Thursday, 18 September 2014

Review: Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm*

A while ago now, I was contacted by BlowLtd and offered the chance to review a product from their site. Considering they describe themselves as "The home of fast beauty", the chances of me saying no were pretty low, and after a little browse through the site's huge product range, I was kindly sent Emma Hardie's Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm*. I really love the luxurious, pampering feeling of a balm or oil cleanser, so I was pretty excited to see how this luxe option would measure up to the more budget-friendly products I'd tried in the past. I feel I have to mention that I really liked BlowLtd's packaging, which made the whole experience that little bit more special - if you're a sucker for packaging like me, you'll love the ribbon-tied, sticker-closed, tissue paper-stuffed branded box!
Blow Ltd Packaging
"Moringa Cleansing Balm, a balanced daily cleanser that thoroughly cleanses and moisturises and can calm sensitive skin and revitalise dull and mature skins. Doubles as a soothing and hydrating mask if left on the skin for ten minutes."
The product packaging is definitely high-end, a screw-cap jar in a beautiful silver finish; I'm a little uncertain about jar packaging purely for hygiene reasons but as long as you wash your hands before each use, I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem. It certainly makes for easy dispensing of the product! With the balm, I also received an Emma Hardie dual-sided professional cleansing cloth which has muslin on one side, to exfoliate any flaky or congested areas, and microfibre on the other side for a gentler cleansing action around more delicate areas. I love this idea in theory but I have to admit to having a bit of a weird phobia of microfibre, so I've only really been using the muslin side of this cloth. That's probably a bit of a waste, but if you don't have my peculiar fabric aversions, I'm sure you'll love the versatility of a dual-sided cloth.
Emma Hardie Moringa Balm
The thick, yellow-coloured balm is soft in the jar and it's easy to scoop out the required amount; I'd say I use less than half a grape's worth of balm for my whole face as the balm melts easily into the skin and spreads really nicely. I find massaging in a cleanser really relaxing and tend to take a minute or so to really work the balm into my skin, to be sure of lifting all my make-up and any other dirt and impurities I've picked up through the day. The directions suggest mixing the balm with a little water before applying to the face, but I prefer to apply to the face and then add water to emulsify before removing with a cloth soaked in hot water; I find it easier this way and the balm is less likely to run off my face, meaning I can take more time to really massage it in.
Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm Review
This does a pretty good job of melting away all traces of make-up; it does remove mascara pretty well but I do find it can sting my eyes a little so I tend to avoid this area with the balm, using a separate eye make-up remover first. The skin is left feeling soft, clean and nourished. It is suggested that this cleanser will suit all skin-types and I have to agree - it cleans my oily skin beautifully without stripping it and sending it into oil overdrive, whilst drier skin-types would benefit from the luxurious nature of the balm.
Emma Hardie Moringa Balm Review
Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm is available from BlowLtd priced at £36 for 100ml of product. No matter how you try and justify it, that is expensive for a cleanser and it's definitely more than I'd be willing or comfortable spending at the moment. However, I do believe investing in skincare is a good idea and is worthwhile in the long term, so I would consider repurchasing in the future. My 15ml jar has lasted over three weeks of daily use, so I think the 100ml jar would easily last four or five months, which makes the price tag a little easier to swallow. Have you tried Emma Hardie's Moringa Cleansing Balm, or any other products from the range? What are your thoughts on high-end skincare? Would you spend this much on a cleanser?

[*As stated, this product was sent to me for review purposes; as always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.]

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Winter Coats

Cold weather is coming and with it, the perfect excuse to buy a new Winter coat. I sadly probably won't be buying a new coat this season as I have a couple which I still wear and I'm currently trying to save as many pennies as possible towards learning to drive - it's an expensive pursuit, it turns out! That said, there's nothing wrong with looking, is there!? These are a few of my current favourites...
Winter Coats
(Clockwise from top-right):
Burgundy Brushed Funnel Coat, New Look, £49.99
Monochrome Zip Front Collarless Coat, New Look, £54.99
Gloverall Longline Hooded Duffle Coat, ASOS, £185
Sara Mac, Hobbs, £159
Jacket With Scarf, Joe Browns, £79.95
NW3 Maritime Leather Jacket, Hobbs, £299
I looove the colour burgundy, I think it looks so elegant and classy, so a burgundy coat would be just perfect; it's a super Autumnal colour, too. Monochrome goes with anything and again, it's just a timeless style which you could wear for years to come. I love the look of duffle coats (they always remind me of Paddington Bear!), and I absolutely adore the powder-blue colour of this one from ASOS. The mac is a classic style which I think every woman should own (I don't. Can you hear my will power wavering?) and the bright red is perfect for adding a pop of colour to dull rainy days. Joe Browns have a lovely selection of coats at the moment, I really love the cut of this one and the cuff detailing is beautiful.. Finally, I might actually treat myself to a leather jacket this season - I have a Hobbs voucher to spend, and whilst the Maritime sadly isn't available in my size, they have a couple of other leather jackets which I'm eyeing up. A biker is another classic really and something you'd always wear.
Will you be buying a new coat or jacket this year? Which of these is your favourite?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Review: Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal*

You may have seen my recent review of the Konjac Facial Sponge but I was also lucky enough to be sent The Konjac Sponge Company's 100% Natural Vegetable Fibre Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal*, a body sponge which is described as "the ultimate exfoliating experience".
Konjac Sponge Review
"Konjac is nature's enriching, powerful and effective answer to premium skin cleansing. The loofah plant is an exfoliating king. We have combined the goodness of Konjac plant with the power of the loofah, for an incredible deeper cleansing and exfoliating experience. Silky soft when wet • Exfoliates without damage • Deeply cleanses • Helps prevent dry skin patches and ingrown hairs • Leaves skin invigorated • Colouring & additive free."
Konjac Bamboo Loofah Sponge
The dark-grey sponge is considerably larger than the face sponge, as you can see below, but still fits in the hand relatively well, making it easy to use. The sponge claims to be "ergonomically designed with six waves"; I think rippled design looks good but I didn't find it felt much different on the skin compared to using the smooth back of the sponge. Like the Facial Sponge, this one feels quite hard and rough dry, but as soon as it gets wet it becomes soft and silky. I've been using this sponge for the last week or so in the shower with a blob of body wash to lather up and have a good old scrub all over to freshen up, and whilst it certainly leaves me feeling fresh and clean, I don't feel I'm getting as much in the way of exfoliation as I'd like. I usually use a pair of exfoliating gloves in the shower to wash myself and I just don't feel like this sponge compares in terms of really scrubbing my dry skin enough to remove dry patches and prevent ingrown hairs. If you prefer a gentle exfoliation this might suit you, but if you like a good old scrub you'll probably find this lacking.
Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal Review
Overall I do like this sponge and think it's a lovely idea but it's just not for me as far as exfoliation goes; I need something a bit more scrubby, whereas if you prefer a more gentle exfoliation this could be just the thing. The Konjac & Loofah Sponge with Bamboo Charcoal doesn't actually seem to be available on the Konjac Sponge Company's website yet, but you can see the rest of their Bath Sponge range here, priced from £10.99 each, with different varieties targeted at different skin-types. Have you ever tried Konjac sponges? What do you use for a good scrub in the bath or shower?
[*Please note this product was provided in return for an honest review; as always, all thoughts are 100% my own.]

Monday, 15 September 2014

FOTD: Atomic Rose

Browsing in Boots recently, I noticed that Rimmel have added a matte line to their Apocalips range; I hadn't seen anything about these Lip Velvets prior to stumbling across them in Boots, so I was keen to have a little look, and ended up indulging in the 2 for £10 offer on Rimmel products, picking up shade 206 'Atomic Rose', which is a dusty rose-pink shade as the name might suggest! You may remember I hated the original Apocalips formula at first, though I did eventually find a way to make it work for me, so I had mixed expectations about this Lip Velvet.
The packaging is very similar to the original Apocalips line with the snazzy-shaped tube I really like - in fact, it's identical aside from the fact that it has a matte finish, presumably to match the finish of the product. The wand is the same as the original range as well, with a doe-foot applicator with a silly "reservoir" which is supposed to hold just the right amount of product to cover your lips, but in my experience contains several times too much product, resulting in messy application and colour bleeding.
Rimmel Apocalips Atomic Rose
I applied this using the 'back' of the wand so as to avoid over-application, but you could equally use a lip brush if you have one handy. I found the product spreads easily and evenly, giving a nice opaque colour in one coat. However, I also found that the product doesn't really seem to dry or set, meaning it transfers easily to clothing, food/drinks and teeth; not ideal and somehow not something I expect from a matte product. The finish isn't completely matte, but more of a velvet finish, so I guess the product naming is pretty spot on there. The shade I chose, 'Atomic Rose', is a really wearable shade that I think would suit most skin tones and be suitable for everyday wear.
Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet Atomic Rose
Despite this being quite an understated lip colour, I chose to pair it with neutral eye makeup using Too Faced's Chocolate Bar palette, which I hope to have a review up for shortly. This should show you how easy it would be to incorporate 'Atomic Rose' into an everyday make-up look, as it just adds enough colour to bring everything together and look polished without being too over-done or in-your-face. You really have to be careful whilst wearing this, though, as it transfers so easily, and touching up seems to lead to the colour becoming patchy and cake-y - not a good look!
FOTD Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet Atomic Rose
[Products Used: Pop Beauty Face Magnet Primer; The Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser; Rimmel Lasting Finish Medium Coverage Foundation in 'Ivory'; Natural Collection Cover-Up Cream in 'Fair'; Natural Collection Loose Powder in 'Neutral Translucent'; Milani Baked Blush in 05 'Luminoso'; MUA Pro Brow Kit; Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette; Accessorize Volumising Mascara; Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet in 'Atomic Rose']
Overall, I really like this shade, I just wish it wore a little better on the lips as I'm not a fan of having to touch my make-up up multiple times throughout the day. Rimmel's new Apocalips Lip Velvets are currently available in four shades, with an RRP of £6.49 for 5ml of product, though Rimmel is currently on a 2 for £10 offer in Boots. Have you picked up any of these? Do you like the look of 'Atomic Rose'?


Sunday, 14 September 2014

NOTD: Pink Sprinkle

NOTD Sally Hansen Sugar Coat Pink Sprinkle
I picked up Sally Hansen's Sugar Coat nail polish in 230 'Pink Sprinkle' from Poundland earlier in the week and, since I have three days off over the weekend, thought I'd give it a whirl on my nails. The bottle suggests two thin coats but I ended up going for three to gain a little bit more opacity; the nail line is still visible if you look closely, but much less so than with just two coats. I haven't used a base coat (naughty!) and skipped top coat so as not to lose the lovely gritty textured finish. 'Pink Sprinkle' is a warm hot pink with different sized glitters and a textured finish.
NOTD Sally Hansen Pink Sprinkle Sugar Coat
I love the way this looks (and feels!) on my nails, and am happy to say this is another Poundland bargain! Have you ever bought nail polish or other make-up from pound shops? Are you a fan of the textured nail trend, or are you over it?


Monday, 8 September 2014

ELF Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette 'NYC'

You may have seen my recent post on ELF's Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette in 'Seattle'; I also picked up the palette in 'NYC', which I'm sharing today. Like 'Seattle', 'NYC' contains ten baked eyeshadows in a range of shimmery shades. The palette comes housed in an outer cardboard packaging which, like the 'Seattle' palette, shows the shades contained; these shades are also reflected in the colour of the bars along the top of the packaging, where the palette name is printed.
ELF NYC Baked Eyeshadow Palette
"This perfect palette of 10 pigment rich baked eyeshadow shades can be used wet or dry for a subtle or vibrant effect • Infused with Jojoba, Rose, Sunflower, Apricot, and Grape Seed to condition and nourish the skin • Create gorgeous custom blended color for both day and night looks • Directions: For longer lasting color first apply an eyeshadow primer. Using an eyeshadow brush, apply the color of your choice or layer shades for a multi-dimensional look on the eye. Use the darker hues as an eyeliner for a bold effect."
ELF Studio NYC Palette
Inside, the palette is the same as 'Seattle'; in fact, it's literally indistinguishable without opening it, which annoys me slightly - would it really be so hard to have a label on the backs to allow you to differentiate easily if you own more than one!? The palette itself is made of black chunky plastic which I still don't like - I think it feels cheap and poor-quality. Opened up, however, the ten shadows within are gorgeous shades, and you also get a decent-sized mirror which is always handy to have. The shades don't have names (boo, ELF!), but are as follows. Top row: a shimmery pale pink, a shimmery pale rose-toned gold, a pearlescent white, a cool-toned gold, a shimmery silver. Bottom row: a dark grey with shimmer, a warm brown with shimmer, a gunmetal grey, a warm brown with gold shimmer, and a navy blue with silver shimmer.
ELF NYC Palette
ELF Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette NYC Review
Much like 'Seattle', the shadows in 'NYC' are pretty rubbish when used dry, with a spectacular lack of pigmentation meaning you really get very little colour pay-off for your application efforts. Applied with a damp brush, however, the shadows really come to life - the swatches below show one swipe of each shade with a dampened brush. All ten shades are wearable ones, giving you the option of a wash of colour, or building up product for a more intense effect. Applying with a well-dampened brush gives an almost foil-like effect to the shadows which I really like.
ELF NYC Palette Swatches
I feel like this palette has less unusual shades than 'Seattle'; all ten are pretty typical baked shadow shades and don't really feel as special to me. Don't get me wrong, they're nice shades and ones I'll use, just not as noteworthy as some of 'Seattle''s shades.
For this look, I used the second shadow in the top row all over the lid with a damp, flat brush. I then added the second shade from the bottom row with a small damp brush along my lashline as a liner, as well as in the crease for a bit of definition. You can see here that I struggled to blend due to applying the shadows wet; it's not a huge problem but if you're looking for perfect blending, I'd look elsewhere. I've included an outtake photo here because it made me laugh, excuse my ridiculousness.
[Products used: Pop Beauty Face Magnet Primer (forehead/nose); Benefit The POREfessional (cheeks/chin/jaw); Makeup Revolution The One Foundation in shade 8; Natural Collection Cover-Up Cream in 'Fair'; Collection Loose Powder in 'Translucent'; Sleek Blusher in 'Suede'; Wet N Wild x Fergie Shimmer Palette in Rosé Champagne Glow; ELF Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette 'NYC'; MUA Pro Brow Kit; Accessorize Volumising Mascara; Laqa & Co Lip Lube in 'Menatour']
Much like 'Seattle', I've found that the shadows in 'NYC' last well even when applied without primer, easily 8+ hours. ELF's Studio Baked Eyeshadow Palette is priced at £10 for 6g of product, though ELF have regular promotions and discount codes so if you hang on for one of those you should be able to make a nice saving; mine cost me £4.90. I feel like I'd be disappointed if I'd paid full price for this but at under a fiver I'm pretty happy with it and would recommend picking it up if you like the look of the shades and don't mind applying them damp to get their full effect. Have you tried any of ELF's Studio Baked Eyeshadow palettes? Do you like the look of NYC?


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Skincare Wishlist: Day Creams

I posted a Skincare Wishlist featuring cleansers I was lusting over a few weeks ago; I've finally got around to the next installment, which is going to focus on day creams I'm currently loving the look of! I always struggle to find moisturisers which suit my oily skin, giving enough hydration without leaving me resembling an oil-slick. This is particularly important in a day cream if I want to avoid my make-up sliding off my face altogether by lunchtime!
Skincare Wishlist: Day Creams #bbloggers
The Body Shop Skin Clearing Tea Tree Lotion, £8
Good Things Manuka Honey Daily Moisturiser, £7.99
I have long been a lover of The Body Shop's Tea Tree range but have never tried the lotion for some reason; this looks like a budget-friendly option for oily skins. I've heard nothing but good things about the Good Things Manuka Honey Moisturiser (see what I did there!?) and it really does sound gorgeous, as well as being a bit of a bargain. Dr Brandt isn't a brand I'm overly familiar with but the Pores No More cream sounds pretty good and I'm always up for shrinking or hiding my pores! I've wanted to try Origins' GinZing moisturiser since it was launched yet still haven't got round to it; it can only be a matter of time now. Lush's Enzymion has pretty mixed reviews but sounds promising. Again, Murad aren't a brand I've had a lot of experience with but this correcting cream sounds pretty nice and as an added bonus, contains SPF 15. I've really liked the Vichy products I've tried and the Normaderm Hydrating Care sounds like it's made for my skin. I've never tried Melvita but have read a few favourable reviews, and anything called 'mattifying' tends to scream my name... I really like the Origins Zero Oil range so I'd love to try this lotion, and finally La Roche-Posay's Effaclar Mat is a bit of a blogger cult favourite, though one I've yet to try, so it had to feature on my list really!
What's your favourite day cream? Do you have any recommendations for me? Have you tried any of these?


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Review: Konjac Facial Sponge*

I was recently asked if I'd like to try some Konjac Sponge products; although I'd heard of the brand previously, I wasn't at all familiar with their products, so was thrilled to be offered and of course said yes! I was kindly sent one of their 100% Natural Vegetable Fibre Face Sponges* to trial and review. The Konjac Sponge Company have recently re-designed their packaging to give it a much more high-end feel, but the product inside is the same as always. The version I was sent is their new 'Face Mouse', which is shaped to fit perfectly into the palm of your hand. Suitable for all skin types, the Konjac Sponge Company say, "The Konjac Sponge is nature's enriching, powerful and effective answer to premium skin cleansing. Developed by the Japanese who have harnessed the goodness and benefits of the Konjac plant for centuries. Silky soft when wet • Gently exfoliates • Deeply cleanses skin and the delicate eye area • Refines pores • Removes water-based makeup • Works with or without cleanser • Leaves skin radiant and rejuvenated • Suitable for sensitive skin • Colouring- and additive-free."
Konjac Sponge Company
I have to admit to being a little sceptical at first as the sponge feels really quite hard when dry, and not at all the sort of thing you want to be rubbing onto your face. Once fully wet however, as promised, the sponge becomes silky soft and feels lovely on the face. The shape of the sponge makes it really easy to hold and apply the perfect amount of pressure; I tend to use this in the morning in the shower with a pump of my REN Mayblossom T-Zone Control Gel Cleanser, although I have also used it as a second cleanse without any product after removing my make-up in the evening. I do find it makes my cleanser go further and leaves my skin feeling really clean, soft and smooth. I wouldn't use it to remove my make-up but that's because I prefer an oil cleanser as my first cleanse in the evening, and I don't feel like I'd be confident that the sponge was clean after that. For mornings or for a second cleanse in the evening, however, this is perfect and really does add an element of exfoliation. It's so gentle that I can't imagine it irritating even the most sensitive of skins, and of course the fact that it can be used without any product is a bonus in that respect.
Konjac Face Mouse
Also included in the packaging is the following information on using and caring for your Konjac Facial Sponge; it's pretty straightforward, my only concern really is how hygienic it is to have the sponge just air-dry after use. I'm in the habit of using a fresh flannel or muslin cloth every day and have really seen my skin improve since starting to do this, so I'm a little dubious about this long-term, and will no doubt ultimately be tempted to chuck it in the washing machine for a thorough wash...
Konjac Facial Sponge Use & Care
Overall, I'm definitely glad I've tried the Konjac Facial Sponge and it's something I'll consider buying again as I do feel it's a nice addition to my skincare routine, making my cleansers work harder and offering gentle exfoliation. The Konjac Face Mouse is priced at £8.99 and is available from the Konjac Sponge Company. Konjac sponges are also available from Selfridges and Cult Beauty, amongst others - a full list of stockists is available here. Have you tried Konjac sponges? What do you think - beauty must-have or just a gimmick? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

[*This product was provided for review purposes. As always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.]

Friday, 5 September 2014

NOTD: Dearberry Nail Lacquer

I was recently lucky enough to win a Memebox Colorbox from the lovely Kel at Adventures in Tea & Cake, and one of the products contained within was a Dearberry Nail Lacquer in shade 19. Fitting with the Orange theme of the Colorbox, shade 19 is a creamy mid-orange in the bottle - neither neon nor pastel, but somewhere comfortably in the middle. I found this applied neatly but dried quite streaky, leading me to apply three coats in total to gain a reasonably even finish, though it's by no means perfect. I found the brush pretty easy to use, it's just a standard nail polish brush rather than one of the wide ones which gives easier application, but it did the job. The polish dried nice and quickly to a reasonably glossy finish; the photos below show three coats with no base coat.
Dearberry Nail Lacquer Shade 19 Memebox
I really like this shade - it's perfect for the summer months and I think it'll carry through into Autumn quite nicely as well since it puts me in mind of fallen leaves and, of course, Halloween pumpkins! The Memebox Colorbox Orange is unfortunately now sold out, but shade 19 is available direct from Dearberry here - if you can read Korean, that is! I apologise if that website is actually no good for getting hold of this nail polish, I cannot read Korean, so I'm not too sure myself... Have you tried any of Dearberry's Nail Lacquers, or indeed any of their other products? Have you ever purchased a Memebox? I'm sorely tempted by quite a few of the ones that are currently available...


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Review: Essence Blush Up! 'Heat Wave'

I picked up Essence's Blush Up! Powder Blusher in shade 10 'Heat Wave' a few weeks back now in Wilkinson's and have been wearing it frequently ever since! The Blush Up! powder blushers are beautiful graduated pressed powder blushers, with 'Heat Wave' featuring a pink/orange gradient which just screams 'SUMMER!' to me.
Essence Blush Up! Powder Blusher Heat Wave
The clear plastic packaging makes it easy to see the shade, feels sturdy and secure, and means you can see how pretty it is at all times. There's no mirror in the compact but that's a minor issue for me as blusher isn't something I re-apply whilst out and about. I really like the way the label on the back reflects the colour gradient of the actual product. "Multi colour powder blush for a fresh look all day long • Use each colour solo or create individual looks by combining them • From natural to intensive - everything is possible!"
Essence Blush Up! Heat Wave
Essence Blush Up! Heat Wave Blusher
The powder feels silky smooth to the touch; I've been applying this with my ELF Studio Stippling Brush as it is super pigmented and it's really easy to go overboard and end up looking like you've seen a bit too much of the sun... I have discovered that orange shades really don't suit me, so I tend to swirl both sides of the blusher together, though your could use them separately without too much fuss.
Essence Blush Up! Heat Wave Swatches
The lightest swirl in the pan with my brush and then gentle dabs blended out onto the cheekbones is really all that's needed to get the perfect colour pay-off - I am super pale, so if you're a little darker in skin tone than myself you could maybe get away with a heavier-handed application. This is a matte blusher so I tend to add a powder highlight over it on the cheekbones just to brighten my face up a little more.
FOTD Essence Blush Up!
[Products used: Pop Beauty Face Magnet Primer (on forehead & nose); The Body Shop Tea Tree Pore Minimiser (on cheeks, chin & jaw); Revlon ColorStay Foundation in '110 Ivory'; Natural Collection Cover Up Cream in 'Fair'; Collection Loose Powder in 'Translucent'; Essence Blush up! Blusher in 'Heat Wave'; Wet N Wild x Fergie Shimmer Palette in 'Rosé Champagne Glow' (as highlight on cheekbones & browbones); 'Noir' & 'Me, Myself & Eye' from Sleek Showstoppers PaletteMUA Pro Brow Kit; Accessorize Volumizing Mascara]
I've found this blusher wears really well on my oily skin (I tend to apply it over foundation set with powder); it doesn't really fade even when I wear it for a full shift at work and is still in place when I get in after wearing it for around 12 hours. Essence Blush Up! Powder Blush is available from Wilkinson's and is priced at £3.50 for 8g of product; it's a bargain price for a really pretty blusher which also looks lovely on the skin (which is, some may argue, the important part...) and I'd definitely recommend picking it up if you see it in store! Have you tried any of Essence's Blush Up! blushers? What's your favourite Essence product?