30 August 2013

New REN Rosa Centifolia & Vita Mineral Lines

If you loved the REN All Skin Types and Normal Range, you're in for a treat. REN are launching two new lines which both incorporates and replaces the aforementioned ranges - Vita Mineral and Rosa Centifolia respectively.

The Vita Mineral line has five products which are all aimed at hydrating, nourishing and replenishing the skin. Like a traditional skincare line, it has a range of products - the Emollient Rescue Cream and the Daily Supplement Moisturising Cream, which are both moisturisers, but the former seems slightly more intense, and the latter more a day cream. It also has a Lip Balm, an Active 7 Eye Gel and a Omega 3 Optimum Skin Serum Oil.

I currently hold the Daily Supplement Moisturising Cream, and the first thing I noticed is the smell - a fan of the Moroccan Rose Otto body products (post here) from REN? You'll love these as it smells exactly the same! I'll keep you updated how I find the product in the long run.

The Rose Centifolia line, on the other hand, is quite untraditional in that it's a series of six cleansing products - the No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm, Foaming Cleanser, 3-in-1 Cleansing Water, Express Make-Up Remover, Cleansing Gel and the Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser. I absolutely love how they've created a line, all with the purpose of cleansing, soothing and purifying, but in different formulas! How clever is that? I'm personally more of a cleansing water and gel face wash person, so quite excited by the sound of those two!

I was surprised also at the prices of these two lines, which ranges from £9 for the lip balm, £13-15 for most cleansers to £23 for the cleansing balm and the serum oil. Is it just me or is this slightly cheaper than past REN products?

I personally love the REN ethos of focusing on the needs of the consumer and am super excited for these two new lines - REN generally seems to be a blogger favourite anyway! If you've never tried a REN product, I highly recommend it. My favourite is the aforementioned Ultra Moisture Day Cream :)

You can see the launched products on REN's website, and they're available in John Lewis, M&S Beauty Halls and other places!

What's your favourite REN product?
What do you reckon about the new lines?

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My New Day & Night Beauty Set Up

Since finishing my exams, I've been trying to be productive with my 1 month off - mission 1 was cleaning out the flat! Since we moved in, it's been one after another of issues here and there, so we never really quite got to sorting out everything exactly as we wanted it. Until now, I've been doing my make-up and skincare on the top of a tall chest of drawers, and it was getting a bit tiring and unsettled - I wanted to go back to enjoying the process as I did last year, when I would sit on the floor in front of my £20 Argos shelf! So I decided to roll up my sleeves and clear out the spare room and my bedside table to create a little something like this..


The spare room has turned into a kind of dressing room. In this dressing room, we've got a wardrobe for Ben's suits, ties and shirts and an ironing board for him to get dressed in the morning, and I'm contemplating moving both our perfumes etc., in there too. For me, I've got my desk where I'll do my coursework and of course.. the make-up and skincare :)


I'm not one to chill out in bed - I tend to bury myself in the corner of our couch before retiring. But I thought perhaps making nighttime skincare a bedtime thing might make it more relaxing! I dug out a old Glossybox lid, turned it upside down and voila ;)

How do you arrange your beauty routine? :)

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29 August 2013

Let's Talk Masks

I'm just not a mask person. I'm not quite sure why, maybe because I find them to be just a bit of a faff to  continue to use two or three times a week, and a lot of them I find just have short-term effects that last for the next day, if not shorter. Either way, after I've faced this fact (1. that I'm lazy and 2. that this laziness means I'll only get short-term effects) I've accumulated a few, and thought I'd give a bit of an overview of the masks - of course, keeping in mind that I find them to be temporary fixes ;)

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask
Heard enough raving about this one? I bet you have. I think this stuff is good but I did have a bit of a struggle figuring it out. First, I found out that I can't just micellar water my face - I found a thorough oil cleanse was necessary. Then I learnt that because my skin is a little tougher than most, I need to leave it on for about 30min. Only then did I see the results.

What were those results? Smooth skin, absolutely and I put my hands up for that. Sometimes I do prefer this to my harsh LUSH Ocean Salt Scrub because it's probably gentler. And with continued, frequent use (when I did persist!), I did see a bit of a lightening of my acne scarring. I was quite impressed but I also noticed that if I don't use it for a while my scars come back.. so I'm not sure if it just gives a temporary glow.. I generally use this if I have a big day the next day, or if I know I'll want to wear a tinted moisturiser to give myself smooth, glowy skin :).

Elemis Mask Duo
Now this set, I haven't shut up about and is definitely my favourite mask out of the lot. I'll redirect you here.

ClaySpray Mattifying Red Clay Mask
I was surprisingly impressed by this one - it's not actually a spray, it's more like a pump but you apply it on a damp face and wow.. it's a DREAM to apply! Which makes me want to try out some of their other masks, because they have ones for other skintypes. As a clay-based mask you can expect to turn into a rigid statue after a bit, but washing it off was the easiest a clay mask has been.

Now I don't really suffer from too bad of an oily skin, but I do get some down my t-zone so I applied it only on that area. My skin felt so clean and just.. detoxed, without being dehydrated! I really liked this for when I'm getting a bit spotty and oily, I find it kind of resets the skin and gives you a clean slate to infuse all your usual skincare with.

Amie Spring Clean Cooling Clay Mask
Now I've never had a real desire to cool my skin, especially in the evenings when I'd be masking it up, but I gave this mask a go. And yes I can report that it is DEFINITELY cooling, and the mint makes it really refreshing and great after a long day! Wowee!

In terms of the skincare effects though, I didn't notice too much. I found my skin to be left a little bit tight for my combination skin, so I'd recommend this more for the oily skinned. I may give it a go, like with ClaySpray, when I'm feeling more oily and spotty for a clean slate. However, with the cooling effects I did think my pores looked slightly less visible - so for those with pore-related concerns, this is one to try!

So yes, you can probably tell that I'm not a 100% mask girl. I like the short term burst of whatever that you get from each respective masks, but I prefer focusing on the long-term effects that a good skincare routine can give you. That being said, I do love a bit of a pamper now and again, which is why these four have been intermittently called from the cupboards and slapped on for a bit of me-time!

What's your favourite mask?

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22 August 2013

Make Up Designory (MUD) Enters the UK

There's a new brand on the block here in the UK, and the latest brand to cross the pond is Make-Up Designory, or MUD.

MUD is a leading American make-up school started by professional make-up artists, who carried on to create their own cosmetics in order to teach their students. As you'd imagine, the products are made with make-up artists in mind. With a distinct edge and a wide colour palette, this brand may wet the appetites of even the commercial make-up users like myself :)

Gorgeous imagery much?

Everything about MUD is made with the needs of a make-up artist in mind. I noticed a certain flourescent orange cream in the correctors section.. apparently it's for correcting dark brown? And the mascaras also come in a tube, which means you can squeeze out the product and dip in disposable mascara wands. Now I'm not a make-up artist, but if it's anything like foundations with pumps, or eyeshadow palettes with mirrors for us commercial users, MUD deserves at least a pat on the back for being so considerate ;)

So the unique thing that caught my eye about this brand was that everything is silicone based. Yes we hear a lot of, "Ooo it has silicone in it, it's probably bad!" but I've never actually ever been told why.. except for in haircare when it covers your hair and makes it more difficult to dye.. I digress.

Because all the products have this similar base, not only do most of the products blend like a dream, they can all be mixed - liquids, powders, creams, you name it! It's any artist's dream come true. You may be thinking they only have 12 lipstick shades, but people from MUD would tell you otherwise :)

As with any brand though, there was something that slipped through the net. I noticed that one or two of the eyeshadow shades were quite bitty. I noticed this of a particular navy which I can't remember the name of, but most of them reminded me of the Veluxe Pearl finishes by MAC, but softer.. luscious, buttery and gorgeois. Speaking of MAC, MUD also has a customisable or pre-made palettes which are great for make-up artists and make-up lovers alike.

Here are the swatches of the products I received to try out - you see the bronzer in Sunshine, eyeshadow in Bronzed, blush in Bubblegum, lipliner in Maple, lipstick in Just Peachy and lip glaze in Spicy. All these products are crazy pigmented and blend like a dream. I brushed on some Sunshine for my bronzer this morning and with hardly any blending, it was seamless and soft!

The pricing of these products are mid-market with the lipsticks coming in at £15.50 and foundation compacts at £28.50.

The full range is stocked exclusively at Precious About Make Up in the UK.

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20 August 2013

My Go-To Eyeshadow Combos

Do I have enough neutral eyeshadows? Never.

I love neutral eyeshadows and that's usually what I wear day-to-day (which is usually what I tell myself when I want to buy some more!). I do experiment with different neutrals here and there, and my newest acquisition is my first attempt into colours! But when the days are busy or I'm feeling especially uncreative, there are fool-proof eyeshadow combos that I always turn to.

The combos are usually a mix of the follow well-loved palettes and single shadows..

in All That Glitters, Brule, Naked Lunch, Satin Taupe and Mulch

Now I didn't think this through when I was swatching so stay with me here..

Chanel Prelude
Is the three shades you see at the top left - the champagne, the faint grey taupe and the dark grey. These help to make a wearable day-time smokey eye that's cool and not too brown-based. The formula of these is very light - they're not solid pigments like MAC but rather more of a wash. They don't have that creaminess like most eyeshadows, but because they are such a finely milled and light baked powder, they blend into each other like a dream. Because of the weight I think it stays on better than most eyeshadows, maybe because there's less powder to primer ratio? Not sure. But I wouldn't hesitate to buy another quad if there was another one I fancied, the quality is great!

MAC Naked Lunch and Urban Decay Buck
Next to Chanel is my spring-time eyeshadow look, and adds a bit of a glow to an otherwise incredibly natural, and defining look. Naked Lunch is a baby peach/pink frost, and Buck is a matte light-medium brown. Buck gives this look a bit more of a defining look than Naked (see below).

MAC make great eyeshadows. They are decently priced, simply packaged and have a very wide range of colours indeed. They're probably the most consumer-friendly of the lot. The quality is decent, the pigmentation is usually great and they're just that bit smoother than most drugstore shades and last a lot longer. Do they match Chanel in terms of the perks? No. But if you want good quality, long-lasting eyeshadows, then these are the ones to go for.

The Urban Decay Naked Palette has its praises and criticisms sung from all corners of the globe over the years since its launch. I personally adore it - I think its a great collection of eyeshadows and the utility of the palette is fantastic. In terms of formula, I think its incredibly similar to MAC. So everything I said above applies here.. just in a pre-made formula and for much cheaper than MAC.

MAC All That Glitters and Mulch
Below Chanel is my most recent go-to look that I wore most of July. You can see it action here in my latest video. It makes brown eyes pop as well as add a bit of a smokey touch to a neutral look. All That Glitters is a peach pearl that catches the light like crazy, and Mulch is a cool-toned, slightly pink-based medium brown with a bit of pearl.

MAC Brule and Urban Decay Naked
Next to All That Glitters and Mulch is my winter-time look. It's as simple as you can get - Brule, a matte cream that's slightly lighter than your skintone, and Naked, a matte brown that is slightly darker than your skintone, in the crease to define your socket. With a slick of eyeliner, this eyeshadow look can be stunning!

Sephora Taupe and MAC Satin Taupe
Tucked away to the right is the darker eye duo. As you can tell from the above, I tend to use a light shade on my eyelid but Sephora's Taupe is probably the only medium shade exception! It's a gorgeous cool-toned purply taupe that is so smooth and lasts an age. Especially being a pencil-based product, it's so easy to apply and blend, and an absolute no-brainer. I can't recommend these enough if you can get your hands on them (full review here). With Satin Taupe in the crease (which looks quite brown next to Taupe), it's a gorgeous subtle medium-toned everyday look.

All these eyeshadows are superb quality and have lasted me a really long time. My favourite formula is probably the MAC ones - I just find them very creamy, blendable and pigmented. However, I've recently been quite impressed with my new NARS palette - they look freshly applied for a good 8 hours, which is something MAC hasn't been able to do for me.

Anyway, those are my most used eyeshadows and my go-to eyeshadow combos.
What eyeshadows are your foolproof options?

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19 August 2013

Visit! The bareMinerals Go Bare UK & Ireland Tour

After its success in America, the bareMinerals' Go Bare Tour will be arriving in Scotland, kicking off the UK and Ireland tour happening from August until October.

The Go Bare Tour is focused on giving what every woman wants from a foundation - the flawless yet no make-up look. The event is set to give you the opportunity to watch demonstrations, receive application tips, get shade-matched by experts and score some deluxe samples. It promises to be quite a fun event, as the presentations are planned to be in a theatre shaped like a life-sized Original Foundation lid!

I've spoken about bareMinerals a few times on the blog (see posts here), but I think it's one of those brands like MAC, that everyone should try at some point - it has such a cult and loyal following, that it's worth seeing if their stuff works for you. Personally, I've loved the Matte foundation for a great coverage yet a non-cakey soft-matte finish, and I love that they leave out a lot of the nasties you can find in make-up.

Unfortunately, they seem to be focusing only on the Original and Ready formulas, but I've heard great things about the Original of course so I'd say it's still worth checking out! Their eyeshadows and primers also have a crazy following - the primer I can definitely vouch for!

The scheduled dates and location are as follows:

St. Enoch, Glasgow
29th August - 1st September

St. Davids, Cardiff
31st August - 1st September

Trafford Centre, Manchester
5th September - 8th September

Cribs Causeway, Bristol
5th September - 8th September

Eldon Square, Newcastle
12th September - 15th September

Brent Cross, London
14th September - 15th September

Westfield, London
20th September - 22nd September

Bull Ring, Birmingham
21st September - 22nd September

Westfield Stratford City, London
27th September - 29th September

Meadowhall, Sheffield
28th September - 29th September

Bluewater, Kent
4th October - 6th October

Metrocentre, Newcastle
5th October - 6th October

Lakeside, Essex
12th October - 12th October

White Rose Centre, Leeds
17th October - 20th October

Liffey Valley, Dublin
17th October - 20th October

CastleCourt, Belfast
24th October - 27th October

Will you be attending the Go Bare tour?
You can follow the team with insider updates on @baremineralsUK and #GOBAREUK.

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18 August 2013

Blog Sale!

It's time for a clear out at my flat, so here's a blog sale!

Paypal only; UK only.
P&P is £2.60 for the first 3 products and +50p after that.
No refunds.

Please leave a comment below with what you want and your PayPal email.

Feel free to ask for more information :)

Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Foundation in 3 - 80% left - £16 
Dior Diorskin Forever in 020 - 90% left - £20
Revlon Colorstay (Oily/Combo) 180 Sand - 50% left - £3
Bourjois Healthymix Serum Foundation in 55 - 70% left - £3

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC30 - 70% left - £8
Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair - used 2x - £1
Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer in 040 Soft Beige - used 2x - £2

The Body Shop Foundation Brush - good condition - £3
No7 Foundation Brush - good condition - £3
Eco Tools Angled Brush - good condition - £2
BareMinerals Travel Sized Full Flawless Face Brush - £2

MAC Watch Me Simmer Lipstick (LE) - usage as shown - £9
Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in Asia - usage as shown - £1
Estee Lauder Pure Colour Lipstick in Coral Sun - usage as shown - £8
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Pink Pop - 70% left - £3

Mascara samples - £1 each, each used once or twice.

Lancome Hypnose Star
Clinique High Impact Mascara
Estee Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara

Dior Diorkiss Lipgloss in Praline 318 - £4

No7 Beautiful Brows Pencil in 05 Black - usage as shown - £3

Yves Rocher Coconut Shower Gel - never used - £2
The Body Shop Hemp Hand Cream - usage as shown - £1
Eve Lom Kiss Mix - used 2x - £5
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hr Cream - 80% left - £6
Origins GinZing Sample - used 2x - £1
The Body Shop Oceanus - £2

James Brown Volume Boost Shampoo & Conditioner - £4 for both

Babyliss Hair Straighteners - works perfectly fine - £10

NIVEA Pure & Natural Powder with Organic Green Tea for Sensitive Skin in Caramel 07 - £2
NIVEA Blush Duo in Rose - 80% left - £2
17 Blusher in Brickie - £1

Milani Baked Blush in Rose D'Oro - swatched once - £6
Stila Convertible Color in Rose - used a few times - £9
Laura Mercier Secret Concealer 02 - 70% left - £6
Jemma Kidd Instant Lift Perfecting Primer Sample - never used - £1

NARS Taiga Eyeshadow - usage as shown - £15
Maybelline Hyper Diamond Shadow in WN-1 - used x2 - £2
Rimmel Glam Eyes Quad in 002 Smokey Brun - used x5 - £2

Happy shopping! :)

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17 August 2013

Visit! The Konjac Sponge Pop-Up Shop

Next week, the Konjac Sponge Company will be opening a pop-up shop in central London.

If you remember, a year or so ago, I had a sponge-crazy phase, of which the Konjac Sponge was a part of so I'm quite excited to see what I make of it, and have it back in my routine since my vision of what skincare has changed a lot since then! 

The Konjac Sponge is a sponge made of a root vegetable from Japan (which by the way is super yummy and healthy!), and is steamed and baked into these cute little sponges. Each sponge has mixed in a different ingredient, so they're made for all different skintypes. The one you see above is the one I had, the green clay one for normal to oily skin. There are also a few others:

Original Sponge
Bamboo Charcoal: for oily/acne-prone skin
French Red Clay: for dry/sensitive skin
French Green Clay: for normal/oily skin
French Pink Clay: for tired/devitalised skin

They all retail for £6.99, and they also have body sponges for £9.99 that help with ingrown hairs and blemishes, and a supersize for £11.99 for a deep cleanse scrub. They've also created a sports sponge with a travel sponge for gym sessions for £11.99.

The thing that sets the sponges apart is that it's so soft and gentle, yet it also exfoliates which means you can use it under your eyes and also without a cleanser. It also has a massaging effect that drains the excess fluid that may cause puffiness.

For the eco-warriors out there, the sponge is also completely biodegradable and can be buried in the ground after it's had its use!

Curious? Be sure to attend the Konjac Sponge Company's pop-up shop in London, where you can talk to specialists and pick up a sponge of your own.

Where: 10A Blandford Street, Marylebone, London W1U 4AZ
When: 20th - 24th August 2013

Chat with them on Twitter for more info :)

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Stressful Times Survival Kit

Everyone goes through stressful times, and in those times beauty is often the last thing you think about - or it's the thing you push to the back of your mind so you can focus on what's causing the stress. For me, that was the seven 3-hour exams I had in the space of 9 days - one everyday, with two days in between. It was mental!

But I tried to make the effort to take time out to relax - and beauty played a big part in that (as did shopping and food, unfortunately). There were three products that made me especially relaxed, so I thought I'd show you a stripped back version of my 'stressful times survival kit'. Of course these products are good for a weekend pampering or a mid-week quicky! ;)

St. Tropez Gradual Tan Plus Firming Lotion
I'm not a massive tanner, and I much prefer just applying a gradual tan lotion after my showers. I like this St. Tropez one for several reasons - the first one is the smell. It has this gingery smell that I find really relaxing, but it also sinks in quickly which means you're not sitting around waiting for ages, and really moisturises from within as opposed to just emoliating the surface. Why is this part of my kit aside from the smell? The colour is a really nice natural tan with no real hint of orange, but it's also super super subtle - it's almost like a tinted moisturiser for your body that just evens out the tone. Nothing too OTT and just very classy and simple :)

Bodhi Mint The Temple Balm
I applied this pretty much everyday before bed, and it would instantly make me sigh with relief and want to snuggle up to my pillow. It smells kind of like Tiger Balm, and while you'd think mint would wake you up, it made me feel very relaxed and cozy. It's a little strong so you have to apply sparingly and hope to keep your eyes closed rather than open, but it's like a sudden wave of relief - a must have for those who struggle to slow down the cogs in the evenings.

REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil
I don't think I took as many baths as I did in those 9 days - it's the perfect way to truly switch off for half an hour and do absolutely nothing but soak. My favourite soak during this time was this one from REN. One of the reasons was because of the scent - the genuine and pure Moroccan rose scent is beyond words and so calming! (You guys might know I cannot stand synthetic roses!) The oil also dissolves into the bath and leaves your skin incredibly supple with a very subtle waft of the smell that keeps you calmer for that little longer :)

My proof as to how well these products work?
I'm living proof, right? :)

What do you use to calm down?

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16 August 2013

'What's On My Face?' Video

When I Google make-up products, I often look at the 'Images' section because I like looking at photos of products in action - and I'm sure I'm not the only one! Packaging and how a product looks is always fun but at the end of the day, you wanna see how it works. So I decided to make a video talking through the products that I have on my face that day - kind of like a series of mini reviews of products I've been wearing a lot.


If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I've just finished a hellish 9 days of daily exams - woo! So for the next month at least, I hope to be blogging and YouTubing to my heart's content! If you have any requests or had any requests that I have yet to fulfill please let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to get them done while I can :)

Thanks for your patience guys, and I hope you like the new video!

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8 August 2013

NARS Fairy's Kiss Eyeshadow Palette Fall 2013

I want to start this post off with an apology - I am sorry I have not stopped banging on about this on Twitter and Instagram, but when a beauty blogger's got an obsession, she's got an obsession.

I've been looking for a purple-based palette mixed in with neutrals for ages now and along came NARS Fairy's Kiss which I finally got my hands on today.. oh and is she a babe :) Since I missed out on Pleasures of Paris (it still hurts to say its name!), I was adamant that I get this!

NARS Fairy's Kiss Eyeshadow Palette
The Collection
This is part of NARS's Fall 2013 Gifting Collection, and has been released alongside one other palette called Ride Up to the Moon which is much warmer, but has two lovely dark green shades thrown in (which I was super tempted by!). So far I've seen it on the NARS website, but I ordered mine through House of Fraser where you can pick up products at a store the very next day - very good stuff!

The Shades
I absolutely love the balance of neutrals and wearable lavendars and purples. It seems like a great day to night palette where you can use the black and dark grey as an eyeliner as well. Actually when you swatch it it's not as purple as the whole thing looks! I'd say there's really only one lavendar, and one purple-tinged taupe! The rest are nudes and neutrals. The shades are as follows, clockwise from the top left:


You may recognise some of the names, and that's because some of them are existing shades. I've always had my eye on Tokyo (the name definitely had nothing to do with it.. or everything), and loved the look of Kalahari so this was super exciting!

Monosque, Kalahari, Brousse, Tokyo
(that pink is a Dior blush I was swatching.. please ignore..), Brumes, Pandora

As you can see the colours are all gorgeous and I genuinely feel like every colour could work with any other colour, which to me shows the utility of the palette! And the formula is really nice. So far, I've only swatched it but I felt Monosque, Kalahari and Brousse were really soft and creamy, and Brumes and Pandora had that dry yet crazy pigmented feel that some NARS eyeshadows have. Tokyo reminded me of my Dogon palette - shimmery, soft and very blendable but made to be used as a wash of colour.

My only gripe?
The size.. it's freaking tiny! I heard this here and there when God Created A Woman came out, but I didn't imagine it'd be this small. It's not so much the size of the palette itself that bothers me, but the size of the eyeshadows - they're pretty much as big as the first section of my forefinger. I also think the space between them is very deceptive - in real life, the black bits seem much larger.

The palette next to a blush.

So there's the sneak peek and initial thoughts!

Do I love it? I really do. I really grapple over palettes because I want one where I love every single shade and feel like I can get a lot of use out of it. So it's nice when you find something like this!

What are your thoughts on Fairy's Kiss?

What's your favourite eyeshadow palette?

NARS Fairy's Kiss is available from House of Fraser for £32.50.

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4 August 2013

My Handbag Army

Sometimes, I carry around a make-up bag. But most of the time, I've got an army of beauty products swimming about the bottom of my handbag, on-call for any make-up emergency I could possibly throw at them. They're usually along the lines of lipbalms and powders, but depending on my lifestyle, new products and formulas pop in and out of the line-up..

Dior Powder Foundation Brush
A great and gorgeous buffer brush, it's not the softest thing in the world but it delivers coverage like no other. It's great for not only getting rid of shine by patting on powder, it's also great for redoing foundation by buffing in!

Sheer Cover Concealer
This duo has a pink-toned and a yellow-toned concealer which makes it a great product for topping up both undereye and blemish concealers. It's currently a wee bit light for me, but the formula has great coverage, blendability and hydration which makes it ideal for on-the-go touch ups.

I love the packaging of this for quick mirror checks, but I also love the formula because it's a good foundation-like powder and a setting powder. It's also quite affordable, so it wont be the end of the world if it shatters!

My favourite lip balm of the newly launched range, this has a refreshing lemon and basil scent as well as a nice, moisturising formula! It's also quite cute-looking AND bright enough so it's easy to find it in the darkness of your pitless handbag ;)

Miss Dior Eau de Parfum
An item that's been on my wishlist for what seems like forever, I received this as a sample and have been using it sparingly since. But recently I just can't get enough of it and have been carrying it around!

MAC Warm Me Up & Chanel Lipgloss in 146 Coral Love
I don't use these two too much recently, mainly because I've been a pretty lipbalm-centric recently with the heat absolutely choking the life out of me! But they are two great colours to have in your handbag - a 'my lips but better' shade and a brightening, nourishing lipgloss that doubles as a lip treatment.

What products are currently swimming in everyone's handbags?
*Partnered post with New Look
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3 August 2013

How I Got Rid of Under-the-Skin Acne

Two years ago, you'd find me religiously - and I mean, RELIGIOUSLY, using a mask once a week, exfoliating twice a week, never EVER sleeping with make-up on, and every morning and night - removing make up, face washing, toning and moisturising. Yet, my face looked like a 12 year old's and constantly covered with at least one or two massive painful bumps as well as regular spots here and there.

These spots were under the skin, and MOUNDS, not bumps. They never turned into whiteheads, they weren't always red, they just stayed there, being incredibly, incredibly painful. There were two things that worked to control them - one was fish oil tablets, which I was impressed by, but I'm so forgetful and I didn't want to have to buy fish oil for the rest of my life! I'd much rather buy skincare products for the rest of my life, haha!

Everywhere you look online, you're told that spots are because you're dirty, and you become obsessed with this vigorous cleansing. However, the truth is that a lot of the times it's not, and people have different causes for their spots and go about treating their spot problems differently.

Eventually after trial and error and nudges in the right direction from a certain Caroline and my facialist, I arrived at the conclusion that my skin was dehydrated. Completely unaware that this was related to my spots, I slowly started injecting my skin with hydration (not moisture! Moisture is for the surface of your skin to soften dry patches etc., - I'm talking deep skin hydration!), and realised that my spots were going away..

I thought this would be worth writing about, because I can't imagine it's too uncommon that someone gets these angry big spots and they think they need to clean more and strip their skin of oil - there's a common phrase of "drying them out" that is apparently completely inaccurate.

Anyway, I wanted to write about some products that really changed my skin. Everyone's skin is different, and this is only my story of how common perceptions of acne didn't help me at all and it may not work for you. In case you're stuck in a similar rut, here are the products I used to feel slightly more normal.. you know, being able to skive and use micellar water, and then not waking up wondering if Mt. Everest has migrated onto my chin..

Again, I want to emphasize the difference between moisturising and hydrating products - the former is more for dry skins, and the latter for dehydrated. I don't quite believe that many drugstore products have used enough good quality ingredients to have that technology of delivering hydration to the depth of your skin, so many of my products are high end, but as you can imagine, I've found them to be totally worth it. I also found hydrating products aren't always the richest or thickest products - in fact, they're often more water/gel based.

Anyway, here are the selection of products that I use today on a regular basis to keep up my skin's hydration - the four that I started off with and kick-started my war against big painful acne are marked with a *.

Currently trialling this and finding this to be a good alternative to a hydrating serum - not the best, but it seemed to do the job when I was without a hydrating serum and incurred massive, painful spots. Full story below ;)

Nuxe Gentle Toning Lotion
My replacement for the 3 Roses toner mentioned below, this is a soft, hydrating and nourishing toner.

REN Ultra Moisturising Day Cream*
My favourite moisturiser EVER, this thing makes sure I don't get oily during the day by delivering hydration. It also has enough viscosity to smooth over dry spots.

AHAVA Time to Clear Refreshing Cleansing Gel
A gel-based face wash that's really refreshing and helps to balance your skin with hydration.

NUXE Lotion Tonique aux 3 Roses*
Such a hydrating and refreshing toner, I wish they had this in the UK! It's gorgeous and I can't wait to get another bottle the next time I'm in France!

Elemis FreshSkin Peachy Perfect Face Wash*
An affordable, gel-based face wash that is super easy to use, refreshing and helped to hydrate but cleanse well.

Origins Vitazing
Better for days where my cheeks are dryer than usual, but this also provides good hydration that keeps me from being oily.

Dr. Jart+ Water Up Serum*
Perhaps the product that made the biggest difference to my spots - this stuff hydrates like CRAZY. I drifted to Hydraluron after I finished this, but I'm going straight back to this afterwards!

YON-KA Lotion
My morning toner, this is more refreshing and herbal than my NUXE Gentle Toning Lotion and has a healing effect in addition to hydrating which is great for my dry patches and regular spots.

Bodhi Desert Rose
My face oil of choice, this is for nights when my skin is feeling DEAD. This injects hydration, has the most relaxing smell and is just a bundle of joy for tired, dehydrated skin <3

Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser
This isn't pictured above. It's a great face wash in the sense that it got rid of my spots - but I also know it's also a really harsh product where you'll have to restore moisture to your skin otherwise. So I haven't repurchased it but I thought I'd mention it as it works quicker and better than the gel face washes above, and it's most definitely not hydrating!

I didn't go out and buy all these at once - I started with a hydrating toner and having realised the great effects it was having, I continued to buy hydrating products instead of oil-controlling ones. You might also notice that a lot of these products are from brands that don't use nasties - that's just what I prefer, and have found works well on my skin.

 My fantastic four ;)

As you can probably tell, delivering hydration not only made these mounds go away - they also controlled my oil. So these days I can wear tinted moisturisers and dewy foundations without really worrying about it sliding off my face. Sure I've got to be careful, but it's nowhere near as messy as it used to be. It's great not to be limited to the matte, powder-based foundations!

You can also probably tell that I use the word 'balance' a lot, and still don't quite use cleansing balms or rich moisturisers - that's because at the end of the day, I'm still combination skinned, although normal-combo rather than oily-combo, and have a slight oily tendency down my t-zone.. however, it's nothing compared to what I used to be - I atleast don't have to blot every 2 hours anymore! I do keep a tub of the Organic Pharmacy Carrot Cleansing Butter in my cupboard for the winter months :)

Although I still get spots, they're never these mounds of pain that I used to endure constantly. They're small bumps that stay for a day or two, that I imagine is from my unhealthy intake of alcohol and fatty foods, with a dose of stress for good measure. But they're nothing compared to those big boys.

Interestingly enough, when my Dr. Jart+ serum ran out, I decided to be cheap and not repurchase for a bit. Five days before a BIG day, the big, painful acne of old returned - 3 of them to be precise. I ran out and unable to find Dr. Jart's serum at my local Boots, I turned to the coveted Hydraluron. In five days, I was down to about half a spot, if that (I still feel the tiniest bump under my skin it was that big!). This shows how much my skin loves hydration and that it's not having no for an answer!

Please note that I'm not a skincare specialist - this is just how I understand my skin to operate! :)

How did you get rid of your spots? What are your must-have products?

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2 August 2013

bareMinerals Customisable 8-Piece Starter Kit

I recently attended a very cool event with bareMinerals where we were walked through some of their new make-up products by their international make-up artists, SJ.

If you don't know much about bareMinerals, they're a primarily 'base'-based brand with their world famous loose mineral foundation and the 'swirl, tap buff' method of application. Until recently all their products were loose but they've expanded into pressed products, brushes and skincare as well.

One of the products SJ showed us and we got to take away was this Customizable 8-Piece Get Started Kit. Before I attended the event, I was under the impression that the only Get Started Kits out there were the ones with two Original formulas, but they've created this new one where you can choose the foundation formula that works best for you! Currently they have the Original formula, the Matte formula and the Ready formula.

The Original formula is more for the dry to normal skintypes, and it supposedly creates a more natural finish. The Matte formula is what it says - a matte finish, but I find it to be like a semi-matte finish. The Ready formula I find to be very similar to Matte!

Anyway, what you see above is what you get in the set - three brushes, two face powders, a foundation and a primer.

Ready Foundation, Warmth, Mineral Veil, Prime Time 

Full Coverage Concealer Brush, Full Flawless Face Brush, Flawless Face Brush 

 Precision Face Brush (not in the set), Ready Foundation

Matte Foundation

Having bought the foundation on its own instead of buying a Get Started Kit myself, I suppose I'm in a good position to assess which is worth getting. With the set, you get a better picture of how a product is meant to be used and I am absolutely in love with Warmth, which I wasn't sure about before! That being said, each foundation is around £25 and this set is £50, and if you didn't like the concept of the brand, it's quite a lot to spend. At the same time, even if you don't like one or two products in the set, you probably still got your money's worth - it has about £120 worth of product in there!

I do think it's a great idea, because a lot of people tend to buy all their make-up from one brand through loyalty, laziness or perhaps in the belief they work best together. For people like that, this set is a godsend. It's also great for people who are plain curious about the brand and love understanding what brands are about (hellooo!)! It's also a good way to try everything, and for those who aren't too keen, there's always the option to buy things individually. I personally think it's a great idea to have something like this, just to have the option - so good on BareMinerals for leading the way on these!

For me, I'd happily purchase the Matte Foundation and Warmth on its own, as well as the Flawless Face Brush to go with it. I haven't quite made my mind up about the other products - I had high hopes for the Full Flawless Face Brush, but wondering if the Handibuki, which is the brush that gives an even fuller coverage, is better suited for me! Wouldn't it be cool if you could customise the foundation brush as well? Since they've made the Precision Face Brush for the Ready Foundation, I imagine this isn't too far away!

What do you think of the concept of the Customisable Get Started Kit?
Do you think more brands should make these?

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