Saturday, 27 August 2011

Gradual Self Tan - Xen-Tan Transform, Rockstar Tan Entourage

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My penchant for self tanning is no secret to regular readers, but as the skies grow increasingly dark and cloudy, even tan fanatics begin to tire of the upkeep.  What’s the point when it’s covered up 75% of the time?  It’s approaching the time of year when I revert to gradual and instant tanners and today I’m focusing on gradual tans.

I must admit that while familiar with Xen-Tan Dark Lotion I had NO idea of the range of tanning products the company produces, and while the former wasn’t for me, I’ve found something that most definitely is. 

Xen-Tan Transform
Transform is one of Xen-Tan’s gradual tanners. They also produce Xen-Tan Luxe, which apparently produces a deeper colour on first use. I haven’t tried it, but must admit that Transform produces a much deeper colour than most gradual tanners I’ve tried in the past – and for me, that’s a good thing!

I know some resort to gradual tanners as they are self-tan wary – and I’ll tell you about the perfect product for you in a moment.
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Xen-Tan comes in quite a glamorous, generously sized tube, but the first thing I noticed about it was the smell.  it smells D.I.V.I.N.E. As you can see above, it’s described as citrus melon. To me it smells more like caramel, honey & melon all one plate.  I wanted to lick my skin after applying it (don’t worry, I didn’t).
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Xen-Tan Transform
Transform is pearly white on application, but don’t panic about no colour guide. There is one, but it’s white too! Sounds crazy I know but just look at how it appears when I start to rub it in… the white guide really works – and no colour to rub off on clothes when you dress afterwards = bonus.
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Transform's white colour guide
An ingredient list including shea butter, vitamin E and antioxidants mean leave your skin feeling deeply moisturised and nourished with a subtle sheen.
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Transform, just applied
I don’t really feel comfortable posting the following pic taken  several hours later as a. the tan hasn’t fully developed, b. the sun was much brighter so the colour appears lighter than it actually is and c. I normally use two coats. So you’ll have to take my word for it – the results are a deep golden shade that I have been completely WOWed by.
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Transform several hours later, starting to develop
I promise to take further pics and edit this tomorrow to prove my point, so please do check back for the results!

As promised, Transform morning after results... the difference isn't dramatic and like I said, I normally use two coats for a slightly deeper shade, but I hope you can see that the colour is a very natural golden tone. 
Xen-Tan Transform - morning after application
Xen-Tan Transform - morning after application

Rockstar Tan – Entourage Gradual Tan
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Rockstar Tan Entourage Gradual Tan
I am one of Rockstar Tan’s biggest fans and have raved about them on here and on Twitter. While this isn’t my favourite of their products I know of numerous others who love it and you may well turn out to be one of them.

I would describe Entourage Gradual Tan as the perfect gradual tan for three different groups of people:
1. Slap & Go Girls (& Boys!) – you want to apply a luxurious body moisturiser daily without having to worry about being too careful or worrying about streaks etc, with the added bonus of gaining a slight glow as a result.
2. Self-tan Scaredy Cats – you’ve never used self tan before; you’ve used it and had horrific results and vowed never again or you’re genuinely scared of ending up tangoed.
3. The Pale & Interesting – you don’t tan easily; you have gorgeous porcelain skin which would look ridiculous anything other than a lighter shade of pale.

I imagine quite a few people fit into at least one of these categories – and if you’re one of them, believe me you will LOVE Entourage.
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Entourage ingredients
The ingredients list is an impressive cocktail of aloe vera, essential oils, vitamins and fruit extracts, which results in a fruity-fresh fragrance and beautifully moisturised skin.
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Rockstar Entourage Gradual Tan
The product is white, sinks in quickly leaving very little stickiness (though waiting 10 mins before dressing is advised) and leaves a lovely sheen on the skin.
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Entourage just rubbed in
I’m not including an after pic for two reasons: 1. it made very little difference to my skin colour even after two applications and 2. I tested it on my tummy as it was the only un-tanned skin at the time – and I’d rather spare you that image.

Like all skincare products, self tan works differently on all skins, so while this was my experience, I can’t guarantee that the same products will produce identical results for you. If you do try one of these, I really hope you like it and would love to hear how you get on!


Personally I love gradual tanners in colder months when I wouldn’t naturally have a deep tan, but my new found discovery is how amazing they are to top up and maintain a natural or fake tan – genius!

My favourite off the shelf gradual tanner is Dove or Garnier, both of which produce excellent, natural results on my skin.  Tesco Finest did an amazing one that was cheap as cheaps, but now sadly been discontinued.

What’s your favourite gradual tanner and do Transform or Entourage appeal to you?

*samples provided for review ~ opinions 100% genuine*

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Anastasia Brows - (Strawberry) Blonde Solutions

BrowsI have very fair, almost invisible brows, which I occasionally get tinted, but have been searching for the right product that I can use to colour them on a daily basis.


It’s something I’ve shied away from in the past, as I’m just not used to my brows being visible, but since growing out my fringe I’m much more aware of them and know that when done right, they can really frame my face and give my eyes the effect of a mini 'lift'.


Make Up Artist, Kenneth Soh, kindly recommended that I try Anastasia Brow Wiz in Ash Blonde, one of the brow products he uses on shoots. [Please check out Kenneth’s amazing blog Musings of a Make-up Artist for top tips on make-up application] 


Brow Wiz’s ultra-fine pencil tip is said to mimic the appearance of tiny hairs, while the Spooley Brush helps create a fuller brow look. A big plus for me is the mechanical lead which never needs sharpening!
Brow Wiz
Anastasia is a brand I was unfamiliar with, but after a little research have discovered that brows are a speciality of theirs, with an entire range of products devoted to mastering them!


I’ve now learned that Anastasia has long been the definitive eye and brow expert for icons such as Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez and Kristen Cavalari - and has recently expanded into colors that match their superior standards for skincare based cosmetics.
 
Obviously they have products for brows of all colours, but it's unusual (& very refreshing!) to find such an amazing range of shades for blondes.


Another impressive piece of brow kit that caught my eye was the Beauty Express Kit for Brows and Eyes, which comes with full instructions on how to maximise your brows (click pic to enlarge if you’d like to read them) and includes:


BROW WAX CREAM
BROW POWDER DUO
EYESHADOW DUO
STENCILS
ANGLED BRUSH

Beauty Express - Open Palette (1)
These products are available in Sephora US… if anyone knows of a UK or online retailer, please let me know!  


There are no less than TWENTY THREE brow products on the Anastasia website, which I’d love the chance to experiment with! Have you tried any of these products, or what is your favourite tool for mastering your brows? 


Please leave a comment below and if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you can do so by clicking on the Google Friend Connect, email or Bloglovin links above. Thanks for reading…X

Monday, 22 August 2011

Benefit They’re Real Mascara

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Benefit they’re Real Mascara officially launches in the UK this Saturday, 27 August, so I was more than a little excited to have the chance to preview this product and tell you all about it.
I’m know I’m not alone in my search for the holy grail mascara.  My own lashes, as you’ll soon see, are pretty much non-existent. I need a LOT of help to bring them to life. The things I look for, in order of priority, are:
  • volumising
  • lengthening
  • smudge-proof, ie no panda eyes (unless I’m lazy enough to sleep in it, which of course I’d never, ever do!)
  • non-flaking
  • non-clumping
  • long lasting
  • thick brush
  • glossy finish
  • non-crispy to the touch
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They’re Real is my first dalliance with Benefit make-up and I reckon it lives up to the hype.  I don’t necessarily want to look like I’m wearing false lashes, but the likelihood of that happening with my very fine, average length, invisible lashes is pretty much impossible.
I know some people like lash definition without drama. If you’re one of them, they’re Real isn’t for you. Though I defy you to try it and not be impressed with the results.
I’ve been using this mascara for a couple of weeks now, as I usually find it takes this long for mascara to come into its own. Though to be honest, I was pretty blown away the first time I tried this.
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The packaging in a pewter mirror-effect casing is rather glamorous, though still young and modern, with the name emblazoned in black & orange lettering. 

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I also love the amount of info on the box – please click to enlarge pics.
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The nice fat wand has my favourite kind of bristles with a little circle of ‘spikes’ at the end, which is great for reaching the very shortest of lashes or coating the lower lashes and providing lift.

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Can you see the curved shape of the wand above?  It fits so nicely into the contour of the eye.  I’m not sure if it helps with curling or not - I didn’t really notice any extra curl.
Now for the scary bit… with great trepidation I show you my naked eye, with one coat of they’re Real on the other eye…
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Quite a contrast, don’t you think?!

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Both eyes mascara-d up (phew!). Also wearing Urban Decay Naked Palette eyeshadows.
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In context of full face in natural light. Please excuse startled expression – (husband waving hot pans cooking next to me!)

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As above, with flash.

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And especially for a very sweet blogger who said earlier today that I should be more smiley in pics – you know who you are! Open-mouthed smile

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed using this mascara and received several compliments on my lashes, though not been asked if they’re real!  In my experience, it gives volume and length, doesn’t flake or smudge, lasts all day and is as easy to remove as any other mascara I’ve tried. If I had to pick a negative, it's that my lashes look a bit spikey with this on and don't curl as much as normal, but I'm on the lookout for a good eyelash curler anyway (recs welcome!) so that will soon be rectified.  I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase this once it’s done.  I have poked myself in the eye with it a few times, but I can’t blame the mascara for that!


Benefit They're Real is available here


What do you think – and will you be trying this?

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Jonathan Ward - Idina’s Locket Candle


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I am always searching for my holy grail home fragrance, so on reading about Jonathan Ward London scented candles on Twitter, my greatest challenge was choosing which one to buy. The descriptions on the website are all so incredibly alluring and options range from the uplifting ‘Dance in Summer Rain’ to the heady, complex Santissima Amalfi (limited edition). 
Jonathan Ward London products are all hand made with a simple philosophy of offering luxury from the inside out. Candles are hand-poured using the finest artisan craftsmanship, and each fragrance is a sophisticated blend of premium ingredients and scents, lovingly selected and expertly combined.
Jonathan himself offered to help me choose a candle and was extremely patient with me in our various email & twitter discussions. He knew it was a big deal for me to spend so much on a candle and didn’t trivialise my (slightly pathetic) indecisiveness. You can’t really ask for better customer service than that!
I eventually decided on Idina’s Locket from the Spice & Amber collection.
“Inspired by the gifts that Idina's great love bestowed upon her, this fragrance celebrates soft feminine amber notes subtly layered against peppery rose, reminiscent of an antique compact.”
I’m so in love with this fragrance I wish I could have it bottled. It’s really gentle and feminine, quite soft and woody; perfumed but not remotely sickly sweet. It’s quite powdery and has subtle spicey undertones. I expected it to be more of an evening fragrance but it’s gorgeous anytime… I have to resist lighting it all the time so that it will last for longer.
I’ll let the pictures do the talking now.
A little history…
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I adore the deep base on the Italian hand-blown crystal glasses…
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Ready to light…
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How gorgeous is the label? My favourite part is Jonathan’s signature at the top – such a lovely personalised touch.
First light…
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You’ve no idea how hard it was for me to wait and photograph all of this so I could share it with you!
Candles are hand-poured using paraffin-free organic soy and beeswax
Several hours later…
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You can see how pure and transparent the melted oil is at the top – it’s not yellow like this in real life – the camera flash just made it look like this (see actual creamy colour in next pic).
The scent from these candles is so soft and unobtrusive yet very definite.  You could eat while one is burning in the room without tasting it (!!!) yet even when not lit, I often catch gorgeous wafts throughout the day. If it’s sunny I like to set mine on the windowsill where the wax warms a little and releases some smell without burning down.
Lights out…
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Once distinguished, the softened wax solidifies again with a smooth, even finish. Note how there are no dips or tunnels in the wax, which is so pure, it can be applied to pulse points and worn as perfume when cooled.
The large, double wick candle costs £30 - 8.5oz (241g), with a burn time of 45hrs. A smaller version is available for £20, with a 30hr burn time.
You can see the full range at www.jonathanwardlondon.com and follow Jonathan on Twitter @J_W_LONDON or on Facebook.
What’s your favourite home fragrance?

UNITE & Babyliss Big Hair = Happy Hair

Left to its own devices my hair would remind you of a cross between Russell Brand and Worzel Gummidge.  Until a few months ago, when it has literally been transformed by a new range of products and a fancy device.


My hair type is individually quite fine but there’s a lot of it. Underneath it’s quite coarse, wiry and darker in colour - typical redhead hair.  It’s also curlier underneath and more frizz prone.  The top layers are finer and silkier but still frizz prone, lighter in colour and wavy. I get a few surface highlights once or twice a year, which I can get away with as there are a lot of different tones in my natural hair colour (not been done for over a year as considering growing highlights out).


I have tried a lot of premium hair products in the past and basically given up as I constantly felt let down by the results, so had resorted to anything I could pick up in the supermarket as nothing seemed to make much of an impact.


Admittedly I expect a lot from hair products and very rarely use anything other than shampoo and conditioner. After spending a small fortune trying to find my holy grail styling products, I find that most weigh my hair down.  I live in hope of finding a shampoo and conditioner that will do the job on their own – and now I have!


Let me introduce American A-lister favourite, UNITE…
Unite Moisturizing ShampooUnite Moisturizing Conditioner
The first time I used these products I was seriously excited as nothing had ever made such an impact on my hair.  It was so soft and silky I honestly couldn’t believe it and several months on I’m still in love.  It’s not cheap (around £15 per product), but my little travel sized bottles of the shampoo and conditioner are good value and still going strong as you only need the teeniest amount of product.


I used the Moisture range and while I adore it and it’s really helped get my hair back in shape, it’s probably a bit rich for constant use, so I may try something else next time – and there will definitely be a next time!


The products are free of:
Sulphates
Parabens
Gluten
Sodium chloride
Dea
Mea
100% Vegan
Color Safe


My second hair weapon is Babyliss Big Hair – a rotating ceramic hot styling brush.


I will do a separate tutorial on how this works as I know some people find it quite tricky to get used to.  I felt it only fair to mention it here as although UNITE products have improved the condition of my hair, I couldn’t get it to look like it does without the help of Babyliss Big Hair – it’s literally been a godsend!  These usually cost around £45 but I got mine on special offer from Argos at £35 around 6 months ago.


This is my hair after being shampooed and conditioned with UNITE and blow dried with Babyliss Big Hair…

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And just to prove that my hair can look passable just washed & conditioned with UNITE, this is it dried naturally, with a spritz of UNITE Tricky Lite (50% Wax, 50% Hairspray for definition & hold) applied when almost dry and hand scrunched around the front.  It’s more of a casual, beachy look, but to me it’s pretty amazing that I can get it to look reasonably presentable without blow drying it at all!

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Are you a Babyliss Big Hair or UNITE fan?  I know that what works for one may not work for another, but this combination definitely works for me!


You can read about the full range of UNITE hair products and view demos of them in action on celebs like Kim Kardishan here: www.uniteeurotherapy.com or purchase them in the UK at Beautique.com where prices for the small sizes I used (lasting 3m+) are:
  • 60ml Moisturising Shampoo £4.85
  • 60ml Moisturising Conditioner £5.90
Babyliss Big Hair RRP £45 – I got mine at www.argos.co.uk but Amazon and John Lewis are currently selling for £39.95 with free delivery.
*unite samples provided for review, opinions 100% genuine.*

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Konjac Sponges – Pink Clay

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This is one of the strangest, yet loveliest skincare products I have come across.


Eco friendly, 100% natural and made from pure plant roots
Konjac is a perennial, mineral rich potato plant, originating from Japan, where it has long been used as a beauty treatment.


Michelle from Konjac Sponges recommended the Pink clay facial sponge for me (aimed at tired and devitalised skin) and kindly sent me one to try.  My tired and devitalised face was most grateful!


Please excuse the fact that my sponge looks a little loved… they last up to 3 months and mine has been used for 2. (Note to self: photograph things before you use them – I am so impatient I can never wait to try something new. I can’t understand people who wrap new purchases lovingly in tissue and place them in a drawer/wardrobe for weeks/months before wearing/using!).
Anyway, I digress…


Facial Sponge
“The perfect facial sponge for sensitive easily irritated, hypersensitive skin. Pink clay is a mix of red and white clay. Pink clay is soft, it is recommended for tired, sensitive & dehydrated skins. It helps to turn rough and hardened skin into soft and radiant skin, rejuvenating and plumping and helping return the skins natural elasticity . Excellent for skin that has had lots of sun exposure.”
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Konjac Pink Clay Facial Sponge

This is unlike anything I’ve ever used on my skin before, so I’ll try to explain the experience…


The sponge is completely soft and smooth. This upside down pic shows the seams better, but even they are totally soft and don’t scratch your skin at all.
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The flat side is ever so slightly rougher, to give a mild exfoliating effect, while the curved side feels almost comforting to use – it fits into the contours of your face so nicely.


The sponge feels refreshing and soothing to use and afterwards my skin feels like an invisible, intangible film has been left on it. It’s not a greasy or even creamy feeling – it just feels, well… lovely.  I don’t like to dry my face after using the sponge as I feel like I’d be wiping off the goodness, plus I love the sensation it leaves.  Also, because the holes in it are quite fine, it doesn’t leave your face feeling soaking wet, just lightly moistened.


When wet, the sponge is quite weighty, and squeezing it too hard may cause damage.  It holds a lot of water, but doesn’t seem to drip it all over you during use like other sponges can.


Konjac sponges don’t require soap or cleanser to function, though you can add a little if you choose to.  I tried using mine to remove makeup but didn’t feel my face was completely clean, so instead used it after cleansing to remove any final traces of makeup and freshen my skin, a bit like a toner I guess.


My favourite time to use these sponges is in the morning, when I can't be bothered faffing with cleansing products but want to use something more effective than just water. 
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Incase you’re wondering, the little string at the side is for hanging the sponge up to dry. Genius, right?


All of the facial sponges contain high quality French Clay, packed with rich minerals to cleanse, exfoliate, smooth & soften the skin.


Konjac Baby
Michelle also very kindly sent me a baby sponge - knowing my little boy suffers from mild eczema - and this is gentle enough to use on his skin.  These contain no nasty chemicals or toxins for delicate porous baby skin and gently cleanse without damage.
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All Konjac sponges arrive sealed in a little bag, already wet, plumped up and ready for use.


Konjac Baby Sponges are also suitable for makeup application!
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Konjac Baby Sponge, suitable for all sensitive skins including eczema

The baby sponge can be used by anyone with sensitive skin. It’s just gorgeous – nicer than any other I’ve used in the past and small enough for my 3 year old to use himself.  As you can see there are no sharp bits or seams at all on this one.
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Just incase it comes as a shock to you, the sponges shrivel up quite a lot when completely dry (which is unlikely to happen if you use them every day). I’ve photographed it to illustrate just how much they shrink….


In the left pic below, the pink sponge is dry. On the right, after a few minutes in water, it has expanded to the same size as the white one, which you can just make out underneath it.
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Konjac Body
In September Konjac will launch a range of body sponges, which I’m very excited about!  They will be larger of course, smooth on one side and ridged for mild exfoliation on the other. 


You can read about the full range of Konjac Sponges at www.konjacspongecompany.com


The facial sponges cost £5.75, which is an amazing price for something that makes your skin feel so soft and gorgeous. I’m hooked and would be amazed if anyone didn’t like these little softies!  


Available online directly from Konjac (or various other sites), in-store at Garden Pharmacy, Covent Garden and as of today, in-store at Liberty's bathroom department on third floor. 


Have you tried Konjac Sponges or do you like the idea of them? Please leave a comment below.www.konjacspongecompany.com
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