Friday, 10 November 2017

SensatioNail Express vs Original Gel Nail Kit


The SensatioNail home gel nail kit was (to my knowledge) the first of its kind to launch in the UK several years ago. I've been using it regularly ever since, can't fault it and would probably include it in my top 10 beauty favourites of all time... reflected in my numerous posts and tutorials here. As someone who can't bear chipped nails, I love waking up to a perfect glossy mani daily for around two weeks - or until I get bored wearing the same colour. 

Over the last couple of months I've been testing the new SensatioNail Express Kit and thought it might be useful to compare the two and explain the main differences between them. 


The biggest selling point of the Express Kit is its simplicity. Essentially a one step gel polish system, all you need is an LED lamp and a bottle of Express Gel polish. It also comes with a buffer and orange stick, which I mostly use for clean up. That's it. 


Two coats of the polish are applied like regular nail polish, each cured under the LED lamp (comes on automatically when you put your hand in) for 30 seconds and that's you done... an instantly dry, touch-proof glossy manicure that lasts 7-10 days (according to SensatioNail). 


This pic shows me wearing two coats of SensatioNail Express in Red Your Profile (please excuse the pathetically short nails when this was taken). In my experience, the colour lasts more like 3-5 days, though to be fair I'm very hard on nail polish and most non-gel manicures only last me 2-3 days, regardless of brand or top coat. For me, this is a quick fix solution, as the name suggests.

So how does Express compare to the original?
This is what you get in the original SensatioNail Starter Kit (deluxe version pictured, with an extra colour). This application process involves multiple steps: primer, base coat, 2 x colour, top coat and cleanser - which takes me around 40 minutes. 


This pic was taken the first time I used the kit several years ago - can you sense the concentration?!


My favourite and most worn SensatioNail shade, Dusk til Dawn, sadly discontinued, though similar are available in both ranges. The original SensatioNail manicure lasts me for a solid two weeks. That's the difference. The extra steps mean it lasts longer on my nails, so if I want the colour to last, this is what I'll use. 

Initially, I was disappointed at the lasting power of my mani when using the Express Kit as the colour only stayed chip-free for several days, even when I did all the prep steps. I now 'get' that it's not supposed to compare to the whole shebang... it's a faster, more simple process for a quick, short term, instant manicure. I have continued to use it numerous times as find it so handy to have a perfect mani in minutes that I know will last all weekend at least - and have often been found applying it in the last few precious moments before a taxi arrives. For longer lasting results, I'll continue to use the original kit - or perhaps try the base/top coat with the Express. 

If I had to choose one SensatioNail kit, I'd personally go for the original Starter Kit as although a bit of a faff to apply, I find the application and results foolproof. If you already own the kit or like to switch shades regularly, it's worth trying the Express... just be realistic about your expectations. 

SensatioNail Express and original gel kits and colours are available at Boots

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.
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Monday, 30 October 2017

Gentle Exfoliator for the Face x 3


If you've never exfoliated your face, you're in for a treat. Regular exfoliation removes dead cells leaving skin looking more refined and feeling smoother to the touch. It allows skincare products to absorb and function more effectively, encourages cell renewal and even helps make up sit nicely on the skin. It's also easy to get wrong, either by aggravating skin with harsh, scratchy products or overusing acids that some skin types can't tolerate.

There's been talk of over exfoliating in the beauty industry recently - and when two skincare experts suggested I may be guilty, I sat up and took notice. For as long as I can remember I've been plagued with under skin bumps, so while my skin may look ok in certain lights, little pin prick sized bumps are visible on closer observation (and really bug me). I assumed that exfoliating would help reduce these - and at times it did temporarily - but I decided to ease off and see what happened. NB I also have quite sensitive skin and am prone to flare-ups of rosacea.

So I've cut right back on exfoliation (for now) restricting use to 2-3 times a week, with a mix of acids (separate post on my favourites?) and a super gentle physical exfoliant. Today I'm sharing my top 3 gentle physical exfoliators for the face - ie the kind that have (very) fine grains.

Dermalogica Superfoliant
This active powder resurfacer addresses the effects of ageing and pollution on the skin. Mixed with a little water in the palm, it becomes a mousse-like paste that is massaged into the face and immediately rinsed off. The ingredients - which activate on contact with water - include AHAs, purifying charcoal (it's grey!), niacinamide, red algae and fruit acids. According to directions, this is gentle enough to be used daily or on alternate days for sensitive skin (I use it less often). Daily Superfoliant is a pleasure to use and I particularly enjoy this one as an extra step after cleansing off heavier than usual evening make up, followed by my regular serum/oil and moisturiser.

Image Iluma Intense Brightening Exfoliating Powder
Image polishing powder contains natural botanicals, antioxidants and pumpkin enzymes to remove impurities and leave skin looking more radiant. Protein peptides with lactic acid help correct uneven skintone while liquorice extract brightens. I've only been using this one for a couple of weeks, so am hoping it helps reduce a couple of pigmentation marks over time. Initial impressions are good... of the three, it feels the most gentle on my skin, is softening and feels luxurious to use. Activated with water and massaged into the face, it has a surprisingly sweet scent, which I'm guessing is from the coconut milk powder. I've had great results with several products I've tried from this professional, salon-only brand, especially the Vital C range (T 0345 504 0461 for stockists).

Pixi Peel & Polish
This has been a regular part of my routine for quite a while now and I'll often use it before a special occasion to brighten my skin without irritation... I find make up applies particularly well afterwards. Described as a resurfacing concentrate, this cooling peachy gel is applied to dry skin like a mini mask for a few minutes before rinsing off... and can be massaged in pre-rinsing for extra exfoliation. Active ingredients include gently exfoliating lactic acid and natural fruit enzymes, cellulose and sugar extracts... it tingles slightly on my skin but not at all uncomfortably so. NB this tube was originally vintage pink... mine has faded from sitting on the bathroom windowsill, my bad but it looked so pretty!

All three of these products have micro-fine grains, almost dust-like fine - and do not irritate my skin. I also use them on my neck and decolletage, where I find coarser body scrubs too harsh. Decreasing exfoliation does seem to have calmed my skin - and somewhat ironically, improved its texture. I'm not where I want to be just yet, but it's a definite start. I previously used acids twice daily, so this has been quite a jump. I may go back to once daily but think twice is too much for me personally... there's no right or wrong here, so if it's working for you, keep going!

I'd love to know your experiences of exfoliation and which products you prefer to use. 

PS The candle in the pic is Garden by Field Day and reminds me of freshly picked tomatoes, a beautiful day time scent!


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.




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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Five Body Fixes I'm loving

Filorga Universal Cream


Body care is often overlooked when it comes to beauty regimes, so today I want to share five products that really deliver... each with a very different function, from exfoliation and repair to nourishment and skin 'perfection'.

SMOOTH & EXFOLIATE - Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion is unlike any body product I've tried before in that it contains Lactic Acid (a gentle AHA) to gently resurface the skin, revealing much smoother skin below. It simultaneously moisturises with glycerine, milk protein complex and sodium lactate and according to clinical trials, iworks wonders on Keratosis Pilaris. The texture is beautiful and my legs in particular feel way more silky since using this and I think it will come into its own on Winter skin.   



HYDRATE & REPAIR - Filorga Universal Cream is one of those all-rounder products for damaged or irritated skin that you quickly come to wonder how you lived without. It hydrates with a combination of urea, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, while soothing inflammation and repairing via a collagen peptide. It's a 100ml tube so I save it for small areas of dry, irritated or itchy skin on both face and body - my new handbag essential. 

SUN PREP - Gatineau Tan Accelerating Lotion preps skin for sun exposure and helps prolong a tan, while nourishing the skin. I used this throughout Summer and did not burn or peel once; than kept going as the weather cooled as it feels so luxurious and nourishing. Perfect for anyone lucky enough to be heading off on a Winter break!

LOccitane Verbena Frappe Body Cream

NOURISH - L'Occitane Verbena Frappe Body Cream is a thick creamy lotion with an uplifting lemon scent. I love this to help wake me up after a bleary morning shower, find it deeply nourishing - and the fragrance carries for hours.


PERFECTING - Vita Liberata Body Blur is probably my favourite body beauty discovery ever. This instant tanning lotion blurs minor imperfections with a glowy sheer coverage and leaves limbs looking as supermodelesque as they come on your average human. Perfect for special occasions or at this time of year when ankles and collar bones are still out if you can't be bothered tanning all over. If it was cheaper I'd use it all day every day, though it's worth keeping an eye on Vita Liberata's social media as they often offer discounts.



PS My 12 year old daughter took the pics for this post, pretty impressive considering it was the first time she'd held a camera! I've been having some nerve pain issues with my arm and neck ...hence things being a bit quiet around here recently ...happily on the mend now! 




Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.
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Friday, 15 September 2017

In Pursuit of Healthy Skin, with Aveeno #AD


I've learned from personal experience that a holistic approach to caring for dry skin is the only way to find softness and comfort in the long term. The right lotions and potions help of course, but it's only since addressing every element that affects my skin - from diet to washing powder - that I've found consistent relief. I've teamed up with AVEENO® to highlight the importance of using simple, wholesome ingredients - inside and out - to nourish healthy, beautiful skin.



I subscribe to the AVEENO® brand's ethos that healthy skin is a reflection of overall health and wellbeing - and have used its products on me and my family for many years. AVEENO® advocates including nourishing ingredients in both diet and skincare to nurture the skin, as reflected in this hamper of goodness they sent me. It's stocked with everything I need to make a bespoke recipe by Alex Hely-Hutchins, founder of 26 Grains, taking inspiration from AVEENO®'s ingredients. Alex's yoghurt drenched oat, honey and apricot cake is high on my to-do list this week!

"At AVEENO®, we celebrate the best of nature in every aspect of life, and trust that when ingredients are at the core of both diet and skincare, you can radiate wellbeing and feel nourished inside and out." 

My hamper also included four AVEENO® body products: Daily Moisturising Lotion which I already use regularly (also love the Moisturising Oil), Daily Moisturising After-Shower Mist, a brilliant way to hydrate the body in seconds - and two products to add to the AVEENO® Daily Moisturising rangeDaily Moisturising Body Yogurt and Daily Moisturising Yogurt Body Wash.  




Formulated with the signature AVEENO® ingredient - colloidal oatmeal - body yogurts and washes, inspired by Greek yogurt, combine naturally active oatmeal with nutrient rich yogurt concentrate in an indulgent skin treat. 

AVEENO® Daily Moisturising Body Yogurt is a dense body moisturising cream with a yogurt-like texture, with naturally active oatmeal and yogurt concentrate. Mine is the Vanilla & Oat scent and is deliciously (but not too) sweet smelling; also available in Apricot & Honey scent. Intensely moisturising, I find this particularly good on dry shins and ankles, perfect for self tanning... it leaves my skin feeling instantly nourished. 

"Yogurt facemasks have been used for centuries to soften and rejuvenate the skin. Yogurt contains a rich mix of powerful nutrients such as vitamin B12 and riboflavin, protein, calcium and vitamin D. In order for your skin to function as the body's protective barrier, it is vital to nourish the stratum corneum with a daily moisturiser..." ** Dr Shefali Rajpopat, Consultant Dermatologist


I've been using the Body Yogurt straight after AVEENO® Daily Moisturising Yogurt Body Wash. This creamy formula gently cleanses to leave skin velvety soft. As I type, I can smell its delicious Apricot & Honey scent waft through the house as my daughter just had a bath in it (also comes in Vanilla & Oat). Although designed for the shower, I find the Body Wash works well in the bath too, which means we can all enjoy it! I have rarely used anything other than AVEENO® products on my children's skin since they were babies - it's the only thing that helped clear my son's dry skin after endless experimenting.  



ALL ABOUT OATS

AVEENO®'s oat-based products are suitable for every skin type and especially beneficial for dry skin, right through to sensitive and irritated skin. My personal favourites are the AVEENO® Daily Moisturising Creamy OilAVEENO® Daily Moisturising After-Shower Mist and the new  AVEENO® Daily Moisturising Yogurt Body Wash in Apricot & Honey.  

"Oats are naturally high in fibre and anti inflammatory antioxidants... and a rich source of magnesium, which is key to enzyme function and energy production." ***Ian Marber, Nutrition Therapist



*This post was sponsored by AVEENO®. Opinions my own*
Quotes by:
** Dr Shefali Rajpopat, Consultant Dermatologist
***Ian Marber, Nutrition Therapist



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Monday, 7 August 2017

Emma Hardie Summer Skincare Giveaway



To celebrate Emma Hardie's upcoming Belfast Masterclasses, I'm giving away FIVE Summer skincare sets of Plump & Glow Hydrating Facial Mist and Protect & Prime SPF30 (RRP £82). 


Plump & Glow Hydrating Facial Mist (£36) is an extra fine facial spritz... one of the loveliest I've tried and a perfect handbag/travel companion, thanks to being packaged in a lightweight tube. Suitable for use alone or to set makeup, it contains Aloe Vera, Velvet Flower, Wild Watermint and Hyaluronic Acid to plump, hydrate and tone skin. 

Amazing Face Protect & Prime SPF30 (£46) protects and smooths with an instant soft-focus effect, blurring the appearance of imperfections while creating a silky base for long-lasting makeup. I love the added luminosity it gives and how quickly the lightweight texture sinks in. 



Enter via the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Emma Hardie is holding a skincare masterclass in my local M&S at Sprucefield on 10th August from 1pm... contact the M&S beauty hall directly to book a mini facial or a one to one consultation.



Thank you to the Emma Hardie team for providing these giveaway prizes and a discount code for my readers. Enter SB15 at checkout on emmahardie.com from Monday 7th August – Tuesday 7th November to receive a one off 15% discount on any product(s).

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Thursday, 3 August 2017

YSL Couture Brow Wardrobe: Review & Swatches


The YSL Brow Wardrobe includes four products to fit every brow style, from subtle definition right through to a catwalk look. (Can brows be catwalk? ...course they can.)


The quartet includes a powder palette, pencil, marker and brow mascara style wand. I've been trialling all four options and thought I'd share my thoughts on the type of looks they can be used to achieve...



This new palette contains a powder formula with 3 tones for filling in sparse areas and adding gentle definition. Mine is the lightest shade (01 Black Matt), which is perfect for me; also available in a deeper toned 02 Blue. I expected this to be the product that worked best for me out of the four, as the other samples were darker than I'd normally go for, but while I enjoyed using this, I personally prefer a pencil or brow mascara for everyday use. Admittedly this is partly down to sheer laziness as I find these formulas so quick and easy to use, but I know lots of you would say the same about powder... it's all about habit isn't it? The tiny brush and tweezers with a built in mirror make this palette great for travel and it's definitely the most luxe looking of the four. Oh and the colours also work well as eye shadow!



I was really impressed with the formula of this pencil - it has the perfect amount of colour payoff and is neither too hard nor soft, allowing for fine feathery strokes. The spoolie on the end is excellent for avoiding build up of product and spreading the product through the brows. I had to go very lightly with this as shade 2 (Dark Brown) was a touch too dark for me (much to my sister's delight), but really can't fault the formula. 

YSL BROW MARKER

A limited edition 12 hour wear felt tip style marker with a thick side for quickly filling in large areas and sharp edge for finer strokes. It will come as no surprise that this isn't the kind of brow tool I'd personally choose for my pale, fairly sparse brows, but it's worth checking out if you're blessed with full, medium to dark brows. And don't be put off by the word marker... think watercolour brush rather than Sharpie... it has enough pigment to define in a single stroke but does not look heavy handed as I'd admittedly expected - and fills brows in seconds. IMine is shade 01 Light Brown (more of a medium brown on me); also comes in 02 Dark Brown.

YSL COUTURE BROW

A brow mascara with a teeny spoolie that adds colour, definition and hold with great staying power. I'm a sucker for this type of brow wand and have been reaching for this one most days. Mine is the darker shade so I do need to be careful to wipe any excess off before applying, but it really is a breeze to use. Personally I like to use a pencil to fill in any gaps and add definition, followed by a gel like this to coat the hairs with a little colour and add hold. Available in 01 Brun Dore and 02 Blond Centre.



SWATCHES

From left: YSL Couture Brow Palette, Eyebrow Pencil, Brow Marker and Couture Brow. The textures work way better on brows than on my arm, but this should give you an idea of the tones.



As you can probably tell, I took this pic more for my own reference at the time, but thought I'd share to give you an idea of how the product looks applied. I had used a little of the Eyebrow Pencil followed by a light coat of the Couture Brow wand.

Find the YSL Brow Wardrobe at ysl.co.uk


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.

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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Pureology Hydrate: Sulphate-Free Hair Fix


I've been meaning to tell you about Pureology for a while as the Hydrate range has made a real improvement to my hair in recent months. I noticed that the bottles were almost empty when photographing them earlier - and will most definitely be replenishing.

Unlike many products for dry, coloured hair, I find that Pureology Hydrate improves my hair's condition without weighing it down. If you've ever blow dried your hair after using a treatment mask, only to discover that it looks and feels lank and greasy, you'll be familiar with that sinking feeling. For me, this doesn't happen with Pureology. It leaves my hair softer, smoother and less poodle-like, minus the lank roots, which is always a bonus. Oh and it smells IN-credible. And did I mention it's sulphate-free?


Hydrate shampoo has a built in anti-fade complex that won't strip colour, lathers well and the tiniest bit goes a long way. Like literally half of what you'd normally use.


To be honest I have used the mask more than the Hydrate conditioner, so still have about a quarter of a bottle of this left, which is a little unfair as it works really well and smells of mint. Personally I'd much rather my hair smell of mint than say, flowers or traditional perfume-y scents, so this is a big bonus in my book. Unusually, I can use this right to my roots, which is great as that's where my halo of fuzz resides.


Pureology Hydra Whip moisture mask is the star of this trio... and if you only buy one thing, this should be it. Probably not the one for fine flyaway hair, but if you're coarse, coloured, curly or frizzy, this is fabulous. I do avoid roots when using this as it's so intense - and just comb through them with any excess once I've worked it through the rest of my hair. This hair mask only takes a few minutes to work and makes a distinct difference to the texture of my hair, leaving it much more manageable when styling.

Oddly I also find that these products leave my hair clean for longer and the shampoo and conditioner have been brilliant on my daughter's fine ringlety hair, to the extent that numerous people have commented on how much thicker and more healthy it looks.

There are other ranges and styling products in the Pureology range to target different hair types, available now at asos.com 

Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.
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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Making the Most of Everyday #SpendItWell #ad

BUY THE FLOWERS

"So if it doesn't make you feel 10 feet tall...
 if it doesn't take you somewhere extraordinary, say no."    #SpendItWell


I've never been one to save things for best... I've always believed in drinking from crystal glasses every day, wearing sequins to the supermarket and using the limited edition palette until it hits pan. 

EAT THE CAKE

In a recent survey, M&S found that 81% of us think it’s the small things that make a big difference, but don’t make enough time for them. It takes effort to shift this mindset and personally I find that simple things often make the most impact.... 
  • Starting my day with a walk on the beach
  • Wearing a dress and red lipstick, just because it makes me feel good
  • Buying myself flowers
  • Resisting the temptation to scroll through my phone when I'm waiting for the kettle to boil
  • Making more time for people I want to be around (and saying no to those I don't!).
WEAR THE DRESS

On 1st June, Marks & Spencer is launching Make it Matter Day with a series of national events in support of communities around the UK. It's all about making time for what's important and empowering us to change from a place of frustration to one of greater contentment. Locally to me, M&S is supporting Foyle Search & Rescue, a volunteer-run suicide prevention charity, where M&S Foyleside and Crescent Link staff will make over, spruce up and maintain a memorial garden used by those who have lost loved ones. Derry-Londonderry is one of ten pilot community transformation programmes to support 1000 communities, with the ultimate aim of living happier, healthier lives.



I'd love to know what you do to make time for things that matter... please leave a comment below or share online with #SpendItWell - you'll find more info and inspo here


*This post was sponsored by Marks & Spencer


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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Free Lancome Gift at John Lewis


A quick heads up on a free Lancome gift with the purchase of selected beauty bundles at John Lewis this month (while stocks last). Bundles are available on a range of budgets, from a lipstick and mascara to skincare. I opted for this one, which includes Advanced Genifique Yeux Eye Illuminator, a beautifully cooling serum to target eye bags and lines, and Hypnose Mascara, for seriously fluttery lashes. I was also very tempted by this lipstick & mascara duo as the colour is right up my street.

Every bundle (regardless of value) comes with the same free gift, which includes a generous mix of travel and full sized products:

  • Creme Mousse Confort Cleanser 125ml
  • Cils Booster XL 5.5ml
  • Hypnose Mascara 2ml
  • Muslin Cloth
  • Hydrazen Day Cream 15ml 
  • Hydrazen Night Cream 15ml

I haven't had a chance to try everything just yet, but wanted to share details while the offer is still on... quite a few things were out of stock when I got mine, but seem to have been replenished since. So far I've been particularly impressed with the Hypnose mascara and Cils Booster XL, a white mascara primer for extra length and volume - it really does make a difference though the mascara is great on its own.

Offer is available while stocks last - full details on all bundles here


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples & purchases and some links are affiliate. See my full disclaimer here.

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Monday, 8 May 2017

Jo Malone Star Magnolia Hair Mist: Review


Jo Malone London has released its first ever hair mist in new Limited Edition scent, Star Magnolia. 

Star Magnolia is fresh and bright, a crisp yet gently creamy white floral, with notes of magnolia leaf and orange blossom alongside lemon, ginger and shiso (an aromatic Asian herb). Also available in cologne, I find it quite youthful yet sophisticated and think it will appeal to a wide age range.

The Hair Mist is perfect for anyone who wants to take fragrance layering to a new level, fancies a lighter way to wear scent or whose skin can not tolerate perfume. While this isn't my typical go-to scent, it's perfect for Spring and I've really enjoyed wearing it. We've had beautiful warm sunny weather this week and it's been great to spritz my hair with this rather than applying perfume on top of sunscreen.


If making my hair smell good was its only asset, I'd probably opt for the cologne instead, but I find the hair mist surprisingly functional. It acts as a great finishing product on my easily weighed down hair, adding a delicate mist of lightly conditioning definition and shine, with a waft of scent every time my hair moves. And don't even start me on the white ombre bottle and (removable) floral collar. 


Jo Malone London Star Magnolia is a Limited Edition scent available in 30 or 100ml Cologne and 30ml Hair Mist, available now. It's just launched and selling out fast already... find the range here or here. 


Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.
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Monday, 1 May 2017

Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules



Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules are one of the first age-defying skincare products I recall from many moons ago, now available in a new formula that claims to have 'triple the anti aging power'. While I can't compare them to the original, I'm really enjoying these little capsules of serum as a night time treatment. Designed to be worn under moisturiser, personally I find them self sufficient.


Ceramides are naturally present in the skin and like many good things, decrease with age. They help retain water and hold cells in place on the outer layer of our skin, for that plump, smooth (youthful!) appearance. Advanced Ceramide Capsules help strengthen the skin's moisture barrier and retexturize skin for a fresher, more radiant look.


Each little pearly capsule contains a single dose of serum... just twist off the little end and squeeze the product into your palm before massaging into skin. I actually find the dose quite generous and could probably eek it out to two nights; instead I've been extending it to my neck and decolletage, which I'm making a concerted effort to do with all skincare lately.


I'd recommend Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules for anyone in their 30s or older who is concerned about the effects of aging. As the consistency is rich and slightly oily, I think they're best suited to dry or normal to dry skin.

My smaller bottle of 30 capsules is sold out online although may be available in store... two larger sizes are available here (and actually work out better value in the long run). If you fancy treating yourself, now is a good time as House of Fraser has a lovely Gift With Purchase worth £47 when you buy any two Elizabeth Arden products (one to be skincare).



Products featured on Strawberry Blonde Beauty include press samples and purchases. See my full disclaimer here.
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Monday, 3 April 2017

Switching up my Make Up for Spring


There's nothing like a few days of blue skies and sunshine to put me in the mood for Spring makeup. After a recent spree at Victoria Square, Belfast, I've revamped my everyday stash, adding bold colour, sheer textures and a golden glow to the mix.

BASE


Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning for Face is an old staple that's hard to beat. This milky lotion is easy to apply and gives a subtle golden glow that camouflages imperfections, giving me the confidence to wear a lighter base. I've recently switched to YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint foundation in the shade B20... slightly less dewy than the original formula, this gives medium coverage with a natural looking finish that gets better as the day goes on. It has good lasting power even without powder (though Blur Primer does help it go the extra mile) and is perfect on my normal to dry skin at this time of year.


Clarins new Skin Illusion Blush in Luminous Pink is the prettiest soft rose shade in very cute packaging. A built in puff in the lid picks up just the right amount of powder blush to apply directly to cheeks and blend... great for on the go, though I do normally use a brush.

EYES


I'm a big fan of one step eye products as I rarely have time to apply a full eye shadow look. Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon in Amber Haze provides subtle definition as liner or added drama when applied all over the lower lid. Just smudge the edges with a ring finger and you're good to go. This gorgeous metallic bronze is recommended for brown eyes, though I think it works well with blue too.


YSL The Shock Mascara has been a bit of a game changer for me. When keeping liner and shadow low key, big lashes are a must for me - and this gives instant length and volume in a single coat. You can of course keep going for an even bolder look (subtle this is not)... I'm absolutely hooked.

LIPS


I've found the perfect Spring pairing in this lip duo: Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk with Chanel Le Rouge Crayon de Couleur in Rose Violine. Both are a flattering mauve toned mid pink and very wearable for every day. Chanel Rouge Crayon de Couleurs have the most gorgeous creamy texture that goes on glossy, settles to an almost matte finish and stains my lips with surprising staying power. On days when I want a bolder look, I opt for Tom Ford Lip Colour in Wild Ginger (2nd pic from top), the most beautiful vivid orange-coral. I'm loving the new counters for all three of these brands at House of Fraser, Belfast... much as I love online shopping, it makes such a difference being able to try products in person.

NAILS


Mild weather makes me want to switch to bright nail colours immediately and Nails Inc Gel Effect in Chelsea Grove is a gorgeous glossy fuschia shade that brightens up any outfit.

I was joined on my Spring spree by blogging friend, Avril of A Life to Style ... pop over to see her new season fashion picks here! Local readers might like to check out Victoria Square's Spring Carnival on 8-9 April for fashion shows, beauty demos and loads more.



*Some of the featured products were bought from House of Fraser Belfast with a Victoria Square gift card.





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Friday, 31 March 2017

All About Face



Pretty sure I'm the last beauty blogger on the block to get around to trying the original Beauty Blender. I've tried alternatives like those by Real Techniques and Barely There, but only recently had my first play with the iconic hot pink bouncy makeup sponge.



This All About Face set contains the original pink Beauty Blender for foundation, a smaller grey one for blusher and a micro mini for highlighting and concealer. The mini is particularly good for concealing around the eyes, where I find the pink one a little too bulky to really smooth concealer into the corners.


I've been using the Beauty Blenders with my current base products, YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Eclat foundation and Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum concealer (yep, still loving this - full review here). Both of these are liquid formulas with a dewy finish, so lend themselves particularly well to this kind of application. I'm not sure if a thicker cream or compact would work so well?

If you're new to Beauty Blenders, they're firm-ish sponges used to press or bounce foundation onto the skin for a perfected, seamless finish. I dampen mine before use, which makes it almost double in size and apply product more smoothly with a natural finish. I squeeze it with a clean flannel to get rid of excess water before use, so it's not dripping wet. 

I definitely use more product with a sponge compared to a brush - almost double in fact - which is quite significant, though I'm currently sucking it up as these give such a perfect, almost poreless finish. Cleaning them is easier than I expected... little and often seems to be key (and more hygienic). The solid cleanser is great, though I've tried a face wash (the Merumaya Luxury Facial wash from this post), which works well too.  

Once the novelty has worn off, I'll probably return to makeup brushes for every day and save my Beauty Blenders for times when I want to make more of an effort. I'd love to hear your experiences of using one - and welcome any tips. 

You can find the full Beauty Blender range and All About Face collection here

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