Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The DIY Clarisonic: Origins Facial Brush

Realistically, not everyone can afford a Clarisonic.  Even the Mia at the lower end of the scale retails at £120; for a face cleaner, more than a weekly food allowance is a little extortionate.  Maybe when I've got a well paying job these beauty luxuries can be treats, but for the time being I have to find affordable alternatives.

After a search on eBay (for 'facial brush') I came across lots of plastic-handled 'manual' versions for a couple of pounds, including this Origins one.  I could only find them as part of gift sets in the UK (here), and only really here for America, but I thought I'd give it a whirl.  I believe the Boots Botanics facial brush was very popular (Fee posted on it here), but it appears they've changed the brush, and it looks a lot like this Origins one for about £4 more.  I would link you to it, but unfortunately Boots.com seems to be down, and has been for days - and I can't put this post off any longer whilst waiting for it to reappear!

Firstly, I like the fact the whole thing is plastic; no worrying about damaging any wood or natural bristles, and it tends to dry pretty quickly.  It's easy to keep clean too, and I like not having muslin cloths thrown in the washer every 2 days.  I just run this under hot water, swish the bristles around and leave it to dry out.  The bristles are soft, yet firm, meaning they don't bend and flatten when I'm cleansing, but don't hurt my face either.  However, I'm not sure if the bristles are a little too long, as I tend to spray face wash all over the place if I really get into it!  But since I'm either in the shower or over the sink, this doesn't bother me too much.

I only use it for a few minutes as I don't want to slog away my whole face, but straight away I noticed the difference.  My skin is less red, less spotty and less oily; overall, it looks really radiant and healthy.  The skin around my T-zone seems to be tightening up, the pores are less obvious and that seems to be linked to less oil production too.  I've heard that skin brushing also allows products to be absorbed more easily - which also seems to be the case with me too.  Even after the first day I was surprised at how good my skin was looking, so I'm looking forward to doing an update a few months down the line! 

Finding the right face wash seems the hardest part about the brush cleansing.  Some are not foamy enough, some are too foamy, some are too drying, some are too creamy.. For the moment I'm just using up the masses of face washes/cleansers I already have, then I'll look into buying a good, mid-foamy, brush friendly one! (Maybe Cetaphil or Soap & Glory?)

Overall, using the brush has been incredible for me.  I have medication to help with spots, but using this brush has done more for my skin than medication has done for quite a while!  (This is also the reason I'm not giving you a face photo; my skin is not lovely to look at!)  I was previously using Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish system, and still love it so much I will go back to using it half the time in the long-term.  But for now, I'm very happy using my manual facial brush!  Personally, I don't really think it really matters what brand of brush you use.  As long as you're brushing your face (although it sounds ridiculous..), your skin will look radiant.  Although when I finally have a little extra cash I might treat myself to an electric brush - just for the convenience, of course!


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Dove Express Treatments

Intensive Repair Express Treatment (link)
Nourishing Oil Care Express Treatment (link)

I love Dove haircare, always have and always will do!  I thought I'd try out their new intensive conditioners.  Whilst they act like deep conditioning hair masks, they only need to be applied for 1 minute to produce results.  The main difference between these two is the 'Nourishing Oil Care' unsurprisingly, contains oils.  The product doesn't state specifically which oils, and with chemical names for oils on the ingredients list it's not clear there either! (After some googling I found there's coconut oil in there..)  When you squeeze the product out, there's the 'gold stripe' of 'nutri-oils' which work to leave hair feeling gorgeous, manageable and silky.  I use a shower comb to distribute the conditioner throughout my hair, which means every strand feels and smells amazing.

The Intensive Repair version did leave my hair a little bit softer than if I'd used the normal conditioner, but personally I didn't see a massive difference.  There's no fancy stripes, the treatment is just white and looks quite a lot like the normal conditioner.  And the normal conditioner is cheaper, so I'd probably buy that one instead!

These Express Treatments can be used with every wash, although with only 180ml of product, if you wash everyday, it's not going to go far. So, as you can see, I'm a little torn on these Express Treatments.  The Nourishing Oil Care in particular is a very good product and I will be repurchasing when I've run out!


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Lucas' Papaw Ointment

Now, I'm not going to lie.  This tube is really old, like, really old.  I purchased it years ago whilst I was still at school, so at least 3 years.  It's one of those things I used to carry in my bag all the time, and then  resigned it to my make-up box to sit with everything else that was my once 'must have' product.  I used it on everything that needed to be fixed; imagine the consistency of Vaseline with the healing powers of Sudocrem and you're probably about half way there.

I read in some magazine that this was the cheap Australian equivalent to 8 hour cream; therefore, any sane beauty addict would decide 'yes, I definitely need this'.  I think I purchased it from their official Paw Paw shop (here).  The product info on there is also very interesting; Papaw Ointment has been produced from papaya/paw paw by the Lucas family for around 80 years.  It was originally created to cure a disease because of the natural antiseptic qualities from the papaw tree; over the years it's been taken up by many beauty and make-up lovers as a staple product.

Up until recently I'd forgotten about Papaw Ointment, which I'm sure is something experienced by most beauty bloggers; with a cycle of new products being tried, tested and loved all the time, the old lovers are cast aside.  It was only when I was reading the asos magazine that I had a moment of realisation.  They were praising Papaw Ointment and promising to stock it soon... and left me thinking that 1, this product is definitely not new and 2, I'm sure I own this!  

So Papaw came back into my life with its cute name (I say it 'Paw Paw' because I'm northern, and prefer it that way!), faint smell that reminds me of nature and healing powers that rival Madame Pomfrey.  (Harry Potter reference, in case you aren't still a super fan.)

After medication has ruined my skin again, it's Papaw to the rescue.  My eyes are plastered with the stuff, and thankfully, because it's not a cream, it doesn't sting so intensely that I cry (this has happened with my moisturiser for the past two days).  It really can be used to fix anything - I think most people use it as a lip balm - and at only £4.20 for a tube that lasts ages, it's a bargain!


Some more Twitter fingers

Last night I uploaded another photo to Twitter of my most recent nail creation; I've used Elegant Touch flawless French manicure kit (previous blogged about here) to ensure I have the neatest white tips money can buy!  I love nothing more than a good French mani, and used to be skilled enough to paint my own tips with accuracy, however, that skill seems to elude me now, so buying the tips is the only way!  Of course, there's my 'Juicy Jules' ring finger too, it just wouldn't look right without it ;)


Get the London look

We're told this on every Rimmel advert by Kate Moss, and I've been to London quite a few times.  I still don't know what the London look is though.  I do know, however, that I LOVE this lipstick.  I always thought that I had to jump on the nude lip bandwagon, but I did a reassessment a few days ago.  Somewhere in my bloodline there's another race, there has to be; I've got dark hair and eyes, skin with a year-round tan (no, it's not a fake one!), a flat face and big lips.  Everyone thinks I'm foreign.  This, for me, means a nude lip looks ridiculous.  I probably couldn't look more stupid than I do with a nude lipstick, because my lips are rosy pink, and nude makes them paler.  Cue the 'darker' nude lip!

The consistency of Kate #08 is beautiful; the perfect amount of creamy, moisturising, pigmented goodness.  As you can see, it's like a blushed rose pink colour, with a nude brown undertone in there.  It's a great 'every day' lipstick that lasts for several hours.  I like to keep topping it up anyway, but even after mocha and a baguette it was still there! It's not shiny or shimmer, but it's not matte either - it's got a sleek glow to it that makes me love it so much more.  When I wear this, I kind of feel like I have those 'bee stung' lips that are forever talked about in romance novels.. well, a girl can dream!

The Kate Lasting Finish lipsticks retail at £5.49.  Worth every penny!


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Nails Inc. 'Oxford Circus' & Models Own 'Juicy Jules'

I posted this on Twitter yesterday; candyfloss-coloured nails to remind me that sunny weather will be coming back soon!  Sadly the polaroid app on my phone doesn't show quite how bright pastel pink Oxford Circus is (unfortunately the Nails Inc. website don't stock this anymore, the only link I could find to one was eBay!).

This Nails Inc. colour is a lot better than the last one I used - maybe because it's a pastel the creamy texture is easier to work with?  I still found it quite runny, but the colour is girly and pretty, so I don't mind quite so much.  Juicy Jules still is one of my all-time favourite polishes.  I have the glitter nail with basically every polish I own...


Hand it to Me!

Another essay has been handed in, which means I've been shockingly busy this past week - so much so, I woke up Tuesday morning thinking it was still Friday, because my weekend went so fast!  This also meant I've has quite a few lazy beauty days; apart from cleansing and moisturising, I've rarely worn make-up.. but one product I have been using daily is my Soap & Glory Hand Food.  This was purchased as part of my Big Splendour gift set, and the only item in the whole bag, apart from the foot cream, that I brought back to uni with me.

With claims it's 'the most astonishing hand cream ever', I just thought 'really?'.  I've never been big on hand creams, with all the body moisturising I do, my hands always seem soft!  But I have owned a few, and this one is on another level.  Firstly, the smell.  It's absolutely gorgeous!  I think it's the same scent as their 'Mist You Madly' body spray; I end up sniffing my hands until it's worn off.  And secondly, it does what it says on the tube.  Soaks in very fast, doesn't leave a residue and hands feel silky soft afterwards.  I use this every night as part of my bedtime routine, and my hands don't show a single spot of dry skin, even round my cuticles!  This is one item I will definitely be re-buying, and at £5 for 125ml, this is very good value for money, since you only need a little blob at a time.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Seaweed Mattifying Day Cream.. to the Rescue!

Like many young people, my skin is combination.. and erratic.  Acne comes and goes with the pull of the moon and the tides (or something as equally obscure) since I have no idea why my skin acts the way it does.  There are quite a few moisturisers which claim to keep oily skin at bay, but frustratingly for me, the ones I've tried seem to be oily and creamy.  This is not good for skin that's oily to begin with.  I began using The Body Shop's seaweed mattifying day cream around new year, and have used it almost every single day since!  You know you're a fan of a product when on the occasional 'day off', your skin looks like you've had an olive oil facial.  That's when you realise just how effective the product is!

Although it doesn't completely stop oily skin, it does a very good job at reducing it.  Usually, after about 3 hours after putting on make-up, my T-zone has oil seeping through it :(.  With this under my primer, I barely notice it.  And my favourite thing about this moisturiser is that it's a gel; which means my skin is oil free/not shiny, and the gel formula means a little goes a long way.  Hurrah!  The Body Shop currently sell this for £9 a pot, which isn't so bad considering my pot probably has two-thirds left after using for a month and a half.  Oh, and the fact it smells nice too - kind of 'clean' and almost cucumber-y...


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hair Therapy

No matter what time of the year it is, our hair seems to suffer.  Whether we're braving the elements or being harassed by humidity, our hair hates it.. not to mention all the shampooing, brushing and heated hair tools which dry hair and split the ends.  Although nothing truly beats a good trim to really rid hair of nasties, there are thankfully a few products on the market that help hair stay healthier for longer!

Lee Stafford's range is exclusive to Boots; like many of the brands they stock, the prices are mid-range.  The Hair Growth Treatment is £7.99 a tub.  Now, these tubs do last around quite a while if you're using it a couple of times a week and you don't have masses of hair!  However, I refuse to purchase unless it's on the '3 for £12 on all Lee Stafford' offer which runs a few times throughout the year.  Last time I bought six, yes six tubs - saving £23.94 I may add ;).  

See, I'm not lying!  I know this was August 2011, but I'm still working my way through the tubs...
As you can see from the tub, this product doesn't make those ridiculous claim to speed up hair growth whilst repairing your split ends (because as anyone who knows about hair knows that these things aren't possible..); The Hair Growth Treatment replenishes the lost nutrients in both hair and follicles.  Whilst this creates a healthy environment for hair to grow without breakage, it also means hair is soft, manageable and generally feels very lovely.  It also smells of Lee Stafford's signature scent - love it or hate it, you can't miss it!  This treatment also has been one of the main reasons my hair is finally starting to grow (woohoo!)

My next 'holy grail' product is the Intensive Repair shampoo and conditioner by Dove.  I'm less sure about the 'repairing' features of this duo, since it seems like an easier way to describe a nutritious hair moisturiser - not to mention that hair is technically dead, so you can't repair it... I use these a couple of times a week too, and the pair seem to bring a bit of vitality back to my locks.  I find my hair likes to switch up hair products anyway, but it also ensures that build up doesn't occur.  I do find the shampoo is a bit difficult to lather up - maybe it's a little more clarifying than other shampoos?  But it does the job and helps to keep split ends at bay (I haven't had my hair cut since November, and I'm still managing to avoid split ends!)  Despite the fact there are many higher end shampoo and conditioners on the market, I just can't justify spending excessive amounts when Dove's Intensive Repair does such a good job!  The Intensive Repair duo are on offer at Boots at the moment, with both bottles costing £4; however, I purchased mine from Wilkinsons for around £1.50 per bottle.. Always hunting for a bargain, you see!


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Winter Sun..

There's nothing we all would like more than a bit of winter sun; looking out of my window (which lets in more of a breeze whilst it's shut than it does when it's open), watching the snow fall, leaves a lot to be desired.  I'd much rather be sunning myself on some lovely beach.. but alas, not all of us can afford it!  So the next best thing?  Some fake tanning, of course!  I picked up this 120ml bottle of St. Tropez Bronzing Lotion in Boots' Boxing Day sale as part of a gift set.  I'm usually a mousse kind of girl; St. Tropez mousse, to be exact.  After the bottle ran out, I turned to St. Moritz, and with a definite drop in price (who can complain at £3ish a bottle!?) and a tan to be proud of, I never looked back.  I know many people are torn with St. Moritz, but personally I'm left streak and patch free, and generally quite golden.

The bronzing lotion is odd.  I like mousse because it's easy to control how much you pump out.. the lotion is a case of squeezing, and if you get a huge blob, it's tough.  It also looks like treacle toffee, just not sticky.  I found with it being a liquid consistency, my tanning mitt tends to soak some up too, which I thought was disappointing - like I was just wasting it.  But it does smooth on very easily, and is probably quicker to apply than a mousse is.  The lotion also boasts the 'Aromaguard' technology.. now yes, it does smell quite floral and un-fake tan at first, but after a few hours the stench was a rival of the cheaper end of the tan market.  Thank god I sleep in tan; I would've been embarrassed if I was out and about stinking so badly!  However, I am impressed by the depth of tan this lotion left me with.  It's a bit darker than I was expecting, which meant my hands looked a tad on the orange side - whoops!  But the rest of me looks like I've been away for a week on a desert island ;) if only.. and that was only with one layer of application.  So it is definitely good value/quality.  Normally, with the cheap tanning mousse I'll apply two layers to create a darker tan - thank goodness I didn't do that with the lotion!!

At £20.49, it's definitely not the cheapest tanning product out there, and I'm not sure I'd replace it with my St. Moritz for general use.  However, for special events this tan is probably one of the best on the market.  From memory, the colour has much more depth than the St. Tropez mousse, and so I'd say is probably better value for money.  So I'll be saving this for when I need to look especially like a bronzed goddess, as I don't fancy forking out £20 for another bottle!


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Skinny Dip-ping

This maybe doesn't do the colour much justice...

We should clearly all be thankful for Debenhams Beauty Card when, after umpteen beauty splurges, we're rewarded with a gem of £10 off.  These offers only last for something like 6 months on the card, and since mine was patiently waiting for my trip to the city and a decision to be made, I've only just used it.  I really wanted either MAC Hue or Shy Girl; aggravated by my local Debenhams' lack of a MAC counter (WHY!?), I settled for Benefit.  After deliberation and some testing (the lovely counter staff complimented my 'lovely full lip' ;)!) I agreed 'Skinny Dip' was a good choice (link here).

After a few days of use, I'm actually quite impressed with this lipstick.  It's a lovely combination between a lipstick and a gloss; more of a sheer formula, but feels creamy and moisturising.  As you can imagine, it's not hugely pigmented, but enough to colour the lip a few shades.  It also doesn't last a very long time, but it feels nice on and isn't drying.  I might repurchase, but I'm not yet sure how long the reasonably sized tube will last, and whether I could get a similar product for less in Boots or Superdrug..  But with my voucher, this only cost me £4, so I'm pleased!


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Just Browzing!

So you may remember quite a while ago I mentioned that I was growing my eyebrows (which sounds like a ridiculous comment to make!)  After harnessing the fact I have big 'brows, I decided to go for a more natural look.  After a long time of filling in patches, preening, plucking and generally waiting around, I can proudly say I have new eyebrows (exactly two months of waiting around, in fact.. ).  Gone are the thin lines of hair on my forehead, replaced with neat arches.

I use e.l.f.'s eyebrow kit in medium, wax them into shape and powder in a little definition.  Hey presto!  What do you think? ;)


'Dot on cheeks and blend'

Topshop's cream blushes are a popular product from their make-up range, which for a high street brand known  for its eccentric fashion taste, is quite impressive.  The prices aren't extortionate and the quality is good; the packaging is cute.  What more could we ask for?

Cream blushes aren't so easy to come by; everyone seems to stock powder on the high street.  Topshop's 'Head Over Heels' was a firm fave until they discontinued it (but apparently, the website is still stocking it here..?), but 'Neon Rose' seems to actually be a lovely blend of peachy/pinky goodness without being quite so neon as the name suggests.. The colour is highly pigmented, and when blended it gives a really nice buff to cheeks, without being too bright, as well as having some impressive staying power.  With student discount this was only £5.40; overall, very good value for money.