The 7 products that cured my adult acne

best-products-for-adult-acne

You might be thinking that my use of the word ‘cure’ is a pretty bold statement to make. And three months ago I would have agreed with you. Because three months ago I was in the depths of despair over my skin – it was just getting worse and worse; adult acne was the bane of my life and it was taking over 99% of my waking thoughts.

I literally thought I had tried everything. Every mattifying moisturiser, every face wash targeted at clearing and cleaning my pores within in inch of their life, and every product that claimed to blitz my blemishes into oblivion.

Nothing worked. Even a healthy diet, a few litres of water a day and some exercise couldn’t seem to offer some relief. I was so, so close to going to the doctors and asking for something – anything – to stop the endless stream of painful, red spots all over my face that were plaguing my life. And then I did some research. Because the answer to most of my face-related problems was staring me in the, um, face. I had spent a lifetime (and a small fortune, no less) applying anti-ageing serums, lotions and creams. And while I’m utterly convinced that they live up to their claims when it comes to preventing wrinkles, what they categorically do not do is prevent spots. Anti-ageing products are heavy, oil-laden and, above all, targeted at women who struggle with moisture. And from the state of my skin approximately 2 hours after I’ve painstakingly applied my make up, the one thing that’s evident is that I definitely do not have a problem with retaining moisture. Quite the opposite, in fact; my skin is so oily that I find make up on anything and everything – pens, my phone, my keyboard, my clothes. The list could go on.

So I had a little think. I asked other people what they recommended. I spent a long, long time reading reviews on all manner of websites. Then I bit the bullet and completely changed my skincare routine. And you know what? It was the best thing I ever did.

If you’re way past your teenage years and still struggling with oily, acne-prone skin then these are the products that I would recommend you think about. I’ve been using all of these for 2 months now, and while they work wonders for me I obviously can’t 100% guarantee they’ll work the same way for anyone else. But if you’re stuck in a rut and getting to the point where a paper bag is looking like a viable option, then you won’t go far wrong with any of these…

how to get clear skin

oily skin solutions

vichy dermablend foundation

 

La Roche-Posay Serozinc Spray:  This spray is everything. Seriously. Designed to be used as a toner after cleansing, this is packed full of (as the name suggests) zinc – and skin loves a bit of zinc. This is really refreshing and light, and a little goes a long way. My face always feels really clean and fresh after using this, plus it doubles up as a treatment for other minor skin irritations like razor burn, too. Winner!

Messinian Spa Micellar Lotion: As you can see from the label I still haven’t taken off it, this was one of my skincare treats from Greece. It grabbed my attention in a Greek pharmacy because it claimed to be 100% organic. Plus the layers of suncream and sweat masking my face constantly by day 5 of the holiday were doing me no favours. I haven’t linked it because it’s not sold or shipped in the UK, but it’s what I’ve been using to take my make up off with in place of my regular micellar water and I’ve loved it.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Hot Cloth Cleanser: This caught my eye several times during my research for a good face wash. I like to take my make up off with micellar water and then do a hot cloth cleanse to really finish the job properly. Trouble is, finding a decent cleanser that’t not Liz Earle is a mission. I don’t want to spend a fortune on face wash, and when this came on offer on the Superdrug website for £2.99 I decided it would be worth a go. I really do love this – if you want a great Liz Earl dupe, then this is the one for you (it looks like Liz, it smells like Liz, it cleanses like Liz and guess what, it’s cheaper than Liz).

Vichy Normaderm Anti-Age, Anti-Imperfection, Anti-Wrinkle Resurfacing Care: I actually had a brief dalliance with the Vichy range a spot-ridden teenager, when I woke up one morning and discovered I’d developed a BEARD of spots around my mouth. Attractive. I went to a chemist who recommended the Vichy range and I bought one of everything. Long story short, it worked – but it dried my skin out horrendously. Over 10 years later, I was willing to give it another shot. This is now my Holy Grail daytime moisturiser. Packed full of LHA, Glycol Acid and Vitamin C this is nourishing enough for daytime skin without being overly greasy. It sinks in quickly and makes a great base for my make up. I definitely think the ingredients in this have had a lot to do with my skin improving – the acids are prompting a bit of natural exfoliation, while the vitamin C is healing any little tiny pimples that are cropping up. This works particularly well with the Serozinc, in my opinion. Oh, and if you winced at the price tag, it’s much cheaper elsewhere online – I just linked to Boots so that you could read the reviews and see for yourself 🙂

Superdrug Vitamin E Skin Oil:  Now, I know what you’re thinking – oil, on top of oily skin? Yeah, me too. One of the most interesting things I read about when researching The Cure for Oily Skin was that a good facial oil can, in fact, minimise oily skin. Apparently, it’s something to do with different types of oil; the one our skin produces can sometimes be a sign we’re lacking in other vital oils (and I don’t eat fish, so whaddya know, my body was crying out for them), so using the correct oil on top can actually cancel it out. I had nothing to lose at this point, I was desperate, so I bought this and thought to hell with the consequences. And it really does work. I apply this after cleansing my face and using the Serozinc in place of a serum under my night cream (once a day is definitely enough with this, it’s so moisturising). It’s light, sinks in quickly, doesn’t make my skin feel greasy and the Vitamin E has done wonders for the acne scarring on my chin.

Superdrug Clearly Youthful Glycol Peel: The one thing I’ve never incorporated into my skincare routine – even as a skincare fanatic – is a good face mask. I just assumed that as my skin was oily a moisturising one would be too much and anything that would draw impurities out would just cause even MORE zits. And then I found this. This is a retexturising, sebum-fighting, anti-ageing peel-off mask that’s packed full of glycolic and lactic acids – the highest, in fact, that can be included in drugstore facial product. I use this twice a week in conjunction with another exfoliator and am really impressed with the effects – my skin is definitely smoother, clearer and fresher looking as a result. Plus I’m addicted to peeling it off. Not even sorry.

Vichy Dermablend Foundation: This one happened by accident. I was actually quite happy with my L’Oreal Infallible 24hr Matte foundation, and then I got a sample of this in a beauty box and bam, that was that. I don’t usually bother trying foundation samples as they rarely ever include ones that match my pale skintone, but this one (in the shade Nude) caught my eye because of the brand. I had already been using the Vichy moisturiser for a few weeks and was impressed with the results, so wondered whether using the same brand of foundation would further enhance that. Also, this is a full coverage foundation, and as I’m still fighting a bit of acne scarring, I’m all about the full coverage. This is, without doubt, my new favourite foundation. It’s light – both to blend and to wear – covers all my imperfections, lasts all day and even has SPF35 in it, which was a big selling point to me after starting to use so many other products with a high acid content. The only downside is that this comes in a very small range of shades, so it’s quite tricky to get a perfect match.

 

I would 100% recommend all of the above to anyone struggling with oily, acne-prone skin. Skin problems, although not the end of the world, can seem like such a high mountain to conquer when you’re at the end of your tether.

 

 

Things I love #2 – the bath and body edit

bath-and-body-haul

So I’m back with another round up of products I’ve been loving this summer. Talking of summer, how was yours? Did it go as quickly as mine did (like, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it?).

I was outrageously spoilt this year with not just one amazing sunshine-filled trip to Greece, but two. After we got back from our holiday to Rhodes in May we immediately got on the ‘ol internet and got booking for another. Therefore, while most of the products I’m recommending this time are summer-based, you can rest safe in the knowledge that they have been thoroughly road tested in 35 degree heat and therefore they are winners. Fact.

Garnier Ambre Solaire aftersun hydrating tan maintainer: This. Is. The. Bomb. Being fair skinned I rarely tan on holiday until right at the very end, usually when we’re standing in line for the plane home. Therefore I always take a bit of fake tan away with me and this year, with limited luggage space, I decided to kill two birds and take an after sun with added tanning agent. This stuff is amazing. It sinks in quickly, has a sweet, long lasting scent and gives a natural glow that’s not orange or too ‘fake’ looking. The tanner worked pretty quickly on me – two applications and I had a nice golden colour – but beware the Curse of the Orange Palm; had it not been for this then I definitely would have got away with people thinking I actually had a natural tan to show for my week away. For once. I got mine from Boots for a fiver, but there’s plenty of this stuff knocking around the internet in various other places.

Nivea Stress Protect deodorant:  I’m not normally a fan of spray ons, but I’ve grown a bit tired of their cream stick counterparts recently. I hate that they go all sticky under your arms in the heat – the smell when they start to work actually makes me feel a bit sick. Plus I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t leave white marks on my clothes – even the ones that are designed NOT to. I was perusing Boots in search of something to take on holiday (in the mens aisle, FYI, because men’s deodorant is the best) when I came across this and thought I’d give it a go. I wasn’t expecting much from it to be honest, but it really surprised me – not only does this work (in 35 degree heat, no less) but it smells nice and the can seems to last a fairly decent length of time. Winner!

Aloe Treasures silk & silicone leave in conditioner: I’m really struggling with hair products at the moment as so many of my regular favourites have been discontinued (I’m mostly looking at you, Boots, and your unnecessary cull of the Almond & Coconut leave in conditioner. WHY?). I took some Argan oil to Greece with me to put on the ends at night and after washing, but I really do need a decent leave in conditioner for combing through when my hair’s wet. I picked this up in a Greek pharmacy in Rhodes town and it’s been a life saver. At 10 Euros it wasn’t exactly cheap (around £7) but it’s organic and, well, I was desperate. It smells nice and fresh (if a tad synthetic for something that claims to be 100% organic) and my hair is so much happier for it. Now to continue the hunt for something similar here in the UK!

Argan Oil heat defence leave in spray:  Continuing on the hair theme, this stuff has also been a god send. Getting a decent hair cut back in July has given me the incentive to style my hair properly a lot more recently, so I want to try and take care of it and keep it in relatively good condition. I picked this up in Poundland a couple of weeks ago and just give my hair a good spray every time I blow dry or straighten. I’m sure there are better brands out there, but this was ONE POUND. Enough said.

Seascape sea salt body scrub:  I was kindly gifted a few bits from award winning bath and body range Seascape just before we went on holiday again in August, and it couldn’t have been better timing. As any regular tanner will know, exfoliating is so important in maintaining and enhancing your glow and I aim to give my body a good scrub at least once or twice a week. I’m usually a Soap & Glory kind of girl when it comes to scrub (and believe me, I’ve tried them all) but this stuff is amazing. It’s got the same gritty texture as Scrub of Your Life and a little goes a long way. As you can see, I’ve nearly finished my jar – it really is that good. I would say that anyone who doesn’t like heavily scented products might not like this – it’s got a very strong lavender scent, with a hint of eucalyptus. Personally, I don’t mind it, and it makes it great as a pre-bedtime treat for winding down as I find the scent relaxing, but if you prefer sweeter smells like the stuff from Soap & Glory then this might take some getting used to. The only negative I could find was that it came in a glass jar – I’m clumsy, therefore slippery hands and glass jars in the shower aren’t the best combination for me, but other than that this product is amazing and will really make your skin soft and supple.

Seascape Soothe body mist: Lastly, a product I’ve been coveting for most of the summer is this body mist from Seascape’s Soothe range. I’ve struggled all my life with insomnia on and off, and after having a particularly stressful few weeks at the beginning of summer that disturbed my sleep no end I was really keen to give this a go. I spray some on after a shower each night, making sure it’s on my skin and pyjamas, and then mist a bit over my pillow as well. While it won’t knock you into a coma or anything, this definitely has helped to soothe and relax me in the run up to bedtime. This is made from 100% Jersey Lavender, so again if that’s not your thing then you might not enjoy it, but for me it’s a scent that I now associate with relaxation, so I personally find it quite comforting. I’ll definitely be stocking up on some more of this before it runs out – especially as Seascape are currently donating 5% from the sale of any product in their Soothe range to the Target Ovarian Cancer charity. Lovely!

 

I was kindly gifted a range of Seascape products this summer, two of which I’ve reviewed here because yes, they really are as good as I’ve described. All opinions on everything I review – gifted or not – are 100% my own, and I would never recommend anything here that I didn’t genuinely think was worth the time or trouble to write about. Thanks Seascape!

W7: Summer make up haul

nude-make-up-palettes

Make up. I’m not lying when I say I don’t leave the house without it (on my face, that is, not just like, randomly). I’d love to be one of those people that just woke up and put BB cream and one layer of mascara on, or you know, went without it altogether, but sadly it’s not to be. Acne scarring and stubby eyelashes will do that to you.

And frankly, I’ve made my peace with that. Especially in the summer. Summer make up is my absolute favourite. Nude tones, bronze skin, shimmery coral cheeks and bright lips are all big winners in my book.

A couple of weeks ago, when I was contacted by W7 Cosmetics and asked if I wanted to sample some bits from their summer range, I’ll admit I was dubious. For one, I’d never actually even heard of them and for two I had no idea what they wanted to send. And believe me when I say I’ve been sent some curious looking excuses for make up before.

Turns out you should just always say yes to these things, because I ended up with some amazing things that, put to the test, have become regular staples in my make up bag – some so much they are used on a daily basis.

If you’re looking to update your summer make up (before summer runs away…if it hasn’t already) then here are five key pieces I’d thoroughly recommend:

Bronze Queen eye palette: This is, without doubt, my absolute fave product of the whole selection sent to me. The colours are perfect for my skin tone (fair, with a generous layer of St. Tropez, just FYI) and there’s not a single one here I wouldn’t use at some stage or another. To be fair, these would probably suit any skin tone; I’m just obviously over excited about the fact that I’ve FINALLY got my hands on a decent selection of matte eyeshadows. All of the shadows are quite strongly pigmented, and the colour payoff is great – they tend to last all day on me, and that’s without a primer underneath (ain’t nobody got time for that everyday). The gold glitter is nothing to write home about though; if it were more finely milled then it would be perfect, but I ended up with big chunks of glitter all over my face. I can’t actually find this on their website so it’s either not out yet or due to be launched soon. Keep your eyes out!

Hollywood Bronze & Glow, £4.95: Obviously this is a dupe of Charlotte Tilbury’s bronzing palette of the same name – HOWEVER, this is like, ten times cheaper. It’s also my second favourite product – and one I now wear every day without fail, so there’s that too. Both are finely milled powders with plenty of shimmer, so great for an instant glow on the cheeks.

The Cheeky Trio, £9.99: A bronzer, blusher and highlighting trio, this is perfect for anyone who wants everything in one place. The bronzer is excellent for contouring (and with oily skin I’m ALL for a decent bronzer that doesn’t have ten tons of shimmer in it) underneath the Hollywood Bronze & Glow, and the blush is the perfect shade of coral and sits really well when used on top of both bronzers. The highlighter, however, wasn’t the best. Maybe it’s just because the Bronze & Glow’s highlighter is so much more shimmery in comparison, but this took a long time to build and even then I couldn’t really see it. Two outta three ain’t bad though, right!

In the Mood Natural Nudes Eye Palette, £4.95: I’ve actually only really used one shade from this palette properly so far. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just prefer the Bronze Queen palette so much more at the moment, and I’m also not a massive fan of all the really pale nude shades, to be totally honest. Again, these are all highly pigmented matte shades with good colour payoff. You’d probably have to build the lighter shades up a bit though, depending on how strong you like to wear them as they are really subtle. This will, however, be perfect for our holiday in a few weeks time as it’s so small, and I’m planning on using the darkest shade as an eyeliner. If you’re looking for something very basic to get you started with nude eyeshadow then for less than a fiver you can’t go much wrong here.

Liquid Kiss Lipstick in Can Can, £4.95: Oh my days, this year I’ve become OBSESSED with lipstick. I only ever used to wear it on nights out and that, but recently I’ve started experimenting with it during like, ordinary days too. Only problem being, I end up with more on my mug of tea than I do my actual lips. This, however, is the answer to everything. This IS everything. I put this liquid lipstick (is that a thing?) on after lunch one day last week and 6 hours, 3 drinks and a biscuit or two later it was STILL there. Not only that but it didn’t actually come off at all until I used make up remover. There was not a trace on my mug, my pen (I’m a pen chewer, soz) or my teeth at all. And it’s completely lightweight – one of the things I really hate about lipstick, and which kinda puts me off wearing it at all is that you can feel it on you lips, but this is pretty much invisible. I only remembered I was wearing it when I caught sight of myself every now and then. For the price, I would say this is the best value for money, and would be well worth looking into if you have a wedding or party coming up before summer’s out.

*FYI, this is obviously a PR collaboration. W7 were kind enough to send me this selection of make up to test out. However, as always, ALL thoughts are my own and nothing ever gets reviewed here that I wouldn’t genuinely recommend to a friend.*

Things I Love #1: a pre-holiday beauty haul

holiday-beauty-haul

Yep – I’m totally jumping on that ‘things I love’ blogging bandwagon. Because a) I love reading them and b) it’s just way easier than reviewing one single product at time (honest truth guys).

This month, I’ve mostly been buying things for my summer hols – excited face. I’m on a self-imposed ‘only-pack-what-you-need’ mission this time though. Don’t worry, it won’t last – I’ve already bought 2 of pretty much everything and a whole lot of miniature things that will most likely end up being dumped in the hotel bin by the end of the week away, as per.

However, there are a few things I know I will definitely not regret taking one little bit. These beauties are worth every penny and precious inch inside the suitcase (soz extra pants)…

spring-beauty-haul

 

Palmers Coco Butter Natural Bronze: It’s that time of year again. Yep, so long jeans and tights and hello bare legs. As much as I hate my pasty skin though, I am actually sick of fake tanning. It just takes up so much time that I could be you know, watching Eastenders or drinking gin or something. However, this little product is the game-changer. I always moisturise post-shower, so why didn’t I think to get one with a tanning product in it before?! Two birds and all that. This gives an excellent, very natural colour. I applied it two nights in a row and I’m still tanned in all the right places five days later. It doesn’t fade as quickly as a proper fake tanning product (because it’s a moisturiser maybe? Who knows), but it does take slightly longer to blend in. And I have got some dodgy lines going on on my wrists. And there is a slight orange hue to the palms of my hands DESPITE washing them in what felt like 90 degree water for ten minutes afterwards. Other than that, this is a definite winner.

Avon anti-ageing facial suncreen, SPF50: If you know me, then you know that my biggest fear in life (after spiders. And the dark) is getting actual sun on my face. Aside from the fact that I can’t afford the amount of botox it would require to fix a sun-damaged face right now, I also have extremely fair skin. And no one needs the agony of a burnt face. Trust me, I’ve been there. This was a complete bargain, and while it’s quite a small bottle a little does go a long way. It rubs in nicely and as it’s oil-free it actually creates quite a good base for foundation. This will be coming everywhere with me over the summer months, in place of my usual daytime moisturiser.

Soap and Glory Hand Dream Super Cream: Handcreams, in my opinion, are always a bit hit and miss. If they smell nice they you can guarantee they’re so perfumed that they’ll actually dry your hands out even more. If they work then they’re either greasy and take ages to absorb, or smell really clinical. Soap and Glory are breaking that mould though, and this is a particular favourite of mine from their range. it sinks in quickly, and while it’s not the most hydrating hand cream I’ve ever used, it does the job well and has a long list of extras that some other brands don’t. Plus, I’m a total sucker for the packaging.

Barry M Sunset Daylight Curing nail varnish in Peach For the Stars and topcoat: Have I ever told you about the time I got married and my gel nails peeled right off? No? Well the long and short of it is that shellac, apparently, does not agree with my fingernails. I’ve tried four times now, but every time I’m left with peeling, dry nails after four days, max. Not only is expensive, but it’s annoying too – I don’t have the time to be painting my nails constantly. However, this little invention from Barry M’s new range looks promising. I haven’t actually tried it yet (see what I mean about nails taking time?!) but am hoping to give it a good read test on holiday. If it works then I’ll be buying the whole range, for real.

Botanics Radiant Youth Super Serum: This was a complete, 100% I-don’t-need-it-but-it’s-on-offer-so-I’ll-buy-it type purchase. And for once, it’s one that’s paid off. I quite like the Botanics range, and I was in the market for a new serum anyway, having used up my regular No7 one (that I’d had on go since Christmas, no less). Anything with the word ‘radiance’ in it is always guaranteed to get me interested – who doesn’t want more radiant skin, I ask you?! Anyway, this stuff is great – light and easily absorbed, I’ve been using it twice a day on clean skin and it is starting to make a difference – especially in reducing the size of my pores. Winner.

Spring Fashion 2015: (mostly) monochrome

I think it’s fair to say that, despite STILL having to de-ice my car this morning, it is officially Spring now, right?

And I couldn’t be more relieved. I’m over eating winter food for another year, over de-icing everything in living sight, and most definitely over wearing chunky knits, ankle boots and seven hundred strategically placed layers.

Which probably explains the overwhelming urge I’ve got to go on a wardrobe purge/new clothes binge IMMEDIATELY. And also because, you know, Spring fashion is good this year; for once it feels like it’s attainable – and, for the most part, 99.9% of what’s currently in fashion now has already been in fashion at least once, if not two or three times before – so you’ve probably got the basics for this year covered.

The only key thing that sticks out about this year is that lilac seems to be the accent colour shining through. Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t escape it this season. Personally, I doubt I’ll be wearing it much when it comes to clothing, but lilac nails, shoes and bags? Yes, yes, yes. I need you all.

Here are a few of the things I’ll be looking to add to my wardrobe over the coming weeks:

spring-fashion-2015

1. That New Look clutch bag. YES on so many levels. Not that I use clutch bags more than approximately 4 times a year these days, but that is not important. At all.

2. Because I’m ever the optimist, there is a bikini on the wish list this year. This one is from M&S, a shop I’ve recently discovered I spend a disproportionate amount of time in. Is it because they’ve upped their game in all areas of style? Or is it because I’m not actually 21 anymore, despite what my brain regularly tells me? Who knows. Who even CARES when the stuff is this good.

3. If I buy just one thing from this list it will 100% be this skirt, from Next. The shape and length are perfect and it’s one of those rare items that I can genuinely see being a wardrobe staple that can be worn all year round.

4. I’m struggling with my addiction to gold jewellery at the moment. I’m literally drowning in the stuff. So it’s no surprise that this little gem from Z for Accessorize made it onto my wish list. And maybe then made it into the shopping cart. And is maybe winging its way to me as we speak. 

5. I’m loving jackets at the moment. And I’m aware I’m majorly late to the party with the whole jacket thing, but there’s something about this little number from Primark (obviously) that is calling out to me. Again, is it my age?!

6. Anyone else still loving the whole illusion skirt trend? Good, me too. Because I’m hoping to wear this on the holiday that I’m holding out for at some point this year. Knowing me, I will probably wreck it with fake tan/food/drink/nail varnish/all of the above within three hours of owning it, but seeing as it’s another Primark number I will more than likely just buy two anyway.

7. I’ve got a weird obsession with blouses/oversized vests like this one (which if from F&F, btw) at the moment. I don’t know why either, it’s just something that has magically happened over night – much like the M&S/jacket obsession. But, again, this would be a great piece to add to a holiday wardrobe to cover up on the beach/wear for a casual day sight seeing (see, positive holiday vibes are in full force: HINT HINT HUSBAND).

 

No7 Beauty Advent Calendar: the best bits

no7-beauty-advent-calendar-2014

So by now we all know that I love Christmas. We also know that when I say I love Christmas, what I really mean by that is that I just love the run-up to Christmas. Sure, the big day itself is exciting and I love it, but I love the three weeks leading up to it and all the build up that brings even more. Especially when it comes to advent calendars.

Advent calendars are a tradition that’s hard to break. Yes, I know I’m probably the wrong side of 25 to be having one still, but every year I end up with one. Except for this year, when I actually ended up with four (completely by accident, I might add); two of the chocolate variety (obviously) and two of my new yearly tradition – the beauty variety.

After the success of last year’s You Beauty Advent Calendar, I bought another this year. At £50 for nearly £200 worth of stuff I thought it was a no-brainer. Except this year’s has sorely disappointed me. Either last year I was under a wow-this-is-amazing haze of lust for beauty advent calendars, or this year’s really IS a let down, but either way I’ll be reconsidering my options with that one next year (FYI, the samples were tiny this year and it felt like there were a lot of ‘filler’ products between the really good ones. Just my opinion there though!).

But not content with that, I also succumbed to the hype of the Boots No7 Beauty Advent Calendar. I couldn’t get my mitts on one of these for love nor money last year, so there I sat this year, poised over every single social media outlet, anticipating its arrival online. And I got one. And you know what? It’s actually pretty damn good. At £35 it’s cheaper than a lot of other beauty advent calendars out there and the mixture of sample sized products to full size is actually pretty well mixed. AND it goes up to Christmas Day, where a lot of others stop on Christmas Eve. I’ve still got three more windows to open, but seeing as I’ll be taking a little break over Christmas (and, you know, because when else can you use your Christmas tree as a photo backdrop?!) I thought I’d share my favourites with you now…

boots-no7-advent-calendar

boots-beauty-advent-calendar

Of all the products so far, these are the ones I have been using daily and will definitely be replacing once they’ve run out. In no particular order of favouritism, here’s what they are:

1. No7 Gel Look Shine Nail Varnish in Deep Wine: This could not be a more perfect product for me. I established around the time of my wedding that I actually can’t wear gels at all – within 48 hours of getting married my wedding manicure had all peeled off, and the ones I had after my honeymoon didn’t last much longer either. My toes are fine but my hands, it seems, are not so compatible (something to do with having oily skin, apparently!). So I love a good fake gel polish. This is one of my absolute favourite colours – I wear red all year round, but more so at Christmas time, obviously. At 4ml it’s not full size, but still big enough to get a fair few uses out of all the same.

2. No7 Nail Effects Nail Varnish in Disco Ball: Again, another great inclusion. Whether it’s fingers or toes you can’t really go wrong with sparkles, and this will definitely be making an appearance for New Year’s Eve.

3. No7 High Shine Lip Crayon in Daydreamer: I’m not much of a lipstick person on a day-to-day-basis, but this might mark the start of me trying a bit harder where that’s concerned. This is a generously sized sample that will last (me, at least) a long time and is the perfect nude shade – essentially it just enhances your natural lip colour and adds a bit of shine. Best part about it? It’s not sticky like lip gloss and doesn’t smudge like lipstick; it’s more the consistency of a lip balm, just a nicely coloured one.

4. No7 High Shine Lip Crayon in Delicate Pink: Again, another generously sized lip crayon. This one’s a light pink colour, with undertones of blue (great for making teeth look whiter, evidently!). I quite like how bold this is, so I’ve been building it up for a stronger look, but it can equally be used to create a more subtle hint of colour.

5. No7 Stay Precise Felt Tip Eyeliner: A full sized product that’s had so much use already that I’m having to ration myself in case it runs out over Christmas and I’m stuck without a replacement! The pigmentation is really strong and once it’s on there’s no smudging or flaking.

6. No7 Stay Perfect Metallic Eyes Pencil in Blackest: Contrary to the name, this is actually a very dark brown (yeah, I’m confused about that one too). I’ve been opting for brown eyeliners and mascaras for a while now; they’re slightly more subtle than black but still create that smoky effect perfectly. This has tiny flecks of silver glitter running through it, so is great for adding some sparkle to your eyes without going OTT. On the other end there’s a smudging brush, which is handy. The only thing I can’t work out is how to sharpen it – can you even sharpen a crayon?!

7. No7 Protect and Perfect Intense Night Cream: I adore the Protect and Perfect range, and at 25ml this is a pretty generous sample of face cream. I definitely believe the hype around this product; my skin certainly looks fresher and tighter when I use it, so it’s been nice to have a good quality night cream to treat my tired skin to in the run-up to Christmas.

8. No7 Skin Illuminator: At 10ml you’d be forgiven for thinking that this sample won’t last long. However, you’d be wrong – a tiny dollop of this goes a long, long way. The directions state to use under foundation for a ‘natural glow’ but seeing as I create my own glow on a daily basis anyway thanks to the wonder that is oily skin, I’ve been using this as more of a highlighter instead. Although not strictly a highlighter as such, when applied over blusher or just above the brows this does a fairly similar job by creating a nice subtle shimmer. Definitely one I’ll purchase in full size once it’s run out.

Despite there being the odd thing I wasn’t so fond of (eye make up remover, body lotion and shower creme, I’m looking at you here) and despite the fact that not one but TWO of the items were missing from this advent calendar (a mistake swiftly rectified by Boots when I contacted them), I will definitely be buying this one again next year.

Anyone else bought a beauty advent calendar this year? Got one you’d recommend me trying for next year? Or were you as disappointed as I was with the You Beauty offering this year?!

 

 

Barbara Daly BD Trade Secrets relaunch

If there’s one thing I fail at time and time again it’s the weekly food shop. Not because I don’t love food, but more because once I’m in the supermarket of choice the ratio of food to other, um, stuff that gets put in my trolley is roughly 20:80. What can I say, I’m easily distracted – especially, I’ve found, when there’s a beauty aisle or two to grab my attention before the food even begins.

One supermarket in particular where this occurs more than any other seems to be Tesco. Tesco are fast becoming known for their foray into the lifestyle market, and where fashion and beauty are concerned their finger is firmly on the pulse. Of their extensive beauty brand selection, one in particular is gaining headway in the beauty stakes. You may or may not have heard of Barbara Daly. Exclusive to Tesco, Barbara Daly is a mid-range brand, somewhere between Rimmel and L’Oreal, which offers affordable, quality products that are an alternative to some of the other brands stocking supermarket shelves currently.

My personal love affair with Barbara Daly started with the nail varnish selection (obviously) and over the years has grown to mascara, blusher and eyeliner. I’m ashamed to say, however, that it ended there. I’m a stickler for foundation and once I’ve found a good one I’ll rarely deviate – so when Beauty at Tesco sent me a few samples of the newly rebranded Barbara Daly collection, I was intrigued to see that it mostly consisted of facial products: an excellent excuse to get on with trying something completely new if ever there was one.

Under the new name, BD Trade Secrets, the brand has been refreshed and updated for the first time in its 16 year history. New formulas have been created and new packaging (although not too dissimilar from the old) devised. And the best part? The prices are still more than affordable.

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BD Trade Secrets Vital Skin Long Wear Foundation (in Vanilla Skin 4): With oily skin, I’m naturally dubious about the longevity of any foundation. But this is actually pretty good. Colour-wise, it’s a pretty good match for my natural skin, though it sat better when I was wearing a bit of fake tan. It blends well and has medium coverage, though can be built to a full coverage with a second layer. It covered most of my blemishes and red patches, which was impressive. And I love that it’s got SPF20 in it – I’m very fussy about skincare and always choose things with sunscreen in, so this will be noted for future reference!

BD Trade Secrets Luminescence Silk Primer: While I don’t use a primer on a daily basis, I do like to use a decent one for nights out or occasions when I want to make sure my make up stays put a little longer. This is a gel-based primer, which was new for me as I usually prefer a more liquid-based variety. The scent is a little overpowering – quite highly perfumed – and it does take a while to fully rub into the skin, but once it does it leaves skin nice and soft and absorbs any excess oil. I used this with the foundation above for a night out and found it prolonged its length of wear buy about 2 hours, which is actually pretty good for my skin.

BD Trade Secrets Face Lift: Of all the products, this was the one I was least taken with. This is a tinted gel-cream that’s designed to give the skin a moisture boost and enhance your natural glow, but unfortunately it just didn’t work for me. The packaging suggests swapping your regular daytime moisturiser for this to “illuminate” your skin, but I just ended up more looking more shiny than normal. This would be great for anyone who suffers a dull complexion at this time of year (and again, the SPF10 is a bonus) or has particularly dry skin but for me it was a definite no-no.

BD Trade Secrets Dream Shine Highlighter: I LOVE a good highlighter. I had a H&M one a few years back that was the absolute best but sadly since then I’ve never been able to find anything quite as good. This, however, is a strong new contender. I applied a few dots of this to my cheekbones immediately after my foundation (but before my blusher) and blended it in with my fingertips and it really perked up my complexion. It’s not one for every day use, but this will definitely be great over the Christmas/New Year period when I’m taking make up from day to night.

BD Trade Secrets Looooong Laaaaash Mascara: I’m not exaggerating, that’s really how it’s spelt. This has got to be the the longest mascara brush I’ve ever come across. At first I was miffed by it – and then I got it; no more will I ever get any weird mascara smudges anywhere else on my face again! The brush is so long that it actually gives you better control over your application – especially those bottom lashes. I didn’t find the formula of the mascara to be particularly amazing, but it makes a great base coat for my regular mascara and is excellent for building spidery, Twiggy-esque bottom lashes (my all-time fave), so I probably will re-purchase this once it’s all gone.

BD Trade Secrets Velvet Cream Lipstick in Runway: My absolute favourite product – and I’m not even a lipstick kinda girl. Usually all about the eyes, I decided to road test this on a lunch date with family last week and received so many compliments that I’m currently plucking up the courage to start wearing it on a more regular basis. As the name suggests, the formula is creamy and easy to apply. It leaves a nice shine to the lips and doesn’t dry them out or make them flaky. And it has great staying power – I applied this at 10.30 in the morning and it was still there 3 hours, a ham sandwich and 2 lattes later.

 

If you fancy trying any of the new BD Trade Secrets range then you can find it stocked in most larger Tesco stores, or there is a small selection online here.

I was kindly gifted all of the products above by Beauty at Tesco. As ever, though, all thoughts, opinions and attempts at humour are all my own. I would never feature something here that I wouldn’t buy in real life or recommend to a friend.