Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Jen’s skincare routine – July 2014

In April, Kay shared the skincare routine that’s been keeping her looking fabulous. This month it's my turn to share the contents of my bathroom cabinet. (Actually, last month should have been my turn but the whole moving house thing really got in the way of the important stuff!)

I have to admit I put my skin through a lot. Yes I eat well and yes, I drink plenty of water, but I also drink a little too much alcohol and get nowhere near enough sleep. So while, like all good beauty junkies, I’m frequently trying new products, I decided to give my skin a break and subsequently I've been trying out this pretty stripped-back version of my skincare routine. It's actually working very well, so I guess sometimes you just need to go with the tried-and-tested and give your poor skin a break!



Clarins Extra Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleanser, £25 for 100ml
I still absolutely love this cleanser, it’s so gentle yet effective – proof (if you should need it) that treating your skin gently really pays off! Trust me, harsh cleansers and scrubs really aren’t necessary and can be counter-productive. You can read my full review of this cleanser here.
Most definitely! Really impressed with how long a bottle of this lasts though.


Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, £22 for 125ml
So this balm is technically another cleanser, but it removes eye makeup so effectively that I haven’t needed anything else. This is pretty impressive because, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I can be a bit heavy handed on the old eye makeup for a night out! You only need a very small amount and it effectively dissolves every trace of makeup (although prepare to look like a panda in the process, something that greatly amuses my husband). You can then just wipe it away with tissue or a face cloth. Personally I can work it right into my eyelashes without it stinging, which is a bonus. In fact, I think this stuff is worthy of a full review so I may have to write that soon. It is a little greasy so I do like to follow it with a proper cleanse.
Yes! It is very effective and much more environmentally friendly than the makeup removers I used to use that required at least two cotton pads every night.


Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner, £25 for 125ml
So this is a ‘two birds with one stone’ kind of product that acts as exfoliator and toner. I used to use Clinique’s Exfoliating Scrub, and still do if I feel my skin needs it, but on a regular basis I think it’s a bit harsh for skin as you move into your thirties and beyond. You just can’t abuse your skin like you used to and expect it to bounce back! So a chemical exfoliator does the job of removing dead skin and brightening without scrubbing it to death. You only need to use this twice a week (don’t go crazy with the chemical stuff!) but it does a great job of refreshing the skin and keeping it in top condition.
Have done before and will again!


Sanctuary 5 Minute Thermal Detox Mask, £10.50 for 100ml 
I first discovered this mask a couple of years back when I received a sachet of it in a Sanctuary gift set that Kay gave me one Christmas. I’ve been hooked ever since! It is a grey mask that heats up when you apply it to your face (don't ask me how) then cools as you let it work its magic. Apparently the heat opens up pores allowing the charcoal and clay to draw out impurities. I try and use this once a week in the evening but failing that, I always grab it when I feel my skin is on the brink of something bad (you know what I mean ladies, you can just tell when it’s about to give you grief) or simply looking a tad dull, and I always wake up the next day with healthier, happy-looking skin.
I’m always up for trying other face masks but I inevitably come back to this one, it really is my favourite.


Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Brighten dark Circles Eye Cream, £12.99 for 15ml
I’m going to be honest with you, I’m still getting through the Super Facialist by Una Brennan eye cream that I reviewed back in May. I wasn’t kidding when I said a little goes a long way! I’m determined to use it up as it is a nice moisturising eye cream and I hate waste, but as soon as it’s done I’ll be on the lookout for something new that actually helps with the dark circles. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
Nope, sorry Una.


The Body Shop Overnight Serum In Oil, £12 for 28ml
I read a lot of rave reviews a few month’s back when this serum first burst onto the scene, so I dutifully headed to The Body Shop to see what all the fuss was about. After applying it to my hand it absorbed quickly and my skin felt silky soft, so I decided to give it a go. When I went to pay, the shop assistant said it was the most impressed that he had been with a product in ten years! I assumed this praise was genuine as I had already decided to buy it, so I knew he wasn't simply trying to make a sale. I can’t say that it has transformed by skin into that of a 21 year old, but it is a really nice overnight serum that absorbs quickly and that makes my skin feel very soft.
Yes, unless I discover something else that excites me more.


Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion, £17 for 50ml
No surprises here, I’m officially back in love with Clinique’s cult-classic moisturiser. It’s a great all-rounder that I genuinely feel my skin misses when I don’t use it. If you feel like you have been overloading your skin with high-tech products and it's starting to rebel, I thoroughly recommend giving this a try. You can read my full review here. However I do feel I should add something anti-ageing into the mix (again, I'm not getting any younger!) so if you know of a miracle night cream that will make me look like I’ve had eight hours sleep and am not suffering from yet another bad hangover then please do let me know.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Olay 30 Second Wrinkle Filler.

£ 7-15 depending on where you buy it. 30ml (online chemists have some good deals but personally, I grab mine from Boots, where it is £14.44) 


Utterly blurs fine lines and wrinkles that are on their way to being prominent. 
Covers pores.
Quick to apply.
A little goes a long way. 


Wait until it dries before beginning makeup. This can be slightly annoying if in a hurry. 
Too much product applied can accentuate the wrinkle.
Keep all facial expressions to a bare minimum whilst it's drying. Otherwise, the product dries whilst you are busy raising your brows, leading to enhanced wrinkles. Brilliant. 

A cleansed face, waiting for wrinkles to toodle off. 

Lines blurred, redness subdued and pores smoothed. Hurray, hurrah.

Sigma 'Born To' Blush

£11.95 – 15.00 depending on where it is purchased. Happy to say that are selling Sigma products for one of the cheapest prices. Boxed product weight is 41g.


Rose wine colour 
Glitter that gives warmth on the skin and doesn't make you look like a fairy
Easily blendable 
A little goes a long way 


This colour did not suit me until I changed the colour of my hair, so I am unsure that it would be universal and suit everyone. More a winter colour than summer colour. Not necessarily a bad thing for everyone. 

We got this as a freebie from Beauty B Cosmetics. I would definitely look into purchasing and sampling other Sigma blushes. 

Already well used. 'Born To' be used everyday. Hurrah. 

The rosey wine colour is more clearly seen here and with deep coloured hair, this looks beautiful. When I had lighter hair, this was a little much. 

John Frieda Precision Colour Foam

Deep Cherry Brown 3VR, £9.99




Colour shown is true to life
Easy to apply 
Clean up and wash off was simple
Minimal time to apply and for the colour to take
Does not dry the hair and frazzle the ends
Love the conditioner that comes with it
Any dye that drips or goes onto the forehead/tops of ears is easily washed off


The way that I originally applied it (see below) 


This colour falls into the red but not unclassy red category. I have been wanting to go red since this time last year but did not want my hair to have that orange look (which, as I was growing out blonde was quite likely to happen) or be too 'in your face' red. I wanted it to be sultry but classy. 
This colour is perfect for what I wanted. 


Cover the shoulders and the floor around you just in case of spillage. Put a thick layer of moisturiser (i used Yu-Be) around the hair line to prevent the dye from running. You may also wish to put this on any baby hair that still has not grown out. Yep, that's right, I am 29 and still have baby hair. 
Pour the colourant into the developer and gently move back and fourth, five times. Squeeze the bottle in the middle into your hand and apply it to the hair. I would recommend segmenting the hair, prior to applying the colour, with either bobby pins or small butterfly clips.
Apply to the roots of each section, or, if you don't want to section your hair and do not have particularly long hair, get straight to it and apply to the roots  Then, work the product through to the ends. It will almost look like you are shampooing your hair, as it does start to lather and that is completely normal.
It took me 15 minutes to do my hair and 20 minutes for the colour to take. Wash off until the water runs clear and apply the conditioner for two to five minutes, then rinse. Save the rest of the conditioner for the next few washes as it really helps to lock in moisture and preserve the colour. 


I decided to leave the front and side of my hair and dye the underneath, as my hair has a natural auburn tint to it. In the winter, this would have probably been fine but as my hair colour had lifted from the sun, it looked odd. Not to mention the time I wasted gathering the bits of hair that I didn't want to dye vs the bits that I did. In my own chaos, I stained the carpet...twice (which has now come out). When I realised that my own colour didn't blend and that I really liked the new colour, I went back and dyed those sections of hair. Talk about creating unnecessary steps. What an idiot!


I already have in preparation for roots but I might go even more daring. I'm thinking Colour XXL. However, this could lead to even more exotic stains on the carpet. Why did I choose a cream carpet? 

Original colour. Old t-shirt on, ready to start the dying process. I have blonde at the ends of my hair and the colour covered it completely. In my opinion, I don't notice a change of colour from where the product was applied onto brown hair to the reminisces of dyed blonde. 

This is the advertised colour. 

Pretty spot on. The colour advertised is the colour that I am now parading around. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Benefit High Brow Glow


A beauty tip that has been circling for years is to highlight and tight line eyes with a bright coloured (usually white) pencil if tired, to give a bright eyed look and dispel any suggestions of late nights, sleepless nights or a hangover. 

When I saw that Benefit had brought out a champagne coloured highlighting pencil, I was excited. Using a white colour can sometimes be too much of a stark contrast to tired eyes, so a warmer shade seemed perfecto! I love Benefit and they have so many wonderful products (don't even get me started on my love for their primers!) but this one is just so blah.
Swatching it, the product looks beautiful. Subtle but visible and illuminating, however underneath the brow or on the water line, it's non existent. It doesn't do anything. I am hoping that it's because I have quite oily lids and so on other people's eyes, it shimmers and widens the appearance. On a happier note, during the same spendy trip, I bought That Gal Primer (review in my recent Makeup Routine post) but I am disappointed that the High Brow doesn't do what I hoped it would. 

A beautiful highlight on the hand. None existent on the brow bone. Quite frankly,  I could have done with some serious highlighting anywhere on the eye when this was taken. 


Friday, 11 July 2014

IMATS: Good friends, makeup and a whole lot of shopping…

On 28 June, Kay, my sister Sarah and I, ventured to the International Makeup Artists Trade Show at Olympia for an afternoon of shopping research. We were all IMATS virgins and expected the place to be crammed, but instead, we found the whole experience pretty relaxing and had lots of time to wander around and checkout the makeup on offer.

Plenty of big names were there (MAC, Bobbi Brown, Sigma) as well as a few smaller ones. Kay was particularly pleased to see the incredible mink lashes by Velour Lashes and snapped up a couple of pairs. I was even more pleased to learn that no minks are harmed in the process of making them – the fur is simply brushed off them! Please tell me that someone somewhere has that occupation written on their passport….

A selection of the rather fabulous Velour Lashes

Another brand we were pleased to see was Beautiful Brows. The lovely Serena collared us on our way past and promptly sat Kay down to demonstrate how quick and easy it is to fill out your brows with a stencil and powder. Impressed with the results I was next up, to see if Serena could make my uneven eyebrows match, which she did! Sarah followed, and needless to say all three of us purchased a kit. You can read Kay’s full review of it here.

Kay getting the Beautiful Brows treatment

Inglot was another highlight as it isn’t available in UK stores and Kay tells me it isn’t even that widely available in the US. Their stand was makeup heaven, with row upon row of beautiful eye shadows and lip colours. Kay and I both created a palette using their fabulous Freedom System; I opted for a few neutrals while Kay fell in love with their highly pigmented blues and greens. Best of all? The shadows were only £3 each! I know the prices are discounted at IMATS but that bodes well for the retail price. I’ve just had a quick look on and it is in fact very good value for money.

Inglot! And yes, I did buy that gorgeous lip colour I've got my mitts on...

By the end of the afternoon we were all shopped out (despite the much needed pit stop at Pizza Express – thank you Sarah!) and had found plenty of brands and products to try. I even had a set of Paperself lashes on! They may be a bit much for daytime but I’m a real sucker for their butterfly lashes….

Signing up at the Paperself Stand

Look out for full reviews of all the products we purchased soon.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Kay's Make Up Routine


Benefit That Gal, £22.50 for 11ml and Olay 30 Second Wrinkle Filler, £12.45 for 100ml
The Wrinkle Filler is amazing and smooths skin, not only filling in wrinkles but minimising pores. That Gal is the only illuminating primer that I don't react to. It gives skin healthy sheen. 
About to for both as I have just run out. 


Urban Decay Primer Potion Eden, £16
Better than Paint Pots and will hold eyeliner all day, even in hot and sticky weather. I have worn it without eye shadow and it gives the eyelid an even tone. 
Yes. I like it better than the original. 


Laura Mercier Undercover Pot, £29 for 5.8g
One half is for blemishes and is the best at hiding red spots from acne scarring. The other half is for the under eye area and is a peachy creamy texture. I am so-so about this. Underneath the concealers is their setting powder, which is a good'un. 
I have done and probably will when autumn rolls around and I need slightly more coverage. 


Chanel Vita Lumiere Aqua B30 B40, £33 for 30ml
A fluid based, light-coverage foundation, which is buildable and does not tend to oxidise (certainly not on my skin). Easily blendable and is scented, which doesn't particularly bother me. Creates a lovely, natural sheen to the skin and is excellent for my dry skin type. 
Yes, although they last a long old time. Currently switching to CC cream and MAC powder for the summer months. 


MAC Prep and Prime in Radiant Rose, £18 for 3.6ml and Sleek Face Form, £9.99 for 20g
Made almost un-buy able by the Kim Kardashian contour craze, Prep and Prime Highlighter is a staple. It gives a beautiful natural highlight, which is great for any skin, especially my dry skin and in the summer, I often use it in place of a concealer. Blends beautifully – better than YSL's Touché Eclat. The Sleek highlight is a subtle shimmer that makes all the difference to the shape of the face....or the shape that is trying to be enhanced. 
Yes, yes, yes. 


Sleek Face Form, £9.99 for 20g
The best contouring set that I have tried. I prefer the bronze colour to Laguna (Sorry, Nars) and although it needs to be blended thoroughly, it is such a good contouring colour. It really defines the cheek bones. Plus, I love the price. 
Yes but will take me a while to get through it. 


Sleek Pink Lemonade, £9.99
Cream and powder pinks. A flush of summer. A little goes a heck of a long way and it is easy to blend. Lasts for the long haul. 
REPURCHASE? I would like to try the range before going back to this. Greedy? Yes. Hey ho! 


Beautiful Brows, £38
You can read a full review of my new brow must-have product here
YES. In caps....I mean business. 


Urban Decay Create Your Own Palette, Too Faced Chocolate Palette, Inglot, Dior quads, Sigma, MAC Build Your Own (see various reviews...more to come) 
These are my favourite lines for shadows, with some, like the Sigma Smoke Screen, only just discovered. I am planning to buy more from all of the companies. Lord help my mortgage. 


MAC Fluid Gel Liner in Black Track, £15 for 3g, Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Liner Black, £7.99 for 10ml
I use MAC for the initial line and then fill in and define with the Maybelline. I find that the Maybelline feathers on its own. The MAC line controls it! 
Yes, but I'm always on the look out for a new liner. 


Estee Lauder Double Wear Zero-Smudge Lengthening Mascara, £21 for 6ml; Lancôme Hypnose, £22.50 for; Dior Extase, £24.50 for 6ml; YSL Babydoll, £24.50 for 5ml
Estée Lauder does not budge. It's defining, dramatic and does not budge. Sometimes after cleansing three times, I have to do a fourth to get the remaining mascara residue off. Dior is great and doesn't seem to get the recognition that it deserves. I have written a post on it....I need to get on the website asap. YSL Baby Doll is dramatic and defining. The colour can wander but it creates a lovely shape and opens the eyes. It does tend to go off quicker than other mascaras. Lancôme is my every day mascara; easy to apply and easy to get off of an evening. 
Yes to Estée Lauder and YSL. Dior, already have, several times. I also like Armani Eyes to Kill but haven't used it in a while. 


Urban Decay Chill Spray, £20 (see separate review hereand the Laura Mercier Setting Powder, £ 29 for 11.3g
Both are good and do what they say. 
I'm going to use MAC powder for a while. I think that my skin has got used to the products and they are not working quite as effectively as they once were. 


Jo Malone Peony and Blush, £40 for 30ml and Tuberose Angelica, £100 for 100ml
Without a shadow of a doubt. Not only do they smell amazing and luxurious but the customer care at Jo Malone is traditional and quite the experience. After visiting the Covent Garden store, I received a hand written note, thanking me for visiting. I was utterly blown away. In this day and age, hand written anything is a shock, but it was such a lovely gesture. Plus, Jo Malone offer a complimentary hand and arm massage. It's advisable to book and be warned, you will want to buy every product that they use. 

L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil


Hair oil with a blend of six precious flower extracts.


I bought this product because I have very long hair and if I’ve left it too long between haircuts the ends can get pretty dry and dull looking. I used to get my hair trimmed religiously every eight weeks but I realised it was getting shorter and shorter so am now leaving it much longer between cuts! (Yes, I do subject it to frequent blow-drying, curling and straightening and no, I don’t always use heat protection…) 


I use one pump and apply it to the length of my hair. Using it on wet hair prior to drying and styling immediately made my hair feel softer and using it on dry hair as a finishing serum gives it a really nice healthy shine. It can even be used overnight as a mask; I use twice the amount that I usually would then plait my hair overnight. It doesn't leave residue on the pillow and although I make sure to do it on a night I'll be washing my hair in the morning, it absorbs it so well I don't need to! Maybe that's a reflection of how dry my hair is.... 


Even with dry split ends between haircuts this oil instantly made my hair look and feel healthier. 


Definitely, although I’ve been using it for several months and have barely made a dent in it so I doubt I’ll be repurchasing for a while. 


I really am impressed by this product. It’s very good value for money, lasts a really long time and has greatly improved the condition of my hair. Obviously the effects may vary depending on your hair type, but if your hair is looking at all dull and dry I encourage you to give it a go!

RRP £9.99 – Keep your eye open for this product in supermarkets because I got mine half price.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Beautiful Brows

Wandering around IMATS (International Makeup Artist Trade Show) last weekend was a thoroughly lovely experience. I was genuinely expecting wall to wall people. However, although it was busy, people were polite and it was a relaxing experience.....and we were surrounded by makeup! Yey!

After we had wandered around (and I had gone crazy at the Inglot stand), Jen, Sarah (Jen's sister) and I stumbled across Beautiful Brows.


Ok, a quick sum up.... a product that is £38, which comes with the brow colour, highlight colour, tweezers, brushes, templates and literally takes sixty seconds to apply. The brows appear immaculate and the product can be reapplied twice or three times for a strong, dramatic brow look. It lasts 24 hours and does not budge when swimming, working out (tested) and in hot/humid climates (again, tested). It is removed with eye make up remover, specifically oil based remover. Also, if used everyday, it lasts two years because you need such little product. If not, it will remain useable for five years. 

I do not have a bad word to say about this product. It's seriously amazing. Sarah, who is fair, suddenly had natural looking eye brows and you could not tell that she had used a brow product. Jen and I were both the slate colour, which is so odd, as both of us have only ever used brown products, but anyone from light brown to dark brown is likely to be the slate colour. 


I apply the 'natural' template. I hold it, making sure that the highest point of my brow matches with the highest point of the template (the first few times takes a little while to place on the brow). Then, touch the brush in the slate powder and brush it through the brow one way and the other (towards and away from the direction of the brow hairs). 
If you make a mistake, you have 10 minutes to sort it before the brow powder sets. 

That's it! So easy, so quick and a lovely looking brow. Even someone who is seriously uncoordinated (direct quote from my mother) can do this. Plus, I have quite bushy brows and they seem to be behaving. Hurrah!


Yes. In two years time! 

If anyone would like to see a step by step demo, please let me know.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Nail Varnish and Top/Base Coats

I look for two things when it comes to nail varnish – a colour that stays put for the working week and a fun colour. To define 'fun', anything from a pearlescent pink to a vibrant aqua. It all depends on my mood. 



Jelly Bean is a bright fuchsia pink is a summer staple and I like the depth of the colour. That's probably a weird thing to say but if you use it, you'll know what I mean, especially with two coats. With a good top coat, it lasts five days. Without a top coat, chipping happened after a day. 


A good size brush, distributing the product evenly. One coat will create an opaque finish. The easiest nail colour to apply.


£9.00 for 13.5ml


I might try other colours but will buy from Ciate again. Most definitely.




This was a gift and I had not heard of this Swiss brand before. You can buy it at John Lewis, Boots, Feel Unique and Beauty Bay. The consistency provides opaque cover with two coats and is the most beautiful candy pink. It lasts five days with a top coat and tends to fade at the top of the nail, rather than chip. This is brilliant for a muted nail look but has more umph than a nude or for work, where bright nails might not always be the most appropriate. 


The product applies evenly and dries quickly.


The product may only be small (5ml), but for £4.75, it is worth it. I have painted my nails four times (two/three coats per time) and I have only used a quarter of the bottle.

REPURCHASE? Yes, plus other colours.


One coat:

Two coats:


This had so much potential. The advertising images showed floral designed nails. Unlike other nail fads, where any texture or pattern is applied though various intricate methods, this looked easy. All in the same bottle... time saver or what?

My boyfriend looked at my nails and said 'That's a mess'. Why thank you, sweetheart. However, I couldn't have agreed more. The glitter was overwhelming for the flowers and the flowers were either non existent or piled onto the nail in twos or threes. I don't know if the more you use this, the easier it will be become. Mainly because the flowers have sunk to the bottom half of the bottle (despite energetic shaking) and so, the more that you use, the quicker you get to the glitter and flowers in a more equal distribution.


All glitter or flower central. Glitter over flowers. Lumps and bumps. Really not good.



£12.00 for 10ml 


Nope. I had such high hopes. 


Nicole by OPI Quick Drying Top Coat


Really speedy drying time. Two minutes for touch dry, three to five for completely dry. Very useful for painting nails in a rush but doesn't preserve the colour too well and does not prevent chipping. Every time I use it, the nail colour has chipped the next day, even when wearing long lasting nail colours. However, this is perfect if you are rushing to get ready and only want your nail colour to last for a day/evening out. 


Even and smooth, no bubbling. Quite 'liquidy' in consistency. 


£7.99 for 15ml 


No, I would rather try the Orly Flash Dry Drops. 

Sally Hansen Double Duty Base and Top Coat


Protects the nail from being stained by nail colour and dries fairly quickly over nail varnish (five minutes touch dry). It is moisturising and seriously good at preventing chipping when wearing the Ciate, Mavala, Tanya Burr and Essie. Doesn't prevent Barry M Jelly Nail Paint from chipping after a day. Such a shame because the Barry M colours are so vibrant and eye catching. I also found that it didn't prevent the Maybelline Super Stay 7 Day Gel Nail Colour from chipping. However, I have only tried this once and I was in a mega rush, so it's not really the best test. 

Barry M 



For me, this product does not cause bubbling and smooths the varnish to create a glossy finish. 



£4.95 for 13.3ml