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Thursday, 30 June 2016

In Retrospect | June 2016

If you caught my May In Retrospect post, you'll have seen that I'm shaking up my last post of the month; having done an Empties post at the end of each month for over three years, I felt like it was time for a change! So, on the last day of each month, you'll find me looking back at how I got on with my goals, the fun things I've been up to, and the posts I've been loving, as well as a brief summary of the products I've used up. So, June:
I haven't actually finished a huge number of products in June (only seven, in fact!), but the ones I did use up have been a bit of a mixed bag...
Will Repurchase: Origins Out of Trouble ™ Face Mask | I bloomin' love this mask! It's brilliant for really calming the skin down, soothing any redness or irritation, and helping blemishes to heal more quickly. It has quite a strong smell which I'm not keen on, but I can live with it for how much my skin loves it. // Collection Extreme 24-Hour Felt Tip Liner | Check out my retro review there! I love this just as much as I ever did; it's super black, easy to use, and the pen lasts ages without drying out. I don't wear eyeliner every day but this never lets me down when I reach for it, and I'll definitely pick it up again in the future. // Balance Me Revitalising Hand & Body Wash | I loved the fresh & zingy scent of this body wash, which came as a magazine freebie a few months back, and I actually did pick up a second tube while it was still available. I think this is really reasonably priced to buy, too, so I will probably buy it again in the future.
Might Repurchase: Beauty Kitchen Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Soufflé | I really like the Beauty Kitchen range and the Inspire Me products smell gorgeous. This hydrates nicely, although I'm not sure about the brightening and toning claims. I have a lot of body butters and similar products to use up before I even consider repurchasing this! // Boots Botanics Shine Away Invigorating Face Scrub | I'm falling out of love with physical exfoliants, in favour of chemical products which achieve similar effects without damaging my skin (or the environment, in the case of microbeads!). This was an okay scrub but nothing amazing, and it didn't seem to keep my skin any less shiny as it claimed, though I did only use it once or twice a week. // Elie Saab Le Parfum Eau De Parfum | A sample vial from my Latest in Beauty Build Your Own Box*, this was quite a grown-up fragrance by my standards, but I really enjoyed its notes of orange blossom and jasmine.
Won't Repurchase: REN Vita Mineral Active 7 Eye Gel | I wasn't wowed by this at all (I do often seem to be underwhelmed by REN products, somehow) and didn't really find it to do anything much for my eye area; I'm only really looking for hydration as I don't have any major lines yet, but this fell short for me. The gel texture was nice but that's not really enough!

June Goals
• Run at least once per week. I decided not to push my luck on this one after injuring my ankle pretty badly in mid-May (it's still quite stiff, six weeks later!) and didn't run until the middle of June, but I have run at least once a week since then, so I half-succeeded?! I did quite a long run this week (well, 4.5 miles!) and although I walked a fair bit of it, I was really proud of myself and I'm looking to build on that into July.
• Finish the month at least £350 from the bottom of my overdraft. I actually finished around £500 from the bottom - still pretty overdrawn, but I'm proud of this one! I've also paid off the last instalment of the loan my Dad gave me to buy my car this month, so clearing the overdraft and starting to put a bit more money aside in my savings account should get easier from here.
• Have a major sort-out of clothes & books. I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying early on in the month, which really inspired me to have a good sort-out of my clothes, taking two bags to the charity shop. There's still work to be done (as in, I've not touched the books yet...), but I do feel like I've made good headway on this one!
• See friends at least twice. I met up with an old school-friend for lunch before work one day, and had a whole weekend of reunion with Warrior friends at the first Total Warrior event of the season in Leeds last weekend. I also had a quick drink with a few friends the other night, which was lovely - time seems to fly these days and before I know it, it's been two months since I've seen someone!

A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on

• Take part in this Instagram challenge. I didn't complete all the days (I was probably never going to, let's be honest!) but I did have fun taking part in this little challenge, which has helped me to post more consistently on Instagram. I've also discovered some fab new accounts to follow! You can see my snaps @JesssRawr.
• Get a job. Success! I went for an interview on the 2nd, was offered the job, and quit my current job the very same day! I cannot express how pleased I am about this! Today is officially my last day in my current job, although I've decided I'm going to stay as a casual staff member, purely to keep my options open as my new job is only a six-month contract to begin with. I don't have a start date for the new job yet (the joys of waiting for health checks and DBS clearance...) so I'll be doing a few more shifts in the meantime.

May Loves
How gorgeous is the Jaclyn Hill x BECCA collaboration!? I was so disappointed by the eye palette being withdrawn and all the fuss around it, as it looks beautiful - but either way Kristina's photos of the products are just stunning.
Jasmine posted about affordable dupes for cult skincare products, sharing her thoughts on a number of alternatives and whether she'd make the switch! I love posts like this as I'm all about dupes and saving pennies where I can. As an aside - Jasmine's photos are always so gorgeous, I have such bad photo envy whenever I read her posts!
Affordable Skincare Dupes
Here on The Indigo Hours, meanwhile, my favourite posts this month include my review of Benefit's Goof Proof Brow Pencil (which you can still pick up for free with Elle magazine for a few more days!), the products in my Summer Skincare Routine, and the products in my Latest In Beauty Build-Your-Own Beauty Box! Do pop on over and check them out if you missed them, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

June In Summary
It's been a fairly busy month, what with my interview and all the following paperwork for leaving my existing jobs and getting started with the new one... I don't really speak a lot about politics here on my blog but I don't feel I can not mention the EU Referendum - I was so upset with the outcome and still am, I am honestly really worried about how things are going to go from here. Aside from that though I've had quite a good June.
How has your month been? Have you achieved any of your goals? I'd love to hear what you've been loving in June!

[*Post contains affiliate links.]

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

My Version of The Summer Body

The Internet is a bit over-run at the moment with people talking about summer bodies; for me, though, a summer body means loving what you've got and taking good care of yourself, rather than battling to lose a few pounds and making yourself miserable. I try to be healthy all year round, but I also like cake, and that's fine. However, I am a little bit obsessed at the moment with achieving gorgeous, silky-smooth limbs...
Summer Body Must-Haves
I talked a couple of days ago about this shower-time duo from Forever Living; the Relaxation Shower Gel* has a lovely relaxing scent of Lavender and leaves my skin feeling super-soft, as well as being lovely to shave with! I was actually really surprised as my skin can be so sensitive when it comes to shaving, but I've had no irritation at all using this. I like to use it with a pair of exfoliating gloves to help keep my skin super-soft. The Aloe Scrub* is perfect on my upper arms, and has worked brilliantly to keep peeling at bay when I've spent a little too long in the sun *slapped wrist*.
Please note I am no longer recommending, purchasing, accepting for review, or otherwise using products from Multi-Level Management (MLM) companies due to their dubious ethicality. I am therefore no longer recommending Forever Living products.
Summer Body Essentials
Once a week or so, I like to go in with a more intensive scrub on my legs, which are quite prone to ingrown hairs; the Boots Extracts Mango Sugar Scrub smells every bits as beautiful as it sounds -perfect for summer - and leaves my legs feeling amazing. I also picked up a dry body brush lately and have been trying to give my legs a good brush once or twice a day; it's meant to be really good for cellulite as it improves your circulation, but I'm just loving how soft my skin feels afterwards!
Finally, for a nice dose of moisture, I'm loving The Body Shop's Hemp Body Butter, especially after swimming or shaving, which can both dry my legs out. For a lighter option, the Dove Purely Pampering Pistachio Cream & Magnolia Oil smells bloomin' gorgeous and gives a lovely sheen to my skin. It's not the most moisturising of products, so I only use this on days where my skin hasn't taken any abuse - but it still feels like a nice treat!
What are your summer body must-haves? What products do you always bring out when the sun starts to put in an appearance?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Friday, 24 June 2016

If I Could Only Keep Ten Make-up Products...

I spotted this post a few weeks ago on Beautylymin and stashed it away in my Excel spreadsheet for future use... I love posts like this, which really let you see which products people actually love and depend upon! So if, for some unknown reason, I had to whittle my make-up collection down to just ten products, these are the ones I'd choose:
The Body Shop All-In-One Instablur Universal | My favourite primer! I use this under everything except the L'Oreal Infallible foundation (which hates primer) and love the way it smooths out imperfections and helps keep my base in place for so much longer. It also keeps me matte for up to 5 hours which is something of a miracle!
L'Oreal Infallible 24H Matte Foundation | This was a grower for sure (I hated it at first!) but it gives such a beautiful coverage and I love the velvety finish on my skin! Once I realised it hated every primer I owned and is best applied onto bare skin (with plenty of moisturiser), I fell in love quite quickly. It's a full coverage but, whilst I can definitely feel it on my face, it isn't mask-like or suffocating on my skin.
Lacura CC Cream | Because a girl's gotta have options when it comes to her base! I love this CC cream for a decent coverage that somehow manages to feel super light on the skin, yet still lasts well even on my oil-slick of a face.
Benefit High Beam | It was a close call between this and Sun Beam, but High Beam just pipped it to the post as it's more wearable year-round, whereas I only tend to reach for Sun Beam in the summer. I love the way a liquid highlight can brighten up the whole face and give such a healthy "glow".
Collection Sheer Loose Powder | I honestly don't know how many jars of this I've been through; it's cheap and cheerful but does the job really well for me, setting my foundation and any other liquid/cream products, and helping to keep oil at bay for at least a few hours.
NARS Deep Throat Blusher | This is an old favourite for me and was my first NARS product; I really love it for adding a subtle pop of colour to the cheeks, and the shimmer means it can serve as a blusher and highlighter all in one - although at the moment I'm loving a strong highlight, so I'd definitely wear a separate highlight too!
NARS Douceur Blusher | I'm trying to be a bit more sparing with this lately after learning that it's been discontinued (sob!) but I love it. It's perfect either as a really natural flush of colour to the cheeks, or blended under the cheekbones as a contour shade. I seriously need to find a dupe for this as I hate to think of being without it. Suggestions on a postcard (or in the comments!) please!
GOSH Forever Eyeshadow Stick in 'Beige' | I love this either on its own all over my lids for a really pretty shimmery look without being too over-the-top (it's very work-safe!), or as a base for powder shadows; it makes other colours pop really well, and holds my shadow in place all day. It's super handy, too, in its scribble-on crayon format.
Makeup Revolution x British Beauty Blogger Fortune Favours The Brave Palette | I keep saying this is my favourite palette of 2016 so far and that's not changed yet! It's just such a beautiful, wearable selection of shades, with something for all occasions, and the quality is fab.
Mascara | Mascara is the product I'm least loyal to; I will literally just buy a new launch or whatever is on offer - I don't have a favourite that I'll purchase over and over. I'm quite lucky in that my lashes are naturally quite long, thick and curly, so really I just need my mascara to be nice and black, add a bit of definition, and not flake or smudge all over my face.
You might notice there are no lip products here - and that's because I'd never choose one over any of these! I don't think I'd actually miss my lip products - sure, sometimes they're nice to add a little something to my face, but I think mostly I only reach for them because they're there, if you know what I mean.
What would you choose if you could only keep ten make-up products? Would any of your choices be the same as mine? I'd love to know if you've done a similar post!


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Build Your Own Beauty Box with Latest in Beauty*

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I posted about what I'd include if I was to produce The Indigo Hours Beauty Box? Well luckily for me, Latest In Beauty have offered me the chance to build a beauty box all of my very own*, so let's have a little look at the products I chose for this one!
There are a vast selection of products to choose from, with everything from bodycare and fragrance through to haircare and make-up. Each product tells you the size you'll receive, which ranges from 1.5ml samples for things like perfumes, through travel-sized products such as body wash and bath oil, right through to full-sized products like hand cream and lip balm - so you'll know exactly what you're getting. I mostly went for miniatures, because (1) who doesn't love a beauty mini?! and (2) I like to try new things in my beauty boxes and these are a great way to do that.
Amie Morning Facial Wash & Moisturiser Duo, 2x10ml | I've really liked the products I've tried from Amie in the past, so I was excited to see this duo on offer! I've used their Morning Light moisturiser before but always really liked the sound of the matte version, so I'm looking forward to trying it.
Elemental Herbology Cell Plumping Facial Hydrator, 15ml | I've not tried Elemental Herbology before but I love the simple packaging, and a cell plumping moisturiser sounded like a really lovely product. Hopefully this will be a good introduction to the brand for me!
Bee Good Lift & Brighten Eye Cream, 5ml | Bee Good are another brand I really like and have been wanting to try more of, so this went straight into my box. I don't think I've ever bought an eye cream, as tiny samples like this always last ages!
Exuviance Triple Microdermabrasion Face Polish, 10g | I've seen Exuviance pop up on a couple of blogs lately so when I spotted this product I was quick to pop it in my box. Offering glycolic acid, papaya enzymes and professional grade exfoliating crystals, this sounds really lovely.
Elie Saab L'Eau Couture Eau de Toilette, 2x0.8ml | These are only tiny sample vials (though you do get two!) but I really like perfume samples in beauty boxes and it's always nice to try something a bit high-end.
[Sorry this photo is appalling. Best of a bad bunch!]
Yin Yang Gold Defence Lotion, 10ml | This is a brand I'm completely unfamiliar with - I love discovering new beauty brands, so into my box it went!
NUDE Progenius Rescue Oil, 5ml | I've heard good things about NUDE and am a huge fan of a good facial oil or three, so I thought this would be a nice one to try. Again, tiny samples of facial oils always seem to last forever.
Urban Veda Reviving Hydrating Toner, 150ml (full size) | Last but not least... Urban Veda are a brand I've tried in the past and loved, so I was keen to expand my repertoire. At the moment I use an exfoliating toner a few times a week, but I like the idea of adding a hydrating one to my routine.

You can build your own Latest In Beauty box here, with prices starting from £8.99 for three products, £12.99 for six products, or a bargainous £16.99 for nine products! You'll need to create an account if you don't have one already, but it only takes 30 seconds and then you're ready to get going on choosing your own selection of beauty products for your very own beauty box. What would you choose to include in your box? Have you ever bought a Latest in Beauty box?

[*Product provided for consideration. Post contains affiliate links.]

Monday, 20 June 2016

Review | Born Pretty Heart-Shaped Lipstick*

I was recently sent this lovely lipstick* from Born Pretty; now, I'm not usually much of a wearer of lip products, and my day-to-day face doesn't include much more than a lipbalm, but how do you resist a heart-shaped lipstick!? Simple answer: you don't.
The outer box is super-cute! Just look at that little sleeping chick(?) at the top! The lipstick casing itself is quite pretty too, I think, with a shimmery pale-pink base and a clear cap which shows the design of white hearts on the silver bullet within. The top of the lid is faceted to look like a rhinestone, and the lid clicks on securely enough that I'd be reasonably happy carrying this in my handbag for touch-ups.
#68 is a bright, vivd true red shade which applies on the lips quite true to how it looks in the bullet (and much brighter than it looks on Born Pretty's product page...). It has a blue undertone which works nicely to make the teeth look whiter! It's way outside my comfort zone and as such isn't something I'd really wear except for special occasions... The formula is smooth and creamy, though, and it applies nicely without dragging or feeling dry on the lips, and it feels comfortable once it's on. I've found it's quite difficult to apply neatly from the bullet, but using a lip brush it's fine.
When it comes to wear-time, this is good for around three hours on me, although it does leave behind a stain on the lips which is quite pretty too. It's quite moisturising so it transfers easily to cups etc., but it doesn't seem to cause any dryness or chapping, although I do always use a lipbalm first.
The Born Pretty Heart-Shaped Lipstick is available in ten shades, priced at £2.41 here. Remember you can save 10% store-wide with my code 'JESSMK31'. Do you like the look of this lipstick? Are you a lip-product lover, or do you save them for special occasions like me?

[*Product provided for consideration. Prices correct at time of writing but may change with fluctuations in exchange rates.]

Saturday, 18 June 2016

A Photo Prop Wishlist

As I mentioned in my post about improving my blog, I've been trying to work on my photography of late, which has meant playing around with the terrifying manual settings on my camera... I've also started to gather a few pretty bits and pieces to include in my photos to brighten them up a bit. I'm starting to identify a bit of a photography style (okay, that might be stretching the truth. I mean, I know how I want my photos to look!) which involves nice, bright, well-lit photos with pops of colour and bold print and patterns. I've put together a little list of a few things I'd love to add to my prop box - with no marble or copper in sight!
Toulouse Placemat, £8.95, Anthropologie
Flower Tealight Candles, £6, Urban Outfitters
Flamingo Cushion, £12, Tesco
Embroidered Journal, £11.99, Anthropologie
Tornado Notebook, £6, Coconut Lane
Price's Reed Diffuser, £12, George at Asda
Mini Paper Doilies, £4.50, Accessorize
Glass Lantern, £12, George at Asda
I really love fabric for adding a bit of texture, and the print on these Anthropologie placemats is just beautiful! I'm a little bit obsessed with tealights, but I've never seen any so pretty as these shaped flower ones from Urban Outfitters... I know it's a bit of a cliché but I'm loving the flamingos everywhere at the moment, and this cushion is so cute that I'd have to use it in daily life as well as for photos. I'm a sucker for a pretty notebook, and both of these are just gorgeous - bold print and watercolour, what more could you want?! There's something ridiculously elegant about reed diffusers, although I'm always scared of knocking mine over... I always used to love paper doilies and the bright colours of these from Accessorize have got me a bit excited! And finally, the gorgeous glass lantern from George - can you imagine how beautiful this would look with a creamy white pillar candle in it? Perfection.
You can get 20% off site-wide Coconut Lane using my code* 'INDIGOHOURS20' at the checkout, so if you like the look of the notebook, do head on over and see what else they have to offer! What are your favourite props to use in your blog photos? Where do you tend to shop for props? (I love a good rhyme...)

[*Affiliate code; I will receive a commission based on the value of any orders placed using my discount code.]

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Five Things You Can Do To Easily Up Your Blogging Game

Recently, I've been trying to make a bit more effort to work on my blog and push myself to improve it; I've been blogging for almost five years now (I don't know where the time has gone, either!) and whilst I feel like in a lot of ways I've improved naturally, I always like a challenge and I'm always trying to push myself in one way or another. Here are just a few of the ways I've been actively trying to improve of late; I don't want this to come across as at all preachy or anything like that, these are just a few things I've been doing which I feel have led to improvements in my blog.
[Photo credit: Wonderfelle Media; Edited by me.]
I treated myself to a reflector off Amazon (here) to try and improve my photos. I'm just using a Fujifilm point-and-shoot, and will be for the foreseeable future until I can afford to invest in something a bit better, so in the interests of working with what I've got, I decided to pick up a cheap reflector to try and lighten up my photos and reduce shadows. I've also been playing around with the manual settings on my camera a bit more, as well as trying to improve my composition; I've slowly been building up a box of photography props which I'm trying to include in my photos to make them a little bit more visually appealing. Hopefully you'll have noticed the difference over the past few months! I've also been using a few stock photos here and there - there are so many nice ones available for free!
Reply to Comments
I always used to reply to comments people left on my posts, but I'd somehow fallen out of the habit unless someone asked a specific question. Thinking about it, though, I think I'm more likely to comment on someone's post if I can see that they've responded to others, so I've been making the effort for the past few weeks to go through and reply to the comments people so kindly leave, as well as checking out their blogs where I can.
Engage On Social Media
I really enjoy using social media and always have, but to be honest I had found I'd fallen a bit out of love with it over the past couple of years. Recently, I've really been making an effort to engage more and get back to the roots of what I originally loved - connecting with people. A couple of times a day (like on my break at work and before bed), I'll scroll through Instagram and try to comment on 5-10 photos, or reply to a handful of tweets on Twitter. Striking up conversation like this not only encourages people to check out my profile, but it's also kind of the point of social media for me; it's been quite refreshing to remind myself of that!
Think Outside The Box
I've always featured a lot of reviews on my blog, but lately I've found myself getting a bit tired of them, so I've been trying to think outside the box a little in terms of how I present my posts. So, for example, instead of a straight review of a Born Pretty Brow Pencil I was sent, I included it in a Budget-Friendly Brow Products post - I know this isn't a ground-breaking concept, but I feel like it's really helping me to freshen up my content and tap my creativity a little more. It's always good to mix things up and try new approaches!
Comment on Other Blogs
This is something I go through phases of doing more or less of, but I do love reading other people's blogs and like to take the time to leave a comment where I can! I know how pleased I always am to receive comments, so being able to give that to other bloggers is really nice. It's also a fab way of building a connection with bloggers I like, and encourages me to read more posts, which I always find inspires me. Even if you just set yourself the goal of commenting on five blog posts each week - just think of the happiness you could spread!

What do you do to improve your blog? Do you have any tips for me?

[*Post contains affiliate links.]

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Five Rather Lovely Things

I was recently sent some lovely treats from Rather Lovely, which inspired me to put together a little post of rather lovely things in my life at the moment. This is just a bit of a chatty post, really, but I'd love to hear about the rather lovely things in your life, too!
Five Rather Lovely Things
01. This Rather Lovely Herbs Candle*, which has a beautiful clean scent of rosemary and thyme. It's made of vegetable wax for a clean burn, and is lasting really well - I've burnt less than half of it and I've had it lit for probably about ten hours so far. It's not an overpowering fragrance, but a really nice one nonetheless.
02. I've started running again this past weekend, after a month off with my sprained ankle. I just did a mile each day but it felt so good to get back into it! I'm going to take it easy for a week or so and then start trying to build my mileage up a little. I've been trying to take the dog but he's very suspicious of the whole enterprise and tends to just turn round and go home without me after a few hundred yards...
03. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying a couple of weeks ago and, whilst it's completely impractical for me to try and follow the advice whilst I'm living out of one room in my parents' house, it has inspired me to have a good sort-out of my clothes. I've got a huge heap waiting to be bagged up to take to the charity shop, and what I've got left is so much more organised. I love it!
04. I got a new job!!!! Almost three years after graduating from my Masters, I've finally got a full-time, paid graduate position! It's impossible to convey how excited I am about this. I've not got a start date yet as I need to do all the DBS clearance checks, health checks and so on, but I've handed in my notice at my other jobs, which I was super pleased to be able to do!
05. I somehow seem to have got a bit of a tan; I don't usually tan at all, I just go pink and then white again (like a marshmallow!) so I'm pretty surprised to have gone quite a nice shade of brown (at least down one side of my body...) after a couple of hours sat in a pub beer garden near Oxford last weekend. I went down with my Mum to watch my brother race, and we ended up going for a pub lunch with some of his friends afterwards, which was really nice.
20160605_132835 IMG_20160605_150729
I'd love to hear one thing that's making you happy at the moment?

[*Product provided for consideration. Post contains affiliate links.]

Sunday, 12 June 2016

My Summer Skincare Routine

I feel like I've got my skincare pretty much down at the moment, so I thought now was a good time to share an updated routine; generally speaking, my skin is super-oily but still dehydrated (yes, that's a thing) and prone to blemishes. I get a lot of blackheads on my nose and chin, as well as a few on my forehead - the areas where I get oiliest. I also used to get quite a lot of spots, usually having anything from one to fifteen or so active spots at any one time; at the moment I never have more than a couple at once and they're generally at a certain time of the month, so that's a huge improvement. So, let's have a look at what's working for me!
I like to keep things simple in the morning, so generally I just cleanse with my beloved Super Facialist by Úna Brennan Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash; it's a right mouthful of a product name but it works so so well for my skin. I'm on my second tube now which says a lot, as I can't remember when I last repurchased a cleanser! I literally massage this into my face with dampened hands, then splash off with cool water and pat dry.
In terms of moisturising, I've been loving The Hero Project's Hyasoft, which I was lucky enough to win a tube of; this non-sticky gel absorbs super-quickly into my skin, delivering a dose of Hyaluronic Acid to help with dehydration. I really notice a difference in how plump and healthy my skin looks after using this. I follow this up with a tiny bit of Amie's Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturiser*, which is a lovely light no-frills moisturiser. A dab of Balance Me's Tinted Wonder Eye Cream on my eye areas, gently tapped in with my ring fingers, and I'm done.
I always start by removing my make-up - I'm currently using Garnier's Micellar Oil-Infused Cleansing Water, which smells beautiful, and is gentle enough to use even on my eyes. I then go in with my Organic Surge Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser for my first cleanse; I massage this in for around a minute, making sure to really work it into my skin, before polishing off with a flannel wrung out in hand-hot water. I use a clean flannel each day to prevent bacteria from building up. For my second cleanse, I use the Úna Brennan Cleansing Wash again, simply massaging into my skin and splashing off. At this point I might use one of the treatments mentioned below, before moving onto the next steps...
I dab a little bit of Merumaya's Concentrated Spot Treatment or Tea Tree Oil onto any active spots; this can sting a tiny bit on any broken skin, but both work really well to calm blemishes down overnight, massively reducing their size and redness. I give that a couple of minutes to dry before applying Hyasoft again, followed by my current night-time moisturiser. At the moment I'm using a Skin Chemists Bee Venom Moisturiser which I won a while ago; I've only been using this a couple of weeks, but so far I really like it, and find it leaves my skin feeling really nice and soft. It's quite pricey and I'm not sure I could justify buying it myself, but while I've got it I'm enjoying using it! A dab of the non-tinted version of Balance Me's Wonder Eye Cream, a slick of Carmex, and that's it for the night.
Twice a week, I spritz COSRX's AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner onto a cotton pad and apply all over my face; I wasn't sure about this at first and it took a bit of experimentation to figure out how it works best for my skin, but used just a couple of times a week I find it helps my skin to look smoother, clearer and brighter.
Once a week I use Nip + Fab's Glycolic Fix Scrub after cleansing; I usually massage this in gently with damp hands, all over my face, and let it sit a couple for a couple of minutes before rinsing off. I love that this is a double-duty dose of exfoliation, with both the manual scrub particles and the chemical action from the 3% Glycolic Acid.
If my skin is looking dull, I'll massage in a couple of drops of Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drops after cleansing and before any moisturisers etc. This contains Vitamin C to brighten up the skin, but I found that using it too often seemed to break me out, so I stick to once or twice per week.
If I have any dry patches (it happens occasionally, even though my skin is oily, due to my eczema), I'll massage in a little bit of facial oil - at the moment, I'm loving this Oilixia Brilliance Facial Oil which I won a couple of months ago, but other favourites include the Boots Botanics Facial Oil, which is a fab budget option, and the Merumaya Everything Everywhere Beauty Oil.
I tend to use a mask two or three times per week, depending on what my skin needs; usually one night per week I'll replace my moisturiser with the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, which works beautifully to deliver really intensive (fancy that!) moisturisation, whilst smelling bloomin' gorgeous too! Other mask favourites include the Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask for a super-deep cleanse; TurBliss Bioactive Peat Mask For Problem Skin* to cleanse and calm (but only if I don't have to go out straight afterwards!); and Balance Me Radiance Face Mask to, as the name suggests, add radiance as well as smooth the skin. I usually use my masks in the morning as I don't start work til later, so I've got plenty of time to potter about with my face covered in goo.
And I think that's it! I know it looks like a lot written out like this, but it actually only takes me about five minutes in the morning (a little longer if I use a mask, obviously!) and about ten minutes in the evening. Have you tried any of these products? What are your summer skincare must-haves?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Review | Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil

Having picked up Benefit's new Goof Proof Brow Pencil free with this month's issue of ELLE magazine (check out the other freebies available this month!), I thought I'd share how I've been getting on while the magazine is still in the shops - that way, if you like the sound of it, you should still be able to pick it up for FREE. Hooray!
From what I understand, there are two shades available with ELLE; shade 02, which is described as "light" on Benefit's website, and shade 06, which is described as "deep". Now, someone at ELLE made a grave error and put the magazine in an opaque plastic wrapper, so you've no way of seeing which shade you're getting until you open it - it's pot luck really, and I ended up with shade 06. That's probably the shade I'd have chosen anyway, given the opportunity, so I don't mind too much - but if you have a strong preference, it's a bit of an inconvenience!
Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil
The outer cardboard packaging was horrible to photograph as it's shiny and silver; it was just coming out black in my photos, so I gave up. You can see it on the product page here if you're bothered! It's fairly standard Benefit, with fun text and graphics alongside some statistics. Apparently, 95% of testers said it was easy to fill and shape their brows, whilst 91% said Goof Proof Brow Pencil gave them beautiful brows on their first try. This really is a product aimed at beginners so I was expecting it to be super easy to use...
Benefit Goof Proof Swatch Shade 6
...and I haven't been disappointed! For once, I feel like one of Benefit's products actually lives up to its claims; the twist-up nib (no sharpening!) is tear-drop shaped which makes it super-easy to fill in both the body and the tail of my brows really precisely. It looks like the pencil which will be available to buy will have a spoolie on the other hand, which the one available with ELLE doesn't, so I've been blending a little with my own brow brush just to soften any harsh lines; it blends easily and looks really natural once I'm done.
Benefit Goof Proof Brow on the face
I've been wearing this for work which has been a true test of its longevity; we've had radiator trouble recently and a radiator was stuck on during the mini-heatwave we've had, meaning it was 34°C at work the other night. My brows did not budge. Colour me impressed.
Benefit's Goof Proof Brow Pencil will be launching on the 24th June and will be priced at £18.50 here; the full range will consist of six shades which look as though they should cover most bases. I think £18.50 is steep for 0.34g of product, even if it does include a spoolie, but then again it's Benefit and I always think their prices are a little steep. Overall, it's a good product; I'd definitely recommend grabbing it with ELLE (if you can handle the stress of not being able to choose your shade), and I'd consider buying it myself once I've used this up. Remember you also get a voucher with ELLE for a free wax at a Benefit brow bar when you purchase one first - in other words, book and pay for one wax, get a second free.
Have you picked up the Goof Proof Brow Pencil? How do you like to do your brows? If you prefer something a bit more purse-friendly, check out my Budget Brow Picks!

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Friday, 10 June 2016

What I'd Put in The Indigo Hours Beauty Box

I really enjoyed Hayley's post on what she'd include in the London Beauty Queen beauty box, and it got me thinking about what I'd include were I to put together my own beauty box! I think this is a brilliant way of putting together a sort of "edit" of must-have products, although there's no way you could fit all my must-haves into one box... I've managed to limit myself(!) to twelve products, and I've tried to split them up into haircare/skincare/make-up, so read on to see what I've chosen!
Toni & Guy Casual Matt Texture Dry Shampoo | Dry shampoo is an absolute must-have for me and, although it's a bit more expensive than I'd usually like, this is the best one I've tried by far. It's perfect on freshly-washed hair for adding a bit of volume at the roots, as well as for freshening up second-day hair without leaving my scalp feeling itchy and blergh. A travel-friendly 50ml can would be perfect in a beauty box!
Tresemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydrating Mist | I raved about this product here; I've found it perfect for really helping to hydrate the dry, frazzled ends of my hair, massively reducing the number of split ends I get.
The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector (not shown) | My all-time favourite hand cream! I've never used anything as good for working super-quickly to heal and soften the dry, sore, flaky bits I get on my hands. I don't actually have a tube of this at the moment, hence it not being shown in the photos, but I'd definitely want to share the love in my beauty box.
Super Facialist by Úna Brennan Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash | You can read my full review of this cleanser here, but the short story is it's the first cleanser I've repurchased in several years. It suits my oily, blemish-prone skin perfectly, leaving it feeling soft and clean but never stripped or irritated.
Origins Clear Improvement Mask | I love Origins masks but for me, this is the must-have from their range - it just works so well to suck any congestion out of my pores, leaving my skin feeling soft and smooth, and looking ten times clearer. I reviewed this in full here. Origins' sample tubes are pretty generous so I'd be happy to include one of those in my box.
Organic Surge Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser | I usually favour balms and oils over cream-based cleansers but I've fallen for this one hook, line and sinker! It smells beautiful and leaves my skin feeling so soft and clean. I reviewed this last month here. Two cleansers in one box is probably overkill but I love them both and cleansers are definitely my favourite skincare product...
Classic Carmex Lip Balm | Having included this in my post on products that are always in my stash, it seems fitting to include it here as well! I've used Carmex for about a decade and have come to depend on it to soothe and heal my lips, overnight. I think a lipbalm is a safe product to include in a beauty box; everyone uses them right!?
The Body Shop All-in-One Instablur Universal | My faaaaaavourite primer, this works perfectly to blur the large open pores on my cheeks, as well as helping to keep my super-oily face looking somewhat matte for hours longer than anything else I've tried. You can read my full post on Instablur here.
Giorgio Armani Code for Women Eau de Parfum | This is probably my signature scent so I have to include! I know a lot of people aren't keen on receiving perfume samples in beauty boxes but personally, I love it, so I'd definitely include a sample vial of this. I receive so many compliments on this.
Stila In The Light Palette | I was gutted to learn this had been discontinued as it's one of my most-used palettes. I think a palette would be a brilliant product to receive in a beauty box and In The Light has something for everyone, it's such a wearable selection of shades.
L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24H-Matte Foundation | Originally I wasn't keen on this but I grew to love it! Obviously a foundation would be a tricky product to include in a beauty box, what with the whole shade-matching thing, but practicalities aside, it's a real staple for me and I'd love to include it. Maybe the box could contain a voucher which you could exchange for your shade in shops?
Benefit Sun Beam Highlighter | This is the perfect summer-time highlight with its beautiful golden tones, I'm loving it at the moment! Benefit products are always popular and they do super-cute minis which would be perfect for a beauty box.

So, would you be happy with The Indigo Hours beauty box? Is there anything you'd change? What would you include if you were building your own beauty box? If you like the idea, you actually can build your own beauty box with Latest In Beauty, choosing products from a generous selection of skincare, bodycare, fragrance, make-up and haircare! There are a few box sizes available with different numbers of products to suit your needs and budget - why not check them out here?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

#GetGlowing with Natural Collection*

As Summer gets into full swing here in the north-west of England I'm starting to see the appeal of lighter make-up, and over the past couple of weeks I've really pared back my routine to the bare minimum. I'm choosing lighter bases over my full-coverage foundations, skipping my liquid highlighters and even going without eyeshadow some days! Tying beautifully in with all this are these goodies sent to me by Natural Collection*, who are trying to encourage women to #GetGlowing this summer with a fresh and natural, bronzed look.
Natural Collection are stocked in Boots stores nationwide, with all their products costing just £1.99. I feel like they're often overlooked due to their low price-point and simple packaging, so let's see how I got on with these bits and pieces. 
Natural Collection Get Glowing
The first product I was sent was their Tinted Moisturiser in the lightest shade, 'Natural'; it's also available in 'Fair' and 'Beige'. I was a bit dubious about this for a couple of reasons - I was worried it would be too dark or orange for my fair skin, and I didn't know whether it would offer enough coverage. I was also sent the Pressed Powder in 'Warm', which is perfect to set the base. It's also available in 'Neutral' and 'Cool', so you can choose the option which best suits your skintone!
Natural Collection Summer Makeup
My skin has been much clearer lately so actually, the Tinted Moisturiser is just about right in terms of coverage; it evens out my skintone and hides minor marks (like the redness around my nose) and blemishes quite nicely - you can see below my naked face (sorry!) on the left and with the tinted moisturiser on the right.
I still need to go in with a bit of concealer under my eyes and on any more pronounced blemishes, but I've actually been pretty impressed with the coverage of this Tinted Moisturiser. It actually lasts pretty well; although I do get shine coming through within a couple of hours, it doesn't seem to go patchy or fade, so I can touch up quite easily. The Pressed Powder isn't the best I've ever used and does kick up quite a bit of fall-out, but it does the job.
Above you can see the full effects once I've added the blusher and bronzer! The star of the show for me is the Blushed Cheeks Blusher in 'Pink Cloud', which has actually been one of my most-reached for blushers over the past few weeks since I received this little bundle. It's a lovely matte true pink shade which has just the right amount of pigmentation to add a pop of colour to the cheeks, without risking the clown-face look. It's the sort of shade that would suit pretty much anyone and I know I'll be getting a lot of use out of this - there are five other shades available and I'm sorely tempted to pick a couple up, having had 'Sugar Plum' in the past and loved it!
Finally, the Suntint Bronzing Powder in 'Golden Glow' is a bit on the shimmery side for me; as a bronzer virgin, I was very nervous about putting this on my face! For me, the shimmer is just a bit much, so I've been sticking to using this along the tops of my cheekbones where I'd usually put my highlight - I'm breaking myself in gently! Thankfully, it makes a pretty eyeshadow too, so I'll still be able to get plenty of use from it. Add in brows and mascara and I'm done.
All in all, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Natural Collection products I was sent; whilst the Tinted Moisturiser perhaps isn't the best suited to my oily skin, it does give a nice coverage and a lovely natural finish. I love the blusher I was sent and it's become a real summer staple for me, and although the bronzer is too shimmery for me to be really comfortable with it, I'll still be using it as a lovely warm eyeshadow shade. Have you tried any Natural Collection cosmetics? Are you getting glowing this summer?

[*Products provided for consideration.]

Monday, 6 June 2016

Ten Things I'd Rather Do Than The Things I Should Be Doing

Ah, procrastination. We've all been there... An essay deadline; a looming exam date; a tax return; passport renewal forms... Those Important Adult Things that are, put simply, not very interesting. And so you find yourself doing anything but the Important Adult Thing you're supposed to be doing. If you've never done this, please keep quiet, so as not to make the rest of us look bad. Here are ten things you'll find me doing when there's something important that I really need to get on with
[Photo credit Creative Convex. Edited by myself.]
01. Cleaning. I quite enjoy cleaning anyway but there's nothing like a form I'm meant to be filling in to make me want to hoover the stairs, wash my make-up brushes or re-organise my (somewhat excessive) collection of body butters!
02. Online shopping. My bank balance hates me for this, I'm sure, but somehow I always remember about that amazing cushion I'd saved in my wishlist when there's a time-sensitive task in hand.
03. Do (and then re-do) my make-up. There's nothing like a killer smokey eye and/or razor-sharp eyeliner flicks to motivate you to get shit done. But they have to be perfect. Obviously.
04. Applying for jobs. I know I need to get tomorrow's blog post scheduled, so now is clearly the ideal time to search for my dream job and get my application submitted.
05. Writing blog posts. There's a job I need to apply for or an interview I ought to prepare for, so I definitely need to write up my post for a week next Wednesday...
[Photo credit Creative Convex.]
06. Instagram. I've been trying to make more of an effort to interact on Instagram and comment on people's photos. It doesn't necessarily need to be done when there's something more important to get on with... But somehow that's the most appealing time!
07. Sleep. Ahhh, the procrastanap; a student favourite, I am not above avoiding adult responsibilities by sleeping! It may be almost three years since I finished my Masters, but I'm still mourning the loss of my student discount and I'm still woefully bad at mornings.
08. WhatsApping. You know when you suddenly realise you've not spoken to such and such a body in a few weeks? What better time to say hi and have a catch-up than when you really ought to be doing something productive with your time?!
09. Planning my lottery win. This is an important consideration! Obviously I'd pay off my student loans first, but what to do with what's left...?! What do I do first - holiday? Do my parents' house up for them? Buy a house of my own? I feel this may be a better use of my time if I actually played the lottery but that's neither here nor there.
10. Learn something new. There is an ideal time to learn how to do calligraphy, or count to ten in Italian, or make macarons. Obviously, that time is now.

What about you - are there any things you always find yourself doing when there's something you really should be doing? What are your favoured forms of procrastination? Let me know!

[*Post contains affiliate links.]

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Budget-Friendly Brow Products

[I just want to mention that I hit 1000 followers on Bloglovin' yesterday - I'm sure that doesn't seem like a lot to many people, but to me that's a huge milestone, so thank you!]
The current brow trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon, with ever-increasing numbers of ladies choosing to complement their natural brows by filling them in. Certainly, it's become an essential part of my routine, as I find that filling my brows in really helps to frame my features and bring my whole face together. I have a selection of products I like to use depending on how the mood takes me!
My favourite brow products are definitely pencils; I generally find them a lot easier to apply quickly and accurately. I posted about this Lacura at Aldi Brow Pencil a few weeks ago and have been loving it ever since; the built-in brow comb on the opposite end is so handy, and the shade match is just spot-on for me. I absolutely love the shade of this, too - the perfect cool-toned mid-brown! This was a Specialbuy product which means they're limited stock, but if you see them in stock, I'd definitely recommend grabbing it; this was a bargain buy at £1.99.
I was recently sent this Waterproof Eyebrow Pen* in shade 03 from Born Pretty (£1.40 here), which is hard to miss in its bright pink casing! It's definitely a pencil rather than a pen, but I really like the twist-up format which means no sharpening, and the flat shape of the lead makes for a really precise application. The shade of this one is just a little off for me, leaning ever so slightly too warm-toned, but it's definitely still workable and I doubt anyone apart from myself would notice!
On days when I'm happy to spend a little more time on my brows, Makeup Revolution's I ♥ Makeup Brow Kit in 'The Fairest Of Them All' (£2.99 here) includes two powder brow shades, a setting wax and a powder highlighter, alongside a little brush and set of tweezers. I've had this for ages now, hence the packaging looking a little worse for wear... I use the darker brow powder (which is the one swatched below!) with a very light hand, as it's just a little darker and warmer-toned than I'd like; unfortunately, the highlight is quite a bit darker than my skintone so that's pretty useless for me! The setting wax, brushed through brows after the powder, works well to keep them in place through the day.
Remember you can take 10% off store-wide at Born Pretty with my code 'JESSMK31'! What are your go-to brow products? Have you tried any of these?

[*Product provided for consideration.]
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