Beauty: Pampering with Lush

Confession time: I’ve never really liked Lush. I don’t particularly like the bath bombs (without fail all the ones I have tried have left me with sore skin), and the smell really, really puts me off. I can’t stand the smell of the bathroom after one has been used, let alone a full shop of them. I’ve used a couple of products in the past; Volcano foot mask (effective, but messy); King of Skin (probably my favourite, but hard to use – I would repurchase this if I could brave the store again!); and some form of solid cleansing bar that I can’t find on the site (caused spots galore). You get the impression, I’m just not a Lush kinda gal! Even so I couldn’t help get excited when my boyfriend came home from work with a bag crammed full of goodies. Here’s my mini-reviews of what I received.

 photo 2014-07-08103846_zps74c21797.jpgDisclaimer: These products were given to my boyfriend free of charge by our local Lush store, something to do with the neighbouring shops helping each other out. They were unaware of my blog, and all opinions are my own. I haven’t marked this with a * as it isn’t really a blog ‘freebie’ as such!

 photo 2014-06-28212331_zps1e8baf15.jpg photo 2014-06-28212650_zps7b2898dd.jpgCupcake is a chocolatey face mask, and was the product I was most excited about. The day of receiving this I happily slapped it on my (normal-dry) skin, and persuaded my boyfriend (combination skin) to try it too. Not sure if it was a coincidence, but my trip to see Coldplay at the Royal Albert Hall had me fashioning a side-fringe to hide the growing mountain on the side of my forehead. It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t come alone. Yep, pretty sure this mask broke both of us out. My love for Lush certainly wasn’t growing at this point…

Things started to look up with the Brightside Bubble Bar. I love all things citrus but rarely get to indulge seeing as my sister has a severe allergy. This zingy bar produces loads of bubbles and bright orange water, smells delicious and leaves my skin soft. It does feel odd to soak in orange water so I do shower down afterwards – but this did win me over.

 photo 2014-07-08103827_zps6f7b2e86.jpgOnto another facemask; Oatifix has actually really impressed me. The smell isn’t pleasant, but it isn’t the typical overpowering Lush smell so I can cope. Yes it looks like you have spread sick around your face, and it does make a bit of a mess, but for me the results are worth it – this leaves my skin soft, hydrated and glowing. And, wait for it, it doesn’t break me out! I’d actually buy this again, if I could work out how on earth you could use it all before the best before date. I was unable to, and I only had a teeny tester pot…

Now soap. I love bar soap, I’ve even confessed to use one as my cleanser of choice. I was intrigued by Noriko soap, particularly as I can only find this one the US site. Having said that, mine looks nothing like what is featured there, so I wonder what I’ve actually got! I actually adore the smell as its subtle, fresh and just rather nice. It’s also a pretty moisturising soap too – I’ve taken to using it instead of a shower gel as it also has a teeny amount of scrubby bits. Bonus, it looks great on the bathroom side too!

 photo IMAG2306_zps1496a0b4.jpgI’ve still got a couple of products to try; Mask of Magnaminty (the one I have is self-preserving, something I’m quite intrigued by as one of my problems with Lush is the short shelf life) and Hair Doctor. I can’t say I’m particularly willing to try Hair Doctor due to reports of it stripping colour out – I’m pretty picky about my hair colour, and having had my preferred and back up colours both discontinued I’d sooner not dye my hair unless absolutely necessary!

I have to admit, some of these products have changed my mind slightly about Lush. I still won’t be tempted to venture into a shop, but I’d consider an online order if I needed a gift for someone and a few treats for myself.

What are your favourite Lush products?

Beauty: Holiday Makeup

 photo 2014-06-16124732_zpsfb9ccb4f.jpgBeing in a long-distance relationship means I have packing down to a fine art. I can (and do!) pack in a rush, using one small suitcase for everything, with just uni work crammed into a satchel. I do admit that in the past few months I’ve become lazy with this packing, and now have a drawer at my boyfriends full of essential bits and pieces – but that’s another post!  Having booked a short break in Edinburgh after my exams finished, I knew that I didn’t want to take too much with me beauty wise as clothes would take up a lot of room – packing for Scotland is so difficult as you have to prepare for all weathers. As it turned out, it was lovely to be part of the heatwave last week, though slightly annoying that the jumpers/jeans/coat I packed never left the case!

So, my makeup bag was pretty restricted, but I reckon I did pretty well – I used everything I took with me, and didn’t really find myself lacking anything. Apart from aftersun for the horrific sunburn we both received…

 photo 2014-06-16123430_zps974ab0d7.jpgOne of the best things I’ve bought has to be this bag of miniature bottles from Wilkinson’s. By far the cheapest I have found, and really good quality too. The only thing I was slightly disappointed was all three bottles have the same type of dispenser, which wasn’t the best for liquids such as toner. But still, excellent value! I can’t find the link online, but there’s loads still available in my local store at a reduced price of £1.

 photo 2014-06-16123512_zps1220cca0.jpgFor hair products (I made my boyfriend pack a suitable shower gel for the both of us – he bought the tooth paste too!) I decanted my favourite shampoo/conditioner duo into the smaller bottles. ASDA’s Jojoba range is something I have used for many years, and at 80p for big bottles its by far the best cheap haircare I’ve come across. The shampoo is slightly too drying (I prefer something without sulphates…but generally only just after my student loan has been paid!) so I tend to mix it into some conditioner for washing, and then condition as normal. Styling wise I filled one of the little tubs in the set with some Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Cream – something which I’ve mixed views about. Sometimes I love it, sometimes its far too sticky. But you only need a tiny amount, and this tub has been on the go for over a year so its worth trying!

 photo 2014-06-16123612_zps8752f30d.jpgSkincare wise, I obviously took a cloth and my beloved Dr Organics Pomegranate Soap – I never go anywhere without it! I used more mini bottles and took some Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (highly recommend this for removing eye/lip makeup, though I don’t use it on the whole of my face) and Pixi Glow Tonic (love this stuff!). Since this post I’ve simplified my moisturisers, so took Garnier’s Ultra-Hydrating Cream in a little post to use as a night cream, and their Illuminating Light Lotion for use during the day. I can’t recommend these products enough, the lotion is the best facial SPF I’ve used, and the cream is so moisturising. Just for a head’s up – they are generally cheapest in Wilkinsons! I’ve also been using Nuxe Reve de Miel every night – its the perfect lip balm, my lips have never looks so good!

 photo 93fe0700-9627-47a4-bfb0-9ace1e8b3cbc_zps19cb73aa.jpgNow onto the exciting bit – makeup! I’ve grabbed the Everyday Makeup Essentials that I’ve already talked about, and then added in a few little extras. Bourjois Java Rice Powder to add even more of a glow – this was great dusted over sunburn as it really calmed the glare of red! One of MUA’s neutral palettes (this is one that lives at my boyfriends!) to add definition to my eyes for romantic meals – I can’t say I’m in love with the quality of these palettes, given the £4 price tag its fine for holidays but realistically it’s going to be nowhere near as good as higher ends, and it does irritate my eyes a little! I bought an eyeshadow brush for 50p from Wilkinson’s to take with my as I find my beloved Bodyshop versions don’t travel so well (I didn’t want to take my whole brush roll with me!) and for the price it did a great job.

 photo 2014-06-16154940_zps3aa45519.jpgOnto lips (my favourite part!) and I took 4 bits with me – two Revlon Matte Balms in Sultry and Standout, and two MUA Power Pout’s in Rendezvous and Broken Hearted. Both of these products are so, so lovely. The Matte Balms are going to get some serious wear when I start work as they look so professional (being matte) but also last forever. I love the glossy finish of the MUA offerings and they leave a lasting stain too. Rendezvous is a seriously underused colour – admittedly it looks disgusting but ends up being a lovely pink/coral toned neutral on the lips. Its what I reach for when I’m not quite sure what to wear, and I’m tempted to buy one for every handbag as it does go with every outfit!
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And that’s it! What makeup do you take on holiday?

Skincare: Dr Organic Pomegranate Soap

 photo 233_zpscd0bdaf0.jpgI know this post might be a little controversial in terms of skincare, as I know a lot of people avoid soaps as they ‘dry out the skin’ – however I’m of the opinion that if something works, don’t try and fix it! And that is why I’ve been washing my face with Dr Organic Pomegranate Soap for a few years now.

I first bought this soap to use on my arms to deal with my Keratosis Pilaris (which is particularly bad on my upper arms and legs at the moment – I must make an effort to use this more regularly as it does help!) and ended up using it on my face one night. I woke up without the few little spots that always appeared overnight, so I’ve used this ever since. I simply wet my face, get some lather on my hands and massage it in, then rinse off with a flannel.

 photo 2014-05-02193956_zps8844da6a.jpgI don’t find this drying, although I do follow up with an exfoliating toner and moisturiser. I find it is the only thing that really helps my skin stay clear. I can definitely tell if I don’t use it for a few days, so I make a conscious effort to ensure its always in my overnight bag! I went through a stage of not using it (when I was following the regime I blogged about here) and that was definitely a period where my skin was at its worst!

I’m not saying this will work for everybody, but its a great little soap (minus the seeds – they are painfully scratchy!) and it works for me. And the best part? At 2.99 (Holland & Barrett) its already dirt-cheap, but a bar will last me at least 9 months. This is definitely good skin on a budget!

What’s your favourite facial cleanser?

Review: Maybelline Super Stay Better Skin Foundation

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I was sent this foundation to review in early December, on the condition that I wore it every day for at least three weeks before reviewing. Admittedly I’ve left it a lot longer than three weeks, but that was because I was kind of on the fence about this product!

Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Foundation is being marketed as a multi-tasking foundation, providing instant, flawless coverage for up to 13 hours. It claims to be long wearing and skin improving, and has impressive (especially for the price of £8.99) ingredients including Magnesium, Copper, Zinc and provitamin B5. I think the most intriguing addition is glycerin, an ingredient which should help to keep skin moisturised.  If the ingredients weren’t impressive enough, this foundation comes with some pretty big claims – “reducing the appearance of the visible effects of stress including bumps, dullness and redness, add brightness and give the skin a long lasting glow.”

Do I agree with all these claims? Well I have to admit that after using this foundation for around 5 weeks (the last fortnight it has not been applied every day) my skin is in very good condition, quite possibly the best it has been in a long, long time. The majority of the red patches on my cheeks have faded, everywhere feels plump, I’m definitely less spotty, and my pores seem slightly reduced. That’s not to say my skin looks great though, simply better than before!

One thing I will add though is that after a week of wearing this everyday I seemed to go through a purging stage, with a couple of really nasty spots appearing on my forehead. I can’t say I loved that reaction to the foundation, but it was over pretty quickly! Other downsides include a glass bottle (I’m clumsy so this worries me!), but I forgive Maybelline totally as it has a pump.

Now, the actual look of the foundation. I received the shade ‘Warm Beige’ which actually is very pale (although still a little dark for me) but perfect in terms of undertone. I’m neither pink nor yellow, so this suits me well. The one review currently on Boots suggests that Ivory is the palest shade, and is very dark, so I would suggest trying Warm Beige (which is a ridiculous name for a pale shade…) if you are struggling. Though obviously the best option is to go into store and actually swatch for yourself!

In terms of its finish, when applied well (and that is key here) I love the foundation. Its like my skin, but perfectly. I’d say it offers medium-to-full coverage, with a natural ‘real skin’ finish. A little bit glowy, but not shiny, definitely not matte though! I really do like the finish, it covers redness and blemishes seamlessly, and feels comfortable on the skin. It also seems to last rather well (though not 13 hours!) without primer or powder, which is a massive bonus.

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But here is the problem – I hate applying it. Its quite a thick foundation, so you have to be quick blending it. Or it won’t blend at all. I’ve tried blending with fingers, but that really didn’t work for me. Foundation brush is better, but still difficult. I find that making sure I have properly exfoliated and moisturised is a definite help, but this will show up any dry patches. The most guaranteed good application I have found it mixing with a spot of moisturiser, but this kind-of defeats the point of a high-coverage foundation! I’m considering ordered a buffing brush (something similar to Real Techniques) to see if that helps, but at the moment I’m concentrating on ridding my skin of dry patches first!

So, would I say I like this foundation? Definitely. As long as it applies nicely (which to be fair it does probably 80% of the time) it looks great and lasts all day.

Would I say this is my Holy Grail foundation? No, the application issues make me feel I could find better.

Would I repurchase? Possibly, depending on which other pale foundations I discover.

Would I recommend? Yes, but not for dry skin. Its also the best budget foundation I have tried – at £8.99 it really is a bargain!

So, if you have normal-oily skin, redness and blemishes, and on a tight budget, then I’d definitely recommend trying this foundation. I’d avoid if you have dry skin though. And I have to say I’ve changed my mind about Maybelline foundations (their Dream Matte mousse put me off almost permanently in my early teens!) and I was pleasantly surprised.

What’s your favourite foundation at the moment?

Brand vs Budget: BB Creams

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I’m not the hugest fan of heavy foundations, mainly because I don’t have the skill to apply them, they always look cakey, often show up my dry patches, and it just takes far too much time. Tinted moisturisers were my base of choice as a young teenager, but I quickly realised they were actually far too dark for my skin. Luckily for me it was seemingly on trend in my school at the time to look as though you’d bathed in Tango…

Over the last few years BB creams have taken beauty shelves by storm (more recently CC creams, which I haven’t ventured into yet) and luckily for me they seem to be available in slightly more forgiving colours. Today I compare Garnier’s BB cream (which if I remember rightly was one of the first to hit UK ‘drugstores’) with Aldi’s cheaper version. My review of the Aldi offering may be in vain; I bought it in a reduced basket for 1.99, and have only seen in on rare occasions since, so I have to accept it may be discontinued.

The Garnier one comes in at £9.99 (when not on offer) and is in a small and rather annoying tube – the plastic is rather stiff, and it is near on impossible to (1) get a small amount out, and (2) get anything out when you’ve used around 75% of the tube. So not only is it more expensive, but it seems ridiculously wasteful too. Aldi’s version is obviously making use of cheaper packaging, but I prefer it, and the matte look of the tube actually appears relatively high-end.

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In terms of colour, it was really hard to show the real difference. In all my photos the Garnier appeared to be the lighter shade, but I’ve found that totally untrue, with the Aldi one blending in to my (very) pale skin far better. Coverage and lasting-time is, on me, better with the Aldi version, and my forehead doesn’t turn into an oil slick like it does wearing Garnier.

Texture wise, Aldi’s BB cream is nicer to wear, it feels lighter. I can feel the Garnier sitting on my skin, it’s thicker and harder to blend, and it feels oily virtually straight away.

Now onto breakouts. I wouldn’t class my skin as sensitive, but it hates foundations and anything of that type. Neither of these BB creams were an exception. They didn’t cause a big reaction, no cystic pimples, but just a few more spots, a few more inflamed pores. If anything the Garnier one was slightly worse, possibly due to the slightly oily texture.

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If I’m honest, neither of these products blew me away. Maybe its just be, but I’d still much rather stick with an illuminating moisturiser, with concealer and a translucent powder when necessary. Any more of a base is just wasting valuable sleeping time! Forced to choose between the two, I’d definitely choose the Aldi version, simply due to its rather wonderful colour match and improved ease of application. Budget wins!

Beauty on a Budget: MyBeauty Compare

We’ve all heard about comparison sites for insurance; we all know to Compare Markets not Meerkats (is it just me that’s totally in love with meerkats purely because of this advert?!). Well there’s a new kind of comparison site online and its one that seems far more interesting. MyBeauty Compare works on the same principle as other comparison sites; you put your details in, what you’re looking for, and it offers recommendations before (and this is the most impressive bit) directing you to the place where you can buy it the cheapest.

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For a budget-restricted window shopped like me, this is bad news! A site where I can look at makeup matched to me, and then find where I can buy it cheapest. Too easy! But I reckon if you have self-control this is an easy way of grabbing items from your lust-list at the cheapest possible price.

The registration process is a little more long-winded that other websites, but I can only describe this as a good thing. When your register you answer a not-too-long, not-too-short questionnaire giving details about your skin and hair condition, as well as skintone and eye colour. All of this helps to ensure that you will never be recommended unsuitable products by the site. I was really impressed with the layout of the questionnaire; very intuitive! I completed my registration in 10 minutes, so it doesn’t take long at all.

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I did at first think the website would be gimmick-y and not to my tastes, and I certainly didn’t think that products would end up being tailored to me. I’m pleased to say I was very wrong, and I’m really impressed with the site. I’ve not noticed a single product that I thought ‘eurgh’ about, which is great!

I’m also pleased to see that the site is directing users to the cheapest offering of the product they wish to buy – even little differences like a £1 here or there add up when you’re on a budget! If you are a beauty and product lover like me, this website is likely to become invaluable!

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One of my favourite things about the site, though, has to be the product reviews (written by other beauty fanatics, and people who really know what they are talking about) and the forum. Talking to other users is definitely going to become a little bit of addiction, so much so I’ll be adding this site to my ‘block list’ during the week as I know it’ll be a distraction!

The site is free to register on, and it only takes a few minutes, so I highly suggest signing up here and having a browse – I’m so glad there’s now a beauty comparison website, and I’m sure my bank balance is too!

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What do you think of MyBeauty Compare?

I was not paid for this post, but I was promised a few small products in return. All views are my own, and I was actually visiting MyBeauty Compare before being asked to write this post. 

Budget Beauty Buys: Skincare

This is a post for the girlies out there! Over the last few months I’ve realised I’ve never taken care of my skin properly. Sure I’ve cleansed reasonably often, but definitely not morning and night, and even more naughtily I’ve often forgotten to take makeup off. Not only has this left me with blocked tearducts, but I feel it has had a drastic effect on my skin. Dry patches, oily patches, a few lots spots. This has been made worse over the past summer by bruising and swelling from my operation leading to me wearing more foundation, not taking it off, and then really clogging up my skin. So I’ve recently began to revamp my skincare items, on my tight student budget, and here are my favourite products so far.

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Firstly, I’ll mention the ‘stand out’ item in that photo – the multi-vitamins! Now we all know students may not have the best diets, and although I still manage to eat well I always recommend a multivitamin supplement, particularly in the months leading up to exams. I use one with extra iron and Vit C, as I find it works well for me. Now onto the more exciting things!

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First up is something I have used for many years, and despite occasionally venturing to other newer products (cleansing balms and oils currently have my attention – does anyone recommend any?) I always come back to it. It is cheap and cheerful, probably around £2-£4 depending on offers, lasts a long time, and is simple to use. None of these complicated instructions, I feel some beauty products these days require a degree to use! It has a light floral fragrance which doesn’t last when applied, is gentle on the skin, easy of the eyes (although I don’t recommend you use it directly on the eye area!), and is reasonably moisturising for a cleanser. It removes just about all traces of my makeup, and whilst it struggles a little with mascara it is my go-to cleanser when I need a simple one-step can’t-be-bothered refresh.

I also occasionally use the toner of this range, but it tends to dry my skin out and so for that reason I don’t thoroughly recommend it (although it sorts out caked foundation when gently pressed on, so possibly worth having for emergencies!). The moisturiser is also very good, but being in a pot lets it down big time for me – I can just imagine a lot of germs!

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This is a product you won’t see on most student’s dressing tables! Due to my operation I have had increasingly puffy eyes and dark circles, which I’m desperately trying to do something about – so recommendations of a decent concealer would be gratefully received! This moisturiser is light enough for my young skin, but seems to be slowly solving my problems. It stings a little if it goes in your actual eye, but is nice and refreshing, lasts for ages and is a great budget buy. I shall definitely repurchasing, as for an eye cream it is spectacular value for money.

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Recently I have developed a liking for good old traditional soap used to wash and cleanse. Granted this can be a little drying, but it seems the most natural thing to do (especially with my favourite range at the moment – Dr Organics) and is proving a lot cheaper. I buy these soaps at Holland & Barratt, and their full price is roughly £2.50, with offers pretty much constantly appearing. They last for maybe 6 weeks, depending on the storage you use (I definitely suggest a soap dish!) and obviously are easy to transport as they don’t have to be packed into a suitcase for flying. To use, I splash my face with warm water, lather the soap in my hands, and then massage in. I either wash off straight away using a flannel (rubbing for a bit of exfoliation) or leave it to dry (ala a face mask) before rinsing away. I also use this all over body in the shower, and find it wonderfully cleansing without feeling sticky or smelling sickly – and it doesn’t make the shower slippy which is a massive bonus for someone as accident prone as me!

My usual buy is the pictured pomegranate soap, which I love as the ingredients seem to combat a genetic skin condition that I have been lucky enough to inherit. I have however recently purchased the Vit E version, which I look forward to trialling soon.

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As mentioned above, washing with soap can be a littleeee drying on the skin, so I’ve been on the hunt for my perfect moisturiser. The hunt has been unsuccessful, but I have found four which I like to keep on hand, and then alternate depending on how my skin is feeling. The Garnier Moisture Match range has been around for a few months now, but for me is a revelation, particularly as a few formulas are oil-free. It isn’t exactly the cheapest option, with full price tubes being £5.99. However a limited range of the selection can often be found in Wilkinsons or Savers for £3, and they are regularly on offer in Boots, Superdrug (which they are at the time of posting, plus remember your 10% NUS discount students!), and various supermarkets. As with all things, it pays to shop around! I’ll give a brief overview of the moisturisers I love (keen eyes will note one is missing, as the formula was definitely not for me!) and you can choose the ones you’d like from there! Going from left to right…

We have the blue one! This is a pretty simple and generic moisturiser, for normal to dry skin, generic fragrance-free smell (doesn’t there always seem to be a smell?!), and I tend to use this after my nightly cleanse if my skin isn’t too dry, or if I used the Garnier cleanser above.

Then there’s the yellow one! This is probably my current favourite. It’s been an absolute revelation to find an oil-free moisturiser with SPF and illuminator. I have been using this both with (mixed in) foundation, and instead of foundation, and it really does give a lovely finish and glow to my skin. I wouldn’t recommend this for bedtime use due to the SPF, and it feels a little sticky, but I definitely can’t complain!

To the orange tube! This is a gel based formula, very light and non-greasy, and lovely and refreshing on hot days. It also gives a good glow to the face, although at the same time manages to be matte (nope, I don’t understand either!). It mixes well with foundation, and spreads out evenly (probably better than the other types) but I definitely wouldn’t say this should be the only one you should buy as it definitely isn’t very moisturising, although I do have drier skin. Oily types, this is definitely one to try! One thing I will say is that I’m not a huge fan of the smell, it reminds me of the bright yellow antibiotic medicine I used to force down as a child…

And now to the pink corner! This is the richest moisturiser of the bunch, for dry to very dry skin. I have to say this is true – I wouldn’t use this except at night, and definitely not every night. But it is wonderfully softening and soothing, and gets rid of all my dry patches. I’ve found to excellent for the dry places on my body too, particularly the elbows. I believe that for dry skin this moisturiser could be a godsend!

 

And that is my best budget skincare (so far!). Does anyone have any recommendations?