Sunday, 28 October 2012

Essence 24h Hand Protection Balm review

Before continuing any further, please note that I'm reviewing a hand cream, yet I really don't like hand creams. I consider them a necessity, as especially in winter my hands can get so dry the skin on my knuckles actually cracks and bleeds, so a good hand cream (or a thick slather of vaseline or 8 hour cream over night) can usually prevent this problem. But the thing is that I hate - HATE - the feeling of greasy hands while I go about my day to day business, so I've just resigned myself to applying hand cream over night to do its magic for the following day.

The thing that made me buy this one in an instant was the price - let's not kid ourselves here. It cost 1€. That's less than a pound! I was sold in an instant. With such a low price I didn't expect any miracles, so I wasn't overly disappointed when this turned out to be a complete dud.

Let's start with this (in my opinion rather outrageous) claim of 24 hours of intensive care and protection. Yeah... no. It doesn't happen, sorry. I've tried other intensive hand creams before and while they left a horrible greasy film that took forever to sink in, I'd wake up to beautiful, soft and nourished hands. With this there's no difference at all, so I guess it's already an achievement that my hands don't get any worse.

So, if it's not a very nourishing cream, does it sink in quickly at least? No, it doesn't do that either. In fact, it just sits on your hands for ages, so I assume that most of it has ended up smeared all over my bed sheets, rather than sunk into my skin like it's supposed to be.

On the plus side it has a light and pleasant smell, slightly reminiscent of Nivea cream or baby lotion, which I find very comforting. It comes in a lightweight tube which is easy to carry around. And it only cost 1€. But next time, I'd rather invest a little more money and get something better out of it.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Toner Review

Kiehl's was a brand I never really considered buying into. Sure, I'd heard rave reviews about their Creme de Corps and I knew some people were absolutely mad about Kiehl's, but personally nothing really sparked my interest in them. I don't know if it's the packaging which just looks - let's face it - boring and plain or the fact that they don't seem to advertise an awful lot and aren't talked about that much on beauty blogs either.

It was actually when shopping for a toner back in Cologne when (during a short bout of insanity) I thought to myself, "Let's try a brand I've never tried before!" and scuttled over to the Kiehl's counter. The very lovely lady recommended this one for a Kiehl's virgin like me, as it's a toner most people seem to get on with without any trouble at all.

The thing that really stands out about this product is that for a toner it's incredibly thick. When I squirt a little bit onto a cotton pad it literally just sits there until I rub it in rather than soak the pad like other ones do. I was actually told you could use this without a cotton pad and just pat it into the skin using fingers alone.

As a matter of fact I did get on quite well with this product. My skin isn't overly sensitive, but it felt very gentle and hydrating, without leaving skin feeling either tight or greasy. Using the toner without a cotton pad gives skin a big moisture boost, whereas using some cotton with it gives the skin more of a gentle deep clean getting out all that gunk your cleanser didn't (my preferred method).

Going with the theme of gentle, the toner smells of almost nothing, though I can sometimes catch a very faint hint of baby lotion when applying it around my nose.
One thing I really like about it is that it's one of those products that seem to last forever and ever: I've had my bottle from early June onwards and I'm only just about below the top edge of the label! The fact that it's so thick makes it very easy to get just the right amount out of the bottle each time rather than soak the cotton pad as well as your hands and the floor with out-of-control toner.
The bottle is made out of plastic, which strikes a perfect balance between sturdy and light-weight, making it perfect for travelling.
The only downside is that it does tend to look a bit mucky after a while, leaving white residue on the walls of the bottle (a little like gone off milk), but if that doesn't put you off then I can whole-heartedly recommend this product for anyone looking for a gentle, yet effective toner.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Toner retails for £16.50 for 250ml.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sample Summary #5

Oh yes, guess who's back in the game? After a stressful move coupled with the start of a new job blogging had to take a serious back seat. But now that I've sort of settled I've realised that it's left a big fat hole in my life, so I've managed to carve out some time to get stuck into it again and just sitting here typing away on my MacBook early in the morning is making me giddy with excitement.
Now, without further ado, let's get stuck into some samples I've been collecting lately again.

1) Dr Schrammek Perfect Beauty Fluid (for normal and dry skin)
Full size: £50 for 40ml

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year or so, BB creams won't be anything new to you. While the massive hype started in the Far East, the cream was actually invented in Germany, as a post-surgery treatment to make women look and feel fabulous without irritating their skin. The name behind this genius invention is none other than Dr. Schrammek, whose daughter has now adapted the original (and fairly thick and pasty) formula to the demands of the modern woman in bringing out the "Perfect Beauty Fluid".
I was very excited to try out this "mother of all BB creams" and I got two sets of samples, one for dry to normal skin and one for oily and combination skin. I started out with this one as my skin was behaving fairly well, so didn't feel like I needed much coverage.

Most of the time when selecting beauty products for my face I go straight to the palest shade and upon swatching it did seem like "Ivory" would be a fairly good fit. Unfortunately it made my skin look grey, dull and to be frank, fairly ghastly, but I'd already thrown away the other shades, so I had to blush and bronze a little bit of life back into my complexion.
The cream applied quite thick as you'd expect from a BB cream, but dried into a heavenly smooth and velvety finish which lasted all day long (not 8 hour working day, but really ALL DAY). The formula is really impressive, but having to buy two shades to blend them together makes it a bit of a no-go for me.

2) L'Oreal Revitalift Total Repair BB Cream
Full size: £14.99 for 50ml

When I was in my teens I felt like 23 was ancient; that kind of age where you have to be grown up and have a job, a house and the first out of two and a half children. Now that I'm 23 I sometimes still feel like a kid. Despite that, I'm getting more and more interested in anti-ageing skincare, as I am a firm believer that prevention is better than cure.
Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to comment on anti-ageing properties of products such as this BB cream (yes, another one of those), not only because it's a tiny sachet which only provided enough cream for one application.

What I can tell you was that I was pleasantly surprised by L'Oreals "other" BB cream offering (let's not even get started on Nude Magique and how appalled I am by it). I was expecting a thick, greasy paste that would sit on my skin and make it sweat underneath. Instead, this BB cream was surprisingly light-weight, with just the right amount of coverage to even out my skin while preserving a natural look. Despite the fact that the shade was a smidgen too dark in the swatch, it blended out very easily on my face and literally melted into my skin. I'm very pleased with this and would consider repurchasing the full size.

3) Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist 24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream
Full size: £52 for 15ml

Some people feel that it is a completely unnecessary step in a skin care routine, but I am a firm believer in eye cream. The right one can make you instantly feel refreshed, awake and alert and hide a multitude of sins (we're only human after all).
With this one, I should have heard the alarm bells ring when I saw "intensive" on the packaging. Now, intensive is often a good thing, but in the case of this eye cream it brings it down ever so slightly.

In this case, "intensive" translates into "really rather greasy" on my skin. The cream already feels quite waxy in the pot, which can make it difficult to get the right amount out of the pot. For a night treatment it feels lovely and very nourishing, but in the mornings you have to give it a lot of time to sink in before applying make-up, or otherwise your eyeshadow or eye liner will slip. Once it's sunk in it's absolutely fine and has no impact on make-up whatsoever, but if you're time strapped in the mornings you may want to give this one a miss.

4) Alessandro Pedix Feet Heel Rescue Balm
Full size: €14,95 for 100ml

This one's a relic from my last German Glossybox which I received in July. I wasn't overly happy to see another Alessandro product, as my experience with the brand so far hadn't been overly positive. I also don't really believe in creams that claim to soften your feet - in the end, only a good and thorough scrubbing will do the job properly.
This cream has changed my mind a little, though. The smell is exactly what you'd expect from a foot cream: Herby, minty and lemony - I'm not entirely sure why this seems to have become a convention among foot creams, but I shall get back to the topic. The balm sinks in fairly well and - the thing that surprised me the most - it really does make your heels a little softer. Now, with my new job I'm constantly on my feet, so they get battered during the day, but this really helped to revive them a little bit. I'm still not necessarily going to run to an Alessandro counter first thing when I next go to Germany, but it's been a pleasant surprise nonetheless.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Guest Post: Kitchen Beautician - A Guide to DIY Beauty

Long time no see! My new life has kept me insanely busy and unfortunately the blogging has had to suffer, but whenever I sit down on the couch getting comfy and cosy and ready to relax with my MacBook, I just end up falling asleep after five minutes!
That's why Anna from NerdWallet has helped me out a little bit with a few handy tips on DIY beauty. We all love luxurious, beautifully scented and packaged beauty products, but I've now learned that sometimes you'd rather have your shower fixed than invest in an £80 cream. I hope you enjoy her tips and ideas!

Anna writes for NerdWallet, a financial literacy website that brings you the best tips to save money on credit cards, travel, shopping and more. Her most recent project is finding the best Black Friday deals to help shoppers get the best gifts for the holidays at the lowest prices of the season. 

Kitchen Beautician

Ladies, it’s no secret; beauty is a big investment. Given that brand-name products range from $20-$100 apiece, it’s not unheard of for the avid beautician to spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on beauty products alone each year. But, let’s face it; we can’t always afford to shell out big bucks on pretty palettes and lavish lotions. Did you know that you can whip up – quite literally – cheap and all-natural versions of, essentially, every beauty product imaginable in your very own kitchen? The web is packed with recipes for homemade substitutes for all of your favorite beauty products. We’ll brief you on the essentials.

Shopping makeup? Hold it right there. Every girl knows it’s easy to overspend on products we just ‘have to have.’ The next time you run up your makeup tab, consider the amount you could have saved by trying these and endless low-cost, homemade alternatives easily searchable on the internet.
Bronzing powder – Mix your favorite kitchen spices, and what do you get? Seasoning for your favorite Thanksgiving dish or a homemade bronzing powder. Mix cocoa powder, nutmeg powder and cinnamon powder as fit for your skin tone (listed darkest to lightest). Using your fingertips, sift well for an even, clump-free powder mixture. Use as a loose powder or, for a dewy touch, mix a few drops of an essential oil of your liking, such as lavender or rosemary oil. Pat your mixture into a recycled compact case to take with you on the go.
Lip gloss – If you’re like me, you lose lip gloss at almost the same rate you use it. Whether it’s checkout-line chapstick or a brand name tube, it’s likely to slip out of your pocket or just vanish into the abyss by the week’s end – and your hard-earned cash vanishes with it. Now, you can stir up, then stock up on your own quick and easy, all-natural lip gloss, courtesy of The Herb Companion. Just mix 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel with ½ of a teaspoon of coconut oil and 1/8 of a teaspoon of vitamin E oil (all sold at Whole Foods and other natural foods markets). Melt down a sliver of your favorite lipstick for color, or stir in a drop or two of mint or rose oil for flavored or scented lip gloss.

Skin Care
Take a look at the label of your favorite facial cleanser or moisturizer, and you’ll find that it’s made with essential oils and other natural ingredients, easily obtained at a more affordable price. And, because pure substances can be used at higher concentrations, more often than not, they’re better for your skin. So, when it comes time to replenish your skin care products, get your skin food fix at your local natural foods market.
Moisturizers – Oils are your new miracle workers. Enough said. Learn more about the best oils for your skin type here.
Facial masks – Many foods can be used as either facial masks or toners for cleaner, healthier skin. Here’s a list of 9 DIY facial masks. Chances are you won’t have to spare a penny or even leave your home for them.

Hair Care
With all of its styling tools and products, our hair is known to hold many secrets. Glamorous ’dos don’t come without a price, however. Sometimes it’s better – on your wallet and your scalp – to skip the secret (chemical-laden) potions and opt for au naturale upkeep.
Dry shampoo – According to Organic Authority, cornstarch, baking soda and ground oats can all be used as a dry shampoo for grease and grime-free locks made easy. Just rub a small amount into your roots and comb out the excess.
Conditioner – For natural conditioning, coconut oil does the trick. The latest fad, coconut oil is said to have endless uses, so it may interest you to have a supply handy, sold by the jar at the $10-range.

Monday, 1 October 2012

September Favourites

Apologies for missing last month's favourites post, but this month's products haven't really changed at all, so it's like a joint August and September favourites post. With me and my boyfriend moving into our first own flat money's tight at the moment and beauty purchases have to be kept to a minimum in favour of living essentials, so there's not a whole lot of new products.
Anyway, on to the actual fun part.

TIGI Catwalk hair spray
For a long time I stayed far, far away from hair spray. Artificial scents and crispy hair are the two main things that deterred me and whenever I saw an ad or heard somebody gush about a hairspray that didn't feature either of those nasty side effects I just shrugged it off in disbelief. So when I got this for Christmas last year it went unused for ages and ages - so long actually, that TIGI has rebranded the series and this one is no longer available. This is particularly gutting as I've just discovered my love for this formula. It doesn't take an awful lot but will keep hair in place and prevent frizz all day long. Then, at the end of the night it can just as easily be brushed out again. I'm a convert. Now I just need to hope that this can will last as long as possible!

Omorovicza Complexion Perfector SPF 20
I got this one to try at my old job back in Germany. I feel it is important to state that, as I would have never ever spent £80 on a BB cream myself. However, I have to say I'm beginning to think it might be worth its extortionate price tag. I've been using this cream pretty much daily instead of foundation and I just love the way it evens out my skin tone but still lets my natural complexion shine through. Even though it applies quite thick and patchy at first, once it's sunk in it wears like a dream and easily lasts all day long. Not to mention the frosted glass bottle looks extravagant and classy on my (non-existant) dresser. I'll be gutted once this runs out!

Kryolan Satin Powder in SP555
I've already reviewed this product here, so no need to waffle on and repeat myself. This was a product I received in a German Glossybox and one I'm definitely looking out to repurchase in a few more shades whenever I can. The shimmer in it is absolutely gorgeous and I swear that with primer it stays on the lids forever (or until you take it off with make-up remover).

Biotherm Biosource Eau Auto Moussante
Deja-vu, anyone? Yes, this one's already been in a monthly favourites post and it's also had its own review here, but I'm still adamant that it's one of the best cleansers I've ever used. Probably on par with Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish, only that it lasts about 2-3 times as long. As you can see I'm running quite low on this one now and even though I've now bought a back-up cleanser it's not the same one, as  it's quite difficult to get hold of this one in the UK and I wanted to try something a little different. The woes of being a beauty blogger, eh?

Lush Karma Bubble Bar
This one's got its own picture, as by the time I'd grouped together my monthly favourites it had unfortunately long gone. The odd thing is, I'm not entirely sure what made me buy this bubble bar. I'm assuming it must have been the name or the pretty swirly colours. It contains patchouli, which is something I usually steer clear from and also seems to have quite the musky smell.
I was still on the fence when I crumbled this into my bath, but once I got into my heavenly tub of warm bubbles I instantly fell in love. I can almost certainly say that I have never felt so relaxed in my life (and I'd had a really horrible day before that!). Something about the scent just made me switch off from the world around me and drift off into a beautiful dream land. Absolutely gorgeous and I will have to repurchase one or two to keep handy for a nice bath at the end of a gruelling, horrible day.

Instagram Sunday #04

Lovely fireplace in our living room, but the carpet needs changing // Think the plugs might be slightly overloaded? (Do NOT try this at home) // Apple crisps // Fish for dinner // Creepy little shed in the garden // Delicious lunch // Quick trip to Boots // Abel & Cole delivery // Sunday roast dinner // Naughty stop at TGI's