Monday, 28 April 2014

No More Nail Smudges

Nail Shields - £1.99

I own far too many nail varnishes but shockingly hardly ever have my nails painted. The reason Because every time I paint them, without fail, I smudge one. It's possibly the most frustrating thing in the world, and I envy anyone who can do it effortlessly. Whilst waiting many an hour on Youtube, I came across Bunny from Grav3yardgirl talk about Nails On The Go, and was amazed that they actually worked! However, my bubble was soon burst when I discovered this is a USA-only product. Never one to give up, I started to search Amazon with random key words, hoping to try find a version. And what do you know, my nail prayers were answered.

For £1.99 (I love free P&P), you get 10 nail clips. Possibly the cheapest holy grail in history. The packaging is extremely misleading. It doesn't contain hair products, so no need to panic over a wrong order. Like I did. Forget about the packaging. It's what's on the inside that matters. If you haven't fathomed what these contraptions are yet, they are your new best friend. You simply paint your nails as normal and clip them onto you finger, with the shield protecting you nail. You can now use your hands while your painting your nails. When you want to apply another coat, simply flip the shield up (with it still attached to your finger) and paint away. Just think of the extra time you have now you can use your hands. I will admit I did feel like I was 6 again and dressing up as a witch with those plastic Halloween fingers, but if they work, and they definitely do, who cares?! They didn't pinch and weren't uncomfortable, and made waiting for my nails to dry possible. Something I never thought I'd say. They're basically bubbles for your nails. 

Now that I've let you all into my new secret weapon, are you going to invest?
Let me know how you speed up nail drying time, that's my next mission.


Monday, 21 April 2014

Boscia Konjac Cleansing Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal

Boscia Sponge - $18

Lately my combination skin has been a bit oily and blemish prone so I've tried to look at my skincare regime and alter it. One product I've looked at countless times, only to back out at the last minute are Konjac sponge's. In an attempt to keep my blemishes at bay I decided to this Boscia one from Sephora.

Made from 100% Asian Konjac Root and infused with Black Bamboo Charcoal, the sponge aims to both cleanse and exfoliate, so gentle it is suitable even if you have super sensitive skin! Charcoal is having a bit of a moment in the beauty industry, and is said to help fight acne and even absorb thousands of times it's own mass many harmful substances. Stating that regular use can help draw out impurities and remove blemish-causing bacteria, this seemed like it was the answer to my prayers, and I have to admit, it has made a difference.

In order to use the sponge, you simple rinse it in warm water before applying your chosen cleanser and using it to massage your skin in a circular motion, before rinsing cleaning and hanging it to dry before the next use. Replacing my muslin cloths, I've notice a massive difference in my pore size and the frequency of blemishes. Although I've had one or two blemishes, these have been minute, and I think might be down to just been a little under the weather. My skin has gradually gotten it's glow back, and I definitely feel comfortable in going days with minimal, if any, base makeup on.

I am absolutely obsessed with this, and will definitely be replacing mine in 2-3 months. If you're not planning on making a big Sephora order and don't want to face the shipping charge, Cult Beauty are selling one here, along with other Konjac sponges infused with different things to focus on specific concerns, although I'm not sure if they are from Boscia.

Have you tried a Konjac sponge? What do you think?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Confidence vs. Cocky


I don't think there has ever been a better time in my life than right now to discuss the very narrow, and often blurred, line between being confident and being arrogant. Being English, I've been brought up to believe that you shouldn't talk about you're positive attributes and achievements, and to do so can be rude and arrogant. However, in the last year I've come to realise that this has been a hindrance to my life.

If you follow me on twitter, you'll know that I've been going for quite a lot of job interviews lately. Some of these interviews have been group ones, with team tasks, and some just a normal panel interview. Last year I noticed that my friends who were from a different country were progressing a lot faster and more successfully than I, despite me having higher academic grades. The only difference I noticed was that they were so much forward with their confidence in their ability than me.

It made sense that an employer would want someone who will attempt challenging work rather than someone who doubts there ability at every level. After all, if you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will. Employers only get to base there opinion of you over a short period of time, therefore all they have to go on is what you do and say. If you say nothing, but are silent confident, that confidence may go unnoticed.

For the last year and a half I've put my theory to the test and the results have been pretty much unanimous. Since I've visibly believed in myself (opposed to just thinking it), the number of opportunities I've had in all aspects of my life is incredible. I am now doing my dream job, excelling at university and infinitely happier in myself. All because I turned my back on that traditional value of being confident. 

I will admit that there is a line between confident and cocky and is hopefully one I've never crossed. There's having conviction in your ability and then there's having an inflated view of yourself. However, the negative attitude surrounding someone who is positive about their characteristics and achievements confuses me. If you've worked hard and developed skills and qualifications making you suitable for a role, why are you hiding it like it's something to be ashamed of? Surely you should be shouting it from the rooftops and be proud, not embarrassed?

It's a controversial one, but I for one am glad I turned my back on that traditional value, I'm certainly a lot more positive about everything now. Like I said, without believing in my ability I wouldn't have been as driven at interviews. Funnily enough, my employer stated that it was my drive that made me stand out and got me the job. Aside from that, having confidence has made me happier in general. I'll try new things not worrying about making mistakes, but if I do, I'll shrug off then off and learn from them. I belief that I am good enough. If most people want to believe this, why do people have a negative attitude to those who do?

What do you think?

Monday, 14 April 2014

Koren Zander Pro Brush Soap in Lemon

Brush Soap - £8.50

One thing that all makeup addicts agree on is the effort needed to clean your brushes. I'm all for looking after my brushes but cleaning them does seem to be a bit of chore, even if it's only once a fortnight. Anything that can make it a little easier and quicker whilst still conditioning my brushes is going to be a winner for me. As for whether this soap ticks all those boxes? It depends on what make up products you use.

Contained in a little plastic case, the brush soap has two sides, a smooth side with a motif on, and a rough side. As the simple instructions on the lid state, you simply wet your brush, swipe it over the smooth side to apply some soap, and use the rough side to get rid of any product build-up. It's available in a variety of scents, or unscented if you prefer. I can only vouch for the lemon one, but whilst the scent is noticeable, it isn't overpowering. The scent lingers on your brushes ever so slightly once dry, but this didn't irritate my skin at all.

In practice though I found the soap didn't quite cut it for all my brushes. Whilst it was easy to use and great to store, it didn't remove all products. It worked amazing on those brushes with build up from powder based products, but struggled to remove all  of the residue from my liquid based ones. In particular, my liquid foundation (Rimmel Wake Me Up) proved to be too much for it regardless of how many times I swiped and used the rough side. I'm actually pretty gutted. This product is definitely value for money, and if you use a powder based foundation, this could make cleaning your brushes cheaper and quicker. For me, as my base is usually liquid based, it's a bit of a hassle using two different brush soaps for different brushes. 

How do you clean your brushes?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Sephora + Pantone Universe: Radiant Rush Matte Lipstick

Lipstick - $18

When placing another Sephora order earlier this month, the first thing I wanted to get hold of was the lipstick from the Sephora and Pantone Collaboration. Ever since Radiant Orchid was announced as the Pantone Colour of the Year 2014, I began searching for products that fit the bill. Although I tried and found some great alternatives, I found myself still eyeing up the Sephora version. And with good reason. 

This is the best packaging I've seen this year. My favorite colour is pink so it was always going to be a winner, but even so, the ombre is beautiful. From it's outer-packing you can just tell it's going to be special and it simply screams to be displayed. The shade itself is a beautiful pink/purple hybrid with blue under tones. I say a hybrid because it's neither one or the other; ask more than one person and you're going to get a variety of answers. Pink usually doesn't flatter me, but this does and I've received a lot of complements on my lip colour when wearing it. It's bright as the swatch suggests, but not so vibrant that only the most confident can pull it off. In fact, it has that magical ability, as lipsticks generally have, of giving you more confidence when you wear it. A bit confusingly this is actually a satin finish lipstick, despite the name indicating that it is a matte. The formula is creamy and applies effortlessly. It did take two swipes to get a vivid colour on me, but that may be as my lips are quite darkly pigmented. It does tend to cling slightly to dry patches so exfoliation and an application of balm beforehand is advised. However, once on, it is virtually undetectable and doesn't dry out your lips at all.  It has a lasting power of 4-5 hours before it needs touching up, but leaves a lovely stain if you haven't got the time. From the packaging to the formula, I'm in love and keen to try more Sephora lipsticks! This may prove to be once of my most used lipsticks this summer.

I have another post coming up all about the cheek palette from this collection too, so look out for that!


Monday, 7 April 2014

Diptyque Beauty

Shampoo (*)
Body Lotion (*)

Not content with producing some of the most coveted candles around, French brand Diptyque have set their sights on conquering the beauty world too. Combining their ability to create luxury fragrances for your room, the transition was only ever going to be a success.

Weirdly, the only link I can find to the shampoo is a version made for their hotelier collection, and doesn't seem to be available to buy at Space N.K. or John Lewis. Nevertheless, it still might give you an indication to the standard of their line. Suitable for all hair types, the shampoo has a fresh scent which is faintly citrusy and extremely light. A little goes a long way and the lather is great. Other than my hair being very soft, the results were pretty much the same as any shampoo from the high street. Nothing to rave about, so no tears over it's availability.

However, something I would recommend have a look out for is the Fresh Lotion. I'm really making a determined effort to use body lotion or body butter every day and this has made it very very easy. Incorporating sunflower, avocado and macadamia nut oil as well as shea butter, the lotion provides maximum hydration with an orange blossom fragrance. A little pricey but definitely worth it. Never before have I received so many complements about a fragrance, and especially when that fragrance is in fact my body butter and not a perfume. Once a tiny bit of lotion is applied, it sinks in so fast, and yet the scent lasts all day.

After trying out these two products, I think the safest items from their line would be their lotions where the brand excel in giving their products the same high quality scents as their candles and perfumes. 

Have you tried Diptyque before? Are you tempted to pick something up?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

St. Tropez Luxe Dry Oil

Luxe Dry Oil (*) - £25

As a St. Tropez Beauty Panelist, I am lucky enough to get to try the latest tanning products. Said to be their most luxurious tan yet, the Luxe Dry Oil combines intense hydration and a luminous glow. Inspired by Brazil, this definitely lived up to all of the tan's claims.

Always swayed by packaging, this product is definitely appeals to me. The gold top and the frosted glass bottle feel extremely glamorous and decadent, which will never be a bad thing. Another thing that makes this product feel more luxurious and actually shocked me was the scent. I really like it. The oil is fragranced with essential oils and this has definitely made this tan the best smelling tan I have ever smelt. I think this even smells better than some body products I've used, quite fruity. Biscuit smell be-gone.

There's a small plug in the top which you have to remove whilst using and replace after you've finished, similar to some oil cleansers I've tried. I applied the dry oil using a mitt, and did find getting a good amount of product out a little tricky, but this isn't always a bad thing, you won't have any accidental spillages. The best way I found was slow and quite forceful shaking up and down. You do need to be quite careful though as it is an oil, and can run off your mitt. Saying all this, once I'd got familiar with it, it was so easy to use.

The dry oil itself rubs in effortlessly and is exactly like a normal body oil. It's streak-free, non-greasy and St. Tropez recommends waiting until it's touch dry, which was around 3 minutes for me.  Not long at all! One thing that has really stood out for me is how moisturizing it is. A lot of tans, particular cheaper ones, leave your skin dry and cling to any areas that are dehydrated. If your an experienced self-tanner you will know that moisturizing is a key step in both prep and tan aftercare in order to prolong your efforts. Not only did the dry oil not cling to any area of my dry skin, but it also felt silky smooth and soft. My legs has the most amazing sheen and really did have a glow.

Using 100% natural Tanning agent the tan is suitable for any skin tone and you don't need a lot of product for one application. I would recommend doing a couple of coats over a period of time because it's quiet deceiving. I didn't think it gave me much of a glow when I was applying it, but after 4 hours, I was pleasantly surprised at how sun kissed I'd become. It's not advertised as a gradual or slow-developing tan, but it definitely deepened for me. The picture above shows an intentional comparison for an idea on what one coat looks like.. I'm relatively fair (NW13) and I found this to be the perfect match for a natural golden look. If you are aftr something a bit deeper, maybe pair the dry oil with the Gradual Tan Mousse or give yourself enough time to do a couple of layers of the dry oil. 

As for the long lasting claim, it will depend on your after-care. I'm so-so when it comes to moisturizing and my tan has lasted me 5-6 days. For one coat and sporadic moisturizing that's amazing. Ironically the reason I didn't moisturize as much is because of how moisturizing the tan is! I'm sure if you did stick to a daily moisturizing regime your tan would easily last over a week, ideal for holidays and mini breaks! 

I think the conclusion on this product is pretty much self-explanatory. I absolutely loved it. If you want a golden goddess look (and who doesn't) that will last your holiday, but without any tell tale signs that you've been using fake-tan, this is the one to go for. What's different from other tans is that this genuinely gives you a glow opposed to just a bit of tan. I've never used a tanning dry oil, but the sheen this gave me really made my skin look silky smooth and flawless. Whilst a little pricey, you use so little oil per application, and one application lasts so long, its great value for money.  

Have you used a tanning dry oil before?

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

MAC Peachykeen Blush

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Peachykeen - £18

Although I am a bit of a MAC addict, I haven't actually tried one of their blush offerings until now. Being fond of a peach or coral cheek, I opted for this, the sheertone Peachykeen. Described as a baby peach, its the perfect Spring/Summer blush.

As you can see in the swatch, there is a slight golden shimmer to it but not as much as NARS Orgasm, and certainly wont make you look like a glitter ball. Pigmentation wise, it must be remembered that this is a sheertone blush and if you want a more visible look, you'll need to build it up. On the pro side, this means its great for those of you new to blush or have to apply make up in a hurry as it would take a great deal of layering for the clown look to be achieved. Because of its neutral undertones this would suit every skin tone, but I would especially recommend it to those of you with a fairer complexion to give a natural healthy flush. The wear time is pretty good, around the 5-6 hour mark making it great for summer days in the park. This has definitely become a staple in my makeup collection and is great for a natural pop of colour.

Have you tried any MAC blushs? Any recommendations?
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