Thursday, 30 June 2016

Review | Illamasqua Makeup

Last month Look Fantastic officially launched stocking British beauty brand Illamasqua on their website. Illamasqua is one of those brands I've wanted to try after so many recommendations but I wasn't entirely sure where to start with so many products being suggested to me. At the launch I received (left to right above) the Hydra Veil (£32), the Masquara in Raven Midnight Black (£18), the Lipstick in Box (£19.50) and the Gel Sculpt (£22)*.

Of the products here, the lipstick is my absolute favourite (but you all know by now that lip products are always my weakness). The shade Box is a beautiful matte scarlet red and I've been reserving it mostly for night's out. The pigmentation is stunning and the colour lasts fairly well, even when eating and drinking! The Gel Sculpt has been a much needed addition to my makeup collection too. All my makeup culling at the beginning of the year left my contouring and highlighting game very weak. Until recently contouring was not something I did on a daily basis (or ever at all really) but the Gel Sculpt makes it so easy to add that dimension back to my face after applying foundation. It looks dark in the packaging but the formula is quite sheer and buildable. Applying is easy and blends so effortlessly - there's no muddy-looking finish so it's great for anyone who isn't used to contouring often. I definitely prefer this type of product to the contouring powders I've used in the past.

The Hydra Veil combines a moisturiser with a primer and has a strange jelly-like texture. You can scoop out a little with the tiny spoon provided and when you apply it melts onto the skin and feels really refreshing. It leaves the skin with a good base to apply makeup on leaving a natural finish. Recently how I prep my skin before makeup has become just as important as applying my makeup. Having tried a lot of different primers this year the Hydra Veil is definitely my favourite. The only thing I'm not crazy about is the packaging as I generally prefer to use something with a pump or in squeezy tube. The Masquara defines the lashes well and has a great formula but I tend to go for products with a comb-like wand. I have small eyes and I'm always massively clumsy with mascara so if the brush is too big it tends to go around, rather than on, my lashes! I found with this is I often would apply a little and then take a clean brow wand to distribute the product to prevent me smudging it everywhere. The shape of the wand alone is a reason I wouldn't buy this product, but if you have bigger eyes or wear falsies this may be more ideal for you!

You can get Illamasqua from Look Fantastic here

*samples received at an event - read my disclaimer here.

Have you tried Illamasqua?

Lesley x

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Review | 3Thirty Salon

I must be getting more comfortable with being back in a stylist's chair as this year I've frequented salons more than I have done in the last decade! Blogging has been the primary reason I've been able to of course which I'm so thankful for. If you've followed my blog or YouTube channel for a while you'll know if been dying to get a professional cut so it was perfect timing when Shoreditch-based Salon 3Thirty reached out to me.

I've been cutting my hair myself for the past few years partly as I didn't know where I could get a good cut and also as the goal until recently was to slowly cut off all of my chemically-treated hair -which made forking out for a decent hair cut pointless in my eyes. With my hair naturally curly my main goal was getting a cut that gave my hair a good shape and was tailored to my curls as I have no plans to wear my hair straight in the immediate future.

I met with Tiff J, owner of 3Thirty Salon, recently and after a consultation she recommended one of her custom blended hair treatments and a cut (£87)*. She focused on adding moisture so after washing my hair with Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo, she applied a mix of MIZANI Moisturfusion Silk Cream Conditioner and Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask. My hair was then wrapped in a plastic cap and left to infuse under the dryer for 20 minutes. My hair felt so soft afterwards and it was good to note a couple of products I'd used in the past on my relaxed hair still worked as well for my hair in it's curly state too.

Whilst still damp, Tiff meticulously cut my hair small sections at a time, taking care to ensure an even cut based on how my curls fell. I can part my hair anywhere and she took so little off the ends. For me it's night and day - my hair has more movement, looks more even and allowed me to wave goodbye to some pesky split-ends. After cutting, my hair was styled with Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Soufflé, diffused and finished with a little Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream. I only had my phone on me to take a few snaps in the salon but restyled my hair the next day at home so you can see how the cut looks in the first picture above.

The salon itself is gorgeously decorated and pretty convenient for me to get to. The cost of the services I received is a lot if you're like me and you're used to doing everything yourself. I have created my own DIY salon at home in lieu of frequent visits to a professional but I'm the first to (reluctantly) admit I can't do it all. I just loved the general aura of the salon too and I could see it as place I'd be returning to. Tiff explained that the cut she gave me should last 4 months but when I need another I know where to go.

*complementary treatment received - read my disclaimer here.

Do you go to a salon regularly?

Lesley x

Thursday, 16 June 2016

How To | Hot Oil Treatment [Video]

Hot oil treatments are the only thing that seems to help keep my hair from frizzing as much so even though it's warmer I've been relying on these treatments almost every week. I last made a video on hot oil treatments back in 2014 so I thought it was about time I did an update. In the video I take you through the two ways in which I do a hot oil treatment. Both methods are so easy and hot oil treatments can work well on all hair types, you may just have to adjust the oils you use or where you use them depending on your needs.

The Video:

Do you do hot oil treatments?

Lesley x

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Most used | Blushers & Bronzers

I can scarcely remember a time when I didn't apply blusher. My skin looks so flat and dull without it that I rely on this beauty product daily. I downsized my makeup collection massively this year in an attempt to generally declutter. The process involved a critical look at the items I reached for over and over. These blushers are my most used and loved.

Sleek Makeup Blush in Sahara (£4.99)
I love Sleek Makeup blushers as they're well-priced, pigmented and there's shades to suit a variety of skintones. I have a few shades of their blush but Sahara, a beautiful matte burnt-orange ideal for medium and darker skin, is my favourite. I only need to gently swirl my brush in this compact and sweep over the face for the perfect flush of colour. The compact is small so I often carry this around with me and a major plus is that I've dropped it more times than I can count without it shattering.

KIKO Shade Fusion Trio Blush in Abricot (£10.90)
KIKO also produces gorgeous high quality products at a low cost. This compact is slightly smaller and pricier than the Sleek Makeup blusher but it definitely makes up for it with the luxe-looking packaging. It has a magnetic closure too which is a great feature. I tend to wear the colours in this compact mixed together which creates a deep coral tone. The formula blends well and adds a subtle pop of colour. 

Maybelline Dream Sun Triple Bronzing Powder in Blonde (£5.99)
I never expected to love this bronzer as I actually picked up the wrong shade by mistake. It's not pigmented enough for my skintone when swatched (bonus points if you can actually spot the swatches on my hand) which had me doubting whether I should include it in this post. I felt I had to, as it's the most used product out of the 3 featured here, I just have to swirl my brush around in this compact a lot to pick up the colour. I tend to stick to the darker side and once it's on my cheeks the result is so gorgeous. My skin looks sunkissed without being overly shimmery or muddy looking and I can layer it with a blush if I want colour. It is a great budget buy for anyone with fair to light skin and I'd definitely buy it again, though next time I'll pick up the shade that's more suited to my skintone.

Do you use blushers?

Lesley x

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Laser Hair Removal at the Pulse Light Clinic

I've toyed with the idea of getting laser hair removal for some time, especially on my underarm area which is literally a pain to preen. My underarms are really sensitive so I find waxing, which removes the hairs well, too agonizing and hair removal creams only result in very sore underarms with hair still waving hello after the ordeal. The result? Shaving. Every. Single. Day. My underarms became more irritated and discoloured as a result. The Pulse Light Clinic contacted me last year about potentially reviewing their laser treatment and whilst I was keen (given my problems with hair removal) I wanted to do research before diving in. My main concern was that I've been given contradictory advice regarding laser treatments when I was looking for a solution for my acne a few years ago, notably that I wasn't a suitable candidate for laser due to my skin colour. What wasn't explained to me is there's actually a few different types of lasers which are tailored to different skin types and hair colours. The Pulse Light Clinic have 3 types of laser machines available at their clinic including NDYag which is suitable for dark and asian skin types and this definitely put me more at ease when deciding to go ahead with the treatment.

I had my consultation with practitioner Renee at the end of April at The Pulse Light Clinic on Percy Street. I was given more of an idea about the treatment and what to expect. I was advised that it can take around 8 sessions of the laser treatment to reduce hair growth and sessions are usually spaced 4-6 weeks apart depending on how the hair grows back. 'Top up' sessions can also be done if needed. According to their website the cost of one session for underarms is £83 or a course of 8 is £269*. A patch test was also conducted and I was advised to check for any scabbing or redness. I had no reaction to the laser at all and the feeling of the laser was like a pin prick, not painful but it felt slightly uncomfortable for a few seconds. 

I had my first session at the beginning of May. I was advised to shave my underarms before the treatment and to not wear deodorant. At first I found the session very uncomfortable. I asked the practitioner Renee to stop for a second as the patch test was such a breeze I was worried something was wrong. She used more air to cool the area during the laser process and this helped immediately with the discomfort. Overall the process was quick and I was in and out of the clinic within 20 minutes. My underarms felt a little sore but there was no visible redness.

In the weeks following the treatment I opted not to shave my underarms, though you can shave as much as you like between sessions. I really wanted to see how well the laser had worked and I wanted to give my underarms a bit of a break from shaving. I now no longer have any discolouration and half of the hair fell out completely and hasn't grown back yet. There was some hair which grew back but this was much finer than usual. I'm due for my next session very soon so I'm excited to see the results after a full course of treatment. If the treatment works as well as it has already I'd definitely consider getting laser hair removal on other areas of my body. 

As I've only had one session of the treatment so far I'll be posting an update of my experience in the next few months. If there's anything specific you'd like to know about my treatment feel free to ask and if you're interested in knowing more about laser hair removal from the Pulse Light Clinic they have details on their website here.

*complementary treatment received - read my disclaimer here.

Have you tried laser hair removal?

Lesley x

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

My Current Skincare Routine

I've had several requests recently to create an updated post for my skincare routine though in all honestly not much has changed since my last post in May 2015. I stick to the same methods and mostly the same products. As a teen with acne I used a lot of different products which promised the earth but they very rarely delivered. All I look for now is products which simply don't aggravate my skin and the below work well for me.

Cleansing & Exfoliating  
It's a bit excessive but I have 3 different products to cleanse my skin. Dr Bronner's Magic Soap (in Citrus Orange) is my go-to most days and I've been using this beauty solidly for over a year. I love that it's mostly made up of natural oils (like coconut, jojoba and olive) and it's one of those products which has so many uses. I bought the 946ml size of this soap this time last year and I'm only just reaching the end after decanting into a smaller bottle. I tend to use this to remove as much makeup as possible in the evenings or as a quick cleanse in the morning. 
When I'm not using the Castile Soap I've been relying on the Garnier Pure Active 3-in-1 Wash, Scrub & Mask. I've used this previously and I love the gritty texture which gently exfoliates and prevents my skin getting as oily. The formula includes eucalyptus and salicylic acid which gives a tingling sensation on the skin and really helps with waking me up on early mornings! I tend to use the Garnier Pure Active Micellar Cleansing Water as a final cleansing step to ensure all traces of makeup are gone or to remove makeup from delicate areas like the eyes. I'm currently using the version for oily skin but having tried the various types available I haven't found much of a difference between them.

Moisturising & Sun Protection 
Since the beginning of the year I've been using a few skincare items from Kiehl's to hydrate dry patches and give my tired-looking skin a boost. The Ultra Facial Cream sees the most use and I apply a little most mornings underneath makeup on the dry areas of my skin. It's so light and provides hydration without making my skin oily or greasy. I use the Creamy Eye Treatment less often, but it's so thick and rich I only need a tiny amount to perk up dry and tired eyes. During the evenings I tend to skip moisturiser after cleansing and simply apply a few drops of Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate. So little is needed and by morning my skin feels so soft.
I've been taking sun protection seriously in recent years and since I've noticed less dark spots (more on reducing those here). I've been using the Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield recently which is a primer, moisturiser and SPF all-in-one. It's the perfect concept though I'm not sure how well it protects my skin (review here). As a result, I tend to rely on the Solait Fluid most as I feel like this truly gives my skin the ultimate protection against the sun. Despite claiming to be matifying, I always have to go heavy on powder with the Solait Fluid (even when I don't actually want to wear makeup) as my face looks super oily otherwise. I find it doesn't really hydrate dry patches either so I still have to use my regular moisturiser on top. Ideally I'd love to simplify this area of my skincare routine as much as possible. I've had such a good experience using Kiehl's I'll be replacing the creams and SPF here with the Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 eventually. It's just a shame the moisturisers I have already don't have SPF in!

*sample - read my disclaimer here.

What do you use on your skin?

Lesley x

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Hair By EbonyB

I very rarely entrust my hair into the hands of others (my paranoia stems from one too many bad experiences in the past). Whilst I've gotten used to styling my own hair I'm the first to admit that there's a lot more styles I'd try if I had the skills to do them. One thing I've never been able to do well is braid and I've been itching to try another cornrowed style.

I've been in contact with Zuwena, owner of EbonyB Salon, for the past few months and I met with her for the first time yesterday. The salon is located in North London which is a bit of a trek from my neck of the woods but it was fairly easy to find. After a chat about how I generally care for and style my hair Zuwena suggested a braided style. My hair had only been washed the day before so she blowdried my hair before cornrowing with extensions. She was so gentle with my hair and I absolutely love the result so expect a few snaps of how I'll be wearing this style to pop up on my Instagram page soon.

This style usually costs from £35* and if you're interested in trying it too you can get 10% off by quoting 'Fresh Lengths' when booking between 7th - 21st June.

*Complementary hairstyle

What hairstyles do you like to do? 

Lesley x