Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Bloggers Hangout | Must Haves Box

The Bloggers Hangout sent over their 'must-haves' box for this month and it was rammed full of beauty and lifestyle products. There was so much in fact a lot had to be sent over separately by some of the brands involved. Due to the sheer amount of product included (45 items to be exact) I knew I wouldn't be able to test all of these and review them here before the end of the month, especially as a lot of the products are skincare products. I prefer to not overload my skin with too much at once (as it can be hard to tell what's working and what's not) so instead I've picked out and starting experimenting with a few products which really stood out to me.

Products were included from a massive variety of brands like Inlight, Dr PawPaw, Ruby Cosmetics, Tints of Nature, Nu Skin, Realine Beauty, Epoch, Greenfrog Botanic, and Neek to name a few.* Of those brands I had only heard of Inlight before, after already using samples of their chocolate and super-food masks which were received in another beauty box (see here and here). The super-food mask is definitely a pricey product but it has such an impressive ingredients list and is packed with natural oils and extracts. I already know it makes my skin feel softer so I'll be using this mask weekly until it runs out.

I swapped out some of my usual skincare items for the Yours Truly Organics products included here which are the Take it Away! Gel Cleanser, Balancing Toner, Fix Me! Repairing Serum and Face Base Face Balm. As you'd expect from the name the products include organic ingredients and have a natural scent. I've only had them a week so I'm only really just getting a feel for how they work for my skin. So far, so good and the gel cleanser leaves my skin so smooth it's my favourite of the bunch.

Dr Paw Paw's balms for dry skin are a firm favourite already. 3 versions of their multi-use balms were included - the Original Balm, Tinted Ultimate Red Balm and Tinted Peach Pink Balm. These are my ideal product for softening chapped, dry lips but you can use them on most areas of dry skin. The balms are made with Papaya (fermented paw paw which is rich in antioxidants) and Aloe Vera. The texture is like a gel but it feels light on the lips. I swapped out my Dr. Lipp balm (see here) for these as they're really similar in terms consistency. The Dr Paw Paw products have much better ingredients however, are over half the price and you get a much bigger tube too. These are definitely something I'd purchase, especially the tinted balms. Confusingly PapayaGold Paw Paw moisturising balm was also included in this box which, from what I can tell, is an entirely different brand but a similar product. It's also made with Papaya but has a thicker consistency and includes manuka honey. 

Dr. PawPaw Original Balm, Tinted Peach Balm, Tinted Ultimate Red Balm (£6.95 each)

Nu Skin is another brand which caught my eye though I haven't had the chance to try all of the products included yet apart from the whitening toothpaste. I was stunned to find out how much some of the products retail for, however the company website suggests the brand leads the way in anti-aging skincare. It will be interesting to see how well these work for me in the months to come. 

I'm still testing out the other products included, so if there's anything specifically you've seen above and would like me to review in the coming months let me know in the comments!

*samples - read my disclaimer here.

Have you tried any of these brands?

Lesley x

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Review | Nudestix Pencils

Until recently beauty brand Nudestix was only available from a few select places in the UK. Now it’s easier than ever to get your hands on their makeup crayons. I already have the Nudestix Sculpting Pencil which I loved the idea of but found the darkest contour colour slightly too light for my tanned skin. I’ve now been able to get my hands on the Concealer Pencil in Light 2, Blur Pencil and Lip + Cheek Pencils in Whisper, Purity and Kiss - which all retail at £24 each - thanks to Lookfantastic*. 

The brand was created by sisters and models Ally and Taylor Frankel with their mother Jenny Frankel. The 3 are pretty knowledgeable in beauty industry and mother Jenny has over 20 years experience working with beauty brands including helping develop products for MAC and Cover FX. Ally and Taylor say they like to keep it simple when it comes to applying makeup in everyday life and prefer a natural, barely-there face. Their brand has grown from strength to strength expanding into a variety of lip products, eye pencils and bronzing crayons to name a few. Their products are designed to be an easy way to enhance features without covering your skin in makeup. They’re made with skin-loving ingredients like Shea Butter and Vitamin E too. 

I love anything that makes applying makeup simple and these crayons are great for on-the-go application. Each crayon comes in a tin with a built-in mirror and a sharpener so it's easy to throw them in your bag for easy touch ups during the day. Ally and Taylor prefer to apply products with their hands and these crayons mean there’s no need for brushes. You literally just dab on and blend with your fingertips. The crayons here (apart from the blur pencil) have a creamy texture and give a good amount of coverage. The concealer is far too light for my skin (I’d probably need one of the medium tones) and it looks a little ashy on me as a highlighter too. It does help with covering dark areas but the colour is so off for me this pencil probably won’t see much use. The blur pencil is supposed to smoothe pores, lines and wrinkles but I didn't see much of a difference on my skin. I love the lip + cheek pencils apply easily and actually last fairly well too. Whisper is probably a tad lighter than what I’d normally go for but all of the shades work perfectly for my skintone and cover my darkly pigmented lips well. Purity and Kiss matte formulas but are still moisturising on the skin. I definitely prefer these products on my lips rather than cheeks, but it's great to have a multifunctional product so it's one less thing to carry around with me.

It is refreshing to see a brand which embraces the natural look and have provided a simplified way of wearing makeup to enhance rather than cover up our features. I utterly love the concept but I get that £24 can seem pretty pricey for a single pencil so if you're buying from directly from the brand's here you can get 10% off orders with the code 'FRESHLENGTHS10'.

*samples - read my disclaimer here.

Have you tried Nudestix before?

Lesley x

Monday, 11 July 2016

Style | Monki Co-Ord

Let's just say I'm having a bit of a love affair with stripes lately. My wardrobe is filled with striped shirts, tees and a couple of dresses so when I saw this striped co-ord I knew I had to have it. The boxy shirt and fitted tube skirt complement each other so well and it's an easy outfit to throw on at the last minute. You know I like to keep styling simple so I only added a minimal choker, lace up heels (my fave), a couple of rings and a watch I always wear. Easy.

I still haven't mastered the art of indoor outfit photos or posing in public but I am hoping to do more style posts. I bought a new camera (the Canon EOS M3) which is way more portable than my chunky DSLR and whilst I'm not totally thrilled with the quality, it does make blogging on-the-go easier. I also recently started working for ASOS (see here) and I've felt this injection of excitement about beauty and style again which I'd kind of lost lately. I don't usually get too personal here but I quit my full-time job which I had for the past 3 years earlier this year to really pursue what I wanted. It was a hard decision to make and a lot of people made me really doubt myself as I took the leap without really having a backup. Now I know it was the best decision for me. I have more time to blog and I'm doing something that satisfies my need to be creative. My blog posts have been a bit sketchy lately in the midst of starting the new job but I'm hoping it'll be business as usual soon!

Co-Ord & Bag - Monki | Shoes, Rings & Choker - ASOS | Watch - Olivia Burton 

What have you been wearing lately? 

Lesley x

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Review | Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque

If you've followed my blog for a while you'll know I'm a hoarder of many products but deep conditioners in particular. I feel uncomfortable having less than 3 on hand at any given time (weird, I know) but there is one I've been reaching for over the others recently - the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque (£12.99).

I bought this beauty back in April along with a couple of other Shea Moisture masques (thank you Boots 3 for 2 offer) but I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I asked a few of you on Instagram and many claimed this was one of their 'holy grail' products whilst others were less impressed, preferring some of the other Shea Moisture conditioners. This masque is formulated with damaged, transitioning hair in mind but don't let that put you off if you have all natural or relaxed hair. Apart from some pesky split ends, my natural hair has been thriving lately but I knew this product would keep the protein and moisture balance in check.

It's a very thick, buttery consistency with what I can only describe as a faint scent of the sea. The strange scent must be due to this being made with sea kelp which admittedly I Googled as I wasn't entirely sure what it was or how it could be beneficial to hair. Sea kelp is a brown algae rich in minerals and said to be good for hair growth, though this doesn't appear to have been proven. It's supposed to give a smoothing effect here. The formula of this masque also includes ingredients such as castor, olive, carrot and argan oil with a hearty dose of shea butter. What I did notice is the formula of the US version of this product is slightly different (see here), with some ingredients in smaller quantity (shown nearer to the bottom of the list) or omitted entirely for the UK product (see here).

Without trying both I'm not sure how much of a difference this actually makes but with one use I noticed good results - soft and moisturised curls - and that has continued with every use since. I had best results when used with my steamer (as with most deep conditioners I have) but if you don't have one covering the hair with a plastic cap will do the trick. I only have a very small amount of this masque left now and I would definitely buy this again.

Have you tried any Shea Moisture products? 

Lesley x

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Look Fantastic Beauty Box | July 2016

I haven't featured a beauty box on my blog since the end of last year and in all honesty it's because I felt like a lot of beauty box brands had lost their sparkle a little. Many included brands or products I had no interest in trying and I ended up with endless samples of products I was unlikely to ever buy. The latest edition from Look Fantastic is the most excited I've been about a beauty box recently. It features beauty tailored towards summer hair and skin. Inside July's edition is (from left to right) Mi Ti Professional Hair Tie 3pk (£4.95), Bellápierre Cosmetics Pink Cheek & Lip Stain (£12.99), Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or (full size £19/50ml), Kebelo Silk Anti-Frizz Cream (full size £16.99/50ml), This Works In Transit Camera Close-up (full size £30/40ml) and Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil in 06 Deep (full size £18.50)*

Given that my hair tangles around itself and pretty much anything it comes into contact with you'd think I'd avoid products like the Mi Ti Professional Hair Ties and initially I did. Anything that says it's for all hair-types usually isn't but these telephone-cord shaped work so well on my hair whether it's curly or straight. These types of ties don't leave pronounced dents in the hair and give a good hold without the tension. I know where to get more now when I need a refill. 

I'm only familiar with Bellápierre Cosmetics thanks to beauty boxes and whilst I love the quality of their products I've not been enticed enough to buy anything from them yet. The Pink Cheek & Lip Stain is far more pigmented than I was expecting and gives a pretty pop of pink on my cheeks but it's no match for my darkly-toned lips. As a result I'm not sure how well this particular shade would work for darker skin.

I've seen the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or pop up on a few of my favourite blogs but I just couldn't find a real reason to buy it. It's a multi-purpose dry oil which you can use on your body, face or hair and it gives a really subtle but beautiful shimmer. It's a great product to have but more of a want than a need.

The Kebelo Silk Anti-Frizz Cream did de-frizz my dry ends well when applied after slightly dampening with water. The full-size product is just too tiny for me as I tend to get through so much product.

The beauty blogging community peaked my interest in This Works In Transit Camera Close-up a couple of years ago but I read a few mixed reviews. It's a 3-in-1 product, combining a mask, moisturiser and primer and it has Victoria Beckham's seal of approval. I haven't tried it yet but I do love the idea of simplified skincare.

I've been using (and loving) a couple of products from the newly launched brow collection from Benefit and the Goof Proof Brow Pencil is something I haven't tried yet. I'm not usually a fan of brow pencils but it's a quick way to fill in any sparse areas so I'm sure this sample-sized version will see a lot of use.

Overall I really liked this box mostly as there were a few products here which I've wanted to try for some time. This box is available for £15 for a monthly subscription which is worth it providing you're interested in the brands/products included. I still think beauty box brands in general need to offer more options for customisation as it is so hard to make a box which will appeal to everyone but I really loved this edition. 

You can get this month's box and the products inside from Look Fantastic here

*sample - read my disclaimer here.

Have you tried a beauty box before?

Lesley x