30 September 2013

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

I have been raving about beauty blenders for months, finding them the perfect way to get a truly flawless finish. I've never tried the original Beauty Blender, but I've tried my fair share of dupes from 99p eBay finds to online finds like the Makeup Blending Sponge. They are one of my favourite makeup products; they've completely transformed my bases and made me a complete beauty blender addict. 

So, how exactly do you use a beauty sponge? To use, you simply hold under running water - I prefer cold, as it makes my base apply smoother - and let the sponge expand and fill with water, before squeezing out the excess water, quick squeeze in a clean hand-towel, and it's ready to use! You use a beauty sponge to apply and blend your foundation, and the theory is that by pressing the foundation onto your skin with a sponge - almost bouncing it lightly but firmly off of your skin - you will be left with a flawless base. This is something I have found is true with every variety I have tried, regardless of price.

When I heard Real Techniques were releasing their very own spin on the original Beauty Blender, I was more than a tad excited. Like, squealing in delight and voicing my elation on Twitter kind of excited. The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge* (Beauty Chamber*, £4.99) is different to any beauty blenders I have tried before. For starters the most obvious difference is the shape. The Real Techniques version isn't the standard egg shaped sponge, it's been precisely sculpted for use on all facial contours, and features. It has curves and points, rounded smooth surface for application in a variety of techniques. It's more versatile, I think, than the popular simple egg shape. As well as being incredibly easy to use, I love the way you can technically use it for three products in one. Using one surface for under eye correctors and concealers, highlighter and foundation, putting all three surfaces to good use! It's pictured dry, and it does expand a little when you use it but not so much as smaller, more compact and firm sponges do. This sponge is soft when dry, softer when wet and expanded. I think this makes a big difference, and a positive one at that, when compared to other varieties I have tried. It's much easier to use with the softer sponge, than my other beloved beauty blenders are. I think I may just repurchase another, so I have two for use between brush washing - and ditch the others to the back of my makeup drawer! Because this has taken number one spot as my favourite beauty sponge. Well done Real Techniques, well done.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
On my nails is Illamasqua Loella and L'Oreal Confettis Topcoat

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*This post contains a PR gifted product, however all views are my own and 100% honest.

29 September 2013

#MyLittleSkincareProject - Oily Skin # 2

Throughout segment two of #MyLittleSkincareProject, each skin type has been sharing their top product recommendations for their skin type. This week, us oily skin girls are taking the limelight and I alongside Katie and Dhruvee, my oily skin partners in crime, we're going to take you through the products that work best for us! This is definitely going to be a long post, so grab a cuppa and get your pen at the ready for a ton of product recommendations aimed at battling oily skin! 

Don't forget you can read the previous posts to find out the background on our skin and what our skincare routines are, as well as ingredients we gravitate towards and ingredients we try to avoid. All previous posts in the project are linked at the bottom of this post, and be sure to share your oily skin product recommendations with us too. Any excuse for me to add another skincare product to my wishlist!

I have oily skin - Here's my top 5 recommended products!

Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask (Origins, 100ml, £22) - Origins masks are well loved in the beauty World and for me, they are some of the most effective. A face mask is a very important step in my routines, so I had to include one in my top 5. Clear Improvement probably isn't the mask I enjoy using the most, or use for just simple pampering nights. But it's a mask I turn to repeatedly for how wonderfully effective it is at clearing my pores, making my complexion seem fresher, brighter and leaving my pores barely noticeable. I usually stick this just on my t-zone, but sometimes for a real deep cleanse, I'll pop it all over. It isn't quite as hard acting as my Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask, but it's much more purse-friendly price makes it a mask I can use more often for almost instantaneous results. 

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye (Kiehl's, 15ml, £24.50) - This is a product which features on the blog pretty frequently, and it's a product that will always be in my evening skincare routine - it's irreplaceable! This works hand in hand with another favourite Kiehl's product; Midnight Recovery Concentrate. A rich cream enriched with Butcher's Broom, squalane, evening primrose and lavender, this is instantly soothing on my skin whilst also being rice enough to look after my delicate under eye skin. It's just got that something-something more than any other eye creams I have used, and it leaves my skin feeling softer and looking fresher - it even prevents under eye concealers creasing!

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner (Clarins, 100ml, £25) - Exfoliating is an important step for any oily skin sufferer and lately, I'm opting more for gentle based exfoliators like the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator, than my more abrasive manual exfoliators. This has helped both the oily aspect of my skin, and the dehydrated aspect. It leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft, being gentle enough to be super effective without adding any problems to my dehydrated areas. My oil seems considerably more managed since I switch to these sort of exfoliators, and the Clarins one takes 1st place as my favourite - a must have for any skin type! Although I still like a manual exfoliator sometimes, too, and thoroughly recommend the Origins Never a Dull Moment and Origins Modern Friction facial scrubs. 

HealGel Intensive* (Space NK*, 30ml, £37.50) - This is a miracle serum, seriously. I love serums and recently fell in love with the NUXE Nuxellence Jeunesse Youth and Radiance Fluid, which I thought was unbeatable - until I tried this. I've been trying the HealGel range from Space NK for around five weeks now and have a full review plus exclusive Q&A with one of the founders, coming this week. But I had to include it in this post - I am absolutely besotted, and the positive changes in my skin since using this are just incredible. This helps to leave my skin soft, supple and feeling firmer, whilst leaving me with a fresh complexion, brighter more youthful skin, and it's also super gentle and soothing so perfect for after cleansing. Since using this serum, which is non-greasy and non-oily, I have found my skin to be so much happier. It's difficult when you have oily skin to find a product that can give you radiance without adding to the oily side of your skin - this is perfect, has even helped control my oil and the benefits to my skin are just phenomenal - the amount of times I've been told my skin looks 'glowing' since using this, is ridiculous. Love, love, love. 

Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Booster (Boots, 30ml, £24.99) - This is one of those products that I could never be without. When you suffer from oily skin, as well as having dehydrated areas, you want something that's moisturising, rejuvenating and softening for your dehydrated areas, but which is gentle enough with both ingredients and a formula that doesn't aggravate your oily skin. Hydraluron is the perfect cheat product that helps both aspects of my skin type, with not the most miraculous results, but results which are very much missed if I miss it out of my routine. It gives my skin that extra boost of hydration it desperately needs, without encouraging more oil to invade my skin. The Illamasqua Hydra Veil is also a quick-fix alternative to Hydraluron!

Katie has oily skin - Here are her top 5 product recommendations! 

"Firstly, it was quite hard to whittle down my top skincare picks as my skincare draw is literally bursting at the seams. Let's start in order of my routine...

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm (Feel Unique, 100ml, £34) - I've used a fair new cleansers in my time but I'd never jumped onto the 'balm' hype. That was until I began using the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm. This stuff is seriously amazing. I tend to use it more on an evening as it is quite rich and it literally melts away my make up with ease, even mascara which I think is the true test. I remove the residue with a hot flannel and my skin is left ridiculously clean, plumped and radiant. It does what it says on the tin so to speak, and then some. It really exceeded my expectations. I do have to leave it in the fridge sometimes as it can melt when it's warm. The only downside is the packaging, as you can see the plastic lid has gone MIA. Often, I've found that the lid does not stay put and the product has a tendency to leak. That aside, I'm glad I caved to the hype. 

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (Boots, 30ml, £13) - As my skin is oily, I do have concerns over excess oil and breakouts. That's where my saviour, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo comes into play. I've used this for a while now and my skin has loved it. It's a treatment that I use morning and night to keep spots and excess oil at bay - when I first started using it I didn't notice much difference but I persevered and I must get a spot once in a blue moon. It's that good that I've actually just finished my second tube. 

Origins GinZing Moisturiser (Origins, 50ml, £23) - For the longest time, I'd struggled to find a daily moisturiser that I really loved so when I saw the Origins GinZing Moisturiser I was intrigued; it's an energy-boosting moisturiser which isn't something I'd usually go for. So glad I did, it firstly smells ahh-mazing - like super zesty oranges. It feels amazing and my skins nicely hydrated and looks super radiant and healthy.

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (REN, 50ml, £30) and Origins Drink Up Intensive (Origins, 100ml, £22) - Mask wise, it's all about REN Glycolatic Radiance a Renewal Mask and Origins Drink Up Intensive. When my skins feeling a little lackluster I tend to smoother my face with the REN mask, it's like marmalade in consistency which takes some getting used to but it really boosts my skin. Despite having oily skin, it can still get dehydrated so I tend to use the Origins one on a weekly basis and again, being Origins it smells beautiful. I slather it on before bed and wake up with seriously hydrated, plump skin."

Dhruvee has oily skin - Here are her top 5 recommend products! 

"Hi guys, today I’m going to be discussing with you my Top 5 favourite products for oily skin! Oily skin is a blessing in disguise. Sebum (the oil on our skin) protects us from harmful UV rays and keeps those premature wrinkles at bay. Unfortunately, it comes in the disguise of skin that is prone to acne and bad breakouts! Luckily I don’t suffer from a lot of breakouts. It’s very rare in fact. And here are my secrets!

L’oreal Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution (Boots, 200ml, £4.99) - This product has been raved about A LOT in the blogging community, and rightly so! It’s a water based solution that acts as an eye makeup remover, cleanser and toner in 1! It’s oil free and also scent free, making it virtually perfect for most, if not all, skin types. Chances of breakouts are minimal with this product and it really leaves you feeling fresh! Some say it’s a cheaper alternative to Bioderma.

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pore & Shine Daily Wash (Boots, 200ml, £4.49) - “Pore and shine”, can you guess this is for oily skin? This face wash is very inexpensive and has been proven to remove 77% of excess sebum (oil)! Sometimes washes make my skin feel really tight and dried out, this one doesn't do that at all! This face wash also contains fruit extracts and natural acids as well as glycerin to help reduce oils, brighten the skins complexion, and maintain optimum moisture levels.

No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Brush (Boots, £24.99) - Another favourite of mine is No7's Clarisonic Dupe: the No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Brush. I bought this when it first came out and have not put it down since. It’s an electric brush with a detachable brush head – so you can clean the brush after use without risk of electrocuting yourself, and can also replace it! It’s battery powered and has 2 different settings: slow, and fast to suit your needs. I use this about 2/3 times a week and it really maintains my pore congestion keeping those nasty blackheads at bay.

St Ives Apricot Microdermabrasion Scrub (Boots, 150ml, £4.29) - A scrub that I love using daily is St Ives Apricot Microdermabrasion Scrub. This scrub contains micro crystals to help exfoliate the skin and rid it of any dead skin cells. It also contains corn, apricot, flower extracts and other natural ingredients that gently cleanse the skin leaving you with radiant, glowing looking skin. It also smells amazing!

Superdrugs De-Stressing Mud Mask (Superdrug, one sachet, 99p) - Last but not least is my favourite mask; for just 99p you really can't go wrong. This mask is paraben free and contains natural ingredients like aloe vera to stay gentle to your skin, while tightening up your pores. It also has avocado oil and green tea to help purify the skin and maintain moisture levels. I love using this mask on a weekly basis to give my skin a deep clean.

A little fact for you: don’t dry your skin out with products, if you do that, your skin will over compensate and produce more oil! Keep it moisturised, just not oily!"

Well, I definitely have a few more products to pop on my skincare list. I hope you've enjoyed reading our product recommendations, and if you have oily skin too we'd love for you to share your favourite products with us in the comments below. Your recommendations could help us and anyone else reading with oily skin! Next week we're talking combination skin, and my combination skin bloggers will be talking you through their favourite products. So if you've got combo skin, be sure to have your pen and pad at the ready next week! 


27 September 2013

Vichy eye makeup remover, better than Clarins?

Vichy Purete Thermale Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover

My favourite eye makeup remover has to be the Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover. I like to wear a lot of very pigmented products and my eyes particularly, are usually blended with multiple shadows from the highlights through to dark creases. Then there's the eye liner, which has to be the exact same thickness and precise on both eyes - so I usually opt for a liquid eyeliner, like the Illamasqua Precision Inks or the Paul & Joe Fluid Eye Liner. Add to that mascara, usually one that adds tons of volume and really, really black, like the Benefit BAD Gal Mascara, not forgetting my Benefit Browzings, I need a really heavy duty remover! But when I was nearing the end of my beloved Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover, I was a bit lower on cash and so the splurge for such a high end product, was out of my reach. I needed to find a good alternative, that was more purse-friendly but still a good bi-phase formula. I tried a few from the high street, finding none really did what they claimed - I'd be left with skin which felt oily and greasy, and makeup still on my eyes. One day during a cheeky Internet shop, I spotted that Vichy did a bi-phase makeup remover that I hadn't tried. I couldn't resist giving it a go.

The Vichy Purete Thermale Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover is very similar to it's more extravagant Clarins counterpart. It's a bi-phase cleanser, completely free from parabens, it's non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic and has even been road tested on sensitive eyes - so it's a real gentle product! I find this doesn't have a very stand out scent, but the scent is pleasant. There is a good balance of product between dual non-greasy oil and Vichy Thermal Spa Water, so the formula won't leave any unwanted greasy, oily feel to your skin. To use, I moderately soak two cotton pads and hold them on each eye for around 30 seconds. Depending on how much makeup I'm wearing that day, and how intense the shades were, it usually comes off pretty easy with a few swipes after 30 seconds. Sometimes I have to work harder to get my makeup off, especially if it's a long-wear product, so I will sometimes need to do this again, for another 15 seconds or so. It takes off eyeshadow, bases, eyeliner, brows, highlight and mascara with no problems, just make sure you use a moderate amount! I've really enjoyed using this as an alternative to the higher end Clarins one, and I'm swaying more towards repurchasing this one from now on, rather than splurging to repurchase the Instant Eye Makeup Remover. For now, at half the price and a pretty good product, I'm sticking to Vichy. (Escentual, 150ml, £9.10)  

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26 September 2013

theBalm Bahama Mama, Sexy Mama and Hot Mama

theBalm Powders

theBalm is a brand whose products always excited me and leave me lusting. Their products are just amazing; very similar in quality to Urban Decay where their shadows are concerned, with the colour pay-off off NARs and formula of MAC for their cheek products. The Mary-Lou Manizer is a favourite highlighter of mine (and a recent blogger favourite, it's very popular right now!, and Betty-Lou Manizer is the perfect bronzed highlight; nothing compares. Their cheek products are 'stand out from the crowd' for me, and today I'm going to be sharing my thoughts on three of their powders. 

theBalm packaging throughout their ranges is fun, unique and stand out, but I particularly love the packaging for their powder products. A cute compact, made from durable, sturdy cardboard with a little compact mirror, comes in a sleeve designed to perfectly match the packaging on the actual product. The ingredients and all the finer details are inside of these sleeves and there is a vintage theme running throughout the packaging. I love the way each of these products makes me think of 1940's and 1950's post cards or actresses you would see in American films as a kid growing up - particularly ones with Elvis Presley in! (OK Sophia, showing your age now!) 

theBalm Bahama Mama Bronzer

theBalm Bahama Mama* (Beauty Chamber*, 7.08g, £12.50) - Bahama Mama is a multi-purpose product that can be used to contour, for all over warmth as a bronzer, or even as an eyeshadow. In flip cardboard (but very sturdy and heavy duty) packaging, it comes with a little compact mirror and theBalm refer to it as 'a Caribbean getaway in a compact!'. A matte bronzer, this could be a touch to dark for some of you paler beauties, but the fact it's matte means it can easily be used for a multiple of makeup tricks. Bahama Mama looks very, very deep and dark, intense even in the pan, but don't let that scare you! A slight hand and a good contour brush like the Sigma F40 Large Angled Contour, and you're set for defined perfection. Lightly dusted on a bronzing brush like the Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush, swept over your face and with a bit of definition in areas where we need it, and you're left with a golden glow to rival that of beauties on Caribbean beaches. Need a matte brown eyeshadow? This works just as well for that, too, and doesn't crease or smudge throughout the day. A little bit of trial and error with application, and you're set to fall as in love with this as me. 

theBalm Sexy Mama* (Beauty Chamber*, 7.08g, £12.50) - I have a love/hate relationship with setting powders or anything along those lines. I used to adore the Rimmel Stay Matte Translucent Powder, but then found it just made me look cakey and it was time for something better. This year I completely and utterly fell in love with the Ben Nye Banana Powder, but it's really a bit messy to use and take anywhere, so I've been looking out for an affordable, fuss free, travel friendly powder which is a bit more for every-day use. Sexy Mama is exactly that. An anti-shine translucent powder, Sexy Mama uses a revolutionary formula with tiny oil-adsorbing spheres which prevent any unwanted shine throughout the day. It leaves an almost matte finish on the skin, so I apply this only on my T-zone and under my eyes to set concealer. On a good day, this will sort me out and keep the oil at bay no problems. If my skin is acting up and I'm having a particularly oily day, I need to reapply. But for on the go, and for a far less messy alternative to the Banana Powder, it does the job perfectly. To apply, I use my Real Techniques Powder Brush.

theBalm Sexy Mama Anti-Shine Translucent Powder

theBalm Hot Mama* (Beauty Chamber*, 7.08g, £12.50) - Hot Mama is another multi-purpose product and one that I think a lot of you will like. Does the shade look familiar? To me, Hot Mama is the perfect NARS Orgasm alternative, with a bit more depth to it than the high-street dupe, Sleek Rose Gold. Perfect for a pop of colour on your cheeks, perfect enough for a peachy pink highlight if super lightly applied, and even great doubled up as an eyeshadow to totally transform a look, this has become a regular in my everyday makeup routine. With a pinky-peach hue and a touch of shimmer; fine, subtle and flattering, this is one of those products I can't help reaching for. A shade which I think will easily compliment a huge variety of skin tones, from the palest of beauties to the darkest of vixens. 

As per usual I'm massively impressed by these theBalm products. I have never tried a theBalm product which hasn't surpassed my expectations and they're a brand that deliver time and time again. Keep an eye out, as I have another theBalm review coming up of some blushes I snatched up in a recent sale! 

theBalm Hot Mama Blush

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*This post contains a PR sample which were kindly sent to me for review, however all opinions are 100% my own.

25 September 2013

September Top 5 - Favourites

September Top 5

Since last months' Top 5, I've been dying to share my September Top 5 with you all. Although I loved all of the products featured in my August Top 5, suffering a bad reaction to HD Brows really limited the things I could include. I was off of makeup for a good couple of weeks and so no makeup featured in my August Top 5. This month, nearly everything is makeup! With four lovely makeup products and one ingenious skincare product, my September Top 5 is one of my favourites of the year so far! 

MaxFactor Whipped Creme Foundation (Boots, £9.99) - I've kind of been going on and on about this foundation, which I picked up at the beginning of September. I've never tried mousse or whipped foundations before. Liquid, powder, even cream, but mousse? Nope! I've always thought mousse foundations would be cakey and patchy on my naturally oily skin, which also has a few dehydrated patches. But deciding to give it a go I picked one up and haven't looked back since! It's super easy to apply, isn't too thick and definitely doesn't leave a cakey look. In fact, it blends to a flawless finish, slightly more on the matte side, but very weight-less and comfortable on the skin. I've a full review of this in the pipelines, so keep an eye out! 

September Top 5

Clarins Splendours Bronzer (Clarins, £30) Limited Edition - This beauty was from the Summer Splendours collection and it's a product I think I'm going to have to quickly repurchase, before it sells out for good. Forever one of my favourite bronzers, this is just stunning and although I have quite a few bronzers in my collection, none of them compare to this beauty from Clarins. It gives the perfect warm glow which can be subtly applied or all over for a more bronzed beauty complexion. It's buttery soft powder formula is very easy to work with, it blends nicely and doesn't leave any unwanted orange tinge. It's natural, has a flash of highlight that really brings out the almost perfect golden tan glow and it's absolutely stunning from packaging, to embossed detailing, to product. Love, love, love. If you hadn't already snapped this up, I suggest you get one soon. Once this beauty is gone, it's gone! 

HealGel Intensive* (Space NK*, 30ml, £37.50) - HealGel is a brand I've recently been introduced to who have quite Frankly, had me more excited about a trio of skincare products and a skincare brand than I have probably been all year. I won't say too much here, as I have a Brand Spotlight post on HealGel coming up along with an exclusive Q&A with one of HealGel's founders, but let's just say this serum is unbelievable! Working to soothe irritated skin, repair damaged layers of skin as well as providing our skin with a protective barrier, HealGel can improve the appearance of scarring, redness, irritation and even puffiness. It smells lovely, it feels lovely and it benefits my skin tremendously. I can't wait to share more about the full HealGel range with you all very soon - keep an eye out! 

September Top 5

CoverFX Total Cover Cream Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF30 (BeautyBay*, £34) - First up let me start by saying woah CoverFx, you have got one hell of a shade range! There's a huge 28 shades in the CoverFX Total Cover Cream Foundation range, with a huge variety for both paler and darker beauties. I've been trying out the shade G50, a warm medium tan shade with yellow undertones. There's three 'series' in the shade range. The P series is for skintones similar to Emma Stone, Adele or Julianne Moore, the N series is suitable for those with similar tones as Kate Winslet, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Aniston and the G series is for all those Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Lucy Lui's out there. This is a heavy coverage foundation, but if applied lightly and buffed in can create a weightless, flawless finish. Easily buildable, you can even cover tattoos with this beauty (although I'd never cover mine, this might be of help to those of you who want to cover tattoos for weddings, etc!) Suitable for all skin types the CoverFX Total Cover Cream Foundation is free from mineral oil, fragrance, parabens, gluten and talc. With a built in broad spectrum SPF30, the coverage of this foundation will allow you to hide any imperfections, such as blemishes and scarring, whilst also been workable enough to use as a light under-eye concealer. This has been a much reached for product for me the past few weeks and has been the perfect base, with a lovely medium between matte and dewy, leaving a glowing finish. The shade is definitely a great match to my current tan, but I suspect come the colder and inevitably paler months, I may have to pop this away until next Summer... a great excuse to pick up a lighter shade for the Winter! 

Lipstick Queen 90 Perfect Pigment Bright Rose Shimmer (Space NK, £20) - Lipstick Queen is a brand I always happily swatch away at whenever I visit Space NK, and I've recently fallen in love with the one Lipstick Queen product I own - a beautiful rosy lipstick from the 90 Percent Pigment range. There's 20 shades in the range, with a moisturising feel to the lips and creamy soft formula, that's packed full of pigment for a true opaque colour. A full coverage lipstick, this has been a favourite over the past six weeks or so and it's perfect long lasting colour has been a favourite choice for long days out where I want a fuss-free colour. The formula is so dreamy, and I plan on picking up a berry shade for Autumn as well as trying one of the Lipstick Queen Chinatown Glossy Pencils.

So that's my September Top 5! If you have tried any of these products I'd love to hear your thoughts on them and don't forget to tell me what made it into your September Top 5! Feel free to leave me links to your September Top 5/September favourites posts, they're some of my favourite posts to read! 

September Top 5

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*This post contains a PR sample which were kindly sent to me for review, however all opinions are 100% my own


24 September 2013

Diptyque Philosykos, worth the hype?

I'm pretty easy when it comes to scents. Fruity, floral, spicy, I like pretty much all scents - except aniseed and marzipan. Perfume wise I have quite a selection, both from the cheapest of the cheap on the high-street, to a select few high-end scents which are treated like prized possessions, to be used sparingly and for 'special occasions'. In my time of reading beauty blogs and running my own, there's one scent which just kept popping up everywhere; Diptyque Philosykos. Everyone seemed to either have it and adore it, or lust after it, but I didn't get the attraction. Diptyque are infamous for their very high-end scents and it's just never a brand I ever considered, let alone thought I would own something from. 

Back in April whilst shopping before the London meetup I arranged with Sophie and Lisa, a few of us popped into Liberty. If you walk into Liberty from the back entrance, you walk through the seriously tempting chocolate and sweet counters, straight into the Diptyque room. I decided to see what all the fuss was about and so I stopped mid-step, picked up Philosykos and spritzed myself. And that was that; there was no point from that moment on-wards that I could imagine my life without this scent. Sounds a bit melodramatic, right? 

To me, Philosykos is like being home. With the most exquisite, true scent of freshly ripened figs I have ever smelt in a beauty product before, this takes me straight back to a road side in Cyprus in the blazing heat, buying fresh figs off of the back of a van. As soon as I smell this, every single time I use it, I instantly feel like I'm back in Cyprus. The scent is soothing to me, it feels natural and it's so unbelievably beautiful - it's the most precious scent I own. Easily the most expensive fragrance I have ever bought, I think Diptqyue Philosykos is stuck with me for life now, because I genuinely don't think I could ever be without this scent. Worth every penny - for the memories alone, if not the most beautiful scent in the World. (Liberty, 50ml, £50)

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23 September 2013

Brand Spotlight: NYX, a new favourite brand!

Products from NYX Cosmetics

I was first introduced to NYX through the many American beauty YouTubers that I adore to watch, who left me lusting after more NYX products than I care to admit. NYX definitely seems to be a popular brand among beauty adorers and their very purse-friendly prices make them a budget-friendly brand anyone can delve into. I have been trialing six products from NYX over the past few weeks and it's safe to say, I'm well and truly hooked! 

NYX Powder Blush* (Cocktail Cosmetics*, 6.4g,  £6) - NYX powder blushes are by far some of the most raved about blushes I've seen on YouTube - remembering I watch a lot of American beauty YouTubers. The powder blushes are the NYX's products I lusted after the most. With the most perfect formula, these blushes are soft, yet firm enough not to cause drop out. They are highly pigmented, with great long lasting colour which can be both subtle or more defined, depending on your application. The soft formula makes them super easy to blend and they are just so wearable, I love them! There's 20 shades available in America, but here in the UK we can get hold of 8 shades, so I'm hoping the other shades are brought over here soon! They're super budget-friendly, costing less than most high-street brands in Boots and there's literally a shade for everyone. I've been trying Taupe, a beautiful warm shade which can be used as a natural blush or with a bit more oomph for a contour. I've also been using Amber, which is a bit more Autumn friendly than the shades I've been opting for over the past six months. It's a warm pink, but its still very natural and just gives me that pop of colour I'd get from the wind on my cheeks. It's that sort of nice warm rosy glow! I can't wait to add more NYX powder blushes to my collection!

NYX Powder Blushes

NYX Push-Up Bra for Eyebrow* (Cocktail Cosmetics*, £9.50) - I'm not sure what I love this product more for; the fact it really is an amazing product that does exactly what I need, or the rather unusual name. Either way, this has become a daily regular in my makeup routine. My face is very chubby, so none of my features are naturally defined and none of my features easily stand out on their own, whereas they do on slimmer, more defined faces. Because of this I like to go all out when it comes to contouring and highlighting - I need to give my face a little extra helping hand! I've had products like Push-Up Bra before and most recently the one I've hailed as unbeatable, is the Sigma Highlighting Pencil. At £10.25, the Sigma alternative isn't much more price wise than the NYX Push-Up Bra. But they do differ, in both formula and use. The Sigma Highlighting Pencil is solely that - a highlighting pencil with two different highlighters. The NYX Push-Up Bra is multi-purpose, with an end for a light, neutral highlight shade and finish with a warm brown brow pencil on the other end, for your brows. I adore the Sigma Highlighting Pencil, but there's no denying the ease of having a highlighter and brow pencil in one product is fantastic for on the go touch ups and the brow pencil is soft enough for light, hair-like application. The highlighter isn't as good as the Sigma one; it's slightly less vibrant in colour and also a little bit more waxy, which makes it less easy to use than the Sigma one. But for people on the go, like me who commutes up and down the Country for Uni, a product like this is invaluable and saves space in my travel makeup bag (for yet another lippy!) 

NYX Push-Up Bra

NYX Rouge Cream Blush* (Cocktail Cosmetics*, £5.50) - The Summer of 2013 was well and truly the Summer I embraced the cream blush. At the beginning of Spring I didn't own one single cream blush; now they're the first product I look for when in Boots! I am completely converted to the cream blush 'trend' and NYX Rouge Cream Blushes have easily climbed the way to sit at the top with some of my most treasured cream blushes, high-street and high-end included. There's three cream blushes I have been trying from NYX, all of which are absolutely beautiful and each is actually a very close dupe for higher-end brands. Hot Pink is exactly that, a bright, vibrant true pink. A shade which will be more suited to those who like a stand out blush, this packs a punch and it is an almost spot on dupe for MAC Cream Colour Base in Pink Shock - a pro shade! Orange is a vibrant orange, which warm undertones and not too yellow as some orange blushes can be. It's warming, and when blended is very close in colour to the Stila Convertible Colour in Gladiola. Tickled is the most universal shade of the three I have been trying and one I could imagine complimenting many skin tones. Think NARS Orgasm and Sleek Rose Gold, but in cream form, and that's Tickled exactly. A soft rose gold, with slight shimmer and a shade which makes me think of perfect sunsets over paradise. It's muted, it's subtle and it's utterly breath-taking. The NYX cream blushes have a very soft, smooth formula and they are definitely creamy. They don't have that cream to powder finish most high-street blushes have, and leave a lovely pop of colour with a dewy finish, with longevity that rivals high-end brands. Just lovely. 

For my first dabble into NYX I am impressed, and I plan on expanding my collection - there's just too many raved about NYX products that I need to try. If you've tried NYX before, let me know what your favourite product is and what I should try next!

NYX Rouge Cream Blush

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*This post contains a PR sample which were kindly sent to me for review, however all opinions are 100% my own.

22 September 2013

#MyLittleSkincareProject - Sensitive Skin # 2

We're now well into the second segment of #MyLittleSkincareProject and this week it's sensitive skin taking the spotlight! My sensitive skin bloggers Harriet, Scarlett and Rosie are going to be sharing with you their top products for sensitive skin. Be sure to leave a comment recommending your favourite products for sensitive skin, too, and hopefully (or unfortunately for your purses and wallets!) you will have a few lovely products to add to your beauty wishlist.

Since our last sensitive skin type post, one of our sensitive skin bloggers has decided to leave the challenge, so Harriet has taken her place. You can read up on Harriet's skin history in the now edited
MyLittleSkincareProject - Sensitive Skin # 1 post!

Scarlett has sensitive skin - Here are her top 3 recommended products! 
Top 3 products for sensitive skin

"Finding a number of products that really worked for my skin, rather than upsetting it, didn't happen overnight and I suppose different products will work differently depending on the user. However, it's nice to be able to share my findings as perhaps it will provide you (if you too have sensitive skin) with a few new options should you be looking to improve your skin, or simply fit in some new products into your routine. I've always been a bit useless when it comes to 'routines', whether it was with regards to eating (or dieting), taking off my make-up, exercising or skincare. I stick to it for a week, before veering off in another direction, so it's only been in the last few months that I have seen how important a skincare routine is - motivating me to keep to it.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Solution Micellaire for Sensitive Skin (Escentual, 250ml, £9.99) - My one 'go to' product for cleansing, toning and taking off make-up is Bioderma's Sensibio H20 Solution Micellaire. I'm not usually one for buying beauty products because there is a 'hype' surrounding it, but I gave Bioderma a try when it first hit the UK a few months ago and I honestly haven't looked back. It's unbelievably gentle and takes off the dirt/leftover make-up without stripping your skin of the essential oils it needs. When you're a sensitive skin sufferer, using something too harsh on your skin can dry it out to the point of no return (slightly dramatic, but you know what I mean) so finding a solution that cleanses gently is key to finding what works for you long term.
Vichy Idealia Life Serum (Boots, 30ml, £29.50) - Every three days, I tend to wash my face in the shower with Simple's Gentle Exfoliator, as it removes any dead skin cells that can make your foundation look a little bumping, again without stripping the skin too harshly. Then after washing/cleansing/toning, I use Vichy's Idealia Life Serum in the place of my moisturiser, as I find that it is much lighter and smoother and leaves me with a nicer finish. It is quite pricey (I'm usually an affordable products girl) but if you find something that works for you, it's essentially 'priceless'. The entire Vichy range is hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin, but still has a lovely fresh fragrance which I love.
No7 Airbrush Away Primer (Boots, 30ml, £19.50) - Before applying my foundation/base make-up, I now use a primer because I used to find that my skin would dry up towards lunchtime and look very flaky (I don't know whether this was due to it being sensitive or just dry), so to give it a little added moisture, I use No7's Airbrush Away Primer (again, it's hypoallergenic). A tiny five pence piece amount is more than enough, but it works wonders and again leaves skin feeling soft and smooth ready for make-up application.
I guess the same products won't work in exactly the same way for everyone, but hopefully if you have sensitive skin/dry skin, it's given you more of an idea of what to try and what may work! Not everything is going to change your skin dramatically overnight, but sticking to a skincare routine can work wonders! Good luck."
Rosie has sensitive skin - Here are her top 4 product recommendations!
Top 4 products for sensitive skin

"Garnier Skin Baturals Moisture Match Goodbye Dry Ultra-Hydrating Rich Cream (Boots, 50ml, £5.99) - If like me, you were cursed with sensitive skin that's also super dry, you'll know moisturisers are your best friends. Garnier Moisture Match in Goodbye Dry is specifically formulated for very dry skin. It absorbs into the skin super quick, is very hydrating, and it doesn't irritate my skin one bit! It's made with shea butter, which is known for it's soothing properties, so goodbye to any irritated skin! 
L'Oreal Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution (Boots, 200ml, £4.99I love micellar solutions, as they take off any make up so easily compared to face wipes which always made my sensitive skin inflamed and red. It's super gentle, so I haven't had any problems with this at all, it's even gentle enough for me to remove any eye make up too! It helps unclog pores too, so it's a deep clean that doesn't leave my skin feeling sore. I doubt I'll ever use a face wipe again! One cotton pad with this on easily takes off my make up. 
Body Shop Warming Mineral Mask (The Body Shop, 100ml, £10) - Although I was wary of buying this, as it contains fragrance which can lead to skin irritation, I took the plunge and bought it after reading loads of great reviews online. I found it effortlessly made my skin feel super soft and smooth to touch. I didn't notice any inflammation after using this - it just makes my skin feel very, very clean. I love this mask as it doesn't 'set' and go hard like some, which I feel doesn't help with any sensitive skin or dry skin I might have. As it's all natural too, there's no nasty chemicals!
Nivea Creme (Boots, 50ml, £1.49) - This little pot is my skin saviour. It's a super thick creme which easily soothes any sore skin (it even works on red noses when you have a cold!). It easily hydrates my skin and gives it a bit of TLC. I love using this on my cheeks (where my skin is most sensitive and dry) in the winter as it's so heavy duty and I love the fact it's not full of nasty chemicals."
Harriet has sensitive skin - Here are her top 3 product recommendations!
Top 3 products for sensitive skin

"Finding products to soothe and treat sensitive skin can be quite a feat. Over the years I've managed to amass a number of products that have made the cut - they're gentle, soothing, moisturising and most importantly of all they don't irritate my skin. Here's my top 3.

MooGoo MSM Soothing Cream (MooGoo, 270g, £17) - This is a relatively recent addition to my skincare arsenal but it has, quite simply, changed my life. I hadn't heard of the MooGoo brand (it's Australian) until I saw someone raving about it and, after being sucked in by its impressive claims and ingredients list, ordered myself this giant bottle. It's a specialty cream designed to treat sensitive skin and the problems that it can bring with it like eczema, dermatitis and pityriasis rosea. It's unscented and formulated with MSM (organic sulfur), sweet almond oil, allantoin, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera and Honey. The product page provides a full list of what each ingredient offers the skin. This is rich without being heavy, and truly soothing. It hydrates my skin whilst cooling and soothing the redness and has made an absolutely enormous change; my skin is much more even in tone, far more supple and all-round healthier. I can't sing its praises enough. It's not the most glamorous brand, nor packaging, but it really truly works and has made such a massive difference in caring gently for my skin.

Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum (Luxury Hair and Beauty, 30ml, £26.10) - As I mentioned in my introductory post, keeping my skin really hydrated helps in turn to stave off the sensitivity that dryness brings. This is my hydration hero - the one product that works continuously and quickly to provide moisturisation that goes the distance. I apply this religiously morning and night to ensure my skin is always hydrated and it really combats dryness and settles redness. It's only a 30ml bottle and it doesn't last a long time, so it is a fairly expensive option - but it's an investment and for me, every penny is worth it. This is my third bottle and I can't see myself switching it up anytime soon.

RMK Cleansing Balm (Birchbox E-Shop, 100g, £29) - I was so excited when I first tried this cleansing balm about a year ago. RMK is a Japanese brand and as a complete Japanophile, as well as how wonderful their products are, I've fallen a bit in love with them. This cleansing balm is super easy to manipulate over the skin so there's no dragging, it smells softly of roses (a slightly 'mature' style rose scent but nothing offensive) and glides across the skin removing every single trace of product in its wake. I've tried Emma Hardie, I've tried Clinique, I've tried Elemis, but this cleansing balm is easily the best for my skin and leaves it feeling super moisturised, supple and plumped out. It contains naturally moisturising grape seed oil, jojoba oil and avocado oil and my skin absolutely reaps the benefits. I was at first concerned that the fragrance in this might irritate my skin, but it's very gentle and it hasn't so far. My favourite cleanser for sensitive skin by a country mile!"

Thank you Scarlett, Rosie and Harriet for sharing your product recommendations with us all! I am dying to try the RMK Cleansing Balm that Harriet recommended, just because I am a total sucker for a good cleansing balm. If you've tried any of these products, let us know what you think to them, and why not tell us what your top products are for sensitive skin? Don't forget to check out the previous posts, too!

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