Cotton Wool Pads Boring but essential, these do the job for removing nail polish and eye make-up, as well as for applying toner. There's not a lot else to be said about cotton wool pads, is there?
Repurchase? Maybe, I just tend to buy what's on offer.
Collection Sheer Loose Powder An absolute staple for me, I can't be without loose powder! I don't know how many of these I've been through but I'm currently trying a couple of other loose powders just because I can't stick to one product - the beauty blogger's downfall! The Collection powder works well for me and is super budget-friendly at around £3.
Repurchase? Probably.
Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm* This 15ml pot lasted surprisingly well and, as I mentioned in my review, did a lovely job of removing makeup and leaving my skin feeling clean and nourished. However, it's bloody expensive for a cleanser and not something I can see myself investing in at this moment in time.
Repurchase? Not at the moment - maybe when I'm rich.
Sally Hansen Acetone Free Nail Polish Remover Another boring one, I tend to buy any old nail polish remover, as it all does the same job. I've not been wearing as much nail polish recently as I'm not allowed to wear it for work, but it's always handy to have around! This worked okay.
Repurchase? Maybe
Paul Penders Lavender & Aloe AM Moisturizer I won this in a giveaway and whilst it's designed for dry skin, whilst mine is definitely oily, I did find it worked quite well for me, not feeling too rich or heavy on the skin even in the summer months. That said, I don't see myself repurchasing it when I can get products designed for my skin-type, at a much lower price.
Repurchase? Probably not.
So that's it for another month - have you tried any of these products? What did you think? Let me know if you've posted your Empties this month, I love having a nosey!

[* Products marked with an * have been sent as PR samples. This does not affect my reviews.]

Friday, 26 September 2014

Five Most Used: Blushers

Five Most Used Blushers
Today we have part three of my little 'Five Most Used' series - blushers. You can check out my five most used base products and eye make-up products if you'd like to see more of my favourites. Choosing just five blushers was difficult as I'm definitely a blusher hoarder and I wouldn't like to count how many I have in total - I try to use them all but inevitably some end up receiving more love than others, so I think these five are my most-used. Looking at them you'd think I only own powder blushers; I do have a few cream blushers but don't use them very often, for two reasons. Firstly, I find they don't last as well on my oily skin, and secondly I'm so in the habit of primer-foundation-concealer-powder that by the time I think about blusher, I've powdered and therefore can't use a cream blusher. I have to plan ahead to use cream blusher and even then I get carried away and forget about it!
Five Most Used Blushers
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in 'Stereo Rose' | This was my first proper MAC purchase and actually, on reflection, my only proper MAC purchase - I couldn't resist it, felt guilty for weeks, and then realised that I actually love the product which kind of makes it okay. 'Stereo Rose' is a summer staple for me with its bright peachy-coral colour and gorgeous shimmer; it's like a blush and highlight in one and I'm so glad I bought this.
NARS Powder Blusher in 'Deep Throat' | This is a lovely shimmery peachy shade which I find super wearable; it really brightens the face up beautifully and lasts so well on the skin. NARS blushers are expensive for sure, but I really do think they're worth it as they're such gorgeous products, blending easily and lasting ages. You can see how much I've used this by how I've hit pan - a long time ago!
NARS Powder Blusher in 'Douceur' | Another NARS blusher, this is a slightly more toned-down option than 'Deep Throat' and another one that I tend to use as a little bit of a contour slightly under my cheekbones; I think it works really well like this and makes me look a bit more alive whilst also shaping my face nicely. Again, Douceur is really lovely to blend and lasts so well on my skin.
Natural Collection Powder Blusher in 'Sugar Plum' | Another blusher which has long since hit pan; 'Sugar Plum' is a deep, matte shade which is super pigmented yet really easy to blend, and I find it looks really striking and flattering on my pale skin. I like to wear this just under my cheekbones to add a little colour whilst also sculpting my face a little - that's about as far as my contouring efforts ever go, I'm afraid!
MUA Powder Blusher Shade 2 | This is from way back when, before MUA started naming their shades - a lovely hot pink with an ever-so-slight shimmer which is so amazingly pigmented that it took me a few tries to make this even slightly wearable - you really do need the lightest hand and a fair bit of blending, but it looks stunning on. This doesn't look like I've used very much but it is one of my favourites, you just need so very little that it's lasting amazingly!
Five Most Used Blushers Swatches
What are your favourite blushers? Have you tried any of these? Are you a blusher fiend like me, or is there another product you hoard endlessly? I'd love to hear!!


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Ted Baker Mia Purse Spray*

I was recently sent a bottle of Ted Baker's new scent, Mia*, to try out. I immediately fell in love with the bottle which, let's be honest, is at least 50% of the attraction with any perfume; we want a bottle which will look pretty on our dresser or whipped from our handbag. The slim 10ml bottle is pale pink frosted glass, whilst the cap is topped with a beautiful sparkly crystal which makes rainbows when it catches the light - consider me sold on that alone before you even get to how it smells! "Sassy, stylish and sophisticated, Mia lights up the room effortlessly. With an irresistible blend of warmth, charm and allure, she is every girl's best friend."
Ted Baker Mia Purse Spray
Ted Baker Mia
A base of amber and patchouli is topped with notes of lemon, raspberry and blackcurrant, for those of you who understand scent descriptions. For the rest of us, Mia is a fruity, girly fragrance which I've found really easy to wear during the day - it's fresh and pretty but not overwhelming. Mia joins Ella, Cate and Polly in Ted's existing range of purse sprays; Ted Baker Mia Purse Spray is priced at £15 for 10ml and is available from Boots; it's the perfect treat for yourself as it's so easy to slip into your handbag for on the go.I also think it would also make a lovely stocking filler for just about any lady in your life, from teenagers right through to older ladies. Have you tried Mia? Do you like Ted Baker products?

[*Please note I received this product for the purposes of an honest review; as always, all thoughts are 100% my own.]

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Six Mini Reviews #8: Miss Dior, Trilogy, Bvlgari, REN & more

Six Mini Reviews #8
I've finished up another little bunch of sample products in my bid to clear out my stash a little, although they seem to be stacking up faster than I can use them at the moment! I love samples for introducing me to new products and letting me try things I mightn't otherwise, so read on to see what I've been trialling lately.
Six Mini Reviews #8 a
Rimmel Lasting Finish Nude Foundation This little sample sachet came in Boots' Health & Beauty magazine which, ironically, I picked up whilst purchasing this very foundation in the full-coverage variant. I used the sachet first and was glad that I'd gone for the full-coverage as the medium just wasn't quite enough for my preferences, though the colour match (100 'Ivory') was pretty spot on. This is fairly reasonably priced at £7.99 for 30ml, and there are often offers on.
Bvlgari Omnia Crystalline Eau De Parfum I think this sample came from Bvlgari's Facebook page and it's lasted me ages as it's quite a strong scent, so literally a drop or two was enough. I found this a nice enough fragrance (apparently it has notes of Lotus and Italian Mandarin with a heart of Heliotrope, if that means anything to you!) but it's not the sort of thing I'd pick for myself and I don't see myself spending £59.99 on a 65ml bottle.
Trilogy Antioxidant+ Rosehip Oil I've been using this of an evening prior to applying my moisturiser; three or four drops is plenty to cover my whole face, and the oil massages in to leave my skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated without being greasy or sticky. I've found that my skin has been a lot clearer the past few weeks, and the only thing I can think of that can be responsible is this; even oily skin can become dehydrated, causing oil over-production which can lead to clogged pores. Using this daily seems to counteract that problem for me, and for that reason, I'm seriously considering investing £26.50 in the 30ml bottle which should last about a year if this 3ml sample is anything to go on!
Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet Eau de Toilette I'm not sure where this sample came from - it may have been a What's In My Handbag try but I'm not certain. Anyway, I really liked it; it has top notes of orange and citruses, middle notes of rose and peony, and base notes of patchouli and musk, or so I'm told. This is a pricey one at £54.50 for 50ml but I would consider saving up and treating myself as it's a very pretty, feminine sort of scent, just my cup of tea!
REN Rosa Centifolia Hot Cloth Cleanser A magazine freebie, this 30ml tube went on a couple of weekends away with me before becoming my evening cleanser for a week or so at home - it does a good job of lifting makeup and dirt away from the skin, feeling quite luxurious as you massage it in and removing easily with a facecloth (the one it comes with is really nice!).
Whish Three Whishes Body Butter Lavender Another Birchbox sample which I enjoyed using much more than anticipated given I'm not a great lover of Lavender; this actually smelt quite nice and was satisfyingly hydrating as well, leaving my often dry and scaly legs feeling comfortably soft and smooth. At £14.50 for 100ml, this is far more pricey than my beloved Body Shop body butters, which I usually buy on offer, so I don't think I'll be getting the full-size of this, though it was nice to try something new. I like the sound of the Lemongrass version, too!
So, those are my six mini reviews - have you tried any of these products? Which do you like the sound of best? Do you use samples, or do they just sit and gather dust in the back of a drawer?


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Review: REN Invisible Pores Detox Mask

Always on the look-out for products which will clear out my pores and reduce their size, along with a healthy love of face masks, I think it was inevitable that I would eventually try out REN's Invisible Pores Detox Mask! REN claim that this is, "A detoxifying clay mask designed to reduce the appearance of pore size and leave the skin purified, smoothed and toned. Results: Draws out impurities. Helps reduce the appearance of pores and blackheads. Skin looks smoother, firmer and clearer. To Use: Apply a generous amount onto clean skin. Allow to dry until the mask can be removed by gently rubbing the skin with fingertips. Rinse thoroughly with warm water."
Ren Invisible Pores Detox Mask Review
Like all REN's packaging, this is lovely; simple and white with clear information printed onto the bottle and an easy-to-use pump which dispenses a generous amount of product, though not quite enough for the whole face. I find I need around 1¼ pumps to cover my whole face with a thin layer of mask. There's no real scent to this beside a slight skincare-type scent which I'd put down to the clay; it's by no means offensive and I can't see it being a problem even for sensitive skins. The mask feels silky and is really easy to spread over the skin, where it feels pleasantly cooling. I've found that as this mask dries, it doesn't tighten on the skin or feel uncomfortable, as some clay-based masks can, but it does flake and crumble off, so I wouldn't recommend eating or drinking whilst waiting!
REN Detox Mask
The instructions do suggest rubbing with the fingertips to remove, but I have to say I tend to wash it off in the shower instead, just because I find that easier. I'm not sure how much of a difference this mask actually makes; my skin does feel calmer and smoother, but I'm not convinced on the claims of reducing pores and blackheads. As clay masks go, this just doesn't feel like anything special; maybe I was expecting it to be extraordinary given all the rave reviews I've read, but for me it's just a clay mask and is probably more expensive than I'd like if I were to repurchase. I'd maybe buy it again if it were on offer but I don't see this being a product I'll go out of my way to buy again once I've finished this bottle.
REN Detox Ingredients
[Ingredients: Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water, Kaolin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol, Spirulina Platensis Powder, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Lactic Acid, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Callitris Intratropica Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil.]
REN Detox Mask Review
REN's Invisible Pores Detox Mask is priced at £18 for 50ml and is available from SpaceNK, M&S and other retailers. Have you tried any of REN's face masks? What do you look for in a face mask? What's your favourite product for minimising pores?


Monday, 22 September 2014

Review: Nip + Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix

A few weeks back, I picked up Nip + Fab's Glycolic Scrub Fix in Superdrug on a bit of a whim, as I'd been wanting to try some products containing Glycolic Acid. I've been using this most evenings now for around a month, so I thought I'd share my thoughts. Please excuse the nasty sticky mark on the back of my tube, Superdrug do insist on putting those horrible security stickers on their products and they never peel off nicely!
Nip and Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix Review
Presented in a glossy white plastic tube with flip-cap, the product information is printed on the tube in silver, black and pale blue - the tube looks classy and expensive, just the sort of thing I like to have in my bathroom. "Triple action exfoliating facial polish. A 3-in-1 micro exfoliant with glycolic + salicylic acids to refine, brighten and renew. • 3% Glycolic Acid gently exfoliates and retextures. • Salicylic Acid cleanses pores. Directions: Gently massage on damp skin avoiding the eye contour area. Rinse with lukewarm water."
Nip + Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix Review
Squeezed from the tube, this is a thick white cream with fine exfoliating particles; massaged into damp skin, it feels pretty gentle and doesn't irritate my skin at all. It has a mild scent which reminds me of grapefruits, but isn't in the least bit offensive and doesn't linger after use. Following cleansing and toning, I use around a half-grape sized blob (technical term) per use and massage it into my face for around a minute, concentrating on my chin, jaw and nose as they are the areas which tend to get most congested. I then rinse with warm water and pat dry before applying my moisturiser. I tend to use this of an evening but that's because that's when it fits best into my routine; I've been using it around five or six nights per week and I honestly have noticed a real difference in my skin, with it looking clearer and brighter, and getting fewer spots. Blackheads around my nose also seem to have decreased which is amazing as nothing ever seems to shift those.
Nip + Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix
[Ingredients: Aqua, Polyethylene, Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Triethanolamine, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Limonene, Parfum, Disodium EDTA, Salicylic Acid, Benzyl Benzoate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Geraniol, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citral, Linalool, CI 42090 (Blue No. 1)]
The ingredients list is extensive but pretty friendly, and overall this is a lovely product and one I see myself repurchasing. I'd recommend it for anyone with oily, congested or blemish-prone skin; if your skin is on the drier or more sensitive side, I'd suggest using it maybe only once or twice a week to avoid irritation. The tube recommends use of sunscreen after using this product and I'd definitely reiterate that as Glycolic Acid increases the skin's sensitivity to the sun, meaning you're more likely to burn - never good! Nip + Fab Glycolic Scrub Fix is priced at £9.95 for 75ml of product and is available from Boots and Superdrug. Have you tried any Nip + Fab products? What's your favourite Glycolic Acid product?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Review | Alchemy Grapefruit Hair Remedy*

Alchemy Grapefruit Hair Remedy
I was kindly sent a bottle of Alchemy's Grapefruit Hair Remedy* to trial and review. My hair is almost waist-length so, although I have an oily scalp, I really struggle with the lengths and ends becoming dry, brittle and damaged, despite rarely using heat on my hair. I'm always looking for ways to nourish my hair and help prevent it from splitting and breaking, keeping it looking as healthy as possible!
Alchemy Hair Oil Review
"A nourishing blend of five oils to improve the condition of and strengthen your hair from within."
Alchemy's Grapefruit Hair Remedy is a blend of five oils and nothing else - no silicons, sulphates or parabens, all ingredients I do my best to avoid, which is a good start as far as I'm concerned. The oils used, and their properties, are as follows:
• Grapefruit Essential Oil cleanses the scalp and hair, removing product build-up, as well as lending a lovely citrussy scent to the product. It also stimulates hair follicles to increase hair's growth rate and treat dandruff.
• Coconut oil is easily absorbed by the hair shaft to strengthen, whilst also protecting from pollution and heat. Coconut oil is also good for reducing dandruff.
• Avocado oil improves hair's ability to retain moisture, as well as unclogging blocked hair follicles.
• Almond oil smoothes the hair cuticle, and also improves circulation to the scalp, leading to reduced inflammation and improved growth rates.
• Castor oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties to improve scalp health. It also locks moisture into the hair and promotes growth.
So, all in all, an impressive list of ingredients which seem to combine to give the perfect hair treatment!
Alchemy Oil Label
I really like the packaging, with the bottle looking lovely on my shelf and the label giving plenty of information and detailed usage directions for both wet and dry hair, which is always useful. The only thing I'm not so sure on is the stopper, which I don't think is secure enough for me to feel confident travelling with the bottle; however, you could always decant a little to take away with you, as there's definitely no need to take the full-sized 100ml bottle! The oil has a lovely citrussy scent with undertones of something else, which I really like. I find the oil is similar to olive oil in texture, making it easy to pour from the bottle into the palm of your hand for application, though you need to be careful to avoid pouring too much!
Alchemy Oil
I've tried this on both dry and wet hair, as suggested by the label. On dry hair, I massaged into the scalp and through the lengths of my hair and left it to soak for around half an hour before washing and conditioning my hair as usual. My thick hair meant this took quite a lot of oil, meaning the bottle would be used up pretty quickly. I have a naturally oily scalp so for me, I feel like this is overkill; my hair was left feeling quite lank and weighed down, despite shampooing twice. On damp hair combed through after washing, however, a little of the oil goes a long way, leaving the hair feeling silky-soft and smelling gorgeous. Used this way it seems to work well with my hair and this bottle will last an absolute age!
Overall, Alchemy's Grapefruit Hair Remedy seems to be a product that will suit all hair types, used as a pre-wash treatment on drier scalps and hairs, or as a post-wash leave-in treatment on oilier hair. Alchemy's Grapefruit Hair Remedy is priced at £17.99 for 100ml, a really generously-sized bottle which I see lasting me a long time! What's your favourite hair oil? Have you tried Alchemy's?

[*Please note this product was provided for review purposes; as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.]

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Book Review: Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld*

I've never posted a book review in over three years of blogging, which comes as a surprise even to myself, given how much I love reading, and the sheer number of books I own. However, I was recently contacted about an opportunity to review Scott Westerfeld's new book Afterworlds*, which I jumped at - I'd not heard of Westerfeld before but am always keen to discover new authors, and the idea of getting to read a book before it was published got me really rather excited. The copy I received is actually a bound proof copy rather than the edition which will be available for purchase; the quotations on the cover (along with the line "Limited Edition Book Proof"...) got me suitably interested in getting started! You can see my book below, along with what the actual UK cover will look like.
Afterworlds ProofAfterworlds UK Cover
"Darcy writes the words. Lizzie lives them.
Landing a major publishing deal, teenager Darcy finds herself in New York City, and suddenly surrounded by the cream of YA authors. At the same time, Afterworlds, Darcy's gripping thriller, begins to unfold. A novel within a novel..."
At first I thought the two stories could become confusing but I actually didn't find that to be the case at all; the two narratives ran smoothly alongside each other, each building at the same sort of pace. I found the parallels between the two stories really interesting; for example, both stories touch on budding romances, and both protagonists delay going to college, albeit for totally different reasons, in a way which makes you feel as though the book has come pleasingly full-circle.
I found both protagonists really well-written and believable, and I was really caught up in both the stories; I wanted to know what was going to happen to both Lizzie and Darcy. The supporting characters were nicely developed, meaning I felt as though I was really getting to know the people important to the protagonists as the story unfolded.
I also found some of the issues the story touched on, such as the appropriation of culture in art, really interesting, and found it made me think about the way certain groups of people and beliefs are presented in literature. As a voracious reader and someone with a vague half-formed notion of maybe, one day, writing a novel, I found the presentation of Darcy's experience of becoming a published author really interesting as well. Lizzie's story is what I'd call a paranormal thriller-slash-romance, with just the right amount of each - just the right amount of fantasy, beautifully woven into a world you can really believe in; it put me in mind of Neil Gaiman which is a compliment and a half as I love his work.
Afterworlds left me with a lasting impression (you know when you spend the next couple of days thinking about a book?) and I'm definitely keen to read more of Westerfeld's work now. Afterworlds will be published on the 23rd of September by Simon Pulse and is one I'd recommend for anyone interested in the world of publishing, as well as those who just love a good paranormal romance (think Twilight if it was written well, minus the vampires and with some pretty scary villains!). You can watch the trailer below if that's your sort of thing.

Have you read any of Scott Westerfeld's work? Do you like the sound of Afterworlds? Would you like to see me reviewing more books?

[*I was sent this book for the purposes of an honest review; as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.]

Friday, 19 September 2014

Five Most Used: Eye Make-Up

Five Most Used Eye Makeup
Following on from my Five Most Used Base Products, today I'm moving onto eye make-up, where I'll be discussing the five items which feature most frequently in my eye make-up routines. If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll no doubt recognise a few of these from my FOTD posts as I do tend to fall back on them quite frequently. You'll notice I've not included any eyeshadow palettes here, as I'm planning to do a separate post on my most-used palettes.
Most Used Eye Makeup
MUA Pro Brow Kit | This is the only brow kit I've ever owned as it's lasted me literally two years so far; I wouldn't say I'm a massive fan of it actually as the brush fell apart pretty quickly, I have to mix the two shades to get something like the right shade for my brows, and the highlight is several shades darker than my actual skin-tone, meaning it goes unused. However, I use this kit pretty much every day to define my brows so it has well and truly earned its place in this post!
Accessorize Volumising Mascara | I have a horrible feeling this mascara has been discontinued as I can't find it on Superdrug's website, which is a shame as I do really, really like it. It's exactly what I look for in a mascara, coating my lashes evenly without clumping and giving me a good dose of volume. Length isn't something I particularly look for in a mascara as my lashes are pretty long as it is, but this really makes the most of what I have. Also, the packaging is leopard print.
Stila Smudge Stick in 'Damsel' | This retractable liner came with my In The Light palette and I've actually almost finished it which makes me sad as I don't want to splash out £14 on a new one. I do really love this for a subtle way of defining my lashline, though; the deep brown isn't as harsh as black, and despite being called a Smudge Stick I find this is pretty budge-proof once it's set and easily lasts through a shift at work for me.
Maybelline EyeStudio Mono Eyeshadow in 610 'Silken Taupe'* | I tend to favour palettes over single eyeshadows but I do make a conscious effort to use my collection of individual shadows at least once or twice per week. 'Silken Taupe' is the perfect neutral shadow which looks lovely on its own on the lid meaning it's super quick to apply. It can also be incorporated readily into a smokey eye, making it quite a versatile shadow.
No7 Stay Perfect Eyeshadow in 50 'Tender' | This is another single shadow I make quite a lot of use out of, I like 'Tender' for minimal make-up days as it really brightens the eye area without being too obvious or harsh. A peachy shade with a golden shimmer, it actually reminds me of NARS 'Deep Throat' blusher in eyeshadow form - it's easy to wear and super flattering on my pale skin.
swatches Five Most Used Eye Makeup
Have you used any of these products? What are your most used eye make-up products? Any recommendations for me to check out?!


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Review: Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm*

A while ago now, I was contacted by BlowLtd and offered the chance to review a product from their site. Considering they describe themselves as "The home of fast beauty", the chances of me saying no were pretty low, and after a little browse through the site's huge product range, I was kindly sent Emma Hardie's Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm*. I really love the luxurious, pampering feeling of a balm or oil cleanser, so I was pretty excited to see how this luxe option would measure up to the more budget-friendly products I'd tried in the past. I feel I have to mention that I really liked BlowLtd's packaging, which made the whole experience that little bit more special - if you're a sucker for packaging like me, you'll love the ribbon-tied, sticker-closed, tissue paper-stuffed branded box!
Blow Ltd Packaging
"Moringa Cleansing Balm, a balanced daily cleanser that thoroughly cleanses and moisturises and can calm sensitive skin and revitalise dull and mature skins. Doubles as a soothing and hydrating mask if left on the skin for ten minutes."
The product packaging is definitely high-end, a screw-cap jar in a beautiful silver finish; I'm a little uncertain about jar packaging purely for hygiene reasons but as long as you wash your hands before each use, I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem. It certainly makes for easy dispensing of the product! With the balm, I also received an Emma Hardie dual-sided professional cleansing cloth which has muslin on one side, to exfoliate any flaky or congested areas, and microfibre on the other side for a gentler cleansing action around more delicate areas. I love this idea in theory but I have to admit to having a bit of a weird phobia of microfibre, so I've only really been using the muslin side of this cloth. That's probably a bit of a waste, but if you don't have my peculiar fabric aversions, I'm sure you'll love the versatility of a dual-sided cloth.
Emma Hardie Moringa Balm
The thick, yellow-coloured balm is soft in the jar and it's easy to scoop out the required amount; I'd say I use less than half a grape's worth of balm for my whole face as the balm melts easily into the skin and spreads really nicely. I find massaging in a cleanser really relaxing and tend to take a minute or so to really work the balm into my skin, to be sure of lifting all my make-up and any other dirt and impurities I've picked up through the day. The directions suggest mixing the balm with a little water before applying to the face, but I prefer to apply to the face and then add water to emulsify before removing with a cloth soaked in hot water; I find it easier this way and the balm is less likely to run off my face, meaning I can take more time to really massage it in.
Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm Review
This does a pretty good job of melting away all traces of make-up; it does remove mascara pretty well but I do find it can sting my eyes a little so I tend to avoid this area with the balm, using a separate eye make-up remover first. The skin is left feeling soft, clean and nourished. It is suggested that this cleanser will suit all skin-types and I have to agree - it cleans my oily skin beautifully without stripping it and sending it into oil overdrive, whilst drier skin-types would benefit from the luxurious nature of the balm.
Emma Hardie Moringa Balm Review
Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm is available from BlowLtd priced at £36 for 100ml of product. No matter how you try and justify it, that is expensive for a cleanser and it's definitely more than I'd be willing or comfortable spending at the moment. However, I do believe investing in skincare is a good idea and is worthwhile in the long term, so I would consider repurchasing in the future. My 15ml jar has lasted over three weeks of daily use, so I think the 100ml jar would easily last four or five months, which makes the price tag a little easier to swallow. Have you tried Emma Hardie's Moringa Cleansing Balm, or any other products from the range? What are your thoughts on high-end skincare? Would you spend this much on a cleanser?

[*As stated, this product was sent to me for review purposes; as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.]

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Winter Coats

Cold weather is coming and with it, the perfect excuse to buy a new Winter coat. I sadly probably won't be buying a new coat this season as I have a couple which I still wear and I'm currently trying to save as many pennies as possible towards learning to drive - it's an expensive pursuit, it turns out! That said, there's nothing wrong with looking, is there!? These are a few of my current favourites...
Winter Coats
(Clockwise from top-right):
Burgundy Brushed Funnel Coat, New Look, £49.99
Monochrome Zip Front Collarless Coat, New Look, £54.99
Gloverall Longline Hooded Duffle Coat, ASOS, £185
Sara Mac, Hobbs, £159
Jacket With Scarf, Joe Browns, £79.95
NW3 Maritime Leather Jacket, Hobbs, £299
I looove the colour burgundy, I think it looks so elegant and classy, so a burgundy coat would be just perfect; it's a super Autumnal colour, too. Monochrome goes with anything and again, it's just a timeless style which you could wear for years to come. I love the look of duffle coats (they always remind me of Paddington Bear!), and I absolutely adore the powder-blue colour of this one from ASOS. The mac is a classic style which I think every woman should own (I don't. Can you hear my will power wavering?) and the bright red is perfect for adding a pop of colour to dull rainy days. Joe Browns have a lovely selection of coats at the moment, I really love the cut of this one and the cuff detailing is beautiful.. Finally, I might actually treat myself to a leather jacket this season - I have a Hobbs voucher to spend, and whilst the Maritime sadly isn't available in my size, they have a couple of other leather jackets which I'm eyeing up. A biker is another classic really and something you'd always wear.
Will you be buying a new coat or jacket this year? Which of these is your favourite?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Review: Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal*

You may have seen my recent review of the Konjac Facial Sponge but I was also lucky enough to be sent The Konjac Sponge Company's 100% Natural Vegetable Fibre Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal*, a body sponge which is described as "the ultimate exfoliating experience".
Konjac Sponge Review
"Konjac is nature's enriching, powerful and effective answer to premium skin cleansing. The loofah plant is an exfoliating king. We have combined the goodness of Konjac plant with the power of the loofah, for an incredible deeper cleansing and exfoliating experience. Silky soft when wet • Exfoliates without damage • Deeply cleanses • Helps prevent dry skin patches and ingrown hairs • Leaves skin invigorated • Colouring & additive free."
Konjac Bamboo Loofah Sponge
The dark-grey sponge is considerably larger than the face sponge, as you can see below, but still fits in the hand relatively well, making it easy to use. The sponge claims to be "ergonomically designed with six waves"; I think rippled design looks good but I didn't find it felt much different on the skin compared to using the smooth back of the sponge. Like the Facial Sponge, this one feels quite hard and rough dry, but as soon as it gets wet it becomes soft and silky. I've been using this sponge for the last week or so in the shower with a blob of body wash to lather up and have a good old scrub all over to freshen up, and whilst it certainly leaves me feeling fresh and clean, I don't feel I'm getting as much in the way of exfoliation as I'd like. I usually use a pair of exfoliating gloves in the shower to wash myself and I just don't feel like this sponge compares in terms of really scrubbing my dry skin enough to remove dry patches and prevent ingrown hairs. If you prefer a gentle exfoliation this might suit you, but if you like a good old scrub you'll probably find this lacking.
Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal Review
Overall I do like this sponge and think it's a lovely idea but it's just not for me as far as exfoliation goes; I need something a bit more scrubby, whereas if you prefer a more gentle exfoliation this could be just the thing. The Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal doesn't actually seem to be available on the Konjac Sponge Company's website yet, but you can see the rest of their Bath Sponge range here, priced from £10.99 each, with different varieties targeted at different skin-types. Have you ever tried Konjac sponges? What do you use for a good scrub in the bath or shower?
[*Please note this product was provided in return for an honest review; as always, all thoughts are 100% my own.]

Monday, 15 September 2014

FOTD: Atomic Rose

Browsing in Boots recently, I noticed that Rimmel have added a matte line to their Apocalips range; I hadn't seen anything about these Lip Velvets prior to stumbling across them in Boots, so I was keen to have a little look, and ended up indulging in the 2 for £10 offer on Rimmel products, picking up shade 206 'Atomic Rose', which is a dusty rose-pink shade as the name might suggest! You may remember I hated the original Apocalips formula at first, though I did eventually find a way to make it work for me, so I had mixed expectations about this Lip Velvet.
The packaging is very similar to the original Apocalips line with the snazzy-shaped tube I really like - in fact, it's identical aside from the fact that it has a matte finish, presumably to match the finish of the product. The wand is the same as the original range as well, with a doe-foot applicator with a silly "reservoir" which is supposed to hold just the right amount of product to cover your lips, but in my experience contains several times too much product, resulting in messy application and colour bleeding.
Rimmel Apocalips Atomic Rose
I applied this using the 'back' of the wand so as to avoid over-application, but you could equally use a lip brush if you have one handy. I found the product spreads easily and evenly, giving a nice opaque colour in one coat. However, I also found that the product doesn't really seem to dry or set, meaning it transfers easily to clothing, food/drinks and teeth; not ideal and somehow not something I expect from a matte product. The finish isn't completely matte, but more of a velvet finish, so I guess the product naming is pretty spot on there. The shade I chose, 'Atomic Rose', is a really wearable shade that I think would suit most skin tones and be suitable for everyday wear.
Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet Atomic Rose
Despite this being quite an understated lip colour, I chose to pair it with neutral eye makeup using Too Faced's Chocolate Bar palette, which I hope to have a review up for shortly. This should show you how easy it would be to incorporate 'Atomic Rose' into an everyday make-up look, as it just adds enough colour to bring everything together and look polished without being too over-done or in-your-face. You really have to be careful whilst wearing this, though, as it transfers so easily, and touching up seems to lead to the colour becoming patchy and cake-y - not a good look!
FOTD Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet Atomic Rose
[Products Used: Pop Beauty Face Magnet Primer; The Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser; Rimmel Lasting Finish Medium Coverage Foundation in 'Ivory'; Natural Collection Cover-Up Cream in 'Fair'; Natural Collection Loose Powder in 'Neutral Translucent'; Milani Baked Blush in 05 'Luminoso'; MUA Pro Brow Kit; Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette; Accessorize Volumising Mascara; Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet in 'Atomic Rose']
Overall, I really like this shade, I just wish it wore a little better on the lips as I'm not a fan of having to touch my make-up up multiple times throughout the day. Rimmel's new Apocalips Lip Velvets are currently available in four shades, with an RRP of £6.49 for 5ml of product, though Rimmel is currently on a 2 for £10 offer in Boots. Have you picked up any of these? Do you like the look of 'Atomic Rose'?


Sunday, 14 September 2014

NOTD: Pink Sprinkle

NOTD Sally Hansen Sugar Coat Pink Sprinkle
I picked up Sally Hansen's Sugar Coat nail polish in 230 'Pink Sprinkle' from Poundland earlier in the week and, since I have three days off over the weekend, thought I'd give it a whirl on my nails. The bottle suggests two thin coats but I ended up going for three to gain a little bit more opacity; the nail line is still visible if you look closely, but much less so than with just two coats. I haven't used a base coat (naughty!) and skipped top coat so as not to lose the lovely gritty textured finish. 'Pink Sprinkle' is a warm hot pink with different sized glitters and a textured finish.
NOTD Sally Hansen Pink Sprinkle Sugar Coat
I love the way this looks (and feels!) on my nails, and am happy to say this is another Poundland bargain! Have you ever bought nail polish or other make-up from pound shops? Are you a fan of the textured nail trend, or are you over it?


Monday, 8 September 2014

ELF Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette 'NYC'

You may have seen my recent post on ELF's Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette in 'Seattle'; I also picked up the palette in 'NYC', which I'm sharing today. Like 'Seattle', 'NYC' contains ten baked eyeshadows in a range of shimmery shades. The palette comes housed in an outer cardboard packaging which, like the 'Seattle' palette, shows the shades contained; these shades are also reflected in the colour of the bars along the top of the packaging, where the palette name is printed.
ELF NYC Baked Eyeshadow Palette
"This perfect palette of 10 pigment rich baked eyeshadow shades can be used wet or dry for a subtle or vibrant effect • Infused with Jojoba, Rose, Sunflower, Apricot, and Grape Seed to condition and nourish the skin • Create gorgeous custom blended color for both day and night looks • Directions: For longer lasting color first apply an eyeshadow primer. Using an eyeshadow brush, apply the color of your choice or layer shades for a multi-dimensional look on the eye. Use the darker hues as an eyeliner for a bold effect."
ELF Studio NYC Palette
Inside, the palette is the same as 'Seattle'; in fact, it's literally indistinguishable without opening it, which annoys me slightly - would it really be so hard to have a label on the backs to allow you to differentiate easily if you own more than one!? The palette itself is made of black chunky plastic which I still don't like - I think it feels cheap and poor-quality. Opened up, however, the ten shadows within are gorgeous shades, and you also get a decent-sized mirror which is always handy to have. The shades don't have names (boo, ELF!), but are as follows. Top row: a shimmery pale pink, a shimmery pale rose-toned gold, a pearlescent white, a cool-toned gold, a shimmery silver. Bottom row: a dark grey with shimmer, a warm brown with shimmer, a gunmetal grey, a warm brown with gold shimmer, and a navy blue with silver shimmer.
ELF NYC Palette
ELF Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette NYC Review
Much like 'Seattle', the shadows in 'NYC' are pretty rubbish when used dry, with a spectacular lack of pigmentation meaning you really get very little colour pay-off for your application efforts. Applied with a damp brush, however, the shadows really come to life - the swatches below show one swipe of each shade with a dampened brush. All ten shades are wearable ones, giving you the option of a wash of colour, or building up product for a more intense effect. Applying with a well-dampened brush gives an almost foil-like effect to the shadows which I really like.
ELF NYC Palette Swatches
I feel like this palette has less unusual shades than 'Seattle'; all ten are pretty typical baked shadow shades and don't really feel as special to me. Don't get me wrong, they're nice shades and ones I'll use, just not as noteworthy as some of 'Seattle''s shades.
For this look, I used the second shadow in the top row all over the lid with a damp, flat brush. I then added the second shade from the bottom row with a small damp brush along my lashline as a liner, as well as in the crease for a bit of definition. You can see here that I struggled to blend due to applying the shadows wet; it's not a huge problem but if you're looking for perfect blending, I'd look elsewhere. I've included an outtake photo here because it made me laugh, excuse my ridiculousness.
[Products used: Pop Beauty Face Magnet Primer (forehead/nose); Benefit The POREfessional (cheeks/chin/jaw); Makeup Revolution The One Foundation in shade 8; Natural Collection Cover-Up Cream in 'Fair'; Collection Loose Powder in 'Translucent'; Sleek Blusher in 'Suede'; Wet N Wild x Fergie Shimmer Palette in Rosé Champagne Glow; ELF Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette 'NYC'; MUA Pro Brow Kit; Accessorize Volumising Mascara; Laqa & Co Lip Lube in 'Menatour']
Much like 'Seattle', I've found that the shadows in 'NYC' last well even when applied without primer, easily 8+ hours. ELF's Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette is priced at £10 for 6g of product, though ELF have regular promotions and discount codes so if you hang on for one of those you should be able to make a nice saving; mine cost me £4.90. I feel like I'd be disappointed if I'd paid full price for this but at under a fiver I'm pretty happy with it and would recommend picking it up if you like the look of the shades and don't mind applying them damp to get their full effect. Have you tried any of ELF's Studio Baked Eyeshadow palettes? Do you like the look of NYC?


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Skincare Wishlist: Day Creams

I posted a Skincare Wishlist featuring cleansers I was lusting over a few weeks ago; I've finally got around to the next installment, which is going to focus on day creams I'm currently loving the look of! I always struggle to find moisturisers which suit my oily skin, giving enough hydration without leaving me resembling an oil-slick. This is particularly important in a day cream if I want to avoid my make-up sliding off my face altogether by lunchtime!
Skincare Wishlist: Day Creams #bbloggers
The Body Shop Skin Clearing Tea Tree Lotion, £8
Good Things Manuka Honey Daily Moisturiser, £7.99
I have long been a lover of The Body Shop's Tea Tree range but have never tried the lotion for some reason; this looks like a budget-friendly option for oily skins. I've heard nothing but good things about the Good Things Manuka Honey Moisturiser (see what I did there!?) and it really does sound gorgeous, as well as being a bit of a bargain. Dr Brandt isn't a brand I'm overly familiar with but the Pores No More cream sounds pretty good and I'm always up for shrinking or hiding my pores! I've wanted to try Origins' GinZing moisturiser since it was launched yet still haven't got round to it; it can only be a matter of time now. Lush's Enzymion has pretty mixed reviews but sounds promising. Again, Murad aren't a brand I've had a lot of experience with but this correcting cream sounds pretty nice and as an added bonus, contains SPF 15. I've really liked the Vichy products I've tried and the Normaderm Hydrating Care sounds like it's made for my skin. I've never tried Melvita but have read a few favourable reviews, and anything called 'mattifying' tends to scream my name... I really like the Origins Zero Oil range so I'd love to try this lotion, and finally La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Mat is a bit of a blogger cult favourite, though one I've yet to try, so it had to feature on my list really!
What's your favourite day cream? Do you have any recommendations for me? Have you tried any of these?


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Review: Konjac Facial Sponge*

I was recently asked if I'd like to try some Konjac Sponge products; although I'd heard of the brand previously, I wasn't at all familiar with their products, so was thrilled to be offered and of course said yes! I was kindly sent one of their 100% Natural Vegetable Fibre Face Sponges* to trial and review. The Konjac Sponge Company have recently re-designed their packaging to give it a much more high-end feel, but the product inside is the same as always. The version I was sent is their new 'Face Mouse', which is shaped to fit perfectly into the palm of your hand. Suitable for all skin types, the Konjac Sponge Company say, "The Konjac Sponge is nature's enriching, powerful and effective answer to premium skin cleansing. Developed by the Japanese who have harnessed the goodness and benefits of the Konjac plant for centuries. Silky soft when wet • Gently exfoliates • Deeply cleanses skin and the delicate eye area • Refines pores • Removes water-based makeup • Works with or without cleanser • Leaves skin radiant and rejuvenated • Suitable for sensitive skin • Colouring- and additive-free."
Konjac Sponge Company
I have to admit to being a little sceptical at first as the sponge feels really quite hard when dry, and not at all the sort of thing you want to be rubbing onto your face. Once fully wet however, as promised, the sponge becomes silky soft and feels lovely on the face. The shape of the sponge makes it really easy to hold and apply the perfect amount of pressure; I tend to use this in the morning in the shower with a pump of my REN Mayblossom T-Zone Control Gel Cleanser, although I have also used it as a second cleanse without any product after removing my make-up in the evening. I do find it makes my cleanser go further and leaves my skin feeling really clean, soft and smooth. I wouldn't use it to remove my make-up but that's because I prefer an oil cleanser as my first cleanse in the evening, and I don't feel like I'd be confident that the sponge was clean after that. For mornings or for a second cleanse in the evening, however, this is perfect and really does add an element of exfoliation. It's so gentle that I can't imagine it irritating even the most sensitive of skins, and of course the fact that it can be used without any product is a bonus in that respect.
Konjac Face Mouse
Also included in the packaging is the following information on using and caring for your Konjac Facial Sponge; it's pretty straightforward, my only concern really is how hygienic it is to have the sponge just air-dry after use. I'm in the habit of using a fresh flannel or muslin cloth every day and have really seen my skin improve since starting to do this, so I'm a little dubious about this long-term, and will no doubt ultimately be tempted to chuck it in the washing machine for a thorough wash...
Konjac Facial Sponge Use & Care
Overall, I'm definitely glad I've tried the Konjac Facial Sponge and it's something I'll consider buying again as I do feel it's a nice addition to my skincare routine, making my cleansers work harder and offering gentle exfoliation. The Konjac Face Mouse is priced at £8.99 and is available from the Konjac Sponge Company. Konjac sponges are also available from Selfridges and Cult Beauty, amongst others - a full list of stockists is available here. Have you tried Konjac sponges? What do you think - beauty must-have or just a gimmick? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

[*This product was provided for review purposes. As always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.]
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