Thursday

VO5 Give Me Texture and Plump It Up Styling Sprays

I've been working on trying to grow my hair recently (by working on it, I basically mean not cutting it), but since the layers that were once around my ears are now down below my shoulders I've had more of struggle when trying to create thickness and volume. I wash my hair every day and it usually feels soft and flat, when I would much rather have it bouncy and messy, so creating style and texture that holds now that my hair is long again has become a bit of a challenge!
I was scanning the haircare aisles of Asda when I came across V05's large range of styling products, and as I used to swear by their Mega Hold Weather Resistant Gel Spray when I was at school, I thought I would try out a few of their newer releases.

Designed to give the hair 'volume and thickness with natural bounce', Plump It Up Amplifying Blow Dry Lotion (£3.65) also includes heat defence to protect it from damage. This is sprayed onto damp hair before blow drying and I find it gives my hair more shape without it feeling sticky or greasy. It has a wide spray that makes it easy to coat the hair, and has a lovely fresh sweet scent.

The Give Me Texture Tousled Style Spray (£3.89) is meant to create texture on layered hair, when sprayed into the lengths and scrunched. I like a messy slightly wavy look to my hair but don't usually use tongs or curlers so I thought this would be the perfect product for me, unfortunately though it's the one I've used the least. I find a lot of product comes out of the pump at once which can make application patchy and, although V05 claim it creates a 'touchable finish', it feels quite hard and crunchy in my hair. I thought this would give a similar result to a mousse, but instead seems very much like the gel sprays which hold hair in place by making it crisp.
The final spray is designed to be used instead of backcombing for up-dos, but I find it great on my hair when it's down and I've been reaching for the Plump It Up Dry Backcombing Spray (£3.79) a lot over the last few weeks. While it doesn't give such an intense look as backcombing, it acts like a dry shampoo with less powder and more grip. I spray this into my roots and down the lengths of my hair where it removes the softness and flatness of my clean hair and makes it easy to mess up. The instructions say to 'jujj' hair into shape, which is exactly what I do, and it gives me much more texture and volume at the crown, and down my layered lengths which can otherwise hang limp below my shoulders.
This is definitely my favourite of the three as it works so well on my hair and it actually makes it feel thicker between my fingers. If you like sleek shiny locks then this spray might not be for you, but if you struggle with flatness and dislike products that make the hair hard then this is well worth a try!

The VO5 styling range is really affordable, with almost every product being under £4, and there is such a large choice of products that you're bound to find something to suit your hair. I'm pleased that I've found two out of these three products work really well for me, and having heat defence already built into the formula of one of them is a definite convenience. I'm sure I'll be having another snoop down the aisle soon!

Have you tried any styling products from VO5 recently? 


Saturday

Do You Clean Your Makeup Packaging?
- How and Why You Should

A while ago I wrote a post about cosmetics sanitisers from Beauty So Clean, titled 'So You Clean Your Brushes, But Do You Clean Your Cosmetics?', but I found it really interesting recently to find out that some people don't clean their make up packaging. When you're touching a product every day, even with clean hands it can become marked with cosmetics and fingerprints  and any oils or dirt from your fingers can transfer to the compact or pot, which might then transfer to your face. If you store your cosmetics out in the open, dust can also settle on it, which doesn't cause much threat, but can make it look less than new!
I clean the packaging of a product to make sure it looks nice and new, and to remove any smudges, fallout or oil and bacteria. I go through the whole collection of my frequently used makeup once or week or so (usually when I wash my brushes) and clean anything that looks marked, as well as wiping over products like lipsticks and concealers that I store uncovered in pots. It's an obvious one, but I also make sure to clean the countertop that I keep my make up on too- it collects powder and eyeshadow fallout, and I am constantly touching it to pick products up and set them down.

The best and easiest way that I use to clean cosmetic packaging is with wipes- any face wipes you have are great for getting rid of annoying smears or spillages (I find the textured exfoliating types the best, they remove dried mascara with ease!), and alcohol disinfectant wipes are brilliant for sanitising surfaces and products, as they work quickly, dry really fast and don't leave any scent. I've tried cleaning solution on a sponge in the past, but it leaves the products so wet that it isn't very helpful for a quick scoot over the collection.

The makeup wipes that I currently have on hand at the moment are the Simple Cleansing Wipes, which I don't use for a full cleanse but do use to remove my make up, and some super cheap Pure Exfoliating Wipes which I use purely for cleaning. The alcohol wipes I'm currently using are the Milton Antibacterial Surface Wipes, meant to be used to disinfect surfaces around babies, but work brilliantly for make up products. Disinfectant wipes take a minimum of 5 minutes to kill bacteria, but usually don't require rinsing so you can wipe a product over and set it back into storage while it quickly dries.

I find the most annoying packaging to clean is the matte black type, which seems to collect dirty finger prints without me even touching it! I use a make up remover wipe, or sanitising wipe (such as the Antibacterial Cleansing Surface Wipes from Dettol), then wipe them quickly with a cloth or towel to avoid making fingerprints on the wet packaging before it's dried.
A task that often slips my mind is to clean my big mirrors- it's sometimes amazing how much more detail you can see after polishing a mirror that didn't even look dirty! Some cleaners can leave streaks, so I apply a few drops of vinegar to some kitchen towel and then wipe it over the surface of the mirror, buffing until it quickly dries. I'm left with a completely clean shiny mirror and no drips or streaks! 

Cleaning makeup packaging and storage areas is one of the household tasks that I actually enjoy doing, and I think it's quite important. While fingers and brushes will hold more bacteria to transfer to the face, anything that's on the packaging might ultimately end up there too. Aside from hygiene, there's nothing better than seeing your pretty make up shine like new!



Wednesday

My Favourite Four High Street Highlighters

The basic concepts of a highlighter or luminiser seem pretty easy to replicate, but sometimes high street brands get it so wrong. I've tried my fair share of products that are either bright white, horribly glittery, or just so badly formulated that they look like nothing on the skin, and each has left me wondering whether cheaper products can really do as promised. Thankfully I have found some high street highlighters that I really enjoy using, and think are definitely worth picking up. Here are my current favourite four:

MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighting Powder (£3)- this is one of the best highlighters for its price in my opinion- at £3 this powder is so light on the purse that it's often sold out in superdrug stores and on the MUA website. It has a lovely iridescence without being too sparkly and can be applied lightly or built up for a really glossy look. This product isn't overly finely milled, which means there isn't much fallout from the pan, but also means it can tend to highlight the pores so a light hand is needed for areas where pores are particularly large (for me, thats across the nose and centre of the cheeks). The product is lightly pigmented with a pinky tone, and when bought new it has a really attracted embossed wave pattern which I think makes it look far more expensive than it actually is. The hinge on my lid has unfortunately broken off, so the packaging doesn't get a thumbs up from me, but  this product is one of the best you'll find for £3 and excellent value for money.

Autograph Liquid Glow Illuminator (£9.50)- A great high street dupe for Mac Strobe Cream, this light lotion is moisturising and luminising with iridescent light reflecting particles that create a natural look in the absence of sparkle or shimmer. The illuminating liquid can be used underneath foundation, mixed with foundation, or tapped and blended on  top over the high points of the face to make them stand out. This lotion is so easy to blend into the skin with fingers or a brush, but I find on my oily skin I sometimes need to set it with a little powder just to keep in place through the day. The packaging features a pump with plunger at the bottom of the bottle instead of tube in the centre, which means you can be sure to use up every last drop of the 30ml. The Liquid Glow Illuminator is available in White or Bronze, and while bronze is too dark for me I think it's great that they've created an option for more tanned skins.

Topshop Highlighter in Sunbeam (£10)- This highlighter has unfortunately been discontinued (although it seems to still be available online at John Lewis), but deserves honourable mention for its uniqueness. First, I love the simple packaging of this product- the matte cream compact is solid but lightweight, and the hand-drawn stars make it stand out in my make up collection. This is the most pigmented highlighting powder I've tried and a light dusting creates a lovely warm metallic glow to the face without being chalky or grainy. A light hand is definitely needed to avoid the golden powder showing up too obviously on the skin, but I find highlighters that lean too pink can look a bit unnatural on my skintone, so this is the perfect shade to give an iridescent warmth. If golden highlighters aren't your thing, Topshop also sells Crescent Moon, which has the same formula but in a much lighter and pinker shade.
[I've just heard from lovely Lucy at The Little Blush that Sunbeam will be available at Topshop again this Christmas, I'll definitely be buying myself a back up!] 

Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java (£9)- A recent release from Bourjois celebrating their 150th birthday, this finely milled pearlised rice powder illuminates the skin in a really delicate way. The translucent light pink powder can be used lightly all over the face to brighten (and is praised as an undereye setting powder), or more heavily along the cheekbones for a stronger but natural glow. I find I can get away with using this product all over during the day, but at night the artificial light tends to bring out the gold shimmer so I stick to the natural high points of the face. The powder contains rice starch, oakmoss extract and rose extract which give it a light scent that reminds me of roses and baby powder, and the packaging is definitely worth talking about- a convenient twist lock sifter sits inside a vintage style pot, which looks eyecatching rather than outdated and the green stands out perfectly among the black and white compacts of my collection. I was so eager to get my hands on this product when it launched, and it certainly didn't disappoint me!

In my opinion, if you can't swatch a highlighter before buying, its best to seek out reviews from people with a similar skintone to you- a product that looks gorgeous on, for example, a warm olive shade of skin can look completely different on a lighter complexion. Even though I already own more than enough, I've got my eye on the Balm Mary Loumanizer (£16 from Feel Unique) as the next to add to my highlighter collection. A product that I originally saw in a video by Shaaanxo, and which seems to look gorgeous and glossy on every skintone!


What are your favourite highstreet highlighters?


Tuesday

Real Techniques Sam's Picks Set





As I've said before (and I'm sure I'll say again), Real Techniques seem to be able to do no wrong. Their previous new release, the Miracle Complexion Sponge, was a massive hit with with me; so much so that I haven't picked up a foundation brush since trying it and now have two so that I'll never be without a clean one. Imagine my excitement when I heard they were launching a new set in time for Christmas, which includes the Essential Crease Brush, a new eye brush exclusive to the collection.

Presented in a plastic box with shiny cardboard-covered foam insert, the Sam's Picks* set stands out against the others in the group, and looks quite festive with its bright colours. The set features 6 of Sam's favourite brushes for adding to any collection, 4 of which are face brushes and 2 are eye brushes, that are perfect to create a flawless finish from minimal makeup to a dramatic look.

Multitask Brush- This is so soft which makes it perfect for applying powder to the larger areas of face and has become my new favourite brush to set my makeup. While I find it a bit too big for blusher, it does a great job of sweeping bronzer over the cheeks and forehead for a sunkissed look.
Buffing Brush- A bloggers favourite for foundation and only previously available in the Core Collection. I love this brush to flawlessly apply foundation on days when I need less coverage, and it does a brilliant job of blending my base into my hairline and jawline. This is also perfect for buffing powder foundation seamlessly into the skin and creates a lovely finish with my mineral powder.
Essential Crease Brush- This is exclusive to the set, with no plans yet for it to be released on its own. The tapered end means it fits perfectly into the crease and applies shadow evenly while the rounded bristles at the sides blend it in easily. This has some of the softest bristles in my eye brush collection but their slight stiffness means you can use it lightly to get great definition.
Setting Brush- The perfect size and shape for the areas under the eyes and around the nose, this flat but fluffy brush applies loose powder perfectly to avoid creasing and shine. It's soft for delicate areas and doesn't leave the bristle marks that larger brushes can. It can also be flipped over and used to apply a dusting of highlighter precisely to the cheeks and nose.
Pointed Foundation Brush- This brush aims to layer foundation where more coverage is needed and to aid application in tight spots like around the nose and eyes. This is probably the brush that I reach for the least as I find it a bit too small and dense, but it does have its uses.
Fine Liner Brush- Its a rare occasion that I crack out my gel liner but this long thin brush makes it easy to get a sharp line and flick, even for those of us that are a bit clumsy with our fingers. Used with powder eyeshadow this brush creates a light thin line, and I find it really useful when I'm applying minimal make up in a rush in the morning as I can sweep along the lashline without worrying about any jolts in the line that I can sometimes get with hurried use of an angled brush.

This set combines the highlights of the whole of the Real Techniques collection, and would make the perfect Christmas present for any makeup fan. Even if you already own some of these brushes it's always useful to have another clean one at hand, and the Essential Crease Brush makes it a perfect addition to any collection.

The Real Techniques Sam's Picks set is available for £29.99 online from Precious About Makeup and Ula La Beauty.




Wednesday

Capture the Light with Vita Liberata Translucent Rose Skinfinish

I love the look of a bright glossy leg; I think it looks healthy, glamorous, and also draws the eye. A highlight at the front of the leg can also make it longer and slimmer, as any bits that aren't quite as toned as you'd like seem to almost disappear into the shadows. I might already have a touch of the Winter Blues, but I'm always looking for the perfect product to achieve a glow all year round, so was really intrigued to see these Skin Perfecting Illuminisors from Vita Liberata. These are a purpose-made alternative to diluted shimmery moisturisers or body oils that can make your skin feel greasy and leave you stuck to your seat.

The Capture The Light collection features a group of products in translucent and opaque finishes that act as skin finishers to illuminate the body with iridescence. Available in shades from Translucent Rose through to Opaque Latte, there's a colour to suit every skin tone, and Translucent Rose* is the perfect highlight for my fair skin. The Skin Finish contains SPF25 and has 80% organic ingredients, and with its water based mousse-cream texture it doesn't feel oily on the skin. Applied sparingly, the weightless pale cream needs to be well blended into the skin with the fingers, and dries to a finish that is slightly shimmery but very iridescent.
This cream is perfect to apply to arms, legs and d├ęcolletage, and the sturdy plastic bottle makes it easy to pump the product out even when my hands are covered in cream. Applied in a blended line to the front of my calfs and thighs, and to the tops of my arms, I'm left with a glowing illuminated finish to the skin that instantly makes me look more healthy and put together. As this product provides a higher level of illumination than the types can be used on the body but designed for the face, it's perfect for nights out and events where you want to show a bit of skin, and really want to show it off.

I would suggest swatching these before buying if you can as, although the translucent Rose and Gold shades don't provide any coverage, the opaque shades are more of a bronzing product on lighter skin tones and can appear quite dark if you don't already have a tan. The pump bottles contain 30ml, the size of a bottle of foundation, but because only a small amount is needed (and it's more of a special occasion product than everyday) the bottle will last you a long time, and you'll still be reaching for it frequently come the sunshine of next spring!
Vita Liberata is the brand behind one of my favourite self tans- Extra Rich Silken Chocolate, and the Capture the Light range is definitely another winner. The Vita Liberata Capture the Light Illuminating Skinfinishes are available for £29.95 from Debenhams and Cult Beauty.


Sunday

Allura Shower Comb


This is a product and idea I hadn't come across before, and at first thought it was a bit strange- a big comedy sized comb that you use on your hair in the shower. But as I thought about the amount of time I spend running my fingers through my tangled lathered up hair lengths, it seemed like an obvious solution to the problem of hair that knots when it's wet, and I wondered why I hadn't seen one before.

I know that it isn't good for your hair to brush it when wet, the hair soaks up water which makes it stretch when brushed and can easily snap, but if I don't at least run my fingers through it while shampooing then it will be very difficult to brush when damp, and almost impossible when dry! My hair has always been easily knotted, when I was a kid I was often sporting the birds nest look, and it doesn't help that I wear my hair long and down as it just seems to tangle so easily.

This comb came in a packet along with a facial pad, flannel on one side and a kind of large mesh on the other, which I've put aside as I felt it was a bit too fancy (and rough on the skin) for my face. The only fancy thing about the design of the novelty sized comb is the hooked end, that means it can be hung on a shower rack or bath handle, which is simple but actually really convenient. The Allura Shower Comb is two to three times the size of a normal comb, with thick widely spaced teeth that make working through the hair easy and pretty pain free. Combing from the bottom upwards is the way I like to detangle, and this comb pulls out much less hair than I do with my fingers (hair which would probably be naturally shed, but causes problems when the bulk of the days' shedding attacks my plughole at once).

I really wish I could remember which shop I found this comb in, googling hasn't given me much information except that Allura has a very small reasonably priced Amazon shop. If you're looking to buy a shower comb there are quite a few options available, from a Babyliss Pink Shower Comb (£3.95) to a Paris Presents Shower Comb 4 Pack (£7.59, Paris Presents is the company behind Real Techniques), and it seems the concept I'd never considered is actually quite widespread!

This comb has made detangling my hair so much quicker in the shower, and I can run a paddle brush through it with no problems once it's towel dried, so would really recommend something similar if you have long easily knotted hair. 


Friday

Zoeva Graphic Eyes+ Eyeliner - Blue Lotus

Zoeva Graphic Eyes+ Eyeliner in Blue LotusZoeva Graphic Eyes+ Eyeliner in Blue LotusZoeva Graphic Eyes+ Eyeliner in Blue Lotus SwatchThe Zoeva Graphic Eyes+ pencils are available in 10 shades- from 'Black to Earth' to 'Close to Heaven', there's a range of neutral and blue tones to suit all tastes. With an ultra smooth formula, these pencils apply like a gel eyeliner with a precise dark line that doesn't tug or pull at all at the delicate eye area. Their pigmentation makes them perfect for the waterline inside the eye, and because they're waterproof they have incredible staying power without flaking or moving at all. I tend to shy away from dark shades on my waterline as the colour always collects unattractively in the inner corners of my eyes, but I've had this Zoeva pencil on my upper and lower waterlines for over 8 hours with no smudging and no migration to the inner corner at all.

These pencils are multiuse- as they set quickly they can't crease or be smudged after they've dried down, so are great for applying roughly to the lid and blending out to create a strong base for a dark dramatic. As well as directly from the pencil, the liners can be applied using a pencil brush for a soft smudged line, or an angled brush for a precise line and flick. Because they set within a minute or two, its easier to run the brush over the top of the pencil, than apply to the back of the hand then the brush, as otherwise you'll be left with patches of dried and unusable liner before you can get it to your eyes.

The Zoeva pencil in Blue Lotus*, described as a matte rich royal blue, makes a perfect change to my usual black, grey and coppery brown. I used to wear bright blue eyeliner all the time instead of black when I was at school, but this colour is much more sophisticated and wearable as a dramatic dark line.
Because it's waterproof and applies in a densely pigmented line, this liner is stubborn and takes a bit of work to remove. I've found the easiest and quickest way to make sure everything is gone from edge of the eyes is to dip an eyeshadow brush in an oil based or bi-phase makeup remover, blend over the line until the colour is broken down, then sweep off with a cotton pad. This method gets everything from between the lashes as well, and the eyeliner won't stain your white brushes as long as they're given a good wash.

The Zoeva Graphic Eyes+ pencils are well worth their 5.20 (about £4.50) and I have my eyes on Rock n Roll Bride, a brown with pink and red glitter, as the next to add to my eyeliner collection. The pencils are currently available directly from Zoeva, but will be launching onto Professional Online Makeup at Christmas.



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