Sunday 29 December 2013

Speed Review: Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Conditioner

Following on from yesterday's review of Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Shampoo, today's review is of the accompanying conditioner. I'd never previously tried a conditioner from Lee Stafford but my fine hair has been looking limp and lacklustre recently so I pulled this out of my "to try" box in the hope that it would live up to the "Big Fat Hair" promises, with claims along the lines of "pump up the volume, keep hair looking thicker, fuller, etc...".

The Lee Stafford signature pink packaging is instantly recognisable and unashamedly girlie. I liked the functionality of the tube. The conditioner has a lightweight texture, akin to a creamy lotion and presumably designed as such so as not to weigh down fine hair. I was impressed at how quickly and easily I was able to rinse out the conditioner.

During use I noticed the same slightly sweet fragrance with a chemical undertone as that of the shampoo. Personally, I didn't like it but thankfully, the scent didn't linger and after I'd dried and styled my hair, I only noticed a "clean hair" scent, which wasn't unpleasant.

Although my hair is fine, it's in normal condition. It's not particularly on the dry side, nor is it oily but it tends to be frizz prone & lack volume. The only heat styling that I use on a regular basis is my hairdryer- tools such as curling wands and straightening irons tend to be reserved for special occasions & my hair isn't colour treated. With this in mind, I was disappointed at the conditioning effects of Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Conditioner. It didn't add any noticeable softness to my hair and my usually frizz prone mane was left looking even frizzier than usual- I resembled a cartoon character that had just been electrocuted!
Having said this, my hair was left volumised and with the sort of swishy hair movement which is normally reserved for adverts and is so rarely achieved in my hair.

Given the somewhat limited conditioning benefits, I'd say this is best suited to someone with oily hair as opposed to those with dry hair. I don't feel that it delivers on the Healthy Hair name but it does live up to the "My Big Fat Hair" moniker and volumising claims. For that reason, I'd recommend this but will qualify by highlighting that the time saved on trying to achieve volume may instead need to be invested into smoothing your hair. If you only buy one product from the duo, I'd veer towards the shampoo and opt for a richer conditioner.

Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Conditioner costs £5.99 for 250ml.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Speed Review: Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Shampoo

The unending quest for voluminous hair can be all the more frustrating during party season and whilst I'm not easily parted from my beloved La Biosthetique shampoo, I was tempted to try Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Shampoo to see if it would give a boost to my fine hair. I've also been trying the accompanying conditioner so be sure to check in tomorrow for my review.

Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Shampoo is a lightweight clear gel. It has quite a runny consistency and I found that I needed to be careful when dispensing to avoid wastage. Whilst I liked the fun, bright pink packaging which reflects the quirky name and appreciated the functionality of the tube dispenser, I think a bottle with a pump would be even better suited to the formula. A little goes a long way to create a generous lather and I was impressed at how easily it rinsed out.
The scent of the shampoo wasn't to my personal taste- a blend of synthetic, sweet chocolate combined with fresh elements which reminded me of cleaning products (I suspect they were aiming for citrus). Thankfully, it didn't linger in my hair once rinsed out.

After blow drying my hair, I definitely noticed that my tresses had more volume and movement than usual, particularly with added lift at the roots. Whilst I was impressed that my fine hair wasn't weighed down, the downside was that I had more flyaways and found my hair to be less manageable than usual. I washed my hair in the morning & by the time afternoon arrived (together with a little helping hand from one or two smoothing products), the flyaways had settled down whilst the volume & movement remained, which I was impressed with. I was also pleased (& surprised) to note that this didn't irritate my sensitive scalp at first, although I don't think I'd be able to use it on a sustained basis.

Lee Stafford My Big Fat Healthy Hair Shampoo costs £5.99 for 250ml and thanks to the affordable price tag, I'd recommend it- just be sure to put some pennies aside to pick up some smoothing products too.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's review of the accompanying conditioner.

Friday 27 December 2013

Speed Review: This Works Clean Skin 5-in-1 Water

Regular readers will know of my dislike for cleansing wipes yet there are bound to be times, particularly at this time of year, when you're too tired or worse for wear to bother with a full cleanse, no matter how many times the beauty mantra, "always remove makeup before bed" is repeated.

On the majority of occasions I follow this rule and proceed with my usual night-time routine featuring a cleansing balm. On the rare instances that I don't, I reach for a cleansing water. Quick, convenient and effortless to use, cleansing waters make for a good compromise and whilst they may not offer as thorough a cleanse as an oil or balm, they're a better alternative to wipes. It's a tip that I've shared amongst my friends and even those who are the laziest in their approach to skincare have ditched the cleansing wipes in favour of waters. I've tried a number of versions, specifically from French skincare brands (French women have sworn by cleansing waters for years) such as Lierac, Avene, Caudalie and the cult Bioderma (click on the names for reviews) but today's review is of one of my favourites, This Works Clean Skin 5-in-1 Water.

Although the packaging looks sleek, I found it to be unnecessarily bulky- certainly not suitable for travel- and whilst I normally appreciate the functionality of a pump dispenser, this squirts out in an unexpected way meaning that I kept wasting product. What's more, although the white packaging adds to the clean & pure message, it's annoying that it's not transparent so I wasn't able to tell when I was running low. However, it's what's on the inside that counts and the cleansing water itself is fantastic.

As tends to be the case with cleansing waters, This Works Clean Skin 5-in-1 Water feels fresh on the skin. It has a rosewater base which provides a pleasant, delicate scent that's not overwhelming. What's more, rose is known for being soothing, making it the ideal ingredient to look out for if you suffer from sensitivity or rosacea. Rose also helps skin to retain moisture and has a rejuvenating effect so it's beneficial to those with mature skin too.

According to the This Works website, along with rosewater, Clean Skin 5-in-1 Water contains fruit-packed botanical waters to help shed skin cells and boost elasticity. It has a pH balancing formula with olive and almond oils to cleanse and wild water mint to cool & tone.

I was impressed at how effectively it worked to remove makeup and although I needed to use a couple of saturated cotton pads to remove a full face of makeup, it seemed easier than I recall with others. In particular, I was impressed at how effortlessly it worked to remove eye makeup, including a heavy smokey eye (although I haven't tried it on waterproof formulas). When trying cleansing waters, I'm often disappointed to find that I still need to reach for a separate eye makeup remover so it really was a pleasant surprise when this wasn't the case for This Works Clean Skin 5-in-1 Water.
My favourite aspect of This Works Clean Skin 5-in-1 Water was that my skin was never left feeling tight, irritated or dry. I felt as though the product had added beneficial skincare ingredients to my skin and that it looked glowing and felt hydrated.
At £21 for 200ml, This Works Clean Skin 5-in-1 Water is at the pricier end of the scale but nonetheless, I feel that it is worth the money thanks to its effectiveness at removing makeup and the hydrating benefits. Highly recommended.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Speed Review: Imperial Leather Foamburst Luxurious Body Wash

I'd never previously tried a body wash from Imperial Leather but when I heard about the new Foamburst Body Washes, I was intrigued and I thought that for today's review, I'd share my thoughts on the Foamburst Luxurious Body Wash in the Rebalancing Green Tea & Jasmine scent which I've recently been trying.

Imperial Leather Foamburst Luxurious Body Wash is presented in functional packaging akin to that of a can of shaving foam. It has a pump dispenser which makes it easy to control how much product is released and I found the packaging to be well suited to the formula. My only complaint would be that it's difficult to tell how much product is remaining.

The packaging claims that there is sufficient product for 40 showers per can and whilst I haven't counted, I was impressed to note that a little goes a long way. The Foamburst Luxurious Body Wash has a gel texture which quickly turns to a rich, foam-like lather that's very similar to shaving foam. It feels soft on the skin although it I noted that it contains SLS which I can find drying. Unsurprisingly, the foam texture means that the product is perfect to use when shaving legs.

There are seven scents available in the Foamburst Luxurious Body Wash line: Bracing Bergamot & Sea Minerals, Rebalancing Green Tea & Jasmine, Moisturising Honey & Almond Milk, Bewitching Blackberry & Wild Fig, Spicy Ginger & Orange, Uplifting Lime & Grapefruit and Sweet Vanilla & Cherry Blossom.
As aforementioned, I've been trying out Rebalancing Green Tea & Jasmine which I've found to have a pleasant fresh scent. Personally, I haven't noticed any floral notes and I didn't notice the scent lingering on my skin after use.

Imperial Leather Foamburst Luxurious Body Wash costs £2.99 for 200ml which I feel represents good value. I'd be tempted to try some of the other scents and would be inclined to repurchase the body wash and use it in place of (more expensive) shaving gels.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I always feel that this time of year provides the perfect opportunity to thank you all for your support over the year. Help yourself to a virtual mulled wine & here's to a relaxing festive season...enjoy!


Sunday 22 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Mavala A Cracking Duo

Today's Christmas Countdown focuses on Mavala A Cracking Duo. At just £8.95 this would make an affordable yet adorable token gift or stocking filler.
Presented in a cracker inspired box, Mavala A Cracking Duo is available in six colourways. Choose from: Elle & London (a cool slate grey and classic pillar box red), Vegas Pink & Vertigo Red (a bright pink and metallic maroon), Miami & Mexico (bubblegum pink and deep purple), Ruby & Marron Glace (pictured above & the duo which I was sent- details below), Satin & Purple Sensation (regal red & bejewelled purple with a chrome finish) and Rose Dust & Sweet (a rose tinged nude and a pale pink).

As aforementioned, I was sent the duo in Ruby & Marron Glace. I was highly impressed with the formula which is thin yet pigmented. The fantastic formula was easy to work with and provided full opacity in just two coats. What's more, it's free from Formaldehyde, Toluene & Parabens.

Ruby is a rich raspberry with cream finish. I've swatched below Marron Glace, which is an elegant taupe brown with subtle micro shimmer.


Monday 16 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Benefit Groovy Kind-a Love

I'm always envious of the fantastic value sets which are available in the USA, particularly around this time of year & specifically, from makeup brands. I feel that of all of the brands available here in the UK, Benefit is the one which puts out the same level of good value gift sets which are most often reserved for USA customers. This year is no different and Benefit have once again pulled out all the stops with their gift offering, which for 2013 is presented in reusable tins featuring pop art inspired designs. In particular, I recommend the Groovy Kind-a Love Gift Set which would be the perfect gift for teens upwards.

The tin is presented with an outer cardboard sleeve and on the back, there are pictures showing the contents.

Inside, there's an instruction booklet which beginners may find useful. There's a double ended sponge applicator and mini brush which I'd personally be inclined to discard but in a pinch, they'd come in handy.

The set contains miniature versions of some of Benefit's bestselling products, notably the UK's Number 1 Primer, The Porefessional (7.5ml) which I personally haven't gotten on so well with but know that it's hugely popular and counts the likes of Rihanna amongst its many fans. Additionally, there's a miniature They're Real Mascara (4g), which is again a UK Number 1 bestseller in its category and a product which I feel lives up to the false lash effect claims. Alongside these is a miniature Benetint (4ml), the cult rose-tinted liquid lip & cheek stain.
There's also a blush duo featuring Dandelion, described as a brightening face powder, and Gimme Fever. The sections are rather small so it would be awkward to dip a brush in & use the shades individually and as such, they'd be best applied swirled together and perhaps applied as a highlighter. Individually, Dandelion is a very subtle peach that is best suited to pale girls as a blush, otherwise it works well applied all over the face to lift the complexion. Gimme Fever has a lot of glitter and I'd personally find this difficult to wear on my face.
Although miniature, the products are sufficiently sized to be able to gain a feel for them and determine whether they're hits or misses.
The set also features four generously sized powder eyeshadows. For me, these are the highlight of the tin because the four shades are all wearable neutrals. They're good quality, pigmented shades which blend well and are easy to work with.
The swatches above are shown in the order of the pans in the tin. First up is Tickle My Ivory, a matte white which would be a useful addition to any makeup collection. It's not too stark a white so it would work well as a base or to highlight the brow bone to create definition.
Gilt-y Pleasure is a true, metallic gold and forms part of the permanent eyeshadow offering from Benefit. Shimmer Down is a gorgeous metallic taupe. Kiss Me, I'm Tipsy is a deep bronzed brown which is another shade from the permanent eyeshadow collection and would work well applied to the outer "V".
Overall, I'd highly recommend Benefit Groovy Kind-a Love. At £29.50 it offers good value and an opportunity to try out a variety of makeup items.


Sunday 15 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Elemis Frangipani Secrets

For today's Christmas Countdown I'm unashamedly bringing you yet another bath & body pampering gift idea but I couldn't resist as this gift set features two of my favourite products to indulge with, both of which are Skin Deep Beauty Award winners. The Elemis Frangipani Secrets gift set comprises full sizes of the Frangipani Monoi Shower Cream and Frangipani Monoi Body Oil.

Unlike many shower creams whose nourishing claims leave me disappointed, Elemis Frangipani Shower Cream truly does help to hydrate and within a couple of days' use, the overall condition of skin is improved. Presented in functional tube packaging, the luxurious shower wash adds a sense of indulgence to an everyday routine. What's more, it boasts the signature exotic floral fragrance of the Elemis Frangipani line and this incredible scent lingers on the skin after use. I've gone through a few tubes of Elemis Frangipani Shower Cream in the past and it's a product that I'll continue to repurchase.

I've lost count of the number of bottles of Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil that I've gone through since discovering it approximately six years ago. It's one of my all-time favourite beauty products and has earned a place in the Skin Deep Hall of Fame, having been recognised in the annual Skin Deep Beauty Awards every year. I adore the ritualistic aspect of having to melt the oil, which is solid at room temperature, and it feels incredibly indulgent to apply the warm oil. It has the same, distinctive exotic floral scent of the Frangipani line.  Despite the name, Elemis Frangipani Monoi Body Oil can also be used on hair or applied to cuticles.

Elemis Frangipani Secrets costs £37.50, which offers good value for money. To buy the two products individually, it would cost approximately £50 so you're getting a saving of more than £10.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Korres Japanese Rose & Jasmine Shower Gel Duo Gift Set

So- here's a festive dilemma.. you have one of those innately cool girls to buy for, the sort that oozes effortless chic every time you see her, and have absolutely no idea where to start when it comes to buying a gift. Today's Christmas Countdown gift idea may just provide the solution: Korres Japanese Rose & Jasmine Shower Gel Duo Gift Set.

As the name suggests, the set contains two full-sized 250ml shower gels in Japanese Rose and Jasmine fragrances. The presentation is chic and understated- a brown card box. Each of the shower gels has an illustration to reflect the scent and I particularly liked the intricate floral design of the Jasmine shower gel bottle. I'd be more than happy to have this on display in my bathroom. What's more, the shower gel bottles are functional with a flip top dispenser.

Despite a long list of "formula facts" on the label, stating which ingredients and "nasties" the products are free from- the shower gels do contain SLS which I was disappointed to note. I find SLS drying on my skin, although it does mean that a creamy lather is easy to produce when using the shower gels.
The shower gels live up to their floral names. The Jasmine shower gel has the distinctively sweet, floral fragrance of jasmine and is very pleasant. I found Japanese Rose to be interesting as it has more depth to it than most single note rose fragrances. It's hard to pin-point but along with the floral element, I noticed a fresh scent which reminded me of lemon.

Korres shower gels normally retail for approximately £8 each so I feel that the set offers good value for money. Along with the Japanese Rose & Jasmine option which I tried, there's also Basil Lemon & Citrus or Guava & Citrus Shower Duos available.

Korres Japanese Rose & Jasmine Shower Gel Duo Gift Set is exclusively available at Waitrose priced £15.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: The Sanctuary Sumptuous Duo Christmas Gift Set

For today's Christmas Countdown, I wanted to feature an "emergency" gift idea- one of those fail-safe, suit everyone gifts that's useful to have on hand at this time of year in case you get caught out and need to gift someone quickly. I feel that The Sanctuary Sumptuous Duo Christmas Gift Set fits the bill perfectly.

Presented in a plastic carrying box that's already complete with bow ribbon, in a pinch you could get away without wrapping this. The duo comprises 270g version of the popular Salt Scrub, which I've previously raved about here accompanied by the 200ml Body Butter. I'd never previously tried the Body Butter but I was impressed by the lightweight texture which was easily absorbed, leaving absolutely no residue. My skin was left feeling silky soft and scented with an exotic floral fragrance.

The Sanctuary Sumptuous Duo retails for £12 but I've noticed that Debenhams currently have the sets on offer at a 10% discount.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Soap & Glory Once Upon A Lime

If you've got someone tricky to buy for and are unsure where to start, the perennially popular Soap & Glory is a safe bet. Soap & Glory is one of the UK's most popular ranges and I'm yet to find someone who doesn't love their affordable range of bath & body products.

Whilst best known for their distinctive Original Pink fragrance, the Sugar Crush range is also worth a look. As the name hints, it has a sweeter and fruitier fragrance than the floral of the original. Personally, I think it's reminiscent of a summer mojito- and who wouldn't want to bath in that?!
With that in mind, I give you today's Christmas Countdown gift idea: Soap & Glory Once Upon A Lime.
Presented in a large, metallic & candy cane striped box, Once Upon A Lime contains 250ml Body Wash, 300ml Body Buttercream and 50ml miniature Body Scrub, all in the tempting Sugar Crush scent. I've previously raved about the Sugar Crush Body Scrub here.
Plus, there's a bath lily and I have to say that the generously sized Soap & Glory bath lilies are by far the best compared with the other bath lilies I've tried, which tend to be mediocre, cheap afterthoughts put out by brands.
I'd highly recommend Soap & Glory as a gift option. The Once Upon A Lime gift set retails for £18 and is currently on 3 for 2 offer in Boots.



Monday 9 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Pur Minerals Show Off Collection

You may know that I like to feature makeup on Mondays here on Skin Deep so it's perhaps unsurprising that today's Christmas Countdown gift idea is a makeup gift set.

I've never featured the brand Pur Minerals before but the Show Off Collection, comprising three lip crayons and three eyeshadow crayons really appealed to me and I couldn't resist sharing it. My mum & I both ooh-ed and ah-ed over this when the parcel arrived, cementing its status as a gift suitable for all ages thanks to the selection of wearable shades presented in the popular crayon format.

The lip crayons are smooth and creamy, gliding effortlessly onto skin and imparting a sheer, glossy colour that can be built up to create more impact.
Pucker is a soft peachy-pink, Fling is a neutral pink with brown undertones for which the description "my lips but better" is fitting, whilst Taunt is a rich berry that's perfect for this time of year.

Swatches are shown in natural daylight (L) and with flash (R) and the shades described above are shown in order from the bottom up.

I was also impressed with the creamy formula of the three eyeshadow crayons, which I was able to apply to the lids without tugging at the delicate skin. The eyeshadows are pigmented and easy to blend.

First up is Exposed, a flesh toned semi-matte beige which works well as a base to even out the colour of eyelids. I thought that this would also work well applied to the waterline for instant eye brightening effects and whilst it looked good at first, the effects didn't last as the formulation wore off quickly (note that that there are no long wearing or waterproof claims).
Next, is Unveiled which is a gorgeous metallic bronze that will be equally good for party season and creating bronzed eyes in summer alike. Last but not least is Staged, a rich chocolate brown with a hint of plum that adds a flattering warmth.

Again, swatches are shown in natural daylight (L) and with flash (R) and the shades described above are shown in order from the bottom up.

All of the eyeshadow crayons have an automatic, twist-up functionality so there's no need to sharpen.

Overall, I've been impressed with Pur Minerals Show Off Collection and think that it offers good value for money. If you've got quite a few people to buy for this Christmas and are worried about the cost, the Show Off Collection could be split and repackaged into two or even three gifts to help your pennies go that little bit further.

I noticed that this is currently reduced from £22.50 to £18 on the Marks & Spencer website.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Caudalie Divine Indulgence Gift Set

Today's Christmas Countdown gift idea is from beauty blogger favourite, Caudalie.
The Caudalie Divine Indulgence Set appealed to me to include because the French brand first captured my attention through its bodycare range, not the skincare range which seems to be the most hyped these days.

I was interested to revisit the bodycare range via this gift set which contains a full sized bottle of the popular Divine Oil, along with deluxe samples of Divine Scrub and Divine Legs, and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Caudalie Divine Oil
Caudalie Divine Oil is the "hero" product in the collection and the one which is featured in a full sized 100ml glass bottle. It's a luxurious oil containing grape, hibiscus, sesame and argan oils. To buy this individually, it costs £27- the same price as the gift set- so you're essentially receiving the other two products for free.
Oils are my go-to formula for quick and easy hydration in a hurry. They feature heavily in my personal routine and I often recommend them to other busy ladies, such as new mums. Caudalie's Divine Oil goes one step further in the efficiency stakes by being a clever multi-tasker (complete with functional spray dispenser) that can be used on face, body or hair. I've only tried it on my body so far but can report back that it was easily absorbed, leaving no greasy residue just a healthy sheen and a wonderful, exotic floral fragrance which lingered on my skin throughout the day. The scent is extremely similar to that of the cult Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse.

Caudalie Divine Scrub
I have to admit that this was the product within the set which I was most disappointed with. I used to be a huge fan of Caudalie's body scrubs (read my review of Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub here) which is why I had such high hopes for this.
Divine Scrub has a thick balm-like texture which emulsifies to a cream when applied to damp skin. It has an incredible, almost perfume-like fragrance and I found that this lingered delicately on the skin after use. The major downside for me was that because it has a sugar base, this lacked the satisfyingly abrasive quality that I crave in a scrub (& which is most often received via salt granules). It's such a shame because if the granules were that little bit more effective, the creamy texture & fantastic scent of this could have made it a winning combination. It features the same four key oils as Divine Oil- namely grape, hibiscus, sesame and argan oil to leave skin conditioned but without leaving a residue.
I recognise that not everyone likes such a strong scrub as I do and this 50g tub should give sufficient product to decide if you like Divine Scrub.

Caudalie Divine Legs
Finally, we have a 25ml tube of Divine Legs, which is a tinted lotion. Whilst the other products within the set are reminiscent of summer thanks to the exotic floral fragrance, Divine Legs is perfectly suited to party season (although it would be a welcomed addition to any beauty kit year round). As my somewhat awkward photo shows, Divine Legs looks alarming dark when first squeezed out of the tube and I was initially wary of the micro glitter particles suspended within it too. However, I needn't have been concerned. A little goes a long way and Divine Legs blends easily into skin to give an instant, yet subtle hint of golden colour. It's not going to give the appearance of two weeks in Mustique but it does add a "helping hand" to pasty winter limbs (forget reserving this solely for legs, I've been slathering it on all over) and is a good option for those who are afraid of fake tanning disasters. What's more, it dries quickly and leaves skin scented with the line's signature exotic floral fragrance, and can be washed off easily afterwards.


Saturday 7 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Lanolips Christmas Essentials

Today's Christmas Countdown gift idea is an affordable option under £15: Lanolips Christmas Essentials.

Presented in a baby pink, patent pouch, Lanolips Christmas Essentials contains full sizes of Rose Hand Balm Intense (50ml) and the cult 101 Ointment (15g). Both products are essentials that work particularly effectively at tackling dry winter skin and will be reached for long after December 25th has passed.

I thought it would be helpful to provide mini reviews of the two products, as follows:

Lanolips Rose Hand Balm Intense
Rose Hand Balm Intense contains shea butter, cocoa butter, soyabean oil, wheat germ oil, grape seed oil and jojoba seed oil along with the hero ingredients of rose oil and Ultra Pure Grade Lanolin. Despite the name, the product has a cream texture which is easily absorbed. Upon initial application, Rose Hand Balm Intense leaves a balm-like protective layer on the skin, which isn't greasy but you can definitely feel it. After a short time, this penetrates into the skin and hands are left looking and feeling moisturised. Rose Hand Balm Intense has a soft, baby powder scent which lingers on the skin and which I personally found very comforting.

Lanolips 101 Ointment
The cult 101 Ointment is a must-have for any handbag. Containing 100% Ultra-refined Medical Grade Lanolin, 101 Ointment is a thick, colourless and unscented balm which, as the name suggests, has a multitude of uses. Lanolin is 100% natural, irritant free and is a major ingredient used in wound healing and in hospitals. It can hold up to 200% its own weight in water so it's perhaps unsurprising that it's soothing on chapped skin. One of my favourite ways to use 101 Ointment is as an effective lip balm and I like that it leaves a natural gloss when applied to lips. Having said this, it's worth noting that the tube has an open hole opening not a slant applicator, which may be a downside for some. A little goes a long way. In fact, it's so rich that sometimes it's a little difficult to squeeze out of the tube and in those instances, it's best to warm the tube slightly between hands.

I'd recommend both of these products even if they weren't in the Christmas Essentials gift set but I wanted to highlight the set as it offers fantastic value for money and would be a good opportunity to try the products if you, or your gift recipient isn't yet familiar with the brand. Purchased individually, Lanolips Rose Balm Intense and 101 Ointment would cost approximately £20. Lanolips Christmas Essentials is exclusively available at Waitrose and costs £13.99 so why not throw it into your shopping trolley as you load up on sprouts and minced pies this Christmas?


Friday 6 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: Jurlique Hydra Control Body Essentials Gift Set

Today's Christmas Countdown features a gift idea that's ideal for any green goddesses on your festive shopping list... the Jurlique Hydra Control Body Essentials Gift Set.
Jurlique Hydra Control Body Essentials Gift Set is presented in a large box with festive red sleeve that reads "The Magic of Natural Beauty" and which slides off to reveal an eco themed (yet far from worthy) gold and cardboard brown box with a pretty winter wreath design.
The Gift Set contains a trio of full-sized indulgent body care products from the brand new Hydra Control body care range: Moisture Revive Shower Gel, Perfect Polish Body Scrub and Ultra Rich Body Lotion.
I often find it to be the case with Christmas gift sets that there tends to be one "filler" product which realistically won't be used but each of the products inside the Hydra Control Body Essentials Gift Set lives up to the "essentials" name and is sure to be a welcomed addition to any bathroom.

As soon as I opened the box, I was hit with the incredible botanical fragrance which instantly gave an impression of luxury and high quality ingredients. Each of the products was wrapped in red tissue paper.
I've been testing out the three products and thought it would be useful to share my thoughts in a mini review, as follows:
Jurlique Hydra Control Moisture Revive Shower Gel
The packaging of this really appealed to me thanks to the squared-off edges on the bottle which add an instantly chic appearance. I liked the functionality of the pump dispenser, the fact that I could tell how much product was remaining through the bottle and I found the matte plastic bottle to be both tactile to hold and bathroom friendly (no smashed bottles on my tiles!).
The shower gel has a jelly-like texture and despite being free from SLS (a major plus point because I find SLS drying on my skin), I was able to work Jurlique Hydra Control Moisture Revive Shower Gel into a generous lather. It sounds strange but this was the softest shower gel I've ever used and I loved how gentle it felt. I was interested to note that the second ingredient is Glycerin- a wonder worker on dehydrated skin as it helps to retain moisture. It also contains pure flower extracts with the ingredients list reading like the components of a pretty wild flower spring posy- daisy, rose, honeysuckle and violet, yet it has the same botanical scent as the other products in the trio. I wouldn't say that it was particularly floral nor did I notice the citrus element that tends to be including in "reviving" products.
Hydra Control Moisture Revive Shower Gel is available to buy individually and at £14 for 250ml, I would consider re-purchasing.
Jurlique Hydra Control Perfect Polish Body Scrub
The packaging of the Body Scrub may not be the most lust-worthy but I liked the matte rubberised feel of it and appreciated the functionality of the tube format.
The scrub itself has a gel texture with small, sand-like exfoliating particles made up of pumice, apricot seed powder, olive seed powder and passion flower seed powder (in quantity order per the ingredients list). The scent was pleasant, with botanical notes and I was able to work the scrub into a light lather during use.
Personally, I found that the scrub lacked the satisfyingly abrasive quality that I favour, particularly during winter and I wondered if the reason for including such a gentle scrub in the gift set might be down to the fact that Jurlique is an Australian brand and Christmas falls in the Southern Hemisphere's Summer. It's the type of scrub that I'd veer towards for a couple of weeks in the summer when I want something gentle enough to keep my tan looking fresh without being so effective that I lose the bronzed glow. It reminded me slightly of Hei-Poa's Black Sand Body Scrub thanks to the combination of a gel texture with pumice particles. Having said this, I found that it worked well used as a hand scrub because it was gentle without being drying.
Unlike scrubs which use sugar or salt as the exfoliant, the granules in Jurlique Hydra Control Perfect Polish Body Scrub didn't dissolve and I was left with a messy residue in the shower. However, it didn't leave an oily residue on my skin and thanks to the natural ingredients, my skin wasn't left feeling uncomfortably tight and dry either.
Hydra Control Perfect Polish Body Scrub is the product within the set that I'd be least likely to repurchase individually, particularly given the relatively high price tag of £15 for 150ml.

Jurlique Hydra Control Ultra Rich Body Lotion
Again, I really liked the packaging of this, which mirrors that of the complementary shower gel and I appreciated the functionality of the pump dispenser.
Whilst I wasn't exactly wowed by the Body Scrub, I loved the Hydra Control Ultra Rich Body Lotion. It has the same botanical scent as the other products in the trio, which is grown up and quite simply, smells expensive.
The name "ultra rich body lotion" perfectly captures the product inside- the texture of the product is akin to a rich lotion. It's quickly absorbed into skin as a lotion would be and leaves absolutely no residue (a major plus) yet has the long-lasting, hydrating qualities that you'd expect from something with a thicker texture. My skin was left feeling wonderfully conditioned and delicately scented but with no greasy residue.

Hydra Control Ultra Rich Body Lotion is the most expensive of the trio to purchase alone, at £20 for 250ml- but it's worth it.

The Jurlique Hydra Control Body Essentials Gift Set is exclusively available at Marks & Spencer and costs £35. That's a saving of £14 compared with buying the products individually so essentially you're getting the Shower Gel and beautiful packaging for free!

Thursday 5 December 2013

Christmas Countdown: bareMinerals The Mix Master READY Convertible Eyeshadow Palette (& swatches)

I normally try to feature makeup on Mondays here on Skin Deep but I couldn't wait a moment longer to share today's Christmas Countdown gift idea with you. bareMinerals READY Convertible Eyeshadow Palette is pure genius- the sort of product that makes you wonder why no one thought of it before and it's certainly a gift that you'll struggle to part with (the Christmas shopping tactic of "one for them, one for me" is perfectly justified in this instance!).

Presented in a black plastic case, the palette contains twelve powder eyeshadows and there's not one which I wouldn't use, as can sometimes be the case with eyeshadow palettes.

However, what makes this palette pure genius and sets it apart is the fact that it's "convertible". The mid section, which holds three eyeshadows, a dual ended brush and generous mirror, can be removed and used as a mini palette. It's the ideal solution for girls on the go & jet setters alike.

What's more, bareMinerals didn't stop at that. Each of the twelve shadows within the palette can be popped in & out of position in the palette so you can choose the three colours that you want to carry with you in the mini palette, making it perfectly personal.

The plastic overlay recommends different uses for each shadow e.g. base, liner or crease and there's a corresponding "tutorial" in diagram on the back of the palette. For this reason, I think the palette would be ideal for beginners and makeup addicts alike.

Predominately comprised of shimmery eyeshadows, there are also three shadows with a matte finish.
There's quite a few paler, neutral shades which would work well as a base, for an all over colour wash for those days when you need to get out the door in a hurry, or used as transition colours. Additionally, there's darker shades which can be used as liner or for a classic smokey eye, as well as opulent metallic and rich jewel tones for a modern twist on the classic smokey eye. Each shadow is 1.5g.

I've swatched each of the shadows, going from left to right from the top row downwards (as the palette came) and the photos below show the shadows in natural lighting, unless otherwise stated.

First up, we have Stealth which is a soft peach with satin finish. bareMinerals state that this is ideal for using as a base, which I'd agree with.
Second from left is Daydream, a matte fleshtone. Again, bareMinerals state this as being ideal for using as a base and whilst I agree, I also feel that it's the sort of highly versatile shade that everyone should have in their eyeshadow collection. Mattes are so often disappointingly chalky but I was impressed with the quality of this one, which is on a par with the high quality of the other shadows in the palette.
Next is Embellish, an absolutely gorgeous bronze with gold shimmer particles that would be ideal for creating a festive bronze smokey eye. bareMinerals recommend using this in the crease. I've also taken a photo of this swatch with flash to demonstrate that the shimmer is a grown-up glitter and there are no chunky particles.

Then we have Perspective which is a deep espresso brown with a satin finish. Again, a wonderful neutral which would be a welcomed addition to any eyeshadow collection. bareMinerals suggest using this as a liner colour which I agree with and also feel that it would be useful to darken up the outer "v".

The final colour on the top row of the palette (and first in my second row of swatches- no, I don't know why I swatched the shadows that way either!) is Panorama, a very pretty dark slate colour with subtle purple undertones & a satin finish.
I needed to apply a couple of layers to get a full pigmentation but it was still relatively effortless. Again, bareMinerals suggest this as a liner colour.

Next up is Mixologist, a shimmery pink champagne colour that would be ideal for using as a one shadow colour wash. bareMinerals suggest using this as a base colour, which I agree with and also think that it would be pretty used as a one shadow colour wash paired with Panorama as a liner.

Maven is essentially the matte version of Panorama. Again, I needed a couple of layers for full opacity but I remained impressed. bareMinerals state this as being ideal as a liner colour.
Muse is a shimmery, icy pale pink and another shade which bareMinerals advise using as a base, and this is most likely how I use this shade.
Next up is Max Volume, which I'd describe as blackened emerald (apologies- my picture doesn't really capture the green tones of this very well- I'm thinking of investing in a new camera in the new year so please bear with me!).
I like the incorporation of colour into the palette and particularly like that the pretty emerald has a blackened quality to it which makes it more wearable. Therefore, unlike many colours which remain untouched in palettes, I'd be more inclined to use this, either as a liner or for a colourful twist on the classic smokey eye. bareMinerals suggest using this in the crease.

Hot Commodity is a highly pigmented, bronze copper metallic. The photo above is taken in natural daylight whilst I used a flash for the photo below to try to capture the high shine effect. bareMinerals suggest using this in the crease and I think it would also make a fantastic base colour for a dramatic smokey eye.
Custom Made is another high shine shade, this time a pale pink. Again, bareMinerals suggest using this in the crease.

Last but not least is In Vogue which is a matte, muted purple. As with some of the other deeper shades in the palette, I had to apply a couple of layers of this for full pigmentation but still found it to be relatively effortless. Again, bareMinerals suggest using this in the crease and I think it would also be a gorgeous liner shade.

I was very impressed with the pigmentation and soft texture of the eyeshadows. I was also impressed with how easy to blend the shadows are. I noticed a little fall-out with some of the colours but taken on the whole, I have no complaints and think that the innovative packaging makes READY Convertible Eyeshadow Palette worth the £45 it costs. I have to say that of all the beauty gifts which I've seen whilst preparing my various festive gift guides this year, this palette has been one of the standouts.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this and can't think of any recipient would wouldn't be happy to receive this. Actually, scratch that- don't buy it as a gift, add it to your own Christmas wish list- it's worth ending up on Santa's naughty list for!

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