December has clearly been a busy month of product trialling for me, if my extensive list is anything to go by. I’ve been at home in London for the majority of the month (rather than at University in Bournemouth) which has been really lovely – as usually I’m going back and forth between homes and lose track of what bits I’ve been using. The products I’ve been loving recently are a mix of make-up, skincare and haircare – all with a focus on creating a hydrating, dewy look which is often difficult to achieve in the Winter months, where everything seems to be dried out and dull.
As the New Year approaches and my last sight of sun is nearing 4 months ago, any remnants of a tan are beginning to fade away completely. Oh how I love Winter. However, keen to bare my legs (bravely) for the festive season, in among various Christmas celebrations, I’ve been experimenting with a number of different tanning products – in a bid to create something that doesn’t look like I’ve obviously fake tanned but simply generating a natural ‘glow’. Along the way I came across Madame LA LA in the ‘light’ version, which is an instant bronzing mousse with a super hydrating formula (the coco water and aloe ingredients help with this aspect – and also make it smell lovely).
It’s so easy to apply, with zero streaks (hooray) and naturally fades rather than discovering those horrible orange patches several days on. It’s not the darkest tan I’ve ever had, but I think for Winter – it looks far more natural if you step it down a few notches and opt for the light edition. It usually takes around 3 hours to develop properly, although I tend to tan the night before and shower it off in the morning for optimal use. I top it up every couple of days however I’d say it lasts a good week or so without fading, which is a bonus! A fabulous product for a year-round natural tan!
When it comes to Christmassy scents, The Body Shop get it right every single year. In 2014, I treated myself to their entire Vanilla Brûlée range, which left your body smelling like a dessert (always desirable in my opinion) and so this year, I was excited to see what fragrances they would come up with next. Rather than going the whole hog and splashing out on EVERYTHING, I decided to try a product that I hadn’t before – which happened to be their new bath fizzers. When I saw that they came in the festive ‘Frosted Plum flavour’, my mind was made up.
I ran a bath and excitedly popped one in, fixated as it fizzed away dutifully and turned my bath a lovely shade of lavender. The smell of Christmas plums (a little like mulled wine but less citrusy) filled the air. I even popped another one in because I get carried away with these things. Ever since, I’ve found myself eager to run another bath just to bask in the scent. Do you ever get this? Definitely worth a try if you’re a bath lover!
So the name of this product might be a bit of a mouthful, but it’s a good one nevertheless! I have such trouble with creating (and maintaining) volume in my hair. I think I’ve just been blessed with naturally flat hair that doesn’t want to behave – and although I love the fact that it doesn’t ‘frizz’ up at the top necessarily, there have been occasions (like a New Years/Christmas party) where I’ve wanted to do something different and create some sort of volume.
This powder is a bit like dry shampoo in the sense that it texturizes the roots of your hair and makes it easy to create volume and style. You simply shake a small amount into the palm of your hand and rub together. The powder (rather magically) disappears but you can still feel it on your hands. You then distribute it into dry hair (mainly the roots) and straight away, volume appears (it helps if you scrunch up the roots while distributing). I love it – not necessarily for everyday use but it’s great for a party or special occasion when you’re fed up with the same old look!
I felt like all my Christmasses had come at once when eyeko, who are an all-time-favourite of mine, sent me a very generous hamper filled with all of their staple products. A strong contender in the beauty world (and favoured by Alexa Chung, who they’ve recently worked with) – they offer a whole host of brow and lash reviving products, tailored towards maintaining and styling. I have quite sensitive brows and eyes, which can get dry and irritated if I use anything with strong fragrances or harsh chemicals – so when I find a brand that doesn’t generate this reaction, I stick to them. Eyeko happens to be one of these.
I have been trialling the Black Magic Mascara Drama & Curl, the Eye Make-Up Remover Wipes, the Black Magic Liquid Eyeliner, the Brow Magic Brow Boost, the Liquid Brow Liner, the Waterproof Shadow Liner and the Brow Gel. Out of the above, one favourite that stood out for me was the Magic Brow Boost, which I can liken to the product I’ve previously stuck to for my brows – Gimme Brow by Benefit. Essentially it contains thousands of brush-on fibres and plant-based extracts aimed at plumping up brows (and filling in any pesky gaps) and promote growth. It thickens even the sparest of brows with a light-medium colour and works together to create brows you never even knew you had. I love that it’s less liquid-based in comparison to Gimme Brow, as I tended to find that this meant I’d have one eyebrow darker than the other (as you can get quite brow-happy).
I also absolutely love the Mascara Off Eye Make-Up Remover Wipes, which have helped me immensely in ensuring that the skin around my eyes and brows hasn’t dried out over the Christmas period. With olive oil and aloe extract, it soothes skin, as well as getting rid of even the most stubborn of eye liners and mascaras. I usually take my foundation off with cotton pads and cleanser, so having something specific for the eyes has made this process so much easier (especially when you’re exhausted anyway). If you find yourself waking up with panda eyes most mornings (even after your best attempt at removal), I’d give these a whirl instead.
Staying true to its name, I love how fresh this range is – with clean, subtle scents and natural formulas – banishing skin irritation and dryness. The Rose Hydrating Face Serum has been a lifesaver for me this month, as I’ve chucked it in my overnight bag when I’ve been travelling and not had to worry about dull, dry skin while on the move. It does come out quite liquid-y (technical term, obviously) but I find this helps in ensuring it melts into my skin quickly and provides an instant smooth base for quick make-up application. Ingredient wise, I noticed there was lists of flower waters and oils, which I do find really helpful hydration wise – so it looks to be a good option if you’re suffering from the winter playing havoc with your skin.
I’ve also been trialling their fabulous Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Treatment (with SPF 15) which is incredible. I find Vaseline to be quite drying (even if it hydrates initially) and so I’ve been on the lookout for a better option. The Sugar Rose not only smells 100 times better (of sugar/rose – if I’m honest) but it’s far softer on your lips and creates a very subtle pink tint, which is great if you don’t have time for lipstick but want to add something different to your make-up look. I still found that my lips were hydrating 1-2 hours after using it and I didn’t feel the need to continuously re-apply it, which was refreshing. Plus, the handy size means you can take it with you anywhere. What more could you want?
When I first began trialling this product, I didn’t actually think there was a real need for it. You don’t really think too much about the state of your eyelids (unless there’s already a problem there), nor do you consider protecting them. However when looking at the bigger picture – and how much you pop onto such delicate skin (and then scrub it off), it becomes increasingly more evident that a bit of care is needed. I’ve never until now moisturised my eyelids, but then this might have been why the skin in that area was looking so dull.
Benefit, as the first brand on most scenes, are one step ahead of the game with the Air Patrol BB Cream for your lids, with an SPF 20 and EnviroDefend Complex which guards your skin from sun, smoke and pollutants. Applied with a cushioned tip, the primer has an immediate soothing effect upon application which soon becomes apparent, relieving any dryness (which you may not have realised was dryness) and extending the wear of your eyeshadow. It’s a fabulous product for the winter and it really nourishes the area that we all forget to take care of.
Laura Mercier has been a firm favourite make-up brand of mine for quite some time now. I swear by their mascara (it’s the best thing ever and I’m 99% sure that my lashes have doubled in size since using it – true story) and although the range itself is on the pricier side of things, I honestly believe it’s totally worth investing. High end make-up (sorry to say it) is more often than not higher quality, with a more flawless finish and so I do make allowances to treat myself occasionally. This month, I’ve been trialling the Tinted Moisturiser (in Bare Radiance) and two Lip Parfaits – all of which I absolutely love.
The Moisturiser especially is something I didn’t think I’d be keen on, as I tend to prefer more coverage than they can provide – particularly in Winter, however it was thicker than I had expected and rather than producing just a smidge of colour, it actually blurred my imperfections (and red cheeks) and created a more illuminated, dewy glow – thanks to the shimmery pigments! It smells really fresh and gets you ready for the day even on the coldest and darkest of mornings (oh summer, please hurry up). I haven’t swapped my foundation for it completely, but when I haven’t had an event on – I’ve been popping it on to run errands during the day, rather than having to pile on the thicker stuff – which is a real breath of fresh air!
The Lip Parfaits speak for themselves in terms of how beautiful the colours are. Tutti Frutti is quite a dark (yet nude) shade with a 90’s vibe while Juicy Papaya is more of an orangey red. Both gorgeous but for different occasions. Consistency wise, they are quite creamy when applied but dry to a glossy finish – which I love. They don’t dry your lips out (thank goodness) and the pigmented colours last several hours before fading – even if you happen to be testing this theory by sipping cocktails – purely for research purposes of course…
Batiste is probably most known for its dry shampoo products – which I have to say, are the best on the market. However, housed in the same style bottles are the brands new products – the ‘OOMPH MY LOCKS XXL Volume Spray’ and the ‘Sexy Hair Texturizing Spray’ – which both intrigued and scared me. I’m quite wary about what I put into my hair because I’ve had some mishaps in the past. Including one product which made my scalp burn and my hair frazzle when I straightened it. I will say no more. Luckily neither of these things happened when trialling these two new products, in fact – it was quite the opposite.
My favourite out of the two was definitely the OOMPH MY LOCKS Spray, which certainly lived upto its claim of providing some much needed ‘oomph’ to my hair. I spritzed it on after a blow dry and shook my hair upside down – half expecting to flick it back and experience the worrying ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ look, but instead was greeted by far more volumised roots. It’s a quick fix – perfect for a night out and it smells far better than a traditional hairspray (and works far better at creating volume). I personally think it has a place at every girl’s dressing table. Once again, Batiste has come to our hair emergency rescue!
Renowned in the beauty domain for being the skincare experts, Dermalogica have always been a go-to of mine if a skincare worry has flared up. In recent years, I’ve suffered quite severely with dryness – caused (I think) by long-term antibiotics which were used to treat acne rosacea (which as it turns out, I didn’t have). This lotion is specifically aimed at the dryness associated with prescription acne medications and looks to calm, soothe and moisturise dehydrated skin. It’s very gentle and won’t cause irritation but it works very well to get underneath the pores and hydrate from within.
Initially upon application, I didn’t know whether this would be any good for me because it felt very thin (it’s quite watery and I tend to find thicker products work better) however I’m glad I gave it the benefit of the doubt because it started working from the first go. I now apply a thicker layer before I go to bed (it’s a great overnight healer) and then a thin layer underneath my foundation for a great base (and no flakiness after a few hours). This is a great option if you suffer from combined break-outs and dry skin, because it won’t clog your pores and it’s very lightweight!
Immediately my back goes up when a product claims to do more than 1 thing, because I like to think that each individual product has it’s speciality which you can pick and choose as and when. However, when you’re in a rush (which is quite frequently in my case) and need a bit of everything, these products come into their own and you discover that they were telling the truth after all. The Richard Ward Argan 10-in-1 is my latest multi-tasking discovery, with alea leaf and argan extract. It plumpifies, volumises, bodifies, conditions, heat protects, repairs, detangles, de-frizzes, holds and smooths. Phew!
I find a few spritzes before you start blow-drying does the trick as the overall finish is much sleeker, with less flyaway hairs and a bit more body. The ends of my hair feel very moisturised after using it, especially if you’ve been a bit too overzealous with the hair wand over the festive period – and I love the sweet yet subtle scent. If you need one staple hair product for those mornings when you DON’T EVEN HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO SPARE, then this is your best option.
Again, when it comes to baring your legs over the Christmas period, it all gets a bit nerve wracking (when they’ve been hidden under tights for months) so any pick-me-up products specifically for your pins have been on my main agenda. The Shimmer Leg Fix has been a go-to of mine, simply because it’s so super easy to use (and you can slap it on within a couple of minutes) but it instantly boosts your natural colour and illuminates the skin, giving it a subtle glow. It’s ultra moisturising, banishing any dryness within a matter of seconds (I do like a quick working product) and it smells incredible with rose and ginger extract fragrances. There’s not much else I can say other than it works and it’s fab. If you hate baring your legs during Winter (but hate the thought of tights), this is one for you.
And finally, one I’m super excited to share with you – mainly because it’s so unique – a Revolutionary Thermal Hair Conditioning Cap. When I first opened it up, I laughed because I could only imagine what it would look like on my head. It’s essentially a cap (a cross between a shower cap and a bag) that you heat up for two minutes in the microwave and then use to speed up the effects of your favourite conditioning treatment. However I soon couldn’t wait to get stuck in with testing it out.
It’s been known for years that wearing a towel over your head while using your conditioning masque can improve the after-effects however this is one step ahead, with the heat speeding things up and leaving you with noticeably softer, sleeker results straight away. I do love a good transformation!
I’ve now used this a couple of times, with the conditioning treatment that comes within the pack. I did feel slightly silly popping it on my head but after a short while I got used to it and decided to make the most of the treatment by pampering myself (it does make you feel slightly more ‘spa like’). After five minutes, I washed it out to reveal de-tangled, softer and shiner locks which blow-dried far better than I could have imagined. You’ll have to try and spot on my Instagram where you think I’ve used it!
Do you have any beauty favourites that you’ve been loving this month? I’d love to hear your recommendations!