Friday, May 30, 2014

May Favourites

This month has been spent testing and trialling both new and existing items in my cupboards as I try and declutter the hoards of products filling cupboards and drawer space so today's favourites feature a mix from those. In the case of the products I'm talking about today they are the ones I reached for when I didn't want to risk trying something new and wanted something I could rely on or knew would be a hit.

Bare Minerals Original SPF 15 Foundation link
This was the first foundation I decided to use when I turned 30 and felt I needed more coverage but wasn't keen on the typical liquid alternatives. With a lax skincare regime at the time one of it's selling points was that if I did fail to remove it there was less damage being caused to my skin. I have repurchased this on a number of occasions and it's come in handy on the few hot days we've had when I didn't want to risk foundation slipping off my face.

Nars NARSissist Eye Palette link
Sold out in the UK but still available from Sephora if you're desperate to get your hands on this was my first Nars purchase and I'm more than happy I made the dash to Selfridges to pick it up. 15 eyeshadows in a sleek palette enabling multiple looks it has been thrown in my make up bag on many occasions this month. Despite buying on it's initial release I'd been reluctant to dive in  and do not know why I waited so long. This palette is perfect for travel and will certainly be accompanying me on my next holiday. 

Maybelline Master Glaze Cream Blush, Pink Fever link
I picked up three of these Maybelline cream blush sticks in the US last month and love how easy they are to use - literally swipe, blend and go. I will be popping a full review of these up very soon as whilst I appreciate they are not available in the UK they are well worth tracking down and are great for days when you don't want to think too much about putting on blush.

NYX Matte Lipstick, Shocking Pink link
Another US purchase I picked up as a dupe for Mac's Candy Yum Yum. Despite it's matte finish this has a creamy application and I don't find my lips dry out at all which is often the case with many matte lipsticks I wear. For day I dab this on the lips lightly and it lasts longer than many other lipsticks do on me. If I'm heading out after work I swipe more heavily and build it up for the brighter more 'shocking pink' tone.

Once Upon a Time link
This month has most definitely been dominated by the TV series Once Upon a Time. In just two weeks I managed to work my way through two series of the show having missed its initial airing. From creators of the series Lost, Once Upon a Time features our well known and loved fairy tale characters who due to a curse have had their memories wiped and now live in the present day in a town called Storybrook. Each episode has two stories, one in Storybrook and another from the past as their ‘real’ storybook character which provides us the history of who they are today. Spoiler Alert - By series two the curse has been lifted but not a return to the Enchanted Forest so again more trials and tribulations are ahead.

The series had a possibility that it could’ve been rather cheesy but that is not the case and I’m pleased to see the female characters are particularly dominating very much changing our Disney perceptions of Snow White. I especially loved the early episodes as you saw two versions of the same person and how they differ in their new world from the old and where there are some personality traits that won’t go away – I always think it’s testament to an actor when they can essentially play two parts in the same show and convince the actor of the differences, much like Elena and Catherine in The Vampire Diaries, which I despite being another show I love it’s nice to have one that isn’t about Vampires. 

What have you been loving this month, let me know in the comments. Now I'm off to try and track down where I can watch Series 3 of Once Upon a Time.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée - Getaway Red

Last summer Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée’s were talked about by all our favourite YouTubers and Beauty Bloggers so of course they were added to my American wish list. When I touched down in Las Vegas last year my first stop was of course Sephora and I headed straight for the Josie Maran concession.

Unfortunately the very attractive little pots fell a little flat and I wasn't impressed enough to make the purchase and thought them too sheer for my tastes. Fast forward months later, Sephora is shipping to the UK and the Cheek Gelee craze is back and despite my initial thoughts it made it's way back on to the wish list for another try.

On our arrival in San Francisco and after a late lunch Ben decided to head back to our hotel for a disco nap, I decided to go to Sephora. Again I headed for the pretty colour pots from Josie Maran. Having recently watched a video from Sally Hughes about colour matching your blush and lipstick (you can find the video here) I was somewhat obsessed with finding a red blush to compliment my red lips so decided to give Getaway Red a try hoping the sheer abilities would avoid any comparisons to Aunt Sally (if you’re too young to know who Aunt Sally is I don’t want to know!).

Again I was unimpressed but swiped some across my cheeks that were lacking after our 10 flight from London and my opinion were changed. Instantly I had a flush of colour and looked awake and refreshed, it was quite remarkable and the $22 pot was immediately purchased.

Since returning to the UK I have chosen to wear this blush on many occasions. I love the ease of applying with my fingers and the flush of colour it adds to my cheeks. Sheer enough to not scare anyone but enough to take effect. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t buy this from Oahu when I travelled there as it was where Josie Maran actually lived, on one of the beaches that she came up with the idea for this product. No the coconut water isn’t a marketing gimmick, this little gelee’s are infused with 50% pure coconut water.

As for lasting power they do rather well and I’ve seen some reviews that say they don’t work well with powder foundations but I’ve not found that to be the case. At the weekend I was wearing Bare Minerals powder foundation with Getaway Red and went from an epic shopping trip round London to a family BBQ later that day and my blush was still going strong. I’ve included a photo of me wearing it below.

I especially love the packaging, reminiscent of the Bobbi Brown cream blush pots before they changed the packaging. With colour coded lids you know exactly what product you’re reaching for which makes early morning make up grabs less stressful. For $22 it’s certainly not the cheapest of blushes but I’ve used mine frequently and there’s barely any dent to be seen.

I’m heading back to the States in September and it’s quite likely another of these little beauties will find its way into my life.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wet n Wild Fergie Shimmer Palette

 Wet n Wild Fergie Shimmer Palette link

Whilst in the US it was the drugstores that stole my heart rather than Sephora. During my trip I spent some time on Pinterest (find me here) searching for high end dupes that could be picked up in the drugstore and one that caught my eye was Wet n Wild’s Rose Champagne Glow palette. Firstly do we call this a palette? Not important? Ok let’s move on.

This highlighter is huge, especially in comparison to the Charlotte Tilbury Bar of Gold and based on my highlighter usage I can see this lasting forever. Price at only approximately five dollars it’s a bargain and worth every penny. I already mentioned in my April favourites (see them here) that I’m having a love affair with highlighters and the Wet n Wild addition to the Fergie collection has only encouraged this.

Where the Charlotte Tilbury Bar of Gold leans towards the golden champagne shades, Wet n Wild’s as the name suggests provides a rose champagne glow from the baked mosaic trio of peaches, pinks and beige and compliments pink blushes nicely. I’ve been reaching for this almost daily such is it’s subtle pearl finish. There is no glitter here which is often the case with drugstore highlighters and just a pretty glow that helps fool people into believing I’m full of beans even after a heavy night.

It is heavily pigmented so use with a light hand by day and build up at night. My investigations also tell me that it can be used wet or dry so I will be trying that out when I have a night out planned.

As for its dupe status I’m told it’s a dupe for Mac Mineralise Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle, again I don’t have anything to compare but all I know is that I don’t need to find out, I’m happy with my drugstore version. If we were to be critical is it a little too big and is the packaging rather bulky and cheap looking? Maybe but not so it bothers me and I’ve found I can pop this on in the morning and happily leave the palette at home safe in the knowledge it has some staying powder and touch ups aren’t necessary.

What do you think,of drugstore highlighters, do you have a favourite?

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What I Got for my Birthday 2014

The downside of going on holiday two days after my birthday was that I had little time to go enjoy my presents that I kindly received from friends and family and more importantly share with you. As you can see I was spoilt and missing from this post is the Canon EOS M camera my parents gave me whilst I still try to work out how to use it and whether I actually like it or not!

It was fun to return from my holiday and not only unpack my suitcase but go through the gift bags I'd hurriedly tidied away my gifts and remember what I'd received as well as enjoy the ones I was able to buy with dollars kindly gifted.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

May Empties

After Aprils' bumper three part empties posts normal service resumes with a smaller selection of products to talk about this month.

Margaret Dabbs Exfoliating Foot Mousse link
I reviewed the Exfoliating Foot Mousse from Margaret Dabbs here but in short I’m not entirely certain my feet require a separate scrub beyond whatever body scrub I'm using at the time. This mousse/scrub was a lot of money and purchased in a moment of madness - I won’t be repurchasing as there wasn't anything special about it for the price and more importantly I hated the scent.

L'Oreal Elnett Satin Heat Styling Spray link
For some reason I really didn’t enjoy using the L’Oreal Heat Styling Spray for no reason other than I hated the packaging, or more specifically the trigger pump. I found the press button lock a pain to activate and unnecessary for my needs and whether we blame my being left handed or not it just felt cack-handed to use. The product itself worked fine, it didn’t make hair greasy or add extra weight and no frizz to speak of. I would repurchase but not if there was an alternative available and since thinking fondly of Vo5 Plump It Up Amplifying Volume Blow Dry Lotion I have used in the past (you can read about that in this post) that's what I have since repurchased.

Leo Bancroft Blissfully Bouncy Volumising Shampoo link
I picked up this shampoo on one of my supermarket grocery shops (anyone else feel like buying beauty products in Tesco does't count towards the usual spend?) as I hadn't seen or heard anything about it and why not give it a try. Overall it was just pretty nondescript. Some days I liked the results, others not so much and that was more often the case.

Hydraluron Moisture Boosting Mask link
Hydraluron in it's serum form isn't the holy grail product for me as it is for many others but that didn't stop me giving the Moisture Boosting Mask's a try when they were released a month or two ago. Where the serum failed for me this succeeds. I much prefer popping one of these masks on when I feel like my skin needs a hydration boost, whether that's the night before a big occasion or the morning after. They came in handy last month as I popped a few of these in my case for use between flights - I wasn't brave enough to wear on the plane though, especially after my friend told me I looked like the scary person off of the tv show Luther!

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish link
I took a tube of cleanse and polish on holiday with me as I know I can rely on this cleanser day and night whether it's to help wake me up in the morning or remove make up at night. At home I usually use Cleanse & Polish as my morning cleanser but for travel when I don't want the fuss or extra bottles of balms and the like this comes in handy and I know I'll be able to maintain my skincare regimes - there's a reason this cleanser is a multiple award winner.

Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser link
Sadly I don't share the same love for the moisturiser as I do cleanse and polish. With a handy travel sized tube I took this on holiday wondering if my opinion would change and unfortunately it didn't. Whilst the product itself works fine for on my skin I can't bear the scent, it's just a little off for me.

Neal's Yard Power Berry Daily Moisturiser link
This moisturiser has to go down in history as the longest lasting, it felt like I was using this forever. It was actually a magazine freebie that I tried and wasn't a fan of as it was too heavy for my skincare around the warmer months when I initially used. Then Winter hit and I found that a few dry spots were appearing and impacting on my Make Up Forever HD Foundation application. I pulled the Neal's Yard Moisturiser out of the drawer and it cleared up the dry patches nicely and all was forgiven.

Kiehls Line Reducing Concentrate link
Kiehls Line Reducing Concentrate is billed as the morning version of the Midnight Recover Concentrate I talked about here. When I was sold this product the sales assistant told me a story about how someone used this other than botox. Whilst I haven't tried botox I think it's fair of me to say that this product didn't work miracles but as I mentioned in my MyChelle Skin Analysis here (and it's worth mentioning again!) I only have 25% wrinkles at 35 so maybe it did do something.

Erborian BB Creme Au Ginseng link
I can't quite say why I love the Erborian BB Creme Au Ginseng but I really do and was prepared to repurchase until I received a new tube for my birthday. This was my go to base product last Summer after receiving in the Selfridges Beauty Box and I will be turning to it again this Summer. Lightweight and working with your own skin tones to create a natural shade this is a must have for me.

Sure Maximum Protection Deodorant link
I've talked about Sure Maximum Protection Deodorant in a number of posts before (you can read them here) and it has been repurchased on a number of occasions so I think that is enough said. I made the mistake of trying another brand recently (stay tuned for May empties) and it just did not match the Sure standards.

Anything spark your interest from the list, let me know in the comments.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

American Beauty Haul

I won't go into too much detail on the items photographed above and I'm somewhat ashamed to admit this isn't inclusive of everything I hauled back from the US following April's American adventure but I thought you'd enjoy a nose into my shopping bags.

As you can tell from the photos there is a lot of drugstore goodies from the likes of Physician's Formula and Milani which we can't get hold of in the UK and even, shock horror, face wipes which I've used on a couple of occasions since my return and am thoroughly enjoying.

I am still getting around to trying out many of the other products and finding what are the hits and misses from my new stash and I hope to bring you some more in depth posts on the items featured but I will say I used one of the Milani lipsticks last week and I've never known a lipstick to last so long on my lips.

Let me know if there is anything you're particularly interested in hearing more about.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Wet Brush or the Tangle Teezer

Is there anyone else who like me thought the whole Tangle Teezer love was a big of a fad? Despite friends having Tangle Teezer's in their handbags I couldn't get my head round this small odd shaped brush being of any use and stuck with my trusty, traditional Denmans brushes quite happily.

I first had an opportunity to use a Tangle Teezer when I received the Aqua Splash version in a Selfridges Beauty Box. I had to concede that the Aqua Splash was rather good at sorting through the tangled mess that my hair could be in but again the shape was rather odd to me and I couldn't quite get the grip on it right (shall I blame my left handedness?). That said it now sits in my bathroom and is a faithful companion when I want to brush a conditioners and masks through my locks.

The more traditional Tangle Teezer style that we know and love was a gift in a goodie bag last year and I still wasn't in any rush to give it a try but ended up throwing this into my hand luggage bag for my recent holiday as it's detachable and protective cover would stop the inevitable attack that I would receive form my usual brush as the teeth found their way under my nails when rummaging around. Ok I get it they're a bloody good brush for brushing the tangles out of your hair and I'm sure there's many of us who wishes these were around when we were children and could have avoided some hideous incidents with our parents and hairbrush at bedtimes.

Then there was a new kid in town, Tangle Teezers were forgotten and it was all about the Wet Brush. Hailing from American a few bloggers had posted reviews prior to my trip and were singing it's praises so of course it was one of those things I jotted down to look out for. Again I still wasn't too fussed, the Tangle Teezer was good but it hadn't changed my life and again, I had the trusty Denmans brush that worked perfectly well for my needs and to be frank, the Wet Brush didn't really look anything special.

I didn't find it in any of the drugstores, I even tried a couple of hair salons when passing and received blank stares. I did find them in one store but aesthetics got the better of me and I didn't like the design so I passed up on it. Then whilst strolling the aisles of Target I came across the pink beauty and when I saw the price (barely £5) it was worth trying.

It wasn't until I got home that I gave the Wet Brush a try and I love it. For one I love the fact it's a traditional style of a brush with a handle (which is non slip to avoid those hair flying out your hand moments, come on we've all had them!) which makes it easier for me to use than the palm of the hand style of the Tangle Teezer.

Brushing my hair seems like such a quicker task now and whilst my hair has never been too much of a trauma any struggles with knots are in the past which my research tells me is down to the 'intelliflex' technology giving the thin, strong and flexible bristles 'brains'! Whether the ball tip bristles are stimulating circulation near my scalp, feeding my follicles and encouraging new growth is yet to be seen.

The great news about the Wet Brush is that Cult Beauty have got their hands on them so UK residents can easily buy them although sadly for double the price of those in easy reach of a Target in the US.

Have you tried the Wet Brush yet or are you a Tangle Teezer fan?

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bulk Beauty Buy | L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil Eco-Refill link

I have mentioned on numerous occasions my love for L'Occitane's Almond Shower Oil, it's the best thing for shaving not to mention it's amazing scent and I've lost count of the numerous bottles I've used over the years.

My mum had clearly picked up on the fact so she gave me this bumper 500ml refill pouch keep me in stock for the rest of the year. Unfortunately I foolishly forgot to keep hold of my original bottle from last months empties here so I popped into Muji and picked up one of their refillable bottles and voila we're back in business.

A 250ml bottle of Almond Shower Oil is £17.50 compared to the 500ml pouch at £23.50 saving yourself a whooping £11.50 as well as aiding the environment, what more could you ask for?

What do you think of these refillable options, do you think more brands should offer similar?

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Facial Oil Favourites

Until recently the thought of using an oil on my skin seemed completely alien to me - wouldn't it just make it oiler? Thankfully I've realised the error of my ways and using a facial oil as part of my evening skincare routine has become something I enjoy reaching for at bedtime. I currently have four in rotation to tell you about today.

Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate link
Kiehls was my first step into the 'oil' arena and one I grew to love very quickly and my word does this bottle seem to go on forever. Until recently it was my oil of choice and used frequently but the contents are still going strong and this is because a few small drops are enough to cover the face and set to work.
The scent is the perfect accompaniment to aid sleep due to lavender essential oil (a scent I'm usually not a fan of) and I awake with hydrated skin that looks wide awake even on the nights when I have tossed and turned.

Palmers Skin Therapy Face Oil* link
Having been such a fan of Kiehl's Midnight Recovery I was interested to see how Palmers Skin Therapy would compare. Often where skincare is concerned we go for the higher end of the market assuming that's where the good products are which is not necessarily the case where Palmers Skin Therapy Face Oil is concerned. Palmer's have sat back and watched everyone putting out their oils so they could get there's just right and I'm impressed. Palmers Skin Therapy Oil feels much thicker than the Kiehls offering but in no way heavier just a little more greasier, not that this concerns me as I apply my oils before climbing into bed. For less than half the price of Kiehl's you are getting a fantastic oil that contains Retinol and Vitamin C as well as excluding parabens. I certainly find this helps again with a glowing appearance come morning.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil link
I picked up a little duo featuring the Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil (and a cleansing oil which I'll tell you about another day) whilst on holiday and sadly this is my least favourite of those I'm mentioning today.
On application the oil felt thick yet soaked into the skin almost immediately so it's was drier than I would expect after using one of these products as because of the previous two mentioned I like to enjoy them on my skin and working in overnight. The good news is that Josie Maran Argan Oil can be used for a multitude of purposes such as treating split ends and cuticles so I think I'll try that instead.

Tarte Maracuja Oil link
I first received the Tarte Maracuja Oil as a reward gift with some Sephora purchases last year and it was thrown to the back of the drawer. When new's of Tarte coming to the UK via QVC I thought it was time to dig it out and give it a test run and cursed myself for leaving it so long. The Maracuja Oil sits between Keihls and Palmers in texture and like the Josie Maran Argan Oil is quick to soak into the skin. The great thing about the size of the bottle is that it's ideal for travel and was what I took on holiday as my night treatment, slightly concerned that the use of oils whilst in a hot location I'd suffer from oily skin but I had nothing to fear.

So there you have my four facial oil picks, what are yours?

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Laura Geller Forgotten Make Up

Laura Geller Make Up link

I'm currently in the midst of a make up spring clean which has allowed me to discover some forgotten favourites and those I'm talking about today are from Laura Geller. American readers will find Laura Geller make up on sale in Ulta but for us Brits it's found on QVC and if any of you have ever watched Laura you will be familiar with her best selling balance and brighten foundation, a product I remember using many years ago when I purchased on of her TSV's.

A TSV set is where I discovered the eye shadow colours Pink Icing and Devils Food. As you can see the first was duo and I used Pink Icing and went on to purchase a full size such was my love at the time and they are in the familiar Laura Geller style of multiple shades swirled together and baked for 24 hours to achieve what you see in the pan. Both are easy and wearable shades, sufficiently pigmented for an everyday make up look and I've enjoyed throwing these into my make up bag on days when I don't want to put much thought into what goes onto my eyes.

The blush I own is the Baked Brûlée Blush in Apple Custard which came via my friend Rose for my birthday and when I initially swatched this prior to applying I thought it was going to be a bit too much on the shimmery side for me but in fact I loved it. The bronze and pink shades swirled together give a soft pink colour which as I read somewhere and perfectly describes gives a pearl finish rather than the shimmer I was fearing and it doesn't highlight my pores. As my previous favourites post told you I'm enjoying wearing a highlighter lately although don't tend to bother during the week for work, this blush gives me that look without the extra product. It's also long lasting and was still in place after a days work and was part of the reason I reignited my love for Laura Geller products.

Another product via Rose is the GlamLASH Dramatic Volumizing Mascara which I've really taken to. Said to achieve the glamour of old Hollywood with it's thickening and lengthening formula I was really impressed with how my lashes appeared after application. I've just read a review that someone applied with the Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara which is a favourite so I will definitely be giving that a try.

Finally is the Spackle Supercharged Primer*, I'm sure I remember Laura Geller talking about her Spackle primers long before Primers were 'a thing' so I was pleased to give this a try alongside the other primers I wear now. If you're not a fan of silicone-based primer formulas then you will likely prefer the Laura Geller Spackle as it's more gel like in texture. The tube I have comes with a roller application which I find too much of a faff in the mornings if I'm honest and I prefer to roll into my hands and apply but on warmer days or those where I have a bit more time there is a certain luxury about applying this with the roller. 

Have you ever tried anything from Laura Geller, I'd love to know if there are any other fans out there.

*PR Sample 
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Dinner at Nobu, Waikiki Beach

Nobu, Waikiki Beach link

Everyone talks about Nobu restaurants but they have never been on my 'must visit' list due to my (false) assumption they only sold seafood which I do not eat. On arrival in Hawaii we spotted Waikiki Beach's branch was located across the road from our hotel and with Ben's assurances they sold steak we made a reservation.

They also sold cocktails which I duly got started on whilst perusing the menu. It did make us laugh as Nobu have a one drink policy in that you cannot have your next before finishing your other. Obviously this was no problem for me and I did rather enjoy my glass being whipped away and replaced with another immediately.

Ben and I both put ourselves in the hands of our knowledgeable waiter. Ben was easy, he wanted to try lot's of fresh fish and went for the whooping multiple course chef's selection, my options were limited. I explained that I didn't eat seafood but didn't want to go down the obvious route of an everyday steak. He recommended the Beef Tobanyaki which was thinly sliced steak (I couldn't stray too far!) cooked in a clay bowl served with a broth and vegetables. I can honestly say that during my trip I sampled a lot of steak and this was the best I had, days after I was still talking about how melt in the mouth it was.

Of course I needed something else other than cocktails during Ben's multiple plate offerings so I also tried their tempura vegetables which were better than the heavily battered offerings I've had in the past not to mention huge chunks of vegetables rather than the smaller slivers I was expecting.

In for a penny we indulged in dessert, the chocolate Bento Box cake for Ben and Drunken Cherry Tobanyaki for me, again both were delicious and the perfect end to our meal and we were thankful it was only a matter of a few steps to return to our hotel. After so much food and drink I climbed straight into bed, Ben made me laugh that on arriving to our hotel room he poured two glasses of wine, took them to the balcony and turned round to see me in bed snoring away!

Prepare for some foodie shots…

Is it just me or is anyone else hungry?

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