Sunday, 30 October 2011

Hair Saving Superheroes

First of all, sorry about the long absence and lack of posting. I've got loads and loads of ideas for posts, from reviews to NOTDs and possibly a few tutorials thrown in as well, but unfortunately time is incredibly short at the moment. I'm quite literally working day and night, so I haven't got a lot of energy in the time I do have for posting. Hopefully that will change soon enough.

This post is about a few things that have absolutely transformed my hair from a frizzy, limp mess into something a lot more acceptable. A few years back I used to dye my hair black, but then got bored of it and wanted to go back to my natural hair colour (a darkish brown), so had it bleached out. This was pretty much death for my hair - I had it cut quite short afterwards, but it was only about five months ago that the last bit of bleached hair was chopped off. It didn't get much better afterwards either, though. My hair is naturally quite dry, but over the summer it somehow managed to be frizzy, damaged and greasy at the same time.
Even my boyfriend and parents started commenting on the terrible condition of my hair (if anyone else dared to I probably would have killed them, haha). I just didn't know what to do with it.

The first thing that really made a difference in the condition of my hair was a keratin supplement. My mum got me some as she was taking it for her weak nails and thought it would be good for mine as well. I didn't notice any difference in my nails, but boy did it transform my hair! It completely got rid of the limpness and balanced it out, so it wasn't greasy at the roots and frayed at the tips. I tried a couple and they all worked fine, but I would like to issue a word of warning: It worked like a dream for me, but some people produce enough keratin as it is and too much of it can cause horrible course hair and thick skin. I have now stopped taking it and will continue using a box every other month or so.

My second little saviour is this Iron Style & Hold Spray by TRESemme, for £4.80. I know a lot of people hate this product, but there's a reason for that. It says on the bottle that you can use it on wet/damp hair as well as on dry hair.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT EVER use this on dry hair before using heated styling devices. It will leave your hair sticky and crunchy and makes styling extremely difficult.
However, if you use it on wet hair before blow drying it's a completely different story. I use a few spritzes all around and then massage it into towel dried hair before getting my hair dryer out and the end result is lovely and smooth. As it's also a styling spray I don't need any hair spray afterwards unless I'm doing an updo or curling my hair (which I don't do often). A really great product if used on wet hair.

Sorry about the grainy-ness in these pictures - I had to take them late at night and ramp the ISO on my camera way up
This is just love in a bottle. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love these two bottles of heaven. The Ojon Damage Reverse shampoo costs £20 and the conditioner retails at £21.50. I got these for free at a special John Lewis event and as they're quite on the pricey side I would have never usually bought them, but OH MY GOD.
After the first wash I was unsure, the second wash was a bit better and then from the third wash onwards I was completely hooked. It's like this product has taken my hair off and replaced it with something much nicer. It's so soft I just want to stroke it all the time. It's smooth but not so slick that it won't react to styling. It's never been so shiny no matter how much oil, serum or shine spray I put over it.  And the day after washing it only gets better! I'm so in love with this, so even though the price tag does hurt a little bit I will be repurchasing this whenever my hair needs a little pick-me-up.
Of course it's meant for very, very dry hair, so if yours tends to be a bit oily this is probably way too heavy for you, but anyone else who just gets course and frizzy and dry hair this really is a miracle worker. It does exactly what it says on the tin: it really does reverse the damage my hair has suffered in all this time.

Naturally, I'm still not completely satisfied with my hair, as I feel that it could do with a little bit more volume now that it's all silky and smooth. But I'm pretty sure that's nothing that can't be fixed with some heated rollers, the right products and even the odd bit of backcombing. If you have any recommendations for products that would push up the volume on my hair without making it all dry and frizzy again, please leave them in the comment box below, as I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Weekly Lust List

I thought I'd make a new feature on my blog and make a weekly lust list. This is quite a popular topic in the blogosphere and personally I always like reading what other people would like to buy. Maybe it will also help me stop buying things that I don't really need/want? At the very least it's always fun to do a bit of online window shopping!

1) Asos Belted Dress in Pheasant Print, £35.00
I've got a bit of an obsession going on at the moment with day dresses and this little beauty would be a perfect addition to my wardrobe! It's a beautiful colour for autumn/winter and I just adore the rucheing on the sleeves, which are also a very comfortable length. The belt's included in the price and adds a nice bit of interest and a contrasting colour pop. The only thing is that I'd have to buy some more tights first, seeing as the dog has chewed up two pairs last week!

2) Benefit Watt's up! soft focus highlighter, £24.50
Just as I was starting to brag about how good my skin's been lately, it decides to go all dull and horrible on me. It might just be the winter weather, or it might be my current moisturiser, which I'm starting to eye with a bit of suspicion. Either way, I'm hankering after something that will bring a bit of life back to my complexion and this new highlighter/illuminator by Benefit looks really intriguing. I'm also loving the pretty packaging with the sponge applicator on one end.

3) Topshop Knitted Chunky Zip Cardigan, £60.00
This looks soooo warm and comfortable, I just want to snuggle up in it right now. I'm loving the contrasting stripe down the middle and slightly Navajo-ey pattern on the chest. It's the kind of thing you'd get bullied for when I was at school, but now it's in fashion I can let my inner geek out. It's such a shame about the price, though - £60 for a jumper?? Looks like this isn't happening any time soon for me.

4) Forever21 Sparkling Love Ring, £3.15
I adore Forever21's jewellery section and this ring is just so pretty! I tend to get allergic reactions to cheap jewellery if I have it for too long, so my collection consists of some keep-forever pieces that are made of gold or silver and a few fashion/costume pieces which I rotate regularly. The price is reasonable, so I'd be happy to wear it a few times and then chuck it once it makes my hand turn green.

5) Stila Retractable Powder Brush, £17.00
I really, really need to buy some more make-up brushes, but just can't bring myself to spend any money on them at the moment. This is something I need desperately for powder touch-ups on the go. I refuse to use sponges and powder puffs that come with a face powder, as they're difficult to clean and therefore unhygienic and also pretty rubbish for application. At the moment I just blot my face with tissue/toilet paper if I need to, but obviously that doesn't last for too long, so I really need to get my hands on one of these beauties, so I can powder myself up without getting stuff all over my handbag.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Haul Alert! Westfield Stratford Shopping City

This is a bit of a belated haul post - I wanted to do it for ages, but just couldn't get around to it, so apologies for the delay. My boyfriend had to go to an exhibition for work and asked if I wanted to come down to London with him for a couple of days and as I had a bit of time off I said yes. It turned out that our hotel was a Premier Inn right on top of the new Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, so I made the most of my day alone and went on a bit of a spending spree.

First up is this dress I picked up from New Look. It's not actually by New Look but by a label called Mela Loves London, which had its own little section upstairs in the stores. I desperately need some more "smart" clothes that I can wear to the office and I totally fell in love with the cute polka dot print and the soft wool material. The cowl neck is also incredibly flattering. At £25 it was also a bargain!

I also picked up this ring while I was there, which was on sale for £1! I don't really know why it was in the sale section, as they also had loads of these rings for the full price and there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it.

Next I popped into Forever21 where I just couldn't resist this sweater. It's got Beagle puppies on it (*excited squeal*)! They had these with all sorts of animals, but the Beagles have got to be by far the cutest. It's one of those things that's so cheesy it's great again and will make a lovely cover up for cosy, lazy weekends. I think this was about £15, but I don't really remember anymore.

I also went into a shop called Beauty Base which mainly sold cheap perfumes - not as in awful crappy perfumes, but normal perfumes for less money - and cheap makeup - as in awful crappy makeup. I picked up a pack of five mini nail varnishes by L.A. Colors, as I loved the shades in the pack. I haven't tried any of these yet, so I can't comment on their colour density or staying power, but seeing as it cost me a pound or so for five nail polishes I won't be overly sad if they turn out to be rubbish.

I also got this bath and shower gel as I was running out and this smells absolutely gorgeous. It's a very strong fruity and refreshing scent, which might not be for everybody, but it's something I really love under the shower as it always manages to wake me up, even on the bleakest of mornings. Again, at round about two pounds for a 500ml bottle this is a complete bargain.

I also had to keep myself entertained, so I popped down to WHSmith and bought two books which were on a "buy-one-get-one-for-£1" offer. I already finished reading "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" and it has already become one of my favourite books ever, I really can't recommend it enough.

I bought this blusher from Topshop after I read loads and loads of positive reviews about their blushes. As you can see I've already been using it quite a bit. This is a cream formula in "Pinch", a gorgeous deep pink / fuchsia colour. The colour payoff of this product is absolutely amazing (see swatches below), it looks exactly like it does in the pot which is so rare. It's a creamy formula that dries into a powder on your skin, so you've got to blend it quickly before it dries. It's easy to overdo it with this blusher as it's just so colour intense, so it's better to just carefully dab it on rather than swirling your fingers around the pan and then to build it up on your cheeks as you go along.
It makes my face look really fresh and glowing, as if I'd just come back from a winter walk in the snow, which was exactly what I was looking for, so I'm extremely pleased with this product.

As I went through my lipsticks the other day I noticed that I always buy pretty much the same shade: a slightly greyish nude pink. In all seriousness, all my lipsticks are pretty much the same and only differ in finishes - some are glittery, some are sheer and some are matte. So I decided it's about time I got something a bit more brave, especially as there tends to be a recurring trend for strong lips every winter.
I went for this super intense fire engine red by Dior. It's actually called "Rouge Dolce Vita" from the Diorific line. How amazing is the packaging? It's a long lasting formula, so it's a good idea to apply lip balm beforehand, though it's still relatively creamy compared to other long lasting lipsticks I've tried. Oh, and when I say long lasting I mean long lasting. This stayed on my lips for hours, despite several drinks and a two course meal. You'd still need to touch it up from time to time, as it lost its sheen after a while, but I sure won't mind to pull this beauty out of my handbag any time soon.

Top: Diorific lipstick in Rouge Dolce Vita
Bottom: Topshop blush in Pinch

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Surprisingly Good and Surprisingly Bad

This post is about two products that have really surprised me after I bought them - one in a positive way whereas the other was underwhelming to say the least.
I will start with the good surprise:

Nivea Pure & Natural Hand Cream

Before I start there's something you should know: I HATE hand creams. I'd never ever use hand cream if I could get away with it, but unfortunately my hands get really dry and when it gets cold it can get so bad that the skin around my knuckles cracks open and bleeds. So I have to use hand cream. My problem is the really horrible greasy feeling it leaves and walking around like a T-Rex for half an hour, unable to touch anything because I'll leave a sticky film. The solution I've come up with is that I only use hand cream at night before going to bed, which means it needs to be quite moisturising.
The ONLY reason I bought this was because it was cheap. Nivea strikes me as a brand that is very good at being average. They don't seem to have any stand-out products, neither exceptionally good or exceptionally bad - essentially a brand to stick with if you don't want to take any risks.
It actually took me two or three weeks to realise that this hand cream is as a matter of fact really good. It only takes about five minutes to sink in and leaves my hands feeling velvety rather than gloopy and disgusting. At the moment it's moisturising enough for me to only apply it over night, but I feel that as the temperatures drop I'll have to apply it during the day as well. But you know what? I haven't got a problem with that.
I can't find an RRP, but you can get this for £2 for a 100ml tube at Tesco at the moment. This is really a product that has wowed me when I wasn't expecting anything from it.

On to a more negative surprise:

Origins Modern Friction face scrub

This had just won a beauty award when I was looking for a new face scrub. It's one of Origins' top sellers and as I hadn't tried anything from this brand before I decided to give it a go. I read some reviews about it being quite harsh and grainy, but that didn't really put me off as I like my scrub to give me a good scrubbing.
My skin isn't overly sensitive, but this stuff it couldn't handle. "Harsh" is an understatement. It has a very dense texture and the grains inside are relatively large. You're supposed to use it dry if you have normal skin which I found absolutely impossible, as it felt like I was tearing off bits of my skin. Sensitive skin types can use it damp and it's a bit better then, but you're still faced with another problem.
Once it gets wet, it starts foaming on your face. This isn't really a problem as such, as many of us will love a good lather, but this scrub is so jam packed with LDL and fruit acids it physically hurts. A little bit of the foam got in my nose when I was washing it off and it stung so badly it made my eyes water. And don't get me started on the two times I opened my eyes too early and got some of this product in! You may as well just dunk your face in petrol.
Retailing at around £30 it's not cheap, though you do get a generous 125ml tube, which (unfortunately) seems to last forever.

Monday, 17 October 2011

October Glossybox Contents

As I woke up today there was a lovely parcel waiting for me: My Glossybox had arrived! I know there's a lot of people who don't want to hear about beauty boxes anymore, but personally I still love them. I really like surprises and trying things that I would have never usually picked up.

There's quite a bit of competition going on between different beauty box schemes at the moment. There's Boudoir Prive, which to me seems to be a little bit too high end. It's nice to try expensive samples, but if I do fall in love with a product then I want to be able to purchase it without going into overdraft.
Amarya has a scheme that provides natural and organic beauty products and you're guaranteed to have one full sized product every month. Whereas I'm all for organic when it comes to food, I am yet to be wowed by organic cosmetics, especially make-up. I'd rather read a few more reviews of the products before signing up to this one.
Feel Unique is another online retailer that has launched its own beauty box scheme and by the looks of it, Glossybox' closest contender. Their products aren't overly high end or niche, so lots of people will be able to incorporate them into their beauty regime. This month's boxes are already sold out and I'm considering myself to sign up for next month.
Latest In Beauty is a bit of a different one - it only costs £1 which you pay by text and you get to choose your samples yourself. However, you get what you pay for and you essentially get a box of sachets and seeing as I absolutely HATE sachets I think I'll give this one a miss. There's also a themed one out at the moment for £4.95, but the products just don't appeal to me.
A new launch this month is Carmine, again at a similar price point to all the other boxes. They're trying very hard to be different, both with the design of their boxes and the general tone of the website. These are not (yet) personalised, so everyone gets the same products and you can look them up on the website. The samples included in their first box haven't particularly wowed me which is a shame for a new launch, though I will be keeping an eye on this one.

So at the moment there's quite a bit of competition for GlossyBox, but a bit of healthy competition is surely good for us customers, as brands try to spoil us with products! I'm going to stop rambling now and get on with this month's contents. The box was themed "Six Pack - The Glossybox to end any beauty drought!" which got me a little bit excited thinking there'd be an extra product this month and at first sight it didn't disappoint. (I even let out a little shriek when I opened it)

The first sample on my card is the Dermalogica Age Smart MultiVitamin Thermafoliant.
At 15ml it's a decent sample, though not overwhelmingly big. Then again it's not a product you'd use every day anyway, so it's an acceptable size. I love Dermalogica, but I'm a bit disappointed that I received a sample from their Age Smart range when I'm 22 years old. I'll still give it a go, as I have tried anti ageing products in the past which did miracles for my skin, so you never know!
Sample Value: £8.10

Another Dermalogica product to go with the first one, the MultiVitamin Power Recover Masque, again in a 15ml tube. My comments are the same as with the above again: Decent sized sample, but not really relevant to my skin type.
Sample Value: £7.07

On to the first full sized product, a 12ml nail polish by Leighton Denny from the Colour & Care range in the shade "Babydoll". I've never tried any of this brand's nail polishes, so I'm excited that I received this one. It's going on my nails straight away this afternoon!
Sample Value: £11.00

Next is another full sized product, the Smudge Stick Waterproof eyeliner in Moray by Stila. Stila is an extremely hot brand at the moment, so again I'm very happy to have received something from their range, especially when it's not just a sample. I'll always find a use for an eyeliner and I like that it's not in black, as I've already got more than enough black eye pencils. This should be a lot of fun to try out.
Sample Value: £13.00

On to the inevitable perfume sample. I can't help but feel ripped off by perfume samples in beauty boxes. For one, you can get these for free with magazines or just by visiting a department store and secondly, if you don't like the scent there's absolutely nothing you can do with a perfume sample. This is a bag of three samples, "Visa", "Fracas" and "Calypso" by Robert Piguet. Having three different ones is quite a good solution, as you're more likely to find one that you fancy, but I'd still rather not see these again in my Glossybox.
Sample Value: £3.12

This one's not on the card, so it's a bit of an extra treat this month: a little beauty bag by Dermalogica! Personally, I think it's a great little extra and it's going straight into my handbag replacing my old beauty case. I know it's got a brand name printed on it, but it's of good quality and the perfect size, so I'm happy. And inside I found this:

Another Dermalogica product! This is the Age Smart Renewal Lip Complex. Okay, so this is probably the smallest sample I have ever seen in my life. Then again, it's a serum, so you don't need a lot and it's for your lips, so you really, really don't need much. The full product is only 1.75ml big, so you get more than half of the original size anyway.
Sample Value: £12.86

This month's box value comes to £55.15 and that's not including the little make-up pouch, so I definitely feel like I've got my money's worth. The selection of brands is excellent and I love the extras I received this month. It's just a bit of a shame about the anti-ageing products, as they're not targeted towards my skin type, but I'm happy to give them a go and there'll be a follow-up post to this one at the end of the month where I'll be reviewing how I got on with all the products.

Friday, 14 October 2011

NOTD #01 Your Majesty

I rarely paint my nails anything but a clear colour as I'm currently working as a waitress and I'm not allowed any nail varnish at all at work - which is a great shame, as I love having colour on my nails. But seeing as I've broken my arm the waitressing had to be put on hold for a few weeks, so I thought I'd make the most of it and dig into my box of colourful polishes.
My nails are quite short at the moment, because I had a bit of breakage on one hand and had to cut them all down to the same size while I wait for them to grow back.

This is shade 239 Your Majesty by Rimmel from the I love Lasting Finish series and it's probably the weirdest colour I have in my collection right now. It's a metallic silver with lots and lots of shimmer, but at the same time it has a matte finish. I kind of love and hate it at the same time, because it's quite unusual. It lasts a good 2-4 days before chipping, but the most amazing thing about it is that I got this colour density with just one coat and it only took a couple of minutes to dry.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Maybelline Volum' Express Cat Eyes Mascara Review

I haven't posted in what seems like ages, as I've had quite a lot going on with work and visits to the doctor and then I went to London for a couple of days. My boyfriend had to go to an exhibition for work and asked if I wanted to come along and when I found out that he was staying on top of the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford I had no choice but to go. I might make a haul post of what I bought when I was there, as there's quite a bit - I had to entertain myself somehow!

But back to the topic on hand. I bought this mascara a while ago, but thought I'd give it a good go before I start posting reviews about it.

This costs £7.99 and you can get it pretty much anywhere... Boots, Superdrug, supermarkets...
I have never actually tried a Maybelline mascara before, so I thought I'd give this one a go, seeing as I liked the leopard print packaging as well.

As you can see the wand is curved which is supposed to give extra volume and curve lashes. I found it extremely flimsy and always worry that it will snap when I put it back into the tube. However, the thin bristles do a very good job at grabbing every last one of my lashes and keeping them separated.
This is to give you an idea how it looks applied on lashes:



The one thing I noticed straight away with this mascara is that it simply doesn't do what it advertises. This is NOT a volumising mascara. That doesn't mean it's bad. It did a really great job at lengthening and separating my lashes. For a little bit of volume you need to apply two coats, but beware that any more than that and it will clump like mad.
I'm pleased with the result, but would use this as an everyday mascara as the result is quite natural looking, especially if you only apply one coat. For that price it's a very decent product, though not for you if you're after anything more dramatic.