Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Superfood Bakery Raw Bliss Balls

Superfood Bakery Raw Bliss Balls* - £6.99

I love baking sweet treats at home but I also like to watch what I'm eating. Places like Pinterest are full of healthy baking recipes where cakes, brownies, bars & balls are made up with all sorts of expensive superfoods. Buying separate bags of things like chia seeds, cacao nibs, lucuma, maca & baobab powders can really add up. I've dabbled in making my own protein bars before & have personally spent loads of money on these kinda things. I didn't even like half of them! FYI cacao nibs are the devil & people who say they taste nice in porridge are liars. Superfood Bakery have made things much simpler with their affordable & easy healthy baking mixes. They have created a range of products that not only taste good but help you to feel good about yourself. I won this bag of their Raw Bliss Balls mix in an Instagram giveaway & I really liked the idea of their company. I'm lazy & often reach for boxes of Betty Crocker instead of making my own cakes from scratch so it's great that I can now do the same with healthier snacks too.

The Raw Bliss Balls are packed full of healthy ingredients to give you lots of energy. They're ideal to eat after a workout or as a mid-afternoon snack. They're also incredibly easy to make. In the bag you get a mix of desiccated coconut, milled flaxseed, organic gluten-free oats, ground almonds, raw cacao powder, chia seeds, organic puffed amaranth, cinnamon, vanilla powder & baobab powder. Then all you have to do is add some kind of syrup, coconut oil & water. I used Vita Coco Coconut Oil* & The Groovy Food Company Agave Nectar. I just wanted to try the basic recipe first but you could add all sorts of stuff to make them extra special or boost the protein content. Things like nut butters or dates would work really well in the mixture. All you have to do is mix everything together & roll it into balls before popping them in the fridge. You can also dust them in cacao powder or roll them in some more desiccated coconut to further enhance the flavours.

Once chilled, the balls are ready to eat! You can keep them in the fridge for up to 10 days or in the freezer for 3 months so you can always have healthy snacks in your kitchen. Each mix makes about 15 balls so the cost per ball is actually very reasonable & they're a lot more affordable than picking up similar ready-made offerings from Bounce or Deliciously Ella in the supermarket. The flavour is a blend of chocolate & coconut. You can obviously tell that they're healthy snacks but they still taste delicious & they're a lot of fun to make! Superfood Bakery also make cookie & pancake mixes so I can't wait to try them out. Ocado recently started stocking their products so you can now order a pack along with your weekly shop. Do you prefer baking healthy or indulgent treats?

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

August Favourites

Dermasuri Rice Milk Brightening Face Exfoliator
My mum knows all about my addiction to trying out new exfoliating products & she kindly bought me a couple of Dermasuri products for my birthday. This gommage style gel gently creates rolls when massaged onto damp skin. These rolls lift away dead skin cells, polishing the skin & leaving it feeling baby soft. It's a very similar product to the Ginvera Green Tea Exfoliating Marvel Gel but it uses rice milk as the key ingredient instead of green tea. Rice milk has been used for centuries in Japan. The enzymes in rice milk have brightening properties & it's a beauty secret of the Geisha to keep their skin smooth underneath their heavy makeup. This exfoliator also features hyaluronic acid & vitamin E to keep the skin hydrated & nourished. The gel is so gentle on the skin but it still manages to remove all those dead skin cells. It's fascinating to see & rolling them off your face is incredibly satisfying! If you want to move away from using face scrubs but your skin is too sensitive for acids then this would be a brilliant alternative.

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
After testing out a million different actives from The Ordinary I decided to buy a few more of their hydrating products. I really like Trilogy's Rosehip Oil but the cost has increased quite a bit over the past few years. The Ordinary's Rose Hip Seed Oil is about half the price & yet it manages to do exactly the same thing. Funny that! Rosehip oil is truly wonderful stuff. This lightweight facial oil is rich in linoleic acid, linolenic acid & provitamin A. Like most oils it helps to moisturise the skin but it is especially good for those with acne-prone or oily skin types. I use it underneath my moisturiser at night & it really helps to combat scarring, fine lines & blemishes. It brightens & evens out my complexion whilst keeping it well hydrated. It can also be used to treat stretch marks & wrinkles. I'd definitely recommend picking up a bottle of this oil, it's yet another triumph for The Ordinary.

NYX Total Control Drop Foundation in Pale
Despite being a huge fan of NYX Cosmetics, I'd never actually tried any of their foundations before. I started seeing so many people using this foundation on YouTube & the whole custom coverage thing really intrigued me. The consistency of this foundation is very thin & watery but the coverage can be built up as you continue to add more drops to your face. It's very buildable & blends like a dream, giving my skin a flawless finish. I ordered this online so I didn't get the chance to swatch it first & the shade Pale is actually a bit too light for me! The colour might not be quite right but it has a really nice pale yellow undertone much like NARS Siberia. I was previously using NYX's Pro Foundation Mixer in White to lighten up any foundations that were too dark for me but I now prefer to mix in a bit of the Total Control Drop Foundation. It lightens, adds more coverage & corrects the undertone so it's perfect for creating a custom foundation that I love.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk
I seldom buy traditional lipstick bullets anymore but I will always make an exception for Charlotte Tilbury. Her Lip Cheat lip liner in Pillow Talk is one of my favourite lip products of all time. It goes well with so many lipstick colours & also looks gorgeous worn on it's own. When I heard that she was turning the shade into one of her Matte Revolution lipsticks I knew I had to get my hands on it. This medium nude pink is the ultimate MLBB everyday lip colour. It matches the colour of my lips exactly making it easy to fake a fuller pout. I love the Matte Revolution formula which is matte but not flat; lightweight & hydrating. I don't find the lipstick to be as long lasting as the lip liner but the two products pair together beautifully. They're a must-have duo for anyone who likes nude pinks.

Bluebird Tea Co. Earl Grey Crème Solid Perfume
I am still obsessed with Bluebird Tea Co's delicious tea blends. In fact I have a whole kitchen cupboard filled with their tea bags & loose leaf teas! Earl Grey Crème is one of my absolute favourites & I repurchase it constantly. Their award-winning blend of classic Earl Grey tea with creamy vanilla is truly delightful & I love to indulge in a cup of this to get me through the mid-afternoon slump. When I placed my most recent order I noticed that they had started selling solid perfumes inspired by some of their most popular teas. I simply had to add the Earl Grey Crème one to my shopping cart! Although it doesn't actually smell like tea, the solid perfume is still beautifully fragranced. The scent has been influenced by the tea, rather than being a exact replica of it's aroma. The blend of vanilla & citrusy bergamot is wonderfully fresh & zingy. It's packed full of natural essential oils, balms & butters and was created in collaboration with Flowery Whiff. It feels quite moisturising & lasts a really long time on the skin. Basically if you like zesty citrus scents, you'll love this solid perfume!

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colours

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colours in Pink Bliss, Blush, Pink Blink, Rose And Shine, Pitch Black
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colours* - £5.99

As someone who can never be bothered to reapply makeup throughout the day, I am a huge fan of matte liquid lipsticks. I recently received some of these new Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colours from Rimmel & I couldn't wait to put them to the test. Rimmel have dabbled with liquid lipstick formulas before with their intensely glossy Provocalips & their demi-matte Apocalips Lip Velvets. Although I liked both of those ranges, neither were exactly what I was looking for in a liquid lipstick. I prefer a fully matte finish & as these lip colours are part of Rimmel's iconic Stay Matte range, I had high hopes for them. There are 15 different colours available & I received five of them. I was really impressed with the shade range as it can be difficult to find neutral pink shades in a liquid lipstick formula. It's also good to see crazy colours like black, blue & grey from a drugstore brand. If only these had come out when I was a teenage goth!

The overall quality of these lipsticks is superb, I'd say they're actually on par with my beloved Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipsticks. They have a lightweight, mousse-y texture that glides onto the lips so smoothly. The lipsticks dry down quickly & once set they are completely transfer-proof. They last such long time on my lips & don't smear or smudge at all. I find that I can mostly eat & drink like normal with them on, they only fade a bit from the centre of my lips if I eat a big meal. The formula is comfortable to wear & doesn't dry out my lips. The flattened paddle wands make for easy application. The only real downside to these lipsticks is that some of the colours can be quite streaky. It's not a problem with the pink shades as you can build them up but the darker colours need a bit of finessing. Another thing I wanted to mention is that they have a slightly weird scent, it kinda reminds me of a bonfire. The smell goes away as soon as the lipstick has dried so it's not a big deal but it still struck me as slightly odd. Anyway here are my swatches of the five Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colours that I received...

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Bliss
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Bliss
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Bliss
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Bliss

Pink Bliss is a punchy nude pink with a hint of coral. I was surprised by how bright this looks on my skin tone but I actually really like it. It's a fresh & uplifting colour that also brightens my mood.

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Blush
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Blush
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Blush
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Blush

Blush is a soft rosy pink colour. I'm always drawn to colours like this when buying regular lipsticks & it's nice to finally own it in a liquid lipstick formula. I think this colour looks really nice on my skin tone & I find myself reaching for it a lot as an everyday pretty pink shade.

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Blink
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Blink
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Blink
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pink Blink

Pink Blink is definitely my favourite colour! This is almost a MLBB shade on me. It's a warm toned dusky terracotta pink & I think it suits me really well. I tend to go for true pinks like Blush so I probably wouldn't have bought this one on my own but I actually love it so much! Out of all five lipsticks, I've worn this one most often. It looks fab with a warm eyeshadow look & I love to pair it with my Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lip liner for some extra dimension.

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Rose And Shine
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Rose And Shine
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Rose And Shine
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Rose & Shine

Rose & Shine is a deep rosy pink shade. I don't normally go for pinks like this anymore but Rose & Shine is fairly muted which makes it a lot more wearable as an everyday lipstick. It certainly looks better on me than I thought it would! The colour is very bold & I feel like it would work well on many different skin tones.

Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pitch Black
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pitch Black
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pitch Black
Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Pitch Black

I really love that black lipstick is so easy to find on the UK high street now but I can't help but be slightly disappointed in this colour. When I first got this in the post, the fluffy part of the applicator wand had actually fallen off! I originally swatched it with a lip brush but then Rimmel very kindly sent me another one. Unfortunately I think the swatches I did on Instagram with the lip brush actually came out better. Pitch Black is terribly patchy & hard to build up to full coverage. It took about three coats to get it to look like this & that obviously didn't feel great on my lips. If you're looking for a super pigmented black liquid lipstick, I'd highly recommend getting Jeffree Star's Weirdo instead.

Overall I think that these matte liquid lipsticks are a fantastic new product from Rimmel. They come in a range of bold, vibrant colours, they're easy to apply & they're incredibly long lasting. The pinks are truly gorgeous & I find myself reaching for them all the time. The black wasn't up to par with the rest of them but don't let that put you off the other colours. The formula is brilliant & they only cost £5.99 each! These are easily the best drugstore matte liquid lipsticks I've tried & I'll definitely be buying a few more for myself. Which is your favourite colour from this collection?

I received these products free from Influenster for testing purposes.

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

Friday, 25 August 2017

More Skincare From The Ordinary

The number one skincare brand that I love to talk about with other people has to be The Ordinary. I'm a huge fan of their products & the simplicity of their highly potent formulas. Their low prices have helped to make high end skincare ingredients accessible to the masses & thanks to them, my once bank-breaking skincare routine is now a lot more affordable. I previously reviewed five other serums from The Ordinary & was so impressed with what I had bought that I ordered five more. If you're not particularly well versed in the world of skincare I think that their products can be slightly confusing as they don't really give you an extensive breakdown of what each ingredient does & which skin issues they can be used to treat. That's why I love sharing my own experiences with their products as they have some truly wonderful formulations in their lineup & I would hate for people to miss out on something that could help them!

Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% (£5.50 / 30ml)
Azelaic Acid is a naturally occurring acid that comes from grains & is also produced by yeast living on healthy skin. It is primarily used to treat rosacea as it has anti-inflammatory & antibacterial properties. It also helps to stop pores from clogging & can be used as an acne treatment. Until I tried this product I had personally never heard of Azelaic Acid before but that might be because I don't suffer from rosacea. However I do experience a lot of surface redness in my skin so I wanted to see if it would help with that. The Azelaic Acid Suspension 10% comes in a lightweight cream-gel formula that absorbs quickly & gives your skin a velvet matte finish. I used it every other night before my moisturiser. This product is designed to brighten the skin and like most of the acids I'm used to, it helps with uneven skin tone, dullness & bumpy texture. I found that it helped to calm any irritation in my skin, shrank my pores, smoothed over textured areas & cleared blemishes so I can definitely vouch for it as an effective acne solution. The biggest difference that I noticed when using this product was the reduction in redness. It made my skin look so much clearer simply because it wasn't as red anymore. I feel like Azelaic Acid would be a much better choice as a chemical exfoliant than Glycolic or Lactic Acid for those with reactive or sensitive skin. It does all the things you want an AHA to do but without any of the redness or irritation that's involved.

Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA (£7 / 30ml)
In my first review of The Ordinary's products I wrote about my experience with their Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. I bought it to help brighten up my skin & reduce hyperpigmentation but the unpleasant gritty texture stopped me from using it. Alpha Arbutin has a similar lightening effect so I decided to try this out instead. It's related to the controversial skin lightening ingredient hydroquinone but has been shown to safely brighten skin without irritation. It helps to inhibit melanin production which prevents further scarring & also works on existing dark spots to give the appearance of clearer skin. Even when my skin is completely blemish free it never looks fully clear because I have a ton of freckles, moles & acne scarring. I started using this serum twice a day in the hopes of tackling these issues & I'm very pleased with the results so far. It feels very light, silky & hydrating on the skin. Sometimes it makes my face look slightly flushed but I haven't experienced any other skin irritation from using this product. I think that your opinion of this serum will depend on what kind of hyperpigmentation you're experiencing. It seems to be most effective on melasma, sun spots, post-blemish scarring & uneven skin tones. It has helped to brighten up my complexion, even out my skin tone & clear up an annoying sun spot. My freckles are also less prominent which is fantastic in my opinion. Sadly it hasn't done much for my moles but I doubt anything other than a laser will fix them!

Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG (£5.80 / 30ml)
Eye skincare products can be such a tricky thing to review. They tend to be a preventative measure, aimed at reducing crows feet & wrinkles when we're older. By the time you've got these fine lines it's probably too late for anything topical to work on them! We're always told that we should be using an eye cream but without getting any visible results I find it hard to remember to use one regularly. The opposite is true about this Caffeine Solution. I love using this lightweight serum because it feels really nice under my eyes & the results are so worth it. Caffeine helps to brighten & tighten the undereye area. It reduces inflammation & temporarily constricts blood vessels which immediately reduces puffiness. EGCG stands for Epigallocatechin Gallatyl Glucoside. This is the name of a compound found in green tea leaves & like most things to do with green tea, it's packed full of antioxidants. Both of these ingredients have been scientifically proven to help reduce the appearance of dark circles & puffiness in the eye contour area. It really does work & is especially good for treating puffiness first thing in the morning. After using it for a few months I do think that my dark circles are less noticeable. The area looks brighter and feels tighter & smoother. However it won't work on puffiness due to fatty deposits or dark circles due to hollowness so that's something to bear in mind. One welcome side effect I've noticed from using this serum is that it also helps with milia & by tightening up the area, these tiny dots under the eyes look much smoother. My concealer also sits better under my eyes now & I don't need to use as much of it as a result.

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (£3.80 / 15ml)
Salicylic Acid is one of the best spot fighting ingredients out there. It exfoliates inside your pores so it helps to eliminate blemishes from the very root of the problem. It also reduces excess sebum production which is often a cause of acne. In terms of results this serum works really well. It heals up my spots quickly & is especially good at stopping painful ones from hurting. This product has also been formulated with witch hazel which helps to soothe the skin & encourage healing. I wouldn't use it as an all over chemical exfoliant like the BHAs from Paula's Choice or CosRX, this is definitely more of an individual spot treatment. This is mainly down to the consistency of the product. It has a watery gel texture & foams up as you rub it in to your skin so it's not the most pleasant thing to use. Once applied it feels slightly tacky but it soon dries down & is undetectable on the skin after applying moisturiser. It's a decent spot treatment but I'm not totally in love with it. Probably because my heart belongs to the next product...

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (£6.30 / 30ml)
I've saved the best for last. This intense skin peel has fast become not just one of my favourite products from The Ordinary but one of my favourite skincare products of all time! It is quite simply amazing. Formulated with a blend of Glycolic, Lactic, Tartaric, Citric & Salicylic Acids, this chemical peel is extremely potent. Do not buy this unless you've been using other acids for a while! You should also avoid it if you have sensitive skin. 32% is pretty hardcore & even I was slightly worried about the effects it might have on my skin. I've been treating my skin with acids for five years now but 10% is the highest percentage I'd ever used. When you use acids at lower percentages you can use them every day or every other day with no ill effects. This peel should only be used once or twice a week maximum.

The AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is designed to deeply exfoliate the skin. It clears congested pores as well as active blemishes. The formula also helps to refine skin texture & improve skin radiance. You just apply this peel with a fan brush or your fingers to clean, dry skin. Then you simply leave it on for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with lukewarm water. It's really easy to use & there's no need for a post-peel neutraliser. Just finish off your skin routine like normal with a hydrating serum or oil & a good dose of moisturiser. When this bottle first arrived in the post I thought it looked like a vial of blood. The deep raspberry colour comes from the inclusion of Tasmanian pepperberry & black carrot extract. These ingredients are full of antioxidants & have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Their healing properties help your skin to cope with the intensity of this peel. The colour is also important for a couple of other reasons. It allows you to clearly see where you have applied the peel to your skin so that you can wash it off thoroughly & it deters people from using it as a leave on treatment.

Since I started using this peel I no longer need to use any other chemical exfoliants on my skin. It literally does it all! My complexion looks so bright & even now. It works wonders on post-blemish scarring, minimises pores & makes my skin feel super smooth. I've had textural issues with closed comedones on my forehead for years & after a few months of using this peel every week, they've finally nearly gone! I will say one thing though - as with any chemical exfoliant, be prepared for purging. The first couple of times I used it my skin looked fab, then all of a sudden I started breaking out. For a while I wasn't sure if it was a purge or a breakout. The spots only appeared on my forehead & my chin which tend to be my most congested areas, they were small & turned into whiteheads which then cleared up pretty quickly. These are classic signs of a purge so I realised that it would be okay in the end & after getting through it, my skin looks better than ever. If you have dull skin, persistent blemishes or textural irregularities like me, I really can't recommend this product enough!

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Image Skincare I Masks

There's no better way to give your skin an instant boost than with a good sheet mask! These wonderful Korean inventions just seem to keep getting more & more popular with different skincare brands coming out with new ones all the time. We're spoilt for choice these days & with so many masks to try, a lot of people I know have started sheet masking daily. I mainly use masks that are made out of fabric or pulp as they tend to be more affordable so I was very excited to try out these new I Masks from Image Skincare. These super luxurious hydrogel masks were designed by a plastic surgeon & have been made by thickening essence into a gel format. There are two masks available in the range - the Biomolecular Hydrating Recovery Mask & the Biomolecular Anti-Aging Radiance Mask. They're definitely an upgrade from your regular sheet masks & this is reflected in the price. Both masks cost £9 each & although they are on the pricey side for a single-use sheet mask, their unique hydrogel technology is well worth trying.

The masks are designed to trap moisture which increases the delivery of active ingredients into the skin, allowing them to penetrate deeper. The amount of beneficial ingredients packed into these masks is really quite remarkable. They've been infused with water from real Japanese hot springs as well as Jeju volcanic oxygen water for intense hydration like you've never experienced before. In fact tests have shown that these I Masks provide the skin with a 40% increase in moisture 30 minutes after removal of the sheet mask. With that in mind I couldn't wait to treat my skin with these luxury hydrating sheet masks!

The first mask I tried was the Biomolecular Hydrating Recovery Mask*. I briefly mentioned the insane amount of goodness that this mask provides. I don't think I've ever come across a sheet mask with such an extensive list of skin-friendly ingredients before! It features all sorts of botanicals, peptides & antioxidants for the ultimate skin rejuvenation. Some key ingredients include: niacinamide, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, resveratrol, ginseng, witch hazel, chamomile extract, green tea extract, arginine, squalane & allantoin. The majority of these have brightening, hydrating or anti-inflammatory effects. This ultra-hydrating sheet mask is suitable for all skin types but would be particularly good for those with dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin. It's also targeted towards people who get clinical skin treatments or chemical peels as they can leave your skin feeling a bit parched. I've grown very fond of The Ordinary's AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution lately so I figured the best time to try this mask out would be directly after doing my weekly at-home skin peel.

When I took the mask out of the pack it was dripping with essence. It feels quite slippy & can be fiddly to unfold as the gel sticks together. You have to drape the gel side of the mask over your face before peeling off & discarding the fabric side. The fit isn't perfect but it's very rare to find a sheet mask that completely fits every part of your face. I had to slide up the mouth area quite a bit to make it fully comfortable but once applied it stays put & you can walk around without it sliding off. I always prefer to have a little lie down when I'm sheet masking though. The mask has a bit of a herbal scent & the high levels of hyaluronic acid makes the texture of the essence feel slightly sticky. It feels very cooling & refreshing on the skin. This feeling continues long after taking the mask off. You're supposed to leave this mask on for about 25 minutes & then gently massage any remaining essence into the skin once you've discarded the gel sheet. I always follow up my sheet masks with some moisturiser to really lock in all that hydration. I was very impressed with the results. My skin looked really plumped up & lifted. It felt incredibly well hydrated & this mask was a fantastic way of getting some moisture back into my skin after such an intense treatment.

As much as I enjoyed using the other mask, my favourite of the two has to be the Biomolecular Anti-Aging Radiance Mask*. Alongside all the wonderful moisturising benefits of the Biomolecular Hydrating Recovery Mask, this sheet mask also gives your skin a beautiful radiant glow. The essence of this mask has a much silkier texture & I found that it smells a lot nicer than the other one. It has a light sweet floral scent that kinda reminded me of Turkish Delight. Again this mask is suitable for all skin types but is specially designed to tackle the signs of ageing such as fine lines & wrinkles. It also targets dull, tired looking skin with hyperpigmentation or an uneven complexion. Some of the key ingredients in this mask are: willow bark extract, white mulberry root bark extract, daisy flower extract, licorice root extract, niacinamide, ginseng, allantoin, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, arbutin, arginine, squalane & hexapeptide-8. Many of these ingredients are also featured in the Hydrating Mask but the Radiance Mask has a lot more brightening ingredients & things that help with redness or pigmentation.

The application process is exactly the same as the other one but after taking this mask off I was completely amazed by the difference in my skin. It positively glowed! My complexion looked incredibly bright & even with hardly any redness. The Radiance Mask really helps to calm down your skin & would be perfect to use before a special event. I personally found the plumping effect to be even more noticeable with this mask. My skin looked so hydrated that even the appearance of texture was diminished. It was left feeling so bouncy, smooth & supple, I just wanted to touch my face all day! I didn't notice a huge difference in the appearance of my post-blemish scarring but that might be something that comes with continued usage. I'd definitely recommend this one if you have a dull or uneven complexion. You can see a huge difference after just one use & I'm a big fan of what it's done for my skin.

I really love the effect that these masks have on my skin, especially the Biomolecular Anti-Aging Radiance Mask. I like to use sheet masks quite often, at least three times a week, so I don't know if I would be willing to spend £9 per mask. If the price is something that also concerns you, here's a quick life pro tip for getting the most out of your sheet masks! Most masks can only be used once but if you feel the sachet, there should be tons of leftover essence still inside. Simply decant the excess liquid into a small pot (I got this one in a travel set from Primark for £1) & you can continue to use the essence in your everyday skincare routine. It'll only last a few days but that's better than just using the mask once. That way you can get a better impression of the mask's effects & reap the benefits of a sheet mask long after you've chucked it in the bin. It also makes the cost of these particular masks a lot more reasonable!

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

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.

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

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!

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

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?

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'

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.

twitter / tumblr / youtube / instagram / bloglovin'