Sunday, 26 February 2012

Bargain alert! MUA Professional eyeshadow palettes in Heaven and Earth and Dusk til Dawn, plus 3 in 1 eXtreme Contour Liner and Lip Gloss

I love nothing more than a bargain, and having heard such great things about the MUA Make Up Academy cosmetics range I had to take a little trip to Superdrug to check it out for myself... 

And I am so impressed! Great quality products for such small prices; on average most items cost well under £5. I decided to purchase two MUA eyeshadow palettes, a steal at £3 each on offer (usually £4- still a bargain!) a 3 in 1 eXtreme Contour Liner for £1.50, and a lip gloss for £1. See pictures and swatches below! 

Professional eyeshadow palettes in 'Heaven and Earth' & 'Dusk til Dawn' 
Each palette comes with 12 shadows; the Heaven & Earth collection is a palette of neutral colours, perfect for everyday wear, whereas the Dusk til Dawn palette houses a selection of bright and dark colours, brilliant for creating intense evening looks.

Heaven and Earth 
I love neutral colours and my make-up bag is bulging with different golds and browns, so I was very excited to find the Heaven and Earth palette- 12 neutrals in one handy slim-line compact. My favourites so far are the pale shimmery pink-gold (1st top row), the darker gold (3rd top row), the browny-aubergine (4th bottom row- it doesn't come out too well on camera, but it's a lovely shade) and the darker purpley-brown (6th bottom row). 

Swatches of Heaven and Earth- colours match palette layout

I was pleasantly surprised at the strength of the pigmentation of the shadows, as I thought they might be lacking in colour, considering the bargain price tag. Alas, I was wrong, and each shadow shows up very well on the skin. 

Dusk til Dawn 
I picked up the Dusk til Dawn palette on a bit of a whim, as it occurred to me that I always rely on neutrals and rarely branch out into other colours. I'm hoping this gorgeous selection will help! I do like a smoky eye occasionally, so the greys and silvers appealed, and I'd like to try plum and purple. My favourites are the dark grey silver (2nd top row), the dark purple-pink & lighter shimmery pink (5th and 6th top row), the inky dark blue (5th bottom row) and the very dark charcoal-silver (6th bottom row).  

Dusk til Dawn- colours match palette layout 
Again I was so impressed with the pigmentation, especially of the turquoise and blue colours which I feared would be a bit wishy-washy on application, but which are in fact very intense! Which means a little goes a long way, making it even better value for money. 

I chose shade 5 'Auburn' for the 3 in 1 eXtreme Contour Liner, as I was looking for a brown liner to use alongside the Heaven and Earth palette. 

3 in 1 eXtreme Contour liner 
The USP for the liner is that it can be used in three ways: according to the packaging, you can use the widest part of the nib to create 'Dramatic' eyes; the mid part to create a good smoky 'Glamorous' eye; and the tip of the nib to create a precise 'Ultra Chic' eye. It comes with little illustrations to aid you in your application, which is handy.  

Angled liner nib 
The liner feels very soft on contact with the skin, which limits tugging and pulling, making it easy to apply. 'Auburn' is a mid-brown colour. 

Auburn 3 in 1 eXtreme Contour Liner 
Just what I was looking for, and at only £1.50 a pop! 

Lastly, an MUA lipgloss in shade 5, a sheer peachy-pink. 

Lip gloss shade 5 
As far as gloss goes, this is pretty fab- it's not too sticky, the colour comes out sheer and shimmery, and it lasts for a good hour or so before re-application is needed. For £1, there really isn't anything to complain about! 

Wand applicator 
The colour upon application is pretty much what you can see on the wand- a sheer peachy pink. It also has a nice sweet smell. 

So there you go; a make-up bag revamp costing a bargain grand total of £8.50. Although I am tempted to go back and grab more MUA goodies to add to my collection...

Have you tried any MUA cosmetics? I'd love to know what you think :) 

MUA Make Up Academy official on-line shop

MUA products can be found in Superdrug stores. 

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Weekend bargain: The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream

While having a browse in The Body Shop recently I noticed that their Vitamin E Moisture Cream was on sale at 50% off, for £4.50 (50ml); so naturally I couldn't resist checking it out. 

I used to use the Vitamin E range when I was younger but for some reason haven't tried any Body Shop face products in a while. What first appealed to me about the Moisture Cream was the smell, which is slightly floral and gentle; the light pink colour of the cream and the light pink packaging; and the light texture of the cream, which is almost more like a lotion in terms of consistency.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream 
After cleansing I applied the cream, and I realised instantly that a little goes a long way, which is brilliant- a small dot of cream spreads easily and absorbs quickly. At first touch it feels, as I've said, more like a lotion, but once massaged into the skin it feels more nourishing than I thought it would be.  

It sinks in easily, meaning I was able to apply make-up on top pretty soon after application. I think my skin needs a slightly richer cream sometimes; luckily, there is also a Vitamin E night cream in the range which I tested while in The Body Shop, and which has a thicker, balmier consistency which I'm keen to try out. 

Overall, a good bargain buy at £4.50 on sale, with a lovely smell, light easily absorbed texture and pretty pink packaging.

Until my next Body Shop spree! 

The Body Shop 50% off Vitamin E Moisture Cream, usually £9 (limited time only)

Essential oils & facial massage: Sanctuary Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil

There has been such hype in the beauty industry about the benefits of facial cleansing oils that I thought I'd get in on the action and try one out for myself. I chose the Sanctuary's Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil as it promises to 'remove make-up, purify and moisturise in one'; and if there's anything my skin needs right now it's moisture!

Contrary to popular belief, using a facial cleansing oil doesn't increase oil production in the skin. It can in fact help regulate your skin's natural oils and lead to a more balanced complexion. So, for anyone with combination or oily skin, don't be afraid to get in on the action too! The great thing about this cleansing oil is that it rinses off as a milk and leaves no oily residue.

Sanctuary Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil 150ml 

The instructions on the back of the bottle advise massaging a few pumps of oil into dry skin, and the first thing I noticed upon doing so was the lovely scent- a combination of 'plant extracts and essential oils'. It smells so relaxing and uplifting, making it a real treat to use. After massaging for a minute or two, working especially on problem areas, I added a few splashes of warm water which turns the oil into a milk, massaging a little longer before rinsing clean.

My skin felt instantly smoother and the patches of red dermatitis I often experience on my cheeks/forehead felt soothed; pink instead of red and raised. My skin didn't feel tight at all, although I always add moisturiser after cleansing for an added skin drink.

The Sanctuary recommend cleansing twice, 'once for surface dirt, and a second time for deeper impurities', and as the oil smells so lovely and feels rather luxurious, it would make a great addition to a home spa facial, as well as being an ideal everyday cleanser.

A definite skin care hit :)

Sanctuary Youth Boosting Facial Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil £12.99 (150ml)

Full range of Sanctuary skin care products

Friday, 24 February 2012

Chocoholics unite! The Body Shop Chocomania range: shower cream, body scrub, body butter & lip butter

This post should come with a warning: the following products, on purchase, may cause you to drool/want to lick yourself. Therefore I suggest having a chocolate bar close at hand when bathing with The Body Shop's new Chocomania range, in order to alleviate such cravings. Trust me, you'll need it! (Just so you know, the bottles come with a warning sign: unfit for consumption. So as much as you might want to consume them, don't!)

If you're a chocolate fan you'll most definitely appreciate the scent of Chocomania shower cream, body scrub, body butter and lip butter. Unlike some chocolate scented products produced by other brands, these actually smell like chocolate. Real, creamy, cocoa-y, buttery chocolate. Mmm. There's no other way to explain it; sweet, sugary but not sickly, warm and luxurious.

Chocomania Shower Cream 
I bought the products this morning and decided to test them out this evening. First up, the shower cream. Now don't be alarmed at the brown colour. Yes, it may seem a little bit strange at first but the smell more than makes up for the colour, especially as it really does seem as if you're bathing in chocolate sauce (in a very good way!) It lathers up excellently and has a gorgeous creamy texture. Did I mention the smell?!

I then opened the body scrub, which at first glance might also be said to look a little strange; dark brown, the colour of a baked chocolate brownie. But, oh, the smell! This is the product that smells the most authentically like a real bar of chocolate, so much so that I really did want to lick my arm and see if it tasted as good as I thought it might (I didn't though, hence the handy chocolate bar I nibbled on post-bath!)

Chocomania Body Scrub 
The scrub has a thick, gooey texture and rubs in easily, with a mixture of small and large buffers that really help slough away dead skin. It worked a treat at smoothing the tops of my arms and my sad winter feet.  

To finish I used the body butter. I've tried lots of Body Shop body butters in the past, including coconut, mango and olive, and they've all been great quality. This didn't let me down. Thick, with a balm-like texture which melts on contact with the skin, it sinks in quickly and leaves behind that scrumptious chocolate scent. It feels indulgent, a sophisticated chocolate body product rather than the cheaper ones you see on the high street. It's worth the investment if you're a die-hard chocoholic like me. 

And I just couldn't resist the matching lip butter, which shares that same delicious scent. It has a creamy texture and feels moisturising; and as it's applied to the mouth I think I can get away with giving it a few licks without anyone thinking I'm truly bonkers. Mmm. 

Chocomania lip butter 

Chocoholics unite and let me know what you think of the Chocomania range! 

Chocomania Body Scrub & Body Butter (200ml each)on offer 2 for £15 at The Body Shop (24/2/2012)

Shower Cream £4 (250ml)

Lip Butter £4 (10ml)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Bourjois spree: healthy mix serum foundation, powder & concealer, and lip treats

I can't resist a bit of Bourjois, and this month's purchases include face products and some lip treats. I picked up the new 'healthy mix serum foundation' in '51 Vanille clair', the palest shade available, as well as the matching 'healthy balance' compact powder in '52 vanille' and the 'Touche healthy mix' concealer brush (I can't find the shade written anywhere; I know it was the palest one!). 

Bourjois healthy mix powder, concealer & gel serum foundation 

The products share a very pleasant apricot scent and colour-wise the powder and concealer match very well. I was intrigued by the gel serum foundation as it sounded like it would have a nice light texture, and the guide on the back of the bottle suggests it gives a 'semi-matte finish' with one square out of three shaded to denote the level of coverage. It certainly does have a nice texture, almost like a moisturiser rather than a foundation, and it's easy to blend in terms of smoothness. The only problem I've had is that the shade is slightly too yellow-toned for my complexion. I tend to need more of a pink-toned base, so it doesn't really blend in perfectly with my skin tone. It does feel moisturising though, and gives good light coverage.

The concealer, on the other hand, matches my skintone and blends in perfectly. It gives great coverage to dark circles and has a light liquid consistency, making it very easy to blend. A little goes a long way, which makes it good value for money. I use the powder to set the rest of my make-up and it also feels nice and light rather than cakey or heavy. 

I also picked up some lip treats:

Bourjois 'Sweet Kiss' lipstick in '11 Rose Innocence' & 'Effet 3D' gloss in '05'

Lipstick on left, gloss on right 

I love pinky lipsticks and glosses, and have been searching for a nude-pink lipstick to wear as an everyday colour. When applied it's got a matte texture and gives a 'blush' of colour which I like (although you can layer it up to make it more intense). The gloss is a darker pink, infused with shimmery bits (I love shimmer!) and comes out slightly lighter than the colour it is in the tube. I'm a big fan of Bourjois lipglosses as they feel very moisturising and have good staying power. 

All products featured came in at under £10 each. 

Until next pay day! :p 

In desperate need of hair help! John Frieda Full Repair range

As a regular hair highlighter (and sheepish haircut dodger) I dread having dry, frazzled hair. I've been on the lookout for some nourishing products to hopefully help revive my style... I'm hoping I can prolong a visit to the hairdressers for as long as possible, as it's so expensive! 

I came across the new Full Repair range by John Frieda when I was in Boots and decided to see what it could do for my lacklustre locks. First up, Full Repair Full Body Shampoo, Conditioner and Deep Conditioner Mask:

Shampoo & conditioner £5.69, Deep Conditioner £5.99 (Boots)

I'd like to point out how great these products smell! I can't quite describe it, other than to say it's a sweet but not fruity smell, a creamy kind of scent, kind of like fabric softener but in a good way! They smell like they'd be nourishing, which is a good sign :p The shampoo lathers up really well, producing lots of creamy bubbles and rinsing out easily. My hair felt smoother as soon as I'd rinsed the bubbles out, which I took to be a promising start. I used the Deep Conditioner next followed by the normal conditioner (top tip for intensive hydration: shampoo, deep condition, condition). The Deep Conditioner has a good thick consistency and easily spreads through hair. It rinsed out easily too, rather than sticking. The normal conditioner also felt very thick and creamy. After towel drying my hair I used some of the matching styling products:

Full Repair Perfect Ends serum, Styling Spray & Perfect Ends Sheer Mist 

The Perfect Ends serum (£6.99) is quite runny when squirted from the bottle so I'd suggest a very light push on the pump to start with! It was easy to comb through hair, as was the styling spray (£6.99) and the Perfect Ends Sheer Mist (£6.99), which I aimed at the ends of my hair rather than all over.

The result? Having blow-dried my hair I could see I had less fly-aways and the ends of my hair looked healthier. The dry fluffiness I usually experience was gone, and my hair felt smoother to the touch. I've been using the Full Repair range for a couple of weeks now and it definitely helps nourish dry hair while giving a good dose of shine. 

Full range of John Frieda Full Repair products at Boots

New winter skincare: Boots No7 Beautiful Skin

I suffer from occasional flare-ups of contact dermatitis on my face and have to be careful about which brands I use and which I avoid. Apparently it can be triggered by stress and I do tend to find that if I'm going through a difficult time my skin mirrors my mood. Perhaps a blog post about meditation is needed?! For now I'll focus on finding gentle products for sensitive skin :)

Upon hearing about the new Boots No7 Beautiful Skin skincare range, which takes the shape of a three-step skincare system similarly to more expensive brands, I just had to try it out to see if it lives up to its promise of making problem skin 'behave like normal skin'. High expectations! There are three ranges of products based on skin type: Normal/Oily, Normal/Dry and Dry/Very Dry. I chose the Melting Gel Cleanser for Normal/Dry skin (£9), as a I like using water to cleanse and it seemed a gentle option; the Normal/Dry Day Cream with SPF 15 and 5* UVA (£12.50); and the Dry/Very Dry Night Cream (£13.50) for an added evening moisture boost. 

No7 Cleansing Melt, Day Cream, Night Cream
Cleansing Melt Normal/Dry skin 
The cleansing melt goes through a three-step transformation when squeezed out of the tube: it starts as a gel before turning into an oil when applied to the skin, before finally transforming into a milk, making it super easy to rinse with no residue left behind. I really like the way the oil feels as if it's giving a thorough clean without leaving skin dry or tight, and it smells refreshing yet not overpowering. I've noticed less random spot attacks since using it every evening to remove make-up. 

The creams have a nice consistency, almost gel-like rather than thick or cloggy. The Day Cream sinks into skin easily although I feel it could be a touch more moisturising (perhaps the Dry/Very Dry would be better suited to my skin type)although it does make a great base for make-up. 

Beautiful Skin Day Cream and Night Cream 
The Night Cream is richer, and also sinks in easily without leaving a greasy residue (my pet hate). I have noticed that it stings a little around the nose and sometimes on areas of my face that are drier than usual. However, since using the three products and getting into a routine I've had far less outbreaks of dermatitis and my skin has stayed steady in terms of appearance and texture. I'm going to keep using them and see how my skin looks after a month or two. Hopefully it will continue to improve :)  

Full range of No7 Beautiful Skin products

Benefit goodies: Watt's Up, Sugarbomb, and Ultra Shines lipgloss

Ooh I do love a trip to the Benefit counter! I usually wait until special occasions to ask for products as gifts, as they can be on the pricey side, but they're so worth the money and I've got my eye on some items that I don't think I'll be able to wait for... 

My latest Benefit goodies were given to me as birthday/Christmas presents *thanks guys!* I was lucky enough to be given the new Watt's Up highlighter cream stick, Sugarbomb blusher and an Ultra Shines lipgloss in 'Foxy Lady'. 

If you're looking for a multi-tasker then Watt's Up is definitely it: I use it as a highlighter on my cheekbones and brow bones, as a cream eyeshadow and even on lips to add a little shimmer to colour. 

Benefit Watt's Up

Benefit Watt's up and Foxy Lady gloss 

I love the champagne gold colour and the creamy consistency of the highlighter; it makes for easy blending, as does the little sponge applicator on the bottom of the packaging (see pic above: on top is the highlighter stick, on bottom is the sponge applicator). 

Benefit Watt's up- creamy gold colour 

As for the lipgloss, I'm completely obsessed and repeatedly chased my mum around in the weeks leading up to Christmas making sure she knew the name of the colour I was lusting after :p I'm a huge fan of Benefit lipglosses, as they always feel nice and thick but not too sticky, and the pigmentation matches what you see in the tube. 'Foxy Lady' is a bright pink colour packed with shimmer, yet it's very wearable and not too punchy. I find it brightens up my skin if I'm looking particularly tired, and for that reason alone I love it! Definitely my fave lipgloss at the moment.

Ultra Shines gloss in 'Foxy Lady'- strong pink shimmer 

Benefit Sugarbomb blusher

Sugarbomb is another product I'd been lusting after for ages and my boyfriend surprised me with it for my birthday :) It consists of four powder blush colours: a light orangey-tan, a bright coral, a bright pink and a darker pink/mauve. When swirled together with a big fluffy bronzing brush (my favourite tool, it seems!) it delivers a gorgeous tanned, healthy colour to cheeks. It can, however, be easy to get carried away, and I have found that if I accidentally load too much colour on from the orangey section I end up looking a bit too tan (I'm very pale!)As long as you get a sweep from each of the four sections it should come out evenly when applied :) 

Next on my Benefit wish list is the new Hervana face powder and BADgal plum mascara, which is an old fave that I've run out of. Need to start saving those pennies! Watch this space! 

Hervana face powder

BADgal plum mascara

Italian haul: BasicBeauty and Kiko Make Up Milano

As a self-professed beauty junkie I couldn't resist picking up some goods last summer when I visited Cagliari, Sardinia with my boyfriend and his (Sardinian) family. I actually managed to forget my make-up case *cue tears and much stamping of my feet* but luckily the boyfriend's aunt new EXACTLY where to go. 

I was introduced to two amazing make-up shops: BasicBeauty and Kiko Make Up Milano. They literally sell nothing but make-up, make-up, make-up :D I was beside myself! They sell their own brand products, which I was more than happy to stock up on. In terms of UK equivalents I'd say BasicBeauty matches Rimmel and Maybelline whereas Kiko Make Up Milano is closer to Revlon or Maxfactor. The products were all reasonably priced, with eyeshadows, glosses and nail polishes coming in at around €5-10 and foundations, concealors and compacts under €15.   

First up was a trip to BasicBeauty, a shop located in central Cagliari near a cluster of clothes and jewellery shops, conveniently located right next to a great pizzeria. I came face to face with rows and rows of eye make-up, foundations and concealors, lipglosses, nail polishes...

BasicBeauty collection
BasicBeauty eyeshadows 'OP07' & 'OP05' and bronzer 'Terra Cotta' 

I couldn't resist the bronzer which is packed with golden shimmer (be warned: less is more!), two neutral eyeshadows which work as everyday basics, a gold nail polish to complement my summer tan ('NR.23'), and a light pink shimmery lipgloss. Although the bronzer is more of a summer item, the eyeshadows and lipgloss have seen me through the winter. The pigmentation of the shadows isn't brilliant but they were under €5 so I wasn't expecting miracles! The lipgloss comes out as a bubblegum light pink colour and feels very moisturising. 

BasicBeauty lipgloss 'GL06'

Next up was Kiko Make Up Milano, a shop located in a shopping mall in the 'suburbs' of Cagliari. I found Kiko even more exciting than BasicBeauty as the product packaging looks a little more expensive and professional and I found the range of products and colours on offer more extensive. Here's my Kiko haul:

Kiko Make Up Milano collection 
I found myself drawn to the fuchsia pink glittery gloss ('Instant Volume Lipgloss 12')and the pearl highlighter compact ('Silky Touch Powder: Almond Translucency'), which was part of a special summer collection.  It comes out EXTREMELY shimmery on the skin so you only need to lightly sweep a bronzing brush over the surface to get the right amount of shimmer needed to highlight cheekbones. It also works as a nude eyeshadow and for highlighting the brow bone and collar bone. I have a *slight* addiction to nude nail polishes and found the pale pink one in the sale section for €1. 50. I liked the greige colour of the middle nail polish and couldn't resist getting another gold one!  

Kiko Extra Volume lipgloss '12'

Kiko nail laquer '221', '319', '219' 

Kiko Make Up Milano advertise their mascaras as their go-to product, with each one costing under €5. I picked up the 'Unforgettable Mascara' in Black and it really is brilliant; it lengthens, adds definition and volume, and gives a very rich black colour when applied. The curved brush makes it easy to apply, lifting the eyelashes and making it possible to apply close to the lash line. I actually bought three: two for me (well I won't be going back for another year!) and one for my mum. 

Kiko Unforgettable mascara with curved brush 

I'm already making a list of items I'd like to stock up on when I go back to Cagliari in the summer :) 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Lip balm addiction and thoughts of summer sun

New blog new blog new blog! I'm not ashamed to admit I've given in to my beauty addiction and have finally set up a blog to indulge my habits. I'm a regular visitor of Boots and Superdrug on pay day, and spend a lot on beauty bits and bobs, so thought it time to write down my finds and favourites. Um, please excuse the photographs, my camera isn't the best and I'm still navigating my way around it... I'm sure they will improve over time *crosses fingers*

This week I've fully given in to my lip balm obsession. With news of the new Soap & Gloy 'A Great Kisser' lip balms I HAD to hit Boots and grab all three flavours. And trust me, I showed serious dedication by visiting four different stores before finally getting my hands on the goods! 

'A Great Kisser' Soap & Glory lip balms

As you can see from the pic above, there are three flavours/colours. From left: Juicy Peach, Sweet Coconut, and Chocolate Cherry. They leave more of a glossy finish rather than a balm, which I really like. They're incredibly long lasting and really do soothe chapped lips. My fave in terms of colour has to be Chocolate Cherry, which delivers a reddy sheer tint; my fave in terms of scent has to be Juicy Peach, which smells delicious. Sweet Coconut is growing on me, having perhaps neglected it in favour of the others so far. It leaves a nice subtle shimmer and works well on top of other lip colours as a clear gloss. 

Being the Soap & Glory obsessive that I am, I was expecting good things and these little beauties don't disappoint. Best thing is, they cost a very reasonable (in my opinion) £5 each.  

My next purchase was from a brand I haven't really visited since my early teens, but which I was surprised to discover has some great products for summer: 17 at Boots. I picked up the new Instant Glow Pink Bronze Bronzing Rocks based purely on how pretty they look in the packaging: 

17 at Boots Bronzing Rocks 

The rocks are a mixture of pink, gold and bronze and when used with a bronzing brush (which 17 also sell for under £3) they deliver a sheer wash of pinky-pearl colour. I've been using them mainly as a highlighter on my cheekbones and nose, brushing over the pink rocks in particular, although if you load your brush with more colour from the bronze rocks you'll see it will make a great bronzer come summer. The rocks come with a little sponge applicator which is handy if you're on the move, although I've found that using a big fluffy brush works much better at ensuring even application. All for £4.99 :) 

Do feel free to comment with any new product finds or long-standing faves. There's nothing wrong with indulging in thoughts on beautiful things every so often ;)