Friday, 24 August 2012

Update: where have I been?

It's been just over 3 months since my last blog seems crazy to me how fast those 3 months have flown by. The summer has been wonderful (despite some dodgy weather here in the UK) and really exciting for me.....the main reason for this, and also the reason behind the lack of posts, is that I moved into my very own flat!

I am finally on the property ladder and really loving having my own place. However it's taking me such a long time to get the place sorted! It's frustrating how slowly I am amassing furniture and other bits of decor...but I knew it wouldn't be instant and I have given myself until Christmas to make the flat nice and cosy (ready in time for the colder nights).

Living within easy reach of the nearest town centre has led to my social life taking off like never before as I can come and go as I please without worrying about transportation (villages are lovely and all that, but it's no good for a spontaneous fun night out if you need to drive half an hour, spend a fortune on car parking, and spend the night on diet before driving back again).

Nowadays I go out after work, most nights, all weekend if I want to! I am loving my freedom right now.

I enjoyed writing blog posts so am going to get back into it. I have some amazing new products that I've been using this summer, and have made quite a few changes in my routine. Expect some upcoming posts on skincare and haircare in particular!!!

Here's what I've been loving the past 3 months:

 - Being blonde - I had my hair lightened from dark brown to blonde and can't believe I waited so many years to do it!

 - Being tanned - a week in Crete gave me some much needed colour. I look so much better with a tan :) will need to start faking it again once the warmer weather fades.

 - Supersmile toothpaste - actually does whiten teeth!!

 - Lilash - can't live without this. Mine ran out a while ago and I am about a month into my new tube so hoping to see major lash growth in the next few weeks.

 - Eyebrow threading - in my opinion nothing looks as good, not waxing, plucking or anything else removal-wide.

 - Wedges, wedges, wedges - I can't get enough of 'em

 - My Michael Kors rose gold watch (MK5412) - I get so many compliments on this and I just love all things rose gold

 - MAC's Melba blush - sheer matte peachiness, beautiful with above-mentioned suntan

 - The Body Shop's Beautifying Body Oils - summer in a bottle, especially the Cocoa Butter one. I just love slathering this on...

 - TV shows - Revenge, Pretty Little Liars, The Lying Game, Teen Wolf....yes I realise I am perhaps old enough to prefer more sensible, 'realistic' shows but I just adore sitting down watching a load of these online....

Anyway, phew I feel so much better now I finally have a post up!! I will be back again soon :)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Review: Nioxin System 3 Cleanser - shampoo for normal to thin-looking hair

Nioxin is not a brand I've dabbled in before now. The very name sounds medicinal and not particularly inviting to someone who's into 'luxury' brands for the most part . However, I have fallen in love with the one product of theirs that I've used: Nioxin's System 3 Cleanser. I got the one for fine, chemically treated, normal to thin-looking hair.

I found the names and different systems of these shampoos really hard to understand! I ended up picking the closest one to my hair type, which is fine and coloured.

This shampoo doesn't call itself a clarifying shampoo outright, but its claims to 'remove environmental residue that can build up daily' and its aim to refresh the scalp as well as the hair makes me think it's from the clarifying 'family'.

However, this is not one of those shampoos you can only use once a week to completely strip your hair of product build up. It's much gentler than that. As someone who has oily hair which can't go more than 24 hours without a wash usually, this has been a small miracle. The emphasis is on the word small, since it probably allows me to go an extra half a day only without looking like I've just plunged my head into a deep fat fryer (ew, sorry). But an extra half a day sometimes is just what I need!

The product itself is a gorgeous icy blue gel that makes you feel clean just by looking at it. Unfortunately this photo doesn't do the colour justice, so just think 'swimming pool' and you'll be able to picture its true hue.

The smell is mint and tea tree at the same time (I've never been good at describing scents :)

It's refreshing, doesn't make my head tingle (a feeling that I hate!) and leaves my hair soft and bouncy. Every time. I've not had dryness or colour fading from this so far and I've been using it a couple of weeks now, every day. I'm super impressed.

I'm hoping to combine this with another product I'll be soon to purchase - I will update this blog when I get this mystery product - to reach my ultimate goal of attaining that elusive two days of oil-free hair between washes :) Wish me luck....

Have you tried anything from this brand?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Review: GOSH Smokey Eyes Palette in Brown

I was so excited when I saw this. I am all about neutrals and this just looks so pretty! It even has a little plastic diagram card inside demonstrating where to place each shadow.

I love the packaging for a drugstore brand. It's plastic, yes, but is sleek and lightweight, with a magnetic lid that just *clicks* into place.

The four eyeshadow shades are a gold/champagne highlight shade, a light peachy bronze, a warm taupe and a deep smokey brown.

These are my perfect colours, especially the peachy bronze (second from left). I particularly love that none of these are in your face shimmer; they are all what I would call satins, and have a subtle sheen that is perfect for daytime or work.

So what's the downside?

I am disappointed in the colour payoff of these shadows. Initially when you swatch them on your finger they are so soft and buttery to the touch and look like they pick up a lot of colour.

The disappointment comes with trying to apply to the lids with a brush or finger. First of all the fall out was a shock. They seem almost chalky, with actual flakes falling down.

Secondly, the pigmentation seen on the fingertips doesn't translate to the lids at all. Cue sad face :(

The swatches in the photo above took a lot of work. The colours just would not stick and kept flaking off! Almost like plaster...

And the colours are so beautiful as well! So close, Gosh, so close...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Origins review: Checks and Balances cleanser & Modern Friction exfoliator

On a little trip to my local Origins counter to purchase some face masks, I was given some generous samples of other products to try out. I was so excited to get my hands on these! I've wanted to try out this cleanser in particular for a while now after hearing so many raves about it on YouTube.

Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash

I am utterly in love with this cleanser. It's intended to balance out dry and oily areas. I have extremely oily skin in the centre of my face with the occasional dry patch on the sides of my face, and have found that this does an excellent job of cleansing my face without stripping it of oil, and I haven't had any dry patches since using this. I just love the texture - it's creamy and rich, and lathers up incredibly. Actually, it's a pleasure to use :) It feels luxurious and refreshing especially in the mornings. It is a little TOO frothy to use with a Clarisonic however - it flings it everywhere and I do not recommend getting this in your eyes :) ouch!

Modern Friction; Nature's Gentle Dermabrasion

'Skin-refining rice starch cushioned in cream': this is how Origins describe this exfoliator, which contains Lemon Oil and Vitamin C to tackle dullness and discolouration. In terms of exfoliation this is super, super gentle and the flakes remind me a little bit of porridge oats! They are held in a rich cream that spreads easily on the skin. Although I like this product for its ingredients and the fact it is not at all harsh and doesn't scratch the skin, personally I prefer something with a bit more 'oomph'. My skin doesn't feel smoother afterwards, and I can't comment on the skin brightening properties as I use other products aimed at that as well, but I feel this would be good for use as an every day exfoliator as I think the cumulative effects are probably more noticeable if you use it regularly.

(Checks and Balances on the left; Modern Friction on the right)

So Checks and Balances is going on my shopping list, and I will be getting the full size version. I'm going to skip buying Modern Friction, as I prefer other exfoliators and skin brighteners (more reviews to follow on my testing of lots of those).

Can you recommend any other Origins products to try? This is an interesting line that I've dipped in and out of over the years but haven't ended up with any HG products (although Checks and Balances is a definite contender...).

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Makeup and haircare haul: Rimmel, Revlon, Bourjois, MAC, Matrix and more

My first YouTube video featuring my newest products this week.

Products mentioned in this video:
- Rimmel Kate Moss lipsticks 03 and 08
- Revlon Lip Butter 001 Pink Truffle
- Rimmel Scandaleyes mascara
- Bourjois Touche Healthy Mix Concealer
- Bourjois Delice de Soleil mineral bronzing foundation
- Sleek Eau La La eyeliner - 317 Molasses
- MAC Embark e/s
- MAC Sunbasque blusher
- MAC Golden bronzer
- MAC Modesty Cremesheen lipstick
- Nioxin Cleanser 3
- Matrix Biolage Ultra Hydrating Balm
- Burt's Bees Radiance Body Lotion

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Review: Neutrogena Body Clear salicylic acid body wash

When I'm getting ready for the summer months (which I am now - only 12 weeks until I go to Crete - eek!) I start preparing my skin for its first outing in months. I want seriously smooth skin and for me, just using a body scrub is not enough.

I absolutely love using a chemical exfoliant on my body. Combined with a really effective salt scrub I can get my skin in to its best condition. This past winter especially I have noticed has taken a huge toll on my skin, particularly on my legs and arms. I need a quick way to shift dead skin cells and smooth out and destroy any clogged pores and little bumps.

Enter Neutrogena Body Clear, a body wash containing one of my favourite exfoliants, salicylic acid.

This product has 2% salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid which helps to break down dead skin cells and clear out pores. It is used to treat acne and keratosis pilaris amongst other skin conditions.

This product comes in a large 250ml plastic bottle, and is a thick orange gel. It has a nice-ish scent, not too medicinal smelling and actually reminds me of a basic shampoo kind of smell. I'm pretty sure this comes in Pink Grapefruit scent as well, but I used the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit face wash once and really didn't like that smell.

It lathers in the bath or shower and rinses clean away. The results are not immediate but rather a gradual improvement in the skin's surface and the elimination of little bumps and clogged pores. It also prevents any new breakouts on the body and stops pores becoming clogged again.

I don't find it drying but use a body lotion afterwards anyway (preferably another skin-smoothing product - reviews on those to follow). This is really effective but gentle at the same time.

Unfortunately you can't buy this in drugstores in the UK but I bought mine on ebay for less than a tenner :)

Can you recommend any other washes with BHAs or AHAs? I'm always looking out for new ideas...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Review: Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil for dehydrated skin

I have really oily skin. Really, really oily skin.

Despite this, I sometimes find I have a dehydrated base under the oil. I can see by the teeny tiny lines that appear when I pull my skin gently on my cheek. This is probably a result of not drinking enough water (although I do try to guzzle it down!) and the general dry air conditions with the central heating being on 24/7 in freezing ol' England for long periods of time.

The difference between dry and dehydrated skin is that dry skin generally lacks oil (and is a skin type), whereas dehydrated skin is a result of moisture loss (often stemming from internal dehydration - and this is a skin condition). It took me a while to realise this! Hence many skincare mistakes in the past.

I am not afraid of using oil on my already oily face. I find it helps to regulate the oil production. I can't go out and get a product for dry skin, as this is completely wrong for oily skin and only makes my skin worse by overloading it with product. My skin is also acne prone and anything that clogs my skin is unwelcome!

But I needed something for the dehydration - enter Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil.

The product

This oil contains essential oils of Rosewood and Patchouli, Hazelnut oil and extract of Blue Lotus. It is 100% pure plant extracts with no preservatives.

It comes in a 30ml glass bottle with a pipette built in to the lid. The packaging is gorgeous and feels very luxurious. It looks beautiful on the dresser. The pipette keeps it hygienic and with as little mess as possible.

The smell is a little like chocolate orange - only nicer. It is not particularly sweet but there is about it. Personally I love it. I find it quite intoxicating. If you're walking past a Clarins counter smell it and see if you agree.

How to use it

I use a few drops on damp skin - as per the instructions of the Clarins sales assistant - so I use it immediately after cleansing. The oil is carried by the water into the skin.

I was advised to use this product every night on its own for 3 weeks. Then to use it for another 3 weeks mixed in with a night cream (I was given a sample of the Clarins Extra Firming Night Cream to mix it with), Then you start the cycle again by using it alone for 3 weeks....

Confession: I don't do this. I tend to use this every other night, and always alone. I just haven't seen the need to mix it with anything. Yet.

The results

The product itself is fantastic and sinks into my skin within a couple of minutes. This oil does not sit on the skin at all. Even when I forget to use this on damp skin, the oil vanishes within minutes. It's awesome!

It should be patted on to the skin - no rubbing.

I wake up with plump looking, radiant skin. It looks moisturised and healthy. A couple of nights of using this helped with the dehydration lines so much. It has not broken me out.

I love this oil.

I am going to continue using this. A little goes a long way and the product could last several months. I may try the method of adding this to a cream; I am going to be adding tretinoin (retin-a) to my regime very soon and I might need an extra boost. But I have read reviews where people use this oil alone on top of tretinoin and it soothes the skin perfectly on its own. I seriously look forward to trying these two products together.

To sum it up, I highly recommend this product for oily, dehydrated skin. Whilst nothing can, or should, replace good old fashioned water consumption for keeping the skin in good condition, this definitely helps with the visual effects of dehydration. I'd love to hear your views if you've tried this oil, or any of the others meant for the same problem!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Tangle Teezer vs The Tangle Tamer: a review of two brushes

My hair story

I'm convinced I must have some of the knottiest hair on the planet.

No matter if I've just brushed it two seconds ago, all I have to do is move to find my hair has somehow worked its way back to something closely resembling a bird's nest.

I have the lucky mixture of half curly, half wavy hair which is extremely fine in diameter, yet thick in terms of quantity. The strands twist around each other into matted clumps at the slightest breeze. Hairdressers have been known to let out high-pitched screams of angst whilst trying to comb the knots out of my hair. Seriously, this has happened more than once and is slightly embarrassing.

Simply put, my hair's a nightmare.

The hairbrushes

Several years ago I learnt of a new invention called the Tangle Teezer, designed by a hairdresser called Shaun P who showcased his product on TV's Dragon's Den. Despite being slated on the show, sales of the Tangle Teezer soared. And for good reason; this patented design was innovative and cut through knots like no other hairbrush before it. I snapped one up and have been using it ever since. In fact I have two: the full size and the travel version that I usually keep in my bag (the one on the left below which has a cover):

However, I picked up the Denman Tangle Tamer when I saw it in my local Superdrug. Despite them having confusingly similar names, I wondered just how Denman's new product would match up performance-wise to my beloved Teezer.

First of all they don't look at all similar; the Teezer is a kidney-shaped brush with bristles which are the same material and colour as the back of the brush and which are all the same length, while the Tamer is a more traditional slim brush shape with a handle and black bristles of differing lengths.

The verdict

Performance-wise, for me they don't compare at all. Denman's Tamer is by far superior in terms of detangling my hair. It glides through like a hot knife through butter (excuse the clich├ęd analogy - but it really does :) and makes the Tangle Teezer feel like it's ripping my hair out as it pulls through. Which is weird as I used to love that brush and thought it worked well. I don't know how or why the Tamer works so much better, it just does...

I like the handle on it as well. It's much easier to hold and makes the Teezer just feel bulky and awkward. The Tamer is cheaper too, at around £6 compared to £10 for the Teezer. Amazing!

I'm stocking up on Denman's Tangle Tamer - one for my bathroom, one in my bag and one for my desk at work. I'm not sure how anything else could beat this brush for me - true HG perfection!!

Have you tried either or both of these brushes?