Empties #4

18 December 2014

beauty emptiesI hate to start yet another blog post with yet another apology but my photos have been shocking thanks to the total absence of any daylight. I’ve got an empties post today which is about as festive as Gordon Ramsay’s mood on a bad day. Is anyone else feeling a bit fed up with all this Christmas stuff? I know I am.

Garnier Miracle Skin Cream, £12.99
(Review here) I love this and wear it pretty much solidly in place of foundation. Brilliant skincare option for the lazy girl.

Repurchase? Already have

Nivea Daily Essenitals Express Hydration Primer, £4.99
(Review here) Another great product for the lazy girl. Are you sensing a pattern? A moisturiser and primer in one, and super fast drying – I always have one of these in my stash for when I’m in a rush.

Repurchase? Already have

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water, £4.99
You’re probably sick of hearing about this micellar water so I won’t go on about it too much. A good, reliable staple that should be in everyone’s skincare collection. Even if it’s just to clean up blusher explosions in your makeup bag. It’s a monster size for less than a fiver (and relentlessly on offer) so no need to be shy with it.

Repurchase? Already have

Clinique All About Eyes, £42 for 30ml
This was a free sample, which despite its tiny size, lasted an absolute age – a little goes a long way. It’s got a cooling gel formula and it’s everything you’d need in an eye cream – smooth, hydrating, quick drying, reduces fine lines, makes your concealer go on better. Not sure it reduces puffiness and circles as it claims to but it’s nice to use nonetheless. However I’m not loyal to one eye cream, and I’m not keen on the finger-pot action so probably not a repurchase.

Repurchase? No

Nivea Daily Essentials Double Effect Makeup Remover, £3.59
(Review here) I clearly enjoyed using this when I reviewed it. However, as time went on, I found that speed at which it separates became even quicker and I ended up using unequal amounts of liquid to oil, causing disaster and reduced effectiveness, and rather a greasy finish. The search for the perfect eye makeup remover continues.

Repurchase? No

Burt’s Bees Refreshing Lip Balm with Pink Grapefruit, £3.69
I don’t know how excited you can get about lip balms but this was nice enough. It’s not going to set the world on fire but it is moisturising, smells delicious and doesn’t leave an overly glossy appearance. Perfect for chucking in your handbag or keeping by your desk. I rarely repurchase the same stick lip balm over and over, I prefer to try different ones each time so probably not a repurchase.

Repurchase? No

Sleek Eyebrow Stylist Dark, £5.99
(Review here) I found this colour to be a bit off for my eyebrows and not quite pigmented enough. However, since writing my review, I’ve found the Sleek Eyebrow stylist is actually quite nice to use on the front parts of the eyebrows, if like me, your eyebrows don’t start close enough to the middle of your forehead (this probably makes no sense). I’m still very undecided as you can probably tell.

Repurchase? Maybe

Review: Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment

17 December 2014

glamglow supermud reviewglamglow supermud reviewHere ye, here ye. Today’s review is of the fairly overexposed Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment – which I’d relentlessly been hearing about and agonising over the decision to buy it. But as Aristotle himself said, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I snapped up the 30ml version as part of a gift set at Marks & Spencer a few months ago which came with the Youthmud (I can’t remember exactly how much it cost but there was an offer on, making the set cheaper than buying the Supermud on its own – so keep your eyes peeled at M&S – they have surprisingly good beauty offers on now and again.

I’ll cut to the chase as all of you are probably aware of the ins and outs of the Glamglow mask. I’ve used this a couple of times and have enjoyed it each time. You can see from the photos my forehead and nose are a little less shiny and the pores on my nose look a bit smoother. It does leave my skin clean, soft, smooth and ready for makeup application, albeit a little on the dry side. However, I’m going to go against the masses and say that, for me, Glamglow isn’t necessarily worth the price tag. BUT I will point out that I have a pretty anal skincare routine and quite honestly, there isn’t a lot that will make my skin any better – it’s at its best ever right now. Nevertheless, I’ll keep using this before big nights out to get my skin as soft and smooth as possible.glamglow supermud reviewglamglow supermud reviewglamglow supermud reviewUnless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that most people rave about this mask and they’re probably justified. All I’d say is that if you’ve already got great skin, this isn’t necessarily going to stand out from the crowd as much as you were expecting. In all honesty, the Una Brennan Super Facialist Pore Purifying Clay Mask (review here) will do a very similar job at a fraction of the price (and without having to stick any curious fingers into any pots).

Apologies for my close-up gormless resting-face.

Please let me know how you got on with this mask – anyone else a bit on the fence?

The 30ml version is available a little cheaper at £34.99 from Look Fantastic here.

Review: Laura Mercier Angled Eye Liner Brush

7 December 2014

laura mercier angled eye liner brush reviewlaura mercier angled eye liner brush reviewlaura mercier angled eye liner brush review
If you read my eyeliner post a few months ago, you’ll know I swear by this winning duo. However, my liner life of late has been turned upside down with this purchase – the Laura Mercier Angled Eye Liner Brush. Take a look. You might be thinking ‘Er…I think it’s broken, you blind old bat’ but its bent shape makes it unlike anything else I’ve ever used.

Getting a thin line close to my lash line has always been impossible. You know that eyeliner meme with the eyes not matching? That is literally my life. Doing my left eye is always a traumatic experience and I usually have to set aside 10 minutes of my makeup routine if I dare decide to wear winged liner.

I’d heard that using a bent eyeliner brush makes the winged liner process a bit less time-greedy and allows you to get a better view of what’s going on. Needless to say I was keen to get my hands on one. A few brands do a similar brush (Smashbox, Elf and Coastal Scents to name a few) but for me, Laura Mercier is the easiest brand to get hold of in real life…but also the most expensive. It did take me several attempts to get hold of this brush as most places were sold out but I finally tracked it down in Space NK in Battersea – it was the last one in the store so there seems to be some kind of national shortage. Or you could just cut to the chase and get it online – you won’t be disappointed.

The Laura Mercier Angled Eye Liner Brush is made from synthetic fibres so it’s perfect for gel liners. I’m still using the Maybelline one (review here) every day and they are a match made in winged liner heaven. The handle is quite short too which you might feel will give you better control. I love that the tip is super fine and if you apply more pressure, you get a thicker line – ideal for creating the perfect outer flick. The bend in the brush somehow just works – I can’t explain it but it makes it impossible to mess up your eye look.

I’m LOVING life with this brush and get my eyeliner perfect in less than a minute. If you’ve ever struggled with eyeliner, I URGE you to pick this up. It will truly make the process a little less frustrating.

The Laura Mercier Angled Eye Liner Brush is available at Space NK, Selfridges and other Laura Mercier stockists and costs £16.

FOTD: Everyday Drugstore Look

5 December 2014

everyday fotdWhen I say minimal, don’t be fooled – it still takes me three and a half years to do this look. No matter how early I start my makeup, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll still be frantically hurling myself out the door in a cloud of panic and confusion. However, if unlike me, you have your shit together, you can do this look in 15 minutes so don’t let my bad example put you off.

I’ve been opting for less makeup recently, gradually weaning myself off heavy eyeliner, and most days I go foundation-free.

Apologies for the horrendous lighting – it’s dark when I get up, it’s dark when I get home and the spotlights make for extremely shadowy photos. Flash is all I had left.

Disclaimer: This is almost all drugstore products – the lipstick is MAC but I’m sure you’ll get over it.

COMPLEXION
Revlon PhotoReady Perfecting Primer
Maybelline Instant Anti-Age Eraser Eye Concealer Nude
Soap & Glory Kick Ass Instant Retouch Pressed Powder
Sleek Face Form Medium
Accessorize Merged Baked Blush Scandal (review here)

EYES
Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Liner Black (review here)
Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara Black
Rimmel Scandaleyes Kohl Liner Black

EYEBROWS
Topshop Brows Pencil Spike

LIPS
MAC Lustre Lipstick Syrup

5 Underrated Drugstore Beauty Picks You Might Not Have Tried

2 December 2014

top5When it comes to drugstore makeup, it’s all well and good hearing about how you need the Collection concealer or the Revlon matte balms. But if you’re looking for something a little more tantalising and unique to whet your high street appetite, then look no further…

Nivea Daily Essentials Hydration Primer, £4.99

If you’re anything like me, most mornings you’re low on time and even lower on patience. This is where this pot of joy comes into play. It’s a moisturiser and primer in one and dries quicker than you can say “where the hell is my bloody Oyster card?!” Leaves skin smooth, soft, hydrated and ready for the daily trowelling-on of makeup. Plus it’s under a fiver but seems to be forever half price in Boots – so there is literally no excuse not to try it. You won’t be disappointed. Check out the review here.

Gosh Boombastic Mascara, £8.49

If you can ignore the ridiculous name, I urge you to try out this mascara. If you’re a fan of Max Factor False Lash Effect, you will love this. If you don’t like superior curl, sensational volume and luscious length then I advise you to look elsewhere. This gives serious results. Occasionally half price in Superdrug too so that’s the time to stock up like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve got a review with the all-important before and after pictures here.

Seventeen Trio Eyeshadow Metallic Toffee, £5.49

I have an addiction to golden, shimmery nudes and this has not disappointed. I’m not going to say that it’s the best eyeshadow in the world, but the shades are surprisingly buttery, smooth and pigmented. The three colours work harmoniously together and can create both day and night looks.

Maybelline Eye Studio Mono Eyeshadow Chocolate Chic £4.09

Every makeup collection needs a medium matte brown eyeshadow, and if you’re looking for a budget version this is it. I don’t know about anyone else but these Maybelline mono eyeshadows never seem to get talked about which makes me weep a little. I use Chocolate Chic on my eyelids, on the lower lash line, to fill in my eyebrows and even to contour my face. Its uses are endless. If you’re on the lookout for a matte brown shadow, I’ve got a round-up here to suit all budgets.

Carmex Moisture Plus Ultra Hydrating Lip Balm Pink, £4.49

Original Carmex didn’t excite me so I picked up this little chap. Last winter I literally did not take this off my damn mouth. I like that it’s in stick form so you don’t have to poke your grubby fingers into any tiny pots. It’s super moisturising, and it tingles, big thumbs up if that’s what you’re into. The best bit about it is the colour. Ladies with darker lips like mine will understand the struggle with tinted lip balms and the fact that they barely show up but this one does. Cheap, cheerful and just works. Take a look at it in action here.

Review: Kiko Volumeyes+ Active Mascara

24 November 2014

kiko mascara reviewkiko mascara reviewkiko volumeyes mascara review

There are two things about the Regent Street Kiko store that really rattle my cage. The relentless crowds of European teenagers who insist on swatching every single product in the building, and the nightclub lighting. However, a few weeks ago I was feeling particularly steely of mind and squeezed myself into the store as I was passing, ‘just for a look’. As ever, I left with enough makeup to warrant hiding the evidence from Mr TBL.

I tried the Kiko Volumeyes+ Active Mascara for the first time yesterday and I was impressed enough to knuckle down and bash out the review today. Take a look at the photos, it is mesmerising. No, that isn’t a tiny black Christmas tree on a stick, it is the mascara’s cone shaped applicator. I was glad to see it had a proper brush wand and not a plastic one, as I’m convinced they grab the lashes with a bit more wellie. It’s a pretty big wand but the shape is actually genius. The tiny, tiny tip is a boss at getting to tiny, tiny lashes and I was able to do that without making the usual amount of mess. The other end is massive and really helps fan out the outer lashes. And LOOK at those bottom lashes. I’ve got two or three coats on and it didn’t clump too badly at all.

Kiko Volumeyes+ Active Mascara isn’t waterproof but as I type this (10 hours after application), it has managed to hold the curl much better than my other mascaras. My lashes don’t feel as hard and crispy either which is a bonus, and so far, there’s no fall out.

This mascara contains some magic ingredients that are supposed to thicken your lashes after a month (obviously I can’t verify this) but I suspect that’s bumf. Not that is matters, it’s a great mascara and has zoomed into my top three favourites.

Kiko Volumeyes+ Active Mascara is available at Kiko online and instore at £7.90 but I picked mine up for a brain-tickling £3.90 so do check the bargain bin by the till next time you’re in a Kiko store.

P.S. Sincere apologies for the my messy brows – I’m having one of those days.

Motivational Monday #5

17 November 2014

fitspoJudging by the lack of Motivational Monday posts over the past couple of months, you’d be right in thinking I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated. However, with the weather finally getting colder and days getting shorter, I’m back into sorting out my rolls. A lot of people seem to be more active in the summer but I HATE getting hot and sweaty and feel like summer is a bit of a jolly so any serious exercise tends to take a back seat. I love running when it’s cold out (less sweat) and dark (people can’t see me) so I have been ON FIRE the past two weeks (realising you only have a few months before your wedding day and you still have to get through Christmas tends to jolt you into action). It hasn’t been easy but I’ve learnt a few things to keep me on track when I’m on the verge of giving up.

(Quick disclaimer – what I do might not work for everybody. This has just been my experience!)

Meal preparation

This is key. Ironically having a fridge packed full of food makes me super careful about what I shovel down my gullet. Every evening, I’ll assess the contents of the fridge and use My Fitness Pal to plan out the next day’s meals and snacks, and box up everything I need to take to work. Knowing exactly what my food ‘bank’ contains for the day is essential for keeping me on track. That means I can dip into my supplies as and when hunger strikes, safe in the knowledge I’m not going to overeat. If I fail to do this then the chances of me grabbing something carby and calorific on the go skyrockets, and screws up my mindset for the entire day.

Having a goal

Focusing purely on weight loss is only going to end in tears and disaster. Some weeks you’ll feel like your exercise regime has been enough to rival Usain Bolt’s and find you haven’t lost a single gram – I’ve been there and it’s quite frankly, soul destroying. However, I’ve found by shifting my goals from ‘I need to lose 20 pounds” to working on a fitness goal to be much kinder on the brain. I’m currently training for a sub-50 minute 10K by February, and tracking speed and distance progress is a lot more exciting than watching the scales. Don’t get me wrong, I still weigh myself but I’ve prioritised getting more exercise into my life over losing two pounds a week. It’s a much healthier way to live and by genuinely challenging myself, I make sure I don’t miss any runs on my schedule – which makes me feel great. The weight will come off but I try not to obsess over it.

You never regret a workout

This is what I tell myself at 5:45am when I’m snug as a bug in a rug and the last thing I want to do is get out of my pit. The level of regret I feel when I miss a workout is astronomical and I feel guilty about it all day. As much as I feel like I don’t want to get out there, it’s 100% true that you never EVER regret a workout. Just getting out of the damn bed and getting on with it ensures I’m at peace with myself and puts me in a healthy mindset for the rest of the day.

The early bird catches the worm

This ties in with my previous point. If, like me, your power animal is the sloth, waking up at an unspeakable hour to workout seems like a tall order. But it’s because I love nothing better than getting into my jammies at 6pm and cutting myself off from civilisation that my early morning workouts are vital. I’ve learned the hard way that as much as I promise myself I’ll go to the gym after work, it NEVER happens. A tiring day at the office and a stressful commute home put me in a foul mood and in no state to leave the flat until the next day. By getting my exercise in at 6am, I’m still half asleep when I leave and am much less likely to talk myself out of it. Plus, like I said, a healthy start to the day makes for a continued effort the rest of the day.

So, those are my little nuggets of advice. If anyone else is on a health and fitness journey please leave a comment – I’d love to know what you’re doing to keep yourself on track.

October 2014 Favourites

6 November 2014

october beauty favourites
Thanks to the recent clock change, SAD is well and truly setting in and the constant darkness is wreaking havoc with my blog photo-taking. I apologise in advance for any hideous images but there isn’t much that I can do that doesn’t involve actually being organised with my life.

L’Oreal True Match Foundation, W8 Golden Cappuccino £9.99

I first bought this a few years ago when I knew nothing about foundation. The colour was wrong, the tone was wrong and my face looked unspeakably wrong. However, all this talk about it being the cheap little sister of Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk (which I’ve never tried so can’t confirm) got me a bit hot under the collar so I repurchased it recently in my actual colour. I’m going to be honest – it’s the only drugstore foundation I’ve been reaching for this month. It’s quite a runny little bugger so it blends in quickly and evenly and it gives me nice coverage. I’ve had two whole compliments wearing this – it’s glowy, smooth and doesn’t emphasise my dryness. And bravo, L’Oreal for the wide shade AND tone selection and pump!

Tangle Teezer Compact Styler, £12.49

Not a new favourite as such but I’ve been appreciating teezing my tangles with this little one since getting my weave put in. Weave is notoriously prone to forming rats’ tails but this brush sorts it out in no time. It’s also the only brush that doesn’t cause me severe amounts of pain. I have no idea how they do it and I don’t care – I refuse to be without it. This compact version comes with a handy cover so withstands the manhandling it receives in my handbag.

Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade Dark Brown, £15.00

A heads-up for anyone in London: THERE IS AN ACTUAL SHOP THAT SELLS ANASTASIA PRODUCTS. Blow Ltd in Slingsby Place has a decent selection (as well as other elusive brands). I’d been umm-ing and ahh-ing about this for approximately 137 years as I didn’t know which colour would suit me best. I went for Dark Brown (along with the Anastasia Mini Duo Brush) and have literally worn it every single day. It’s surprisingly easy to use (my naughty brow has now become my good brow thanks to this) and doesn’t budge. The formula is smooth without being slippery so you get a decent amount of control – ESSENTIAL if you want Pinterest perfect brows.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay Cologne, £82

I got this last Christmas and definitely feel like it’s a colder-weather fragrance so I’ve been cracking it out over the past week or two. It’s fruity but quite crisp and a bit woody too. I’d say it’s feminine and elegant without being too girly or sweet. I love this but the scent wears off quicker than it takes Katie ‘Pricey’ Price to find a new husband. Being my only Jo Malone perfume, I can’t compare the staying power with other fragrances in the range but I’ve heard on the grapevine that Blackberry & Bay is the main offender.

Una Brennan Vitamin C+ Brighten Skin Renew Cleansing Oil, £10.99

This is another old purchase that I’ve developed a new love for. I usually use this as the first step in a double cleanse to get rid of all my makeup, especially if I’m wearing a lot of eye makeup. You can really massage this into your lashes and it doesn’t cause the colossal pain that makes you want to scoop out your eyeballs with a teaspoon like most cleansers do. I use this with a flannel to give my skin a good scrub and it leaves my skin bright and smooth without the greasiness you might expect from oil.

Mini Maybelline Haul

5 November 2014

maybelline-haul
Here ye, friends.

I was supposed to get my October favourites up for you today but I stupidly forgot to take the damn photographs. I did however make 2kg of chilli last night which will see me through the next five years’ dinners, leaving me more time for blogging and photo-taking. Three cheers for bulk beef!

Anyway, today I bring you a recent Maybelline haul from when Boots had a 3 for 2 on (which seems suspiciously permanent). Two items were blogger-enabled (can you guess which ones?!) and the other I managed to choose using my own free will which is becoming incredibly rare these days.

Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express Black Drama, £7.99

Whatever you think of Tanya Burr, you have to admit her lashes look fabulous. The Falsies from Maybelline is her weapon of choice so I had to try. On first impressions, I’m pleased to see this is a fibre wand rather than plastic which is becoming a rarity in these plastic-y times. The formula seems very wet too which makes me think it won’t be too clumpy – particularly good for the lower lashes.

Maybelline Instant Anti-Age Eraser Eye Concealer Nude, £7.99

My on-going battle with dark circles is driving me mad. After hearing the whole world and his horse rave about this, I had to try it. On first impressions, I like it. It’s not as heavy duty as I expected but it’s pleasant enough to use. People have complained about the applicator being a bit unsavoury but my gross-threshold is fairly high and it doesn’t bother me. I’m finding that the spongy tip is quite comforting and does a good job of blending.

Maybelline Colorsensational Lipstick Tantalizing Taupe, £6.99

‘The Buffs’ lipstick collection as our US friends know it, caught my eye when I was looking for a brown-nude lipstick. I thought this would be a good match but as usual, the colour I was interested in had no tester in Superdrug. I took the risk anyway. Having quickly tried this out, ‘Tantalizing Taupe’ is more ‘Tantalizing NOPE’. I’m going to play around with it some more, but worn alone, it’s way too light for me. Great colour though if you’re paler than me.

NOTD: Barry M Gelly Nail Paint Chilli

22 October 2014

barry m gelly chilliWhen it comes to nails, I don’t give a monkeys about seasonal colours. All this mumbo jumbo about coral only being allowed between May and August or fingers snapping off if you wear black in July – no sir – I’m living my life.

I was swayed, however, by the Barry M AW14 collection. I went into Boots for a nail polish that for the love of God wasn’t red and left with a red nail polish. Seriously. I need another red nail polish like I need a hole in the head. In my defence, Barry M Gelly Nail Paint in ‘Chilli’ is all kinds of hot. Yes it screams autumn but I most definitely won’t be casting this aside come spring.

It’s a sensual mix of red, brown and maroon and looks friggin’ amazing on. So much so, I’ve been wearing it on the daily for a solid ten days. And only one digit has experienced any kind of chipping. Admittedly, I did use Seche Vite on top but I refuse to accept that this alone is the sole reason for the minimal chipping.

Barry, whoever you are, I salute you.

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