Thursday, 31 January 2013

Monthly Favourites: January 13

I haven't been very good with posting monthly favourites so far - mainly because I just don't get through enough products to think of any month after month! But I will try to be better about it this year, as I've found loads of fantastic products just from reading these posts on other people's blogs and I hope I can do the same for you!

1) Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette

I have to admit I was a bit weary about the hype surrounding both the Naked Palettes. In all honesty, how good can a bunch of brown eye shadows be? However, I found myself talking about it so much, that eventually I got it as a present (wooooo!) and even though it was no revelation of awesomeness at first, I realised that I've put pretty much all of my other eye shadows aside and now I'm only using this! It's just a really great selection of colours which will allow you to create a multitude of looks, the shadows are soft, very pigmented and last all day with a good primer. What's not to love?

2) Aussie 3 Minute Miracle

My hair has now been through a grand total of three bleaching sessions and unfortunately they have all taken their toll on my tresses. Trust Aussie to bring my hair back from almost certain death. It moisturises, repairs and just seems to undo all the damage I have caused through dying and heat styling. I cannot recommend this enough for anybody who has dry, brittle and/or damaged hair. I've already repurchased it twice and once this bottle is empty I'm getting another one. I'll write a full review on it soon.

3) Makebelieve Enhance Sunbeam Bronzer*

I've been reaching for this loads in the past few weeks, as my winter complexion is even ghostlier than usual. This bronzer gives a beautiful flush of colour and as it's not too shimmery it's the perfect contouring powder - I swear it makes my cheekbones as sharp as razorblades. What I love the most, however, is that it just settles to such a marvellously natural finish on my skin - no obvious bronzer or contour marks there at all. You can read a full review on this one here.

4) Simple Kind To Skin Cleansing Wipes

I can't believe I never wrote a blog post on these wipes. I think I may have mentioned them once in a Youtube video (haha, yeah....), but that's about it. Truth be told, I don't even remember how many times I've repurchased these. Let's be honest, sometimes you just haven't got the time or the energy (or you're just really, really drunk) to do a full skincare routine before bed, but the least you can do is take off your make-up. Nobody likes messy pillows and crusty eye lashes. I've tried a few other wipes from time to time, but none come close to these. They stay soft and moist forever, get all the crap off my face without being drying and most of all make sure I don't get breakouts caused by my laziness.

*PR Sample

What are your favourites for the month?

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Sample Summary #6

1) Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place Make-up
Full size: £27.50 for 30ml

Estee Lauder Double Wear used to be many a blogger’s holy grail foundation (I noticed it made a bit of a disappearance as of late) and I came close to buying it several times, so it was nice to get a little sachet to try it, even if it was only enough for one application and the colour didn’t match my skin at all.

Turns out I hate it. Thick, gloopy and pasty it looked like a mask on my face and felt very heavy while I was wearing it. I think I’ll stick to my light to medium coverage foundations for the time being. Glad I didn’t waste money on a full sized bottle, at least!

2) Dior The New Nude Foundation
Full size: £31.00 for 30ml

As opposed to 95% of foundation samples you get in magazines, this one was actually a fairly good match for my skin tone. I’m not entirely sure why, but I was hesitant to use this sample, expecting not to like it before I’d even given it a go. So upon application I was actually very surprised to find it’s a lovely product. It smoothed on perfectly, melted into my skin and gave a lovely matte, but natural look. Staying power was also quite impressive.

The only thing I’d say is that the name is a bit misleading. You’d expect light coverage from a foundation called “The New Nude”, but it was more of a medium coverage, bordering on heavy. Still, I think there might be a purchase looming!

3) Boss Nuit Pour Femme Body Lotion
Full size: £22.00 for 200ml

Now, I’ve got to be very frank here. I have absolutely nothing against sponsored posts, but when this fragrance launched, pretty much every blog on my reader had a sponsored post up about it and rather than entice me to buy the perfume, it actually put me off trying it. There’s a thing or two to be learnt about over-saturation in my humble opinion.

Now, that aside, I liked the fragrance when I smelled the body lotion, but there was nothing exciting about it, so even after having a whiff I won’t be running out to buy it. Moisturising properties of this sample were pretty much non-existant and it only served as a way to lightly fragrance my body.

4) Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturising Lotion
Full size: £5.40 for 200ml

This one, along with the Palmer’s cocoa butter, seems to pop up in magazines on a regular basis, yet I’ve never actually purchased a full size of either body lotions.
It doesn’t have the typical fruity scent I usually go for in body lotions and butters, but moisturised my skin well and despite being quite rich, sank in quickly and was easily spreadable. Again, I prefer scented body butters, but that’s just personal preference and I found nothing wrong with this lotion at all.

5) Jil Sander Everose Body Lotion
Full size: 17,95€ for 200ml (currently unavailable in the UK)

Another perfumed body lotion. I honestly don’t know, why cosmetics companies bring them out, because they’re frequently just plain awful. Just like the Boss one, this was runny, sticky, didn’t sink into the skin at all and for moisturisation I would have been better off rubbing myself with a carrot.
The scent was nice, quite summery, but again nothing I’d go wild about. I do find that a lot of Jil Sander fragrances are very samey and hey, if they’re your thing then that’s great, but personally, I think I’ll pass.

6) Annemarie Boerlind Naturoyale Biolifting Day Active
Full size: $229.99 for 50ml (currently unavailable in the UK)

This is a sample I picked up from a German magazine a while ago. The cream was way too rich and greasy for me and turned my face into a sticky, oily mess. To be honest, that’s something I’ve noticed with many German brands - their skincare is just so ridiculously rich that loads of brands I’ve tried have given me instant breakouts and/or a really shiny face.
This one was just horrible, so I’m not overly bothered that I can’t get hold of any of these products over here in England. Not to mention that the astronomical price tag gave me a little heart attack as soon as I found out how much people are expected to pay for this little tub of lard.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Boots Botanics Purifying Face Scrub Review

A few months back the Boots Botanics range had a major design overhaul from frumpy pharmaceutical looking packaging to new clean and more colourful packaging. I was on the hunt for a new facial scrub shortly after the revamp and while before I barely glanced at the range, it caught my eye straight away this time. Looks like the redesign was a bit of a success!

Pretty packaging aside, this one really caught my eye mainly due to the thick grains it contains. I like to use face scrubs while I'm in the shower, so if they're very gentle and mild they'd just get washed away without being able to do anything to the skin.
On that front, the Purifying Face Scrub certainly doesn't disappoint. It's chunky, rough and grainy, just how I like it. Sensitive skins might find it a little too harsh, but if you apply it on wet skin like I do, it gives a very pleasant deep clean.

It smells of pretty much nothing, so is kind on sensitive noses. Its aim is to brighten and smooth and though I didn't see any dramatic changes in skin tone, it did a very good job of making my skin clean and fresh. The scrubbing motions also made for a lovely, rosy glow, which made this a great pleasure to use.

I haven't even told you the best bit yet. The 75ml tube which you can see in the pictures lasted me about three and a half months with two weekly applications... and cost £2.49! You'd be very hard pressed to find a scrub this good at this price. If you're into rough, grainy exfoliators like I am and you're watching your wallet, then this couldn't be better for you.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Lush Melting Snowman Review

What better time to crack out this little bath melt than now that the country is covered in a white blanket of snow? I feel very old saying this, but few things are better in life than coming in from a walk / run / roll around in the snow and relaxing in a hot bath with a cup of tea and a good read.

The Melting Snowman is one Christmas Lush item I've been eyeing up last year but didn't manage to get my hands on. Diving into a bath of melting marzipan goodness just sounded too divine to pass up on for another year!
When I got this out while running my bath water I did panic a little bit. What do you mean, "Massage Bar"?? (Followed by the boyf's, "What do you mean I have to massage you!? The football's on!") Turns out it was just a printing error and this is a Bath Melt after all. Panic over.

Isn't he just an adorable little guy? He doesn't smell nearly as strong as most other Lush products, so he won't make your entire cupboard smell like bubble bath if you want to store him for a little bit. His nose is an actual piece of root ginger. The little buttons are made out of cocoa butter and smell and melt just like chocolate. (Yes, it was very tempting to pop one in my mouth to try it, but I resisted)

Little mister snowman won't cause an instant explosion of fizz like say a bath ballistic, but instead it will very slowly melt away in the water. If you're impatient like me it helps to crumble him into bits and pieces to speed up the process.

I had two major expectations from this bath goodie and unfortunately it didn't live up to either of them.

1) Loads of people raved about the Melting Snowman's delicious marzipan scent, but I couldn't make that out at all. According to Lush, he contains some orange essential oil and I did get a slight whiff of that - a bit like jaffa cake, but very faint and nothing like what I expected.

2) One of the differences between bath melts and bath ballistics is that the former are supposed to be more nourishing and moisturising for the skin. Again, I didn't really get any of that at all. While it was nice to soak in it, it did absolutely nothing for my skin. The good thing about that is that it didn't leave a nasty residue on the sides of the bath. The last thing I want to do after relaxing in a hot bubble bath is scrub the tub!

I did enjoy my snowman and he really made me wish it was Christmas again, but next time these pop up again I think I'll give them a miss. It seems he doesn't quite live up to the hype.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Naked 24 Hour Coco de Mer Body Butter

Today I'm sharing a product that was bought out of sheer desperation. Body lotion or body butter is one of those beauty products I cannot imagine living without. Something just doesn't feel right if my skin is not covered in nice smelling deliciousness after a shower.
This Naked 24 Hour Body Butter was bought during a mad dash to Boots when I realised that I hadn't enough of my old one left to last me another application.

I can't say I've ever heard of this brand before and their product range on the shelves wasn't overwhelmingly big either, but something about it just appealed to me, so I thought I'd give it a go. It contains 97% natural ingredients, which is a bonus and is vegetarian- but not vegan-friendly.

This picture freaks me out a little
As it was a product bought out of desperation I even forgot to take photographs before using, so sorry about the mucky insides of the tin. The picture above actually really, really grosses me out, but it shows just how thick this body butter is - quite literally like butter. You've really got to give it some elbow grease to scoop out a bit and then to rub it in.

Due to the thick texture it does take a little longer to sink into the skin than some other butters I've tried, but is still faster than a lot of horrible runny lotions. It keeps skin very soft and moisturised and would be particularly great during these cold winter months. That 24 hour promise on the tub is probably fairly accurate for a change.

The only issue I had with this was the scent. I would describe it as a very heavy, floral infused shea butter smell and for me it was just way too overpowering. A bit like walking into a scented candle shop or one of those "alternative" stores, where the air is so thick with incense you can't see past the tip of your nose.
If you're interested in giving this a go, I definitely recommend giving it a quick sniff first. I've read plenty of reviews online from people who adore the scent, so maybe it's just me. For moisturising properties, however, this body butter gets a big fat thumbs up.

At £5.45 for a 300ml tub it is also very reasonably priced.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sunday Catch Up

Fancy coffee beans to try in my new coffee machine // New diary, yay! // Pizza for breakfast, great start to eating more healthily this year // This ready meal made me angry // Managed to make a roast chicken, woohoo // Feeling crafty

Short one this week, as it hasn't been overly exciting. I got a new job, mind, but had to stay in most days, including New Year's Eve (boo!). Let's hope this next week is a little bit more interesting.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Lush Father Christmas Bath Ballistic Review

I never used to be a massive fan of Lush cosmetics, but the last year I've grown more and more fond of their products, particularly their bath goodies. Yes, they're a tad on the expensive side, but they smell amazing and are nice for a one off treat from time to time.

With all the seasonal ranges in particular I feel like I need to get in before they're gone or else I'm missing out. There were a few items I was eyeing up in the festive season last time around, but before I managed to get my bottom into gear they were already gone and I was gutted!

I wasn't going to get a Father Christmas, but he looked so happy in the shop he somehow magically made it into my basket anyway!

With bath ballistics I tend to just plonk the whole thing into my tub, but if you don't mind getting your hands a little messy you could easily get about two or three baths out of him.

Once in the water, he instantly starts fizzing away and dissolving, leaving behind a foamy pink trail.

Then he starts to reveal his green interior - and yes, those are big bits of red glitter you see in there.

Getting greener.

And this is the end result: Bright green bath water with white foam and lots and lots of red glitter on top.

And oh my, is it glittery. There was glitter all over my body, glitter all over the bath tub, glitter in unspeakable places! As I treated myself to this bath on Christmas Eve Eve I didn't mind being a bit of a disco ball over the holidays, but I'm not sure I'd want to turn up to work like this. The glitter stayed on for days, despite several showers!

As for the scent, I'd describe it as "eating sherbet in the forest". Very sweet and candy like, but with a little bit of woodiness to it, sort of pine tree like. The Lush website only mentions that this contains mandarin oil, so I guess that's where I'm getting the sherbet notes from.

I did enjoy my nice relaxing bath very much and emerged smelling lovely. I think due to the overload of glitter I'll give this one a miss next year, though!

Did you get yourself any seasonal Lush goodies?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

January Wish List

I feel a little bit guilty posting a wish list so shortly after Christmas when I was spoilt to lots of lovely things, but there's nothing wrong with a little (online) window shopping and a girl can dream after all, eh? Having said that, I am getting a tad bored with what's on offer on the high street at the moment. If I see another piece of moustache jewellery I think I'm seriously going to puke. Bring on some new spring items!

January Wish List

Planet Motif Sweater, Topshop, £35 // Jaquard Knicker Short, Miss Selfridge, £39 // Red Multicoloured Cross Bracelet, River Island, £4 // Red Embellished Feather Head Dress Print Tank, River Island, £18 // Chic Skinny Leather Belt, Topshop, £17 // Leopard Print Slipper, Zara, £37

I'm trying to be a little bit more brave with prints and the galaxy print sweater is an easy way to get into that with its nostalgic feel. I swear I had one almost exactly like this when I was about six. 
In the spirit of wearing more print I really like the baroque print short shorts from Miss Selfridge, too. My legs are the one part of my body I don't mind so much, so I'm sure these would get plenty of wear over a pretty pair of tights.
I'm usually not a major fan of crosses, but this bracelet is so wonderfully colourful it somehow appeals to my inner hippie. Maybe it's just a sign that it really needs to start being summer again!
The tank top reminds me of an amazing canvas print of a feather head dress I've seen a while ago (but couldn't afford) and ever since I've had a slight obsession with it. If I can't hang it on my wall, I can at least hang it from my shoulders.
I don't wear a lot of belts and quite frankly I'm not sure what I would wear this one with, but I really like the soft pastel blue colour.
Now, some might argue that I have enough shoes already (there might be a grain of truth in there), but I've actually managed to ruin two pairs of flats in the space of the last two or three months, so surely it wouldn't hurt to get some new ones? Especially if they look as comfy as these!

What are you lusting after this month?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Spa Organics Gentle Cucumber Cleanser Review

Welcome to the New Year everyone. I hope you had a great New Year's Eve and had a good time, even if like me you didn't do anything fancy.

For the first post this year I have a product I've been meaning to review for a while now, but haven't got round to till now: The Spa Organics Gentle Cucumber Cleanser*.

Spa Organics are a new cosmetics brand delivering (you guessed it) natural and organic beauty products at affordable prices. Their range isn't particularly big, but all products are well thought out and you can see the time and effort that has gone into creating each and every one of them.
I wouldn't be saying that just for the sake of it - the thing that made me take notice was that along with the cleanser I received a comprehensive list of ingredients for all their products, including an explanation what exactly it was doing in there. I don't know what half the ingredients in my beauty products are, not to mention what they're actually supposed to do for me, so this was truly a breath of fresh air. There isn't a single chemical nasty in their products, a lot of ingredients are locally sourced and the products aren't tested on animals either. So far, a big thumbs up.

The Gentle Cucumber Cleanser comes in a 150ml plastic pump bottle. It dispenses easily and the pump has a well functioning locking system which means it travels well without any spillages. I use about one pump in the mornings and one and a half in the evenings, when my face is grimy and dirty from make-up and, well, all that other mucky stuff you pick up during the course of the day.
The packaging may not be particularly fancy, but it's a new company we're talking about, after all, and it's the inside that counts. (I've had my fair share of brightly coloured, elaborately packaged products with lots of witty slogans printed all over them that turned out to be rubbish)

The thing that surprised me the most is just how creamy this cleanser is. I haven't tried an awful lot of all-natural cosmetics, but my experience with them so far was that the texture is somehow lacking without the use of silicones, making for products that are very difficult to spread and apply. Not so with this - it feels thick, smooth and luxurious on the skin, though it's creamy richness means you have to be extra thorough when rinsing it off.

I feel that the scent is definitely worth mentioning, so take note if you have a sensitive nose, please. This smells. Not in a bad way, but it has a very intense cucumber scent. It doesn't linger and disappears as soon as you rinse off the cleanser. Personally, it doesn't bother me - I associate the scent of cucumbers with freshness and cleanliness which fits in perfectly with the whole idea of a cleanser. Yet if strong scents bother you or if you have an aversion to cucumbers, this might be a point worth considering.

As for the skin benefits I would agree that this is particularly suited to sensitive skin. It was gentle enough and did not cause any of that pulling tight feeling that some harsher cleansers leave on your face. It's not meant to be used on the eye area, but if a little bit gets in through too vigorous scrubbing (I am often guilty of that) it won't leave your eyes red and sore.
At first, the cleanser wasn't quite thorough enough for me in the evenings and I'd still find a bit of dirt and make-up on my cotton pad after toning, but when I increased the amount I used from one pump to one and a half that seemed to solve the problem. After that, the cleanser served me well and did what it was meant to do in a gentle, skin friendly manner. The beautiful texture made me perk up and often stopped me from rubbing my face like a dirty old rag and to treat it kindly instead.

The cleanser retails at £10.95 for 150ml which is more than justified in my honest opinion. You'd be hard pressed to find natural, organic products at such a price and I find you get good value for your money.

You can pick up this as well as other products in the range on the Spa Organics website, which also includes the comprehensive list of ingredients used that I talked about earlier.

All in all, a great find for those who want to venture into organic skincare without having to break the bank or compromising on quality.

*PR sample sent for consideration