My First Lush Purchases

I’m so late to the party with this one, but now I’m here, I’m staying ’til the lights come on.

There’s a reasonable excuse for my tardiness, though; when I was younger I bought a selection of bath fizzes on holiday and after using only one of them I came out in a horribly itchy rash from my neck to my toes. Ever since I’ve avoided anything strongly perfumed like the plague and, because you can smell a Lush store from 100 metres away, that meant all things Lush.

Having bought a Lush lip scrub a few months ago (it was vigorously recommended to me by a friend) and having not come out in hives, I wondered back in my local store to have a nose around and came away with these three pots of loveliness.

Big Salt Shampoo, £12.25

I have fine hair and a lot of it so I am constantly adding all sorts of products to give it a bit of life: hairspray, wax sprays, gels, gums, leave-in conditioners, mousses, toners, dry shampoos, serums – you name it and it’s probably in my hair. As such, it doesn’t seem to stay fresh for more than a day without looking and feeling heavy and greasy. Lush’s Big Salt Shampoo is the answer; its unique formula is designed to remove this gunk by exfoliating your hair and scalp, leaving both wonderfully smooth and refreshed (and smelling of fresh laundry!).

The name is literal: huge chunks of sea salt are suspended in a lusciously thick shampoo. The salt acts as an exfoliator, scrubbing away dirt from the scalp and hair strands, and a volume booster (along with the help of  extra virgin olive oil and seaweed, both rich in protein) by slightly drying the hair, much like a sea salt spray does. With reduced moisture, the hair is not so ‘slippy’ and less like to slide out of shape and style, meaning it’s easy to achieve that beachy, tousled look that’s ideal for Spring.

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Of course, if used too regularly, the salt will begin to dry your hair too much; I only use it once a week at the most. Another reason I have to use this sparingly (*sad face*) is because it contains lemon and lime juice, both natural bleaching agents. While these help make your hair look ultra-shiny, they are the nemesis of toners and hair colourants. As with any shampoo, toners and hair colours will fade, but the added ingredients in this pot of magic will accelerate this.

Overall, then, I’d definitely recommend this product for those of you who, like me, choke in a cloud of hairspray each morning and, by the end of the week, feel like their head is clogged full of product. I’ve never before used a shampoo that has been so effective at removing all those nasty gunky bits in such a natural, gentle way.

Rub, Rub, Rub, £8.75

So if Big Salt is an exfoliator for your head, this is for your bod. Again, the secret with this is sea-salt. Having sensitive skin, I was a little nervous that the formula would bring me out in spots, but the fine grains of salt offer gentle exfoliation as well as antiseptic properties that helps remove dead skin without causing agitation.

The mixture lathers only slightly when mixed with water meaning it doesn’t lose any of it’s impact and leaves skin feeling super soft, fresh and hydrated. A body scrub that also moisturises is quite difficult to come by in my experience; as you can see in the picture below, the scrub is quite loose and seems to leave behind an oily residue on the skin.

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For a Lush product, I personally find the smell rather so-so. Made with mimosa blossoms, the scrub has a very verrrrry ‘clean’ smell, which is nice, but not particularly girly or sweet smelling for my taste. That being said, it’s not an awful smell and always makes the product suitable for guys too (don’t say I never think of you gentlemen ;)).

The only warning I offer is to be careful using this after shaving. Yes, I know you should exfoliate and then shave, but sometimes I forget… The citrus juice and salt in this mixture will soon let you know if you’ve nicked your leg…

Helping Hands, £7.75

I can’t stand when my hands are dry; when it feels like any sudden movements will result in split skin and flecks of blood. As I’m usually covered in make-up, I repeatedly wash them with soap and water, which does nothing for my skin. Lush’s Helping Hands hand cream is perfect for restoring all this lost moisture and making my skin feel supple again.

This cream particularly targets sore hands: honey, lavender and marigold bring relief to sore and chapped skin; chamomile reduces redness and linseed softens skin to limit splitting and flaking. All Lush moisturisers rely on an amazing cocktail of natural emollients. Helping Hands is packed full of almond oil, cocoa butter and shea butter to create a thick lotion that takes only seconds to soak in, leaving no greasy residue only wonderfully soft skin.

Again, the smell is divisive. The most prominent smells are that of the butters which both have a peculiar nutty, almost smoky, smell, but it is by no means overpowering and seems to disappear as soon as the lotion sinks into the skin.

So there are my first Lush purchases and they won’t be my last! Though they’re not cheap, the quality of the products are unbelievable and knowing that every ingredient has been selected from a natural source with individual thought as to it’s purpose and effect makes every single penny worth it.

What are your favourite Lush products? What would you recommend I try next?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Essentials: Bobbi Brown’s Corrector

I’m tired. Okay, I’m exhausted. But I don’t want people to know it.

And it happens every time: an hour after applying my makeup, they start to creep back to the surface, those dark under eye circles. These aren’t just ‘bags,’ they’re suitcases and they refuse to go away.

Despite a cocktail of concealers, my attempts to mask them are all in vain. By 3pm my eyes look dark and drawn. So how do those other people do it? How do they look as fresh at 8pm as they did at 8am? The answer: correctors.

Colour correctors can be applied underneath concealers in a paste form, or over the top of concealers in powder form, and are produced in a variety of shades according to their purpose (and their place on the colour wheel):

Green counters red –for taming angry spots and broken veins;

Yellow counters purple –for masking particularly dark circles, scarring and bruising;

Orange counters blue – for hiding under eye circles;

I chose Bobbie Brown’s Corrector (£19.00) because of its amazing texture; correctors are, by their nature, a lot thicker and tackier than concealers, but this is thick while easy to blend, gooey but not greasy. In my opinion, Bobbi Brown also has the widest variety of shades available. I had looked into buying MAC’s Conceal and Correct duo but found the colour choices quite limited. Yes, I want enough orange to hide my dark circles, but I don’t want to look like I’ve had a fight with a can of St Tropez.

The lightest shade of corrector available in the Bobbi Brown range is called ‘Porcelian Bisque,’ an almost magnolia colour with the slightest hint of warmth. I assumed that this would be the ideal shade for me, but when swatching it in-store I found it too light (!shock horror!). This would be a great choice for those wanting to try a tame corrector for the first time, or those lucky enough to have only the faintest dark circles. I, on the other hand, want a Photoshop worthy corrector, so I picked ‘Porcelian Peach.’

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As the name suggests, this shade is still among the lightest offered by the brand, but it has a considerable orange hue. In the swatch above I’ve compared it to my typical concealer shade, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly (on the left). Bobbi Brown’s offering is the brightest of the two by far and has a salmon-esque colour as opposed to NARS’ typically yellow-toned bases. The corrector immediately lifts and brightens the skin, while it’s texture (I hope you can tell from this swatch just how thick and luscious it is) acts as both a wonderfully smooth primer and a glue to hold down your concealer.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous at first; being so pale, I’m particularly paranoid about my colour choices and, though I’ve had a number of concealer faux pas, I’ve never applied something so peachy intentionally. But, it works! In the pictures below, I applied my base as I usually would on the left and have added the corrector on the right. The difference is huge, and wonderful!

The true test of a corrector is its staying power. When your concealer begins to break down and fade after 5-6 hours (even when using the premium brands), a corrector will stay in place at full coverage for around 8-9 hours, meaning your face looks as fresh and dark circle-free as it did when it was first applied.

Of course, it’s not a miracle worker and there are some things to be careful of. This is by no means a light formula and adding another paste to your makeup routine does increase the risk of caking and creasing. The former can be easily avoided as long as you aren’t heavy-handed and blend the corrector in well – a  little goes a very long way (this one in particular won’t lose its intensity once blended).

As for creasing, I’ve found that applying a good amount of primer beforehand and a fair dab of powder afterwards helps to stop this from happening for the majority of the day. When I begin to notice lines appearing, it simply work the products back into my skin using my finger, reapply some powder, and I’m ready to go for the next few hours: a small price to pay for a dark circle eraser!

So, would you consider Bobbi Brown’s corrector?

Do you use correctors as part of your getting ready routine?

Hope you like!

Molly x

My Contouring Routine

I’m a recent contouring convert; ever since that photo of Kim Kardashian, I’ve been trying to add some definition to my face, drawing various lines in various colours in various places.

I’ve tried taupe, bronze and dark brown eyeshadows, eye pencils, creams and blushes in the hope of achieving the right look and after many attempts (and some utter disasters), I think I’ve finally cracked it!

Shading

Illamasqua’s Skin Base Lift in White and Cream Pigment in Hollow (both £17.50)

My first step is to ‘shade’ my face, or to map out where I want the light and shadow to be; I find that by first adding a subtle glow and depth to the skin, any extra definition added later to the nose and cheekbones looks more authentic. To do this, I’ve found the best products to use are cream pigments, essentially colour-rich concealers.

After applying my foundation and a very light layer of concealer around my eyes (just to even out those blueish veins), I apply the two pigments in those places that I feel need an extra oomph.

(Please excuse the damp hair and pyjamas…my getting-ready routine isn’t at all glamorous)

My favourite products for this shading are Illamasqua’s Skin Base Lift in White and Cream Pigment in Hollow. The Skin Base Lift has a beautifully silky, almost gooey, texture that blends easily with my foundation without losing any of its brightness. While it adds a visible glow to my skin, I don’t rely on this as my sole concealer. Illamasqua claims that each of the Skin Base Lifts has a peach undertone that perfectly counteracts blueish hues, particularly around the eyes. I guess having chosen the white shade, which obviously has very little peach to it, I have had to compromise on this full coverage. Nevertheless, I would recommend this product for those with pale skin who may struggle to find a contouring product light enough to make a noticeable difference.

Hollow is another product ideally suited to paler skin types due to it’s cooler tone. Before using this, I had been using Benefit’s Hoola to define my cheekbones: Hoola is known for having a cooler tone than most bronzers meaning it works well on even the fairest skin, but I personally prefer Hollow as its colour is cooler still, meaning it adds shade without any unconvincing ‘tan’ or orange hue.

Once applied, I then blend these pigments out with my beauty blender being sure to avoid any streaks, but also to keep the colours within their demarcated ‘zones.’

Defining

NYX Powder Blush in Taupe (£6.00) and Illamasqua’s Gleam in Aurora (£21.50)

For adding further, more defined, shadows to my face, I prefer to use a dark powder. As I like to add a little more colour to my nose (which, due to my combination skin, can get oily), I use a powder to avoid adding more product, which can lead to caking.

I use NYX’s Powder Blush in Taupe, a similar grey-brown to Hollow, to carve out my cheekbones with a dense blusher brush and to shape my nose with a detail brush, as shown below. As a powder, it is much easier to build up substantial colour without clogging the skin with too much product.

That being said, for my highlighter, I would have typically used a white eyeshadow with a light shimmer, until I discovered Illamasqua’s Gleam. I recently bought a bundle from eBay which included this Gleam and now I can’t stop using it.

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Many reviews I have read have complained that this highlighter’s sticky formula can lift off foundation and it certainly does (I have caused all kinds of blotches because of it) if not used sparingly. To me, it is less of a cream and more of a gel-like consistency and, though quite peculiar to work with, produces the most ethereal delicate glow.

My Gleam, Aurora, is a lovely champagne colour which works well with warmer shades of eyeshadow and lipstick on fair skin. With cooler shades of make-up, I would probably opt for a similarly cool toned highlighter – I’m waiting for Illamasqua to bring out a white/silver Gleam!

My face is now ready for eyeliner, mascara, the works! Contouring can look lovely and natural when just set with a little powder and left alone, but can also provide a base for adding a little blush or extra bronzer. In the look below, I chose to keep it simple with an ordinary contour and neutral lips and eyes.

What are your favourite products for contouring?

Hope you like!

Molly x

My Skincare Routine

I have a few confessions to make… I hate the taste of water; the only fluids I’ll willing consume are tea, gin and custard. I never manage my five-a-day (or is it seven-a-day now?) and often have cake for breakfast. And, worst of all, I am a picker; spots, blackheads, random lumps that appear on my forehead, all feel the force of my two forefingers.

All things considered, I should be prone to spots, blemishes and wrinkles. Though I have my genes to thank for my relatively clear skin, I have developed a skincare routine that helps keep break-outs at bay, as well as one for when that monster zit appears on the very tip of my nose.

Make-up Removal:  Simple ‘Kind to Skin’ Cleansing Wipes, £3.49

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I have been using these make-up removal wipes for as long as I can remember. My skin is highly sensitive to strong perfumes (even Johnson’s Baby Moisturiser stings 😦 ), but these wipes have never caused any irritation. Simple’s wipes are produced with different formulas, each tailored to different skin types – Cleansing, Exfoliating, Oil Balancing, etc. – I use Cleansing because I prefer full-coverage foundations and concealers that need an equally thorough removal. The only one I would not recommend is the Exfoliating wipes as their course texture can leave your skin feeling a little raw. 

No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Make-up Remover, £8.5010859346_10152459363021128_1544665499_n

The amount of eye make-up I wear means that I have to be careful not to scrub away at my eyes too much when removing mascara and eyeliner. This remover is excellent for lifting off those last bits of glitter, crusted eyeliner (eww) and waterproof mascara. As it is oil based, those with particularly oily skin may not take to this product, however, I would recommend it for anyone with dry or combination skin as it both cleanses and moisturises that delicate skin around the eye.

Cleansing and Toning: No7 Soft and Soothed Gentle Cleanser and Gentle Toner, £8.00 each

Boots No7 is a brand I completely trust when it comes to taking care of my skin. Their products are hypo-allergenic and ph-balanced so as not to cause irritation. As well as having a beautifully silky texture, they also have enough power to sink deeply into the skin, leaving it feeling fresh and hydrated.

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I know it’s kind of gross but this picture is of the cotton wool pad I use to cleanse my face. This is AFTER using a make-up wipe. Though make up wipes will remove make-up on the surface of the skin, cleansers penetrate deeper into the pores, helping to lift out the residue inside.

Obviously cleansing is crucially important, but why use a toner? Many people skip this process, but toning is essential for restoring the ph balance of your skin. When I wasyounger my mom told me that while cleansers open your pores, toners close them; I don’t have the dermatological evidence to back this up, but it does enforce the equal importance of cleansing and toning (ideally twice a day). My favourite moisturiser is also No7, I review it here.

Blemishes: No7 Colour Calming Primer, £10.50

In this col10850801_10152459363016128_1593091137_nd weather, my skin can often look red and mottled. To solve this issue I use this colour calming primer, again by No7. The lotion is green – opposite to red on the colour wheel – meaning, once blended, it is particularly effective at reducing redness and helps to even out your complexion (as you can see from the picture below).

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When I do have break-outs, I often apply this to the area using a concealer brush, working it around the spot to mute that angry red colour.  The key to this product is blending: a little goes a long way and, without effective blending, can leave your skin with a peculiar green-grey undertone. Once foundation and concealer is applied, however, the green colour is not at all noticeable.

What products are key to your skincare routine?

Hope you like!

Molly x

What I Wear To Work

I’ve recently started work at a local university (hence why my posts will now have to wait till weekends) and so, while I need to look smart and professional, a little self expression is always welcome.

Outfit

In terms of outfits, I like to stick to neutral colours – white, black, grey and navy – but play around with textures and patterns. Mohair, lace, cord and viscose help to add a bit of interest to block colours and each have their own particular way of clinging to my figure or flowing loosely. I have a definite thing for all things check and tartan and recently bought a two piece check co-ord set from Marks and Spencer. The top piece is a gorgeous peplum shape, the fit of which nicely balances out the straight legged trousers.

Make-Up

My work make-up follows the same principle as my outfit: I tend to keep my eyes neutral, but use a bold colour on my lips. Benefit’s ‘Big Beautiful Eyes’ palette is the perfect little contouring kit containing a creamy ‘industrial-strength’ concealer and three different colours to help create a gorgeous muted smokey eye.

The palette offers a concealer in ‘Boing 02,’ an alabaster pink base eyeshadow, a cocoa shimmer contour shadow and a deep chocolate liner colour, each of which have their own designated brush specially designed for their specific forms of application.

Benefit’s ‘Boing’ is a shade darker than my usual concealer so I tend to use it to cover blemishes and opt for MAC’s Studio Finish Concealer in NC15 under my eyes. My base is completed with a sweep of Bare Mineral’s Touch Up Veil in ‘Light’ – a lovely lightweight compressed powder that helps to minimise shine and even out my complexion.

Finally, my current lipstick of choice is No7’s Moisture Drench Lipstick in ’02 Plum Beautiful,’ which not only has a lovely satin finish but also doubles up as a lip moisturiser.

Make-Up Bag

It’s rare that make-up applied at 6am will stay put until 5pm, so I carry a mini make-up bag with me to help top up throughout the day. Inside I carry my lipstick of choice, a dinky reel of dental floss, a mini tube of hand cream and a travel bottle of perfume. I also take my Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer in ‘Fair 1:’ this concealer is considerably lighter than that in the Benefit kit so I top it up at lunch time to freshen up my face and stop my eyes looking heavy and tired.

What make-up essentials do you take to work?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Five Steps to Fresh, Dewy Skin

For me, the colder months of the year don’t just bring fireworks and Christmas presents, but also cracked lips and a peeling nose (eww). My skin has always been woefully dry, so the trend for a fresh-faced, dewy look was one I’ve been keen to get right.

It’s taken a bit of time, but I think I’ve finally cracked it! Here are my five steps for that sought-after glow:

1. Moisturiser – No7 Beautiful Skin Day Cream for Dry/Very Dry Skin SPF 15, £12.50.

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I’ve tried all sorts of moisturisers but this is by far my favourite. Unlike others I’ve tried, it doesn’t sit on top of my skin, but gets absorbed almost immediately. It also doesn’t over compensate by making my face feel heavy and oily.

(I’m yet to be convinced that I need a night cream too, I just use this every morning and every night).

2. Radiance Fluid – No7 Skin Illuminator: Radiance Boosting Beauty Fluid, £11.00.

highlighterThis is my ultimate secret weapon. This fluid has a pearlescent finish that has no other purpose (that I know of…), but to make your face glow. It’s like 12 hour’s sleep and a long soak in the bath in a bottle! It can be used alone, under or over foundation: a light sweep is great for adding a subtle shimmer, while a thicker coat is perfect for highlighting.

My only complaint is the method of application; you have to squeeze the cream through a clumsy brush extension which can make it difficult to control how much is dispensed at any one time. Definitely worth a try!

3. Foundation and Sponge – Rimmel London Match Perfection Foundation, £6.99 and Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, £5. 99.

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Two months ago, I would have sworn by MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid as the perfect foundation. It offers brilliant, full coverage with a gorgeous matte finish (and smells like old school paint!).

For a dewy-look, however, this Rimmel foundation offers a great alternative – it makes my skin look and feel perfectly hydrated.

I’m also a recent convert to the beauty blender; I bought this cheaper alternative to test it out (I’ve always used my fingers to apply my base) and will never look back!

When damp, the sponge is perfect for tapping and blending foundation into the face, leaving a flawless, dewy look.

4. Highlighter – No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter, £9.95.

This is a very new addition to my make-up collection, but so far I am really impressed.

It comes in a variety of colours, but I chose a gorgeous champagne shade, which offers a healthy warm shimmer without any glitter or exaggerated sparkle.

It’s rollerball applicator is extremely easy to use and combines the benefits of a powder and a liquid highlighter: it can be blended easily like a liquid, but is light and build-able like a powder.

5. Gloss – Vaseline Lip Therapy Petroleum Jelly, £2.18.

Good old Vaseline! With the recent trend for bare-faced beauty, vaseline offers the perfect light sheen to the lips to complete the dewy look.

It can also be used on bare eyelids or on top of eyeshadows to create a unique glossy finish (like that used by MAC at London and New York’s AW14 Fashion Week).

A thin coat of Vaseline on your eyelashes before bed is also meant to nourish longer, thicker, stronger lashes (something I am in definite need of).

What are your go-to products for radiant skin?

Hope you like!

Molly x