Monthly Favourites: February 2018

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Today is the last day in February and it’s snowing – can you believe it! I hope everyone is staying warm. I thought I would share my favourites of of month with all – I have some beauty picks and a couple of non-beauty picks too!

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Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Cathedral
During the cold winter months, the lipstick I’ve been reaching for the most has been Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Cathedral. For me it’s the perfect winter berry colour as I find it’s not very bold shade compared to most berry lip colours and suits my skin tone really nicely. The formulation is really nice too as it’s a satin-matte finish and I find it quite long lasting on the lips too. If you are looking for an everyday berry shade, I would recommend checking this out – plus the packaging is beautiful!

Glossier Invisible Shield – Sunscreen (SPF 30)
I’ve mentioned this before in my previous blog (linked here) when I shared my 2nd Glossier haul. And with using more acids in my beauty routine lately (find out more here), finding a good SPF was a must! I’ve used this every day since I brought it and not only do I love that it is protecting my skin, I also really like the texture of this gel formulation under my makeup as it almost works as a primer too.

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
When I was younger I suffered with severe acne leading me to do a course of Roaccutane when I was 17 years old. After 6 months my skin was clear from acne but ever since I’ve really struggled with scarring. When I get a dreaded spot on my face I can usually tackle it within a couple of days however the mark will tend to hang around for quite some time afterwards. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution is the only thing I have found that will reduce these marks overtime. I’m currently on my second bottle and found it really speeds up reducing any marks or discolouration.  This month, my skin has been particularly bad with breakouts and as my skin starts to calm down, I’ve used this religiously AM and PM. Finally my skin is looking clearer again!

Revlon Color Stay Foundation Norm/Dry Nude 200
As a beauty addict, I’ve tested a lot of foundations in my time but when my skin is being problematic and I need my makeup to stay in place all day, I always rely on Revlon Color Stay Foundation for Norm/Dry skin types. It’s an oldie but a goodie and with my skin playing up this month, this has been the only foundation I’ve been reaching for in February.

Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Body Cream
As my love for skincare acids grows, I wanted to see if there was any body-care products I could test. It however seems that the high-street beauty market hasn’t yet jumped on this bandwagon apart from Nip+Fab. I decided to try out their Glycolic Fix Body Cream – it contains, glycolic acid, salicylic and lactic acids to naturally exfoliate and make the skin look brighter and smoother. Throughout February I’ve used this every other day mainly focusing on my arms and legs (which tend to get most dry) and I have noticed my skin feeling soft and brighter. What I also love is that it soaks in really quickly too so I can quickly get dressed after my shower, unlike many other body moisturiser I’ve used previously which tends to leave my skin feeling a little greasy. Downside is it’s £9.99 for a 200ml bottle, and I’ve already nearly finished this bottle.

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Reading
One of my goals in 2018 was to read more books and so far I have read/listened to via Audible 5x books. And I have to say I’ve been loving taking some time for myself over the past couple of months to have some escapism with getting into a good book. My favourite for this month was definitely Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton which I reviewed recently HERE. I’m now reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman which I have been reading on my Kindle, and I cannot put it down. I’ve also really been loving my Kindle too – I know the feel of reading an actual book is way better than reading from a screen but it’s really handy to have when I’m commuting back and forth to London for work. I can honestly say my train journey home (it takes me over an hour every night!) feels like it takes 15mins as I’m so drawn into reading the story.

My Stojo cup
In a bid to try and be more environmentally friendly, I wanted to purchase a reusable coffee cup but I was concerned about how bulky a cup will be in my handbag all the time. It was when I was listening to Emma Gunns podcast and her #26habits (her challenge of trying to break and start a new habit every two weeks) and her first was trying to break the habit of not buying shop-bought coffees, she then mentioned about Stojo Cups. This coffee cup is designed to collapse into a more compact size which you can throw in your bag. It’s also made from recycled materials – so it’s a win, win! I will however warn you that coffee shop baristas haven’t seen many of these cups yet, and on a couple of occasions they have gone to push the lid onto the cup (rather than gently twisting the top on) and the coffee has gone everywhere due to the cup being squishy. My tip if you want to get one of these cups, only hand over the cup and keep the lid back to put on yourself.

What have been your favourites from the month of Feb? Also do you have any good book recommendations for me?

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First Impressions: The Ordinary

I’ve heard so many good things about The Ordinary! This brand is range by Deciem who currently have multiple brands under their umbrella including; Noid (their high end skincare offering), Hylamide (mid-range skincare) and The Ordinary (their budget skincare offering). The release of The Ordinary has really mixed up things in the beauty industry as it has lifted the lid on how much skincare ingredients really costs, offering very affordable products to its consumers. There has however been some quite bad press about the founder of Deciem – Brandon Truaxe recently which I will skim over and let you do your own research about, but in my defense I brought these products before this happened.  I had tried so many times to make an order online but often most products were out of stock, so when I stumbled across their counter in Harvey Nichols recently I headed straight over to make a few purchases.

Now, I am really not going to pretend that I am an expert on skincare acids. Everything I have learnt about acids has come from following beauty experts such as Caroline Hirons, Nadine Baggot and other beauty industry people. So before we get into my thoughts about these products, I want to take this opportunity to say  – any questions you may have or if you want to find out more, please head over to Caroline Hirons blog or youtube channel. I am simply just giving my initial impressions of The Ordinary products I’ve recently started trying.

Here’s what I picked up from The Ordinary:

Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane – £7.80
If you’ve heard about using acids in your skincare routine, you are bound to of heard of Retinol. Rentinol is a form of Vitamin A which helps skin renewal and enhances collagen production, helping with signs of ageing and blemishes (dark spots/sun damage). First thing I would say is if you are interested in trying a Rentoid product from The Ordinary – do your research! They offer a whole range of Retinol products all at different strengths and they tend to suggest starting off with a smaller percentage and working your way up. My advice is, if you can make it into their store or counters, do! The staff are very knowledgeable and give you personal advise on which product is right for you.

As I was still fairly new to using Retinol they suggested try the Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane. The Granactive Retinoid is a new formula to reduce any irritation when using this acid. I’ve used this now for two weeks and I noticed the effect of this treatment right from my first night of using it. To use this, you simply apply during your evening skincare routine on cleansed skin as a normal serum (but avoid using any other acids in conjunction with this), and due to the power of a Retinol acid, I only use this 2 or 3 times per week.  The first morning after using this, I noticed my complexion looked brighter and after continued use I am slowly seeing my acne scarring fade. I have experience small peeling when using this, but nothing major or cause of irritation, it simply makes my skin feel a tiny bit itchy the following day. I actually strangely like this though as it’s proof it’s working, but a dose of Hyaluronic acid the following day I’m right as rain again!

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – £5.90
Hyaluronic acid is the one acid I’m already quite familiar with from previously using the Hydraluron Moisture Serum from Indeed Labs. The main function of this ingredient is that it will hold water 1,000 times its weight meaning it gives your skin a boost hydration. The added B5 within the formulation ensure surface hydration.  I tend to use this up to 3x per week (in between my retinoid nights) in the evenings and when I wake up in the morning, my skin feels soft, glowy and plump. I have also used this during my morning routine as well, on those days when I can be travelling a lot (hopping on and off the tubes/trains) to give my skin some added protection in environments which will tend to dry my skin out, and it’s a real saviour. This will be one product I will definitely repurchasing and keeping on my bath shelf as my skin loves it. And with a great price tag of £5.90, I will happily buy a bottle of this every couple of months.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution – £6.30
My first impression of this was – scary! I had done a lot of research into this product so I knew exactly what to expect, but the red tone of this peel once applied over my face was still a little startling. Even when my husband read the word ‘peeling solution’ he thought I was crazy to apply it on my skin. I can promise you though, it’s not scary and I found it really works! This product is essentially a 5-10 min face mask which you can use once or twice a week to exfoliate. Rather than me causing any confusion into what this is or does, here is a clear explanation from the Cult Beauty website – Alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) exfoliate the skin’s topmost layer for a brighter, more even appearance, while beta hydroxyl acids (BHAs) exfoliate the skin more deeply to clear pore congestion. Combined in one unique solution, these advanced acids offer extraordinary exfoliation to help battle blemishes and boost radiance.

I’ve only used this twice so far, generally using only once a week to let my skin get used to it. Once I’ve double cleansed my skin in the evening, I apply this serum which is a slightly sticky consistency all over my skin (avoiding the eye area). I then leave this for 5-7 mins and during this time my skin does start to tingle but nothing painful. Rinsed from my face with lukewarm water, I follow up with a night moisturiser as it does leave my skin feeling very tight. Similar to the Retinoid, the following morning, my skin looks radiant and it tends to really speed up the process of getting rid of any blemishes.  

Coverage Foundation – £5.90
In the interest of trying a full selection of The Ordinary, I decided to also try out one of their foundations. I believe foundation is the only make-up item they offer, and currently they have two types – coverage foundation and serum foundation. There selection at Harvey Nichols was however limited as they were expecting a delivery but I ended up being matched with the Coverage Foundation in 1.2N. I’ve used this a couple of times now and there is nothing yet that wowed me. It feels fairly light-weight on the skin and I would say this is more of medium coverage which is buildable. When I’ve played with it a bit more, I will report back!

The one thing I do want to add here is with every acid product  you use, it’s extremely important to use a SPF the following day – I’m currently still loving the Glossier Invisible Shield. When using these products, your skin goes through a lot and can become sensitive and you therefore become more susceptible to sunburn. So if you are thinking of trying anything from The Ordinary, make sure you’re using sun protection – although you should be using one anyway!

Hope you found my thoughts useful. I’ve read so many reviews on The Ordinary products, so hopefully my two cents helped if you are thinking of trying anything. Have you tried anything from the Ordinary yet? Do you have any more recommendations for me?

REVIEW: Benefit BADgal BANG mascara

Unless you have been under a rock for the past few weeks, you will know Benefit has recently launched their new mascara – BADgal BANG mascara. It was very highly anticipated with Benefit spending millions on their marketing in the lead up and launch – taking bloggers to Maldives, hosting a massive launch party complete with Lisa Potter Dixon (head make-up artist for Benefit) in a space suit and countless amount of adverts and promotion all over social media. It claims to have massive volume without weighing down lashes, using a space technology which is ‘gravity-defying’. It is also said to lengthen lashes, give dramatic volume and instantly lift lashes, whilst also being smudge-proof and water-resistant.

All sounds amazing right?! And with the huge amount of marketing behind this launch, it was hard to ignore. I struggle a lot with my lashes as they are very straight and stubborn, so this mascara seem to be the answer to all my prays! So the next time I was in Boots, I headed straight over to the Benefit counter and picked it up. Feeling very smug as I used my Boots points to pay the £20.50 price tag, I couldn’t wait to try this out the follow morning…

MY VERDICT:

I have to say I was very disappointed! As I normally do every morning, I curled my eyelashes before applying Benefit’s BADgal BANG mascara. As I then applied it through my lashes the first thing that struck me was how wet the formula was. Applying as thin a layer as I could, I quickly saw my lashes fall from a beautiful curl to almost straight. Using my finger, I did try and push my lashes back into a lift as it dried but the formula was just too wet and heavy.

Once fully dry, although my lashes were not lifted they were thick and very black. They also didn’t feel heavy once dry which was frustrating. I think if you already have lovely lashes which do not need any help from eyelash curlers, this mascara could be perfect for you. If you have lashes like mine however, I would recommend to stay clear! I’m definitely going to stick to good old faithful L’Oreal False Lash Architect waterproof mascara, which you can see from the image above (excuse my goggly eyes!) it gives a much better lift to my lashes.

Have you tried Benefit’s BADgal BANG mascara yet? What were your thoughts?

REVIEW: Pixi Double Cleanse by Caroline Hirons

When it comes to the world of beauty products, skincare is my absolute favourite – if there is hype around a new cleanser or serum, I’m buying it! And when this hype item is by my favourite skincare blogger; the skincare queen, Caroline Hirons – I’m 100% sold! In partnership with Pixi, Caroline released – Double Cleanse Solid Cleansing Oil + Cleansing Cream back in January 2017.  If you’re a fan of Caroline Hirons, you will be all too familiar with the double cleanse process, but if you aren’t here’s what it’s all about. It is suggested to use two different cleansers – the first to remove make-up, often recommended to be oil based and the second to actually clean your skin and any traces left from your first cleanse. This cleanser brings both steps in one easy to use product – Step 1: Solid Cleansing Oil and Step 2: Cleansing Cream.

I’ve been a ‘double cleanser’ for a while now, often using two different brand of cleanser in my evening skincare routine, so the process of using this product wasn’t an issue for me at all. The first thing that really struck me was how much I loved the packaging with the ease of having everything you need in one sturdy plastic tub. It makes overnight stays and travelling a breeze as previously I’ve either had to carry two bottles of cleansers with me, or I’ve been lazy and not bothered doing a double cleanse. One thing I would mention however, is that you need to keep an eye on how much of each product you use each time to avoid using one side up quicker than the other. That being said though, the formula and quality of both cleansers means a small amount does go a long way.

The cleansers themselves are both really lovely to use. They are what I would describe as fuss free, without any frills e.g without any special acids, which makes sense as Caroline tends to add these ingredients into her routine via serums. It leaves my skin feeling really clean and calm. Sometimes with new cleansers, they will tend to leave my skin slightly irritated or red but I would say this products is great, even for the most sensitive skin types.

Overall, if you are looking for a new cleanser I would really recommend Pixi Double Cleanser. The price is pretty reasonable too, costing £24 especially as you are theoretically getting two products for this price tag. Each cleanser however is only 50ml, so it may not last as long as buying two separate cleansers. For me it has lasted just under 2 month with using it evenings only – so not bad at all.

Have you used Caroline Hiron’s Pixi Double Cleanser yet?

Skincare for your January bank-balance: Aldi Beauty?!

January is one hell of a long month isn’t it? You haven’t been paid since Christmas and trying to stretch out the last of your money on being able to eat, so buying any kind of beauty product goes way out of the window. Even if you are down to your last drop of cleanser, can you really afford £10 – £30 to replace your beloved bottle of skincare before February pay-day? Well I might of just found the answer to save your skin till the end of the month…

A couple of months ago I was doing a food shop in Aldi and I stumbled across their toiletries section. I then quickly noticed Aldi’s selection of skincare and vaguely remembered that their night-cream had some good reviews. Considering each product was relatively cheap, ranging from £1 to £7, I thought why not give it a go. At the time I picked up Lacura Renew Multi Intensive Serum (£3.49) and Lacura Caviar Illumination Night Cream (£6.99), and recently my friend also brought me the Lacura Hot Cloth Cleanser (£3.99).

Starting first with the Lacura Hot Cloth Cleanser, as I have only had this for a short time. My verdict currently, is that its ok. I couldn’t yet tell you for certain if this was a dupe for the famous Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser as I need to ideally keep using it for a while longer to see how my skin reacts – but as it stands it does the job when the pennies are a little short. I will do a full review soon when I have had a proper run of using it.

The Lacura Renew Multi Intensive Serum and Lacura Caviar Illumination Night Cream however, I’ve been testing over the past two months. These are both marketed as ‘anti-aging’ solutions, detailed on the box at a recommended age of 30 to 50 years old. Although I’m not quite 30 just yet (two more years to go!), I am interested in getting in early to reduce signs of aging – not that I really buy that any product will stop wrinkles altogether, nor do I really have a huge issue with getting wrinkles – it’s a fact of life! Anyway… The main reason I was keen to try them was to gain more moisture in my skincare routine (reason why in my prev. blog post here). And that’s exactly what they do!

When using the Lacura Caviar Illumination Night Cream, the texture is quite thick, none scented and applies nicely on the skin. In the morning, you can still almost feel it on your face and my complexion was noticeably brighter and more plump looking. Just what you need from a night cream in my books! The Lacura Renew Multi Intensive Serum also gives a similar effect. I use this only in the mornings as an extra boost of moisture underneath my normal moisturizer and it gives my face a really nice glow which I can notice even after I apply my foundation.

I am also really impressed by the packaging! The night cream comes in a gorgeous blue jar similar to those creams which have a £200+ price tag attached, and it also looks very nice on my nightstand. The Lacura Renew Multi Intensive Serum comes in a sturdy glass bottle with a pump dispenser and is 50ml which is really good compared to most other serums on the market which usually come in 30ml sizes.

Overall, its a big thumbs up from me on Aldi Beauty products! So if you are looking to save a little money on your skincare routine, I would definitely recommend giving the Aldi Lacura products a go.

Heard of Beauty Pie yet?

Have you heard of Beauty Pie before? I had heard the odd thing over the past year or so, but nothing outstanding to go and investigate for myself. My colleague then had a Beauty Pie parcel turn up at the office and she said it was definitely worth checking out.

If you haven’t heard of Beauty Pie before, it’s basically a beauty buyer’s club. It works by customers signing up to be members and paying £10 per month. This then allows you to access to buying luxury beauty products – both makeup and skincare at transparent factory costs, saving up to 85% on all products. Sound a little strange…? I thought so too so here is an example from Beauty Pie’s website:

Quite an unusual model, but in the days of beauty boxes (Birchbox, Glossy Box, etc) beauty consumers are more familiar with being a subscriber in order to get their hands of the latest beauty products – so I think this is a great idea from Beauty Pie. They are guaranteeing their income from subscribers membership fees whilst offering their consumers the very best products at factory prices – just without the high end branding and luxury, heavy packaging. With each product on the website they go into great detail on how the item it priced. Here is how they manage to sell a nail polish at £2.09:

So a pretty great concept, I think you would agree? Intrigued on how good these products really were I signed up, but rather then committing to spending £10 a month on repeat, I brought myself a three month membership for £30 to ensure I am not spending £10 every single month without the feeling I had to buy beauty products every month – although let’s face it, I do that already!

Membership brought, I explored the website for what to try out. With the membership you are given a limit of £112 you can spend (RRP). I wanted to first try the range of make-up so I tried select one type of each product –

  • Pro-Glow Face Sculpting Palette – £32 / £5.71
  • Wondercolour Nail Polish (Black Cherry Bomb)  – £14 / £1.81
  • Futurelipstick Matte (To the Beet) – £20 / £2.30
  • 123 Lips Match Set inc. lipstick, lip-liner and lipgloss (Nude) – £54 / 7.19
  • Fantasticolour Eye Crayon (A Rich Bronze) – £18 / £3.03

TOTAL = £138 / £20.04 (saving £117.96!!)

SWATCHES: Pro-Glow Sculpting Palette

SWATCHES (left to right): Lipstick in Too the Beet, next three swatches is 123 Lips Match Set in Nude and heart is Eye Crayon in A Rich Bronze

My Verdict:

Well first impression because I haven’t a huge amount of time to play around with everything and properly test out every product, but what I can say is that I am really impressed with the quality of the products. Apart from the packaging, these honestly could past for products on high-end make-up counters. What I have been really enjoy straight away is the lipsticks, these are really nice to apply on the lips and not to drying either. The main reason I decided to purchase the 123 Lips Match Set is because I wanted to try out a range of products from Beauty Pie. All the products (lipstick, liner and gloss) are all really nice and I am still in shock that these set is only £7.19!

As I mentioned earlier, I brought a three month membership so next month I will be exploring the skincare range because I heard some pretty great things about their products – often being great dupes for the high-end skincare currently on the market! If theses products are worth the hype, I might be invested in a 12 month membership… but I will keep you posted on my thoughts.

Have you tried anything from Beauty Pie yet? Is there anything you would recommend trying?

Glossier brought me back!

There is nothing like a highly anticipated beauty launch in the UK to inspire me to pick up the blogging strings again. There hasn’t been a range I’ve been really excited about in a long time, which along with other life commitments has also been the reason I haven’t blogged in a very long while!

Glossier launched in the UK on 9th October 2017 and everyone is talking about it. I’ve been a fan of Into The Gloss since forever and when Emily Weiss launch her beauty range back in 2014, us Brits were tortured with all the US bloggers raving about it. Like many of you, I watched Anna’s (from the Anna Edit) New York haul running through all the beauty products she loved, and I was there making a mental shopping list in my head. As soon as 9th October rolled around, I made my order!

I wanted to try a range of the Glossier products so I opted for some skincare and make-up. First of all, I picked up the Glossier Phase 1 Set (£35) inc. Milky Jelly Cleanser, Priming Moistuzer and Balm Dotcom, which worked out saving £8. In the make-up department I opted for trying the famous Cloud Paint in Dusk (£15) and Haloscope in Quartz (£18).

My Verdict:

Starting with the skincare, the standout product for me in the Glossier Phase 1 Set is definiety the Milky Jelly Cleanser. It’s fuss-free, gentle on my skin and leave my face feeling really soft. It’s not heavy enough for me for an evening cleanse – I tend to use Oskia Cleansing Gel , but this is perfect to add to your morning skincare routine. The Priming Moistuzer is good, but personally I could do with something a little moisturizing in this colder weather. This would be perfect for me in the summer though when I tend to get a little more oiler. I do also really like the packaging of this, the squeezey tube will mean you can get every last drop out. And the Balm Dot.com is my another of my favourite purchase of my order. Not only is it a great lip balm, but it smells amazing – just like birthday cake (I’m a big fan of the sweet scents!). It worth saying the birthday flavour does look a little glittery on first sight but it doesn’t really translate on the lips.

The Cloud Paint and Haloscope are both products I knew I would love before I even purchased them. The Cloud Paint is a creamy blush which can be worn lightly or built up, and Haloscope is Glossier’s highlight product. I’m a big fan of a cream face product to ensure a more glowy look. I would add though that both of there products are better applied with fingers rather than with any makeup brushes, as it gives more of a natural look. Out of the two I do like the Cloud Paint best and I’m interested in getting my hands on my shades. It’s looks natural on your cheeks which is long lasting throughout the day.

Have you tried anything from the Glossier range yet? If so, is there anything you would recommend trying next?