Sunday, 31 March 2013

BBHQ March task: photo editing

So the beauty bloggers headquarters task for March is to share photo and video editing tips and programmes. Since I don’t have a YouTube channel for my blog this post will focus on photo editing.

I don't do any editing of my blog photographs, mostly through a lack of understanding. I try really hard with my photography to make sure that I get an accurate representation of the products so I have never felt the need to do anything other than crop any extra space.
I use Picasa, which is a free programme by google. It's not particularly fancy, but it does have a few editing features such as redeye, contrast and straighten, as well as the ability to add a range of different effects — my favourite is soft focus.

My main reason for using Picasa was that after running out of space to store photographs on blogger I got into a bit of a panic as to how I was going to put photos onto my blog. I didn't like the sound of uploading to another programme, getting a URL and inserting that into my blog, especially when I read that this didn't always work and pictures wouldn't appear.

So after a quick read on Google I found out that as long as images were less than 800 pixels your storage space is unlimited. Now I am not entirely sure that Picasa is resizing my images to this, but it does say ‘best for online sharing’ and so far I haven’t had any problems! 

The great thing about Picasa was that with one drag and drop step I can place photographs into a folder synced to my blogger account, upload the images and add a watermark so that they are ready to be inserted. Because the images were synced I could select photographs for a blog post wherever I am.
Another programme I have started to use recently is a free app called PictureCollage. From it you can create a college of different sizes, picture numbers and with various effects. For short posts I occasionally need lots of pictures but I don't like all the space they take up. So this is a great option for keeping the size of the post small without losing the detail and images you would want. The app does have options for different frames and effects but I tend to keep everything basic. 
If you are interested in finding out more about editing, there is a link here to all the other bloggers taking part in the March BBHQ task.

Please let me know if there are other apps or free programmes you would recommend and equally what you suggest staying away from!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Benefit Fake Up

Benefit is on a role with their product releases this year. First came Fine-One-One, then the World Famous Neutrals and now Fake Up. Of all of them, this is the one I was most excited for.

Fake Up is described as a hydrating crease-control concealer, that has been proven to keep the skin hydrated for 6 hours. It is made up of two parts, a hydrating ring containing vitamin E and apple seed extract for moisurisation and a concealing core to smooth skin, hide dark circles and diffuse light.
I am constantly being told I look tired (I know, thanks!). The skin around my eyes and their shape makes them look darker so I would love nothing more than to achieve that Kim Kardashian brightness. I also have dry skin and fine lines starting to develop so the last thing I want is something that settles in the lines and looks worse than going bare.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the final stop of the Fake Up tour at the Benefit Spitlefields boutique. After quizzes, nibbles and some information on the product we were all given the entire shade selection to take home and a Hello Flawless Powder foundation to celebrate its 1 year birthday.
Fake Up comes in three shades, light medium and deep and we were told that all three shades could be used together for contouring. In fact at London fashion week, the Benefit team had gone as far as using the product as a foundation on the models when they were short of time.

I use the shade medium on a daily basis underneath my eyes, which glides onto the skin and blends in easil, without having to tug the eye area. I use my fingers to blend but you could also use a foundation or a concealer brush and I imagine a beauty blender or sponge would also work well.
From left to right: light, medium and deep
After wearing all day my eye area felt smooth and hydrated and I am pleased to report that I didn't experience any creasing. Even though it is so hydrating it doesn’t leave the eye area looking shiny.

Although the medium shade doesn’t give me that KK look, it does even out the colour around my eye area and make me look brighter on a daily basis. On a night out I would use the light shade to add extra brightness and it would also work well as a shimmer-free highlight shade. I used deep as an alternative to a powder contour and found it much easier to blend and get a defined look. However, I don’t think the shade is right for my skin tone.

Fake Up costs £18.50 for 3.5g. Considering I have paid £10 for Garniers eye roll on, which doesn't have the staying power or the level of coverage as this product, I think the price is reasonable. The only thing I can’t judge at the moment is how long it will last.

Finally, just a quick note on the packaging…how cute! I love the design of the tube but also that the boxes are slightly different colours to indicate the shade.

Fake Up is released today (30 March) in the UK and can be found in stores or online, will you be faking it?


Friday, 29 March 2013

Ideal Home Show 2013 haul

So with 13 days left, it happened, I broke my spending ban. BUT it was worth it.
In my original spending ban post I mentioned that I would be visiting the Vitality Show and Ideal Home Show this year and that I would allow myself those days to spend but only if there was a really good deal to be had.

I resisted the temptation at the Vitality Show, opting to buy food instead with the aim of achieving good skin and beauty from the inside out. However, when I spied my favourite makeup up brand at the Ideal Home Show, it was going to be hard to resist, especially when I was planning on buying something after my spending ban anyway.

I recently visited the Bella Pierre counter at House of Fraser for an updated colour match after noticing that my foundation was making my face look darker, almost orange, compared to my neck. I’ve never changed my foundation between summer and winter, so it didn’t really occur to me that I might have to.
I was matched the shade Nutmeg in the pressed compact, which in theory is a darker shade, but the compact formulation and my current undertones make it suitable for me to use in the winter. If I do happen to see any sun this year and get a tan, I can then go back to using my original shade cinnamon.

So in theory this was a needed purchase, as for the bronzer and primer I picked up too, I have no excuse! I have never used the compact version of the foundation, so I will have a review up as soon as I have tested it.

Other exhibitors at the show were Beautiful Brows and Tropic skin care, which I have purchased and reviewed in the past. Benefit were also at the show and were offering 10% off and a free gift with any three product purchases, so my sister took advantage and picked up the goodies above. They also have a product of the day, which is at further reduced price.

The Ideal Home Show closes on Monday and if you are heading down I recommend you check out Bella Pierre and come back and let me know what other bargains you found!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Sample session: Smashbox light primer

I've tried the original primer from Smashbox in the past, although it was very good as a primer the formular meant that if I used it for more than 3 days in a row I would start to break out.

The light formulation is designed for those with oily, acne-prone or sensitive skin. The primer is water based and contains oil absorbers that are meant to provide a smooth and matte finish all day.

Smashbox also say that light diffusers in the primer minimise the appearance of imperfections and vitamin C and other peptides help to even skin tone and promote collagen production.
Although the main ingredient is water the primer still contains silicone but it feels, and looks, more like a cream than a gel.

The primer absorbed into my skin quickly and didn't affect my makeup application. It did work to minimise pores, although not as much as Porefessional, and left my skin looking matte.

I wore the primer for over 12 hours, applying at about 7.30 in the morning. Although my makeup was in place at lunchtime, by 6pm it had faded a lot and you could see the unevenness of my skin tone.

That being said 11 hours of wear is a good result for a primer and even though my skin is dry I would expect a similar lasting power for someone with oily skin.

I would have liked to have test this for a few more days to check that it doesn’t cause break outs, but otherwise it is a nice primer and I prefer it over the original formulation. But at £25 for a 30ml tube, I will be continuing my hunt for the perfect primer.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

SoukSouk — a green and clean beauty box

I mentioned in my previous post that one of the most exciting things I saw at the Vitality Show was the launch of a new beauty box called SoukSouk. I have a little bit of a love hate relationship with beauty boxes, I love the idea but the samples are never very generous or there is so much variation in the boxes that you can be left feeling short changed.

SoukSouk works like many other beauty boxes, you can subscribe on a monthly basis or take advantage of subscription packages and each month you receive a beauty box filled with 4 to 5 samples.

The unique thing about SoukSouk is that it offers ‘green and clean’ beauty products, including brands that are certified organic and natural, are free from certain chemicals and are not tested on animals. The box also includes a magazine, SoukSouk: little green magazine, which contains information on the products as well as beauty news, tips and features.

I spoke to the founder Victoria, who told me that the box aims to support brands that are trying to do the right thing in terms of reducing environmental damage and using the best ingredients, as well as brands that are not necessarily well known. For this reason they also pay for the samples that are in the boxes and can offer good sample sizes (I didn’t actually realise that other beauty boxes might not pay for the samples!)

Victoria also told me that at the moment everyone will receive the same boxes but that she hopes in the future to be able to offer products catered to individual needs.
The April box
My sister has more sensitive skin than I do and with only a gentle nudge from me signed up for a 3-month subscription. The boxes are usually priced at £12 + £2.95 P&P, but at the show a 3-month subscription for £30 + P&P was on offer.

I am hoping that my sister will share her thoughts on the contents of the SoukSouk boxes since I doubt that she will be very happy if start to highjack them every month, so please encourage her in the comments below!

Also, Victoria very kindly allowed me to offer the show price on my blog, so if you are interested in taking advantage click here! You will need to be quick though because the offer is only available until Tuesday 2 April 2013.

What do you think about this new addition to the UK beauty box selection, is it something you would subscribe to? If you would like to find out more you can see the Souk Souk websiteFacebook and Twitter pages.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Vitality Show 2013 haul

So after looking forward to it for so long this year’s visit to the Vitality Show has come and gone. Although there were plenty of bargains to be had, this year was “the year we bought all the food” Well not literally, but it felt like it.
The show was divided into six zones, health and nutrition, sport and fitness, beauty and styling, life change, holistic health and healing and yoga.
As I said, all of my purchases were food related, which means I am still on track with my spending ban, woohoo! I products I am most excited to try are Aduna Boabab (powder and capsules), Pure Gold Collagen and Matcha green tea.

I knew after reading a review on All That Slap’s blog that I wanted to start taking Boabab so the 30% discount at the show made the purchase even better. Briefly, Boabab is considered the latest super food and is meant to improve mood, increase energy,  relieve stress, boost the immune system, aid digestion, assist in weight management and maintain good skin and the anti-aging process. 
Pure Gold Collagen is something I read a lot about in the blog world when it was released and I was curious to try it at the time but wasn’t willing to spend £35 for a box of 10. At the show one box was on offer for £10 and I was told because of my age I should only take one bottle twice a week, which means that I have a months supply. My sister and mum also picked up a box each and we will hopefully all report back on results, if any!

Finally, I also picked up Matcha green tea. I have been buying and loving Matcha green tea drinks from Planet Organic and Bubbleology and at an average price of £3 each I figured that a tube for £15 would save me a lot of money. Although I brought it because of the taste, matcha green tea is also meant to have lots of health benefits containing 70-times the antioxidants of vitamin C. 
Imedeen, anti-ageing skincare formulators, were also present at the show and were performing skin analysis using an ultrasound machine to look at the different layers of skin and the collgen at the protein levels. Due to our genetics we were all told that we had above average levels of protein in our skin compared with the average for our ages. We were also given a 16 day supply of the most suitable nutritional supplement for us if we did want to consider taking anything. 
Although I resisted adding to my collection, there were a lot of beauty bargains to be had. The Vintage Cosmetics Company were offering two sets of lashes for the price of one and brushes for 50% off. Tropic Skincare, Green People and other natural/organic brands were also at the show. Zest and Health and Fitness magazine were also on offer with goody bags containing a variety of different treats.

Finally, launching at the show was SoukSouk, a ‘green and clean’ beauty box. If you want to find out more I will be have a separate post dedicated to it, but if you are heading to the show tomorrow be sure to look out for it, I am sure you will be impressed.

Overall, as ever, we had a lovely day at the show. We were stuffed on samples and managed to get some great deals, I can’t wait to see the results of my beauty treats working from the inside out.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Eve Lom cleanser review

I wanted to try this cleanser ever since I heard Mouldy Fruit feature it as a one of her monthly favourites.

The cleanser has been described by Vogue as “probably the best cleanser in the world”. It claims to be suitable for all skin types and conditions and even though you are meant to see results immediately, in terms of skin looking more radiant and feeling smoother, this is only meant to improve with use.
The cleanser has a balm like texture, and with the heat of your hands it spreads easily on the skin. It does contain tiny granules, which feel lightly exfoliating (but I don’t think that’s the point of them). It is not a great sensation when it comes to rubbing over the eyes so I usually take a little product in between my fingers and melt it down as much as possible before gently massaging over my eye area.

The scent is strong but not overwhelming, I can smell clove and eucalyptus and overall I think it is a herbal scent. I have days when I like it and others when I don’t….go figure!

Using the product is a nice experience, I haven't followed the long winded instructions included for a facial massage, which is a nice touch but not practical on a daily basis. But I would like to try and incorporate the technique once or twice a week as it is meant to help decongest and drain toxins.

The instructions recommend that you massage the cleanser onto the face and neck, then soak the muslin cloth in hot water and press the cloth against sections of the face and neck for a few seconds, repeating up to three times, before working the muslin cloth against the skin in small, circular movements to remove the cleanser. As a final step the brand recommends rinsing the cloth in cool water and pressing against the skin. This doesn’t take a long time, and is fine as a routine in the evenings, but in the mornings I have been massaging the product into the skin and immediately using the cloth to remove the cleanser. I haven’t found that it is suitable for use with the Clarisonic.
Ingredients: paraffinum liquidum (mineral oil), cetearyl alcohol, peg-30 lanolin, bis-diglyceryl polyacyladipate-2, aluminum stearate, theobroma cacao (cocoa butter), peg-75 lanolin, chamomilla recutita (chamomile oil), eugenia caryophyllus (clove oil), eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus oil), humulus lupulus (hops oil), phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, p-chloro-m-cresol, eugenol, isoeugenol

Overall I'm in mixed minds about the product. It is very effective at removing eye makeup as well as other makeup from the skin but I have noticed my skin is more congested recently. I haven't broken out but I seem to have more blackheads. Being that the first ingredient is mineral oil (which I’ve never had any issues with) I’m wondering if this is one of those instances where I have to use a toner to remove any residual cleanser — a step I usually skip.

For a lot of products I am not a fan of tubs as containers, but I assume for this product there isn’t much of a choice because of its texture.

I purchased mine at Space NK as part of a Christmas box set, but usually a 100ml tub would cost you £55, which includes a muslin cloth (which is huge and a nice quality btw). There are also 50ml and 200ml tubs, which cost £40 and £85, respectively. It’s not a cheap cleanser, and I’m in two minds about whether or not I would purchase it again. It is lovely to use and effective, but a 50ml tub lasted me approximately two months when used day and night, which doesn’t make it the best value for money. There is a very good chance I was a bit generous with the application though, so I will see how long the 100ml tub lasts before I make up my mind.

Is the Eve Lom cleanser your holy grail?


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Quick review: Inika organic eyeliner

I didn’t become aware of Inika until late last year, the brands unique selling point is that it offers all natural and almost all organic makeup and is certified as halal too. I’m a huge fan of mineral makeup and Inika offer a full range of makeup products and more than just powders.

Ingredients: Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Glycerides, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Mica (CI 77019), Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Levisticum Officinale (Black Lovage) Oil (Olus), Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil*, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sorbic Acid, May Contain (+/-):, Iron Oxides (CI 77491) (Red), Iron Oxides (CI 77492) (Yellow), Iron Oxides (CI 77499) (Black), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Chromium Hydroxide Green (CI 77289), Ultramarines (CI 77007), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Pigment Violet (CI 77742) *Certified Organic
The liner comes with a complimentary sharpener lid, which did fall off in my bag so I would recomend keeping it at home or in a makeup bag 

I recieved the certified organic eyeliner in the shade black caviar in my #bbloggersxmas goody bag. It is not the darkest of black but it is good if you want something less harsh to use on a daily basis. The texture is smooth and creamy, which makes it easy to apply and blend if necessary.
The wear on the lash line is good and I didn't get any smudging all day. However, the wear wasn't as good on my waterline. After about an hour I started getting eyeliner underneath my lid and setting the liner with a powder didn’t improve the wear. I'm starting to think I'm always going to struggle finding an eyeliner that stays on my waterline unless it is waterproof….. is there such a thing as having a very watery waterline?

The eyeliner costs £13.50, which is more than a high street brands but great for a product that is organic. Inika can be found online or in John Lewis stores.

Although the liner isn’t quite right for me, I am interested to try out more from the brand. What would you recommend I try next?


Monday, 18 March 2013

Sample session: Murad skin perfecting primer

The Murad Hybrids Skin Perfecting Primer (dewy finish) is meant to be a 2-in-1 primer that provides a “radiant glow” while treating the skin to even skin texture and tone. The primer contains lots of good stuff and more importantly is free from parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs and triclosan.

Being a decent sized sample I managed to get to try of this primer over a few days before making up my mind.

As I have mentioned previously, I am a big fan of anything that crosses the makeup/skincare boundary. Murad say that the primer contains pore factor-5, which minimises the appearance of pores while balancing oil production, adaptive shade technology to create a perfect skin tone match and light enhancing minerals create a radiant glow.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Silica, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Boron Nitride, Stearyl Dimethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Seed Extract, Capryloyl Glycine, Sarcosine, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract, Rosa Multiflora Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbic Acid, Chitosan, Propyl Gallate, Polyurethane-40, Zinc Gluconate, Sodium PCA, Betaine, Sorbitol, Glycine, Alanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Arginine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, 77491, 77492, 77499). 

The primer is flesh toned but quite a lot darker than my natural skin tone. However, once it is applied and blended it adapts to match perfectly.

The consistency is similar to a light moisturiser. The product is unscented, feels nice on the skin and a little goes a long way.

Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love this, I didn't notice any difference in the lifespan of my makeup and I didn’t think that my skin looked dewy either. It does reduce redness but it doesn’t provide enough coverage to replace foundation for me. Since I don’t have oily skin I’m not able to comment on the balancing oil production claim, but I didn’t find it drying at all, which is a plus for those like me with dry skin.

At £29.50 for the full size, this definitely isn't on the repurchase list for me but I would like to try out more from the brand. Is there anything from Murad that you would recommend for dry skin?


Thursday, 14 March 2013

So…? Va Va Volume dry shampoo, a curly heads friend

I'm not usually a fan of dry shampoo. In my opinion it is not really a curly girls friend, because by the time my hair starts to look greasy the curls have fallen out and the only thing that will revive them is a wash!

That being said, I have really enjoyed using So…? Va Va Volume, extra body dry shampoo, which came as part of the #BbloggersXmas goody bag, mostly because of its volume boosting property. Day two, or even day three, after wash, when my hair has lost its natural volume, this is great for spraying onto the roots and giving a lift (as well as of course, taking away any shine!)
The product claims to have a ‘gorgeous smelling fragrance’, but I didn’t smell anything in particular. Another plus point is that the product doesn't leave a grey powder that is difficult to rub away.

This is something I will definitely be repurchasing after my spending ban. A full sized bottle is £1.49, which is great value for money, and it is available to buy in Savers stores but unfortunately not online.


Monday, 11 March 2013

Sample session: Revlon age defying foundation

My spending ban has made me come across lots of samples and sachets that I keep meaning to use but never get round to. I intend to use them on trips away but I never do (mostly because I don’t actually go away as often as I would like to think I will!)

So I decided I should make a point of using things once a week and share my initial thoughts, after all the purpose of these samples is to tempt you into buy a full size.
First up is foundation from Revlon. As regular readers will know, I am a mineral foundation girl, but I more recently I have become tempted to try liquid foundations.

Revlon Age Defying with DNA Advantage Cream Makeup combines makeup and anti-aging skincare and is meant to help protect skin's DNA to fight the visible signs of aging. The scientist in me has a few problems with that sentence, but generally I am a fan of makeup that has skin care properties. The foundation does contains SPF 20, which is always a nice addition and something I would expect in a product that is focused on ageing.
Revlon say: “96% of women saw flawless, younger-looking skin in two weeks. Lines and wrinkles are visibly diminished while skin is refreshed, hydrated, revitalized.” Of course I can’t comment on those claims having only worn it for 12 hours, but for a first dip back into liquid foundation I was impressed.

The foundation applied well and had a medium to full coverage, which was achieved using only a small amount of product. I liked that it could be built up without looking too heavy and after applying a translucent powder to set, I was left with a natural look. My skin felt smooth and didn’t feel dry throughout the day and I didn’t notice the foundation gathering in dry patches. I also didn’t get any transfer of the product to my phone or clothes — always a good thing! The wear time was around 8 hours before I started to notice my scars and uneven skin tone.
I had the sample of the shade soft beige, which was an ok match for my skin tone but I would want to check out the other shades if I were to buy a full size.

At £13.99 for 30ml this seems to be a good value foundation, and if the skin care claims are true it would be well worth the money.

In all I am pleased that my return to liquid foundation was a positive experience, but I don’t think the sample has done enough to persuade me to go for a full size.

I have a few other liquid foundation samples I will be trying, but I really have my eye on the Naked foundation from Urban Decay, or is there another that you would recommend?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Tag: Confessions of a Beauty Blogger...

This is a tag post I found on Laura Louise Makeup’s blog an awesome makeup artist that I met an event last year. Feel free to copy and paste the questions and be sure to leave me a link below so I can check out your answers.



Thursday, 7 March 2013

Baobella — a new site for beauty lovers

Baobella is a new online site for beauty addicts designed to “connect the skills, knowledge and passion of beauty lovers”.

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to use the site a couple of weeks before it went live last Friday. Basically, users upload videos/photographs of makeup looks and/or product swatches and then tag the products used (or alternative products) and categorise the image depending on the type of look. The images then appear under the tagged category types. There is the option to follow users whose images you like and to interact with them in forums discussing hair, makeup and even relationships and there are also sections for product reviews.

My favourite feature is the option to look up products and see the looks that have been created with them. It is great way of getting inspiration for products you may not have used in a while but also to get an idea of you can achieve from products you are considering buying.
I highly recommend signing up and checking it out. The site is unique to other beauty sharing sites I've seen before and it will only get better as more users add to the content.

If you do sign up the link to my profile is here. Baobella is also running a bloggers competition to win enrolment on a makeup training course amongst some other amazing prizes. I am entering my Maleficent makeup look so if you do sign up please click love on this picture — it would make my day!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Vitality Show 2013

The Vitality Show is back! I love consumer shows and The Vitality Show is my favourite because it focuses on health, beauty and general well being.
I have attended for the the past 3 years have always managed to grab great bargains from brands including Benefit, Bourjous, MeMeMe, Organic Surge and have discovered new brands like Orogold and Beautiful Brows. I like the fact that every year there are new exhibitors, which means you don't risk going along and seeing the same things.
Apart from beauty, there are lots of good food treats to discover and lifestyle and fitness things, including exercise classes and talks.
A pamper package is also on offer, which includes your tickets as well as facials, massages, champagne and a free clockroom. I promise myself every year that I'll book myself in but I never do! It is really easy to stick around for the whole day so I think it is a great option if you really want to spoil yourself. But if you live in London and only want to stick around for a few hours going on Thursday night is a great option too because after 5pm you can get a ticket for just £5.

Now I know I am on a spending ban, I have been very good up until now, but I've decided that since this is a one off event, I'm going to give myself some leeway but only if there is a real bargain to be had!

The tickets start at £20, but there are usually codes around to get a discount and if I find any I will be sure to let you know.

Have you attended The Vitality Show before and have you enjoyed it? Or do you plan on heading down for the first time this year?
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