17 April 2014

The Curl Holders: Yves Rocher Mascaras

360 Length Mascara, Volume Vertige, Luminelle Mascara Ultra-Volume

General rule of thumb: if you need mascara to hold curls, go for waterproof. Exception? Yves Rocher. Imagine my surprise when I tried not one, not two, but three Yves Rocher mascaras and they ALL held curls without being waterproof! It's definitely time for a de-brief.

360 Length Mascara (£17.50 currently on sale for £12.25 - link here) was the first one I tried. With a standard rubber wand, this mascara is a "middle ground" kinda product - it's not particularly lengthening but naturally volumising, and it gives you that subtle oomph that accentuates your lashes for a daytime look. It's what I use when I'm just popping out and don't need the full strength of a waterproof mascara.

Volume Vertige (£21 currently on sale for £10.50 - link here) is a step up, in the sense that it's a volumising mascara and will give you thicker, more luscious lashes. This is more my usual taste, and I'm happy use this on a day to day basis when I'm wearing neutral and not-so-smokey eye makeup that needs fat lashes. It's still not as volumising and powerful like my Lancome Hyponse Waterproof Mascara, but it's the best curl-holding, water-soluble mascara I've tried.

Luminelle Mascara Ultra-Volume is perhaps the most ineptly named product in the history of the world, because it's the least volumising mascara I have ever used. While it holds curls nicely like the others, the finish is more like just "topping up" your lashes. It's very subtle so it's definitely not for people like me, who are into their massive BADOINK lashes. Perhaps more for people with thick, full lashes but blonde or light brown that want to just tint their lashes black.

You can also get some great deals on Yves Rocher products at Baobella Boutique :)

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16 April 2014

Murad Perfecting Day Cream SPF30

When I see it's sunny out, I reach for this bad boy - the Murad Perfecting Day Cream (£39 - link here). There's not much that has this much sun protection as this moisturiser has, so already, I'm appreciating it. It also has PA+++ which means it protects against both UVA and UVB.. I think? In my experience, anything above an SPF25 is a solid amount of sun protection that noticeably keeps my face less tan than the rest of my body, so SPF30 is reassuring for me.

What's even better - it's also a great moisturiser. What's EVEN better? Scherzy agrees. Can't be bad (you'd hope).

I'd recommend it for dry combination, dehydrated or dry skinned people - me being the former two. This is because it does go under the skin and hydrates, but it's also super emollient and will soften the dry patches you may have. Because of this, it gives a really smooth finish for your foundation, and I always find that my pores look more blurred and my complexion just looks more 'soft focus'.

One downside I have noticed is that I think the SPF oxidises some foundations - but then again, I think that's a price to pay with most things with SPF. Keeping that in mind, I just use foundations that are slightly lighter than my skintone which fixes the problem.

The packaging is good as well. I absolutely love the packaging of Murad moisturisers because the spout is super long but with a massive hole which means dispensing product is super easy. The screw top is a bit of a faff, but it's something I can overlook given all its other merits.

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13 April 2014

Daniel Sandler Watercolour Fluid Blushes

Top: Chelsea; Bottom: Mayfair 

Left: Mayfair; Right: Chelsea

Top: Chelsea; Bottom: Mayfair 

I put my hands up - I was a sceptic. Many bloggers have raved about these Watercolour Fluid Blushers (£15.50 - link here), but being absolutely useless at cream blushers, something even more fluid like a water-based blush terrified me. I can only apologise for this uber late rave review.

These new shades, Chelsea and Mayfair, I won in one of their Twitter giveaways, and it turned my scepticism upside down - these things are simply brilliant. You wouldn't believe the pigment with them being water-based, and what surprised me most was how easy they are to use.

My brush of choice is the ELF Studio Blush Brush (£3.95 - link herewhich is a standard blush brush but made with synthetic fibres. Slightly more affordable than Daniel Sandler's own Waterbrush (£15.50 - link here), this is a good alternative.

A drop is enough for a whole cheek, and it doesn't dry so quickly that you can't blend them out - if I put too much on the brush, I can brush some on on each cheek, blend one cheek out and the other one will still be wet enough to blend.

It's very hard to get a streaky finish with this as well, because it blends so beautifully and with soft edges like you can see above. I'm so surprised by this because I thought where you applied it first is where you'd get the most pigment. However, the blendability of these liquids are absolutely fantastic.

Who else thinks they need to come out with a contour shade?
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11 April 2014

My Make-up-Tox with Sheer Cover Studio

If you watch half as much E4 as I do (gotta love some Big Bang), you've probably seen the Sheer Cover adverts. Has it triggered your curiosity? It did mine.

So given I pick and choose my make-up products on a daily basis, it was a biiiit of a big deal - but a month or so ago, I had a week-long "make-up-tox" with Sheer Cover. So for a full week, I used only Sheer Cover products for concealer, foundation, bronzer and mascara. It was like what I read about those intense diets - the first day was the toughest. After a full week, and a few more of experimenting, I've got a firm grip on what exactly I think about their adverts..

The Not So Good
I think the most disappointing of the lot were the Bronzer Brush and the Foundation Brush. The former didn't pick up the Sun-kissed Mineral Bronzer very well, and the latter just wasn't dense enough to buff on the foundation if you wanted something more than a dusting. Don't get me wrong - I'll find uses for them with other products because they aren't bad brushes. I'm just confused as to why the creators chose these brushes for Sheer Cover.

The Lengthening Mascara and Lash Extending Fibers were interesting. The mascara itself isn't quite so bad - it was easy to apply, the brush was nice and it added length.  But it doesn't hold curls to save its life, which rules it out immediately for me. The Lash Extending Fibers, on the other hand, added more volume than it did length. I might pick this up once in a while for special occasions, but for everyday, it's definitely an unnecessary step for my routine.

The Good
There's one product that I still use every single day, and that's the Conceal & Brighten Trio. To be honest with you, I think this is at the core of their claims for covering up imperfections, because this stuff has insane coverage. In fact, it's slowly overtaking my favourite MAC Studio Finish Concealer, because alongside its amazing coverage, it has slip and is creamy, without being heavy like the Bobbi Brown Corrector or Concealers. For this reason, you'll probably go through it quickly - I've already hit pan. But if you've ever tried Sonia Kashuk's Hidden Agenda Concealer Palette, this is almost exactly the same. Since using this, I've noticed that I hesitate to apply the MAC concealer on the outside parts of my face because my face is dry there - whereas this, I'll slap it on wherever I need it, even under my eyes! It works well both on concentrated areas and larger patches of skin - this stuff is gold dust.

The Concealer Brush is also quite good - I have no complaints about it, as its good for both undereyes and spots. Personally, I prefer my fingers, but it's a nice addition to this set!

I feel mixed about the Sun-kissed Bronzing Minerals. The screw-top packaging is ridiculous, cuz it's just such a faff. The waves are also ridiculous, because it's hard to get individual shades - even trying to get the bottom two shades isn't easy with bigger brushes. BUT.. the contents are good. I like the variety of shades, I like that it has a cool-toned brown (as opposed to orangey shades) and it lasts really really well on your skin. Just don't use the Sheer Cover brushes with it because it's too tightly packed and 'hard' to be used with floppier brushes. Use a denser one and you'll get a good amount of pigment that isn't prone to overdoing it, which is another aspect I like - over-pigmented powders are not a good thing in my books!

And the grand finale - the Perfect Shade Mineral Foundation with SPF 15. I really liked it! I found it felt lighter than bareMinerals Matte, and more like Bellapierre - really, truly weightless. It had a really creamy finish, and you couldn't really tell that it was a powder formula.

The finish was very natural and skin-like which is one of my favourite things about this foundation! The coverage was light to medium, depending on what brush you used, but I think it's best used with something between a light powder brush and a dense buffing brush. My favourite to use with it was actually bareMinerals' Full Flawless Face Brush.

One thing I'm not 100% convinced about is this shade matching technology.. Medium, which apparently works with most skintones (it won't), was always a tad light for me.

So.. the results?
Better skin. I kid you not. I started the week off with quite a bad breakout and significant acne scarring - it was right during exam period. By the end of the week, my scarring had faded noticeably and I wasn't breaking out. I hadn't changed my skincare routine - in fact, I was treating it badly, often just using cleansing water in the morning, or sleeping after using a face wipe. In fact, since I finished the make-up-tox, I find myself still reaching for the foundation (in addition to the concealer which I use all the time anyway) when I need to wear make-up but feel like my skin needs a break.

"Sheer Cover". Is it aptly named? I think it is. The Conceal & Brighten Trio has that much pigment that it will cover almost anything, but because you only use it in certain spots, you won't be 'masking' your whole face, so to speak. Add a layer of the Perfect Shade Mineral Foundation, which is sheer and more 'perfecting' than covering, and it'll still let your skin show through where you haven't applied the concealer. In that way, it doesn't cover EVERYTHING and give you a full coverage, Estee Lauder Doublewear look all over. It gives you coverage where you need it, and sheer, finishing touches to the rest. This really helps to give you that skin-like, natural look.

As I said, Day 1 was the hardest - I was NOT a happy bunny with how I looked. I thought I knew how to adapt to mineral foundations, but I really didn't. It took until about Day 3 to really get the results I wanted. So if you do decide to give it a go (or any other foundation for that matter), try to commit to a week long 'tox'. And hopefully you'll get as great a results as I have! Me? I'm converted.

You can try the full set for £30 at Sheer Cover UK, or the individual products separately.

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10 April 2014

An Elizabeth Arden Facial

Did you know that some Elizabeth Arden counters did in-store facials? I didn't. But when I did discover that, obviously, I trotted off to Oxford Street with a mate and had my face done. I kid you not, my skin was glowing and clear for weeks. My friend's skin? It glowed. So sure, we were curious about some of the products the ladies had used.

One of these was the Prevage Intensive Repair Eye Serum. I've got to come clean and say that I don't, in particular, have much anti-aging concerns around my eyes, but my family tree suggests I'll slowly get hooded eyes and I'd like to keep the crow's feet at bay for as long as I can.

So what is a £95 eye serum like? Weeeeell, it's nice.. but just nice. I find it hydrates my undereye really well and the yellow hue and sparkly particles counteract a lot of the darkness that I get (cheers, exams). Sealing it in with a good eye cream (HealGel Eye, all hail) works a treat to make me look awake and ready. But would I purchase? No. Granted, I may be a bit young to see the true effects but at that price, I'd encourage people to pop along to an Elizabeth Arden counter first, and see if you can give it a go.

So what were the products that really stood out to us? My particular favourite was the Visible Difference Balancing Exfoliating Cleanser which is super reasonable at £18, and is reminiscent of Origin's Modern Friction but with better effects, in my opinion. As an Elizabeth Arden newbie, my friend was infatuated with the 8 Hour Cream. Standard.

If you're interested in a facial, do give your local counter a buzz - John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenham's even have beauty rooms specifically for them! The £25 is also redeemable against purchases.. no excuses now.

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7 April 2014

Latest from L'Occitane..

I've been quite impressed with L'Occitane recently, and their recent Spring launches do not disappoint. They kicked the season off with new launch to the La Collection de Grasse EDT collection, three new body butters and a novel fragrance-extending body lotion.

Neroli & Orchidee
You may have seen my excitable tweet back in February about the Neroli & Orchidee (£49) addition to the La Collection de Grasse - partly because of the soft pink tones and gold detailing, but also because I seem to just drift to anything which has neroli in it.

Having worn the fragrance for a good month now, I can say it's one of my favourites. With top notes of orange and mandarin, it does provoke a slight reference to L'Occitane's last La Collection de Grasse launch, Fleur d'Or & Acacia. The heart notes are those of neroli, peach, fig milk and lily of the valley - which I'm sure will tickle many peoples' fancy! The scent is tied up with base notes of orchid, iris and musk which adds the perfect sweet aftertaste throughout the day. This has been the perfect everyday scent that balances floral, sweet and fresh perfectly.

Ultra Soft Cream
These Ultra Soft Cream (£18) tins are undoubtedly visually attractive but what about the inside? As a massive fan of L'Occitane's Almond Milk Concentrate and their Flowers of Love Shea Body Butter in Jasmine, these had a lot to live up to and I have to say they're up to par in terms of formula. These body butters feel like they turn into light liquid/oils upon touching the skin that just absorbs beautifully into the skin. My only niggle with these, are the scents. I find the Rose Heart and Zesty Lime quite overpowering, and the Vanilla too 'fake' smelling, despite loving their Rose fragrance line in general.

Fragrance Beautifying Cream
A Fragrance Beautifying Cream (£26)? It's definitely a new one on the beauty market, as it's a body lotion that prolongs the lasting power of any of the La Collection de Grasse EDT collection. Now my first instinct is to say, shouldn't they be formulated to last as long as possible on their own? But I was curious and decided to give this a go anyway.

It works. Not sure why or how, but it works. I applied the cream to one wrist and not to another and sprayed the Neroli & Orchidee on both wrists once. The one with the Fragrance Beautifying Cream prolonged the top and heart notes much much longer than the wrist without the Beautifying Cream, which, in comparison, skidaddled to the base notes and had a stronger sweet tone.

It also doubles as a body moisturiser which has that liquidifying texture that I love so much in L'Occitane's moisturisers. This Fragrance Beautifying Cream also has a much subtler zesty floral scent that I much prefer to the Ultra Soft Cream. This is definitely my pick of the lot if you own a La Collection de Grasse perfume and are also in the market for a new body lotion.

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6 April 2014

John Frieda Frizz Ease Hydrating Shampoo & Conditioner

Last year, I loved the John Frieda Frizz Ease Straight Ahead Shampoo & Conditioner - it gave me super smooth and sleek hair, and despite having SLS, my hair wasn't any drier than usual. Naturally, I was then excited to try the Hydrating range to see how it compared.

Unfortunately, the results were pretty catastrophic. Sure, my hair wasn't as frizzy as usual, but my goodness, these were the most unhydrating hair products I have ever used! I've never had problems with a dry scalp, nor with dandruff but these have made me go from having no hair concerns, to having one massively embarrassing one!

In terms of packaging, scent and how the formula feels, I have no complains at all. The tube is easy to use with wet hands, and the product distributes nicely. It smells nice without leaving an excessive scent (which I really like!) and your hair will feel clean and conditioned. But let's face it - no one wants dandruff.

A few months after realising that these were the cause and stopping use, I still have issues with a dry scalp. I don't recommend risking it with the Hydrating range from John Frieda, and recommend the Straight Ahead range instead! Me? I'm going back to non-SLS shampoos - there's just no substitute!

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