March Beauty Favourites

Good evening folks! I thought I’d jump on the blogger bandwagon and do a March beauty favourites post. Also, I’m supposed to be writing an essay, and blogging has become my ultimate procrastination tool. Since I’ve gotten my skincare into some form of order, I’ve been taking the time to actually enjoy my new products, and I’m beginning to feel the benefits. So, shall we begin?

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First up is my Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. I know, I keep harping on about this, but having used it weekly since I bought it, I really can’t fault it. The difference in my skin the following morning is tremendous; my skin looks plumped and awake, and my complexion is evened out. This mask thoroughly deserves the accolades it has been given, and I think it’s going to have to be a skincare staple on my dressing table from now on. I never look too awake or fresh these days, but after I use this, I feel like a new woman! Also, bonus points for the included muslin cloth; this stuff does not rinse off too easily without it! Love, love, love.

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I already mentioned this little tube of wonder before, but honestly it deserves a second mention. Collection’s Lasting Perfection Concealer has become a cult favourite for a very good reason. For an excellent price point, it is by far the hardest working concealer I’ve ever used. It’s a sort-of thick formula which doesn’t blend to nothing; rather, it effectively covers all but the reddest spots – and at that, it still tones down the worst of them a lot. Lasting Perfection is also performing minor miracles on my bruise-like undereye circles, without creasing or settling into my ever-present fine lines. The shade Fair is perfect for me, and I honestly couldn’t be without this concealer. Ever.

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Can you guess that I really like Ren products? Every morning, it’s a little easier to drag myself out of bed when I remember that I’ll be using my Ren Clearcalm3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. This is a rich, creamy cleanser and the presence of the clay adds a luxurious feel to it without the formula being thick and heavy, as one might expect. It’s a joy to use every morning and my skin feels really, really soft and soothed afterwards – and definitely not taut. My skin is definitely softening up in general, and I feel that this lovely product has contributed its fair share towards that end. The extra-big bottle will hopefully last me for a long time, but it is terribly tempting to slather on tonnes of this stuff everytime I wash my face!

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I mentioned in my previous post that I’m embarking on a beauty spending ban for the month of April, but, today being the 31st of March, I was totally allowed to sneak in one or two more things, right? NYC Cosmetics are available in my local pharmacy and the make-up is so, so cheap. I especially love their nail polishes, which are only €2 at most. I bought their Expert Last Nail Polish in Oh So Soho, and it’s gorgeous. I had actually intended to buy Essie’s Ballet Slippers (which may still happen), but I spotted this and decided not to take a chance on Essie’s dubious formulas. Although the photograph above doesn’t do it justice, Oh So Soho is a semi-opaque pale, pale pink with white undertones. It takes three coats to achieve opacity, but it’s only lovely on. It’s a touch pinker than Ballet Slippers, but on the nails it’s a delicate shade of blush with a high-shine finish. It’s a grown-up polish that looks ever so sophisticated. I hope that the formula wears well, but for the price, I can’t exactly complain if it doesn’t!
Because I forewent the Essie polish, I finally bought a Revlon Colourburst Matte Balm in Audacious. More on that later!

Lastly, it’s not actually a beauty product, but I am utterly delighted that I cut my hair!
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Since I had a good four inches chopped off my hair, I haven’t regretted it once. I actually feel liberated; my hair isn’t getting in my way all the time, it feels much lighter and softer. It’s swishy again! Another great thing is that, because using my Babyliss Big Hair doesn’t take forever and a day anymore, I’ve used it nearly everytime I’ve washed my hair since it’s been cut, when previously I’d have needed a clear two hours for it to tame the ‘fro. The cut is far more flattering for my face and, dare I say, it frames my features far more than long hair did. My new ‘do has been getting a lot of compliments, which is always a good sign. I don’t think I’ll ever want to grow it out again! 

So those are the bits and bobs which have been making me happy this March. Given my self-imposed exile from anywhere which sells beauty products for the next 30 days, I might not have an April favourites post, unless desperation forces me to dig into old bags of make-up to see what I can find! I do have my eye on a stunning Zara handbag, which will hopefully be purchased with some of the proceeds of my spending ban. Because I have to spend the money on something!
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Swoon.

What have been your March favourites?

Em X

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The Last Hurrah?

I got paid at ten o’clock this morning. By two o’clock this afternoon, most of my wages had been spent. Admittedly a good chunk of my money went on necessities such as travel, a prescription and a present for my mama for Sunday. But I went a little bit crazy on Escentual and my poor, poor debit card is feeling completely worse for wear. As such, I’m embarking on a self-imposed beauty spending ban for the month of April. I know, I’m pretty devastated too. But my spending has gotten to a stage where I do feel a little guilty, and I could do with saving some pennies. Also, I finally feel as though I have everything I need (be it already in my bathroom, or en route from the interwebs), and hopefully my stash should keep me going until May. Actually, if I ran out of anything, I’d be a little disappointed! Well, my mascara is on its last legs, but I might stretch another four weeks out of it! I’ll probably go on a crazy beauty spree on the 1st of May, but at least I might have something saved up so I can do it properly!

But that’s enough talk of austerity and gloom. What did I buy from Escentual?

Having read numerous blog posts excitedly noting the fact that Escentual were having a French Pharmacy sale for the month of March, I decided to swoop in and see what bounty I could uncover. As I mentioned in my Morning Skincare Routine post, the skin on my nose is looking a little parched lately, and I think I need more of a hydration hit than I’m getting from my Ren day cream. Also, Avène is a brand that I’ve been intrigued about recently, so I ordered their Soothing Hydrating Serum which should have been £17 but was reduced to £12.75.
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First of all, this would have cost €25 had I bought it in a bricks-and-mortar store in Ireland, so it made far more sense to purchase it online and take my chances with the Sterling-Euro conversion rate. Avène specialises in skincare which soothes and nourishes sensitive skins; while I’m not overly sensitive, I do feel that my skin is a little in need of some TLC every now and again. It’s oil-free, non-comodogenic, and chock-full of the thermal spring water that Avène is renowned for. A moisture boost without an oil slick? Yes, please.

The next product to land in my basket was a bloggers’ favourite, the Nuxe Reve de Miel Honey Lip Balm. £9.50 would have been too pricey for a lip balm, but I practically stole this for £6.33.
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This is a cult favourite that I more or less bought on impulse; while I’ve read about it, I’ve never researched it with the intent to purchase. I’ve also become interested in the all-natural Nuxe brand recently, having heard that their Prodigeux le Parfum essentially smells like summer in a bottle. However, as I am not one for buying perfumes without having sniffed them profusely first, I plumped for another Nuxe product which has gathered a cult following. This is pretty much a ‘what’s all the fuss about?’ purchase, which I don’t normally do without any research but the lip balm was comparatively cheap so I thought, why not? I’m a ‘tub of Vaseline everywhere I am’ kind of girl but I’d like to move away from using mineral oils full stop, so I can’t wait to see if this meets my high expectations.

Lastly, I debated with myself a little over this, but finally  I decided to buy something I’ve been hankering after since last October, the Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Eau de Toilette Spray, which was £42.50 for 50ml (down from £50).
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Last October I visited Florence on a field trip (do field trips technically include a lot of Chianti?), and while I was lingering around Duty Free in Dublin Airport I spied the L’Eau d’Issey Eau de Parfum and the name rang a bell, so I sprayed a bit on. To say I spent the flight surreptitiously sniffing my wrist is an understatement. I was hooked! I had gathered beforehand that this was one of those scents which either lit up a woman’s world, or left her underwhelmed. For me, the most underwhelming scent ever is definitely Flowerbomb; completely overrated. But I digress. I’m not too familiar with perfume lingo; all I can tell you from memory is that L’Eau d’Issey is floral but fresh; not too sweet yet not throat-catchingly sharp either. It’s a very unique scent that I rarely smell on other women (creep). On the return leg of the journey, I spritzed some into my scarf and anytime I’ve seen it in a shop I’ve been all over it like a rash. The EDP was out of my price range considering my other purchases, so the EDT is the next best way to have a little bit of Issey in my life. And anyway, I’m down to my last four perfumes. It was totally necessary.

Creating an Escentual account may prove to be the ruination of me. In fact, I’ve arranged to have my order delivered to my boyfriend’s house because my mother will probably go crazy if she sees another parcel arriving for me. Since I placed the order, I’ve already compiled an Escentual wishlist, which includes the Avène Cleanance Mask, the Clarins Doux Exfoliant (which I still have yet to buy) and the Nuxe Aroma-Perfection Anti-Imperfection Care (try saying that five times fast). Some Caudalie goodies will probably make their way onto the list as well.

I’ve created a monster! But have any of you tried this monster’s new buys?

Em x

My Nightly Skincare Routine

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As promised, the follow-up to my Morning Skincare Routine Post. And this one is even more jam-packed; here’s hoping that nobody falls asleep reading it! As a side note, it never occurred to me just how many products I use on my face everyday until I photographed everything!

When I get home in the evening, be it from work or from college, the first thing I want to do is take off my make-up and cleanse the day away. As much as I love make-up, I don’t feel relaxed for the night until there isn’t a scrap of it left on my face. The Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water is a champion for getting every last bit of foundation off, and I never skip this step, no matter how tired or tipsy I am. The price point also can’t be beaten. Recently I also bought the Garnier 2-in-1 Make-Up Remover, which combines an oil and a cleansing water to gently clean off make-up. I bought it to tackle heavy, waterproof eye make-up as the micellar water isn’t amazing at shifting it. While it does an okay job, there was only so much I could get for a product that cost €2.50.

The next step is another cleanse, this time with the aforementioned Ren Clearcalm3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. I wouldn’t feel properly clean having only used the micellar water, but the cleanser on its own won’t shift my make-up, so the two steps are pretty essential if I want to keep my skin uncongested. After that, I apply the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Astringent Micro-Exfoliating Lotion, nearly as a third cleansing step as often there is still some make-up visible on the cotton pad afterwards. Using this twice a day is too harsh on my skin, but once a day seems to keep things clean and fresh.

I follow that up after a few minutes with, again, my Effaclar Duo and Ren Clearcalm3 Replenishing Gel Cream. I’m planning to buy the bloggers’ favourite Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Oil-in-Serum for a moisturising radiance boost perhaps twice a week. I’m very conscious of trying not to parch my skin, and I’ve noted a little dryness on the bridge of my nose that I’d like to tackle (even though it’s still oily at the same time?).

As a final step, I dab some LRP Effaclar AI on any emerging active spots, and sometimes a bit of Sudocrem on any particularly stubborn blemishes. I lather my lips in some Aloe Vera Vaseline and off to bed I go.

Also, two evenings a week, I use some kind of mask.
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Tuesday nights are reserved for a date with my Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. I’ve blogged before about this lovely, lovely product and the love affair is continuing. When I wake up on Wednesday mornings, I just know that my complexion will be plumped, brightened and evened out. I’m already dreading the day when it runs out! On Saturday nights, seeing as I’m rarely out on the tiles these days, I like to give my skin a deep cleanse with the Botanics Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask. I can’t say that it’s had any major long-term benefits, but the purifying sensation of a clay mask leaves my skin feeling wonderfully cleared out after a long week. For €9.99 a tube, it’s a lovely but affordable weekend treat. Following either mask, I spritz on my La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water (a complete gimmick but I care not) as it’s wonderfully cooling and I like to think it’s soothing as well. I then rub in plenty of my sample Ren Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream, for the extra hydration hit and its calming properties.

After all of that, it’s no wonder that I’m shattered every night!

Have you tried any of the products I’ve written about?

Em x

My Morning Skincare Routine

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I’m sure I’m not the only blogger who finds daily skin routine posts endlessly interesting. I particularly enjoy these posts when they’re written by bloggers with a similar skin type to me, as I like to see which products they enjoy enough to use on a daily basis, and also how they use them. I won’t pretend to be an expert on skincare, but I thought I’d detail my skincare routine as I do feel as though I’ve hit on a formula that’s beginning to improve the condition of my skin. Anyone who has been reading my blog in the last couple of months will remember that I’m on a perilous quest to find a routine that will mattify, purify and de-scarify my skin (that’s totally a thing). Slowly but surely, I’m seeing results at last!

After I stumble from my bed, throw my hair back and hobble into the bathroom, I splash my face with water and massage in my beloved Ren Clearcalm3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. It’s a soothing, rich cleanser that doesn’t dry my skin out. It’s also great in the shower as a mini-mask while I’m shaving my legs or something. Switching from the sinful Clean & Clear cleansers to this has done wonders for the general texture of my skin; baby-soft skin shall soon be mine!

My next step is a serum, my blemish-busting La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (soon to be Duo+). This is essential as part of my skincare routine because if I don’t use it, within days my skin breaks out terribly. It’s fantastic at working beneath the surface of the skin to eradicate any potential eruptions before they can make their presence known. Also, the gel-like consistency means that it melts into the skin. Once I use up my tube of Duo I’ll crack into the Duo+ and hopefully my acne scarring will clear even faster.

Next up is moisturiser, and I’m back to Ren, with their Clearcalm3 Replenishing Gel Cream Before this, I was using a Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion and my skin started to dry out a lot. However, the Ren moisturiser is a creamier, richer formula which feels nourishing and calming without sitting heavily on the skin. It absorbs slowly but thoroughly. I don’t mind too much as I like to let everything sink in for a few minutes while I eat breakfast, before I apply my make-up. However, I’ve got my beady eye on Avène Soothing Hydrating Serum for a lightweight but quenching option for the summertime.

Finally I apply a liberal amount of my Soap & Glory Puffy Eye Attack to my puffy, tired eyes. In the last year or so I’ve started to get terrible bags and shadows under my eyes (brought on by commuting, I tells ya!). I wouldn’t call this a miracle product but it cools my exhausted eye area and brings down the puffiness at least enough that eye make-up application isn’t too impeded. Anything that makes me look a little less haggard in the mornings is a must!

And that’s it for my morning skincare. For a time I was a little spot-treatment crazy, applying my La Roche-Posay Effaclar AI onto every breakout I had, as well as everything else. But then it dawned on me that I was actually slowing down the healing time of any spots I had which had passed their peak but were still visible. I was getting so frustrated at the fact that they were still there, so I lashed on the AI like there was no tomorrow. Then I realised that applying a drying spot treatment to a healing spot was completely counter-productive. Now I only apply it to spots that are still in the swollen, red phase and leave the others alone. The results have been pretty quick to materialise. Not only am I getting fewer spots, the ones I did have are now vanishing far, far faster.

My morning routine isn’t too complicated really, and most importantly it seems to be playing a part in clearing my skin of blemishes. Perhaps it’s a bit strange, but I enjoy this regimen as I honestly feel like it’s doing my skin good. The products I use are so lovely that it all helps to coax me out of bed in the morning. No mean feat!

Stay tuned for my night-time skincare routine 🙂

Em x

The Hallowed Halls of Boots

Yep, I’ve been at it again. Does anyone else feel as though they’re being magnetically drawn to Boots? Just me? Okay then.

This week’s splurge was more of a basics haul rather than little bits and pieces. My beloved Smashbox Photo Finish Primer is on its last legs and the time had come to find a replacement before I found myself primer-less one morning. I’m being deadly serious when I say that this would be a disaster. However, the €35+ price tag for the Photo Finish is a little heftier than I’m able to spare right now, so I was on a hunt for something more affordable that delivered similar results.

Enter Rimmel Stay Matte Primer, €7.95 in Boots.
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When I first saw this being advertised I didn’t pay too much heed to it. ‘It can’t be any good’, I thought to myself. Everyone knows that the best primers are the pricier of the bunch. Any foray I’ve taken into budget primers have left me underwhelmed; Catrice Prime and Fine and GOSH, I’m looking at you. But then I read a brilliant review of Stay Matte from Viva Adonis, and I take these ladies’ word as gospel. So I popped it onto my shopping list and bought it.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong about a budget primer. This stuff is brilliant. Unlike the silicone-heavy formulas of heavyweights like Benefit’s The Porefessional, this white primer applies like a thick face cream. Rather than feeling heavy on my skin, I didn’t miss the slippy, slidey feel of my Smashbox primer at all. It definitely lives up to its claim to blur pores and I’m left with a radiant, almost adhesive, base for my foundation. And the best part is that, true to its name, this mattifies my skin better than anything else I’ve tried. Yesterday I was wearing make-up for fourteen hours and, with only two powder touch-ups, everything was still flawlessly in place by the time I (finally) got to cleanse before bed. I urge any oily-skinned readers to try this beauty before you splash out on something five times as expensive. 10/10 from me.

Another beauty essential I’d been hankering after was a new concealer. For ages I had been lusting after NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, which one day I still hope to buy. But for now, my under-eye circles have been a challenge too tough for my Sleek Correct and Conceal Palette and the balmy formula just isn’t thick enough for my darker spot scars. So, having read Buy Now, Blog Later‘s recommendations of Collection’s Lasting Perfection Concealer, I picked it up for the princely sum of €5.99.
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First of all, I don’t know what my brain was up to, but I bought Shade 3, Warm Medium. On closer inspection in good light the next day, I could see it was far too dark and merely drew attention to my blemishes. Kind of counter-productive, I think! I stashed it away for summertime and marched back to Boots and bought it in Fair, the lightest shade, and hoped to the heavens that it wouldn’t be too pink-toned.
Luckily, Fair is perfect shade-wise. I was a little dubious as to whether it would do anything to conceal my bruise-like circles but it’s working a treat. Being quite a thick formula, it covers efficiently but can be built up without looking caked. It conceals those nasty healing spots a treat as well. And it definitely is long-lasting, although I hope I never have to test its 16-hour concealing abilities! I really couldn’t be without this, and I’ve only had it a few days. Better pick up another for my handbag, just in case…

My third purchase was a bit of an accident. I had hoped to pick up two or three of Revlon’s Colourburst Matte Balms (having come to terms with the fact that I can’t really afford NARS’ €25-a-pop Velvet Matte lip pencils). However, in both branches of Boots I visited, all of the Matte Balms had been tampered with, as they aren’t sealed very securely at all. I was so disappointed. I think I’ll order them from Boots online as it’s the only way to ensure somebody won’t have had their grubby hands on them. So instead, I spied another much-loved product, the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, €11.99 (I think!)
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I usually apply foundation with my fingers, mostly due to the fact that I’ve never had a decent brush to apply it with. The Expert Face Brush is often raved about by beauty bloggers so I decided to see if it lived up to the hype. And my verdict is that I like it. I don’t adore it, but it’s nice. I work my foundation into my skin with circular buffing motions and it creates a smoother, more flawless effect than I can achieve with my fingers alone. It works particularly well with my Estée Lauder Double Wear, although I used it with my NARS Sheer Matte foundation today and found that the foundation was settling into my pores around my nose. It wasn’t too noticeable, but enough that could see it. The wear time of both foundations seems to be unaffected and the overall effect is nice, notwithstanding the pores issue. The brush is densely packed with soft bristles that still work well in awkward spots. I’ll keep using the brush, but I can’t say that it’s blown me away either. I got a bit of an informal discount on the brush, thanks to a kindly cashier. For something I ended paying only €8 for, I’m happy to keep it in my make-up bag.

Has anyone else tried the products I’ve bought? Any tips to get the best out of my Expert Face Brush?

P.S. I realise that my photography isn’t the best, unfortunately I only have a phone camera to work with. I’ll be saving up for a proper camera soon!

Em x