Superdrug Naturals Coconut & Sweet Almond Intensive Conditioner

Superdrug Naturals Coconut & Sweet Almond Intensive Conditioner (Can't find on website)

I was going to say that I've been on a bit of a spending ban but I'm not.. I'm just skint so can't physically buy anything even if I wanted to! However I came across this in Superdrug whilst in town with some friends who were all splashing out with their freshly received bursaries (no jealousy here!). It was priced at £1.49 which I decided wasn't going to break the bank and may satisfy my craving to buy things (for a couple of hours at least!). When I got to the till this actually scanned at 99p - even better!

I had previously read a few raving reviews on this stuff so I was quite excited to try it and whilst sceptical I did have fairly high hopes. I have used it a few times now and so am ready to give my verdict! I actually really like this stuff. The first time I used it in the shower, while it was on my hair I didn't feel like it was doing much. Even with normal conditioner you kind of expect your hair to instantly feel silky smooth while it has conditioner in it but I just wasn't getting that from this. However, I had made this mistake before with the John Frieda Deep Conditioner so I made sure I left it on for the full five minutes and didn't give up hope. 

Sure enough, when it came to the drying I could feel that my hair was feeling SO soft. It had a really nice shine to it and of course - smelt gorgeous! Since that first try I have used a comb to brush it through my hair in the shower (which it does actually tell you do to) and it has made a difference to the initial feeling of your hair before washing the conditioner out. 

I'm not actually sure how much this usually is as the shelf price made me think that it was already on offer as it had one of those 'now only £1.49' stickers or something like that, but as I said at the till it was actually 99p. I know from previous reviews that I have read that its not expensive anyway and it actually comes in a 375ml tub which I think is quite a lot! This is definitely comparable to the John Frieda Deep Conditioner which is what I have been using this in place of and at that price I'm not as weary of using it every time I wash my hair rather than once a week as I do with the John Frieda. I'm not saying this performs miracles but it is a really nice conditioner that leaves your hair soft and shiny and smelling gorgeous. Worth trying!

L'oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil

L'oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil is available in a version for all hair types and also in a version for coloured hair. I do dye my hair but only very occasionally (when I literally cannot leave it any longer) and so I opted for the version for all hair types. 

I really like how this comes in a glass bottle rather than plastic. I think it just makes a product feel much more expensive and luxurious. This is quite a large 100ml bottle so for £10 I think you are definately getting your moneys worth of both quantity and packaging. 

Extraordinary Oil is a 'precious blend of 6 flower extracts with nourishing properties for sumptuous softness and luxurious shine'. There are a few different ways that you can use this - before shampooing for luxurious nourishment, before styling to protect and transform your hair or after styling as a finishing touch for sumptiuous softness and luxurious shine. I tend to rub a couple of pumps through towel dried hair before blow drying then put not even half a pump through my styled hair just for that little bit of extra softness and also to tame fly-aways!

I've found that this is a very lightweight oil which is great for fine hair like mine, it doesn't weigh it down at all but still manages to work its magic. When I use it I notice a difference in how my hair dries - I have very 'boffy' hair (for want of a better word!) but this oil helps to tame it and it dries a lot sleeker. It also makes my hair feel lovely and soft and leaves it with a noticeable shine. As I said I also use literally the tiniest amount after styling just to tame any fly-aways and I find it really works for that too without adding any greasiness or heaviness to my hair. I really like how my hair styles when I use this, it feels weightless and 'whispy' which I love. I kind of wish it had more of a scent to it, it does have a very slight sweet scent but it's hardly noticeable at all which I find disappointing.  

I have in the past used Moroccan Oil, and if I was to compare, personally I prefer this simply for the weightlessness factor. In the future I would like to try the light version of Moroccan Oil as I did love the effect it had on my hair but in hindsight it really did weigh it down quite considerably.

Real Techniques Core Collection

I don't really know what make me decide I needed some make-up brushes after years of using mainly my fingers to apply foundation etc. but now I don't know how I was ever without them! If you haven't seen/heard about these brushes already then a) where on earth have you been? and b) you really need to know about them! 

The Core Collection consists of 4 different brushes, the buffing brush, contour brush, pointed foundation brush and the detailer brush. They all come in a case which you can turn into a stand for the brushes, which personally I don't really use but it's handy to have.

My favourite brush is the buffing brush. I have tried various brushes to apply foundation before and I always feel like I'm painting my face.. Not the look I am going for! It wasn't until I started seeing buffing brushes being used in make-up tutorials that I even knew they existed. I much prefer this type of brush to what is usually called a 'foundation brush' as I feel it gives a much more even coverage even with the smallest amount of foundation. I also feel that using a brush to apply foundation rather than my fingers is a lot more hygienic - which is arguable as I would always wash my hands before doing my make-up anyway and brushes can in-fact be really quite unhygienic if not cleaned regularly and properly. 

I also really like the contour brush, it is the perfect shape and size for getting into the hollows of your cheeks. Contouring in general was never really something I had bothered with before but now I can see the benefit of mimicking some sort of structure on my chubby cheeks!

I've not really found much use for the pointed foundation brush. As I mentioned I've never really been a fan of this style of brush although I am pretty sure I am probably using it in the wrong way. I'm yet to properly research how this brush should be used but to be honest I find it quite unnecessary. Maybe I should try it to apply concealer or something?

The detailer brush is perfect for use with eye shadow. It's teenie-tiny which is perfect for getting right into the corner of the eye. Like all the other brushes it is super-soft which makes it really nice to use. I resume this would also work well on the lips but I wouldn't want to get it all clogged up with gooey lip products!

Overall I think this is a great little set for someone, like me, who is new to the make-up brush world and doesn't really know where to start! This retails for £21.99 which works out about £5.50 a brush which I think is really good, especially for the buffing brush and the contour brush which I feel are both genius little things that I couldn't live without. 

Note - Victoria at VIPXO recently posted about an offer she had found on Real Techniques brushes. It involves getting this Core Collection, the Starter Set and also the Powder Brush for around £25. This is an amazing deal considered the Core Collection alone usually costs £22! Check it out here

That's the wreckage of broken dreams and burned out halos.

I'm having to travel back to uni tonight rather than tomorrow as I usually would because I'm going on a trip tomorrow (sigh!) so I thought I'd try out blogging from my phone. I don't really know how the layout works from here so if its not right I will have to sort it out when I get back to my flat.

I've had quite a busy couple of weeks as they go which has been exhausting but also really fun and exciting! As I've mentioned numerous times I've finished all this years coursework which is an unbelievable weight lifted from my shoulders! There's nothing worse than having 2/3/4,000 words hanging over your head constantly! Although I did (towards the end) discover the wonders of the library and will definitely be spending more time in there when it comes to my dissertation next year.

The lack of work has consequently left me even more free time (I'm hardly ever actually in uni.. It's quite ridiculous) and so what better way to fill it than some volunteer work! I applied for a position at a local zoo a few months ago and had almost forgotten about it until they invited me for an interview a few weeks ago. I was so excited but nervous because it is literally a dream of mine to work with animals and with doing a degree in biology, this would obviously be perfect and amazing on my C.V.! Anyway... I got it! I start on Friday and I'm so, SO excited! It's going to be very tiring, cold, grubby and smelly I can imagine but I am not (yet) phased in the slightest.

I also spent a night in a lodge in Anglesey with my boyfriend as my parents were staying there for the week. It was really cosy and there was a hot tub which, with the help of some funny Japanese(?) style hats to keep our heads dry in the rain, was really nice. It was just a shame we couldn't stay longer!

I've been trying to think of a way to make my blog a bit more personal as I feel the fact I don't do outfit posts kind of impacts on the 'getting to know me' part which I think is quite important. I would have liked to have been more original but I'm thinking a post like this every week or two might be the solution? I will see how it goes anywho!

I hope you all have a fabulous week! xxx

MUA Nail Polish

I've been trying a few nail polishes from two of MUA's ranges, the normal £1 range and also their Love Hearts range.

MUA Polishes Shade 1 and 'All Nude'

From their £1 range I've been trying and absolutely loving shade 1. It's a bluey-purpley-black with little tiny bits of glitter which make it lovely and shimmery. If this shade was to have a name rather than a number its perfect name would be starry night as it literally just reminds me of space and galaxies and things like that! It took a couple of coats to be opaque but I just love the effect it gives. I wore this with an O.P.I. topcoat and it lasted a good few days without chipping before I had to take it off for work. I haven't actually worn shade 'All Nude' as it is just a plain white polish which isn't something I would usually want to wear, but there have been a few times where I've wished I had a white polish so for £1 I thought I'd pick this up just so I have it. This also took 2/3 coats to be opaque but for a white polish that's what I'd expect. Both shades definitely worth their £1 price tag!

MUA's Love Hearts range is a collection of nail polishes and also lip balms, consisting of very girly colours ranging from pastels to brights. Shade 'U ROK' is a really nice pastel purple colour and 'U R FAB' is my favourite - I'd say it was a deep berry pink which I just think is gorgeous and really stands out. 'U ROK' took two coats for an opaque coverage and 'U R FAB' was fine with one coat but I applied two just out of habit if anything! Again I wore both of these with an O.P.I. topcoat and they both lasted for days without chipping. I was quite disappointed with the brushes on these, I don't know if I just got some dud bottles but the brushes were both really 'sticky-outy' and not sleek at all. One of them looked as if it had been put into the bottle awkwardly and so a part of the brush kind of sticks out where its moulded into that position. However they were still usable and for their £2.00 price tag it doesn't spoil it too much - it was just a little annoying.

The Body Shop Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask

In the fight against my oily skin I wanted a sort of 'deep clean' product which I could use every now and again on a pamper night to clean out my pores. This is the perfect product for that and I am so glad I found it. It claims to draw out impurities and clarify the skin. I can clarify that this mask does in fact do that! 

It is an extremely thick formula which I love to apply to my skin - it's also very refreshing as it always tends to be quite cold. You just apply a thin layer to your face, I usually concentrate on my T-zone and my chin, leave for 10 minutes and wash off. When I look in the mirror after the 10 minutes the clay has kind of dried up around my individual pores - leaving a spotted pattern in the clay - the spots being my pores (I hope that makes sense). I really like how this happens as I feel like it shows that it has dried the oil out of my pores - I don't even know if that's what it does/is meant to do but it feels good anyhow. For this reason I don't know if this would be the best mask to try on dry skin as it does feel extremely drying.

After washing it off my face feels firm and my skin feels really clear and I have noticed quite a big difference in my oily T-zone since using this. I really love this product and find myself using it a lot more often than I probably should! I'm very keen to try other products in the seaweed range.

Beauty Formulas Deep Cleansing Nose Pore Strips

Beauty Formulas Deep Cleansing Pore Strips - Bodycare (£1) or online here

I know there is generally mixed feelings about nose strips - you either love them or you hate them. I can see how people would think they can't be doing much good for your skin but I feel like since I started to use them over a year ago now, I don't think I could go without.

I have tried a few different brands of these nose strips but by far the best results I have had are from these Beauty Formulas ones, which cost just £1 for 6 strips from Bodycare. I know you can get forehead and chin strips from this brand too but I've never seen them and have never tried them - although I would probably be tempted to if I ever came across them!

I find these strips really easy to use, you simply give your face (or your nose at least) a quick clean to remove any make-up or excess oil and then apply the strip to damp skin. You're meant to leave for 15 minutes but I like to leave for 20 minutes. Now as I'm sure you can imagine, explaining the results is not the most pleasant of subjects and I do find that sometimes they can be a bit hit and miss - sometimes they work, and when they work they work really well, but sometimes they don't. I don't know why this is, I'm sure it'll be something to do with whether your pores were open or closed when you applied the strip - who knows. But as I said, when a particular strip does work you can really see all the rubbish from your pores - it's really quite disgusting! I think this is one of the reasons I find them so addictive, knowing that if I didn't use the strips then that is what would be left on my nose! I really like using products when you can physically see the results and these definitely deliver that. For a pound, if the thought of using these strips doesn't sound too horrific to you, I'd definitely recommend you give them a go!

O.P.I. Let's Seal the Deal - Nail Envy and RapiDry Top Coat

O.P.I. Let's Seal the Deal - O.P.I. Nail Envy and O.P.I. RapiDry Top Coat

My nails are really horrible. It's my fault - I don't look after them and yes.. I bite them! So when I heard about this miracle nail product (Nail Envy) that strengthened even the most brittle and flakey of nails I obviously thought.. I must have this! That being said the £18 price tag put a dampener on things to say the least and so it was decided I would go without.

Until the day I wondered into John Lewis, innocently I might add, and spotted this. A set where you were effectively buying the Nail Envy and receiving the RapiDry Top Coat for free! I like to look at it more as I bought each bottle for £9 each - this makes me feel better about it somehow. But seeing as the RapiDry retails for about £13 anyway it really was an offer too good to miss out on - and let's face it.. waiting for nail varnish to dry really is the most annoying and slowest 10 minutes of life wasted! Unfortunately, I can't seem to see this on their website but it's worth checking in store.

O.P.I. Nail Envy is a nail strengthener which claims to 'transform and protect even the most damaged nails'. It supposedly stops nails splitting and peeling and also increases growth rate. Now I don't feel like I can comment on the growth rate due to my already mentioned nasty habit (that I will stop one day!!) but I have definitely noticed an improvement in the 'quality' of my nails. They do not split at all - which does actually decrease the urge I have to bite them as they don't develop horrible flakey bits and I'm not as afraid of them snapping. I use it alone when I'm not allowed painted nails for work or as a base coat. It's also really quick to dry which means I am much more likely to use it often - I actually usually apply in when I'm on my weekly train journey from Liverpool to Wales.

I am also mega impressed with the RapiDry Top Coat. I'm sure I'm not alone in my loathing of those all important 10/15 minutes after applying nail varnish where you are rendered incapable of completing even the simplest task of changing the channel with the remote. If you actually are able to get to the properly dry stage without having smudged your little finger on the side of the sofa or your thumb on your mobile phone then seriously.. Wow. Luckily, this little bottle of glory has put an end to all that! You literally just paint over a thin layer of this stuff over the colour on your nails wait a couple of minutes at the most and you're free to be a normal person again. ALL HAIL RAPIDRY!!!

Clarins Daily Energizer Range

Firstly, I wanted to talk about the art of sample acquiring. The thought of walking into Debenhams, John Lewis or Boots and entering a world of strong scented, perfectly polished, pristinely-white coated women and asking for free stuff has always been quite a daunting one for me. I've always been worried that I'd be judged for my windswept hair or smudged eye-liner and have on occasion, to avoid too much interaction between 'perfect woman' and myself, just gone straight ahead and forked out for the full size version of something. This method of trying out products can prove ridiculously expensive and very disappointing, and is in fact - avoidable! 

I was recently in one of the larger Boots stores where they do have some counters for high-end brands such as Clarins, Clinique and Benefit. I was casually perusing the Clarins counter, which had a big stand full of testers of all their products, looking for an oil-free daily moisturiser to wear under my make-up which would also hopefully combat my oily T-zone. One of the sales assistants approached me and asked if she could help. So I explained, and she was seriously so friendly and helpful and without me even asking she had given me three samples from their Daily Energizer skincare range and also colour tested a matte foundation on me and popped in a couple of sachets of that too. All I had to do was fill in a little card with my details on it and I was on my way. It wasn't at all an unpleasant experience and it saved me forking out for something in a pressured panic that might not even work for me anyway. I have known friends who have been and asked for samples of various things and the assistants have been really unhelpful and almost unwillingly obliged to hand out a sample - which I think is totally unacceptable. The prices charged for high end products can sometimes be ridiculous and I think it is really only fair that we should be allowed to test the product for a short period of time before. I have definitely changed my mind about going and asking for samples, at the end of the day I don't see why it would matter to the assistant whether you took a sample or not (unless they work on commission?) and I will never again feel pressurised into buying anything without testing it first. 

Anyway, on to the good stuff! Clarins Daily Energizer range is targeted at younger skin and claims to boost radiance and vitality, hydrate, protect and minimise minor imperfections and neutralise the effect of pollution, late nights, fatigue and stress. Products within the range contain Vitamin C to revive 'tired' skin, Alchemilla to combat excess oil production and Red Currant to smooth and soften the skins surface. 

I really like all three products that I have been testing. I use the Cleansing Gel in the evenings after removing my make up with a face wipe. It foams really nicely and I feel like this removes the last traces of make up that I might have missed and leaves my face feeling really clean. I follow this with the Wake Up Booster which is really refreshing. I kind of feel like this is 'polishing' my skin, I don't think I even know myself what I mean by that but it just adds that little extra. I use the lotion in the mornings before applying my make up. I like it because it's oil free and it also has an SPF of 15 which is great my for fair skin, providing that little bit of protection everyday without me even thinking about it. I think because it's a 'lotion' rather than a 'cream' (if there's a difference) it feels a lot lighter and is so nice to wear under make-up, it absorbs really quickly and provides a good base.

Since using these samples I have noticed a huge difference in the severity of the oil around my T-zone. It's not even half as bad as it was before and it was actually becoming quite an annoying problem for me. I will definitely be purchasing these full size ASAP - they are not cheap but I think they will last a while if used sparingly and I can easily justify the price by how well they have worked on my skin. 

MUA Lipsticks 5, 7, 15 & 16

I've always been more of a gloss girl than lipstick but I recently got the urge to have a go at using lipsticks instead so I bought a few from MUA's £1 range. I got these during their 50% off offer so paid a grand total of £2 for all 4!

I picked the shades from the colour guide on their website was a bit risky but I think I made some good choices, I ended up with shades 5, 7, 15 (Juicy) and 16 (Nectar).

Shade 5 is a shimmery, sheer, deep pink which I think actually has a really nice glossy effect. Shade 7 is a nice pinky-red which I think adds a great pop of colour without being too bright. Shade 15 which also has a name - Juicy - is quite corally-pink and I'd say is quite matte. Shade 16 - Nectar - a bright orangey-red is the one which surprised me the most, I didn't think I'd like it looking at the stick but it's actually my favourite out of the four!

As I said I'm new to lipstick and I'm not really an expert on terms used to describe them so I hope the pictures can help you out a little there. I'm really impressed by the colour pay off and they all seem to have good formulas which aren't too drying - although it is worth noting that I am wearing a Burt's Bees lip balm under all of these as my lips are very dry and I do feel they need a little extra under any lip product I wear to keep them moisturised. I have to say the staying power wasn't amazing - I find myself having to re-apply these during the day but I don't find this too much of a big deal - I like to top up on my make-up anyway.

These are definitely worth the measly £1 price tag and the 50p each I paid for them is quite frankly ridiculous! I'm really impressed and will definitely be wearing these a lot and adding to my MUA lipstick collection I'm sure. I also think these are a great way to try a more daring colour you might be thinking of without splashing out on a more expensive lipstick, and you might even find you're impressed by it and not need to purchase the expensive one!

Update - I have actually just discovered that the colour indicator bit at the bottom actually unscrews to give you a little pot of product. I wasn't quite sure what the significance of this was but after a quick Google I've read that it is a lip primer/lip gloss? It is very small and quite hard to get even my freakishly skinny fingers in to but nevertheless, handy to have it there I suppose!

The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Reviver

I bought this as I was looking for a new primer as a cheaper alternative to my long-time favourite Benefit Porefessional (which is running out fast). I heard that this was a similar consistency - consistency being one of the things I love about Porefessional I thought that with the £20 off a £40 spend voucher I keep going on about, £7 was a reasonable price for something that could potentially replace a product which costs about 4x the price of that!

This product claims to enhance natural radiance with the use of light-reflective particles and to give skin a silky smooth finish. It can also be used alone or under make-up. When I use this I have to say my make-up applies amazingly. It creates a really nice base for my foundation and it blends it in really well.... however....

I've recently had a revelation. I sat myself down and looked at the characteristics of my skin and decided I have an oily t-zone. Therefore anything containing oil probably isn't going to work well on my skin. This contains brazil nut oil - and sure enough whenever I wear this by the end of the day my face looks like it has in fact melted and looks pretty horrible if I am honest! This obviously does not mean that this product is rubbish - it just doesn't work for me and I will definitely be taking more notice of what a product contains before purchasing from now on.

So I'd say if you have oily skin like me this probably isn't for you! It is lovely to use though and I can imagine it would work better for normal or dry skin. 

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer

I do realise exactly how unforgivably, unfashionably late I am to this party. I'm talking party over, everyone's gone home and is tucked up in bed with progressively sore (incredibly soft haired) heads! But I'm sure there are people out there who, as I was, are still sceptical about this pricey hair mask which so many before us have named a 'holy-grail' product and demanded we all try.

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer (no matter how many times I type that word I still keep having to check the spelling!) is a pre-shampoo treatment that claims to add elasticity, manageability, bounce and shine to hair. I have mentioned before that I am on the hunt for a product which will transform my hair from the dry, brittle mess that it is into long, luxurious locks - preferably without breaking the bank which isn't a box that I would say this product usually ticks. However, I spotted this 75ml version in the Feel Unique sale after Christmas for around £10 which I figured was a good opportunity to see what all the fuss was about!

You simply apply the cream formula to wet hair (not yet washed) and leave for 10-20 minutes. (I usually leave for 30 - I don't know why. I just like to!)  If you have finer hair it says to apply to the mid-lengths and ends which is what I tend to do. The instructions to say to put a plastic cap over your hair for the duration of the 10/20/30 mins, and I have read reviews before where people mention that theirs came with a cap so I don't know if this comes with the bigger sizes of the product? But anyway, mine didn't come with a plastic cap so I popped on a shower cap which I imagine has the same effect.

As soon as I remove the cap my hair instantly feels so smooth and soft and tangle free. I almost don't want to  use shampoo and conditioner through fear that the feeling will disappear - which it sometimes does depending on which shampoo and conditioner I use. However, as soon as I blow-dry and style my hair the amazingly soft texture returns and the difference is really noticeable. My hair is frizz free, soft, manageable and before, I didn't really know what PK meant by 'elasticity' but now I think I do. My hair doesn't break half as much when I'm running the brush through and styling.

I've been using this once a week purely because I wanted to make it last and the tube lasted me 5/6 treatments. I have sadly come to the end of this little tube but I will definitely be repurchasing as soon as I can. Anyone who is looking for a miracle hair product you really should try this, at least in this small version which is great as it means you don't have to fork out for the full size product when you're not even sure if you'll like it (but I'm almost sure you will!).

I got some 'splainin to do!

I'm still alive! Really!.. I haven't dropped off the face of the earth! I know it's highly unlikely that anyone even noticed my absence but I feel like I should explain my seeming non-existence for the last couple of weeks.

I have basically just had so much work to do! I have literally spent the last two weeks in the library.. when I wasn't at home in Wales working. OK it really wasn't as bad as I'm making it sound but I have literally just had no time to do anything. I am, however, pleased and mega relieved to announce that all my second year coursework has been completed (apart from a little presentation in a couple of weeks) and after celebrating with far too much Indian food tonight with my flatmates, I am now free to blog to my heart's content!

I'm (STILL) awaiting a rather large MUA order that I made over two weeks ago now, but I understand that their last offer made their jobs far from easy and I am being very patient, hopefully it will arrive by the end of this week and I will be able to review any gems I might find, I do love MUA! I also acquired a few Clarins samples today which I am excited to try and I have been booked in for a 'skin consultation' at Clinique next week which will be interesting. I also have a few more Body Shop and O.P.I. bits (which I mentioned in my 'Unnecessary Essentials' post a few weeks ago) to review, so you can expect all this soon!

I never like posts without pictures but believe me nobody would appreciate a picture of me at this very moment in time. So here's a couple of pictures of my doggy from the last few weeks because she's just so damn cute!