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Sunday, 27 December 2015

Festive Favourites

I hope that everyone reading had a lovely Christmas if you celebrate it, or just enjoyed the break if you don't! Today I thought I'd share my favourite beauty products I used in December...

I have used the Zoeva Cocoa Blend Palette a lot this month. All the shades are amazing quality for the price of the palette and easily rival much more expensive brands. The mattes are nice quality as well which isn't always the case with more purse friendly palettes. I love the warm gold/ brown shades in particular. Find my full review of the palette here.

I have been wearing the Stila smudge stick eyeliners in 'Damsel' and 'Gilded' along with this palette, 'Damsel' on my upper lash line and Gilded below the eye. I love the formula of these liners (they are incredibly smooth and pigmented) and I also picked these two shades up at a bit of a bargain price in my recent TK Maxx haul.

The Illamasqua Liquid Gold Shatter Sparkle Eye Gloss has been the perfect thing to add a bit of sparkle to my eyes over the festive season. It's actually more wearable than you'd think for a glitter. One thin coat over my eye shadow gives a subtle sparkle but you can go more dramatic by allowing it to dry and adding a second layer. You can see my full review here.

Clinique 'Nude Pop' lipstick appeared in last month's favourites but it has still not left my handbag which is the sign of a lippy being a real favourite so I thought I'd mention it again. As much as a red lip is super festive, I'm definitely more of a smokey eye nude lip girl.

Stila Magnificent Metal lip gloss in 'Rose Quartz' was another item I picked up from TK Maxx, again at a bargainous price and I have found that it's the perfect gloss shade to go on top of nude-pink lipsticks, which are what I wear most often day to day.

The Collection #BlushAndGlow palette really has surprised me. It is super cheap at under £5 for a bronzer/ contour shade, highlight and two blushes, but I have really been enjoying it. The bronzer is a great shade for fair skin as are the blushes and the highlight is a nice subtle shade that is suitable for day wear even on oily skin.

Having some time off for Christmas has meant that I have had more time to have a soak in the bath-it might sound like a small thing but when I'm going to work etc, I don't often have the time to spend long relaxing, having a quick shower or bath instead. I've therefore been making use of my Aromatherapy Associates Relax Deep bath oil. The smell is just gorgeous and really does help me relax. It's very pricey but I'd definitely recommend it if you can manage to pick it up in a sale like I did.

Afterwards, I have been using The Body Shop Almond Body Butter all month. I love their body butters, they're so moisturising and smell amazing. This scent is no exception, who wouldn't want to smell like a walking bakewell tart?! haha.

What were your favourite beauty products this month? Is there anything you'd recommend?

Em x

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Make Up Products I'd Like To Try In 2016!

please see links below for photo links
I often have a mental wishlist of products I'd like to try that's as long as my arm, but then the realities of one person only needing so many things for one face and my funds not being unlimited kick in haha. There are, however, a few things/ brands that I really want to try in 2016 and I thought I'd share my wishlist..

1) Makeup Geek Eye Shadows. I've heard so many good things about them and they seem to have a really nice range of warm neutral matte crease/ transition shades which I love. I also like the idea of making up my own palette and these would be perfect for popping into one of my z palettes. They have recently become available via Beauty Bay here from £4.95.

2) Gerrard Cosmetics Hydra Matte Lipstick is a liquid lipstick that is supposed to be matte and long lasting without drying your lips out. This is another thing I've seen great reviews of and the shade 'Serenity' looks right up my street from swatches online. Again these are available via Beauty Bay, find them for £9.50 here.

3) The third and final product available via Beauty Bay (can you tell I like browsing that site?! haha) is the Zoeva brushes. I bought one of their eye shadow palettes this year and it's just gorgeous, budget friendly and I have got a lot of use from it so it was definitely a good purchase. I've heard rave reviews about their brushes and they're not too expensive so I'd love to try something from their range. The rose golden ones in particular look super pretty! You can find a range of sets and single brushes here.

4) Kiko. I have a few Kiko products that I picked up during a couple of different trips to London but I'd like to try out more from their range. Most things are quite budget friendly and everything I've tried so far has been great quality. I particularly like the look of their eye shadow sticks, which are rumoured to be a dupe of the much more expensive By Terry ones. I would LOVE Kiko to open a store nearer to me up North, but if not I can feel an online order coming on (find their website here). Unusually, they have a minimum order value of £25 on their website but I could easily reach this.

5) Make Up Forever became more easily available in the UK a little while back, when Debenhams began stocking it online here. It's a brand I have been meaning to try for the longest time but wanting to just try one or two things to dip my toe in the water so to speak, I could never decide what to choose! If you have any recomendations of products to start out with, please let me know!

6) Another brand that I've yet to try and would love to is Charlotte Tilbury. It is an expensive brand so it's certainly not something I go buying a lot of all the time but I feel like it's the kind of brand that would make a nice treat, whether that be for someone else or yourself. I have my eye on the eye shadow quads in particular. Find the brand via Selfridges here.

Are there any products you have your eye on to try in 2016?

Em x

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Meet Your (Foundation) Match!

I don't know about you, but I have a few foundations lurking in my make up stash that just aren't quite the right shade. Mostly this is because they're slightly too dark/ orange based. The best foundation match I've ever found is Revlon Colorstay in shade 'Buff' because it is light enough or my fair skin while being quite neutral. I have quite a bit of pink in my skin so I like something to neutralise that (if I wear a pink based foundation it adds to it and I look like I have a crazily pink face). I find that foundations that are light enough are usually too pink based...I would love to know why companies think that if you have fair skin you want to look super pink!

My issues with matching do of course limit the formulas I can wear. I really like, for example, the L'oreal Infallible Matte Foundation, but I can't get a decent match right now. Over the Summer I got away with mixing two shades but now that it's the Winter and I'm even paler (not that I was very tanned you understand, I just had slightly more colour!), I can't even mix the right shade due to their limited selection.

The Body Shop, however, might just have come up with a solution to my problem in the form of their new Shade Adjusting Drops. In these little bottles is a liquid designed to alter the shade of your foundation and they come in lightening and darkening versions. You get 15ml and it comes in a little glass bottle with a dropper type dispenser. I chose the lightening version, which is nearly white but has some pink in it, designed to neutralise yellow tones. This means that I can use a slightly too dark and orangey foundation, mix it with this, and as if by magic, it becomes the right shade! The Body Shop say that 1 drop makes you foundation half a shade lighter and 2 for a whole shade but that does of course depend how much foundation you use. I actually like to put a few days worth of foundation into a little plastic pot and mix the drops in with it so I don't have to mix the right shade every time.

I have so far tried it with the L'oreal Infallible Matte foundation and Max Factor All Day Flawless, both of which I can normally only wear in the Summer. I was able to lighten both to a make a decent match for my skin and it didn't seem to affect the texture or coverage of the foundation too much. The only slight difference was that since the L'Oreal is quite a thick foundation that can require quit a bit of effort tot blend, it seems to ever so slightly thin the texture which actually makes it easier to blend, but that's not something to complain about if you ask me!

I think these are such a good idea and it really wouldn't surprise me if more brands began to bring out similar products in the coming months. Find them here for £10.

What do you think? Have you tried Body Shop's Shade Adjusting Drops?

Em x

Thursday, 17 December 2015


I came across this Collection '#BlushAndGlow' palette in Boots recently and it thought it was such a bargain I had to have it. You know how it pop in there for a couple of essentials you're running out of but out of the corner of your eye, you spot something that you simply must add to your basket! haha. But seriously...this did not break the bank, it was on offer for £3.99 (normally £4.99) and considering it contains a bronzer/ contour, highlight and two blushes, it's an absolute steal.

One thing I will say is that the packaging is not the best and I imagine it will get a bit tatty looking in my make up bag because it's made of cardboard with some flimsy feeling plastic over the front window. However, I'm not going to complain for the price because it's what's inside that counts, right?!

As you can see, the bronzer/ contour shade is pretty much matte and also quite brown which is good because it doesn't look orange on my fair skin. This is swatched quite heavily with my finger but when applied with a brush (I most often use the Real Technique Blush Brush), it has just the right level of pigmentation-enough to be noticeable but it's still easy to work with and not too scary on fair skin.

The highlight has some shimmer to it but it is quite subtle, which makes a change for a budget product. I find that a lot of cheaper highlights are overly glittery or just too much. I like a more dramatic highlight for evening but being a combo-oily skinned gal, I don't like anything super shimmery on my face during the day so this one is ideal.

As far as the blushes go, one is a matte dusky pink kind of shade with the other is more coral and has a bit of a glow to it but again isn't overly shimmery.

Each shade applies nicely and lasts the same length of time on me as most of my other blushes. I can use all of the shades on my skin tone and it's handy to have everything I need cheek wise in one little palette. I would definitely recommend this for the price if you can get over the slightly cheap looking packaging!

Find the palette here (still currently on offer for £3.99).

Have you tried this palette? What do you think?

Em x

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Ultimate Christmas Party Eye: Illamasqua Liquid Gold Shatter Sparkle Eye Gloss

Illamasqua's 'Liquid Gold Shatter Sparkle Eye Gloss' (what a mouthful of a name that is!) is part of their recent 'Equinox' collection. It is just what it says-a sort of chunky gold leaf in a clear gel that can be applied  over eye shadow or liner.

As you can see from the swatches, it doesn't have all that much impact on its own, it just doesn't seem to show up all that much, but over a darker shadow is when it shines, literally! I think it looks gorgeous over this khaki/ bronzey shade I chose from the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette and would be an amazing addition to a festive smokey eye! It catches the light so well. What you can see above is two layers of it over the shadow (I applied one, left it to try for a minute then applied a second). Being in a gel, it is super easy to apply and doesn't fall down onto my cheeks like loose glitters do.

It is £18.50 full price, which might seem a bit expensive for what it is, but I honestly have not seen anything else like it because it is literally chunks of gold rather than your average glitter. I managed, however, to get mine for a bit less with a 20% of ASOS code!

I wish that this wasn't limited edition because unfortunately it seems to be sold out online everywhere I've looked. If you have an Illamasqua counter near you, however, it's well worth checking it out and asking if they have some left!

Have you tried the gold shatter eye gloss? What is your favourite eye safe glitter?

What do you think?

Em x

Thursday, 10 December 2015

A Dangerous (But Marvellous) Place

Where am I talking about? One of my favourite shops to have a snoop around, TK Maxx. I popped in there a week or two ago and their beauty section in particular was amazing! They had lots from Stila, Bare Minerals, Hourglass and even a few things from Tarte, which you can't buy in the UK unless you order from Sephora online (ppplllleeeeaaassseee! find a stockist in the UK, Tarte!). Sadly not all of it was in shades I would wear but I still came out of there with my purse a fair bit lighter. Here's what I chose...

The first thing I picked up is the Nails Inc Hyde Park base coat and Albert Bridge top coat duo (£5.99 down from £12). I really like the nails inc top and base coats and do normally pay the £12 for the set from Boots so this was a bargain!

Next I picked up Dr Bronner's Liquid Soap in the citrus scent (£3.99 down from £5.99). Although this only had a couple of pounds off, I like to use it to clean my brushes and would have repurchased it at some point anyway so I thought I might as well pick it up. I use it in combination with my brush cleaning tool and together it gets my brushes rally clean.

Stila Jewel Eye Shadow in 'Blue Sapphire' (£2.99 down from £12.00) is a gorgeous blue eye shadow with a lot of sparkle running through it. I've had my eye on these shadows for a while now so it was great to be able to try one out for such a bargain price! I'm not really into blues as far as eye shadows go (it's very easy to look like something out of the 80s if you're not careful!) but this is a sort of dusky blue shade almost with a hint of grey and I think it would look nice as part of a smokey eye.I think a blue/ navy smokey eye can actually look quite sophisticated while being a slight twist on the classic grey/ black.

Stila Magnificent Metals Lip Gloss in 'Moonstone' and 'Rose Quartz' (both £4.99 down from £16) are very shimmery, sheer lip glosses that I think will look great on top of lipsticks. They are not too sticky (I can't abide sticky lip glosses so I'm glad) but they're not so thin that they wear off in two minute either-a happy medium. I also love the packaging of these!

The last make up item I picked up was the Stila Sun Goddess Smudge Stick Duo, which contains two smudge stick eyeliners in 'Damsel' and 'Gilded' (£7.99 down from £24). Damsel is a dark brown, almost black shade that I have been through before and I loved but I think I'm correct in saying you can't normally buy this shade as an individual eye liner (my old one came with a palette). Gilded is, as you would expect from the name, a gold/ bronze shade which I will most likely wear on my lower lash line for a bit of subtle definition. I have several of these eye liners in various shades because they are such a great formula. They are super smooth to apply and can be smudged out for a few seconds before they set to a long lasting finish that for me, doesn't budge.

Swatches left to right: Stila sparkle eye shadow  'blue sapphire'; stila smudge sticks in 'gilded' and 'damsel'; stila magnificent metals lip gloss in 'moonstone' and 'rose quartz'.

I then picked up a vegetable wax candle from the brand 'Tilley Australia' for £5.99. I've never heard of the brand but I was smelling the candles and I could not resist this 'Pink Lychee' scent. It is sweet and fruity and just smells like Summer to me. Perhaps not the most appropriate for our current weather (I'm currently burning Yankee Candle 'Christmas Memories' which I LOVE) but I thought it was worth keeping hold of for a while because I love the scent so much. I've therefore yet to burn it but it's one of those candles that is so strong you can just put it in the room unlit and you can smell it. I'm hoping it will smell just as nice when I do use it!

Have you tried any of these products or found any bargains in TK Maxx lately?

Em x

Sunday, 6 December 2015

10 Great Beauty Gifts For Her: £25 and Under

all pictures from the links below
Today I thought I'd share my top picks for mid range beauty gifts, and by that I mean between £10 and £25. They're a bit too big to be called stocking fillers in my opinion and are the sorts of things I personally would buy for friends.

1. This Clarins Cupcake Stockingfiller set contains a mini one of my favourite lip gloss/ balm products, the Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector, and a mini mascara. It is £15 here.

2. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish is one of my favourite ever skincare products and although I try other cleansers, it's been something I've kept coming back to for a few years now. It's a lovely creamy cleanser that cleans the skin well without drying it out and it seems to help sort out my skin whenever it feels a bit spotty or not at its best. The Starter Kit (£13.95 here) contains a 100ml cleanser in a pump bottle and 2 muslin cloths and would make an ideal gift for someone who likes skincare.

3. Benefit always do some really good value sets and this year's 'Pucker Up and Party' set is no exception. It contains full sizes of Posiebalm and Benebalm and mini sizes of Posie Tint and Bene Tint. The Posiebalm and Bene Balm are £14.50 each so £19.50 for two of them plus two minis is a bargain! You can fins it via Debanhams here or from other Benefit stockists.

4. I love Soap and Glory as a brand and my absolute favourite scent is the 'Sugar Crush' line, I kid you not when I say that I love the smell so much that I sometimes have to have a sneaky sniff of the products in my bathroom when I'm not actually using them. The lime scent is just so fresh and zingy and really wakes you up in the shower! I'd therefore recommend the Soap and Glory 'The Zest a Girl Can Get' set, which is £16 here but is part of the Boots 3 for 2 offer.

5. There is a definite trend for cracker style gifts this year and this is one of Boots' offerings. The 6 cracker set contains 3 No 7 BB lips and 3 No 7 nail polishes. You could give this as a whole gift or split them up for little stocking fillers. You can find it for £16 here but it is again part of the 3 for 2.

6. I think make up brushes make a great gift for either someone who already likes make up or for someone who is just starting out with it. Real Techniques are are good quality for the price and this Core Collection Kit is under £15 via Amazon here.

7. I bought myself one of these Champneys Bubble Heaven sets half price after Christmas last year and I must say that they feel very luxurious so they are a good choice for someone who likes bubble baths. They are very thick and come in a pot that you have to scoop a bit out of. You get 3 in the set for £16 here.

8. I think the Sanctuary Sumptuously Soft Slippers set is brilliant value for £16 here considering that you get a pair of spa style slippers and a full size body wash and body lotion (together worth £11). In effect you're getting a pair of slippers and it nicely gift boxed for £5, not to mention that this is again part of the 3 or 2.

9. I love Urban Decay as a brand and I'd love to try their lip glosses so I would be a very happy girl if I received this lip gloss set for Christmas! It contains two travel sized glosses in a nude and a brighter pink,. I like travel size lip glosses because they're something that do go off pretty quickly and I rarely get through a full size. The set is £17 here.

10. Finally is this Clinique 'Whole Lotta Chubby' set, which contains 5 travel sizes of their chubby stick products for lips, eyes and cheeks. I love the original chubby stick lip balms and receiving this as a gift would be a lovely way to be able to try a few products and different lip shades. It's £25 via Boots here or via other Clinique stockists.

Are there any other beauty gifts in this price range that you like the look of or have bought for someone?

Em x

Sunday, 29 November 2015

November Beauty Favourites

I have quite a few favourite make up things this month. I did try to whittle it down but I couldn't miss out any of these since they are genuinely what I've been enjoying this month. Here we go...

Rimmel The Only One lipstick in 'Naughty Nude' is a lovely moisturising feeling yet long lasting lipstick in a darker nude shade. It's more of a 'my lips but better' shade on me rather than a light nude, being slightly darker than my lips and it goes with pretty much any other make up. It's been a handbag staple since I bought it near the end of October. You can read my post about this lippy here.

Clinique nude pop is a lovely nude-pink lipstick shade that is great for my fair skin tone. It's one that I can slap on without a mirror. I picked up a copy of Glamour magazine early in the month and it came with a choice of Clinique freebies. A travel size version of this lippy was my choice and I have been enjoying it so much that I picked up another magazine to get another-it was a bargain even for a mini size at £2 since they are about half the size of a lipstick that costs £16. They have a lovely smooth, moisturising feeling formula and I already had a couple of other shades. Find it via Boots here of other Clinique stockists.

I picked up the Revolution Flawless Palette on a whim after swatching it in Superdrug near the end of October. You get a lot of small eye shadows and a large mirror for the bargain price of £8. The shadows are well pigmented and my most favourite have been the bronzey shades. For the price they are really nice quality and I've been using this palette a lot for day to day wear when I'm going to work etc. I may write a post on this palette because I do feel like it deserves its own review. Find it via Superdrug here (currently you get a free Salvation palette when you spend £8 as well!).

I picked up MAC All That Glitters/ Cork/ Sketch eye shadows this month, two of which were repurchases after completely using them up. I love using All That Glitters over my eyelid, Cork in the crease and Sketch in the outer corner if I want to deepen things up a bit. You can see swatches in my post here.

Blush wise, I have two favourites, one from my stash and one new. Firstly is the Tarte Amazonian Clay blush palette from last year. It was only when I saw a post about this year's palette that I thought to myself that I hadn't actually used mine from last year all that much so I pulled it out and I've really been enjoying it again. You can't get this one any more but you can get this year's version from Sephora or they do the same formula in singles. Secondly is the Too Faced Love Flush blush in the shade 'Love Hangover', which is just beautiful. You can see my full review and a swatch of that one here.

Another repurchase this month was the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. I have and like other cleansers but my skin just seems to really like this one. I'm not sure why but whenever my skin is feeling a bit spotty or not at its best, going back to this really seems to help sort it out. The handy thing is that they now sell it in my local Boots so I can just pick it up rather than having to order online. The 100ml size currently has 10% off here and so does the 100ml with 2 muslin cloths here.

Maybelline nail polish 'Divine Wine' was definitely my favourite nail polish this month. I have said this a few times but the formula of the Super Stay nail polishes is my favourite, even over and above much more pricey brands. This is the perfect Autumn/ Winter nail shade if you ask me! You can see swatches of it in my post here.

Which beauty products have been your favourites lately?

Em x

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Only One?

I've been meaning to post a review on this lipstick for a while because I've had it for maybe a couple of months and it has become quite a favourite. Rimmel claim that their new lipstick formula is 'a no compromise all-in-one lipstick. For long-lasting colour, comfort, moisture and wear' and that once you try it, it will be the only formula you'll ever need. As someone who's pretty keen on lipstick, I'm not sure about that last part, but it's pretty good.

Something I like about the packaging is that there is a little band of colour around the tube that matches the colour of the lipstick. It means that if you had a few of these, it would be much easier to find the shades you were looking for.

I swatched a few shades in store and decided to try the shade 'Naughty Nude', which is a darker nude with a slight pink tone to it-on me it is a genuine 'my lips but better' shade because it is just a little darker than my lips. The one downside to the range is that a lot of the shades are pretty bold and there were only a couple of nudes to choose from.

As for the comfort and moisture claims, they're spot on. The lipstick glides on very smoothly and feels very comfortable to wear. It has quite a bit of 'slip' to it when you rub your lips together at first but settles into a satin finish. It is not at all drying on the lips, making it an easy to wear formula. It really is pretty long lasting in comparison to my other lipsticks of similar texture as well, seeming to turn into a sort of stain after a while. It' a thumbs up from me and I'm already thinking of picking up one or two other shades.

Have you tried the Rimmel 'The Only One' lipstick line?

Em x

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Cutest Blush!

I have been after one of these Too Faced 'Love Flush' blushes for a while now because they just look so amazingly pretty. The outer packaging is just gorgeous and the actual compact reminds me of a Polly Pocket (anyone remember those?). Then you open it to find the beautiful embossing on the blush's almost too pretty to use! Just look at those little bunnies and flowers, it's a shame to spoil them really!

I chose the shade 'Love Hangover' which is a pretty peachy pink shade with a slight glow to it. It's not matte but it's not full of over the top sparkle either (see swatch below). The finish is flattering on the skin and I think this shade is perfect for everyday wear on my fair skin tone.

The blush is nice to work with-nice and soft and pigmented without being too powdery or overly pigmented. Personally, I like a medium level of pigmentation in blush because too much and you have to be super careful using it, which in the morning rush isn't always ideal.

Too Faced claim that the blush lasts 16 hours which is a pretty tall order if you ask me. Most days when I'm working I need my make up to last around 9-10 hours and it certainly lasts for that long. If I am going somewhere in the evening and not re-doing my make up entirely, I would touch up after work and top up my blush. After around 11-12 hours, the blush is still there but has faded slightly.

The only drawback of these blushes is the cost. The full price is £25 which personally I think is a lot for a blush. I think other than this, the most expensive blushes I own are my Illamasqua ones which come in at £22 full price (although I bought them on sale from ASOS so didn't pay that for them!). I picked up this Too Faced one while it had 20% off on the Debenhams website recently, making it £20, which is still pretty steep. Having said that, you really are getting something that looks beautiful rather than a bog standard blush.

Overall, I am really enjoying this blush and I would say that it's a lovely one if you want to treat yourself or it would make a lovely gift for a makeup junkie (Christmas is on its way!)

You can find it here via Debenhams or here via BeautyBay.

Have you tried the Too Faced Love Flush blushes?

Em x

Saturday, 21 November 2015

MAC Shopping

It's really not very often that I buy anything from MAC and it has been that way for a long time. I went through a phase of thinking I needed a huge collection of MAC eye shadows and it was the brand to beat all brands, but that's really not the case. They have some great products, don't get me wrong, but they are certainly not the be all and end all. However, I recently picked up a few things from the Debenhams website while they had 10% off across beauty. It's rare to get any discount at all on MAC and I had a few things I wanted so I thought I might as well take advantage.

I have been putting off repurchasing 'Cork' and 'All That Glitters' eye shadows for a while after completely finishing them (they will be coming up in m next empties post!). I have some similar shades so have been trying to give those some use instead but they're just not quite right. I find MAC shadows to be quite variable and there are some I've tried that have been very poorly pigmented, but these two are great quality and great everyday shades. I like to wear 'All That Glitters' all over my eyelid and cork in the crease for an easy everyday look.

Thirdly, I picked up 'Sketch' eye shadow, which I haven't owned before but I've had my eye on for a while. It's a deep brown-burgundy type shade, which I think will be lovely for using in the outer corner of my eye to deepen it up (a bit more interesting than a standard dark brown). It would also be nice used with purple shades.

Finally, I picked up a replacement Studio Fix Powder Foundation in shade NC15. I have nearly finished one of these and recently picked up the Too Faced powder foundation for a good deal in TK Maxx to see if it would replace it. However, it doesn't have as much coverage and I do prefer the MAC one for carrying in my bag. I will use the Too Faced for putting over foundation lightly when I want to build the coverage of my foundation so it won't go to waste. I like the MAC one for touching up during the day though because having oily skin, if I have a long day I tend to lose a bit of coverage from my nose and chin. A powder with coverage is the perfect way to top up.

What are your favourite MAC products? Is there anything you'd recommend?

Em x

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review: Masque Bar Luminizing Charcoal Peel Off Mask

I recently picked up a box of Masque Bar's Luminizing Charcoal Peel Off Masks. Interestingly, the box says these are made in Korea, a country that is becoming well known for its skincare products. Inside the box you get three one use sachets. At £9.99 full price, I thought they were a bit on the pricey side (there are other masks around the same price that come in a tube and I can get a lot more uses from) but as they were on offer for £6, I decided to give them a go and I thought I'd let you know how I got on with them.

The first time I used this mask, I must say that I found it a little difficult to get all of the mask out of the little sachet. I opened it and squeezed the mask bit by bit onto a flat foundation brush (I don't use it for foundation but it's great for masks) and painted it onto my skin. It probably would have been less fiddly to put the mask into a bowl or something first but having said that, it would also waste some of the product.

Being a charcoal mask, it is a black goop and it feels kind of messy to apply but once it's on, it starts to dry reasonably quickly. The packet says to leave it on for 20-30 minutes or until completely dry and I would say it took about 30 for every bit of it to dry.

Then came the scary part...peeling it off. Let me say that this is not one of those wimpy peel off masks that comes off really easily. I lifted the top edge and slowly started to peel it downwards like it says on the box. It was definitely a bit uncomfortable! I mean not extreme pain or anything but it was a bit like ripping a plaster off...but obviously more slowly because it's covering your whole face. The fact that it had such a good grip and felt like this to peel off, however, makes me think that it is actually pulling any gunk out of my pores etc. I think it is great for if your skin is feeling a bit congested and I imagine it would also be great for blackheads.

What this also makes me think is that you need to be VERY careful you don't get it in your eyebrows/ hairline. It does mention this on the packet but it's worth noting that they really do mean it-I can imagine that peeling the stuff away would take your eyebrows or hair with it!

Once I had peeled the whole mask off (99% of it came off in one piece) my skin felt super clean and fresh as well as really soft. There were just a couple of little bits around the edge of my face that had been left behind so I rinsed my face then continued with my usual night time skincare routine.

Overall I think this seems like a good mask for congested skin/ deep cleansing but only if you are prepared to put up with the 'pulling the plaster off' type feeling. I'm not sure whether I'd pay the full price of £9.99 because I still think it's slightly pricey for 3 single applications, but I was pretty happy with it for £6 and am thinking of picking up another pack while they're still on offer.

Have you tried this or the other Masque Bar masks?

Em x

Thursday, 12 November 2015

My New Makeup Brush Cleaning Tool

I was recently browsing the ASOS site and decided to order a dress. Just before I was going to check out, I found these in the 'New in accessories section' (out of stock as I am writing this but hopefully they will restock them soon). Now these things are meant for exfoliating your face, but I immediately thought that they look a lot like tools I've seen people use to clean makeup brushes and I thought I'd give them a whirl.

The pink rubbery pads have a little handle on the back that I can put between my fingers with the pad face up in my hand, enabling me to wiggle my brushes backwards and forwards over the little bumps/ bristles. As you can see from the picture of it in my hand, it is pretty small but it's big enough for me to clean my brushes effectively. The bristles are very fine and super soft. I put a little drop of Dr Bronner's liquid soap onto the pad and swirl my brush around and it really does foam up a lot in comparison to just using my hand. I'm glad I picked these up because they help get the makeup out from deep in the brush bristles more quickly.

You do get two in a pack so if you just wanted them to use for brushes, you could share a pack with a make up loving friend!

What do you think?

Em x

Monday, 9 November 2015

My Current Favourite Autumn Nails

I've had this nail polish combination on my nails for a few weeks now (I have re-painted my nails with the same colours of course...come to think of it, it really should have appeared in my October favourites). You know I love nail polish when I use it that much because being a bit of a nail polish hoarder (guilty as charged!) I have quite a number of them to choose from.

The first polish is the Maybelline Super Stay 7 days nail polish in the shade 'Divine Wine'. I have mentioned these polishes before because they are AMAZING. As in I'm reluctant to wear any other formula amazing. They really do last well...better than any other nail polish I've tried and that includes much more expensive brands. I get about 5 days out of them (not quite 7) with my usual base and top coat but I am quite hard on my nails and usually I only get 2 days, so that's pretty impressive! They also have a wide, flat brush that makes it easy to apply and all the ones I have look pretty even in one coat. I normally do two for a perfect finish but I can get away with one if I'm in a rush and it still look pretty damn good. Add to that the beautiful berry shade of 'Divine Wine' and I'm totally sold-it's the perfect shade for Autumn/ Winter. You can find it via Superdrug for £4.49/ 3 for 2 here.

I have then been adding an accent nail on my ring finger by topping the Maybelline polish with Nails Inc's'Buckingham Square'-a chunky rose gold glitter. I quite like an accent nail...but my dad apparently doesn't. Me and hubby went out for dinner with my family recently and he asked 'Em...why have you got odd nails?'...but then he probably knows as much about nails as he does about fashion if his constant attempts at fashion advice are anything to go by haha...dads huh? Anyway...the shade came as part of the 'Winter Wonderland' set from last Christmas, which due to buying it in a sale in the middle of Summer, I scored for under £6 instead of the full price of £29. You can still find it online (the cheapest I an find it is £15 via the Nails Inc site here).

What do you think? What is your favourite nail polish shade at the moment?

Em x

Thursday, 5 November 2015

A Day Out In Formby

Me and the hubby had a couple of days off work together last week and we decided to visit a place that I hadn't been since I was a kid-the National Trust site in Formby (near to Southport for anyone wondering). There is a little woodland with, as they call it, a 'squirrel walk' (more on that in a minute) and you can walk through the woodland and onto Formby beach.

We definitely enjoyed the day as it was a lovely place to walk around. It seems very bizarre to be driving down a road full of houses then before you know it you're in the middle of a woodland. We spent a good two and a half hours walking through the woodland and along the beach. Boy did I get my exercise in that day-climbing over the sand dunes seemed near impossible with my short little legs-I just kept sliding backwards with each step lol. Good fun though! A walk along the beach was nice even in the chilly Autumn weather because it was still quite bright.

We came across a couple of interesting carvings on the way, each one made from a single tree trunk and based on the farmland near by...

As for the squirrels...well I was slightly dubious after looking at the reviews on Trip Advisor. They were very mixed and some reviewers said they saw no squirrels at all. It turned out that we saw four, which was a little disappointing considering how many there used to be when I was a kid. I even brought a bag of nuts to try to attract them to no avail. It is pretty rare to see red squirrels these days (although we regularly see lots of the grey variety where we live) so it was nice to see them all the same.

I managed to get a few photos of them, although they could be clearer due to the speed they were moving at (I'm sure it wouldn't be an issue for a pro photographer but I'm not one!). I don't think I've ever seen squirrels move so fast!

It's free to walk around the reserve, although there is a £5.60 parking charge, unless you are a National Trust member, in which case it's free. Overall, we enjoyed the day although it was sad to see the squirrel population in serious decline.

Have you ever visited National Trust Formby or anywhere similar?

Em x

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Beauty Empties and Reviews #15

Once again I have a bag full of empty beauty products so I thought it was time to share my mini reviews and whether I will repurchase them. There are quite a lot of products here because I left it a little longer than usual...the bag was actually beginning to overflow! A lot of my skincare products seemed to run out at the same time for some reason so this post is going to be quite skincare heavy!

I finished up a pack of the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Wipes, which I like as wipes go. They're softer than others I've tried and remove make up quickly. I wouldn't recommend wipes as a cleanser alone (except in emergencies). However, I sometimes like to use them to remove the bulk of my foundation etc before washing my face and I have already repurchased these.

The Garnier Simply Essentials 2 in 1 Makeup Remover is my favourite product for removing eye make up. It takes off even heavy make up easily but isn't too greasy feeling like some eye make up removers can be. I have been through loads of these and am already half way through another as this has been sat there empty for quite a while.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish is one of my favourite cleansers. It just seems to agree with my skin and helps to clear it up when it's a bit spotty. As a result, it's always something I come back to. I'm using a couple of other cleansers at the moment but I need to repurchase this one soon.

Garnier Micellar Water is one of my essentials that I've bought over and over and I'm using another bottle. Similar to the wipes, it's something I like using to remove the bulk of my make up before cleansing properly.

The Superdrug Naturally Radiant Brightening Hot Cloth Cleanser is a nice budget alternative to the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. It's often on offer for around the £3 mark and I've already repurchased. You can read my review and comparison of the two here.

La Roche Posay Serozinc is basically water and zinc in a spray can. It's massively hyped and honestly I don't think it's the miracle product some people claim it is, but the zinc does help with irritation and it's a nice hydrating toner to use before your moisturiser so I have repurchased.

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Cream Wash is a nice morning cleanser for those with spot prone skin. It contains salicylic acid with is good for my skin type but its creamy texture means it doesn't dry my skin out like other face washes for oily/ spot prone skin. This is something I've used for years and continue to do so.

Nip and Fab Glycolic Fix Scrub is a nice scrub that I use about once a week. It isn't too harsh but still gives a good exfoliation. I use the Nip and Fab Glycolic Fix Pads in between the scrub, every evening after cleansing. They are a nice chemical exfoliator that are quick and easy to use and my skin responds well to them, again repurchased.

I really like Aussie conditioners in general and I picked up the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Colour Deep Treatment for a bargainous £1 in my local £1 shop. I don't have coloured hair but I find that conditioners for coloured hair are just more nourishing and it's fine to use them on non-coloured hair. I enjoyed this one and already have another bottle because I picked up 2.

I have finished 2 cans of Batiste Dry Shampoo, one in the Eden scent (medium size) and one in the Tropical scent (small size). I always have a can of Batiste on the go as it's an essential for me and these two are my favourite scents.

Percy and Reed Finishing Polish is another of my hair essentials and I've just started on another tube. It's a thick cream with a light hold that's a good alternative to hairspray. I scrunch it into my wavy/ curly hair for a bit of hold and frizz control but it's nice on straight hair too.

Aromatherapy Associates Bath and Shower Oils are a lovely relaxing treat. They are super expensive for a bath product but I'd recommend them if you can pick them up on sale like I did. I enjoyed this little set of them and you can see my full review here. I am now using my full size bottle of the 'relax deep' scent, that I picked up in the same sale. 

As a rule, I really like Sanctuary Spa products but this Sanctuary Body Scrub, which was a mini from a gift set, was a bit disappointing, It's more like a shower gel with some scrubby bits rather than a proper scrub. If that's what you're after then you might like this but I prefer my scrubs to me more abrasive so would definitely purchase something else instead of this.

Sure Crystal Invisible Antiperspirant is something I buy a lot because like it says, it doesn't leave any marks on clothing-something that I appreciate!

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder is an essential for me, it keeps my skin matte for a good length of time and doesn't look cakey.

Revlon Colorstay Foundation is something I always go back to because it lasts well on my skin and I can get a brilliant colour match-the shade Buff is pretty much perfect for me at the moment.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance is a great eye shadow primer that stops eye shadows from creasing or fading. I would happily use this again but I have a couple of other eye primers to use so won;t be buying it again straight away.

Collection Lasting Finish Concealer is a great long lasting, high coverage concealer for redness/ spots. I don't use it under my eyes because it feels a bit too dry there but it's something I've repurchased over and over and will continue to.

Max Factor All Day Primer is again something I've been through a few of. It helps my make up last doesn't feel greasy like some primers can and contains SPF20, which is enough if I'm just running errands/ going to work etc and am not spending much time outside.

Max Factor Creme Puff Blush in 'Seductive Pink' is one my favourite blushes ever. It has a slight sheen to it and is a nice everyday shade for fair skin. The formula is so easily blended that it almost blends itself so it's a good option for when you're in a rush-I just sort of slap it on and go! It's rare that I use a whole blush up so the fact that I've finished and repurchased it tells you just how good it is.

Have you tried any of these products?  Which beauty products have you used up recently?

Em x

Thursday, 29 October 2015

October 2015 Beauty Favourites

During October, I really enjoyed using Autumn inspired shades and you can definitely tell from the things I've used the most...

I rediscovered Benefit Hoola bronzer (£23.50 via Benefit stockists) this month. I was rummaging through my muji drawers one day looking for something else and thought 'oh yeah, I forgot I had that', which is probably pretty bad but for the last few months I've been distracted by Soap and Glory and L'oreal's offerings. The L'oreal one I've been using until recently really is pretty pigmented and I have to be careful with it even in the Summer. I feel like I need something a bit lighter/ less pigmented in the colder months and Hoola is the perfect option for fair skin. Not too dark and very brown rather than orange.

I finally got my hands on the Zoeva Cocoa Blend Palette (£15.50 via BeautyBay here) this month (read more about it here) and I have used it almost every day since it arrived. The shades are lovely for Autumn and it's also a very versatile palette-I've used it for everything from a very simple everyday eye makeup to a dramatic smokey eye. It's out of stock on the website at the moment but BeautyBay is the only place to get it unless you want to pay for international shipping on the Zoeva site. I'd recommend just checking BeautyBay every now and then if you want to buy it because it does seem to go in and out of stock.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation (£22 via the MAC website here or other MAC stockists) has been carried around in my handbag all month. I originally bought it to use as an all over powder foundation but I have since come to realise that I am just not a fan of the finish pressed powder foundations, even on my combo-oily skin. It has been great, however, for my handbag because with having a bit more coverage than your average powder, if I start to lose coverage towards the end of the day (which tends to happen on my oily nose/ chin if I'm out for a long day), I can use a blotting sheet then use this to top up on coverage. It blends well into whatever make up I'm already wearing.

Max Factor Creme Puff Blushes in 'Seductive Pink' and 'Gorgeous Berries' (£6.99/ 3 for 2 via Superdrug herehave been my two most used blushes this month. 'Gorgeous Berries' is a gorgeous shade for Autumn and would be great on fair and deeper skin tones alike. I apply it with a duo fibre brush for a light application (read more here). Seductive pink has been very well used since I bought it and I actually just finished my first one and repurchased it, so that's why the one pictured looks so new. I must say that it's a long time since I've used up a whole blush as I have quite a lot of blushes to choose from, so that shows you how much I love this one. I have enjoyed wearing this shade when I go for something a bit darker on my eyes or when I'm getting ready quickly for work. It's an easy 'slap on and go' sort of blush because the formula of these almost blends itself.

I have gone back to using my Revlon Lip Butter in 'Berry Smoothie' (£7.99/ 3 for 2 via Superdrug here). This was one of my favourite Autumn lip shades last year as well and there is now just a little stump left (it is wound all the way up in the photo). It is an easy to wear berry shade if you don't want to go for something too dramatic. The formula is moisturising and glossy but I like to apply it then pat it into my lips with my finger so it's more of a satin finish than super shiny.

I've been enjoying Paco Rabanne Lady Million this month (the best deal I can find online at the moment is 30ml for £32.95 via here). I tend to wear fruity or fruity-floral perfumes in the Spring and Summer but I like something a little stronger/ heavier as the weather gets a little chillier. This one is quite sweet but has patchouli in it, making it a bit heavier than my Summer scents. It lasts very well on my skin and I seem to received compliments whenever I wear it.

What were your favourite beauty products this month?

Em x

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Autumn in a Palette: Makeup Revolution New-trals Vs Neutrals

I came across the Makeup Revolution 'New-tral vs Neutral' palette when browsing the Superdug website recently, googled some swatches and knew I had to have it. The bottom row of the palette seemed nice enough, but that top row! Those shades are quite different to anything else I have and I've been enjoying using them lightly in the crease to really warm up my eye make up.

I'm impressed with the packaging for the price of the palette (£6.99). The front of it has that slightly rubberised feel that NARS products do, and the plastic case feels really substantial and good quality considering it is such an affordable product. The palette also contains a really good sized mirror.

As you can see from the swatches, the pigmentation is great. Some of the shades are slightly dusty when you put a brush into them, so it's advisable to tap off your brush before applying to the eyes to avoid the shadows falling down onto your cheeks. I don't see that as a major deal, however.

The palette also comes with a double ended brush. It's a flat shader brush on one end, suitable for packing colour onto the lid, and a small blending brush on the other. They're far from the best brushes I've used but for something included in a palette, they're pretty decent and far more useable than the foam tip applicators often included in budget palettes.

Overall, I'm really enjoying this palette and it's a good way to try some warm orangey shades for Autumn if you've never used them before (which I hadn't). You can find the palette here via Superdrug for £6.99.

Have you tried the Makeup Revolution New-trals Vs Neutrals palette? What do you think?

Em x

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Review: Nip + Fab Deep Cleansing Fix

There's a bit of a back story to this product in that I didn't actually mean to buy it. I bought a set of the Glycolic Fix scrub and what I thought was the Glycolic Fix pads from Nip + Fab on ASOS, but it turned out that they had the wrong picture on the item and it was actually the scrub and this. I emailed their customer service about it and they said I could return it for a refund and also sent me a 10% off voucher code for the inconvenience. However, since they were a bit of a bargain (£8.99 here and the scrub is £9.95 full price on its own), I decided to keep them and give the Deep Cleansing Fix a go.

The Deep Cleansing Fix is a bit of a weird multi tasking product in that it can be used as a cleanser, moisturiser, mask and spot treatment. Nip + Fab actually claim that it has 6 uses...

The 6 different uses of Deep Cleansing Fix are:
1) Removes make-up
2) Deeply Cleanses
3) Can be used as mini 10 minute mask
4) Leave on overnight as an intensive hydrating mask
5) Can be applied directly to blemishes
6) Exfoliating action when used with muslin cloth

Now if you ask me, the sixth one is a bit of a cheat because let's be honest, it's the muslin cloth that is doing the work and it doesn't come with one. I was mostly interested in using it as a cleanser after removing my make up at night and trying it out as a spot treatment.

My first thought when I opened it is that it has a very strong smell. It's not a bad smell, but if you don't like the smell of eucalyptus and tea tree oil then you won't like it. It is a very thick cream that comes in a pot with a screw lid. This isn't my preferred packaging (I prefer a pump or a squeeze tube because it's more hygenic), but I've been getting around it by scooping a bit out with a spatula I had from a long-gone foundation that came in a pot. One thing I will say is that is contains a huge 300ml which will last quite a while even you're using it every day.

So how does it work on the skin? Well as a cleanser, I feel like it does a good job of cleaning my skin without drying it out. It's thick texture feels nice and moisturising but doesn't leave a greasy film after rinsing it off, so I imagine it would be good for all skin types. I have oily skin and I still like to use something that doesn't strip my skin too much since that only makes it more oily in the long run. I haven't risked going near my eyes with it because I have quite sensitive eyes and the strong smell seems like it might not mix with sensitive eyes very well. This isn't really an issue for me though since I remove the majority of my make up first then use this as a proper cleanse afterwards.

As a spot treatment? Well, since it does contain tea tree, it does seem to help clear them and I feel like it's a nice thing to use as a targeted mask. If you're around the house, then putting a bit onto any blemishes and leaving alone for a while does seem to help. However, as a bedtime treatment (which is when I'd usually use something like that) I much prefer to use the Nip + Fab Overnight Purifying Gel (see my post about it here, buy it here) if I'm generally a little bit spotty/congested or the Neutrogena Visibly Clear Rapid Clear Treatment (£3.99 here) for a more targeted treatment on a larger spot. I get a more noticeable result with either of those, seeing any spots drastically reduce overnight.

Overall? For my skin, this is definitely best used as a cleanser. On drier skins, I can see that it would work nicely as a hydrating mask with added slight blemish fighting propeties because it is so thick and moisturising feeling. I'm not about to try that on my skin because I've no doubt that it would be too much for my combo-oily skin. I feel like it would be more of a multi use product for drier skins but personally I will just use it as a cleanser/ 'around the house' spot treatment.

The strange thing is that I wasn't wowed by this cleanser at first but I've been using it for a few weeks now and I must say that it's grown on me. I feel like it works well for my skin and I have been reaching for it over the other cleanser that I have open at the moment. I also feel like it works out to be really good value considering the size of the pot and the fact that I have hardly put a dent in it. You don't need to use a lot, either.

Have you tried the Nip + Fab Deep Cleansing Fix? What do you think?

Em x