Thursday, 30 October 2014

SensatioNail Boots Star Gift!

Sensationail-Boots-Deluxe-Home-Gel-Nail-Kit     Sensationail-Boots-Deluxe-Gel-Kit-contents

I’m excited to share that one of my favourite beauty gadgets has just gone on offer at less than half price! The home gel manicure kit by SensatioNail is this week’s Boots Star Gift, down from £110 to £50. Still a fair bit of cash but when you consider that it contains everything you need for 20 gel manicures for the price of 1 or 2, I think it’s kinda justified. You can top up the colours when they run out and continue to use the LED lamp, as I have been doing for the past 2 years.

If you can paint your nails, you can use this kit - and have a manicure that stays glossy and chip free for up to 2 weeks. I’m genuinely impressed with the quality and it gets rave reviews. Below are some swatches of my favourite colours…

 SSNL Pink Chiffon Sensationail-Sugar-PlumSSNL Teenie Bikini  SSNL Dusk til DawnSensatioNail-Going-for-the-Rose-Gold SSNL Guilty Pleasure

From top left: Pink Chiffon, Sugar Plum, Teenie Bikini, Dusk Til Dawn, Rose Gold & Guilty Pleasure. 

This offer is only available for one week (until 6 Nov) and sold out quickly last year, so if you want one, don’t hang around!

SensatioNail Deluxe Gel Starter Kit, £50

See my review/tutorial on the standard Starter Kit here

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Glowy Autumn Face Base

Clarins-True-Radiance Instant-Concealer-review

The base is the most important element of my make-up and the one where I rarely cut corners in terms of time or budget - even as a student I’d spend beyond my means on Chanel et al. I’ve always been the same, beside post-babies when I was too skint to afford luxuries and masked a sleep-deprived pallor with make-up rejects donated by a kind friend.

This time of year when so many brands launch new bases is always exciting for me and I love to test them out in search of my holy grail. Some are slow burners (still on the fence re the much raved Dior Star) and some lovely but not right for me (YSL Fusion Ink, great for oily/combo skins). Of all those I’ve tested in recent months, the stand out is Clarins True Radiance.

Previously a fan of Clarins Skin Illusion (one of the first products I reviewed on this blog), I know the brand is great at getting that coverage:glow balance on point. I’d say True Radiance is slightly more sheer than Skin Illusion and a notch up on the glow factor. It’s not a million miles from Clarins Extra Comfort foundation (yep, fan of that too) - again a touch lighter and dewier - but True Radiance is much easier to apply. A pump bottle and liquid formula mean this glides on with ease using a brush or fingers. It’s reasonably buildable, but I prefer to add extra coverage where required with Instant Concealer, another winner that really deserves an ode of its own. Creamy (unlike some with creamy in the name, lookin’ at you NARS), this is one of the few formulas that works equally well on blemishes and redness as it does on under eye circles.

So in a nutshell, think an illuminating, natural looking base with medium coverage and a creamy concealer that bounces off shadows without magnifying lines or pores… I’m seriously impressed with these two.

Clarins-True-Radiance foundation

I had loads of pics of me wearing this, which are among hundreds that I lost recently (still not over it), but you can assume I’m wearing the foundation in the majority of recent pics on here and Instagram. The one above wasn’t taken in great light, but will hopefully give you an idea. For reference, I have dehydrated skin and use True Radiance in shade Ivory (103) though could also get away with more neutral toned Nude (105); I use 01 in Instant Concealer (& could probably go even lighter if it was available).

Clarins True Radiance Foundation, £23.75 | Clarins Instant Concealer, £18.45

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Giveaway: Win 3 New Sleek Palettes & Lipgloss!

New-Sleek-Eye Cheek-Palettes-2014-See-you-at-Midnight,Dancing-Til-Dusk,Precious-Metals-Highlighting-palette Sleek-Eye Cheek-Palettes Sleek-Eye Cheek-Palettes-See-you-at-Midnight,Dancing-Til-Dusk,Precious-Metals-Highlighting-palette

I’ve teamed up with Sleek Makeup to give away their THREE new AW make-up palettes and a matching lipgloss!

The new Eye & Cheek Palettes contain a mix of highly pigmented neutral and bold shades in one slim, magnetic snap-shut palette. See You at Midnight is perfect for evening looks with deep blue and pearlescent purple eyeshadows and two blushes in berry and dusky rose. Dancing Till Dusk works from day to evening with neutral shadows contrasted with pink and coral blush.

Precious Metals Highlighting Palette includes 3 iridescent cream formulas and 1 powder, perfect for the festive season paired with this gorgeous red lipgloss!

One person will win all of the above - please enter via the Raffecopter below before midnight GMT on Sunday 2 November and I’ll select a winner at random. Open internationally - good luck everyone! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Vichy Idealia: skincare for wide awake eyes & skin

LOreal-Idealia-Eyes Life-Serum

I know lots of you are fans of the Vichy Idealia range, so I wanted to share my thoughts on a couple of their products I’ve been trying out: Idealia Life Serum and new Idealia Eyes. If you like skincare products that help you fake a few hours extra sleep, these are for you!

Idealia Life Serum launched last year with an impressive 27 patents and hydrates my skin well leaving a great base for make-up. Designed for skin exposed to a busy lifestyle (pollution, lack of sleep, stress, unbalanced diet, etc), it quickly boosts radiance and gives the effect of a more even skin tone. I do find the scent quite perfumed, though my skin doesn’t seem to mind - worth mentioning for those who prefer to avoid fragranced products.

LOreal-Idealia-Eyes

Idealia Eyes is the latest launch in the line and targets the first signs of ageing (don’t laugh), brightens tired eyes and helps smooth fine lines. Although I don’t use this every day (and need a richer eye cream at night), I reach for this on mornings when I look extra tired as I love the instant radiance it adds. The pearlised finish (see swatch above) isn’t as obvious when fully blended, but gives such a lovely brightening effect that I may have been known to add it to my brow and cheek bones (shhh). Enriched with illuminators, caffeine and vitaminB3, it definitely gives my eyes a wake up call and I need less concealer after using it!

 Vichy Idelia Eyes

The tube has a silicone applicator to help spread the product gently, which takes a little getting used to. You need to make sure there’s enough product on it before you start blending so that the silicone doesn’t drag your skin (this only happens if you use it dry). I use the applicator to spread the product, then pat in any excess with my ring finger… sucker for a gadget, me.

The full Vichy Idealia range is available with 1/3 off at Escentual.com as part of its French Pharmacy offer (ending 31 Oct so don’t hang about!)

Have you tried any Vichy products?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A divine way to deep cleanse

DHC-Pore-Cleanser-Oil-wash

I’m a little bit obsessed with pores… they’re one of the first things I hone in on with my spinny magnifying mirror (worst invention ever though much appreciated when in dire need of new glasses - Specsavers, I’m coming for you!). I’m sure my pores are less obvious to others, but I feel quite self conscious about them and minimising their appearance is a big priority when I’m applying make-up (many products emphasise them even more).

The Pore Cleansing duo by Japanese brand, DHC is designed to shrink the look of pores and leave skin feeling clean and refreshed, so the chance to try them was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Refreshingly, the brand admits that it is impossible to make pores physically smaller, (I can’t abide unrealistic skincare claims). The good news is that it is possible to minimise the appearance of pores - temporarily at least - I’ll take that.

A face wash isn’t something I use to remove make-up, but I do like to use one as my morning cleanse (water is not enough to remove the overnight build-up of grease and dead skin on our faces). Occasionally I’ll do a full balm or oil cleanse in the morning, but more often than not, a face wash is as good as it gets and the natural grapefruit scent of this one gives me a rare early moment of ahhhh... Pore Face Wash feels gently creamy on my skin and leaves it feeling clean but not tight or uncomfortable, unlike many other washes. Active ingredients include two gentle exfoliants - baking soda and AHA from pear juice - to leave skin feeling smoother and looking brighter. A pea sized amount is all I need.

Pore Cleansing Oil is in a whole other league. I actually, *actually* look forward to cleansing my face with this. While I’m fanatical about cleansing, it’s not something that I enjoy and usually consider a total chore. Not when using this. If you’re scared of cleansing oils, this is a good place to start because it’s not as thin, runny or messy as some… ridiculous as it sounds, it feels less oily! The consistency is closer to a serum and on my skin feels velvety, almost mousse-like. It deep cleans skin using nine emollient and antioxidant botanical oils: argan, coconut, evening primrose, olive, grape seed, jojoba, avocado, sesame and rice bran. No wonder it feels so dreamy. Once massaged into dry, clean skin (make-up already removed - this is too good to waste on that), I add a little water and it emulsifies slightly. I then remove with a warm, damp flannel - it comes off really easily and ‘cleanly’ for an oil, leaving zero residue on my skin. This doesn’t feel like cleansing; it feels like pampering. One pump is enough for my entire face and neck.

It’s just occurred to me that I’ve been so obsessed with how much of a pleasure this is to use that I haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to whether it’s reduced the appearance of my pores, which may make me a rubbish beauty blogger, but in all honestly I’d be reluctant to make such a claim. Deep cleansing pores is the best thing you can do for them - and this definitely achieves that!

DHC Pore Cleansing Oil & Pore Face Wash, from £20

PS If you’ve tried the original DHC Cleansing Oil ( more traditional oil cleanser & celeb fave), this is on a different (way higher) level.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Aveda Smooth Infusion: Perfect Straight?

Aveda-Smooth-Infusion-collection

I’ve always been a fan of Aveda hair and body products and its Smooth Infusion line called out to me for obvious reasons. In a world obsessed with adding texture to hair, I crave smoothness every time. Any fellow redheads reading will empathise with the fact that our hair comes with built in texture - oh the joys! While mine is naturally strawberry blonde and fine on the surface, underneath it’s traditionally wiry, coarse red hair. Sprinkled throughout this rainbow is more than your average person’s fair share of frizz. I know, I know - I’m blessed.

These products have provided the perfection transition for me following my keratin smoothing treatment two months ago (read about that journey here)… the imminent Return of The Frizz filled me with doom - and these have made that process a lot less painful.

Aveda Smooth Infusion includes a (divinely spa-scented) shampoo and conditioner and three styling products. The in-shower duo moisturises and tames flyaways, but the styling products are the stand outs for me.

Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight is a new addition to the collection, designed to progressively straighten hair with continued use. I have natural waves and don’t actually want straight hair, but was curious to see if this would work. The Science Bit: plant-derived fibres help create a locking layer to help hold your hair straight, while organic cassava root helps form a de-frizzing barrier against humidity. Five consecutive applications should leave hair straight for up to three washes.

How could this possibly work? I thought… so I tried it. After 2-3 uses, my hair looked pretty straight. Bit boring I thought, so I curled it (using my Babyliss Pro Perfect Curl, which gives very defined, long lasting curls). Half an hour later my hair was straight again - the curls had literally fallen right out. Bit annoying to be honest, but I don’t know how much more proof is needed… this works (on me at least).

My holy grail hair is smooth waves, emphasis on the smooth, so rather than continue in pursuit of Perfect Straight, I stuck to the Smooth Infusion Style Prep Smoother. This also contains plant derivatives to protect against humidity and heat styling. The texture is serum-like, which I warm between palms then comb through the lengths of my hair with fingers, concentrating on the ends. It smoothes my hair without weighing it down (something I’m very prone to) and I love that it’s so portable - unlike typical heat defence products in large aerosols.

It also smells gorgeous: ‘a fresh spicy citrus-floral featuring certified organic bergamot, certified organic palmarosa, Bulgarian rose and Australian sandalwood.’  …that’ll be why.

Aveda Smooth Infusion from £17.50

What’s your favourite hair smoother?

 

Monday, 20 October 2014

New: L’Occitane Whipped Shea Butter

LOccitane-Whipped-Shea-Butter-Shower-Mousse Hand-Cream 

L’Occitane is a brand I always turn to for extra skin nourishment at this time of year and the Shea Butter products are my favourite in the collection. The brand has released a limited edition whipped version of the line to celebrate 25 years of using Shea Butter from women’s co-operatives in Burkina Faso. Think the same nourishing formula and delicious scent as the original, with a light, mousse-like texture - even easier to work into skin and keep dryness at bay. Each product contains 25% Shea Butter, so it really is nourishing (you’d be surprised at the teeny amounts of such ingredients in many beauty products).

The products are fun to use too, a bonus if you tend to be forgetful about applying hand cream, which comes out of the star-shaped nozzle in a crackling, bubbly swirl, like whipped cream from a can. The body wash looks like water in the bottle, but squirts out in a smooth rich foam, with a fresh, clean unisex scent. I have to be very careful what I apply on my body at this time of year as my skin tends to become dry and sensitive, and this has been a pleasure to use in recent weeks. I use a lot of different hand creams and have tested multiple brands over the years, but if my hands are extra dry, L’Occitane Shea Butter is the one I turn to - and the one I always recommend to friends.

Heads up: you can get a free L’Occitane hand cream with this month’s Marie Claire in Shea Butter (original formula), Vanilla Bouquet, Zesty Lime or Delightful Rose.

LOccitane-Whipped-Shea-Butter

L’Occitane Whipped Shea Butter Hand Cream, Shower Foam and Body Cream, from £8

Sunday, 19 October 2014

British Beauty Blogger for M&S: Review & Swatches

British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-range

It’s been amazing to see a number of beauty bloggers launch their own collections recently - I love to see their hard work paying off and the impact of bloggers acknowledged - it gives the rest of us something to daydream about! From a personal point of view, the most exciting launch for me has been British Beauty Blogger’s collaboration with M&S - a limited-edition collection of beautifully presented nail and make-up sets.

I have great fondness and respect for BBB editor, Jane, and appreciate her support since I started my blog 3.5 years ago. Despite being one of (if not the) top UK beauty bloggers, she is extremely grounded and genuine. If you haven’t yet discovered her blog, it’s BritishBeautyBlogger.com - just don’t go there until you’ve read this post or you won’t come back!

I have 3 sets from Jane’s new collections, which I’ve only been playing with for a few days, so this is very much my initial impressions, but I couldn’t wait to share pics and swatches!

 

Packaging

British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-packaging-Juno

If you’re familiar with Jane’s blog, you’ll recognise these gorgeous illustrations by the same artist who designed her blog header, fashion and beauty illustrator Nuno Da Costa. The stunning packaging gives the collection a real edge and makes these sets an extra special gift (self gifting totally acceptable, obvs). I love how the focal point of each box reflects its contents: eyes, lips and nails… I certainly can’t bear to part with mine!

Eyes

British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-eye-liner-pencil-set British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-eye-liner-pencil-set-swatches

The set of 8 kohl pencils includes 3 shimmery brights - lilac, peppermint and sky blue; 2 mid tones - matte dark grey blue and metallic maroon (my favourites); 2 darks - matte charcoal and black and a WOW glittery black. I’d describe the pigmentation and texture as medium, which makes them very user friendly, particularly if you’re a beginner (or colour shy, like me). These are not the type that deposit an unnerving amount of colour unexpectedly; they allow precision with a single stroke, which is buildable to more intense colour with a second layer. I used two layers for these swatches.

Eye Pencil Kit £15

 

Lips

British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-lipstick-set British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-lipstick-swatches

This Lip Trio is my favourite of the collection, with 3 wearable shades in nude (Cami), coral (Selfie) and red (Heartful). The formula of these lipsticks is incredibly creamy and perfectly pigmented. The cherry red is a total beaut and I’ve been wearing it all weekend - expect to see it on my lips very soon! The only thing I’d change about these is the clear lids, but at least I can see which shade I’m looking for (the base is also colour coded).

Lip Trio Set £15

 

Nails

British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-set British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-set- British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-shades

These aren’t your run of the mill nail polish shades and I like that: two brights, three pastels and a shimmery top coat to give a pearly finish. I’m a fan of the Butter London/Chanel-esque packaging and clever shade names.

British-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-swatchesBritish-Beauty-Blogger-M&S-nail-polish-top-coat

I’ve swatched my four favourites (from top): Pop, Mull, Melted and Milky Pink - on their own above left - and with the Ice Fall top coat above right. The top coat turns the bright colours into pastel metallics - an effect I liked way more than I expected to - the colours remind me of Perfume Bon Bons… anyone else remember those? I used two coats and no top coat so that you can see the actual finish, which is very glossy! Although described as ‘mini’, the bottles are the same size as regular polish and each contains 8ml. Eight polishes for £14 is pretty amazing!

Mini Nail Polish Collection £14

 

I have loved reading about Jane’s personal journey in all of this and am impressed by how incredibly hands on she has been, from choosing the shade names in half an hour to training the M&S floor staff. The bit about sending a set to her mum brought a wee tear to my eye. The Behind the Scenes story is on BBB here.

You can find the full British Beauty Blogger Collection at M&S HERE, where it’s part of the pre-Christmas 3 for 2 gift offer!

Congratulations to Jane on her products hitting the shelves and kudos to M&S for their vision - here’s to many more BBB/M&S collabs in the future!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Beauty for Breast Cancer Awareness 2014

JML Red Roses 100ml Cologne BCA

I’m a little late in posting about Breast Cancer Awareness month but with two weeks to go, there’s still plenty that you can do to support this very worthwhile campaign - and there could be something in it for you too…

Throughout October 2014, Jo Malone London will be donating £20 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s UK research grants from every UK sale of its Red Roses Cologne 100ml.

 

Clinique-bca-LIPSTICK  Clinique-bca-DDM 

 

Clinique, a long term supporter of BCA, will donate £2 from purchases of these two dedicated products to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®. Choose from Power with Pink, an exclusive shade of Long Last Lipstick with a pretty pink carrying case, or a special edition of reformulated Dramatically Different Moisturiser and Clinique signature hearts key chain, available online only at clinique.co.uk

 

Alex-Monroe-Silver140805 Zandra Rhodes Pink Bag1

The Haven is a support centre for breast cancer patients, which provides one to one support to anyone affected by breast cancer - from complementary therapies to emotional support and advice services. A number of leading brands have designed exclusive products for The Haven, of which a significant portion of sales throughout October will go towards supporting the charity. My favourites are Alex Monroe’s ‘Haven’ necklace and Zandra Rhodes wash bag; all profits from these two will go to the charity. The full range is available here (including a pink Kitchen Aid!).

 

Birchbox Coppafeel

Birchbox Oct 

Birchbox has partnered with CoppaFeel! for all the info you need to spot the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer. This month’s box contains a selection of pretty in pink beauty goodies from brands including Balance Me, Meaningful Beauty and Pixi Beauty. Find out more about both here.

 

GNI_MOVIE NIGHT

One of my local charities, Cancer Focus NI is encouraging us all to organise a Girls’ Night In towards a target £40,000 to help fund the next important stage of their research - clinical trials with women at risk.  This research has the potential to make an enormous difference to the lives of many local women. The Girls’ Night In could have any theme - from a PJ party to a glam cocktail evening… further info and Pink Party Packs are available here. This applies to N.Ireland only but there’s no reason why you couldn’t do the same and support a local cancer charity wherever you are!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Library of Fragrance: Gingerbread & Moonbeams

Library-of-Fragrance-UK-Orange-Blossom,Fireplace,Moonbeam,Gingerbread-Demeter

Library of Fragrance (aka New York’s Demeter perfumery) has arrived in the UK and is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It offers a literal library of 300 fragrances based on everyday scents around us - think Grass, Gin & Tonic, Play-Doh, Marshmallow - with something to appeal to everyone and their aunt. 101 of these are now available in the UK, with an edited 28 bestsellers at Boots.

Most are based on real life scents - Sticky Toffee Pudding, Leather and Cake Batter, while others are imagined scents - Snow, Sunshine and Thunderstorm. I find it all quite amusing and rather charming. A bit like a fragrant version of Jelly Belly Beans… in fact they do have 10 Jelly Belly scents in the US! The idea is to use the scents to rekindle memories, recreate happy moments and layer up to create your own personal fragrance - a la Jo Malone (but more affordable and perhaps aimed more at a younger market).

I have four to share with you today, which I chose based on a combination of appeal and intrigue. I’ll let you guess which was which!

Orange Blossom ‘full, lush and exquisite – a perfect adaption of the scent of the living flower, carried by a gentle breeze on a warm summer's evening.’

This was the one I expected to love and wear the most, but actually appealed least of the four. I expected a distinct orange scent, but it’s more subtle than that - very much a citrus floral - and rightly so. It’s a good daytime scent and perfectly pleasant, just not what I expected.

 

Fireplace ‘It smells exactly like your jumper after sitting for hours in front of a roaring wood-burning fire.’

This is my absolute favourite as it smells exactly as you’d imagine - like you’ve had an open fire lit in the house all day. Confession: I don’t wear this on my skin as I personally don’t want to smell of firewood (might smell good on a man’s skin), but I love to spritz it into the air in my living room and it works equally well as a room scent. I tested it out on my 9 year old daughter who immediately said ‘fire’, a smell she’s not at all familiar with as we don’t have an open fire.

 

So what do you imagine a Moonbeam would smell like? ‘opens with Vanilla and Chocolate, then combines with green leaves, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Amber and precious Woods’.

I must admit I think they’ve got this one spot on… it makes me smile when I spritz it and imagine little dancing moonbeams - it’s sweet, fresh, soft and pretty - a very wearable, feminine scent.

 

Gingerbread ‘a rich, spicy ginger scent, extremely warm and sexy.’

This was my wildcard… I love the smell of ginger and had hoped for more ginger than bread, but this is super sweet and to be fair, does smell like actual gingerbread, straight from the oven. It’s very gourmand with a hint of caramel and spice… fans of sweet scents will love this and it’s quite festive! My 6 year old son thought it smelt like chocolate and orange, pretty good for a blind test. There is also a Fresh Ginger scent, for those more inclined towards a pure ginger alternative.

The Library of Fragrance, £15 for 30ml at Boots (currently on offer: 2 for £25)

I think this is a fun and unique collection and would make a great gift - do any of the scents appeal to you? Baby Powder or Vanilla Ice Cream anyone?

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