I love that this monthly feature gives me the excuse to try out so many new beauty products (without feeling guilty). Over the last 30 days, I’ve tried and tested a rather vast array of skincare items, make-up additions and hair products – all in the name of finding some new favourites. Usually, I find a couple that I incorporate into my regular routine – however this month, I couldn’t narrow it down, as I loved lots of different items for different reasons. So, here’s my round up…
Seventeen is such an affordable cosmetic range and they’ve always been my go-to for inexpensive, yet quality items. Their eye-liner has to be one of the best as easy to use for creating the perfect flick, it’s inky black, hardly smudges and it lasts all day. However they’ve recently made some new additions to their range – many of which I hadn’t yet had the chance to give a go, so this month – I made it a priority to test out some of their hero items – which I’ve seen doing the rounds in the blogosphere. First up was the Define & Conquer Contour kit – a fabulous product, with an equally fabulous name. I usually use the NARS palette to contour with, however I find it to be quite limited – especially in terms of the highlighter, which can be a bit one dimensional. This nifty kit (despite testing my strength at the beginning, as it took me a good five minutes to get into the packaging) features two beautifully pigmented colours, for easy every day contouring. The lighter of the two isn’t too shimmery and it easily blends to create the perfect highlight. Plus, the packaging is chic and fits neatly into your handbag without any persuasion.
Another palette from them that I’ve been loving is the ‘Easy On The Eye’ – The Big Smoke, which is a collection of 8 matte, shimmer and pearl powders, 3 metallic creams and 1 eye primer. Basically, it contains everything you need for the perfect smokey eye. There are enough colours in there to take it on holiday and still create a variety of different looks for different occasions, so it’s a great all-rounder. There is plenty of pigmentation in each of the shades to make your eye colour pop, but they’re all subtle enough to be accessible and wearable on a daily basis.
Priming my skin has been even more so important in recent months, as I’ve suffered dryness, redness and general dullness (thanks Winter) so I’ve constantly been on the lookout for one that gives my skin a boost under foundation (and helps prolong general wear). The Wow 3 Way Highlighter is a great little pick me up, which I’ve taken to mixing in with my foundation for a natural dewy glow. It has a very subtle shimmer in it, which seems to enhance the appearance of my make-up – and ensure it stays put!
I’m pretty sure I featured Chill Haircare in one of my recent monthly favourites – but here they are popping up once again! For those of you who have never heard of the brand, it’s a professional salon haircare specialist which is now being opened up to the online market (and with masses of interest). They specialise in the reconstruction of dry and damaged hair (which is me unfortunately – many thanks to highlighting and straightening) and prolonging colour, so they have individualised ranges depending on your shade. I personally love the blonde shampoo, which tones down brassy and yellow tones (you know the ones that start appearing a few weeks after your highlights) and generally brightens things up. I then switch this up, either with the corresponding conditioner or the reconstructing conditioner (yellow bottle) which injects hair with a moisture boost and leaves it feeling super soft.
Nothing can mend split ends (once they’re gone, they’re gone) but if you want to ensure that your most recent cut lasts as long as possible without those frayed ends returning, the reconstructing treatment is one you’ll want to try. You leave it on for five minutes (wrap a towel round your head while it’s working, as this will assist) before rinsing off and blow drying. It smells incredible – with a sweet, yet subtle honey aroma, and leaves your locks super soft. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
I think this range is predominantly an anti-aging one, however I find it’s amazing for hydration and giving winter-dull skin a boost in radiance. DHC as a brand itself is Japanese (renowned for their skincare) and so offers some incredible solutions. I suffer from really red dry patches on occasions – and I’ve been using some of DHC’s products to soothe and hydrate. My hero product is definitely the Beauty Lift Milk, which you smooth over your face after cleansing and leave to sink in. It applies as a cool, silky gel – so instantly gets to work softening the area and relieving any redness. It doesn’t really have a scent, which I quite like – as it’s unobtrusive and a great option for everyday – especially if you, like me, can react to highly fragranced products. The Beauty Lift Cream is great for toning your face and creating a smooth, soft base before foundation while the Beauty Lift Essence is an amazing overnight option if you want to wake up feeling refreshed – with all those dry patches banished for a full 24 hours.
The Lotion was more of a toner – and I didn’t find it spectacular at removing make-up, however once all your foundation has been removed, if you dab some of this onto a cotton wool pad and wipe over your face, it removes any remaining impurities and leaves behind the best basis for applying moisturiser. Overall, this is a really good option to try if you’re looking either for an anti-aging range or a hydration boosting solution!
L’Oreal Boost It Volume Mousse | link
I visited L’Oreal at their pop-up shop over London Fashion Week and picked up a sample of their new Boost It Mousse. In a large loud yellow, black and purple bottle – it seemed like an exciting product to try, yet slightly intimidating too – as I’m a bit afraid of anything that could potentially make my freshly washed hair greasy again (you wouldn’t believe how quickly mine goes greasy). Plus mousse is too often associated with creating crispy, wet looking curls, so we don’t often think about incorporating it into a routine for volume purposes. Anyway, I gave this a go a few weeks ago and was massively impressed.
You only need a very tiny amount, but you simply spread a ball of it through the roots of damp hair – scrunching it at the parts you want to achieve the most volume, before blow drying. It holds superbly and doesn’t add any kind of greasiness or crispiness. It lasts all day (and beyond actually) and I really enjoyed not having flat hair, for once in my life! Even if you wanted to leave your hair to dry naturally, this is still amazing at giving it a bit of lift and boost. Definitely worth a try if volume is usually an issue for you – if it works for me, I’m pretty sure it will work for anyone!
I will be honest here and say that when it comes to perfumes, packaging is a major deciding factor of whether I’ll buy it. I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and all (and trust me, I have some fab perfumes which don’t look all pretty and chic) but there’s something so rewarding about laying out all your snazzy fragrance bottles on your dressing table. I don’t even think anyone but me actually looks at them, but you know, it’s the thought that counts. Anyway, one such perfume that hits both ‘perfume’ criteria – i.e.: it smells AND looks good, is this little snazzy number. Chloe have a reputation for creating gorgeous feminine fragrances, getting just the right amount of sweet, floral and musky notes. They’re a special occasion perfume with a delicate lingering scent.
Their new ‘Love Story’ addition is no different, again offering a gorgeous dressing-table-worthy bottle and a sweet floral scent. I’m not very good at detecting individual notes but apparently, the main scents include cedar wood, orange blossom and jasmine, so as you can probably imagine, it’s very girly and quite ‘clean’. It’s probably not something I’d spritz on everyday, as admittedly it is quite heavy and it doesn’t really tone down all that much (it lingers in quite a strong way) however as an evening fragrance, it really offers something memorable.
Mark Hill Big & Bouncy Hot Air Styler | link
Flat hair has plagued me for almost my entire existence. Although I know fine hair tends to be pretty limp, it seems to be the case that no matter what product I use in my hair (bar one, by Mark Hill – which I tested out at Fashion Week at The Apartment), it remains stuck to my head. Which is just fabulous. The only way of getting around this is to use hair styling tools – and even this can prove a challenge at times. However, along came the Big & Bouncy Hot Air Styler and everything changed. It’s priced at just under forty pounds, which is pretty good for a hair electrical product – and it promises big, bouncy blow dry results, every time. You pick a brush size (depending on how much volume you want to create) and let the hot air blow dry your hair while the brush bristle spins. Admittedly, it does take a bit of getting used to – I got a bit carried away and ended up slightly tangled, however it’s very easy to rectify and within minutes, you’re back on your way to creating the perfect blow dry!
It pretty much takes the same amount of time as a normal hair dryer, so it doesn’t add anything onto your getting ready slot – however I would recommend sealing everything with a quick blast of the cool setting on a normal device, as it means what you’ve produced holds nicely (without that crispiness that hairspray gives). Well worth a try if you, like me, are a flat hair sufferer!
Urban Veda Reviving Facial Polish | link
I love Urban Veda for all things skin related (some of my favourite must-haves are from their range) however this month, I discovered a new product which I’ve been using religiously to buff away at dry skin. I suffer from hyperkeratosis on my face (which I’m sure is something I’ve mentioned before), so I have to make sure I don’t let dry skin build up – and similarly, I can’t let my skin dry out – as both create havoc and leave it in a not-even-foundation-can-save-it-now-state. With natural botanical extracts, this product gently removes dead cells and stimulates circulation, without stripping your skin of its natural oils. It’s very hydrating and nourishing (so doesn’t leave you with that tight, dry sensation after exfoliating) and smells incredible (kind of like a cocktail, which sounds odd – but makes for quite a nice change in the shower).
Jo Malone has always been a favourite of mine, especially when it comes to gifting friends and family – however only this month have I really got the chance to try a bottle out for myself (without sniffing on behalf of someone else). Going into the shop is always an experience in itself, because they are so gorgeous (and not to mention, Instagram ready) but with such an array of scents on show, it’s often difficult to choose just one. I had a meeting with the wonderful Holly at Jo Malone back in February and she kindly gave me the Mimosa & Cardmom cologne to take home and try out for myself. It was a real treat to be able to display this on my dressing table because there’s something so classic about the bottle – but similarly, it smells incredible. Unlike anything else on the fragrance market, the scent is a really warm musky mix – perfect for everyday wear. I usually tend to go for sweeter scents, but it made a nice change to try something a little more grown up – and it almost made me feel more confident when attending meetings, as I knew it was a step away from the more ‘girly’ ones I opt for. I know that’s a bit of an odd concept, but fragrances are probably more important than we think. Catching a whiff of a fragrance that reminds us of a particular holiday, boyfriend or friend can bring back a memory almost instantly – and it can really have an affect on our mood.
Jo Malone have also recently launched their new ‘Herb Garden’ collection, which is another unique range of incredible scents perfect for the upcoming summer season. My favourite was probably the Carrot Blossom & Fennel, however others include the Wild Strawberry & Parsley, Lavender & Coriander, Sorrel & Lemon Thyme and Nasturtium & Clover. I love how different they are to anything else out there – and while we might associate herbs with older generations, they are really classy, gorgeous scents for everyday wear – offering something slightly quirkier than your traditional ‘flavours’. They’re definitely worth a sniff when you’re next headed to your local Jo Malone!
I visited The Weavers Spa at the Swan Hotel in Lavenham last month (post here) – and was introduced to Temple Spa products, as they used them during my massage. I was massively impressed by how incredible and varied the range was, catering for skin conditions (like my forever dry skin) and relaxation assistance products (complete with a gorgeous spa scent). They got in touch after I left and enquired if I’d like to try some products, so I sent off the list that my therapist had recommended. First off, was the AAAAHH! Soothing Balm for Aching Feet & Limbs, which instantly took away the dull ache in my shoulder that seems to come on every couple of weeks (initially damaged because I tried – and failed – to do a press up two years ago, it’s still hurting now). It’s a cooling gel which not only smells incredible but gets to work as a kind of muscle relaxant. It’s easily absorbed and doesn’t hang about greasily (so you can pop it on and then get dressed) and it also reduces puffiness in legs and feet. A miracle product that is well worth a try if you suffer from aches and pains frequently.
Another impressive product was the Double Cream Hydrating Moisturiser, which I was initially sceptical about because it smelt so good (and normally I can’t use anything with a scent). It comes with a little plastic scoop, which is super handy because you can use it to get the right amount for usage on your face, without any wastage. It instantly soothes and cools even the most irritated and red of skin types (trust me, mine really puts it to the test) and banishes any dry itchy patches. The hydration lasts all day (even under make-up) and the avocado extract addition means that it has a super soft feel on the skin. A new favourite for sure!
Primer’s are only a recent discovery of mine, but boy – do they make a difference (I wish I’d realised this sooner). Long gone are the days of my face melting off in the sweltering heat of the tube or flaking off due to dryness (I suppose I have my new moisturisers to thank for that also, but still). It’s a life saver and helps massively to prolong the wear of your make-up, taking you through from day to night seamlessly. The Hylamide HA Blur is labelled as a ‘finisher’ but I’ve found it amazing at priming (I think they might be the same thing), as it blurs any pores and hydrates, before you pop on your concealer and foundation. It’s fragrance free, which is handy for my super sensitive skin – but it aims to top up your moisturiser (even acting as a moisturiser itself if you have normal/combination skin – cutting the application process shorter, always a bonus). You can also apply it over your foundation, if you want a bit of extra ‘finish’ – however I have been finding it works amazingly under foundation for a flawless result.
The Hylamide ‘Finisher Series’ has a rather exciting range of products if you’re aiming for that ‘HD’ look, with a ‘Photography Foundation’ (which again blurs pores with a bit more coverage and comes in a transparent shade if required, so that it looks very natural) and a ‘Photoblur’ primer. Usually I find the marketing on these to be more snazzy than the actual product itself, however I was massively impressed by the Hylamide Blur (which also plumps skin and softens) so I might have to give the above a go!
Montibello Keratin Force | link
When it comes to hair, I’m always looking for the next miracle product to re-inject moisture back into my somewhat dry locks. Although I do have my favourite regular contenders (such as Phillip Kingsley and Aussie), I do find that mixing it up a bit with new products helps to keep things fresh and ticking over. This month’s winners were the Montibello Keratain Force range, which uses a ‘biomimetic complex’ to restore the hair’s natural keratin. This essentially means that damaged and fragile hair is given a huge boost of moisture, without it feeling too artificial and making it even drier in the long run. The mask was probably the most effective for me – and I’ve even taken to using this as a standalone conditioner, as it works so well at replenishing a soft, silky texture. It smells gorgeous (a cross between a spa and a bit pot of honey) and you only need to leave it on for a couple of minutes for it to get to work and you see a difference. A bit of a bonus too, if you find yourself with dry roots – is that you can work this through the scalp, tips and roots to moisturise, without being left with any greasy residue.
The instant power mini bottles (one per use) is also amazing at giving hair a much needed boost, especially when you’re finding it hard to brush through after a shower – or really straw like on the ends. You simply apply to clean, towel-dried hair, spreading on evenly, before popping a wrap of cling film (or a towel) over the top to warm it up. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and then rinse. My hair never felt silkier or looked shinier than the first time I gave this a try – and I’d definitely recommend it as an option for special occasions and hair recovery, as it massively improves elasticity and prevents split ends!
The DKNY Be Delicious fragrance range is pretty iconic and probably most recognisable by its unique apple shaped bottle. I remember pining for a bottle of my own aged 13, after spritzing my mums before a party – and so it’s a really lovely memory of childhood for me whenever I catch a whiff. It’s quite a universal, classically sweet scent – perfect for both daywear and evening wear – and I know some of the variations on the original have also been very popular. I’m sure I’m not the only one who adores this fragrance a decade on from its initial launch – in fact, I can’t be – as they’ve recently announced an exciting update. Celebrating their long-lasting success, they have launched an 150ml version in Debenhams, housed in a ginormous bottle which now takes pride of place on my dressing table. This deserves a place in every woman’s beauty collection – and is a real classic in the fragrance market. I know it’s technically not a new discovery, but it’s always been a favourite of mine!
Do you have any beauty favourites this month – or any recommendations?