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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

In Retrospect | May 2017

It's been a funny old month, hasn't it, May? The last couple of weeks have been very quiet here and even over on social media - there's just been so much going on, and I haven't had the time, energy or inclination to sit down to blog, schedule tweets or even open my laptop at all some days. I've also been struggling with a major lack of inspiration for this little space, with no idea what to write even when I have felt motivated to sit down and write something... I'm sure we all know the frustration! I'm hoping that getting my monthly review post written and posted will help?! Any tips to overcome writer's block gratefully accepted...
May In Retrospect

May Empties.

I didn't think I'd done very well with the empties this month until I came to take these photos and actually there were loads more than I thought there was going to be - I think I finished a few early on in the month that I'd forgotten about!
May Beauty Empties
Will Repurchase: Swimovate PoolMate Swimmers' Shampoo | This smells lovely and coconutty, and works well to stop the chlorine in the pool damaging my hair now I'm swimming twice a week again. Winner. // Ojon Damage Reversing Thickening Spray | This smells gorgeous (you know those foamy banana sweets? Like those) and leaves my hair feeling soft, and with a bit more volume. Love it! // Kind Natured Coconut & Monoi Foaming Sugar Scrub | I cannot overstate how much I love this stuff! It smells incredible and works so well to exfoliate my arms and legs. I already have a couple more tubes... // Sure Maximum Protection Anti-Perspirant | I don't think we need to talk about how this is my favourite deodorant, I say it every time I finish one! I don't buy anything else now. // Super Facialist by Una Brennan Salicylic Acid Anti Blemish Purifying Cleansing Wash | Longest product name ever but also my favourite face wash ever, it works so well to balance my oily skin and keep blemishes at bay. I adore it.
Empties May 2017
Might Repurchase: Green People Scent-Free Shampoo* | This is a bit more than I would usually spend on shampoo, but I might buy it again if my eczema was having a particularly bad flare-up. // Garnier Matcha & Kaolin Purifying Face Mask | I'm not sure whether this did much for my skin but it was nice to use and, at £1 a sachet, there's a good chance I'll give it another go at some point! It was also a pleasing shade of bright green which is always a winner for me. // T-Zone Charcoal Nose Pore Strips* | I've not used any nose pore strips in ages but I was sent these recently and have been reminded how satisfying they are!
May 2017 Beauty Empties
Won't Repurchase: Real Techniques Deep Cleansing Brush Gel | I wanted to like this but I just felt it was over-priced and not that effective. I'll be sticking to my antibacterial handwash from now on, I think! // Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Lotion | I didn't dislike this but I didn't feel like it was anything special, and for upwards of £20 I'm definitely wanting special. It was nice to try it but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it again. // Natural World Argan Oil Hair Mask | Again, I didn't dislike this per se, but having used their Macadamia mask as well, I much prefer that one and, given the choice, would choose it over the Argan Oil one. // The Organic Pharmacy Double Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream | Another one - it's nice but not nice enough for me to justify the price tag.

May Samples.

I feel like it was a bit of a poor effort on my part this month, but two samples is better than no samples, right? Right?! In my defence, I've been working through the samples pretty solidly, so my options are dwindling... 
May Beauty Samples
Manuka Doctor ApiRefine Targeted Wrinkle Filler with Purified Bee Venom | I didn't really feel like this did much, although maybe I'd need to use it for more than a week or so to notice the effects? It's good in theory but seems quite expensive for a product I'm not even sure I like... | £14.99/15ml here // Origins Out Of Trouble 10 Minute Mask | I finished a full tube of this a while back and actually really missed having it in my stash; this sample reminded me how fab it is, and I've since repurhcased a full-size tube. It works so well to calm down my skin, reducing redness and the size of any active blemishes. | £25/100ml here.

May Goals.

Finish reading two books. Proud to say I smashed this one and am actually halfway through my third book of the month, which means I'm actually ahead of target for my goal of twelve books this year - whoop! I think this has largely been a side-effect of not blogging as much - I've found myself reaching for my book in the evenings rather than turning on my laptop, which has been nice.
See friends at least twice. Well, two of my friends had a little housewarming do in Sheffield, which was lovely, and I met a friend from Uni for a cheeky Nando's a classy and sophisticated lunch whilst I was there. I also squeezed in a fire on the beach one evening after work with a couple of friends, and a celebratory night at the pub.
Get sweet treats back to "treats" rather than daily snacks". I've not done very well here... Whoops! I just have a major sweet tooth and I'm not very good at limiting myself... I'm going to give this another go in June and hopefully do a bit better.
Get out on my bike at least once a week. May has been a beautiful month for the most part, which has made it pretty easy to get out on my bike for an hour or so in the evenings after work. I've started using Strava recently and I have to say, it's pretty addictive tracking my rides and seeing my times improve!
Get a place on the Clinical Psychology doctorate programme. I didn't think my interview had gone very well but obviously it wasn't as bad as I thought as, amazingly enough, I've been offered a place to start in September! I'm honestly thrilled and can't wait to get started; my contract at my current job runs until the end of July so it's looking like I'm going to have August off before starting in September on the course. I'm so excited!!!
So that leaves me on four out of five in May - I'll take that! Considering how much has been going on, I think I did pretty well.

May 2017 Sunset Sandside

May Loves.

I haven't been reading a lot of blogs, either, through May, but I did love Roxie's post on Tarte's gorgeous Maneater collection; the leopard-print packaging basically makes it my ideal collection and I love the look of the palette. Dorota's post on skincare for glowing skin was an interesting read and certainly gave me a few ideas for products to try when I get chance! First on my list will be The Ordinary's AHA/BHA Peeling Solution which sounds pretty incredible.
Here on The Indigo Hours, I shared my picks in building my own custom eyeshadow palette with Essence Cosmetics, and some thoughts on the eczema-friendly Scent-Free range of beauty products by Green People, so do check those out if you missed them!

May 2017 Sandside Cumbria

May In Summary.

I feel like I can't finish this post without mentioning the horrendous events in Manchester towards the end of this month; as a North-West girl through and through, it's been heartbreaking seeing events unfold and hearing about the beautiful people we've lost because of one person's incomprehensible actions. Manchester has done us proud in its response, though, and I think it's safe to say it'll take a lot more than that to keep the Mancs down. My heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones and I hope they are able to find some solace in the love and support that have been so forthcoming in the days since the attack.

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Review | Primark Silicone Make-Up Sponges

I've seen silicone beauty sponges popping up here, there and everywhere over the past few weeks; the next big thing in getting that flawless base we all crave, these slightly odd-looking make-up tools claim to blend your foundation without absorbing product. I'm sure we all know the frustration of half your foundation disappearing into a Beauty Blender or buffing brush, so when I spotted that Primark have launched their own version of the Silicone Sponges, I couldn't say no.
Primark Silicone Sponges
"The perfect tool to blend make-up without soaking up any product." The information on the packaging is brief and to-the-point - in fact, that's all they tell you. At just £2 for two sponges, these are super budget-friendly and unlike Beauty Blenders (and their dupes, like my beloved Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge), I don't see them disintegrating anytime soon - so if they work, I can see these being a pretty fab buy all round.
Primark Silicone Makeup Sponge
Unfortunately, I've been pretty disappointed with their performance - I'd definitely agree that the sponge doesn't absorb any product, but really that's the only good point for me! Rather than blending my foundation in for a flawless finish, the silicone sponge seems to kind of push it around on the surface of my skin (even using the tiniest amount of product) leaving it looking frankly awful - it sits weirdly over the open pores on my cheeks and doesn't give the kind of coverage I'm used to getting from a standard sponge or buffing brush. No amount of blending seems to help and my foundation just ends up looking mask-like and unnatural. I end up using a sponge or brush to buff the product in properly, which kind of seems to defeat the object?
I'm not sure how well you can tell in the photo below but this is just foundation "blended" onto my skin after moisturising, you can see the product sitting horribly over the pores around my nose and even out to the edge of my cheek.
Foundation applied with Primark Silicon Makeup Sponge
So overall I can't say I'm impressed with Primark's take on the Silicone Make-up Sponge, it's certainly not a tool I'd recommend and not one I'll be repurchasing. If you're really that keen on your application tools not absorbing any product I'd honestly suggest using your fingers - they'll give a better finish! Have you tried any silicone sponges - Primark or other brands? Do you have any tips for making them work? I'd love to hear about your experiences!


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

New From Essence Cosmetics | My Must-Haves

I popped into town at the weekend for a few bits and pieces, and whilst I was there I thought I'd just have a quick look at the Essence stand in Wilko's. It's not a huge store and the stand hadn't been updated with new products for ages so I wasn't too hopeful, but as it turned out I was glad I looked, as they've finally refreshed it and added some new lines! I was intrigued by the 'My Must Haves' range, which allows you to build your own eyeshadow palette from a selection of shades. I'm not sure when these launched, but I've not seen or heard anything about them so I'm guessing they're fairly new?!
Essence My Must-Haves Custom Palette
The palettes are available in four- and eight-space variants; I went for a quad as I was trying to be restrained! Looking online, it seems that there are lip, blusher, bronzer and powder pans available as well, but the stand in my local store only had the eyeshadows, so I chose four shades from the range. I tried to pick shades which would be cohesive and work well together, and that I would get plenty of wear from; my first choice was 'Chilli Vanilli', a matte cream shade which looked perfect for all over the lid and highlighting the browbone. Next I picked out 'Brownie'Licious', another matte shade but this time a cool-toned brown which I thought may work for filling in my brows, as well as on the lids. My third choice was 'All I Need' which is a pretty, shimmery gold/taupe - the perfect everyday shade. Finally I went for something a little bit more out-there, 'Raspberry Frosting' which is a bright, sparkly Barbie pink.
Essence My Must-Haves
Each shade came with its own little plastic pop-off lid, so if you didn't want to assemble these into a palette you could easily keep them as individual pans. They're super easy to fit into the palette, though - they literally just click in, and click back out again should you wish to change or rearrange them.
Essence My Must Haves - Chilli Vanilli, Brownie'Licious, All I Need, Raspberry Frosting
I've found that all four shades have a lovely soft formula, picking up pigment easily with a brush and translating well onto the eyelids. As I hoped, 'Chilli Vanilli' works really well as a browbone highlight, whilst 'Brownie'Licious' is pretty much perfect for filling in my brows, and also works well as a transition shade blended into the crease. Neither of the matte shades are chalky or powdery, as can often be an issue for mattes from budget lines. 'All I Need' isn't massively pigmented without a base, just adding a hint of shimmer, but with a primer under it it's really lovely. Similarly, 'Raspberry Frosting' needs a base for it to really shine, and I've not had chance to wear it properly yet as it's not the most work-appropriate of shades! I would point out, though, that it's not nearly as frosty in finish as it appeared; as soon as you've removed the overspray it's actually quite a wearable finish.
Essence My Must-Haves Swatches
The swatches above are all two swipes with no base - as you can see, they all give a lovely smooth colour, with the mattes being impressively pigmented, and the shimmers being pretty decent too. Even without a base, I've not had any problems with the shadows creasing - they've easily lasted ten hours on my oily lids, which I'm more than happy with.
Essence My Must-Haves Quad
All in all, I've been pretty impressed with Essence's My Must-Haves line; they're super-affordable and there's a decent range of shades to choose from, although I'm disappointed that my local Wilko's only has the eyeshadows and not any of the other products available. I was happy to discover how easy the pans are to pop in and out of the empty palette, and the shadows themselves have performed reasonably well. I have a feeling I'll be picking up a few more shades before too much longer! Have you tried anything from the My Must-Haves range? Do you like the idea of building your own palette?


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Green People Scent-Free Beauty for Sensitive Skin*

A few weeks back I was contacted by the lovely folks at Green People, who thought that their Scent-Free range* might work well for my sensitive, eczema-prone skin. They very kindly sent me over a couple of products to trial, so I've been using these in my routine for around three weeks now.
Green People Scent-Free Products
"Sensitive skin can be caused by an imbalance in your skin's sebum and moisture production. Your skin needs products that restore and strengthen the skin barrier to protect and soothe, providing moisture and reducing irritation. Our neutral products are free from any essential oils and drying alcohol. This silky smooth, deeply hydrating range contains a skin-matched complex of phyto actives to balance and calm. Ideal for sensitive skin and suitable for people with eczema and psoriasis."
Green People Scent Free Shampoo
The Green People Scent-Free Shampoo* has a jelly-like texture and, whilst I was expecting it to be colourless, it's actually a kind of yellowy-brown colour. I've found it's pretty easy to work through my hair and it lathers really well, especially for an SLS-free product. My hair is left feeling thoroughly clean, although I do find I need to follow it with a good conditioner. I've not had any flare-ups of my eczema whilst using the shampoo so I'd definitely agree that it's friendly for sensitive skins.
Green People Scent Free Hand & Body Lotion
The Green People Scent-Free Hand & Body Lotion*, meanwhile, comes in a handy pump bottle which I love, and the lotion itself is white in colour with a fairly runny consistency. It's easy to massage into the skin and sinks in quickly, leaving my skin feeling soothed and hydrated but without any sticky or greasy residue. Again, I've not had any eczema flare-ups whilst using the body lotion, and have found it works well to soothe any dryness or itchiness I may be suffering - particularly after shaving my legs!

The Scent-Free Hand & Body Lotion is priced at £18 for 150ml, whilst the Scent-Free Shampoo is £12.50 for 200ml, and is also available in a travel-friendly 30ml tube for £4; there are quite a few products in the Scent-Free range, so I'd suggest having a browse if you're interested! These products are a little more than I'd usually pay for shampoo or body lotion, however they have lived up to their claims of being suitable for sensitive skins, and I've found a little goes a long way with each of them, so if you struggle to find products which don't irritate your skin I'd say they're worth a shot! Have you ever tried any products from Green People?
Green People Scent-Free Range
[*Products provided for consideration. Post contains affiliate links.]

Thursday, 11 May 2017

New Additions To My Face Mask Stash

It's no secret that I love a good face mask; I try to squeeze one into my routine at least a couple of times per week, choosing my mask depending on how my skin is feeling at the time. Lately my skin has been particularly unhappy and I'm not really sure why - I've been suffering horrendous breakouts all over my face, whereas usually any spots I get are contained to a couple of areas. Whilst annoying, this skin meltdown was the perfect excuse to buy a couple of new masks!

...As if I needed an excuse!
Antipodes & Origins Face Masks
I've had my eye on the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask (currently on offer at £16.49/75ml) for the longest time; it claims to deeply cleanse the skin and leave it soothed and hydrated, which is pretty much what my skin needs at the moment! The antibacterial action of the Manuka Honey combined with the scent of Vanilla and Mandarin sound just gorgeous, I really can't wait to try this. I'm already a little bit in love with the tube!
New Face Mask Purchases
The Origins Out of Trouble Mask (£25/100ml), meanwhile, was a repurchase; I finished my old tube a few months ago and have been missing it in my routine as it really is brilliant at clearing up breakouts and calming down redness. I find that slapping this on a couple of nights in a row works absolute wonders for my skin and leaves it looking much clearer and generally healthier. It has quite a strong scent which isn't the most pleasant, but it's more than worth it in my book for the outcome. You can check out my full review of this one here.

What are your favourite face masks? Do you have any go-tos for when your skin is having a meltdown?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Friday, 5 May 2017

Recent Reads

A while ago now I shared my first two reads of 2017, and since I've now finished another two books (bringing me back on track with my target of 12 for the year, hooray!) I thought I'd share my thoughts on the latest additions to my Goodreads 'Read' Shelf!
Recent Reads May 2017
The Outrun | Amy Liptrot | ★★★★★
I'll confess I picked this up purely because I thought the front cover was gorgeous; I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover but in this instance, can you blame me!? I honestly didn't even read the blurb so I had no idea what to expect, but I ended up being very pleasantly surprised at how the book unfolded. It's written from the author's perspective, detailing her journey from a life of alcoholism in London, to moving back to her childhood home on the island of Orkney in the Scottish Islands. I found the writing style just beautiful; it's that kind of poetic prose that really speaks to me and I loved reading it. I'll definitely be looking out for more of Amy Liptrot's work.
"We are mirror images, both at the edge of our worlds."

My Son's Not Rainman | John Williams | ★★★★★
This was an impulse order, despite already having a teetering heap of books I've not yet read; I stumbled across John Williams's blog, My Son's Not Rainman, and discovered he'd written a book by the same name. It's the tale of a young boy, referred to throughout the book as The Boy, and his Dad, the narrator. The Boy is autistic, and the story takes the reader on a whistle-stop story of what life is like for the two of them - from the highs of 3-D screenings of Dr Who, to the lows being turned away from school after school. It's a book I found hilarious and heartbreaking in approximately equal measure - it's a life that is so difficult to imagine and, as Williams so rightly points out, it's not a story about autism, it's a story about a boy who happens to have autism, but nonetheless I found it really insightful.
Recent Reads
I'm not sure what to read next but I have a few books on my reading list to choose from... I think I need to go with something fairly easy-going to keep myself on track for my goal! What are you reading at the moment? Have you read either of these?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Hello May!

May. May! It is literally beyond me where this year is going!! I can't believe it's already time for me to share my goals for the month that always feels like the beginning of summer - in spirit, if not in weather! I don't know about you but I'm definitely ready for long, warm evenings, pub beer gardens and flip-flops...
Hello May
Finish reading two books. I struggled with this one last month so I'm hoping to dedicate a little more time to reading this month - if I manage to finish two books by the end of May, I'll be back on track for my goals of twelve books this year... I'm halfway through My Son's Not Rainman by John Williams, which I'm really enjoying, though I'm not sure what to read next. I have a few on my reading list for the year so I may just pick at random!
See friends at least twice. This shouldn't be too hard as my friends are having a housewarming party mid-month so one box is already ticked! I'm really looking forward to seeing their new home and having a good catch-up with everyone.
Get sweet treats back to "treats" rather than "daily snacks". I've gone a bit mad since the end of Lent and have been eating actual ridiculous quantities of chocolate, cake and goodness knows what else. I've noticed my skin has got really bad around the same time, so I have a sneaking suspicion the two are linked... Time to cut back and hopefully make my eating habits a little healthier - starting with taking fruit to work and actually eating it, instead of ignoring it in favour of the office biscuits...
Get out on my bike at least once a week. I'm hoping for some decent weather to make this possible but I'll be happy with an average of once a week, so 4-5 times over the month... They don't have to be hugely long rides, around 15-20 miles is enough for me as that's a good hour to an hour and a half. We've all got to start somewhere, right!?
And finally... less of a goal and more of a hope, really:
Get a place on the Clinical Psychology doctorate programme. I've got my interview in a couple of weeks and I'm really not sure how to feel about it - I wasn't expecting to get any interviews this year as it was my first time applying, so part of me feels like anything additional is just a bonus - but on the other hand, of course, I'd love to be successful! All I can really do though is make sure I'm as prepared as possible and give it my best shot - fingers crossed!!

Aside from my interview and the housewarming party, I'm going to see John Bishop with my Mum towards the end of the month, which I'm really looking forwards to - I've seen him before and he's hilarious, so that should be a good night!
What have you got planned for May? I've love to hear about any goals you're setting yourself for the month!

[Post contains affiliate links.]
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