Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Lush Rub Rub Rub Review

I have to admit, I'm kind of starting to warm to Lush slowly. I'd only tried a couple of bath bombs in my early teens and then refused to enter another Lush store due to the overwhelming scent battles going on in there. I also didn't really fancy washing myself with a colourful block of something or brushing my teeth with powder or whatever other weird stuff was going on in there.
But, I thought I'd give them another chance and I have to say that so far I haven't been disappointed.

Rub Rub Rub is a body scrub made with sea salt and lemon juice. In isolation outside the shop the scent is actually rather gorgeous. Nothing for anybody with a sensitive nose who'd prefer an unscented product, of course, as it is fairly strong. Even though I usually prefer fruity and sweet smells, I really like the freshness of this. It literally does smell like seaside and lemons.

The packaging unfortunately isn't ideal. Nothing against the design - it's very typically Lush with the black tub and the white blackboard writing. The problem is that it leaks. The lid doesn't screw on properly, so every time it falls over you'll have a seasalt-lemony mess on your hands. Even when I kept it upright I could notice little smear marks going down the side where some product had leaked through. That's definitely something to sort out!

In the shower it does provide a lovely scrubbing sensation, though I'd criticise that the salt melts away a little too quickly, so you've got to either use loads, or only use tiny amounts at a time. Personally, I do like a rough body scrub, but if you prefer something gentle, then the melting of the salt crystals is actually a positive.
As it also contains some oils it will leave your skin moisturised and those who don't suffer dry body skin like I do can easily get away with skipping the body lotion afterwards. Having said that, it does not leave an oily film on your skin like some other scrubs do (not that I mind that, anyway).
Even though it's a vegan product, so mostly free of nasties, it does contain some SLS which means that it foams a little bit on application. Personally, I could have easily done without the foaming and without the sulphates, but that's just my opinion I guess.

Overall, a very nice product with a heavenly smell, though I'd mark it down on packaging and I could do with the crystals not melting so quickly. But it has helped me overcome my Lush-phobia and maybe I'll even try another one of their body scrubs once this pot is used up!

Rub Rub Rub Shower Scrub is available online or in Lush stores. It retails at £7.95 for a 330g pot.

Monday, 27 August 2012

A game of make believe (competition entry)

Hi guys, something a little different today, as this post doubles up as a competition entry for MakeBelieve Beauty.

I don't often write fiction. Even though I enjoy it thoroughly, I tend to go off-track and forget what I was actually trying to say through it. This one's a little bit different, as I thought it would be a great opportunity to try to explain how I see the connection of beauty and confidence. So many people criticise women who are interested in beauty, calling them shallow or accusing them of hiding behind a mask of fakeness. I hope this little story kind of explains how I stand on the issue.

I glanced at my watch nervously, as the scenery was whizzing past behind the window. Fields, straight roads, the odd house or two. I was still more than half an hour away from my train stop and I blushed when I realised that I’d only checked the time a minute and a half ago. I put on my headphones and decided to calm my fluttering nerves with some uplifting music, but as soon as I pressed play, a slow, heart-wrenching ballad came on.
Oh no, this really wasn’t what I needed right now. I sighed. If listening to a sad song turned me into a nervous mess, then how on earth was I to convince a complete stranger to give me a job at the company of my dreams?
I took a deep breath, skipped to another song and began rustling in my handbag for a hand mirror to make sure my make-up was still in place. The reflection was not what I’d expected. Just a few days ago I’d allowed myself to indulge in some treatments I’d never had before. My hair was cut into a sharp, angled bob, I had extensions on my eye lashes, perfectly manicured finger nails and my skin was glowing in a warm shade of gold. I couldn’t help but giggle. That’s right, I’d used self tan. Me! Of all people! I’d been terrified of fake tan all my life! All this was meant to turn me into a new person, but my confidence was still at rock bottom. It was nothing but a facade, a childish game of make believe.
That’s when it hit me. What if I do play a game of make believe? What if, just for the purpose of this interview, I pretend to be this glamorous, groomed woman that just oozes confidence and makes a room light up without even having to try? Without even knowing it, I was smiling. Yeah, let’s do this. I had nothing to lose, after all.

Two hours later I was sat on the train again, shoulders back, head up high. My skin was glowing, but it was not because of my skin care routine, or the self tanner. It wasn’t even because of those two litres of water I drank every day. Just seconds ago I’d received a message on my phone offering me the job. It was only then that I realised I didn’t need any beauty treatments to turn me into a different person. All they did was bring out what was already inside. As it turned out, I hadn’t been playing make believe at all.

I hope you enjoyed this little deviation from the regular reviews, wish lists and favourites - even though it's back to regular blogging business tomorrow! ;)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Instagram Sunday #01

After months of wanting I finally got myself an iPhone (bye bye Blackberry, you tried...) and one of the first things I downloaded was obviously Instagram. So here's what I've been snapping away at this week.

1) Finally went to see Brave // 2) Late night magazines and doughnuts // 3) 1kg burger - shared it with my boyfriend, but still failed // 4) In the car again, that means feet on the dashboard // 5) Hello beautiful, welcome to my life // 6) Minion! Hurry up, Despicable Me 2!! // 7) Second Papa Johns of my life. Fed me for 2 days and was deliciousssss // 8) Leighton Denny nail polish in Babydoll // 9) Someone ate all my Maltesers! :( // 10) Pink glitter unicorns!!! Gotta love Paperchase

If you'd like to follow me on Instagram my username is beautifulsmudges!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Astor Big & Beautiful Play It Big Mascara Review

This is one of the last products I picked up while still in Germany. Astor is a fairly big company over there, with ad campaigns starring Germany's favourite export Heidi Klum, but I never really heard anybody talk about it. So when I needed a new mascara, I thought what better occasion to give it a whirl myself!

The Big & Beautiful Play It Big Mascara is an extension mascara, which aims to give you fuller and (most importantly) longer looking lashes. I'm all for length and separation when it comes to my mascaras, so I thought this one would be perfect for me. What I didn't know, however, was that they meant "lash extension" in a quite literal way - the product is full of little hairs which are supposed to stick to your own lashes!
Not knowing that I got quite a shock when I looked at the mascara brush covered in hairs and thought all my lashes had come out!

Apart from the bewildering hairs on the mascara brush (which you can't quite see in the picutre, as it was taken when the mascara was brand new), the wand is actually fairly easy to handle despite its club like shape. It grips my top lashes extremely well, but can become a little hard to handle on bottom lashes where it requires an extremely stable hand.

Astor Big & Beautiful Play It Big Mascara Before

Astor Big & Beautiful Play It Big Mascara After
Does it work? Well, you can judge for yourselves with the before and after pictures. I did find that the little hair fibres left slightly odd looking little clumps on my lashes, which you can see a little bit on the right side of the after picture. I found my lashes to be more defined, but not necessarily any more elongated than from other mascaras.

Having said that, it lasted well throughout the day with minor flaking after a couple of hours. I was a little bit worried that the little lash extensions would come off during the day and irritate my eyes, but had no such trouble whatsoever, even whilst wearing contact lenses.

Overall it performed fairly well for a mid-range mascara, though it didn't blow me away and the extension concept didn't quite convince me, either.
It retails at 7,49€ and is available in drugstores and supermarkets in Germany.

Have you ever tried a fiber extension mascara?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Post-review disappointments

... or in other words: Things that turned out to be kind of rubbish right after I'd already reviewed them. Normally I try to wait until I'm about halfway through a product until I review it to get a really good feel for its performance. However, there are two beauty products that have turned out.. erm, to be of inferior quality, once I was about three quarters through them and I feel that I should let you know about them in a separate post. I'm all for owning up to your mistakes and putting them right, y'know.

First up: ELF HD Powder

You can find the review here. This was the first powder I ever reviewed, as before that powder was just... powder - nothing exciting to write about. But this was just such an amazing product that I had to share it with everyone. And it really was amazing until I got about three quarters through it.
It could be that I just had an odd one, but the problem with this powder was that it wasn't milled to the same strength throughout. That meant that on top laid the fine dust that I loved, but once I got through most of it, the bottom contained big chunky lumps of powder. And yes: Crystallised bits of white powder on your face is never a good look, unless you're trying to look like a druggie.
So the top 75% of this HD powder turned out to be fantastic, but unfortunately the bottom 25% failed miserably. Something to keep in mind if you're looking to buy one of these from a blog sale!

Second One: Got2B Rockin It Dry Shampoo

Here's the link to the review, but if you haven't read it then this is a short summary: A fairly decent product with very ugly packaging at a reasonable price. But again, this only applies to the first three quarters. Not too long after writing up my review I suddenly had wet stuff coming out of the can - no idea what it was, but surely there shouldn't be anything wet in dry shampoo.
What it did was the exact opposite of what dry shampoo is supposed to do: Rather than give me a nice fresh feeling and mop up excess oil it just made it look even greasier! On top of that it had the same problem as the HD powder: Chunky bits of powder. So imagine the finished look: Greasy hair with white dandruffy bits of powder all over it in an instant! Yum!

It's a shame this happened, as both were actually really good products that were let down by their inconsistency. Basically you only get three quarters of what you pay for as the rest is just not usable at all. I just hope this isn't going to happen with anything else I use!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Kryolan Satin Powder Review

I don't even remember how long I've wanted to write this review for! Life has a tendency to throw lots of unexpected things at you just when you're beginning to figure out which direction it might take you. On top of that I've had no internet at home and on my phone for the past week, which was an incredibly painful experience! Anyway, enough of the whinging and on to the review!

I got this little pot of eye shadow in one of my German Glossyboxes and it was one of the products I got really excited about. I'd never normally buy a loose eye shadow due to my tendency to - errr, make mess appear.... - so I'm incredibly glad that I received this in my box. After all, that's what beauty boxes are all about: Pushing you out of your comfort zone and making you discover new products you love but would've never picked up for yourself.
I was also really intrigued by the brand, as I'd only heard of them, but never seen a stand or tried them myself. As Kryolan is a professional make-up brand used in theatre and television my hopes were very high to begin with.

The packaging I'm quite content with - it's not ultraglamorous or particularly pretty, but you wouldn't expect that from a backstage make-up brand anyway. It's light, however, and very functional. As long as you make sure that the lid is on properly before packing it away it won't spill or transfer anyway. The little hole in the lid is also the right size to get out the perfect amount of product for each eye. Even my clumsy self has managed to avoid powdery disasters with this.

Kryolan Satin Powder SP555 swatch in daylight
Kryolan Satin Powder SP555 swatch with flash
The shade I received is called SP555 - not a particularly creative or exciting name, which only confirms that this brand is all about product performance.
The colour itself is actually quite tricky to describe. I think I'd settle for rose-gold with peachy undertones. Again, something I would have never picked up for myself, as the rosy undertones are very much noticeable and I would have been afraid of it making my eyes look red and swollen. To my surprise, this wasn't the case at all. The golden shimmer really made my blue eyes pop, but I feel that due to the peachy as well as pink undertones it would be equally (if not even more) flattering on green and brown eyes.

I used a Sigma E70 brush to apply this and found it worked absolutely perfectly. As with any loose product there was a bit of fallout, but I was surprised at how little of it dropped down. The pigmentation is absolutely stunning and unfortunately the above pictures don't quite convey how beautifully shimmery this eye shadow is - not in a terrible teenage-glitter-overload way, just really fascinating to look at.

It didn't disappoint when it comes to lasting power, either. Without a primer it stayed on my eye lids for about eight hours, though the shimmer began to disappear after about four hours and judging from my stinging and burning eyes it must have disintegrated into my eye balls. So I'd definitely recommend wearing it with a primer: Even after 14 hours, when I had to take my make-up off because I was going to bed, it was still going strong without any shimmer in my eye disasters.

It's a bit of a shame that Kryolan is so hard to get hold of in the UK, seeing as I'm back here now and completely fell in love with this product. When I was working in Cologne there was actually a whole Kryolan shop I passed once and now I really regret not going in! I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Satin Powders and if I get a chance I'm pretty sure I'll pick up some more. Just make sure to wear with a primer to avoid burning eyes.

You can however get it from a website called Dauphines for £5.80.