Saturday, 31 May 2014

Venturing into theBalm

I’m a complete newbie to theBalm. I’ve heard bloggers rave about their products but as they only seem to be available online or in &OtherStories in London, I was always a bit apprehensive about buying without actually seeing any of their products. Being as pale as I am, I tend to find some colour products are just a little bit much for me so I’m a lot more reserved with makeup purchases online than I am with anything else.  
I’d been eyeing up Mary-Lou Manizer on Feel Unique for a while now. I’d lost count of amount of blog posts I’d read talking about how gorgeous a colour it was so when Feel Unique were offering 25% off of theBalm (their Unique Treat offers have been amazing) along with the usual samples, I leapt for my bank card.

feel unique

Mary-Lou Manizer is described as giving your skin a “subtle glow”. Now I don’t really think subtle is the right word. It’s by no means disco ball sparkly - it doesn’t actually have any glitter through it at all - but it is extremely pigmented and it’s very easy to go overboard (as I found out after I’d left the house…). It’s a warm champagne colour, which is very flattering on all skin tones. I normally opt for cooler colours but I find this adds just a touch of warmth to the skin without looking overwhelming. With highlighters, I would normally lightly dust my cheekbones, brow bone, on the bridge of my nose, little bit on my forehead and on my cupids bow, but for this I think Mary-Lou Manizer is a little bit too much for this. It’s perfect for cheekbones and brow bone, and I think I’ll stick to a highlighting face powder for the rest. I’ve been using the contour brush from the Real Techniques Duo Fibre Set as it’s great for a lighter application, and like I said, it’s so easy to go overboard.
thebalm Mary-Lou Manizer
thebalm Mary-Lou Manizer
thebalm Mary-Lou Manizer

I also decided to add FratBoy to my basket, another blogger inspired purchase. This is such a pretty peachy/pinky colour which is perfect for summer and once again, it’s extremely pigmented. Although it is a matte blush FratBoy has a lovely buttery texture and it blends naturally into the skin. In fact, I’d probably say this compares to cream blushers in terms of just how well it blends.  I’ve found the RealTechniques Stippling Brush is perfect for applying this blush as it’s a bit lighter and blends well.

thebalm fratboy
thebalm fratboy

Compared to other brands, theBalm is also pretty reasonably priced at £16 for Mary-Lou Manizer and £14.50 for their blushers.

Have you tried anything from theBalm? 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Back to Clarins

When I was first getting into premium skin care, Clarins was always my go-to brand. My entire routine was from Clarins. Since then, I’ve branched out and to be honest, over the last couple of years I’ve bought very little from the brand. A few weeks ago, Debenhams were offering 10% off for their Mega Week sale and as I had had my eye on a few things, I thought that I would treat myself.  

clarins gift

I had been looking into a more hydrating cleanser for mornings and I had heard great things about The Extra Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream. It claims to be a purifying, yet hydrating cleanser with Shea, mango and Moringa. Morgina is supposed to be great for detoxifying the skin and protecting from the effects of pollution. I’ve recently started a job in the centre of Glasgow, so me, this was definitely a selling point. I’ve currently got an almighty break out, so I’m avoiding switching cleansers until it calms down so I’ll have to report back once I’ve actually given it a proper whirl.

clarions Extra Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream

I’ve had a few samples of Lotus Face Treatment Oil, so I really don’t know why it’s taken me as long to actually buy the full sized product. I love face oils, but I find that sometimes they can a bit heavy for my combination skin. This oil purifies and balances with oily/combination skin in mind, yet it is still as hydrating as you would expect an oil to be. The oil is naturally astringent, so it helps with blemishes but it isn’t harsh on the skin. Generally, a well-balanced product. I’ve been using this as a treatment before moisturiser in the evening by pressing the oil into my skin, and also I’ve been mixing it with my moisturiser in the morning.

clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil

Another product I’ve had a few samples of in the past is the Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner and another blogger favourite. I love liquid exfoliators, I use Pixi Glow Tonic daily and Alpha H Liquid Gold once a week, but I was looking for something in between. My skin has been looking a bit uneven and bumpy, so I thought a middle of the range acidic toner would be a good option to use in rotation with the Pixi Glow Tonic. For more info about this, Caroline Hirons is woman to see, she is the Skin Care God.

clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner

As well as getting 10% off, Clarins were also on Gift with Purchase, so I picked up a mini Instant Eye Make Up Remover, a fab product which does exactly what it says on a tin. This used to always be my eye makeup remover of choice until I found cleansing oil. I also selected the Satin Smooth Body Lotion and the ExfoliatingBody Scrub for Smooth Skin.

clarins treats

What are your favourite Clarins products?

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bank Holiday Manicure

There’s something therapeutic about spending time giving yourself a manicure, don’t you think? I’ve always had a thing about well-groomed nails. The second I get a tiny chip or if they start to look worn at the tips I have to repaint them. As much as I can be pretty lazy when it comes to makeup, I probably do border on obsessive when it comes to my nails.

Sunday nights are normally my manicure night (or Monday night with it being a bank holiday). Before I have a bath, I rip cotton pads into quarters, soak them with nail polish remover then pop them on my nails for a minute or so to remove the nail polish I already have on. This is great for taking everything off in the one wipe so you’re not rubbing at your nails, which can damage them. It also means that you’re not as likely to get your fingers stained if you’re wearing a darker colour. We’ve all been there - it’s a nightmare.

Once everything is off I use the China Glaze Orange Cuticle Oil, massaging it on the bare nail bed and into the cuticles. I leave it on while I’m in the bath to allow it to soak into my nails. Once I’m out, I file my nails using the OPI crystal nail file. I’ve really noticed a big difference in the condition of my nails going from a standard nail file to the crystal one; I don’t get anywhere near as many tears or peeling. I tend to file them into a square/oval shape. I always think it looks very lady-like and there’s less chance of breakage or tearing then with a square or a point.

After I’m happy with the shape, I squeeze some of the Sally Hansen Cuticle Remover along my cuticles and leave it for a minute or so then gently push everything back. I find it useful to have a tissue on hand to wipe away any excess Cuticle Remover and also in case any cuticle needs buffed away. I’ll wash my hands and then give my nails another wipe with some nail polish remover to make sure there’s no residue and it also dehydrates the nails which makes nail polish adhere to the nails a bit better.

I’m a big believer in a base coat, 2 thin coats of colour and a top coat. My base coat of choice is OPI Nail Envy. This is my third bottle! Not only do I use this as my base coat, but once a month, I apply this every day for a week as a treatment. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews about this product, but I personally couldn’t recommend this anymore. I’ve yet to find another nail product which has helped the overall strength and condition of my nails like Nail Envy.

I used Essie’s Status Symbol here, a recent purchase while Boots had the 3 for 2 offer on (it's currently on 3 for 2 in Superdrug). It’s a bright pink colour, but it’s not too bright. It’s like a baby sister to Essie Watermelon, which is probably my most worn nail colour. I love how the brushes with Essie polishes fan out, usually I can cover one nail with one stroke. It also means that you can get a nice neat curve at the top of the nail near the cuticle.

After 2 thin coats of colour it’s Seche Vite time. I love Seche Vite (another product I’ve repurchased a few times), it dries so quickly, the staying power is fab and it gives such a gorgeous glossy finish. Finally, I leave that to try for 10 minutes or so (purely because I’m paranoid), then pop some more Cuticle Oil to finish everything off.

And there we have it, nice neat nails!

What are your at home manicure tips?

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Easy Every Day Lip - Korres Lip Butter

As much as I would love to be one of these people who have immaculate make up every day, I’m just too lazy. Hence why I have a love for tinted lip balms. Don’t get me wrong, lipsticks will always be my true love, but for practicality and convenience, you just can’t go wrong with a tinted lip balm. Korres Lip Butters offer long lasting hydration and long lasting colour (a rare combination) in a variety of colours ranging from a sheer light pink, to a deep plum. I have a few in my collection and always seem to have one in my handbag – usually Pomegranate. They leave your lips looking plump and hydrated but without looking overly glossy. They contain shea butter and rice extract to sooth and moisture the lips. The packaging isn’t the most hygienic but they’re sturdy and I know I’m less likely to lose a little tub than a tube, which is always something I need to consider…

Pink but not too pink – just the right amount of colour so that you look like you’ve made an effort without actually having to make much of an effort. My go-to colour.

Looks a lot brighter in the pot than it is in the lips, it goes on a light coral colour. It’s a great option if you fancy trying a coral/orange lipstick but want to ease in gently. Will definitely get used more in summer.

I love a red lip, but sometimes it’s just not appropriate for every day (as much as this pains me to say), this blue-toned rose tint is very flattering. I always makes me feel like Snow White when I have it on for some reason.


Slightly more pigmented than the rest, this gives a lovely purple/plum hue. I do tend to find I need a mirror to apply it unlike the other colours. 

L - R: Pomegranate, Mango, Plum, Wild Rose

Friday, 16 May 2014

Beauty Hall Advice

Beauty Halls can be intimidating. Half the time you can barely get in the door without someone trying to spray some new concoction on your wrist. Then after that there are so many counters with the beauty advisors eagerly waiting to ask you if there’s anything they can help you with (because you glanced at their counter), or ask you if you’ve tried their new *insert new amazing product here*. Like all professions, there are the good beauty advisors and the bad beauty advisors. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some genuinely lovely and talented make-up artists and beauty advisors but I know from personal experience that they’re not all like that. I certainly appreciate that beauty advisors do have to deal with some quite rude customers (I actually had one that brought me close to tears), so sometimes it’s helpful to consider things from their perspective, which ultimately will help you get get the most out of your consultation (and possibly a few extra samples).

1.       It’s their job to welcome you to their counter and to see if you need help so don’t snap at them. If you’re just in for a look, just say that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on the receiving end of pushy sales people who didn’t seem to understand that phrase. When that happens I just leave the counter, that’s just a bad sales person and I wouldn’t want them getting the commission.

2.       Let them know if you’d like to try something on. Testers are the breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria and they will be able to pop products on in a more hygienic way than if you just pick it up and pop it on yourself. Or if you’d prefer to try something on yourself, you can always ask them for some tissues and a brush and they’d normally give the product a clean too (if they don’t ask for their brush cleaner and give the product a spray and a wipe with a tissue, brush cleaners are anti-bacterial).

3.       Appreciate that they do have targets to make. On average it takes 20 minutes for someone to pick a lipstick. If it’s busy let the beauty advisor help other people while you have a look and pick some options. They’ll be a lot more patient (and helpful) if you let them deal with some of the queue than if you wanted to try on every lipstick they stock with no intention of buying while there’s a queue of people out the who waiting to speak to them.

4.       Equally, if you need help, don’t be intimidated to ask. They’re there to help and most brands offer great training for their beauty advisors so they should know a great deal about their products and are able to answer any questions or offer tips and tricks on how to apply products.

5.       It’s ok to ask for samples. Premium cosmetics are not cheap and some things just don’t work for everyone. If you’re a bit unsure about a product, there’s no harm in asking for a sample. Not all counters are big on sampling, but sometimes they’ll put some in a little pot for you to take on and try. Also, most counters do only get a limited number of samples in so they’ve learned to spot the people who are just chancing their luck and have no interest in buying. This isn’t really fair on the people who are genuinely interested in buying the product and can’t get a sample.

Do you have any other tips?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Moisture Mask for Oily Skin?

Until around 6 months ago, my skin would have been quite firmly in the oily skin category. Then something odd happened. I noticed that my skin was starting to feel tight after washing my face and I was starting to get some dry patches of skin on my forehead, yet around lunch time my skin was still looking as oily as ever.  I had to accept that my skin maybe didn’t like the constant stream of oil controlling cleansers and purifying masks and was starting to need some extra moisture. After reading Caroline Hirons talk about how people with oily skin shouldn’t avoid oil, I had a revelation. Not only did I start looking into facial oils (more on that later), I started looking into moisture masks thinking that this may help balance everything out. And of course, a perfect excuse to try some new face masks. 

moisture face masks

Now this mask is aimed at dry skin so it was a bit on the heavy side for my skin if I was applying the same amount as I would with any other mask (I probably use about double the amount necessary), however when I used a pea size amount for 5 minutes following a purifying mask the results were entirely different. My skin was left feeling plump and still felt clean. It has a lovely light, fruity smell and would be a great choice for people with normal/dry skin. As much as this didn't overwhelm my skin, I do only reach for this mask if my skin is feeling particularly dehydrated or if a little patch of psoriasis has popped up on my face. 

Origins Drink Up Mask

I’m very much in love with this mask. It’s designed for slightly more sensitised skin and has a lighter texture which means that it doesn’t feel heavy or feel like its clogging pores. I pop this on and leave it for 5-10 minutes then use a damp cotton pad to remove the excess; really you could just tissue this off though. It leaves my skin looking visibly nourished and not at all oily. It also has a lovely fresh smell which isn’t overwhelming - always a plus in my books. I mainly use this after a purifying mask but it still works perfectly on its own without breaking me out. It seems to be the perfect balance of a moisture mask which hydrates deeply but doesn’t overwhelm the skin.
The Avene Soothing Moisture Mask

What’s your favourite moisture mask?

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Hagrid Worthy Hair Treatment - Ojon Rare Blend Deep Conditioner

I've had to deal with dry, frizzy hair for 22 years. It doesn't really help that I used to use bleach regularly and that I still use heat on my hair a lot more than I should. Although, if I didn’t I’d make Hagrid look he belongs in a L'oreal advert… Saying that, I do try to take care of my hair and over the years have tried a lot (and I mean a lot) of shampoos, conditioners, hair oils, conditioning treatments, leave in conditioners etc in an attempt to calm the frizz and keep my hair moisturised and manageable. The frizz isn’t going anywhere, but I have found a number of great products which have reduced breakage and keep my hair well nourished.
The Ojon Rare Blend Deep Conditioner is without a doubt, the best hair treatment I have tried. Ojon products are fab, although be it a bit on the expensive side. I wasn’t a massive fan of the original Rare Blend Oil, as I found it was too heavy for my hair (which is quite a statement considering I prefer to use the amped up version of hair oils to try to tame the beast that is my hair), so when I ordered the Rare Blend Deep Conditioner I wasn’t too sure what to expect. If anything, I was convinced that it would be reserved for the very ends of my hair. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s considered a dual phase treatment –

The amber is a restorative blend of 7 rare oils including pure hair-repairing Ojon Oil plus African Shea, Brazilian Muru Muru, and Indian Kokum butters.
And the Ivory is a moisture-rich cream infused with deeply nourishing plant-derived conditioners.

So it’s definitely doing a lot to the hair and unlike a lot of conditioning treatments, it isn’t just smoothing over the cuticle while doing very little to help repair and moisturise the hair in the long run. I’m certainly not a hair expert but what I do know is that it leaves my hair feeling so silky and hydrated but without feeling heavy. I can get a comb through my hair while it’s damp even without using a leave-in conditioner and I’ve found that I can even get away with not using a hair oil on the my ends and surprisingly my hair doesn’t end up looking like it’s badly needing a trim.

It is a thick texture but not a lot of needed to full coat the mid to end lengths of my hair. With hair treatments, I pop them on after washing my hair; I cover my hair in a shower cap and take a book into the bath for half an hour. I do look a tad ridiculous but it means that the heat from the bath is helping the conditioning treatment to penetrate deeper in to my hair.

At £29, it certainly isn’t cheap so I’m definitely still on the lookout for something a bit more purse friendly. 

Ojon Rare Blend Deep Conditioner

The Gentle Approach to Dry Shampoo - Klorane Oatmilk Gentle Dry Shampoo

Klorane Oatmilk Gentle Dry Shampoo

I’ve always been a dry shampoo fan. When I was blonde, I used to get away with washing my hair once a week due to my excessive dry shampoo consumption (if you came into my room in the morning, it’d pretty much look foggy…). Batiste was always my go-to when I was blonde because you couldn’t see the white residue; in fact, it helped hide my roots if my hair needed coloured (great tip right there). Now that I’m a brunette, being lazy with my hair isn’t as easy. For a start, because I’m not bleaching my hair, my hair isn’t as dry so I’m not able to get as long between washes. But also, it left me in a bit of a pickle with dry shampoo. If you have darker hair and have tried the original Batiste Dry Shampoo, you’ll know that even vigorous ruffling doesn’t really get rid of the white power. The Batiste Dry Shampoo for Brown and Dark Brownhair was a good option for a while; it absorbs oil and adds a bit of body to the roots and blends in well with darker hair. However, recently I’ve been having issues with my scalp. I have psoriasis on my elbows and knees permanently but as well as this, patches randomly decide to appear on random parts of my body. A few months ago, my psoriasis decided to move to my scalp and I’ve found that Batiste isn’t really agreeing with it. It’s leaving my scalp really itchy and quite dry/sensitised. After some searching, I came across Klorane Oatmilk Gentle Dry Shampoo on Escentual which promised a softer approach to dry shampoo and so far I’ve been very impressed.

I followed the instructions and sprayed the dry shampoo in to my roots; left it to do its thing for a couple of minutes then brushed it out to find freshly washed looking hair. It has a light, fresh fragrance too which is always a plus. Oil was absorbed, body was added, and most importantly for me, it was very gentle and my scalp didn’t feel aggravated. I’ve been using this religiously for a few weeks now and although the psoriasis on my scalp doesn’t look like it’ll be moving any time soon, it does feel a lot less dry and itchy. I’m still not able to get a week between washes (long gone are those days for me), but with the Klorane Oatmilk Gentle Dry Shampoo, I’ve been able to get in an extra day and it’s perfect for adding a bit of body without using drying texturizing sprays. Yes, it is more expensive than Batiste at £6.35, but the price is on par with the likes of Tresseme and Charles Worthington, plus the ingredients are a lot gentler so for me, I'm happy to pay that little bit extra.