Monday, June 24, 2013

The Duty-Free Wish List

With my move home now just around the corner, I've inevitably got a lot on my mind. There's a new house to consider, a new job....and then of course, there's the Duty Free! 
The closer we get, the less I am able to stop myself dreaming about all those beautiful high-end products, and while there is more chance of me winning the lottery than actually buying all of this stuff, a girl can dream. So, I thought that in order to get it all out of my system, I'd pop together a 'little' wishlist of the bits and bobs that have been filling my mental un-shopping list over the past few weeks, and looking at it, it probably isn't even the half of it. Fingers crossed, I might be lucky enough to pick up a couple of bits in Paris, so I'm going to have to get narrowing things down to the bare essentials. 
Nope, not fooling anyone, am I - no essentials here. But they are just so pretty....

I know I said I'd had it with BB Creams, but a little voice has been nudging me in the direction of the Diorskin Nude BB for some time now, in spite of myself. For a start, it's Dior, and I can't imagine anything with that name on it being sub-standard. Today though, it's place on my wish list was cemented when I watched this Vivianna Does Makeup video and saw with my own eyes just how beautiful it is. It seems to give such a gorgeous, natural glow as well as evening things out quite impressively, so it's now become a summer must for me.
I'm also in need of a new foundation, and have had my eye on both the Laura Mercier Silk Creme and Nars Sheer Glow foundations since last year, so I'm hoping to finally pick one of those up. The Nars Creamy Concealer also looks promising for under-eye circles, so I've thrown that one in for good measure.
I really fancy finally treating myself to one of the YSL Rouge Volupte lipsticks, another long-coveted product for which I just haven't been able to justify the price. They have to be the most beautifully packaged lipsticks of all time though, and one day a coral or peachy shade shall be mine.
Aside from that, I'm itching to give the Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow a go, as it looks like the perfect partner when it comes to contouring. The Hydra Veil has also been calling my name. It's a gel-powder base which is applied before your foundation for a flawless look, and to say I'm intrigued would be an understatement.
Last but not least, I need to stock up on perfumes, which is something I always tend to do when going through duty-free - I don't buy them for myself unless I'm travelling, and I'm running really low at the moment.

And that is it. I say this, but you know there are tons more things popping into my head as I write. Fingers crossed I won't have any currency in the airport, and then I won't be able to do any damage!

Ha. I jest. 

(Sort of).


Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Weekly Selection

Hi everyone, hope you're all having a good weekend and that there's a bit of sunshine where you are. It's really hot here today so I'm thinking of getting out in the garden with a good book this afternoon and making the most of it before I come back home to the usual British downpours!

This week saw me shunning my favourite summer blushes (Topshop Flush and Mac Peachykeen, if you're wondering), in favour of an old favourite I found lurking at the bottom of my makeup bag - Nars Deep Throat. It's such a gorgeous, natural peachy-pink shade with ever such a hint of shimmer, and while I'm only to pleased to dot on a pop of colour throughout the summer months, sometimes a subtle glow is far more flattering. I'm talking about those days where you wake up looking pale, drawn, and just plain exhausted - those days where a bright blush only serves to add to these effects, but that Deep Throat will always throw me a lifeline and make me look alive again.
Skincare-wise, it's been all about the Elemental Herbology Cell Food Radiance and Vitality Serum*, mainly because it does exactly what it says on the tin. It absorbs into the skin withing mere seconds, and since I've been including this in my daily routine, I've noticed a dramatic difference in the condition of my skin. It looks healthy and even, with a lovely glow, and as a result it has fast become a daily staple.
It's all about the fruity fragrances at this time of year, so I've been spritzing myself with an old favourite, the Nina Ricci Eau de Toilette. It's subtly sweet without being sickly, and the aroma of apples is so fresh and delicious that I'm only too glad to reinstate it as my signature fragrance throughout the summer months.
Last but not least, it would be rude not to pop a bright colour on your lips to celebrate the sunshine, and this week my weapon of choice has been Mac Impassioned. It's a gorgeous bright, fuchsia pink with a hint of coral, and is enough to liven up any natural, undone look.

What products haven't you been able to live without this week?


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Helping Hands for Hair

Everyone's hair needs a little bit of a helping hand at times, and mine is no exception. Although I've got mine through it's terrible 'frazzled' phase of last year, the warm weather and sunshine can still dry out my locks and leave them feeling less than silky soft, so besides my shampoo and conditioner, I have an arsenal of little helpers on hand to get  things back on track.
My trustiest friend when it comes to keeping my hair in tip-top condition is the Joico K-Pak Revitaluxe, a liquid treatment which is applied to clean, wet hair for 3-5 minutes. I have never managed to ascertain whether or not this one is supposed to replace a conditioner, but when I use this once a week I do tend to apply an extra one afterwards, as with this being quite runny in consistency, I sometimes feel that my tresses are asking for a little bit of something extra afterwards. Revitaluxe is a Bio-advanced restorative treatment to revitalise, nourish and repair, and it certainly does just that. With each use, my hair becomes stronger, smoother, silkier and more manageable,and as I'm coming to the end of this tube the full-size version is a must for my shopping basket.
A couple of times a week, I run two pumps of the Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Leave-In Treatment through towel-dried hair after washing and conditioning (excuse the sticky label mark - couldn't get it off for love nor money!). Rich in proteins, this helps to strengthen each strand and minimise split ends - it can't be used daily though, as too much protein can have the same effect as none at all: breakage.
On the subject of split ends, I recently picked up the TreSemme Split End Remedy, a spray-in treatment which aims to reconstruct the ends of the hair. I've been spraying this on liberally after washing, despite my scepticism - I don't personally believe that split-ends can be 'mended', at least not permanently. But anything that helps keep any nasty fly-aways at bay is worth a try in my book.
After a coconut oil disaster some while ago that left me with something of an oil slick on my head, I might well have been put off hair oils for life, but I'm so glad I persevered with them as they are now an integral part of my post-hair-wash routine. I apply a couple of pumps of the L'oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil (don't mind my foreign version in the picture) to my hair after blotting with a towel (if I'm using the Redken Anti-Snap then I mix the two together in my palms before smoothing through), and it makes a huge difference to the final appearance of my hair after blow-drying, leaving it much softer, smoother and shinier. I rarely to apply this to dry hair, as personally I don't find it hugely beneficial, but I will occasionally add the tiniest amount if my ends are looking overly frizzy. Generally though, I much prefer damp hair as a canvas, as I find that my locks just drink it up, with no hint of greasiness left behind when dry.
Last but by no means least is the Agadir Argan Oil Hair Treatment, which I stumbled across by sheer accident when looking for discounted Moroccan Oil on Ebay. This is my best find in quite a while when it comes to hair products, and is far superior to the Elvive Extraordinary Oil (which is pretty darn good in itself). This is a slightly thicker, more luxurious oil and leaves my hair feeling healthier and shinier than anything else I've tried. Unfortunately I only picked up a handful of samples, so I have now made it my mission to find out where I can get my hands on a full-size bottle - if anyone has heard of this brand before and knows the best place to buy it then do please let me know!

What are your favourite hair saviours? 
Are you a fan of oils?


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cleanser Confidential

When it comes to cleansers, there is such a vast array to choose from, with different types for different skin concerns, and a plethora of varying ingredients to sift through. With the world of information available to us on the internet today, you'd think choosing the right cleanser for you would be a piece of cake, but it only takes a quick Google search to realise that it's just not the case. Bombarded from every angle with different opinions and pieces of advice, it's difficult to know who to believe, making the whole thing a bit of a minefield, but with a bit of time and effort, there are some trustworthy sources to be found, and it's possible to filter out all the marketing jargon and get to the truth. Add to that a bit of trial and error, and you're well on your way to finding a product that your skin is going to love.
Having previously been blessed with normal skin (now combo with hormonal breakouts! Yay), I've been through the mill when it comes to trying out cleansers, and have built up quite a little collection. In doing so, I've definitely learnt what works for me and what doesn't, and being an avid researcher, I've picked up some invaluable hints and tips along the way. I am by no means suggesting that I am an expert on the matter, but I thought it was about time I shared with you what I have come to take as gospel when it comes to cleansers (thank you, Caroline Hirons!), as well as taking you on a little tour of the different types in my collection and the purposes they serve. There really is something for everyone, so whatever your skin type, I hope you will see something that tickles your fancy. (If you are an oily/acne-prone skin-er who uses gel cleansers in particular then you might hear something you weren't expecting in the final section!)

If you haven't heard about the Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm by now then frankly, where have you been? It's taken the beauty world by storm over the past few months, with cleansing balms becoming the ultimate must-have product for all skin types. While they might not suit everybody as a morning  cleanser, they will generally do the trick for anybody when it comes to removing makeup in the evenings - you can always follow up with a second cleanser if you are worried that it might be too rich for you, and if you have problematic or congested skin then keep an eye out for the ingredients list and go for one that doesn't contain shea or cocoa butter, which can be comedogenic (pore-clogging) for some.
The Antipodes Grapeseed Butter Cleanser looks exactly as it sounds, and is warmed between the fingers before being massaged onto the skin in small, circular motions. This has quite a pleasant herbal scent that is almost menthol, and really does melt off all your makeup in one fell swoop. Unfortunately for me, I neglected to notice that this one contains coconut oil, something I know full well that my skin won't tolerate, so inevitably it ended up breaking me out. Don't let that put you off though, as for many, coconut oil does absolute wonders for both skin and hair.
As for me, I've already got my eye on a couple of other balms worth trying out - namely the Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm,  Elemental Herbology Purify and Soothe Facial Cleansing Balm and the Ren No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm.

Cream cleansers are great for normal to dry skin, but it's wise to keep an eye on the ingredients in them if you've got slightly oilier or more blemish-prone skin as they often contain botanics and essential oils which may not suit you best as they can be comedogenic. If you haven't been living under a rock for the past couple of years, then you probably will have heard of the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish , a product which has paved the way for a whole host of new hot cloth cleansers, and one of the best I have come across is this one, by Tropic. I find the ritual of massaging a creamy, herbal-scented cleanser into dry (not damp) skin, before removing thoroughly with a muslin cloth soaked in warm water so relaxing at bedtime, and equally as invigorating in the mornings - so much so, that hot-cloth cleansers have changed the way I think about my skincare routine entirely.
RecommendedPai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating CleanserAntipodes Grace Gentle Cream Cleanser (great for sensitive or problematic skin).

Milks are often recommended for dry or sensitive skin, but that doesn't mean that they are off-limits to everyone else. Often, though, milks can be so light that it is difficult to ensure that every last scrap of makeup has been removed, so some might say they are a better option for your second cleanse. The Elemental Herbology Bio-Cellular Super Cleanse, however, is much thicker in consistency than traditional milk cleansers, and does a fantastic job at leaving my face feeling clean, soft and smooth. As an added bonus, it also contains apple AHAs, which are great at encouraging cell turn-over and in turn, keeping blemishes to a minimum. This little gem is my current go-to evening cleanser, and my skin really seems to get along with it well.

Although this one gets a category of it's own, I must admit that it's the only one of it's kind I've ever stumbled across. Recommended for problem (blemish-prone) skin, this is a thick, creamy cleanser with a slightly denser consistency, and smells exactly like a clay mask. This is a great one to use as your morning cleanser (as I do) if you do suffer from blemishes, breakouts or oiliness - it won't remove makeup, but it will leave skin feeling fresh, clean and comfortable with it's purifying, anti-bacterial formula.

Now, I'm going to be honest from the off here: I really don't like this cleanser, and I bought it only because I found myself in an emergency situation, which involved having nothing to wash my face with and no access to anything I would usually go for! My skin really did not get on with this at all, and I definitely will not be reaching for it any time in the future.
 Traditionally, gel cleansers have been recommended for people with oily or acne-prone skin, and to this day they are still touted by many brands as being the best thing to use for this skin issue. However, the reality is that most gel cleansers on the market contain strong chemical detergents such as Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulphate to make them 'foam' (the LRP Effaclar included). What's the problem with that? Well, have you ever washed your face and afterwards felt pleased with yourself because your skin seemed to be so squeaky clean? It might seem like a desirable result, but actually it couldn't be further from it, as it means that you have stripped your skin of all it's natural oils. The result? Your skin will over-compensate by producing excess sebum, putting you right back where you started, and if you've got any visible blemishes then you may well find that the SLS chemicals only irritate them further. 
However, this is not to say that all gel cleansers are bad - brands like Ren, for example, offer some lovely light gels which are sulphate free and won't strip your skin of the essential oils it needs.
RecommendedRen Mayblossom T-Zone Control Cleansing Gel (combination skin), Ren Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel (normal skin), Ren Hydra-Calm Cleansing Gel (sensitive skin).

I hope you've enjoyed having a little nose through my cleanser collection, and perhaps learned something new. If you are already quite clued up on the subject then do let me know your personal favourites in the comments below, as I'm always on the look out for new gems to try.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Sleek I-Divine Au Naturel Palette

L-R: Nougat, Nubuck, Cappuccino, Honeycomb, Toast, Taupe,
Conker, Moss, Bark, Mineral Earth, Regal, Noir

It's only within the last year or so that I've really got back into wearing makeup, after several years of giving eyeshadow a miss during the day in favour of a more natural look. Truth be told, I had never really taken the time to learn how to create pretty daytime looks, reserving a more dramatic eye for nights out and special occasions, but ever since I picked up the MUA Undressed palette last year, I've been hooked on a neutral eye and rarely leave the house without one (...or two!).
I recently made my first dalliance into the world of Sleek makeup, and along with some gorgeous blushes and a face kit, I decided to give the I-Divine Au Naturel Palette a go, as I was feeling the need to spread my wings a bit and branch out in terms of the shades I've been using. What caught my eye about this palette was the fact that while it does contain a lot of neutral options, they are completely different from my usual variations of taupe, brown, gold and bronze, which I hoped would force me out of my comfort zone a bit and encourage me to be a bit more experimental. I also liked the fact that there is a good selection of matte finishes, as I find them much more wearable when it comes to pared down, every-day looks - I do like a bit of shimmer, but I feel that if I were to go for a full-blown, glam makeup look all the time then I wouldn't have anything to add to make me feel that bit more special for a big event.
The palette contains a total of eight matte shades: Nougat (cream), Nubuck (what I would call a 'greige'), Cappuccino (light, milky brown), Honeycomb (creamy vanilla), Toast (light orange cream), Bark (dark brown), Regal (deep, dirty plum) and Noir (black). In addition, there are also four shimmery shades: Taupe (champagne), Conker (bronzey-brown), Moss (khaki green) and Mineral Earth (dirty brown).
All the shades are highly pigmented and blend well, and they come encased in a smooth black compact with a big mirror which is great for application on the go. The set also includes a double-ended applicator, but as usual in my case, this is completely redundant as I just don't use them, favouring brushes all the way. What I love about the packaging is the fact that it looks quite expensive and luxurious - you'd never guess that this was such an affordable high-street brand if you didn't know any better.
One thing I did find about this palette is that often, when I flip it open, I am at a loss as to which colours to use together. A couple of the shades - namely Honeycomb and Toast, are definitely not ones I would usually go for, and as yet I have neglected to use them. Another thing is that I tend to prefer lighter browns for day, whereas the nicest shades here, for me, are the darker, richer hues. More often than not, I've found myself combining shades from the Au Naturel palette with some of my old trusties from the Undressed palette, so it would be fair to say that things haven't really gone according to plan when it comes to getting creative!
I am, however, looking forward to creating an evening look using the gorgeous plums and bronzes, so look out for a FOTN post whenever that one comes to fruition.
All in all, a nice palette, but it won't be ousting Undressed from the top-spot in my routine any time soon.

The Sleek I-Divine Au Naturel Palette is available from Superdrug, priced at £7.99.

What are your favourite eyeshadow palettes?
Have you tried anything from Sleek?


Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Weekly Selection

I always enjoy doing my monthly favourites, but as time has gone on I've found myself leaning more and more towards making videos about them, and once I have done that I always think twice about posting about them as well, as I feel it might be a bit much. However, I do know that some of you would much rather see a post on the topic, as a lot of people do tend to do their catching up via mobile phone on the go, and nobody wants to be blasting out a video on the tube or the train for all to hear.
So, The Weekly Selection is born. In this series of posts, I'll be sharing with you whatever has made it onto my most-loved list this week, so expect to sometimes see a few old favourites making their way in amongst my newest finds, as often I will have a bit of a root around in my collection and come across a little gem I had forgotten all about (I will always mention if this is the case).
This week, it's been all about the Elemental Herbology Bio-Cellular Super Cleanse*,  a creamy cleanser containing apple AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) to boost cell turn over and gently exfoliate the skin. I've been wanting to add some regular acid exfoliants to my routine for some while now, as I wanted to see whether doing so would help me out in the war against hormonal breakouts, and being able to work this in daily in the form of a cleanser is handy when it comes to both time and money. I've been using this as my evening cleanser, as it's great at removing every last trace of makeup, as well as giving my skin a good, deep-down clean, leaving it feeling soft, nourished and comfortable.
Continuing with the theme of acid exfoliants, I've been trialling this mini size of the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner,  a light  lotion which again this uses AHAs to break down any debris and dead skin that might block the pores. I swipe this liberally across the skin every evening, after double cleansing, and by morning my skin is baby soft and smooth. I have to say, this really seems to be doing the job when it comes to keeping blemishes to a minimum, and as an added bonus, will help to strengthen the skin's resistance to wrinkles when used regularly. I have already ordered the full-size bottle of this, as it has definitely made it to 'can't live without' status in a short space of time.
Makeup wise, my biggest obsession of the week has undoubtedly been my new Sleek Face Form Contour Kit. I went for the 'light' version, which contains a flattering matte contour powder, highlighting powder and the infamous Rose Gold blush. The bronzey contour shade is great for sculpting the face and adding a subtle wash of colour, and definitely isn't too over-powering or obvious on pale skin. The Rose Gold blush is just beautiful - a shimmery, peachy pink that is not dissimilar to Nar's cult Orgasm blush. This won't leave you looking like a glitter ball, but it will leave you with glowing cheeks - in fact, I don't really find that I need a highlighter when using this, as it does the job just fine on its own. My only gripe is that it doesn't blend as well as some of my other powder blushes, but the shade is such that I can let that slide. The highlighting powder is a pretty, subtle, champagne shade, and looks lovely dotted on top of the cheekbones on top of a more pared-down blush. Again, the effect is really natural, without a hint of overkill in sight.
Last but not least, I have fallen in love with Revlon 'Fearless' Nail Enamel, a zingy, vibrant orange-toned red that just screams summer. This goes perfectly with the Mac Lady Danger lipstick, for any of you who like to match your nail polish to your lips, and is sure to make a repeat appearance on my nails over the coming months, again and again.

What have your most loved products been this week?


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Skin

Whenever the weather starts to get a bit warmer, I'm the first to crack open the tinted moisturisers and lighter bases, and skin-permitting, I am much more of a fan of a barely there, natural look. For the last few months, however, as I'm sure you know, my skin hasn't been at it's best, which has left me reaching for medium-coverage foundations to hide a multitude of sins - otherwise known as unwanted hormonal breakouts.
With a few adaptations to my skincare routine (think AHAa), diet (lots more Omega 3 and minimal dairy), my complexion is looking a lot clearer now, and fingers crossed, is on the road to recovery. Currenty, I'm blemish free, so it's just a case of getting rid of the pesky scars that have been left behind (more on that in an upcoming post).
So, to celebrate my skin getting it's act together, I've been cracking out two of my favourite tinted moisturisers this week, the first of which being the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF20 in the shade Sand (the fourth darkest out of twelve options). It's such a light product, and blends seamlessly into the skin, giving a polished, dewy finish while still looking completely natural. Sand is the perfect match for me at this time of year.
I must admit that, were I to repurchase this product I'd be tempted to give the oil-free version a try, as my t-zone does tend to start misbehaving later on in the day and I really don't want to be using powder on my skin when I'm going for the natural look.
Another favourite of mine is the Caudalie Teint Divin Creme Teintee Tinted Moisturiser. This one is SPF free, which I like in the sense that my skin isn't always the best of friends with SPF, but on the other hand it is a necessity, and I'm not a fan of including it in my skincare routine, preferring to get my protection from my makeup. That aside, this is another nice, light option. It does look alarmingly orange and a bit too dark when you first squeeze some out of the tube - this is only available in light/medium and medium/dark (mine being light/medium), but once blended out it provides a lovely summer glow, giving my skin an extra hint of colour without being too mask-like or overpowering. It does look surprisingly natural, as it does seem to adjust to the skintone to some extent, but a word of warning for the palest of ladies - this one might not be the best choice for you.
Until I got my hands on this at the end of last summer, I had no idea that Caudalie did any such products, and I'd love to see them dip their toe into the world of makeup a little bit more. I really enjoy using their skincare, and the standard is so good that I think they could be onto a winner if they were to branch out a little bit.
A quick word on BB and CC creams, if you're wondering why I haven't included any such products in my Summer picks: I'm not a fan. The BBs I've tried have been disappointing at best, leaving me looking washed out and grey. On the rare occasion that I have worn one out, I've been horrified to catch sight of myself in the mirror later that day and reached straight for my makeup bag to cover the damage. 
As for CCs, I was reluctant, but did decide to give one a go a couple of months back, holding out the tiniest bit of hope that they might be an improvement on BB creams. The result? A bright orange, broken out face. No thanks.

The full-size tube of Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser is available for £33 from Space NK.
A 30ml tube of the Caudalie Teint Divin will set you back £18, and is available from the Caudalie Website.

What are your favourite Summer products for glowing, radiant skin? Do you favour foundations, tinted moisturisers, or just going au naturel?


Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Blushin'

L-R: Topshop Cream Blush in Flush, Sleek blush in Life's a Peach, Mac Sheertone Shimmer Blush in Peachykeen

Topshop Cream Blush in 'Flush'

                                                                                          Sleek Blush in 'Life's a Peach'

       Mac Sheertone Shimmer Blush in 'Peachykeen'

There's nothing like a bright pop of colour on the cheeks to brighten up the dullest dud of a 'Summer's' day, and now that the UK is actually basking in sunshine for a change, a vibrant blush fits the bill more than ever before (well, at least this year).
I am very much a corals and peaches girl, and will use any excuse to crack them out when the warmer months begin to roll round. In fact, you'll often catch me trying to sneak them out in the cooler months too, especially in terms of blushes. I just find that they are so flattering, even on a paler skin tone, and really add a bit of extra oomph when I'm looking a bit washed out or lacklustre.
Today I thought I'd share with you my three most reached-for blushes for Summer 2013, and I can honestly say that since about March time, nothing but these beauties has graced my cheeks - that's how much I love them!

First up is the Topshop Cream Blush in Flush, which I reviewed within the last couple of weeks (for that post, click here). I think we all love a good cream blush at this time of year, and this one is no exception. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this bad boy is my favourite specimen of all time, and I have been loving the pinched effect I get by dotting this onto my cheeks and then blending it lightly with my Real Techniques stippling brush. In terms of the shade, it's absolute perfection - a bright coral pink that is highly pigmented but also buildable. I have been wearing and wearing this, and particularly love teaming it with Mac's Cremesheen lipstick in Coral Bliss. Love.
Next up is the newest addition to my blush collection (it finally arrived last week), a Sleek powder formulation in the shade Life's a  Peach. This is a really gorgeous peachy-apricot, and is a slightly different hue to the others I've got squirreled away in my arsenal of cheek products. My only gripe with it is that it's a little bit backwards in coming forward when it comes to swatching, but that said, it does seem to pick up reasonably well on a nice soft Eco Tools brush and blends out to give a lovely wash of colour that's bright without being too much. 
And last but by no means least is my Mac Sheertone Shimmer blush in Peachykeen (full review and swatch here). This is definitely a darker, dirtier peach, and contains a beautifully subtle hint of shimmer that I find provides a gorgeously luminous, healthy glow. While there is a hint of glitter in he pan if you look closely, it won't translate onto the cheeks, so no risk of the glitter ball effect here. I'd say that of the three, this is the best option for day to day, as it won't clash with any other bright makeup choices on the eyes or lips. When it comes to the other two, they really do do all the talking, and become the main feature of the look.

Are there any blushes you've found yourself reaching for over and over this season?
What are your favourite formulations for Summer?


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Topshop Brighten Concealer

As part of my birthday present, I received a few new items of Topshop makeup, one of those being the Brighten concealer in the shade Moonlight.
This product claims to be a long-wearing concealer which flawlessly disguises dark circles, with an even and seamless finish, so obviously from the off this was going to be my kind of product!
The concealer comes in a pen form with a brush applicator, not unlike the YSL Touche Eclat and the thousands of other imitations which have since appeared on the market. I do find this quite handy, especially for use on the go, but as with all pen concealers I tend to find it a little bit awkward to dispense. The first time I used this, I had to twist it up several zillion times before any product began to emerge, but while some pens tend to suddenly, unexpectedly overflow in an instant, this one doesn't. However, I do find that some time is wasted having to twist and click it before every use, as it's a little bit backwards in coming forwards. I find that for me, the brush tip is not sufficient for blending alone, and I generally use either my Real Techniques setting brush (hey, never mind the name - it does the job), or pat it in with my fingertips.
Moonlight is a pale salmon pink colour, and I find this doubles up as a pretty highlighter on the inner corners of the eye and on top of the cheekbones, though personally I don't often use it for that purpose as I have several highlighting products to choose from.
Now, this does do a fairly good job of disguising dark circles, but it's not for those of you who need something heavy duty as it's quite light. I enjoy using it on those days where I'm looking reasonably ok upon waking, and want to perk up my eyes a bit and go for a nice natural, no make-up look. In terms of actual coverage though, I still swear by my Mac Pro Longwear concealer, as that's the only one I've come across that really ticks all the boxes when I'm looking tired and run-down.

Have you tried any Topshop makeup?
What are your favourite products?


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review: Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Mask

A girl can never have too many detox masks - that is, unless they don't work, and having tried out a great many myself I was beginning to get a little bit disheartened. There have been a couple that have seemed to do the job pretty well at first, but sadly they have later decreased quite considerably in effectiveness, and then there are others which just don't seem to make much of a difference at all.
Enter, the Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Purifying Facial Mask.
I was lucky enough to receive the Elemental Herbology Weekend Facial kit for my birthday, which consists of three 30ml travel-size masks: The Facial Detox, Facial Glow Radiance Peel and Biodynamic Facial Souffle - all of which I will be chatting to you about in due course.
As I'm sure you all know by now, I have quite problematic skin at the moment, and it's something that has been going on for the past few months, so needless to say, I was thrilled at the prospect of having another weapon against breakouts and blemishes.
The Facial Detox is a clay-based anti-bacterial mask which aims to reduce excess sebum and decongest the pores, giving the skin a really deep-down cleanse. It's recommended for oily or congested skin, and personally this only really applies to my t-zone, so I have been using it on that area alone and giving my cheeks the swerve.
Mineral rich organic Amazonian clay is responsible for helping eliminate toxins from the skin, while essential oils of eucalyptus, cedarwood, lavender and rosemary help to balance the production of sebum. Add to that some oat flour and allantoin to gently exfoliate and resolve congestion, and you are pretty much good to go. As an added bonus, this mask is also packed with Manuka honey, aloe and calendula to soothe the skin, meaning that your skin will never feel stripped or dry after use. And it doesn't stop there, with secret weapons kombuchka to visibly reduce pigmentation (something we could all do with after a nasty breakout) and anti-oxidant rich fig extract and malachite to help protect against pollution and environmental extremes. Phew, this certainly is one multi-tasking little marvel.
I apply this to my t-zone in the evenings as often as required, which at the moment is about 2-3 times a week, and leave it to dry for roughly fifteen minutes (it has a pleasant herbal scent, which I personally quite enjoy). I then remove it with a warm, damp muslin cloth or flannel, and continue on with the rest of my skincare routine. If I have a particularly angry breakout on the go then I will apply this directly onto the offending blemishes and leave it on over night, and I really do find that this works wonders in terms of reducing redness and shrinking them in size. Generally, using this mask on a regular basis really helps to keep things under control, and minimise the longevity and severity of breakouts. I definitely find that I break out more often when I get lazy and don't bother using this mask as I think my skin is ok, which is proof that it really does make a difference.
New favourite clarifying mask? I think so! I've been rationing this one out, but I am definitely going to be caving in and purchasing the full-size 75ml tube, which is available from Feel Unique for a slightly pricey £28. It's certainly not the cheapest I've tried, but then I do think it's worth paying a little bit more for something that really works than settling for a more affordable option which just...well, doesn't.
(If you fancy picking up the afore-mentioned Weekend Facial set then that one comes in at £30, and is pretty good value if you fancy dipping your toe in, as you get to try three of their products which individually are a lot more costly.)

The Facial Detox mask has fast become a secret weapon I can't live without, so whether you're suffering from annoying breakouts or just a bit of excess oil then this one is for you.

Have you tried anything from Elemental Herbology?
If so, what is your favourite product?


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Catch-Up

Hello everyone, hope you're all out enjoying the lovely sunshine this weekend and making the most of it. Judging by the various Facebook, Instagram and Twitter snaps I've seen that does seem to be the case, and it'd be rude not to really considering there is no telling when the next spell of sunshine might be!
It's still pretty boiling over here in Brazil, in spite of the fact that it's meant to be winter. It's kind of like the UK weather, but in reverse, as when it's ridiculously hot all the time, all you want is a nice cloudy or rainy day so that you can cool off a bit, but much like the illusive UK sunshine, it rarely happens!
I would really love to be back home at the moment, as I just adore the atmosphere of s good sunny day in England. It seems to put everyone in such a good mood, and there is nothing better than sitting in the garden, sipping a Pimms and lemonade, with the smell of barbecues wafting overhead and the faint sound of a lawn mower in the background, haha.
But anyway, speaking of home, this brings me onto my good news! It's been a pretty epic week this week for me, as as well as having a lovely little trip away which inevitably involved some shopping, eating and beaching, we also got some really good news! Basically, we have got the go-ahead to move home at the end of July, and I couldn't be happier! I know I've already mentioned on here that I was going to be moving home in the summer, but since then a spanner had been thrown into the works, which was going to make it a lot more expensive as well prolonging our time here by a few months. Well, thankfully that is no longer an issue, and with the end of July being just eight weeks away it feels like the end is finally in sight! I will be finishing my job for good in four weeks, at the end of June, so after that it will be all about getting ourselves sorted and ready to go! I'm thrilled that we're going to back in time to (hopefully) enjoy a bit of summer - or, at least that we won't be arriving in the dead of winter, which would probably be a bit of a shock to the system seeing as we are pretty acclimatised with the weather over here. Hey, we might even be able to squeeze in a late summer festival, which would frankly be awesome, as I've really missed going to them over the past couple of years.
Anyway, onto the rest of this week's goings-on. We travelled to Vitoria, which is the state capital, to spend a couple of days there, and it would have been rude not to pop into the shopping mall while there and pick up a couple of bits. I didn't get much, but I did pick up a few things, so watch this space for a mini-haul video, which I'll probably be posting on Tuesday or Wednesday. I did pick up a couple of new books, too, which I've just realised I forgot to include in the video (I've already filmed it) - Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, and Eighty Days Blue, by Vina Jackson. I've actually just noticed that the latter is the sequel to another book, which I haven't read - bit of a fail, but hopefully it'll be worth a read anyway!
On the Tuesday night, we were out celebrating our good news, and we went to a new Asian restaurant/bar called Taj. The food was absolutely phenomenal - I had grilled duck in a tamarind sauce, which was served with jasmine rice, oriental veggies and a yummy apple chutney, and the hubby went for a seafood Pad Thai, which was also amazing. Of course, it was only fair that we washed those down with a couple of cocktails, and I went for a sake cocktail with apple and ginger, followed by a couple of pineapple mojitos - sooo good. I wore my new Zara dress, which you can just about see in the top right-hand image - the top part is sheer, with monochrome stripes, and the skirt is faux (I assume) leather body con. I'm sure you'll get to see it in all it's glory before too long, anyway!
This weekend, the hubby is hard at work, so it's a bit of an uneventful one. I'm planning on spending the rest of the day taking some photos for upcoming blog posts, sorting out some paperwork for work tomorrow (fun) and relaxing in my hammock with one of my new books.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Weekend Wishlist

Mac All About Orange Lipsticks in Tart & Trendy and Sweet & Sour, Mac  //  English Pear and Freesia Home Candle, Jo Malone  //  Malin + Goetz Acne Treatment, Space NK  //  Wild Fig & Cassis Cologne, Jo Malone  //  Diptyque Eau Moheli Eau de Toilette, Space NK  //  Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Masque, Cult Beauty  //  Ren Resurfacing AHA Concentrate, Cult Beauty  //  Diptyque Mimosa Scented Candle, Space NK  //  Mac All About Orange Lipstick in Sushi Kiss

It's one of those weeks where beauty products have most definitely monopolised my wish list, and I'd say that's probably for three reasons:
1. The new Mac collection, 'All About Orange', launched this week, and I for one am a little bit over-excited. Every time I go into Mac, I'm left a little bit disappointed that they don't have a wider range of oranges, peaches and corals in their permanent collection, particularly when it comes to lipsticks, so I'm eager to get my hands on most of these new offerings. The ones which stood out to me most when perusing the Mac website were definitely Sweet and Sour (soft peach cream), Tart and Trendy (bright, neutral orange cream) and Sushi Kiss (midtonal coral). I must say, however, that for me Sushi Kiss  is a pretty repulsive name for a lipstick, and that's coming from a fan of sushi - who wants to think about fish when applying your lipstick!?
2. I am all about updating my fragrance collection for summer, and Jo Malone's collection of personal and home fragrances has pretty much blown me away. I mean, Wild Fig and Cassis!? English Pear and Freesia? That's just for starters, and don't they sound just delectable? I'm a huge sucker for anything fresh and fruity, and with a hint of sweetness and a dash of summer gardens thrown in I am well and truly taken in.
Diptyque have also got a lovely new fragrance out, namely Eau Moheli Eau de Toilette,
3. Yep, I'm still suffering with my skin, and yep, I still love my skincare. I must say, it's become far less enjoyable for me now that I've got an actual problem to solve, and I find that I have to be much more careful about what I'm putting onto my skin. Having decided that I need to get this sorted once and for all, I've been back on Caroline Hirons' blog, Beauty Mouth - which is a regular read of mine anyway - sifting through all the comments of her past 'clinic' posts, and have come to the conclusion that the one thing I haven't yet tried is a resurfacing concentrate. Containing AHAs, these are basically chemical exfoliants, which can be used overnight to slough away dead skin and unblock pores, hopefully minimising breakouts as a result. I've had my eye on the Ren AHA concentrate for some time now anyway, so now that I actually have some sort of need for it it's probably time to bite the bullet. However, I've now picked myself up a bottle of the Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Toner, which I am using on a daily basis, so watch this space for an update on how I'm getting on with that. I do also tend to use the Elemental Herbology Facial Glow Radiance Peel on a weekly basis, which does also exfoliate using AHAs, so now it's all about stepping it up a gear and seeing what kind of a difference it can make.
Having said all that, I have now finally come to the conclusion that my contraceptive injection is behind these sudden outbreaks, as I've now noticed other related symptoms popping up alongside them. I'm planning on changing to something else at the end of the month and have got everything crossed that it'll put paid to these ridiculously annoying and frustrating issues!

What's on your wishlist this week?

Hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend!


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