Saturday, 29 November 2014

Review: Super Facialist by Una Brennan Deep Clean Pore Purifying Mask

Getting a sense of deja vu? The product I'm talking about has probably been on every blogger's favourites list and one stage or another. Having tried it myself, I can confirm that this is absolutely justified.

To start off, I usually tend to avoid clay masks. Not only do they make my skin feel weirdly tight, they also make a huge mess in the bathroom when you try to wash them off - not a combination that particularly excites me. Thankfully, this is different. While it does dry a little on the skin, it doesn't turn into a hard crust on your face and is a breeze to wash off.

Actually my first encounter with this was anything but positive - the morning after I first used this mask, I woke up with the biggest spot I'd had in my entire life. It seems like it's one of those products that really deep clean your skin making it get worse before it gets better - thankfully the incident never repeated itself.

I find that once a week is the perfect amount to use this mask to get it to draw out every last impurity but without that odd, tight feeling that so many masks leave on my skin. I think either for dry skin or for any skin in winter in general it would be a good idea to counteract this with a moisturising mask once or twice a week, but as it stands, I wouldn't want to be without it for its amazing ability to keep my skin looking clear, but somehow still glowy.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

#MakeOverTheWorld and the highlighter that made me reconsider

I never really paid much attention to The Body Shop make-up. Body butters? Oh, yes! The odd occasional skincare item? Sure, why not. But somehow I've never really felt that drawn to any of their make-up.

Funnily enough, I've never been too big a fan of highlighters either. My skin still has its occasional oily days and it just doesn't appeal to me to put shine back in when I've just spent ages trying my best to eliminate it.

Maybe it's a craving for all things sparkly around Christmas season, or maybe it's the subtlety of the Shimmer Waves, but this is the first highlighter that has made me reconsider.

I have swatched at intensity here so it would show up in the photograph, but you can still see that there's no chunky glitter and literally just a hint of rosy glow. You could use these shades separately and even apply them as eye shadows, but I like it the most when I just swirl a fluffy eye brush all over the pan and then apply the resulting shade on strategic points such as the tops of my cheekbones, under the brow bone or just above the cupid's bow. I never thought I'd do this, but I've found myself applying this almost daily and it just adds that special something to perfectly finish off any make-up look.

I was sent a this as part of the RSPCA's #MakeOverTheWorld campaign, which fights testing cosmetics on animals - something that I can definitely get behind. While testing cosmetics on animals has been banned within the EU for a long time, global companies have been able to simply do their testing abroad. Last year a new law was passed which banned the sales and marketing of products in the EU that have been tested on animals anywhere. This is an incredible victory and definitely a step in the right direction.

Sadly, there are still so many countries in the world that haven't followed suit - and then there are those like China, which make it mandatory for products to be tested on animals before they can even enter their market. So we still have a long way to go.

The thing with animal testing is not only is it cruel and at times absolutely pointless (there's no denying that rabbits and mice are not humans and their physiology is to a large part completely different from ours), there is just no need to be testing on animals anymore. Companies have a huge pool of ingredients to choose from, that have already been declared as perfectly safe and many natural and cruelty-free companies are guiding the way at how you can still be original and innovative without the need to torture a poor, defenseless animal.

To be honest, this campaign could not have come at a better time for me. I've always been against animal testing and for using ingredients that are as natural as possible, but the truth is that I never actively sought out products that are natural and cruelty-free - it was more of an added bonus if a product had those qualities. I feel like it's time for a shift in thinking and to be more conscious of what it is I'm putting on my face and body. This switch is going to be more of a gradual one - I can't exactly afford to replace my whole beauty and make-up stash and I still have tons of old products to review, but whenever I shop for cosmetics products I no longer just consider hype and pretty packaging, but also whether something would make for an ethical purchase or not.

If you want to read more about the RSPCA's #MakeOverTheWorld campaign, click on this link here. And while The Body Shop's products are not all completely natural, none of them are tested on animals, so you can buy them knowing that no poor creature had to suffer for our vanity.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Review: Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Paint Rich Russet

I'm a big, big fan of bronze eye shadows. Nothing's better at making my blue eyes really pop and they somehow manage to be both daytime and evening appropriate at the same time. So when there's a massively hyped up bronzey eye shadow....-ish product, what else am I to do other than go out and buy it?

There was quite a bit of a stir when these first came out, especially regarding this particular shade, "Rich Russet". The formula is creamy, but also quite liquid, so it's applied with a doe foot applicator rather than coming in a pot like most cream shadows. It feels quite wet on the eye lids for about half a minute, after which it dries down and doesn't really move anymore.

I must admit that I wasn't massively blown away by the pigmentation of this. If you blend it while it's still wet it is all too easy to blend away too much, leaving virtually no colour on the eye lids. But if you really pack it on it takes ages to dry and creasing becomes more likely.
Having said that I was pretty impressed by how well this stays put on the eye lids. Primer isn't really necessary and though you can add some powder shadow over the top to improve longevity, it does last most of the day without creasing.

Now, the colour is definitely something to write home about. The gold and silver shimmer in the brown base is so fine and dense that even after the shadow's dried down you get a foil like metallic effect. It makes for sparkly eyes that still look grown up and chic. It's just a shame that it's so difficult to build it up to the same intensity on the eye lids as you can see on the hand swatch. Otherwise it would literally be the perfect product.

But as it is, it's still a great eye shadow, which is easy to apply (you can just blend it out using your fingers if you're in a rush), lasts well all day and is budget friendly to boot.

Friday, 21 November 2014

My Little Cosy Box - November 2014

Lately I've been getting excited about beauty boxes again and that is in part thanks to My Little Box which offers a mixture of beauty and lifestyle items every month. They have the best packaging I have ever seen, which means that every box feels like a specially put together gift box. And what better way to see in the weekend than a gorgeous little box of surprises?

This month's theme is "cosy", which is absolutely perfect for this time of year. As usual the box includes a copy of the "My Little World" magazine and a gorgeous little print by their in-house illustrator. As with last month's magazine I found that the translation from French was a tad wonky in parts, but overall it is a very well produced and executed magazine, which is incredibly impressive for something that comes as an extra with a subscription box.

The first item in the box was this tiny little mug for ants. Other than the illustration on one side, it has some writing on the back that says "How is your day gonna be?" and then at the bottom of the mug, for you to see when you've finished your coffee it says "Happy". I think this is such a cute idea to cheer up your morning. Sadly, I don't really drink espresso, so I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to use this cup for - it's literally about the size of the palm of my hand!

Next up is this little seed pillow that you can chuck in the microwave to heat up and keep you warm. It was actually wrapped up with a pretty bow originally, but I was too excited and tore it off before taking these pictures, sorry! These things are really great for when your body feels all stiff after a long day and the cute print won't make me feel incredibly old whenever I use it.

Their own brand beauty item included this month was this volumising mascara. Again, I adore the packaging and the brush on this looks really good - it's a decent size with good length bristles. I've not tried it yet, but I'm excited to give it a go soon!

Secondly, there was also a waterproof black eye liner from Arancil. I'm usually annoyed to get eye liners in beauty boxes, but I'm running very low on my current favourite liner, so it would be nice if this one could replace it. It glides on smoothly and staying power seems to be quite good as well, as it was a bit of a struggle to remove the swatch from my hand!

Lastly they also included a full sized Yves Rocher eye shadow in a deep, coffee brown. I dabbled in Yves Rocher a bit when I was a lot younger and never really got on with anything from the brand, but I'll happily give them another go. The pigmentation on this isn't too great, but I guess that makes the deep shade a bit more wearable and daytime appropriate, so I'm not complaining. You can see swatches of the liner and the shadow below:

Overall I'm a bit torn on this box. To be perfectly honest I don't think I'll get that much use out of anything included, but I really appreciate the amount of thought that has gone into this box. It really does feel like a very special treat each month. I have unsubscribed for now, but I'm starting to wonder if that was such a good decision after all...

Review: L'Oreal Skin Perfection Micellar Gel

When it comes to make-up removers I thought I'd tried them all - oils, water based removers, creams, balms, duo-phase removers, micellars... but I can't say I've ever used a gel on my eyes to take off my make-up before - never mind a micellar gel. So, curiosity got the best of me and I had to give this one a go.

If you ever wondered what it feels like to rub gel on your eyelids, it's not a particularly nice feeling. It's cold, squidgy and slimy and though at least it doesn't seem to make my eyes too sticky, it just doesn't feel right if you know what I mean.

Sadly its effectiveness didn't exactly blow me away either and it took quite a bit of effort to get off eye liner and waterproof mascara - unlike my beloved micellar waters that make taking off my make-up an absolute breeze.

Unfortunately, this just didn't work for me at all. It was a bit of a novelty product, but it seems there's a good reason why you don't tend to find make-up remover in gel form. It's just wrong on every level. I think I'll stick to micellar waters from now onwards.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Review: Super Facialist by Una Brennan Brighten & Refine Facial Scrub

The Super Facialist by Una Brennan range has been getting so much love from other beauty bloggers I couldn't help but treat myself to a few bits from it. And as soon as I saw that they had a rose range I was sold! While I never used to be a big fan of rose-scented anything, the last couple of months I've been really drawn to this scent and find it instantly relaxes me.

The Rose Hydrate Brighten & Refine Facial Scrub (what a mouthful) did not disappoint when it came to this scent. Light and floral it has just the right strength to smell soothing and relaxing, without being overpowering. But alas, scent isn't everything!
When it comes to texture I found it also pretty much hits the golden spot. Though I wouldn't recommend using it on dry skin, as it could be a bit rough, when used on wet skin it's just the perfect amount of grains to really get rid of any gunk sitting on top of the skin.

What I really like is that you only need the tiniest amount for each exfoliation, so this 150ml tube has lasted me absolute ages. I'm not sure how suitable it would be for really sensitive skin, though, as like I mentioned above it does feel a bit too harsh even on my skin when used dry. It's definitely not a scrub suitable for everyday use, but for a once-or-twice a week skincare pick-me-up it does the job pretty well.

Monday, 17 November 2014

When bargains are too good to be true: Sea Spa Salt Scrub

I admit that I am totally guilty of this: When browsing sales or bargain sites, I instantly sort my search by "highest discount". There's just something insanely satisfying about getting a huge discount, even if you still end up spending more than you would have on an alternative product. Well, there comes a time when you get your fingers burnt and for me it's this.

Not only was this reduced from £40 to £10 on Fragrance Direct, the description also promised that it would last for a year, as you only ever need a tiny amount of product. I was instantly sold and into my basket it went. Unfortunately, the minute I opened up the tub I knew something was wrong...

As you can see, the pot was completely sealed, but underneath all the oil had separated from the grains. Not really a problem, as I've had particularly oily scrubs do that in the past and you just need to give it a bit of a shake/stir to even things out again. But while I was expecting a sweet fruity scent of Tangerine Melon, I was instead hit by a wave of something smelling distinctly fishy... literally.

After tipping out the foul smelling oil on top, the rest of the product seemed kind of usable, but I may as well have not bothered. At least I can attest, that you really only need a tiny amount of this - the grains are sharp as nails and pretty much instantly irritated my skin (and that's coming from someone who likes their scrubs extremely, err scrubby). It was just completely unusable.

Sea Spa are no longer listed on Fragrance Direct's website and overall I can barely find anything on the brand, so I'm not sure if it even exists anymore. Truth be told, I'm not sure who to blame for this. Is it just a horrendous product or is it actually gone off stock being sold on a bargain cosmetic site? Hard to tell. The only thing I've taken away from this is that when a bargain seems too good to be true, there's probably a very good reason for that.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Review: Schwarzkopf Essensity Intense Repair Mask

My hunt for the perfect hair mask to quench my parched hair's thirst is somewhat of an ongoing adventure, though I gotta admit that this one's a pretty serious contender.

As far as texture goes, this hair mask is absolutely spot-on. It's got enough slip to massage into hair easily, but is also thick and creamy enough not to drip out of the hair while you leave it to sink in.
I used this every other wash instead of conditioner and it worked an absolute treat on my hair.

It does that wonderful thing of being really nourishing but without making the hair feel heavy afterwards. It adds shine and it even seems like my hair didn't take quite as long to blow dry afterwards.

The only downside? The pot is on the smaller side, so it really didn't last that long - about a month of using it 1-2 times a week and it was gone. It's definitely something I'd look to repurchase, though!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Review: Rimmel Colour Rush Balm in 110 Make Me Blush

A few months back I went through a phase of wanting to buy pretty much every single shade of these Rimmel lip crayons. I was absolutely besotted with them and wouldn't wear anything else on my lips, but eventually my love fizzled out and while they haven't totally been forgotten, I don't reach for them quite as often anymore.

The really annoying thing about these lip crayons is that they don't have the shade name printed anywhere on them, so it took me a while to figure out that this is actually shade 110, "Make Me Blush". I do apologise for the weird tint this has picked up on camera. In reality this is actually a quite light and very blue toned baby pink!

The swatches show a much more accurate picture of the actual colour. It goes on quite sheer at first, but is build able to a more opaque finish. I definitely prefer it in a thicker layer, as it does have a tendency to look a little patchy otherwise.

As I've said previously, I absolutely cannot fault the formula of these lip crayons. They feel smooth and silky on the lips, go on without dragging in the slightest and offer a healthy hit of pigmentation with a delicate sheen. Longevity is excellent, though I have found that this shade in particular doesn't fade out into an even stain like the other ones do, but tends to settle into the lip lines instead. It's a real shame and though it's nothing you can't fix with a regular touch up, it does mean that it's by far my least favourite colour from the line up.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

My Little Box October 2014 - Diane von Furstenberg Edition

It's been a while since I had a beauty box subscription. The last one that got me excited was Korean Memebox, but after some difficulties which resulted in me never getting a box I ordered and still losing out despite getting a refund due to bank charges and conversion rates, I felt like I'd had enough for a while. But then My Little Box came over from France and I was smitten (this seems to always happen as soon as I think I'm over subscription boxes). Their attention to detail, the mix of fashion, lifestyle and beauty products and the gorgeous illustrations just completely won me over.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been quite plain sailing with this box either. It took three weeks to arrive, so I got my October box on the very last day of October. However, their customer service were extremely friendly and helpful and explained that the first box always takes a bit longer to arrive and I should be getting my subsequent boxes on time from now on. As long as I don't get my November box on the 30th that's something I can live with and overlook just this one time.

On to the actual box, the spoiler this month was that there was a designer collaboration involved and I gotta admit that got me pretty excited. I tried to not look at any blog posts before getting my box, but caved at the two-week-after-it's-been-dispatched mark. I wasn't so sure about DVF at first, but if you read any of my wish list posts you'll know that prints are basically my favourite thing in the world and prints are something Diane is extremely good at, so my expectations grew.

The packaging of the box certainly didn't disappoint. From the illustrated box to the way everything inside was packaged, the attention to detail made it feel like I was opening a special present someone had packed just for me. Everything came wrapped separately, from the printed envelope of the scarf to the drawstring bag for the beauty products.

My Little Box always include a magazine with their boxes and even though you could tell the translation from French into English was a bit wonky, it felt extremely well executed with high quality photographs and great interviews. This is by far the most impressive little magazine I've ever seen in a subscription box.
Also included was a printed card and a red lip brooch. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with these two items. I might put the print up somewhere in my office/make-up room, but I'm a bit lost on what to do with the pin, as it wouldn't go with any of my clothes, but I don't want to just throw it away either!

As soon as I heard there'd be a designer collaboration for this box I instantly knew there'd be a printed scarf included. Turns out my hunch was right! Granted, nobody is going to mistake this for an actual designer scarf (there were a few loose threads I had to snip off with scissors), but I'm still happy with the quality and bright animal print is definitely something I'll happily wear. I also like that the inside of the card envelope had some illustrated suggestions on how to wear the scarf.

On to the beauty samples. I was a little bit disappointed how tiny the tube of L'Occitane hand cream was - somehow it looks much bigger in photos, but in reality it's about the size of my thumb. However, L'Occitane are famous for their great quality hand creams that moisturise but don't leave hands greasy and sticky and this one in particular has an amazing vanilla scent that somehow isn't too sickly sweet at all.

The Kerastase hair spray is another winner. I don't use hair spray much, but this one is lovely and light and doesn't make my hair crispy. Overall from what I've seen on the My Little Box website, their brand selection is really amazing with lots of mid-tier and high-end brands that are well known and loved.

As for their own brand products, they're certainly on a different level than anything I've ever seen before from subscription boxes. The packaging manages to pull of this whole "cute but still chic" thing extremely well. As for the micellar water included in this box it has a nice scent and is gentle enough to use on the eyes, but it does struggle a bit with waterproof mascara, so I don't think it'll be replacing my beloved Garnier anytime soon.

Overall I'm quite impressed with this box. It certainly felt like a special treat to open it up, which is what a good subscription should be about in the end. I haven't done a breakdown of the value, as it would be difficult to price items like the scarf and the pin, but it certainly felt like the value for money was there.

I'm quite excited now to see what the November box brings!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Monthly Favourites: September 2014

1) Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

The jury's out on whether or not this is a dupe for the infamous Bioderma Crealine micellar, but as far as I'm concerned, this stuff is just as good. I've tried loads of different make-up removers, from high end (huge waste of money in my opinion) to the drugstore offerings (can be a bit hit and miss) and so far Bioderma has been by far my favourite. Even though you don't necessarily have to take the Eurostar to get yourself a bottle of it anymore, it's still fairly difficult to get hold of around these parts. Enter the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water which was so obviously inspired by Bioderma it even has a similar big round bottle with a pink plastic lid. In all honesty, as far as being gentle and getting every last scrap of make-up (including stubborn waterproof mascara) is concerned, I believe this is just as good - but with the added benefit of not only being cheaper, but also being available in any drugstore and even most supermarkets. I don't think I'll ever need a different make-up remover - this is going straight on the repurchase list, as soon as it's finished.

2) Soap and Glory Puffy Eye Attack Turbo-Boost Hydragel

I'm one of those few people who really don't like rollerballs for under the eyes. It's silly really, but there's just something about poking a metal ball this close to my eye that freaks me out and I also find that they often drag the sensitive area under my eyes and make it difficult to dispense the right amount of product. So, this is not a rollerball, which already makes it a winner in my books.
On top of that it offers just the perfect amount of hydration, meaning it's nourishing without being greasy and causing concealer to slip off. It does wonders when my eyes get a little bit puffy, though it has failed to improve my dark circles - I'm guessing I'll be needing a few good nights' sleep for that one!

3) Soap and Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub

It took me ages to finally try this even though I've heard so many great things about it - and now I finally see what all the fuss is about! First of all, it smells absolutely amazing - like some oaty, mapley delicious breakfast dish that just screams comfort. Secondly, the grains are absolutely perfect in that they offer decent "scrubbage" (technical term there), but without feeling scratchy at all. The thick cream they're suspended in feels nourishing on the skin and isn't so runny that it just falls off the skin and goes straight down the drain - a pet peeve of mine when it comes to scrubs. Just make sure to rinse your shower/bath properly after using it, as it does tend to make a bit of a mess!

4) Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner

This product seems to get a lot of mixed reviews, but I'm definitely a fan! Granted, the long tip is a bit tricky to use at first, but after a few applications I feel pretty confident with it and don't make mistakes quite as often anymore. And once you've mastered it, the ultra thin nib creates the most precise of feline flicks. The thing I adore about it is the deep, inky black it leaves on the lid unlike any other liquid liner I've ever used before. And to top it off it stays on the lid all day long, without fail. Even with no primer underneath it doesn't smudge, flake or budge in any other way until you take your make-up off at the end of the day. I am a little worried that it seems to be drying up a little bit already even though I've only had it two months, though. I think I'll try storing it upside down and see if that solves the problem!