Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: L'oreal Professionel Mythic Oil Hair Masque

I'd heard lots of good things about the L'oreal Mythic Oil, and being a fan of the very similar Extraordinary Oil, which I use on my damp locks every time after I've washed my hair to help tame frizz and keep them looking smooth, I was excited to try the L'oreal Professionnel Mythic Oil Hair Masque.
The masque, which is suitable for all hair types, aims to transform the condition of the hair in just three minutes, leaving it glossy, nourished and soft to the touch. With an enriched formula of argan, avocado, cottonseed and grapeseed oil blends, it does its best to replenish tired, dull and lifeless hair and get it looking back to its best.
Personally, I've suffered quite a lot with dry and damaged hair since originally having it ombred early last year, so I was really looking for a treatment that would help to soften up my ends and put some oomph back into my locks. So far, nothing I'd tried had made a major impact, and any improvements I had noticed were short-lived, as my ends were soon back to looking pretty dry and frazzled.
The treatment comes in a plastic tub with a screw top, making it easily accessible when in the shower or bath (and no worries about any product getting stuck in the bottom and going to waste). It's a thick, creamy and dense in consistency, making it feel quite luxurious, and it spreads easily and distributes evenly when combed through the hair or run through with the fingers.
While wet, the hair feels like silk, and while it did leave my hair feeling in better condition after the first use, I couldn't help but think that three minutes wasn't enough time for a deep-conditioning product to really do its work. After playing around with it a little bit and experimenting with leaving it on for longer and using it more often, I've found that I get the best results when I stick to roughly the recommended three minutes, but use it more regularly as a normal conditioner rather than just once or twice a week. It's definitely made my hair softer and more manageable, and along with a couple of other hair products I've been using it has really helped to combat that dryness. I'd say that the effect has been cumulative, as it does seem to have improved over time.

The L'oreal Professionnel Mythic Oil Hair costs £17.95 for 200ml, and is available from Look Fantastic.

Have you tried this hair mask, or do you have another favourite you'd recommend for dry, colour-treated hair? I'm always open to suggestions and am currently on the look-out for a new leave-in conditioner too...any thoughts?

Hope everyone's enjoying their week so far.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: Elemental Herbology Eye Elixir

I'm sure I've mentioned countless times before on this blog how dark circles and under-eye puffiness are pretty much the bane of my life. Up until about a year ago I was more or less problem free in that respect, then all of a sudden, I woke up one day and everything had changed. It's not that I have particularly bad dark circles, but they are certainly noticeable, so since it all started I've tried out a number of different eye creams, all to no avail. Origins Gin Zing did help a little bit, but nothing to write home about - in fact, I only realised it had been doing some sort of good when I stopped using it for a time.
As if dark circles and puffiness aren't enough, I then began to realise that I have developed some under-eye creases and crinkles, so I embarked upon a split routine, trying to attack the former with my morning eye cream and the latter in the evenings, but it was all a bit of a disappointment.
So, when I stumbled upon the Elemental Herbology Eye Elixir, which promises to fight dark circles, puffiness and fine lines all in one go, I was straight online hunting for the best bargain I could find! It really is a rarity to find an eye product that can combat all three, and with eye creams not exactly coming cheap this seemed like the perfect solution. An added bonus was that I was eager to try out some more products from Elemental Herbology, so it was pretty much a win-win.

So, onto the review.

Elemental Herbology pride themselves on their nutritious, indulgent and high-performing products, using patented bio-active ingredients and sophisticated technologies to produce visible results. Rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids, all products feed and nurture the skin with everything it needs to restore vibrance and vitality, as well as helping to keep individual skin complaints under control. Not only do these ingredients help to counteract the effects of the environment, but they also help to fight against the damage done by ageing and lifestyle.
Packed with lots of lovely, natural ingredients, Elemental Herbology was always going to be right up my street, so I couldn't wait to add the Eye Elixir to both my morning and evening routines. 100% free of mineral oils, synthetic fragrances and colours, sulphates and paraben preservatives, this is something that always sits well with me, as I like to know exactly what I'm putting on my skin and try my best to avoid unnecessary chemicals or comedogenic (pore clogging) ingredients where possible. Even better, Elemental Herbology never test on animals, which again I think is something really important, and it's nice to see some brands still holding their own on this one.
The main active ingredients in the Eye Elixir are plant peptides, hematite and blue algae, all of which contribute to the firming, tightening, lifting and nourishing properties. It comes in a little glass bottle with a pump dispenser - something that really appeals to me as it's so much more hygienic than repeatedly dipping your fingers in the same pot time and again.
The Elixir is an off-white cream of lotion consistency, and has the most wonderful herbal scent (all natural, of course). I do find that the pump dispenses a little bit more product than I would personally choose, but luckily my under-eye area drinks it right up regardless. Half a pump is all that's required, and I dot it around the inner aspect of my orbital bone before gently tapping it in with my ring fingers.

So, the burning question. Does it really work?

You all know how much of a skeptic I am when it comes to eye creams, having been disappointed by them time and again in the past. But I have to say, the Elemental Herbology Eye Elixir has somewhat changed my stance on the matter! It does a great job of hydrating my under-eye area and leaving it silky smooth and soft, but even better - and more astonishingly, in my eyes - it really, genuinely has helped to diminish my dark circles and puffiness quite noticeably. How can I be so sure? Well, one day I just looked in the mirror and was shocked to find that I barely had any signs of darkness under my eyes, and since then I have found that I've almost completely forgotten about such woes. I used to feel like crying in the mornings, when no amount of concealer could disguise anything, but this stuff really has made a big difference. Sadly - and there's always a but, isn't there? - I can't say that I've noticed any difference whatsoever when it comes to fine lines, but taking into consideration my past experience, two out of three certainly isn't bad!
I'm definitely going to be repurchasing this when I run out, which hopefully won't be any time soon. At £40 for 15ml this most certainly doesn't come cheap, so while I got mine on special offer at half that price, I'm going to find it really difficult to part with the cash when I reach the bottom of my bottle. In fact, I'll definitely be waiting until I can get it on sale! Still, at least I know that it does do the job, and on that basis it's worth it

You can find the Elemental Herbology Eye Elixir on their website, and also at Feel Unique.

Have you tried anything from Elemental Herbology?
Would you recommend any of their other products? I can't wait to try more, and already have their Weekend Facial gift set to tell you all about before long.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Catch-Up

This week has consisted mostly of receiving belated birthday goodies in the post, and then wearing/using them! 
I finally received a package my mum had sent over pushing five weeks ago - if that's not ridiculously slow then I don't know what is, especially since it was outside the UK within the first few days. It seems that as soon as packages arrive in Brazil, they are just tossed to the bottom of some big old pile and forgotten about for a few weeks before eventually being sent onwards - most annoying when you are in dire need of replacement of skincare etc. and were led to believe you had planned far enough in advance, as you can imagine. I'm still waiting on a new cleanser that my mother also sent over in a different package, but that one hasn't shown up yet, so goodness knows where it is. On the upside thought, all these sporadic arrivals mean that most weeks I get something to brighten things up a bit, rather than getting it all in one go and being done with it!
This weekend has been a bit of a mix. On Friday, I was off, and started off feeling so motivated that I was able to get loads of stuff done, including boring housework, more enjoyable blog posts and Youtube videos, and the Jillian Michaels Fat Boost Metabolism Work Out. I do my own interval training anyway, but I do like to follow videos on those days where I feel less motivated or, in this case am lacking a bit of inspiration, as it can get quite boring when you do the same routines all the time, and in turn that tends to make me more prone to taking days off from it. I've done the 30 Day Shred videos a few times, mainly because they've been so talked about that I was intrigued as to what they were all about, but this time I felt like doing some high-intensity cardio and mixing it up a bit.
So it started off well, but then we popped out for a couple of cocktails in the evening, so I wasn't feeling my best the next day. I don't really drink very often any more, so when I do I'm a bit of a light-weight and it doesn't take much! Ha. All I really managed to do on Saturday was make tacos for dinner, which were pretty darn good if I do say so myself! Actually, I picked up a kit containing the shells and a spice mix at the supermarket, which was a first - usually it's near-on impossible to find any sort of international food where I am at the moment, so it was a bit of a treat. I pretty much just ate and watched Youtube videos after that, so not the most productive of days! I did, however, manage a bit of a pamper session with my two current favourite face masks - the Elemental Herbology Facial Glow Radiance Peel and the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask - both absolute treats.
I woke up feeling a bit lazy on Sunday too, so didn't do much in the morning, but later on I found some energy and since then have written up four blog posts and done the Jillian Michael's video again, so I've finished just as well as I started. Fingers crossed I can keep it up.

Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekend Wishlist

Crop Tee, Topshop  //  Light Optimising Primer Broad Spectrum SPF15, Nars  //  Ombre Bracelets, New Look  //  Boots, Office  //  Lip Bullet in Covet, Topshop  //  Bracelet, Topshop  //  Pierre Hardy for Nars Blush Palette in Boys Don't Cry, Nars  //  Satin Lip Pencil in Lodhi, Nars  //   Nails in Aurora, Topshop

Why hello, hope everyone is having an awesome weekend so far! I don't work on Fridays, so mine started yesterday, but I'll save that for tomorrow's round-up post.
I'm feeling quite satisfied at the moment in terms of beauty products, clothes and accessories, as within the last month or so I have acquired quite the selection of goodies. As you probably know by now, I did do a liiittle bit of shopping for my birthday, and obviously I was lucky enough to receive some presents as well, so I'm pretty much sorted for the time being. That said, there are certain websites that will always have something that will tickle my pickle, so of course when browsing on the Nars website earlier in the week there were one or two things that caught my eye. I'm missing a primer in my makeup routine, and the Light Optimising Primer Broad Spectrum SPF15 sounds like just my cup of tea, as I'm a sucker for anything that aids or promotes radiance, which this one promises to. I've also quite fancied trying out the Satin Lip Pencils since they came out, and Lodhi seems to be the perfect spring peach shade. Last but not least, I couldn't help but notice the selection of blushes by Pierre Hardy. It's not that I need another one, but there's just something so appealing about Nars blushes, especially when they come in such pretty designs.
I would really love to add some new boots to my wardrobe for spring, preferably something a bit more in-keeping with the season and the colour palette I'm most likely to be embracing, which is mainly made up of pastels. These gorgeous crochet boots from Office are just the ticket, and I think they're so unique.
Other than that, I was bound to be tempted by a few bits from Topshop - mainly the gorgeous multi-tonal Aurora nail polish - and New Look. I've spent so much time admiring statement necklaces of late that arm attire seems to have taken a back seat, so I don't currently have much in the way of bracelets and feel the need for a bit of an update.
I hope everyone's been enjoying the warmer weather - if that'snot the perfect excuse to crack out the spring wardrobe then I don't know what is!
What's on your wishlist this week?

Have a lovely weekend.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Maybelline Moisture Extreme Lipstick in Play Peach

I'm usually more of a Mac or Topshop girl when it comes to lipsticks, but a month or two ago I was browsing a bit more locally, in search of the perfect Spring peach lipstick, when I stumbled upon the Maybelline Moisture Extreme Matte Lipstick in the shade Peach Play. Obviously with Maybelline's reasonable prices I didn't hesitate to pick it up, and having already tried and enjoyed one of the normal Moisture Extreme formulations in Sugar Plum (a lovely warm nude) I was intrigued to see how this one would measure up.
From the very first application it was love. Although I'd originally been after more of a pastel, nudey peach, the moment I swiped this on my lips I knew that it would become one of my most reached for lipsticks as we head into Spring and Summer. It's a bright, vibrant peach, quite orange but with a hint of pinky red which makes it far more wearable for those of you with paler skin, or anyone who is a little bit nervous about going for anything too full-on. It's just such a flattering colour and really warms up my face when I have it on. It makes me think of juicy fruit and refreshing summery cocktails,and in my eyes that can only be a good thing!

Wear-wise, it definitely stays put a bit longer than the normal formulation, and was still going strong after I'd had my morning cuppa today. Obviously it does start to fade a bit more if you're a constant water-guzzler like me, but it does so pretty evenly so you're not left with any patchiness. Saying that, being matte it's not the most forgiving when it comes to dry patches on the lips, so a good exfoliation beforehand is definitely in order.
Over all, a really lovely lip colour that's perfect for sunny days, and one that has firmly secured it's place in my makeup bag.

What are your must-haves lip products for Spring?


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughts on Life: Looking on the Bright Side

I can be a bit of a Negative Nancy at times. It's not that I'm defeatist by nature - definitely not. I'm always looking to the future and hoping and working for the best. But when certain situations just keep cropping up and getting you down, or you keep getting knocked back instead of moving forward, I think it's only natural for patience to wear a bit thin and to start assuming the worst or feeling like giving up. I've often looked at people who seem to be able to just let things wash over them, and wonder how on earth they do it. Those people who don't seem to get annoyed by anything, or anyone. Personally, if I'm feeling on edge in the first place then it doesn't take much - noise, rudeness and long queues have all been known to set me off into a bit of a disproportionate grumble or, dare I say it, even rage. Sometimes I just end up stressing myself out about the little things in life (as I'm sure we all do at times), and last week I stumbled upon a quote that said something along the lines of: "The only one who suffers when you sweat the small stuff is you", or words to that effect. It really made me stop and think, because really it is just so true. If someone is rude to you and doesn't say please or thank you, the chances are that afterwards, they will simply carry on with their day and think no more about it, while you are the one sitting there stewing about it. Why should this person - this rude person - get to dictate your day? Why give them the power to turn you into a walking storm cloud for the rest of the day? This is just one example, but it fits with so many situations.

Another quote I came across, around the same time said, more or less, that the only person responsible for the way you feel is yourself, and at the time I found it really hard to get my head around. Surely if someone is winding you up or being deliberately uncooperative then they are the ones to blame? How could they not be? The thing is though, the quote was right, and I've read books on psychology which have said the same thing. It's not just a nice philosophy, it's actually fact. Yep, someone can absolutely irritate the hell out of us, should they choose to do so. But is it really necessary to take the bait, and to react? If you know full well that someone's intention is to get to you, then why allow yourself to be drawn into their plan? I'm a terrible one for this, and I fall for it every single time. I'm not trying to say that nothing anyone does to you has any effect - I wouldn't believe that for a second myself. But in all honesty, we do have some control over it, and what we choose to do with whatever it is we're faced with. And we know it.

On Monday, I decided it was time to take action. I don't want to feel unnecessarily stressed out all the time, and I don't want to feel negative about things when there is no need. In fact, I don't even want to feel that way when there is need, because where there's a will there's a way. If we don't get somewhere the way we originally planned, it doesn't mean that we won't get there. Sometimes you just have to take a different route.
I've actually downloaded a couple of apps for my phone, so that now, whenever I can feel myself starting to feel stressed, upset or negative, I can just crack them out and bombard myself with a bit of positivity. It's been really effective so far, and I'm enjoying finding out how infectious a good rosy outlook can be. Maybe it's just the distraction, but either way, it does the job.
Another thing I'm trying to do is to mull things over before reacting. If I receive some bad news, or someone says something unkind or hurtful, instead of immediately saying exactly how I feel about it, I'm keeping quiet, thinking about it rationally and deciding what to do about it. It's easier said than done at first, I'll give you that. But again, it works, because if you give it half an hour then quite often it won't seem all that important any more. Of course, there will be some occasions where expressing yourself will be unavoidable, and that's fine. But more often than not, it can wait.

So, that's my little plan of action towards being more of a Positive Polly in the face of adversity! I shall let you know how it goes.

What do you do to stay looking on the bright side of life?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask

Ever since I first heard about this face mask, I knew it would be right up my street. I had been eager to try natural and organic New Zealand skincare brand Antipodes for such a long time, but due to other skincare needs, adding to my face mask collection got bumped down the list in favour of replacing cleansers (my first foray into Antipodes was with their Grapeseed Butter Cleanser - review here), serums and other daily necessities. So, when my birthday rolled around at the beginning of the month, I already knew what was top of my list, and I finally received the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask.
Antipodes products are vegetarian approved and cruelty free, as well as containing a high level of certified organic ingredients (in order for an entire product to be certified organic it must contain 70-95% organic ingredients, so while only a selection of Antipodes products are able to bear this stamp, the others are not far off at all).
What really drew me in when it comes to the brand is the list of delicious-sounding ingredients their products boast, such as manuka honey, avocado oil and vinanza grape extract - don't they just sound good enough to eat? 
The Aura Manuka Honey Mask is no exception, with the main ingredient being, unsurprisingly, manuka honey. A traditional remedy of New Zealand Maori people, it really packs a punch, drawing moisture to the skin which in turn aids hydration, as well as having powerful anti-bacterial properties which are just what the doctor ordered when it comes to stopping blemishes in their tracks. Also packed with nutrient-rich avocado oil and ruby red pohutukawa bloom, one of nature's finest antioxidants, this multi-tasking marvel promises to cover all the bases. 
The instructions advise smoothing on a thick layer at sunset at least twice a week, although it's gentle enough to be used on a daily basis. You leave it on for fifteen minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Personally, I tend to use this 2-3 times a week, as while I do like to keep my face masks as a treat, this one is just so divine I can't seem to leave it alone, and I really look forward to taking off my makeup, cleansing and popping a layer on when I get home from work. The smell is absolutely incredible, with fragrance of vanilla pod and mandarin, and while quite thick and creamy, a light layer is all that's required to give the skin that much-needed boost. It appears transparent on the skin, and I have to say that the very first time I tried it I was absolutely amazed by its calming, relaxing properties. Antipodes do say that the scent brings peace and balance to the aura, and I couldn't agree more. There is a very slight tingle that lets me know the mask is getting to work, and I really do mean it when I say that the fifteen minutes I leave this on are fifteen minutes of pleasure. It's definitely not one of those masks that has you watching the clock until it's time to take it off, and if anything I find myself leaving it on for longer.
When I remove the mask, my skin feels silky-soft and hydrated, and this has definitely been playing a part in soothing my blemishes and keeping them a bit more under control. I tend to use it straight after the Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Mask, and together they have made a world of difference to my recently un-cooperative skin. Afterwards, my skin looks glowing and healthy, and any redness has been greatly diminished.

 What can I say? This is the most delightful addition to my skincare collection in quite some time, and has shot straight to the top of my list of most-loved face-masks. It's a pleasure to use, and a great multi-tasker. Having only used a  fraction of the tube up, I'm already thinking about re-ordering, as it's quickly become one of those go-to products I don't ever want to find myself without! I absolutely love it, and every application is a real experience for the senses as well as the skin.

The Antipodes Aura Manuka Mask is available from Feel Unique at £21.50 for 75ml.

Have you tried anything from Antipodes? If so, what were your thoughts?
Are you a fan of natural skincare brands?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ingredients Exposed #2: Comedogenic Critters

Well hello, and welcome back to part two of my 'Ingredients Exposed' series. If you missed part 1 then you can get the low-down on the chemical nasties in our beauty products by clicking here.
Today the spotlight is on natural skincare, and the comedogenic critters that get into our pores, clog them up and cause breakouts - which, let's be honest, nobody wants. Now, I'm not trying to put anyone off anything here, and as you know, I'm a big fan of natural skincare myself. However, recently, after twenty-something years of pretty well-behaved skin, I suddenly began suffering from quite intense breakouts on my chin, and after a bit of digging I was able to shed some light on one or two ingredients that might well have been the culprits. In doing so, I discovered a whole host of other potentially comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients that are often found in skincare, so I thought it was a good idea to get them out in the open.
Before we get started, I'd just like to point out that not all of these ingredients are definitely going to give you a face-full of blemishes - different skins seem to be able to deal with them in different ways, and lots of these are really lovely and nourishing if yours can cope with them. So please don't go binning your most beloved cleanser/serum/moisturiser/etc. if you've never had any problems with it and you spy one of these on the ingredients list!

Coconut Oil is often touted as something of a miracle oil, and along with a whole host of health benefits it is often used for a number of beauty reasons. Many people swear by coconut oil, both as a conditioning hair treatment (didn't do much for me) and a moisturiser, but personally when I used this on my body I had a terrible breakout all over my back and chest. Needless to say, I didn't make the same mistake again, but recently I started using a new cleanser and began to suffer from countless blemishes on my face. As this was unusual for me, I had a little look at the ingredients list and could have kicked myself when I saw 'coconut oil' on there, staring back at me.
When ingredients are tested for their comedogenic level, they are ranked on a scale of 1-5, and this received a 4 - needless to say, it's actually one of the worst offenders! Cocoa Butter and Coconut Butter also score a 4, and are found in a wide range of body moisturisers, which don't usually cause any problems. But be mindful when popping these on your face, as while they are extremely moisturising, the skin on your face is much more sensitive and more likely to react if something doesn't agree with it.
Look out for oils such as cotton seed oil, mink oil, soy bean oil and hydrogenated vegetable oil, which all score a 3. I'm actually quite shocked to think that there are brands who would use hydrogenated vegetable oil, as we spend so much of our time trying to eliminate such bad fats from our diets. If you wouldn't eat it, then why on earth would you want to put it on your skin!? It's basically natural vegetable oil that has had metal added to it as a catalyst and hydrogen forced through it, and consists primarily of triglycerides of fatty acids. is often used in skincare as well as a variety of other beauty products. Essentially, it creates a barrier on the skin's surface that slows the loss of moisture, leaving skin feeling more hydrated. Sounds good, but at the same time it's clogging up those pores, which will inevitably result in breakouts.
Sulfated castor oil and sulfated jojoba oil also both score a 3 on the comedogenic scale, while wheatgerm oil scores a whopping 5.
There are really so many ingredients that it would be impossible to go through them all individually, so instead I have popped a table below for you with all the oils, waxes and botanicals to look out for next time you're updating your beauty collection.
(Excuse the lay-out, for some reason it just didn't want to sit centrally!)

0 - Will Not Clog Pores
1 - Low
2 - Moderately Low
3 - Moderate
4 - Fairly High
5 - High


Almond Oil - 2 
Apricot Kernel Oil - 2 
Avocado Oil - 2 
Camphor - 2 
Castor Oil - 1 
Cocoa Butter - 4 
Coconut Butter - 4 
Coconut Oil - 4 
Corn Oil - 3 
Cotton Seed Oil - 3 
Evening Primrose Oil - 2 
Grape Seed Oil - 2 
Hemp Seed Oil - 0 
Mineral Oil - 0 
Mink Oil - 3 
Olive Oil - 2 
Peanut Oil - 2 
Petrolatum - 0 
Safflower Oil - 0 
Sandalwood Seed Oil - 2 
Sesame Oil - 2 
Shea Butter - 0 
Soybean Oil - 3 
Sunflower Oil - 0 
Wheat Germ Oil - 5 
Shark Liver Oil - 3 


Beeswax - 2 
Candelilla Wax - 1 
Carnuba Wax - 1 
Ceresin Wax - 0 
Emulsifying Wax NF - 2 
Jojoba Oil - 2 
Lanolin Wax - 1 
Sulfated Jojoba Oil - 3 


Algae Extract - 5 
Aloe Vera Gel - 0 
Calendula - 1 
Carrageenans - 5 
Chamomile - 2 
Chamomile Extract - 0 
Cold Pressed Aloe - 0 
Red Algae - 5 

I hope this has been useful, and that perhaps you've learned something new. Just remember, you really don't need to go binning all your best products over it, but do be aware of what you are using and if your skin starts acting up over something new then hopefully you'll have some idea where to start in solving the mystery.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF20

The Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF20 is a gem that's been lurking in my collection for a while now, and yet for some reason I haven't quite got around to reviewing it yet. Actually, doing so now is probably a little bit unconventional, as although Summer is on its way I've actually been using this for the past few months, and am only now starting to leave it in my drawer in favour of products that offer a bit more coverage. So a bit back to front, but this is what you have to deal with when your skin goes from being fine one minute to, well, not so fine the next. One thing I can say though, is that's it not a reflection on the product itself at all, and I'm looking forward to working this back into my routine on a more regular basis whenever my skin decided to cooperate.

There are a couple of versions of the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser available, including an oil free one, but today I'm reviewing just the bog standard version, in the shade Sand.
Generally, I tend to wear tinted moisturisers throughout the warmer months, so the fact that this comes complete with SPF20 makes it ideal for the upcoming season. Personally, I like to use a tinted moisturiser on holidays and at the beach, which I know may be frowned upon by some, but I don't see why not - I'm going to need some sun protection on my face one way or another, and if I can even out my complexion while in the process then why not? For the record, that's pretty much all I do pop on on such occasions, and I have found that it serves both purposes very well.
The formula blends like a dream, and Sand is pretty perfect for my skin-tone, which is roughly an NW25, if anyone is wondering how the shades match up. It is obviously pretty sheer in terms of coverage, but it definitely does even things out a bit and I find that it leaves me looking quite fresh-faced and healthy, which is why I'm happy to opt for this alone when my skin is behaving itself - along with a bit of concealer for my dark circles and any remnants of past blemishes, of course.
The down-side? Well, it doesn't exactly come cheap, at £33 for a full-size 40ml tube (available here) and the flip-side of it containing SPF means you are left open to the inevitable ghost-face in photographs. Personally it doesn't bother me all that much though, as if I'm going out and want to look my best for pictures then I simply choose another alternative - I usually want something with a bit more coverage in such events anyway, for maximum flawless effect.

So that's my summer skin sorted, blemish permitting, of course! Do you change up your makeup for the warmer months? If so, what's your tinted moisturiser or foundation of choice?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Daily Face: Changing it Up

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF20 in Sand
Mac Pro Longwear Concealer in NC30
MUA Bronzed Perfection Bronzer
Nars Blush in Deep Throat
Clinique Liquid Highlighter
Maybelline Dream Matte Powder
MUA Pro Brow Kit
Vivo Colour Block (shades 5 and 10)
L'oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara
Mac Lipstick in Impassioned

Hello lovelies, hope everyone is having the most wonderful weekend.
Today's post would usually be the Sunday Catch-Up, which is a weekly round up based on my Instagram photos, but as this has been a particularly uneventful week and I've barely uploaded any pictures, I thought I'd pop up something else instead, so here is what is on my face today.
As usual, you'll see I've gone for my daily staples, the MUA Pro Brow Kit and Bronzed Perfection Bronzer (although saying that, I've barely picked up the bronzer over the past week or so as I've been using something else - more on that later), and I've also chosen one of my favourite blushes, Nars Deep Throat.
In terms of eye make-up, I've mixed it up a bit and gone for the Vivo Colour Block palette to create a subtle neutral eye, and I'm also giving the L'oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara a go. I have to say though, it's not for me - I much prefer the length and separation I get from the L'oreal Volume Million Lashes mascara, and as you may already know, I'm a loyal fan. The Telescopic mascara seems to give the appearance of fewer lashes, if anything, with no enhancement when it comes to length - or volume, for that matter. I know lots of people do like this, and I can see that it might be quite nice for those who prefer a really pared-down look lash-wise, but it's not really what I look for.
Base-wise, I'm wearing my trusty Laura Mercier SPF20 Tinted Moisturiser in the shade Sand, a product I will often go for but that has been relegated to the back of my makeup drawer of late thanks to my uncooperative skin (I definitely need a bit more coverage when I'm suffering from breakouts, but things are looking a bit more normal around here today).
I dug out my Clinique Uplighting Liquid Illuminator in shade 01 Natural to give my cheekbones a pretty glow - a product I haven't used in such a long time. I'm quite loyal to my Mac MSFs, but as with the mascara, I fancied trying something different, and I really like the results.
Last but not least (this is not at all in order of application, I think I've got a bit carried away here!), I popped on a bit of my Mac Pro Longwear Concealer to disguise those pesky dark circles and leftover blemishes, and finished my t-zone with a dusting of the Maybelline Dream Matte Powder. Frankly, I'm not really a fan - I find it quite on the chalky side, and I don't find that it does much in the way of keeping oiliness at bay.

So that's the lot - a few staples, and a few more 'experiments'. I think the mascara and powder will be going straight back where I found them, but the highlighter might be making a bit of a come-back :)

What's on your face today?


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekend Wishlist: The Zara Edition

// All from Zara //

Following my little shopping trip which resulted in many a Zara purchase last weekend, I'm finding myself a little bit obsessed with the place. There are so many gorgeous pieces I wish I had picked up, and every time I pop onto their website I find myself tempted even further. The funny thing is, although I've always liked Zara, it's never really been a shop that particularly excited me, yet now I can't get enough of it. I really think the quality and variety have come on leaps and bounds over the past year or so, and there are now so many iconic pieces being churned out it's hard to keep up. What I really love about Zara is how well-made their pieces are, and the way in which they are able to keep up with the trends while still remaining chic and sophisticated. I know that anything I buy from Zara will last me years, so I'm not all that put-out by the prospect of forking out for a blazer or handbag - when it comes to classic, timeless pieces I'd rather pay that little bit more than go for a cheap option that's going to fall apart in five minutes. I save the likes of Primark for the fast fashion and rapidly moving trends, which it does so well.
At the moment I'm mostly craving brightly coloured blazers. I love how they can be dressed up or down, and a good pop of colour is all that's needed to take a monochrome outfit into Spring. I'm also lusting after a really good quality handbag, as I tend to chop and change quite easily and as a result usually pick up cheaper options that don't quite stand the test of time. I'm after a spacious neutral or black bag that has plenty of space for all the junk I cart around, but that is also easy to organise so I don't find myself having to rummage it through it for my phone or purse, which would inevitably be residing right at the bottom. Of course, while seeking out such bags, it was impossible not to be drawn in by one or two of the brighter, more ornate looking clutches. There are some gorgeous beaded and embellished numbers in at the moment, and being the sort of girl who usually throws caution to the wind and just grabs whatever's prettiest, I'm going to have to exercise some restraint!
Footwear-wise, I'm looking to update my collection with some bright boots and shoes, and I must admit that I'm still partial to a bit of animal print or stud detailing. I know they've been done to death by now, but I love the fact that shops and designers are still coming up with new variations and managing to keep things fresh. I'm quite happy to see these trends continuing on into the next season, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they are going to be combined with more traditional Spring/Summer styles, as well as the lighter, fresher colour palette of pastels and pretty brights.
Last but not least, there are some stunning statement necklaces in for the warmer months, and personally I love to keep a stash of these to brighten up basics, as I find that they help me to get so many more outfits out of my wardrobe, and get me wearing items I might otherwise cast aside or reject as being a bit boring.

Have you popped into Zara lately? If so, what caught your eye?


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: Nourish Argan Skin Rescue*

Everyone knows, without a doubt, how much I love skincare that uses lots of lovely natural and organic ingredients, so when the lovely people at Nourish asked me if I'd like to try some of their products, I jumped at the chance.
Nourish believe that the way our skin ages and the condition it is in comes down not only to our core skin-types, but also to the lives we lead - it's not just internal factors that have an affect, but external ones, to. With this in mind, Nourish have come up with a natural anti-ageing range to optimise the skin's health around the lives that we lead, as well as providing it with all the daily care it needs.
I was very kindly sent the Nourish Balance Mini Kit*, which I will be reviewing within the next week or so, and along with that came the Argan Skin Rescue*(90% organic) - a product I was really excited to try, as face oils were new to me.
The Argan Skin Rescue* is a natural collagen enhancer, designed to protect skin from the signs of ageing, as well as restoring it when it's not quite at it's best and is in need of a little extra help. Not only does it combat the signs of wrinkes and lines by strengthening the protein bonding structures, but it also keeps the skin plump and hydrated and helps to reduce any red marks and scarring left behind by skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.
One of the key ingredients in this oil treatment is Moroccan Argan oil, which I'm sure most of us are no stranger to. It's renowned for it's skin rejuvenating properties, though personally I had only ever tried it on my hair, so I was intrigued to see what it could do for my face. Rich in essential fatty acids such as Omega 6, and protective anti-oxidant vitamin E, it leaves skin supple and resilient, while Abyssinian oil moisturises and provides the skin with much-needed nutrients for a firmer, smoother appearance.
All this, and a patented anti-inflammatory ginger extract, which aims to reduce the damaging effects of environmental pollution.

When this arrived on my doorstep, my skin was definitely a little bit distressed - I'd been suffering from a sudden, unexplained breakout on my chin area, resulting in some angry, red blemishes, and lots of marks left behind to boot. On top of this, my skin was in dire need of some extra moisture, as I'd cut right back on my skincare in order to try and discover what was causing the issues.
The Nourish Argan Skin Rescue is best applied to damp skin, as it absorbs more easily, and personally I tend to reserve it for my evening skincare routine, as the skin tends to do most of it's regenration and repair at night. You could use it in the morning too, if you wanted to, but personally I think it wouldn't work as well for me, especially with having to apply makeup over the top.
One or two pumps is all you need, and after pressing it into my skin, I spend a minute or so gently massaging it in, using circular motions. It smells really lovely, so it's a pleasure to use, and it does sink in quite easily if you take the time to apply it properly.

The Verdict:
Within just a couple of days of using this, along with the Nourish Balance Range, my stubborn blemishes had already diminished considerably, and my skin was plump, soft and smooth. The breakout did return, but as I've since established this is a hormonal thing, it's not something that skincare could be expected to banish completely. I have got noticeably fewer red marks, and the oil has definitely helped to keep things under control and soothe the skin. 
I'm genuinely really happy with this product, and will definitely be repurchasing, as I think it's a great treatment to have on hand. I'm now trying to settle down into a more consistent routine with my skincare, rather than chopping and changing every two seconds and confusing the life out of my skin, and this is something that has definitely made the cut.

The Argan Skin Rescue retails at £18.95 for 15ml, and is availble from the Nourish website and Feel Unique.

Have you tried anything from Nourish?
What did you think?


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New in: Birthday Beauty Bits

Hello everyone, I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about all-things birthday-related by now, but I have one last post to share with you, and that is the beauty bits I was lucky enough to receive. Now, I have already uploaded a video on this to my Youtube channel, but as I know that some of you prefer to read about things instead I thought I'd pop up some pictures and tell you all about them here, too. If, however, you do fancy a cheeky watch of the video then here it is below. If not then keep reading :)


First up, I finally got my mitts on the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask. I actually ordered this one well in advance, as I've had my eye on it for the longest time. It contains lots of lovely ingredients like avocado oil, and smells of vanilla and mandarin, which frankly is just divine. It's really a moisture mask, but the anti-bacterial properties of the manuka honey make it great for blemishes, too.
Continuing on the theme of skincare,  also got the Elemental Herbology Eye Elixir, and so far I'm absolutely loving it. It's so rare to find an eye cream that offers to fight dark circles, puffiness and fine lines all in one go, let alone one that actually delivers, and so far this one has definitely impressed. Plus, it has a lovely herbal scent, which is always a bonus in my eyes.
Lastly for skincare, my lovely mother got me the Elemental Herbology Weekend Facial set, which consists of their Facial Detox mask, Facial Glow Radiance Peel and Biodynamic Souffle, which is an overnight moisture mask. So far I've only used the first two once, so I will keep you posted, but so far I like them a lot.
Moving onto makeup, the hubby took me birthday shopping at the weekend, so it was only natural that I'd pop into Mac. I went in looking to come away with a Paint Pot in either Bare Study or Groundwork, and in the end I went with Groundwork. If you're not sure what these are then they are basically cream pigments which can be used either as an eyeshadow base or on their own, and I've been enjoying using mine solo as an easy every-day eye colour. While there, I was inevitably tempted by the lipsticks, and soon foun myself in the possession of my first Cremesheen lipstick in the shade Coral Bliss, which is a lovely sheer, pinky coral. It has quite a glossy finsh, meaning it won't cling to any dry patches, and the colour is buildable, so you can vary the level of intensity. All in all, a lovely, easy to wear lipstick for Spring.
Last but not least comes a Sheertone blush in the shade Peachykeen. I actually had no intention of getting a blush at all, but the sales assistant had popped some of this onto my cheeks while I was in-store, and after I left I kept finding myself admiring the pretty, healthy glow it had given me whenever I passed a mirror, and in the end I just had to go back and snap it up. I'd say it's somewhere between a peach and a coral, and in the pan it does seem to contain some glitter particles, but these don't transfer onto the skin at all as it leaves only a luminous glow.
So that's my lot! I may well be doing a second part to this post at some point, as I know I've been sent a few  other beauty-related bits as presents which haven't arrived yet. 

Hope you enjoyed having a little nose at the latest additions to my beauty cupboard and that you're all having a great week.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What I Wore: The Birthday Edition

Dress, Zara // Collar Necklace, Ebay // Pyramid Stud Bracelet, Ebay // Shoes, Primark 

Afternoon lovelies, hope everyone is having a great week so far. 
I won't bore you with the details about my birthday again, but I did promise that I'd share the outfit I wore out for the evening's celebrations with you today, so here it is.
I picked up this lovely dress from Zara on Friday. It's so comfy, as it's actually made of a kind of jersey material, making it the perfect partner for a delicious meal out at a restaurant - there's nothing worse than wearing something made of a really rigid material and then eating lots, as it's just so uncomfortable! Anyway, I managed to avoid getting any kind of a food baby, and found the dress so comfy and flattering. It's been such a long time since I've treated myself to, or worn an LBD.
Accessories-wise, I went for a pair of black velvet peep-toes from Primark to give me a bit of height and dress things up a bit, and a collar necklace and bracelet I tracked down on Ebay (I love getting jewellery from Ebay, as you can find some really unique pieces).
On my nails, I chose a pop of colour in the form of Revlon Plum Seduction, which is such a gorgeous, vibrant colour and has a really glossy finish. Unfortunately though, I didn't get round to snapping them until they were already looking a little bit less than their best, but never mind - you get the idea.

So that is everything in the outfit department, keep an eye out for a video and post on some of the beauty goodies I received, which will probably be up tomorrow. That will be the last of the birthday-related posts though, so if you are tired of hearing about it then you should be good from Thursday onwards!


Monday, April 15, 2013

The Evening Face: Birthday Makeup

Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup
Mac Pro-Longwear Concealer in NC30
MUA Bronzed Perfection Bronzer
Mac Sheertone Blush in Peachykeen
Mac Paint Pot in Groundwork
MUA Undressed Palette (Shades 6 and 7)
L'oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara
MUA Pro Brow Kit
Mac Amplified Creme Lipstick in Impassioned

Excuse the bad photo!

It was my birthday on Thursday, but as I had to work that evening we saved the going out for dinner and drinks for the Friday night, and this is the look I chose to go for.
I had been shopping in Mac that day and picked up the Groundwork Paint Pot and Sheertone blush in Peachykeen, so I was 'keen' (if you'll excuse the pun!) to put them to the test for my special night.
I first applied my Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup, which is a great base for nights out as it doesn't contain any SPF, meaning no ghostly white face in photos. It's pretty light coverage, which is fine for me, but might not be your cup of tea if you prefer something a bit fuller.
Next, I used my Mac Pro-Longwear concealer in NC30 to cover dark circles and blemishes. Although this shade is a little bit dark, it blends like a dream, and is fantastic at covering up anything you don't want to be noticed.
Next up, a bit of contouring with the MUA Bronzed Perfection bronzer, as well as a light dusting over the forehead and down my nose for a bit of an extra glow, and a fairly generous wash of the Mac Peachykeen blush on my cheeks. I opted not to use a highlighter on this occasion, as the blush I was going for gave me all the healthy glowiness I needed.
For my eyes, I popped on a layer of the Mac Groundwork Paint Pot, all over the lids, before adding a wash of gold (MUA Undressed Palette Shade 6) and then a pop of bronze on the outer corners. I blended everything out to create a bit of smokiness, and added lashings of L'oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara, which I find really defines and lengthens my lashes, as well as pumping up the volume.
I of course couldn't leave without filling in and defining my brows without my trusty MUA Pro Brow Kit, which I'm always grateful for, as I find that neat brows really frame the face, and make  a huge difference to the overall look.
Last but not least, I went for a Mac lipstick in Impassioned, which is a gorgeous bright fuchsia pink, and I was good to go!
You may have also noticed that I now have a full fringe as opposed to a side one, which I decided to cut in myself on a whim on Saturday morning! I really quite like it and am enjoying the change.

So that was my birthday makeup look - keep an eye out for tomorrow's post, where I'll be sharing with you the outfit I chose for the night.

Hope everyone has a great week!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Catch-Up

Hello lovelies, it was my birthday on Thursday, so on Wednesday some of the lovely teenagers I teach decided to surprise me during their class with a homemade birthday cake and candles! It was so sweet of them, and while I often say that teaching wasn't my calling in life, it's classes like this lovely lot that make it all seem worth it.
Thursday was the big day itself, but unfortunately I had to work, and I was really tired by the time I finished, so the hubby and I just popped out for a casual pizza for dinner, and he brought me out a huge, yummy birthday cake when we got home (goodness knows how the two of us are going to eat it all! Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture).
We both had Friday off, so we decided to go on a bit of a trip away. We drove to Vitoria, the state capital, where the shopping commenced! I got a fair few items of clothing in Zara (on Friday just a dress and some jeans, but we went back the next day for more!) as well as a few bits in Mac (posts and videos coming soon!). I spent absolutely ages in the Mac shop, as the sales assistant wanted to try out lots of different things on me, and I was obviously happy to oblige as it's always nice to have a go with products you might not have thought of buying yourself and see whether or not they are your cup of tea.
The hubby also surprised me with a bottle of Nina Ricci perfume, which is the one I used to wear when we met and haven't had in years. I'd mentioned to him a couple of weeks before that I'd smelt it on someone, and how nostalgic it had made me feel, so it was a really lovely present and I've been loving wearing it ever since! It smells amazing.
We had a delicious mezze for lunch, followed up later by coffee and cheesecake, and after a walk on the beach we popped back to the hotel to chill out with a cocktail, before getting ready for an evening out.
I wore my new Zara dress, which I am absolutely in love with, and we went for the most amazing Italian meal. I had a black rice rosotto of calamari and octopus, and the hubby had seabass in a delicate lemon and ginger sauce, served with black rice risotto (both ah-mazing). Afterwards, we went to a nearby Samba bar and had a few tangerine, ginger and basil Caipisakes (Sake cocktails - the flavour might sound random, but they are absolutely divine!). We did fancy going out for a bit of a dance, but there wasn't really anything going on, so after that we called it a night.
Saturday saw more shopping (we always enjoy going to Vitoria, as where we are based the availability of anything international is extremely limited), and this time we stopped off for iced coffees at a book shop cafe and I was able to get my hands on a UK magazine and a book in English, which is always a treat.
We drove back yesterday evening after a bit of time on the beach, as the hubby had to go to work, and today we've had a bit of a lazy morning and are just off out for lunch now.
I've had a fantastic weekend, and it more than made up for Thursday itself being a bit of an anti-climax!
What have you been up to this weekend?


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Weekend Wishlist

Necklace, New Look  // Dress, Miss Selfridge  // Triangle Earrings,  Dorothy Perkins // Ruffle Sleeve Playsuit, Miss Selfridge // Lilac Jacquard Skater Skirt, Miss Selfridge // Lace Hi Tops, Dorothy Perkins // Ring Set, New Look // Embroidered Fringed Clutch, Miss Selfridge // Aztec Bracelet, Dorothy Perkins

I feel a little bit silly/greedy/rude popping up a wishlist, what with it just having been my birthday, but as I had prepared this one in advance I didn't want it to go to waste! I did get some lovely goodies, including clothes and makeup, which I'll be sure to post about soon, but for now, here's what's been catching my eye on the high-street over the last week or so.
Basically lots of pastels, lace and fringing, these are all pieces I can see fitting quite nicely into my Spring wardrobe, and can be mixed and matched with items I already own for both day and night time looks.
I'm feeling really tired this evening, as I've literally just got back from our trip away (more on that in tomorrow's post), so for that reason I can't really muster up more of an explanation for my selection than that. I'm planning on spending tonight having a bit of a pamper session and staying cosy in bed finishing my book (I'm currently reading N-W by Zadie Smith - anyone familiar with it?), but I've got a feeling I'm going to be dragged out to someone's birthday party after the hubby finishes work. Frankly, I'm not really up for it, as we were out and about last night, and I don't really know the person having the party, but we shall see.
Hope everyone's having a lovely weekend so far and I look forward to popping up a slightly more coherent post about my week tomorrow!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review: Mac Amplified Creme Lipstick in Impassioned

Impassioned is a lipstick I've had my eye on since last Summer, but I've repeatedly put off buying it while we're over here, as everything at the Mac shop is outrageously over-priced. However, a couple of weeks ago we happened to be passing by while doing a bit of birthday shopping for the hubby, and as a result this ended up coming home with me as a bit of a pre-birthday treat.
Impassioned is an Amplified Creme lipstick, my favourite of all the finishes due to the creamy, moisturising and highly pigmented formula. I find them really comfortable to wear on the lips, and a dream to apply as they just glide right on.
In the bullet this does appear to be quite a deep coral pink, but on the lips it really comes into it's own as a beautifully vibrant fuchsia pink. I've also heard it described as a watermelon pink, which I'd say is pretty accurate. It does wear pretty well, coming in at around four hours on my lips, which is no mean feat. This is without eating or drinking, though - nothing lasts two minutes on me as soon as either of those come into the equation.
As ever with Mac lipsticks, this one has the signature vanilla scent, but it's nothing too overpowering and is unnoticeable on the lips.
For me, this is the perfect pop of bright pink to have in my makeup bag, and I'm so glad I finally took the plunge. I can definitely see it becoming my most reached-for shade in that colour family, as I generally find brights like this to be a lot more flattering against my skin tone. Impassioned is the ideal complement to this season's monochrome pieces, and is a great mood-booster on those grey, overcast days when you just want the sun to shine (although it tends to be more of the opposite over here).

Hope everyone is having a great week so far.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Daily Face

Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup
Mac Pro-Longwear Concealer in NC30
MUA Bronzed Perfection Bronzer
Mac Mineralize Skinfinish in Light Year
Maybelline Dream Matte Powder
MUA Undressed Palette (shades)
L'oreal Volume Million Excess Mascara
Maybelline Moisture Extreme Lipstick in Peach Play
MUA Pro Brow Kit

This has been a favourite look of mine over the past week or so, which came about when I realised that I was a little bit bored of sporting the same neutral eye on a daily basis (from the same palette - shades 3 and 5 - numbers go from left to right).
I decided on doing a subtle gold and bronze smokey eye using shades 6 and 7, and when paired with a peachy-coral lip (my favourite) I found that it really perked up my face and gave me a bit more of a healthy glow.
I really like using the Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup as a base, as while it gives a bit more coverage than a tinted moisturiser, it still looks really natural, and blends in seamlessly, eliminating any concerns about lines or tide-marks. It matches my skin perfectly, and with MUA Bronzed Perfection as a contour and dusted lightly across my forehead and nose and blended well, it provides a nice, healthy base.
As I was going for a peach-coral lip, I chose the Mac Mineralize Skinfinish in Light Year for my cheeks. What I love about this is that with it's peachy-gold hue, it doubles up as both a blush and highlighter, so a small amount dusted across my cheek bones is all that's required.
As I've mentioned before, the MUA Pro Brow Kit is now an every-day staple in my routine, and something I can't live without. It's got everything I need to shape my brows and keep them looking neat and tidy all day (review here).
Mascara-wise, I'm still staying loyal to the L'oreal Volume Million Lashes, although I have now branched out slightly and am giving the Excess Mascara a go. I'm still undecided on which of the two I prefer, so keep an eye out for a comparison post, which will be coming up soon.
You may have noticed that the concealer seems to be a little darker than you'd expect. Well, all will be explained very soon, as I'm also getting ready to write a review on that and will tell you the whole story in that post!

So that's what's on my face today. What's on yours?
Have a lovely day everyone.

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

For all PR enquiries, please contact me at: melswallofmirrors@yahoo.co.uk