Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Review: V05 Beyond Blonde Shampoo

This isn't something I thought I'd ever think, never mind write or say out loud, but I feel like I owe this shampoo an apology. I have been dragging out this review for absolute ages, scrolling past the images and thinking, "What the hell are you going to say? It's just shampoo....". But then I started thinking about it. And thought about it some more. And the more I thought, the more I realised, that this is one of the best drugstore shampoos I have used in a long time. So, here we go, V05: I'm sorry for not appreciating you enough.

See, this is a shampoo that works quietly. On the outside it seems just like any cheap and cheerful shampoo: it's got that typical fruity drugstore scent (nothing wrong with that, but it's not exactly luxurious), extremely girly packaging and a very serious lather that means business (but also tons of SLS, so not one if you're avoiding that ingredient!). I wouldn't say it does any of that brightening or colour correcting stuff specifically for blonde hair, so again, if that's something you're after, you need to look elsewhere.

I use this every other wash and usually apply something like a hair mask or deep conditioner afterwards and while I've had various results with the latter, it's the shampoo that's always been consistent. It gets my hair really, really clean, so that it can perfectly absorb whatever's coming afterwards, but even if I just pop on any regular old conditioner, my hair is left feeling soft and smooth and in no way dry or frizzy.

I think haircare is probably the one area where investing in luxury products will get you luxury results (in my experience, at least), but if you don't have upwards of £50 to spend on shampoo and conditioner every month, you still don't have to let your hair suffer. For the price, this works an absolute treat and I couldn't ask for anything else. I bought this huge 500ml bottle about six months ago and I'm only just beginning to scrape the bottom, so it lasts for ages as well! (Though bear in mind that I've only been using it every other wash, as mentioned above)

Monday, 22 September 2014

Review: Garnier Clean & Fresh Eye Make-up Remover

When it comes to make-up remover, I like to keep things cheap and cheerful. I get through so much of that stuff it would soon become a very expensive habit and I've found that most drugstore removers work just as well as their high end counterparts, as long as you know where to look.

While my eyes aren't super sensitive, they do get dry from wearing contact lenses a lot of the time, so the main thing for me is that I don't want my beauty products to further aggravate them and cause any stinging. I'm also not a fan of oil based removers that leave a greasy film on my lids and a weird coating on my eyeballs.... urgh, no thanks. Thankfully, this little number from Garnier fits the bill perfectly.

It really does feel light and refreshing on the skin and there is no stinging or burning in my eyes whatsoever. When it comes to removing make-up it performs well as long as you're not wearing copious amounts of eye make-up. After a night out for example I would have to go through several cotton pads to fully get rid of my panda eyes.

I guess when it comes to efficiency, these types of make-up remover are never going to be as good as micellars (and if you're in the market for one, Garnier actually do a cracking one that is pretty much an exact dupe for Bioderma!), but if for any reason you're not a fan of a micellar water and don't wear huge amounts of eye make-up, then this is a pretty good option that certainly won't break the bank.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri

Whatever did I do before the days of quick dry top coat? Oh yeah, I basically never painted my nails. That's what I did. This is the second part of my adventure in quick-dry-land, with the first part being a bottle of the OPI Rapidry (review here). I know, I know, I still somehow haven't purchased a bottle of the legendary Seche Vite, but when I opened my Rapidry one day to find that it had turned into a hard, sticky lump, this was the only thing I could get my hands on in my local Boots.

And it certainly wasn't too shabby a purchase! As far as being quick drying goes, this top coat definitely does the job. Give it ten minutes tops and my nail polish has gone rock solid, so I no longer have to sit on the sofa in T-Rex pose. Unlike my previous purchase, it also doesn't drag the polish underneath - as long as the surface is kinda dry, you're good to go. After all, having to wait for your nail polish to completely dry before applying a quick dry top coat kinda defeats the purpose.

As for the top coat preventing chips I do admit that I've seen some improvements compared to not wearing any top coat at all, though they're not overly breathtaking. All it takes is still one slightly longer shower and my polish will have dents and flakes coming off. Thankfully, however, (unlike the OPI polish), it doesn't do that horrible thing where a top coat clings to your nail polish and everything comes off in just one huge, massive flake.

As far as the brush goes, I wouldn't mind it being a little shorter and wider for easier application, but that's just me being fussy over a minor detail.

I think as far as adventures in quick dry land go, this is definitely an improvement and has led to a lot more nail polish application than previously. I'd be happy to recommend this to anyone who likes to paint their nails and doesn't enjoy faffing about while it's drying (so, erm, everyone who likes to paint their nails then). Perhaps one day I will get my hands on some Seche Vite and then I'll be able to tell you how these two stack up against each other, but until then I'm happy with my bottle of Insta-Dri!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Review: Mark Hill Intensive Conditioning Mask

Every other hair wash, I slap on something thick, gooey and nourishing on my hair. A hair mask or deep conditioner is as deeply embedded in my beauty routine as filing my nails when they break off. As my hair is naturally quite dry and bleaching it makes it extra brittle, it's not a step I could ever imagine skipping. As a result, I've tried a lot of products that claim to bring back your hair from the brink of near-death, from budget to high end (but mainly on the budget side of things).

As such, this is one that sits very snugly in the middle. It's got a very satisfying scoopy texture... you know, when you just get a nice feeling scooping it up with your hands...? ...no? I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's neither too runny, so you don't have to worry about it dripping out of your hair, nor so thick that you can't spread it evenly. It's got a sweet and fruity scent but by no means is it overpowering.

One thing I do really like about this is that it only takes a few minutes to get to work. None of that wrapping hair in a towel, waiting for half an hour and then getting back in the shower faff. This I just slap on, then I do my showery-exfoliatey-shavey things and it's ready to be rinsed off again.
It's more of a quick fix, however, than a long term solution. Post shower, my hair is left soft and silky, but without having the ingredients right here in front of me, I can almost swear blindly, that it ought to be down to some silicone magic - so it's not one for you if that's an ingredient you avoid in your hair products!

Personally, while I do try to shake it up a little from time to time, silicones are not an ingredient that I avoid altogether, though I do make an effort to go on silicone breaks to let my hair breathe occasionally. As far as other drugstore masks go, I'd say this is definitely superior to other cheap and cheerful options, such as Herbal Essences, albeit I wouldn't recommend it as a long term solution if your hair is brittle and damaged.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Review: Soap & Glory Heel Genius

For a long time I used to struggle with using foot creams. I amassed a huge stash of them, but constantly kept forgetting to actually use them. Then I had the genius idea of putting a tube in my bathroom right next to my body lotion and this way I have somehow managed to work my way through my mountain of foot creams and try out this one which I bought more than a year and a half ago. Told you it was bad.

I've seen Heel Genius on many a bloggers' favourites lists and now I can finally understand why it's such a much loved product. The texture is an almost balmy cream which instantly sinks into the skin, so there's none of that dreaded Bambi-on-ice feeling if don't put socks on straight afterwards. The cream feels cooling and refreshing on the feet, which is an absolute godsend if you've spent all day running around like I usually do.

While it's not the most skin softening foot cream I've ever tried, I could definitely tell a difference in how my heels felt after a couple of days of using it. As far as budget foot creams go, this is probably the best one I've tried so far. I feel like its place in the beauty hall of fame is well deserved!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review: Bleach London Silver Conditioner

When it comes to purple shampoo and conditioner or any other products that promise to keep bleached blonde hair from going brassy I thought I'd tried them all. So imagine my excitement when I discovered this in my local Boots! I'd heard good things about Bleach London, so was hoping it would do a good job at keeping my hair looking naturally blonde and not Simpsons-yellow.

As far as purple conditioners go it's one of the better ones, pretty much on par with my beloved Pro:Voke (which is somehow still the cheapest and the best of all the ones I've tried). The purple tint is strong enough to cover up brassiness, but subtle enough to stop your hair getting an unwanted lavender tinge. It's also nourishing enough to leave hair soft and silky, but in no way greasy or weighed down.

The only downside I can find is the packaging. Don't get me wrong, it looks really cool and edgy on the bathroom shelf, but once you're about halfway through the bottle, the thick plastic combined with the small screwtop makes it incredibly difficult to get enough product out. I would much prefer a squeezy tube! Seeing as it works just as well for me as the Pro:Voke one, but is ever so slightly more expensive, I don't think it's going to be a repurchase for me, but if you find that you don't get on with that one too well, this is well worth a shot!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Review: Nivea 2in1 Cleanser & Toner

You know when a product claims to be good at two separate things and then ends up with a mediocre performance in both of them? Yeah, that. With this.
I bought the Nivea 2in1 Cleanser & Toner out of sheer laziness and I'm not afraid to admit it. I was feeling run down and stressed and came to the conclusion that I was much more likely to stick to a skincare routine rather than the occasional face wipe if that routine consisted of the minimum amount of steps I could get away with.

Now, I did have a picture of a blob of this on my hand so you could get a good idea of the texture, but it looked suspiciously like, err... a certain type of bodily fluid, so I thought I'd spare you the sight! You'll just have to take my word, that it's a lot like a creamy cleanser, but with a slightly runnier, more watery consistency.
While it definitely feels nice and gentle on the skin, my face just didn't feel particularly clean after using it, which was confirmed by a mucky face towel.

For me the idea of using a toner after washing my face is to have that extra purification, with a little bit of bonus moisture, but this just doesn't perform either of those criteria. I guess it would be alright as part of a double cleanse, but then that would defeat the purpose of cutting out steps in my skincare routine. Looks like I shot myself in the foot a little bit there, doesn't it?

What is your experience with dual- or multi-purpose products? Have you maybe even tried this one in particular? Let me know in the comments below!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Review: Champneys Spa Indulgence Distant Shores Body Scrub

Champneys is not a brand I have any experience with. Although they are readily available at Boots and come out with loads of great gift sets in the weeks before Christmas, it's just not a brand that I could identify with or that I found interesting in any way. But as soon as I unscrewed the lid of this body scrub and caught a little whiff, there was no way I would leave without it in my basket.

Oh my god. The scent of this is just incredible! You can definitely smell the passionfruit and the citrus in this and while it's fruity and zingy there's no sickliness and none of that toilet cleaner smell you can get from some citrus based scents.

As for the texture, the grains are about salt sized, offering good mechanical exfoliation without irritating the skin. To be fair I do find it to be a little runny, so you've got to work quick to stop the product from just dripping off the skin and I wouldn't mind if it was a little more moisturising either. It performs well, but it's certainly not the best body scrub I've ever used. The scent, however, made it an absolute pleasure to use and turned my morning shower into a true indulgence.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Memebox #23 Girl's Night Out

Every time I think I'm over beauty boxes, something new pops up that gets me excited about them all over again. Last year, it was Love Me Beauty's "choose your favourite from three menus" concept, but by now I've gotten a little bit bored of the products they have on offer. Just as I cancelled my subscription Memebox pops up with an entirely new idea. Not only are all boxes themed and you simply pick which one you like, without ever having to start a re-occuring subscription, the main selling point is the fact that you get nothing but Korean beauty products. I've been a fan of Asian beauty for a very long time, as it caters to a lot of my beauty needs: pale skin, hooded lids... and don't even get me started on the packaging. Sadly, I wouldn't know where to start most of the time, as there's no chance of me understanding anything on the packaging. In comes Memebox, offering not only edited down sets of Korean products to try, but also a very useful leaflet explaining exactly what everything is and what you're meant to do with it, as well as the chance to buy any products that you like from their shop. How could I say no to that? The box I've got to show you today is box #23, themed "Girl's Night Out".

It came packed to the very brim with make-up and beauty products and took exactly two weeks from placing the order to arrive - not bad, considering it had to travel halfway around the world! I normally do a value breakdown with my beauty box reviews, but I just don't feel that would be very appropriate in this case, as you'd be hard pressed to find any of these items here in the UK. Instead, I'll just give you my first impressions about each item.

1) Kskin | Bulgarian Rose Pheromone Perfume Pink Angel

I usually hate receiving perfumes in beauty boxes, but seeing as this one's a full sized rollerball rather than a dinky little counter sample, I'm happy with the product I received. I got incredibly excited when I saw that it was rose based, but I'm still on the fence about whether I like it or not. There is an initially overwhelming smell of alcohol, but once that's evaporated you're left with a faint, powdery hint of rose. This is going straight in my handbag for perfume application on the go.

2) Forest Story | Water Essence Hair Perfume Soft Soap Fragrance

My eyes lit up a little bit when I read the description of this product. A hair spray that is designed to eliminate all odours (like food or cigarette smoke) from your hair while adding softness and moisture. What a brilliant idea! I think it's safe to say that we all have those days where an extra hour in bed sounds a lot more appealing than getting up, washing and styling our hair and sometimes dry shampoo doesn't quite cut it. I've spritzed a bit of my regular perfume onto my hair before, but I can't imagine all the alcohol in it to be particularly good for my hair. Sadly, the scent of this is insanely overwhelming. Soap fragrance, yes, definitely, but soft it is not - more like a soapy sledgehammer to the face. As my hair is freshly washed I can't comment on its softening properties just yet, but I will try to give it another go on my next bad hair day.

3) A.m.oK cosmetics | N.S.M Soft Moose Waterproof Liquid Line

I think something may have gotten a little lost in translation here... Soft Moose? Surely they meant Mousse... and "Three step cross eyes"?? I really hope I don't get cross eyed from using this, haha! Anyway, the product itself is a soft cream inside a tube with a brush applicator. The brush is meant to make it easy to use it as an eye shadow blended out all over the lid, as well as an eye liner focused on the lash line, but I feel that it is too wide to perform well as a liner. This came in a variety of shades and I feel like I've really lucked out with mine (550 Elegance Purple - see swatches below). It's a gorgeous shimmery bronze with soft purple undertones, which applies incredibly pigmented. From my swatch it seems a bit too creamy to be waterproof and I think I might need to wear a good primer underneath or set it with a powder shadow perhaps, but I really can't wait to give this a go!

4) Secret-Stargirl | S-Style 2set

This is another product that came in lots of different variation and the one I got was 01 Sexy Eye. It's safe to say that these lashes are completely out of my comfort zone and not something I would ever pick up in a store. I think they're a tad think and long and glossy, so are going to look very obviously fake on the eye, but nevertheless I'm willing to give them a go next time I'm on a big night out or something.

5) Croquis | Dual Concealer

This is a double ended product, with dark circle concealer on one end and blemish concealer on the other end. The dark circle side is lighter and peachier in tone and comes with a brush applicator as opposed to the doefoot applicator that comes with the blemish concealer side. Just in case you get as confused as I did, it also has a picture of an eye and a picture of dots to make it clear which side is for which purpose. Upon first inspection I really, really like this product. It applies very creamy and actually quite runny at first, but once you start blending away, you can see that there's a very decent amount of pigmentation in there. I can imagine it being a bit annoying to get something like this if you have a dark skin tone, but for my pale skin this is a perfect match!

6) A.m.oK cosmetics | N.S.M Special Nail Lacquer

Imagine my excitement when I saw that they included not one but two nail polishes in this box! The shades I got are OR206 Juicy Fresh and PP516 Violet Tulip and once more I feel like I've really lucked out with the colours, as they're both shades I'll happily wear. In contrast, I've seen some pretty horrendous glitter shades in other boxes while writing up this review. These two actually make me think Halloween nails, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

7) Kepaclub | Maxi Lip Tint Glow

This lipstick/balm hybrid has got to be my favourite item from the box. The packaging is very reminiscent of Dior lipsticks, albeit with a much cheaper execution. The colour, however, is absolutely stunning. I can't make out which one of the three colour choices I received, but I did noticed that mine seems to be a lot more pigmented than other people's - or perhaps it just shows up better on my light skin? I just realised that I forgot to take a picture of the lipstick bullet (#bloggerfail), but you can see the colour in the swatch image below. It's a beautiful rosy pink and exactly the colour which springs to my mind when I think about Korean make-up. I don't ever want to take it off again.

And as promised, here are all make-up products swatched up.

L-R: N.S.M Soft Moose Waterproof Liquid Line in 550 Elegance Purple // Dual Concealer in 02 // Maxi Lip Tint Glow (shade unknown)

After opening my box I browsed a few other reviews online and was quite stunned to find that they were overwhelmingly negative. While I'm really not a fan of the soapy hair spray scent, I'm really happy with all the other products and I can genuinely see myself using all of them. I think in part I was really lucky with the colours I received, as they're all extremely pretty and very wearable.
I'm quite impressed that there were eight full sized products in my box and they're all exciting brands that I've never heard of. I also really like the fact that I don't have to commit to a subscription, but I can buy as many (or as few) boxes as and when I like. In fact, I'm already rummaging for my credit card to order my next one...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review: Seventeen Phwoarr Paint

After mentioning this concealer at every given opportunity for the past six months or so, I think it's about time it finally got its very own review. To cut a long story short, I absolutely love this stuff. So much so, I actually think it's better than the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer, as far as drugstore products are concerned - whoa, big statement there, I know.

This stuff will literally cover everything. I have hereditary dark circles, so even though lifestyle choices do make a difference (getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, yada yada...), nothing seems to make them go away entirely. Even most concealers fail miserably at covering them up and stopping me from looking like something that's just crawled out of a cave. Save this.

This is exactly what it says on the tin: A thick, heavy duty concealer that stays put pretty much all day. Now, I definitely wouldn't recommend this for the undereye area if you find that you already get quite a lot of dryness there, as something as thick and heavy as this will only cling to dry patches. On my combination skin, however, this stays exactly where I applied it without sliding off and I only see a little bit of creasing in the inner corners at the end of a long day - a price I will happily pay in return for the amazing coverage this concealer offers.

Seventeen Phwoarr Paint in Fair - swatched in natural light
Other than under the eyes, this also does a phenomenal job at covering up any blemishes or red patches. I find that a lot of thick, heavy concealers can emphasise the area more than they cover it by clinging to the dry skin around a blemish, but not so with this. I'd say it's almost like a cream to powder consistency, which allows you enough time to blend things in properly before it sets.
As you can see above, the shade fair is pretty much a perfect match for me, but as with most drugstore products, the shade range is very limited and there are currently only two colours available: Fair (great for pale girls like me!) and Medium.

September Wish List

September Wish List
Aztec Print Cape, Topshop, £32 // Jumper With Unicorn, Asos, £35 // Snoopy Print Sweatshirt, Forever 21, £15 // Horn Necklace, & Other Stories, £17 // Vernis in Massai, Dior, £18.50 // Suede Treasure Lariat, Free People, £23 // Sophie Logo Mule Slippers, River Island, £14 // Festival Stone Ring, Asos, £10 // Free Falling Tapestry Print Dress, Free People, £98 // Mia Shirt, Monki, £35 // Etched Band Ring, Free People, £14 // Marled Over-the-knee Socks, Forever 21, £4

Apologies for being a bit quiet on the blogging front lately. The past few months have seen me working at several festivals, so when I wasn't sat in a tent or dancing about in various weather conditions, I spent my days recovering from the muddy, smelly mess they all eventually turned into. But, I digress, I'm definitely back with a list of things I've been lusting over lately. Since my last published wish list (which was some time back in May I think....?) I've been definitely veering more towards more boho and hippie pieces than I used to.

Partly to blame for that is my discovery of Free People. While their clothes are definitely not on the affordable side of the spectrum (at least for me), everything they make is just so. damn. beautiful. Please can I just have every single item on their website?

As it's now definitely getting colder and darker outside by the day, it's also time to think about pieces that will keep me warm and cozy. The Topshop cape is sold out online, but I've seen it stocked in a few stores, so all is not lost. I feel like this winter I'm definitely going for a cape over a traditional coat or jacket. Who doesn't like an extra element of swishiness (technical term) added to their outfit? And yes, those are slippers you can see up there. Possibly the only thing that can get getting out of bed on cold mornings halfway bearable.

Of course, my wish list wouldn't be my wish list without a few prints thrown in for good measure. Unicorn sweater? Snoopy jumper? Psychedelic demon eye shirt? Count me in!

And to top things off nicely, this Dior nail polish in Massai is the perfect grown up autumnal red to embrace the golden lights that September brings.