Monday, 30 September 2013

Pharmacy Beauty Goodies

When shopping for beauty supplies, pharmacies are usually the last place I think of snooping around in - I tend to do the bulk of my shopping in drugstores and will occasionally treat myself to a more expensive treat from a department store. But come to think of it, online pharmacies can actually be a good place to look for more unique, niche brands that won't be stocked anywhere else. I have recently been contacted by Farmaline to try some of the goodies they stock and here are my top picks.

I think this was featured in one of the first beauty boxes to hit the UK and I've been curious to try it ever since. The thought of putting oil anywhere apart from in my food used to seriously freak me out, but these days I've quite come around to it. This one is multi-usage, so you can apply it on your face, body or hair. I've been using it on my body after showering, as that's where I'm struggling the most with dryness.

As it's a dry oil, it won't leave any of that slippy, greasy feeling on your skin, but it seems to almost evaporate immediately, leaving skin nourished and moisturised. It's only on my hands that it tends to build up and I do have to wash my hands after applying it, as they tend to get quite greasy. This is also where the packaging is a little flawed - as pretty and sleek as the glass bottle looks, try twisting it open with slippery hands!
The scent of this is really rather strong. It's got quite a spicy, warm scent to it, which is just perfect for winter, but you'll be able to smell it on yourself literally all day, so make sure it's one you like before purchasing! Having said that, it layers beautifully with some of my perfumes and somehow holds their scent much longer than they'd last on just bare skin.

I've seen Apivita featured on quite a few blogs, but never tried anything from them, as I couldn't get hold of the brand. These little sachets contain about one application each. I suppose you could scrimp a little and get two out of each packet, but I preferred to really slather it on and let it do good for my skin.

The mask feels deliciously creamy and smooth on the skin. It is as a matter of fact bright orange, but fortunately it doesn't have a punchy carrot smell (I don't imagine the smell of carrots being overly relaxing, unless you're a rabbit, of course). Due to my ridiculously unhealthy lifestyle - bad role model here - I've been battling the same cold for several weeks now, so the skin around my nose is really red and sensitive. Upon application it was those sensitive areas where it did sting a little bit, but once I'd rinsed it off, all redness was soothed and felt a lot less sore.

The rest of my skin didn't experience quite such drastic changes, but overall my face felt a lot more refreshed and a tad more healthy if that makes any sense. I imagine this one would be great for anyone with sensitive or slightly irritated skin in need of a bit of TLC.

Now, this is quite an interesting one: A gel that you apply onto your eyelashes that's meant to promote their growth, make them darker and thicker. My initial thought was that it was basically just a huge pile of bullsh*t and another completely unnecessary step in my already lengthy morning and evening beauty routine. The thing is, I've been using it for about three weeks now - and I might just be imagining it, but I'm pretty sure there have been some actual changes to my eye lashes.

Apparently it takes four weeks for the full effect to come into force and I am really, really kicking myself for not taking any before and after pictures, but it does seem that my lashes are a tad thicker and darker than they used to be. I wouldn't say they've become any longer and they were already pretty curled before, so again no major changes here. But something has definitely happened. 
I wouldn't say my eye lashes were ever a great concern to me and if I want to bring them out, I'll just apply some mascara - but for anybody who is really worried about short or very, very fine lashes, this might just make the difference you're looking for.

What are your favourite pharmacy beauty buys?

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Review: L'Oreal SkinPerfection Range

Believe it or not, but it's actually pretty difficult to find skincare for skin which just like mine is sort of "meh, alright, I suppose". At 24, I still believe that I'm too young to delve into anti-ageing skincare, but I also don't have any major concerns like acne or hypersensitivity. My skin isn't bad, but I wouldn't mind my complexion being a bit more even, my pores a bit smaller and my T-Zone a bit less oily.

With their SkinPerfection range, L'Oreal as a big brand have now finally, finally recognised that there's probably quite a lot of women just like me: 20-somethings who don't expect their beauty products to perform any miracles, just give us a bit of a boost. And we're not prepared to pay a fortune for it either.

I have two products from this range to talk about today, the Correcting Day Moisturiser and the Serum.

Admittedly, they had me a little bit with the packaging. It's pink, bright pink (-and that's why they call me Captain Obvious). And I don't know why, but there's something about beauty products packaged in cardboard boxes that makes me very happy.

The daily moisturiser is housed in a glass container with a metallic lid. Though it's quite heavy, so not ideal for transportation, it looks quite pretty on my desk. My one gripe is the clear sticker with the "SkinPerfection" writing on it, as it looks quite tacky and it would be much better to have the writing on the actual glass itself. But I suppose I'm nitpicking here.

Some time ago I would have been complaining about the pot being a little unhygienic, but to be honest that doesn't bother me anymore. Just make sure you've got clean hands before you rub them all over your face and you should be fine! To my utter delight it turns out that the cream inside is also pink!

The texture of this is absolutely spot-on for my skin. It glides on easily and absorbs quickly leaving my skin nice and moisturised all over, with absolutely no stickiness. I can apply make-up on top pretty much straight away and it won't slip about or leave any of those weird rolly bits.
The one downside of this one is that it doesn't have any SPF, so you'd have to apply that separately.

On to the serum: Have you noticed that it's also pink? It comes in a snazzy little pump, once again in a glass container, so not the most travel-friendly, but it looks nice on the bathroom shelf. And it's pink.

I found this serum to be surprisingly thick - it actually feels a lot more like a light moisturiser than a serum. It's got quite a silicone-y feel on the skin, so that might not be for everyone, but it sinks in nice and quick, so that you can apply moisturiser straight on top without having to faff about waiting for it to dry. It's actually got lots of little bits of shimmer when it comes out of the pump, but once you rub it into your skin the shimmer completely disappears.

I always find it a bit tricky to review skin care items, especially if I'm trying lots of new products at the same time, as I am now. It's just difficult to pinpoint what exactly is causing my skin to behave in a certain way. What I can tell you, however, is that while using this combo my skin is in utterly amazing condition. For some reason it just seems a lot smoother and more even than normal, like permanently wearing foundation - and that's despite the stresses of bringing up two little puppies! I actually went out for lunch without any make-up on today, would you believe it??

Once again I can't say for sure what's causing my skin to be the way it is right now - it could be one of these products, it could be both, it could be a combination of everything, or maybe something I wouldn't have expected at all. Nevertheless, these two just feel completely right for my skin and are an absolute pleasure to use.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Sample Summary #10

I've had the pleasure to sample lots of pretty awesome products lately, which unfortunately also means that my beauty wish list has expanded by about thirty feet. Oh well. You ready for it?

1) L'Oreal EverRiche Shampoo
Full size: £5.99

I had a feeling that my hair might like this shampoo and I wasn't wrong at all. My hair was always pretty dry, but ever since it's been bleached it needs a lot of intensive care and moisture. A lot of shampoos won't make a difference in the state of my hair - it's something I remedy with conditioners, oils and intensive masques - but this one genuinely made my hair a lot smoother and more manageable without weighing it down at all. And it's only about £6 per bottle, while there's usually some sort of 3 for 2 deal on at Boots or Superdrug, so it's definitely going to be something I plan on purchasing soon!

2) Lancome Teint Miracle Foundation
Full size: £27.50

The shade of my sample above is 03 and I knew before even squeezing anything out of the tube, that it wouldn't match my colouring one bit - and I was right. It looked disasterously orange on me, so I waited till I had a day off to try this one on. And it's such a shame that the colour is so far off, as the texture of this foundation is absolutely lovely. It's very runny out of the tube, but dries to a perfect matte finish on the skin, lasts all day and feels lightweight throughout. Unfortunately I gave this one more go trying to match it to my skin with some lighter powder, but eventually had to give up and just bin the sample.

3) Kerastase Elixir Ultime Masque
Full size: £23.95

I was going to treat myself to a pot of this a while ago, but eventually decided to go for a more budget friendly alternative and spend my money on... erhm... can't remember. Seems like that might have been a bad decision, because this stuff is AMAZING. Seriously. Best hair masque I've ever used in my life. My hair was soft, swishy, smooth but still voluminous - I'm running out of adjectives to describe this stuff, but it's just awesome and I've decided I need it in my life.

4) Dermalogica Ultracalming Relief Masque
Full size: £39.10

Next stop on the rave train! Dermalogica have never let me down in all fairness and I've loved every single product I've ever tried. This sachet couldn't have come at a better time - I've been battling a nasty cold for what seems like forever now and the area around my nose and my mouth is red raw from excessive tissue use. This applied smoothly, didn't sting even on the sore areas and soothed and calmed my skin instantly. Admittedly, the price tag on this is very steep, so if I ever did purchase the full size, it would be more of a special occasion treat rather than an everyday skincare staple.

5) Kerastase Homme Capital Force Shampoo
Full size: £12.24

Not much I can say on this one, really. I'm not a man, so I gave this sample to my boyfriend and his comments were as enlightening as "Well, it washed my hair". Thanks. This is aimed at densifying hair with everyday use, so there isn't really much to observe after just one use. Other than that it got my boyfriend's hair clean.

6) Melvita Rose Body Milk
Full size: £16

After so much excitement to finally sample something from Melvita, this body milk was a bit of a let down. The smell was very pleasant - rosy, but not too strong or obvious. The texture, however, was a bit too runny and thin for me, providing my skin with almost no moisture. Then again, it's no secret that I'm no fan of runny body lotions or milks, so maybe if you prefer something lighter on the skin than a heavy duty body butter, then this is for you.

7) S5 Purity Serum
Full size: £44

I was a tad worried originally that this might be a little too harsh for my skin, as I don't really suffer from any breakouts, just a bit of oiliness around my T-Zone. Turns out that my fears were unfounded and this has seriously transformed my skin. I'm trialling quite a lot of new skincare at the moment, so it's a bit tricky to be able to put my finger at which product is doing exactly what, but I'm pretty sure this has helped immensely in getting my skin to the state it's at right now. Ever since I started using this serum I've not had a single blackhead and the oiliness on my T-Zone has gone down significantly - all without irritating the more delicate skin on my cheeks. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Review: Lee Stafford Bleach Blondes Shampoo and Conditioner

Last December I changed my hair colour from natural dark brown to a light blonde and I haven't looked back since. I love the way it lifts my skin tone and lets me get away with wearing much brighter colours. Hell, it sounds like a cliche, but people even treat you differently depending on your hair colour.
But, to be completely honest here, it is a right pain up the backside to maintain bleached hair. It gets dry, frazzled and occasionally turns into a shade of Simpson yellow. It's certainly not a hair colour to go for if you prefer something low-maintenance!

One thing that's literally been a lifesaver when it comes to my bleached hair turning nasty, has been purple shampoo. And as far as purple shampoos are concerned, this one from Lee Stafford is among the strongest you can find. Even when my hair basically turned orange (hard water can make this a lot worse), this baby turned it into a beautiful shade of gold.
In fact, as it's so strong I would only recommend this to medium to dark blondes. When I had some highlights put into my hair it actually turned a light shade of purple, even though I rinsed it out immediately after applying it. Even then you only really need to use it once a week, or perhaps even every other week.

As for the conditioner, I only bought it to go with the shampoo, but to be honest, you may as well leave it on the shelf. It doesn't add any colour-correcting properties and the shampoo is strong enough anyway, so you don't really need to add any more purple for the conditioner. Considering it's a conditioner aimed at bleached (read dry and frazzled) hair, it could do with being a lot richer and more nourishing than it is.

For any bleaching accidents or hair that just doesn't want to stay that lovely shade of blonde, the shampoo gets both of my thumbs up, however.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Love Me Beauty Box September 13

Beauteco Box have had a bit of a rebrand and are now known as Love Me Beauty. The same concept still applies of choosing your favourite out of three different options or "menus" each month before getting your box of samples delivered to your door. They have however moved from a guaranteed 3 full sized products each month, to only two and are a little less focused on all natural and organic brands.
To be completely honest with you I'm not overly surprised. This month's box still features four full sized products, which is UHM-AZING, but I was wondering how long they'd be able to keep that up for. Two full sized products a month is still pretty awesome and as long as they keep up their three choices, that means I can automatically choose not to get a box full of duds.

1) Matriskin | Collagen MP Serum
Full size: £96.90 for 30ml / Sample value: £24.23

I was gonna start off by saying that this is the product that I would have quite happily left out of this month's box, but couldn't, as it was one of this month's "star products", which means that it's featured in each of the three menus. I was gonna. Then I looked up how much a full sized vial of this costs.
A HUNDRED POUNDS????? I even struggled to find a website that ships this to the UK - in the end I found it in the Birchbox e-shop (oh, the irony!). I might be swimming in serums at the moment and I might not be concerned about filling my wrinkles and expression lines, but for that price, I am sure as hell giving this a go!
I'll be honest though and admit that the serum itself is not overly inviting. It's an extremely sticky clear liquid with a very strong pharmaceutical scent. After all that, this stuff better give me the skin of a supermodel.

2) Murad | Osmolyte Tonic
Full size: £10 for 15ml

This spray-on toner is this month's "star product" number two. At first I thought it was another sample sized item, but as it turns out, Murad actually sell this little 15ml bottle as a full size! My first experience with Murad products was absolutely dire and if it wasn't for a continuous supply of samples, I would have given up on this brand a while ago. Turns out it's a good job I didn't, as I've since discovered quite a few gems by them (the last one being their hydro-dynamic eye cream, awesome stuff!).
I had no idea what an osmolyte is until I went on the Murad website and it turns out that it contains taurine! Anyone who's battled their share of monstrous hangovers will appreciate a bit of taurine to bring you back to life, but I've had no idea that it's good for your skin as well. I've had a little spritz this morning and it feels quite pleasant on the skin, drying quickly and without any strong scent attached to it.

3) Nip and Fab | Dry Leg Fix
Full size: £10.25 for 100ml

Now this is a product I was very, very excited about receiving. If I was just browsing through a shop it would have never occurred to me to buy a lotion specifically for my legs. After all, that's what body lotion is for - surely, my legs are part of my body, no?
BUT, my legs have been misbehaving lately. For some reason I simply cannot figure out (and I spent a long time thinking about it, trust me), the skin on my legs has become really dry, flaky and as a result unbearably itchy. Nowhere else, just my legs. I thought it might have been my razor, shaving cream, washing powder, or sun lotion, but it wasn't. And I was still left with flaky bits of skin on my shins that would turn into angry red bumps when scratched - really not a good look.
Fingers crossed, this might be the solution I've been praying for. I applied a little bit today after my morning shower and it already feels a bit better. I don't want to jinx it, but if this stuff is the answer to my randomly dry legs problem, then be certain that you'll hear about it (A LOT) on my blog.

4) Anatomicals | Eye Gel
Full size: £4.00 for 15ml

I've never tried anything from Anatomicals, because for some reason I always thought they were a really expensive brand, which they're not. I think it might be from the time when I lived in Germany, as I know their products cost a lot more over there than they do here in the UK.
This product is another reason why I love being able to pick my favourite out of three boxes. The other two both featured a full sized cleanser, and I've got so many of those at the moment that I've got no idea how I'm gonna get through them all. But when it comes to eye cream, I literally just ran out of my old one, so this couldn't have come at a better time!
I love the quirky packaging of this cream and the light gel texture that feels lovely and refreshing on the skin.

5) Essential Care | Lip Silk
Full size: £5.50 for 4.5g

Lip balms are another product I've got more than enough of at the moment. Two months ago I didn't have any and now I own about ten! Nothing to worry about, however, as I'm an expert on losing lip balms (and pens and lighters), so I'm sure my selection will dwindle in due course. 
This is one I can see myself falling in love with very easily. It doesn't leave any colour on the lips, just a slight sheen, and feels incredibly moisturising without being at all greasy or sticky. I've actually kept reapplying over and over ever since I got my box this morning!

Total value: £53.98

Call it Beauteco, call it Love Me Beauty, I'm still in love with this beauty box subscription service. I actually feel that last month's box was the weakest so far (read my post on it here). As much as I loved the idea of two Lord & Berry lip products, they turned out not to be my colours AT ALL and just got buried in my stash after two or three half-hearted attempts at wearing them.
This month we're back with a box full of products that I know I'm going to use not just out of guilt or because they're "kinda there", but because I want to try them. I already can't wait for next month's box!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Review: Soap and Glory Smoothie Star

Here's yet another product from Soap & Glory that has me singing cheesy tunes about my beauty products in the bathroom. As if anybody needs an excuse to pretend to be Mariah Carey in the shower! (No, just me? Okay....)

I've been using this body milk all throughout summer, when a thick body butter can feel like a little too much on the skin. The pump dispenser makes this easy to use without making too much of a mess, but it also meant that I couldn't quite get the last bit out of the bottle, so quite a bit of body milk had to go to waste.

Having said that, the 500ml bottle is absolutely huge and must have lasted me about four or five months. The scent is very pleasant and not quite as strong as what I'm used to from Soap&Glory. It's a light, sweet milky smell which doesn't cling on to the skin for too long, so can easily be layered with perfume without being overbearing.

As for moisturising my skin it did an alright job, but I think I still do and always will prefer a gloriously thick body butter. On those ridiculously hot days I still had to skip applying this body milk, as it would just leave a slimy layer on my skin (yummy!!). On days that weren't scorching hot it felt moisturising, but never as if it fully penetrated my skin. As soon as I finished this and went back to using a thicker body butter my skin became instantly softer and smoother, so I think it's a miss for me.

For those who prefer lotions over butters, however, this is one of the most moisturising body lotions I have tried, so if your skin isn't dry at all it's one worth looking at!

You can find Smoothie Star Body Milk at Boots for £10 per 500ml bottle.

September Wish List

September Wish List
Monster Print PJ Set, Topshop, £20 // Khaki 3 in 1 Faux Fur Parka Jacket, River Island, £100 // Black Bangle Watch, Vivienne Westwood, £190 // Homies Tee in Animal Print, Reason at Urban Outfitters, £35 // Black Hooded Biker Jacket, River Island, £55 // Recife Bracelet, Hipanema, £67

It's really annoying when you're brimming with creativity, but just cannot seem to find the time to write up all those blog post ideas you've got in your head. In my case, we've just welcomed two little puppies into our home, so as you might be able to imagine, life's been pretty stressful lately!

I completely fail to get excited about fall and winter fashion. All the bright summer colours are gone and everything's just black, cream, burgundy and khaki. How boring! I am quite looking forward to getting a new coat, however, which should keep me snuggly and dry in the dark, horrible weather.
One of my favourite things to do is pyjama shopping - don't ask me why, as barely anyone gets to see me in my PJs anyway, but I just love having cute and comfy sets and this monster one ticks all the boxes.
One way of brightening up a dark fall wardrobe is with colourful accessories and I love this bracelet from Hipanema. I usually get similar ones from Primark for a mere fraction of the price, but they tend to  fall apart very easily and leave a green stain on my wrists - maybe a little investment piece wouldn't throw up the same problem.

What are you lusting after this month?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Monthly Favourites: August 2013

1) Laura Mercier Oil-free Tinted Moisturiser
I've seen people rave and go on about these for so long that eventually I just caved and had to give it a go for myself - and I have to admit, it's a pretty awesome product! My skin is behaving pretty well at the moment, so I don't need anything with massive amounts of coverage and this tinted moisturiser just fits the bill perfectly. It just seems to smooth things out a little bit, while feeling light as a feather and leaving a natural, healthy glow. My one bug bear (aside from the price!) is that seeing as it's oil free it could do with being a little more mattifying - it seems to leave my face extremely shiny, but that could just be down to the hot weather in all fairness.

2) Models Own nail polish in Luis Lemon
Another Models Own polish in my monthly favourites! I'm seriously obsessed with them - the formula never fails me and the shade selection is just amazing. During the last month of summer I've particularly been loving this neon yellow to put a spring in my step. It's phenomenal for a night out as well, as it literally glows in black light! You can read a post I wrote about this nail polish here.

3) Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl in Nude
I'd been hunting for a nude eye liner for months about a year ago, until I finally gave up and forgot all about it. Then I went out to do some beauty shopping with a friend when we stumbled across these and though I wasn't that fussed anymore I thought I'd give it a go. Great decision! The formula of this pencil is just amazing - soft, creamy, pigmented and stays on the waterline for at least 5 hours. The nude shade is perfect for a wide-eyed, healthy look, but without being quite as harsh and obvious as a white pencil.

4) Artdeco Clear Lash & Brow Gel
Apologies about the tube looking a little manky - unfortunately that's what tends to happen with clear brow mascaras when you apply them over brow pencil or powder. Aesthetics aside, however, this does an amazing job of keeping my brows in place ALL DAY LONG. Literally, they won't budge until I give them a swipe with make-up remover. For somebody whose brows always seem to have a mind of their own this is an absolute god send - it just makes me look so much more groomed than brows that are all over the place. Bear in mind, that it does make them a bit crispy and glossy, but to me that's not necessarily a downside.

5) Benefit They're Real Mascara
I'll admit that I was anything but blown away by this mascara when I first tried it and I'd even go as far as saying that I felt that I'd wasted my money a little. Yes, it makes lashes look really long and it's not too bad for curling, but somehow it was just missing a little bit of oomph. However, slowly but surely, this is really growing on me. There's just something about the brush that makes it grip literally every single one of your eyelashes. Nowadays, when I want a little more impact I just apply two or three layers and it works brilliantly, without a single clump in sight.