Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Hand Cream Lowdown

Neutrogena Hand Cream concentrated (£3.68 approx. for 50ml)
This is good for very dry and sore skin. Because it's concentrated you only need to use a little as it's quite rich so the tube lasts ages. Feels very nourishing on the skin. Some may find it a bit greasy as it's quite heavy. However the moisturising properties continue after you've washed your hands. Useful for those on a budget or for sensitive noses who prefer unscented products. If you like a scented hand cream read on.

Body Shop Almond Hand and Nail Cream (£5 for 30ml)
This feels light on the skin and contains almond oil which is well known for making skin softer. The cream is easily absorbed without making hands feel very greasy.
A word of warning though this is very sweet smelling, like Italian Amoretti biscuits but even sweeter too sweet for me. Also while skin felt so much softer they didn't feel as moisturised.
But kudos points to The Body Shop for using Fair Trade brazil oil in the ingredient list.

Neals Yard Bee Lovely Hand Cream (£10 for 50ml)
Initially a limited edition, this became so popular Neals Yard now include it in their permanent line.
The consistency is runny like sun cream. It contains organic honey as well as brazil nut oil and orange essential oil.When opened this has a citrusy smell but once on the hands it's more like cinnamon spice. Neal's Yard claim the scent is 'energizing' and compared to the sweet scents of the others it is different but if I wanted to wake up and feel fresh this wouldn't be what I'd reach for. 
After applying your hands feel fairly greasy but this fades after 10-15 minutes. It feels very nourishing. Like Neurogena this is more heavy duty and tackles chapped hands and is hailed as good for dry skin and eczema. Neals Yard's Bee products raise money for the Buglife, Landlife and Pesticide Action Network UK. This is cruelty free and winner of the RSVP Beauty award winner 2013.

L'Occitane Jasmine passion Hand cream 20% Shea butter  (30ml)
This is one of L'Occitane's limited edition 20% shea butter range and is currently available in a set. The original version won many beauty awards but this one smells so much nicer. It's light but very  moisturising and feels so nourishing on my hands. It's a little tacky after applying but then it settles down.  I just love the scent of Jasmine.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lip Balm Alternatives to Vaseline

I've recently discovered that when I use Vaseline it doesn't seem to penetrate my lips to truly moisturise, all it does is just sits on my lips. It does acts as a barrier against the wind and cold to prevent further damage but ultimately it's not very soothing because the lips can't absorb such a thick oily substance. Vaseline is made of 100% pure petroleum jelly which is a blend of mineral oils and waxes. It is formed as part of the oil drilling process and then later refined and distilled to produce pure petroleum jelly. Petroleum is an occlusive moistuiser, it coats the skin/lips to create a sealing barrier between the cells in dry skin to locks in moisture. I've been on the hunt for a non occlusive lip balm that truly soothes and moisturise my lips.

The Body Shop Born Lippy in Plum  5g (£3) from The Body Shop
Unlike the Body Shop's honey lip butter and the pot born lippy (in melon) this balm in stick form actually worked- it moisturised fully and felt comfortable on the lips. It smells slightly fruity and tastes a little sweet and plummy. Unfortunately this does have a bitter aftertaste which you can feel in your throat. However being a tinted lip balm it does give your lips a great colour, a dark pink/mauve colour (a your lips but better look) which enhances your makes your lips.   

E45 Lip care 5gs (£2.49) from Boots
This lip balm does an ok job of moisturising lips but I feel that some of the others are better (Boots Lipsalve/The Body shop) . The formulation is a little waxy, I don't mind but this may be an issue for some people. This claims to be perfume free and while it doesn't smell of much, the taste is a subtle fragrance of vanilla/crème Brule. E45 manufactures gentle, kind to skin products and this is dermatologically tested and allergy screened. An added bonus is that it contains UVA and UVB sunscreens.

Burts Bees Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter 4.25g (£3.69) from Boots and Burts Bees
I've heard nothing but good reviews from Burts Bees and a friend swears by them, but I did not find this to be very moisturising. It does soften the lips but it felt like Vaseline where it just sits on top not being fully absorbed or actually feels nourishing at all. It does smells gorgeous though- sweet, fruity and smells of summer. I'm tempted to keep it close by just so I can inhale the scent and daydream that I'm not in rain soaked Britain for a few minutes but on a sunny tropical island. This is also 100% made from natural ingredients.

Dr Organic Aloe Vera 5ml ( currently £3.25) from Holland and Barrett
I really wanted to love this. It's organic and contains Shea butter, beeswax, vitamin E and the soothing gentle properties of aloe Vera. It also has an SPF 15 to protect the lips from UVA and UVB rays. The smell is slight and inoffensive. It does feel fully moisturising, however this felt strange on my lips like a tingling sensation even though this isn't a lip balm that tingles because it's making your lips fuller. Even that fuller lip tingling I avoid as I don't like it. After trying other lip balms from this brand I don't think my lips react well to Dr Organics Bio Active products. For others this may be worth trying, in particular those looking for organic, scent free or SPF lip balms.

Boots Essential lipsalve in Strawberry 5g (£1) from Boots
This moisturises well and smells like a strawberry milkshake and tastes a little like it too- lovely! The texture isn't too waxy but just right. This lip balm also contains Shea Butter, Aloe Vera and beeswax-good ingredients, I don't know why this isn't made more of in the marketing of this product. The lip balm is also dermatologically tested suitable for sensitive lips. All in all good value for the price.

Neals Yard Bee Lovely 15g (£6.50) from Neals Yard
This is marketed as being a multi-purpose balm for elbows, cuticles and general dry patches as well as for the lips. On the lips it feels like butter.-heaven. It's incredibly nourishing as well. It smells and tastes citrusy due to the orange essential oil. It also contains cocoa butter and beeswax.This has a screw top lid which is unusual but at least you know when the lid is securely fastened and not going to fall off in your handbag. While this is more expensive than the others, you are also getting triple product so it's not bad value. This is cruelty free (there's a bunny label on the packaging), 99% organic and approved by the soil association. Also by buying this you also help the ecosystem by raising funds to save the bees who play a vital part of our environment and food production. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014


It's Boots No.7 voucher time again!
 No. 7 do some affordable high quality make up brushes and with £3 off it's a bargain!
These are synthetic brushes so are cruelty free and don't shed. They can handle frequent washing, I've had two for over two years and the others over a year and they fare well. They are also recommended by Pixiwoo  (before Sam Chapman made her real technique brushes.)

The handles are quite short which may not be to everyone's taste but they are a good size for travel and with some D.I.Y cutting the plastic packaging makes for an excellent make up brush bag.(I also keep my eye liners and lip liners in them.)

 The regular prices are below

Eye contour Brush £7.25 (No 7 top Coastal scents bottom)
Most eye looks need a fluffy blending brush to contour/shade the eye crease. I bought this as it looked like a dupe of MAC's 217 fluffy brush. Unfortunately I don't own this brush but can compare to coastal scents, which is a cheaper brand than No. 7. Compared to the Coastal scents version this brush is flatter, making it perfect for a smaller eye crease. The actual brush heads are about the same length. My coastal scents one may be nearing the end of its life.

Precision Eyeliner Brush £7
I don't find this good for eyeliner at all I feel it's too thick for a precise line.
I feel this makes an excellent lip brush instead. It's thinner than the No. 7 lip brush and so gives more accurate application. I've had this brush for at least two years and wash it once a week/fortnight (I don't tend to wear proper lipstick as often as lip gloss) I've experienced absolutely no shedding.

Lip Brush £7
This is a great lip brush it's a good size for filling in lips. It hasn't really been discoloured at all over 2 years. A few hairs are bent but I think that's done to me storing them amongst too many brushes. At a pinch I sometimes use this as an eye shadow brush if I can't find any clean brushes, although it is rather small for this.

Concealer brush £8
I am currently battling dark circles under my eyes so thought a good concealer brush may help in my application of concealer. The brush is really soft. I also use it for an all over quick wash of eye shadow. Above is a picture comparing the size to a Real techniques foundation brush. The no.7 brush is smaller and a tinier bit more fuller.

What are your experiences of these brushes? Do you disagree?

Disclaimer; I bought these brushes with my own money and am not being compensated in any way or have links with Boots or No7 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Benefit They're Real Mascara Review

  I don't tend to spend much on mascaras (probably the most I've spent is £12 or £13) and only try mascaras from high end brands if they're included in a set or have a discount. I think the price has put me off trying this before despite all the hype and Holy Grail status this has in the beauty world.

 However his mascara is absolutely amazing! The formula allows you to build and lengthen lashes to an extent I've never experienced before or thought possible and it lasts all day. The performance is probably on par with fibre lash mascaras that I've shied away from because they're not recommended for contact lens wearers. This mascara doesn't smudge or flake off also important considerations if you wear contact lenses. The formula is more on the wet side so it will take longer to dry. I have long thickish lashes that suit wet formulas. If you have thin short lashes this may be less effective since the mascara may not build up properly onto thin lashes. The formula can hold a curl but not as well as other mascaras so you may need to give it another boost and curl midday. However sometimes it can look a little spidery on application. This can be easily remedied with a lash comb/old mascara wand. Although I have black lashes I feel the darkness of the black colour is pretty decent. Benefit claims that 94% of people in their consumer panel survey saw dramatic length and volume of eyelashes. Initially I didn't see any difference to the volume and thickness of my lashes until I read on Benefit's website that you're supposed to hold the wand vertically and stroke upwards for the promised effect. This method does make lashes look thicker however it's also more likely to result in mascara clumping. Unfortunately this mascara is not waterproof.

This brush has short plastic bristles, with bristles on the end tip. I prefer fibre brushes but this brush does separate lashes and I like the fact that the bristles on the end tip are angled, making it easier to coat lashes in the corners of your eyes. When applied to lower lashes the effect is a wide eyed 60's Twiggy look. I prefer the more natural look so I just coat the upper lashes. The brush generally prevents eyelashes clumping as well. I thought the smaller wand on this small sized trial version wouldn't be as effective but I was proved wrong! The only downside of the smaller wand and plastic bristles is that you have to be careful not to poke your eye. Perhaps this is because I'm not used to using plastic bristles. The wiper (the plastic ring inside the mascara's mouth) is pretty effective at depositing the right amount of mascara on the brush and preventing clumped eyelashes.

When it comes to the packaging, personally I don't like the grey tube, I think silver would look more luxurious. I think the full sized version is silver so I don't know why this isn't silver too. Also I don't like the orange writing on grey background but I suppose it does stand out.

I would still use another mascara for lash volume on nights out (which require a more dramatic look) but I'm super impressed by the performance of this mascara, and glad I've finally had a chance to use it. This was a freebie with a magazine (Elle) but the mini size retails in Boots stores for £9.50 which makes this mascara more affordable. I never use up all the mascara in a full bottle anyway but I guess how quickly you get through it depends how often you use it. The smaller size would be good to pack when traveling. I definitely feel the high price point is worth it. If you haven't tried this already- do check it out you won't regret it.

4.0g  £9.50 Boots in store
8.5g £19.50 Boots Debenhams John Lewis Benefit

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Foundation Review Series Shu Uemura Face Architect Illuminating Moisture Fluid Foundation Review

774 light beige (13 shades available) 
27ml /0.9 Fluid Ounces
£34 (Bought it during a House of Fraser sale and used a voucher so it was cheaper £29)
Available at: House Of Fraser and some SpaceNK stores

According to the Shu Uemura website (USA) 'This liquid foundation is designed to achieve an illuminating glow finish. with its pleasantly rich texture, this foundation spreads to conceal skin imperfections flawlessly while maintaining a natural complexion that glows as from within. The formula is enriched with high concentrations of naturally derived ingredients including Macadamia Seed Oil to support the glowing finish as well as the moisturising benefits. provides a high-comfort wear to the skin that lasts all day. Coverage is buildable medium to high, the finish is illuminating glow effect. It's tested under dermatological control and is non-comedogenic.'

The glass bottle contains a pump which is both hygienic and best way of ensuring you don't waste any product. The packaging is simple but it doesn't cheapen the product.

Don't apply this with your hands because it won't look very good (it doesn't give a smooth skin-like appearance and will cake.) After trying Zoeva's face brush found that Real Techniques Expert face brush gives the most flawless appearance.There is a slight smell to this foundation but it's inoffensive.

This gives medium coverage. It does cover imperfections such as spots and red cheeks. This does feel light and comfortable to wear but has enough pigment to provide coverage.
I would describe the finish as semi matte, it's not full on glowing or dewy but looks a little matte as well. Personally I like it since it makes the foundation look more like skin but not like an oily mess. But I have tried dewier foundations than this one. Since there is no SPF there is no white flashback effect shown in photos.This lasted about 6- 7 hours on me without powder so not the longest wearing foundation.

I disagree about the moisturising benefit of this foundation. Even though it contains macadamia which is a moisturising ingredient, I don't feel this is suitable for dry skin. I have combination/oily skin and when I applied this after a shower it clung to dry patches. Even if I don't have a shower before applying this I still have to heavily moisturise for it to apply smoothly. I recommend using a generous application of moisturiser and/or primer underneath before using this.
I have sensitive skin and did not suffer any breakouts from this foundation, so perhaps this foundation is non-comedognic (does not clog pores) as Shu claims.

Since this foundation needs such a well moisturised skin and clings to dry patches I feel this is better suited for the summer. Shu Uemura also has a similar foundation 'Face Architect Smooth Fit' which sounds as if it could be more moisturising. Additionally they have also bought out 'Face Architect Smooth Fit Foundation with SPF 18', which may be even better suited for summer although I don't know if it will give the white flashback effect in photos. I'm going to keep using this for a while until I find a replacement and then save this bottle for the summer. Even so I think this is a good foundation and don't regret buying it.

You may like this if...
You have oily skin. If you like semi-matte finishes. If you are sensitive to perfumed products. If you are yellow or neutral toned.

You may not like this if you...
Have dry skin or if you want full coverage, are very pink toned or on a budget.

Monday, 6 January 2014

6 Ways to customise and beautfy your laptop and Tablet (for beauty bloggers, students, writers, freelancers)

1) Brighten up your laptop keys using these rainbow stickers by AirShopp

 These art decal stickers are greaseproof, waterproof and scratch resistant. They are translucent so won't block the light on a back-lit keyboard. (Suitable for 13" 15" 17" MacBook Pro, MacBook Air & Apple Keyboard Without Numeric Keypad) £12.99 from Rasfox on Amazon 

2) Apply a skin onto the top of your laptop.

TaylorHe do some gorgeous ones such as the one below
Vintage Butterfly and Watch Fits 15" and 15..6" laptops £6.99  Amazon

3) If you don't see any skins that catch your eye, you can design one yourself
at  Avery Brand and Print from £12.99

4)  Carry your precious equipment in a smart laptop bag,

Lady Like: Rica Lace print laptop bag was £28 now £20  Paperchase
(to fit most 13" laptops)

Classic: Tartan laptop bag £25 Paperchase
(to fit MacBook pro 13")

Retro Orla Kiely Square Flowers Laptop bag £85 Currys

 Retro Fun: Car Laptop Sleeve was  £15  now £7.50 Paperchase
(to fit MacBook 15" & most other 15" laptops)
5) Cover your Tablet in style


Clockwise from top: All from Accessorize
Oriental Black bird Tablet case (universal 8") £25 here
Blue Roses Cover (for ipad mini) £30 here
Oriental Tablet Case (universal 8") £25 here (universal 11") £28 here

6) Finally we all deserve a  Cuppa while we work and this will keep you drink hot. Shaped like an Oreo cookie this Hot Cookie USB cup warmer is £9.99 from totally-funky. Shame it doesn't come with free biscuits/cookies to dunk  in your drink!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above or compensated in any way.
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