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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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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Thursday, 22 June 2017

LQ Liquid Health Supplements Skin, Hair & Nails

LQ Liquid Health Supplements Skin, Hair & Nails* - £29.99

We've all heard the phrase 'you are what you eat' before & it certainly rings true when talking about skincare. Changing certain aspects of my diet has personally helped me to combat issues with acne & eczema. Some changes can be as simple as avoiding dairy products but for other benefits supplements are a fantastic way to improve your diet & overall health. The latest trend in health supplements are collagen drinks as a tastier method of ingesting nutrients that claim to support beauty from within. I take a variety of daily supplement pills from Holland & Barrett but I've never tried a beauty drink before. LQ Liquid Health offered to send me a month's supply of their Skin, Hair & Nails liquid supplement & I was very eager to give it a go.

As we age our natural collagen levels start to decrease resulting in loss of moisture, reduced elasticity and the development of fine lines & wrinkles. This apparently happens around the age of 25 & at 28 I can already tell that my skin no longer looks quite as youthful (even though I still get spots!). Ingesting liquid collagen provides the entire body with the building blocks it needs to support the creation & repair of the body's connective tissues. These beauty drinks allow the collagen peptides to be delivered straight into the bloodstream to directly encourage the skin to produce more collagen & hyaluronic acid. This helps to inhibit the ageing process by boosting the skin's hydration levels whilst plumping & firming it up in the process. The main benefit of drinking these bottles over taking a pill is that you get a whopping 7000mg of hydrolysed marine collagen in each one which is clinically proven to have a positive effect on your skin, hair & nails. LQ use Peptan® which is a high quality source of collagen containing more than 97% protein & it can be easily digested by the body.

As well as collagen these supplements provide eight other important nutrients, all of which contribute towards the maintenance of healthy skin, hair & nails. These include hyaluronic acid, resveratrol, silicon & glucosamine. I'm sure we all know about about the wonders of hyaluronic acid by now. It's great for hydrating & plumping up the skin but it also helps to lubricate your joints. Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant with scientifically proven anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer & life-prolonging effects. Silicon contributes to the strength, integrity & growth of connective tissues including skin, hair & nails. Glucosamine is a substance found in the fluid around your joints and supplementing your diet with it can help with joint pain & general joint health. I'd definitely recommend it if you're into training at the gym. In addition to these key active ingredients they also feature Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium & Biotin. These beauty drinks are simply packed full of good stuff to help your body out!

Each bottle of Skin, Hair & Nails contains 50ml of liquid vitamin supplement. You're supposed to drink one bottle per day for at least one month in order to see results. The drink itself has a fairly pleasant passion fruit flavour. There was a bit of a metallic aftertaste which kinda reminded me of these chewable zinc pastilles that my mum forced me to take as a child whenever I got poorly. Luckily you can down these little bottles like a shot so the taste doesn't last long & you can chase them with whatever drink you like. I always took them straight after breakfast so I wouldn't forget. It took quite a while for me to notice a difference but by the fourth week of my trial I could tell that my skin looked plumper & felt better hydrated. These supplements also put paid to the fine lines on my forehead. I kept the rest of my topical skincare routine the same throughout so I do think that these drinks made a difference in that respect. As my hair is bleached it's quite easy to keep track of my hair growth from my dark roots. This was definitely faster than usual & the new hair felt stronger too. For some reason my nails didn't seem to benefit in the same way. They broke off the same amount as usual & grew at the same rate. Perhaps they would improve with further use.

Since finishing the month long trial my skin seems to have gone back to the way it was before with a bit of sagging & fine lines creeping back in. LQ suggest continuing to supplement with 3 or 4 bottles per week to maintain the benefits. However the main downside to these supplements is that they are quite expensive. Each box costs £30 & you only get 10 bottles for that price. Therefore it would cost you £90 for just one month. If you purchase them directly from LQ Liquid Health you can get 3 for the price of 2 so it's a much better deal but still an expensive thing to try out. Nonetheless, if you can afford it & want to suppress the visible signs of ageing or simply want healthier looking skin, these little bottles are definitely worth the investment.

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Happiness Boutique

Happiness Boutique Glamorous Over The Top Statement Necklace* - £24.50

For someone who used to relish over-accessorising every single day, recently I've found myself wearing & buying less pieces of jewellery. More often than not I simply throw on my name necklace with my Michael Kors watch and head out the door. When I do wear something different it's because I want it to stand out as an important part of my outfit & statement pieces are my favourite way to upgrade what could otherwise be quite a plain ensemble. I especially like to bring out my statement jewellery collection during the Summer when it's often far too hot to throw on more than shorts & a t-shirt. When Happiness Boutique, an online jewellery store based in Berlin, asked me to feature one of their pieces on my blog I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of gorgeous statement necklaces available on their website. I've been looking for something ultra glam to take on holiday with me & I'm incredibly pleased with the necklace I picked out.

This stunning statement necklace is fully decked out with rhinestones & intricate details that really catch your eye. It certainly stood out to me when I was browsing their website. All of their product photos are really clear so you know exactly what your item will look like when it arrives. Most products are also accompanied by many customer pictures so you can get some ideas of how to style each piece. This particular necklace can be styled in so many ways & would work well in many situations. You could wear it to work, out clubbing or on the beach - it really is that versatile. I adore all of the wonderful embellishments on this necklace. With all of the different layers & shapes it almost looks like you're wearing several different pieces at once. Each individual section is beautifully designed & they fit together seamlessly as a whole. It definitely lives up to it's name of being OTT & has the ability to instantly dress up any outfit. Despite being quite large, it's not too heavy & won't weigh you down during the day. It feels very sturdy and has an adjustable chain to suit loads of different styles of tops & dresses.

Happiness Boutique offer free delivery worldwide on all orders & my necklace arrived promptly despite coming all the way from Germany. It was packaged very securely so I wouldn't hesitate to order from them again. I think the price is quite reasonable compared to similar pieces I've seen on the high street & the quality is definitely more impressive. I absolutely love this statement necklace & I look forward to wearing it in Spain this Summer. I would highly recommend checking out Happiness Boutique's gorgeous fashion accessories. Alongside their fabulous range of necklaces they have some beautiful bracelets, earrings & rings too so you're bound to find something you love!

How do you like to style statement necklaces?

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Monday, 19 June 2017

FOREO Luna Mini 2

FOREO Luna Mini 2 - £119

The FOREO Luna Mini 2 is hands down the best thing that I have bought in the last year. I've noticed quite a few people questioning whether they should buy a Clarisonic or a FOREO Luna so I just wanted to give you the lowdown on why I think this particular cleansing device is so much better for your skin. About six years ago I bought a Clarisonic Mia. At the time I really loved it & thought that it was an incredible invention. I did go through what others had told me was the 'purge' stage as it did make me breakout for a while but my skin around these blemishes looked beautiful. Eventually I stopped getting spots from it but the effects were no longer that noticeable & I started to get broken capillaries on my face. This showed that the brush head was way too harsh for my skin & the 'purge' I had gone through was just my skin reacting badly to the intense irritation that the Clarisonic Mia was causing. I also found it annoying that you could never be sure if the bristles were really clean, you had to replace the brush heads often & you had to charge it all the time. I only had the device for about 10 months before it broke & would no longer charge. It took quite a while to get a replacement & by the time that Clarisonic had sent me a new one, I realised that my skin was better off without it.

The harsh physical exfoliation of the Clarisonic Mia had put me off cleansing devices for a vast amount of time. Having learned so much more about skincare I knew that chemical exfoliants were better suited to my skin. Then last year I started seeing lots of reviews for the little FOREO Luna Play. Many people that I knew had reviewed & loved their Clarisonics in the past were singing the praises of this tiny cleansing tool. It definitely piqued my interest but to me the Luna Play seemed like a waste of money as you can only use it 100 times before it dies forever. Instead I decided to go for the Luna Mini 2 as the size & shape of it were a happy medium between the original Luna & Luna Mini devices. The price was also smack bang in the middle of these two & at the time Cult Beauty had an offer on which meant I got a free Yu Ling jade facial roller as well so I got a pretty good deal! Of course, I went for the bright pink one but it is available in five other colours to suit your own style.

The Luna Mini 2 is a sonic cleansing device that delivers 8000 T-Sonic pulsations per minute. There are eight levels of pulse intensity so you can decide how powerful you want it to be. It features a three zone brush which is suitable for all skin types. On the front of the Luna Mini 2 there is a large surface area covered with long silicone bristles which gently remove impurities as well as a smaller patch at the top with thicker points for precision cleaning. On the back the silicone points are broader, denser & more tightly packed which specifically targets oily skin. I tend to just use the front of the device as I feel that the softer silicone bristles work well for my skin type. The silicone is nonporous & antibacterial so it's really easy to clean and much more hygienic than a brush. It is also 100% waterproof so you don't have to worry about keeping it in the shower. I absolutely love how long it lasts without charging. I've had mine for nearly a year now & I've only had to charge it once in that time. If only they could put that same technology into an iPhone! The main difference between a Clarisonic & a Luna device is that the Luna does not exfoliate the skin. Instead it just uses these T-Sonic vibrations to deeply cleanse your pores, kinda like an electric toothbrush for your face. It simply enhances the power of your cleanser and allows any products you apply after cleansing to penetrate deeper. This means that it fits in better with the rest of my skincare routine as I can still use all the acids & retinoids I want without over-exfoliating my skin or damaging the moisture barrier.

Using the device is incredibly simple. You just wet your face & apply your cleanser like normal. Then you wet the Luna Mini 2 & turn it on before moving it around your face in circular motions for one minute. It has an integrated timer so it pauses every 15 seconds to tell you to move the device to another area of your face. It also switches off after three minutes to prevent overuse. The only thing you have to be careful about is which cleanser you use with it. The instructions say to avoid using any clay-based, silicone-based or grainy cleansers with the Luna Mini 2. My favourite cleanser is the CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser & it works brilliantly with this cleansing tool. I use it with this cleanser twice a day, every day & my skin has never looked smoother. The results I've had from using this have been amazing. When I first bought it I wasn't too sure if it was doing much. From the very first use it will make your face feel baby soft & really well cleansed without any irritation whatsoever. But over time it really starts to work it's magic. It has made a huge difference to the texture & clarity of my skin. My complexion looks so bright & fresh and my makeup applies better too. I find that now when I do get a spot, the Luna helps to pop the head without causing trauma so I get minimal post-blemish scarring & everything heals up much faster. Overall I'd say it's definitely worth the investment. It's easy to use, easy to clean, easy to charge & it works wonders on the skin. What's not to love?!

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

May Favourites

Diamond Whites Black Edition 100% Natural Charcoal Tooth Polish
To distract attention away from the wonkiness of my teeth I try to keep them looking as white as possible. I normally use Crest White Strips but they can make your teeth feel quite sensitive. Loads of these charcoal tooth powders have been popping up all over Instagram lately & as I do like to use some natural products I decided to order a tub from Diamond Whites. It is made from 100% activated coconut shell charcoal and claims to remove stains from your teeth, strengthen your gums & absorb toxins from your mouth. You just dip your toothbrush head into the pot, brush your teeth with it & then rinse really well. It literally turns your teeth black & looks really weird when you're brushing them. I find that I have to follow it up with my regular mouthwash & toothpaste to get rid of all the black residue. It makes such a mess & will turn your sink black too but I do think it works. It makes my teeth look sparkly clean & they feel thoroughly polished afterwards. These charcoal tooth powders are mainly for removing stains rather than proper teeth whitening but if you drink a lot of tea or coffee, it'll probably work well for you too. Just don't expect it to work miracles on really yellow teeth.

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
The Ordinary's skincare products have fast become some of my all time favourites. The AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is truly the crème de la crème & as my skin loves chemical exfoliants this product is a dream come true. It can be difficult to find such high strength acids in the UK, the most you'll normally find is about 10% so this is a special product indeed. In the bottle this viscous red liquid looks like blood but on the face it turns into a raspberry pink which indicates where you have applied the product. It also stops you from being tempted to leave it on overnight which could cause a lot of damage. Used properly this peel does all the things that acids usually do but TO THE EXTREME. It brightens your complexion, unclogs pores & gives you the most baby soft skin of your life. It might even cleanse your soul! When I first started using it my face would experience some intense tingling but now I'm more accustomed to this acid strength I apply it twice a week without issue. I rarely use any other acid products now, this is literally all I need to maintain clear, smooth skin.

NYX Pro Foundation Mixer in White
I seem to have accumulated quite a few foundations that are too dark for my skin. A lot of the time I'll really like the formula but the brand don't offer a shade that's pale enough for me. Instead of chucking these products out I decided to pick up a white mixer from NYX. This product can lighten foundations without altering their consistency or coverage whatsoever. I really like the tube packaging as it makes it easy to dispense the exact amount of mixer you need. It's such a useful thing to have & allows me to alter the colour of a whole range of products. You can even use it on it's own as a super pale matte highlight. NYX also have five other Pro Foundation Mixers (Opal, Luminous, Olive, Warmth & Deep) so you can create a custom foundation that's especially tailored to your needs.

Too Faced x Kat Von D Better Together Bestselling Mascara & Liner Duo
Two products that you never stop hearing about in the beauty community are Too Faced's Better Than Sex Mascara & Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner in Trooper. These two powerhouse makeup brands recently teamed up to bring us the 'Better Together' collection & while most of it didn't appeal to me, I was very excited about this mascara & liner duo. For just £18 you get a mini version of each product so it's a great way to try something new without spending tons of money. I always think it's a good idea to pick up a miniature mascara whenever possible because then it won't expire before you've used it all. The Better Than Sex Mascara excels at giving your lashes both tons of length & volume. It holds a curl really well & gives you a beautiful wispy effect. I love how it spreads out my lashes & makes them look much fuller. It lasts all day without flaking or smudging & is easily one of the best mascaras I've ever tried. I've been using Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner for the past couple of years & in general it's very similar to the Kat Von D offering. They're both highly pigmented, last all day long & don't transfer to my upper eyelid. The main reason I now prefer the Tattoo Liner is the super fine nib. It allows the liner to glide on smoothly & creates a really sharp wing. It's absolutely perfect & I will definitely repurchase it in the future.

Makeup Revolution Ultra Eye Contour Light & Shade Palette
I've been wanting to buy Kat Von D's Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette for years now as it's pretty much the perfect collection of neutral matte eyeshadows. It's the kind of thing that everyone should have in their makeup stash as it's such a versatile product. However it had taken so long for Kat Von D's makeup range to be stocked in Debenhams that I kinda lost interest as I do already have several similar eyeshadows. A few months ago Kat made the mistake of blasting Makeup Revolution on Instagram for copying her palette, informing millions of beauty lovers that you could pick up a dupe of the Shade & Light Eye Palette for a mere £8. That price combined with Superdrug's 3 for 2 on all makeup offer meant that I couldn't resist buying it & I'm completely in love! Sure the shadows may be slightly chalkier & produce a lot of kickback compared to the Kat Von D palette but the colours are near identical & they blend out really nicely. I know some people take offence to makeup dupes but I'm all for it. This was the first Makeup Revolution product that I've tried & it certainly won't be the last.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Out Of The Ordinary

DECIEM's The Ordinary is no ordinary skincare brand. They have produced an affordable line of skincare products featuring highly effective yet typically overpriced ingredients. Their products are sold at the price they should be sold at which is incredibly refreshing to see in the skincare industry. This is partly thanks to their business model where they've reduced costs to the consumer by having minimalistic packaging & hardly any advertising. I'm a firm believer that good skincare shouldn't cost the earth. It's more important to be informed about ingredients & The Ordinary have made them more accessible than ever. I really wish they could've brought out this product range years ago as it would've saved me hundreds of pounds! They have single-handedly revolutionised the skincare industry & other brands should be worried that their customers are starting to realise they're being ripped off. When The Ordinary first launched last year I picked up five of their serums to try out. I was very careful to test each serum individually so that I could identify any reactions or breakouts & then remove that product from my routine. If you plan on buying any of these serums from The Ordinary I would highly suggest that you do the same.

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90 / 30ml)
I started off by testing out this serum as I have used many different formulas of Hyaluronic Acid & have never had a bad reaction to it. Hyaluronic Acid is something that I personally feel that everyone needs to include in their skincare routine. It can hold up to 1000 times it's weight in water which boosts the efficacy of any moisturiser that you put on afterwards. It's ideal for all skin types especially dry & dehydrated skin. The serum itself is a clear viscous liquid comprised of three weights of Hyaluronic Acid as well as a Hyaluronic Acid crosspolymer which provides intense hydration & visibly plumps up the skin. In terms of results I would liken this serum to the Sarah Chapman Intense Hydrating Booster. It feels slightly stickier when first applied but after smoothing on some moisturiser both products work in exactly the same way, making my skin soft, plump & well hydrated. The Ordinary's HA serum is literally 1/10th of the price of Sarah Chapman's offering so I know which one I'll be repurchasing!

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (£5 / 30ml)
I was very excited about trying this serum in particular as Zinc has worked wonders on my cystic acne & I've heard so many good things about Niacinamide. It can apparently help to reduce blemishes & clear congested skin but it also deals with redness & hyperpigmentation. You do have to be careful about when you apply it as it can interact with Vitamin C. I used it for a few nights & it made my skin look amazing. It was visibly clearer & brighter. Even my boyfriend commented that my skin looked really good & that never happens! However within that first week of use my cheeks had become full of closed comedones. I hadn't added any other new products to my routine or tried a new foundation so I knew it had to be this serum. I extracted them, stopped using the Niacinamide & my skin went back to normal. This is the exact reason why it's so important to make sure you test each serum individually. It's such a shame because the brightening effect was real & immediate but anything that gives me closed comedones is a huge no-no as they are the bane of my life.

Now I'm not entirely sure that it was the ingredient Niacinamide that I had a reaction to. I've used several products that contain Niacinamide without any problems before including La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo & Pixi Glow Mist. When The Ordinary first brought out this serum it contained an ingredient called Carrageenan which can potentially cause breakouts. It's something that I actively avoid in my diet as it can also cause stomach problems. It's a thickening agent found in things like Blue Diamond Almond Milk and unfortunately Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream! The serum has now been reformulated so that it doesn't contain Carrageenan so I'm tempted to buy a new bottle but it might just be that the 10% Niacinamide is a little too much for me. Hey, I'm just speculating here! As with all skincare products your mileage may vary so I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that love this serum.

TL;DR: It visibly brightened my skin but gave me closed comedones so I no longer use it.

Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% (£4.90 / 30ml)
A good Vitamin C serum is something that was definitely missing from my skincare routine. Vitamin C can be such a tricky ingredient to get right as it is very unstable & serums formulated with it tend to be astronomically expensive. So when The Ordinary announced that their Vitamin C serum would be made from L-Ascorbic Acid powder & completely stable due to the absence of water, I was all over it. When I purchased this product it came in a dropper bottle like most of their other serums but it could be quite difficult to dispense the liquid from the pipette. It also made a huge mess & ran all over the top of my bottle. They have since changed it to a tube which is a much better format for this product.

The serum is thick, white & creamy but the biggest downside to this product is the texture. No matter how much you shake it up prior to use, it will still feel very grainy. It almost feels like I'm scrubbing my face with a physical exfoliant. It also stings my skin a tiny bit and if I use too much product, it makes my hands & face smell weird no matter how many times I wash them! After applying my moisturiser, this serum does help my skin to feel super soft & smooth although it does look a bit on the greasy side. I did notice a brightening effect & it has helped to reduce my hyperpigmentation but I don't think I would repurchase this serum as it's just not cosmetically elegant enough & it's not very nice to use. I've since moved on to using the OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum & even though I have to store it in the fridge to keep it away from heat & light, I'm much happier with it.

Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% (£5.80 / 30ml)
Chemical exfoliants are my jam so of course I couldn't resist buying their 10% Lactic Acid. They also do a milder 5% version but as I'm well versed in the world of acids I knew my skin would respond better to the stronger formulation. This is another product with a strange scent, it literally smells like a glass of Pimms & that fragrance really lingers on the skin. It's a good job you use AHAs at night or people would think I'd been drinking at 9am! Apart from that little niggle, this serum works extremely well. It has greatly improved the texture of my skin by refining my pores & smoothing out any bumps. It gives my skin a radiant glow when I wake up & helps to fade post-blemish scarring. I think what makes this acid so good is the inclusion of Tasmanian Pepperberry extract. It helps to reduce any irritation that you normally get when using acids so I find that I can use this peel more often without compromising my skin barrier. I would definitely recommend picking this up or the 5% version if you're not yet accustomed to using AHAs.

Advanced Retinoid 2% (£8 / 30ml)
As I'm in my late 20s now, retinol is an ingredient that has become increasingly more important in my skincare routine. It works to combat not only fine lines & wrinkles but acne & sun damage too, boosting collagen production at the same time. It basically addresses all of my skin concerns in one go. Retinol can be pretty pricey so to find such an effective retinoid at such a low price is absolutely brilliant. This serum is a thin milky liquid that gets absorbed into the skin right away without any stickiness. The formula is really lovely as I didn't experience any dryness, peeling or irritation which are normally things you have to look out for when using retinoids. I've been using it for several months now & I am a huge fan of this product. I tend to alternate between using this & the Lactic Acid serum at night. I hardly get any blemishes now, my skin looks smooth & refined and I'm generally much more confident when it comes to baring my face without makeup. I can't recommend it enough! Be careful not to confuse this product with their Retinol 1%. This 2% serum might sound like the stronger product but it's a retinoid as opposed to pure retinol so it's a lot gentler on the skin & less likely to cause irritation.

Much like the Hyaluronic Acid serum, you could say that this product dupes the effects of another luxury skincare product. I'm talking about Sunday Riley's Luna Oil. Luna is a truly wonderful product but you have to admit that the price is ridiculous & to be honest I kinda regret paying it now. If only The Ordinary had brought out their Advanced Retinoid 2% sooner! I mean if the results were the same would you rather pay £85 for 30ml of product or a mere £8? It just goes to show how overpriced the beauty industry can be & that's why I love The Ordinary.

Overall I was very impressed with the items I picked up from The Ordinary. Not everything worked well for me but I got to try out five serums formulated with highly potent skincare ingredients for less than £30. I don't think there's any other company that offers clinical formulations at such a low price. I have since ordered five more serums from The Ordinary which I will be reviewing shortly as well as their new foundations so stay tuned for that!

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Monday, 1 May 2017

April Favourites

NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer in Chantilly
When it comes to base products, NARS are my current go-to brand. It mainly comes down to the fact that they really do cater for my exact skintone. I have never found a better foundation match than Siberia & I have never found a better concealer match than Chantilly. I've been a huge fan of their Radiant Creamy Concealer for quite some time now as it works beautifully as a 'no makeup' makeup product. NARS recently came out with their new Soft Matte Complete Concealer & I absolutely love it too. This concealer provides high coverage with a soft-focus blurring effect. It features a special powder complex which helps the concealer to stay in place without settling into fine lines or emphasising skin texture. I think it works a lot better on skin imperfections than it does under the eyes as it can look a little bit dry in that area. I really like to use this concealer on a MAC 242 brush to carve out my eyebrows & for creating a cut crease eye look.

Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Light
For the longest time I have heard nothing but praise for Kevyn Aucoin's Sculpting Powder in Medium as the ultimate contour product. However I was still never convinced that Medium would be a good shade for me personally. The same goes for those with deeper skintones. Last year they finally expanded the range to include two new shades, Light & Deep. I eagerly purchased the Light version of The Sculpting Powder & was blown away by how natural it looked on my skin. The colour is perfect, it's a cool toned matte brown which truly mimics the appearance of a shadow on the face. A little goes a long way as the powder is quite pigmented but it's also soft & finely milled making it very easy to blend out. I like to apply it with a Morphe M530 brush to carve out my cheekbones & jawline. I also use it with a Charlotte Tilbury Eye Blender Brush to contour my nose. I've never found a contour colour that looks as natural on the nose as this does. If you want a slimmer looking nose it's well worth it for that reason alone!

CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
CosRX are my favourite Korean skincare brand & in my opinion this cleanser is one of their best products. I use this cleanser twice a day, every day with a FOREO Luna Mini 2 & my skin has never been happier. When I started getting into Asian beauty products one thing that often came up was the importance of pH levels. I'm planning on writing a whole post about this subject but basically if a skincare product isn't formulated at the correct pH level, it can have a negative impact on your skin. This cleanser has a pH level of 5.5 which is optimal for cleaning the skin & reducing acne causing bacteria. By lowering the skin's natural pH level, BHA & AHA products will also work better afterwards so it's a win-win situation. The cleanser itself is a lightly foaming clear gel with a tea tree scent. It feels really gentle yet refreshing & doesn't strip my skin of moisture. Another good thing about this cleanser is that it's incredibly inexpensive (I paid £9 for it) & you get tons of product in the tube. I've been using it for an entire year now & only recently had to purchase a new one. It's a brilliant cleanser & a cornerstone of my skincare regimen.

Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow in Kitten Karma
I'm definitely not one to shy away from a bit of glitter. However I'm not really a fan of loose glitters as they can be quite messy & I get a bit paranoid about inadvertently blinding myself! I much prefer to buy products that already have glitter in them as they're infinitely more convenient. For example I love Illamasqua's Broken Gold eye gel & Urban Decay's Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliners. I recently saw these Stila Liquid Glitter Eyeshadows all over YouTube & instantly fell in love. I wanted to buy every single one but when I saw that they cost £23 each I almost fell off my chair. It took me forever to choose which one to get but seeing as Kitten is Stila's signature shade I decided to start off with this colour. This eyeshadow has a rose gold base with tiny gold & silver glitter particles. It looks absolutely stunning & has a glamourous high shine finish. The formula is amazing, it feels so light & smooth on the eyes with virtually no fallout. It's also very long lasting & doesn't crease at all. This is the best liquid eyeshadow I have ever used. I know I shouldn't but I really don't think I can resist buying a few more of these!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel
I have been using MAC's Clear Brow Gel for well over 10 years now but I fancied trying something new as I would often end up with two tails at the end of my eyebrows no matter how much I tried to gel them down. I'm obsessed with Anastasia brow products & rarely use anything other than their Dipbrow Pomade. Having heard so many amazing things about their Clear Brow Gel I decided to give it a go & promptly destashed the MAC version. This gel really does keep every single eyebrow hair in place without looking crispy or feeling crunchy. It's yet another wonderful brow product from Anastasia Beverly Hills & I won't be using anything else for a long time to come.

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