Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Sammy's Monthly Favourites (July/August)

This month has all been about beauty and skincare for me and so you lucky lot get 4 beauty favourites and 1 skincare. I've tried to make these as summery as possible, but I don't want to just list beauty items that are summer appropriate because I want these to actual be my favourite things, so, here they are.



This is a really lovely little palette that I just couldn't resist picking up when I saw it in Superdrug, especially at only £7.99. The colours are really pigmented (I'll do swatches in a later post dedicated to this palette) and the only dud I found was "Bow" the palest pink, but this might just be that it's difficult to see on my pale skin. I normally stick to nude palettes, but I've found these to be really wearable, both during the day and on a day out. I've found sleek palettes to be worth their cost, and they really hold their own up against some much more expensive palettes.



This is described as an "Ultra-nourishing body balm" and that's really fitting to what it is. It's a thick, creamy balm that soaks in quickly with a really lovely smell (it smells exactly like refresher sweets). I ended up owning this as it was part of my British Beauty Blogger edit box, but a 15ml version will only set you back £4 and it's well worth it. Currently I'm using it for my knees and elbows before fake tanning, but in the winter I'll be using it on my cracked hands and any other dry patches of skin. This is a cheap, all year round beauty staple that I'll be adding to my make-up bag.



I'm really fussy about mascara, I like my eyelashes to be perfectly separated, jet black and with absolutely no clumps. I've used mascara that's set me back well over £10 that I've thrown away after just a few uses, but this is one that is definitely in my top five. The cost? £2.49. It does exactly what it says, defines eyelashes with no clumps, and in this colour "Ultra Black" it really is a perfect jet black colour. The plastic brush is a nice touch, as well, I much prefer the plastic brushes in terms of separating eyelashes. This might be a short lived craze, but for now this is definitely my one and only.



I'm pretty sure everyone that comes across this will have tried a Barry M nail varnish at some point, and for the price I feel like they're really worth stocking up on a variety of colours (especially when they're on offer, they're quite often on 3 for 2). I got this as my third colour in a 3 for 2 deal, so all three cost me £5.98. This isn't a colour I'd usually go for, I opted for "grey" and "raspberry" as my other two colours, but I've actually been wearing it quite often. It's a bright, Barbie pink. perfect for a pop of colour and I'll definitely be keeping this near the top of my nail varnish box through the rest of Summer.



I don't tend to use liquid foundation, I have quite oily skin so I tend to find it makes me look really  shiny, but I ran out of make-up and saw this in Asda so bought it for £4. I've actually been really impressed with the new George. cosmetics (you can see me talking about their lip tints here), and this didn't let me down. It settles nicely into skin without exaggerating imperfections and has a light coverage which lasts most of the day even in hot weather (I have been using benefit's porefessional underneath, though). The thing I'm most impressed with though? Colour match. This is the first foundation I've been really pleased with the colour match of, and you can see why on the photograph on the right, above the swatch is the applied product. It's literally invisible on my skin. I'm loving George. products at the moment, if you haven't already tried them, I highly recommend picking some up next time you're at your local Asda.

If you try any of these, make sure to comment and let me know what you think! 

Sammy xo.



Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Shiro Pigment Swatches

I've loved Shiro cosmetics for a really long time. Like other tumblr users, I was first attracted by the witty, relatable names ("bitterly cyberstalking your ex" is a personal favourite) but, although I'd read some views that suggested to the contrary, I really worried this would be novelty make-up as opposed to good quality. Still, a few weeks ago I decided to bite the bullet and order 5 sample baggies of different pigments from Shiro.


The top photograph is with flash and the bottom is without (both have my gross microdermal in, sorry about that...). I feel like the bottom show the colours closest to their true selves, the shimmer in the pigments isn't as pronounced as the top photograph, they're just a nice added bonus when you find yourself standing under a strong light .

From left to right these swatches are for "eye contact", "lingered in twilight", "huntress", "chimera" and "star crossed"

Out of the five, I was least impressed with eye contact. All five were applied slightly damp and I still found eye contact, although well pigmented, really sheer and difficult to build up. This might suit some people but it's left me with a colour that's not subtle enough for every day wear, yet not in your face enough for special occasions. The hot pink shimmer isn't unpleasant but I feel like it might be difficult to make it effectively wearable. Next is lingered in twilight, a really pretty colour not unlike smash cosmetics "absinthe" (a sort of black with a really deep forest green shimmer). In contrast to eye contact, this is highly pigmented AND super easy to build up. Although dark, the green gives it a wearable edge, and the colour spectrum in the pigment means it can be worn alone. Next is huntress, a really gorgeous pigmented silver shade that can be built up, but doesn't need to be. It's more grey than white, giving it the edge over a "traditional" silver. Personally I'll be using this as a base, but it's a lovely blendable pigment so it has a whole range of possibilities. Finally chimera and star crossed. Up close and personal, these colours are actually pretty similar. They're dark bronze colours with a gorgeous, subtle shimmer, although chimera has silver undertones whereas star crossed is more gold, both are really lovely autumn colours and, again, really pigmented.

The pigments do have a fair amount of fallout, but even taking the fallout into consideration, you need the tiniest bit for a real shot of colour, and so you really do only use a the tiniest bit at a time. These are only the $1 1/4 tsp sample baggies and I don't see myself running out any time soon, so I expect that the full sized pots would last you months.

On one last note I have to say I absolutely love their website. It feels personal to Caitlin herself, and that makes it a delight to browse and buy from. There are little parts of her personality everywhere from the collections themselves (based on things ranging from the hobbit to pokemon) to the little notes about delivery on checkout (if you order make sure to actually read these because they really tickled me). All in all, the pigments are lovely and the site is one of my all time favourites to browse through. They're definitely a company I will undoubtedly be buying from again in the future, this is both make-up and geekery at their best. 

Sammy xo
Sunday, 28 July 2013

Figs & Rouge Cherry Blossom

Anyone who read our June Glossybox post will know that I tried Figs and Rouge lip balm in Coco-Rose and I just... despised it. I love the packaging, I loved the colour and the shimmer and the way it made my lips taste but I could not get over the taste which was just like biting into paracetamol and it literally made me heave.



However, I wanted to love the company and so I found myself ordering the Cherry Blossom version of the lip balm. I thought all that needed to be sorted was the taste, so logically the Cherry Blossom would have everything I loved about Coco Rose only with a nice taste, but I was a little disappointed. The taste is ten million times better and tastes for all the world like red powerade, but there is no sheen to the lip tint, one of the things I loved about Coco Rose. The packaging is sweet, but not as retro as Coco Rose and the texture is a lot more like jelly, making it much harder to apply especially using the tube straight onto the lip.

I will be trying the Mocha Orange version, because I really want to find one of these products that I love everything about, but I can't help feeling like between these two I have to pick between the look and ease of use of the products and the taste, because neither product has all three aspects, at least not in my opinion.

I love this company, but none of their lip tints so far have captured my heart quite like I wished they would. Watch this space, I'll review the mocha orange version as soon as I get the chance to try it.

Sammy xo
Friday, 26 July 2013

Vaseline Spray & Go Body Moisturiser

I'm a moisturiser junkie, no doubt about it. I tend to buy any that are on offer, and that means that I usually have drawers and drawers full of bottles I've used literally once. Having said that, I couldn't just walk past when I saw Vaseline Spray & Go (£4.99/190ml and only available in Boots for the time being.) There are three different types Essential Moisture, Cocoa Radiant and Aloe Fresh. I tried Aloe Fresh and Cocoa Radiant but I wasn't keen on the smell of Aloe Fresh, so I settled for Cocoa Radiant instead.


I quite like the can, the whole design and idea makes it seems much more extravagant than the original moisturiser designs (which are still available). I wasn't entirely keen on the whole idea of the product though, I was worried getting the right amount of product would be difficult and it would either leave parts of me unmoisturised or it would be greasy and much too thick. I needn't have worried though, the spray distributes fairly evenly and goes on quite thin and watery (see the above right picture) and can literally be rubbed in straight away to leave no grease or residue (bottom right picture). It definitely lives up to the idea of spray and go, because although I can still feel it on my skin, it just feels soft and not "sticky" like other moisturisers (even the bottle version of this moisturiser, in fact.)

All in all, this is a call between whether you'd rather have ease or more money in your pocket. In my mind, there's absolutely no doubt that this is a more convenient product, after your shower you can spray and put your pyjamas straight on, in fact you could even do it before leaving to go out without worrying about your skin uncomfortably sticking to the residue, however it is more expensive than the traditional bottle version (which is £2.99/200ml), however I'm more than willing to spend that extra £2 just for the convenience.

Sammy xo
Wednesday, 24 July 2013

OXY

Ok, I'll say it; I'm a spotty teenager. Not so much now that I've started taking better care of my skin, and making sure I actually take all my make up off at night, but I still have more breakouts than I care to admit to. A few weeks ago, I felt like literally nothing was helping to get my skin clear, and so I emailed OXY asking if they had any samples I might be able to try to see if they'd help me get celebrity skin (or, I'd settle for just non-spotty). They very kindly sent me back some of their products, much to my delight.


Let's start with the Clear Pore Exfoliant. This is great, and like I've said before, I absolutely love a gritty exfoliator and this is definitely one. It comes out quite liquid-ey with a sand like texture, it's rough on the skin but it does really clear away any dead skin. It's too rough to use every day, but I've been using it every other day which seems to be working for me. I've then been following this with the Fresh Skin Wash. This is much more if a gel formula than the Clear Pore Exfoliant, but it does also have exfoliating beads in. This is soft enough to use every day, and it almost buffs my skin to a soft shiny level. Finally, the Deep Calm Balm, a moisturiser that again includes exfoliating beads.

Essentially, I've been swapping between a three step routine and a two step routine every other day (the exfoliant definitely isn't gentle enough to use every day) and it really seems to be having a positive effect. Whereas I've had some issues with clean and clear and clearasil in the past (I literally felt like I'd had a chemical peel with some of the products from the former), OXY's range is gentle enough that you can use at least one of the products every day, but effective enough that (touch wood) it actually does seem to be keeping breakouts at bay. Although there are 2 other products in the range (The Emergency Spot Treatment Gel and the Clearlight -Light Device) I would say just buy the three mentioned above if you're unsure, they work perfectly together and at £5.99 a piece you definitely aren't breaking the bank.

My one criticism would be I've been using the Calm Balm much more than the exfoliant, and so it irks me a little that the Calm Balm is in a smaller bottle. Admittedly though, I do probably use less of the balm each time so it evens out quite nicely. 

If you're looking for a spot treatment I can't recommend OXY enough, I'd even say buy it and use it as a daily routine, I've never had skin so soft and shiny. Plus, it's "natural skin science", which is never a bad thing.

Sammy xo

P.S. Although I received these products free as samples from OXY they were not in return for a review, the opinions above are mine and mine alone and were in no way influence by OXY, swear down.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Lush Volcano Foot Mask

Lush is one of those shops I seem to go in not looking for anything in particular and yet I still come out with at least £10's worth of products the staff convinced me that I couldn't live without. To clarify, their Volcano Foot Mask was one of these products. I love face masks, and so the idea of a foot mask intrigued me and the staff member helping me pick which foot product was best for me couldn't give it high enough praise (really, it was like she was being paid for it or something...). In the end, my curiosity won out and I ended up walking out of the shop with a pot that I had convinced myself that I simply needed in my life. In my defence it was only £5.75 (for 125ml) and I have paid more for worse products in lush in the past.

 

Amongst an array of natural ingredients the foot mask boasts pumice, papaya, china clay, tomatoes and potatoes. It's gritty to the touch (presumably the pumice) and when applying I found there to be tiny pieces of red peel (presumably the tomato). It's quite thick in texture, easily thick enough to cover the tattoo on my foot to the point that you can't see it with just one layer. The packaging says to cover your entire foot and then wrap it in plastic, the girl in the shop told me sandwich bags are enough to keep it from drying out so that's what I used. Granted, I looked stupid for the ten minutes I left it on, but it gave me a hell of a lot of amusing snapchats to send to people.

The sensation of the foot mask is something I can only compare to eating a mint and then breathing in winter air, that tingly, cold type of feeling. I used a pumice stone on my feet first and the gritty texture of the mask really got rid of all of the dead skin, so when I washed it off my feet were smooth, and stayed tingly for a good half hour afterwards.

Overall, this probably is something I could have lived without, but it's really nice to use and I love the feeling of it, both during and after use. It's a nice luxury to have there after a hard day at work, especially if (like mine) your work involves you being on your feet and running up and down stairs all day, and knowing all Lush products are animal testing free is nice for your conscience. I'd definitely say buy this, even if it's just to amuse your friends with photos of you with grey feet tucked neatly into sandwich bags. 

Sammy xo.
Sunday, 21 July 2013

Lipcote

First of all I feel like I should say, I tend to favour lip stain over lipstick mostly because I am horrendously lazy and I really hate the idea of constantly reapplying to maintain a decent coverage. This is primarily the reason I'm so obsessed with lipstick sealer, and so when I came across lipcote for £1.19 I couldn't resist (It's normally £3.99)

 

I've also managed to pick up a couple (more like 5. Or 7.) of lipsticks lately, and so I couldn't have bought lipcote at a better time. First things first, the tube. It's fairly nice, if a little cheap looking with a plastic gold cap and the name blazoned across the front. I don't hate the packaging, but the product inside is a weird cloudy colour instead of being crystal clear, and I think I'd like the whole idea of lipcote better if I couldn't actually see that (it's just a bit... dirty looking). You get 7ml for £3.99, and in fairness I don't think that's a bad price seeing as you can seal both lips using just the amount on one "dip". I have to say this though; it smells and tastes like nail varnish remover. I know that looking back through my posts I come across as a little anal about smells and tastes but if it's something I'm putting on my face, or more specifically my lips, I want it to taste like something I could eat. The nail varnish remover taste is disgusting but it does wear off pretty much as soon as the product has dried, so small mercies. Whilst drying, the product suggests you don't press your lips together, so you can look a bit weird and your lips feel sticky but it dries after about 10 seconds, so it's worth dealing with; especially if it will stop me having to reapply lipstick in some skanky club toilets in Liverpool city centre at three in the morning.

 Does it work? Well this entirely depends on whether or not you plan to eat whilst you're wearing it. It works in the sense that if I rub my lips it takes much more to remove my lipstick (although it's still pretty easily removable) and it doesn't really leave a lipstick mark on the side of my glass, but if you eat? Everything goes rapidly downhill. I found after eating my lipstick kind of... clumps, and flakes off in tiny pieces. It looks even worse wearing off than if I hadn't worn anything over the top of my lipstick in the first place. I think this is a really helpful make-up tool to have, especially if you plan on going out only to drink (it also stops lipsticks coming uncapped in your bag and smooshing itself all over your phone and purse), but if you're eating, best just to back away and stick with a lip stain. If you do use it and go eating, expect to be reapplying lipcote just as much as you usually reapply lipstick. 

 Sammy xo
Thursday, 18 July 2013

STEAMCREAM

I hadn't heard much about STEAMCREAM until I stumbled upon it completely by chance, but when I started researching it seemed that literally no one had anything bad to say about it and it was seemingly barging lesser products out of it's way to claim it's rightful place as a cult body, face and hand product. I'll be the first to admit, the idea of cult products makes me suspicious; I just find it really strange that so many people can all agree so wholeheartedly on one product (just for it to fall out of favour to a completely different, but remarkably similar, one a few months later). Still, I dubiously sent them an email asking a few questions and to see if I would be able to get a sample, and they happily sent me a tin. 

First of all, we need to talk packaging. I hate to be so obviously fickle, but packaging  can make or break a product for me. This is one thing absolutely nobody can fault STEAMCREAM on. They sent me "Freedom And Discipline" (an ode to the cream's British beginnings) which you can see below, but there are literally tons to choose from, depicting everything from star signs to clowns. However, here comes the first hi-we're-not-your-usual-company sign. The product in the tins is exactly the same, and it's the only product that they sell. That's right, one product in (at the time of writing) 61 different tins. At first, this struck me as strange, but the more I think about it the more it actually seems really clever, it's reminiscent of obsessive pokemon card collecting in primary school, and it makes me want to snap up each type and put them on display.


The second thing I feel like I should talk about is the company ethics. I know this makes me sound somewhat uncaring, but I don't tend to go out of my way to buy vegan products (I know a fair amount of people are becoming this way inclined) however, it does make me really happy to see I have stumbled across a product that is approved by the vegan society. Reading into the company ethics though, it gets more important, they're valiantly against animal testing, so much so that they won't buy off companies that partake in animal testing, even if the ingredients they would be buying off them aren't actually tested on animals. Fairly impressive, I think you'll agree.

Now, onto the cream. The company calls the making of the cream a "recipe" as opposed to a "formula" and I quite like that, it suggests if you were that way inclined you might be able to recreate it at home (ok, maybe not...) The cream boasts an impressive array of natural materials such as orange flower water, oatmeal and vegetable glycerine, as well as almond oil and cocoa butter (all fresh and traceable ingredients). The cream itself is almost watery in how thin it is, which confused me a little at first, but when you start using it, it quickly becomes clear that this helps it soak in quickly and it leaves next to no grease lingering on the skin (yay, no fingerprints left on my phone screen!) It's nourishing, relaxing and (seeing as you have to use almost none of it at a time because of it's consistency) I'd imagine, really long lasting. Plus the tins are recyclable (or you can fill them with earrings and bobby pins after use like I plan on doing). The one bad thing I feel like I should mention about the product is the smell, which kind of smells like sudocrem with a hint of lavender, however after a few days solid use I've even come to like that (I had a rough day yesterday, and you can't imagine how soothing the smell of lavender can be!)

All in all, I really didn't expect to like STEAMCREAM, but I think I'll definitely be paying the £12.95 to replace my tin (with a different design though, right now I'm loving jam jar) when it eventually runs out. For those of you new to the product, or just needing to replace your own the website currently has a few different sets- The Ibiza Collection, The Escapes Collection, The Tropical Collection and The British Collection- where you can actually nab two pots for £18, which is a bargain if I ever heard one. This is a cream I imagine I'll be an avid user of for the foreseeable future, I genuinely haven't been able to get enough.

Sammy xo

p.s. If you don't already follow us, you now can do on bloglovin'

p.p.s. This product was received in view of me trying it and giving it a review, this in no way affects my opinion of the product and all opinions expressed in this piece are mine and are not influenced in any way by the STEAMCREAM company. Just in case you were wondering.


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Dermalogica Facial Treatment (mini review)

Okay, so this morning (Tuesday 16th July 2013 11am) I went for my first ever Dermalogica "facial". In the last few years I admit I have completely fallen out of the habit, and kind of out of love, with beauty treatments. I know exactly what you're thinking - a beauty blogger who doesn't show much interest in beauty treatments, what?! So I'm going to stop you right there. Calm down, there's no need to panic or start doubting my sanity or whatever. I am a seriously girly girl. I love any kind of R&R, getting glammed up being pampered etc. I just had a few dodgy salon experiences, plus when money is a bit tight I'd rather spend and splurge on something like a new makeup product. So when my step-mum came home all excited last week to tell me that our local salon was doing half price Dermalogica facials (just on a tuesday, some kind of promotional offer), I admit I was more than a little bit skeptical. But my aunty uses dermalogica, plus I'd seen some comments on the internet from you guys about it so I thought I'd put my name down.

I arrived just before 11 and the receptionist sat me down with a survey literally longer than my arm to fill out. I don't really like giving the ins and outs of my life out on forms but I thought, they obviously need the details for something, so I'll just fill it in and reserve judgement. The survey is actually your customer card. It takes note of things like your current skincare routine, lifestyle, allergies, types of medications, and what their habits are. I found out later that this is so the skincare specialist doing your facial can design your treatment specifically to you, so that you get the most out of it and so that they can avoid any problems or areas of hypersensitivity.

So I was led into a small treatment room at the back of the shop, where the specialist told me to drop down the straps of my top and get into the bed (under the covers, on one of the hottest days of the year...). She came back a few minutes after, and had a chat with me about how I felt generally about my skin. What my main areas of concern where and which kind of products I was using. She also examined my skin, in depth. I was told that my forehead was quite dehydrated, and the patches of redness I get on my cheeks are actually because I use a cleanser and toner that's too harsh for my skin type. I was under the impression that I had oily skin and therefore should be using a cleanser and face wash specifically for oily skin. This is actually incorrect, and as I only have an oily T-zone, I don't need such a product.

 The specialist didn't actually tell me what she'd be doing to my skin, so unfortunately I can't go into too much detail about what happened in the next hour and a half. This did nothing to ease how skeptical I was. However, after just a few minutes under her touch I was the most relaxed that I have ever been. She started off with some inhalation techniques, cupping her fragranced hands over my face and encouraging deep breathing. To be perfectly honest I kind of zoned out not long after this. There was a lot of cleansing and massaging of the face, shoulders and neck.The first part of the treatment was done under steam, which was very pleasant, and even though I was practically in another world I was aware of the specialist using different kinds of products on different areas of my face; adding and removing cleansers, oils, masques, exfoliaters and many more things I'm sure. She did tell me that she had mixed together two different types of face masks to make the perfect blend for my skin type, and as she applied this I became aware of a pleasant tingling sensation all over my face. She then quietly told me that she was leaving me under the face mask for 10 minutes and then she'd be back. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep at this point, it was honestly the most chilled out I've ever felt in my whole life. By the time the treatment was finished (90 minutes long), even the 5 minute walk home was a struggle as I felt so relaxed I could have just slept the whole afternoon. I left the salon with my skin feeling as though it had been cleaned right down to the pores. It was the softest I think it's been in about 10 years, and had a visible glow despite me being so sleepy! I was also given a pouch of sample products suited to me, to try out. All this for just £20 (I know it was an offer but still) really was an unbelievable bargain. I would definitely pay full price for this treatment if I had the money, and could not recommend it highly enough. My skin feels amazing and even 10 hours later I'm still so relaxed I think I'll get into bed now! Check your local salons to see if this is available near you - I love it.

B xxo
Saturday, 13 July 2013

Nextgen Nails

 Anyone who follows our instagram (if you don't , shameless plug, follow us here) will know that about a fortnight ago I got Nextgen nails done. I'm normally an acrylics type of girl, because I love the cheap shop where you can get them done in Liverpool and also because ... Ok, I'll just admit it, I love having prinny nails. Girly nails just make you feel better, take it from me.


This time, though, a friend convinced me I should go nextgen instead , a kind of gel (not unlike Shellac) that covers your nail, whilst infusing it with nutrients that help it grow. I'll admit, I was dubious but I agreed and settled for white tips and a baby pink polish (essentially forming a high end acrylic but, you know... without the acrylic). Now I've had my nails done many a time so I don't normally pay attention , but this was very different and kind of fascinating. First, she added a plastic white tip, clipped it to size, buffed and filed my nails; so far, so normal. Now came the strange bit, out came a tiny pot of baby pink powder, my nail was covered in a mystery liquid dipped in the powder and the excess was shaken off. More mystery liquid, more powder, then one more time, then more buffing, and a topcoat. Not what I was expecting , but ... Well I was impressed, to begin with. (The picture above is taken on my iphone right after I got them done, to show how gel like they actually looked.)

 The result was glossy and did actually look like a thick gel, but was tough to the touch. It was even, of the colour I'd picked the tips were quite obvious in a way that they never are with acrylics, but that was mainly due to the colour I'd picked. The novelty ran off pretty quickly though, along with the sheen off the top , which seemed to flake off in patches after a few days. Although the edges Didn't chip like my acrylics have done in the past, they just looked a bit ... Tatty from about a week in , and I didn't lose them long after (I can get closer to a month out of acrylics, even when I'm in work.)

 All in all , although they were a poorer quality than acrylics , when they came off my nails actually were longer, and they weren't brittle and broken like they usually are post acrylics. Next time I might hang up my princess nails addiction and try getting nextgen powdered straight onto my nails (but I really doubt I'll be getting rid of my acrylics forever!!)

 Nextgen and tips isn't something I'd reccomend over acrylic nails, but in terms of vs shellac I'd say go for the nextgen, when it comes off your nails will be better than ever (results may vary...)   

Sammy xo

pssst, did you know that now you can follow us using bloglovin'?
Thursday, 11 July 2013

Garnier Summerbody Gradual Tan

As someone who doesn't tan, in the summer months of school when tights were thrown out in favour of white ankle socks, I became a leper. Milk bottle legs? Turns out it's pretty hard to make them into a fashion statement, no matter how hard I tried every year. So, from about year nine, gradual tan became my best friend every single year in the summer term. Since leaving school, I'd all but forgotten about this loyal friend, only in the spirit of heading out to Spain I decided to grab a bottle, take it on holiday with me, and dupe everyone into believing this honey coloured skin was just a natural effect of the Andalusian sun. 

I just happened to grab the cheapest one I could find, which ended up being Garnier Summerbody in "light sunkissed look". I haven't actually been using it, because in typical me style I completely forgot (turns out there's an identical unopened bottle left in the wardrobe that I brought with me last time) but today I've been giving it a fair chance (after testing it on my wrist with the appropriate amount of suspicion yesterday.)

It goes on as a white , sweet smelling lotion, and the extract of apricot that the bottle boasts is really apparent (it smelt for all the world like peach petits filous). It's not as quick drying as other gradual tans I've tried in the past, 45 minutes after application it was still slightly sticky, but this was probably only so noticeable as I applied it in the day rather than before I went to bed like I normally would.

I was pleased to find that it didn't come off on my pale blue dress, even though I was pretty careless with it, so staying power is good, as is its non-staining abilities making it perfect for going to bed and not staining the sheets.

On my wrist the tan took about 4 hours to be fully noticeable, which is a fairly quick development time, and, although fairly subtle, you can definitely see the line between my tanned swatch patch and the rest of my arm.


I'd imagine that it would be pretty easy to build up, it seems none streaky on the tiny patch that I've used (EDIT; The morning after and my legs are majorly streaky.) and although it has a slightly biscuity smell now it's starting to dry, I don't feel like I smell like a digestive like I do with other false tans I've tried (I'm looking at you, St. Tropez).

All in all, if you're pale and just want a natural looking, subtle tan, I'd say forget the Fake Bake and head down to your local boots to get some garner for a fraction of the price (£2.55/250ml!), but don't expect miracles, you might be attempting to fill in the streaks this time tomorrow.What gradual or fake tans have you had that worked (or didn't work!) for you?

Sammy xo

p.s. you can now follow us on bloglovin'



Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Monthly Favorites (June)


Hola guyssss! Just a quick note before this post to apologize for it's lateness! Muchos technical difficulties have presented themselves over the past few days - damn electronics. So yeah, sorry for the delay. I hope you enjoy this now it's finally here. B xxo

QUICK FIX BRIGHTENING PEEL FACE MASK
So the first thing I want to say about this product is that it was an absolute bargain. I'm pretty sure it was about £1.49 and it was definitely a £1.49 well spent. It says that you get 10 applications in the tube, which I think is pretty good. I've used it 4 times so far and it still feels like there's a lot left in it. I absolutely love doing face masks, and I'm always looking for new ones. I bought this primarily because of the claim that it would brighten my skin (and the price, of course). The packaging claims that this product helps with uneven skin tone, which is a big issue for me. Anything that can help, will automatically have my approval. I must say I was skeptical because it was such a bargain, but after just 4 applications I have noticed a difference to my skin. I'm so impressed with the speed at which this product has taken affect. It smells amazing (papaya, mmm) and I love that it peels off after just 15 minutes. Big thumbs up from me!

SANCTUARY SPA ESSENTIALS BODY SCRUB
I should stop and tell you now that I am probably one of the biggest ever fans of Sanctuary products. I just absolutely love them. I must say that I don't actually buy them very often, but that's just because they last forever, and I often get gifted them at Christmas or birthdays. The thing I wouldn't be without at the moment, is the body scrub. I have this in full sized and miniature and it is just amazing. It leaves your skin feeling fresh and exfoliated but it isn't so harsh that you can't use it daily. It also smells beautiful. I just love love love everything about it!

LANCOME TEINT IDOLE ULTRA 24 HOUR WEAR FOUNDATION
I don't want to say too much about this foundation here because I do have a full review of it coming up, but I recently purchased it (my first high end foundation in a long time) and I could not love this more. It's just amazing. The claim that it lasts 24 hours is pretty accurate, yet it doesn't feel heavy on the skin which is just amazing. It leaves me with such a flawless finish. It just slides on with such a beautiful effect and the lady at the Lancome counter colour matched me so this does look pretty perfect on. I'm so happy with it!

LIPTON PEACH ICED TEA
Last but by no means least is my most random favourite of the month. I adore this drink. It's one of those things that I go through faces of drinking nothing but, and then kind of forgetting about for a while. This month I have discovered it again and it is just the perfect refreshing summer beverage. Yummy.

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Yep, that's right; we're really pleased to let you know you can now follow us using bloglovin'.
(sorry we're a bit late to the party.)

- S & B xo.

Homemade Sugar Scrub

In the spirit of blogging , I've found myself following the crowd and spent one afternoon early in the week making ... This .


Looks so gross, right? I know. But hear me out on this one. This is my very own homemade sugar scrub, and I was shocked by how easy it was to make . I'm not normally very thrifty, so homemade sugar scrub is probably something I would have just scrolled past if I was at home, but instead I'm in the middle of rural Spain, and exfoliator (or a decent exfoliator in any case) is nigh on impossible to find. So, in the spirit of getting a non streaky fake tan, I set about finding a recipe that used components I'd be able to find in a village that doesn't even sell make-up. After reading through a couple of online recipes, I found out the basic components were just olive oil and brown sugar. Ok, that I could do. So, I set about making it, with the help of some diluted lemon juice (to help counteract the smell of the brown sugar which is, well... Rank.)

I won't lie it wasn't successful , I mean sure it worked , but the smell made me want to retch, and I'd added way too much oil, I found myself having to drain it every time I went to use it.

Ok, time for round two. This time I used about equal parts of white and brown sugar (probably more white , I ran out of brown not so far in, but it was pretty close to half and half), the addition of the white sugar took the edge off the horrible smell. To this I added enough lemon juice  to cover the sugar and about 5 capfuls of olive oil. When this soaked in, about a quarter of the sugar had dissolved away so I mixed in more sugar and added a tiny bit of water and a few more capfuls of oil (if you feel like you've added too much water it's pretty easy to drain off) and I ended up with the picture above.

Ok it looked gross but so does a streaky tan, so I gave it a fair go. I have to say , it works. I'm keen on quite a rough exfoliator and this is one, more so than a shop bought one. It really works, so much so I'm considering swapping it out for my regular soap and glory flake away when I get home.

If I made it at home in England, I'd probably use all white sugar, add some food colouring and maybe a mint or vanilla essence to achieve a nice smell, but even my gross looking, dubious smelling one does the job so well, it's worth putting up with .

Have you ever made any DIY cosmetics or skincare? If not , why not give it a try?

Sammy xo


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Spanish Haul

It seems not even taking me to a foreign country, where they don't sell make-up except in big towns and where I don't speak the language, can stop me from getting some beauty steals! So, here's my Spanish haul.


Lips
Excuse my less-than-blemish-free skin.


I managed to pick up both flormar supermatte lipstick in "202", a creamy orangey coral colour, and Catrice colour infusion lip stain in"Meet Mrs Roosevelt" a gorgeous raspberry coloured lip stain that has some serious staying power (and tastes delicious!)
I paid €3.70 for the flormar lipstick in their sale and €4.49 for the lip stain. As far as I'm aware neither of these brands are available in England (although pretty please inform me if you know otherwise!) but both are definitely worth a gander at if you're off to Europe this Summer, especially at such cheap prices ! 

Eyes and Cheeks



I also managed to snag some eyeshadows, Catrice's "Absolute Nude" Eyeshadow Palette and their limited edition Mountain Baked Siberian Call eyeshadow in "Rose's Wood".
Siberian Call is a gorgeous marbelled eyeshadow, a bronze coloured base with glittery deep brown veins. The swatch is the brown on the bottom left picture. It goes on darker than I'd imagined, but the pigment is good and I can't really complain for €4.29. I don't even have words for how pleased I was to buy the absolute nude palette. It's not unlike a smaller version of MUA'a "Heaven and Earth", you can see my swatches on the top right of the photo collage above. The colours range from a soft peachy nude to a dark brown, all are slightly glimmery (even though some are supposed to be matte), pigmentation isn't great but the whole thing cost me €4.99, so I'm far from disappointed. It also comes with a handy little two sided applicator in case you, say... I don't know... go on holiday and accidentally forget all your make-up brushes.
I also got essence's ballerina backstage blush soufflé in "prima ballerina". It's soft and smooth rather than the mousse I expected but the colour is really sweet, easy to build up and stays put all day. The swatch is the final pinky colour in the bottom left. Again I don't think essence is available in England but if you can find one of these €2.99 blushes, I suggest you stock up.

Nails
Finally, I managed to pick up some gorgeous nail varnishes , all of which I got for €2.


The flormar nail varnishes in "359" and "LS07" are gorgeous, but a lot lighter than I'd imagined, LS07 is a lot more orangey in my swatch than it looks in the bottle and 359 definitely seems more like a top coat than the shimmering white I had expected. The NYC is "Perfect Day", not far from "Park Ave" which you can pick up in England, but I couldn't resist for the price. I fell in love with the colour and it's opaque in two coats.
All swatches are on plain white paper, I wanted to do them on my nails but there was no way I was painting over my acrylic tips!

It's pretty frustrating I can't get these brands at home, particularly Catrice (I can't get over how long lasting their lip stain is) and essence (their blush soufflé is to die for) but these are definitely brands to look out for when you visit Europe.

Not a bad haul considering I spent less than €25!

Sammy xo
Friday, 5 July 2013

Sammy's monthly favourites (June/July)

Being a self-confessed sucker when it comes to new beauty products (or rather new anything), my favourite things change regularly , but here are a few things I've been really impressed with this month.

That's right, deliciously creamy milka chocolate encased between two biscuits that normally have a soft cheese filling. I know, it sounds so disgusting, but please stay with me here. With salted caramel being the new designer dessert component to be seen eating, salt and sweet have never been such a good pairing and this weird chocolate is the perfect balance of salted crunchy biscuits and sweet milky chocolate. Although milka can't tell me when this will be available in the uk, it's worth keeping an eye out for (and getting people to bring back as a present from Europe). Just give me the benefit of the doubt here!

A classic, favoured by such stars as Kylie Minogue. It's available in about 4 different types but I'm currently using the hydronourishing version. This would be lovely for dehydrated skin but does make my oily skin quite shiny (but this problem is my fault for assuming they only do one type and grabbing it off the shelf without checking). Having said that, it has a lovely, fresh smell to it and it great to use as a cold cream to take your make-up off, or just as a thick night moisturiser. A pot can literally last about 6 months and they're really reasonably priced (£4.49 for 50ml). So go on: consider it an investment in your skin.

These are one of those washlet things that have recently appeared in armies on our supermarket shelves. I hate the idea of using them as they're intended but I have been using them for cosmetic reasons. After I ran out of makeup wipes the night we arrived in Spain I used one to take off my makeup. I wouldn't reccomend them for that, their ability to take off waterproof mascara is essentially non existent however if you run them over your skin after you take your makeup off they leave your skin lovely and smooth (and they take off any makeup you might have missed in your laziness, not that that's something that's ever happened to me). Plus they're cheap, available everywhere and they smell really fresh and lovely.

One of the best books I've read this year (and then reread this summer). It's a thriller about a woman with amnesia, and it puts the reader in the odd position of knowing more than the main character. Definitely worth a read, I was captivated until the very end! Download it for your ipad, kindle or buy a hard copy and take it on your holidays (or just read it at home, in bed!) 
Thursday, 4 July 2013

Hi guys!

Just a quick note to let everyone know what's happening over here. As you can see our post on what we thought of Glossybox (June edition) and the products in it, has just gone up. Please check it out if you're thinking of subscribing to a beauty box - it's always good to hear about other peoples experiences! 

As well as this, obviously it is now July. This means that Sam and I will be uploading a monthly favourites post this week - exciting! Keep an eye out for that. We will be posting on our twitter when it's gone up, so please follow us on there. (@smekahmakeup)

Have a great rest of the week.
-Bek xxo

June's Glossybox(es)

It seems like modern day women simply can't shy away from the miracle invention that is the beauty box, a monthly subscription service in which you are handed (well, it's delivered to your door) a small sample of beauty products from highly acclaimed or up and coming beauty brands, depending upon which company you choose.

Never people to jump into, well... Anything, without fully researching it first we set about googling companies. After eventually deciding upon the fact we would try one of each of our top selection every month until we settle on individual favourites, we both fell for the allure of the Glossybox for our June beauty box. The boxes are pretty and pink with the Glossybox simple black crown in the centre, the products are wrapped in shredded black paper, wrapped in a blanket of even more black tissue paper, and then secured with a pink ribbon and a Glossybox sticker. This, as well as the fact that the products inside were claiming to be tailored to us (you fill in a fairly extensive questionnaire upon subscribing) and the seemingly bargain price (£12.95 per month including postage) had us signing up before the end of the day. 


Figs and Rouge "Coco-Rose" lip balm in blush pink (£4.95/12ml)
Received by both
Ultra-hydrating & Multi-tasking. Figs & Rouge Coco Rose Lip Balm is a 100% natural and nourishing balm that keeps lips super soft throughout the day. Packed with Natural Anti-oxidants & deeply penetrating skin conditioners – keeps lips supple & hydrated.

Sammy:I really wanted to love this, the packaging is retro and sweet and it attracted me by being 100% natural. The shimmer was just right for me, and the colour really complimented my skin. Staying power wasn't great and it was annoying to apply with a tube but I used very little at a time and found applying with my fingers was easy enough, so this wasn't the end of the world. Seems like it would be close to a perfect product, right? Sorry, but no. Not for me anyway, I had to abandon this on day two because the natural fragrance and taste was making me gag (it reminded me of accidentally biting into a paracetamol). Overall, I feel I can recommend the brand, I imagine the cherry blossom lip balm would be gorgeous, but this product just definitely wasn't for me.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse OR multi-purpose dry oil (£21.00/50ml)
Received by both
Precious benefits for my skin. Your face and body are left feeling soft and silky. Your hair is supple, soft and shines with health. The sensual golden particles leave a subtle shimmer on your skin and enhance your every move.
 
Sammy: I simply cannot reccomend this enough. I applied it to dry hair, wrapped it in a towel and left it for forty minutes (should have been twenty, but I got distracted) then simply washed my hair and blow-dried it and the end result is gorgeous, really shiny and super soft, with no signs of looking greasy nearly 24 hours later, something I've suffered with when using other hair oils. I wasn't keen on the smell (think playdough) or the fact your hands get covered in glitter, but the smell washes out when you wash it so it's no big deal, and I've found out full sized bottles have spray applicators rendering the glitter on the hands issue moot. A little bit pricey but one use will convert you, even my thrifty side is begging me to buy a bottle on payday, especially seeing as I've barely made a dent in my 10ml version, so I can only imagine how long 50ml will last me!

Bek: Of all the things I recieved in my glossybox, this is by far my favourite. Sam's right, we really cannot recommend this product enough. After recently discovering the magic of argon oil, I was excited to find a new type of dry oil in my box. However, after just the first application, I realised that for me this runs rings around argon oil. I've since tried several different methods of using this on my hair; applying on wet and dry hair, washing out and leaving in. And I must say, I was amazed to find that all of this works wonders. As someone who has extremely dry and damaged (years of dying/bleaching etc, ooops!) yet thick hair, this product has made such a difference. It leaves my hair feels immensely hydrated and silky to touch - yet no signs of grease, unlike the argon oil. Although I am yet to try this on my face or body, for the benefits to my hair alone I absolutely love it. 
MeMeMe Cosmetics Long lasting nail gloss in 57 Elegant (£5/12ml currently 3 for £10)
Received by both
Premium long-lasting, high-shine nail gloss complete with maxi-brush for one-stroke application.

Sammy: On first impressions this was probably the item I liked least when I peered into my glossybox, I wouldn't say I've been converted since but I'm definitely coming around. The antique gold colour is a little bit old fashioned for me, but it's working on my toes as a summery colour for Spain. Staying power is good, barely any chips and I love the wide brush. It took literally one application for the nail varnish to look perfect, something that can really swing my opinion on nail varnish, so that's definitely working in it's favour. I've scoped the website and they have some gorgeous colours I'm considering ordering to give it a more fair chance. Once again I find myself reccomending the brand just not the colour that I got in the varnish.

Bek: This product is an interesting one, because being freakishly alike, me and Sammy usually agree on such matters. But in regards to this nail varnish our opinions differ dramatically. When I found this in my glossybox, I was thrilled. I've recently become a big fan of classic colours for my nails so when I saw this old style gold I thought it would be perfectly for me. I quickly realised I was very mistaken. On the first application, I discovered the low quality, very wide brush that made it extremely difficult to get an even finish. I will admit, it didnt chip, but after just a day it seemed to simply be wearing off. I will try it again as I really want to like it but so far this product really isn't working for me. 

John Frieda frizz ease hair serum (£3.99/25ml)
Received by Sammy
This multi-award winning hair serum from John Frieda is a must-have product for anyone wanting to achieve a smooth, polished style that’s free of frizz and flyaways. The serum has been designed with all dream hair styles in mind, whether that’s defined curls, beachy waves or super sleek and straigh

Sammy: A classic! Does exactly what it says on the tin, and has a lovely smell. I have found out the hard way that too much can make my hair flyaway, though. Lasts a long while too, so is well worth the money.

Helen E shimmer eye powder (£5/1.5g)
Received by Bek
Shimmer Eye Powder - Sprinkle a little stardust and dazzle all who gaze upon you! These Powders sparkle and shimmer in the shifting light. You can be sexy or ethereal, but never unnoticed.

Bek: I don't really have a lot to say about this product. Eye makeup is paramount to my everyday look, so this was a good choice for me by the people of Glossybox. While I wouldn't use it all over my lid it sweeps on nicely as a top shimmer coat to whatever colour eyeshadow you favour. The shimmer particles are very, very small, which I like a lot, and it's easy to apply. 

Q: Balance ; the fine fragrance body spray (£1.53/100ml)
Received by Sammy
Q is a collection of lighter, high quality fine fragrance body sprays for wearing everyday. The female range – Radiance, Balance and Awe – is a blend of fine fragrances and soft sense-active deodorant protection.

Sammy: I really didn't know what to think about this when I first looked it up, as some of the first words I read were "a grown up impulse" and essentially, that's what it is, a body spray intended for adults. I have to say though, in the last few days I've found myself searching for this in my bag on multiple occassions. It's not quite strong enough to use as deodrant and I feel like it wears off quite fast (or I get used to the smell? It quite difficult to tell.) but it's lightly floral and has made a nice holiday replacement for my heavy perfumes that I left at home. It runs down pretty fast, but it's really cheap which is always a good thing. Not a beauty essential by any means, but definitely a nice addition to your bag, especially on holiday.

Monu hydrating moisturiser SPF 15 (£29.95/50ml)
Received by Bek
Soft focus technology helps to blur imperfections and to correct skin tone. We use Zinc Oxide to provide a physical barrier against the sun’s harmful rays. This provides broad spectrum UV protection with good UVA to UVB ratio. Includes Vitamin E, an antioxidant, to fight free radicals. The best way to stop your face from ageing is to protect it from the sun.

Bek: I decided to look this product up before using it on my skin, and was very curious about the description that accompanied it. I really like this moisturiser. I use it in the mornings after my normal skin care routine, before I apply any makeup. It goes on nicely, you don't need to use a lot of product, and it makes my skin feel lovely and soft, as well as hydrating it, without leaving it greasy. It also makes a great base for my foundation. However, for me, it certainly does not blur imperfections or correct the skin tone as it claims to. Which is fine, because I didn't really expect it to - I just don't like false advertising. I do like the fact that it comes with an SPF of 15. It isn't a product that I would buy again, but I am enjoying using it at the moment.
 

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