Saturday, 19 October 2013

Brand Review: Jennifer Young Defiant Beauty

Disclaimer: I received these samples for free to review. This only affected my opinion in that I now have one about these products.

A bit about Jennifer Young ( to start off with. It's a company that does skincare, mostly for troubled skin. Their ranges are Unique Skincare, Eczema-Free Beauty, Remove & Improve, and Defiant Beauty. Unique Skincare is highly customisable made to order products - something I would definitely look into if you have reactions to most ingredients. Eczema-Free Beauty is pretty obvious. Remove & Improve is for teenaged or blemish-prone skin. Lastly, Defiant Beauty, the range I'll be reviewing today, is designed for those affected by cancer. All their ranges are based on natural and organic ingredients, and many of their products are available in convenient trial sizes that are excellent both for travel and for trying out the products.

I have the opportunity to review four of these excellent products - the Cleansing Balm, Itchy Skin Oil, Nail Oil, and Lip Balm.

First up, a cleansing balm. This is a lovely soft balm which glides on to the skin - important for a fragile skin! It is incredibly rich, with no discernible smell. I have been removing it with a muslin cloth, although the directions say to use cotton wool. I find it isn't great for clearing my pores, but my skin feels beautifully soft and not at all irritated after I use it, which is pretty unusual for me. I won't, however, use it as a mask treatment, although I'm sure it could be used that way - my skin doesn't like beeswax. That's my particular skin quirk, though, and most people wouldn't have a problem with it.

Ingredients: Mango Butter (Mangifera indica L), Butyrospermum parkii (Shea Butter), Prunus armeniaca (Apricot Kernel Oil), Calendula officinalis (Calendula oil), Cera flava (Beeswax), Tocopherol (Vitamin E).

I also tried the Itchy Skin Oil. I actually used this one on my scalp - I've been having serious issues with a dry, itchy scalp for months, and this is the first time I've found anything that calms it down even momentarily. And believe me, I've tried just about everything! (Tar, sulphur and coconut oil treatments stink a lot, fyi). It's a very light oil - it was immediately absorbed into my skin, and my hair didn't look at all greasy - and unlike coconut oil, I didn't have to shampoo numerous times to get it out. It has a very faint scent - I had to rub it on my nose to smell it - slightly sweet, slightly herbal. I'm going to keep applying it to the itchy patches for a week or so, and maybe, just maybe, banish my itches.

Ingredients: Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armenica), Sunflower Oil (Helianthus annus), Peach Kernel Oil (Prunus persica), Calendula oil (Calendula officinalis), Rosehip oil (Rosa rubginosa), Vitamin E (Tocopherol).

Next, the Nail Oil. I generally don't use products of this nature at all, although my weak, fragile, flaky, bendy nails tell me I probably ought to. I've been trialing this as part of my manicure regime. It doesn't have a smell, absorbs quickly, and a little goes a long way. It will probably take a month or more of regular use to see if it's actually having an effect on my nails, though - and the tiny little trial size will last me a lot longer than that, I suspect, so long as I don't knock it over when it's open.

Ingredients: Peach Kernel Oil (Prunus persica), Macademia Oil (Macademia integrifolia), Vitamin E (Tocopherol).

Last, the Lip Balm. It has a slight smell of ginger, which I quite enjoy as a change from the usual sickly sweet and overpowering smells/tastes of many lipbalms. It's effective in combating my chronically dry, chapped lips. The formula isn't so soft it squishes all over the place, and isn't so hard it's difficult to apply. It absorbs quickly, and plays nicely with lipstick. I will probably buy this product - once I run out of my first one!

Ingredients: Sweet Almond oil (Prunus amygdalus dulcis), Cocoa Butter (Theobroma Cacao), Beeswax (Cera flava), Ginger essential oil (Zingiber officinale), Blood orange essential oil (Citrus aurantium amara).

All in all, I think these are very high quality products, which I would unilaterally recommend to anyone with dry and sensitive skin. I am glad I got the chance to test them, and I intend to explore the range further soon.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Looking for a camera upgrade.

Most of the photos on this blog are taken with my trusty Logitech webcam, but the quality isn't so good, and I can't take it with me.

I'd like to do more on-the-go photography, and perhaps some video as well. My phone - although the camera is quite good - is not really good for this, because I need both hands free to use it. My DSLR is a bit heavy and fragile to lug around, even though I can use it single-handed. So I'm looking for a compact point-and-shoot. I don't know anything about what's available out there yet; once I figure out a shortlist, I'll go into a brick-and-mortar to see how they fit in my hands, but probably will end up buying on amazon (depending on prices, warranty, etc). I don't yet have a budget in mind. I'm looking for compactness, lightness, and ability to press the go button with the hand holding the camera (which would rule out a bunch of touchscreen models I've seen). I'd like to be able to flip out the viewscreen, but that's not vital. I would like wifi uploading. Lens systems aren't ruled out, although I already have Canon glass - adaptors for such would be a consideration (especially for holiday travel).

I haven't fully developed my ideas on this yet, obviously, so my requirements will probably evolve. Still - anyone got some recommendations, or definite anti-recommendations for me?

Friday, 2 August 2013

Simple Beauty Blogger Event

I was invited to attend the Simple Beauty Blogger Event yesterday. I almost didn't go because I was feeling tired and sad, and then when I finally got out of the house, the heel of my boot came off most of the way to the train station! UGH. So after hurrying home to change shoes, I once again set forth to do battle with the dragons of depression, tiredness, and general apathy by having a good time.

I had a lovely time!

It was at Kettners in Soho, which was quite a fancy establishment. The room decorations were lovely, with some of the products in various terranium-like things around the room.

There were marvelous mocktails with lots of fresh fruit and such, and I got to meet some of the experts behind the Simple brand. We also got some really generous goody bags, and I'm keen to try out some of the products. Others, of course, may have to find a new home. But would you just look at all of it! Reviews shall occur post haste.

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Later in the evening, there was the London Beauty Bloggers regular meetup, and I met some wonderful ladies there too. Cocktails and more goody bags! Wonderfulness abounds. I am super keen to try some of this stuff out too, and to go to more of these meetups and talk beauty, style, and life with these marvelous people. I'll post a full review of all the goodies (once I have tried them, of course).

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All in all, a thoroughly awesome and enjoyable evening. I'm looking forward to the next London Beauty Bloggers meetup, that's for sure.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Nail polish review: Butter London "Yummy Mummy"

I got this polish as part of a sample box from Latest In Beauty.

I'll say this up front: I would never have chosen this colour, because I loathe it. Brown and pinky brown and me do not go together. It's not a bad colour, it's just ... not me. At all.

That said ... the polish itself isn't bad. Butter London do 3-free polish (no formaldehyde, touluene, dpb). So that's good. It goes on easily enough, and I got opacity in two coats. The only reason it's a bit dodgy in the photos is because I used my hands before waiting for it to set. So my bad, really. No streaking, not too viscous, not too runny, although I prefer a stubbier brush than the one it has.

If it was only a green or purple or something, I'd love it, I think. As is, however, I'm glad I didn't pay full price.

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So, I've become a youtuber ...

.. and now I have a channel. It's here:

I've been blathering about bits and pieces; my update schedule is about as regular as my blog posts, so ... not very. If you'd like me to do something in particular, let me know and I'll do my best!

Not sure what else to say, really, so I'll leave it there today.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

EB Samples - Bright Spring Blues

Today is hot. As in, 27C in the shade hot. In a country that doesn't believe in aircon, windows that open all the way, fans, eaves, or any real form of ventilation or shade, this is actually very warm. I would really not want to take the Tube today, that's for sure.

This is, of course, a perfect day to wear a full face of makeup over sunscreen. 

Oh well, at least I was sensible enough to wear a sleeveless top - under the jacket I needed to keep the sun off. 

These colours aren't bad - maybe not my ideal blues, but not awful. I did notice that the pale colour (Party Animal) looked quite green on its own, which is odd, because it's a pale baby blue pigment - albeit quite a warm one. 

Eyes - 
Base: Party Animal
Midshade and lower lashline: Conscientious
Dark bits: Mediatrix
Lashes: Collection Colour Lash All Day Mascara in 5 Electric Blue
Eyebrows: Illamasqua Eyebrow cake in Stark

Lips: L'oreal 6hr Glam Shine in 110 Addictive Peach

Face - 
Sunscreen: SunSense Sport Milk SPF 50+
Primer: Illamasqua Hydra Veil
Foundation: Illamasqua Rich Liquid 105 & Nude by Nature Liquid Mineral Foundation in Fair

No blush, because I was flushed and sweaty enough from the weather!

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Monday, 3 June 2013

Nail Art: Marble swirl and Half-moon

I admit it - I got ambitious. I tried to do no-water marble swirling on my nails. The first attempt was a disaster. The second attempt was ... okay, I suppose. I used Illamasqua Hemlock for the base colour, and tried to use Illamasqua Geist and Max Factor Dazzling Blue for the swirls.

Marble swirl nail art - Max Factor Dazzling Blue, and Illamasqua Geist, under coat in Illamasqua Hemlock.

What went wrong? I think I may have used too much polish, and also the wrong swirling tool - I kept gouging a hole in the base layer. I maybe try this again, when I have time, patience, and steady hands available.

I still wasn't happy with it, though, so I took it off and tried to do a half-moon mani. It sort of worked. But there's room for improvement here too, that's for sure. The highlight colour is OPI Significant Other; a lovely warm light lilac with a green shimmer that I unfortunately couldn't capture well in the photo. The darker colour is Illamasqua Poke.

Half-moon mani in OPI Significant Other and Illamasqua Poke.

The technique needs work, but I love the colours on this. I'm such a sucker for purples.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Skincare: SunSense Anti-ageing Face Matte SPF 50+ Invisible Tint Finish.

I'm always on the hunt for new sunscreen products, and frequently on the hunt for stuff that evens out my skin tone.

From the label:
"A very high protection sunscreen designed for the face that provides the anti-ageing benefits of AHAs in a light moisturising lotion. This broad spectrum sunscreen helps prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and premature ageing from sun exposure."

It's a nice high SPF rating, and includes on the bottle how much you're supposed to use (5mL). It has a lot of free-froms - oil-free, PABA, lanolin, fragrance. It comes in a 100mL bottle, which is pretty good for a face sunscreen. The packaging is a fairly standard slightly-squeezy bottle. The formula is runny - a lotion rather than a cream.

Does it do what it says it does? Here are some before and after photographs - natural light, taken with my webcam.

Before - yeah, my skin is red today.
SunSense Anti-ageing face matte SPF 50+ Invisible Tint - bare skin

After -

SunSense Anti-ageing face matte SPF 50+ Invisible Tint - after application  SunSense Anti-ageing face matte SPF 50+ Invisible Tint - after application

Hm. Not very mattifying, in my opinion. I have pretty dry, non-shiny skin - I don't think it'd be good on oily skin, given how shiny it makes my face. And while it has toned down the redness a little, it also looks like I've gone nuts with the bronzer, especially along my jawline, which isn't so great. That said - it is significantly less noticeable than most tinted moisturisers I've tried in the past. I'm not sure how it would go on darker skins, but on anyone in the fair to medium range, I think it would be invisible, as the label claims.

As high-spf sunscreens go, it doesn't feel too bad on. It hasn't completely disappeared into my skin (even an hour later), but I'm used to that. It doesn't have much of an aroma, which is good. I can't speak to it's moisturising qualities - I applied it after my usual skincare routine.

Overall, it's what I'd classify as 'good for other people'.

Would I buy it again? Probably not, because it really is too dark a shade for me. Will I use it up? Probably - although I might instead use it on my legs or similar, where it won't be so obvious. Or I might give it away.

100ml, 21.50 from

Nails: Revlon Moon Candy in 210 Galactic

I was in Boots again today, taking advantage of their 3-for-2 on skin stuff and 10 points per pound offers, and I accidentally went past the nail varnish.

Well, sort of accidentally.

Anyway, I've been hoping this range would be in stock for a while so I picked up a couple of shades, and it being a Do My Nails day, decided to try one out.

The instructions say to apply two coats of the dark base colour, a single coat of the glittery bit, and a top coat. The base colour was surprisingly dark - a blue that's almost black. It was also a bit challenging to work with. It didn't really want to go on smoothly, unless I used quite a lot of it. It is really opaque with two coats. I decided to do my cleanup at this point, and discovered that it's a pain in the posterior to tidy up. That's why my nails are still a bit of a mess - I ran out of patience and care factor a bit. Then came the glitter layer. I kind of dolloped it on instead of how I would normally apply nail varnish - otherwise I ended up with the glitter bits just at the tips of my nails. I have no idea if that's How You Are Supposed To Do It. I finished with a coat of Illamasqua's Geist (UV reactive top coat), and a coat of Save The Nail 45 second top coat, and it's still uneven, which is annoying me. Grr.

Colourwise, it is a bit darker than I was expecting. The glittery bits are quite bright, though. I'm not sure if I like it or not yet - I'm used to having lighter colours on my nails. On the upside, I strongly suspect I'm not going to be able to tell if I dent or smudge it, unless it's really bad. On the downside, chips are probably going to be obvious. I'll definitely be giving this another go at a later date.

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Monday, 27 May 2013

EB samples galore - Bright Spring greens

I tested some of my Elea Blake samples again today. I wasn't feeling particularly energetic, so I went for something very simple. A single colour all over the lid, with a darker colour along the lashline, and some sparkly pigment dusted over a clear mascara. I didn't bother with foundation or blusher today. So my skin is there in all its uncorrected, natural glory. Warts and all, as they say. Although in my case it's freckles, wrinkles, and bumps.

Shade: Superfluous
Lashline: Manipulative
Lashes: Collection Colourlash in Clear + Illamasqua pigment in Chasm.

Lips: L'oreal Glam Shine 6hr in 110 Addictive Peach.

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So - good or bad? I think it's a fun, fresh colour set, although I'll try a different technique to make my lashes more vivid next time. And I think it could do with a bit of shimmer on the inner corner and just under the brows. Possibly a teal tightline. Thoughts, suggestions, opinions? 

Friday, 24 May 2013

My Skincare routine

I have a skincare routine. Well, when I say 'routine' what I really mean is that I have things I intend to do every day and don't.

Before I launch in to the list, I'll chat a bit about the kinds of products I use. I try to use things that contain no mineral oil, no SLS/SLES, no parabens, artificial fragrances, or colours. I tend to stick to organic and natural-ingredients products. Not because I think that "it's natural, therefore good", but simply because I have had fewer reactions over the years to that category of product.

I have trouble skin. It's sensitive, irritable, dry (to the point of flaking), waxy (instead of oily), and I get hormonal blemishes. It reacts quite vehemently with many substances. It gets unbearably itchy for no apparent reason. Fragrances that linger tend to give me headaches, too.

Without further ado, this is what I try (and frequently don't) do:


  • Cleanse - Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm by balanceMe
  • Exfoliate - Cellulose Face Sponge by Ecotools
  • Mask - Radience Face Mask by balanceMe or home made Olive oil and bicarbonate mask
  • Moisturise - Hydraluron by Indeed, Vita Min Fix 24hr Cream by Green People
  • Cleanse - Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm
  • Moisturise - Radiance Face Oil by balanceMe, Vita Min Fix 24hr Cream

That's it.

I use an oil-based cleanser - Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm by balanceMe. It really helps with the dry patches, and does wonders for my blackheads and occasional zits. Oil cleansers, used properly, work for just about everyone. Even if you have oily skin. This has been covered extensively across the internet - a google search for "Oil Cleansing Method" generally brings up some good results. The short of it is that mixing oil with a thinner oil tends to make the oils easy to remove gently without aggravating the skin and stirring up extra oil production, while not messing so much with the water balance of the skin. Many people find they don't need to use a moisturiser after using an oil based cleanser, because their skin isn't stripped. Annoyingly enough, I still need to use a moisturiser. I use either the muslin cloth the balm comes with, or if I need a bit more exfoliation, an Ecotools Cellulose Face Sponge to take off the cleanser.

I use a face oil when my skin needs it - Radiance Face Oil, again by balanceMe. My sebum is waxy instead of oily, and tends to block up pores instead of flowing freely on the skin. So I end up with dry patches, and congestion. The face oil helps thin out the sebum in congested areas, as well as compensating for the lack in dry areas on my face. I don't use this every single day, but I do use it more often than not. It feels nice, and soaks into my skin in about 10 minutes. I find it soothes my skin quite well when it's irritated.

The Hydraluron is new to my routine - I've heard great things about it elsewhere on the internet, and Boots had a 3-for-2 yesterday, so I picked some up. It contains hyaluronic acid, which is apparently useful for helping the skin to retain water. I have HUGE issues with my skin dehydrating all the damn time, so I figured it was worth giving a go. I may do a review later on; I'm not sure how I'm going to structure such things yet - it's early days for this blog. Anyhow, my skin didn't freak out after last night's application, and it is surprisingly still happy with me this morning. This is a great start.

I use the Radiance Face Mask intermittently - at the moment, I'm using it maybe once every 2 or 3 days, to try and clear up a few issues I'm having. I find it can be quite drying if I'm not careful. I use the home made olive oil and bicarb mask once a week to really give my skin a good oil soak.

There are gaps in my routine. I'm looking for a salicylic acid toner to help with my blackheads, for instance. I'm also not set on my moisturiser. I've found a few that my skin doesn't react to, which is of course a good start. However, I haven't found one that is really awesome yet. I'm also looking for a hydrating mask. The olive-and-bicarb is great for the dryness in my skin, but doesn't do much for the dehydration. If anyone has any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

Phew. That's all I have to say just now on this topic, I think.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Nails: Revlon Colourstay 230 Bonsai

This is the first of my nail polish reviews. I intend to do these fairly regularly, although there will be a hiatus while I'm travelling, I imagine. Without more ado, here goes.

I picked up this polish recently because I was in Boots, and they had 3-for-2 on Revlon nail polishes, and it was pretty.

Okay, first off, the formula. It's a nice balance between goopy and thin. I've been a fan of Revlon polishes for years, and I'm glad to see that it hasn't changed much. It goes on nicely, without streaking or pooling. It covers my ridges easily, and doesn't show up the other imperfections in my nails. I got good opacity out of a single coat, although I used two out of habit. The brush does pick up a little too much product, but it splays out nicely, making it relatively easy to cover the nail in a couple of strokes. I'm unsure about the long term wear, having only had it on for a day so far. It is very rare for a polish to last more than 3 or 4 days anyway, between the way I treat my hands and my application skills.

I love the colour so much! It's a very vivid, slightly olive green, with tiny gold shimmer particles in it. The photos below shows it against my Colour Me A Season (CMAS) Spring fan, strip 30. It matches the B and A shades reasonably well in real life. Whether the colours go with my colouring - well, that I don't know.

Will I be using it again? Yes. This is definitely a keeper. I'm a sucker for bright nail colours, especially metallic or shimmery or opalescent ones.

In other observations, my fingers are really wrinkly. Guess I'd better get my paws on some hand cream and start using it. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

EB Samples galore - Light Spring Greens

I'm testing a lot of makeup samples from Elea Blake. This first round was from their Light Spring colours.

Highlight - Relaxed
Shade - Jolly
Contour - Lawn Parties
Liner - Natural Collection Eye Lines kohl in Olive Green
Mascara - Collection 2000 in Teal

Blush - Wicked Cute
Lips - Pink Flamingos

First of all, the eyeshadows are nice to work with. They blend easily, are highly pigmented, and don't have too much fallout. Colour-wise, I love them! Whether or not they really suit me is, of course, a matter of opinion. They do bring out the green in my eyes, though.

The lip gloss is quite nice on. It feels fairly moisturising, although I am unsure how long it'll hang around. It's very similar to my natural lip colour, and fairly sheer. Nice enough, I suppose.

The blush ... well, in these photographs, it's mostly my own skin doing the blushing, not the blusher. I didn't really go crazy and draw giant triangles, that's just my skin doing it's thing. Should my skin decide to calm down today I may try to take another photograph. In the meantime, before my skin went pink, the blush seemed to go quite nicely with my skin tones, and it isn't too awfully obvious. I am a bit cautious about blusher for reasons aptly illustrated above - that is, I blush plenty already, and don't really want extra blushing going on.

Overall, I quite like the colours I've tried today. I'm most happy with the eye colours, and will seriously consider purchasing those in non-sample sizes in the future.

Update: I took some closeups and face shots a bit later, once my skin had calmed down.

So, there's my shaky technique on display. Bearing in mind I can't see what I'm doing when I'm doing this, though, I think I didn't do too badly. This is also a few hours after application and some absent-minded eye rubbing. 

Obligatory introduction

This year I have been investigating those grown-up feminine things I missed out on growing up. Makeup, style, and to a lesser extent, fashion. I find myself more than occasionally frustrated because I can recall that I've used a product, but can't find the Facebook post or whatever that I wrote about it. I don't have a place where all my thoughts about the whole shebang are collated, and it's driving me crazy. That's what this blog is for.

I do have a longstanding blog, but it has a different purpose, and I"m not sure the people who read the syndicated feed from there would be interested in what's currently occupying my interests. Still, I'll be linking back and forth now and again, if and when there is overlap.

What to expect from this blog? A lot of selfies, for starters! If that kind of narcissism bothers you, this is probably not the blog for you. I'll be doing reviews of products I've tried, comments about styles, colours, fashions, hairstyles, jewellery, accessories, style and colour systems, makeup, skincare, haircare, and whatever else springs to mind. If you'd like me to review something, I'm open to being sent samples or similar.

So, welcome to you, potential readers! I hope you enjoy what I write here.