Thursday, 29 June 2017

Curated | The Ordinary

The Ordinary has taken the skincare world a little aback – after years of the purest active ingredients only being available in complex, expensive formulas and brands, single active ingredients are now available to the everyday skincare aficionado. Having used the brand every day for a good few months now, here is my curation of my top picks. Let’s start with my skin type – pretty clear, very oily, and prone to scarring and discolouration, so my main focus is on balancing the skin and reducing any marks that may have cropped up.

High-Adherence Silicone Primer
Let’s cut straight to the good bit – I love this stuff. Silicones and me are not the best of buddies, but this doesn’t feel like a silicone feels, it reminds me of a gel-cream texture, that dries down from fairly wet to fairly matte on the skin. I have used, and will continue to use this every day as it makes such a difference to the longevity of the cosmetic products on my face. Yes, I still get oily – oily gals don’t just dry up overnight – but it takes longer, and the amount of oils that permeate my make-up are less and can be easily blotted away with a tissue, often without the need of a powder touch-up throughout the day. I infinitely prefer this to the High-Spreadability Fluid Primer, which felt more like your traditional silicone product, and slipped straight off my skin (probably perfect for gliding over drier complexions!).

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
Niacinamide – or Vitamin B3 – has long be touted for the brightening effect it has on skin, but the magic of this particular formula is it’s amalgamation with zinc to allow the skin to rebalance itself, whilst reducing blemishes and congestion. I bought this specifically for its brightening properties, only to notice quite accidentally (didn’t read the description thoroughly on the website) that extremely oily skin seems to be much more matte when I apply this.

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
I have loved and used peels since about the age of 22, mainly carried out by a professional, mainly a high percentage of glycolic – this at home version uses a mixture of AHAs and BHAs, described by the brand as a 10-Minute Exfoliating Facial. This potent carmine-coloured mixture – with AHAs to work on the topmost layer of the skin, and BHAs to work within the pores – uses a two-pronged exfoliation technique in one marvellous concoction to help brighten and clear the skin. Now, my skin is pretty hardy, fairly used to being experimented on, and definitely a graduate of the peel club. However, this stuff had a tingly, slightly uncomfortable feeling on the surface of my skin that I haven’t felt in quite some time. I wafted a piece of paper over my face to fan myself and grit my teeth; after the recommended 10 minutes I used a flannel to remove it, and lo and behold, smooth, soft, more radiant skin. This has become a staple in my skincare routine, and I can use it multiple times a week. Top tip – apply to dry skin for less of an uncomfortable stinging feeling and fan, fan, fan!

Advanced Retinoid 2%
Now, I love a retinol – as an ingredient I tend to see the fastest results from retinols, and love the effect they have on my skin, however the formula and feel can often be problematic. Packaged in a brown dropper-bottle, this comes out as a milky serum, easy to apply and soft on the skin. The website claims “This formulation combines two forms of next-generation retinoid actives in a combined concentration of 2% by weight” which I have no idea how true this is, but I can tell you the product works! Used at night – no need to use in the daytime – skin looks visibly younger in the morning. I can’t give you specifics, but there is a general luminescence and youthfulness to the complexion. The formula is gentle, doesn’t cause peeling on my skin as many others have, and adheres to the theory of low and slow when it comes to Vitamin A products. I will be repurchasing!

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Holding up to 1000 times its weight in water, Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body and acts as a hydrator. A clear, sticky feeling serum, this is not one of those products that you realise is having an effect on the skin, until you stop using it! I use this even on my oily visage in the hopes of keeping dehydration at bay!

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution
A teeny tiny, unassuming pipette, this helps exfoliate the inside walls of pores to fight the appearance of blemishes and for better visible skin clarity with 2% Salicylic Acid and Witch Hazel. I specifically use this on any areas of congestion, or any spots that may crop up, and it seems to take them down a treat. Although tiny, this bottle packs a punch, and should last a little lifetime due to the small amount you need to use.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Mac | Really Me

The nude lip. It is to make up what the little black dress is to fashion – all kinds of elegant, versatile and ultimately alluring. And, just like that little black dress, elusive in its perfection. There are the Yash’s of the Mac world, somewhat yielding towards the peach, and the Innocence Beware’s – paler than pale, but the type of glossy that isn’t always appropriate.

And then steps in Really Me.

Now, let me elaborate – I have been searching for this shade of Mac Matte since mid-December. First stop, Duty free Heathrow – had the tester but no stock. Second and third stop, Duty Free Dubai – no tester, no stock. Fourth stop, MAC Westfield – no tester, no stock. And as with that mischievous scarlet pimpernel, the ability to not find it made me want it more. Eventually rumours abounded of its triumphant return to the Mac website (Debenhams was not fruitful) and voilĂ , I now have possession of it!

So, what was it that sent me on this ever-deepening spiral of a search? Ultimately, it was the shade that captured my imagination. Mac's Snob is one of my favourite lipsticks, but can lean towards the unsubtle at times – Really Me adds a nuance of subtlety to a fairly neutral-toned pinky nude. It leans slightly mauve, matte in formulation, but soft in look, it creates the most pillowy of lips to pair with a plethora of eye and blush looks.


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Lush | Rosey Cheeks

When it comes to a cheeky pamper, Lush seems to always hit the nail on the head. I adore their bubble bars, and love mixing and matching their cleansers, and have had the pleasure of trying many of their famous fresh face masks. My issue tends to be remembering to use up the masks before their use-by date – I love the idea of newness far too much to stick faithfully to one pot before it’s time is up. So on that basis, I tend to have a few going at any one time. Now, from experience, I have to say Mask of Magnaminty is the star of the Lush Face Mask show, but on my latest visit, I spotted Rosey Cheeks. As my skin slowly but surely ages, I have noticed more redness and sensitivity than previously, and found myself charmed by the description:
“Find the happiness you seek by cleansing cheek to cheek with this gorgeously soothing fresh mask. A simple blend of kaolin, calamine and Turkish rose oil to delicately calm the skin and restore balance. Whether you're feeling hot and bothered or just fancy showering your complexion with roses, cleansing calamine and kaolin will gently remove dirt while exquisite rose oil nourishes and tones your face. Smooth a generous layer of this mask over your skin and relax for 10-15 minutes, allowing the ingredients to get to work, before rinsing. Uncover calm, matte skin which says you've been kissed by a rose.”
A lot to claim, Lush, a lot to claim. So, as with all matters of cynicism, I thought I’d better see if Rosey Cheeks would live up to its claims

First of all, this mask is a lovely, soft, soft, soft milkshake pink. Impressed already! The clay is also soft, soft, soft, leading to the skin not feeling overly dried-out at the point at which the mask has set on the skin. The face doesn’t feel like it is about to crack if one smiles, and the whole mask experience is a pretty relaxing experience. Of course, this is helped along by the fact that I’m normally wallowing in the bath whilst this is on my skin.

And the results? After removal with a hot, wrung-out flannel, I find my skin to be calmer, softer and more toned. 

Much love,
Ani x

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Reviewing | Becca Lowlight/Highlight Perfecting Palette

There comes a point in life where tasks and processes just become part of one’s routine: we forget to savour the process, to appreciate the end result. A rut, if you will. And a rut I did enter when it came to contouring. Once a wonderful, unique idea, contouring just became much of a muchness. It happens. Product just fulfil their job spec, indeed they do it very well, but a little freshness, a touch of the novel, and a process  steps back to being a joy. Enter the Becca Lowlight/Highlight Perfecting Palette.
Now, this will never replace my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder, but it sure as hell sits nicely alongside it, works in tandem, and adds a little extra. Unlike the Sculpting Powder, the Becca sits slightly warmer on the coolness scale – adding a tad more warmth to the face. Still sculpted, still shadowy, just slightly warmer – more bronze, if you will, perfectly complemented by a peach-gold highlighter that just screams WOW.  The two together, built on the skin are just the thing for a night out – deepen the colour further by using the Kevyn Aucoin in the very hollows of the face.
On it’s own, sans highlighter, the lowlight colour is perfect for an everyday realistic shadow on the face. Buttery soft, ridiculously blendable, these powders make me feel as if I’m living the dream! Buffed onto the sides and tip of the nose, the temples, jawline and into eye-sockets, you’ve got an instant mocha monochromatic look to the skin that looks naturally sculpted and refined.

Much love,
Ani x

Friday, 9 October 2015

Tippex and Highlighter | Nails

A peculiar thing has passed over me lately – the necessity for nails that look as if they’ve been tippexed or highlighted. Clean, bright, white. Offensive, obnoxious, yellow. I blame those Kardashians – specifically I blame that Kylie and her envy-inducing one day white, next day yellow, always-pointed, hawks talons. I just adore them. 
Fascinatingly, they both bring within them a shed-load of compliments, and the beginnings of thought-provoking discussions. Who knew nail polish was so refined?

Much love,

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The One I didn’t need | Naked Smoky

This was the stuff that dreams were made of – I was beyond convinced that this would be the answer to all my palette prayers, and that my life would be made better by the mere inclusion of it within my make-up routine.
Alas, this was not to be. Beautiful as it may have been, and there is no doubt that Urban Decay have refined their presentation – tortoiseshell hard case – and the tools they now provide, double-sided beautiful brush, through to the little tri-fold instruction card on how to create certain looks, this just didn’t do it for me. Pigmentation, spot on as usual, colours beautiful, but I almost didn’t find a cohesion to the shades – individually beautiful, definitely, but together, a little more of a mismatch than I would have liked, and I am quite the queen of mismatching. 
But a palette, to me, needs to be fully workable under all conditions, whatever the occasion may throw up – that is the essence of a palette. What I did find, and this may just make it the perfect palette for some, is that many of these are brilliant add-on shades. Need a little highlight, some glitter, or some extra smoke? There’s a colour in there for all of these. I love my Naked original, and will be sticking to that, but for some, this will be the palette of dreams.

Much love,

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

High End | Hourglass First Look

I happened to acquire 2 things from Hourglass - the Ambient Lighting Palette, and the Mineral Veil. It is full-on love. Both are exquisite - from the outer packaging, to the make-up housing, through to the actual products themselves. And this is a little sneak-peek before I present my full-on reviews.

Currently, I have a lot of opinions forming - firstly, beautiful. Secondly, the products are actually wonderful - so much so, that I think I would probably repurchased at the extortionate prices that they are sold for (I also realise why they are extortionate).

Much love,

Monday, 31 August 2015

The converted | Liz Earle Add-ons

Any skincare junkie worth their weight in gold knows not only the benefits of a regular, basic routine, but the inherent value of the add-ons. There are a plethora of reasons why one would need add-ons - take this week, for example, and the flare up of my eczema, which brings with it the need for a slathering of coconut oil on the skin. Dehydrated? How about a little hyaluronic acid? Spot issues - salicylic acid for a thorough to-the-root clean. And so the list goes on, never-ending.

After my wonderful (re) experience with Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish, a little deal on their website spurred me on to purchasing the Gentle Face Exfoliator and the Brightening Treatment Mask, both of which, I have to say, have earned their place as add-on (or slightly more frequent than is needed) treatments. 
First to the Gentle Face Exfoliator - I'm normally all about the regular acid exfoliation, but for some reason, I've been slacking, and the turnover of my skin has therefore not been so efficient, leading to the need for a good manual exfoliation to allow the preparation of the skin for a good old chemical exfoliation that I plan to embark on! Containing eucalyptus, cocoa butter and fine jojoba beads the combination of which gently buffs away dead skin cells and impurities. The scrub itself it housed within the creamy cocoa butter base, and the particles are super fine, and not in the least bit scratchy (yes, they have made their way around my eye area and I can attest that my eyes are fine!) The beads themselves provide such a gentle, yet thorough exfoliation, that the skin feels soft to the touch, and almost brand new in its texture. It is recommended that this is used as often as needed, and to be honest, I have been using it approximately every other day - beautiful product that does just as it says.

Now let's move onto this little hero product - the Brightening Treatment Mask with aloe vera, witch hazel and purifying white clay for a reviving, fast acting mask for instant radiance. The instructions say to leave on for 30 seconds to 2 minutes - me being the sceptic that I am, I tried 30 seconds and oh my goodness, the results were rave-worthy. I did actually rave about this. Skin instantly was brightened, slightly tauter, and provided the perfect base for make up. I loved it so much that I actually used it every morning for a week. The thing is, I just love this - I have calmed down on my usage, but anything that calms, nourishes and brightens all at the same time is a little miracle.

I am really looking forward to trying more Liz Earle products!

Much love,

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Triple Threat | Lips

I love me a good lip. Mine are pretty good, albeit they have had a little bit of injectable help! I do adore the plump, defined, slightly pillow-esque lipped look that is currently doing the rounds. Thankfully I have found the most fail-safe combination of products to easily achieve this.
Fully line the entire lip area with Rimmel’s East End Snob. My liner of choice for nigh-on five years now, it is the perfect mix of edgy and ladylike.
Mac’s Snob wins every time for me. Not quite Barbie, not quite classiest woman in the world, this definitely puts the pout in your lips.
Newest, most favourite find – L’oreal Paris Infallible Mega Gloss in Protest Queen. A milky, but creamier version of Nars’ Turkish Delight. Just try it. 

Much love,

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish | Revisited, Reviewed

I tried this, once upon a time. Things did not quite end happily ever after. Then I tried it again, recently, and the angels sang a little bit. What changed? Well, quite a lot, truth be told. In the first instance, I used this at a time when my skin was in a volatile phase. I imagine, therefore, that the Cocoa Butter, and plethora of essential oils just didn’t sit well with my skin. Fast forward a good five years, and this substance is the bee’s knees. Thick, unctuous, substantial, sumptuous, this is everything I envision in a cleanser. The mere experience of pumping the dense cream, distributing between both hands – a quick snuffle before the mechanics – and the sensation as it hits the skin, is just delightful. Massaged in, it delivers a circulation boost, eliminates super-heavy eye make-up, as well as a whole face of make-up, sunscreen, and daily pollution.

As a second cleanse, equally as wonderful on my oily skin. The consistency segues into the perfect facial, with skin left purified, plump and hydrated.

In my eyes, a multitude of use for this lovely green bottle. 

Much love,

p.s. in further news, I love the stuff so much that I've repurchased twice, and also managed to get my hands on the limited edition triple tin and am currently using the Grapefruit & Patchouli, as I thought this would be my least fave - but for a least fave, it's pretty darn good!