Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Daily Brushes

Good quality brushes are essential for almost any makeup look. This time last year, pre-beauty blogging, I was a total novice when it came to makeup brushes. I think I owned about four brushes from the likes of Bodycare, Avon or discount makeup stands. Good quality brushes were so expensive I just couldn't justify buying from the likes of MAC or Bobbi Brown. Then Real Techniques hit the UK, offering amazing quality, cruelty-free brushes for extremely affordable prices.
All of the face brushes that I use on a daily basis are from Real Techniques, starting with the Buffing Brush from the Core Collection (£21.99). This flat-topped brush totally transformed the way I applied foundation. The bristles are densely-packed but soft and it buffs in cream or liquid base products to create a flawless finish. Also from the Core Collection, the Contour Brush is a great multi-use brush. I use this small tapered brush every single day to blend in my concealer. Paired with my Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer, this brush helps to cover any and all of my blemishes, without looking heavy or caked-on. The Contour Brush can also be used for precision application of highlighter, blush or to define the cheekbones. The Core Collection is a great starting point if you're yet to try Real Techniques - it also contains a lip brush (which I sometimes use) and a pointed foundation brush (which I never use) - but for the Buffing Brush and Contour Brush alone, the £21.99 is so worth it.
I also use the Real Techniques Powder Brush (£12.99) every day for a light dusting of setting powder. This brush is huge and the bristles are so soft and fluffy that powder never looks overdone or cakey. Though I used to think that the Real Techniques Blush Brush (£9.99) was too big to be used for it's assigned purpose, I've actually started using it every day to lightly dust powder blush onto the cheeks. It's slightly tapered and again very soft and fluffy so you need to build up the colour if you like stand-out cheeks, but for an everyday subtle flush of colour, this brush works perfectly. Some people also use this brush for contouring, but since I have quite a small face, I prefer to use a smaller, more precise brush for that purpose. If I'm using cream blush products, I swap the Blush brush for the Stippling Brush (£11.99), which works amazingly well with cream/liquid products, but for Autumn/Winter I've rediscovered my love of powder blush.

If you're going to pick up a few of the Real Techniques brushes, can I make a suggestion? Don't buy them from Boots/Superdrug. There's an American website called iHerb - link, where I picked up most of my RT brushes and more recently a huge order of EcoTools brushes, for A LOT less than they cost in the UK. For example, the Core Collection (which retails for £21.99 in the UK) costs only $17.99 on iHerb - that's £11.26! And the Powder Brush (£12.99 at Boots) is only $9.99 - which is £6.25! Even the shipping from America costs only $4, so you end up saving a lot of money. Also you can use this code 'QCG185' to save either $5 or $10 off your first order, depending on how much you spend. (This isn't sponsored content by the way, I genuinely shop on iHerb and have saved myself a huge amount of money so wanted to share that with you) :) 

For eye makeup, the two essentials necessary to create a basic or smoky eye look are a base shadow brush and a fluffy blending brush. For applying my base eyeshadow, I use the Crown Chisel Pointed Fluff C209 (only £3.09) which is great for packing on colour. The slim shape also makes it easy to get right into the corners and crease of the eye. This brush is dense enough that it doesn't take several layers to build up colour and the sleek matte black handle and silver ferule are reminiscent of MAC's brushes which are about £15.00 more expensive. Finally, the one MAC brush that I couldn't be without is the famous 217 Blending Brush (£18.00). This is THE brush for creating the perfect smoky eye. It's fluffy, dense bristles make blending shadow into the crease and outer corner of the eye completely fool-proof. I can create so many different eye looks with these two brushes alone. 

*Use code 'FINNO2013' and follow this link: for 10% off at Crown Brushes throughout November - I'm just full of discount codes today aren't I!*

All of these brushes are staples in my collection. They wash really nicely, hold their shape and do their individual jobs perfectly. 

What are your top three must-have brushes?

Holly xo

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Monday, November 4, 2013

October Favourites

It seems like only a minute ago I was feeling guilty about missing out on September Favourites (sorry about that, was feeling a little uninspired that month), and now it's November and time for the October installment. Sorry to be cliche, but this has to be the fastest year of my life so far. For me, October was a month for settling into my final year of uni and convincing myself I like drinking green tea. It was also a month for trying out berry-toned lips, matte nails and rose cheeks, amongst other products. 

As you can see, I mainly favoured highstreet makeup this month, which my bank balance certainly appreciated. The elf blush in 'Blushing Rose' (£3.75) is a mauve, almost plum-toned pink with great pigmentation. The shade has cool undertones but adds a lovely flush to the apples of the cheeks. This is a beautiful shade for Autumn and looks great applied lightly with the Real Techniques Blush Brush. 
The L'Oreal False Lash Telescopic Mascara (£9.35 at FeelUnique) has been in my collection for years. Though it doesn't occupy the top spot of 'best mascara ever' (which I thought I had filled with the YSL Faux Cils Mascara, but have decided otherwise), it is definitely in my current top three. This mascara adds incredible length to the lashes, lifting and coating them root to tip. The slim plastic wand makes it easy to reach even the smallest corner lashes to create a fanned-out effect. I'm fairly sure I'll repurchase this mascara when it runs out (as it's sold on those discount makeup stalls for around £2.99 - who could resist that?). 
The start of a new academic year also means a few weeks of incredible student discount offers and student nights at large shopping centres. I attended the Student Shopping Night at Eldon Square, Newcastle at the beginning of October and saved myself a ridiculous amount of money. That was the night I bought my Topshop Aubrey Boots (post here) and the night I entered a competition to win a Fenwick giftcard - which I later found out I won! As a beauty blogger, I was of course very excited by the discounted high-end makeup available that night. MAC were offering a very rare 10% off so I decided it was the perfect time to start building a 15-pan pro palette. The first eyeshadow pan that I picked up was MAC All That Glitters (£10.00 for pan alone), an extremely popular shade which MAC describes as a 'beige with gold pearl'. I find that this shade leans quite peachy on the lids. It does a great job of brightening the eyes and it works especially well paired with a slick of my other discounted beauty purchase of the night - the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Demolition (£14.00). This is the softest crayon-style eyeliner I've tried and the shade Demolition is a great matte dark brown which is a slightly softer alternative to black. The staying power is good, and the pigmentation is insane but my main problem with this eye pencil is how quickly it's running out! Because the liner is so soft, it needs to be sharpened after every use as it disappears so quickly. I've already used almost half of this eyeliner in a month, and I don't even use it every day. At £14.00, that's not a great investment. I probably will repurchase this but I'll always have a cheaper brown liner at hand for everyday use, and use Urban Decay's offering sparingly. 
Barry M released two new collections for Autumn this year, a glitter collection and a matte collection. I picked up the shade Vanilla from the Matte collection (£3.99) which is a really unique colour. Its a silvery grey with lilac undertones - a great Wintery neutral shade. Although it's not what I'm used to wearing on my nails, I actually really like the finish of these polishes. I'd say they're more semi-matte as they have a small amount of shine, thought they're definitely not glossy. You could always apply a glossy topcoat over the polish if you love the colour but aren't a fan of the finish. I'll pop up a full review of this polish at some point so you can see the finish :).
Finally, what would an Autumn monthly favourites post be without the ultimate Autumnal lipstick - Rimmel Kate Moss Matte 107 (£5.49). In the bullet, this lipstick appears to be a dark purple, but on the lips it can appear either dark fuchsia or dark red, or a mix of the two! It's a seriously gorgeous shade and the semi-matte finish makes the colour even more intense, thought still completely wearable. It's very comfortable on the lips and as it's not a glossy lipstick, the staying power is great.

What have you been loving throughout October?

Holly xo

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

YSL Rouge Volupté Shine Pink In Confidence

Finally. After almost a year of wishing, swatching and almost buying one - I finally own one of YSL's Rouge Volupté Shine lipsticks. I was so so lucky last week to win a £200 Fenwick giftcard and the first thing I picked up was this lipstick in the shade 08 Pink in Confidence.
Isn't that the most beautifully packaged piece of makeup you've ever seen?
These lipsticks, like most YSL products, are so luxurious. Each sleek and shiny golden bullet has a coloured strip, emblazoned with the YSL emblem, that corresponds to the colour of the lipstick inside. Pink in Confidence is actually a stunning pale rose pink - though it looks a lot darker and almost fuchsia in the photograph of the bullet above! I promise it's nowhere near that dark in person. The colour of the strip around the centre of the lipstick is a much closer representation of the lipstick's actual colour. 
These lipsticks are incredibly glossy and comfortable on the lips and they provide pigmented colour in one swipe. The glossy finish does, of course, reduce the wear time as the lipstick tends to slip around and will not stand up to eating and drinking. But would anyone honestly mind pulling this lipstick out of their handbag to reapply? The Rouge Volupté Shine lipsticks also give the appearance of fuller, plumper lips thanks to the fine shimmer particles and high shine finish. 
At £24.00, these luxurious lipsticks don't come cheap, but as a beauty junkie they're so worth it. I still have my eye on number 15 Corail Intuitive (I love the shade names!) which is a gorgeous pale peachy pink. That one's definitely on the Christmas list. 

You can pick up the full range of Rouge Volupté Shine lipsticks from YSL counters or from FeelUnique with free delivery here - link.

Do you own a YSL lipstick? Which shade is your favourite?

Holly xo

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recent Beauty Additions: Bourjois

This month was a five-week pay month which can only mean one thing - a bit of a splurge on the highstreet products I've been eyeing up for the past four weeks. Bourjois were definitely the brand of the Summer for me and a lot of other bloggers; they really upped their game this year. A string of excellent products has cemented their position as one of, if not the, best UK drugstore brands so I couldn't wait to try out some of their new releases, an established product and of course a repurchase of my favourite foundation. 

Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation is my go-to base for daily use as it's so comfortable to wear, easy to blend and gives the most beautiful glowing finish that I just can't get enough of. I even banned myself from using it so often over the last two months so I could use up (get rid of) some of my less-favoured foundations. I also love Healthy Mix for nights out as it's really buildable so I can add another layer for more coverage without the dreaded caking that some foundations create.I wear the shade 52 Vanilla which is quite yellow toned but is a great match for my skintone once blended. 'Healthy' is the perfect title word for this base as it really does give skin that lit-from-within, 'I get 12 hours of sleep a night and never eat naughty food' kind of glow. This is currently £7.99 down from £9.99 in Boots and I can't pass up a saving.

Nail polish remover pots are not a new concept to me, as I've been using the cheaper Pretty Quik Instant Nail Polish Remover for a while now, but it's such a small tub that it gets very dirty and grungy pretty quickly. No one wants to dip a digit into a dirty nail polish remover pot to find they have last week's watered-down Essie polish all over their finger. Ick. The Bourjois 1 Second Magic Nail Polish Remover is the polish remover of choice for all of my favourite bloggers/youtubers so I thought it was time to upgrade. This 75ml pot is over twice the size of the 30ml Pretty Quik version so I'm hoping it will take a lot longer to get all gunky. I hope it lives up to its 1 second claims!

Over the last few months, Bourjois have been rolling out the new releases and generating a lot of excitement in the beauty blogging world. Their new Happy Light Serum Primers which are available in Matte and Luminous versions are said to be great at controlling excess oil production and adding a touch of radiance and luminosity to the skin respectively, as well creating a smooth canvas for makeup. As my skin is normal-dry, particularly at this time of year, I opted for the luminous serum primer which comes in a cute peach 15ml bottle with a handy little pump for dispensing product. I do love a product with a pump. I'm really looking forward to trying this out as I only have one other primer in my collection (Clarins Beauty Flash Balm) so this is definitely a welcome addition to my Muji drawers. (P.S. the serum primers are on an introductory offer for £6.99 until 30th October when they go up to their permanent price of £10.99 so snap one up quickly!)

Finally, I picked up one of the new Autumn-appropriate shades of the Summer favourite Color Boost Lip Crayons. I already own the shade Peach on the Beach which is a gorgeous peachy pink shade and the formula is glossy and hydrating so I'm really excited to wear Plum Russian which is a beautiful berry shade. I really love that name too! The color boost lip crayons also offer SPF 15, which although not something I actively look for in my lip products, is a nice extra benefit. The only other berry-toned lipstick I own is Rimmel Kate Moss 107 which is a deep matte colour, so I'm looking forward to trying out a sheer, glossy purple lip. 

Have you tried any of these products? What is your favourite Bourjois product?

Holly xo

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Aubrey Boots

Topshop Aubrey Boots - £75.00

I remember the first time I spotted these beauties on a friend's instagram. It was love at first sight. 
I've owned many pairs of black boots over the years, but none that really stood the test of time in terms of fashion and durability. This year I decided I should invest in a really good quality pair of ankle boots that would last and would look great with anything. I knew I wanted them to be black and chunky with a small heel and preferably buckles and when I tried on the Topshop Aubrey boots, I had to have them. 
The gold hardware on these cut-out boots is what really makes them unique. I love how the gold buckles pop against the black leather. They're also pretty comfortable, though they do feel quite heavy on your feet but I did want them chunky! 
The Topshop Aubrey boots look stunning with literally anything - jeans, disco pants or with tights and a tartan skirt which was my chosen pairing when I wore them out the first time. 
The only problem with the Aubrey boots is their availability - they are so hard to track down. I haven't seen them on the website at all yet and my size was sold out in every store I rang - and I rang every store in the North East. However, if you really have your heart set on them like I did, you can try asking a member of staff to order you a pair, which is what I did (and they arrived at the store two days later for me to collect). I also managed to get them during the 20% off for students offer at the beginning of this month so saved myself a lot of money, but with the year-round 10% student discount, you could still pick these up for £67.50!

What do you think of the Aubrey boots?

Holly xo

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Christmas Beauty Wishlist

Beautysets - Christmas Wishlist

I'm surprised I don't write wishlist posts more often, as I'm the girl who has a dedicated section in her iPhone notes for adding products to the wishlist. I have beauty and fashion wishlists (in Paint form) safely stored on my laptop. And once I make a purchase and can happily tick off an item from one of these wishlists... I simply add another three. It's a never-ending process. 
Now we all know that the wishlist of all wishlists is composed at Christmas time. All those products that you've been lusting after all year but couldn't bring yourself to buy as they were too expensive or you already have something similar so didn't need it, now you might finally get to add them to your collection. 
My birthday is the 5th December, a mere 20 days before Christmas so I tend to make one big wishlist for both. Here's a selection of what I'm hoping to get my beauty-loving hands on this year.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation secured its place on my wishlist many many months ago. It's a must-have base according to all my favourite beauty bloggers. The likes of Amelia Liana and Vivianna Does Makeup rave about this foundation on a monthly basis (at least), praising it's lasting power and the polished yet natural finish it provides. I've heard people repeatedly say it's the perfect foundation for a night out (due to the lack of SPF as well as the aforementioned benefits) and that's exactly what my collection is missing - that perfect base that lasts all night, makes skin look airbrushed and photographs beautifully. 
The other base that's on the wishlist is the Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser. I actually don't own any tinted moisturisers or BB creams so this will definitely be a welcome addition. Generally, my skin's quite good and for days when I don't need a full face of foundation, I think this will offer the perfect amount of coverage as well as injecting a little extra hydration, which my skin always needs. I've read that the oil-free version offers slightly more coverage than the regular offering and since I'm not confident enough to go practically bare-faced, this sounds like the right option for me.
Le Blush Creme de Chanel is just the most luxurious little compact of creamy colour and I just know I won't want to dent it with my stippling brush but I need to own one of these before the year is out. The shade Revelation is the one that's jumped out at me every time I've visited a counter as it's a warm-toned peachy pink - my blush colour of choice. The other colours look amazing too, but I thought for a £27.00 blush, I should get the shade that I'll get the most wear out of. 
I've rediscovered my love of lip products recently so they take up quite a bit of space on the Christmas wishlist. The YSL Rouge Volupte Shine lipsticks are just the most beautifully-packaged and luxurious lipsticks I've ever seen. They're very glossy and creamy so I've heard that the lasting power isn't all that good but who wouldn't want to pull that shiny golden bullet out of their handbag to reapply? I think I'd like either the shade 08 which is a lovely baby pink or 15 which is a light coral. I've heard nothing but good things about the Urban Decay Revolution Lipsticks which are said to be creamy and hydrating but opaque in one swipe and fairly long-lasting. The three shades that I would love to own are Naked, a light rose pink, Streak, the blogger's favourite - a peachy pink or Bang, a stunning orange-red. I can see me buying one or two of these before December arrives actually as there's a space in my lipstick holder just waiting to be filled with one of these lippies. The Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Riviera is another blogger favourite, being sported by the likes of Lily Melrose and VDM and I don't own anything like it - in colour or texture so I'd love to try this. 
The Aesop Parlsey Seed Cleansing Masque looks like the perfect clay-based mask for me. It applies like a cream before drying in patches so is a lot more comfortable and gentle to use - something my sensitive skin needs in a cleansing mask. It's supposed to draw out impurities leaving skin clarified and refreshed. There's definitely a gap in my skincare collection for a mask like this and I really love the black and white apothecary-style packaging so that's a bonus! 
I really love Clarins, I've never tried a product from them that I didn't like. The packaging is nice, it's not too expensive and the products usually smell lovely too. The next product I'd love to try from Clarins is their Hydraquench Cream which comes in a blue-tinted glass jar (quite luxurious-looking I think) and applies as a light, silky cream that absorbs quickly. I tried a sample of this cream and loved it, and it smells really good too. 
I don't normally do anything to my eyebrows except brush them through on a morning because they're quite a lot darker than my blonde hair and they're not very sparse so when I fill them in, they can look a little OTT at times. The Anastasia Brow Wiz is supposed to be so fine that it creates hair-like strokes, making brows look completely natural so this sounds like exactly what I need in a brow product. 
The only powder I've ever used is the Rimmel Stay Matte Translucent powder and it does a great job of mattifying the skin and setting makeup, but I'd love to try something a little more high-end like the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light which claims to capture, diffuse and soften the way light reflects on the skin. I imagine this powder to give skin that soft focus look and refine the skin's texture. 
Finally, the product I'm possibly the most excited about on this list is by Charlotte Tilbury, the celebrated makeup artist who recently released her own makeup range at Selfridges. All her products look so high-end and beautifully packaged but the one that stood out to me most was the Colour-Coded Eyeshadow Palette in Dolce Vita, which is inspired by the look of Kim Kardashian with deep bronze hues. This is such a gorgeous quad that could be used to create a variety of different looks. 

I feel like this was a very long post, but I just get so excited over new beauty products! If you made it to the end of this post, I'm seriously impressed. And grateful, ha.  

What's on your Christmas Wishlist?

Holly xo

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Monday, October 7, 2013

e.l.f Haul

If you haven't already registered your email address to receive the newsletter from e.l.f, can I recommend you do! If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known about the 30% off flash sale that was on last month for a limited time. Elf regularly email with discount codes to be used on all their products or on the shipping, so it's definitely worth keeping up to date with their offers via email! 
E.l.f (or Eyes Lips Face) is a budget online beauty brand which originated in America and made its way to the UK in 2007. The prices are seriously low, and although the products are a bit hit and miss, when it's good, it's really good! And when paired with a generous discount code (in the Summer, they offered 60% off!), it's definitely worth trying out their stuff. 
So the product I was most looking forward to trying, and one that is often sold out due to its popularity is the Contouring Blush and Bronzing Cream in St. Lucia (£3.75). This cream cheek duo is often compared to Nars Laguna bronzer and Deep Throat blush (I own Laguna and the fairly similar Orgasm blush, I can feel a comparison post brewing). I haven't even dipped a brush into this yet, firstly because it's just so pretty and I hate 'spoiling' pretty beauty products haha, and secondly because I don't really know where to start with applying this. I'm thinking I should use my stippling brush and start by applying lightly, and BLEND. Full review when I've given it a try, promise!
I also bought the Blush in 'Blushing Rose' (£3.75). I'm normally drawn to peachy pink blushes, but for Autumn, I really love mauve pink shades, so Blushing Rose seemed like a good choice. This is a beautiful, slightly plummy pink with golden shimmer. I've used this blush a couple of times and I really like it. The staying power isn't great, but I don't really find any blushes last that long on me (not sure why as I don't have oily skin) but the pigmentation is spot on. This looks lovely paired with a berry lipstick or a smokey eye. Both the powder blush and the contouring blush and bronzing cream come in black palettes that are very similar to the Nars packaging, except they are made of plastic instead of being rubberised, which makes them a lot less luxurious but a lot easier to keep clean. There are also decent-sized mirrors inside the palettes. 
During the Summer 60% off sale, my sister picked up some e.l.f bits, including the Black Cream Eyeliner (£3.75) and I've borrowed it from her more times than I can count, so couldn't wait to pick up my own. I also picked up the shade 'Coffee' as I tend to opt for brown eyeliner during the day. The cream eye liner comes in a small clear plastic jar with a black lid. As soon as I opened them, I noticed that the brown eyeliner had hardened into a chunk that didn't actually fill the whole jar, and could probably be tipped out in one go (as you can see from the picture above) - not good. The black eyeliner was in great condition though. I've used the black one a few times now and it's so easy to apply. It's so creamy and soft and opaque in one swipe. The brown, as I expected, was not so easy to work with. It's not as pigmented or as soft, making it harder to line the eyes effectively. I'm thinking about popping it in the microwave for a few seconds to see if that makes it a bit softer and easier to use (any advice would be appreciated). These cream eyeliners also come with a small angled brush, though I haven't tried those yet as I've been applying it with either my MAC or my Models Own angled brushes. 
I picked up the Eyelid Primer (£1.50) which I've heard good things about but haven't yet tried myself, the Daily Brush Cleaner (£3.75), which I tried very briefly and on first thoughts wasn't impressed with but I'm definitely going to give it a proper try and get back to you as I really want it to be good for spot cleaning brushes, and the Blush Brush (£3.75) which is a soft, fluffy but fairly flat brush with a black handle, ferrule and bristles. 

Have you tried e.l.f? What are your favourite e.l.f products?

Holly xo

Friday, October 4, 2013

Soap & Glory Collection

Soap & Glory are really the only bodycare brand that I get excited about. Their products just seem so luxurious with their delicious scents and kitschy packaging that I find it hard not to pick something up every time I step into Boots. They don't have a huge amount of products in their bodycare range though, so I only have five in my collection right now.

My most used S&G product, and one that I don't ever want to be without is the Sugar Crush Body Wash (£6.50). This range smells incredible. Literally one of my favourite smells of all time. Made with a blend of lime oil and kiwi juice water, amongst other skin softening ingredients, this body wash has an amazing citrus fragrance that works really well in the mornings for a boost of energy. It's fresh and very sweet (so those who don't like sweet fragrances might want to give this a sneaky smell in store before buying) and literally just smells good enough to eat. It doesn't lather up too much but feels very creamy and moisturising on the skin. I'm onto about my third 500ml bottle of this bodywash as I use so much of it so that I can really enjoy the smell ha! I just wish that the scent lingered a little longer after getting out of the bath/shower.
I also own the Clean, Girls Body Wash (£6.50), which although has the same creamy formula as the Sugar Crush one, has a much more musky, perfume-like scent. I personally don't like the smell of this one half as much, it's scented with the S&G Mist You Madly fragrance and I just find it a little too heavy for my tastes as I prefer fresh, fruity scents. If I was to compare this scent to another, I'd say it smells a lot like traditional bubble bath! It contains vanilla fruit and orchid extracts, but I can't smell the vanilla in there (as that's also one of my favourite scents), it must be overpowered by the Mist You Madly smell.

The Sugar Crush Body Buttercream (£10.50) is a fairly lightweight creamy moisturiser with the same delicious scent as the corresponding body wash. This is made with shea and coconut balm, as well as the same lime oil and kiwi juice water that scents the rest of the range. It's light enough that it sinks in to the skin quickly but also rich enough that it feels like a real treat for the skin and leaves your body soft and hydrated. It comes in a huge 300ml tub which compared to the Body Shop Body Butters which retail at £13.00 for 200ml is a much better deal!
If you prefer fruitier, less sweet smell you could try the Butter Yourself Body Cream (£10.50) which I received free as part of a promotion when I bought two S&G products a while ago. This is a richer moisturiser with a thicker consistency and a fruity scent and, like the Sugar Crush Body Buttercream, it's completley non-greasy. It's made with shea butter, exfoliating AHAs, orange waterjuice, peppermint oil and fruitliquid fig. This smells a bit like grapefruit and is a really lovely alternative to the Sugar Crush range. This comes in the same 300ml size so will last you a good while.
Finally, since I love the smell SO much, I had to own all the products in the Sugar Crush range and picked up the Sugar Crush Body Scrub (£8.00). This has a slightly different scent to the other products in the range as it also contains smashed brown sugar, intensifying the sweet fragrance as well as buffing away any dry skin. This stuff leaves my skin so soft with not a dry patch in sight. I don't find it to leave a greasy residue on the skin and it is a really effective exfoliator. The only problem I have with this scrub is that it comes in a tub, which looks lovely but when you're in the bath and keep dipping your wet hands into it, can make things a bit messy with a little pool of water forming on top of the scrub. I wouldn't let this put you off though, as I just tip out the excess water at the end and there's no harm done. This is definitely my favourite body scrub.

What is your favourite S&G product? What else do I NEED to try?

Holly xo

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Beauty Buys

Hi everyone, sorry I've been a little absent from blogging for the last two weeks, I started my final year of university and have just been settling into my new weekly routine of balancing university with my job. 
I have a lot to catch up on so there's a list of posts as long as my arm that I want to get written for you all :) I'm going to start by showing you all the beauty bits I picked up in September (minus a little E.L.F haul and a Student Night haul that I'll be posting separately). 

Firstly, I picked up a few things from Crown Brushes. Back when I was doing some modelling early last year, I spoke to a Makeup Artist who told me about a website called Crown Brushes where she purchased all her tools, she compared the quality to MAC brushes but at around 1/3 of the price (or less). So since then I knew I needed to add some to my collection, though the Real Techniques phenomenon did distract me for a while. I've been longing for the perfect small fluffy blush brush to apply powder blushes and found one on Crown Brushes that I thought looked just right, so I placed my first order with them, adding a small shadow brush and a fine liner brush to the basket. The brushes I bought are sleek with matte black handles and silver ferrules. The C403- Small Chisel Blush brush, though not the fluffy, soft blush brush I was hoping for, is excellent quality. It's a little flatter and more structured but I do think it will work well with powder blush or for contouring. This brush is fairly expensive at £17.89. The C209- Chisel Pointed Fluff is an excellent little shadow brush, it packs on colour well and as it's quite small, it can get into the harder-to-reach areas of the eye and at only £3.09 it's an absolute steal! The C250-1 Taklon Liner (£1.69) is your typical straight eyeliner brush. I didn't actually buy it for eyeliner as I prefer to use an angled brush for that, I bought it with the intention of using it to apply shadow under the eye or adding shadow on top of eyeliner to smoke it out. I'll report back when I've used these brushes more. For now though, Crown Brushes are offering you 10% off all orders throughout October - just click the following link and enter the code FINBER2013 at the checkout - .

From The Body Shop, I picked up the new Camomile Waterproof Eye and Lip Makeup Remover and a mini Strawberry Body Butter, whilst they were having a  40% off event. As you'd exepct, the body butter smells incredible, so incredible in fact that I still can't bring myself to dip my finger in and use it because I like to smell it and I like how it looks when it's untouched. That's weird isn't it? I'm still testing out the makeup remover ready to review fully for you, but hint - at first I didn't like it, now I like it quite a bit! The week when I bought this, the Body Shop were also offering a free hand cream to all shoppers (no purchase necessary!) so after sniffing them all I decided on the Almond Hand & Nail Cream which normally retails at £5.00 so quite a saving! 

I was very excited when I saw on Twitter that M&S were offering 20% off their beauty section for one day only last month so I snapped up the Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask for £24.00 instead of £30.00! It felt good to finally tick that one off the wishlist and welcome it into my skincare collection. Though it's not recommended for sensitive skin (like mine), I did a patch test first then used it fully last night and besides a little redness on my cheeks and around my nose, which are the most sensitive part of my face, I haven't noticed any nasty reactions. Full review on this beauty blogger favourite coming soon!

I've already mentioned the Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm which is the most nourishing lip balm I've ever tried and I've been using it religiously every night to prevent my lips from getting chapped now that the cold weather is setting in. I also repurchased the Morocconoil Treatment 25ml, this time from Charissa's blog sale at less than half the price! I love this stuff and the 100ml bottle is definitely on my Christmas list. It leaves my hair soft and more manageable, and cuts drying time in half.

Of course I had to pick up some products from the highstreet, so this month I added the Maybelline 24 Hr Colour Tattoo in Metallic Pomegranate, a shimmery cream shadow in an Autumn-appropriate plum shade, Rimmel Kate Moss Matte Lipstick in 107 which is the first ever purple toned lipstick I've owned but is surprisingly wearable if you like the deep, vampy look which I've found out this month that I do, Bourjois 1 Seconde Nail Polish in Blue No Blues, definitely one of my favourite highstreet nail polish formulas as it's fast-drying, opaque in one coat and the wide brush coats the nails in one stroke, and the L'Oreal EverRiche Nourishing and Taming Shampoo and Conditioner, which smells dreamy and leaves my hair so soft and smooth.

So I've added a fair amount of products to my stash in September, but of course I'm never satisfied and have only replaced their spots on my wishlist with other products! Anyone else do this?

What did you pick up during September? 

Holly xo

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

L'Oreal Skin Perfection Micellar Water & Cleansing Milk

I've read a lot of reviews of L'Oreal's addition to the world of micellar waters, mostly good, so when my sister bought a bottle, along with the Cleansing and Perfecting Milk from the same range, I thought I'd give them both a try and review them for you. 
First up, the 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution which claims to 1) Remove makeup, 2) Cleanse the skin and 3) Tone and smooth the skin. I must admit, when it comes to skincare, I like to use separate (and carefully selected) products for each step in my routine rather than opt for a 'one product does all' kind of situation. I like to remove my eye makeup with Bioderma Sensibio H2O, followed by a creamy cleanser and a soothing toner, so I personally wouldn't use this micellar solution for all three of these steps. However, I gave it a go at removing my eye makeup, in place of Bioderma and it worked really well. Just like Bioderma, this clear, odourless solution gently and effectively removes all eye makeup without taking an eternity or needing harsh scrubbing. A 2p coin-sized amount on a cotton pad, pressed to the eye and accompanied by gentle circular motions will remove every trace of the day's makeup. This didn't sting my eyes at all, though it did leave them looking a little more pink than Bioderma does. 
Do I love it as much as my Bioderma micellar water? Not quite. But at £4.99, it is definitely a cheaper and almost as good alternative that I may well purchase in future. 

I've never used a cleansing milk before so wasn't sure what to expect in terms of consistency or effectiveness when I tried the L'Oreal Cleansing and Perfecting Milk. This product has a slightly runny lotion consistency which does look like a thicker version of milk in colour and texture (would you believe it?). When I used this cleanser after removing my eye makeup with the micellar solution (as I normally would), I did find it to sting the skin around my eyes a little, particularly just above my eyelids. I do have slightly sensitive skin, so this might not be an issue for those who don't - I know my sister (who has oily skin) doesn't experience any discomfort at all when using this product. It does, however, effectively remove every trace of makeup from my face - I checked using a cotton pad after washing the cleansing milk off and the pad remained whiter than white. So it's an effective cleanser, though maybe not for sensitive skin or for dry skin as it did leave my skin feeling a little tight. At £4.49, it certainly wouldn't break the bank if you wanted to try it out for yourself, though I wouldn't recommend it from my own experience.
Now, my real concern came when I read the ingredients list on the back of the cleanser - oh what's that third ingredient? Mineral Oil. 

Mineral Oil has caused quite the stir in the beauty world. Some people (Caroline Hirons, in particular) hate the stuff, refusing to use products that contain it at all because it creates a barrier over the skin, simply sitting on top of it stopping the skin from self-regulating and absorbing other skincare products like moisturisers and serums. Caroline emphasises that mineral oil is used in skincare products because it is cheap, not because it is beneficial for the skin, and that plant-based oils etc are a much better alternative. The PixiWoo sisters, on the other hand, like mineral oil products as makeup applies nicely on top of it. Whilst studies have shown that mineral oil does not clog pores, we are all a little wary of putting it on our faces now. 

Overall, I'd definitely consider L'Oreal's micellar solution as an effective alternative to more expensive micellar waters and would purchase it myself in future. The Cleansing and Perfecting Milk, however, isn't a product I would use again as I didn't find it to be nourishing on my skin like cream/balm cleansers are and it did sting my skin. The mineral oil content just sealed the deal for me. 

Have you tried these L'Oreal products? What are your thoughts?
Let me know in the comments!

Holly xo
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

MAC Faux Lipstick

As promised, today I'm going to review my other MAC lipstick purchase from this month. In the past, I've always bought from MAC's collection of Cremesheen or Amplified Creme lipsticks, as they tend to be most people's favourite formulas and I do normally gravitate towards more moisturising lipsticks. This month though, I expanded my collection to include a Matte (Russian Red, see review here) and a Satin lipstick, Faux.
Faux is described by MAC as a Muted Mauve-Pink, which I think is pretty spot on. For Autumn, I really love mauve coloured products, particularly lipsticks and blushes. This shade is a stunning toned-down pink with a definite mauve/lavender hue. I feel like Faux is one of those shades that will look slightly different depending on the wearer's natural lip colour/pigmentation and skintone, so I'd suggest swatching it or trying it on at a MAC counter to really get a feel for how the shade will look on you. 
I know some people find the Satin formula a little drying but I have to admit I am totally in love with the finish of this lipstick. It's creamy and comfortable on the lips as well as being matte and opaque. This shade is also one of the more long-wearing lipsticks I have in my collection. I will definitely be picking up more lipsticks from the Satin range as I am totally impressed with Faux. I've been wearing this lipstick with a taupe smokey eye to compliment the subtle purple tones.
MAC lipsticks increased in price again recently and now retail for £15.00, but let's face it, they can get away with it. I can't see the hype surrounding those sleek black bullets dying down any time soon, can you?

What is your all-time favourite MAC lipstick? What is your preferred finish?
Let me know in the comments!

Holly xo
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*I've just started a new Twitter specifically for all my blog-related ramblings, I'd really love if you could follow me there as I'm looking rather lonely at the minute! Ha

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hydration Heroes

Autumn is really setting in now, the clocks go back soon meaning cold dark nights cosied up under the blankets with a hot cuppa are fast approaching. And for a lot of us, the change in weather also signals changes in our skin. When the cold wind starts whipping away at my face, my skin can get very dry, particularly on my cheeks and forehead, so I'll be really upping the hydration in my skincare routine. Firstly, I'll be making sure to use Hydraluron before my moisturiser. This serum has a clear gel-like consistency and is packed full of the purest form of hyaluronic acid that holds up to 1000 times its weight in water, meaning the hydrating effects of your moisturiser last longer. This product also has long-term skincare benefits as with prolonged use it can reduce the skins need for topical moisturisers. Thanks to Caroline Hirons, this 30ml serum is now a must-have for all skincare lovers.
One moisturiser that I've found to be particularly effective in the colder months is Vichy Aqualia Thermal Rich, which is specifically targeted to dry and dehydrated skin. This non-greasy cream is lightweight and fast-absorbing whilst still being rich and moisturising enough to soothe dryness. It's also been specially formulated for sensitive skin (like mine). This stuff smells lovely and comes in a blue-tinted glass jar, making it seem a lot more expensive than it's £16.00 price tag (Escentual is currently selling this with 15% off making it £13.60! Link above). 
On a Sunday night, or even mid-week there's nothing better than running a hot bath and smothering on a face mask to really up the hydration. For a quick skin boost, the Superfacialist Rose Hydrate Intense Moisture Mask is a great 10 minute treatment. Another product that is suitable for sensitive skin, this mask includes white willow extract, Vitamin E and marshmallow extract for a plumping and refreshing effect. If you're not a fan of rose scents, this may not be the mask for you as it is quite strongly scented, but I don't find it too overwhelming and the creamy mask does a great job at boosting my skin. This mask only costs £8.99, so I can't wait to try some of the other affordable Superfacialist products by Una Brennan. 
For a more intense moisturising mask, the one and only Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask is the one for the job. This mango-scented mask contains hyaluronic acid, avocado oil and Japanese seaweed to quench the skin and prevent further moisture loss. I like to use this mask in place of my night cream at least twice a week, and in the morning my skin always looks plump, healthy and hydrated. 
Another problem for me when the cold weather sets in is dry chapped lips. Highstreet lip balms just don't really cut it for me, as they tend to be petroleum-based, meaning the hydration they offer is very temporary and just leaves my lips needing more product once it wears off. So this year, I've invested in the Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm in the hopes that it will keep my gob looking soft and moisturised rather than like a half-peeled orange. So far, I am really impressed. I love the sturdy glass packaging, the honey scent and especially the thick balm texture. This feels more like a treatment than a balm on the lips. It contains shea butter and plant oils to really nourish the lips and restore smoothness. I'll be smothering this on day and night throughout A/W as its such a pleasure to use and really feels like it's treating the dryness rather than masking it!
Finally, I couldn't write this post without including a body moisturiser! Even though I'm not one of these people that needs to religiously moisturise post-shower to avoid scaly limbs, I do love the way my skin feels after a good session with a body butter. The one that tops the list for me is the Body Shop Satsuma Body Butter. Oh my God. This stuff smells amazing. I think I've mentioned before that orange is one of my favourite smells, and basically if I open this, it takes all my restraint not to rub my nose in it. Like all the Body Shop Body Butters, this has a creamy texture that absorbs quickly and doesn't leave any greasy residue. They also come in great big 200ml pots (or smaller 50ml pots if you fancy trying before you buy), which are colour-coordinated to the fruit/plant/food they smell of. There will definitely be a body butter in the collection that you will love as much as I love this one, so I recommend having a good sniff of them all in store to find your favourite. Some of the most popular body butters include Strawberry, Mango and Coconut. 

What are your hydration heroes?

Holly xo

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