Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring skincare saviours

As much as I love make up I've recently been swaying more towards the skincare aisles in Boots. The best make up primer in the world is hydrated skin, and in the run up to summer I've been making a huge effort to look after mine. Being consistent is the key, but it helps if you have products that suit your skin. Here are a round up of my current favourites. 

Origins GinZing refreshing scrub cleanser. This is one of my favourite products ever. A fancy hybrid of a face wash and a scrub, effective enough to unclog pores but gentle enough to use daily. This cleanser has a whole range of wonderful extracts including jojaba, grapefruit, spearmint and lemon, making it a perfect wake up call in the morning. It always leaves my skin feeling smooth and fresh and it's played a huge part in clearing up my spot prone skin. Top of the skincare list!

Botanics All bright cleansing foam wash. I'm a big fan of Botanics, I think the whole range offers great value for money. This face wash is ideal to use with a clarisonic or similar cleansing device as it really foams up quickly. It's gentle on the skin and it doesn't leave skin feeling dry. I suffer with dry patches on my forehead, which harsher face washes can cause to flair up. However being soap free means this face wash is unlikely to cause any skin issues. 

REN Flash rinse 1 minute facial. I was a little apprehensive to try this as I'd heard from friends it could be a little abrasive on sensitive skin. However I was pleasantly surprised and it's very quickly become part of my regular skincare routine. I tend to use this every 3 or 4 days as a pick-me-up for tired or dull skin. It's got a wonderfully fresh orange scent, which tends to linger for some time after use. It has the same effect as a facial, leaving skin bright and glowing. This is an amazing product if you have a special occasion coming up and skin is looking a little blergh. The price may be a little more than I would usually pay for skincare, but it is well worth investing. 

REN Gentle cleansing milk. I've tried cleansing milks before and always been sorely disappointed. In some cases my skin has even completely rejected and reacted to them. However this is a different story. This cleansing milk really hydrates my skin, helping to avoid any dry patches. It's a perfect product for the cross over to spring, keeping skin balanced. 

Bioderma Micellar Water. I love Bioderma. I think I may be a little bit obsessed? The first time I went to Paris I picked up a few bottles, which I coveted for nearly a year. When I returned I purchased another four and I am very steadily making my way through them. I can honestly say that no other micellar water comes close to this. It's alcohol free so it doesn't leave skin feeling tight, but it gets rid of every trace of make up. If I'm feeling lazy (ahem) I can easily use this and nothing else, yet it will still feel like I've cleansed and toned too. Beaut.

Body Shop Camomile silky cleansing oil & cleansing balm. I love both of these products in equal measure, and as they're so similar I'm slotting them in as one product. I've always been wary of oils, and although I've dabbled I've never reaped the benefits. Enter The body shop camomile silky cleansing oil. If you suffer from dry, combination or oily skin this product is for you. I was always concerned an oil would make my skin feel awful, in fact it's the complete opposite. I normally use this product in the evening once I've removed my make up, although it can be used to remove the make up too. It's really gentle on the skin, and it gives the skin a really deep cleanse. My only gripe is the packaging - the pump is slightly and the balm requires you to dig around in the pot. However for such a good price, I can't really gripe too much.

What are you skincare saviours for the spring?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Benefit Roller Lash Mascara

I love mascara and I love Benefit, so when I saw that Elle were including a sample of the soon to be launched Roller Lash Mascara with their March addition, I pretty much sprinted to buy a copy. And it seems as I have to wait until March for this to be released, I'll be stocking up on copies of Elle until then to curb my cravings...

Benefits Roller Lash mascara is designed to curl and lift lashes, rather than just providing length. Think of it as a hybrid of a eyelash curler and mascara, you're simply cutting out the middle man. It's modeled on the idea of a hair roller (hence all the super cute marketing with rollers!) and it 'hooks 'n' rolls', which results in super soft, curly lashes.

The brush is shaped slightly differently to a normal mascara brush, and it's also smaller so it can get to those pesky edge lashes. When I used it I really felt the curve of the brush rolling my eyelashes into a curl. And although I'm lucky enough not to have particularly straight lashes, I definitely noticed a difference. My eyes looked brighter and more open. 

Volume wise, I would say it provides a good amount of volume. It's a great option for a daytime mascara. The lightweight formula means it isn't too OTT for an everyday product, but it can be layered on for a more dramatic evening look. It also does a solid job of separating the lashes, avoiding the clumpy, spiders legs look (which is never ideal). It stands the test of time without flaking and doesn't smudge.
(Top - Before application. Below - After one application of Roller Lash)

So, Benefit have done it again. I'm completely hooked (no pun intended) and I'll definitely be snapping this up when it's released in March. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer hair favourites

Summer can reek havoc with your hair. Sun, chlorine, sea salt, sand and unexpected rain showers can all contribute to your hair going a little bit crazy. Here are the products I am currently using to keep that summer frizz at bay.

Aussie Mega shampoo and conditioner are my current favourite combo. They smell amazing, don't cling to the hair and leave it sleek and smooth. I struggle to find shampoos that don't build up in my hair, and this seems to eliminate the problem. I have very looooong hair and this cleans it thoroughly, leaving my ends nice and nourished. I've also found since using this pair I can go 3 or 4 days without washing (if I'm feeling lazy!) and my hair still looks really clean and fresh.

I've been experimenting with some hair oils this summer, something I've steered clear of in the past. I've always worried that oil would make my hair feel and look a little greasy, but with a little care and attention I've managed to avoid this happening. OGX Moroccan Argan Oil is my top pick of the oils. Putting a little on my hair when it's damp helps to nourish and leave my hair with a great shine. It also seems to protect my hair from the drying/straightening/backcombing that I put it through! I've been putting a little of this on the ends of my hair to get rid of any stray hairs in between washes, however I have avoided putting this on my roots as it can result in hair looking a little too shiny...

For those really hot, humid days I've been reaching for OGX coconut oil mist. Coconut oil in any shape or form is great for your hair, but I like this as it has a spray top so It's easy to get the right amount on. When on holiday I was spraying this on my hair before I stepped into the sun and I found my hair soaked it up and appeared much more hydrated. This product also prevents the hair from breaking, meaning less split ends! I love how silky my hair feels after using this spray.

The current craze in the blogging world seems to be salt spray. I have used a few salt sprays, but the best one I've found (without spending a small fortune - I'm looking at you Bumble & Bumble!) is Charles Worthington style setter salt spray. This doesn't dry out my hair or leave it matted, as some salt sprays can. I use this when I don't want to curl or straighten my hair, as it sets my hair into beautiful, natural waves. It can take a little shine away from the hair, but this can be easily counteracted with an oil. For backcombing fans such as myself it takes some of the work out of achieving voluminous hair!

Another hair cheat I've been using is Charles Worthington volume and bounce texturisnng spray. I initially purchased this as I it was highlighted as a dupe of the Ombre texturising spray. Personally I love it and think it helps my hair to appear much bouncier and give it a little more oomph. It smells great and doesn't leave my hair looking or feeling sticky. The only disadvantage is it needs quite a lot of hairspray to hold its effects in place. 

So there's my round up of top hair products. What do you use to keep that hair frizz in check?

Aussie Mega shampoo and conditioner - £4.69 - £5.99 (often on offer in supermarkets so keep an eye out!)

Starting a beauty habit on a budget

It's been 18 months since I started my blog, and for a long time before I started writing I was a beauty obsessive. I spent (and still do!) the majority of my time reading posts, making endless wish lists and filling up my Sephora basket online. As we all know it's easy enough to spend money, but how can you start a beauty habit without breaking the bank?

1, Read, read, read. 

Reading reviews is a great way to grasp whether the hype around a release is warranted. It can also prevent you from buying something that won't suit you. Following blogs allows you to hunt down those who have similar tastes to you (I know that gh0stparties has similar skin and beauty needs to my own) and take note of their coveted products. Having a good understanding of what goes into products is also helpful. I've built up a list over the years of ingredients and colours that don't gel with my skin (blush with red tones tends to be a big no...) and knowing this allows me to disregard some items before I even consider buying.

2. Sample it up. 

I am a sucker for a trend, which means as soon as I read a few good reviews on a product I immediately want to go and buy it. It takes a lot of self restraint not to but it really is important (if you can) to try before you buy. Most high end beauty brands will offer a plethora of advice and samples at the counters. Resist the temptation to buy online and go to these shops and ask to try a product. Many places will even provide you with a small amount to take away and use over a few days. If you're shopping in drugstores there are always samples available to try in store. I've found I have saved a lot of money by doing this. We don't all like the same thing, and it's important to only buy products that work for you.

3. Invest.

Investing in expensive items can sometimes be well worth the money. I often find buying one good item is better than wasting money on 3 or 4. Think about staples in your routine, that you're guaranteed to use everyday, and purchase ONE high end replacement. Be it a face wash, foundation, blusher or lipgloss, make sure it's not outlandish (gold eyeliner may seem like a good idea at the time) and that you're going to make good use of it. A boots haul may be fun every now and again, but I often find I appreciate items more when they come solo. 

4. Look for dupes.

This point may slightly contradict my previous tip, but it's not always necessary to spend a fortune on a product. Investing is great, unless you can find something with all the perks and a smaller price tag. Read blogs by those who really know the ins and outs of high end and high street make up, such as Lily Pebbles; a great example of a blogger who offers advice on hunting down high quality dupes. Keep an eye out for similarities in texture, colourings and ingredients between drugstore and high end items. 

5. Budget.

Trying not to sound too much like a parent, it is important that you keep an eye on what you're spending on skincare and makeup products. It's really easy to walk to aisles of boots filling your basket, but practice self restraint! I tend to put aside a budget at the start of the month, which means I make less impulse purchases and put more thought into what I pick up. If you want to go even further make a list of everything you buy, it can help you to release that you don't really need to buy 4 mascaras in one month...

So there are my tips. Do you have any great pointers for starting a beauty habit on a budget?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Eclat Foundation

In December I purchased Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Eclat Foundation. After numerous trips to the YSL beauty counter and reading a plethora of blog reviews I decided to take the plunge and part with £30 (gulp) in exchange for the beautiful glass bottle. I've waited this long to blog because I really wanted to be able to give a honest, all round review of it. And without sounding silly I think i may be a little bit in love. 

The packaging is really sleek and looks beautiful. Not particularly practical for taking away with you as it is quite heavy, but ideal for sitting on your dressing table. The pump is great and gives out just the right amount. 

The formula of this foundation is fantastic, and it offers a very good coverage without clogging the skin. I find this is ideal for my spot prone skin as the light texture allows my skin to breath. There are a good range of shades available, which makes matching to your skin tone easy. 

The foundation offers a medium coverage, but can be layered depending on the amount of coverage you need. I found that this foundation covered up all of my blemishes flawlessly and provided me with a very even skin tone. This can feel quite wet when you first apply, and I have found the best way to buff into my skin is with a blending sponge. But the finished look is illuminated, dewy skin. 

Seasonal advantages
I started using this foundation in the winter, and have taken it right through Spring and Summer. I've found that this foundation caters for all the seasons! Because it can be layered it lends itself to being heavier in the winter, and a lighter sheen in the summer. It allows the skin to breath and prevents it from becoming shiny or oily in the warmer weather. It also has great lasting power and I find I can go all day without reapplying.

No primer or concealer, one layer of YSL

So is it worth the rather large price tag? In a word, yes. This product not only offers long lasting coverage, but it illuminates the skin, giving a really flawless and dewy finish. It covers blemishes seamlessly and can be used without primer or concealer. I'm on my second bottle and I have no doubt I'll be taking another trip to the YSL counter soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer skincare routine

This summer has been an extremely busy time for me. Not only have I moved into my own house (I feel like a real adult!) but I've adopted a little kitten called Megan! That doesn't mean beauty has taken a backseat, and I've been coveting a range of great products to share with you. Today I am going to talk about my summer skincare routine. Personally summer makes me lazy (or should i say lazier than usual...) and so the key for me is simplicity. 

In the morning I like to keep things super straightforward and I usually start by washing my face in the shower with my Clarisionic Mia 2 My current go to is La Roche-Posay Effaclar purifying foaming gel which i blogged about here. This is a great everyday face wash which doesn't cost the earth. It foams up well, has a great fresh feel and prevents my skin from looking shiny. 

Once I've washed my face I usually skip straight to moisturising. At the moment I am using Pepta-Bright even tone skin enhancer, which is a serum designed to enhance the appearance of skin whilst providing moisture and illumination. I love this as it also acts as a primer, blurring the appearance of imperfections and calming angry blemishes. It's a little bit pricey, but I can honestly say my first bottle lasted me about 2 months, even using religiously every day. And I've just repurchased so I must have been impressed...

The majority of my skincare goes on during the evening, when i have more time and I find putting in a little effort before bed means more sleep in the morning. 

First up is the removal of make up (personally my favourite part!) and for this I like to use a cleanser. My current love is The Body Shop's Camomile silky cleansing oil is from their new range of camomile based products. This promises to remove all traces of make up, whilst delivering soft, refreshed skin. I'm always wary of oil cleansers, as I suffer with spotty skin and this can cause a flare up. However I absolutely love this product. Not only does it remove all of my make up with only a few squirts but it doesn't leave an oily residue on my skin. It has a very subtle flowery scent and my skin feels beautifully smooth after using. Once I've used this I tend to use a cleansing solution soaked in cotton wool to get rid of any traces of dirt or make up. A great value micellar cleansing solution is Botanics All bright 3 in 1 cleansing solution. It unclogs pores and tones in one swift action leaving skin smooth and clear. 

Once my skin is make up free I like to put some extra effort into removing my eye make up. I have sensitive eyes so i tend to use something that's not too greasy or fragrance heavy. Garnier 2 in 1 express eye make up remover  is my go to product at the moment for getting rid of any trace of mascara without the need to rub.

Last in my routine is moisturising. I normally start with my La Roche-Posay Effacular Duo [+] which i reviewed here. This helps my skin to stay clear and bright and although it's an extra step in my routine it has a great impact on my face. Last but not least I use an moisturiser. I like quite a thick moisuriser and Superdrugs vitamin E intense moisture is thick without being greasy. It makes my skin feel soft and prevents me from waking up with dry or dull skin. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top tips to start sewing

I'm not claiming to be a professional sewer but I enjoy spending some quality time with my sewing machine, and in my books there's nothing better than being able to proudly show off your homemade goodies. The hardest aspect for me was actually getting started. I was lucky my mum who also wanted to start sewing, so we were able to help each other out. But If I had been riding solo I probably wouldn't have had the motivation to get started. So here are my top tips for starting a sewing habit (be warned, it's addictive).

1. DON'T go and buy a sewing machine. As tempting as it may be to run out and buy a shiny new sewing machine with lots of wonderful buttons , don't. As committed as you may be to starting a new hobby, sometimes even the best laid plans don't go as they should. Instead I would suggest borrowing one from a family member (a nan or aunt is bound to have a sewing machine) or scouring the charity shops for a cheap alternative. Lots of sewing shops also offer reconditioned machines which are absolutely perfect for beginners. And although an old/borrowed machine may not have 234 different stitches available, it will do the job and gives you a chance to test out your new hobby without spending a fortune. 

2. Look for a local sewing club or night school. Starting sewing without any support can be a little bit scary. Even with my nan's sewing machine at my disposal I was too afraid to start by myself in case I broke the needle/threaded the bobbin incorrectly (I wasn't even too sure what a bobbin was...). I was lucky to find a cheap night class that I could join, and this gave me the confidence to go home and sew by myself. Being around like minded people who also want to learn is a really confidence boost, and it means there's always someone on hand to help if you can't quite work out why your machine is sewing backwards. 

3. Make what you want to make. This sounds very silly but decide what you want to make and stick to your guns. Don't worry about starting small, but start with something you are interested in. If you're not motivated to make it, chances are you won't finish your project. 

4. Look in your wardrobe. If you fancy making clothes then look in your wardrobe before you start. As much as you enjoy lusting after 1960's style dresses, if your wardrobe is full of collared tops and jeans then it's pointless making one. Why? Because however much you like it, chances are you'll never wear it. Think about what shapes suit you, patterns you wear most and the garments that you're most likely to wear. This is a great starting point for making a piece that you'll really love. 

5. Choose your pattern wisely. There are thousands of modern patterns on the market, and there's also a high probability of finding some amazing vintage patterns in charity shops. However be cautious, If patterns are older they may be harder to follow with extremely complicated language! Brands I would recommend are Cynthia Rowley, New Look and McCalls. Ebay is a great place to start for patterns, just type in these brands and see what takes your fancy. Starting sewing can be intimidating due to all the complicated lingo, but these patterns offer the most straightforward instructions out there. 

6. Use your local resources. I laaaav material and I'm sure I'm not the only one guilty of wandering around John Lewis' material department wanting to buy everything my eyes land on. However tempting it is to buy an expensive Cath Kidston print, restrain yourself. Chances are there will be a sewing shop somewhere near you which will offer the same materials that can be found in a large department store for a fraction of the price. So pop into any teeny weeny material shops you spy, you'll probably pick up a bargain. 

7. Don't give up! It sounds silly but persistence is the key. If you're following a pattern and come across a word that looks foreign, don't let it put you off! There are plenty of you tubers that cover sewing techniques, many that offer advice and tips to make your sewing experience much easier. Practice makes perfect, and the more you sew the easier it will become.