Friday, 27 February 2015

A big-a$$ Sephora haul + reviews of a few bits I returned!

As this posts, I'm on a transatlantic flight back to the UK. So, since the US shopping frenzy is well and truly over, I thought I'd share what I got at Sephora. Expect to see a lot of in-depth reviews on these bits over the coming weeks and months. Til then - Apologies for the iPhone photos! And the length... you may want to grab a coffee.




As usual, I tried for the most part to stick to brands not easily accessible in the UK, or to take advantage of mini sizes in cases of things I've wanted to try but not necessarily splurge on. And... this is what I ended up with. Read 'til the end to see the few things (not pictured) that I purchased but then returned as well, making full use of Sephora's fabulous return policy.

Makeup

For some reason when Marc Jacobs Beauty first launched not that many things stood out to me. On this trip, not so! I picked up 4 beauty bits from MJ and *spoiler* I'm loving all of them!

I went on a bit of a base binge as well...
I resisted a few of the Marc Jacobs brushes which looked and felt amazing, and opted for a couple more affordable Sephora options instead...
And finally, a few lip products...

Skincare

And a few more masks...

The Freebies

As always, I walked away with a sizeable number of free bits, which were especially lucrative this time around! I won't go through all of these bits but the ones I'm most excited about are... Deluxe sizes of the REN Flash Rinse 1-minute Facial, the new NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, Beauty Blender solid cleanser, Dr Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant (which I love), and the Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Deluxe foundation. This on top of a tonne of mini samples and fragrance viles, and a 500 pt perk from Algenist!

Returns

Last but not least, there were 3 things I bought, tried, and returned...

  • Marc Jacobs Beauty Perfection Powder Featherweight Finish: This is a translucent pressed powder which was super finely milled, and looked and felt weightless on the skin. It really was a lovely powder. But, the packaging was defective - the whole cake was detached from the compact, a common problem apparently. At this price point, it's unacceptable. And once allowed the second-thought, the product just didn't blow me away enough to justify it when I have so many other good powders to get through. 
  • Make Up For Ever Liquid Lift Foundation in #10 Sand: Again, a nice enough foundation. It was medium or so coverage, but despite being aimed at ageing skins, I found it to be drying on the skin. It was less luminous than I thought it would be but also not the most long wearing. A bit of a meh middle of the range option. I have other foundations that I prefer, so given the opportunity to return it, I did.
  • The System - Formula X: Whether the nail varnishes get a rant or rave seemed to depend on whether they were applied with 'the system' - the full range of accompanying nail cleanser, base and top coats. So I bought it and tried with a free Formula X polish of your choice that comes with the kit. I did not find it improved wear time at all - my nails chipped within a day. Given I have a full range of manicure products at home, this $30+ kit did nothing for me.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Review: Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream

Although this product is a bit tough to track down in the UK, it's spoken about a fair bit amongst those who have travelled to the US. I picked mine up this time last year but only about a month ago used up some other creams and moved onto this. Keep reading for my thoughts.



Claims: Intended for dry or damaged skin, and also sensitive skins, Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream claims to moisturise using jojoba and avocado, calm with aloe, neutralise free radicals with grape seed extract, and gently exfoliate with lactic acid. Overall it claims to be a gentle and restorative cream that can be used AM or PM.

Packaging: The packaging is great - no complaints at all. It's identical to the Rodial Dragon's Blood Sculpting Gel (which I love). After removing the cap you press down and a small amount of product is dispensed through a central hole. It hygienic and functional. And, when you near the end you can still screw off the pump to access every last drop, easily.

Texture & Application: The texture of this cream is very unique. It comes out in a very lightweight, almost whipped texture, but once rubbed onto skin feels very milky (almost wet) - not heavy or thick at all. It needs to be gently rubbed into skin and after a couple minutes absorbs completely. I have used this in the morning, but unless I've having an exceptionally dry skin day I reserve it for night time. So I think those with very dry skins could get away with this AM or PM as recommended, while those with combo-oily skin probably want to stick to in for evenings only. I've heard some people complain of the smell - and I think they're crazy. I love food so even if this did smell like goat's milk, it wouldn't bother me... but it doesn't. It's more or less unscented (definitely no added fragrance), which I'm sure keeps it gentle for sensitive skins.

Result: I like it. For such a lightweight texture, it packs a punch in the moisture department. I awake with my skin feeling very hydrated and nourished. My skin has remained clear and calm while using this so no problems with breakouts either. I will say that I'm used to using more potent anti-ageing creams and the like, so I haven't been blown away in terms of my skin looking more 'radiant' but I don't really think that's its main purpose. I would recommend this to someone who is maybe using a potent serum and looking for a straightforward hydrating night cream, but a good one. I'd also recommend it for sensitive skins, or people with combo-skins prone to dehydration who need moisture but don't want something that feels heavy or suffocating.

Verdict: I don't think you should be killing yourself to track this down, but if given the chance to give it a go I do think it's a good straightforward moisturiser. It's texture is it's main point of interest, offering a lot of hydration in a very lightweight formula. For me, it hasn't been life changing in any way, but I'll happily finish it up, and if it were more easily accessible would consider repurchasing.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Lust List: Spring fashion edition

The absolute last thing I need to be doing right now is focusing on the few things I haven't bought in New York, but I'm obsessed with each and every one of these pieces for spring and summer. Unfortunately, while my wallet is still weeping, I'm afraid these beautiful (and expensive) bits will need to hang out on my 'lust list'. Shame, since like most things, they'll be much cheaper stateside.


  • Haute Hippie Draped Jersey Harem Pants: I'm not someone who bears a lot of skin, even in the warmer months, but give me a lightweight trouser and I'm all over it. I love how these hang, and the high slit up the side. Slightly suggestive, but that's it.
  • Bao Bao by Issey Miyake Lucent Tote in White: I find it hard to stomach the price for a bag made of synthetic materials, but it's just so visually stunning. Geometric. Graphic. Monochrome. And so totally eye-catching.
  • Helmut Lang Kinetic Asymmetrical Wrap Skirt in Grey: A similar justification as the pants - the silhouette of this skirt is just gorgeous. Easily dressed up or down, interesting without being in any way loud. Right up my street.
  • Vince Orion Two Band Slides in Pewter: Whether these or something similar, I will own a pair of sandals like this this summer. I'm all on board with the comfy footwear thing, and the pewter is kind of neutral without being plain black or otherwise boring.
  • Marc by Marc Jacobs Metallic Sally bag in Gold: Last but not least, is this goregous antique gold metallic small crossbody. I wouldn't have chosen this online but spotted in store and it was love at first sight. I've just bought a much more expensive everyday bag (coming up soon!) and for that was um-ing and ah-ing between a safe but versatile black, and a bright and fun pop of colour. For that bag I went with black, so I'm thinking I can get a slightly more affordable option in a 'fun' colour for Summer, though this tone of gold I reckon can carry you through all seasons, too.


Friday, 20 February 2015

Singing Sephora's praises... Other stores take note!

As you all know, I've been spending the month of Feb in New York, which amongst other lovely explorations, always tends to include a series of requisite trips to Sephora. I usually buy tonnes of bits and save them until I'm back home, never making use of the store's awesome return policy. So this time I did things a bit differently, and it's given me a whole new appreciation for the beauty wonderland that is Sephora. PS - You'll see an embarrassingly large haul coming your way soon!



Since moving to the UK, the number of brands I can't get at home as diminished, but there still are those outliers - I'm looking at you, Tarte, Make Up For Ever, Marc Jacobs Beauty, Kate Sommerville, and a few others. I tried to focus my purchases on these, but between exchange rates and try before you buy mini sizes, things got a bit too tempting.

Things Sephora does better than anyone else:

  • 1. Minis/Deluxe Samples: The famous checkout line at Sephora is retail genius but to my mind it's a win-win. Yes, my purchasing habits get a bit liberal when I'm waiting in line and see cute minis, but on this trip I've also bought things that I've really wanted to try but wasn't willing to shell out the full price without knowing whether I love it, or things I simply don't need too much of! I'm thinking the likes of the Glamglow masks, my beloved Kate Sommerville Exfolikate, a dual-ended lipstick from Bite Beauty, and even a mini of the Laura Mercier Loose Translucent Setting Powder. First aid beauty even had mini sizes of nearly their full range of products - not top of my current list in terms of full size but if I only need to shell out $5-10 I'm immediately interested.
  • 2. Generous rewards program: This ties into #1, but I don't even live in the country and I manage to maintain VIB status just on visits, and get some pretty awesome perks as a result. More minis, deluxe samples, always great coupon codes, etc. While in the US, if I can get it at Sephora, I will.
  • 3. Anything-goes return policy: This trip is the first time I've really utilised their return policy and it's a total game changer. They literally return anything. For any reason. Within 60 days you get a full refund and within 90 you get a store credit. I try to be discerning with my purchases and research things in advance, but with the amount of beauty bits I buy there are bound to be things that don't blow me away. Typically I get a bit down, feel that money has been wasted, something wasn't worth the hype, and then it sits at the back of my drawer until I pass it on or it expires. Being able to return a beauty product simply because the colour/formula/finish/lasting power/etc wasn't what you thought takes a lot of the risk out of purchases, and as a result you probably (1) are more willing to splash out (they obviously know this and I'm sure overall it ends up being way more profitable) and (2) settle on things you really do love and will use. 

I think Sephora's formula is pretty genius and I wish other stores outside of the US would wake up to this wonderful customer-oriented policy (the returns in particular!).

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

My (updated) morning skincare routine

I've mentioned each of these products individually but thought I'd go through my current morning skincare routine, since it has completely changed since my last one a year ago.


Just for full disclosure, my skin is combination, tending to get shiny throughout the day, but also prone to dehydration. Since landing in New York a couple a weeks ago my skin has been drier than ever, and if I'm honest I've been looking for some added hydration on top of the above routine in the form of dewy foundations or hydrating face sprays. But, when my skin is in its typical condition back in Manchester, this routine works great.

Cleanse

Sarah Chapman Skinesis Rapid Radiance Cleanse: This is my cleanser of the moment - a clay based creamy cleanser that has cooling essential oils and salicylic acid, but somehow leaves skin nourished and comfortable. It's nice on skin but irritating to my eyes and does not remove trace eye makeup - I replaced my Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip with this, and after it runs out I'm going to go back to the Sunday Riley. I've recently written a full comparison post if you're interested in my full thoughts.

Tone

La Roche-Posay Serozinc: Another product I've talked about ad nauseam. A zinc-based facial spray that keeps breakouts a bay. You won't know it's doing much until you stop using it. I'm on my 3rd or 4th can, and it's now much more easily available in the UK (woop!).

Serum

Indeed Labs Hydraluron: Another one I'm a bit on the fence about. It does no harm so I'm kind of 'using it up' but I can't say I see any huge difference using this. My skin has gotten dry regardless of this step, so I don't think I'll continue with this once it runs out. I've also reviewed the Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright which I love and prefer (it even made my top 14 of 2014!) - I find it more moisturising and does wonders for skin-tone and pigmentation - so that will be taking over this step soon.

Moisturiser

Aesop Oil-Free Facial Hydrating Serum: I've reviewed this at length and sung its praises. I love this stuff. A tad lightweight for this dry New York winter, but overall, this serum moisturiser keeps my skin hydrated without going greasy, and provides the absolute perfect base for makeup. I also adore a similar product, the Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Serum.

Eye Cream

La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] for Eyes: I think this is a fab eye cream for its anti-aging benefits and sits at a relatively reasonable price point, as far as eye creams go. It does the trick for hydration, but my only complaint is that I have awful under eye circles and this has done absolutely nothing for that. I'm tempted to move onto the Verso Super Eye Serum when this runs out, but it's quite pricey, so I'd love to hear what others think of it if you've tried it!!

A bit of a weird one considering a few slots are up for replacement, but overall this routine has been working well for me. Some steps are set, and others I'm still (forever) seeking the product that will finally settle the search. What skincare are you loving that I may need to try? :)

Friday, 13 February 2015

Winter empties

I mentioned in my last empties post that I was going to try to do this seasonally, so here is the latest instalment. A roundup of products I've recently finished with mini reviews of each, covering everything from skincare, to hair, to bodycare. Let's do this.


Fab

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads: I've written about these gentle chemical exfoliating pads on a few other occasions, so I'll keep it brief. I swipe one of these pre-soaked pads over my face in the evening, after cleansing and before any serum or moisturiser steps. They are gentle enough for daily use but make my skin noticeably more radiant come morning. I love products that live up to their claims, and this one absolutely does. I've already repurchased the big container.

Co Lab Dry Shampoo: This little mini made it into my 2014 Favourites, and I've since repurchased a big can and another mini. It's hands down the best dry shampoo I've ever used. It does not leave a white residue in my hair, creates noticeable volume, and is the only product of the sort I've tried that doesn't make my hair feel disgusting and like I have tonnes of buildup. So rather than extending a style 1 day with most dry shampoos you can easily get away with 2 or 3 using this.

Vichy Purete Thermal Micellar Solution: This and the L'Oreal Cleansing Water are the only 2 that even come mildly close to Bioderma. I would pick this up again in a pinch, but if you saw my recent repurchases post, you'll know I've gone back to my beloved - the original - Bioderma.

I love... Coconut Cream bath and shower creme: Let's not get too over enthusiastic about this one - it's a pretty bog-standard body wash. But, it's huge, cheap, easily accessible in the UK, and smells amazing. And it didn't dry out my skin. It's basically all I'm looking for in a body wash.

Budget dependent

Philosophy Eggnog Shower Gel: These Philosophy 3-in-1's (body wash, bubble bath, shampoo) are the obvious inspiration for the above "I love..." version. The packaging is near identical, and the formula is pretty similar too (the Philosophy a tad thicker and 'creamier' feeling). This one is budget dependent because it's nothing special formula wise - it ticks all the same boxes as the one above, except it's not cheap. The scent of Eggnog was for me, utterly fabulous and authentic, and totally worth the price during the holiday season, but it's not something I'll be splashing out on all year long. That said, I see these on offer at TKMaxx on occasion, and when I see a drop in price I always snag a few.

Zelens 3t Complex Essential Aging Cream: This was a really lovely night cream - on the thicker side but easily absorbed, smelled natural but nice, and left my skin clear and plump. I'm on the anti-aging bandwagon mostly for preventative purposes at this point, though as I eek towards 30 I am beginning to see some very slight fine lines. I think while I was using this my makeup was less prone to drawing attention to these areas. But at 95 pounds, I'm not sure I saw anything miraculous enough that I'll be running out to buy another tub. For some this may not be a big purchase, and for you lot I'd recommend it as a great night cream. But for those of us for whom 95 is a splurge, I think you can find other similarly efficacious products for less money (or, invest in an expensive serum instead).

'Meh'

L'Oreal Everstrong Shampoo & Conditioner: I've seen a lot of chatter about the L'Oreal 'ever-' line and this duo is the strengthening one. I've no complaints - it worked nicely, smelled slightly herbacious, didn't weight down my hair and didn't wreak havoc. I did feel the need to use a clarifying shampoo on a weekly basis with these, though. Overall I was happy to finish them and move onto something else. The conditioner in particular punched below its weight I think.

Lush Big Shampoo: This shampoo on the other hand, is something I've repurchased 2 times in the past at various points. It's a sea-salt based shampoo great for clarifying hair and promoting volume. Weirdly, despite using this in the past, I found this current go with it to feel different. I had been skeptical of the formula in the past and proven wrong - the chunky sea salt always did seem to dissolve and lather quickly, but I found this pot less foaming, with more of it ending up on the floor of the shower. I also found it to be extremely stripping on my hair. After rinsing my hair felt like straw and I needed to use a hair mask as conditioner just to restore things to normal. Not sure if the formula is different, or whether my hair has changed, but I didn't get on nearly as well with this as I have in the past.

Regenerate Toothpaste: Let's get real peeps, this is a toothpaste. But, I thought I'd throw it in because it costs 10 pounds, and I recently saw it pop up on Space NK. I'm a big coffee drinker, (plus wine, and cocktails, and eating lots of lemon - Dean's Cypriot), so acid wear and tooth sensitivity are concerns of mine. I know I can't examine the molecular structure of my tooth enamel, but for me this had no more discernible effect on tooth sensitivity than your standard Sensodyne or Pronamel toothpastes (which I do think work really well, but are also much cheaper).

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster: A big old 'meh'. My skin usually reacts wonderfully to vitamin C, but this did a whole lot of nothing for me. There are so many other products that give such better results that I can't recommend this one.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review + Comparison: Sarah Chapman Skinesis Rapid Radiance Cleanse vs. Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser

As I mentioned in a recent haul, when my (second bottle of my) beloved Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser ran out, I went out on a limb and decided to try something new, in part for comparative purposes. I've now been using the Sarah Chapman Skinesis Rapid Radiance Cleanse for about a month, and finally feel like I can write a fair review.


The attraction was that I've only heard good things about Sarah Chapman skincare, both cleansers are clay-based, and this one is a handful of pounds cheaper (though now that I've looked more closely, they're priced almost exactly the same based on volume).

Whereas the Sunday Riley was a very thin texture, this one comes out as a more thick creamy clay, but not in a dense way like a clay mask might be. I find I need a few pumps of the Sarah Chapman to adequately cleanse my face, versus 1-2 pumps max of the Sunday Riley. I've not noticed any big difference in my skin since switching - it has neither gotten very upset after moving away from the Sunday Riley, nor does it look much improved. So I'd say both are comparable in terms of keeping skin cleansed and clear. Similarly, neither dehydrate my skin - clean but not squeaky.

The main difference for me is in terms of eye sensitivity and makeup removal. I use both of these as morning time cleansers in the shower and Sunday Riley is super gentle on the eyes but also extremely effective at removing eye makeup, including traces of mascara that may be left on from the night before. The Sarah Chapman on the other hand, very much stings my eyes, and is totally ineffective at removing trace mascara. So if not every speck of mascara is removed before using this I end up with panda eyes and I need to go over with Bioderma after my shower. A pain. While both claim to have essential oils, the Sarah Chapman has a cooling sensation on the skin which is quite nice in the morning, but also I imagine is part of why it can't be used on eyes. It does warn not to use on eyes, so really it's more a matter of preference than a criticism, per se.

Overall, both cleansers make similar claims but all up, given the same price per volume, that I need less per use of the Sunday Riley, and the the Sunday Riley wins in terms of eye makeup removal, I think I'm going to go back to that after I finish using the Sarah Chapman. You win some you lose some.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Review: YSL Fusion Ink Foundation

The latest drop from YSL, and the latest addition to my foundation wardrobe - the YSL Fusion Ink Foundation. I've been giving this a solid workout for the last week and a bit, so keep reading to see what I think!



Billed as a super lightweight but high-coverage foundation, that feels weightless on skin, keeps shine at bay and provides a soft-matte/satin finish for a full 24 hours, I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one swayed by the claims of this product. I held off responsibly for a bit - reviews I've read are mixed - but recently used my Boots points to pick up a bottle. For reference, I'm shade BD20 and it's a great match (see my other foundation shades here).

I guess I'll start by considering whether it lives up to its claims, and I'd conclude that it does, better than most. The formula is very watery - you need to shake this up prior to use and it comes with a stick applicator attached to the top, not a pump. So, I sweep a bit of product onto the back of my hand and go from there. As promised, the foundation does dry down very quickly, so it's best to work in small areas, though I have found using a synthetic angled kabuki, it blends very effortlessly into skin. I agree the coverage is medium to full, and it's impressive given the lightweight feel of the product. You certainly do not need layers upon layers to achieve a nice level of coverage. So in terms of texture and application, I have no complaints.

The finish is where I'm a bit on the edge. My skin tends to be combo-oily, but it can be prone to dehydration under certain circumstances. For full disclosure - I've been testing this product on trip to NYC which is a good 10 degrees colder (and dryer) than Manchester. That said, I'm still playing around with how this works best. When tried over Hydraluron and my beloved Aesop Oil-Free Facial Hydrating Serum, which usually works a treat for hydration and makeup priming, my skin appeared extremely dry, the foundation clung to dry patches I wasn't aware I had, and the finish was very powdery-matte, without having applied any powder. Luminous was the last word I would use to describe it, and even their claimed 'satin' is generous. Now, the upside, is that this was definitely a foundation that wore better throughout the day - by the end of the day my skin looked fantastic, the product was still intact - it was the finish I would probably want from the first go.

Then yesterday, I had to be in the city from 8am until 11pm. The morning was the same deal, despite my best efforts to prep my skin. By 6pm, I was feeling quite a bit of that 'get this makeup off my face' feeling from a long day out, but it still looked fab. I added a light sweep of powder in my T-Zone and when I got home at 11am my base was still looking great. So it does get points for longevity.

Overall, I feel like this is a bit of short-term price for long-term reward sort of deal. I would not recommend this whatsoever to girls with dry skin. But, for those who like the sound of a lightweight but high coverage base, it does have potential. If you're into a very matte powdery look then go for it no worries. If you want something more luminous, make sure you skin is very well prepped, skip the powder, and maybe play around with something like a makeup setting spray to re-inject some moisture into the finish. This is going to be my next experiment to see if I can get it looking the way I want, when I want. I think we tend to leave the house with our makeup looking fab, and often compromise on how it looks at the end of the day - this option, uniquely (and for me), does the opposite.

Friday, 6 February 2015

My travel makeup bag (for a month in NYC)

I always end up shopping heaps and leaving with an overweight suitcase when I travel home to visit New York, so I tried really hard this time to pack light and bring only a streamlined makeup bag. And so far, it's been serving me just fine. Here's what I brought...


Whilst I allowed myself a few options with colour products, when it comes to others - base, liners, mascara, brows, etc. - the products I've chosen really do indicate those that I use and love every single day.

I picked up the YSL Fusion Ink Foundation (in BD20) using Boots points the day before I left, so I chucked it in as my only foundation, without ever having tried it. What can I say, I like to live on the edge. I'm still learning how best to work with it but I'll post a full review soon. For concealer I went with a trusty duo, the Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque, topped with the Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser. I brought the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Powder to set my T-zone and because it's good to take out for the day or at night, since it has it's own brush and mirror. To finish off my complexion, I packed my latest obsession, the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow that I raved out in my January Favourites. It really is as good as everyone says.

For cheeks I went super simple with one very neutral option - Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Exposed, and a more brightening peachy-pink, Nars Deep Throat.

For eyes I brought my daily eye base, the Make Up For Ever Aqua Cream in #13 - this lasts longer and keeps things locked in better than any cream shadow or eye primer I've ever used. (And as a side note I've been using it every day for what feels like at least 2 years and I'm still not done with it!). For shadows I was really good!! I brought both of my Charlotte Tilbury quads - The Dolce Vita, and The Fallen Angel Palette (both are freaking amazing), as well as 1 Nars eye duo in Portobello, which contains 2 matte medium browns perfect for blending out the crease. More dailies - my Anastasia Covet Waterproof Liner, Anastasia Browiz, Maybelline Brow Drama and finally, my Bourjois Blackjack Volume Clubbing Mascara.

Last but not least for lips I brought Mac's Girl About Town for a bright pop of fuchsia (I usually reserve this for summer but for some reason while packing it just called out to me!), Rimmel Kate Matte Lipstick in 107, a gorgeous red-wine berry colour, Rimmel Kate lipstick in 22, a bright glossy strawberry red, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Saga (a light coral-pink), and Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy as the daily neutral option, which was in my handbag. Even though I'm not the hugest fan, I threw in the Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil for a good on-the-go lip treatment to face the frigid New York winter.

I'm pretty impressed with myself.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

4 skincare re-purchases (aka products worth the hype)

In the world of the beauty-obsessed, repurchasing products is the ultimate salute to a product's greatness. With so much choice, and the pace of new releases, something has to be pretty impressive to keep my attention. And, these four bits have done it again.



Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellaire Solution: This one goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway. Bioderma created a product category, but no matter how many brands flood the market with cleansing waters, the original reigns supreme. I've tried a fair few of it's competitors, and while some are terrible, and some come close, none have matched Bioderma. It removes makeup, is scent-less, sting-less, rinse-free, gentle, effective, and completely and totally non-irritating to my skin. Even though it's naughty, I have for big stretches of time used this as my only nighttime makeup remover and cleanser and have never had any problems with my skin. I've gone through tonnes of these over the years and will continue to buy this over and over again.

La Roche-Posay Serozinc: A much-hyped product that has only just released in the UK. Nonetheless, I've just repurchased my 3rd or 4th one of these. It's one of those that you're not quite sure is doing much until you stop using it. It's a facial spray which contains acne-fighting zinc, which turns out to really work to keep skin clear and breakouts at bay, without the all-too-common drying effects of many acne products.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads: I've just bought a new full-sized pot of these (the one in the photo was a smaller size). They are liquid soaked pads with a gentle chemical exfoliant, perfect to swipe over skin between cleansing and serum/moisturizer in the evenings. They are gentle enough to be used nightly, and really do make a noticeable difference to the radiance and clarity of my skin.

Kate Sommerville ExfoliKate: I re-bought this on sephora and shipped it to my parents house as soon as I booked my flight to New York.  It's both a physical and chemical exfoliant, that is much more heavy-duty than the Radiance Pads, but there is also a gentle version if you're sensitive. I tend to use it once a week in the shower as a quick and effective pick me up that keeps my skin exfoliated and also helps with keeping things clear. It's a dark green thick paste that smells of lovely cloves. I apply it, rubbing it in (to slough skin) and then leave it on for a few minutes while I do the rest of my shower. It's great.

Monday, 2 February 2015

A very foamy show(er)-down

My love affair with the following two products started when I got a free full-sized gift with purchase at a department store in Denmark, of the Rituals Yogi Flow Foaming Shower Gel. And it was heavenly... So I picked up its more affordable counterpart, the Imperial Leather foamburst luxurious body wash, to see how it stacks up.

These are both very similar - packaged in a pressurised can, they come out as a dense gel but quickly turn to a thick foam when rubbed onto skin. In texture and concept, the formula is almost identical to gel-to-foam shaving products, and to each other. One thing I love is that unlike most body washes that almost instantaneously get washed off skin, the foam stays put until you fully run it off, which I find makes skin scented for longer after my shower. I don't find either drying, but if I had to compare the Imperial Leather is ever slightly more 'squeaky', but overall I'd consider both of them nourishing enough.

I haven't tried other scents of each, but from these two my assessment would be that the Rituals version is much more strongly and luxuriously scented, which is to be expected. Rituals describes it as sweet almond and rose, but to me there is also something fruity about it. It fills the whole bathroom and bedroom with a delicious scent, and my skin stays smelling nice for hours after. Either way, it's divine, and reason enough that I'll repurchase a 3rd time (and 4th, and 5th...). The Imperial Leather also fills the bathroom, but isn't quite as strong, and while it smells lovely while using it I don't think it scents the skin as strongly afterwards. Nonetheless, as the more cheaper option I'm happy to use this intermittently too.

The Imperial Leather retails for 3.50 at Boots. Rituals is usually 8.50 but I got it for 4.25 GBP on sale at House of Fraser. It's still on offer, so get it quick!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

January favourites and fails

January was a polar month - I really love my favourites, and really dislike my fails...



Favourites

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow: As you know, I hauled this first thing in January. It's a very hyped up product which turns out to be deserving of every single rave. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Charlotte Tilbury makeup makes me want to throw away everything I own and just start from scratch. Everything I've tried is amazing and this is no exception. The bronzer is a perfect shade - I've used it both to warm up my face and more for contouring and both work great. The highlight is dreamy - smooth, buttery, pigmented, and with a beautiful sheen. Having them 2-in-1 is fab. It's very quickly become a daily staple.

Super Facialist by Una Brennan Vitamin C+ Cleansing Oil: I had tried one other (more expensive) cleansing oil and wasn't a fan, but instead of writing them off completely, I decided to try this more affordable Boots option when it was on offer. And, I'm obsessed. Vitamin C has always reacted well with my skin, so that was one motivation. I've now ditched my cleansing water most nights in favour of this (unheard of). I massage it into dry skin to remove my makeup, before removing with a muslin cloth. It smells citrussy, and literally removes every spec of makeup, including mascara. There is not a trace left over. My face feels super clean afterwards and my complexion looks brightened. It says to use as the first step in a double cleans but I really haven't found it necessary. It's fab.

Aesop oil-free facial hydrating serum: Another godsend. I picked this up in the same little haul, and it's doing wonders for my face! It's a lightweight serum - I use it over hydraluron and under my makeup - and it manages to keep my face hydrated but not greasy. It is dispensed with a pipet, and after rubbing into skin it has a slight tackiness for a couple minutes. Something about this finish I think does wonders for makeup application. Every time I wear this my makeup wear is extended - things look fresh and stay put all day long, regardless of what products I'm using. I'd recommend it as much as a primer (which it doesn't claim to be!) as a moisturiser. Love me a bit of aesop.

Mac Patina eyeshadow: Last but not least, a much loved but often forgotten about shadow. I go in and out of phases with my mac collection, but I pulled out Patina again this month and I really do love the look of it. It's a pewter shade - slightly taupe, slightly bronze, slightly golden. Every time I looked in the mirror I was positively surprised and then kept remembering it was this. It's almost inspired me to do a spot of mac shopping while I'm here in the States.


Fails

Trevor Sorbie Rejuvinate Gentle shampoo & conditioner: I needed a new shampoo and conditioner on a recent Boots run and at the last minute swapped a much cheaper set for these two, which on special were both for 12 pounds, normally 8 pounds each. Not awful but not chump change. They are targeted at very fine hair and promised me the world - good for thickening, volume, moisture, the lot! They smell good but the results are terrible!! I have found the shampoo to be extremely stripping. Before applying conditioner my hair feels like brittle straw. Mega fail. And in light of this, the conditioner is far too light, to almost be ineffectual. It is indeed 'weightless' but it just doesn't work. Since using this for a couple weeks my hair feels dry and lifeless. To top it off, it makes my hair feel MORE FINE than usual!!! Could it get any worse?! Yes - it makes my now flat, lifeless hair greasy and needing a wash in record time. Dry damaged ends, and flat greasy scalp.... save your pennies people.