Saturday, 30 April 2016

Back to basics: Simple Regeneration Age Resisting skincare

Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Moisturiser


I have what may be classed as troublesome skin. Unpredictable, dehydrated, and easily angered. And it shows its displeasure by producing those spectacular spots that never come to a head, but just HURT. Lovely. When my skin is having a meltdown, there's one family of products I reach for - Simple skincare.

Simple is a brand which just doesn't get enough love on the Internet. Their products are generally colour and fragrance free, and formulated with sensitive, easily irritated skin in mind. The Simple Regeneration age resisting range contains green tea extract, oat-beta glucan to soothe irritation, along with green tea extract and good ole' vitamin E as antioxidants.

I have the Regeneration Age Resisting Day Cream SPF15, and the eye cream from the same range. The day moisturiser is a lovely lightweight option, even suitable for my oily skin. It smells of nothing, which is the aim really, and is extremely soothing - if I've got a bit of a rouge situation after testing out a product, this is what I reach for. It is SPF 15 - fine for nipping outside or for the cooler months, but bear in mind you'll want a higher factor SPF for summer or any dedicated sun-worshipping - I've listed some options in my previous SPF post. The packaging is good, with a nice hygienic squeeze pump - I do find for us oilies this dispenses quite a lot - half a pump is fine for me (less than half a pump is pictured below).  If you're at the mid-twenty-something stage like myself, with no lines (yet) but you have The Fear re: the whole line situation, this is one to try on for size.



The Simple Regeneration Age Resisting Eye Cream is, again, very soothing. It is a gel texture, as you can see in the above photo. It feels quite cooling on application, and is absorbed quickly with no residue-I have no issues applying primer or makeup over this. This does contain some shea butter, but I've not experienced any blocked pores as a result. Eye cream is a bit of a weird one to review, I find - there's often a degree of personal texture preference. Like I say, I am currently relatively line-free and so can't comment re: efficacy against visible lines, but as a "starter" eye cream this is a good, inexpensive option. Pop it in the fridge - it is a real treat for weary eyes at the end of the day.

My one gripe is the lid - look how teeny!! I have lost this on more than one occasion - it likes to live in the same place that all the world's hair grips and hair ties have taken up residence. A better lid please, Simple! 

All in all, a really nice, soothing range for irritated twenty-something skin. If you have super sensitive skin and need more information on ingredients, Simple's own website has a really good section of FAQ's - the link to this section is here


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Friday, 29 April 2016

Beauty and the Brain - why makeup is good for the mind.



First thing is first. Makeup should be a pleasure. For fun. A lovely, refreshing adjunct to a busy, stressful life. An escape. And ultimately? It should, in my opinion, make you feel good. 

However.

There is a multi-bajillion-pound industry based solely on cosmetics for a reason. The latest thing, the newest craze, contouring/strobing/bold brows/90s lips, etc etc etc. We can be, understandably, manipulated by this into believing we have to use a certain amount of makeup, in a certain way, to look good. I say this as someone who loves the beauty industry, and is all about a new discovery.

However, I am here to tell you: this concept is a nonsense.

You do you. Love a daily cat-eye? Preach. No makeup at all? Do it. You'll rock it. In to an orange lip? Go for your life, my friend. Whatever makes you happy. 

Because makeup can be so good for the mind. A makeup routine which you know enhances your already beautiful face, in just the way you want it to, will make you feel a million dollars. That quick slick of mascara before you head out the door can just put a little spring in your step. Sali Hughes talks about the feeling of game-face-on in her book, Pretty Honest, with regards to a bold red lip. 

There is this groaning, archaic misconception that makeup is just the caked on slap of the vain, used solely to decieve, or for those who want to cover every inch of skin on their face. Another ridiculous notion. And, on reflection, so what? What if makeup application of any kind actually does make you feel better? Is that a problem? Surely, actually, that is the point?

Makeup is for you. Not for anyone else.

I can vouch, first hand, for the ethereally comforting nature of my normal self-care routine, at times when it seemed the rest of the world was just falling apart around me. When things are dark, one must look for the tiny twinkles of brightness in each day (I promise you, they are there): that may be an unfurling flower, it may be an off the charts cake (it is, frequently I find, confection related), or indeed it may be that beautiful, comfortable lip colour you love.

This is the reason you'll only find things that I actually love on this blog, or discussions on how I genuinely find a product. I want you to share my discoveries. Maybe, who knows, they will bring a little joy in to your life. My favourite ride-or-die product is a £6 facial spray from the french pharmacy, discovered by accident years ago on a trip to France. It's not new, or particularly fancy, but I love it, and it works. So there. You'll be seeing a lot of it.

Beauty, and all that that title encompasses, is a lovely luxury in life, and can be that ever necessary ray of sunshine in a gloomy place. Enjoy it for what it is. And do what you want with it. 
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Thursday, 28 April 2016

My Two Signature Scents: Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 and Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium



Fragrance is always going to be a bit of a funny one to write about. Who am I to tell you how you should smell?! After all, it's your nose that has that scent under it for the duration of the day. I'm not a fragrance fiend, it has to be said - too long dilly-dallying near the perfume department in Boots and I'm left with quite the headache. But when that magical, unicorn-rare, eureka moment happens with a scent, I'm hooked for the long run.

Escentric Molecules burst on to the scene with Molecule 01 a few years ago, and this has been a firm favourite in the slightly-more-haute-perfumier category for many ever since. I found out about this on Vivianna Does Makeup quite some time ago, and was really intrigued. Also - many of the reviews on this are beyond glowing, we're talking obsession territory here. I had to find it to give it a test run. I stumbled across Molecule 01 some time later in a tiny little boutique stockist in Cambridge, but I'm told you can try this on for size at both Liberty and Harvey Nichols before making the plunge.

The blurb on the actual scent is that it is largely formulated from one molecule, Iso E Super, traditionally added to perfumes as more of an afterthought than the main event, to make the scent "more alluring". It is supposedly malleable, and will smell slightly different on everyone. It also claims to disappear and resurface sometime after application.

To me, I smell woody, musky base (not in a skunk way, let's be clear) and parma violets. It is a delicious, surprisingly complex scent. I have to say I notice no departure or miraculous re-appearance, but I couldn't care less about that-it's beautiful. Light enough for daytime, unobtrusive, and certainly not over the top. I've had people genuinely ask me which perfume I'm using when wearing this - I used to think that was just something reviewers said to plug a perfume, but it has been a genuine occurrence with Molecule 01! And the best thing? No awful queasy fragrance-overload headache. Winning.

I always buy the travel size bottle from Cult Beauty - partially as I'm a cheapskate, partially as I do travel frequently, and partially as you can re-fill the super-sturdy black metal travel case with replacement travel bottles afterwards, which is super convenient.

The second scent is quite a different creature - the heady, seductive, full-throttle glamour that is Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium. It's punchy, it's loud, and a little goes a very long way - if strong scents make you feel a bit queasy, go easy on this one. The packaging is seriously luxurious - all of the glitter - and you won't want to throw the rose gold and black box away either.

 The official "tasting notes" say black coffee, white florals, and vanilla - and I'd pretty much agree with that assessment. Don't worry, it's not the I've-spent-too-long-in-Starbucks type coffee note, more of an alluring, warm, rich twist on the standard white floral fragrance. 

Not for the faint-hearted, but it is a truly beautiful evening scent. Just don't go too crazy. You can find this velvety number for £44 at Boots



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Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Naked - The All-occasion Star Performer



Now, I’m sure if you are a lipstick hoarder enthusiast like me, you probably have a decent emporium selection of lipsticks already. Some you’ll wear frequently, others for special occasions (that killer red, you know the one) and some will have been bought on a whim – maybe for a crazy colour (MAC Halsey, for example) or a new, hyped formula that promises to last forever and not give you the cat’s bum mouth situation of 99% of liquid lipsticks…

Honestly though? For me personally, I have an everlasting love for the nude lip. Pinky nude, sixties ultra-nude, you name it, it’s probably my jam. It’s not always a wearable look for every day, but Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in the shade Naked makes it completely work-appropriate.

Urban Decay Revolution in Naked is a beautiful pink-nude; not too warm, not too nude, and no yellow-teeth syndrome induced by this shade, I promise. It won’t wash out your complexion either, due to its rosy tones and slightly sheeny finish. It’s basically the pink for people who don’t like pink, and the nude lip for those who don’t do nude lips.



I find that this shade is completely opaque in one swipe – the swatch above is a one-swipe swatch –and doesn’t skip or drag, even on dry lips. The texture is creamy, easy to apply, and comfortable to wear. I haven’t experienced any feathering using this lipstick. The formula contains jojoba oil, avocado oil, cocoa butter and shea butter, which is unsurprisingly a lovely moisturising concoction. For me, it tends to last for about 2-3 hours before needing a touch-up – so don’t expect Olympic standard longevity, but what it lacks in this department, it makes up for a hundredfold in comfort.

The packaging feels very luxe – a chunky, hammered gunmetal grey outer case which is really nicely finished, well done Urban Decay. You do get slightly less than your average lipstick in one of these bullets – 2.8g as opposed to a standard MAC bullet at 3g – but really, this is splitting hairs. If you are looking for a great, comfortable, every day lip shade that suits just about everyone – look no further.




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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Illamasqua Nail Varnish - why they're worth every penny

Illamasqua Venous Load Kink Creator Nail Varnish

The four shades above in order are Venous, Load, Kink, and Creator.


Illamasqua. There is genuinely nothing from this brand I've found so far that I have not adored. Fantastic formulations, top quality products, and completely cruelty free. YES. The nail polish is no exception. Genuinely chip-free nails for a full week or more? You're in the right place.

Kink is a deep, bottle green, with a rubber finish. It has a matte lid on the bottle which distinguishes it from the others in your stash-nice touch, Illamasqua. The rubber finish is essentially kinda-sorta matte, and you do need a few extra minutes of drying time.. but that green is so chic. It's my go-to #girlboss shade.

Load (rudey rude) is a pastel, cream-yellow colour. Unlike every other pastel nail varnish ever, this is almost completely opaque with one coat, and actually goes on evenly. And a genuine, busy-person-who-actually-uses-their-hands, full week wear time. Hurrah! I've had so many compliments on this colour when I've worn it, and it doesn't stain the nails at all. Love it!

Creator is an incredible black shot through with loads of silver glitter. The glitter is evenly distributed in the varnish and doesn't seem to collect at the bottom over time, which is a huge plus. Word to the wise on this one - it ain't coming off. Ever. You have been warned.



Venous is a teal-green colour, with a cream finish. This is probably my favourite nail varnish of all time. It just screams holidays. Look at that colour! It is a DREAM to apply - very even, no streaks, no pooling along the side of your nails - and looks genuinely as good as new for at least a week. The photo above, believe it or not, is one coat. ONE. I'm on bottle number two, and I don't think that's ever happened with a nail varnish before, unless it's done that dried-out goop thing that unfortunately is usually the cause of death for any nail product!

Illamasqua Nail Varnish isn't the cheapest on the market - but it is, in my opinion, one of the most foolproof and hardwearing formulas out there. It knocks the socks off Chanel Le Vernis in terms of longevity, and the ever growing colour selection is excellent.

Has anyone tried the new Nail Veils? They're next on my list!


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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Sun Stripping - is it a thing?



We've had strobing (formerly known as highlighting) and now the people who know about re-branding have come up with this summer's "new" thing - sun stripping. Sounds a bit rudey, no? Or what happens generally when us Brits see the first ray of sunshine in the spring? You know, the one in flip flops and shorts when it is definitely not flip flop and short weather - it's just vaguely not winter. Is there more to it than that?

 As far as I can tell, Sun Stripping is applying bronzer in a non-ridiculous way to your face - mainly central, over the bridge of the nose, and sweeping a light layer over the top of the cheeks too. Basically, where you would naturally catch the sun on your face. I'm pretty sure this is the way bronzer was always intended to be applied, but if it's a "thing" to look healthy and sunkissed for this year then count me in on this bandwagon! 

I am, sadly, very boring when it comes to powder bronzer. I'm devoted to two, and two only (but I am open to suggestions-please let me know what your favourites are!). Laura Mercier Bronzing Pressed Powder in Matte Bronze is a beautiful, very natural, warm-not-orange bronzer for light to medium skin tones. It's a very soft textured powder, but pretty pigmented, so be sure to use a light hand when applying. Not a sparkle in sight, yet not flat matte, I find this makes me look like I've just spent a week in Malta. Goals.




My other all-time go to is NARS Laguna bronzer. I know we all moan when NARS include this in yet another palette or duo, but there is a good reason - it's beautiful. Foolproof, relatively neutral as bronzers go, and a hint of shimmer. Laguna really is a cult favourite for good reason. I'm afraid I am currently Laguna-less (I know, get the violins out for me) but I'm sure you've all seen many a swatch of this beauty before.

One thing I am intrigued by is cream bronzers. I've never really ventured into that territory before. Thoughts? Best ones to try? Let me know in the comments! 

You can find a link here to my Ray-Bans.

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Monday, 25 April 2016

Katie's Favourites - My sister's beauty edit


My sister is cool. Cooler than me. It's ok, I'm fine with it. She's got great taste, likes products that work; and being an ex-personal trainer everything looks great on her. Ugh. I know. Life's not fair. I asked her for her current go-to face edit, and she didn't disappoint - what a list of beauties...

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder and Ambient Blush - Katie is currently using (for using, read borrowing on a semi permanent basis) my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit palette. Subtle, luminous blush; ethereal, believeable highlight and beautiful texture to all of the powders. I audibly gasped on first swatch. What a glorious little creature this is. This was limited edition, but you can find individual ambient lighting powders and blushes at Space NK in the link above. 

Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean and Soap and Glory Supercat liner in Carbon Black - I have to confess I haven't tried either of these, but Katie swears by them. CT's chic little pot of joy makes for an easy peasy super-quick eye look that really does look as if it took you hours. It can be used as both a subtle wash of daytime-appropes colour, or smoked out with a matte shadow for the evening.
Oh, and I can vouch for mega liner-envy from Katie's use of the Supercat liner, so it must be a pleasure to use, and I am assured it's long lasting - though it'll take a lot to separate me from Stila stay all day...

Boots Seventeen Falsifeye HD Mascara - her (and my) high street mascara au choix. Ever since Wayne Goss mentioned this I've been really keen to give it a go, and if its lengthening you're after without sacrificing too much volume - this is your man.It's really easy to remove too - no scrubbing at your eyes at the end of the day, and at a very reasonable price point - this knocks the socks off many more expensive mascaras! 

MAC Matte Lipstick in Velvet Teddy - Vivianna does makeup is a fan, so it must be great.  The perfect not-too-90s rosy brown nude lip. And it goes with just about everything. This is a total go-to lip colour for my sister and for me. With a lovely, creamy matte formula and the classic chic MAC bullet, its easy to apply and pop in your bag for touch-ups. 

I'll come on to the Zoeva and Real Techniques beauties in the photo in a following post: they deserve their own rave!
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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Curls, Interrupted - John Frieda and TIGI frizz-fighters

Tigi Bed Head Shampoo


Curls. Chances are if you have them, you battle them; and if you don't, you regularly spend a large amount of time, and effort trying to get them. Such is life, eh

Mine are particularly rebellious at the moment due to the humid climate here in Madagascar - think Monica in Friends when she's on holiday. No joke. Curlfriends, you get me. The struggle is real. But fear not if you're in the same boat - I've got three products up my metaphorical sleeve which will help to keep them under control! 

Let's start at the very beginning. TIGI shampoos are my forever fave and are yet to let me down. As a total bonus, TIGI Bed Head Urban Antidotes Recovery Shampoo and Conditioner both like sweets (win) and are particularly adept at curl-taming. Plus - MEGA MASSIVE BOTTLES. Save some cash moneys and have beautiful, manageable hair - what's not to love?

Post-washing, it's all about John Frieda Frizz-Ease products. They had me at hello, all that time ago when it was just a dinky bottle of serum available - remember those days?! My products of choice are the Daily Miracle leave-in conditioner, and the Miraculous Recovery Creme Serum. Miracle is a strong word. Let's be honest. But it is a completely weightless, detangling leave-in conditioner; and seems to almost instantly smooth hair after application to damp tresses. The serum locks out frizz pretty successfully without that greasy too-much-product feeling, so common to earlier versions of this type of formula. You only need a couple of pumps too, so the bottle will last for ages. 

This little combination has been managing the curl madness even in 40 degrees centigrade and 90% humidity, so they really are curl control masters!

What are your frizz heroes? Let me know in the comments!


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Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Oily Skin Saviour - La Roche-Posay Serozinc

La Roche Posay Serozinc

I could write songs about La Roche Posay Serozinc. Ballads. The-Lady-of-Shalott-length poems. It was all thanks to skincare genius Caroline Hirons that I discovered this gem, and I can safely say I won't ever be without a bottle. Oh, and two days ago it won "Best New Skincare Treatment Product" at the CEW awards. Need more convincing? Read on...

La Roche Posay Serozinc is essentially a zinc sulphate/sodium chloride solution, bottled as a facial spritz. It is primarily designed to target oily, irritated, blemish prone skin, but I'd argue anyone with a spot or two would benefit from this. It's marketed for use post-cleanse, post acid toning (if it's an acid toning kinda day), pre-serum; but I also top up with this through the day (partially as I am a greaseball, and partially because I just love a face spritz. It just feels so nice. Are you with me?!).

 The blurb says it "mattifies" and reduces that greasy feeling. I can vouch for that. Zinc sulphate helps with healing of the skin, so this seemingly benign watery spray is actually actively assisting the healing process. THANK GOODNESS SOMEONE THOUGHT OF THIS. There are a million moisturisers on the market, but comparatively little that I have found to help out us oilies, Well, little that doesn't contain terrifying quantities of alcohols/things to Dementor's-Kiss all the moisture out of your face. Acne that just hangs around forever? Spot scars that take an age to fade? This is exactly what Serozinc targets.  

It's French pharmacy. It actually works. It's got simple, non terrifying ingredients. Oh, and it's a bargain at my beloved Escentual right now. Need I say more? 

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Friday, 22 April 2016

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipsticks - worth the hype?


Liquid lipsticks. The world has gone mad for all things matte in 2015/16. Dry-down formulas, no-transfer promises and lasting-until-kingdom-come. But after the freebies have been reviewed, and the hype has died down (a little) is the relative discomfort (and whacking great UK customs fee) worth it? 

Anastasia Beverly Hills was one of the main mega-brands to hit out with a big range of liquid lipsticks at the crest of the hype wave. With a huge (and ever-expanding) colour range of really flattering shades, you're sure to find something you want to try. In fact, if you use Instagram/watch anything on YouTube/are even remotely interested in makeup, you'll certainly have seen these coveted tubes being praised and promoted.

The liquid lipstick itself is a pleasant, creamy, almost mousse-like texture and is comfortable to apply - at $20 a pop, I should hope so. It also doesn't dry down in 0.0001 seconds, so you've got a bit of play-time if you are as generally awful at liquid lipstick application as I am. You can see in the swatches below on my sister's arm that there was time to swatch and set up the shot before they had dried fully:

above swatches - Lovely, Retro Coral, Sweet Talker, Vintage and Sad Girl 


Once these set, they are SET. Forever. Use a good oil based makeup remover (or just some jojoba oil) to remove this or you will take your lips off at the same time. I jest not one jot.

Honestly, the formula is variable - some of the lighter colours (Pure Hollywood, you. You are the culprit) have a tendency to crack, flake, and make the lips look fossilised. Nice. Others (Lovely and Sad Girl particularly) glide on, look fantastic, don't budge, and stay all day. Most will last through a coffee/non-greasy food, but if you're partial to a doughnut or six (guilty as charged), be prepared to reapply.

So... worth it? I think with the Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks (as with any other liquid lipstick that I've tried so far) it's all a bit of a trade off. If you're happy to prep your lips well, don't mind a bit of dryness, and maybe only need 4 hours wear, you'll love these. After this point, it's Sahara-lips territory. If you're all about comfort over longevity-forget it. Save up those pennies for some Guerlain Gems and accept a little sheen in your life. 

You can order directly from Anastasia Beverly Hills. Bear in mind the international shipping fees and customs charge if you're UK based! 
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Thursday, 21 April 2016

Waxing lyrical : Makeup Geek Eyeshadows

Makeup Geek Eyeshadow


As aforementioned on my Morphe palette review last week, I am always on the lookout for good quality, affordable makeup. Sure, everyone loves a bit of Burberry now and again, but I can practically feel my bank account aching if I stare too long in Selfridges...

A little warning-you'll probably make a purchase after reading this. 

I first discovered Makeup Geek Cosmetics through the incredible Jaclyn Hill on YouTube. She almost always uses at least one of these little babies in her incredible makeup tutorials, so I thought I'd try the starter kit out for size... and so the obsession was born. My bank account still weeps occasionally, don't get me wrong, but at least it's a little more moderate!

The formula in general is very high quality, especially considering the price. Highly pigmented, long lasting colour with minimal fallout (with one notable exception - corrupt - the blackest black eyeshadow I have ever seen, but fallout-o-rama. Definitely do your eyes first if using this!) and now a huge colour selection. If you're new to the makeup geek world, try a few of their classic warm toned mattes on for size - Cocoa Bear, Frappe, Beaches and Cream, and Peach Smoothie jump to mind - you won't be disappointed. Oh, and they're cruelty free, talc free, and paraben free.



The foiled eyeshadow formula is off. The. Charts. I can't even. Check the first column, third shadow down in the above photo. The formula is unbelievably shimmery and beautiful, and honestly feels like a cream. I have to use primer whatever eyeshadow I use thanks to my greaseball eyelids (nice image, eh?) but if you are prone to a crease at all you might want to use a primer for these. That shouldn't put you off though-they are glorious.

All of the eyeshadows come in individual pro-pans, which are magnetic - just pop them in a Z-palette of your choice and go. From experience, these also travel well if you look after them - I think the folks checking my hand luggage at Glasgow airport were a bit confused by the palettes of many, many colourful pans wrapped up carefully in my bag! 

The other brilliant thing about these is the price. £4.95 a pan (half the cost of a MAC shadow, for absolutely comparable quality) for the normal formula, and £7.95 for foiled, on beautybay.com

Sorry. I warned you.

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The ultimate holiday face trio - Sleek MakeUp Face Form Palette



It's that time of year. The weather is (finally) improving if you're in the UK; the sun has started to have that tiny tinge of warmth when it shows its face; and thoughts turn to sunnier climes. And obviously, first and foremost, what to pack in that holiday makeup bag, yes? The Sleek MakeUp Face Form Contouring & Blush Palette is definitely a little high street gem to consider.

Sleek makeup have generally been causing a fuss (in a good way) on the high street in the past few years, with good reason. The powders particularly quality products at complete bargain prices, and this little beauty is no exception. I have the kit in light, which comprises a smooth, matte, cool-ish brown contour, a champagne-toned highlight, and a rosy pink blush shot through with a golden shimmer.



Bear in mind in those swatches that I've been living in the tropics for a few months - I'm approximately equating to an olive-toned MAC NC40 at the moment, though usually I'm NC 20-25! These are also one-swipe swatches - excellent pigmentation from Sleek, as usual. They have also created 4 different colourways of this palette, ranging from fair to deep, so this will cater for most skin tones (hurrah!)
 The contour shade is subtle, smooth, and easier to blend than many of its more expensive contemporaries. I'm not a haute-contourer, but this is a very nice, believeable option.
The rosy, pink-gold blush is pretty shiny, and the almost metallic sheen increases with buffing in to the skin - incredibly flattering with a tan, but you may not need to use the highlight on top! It lasts for 3-4 hours on my oily skin in high humidity.
The highlight is STRONG. See-you-from-space strong. And a little glittery for my usual taste.. but on holiday, anything goes, right?! It has a really nice, fine texture and again blends like a dream. No complaints here. 

Altogether, this travel friendly trio is all the cheeks you need for a week in the sun. Whoever thought of this was a genius. And for £9.99? I'll just leave this here.

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The night time dream duo - Estée Lauder advanced night repair and Mizon good night white sleeping mask



As you'll learn on this blog, I am a creature of habit. I love routines, and planning actually makes me genuinely joyful (I know right? Who invited this guy). So after I accidentally combined Estée Lauder's and Mizon's night-time offerings (I was really tired and just slapped both on my face) with excellent results, a habit was born. I genuinely have not used anything else since!

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex is a mega-punchy overnight resurfacing serum. It has a light serum texture and is easily absorbed in to the skin, though it does leave a very slightly tacky finish. It claims to hydrate, smooth and "reduce the look of all key signs of ageing", and with an antioxidant rich formula, I can agree with most of this claim. Not going to lie, I love this stuff - I woke up almost looking like those girls that have "just woken up" (yeah right) in their insta-selfies. 

Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask is a gel-texture, non-sticky sleeping mask. Now when I think of sleeping masks, I have to confess, I think of stifling, heavy creams aimed at very dry skin. Not so with this little beauty. It's got a whacking great chunk of niacinamide in the ingredients list - I would deduce from that that it's aimed at evening out skin tone and reducing acne scars/sun spots. It's also chock-full of hyaluronic acid - fantastic for deep hydration without any oily, greasy texture. It has a very slight lavender scent which is extremely pleasant just before bed, and not at all overpowering and old-lady-ish. If you're of a drier persuasion you may want to use an oil along with this, but for me it is fantastic alone. Oily skins rejoice - this is practically made for you.

The two of these combined? DREAM TEAM. Think Instagram-filter-face. Estée first, Mizon second, sleep, done. That's my kinda recipe.
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Monday, 18 April 2016

The bargain face oil - Marks & Spencer's Pure Super Grape treatment oil

Marks and Spencers Pure Super Grape Overnight Treatment Oil


If you're an oily-skinned soul like me, probably the very last thing on your mind would be slapping some more oil on your cheeks. This conjures, in my mind at least, horrific visions of chip pans, student flat kitchen sinks, and deep fried pizzas. 

Let me reassure you though-in my case at least, oil has been my skin saviour. I've got oily-dehydrated skin - my poor pores seem to try to overcompensate with a flood of sebum any time my skin is irritated, spotty, or I use too harsh a product/anything foaming (ironically, usually a cleanser targeted at those of us with a perpetually shiny forehead). Using an oil at night, every second night or so, seems to be balancing my complexion, and I've been experiencing less breakouts (hurrah!) than ever before.

Enter Marks and Spencer's Super Grape Treatment Oil. It's an antioxidant-rich oil, with a relatively light, silky texture, and is easily absorbed in to the skin. The development team extract the principle antioxidant, resveratrol, from the pulp left at the end of M&S's wine-making process - good ol' Marksies, eh? Waste not!

 It's definitely a night-time treat unless you're into the chip-pan-face thing, but you'll need a double-take in the mirror in the morning. As a cheeky bonus, Pure super grape treatment oil is also vegan friendly and cruelty free. 

I am a bit of a skincare hoarder, and honestly I had overlooked this for more expensive models for a long time. On departing for Madagascar, I had to do a quick skincare shop - and this was what I literally grabbed on the way to the airport. A bargain at £16, and a perfect starter oil if you're not sure if it'll suit your skin. 4 drops is more than enough for my face, so this wee bottle lasts for an age. Give it a go and report back. It's a hidden gem!
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Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Morphe 35W review - is it worth the hype?




My natural habitat is Boots. You'll find me there going googly-eyed over the latest drugstore/high street wonder most weekends, and I am a massive drugstore skincare fan - you can't shut me up about French pharmacies once I get started (you have been warned). However, the one thing I have always struggled to find in the high street is a decent eyeshadow. Most of the shadows and palettes I have found are a bit dry, crumbly, and difficult to blend (especially the matte shadows), and I've come away from the experience a bit disheartened. Why should we have to pay some serious dollaz for the joy of a little pot of powder that doesn't fade to nothing? 

As you can imagine, I had high hopes for the Morphe 35W palette. Anyone and everyone has been raving about these palettes since they first burst on to the scene; especially after the ethereally beautiful Jaclyn Hill collaborated with the company. For what it's worth, here's my two pence on the budget palette causing such a stir.

The packaging is basic - smooth, black plastic, nothing exciting, click closure, snore snore snore. Let's move on.

Inside are 35 colours - good value when you consider the whole thing costs a mere £15.95 on
 Beauty Bay. One caveat - the first three ingredients are talc, mica, and mineral oil. Cheap. Hardly a surprise. But bear that in mind if this is an issue for you. There is also a faint but definite talc-y floral smell - nothing crazy, but noticeable. 

The colour selection is good, with a couple of surprises (Barbie pink, 2nd row, I'm looking at you). There are thousands of reviews online packed with swatches, so I'll only swatch the very best and very worst here for you in natural light:

The best performing in this palette are the metallic shimmers. Look how PURDY. Excellent pigmentation, beautiful colours and apply well with fingers or a brush. The texture is soft and smooth, and wear time is average. 

The mattes are, sadly, a different story altogether - chalky and generally poorly pigmented. I have to pack this stuff on, and there's a lot of fallout. They do, however, blend very easily due to the poorer pigmentation, so definitely a bit easier for an eyeshadow newbie, and good for practising more edgy looks without using 4 bottles of micellar water to remove it all afterwards - just don't expect them to hang around that long on your lids! 

Honestly? I'll make more use of this palette, and I regularly use the shimmery shadows as they are beautiful... but I won't buy another palette. I'm not on the rave review bandwagon. Soz. 

The search for the perfect budget palette continues! Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions! 
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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Pixi picks

Pixi Glow Tonic and Pixi Glow Mist


The love of Pixi beauty started, as with many things in life, with a Cult Beauty haul. Having heard rave reviews regarding Pixi Glow Tonic, and being very much in awe of anything Caroline Hirons says/does/likes, I thought I'd give it a go. Needless to say, I'm almost finished Glow Tonic bottle no.3, and evangelise about it to pretty much anyone who will listen - dear reader, you're next. Soz. 

Pixi Glow Tonic is an acid toner. It's a 5% glycolic acid solution, and therefore an exfoliant. Glycolic acid is a highly bioavailable alpha-hydroxy acid, targeting cells in the stratum corneum and essentially weakening their cohesion - this results in exfoliation of the dull "top layer" and reveals bright, radiant skin beneath. Marvellous. I'm not really a scrub person, and I've got quite sensitive, dehydrated/oily skin (lucky me) so this suits me perfectly. I cannot tell you the difference in my skin since I started using this, it's lovely stuff, my skin is much brighter as a result. It's also a bargain at £18. what's not to love?!

It's simple to use - use as any other toner, after cleansing, before serum - and highly effective. It has a strong white floral and-something-else scent which dissipates quickly, but bear that in mind if you have a sensitive nose! 

Another little cracker is the Pixi Glow Mist. It's a bit of a jack-of-all-trades mist, composed of oils, aloe vera and propolis. It can be used to refresh through the day, post acid toning, or if you're just feeling a little dry. the pump produces a really fine mist, so totally appropriate to skoosh this straight on to your face (it's not going to goop up in a blob on your nose, or give you the fright of your life). I personally wouldn't use this to set makeup, it's a little too glowy for me, but it is also brilliant for mid-day curl taming! 

You can find both of these wee gems at Cult Beauty, and this Sunday QVC in the UK have a whacking great 500ml bottle of Glow Tonic in stock. You can thank me later! 

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Friday, 15 April 2016

Frugal fitness on the go

Image credit Viktor Hanacek

Holidays. If you're anything like me, holidays are time for strolling at a zillionth of your normal pace, a LOT of reading/generally not moving, and ICE CREAM. All of the ice cream.

But what if you are one of those rare, beautiful, motivated creatures - the bona fide gym bunny?  What if you're such a frequent traveller that membership would be a waste of money? What if you (like me) just hate the gym generally?

Fear not my friends. I have a few cheap/free options for you to check out-either YouTube-able, Or DVDs you can upload on your iPod and go.

If you're not already familiar with Adriene Mischler of Yoga With Adriene on YouTube - get involved. You can thank me later That voice. She could read me the phone book and I'd listen all day. She's a fantastic yoga teacher with lessons for all levels - if you're a complete yoga noob like I was, I'd give her 30 days of yoga a go to start with - you'll be totally zen in no time.

The moderately terrifying Jillian Michaels - now. Hear me out on this one. If you're a fellow relatively conservative Brit, Jillian's style can seem a bit full on at first, but her HIIT workouts are worth the tough-trainer outlook. You'll struggle to walk the next day, but oh will you be ripped! You can pick up her DVDs on Amazon if you're U.K. based. Oh, no weights? No problem. 1.5 litre water bottles give more than enough resistance! 

Finally, the Nike Training Club App. This has every workout under the sun and is updated regularly, with video guides for each move in each workout. There's a great selection - from short 15 minute focused sessions to 45 min hardcore routines - and everything in between. No need to be bored doing a million sit-ups on repeat, and it's on your phone, so its easy to do anywhere. You need little to no equipment for most of the workouts, and if you are super motivated you can set up a month-long training program for yourself at whatever level you choose. Who needs the gym! 

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

Top SPF picks for oily skin.



I was chatting to a friend, Sarah, while walking to the market here in Madagascar yesterday. She's English, but has lived here for 5 years in the searing tropical sun, and if anything looks younger than ever (she's also a 5ft 10 model-esque legs-for-days mother of four. FOUR. And yes, delightful as well. Life's not fair, is it)! She puts this down to an SPF obsession, a wardrobe of sun hats, and generally being extremely sun conscious. I would argue there's also a generally beautiful person genetic factor too, but she's right - apart from the obvious benefits of protecting your skin from harm, SPF is a seriously important component of your anti-ageing arsenal.

Wherever you are in the world, sunscreen is a must, especially in sunnier climes. There are loads of different brands on the market; chemical/physical sunscreen hybrids, sunscreen infused primers - you name it, it exists. There's also a lot of misinformation about application, SPF rating and general use of sunscreen. Caroline Hirons debunks many a myth in her SPF cheat sheet so don't be lost in the sea of SPF as summer approaches!

 Here is a (very short) shortlist of 3 of the best broad spectrum (both UVA and UVB protection) options that I've found, especially if you're an oily gal like me:



La Roche-Posay Anthelios AC SPF30 Matte Fluid - this dinky wee bottle contains a light, easily absorbed, broad spectrum sunscreen aimed at oily skin. I can verify that it's not shine inducing, and sits well under makeup - it will leave a slight white cast though if worn alone, so just bear that in mind if you're planning on a Vogue cover anytime soon!
Vita Liberata passionflower and argan dry oil face serum SPF30 - phew, what a mouthful! This is oil based and definitely more of a glow giver. A little goes a long way - one pump is easily absorbed and feels silky and beautiful, anything more than that is a bit too shiny for my taste! Feels lovely on, has a faint, inoffensive smell which fades quickly, and doesn't break out my skin.
Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF50+. This is a veritable delight to use. Sits beautifully under makeup, very light and absorbs quickly, and completely non-greasy. I've not experienced any white cast using this, and it doesn't give you that I'm-sweating-not-glowing-there's-a-difference thing that I have experienced before when using SPF under makeup (to my detriment, when I was a bridesmaid. You can see my forehead from space in the photos. Oops.). All in all, a fantastic all-round option.

 So there you have it- my top SPF picks. If I look like Sarah in 5 years' time, I'll be showering gifts on the entire Alpha-H team.
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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

A little more about me.

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Image credit: Mirrorbox Photography



Oooooh if only I looked like that every day. The shot above was taken on our wedding day - gotta love a pro photographer.

I'm a Scot, living in England, currently volunteering and travelling in Madagascar. I love French pharmacies, fresh fragrances, good books, puppies, smoky eyes, nude lips, bold lips(actually, all things lips), pineapples, window shopping, off the beaten track travel, Jaclyn Hill, pineapples and bargains.

Watch this space for makeup and beauty reviews, travel tips, and style ideas - not that I am any kind of fashionista, I am a very normal person, promise!

Everything you see here was created by me unless otherwise stated - if you want to use anything please ask my permission first (beckychughes@gmail.com).









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7 Tips for Travelling in Madagascar

If it's not on your list - it should be.




I've been volunteering and travelling in Madagascar for the past few months. It is a breathtaking place - a country of contrasts, beautiful people, incredible creatures, and sunsets the like of which I had never seen before. It's not the easiest place to get to, or get around in, but it is well worth a little extra effort.

Here's a few choice pieces of information I have gleaned from living and working here, regarding having the best experience as a tourist:

Get a guidebook

The best one I've found is the Bradt Guide to Madagascar-regularly updated and generally accurate information, with loads of helpful appendixes on culture and language both in the book and on the website. Madagascar is not a country to go completely unprepared to, so definitely read up before you go!

Make the effort 

Just a few words of Malagasy can make such a massive difference to your experience. In my experience here people are thrilled by even the poorest attempt at the language- you'll be treated to a huge grin, probably laughed at (this is a good thing, promise!), and will make a friend in an instant. Unlike London/the UK, people stop to chat to each other frequently, so having just the niceties of small talk down will make your trip so much more enjoyable.


Don't flash your cash

Madagascar is (at time of writing) the poorest non-conflict country in the world. Even if you're staying at one of the incredible boutique hotels on Ile Ste Marie or Nosy Be, you will almost definitely be interacting with people living on less than 50 pence a day. Be sensitive, look after your stuff, and don't try to pay for a mango (200 Ariary, approximately a few pence) with a 10,000 (£2) note!


Lemurs ahoy!

 Andasibe is the place to go to see (and hear!) Indri, the largest lemurs, and is very easy to get to from Antananarivo. There's hotels there to suit every budget and good food too! Further north is Montagne D'Ambre National Park, another incredible visit. There are, of course, loads of other incredible creatures to see - check out Mr. Chameleon just chilling out on my window the other morning...





Get in a Taxi-brousse

 Oh my life. An experience to say the least! If you're not afraid of going off piste-and being less than comfortable-it is the method of transport à la mode. Madagascar runs on taxi-brousse! It's the cheapest, and in some ways easiest, way of getting around - but be warned, it is by no means luxury travel! If you're looking for a slightly slicker option, there is also a "tourist bus" which offers significantly improved comfort (your own seat and everything!), which travels up the RN7 and is still very reasonable cost-wise.


Time your travel

Roads are horrendous at certain times of year - usually between December and April travel is very difficult, if not impossible, to many parts of the island. Bear this in mind when booking a holiday. Also, many boutique hotels will close for low season as this time of year also coincides with the main cyclone season in Mada - avoid this, go for June - August!


Take your time 

Madagascar runs on Madagascar time. This is quite different to our usual concept of planning, and if you are, like me, cripplingly type A, you will find this takes a bit of getting used to. The taxi-brousse will leave when it is full, and not before. The food will arrive when it's ready. Make a conscious decision to embrace and enjoy the lack of time pressure and you'll be much more relaxed in all the ways!


If you're not afraid of a bit of dust and tricky travel-you will be one of the privileged few who gets to experience the beauty of one of the most incredible places on the planet. It is a glorious country. Come and visit!
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Tuesday, 12 April 2016

An ode to Judith.





This blog is an ode to Judith.

We all know a Judith. You probably haven't even realised that you do, but you do. She influences a lot of your life, let me tell you.

 She is effortlessly fashionable. Achingly cool. She even looks boss in her PJ's sans makeup. She is bargain hunter extraordinaire, skin care guru, and don't even get me STARTED on those excellent brows. She's well travelled, and not afraid of going off-piste. She's obsessed with high street and high end alike. Her wardrobe? An unlikely melange of Céline to ASOS, and all of it works. She's as at home prowling the aisles in Boots as she is wandering through Selfridges.

I'm aiming to bring a little of my Judith to you, dear readers, through the medium of the internet. I hope she (and I) bring you much joy.


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