Top Ten(ish) Under Ten(ish…)

Recently, I’ve been feeling the pressure to save up and stop spending as frivolously; however, I did still need a wee pick me up and decided bargain beauty was the way to go (after all, isn’t that why lipstick sales are up…?) It did make me reflect on some of the brilliant products available on the high street; there are some real gems that deliver just as well as their high-end counterparts, so I thought I’d round up some of my favourites here.

Bourjois Foundations – priced between £8.99 and £10.99
I believe that Bourjois foundations are manufactured by the same company as Chanel, and I have to say I think they are on a par in terms of quality. Of course, as these are a high street product and not high end, the packaging isn’t quite as luxurious, but to be honest as most of my makeup resides in my makeup bag rather than on a dressing table, I can’t say packaging alone would tempt me into buying something three times as expensive!

The colour range is fairly good, although some formulations come up pretty yellow-toned (I am exceptionally fair-skinned with pink undertones) and as with most high-street brands however, they are lacking a bit of the really dark shades. However, the quality is beautiful; well pigmented and offering beautiful finishes from sheer and dewy up the more full, matte finishes. I would definitely recommend checking these out if you’re in the market for a new foundation.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer – £4.19
I’m not going to say too much about this concealer as it has been discussed to death on You Tube, in blogs and on forums – suffice to say, it covers practically anything, lasts really well and only costs £4.19. Job done.

Soap and Glory One Heck of a Blot Powder – £12
Ok, ok, I’ve bent the rules here…hence the ‘ish’ in the title, as this comes in a hair over £10. However, I think the product is so good, I shoe-horned it in anyway (and, in my defence, SaG products are so often on 3 for 2 in Boots so really they do come in under £10…) Up till now, I really hated the feeling of powder on my skin, although having a rather oily t-zone it is a bit of a necessity – however, this powder is so finely milled it sits really comfortably on the skin, and does a fantastic job of keeping shine at bay right through the day.

Max Factor Creme Puff Blushes – £8.99
These are beautiful little blushes with a lovely, if slightly limited, selection of colours. These remind me of the Hourglass blushes with their swirled finish, but at a much more purse friendly price point. They have a lovely, blendable texture and nice colour payoff. Their nude mauve shade is also the perfect blush when you’re not sure what to pair with a stronger lip colour, giving a little something something, but nothing to statement.

Maybelline EyeStudio Colour Tattoo 24 Hour Cream Gel Eyeshadow – £4.99
These are another heavily lauded product – and rightly so! My favourite shade is On and On Bronze, a beautiful golden bronze, which last unbelievably well on the lids even without a primer. These can also be used as a type of primer and layered underneath other powder shadows to give them more longevity and make the colour more vibrant. As a side note, Metallic Pomegranate is a fantastic dupe for Illamasqua’s Liquid Metal is Resolute.

The one negative thing I will say about these is the shade range – there is a bronze, taupe and black, but the rest are all fairly bright and I think a couple of more neutral shades (perhaps a lilac/grey or khaki) would make fantastic additions to the range.

Max Factor Mascaras – priced between £6.99 and £18.99
It is a bit of a cheat to include these here as some of their mascaras come in a little over the £10 mark (and one a lot over the £10 mark – the, in my opinion, overpriced Max Factor Lashfinity 3 Day Mascara – who need their mascara to last three days!?) , including my personal favourite, False Lash Effect, but they are so often on offer I thought I’d bend the rules a little.

Mascara is one of those items where I’ve never ventured high-end, as there are such quality options available on the high street, and this does a fantastic job of lengthening and volumising without lashes going spidery.

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner – £3.99
I have a fair collection of the Urban Decay 24/7 khol eyeliners and I can honestly say these are right up there in terms of colour payoff, texture and longevity.

Again, as with the other eye items in this post, the shade range could be improved but as there are enough of the standards – black, brown, nude – to be going on with I really can’t complaining. The texture is lovely and soft and they last a good time on the eyes without ending up with a fetching panda eyed look.

L’oreal Infallible Eyeshadow – £6.99 Discontinued – boo!
What can I say – I love these! They are technically a loose pigment, but are very compacted compared to other loose pigments such as Illamasqua. Personally, I prefer these as I find it makes them easier to work with and less messy (traditional loose pigments tend to end up half way down my face, on the carpet and in my hair…not a good). As with the Colour Tattoo cream shadows I do think the range would benefit from a few more colours, but there are some really beautiful shades (including a good dupe for Chanel Ilusion D’Ombre in Illusoire). Shown here is also the elusive Amber Rush shade, only available in the US for some unfathomable reason.

ETA: since drafting this post, I have discovered these have been discontinued (in the UK anyway, not sure about the USA). Not impressed, L’Oreal, not impressed.

These are all products I love and would very happily repurchase – what are yours? If you have anything you’d recommend, let me know in the comments section below!

Ps – apologies for the lack of lovely image with this post; we’re between houses and staying with family, so most of my beauty stash is currently in a box in the garage!

Budget buy: Seventeen Eye Eye Shadow

IMAG0778I had to panic buy (party later than day, in another city, had forgotten to bring any) make-up the other day, and picked up a couple of cheap bits from Seventeen.

I already have quite an ample make-up collection so I didn’t want to spend too much, so headed to this budget brand’s stand in Boots. I picked up the concealer, and one of their Eye Eye Shadows. Now, I recently heard Fleur rave about these in Lana’s UK/ USA make-up swap video, so I thought I’d give them a go. I picked up the shade Rose Quartz, which was a purse friendly £3.99. My oh my, these pack quite the punch for such an affordable item – super soft, buttery and very very pigmented.

IMAG0780This particular shade has a similar tone to MAC Satin Taupe, and By Terry Misty Rock (both products I own and love), with a taupey grey/lilac swatch. It does lean a little more pink on me, and it does have a fair amount of sparkle but I think this is still neutral enough you could wear it both day and evening.

The packaging also feels more sturdy and secure than you might expect from such a budget range, which is a pleasant surprise.

I have to be honest here – Seventeen is not a range I have taken much notice of, post initial teenage make-up buying years, but this really impressed me. They had a fairly reasonable range of other colours, which I’ll definitely be checking out soon.IMAG0779

In other news, I’ve just discovered that L’Oreal have discovered their Infallible Eyeshadows (in the UK at least), which I was really disappointed to hear – they were one of my all time top budget buys. The newer L’Oreal Mono Shadows are really nice as well, but the Infallibles just packed some a pigmentation punch, they just aren’t quite as good for me sadly.

Any other top budget picks? Share in the comments below!

Body Shop: Honeymania

The Honeymania range was originally launched a year and a half ago in January 2014 and at first, I steered clear as I assumed this would have a really sweet scent, but in actual fact it’s quite floral.

There are seven products in the line, and I’ve tried the Bath Melt, the Body Butter and the Shower Gel. There is also a hand cream, lip butter, soap and Eau de Toilette in the range. I have to admit, I do quite fancy the eau de toilette, it’s such a delicious scent (I have been known to pop in to the local branch and spray myself liberally with the tester.)

Each pot of the Body Butter has community fair trade honey from wildflowers, from the remote Sheka rainforest in the Ethiopian Highlands, a biodiversity hotspot that’s protected by UNESCO (those guys at The Body Shop can sure craft a press release that makes you feel like an ethical consumer!)

The best way I can describe it is ‘delicious’ (though I doubt the taste is in actual fact anything other than soapy.) The shower gel lathers really nicely (I am a fan of a good lather) and, being soap-free, it doesn’t strip the skin leaving it feeling dry.

The bath melt is also lovely – it really does scent your whole bathroom and you can ‘feel’ the product in your bathwater, as it makes it lovely and soft feeling (if that makes sense!)

I have been a bit lax in using the Body Butter (I’m not the world’s most dedicated body moisturiser even though I have no dry. Bad me.) but is as lovely as their other Body Butter which have to be on of their all time star products. Very thick and super moisturising I do feel this is one for the evenings as it does take some time to sink in.

Have you tried anything from the line – let me in the comments section below…

 

Review: Aveeno Moisturising Creamy Oil with Coilloidal Oatmeal

It’s very appealing to stick to blogging the fun side of beauty – the glossy lipsticks, beautiful nail polishes, pretty blushes etc., but sometimes you need to turn to the less glamourous side of things, the things you need to do to give yourself a decent canvas to stick the fun stuff on top off.

I’ve always really struggled with dry skin on my legs, leaving them really itchy. I’ve been looking for something that was soothe them while adding moisture. So many body lotions are heavily scented and leave dry, scratched skin stinging and red.

I saw this Aveeno Creamy Oil on offer in Boots, and I was intrigued – anything with the words ‘oil’ or ‘gel’ in the title intrigue me, as I’m not a fan of anything overly creamy or heavy, in spite of having dry body skin.

Plus, Jennifer Aniston is the brand spokesperson, and I can’t deny – that did catch my attention. She’s always so put together and her skin always looks perfect.

The cream has a nice, light scent – sweet and with a hint of almond. It’s not overly scented, just enough of a little something to make it feel more indulgent. It sinks in quickly, and didn’t sting – so a winner from me in that respect, as so many products further irritate the dry, delegate skin on my legs.

The packaging is nice enough, but nothing special – although as mentioned at the top of the page, this is a more a necessary product that one you’d use to feel indulgent. I do however really like the pump – it makes application far less messy and more hygienic than sticking your fingers into a pot of cream.

My lovely other half suffers from patches of psoriasis and we’re currently testing this out to see what effect it has – oatmeal is commonly used in skin products to sooth eczema and psoriasis prone skin, so hopefully we’ll see some positive effects.

You can buy Aveeno Creamy Oil from Boots, and it’s currently included in their 3 for 2 Skincare offer, and is priced at £7.65.

The Body Shop Bouncy Sleep Mask

I wandered into the Body Shop recently, and ended up picking a few bits and pieces, rather enabled by a very nice and helpful store assistant.

The Bouncy Sleep Mask is a new release from the Body Shop, as part of their Drops of Youth range, and I was pretty curious to check this out as I’d heard about the unusual texture.

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The Bouncy Sleep Mask is apparently enriched with ‘Edelweiss stem cells’ (whatever they are!). It’s designed to be used in the evening and left on overnight – though I’d say ‘mask’ is a bit of a misnomer – it’s really a gel night moisturiser. The texture is certainly worth discussion – it is reminiscent of silly putty and very siliconey feeling (dimethicone is fourth on the list of ingredients, so not altogether surprising)  – it took me a couple of uses to get a feel for how much product to use. You get a mini scooper to use, and for once, I’d say this is actually worth keeping, to scoop an amount of product before smoothing on with your fingers – it’s a struggle to actually pick up any with bare fingers because of the consistency. You also need far less than you’d initially think – being a ‘mask’ you think of slathering on a thick helping, but really you need at most a pea-sized amount to cover your whole face and neck.

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I haven’t been using this long enough to get a real feel for the results but I do like it so far – it feels nice, light and refreshing on the skin which is a big plus for me as I’m not a fan of sleeping in rich products, and my skin did feel more hydrated in the morning. The smell is also nice and fresh, again, perfect for evening. I also have anecdotal evidence from a friend who has been suffering with really dehydrated skin that this has made a tangible difference with just a few uses.

The very kind sales assistant also gave me a sample pot of the Drops of Youth Concentrate, which I really liked – it  had the same very fresh and light feeling, and it might be my next Body Shop purchase once I’ve finished my favourite REN Radiance Serum.

If you’ve tried the Bouncy Sleep Mask, do let me know what you think in the comments – I feel like this might be a bit of a love/hate one…

Skincare Haul: REN

My local Wholefoods did their second ever 25% off promotion across their facial skincare last weekend – if ever I needed an excuse to stock up, this was it.

I’ve been a big fan of REN for a couple of years now – their chemical-free products seems to suit my skin so well, are fantastic quality, smell delicious and aren’t over the top expensive. I previously talked about a couple of their Radiance Renewal Products in my Skincare Favourites 2014 post here.

I’m now on to my third bottle of their Radiance Renewal Serum – I first tried this during Wholefoods last promotion, and quickly developed an abiding love for this stuff. It was one of the first products I tried where I felt I could see a real, tangible difference in my skin. I tended to put this on in the evening, and the next day there was denying that my skin was brighter, more evenly toned and smoother as well. REN products also features natural extracts and are free from nasties such as parabens, mineral oil and sulfates which people are increasingly avoiding. In this case, the serum has a lot of goodies, but the ones that caught my eye were vitamin C from Ascorbyl Lipovector regulate skin pigmentation to reduce age spots and correct skin tone and hyaluronic Acid (a real goodie for hydration). As an aside, big props to the guys at REN for having a full ingredients list for each product on their website.

I was also fairly happy with the price – as serums go, £35 (and then a following 25% off) made it pretty damn reasonable in my eyes.

I also picked up their Flash Rinse One Minute Facial, Clarimatte Clarifying Toner and Clarimatte Invisible Pores Detox Mask. I’ve heard really good things about the Flash Rinse in particular, and I’m always keen for products which promise results in that amount of time! I’ve heard less about the Clarimatte line, but from the description (reduce pore size, control oil and leave skin smooth and clean) they sound right up my street and will hopefully help tackle some of the issues I’ve got on my t-zone.

I’ve also read that the Clarimatte mask can be used on the evening following the Radiance Renewal Mask for optimum results, and seeing as I already have this in my stash, I’m looking forward to trying this combination out.

I’m really excited to try the new pieces I picked up, to see if they match up to both my previous experiences of REN and the reviews online – I’ll keep you posted!

2014 Favourites: Part Three, Skincare

We’re now on to Part Three of my 2014 favourites, looking at the best skincare items of the year. I have three top pics, plus a couple of honourable mentions.

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Cleanser

La Roche Posay Physiological Cleansing Gel

I started using this in late 2013, and I wasn’t mad keen paying over £10 for a face wash (although this is positively thrifty compared to some of the high end offerings in vogue right now). I really like the cooling gel texture of this, and it does a fantastic job of breaking down make up as well.

I would say this has a very slight medicinal scent, but I don’t mind that – I’m not keen on overly scented face products on my quite sensitive skin. One aspect I really do like of this cleanser is how thick it is – it really adheres to the face, helping to break down make up, and not sliding right off (a real boon if you ever wash your face in the shower as well). It leaves my skin well cleansed, make up free and feeling soft and fresh – what more could you ask from a cleanser?

Serum

REN Radiance Perfection Serum

Last year, my local Wholefoods had a phenomenal discount on their skincare ranges and I went slightly nuts, mostly for REN stuff but also some Melvita as well. This serum was undoubtedly the most successful purchase, and I’m already on my second bottle.

It’s my first serum, and I can truly see a massive difference the morning after I put this stuff on. It seems to really even up my skin tone and make my skin glow. The smell is nice, and not too strong – it’s smells a bit honey-like to me, but that might an unconscious association because of the yellow/ orange packaging. This serum is around £35, so not super cheap but not overly expensive as serums go either.

I really enjoy the texture of this – it feels very light and refreshing, and sinks in really quickly without any oily feeling.

One of the main ingredients in the serum is vitamin c, which I believe is good for evening skin tone, and that is one area I definitely see a big difference in when I’ve used this the evening before. I tend to have a bit of redness going on, on my very fair skin especially if I have any healing spots and this makes a bit difference in unifying my skin tone and bringing down the red tones.

In terms of storage, I’d suggest keeping this in a drawer or the original box, as the product is preservative free and I don’t think the clear glass bottle will keep it at it’s most effective.

Face masks

I haven’t been using masks religiously this year, but I have picked up two that I do enjoy using, and seem to make a tangible different to my skin – they are the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask , and the cult GlamGlow YouthMud. Both exfoliate the skin without irritation, and leave me with a right brightness and glow – I’d say both are especially good the night before a big event.

Lipbalm/ treatment

Lanolips Ointment

I have been having major problems with my lips lately – they have been stinging and burning, and cracked at the corners, which is not a good look. Even my beloved Nuxe Reve de Miel wasn’t able to sort them out – after a while I gave in and threw some cash at this Lanolips Ointment, without much hope it (or anything) would help.

Lanolips has gained a real cult following since it launched in 2009, and is made from medical grade lanolin, vitamin e oil and 100% natural fruit extract in the scented versions. I’m not specifically in to all natural or organic products but I have to say, it is a nice feeling to use something so natural on my skin. It is also very, very firm when cool – I suggest popping it on to the radiator for a few seconds before squeezing out the product.

This ointment has made a massive difference – my lips aren’t stinging and cracked any more and the corners are actually starting to heal. My skin can be a little reactive, so this natural multi-use balm is a fantastic standby for ragged cuticles, dry and flaky elbows, sore lips and so on. I also like that it’s packaged in a squeezy tube – it feels so much more hygienic than the pots of balm you need to stick your fingers in. An all round great skincare buy.

2015…

In 2015, I want to continue taking better care of my skin as I move into my thirties (sob…) so I’ll be on the lookout for quality products which can help balance my combination skin and leave it looking smoother and more glowing. I also want to improve my knowlkedge of skincare, so that I can make more informed choices.

One product I do have lined up to try is the La Roche Posay Serozinc, another cult goody. I’ve heard so much about this over the last few years, and am keen to try now it’s being stocked by Escentual.

Let me know below if you have any recommendations in the comments below.

2014 Favourites – Part Two: Perfume

Welcome to Part Two of my 2014 Favourites series – this time, it’s perfumes turn. My two favourites this year have been Elie Saab Le Parfum and Miller Harris, L’air de Rien.

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These, without a doubt, have been my two favourite fragrances of the year, and the ones I have reached for above all others.

Elie Saab was the first fragarance from Lebanese designer Elie Saab, and was designed by renowned perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. It has jasmine at it’s heart, with a base of cedar, patchouli and rose honey accord. To me, the jasmine is the most prominent note, and is one of my all time favourites, so this suits me happily. I think it’s both day and evening appropriate (I just scoosh it on a bit heavier in the evening), so a great one to carry a mini of in my handbag.

L’air de Rien is, to my nose, quite an unusual scent and feels very grown up and just a little bit sexy, and is the one I go for if I want something a little different – less fresh, and more overtly sexy. The back story to this scent is that sixties singer Jane Birkin was the muse and the final perfume was inspired by her favourite smells – “father’s pipe, floor polish, empty chest of drawers, old forgotten houses”. These scent memories were translated into notes of oak moss, neroli, musk and vanilla. Katie Puckrik memorably describes the scent as halitosis, bleach and mothballs, on her first impression but I’m happy say these aren’t what strike my nose on first sniff. This, perhaps the most out of the Miller Harris fragrance library, has gained a really cult following, and one that’s well deserved in my opinion.

In 2015, I’m hoping to get my hands on two scents I’ve long sniffed (and dowsed myself in, when in a store that carry them…) – Gucci Oud and Tom Ford Jasmine Rouge, though sadly, I may need to re-mortgage to afford either.

Let me know of any perfumes you think might be up my street, in the comments section below!

Soap and Glory – Orangeasm

DSC_0544Soap and Glory have just released their new collection, Orangeasm, just in time for the warmer more summery weather.

I love this range – it’s made up of three products, the body wash, body butter and scent spritz. The fresh, citrus scent of this is gorgeous and is made up of notes of fresh green mandarin, Sicilian lemon and sweet orange peel oils. Citrus scent can veer a bit toilet cleaner for me, but this smells a lot more expensive and chic than it is. I love that the three products can also be layered to improve the longevity of the scent. If you like the Body Shop’s Satsuma range, I think you’ll like this, although for me it is a more mature, sophisticated scent.

In terms of the packaging, it fits right in with the rest of the brand, with a cheeky play-on-words name and kitsch, slightly retro plastic tubs and bottles.

The body wash comes, as all the S&G washes, in a super 500ml size. Used with a puff, this stuff lasts seriously ages and works out a major bargain on a cost per use basis. I absolutely love the brand’s Clean Girls body wash, but their Sugar Crush one didn’t agree with my skin, so I was a bit nervous on using this. However, my skin seems to agree with it really well and was left feeling super moisturised and smelling delicious.

I also love that the shower gel has a pump that dispenses just the right amount, and you don’t end up with too much on the puff, or shower gel gooping round the tub.

And, as always, the body butter is lush – super hydrating, thick and creamy but it soaks in quickly and doesn’t like a sticky film on the skin. I’ll definitely be picking up the scent tonic to add my collection (and it’d only be sensible to pick up another couple of bits, to save money and make the most of the Boots offer…)

These are really lovely products for summer and if you fancy trying these, or stocking up on anything from Soap and Glory, I suggest you hit Boots pronto and make the most of their 3 for 2 offer!

L’Oreal Colour Riche Collection Privee Nude Lipsticks

When compiling my recent ‘30 Thing to Do Under 30 list’, finding my perfect nude lipstick was number 15 on the list. Bang on cue, L’Oreal releases its L’Oreal Colour Riche Collection Privee Range – a selection of nude lipstick shades, one for each of its celebrity spokes-models.

Let’s be honest, marketing any lipstick as a ‘nude’ shade is a misnomer – everyone has different colouring and a shade could be too light, too dark, too brown or too pink. For me, tones that lean a little too much on the beige/ brown side make me look dead, and to compound matters, with bad teeth.

Cheryl Cole, Doutzen Kroes, Frieda Pinto, Julianne Moore, Eva Longoria and Liya Kebede have worked with the L’Oreal’s colour designer Orrea Light to create their own perfect nude shade (I believe there are other shades picked by L’Oreal spokes-models available in different markets).

This is a neat idea from L’Oreal and works well given their models all have pretty individual looks and represent a range of ethnicities. The concept behind this range should help take a little of the mystery out of finding your own perfect nude shade, as you can align yourself with the spokesmodel with the most similar colouring – even if the shade isn’t absolutely perfect, it offers a really helpful jumping off point if you’re new to make or just not sure where to start perfecting your nude lip.

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For me, I made a beeline for Julianne Moore as we share a similar auburn-haired, pale skinned colouring. Down to the product itself – Julianne’s nude is a beautiful peachy, rosy nude – a real ‘your lips but better’ colour for me, exactly as it should be! I also love the packaging of these lipsticks – they’ve replaced their standard metallic case with a matt black bullet – I just love the feel of these. There is also a very satisfying ‘click’ when popping the lid on and off – such a small detail but one which I think can make a product feel more luxurious than it is. What is the same however, is the distinctive Colour Riche smell – I don’t hate it, but equally I don’t love it. In general I prefer more fruity notes to my lip products but that is an entirely personal preference and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the scent.

In summary, I’d say this is definitely a range to look at if you’re in the marketing for a nude lipstick – especially if, like me, you’ve struggled to find your ideal shade or just aren’t sure where to start.

The collection is available from Boots, priced at £8.19 per lipstick.