Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best of 2012: Part 2

Hello lovelies, hope you're all well and are getting excited about the New Year celebrations ahead tonight! Whether you've got a big night planned or are hoping for a quiet one at home, I hope you have the most fantastic time!

As promised, here is part 2 of my Best of 2012 posts, featuring eight more fabulous products. I hope you enjoy having a look at what has impressed me this year.

Caudalie Teint Divin Tinted Moisturiser
I think what I like most about this stuff is that purchasing it coincided with my realisation that actually, I didn't need to wear foundation daily. This gem evens out my skin tone, as well as adding a hint of much-needed colour while still leaving my skin free to breath. A thin layer of this and a bit of concealer and I'm good to go - and not only that, but my skin looks pretty healthy too!

Maybelline 24 Hour Superstay Lip Colour
I haven't reviewed these yet, but keep your eye open as it's coming soon. These things are amazing!! If you read regularly then you'll know that no lip product stays on my lips for five minutes - well, at least it didn't, until I tried these babies! I literally put it on in the morning, and it'll still be there when I get home at night. I did leave it on overnight once to experiment, and yep - still there in the morning, although a little the worse for wear. I'm so, so impressed with these, and really glad I decided to give them a go.

Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
I absolutely adore this cleanser, and while I am currently tring out another one, I have no doubt that I'll come back to this one at some point. It's another one of those products that I know my skin will always be happy to see. Not unlike the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, this is also a hot cloth cleanser, a concept which I've come to adore. It leaves my skin feeling fantastically clean and soft, and is also gentle enough to use on my eyes - plus it removes every last scrap of makeup.

L'oreal Glam Bronze Blonde Harmony 
(not pictured as I don't currently have it)
I'm not even blonde, but the two shades combined are just the perfect contouring shade for my light skin-tone, and give me a really healthy holiday-type glow. It's also matte, which is an added bonus, as I feel that this makes it much more versatile as a product.

Benefit The Porefessional
I had always shied away from primers, mainly because I saw them as just the latest gimick designed to make us part with our pennies. I didn't imagine they'd make much of a difference, but when I got this free with Glamour magazine back in the summer, naturally I was intrigued and had to give it a go. I use this just on my t-zone, which tends to get slightly oily throughout the day, and I find that this really helps to keep that at bay. Something else which has hugely impressed me about this is that even with daily use, a 7ml tube has lasted me six months, and still isn't quite finished.

Origins Modern Friction
Hands down the best facial scrub I've used, putting paid to any areas of flakey skin immediately and leaving me with glowing, refreshed skin. Bit of a no-brainer really.

Redken All Soft Conditioner
An absolutely fantastic conditioner, which has helped breathe some life back into my damaged, distressed hair, leaving it much softer and smoother. This one really helped me out in a time of need, as at once point I was tempted to chop my entire mop off in frustration!

L'oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil
For much the same reasons as above. This has become a staple in my haircare routine, both on wet and dry hair. I run some through while damp for smoother, more manageable locks, and if I notice my ends starting to dry out or frizz up during the day then a pump of this soon puts them back in their place. This doesn't weigh hair down or make it greasy at all - mine just drinks it up. Plus, it smells amazing.

So, there you have it - my Best of 2012 products, done and dusted! I hope these posts have had you nodding in agreement with one or two of the products, and if not then that perhaps you have seen something you might like to try in 2013. Once again, I'd love to know what your hero products of the year have been, so please do link me up if you have done a similar sort of post, otherwise just let me know in the comments below - I'd love to know what's worth trying in the new year.


The Best of 2012: Part 1

It's that time of the year again, and it's got me thinking about all the new beauty products I've tried this year, some fantastic and some...well, not so much. For me, 2012 has been a year of great discovery beauty-wise, and one in which I have tried out the largest selection of new brands and products to date. Blogging has enabled the uncovering of brands I would never have otherwise heard of, as well as giving me the chance to share some of my favourites with you. So, without further ado, behold - it's my favourite finds of 2012.

L'oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara
Before discovering this little beauty, I'd always found mascaras a bit lacklustre, promising the world and delivering little more than clumpy lashes that lost their curl within half an hour. But Volume Million Lashes is several cuts above the rest, in my opinion, giving me long, thick, voluminous lashes, sans spider effect - and what's more, they stay that way until I get home in the evening. Being the blogger that I am, I rarely stick by just one of any type of product, but I can honestly say that I have neither the will nor the inclination to replace this with a different one any time soon. Absolute HG.

Mac Mineralise Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle
I am beyond certain that I will not be the only one singing this one's praises, as this has received much attention across the blogosphere since it's release. In fact, in the beginning, I only 'liked' this - I couldn't see that, as a shade, it was all that much more amazing than any of the others. But having branched out and experimented with other MSFs and powder highlighters, I can safely say that this one has become a definite staple - there's just no beating the healthy glow it gives me, and I do use this every single day. Even better, I've had it since March and am nowhere near hitting pan, making it fantastic value despite it's fairly steep price tag.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (not pictured - I've run out!)
Again, it's massively obvious that I'm not alone here, but I felt this deserved a mention because it was the product that not only marked the beginning of Mirror on the Wall, but also me getting sorted with a decent skincare routine! Oh yes, I used to be a face-wipes-and-go kind of girl, much as it pains me to say it now. I remember reading about this cleanser in one of the very first beauty blog posts I stumbled across, Liz being one of the afore-mentioned brands I never would have heard of otherwise. It wasn't long before I had ordered the entire three-step programme, and I was soon realising just what I - and my skin - had been missing out on. While I'm not currently using Cleanse and Polish (that old blogger experimentation again), it's definitely a cleanser I know I can come back to at any time, and my skin will love it.

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask
Until I tried this, I think I'd been missing a trick with face masks. For me, it was more about the ritual, the relaxation and the sensation of being pampered, meaning I would reluctantly brush aside my disappointment with the actual results. But this little beaut has restored my faith, leaving my pores feeling as clean as can be and my skin in general feeling detoxed. I won't go as far as calling it  a miracle product - there's always room for improvement. But it's certainly the best face mask I've tried.

Benefit Coralista
What can I say about this blush? It's just the absolute perfect colour for my complexion, adding real warmth, and applies like a dream. Another product I'll always come back to.

Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in Nude
I'm so glad I discovered the trick of using a nude liner on my waterline to brighten up tired eyes. I'd gone off using a white liner years ago, though mainly because of the complete lack of staying power offered by formulae back then, but having tried this I am a convert. Not only does this make my  peepers look more awake, but it also stays put all day.

Suti Peppermint Water Organic Facial Toner
This was the successor to my Caudalie Beauty Elixir, and still comes around in my handbag with me now. It's just a really refreshing facial spritz, which I use throughout the day as a bit of a pick-me-up as well as during my morning and evening skincare routines. It's also really good for relaxation, as well as helping to soothe and calm the skin thanks to the peppermint essential oil it contains - perfect for just before bed.

Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-in Treatment
As I's sure you've heard me harping on about before, having my hair ombred left it pretty dry, damaged and brittle, but this gem has really helped put the strength back into it. I just run 2-3 pumps of it through my hair after washing, conditioning, rinsing and towel-drying, and it also helps to detangle my hair, making it easier to dry and style.

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains
Definitely my favourite day-time lip product of the year, as they are just so easy to apply, even without a mirror. Personally, I have the shades Rendezvous and Honey, both of which I adore, and I love the wash of colour they give while still leaving my lips feeling nice and moisturised. These chunky crayons are also perfect for throwing in my handbag, and no sharpener is required as they twist up from the bottom.

Hope you enjoyed having a little delve into the first instalment of my hero products of 2012. Part two will be up tomorrow.
What have been the best products you've discovered this year, and which will be going with you into 2013?


Beauty Lessons of 2012

Hello my lovelies, you may have noticed that I've been somewhat  absent over the past week, but I think it's more likely that you've been busy enjoying Christmas dinner, making the most of family time, trying out new presents and indulging in copious amounts of Christmas leftovers. Truth be told, I gave myself a little Christmas blogging break in order to recharge my batteries, and now I'm regretting it because I had forgotten about the mountain of end-of-year posts I had planned. Now I've only got two days to squeeze them into, so something tells me that they are going to be spilling over into the new year!

This year has certainly been a learning curve when it comes to beauty. Not only have I discovered some amazing new brands and products, but I've also learned some valuable lessons, ten of which I have decided to share with you. So, grab a cuppa and have a listen as I have a little word with myself!

1. Persevere. Don't just assume you are destined to have dry hair or dull skin forever, and give up on every product after a couple of tries. It took a while to get into this situation, and it'll take a while to get out - but it will be worth it.

2. Yes, you do need to take good care of your skin, even if you rarely have problems with it. If you don't, it will take it's toll.

3. The same goes for eyes. Don't neglect to use eye-cream or your peepers will pay! And no, you're not too young for fine lines. :(

4. Stop being lazy and moisturise your body when you get out of the shower. You mightn't think it would make much of a difference, but you'd be wrong!

5. Just because a product is massively hyped up, it doesn't mean it'll work for you.

6. You don't need to wear foundation every day. A good tinted moisturiser and a bit of concealer do the job.

7. Hair oils are not the enemy. And leave-in conditioners are not pointless. Neither are facial serums.

8. No product will ever completely get rid of dark circles! But then you knew that anyway.

9. Skincare can be addictive. You'll never think you have everything you need!

10. Filling in your eyebrows makes a huge difference, even if they are fairly thick and dark to begin with.

What have you learned this year?


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Video: The Christmas Tag

Hello lovelies, I thought it was about time I filmed something festive for you, so here's my Christmas Tag video.
Don't you just love how the thumbnails for these videos always capture you in the most flattering of poses? Haha. Never mind, when I become a more experienced Youtuber perhaps that will change.
Anyway, hope you enjoy this video and that you are all having a fabulously festive weekend!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Festive Wishlist...What's Left!?

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate:
All  Other Cosmetics: Feel Unique
All Decorations: Dotcom Giftshop (vintage Christmas decoations)
Clothes/bag: Topshop

When it came to creating this week's Wishlist, I strangely found myself at a loss. What on earth was I to put on it after all the pre-Christmas wishlisting I've already done over the past few weeks? What more could a girl want?
Well, not much, but it seems I've still managed to find a few things. This week, it's very much a mish-mash of cute festive decorations and the cult beauty products that have always fitted into the 'goes without saying' compartment of my mental shopping list, yet somehow have never been purchased. Take, for example, the Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm. This one has long been on my to'buy list, but due to it's slightly un-purse-friendly price and the fact that I've been eagerly stock-piling all sorts of other skincare products, it just hasn't made it home with me. Another such product is the Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrating Treatment, something which has come to the fore-front of my mind since having my hair ombred. I've already invested in all manner of products in order to rectify the damage done, and whilst many of those appear to be helping, I still find myself having moments of panic where I feel like cutting it all off. Whilst I'm at it, I also wouldn't mind giving their (JoicoMoisture Recovery Treatment Lotion a try, not to mention the Macadamia Luxe Repair Set, because frankly I'll stop at nothing to get my hair back in good condition.
Next on my list is the Jemma Kidd Light As Air liquid foundation, partly because I'm scared it will disappear of the market before I've had the chance, and the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, because frankly, I need it. 
Last but not least is the Xen Tan Deep Bronze Luxe, because I'm pasty and I know it. I'm not usually one for fake tan, due to too many past disasters and a fear of looking 'Tangoed', but I keep hearing about what a gem this stuff is and would really like to give my skin-tone a boost.
Other than those beauty goodies, I also wouldn't mind a cosy knit jumper, cute satchel and leather cutwork top from Topshop, and some vintage Christmas decorations, all from Dotcom Giftshop.

I hope you enjoyed having a little nose into my  last wishlist of 2012, and that you are all having the most amazing pre-Christmas weekend!
Eat, drink and be merry.


Friday, December 21, 2012

A Vintage Christmas: Pinspiration

A slightly different sort of blog post for you today.
Throughout the festive season, I've caught myself many a time trawling the likes of Pinterest and Tumblr in search of beautiful Christmassy inspiration for decor and crafts, and this inevitably resulted in the creation of my Vintage Christmas Pinterest board. At my parents' house, we usually tend to keep things traditional but classy, a theme which is more than fine by me. But I do sometimes like to think about all the pretty little hand-crafted decorations and displays I could create, should Christmas be held at my house one year. This year, I won't be in the country for Christmas at all, as I will be spending it in Brazil with my husband's family, but next year I am planning on getting really creative and making the house look marvellous, Christmas dinner or no Christmas dinner. 

I love the idea of mixing vintage elements with traditional, and getting crafty with wall art and table displays. I think these little patchwork stockings are such an adorable touch and would look fantastic hanging up over a roaring open fire on Christmas Eve.

Hand-made baubles and newspaper Christmas trees make a cute, kitsch addition to the surroundings, while filling jars and large plastic containers with colourful beads and marbles gives you some unique centrepieces for the coffee and dining tables.

You can also collect twigs or branches from the garden, pop them in a plant pot and adorn them with Christmas ornaments. Why not make use of an old, unused picture frame and spruce it up a bit with a lick of paint before attaching some lengths of string on which to display your Christmas cards?

Have you, or are you going to be creating any special decorations or displays for Christmas this year?


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ren Phyto-Dynamic Instant Lifting Gel

It's a bit late in the day (or night) to be posting, but having just used this product after a long period of neglect, I felt it deserved a mention. You know when you come across one of those things that is just really pleasant to use, regardless of whether or not it actually makes a dramatic difference in your skincare routine - or at least, one that's visible? Well, that's this all over.

The Ren Phyto-Dynamic Instant lifting gel is cruelty free, as are all Ren's products (something which draws me to them all the more), and contains all-natural active ingredients. This one is made with fruite enzymes and hyaluronic acid, and while I'm not entirely sure that it 'lifts' my face (or that my face actually  requires any lifting - I hope not, in my twenties. I bought this product purely because I love Ren and saw it on sale from one of my long-trusted sellers on Ebay), it does leave it feeling fantastically soft and smooth.
Though this product is a mask, the instructions recommend leaving it on for just one minute, so I sometimes slap it on in the shower for a quick boost. It can also be used as a primer, a concept which I very much enjoy, as I love the idea of having some nice 'face food' on all day, as well as providing a barrier between my skin and the chemicals my makeup undoubtedly contains.
Like the Glycolactic Skin Peel, this mask also has the consistency of marmalade, those in this case it looks (and smells) more like a lemony version (is that lemon curd??). And, not that eating this is recommended, but if it does accidentally come into contact with your lips then you won't need to worry about any nasty surprises, as it actually tastes like fruit too!

Have you tried any skincare from Ren? If so, what would you recommend I try next?


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Winterlicious Tag


I feel I've been lacking a bit when it comes to festive posts this Christmas, so when the lovely Laurzie of Day in the Life of a Scottish Lass tagged me to do The Winterlicious tag I was pleased to oblige!
Here are my answers, hope you enjoy them.

What is your most worn Winter clothing piece?
I like to layer up in the Winter, but it gets so chilly that it's not often possible to go out without a coat! I'd love to get a big, cosy Winter parka, which would undoubtedly see me through the chilly months.

What is your favourite Christmas movie?
I think I must be the only person in the world who doesn't actually know the names of the majority of Christmas films! I just see them on TV and decide to watch them. As a child though, I used to love Prancer, which is a film about a girl who makes friends with a reindeer (one of Santa's, of course). 

What is your most worn Winter accessory?
Scarfs, without a doubt - I've got hundreds. Ok, not hundreds. But a lot.

What is your favourite Winter eye palette?
I'm not sure I'm really in a position to answer this one, as despite my love of makeup I very rarely wear eyeshadow (I used to regularly, but haven't done in years now). However, that said, I am getting the MUA Undressed palette as one of my Christmas pressies, because I've decided to make a concerted effort to get back into it. I do tend to use my Urban Decay NYC palette for nights out though.

What is your favourite Christmas food/treat?
Such a tough call - I absolutely adore Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, but you can't beat a mince pie with clotted cream and a glass of mulled wine!

What is your favourite everyday Christmas perfume?
I can't say I particularly have a Christmas one, although I usually receive perfume for Christmas so tend to wear whichever one I've been lucky enough to be given. Generally though, in Winter I wear Armani Code Pour Femme and Chanel Chance.

What is your favourite Christmas song?
I love Christmas songs! Why do so many people complain about them!? I love all the fun old classics like Slade - I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day, Stop the Cavalry, and of course, The Pogues - Fairytale of New York....but then I also really like to hear Christmas carols. In my hometown, the Salvation Army are always playing those in town just before Christmas and it's lovely.
I'm also loving some of this year's covers - The XX's cover of Last Christmas is awesome, and Gabriela Aplin singing The Power of Love is a winner too.
Favourite Christmas blusher?
I don't really have one, but this year I'll more than likely be wearing my Nars blush in Deep Throat, as it's the one I have been loving the most of late.

What is your favourite Winter beverage?
I LOVE winter beverages! I absolutely adore mulled wine, but obviously I can't be drinking that all the time, so I love trying out all the deliciously festive coffees and hot chocolates brought out by Starbucks and Costa. I love a gingerbread latte, but I've heard of some amazing new ones I've got to try this year - Costa's salted caramel latte sounds incredible (although I haven't seen the best reviews) and peppermint mochas and suchlike sound heavenly too.
On Christmas day, we tend to sip Bucks Fizz in the morning and have some wine with dinner, and then a Baileys in the evening - Baileys is my ultimate Christmas Day drink!

Your favourite Winter lip product?
This year it's my latest Mac lippy in the shade Craving. It's a gorgeous kind of dusky berry, and at the moment I can't get enough of it!

What is your favourite Winter scent/candle?
There are so many yummy sounding candles about this winter. While the Neom and other high-end ones look lovely, there's no way you'd catch me paying upwards of £40 for a candle! I really like the sound of the Cinnamon Buns and Christmas Comfort candles from BusyBee Candles, and am planning on stocking up on some of the Yankee tarts, as they are doing some wonderful scents this year.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?
As children, we would always leave a mince pie and a glass of sherry out for Father Christmas, and a carrot and a saucer of milk for Rudolph (what about the other reindeer!?). Back then, my sister and I would wake up really early in the morning, discover our stockings (which were hanging on the door) stuffed with presents and excitedly burst in on my parents, scrambling into their bed to open them together. Sadly, at the age of eighteen the stockings were no more, so these days we don't exchange presents until after Christmas dinner, which is when the adults used to get theirs anyway. So, we usually have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, along with a cheeky bit of Bucks Fizz, crack on with getting the Christmas food (and ourselves) ready, stuff ourselves silly at the dinner table (at around 2pm) and then crack open some gifts. The rest of the afternoon is spent in various stages of food coma, eating too many chocolates, playing with whatever new gadgets have inevitably been received and perhaps watching the odd Christmas special on TV. Later on, the leftovers come out, along with vast amounts of cheese, smoked salmon and cream cheese, mince pies and suchlike, and then we usually play some silly games or (these days) XBox Kinect until everyone has to give in and admit defeat for the day. It's a simple affair, but I adore every second of it.

What is your favourite Winter nail polish?
I haven't used it yet, but I was lucky enough to win Northern Lights from the Model's Own Winter Wonderland collection in Suzy's giveaway, and I've had my eye on it for ages, so I'm sure that one will be a firm favourite! I also love Essie Sure Shot, which I tend to wear a lot, and a look I have been favouring of late is either a black or a gold polish with coloured glitter, as it just looks like fun and reminds me of carnivals and fesivities.

What is at the top of your Christmas list?
Well, I would absolutely love a new camera, but I think most of my gifts had already been bought by the time I voiced this. I am hoping for some new Origins skincare and an Illamasqua Alter Ego gift set though, and have also asked for some Real Techniques brushes and some good books.

What are your plans for the holidays this year?
This year, I shall be spending Christmas in the scorching sun in Brazil, so I suppose all this talk of cold weather and Winter warmers doesn't hugely apply! My husband is Brazilian, so we are here spending time with his family. Sadly though, they don't do much to celebrate - there are never any decorations and presents are barely exchanged. As for Christmas dinner, it tends to be a barbecue. I'm sad that I won't be with my family this year, because I absolutely love our Christmasses (is that right!?) together, and I also think it's a bit of a shame that my husband has never experienced Christmas in the magical way that I always did. He says his Christmases were nice as a child, but he also says he doesn't really care about Christmas, and I suppose if it had been as low-key forme growing upthen I'd feel the same. However, I'm trying to get him to become a 'Christmas Person', because it's so much more fun when everyone gets excited about it and really gets into the spirit of things.
Wow, I think I wrote the word 'Christmas' in that paragraph so many times that after reading it back I've forgotten the meaning. Does that ever happen to you when you hear the same word over and over so many times in a row?

I'm not going to tag anyone in particular to do this, because I know it's not everyone'scup of tea, but if you do fancy answering these questions then please feel free and leave me a link in the comments below - I'd love to have a nose.

Hope everyone's having a great week so far!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mac Amplified Creme Lipstick: Craving

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a recent haul with you lovelies, and one of the items I had just got my hands on was this gorgeous lipstick from Mac. 
I'd actually never heard of the shade  Craving before, so I was really excited to try it out when I stumbled upon it while browsing online.

Described by Mac as 'a burst of plum', for me Craving is more of a dusky berry/plummy pink. It's really creamy and applies evenly, wearing for several hours without drying out the lips. It's an Amplified Creme finish, which is my favourite Mac formula, for this reason. 
This is a highly pigmented lipstick, meaning one slick is enough to give you an opaque layer of colour, and for me it's just the perfect every-day colour for Winter. I do love a bright lip, but sometimes they can be so much hassle to maintain throughout the day, especially if you're at work, and while I like nudes, they don't tend to suit me. Craving is a fantastic in-between sort of colour, being a muted version of my beloved bold berry shades.

Here it is swatched on my hand. I would say it comes out slightly duskier than it appears in the photo.

I've been finding myself reaching for this shade on almost a daily basis lately, making it a great purchase and for now, my favourite Mac lipstick for the colder months.

What's your favourite Mac shade for this time of year?


Monday, December 17, 2012

Nars Blush in Deep Throat

I'd been eager to try something from Nars for such a long time, so I popped online in the hope of picking up a pretty blush/bronzer duo. But since the shades available weren't really my cup of tea, I eventually decided to go for the infamous blush in Deep Throat. I could've gone for Orgasm - after all, it is a cult product - but having been disappointed by hyped up products in the past, and finding myself preferring the look of this one, I decided to go for it.

Each Nars blush comes in a rubberised compact, with quite a big mirror inside the lid, which is fantastic for applying on the go. The packaging itself, though attractive in appearance, does tend to attract grime, and it's not easy to remove the marks. However, I wasn't about to let that put me off.

Deep Throat is described as a 'flirty, sheer peach', but to me it's more of a peachy-pink (bordering on coral) with very very subtle gold shimmer. It's apparently less shimmery than Orgasm, which is fine by me, as while I like a blush to give my cheeks a healthy, luminous glow, the glitterball look is a step too far.
This is supposedly one of the less pigmented of the Nars blushes, but though that might be the case, it's very buildable, and you could create quite a vibrant look with it if you wanted to. However, I think it looks best as a gentle flush on the cheeks, which would look as great on tanned summer skin as it does on pale wintery white!

This blush is finely milled and has a lovely, soft texture, making it a dream to apply. On the cheeks, it leaves a beautiful satin finish.
I've been layering this up with my Mac MSF in Soft and Gentle and have been really enjoying the glowy, healthy look I can achieve with this pairing. While I'm not sure it has quite knocked my beloved Benefit Coralista off the top spot, it's right up there with it.

The only down-side is the price. I do think that Nars is quite over-priced in general, and it's not a brand that I would buy all my makeup from because of this. However, there is definitely something about their products that makes me want to! Next on my list are both the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser and the Sheer Glow foundation, as well as one or two of the Velvet Matte/Velvet Gloss lip pencils.

Please excuse my nails in this picture - they're not dirty, my nail varnish is just chipped!

Have you tried anything from Nars?
If so, what's your favourite product?


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Haircare Hits and Misses for Dry/Damaged Hair

Last weekend, I posted a Youtube video on my current haircare routine, so now it's time to follow that up with a detailed post for those of you who aren't keen on watching videos. I've also added in some extra products I have been using of late, that didn't feature, so hopefully even if you have already seen the video there will be something for you in this post. 

I've had dry hair for what seems like an age now, and had tried various different deep conditioners and DIY hair masks, but nothing could ever quite cut the mustard. So, when I had my hair coloured earlier this month, which left me with pretty frazzled, dry and frizzy ends, I decided that it was time to invest in some proper, decent haircare in order to nurse my poor locks back to health. So, I will talk you through the new additions to my routine, letting you know my thoughts on them so far, and finish up with some old trusties that I've been using for a while now.

Redken Extreme Shampoo
This was the first product I went out and bought, having done my research and read that it was excellent for brittle, damaged ends like mine. It's designed to put the protein lost during the lightening process back into your hair, therefore providing the hair with what it needs to become strong and healthy. It smells a fair bit like Calpol, and lathers up really well. I can't really say what results this alone has given me so far, as I have been using it in conjunction with lots of other new products, but I do know that it leaves my hair feeling really thick and clean when I have just rinsed it out.

Redken All Soft Conditioner
This stuff is fantastic. It smells like honey, and as soon as I start to massage it into the ends of my hair, I can almost feel them relax! My hair suddenly starts to feel smooth, supple and silky, which I love! I think this has probably been the biggest saviour of my hair so far. It was the last thing to be added into my routine, and it was then that I started to notice more of a difference in the condition of my hair.

Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy Conditioner
Now, a couple of weeks ago I was all ready to review this and say it was useless, but I'm glad I waited as I am now finding myself quite liking it. When I used it on my hair before it had been coloured, it seemed fine, though nothing special. But when I had had it coloured, this conditioner didn't seem to do anything for my hair. I now think that my locks were just in such bad condition that it was too big a job for this product, but now that my hair has got some strength back it seems to be responding better. This makes it feel nice and silky in the shower, though I still need to follow up with other product when I get out if I don't want to end up with a tangled barnet. Again though, I put this down to the sorry condition my hair has been in, as I find the same regardless of what I've used.

Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Intense Moisturising Treatment
Now, I'm going to be honest about this one. It's not for me. That's not to say that it won't work for other people, but this honestly leaves my hair in a tangled, matted mess - far worse than it has ever been before. I really can't understand how it could have that effect, but it does - either that, or my hair becomes matted when shampooing and this just doesn't do the job it should do afterwards. Either way, I have found this product disappointing and won't be repurchasing.

Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Treatment

This one has been another great saviour, as it's the only thing I can put in my hair that gets rid of the tangles and knots. I work a couple of pumps-worth through towel-dried hair, and it just makes it SO much easier to brush through. This is also, like the Extreme shampoo, designed to put protein back into your hair, strengthening it and preventing it from breaking off. I must say, my hair seems much stronger since I started using this, and I haven't noticed any more split ends.

Organix Coconut Milk Leave-In Nourishing Milk

This is basically a leave-in conditioner, and it smells ah-mazing (funnily enough, like coconut milk). I carry this around with me in my bag and spritz it through my hair whenever it's starting to look a bit parched, as a bit of a refresher, and it seems to be quite nourishing. I really like the idea of using something extra in my hair after it's been washed and conditioned, as it makes me feel more confident that my hair is getting everything it needs throughout the day. Plus it smells like holidays.

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Volume Refresher
This little spray claims to revivve volume when hair falls flat, and it certainly does that. Plus, it's a dry shampoo, so what's not to love? This is another one that comes with me in my handbag, and it's great for freshening up your fringe if you have one, like I do. I always find that my fringe is the first thing to go lank or oily, and given that it's also the first thing people see when they look at me, I like to keep it looking clean and fresh!

So, those are all the new additions to my haircare routine. Now onto some that have been around a bit longer.

Tresemme 24 Hour Body Root Boosting Spray
I've got quite a lot of hair, but it is quite fine, so I need all the help I can get when it comes to volume. I spray this through my roots before blow-drying for some extra lift

L'oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil
If you saw my review on this one a couple of months ago then you'll know that I was dead against hair oils before this. I'd tried one in the past, and had hated it, feeling that it weighed my hair down and left it looking greasy. But having heard many a rave review on this stuff, I decided to give oils one last try, and I'm glad I did. I actually run a couple of pumps of this through my hair before drying it, and I really find that it helps keep my hair looking smooth and frizz-free, which has been a godsend for my frazzled ends. I also tend to smooth a bit of this on later in the day, if my locks are starting to look a bit unruly. One important thing to remember with this though, is to avoid your roots and your fringe like the plague!

Tresemme 24 Hour Body Sky High Plumping Powder
I actually don't use this one very often. While it's great at giving my roots a boost and helping me to achieve big hair, using it means my hair is in need of a wash again much sooner than it otherwise would be, so I tend to save this for special occasions. It's basically a powder that you rub into your roots and voila. It does leave my hair feeling a bit sticky though, and needs to be used sparingly.

Phew. Well, that was a long post. I hope you enjoyed having a peek into what my hair and I get up to! I will be posting full reviews of the newer additions to my regime over the next couple of weeks, so do keep your eyes open if any of them appeal to you.

Hope everyone's having a lovely Sunday!


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekend Wishlist and Last-Minute Gift Ideas

How had I not thought to look at the Christmas gift sets on Feel Unique until now!? To be honest, I'm a bit gutted that I didn't, as they have the best selection of present-worthy kits I've seen anywhere this year. with all sorts of brands, from Elemis to Crabtree and Evelyn, Burts Bees to Clarins - and all in one place. In fact, there are actually loads of gift sets on there that I haven't seen anywhere else.
So, as a result of my last-minute browsing, I've compiled a selection of gifts that I would love to receive - and hopefully they might give one or two of you some ideas if you've still got some last-minute presents to buy, and are feeling a bit stuck.
I would just like to point out that this is in no way a sponsored post - I am just genuinely really impressed with Feel Unique's selection of festive treats! There are a couple of bits from House of Fraser too ( the Shu Uemura eyelash curlers and the Nars Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil), which are not exactly designed to be Christmas gifts, but I'd be thrilled to find them in my stocking.

I love the sound of the This Works Dream Team Duo, which contains a Deep Sleep Pillow Spray and a Deep Sleep Stress Less (something like a Rescue Remedy), as anything geared towards relaxation is my cup of tea, and this is a snip at just £10. I'm also eager to get my hands on the Elemis Majestic Beauty Advanced Skincare set, as I've been meaning to try some of their skincare for a while now, particularly the Papaya Enzyme Peel, which is included in this gift. At £65, it's definitely on the pricey side, and I won't hold my breathe for this one as I am fairly sure I've already got some new Origins skincare coming from Santa :)
The Clarins Eau Dynamisante Wake Up gift set consists of an invigorating fragrance spray, moisturising body lotion and a shower gel, and while I would usually fork out for high-end body products, this would make a really nice gift - I know my mum would love it. It is £45.80 though, so again, not cheap.
The Burts Bees Tips and Toes set, Crabtree and Evelyn Hand Therapy Stocking Filler, Moroccan Oil and Macadamia gift sets and Stila palette would all make fantastic gifts too. I've been getting more into haircare lately, and am also trying to get back into wearing eyeshadow and taking better care of my hands, so these would all fit the bill nicely. And as for the Pairfum Soy Message Candle, well, who doesn't love a delightfully scented candle? This one smells of red berries, chestnuts, vanilla and nutmeg, which frankly sounds incredible, and perfect for Christmas.

So, that's the lot. Are any of these on your Christmas Wishlist, or have you picked up any of these goodies for your loved ones?
Hope everyone's having a lovely weekend!



Monday, December 10, 2012

The Beauty Blogger Tag

Why did you start blogging and how long have you been blogging for?
I published my first ever blog post on Mirror on the Wall in December 2011, but after that it was very much forgotten about, with I think maybe one or two sporadic posts within the next three months. It was only in March 2012 that I decided that I really wanted to start writing a proper blog, and so from there on I began to post regularly and haven't looked back since. 
I started blogging because I live a long way from home with my husband, and had struggled with loneliness for the past couple of years. I was browsing the internet one night, trying to find some information on what was in store at Primark at the time, and I stumbled across a Primark haul video from Youtuber Zoella. After watching some more of her videos, I was intrigued enough to visit her blog, and it spiralled from there! I found myself looking to the beauty blogosphere for information every time I wanted to purchase a new product, and eventually, after a few months, I decided I wanted to start a blog of my own. Starting Mirror on the Wall was the best thing I had done for myself since moving away and has really filled a hole for me - I only wish I'd done it sooner!

Whose blog did you fall in love with first?
Well as I mentioned before, the first one I discovered was Zoella, and I have to say, I think I read back through almost every post on there when I first stumbled upon it! At that point, I had no idea how many blogs there were out there, just waiting to be read. After that, I stumbled upon Sprinkle of Glitter, so it was very much the high-profile blogs I was reading in the beginning, though mainly because I had no idea how and where to find others.

What's the most important part about doing a blog post?
I would say it's pretty important that you really want to write the post. If you're bored doing it then it'll show! It's also important to have all the relevant information to hand if you're writing something like a review, as you do need to know what you're talking about, and I do like to see nice clear photos where possible. However, I'm very aware that great photos are easier said than done if you haven't got the right equipment, and I wouldn't be put off a blog if the author's photos were not the creme de la creme.

What camera do you use?
I use an old Samsung digital which was kindly given to me as an engagement present a few years ago. Sadly, many of the settings on it are now starting to malfunction so I am hoping that Santa might be kind enough to bring me a new one for Christmas!

What was the first blogosphere hyped about product you bought, and was it worth the hype?
Definitely the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. I'd never heard of Liz until I began reading blogs, and it was at a time when I had decided I really needed to start taking care of my skin, after years of using facewipes (I know). Cleanse and Polish was the first hot cloth cleanser I'd come across, and I loved the concept, not to mention the brand as a whole. I find it to be a lovely cleanser and one I will keep coming back to, but in spite of this I wouldn't call it a miracle product.

What are your favourite things about blogging and being a beauty blogger?
I love that I have something creative to do with my time, and I love that I have an excuse to write whenever the mood takes me. I have discovered numerous products through blogging that I wouldn't otherwise have looked twice at, too. But most of all, I love the blogging community. In the beginning, I had no idea I would be able to chat with like-minded people over Twitter, or that everyone would be so kind and supportive of each other. Of course, nothing is ever perfect and there will always be one or two who spoil it, but I can honestly say that those people are very few and far between.
Besides this, sad as it may seem, checking my comments each day is something I really look forward to, as is catching up on other bloggers' latest posts.

What have you learned from being a beauty blogger?
I've learnt that a product that works for one person won't necessarily work for everyone, and vice versa. And I've learnt not to be afraid of putting myself out there. At first, I was really nervous to publish my real name or any pictures of myself, for fear of being judged if anyone I knew were to see it. The thing is that beauty bloggers are often seen by outsiders as shallow and vacuous, which could not be further from the truth, and if I'm completely honest, even I used to think that people who posted pictures of themselves were vain and arrogant. I'm so glad that I dipped my toe in the water and discovered the truth, and I only wish that those who do not write or read blogs would be more open-minded about it.

Have you changed anything since being a beauty blogger?
I think blogging has definitely made me happier. And in terms of beauty itself, I've definitely become much better at looking after myself. I suppose I used to neglect myself a bit in some ways, as I didn't take care of my skin at all, and didn't think twice about going out of the house with chipped nail polish on. Whilst I still do so on the odd occasion where necessary, I think it's made me realise how good giving yourself a bit of TLC can make you feel. I wouldn't be without my weekly pamper nights these days. 
On the downside, I used to only buy makeup as and when I needed it, and never had more than one of anything at a time (one foundation, one blush etc.), whereas now I seem to feel the need to have ten of everything, which doesn't bode well for my bank account.

What advice would you give to a beauty blogger just starting out?
Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, and don't worry about followers! You are not a rubbish blogger if it takes you a while to gain followers, as this has been the case for every blogger out there at some point. Just write and post what you want, and they will come - slowly but surely.
Don't make the mistake of begging people to follow you, or trying to strike up a follow-for-follow deal with other bloggers, as this doesn't go down well, and for the most part I'd say it's more likely to put people off.
A great tip is to open a Twitter account for your blog, in order to chat with other bloggers. This is a great way to get to know people as well as discovering new blogs to read, and people will probably want to read yours, too.
Basically, I'd say just have fun with it, do what you want and be true to yourself. But do be polite - it's the only must.

Your favourite eyeshadow palette?
Truth be told, I'm not that much of an eyeshadow wearer. I don't think it's really my forte and I'm not all that sure it suites me either, but when I go out I do use my Urban Decay NYC palette for a more dramatic look. Actually, I've literally just started getting back into eyeshadow and am hoping to get an MUA palette or two for Christmas so that I can try my hand with them before deciding whether or not to invest in some pricier ones.

The best beauty deal?
Well, speaking of MUA palettes, it's got to be them! £3 or so for a selection of good quality eyeshadows is just fantastic. 

Makeup regrets?
I don't really have any, although perhaps I was a bit heavy handed on the black eyeliner as a teen. I sometimes regret starting to wear foundation/tinted moisturiser and concealer in the first place, as now I feel that I need them, whereas I was fine without them before!

Name your top five beauty brands!
Ooh, a toughie. I'd say Redken for hair, Liz Earle and Origins for skin and Mac and Clinique for makeup. 
It's really hard to narrow it down though as I also love Benefit...can I have six!?
This isn't really part of the question, but in terms of top lower-end/'drugstore' brands then I'd go for Revlon, L'oreal and Aussie!

Recommend your top five beauty products.
I'm cheating and doing nine, because I really love all of these:
1. Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask
2. Maybelline 25 Hour Super Stay Lip Colour
3. Redken All Soft conditioner
4. Garnier 7 Days moisturising lotion ( cheap and cheerful but really does do the job!)
5. Benefit Blush in Coralists
6. Mac MSF in Soft and Gentle
7. Mac lippies in general - my finish of choice is Amplified Creme
8. Suti Peppermint Water Organic Facial Toner
9. Origins Modern Friction
10. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish

Well. That was rather lengthier than expected. Full marks if you're still awake. If any of you would like to do this tag then please feel free - I didn't create it, and truth be told I wasn't tagged either, but I wanted to do it, so I did.

What would your top five beauty products be? Please let me know in the comments below, as I LOVE finding out about the products that people really rate and getting some ideas on what I might like to try next!

Hope you're all having a nice relaxing Sunday.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Daily Skincare and Weekly Skin Treats

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a Youtube video about my current skincare routine, and at the time, I said I would also be writing a blog post on the subject, as I know that videos are not to everyone's tastes.
So, today I'm going to be taking you through the products I use on my skin on a day to day basis, as well as those I use to give myself an extra little treat throughout the week.

Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
This is a beautiful cream cleanser, which works in much the same way as the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, in that you can massage it into your face without adding any water, before removing it with a warm muslin cloth. It's a lovely, gentle product which can even be used to remove eye makeup, and it gets off every last scrap of makeup, leaving my skin feeling smooth, clean and soft. It's packed with essential oils and nice natural ingredients, and if you know are a regular reader then you'll be aware that I'm a huge fan of organic and naturally derived skincare (you're going to see apattern throughout this post!).
I use this cleanser twice a day - once in the morning, and once in the evening, and I'd highly recommend it. Full review here..

Suti Peppermint Water Organic Facial Toner
After cleansing, I like to use this lovely, soothing toner, which comes in a spray bottle and can be either spritzed onto the face or popped onto a cotton pad and swept over the skin. personally, I prefer to spritz, as I find it really refreshing, but if I hadn't used such a thorough cleanser then I might go for the cotton pad option, just to remove any last traces of grime. 
Peppermint is really relaxing and calming, so it's great for use before bed as well as for waking up in the morning. In fact, I usually carry this one in my bag with me, as it's a great mid-afternoon pick me up for dehydrated, tight skin as well as a tired mind.
 Review here.

Spirit of Beauty Dancing Orchid Skin Balancing Moisturiser
I tend to chop and change when it comes to moisturisers, but this is the one I'm currently using. It's really light and quite liquidy/watery in consistency, and it sinks easily into the skin. It also has a pleasant orchid scent. This one doesn't have any SPF in it though, so it's not the kind I would usually go for during the day (I was lucky enough to win this), nor is it as rich as I would like for night time. It does leave my skin feeling soft and smooth though, so I'm going to continue using it until I finish the bottle.
I moisturise after cleansing and toning, both morning and evening.
Review here.

So, those are the three products I use every day, without fail. Next up are some masks and treatments I tend to use once or twice a week, to keep my skin in tip-top condition.

Origins Modern Friction
This product calls itself 'nature's gentle dermabrasion', and it's essentially just a really good, non-abrasive scrub. I tend to use this two to three times a week, and I find it to be a fantastic product. It does a much better job than any other scrubs I've tried at removing dry skin, as well as sluggish skin cells, and leaves me with glowing, healthy-looking skin. It also has a pleasant lemony scent.
You only need to use a tiny bit of this. You basically pop some onto a clean, dry face and massage it in, using little circular motions for a minute or so. After that, you can add a dash of water and keep massaging it in until you're satisfed, before rinsing and patting your face dry with a towel.
Review here.

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask
This is my favourite facemask, and is fantastic at giving the skin a deep-down clean. To use, I steam my face for a few minutes over a bowl of hot water to open my pores, and then slather some of the mask on. It dries rock-solid in about ten minutes, so much so that I can barely move my face with it on. I then soak a muslin cloth in hot water and lay it over your face, allowing it to soak up some of the mask.  I repeat this a few more times before using the cloth to remove any residue.
It might seem that I use this in a very specific way, but actually this is how the instructions suggest you do it for the best results.
I use this mask twice a week and it leaves my pores looking so clean - in fact, after the first use I was pretty impressed because I hadn't realised my pores weren't clean beforehand! It doesn't completely rid me of those stubborn blocked pores on my nose, but it certainly does make them easier to remove, which is more than any other masks I've tried.

Ren Glycolactic Skin Peel Mask
This one both looks and smells like marmalade, thanks to the fruit acids it contains. It's not what I'd call a classic peel mask, in that it doesn't dry or peel off, but it does gently exfoliate and slough away any old skin cells, leaving me with a lovely, glowing complexion. Usually I find that I don't notice the difference until the next day, but it's certainly nice to wake up with lovely skin. I love the fact that Ren prides itself on using all-natural active ingredients, and it really makes me feel confident using their products.
I usually only use this one about once a week, but that's mainly because I only have a travel-size tube and am trying to make it last.
Review here.

Origins Gin Zing Eye Cream
This is a little extra that I use on a daily basis, though if you read my review of it (HERE) then you'll know that I'm not overly impressed with it. I bought it in order to reduce puffiness and the appearance of dark circles, and I don't feel that it does a lot for either of these causes. But still, as a basic eye cream I do find it quite nice and hydrating, and it does brighten the under-eye area a little. As I've spent good money on it, I'll continue to use it, as I am not planning on wasting any more pennies on trying out eye creams for dark circles.
I pat this on in the morning, usually at the same time as moisturising, and although I'd usually go for more of an anti-ageing eye cream before bed, I don't currently have one, so I've been going with this.
Review here.

So, there you have it - my current skincare routine in all it's glory. I have to say, it's really doing the job for me, as my skin is much brighter, clearer and smoother than it has been in some while. I have always had pretty good skin anway, but until I implemented this routine I had been getting breakouts around my chin for a while, which had been really bothering me. Thankfully, it's rare that I get a spot these days, but when I do I usually dab them with Propolis, as I find that this gets rid of them pretty sharpish!

I hope you enjoyed reading.
Have you tried any of these skincare products? If so, what did you think?
Which skincare products do you swear by?


Please leave a comment, I read every last word and love hearing your views! It really brightens up my day.

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