Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Review: Uncommon Goods gift guide

I've just finished a busy run of work and during this brief period while I still have some money in the bank I've been getting as much Christmas shopping done as possible. I love buying presents and spend ages searching for gifts that are unique and quirky but also have a personal touch for my friends and family.

I was really excited to be contacted by Daniel at Uncommon Goods because not only did it give me an excuse to browse the website for hours and oogle all the precious things of the shop, but they were kind enough to let me choose some items to help me review their website.

UG is a marketplace style site run out of Brooklyn, New York specialising in unusual, handmade goods. Don't worry, most of their gifts can be ordered internationally and prices can be seen in British pounds which is handy. The company strives to minimise environmental impact as much as possible, both themselves and their artists use sustainable or recycled products where possible. They are also part of a program called Better To Give which allows customers to choose a parter to donate $1 of their orders to, something I'm sure all of us can get behind.

I went ahead and chose some bits, they're all items I loved personally but also all pretty affordable so they would make great gifts. If your taste is drastically different to mine don't fear, there is a huge range of products on the site.

Miniature things, who doesn't love them? So cute!! I knew instantly I needed to give this tiny boat to a friend who loves everything nautical. I love a gimmick so the oar for scooping out the salt pleases me greatly. It will make such a sweet addition to the dinner table or even just kept on the kitchen counter. This little, pewter boat was handmade in Nova Scotia which makes it that little bit more special I think.

This one is right up my street, I'm a big fan of anything anatomy/medical themed and I had the huge dilemma of which organ to chose. In the end it seemed a no-brainer to go for a classic heart. I'm currently having an internal struggle whether to keep this for myself or gift to a friend I know would also adore it. Sharing is caring right? (I want it.) There are 13 different organs to choose from, I kind of need the uterus too.

Oh be still my beating heart, is this not a thing of beauty? Pineapple, check. Gold, check. Functional, ding ding ding. I love this so much, it looks most majestic on my makeshift bar and too pretty to use but I'll be drinking out of this bad boy a lot over the Christmas season I'm sure, and you better believe I'll be smug about it. I wouldn't normally spend £25 on a tumbler for myself so this did feel like a treat and would make a super special gift for anyone else with as impeccable taste as me. *winks*

How sweet is this? I love the illustrations on this game which is what first caught my eye. My friends and I tend to get together for games nights from time to time and it's something my family like to do at Christmas as well so I feel like this will get some good use. It's all very compact and portable so is a good one to chuck in your bag and take out, I can't wait to have an excuse to play it.

Last but definitely not least is this awesome print, as you can see it goes perfectly with my slowly growing gallery wall. I love the simple, monochrome design, it's very much my style. There are quite a few great prints on the site but this one jumped out at me, I'm really glad I chose this.

I spent an awful long time looking through the Gift section on Uncommon Goods, trying to whittle down what I wanted and once I'd finally made a decision I was really excited to receive the box of goodies and find that they were just as wonderful as they looked on the site. They arrived quickly and were packaged well to protect everything inside, the quality of the products is perfect and I'd feel very confident ordering from UG in the future.

I did notice that because the site has such a wide range of gifts it's easy to find something for everyone, I always struggle shopping for the men of my family but there are some great bits and pieces for all the guys in your life here and here. It's always the trickiest part of Christmas shopping for me.

Also if you like what I've shown you so far in this post, do check out the Uncommon Collection which features exclusive products meeting the highest standards for uncommon design, sustainability and doing good. This is such a nice idea to showcase those items that are specifically environmentally friendly and using resourceful business practices in their creation.

I'd love to hear what you thought of the items I chose or if you've spotted anything else on the site you'll be ordering, it's so nice to discover a little haven for new and original products so you can really feel like you're giving your loved ones something special. It's the same excitement I get from markets, second hand stores or even TKMaxx - the treasure hunter in me is content.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Skincare Review: Proaura serum

I'm back with another skincare review, this time from a brand that is completely new to me. I'm always excited to try new products on the eternal quest for better skin, if you're not on this ride please don't tell me, the world wouldn't be able to handle my jealousy.

Proaura is a Vitamin C Face Serum with Astaxanthin which is boasted as nature's most powerful antioxidant and 60 times more powerful than Vitamin C. Proaura has both as well as hyaluronic acid and claims to help your skin with ageing in a number of ways. Firming the skin and increasing elasticity, long lasting hydration and restoring vitality to dull, tired looking complexions. This last point is what peaked my interest the most, my lifestyle is erratic and work often means long days and little sleep, sometimes out in harsh weather.

One more thing, Proaura is hypoallergenic, paraben and fragrance free which I know is a big plus for some of you guys.

As mentioned already I love to try products that will help with my dull, tired skin when I've been on a big work stint, but I was also intrigued to give Proaura a go when I noticed one of the main ingredients was hyaluronic acid. I tend to go for products containing hyaluronic acid quite a lot as they've always worked nicely on my skin, keeping it brighter due to the added hydration.

As you can see the packaging is very simple, I always like this look as it's almost got an old apothecary feel. I'm okay with a clinical look, I associate it with something that works and is good for you before I've even given it a go.

You dispense the product using the built in pipette and don't need a lot of it at all. I tend to use a little extra so I can take it down my neck too and give me slightly more time to rub it into my skin. You get a tightening feeling as it sets so I like to follow it up with a moisturiser whether I'm using it before bed or under my makeup.

Now Proaura claims to deliver visible results in just three to four days of application, I'm not sure I could say I saw any dramatic change in my case but my skin definitely feels a little more smooth and looks slightly brighter and more even, but I do have to use it daily. I also used to be quite conscious of a couple of forehead lines I'd developed yet these seem to be less noticeable lately. I don't know if Proaura has reduced them or made my makeup sit nicer but I'm very grateful either way.

I have to admit I've been using this product for quite a while before I got the time to write my review and am now nearly at the end of the bottle. I do love to try new products each time something runs out but I am going to be sad when this runs out.

Proaura is usually £35 for a 30ml bottle which I think is a reasonable price due to how far it goes, but I noticed it's currently on sale for £25 so now is definitely the time to grab it here.

If you do give it a try I'd love to hear your thoughts and I hope you enjoy it as much as me.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette

I've not had much time for blog reading recently but I'm betting this palette has been a hot topic of discussion since it's release. Urban Decay are kind enough to regularly send me products for use in my kit and the Naked Heat palette was the latest treat. It's also probably the one I've been most excited to receive so far.

I was very pleased when Urban Decay moved over to hard plastic packaging, it is a bit too bulky for my liking but I still very much prefer it, it's easy to wipe clean and gives plenty of protection to the product inside. I love the colour scheme used for this palette, it perfectly reflects the gorgeous shades inside. I prefer the long, slim palettes than their other styles, they're a lot more practical both in my kit and popping in personal makeup bags.

I'm a big fan of neutrals and warm tones when it comes to my personal eye makeup but I'm also a creature of habit and have been using the same couple of shades from the original Kat Von D Shade and Light palette for years now. I favour orange toned browns but as soon as I opened this palette I was immediately drawn to the shade 'En Fuego' and couldn't try it quick enough.

I love that there is a mixture of mattes and shimmer, I'm strictly a matte user myself but once in a blue moon for a special occasion I may branch out. 'Dirty Talk', 'Scorched' and 'Lumbre' look like they will be beautiful together and right up my street.

I had a little play almost as soon as I received the palette and have been wearing this look a lot ever since. I used 'Cayenne' as a base colour all around the eye then built up with 'En Fuego' which did not disappoint, I absolutely adore this shade. Then I ran 'Ashes' under my bottom lashes and blended everything out a little with 'Chaser'.

I do have to say I was really very impressed with the quality of these eyeshadows. In the past I've found Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes can be slightly hit with colour payoff but these have been so strong and with no fallout, which is pretty much a godsend if you're like me and always seem to be doing your makeup in a hurry.

Something else I noticed was the staying power of these eyeshadows. I find sometimes I've lost my eye makeup completely by the end of the day yet these have remained strong every time I've used them. I do appreciate that a lot, it's nice to go out and know you'll not have to retouch anything.

I'm looking forward to trying out a few more shades but can't promise I won't just be all 'En Fuego' all the time.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

I heart metallics!

A super quick, Sunday post just to shout out my love for metallics. My whole house is dappled with pops of copper and gold and it seems to have spread to my makeup kit too. I can't help myself.

I'm sure all of you will recognise the Real Techniques brushes here, I love these dearly, of course they're very pretty but I've always been a big fan of their great quality brushes and even more so since the tapered handles were introduced, they're now so much more practical.

The four brushes on the left are from Royal & Langnickel, I grabbed them at IMATS earlier in the year. So affordable and so cute. I have a few of their brushes in my kit as generally I find them to be very good quality but also I don't mind if they get wrecked because they're not expensive.

Lastly the three in the middle are by a brand I've never heard of, Jolie Couture. I've not tried them, they may be terrible, but it was a must have TKMaxx purchase, because metallic gold. Worst case they will end up in my FX kit covered in glue and blood.

I definitely do not need any more makeup brushes, I have bags and bags of them, buuuuut if you know of any other must have metallic ones...feel free to leave me links.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Review: Trilogy skincare

Summer is here, or at least that's what my increased bbq and beer intake tells me. So, lets chat skincare to keep our bodies smooth and our clothes to a minimum!

My experience of Trilogy as a brand has been very limited. Years ago I received one of their Rosehip Oils in a beauty box, which I very much enjoyed using, but once it was finished Trilogy sadly disappeared back into the beauty abyss.

When someone from Trilogy's marketing team offered to send me a few samples I jumped at the chance to be reunited with the brand that had blessed my skin so fleetingly. I must admit I was sent these goodies back in February but working away left this review hanging, though I hope the extended use will make it a little more informative.

I was sent this sweet, little drawstring bag with a small cleanser, moisturiser and balm. I'm a sucker for packaging as I'm sure I mention in every post, and also a glutton for makeup bags, and pouches...and well, just any small bag or container I can fill with things in the name of "organisation" and  throw into bigger bags to make me feel better about my chaotic life. TK Maxx is a dangerous game, but a game I will continue to play 'til they stop letting me in. So you can imagine the content look on my face when I opened this bad boy and images of storing hair pins and jewellery started whizzing through my head. But enough about the pouch...

I've always liked the Trilogy branding, it's sleek and simple enough for me to want whatever is inside, must be luxurious right? I'm not as keen on the tin, but that's down to personal preference, I'm not one for florals and the break away from the sophisticated look of it's buddies messes with my chi.

You've got to really like rosehip to want to slather these products all over yourself, I never think I'm one for strong scents but I do enjoy this one. It's an earthy floral that I associate with natural and herbal products which instantly feels like I'm doing my skin some good.

I enjoyed the cleanser because not only does it do a great job at breaking down the thick layer of foundation I'm wearing, it can also be used around the eyes. I only really got back into wash off cleansers in the last six months so this has been a pleasure to use. I like to massage it all over my face then remove with a Makeup Eraser cloth and warm water, not having to add an extra step to get rid of my mascara is a god send. As you'd want from any good cleanser, it leaves my skin feeling clear, and fresh - I wish my skin always looked as good as it does straight after a cleanse.

The moisturiser was lovely too, a slightly different scent combined with the rosehip base, I preferred this as a morning moisturiser as it's quite light and I favour thicker products overnight. Being light also means a little goes a long way checking that value for money tick box, as well as absorbing nice and quickly without leaving a residue on the skin.

Ironically after my branding comments, my favourite has to be the Everything Balm, I love a multipurpose product, (Paw-Paw and Homeoplasmine being my usual go to's), but Trilogy's version did not disappoint. Being more solid than the alternatives I mentioned it works by scooping out a little and warming it up on your skin. I mainly used it on my lips, around my nose and on some random patches of dry skin I'd been getting. It was nice and soothing and also appeared to be pretty fast acting. I also like to use products like this as a preventative measure as winter approaches, why spend time trying to heal cracked lips if you can avoid getting them in the first place. It might not always be the best look with a ton of balm smeared over your face in the day but I like to slather it on and sleep in it if I have any problem areas. This wonder product is good to use on face and body so get at it!

I'm rather prone to break outs and I've made peace with the fact that I'm not going to find a miracle product that will stop this, BUT I do tend to be a creature of habit with my skincare because I don't want to make it worse. I was happy to find none of these products increased my breakouts and just as important, made my skin feel good after use.

Now I don't know if these sample packs are available to buy anywhere but I've linked above to the full sized products. It has definitely re-opened my eyes to the power of Trilogy, and as a luxurious feeling brand without the boss level prices I'm definitely hoping to try a few more. My only advice would be to try and sample them in person if you know you are sensitive to strong scented products, but other than that, get it on ya!

If you're interested in learning a bit more about the rosehip oil Trilogy use for their products and why it is so beneficial for our skin do check out this infographic.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Review: Makeup Forever Aqua XL Liners

If you caught my IMATS haul you'll know I purchased three of the Aqua XL eye liner pencils by Makeup Forever. I had planned to stock up on Zoeva pencils which are pretty lush but as I walked away from the busy counter intending to go back and grab them later in the evening I spotted these beauts. They were good enough to make me forget Zoeva altogether.

Seems like it's a bit soon to write about eyeliners again after THIS post but at least I can directly compare the two products now, because everything is always a competition apparently?

[M-10 Matte Black // M-14 Matte Charcoal Grey // S-50 Satiny Taupe]

I chose three neutral (some may say boring) pencils which are the only shades I really use on a regular basis in my kit.

I love MUF branding, it's so simple and professional looking. I shy away from anything too quirky or girly when it comes to my kit so I enjoy having MUF on display.

The pencils themselves are very creamy so they glide onto the skin effortlessly. As you might be able to tell in this last image, the taupe has a very slight shimmer to it being that it's a satin formula whilst the other two are mattes.

I found that once applied you needed to work relatively quickly if you wanted to blend them out with a brush because when left to air dry for a couple of minutes they became pretty much smudge proof. I was pleased to find they were stubborn when removing with water also which is always a good sign for anyone who cry laughs as much as me.

I have to say that using these has made me reevaluate my thoughts on the ELF liners which honestly aren't bad, but these are a dream. Right now I'm obsessed and can't imagine wanting anything else.

I really am impressed with all three and I think next time I need to stock up on eyeliners I would go straight back to MUF. There's also twenty shades in total which is fantastic for anyone who gets use of the bright colours as well as the more natural tones.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

IMATS London 2016 - Pro Kit Haul

Another trade show, another empty wallet. I've just spent three days at IMATS and it's left me equally inspired and exhausted.

I love the makeup trade shows not just for the shopping but also for the talks and demos. This year I got to hear a ton of incredible artists discussing their work and careers and also got to catch up with loads of friends and colleagues some who I'd never get to meet in person usually.

So after the UMAE haul the plan was to be restrained and only get the few things I really needed at IMATS. I had intended to do all my shopping at the pro night on the Friday then just go to talks all of Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately I found myself with half an hour spare on Sunday and did some more damage.

This haul probably isn't as exciting as my UMAE one unless you're into the FX side of makeup but I'll run through everything I got anyway.

PS Composites - I picked up a small bottle of Telesis 8 and the new remover, it's just been released and after seeing some great artists raving about it online I had to grab some to try. These glues are mega expensive but will hold an appliance on all day. I also picked up some large mixing sticks, a set of rasp tools and a couple of tubes of a one-part silicone that I sometimes use for painting other silicone pieces. There's also two nice, thin angled brushes you can hardly spot in the picture which I picked up at the counter when I went to pay, can never have enough of these for fine lines.

Neill's Materials - All I got from here was the pack of 6 silicone pigments, I have a lot of pigments already all by a brand called Mouldlife but not many in skin tones so this was a great find and was a great show price.

Tilt - I knew I wanted to stock up on some Pro-bondo and Tilt seemed to be the only place selling it, so I grabbed a big pot of that. I also raided their selection of Bluebird products which are alcohol based meaning that they're waterproof and also perfect for colouring prosthetic appliances.

bdellium - You may remember the FX brush set I got at UMAE, well I couldn't resist stopping by bdellium and grabbing their second set. I tend to use a lot of cheap brushes and paintbrushes for FX work as it doesn't matter if they get ruined but I'd decided to be brave and work with some nicer ones from now on.

Makeup Forever - I'd been wanting to try their brush cleaner for ages after an artist assisting me earlier this year told me it's great for spot cleaning as it dries so quickly...we shall see if it passes the test. I also bought three of the Aqua XL liners, my intention had been to stock up on Zoeva ones but these were such a lovely creamy consistency.

PAM - I told myself not to get anything else from Le Maq Pro for a while but I fell in love with their highlighter palette which I'd never seen before, the shades are so striking and I am very excited to use it now. I also picked up their FX palette while I was there because I get annoyed lugging grease palettes about for small things with all the pans popping out as I travel, these will do the job nicely in these situations.

GURU - At Guru I bought the Makeup Forever brush tube which was another thing recommended to me by that same artist, she was full of great ideas. It's a really nice shape and though I'm not entirely sure which brushes will go where I can never get enough things like this as I'm always swapping my kit around depending on the job. I also grabbed a couple more Vueset palettes, one of the small Makeup Forever magnetic palettes and a RCMA transparent powder.

Crown Brush - I picked out a selection of their affordable brushes to update my face and body painting kit. Some of mine were getting to be a little worse for wear and I always find I lack in fluffy brushes in this kit.

Love Makeup - Last but not least, although I bought a brush tube from Nanshy recently but when I saw Love selling these Monda ones for a tenner I had to have one. In fact maybe I should have gotten more. Again I'm not sure which brushes will end up in here but it will no doubt come in handy.

The awesome Bluebird products I picked up for making actors look sunburnt and dirty. The bottom two tubes are actually concealers which are fantastic for tattoo cover as once on, they don't budge. As all of these products are alcohol based they have to be cleaned off with proper removers.

Isn't it beautiful, I love that rose gold shade SO much, and although my work doesn't call for using highlighters on a regular basis I'm gonna really enjoy using these when it does. It's tempting to book in some beauty tests just to have a play.

I also wanted to share the free gifts I was given due to being a gold pro card holder. Guru was kind enough to give me the two Makeup Forever bags, which are really great quality and feel nice and luxurious, I actually started using them straight away. bdellium gave me the two packs of angled liners which are apparently the same quality as their other brushes so not disposable, which I'm sure will come in handy. Tilt popped in a pizza wedge which I have a couple of from them already and are always useful. Lastly, Makeup Forever threw in another aqua liner in this lovely teal shade.

Not bad really, but I mustn't buy any more makeup for a while after these two events. I am excited to get using all my new bits in some upcoming jobs now, it's always nice to freshen up my kit and new products forces me to experiment slightly which is always fun.