Monday, 10 June 2013

OPI - Fragrance Direct

OPI nail polishes are currently £3.99 on Fragrance Direct so of course I had to treat myself to a few. I usually buy them from ASOS (I particularly love the mini collections), but the full size varnishes usually retail at around £11 or £12, so they're pretty expensive as far as nail polish goes, and I only owned a couple of the full size ones before this order. I'd never used Fragrance Direct before, but if they frequently have discounts like this I'll definitely be using them again. Also, unlike what their name suggests, they actually sell a whole range of things other than perfume.

Left to right: Care to Danse?, Pedal Faster Suzi, Kiss Me On My Tulips, Color to Diner For, I Don't Give A Rotterdam, I Have A Herring Problem

One of the reasons I love OPI, aside from the colours of course, is the fact that all the names are kind of quirky and tongue in cheek, linking in whatever theme the collection has. The polishes I ordered were actually from 3 different OPI Collections: Holland, Touring America and New York Ballet. You can probably guess from their names above, which collections they belong to. I like make up brands like OPI that don't take themselves too seriously and actually have a sense of humour, it's quite refreshing! All the collections they release keep things exciting as well; I think my favourite themes are the countries (they've also done Germany) and film tie-ins (Skyfall, Oz).

I've only worn Care to Danse? so far, which is a lovely pale lilac and very sheer lacquer. You end up with nails that are almost nude but with a twist and a gelly-like finish. All the other polishes, aside from Kiss Me On my Tulips, have a shimmer. I love a bit of shimmer because it's kind of like having a glitter polish but nowhere near as difficult to remove!

As I spent over £20 buying these, I also got to select a free gift, which was a nice surprise. You actually got to chose what you wanted as well, it wasn't just something you probably wouldn't like thrown in to the parcel as an afterthought. I chose Macadamia Nourishing Leave In Cream, because I've heard really good things about the Macadamia haircare brand recently, and I have dry, difficult hair so anything with added oils and moisturisation works for me. It smells delicious and does leave my hair feeling very soft, so I'm intrigued to try some other products in the range now too.

I feel like I've written a sponsored post raving about Fragrance Direct, but it was just quite a surprising discovery for me! Sometimes it pays to stray away from your usual tried and tested websites and try something new.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Topshop Lip Bullets

Until I picked up two of these babies I'd never actually tried any Topshop makeup before, despite the pretty packaging and some cool concepts that had caught my eye (peelable nail polish!). But when I saw these Lip Bullets in Topshop a couple of weeks ago I new I had to try them. I'm loving my lip colours at the moment and these looked like they offered something a little bit different - being halfway between a lipstick and a lip pencil. I picked up two colours: Rockabilly which is red, and Heartbeat, a peachy pink. I actually love the names of these as well so that appealed almost as much as the colours!

These are waxier in texture than a lipstick but still really easy to apply. My favourite of the two is definitely Rockabilly, it has a really intense colour and although, like Heartbeat, you have to reapply it frequently, it does stain your lips a bit so you don't have a completely naked lip between applications. I found Heartbeat didn't apply as evenly to my lips as Rockabilly, but then it is a lighter colour and I often find that lighter colours settle on dry patches a lot more than dark ones. I'm not entirely sure why that is but I've definitely come to notice it! Heartbeat is also a more sheer, delicate colour, but pretty nonetheless.

I do have one complaint about these however: the packaging could be a little sturdier. I had Rockabilly in my bag for a day and the lid popped off and coloured the inside of my bag and its contents fairly red! One of the reasons why I didn't take pictures of them is because Rockabilly now looks a hot red mess with a bashed nib (teaches me for not using a makeup bag I suppose). So I would say that these should never be put them loose in a bag or you'll end up with a multi-coloured mess. Luckily eventhough the nib is all messed up it still is surprisingly easy to apply to your lips neatly. I guess it's because they're more slender than a lipstick.

Although I do think that their price point is a little high at £8, there is a decent range of colours available, they're easy to use, they're fun and don't take themselves to seriously. Definitely think I'll be delving into the world of Topshop make up again soon.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Glossybox: April 2013

Another month, another Glossybox!

April's box is a cute little number designed by Pearl Lowe. Definitely another one I'll be keeping for storage of various bits and bobs.

There was a perfect balance of skincare and make up products this month in my opinion.

The products I received in my box this month were:

A-Derma Intense Repair Lip Balm (full size)
NIP + FAB Dry Skin Fix Body Butter in Mango (50ml)
Sleek Blush in Flamingo (full size)
Yves Rocher So Elixir Purple Eau de Parfum (5ml)
Essie Nail Lacquer in Flawless (full size)

First things first: I was *very* excited to see a full size nail polish in there. Pink is one of my favourite colours to wear so I was very happy with the selection of Flawless. And, having heard many good things about Essie I'd not actually tried any of their varnishes yet (I'm an OPI and Model's Own kinda girl) so I was excited to try this. I've already painted my nails with this and the colour's lovely and the varnish has a really smooth finish - it really does look flawless.

Did I mention that I love my body lotions? So the addition of a Nip+Fab body butter was a welcome one. Another brand I've not tried yet, but I love mango scent in a body butter (The Body Shop do a great one) so I am sure this will go down a treat.

I liked the inclusion of the rather serious-looking A-Derma product, and as I am a bit of a lipbalm addict  I was looking forward to giving it a go. However, having applied it before bed over the course of a few nights, I've not found it very effective at repairing dry lips sadly. And, looking at the ingredients list I'm not terribly surprised, as the first ingredient is paraffinum liquidum - vaseline, basically. Which is a shame because the oat milk it contains should be really good for dry skin but I think any goodness is lost in the base of vaseline.

I don't really wear blusher often so the Sleek blush in Flamingo doesn't excite me that much, although it is a stunning vivid pink so I'm quite looking forward to wearing it anyway. Although my case seems to be faulty as it is almost impossible to open so this more likely than not will end up gathering dust in a corner somewhere.

Finally, the Yves Rocher perfume sample. This is much, much more up my street than the Juicy Couture sample from the other month. It has a seductive woody, floral scent - and it comes in a proper little perfume bottle, not a rubbish little spray like samples sometimes do.

So maybe not a complete thumbs up this month (thumbs sideways?) but an interesting selection of products nonetheless. I did notice that an Illamasqua pencil was doing the rounds in some of the boxes this month - I would happily swap my blush for that!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Garnier Intensive 7 Days Body Lotion

I noticed that a lot of my posts are actually about lotions, creams and moisturisers. Maybe I should change the title of this blog from Cosmetic Girl to Moisturising Madam or something. It's just an observation.... I'm not going to apologise for the profusion of moisturising products on these pages - they form an essential part of my daily routine, and they always say you should write what you know, so I'm going to do exactly that!

I recently picked up a couple of these Garnier Intensive 7 days Lotions. What appealed to me about these was that they claimed to be fast-absorbing and non-greasy, but still hydrating for dry skin. The two lotions I bought were the Softening Cocoa Butter one for dry, rough skin, and the L-Bifidus + Peach one for dry and sensitive skin.

I'm always quite sceptical about any time frame advertised in cosmetics (for example deodorants that last 72 hours  - I mean who wouldn't wash for 72 hours anyway?!), and these lotions claim that even 7 days after your last application, skin still feels moisturised. I have no idea why you would expect this to be the case or why it would be particularly desirable, and I'm not going to test if the claim is true. However, the lotions also claim to keep skin hydrated for 24 hours, and having used these I can vouch for the veracity of that claim.

I was particularly impressed with these actually - because not only do they keep your skin feeling hydrated, they really are fast-absorbing and non-greasy as they claim. I didn't think it was possible to have something non-greasy yet moistursing, I always thought that was a bit of a contradiction but these have proved me wrong. Apparently it's the rather odd sounding L-Bifidus (which to me sounds more like it should be in a yoghurt rather than a cream) which helps the skin to reinforce its natural barrier and lock moisture in.

The cocoa butter lotion has a lovely foody chocolatey scent, and has a creamier feel to it than the very refreshing peach lotion which is more of a gel.

I really like using these after a shower in the morning before work, because I can slip into my clothes straight away afterwards without them sticking to me. I think when the hotter weather approaches I'll get a lot of use out of them as well, because they're so light-weight, and the gel consistency of the peach one in particular makes if feel really soothing and refreshing to apply.

There are a number of other varieties available in this range, including some for normal skin and sensitive skin, and some yummy-sounding scents such as mango oil, honey and grape. I definitely recommend giving these a go, especially if you're one of those people who usually puts off moistruising because you don't like the heavy, sticky feeling that many lotions leave you with - these do the same job but absorb into your skin rather than your clothes! Garnier Intensive 7 Days Body Lotions are currently on offer at Boots so they're just under £2 each, which is a bit of a bargain if you ask me.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Discover Darphin

As well as the regular monthly beauty boxes, Glossybox also offer the occasional 'Flash Box', a box that introduces you to the products of a particular brand, and is available for a limited time only.

In February the Flash Box feautred the French brand Darphin. There were actually two different boxes to choose from, each dealing with a different skincare issue: one contained products from the Expert Hydration Programme, and the other products from the Sensitive Skin Expert Programme. I was tempted to get both, as dryness and sensitivity are both problems I have with my skin. But I thought getting three beauty boxes in one month (including the regular glossybox) seemed a little excessive (!) so I settled on just the sensitive skin one. And actually, I tend to steer towards trying products for dry rather than sensitive skin so I thought I'd try something different this time.

The products really appealed to me from their description alone, even before they arrived - I like the fact that they are specifically designed to deal with a particular issue; and the fact that they try to solve this problem using the power of botanics - plants and essential oils.

The box was £10 + P&P for subscribers, which I thought was really good value, as you get very generous samples of this high-end brand; I've put the full size prices next to each:

  • Intral Cleansing Milk (50ml) *£27/200ml
  • Intral Toner (50ml) *£27/200ml
  • Intral Redness Relief Soothing Serum (5ml) *£50/30ml
  • Intral Soothing Cream (15ml) *£40/50ml
As you can see, all these products are from the same Intral range, and so are designed to complement each other - I've been using all four products together. The Intral range is 'ideal for sensitive skin prone to redness and irritations' and helps to 'repair and strengthen skin's natural barrier'.

Both the cleanser and toner contain chamomile and hawthorn extracts - and both smell wonderful. The cleanser feels really soothing to use, although I didn't find it great for removing make up as I had to rub it in quite a bit, which seems to somewhat defeat the object of using something for sensitive skin! But it works great on days when I don't have lashings of eye make up etc. Followed by the toner my skin feels soothed but also really clean, which is not always a sensation I get when using cream cleansers. I've then been using a few pumps of the serum, followed by some of the soothing cream on top. The whole regime makes my skin feel really hydrated and calm, and it still feels that way the morning after.

I have really enjoyed using these products; they're very pleasant to use, which isn't always the case with products geared towards sensitive skin. I also liked the fact that they don't just prevent irritation, they positively make the skin feel less sensitive.

Although these products really suit my skin, in reality the prices of the regular sizes are a barrier to me ever buying these again, because I don't have a huge disposable income. And think of how many lipsticks you could buy for £40 instead, haha! In all seriousness though, I think the products work so well together that it won't really be worth just buying one of the items to use. Apart from the serum perhaps.

So I will savour these samples until the last drop - mourn their loss for a little while - and then move on to something else!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

March Empties

I accumulate so many cosmetics that I try to make a real effort to actually use things up. So I hope to, on a monthly basis, report on my 'empties' - and then either pat myself on the back or tell myself off accordingly! In the month of March I got through the following:

I use a lot of products without packaging so not everything I used is pictured above.

Lush Heavanilli and Fever massage bars -  Heavanilli smells like vanilla and cinder toffee - amazing! Fever is a sultry jasmine scent. I still have a couple of these in my stash - they are two of my favourite massage bars and Lush discontinued them a while ago.

Lush Vanilla Fountain, Hot Java and Winter Bath bath ballistics - I had a lot of baths in March, partly because it was freezing and partly because I was training for the Berlin Half Marathon so I had sore muscles a lot. Hot Java and Winter Bath are two great spicy soaks, Vanilla Fountain has the same scent as Heavanilli massage bar.

Lush No Name and Marathon bubble bar slices - another couple of spicy soaks. No Name came out for Christmas a few years ago (yes, I hold on to cosmetics that long - I'm a hoarder!). And I thought it only appropriate that I use a bubble bar called marathon when in training.

Lush Snow Fairy Shower Gel (500g) - this product is a bit of a love it or hate it thing: it has a very sweet candyfloss scent. I as a rule love anything sweet and pink so I do have a soft spot for this, although it's a shame that it's the least natural product that Lush makes.

Benefit BADgal Lash Mascara (4g) - I got this free with Glamour last year I think. I liked using it a lot, although I prefer Benefit's They're Real! Mascara which I've just started using. I actually have another sample size BADgal knocking about because Boots gave it away as a free gift when buying 2 Benefit products recently.

Aveeno Skin Relief (300ml) - I'm always stocking up on these when there's a 3 for 2 at Boots! This is an absolute staple, I use it daily on my legs which are prone to dry skin after a shower or bath. It works wonders and is much better than any other cream I've tried for dry, eczema-prone skin (eg. E45)

Lush 9-5 Cleanser (95g) - I got given this for free a while ago in-store. It was getting kind of old so I just needed to use it up. It's ok as a cleanser, but I wouldn't rebuy it. I much prefer Ultrabland, and actually also Starcraft cleanser which was one of Lush's January limited edition retro products.

B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful Tinted Moisturiser in Bedouin - I've been using this for a long time, and I'm gutted that it's run out! B Never don't exist any more so there's no chance of rebuying it. On the upside, there are a few BB creams that I've been wanting to try so I can justify buying them now that I've run out of my staple tinted moisturiser.

Oral B Pro Expert Toothpaste - saving the best for last - ahem! I've recently switched to this from Sensodyne as I felt Sensodyne wasn't doing much for my sensitive teeth... and this tastes much better too.

All in all I'm happy with what I've used up this month, particularly the bath bits. I think the next area of my stash I need to focus on is body creams. And scrubs. And the rest of course!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream

Recently I decided to spend some of the many Boots points that I'd collected. Part of the reason why I always end up collecting points until I have £20 or £30 worth is because I find it hard to decide what to spend them on, because there are just too many options! But this time I stumbled across something that I knew I really wanted to get.

I got a tub of Yu-Be moistuirising skin cream (70g). Established in 1957, this is one of the longest and best-selling skincare products in Japan. It was invented by a pharmacist called Yoshikiyo Nowatari, on the request of a woman who wanted something for dry, cracked skin but was tired of all the ineffective and messy petroleum-based products.

There are a couple of reasons why I went for this. Firstly, I love all things Japanese, and this is apparently Japan's No 1 - selling skincare cream so it was exciting for me to realise I could actually get this in the UK. Secondly, I have dry skin, eczema-prone skin, and have been looking for something in particular to soothe my lips in this crazy cold weather, and apparently this cream is very multi-purpose and works just as well on your face, lips, or any dry patches on your body.

The magic behind the cream is that has a high glycerin content, which helps to hydrate the skin. It has no artificial colours, fragrances or petroleum. The ingredients in the cream have the following properties:
  • Glycerin: a humectant that attracts and retains moisture in the skin
  • Vitamin E: anti-oxidant and skin protector helps aid healing and reduce scarring
  • Vitamin B2: helps to smooth rough or damaged skin
  • Camphor: helps soothe irritation
  • Vitamin C: anti-oxidant and and skin protector helps to improve elasticity in skin

So far, I have loved using this. At first I was a little bit apprehensive because it has a really strong camphor scent (think Carmex!) and it is a thick consistency and yellow in colour, reminding me of butter or fat; but in fact it is lovely to use. Firstly, the camphor scent fades in a few minutes. I actually like the smell of camphor but I was just worried about putting something that strong-smelling on sensitive skin, but it was fine. Secondly, the cream absorbs almost instantly, so there is no greasiness; but equally you can feel that there is a 'barrier' on your skin preventing dehydration. For example, when I use vaseline as a lip balm I have to reapply all the time as it wears off really quickly; but if I use this my lips feel hydrated for hours. I've been using it on my face before bed, and it really feels like it locks moisture into the skin - my skin feels soft and soothed in the morning.

I think I'm going to try the cream on some dry patches on my feet too, as they're not as soft as they used to be since I started running!

I would definitely recommend that anyone with dry skin, who hasn't found their 'holy grail' cream yet, should try this. Not only is the science behind it sound, but it also works in practice. Anyone who's been recommended something by a doctor which just hasn't worked for them, will know that science doesn't always translate into experience, so it's great that this cream actually does that. I also think it's quite good value for money because you don't need to use very much when you apply it.

Yu-Be retails at £19.50 and is available from Boots.