CAUDALIE Beauty Elixir & other great face sprays

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Over the summer I have really gotten into face sprays. I used to find them more drying than hydrating, but have recently found quite a few that I am really enjoying.

This one by Caudalie is one of my absolute favourites, it’s incredibly uplifting and hydrating due to the peppermint oil and mint balm leaf oil – perfect for hot weather. Beware though, this stuff really packs a punch – keep eyes closed when spraying, peppermint = ouch! It contains grape extract (as is typical to the range), orange flower water, rosemary and rose extract – all wonderful for toning, hydrating and strengthening the skin. It can be used at toner stage before moisturiser, to set makeup, or to refresh skin any time of the day – a total boost whenever you need it.

It’s available in 2 sizes 30ml (£11.50) and 100ml (£32) and is available at Escentual.com (and many other online retailers and SpaceNK). Escentual have a great selection of french pharmacy brands, and often have great discounts – so check them out.
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Here are some other great facial sprays that I am really enjoying using:

Susanne Kaufmann Harmonising Moisturising Spray – the most hydrating of them all, really soft and fresh and floral – leaves skin dewy and nourished. £30, 75ml at Liberty London.

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water – cooling, soothing and full of minerals. Perfect for any time of day. £3.50 – £7.50 at Escentual.com

La Roche-Posay Serozinc (not shown) – a cooling spray perfect for after an acid tone (with PIXI Glow Tonic, or First Aid Beauty pads – both pictured). This product contains zinc sulphate, great for people with oily or blemish prone skin, but doesn’t dry out my dehydrated skin. £8.50 at Escentual.com 

Caudalie Grape water – great after an acid tone. Perfect fine spray – super refreshing, and excellent value –  £6-£10 at Escentual.com

Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist – if you love rose, you will love this! 100ml, £24 at Lookfantastic.com

Happy spritzing! x

 

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ESPA Soothing Body Oil

Body oils are a thing of luxury. They give a silkiness that most body creams just can’t achieve. ESPA do a big range of aromatherapy body oils to suit most needs, everything from detoxifying,  or fitness (for stiff muscles) to nourishing, and they all smell divine.

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Having a it of an obsession with ‘calming and relaxing’ body products, I have been using the Soothing Body Oil. It’s a blend of at least 15 different oils, ranging from coconut, avocado and sweet almond as nourishing carrier oils, to sandalwood, rose geranium, lavender and frankincense to help to calm and destress. It is perfect for using at night to help you drift off to sleep while feeling quite spoilt! I personally notice a citronella scent coming through quite strongly, so this may also be a great oil to take on holiday to warmer climates to keep mosquitos at bay (!).

The texture is quite rich and nourishing, and leaves skin feeling hydrated and supple, but not oily or sticky – and of course beautifully scented. My only gripe would be that you need to take the lid off and pour the oil out into your hands through an open top – a pump would be a welcome addition and make application less messy. Otherwise the bottle does look quite beautiful on my counter!

Liberty has a great ESPA selection, you can find it and the rest of the range in store or online at Liberty or the ESPA website for £32 (100ml).

Zelens Triple Action Advanced Eye Cream – Review

imageIt was a sad day when this fabulous eye cream came to an end. For a small little pot (15ml) it lasted me over 5 months of twice daily use. You really only need the smallest amount, and thank goodness for that because it is most definitely a luxury buy at £75 (!!!).

For this reason I would only recommend to those with substantial beauty budgets, or serious concerns for their eye area. My eye area concerns really only extend to hydration and plumping out fine lines and wrinkles, I don’t currently have puffiness or dark circles (probably jinxing it) although I believe this cream is excellent for both of those. As a hydrating eye cream this works wonders and the added silicones act as a great primer for the eye area, making makeup application smooth and easy.

The product is filled with really impressive ingredients including various antioxidants, botanical extracts, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and peptides. One such peptide is a non toxic form of topical botox, encouraging your muscles to relax and move less, therefore reducing the depth of wrinkles and preventing new ones. But don’t let that worry you, the effect is subtle and in no way comparable to getting the real thing! Your face will not be in any way ‘frozen’.  Zelens also have a great section on their website called the Zelens Garden, where they go into a lot of detail about the different plant extracts used, it’s worth a peruse, HERE.

Next up on my radar is to try more Zelens skincare, as well as their new-ish makeup range. Zelens is available from SpaceNK, BeautyBay or their website (among others).

FOR SMALLER BUDGETS…

If you are looking for a good hydrating eye cream to suit a smaller budget, I recommend trying the Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream. It offers lasting hydration that sinks in beautifully and leaves a lovely plump feeling. It contains some excellent ingredients like rosehip oil, coconut oil, hyaluronic acid and cucumber oil to mention just a few – a great product, and only £20 (15ml).

Also great and for a smaller share of your cash is the NUXE Prodigieux Eye Contour (15ml) for £18.50. It contains hyaluronic acid for hydrating, and antioxidants and caffeine for puffiness and dark circles.  NUXE is available on most online beauty sites, as well as M&S , Space NK and independent pharmacies. Oh and this eye cream smells divine!

 

Brilliant Hand Cream – Alison Claire

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This unassuming hand cream has unexpectedly become a firm favourite! I always have loads of hand creams on the go, and even out of the many luxury hand creams I have, I tend to keep reaching for this one the most. I am convinced that in a blind testing everyone would agree it’s the best.
Alison Claire is natural brand, meaning she doesn’t include any possibly harmful ingredients in her products like parabens (a group of preservatives), PEGs. SLSs etc, and I am tending to seek out more and more products like this, especially considering the number of products I consume! NOTE that not everyone agrees these ‘nasty’ ingredients are even all that nasty at all, I have just decided to exclude them when/where I can just in case – I’m not at all fanatical about avoiding them.

Back to the product. The Mango and Coconut Hand Cream is lush. Although I’m not a big fan of fruit smelling products, the fragrance here is subtle and divine! The main ingredients are unsurprisingly mango butter and coconut oil, but it also includes vitamin E, marshmallow, green tea and white willow, and leaves skin feeling plump and fresh.

The reason this cream is so great is that although it provides excellent moisturisation, it immediately sinks in and doesn’t leave a greasy layer, particularly on your palms and finger tips (always so annoying if you work on a computer all day and your keys get greasy, OR when trying to use a pen straight after and your hand keep slipping towards the page, OR when trying to open a water bottle with a tight lid etc). It’s so nourishing that I even find myself slathering it all over my arms, and exposed spring-time ankles, anywhere there is visible skin – I can’t get enough!

There is a full range of products for face, body and hair, which I haven’t tried, but can only imagine are up to similar standards.

I haven’t seen the range for sale anywhere other than on the website, and the 50ml hand cream goes for £7.99, so good value for money compared to other more luxury options. There is also an Orange and Patchouli one which I must try next, enjoy!

For information on Parabens, PEGs and other supposed ‘nasties’, visit Paula’s Choice website and search for the ingredient you want to find out more about – often the media makes them out to be worse than they are – best to read as many articles as you can and decide for yourself 🙂

Benefit Roller Lash Mascara – Review

I was a little sceptical about this launch because of the major amount of hype. Every time a product gets so built up, it’s easy for your expectations to get so high it’s impossible for the product to ever impress. Also, people went mental for Benefits last mascara, They’re Real, and to be honest, although I like it, I don’t think it is that amazing! It gives more of a spiky effect to lashes, instead of a full lash effect, and I find that They’re Real leaves black prints on my eyelids. I’m not sure if I suffer alone on this, maybe it’s the shape of my eye sockets? But it doesn’t seem to happen with other mascaras. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that my expectations weren’t very high for this launch, however I couldn’t resist picking up the March ELLE magazine to get a sample to try.

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And what do you know, I am REALLY impressed! This mascara by far gives the most defined lashes I have ever had. Each lash is perfectly separated and coated from root to tip – no clumpy thick lashes. The result isn’t full volume, but instead the most natural-looking beautiful lashes I have ever gotten from any mascara – I must say I was fascinated by how I could see each individual lash, and spent ages staring in the mirror! The claim is that the brush curls each lash with revolutionary ‘hooks’ (just criss-crossing bristles), I can’t vouch for that, I can definitely feel the hooks grabbing my lashes and separating them nicely, but the curling is neither here nor there for me.

Overall, a great mascara for natural-looking, perfectly separated lashes. It lasts really well through the day, and although I experienced a few little black streaks on my lids, there was no crumbling or any flaking at all – safe for contact lens wearers!

You can find it at any Benefit counter, or Boots.com, £19.50, where they currently have an offer of a free gift of a Stay Flawless Primer deluxe sample, with 2 benefit purchases.

Cream & stick eye shadow favourites

Over the past 6 months, I have re-discovered cream shadows. In the past I’d always believed they would settle into the creases of your eyelids and look terrible – but the latest formulas are indeed crease-proof, long lasting and are incredibly easy to apply with fingers or a brush – what ever works best for you. They are also super easy to carry around, as they are compact (no large pallets) and brushes can stay at home – I’m converted!

NOTE: I am not very experimental with eye shadow colours, everything I own is some shade of brown or a neutral/nude colour, I’m personally not into bright colours on my eyes. If you are the same, I can recommend the colours below. If not, the formulations below are great and there are loads of other colours available that you may prefer, so check them out.

First up is MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork £15.50 HERE or most department stores.
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This shade has a satin finish with no shimmer making it incredibly natural, and allows this product a multitude of uses. It’s the perfect shade for me (and most people) to create a deeper eye socket – as the colour replicates shadows on fair to medium skin tones. So it’s a great colour to just sweep over your lids for a very nude no make up eye – but an eye that looks significantly better than usual! I also use it under my eye on my lower lash-line to again create a shadow, or slightly darken the area in a way that’s less obvious than eyeliner. This shade also helps intensify the colour of blue and green eyes, handy! Groundwork also makes a great eyelid primer, as powder and other cream shadows sit nicely on top and stay for ages.
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Another use for this shade is contouring. I have chatted to various MAC makeup artists who all swear by using this shade to contour cheekbones and noses. Contouring takes a bit of skill, so when using a quick drying and non-budging product like this, I recommend doing some practice runs first!

Over all a great product, the formula is creamy and super easy to apply with your finger or a brush, very versatile and very long wearing. There are a wide range of colours to choose from in this range, with various different finishes, and for £15.50, I think they are a great buy.

MaxFactor Excess Shimmer Cream Shadows, £7.99 at Boots.com (currently 3for2 – hurry!)

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These sound a bit scary, and to be honest a few of the colours look a bit scary too, but I chose Bronze and Copper and both are wonderful! The texture is nothing like the MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pots, rather they are wetter and more mouse-like. Copper is a great nude colour – perfect on its own for a veil of soft shimmer, great over Groundwork for a ‘wet’ look – or great over darker shades for a more evening look.

Bronze is perfect for people with blue eyes as it brings out the colour nicely. It is also great for a bronze smokey eye, which is more wearable that a dark black/silver one on those of us with paler complexions.

See below a bronze smokey eye created using the Bronze Excess Shimmer pot:
imageImage courtesy of Harpers Bazaar.

Now for some shadow sticks:

Eyeko and Trish McEvoy

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Trish McEvoy 24 Hour Eyeshadow and Liner in Topaz, £24 at Liberty

This is easily my favourite thing in my makeup collection at the moment. This shadow/liner is so convenient and easy to use and the colour works well on the lids and the bottom lash line too. It’s perfect for a little bit of subtle sparkle. It glides on incredibly easily and blends well – perfect for first timers!  Best of all, is the staying power – it is waterproof and stays on all day (and all night if you want it to!).
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There are loads of other great colours to choose from too. Although they are fairly pricey, I think the quality is really top, plus it looks very premium in its slick gold packaging (shallow, yes).

Another amazing range of eye shadow sticks is from Charlotte Tilbury: Colour Chameleon, colour morphing eyeshadow pencils, £19 each. A range of 8 long lasting shadow pencils designed to suit all eye colours, they, along with pretty much everything else Charlottes range, are awesome! Charlotte Tilbury products are only available online via her websiteSelfridges and Fenwicks.

Eyeko Me and My Shadow in Taupe, £15 Eyeko

This shadow liner is really excellent value for money. The colour is great – it actually comes out a lot darker on my lids than it shows in the swatch, but that makes it really great for evening wear. There are two other colours in the range, Charcoal and Chocolate, so this is the lightest one.

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It’s the perfect handbag essential for a quick glam-up at work before heading out – literally just sweep it over your lids and under the lower lash line, and blend with the little brush if needed…fool proof! It is also long lasting (not quite as long as the Trish McEvoy above), waterproof and pretty close to crease-proof. It never leaves my handbag. This is a great option if something like the Trish McEvoy or Charlotte Tilbury shadows are out of your budget.

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Eyeko (top), Trish McEvoy (bottom) – excuse goosebumps – London is freezing!

Here are the swatches of the shadow sticks along side the Maxfactor Excess Shimmer Pots for colour comparison:

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From left to right: Maxfactor Bronze, Copper, Trish McEvoy and Eyeko

I highly recommend all the shades above if you like a nude/neutral eye. If not I can vouch for all the formulations, they are great no matter what colour you choose – happy shading.

December empties

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This month I have come to the end of some great products, all of which I recommend! (hence the rose petals)

Klorane Shampoo with Flax Fibre for Volume and Texture £6.80 (400ml) HERE

Klorane is a brilliant French pharmacy brand that unfortunately isn’t all that easily available in the UK, but most of the range is available on escentual.com, except this particular product!? But I have found it at a great price on the link above. I have issues in general with most volumising shampoos – you will know I wasn’t the biggest fan of L’Oreal Fibrology – see post HERE, as I feel that generally they don’t have much of an effect. This shampoo however does deliver on the promise of texture. I can definitely feel that my hair has more grip after use (if that makes sense), it’s less silky and slippery and is easier to style – so for me it’s a win. The smell is also AMAZING, and it’s a total bargain!

NUXE Body Contouring Oil for Infiltrated Cellulite, £23.50 at Lookfantastic.com

It’s incredibly difficult to assess the abilities of cellulite busting creams and potions. There are so many other factors that play a role in cellulite proliferation and reduction, including diet, exercise, massage and body brushing (I highly recommend the body brush from ELEMIS, £21) – it’s often hard to isolate what is working. I would suggest going all out with oils/creams/brushing as well as trying to drink loads of water (why not?). The problem is I think booze has an unfortunate negative effect on cellulite – so at the end of the day, if you like a drink like I do, it may be impossible to completely resolve or keep at bay.

Regardless of all that negativity, I really have enjoyed using this oil. It is quite thick in consistency and makes massaging in a real pleasure – you can really have a go! The smell is also really nice and refreshing (grapefruit and cedar), and it leaves the skin feeling toned and moisturised. My only slight reservation is that it doesn’t contain caffeine, but if that is essential for you, you could also try the NUXE Contouring Serum which does – note I haven’t tried this one.

Sanctury Spa Body Butter, £10 at Boots (300ml)

I love the smell of this range, and also use the shower gel and bath foam – LUSH! The body butter is light, but really hydrating (its contains both shea and cocoa butters) and sinks in without leaving too much oiliness on the skin. The texture and fragrance make it feel like a much more expensive product – love.

Shu Uemura Skin Purifier Cleansing oil, £30 at Selfridges

Cleansing oils have been part of my routine for the past 5 or so years, and I couldn’t imagine my bathroom without one! Shu Uemura cleansing oils for me have always been the original oils, and I have loved this oil right to the last drop. Their oils are expensive, but I find them to be incredibly light and emulsify into a beautiful milk, without leaving traces of oiliness or tightness behind – excellent.

I find that cleansing oils are especially fabulous if you have accidentally slept in your makeup (shame on you), or after a particularly long day of wearing make up and sunscreen, as a perfect pre-cleanse.

I am actually going to be trying a new cleansing oil next from South Africa, called Lipodol. The whole skincare range is oil-based, which is a first as far as I know, and will be launching into the UK soon. What is also interesting is that the range is from the makers of Bio-oil, so I have high hopes – I will report back soon!

NOTE that both Shu Uemura and Lipodol are based on mineral oil. For a cleansing product I see no harm in mineral oils being used, although they have recently, and unfairly I think, received a lot of bad press. If you are interested in the mineral oil debate, you can find lots of contradicting info online, but I have put a link here to a piece on Paula’s Choice Beautypedia in case you are interested: Is Mineral Oil Bad for Skin? But that’s only one side of the argument – it’s up to you!

Disappointing products

It’s inevitable that some products are going to over promise and under-deliver. Reasons for this vary, it could be that they’re suited to a different skin/hair type, marketing hype, personal preferences, priced unduly high, or generally, they just don’t do what they say on the tin. Here are a few that I have come across recently. Please do note though, that these are my own opinions and I am sure that some people will disagree and really enjoy using these products.

This works Perfect Cleavage Firming Lotion, £38 at Boots.com 

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This product promised so much and honestly, for me, delivered not even a nicely hydrated décolletage! Unfortunately, in my opinion, most budget body lotions are better. I have been using it for a few months now (I must admit that it does seem to last forever) and my skin feels no more firm, soft or smooth than normal – and as someone who sleeps on their side, the cream has done nothing to reduce ‘sleep creases’ (if you know what I mean). I much prefer using Bio-oil on this area at night as it feels much more nourishing to me, and also helps with any pigmentation or uneven tone. The worst part for me is the price – it’s, quite frankly, outrageous – £38! In its defense the smell is OK, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend. Unfortunately, I must also add, that this is the second this works product that I have tried that has lead to disappointment. The first was their Perfect Skin Defense SPF30 (pictured below) which feels a lot like how I would imagine it feels to put cement on your face (!) – thankfully I believe they have now discontinued it. Phew.
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Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner, £12 at Selfridges

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It pains me to have to admit that I don’t like an Eyeko product, but it’s true. I must also mention that this is the second one of these that I have had, and both have the same problem – so this is not an isolated incident.

Their Skinny Liquid Liners are dry… right from the start.

That’s all I can really say – you can’t have a dry liquid eyeliner. It’s very frustrating, and a huge waste of money. Avoid.

NOTE: I really like a lot of other Eyeko products though, and they should pop up in some posts soon.

Trevor Sorbie Beautiful Volume Thickening Leave-in Conditioner, £5.40, here

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Again not much to say here except that I don’t recommend that you buy this product. It was neither conditioning nor thickening, nor did I see any amount of volume. To top it off, the fragrance wasn’t great so I was left with tangled, flat, strange smelling hair.

I have noticed that they have changed the packaging, hopefully they have changed the formulation too!

Piz Buin Self Tanning 360 Multi-Positon Mist Spray For Legs, £7.73 Amazon

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I was particularly excited about this product, as it’s for fair skins and promises a very light natural tan. In reality, although the product is easy to apply and spread around, the ‘self tan smell’ is particularly strong and had no colour pay-off what so ever. Instead I would recommend trying He Shi Express Liquid Tan, £20, as the colour is gorgeous, application is simple, has minimal smell and your tan lasts for days. There is actually a great Christmas gift available now where you can get the Express Liquid Tan and the tanning mitt in a cute silver bag for £18! Get it quick HERE.

Best body polish – DIPTYQUE Smoothing Body Polish

With Christmas on its way, it’s time to keep an eye out for some more luxury products that will make the perfect gift for those who appreciate quality and pampering.

And who doesn’t like a good scrub every now and then? The problem I have with most body scrubs is that they are too thin, in the sense that many are more like shower gels with a few random micro beads or bits of apricot shell. I like a scrub that’s really going to scrub! It needs to be rich and thick, and offer great moisturisation at the same time.

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Image Courtesy of Diptyque Paris

Enter the Diptyque body polish – this is on a whole other level of luxury! The glass packaging shows the beautiful speckled product, and the smell is sublime! It’s the most addictive scent ever – I wish it came in a perfume (I actually asked at the store – alas it doesn’t). All I know is that it’s a blend of pink peppercorns, peach and jasmine – it’s heaven!

The scrub itself is rich, scrubs well, leaves skin soft and supple, and leaves you satisfied – nothing like a good scrub!

This will make a fabulous luxury present. I say luxury, because it’s £45, so not cheap, actually outrageously expensive – but presents are meant to be something that the other person isn’t likely to buy for them self – so if you can afford it, this is guaranteed to brighten someone’s day.

You can find it here, Selfridges, John Lewis or Diptyque stores.

NOTE: Before discovering this Diptyque Smoothing Body Polish, my all time favourite has been the L’Occitane Ultra Rich Body Scrub, £22, it has 10% Shea butter, and smells amazing – making it also a really great, more purse-friendly gift, or just a treat for yourself!

Boscia Luminizing Peel-off Black Mask

I would prefer if my blog focussed on products that I love and recommend – but I think it’s important to also flag up products that I think are in fact bad for your skin…this, unfortunately is one of them.
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Boscia is a brand from California focussing on paraben-free, botanical skincare – which sounds good enough right?! They also have some really interesting looking products on their website, like this Konjac Cleansing Sponge with Deep Hydrating Clay and some other really unusual things including this black mask. I was particularly excited to try this mask, partially because it’s been years since I have used a peel-off mask, let alone a black one, but also for its promise of Vitamin C and brightening, clarifying effects…

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The application was fairly straight forward – the mask is so thick in consistency that it was actually quite easy to control. After 15-20 mins the mask was already almost dry – when I tried to take a sip of tea, I quickly realised that I could barely move my face at all.

At this stage a mild panic started creeping over me, as I desperately clawed at the mask, trying to lift the outer edges. I managed to get the peel going (with a major sigh of relief), only to confronted with – WOW – a lot of pain. It, quite literally, felt like I was ripping my skin off! By now severe panic had set in, I still needed to take the mask off the rest (80%) of my face.

Now I don’t have a particularly hairy face (some of us have more ‘face fluff’ or ‘down’ than others), but I can testify that the pain was overwhelming – I was practically in tears. I would liken the experience to having duct tape stuck to your face and having to rip it off, yourself.

And it just got worse. Like an idiot I put the mask over some of my eyebrow hairs – never do that, mine are now barely intact.

Overall the experience was terrifying and stress inducing.

Luckily I have a wonderful Elemis Balancing Lavender Toner that I used to get any last bits of the mask off and also to cool and calm my aching face!

I really believe that this kind of product can in no way be good for your skin. I wouldn’t even recommend patch testing it – just stay away. Saying that I have seen some positive reviews –  I imagine it would work best on oily skin – but still not worth the risk.

Boscia Luminizing Peel-off Black Mask is around the £20- £25 mark on places like ebay. Avoid.