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.

Monday 14 April 2014

Makeup Monday: Blogger Makeup Bag

For April's Blogger Makeup Bag, I'm pleased to introduce Amy from Amy-Loves blog. Amy is a qualified beauty therapist who now works as a beauty lecturer (specialising in skincare), which means that her reviews are knowledgeable with insider opinions. Unlike many, she's not afraid of experimenting with colour so I thought it would be interesting to take a look inside her makeup bag(s!) and be inspired to brave brighter shades. Without further ado, I hand you over to Amy...

I look a little greedy as I actually have two makeup bags. My makeup bags are both from Ted Baker and I received them as Christmas presents (my family knows me so well!). The big purple makeup bag contains most of my makeup, including a good variety of eyeshadows, foundations and mascaras. The small multi-coloured one is my day-to-day makeup bag that travels everywhere with me. It contains all of my favourite items that I use throughout the day to touch up my makeup.

There isn't much in the way of subtle when it comes to my everyday favourites. I like bold makeup looks and I mostly sport big, bold red lips and bright, colourful eyes.
My absolute holy grail item in my makeup bag at the moment is Vichy Dermablend 15 Hour Foundation. I suffer with scarring from when I used to pick my spots as a teen, therefore, I need my foundation to provide a good high coverage that is long-lasting. This foundation is the first product I have found to do all of those things and more. If it wasn't in my makeup bag, I'd be completely lost. I use MAC Careblend Pressed Powder to seal my foundation. This powder is pretty good at controlling my oily t-zone midway through the day!

I'm a big lover of colours, therefore, I have quite a selection of eyeshadows. The mood I am in first thing in the morning will determine what colour I use on the day. I have to say that I find No7 eyeshadows to be amazing and the pigment lasts pretty much all day. As well as being a fan of eyeshadows, I also love blusher. I've always found that MAC Blush Powders suit my combination skin type to a tee. I have MAC Mineral Blush in the shade "Dollymix" and it sits so well on my cheeks without looking too cakey or patchy. The shade adds a pink tone to my cheeks without looking too flushed (not a good look!).

In terms of mascara, I am currently using CoverGirl Flamed Out Mascara which I purchased whilst visiting Canada last year. I love the brand and it's so affordable. This mascara is just coming to the end of its life... boo!

I always think that no matter what look you are trying to achieve, it's really not complete without a bit of lippy. I have a ridiculous collection of lipsticks that I've accumulated over time. I have a few shades in my makeup bag including reds, browns and pinks, ranging from Revlon to Estee Lauder. However, I have to say that I haven't found any lipstick as great as Maybelline in the colour Hot Red. It's a gorgeous colour that lasts for hours and hours on my lips.

I hope that you have had fun rummaging through my makeup bag with me.

Thanks Amy for taking part!
For more from Amy, visit or follow @Amys_Loves on Twitter.



Friday 4 April 2014

Speed Review: Waitrose Organic Reviving Body Wash

I like to use an energising shower gel in the mornings and recently picked up Waitrose Organic Reviving Body Wash along with my groceries. It contains more than 70% organic ingredients and has been certified by the Soil Association.

The plastic packaging is unassuming but not offensive. I'd have preferred if it was transparent to enable me to see how much product was remaining. It has a functional flip top dispenser.

The body wash itself had a lightweight cream texture. I found it to be a very liquid formula which was difficult to work with without there being some wastage. As it's free from SLS, it didn't produce much of a lather at all, however, I didn't mind this as I tend to find SLS containing shower gels to be drying on my skin. I'd recommend using this with a bath puff to make the product last longer and to boost the lather.

Waitrose Organic Reviving Body Wash contains organic sweet orange and ginger oils and these ingredients are evident in the scent, which is uplifting and slightly spicy. The scent didn't linger on my skin following use and I was pleased to note that my skin wasn't left feeling tight, dry or stripped.

I felt that I went through this too quickly to justify a repurchase at approx. £4 for 200ml. Whilst it's certainly not expensive, I didn't feel that it offered value for money. However, if it were on special offer, I might consider picking up another bottle.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Speed Review: Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Conditioner

Following on from yesterday's review of the Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Shampoo (click here to read), today's review is of the complementary conditioner.

I mentioned in yesterday's review that I've remained faithful to one brand of shampoo for a number of years but when it comes to conditioner, I tend to be a little more experimental. Free from parabens, Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Conditioner contains a blend of fourteen essential oils and plant extracts, including Moroccan Argan Oil, Ylang Ylang, and Palmarosa.

I appreciated the functionality of the tube packaging, although if I were to be fussy I'd say that I'd like more of a distinguishing feature e.g. a different coloured cap, between the shampoo & conditioner, however, I recognise that this isn't unusual.

Despite its nourishing name, the conditioner had a relatively lightweight texture. It had a sweet, candy-like fragrance but I didn't find it offensive or sickly & it doesn't linger in hair after use. A little goes a long way.

One of the key factors which I judge hair products by when reviewing is the rinsability and for me, this was the main downside of Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Conditioner. I found that it took both time & effort to thoroughly rinse the conditioner out of my hair & for that reason, I'd be unlikely to repurchase. After repeated use, I noticed that my sensitive scalp was becoming irritated and this would be another factor which would put me off repurchasing.

My hair was left feeling unbelievably soft and for that reason, I feel that it lives up to the nourishing claims. I was impressed to note that my fine hair wasn't weighted down. It looked more sleek & less frizzy than usual after blow drying and had a healthy movement.

Whilst I didn't overly enjoy using the conditioner owing to the scent and the rinsability, the results were encouraging.

Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Conditioner costs £6.49 for 250ml which is more than I was expecting so I'd be inclined to look out for offers on this if you were thinking of trying it.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Speed Review: Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Shampoo

In a beauty blogger's world where we're constantly on the search for the next big thing, it's rare to stay dedicated to one particular product yet regular readers will know that La Biosthetique Shampoo has remained a constant and favourite in my routine for the last few years. Since I started using the La Biosthetique shampoos, which care for my hair without irritating my sensitive scalp, around four or five years ago I've only tried one or two other shampoos.

With that in mind, it may seem surprising that today's review is of the Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Shampoo, with a review of the conditioner coming up tomorrow.

I didn't have high expectations when I came to try out the shampoo. My usual shampoo is a salon brand and I was concerned that a "drugstore" brand would irritate my sensitive scalp. I was, however, somewhat reassured to note that the shampoo is sulphate free (it's also paraben free).

The shampoo contains a blend of fourteen essential oils and plant extracts including Moroccan Argan Oil, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Sage, Sandalwood, Palmarosa, Spearmint, Castor, Orange, Clove, Patchouli and White Birch. It's designed for dry and damaged hair, as well as being marketed as ideal for use when heat styling. My hair is fine and prone to breakage but isn't particularly dry. I've recently been reaching for my straighteners more regularly so I was keen to try the shampoo to see if it would add some nourishment back into my hair.

I appreciated the functionality of the tube dispenser. I wouldn't say that it looks particularly luxurious but nor is the packaging offensive.

Nothing about the shampoo itself gave away the fact that it's sulphate free. It has a clear gel texture which produced an impressive lather, yet rinsed away effortlessly. A little goes a long way. The sweet, candy-like scent was a little juvenile for my personal taste so I was grateful that it didn't linger following use.

Whilst I didn't notice anything nourishing during use, e.g. there wasn't a creamy formula, I was impressed with the results following use. My hair was left looking shiny and I was impressed at how smooth the finish was. I normally need to use finishing products to tame my tresses but this wasn't necessary after washing my hair with Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Shampoo. My fine hair wasn't weighed down (although after regular use I noticed that my hair was a little limp) but had manageable movement and my sensitive scalp wasn't irritated.

At £6.49 for 250ml, Mark Hill MiracOILicious Nourishing Shampoo is affordable and is a product that I'd recommend.
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