Tuesday 29 October 2013

Organic Surge First Class Face Mask

Organic Surge First Class Face Mask* - £8.49

It's rare that you'll find a dual-purpose face mask that actually delivers on both of it's promises. However Organic Surge's First Class face mask manages to give pores a deep cleanse whilst also rehydrating the skin. I often find that clay masks can leave my face feeling tight & dry. This one never sets on the skin so it's not sucking out all the good moisture, just the excess oils & grime. One of the key ingredients is sweet almond oil which is brilliant at moisturising the skin without re-clogging pores. Chamomile and marshmallow are the detoxifying ingredients here rather than acids so this is a nice natural alternative to hardcore chemical skincare products. It doesn't really make too much difference to active breakouts but they do feel slightly calmer & less inflamed. Instead I find that it minimises pores, reduces blackheads and evens out my skintone by reducing any redness present. The result is brighter, healthier looking skin that feels hydrated & incredibly soft. I simply smooth it on with a foundation brush, leave it on for 15 minutes and it easily rinses off without much effort. It's so gentle on the skin & there's no fear of antagonising your skin further by having to scrub off a dried on mask.

This thick white creamy mask is infused with organic rosemary & lemon essential oils so it has a light zingy fragrance that is very refreshing & uplifting. It's great for when both your skin and your mind need a boost. My mum always goes on about rosemary being good for memory & relieving stress so aromatherapy-wise, this is a great choice. It features a plethora of other natural oils which are suitable for sensitive skin. I know a lot of people love the Origins Drink Up range for hydration but their Intensive Overnight Mask has sometimes broken me out. I've had no such problems with the First Class face mask because it is working to detox the skin at the same time. Like all Organic Surge products, this mask is free from parabens, mineral oil, SLS and other harsh chemicals. I do struggle to find good skincare on a budget but Organic Surge's products are always so affordable. I love how much calmer & healthier this makes my skin look. If your skin type normally stops you from using detox masks then this more hydrating offering could work wonders for you. It's a lovely treat for skin affected by the Winter weather too.

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Sunday 27 October 2013

NSpa Bloom Eau De Toilette

NSpa Bloom Eau De Toilette* - £8

We all know NSpa for their wonderful bath toiletries, then they launched a surprisingly good skincare range and now they've dipped their feet into the world of perfume. Considering how gorgeous the rest of their products smell, it was only a matter of time. They recently brought out three new fragrances: Pure (a fresh scent), Orient (an oriental scent) and Bloom (a floral scent). I'm firmly a floral kinda gal so they kindly sent me a bottle of Bloom. This fragrance features notes of rose, jasmine & tuberose as well as being infused with essential oil of vetiver. The result is a fairly sweet & sophisticated combination that would be hard to peg as a budget buy. I actually really like this & have been using it a lot lately. Bloom is intended to be a dupe for Escada Especially Escada EDP. I've never actually tried that one before but it must be a good'un if it smells anything like Bloom. If you consider that a 50ml bottle of Bloom costs a whole £38 less than a 50ml bottle of the Escada perfume, it's well worth trying.

In general I try to buy EDPs whenever I can afford to because they tend to last a lot longer on the skin. These are only eau de toilettes yet the scent manages to linger for a good portion of the day, I would estimate it to be around four hours. The scent isn't overpowering at all so the staying power is impressive. These products are so cheap that they're great for just keeping in your handbag for a quick refresh when you need it. The NSpa fragrances cost £8 each or you can currently get them on offer - 2 for £10. NSpa products are always a nice treat when you're doing the weekly shop. Plus with the upcoming Christmas season these would make fantastic stocking fillers or secret santa gifts. You can purchase NSpa products from Asda both online & instore.

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Saturday 26 October 2013

Bleach London Parma Violets Hair Update

Bleach London Super Cool Colours Parma Violets - £5

A lot of people have been asking me how my hair looks now it's faded a bit so I'd thought I would post a little hair update for you all. Incase you missed it, two weeks ago I ruined my hair by dyeing it with one of Bleach London's Super Cool Colours in the shade Parma Violets. You can see how the original results looked in this post. Basically I was annoyed because it looked incredibly dark, patchy and had loads of random blue bits instead of being a pastel lilac colour as Bleach had claimed. If you Google the London blogger event they held you can see pictures of their wall of dyed hair samples. Parma Violets looks completely different to the results I had. I figured it was a problem with the dye and turns out I was right. A few days later Bleach recalled Parma Violets and removed it from the shelves of Boots. I don't know if they ever released this information publicly or not but they got in contact with some of us who had complained about the product. Here is the information they sent to me via Twitter:

"We are sorry you have experienced problems using Parma Violets, this product has received similar feedback from other customers so we are removing it from stores to investigate an improvement in the colour formulation and its fading effects. Parma Violets is a mixture of blue, red and orange - Blue is the dominant colour so it stays longer on the hair, as the red/orange washes out faster, this is dependant on the different conditions of the hair. You can try and strip the dye with Washing Out Liquid or any other strong shampoo - Meanwhile if you are looking to get your hair back to purple you could mix I Saw Red and Out of the Blue, or Rose and Blullini for paler colours. A pink based colour will neutralise the green. If you wish to take your complaint any further this needs to be taken up with Boots Customer Care, the phone number is 0845 0708090 and the email is boots.customercare@boots.co.uk. You can also go in to any store and get a refund on this product, or exchange for the other colours, perhaps one we have suggested above. I hope this helps, let me know if we can help any further."

Luckily I had kept both the bottle & the receipt so I went straight back to Boots & got my 500 Boots points back, no problem. However this still doesn't fix my hair so I am tempted to make a formal complaint to Boots. I think I'll see if it will go on it's own first though. After four washes my hair has now faded to a sky blue colour. There's not a single purple tone left in my hair. It has turned my ends quite silvery which is pretty cool. I would've washed it more but I don't want to completely ruin the condition of it. I want this out of my hair as quickly as possible so I've been washing my hair with Vosene as recommended by Carlyn. It's a medicated anti-dandruff shampoo containing salicylic acid that really strips the hair. I think it has helped to fade my hair but it has left my hair feeling rather dry even after using some deep conditioning treatments. I really need to get my roots done soon but the blue needs to go first. Otherwise my hairdressers are blates gonna bleach bath the rest of my hair & that's the last thing it needs! None of the colours my hair has been since dyeing it with Parma Violets were bad but they definitely were not lilac and that's the problem. If you still have a bottle of this laying around then you should take it back to Boots immediately for a full refund. Even if you have used some of it or have lost the receipt you'll still be able to at least get an exchange. Obviously this only applies to this first batch & if you're reading this post in a few months time, they will have probably fixed it by then. None of the other Bleach London products are affected by this recall & as far as I know there are no problems with the other dyes. It's just my luck that I chose the dodgy dye!

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Saturday 19 October 2013

Dare To Bare For Breast Cancer Care

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women during their lives and many of us will know someone who has had it. That statistic is truly upsetting. Breast Cancer Care are a charity who provide information and support to anyone who has been affected by breast cancer. They provide vital face-to-face support and have a free, confidential helpline run by nurses & trained staff with experience of breast cancer. They also have an online forum where you can chat to others affected by the disease. Back in 2010 I spent a few nights on a women's cancer ward when I had an ovary removed so I saw first hand how much those women were suffering. I think it's incredibly important to donate to such a great cause. Your support can make so much difference.

Escentual.com have joined forces with Breast Cancer Care to launch #DareToBare - their campaign to get women to be sponsored to go to work with no makeup on. The campaign runs throughout October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and women can be sponsored to go without makeup for a day, a week or even the whole month, with all proceeds going towards women suffering from breast cancer. You can join their JustGiving Dare To Bare team here. I know how difficult it can be to leave the house without makeup on if you have less than perfect skin. If you don't feel up to the challenge you can still support #DareToBare by tweeting a makeup-less selfie. For every selfie shared, Escentual.com will add an extra £1 to the donation total. Just remember to include @Escentualdotcom, @BCCare and #DareToBare in your tweet. If 1000 people were to do that, it'd be an extra £1000 donated to Breast Cancer Care so get tweeting your selfies now! You can see how your donations help here.

For the duration of the campaign, Escentual.com will also be donating 10% of sales to Breast Cancer Care on 5 pink skincare products. The products are: Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water, Nuxe Gentle Toning Lotion With Rose Petals, Vichy Idealia Life Serum, Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S Morning Eye Rescue and Vichy Idealia Smoothing & Illuminating Cream. I think this is such a brilliant cause so I urge you all to get involved somehow. For more information about #DareToBare check out the campaign page on Escentual.com.

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Monday 14 October 2013


Dress - F&F* / Tights - F&F* / Backpack - F&F* / Boots - Topshop / Floral Crown - Crown & Glory
Necklace - Kukee / Bracelet - Black Tied / Rings - Topshop, The Bohemian Collective, Kukee, Regal Rose
Nails - eBay & Barry M 115 Red Black* / Lipstick - Illamasqua Magnetism*

Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year and god knows I do have some gothy dressing tendencies. So when F&F Clothing asked me to take part in their Glamourween competition, I jumped at the chance. The clothes at Tesco are surprisingly good quality and I have often bought clothes for myself & Chloe from there. Fifteen bloggers have been asked to create an 'urban witch' look. We were all given a voucher to buy some F&F clothing and a little black cauldron full of sweeties & beauty goodies.

When you think of witches you probably associate them with the pointy hatted, green & warty look that many sport at Halloween. However for my look I took inspiration from some of my favourite onscreen witches. I have a mild obsession with the awesome 90's film The Craft. Nancy Downs was such a badass crazy witch so I decided to dress how she would today if she hadn't ended up in an insane asylum. I'm also loving the outfits on American Horror Story: Coven. I love Jessica Lange and her character seems really interesting. She looked so chic in her little black peplum dress with the umbrella when she took the girls on their field trip.

I thought this F&F dress was especially witchy with it's classic shift shape, floaty sleeves and collar. I've been after a cool little leather backpack for ages and this one is perfect. It looks really nice for something that's not real leather & has lots of room inside. I paired it with my good old Topshop boots which I've always thought of as a bit witchy and my black Whole Lotta Rosie floral crown from Crown & Glory. My accidental purple & blue hair definitely adds to the look, so maybe it was a good thing?! I've also wanted to have some pointy nails ever since Rihanna had pointy lilac nails in her What's My Name video. I finally bought some off eBay and they're definitely more trouble than they're worth. I've had to take them off to type this or I would still be writing this next week! No witch outfit would be complete without a pentagram necklace. I got mine from Kukee and I think it looks cute peeking through the cut out detail in the dress. Anyway I hope you like my 'Glamourween' look! I can't wait to see all the other entries.

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Sunday 13 October 2013

Bleach London Super Cool Colours Parma Violets

Bleach London Super Cool Colours Parma Violets - £5

In the words of Gob Bluth 'I've made a huge mistake'. I have been seriously excited about the launch of the Bleach London hair dyes for weeks. They finally came out on Tuesday and I made a beeline for Boots to pick up a few bottles. I ended up with Rose, Awkward Peach, Washed Out Mermaid and Parma Violets. After much deliberation I decided I fancied going lilac first. So I blobbed out some Parma Violets into my mixing bowl and got on with applying it this morning. What an error. I followed the instructions exactly: shampoo and towel dry hair, apply dye and massage into hair, leave on for 15 minutes and wash out with lukewarm water. But as you can see I don't have lilac hair. I now have a patchy blue and purple mess. My hair is bleached to the extreme & the colour is very even. Therefore my hair should've been ideal for these dyes. I even sectioned out my hair and used a dye brush to apply it evenly so I can only guess it's down to the quality of the dye. When I normally dye my hair pastel colours, I mix in some conditioner to dilute the dye. However this dye is supposed to come out as a pastel colour without adding any conditioner. Obvs not true. I was expecting this kind of colour from the shade Bruised Violet but not this supposed lilac shade. The colour itself isn't completely horrendous, just a bit patchy & not at all what I was expecting. I don't think patchy dye is necessarily a problem when you're using pastel colours but because this is so bright, it doesn't look right. It actually looks pretty nice in these photos but it's much worse in real life, trust me. The only good thing about this dye is how soft it makes my hair feel.

These dyes are completely overrated. I fell for the hype because Bleach London are such a well established hair salon (although I have heard they actually use crappy old Crazy Colour in there). These dyes are supposed to wash out in 2-10 washes but I have a feeling some staining will be involved. Hopefully it'll look better when it fades a bit. Bleach also make a Washing Out Liquid to help the colour fade faster but I've heard some people on Twitter saying it hasn't worked for them & they had to give their hair a bleach bath instead. It might just be Parma Violets that's a bit rubbish but it's still disappointing when I had such high hopes for these dyes. If this purple ever washes out I'll be testing the other colours I bought but otherwise I'll be sticking to Directions from now on. You can see how my hair looked when I used Directions to dye my hair lilac here. If you do still want to try these, either do a patch test or dilute them out first. Don't make the same mistake as me.

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Saturday 12 October 2013

Estelle & Thild Lily Detox Mask

Estelle & Thild Lily Detox Mask* - £35

If your skin is blighted by large pores then this product is definitely for you. Estelle & Thild is an organic skincare brand from Sweden. The founder, Pernilla Rönnberg, was inspired to develop a natural skincare & body brand because she wanted to create products that were pure enough for her two daughters to use. Estelle & Thild have produced four skincare ranges suitable for various skin types and two body lines. The Lily products are suitable for all skin types and aim to detox the skin whilst adding radiance. This Lily Detox Mask claims to give you dewy fresh skin with finer pores. I love organic skincare products because they really work for my skin and they tend to only feature ingredients that are necessary. Estelle & Thild's products are sourced from the finest quality botanical, organically grown ingredients. That means you're not feeding your skin with parabens, mineral oil, SLS or any other harsh chemicals - only the good stuff!

The mask itself is a thick yellow cream made from natural bentonite clay. It doesn't set or dry on your face like a lot of other clay masks do but it still manages to draw out impurities incredibly well. One of my favourite clay masks is the REN Invisible Pores mask because as it dries you can see the gunk from your pores being absorbed. Even though this Estelle & Thild mask doesn't have that cool visual effect I actually think that it manages to minimise pores a whole lot better. The areas on my face that are most affected by large pores are my chin and around my nose. After using this mask I can barely see the ones around my nose and my chin feels incredibly smooth. It almost makes my pores look like I've just used a silicone primer which is pretty amazing! One of the ingredients in this mask is lactic acid which is something my skin apparently loves. My current cleanser also features lactic acid and it works wonders on blemishes. Concealing blemishes can sometimes be tricky because they are 3D so even the most industrial concealer can't flatten out the bumps. If you have big spots under the skin or inflammation from trying to do your own extractions then this Detox Mask really helps to smooth everything out. I use this mask with a foundation brush to ensure an even application and minimise product wastage. It can be used once or twice a week and you only have to leave it on for 5 minutes. Perfect for when you need good skin, pronto!

I really like how clean & fresh this makes my skin feel. Although it definitely refines my pores better than any other face mask I've tried, it doesn't really live up to it's claim of delivering dewy skin. Infact I think it does quite the opposite. This product leaves my skin looking fairly matte and it absorbs a lot of oil from my T-Zone. It still makes my skin feel soft because it contains things like olive oil & vitamin E but it does a great job of balancing out oil too. In my opinion this mask is a must-have for anyone with oily skin or enlarged pores. Estelle & Thild products are available from the Urban Retreat Beautique.

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Friday 4 October 2013

HealGel Eye

HealGel Eye* - £32

The original HealGel was an aqueous gel designed to treat a whole host of skin problems such as post-operative scarring, keloid scars, blemishes, sunburn, bruising and even eczema & psoriasis. It was produced by a team of leading British plastic and cosmetic surgeons who wanted to create the ultimate skincare product that would be truly effective on all skin types. They have since relaunched the original product as HealGel Intensive and added a couple of extra items to their line. For the last couple of months I've been trying out HealGel Eye. This is 'an advanced corrective formula designed to condition & lift the delicate eye area'. As a mum to a young child I often sport the zombified look and over the past few years my dark circles have only become worse. I'm willing to try out anything that can make me look a little less knackered and I had high hopes for this product, considering it was created by such a well respected group of professionals.

First off, I love the packaging. The redesign of HealGel's products was produced by Pentagram, one of my favourite design studios, and features some beautiful typography. I also love that the bottle comes with a pump, making it really hygienic. As you can see on my finger, just one full pump produces a whole lotta product. Less than half a pump is more than enough for both eyes. This product is ideal for use both in the morning and at night. You simply pat it on gently and wait for it to absorb. Upon application it feels very soothing, cooling and refreshing - everything you could hope for when you've not had enough sleep. It reduces puffiness, softens the skin and adds an overall perkiness to my eyes. It worked really nicely during the Summer too when my eyes were constantly irritated from hayfever. The formula is really gentle. Even when I apply it close to my lash line it doesn't irritate my eyes at all. Many other eye products I've tried in the past often made my eyes water & sting so it's fantastic that HealGel Eye doesn't have the same effect. I really like the texture of this product. It feels quite watery but it absorbs well without leaving any stickiness. In general I prefer gel eye products because I find them to actually be more hydrating than their cream counterparts. This one is especially hydrating because it contains a duel action hyaluronic acid complex which locks moisture deep within the skin.

In terms of results I have to admit I've only seen a slight difference to the darkness of my under eye area. Hopefully that will come with further usage & maybe a bit more sleep. I have however noticed that there is considerably less discolouration there and this gel has reduced the overall sallowness underneath my eyes. I think it's probably due to the inclusion of arnica in the ingredients. I can always rely on that stuff to clear up any bruises so I guess it works the same on your face! This means that I haven't needed to use colour correcting concealers as much, saving a step in my makeup routine. Another bonus makeup wise is that my concealer applies much smoother on top of it. HealGel Eye helps to smooth out that whole area as well as firming it up so there's less fine lines for concealer to collect in. Brilliant stuff! The price might seem a bit high but I always think it's important to invest in skincare. This is especially true when it comes to your eyes which are often the first place you will notice signs of ageing. Even though I've been using this twice a day for quite a while now, hardly any product has disappeared from the bottle. This will last for months & months which is something I'm sure my tired peepers will be happy about.

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Tuesday 1 October 2013

September Favourites

Korres Pomegranate Lip Butter
I posted some swatches of this yesterday so hopefully you can see why I'm so enamoured with this luscious lip butter. It's such a lovely neutral pink shade with total 'my lips but better' potential. These lip balms are so hydrating and feel amazing on the lips. They're just perfect for the Autumn/Winter seasons. Full review here.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15
I love thick silicone-based primers for their ability to smooth over the skin and hide pores. But I started to find that they would drag and pill in combination with certain foundations. So they were making my base look slightly patchy rather than flawless. I decided to bite the bullet and shell out for this much loved but incredibly expensive primer and I'm so glad I did. It really is fantastic and is easily the best primer I've ever tried. It gives your makeup some serious staying power as well as minimising pores, smoothing the skin and adding a nice luminescence to your face. Full review here.

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
In the height of my SPF-free foundation madness I splashed out £34.50 on Giorgio Armani's Luminous Silk Foundation. I loved the coverage and glow it brings to the skin. It really is a gorgeous foundation and perfect for nights out. But as someone who likes to apply their makeup in the morning and then can't be bothered with touching up throughout the day, it just didn't last long enough on my skin. It always ended up going a bit patchy around my nose and forehead no matter which primer I used. So I kinda gave up on it and it had been sitting untouched on my table for months. Then I purchased the amazing Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer and everything I disliked about the Armani foundation had been completely rectified. Of course, the primer kinda negates the whole no SPF thing but now that I use chemical exfoliants on my skin everyday, I do need constant sun protection. Anyway I think they're a perfect team and it's nice that I can actually use this rather pricey foundation again! (Ancient) full review here.

Benefit They're Real Mascara
I bought this a few months ago when my beloved Lancome Doll Eyes mascara finally dried up. I think it has to be one of the most hyped up mascaras ever so I had really big expectations of it. At first I wasn't too keen on it. This mascara certainly lengthens but it was lacking the volume that I crave. It definitely improves as the product dries up a bit but it still was never my first choice when it came to applying my mascara in the morning. However I think it looks really stunning when wearing false lashes. I always pop on another coat of mascara after applying false eyelashes to blend them in a bit more and this one really delivers some beautiful black voluminous lashes. So the name 'They're Real' might not be entirely true anymore but in combination with some nice falsies, this mascara is a dream.

La Roche-Posay Redermic R
My skincare routine, diet adjustments and supplementing must be working because I've not had a single new spot for almost a month now! Probably jinxed myself now though eh? But that's pretty amazing for someone who was getting at least one cropping up every day. My chin was the last place to clear up but it has been helped tremendously by this retinol cream. It has helped to heal up active breakouts, gotten rid of my cystic acne and has worked really well on my skin's personal nemesis - closed comedones. I prefer this over other spot treatments because it works so fantastically on scarring too. It also leaves my skin soft & smooth so if you have sensitive skin this is a great option for a retinol product. Full review here.

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