Wednesday, 27 January 2016

2015 Skincare favourites

2015 was the year that I really got into skincare. I've learnt a lot of new things about skin types, ingredients and brands. My top brands from the list are Emma Hardie, Nip and Fab, Apha H and Indeed Labs (exclusive to Boots) I'm excited for all the new skincare launches, formula's and innovations in 2016, grab a cup of tea this is going to be a long one.

Best Cleanser:

Emma Hardie moringa cleansing balm

This is the most fantastic cleanser in all ways, and it really should be for the price. Its made up of really good quality essential oils that when smoothed over the skin, creates the plumpest, softest canvas you could dream of. I've never had better skin than when I was using this cleanser, I most definitely need to re-stock.

Second best:

Nip and Fab dragons blood fix cleansing pads

These are great for when you're drunk and need to clean your face but can't be bothered to get to (or can't see) the sink. I have no idea what 'dragons blood' actually is and if its just a gimmick or not, but these pads contain both Salicylic and Hyaluronic acids to fight blemishes, deeply cleanse and soften the skin. If you spray a toner over the top the skin gets even softer. Very affordable and usually found at half price / 3 for 2 at Boots.

Hydrating Serum:

Best: Indeed Labs Hydraluron

Beauty bloggers and editors have been raving about this serum for a while now and I can see why. Its main ingredient is Hyaluronic acid which draws moisture to the skin and traps it there. No matter what your skin type, pretty much everyone has dehydrated skin, this plumps it up and puts life back into it. Essential when you're hungover/on a bender/in hot climates. Drier skins will benefit the most from this but absolutely everyone can - and should - be using this.

Second best:

Nip and Fab's Glycolic fix serum

This is a gentle exfoliate because it contains glycolic acid, I can't say it reduces fine lines as it claims to, but it intensely moisturises and smells like oranges.

Blemish fighting Serum:

Best: La Roche Possay Effaclar Duo

Developed by dermatologists, you know this is going to be effective. Its suitable for acne prone and sensitive skins. This contains Salicylic acid to fight shine, blemishes and unclog pores. I've been using this for years and won't be without it. Available at Boots.

Best day time moisturiser:

Alpha H daily essential moisturiser spf 50+

This is incredible, I've never been a fan of high factor spf's because they are usually very thick creams that leave a white cast on my skin, clog my pores and make me overproduce oil. This is different, it is a thick lotion but it melts into the skin and leaves a soft, yet matte base, perfect primer for make-up. This deeply softens and protects at the same time, ideal for absolutely any skin type from the driest to the oiliest. I can't believe how inexpensive this is for the quality, I've tried other moisturisers that cost double and don't perform anywhere near as well as this.

Second best:

Emma Hardie amazing face hydrating lighter lotion

When my skin was at its oiliest last year I was searching for a lighter textured day cream, and this is exactly that. Its thinner than a standard body lotion, sinks in right away and leaves a flood of hydration. As this is so pricey I'd only splash out on this if you are extremely oily and want something to give you the moisture you need, without any residue.

Night time moisturiser:

Best: Boots Botanic's radiant youth replenishing night cream

This has olive oil, Shea butter and Hyaluronic acid to help deeply moisturise. In Summer when my skin was producing more oil this became a fantastic alternative to my more heavy duty REN night cream. Its a very light textured cream but it hydrates like a much heavier cream. Ideal for combination to oily skins. I have a feeling I'll be repurchasing this forever, and I'm definitely going to explore more of the Boots Botanic's range. Affordable and very effective.

Second Best: REN V-Cense revitalising night cream

This is a beautiful night cream, it contains wheat germ oil, carrot seed oil, sunflower oil, vitamin C and shea butter to really soften the skin and give long lasting hydration. I've loved this throughout Winter because I put it on and wake up with baby soft skin. Super anti-ageing and brilliant for mature skins as well as the super dry. It is expensive, so I'd say only buy this if you have very dry skin or ageing concerns, no one else really needs this level of replenishment.

Multi-tasking face mask:

Best: Balance me radiance face mask

I've been loving the Balance Me range in general, this mask has ground walnut shells to gently exfoliate, fruit acids help further to encourage cell renewal, it has kaolin clay to draw out impurities, and chamomile oil to soften/calm the skin. The ultimate multi-tasker for when your skin is in serious need of rescue.

Face mask for blemishes:

Best: Aesop chamomile concentrate

This mask has been my most used all year. I don't have acne but I do get a lot of hormonal/stress related spots. Using this mask religiously once a week helps to draw out all the dirt and oils in my pores. Especially helpful if like me, you drunkenly leave your make-up on and need a deep cleanse in the morning. The first time you use it you will most definitely get spots, because this mask is powerful and will suck out all the impurities. With continued use, it won't stop you getting spots (nothing will do that) but it will significantly shorten your spots lifespan.

Mask for hydration:

Best: Origins drink up intensive

This is a godsend for dry skin, I have oily/combination but I still find my skin loves it. Very dry skins can use this as a night cream, everyone else can benefit from just once a week. Every time I use this I wake up with the smoothest skin, and it smells intoxicatingly good. It does contain a lot of 'fragrant' essential oils which can be an acne trigger, if you're very oily and/or acne prone, avoid this. Great for mature skins too.


Best: Goldfaden MD Doctors scrub Ruby crystal Microderm exfoliator

This is heavy duty stuff! fair warning, if you have acne, a lot of spots that are fragile, avoid this. For everyone else, this is the most effective, thorough exfoliator you will ever find. For those that really want to invest in skincare, this wonder product contains thousands of perfectly round, tiny ruby crystals (that's right, actual ruby) swimming in mountain water, Hyaluronic acid and Jojoba oil to draw moisture to the skin, soften the surface, and remove dead skin cells for a truly glowing, radiant complexion. Every time I use this I feel like I have a new face. This says to use it daily but its so effective you can get away with once a week. Absolutely worth the money.


Best: Blistex relief cream

This is a medicated lip cream so if you're pregnant or have allergies, seek medical advice before use. I haven't found any lip product to even come close to the level of softness that this gives. Its better than the Burts Bee's one, better than EOS and a million times better than petroleum jelly. Its like it goes deep into the epidermis and moisturises from within. Its super cheap and I'll be repurchasing it forever more. It does leave a white cast on the lips if you apply too much at once but this disappears after a few minutes once its sunk in.

Hand Cream

Best: Aesop resurrection aromatique hand balm

This smells absolutely incredible, like an expensive perfume. Its a very light lotion that sinks in insanely fast, leaving no oily residue like a lot of other hand creams. It leaves my hands soft for hours, and the beautiful fragrance lingers too. An absolute luxury but lovely. I'm considering investing in the big 120ml tub they do.

Second best: Grown Alchemist

The only reason this is second best is because I prefer the scent of the Aesop hand cream to this one. The Grown Alchemist Vanilla and Orange peel hand cream does smell lovely though, it softens just as well and absorbs instantly, no oily residue is left behind, and its cheaper than Aesop, but just as high in quality.

Body moisturiser

Best: Dove Intensive nourishing lotion

Its hard for me to be impressed by a body moisturiser, because as someone with Excema I have severely dry skin. This one by Dove makes my legs feel like silk, I've tried much more obscure, harder to find, and much more expensive body creams than this and nothing has compared. Better than E-45 and half the price.

Body Wash

Best: Lush The Comforter shower cream

I love strongly scented shower gels/creams, and no one does them better than Lush. I've been a long time fan of The Comforter bubble bar they do, and only just found out recently they do the same scent in shower cream form. It smells like vanilla, Ribena and mango's all rolled into one. And like most Lush products, once you're done it makes the whole bathroom smell amazing, and you of course. The scent lingers a while too.

Second Best:

Original Source all in one moisturising shower gels

These smells heavenly, like you're showering in a fruit smoothie, in a good way. They have little micro beads of oil throughout to really soften the skin. Cheaper than Lush and almost as good.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Disappointing products

As you may have noticed, I like to test out a lot of products. Like most people I don't like to waste time or money, so I'm usually very careful in what I purchase. I watch lots of video reviews, look up blog posts on the product and weigh up the pro's and cons. But sometimes you suddenly run out concealer and you just need one, any one. So you go to highstreet and try something completely on a whim, then regret it. I only ever share my favourites so you don't get to see all the things I've hated and would reconnected against trying. So here are just a few of the products I regret buying.

Burts Bee's almond milk hand cream

This smells amazing, like an almond smoothie. However, this is more like a balm than a cream. The reason I hate it is because it leaves a very oily residue on the skin, and this takes forever to sink in. Even when it has sunk in it doesn't leave my skin particularly soft. Not worth the money.

Maybelline fit me foundation

I don't want to bash this product too much because I know it works for a lot of people, it just didn't work for me. This is a very dewy foundation, best for those with dry skin, I have combination skin erring on the side of oily, so this made my face an oil slick after an hour. The Fit Me concealer is brilliant, especially for people who have dry under eye areas and have issues with concealer creasing. Also the Fit Me powder is brilliant. They've come out with a matte version of the Fit Me foundation which I'm going to test out.

Lange Paris hand cream

This is literally the worst hand cream I've ever tried! I picked this up in TK Maxx and thought it looked good. Even after applying a liberal amount it doesn't moisturise at all. It smells very clinical, and strongly of chemicals.

MUA matte perfect loose powder

I didn't expect much of this because it is a cheap brand, but this does absolutely nothing for oil control. If you have normal skin, as in, not in the least oily, this would be decent enough to set your make-up with. It also leaves my skin looking quite ashy, I do think its meant to be a translucent powder too but it isn't, there is definitely some colour to it.

Avalon Organics Lavander luminosity night cream

I'd run out of night cream and randomly picked this up in Wholefoods. This broke me out, after one use I had two giant spots. I like to give skin care a proper test so I continued to use it for 3 more weeks, every day, and I got more and more spots. When I stopped using it I stopped getting spots, so I know I can attribute those break outs to this product. I'm not sure why my skin didn't agree with it but I have a feeling it might have been the lavender oil in it, which can clog pores and lead to blemishes.

Loreal revitalift eye cream

This is a lacklustre eye cream, it feels like any other moisturiser, eye creams are supposed to be rich and nourishing and this was none of those things.

Loreal brow drama

I had high hopes for this, because I've heard such good things from other beauty bloggers about it. It does set the brows decently, however, the brush is rediculous and not thought out at all. It has a long skinny wand with a large bobble on the end, when using this I constantly get product above and below my brows, the bristles are much too dense and hard so it doesn't comb through the brow hairs properly. The Loreal brow artist plumper is far superior.

Soap and Glory Archery brow tint and precision shaping pencil

Let me just clarify, that I love the Soap and Glory Archery pencil (this one) which is a completely different product to the one I'm about to talk about. The Archery brow tint has a thick pencil on one side and a felt liner brush on the other. The pencil is too waxy to deposit any colour, its also way too thick a pencil, even for someone like me who has larger brows. The tint side is okay, it would be great for someone who has very thin or sparse brows, but for me it just doesn't work.

Volume million lashes feline

I  don't think I've ever been more disappointed in a mascara. I really thought I would like this. I'm a massive fan of the original Volume million lashes mascara so I thought this would be even better. The brush is shaped like a spoon, I usually love this kind of brush but the tiny plastic bristles are far too small and too far apart to grip the lashes properly. This mascara does nothing for me.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The best make-up favourites of 2015

2015 in beauty has been experimental, I've tried a lot of products! and I've found a lot of new staple products, some loves, some hates, and some exceptional. Everything that made it to 'Exceptional' is in this blog post.  These are things I've been using all year and deserve to be on everyone's holy grail list. There's a 2015 Skincare favourites coming your way too soon so be on the lookout for that.


Best: Kat Von D tattoo liner in 'Trooper'

This is very similar to the Stila stay all day liner, but the Kat Von D one wins out because of the ingenuis brush. Its almost like a paint brush, its made up of fine bristles that taper to a sharp point, this kind of brush can never become dull (unlike felt brushes) so will stay sharp until the end of its life. The formula is waterproof/smudgeproof/party proof. Its the blackest of blacks, matte, you can layer it up and it won't look streaky. its easy to use, it has a spring loaded cap so it never dries out. There isn't a bad thing I could say about this product. Perfect in all ways.

Second Best : Stila stay all day liquid liner

This has a long, sharp, very fine felt tip that tapers towards the point. This makes it perfect for creating an impossibly thin line, and the thicker base means its easy and quick to make a thicker line too. Its a blacker than black colour, completely waterproof, smudge proof, it really does stay all day (I've slept in this before and it still didn't budge) but its also easy to remove at the end of the day, a normal micellar water will do the trick no problem. The spring base lid means it seals tightly and doesn't dry out. It lasts forever, I've had mine for 6 months with daily use. Its been compared to the ever famous Kat Von D Tattoo liner and the only difference I can see is the brush, the Stila brush is a felt so if you aren't careful when putting the cap back on, you can blunt it, otherwise they are pretty much the same.


Best (for oily skin) Gosh Prime and Set Primer and mattfying setting powder

This is the best primer for oily skin I've found on the high street, Since I discovered it in early 2015 I've gone through four pots of this stuff. Once you get over the fact that using a powder as a primer is a little strange, this works like magic. Its a very finely milled, translucent, loose powder. Its actually the finest, softest texture powder I've ever used. You dust this all over the face, then go onto to do the usual foundation, concealer etc, and then set your make-up with the same powder. This makes me oil free for 5 hours (considering that if I use no primer I get oily after 2 hours, that is amazing) It leaves a very natural finish, it doesn't look like you're wearing powder at all.

Eye Shadow Palette

Best: Zoeva Cocoa blend palette

This is the ideal palette for day to day looks, it has a warm toned brown (Freshly toasted) perfect to enhance the crease or blend into a subtle smokey eye if you add a little dark brown. The darkest brown (beans are white) is perfect for a smoked out eye liner, in the crease, or all over for a dramatic look, its so dark a brown its almost black. The shimmery brown toned gold (Subtle blend) is my favourite, its a great subtle all over lid colour for me, for paler skin tones its a more sexy but sutble look. Warm notes is a pink toned copper, beautiful in the crease or under the lower lashline. The yellow toned gold (Pure ganache) is a stunning holiday color, Substitute for love is a very good base color, goes with anything. Delicate acidity is a slightly shimmery grey toned purple that really warms the face. There isn't a colour in this palette that I don't use, there are enough variations of brown to create a natural eye, and enough shimmers and glitters to create a party look. And its a bargain at £15. See my full review of it here.

Eye cream

Best: By Terry ombre blackstar in Brown perfection

I tried to avoid buying this, but so many beauty bloggers went on and on about it that I bought into the hype. I got Brown perfection because I saw Sam Chapman wearing it in an Instagram post looking amazing, she'd used it for the base of a smokey eye with glitter in the centre of the lid. This is the best eye cream formula you will ever find, and it should be for the price! it has a very subtle amount of iridescent shimmer throughout, I'd suggest doing one eye at a time because once this sets it doesn't move. Once applied you have about thirty seconds play room to blend it. I want almost all the colours, and might drop by a Space NK store next time I'm feeling spendy.

Second best: Maybelline 24 hour colour tattoo eye creams

These eye creams are fantastic for the price point, I wish they came in more shades. I have the reddish copper toned one called Pomegranate Punk, a great color for Winter. They have a lot of glitter in but it doesn't look gaudy when its on the eye. You can apply a thin layer for a light wash of colour or a build it up for very opaque pigment. It definitely lasts all day and they make great, inexpensive, long lasting bases for other eye shadows to stick to.


Best: (Matte formula) Bourjois rouge edition velvet lipsticks

These are the best matte lipsticks I've come across, and such a good price point too. Its a liquid lipstick that sets to a very soft, satin finish. It settles in much like a stain and has amazing staying power because of it, however, because it isn't a competely matte finish it does tend to transfer on your coffee cup. Forgive it though, because it comes in a load of pretty colours, feels comfortable on the lips and is of high quality. I would expect this kind of lipstick to be high end and would absolutely pay double what it retails for if I had to.

Second best: (Matte) Kat Von D everlasting liquid lipstick in Outlaw

Although The Jeffree Star liquid lipsticks stay perfect on the lips for longer (doesn't cling to all the dry patches) the Kat Von D ones win because they have a much better colour selection, want a Kyle Jenner like nude? use 'Lolita', a brick red? 'Outlaw', a mauve-y purple? 'Mau 5' a lilac? 'LUV' there are some natural shades as well as very out there ones, bright oranges, barbie pinks, vampy wine colors, the list is endless. Outlaw is my favourite, its an orange toned red that looks great on any skin tone. She recently released some new shades too and they are brilliant. If you want very out there shades (or simply want a black liquid lipstick to mix with others in your collection) then the Jeffree Star cosmetics ones cater to that. The lasting power of both are insanse, if you don't drink anything it can last up to 12 hours, if you do drink then just the inner lip part can fade.

Best: (Pencil) Maybelline Color Drama lipstick in Berry Much

The best Berry lip color I own, these lip pencils dry to a semi-matte finish. It can transfer a little but not a lot. Its a berry toned red on me, but on paler skins you can really see the purple tones of it. They have some other great shades too such as a pink toned coral and a classic red. They are very comparable to the Nars velvet matte lip pencils, only a fraction of the price. Fantastic formula, I need to get more.

Best: (Traditional lipstick) Charlotte Tilbury matte revolution lipstick in Birkin Brown

These are unlike any matte lipstick formula I've ever used, they go on in a creamy texture and dry matte, not a flat matte but somewhere inbetween that and a velvet finish. They are expensive, but the formula is solid, it lasts well and is completely comfortable on the lips, to the point where you don't feel like you're wearing lipstick at all. They smell lovely, kind of like kinder eggs. They come in a great range of colours too, a deep wine (Glastonberry) a soft pink (Bitch Perfect) etc, but the one I use is Birkin Brown, on me a very natural if a little dark nude, on anyone paler a more dramatic, 90's lip.


Best: Benefit Roller lash

This isn't just the best mascara of the year, its the best I've ever found. For my stubbornly straight lashes, they hold a curl like nothing else, and its not even a waterproof formula! The brush has the perfect amount of bristles to separate my lashes and the curve of the wand adds volume, whilst the spiker end creates length. This is expensive, and the packaging although cute is very gimmicky, its still worth the money to me.

Second Best: Maybelline Lash sensational in black/waterproof

Specifically the waterproof because waterproof formulas hold a curl the best, essential for anyone with stubborn, short lashes that stick straight out like an elephants (raises hand). This mascara is comparable to the Benefit rollerlash, but only a bit. They both have a curved wand, with a longer spiker edge along one side. Although the Maybelline one has a much thicker wand which means you can build up volume a lot quicker. The more this mascara dries out the better it is to use, its not a very 'wet' mascara when you first get it which I like, if the formula is too fluid then you have 0 chance of building volume. Its a plastic bristle brush. The slightly curved, inner part of the wand is great for packing on the product, and the spiker, outter edge part of the brush is brilliant at separating out lashes and giving length. Best for those with sparse lashes.


Best: Maxfactor Creme puff blush in Gorgeous berries

The blush I've been using all year is the Creme puff blush in Gorgeous Berries, its the deepest purple shade above. These blushes are magical, they have strong pigment, swirled around the prettiest highlighter, on the cheeks it makes you look healthy, like you're naturally flushing, and glowing. I'm surprised its taking me this long to gain interest in the other shades, the bronzey one would be great for summer, but mostly I have my eye on the taupe shades. These have been compared to the ever famous - and ridiculously expensive - Ambient lighting blushes by Hourglass, and they are very similar.


Best: Smashbox liquid halo HD foundation with SPF 15

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this foundation, I didn't realize how good it was until I ran out, tried something else and then started to miss it. The Liquid Halo foundation is ultra lightweight, almost like a lotion in texture, it goes on smoothly and blends insanely fast. It doesn't give you much play room to blend it before it starts to set, but this makes application very speedy. Its great for oily and combination skins because its oil free. The finish isn't cakey, it looks like you're actual skin, just perfected. The SPF was appreciated in the Summer months, it comes in a wide range of colors for the palest to the darkest.


Best: NYX gottcha covered waterproof concealer

I'm cheating because I only got this a month ago but my god, is this concealer incredible, and its dirt cheap! its the highest coverage concealer I've ever found, I've used many a high end concealer and none of them compare to this. You only need the smallest amount of this for high impact coverage, its could most definitely conceal your tattoos, so your dark circles are no problem. It doesn't take too long to tap in and blend with the fingers. It doesn't crease under the eye (provided you set it with powder first) it stays all day. You can layer it up without issue, it comes in a lot of colours and did I mention its cheap? available at Boots.

Brow Pencil

Best: Soap and Glory Archery pencil

I've been through about 5 of these now, I've never been loyal to brow products before, but the Archery pencil by Soap and Glory is worth my loyalty. It has a brow brush on one end and the thinnest pencil on the other end, ideal for creating small, hair like strokes, a lot of brow pencils on the high street are too thick, not great for me because the tail end of my brows are non-existent, this tiny pencil means I can naturally fill them in so it doesn't look like a thick stripe towards the end. This is similar (If not exactly the same) as the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, only the Archery pencil comes in less colours and is significantly cheaper. I couldn't be without this pencil so much that I buy two at a time. Available at Boots.

Brow gel

Best: Loreal Brow artist plumper

It has the tiniest brush which allows you to comb through brow hairs without getting product on the surrounding skin. There's a lot of product when you pull out the wand but not too much, the brows are held firmly in place but not painfully so. There is some colour but not a dramatic amount, enough to make a natural difference but not enough to interfere with your other brow products applied. The thing I love most is that this brow gel has fibres in it, so you can build up the product over really sparse areas to create thicker brows. No other brow gel on the high street compares.


Best: (For daytime) The Balms' Mary Lou-Manizer

This is a 'suits all' highlighter that looks beautifully subtle in the day but can be applied more heavilly for more impact. The Mary Lou-manizer is a pearly white sheen, applied to the tops of cheek bones, inner corners of eyes, brow bone and cupids bow, makes you look like you're glowing from within. They have other colours too, the Betty Lou-manizer is a bronze, golden version, great for very deep skin tones, and the Cindy Lou-manizer is a pink version, perfect for the paler skin tones.

Best: (For night time) MUA Undress your skin highlighter

Everyone should own this highlighter, it doesn't last all day on the skin, but it gives the most stunning, iridescent glow to the skin, not glittery at all. I have this in the pink version as well as the golden/amber one, both are incredible. I can't believe they are only £3!? In truth I've been wearing this much more than the Mary Lou-manizer but only because of the beautiful colour of this, and the MUA one gives a much more intense glow, fantastic for night time looks (or day time if you're like me and just need intense glow all the time) this also looks very pretty when mixed with your blusher.

A beginners guide to fitness

I get asked a lot of fitness related questions, how do I find motivation to get in the gym? What exercises are best for weight loss? I...