Friday, 27 March 2015

March 2015 Favourites Friday Video

I'm away this weekend so I may not be able to embed this video before I go so please if it's not below then just follow this link... and you can also have a looky at my other videos.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

La Roche Posay Cicaplast Hand Cream

I have spent the last decade (more?) looking for the perfect hand cream. And I have tried some really great ones, some terrible ones too of course, but some that are so close to perfect and yet, just not quite good enough. This isn't a big announcement that I've found the Holy Grail of hand creams but this is as close as I've come and teamed with the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream my poor over-washed, over-anti-bacterialed hands have been in pretty good shape for the past couple of months.

I use the Norwegian formula (review to come soon) during the day mostly because it is easier to come across and it is slightly more easily absorbed than the La Roche Posay. But every night I've been using the Cicaplast hand cream and it has made a visible difference. It says to use every 2 hours or as needed but I would be getting through tubes of the stuff and it does kind of sit on the hands for a little while which makes going in for the next nappy change/brush clean/dog wrangle a bit tricky - I don't want to waste it. But it is a protective barrier so probably that sort of thing is exactly what it's for. I should get a grip.

The 'invisible glove-like effect' that they promise actually feels like a make-up primer for the hands, silky smooth, not annoyingly sticky or oily, and provides a protective barrier. It's 30% glycerin which accounts for the moisture and 4% Niacinamide an anti-inflammatory so perfect if your skin is irritated or sore, though if that is the case I would say apply this every 2 hours or as you need it. It is quite easy to get hold of, it seems to sometimes be in Boots, and incredibly reasonably priced. It's about £5!

Completely converted to La Roche Posay hand creams - I'm going to try the Lipikar hand cream next.

After writing this I walked past my local chemist in West London and saw that they stocked LRP products. Guess how much they were charging for this. £15.95!!! That's a 200% mark up. Shop sensibly people. 

What You Need to Know - La Roche Posay Cicaplast Hand Cream 
  • £5-£6.50 depending on where you shop
  • 50ml
  • Contains -  glycerin, niacinamide, Shea butter and some alcohols
  • Available in the UK from Escentual, Feel Unique, and sometimes Boots.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Beauty Blenders

One of the things I get asked about a lot is make-up brushes. Which brush works best for a certain product, skin type or look, what the brush does that I'm using on a client, what my favourite brand of brushes are and the answer is constantly changing. Yes there are some brands that I think are very reliable in terms of quality and there are lots out there that I haven't got round to trying yet so can't pass comment on, but one of the most asked questions is what's the best brush for applying foundation for problem or more mature skins and I used to recommend a stippling brush. However, recently I have been favouring a Beauty Blender so I thought it would be useful to do a little feature on beauty blenders - the original and those from other brands, specifically the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge because this is the high street alternative, the easiest to get hold of.

Oh how easy I thought this review would be. I use the Beauty Blender all the time when I'm working, how could something £10 cheaper be as good? But actually, the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is not bad. If I could only take one to my desert island yes I would probably stick with the trusty beauty blender but I think probably for my own personal use in the future I may well be nipping out to Boots to get the much more reasonably price Real Techniques alternative.

Blogging has got a lot harder with the rise of the 'prosumer' those who want to buy pro make-up products to use on themselves. Now of course you can buy whatever you like buy often buying something to have in your pro-kit is expensive and designed to be used whatever you are faced with. If you are buying something for yourself you shouldn't need an entire palette of different coloured concealers, for example and I believe it's a waste of money. So although I will probably continue to use the Beauty Blender for work that doesn't mean I think you should run out and buy it if you are just doing your own make-up. Though if you want to, then buy the Beauty Blender cleanser at the same time, look after the blender and it should last you a long time. It's a sensible investment.

The Beauty Blender - you have probably seen these 'pink eggs' (as Ned calls them) around. What's so great about them? Well you must use them wet (run under a tap and squeeze out all excess water) but then you can pretty much apply any product you want with this. Usually people stick to foundation and concealer but this works beautifully with cream blushers, cream contour and even works with powder products. Kandee Johnson uses hers for EVERYTHING you can watch her rave review of it here.

The beauty blender is latex-free so won't soak up your make-up and will give you a great finish - if you have problem or mature skin then this will really help your application. Because you can efficiently build up coverage where you need it by bounce and rolling the sponge then you can get a great light finish where you don't need a fuller coverage. In fact the blender is made up of specially patented sponge material designed exactly for this purpose - to work with make-up and skin and not to soak up product. And this does give the ultimate finish which has the edge over the other sponges I've used - this is the only product (apart from the Blender Cleanser) from this company so you'd expect it to be great.

The shape is great - use the rounded sides all over the face and the pointed tip where you need more precision - around the nose, under the eyes etc. The Beauty Blender is £16 (you can often get a package deal with the cleanser and every order at the time of writing this gets a free sample of the solid brush cleaner) and actually that's about what you'd pay for a mid-range good make-up brush so not that bad.

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge - now it's harder to get any in-depth info on this though I have been told it is also latex-free. A lot of you will probably know about Real Techniques but for those of you who haven't they are a brand of brushes (and sometimes make-up) designed and made with the lovely Sam and Nic of Pixiwoo fame. Available on the high street and reasonably priced these brushes are loved by pro-artists and consumers alike. It's no wonder they wanted to add a blender-type sponge to the range and it is a great sponge with a unique design.

With the rounded edge and pointed tip of the Beauty Blender this sponge also has a flat edge which I have found absolutely fantastic for applying cream blusher to the cheeks.

I'm not entirely convinced that this doesn't absorb some product which is why I'm not telling you all to renounce the Beauty Blender and buy this exclusively. It also says you can use it wet or dry but I think to avoid make-up absorption you should use this wet. Cleans really well with the Beauty Blender cleanser but you can use any (non-acid containing) cleanser. It's £5.99 and available from any Real Techniques stockist so Boots for example making it much easier to get hold of than the Beauty Blender.

So at a push I prefer the Beauty Blender and will continue to use this in my pro-kit and the kit-demoted ones on myself but if I want a new sponge for me I will be nipping out to the nearest high street stockist and getting a Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. A very good high street alternative. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Lush H'Suan Wen Hua Hair Moisturiser

I have a love hate relationship with hair treatments and moisturisers. I need them for the poor fried ends of my hair and (usually) really like the end result but have the minutes and minutes and hours or cold drips down my neck or having to use a clean towel as a turban. So because I'm inherently lazy I usually let my hair into really bad condition before I can bring myself to use a conditioning treatment (except the Philip Kinglsey Elasticizer which I love).

I reluctantly purchased H'Suan Wen Hua from Lush, persuaded that it was what I needed by the charming man and I imagined another chilly sad morning spent be-turbaned and sad. I was totally wrong this stuff is amazing, not only for the effect it has on your hair which is lovely, but it sort of dries after you put it on so there are no drips! I actually put it on before I got to the gym (not a great look it has to be said) then off I go. It doesn't go horribly hard and crispy, just sort of dryer than a conditioning treatment usually does.

If you are too busy to naff about with hair treatments then this is the one for you and if you are a lover of a bit of pampering then this is lovely when left on for ages, even overnight. It's mostly made up of natural ingredients and when I say that I mean really natural, slightly strange to read even if you are a regular user of Lush products. I would like to mention that this smells lovely and not at all like any of the things I'm about to list.

So this contains... fresh organic free-range eggs (to condition the hair, the high protein content strengthens and adds shine), fresh avocado's (to nourish and soften), fresh bananas (for softening and conditioning to add sleekness and control), rosemary oil (to add shine). So as you can see this product is geared towards adding shine and nourishment to the hair but it's not heavy so if, like me, you have fine hair, it's not going to weigh it down. And no I have no idea how to pronounce it, I've just been telling people to go into Lush and ask for the unpronounceable hair treatment.

What You Need to Know - H'Suan Wen Hua hair moisturiser
  • £9.75/US$20.95
  • 225g
  • Massage into dry hair and leave for 20 minutes
  • Contains free-range eggs, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, rosemary oil and bananas
  • Available in the UK from Lush
  • Available in the US from Lush

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Maybelline Brow Drama

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with brow products. I need them for my professional work and then I'm quite picky about what I use, but I don't really need them myself and therefore don't spend a lot of time trying and testing them. I also really don't like the latest trend that seems to be overtaking Instagram for very strong, very obviously drawn on brows that are all you can look at and this makes me a little adverse to looking at any brow products on the high st.

I do however like to have a bit of good brow gel in my personal make-up collection to really make my make-up look polished if I'm going out and to set any brow pencil I've used to fill in the gaps. I've been happily using Benefit's Speed Brow but just because that's what I had and it used to be available near my house. Not any more so I thought I would try Maybelline's Browdrama as I've heard some really mixed reviews and that always makes me want to check something out for myself.

This product is perfect for what I want. I have quite dark brows with a few scars that sometimes I fill and sometimes I don't. I want to set them and define a bit but not make them look anything other than natural brows. I picked up the Brow Drama in light brown and it's absolutely fine for my colouring. Available in three colours and transparent for those who want it and for only £4.99 for 12mls (compared to £13 for the Benefit Speed Brow which is more like 10ml) this is a great product as long as you don't expect too much from it.

It will give slight definition and enhancement to your brows by coating the hairs. It will also help set any pencil or powder you have used to add shape but it is not enough on it's own if you want to draw your brows on. This seems to be the main problem people have with it. If you want to draw your brows on then you need a good pencil (Anastasia Beverly Hill are the ones I have in my kit, L'Oreal do nice ones and Shu Uemura are apparently very good too though I haven't tried these personally), you can use powders (I have a made up quad or MAC eyeshadows - if you ask in store someone can help you choose the right colours, or HD Brow palettes are good) or you can now get brow pomades that you can use with a brush (again Anastasia Beverly Hills do this but I've yet to try). It is completely up to you what you need and like - my personal brow pencils are from L'Oreal and Laura Mercier. Brow gels that come in a tube like the Maybelline Brow Drama are really only going to be good for finishing off the brows and setting them and the other products used. You won't ever get the precision needed using a spooly brush.

Which brings me to the brush. I love it, a lot of people don't. I love it because I find it very easy to use as you can angle it however you need depending on what part of the brow you are doing - it's incredibly quick. I don't see how you'd ever really be able to use the lower straight part of the brush without running the risk of blotting the gel on other parts of your face but please feel free to enlighten me on that. It is long lasting, the colour is great and on the ashy rather than red side of brown which is exactly what you want in a brow product.

What You Need to Know - Maybelline Brow Drama
  • £4.99
  • Available in Deep Blonde, Medium Brown, Dark Brown and Transparent
  •  Globe shaped applicator
  • Get it in the UK from Boots, Superdrug, Feel Unique,

Monday, 9 March 2015

New from Make Up For Ever

The make-up industry is growing and changing at such a rate that it's hard to keep up with everything that comes out and it's easy to fall out of touch with brands. During a recent demonstration at (my favourite shop) PAM I was introduced to a whole lot of new products from Make Up For Ever and completely fell back in love with this brand. It also reminded me that as much as I love applying make-up I also just adore watching other artists at work and this demonstration was no exception - and incredibly refreshing to see something bright and creative rather than an advertorial smokey eye (as much as I love them). Kicking myself for not getting the artists name (or asking her where she got her lovely boots from).

I'm not going to give a full run down on how she created the finished look but I thought I'd share some pictures and

a few of the stand out products for me (if I can read my notes, very hard to write fast with a big bump in the way).
The finished look - my picture doesn't do the vibrant colours justice

New Step 1 Skin Equalizers
  • Currently available in hydrating (for dehydrated skin), nourishing (for dry skin), mattifying (for oily skin) and smoothing (for all skin but great for more mature and acne prone). These primers are usable on their own, on top of moisturiser or together for specific zones of the face. 
  • Being added to this range are 7 other skin correcting and radiance primers specific to skin colour or desired effect. A light blue primer for pale skins with slight redness, less extreme than the green primer which is for darker skins with redness. Banana primer which is great to lighten dark skins or add glow to paler skins. Peach which adds brightness and is great under the eyes for dark circles and Caramel a lovely primer for darker skins and ideal for those of us who have to even out skin on men who don't want to wear make-up!
  • These four standard primers are available in 15ml (£14.50) and 30ml (£26.95) and the new radiance and correcting ones only available in 30ml. I'm hoping this will change as it would be great if you could buy all of these as 15ml in a pack - a kit must have I would have thought.

Face and Body Fluid
  • A possible rival for MAC's Face and Body? I don't know as I've only tested this on the back of my hand but it has a beautiful light finish and is buildable. 
  • Water-based and water-resistant. 
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Available in 18 shades
  • £30.25 for 15ml

Pro Finish
  • Foundation and powder in one, you can use this with a sponge or beauty blender to get the full coverage of a foundation or with a brush to set make-up and mattify shine. 
  • Great for blending over any mistakes or freshening make-up that's been on all day. 
  • Doesn't contain very much talc so great for on-set touchups
  • Available in 24 colours 
  • £29.75 
New Synthetic Brushes
148 blending brush
  • Though they will continue producing a small range of their natural brushes this new range of synthetic brushes is seriously impressive and there are 75 on offer. 
  • Choose between wavy (softer) or straight (more rigid) bristles there are some really interesting shapes available. 
  • The stand out ones for me were the 140 highlighter brush (actually looked fantastic for blending) and the 148 blending brush.

New Artist Shadows 
  • With water technology that make the powder feel more creamy in texture, are longer lasting with a more intense colour pay-off.
  • Available in matte and four new finishes metallic (ME), diamond (D), Satin (S) and iridescent (I).
New Ink Liner
  • A liquid liner with a precision tip and matte finish. The blackest liner you'll find apparently. 
  • £17.50
New Smokey Stretch Mascara
  • Silicone applicator
  • Good for lashes that need definition not volume or for shorter lashes. 
  • Available in black
  • You can get separate mascara applicators for this - make-up artists rejoice
  • £19.75

My Make Up For Ever Wish List...
Ink Liner

If you are in the Shepherds Bush area I really recommend checking out PAM which is just off the Goldhawk Road. A true treasure trove for make-up artists and those wanting to get their hands on some harder to get products.

12 Flash Colour Case in Cinema (foundation case underneath)

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Nip + Fab Detox Blend Bath Soak and Body Scrub

Finding a body scrub that effectively exfoliates dry skin without leaving it angry and red is quite difficult so I was really impressed with Nip + Fab's Detox Blend Body Scrub. It exfoliates but gently so was perfectly suited to my dry, sensitive skin. I've been trying it out for a month, using it once or twice a week on the tops of my arms and they are smoother and softer. If you want something really hardcore (I don't know why you would) then this isn't it. The exfoliating ingredient is very fine pieces of walnut shell - your bath won't be gritty after using it - which is hard enough to be an effective exfoliator but won't break up and become harsh on the skin.Great for getting the tops of your arms ready for spring and at £9.99 for 200ml so should last you a while if you use it once or twice a week. I wouldn't recommend using this on your face.

The Nip + Fab Detox Blend Bath Soak I wasn't sure of at first as it's quite an unusual smell (if you know what Tea Tree smells like then you'll know what I mean) but I genuinely believe it has been relaxing me when I've used it and now I deliberately soak in it after a stressful day. Tea Tree, Green tea and jasmine work together to rejuvenate and detox the body and mind though I can't vouch for it actually detoxing the body tea tree has long been used on the skin for skin allergies and as an antiseptic. Frankincense oil is believed to be comforting and stress busting and this bath soak makes a great change from my usual nice-smell-but-nothing-else bath choices. For 217ml I think this is very reasonably priced at £8.99.

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