Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Balance Me Natural Protection Moisturiser SPF 25 Review

Whenever Summer comes round, I'm one of the first to be slathering on SPF. However, finding a good face SPF that doesn't make my skin itch and break out, or cause my makeup to go patchy is a bit of a struggle. So I was really excited when I got the chance to try out the new Balance Me Natural Protection Moisturiser SPF25*, which claims to be an innovative natural sunscreen as opposed to the traditional chemical SPFs we're used to seeing.

So how is it different to the traditional SPFs?
First of all, it includes some key ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid (I think everyone knows the benefits of hyaluronic acid by now as it's been taking the beauty world by storm this last year, so I did rejoice a bit when I saw it included - if you didn't know, it's great for hydrating the skin and making it appear more plump), titanium dioxide (a physical filter to protect against UVA/UVB rays) and kukui seed oil (a natural silicone replacement that's great for moisturising the skin).

But what is a physical filter?
So for the next part I have done some research, but please don't hold me to it as I'm not a skincare expert by any means...

So when you buy a combined sunscreen in the shop (one that is both a moisturiser and SPF), there is a danger that you will not be getting enough protection. Many suncreams use chemical filters, however you have to wait for these to sink in, and they can sometimes lead to irritation on sensitive skin. Therefore, if you're using a combined suncream it's best to go for one that has physical and natural filters, either titanium/zinc oxide, as they offer immediate protection. Titanium/zinc oxide are minerals which act like reflectors, so they basically block the UV rays in the first place, rather than letting it be absorbed like chemical filters (which absorb the rays but stop it damaging the skin to an extent).

You also need to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen which offers protection against UVB rays, which are associated with sunburn for example (this is what the SPF number relates to! So an SPF of 15 offers 93% protection against these rays, SPF 30 97% protection, and SPF 50 98% protection - not a huge difference like I imagined) and UVA rays, which penetrate deeper into the skin's dermis. The Balance Me SPF covers both of these.

So with that done, I can honestly say I had no idea that there was a choice available between chemical and natural filters. I've also read that chemical filters can also play a part in pigmentation, and you all know how I'm on a journey to get rid of my hyperpigmentation, so I will definitely be making the switch to natural filters, where possible. They are also supposed to be a better option for sensitive skin, rather than chemical filters, hence why I think my skin got on so much better with this SPF.

So onto my thoughts now!
The Balance Me Natural Protection Moisturiser SPF 25* is marketed as a super light daily moisturiser, and due to the emphasis on natural ingredients it should protect you from the sun and environmental damage, all without leaving you with a white cast. When I first tried it out, it was actually thicker than I expected it to be. Not as thick as say the Nivea SPFs, but thicker than your average moisturiser, so it did need to be massaged in. I didn't get a white cast per say, but it did leave my face looking a tiny bit more pale. However, after massaging it in and waiting a minute, it had fully absorbed like any other moisturiser. The thick feeling was also gone and my skin was back to it's normal shade. It did leave a bit of shine, again not as bad as other SPFs I've used, but noticeable around my cheekbones. Here's where I made a discovery though! Pairing it with the Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Reviver (a serum/primer in one) instantly mattifies it, and together they give a great base for makeup application. I use the SPF over my serum, and substitute it for my moisturiser.

As for how it fared during the day, honestly for these past few weeks I couldn't even tell I had SPF on! My skin doesn't feel hot or itchy, like I have something sitting on it. My makeup hasn't gone patchy, my concealer hasn't broken up, there isn't much shine popping up through the day either (apart from the normal amount when it's a hot day). There's also no greasy residue at all, I wash it off with a hot cloth cleanser in the evening, and my skin's been absolutely fine! No breakouts (in the past I would get white pimples from certain face SPFs) or dry patches either.

You get 40ml of product for £26, find it here on the Balance Me website, or at M&S/John Lewis. I will admit that it is on the pricey side, so it depends on what you want in an SPF. All of Balance Me's products are free from parabens, mineral oils, sulphates etc (including this), and they are cruelty free, so for a lot of people I think it will be worth the premium price for more natural skincare. You might also be happy paying more than drugstore prices for a natural, rather than chemical filter. The SPF is also an update on a previous version so I would just double check the packaging, to ensure you pick up the right one.

The packaging is a squeezy tube that comes presented in a box (as per the first image). It has a screw lid which is quite sturdy, and the small nib means that it remains relatively air tight (there's always that worry that SPFs can lose their power - so that's an added bonus).

As for flashback, I did read that physical filters are more likely to cause flashback in photography as they reflect the sun's ray, but I did take some pictures with flash on and I didn't notice any flashback personally.

Overall, I've been really impressed with the Balance Me Natural SPF*, and it's also got me thinking about the sunscreens I use too! My only criticism was going to be that I prefer having a higher SPF (due to pigmentation issues), however as I found out above a higher SPF doesn't offer a lot more really, so I'm more than happy with the SPF 25 as I know the physical filter will be blocking the rays from being absorbed into my skin.

I hope you enjoyed this post!
What do you think about natural versus chemical filters in SPFs? Would you make the switch?

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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Are Beauty Gift Sets Worth It?

I really wasn't sure what to call this post, but basically have you ever seen those huge Christmas gift sets and wondered whether they were worth the money? Every Christmas, Estee Lauder does these gift sets, which normally require you to purchase a perfume in order to add the gift set on for £58. However, they often do an offer for a limited time where you can buy it without picking up a fragrance.

I decided to go for it last Christmas and picked up the Makeup Artist Collection for £58 (see here with a full price of £340!), as it included a full size Advanced Night Repair which is meant to be worth it on it's own. I picked it up with the intention of passing on the skincare to my Mum and then whoever wanted the makeup. Carry on reading to see what was included and what I made of it, hopefully this might help you with your Christmas shopping (I know, a tad early)!

Travel Case
The gift set comes presented in a study, black box. This is more spacious than it looks, hence me using my carpet as the backdrop. It might come into handy when travelling though, as you could probably fit all your brushes and even skincare in there.

The Deluxe Palette
I think this palette was one of the main focal points of the gift set, as you assume you're getting various high end shades for great value, it includes 16 eyeshadows and 3 blushers. The blush shades are limited edition, however the eyeshadow shades are from their pure colour envy palettes.

(LE 27 Luminizer, LE 28 Rosy Glow, LE 29 Sculpting Bronzer)

However, as you can see the three blush shades, although they're really a highlighter, blush and bronzer, are really not pigmented. The above swatches are from quite a few swipes, which is disappointing as you can get better quality at the drugstore. The highlighter and blush shade BARELY show up on my medium skin, the bronzer is slightly too warm to work as a contour but it only makes the slightest difference anyway.

 (07 untamed Teal 5, 10 Envious Orchid 5, 25 Fierce Sable, 27 Strong Currant, 05 Fiery Saffron, 24 Audacious Nude, 06 Currant Desire 2, 07 Untamed Teal 1)

(13 Savage Storm 5, 20 Ominous, 05 Fiery Saffron 5, 06 Currant Desire 4, 11 Decadent Copper, 05 Fiery Saffron 1, 11 Captivating Cocoa, 29 Quiet Power)

To be honest, I already had some doubts about the eyeshadows, as from pictures of previous years sets, the palettes did look a bit chalky. However, I did swatch them at Selfridges before ordering the gift set and it didn't seem too bad at all. Most of the shades do swatch well, so more than others, such as 11 Decadent Copper. However, unfortunately they don't translate too well on the eyes, in that some shades aren't true to colour and some of the lighter shades really struggle to show up well, which is a shame as they are some of the prettiest. A primer certainly helps, but the eyeshadow quality isn't really any better than some drugstore palettes, I prefer my Sleek ones over this. I also wish the shades were a bit more buttery, but then again Estee Lauder aren't really known for their eyeshadows, their focus is often on base products. So overall, the palette isn't really outstanding in my eyes, and a bit of a hit and miss.

(Top to Bottom: 410 Dynamic, 340 Envious)

The Lipsticks - RRP £26
The lipsticks, for many people, will be worth it alone! You get two Pure Colour Envy Sculpting lipsticks, a raspberry red in the shade 340 Envious, and a medium rose in 410 Dynamic. Both shades are super flattering, and I like the fact that you get two timeless shades that most people will enjoy. I honestly cannot fault the lipsticks, they're pigmented, creamy, hydrating and long lasting, with a satin finish. They get a huge thumbs up from me!

(Top to Bottom: Flirtatious Magenta, Discreet)

The Lipglosses - RRP £21
Again, you get two Pure Colour Lipglosses in Flirtatious Magenta, a bright, shimmery, deep red, and Discreet, a shimmery nude. The packaging is really fancy, and they come with a doe foot glass applicator which makes application super quick and neat. These sort of lipglosses aren't normally my thing, but they're nice enough, not sticky or uncomfortable. Flirtatious Magenta goes really well over the lipsticks, Discreet is a bit too pale for me but it subdues the lip colour when worn over a lipstick. I think they're a nice addition, especially if you prefer lipglosses.

Sumptious Extreme Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara - RRP £25.50
I haven't opened this yet as I have plenty of mascaras already, so I don't want it to dry out, but I do think a mascara is a nice edition, as you get to try out something new. It also has decent reviews online, so that's a plus.

Modern Muse Le Rouge 4ml
I LOVE mini perfume bottles, they're so cute! I've tried the original Modern Muse before so this is a lovely addition, although I always end up giving them to my Mum to put on her mantelpiece.

I was thinking of picking up the Advanced Repair (RRP £53 - 30ml) for my Mum anyway, as I had seen a lot of positive reviews on blogs, but also some not so good reviews. Unfortunately, she said it irritates her sensitive skin so she only uses it on certain marks, but again I haven't seen a big difference. I've tried it out a few times and it's not as hydrating as I expected, I guess it's supposed to be used with the cream. However, I didn't really see a difference either, but I know I'm not using it consistently. As for the Revitalising Supreme + Cell Power Creme 15ml, she wasn't a fan of it, she said it was decent, but she gets better noticeable results with the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream. I can't really comment on the Advanced Night Micro Cleansing Foam - 50ml, as we all have dry skin in our household, so nobody is really a fan of foaming cleansers. Overall, the skincare was also a hit and miss, I'm afraid it didn't meet the hype for me.

So do I think this set it worth it? For £58 I would say just about yes, the lipsticks are outstanding, the lipglosses are also quite good and the mascara sounds like it will come in handy. However, the palette really didn't meet my expectations, and the skincare was a bit of a hit and miss, so realistically I wouldn't have spent say over £60 for this. However, it does depend on what you're looking for, or if you are a fan of the skincare. It will also be interesting to see what products they include in this year's gift set!

I hope you enjoyed this post!
Have you had any experiences with such gift sets, or did a product not meet your expectations?

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Recent Buys from Freedom, Body Shop and More!

Hi everyone! I hope you're all enjoying the Summer (or in our case the rain!). You might remember that in one of my recent posts I said I was planning on treating myself for finishing my exams, and picking up some things I had my eye on for a while. Well, scroll down to see what I picked up!

  • Freedom Pro Studio Glycolic Radiance Tonic (£6 here) - I'm sure by now you all know how much I love the Pixi Glow Tonic as I've been commenting it on so many of your blogs, definitely worth the hype in my opinion! However, when the Freedom dupe came out I read a lot of posts that stated they were very similar, so I thought I might as well give this a try now that my Pixi is running low.
  • Freedom Pro Studio Priming Water (£6 here) - I don't normally reach for a primer for an everyday look, but after coming back home one day with patchy concealer after only 2 hours in the sun, I thought I need to try something! I read that this is great to go underneath your makeup, to create a smooth base, and also over the top, like the MAC Fix+. It's also supposed to be a dupe for the Smashbox priming water. I have tried it a few times and it does feel nice enough, although I can't say I've noticed a big difference yet. It's somewhat like the Balance Me setting spray I reviewed some time ago here, as it's also full of multi-vitamins, although I would say the Balance Me one has more of a skincare focus.

 I've been meaning to do a Body Shop haul for ages, and they had 40% off aswell (if you google body shop voucher codes, all you have to do is put in your email and receive a code to show instore), so I decided to get three products. Also, can I just say the sales assistants are always really nice when it comes to using vouchers/promotional codes, they don't leave you there for ages feeling awkward!

  • The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-In-Oil (£16 here) -  This stuff is amazing! How do I know that? Well, I've been helping myself to my Sister's for the last year, but there's no need to tell her that haha. Honestly, this is one of the best facial oils I've tried by far, it knocks a lot of the expensive ones I've tried out of the park! If you want to wake up to soft and plump skin, go for it, you won't regret it.
  • The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Reviver (£17 here) - I've been trying to look for some products that get rid of hyper pigmentation, please let me your recommendations if you have any (of if you've tried the Ordinary's vitamin C)! I came to the conclusion that I need to try some more Vitamin C products, ideally a serum. So I picked up this skin reviver from the body shop, which is supposed to enhance natural radiance. It's sort of a serum and primer in one, it has an odd gel like texture that smooths the surface of your skin making a great base for makeup. I've used it about 5 times so far, and whilst it's a great primer, it's not really hydrating, hence the websites recommendation to use it after moisturising. But that's where my problem lies! I wonder how effective it will be at reducing hyperpigmentation if I'm using it as the final product in my skincare? I'm going to see how this fares over the coming months.
  • The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturiser  (£16 here) - I was more interested in getting the serum rather than this initially, but when I tried it out in store, I was almost blown away as I realised it had the same gel-like texture of my favourite Origins GinZing moisturiser, a possible dupe? However, I still have my current day cream to finish, but the sales assistant suggested I pick this up too, so I thought I might as well! I'm yet to try this as I feel like I have to finish my current moisturiser first, but I can't wait!

  • Collection Lasting Perfection Corrector in Lemon (£4.19 here) - When I saw the correctors on Collection's twitter page, I knew I had to order this as I always have horrible dark circles that make my eyes appear sunken in. I was wondering whether I could use it for hyperpigmentation around my chin too. However, I just don't think this works for me. One, I found the formula to be very thick, more so than the original concealers, so it looked quite cakey and also gave me a white cast. I have seen a lot of people raving about this on instagram, but they tend to use the fairest shade concealer, whereas I have a medium skintone (around NC30), so I think it might just be that the shade is too light for me, or I need more of a peach corrector to cancel out any darkness.

  • YSL 'Touche Eclat' Neuraliser Bisque Colour Corrector (£25.50 here) - After being dismayed the Collection Corrector didn't work for me, I saw Kaushal Beauty on youtube using this to colour correct darkness under her eyes and around her mouth. As she has a similar skintone to me, I decided to try this out too. Whilst I'll do a full review on this later, I don't think this is a miracle product. Whilst it does conceal the darkness to an extent, some darkness still comes through where you have applied less product, and I'm divided on whether it works on the hyper pigmentation around my chin. It also cost a lot, so I'm wondering whether it was worth it.
  • Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Shade 20 (£5.99 here) - I picked this up today (hence why it's not pictured) after seeing so many of you mentioning it, so I'm intrigued to give this a go! I wish picking a shade was easier though, or there was more variety.
I hope you enjoyed this post!
I'd love to know if you have any suggestions on beating hyper pigmentation, or if you've picked up any of these products?

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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Budget Beauty: Poundland Haul 3

Hi everyone! I've got a few reviews coming up, so I just wanted to break that up with some things I picked up (be prepared for some more hauls too as I've been busy treating myself to some products now that I have some free time). I think you all know by now how much I love finding great brands in Poundland (for previous hauls, see here for haul one, and here for haul two)! I heard that they had some Nails Inc polishes and some of the smaller Sleek day palettes in. I didn't find any Sleek palettes, but I still picked up quite a few products. Also, sorry for the pictures being all over the place, some of these finds were from a few months ago so I thought I'd just do it in one post.

I was hoping they would have some Nails Inc polishes instock as we're building up quite a collection.  I chose the 3D glitter in Fitzroy Square, it's a really beautiful turquoise shade. My Sister chose the pastel blue (Sheraton Street) and the sheer ivory (Mayfair), which is from their ballet slippers line. The usual selling price of these is £11-£12, so I got these for almost 1/12 of the usual cost!

I then picked these up a few weeks ago. I love the pink special effect shade in Derby Gate, which is perfect for a sparkly summer look. I also got the Cavier top coat (which is one of my favourites), and a clear top coat (Albert Bridge) as they always come in useful.

I was quite surprised to see some more of the Maybelline 24hr color tattoos! I got these because a classic white and black can really come in handy when creating looks, as well as being able to use them as a base. However, whilst 60 Timeless Black is a jet black with a matte finish, 45 Infinite White is more of an off silver with a shimmery finish (and slightly patchy). The normal RRP of these is £4.99.

I normally pick up the Rimmel Scandaleyes nude liner for around £4. However, this is also by Rimmel but from the exxagerate line (it basically has an sponge at the end) and it's called 213 In The Nude. It works just as perfectly as my usual one, the shade is almost the same and at a quarter of the usual cost, I'm more than happy with it!

I also saw these MaxFactor lip glosses in 02 Peach Rose and 05 Nude Brown. Nude Brown is a lot more cool toned and mauvey than I anticipated, however, neither of the glosses are really pigmented at all. Therefore, the shades don't really show up on the lips, they just add some gloss. It's a bit disappointing, but atleast they're not sticky, so they might work better over lipstick.

Overall, I'm almost happy with everything I picked up, even if I am running out of space to put it all! It's also a great way to create your own pamper hamper for a present.

I hope you enjoyed this post!
What have you picked up lately?

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Thursday, 1 June 2017

Latest Finds ft Too Faced and Revlon

Hello everyone! It's been a long time! My last post was in February, and even I'm like what happened there?! Well, to be fair, final year happened, and I'm sure you've all heard the horror stories(!) I was snowed under with coursework and job applications, and when I thought I could catch up with blogging, summer exams suddenly came around a lot faster than I was expecting. I know everyone says time flies, but it truly does! I finished my last exam a while ago (yay), and it's still sinking in that my University experience is over. I might do a blog post on it when I've figured out just what to say.

In the meantime, I am happy to be back and I know I've got so much catching up to do (I do apologise!)

So moving on, a few months ago I popped into TK Maxx (you know how I love finding me some cheap Dune bags!), and I popped over to the beauty section. I ended up picking up a Revlon highlighter (I was feeling a bit left out on the highlighter craze), and a Too Faced glitter primer.

The Revlon Highlighter I picked up is the PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator in 200 Pink Light. There were only 3 shades available in TK Maxx, the other two being 300 Peach Light and 400 Bronze Light. These shades were noticeably a lot warmer, so I thought they wouldn't work with my neutral undertones, and I went with 200 for £4. However, when I got home I realised Pink Light is infact quite cool toned and the slight pink shade does come through, but luckily if I apply a light layer (which is all you need), it sort of works. Although, I'm not sure if it would work on warm undertones (100/300 would work much better for you).

The highlighter is one of those multi-use products that could be used under your foundation, mixed into your foundation or over it. I rarely wear foundation daily so I often use this with a paired back, simple concealer and lipstick look, to add some shine. The highlighter is a liquid formula but at the same time I wouldn't say it's too runny either, and you really need to blend it into your skin to give a seamless look. It gives off a lovely sheen, although there are very fine glitter particles in it, so honestly a little bit does go a long way (although thats totally up to you!).

(Top - Revlon Highlighter, Bottom - Too Faced Glitter Glue)

In terms of application, I think you do need a good skincare base as I did find that it can stick to dry areas or look a bit patchy. I prefer working a product like this in, so I tend to use my fingers or a beauty blender. With the beauty blender it disperses the product a bit, giving a lovely overall glow. However, using your fingers gives a more precise application and it really makes my cheekbones pop if I focus it on the semi circle from the bottom of my eyebrow to my cheekbone. You also need to be a bit fast working this product in, but it's definitely worth it. It wears well throughout the day as well.

I don't think they still sell this line on Revlon counters anymore, however you can still find it online. Also, be careful, if you squeeze it too tightly, it will go everywhere!

The second product I picked up was the Too Faced Shadow Insurance Glitter Glue. At first, I thought I had hit the jackpot and it was their original primer potion (which is raved about), but it's more for locking down glitters and pigments. I still picked it up because I wanted to play around with pigments anyway for a wedding look.

The Glitter Glue is meant to even out skin tone and soften any fine lines. It does definitely do that as it has a slight skintone colour that provides a nice base, however it is quite tacky so you have to quickly work it in and spread it out, and it will soften any lines before it sets. It can't, however, be used as a substitute for the original primer as the tacky base will make any blending very difficult! You then have to press your pigment/loose eyeshadow over it. This step isn't so difficult, even for an amateur like me, and the difference is really noticeable! It definitely exemplifies the eyeshadow and really makes it pop (as you can see on the image below).

(I kid you not, these swatches are from using the LIGHTEST tap of a Model's Own Pigment in Mocha Choca which I got free in a magazine yonks ago! Amazing or what?)

However, the bad news is that in terms of it being a primer, I didn't really see much in the way of it extending the wear time of my eyeshadow compared to any other primer. By the end of the day, whilst the gold pigment was still very much popping, it did sort of melt into the rest of the look. It really depends on what you want from it though and how much use you would get out of it. I'm still quite happy with it as I don't have anything similar to wear underneath my pigments, and I got it for quite a good price of £6. The RRP on Debenhams's is £17 (here), which is much higher. However, it could be an updated version as the packaging is different to mine.

I hope you enjoyed this pot!
Instead of a general question, I want to ask what have you been up to lately?
(Seeing as I've missed so much!)

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