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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Birchbox October 2014 | Contents & Thoughts

I really have developed a bit of a soft spot for beauty boxes.  They often receive mixed reviews but there's no denying that they're a great way to uncover new products - I've discovered a fair few of my favourites through the concept and I've been made aware of so many brands I wouldn't have even heard of had I not been introduced to them via a beauty box. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, Birchbox teamed up with Coppafeel. Helping to raise awareness regarding the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, this month's box definitely has a bit of a pink theme! Packaged in a lovely pink pouch, the products inside are all perfect for use 'on the go' - there's even a quirky little lipstick shaped pen in there (ohh Birchbox. You do know the way to a beauty blogger's heart...) Along with some informative leaflets and motivation charts, October's offering made for a fabulous girly treat. Here's what I thought of the contents...

Shaveworks | The Cool Fix | £11
I was soo chuffed to receive this product.  It's not something I would have gone out and bought myself but now that I have it, I can really see the benefits of having something like this in your bathroom cupboard and it's something I'd take away with me on holiday in the future.  It's a cooling gel which helps to soothe the skin after hair removal - preventing in-grown hairs and irritation. I've used this a couple of times now and it definitely helps to reduce any redness and prevents my skin from becoming itchy or irritated whilst providing a relaxing cooling sensation.

Balance Me | Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm | £20
A natural nourishing cleanser with exfoliating oatmeal powder, this face balm is suitable for most skin types and helps to balance out the complexion.  I'm very set in my ways when it comes to skincare but I love receiving miniature sizes like this as I really enjoy trying new things whenever I go away or stay away from home for a few nights. I've used and enjoyed Balance Me before so I'm quite happy to have this in my bathroom cupboard - I'm sure it's just as good as it sounds and will be a lovely option for the winter months.

KMS | Free Shape Hot Flex Creme | £15.50
I love KMS. They do some fabulous products (I'm a big fan of their quick blow-dry spray) and I'm always happy to see a hair product in a beauty box. I have to admit, I've never been the biggest fan of styling cremes as I find they weigh down my hair, but I'll definitely be giving this a go soon. I've never been disappointed with KMS products and I'm sure it's going to come in handy once the weather gets worse... I'm always looking for things I can pop into my handbag to help keep bad hair days at bay!

Meaningful Beauty | Glowing Serum | £30.95
Radiance-enhancing and anti-ageing, this serum is perfect for use at any time of day for a swift 'pick-me-up'. I'll probably end up giving this to my mum as I really don't like adding extra products to my skincare routine - but it does sound very lovely. I'm tempted to keep it by me until we're in to the depths of winter - my skin really does get very dull in the colder seasons so I'm tempted to try it nonetheless... 

Pixi | Shea Butter Lip Balm | £8
Eek. I was so excited for this product! I love a good lip balm - and I'm also a fan of Pixi products. This full-sized balm is a gorgeous raspberry pink shade which adds a delicate flush of colour to the lips. It also smells delicious - the vanilla hint really is lovely and makes it even more of a joy to apply. The texture is quite thick - so it's perfect for those days when you need to protect your lips from the cold. As someone who does prefer a splash of colour, it's sure to become a winter staple! It's already found a new home in my handbag...

Overall, a lovely little selection - I loved that the box was tailored towards such a good cause.I think my favourites have to be the Pixi Lip Balm and The Shaveworks Cool Fix - they're definitely products I'd purchase again and get lots of use out of.  For £12.95*, it's a fabulous treat! You can find out more about Birchbox on their website here.

Have you tried Birchbox before? 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Old Favourite, New Packaging | Mac's MSF Natural Powder

It's always a sad, sad day when I hit pan on my beloved Mac MSF powder. Although it's one of my most loved 'holy grail' products, I can't say I relish re-purchasing it.  Powder is one of those products that I just don't get overly excited about - yes, it's probably one of the most important steps in my makeup regime but it's more of a necessity as opposed to a treat. Try as I might to find a cheaper alternative - I can't.  So when I got towards the final dregs of my last compact (and believe me I really did scrape every single last little fleck of powder out of that pan) I tottled straight off to Mac to grab myself a new one. I never normally blog about my random re-purchases, especially if I already have a full review somewhere already, but I was really impressed with the new packaging and thought I'd share it.  I'd heard mixed opinions but I have to say I really do prefer the new, sleek design. At first, I was a little unsure - after all, when companies 'repackage' products, it's normally just a sneaky way of charging more whilst down-sizing the actual product weight...but Mac have kept everything exactly the same - they've just made their compact a little more sturdy and in my opinion, much better looking. Oh, and they've thrown in a mirror for good measure. Always a winner in my books! The magnetic closure also makes me rather happy...

The powder itself is just divine.  I've never been able to find another alternative that works for me the way Mineralise Skinfinish Natural does. I love the fact that it looks so undetectable on the skin - it doesn't dull the complexion, helps to 'airbrush' out any imperfections that my foundation hasn't covered whilst keeping any oil at bay.  It never looks like I'm wearing powder - it doesn't cling to dry patches, still allows the natural glow of my skin to show through and it also does a tip-top job at keeping my foundation in place all day.  It really does tick off all the boxes for me and I haven't gone a day without it since I first discovered it. Mac's MSF retails for £23.00 - definitely on the higher-end of the scale when it comes to powders but it lasts ages  - I've been using this for around 3 years now and I reckon I've only had to buy 3 or 4 compacts.  It also featured in my 'Best of 2013' post here. You can find Mac's Mineralise Skinfinish Natural powder on the Mac website and also in store.

What do you think to the new packaging? What's your 'go-to' powder?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Drugstore Gems | Recent Finds...

As a blogger, it's very easy to get sucked in to the luxury product hype - swishy packaging and the lure of a glitzy high-end counter certainly have the power to sway a purchase.  Whilst I'm not denying that you do sometimes get what you pay for (some of my high-end favourites simply cannot be beaten in my opinion) - I do think there's plenty of 'drugstore' products out there that perform just as well as - if not better than some of the high-end brands. I've become such a bargain hunter just recently (just call me David Dickinson) and I seem to have uncovered a small selection of fabulous 'drugstore' products that I absolutely love - I've been on a roll!  Of course, I often find cheaper products I enjoy and use on a regular basis, but these 6 most recent finds have seriously impressed me -  they're much more than fleeting favourites.  We're a fickle bunch, us bloggers, so to say that this little collection of my latest 'drugstore gems' top the mark as some of my most recommended is saying something! Here's why I think they're jolly good contenders to rival their higher-end versions...

Seventeen | Falsifeye HD Mascara | £6.99 | Link
I'll kick off with my most favourite shall I?!  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I'm rarely impressed with mascaras - I'm ridiculously fussy.  I've been using Maybelline's 'The Falsies' for a good 5 years or so now and I never really vary from this (Benefit's 'They're Real' is my only other 'go to' but I use this as more a 'treat' because it's quite expensive). It's fair to say I'm very stuck in my ways when it comes to mascara.  However - I think I may have discovered my new obsession in the form of Seventeen's Falsifeye HD Mascara.  It's seriously amazing. First impressions were good before I even left the store as it actually comes in a box - and we all know how much bloggers love their boxed products... It didn't stop there though.  I was blown away as soon as I applied it - it coats every.single.lash. The wand doesn't look anything special but trust me, it works a charm at coating even the smallest eyelashes and it's so easy to use. Usually, with volumising 'false lash effect' mascaras, the wands can be quite cumbersome but this one is just perfection.   It reminds me of a simplfied version of Benefit's 'They're Real' whilst being easier to use. 

The formula doesn't clump at all - I can easily apply 3 coats without my lashes clumping together and it also holds a curl really nicely. My lashes look fuller than ever and incredibly defined, and even though it's not waterproof, it doesn't smudge, flake or crumble.  I must admit I don't use it on my bottom lashes as the only mascara that doesn't smudge on me is Clinique's 'Bottom Lash Mascara' - but I can't sing this product's praises enough. I definitely think it's a good rival for Benefit's 'They're Real'. I think I'll be buying this from now on instead of the Maybelline one I've been using for 5 years... that's how much I adore it.

Seventeen | Instant Glow Bronzer in Medium Bronze | £4.49 | Link
Seventeen really have upped their game the past year or so! I'm loving the brand at the moment and their new image is definitely a winner in my books. This is another one of my recent purchases but as it's already featured twice on my blog so I shan't get in to it too much - you're probably sick of the sights of it! I picked this up on a whim at the airport before a holiday and my goodness, am I glad I did! It's such a good 'all rounder' bronzer and works so well for all over bronzing and subtle contouring. It's the perfect shade to add warmth to the complexion and even though it's pigmented, it's virtually impossible to over-apply as it blends like a dream.  I've been applying it even though my skin is paler now and it just gives the most incredible healthy glow without looking like I've piled on a shed load of bronzer.  I really loved Guerlain's 'Terracotta' bronzer earlier this year but I have to admit this one has had much more use.  It's matte so it provides a really lovely, natural finish and gives a nice bit of definition to the facial features.  I posted about it in a summer beauty haul here, and also in a recent favourites post here.  My love for it is still going strong...

MUA | Power Pout Lip Crayon in 'Rendezvous' | £3.00 | Link
I had to re-use a photograph I've taken of this product for a past post because my camera ran out of battery just before I'd finished this one - but trust me - this lip crayon is very well loved.  It's lived in my hand-bag since the day I bought it and it's not making a move out of there any time soon! I really love MUA's lip crayon offering - this colour is just the perfect every day shade and I've been using it over some of my Mac favourites just recently.  It's super moisturising, yet long-lasting and easy to apply on-the-go. I really don't think you have to spend the earth if you want a good quality lip crayon - I can't see why this one isn't just as good as some of the more expensive versions I've seen on the high-street.  I have a full post about the product here.

Collection | Illuminating Touch Brightening Concealer | £4.99 £3.99  | Link
Currently on offer for just £3.99, this concealer is my most recent discovery.  Now, I have to admit that my ultimate holy-grail favourite is Estee Lauder's Double Wear Concealer and I don't think I'll ever find anything else to rival it - but since it's so expensive (£21.00 a pop!) I wanted something to use under my eyes on those days when I'm not wearing a great deal of makeup.  I wanted something a little more brightening than Collection's 'Lasting Perfection' (another drugstore gem) as I mainly use concealer underneath my eyes to conceal dark circles. I've been blown away by this one! I was so amazed at how well it hid my dark circles - it's literally like a brightening version of their Lasting Perfection. The formula is quite thick (similar to L.P), so it's a little more hard-wearing than other brightening concealers I've tried before.  I've also used YSL's Touche Eclat in the past and prefer this cheaper version by a mile!

Bourjois | 123 Perfect CC Cream in '32 - Light Beige' | £9.99* | Link
I was actually sent this product a while back but as soon as this tube runs out (and it's getting rather low) I'll be purchasing another straight away.  As much as I love my Nars Sheer Glow foundation, it can be a little heavy for everyday wear and I sometimes crave a slightly lighter coverage. My high-end 'go to' for a dewy base is YSL's Touche Eclat foundation but for a cheaper alternative, this Bourjois offering is fantastic. It does everything it promises - the colour correction really does seem to work and I instantly look more awake when I've applied this.  The coverage is so impressive and comparable to a light-medium foundation - so don't let the fact it's a CC Cream as opposed to an actual foundation base put you off.  If i'm ever having a 'dry skin day'  I use this because its a little more hydrating than an average foundation.  It evens out the complexion in an instant and looks virtually undetectable, especially when I've applied it with my RT Buffing Brush. I have a review of it here, and it also featured in a favourites post here.

Look Beauty Eyeshadow | Shade 13 - 'Luxe' | £4.00 | Link
Ok. So this isn't exactly a recent find - I've had this shade in my collection for quite some time now but it's definitely a re-discovery! If you're looking for pigmentation, 'Look' Statement Eyes Eye shadows really are amazing - they put some high-end brands to shame. This eyeshadow has to be one of the most pigmented shades I own and it gives that statement metallic lid look - perfect for the upcoming festive season. It's so creamy and buttery-soft to the touch and the gorgeous antique-gold colour is so flattering. Admittedly, due to the fact it's so pigmented you do get a little bit of fallout but it's easy to overlook- I just protect my under-eyes with a tissue and 'dab' the shadow on with an eyeshadow brush. 

Swatches L-R // Collection Concealer | Bourjois CC Cream | Seventeen Bronzer | Look Eyeshadow | MUA Crayon

So there we have it, some recent drugstore finds that I've been seriously impressed with.  Of course, I have plenty of other favourites but these are products I've discovered in the past few weeks/months.  Do let me know if you'd like me to do a post on some of my other drugstore gems - I have a fair few that definitely rival their higher end versions.

Have you found any drugstore gems recently? Let me know!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Make-Up Mistakes We All Made In Our Early Teenage Years

Ok. So firsly I'll offer my apologies for the cruddy quality of the header image, but come on - how could I not use a reference from '13 going on 30' for this post?! No other photography was going to cut the mustard here - Jenna Rink was the ultimate way forward to sum it all up.  I have no idea why I've decided to type this post - call it a spur of the moment ramble - but I was reminiscing about my early teenage years after stumbling upon a rather battered Barry M Dazzle Dust - (more on those in a moment...) and simply had to share some of my makeup mishaps with you from back in the day. Why? Because I know for a FACT you've made them too. I'm an early 90's child so please bare in mind that my experience is taken from those good old days before beauty blogs and YouTube even existed - I'm sure some of my younger readers haven't made these blunders! So sit back and feel free have a good chuckle at my past makeup misfortunes - I do hope it manages to conjure up some fond memories of your own school years... It certainly did for me! Now,  I'd better wrap up this introduction before I get caught up in the moment and swiftly go and grab myself some Dream Matte Mousse for old times sake ;)....

Choosing your foundation shade purely by name. There was no swatching, no 'natural daylight test' and no pre-purchase review reading. Ohhh no - your badass younger-self chose foundation based on whatever shade-name sounded remotely like your skin colour. OR, if you were really throwing caution to the wind, your shade of choice was probably settled with 'sand...hmm...I like beaches...I like sand! Therefore, '04 sand' is perfect...' Wrong. So wrong. In truth, you were more of a '01 True Ivory' kinda gal but the name just wasn't as appealing, ya know?

Using foundation as a form of fake tan.  Ok. So maybe you weren't exactly aware of your foundation shade mishap and maybe this wasn't your intention, but at some stage in your life, I bet you've used a foundation waaaay too dark for your skin and tried to make it work.  This was probably in your first year of secondary school when, in a bid to look like the school 'it girl', you dash off to Boots and buy the first bottle of foundation you see.  It's far too dark and far too orange but you roll with it anyway and wonder why you look like a streaky mess after a rather taxing hour of PE.  Similarly, at some stage in our lives, I bet we've all had that bright idea of buying a shade darker than our usual foundation shade because, in theory, it should make us look a little more 'sunkissed'.  It's a mistake everyone needs to make. Once you've made it, you'll never deliberately make it again.

The inevitable over-plucking of the eyebrows. Ohhhh eyebrows. I apologise for the way I mis-treated you during my teenage years but when you're 13 and armed with an eyebrow plucker, all manner of eyebrow crimes are committed.  Crimes that, although you have no idea at the time, you will still be paying for in your mid-twenties. It's thanks to my 13 year old 'YOLO' moment with my mother's tweezers that I now have to spend that extra 5 minutes of a morning filling in my sparse, barely there arches - attempting to craft a decent eyebrow shape from powder and wax instead of actual, physical eyebrow hairs.

The inevitable ignoring of said eyebrows. There comes a time in one's life when you realise that eyebrows are actually pretty important, who would have thought?! All of a sudden you have this life-changing epiphany moment when you realise that your eyebrows have the power to make or break your entire face.  Of course, throughout your teens you think it's all about the kohl eyeliner and fail to even do so much as lightly groom your poor brows with a pencil. 10 years later, you'll look back, cringe at photographs and realise you looked more like Mr Potato Head than that 'J-Lo' sultry look you were going for. With or without the kohl eyeliner. Lesson learnt. Never. Neglect. The Eyebrows.

GLITTER OVERLOAD. Again, this was probably in your early secondary school years. The good old days when you spent months and months planning your show-stopping outfit for the annual school disco, swapping notes under the table with your friends whilst you discussed, in great detail complete with tick-boxes, which denim skirt/gypsy top combo would be most likely to help you succeed at catching the attention of that Year 5 boy you're completely head over heels in love with (for realzzz). The night you've been waiting for arrives and you completely drown yourself in glitter of all kinds - glitter hair mascara and Barry M Dazzle Dusts aplently! And who remembers those body glitter roll ons?! Who even invented those?! GENIUS! Now there was maximum glitter potential and even more hope of luring in all the boiizzz with your dazzling, mesmerising sparkle.  Now, I'm all for a bit of glitter but in reality, you just looked like a unicorn threw up on you.

Treating 'Sugar' Magazine's beauty tips as GOSPEL. Ohhh yes. Who remembers this little gem?! Long before your mother allowed you to read Cosmo (heaven forbid, the sex tips section) your monthly treat was Sugar magazine - with its fail-safe flirting tips and flow-chart quizzes galore! Whatever Sugar magazine told you, you did it. To be fair, it's probably where you got the idea for that body glitter roll-on...

Thinking that translucent powder was the miracle of life! There's also a moment when you discover powder in all it's glory.  Probably sometime around Year 9 when you begin to spot all the popular girls powdering their face mid-biology sesh with a sponge and mirror compact.  Of course, you simply must do this too. Even if you have a seriously dry skin-type and could probably do with a dose of moisturiser instead. You fail to understand the t-zone rule and the fact that, in general, powder needs to be applied sparingly to set your makeup but instead you use yours as a form of foundation.  You pile it on in the understanding that it's supposed to cover blemishes and feel slight confusion when you end up looking a little bit dusty...  Quick! Someone get the Pledge!
Blend? Who needs to blend?! Sometimes, you forget there was life before your professional blending brushes... But ohhh there was! You simply used your fingers or those free plastic sponge thingymajiggys and hoped for the best. Your hadn't got the foggiest what an 'eye crease brush' was or how on earth to properly apply an eyeshadow - you just piled it on. It also took you a good year or so to realise the importance of blending foundation into your neck...

This fake tan wipe is a really good idea... There comes a time, probably before that much anticipated school disco, when you discover that miraculous invention - the fake tan wipe. In fact, you probably threw it in your basket along with that body glitter roll on 2 days prior to the event of the century. There's no doubt that a fake-tan wipe is a great idea in theory, but for a 14 year old without a pair of protective gloves and zero fake-tan experience it's a recipe for a bronzing disaster. Not only do you end up smelling like a digestive, but you have to face going to school the next day with streaky arms, a patchy face and rather toxic looking fingernails. 

The black kohl-liner/white eyeshadow combo. Surely it couldn't have just been my school where the whole white shadow/kohl liner thing was in vogue? You lined your inner-eyelids with cheap kohl pencil (the blackest of blacks you could find) until they watered, topped it up after every lesson (because heaven forbid, your natural eyelid began to show through) and at the end of the day it congealed in the corners of your eyes and you resembled some sort of Avril Lavigne/panda/pirate/eye casualty mash-up - but that's ok, because it's all about definition, right? You coupled this fetching look with stark white eyeshadow (sometimes with a dash of glitter if you were feeling rather experimental) which contrasted really nicely with your black kohl overload...

Buying products purely because everyone else did. Ok. Who remembers the 'Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse' era? *sheepishly raises hand* I do. Surely it wasn't just my school? It graced the inside of every school bag in the area - mine included.  I'm not by any means knocking Dream Matte Mousse - but back in the day, you didn't quite grasp the concept of skin types did you?  It was a nightmare for dry skins and probably wasn't the best option for teenage skin - but we all bought it anyway simply because it was the product of the moment. The same went for Miss Sporty lipgloss, black glitter nail polish and that bloomin' kohl liner - the blacker and smudgier the better.

So there we have it, a small selection of the makeup mishaps I made in my early teenage years. When you actually sit and think about how much trial and error you went through in your younger years, it just goes to show much there is to learn about cosmetics and beauty industry - we all have to start somewhere!  I guess you could say (in the words of Drake), 'we started from the bottom, now we're here' (oooosh) - with a beauty blog, a rather sizable collection of makeup brushes and not a single sponge eyeshadow applicator in sight...

Have you made any of these Make-Up mistakes when you were younger?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bath-Time Treats | The Bathory Custom Bath Soaks

The Bathory | Custom Bath Soak | £18.00* | Link

When it comes to the 'bath vs. shower' debate, there's no doubt about it - I am most certainly a bath girl. As soon as the colder weather and darker evenings roll around there's nothing I look forward to more than relaxing with some candles and a magazine and taking time out to unwind from the day's events.  Bath time is most certainly 'me time', isn't it? It's a nice little treat at the end of a long day and it's a chance to reflect on everything that's been going on - a way of melting away your worries and woes.  I often treat myself to a bath product or two (nothing ups your bath game like a luxurious soak!) but more often than not, I seem to opt for something that has specific calming qualities - I find it genuinely helps if i'm feeling a little bit anxious or stressed. I also think that fragrance is very important - if you play it right, a bath product can really help to change your mindset in an instant.

That's why I was so intrigued by 'The Bathory' - a website and brand which allows you to create your very own bath soak tailored to your specific needs and preferences, from choosing the main ingredients to individually picking which fragranced oils to blend together. Well, you didn't need to tell me twice! I got to work straight away.  I've been job hunting recently and therefore, it's fair to say I've been feeling a little 'edgy',  so I went all out with the relaxation ingredients and chose a blend that would help to calm my anxious mind. Lo and behold, a couple of days later, this wonderful little package arrived...

Firstly, I just have to mention how flippin' fantastic The Bathory's brand identity is (oo do pardon my little geek outburst there but for a graphic design graduate - this stuff never goes un-noticed. I'm scrutinising products long before I break open the lid seal let me tell you!)  From the way the products are packaged to the way the website is designed - The Bathory really do know how to make their personalised bath-soak concept work - and i mean it really works. Choosing the ingredients was such a fun experience and not once did I feel lost or confused - the simplistic nature and quirky design elements really add value to the brand ethos and what The Bathory is all about, altogether creating such a fun, indulgent experience.

The Process: So, for the first step in the process you choose what your bath soak is to be made up of. There's 3 options: 'Bask' - containing mineral salts to awaken and revive, 'Soothe' (the option I went for) which is made up of hydrating butter milk, honey and oatmeal, or 'Detox' - a blend of epsom salts and other ingredients to help draw out toxins from the body. Once you've decided this, the next bit really is the fun part! You have the option to choose from a wide variety of different oils in order to fragrance your bath soak.  Each one has a simple description which tells you what the benefits are - whether it's calming, stress-relieving, detoxing, mood-lifting... the list goes on - as well as which other oils it blends well with. This is a great feature as you're able to pick and choose what oils you want at the same time as getting some advice as to what will work well together.  If you're struggling, there's also the option to select your preferred 'mood' - The Bathory will show you options tailored to that specific mood to make it a little more simple.

The Soak: After much deliberation, I settled on my 3 essential oils - Lavender, Ylang Ylang and Chamomile.  I wanted something that was quite relaxing but I also wanted a bit of a 'kick'. I added Ylang Ylang which is said to have an 'exotic' scent which helps to uplift the senses - the perfect addition for an evening bath! I also added two key 'relaxation' oils, Lavender and Chamomile.  The soak itself is lovely it blends into the water instantly - you don't need all that much in order to fill the room with the scent and I'm always left feeling suitably relaxed afterwards! The hydrating base i chose is also perfect for this time of year - if your skin is feeling a little bit dull and dry, this helps to add some moisture to your skin and you're left feeling perfectly pampered and soothed.

Overall, I'm so impressed.  Okay - so things like this aren't a necessity but for someone like me who loves to indulge in a good bath product, it's the perfect treat. With Christmas coming up, I think it's a fab idea for someone who likes a good pamper evening - what could be better than creating your very own bath soak?!  Hand-blended in the UK, the total cost of a soak is £18* and you can find out more on their website here. Quite pricey, but considering the size of the tub and the fact that you get such a personalised experience, it's a great idea.

Are you a bath-product obsessive like me? Or will you be sticking to your shower gels?!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Autumn Cheeks | Benefit 'Rockateur' Blush

Benefit 'Rockateur' Blush | £23.50* | Link 

When Autumn/Winter comes a knockin', I tend to have a little swap around when it comes to my makeup - particularly my blush. Although I wear coral hues all year round, I do enjoy using warm toned pinks and 'seashell' shades (try saying that one fast) throughout the colder months as I find they help to brighten my complexion - it often gets a little lacklustre as soon as September is out and the nights start drawing in.  'Rockateur' was rather popular when it was released a little while back, but I must admit it didn't have me dashing to the nearest Benefit counter.  As someone who seems to prefer a matte finish when it comes to blush, I wasn't instantly sold with the shimmery nature of the product and just assumed it would be too glittery for me.  Well, turns out I was wrong.  Once you break past the top layer, Rockateur is much less shimmery and a lot more wearable - very natural, light and pretty. I've been using it the past few weeks and have to say, it's successfully made it's way into my 'Autumn blush' stash... 

I took these photographs before I delved in with the blush brush but the colour of the pan (once you've dusted past the glimmery bits) is much like the part in the centre - a satin finish, warmer toned pink.  It looks really natural when on the cheeks and no glitter transfers on to the skin, leaving you with a beautifully natural pink flush - perfect for the colder mornings.  I've really been enjoying using this just recently - it gives such a healthy glow to the face and works really nicely now that my skin is slightly paler than it was a couple of months ago. I actually apply it using the brush that comes in the box and lightly dust over the cheeks once I've contoured using the 'Hoola' bronzer - I find it picks up just enough product for me and the shape works really well if you're wanting a more precise application.  It also works really well on top of Benefit's 'Majorette' booster blush - together they create a gorgeous coral-pink hue.

The shade actually reminds me of one of my other autumn/winter blush faves - Nars 'Deep Throat' (review here) and I find that these sort of shades really work well at brightening the complexion and giving your skin a little lift - I've even read somewhere that wearing a warm pink tone on the cheeks as opposed to a coral or orange tone helps to counteract any dark circles under your eyes.  Overall, a really lovely addition to Benefit's blush clan! I've really been enjoying using this alongside 'Majorette' just recently and I'll definitely be using this well into the winter.  

What's your favourite autumn/winter blush? Have you tried Rockateur? 

P.S - Just a little note to say I have completely re-organised my Pinterest - I'm using it more for beauty/fashion/lifestyle/blogging now instead of littering it with uni research! I'd love to follow some of you on there so do let me know your usernames! My link can be found in the sidebar :)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Benefit 'Majorette' Booster Blush

Benefit 'Majorette' | £23.50* | Link

I have such a love/hate relationship with cream blushes.  Whether it's their tendency to go patchy on me (thanks, combination skin!), the slightly higher risk of sporting that ever so dashing 'clown cheek' or simply because I can never quite find one with the perfect consistency for my skin, I often make a beeline straight for the powder of a morning.  However, just recently, I've upped my game in the blush stakes. Benefit's 'Majorette' is the latest cream blush to cause quite the stir in the blogging world and for good reason too - a cream to powder finish which promises an instant pick-me-up effect for your skin as well as acting as the perfect base for your powder blush in order to lock in that colour for longer and up the amp on the pigmentation. I must admit I was sold instantly on the gorgeous peachy shade. I wear warmer pinks and corals all year round just because I find they work amazingly well at brightening up dull, winter skin - when it comes to blush, I never save the peaches and corals just for the summer! I've been using Majorette the past few weeks and it's become quite the staple in my daily routine. I have to be honest, I wasn't really expecting it to be - my past record with cream blushes didn't give me the highest of hopes and I've never been much of a fan of cream to powders, but there's something about Majorette that really does do it for me...

To apply, I use my Real Techniques Stippling Brush and apply on top of my foundation before I dust on my setting powder (I use a light, swirling motion as opposed to stippling it on). I find this works much better than applying it with your fingers as it achieves a more flawless, seamless finish and the Stippling Brush picks up just the right amount of product.  Majorette is pigmented, but not so much so that it's difficult to work with - it's very much the perfect amount of pigment for a cream blush. It's worth mentioning that I've also applied this blush over the top of my powder and it works equally as well due to the cream to powder finish - it's really easy to use and virtually fool proof. What I love about it is that it doesn't disturb my foundation underneath - a problem I tend to find with other cream blushes. It doesn't go patchy and it doesn't seem to stick to my dry areas either - it looks really smooth, feels weightless (not sticky in the slightest!) and lasts incredibly well. I always struggle to get my blush to stay put all day long but I've been using this on some serious shopping trips just recently and also whilst I've been dashing about to interviews/internships and its staying power has to be one of its main selling points for me - it's impressive. My blush has usually evaporated in to thin air after a few hours but this really does last all day long. Not only does it last amazingly well but the texture meshes so well with the skin and it's so easy to blend.

Majorette is actually marketed as a 'booster blush' - something that I thought was a bit of a gimmick but it really does amplify any further product you apply on top.  To be honest, most cream blushes would probably do this too - any further colour you apply is going to look stronger on top of another product after all but Majorette is the perfect shade and has just the right level of pigmentation for this purpose.  Due to it's staying power, it also locks in any further colour you apply and acts almost like a 'blush primer' - if that even exists?! (It does now...)  I've taken to applying Majorette, dusting my Mac MSF powder over the top to set my base and then sweeping on Benefit's 'Rocketeur' or Nars 'Deep Throat' blush over the top - the warm pink tones of these powder blushes work so well with Majorette's delicate coral/peach shade.

Not only this, but Majorette also won me over with it's beautiful fragrance - the 'peach and pomegranate' scent really is divine and it smells so fresh and fruity (I have sensitive skin and the fragrance doesn't cause any problems). The packaging is also really neat - a pretty, scalloped compact containing a mirror and magnetic closing mechanism - it feels sturdy and the domed shape of the blush complete with ornate design is the perfect finishing touch to what I think is a winner of a product.  Pat on the back to you, Benefit.  I think this is the first cream blush that's ever made it to 'daily staple' status in my makeup collection...

Have you tried Benefit's Majorette? Did you enjoy it as much as me?!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Just a Few Little Changes...

Sooo... there's an elephant in the room... Yes, the more observant amongst you may have noticed that Bird's Words has indeed had a bit of a makeover - and let me tell you - it was waaay overdue. I thought the ol' bloggles deserved a little bit of a sprucin' up for it's 3rd birthday this year (the even-more-observant amongst you may have noticed I said '4th birthday' earlier in the week. somebody can't count - just call me Joey Essex...) I started this blog when I was 21 and about to embark upon my first year of university. I had cobbled together the original layout with a quick google session and the scraps of design knowledge I had - it was alright, but skip forward a couple of years and I think it's fair to say that the old design was getting a bit stale - I'd started to feel as if my blog had out-grown its design and it really did need a bit of life breathing back in to it. I just wasn't feeling inspired by my blog anymore - my photography was starting to clash with the overload of pink, the sidebar was looking a bit of a tip, and I just didn't think that my blog reflected the person I am now at 24. It needed a serious update...

So here it is! I still want to make a few tweaks but isn't it amazing what a little re-jigging can do?! When you aren't happy with your layout, it really does effect your desire to post. I had to completely pull everything back to basics and build it from scratch - an empty little Bird's Words shell (terrifying considering I hadn't saved the old design beforehand - schoolboy error - so as soon as I restored it to default settings I passed a point of no return) - but now that I've finished university, I've finally found myself with a bit of spare time to concentrate on things like this.  It seemed like the perfect time to have an update. I don't feel like I'm the same person that I was 3 years ago - or even a few months ago for that matter - so I guess whilst I'm taking my next step in life and making a few changes, it seemed appropriate that Bird's Words did too!  

Apologies for this pointless post - I've been rather busy updating my portfolio this week along with getting my laptop fit n' healthy again after it conked out the day before a presentation last week (always happens at the worst times doesn't it!?) so I haven't had time to schedule anything. But I'll be back with a bang shortly...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Love Me Beauty Box | The Re-Launch

LoveMeBeauty Box | £10 + p&p*

When LoveMeBeauty announced that they were having a bit of a 're-jig' last month, I was rather excited to say the least.  The brand really has grown since it first launched and it's been amazing to be able to follow its journey. Not only have they had a complete re-design, but they've also adapted the concept.  Instead of a choice of menu, you now have your pick of a wide variety of products each month via a credits system.  You're given 6 credits and take your pick from whats on offer in the 'boutique' (some products are worth 1, some are worth 2 depending on the size) and if you find yourself a little spoilt for choice, you can add extras for a small fee. Not only do you get much more of a say in what you receive, resulting in a box that's completely yours, the website also offers a much more personal experience.   When you first log on to the website, you answer various questions about your skin type, hair colour and general preferences - LoveMeBeauty then recommends certain brands or products to suit you and suggests these in your 'personal boutique'.

I have to say I love the new design.  The box feels much more high-end and luxurious - and the handy drawstring pouch you receive your products in is a great little extra to keep (as someone who enjoys jetting away on holiday, they're so handy!) Not only have they stepped it up a notch, but they've kept their pricing the same - I love that they haven't used this re-launch as an excuse to up the pricing system. It does feel like a completely different experience to the previous boxes but it's such a fun process to take your pick of all the products available each month and it definitely feels more high-end and considered. It's worth mentioning that you can still opt for a surprise if you enjoy the mystery element of subscription beauty boxes. So, without any further rambling, I shall introduce you to the contents of my September box. Here's what I chose with my 6 credits...

Percy & Reed | Abundantly Bouncy Volumising Mousse | 200ml | Full Size
Wowzaa. Look at the size of this beauty! For 2 credits, this full sized mousse promises extreme, lasting volume without the sticky feel - providing incredible height as well keeping your hair light and natural due to the creamy, moisturising texture. Sounds dreamy doesn't it!? I've not used this yet as I'm currently getting through the dregs of my current one, but I cannot wait to give this a try.  Mousse is something I simply cannot live without and I use it every time I wash my hair without fail -- I'm excited to have a full sized can ready and waiting! I love Percy & Reed's branding too... the little illustrations and simplistic, quirky feel really appeal to me.

Oriflame | ECollagen Wrinkle Correcting Eye Cream | Full Size
This looks slightly different to the pot that was shown on the website, but either way, I really wanted to try an eye cream so I'm still a happy bunny.  I'm pretty sure the one on the website claims to be for all ages but this one seems more targeted towards wrinkles. Not complaining though, I've often heard that starting in your 20's is the way forward when it comes to preventing wrinkles! This one is enriched with ingredients which stimulate collagen production which altogether help to banish wrinkles, dark circles and puffiness. Dark circles are the main culprit for me and although it's too soon to report results, I have to say I've really enjoyed using this.  It's quite a thick consistency but the rollerball application makes it so relaxing to apply - it moisturises really nicely and is gentle on the eye area.

Malin + Goetz | Grapefruit Face Cleanser | Sample Size
I never really get excited about skin-care products but I picked this because I thought it would be great to keep by me for travelling. I was also quite intrigued by the grapefruit scent! The formula is a thick gel-like consistency which foams up when applied to the face.  I like this because it's suitable for all skin-types and is supposed to be a good option for those with sensitive skin (raises hand). It has a delicate, natural fragrance and isn't too perfumed. Malin + Goetz is a brand which is stocked in SpaceNK so it must be a good'un!

Murad Absolute Bronzing Boost | Sample Size
Ooo I was excited about this one! Although summer is well and truly over, I do favour products which add a subtle glow throughout the colder months in order to keep my skin from looking dull and lifeless.  This is perfect as it isn't too strong and blends like a dream - giving a super natural, smooth finish to the skin.  I use this as a pre-base before my foundation but I'm pretty sure you could use this over foundation too for a subtle glow - I'd even say you could mix a drop or two in with your foundation too - it's really quite versatile. It's oil free, protects from UV rays and smooths texture and restores tone whilst providing a subtle, even touch of colour to your base. Overall, I'm really enjoying this so far.

Overall, I'm really impressed with the re-brand. I really enjoyed the process of selecting my products and the fact that you're able to add extras if you wish means that you'll never miss out on a sample you really want - something I often had to compromise on with the old menu system.  Theres a lovely selection of makeup, hair, skin and body products on offer each month so there really is plenty of variety depending on your preferences. You can find out more about LoveMeBeauty on the website here.

What did you think to the new Love Me Beauty box design and concept?