Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nip+Fab Viper Venon Frown Fix and Micro Blur Review

Kylie Jenner may be almost as well known as big sister Kim for her selfies and apparently one of her secrets is Nip+Fab Viper Venom Micro Blur Fix*. Always keen to channel my inner Khardashian/Jenner I was happy to give this product a try.

Nip+Fab clearly know everyone loves a good selfie these days and this latest addition to the Viper Venom range will prime, blur and mattify your skin for a flawless complexion. It will do all the usual things you expect from a primer, reduce appearance of pores and diminish oil. It also contacts their 'wonder ingredient' SYN-AKE to instantly freeze lines. No botox required apparently.

My usual primer is Benefits Porefessional so I was keen to see how this compared but immediately I noticed the products were very different whilst achieving many of the same things. Nip+Fab's Micro Blur is clean and thicker in consistancy compared to Benefits silicone based and slightly tinted offering. Nip+Fab have a clear offering so it almost doesn't 'show' until you start layering on your make up and see how well it is sitting. I do find with Porefessional I can instantly see my pores reduced, or at least believe them to have been whereas the tackier Nip+Fab seems undetected to the naked eye and more subtle.

That is not to say I don't enjoy it and have been using regularly and my make up is applying nicely and by finding it less obvious to the skin I don't feel I have piled on too many products. I used to have the misguided impression that using primer would be the reason my make up would last all day but now I'm realising its more the foundation, than foundation itself to making that happen.

You might think otherwise but I don't think I have too many lines to worry about and I can't say that I found that using this primer froze them but it certainly didn't sit in them and provided that aforementioned base for foundation to sit nicely.

I think there's definitely a place for Nip+Fab Micro Blur alongside my Benefit Porefessional but it's worth noting for the budget conscious amongst us that Nip+Fab comes in at £20 for 40mls compared to half that for the same price at Benefit. If you're not a fan of silicone primers Nip+Fab could well be the way to go if you're looking for an instant soft focus look for your selfies.

Also in my package from Nip+Fab and in the same Viper Venom range is Frown Fix* which comes in a brush pen application method. Again SYN-AKE is the wonder ingredient to freeze those expression lines and wrinkles and the brush method does make it a different and more targeted approach to application but I actually prefer to put product in my hands and massage into my face. It felt a bit more of an effort to brush in and then still blend in with fingers. Perhaps this would be better received by someone with more prominent lines that they wanted to give attention to.

Application method aside as a serum containing hyaluronic acid for hydrating properties this was handy to take on the plane with me during my recent holiday and a great size for travelling purposes. I think I prefer a serum with a little more oomph about it and this is maybe more suited to those trying to move onto the next stage of their skincare regime or if you're more worried about specific lines that are starting to appear.

Have you tried either of these products from Nip+Fab?

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Loreal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation

The US appears to have fully embraced the Korean trend for cushion foundations and despite offerings being available from the likes of Lancome and even Marks and Spencer on the high street it feels like we're still being a little slow to catch up.

I certainly hadn't given much thought about them until I saw L'Oreal's drugstore offering until American YouTubers started raving about L'Oreal's True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation. It was added to my shopping list hoping that I would be able to get a head start before it reaches the UK. Which I shall add I hope is very soon as I'm loving it.

This is the first cushion foundation offering from the favoured high street brands although there is one available from KIKO in CC Cream form currently at 30% off priced at around £11. I paid $16.99 in the States which works out around £11 so it'll be interesting to see on it's release here what price point it'll be but I expect around that point.

Whilst I've mentioned some other cushion foundations available the only other on my radar was really Lancome's offering released last year and we know who owns them, L'Oreal so one would make the assumption that we might have a high street dupe on our hands.

I'm unable to compare to Lancome Miracle Foundation other than by facts, such as packaging differences for example but the biggest thing to note is that Lancome offer a refillable compact, and the refills are priced at approx £13 on Feel Unique. This isn't something that worries me too much, especially as I tend to prefer to make a fresh purchase rather than refill packaging which I'm sure would get messy and the lid scratched.

Both the Lancome and L'Oreal cushion compacts seem very similar. The cushion portion is plastic and a shiny lid, Lancomes in Silver and L'Oreal in Rose Gold which I'm sure will make it more popular and instagram worthy.

Your L'Oreal compact opens to reveal a mirror in the lid and a slim face sponge. You open the further sealed compartment and reveal your foundation soaked sponge. If anyone else has walked past the Lancome counted and scrunched their nose up at the dried out sponge on Lancome counters you might agree with me that even in its moist state the cushions for these foundations look like those cheap dish sponges you can find in Tesco's.

I have to confess I'm not too interested in the science and reasoning behind why and how certain foundation formulas are put together, for me I'm in interested in how it feels and looks on my own skin. In short it looks flawless and feels so lightweight.

I have been using this pretty regularly as despite initially thinking the whole process would be cumbersome I actually find it both quick, easy and pretty therapeutic. So used to buffing foundation in with a brush or slap dash with my fingers this sits somewhere in the middle. I thought I'd find the sponge application technique outdated but I could literally see my skin being smoothed like I was applying my very own instagram filter. Its a light to medium 'luminous finish' depending on how you like to build up. For days of running errands I could use just a few swipes but when wanting a heavier coverage just keep smoothing on. I also found it easier for me to apply and build up in areas that needed more attention than with other application tools.

There's a lot of talk about the hygiene aspect of cushion foundations which I'm not sure I understand. If you're using your fingers for application (something I've not tried yet) wash them and it's not different than popping them into your cream blush. Likewise wash the sponge applicator as often as you do your brushes. It would be nice to able to buy more of those separately though. My biggest issue right now is how long will this foundation last before it dries up as I'm sure that will factor into whether the price is practical and affordable. I'm very diligent to ensure that I tighten the inner lid after use for fear of speeding up that drying process. My SIL also picked this up and says that she found after 2 weeks it felt drier than day one and as I'm now a few months into it's purchase and of course as a 'blogger' I'm using numerous products over the course of the months so the Loreal Cushion Foundation is picked up here and there (usually when I'm in a rush!) and I have found it's not as 'wet' as it was originally but I'm still able to use.

This is also the perfect foundation for those of us that like to apply make up on the go as it is so compact and all you need is the enclose sponge. I could quite happily use this on the train without worrying about getting messy fingers or pulling out brushes.

If I were to note one thing which some may class as a negative it would be the lack of SPF but as someone who applies separately I'm not worried.

As mentioned my SIL also picked this up and she is very picky about her make up products and swears by Estee Lauder Double Wear but this has got her hooked and like me we're both panicking we may run out before it hits the high street.

Have you tried any cushion foundations before and will you be lining up to try L'Oreal's? Word is it's hitting stores next month.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Intimate Skincare with Femfresh

Vagina. Fanny. Muff. Front Bottom. Mini.
Right now we've got that out of the way let me begin.

Last year Femfresh started appearing in blog posts and on YouTube videos and there was a lot of sniggers and references to 'down there' and of course the 'I can't believe they're sponsored by Femfresh' judgements. I say any public conversations about the more taboo or embarrassing subjects is a good thing and I appreciate it might be a little harder to discuss a feminine hygiene wash than your favourite lipstick but if it helps break that small barrier for someone then that's a good thing.

I must admit being in my late thirties and not being someone who is embarrassed about going into Tesco and buying tampons and the like I did still have a moment of embarrassment and thought 'do I really need to blog about this' when I received Femfresh Intimate Hygiene Daily Wash*.  There was also the nostalgia moment of a friend who I remember had issues with ensuring her nether regions were in tip top, fresh smelling condition and would douse herself in various Femfresh products. And yes despite my bravado it did cross my mind that I should hide this product from my cleaner so she doesn't see it sitting in my bathroom.

If you're reading this post clearly I got over all my issues and hit publish. So besides the cause of school ground sniggers and the misplaced view that you must be 'dirty' what is Femfresh Daily Wash?

Femfresh Intimate Hygiene Daily Wash is specifically formulated for your  'intimate areas' to help maintain a healthy ph-balance. Quite simply your 'intimate area' has a lower ph level than the rest of your body and requires a little extra care. You use a facial cleanser on your face right? Wouldn't dream of washing your face in Radox Shower Gels? Run out of your favourite moisturiser? You wouldn't reach for your favourite foot cream in a pinch would you? Well that logic is what should be applied to Femfresh and where it's place in your bath time routine should be.

It's quite possible you're using your favourite shower gel and lather away happily between your legs and have experienced no problems whatsoever and admittedly I'm one of those people too. Whilst I've reached for this intimate wash and used quite happily I've not noticed any difference so I think it's very much down to your personal needs and preferences, especially as it can be a bit of a faff (no pun intended!) swapping between products for different areas.

I do favour using Femfresh Daily Wash at that time of the month when things feel extra grubby and it's a time to be more gentle and imagine this would be a great product if you're of a more sensitive nature. In short you have nothing to be embarrassed about if you use Femfresh products, quite the opposite in fact.

So come on, be brave, be proud has Femfresh made a difference to your bathing routine?

*this post contains press samples

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Monday, March 28, 2016

The Adult Colouring Book Trend

People scoff about the current trend for adult colouring books but I for one could not be happier. I've always loved colouring books and over the years I've even brought children's ones just to satisfy my needs to relax by doing some colouring in.

One fond memory is of a trip I took to Florida many years ago with my cousins. I had come armed with colouring books and pens for the flight which my teenage cousin mocked me for. Unfortunately our plane didn't have individual tv sets that we're familiar with today and ten hours with limited entertainment makes for a very boring environment.

Halfway through my flight when he could suffer boredom no more he asked for some colouring pages to relieve his boredom. Now I'm sure he'd be less mocking due to all manner of titles that are available to us today. Even my recent trip to Florida I was armed with Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland versions to meet the needs of both the adults and younger members of our party.

Those I'm talking about today are the more calming variety, one a gift from my friend and another I was recently sent for review both providing the perfect activity for this Easter weekend

Colour Yourself Calm is a 'mindfulness-inspired' colouring book which includes 33 colour mandalas with accompanying black and white templates for you to copy. A Mandalas is a design that draws your eye to the centre and therefore focuses the mind, therefore allowing you to relax the mind, body and spirit and relieve stress whilst exploring your own inner creativity. Housed in hardback allowing you to colour in whenever you need to take a step back from the world. A perfect gift I received from a friend at Christmas.

One Year Wiser* is a book filled with 52 images based on the words of inspirational thinkers such as Gandhi by Mike Medaglia a Zen Buddhist practitioner. Like Colour Yourself Calm he recognises colouring books help adults to soothe and calm themselves and this One Year Wiser will aid empowerment and it's a great mix of full page images and smaller doodle like creations with the accompanying quotes. 

Are you a fan of the recent colouring book trend?

*this post contains press samples.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Yes to Coconut | For Dry Thirsty Hair

The YesTo range is making subtle waves in the beauty community and last year saw the arrival of YesTo Coconut range and I was able to try their Ultra Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner*.

I was keen to try both these products which are fairly priced at £5.99 for their high end competitors. Both containing Virgin Coconut and Kukui Seed Oil which will help condition and restore moisture for dry hair.

I have naturally oily hair so for me these were too powerful although they were nice for days when I'd perhaps been overzealous with heated appliances and needed some moisture.

Rather than waste these products I passed them on to a friend with dry hair who'd recently been using coconut oil to support her dry hair. She's been really impressed with these products and the appearance of her hair has changed for the better.

If you're struggling with dry hair check out this duo.

*this post contains press samples

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

The best nail polish for only $2

Aside from the fact I would hunt down Chanel Limited Edition Nail Colours like my life depended on it I wouldn't say that I was particularly bothered by nail polish. Of course now that I've abandoned acrylic nails I pay more attention to nail brands and I do often get tempted with new radical shades but as a general rule, and despite a sizeable selection of colours and shades I always revert back to my trusty reds.

For this reason I rarely devote time or space on my US shopping trips to buying nail polishes, from Rimmel to Barry M there are so many long lasting and affordable options it seems silly. I have picked up a Formula X polish from Sephora in my time and there was an Essie stage but otherwise it's often overlooked.

Roll back time to January as I prepared for my trip to Florida and I had planned a day off from work before my flight to pamper myself. My spray tan would be washed away and I would sit down with my Sensationail Nail Kit and save money on visiting the salon for gel nails, unfortunately my plans were thwarted by having to spend over two hours in a Facetime conference with my sister as we battled with Virgin Atlantic's online system to book our seats. A further unexpected visit from Ben meant that instead of this leisurely pampered I hurriedly was tackling my nails, exhausted at about 2am mere hours before I would leave for the airport.

As I discussed in my review of the Sensationail Gel System the most important part of application to ensure a long lasting finish is that you cap the nail tips with polish. This avoids lifting of the polish which will lead to them catching or chipping. I did not do this so after a matter of days my nails were in a right old state and I wasn't prepared to spend the remainder of the holiday that way.

After a visit to Walgreens I just picked up the cheapest nail polish in red I could find, Wet n Wild Megalast Salon Nail Color for a mere $2. What a bargain was all I thought but having returned from holiday and I'm still using the polish, and more importantly gave valuable space to it's return with me.

As I hadn't expected to be painting my nails during my trip I had no base or top coats to use which usually give any polish a bit of a helping hand. Instead once my gels were removed I applied Wet n Wild Magalast Nail Colour directly to my nails. Of course it wasn't the most smooth or shiny of finishes but after just one coat I was impressed about how opaque the colour went on and after the second I was quite happy with how they looked.

My SIL and I did have a second nail painting session during our trip which wasn't entirely necessary but was nice to make them look tip top once again. Since returning home I've been able to test with base and top coats and I'm even more impressed. As I type this post I'm nearly a week into wearing and there are no chips to speak off which is very rare for me.

This is one of the better nail polishes I've used and tips the scale for many better and more expensive brands. I'll definitely be seeking out one or two additional shades when I'm next in the US.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Menage Skincare for Men

My brother loves when he gets an opportunity to try out products thanks to blogging so when a recent delivery from Menage Mens Skincare arrived. As he left with his cries of 'swag' I allowed him to put the products to test and after his visit at the weekend asked for an update.

Menage Batch #001 Hydrating Antioxidant Gel* was a limited edition product and their strongest formula to date. Delivering moisture which often gets stripped from shaving and aftershave in addition to the usual elements. Reducing the signs of irritation and protecting against wrinkle-causing free radicals it'll leave skin hydrated which of course makes you look younger. 

I think we're far away from the assumption men don't like to look after the skin and I know that my brother is always keen to protect his face, especially due to his role as a fireman leaving his skin battling more elements than most. A small amount is applied like you would any regular moisturiser and you're good to go, paying extra attention to days when you've shaved. 

My brother said his skin was left looking refreshed and he that it didn't feel heavy on his skin like other products can. He's particularly a fan after shaving as he usually hates feeling tight or seeing redness that can often occur. 

Menage Hydrating Age Defence Gel* is a similar product from Menages regular line and is a lighter creamier product. With the protection against wrinkles and delivering moisture the difference with this product is a drier finish.

I asked my brother which he preferred and he couldn't say whether he preferred one more than the other finding they both did a similar job and neither left him disappointed. I asked if he would repurchase the products when they have run out and he said that the price might be prohibitive to him, although he is known to be very 'careful' with his cash. He did say that he'd ask for them as a gift though - in short he'd like someone else to pay for them. I think this is common of most men in that they don't look to the products quality and will just pick up what they find on offer when shopping.

*this post contains press samples

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rough and Bumpy Chicken Skin

Some time ago I had read another beauty bloggers US drugstore haul where they had mentioned picking up a body lotion for the, cue sarcasm, wonderfully named 'chicken skin' affliction. Chicken skin or to give it its official name 'Keratisis Pilaris' is those red bumps you find often on your arms or legs which no amount of exfoliating of body lotion seem to remove.

Last year I discovered Ameliorate Skin Smooth Body Lotion which worked a treat for mine. With only small patches on one of my calves and my knees from sitting cross legged the tube lasted quite well which was handy as it's priced at £27.50 - quite a lot for a body lotion in normal terms.

I was keen to repurchase another tube of Ameliorate when prior to heading to Florida I remembered reading another beauty bloggers US Drugstore haul where they had found many body lotions to tackle KP. With a mental note in mind I scoured the shelves of Walmart and came across Gold Bond Ultimate, Rough & Bumpy Skin Daily Therapy Cream which was priced just under $10 for a large tub. What a bargain would this be if it worked.

With claims that 90% of users found their skin had been improved I hoped I was onto a winner and it seems that I am. As I'd come to the end of my tube of Ameliorate and was enjoying the luxury of my legs being hidden behind thick black tights there were some returning signs of KP although not as evident as before I discovered Ameliorate. Using Gold Bond has seen an improvement matching the expectations I had from it's higher priced counterpart.

Thankfully due to such small patches I only need to apply small amounts to the targeted areas so I can imagine this tub lasting until my next trip the States. I have so many other body lotions at my disposal that I use them for other areas of my body but Gold Bond is a cream which is far more luxurious than it's fairly clinical packaging leads you to believe, I could happily rely on this alone.

If you're struggling with 'chicken skin' and are either in the US or heading there soon, don't forget to take a look down the aisles of the local drugstores and try a tub of Gold Bond.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

US Drugstore Haul and First Impressions

It's well known I love an American drugstore haul and I was able to pick up some fabulous bits and pieces on my trip to Florida way back in January.

First is a product I've yet to try yet, the Coty Airspun Loose Powder which I've seen mentioned by Glam Life Guru Tati on numerous occasions. Having enjoyed using the Maybelline Setting Powder Im looking to compare the two.

Milani is one of the drugstore brands that I always like to keep my eye on and I'm a big fan of their lipsticks and blushes but I've also found it hard to come by on my travels. Florida had slim pickings by way of counters and when I did find one it was offering limited stock and the only product I was tempted with, or at least was available was the blush in Tea Rose.

Firstly of course isn't it a joy to look at? And the size, it's huge and I can see my using this for some time before I even make a dent in the design. Whilst it is a matte blush I've found it to be a good competitor for my favourite blush Peaches and Cream from blush which is a satin finish and I found similar from Milani Tea Rose when applied. I even forgot highlighter one of the days I wore this and didn't feel like I was missing anything.

As with previous experience of Milani blush it's heavily pigmented and lasts all day. It was my only find from Milani but it was a good one.

Another hit is L'Oreal Superstar Mascara which you can buy in your local Boots, and after my raving reviews to my mum she has since made the purchase. Whilst I found the tube a little unnatural to use and unwieldy the results are amazing.

First you apply the white volumising primer. This is strange to do and my first experience using something like this. It's like applying tippex, glue or any other white based product and you're instantly aware of your lashes. I was keen to see how well step 2, the lengthening top coat would cover the aforementioned white primer.

I was impressed that there was no white to be seen and I was simply left with long lashes and felt like I was wearing false lashes. This could be come a holy grail for me.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the L'Oreal Fixing Mist when it was released in the US via my friend and have been using with success for some time now. When I saw the small travel size available it was slightly frivolous but thought it would be handy for any further travels I have coming up. Have you picked up this fixing mist yet?

Palmers Cocoa Butter is a brand I've enjoyed using during my blogging journey and it popped up on my radar last year that they had released a Cleansing Oil in the US. With no sign of it's appearance in the UK I decided to treat myself to a bottle. Unlike the Rossi Cleansing Oil this is a thinner consistency and the pump dispenser does allow for a more free flowing delivery system. As cleansing oil this is fantastic. I'm having quite a moment with cleansing oils and I'm so impressed with how they remove all my make up without stripping the skin. I might even start abandoning my favourite Garnier Micellar Water for them. The only thing that's a little unenjoyable for me is the scent. Whilst not overwhelming its just not to my taste.

Even before I was 'beauty blogging' I would buy Sonia Kashuk Brushes when I visited the US and on this trip I tried myself to the No 4 Flat top Brush. This has been a gorgeous brush I've used for both foundation and blending cream contour creams I've been favouring later. If you have a trip to the US planned or are indeed from the US check out these brushes.

I picked up Jergens BB Body Cream on one of my previous visits and chose light which unfortunately, despite my legs often being of a particularly pasty nature, felt too light for me. This time I picked up dark which I'm hoping will be much better for me. I'll be busting this out when I finally release my legs from the tights that have been a staple recently.

Secret Deodorant might be a random choice to pick up but I'm always keen to try and see if there is anything out there that can beat the love for Sure Maximum Protection. The one photographed is a cute travel size but I'm currently using the full size version and whilst it's ok it's not going to reach the top spot.

Another new product from L'Oreal and another that I'm keeping my fingers crossed will find it's way to the US is the Brow Stylist, a very worthy dupe to the Anastasia Brow Wiz. Much like it's higher end counterpart there's a spooly on one end and the product at the other. I literally cannot tell you any difference other than the price.

What do you love to pick up from the drugstores when you're travelling?

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Can I have a sample please?

When I landed in London following my flight home from Florida I had one intention, to dump my suitcases at home and head straight to my nearest Chanel counter. You see there was no one more excited than me at another addition to the Chanel Les Beiges line up and this time it was a foundation launching that very day.

Already a fan of Les Beiges Healthy Glow Fluid and Powder surely the foundation would not let me down but unfortunately jetlag did and instead I decided to catch some sleep and revisit my plans for purchasing the foundation the next day.

With 24 hours to take stock of my unnecessary urgency with making the purchase I was able to rationalise and think that firstly I didn't actually need a new foundation (but when is that ever an issue?) and secondly did it not make sense to read some reviews and see what people were thinking of it first.

This I did but I do find if it's a product I want I tend to only hear what I want to and ignore what I don't but I did think there was value in waiting till I was back to work and could visit my local Chanel counters where I have a comfortable relationship with the staff.

You would think I was rewarded for my patience but that was not to be the case as my skin took on a state of dryness which would make testing out a new foundation in store a pointless exercise. Instead I had the bright idea of asking if there were any samples available that I could take home and have available for such a time as my skin had settled itself.

I popped to the House of Fraser counter and was able to get a sample without any bother and was rather pleased with myself, I fully expected to have some sort of battle with staff but clearly with the foundation having been newly released there were samples available for customers such as myself. I was further impressed that she quickly colour matched me before I had to request my shade preference.

Buoyed by this experience and both cheekily and sensing a blog post ahead I decided to try out a few more counters to see whether they would be so carefree with the foundation samples. Visits to John Lewis and Boots both provided samples although not in my colour choice. What this has done is give me the opportunity to try shades up and down for both comparison and to be mindful should I want to adopt the multiple bottle/shade options for tanning and otherwise.

My reason for sharing this ramble of sorts is to encourage and remind you that samples are available from counters. In the case of new releases it's more likely than perhaps older products but I found all the sale assistants were willing to provide samples and wanted to apply for me there and then which if it were not for the state of my skin I would've jumped at. One counter assistant when I referenced my skin was nice enough to suggest I try at home and to come back when it was in a better condition and she'd give me a makeover.

In a time when people can often be intimidated by counter assistances or share bad experiences I thought it was worth talking about my successful experience. Likewise with so many choices available and money precious is it not right to take a step back, not let impulse takeover and try a product. With foundation there's no more testing than applying yourself, seeing how it looks under those office lights, with your favourite blush and at the end of the day are you still looking how you'd like?

And a quick note on the foundation itself; I love it. A more flawless even coverage than the lighter Healthy Glow Fluid but sharing the same luminosity on the skin. It's more impressive feature for me seems to be its staying power. At the end of the day I always find I need to add a little touch up before extending my evening but I caught sight of myself in the mirror hours after returning home one evening and couldn't believe how it remained no less different than when I applied that morning.

Whilst I'd love to purchase this immediately I'm going to stick with my earlier caution. I'm trying to adopt a use what I have policy and instead it's being added to my birthday list.

Have you had a good experience with beauty counter staff recently?

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Sephora Beauty Haul

When I visit the US I must admit I'm more drawn to the budget end and much prefer browsing the aisles of the drugstores than Sephora. I don't know if it's the fact that we can buy the products online now or it's simply cheaper in Walgreens or CVS but nonetheless I still managed to come home from Florida with a few higher end purchases. And yes for the eagle eyed there are two items that were purchased outside of Sephora.

On my last trip to the US I picked up a smaller Z Palette from Sephora which you can read about in this post. It was much handier for travelling so I decided to get a larger size with a view to future trips and perhaps decanting some of my single products into the palette to make storage easier. Recently I've been going through my make up stash for this purpose and I'm even thinking of moving my Mac Eyeshadows out of their Mac Palette as Z Palettes really do afford much more room.

Next on my list was a Beauty Blender, something I'd never been tempted by before but there is only so many times you can watch a YouTube video of one in use before you need to try it for yourself. I went for the Limited Edition Red Carpet version for something different. As such a fan of red and hoping perhaps it might be more forgiving when in use I've still been too 'scared' to try it out but I'll report back when I have.

Another product I'd yet to give in to the hype was the Sephora Lip Stains of course choosing 01 Red as my starting point. It's recent appearance in my February Favourites tells you I was a fool for waiting so long to try. I've never found a lip product with the staying power of these and can't wait to add more to my collection next time I visit a Sephora.

I didn't really need a new mascara but I think the fact I wasn't finding much else to excite me on my Sephora shopping trip explains why Tarte Lights Camera Lashes ended up in my basket. I remembered this as a great mascara when I'd tried in the past and whilst it's available from QVC in the UK the dollars burning a hole in my pocket drew me in.

Moving on from Sephora I decided to have a trip to Ulta. I'd researched in advance and discovered that there was a branch in Florida a short walk from the mall I was visiting and I quite enjoyed the quiet stroll over there to browse the beauty mecca. As it happened once again, and I blame my tired feet I couldn't find much that made me want to part with my cash but I did track down the cult product from Laura Geller, her Baked Gelato Swirl Illuninator in Gilded Honey. I'm having something of a moment with highlighter and Gilded Honey is a current favourite and worthy of the hype in my eyes.

Feeling slightly despondent with the lack of excitement on my trip I found myself in Mac, somewhere I rarely browse or seek out beauty products on this type of shopping trip. Aimlessly swatching the Faerie Whispers collection I was drawn to the Foiled Shadows and their metallic finish. Fly by Twilight a silver looked amazing under the lights and I decided to treat myself to something that wouldn't get regular wear but would look fabulous for the right occasion.

As I draw to the end of this post I notice there was a lot of metallic and red in there, clearly an unexpected theme to my shopping trip.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Benecos Natural Beauty Review

Shoppers who want natural and organic cosmetics, or those that are cruelty free are no longer subjected to 'lesser' products or those they have to seek far and wide for as brands such as Benecos can be found online or in your Whole Foods if you're lucky enough to have a local branch.

Benecos is a leading brand sold in Germany which we now have access to in the UK and their name means, quite simply 'good cosmetics'. As mentioned it can often be that a brand not so well known on the high street or one that touts it's natural claims may not hold it's own against the bigger brands so lets see what I made of the selection of products Benecos sent me to try.

Even if you're not concerned with natural claims it might be that you've found your regular nail polishes are causing irritation and as such need to seek out an alternative. Benecos Nail Polishes are 5-free, meaning free from; Formaldehyde, Toluene, Phthalates, Camphor and Colophony - in short all the things that could very well be causing those irritations.

I was interested to see whether longevity would be affected when omitting all those thing that I'm sure are how brands provide long lasting finishes. I have to say I was overwhelmed by the staying power of this product. I often complain that most nail products have a limited life span on my nails but Benecos Cherry Red Nail Polish* is one of the best I've tried. It easily lasted a week on my nails with no chipping or wear. And are you limited with colour choices from Benecos? Not at all, if you want nude nails, or something a bit more out there they have you covered.

Moving onto make up. All Benecos eye products are formulated with key ingredients like sweet almond oil, Vitamin E and sunflower seed oil to ensure their eye makeup range cares for your eyes as well as making you look good.

Benecos Vegan Volume Natural Mascara* is designed to give lashes length and volume from a large bristle brush. It boosts a clump free formula to provide lift and separation. Unfortunately the mascara wasn't a hit for me. Whilst I liked the brush itself I found the formula to dry to work with. If you prefer your mascaras once they've dried out a little then this may be one for you.

Interestingly there only appears to be one eyeshadow quad available from Benecos which for me was average compared to other products I own. Benecos Quattro Eyeshadow in Coffee and Cream* comes in clear packaging which makes it appear different to the rest of the range. It's pretty standard by way of   colouring for these shades of brown. All the shades are smooth and creamy to touch with varying degrees of pigmentation. I enjoyed the lightest shade (top left) by way of a base for the lid and I could easily work with the three shades of brown but it was a very natural look without any punch for me.

I didn't expect to have anything significant to say about Benecos Natural Kajal Eyeliner in Black* but after testing and still seeing it in place by the end of the day it was another thumbs up from me. I have very watery eyes and any liner often starts to move or disappear after a few hours so this was a great result. Again I'd expect Benecos to have kept their line of colours available small but there are many available which I'll be keen to try in the future.

Moving on to lip products which again containing ingredients to ensure your lips are cared for such as organic jojoba and sunflower oil which will ensure they are hydrated throughout the day. I received Benecos Natural Lipstick in Marry Me* and Lipgloss in Flamingo* - yes how appropriate for me. I really liked both of these products, the lipstick being the perfect every day shade, a reddish pink with a shimmer thats not unlike Mac Lustre or Creamsheen finishes. The shade Marry Me sits well with Syrup and Hot Gossip as a no nonsense choice for any occasion. 

Benecos Lipglosses are formulated with natural Beeswax for that glossy appearance. I've used the gloss both alone or on top of Marry Me or other lipsticks in my collection. There is a slight tackiness but it is not sticky and lips feel nicely moisturised it even makes a good alternative to lip balms when lips are feeling a little dry. 

The Benecos make up line is priced comparatively to your high street favourites and definitely worth exploring if you have any concerns about how your make up is made or maybe you just want to simply try a new brand, there are some great products available and worth trying.

*this post contains press samples

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Irresistible Me Hair Extensions Review

When I was contacted by Irresistible Me, a hair extensions company based in New Yorks Fashion District, I was most definitely keen to try their range of 100% natural Remy clip-in hair extensions. I've dabbled with hair pieces and extensions over the years but never to much degree. As I've often told you I'm not one for bothering too much with my hair on an every day basis but if the clip in extensions were as easy to use as they appeared maybe I could be swayed.

I was sent one Silky Touch set* which includes the Signature Weft*, but first I had to choose the colour, length and weight of the extensions - a whole new process to me. I was advised that the basic rule was 'the longer the hair, the bigger the weight should be'.

The weight (100g, 140g, 200g) refers to the total weight of the hair. The thickness of the hair is relative to both the weight and length chosen. So a 14 inch, 200g piece will look thicker than a 24 inch, 200g piece. 

I was directed to this video to help choose the colour of my hair extensions and its really handy when you see them side by side, especially in my case that I have dark brown hair that might appear darker than it is until you see it against other shades. 

I finally decided on 14 inch, 140g extensions in Medium Brown as I was more interested in adding 'natural' thickness and length rather than a dramatic difference. Pretty packaging aside I like that customer satisfaction is important to Irresistible Me. You receive a pouch with your hair extensions inside which is divided into two. The smaller pouch contains a sample piece of your order so you can most importantly confirm that the collection match is indeed right for you. If not you send for a refund or exchange. I certainly know that if I was purchasing that would be the most important consideration. 

My order contained a number of pieces, thickest piece with four clips then a selection of pieces with three, two and one clip to be added to your hair. My first attempt was rather rushed one evening when I came home from work and I found the process rather simple, especially as I was 'just playing'. The colour match was spot on.

I took the extensions over to my parents at the weekend as my sister in law was visiting and she's had more experience than I with them so I was interested to get her opinions - and to help put them in for a more thorough appraisal. 

Again the process was simple and quick to do although the only issue I have at present is that my hair is due for a cut and being rather blunt in style I would benefit from visiting a hairdresser with the extension to cut to a more natural and blendable style. 

My sister in law recommended some styles she preferred to use when wearing hair extensions, often using them to add weight and styling to the side. Another recommendation was some backcombing to allow more grip for the clips, especially for the lower pieces if your hair is fine or like mine thick but without a lot of it. 

I still need to play some more with putting the extensions in myself and as mentioned I think I need to seek out the services of a hairdresser to work with my hair in a more natural style. That aside my first proper foray into hair extensions has been a good one and I look forward to playing with them some more.

Have you tried hair extensions before?

*this post contains press samples

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Stiletto Nails and me

It's been a long time since I've had long nails and I'm ok with that. Usually opting for a red finish I find that it suits my natural shorter nails and it's far better for me than the acrylics I once wore. That doesn't mean I don't look in envy at others fabulous longer nails and none more so than the stiletto style.

I've dabbled a little in false decorated versions with mixed results, House of Holland nails were just a little too large in size but I was a fan of the Elegant Touch Drama Queen style although acknowledge at the time that they did make day to day business a little difficult.

The biggest issue I was aware of when testing stiletto nails would be typing. I spend much of my weekends blogging so being unable to sit at my laptop would be a problem, hence why I'd not yet tried out the Elegant Touch 003 Bare Stiletto Nails I picked up recently. I was keen to try the nails and be able to choose from my own nail polish collection.

On Friday evening when I was sitting at home a little bored, and disinterested in picking up the laptop I decided to give them a go. If I wasn't going to be writing blog posts then why not. I also knew I had various plans over the weekend which meant that I would not be spending the majority of my time in front of the laptop.

The first issue encountered was before I had event applied the nails. I just could not get the glue to dispense. I tried a second bottle I had in another set in case I had a fault one - no luck. In the end I had to cut the nozzle off which made apply the glue a bit fiddly. It wasn't too much of a problem I just had to be more careful to drop it onto the nail itself.

In terms of size I found the nails a good fit but as expected the length was long but I liked it. I decided to miss base coat and instead went straight in with Nails Inc Coleville Mews* to imitate the nude nails I'd be admiring on Instagram and the like.

The next issue I encountered was managing the fact a longer nail requires more polish and effort to apply an even finish. If I were to look in the light I did see that nearer the tip things had petered off a little and perhaps if I was being more diligent next time I'd go for a third coat to avoid the dragging. I did use a top coat which helped even the appearance of them out and then voila stiletto nails were mine.

So how did I manage with these new talons? It wasn't as bad as I thought and as I was only spending the remainder of the evening on the sofa watching tv the more obvious problem was using my iPhone. I was easily able to get round this by using the side of my fingers, namely my thumb to use. My evening skincare regime came into question when I wanted to use fingers for getting products out of tubs and it was quite difficult to apply my eye cream and much care was needed.

The next day I managed to go through my morning regime with little problems, again eye cream was something of an issue and I tried applying my foundation with fingers and it was a little fiddly but not too bad. Aside from some difficulty pulling a card out of my wallet in Tesco I didn't come across any issues to cause concern.

Returning back to the sofa I did pull out my laptop and attempted to tackle my emails and frustration got the better of me. Anyone with these long nails who manages to type away I am in awe, what is your secret? I'm quite a fast typist but suddenly have to reply on the tips only slowed me down considerably and in the end I gave up.

Knowing that I would be spending Sunday catching up on blogging I decided to try cutting the nails down to avoid having to remove them completely. Of course this has changed the shape of them so defeats the object of wanting the style in question but it does mean that I was able to keep 'nice nails' without having to spend time removing them completely.

As I sit and type this post, with the shorter nails it still a little cumbersome but not enough to warrant their removal and I'll be interested to see how they fair at work today on a regular keyboard.

In conclusion I will definitely apply the stiletto nails again but for nights out and then rely on cutting them down for when my laptop will be in use.

Have you tried stiletto nails before?

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Disney Villains by Wet n Wild Make Up Haul

I love the Disney Villains and I had of course see photos online of this fun collection brought to Walgreens in the USA by Wet n Wild. When my brother shouted over to my sister-in-law, niece and I as we browsed the make up aisles that there was a tucked away display of this range we ran straight over and scooped up as much as we could.

Of course some reigning in was required as we actually discovered the range whilst killing time before we headed to the airport but I couldn't resist a few purchases for aesthetic reasons and keen to try and see how this range functioned.

I do love blusher and so I had to pick up the Evil Queens Jealous Blush.  This is a huge and heavily pigmented blusher in strawberry pink shade with a slight sparkle to it. The packaging is a little cheap but I ignore that for the wonderful image of the Evil Queen herself. I really enjoyed this blush and for a few dollars it's something to make my smile when I look in my blush draw.

I picked up all three lipsticks in the range, Magic Potion, Majestic and Dragons Lair. Magic Potion is a true red which reminds me of old style lipstick formulas before we had so many offerings. This applied nicely from the bullet and sat nicely on the lips without drying. It looks both perfect on the lips as it does on my dressing table. 

I'm yet to try the other two lipstics, Ursulas more of Summer red and I'm not sure whether Dragons Lair a brown shade will work for me but I wanted all three to display on my dressing table! I've also got the Ursula Shimmering Powder which my niece also picked up. She had less restraint than me and was opening and applying in the car and it appeared a little lacklustre and didn't last very long but I'm yet to play and confirm for myself.

Are you a Disney Villains fan?

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