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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