Wednesday, 9 August 2017

July Favourites

Iconic London Original Illuminator
I am obsessed with the Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops. The high shine metallic finish is everything I want in a highlighter. The main downside to them is that they are very expensive. I have them in the light pink shade Celestial but as I have a lot of yellow in my skin I wanted to try them in a slightly warmer colour. Instead of buying another bottle from Cover FX I decided to go for Iconic London's Original Illuminator as they recently had a £10 discount code on their website. The consistency of the Iconic London Illuminator is a bit thinner & the texture is slightly oilier which actually makes it a lot easier to apply & blend out. You still have to work quickly but it's a lot more forgiving. The sheen is just as intense & the glow it gives my skin is breathtaking. The colour isn't quite right for me though. If you look at my face from the side on you just see this blinding highlight but if you look at my face from the front it looks like a dark orange stripe. I can get away with it by blending it out really well & using a white powder highlight on top but it's something to bear in mind if you aren't a tanned goddess like the girls you see using it on Instagram. I still love it & use it despite the orange base because it really does look that good from the side. I just wish one of these companies would come out with a metallic liquid highlight in the exact same colour as theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer because that would be sheer perfection.

L'Oreal Paradise Extatic Mascara
This highly anticipated mascara has finally made it's way over here & despite being slightly different to the American version, I really love it! It lacks the pretty pink packaging of the American Lash Paradise Mascara and L'Oreal UK have added castor oil to the formula for smoother application & to keep your lashes feeling soft. Before buying it I had heard rumours that it was a dupe for Too Faced's Better Than Sex Mascara. The wands do look very similar but personally I think that Better Than Sex is a slightly superior mascara. It curls & fans out my lashes in a really pretty fashion which is something that Paradise Extatic doesn't do. Apart from that issue the Paradise mascara does give my lashes tons of length & volume. Some people have said that one coat is enough for them but I like my mascara to look a bit clumpy so I prefer to use two coats. It clumps up in a nice way so you look like you have thicker, fuller lashes not gross spider legs. My lashes are left looking intensely black & defined. It doesn't transfer or flake on me throughout the day & the addition of castor oil means that it's helping to nourish my lashes too. When it comes to mascara, L'Oreal is my favourite drugstore brand & the Paradise Extatic Mascara certainly doesn't disappoint.

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Blink*
I recently signed up for Influenster who sent me some of the new Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colours from Rimmel in one of their complimentary VoxBoxes. I think their website is a great way to try out new products & share your thoughts with fellow beauty lovers. Anyway I have amassed quite the collection of matte liquid lipsticks, Jeffree Star's being my all time favourite formula. One thing I think his lip collection is lacking in is natural pink shades. He comes out with a lot of nudes & crazy colours but every pink I have from him is either very light or very dark. There are fifteen liquid lip colours available from Rimmel, I received five & four of them are gorgeous everyday pinks so I couldn't be more grateful to add these to my makeup stash. My favourite colour at the minute is 200 - Pink Blink. This gorgeous warm toned rosy pink is the perfect MLBB shade. In terms of formula they are almost as good as my Jeffree Star ones. They last such a long time on my lips without any smearing & only fade from the middle of my lips if I eat a big meal. The consistency is quite thin so they are slightly streaky. However the colour is buildable & they layer well without cracking. They are very comfortable to wear & don't dry out my lips. Overall the quality is top notch & these are easily the best drugstore matte liquid lipsticks I've tried.

NAF! Cherry Pie Cuticle Oil Pen
NAF! Salon in Glasgow create some of the coolest nail art around. I love checking out their Instagram for nail inspo & if I lived in Scotland I would visit there in a heartbeat. For those of us who don't live anywhere nearby they also have an online shop where you can purchase some of the items they sell in the salon. The owner of NAF! actually used to own DIY Nails who specialised in water activated nail decals & I featured them on here a few times. She still sells some nailcals on NAF! Stuff but the star products now are definitely the scented cuticle oils. I picked up a few of these as I'm trying to look after my nails more & my cuticles often look worse for wear. I normally use OPI Avoplex but I wanted something more portable that I could chuck in my handbag & the idea of scented cuticle oils was too cute to resist. They were developed by the nail technicians at NAF! & they use these on all the clients in the salon. The cocktail collection smells incredible but my favourite is the Cherry Pie Cuticle Oil Pen. It smells exactly like maraschino cherries & the blend of Vitamin E with Jojoba Oil really helps to nourish your nails.

LQ Liquid Health Supplements Skin, Hair & Nails*
I reviewed these liquid collagen supplements a little while ago after finishing a one month trial of the product. As you need to continue taking the supplement in order to get the best results, Sparkle PR very kindly sent me another month's supply! I'm just finishing off the last few bottles now but the effects have definitely been more noticeable this time around. My skin is looking pretty fantastic if I do say so myself! It looks & feels plumper, I have hardly any fine lines & any blemishes I get are healing in record time. My hair feels stronger & I've had minimal breakage. Bleached hair is generally very fragile & I've really struggled with breakage in the past so I'm glad to see that these collagen drinks are doing my hair good. During the first month's trial I didn't notice a difference in my nails but they're growing like crazy right now & only one has broken in this whole month. I've also noticed that my nails have fewer white spots which may well be down to taking these supplements as I haven't changed the rest of my diet at all. LQ's Skin, Hair & Nails is still working really well for me & if you're looking for a supplement to accompany all your other beauty regimes I'd highly recommend giving these little drinks a go.

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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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