Sunday, 30 August 2015

Mini Haul | Foundations & Concealers

I've been limiting my makeup products as I tend to rely on the same items day after day but I ended up purchasing a light foundation and a few liquid colour-correcting concealers which were missing from my collection.

Summer is almost over but it's still so muggy in the UK and I'm not loving the feeling of a full face of makeup on a hot, sticky day! I can't go without makeup completely either though, so the MAC Face & Body Foundation seemed like a good option. It's probably better for dry skin types rather than my oily-prone face but I love that it's so light and the finish is really natural.

I've been more proactive with covering blemishes and dark marks on my skin too which means I don't have to wear as much foundation. I usually don't mind the odd scar on show but there are some areas of my skin I do prefer to cover. I've been using the KIKO Natural Concealer in Shade 04 to cover some redness on my face underneath my foundation. It blends easily and gives a decent amount of coverage. I've also been using the Rich Yellow half of the MAC Studio Conceal and Correct Duo to brighten my eye area.

I've been using the other (Burnt Coral) half of the MAC Duo on my leg. I was very badly bitten by an unknown insect last summer and it left some pretty horrendous dark pigmentation on my leg. I've been living in tights and jeans since it happened as the scarring was actually black and pitted initially. It's definitely affected the frequency of my outfit posts as I now don't wear a lot of what were my favourite clothes. Thankfully the area has lightened up a little though with time which means it's slightly easier to cover with makeup. I've been using the MAC Face & Body Foundation as a base and then colour-correcting the dark marks with the burnt coral concealer, before applying my usual concealer and blending in. It's not a perfect fix but it's helped me be more confident with getting my legs out after hiding them for so long.

I haven't had a huge amount of experience with Keromask, but I purchased one of their sample kits last year and I found myself always dipping my foundation brush into the Camouflage Cream Mixer in Yellow. I'm a bit obsessive about ensuring my foundation is the right shade/undertone and I always end up mixing products together to make the right shade. I have a couple of old foundations which I stopped wearing as they're a little too on the red/pink side for my skin and the Yellow mixer warms the shades up making them a better match for my skin. It's a tiny bottle but it's so pigmented and I only need a little product with each use so I know this will last me a long time.

What have you been buying recently?

Lesley x

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Everyday Essentials | Hair Ties

I often feature my favourite haircare products on my blog but rarely talk about the essential hair tools which I rely on day after day. I wear my hair in a bun pretty much constantly. Yes, it gets boring but hey it keeps my hair out of my face and limits my morning hair routine to no longer than 5 minutes, which is a win in my eyes. My hair is the shortest it's been for a while, and yet with my transition (to texlaxed) it seems to have expanded outwards with more volume than ever. As much as I love having the appearance of big hair, trying to get it in a bun every day makes arm muscles I didn't know I had ache. I may have also broken a world record for the amount of metal-free hairbands I've snapped before successfully tying my hair up. I ended up looking for alternative hair ties which provide the hold I need without damaging my hair and these 3 have served me well.

Thick Elastics (£1.99/6 pack)
These thick metal-free scrunchies are just the right size with the right amount of stretch to make tying up my hair a breeze. I don't know the exact name of these but I got them from Pak Cosmetics (in-store). There's no glue holding the band together, it's just a rolled strip of stretchy fabric which means they've lasted me far longer than any other metal-free bands I've tried and I haven't managed to snap one yet!

Scunci Bungee Elastics (£3.99/5 pack)
Bungee ties are another good staple of mine and I got these ones in Superdrug. I found them a bit awkward to actually put in my hair at first as you have to place one hook into your hair before wrapping the cord around and hooking in the other side. Now I'm used to them I find them much easier to put in my hair than a regular hair tie. I can easily choose the tightness of my ponytail and it stays that way without slipping out or loosening throughout the day. I can effortlessly adjust the tightness of my ponytail if needed too. I was worried the hooks might cause some damage to my hair but I've never snagged or pulled out hair using these. In fact I lose more hair when I'm not using my bungee elastics. 

Invisibobble Hair Rings in Crystal Clear (£3.75/3 pack)
The invisibobble resembles a telephone cord which admittedly is a pretty strange design, but the idea is that the structure makes it difficult for a dent to be left in your hair after tying it up. They can be seen in your hair which is the downside for me but otherwise I quite like these. These are great for when I want to keep my hair straight but might have to tie it up temporarily. I have the clear rings which I got from Boots but you can get them in a few different colours. They're not very stretchy and can lose their shape but I usually just put them in a bowl of hot water to get them to shrink back to their original size.

What hair tools do you like to use?

Lesley x

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Review | Big Hair Products

I received a few products from Big Hair a couple of months ago which I've been using on and off. Big Hair is a natural haircare company which has a range of products created with mostly natural ingredients and I was sent their Soft Clean SLS Free Shampoo (£9.95/200ml)*, DEEP Conditioning Hair Treatment (£14.95/200g)* and Leave In Moisturising Milk (£12.95/200ml)*.

I love using natural products where possible but I like convenience too so it's great when you find a company which makes using natural products easy. The products are on the pricey side and are fairly small in size but the quality of the ingredients justifies this a little.

The Soft Clean SLS Free Shampoo has the highest natural ingredient content of the products here and it's made with Sweet Orange Oil giving it a gorgeous citrus scent. It lathers pretty well and you can get away with just one application and rinse. It leaves my scalp and hair feeling so clean, I love it! The formula is supposed to be non-drying but my hair gets so parched I can't skip a pre shampoo treatment before using this.

I absolutely love the DEEP Conditioning Hair Treatment. It's made with Moroccan Rhassoul Clay which I've wanted to try for a long time and it leaves my hair so soft. The product is quite thick, but easy to spread through damp strands after shampooing. The tub is quite small, and though my hair isn't that thick or even that long currently, it's very dense which means I tend to use a lot of my deep conditioner each wash day. I've used this conditioner 3 times sparingly and I have just enough left for one more treatment. I wish the tub was bigger, but if your hair is shorter and you don't deep condition as often as me this is a great product to have on hand.

I've got the most use out of the Leave In Moisturising Milk which I've been using regularly since I received it. I'd say it's more like a cream than a milky product but it's still very light and gives the hair a good amount of hydration. The main ingredients are Aloe Vera, Murumuru butter and Shea butter, all great ingredients which have helped keep my hair soft. The Milk doesn't have much of a scent which is not really a problem, but I do tend to prefer products which have some sort of fragrance in them.

Overall Big Hair is a great brand with some well made products. I would definitely consider buying at least the deep conditioner which I'd rotate with a few other favourites I have already. I really want to try the Big Hair Moisture Me Whipped Butter next which LaaLaa from Dolce Vanity has reviewed on her blog here.

*Sample. See my disclaimer here.

Have you tried Big Hair products?

Lesley x

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Wash Day Routine [Video]

I haven't created a wash day routine video for my YouTube channel for 2 years so I've put together an updated version. In reality my wash day has barely changed. Often the ways in which I care for my hair stay the same, it's only the products I use which change.

There's 3 main elements to my wash days - pre shampoo, shampoo and deep condition. Sometimes I may deviate from these 3 but this rarely happens so this video explains pretty much what I do every time I wash my hair.

The Video:

If you have any questions or suggestions for videos you'd like to see next let me know. 

What's your wash day like?

Lesley x

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Glowwbox | August 2015

Glowwbox posts have been frequenting my blog since December 2014 but in case you didn't know Glowwbox is a beauty subscription service (£15 + P&P per month) aimed at women with darker skin. This month's Glowwbox is the 'USA All Stars' Edition* and includes some of the American brands us Brits are crazy about.

There's 6 products inside in total, 4 of which are full-size: OGX Argan Oil & Shea Butter Shampoo (£6.99/385ml), OGX Argan Oil & Shea Butter Conditioner (£6.99/385ml), Revlon PhotoReady Primer, Shadow + Sparkle (£8.99), Revlon Nail Enamel in Perfect Coral (£6/14.7ml), Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner (full size £16.99/300ml) and Design Essentials Hydrience Argan Moisture Replenishing Mist (full size 118ml). This post is more of a 'what's inside' than a review but this is the first time I've received a Glowwbox and been familiar with every brand included. 

OGX has a massive range of hair products and I've tried a few but not the Argan Oil & Shea Butter range before. Both of these products smell beautiful. The shampoo doesn't strip my hair and the conditioner leaves my strands feeling very soft and silky. I tend to prefer using deep conditioners to keep my strands hydrated so I'll probably use this conditioner to co-wash. I may even try this as a pre shampoo treatment to detangle my hair before washing as it gives it a nice amount of slip.

I love using leave-in conditioners post-wash so the Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner is an interesting addition to this box. The full-size product is pretty pricey so it's good to see a decent sized sample included. It's been several years since I last tried Mixed Chicks products and coincidentally I was sent a few by the company last week (but I'll save the details for another post when I've had time to fully try all of the products). The Design Essentials Mist is my kind of product. It smells deliciously fruity and gives the hair a moisture boost whilst leaving it feeling really smooth. The texture of the product is slightly oily but it's still quite light. 

I love the quality and affordability of Revlon products and the PhotoReady Palette and Nail Enamel are no exception. They're not colours I would ordinarily pick but the coral-toned nail polish is a gorgeous summer shade and I'd love to try a khaki eye makeup look using the palette similar to this one.

This Glowwbox is on sale now. If you're interested you can get your first Glowwbox for £5.95 using this link and checkout code: FRESHL (the offer is only available until 31st August).

*sample - all of the products in this box were provided courtesy of Glowwbox. See my disclaimer here.

Have you tried a Beauty Box Subscription service?

Lesley x

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Hair | Upside Down Braided Bun

This is another style I've been meaning to do but have avoided when my hair is in its usual texlaxed/relaxed state as it can tangle up really easily. My hair is still pretty smooth since being straightened last week but my edges have reverted back to curly and it's been raining so much I've just wanted to keep my hair tucked away.

To create this style I sectioned off a small area at the front and twisted it out of the way. I then flipped my head over and combed my hair out to remove any tangles. With my head still positioned upside down I took a very small section at the top, split this in to 3 and started a regular French braid until it reached the top of my head. I secured the braid with a ponytail and then French braided the front section as normal until I reached the middle of my head. I then took the sections together and wrapped them around a small hair doughnut to create an even shaped bun. The result is a little messy but it made my everyday bun a little more interesting.

This video best explains the steps I did, the only difference being that I french braided the top section too. I'll definitely be trying this again though I'll try to make it a little neater next time.

What styles have you been doing with your hair?

Lesley x

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Hair | Halo Braid

A halo braid is definitely something I've been itching to try properly. I've tried variations but it's never come out quite as expected. My hair has been straight for the past few days since Michelle Thompson and her team smoothed it out for Saturday's KeraCare Photoshoot and it's a bit of a novelty to have sleek hair that I actually want to style. I've been so stuck in my low maintenance and no heat routine that I forgot how much I used to love creating different hairstyles.

This halo braid was pretty easy to put together. There's a couple of ways you can achieve the style and as my hair is currently on the shorter side (for me) I decided to braid around the whole of my head rather than have two separate braids and wrap these over the top (see here and here). 

I sectioned off a little of the front of my hair so I could have a subtle fringe (bangs) and wispy bits to make the look more casual. As my hair was still pretty straight at the front I added a little Eco styler gel mixed with oil and wrapped the sections around flexi rollers to create waves. I then wrapped my hair in a satin scarf and slept with the style in overnight. In the morning I took out the rollers and used bobby pins to tuck in any parts that were a bit loose.

What have you been doing with your hair?

Lesley x

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Behind the Scenes | KeraCare Blogger Photoshoot

If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen the majority of my snaps from the past weekend, but for those of you who don't know, I was invited to a weekend of pampering by KeraCare in Birmingham along with other bloggers Megisa (My Black Hair), Diane (I Grew It Long) and Fatou (Black in the Air). The weekend included a makeover and 70s themed photoshoot to be featured in Black Beauty & Hair magazine where we were styled by award-winning hairstylist Michelle Thompson at the Francesco Group.

Day 1 - Prep 

I arrived at Francesco Group Salon around 11am and straight away Michelle got to work, asking what I use on my hair already and how I care for it generally. We'd been asked to send in photos of our hair before the shoot and I explained that my hair is a big mix of textures from relaxing and texlaxing. Michelle decided that she wanted my hair to be in wavy styles for the shoot and showed me her mood board depicting some classic wavy styles from the 70s. 

My hair was quite tangled and dry when I arrived so KeraCare Conditioning Mist (which melts away even the the difficult knots) was sprayed throughout my hair to detangle. My usual Shampoo from the Dry & Itchy range (reviewed here) was then applied neatly with a tint brush in small sections on my scalp. I sat for 5-10 minutes with the shampoo applied and then my hair was washed, deep conditioned and blowdried. A few drops of silken seal was smoothed on my strands before blowdrying to protect my hair from the heat. My hair was then straightened in very small sections and trimmed to even my ends. I now have blunt bra strap length hair and I've never been happier with the look of my ends! Finally my hair was delicately wrapped into a neat bun at the nape to complete the prep.

Later that evening we were all treated to a relaxing pampering session at the hotel we were staying - the Hyatt Regency Birmingham. I have to admit other than the odd face mask and mani/pedi I don't really indulge in pampering. It was definitely an experience, a surprisingly enjoyable one, to have a full body scrub, back massage and facial. All of us were feeling so relaxed and ready for sleep by the time our sessions had ended. Last on the day's agenda was a spot of dinner before finally retiring to a ridiculously comfortable bed. It definitely made it harder to get up the following morning!

Day 2 - The Photoshoot 

With an early start we all arrived at the salon just before 8. My hair was blown out and straightened again as it had started to revert a little - my hair never wants to stay straight which is why I rarely bother with heat. My hair was then curled with tongs in between sprays of KeraCare Styling Spritz before rolling into pin curls to set.

My makeup was then applied for the first look - a natural fresh face with pink lips and subtle eyeshadow to compliment a casual peach-toned playsuit. My hair was then carefully combed out and moulded into waves with a centre parting. I studied Michelle in awe of how she twisted the comb in certain directions to get my hair to fall exactly how she wanted.

For the second look I was dressed in a lilac jumpsuit with gold floral detailing on the straps and across the waist. Dressed in evening attire, my hair was swept to one side and held with (15) criss-crossed bobby pins to keep it in place - it actually held the same shape until the end of the night! My makeup was ramped up slightly with a little MAC heroine applied to my lips and purple shadow swept across my eyelids.

After the shoot we popped to George Kosit's salon opening and found a bite to eat later in Birmingham town centre rounding off a really lovely weekend. Michelle's team worked tirelessly to ensure not one hair (literally) was out of place and MUA Jess gave me some awesome tips on how to cover really bad scarring on my leg from insect bites last year. Lets just say colour correcting is key and MAC's face and body foundation is now on my wishlist. I'd like to thank everyone involved, it was organised perfectly with such a great group of people who I hope to see again in the future. The photos from the shoot should be featured in Black Beauty & Hair magazine soon. 

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Lesley x

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Review | KIKO Pencil Lipglosses

I've had these KIKO pencil lipglosses (£3.90 each) for a while and these shades are the perfect tones to finish off my everyday makeup looks. 

I don't have much KIKO makeup but everything I've bought from them I've been impressed by. The pricing is similar to your typical drugstore brand and the quality of the products I've tried make them really good value for money.

Both of the lip pencil shades I have are very pigmented and last fairly well throughout the day, but touch ups are needed. Shade 10 (top) is really similar to Maybelline Color Drama Velvet Lip Pencil in Nude Perfection (reviewed here) but this KIKO pencil just has the edge as the formula is more creamy and not as dry. Shade 12 (bottom) is a soft plum tone which I'll probably be wearing more often when autumn rolls around.

Overall I really love these lip gloss pencils. They have just the right amount colour and shine and are very easy to apply. I only have two shades currently but I'd definitely pick up some more.

Have you tried anything by KIKO?

Lesley x

Monday, 3 August 2015

Review | ORS Shealicious

My hair has been looking a little dull recently so I was quite excited to try two products from the ORS Shealicious range - the Shine Booster Conditioning Cocktail (£4.99)* and the Cleansing Balm Sulfate-Free Hydrating Shampoo (£4.99/236ml)*. The shampoo is very creamy and rich and the conditioner resembles a yoghurt pot (muller corner anyone?) Both feature very bright and colourful packaging and smell deliciously fruity.

I used both of these products yesterday, starting with the Cleansing Balm. The instructions advise shampooing twice, leaving the balm on the hair for 2-3 minutes on the second application. The shampoo left my hair feeling very soft and not as stripped as I'm used to with some of my other cleansing products. I then moved onto the Conditioning Cocktail which is separated into two parts, one half containing the conditioner and the other the oils.

The oils are poured into the conditioner and mixed together to create the cocktail. The conditioner is made with Shea Butter giving it a good thick consistency. The oil mix contains Amla, Argan, Sunflower and Sesame Oils. Whilst there's plenty of oil included, there's not much conditioner. The conditioner tub is only about half full but there's enough room, even with the oil mixed in, for the tub to be 3 quarters full. The product also doesn't come with something to mix the conditioner and oil together.

You can use this product as a co-wash or deep conditioner but I wanted to get the most of out this so I opted for the latter. I smoothed the mixed conditioner onto wet hair and applied a plastic cap for 15 minutes.

The pot only contains enough for one application and if your hair is longer or thicker than mine you'll probably need another pot. I like to apply my conditioner generously and this only just about covered all of my hair (which is the shortest it's been for a year, see here).

Despite limited product my hair felt so good after rinsing - it was so smooth and soft. I'd definitely use this product again though it would be much better if this came in bottles rather than for single use. I like to deep condition my hair every wash so if I started using this all the time I'd have to buy a pot every week! I might buy a couple of pots and keep them on hand for when I feel like mixing it up (no pun intended).

I've already seen this product pop up in my local Boots and it will also be available in Tesco from September.

*sample - read my disclaimer here.

What conditioners do you like to use?

Lesley x