Wednesday 31 December 2014

Skin Deep Beauty Awards 2014: The Shortlist (picture heavy)

Skin Deep's annual Beauty Awards are, somewhat unbelievably, now in their 5th year. The Skin Deep Beauty Awards 2014 promise to be bigger than ever before, with a host of new categories giving recognition to the best of the best in beauty.

This year, we're doing things slightly differently. You may have noticed the incorporation of Twitter nominations, making the awards more interactive than in previous years. Today's post also gives a sneak peak into the possible winners with a snapshot of some of the shortlisted products for the first time. Can you spot your favourites?







Sunday 30 November 2014

Speed Review: Radox Nourish Shower Cream

Today's review is of Radox Nourish Shower Cream. For those readers who recall my review of the brand's Cherry Blast Shower Gel (click here to read), it may seem surprising that I've revisited Radox's shower products. In actual fact, I picked this up at the same time as the Cherry Blast Shower Gel. Despite my previous negative review, I aimed to keep an open mind when trialling the Nourish Shower Cream.


As you'd expect, the packaging isn't exactly luxurious but it is functional with a squeeze dispenser at the base. I liked that it had a plastic hook at the top which could be flicked up if you prefer to hang your body wash in the shower. What's more, I liked that the transparent packaging meant that I could see how much was remaining.

Given the wallet friendly price tag, it was unsurprising that the second ingredient is Sodium Laureth Sulphate. This meant that I was easily able to work the shower cream into a generous lather. However, I tend to find SLS strips my skin and leaves it feeling dry. As such, I wasn't able to forgo moisturiser following use and I certainly didn't notice any skin nourishing benefits, as the name suggests. 
The packaging boasts a "feel good fragrance" and a nurturing blend of shea butter and ginger. It has a fruity fragrance which I found to be pleasant and not sickly sweet. I didn't notice that the scent lingered on my skin once I was out of the shower.
I felt as though I went through this body wash quite quickly so I'd recommend using a bath puff with it to make it go further.

I preferred this to the Cherry Blast Shower Gel. I felt that the packaging had been given more consideration and also, the scent was more to my personal taste. Having said this, I still didn't love Radox Nourish Shower Cream. It's fine and does the job (although I'd argue its "nourishing" claims) but there are other products which I prefer so I won't be repurchasing. 

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Speed Review: Soapsmith Limehouse Bar Soap

I rarely feature bar soaps here on Skin Deep, preferring to opt for liquid soaps and shower gels. However, one which has made the cut is Soapsmith, a British Brand specialising in hand-crafted & hand-cut soaps made using the traditional Cold Process method to retain the quality of the ingredients, each inspired by the owner's love of London. The soaps are paraben free and contain sustainably sourced palm oil.

I've recently been testing out the Limehouse soap, named after the London region and unsurprisingly, scented with a fresh, clean and zesty lemon and lime fragrance.

I absolutely adored the packaging which reiterates the "inspired by London" message, thanks to the incorporation of a London map. On the side of the box, the benefits of the key ingredients are listed. For example, lime essential oil boasts antiseptic and astringent properties, lemongrass essential oils is refreshing, stimulating and uplifting whilst cocoa butter and shea butters are rich & nourishing. The bar itself was perfectly cut and embossed with the brand's logo.

It took a little work to create a lather. During use, the citrus scent that is apparent when you open the box doesn't come through particularly strongly. In fact, I noticed a slightly clinical fragrance, however, following use my skin was left feeling clean and a delicate fresh fragrance lingered.

I was impressed at how long the soap lasted, particularly in comparison to other, cheaper bar soaps which I've tried. As such, I feel that the price tag of £6 is justified.

As the festive season approaches, Soapsmith Bar Soaps would make fantastic stocking fillers or token gifts, particularly for any London dwelling friends. In addition to the Limehouse scent, there are soaps with fragrances inspired by Brick Lane, Marble Arch, Baker Street, Bloomsbury, Lavender Hill and Green Park.

Monday 24 November 2014

Speed Review: Heaven by Deborah Mitchell EllaJane Celebrity Skin Wipes

I have to admit that when I first heard that one of my favourite skincare brands, Heaven by Deborah Mitchell, was launching cleansing wipes, I was dubious. I've repeatedly stated my dislike for cleansing wipes for a variety of reasons but mainly because I simply don't feel that they offer a sufficiently effective cleanse. Having said this, I can appreciate their convenience, particularly at this time of year as we head into party season and I realise that they're better than nothing when you're in a pinch.

I like the story behind Heaven's Celebrity Skin Wipes. Founder, Deborah Mitchell and her daughter, Ella developed the wipes together and it's clear that they are intended to appeal to a younger audience in addition to fans of the main Heaven line.

The packaging is minimalist and chic. Those who place importance upon eco credentials will appreciate that the plastic packaging is made from renewable materials and uses far less oil than other plastic. What's more, the wipes themselves are made from certified organic cotton. I liked that the packaging includes an expiration date.

The packet of 30 wipes is rather bulky and this means that they wouldn't be my first choice for travel. Having said this, the reason for the bulkiness is down to the size and quality of the wipes. I'd have preferred a secure clip fastening rather than the sticker closure.

The wipes themselves are the most generously sized I've come across. I normally find that when using wipes, I need to use a couple which makes them something of a false economy. However, with the Heaven by Deborah Mitchell EllaJane Celebrity Skin Wipes, I only needed to use one each time. The quality of the wipes also impressed me. They're thick and easily passed my "tear test".

The wipes contain skincare ingredients such as Apple Pectin, Honey and Peppermint and are sufficiently saturated so that there's no need to rub at skin. I noticed a slightly medicinal scent but it's not offensive.

At £7.30 for a pack of 30 wipes, Heaven by Deborah Mitchell EllaJane Celebrity Skin Wipes are more expensive than many on the market. However, they're some of the best I've come across and I feel that the quality makes them worth the extra money. I still can't bring myself to actually recommend wipes but if I was going to, it would be these.


Tuesday 18 November 2014

Speed Review: Le Petit Marseillais Lait D'Amande Douce (Sweet Almond Milk Shower Cream)


Today's review is of a body wash from the affordable brand, Le Petit Marseillais, which I picked up in a French supermarket on a recent trip.

The packaging isn't anything special but nonetheless, the continental aesthetic appealed to me. I found the flip top dispenser to be functional, however, I'd have preferred if the plastic bottle wasn't opaque so that I could tell how much product was remaining.

As the name suggests, it's a shower cream as opposed to a gel. In fact, I'd describe the texture as a shower milk.

The scent is incredible and lives up to the sweet almond description. It's a comforting scent, reminiscent of frangipane but not sickly. I didn't notice that it lingered on my skin following use. I liked the scent so much that I'd be tempted to find out if there's an accompanying body milk if I were to return to France.

The inclusion of SLS meant that I was able to create a generous lather, however, it also makes me question the validity of the claims that it's a hydrating and nourishing product. I certainly didn't feel able to forgo moisturiser following use.

If you find yourself in France, I'd recommend looking out for this. It's worth trying for the scent alone but what's more, it's an affordable way to indulge.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Speed Review: HealGel Body

Despite launching back in 2008, the HealGel range has recently seemed to spring up out of nowhere, making leaps in popularity and becoming an overnight success story, winning various awards.

I've recently been trialling the latest addition to the range, HealGel Body. The product is described as an advanced, scientifically- designed, skin rescue body formula.

British model, Suki Waterhouse is already a fan, stating, "As a model I often work in extreme weather conditions or under harsh lighting so my skin can get a bit dry. I've started to use HealGel Body in between shoots and it helps keep my skin really soft and smooth."

As is the case with the other products in the range, HealGel Body is presented in a white box which is colour coded to signify the product inside, in this case, yellow. The packaging has a clinical feel to it that gives a nod to the cult brand's origins. Inside is a 100ml tube with an appearance which reflects that of the outer packaging.

Whilst travel friendly, 100ml is an unusually small size for a body moisturiser and I'm not sure how long the tube would last, particularly given that the directions recommend applying 2-3 times per day (seriously, who has the time?!). I was quite surprised at the ingredients listing, which includes a high concentration of propylene glycol as well as silicones.

It is a slightly opaque gel which absorbed with incredible ease into my skin. I've never previously come across a body moisturiser that leaves absolutely zero noticeable residue on the skin- there was no stickiness or greasiness, making it ideal for busy ladies.

I personally found the slightly medicinal scent to be pleasant although it may not be to everyone's liking. It's a clean and fresh scent that lingers delicately on the skin following use but isn't overpowering.

As the name suggests, HealGel Body is designed to be healing and this is most evident in the inclusion of a relatively high concentration of arnica within the ingredients. I'm very clumsy and often notice unsightly bruises and nicks on my legs (which I generally have no recollection of getting) so I was keen to see if this would aid healing. Whether it was psychological or not, it's hard to say but I did feel that it boosted the recovery time.

At £39.50 for just 100ml of product, HealGel Body is undeniably expensive and I'd find it difficult to justify a repurchase. However, it is unlike anything else I've come across so I could be tempted- particularly before occasions such as summer which require baring my legs.

Friday 7 November 2014

Speed Review: Radox Cherry Blast Shower Gel

I don't usually opt for cheaper shower gels but I recently picked up the Radox Cherry Blast Shower Gel on a whim when it was on offer for just £1 in Boots. The bright, bold packaging stood out to me on the shop shelf and whilst it's by no means luxurious, it is functional with a flip top dispenser on the base.

The gel itself is a rather alarming red colour. As it is high in SLS, it can be worked into a relatively generous lather. However, the downside is that I found it to be drying on my skin and I needed to take extra care to moisturise following use.

There's nothing wrong with this shower gel- it's perfectly fine and does the job but I won't be repurchasing. Personally, I prefer to inject a little luxury into the otherwise mundane task of my daily shower so I'll be sticking to higher end brands in future.

Along with cherry blast, there's also berry burst & coconut kiss options.


Thursday 23 October 2014

Aveda Hand Relief for Breast Cancer Awareness

Today's post continues with the look at special edition products being released in support of Breast Cancer Awareness- this time, Aveda's Hand Relief.
Since 2001, Aveda has raised more than $3.4 million to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through its limited edition Breast Cancer Awareness products. It's not the first time that Aveda have chosen their hand cream as the special edition product. Last year's offering (see review here) saw a limited edition Hand Relief released with a rosemary and mint fragrance.
This year, Aveda Hand Relief is infused with the brand's signature Shampure botanical fragrance, which I adore. It's presented in limited edition packaging featuring a pink cap and the charity's instantly recognisable pink ribbon, acting as a reminder of the cause every time you moisturise your hands.
The nourishing formula is easily absorbed and leaves hands feeling protected. It's the ideal addition to your regime, particularly at this time of year and my tube is currently taking pride of place on my office desk. What's more, the limited edition tube is 150ml, i.e. 20% larger than the standard 125ml size.
Through the sale of its limited edition Hand Relief, Aveda hopes to raise $305,000 for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation to help fund research into the environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer. £2 from every purchase priced at £21.50 will be donated to the cause.


Wednesday 22 October 2014

Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne for Breast Cancer Awareness

Whilst there is always some controversy (over how much money actually goes to the charities), it's undeniable that the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign has been hugely successful in terms of awareness and fund raising. Over the past two decades, the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign has raised over $53 million to support research, education and medical services around the globe. This year, the aim of the campaign is to shift public focus from awareness to increased action.

Once again, it's October which means the turn of all things pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. Over the next couple of days, I'll be taking a look at some of the special edition beauty items that are being released in aid of the cause. First up, a look at Jo Malone's offering.

Throughout the month, Jo Malone will be donating £20 from every UK sale of 100ml Red Roses Cologne (£82) to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's UK research grants. For critics of the charity initiative, that equates to more than 20% of the purchase price going to the cause.

As the name suggests, Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne is a floral fragrance comprising a blend of seven of the world's most exquisite roses.  From the first spritz, I was transported to an English rose garden. It is undeniably floral and if you don't like the scent of roses (I know many people think of rose fragrances as reminiscent of old ladies) then this won't be the perfume for you. Having said that, there's a freshness to the scent with green notes including violet leaf, mint and lemon that keeps it modern.

The special edition bottle has been dressed with the instantly recognisable pink ribbon so that you can be reminded of the good cause you're supporting every time you spray the perfume.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Speed Review: Aveda Smooth Infusion Conditioner

I've been a bad blogger recently and it's the longest that I've gone without posting in the history of Skin Deep. I blog as a hobby and unfortunately, other areas of my life have had to take priority hence the recent silence.

However, I'm back and felt that it would be fitting to return with a review of the Aveda Smooth Infusion Conditioner, a current favourite.

On first impressions, I was pleased that the packaging was a functional tube, which was clearly identified apart from the accompanying shampoo which is presented in a bottle. As with all Aveda products, the packaging was sleek and minimalist, whilst the mint colour of the tube appealed to me. The tube meant that it was easy to control how much product was dispensed, without any wastage or mess.

The conditioner felt silky to apply, most likely owing to the high concentration of dimethicone within the formula, which I have to admit that I was a little disappointed, albeit not surprised, to note.
It boasts the signature Aveda botanical fragrance blend, which I adore. It took a little more work than other conditioners I've tried to rinse out but not to the extent that it was off putting.

I was initially dubious over how effective Aveda Smooth Infusion Conditioner would be so I was both pleasantly surprised and highly impressed to note that my hair was left noticeably smoother, with considerably less frizz and fewer flyaways than I'd normally experience. It meant that my hair was manageable and I found it quicker & easier to style than usual.

At £19 for 200ml, Aveda Smooth Infusion Conditioner is a pricey choice. However, given that I've noticed a difference (& not in a good way) when I haven't used it, I'd definitely consider repurchasing.

Friday 16 May 2014

Speed Review: The Sanctuary Spa Sleep Smoothing Silk Polish

I've really been enjoying the re-launched ranges from The Sanctuary recently and have so far put the Relax and Sleep lines to the test. Today's review is of the Smoothing Silk Polish from the Sleep range.

On first impressions, I liked the packaging. The purple colour and matte finish of the tube added a certain luxurious quality. The directions were clear and I liked the inclusion of a Therapist's Tip to reiterate the home spa message. What's more, I appreciated the functionality of the tube dispenser.
I found it unusual to use a body scrub before bed as I usually prefer to apply this kind of product in the morning to boost circulation and help awaken. However, the incredible fragrance makes it ideal for night time use. The scent is a luxurious combination of Ylang Ylang to reduce tension and relieve stress, Frankincense to clarify and calm, and Patchouli to help reduce anxiety before sleep. I absolutely adored the fragrance, finding it to be reminiscent of far more expensive products. I really found it to be a joy to use.
Whilst I found the creamy texture (which sank into my skin) enjoyable to use, the scrub itself lacked the satisfyingly abrasive quality that I favour. The exfoliating granules of ground coconut shell simply aren't sufficiently concentrated within the product. Admittedly, it's described as a gentle polish and as this is a term which I associate with lighter, less thorough formulas than scrubs, perhaps it's unsurprising. However, even when following the therapist's tip of applying to dry skin prior to showering, I still didn't find it to offer the effectiveness that I desired.
The Sanctuary Spa Sleep Smoothing Silk Polish didn't leave a residue on my skin following use and whilst my skin didn't feel tight, dry or stripped, I was unable to forego moisturiser. My skin did feel smooth so whilst I didn't find it to be as thorough a scrub as I'd like, I'd say that it lives up to the smoothing name. The incredible scent helped me to unwind and feel relaxed before bed.
Despite not being abrasive enough for my personal taste, I feel that The Sanctuary Spa Sleep Smoothing Silk Polish represents good value for money at £8 for 200ml. I'm eager to try out more of the products within the same line and would be keen to see if there is a body wash in the same fragrance.


Monday 12 May 2014

Makeup Monday: Blogger Makeup Bag

For this month's Blogger Makeup Bag, I'm thrilled to introduce one of my favourite bloggers, Michelle from Luxe Life Aspirations. Based in Dublin, Michelle is a beauty addict and fellow skincare junkie. Every time I visit her blog, my beauty wishlist gets longer so I couldn't wait to peek inside her makeup bag. Without further ado, I hand you over to Michelle...

My makeup bag is an old Marc by Marc Jacobs pouch that I've had for years but I love it. Who doesn't love a bit of leopard print? And it's huge so I can fit lots in it, including the kitchen sink if necessary! 

It's getting ridiculous now the amount of times I go on about this but the Diorskin Nude BB Crème in shade #001 is much hyped and deservedly so. I love the flawless satin skin-like glow this gives.

For under my eyes or on any redness, I use the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla. This offers a hefty dose of correcting and coverage.

Because I over-plucked my brows as a sixteen year old, they will always need some definition. I use the Laura Mercier Eye Brow Pencil in Auburn. Not too cool or warm, this is the perfect shade for me.

Cheeks are sorted with a light application of cream blush. My current favourite is Le Blush Crème de Chanel in #62 Presage, a gorgeous pinky/ peach hybrid that dries down to an almost velvet finish.

I generally skip eyeshadow during the day and go for lashings of mascara. I'm using the Lancôme Hypnose Doll Eyes at the moment. The brush gets to the root of the lashes like nothing else and it gives amazing volume and thickness.

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder in #10 is added mostly for the large mirror but also because it's amazing for taking down any shine without ever looking cakey.

Lastly, continuing the colour theme, lips are kept glossy and peach toned with Chantecaille Brilliant Gloss in Mirth.

I've recently downsized my handbag so these are the makeup items that have survived the cull. Just a handful of products to lug around with me, just incase.

Thanks Michelle for taking part!
For more from Michelle, visit Luxe Life Aspirations or follow @LuxeAspirations on Twitter.

Thursday 8 May 2014

Speed Review: Trevor Sorbie Frizz Free Repair Mask

Previous reviews of Trevor Sorbie products here on Skin Deep haven't been the most positive (click here for a review of the Beautiful Brunette Warm Rich Intensive Treatment and here for a review of the Beautifully Straightened Heat Defence Blow Dry Spray) so I didn't have particularly high expectations when it came to trying the Frizz Free Repair Mask.

Trevor Sorbie Frizz Free Repair Mask is described as having an extra moisturising formula with Avocado oil to replenish dry, damaged hair and leave it super soft, healthy and shiny. I have fine hair which I'd describe as being in normal condition rather than dry or damaged. However, as it is prone to breakage and moderate frizz, I try to care for my hair using oils and occasional masks. So, what did I think of the Trevor Sorbie Frizz Free Repair Mask?

It will come as little surprise that I didn't like the plastic tub packaging. I'd have preferred the functionality of a tube. From an aesthetic point of view, the bright turquoise packaging might help to catch my eye if I saw it on a shop shelf. I didn't like that the instructions for use were difficult to find as I like to be able to see at a glance how long to leave a mask on for. I eventually located them on a lift up sticker on the base of the tub. Having said this, I liked the inclusion of the Salon Stylist Top Tip on the side of the tub which reiterated the "salon approved" message.

In the tub, the mask has a very strong, synthetic fragrance which reminded me of cleaning products, however, during use I found the scent to be quite pleasant, and I'd describe it as fresh and floral. Either way, I couldn't detect any scent in my hair once it was dried and styled.

Trevor Sorbie Frizz Free Repair Mask has a very thick, rich texture which means that a little goes a long way- the tub will last and last. I found it easy to work through my hair and I appreciated the convenience of only having to leave the mask on for 3- 5 minutes. I was concerned that the rich texture would make it difficult to wash out so I was impressed at the relative ease with which I was able to rinse my hair.

Following use, my hair was left feeling extremely soft. It looked healthy, with noticeably improved shine. I was impressed that my fine hair wasn't weighed down despite the rich formula of the mask but instead, had a healthy bounce and movement.
My hair had a smoother finish than it usually does and whilst there was still some fluffiness and a little frizz that needed taming, I felt that my hair was nourished.

I was pleasantly surprised by Trevor Sorbie Frizz Free Repair Mask and am keen to try out more of the products in the line. At £5.99 for 200ml, the mask is an affordable option which I'd recommend.


Sunday 4 May 2014

Speed Review: The Sanctuary Relax Unwind Luxury Bath Soak

I rarely indulge in baths, preferring the convenience of a shower but on the rare occasions that I do enjoy a soak in the tub, I like to make it a truly pampering experience. I light candles, switch my phone onto silent and add a bath soak to the water. I've been trying out the recently re-launched range from The Sanctuary, specifically the Unwind Luxury Bath Soak from the Relax line.

The Sanctuary Relax Unwind Luxury Bath Soak contains essential oils to aid relaxation and calm the senses, helping to unwind after a stressful day. Vetivert helps to calm the mind, Cedarwood promotes a sense of clarity and Labdanum provides gentle relaxation. It also contains Milk and Honey along with Lotus and Sweet Almond Oil to soothe skin and leave it feeling silky soft. The formula is free from parabens.

The plastic packaging isn't the most luxurious but I liked that there is a purely aesthetic cap which pulls off to uncover the second lid. However, when it came to using the product, the squeezy nature of the plastic bottle helped to dispense it. The directions are a little unclear as to how much to use, simply stating "pour generously under warm, running water." I took the "generous" direction literally and I'd say that I used approximately an eighth of the bottle in one large bath. For this reason, I don't think that the bottle would last for very long if you bathe regularly.

I thought that the room filling fragrance smelt sophisticated and expensive. It's the kind of spicy, sensual scent which I adore so I was pleased that it lingered on my skin following use. I could easily see myself getting addicted to it!

The Sanctuary Relax Unwind Luxury Bath Soak is definitely a bubble bath. The high concentration of SLS meant that a generous amount of bubbles was created, which many people look for in a bath soak. Personally, I was concerned that the SLS laden formula would prove drying on my skin and for this reason, I wouldn't forgo moisturising afterwards.

Whether it was the product, the effect of taking some "me-time" in the bath or simply a placebo, I did feel that it helped me to unwind and I felt calm afterwards, although the effects weren't so relaxing that I felt sleepy.

At £10 for 300ml, it's not the cheapest bath product and given how much I used, I'm not sure how much value for money it represents. Having said this, I was impressed overall and in particular, can only reiterate how much I enjoyed the fragrance so for this reason, I'd recommend it as an affordable luxury.

Monday 28 April 2014

Speed Review: Beauty UK Gel FX Posh Polish in Cafe Cosmos

If you follow me on Instagram then you may have spotted today's #ManiMonday picture, in which I'm sporting Beauty UK Gel FX Posh Polish in the shade Café Cosmos.

Affordable brand, Beauty UK isn't one with which I'm overly familiar but I've heard good things about their products so I was excited to try out one of their nail polishes, having only ever tried them once before.

The packaging is similar to that of Nails Inc and there's 9ml of polish in the bottle. I didn't overly like the "posh polish" name but otherwise, I had no complaints.

I was highly impressed with the smooth formula which applied evenly and was fully opaque in just two coats. At a push, you could even get away with one coat. I'm not sure how true the "Gel Fx" name is. I didn't feel that my nails had a gel-like finish until after I'd topped them with my trusty Seche Vite.

I love neutral nails because not only do they look elegant and chic, they're effortless because they go with everything. As the name suggests, Café Cosmos is a café au lait colour which pulls towards pale khaki in certain lighting. Despite my extensive polish collection, it's a unique shade unlike anything else that I own.

I was slightly disappointed that the polish chipped within just a couple of days' wear, particularly as I hadn't done any of the chores which usually damage nails.

In comparison to the Barry M Gelly Polishes, another affordable gel effect polish, I'd say that Barry M would be my preferred choice simply because the polishes dry to a shinier finish and are more long-wearing.

However, I would definitely consider trying more colours from the range (there are six to choose from in the Gel Fx line) and at £3.49 a bottle, I think Beauty UK Gel FX Posh Polishes are worth a look.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Speed Review: Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette

Overindulged on the chocolate eggs this Easter? Check out the latest "it" palette, the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette.

Palettes from Too Faced are quickly becoming amongst my favourites. They're executed well, with expertly edited colour combinations and the quality of the shadows is up there with the likes of Urban Decay, etc... and the Chocolate Bar palette is no exception.

The mix of chocolate and makeup was always going to be a winning combination so it's unsurprising that beauty fans have been raving about this palette since its launch in February. It's not the first time that the brand has released a product inspired by the dark stuff. One of the founders of Too Faced was reportedly inspired to include cocoa in products having enjoyed a chocolate facial treatment. Too Faced are renowned for their Chocolate Bronzer and they've previously released a palette which resembled a box of chocolates (the Shadow Bon Bons Palette). The Chocolate Bar palette is in keeping with the brand's affinity with chocolate and even contains 100% natural cocoa powder, which is rich in antioxidants.

Presented in a box which looks like a foil wrapped chocolate bar, the tin palette resembles a chocolate bar in appearance. I like that the name of the palette is reflected in the design and feel that it adds a fun twist, making it stand out from other palettes. It has a functional magnetic closure. As with other Too Faced palettes, a step-by-step guide to creating different looks is included.
Despite the quirky packaging, the quality of the product inside isn't compromised. Upon opening the palette, I was hit with the indulgent scent of sweet chocolate- it really is a treat for the senses!  It's said that even smelling chocolate can improve our moods, helping to relax and relieve stress & anxiety, which is one of the reasons why Too Faced were keen to incorporate the scent.


Each of the sixteen eyeshadows within the palette is wearable, and I particularly liked the mix of matte and shimmer finishes, which can be lacking in other palettes. Furthermore, I appreciated that the White Chocolate (a great matte cream that will be the ideal base) and Champagne Truffle (as the name suggests, a gorgeous Champagne shade ideal for highlighting or as a colour wash all over the lid) shades are larger, with 2.8g of product compared with the other shades, which are 0.95g each.
I really love that each of the shades has a mouth-watering, confectionary inspired name.

Gilded Ganache- this shade needed to be applied in a few layers to achieve full intensity
White Chocolate- a very smooth matte cream which is pigmented and didn't applied in a patchy way, as many mattes can
Milk Chocolate- again, I was impressed at how smooth and pigmented this matte shade was. It's a gorgeous grungy shade that would work well as a contour colour.
Black Forest Truffle- this shade, which contains chunky glitter particles, needed to be applied in layers to achieve full intensity. I'd recommend applying this using a densely packed eyeshadow brush and pressing it onto the lids for the best effect.
Triple Fudge- a stunning and intense blackened brown matte which would work well in the outer "v".

From bottom to top: Gilded Ganache, White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Black Forest Truffle, Triple Fudge

Salted Caramel- another grungy shade with a matte finish. This would also work well in the crease.
Marzipan- an intensely pigmented rose gold which has a metallic finish. It's a very pretty shade which I'd be most likely to use either as a colour wash all over the lid or applied to the centre of the eyelid to add a pop to a look. Note that although there was also a shade called Marzipan in the Shadow Bon Bons palette, this is a completely different eyeshadow.
Semi-Sweet- a wearable matte brown
Strawberry Bon Bon- I was initially concerned that this pastel pink matte looked a little chalky but it was fine once a few layers had been applied. This is the shade which I'd probably be least likely to reach for in the palette. However, I appreciate that it's a unique shade and is unlike anything else I have in my extensive collection.
Candied Violet- this shade is packed with chunky pink glitter so again, I'd recommend applying it using a densely packed brush. I needed to apply a few layers to achieve full intensity. I like that Too Faced have included this pop of colour within the palette, particularly because it's still a wearable shade that I might reach for if I want something different to intensify my brown eyes.

From bottom to top: Salted Caramel, Marzipan, Semi- Sweet, Strawberry Bon Bon, Candied Violet

Amaretto- this gorgeous red toned metallic is probably my favourite shade in the palette. It's a burgundy copper which I can't wait to incorporate into a smokey eye.
Hazelnut- this is a pretty brown shade with a subtle bronze finish. It took more layering to achieve full intensity than I'd anticipated but is a very wearable shade.
Crème Brulee- this is a pigmented, metallic gold. I'd describe it as being more of an "old gold" than the yellower toned Half Baked by Urban Decay. It's very wearable and I can see myself reaching for this a lot, particularly for summer nights out.

From bottom to top: Amaretto, Hazelnut, Crème Brulee

Haute Chocolate- a pretty bronze with a frosted finish
Cherry Cordial- a matte burgundy which has some small shimmer particles
Champagne Truffle- given the name, this shade translated on the skin as whiter than I'd anticipated. It has a frost finish and would work well as a highlight shade. It reminded me a lot of Mac's Phloof (one of my favourite highlight shades), however, whereas Phloof has a pink undertone, Champagne Truffle has a golden peach undertone.

From bottom to top: Haute Chocolate, Cherry Cordial, Champagne Truffle

Whilst some shades required a little more work than others, I was impressed overall with the shadows in this palette both in terms of colour selection and formulation. In particular, I was impressed at the quality of the matte shades, which are notoriously difficult to do well.

I haven't tried every colour on my eyes as yet but those which I have, I've found to apply smoothly. I was impressed at how little fall out there was during application, although I'm yet to try the glittery shades. The shadows I tried were pigmented yet blended easily and wore well on the lids throughout the day.

At £45, the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette is on the pricier end of the scale for a palette. It's a shame that despite the high price point, there are no extras such as a brush, eyeliner or eyeshadow primer included. Having said this, it works out at approximately £3 per shadow and given that each shade is wearable, it represents good value in that respect. It really is a very well thought out product that would be a welcome addition to any collection. So go on, treat yourself, without the calories!

Friday 18 April 2014

Speed Review: Clarins Extra-Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream

You only had to look at the Skin Deep Beauty Awards 2013 to know that I'm a big fan of Clarins skincare so when I heard the news that a new cleanser was being introduced for 2014, I couldn't wait to check it out.

Essentially, this is an update on the existing Extra Comfort Cleanser (which I have never tried). I have to admit that I found the previous packaging, with the signature Clarins white and gold, to be more luxurious. I feel that in their attempts to modernise, they are aligning themselves a little too closely with the packaging of clinical brands such as Clinique, whilst I like that Clarins is luxurious, with quality ingredients, at the same time as being effective and results driven.

Having said this, the tube is functional with a flip top dispenser that allows for easy and hygienic dispensing with no wastage.

The formula of Clarins Extra-Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream is akin to a rich cream. It contains moringa seed extract, mango and shea butters, along with jojoba oil. A little goes a long way so the generously sized tube will last for a long time. Despite not being the cheapest cleanser, I feel that it represents good value for money at £25 for 200ml for this reason.

The rich formula felt comforting to apply to skin and I found that it was absorbed as I massaged it in. I appreciated that it is gentle enough for use on the delicate eye area. It has a pleasant scent. Clarins recommend a seven step removal process, whereby hands are used to make fast suction-like motions by quickly pressing down on the face and removing hands. This step is repeated seven times, working from the centre of the face towards the outside, then repeating five times on each side of the neck. The idea is supposedly that the cleanser thickens and produces a suction-like effect that releases and eliminates makeup, impurities and traces of pollution without irritating the skin or disturbing tissues. I found this removal process rather gimmicky and a bit of a faff but arguably, some people may enjoy the ritualistic aspect.

Following the seven steps, the cleanser designed to be rinsed or tissued off. I was concerned about leaving traces of the shea butter rich formula on my acne prone skin so I used a warm flannel (washcloth) to buff away the residue. My skin was left feeling thoroughly cleaned yet not stripped, only hydrated.

Clarins Extra-Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream is designed to be suitable for all skin types. Personally, I feel that this is a very pleasant cleanser and I'd recommend it for those with dry or mature skin types but feel that the inclusion of shea butter (whilst I didn't personally experience any problems) may mean that it is too rich for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Speed Review: Champneys Spa Indulgence Distant Shores Body Scrub

I recently mentioned that I've been reaching for my body scrubs more regularly now that the sun has come out. Admittedly, I tend to use body products throughout the year but there's no denying that my focus shifts & I pay more attention to body care as the temperature rises.

It'll still be a while before "high summer" reaches the UK so I was keen to try to recreate that tropical holiday feeling with the latest body scrub that I've been trying out, Champneys Spa Indulgence Distant Shores Body Scrub. As a side note, I was really surprised to realise that I've never previously featured Champneys here on Skin Deep but that's possibly because, despite being a popular & affordable home spa range, it's not one with which I'm personally overly familiar.

The tub is aesthetically pleasing & I feel that the design effectively communicates the home spa message. However, it won't come as a surprise that I'd have preferred the functionality of a tube.

I really liked the incredible tropical fruity scent which I was pleased to note was luxurious, rather than being sickeningly sweet as some fruit fragrances can be. Champneys describe the scent as passion fruit, mango and citrus and I'd say that this is reflective of the scent. It reminded me of a fruity summer cocktail.

Champneys Spa Indulgence Distant Shores Body Scrub has a very unusual texture, unlike any other scrub I've tried. It's akin to a gel and felt silky smooth to apply. The texture reminded me of that of a makeup primer and a quick scan of the ingredients list gave the explanation for this- it's thanks to the inclusion of dimethicone. In fact, the ingredients aren't particularly luxurious e.g. mineral oil, which was disappointing.

As sea salt is the exfoliant within the scrub, I had anticipated this to be satisfyingly abrasive but the granules simply weren't concentrated enough and I was disappointed at how ineffective the scrub was. It might be a good choice for summer when I prefer a lighter scrub.

Admittedly, my skin was left feeling soft & smooth but I didn't feel that it had sloughed off dead skin cells in the way that I'd expect. My skin wasn't left feeling tight or stripped but simply delicately scented. There was no residue left on my skin following use and I still needed to reach for the moisturiser.

Champneys Spa Indulgence Distant Shores Body Scrub costs £10 for 200g or £2.50 for a miniature 50ml tub. Although I wasn't overly impressed with the scrub and wouldn't repurchase, I really liked the scent and might be tempted to try out some of the other products within the line.
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