Tuesday, 1 November 2016

DECIEM / THE ORDINARY: Review + 3 Month Results

The last really huge skincare craze (and I mean lines out the door/every newspaper was talking about it) release was the No 7 Protect & Perfect serum about ten years ago. Remember those days? I remember so vividly when my Mum wanted to get it. People became obsessed with grabbing the product of the moment/year! They lined up for hours at the prospect of having beautiful skin from a miracle product. I was about 10 back then, so I can't really comment and say I was hoping to grab it or whether it was a miracle product (is anything?) but what I do know now, is that skincare is a long-haul. You have to prevent wrinkles and take care of your skin while it's young in order to look good at 40. It's not a battle, it's something we should enjoy. However skincare has been made into this enemy of the state, with consumers groaning at the prospect of being faced with 40 different brands and twenty different prices with some really confusing claims. Online brands are popping up everywhere, some good, some not so good, but it's rare that you'll discover a brand that is really amazing. And I have. This is one brand you won't have to wait in the cold for, either. 
Deceit / The Ordinary UK Beauty Blogger Review Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid

This is possibly the biggest launch of beauty products ever, and it didn't even need a billboard or Kylie Jenner to stand there posing with it to sell 30,000 units within the first 2 weeks of launching.  These products speak for themselves and they have the potential to change the industry and educate consumers about what they're currently buying. 'The Ordinary' isn't such a fitting name, given how fabulous these products are. 

The founder of Deciem, Brandon Truaxe, is a guy that really believes in having good skin at an affordable price. This cool dude basically got sick of seeing overpriced products that really weren't that great from brands that didn't really have a clue. He truly believes in great skincare at an affordable price.. and him and his team are creating it for us everyday! 

To let you guys know why the Ordinary are so extra-ordinary, I'll explain. High street, and especially high end, skincare all centre themselves around a set of 'hero' ingredients. These are usually ingredients like Retinoid (for anti-aging) or Hyaluronic Acid (for plumping and tackling dehydration). The thing is, these brands usually make out that these hero ingredients are some kind of amazing new innovation that will change your skin forever.. and then they slap a huge price ticket on it. Everyday we are bombarded by adverts, celebrity endorsement and new life changing 'ingredients' that will apparently make our wrinkles go away for £85, but it's just not necessary! 

That's what The Ordinary and Deciem are all about though: Not putting an £85 price label on something that doesn't cost the earth to produce and can be really very simple. That's the beauty of this company and their mission. Great skincare doesn't and never has had to cost the earth!
Deceit / The Ordinary UK Beauty Blogger Review Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid

Deceit / The Ordinary UK Beauty Blogger Review Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid

I've been using the Vitamin C Serum for around three months. It's a thicker-than-usual texture that feels slightly grainy when applied. I usually apply it when my face is still wet from the shower and it feels as though it soaks into the skin much easier! I have dry skin and have had no issues with this. Vitamin C is really, really great for your skin when you apply it topically. Although pictured in the traditional, first release dropper style bottle, the packaging has now changed to a squeezy-tube because of customer feedback. I think this suits the product better as sometimes the dropper does tend to get product over the sides of the glass bottle when you put the dropper back into the bottle as the formula is thick.

My results from the product? After 3 months, I've had no issues and my skin has adjusted well to the product. It's given my skin a boost of life and is improving fine lines. This product sinks into skin super quick and doesn't leave a sticky feeling.

Finding what you need on site is super easy as they have a guide to products and when they should ideally be used on site. You can see that right here!

Deceit / The Ordinary UK Beauty Blogger Review Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid dropper uv bottleOnto my real one true love - The £5.90 Hylaronic Acid! I apply a few drops of this in the AM and PM and it keeps my skin so supple and plump. This is a must-have for anyone worried about fine lines or just wanting a boost to the skin. I've noticed an improvement in my skin texture. You really don't need much of this product, and as pictured it's a nice clear, fragrance-free texture/scent so it's perfect for sensitive skin types too. It's a slightly thick, jelly like serum-y texture, it doesn't leave a sticky residue behind either.

Progress? My skin is clearer, as pictured. This photo isn't altered and I am wearing make-up, but my breakouts are far less frequent (I use Glycolic acid toner too - always have done) and my skin is even and hydrated. The moral of the story? Skincare has never had to cost £50 for a retinoid moisturiser or serum and Deciem challenge that. I'd really love to see a day and night-time moisturiser from the brand next, as I think that's something a lot of people struggle to find on the market for their skin type with so many confusing 'oils' or 'plant extracts' being added aka slapped onto the label to confuse consumers.

Natasha Kendall Instagram Blogger Beauty

Have you guys tried anything from Deciem/The Ordinary?
I'm dying to try the Glow Booster serum next from the sister brand Hylamide!

This post is not sponsored and I purchased these with my own money.

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Monday, 19 September 2016

SPECTRUM BRUSHES: Not Just A Pretty Instagram Picture!

I've been really curious about Spectrum ever since they hit the market and become a bit of a blogger fave. Their pastel pink branding always catches my eye but I've never thought to try them as I already own Zoeva brushes and thought 'do I really need that many brushes?' .. yes... Yes I do. Here is what I thought of them and how they hold up... For reference, I've had these brushes for around a month or so.
Spectrum Brushes Review. Spectrum Brushes 10-Piece Essentials set, Beauty Blogger UK Instagram PR Review,

The Price
Spectrum brushes are priced very well. You can get a complete eye set for around £30, which, generally speaking, is the cost of around one Mac brush. They are also sold separately with prices ranging from £4 to £10, so it's great if you just wanted to see if you like them and order one or two. They're sold on Beautybay, so you could even just add one to your next MUG order! (Shhh, I know you all do one every week like me!). In comparison to brands such as Zoeva and Mac, these are really a good beginner set if you're new to doing your make-up or just on a budget. Other brands can definitely be a little pricier if you're looking for the entire eye or face sets, but at £30 for a complete eye set or £40 for the mixed set pictured.. it's a good starting point.

The 10 Piece Essentials Set (Pictured) contains..
B01 Flat Top Buffer (£9) 7/10
A01 Large Domed Powder (£9) 10/10
A05 Small Angled Blush (£7) 9/10
B03 Buffing Concealer (£5) 7/10
A06 Large Fluffy Shader (£5) 8/10
B06 Tall Tapered Blender (£5) 6/10
B04 Small Angled Blender (£4) 8/10
A09 – Angled Eyeliner (£5) 3/10
A17 Angled Brow (£4) 9/10
A15 Lip Liner (£4) 3/10

Spectrum Synthetic, cruelty free, vegan brushes, bristles close up

Worth it?
The brushes are 100% synthetic, which makes them ultra soft. This is something people seem to either love or hate from what I've seen, but I've personally used synthetic brushes before and don't mind the fluffy feel of them. I do like the slight scratchiness (not literally) from my well washed Zoeva eye brushes, but I can work the eyeshadow into my crease just as well with these. I must say, I really loved the BO1 Flat Top Buffer Brush. I usually hate using a brush for my make-up, but this was easy to use and I got a similar finish to my beauty blender, which I loved! I also loved the 'mini version' of this brush, the BO3 Buffing Concealer Brush. I used this for both concealer and eyeshadow and loved the quick, seamless finish it gave.

Some of the brushes are quite dense, and that can make them a little hard to wash. I found that I really had to scrub at the buffing brush to get the foundation out of it, which led to some shedding and hairs falling out. I'm not sure how it'll cope being washed over and over so harshly, but it dried okay and I think it may just require a little soak beforehand. The others were all totally fine.. I actually had the same issue with my Zoeva Buffer Brush before, so I think it could be a thing with buffing brushes. (We don't get along.)

I really love the set so far and I do find myself reaching for them all the time, which is great. The AO1 Powder Brush and CO4 Angled Powder Brush are my favourite so far to use. They are so super soft that they distribute just the right amount of product, avoiding the dreaded cake face! I love the angled brush for creating a subtle powder contour as I can really take my time and build up the colour very softly without going overboard! The eye brushes are good too and work very well with Colourpop eyeshadows. The synthetic hairs mean that Colourpop's weird cream/powder at the same time kinda formula blends like a dream! I love using them for blending out a transition colour as it's so quick because of the density. My favourites? The brow brush for sure. I've been loving this for my pomade to create a quick, thick line at the end of my brow, whilst using my Zoeva brow liner for the inner part.

I wish the 10 piece collection was more varied. There are three 'little' brushes included, one being a winged eyeliner/eyebrow pomade type brush which I quite like using for my brows.. but the one I hate is the A09 Winged Eyeliner Brush. This is way too thick to be an eyeliner brush so I'm kind of wondering what to use it for and it hasn't really been used for anything yet except smudging some eyeshadow underneath my eye. Same with the A15, the lip brush. I just don't use lip brushes and this is too small and pointless to use for anything else, so it again, sits pretty abandoned.

Overall, I've seen both good and bad things written, but my own opinion is that these are very good brushes and I would for sure purchase these in the future if they hold up. The face brushes were my favourite and if you want to try out the brand, go for those first as they are quite sturdy and good quality. As always, I do recommend buying one or two to test out for yourselves. These aren't expensive so they aren't a major loss if they don't work for you either.

I do appreciate the fact that these are synthetic brushes: great for the vegans out there as they're 100% cruelty free, which can be hard to find in a make-up brush that delivers great quality at the same time!

What do you think? Do you own any Spectrum Brushes?

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*PR sample

Thursday, 15 September 2016

LVL LASHES REVIEW: Before And Afters and My Thoughts!

LVL Lashes are finally becoming a bigger thing. I remember watching Lisa Elridge's video a while ago about them and realised how old it was! This treatment has been around for a long while, but (shock) it has just come under the spotlight since larger bloggers such as In The Frow have vlogged about their experiences, prompting people to go out and seek it! (YAY) I was really excited to be offered the treatment from Nouveau, as I love the brand. They are kind of like the standard you expect at all times from a technician and a great way to vet whether or not someone is worth going to. Their salon finder is a brilliant way to make sure whoever you want to visit for your treatments is actually registered with them (as LVL was created by Nouveau) and has had relevant training: which is very important if someone is going near your eyes.
Left: Before LVL
Right: After LVL, 2/3 weeks later wearing mascara - what a difference! 

The Treatment
Obviously as with any lash treatment, I went for a patch test first, around a week or so before my appointment. On the day of my appointment I went make-up free to the salon. You can wear make-up (not eye make-up) but it was just easier for me to go with nothing on and it makes it easier and fuss-free for whoever is doing it too. I was really excited as I have the most boring straight and stubby lashes ever.. or so I thought. You basically lie down on a bed for 45 minutes with your eyes shut as the technician applies the product. (Honestly, I have no idea what they do as my eyes were closed the entire time (obvs) but Nishi has a really good video of getting hers done.) It's quite a quick process, but feels like a long time as you're sitting there unable to scroll through Twitter or read a magazine!

It's not painful at all. It just feels a bit weird as your bottom eyelashes are stuck down with a pad, similar to when you get eyelash extensions. The top lashes are brushed over this little soft plastic shield with different solutions throughout the treatment. You're matched to the little shield, which is what your lashes are combed onto to apply the solutions and they hold that shape. There are three sizes of 'lift' and I went for the smallest shield, which gives the biggest curl/lift and most volume in the lashes. Your technician will discuss with you which would look best for you though, so you're not left in the dark while choosing! Your lashes also get tinted which is amazing as it really allows you to see the ends of your lashes and enhances the treatment by miles (I'm pretty sure I thought my lashes were super short, but they had just been bleached by the sun at the ends!)

During the 45 minutes (give or take) your technician will:

1. Cleanse the eyes/surrounding area.
2. Apply protective pads and the shield.
3. Brush eyelashes back onto the guard and apply the lifting balm. The balm breaks down the bonds of the lashes, enabling them to be restructured into a new shape.
4. Apply the 'volumising fix'. This repairs the broken bonds to fix and secures the lashes.
5. Tint your lashes.
6. Apply a moisturising serum to cleanse the lashes of any sticky residue left from the lifting balm, volumising fix or tint. It also nourishes the lashes with natural oils and essential moisture.

Straight after your treatment you may feel as though your lashes look kind of like you've stepped out the shower (all stuck together and 'wet' looking) as a lot of pictures do look like when they have been taken straight after. This doesn't last long and once you have showered, this goes away and your eyelashes return to a 'normal' looking state! The aftercare is quite simple, you can't get your lashes wet for 24 hours and then you're good to go... For 2 days after LVL, they recommend not to steam your face, use a steam room, swim or wash your face with hot water. Pretty simple really! I left my lashes or longer than 24 hours as I had washed my hair the morning before getting it done and that night just had a cool shower so no steam rose up onto my lashes and affected them. The longer you can leave your lashes un-touched after the treatment, the better!

I was sent home with a lash serum to apply each morning/evening (I added this to my after shower evening routine) It's a conditioner that keeps your lashes healthy and strong. I have definitely noticed a difference in how many of my lashes fall out since using this, however that could just be because I'm being more careful with my lashes to make the LVL treatment last. Either way, it's never a bad thing to add it to your routine and it keeps the lashes separated and moisturised.

Do they last? 
LVL lashes are your natural lashes. There aren't any extensions to gradually fall out or need removal, so it's a pretty low maintenance treatment. LVL gradually 'fades away' along with our natural lash cycle. So as we naturally loose eyelashes, the treatment goes along with it and the new lashes grow through as your normal, pre-treatment lashes. Our natural cycles can differ, but it's generally anywhere between a month and three months for some people. I don't scrub at my eyes at all so my lashes might last longer than someone that uses a baby wipe to remove their mascara (hopefully that makes sense!)

In London, this treatment costs around £25-30, which is an affordable treat. Here in Cambridge, and many of the smaller towns and cities where LVL isn't as accessible or popular, it is upwards of around £50. This really frustrates me, as that is pretty much the same price as eyelash extensions. I mean even Mink lashes are around £70-80. Why is LVL so much? I love the subtle look in comparison to extensions, but is the result too subtle for the price you pay? At around £35-40 or so, this could be a nice treat like acrylic nails or shellac, but for the steep fee it's currently at in many cities, It's one of those things that can put people off.

Edit: The average UK pricing for LVL, should be (according to Nouveau themselves) around £50.

Other than that point about price, I adore the treatment and I would most likely have it done again! I did really love the end result as I don't think eyelash extensions are for me (they are very expensive to upkeep with all the removal in the salon etc) This is also such a fuss-free treatment and amazing way of giving your natural lashes a boost. If you don't fancy the upkeep and potential damage of extensions, give LVL a shot!

Have you ever had LVL? Let me know your thoughts on the B&A photo! 

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