Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: Beauty Favourites


2014 was definitely the year for budget beauty, with drugstore brands really upping their game and in many cases surpassing their more luxurious counterparts. As I moved to Cambridge this year (erm, expensive!!) that meant saving money was the number one priority when it came to product purchases. Here are some of my favourite discoveries:

The Body Shop's Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil was something I wasn't sure about given my oily complexion, but now I'm a total convert. It doesn't strip the skin, but also isn't greasy. A real luxurious product at an affordable price.

The idea of Garnier's Micellar Cleansing Water confused me at first - it comes out of the tap so why would I need this? How wrong I was! I've yet to find anything this stuff can't get off and it outperforms any make-up remover or wipe I've ever tried.

Speaking of makeup that's tricky to get off, the introduction of Bourjois' Rouge Edition Velvets meant I finally found a lip product I could wear all day. No need to worry about smudging and the serious colour pay-off and matte finish makes these a real hit.

This was also the year that I sampled a huge range of Benefit products. While most of these came from subscription boxes, the reward points I'd built up meant I could purchase something full size without worrying about the blow to my purse. I went straight for the Dallas blush, bronzed perfection without even a hint of shimmer.

I also finally got to grips with my dry, itchy scalp thanks to a new range from Tresemme, with their Renewal Hair & Scalp range. The Nourish & Renew Tonic soothes itching and adds moisture to the scalp with absolutely no greasy residue or added weight. It's something I use at least once a week.

2015 will have to try pretty hard to outdo this years beauty offerings!

What were your 2014 beauty highlights?

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Monday, 29 December 2014

TBE - The best of 2014



As 2014 comes to a close I'm looking back on some of my favourite posts. There are some big changes coming to the blog for 2015, but I have this year to thank for that. It's been a real learning curve and a great experience.

Here are some of my best and most popular posts from the last twelve months:

Beauty
The skin hero that is Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
The Sleek palette that changed my makeup habits for good
This 99p Argan Oil hair treatment that really worked. Like, for reals
These miracle masks that saved my blemish prone skin

Lifestyle
A sleep routine to finally beat wakeful
The moment I embraced my inner (well, outer) pessimist
Taking a step back to concentrate on self love
Opening up about my struggle with anxiety
Our amazing trip to York

Reads
Four books that changed my perspective
A powerful novel from Meg Rosoff

How are you reflecting on 2014?
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Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Body Shop Tea Tree range


As someone with oily skin prone to angry breakouts I have always relied on stripping, chemically laden products to keep things under control. While there's certainly nothing wrong with that I have read increasingly about the benefits of products that contain natural oils like tea tree, which has an antibacterial effect and can actually help control sebum production. 

I took advantage of a 40% off offer The Body Shop was running a while back and purchased a few products from their range. It's worth signing up to their mailing list if you find paying their full price tags makes you feel a bit faint. I'm a budget girl at heart and they are literally always running promotions that get you 20-50% off depending on your total spend.

The facial wash in this range is gel based but not nearly as stripping as its Clearasil and Garnier counterparts. My skin feels so unbelievably clean after using this but never tight or dry. It's also dramatically improved my blackheads which, although just a fact of my skin type, aren't nearly as noticeable.

The night lotion is something I bought after feeling like my old Simple night-time go-to was suffocating my face. Where before I would wake up with greasy skin this moisturises just the right amount and keeps oil under control.

Neat tee trea oil is something I apply to any spots or redness after cleansing and moisturising. It doesn't work quite as quickly as strong chemical remedies but it does the job and there's no dry, cracked look to the skin that many treatments leave you with around spots.

I can highly recommend giving this range ago if you have problem skin - mine is improving by the day! You can find the whole range on the Body Shop website.

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Disappointing products


Every once in a while I encounter products that really don't live up to my expectations, While I don't really like giving negative reviews or going on about products I haven't liked for ages I do think it's important to have a balance of opinion, so I'm gonna round up a few of those products here. There will definitely be people that don't agree with me on a few of these, but hey, an opinion is an opinion.

Schwarzkopf got2b Rise 'n Shine Volumising Souffle - Aside from the name being a total, total mouthful, this is a product that serves to do very little other than make my hair feel and look unwashed. The putty-like texture doesn't add much volume and I've had much better results with power-based products and sprays, some of which have been from this brand. This is a relatively new product but it doesn't seem to have taken off very well and I can see why. My hair felt weighed down and sticky with just the tiniest amount used.

Rimmel Scandaleyes RetroGlam Mascara - I love Rimmel mascaras and had never had a bad one until I tried this. The formula is so liquid that my eyelashes were splattering black spots above and below my eyes for a good five minutes after application and despite cleaning this up I ended up with a lot of transfer onto the lid and the inside of my glasses as the day went on, Mascara formula is a hard thing to get right but this one could do with being much drier. Total mess!

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Black - I had heard great things about this brand, not least that it's Alexa Chung's smudge of choice, but it just didn't live up to the hype. The nib is hard, the formula very thin so took a couple of layers and within a couple of hours had transferred onto my upper lids and had me resembling a Tim Burton character. While I can't say I've tried their fat liners or pencils I can safely say my trusty £2.99 Collection liquid liner does a far better job and actually being black and staying put.

Beauty Blender - Now I really will be up against the masses with this one. This time the issue is more to do with my personal preference than a quality issue as the sponge is nice and soft, well-sized for all areas of the face and even comes with some soap to clean it with. I have tried to get on with the product many times, but the coverage always ends up far too thick and the wet feeling is something I really don't like! I would much rather use my Real Techniques Buffing Brush to lightly swirl on the perfect coverage than really overdo it with a messy soggy sponge. Maybe one day I'll crack it but for now this is a total no-no.

Benefit The Porefessional Primer - My experience with this product was a little bitter-sweet. At first it seemed to hold my make-up in place for an hour or two longer each day and keep things more matte, but then I noticed my skin breaking out in horrible bumps and big, acne-like spots that required some serious work to cover. For almost 6 months I continued to use the primer every day, putting my bad skin down to stress. When no spot treatment on earth was helping I backtracked to try and find a product in my daily routine that could have caused this and finally put two and two together. I stopped using this two weeks ago and now aside from some scarring which will fade my skin is totally back to normal. That's not to say that you will have these problems but I've well and truly given this the boot as it definitely suffocated my oily skin and clogged my pores.

So there you have it - while it's rare that I encounter products that disappoint I feel like it's important to share my experiences with them so that others can see both sides of the coin. It's also important that my readers know that when I give something a good review I mean every word!

Have you purchased any disappointing products lately?
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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Feeling Christmassy!






So, the tree is up and things are feeling father festive in the flat at the moment. We've also slowly started demolishing the sweets and treats stashed on top of the fridge - it certainly helps enhance the mood! 

I've been away from blogging over the last few weeks, taking a step back and focusing on work and real life. It's good to take a break sometimes even if it's just to free up a couple of hours a week for some me time and present wrapping! The dark winter evenings and busy weekends also meant I was running very low on usable photography.

This year I was given the tree and decorations by my mum - I didn't want to spend hundreds on a fancy tree and lavish decorations this year, nor had I decided what colour scheme to commit to, so her black, gold and bronze baubles are up. Although the tree is a little naked looking it suits our fairly minimalist-ly (yep, totally a word) decorated flat - next year I'll make a point of getting a real one but with limited space and not much time to think about it we're faking it for now. 

I have however picked up a couple of extra bits and am slowly filtering them into the house so that Mat doesn't get to Grinch-like about it being turned into a grotto. I found some gorgeous bunting in Tesco for £5 and a little reindeer in Primark for £2 that have given a once bare wall a festive makeover, and a few little figurines I picked up in Tiger for £1 are hiding about the house.

We don't do outside lights because 1) effort and 2) being too Christmassy from the road in Cambridge screams 'burgal me' but inside I'm also breaking out the clear vases of fairy lights and every spicy scented candle I can get my mittens on.

While I imagine we'll eventually invest in some slightly more upmarket decs, this year I'm happy that this year everything's been easy to get hold of and has cosied the place up a bit. I'm definitelyve ready for some festive fun with family and friends!

How are you getting in the mood for the holidays?



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