Thursday, 6 July 2017

June Favourites

Maybelline Master Contour V-Shape Duo Stick in Light*
Cream contouring is something that I've avoided for so long. I hate cream highlighters & blushers because they never sit right on top of my base so surely contour products would be the same? Well I finally tried a cream contour product & I absolutely love it! Maybelline came out with this V-Shape Contour Stick & not only is the colour perfect on me, the formula is lovely too. It works well whether I use it before or after powdering my skin & blends out really well without disappearing completely. The stick format is easy to use & stops you from applying too much. It looks like a natural shadow on the skin but is still precise enough to really cut those cheekbones. I'm not as keen on the highlight side as it's not any lighter than my skintone & I prefer a shimmery blinding highlight anyway. Unless you're a professional makeup artist, no one really needs a full cream contour palette in their collection. This stick does it all.

The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.0N
As soon as they went on sale I snapped up both of the new foundations from The Ordinary. Their skincare is revolutionary so I had high hopes for their base products. I normally prefer high coverage foundations, no matter how well my skin is behaving so I was surprised to find that I actually prefer the Serum Foundation which has a much lighter formula. The thin watery consistency is very similar to Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua but a little goes a long way & the coverage is much better than I was expecting. On the face it definitely reminds me of Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk as it gives the skin a beautifully smooth & radiant finish. Colourwise 1.0N is slightly peachier than my HG NARS Siberia but it's just as light so it does work well on my skintone. Unless you're significantly yellow or pink toned, this shade will suit a lot of pale people. If you can get your hands on it, this foundation is definitely worth trying.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Hyaluronic Acid Lotion
One thing that asian skincare brands do better than anyone else is hydration. I've learned to love sheet masks, snail secretions & essences as they bring a comfort to my skin unlike anything else. My latest skincare discovery is this Hyaluronic Acid Lotion from Japanese brand Hada Labo. The original Gokujyun Lotion is one of the best selling asian beauty products of all time. I put off buying it for ages because I was using the CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence but when that ran out I wanted to try something new. I decided to buy the Premium version of this lotion because it has five different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid instead of the three found in the original. That means it's incredibly hydrating & far more potent than most hyaluronic acid serums as it can penetrate deeper into the skin. This lotion makes my skin so unbelievably soft & plump. It fills out any fine lines & gives you a natural dewy glow. If you like using hyaluronic acid serums in your skincare routine, you need to buy this lotion. It's probably the best hyaluronic acid product I've ever used!

Shadow Shields
I've been working on my eyeshadow skills a lot lately. I'm normally fairly lazy & either sweep one colour over my entire eyelid or just blend a transition colour into my crease. I finally have an eyeshadow collection to be proud of & I want to put all those beautiful colours to good use instead of letting them rot on my dressing table. I've started spending quite a bit of time trying out detailed eye looks & I especially like to angle the shadows upwards at the outer corners. There's quite a few ways to clean up your eyeshadow so it fits that angle but my preferred method is to use these Shadow Shields. You just pop them on under your eyes & they really help you to achieve that cat eye shape. They're also great for catching fallout which is inevitable when working with darker colours. They won't disturb your foundation underneath & are gentle on the eye area too. They're such a simple product but have really helped to up my eyeshadow game.

Essence The Cushion Eyeliner
Another innovation that asian beauty brands have brought us is cushion cosmetics. I've tried cushion foundations & cushion blushers and I really enjoy the finish they give & the application process. I tend to mainly buy asian skincare products as I have enough makeup already but when I heard that Essence were coming out with a cushion eyeliner I couldn't resist picking one up. I think Banila Co & Tony Moly also do one but when you can buy something from Wilkos for a mere £3, sometimes it's better to stick with the UK high street! From the outside it looks very similar to a gel eyeliner pot. However inside there's a small round sponge saturated with black liquid liner. When you apply pressure with an eyeliner brush, the liquid starts to ooze out & you can use the product. The liquid is quite runny but I find it far less messy to use than gel eyeliner. It's extremely pigmented & dries down very quickly with a glossy finish. It lasts all day long on me without crumbling or transferring onto my upper eyelid. Liquid liners tend to come in a pen format but with this pot you can apply it however you want, even with something like the Vamp Stamp. If you like the ease of a gel formulation but prefer the finish of liquid liner, this product is for you. It's such a fantastic eyeliner & at this price you'd be silly not to buy one!

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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Private Labelling In Skincare

Private labelling is something that happens across many different industries. A private label product is something that has been manufactured by one company but then sold under another company's brand name. It happens all the time, especially in the food, cosmetic & electronic industries. It lowers production costs whilst maintaining good profit margins & these discounts are often passed on to us as the customer. Many items in Aldi & Lidl are private label products and these are fantastic for people with a small food budget. I buy some private label stuff from eBay & Amazon which allows me to save a lot of money on various products. However when it comes to cosmetics I think it's a tricky subject. I tend to gravitate towards cosmetics brands where the founders have a lot of creative input. I want to buy something new, unique & different to everything else out there. Otherwise, what's the point in buying it? If brands use private label manufacturers they have no control over the formula or the ingredients used in their products. The only thing that changes is the packaging & retail price of the product. Most of the time it's generally not a bad thing. It's only when brands are dishonest about private labelling in a way that negatively affects consumers that it becomes something to be worried about.

There is a reason why I suddenly felt compelled to write about this subject. It's because I basically didn't really blog much last year & subsequently have a huge backlog of draft posts with fully edited photos to choose from. When I was deciding what to review next, I came across a post I had started about this Mint Facial Polish from Claudia Louch. I don't really like physical facial exfoliants so I used it as a body scrub instead but I didn't want to dedicate a few paragraphs to that boring conclusion. Before I received this item as my final PR sample from Claudia Louch I discovered something that has niggled me about the brand ever since. Whilst browsing Instagram one day I saw a skincare brand being promoted by influencers where the products had the exact same packaging as Claudia Louch. The names & ingredients were all exactly the same too. This brand was selling the products in America at a much lower price. I figured that they must have copied Claudia Louch as I had been told that she had personally helped to develop these products. When I asked the PR person I was working with about it they had no idea what was going on so I started to look into it myself.

I googled the product names which resulted in lots of reviews from myself & many other UK bloggers. It also came up with loads of random skincare brands that I had never heard of before, most of them based in America & most of them selling the same products also at a lower price. I eventually found some sites where you could actually order them wholesale & get your own brand name etched on the front of the bottle. I came to conclusion that Claudia Louch's skincare range was entirely made up of privately labelled products. Normally I wouldn't take issue with this. It's an open secret that Morphe brushes are private labelled but I still buy them & love using them. They don't purport to be anything unique so when I buy from them I know exactly what I'm getting. But in this case I feel that the selling of these skincare products was both unethical & dishonest.

It seems that Claudia Louch has since revamped her website with a different name & removed the shop section. When she did sell skincare products this Mint Exfoliating Facial Polish cost a whopping £59! A quick search for this product shows you can get it as cheap as £28 from another brand using the same manufacturer. I also found this brochure from the original manufacturer showing a production cost of $18.99 so the price has been marked up immensely. This was a PR sample so I'm not upset about the cost. However I do feel bad if anyone did purchase her products from my recommendation or the recommendation of many other bloggers who also received them as PR samples. Sure the products themselves were actually very good, I wouldn't have used them religiously if they sucked. But the whole story behind the brand & the creation of these products was a load of crap. In my reviews I defended the ridiculously high price tags because Claudia has years of experience as a skin specialist & we were told that she had a hand in developing the formulas. These blatant lies have left a bad taste in my mouth. If these were private label products she had no input whatsoever & insinuating that she helped to create them is not fair to us as informed consumers.

Maybe this doesn't matter anymore as Claudia Louch no longer sells these products on her website but I still think it's an important subject to discuss. As consumers we deserve to know exactly what we're buying & when brands start lying to us in this way it's completely unethical. What are your thoughts on private labelling in the cosmetics industry?

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Bravura London Chemical Peels

It has been five whole years since I started treating my skin with chemical exfoliants. I actually can't believe it's been that long but this blog is proof that I first reviewed Alpha-H's Liquid Gold back in 2012. A lot has happened to my skin in that time. Spots, closed comedones, scarring... have all come & gone & come again. I've tried countless products over the years, all of which seemed to alleviate my skin troubles in the beginning but my spots persisted & my skin has never looked 100% perfect. I've even considered going on roaccutane but was never really sure if my blemishes were severe enough. The products I was using were mainly leave on treatments. I used things like the aforementioned Liquid Gold, Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid, Eucerin DermoPurifyer Toner, CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid & AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid with varying degrees of success but ultimately none of them were quite enough to solve my skin problems.

Unsatisfied with the acid treatments I had tried, I began looking into hardcore chemical peels. I was so fed up that I really wanted to order some extremely high percentage acids from Makeup Artist's Choice but I was put off by the shipping & customs charges from America. Eventually someone on Reddit recommended Bravura London's chemical peels & I promptly visited their website to place an order. Bravura London were the first company in the UK to supply chemical peels for use at home. The owner Amanda Elias founded the company back in 2003 & she continues to give out personal product recommendations for anyone wanting to try their skincare range. All of their products are extremely well formulated yet very reasonably priced. Swapping out many of the items in my skincare routine for Bravura London products has been beneficial for both my skin & my bank account!

The first product I tried was the 2% Salicylic Acid. This BHA works wonders on spots, blackheads & closed comedones as salicylic acid exfoliates inside your pores as well as the surface of your skin. The application process of this peel is slightly different to many leave on BHA & AHA treatments. First you need to wash your face & then wait 30 minutes for your skin to return to it's normal pH level. Next you're supposed to decant some of the acid into a glass. I like to use one full pipette of acid & a fancy martini glass. I then apply the acid all over my face using the Chemical Peel Applicator Brush that I also ordered from Bravura. This fan brush is made from high quality synthetic Taklon hair. The bristles feel really soft & it's very easy to clean. It allows you to apply the chemical peel quickly & evenly without getting the product all over your hands. After two minutes you can wash it off & carry on with the rest of your skincare routine. You can increase the treatment time up to 10 minutes as your skin becomes accustomed to the acid. Unlike many chemical peels you don't need to use a neutraliser afterwards which definitely makes the whole process a lot simpler. Peels are bit stronger than exfoliating toners so the effects are more immediate & as I'm washing it off I can instantly feel the difference in my skin. It unclogs pores like a dream & my face is generally less congested. For best results you should use it every other night. Salicylic acid can be quite drying as it regulates sebum production so I always slather on my moisturiser afterwards but it could be the answer to a lot of oily skinned people's prayers.

Having fallen in love with the Salicylic Acid, I couldn't wait to try some more products. Next I ordered the 10% Lactic Acid along with the Revitalising Ginseng Toner. My skin tends to prefer lactic acid over glycolic acid as it's a milder exfoliant & far less drying. It's a much better choice if you have dry or dehydrated skin. Lactic acid is an AHA that increases cell turnover & boosts collagen production. This makes your skin feel smoother & more elastic. It also helps with blemishes, hyperpigmentation & fine lines. Regular AHA use will reveal a complexion that is more even both in tone & texture. When I started using this particular Lactic Acid it was at a higher percentage than I had ever used before. 10% is really quite potent so it might be too strong if you've never used any lactic acid. This peel has been infused with rose floral water which gives it a delicate rose scent & makes it a pleasure to use. You apply it in the same way as the Salicylic Acid but you need to leave it on for 5 minutes instead of 2. Treatment time for this acid can be increased up to a maximum of 15 minutes. I do find that my skin looks a bit pink after washing it off but this soon fades away & is replaced by a fresh, radiant glow. Again you can apply this every other evening or if you want to use it alongside the Salicylic Acid you can alternate them to avoid over-exfoliation. As with all chemical exfoliants it's incredibly important to wear sunscreen in the morning as your skin will be temporarily more sensitive to the sun. My skin feels noticeably softer & smoother after using this product. Lactic acid is a natural humectant which means that it helps the skin to retain moisture & this peel also features glycerin so it really is fab for drier skin types.

The one thing that annoyed me about using these skin peels was the 30 minute wait time after washing your face. Peels work best when your skin is at the correct pH level but sometimes I couldn't be bothered waiting so that's why I ordered the Revitalising Ginseng Toner as a pre-peel treatment. Bravura say that if you use this beforehand you can skip the huge wait time. It contains 5% glycolic acid which is the same amount as Alpha-H Liquid Gold. Personally this product did not work for me & it made me breakout in places that I had no spots in previously. I think that using two acids one after the other was simply too much for my skin. Now I just use the CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser beforehand to lower my skin's pH level. This works a treat & my skin reacts much better to the peels without having to wait after cleansing. I would highly recommend picking up some of Bravura London's at-home chemical peels if you feel that leave on acids are no longer working for you. The results I've had from using these products has been phenomenal & the extra effort required is definitely worthwhile.

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