Monday, 10 June 2013

OPI - Fragrance Direct

OPI nail polishes are currently £3.99 on Fragrance Direct so of course I had to treat myself to a few. I usually buy them from ASOS (I particularly love the mini collections), but the full size varnishes usually retail at around £11 or £12, so they're pretty expensive as far as nail polish goes, and I only owned a couple of the full size ones before this order. I'd never used Fragrance Direct before, but if they frequently have discounts like this I'll definitely be using them again. Also, unlike what their name suggests, they actually sell a whole range of things other than perfume.

Left to right: Care to Danse?, Pedal Faster Suzi, Kiss Me On My Tulips, Color to Diner For, I Don't Give A Rotterdam, I Have A Herring Problem

One of the reasons I love OPI, aside from the colours of course, is the fact that all the names are kind of quirky and tongue in cheek, linking in whatever theme the collection has. The polishes I ordered were actually from 3 different OPI Collections: Holland, Touring America and New York Ballet. You can probably guess from their names above, which collections they belong to. I like make up brands like OPI that don't take themselves too seriously and actually have a sense of humour, it's quite refreshing! All the collections they release keep things exciting as well; I think my favourite themes are the countries (they've also done Germany) and film tie-ins (Skyfall, Oz).

I've only worn Care to Danse? so far, which is a lovely pale lilac and very sheer lacquer. You end up with nails that are almost nude but with a twist and a gelly-like finish. All the other polishes, aside from Kiss Me On my Tulips, have a shimmer. I love a bit of shimmer because it's kind of like having a glitter polish but nowhere near as difficult to remove!

As I spent over £20 buying these, I also got to select a free gift, which was a nice surprise. You actually got to chose what you wanted as well, it wasn't just something you probably wouldn't like thrown in to the parcel as an afterthought. I chose Macadamia Nourishing Leave In Cream, because I've heard really good things about the Macadamia haircare brand recently, and I have dry, difficult hair so anything with added oils and moisturisation works for me. It smells delicious and does leave my hair feeling very soft, so I'm intrigued to try some other products in the range now too.

I feel like I've written a sponsored post raving about Fragrance Direct, but it was just quite a surprising discovery for me! Sometimes it pays to stray away from your usual tried and tested websites and try something new.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Topshop Lip Bullets

Until I picked up two of these babies I'd never actually tried any Topshop makeup before, despite the pretty packaging and some cool concepts that had caught my eye (peelable nail polish!). But when I saw these Lip Bullets in Topshop a couple of weeks ago I new I had to try them. I'm loving my lip colours at the moment and these looked like they offered something a little bit different - being halfway between a lipstick and a lip pencil. I picked up two colours: Rockabilly which is red, and Heartbeat, a peachy pink. I actually love the names of these as well so that appealed almost as much as the colours!

These are waxier in texture than a lipstick but still really easy to apply. My favourite of the two is definitely Rockabilly, it has a really intense colour and although, like Heartbeat, you have to reapply it frequently, it does stain your lips a bit so you don't have a completely naked lip between applications. I found Heartbeat didn't apply as evenly to my lips as Rockabilly, but then it is a lighter colour and I often find that lighter colours settle on dry patches a lot more than dark ones. I'm not entirely sure why that is but I've definitely come to notice it! Heartbeat is also a more sheer, delicate colour, but pretty nonetheless.

I do have one complaint about these however: the packaging could be a little sturdier. I had Rockabilly in my bag for a day and the lid popped off and coloured the inside of my bag and its contents fairly red! One of the reasons why I didn't take pictures of them is because Rockabilly now looks a hot red mess with a bashed nib (teaches me for not using a makeup bag I suppose). So I would say that these should never be put them loose in a bag or you'll end up with a multi-coloured mess. Luckily eventhough the nib is all messed up it still is surprisingly easy to apply to your lips neatly. I guess it's because they're more slender than a lipstick.

Although I do think that their price point is a little high at £8, there is a decent range of colours available, they're easy to use, they're fun and don't take themselves to seriously. Definitely think I'll be delving into the world of Topshop make up again soon.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Glossybox: April 2013

Another month, another Glossybox!

April's box is a cute little number designed by Pearl Lowe. Definitely another one I'll be keeping for storage of various bits and bobs.

There was a perfect balance of skincare and make up products this month in my opinion.

The products I received in my box this month were:

A-Derma Intense Repair Lip Balm (full size)
NIP + FAB Dry Skin Fix Body Butter in Mango (50ml)
Sleek Blush in Flamingo (full size)
Yves Rocher So Elixir Purple Eau de Parfum (5ml)
Essie Nail Lacquer in Flawless (full size)

First things first: I was *very* excited to see a full size nail polish in there. Pink is one of my favourite colours to wear so I was very happy with the selection of Flawless. And, having heard many good things about Essie I'd not actually tried any of their varnishes yet (I'm an OPI and Model's Own kinda girl) so I was excited to try this. I've already painted my nails with this and the colour's lovely and the varnish has a really smooth finish - it really does look flawless.

Did I mention that I love my body lotions? So the addition of a Nip+Fab body butter was a welcome one. Another brand I've not tried yet, but I love mango scent in a body butter (The Body Shop do a great one) so I am sure this will go down a treat.

I liked the inclusion of the rather serious-looking A-Derma product, and as I am a bit of a lipbalm addict  I was looking forward to giving it a go. However, having applied it before bed over the course of a few nights, I've not found it very effective at repairing dry lips sadly. And, looking at the ingredients list I'm not terribly surprised, as the first ingredient is paraffinum liquidum - vaseline, basically. Which is a shame because the oat milk it contains should be really good for dry skin but I think any goodness is lost in the base of vaseline.

I don't really wear blusher often so the Sleek blush in Flamingo doesn't excite me that much, although it is a stunning vivid pink so I'm quite looking forward to wearing it anyway. Although my case seems to be faulty as it is almost impossible to open so this more likely than not will end up gathering dust in a corner somewhere.

Finally, the Yves Rocher perfume sample. This is much, much more up my street than the Juicy Couture sample from the other month. It has a seductive woody, floral scent - and it comes in a proper little perfume bottle, not a rubbish little spray like samples sometimes do.

So maybe not a complete thumbs up this month (thumbs sideways?) but an interesting selection of products nonetheless. I did notice that an Illamasqua pencil was doing the rounds in some of the boxes this month - I would happily swap my blush for that!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Garnier Intensive 7 Days Body Lotion

I noticed that a lot of my posts are actually about lotions, creams and moisturisers. Maybe I should change the title of this blog from Cosmetic Girl to Moisturising Madam or something. It's just an observation.... I'm not going to apologise for the profusion of moisturising products on these pages - they form an essential part of my daily routine, and they always say you should write what you know, so I'm going to do exactly that!

I recently picked up a couple of these Garnier Intensive 7 days Lotions. What appealed to me about these was that they claimed to be fast-absorbing and non-greasy, but still hydrating for dry skin. The two lotions I bought were the Softening Cocoa Butter one for dry, rough skin, and the L-Bifidus + Peach one for dry and sensitive skin.

I'm always quite sceptical about any time frame advertised in cosmetics (for example deodorants that last 72 hours  - I mean who wouldn't wash for 72 hours anyway?!), and these lotions claim that even 7 days after your last application, skin still feels moisturised. I have no idea why you would expect this to be the case or why it would be particularly desirable, and I'm not going to test if the claim is true. However, the lotions also claim to keep skin hydrated for 24 hours, and having used these I can vouch for the veracity of that claim.

I was particularly impressed with these actually - because not only do they keep your skin feeling hydrated, they really are fast-absorbing and non-greasy as they claim. I didn't think it was possible to have something non-greasy yet moistursing, I always thought that was a bit of a contradiction but these have proved me wrong. Apparently it's the rather odd sounding L-Bifidus (which to me sounds more like it should be in a yoghurt rather than a cream) which helps the skin to reinforce its natural barrier and lock moisture in.

The cocoa butter lotion has a lovely foody chocolatey scent, and has a creamier feel to it than the very refreshing peach lotion which is more of a gel.

I really like using these after a shower in the morning before work, because I can slip into my clothes straight away afterwards without them sticking to me. I think when the hotter weather approaches I'll get a lot of use out of them as well, because they're so light-weight, and the gel consistency of the peach one in particular makes if feel really soothing and refreshing to apply.

There are a number of other varieties available in this range, including some for normal skin and sensitive skin, and some yummy-sounding scents such as mango oil, honey and grape. I definitely recommend giving these a go, especially if you're one of those people who usually puts off moistruising because you don't like the heavy, sticky feeling that many lotions leave you with - these do the same job but absorb into your skin rather than your clothes! Garnier Intensive 7 Days Body Lotions are currently on offer at Boots so they're just under £2 each, which is a bit of a bargain if you ask me.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Discover Darphin

As well as the regular monthly beauty boxes, Glossybox also offer the occasional 'Flash Box', a box that introduces you to the products of a particular brand, and is available for a limited time only.

In February the Flash Box feautred the French brand Darphin. There were actually two different boxes to choose from, each dealing with a different skincare issue: one contained products from the Expert Hydration Programme, and the other products from the Sensitive Skin Expert Programme. I was tempted to get both, as dryness and sensitivity are both problems I have with my skin. But I thought getting three beauty boxes in one month (including the regular glossybox) seemed a little excessive (!) so I settled on just the sensitive skin one. And actually, I tend to steer towards trying products for dry rather than sensitive skin so I thought I'd try something different this time.

The products really appealed to me from their description alone, even before they arrived - I like the fact that they are specifically designed to deal with a particular issue; and the fact that they try to solve this problem using the power of botanics - plants and essential oils.

The box was £10 + P&P for subscribers, which I thought was really good value, as you get very generous samples of this high-end brand; I've put the full size prices next to each:

  • Intral Cleansing Milk (50ml) *£27/200ml
  • Intral Toner (50ml) *£27/200ml
  • Intral Redness Relief Soothing Serum (5ml) *£50/30ml
  • Intral Soothing Cream (15ml) *£40/50ml
As you can see, all these products are from the same Intral range, and so are designed to complement each other - I've been using all four products together. The Intral range is 'ideal for sensitive skin prone to redness and irritations' and helps to 'repair and strengthen skin's natural barrier'.

Both the cleanser and toner contain chamomile and hawthorn extracts - and both smell wonderful. The cleanser feels really soothing to use, although I didn't find it great for removing make up as I had to rub it in quite a bit, which seems to somewhat defeat the object of using something for sensitive skin! But it works great on days when I don't have lashings of eye make up etc. Followed by the toner my skin feels soothed but also really clean, which is not always a sensation I get when using cream cleansers. I've then been using a few pumps of the serum, followed by some of the soothing cream on top. The whole regime makes my skin feel really hydrated and calm, and it still feels that way the morning after.

I have really enjoyed using these products; they're very pleasant to use, which isn't always the case with products geared towards sensitive skin. I also liked the fact that they don't just prevent irritation, they positively make the skin feel less sensitive.

Although these products really suit my skin, in reality the prices of the regular sizes are a barrier to me ever buying these again, because I don't have a huge disposable income. And think of how many lipsticks you could buy for £40 instead, haha! In all seriousness though, I think the products work so well together that it won't really be worth just buying one of the items to use. Apart from the serum perhaps.

So I will savour these samples until the last drop - mourn their loss for a little while - and then move on to something else!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

March Empties

I accumulate so many cosmetics that I try to make a real effort to actually use things up. So I hope to, on a monthly basis, report on my 'empties' - and then either pat myself on the back or tell myself off accordingly! In the month of March I got through the following:

I use a lot of products without packaging so not everything I used is pictured above.

Lush Heavanilli and Fever massage bars -  Heavanilli smells like vanilla and cinder toffee - amazing! Fever is a sultry jasmine scent. I still have a couple of these in my stash - they are two of my favourite massage bars and Lush discontinued them a while ago.

Lush Vanilla Fountain, Hot Java and Winter Bath bath ballistics - I had a lot of baths in March, partly because it was freezing and partly because I was training for the Berlin Half Marathon so I had sore muscles a lot. Hot Java and Winter Bath are two great spicy soaks, Vanilla Fountain has the same scent as Heavanilli massage bar.

Lush No Name and Marathon bubble bar slices - another couple of spicy soaks. No Name came out for Christmas a few years ago (yes, I hold on to cosmetics that long - I'm a hoarder!). And I thought it only appropriate that I use a bubble bar called marathon when in training.

Lush Snow Fairy Shower Gel (500g) - this product is a bit of a love it or hate it thing: it has a very sweet candyfloss scent. I as a rule love anything sweet and pink so I do have a soft spot for this, although it's a shame that it's the least natural product that Lush makes.

Benefit BADgal Lash Mascara (4g) - I got this free with Glamour last year I think. I liked using it a lot, although I prefer Benefit's They're Real! Mascara which I've just started using. I actually have another sample size BADgal knocking about because Boots gave it away as a free gift when buying 2 Benefit products recently.

Aveeno Skin Relief (300ml) - I'm always stocking up on these when there's a 3 for 2 at Boots! This is an absolute staple, I use it daily on my legs which are prone to dry skin after a shower or bath. It works wonders and is much better than any other cream I've tried for dry, eczema-prone skin (eg. E45)

Lush 9-5 Cleanser (95g) - I got given this for free a while ago in-store. It was getting kind of old so I just needed to use it up. It's ok as a cleanser, but I wouldn't rebuy it. I much prefer Ultrabland, and actually also Starcraft cleanser which was one of Lush's January limited edition retro products.

B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful Tinted Moisturiser in Bedouin - I've been using this for a long time, and I'm gutted that it's run out! B Never don't exist any more so there's no chance of rebuying it. On the upside, there are a few BB creams that I've been wanting to try so I can justify buying them now that I've run out of my staple tinted moisturiser.

Oral B Pro Expert Toothpaste - saving the best for last - ahem! I've recently switched to this from Sensodyne as I felt Sensodyne wasn't doing much for my sensitive teeth... and this tastes much better too.

All in all I'm happy with what I've used up this month, particularly the bath bits. I think the next area of my stash I need to focus on is body creams. And scrubs. And the rest of course!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream

Recently I decided to spend some of the many Boots points that I'd collected. Part of the reason why I always end up collecting points until I have £20 or £30 worth is because I find it hard to decide what to spend them on, because there are just too many options! But this time I stumbled across something that I knew I really wanted to get.

I got a tub of Yu-Be moistuirising skin cream (70g). Established in 1957, this is one of the longest and best-selling skincare products in Japan. It was invented by a pharmacist called Yoshikiyo Nowatari, on the request of a woman who wanted something for dry, cracked skin but was tired of all the ineffective and messy petroleum-based products.

There are a couple of reasons why I went for this. Firstly, I love all things Japanese, and this is apparently Japan's No 1 - selling skincare cream so it was exciting for me to realise I could actually get this in the UK. Secondly, I have dry skin, eczema-prone skin, and have been looking for something in particular to soothe my lips in this crazy cold weather, and apparently this cream is very multi-purpose and works just as well on your face, lips, or any dry patches on your body.

The magic behind the cream is that has a high glycerin content, which helps to hydrate the skin. It has no artificial colours, fragrances or petroleum. The ingredients in the cream have the following properties:
  • Glycerin: a humectant that attracts and retains moisture in the skin
  • Vitamin E: anti-oxidant and skin protector helps aid healing and reduce scarring
  • Vitamin B2: helps to smooth rough or damaged skin
  • Camphor: helps soothe irritation
  • Vitamin C: anti-oxidant and and skin protector helps to improve elasticity in skin

So far, I have loved using this. At first I was a little bit apprehensive because it has a really strong camphor scent (think Carmex!) and it is a thick consistency and yellow in colour, reminding me of butter or fat; but in fact it is lovely to use. Firstly, the camphor scent fades in a few minutes. I actually like the smell of camphor but I was just worried about putting something that strong-smelling on sensitive skin, but it was fine. Secondly, the cream absorbs almost instantly, so there is no greasiness; but equally you can feel that there is a 'barrier' on your skin preventing dehydration. For example, when I use vaseline as a lip balm I have to reapply all the time as it wears off really quickly; but if I use this my lips feel hydrated for hours. I've been using it on my face before bed, and it really feels like it locks moisture into the skin - my skin feels soft and soothed in the morning.

I think I'm going to try the cream on some dry patches on my feet too, as they're not as soft as they used to be since I started running!

I would definitely recommend that anyone with dry skin, who hasn't found their 'holy grail' cream yet, should try this. Not only is the science behind it sound, but it also works in practice. Anyone who's been recommended something by a doctor which just hasn't worked for them, will know that science doesn't always translate into experience, so it's great that this cream actually does that. I also think it's quite good value for money because you don't need to use very much when you apply it.

Yu-Be retails at £19.50 and is available from Boots.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Lush Haul: February Retro, Valentine's & Mother's Day Products

One thing Lush does really well is make extremely covetable limited edition products... either for a special occasion or just for the fun of it! This of course means that I end up snapping things up as I know they won't be around for very long. Then, inevitably, I fall in love with something only to realise that it's no longer available. It's quite a masochistic exercise really, haha! Posts such as this will more likely than not become a regular thing. So here's the latest haul of limited edition products.

Valentine's Day
Tender Is The Night
From Dusk Til Dawn
Willow Pattern Soap (100g)

Massage bars are right up there with my favourite products that Lush make, so I was very excited to find out that there would be two limited edition ones for Valentine's Day. Massage bars are essentially solid body moisturisers - they're very rich, with a base of cocoa butter that melts upon contact with the skin. They're fantastic for dry skin as you can imagine. They also hold fragrance very well, both in the bar and on the skin. And the fact that they're naked products (I keep most of mine in reusable tins) means that there's less packaging, which is kinder on the environment (the 'plastic' pictured is of the biodegradable kind). Of course I had to get these two limited edition bars.

Tender is The Night: this has one of my favourite scent combinations of all time - vanilla and jasmine - yum! The heart-shaped bar has a liquid centre so I predict it being very messy to use. But that's a small sacrifice to make for this delicious scent. It's just a shame the thing is so small! I can't see getting more than 2 uses out of this one which is rare - usually massage bars last me absolutely ages.

From Dusk 'Til Dawn: has a slightly odd conical shape. I imagine it will be quite unwieldy to use. It looks more like a bath melt than a massage bar. It has a very zesty, uplifting scent of sweet wild orange oil and Sicilian lemon, and includes energising ginseng and guarana powders. Can't imagine anyone falling asleep after a massage with this one!

Willow Pattern Soap: This is scented with a fragrance called 'A Thousand Rose Petals'. I'm sure I've said this before, but rose is one of my favourite floral fragrance so buying this one was a bit of a no-brainer for me. The soap chunk is really pretty - but the whole ones in the shop were even more stunning, looking like a giant blue and white china plate. I prefer the creamier formula of Lush soaps like this one, so I'm sure I'll enjoy using it.

Lush also released a few other bits for Valentine's Day: The Kiss, a vegan pink lip gloss, Foxy Knot Wrap (sooo cute!) and a few gift sets, all pictured below in the Lush Times.

Mother's Day
Secret Garden Ballistic
Mumkin Bubble Bar

Secret Garden: a rather small ballistic but it smells very strong and is a vivid green so I'm sure it will scent and colour the bath very well despite its diminutive size. It's packed with flowers that will be released in the bath and smells of rose and orange. A very aromatic secret garden!

Mumkin: this thing looks absolutely adorable, did it come out of an enchanted forest perhaps? No idea what planet this creature is from but I love it nonetheless. It has a raspberry scent and I'm sure it will make a lovely pink bubble bath.

Over the past few years Lush have always brought out ballistics that look like flowers for Mother's Day, and they did the same this year. They used the same scents as their bubbleroons (rose jam, green, yuzu & cocoa) for these ballistics. They also released The Washing Up Fairy for you to clean the dishes with whilst your Mum enjoys a nice bath! There were a few little Mother's Day gift boxes. The Mother's Day range is pictured below in another page from the Lush Times.

February Limited Edition Retro
Romance in a Stone
Spank Me with Saplings

Lush have started doing a monthly limited-edition retro range, which brings back old favourites for a limited time only online. I've been using Lush a while now, but nonetheless each month it's usually a mix of things I've tried before and things I haven't. The two I items I bought this month I'd never tried before.

Romance in a Stone: a pretty little ballistic - it looks like the old favourite Tisty Tosty but in the traditional shape of a ballistic rather than heart-shaped. I love any ballistic with 'bits' in it, especially pretty flower petals, so I'm sure this will make a beautiful bath. I just think a few well-chosen 'floaty bits' in the bath really adds to the experience, even if you do end up having to pick it out of the plug hole afterwards! The ballistic fizzes away to reveal a sonnet, so you get some reading material at bathtime too.

Spank Me with Saplings: is a shower jelly, another one of many fun, unique products Lush make. It feels just like a jelly you would eat, except you rub it between your hands or into a shower puff to get a lather and wash with it. This one is quite an unusual scent combination of being both zesty and woody - it contains oakmoss and black pepper. It smells very invigorating so I'm looking forward to jumping into the shower with this.

Other products they released for retro in February were Ooh La La, a lovely French lavender and rosemary scented soap; Magic Mushroom which is a cute toadstool-shaped bubblebar that smells of strawberry and vanilla; and Strawberry Feels Forever, a strawberry scented massage bar. In a rather disorganised fashion I've completely lost track of what I actually have in my giant stash, but I definitely still have some Ooh La La and Strawberry Feels Forever from before they were discontinued, whenever that was. I really should do an inventory of my Lush collection again soon so that I actually know what I have!

A few of the products mentioned in this post are still available on the website, and some may still be in your local shop too. The Easter range of products is currently in stores as well.

Glossybox: March 2013

It's not even been a month since the last one arrived on my doorstep, but the March Glossybox already landed on Monday this week. I'm not complaining, I'd rather not wait any longer than I have to for my monthly box of surprises!

This month's theme is City Chic. The box comes with this cute little travel book, which includes mini guides for a number of international cities. I love to travel and I'm actually going to a few of the destinations in the book over the next year or so (Berlin, Vienna, Tokyo) so gladly the book won't be purely theoretical. It's scrap-book style with lots of snapshots and little scribbled facts - also space to write your own notes and a set of stickers in the center. A very well-designed, nice little extra to go with the products in my opinion. As always the box also came with a leaflet explaining the products within.

Top: My little travelling book; Bottom: Product Guide leaflet

A peek inside My little travelling book - Amsterdam!

Unsurprisingly London, my home town, is also featured in the guide; so apparently I am already in the perfect location to go for the city chic look the products have been chosen for! The products in my box are:

Couture La La Eau de Parfum by Juicy Couture (1.5ml)

On the whole I feel much more enthusiastic about this box than last month's. I'm glad there are fewer makeup products because colour is such a personal thing, it's easy to end up with something that's not very 'you'. I've not used any of these products before, which is perfect - one of the reasons I subscribed was to try new things after all.

I've never used anything by Elizabeth Arden before, but this cream is a bit of a classic. I like the fact that it is multi-functional, and can be used for dry lips, hands or the face. It is a pretty small sample but apparently a little bit goes a long way. I just hope the sample is big enough to give me a sense of whether I really like the product or not. This will probably go in my overnight bag as it's the perfect size for that (ie. tiny!)

Shockingly I've never tried any Nails Inc. polishes before! But of course I've heard good things so I was excited to try this one. St. James looks like a classic red - nothing too exciting but equally not something you can ever really go wrong with either. I tried it last night and you can see the results on the thumb nail that crept into the middle picture above!

Couture La La "blends sparkling mandarin with bold white florals". I'm not really a huge fan of perfume samples because if I want to try a fragrance I can just go to a counter, get a spritz, wear it to see how the fragrance develops and then decide whether I like it or not. I don't need a 1.5ml vial to decide if I want to buy the full size. The only time I see the value of samples is if a fragrance is not readily available to try in a shop and all you've got to go on is a written description online. I'm generally quite particular about my fragrances and I'm afraid this one from Juicy Couture just doesn't do it for me.

The Tresemme hairspray I think I'll get on with but, and I know I've said this before about Glossybox, it's hardly high-end is it?! I don't mind too much as I've always found Tresemme products really effective and do buy them from time to time, but still.

Continuing on the theme of not-exactly-high-end: The Jelly Pong Pong lip blush looks like a knock-down version of a Clinique Chubby Stick. It retails at £12 so not exactly cheap but the packaging sure feels it. I'll try not to knock it too much before I've tried it (literally not knock it for fear of breaking the packaging!); it claims to be moisturising and sheer so I think I'll probably really enjoy using it actually despite not having the best first impression of it.

Ending on a positive note: I am feeling relatively low-levels of 'glossybox-envy' this month, so I think that's definitely an indication of a good choice of products this time.

I actually purchased a Darphin flash box from Glossybox recently as well and have been using those skincare products, so a review of that is on it's way soon.

Friday, 8 March 2013

This Month's Magazine Freebies

Just a quick post to point out a couple of pretty good magazine freebies that are available this month.

The Marie Claire April issue has a free Neal's Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream (50ml) which retails at £10.

The cream blends organic honey and orange essential oil. I've not actually tried it yet but it smells sweet and zesty! Purchases of this hand cream help to support Buglife, Landlife and Pesticide Action Network UK in their work to protect bees. A pretty important campaign given how in recent years honey bee populations have been declining around the world for a variety of reasons that are still being figured out.

Marie Claire also includes a 20% discount coupon for Neal's Yard valid until 3 April 2013.

The Glamour April 2013 edition comes with one of four  Percy & Reed haircare products.

Left to right these are: Quite Frankly Flawless Finishing Polish (100ml), Smoothed, Sealed & Sensational Volumising No Oil Oil for Fine Hair (30ml), Really Rather Radiant Colour & Shine Shampoo (100ml) and Really Rather Radiant Colour & Shine Conditioner (100ml).

There are some good natural ingredients in these like grape seed oil, aloe vera gel, raspberry oil, horse chestnut extract etc, so I'm looking forward to trying the range. I can't get enough of hair oil at the moment so I'm particularly intrigued by what this no oil oil will be like. I don't have fine hair by any means, but I don't see how any oil-type hair product can be volumising so I reckon it should be ok! Glamour costs £2 so I think £8 to try all these different products from the range is pretty good; and although they're not full-size they are very generous 'samples'.

This month's Good Housekeeping Magazine comes with a free Balance Me Super Moisturising Handcream I believe, but I've not got my hands on that one!

I'm sure all these freebies will disappear off the shelves pretty quickly so if you want them, grab them while you can.

I'll post my thoughts on the products once I've had the time to try them.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Atrixo Intensive Protection Cream

I am a bit of a hand cream fiend - I always have a tube of something to hand (excuse the pun). At work I currently have Soap & Glory Hand Food at my desk; in my bag I have L'Occitane Desert Rose Hand Cream, which I'm a little bit in love with (rose is one of my favourite scents), but sadly I think it's a limited edition that they don't produce anymore. My one staple that I always re-buy is this Eucerin Intensive Treatment, which isn't strictly a hand cream but is brilliant at keeping any eczema and dryness at bay.

Particularly at this time of year when the cold weather has such an impact on your skin, I get through a lot of hand cream. I'm always interested to try different ones, so when I found myself with a discount voucher for Atrixo, I bought their Intensive Protection Cream.  They're not a brand I'd particularly paid attention to before, but it looked like a good non-nonsense hand cream which is exactly what I needed.

It contains aloe vera and forms a protective layer to protect your skin from the wind, cold and other elements found in the great outdoors!

I've actually been using this every night before bed rather than before going out in the cold, but I have been really impressed with it so far none the less. It has a really rich consistency so you don't need to use a lot - this tub will last a long time. The first time I used it I took what I thought was a pretty normal dollop of hand cream but ended up moisturising most of my lower arms with it because a little bit of this goes a very long way. The scent is nothing to write a home about, nor is the packaging, but it doesn't matter because this product does exactly what it says on the tin. It definitely helps to repair some of the damage done to your hands during the day; I've been waking up with very soft, moisturised hands.

I'd definitely recommend this for anyone who suffers from very dry hands in the winter. It retails at a very reasonable £4.59 and is available from Boots and Superdrug.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Illamasqua Nail Varnish: Prosperity & Speckle

The other week I went to the Illamasqua flagship store on Beak Street in Soho and picked up a couple of the new nail varnishes that had caught my eye online. I'm loving purple varnishes at the moment, so both  the varnishes I picked up were in this shade.

The first one is Prosperity, from their new limited edition Rubber Brights collection. The varnishes in this collection all have a matt, rubber-like finish, and come in a range of bold colours, including this purple.

I have to say, when I first applied this I wasn't massively enamoured with it. I liked the matt finish but it didn't really have as much of a rubber-like texture as I had expected. Due to the fact that I hurriedly applied it quite late on a school night, I instantly noticed how important it is to apply a polish like this with care - which I definitely hadn't. A shiny finish conceals a multitude of sins, but this matt finish is quite unforgiving, so you need to apply it as expertly as you can! Next time I'll definitely be more careful. I think I'll also apply 3 coats rather than 2 as suggested on the box, as I'd like it to be that little bit more opaque. I started to enjoy Prosperity more the longer I wore it though, so I think this one is a going to grow on me.

Speckle on the other hand was pretty much love at first sight! Part of Illamsqua's new I'mperfection collection, it is inspired by the colour and speckles of a bird's egg. It definitely lives up to the brief, even if this pastel purple hue reminds me of mini eggs a little bit more than real birds' eggs.

I love the way that the varnish almost seems to become three-dimensional as you build up the layers: you can faintly see speckles in the bottom layers in stark contrast to the ones right on top. It's a very cool effect - but as you can see it's nothing overly crazy, unlike some nail effects that are doing the rounds at the moment, so it's very wearable. I like it a lot! The picture below is three layers of application.

Lastly, I think I'll write a few words about this new I'mperfection collection. The concept behind it is that the products celebrate the imperfections that make us all unique. Although coming from a make up company you have to take this with a massive pinch of salt, I think I still quite like the sentiment behind it. And really, there are two ways you can use make up: to make yourself blend in, to 'normalise' yourself in the way that society expects - or you can use it to enhance and celebrate your individuality. And generally I think Illamasqua caters to the latter of those two categories really well.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Anatomicals: You Need A Blooming Shower! Body Cleanser

This is another product received in February's Glossybox. My first impressions were good: I was impressed by the bold colour and typeface on the packaging, and rose is one of my favourite scents.

The gel is a pretty translucent pink colour, and is of a medium consistency. It has a pretty straight-up scent of sweet rose. Apparently there's some jasmine in there too but my nose couldn't detect it.

In the shower unfortunately it felt pretty unluxurious - the gel-like consistency made it feel like quite a cheap shower gel, despite the 'body cleanser' name giving the impression that it might be something more interesting. I actually found it quite drying -  after one quick shower with this my hands were turning prune-like as if I'd been in a hot bath for too long. I also found the scent quite overpowering. I'm very used to strong scents so I'm not sure why I got a slight headache using this! Luckily the scent fades to a gentle rose on the skin once out of the shower.

When using this shower gel I just ended up wishing that I was using Weleda's Wild Rose Body Wash instead which is a million times better, in a complete different league. In a way I don't really 'get' mid-range shower gels like this Anatomicals one - which retails at £2.99 for 300ml. In terms of value for money I think you're better off either getting a super cheap shower gel (like Original Source which you can often pick up for around £1), or a high-end one like Weleda. A £2.99 shower gel is rarely 3 times better than a 99p one, so not really worth a purchase in my opinion!

I'm somewhat disappointed that glossybox included this product. It's hardly high end. The rose shower gel by Weleda, or say Korres would have been more appropriate. 

I won't be buying this product again, and it's more likely to end up cleaning my sink than my body!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Archie's Girls - MAC

So on Friday, after visiting the Rain Room and having a little lunch at KERB, I ended up going into town. I went with two distinct aims: to buy a water resistant running jacket in advance of my doing the Berlin half marathon in April (I failed on this mission) and to buy a baby present for my friend who's just had a baby boy (I succeeded in this). Somewhere between these two events I ended up being 'distracted' and buying some things I didn't really need for myself. Oops!

As I wandered down Oxford Street I approached Selfridges, and of course I had to go in to have a look at MAC's Archie's Girls collection, which is exclusive to Selfridges until 19th February.

The MAC counter was abuzz with people, seriously busy. Luckily they had all the Archie's Girls products on a display at the front so I didn't have to enter the throng completely. I spent a few minutes there until my hand looked like some sort of chameleon zebra due to all the swatches. I naturally gravitated towards the dark, seductive tones of the Veronica items over the cute girl-next-door Betty ones.

I picked up Daddy's Little Girl Lipstick and the Strawberry Malt Lipglass (I got the very last one - my lucky day!)

The packaging is really cute, inspired by the comic-book style, and very different to MAC's usual look. But I like it a lot!

The lipglass is a pretty classic red, which I think will be very wearable and hard to go wrong with. I really love the colour of the lipstick - it actually swatches a lot pinker than it's rather purple appearance would suggest.

I tried the lipglass this afternoon: I used quite a restrained amount as I was only going to the cinema and didn't want to look too done up. It applies really easily and the colour is lovely - and it will work both as a touch of colour as I did this afternoon or as a more bold look with greater application, so it's pretty versatile. It has good lasting power and isn't so sticky that your hair is constantly getting stuck to it! I'm a real fan of it. I'd only tried the Lustreglass from MAC before but this is more wearable on an everyday basis.

When the Archie's Girls collection is finally released I imagine it'll be popular - so get in there quick! I have the 'misfortune' of walking past a department store with a MAC counter twice a day on my commute to and from work and I can see myself being seduced by another lipglass or two.

During my shopping trip I was also 'distracted' by some Illamasqua nail polishes. Review to come soon!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

purity made simple by philosophy

Ok, so I said that one of the things I hoped that writing this blog would encourage me to do, is try products that I own but for whatever reason haven't gotten around to trying yet.

First up in this category is a sample of purity 3-in-1 cleanser for face and eyes by philosophy. I think I received this when I ordered some of the seasonal shower gels in last year's January sales. This week I finally tore it open, and have been using it as my evening cleanser every day. It's quite a generous sample (ie. you get more than one or two uses out of it), which I think is important when it comes to skincare (and haircare for that matter) because you can't really make a fair judgement if you've only used a product once.

Philosophy describe the cleanser as such:

Our award-winning daily facial skin cleanser is formulated to gently cleanse, tone and melt away all face and eye makeup in one simple step, while lightly hydrating the skin. 

  • deep cleans pores and eliminated makeup build-up
  • natural oil extracts help condition the skin
  • fragrance-free formula

I really like the consistency: it's not too thick , neither too runny (I know I sound like Goldilocks here), so it's easy to get the right amount you want and distribute it evenly around your face as you're cleansing. As suggested on the packet I have been massaging it in for a little while rather than just quickly slapping it on and taking it off. The texture is quite creamy and it feels moisturising. It's very easy to remove with a few splashes of warm water, which isn't always the case with oil-based cleansers. It also removes make up quite effectively and doesn't sting the eyes when you're trying to get your mascara off.

However, it wasn't quite moisturising enough for me. The first time I used it, almost as soon as I had towel-dried my face I was running to the bedroom to find my Steamcream as my skin felt really tight. It's strange, because when you're massaging it in it does feel moisturising, but that feeling doesn't linger once you've washed it off. Now that I've used it a few times, my skin feels slightly less tight every time, but it just doesn't compare to my regular cleanser, Ultrabland, which is so moisturising I could probably get away with not even using a cream afterwards. The only area where purity comes out on top is the ease with which you can remove all traces of the cleanser really easily with water.

Looking at the ingredients in the cleanser I'm not too surprised that it's not ideal for my dry, sensitive skin, as there are some quite 'powerful' ingredients in there, like cinnamon leaf oil and black pepper oil.

For now, philosphy will remain all about the shower gels for me. Although I think I would be interested to try another product in the purity line - the mineral oil-free cleansing oil for face and eyes, which sounds like it could be more up my street. So maybe the next time I place an order I'll try and get a sample of that!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Helen É Long Lasting Lip Colour

I'd never heard of Helen É before, although the brand has been around since 1999, and are apparently the official make up of Miss England. Clearly I don't watch enough beauty pageants.

Things I  really liked:

  • It's fragrance free. I never really understand why lipsticks are fragranced - it's pointless and it's just another thing that's going to dry your skin out
  • It is pretty moisturising
  • The brand have a strict no animal testing policy

Things I quite liked:
  • The texture is nice and glides on easily

Things I thought were a bit 'meh':
  • The colour: brownish-red. Not something I would normally chose but as a brunette I think it just about works
  • The packaging is not the most inspired or exciting

Things I didn't like:
  • The colour coverage started to look uneven really quickly (within a couple of hours) despite the fact that I wasn't eating/drinking/smoking (the picture below was taken as soon as I applied it). I think to get the best results you would probably have to use a lip primer and/or lip liner on your lips before application. For me that is just way too much hassle - when it comes to make up it has to be easy or I just won't bother!

You can probably tell by the slightly bemused expression dancing across my lips that I'm not particularly enthusiastic about this lipstick, despite the fact that there were a few things I did like about it. But I think if a different colour had appeared in my Glossybox I would have enjoyed using it a lot more.

Helen É Long Lasting Lip Colour in Sienna RRP £8.00

Monday, 11 February 2013

Glossybox: February 2013

I recently treated myself to a subscription to Glossybox. I just love the idea of getting a surprise box of goodies every month; and thought it would be a great way to try new products. I think £10 plus P&P per month is pretty reasonable. I mean, I used to regularly have Graze boxes delivered to work, and they cost nearly £4 each - and all you get is a selection of snacks that probably last five minutes! From that point of view, I think Glossybox is definitely value for money.

The box was lying on my desk waiting for me when I got into work this morning. What a great way to start a cold, grey Monday! Even the exterior packaging is very nicely designed - and once you open that you get to the pink Valentine's themed box inside, which is lovely: definitely one I'll keep and store things in. The box comes with a leaflet (pictured below), which tells you a little bit about the products and what their full size equivalents cost.

The products inside the box are:

You Need A Blooming Shower! by Anatomicals (150ml)
Moisturising Lipstick in Sienna by Helen É 
Eyeshadow Duo: Eyeshadow Palette in Bronzed Goddess by Modelco
A heart-shaped lollipop - CUTE!
Mineral Blush Powder in Terra Cotta by Micabella Cosmetics
Raspberry Soft Cream by Docteur Renaud (30ml)

I'm particularly looking forward to trying the Anatomicals body cleanser - it smells of rose and jasmine apparently, which are two of my favorite floral scents. 

I'm also excited to try the Docteur Renaud cream. It sounds quite unusual, and I'm not entirely sure what to expect. It's supposed to be good for dry skin, and for sensitive skin as it 'steers clear of harsh chemicals and additives'. My skin is both dry and sensitive, so I'm glad that Glossybox sent me a product that actually fits the 'beauty profile' they ask you to fill out on the website. The cream is a generous 30ml size - a full size of 50ml retails at £25.

I'm also intrigued by the Helen É lipstick - although not a shade I would usually be attracted to I'm interested to see whether it really is as moisturising as it claims.

I think that the product selection this month is a good mix. In terms of the makeup, if I'd had a choice I would have gone for different colours - but the products themselves are pretty high quality so I don't mind too much. Also, one of the joys of getting a box like this is that you get to experiment with things that are outside your regular routine.

I'll post mini-reviews of some of the products once I've tried them.


I've decided to start this blog because I have more cosmetics than any girl could possibly need. 

My main vice is anything that smells good - so a lot of Lush and Enchanted. I've also developed a passion for nail polishes. Pretty colours! I'm basically a bit of a magpie - slightly madly and erratically collecting and accumulating these items. In my case, desire eclipsed need a long, long time ago.

I'm not entirely sure what the content of this blog is going to be. I'm going to try not to fill it with a load of photos of my collection, tempting as that might be. Instead, perhaps some reviews of new products and old favourites, and quite possibly some updates on the never-ending battle that is trying to bring my 'stash' under control. In a way, I hope writing this blog may encourage me to rediscover (or discover for the first time!) some of those products currently lying at the back of a drawer somewhere, forgotten about or neglected.

I recently subscribed to Glossybox, the first of which arrived today, so I will write my first proper post on that soon.