Wednesday, 18 February 2015

REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial: It's no flash in a pan...

REN. Launched 15 years ago, this Swedish based brand has found its way onto my list of favourite things to use on my face. And this is their mostly new-ish product. REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial is pretty special, because it works. Not in 8 weeks, not in 2 weeks, immediately. It works Immediately, and I am liking what it is doing for me.

Flash Facial 1 Minute Rinse does everything it says on the box. Something very few other products can do. The active ingredients go to work immediately for instant visible skin improvement. And for me the result doesn't fade away over the course of the day, my skin looks just as good the following day: my moisturiser and serum go on beautifully and sink in quickly.

REN uses only 100% plant and mineral derived actives so you can be sure that the ingredients are pure and highly active. Their products are also free from mineral oil, parabens, PEGS and synthetic fragrances. And while Flash Facial isn't suited to sensitive skins, most of their other products are.

One of the main ingredients is Vitamin C. This works to instantly brighten the skin and stimulate circulation, which is what you want. The other ingredients all work together to gently, but thoroughly exfoliate the surface of the skin. And the way that REN want you to use it ensures that you get a great result from the first use. These ingredients work so, so well together, REN put together a real winner with Flash Facial.

Its a really odd product straight out of the tube. I advise giving the tube a good shake to mix the ingredients before you use it as they do tend to separate. Its a pale green tinted gel that looks almost gritty and smells divinely of oranges, compliments of the vitamin C. 
To use this I cleanse my face and then squeeze the excess water out of my face cloth and wipe 95% of the water off my skin, too much water when you start "activates" the vitamin C and you don't want that to happen until you have exfoliated. Then I massage about an almond sized blob of the gel into my skin. It goes on super smooth and cool, almost watery. But as you massage the gel seems to grip dead skin cells and the gel gets weirdly gritty and you can feel a decent bit of exfoliation happening. I concentrate on my wrinkles, and on my congested areas and I feel like I am getting a serious scrub out of this gel.

After about a minute I run my fingers under water and work it into the gel and the grittiness immediately disappears to leave a super smooth gel and you get a wiff of copper. You are instructed to leave this to work for a minute and then "rinse thoroughly". I use my damp face cloth to take most of it off and then I like to use running water and splash-wipe this off. I know lots of folks don't like to splash water, but I like to do it this way. I then follow with my serum of choice and moisturiser. My skin looks pink and fresh and clean and radiant. Radiance levels are at Fresh-From-The-Salon-And-An-Expensive-Facial level. It is amazing.

The only thing that I don't like about Flash Facial is the fact that it doesn't have a flip-top. I love me a flippy-top so I do. I do find the lid a bit awkward to screw back on properly once you have dispensed product onto your fingers, and with Vitamin C being one of those ingredients that degrade in open air you don't want to be faffing with a lid that doesn't close properly.

So REN if you are reading: FLIPPY TOPS PLEASE! I'm tired of chasing the lid around the bathroom floor when I drop it.

Other than this I will not ever be without this again. My pigmentation is looking freaking amazing, especially on my forehead. My fine lines are much finer, and my skin texture looks great. Apart from the epic hormonal break-outs on my jaw. Yes I'm still struggling to get those under control. 

REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial is pricey coming in at €37.95 for a 75ml tube. But there are at least 15 uses in the tube (if you use 5ml per treatment) and considering that a mini facial costs €25, this works out pretty well and you can do it every 3 days!

My tube was a gift from the wonderful folks at Cloud10 Beauty, but I can promise you now, I will never, ever, be without this. It is love. It was love within a minute.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Gym Bag Heroes Baby!!

My morning routine in the house is pretty basic, as I generally rush to get the kidlets to school and then most mornings I hit up the gym straight after drop off. I don't go with anything heavy or intensive as I know I am going to sweat/rub it off anyways. And after the gym I don't want to faff, I just want to get done so I can get home and get started on the housework.

I love this toiletry bag. It has four see-through plastic pockets with zips making it easy to see whats in them and it has a metal hook so that you can hang it over the door of the shower: No more juggling bottles! Also it has my name on it.

So here's what I put in those pockets:

Body: Soap & Glory Sugar Crush body wash. Smells yummy, washes like a dream and doesn't dry out my skin. And it smells yummy.
Face: Shiseido Ibuki Cream Cleanser (mini size). I only need a half pea- sized blob on my wet fingers to clean my face and neck. It doesn't foam, but the addition of water seems to make this cleanser double, even triple, in amount, without becoming watery. It cleans my face really well, but I do tend to need to moisturise Immediately after.

Legs, bum & waist: I love Mango & Papaya Body Butter. Part of a gift set, this is small and very rich. Perfect to lock in moisture straight after a shower, I tend use my hands to sluice off the majority of the water and then go in with a small a blob of this. It doesn't sink in very quickly, but my skin feels great after I dab off any excess moisture with my towel. It smells nice, but this is more for function than pleasure.
Chest, bewbs, arms: Bath & BodyWorks Twisted Peppermint body lotion. A gift from my Almost Niece in America. Strangely this compliments Sugar Crush quite well, I smell like sweets after I use this, which is why it only gets used on my upper body. So Yummy! It lasts just about all day but its gentle and just there, especially when your hands or arms come close to your face. Its my son's favourite smell on me because "You smell like sweeties Mommy".

I am also old. I have a shower cap that I wear in the gym showers. I don't wash my hair in the gym. It takes too long: the water pressure isn't enough to properly rinse my hair and the shower only runs for 30 seconds at a time and you have to keep bumping the button, so it takes me ages to get the job done. And then I have to try get it dry... I don't have time for that nonsense. No Sir. I use my shower cap and wash my hair at home.

Toner: Pixi Glow Tonic, in the Sisheido bottle. Its gentle, replaces moisture, while tackling my pigmentation and "blemishes".
Eyes: Vichy Idealia Eyes. A lovely moisturiser for my eye area, but can't say I've noticed a massive improvement. But it moisturises nicely.
Serum: La Roche Posay Effaklar Duo +. I'm getting to the end of this and I really like it. This is helping my skin to heal without scarring, but I do find it a bit drying, hence the reason I use it as a serum instead of a moisturiser.
Cream: Avon Anew Flawless Bright Day Cream trial size. This was a gift from my bestie in SA. Its a lovely cream that sinks in quickly, has the added benefit of a decent SPF25 and it doesn't leave me feeling greasy. I haven't noticed a brightening effect yet, but I've only been using it for about a month and a half. Its a pity we can't get Avon easily in The Republic any more...

Foundation: YoungBlood Liquid Mineral Foundation. Already professed my undying love for it here.
Concealer: NYX HD Concealer wand. This does a pretty awesome job of covering red spots, my hyper-pigmentation, and any under-eye blueness that may show. It needs a full post... but the internet is full of them.
Blush: essence Silky Touch Blush Autumn Peach. My Favourite blusher at the moment. Silky, great colour, great staying power and I can apply it with my fingers or a brush. Its also cheap and I won't be crying if it breaks.
Eyeliner: YoungBlood Mineral Eyeliner in Blackest Black. Goes on easily, smudges with little effort and sets within a few minutes to stick around the whole day. Blogged my love for it here
LipLiner: YoungBlood Mineral Lip Liner in Malt. Goes on like a dream and sets to a proper matte finish with great staying power (at least 4 hours of talking/shouting/kissing booboos/eating/4 cups of coffee). It can feel a bit dry on the lips though, so it is followed by a slick of EOS lip balm (not pictured).
Mascara: essence Lash Princess Mascara in Black. Love Love LOVE this stuff. €4.09 in my local pharmacy and it gives fan-fricken-tastic lashes in one coat. 2 coats for extra drama. No flaking, or crunchy lashes here, and it removes easily. The packaging is pretty, and the pink decor on the lid is rubbery giving you great control of the brush. I have one on my dressing table and one in my gym bag. I hope to goodness they don't discontinue this because it is my perfect mascara!

And that is my Gym wash bag. It seems long winded, but it takes me 10-15 minutes to get through everything and get out of the gym and into the car. I am not into long drawn-out showers in the gym, I won't shave in those showers (I have seen ladies applying hair removal cream and standing around waiting... wtf???) and I always ALWAYS wear my flip-flops, if they are not in my bag, I will shower at home instead.

Am I missing a trick? Is there a better product to use, a nicer bag, dry shampoo recs? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Vichy Normaderm 3 in 1 Cleanser+Scrub+Mask

In the post about my evening routine for January 2015 I told you that I was using Vichy Normaderm 3 in 1 Cleanser + Scrub + Mask most evenings to help absorb excess oil and to try to heal spots and stop new ones from forming. So far so good. I am still getting spots around my chin, but they aren't popping up in clusters anymore (Yay!) and once they make a head they heal fairly quickly.

But I also said that I didn't really rate it as a scrub and that it wasn't great at removing make-up. I may have sold it a little short. It is actually pretty cool and has many good things going for it.

First up: it has a flippy top. I love a flippy top. It means that I don't have to faff with a screw-top lid that doesn't screw on properly and goes careening off into the toilet or into the dustbin while I am trying to keep my hands clean so I can put a germ-busting mask on my face. I appreciate that its not difficult to open either, as some flip-tops can be.

I also like that the actual product is liquid enough so it isn't difficult to get out of the tube. As long as the tube is kept standing on its lid, you will always get product out on the first squeeze without having to flick/shake the bottle. And about an almond sized blob is enough to cover my face and down past my chin, hitting all of my trouble spots.

It contains both Glycolic and Salicylic acid, which are great ingredients to exfoliate the skin (bring blemishes to the surface quicker) and to combat the bacteria that causes the mini-infections that are whiteheads and cycts.

I like that this creamy clay spreads easily, dries fairly quickly and smells deliciously clean. It absorbs extra oil like a boss as it dries due to the high concentration of Kaolin clay. As a mask this great value tube rocks as its just €13.50 for 125mls, it has lasted me just over 5 months and I am pretty sure I have about 4 or 5 uses left in the tube.

The blue scrubby bits (polyethelene on the ingredients list) are evenly distributed thoughout the mask and there are loads of them but I am not fond of the blue scrubby bits for one reason, and one reason only. I have an issue with synthesized scrubby bits. They are bad for the environment. If they are small enough, they don't get caught by the water treatment plants and end up making their way into rivers/ streams and eventually the sea.

I honestly think that the amount of Kaolin clay in this cleanser would give a brilliantly gentle exfoliation on its own, gentle enough to use every day, but tough enough to get rid of flakes and rough spots. I have another cleanser/mask that I am going to review in the week and it contains just about the exact same ingredients as this Vichy one minus the scrubby bits and it feels nicer on my skin, because those blue scrubby bits are quite scratchy which sensitive skin types will NOT like. This is the Only thing I would change about the Vichy Normaderm 3 in 1 Cleanser +Scrub +Mask.

I do like this, and I will get another one tube when this is done but not to use as a scrub, I don't think it needs the Blue scrubby bits. All in all I get on quite well with the Normaderm Range, having used the Hydrating cream and the Anti-wrinkle cream and the Spot Treatment in the Normaderm range.

The next thing I am going to try is the Vichy Normaderm Night Detox: I've only heard good things about it.

**PR sample gratefully received, Opinions my own...

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hair stuff: Tigi Bed Head Blow-Out

I have been really lazy with my hair just lately. I generally wash it twice a week, rough dry it with a towel and twist it up into a bun and clip it up out of my way. But I am trying to be better about leaving it down. I Have a load of hair, it is mostly healthy, with a few kinks but when styled properly it looks pretty gorgeous and it is my crowning glory. The important words in the previous sentence are Styled and Properly. Which is where Tigi Bed Head Superstar Blow-Out Shine Cream comes in.

This was recommended to me by the TIGI team when they visited Ireland at the Cloud 10 Beauty  Behind the Scenes event. Packaging looks a bit suspect, but its meant to be fun and I like that its a bit naughty-looking on my dresser. I bought mine from Cloud10Beauty and the 100ml tube cost me €17.95 (I bought a few other bits too as delivery is free if you spend €20 and you get samples) as always delivery was super fast.

Superstar is a "thermal blow dry lotion which takes volume to new heights.  It creates thick, massive hair, protects against styling damage and leaves hair feeling silky and smooth.  Suitable for all hair length and textures it has a beautiful citrus berry fragrance to leave your tresses not only looking good but smelling good too".
I already have thick hair, it really doesn't need to be made bigger, SO I was a little worried, but didn't actually need to be. All it did was sleek-ify my hair, even the frizzy flyaways. And that was without heat.

When I applied heat (used a hair-dryer or my new straighteners) I get drying & styling my hair in half the time, and the sleek results last for the duration of the time between washes (3 - 4 days) without needing to re-straighten my hair. Blow-Out smells divine: like fruity sweets and it makes my hair smell delicious. The cream also contains little golden flecks to enhance shine and catch the light, I am not sure that it had made a big difference to my hair because as long as it is clean it's pretty shiny. But it looks lovely as I spread it between my palms.

So now I wash my hair, rough dry it with a towel, distribute 1 and a half to 2 pumps between my palms and then work it through the lengths of my hair, brush it through and clip it up. Even without heat it does work to keep fly-aways smooth and grounded, as it were. When I let my hair down I have soft "curls" that still look sleek and tidy.

For me its perfect partner is my neeeuuuw Trevor Sorbie Paddle Brush. It is a Giant of a brush, so it is, but it makes short work of any knots or tangles. Despite its size, it is quite light weight and makes blow-drying quite easy as I can do larger sections with this paddle brush than I could with a roundy brush. And the bristles are just bendy enough to give "me wee heed" and lovely massage every morning.

Because its so big, I can't lose it. It won't fall down behind the dresser, or the radiator. And its too big to hide (my daughter is a devil for stealing my brushes). I am really loving it.

I got my brush from and I paid €8.50 for it over Christmas when they had their specials running. I do like a little browse on the site as it has ALL the brands that my local store doesn't have on shelf. And I can get my order delivered either to the store or my door if I like. Which is handy, since my closest Smashbox counter is in Dublin.

Monday, 2 February 2015

January 2015 Favourites: YoungBlood Mineral Makeup

Generally, I quite like January. Yes its a long-ass month, and yes everyone is broke, but its also a time of fresh starts and gives everyone a chance to start over. But this year has been a bit of a crappy start, mainly because my skin has been freaking out and its been getting me down. I suspect my hormones are to blame though as I am not in the best mindset at the moment either (which leads me to thinking its hormonal). But that is for another day.

I have been trying to be really good to my skin. I am not wearing as much makeup as I might normally, and I am not wearing it as often as I normally would, mainly because I would just end up plastering it on and I have not mastered that look. So I have been keeping it light and trying to use things that would do my skin a bit of good while covering up the worst if it. YoungBlood fits this category perfectly.

I was faffing with my camera settings in this image and the top image so I'm sorry they are grainy

Pauline Youngblood created YoungBlood Mineral Cosmetics to enable clients to cover raw, inflamed or discolored skin, while allowing it to breathe and heal. And I am quite happy to say that it is doing just that.

I have already mentioned that Youngblood Liquid Mineral Foundation (€35) is one of my favourite foundations and things haven't changed. Pebble is perfect for my winter skin. It is pale enough that it takes very little blending and it melts into my skin to cover any blemishes and imperfections. It is hydrating enough to add a bit of moisture back into wind-parched skin, and its yellow undertones cover the redness around the spots and around my nose really well. Coverage is fantastically build-able: you can choose how high you need to go and for me I apply it with a skunk/stipple/duo-fibre brush. It is quite liquid: one pump is enough for sheer coverage, add a 2nd pump for fuller coverage. It settles into the skin beautifully and it feels super comfortable all day. Deffo my favourite higher-end foundation.

To combat the oiliness I am powdering my t-zone. Before I put on my foundation. Yes. Before. I use my Blank Canvas F14 Round Top Cheek Brush (€13.99) to push YoungBlood Mineral Rice Setting Powder (light €35.00) into my skin and let it sit for a minute or so before I apply my foundation over the top. This works to prevent the oil-slick that is my t-zone from  ruining my makeup. If it is a particularly bad skin day  or if I am going somewhere important I use it to set my foundation as well and make sure its not going anywhere.

I use a clean finger and pat a little of the Youngblood Pressed Individual Mineral Eyeshadow in Halo (€18.50) onto my eyelid and blend it into my socket. It is a nudey-pinky shimmer that opens my tired eyes and make me look a little more alert.

Youngblood Eyeliner Pencil in Blackest Black (€12.00) gets smudged right into my lash line to fake thick lush lashes (and lashings of my new favourite non-youngblood mascara - post coming). This pencil is soft so it doesn't drag at my eyelids, it smudges quite easily immediately. But give it a few minutes to set and its not budging until you use an oil based cleanser. I also really like that this sharpens easily. Some pencils can be incredibly difficult to sharpen: the wood splinters, when you are done you cant get it out of the sharpener and then the actual product is so soft it breaks inside the sharpener. Not with these.

Marsala is the Pantone Colour of 2015. And for me, YoungBlood Lip Pencil (€13.00) in Malt is the embodiment of Marsala. It also helps that it is a lovely browny nude on my lips. I love it so much that I use this to line and fill in my lips, pop a slick of lipbalm over it and thats me done.

1 Blackest Mineral Black Eyeliner
2 Malt Mineral Lip Liner
3 Pebble Liquid Mineral Foundation
4 Light Mineral Rice Setting Powder
5 Halo Mineral Eyeshadow single 

All in all it takes me about 10 minutes to do this in the mornings and afterwards I feel like I at least look vaguely human, even if I may not actually feeling that way.

I use this look most days because its easy (and I am lazy) and I feel like I am doing my skin some good. Kind of. In my head. And my head is important.

All of these Youngblood products are available from the YoundBlood Direct Irl website, or some pharmacies (like my local one in Blackrock: MacQuillans - YAY).

Post contains some PR samples. Opinions are my own though.

Friday, 23 January 2015

essence: hits & misses

Budget beauty brand Essence (or essence to be absolutely correct) send me a few bits to play with from their Limited Edition range called Come To Town and some of the newest additions to the rest of their range. Come To Town was for christmas... but it is still on the essence stand in my local... sigh.

The nail varnishes are as always great quality for very little spends (€1.79 - €1.99) with shades, finishes and textures to suit all tastes. Colour intensity is great and you generally get full coverage with 2 thin coats which dry quicker than you'd think from a budget brand. The nude colours may need an extra coat just to make it fully opaque.

essence Come To Town quattro eyeshadow 01 MAKE A WISH is a lovely little quad for €3.49, metallic, shimmer colours that are soft and buttery to touch with excellent pigmentation. The swatches you see on my fingers are a double swipe across the pans, no swirling or hard scrubbing, just two softish swipes. Lovely. The Silver and Gold are the stand out colours here and the darkest green would look lovely as an eyeliner. I don't have the right colour eyes or skintone for the lightest green though...

essence Metal Glam Eyeshadow singles are lovely in the pan and feel buttery soft, but it is a pain to get it onto the brush and near impossible to get it to show up like it does in the pan. I'd skip these unless you are willing to wet these to get a good intensity.   The eye-shadows that are not really floating my boat though are the 3D Shadow Duos. Pretty to look at and beautifully presented in the pan, these are hard. H.A.R.D. I really struggled to get the above swatch. I have 2 other colours and they are the same. Its a pity because these are so pretty... but in the pan only.

essence Long Lasting Lipsticks (€ XX) come in a mix of matte and satin shades with great pigmentation and a lovely feeling formula. 14 Adorable Matte! is a classic Red with a leaning to the pink side. Pretty, bright and super comfortable on the lip, the formula doesn't dry my already tender lips out and it doesn't sit in flaky patches. Its not completely Matte, but this means that it wears evenly and sticks around for a good 3 hours. The lid clicks closed with a solid CLICK so its safe enough to chuck in the pocket in my bag. I like Adorable Matte!

The "matching" Lipliner (14 Femme Fatale) is a proper tomato red. But it is more red than Adorable Matte! Lipstick and not a perfect perfect match. But its soft, sharpens easily and gives a proper matte finish if you choose to fill in your lips with this, but it wears off quickly in the center of your lips, so beware. It does make a great base for lipstick and its cheap as chips.

A winner and new to the range are the Liquid Ink Eyeliners. One shade: Black. Two finishes: Matte and High Shine. Price: €2.89 SCORE!

A proper brush with bristles means that essence listened to their customers and went back to the brush as opposed to the sponge thing that they used to have. Yay!

Liquid Ink High Shine eyeliner is nice. It is easy to work with, and the finish is high shine but ti takes a wee while to dry, so try not to blink too vigorously after applying otherwise you will end up with black lines on your eyelid in places you don;t want black lines. Perfect for wet look liner though as the finish stays shiny after its dried. Only thing is it isn't waterproof. This will run and the threat of tears. And its not for a rainy day in Ireland. But it does wash off easily.

Liquid Ink Matte Eyeliner is the Winner though, it dries to its matte effect fairly quickly, and it stays matte. Even after an eye-watering-inducing onion chopping session, this was un-smudged, un-budged and still matte. I was very impressed. However, this means its a pain in the hoop to remove. You WILL need to use an oil (I like coconut oil, I always have it in the house) and you WILL need to take your time getting it off.

To show how waterproof the Matte Liner is I ran it under a tap of warm water and gave it a rub with my fingers and it didn't budge. I had to go get a cloth (my kitchen microfibre one was handy) and even after a half hearted scrub (middle pic) it was still there... after a proper scrubity scrub, and hot water you can see its STILL there in the last pic. I needed soap on the cloth to get rid of it completely. But I used coconut oil and a warm wet facecloth to get it off my eyes and it worked fine, but I did need to massage it in well to get the liner to break down.

My MOST favourite is the essence silky touch blush in 08 Autumn Peach. Silky is the exact word to use for this blush as it is soft and silky when you run your fingers in the pan. This warm peachy colour is a perfect match for me. Its not too pink and its not too orange, it just gives a lovely colour to my cheeks. You do need a soft touch with this as it it quite pigmented and a brush picks up a hell of a lot of the colour. I prefer to use clean fingers with this and blend it into my cheeks gently. There is a very very slight shimmer which catches the light (the very little winter light) quite nicely and gives a lovely glow to my skin. I do like this and I will go out and get a spare.

essence has a good few gems lurking on the stand if you have one close, and even if the product doesn't suit you it didn't cost a fortune and if you lose it you know its not going to break the bank if you want to replace it. And they are well worth checking out as they have a good few dupes for more expensive brands...

**Samples gratefully received, opinions my own

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Night Time Skin Routine: January 2015

Eh... its almost the end of January? Already?!? Bloody hell. Time is flying for me at the moment, the kids are busy at school and after school, the hubby is busy at work and I am trying to spend my mornings productively (cleaning, tidying, throwing out, making stuff, writing) because afternoons and evenings are filled with the kids activities. Moms Taxi is alive and well and parked in my driveway...

But I am making time in the evenings to treat my skin properly. I only need about 10 minutes, but I take the time, every evening to do the whole routine. Because 5 months ago my skin had a shit-fit. I am still not sure what caused the break-outs, I am careful with what I use on my face, so I am sure it wasn't a reaction to dodgy ingredients... I am putting it down to hormones (please let it not be "The Change" I'm only 35 for pete's sake), its the only thing that makes sense, especially since the breakouts are concentrated around my jaw, cheeks and chin. Sore, angry cysts started, and clusters of blocked pores that just got nasty. My T-Zone is producing oil like its being paid by a desert sheikh. I kid you not.
But after 5 months of struggling, I think I am finally seeing progress and a possible light at the end of the tunnel. This is what I am using:

I got this little tube of Balance Me Cleanse And Smooth Face Balm as a freebie in a magazine last year and I've been using it every evening since Mid November when I dug it out of my stash in desperation.

Give the tube a squeeze and you get a golden worm of balm that melts on contact with your skin and spreads easily. There are "Gritty" bits in it from the oat powder that are more soft than gritty, these provide the polishing effect. This lifts off all the days dirt and is a lovely way to start the wind down process of the day.

It smells delish and the best bit is it rinses off easily with warm water and a facecloth. Skin feels soft and smooth and clean without feeling squeaky. This says its for normal/dry/sensitive skins, but its not doing my combo-oily skin any harm especially since I make sure to rinse it off properly (a la Hirons). I am impressed by how long this has lasted me, especially since I've been using it every day for 2 months, and its just a trial size. I will deffo be springing for a bigger tube (£20 for 125mls) when this one starts running low.

TIME TAKEN: 3 Minutes

Next up is the Vichy Normaderm 3-in-1 Cleanser/scrub/mask. I'll be honest and say I don't like this as a scrub. As a cleanser its ok, its not going to remove makeup, but it does a good job at absorbing excess oil. It is great as a mask and its not that spendy at €13.50 for a 125ml squeezy tube. Its a light green creamy clay-based mask with blue scrubby bits that when spread on in a thin layer dries quickly (within 5 - 7 minutes).

I put a skinny layer of this on and let it do its thing for 2 - 3 minutes while I am brushing my teeth. The clay absorbs the excess oil and the salicyclic acid gets to work on the spots. Warm wet facecloth to remove being as gentle as I can I don't want to scrub at my skin. I am using this most nights, but never more than 3 nights in a row. 

TIME TAKEN: 2:30 - 3 Minutes

I bought myself a bottle of Alpha H Liquid Gold at the beginning of January out of desperation. For €37.50, from Cloud10 Beauty, I had high hopes. And after 3 weeks of using it every 2nd night, I think this stuff is Liquid Gold. Bah dum tish. 

Glycolic acid works to dissolve the bonds holding dead skin cells on the skins surface to help newer skin to the surface quicker. A little of this on a cotton pad and smoothed over my skin (it stings like acid on any open spots) leaves my skin a little tingly for a few seconds but once its dries: nothing. Nothing except smooth skin ready to accept/drink/devour serum and moisturiser.

My skin has taken to this quite well, I expected sensitivity and more breakouts but that has not been the case and I have been tempted to use this every night as opposed to every 2nd night, but in the interest of making it last (it is quite spendy for my budget) and not having a reaction to it, I am following the directions and using it every 2nd night.
If I have a particularly nasty and sore spot/cyst I dab a bit on a cotton bud and dab it on the spot directly every night as a spot treatment.

So far Liquid Gold is working quite well for me and I have started saving for my next bottle. I have a feeling I am going to need this in my life from now on.

TIME TAKEN: 1.30 Minutes

After allowing the Liquid Gold to work for 2 minutes I go in with my serum and eye cream. Serum of choice at the moment is La Roche Posay Redermic [R]. I stopped using this as I thought I was sensitive to the ingredients and that it was making my skin worse. But I was wrong and added it back into my routine after reading THIS post. So using Redermic [R] in addition to the Liquid Gold has proved to be the magic formula. My skin is much brighter and my pigmentation is loads better. I think that this combination is what is actually helping to clear the cysts and clusterfucks spots.

TIME TAKEN: 1.30 Minutes

Depending on how my skin is feeling and what the weather has been like, I use one of two moisturisers: Either the Kerstin Florian Correcting Rescue Créme or The Body Shop Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet. I use the Rescue Créme when my skin is feeling really dry and tight and windburnt or ravaged by central heating. But when I use this I find that I wake in the mornings with super oily skin: I need to wash my face immediately, so I am tending not to use this too often.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet (€15.00 ) is a strange one. It has a funny texture, sort of gritty but not, pillowy and soft and gel-like. But I was happy to hand over my money for this because I have a secret love affair with their Body Sorbets.

Amazingly cooling, which is kind of what I am after some nights: deep hydration without the oiliness. Its light and absorbs easily. The little bits dissolve on your skin like little miniscule waterbombs and my skin isn't greasy the next morning.  I like it. I really do.

TIME TAKEN: 1 Minute

This 10 minutes every night is finally starting to make a difference. I do this before I settle down in front of the TV, so that my skin can benefit from the products for those few extra hours.

So far my skin is playing ball. I have had a few new cysts (deep, red carbuncles that refuse to make a head they just sit there all sore and red and hot) and the spots that have come through are coming to a head (gross I know, sorry) and healing much quicker than they were. 

I am not wearing as much makeup, because I am worried about it upsetting my skin. If I do need to wear makeup I take it off as soon as I get home. I am also taking a vitamin supplement, eating more greens (specifically raw green coloured veg which I blend into a smoothie most mornings) and taking fish oil capsules and drinking plain old water (3l a day) to help my skin from the inside. Its all starting to kick in (its only taken 3 long bloody months) and I am seeing an improvement. I am just hoping I can get my clear skin back before May this year as I have a wedding to go to and I am sick of hiding when cameras come out.

Are you using any of these products? Do you have any recommendations? Leave them in the comments below or catch me on twitter!

 **Post contains samples gratefully received for review& products bought with my own money. Opinions my own

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Catrice ViennArt : My Picks

I am loving what Catrice is doing just lately, and for a budget brand their quality is pretty amazing for the small price. The ViennArt Collection has been out of a while now, and the new collection is due out, but since I live "in the sticks", the ViennArt collection is still on the stands in my village. This is a gilded collection that pays tribute to Art Noveaux.

First up is the handy little mirror (€3.99). While it looks like it is going to be quite a heavy piece of kit to lug around, its actually not. The packaging feels a bit plastic-y but its not flimsy. Its just light-weight. It opens easily, and feels comfy in your hand and it is just the right size for touch ups. The mirror has two parts, one ordinary mirror and a magnifying mirror.

This very gorgeous LE (Limited Edition) Baked Eyeshadow called C02 Stunning Stucco has a silvery lace overlay that doesn't actually affect the eyeshadow underneath. It dissipates very quickly actually to leave a highly pigmented nudey-pinky-champagne-coloured shimmer behind that looks lovely over the entire eyelid, either with a smoked out liner or a super sharp cat eye style liner. I have been wearing this quite a bit lately, its so easy to work with and wear and the colour really opens up my eyes. This baked shadow also comes in C01 Pearly Plastering and C03 Lovely Lace.

There are 2 real stand outs in the ViennArt collection for me though and the nail polishes are one. Metallic foils and frosts dominate here. C01 Pearlescent Purpose and C03 LilART Lily where my colours for Christmas 2014. These are €2.99 each and the bottles have the pretty floral detail on them.
LilArt Lilly is a lavender coloured foil that is opaque in 2 coats. More silvery with a lilac/lavender undertone it looks quite elegant on.
Pearlescent Purpose is a bit like Marmite, you will either like it or not. If you put in the time, and enough thin coats you will get this fully opaque, I got bored after 4 thin coats and you can still see my nail line. But 2 coats gives a transparent pale shimmer that is going to look ACE against a tan this summer!
Longevity with both of these is pretty good, but you will get tip wear within the first day no matter what you do. its not so noticeable with the lighter colours though, so you will get away with this for at least a few days.

But my favourite of the bunch is the Catrice ViennArt Shimmer Lip Colour in C03 Kilmt's Ardent Kiss (€4.49). The fact that I am a bit of a Klimt fan, is neither here nor there, but ohmigoshiflippinglovethis!! Kilmt's Ardent Kiss is a deep bordeaux red shot through with a fine gold shimmer, but this shimmer doesn't show on your actual lips, instead you get a lovely deep red that looks amazing on pale skins in this cold weather. It feels quite balmy on my lips too, but be sure to prep lips before hand because as this wears off it will sit in any dry areas, but it won't dry your lips out any further.

Klimt's Ardent Kiss isn't an opaque formula. So it is perfect to get a lovely sheer wash of colour if you want to pat it on with a finger. It applies just fine straight from the bullet though and this is how I like to use it. Another plus is the very lux looking packaging that CLICKS closed properly!

I had a look at the other 2 colours C01 Nude Nouveau (nude) and C02 Klimt‘s Gentle Kiss (soft apricot) but they looked a bit wishy-washy when I swatched the testers.

Did you pick up anything from the collection, or is it already gone from your local Catrice Stand?

**Samples gratefully received for review, opinions my own.

Monday, 12 January 2015

LUSH FUN: Do you wanna build ....

I do love a bit of Lush. And I am not alone in my love... both my son and my daughter share this fondness for the brand. My kids also love playing with their bathbombs (I have to break them in half and give each a half before they get in so that they can fizz them in their hands and various containers) and so it was a natural progression to get them a bit of FUN: the bath equivalent of PlayDoh.

As far as I know, all Lush products are vegan, and just lately Lush are making a move toward Self-Preserving products, negating the need for preservatives, so do have a look at your favourite Lush goody and see if they haven't made a Self-Preserving version! Lush Snowman Fun is a soft, playdoh like texture, that as long as you keep it dry, acts just like playdoh but it smells of their Carrot Soap. And when you break a bit off and add water: BUBBLES!!!

The packaging is bio-degradable, and the label gives a suggestion as to what you can build with it. But don't feel like you HAVE to build the thing. I cut the totally yummy smelling Snowman FUN in half and let the kids go to town.

Hannah made Olaf. And Liam made a pretty respectable Penguin (bear in mind the lad was only 6 when we took the photos, he has since turned 7 and is "way better at it now").

The ingredients are pretty skin friendly, even for my daughter who struggles with eczema and extremely dry skin, so this is great because its something she can use without fear of irritation her sensitive skin.

You get 200g of FUN for €6.95, but you will get great value out of this as the kids have used this for about 7 baths and there is still a little more than a third left. They pinch off about a thumbs worth and play with it a bit as playdoh, then they mush and rub their creations into their face cloths, it all suds up and they wash with the suds. Hannah's hair smells sweet and fresh, but it does still need a little conditioner through the ends as it is quite long. Liamo is ok to use this as a shampoo (without the need for conditioner) as his hair is short.
Just don't get the suds in your eyes: it does sting.

FUN doesn't only come in the Snownan variant, Lush also did a GOLD one for Christmas that you might still be able to pick up, and during the year you can pick up FUN in Pink, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow for your bathtime shenanigans.

I highly recommend FUN as a great Value-for-Money product for the kids (and Adult-kids) as a fun gift and something a little different and exciting for bath time.

**Purchased with my own money. Well actually with my Husband's money, if I'm being honest.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Review: The Body Shop Hand Creams

Confession: I've had these mini Hand Creams from The Body Shop for quite a while now... actually I've had them for about a year. I keep meaning to blog about them but then something else bumps them down the list a bit. Which is silly, because these little buggers are actually quite awesome.

As you can see they are mini, but don't let that put you off. The Body Shop Hand Creams pack a proper punch in the "phalangeal moisturisation" department and they smell DIVINE.

They come in 8 yummy "Flavours" and the 30ml tubes cost just €5.95. It sounds like a lot of money for a very little bit of product, but you need a pea sized amount of product to soothe dry hands and elbows and the hydrating effect lasts a good long time, without hands feeling sticky.

I do love that the Honeymania Hand Cream doesn't smell overly sweet, as you would think it would, it smells quite floral to me actually, but its not over-powering at all. Its not massively in your face, but I like that you get a lovely flowery wiff everytime your hands come past your face, so I would tend to use a florally perfume if I am putting this one in my hand bag.

The Moringa Hand Cream is my favourite. It's the scent of mu childhood. This little tube has been sitting next to my chair and it gets used at least 3 times a week, most often after I take my nail polish off because it replaces the moisture that the remover strips away. And cos it smells nice and sinks in quickly.

I finished the Honeymania tube in November 2014, but I still have a few uses left in the
Moringa one, and the tubes are lovely and squishy so you can get every last bit of gorgeousness out of the tube.

Get thee to The Body Shop soonest as they have a massive sale on at the moment, I just wish I lived closer to a store or that you could buy online from the Irish site

** Samples provided for review, opinions my own

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