January 26, 2015
When I went for my Balance Me skin consultation back in December one of the products that was highly recommended to me was Balance Me's Radiance Face Mask*. It was recommended to me because I have clogged pores and combination (dry/oily skin), and I needed something to help me gently but effectively exfoliate my skin - and this mask is good for all these skin concerns. It's first ingredient is water, followed by clay, so it is a clay mask but it's very light and the high concentration of sweet almond oil keeps it from being too drying. Essentially, the complex base formula is a creamy, light clay mask that does some cleansing but also helps to soften and balance the skin, making it perfect for combination skin-types.
In and among the clay you can also find small particles of walnut shell which add a touch of exfoliation. It's quite a gentle exfoliation but it might still be too harsh for incredibly sensitive skin, however, for me it's just enough to brighten and soften my skin without leaving it looking red. I like to gentle work Balance Me's Radiance Face Mask into my face when I first apply it, I find that this gets all the exfoliation out of the way at the beginning of the application so that the rest of the mask's ingredients can really get to work on my skin. I wait about ten minutes and find that a lot of the product seems to sink in and disappear. Once this has happened, I remove the face mask using a flannel soaked in warm water using small circular motions. The product is incredibly easy to remove so it won't irritate sensitive skin, and I find that the brightening and softening effects are immediately noticeable.
I've used a couple of 15ml mini tubes of Balance Me Radiance Face Mask before and they tend to give about three to four full applications. This means that a 75ml tube will give you approximately 15-20 applications, which I think definitely justifies the price. I picked mine up on MyPure.co.uk for £18.00 with free delivery, but you can also find the 15ml tubes which are available for £4.50.
Have you tried any Balance Me products before?
What's your favourite face mask?
January 23, 2015
At the beginning of the week I was very kindly invited to John Lewis Kingston to visit their Murad counter for a complimentary facial - an experience that is often made available to John Lewis customers! I was greeted at the counter by Felicity who expertly talked me through Murad's products and explained the holistic ethos of the Dr. Murad's company - the idea that skincare is only 20% of the solution and the other 80% has to come from healthy living.
It was fascinating to have my face properly scanned and to actually see what my real skin concerns are. I was very happy to see that my eye area is much less dehydrated than it was when I had my skin scanned by Balance Me in December (regularly using eye cream makes such a difference), however, Felicity did help me identify that my real skin concern is pigmentation caused by sun damage. The only real way to battle this is to religiously apply products containing SPF, but she did also inform me that products containing high concentrations of Vitamin C can also really help minimise the appearance of dark marks and pigmentation. Murad actually has an entire Vitamin C range - I've been using their Vitamin C Cleanser since the beginning of December and it was one of my favourites from 2014 - and I'm really keen to incorporate more of these products into my daily routine!
I have to say a big thank you to John Lewis for arranging the entire experience for me, and to Felicity who was so friendly and knew so much about Murad. It was lovely to come across someone so passionate about the brand they work for, she knew the answer to every question I threw her way! If you have a John Lewis near you then I'd definitely stop by the Murad counter next time you visit to ask about their facials. They'll honestly be more than happy to help you.
January 21, 2015
Oh dear- look what I've gone and done, I've finished all the goodies. I love a good Lush haul, there's something really enjoyable about opening a new little black pot and some of the products I used last year were really lovely (I was a particularly big fan of Let the Good Times Roll). What you might not know is that when you've gathered together five empty black Lush pots you can return them to a Lush store where they'll recycle them and in exchange you can choose a free fresh Face Mask or fresh Hair Mask.
I recently recycled my empty pots and exchanged them for a pot of Lush's Cupcake Face Mask. I can hardly believe it but it's been almost two years since I used this face mask but I'm soooo glad that I picked up another pot. It's a wonderful mask for anyone with oily and blemish-prone skin and there's something really lovely about applying these face masks fresh from the fridge - they just feel so much more like a treatment than other face masks in my collection. And when I finally finish Cupcake (Lush's Fresh Face Masks usually last about six applications) I'll be saving the pot to eventually cash-in for another freebie…
What's your favourite Fresh Face Mask from Lush?
Do you recycle your Lush black pots?
January 19, 2015
When I was at university I had a couple of conversations about my blog and about makeup with male friends that all went a bit like this: "If you love makeup, and if you own so much makeup, why don't you wear more of it?" I guess the simplest answer is because I don't want to, but explaining why is a little bit harder.
"When you wear my makeup, I'd like everyone to compliment you on how great you look!"
I found this quote on Ariane Poole Cosmetics' website and it really struck a chord with me. I absolutely love experimenting with makeup but it hits the nail on the head - I do not want makeup to be the first thing that people notice about me. When I reach for makeup to make me feel and look wonderful. This won't necessarily be everyone's "take" on wearing makeup but it's definitely mine, and because of that I absolutely love the transformative power of simple and understated products and looks.
Ariane Poole Cosmetics is a relatively new (circa 2002) cosmetic line founded by celebrity makeup artist Ariane Poole. The whole range is cruelty free and aims to provide wearable makeup for women of all ages. I was very kindly sent two products for review purposes, the brand new Crystal Taupe Eye Shine* and the Luxury Mascara in Black* which I've been using for the last month or so.
Crystal Taupe Eye Shine
available online from Ariane Poole Cosmetics for £18.00*
available online from Ariane Poole Cosmetics for £18.00*
Now this is a really interesting product - it's a liquid eyeshadow that's very fluid with an incredibly light feel. It's very easy to blend and sets quickly. I find that on my hooded, oily eyelids I really do need a primer to keep cream and liquid eyeshadows in place, but with a primer I find that Ariane Poole Cosmetics' Crystal Taupe Eye Shine lasts all day. The colour is also incredibly easy to wear, it's everything I want from an everyday eyeshadow. It's dark enough to add some definition but not so dark as to look stark against my skin. It's also has a very neutral tone that isn't too warm, but it also has just enough shimmer and sheen that it helps brighten and enliven the look of my eyes. It's a very chic product, and it's made particularly easy-to-use because it doesn't require a single makeup brush. Basically, I'm completely won over and I've been reaching for it a lot on busy mornings when I want something that will quickly and easily leave me looking made-up and polished. If you already have a good eyeshadow base then I'd definitely recommend adding this to your collection - I've been using it with Urban Decay's Primer Potion which I'd highly recommend.
Luxury Mascara in Black
available online from Ariane Poole Cosmetics for £17.00*
available online from Ariane Poole Cosmetics for £17.00*
This is another product that really performs well. The curved bristle brush can have a tendency to carry slightly too much product, but it does do a fantastic job of evenly distributing product and leaving lashes looking much thicker and longer. I've used it quite a lot and haven't had any problems with smudging or flaking, it does wear very well overall. However, it isn't quite as long-lasting as some other mascaras that I've tried before and doesn't necessarily make it all the way from morning until bed-time. I don't think I'd recommend this as highly as the Crystal Taupe Eyeshine but I do still think that this is a great mascara, especially for anyone looking for a paraben free option.
I'm always excited to find new brands and products to try out and my first impressions of Ariane Poole Cosmetics have been very positive. If you're interested in learning more about the brand or browsing their extensive product range then you can visit their website by clicking here.
January 17, 2015
available from LoveLula at £3.99 for 30 - sample value £1.33
Vinali Body Lotion 25ml
available from LoveLula at £14.90 for 200ml - sample value £1.86
available from MyPure at £6.00 for 30ml
available from MyPure for £4.99
available from LoveLula at £25.00 for 60ml - sample value £5.21
available from LoveLula at £16.50 for 50ml - sample value £0.66
available from LoveLula at £40.00 for 30ml - sample value £2
available from LoveLula at £24.00 for 50ml - sample value £0.96
Total value of Love Lula's January Beauty Box: £23.01
When I first picked the box up I found it to be considerably lighter in weight than last month - initially, this worried me as I thought that maybe it would just be stuffed full of sachets. Actually, what I found was that there was a really nice array of products. I liked that there's a little bit of everything - from skincare, body care as well as the EcoTools brushes and BB Cream sample. I'm also very happy to have been introduced to a new brand -Vinali - as well as coming across some old favourites including Balance Me and Madara. I still think that LoveLula is one of the best beauty boxes available and I have yet to be disappointed. If you're interested in trying more natural beauty products then I'd highly recommend the service - a monthly beauty box delivery for £12.50, that always arrives promptly and that's never missing any products. You can subscribe to next month's box online here.
January 15, 2015
all images taken from www.illamasqua.com
Despite not having tried a very wide range of their products, I can still wholeheartedly say that Illamasqua is one of my favourite makeup brands. Everything I've tried from Illamasqua has always really impressed me and their lipsticks and cream blushes are some of my most reached for beauty products. Illamasqua have amazing seasonal sales where even some of their most loved beauty products get incredible reductions - and not just 10% discounts, you can find discounts of up to 70% with free delivery on all orders. It's incredibly tempting and I've been browsing the website quite a lot in the last couple of weeks so I thought I'd share the products that have gotten me particularly excited.
Illamasqua's Matte Lipsticks in the shades Resist (rose pink) & Growl (rich brown)
available for £9.25 each, reduced from £18.50 - 50% discount
I've shared my thoughts on Illamasqua's Matte Lipsticks before - I own the shade Magnetism. I find it to be incredibly long lasting and the rest of the colour range is really wonderful. Resist looks like it would be a perfect shade for spring/summer, whilst Growl would be a gorgeous vampy option for evening wear. In a dream world I'd own handfuls of these lipsticks as they're just fantastic.
Illamasqua's Multi Facet Palette in Aura
available for £22.50, reduced from £45.00 - 50% discount
This has been a palette that I've lusted after for some time. It contains a blush, a highlight, a cool-toned contouring product, an eyebrow powder and four eyeshadows - pretty much everything you need all in one palette. There are two Multi Facet Palettes but Aura looks better for my pale skin, whilst Semblance would be better for warmer skin tones.
Illamasqua's Precision Ink Eyeliner in Glister (opalescent nude)
available for £8.00, reduced from £20 - 60% discount
Illamasqua's Liquid Eyeliners are incredibly long lasting. Once they've set they really don't budge! I already have the shade Scribe, a true white, but Glister looks like a gorgeous colour that I haven't really seen in the drugstore - so at its reduced price of £8.00 I'm seriously tempted to test it out.
Illamasqua's Cream Blushes in Laid (bright rose pink) & Libido (vibrant red)
available for £10.75 reduced from £21.50 - 50% discount
Illamasqua's Cream Blushes are my favourite - they're just wonderful products and I already own five! Libido is a really great colour, a slightly orange-toned red that gives a very naturally looking flush. Whilst Laid looks like a perfect addition for bright, perky spring-summer makeup looks.
Illamasqua's Cream Pigment in Delirium (rose taupe)
available for £7.00, reduced from £17.50 - 60% discount
I haven't tried any of Illamasqua's Cream Pigments before but Delirium looks really pretty for pale skin tones. It perhaps isn't going to work as a contour shade, but it would make a very subtle spring-summer blush and all the reviews on the website state that it works really well as a lipstick too. This is another product that I'm seriously tempted to buy!
These are my top picks from Illasmaqua's sale. I'd love to know if you've already picked anything up in the sale or if there are any products that I missed off this list that you think I should try out next.
January 14, 2015
Hello! I’m Tom, whom you may recognise from those random blog posts where Angelica and I have hopped around London and shared what we've gotten up to. This review is the first of several that I hope to write for Angelica, whose blog I've keenly followed ever since its inception!
Beauty Crowd were kind enough to send us two products from Paul Byrne’s Gentle-Man Range (Aloe Sweet Cheeks Shave Cream - Lemongrass 175ml* and Super Soothing Post Shave Balm 100ml*) for me to try out. Unlike Angelica, however, I’m not exactly bold when it comes to trying new beauty/grooming products. For too long I have been content to buy and use the same products (all too often swayed by discounts), only experimenting if on the receiving end of presents from friends or family. However, the bounties of Christmas do not last forever, and I genuinely think that my experience with the Gentle-Man collection may well persuade me to expand my horizons in the future. Both shaving cream and post shave balm are impeccably presented, boxed in dashing style evocative of their brand name. Part of a range of eight, each Gentle-Man product bears the same immaculate packaging and, unboxed, reveal stark black products aesthetically preferable to the overly macho or unisexually bland products I’ve previously used. It is a brand obviously designed for men, yet one which I feel women would be comfortable purchasing for partners, friends or family members.
Having sensitive skin, my primary concern when trying new products is whether or not they produce a reaction. Having used both Gentle-Man products for a month now, I am happy to report that neither product has borne any problems. The post shave balm lacks scent, which probably helps, and the absence of any distinct fragrance also means that it doesn’t compete unnecessarily with cologne (unlike my previous shaving kit, which now smells sickly sweet to me). Both balm and cream are pleasingly substantial, requiring only moderate amounts to cover the face evenly (both products certainly last long enough to justify the RRP). When used together, the shaving quarter of the Gentle-Man range left my skin feeling protected, supple and smooth, with absolutely no irritation.
As a final addendum, the range (a ‘Great British Product’) is produced rather pleasingly in my home county of Shropshire, which provides me with as good an incentive as any to purchase (and recommend to my friends and yourselves) more of these products that have become a valuable addition to my morning routine.
Both products are available (with more of the range) on Beauty Crowd. The Gentle-Man Shave Cream (175ml) retails for £15.00*, whilst The Gentle-Man Post Shave Balm (100ml) is available for £16.00*.
January 12, 2015
Last Friday I went on my first date of the year - cue excitement but also a fair amount of nervous energy. I'm not going to say too much about how it went but I can tell you that we went for a coffee in a really lovely coffee-shop not too far from where I live and that we went during the afternoon.
I don't know about you but I never really know how to dress for more casual dates, and certainly ones that occur during the daytime! In the end I opted for a relatively casual outfit (a plain, round-necked dress with a cardigan and boots) and the really paired-back, simple makeup look featured above (those are photos of my actual face-of-the-day before and after).
I wanted to even out my skin and cover the redness in my cheeks and across my nose, so I applied my Revlon Colorstay Foundation in the shade Sand Beige using my Real Techniques Makeup Sponge. I think it did a good job of giving me natural looking coverage, as well as adding a bit of warmth to my complexion. For concealing under my eyes, I opted for Nars' Creamy Radiant Concealer in Vanilla with a bit of L'Oreal's Lumi Magique Concealer in Medium on top to add some brightness to the inner corners of my eyes.
I did my eyebrows using my Brow Definer in Blonde/Auburn from The Body Shop. It isn't the best by any means but it isn't too warm toned so it gives quite a natural finish (which I like). I did a very simple eyeshadow look using my new Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette but because of my hooded eyelids you can't really see the colours I used in my photo. I applied the shade Strange all over my lid and then Nooner through my crease, on top of Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion which is incredible. I finished off by applying two layers of Maybelline's the Falsies Volum' Express Mascara (a mascara I've repurchased) which gave quite a fluttery finish.
To add some colour to my cheeks I opted for Mac's Cremeblend Blush in Brit Wit, this is another new product in my collection and I simply adore the colour and the formula - I'm going to do a full review at some point. I then also added some of RMS Beauty's Living Luminizer to the high points of my face. It's been a daily staple for me every since I got it a couple of months ago, I'd highly recommend it for anyone looking for a pretty and natural-looking, lit-from-within glow. And then, to finish everything off, I applied some of Revlon's Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey to my lips. It gives long lasting colour and the shade seemed natural enough whilst still helping my lips look fuller.
This was a slightly different - and bit more personal - sort of post from me today but I hope you found it interesting. I'd love to know if you do your makeup differently when you go on dates - and what sort of makeup you might choose for a "day date"!
January 09, 2015
I dipped into some of my old haul posts and realised that I first discovered Revlon's Colorstay Foundation back in March, 2013. It took me a little while but I did eventually fall head-over-heels in love with this foundation. Applied properly - especially with the right primer - it comes close to being perfect. Here's how you can tell how much I like it, it's the first foundation that I've actually finished since I started this blog almost two and half years ago.
I've been using Revlon's Colorstay Foundation for Oily/Combination Skin in the shade Buff which is quite fair with yellow undertones. It's the second palest shade (those of you with truly fair skin would prefer the shade Ivory) which is usually perfect for me in the depth of winter, but at the moment and in the spring/summer it is definitely a touch too light. I recently repurchased Revlon's Colorstay Foundation opting for the next shade along, Sand Beige. It's much deeper than Buff but it doesn't have an orange undertone so I find it quite wearable. For reference, I've included comparison swatches below.
The only way I like to apply Revlon's Colorstay Foundation is with a makeup sponge, and the one that I use (and have repurchased three times now) is the Real Techniques' Miracle Complexion Sponge. It's quite a thick and medium-to-high coverage foundation and I find that it can apply too thickly when I use a buffing brush. However, when I use a damp makeup sponge I find it to be really buildable, leaving a very natural looking finish despite offering a medium coverage. It also lasts really well on my skin, across both the oilier and drier parts of my face. It doesn't fade unevenly and it doesn't emphasise any of my skin concerns, this makes Revlon Colourstay a really reliable and easy-to-wear option that's great for both everyday and evening wear. I've included before and after photos of me wearing Buff and Sand Beige so that you can get a better idea of the coverage and colour that the foundation offers.
In the above photos I'm not wearing a primer but I do generally like to use a primer when I wear any foundation. I have three favourite options that are all interchangeable depending on what sort of makeup look I'm going for:
To extend the wear time of my foundation and smooth over congested or blemished skin
To extend the wear time of my foundation and to add dewiness and radiance
To add warmth and a "healthy" looking glow
All of these primers work well with Revlon's Colorstay Foundation and I'd definitely recommend them.
I'm a big fan of this foundation and I hope that you found my review helpful, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments or tweet me for a quicker response. I'd love to know what foundation is your favourite and how you like to apply it - I'm particularly on the look out for new brush or sponge recommendations!
January 06, 2015
The day after Boxing Day I caught some sort of London "bug" and spent the next week feeling completely and utterly gross, doing very little apart from recuperating. As a result, I've spent the majority of my time since then either in bed or on my sofa feeling pretty darn sorry for myself. Other than seriously binging on Netflix very little has managed to brighten these sick-days. However, there were a few beauty bits that I kept reaching for to make me feel and look considerably better.
Aromatheraphy Associates Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil*
Aromatheraphy Associates Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil*
I was very kindly sent this shower oil the week before Christmas - it's almost as if someone knew what was coming! I don't have a bath at home and I must admit that at first I was a bit sceptical about these bath and shower oils, they're a ubiquitous blogger favourite and although they may be pretty they're also very pricey. However, after walking around for a week with a head that felt the size of a melon I can sincerely attest to the sheer pleasure of an essential-oil fuelled shower. The Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil* really did perk me up, almost unbelievably so! I would pour a capful of oil over my torso and arms pre-showering and what transpires is that the hot water releases all the magical, uplifting and sinus-clearing essential oils (of grapefruit, juniper, rosemary and berry) which instantly made my head feel clearer and lighter. I can only imagine how lovely these oils would be in a bath. At £40 a bottle they're definitely an investment, but with each bottle containing 20 capfuls you can easily monitor your usage to get the most for your money, plus over time they actually work out as a more cost effective investment than many of Lush's bath bombs. Personally, I'm giving the Revive Oil a very big thumbs up and I'll definitely be reaching for it whenever I'm not feeling totally myself. Pro-tip: this would be perfect for anyone who parties a little hard over the weekend and needs a regular monday morning pick-me-up.
I've been using this for just over a month now and it's become a morning and evening skincare staple that just keeps my skin soft, smooth and all-out happy. It's a wonderful organic rosehip oil - it's much lighter than the Fushi Rosehip Oil I was previously using and it sinks into my skin very quickly but with all the same great results. Over time rosehip oil does a fantastic job of evening out skin tone and rehydrating dry or dehydrated skin. I have combination skin but I found that whilst I was ill my skin was much more dry and dull than usual and this skin oil made a big difference in how my skin felt. If you like easy, straightforward and effective skincare products then I'd definitely recommend incorporating rosehip oil into your routine. Mount Purious' oil is the best one I've come across if you want a product to use day and night and I particularly like using it because I really like the brand's ethos. They're a really environmentally responsible company, they're cruelty free and vegan friendly, they support organic farming and they also give 10% of their profits to charity. If you want to invest in good skincare from a really good brand then I'd definitely point you towards Mount Purious.
When I'm ill I almost always get bored, and when I'm bored I always go looking for a face mask to use - its the best beauty time-killer. Antipodes' Aura Manuka Honey Mask was definitely one of, if not my absolute, favourite face mask of 2014 and I reached for it twice whilst I was ill. It smells gorgeous and always leaves my skin smoother, fresher and more glowing. It's also ridiculously easy to remove, so it's perfect to use even if you're feeling grouchy and gross.
Lanolips 101 Ointment*
I don't know if you've ever experienced the discomfort of a really sore I've-blown-it-one-too-many-times nose. Well, that was my hell for the first few days of not feeling well, until I started slathering Lanolips' 101 Ointment* all over my face. It's an almost instant cure for dry, cracked and sorry skin and next time I'll crack this out of the tin as soon as I reach for tissues. If you have dry lips, a dry nose, dry elbows, a patch of eczema on your collarbone (oh, that's only me?), then you can reach for Lanolips' 101 Ointment* and know that it's going to improve your symptoms pretty darn quickly. I love Lanolips' range (especially their Herbal Body Oil and Intense Rose Balm) but the 101 Ointment is the handiest multipurpose product that they stock.
During that week, apart from my cleanser (I'm still using Murad's Essentical-C Cleanser*) and shampoo and conditioner (Toni & Guy's Nourish Shampoo and Conditioner for Normal Hair*) I didn't really use much else beauty-wise (although I did doll myself up for New Year's Eve). Do you have any beauty bits that you reach for when you're not feeling so good?
January 01, 2015
There are some people that we meet in the course of our lives who are a simple pleasure to know. They effervesce and make our lives richer and brighter. They stand strong against life's most raging tides, helping to anchor and support us. Knowing them makes us purely and thoroughly happy.
I’ve been very lucky in my life and I’ve crossed paths with some formidable personalities, not all of whom I’m still in touch with today. However, there are a few incredible people who have become inked into the pages of my life. They’ve been there through the weird and the wonderful and I couldn’t quite imagine where I would be today without their love and support.
Two of my very close friends happen to live at quite a distance from me, and, as a result, they’ve become quite separate from the holistic reality of my everyday life. However, it isn’t quite so simple because they’re by no means absent from my daily life. Indeed, I’ve come to realise that these sorts of relationships – which I suppose I’m defining as “long distance” - enjoy their own set of peculiarities and parameters.
The two friends to whom I refer, we speak everyday – far more often than the friends closer to hand. The wonders of technology not only make our friendships possible but they offer levels of intimacy that even a few years ago might have seemed impossible. Between Skype, Whats App, Instagram, Snapchat and even Spotify, we share information, photos, videos and music. Together, it all helps to maintain that intimate sense of knowing someone that comes from sharing their surroundings, knowing the faces of their friends, seeing what they’re eating – and all the other infinitesimal seemingly-insignificant things that are in fact really important.
And yet, I can still miss them dreadfully. For me, I think the dreadfulness comes from having known what it was like to have them as part of my life as a whole. It’s the transition from wholeness into particularity that’s uncomfortable. I miss the laughter that accompanies their smiling photograph, I miss seeing the eruption of rhythm brought on by a song and I miss the liveliness and instantaneousness of knowing that I can run across a park or corridor to see someone that I love.
This is all inspired by the raw nostalgia of a photograph that Sophia sent me on Christmas Day, a photograph that we took together. But this isn’t by any means a sob story – how could I wish my life to be any different when I feel truly happy?
Nowadays, this sort of absent, new-age friendship has become positively normal. So normal that even lovers manage it! And that’s what it’s all about I suppose; management, acceptance and compromise. Change isn’t something to fear or resent, although I know that at times it can present itself as something rather scary.
What I really wanted to say with my post today is that I’m forever grateful to my two wonderful friends, Tom and Sophia. Knowing them is both a privilege and a joy, and one day spent together is worth a hundred or more days apart.
Guys, thank you both for a beautiful, fun and successful 2014. Happy New Year, and I promise I’ll still be there even when I’m really far away x
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