Things I Love Right now

It has been so long since I shared any favourite products that I decided I would put together a little post about my current can’t-be-withouts.

 

I haven’t really bought any new make-up over the last few months, and instead I have been concentrating on my skin.  The cold weather really makes my skin even more dry than usual (think tight, cracked and flakey. Nice).  So, top of my pamper list has been hydrating masks and rich moisturisers.

 

make-up, eyeshadow, palette, urban decay, alice in wonderland, liz earle, maybelline, concealer, age rewind, toner, face mask, sheet mask, dry skin

 

After a long break (sorry Liz), I have returned to an old favourite of mine; Liz Earle skincare.  I first used the Liz Earle range about 10 years ago, and then allowed myself to be lured away by other brands.  I came back though, and that’s what counts, right?

I am particularly loving the Instant Boost Skin Tonic; a gorgeous floral scented, refreshing toner that is just what my skin needs first thing in the morning.  I have decanted some into a small spray bottle, and I love to spritz my skin with it after cleansing and before moisturising.  In the summer it is particularly divine as a refreshing boost throughout the day, but it’s lush in the winter too.

 

When I need a treat, I adore the When 10pm Bio-Cellulose Anti-Aging Sheet Mask. It never hurts to anti-age, and sheet masks are my favourite type of masks. This Anti-Aging mask makes my skin feel softer than soft, and super hydrated.  The results last for a few days too. When have a whole range of masks (here), and being priced at £7 they aren’t for everyday use (well, not for me anyway), however, they are fab for a weekly pamper session.

 

My collection of concealers is – quite honestly – disgraceful.  I am ashamed to admit that I have a whole drawer full. I have searched and searched (and searched) for a concealer that will cover my dark circles (impossible), not create lines under my eyes, and not leave me looking dry and cakey (achievable, but difficult).  The Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser is really very good.  I have two shades, and this is the Brightening and Illuminating version. I had to buy it from Amazon.com, and it was shipped from America as far as I can remember.  I did find it in the UK now though, (here) albeit at an inflated price.  This particular shade is quite pink, and reminds me of the YSL Touche Eclat.  It doesn’t have the best coverage for people who resemble pandas (me), but it isn’t even remotely drying and it does brighten up the under eye area nicely.

I could write a book about my concealer struggle, but on days when I just want to look healthy, brighter and hydrated, then the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer is perfect.

 

eyeshadow, palette, urban decay, alice in wonderland

 

Last up is an eyeshadow palette.  I was so excited about this palette when it launched last year. I ordered it as soon as it became available and couldn’t wait to try it out.  I hesitated about including it here, because it was limited edition.  But I love it so much that I just had to write about it.

I know packaging shouldn’t be a consideration when buying make-up, but I could not resist this beautiful box. The shadows are lovely too, with a good mix of shimmer, satin and matte shadows.  I particularly like Paradox for the eye lid.  It looks a bit daunting in the pan, but it is actually just orange enough, and is more subtle on the skin than it looks like it will be.  This palette is one of the items in my make-up collection that just makes me happy when I bring it out.  And that’s what make-up should be in my opinion; fun, and a distraction from the crazy people in the news every day.

 

As always,
joyfulthings joyful things beauty blog family blogger skincare mascara eyeshadow lipstick lip balm cleanser toner moisturiser makeup make-up primer blush blusher nail polish

 

 

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How to Get More From Your Make-Up Brushes

I am going to be pretty direct here.  If you wear more than one eyeshadow colour at a time, then you need the Vera Mona Color Switch in your life.

I spend a fair bit on make-up, perfume and various other non-essentials, so when I find a tool that is relatively inexpensive AND useful, I get very excited, and I have to share it with everyone I know.

 

make-up brushes clean cleaner vera mona color switch colour eyeshadow brush sponge

 

The idea of the Color Switch is to take all the colour off the brush, in theory allowing you to use a single brush for an entire make-up look.  For someone that likes to experiment with colour (despite my complete lack of make-up artistry skills), this handy tool is probably one of the best purchases I have ever made.  Yes, I feel that strongly about it.

Having seen it used several times on YouTube videos, I decided quite early on that I must have one at some point. In all honesty, I expected it to be mega expensive, so didn’t exactly rush to search for one, but it was always in the back of my mind.

Recently though, I was browsing on Beauty Bay, trying to get my order over £15 to get free delivery (I was repurchasing the wonderful Mario Badescu facial spray, which is £10.25, if you’re wondering).  I stumbled across the Color Switch and was surprised that a) it is stocked in the UK (these things so often are not) and b) that it was only £13.50 (Here).  (£13.50 may sound a lot, but the sponge can be washed, and it will last a very long time)

 

vera mona color switch colour switch make-up makeup brushes cleaning clean eyeshadow

Above is a nice clean (never used) eyeshadow brush.  Below, is the same brush after being dipped in purple eyeshadow.

 

vera mona color switch colour switch make-up makeup brushes cleaning clean eyeshadow

 

And then…. as if by magic….

 

vera mona color switch colour switch make-up makeup brushes cleaning clean eyeshadow

 

This is the same brush after being swirled around on the Color Switch.  It takes seconds, and couldn’t be simpler.  Now, as you can see, there is a little bit of staining to the brush, so it’s not ‘clean clean’.  But it is definitely clean enough to continue on with another eyeshadow shade.

Of course, brushes still need to be washed regularly, because the Color Switch won’t sanitise them.  (For that, I like to use this little tool).

 

I really can’t recommend this little wonder from Vera Mona highly enough. (And no, this post is not sponsored or paid for in any way.)

 

Have you tried the Color Switch? What do you think of it?

 

joyfulthings joyful things beauty blog family blogger skincare mascara eyeshadow lipstick lip balm cleanser toner moisturiser makeup make-up primer blush blusher nail polish

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The Spring Make-Update

As the weather gets warmer I find myself changing things up in the face department.  Things definitely get more bronzed and even more glowy (if that’s possible for me).  So, after digging around at the back of my drawers, I thought I would let you in on the secret (not really secret) of my spring beauty picks.

 

makeup revolution goddess of love bourjois nars angelika bb cream laura geller baked swirl gelato highlighter blusher blush bronzer

 

The Bourjois Maxi Delight Bronzer is a lovely warm bronzer.   It has a little bit of sparkle when it’s in the pan, but that isn’t noticeable on the skin.  I am naturally pretty fair, so I find this way too dark for the winter, but it’s perfect for spring and summer.

 

bourjois maxi delight bronzer

 

I love to highlight all year round, but in the warmer months it becomes a serious business for me.  Other than my new Sleek Highlighting Palette in Solstice – which I have dreams about – I love both the Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator in Gilded Honey, and the Makeup Revolution Goddess of Faith Highlighter.  Gilded Honey was a struggle to get hold of in the UK last year (I wrote about my struggles here and here), but it would seem that now I have it, it’s flippin’ everywhere! (here, and here for a start). Good news if I ever need to get another, and I will because I absolutely LOVE this highlighter.  It is gold and gorgeous, and despite looking glittery in the pan, it’s actually not on the skin at all. I haven’t reached for the Makeup Revolution Goddess Highlighter in quite a while, so it was nice to discover it a few days ago and give it another chance.  It is a pretty gold highlighter, that is just the right amount of intense on the cheeks.

 

baked gelato swirl highlighter gilded honey laura geller strobing sun stripping

 

makeup revolution highlighter too faced baked heart goddess of love faith grace hope strobing sun stripping glow

 

I don’t really like to use full on foundations in the spring/summer, preferring to use a lighter option.  I used the heck out of my Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream last year, and I have already brought it out for summer.  For me, it has the perfect amount of coverage, and leaves my skin looking healthy, but not overly cakey.  It’s perfect for dry skin, being hydrating but not sticky.

 

nars blusher blush angelika orgasm deep throat highlighter glitter cheeks face makeup sweep colour color

 

I recently splurged on this Nars blusher in Angelika Looking at it, you might think it is a ridiculous choice for someone with fair skin, being hot pink and glittery.  However, in reality it is a very flattering pink.  There is glitter in it, which made me nervous to begin with, but it really just adds to the highlighted look that I embrace fully.  So pretty.

 

So these are my – new and old – most used face products for spring. As for eyeshadows, there is not one particular palette that I favour, but I have been enjoying a more natural look over the last few weeks.  I love a bit of orange in the outer corner of my lid, and not much else.  I think lighter looks are so much more flattering on sunny days. It might even be time for me to break out the self-tanner soon.  Eeek.

 

What about you? Do you make changes to your make-up as the seasons change?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your continued support of Joyful Things!*

Haul / What’s New on the High Street

On a rare child-free afternoon last week, I ventured in to my nearest shopping centre and had a mooch around Boots and Superdrug. So thank you to my parents for looking after my youngest little monster, allowing me some time for some retail therapy.

 

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There were a few bits and bobs that I wanted to try, and some others that caught my eye on the day. I believe most of the products I bought are new to stores, which makes them all the more exciting in my opinion.

 

Maybelline-Dream-Velvet-Soft-Matte-Hydrating-Foundation

First up the Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft-Matte Hydrating Foundation in Ivory. Under normal circumstances, I probably would never have been drawn to this foundation, what with my skin being so dry. The word ‘matte’ strikes fear into my dry, dusty soul. However, I have seen many of my favourite dry-skinned YouTubers rave about it, so I thought I would give it a go. I will let you know how I get on.

To go with the Dream Velvet foundation, I picked up the little sponge applicator. Ordinarily I would have ignored this Dream Blender as a gimmick, but there was an offer on in Superdrug, so for the sake of a couple of pounds I thought I would give it a try.

 

Now, I need another mascara like I need a hole in the head, but I wanted to try the Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara. It was the ‘push-up’ bit that got me. I have mentioned a million times before that I generally look for a mascara that lifts and separates my lashes. Lengthening and thickening are a bonus.

Bourjois-City-Radiance-Foundation-Bourjois-Radiance-Reveal-Concealer

No, your eyes do not deceive you; that is a second foundation. What can I say? I don’t get out much and I need to grab things when I see them, or forever hold my peace. Also, because I am slightly nervous about the Maybelline foundation, I thought this one might be slightly better suited to my skin. The Bourjois City Radiance Skin Protecting Foundation, in Ivory Rose, sounds right up my street.

In addition to this, I purchased the Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer in Ivory. Like mascaras, I have yet to find the perfect concealer, and I NEVER miss an opportunity to try another. I think this is going to be a little more of a brightener than a concealer, but I need to have a play with it. When I swatched it in the shop, it reminded me of YSL Touche Elcat, which is no more of an under eye concealer than I am a tree.

Next, this funny little lip balm. The Maybelline Babylips Balm and Blush is designed to be used as both a lip balm, and a blusher. Yes, really! Did the name give it away? I have tried this, and on the lips it is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. I have the colour Innocent Peach, and it is a wonderful sheer, peachy nude tint. It is best applied while doing an impression of a duck, because it is so MASSIVE that this is the only way to apply it where you want it. It feels a little sticky on the cheeks, but the colour is nice and subtle. I popped it on as a quick test just before washing my face, so I can’t say what happens after any length of time. It may simply slide away, but I will try it properly and see.

Sleek-Barekissed-Illuminator-Monaco

 

Sleek-Barekissed-Illuminator-Monaco

 

The Sleek Makeup Barekissed Illuminator in Monaco is a liquid highlighter. It can be mixed with foundation; applied alone, or simply used to highlight the high points of the face. I love highlighters. Seriously. Adore them. I don’t recall ever using a liquid one, so I am looking forward to experimenting with the Barekissed Illuminator.

 

Smashbox-Double-Exposure-Eyeshadow-Palette

And finally, the Smashbox Double Exposure Eyshadow Palette. I was actually looking at the smashbox stand because I was eyeing up their new Primer Oil.  I decided against that (regretting that now) and started sticking my fingers into the tester of this palette instead. Oh boy, is it pigmented. The colours are all gorgeous, and the shadows can be used wet or dry. As soon as I swatched the silver (top middle/ left in the above pic) I knew I had to have it. I genuinely cannot wait to use this palette.

 

I plan to do full reviews of most of the products here, so come back soon for those!

 

Is there anything here that you have tried? Or anything that has caught your eye?
 

 

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Glossybox – January 2016

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This month’s Glossybox took me by surprise.  The arrival of it I mean.  If you don’t already know (I mention it in pretty much every blog post) I have four children.  Three of which – and the husband – were autumn/winter babies. So October to January is a bit of a blur of presents; parties; more presents; Christmas; and more presents. Oh, and presents. January is number two’s birthday. (Child number two that is – I don’t celebrate the other number two).  So as much as I would like to lie in a darkened room for all of January, I have to start planning another birthday.  So, the point of this little digression? I was so focused on all the other stuff happening, that my little brain released some bits of information (like how to actually get to the point).  Suffice to say, I was pleased when my Glossybox arrived a couple of days ago.

 

 

 

Glossybox-January-2016

So, what is in January’s box?

Unani Dermo Defense Face Mask. This mask is for sensitive skin, and promises to keep skin ‘nourished and hydrated’ and will make a ‘profound improvement in cell renewal and skin regeneration’.  This sounds like music to my ears, what with the colder weather causing my already dry skin to be even dryer.  While I prefer the convenience of a sheet mask, I do just love face masks in general, so this is exciting for me.  I will be trying it out as soon as possible.  This is a full-size tube, so I should get a few uses out of it.

PicMonkey Collage

Teez Cosmetics Oasis Gem Lipstick.  Look at the packaging of this lipstick! Look at it. It is so gorgeous, I love it for that reason alone.  When I swatched this pretty coral colour, I found it to be quite dry, which concerns me.  I have really dry sensitive lips and have to be really careful about what I put on them.  I will give it a go though, and hopefully can add it to my small collection of suitable lip products.

 

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Madara Cellular Repair Serum.  This serum is clinically proven to plump up skin, boost radiance and increase hydration.  All thanks to birch juice.  Birch juice (or sap) is harvested from Silver Birch trees and is apparently a wonder ingredient.  It contains all sorts of fantastic vitamins and minerals; fruit acids, and amino acids.  Applying serums is currently my favourite skincare step, so I am really looking forward to trying this luxury-size sample.  Amazing skin here I come!

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Angele Paris Red Nail Lacquer Red nail polish is classic and enduring, and this one is gorgeous.  Hopefully it will be as bright and glossy on the nails as it looks in the bottle. I love red polish, and cannot wait to slap this one on.

Glossybox Eyeshadow in Glossy Mauve This muted grey/brown/mauve looks promising.  Upon first swatching, it would seem that there is great colour payoff.  The texture is soft – almost creamy – and it contains a little bit of sparkle; just enough to make it interesting.   I don’t think you can ever have too many eyeshadows, and this is a welcome addition to my collection.

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This month’s Glossybox has provided me with five brands that I have never tried before, and I am really excited to try everything, but in particular the skincare.  On first glance I honestly wasn’t that impressed with the contents of January’s box, but on closer inspection the products look ace (I haven’t used the word ‘ace’ for about two decades.  Welcome back into my vocabulary little man).  If anything proves to be particularly amazing I will report back with a full review.

 

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H&M Beauty Collection – How Does it Shape Up?

A couple of months ago H&M launched an updated beauty range; they have offered makeup and body care products for a while now, but not on this scale.  Some of the previous items were impressive (blushers and brushes), and some (body sprays), well, not so much, so I was curious to see how the new offerings would shape up. I talked about some of the body care range here, and now it is time to discuss a few of the makeup items. In typical H&M style it is all very affordable, with prices starting from £1.99 for a makeup sponge, to £9.99 for eyshadow palettes.

 

 

H&M Beauty

 

H&M Beauty Gossamer Lip Stain - Gauzy Mauve

 

I’m going to start with something I really didn’t like; H&M Gossamer Lip Stain in Gauzy Mauve. I was disappointed from the get go with this, I’m not sure if it is deliberate (as in they have added perfume/flavour) but this lip stain tastes vile. It is very hard with lip products, especially those of the liquid variety, not to end up with some of it in your mouth (or is that just me?). Usually I would choose no taste or scent for makeup – it just seems a bit wrong. I would have been prepared to overlook that in this case though, if it dried and that was it. This lip stain did dry, but that was not it. As soon as I had a drink, there it was, wet again. And slimy. Not characteristics I look for in a lip stain.  If you can get past that though, the colour is very pretty, especially for the upcoming Autumn days.

Staying with lip products for now, the next item I have is the Lip Primer. I have never tried a lip primer before; I usually just reach for good old fashioned lip balm to get my lips ready for lipstick. Unfortunately the H&M Lip Primer is so hard that it just drags painfully across the lips, depositing uneven white lumps. This then, obviously, looks pretty awful under lipstick.  I would not recommend this at all.  Unfortunately I couldn’t take a close up picture of it, because my youngest daughter decided to wind it up and smoosh the lid down – destroying the end.

 

 

H&M Beauty Lip Colour-to-Go - When in Rome

 

The Lip Colour-To-Go in When in Rome is a vast improvement.  This lipstick pencil has a soft creamy consistency, making it pleasant to apply. The colour lasted well, and it wasn’t drying on my sensitive lips.  I would certainly choose this formula over the liquid lipstick any day.

 

 

H&M Beauty Cover-up Concealer - Ivory

 

The Cover-up Concealer in Ivory was a very pleasant surprise. I have mentioned many a time that my dark circles are a force to be reckoned with. They want to be seen, dammit, and will show through even the thickest layer of concealer. I therefore wasn’t expecting too much from this one. In all honesty, no it doesn’t cover everything, but it offers decent – medium – coverage and it doesn’t dry out and cake on my dry skin. It also lasted fairly well throughout the day. I definitely think this concealer would work well for those lucky, genetically blessed people with not much to hide.

 

H&M Beauty Solar Flair Bronzing Powder - Sheer Tan

 

In the absence of any sun in the UK, bronzer is a must in order to actually look alive. This Solar Flair Bronzing Powder in Sheer Tan ticks all the boxes for me, it is warm and not muddy or glittery.  As the name suggests, it is an almost sheer colour, which can be built up to give a nice bronzy glow. It is also subtle enough that it’s not frightening to use (not like one other bronzer I could mention).  Most definitely a hit in my eyes, and it even comes close to rivalling my holy grail bronzer – The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder.

 

 

H&M Beauty Eye Colour Palette - Smoky Nudes

 

Now, on to the Eyeshadow Palette in Smoky Nudes. This is a lovely neutral palette, containing five soft matte colours, and four shimmers.  The colours are fantastic, if you are looking for a neutral colour selection, and the eyeshadows themsleves are blendable and very forgiving (if you are a bit heavy handed like me).  I think H&M could do with offering a little bit more choice (there are currently four palettes to choose from), with a bigger colour selection.

 

 

H&M Beauty Pure Velvet Cream Blusher - Dusty Rose

 

 

Lastly, but certainly not leastly, is my favourite of all the H&M makeup range that I own. The Cream Blusher in Dusty Rose. I realise that the world is divided when it comes to cream blushers (I expect it is being debated in Parliament right now) but I am of the opinion that they are pretty great. I have yet to come across a cream blusher that interferes with the layer underneath, or that slides off during the day. Maybe I have just been lucky, or maybe they just work well with my skin type. For whatever reason though, I love cream blushers. And this one could well be my absolute favourite. I have not stopped wearing this blusher since I bought it. I love everything about it; the colour, the consistency, the longevity. Everything.   I find it is best applied with a stippling brush, rather than fingers. This helps it to go where it is needed, without disturbing anything else.

 

Overall, I find the H&M Beauty range very exciting.  The packaging is classy looking (although it is all plastic – so won’t impress everyone), and sturdy, and the products inside are – mostly – great.  I would definitely recommend a look next time you are passing a store – or browsing online.

 

Have you tried any of the H&M Beauty range? What did you think?

 

 

 

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Latest in Beauty – Capital Beauty Box

Latest In Beauty , if you are not aware, is a little different from the usual beauty box.  They offer individual boxes, instead of an ongoing subscription. There are usually around 6 boxes to choose from, containing both full sized and sample sized products. This particular box was put together with Capital FM, and is the Best of Summer box, apparently containing all the must-have beauty products for the summer.  I purchased this at the reduced price of £9.87.

 

Latest In Beauty Capital FM Summer Beauty Box

 

What’s in the Box?

Carmex Moisture Plus Lip Balm – Berry (full size)

A slightly tinted lip balm, that offers SPF 15.  The colour is a sheer glossy pinkish red. On first impressions, I can definitely smell the Shea butter, mixed in – weirdly – with the scent of Vicks VapoRub. I’m not sure how I feel about putting that on my lips….

 

Carmex Moisture Plus Berry Sheer Tint

 

 

Carmex Moisture Plus Berry Sheer Tint Swatch

 

Colab Sheer and Invisible Dry Shampoo – Paris Floral Fragrance (50ml)

Dry shampoos are a staple in my world, not only to refresh day old hair, but also to add texture when styling.  I often find though, that the fragrance is too strong and will give me a headache half way through the day, so I am looking forward to trying this one out. I have also heard great things about Colab.

 

Colab Dry Shampoo Paris Floral Fragrance

dr.organic Organic Dead Sea Minerals Bio-Plasma Mud Mask (100ml)

This looks like a typical mud mask; thick and grey.  It promises to be anti-ageing, detoxifying and rejuvinating.  I will definitely be giving it a try: I am very anti ageing, and I could do with being rejuvenated.

I Love….Perfectly Peachy Bath & Shower Creme (10ml)

This is a sample size, and is in association with CoppaFeel.  The sachet comes complete with tips to check yourself, and warning signs to look out for in the breasts.

 

I Love...Perfectly Peachy and dr.organic Dead Sea Mineral Bio-Plasma Mud Mask

Fudge Urban Hair Art Spray – Violet Haze (125ml)

Now this.  This is an instant colour spray for the hair. It is a fun way to add some temporary colour to the hair, without making a full commitment. My husband once told me that if I dyed my hair purple he wouldn’t be able to look at me, so next time I need some peace and quiet, I’ll be reaching for this little can.

Nails Inc Gel Effect Nail Polish – Mercer Street (8ml)

I love a good Gel nail polish, and although I have tried other Nails Inc polishes (with great results) I have never used one of their Gel polishes.

Fudge Urban Hair Art Violet Haze and Nails Inc Gel Effect Nail Polish Mercer Street

 

Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Ultra Radiance – SPF 30 (100ml)

I’d like to say I’ll give this a go.  However, I think the one day of sunshine that we enjoy in the UK has already passed me by.  This is a good size bottle though; perfect for popping in a bag for a day at the beach.

 

Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection SPF 30 (2)

 

Malin & Goetz Trio – Cleanser, Moisturiser and Lip Balm (10ml, 10ml and 5ml respectively)

I have actually used these products before, as samples free with a magazine.  The lip balm is lovely, and I love to apply it before I put makeup on, then by the time I get to lipstick I am fully hydrated. It acts as a perfect base for lipstick, if you suffer from dry lips.  These little luxury sample sizes are also great for a weekend away.

 

Malin + Goetz Grapefruit Cleanser, Vitamin E Face Moisturizer and Lip Moisurizer

 

MUA Mega Volume Mascara Waterproof Black

MUA Mega Volume Mascara (full size)

I am really looking forward to trying this, as part of my ongoing quest to find the perfect mascara.  Maybe this will be the mascara that will stop me in my tracks and give me long, fat, fluttery lashes.

 

MUA Eyeshadow Palette - Poptastic

MUA Eyeshadow Palette - Poptastic Swatches

MUA Eyeshadow Palette – Poptastic (full size)

I have two other MUA eyeshadow palettes, and they are both fantastic quality, so I hope this will be a great addition to my eyeshadow palette addiction collection.

Overall this is a great value box, especially at the discounted price.  Personally, I like the surprise element of subscription boxes, which you don’t get with Latest in Beauty.  However, as a way to get hold of really excellent samples (and some full sized products) to try out, I think it is fantastic.

 

What do you think, have you tried any of the Latest in Beauty boxes?

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your continued support of Joyful Things!*

Battle of the Beauty Sponges – Time for my Twopence Worth

Do you ever see a trend happening around you in the beauty world, and think ‘I won’t succumb, it must be a gimmick, it can’t be as good as all that’? Well, that is exactly what I thought when I noticed the kerfuffle surrounding this new little pink sponge called a Beauty Blender. I was determined I didn’t need one, and certainly not when they cost £16. And indeed I held off until very recently. I purchased a Stila Double Ended Blending Sponge last year. Then, more recently, a Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. It kept niggling away at me though, and eventually (as I knew I would) I gave in and bought one. So, being me, I really couldn’t leave it at that. I decided to pit them against each other in the ‘Great Battle of the Beauty Sponges’. I also included, to make the numbers even, the Lottie London Blend and Snap Sponge, a fairly new offering from a newish brand.

 

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Firstly, let’s talk about the Beauty Blender.  It is very light and doubles in size when dampened.  It feels like a sponge. albeit a dense one.  It is very soft; and cooling on the face when damp.  It has a pointed end, which makes getting into the crevices on the face very simple.  I found that it doesn’t suck up too much product, which means that it doesn’t waste foundation (excellent), but also that it gives good coverage.  I particularly like using it on my under-eyes, as it stops the skin there looking too ‘cakey’.  I really can’t fault the application, and I can see why it is so beloved.  However, the Real Techniques sponge is also an excellent little tool.  It has a very similar texture to the Beauty Blender, it works well damp and feels soft and pleasant on the skin.  I, personally, much prefer the shape of the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, the flat side just seems to work better when applying foundation (or BB Cream), and it also has the pointy end for smaller areas.

 

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The Beauty Blender
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The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

I happen to love Stila makeup, but the Double-Ended Blending Sponge on the other hand, me no likey.  I have mainly used it wet (I have no idea if this is what it is designed for, but dry doesn’t work either) and it just doesn’t cut the mustard I’m afraid.  When damp it feels almost slimy, and not nearly as nice on the skin as the others.  Because it is more rounded it isn’t as easy to use; I find myself using it sideways to cover the most skin in one go.  Not my favourite.  It is also quite dense, so bouncing it on the skin feels a bit like punching oneself in the face.

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Stila Double- Ended Blending Sponge

 

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Lottie London Blend and Snap Sponge

Finally, the Lottie London Blend and Snap Sponge.  I thought this sponge looked quite promising when it arrived.   It has a very similar texture – at first glance – to the Beauty Blender, and obviously it is the same colour.  It works fairly well too.  In order to test the sponges properly, I used two at a time, one on each side of my face.  When it came to comparing the Lottie London sponge with the Beauty Blender, the main difference seemed to be that the Lottie sponge drew in a lot more foundation, and deposited far less on my face.  So, great if you want a very light coverage, but not so great if you don’t like wastage.  In contrast, the application between the Real Techniques sponge (how many times can I write the word ‘sponge’?) and the Beauty Blender was identical, in my opinion.  Of course, I am not Lottie London’s target audience – apparently they are aimed at teenagers – so I don’t suppose they give a tiny rat’s a** what I think.

What about price though? The Beauty Blender sells for £16 for the original – pink – version. They also offer a white ‘pure’ sponge, mini green ones, and a large black Body Blender. These are available online, and I believe in Space NK stores.
The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge is £5.99 and is readily available online, and in Boots and Superdrug stores.
The Stila Double Ended Blending Sponge is £11.00 and seems to only be available online, it may be found in some stores, although I have never seen it.
The Lottie London Blend and Snap Sponge is £5.49, and is available from Superdrug stores and online. I purchased mine from ASOS.

My final conclusion?  The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge is easily comparable to the Beauty Blender, and is almost a third of the price, so I say go for that.  I know there will be some die-hard BB fans who will think I am talking rubbish, but this is just my humble opinion.  While the Lottie London sponge is ok, if you are going to spend £5.49, I suggest you splurge the extra 50p and get the Real Techniques sponge instead.

What do you think?  Are there any even cheaper alternatives out there, that work just as well as the Beauty Blender?

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A New (to me) Gem – Ciate Mint Chocolate Nail Polish Remover

I have recently made a conscious decision to maintain tidy nails as as much of the time as possible. Previously I did not much care if they were chipped and different lengths, as long as they were smooth – I have never been able to abide ragged nails that catch on anything and everything.

Although they are certainly nothing to envy now, I like to think they are the best they can be. What used to put me off painting them was the thought of removing the polish a few days later. I have extremely sensitive nails, and using the wrong nail varnish remover would leave me with sore nails. They would hurt – ache, really – for around 24 hours after using remover. Whether this was the surrounding skin, or the skin under the nail I have no idea. A quick Google search suggests that it was the top layer of my nails being stripped, leaving them exposed and sensitive. Is this common? I really don’t know, but I have never come across anyone else who suffers from this weird affliction. I have tried many different nail polish removers over the years, always opting for ‘sensitive’ formulations, and even acetone free. Nothing has worked, until now … (Cue dramatic music)

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Ciate Mint Chocolate Nourishing and Gentle Nail Polish Remover

 

The Ciate Mint Chocolate Nail Polish Remover has vitamins B5 and E to condition the nails. It isn’t a new product, so perhaps I am the last to know about it (probably), but it is new to me. It also has a mint chocolate scent, that is supposed to leave nails smelling delicious. Now, firstly the smell. I took a big old whiff of it when I first used it. I can report that this was not a clever thing to do. It does smell a little of mint chocolate, but smells more strongly of nail polish remover. In addition to this, I always wash my hands straight after taking the polish off anyway, so I can’t say I am particularly fussed about a lingering smell. However, the reason I am so pleased with this purchase is that it did not leave my nails tender and aching! That, for me, is the biggest plus – and the reason that I hope I will always be able to purchase it, or something similar anyway.  It also does a good job of taking the polish off, with a little bit of persistence. It isn’t the best I have used in that respect, but that is a small price to pay for un-stripped nails.

Have you ever experienced this problem with your nails, or am I really one of a kind?  Can you recommend other gentle nail polish removers?

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To Tan or Not to Tan (the face)

I have sporadically self-tanned my body for a few years, but tanning my face is something that I have avoided.  Not because I like the two-toned look, but because I don’t like the thought of using products formulated for the body on my face.

So, when I came across this new little gem from Clarins it would be an understatement to say I was excited.  The Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster is a teeny tiny little bottle, containing little drops of liquid sunshine.  It is designed in such a way that you can push on one end, and a drop will come out of the dropper.  Simply add 1-3 drops with your usual facial moisturiser, mix in the palm  of your hand and apply to the face.  It will then work its magic on your skin to create a golden glow.  Simple pimple.

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What I love about the Golden Glow Booster, is exactly what frustrated me about the St Tropez Gradual Tan in-shower lotion; it is very subtle. I personally don’t want to go to sleep with my face one colour, and wake up quite another. That’s fine on my body – I can hide that – but my face is so… well, public.  Anyway, I have found that three days of mixing three drops in with my night cream creates the perfect colour.  Not unnaturally brown, but simply healthy looking.  My skin, although not hyper-sensitive, can react to some products.  If I overdo it with new things, or use anything too harsh, I will end up with soreness across my cheekbones, and/or bumps along my jawline.  After using the Radiance-Plus Glow Booster for a week, I have had no adverse reaction whatsoever, so I would expect that most – if not all – skin types will get on with it.  There is no smell that I could detect, so if you wanted a double dose you could apply in the morning too.

I really cannot rate this amazing stuff highly enough.  At £18 for 15ml, it is not cheap, however, a little goes a long way, and I can see it lasting well beyond the end of summer.

 

If you are a self-tanner, what do you do? Choose a darker foundation to make up the difference, or do you use body products on your face? Let me know in the comments below!

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