The Best Palette of 2016 is Still Around but Not For Long

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette Review

Soon, as in a matter of days, the latest Hourglass Palette will be released, which sadly means the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette will be discontinued; a crying shame as it is truly one of the best, all-in-one beauty kits that has been launched in a long time. If the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette has as much as crossed your thoughts recently, I’m afraid it is a case of now or never – let me help make the decision that little easier…

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette Review
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette Review

I think we’d all be in agreement that 2016 was the year in which the blogging world fully embraced marble and what could be a more fitting addition to any make-up bag than the marble adorned case of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette. Yeah it is plastic but it is surprisingly durable despite being lightweight (a blessing when travelling) and let’s face it, it does happen to look rather attractive too – love it or loathe it, many a beauty purchase has been acted upon purely due to how well it will photograph. Blame Instagram.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette Review

For a moment, let’s forget the marble packaging for now and focus on what really counts – what is inside: five exclusive shades of bronzer, blush and more. As someone who owns a good few Hourglass face products the allure (and convenience) of five new, wear everywhere powder products was too much to resist, I relented and of course made the palette mine. I have no regrets as since giving into temptation, the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit Surreal Light Palette is all I have used in terms of blush, highlighter, bronzer and to an extent even setting powder – this truly is the gift (to self) that keeps on giving.

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Spotlight: Madara Skincare.

madara sos hydra mask review total renewal serum

I should start by saying I didn’t expect to fall for Madara. When I first discovered the Norwegian brand I was put off by the intensely green packaging, I judged a book by its cover and didn’t think much of it. A few months later (or it could have been a year or two, by this point I’ve been blogging so long that time has turned a bit squishy), I was sent a press sample of a new release; their SOS Hydra Recharge Cream. This wasn’t the Madara I was expecting, with sleek branding and a modern colour scheme. Impressed, I put the cream in my drawer ready to test this winter and went on a google spree to get to know Madara a little better.

Since then I’ve found my routine being taken over with Madara and I’m not even the least bit sorry. It escalated quickly with samples in the Naturisimo and Love Lula beauty boxes, I think I got the serum in a Naturisimo box and all the rest in Love Lula. I was smitten with the Peel mask from Septembers box, so as soon as I had used it up I had to order the full size and ended up adding a few extras to my order (for science, of course).

madara purifying mud mask review

Brightening AHA Peel Mask (£20)
I was initially very wary of this lactic acid based mask, having had an unpleasant experience with a similar sounding mask in the past. This little number however, has been quite the dream. It doesn’t tingle or sting, but I can tell it’s working on the skin every time I use it. It reveals a fresher, brighter complexion and seems to do a great job of contributing to smoothing and fading old acne texture issues and marks. My skin has been quite dry lately so I’ve been using this atleast once a week to help banish some flakiness and help my makeup look a little smoother in the few days after (looking for foundation recommendations that don’t cling to dry patches please!).

Detox Ultra Purifying Mud Mask (£20)
Having not used a traditional ready mixed clay mask in ages I was pretty excited about this! The Madara Mud Mask uses a mix of kaolin and sapropel mud (A.K.A Nordic forest lake mud) which form quite a powerful duo. This is one of those masks that dries and tightens so you can’t move an inch. It does sort of pinch and start to hurt when tightening so you know it’s time to wash off. Washing off is also an issue, as it clings to the skin and requires lots of warm water to soften and a cloth to remove. That being said, the effort is worth it as my skin feels baby smooth and refreshed afterwards (there’s a little lactic acid in this mask too), it’s also a great spot treatment and I like to dot it on any blemishes and leave for as long as possible to really suck the nasty stuff out (Ergh!).

total renewal night cream cellular repair serum

Micellar Water (£12)
This was another product I was super keen to sample, having not used a ‘natural’ micellar water in a year or more. I love micellar water for heavy makeup days and the odd lazy day, sometimes I just cant be bothered with a full cleanse routine, and this stuff works wonders. It doesn’t leave a strange film or greasy feeling on the skin and removes heavy makeup easily. The inclusion of hyaluronic acid means skin is hydrated and if it is one of those days where all your face gets is a sweep of this on a cotton pad, it’s probably not the end of the world. My only bug bear is the size, whilst it is great for travelling I’ve gone through the 100ml very quickly and would love to see a larger 200ml size available too.

SOS Hydra Recharge Cream (£35)
This powder pink cream (yes, the cream is pink! ahhh) has a beautifully silky, lightweight feel. I was expecting a very thick cream but this almost lotion-like texture has been a dream for hydrating dry skin without any greasy feeling this winter. I haven’t used it religiously, but have been reaching for it more in the past few weeks as my skin has needed the extra layer of hydration. I can mix it with oils and serums for an all in one approach (especially in the mornings) or layer it on last in the evening to seal everything in and leave my skin feeling nourished and taken care of.

SOS Hydra Moisture + Radiance Mask (£35)
Another pink cream! Richer in consistency than the moisturiser, this mask is supposed to provide immediate comfort, long-lasting moisture and prevent itching and tight feeling on the skin. This is actually my least favourite of all the products I’ve tried. It’s not bad, at all, but it didn’t seem to work for me and I didn’t think my skin felt particularly hydrated, or had any change at all, after use. It did feel cooling and calming on application when my skin was feeling particularly irritated one day, but other than that this is not one I will rush to buy the full size of.

Time Miracle Cellular Repair Serum (£40)
From pink to green! This thin textured pale green serum has only recently been added to my routine (thanks to the success of the cream coming up next) as I wasn’t sure I needed it or how to include it in my routine. This serum is designed to boost the cellular renewal cycle to improve the texture and appearance of skin. It’s more for lines and wrinkles than my 25 year old face, but my acne scars can always use a little cellular renewal so it’s also been great for me too! It’s probably a little too early to talk results, but I like what I see so far.

Time Miracle Total Renewal Night Cream (£38)
I got this sample sized treat in my December Love Lula box and was so excited to try it. Thicker than the sos recharge cream (and pale green!) this has been a star in my night time routine for the last few weeks. My skin is looking great (still dealing with hormonal breakouts like clockwork but other than that…) and has benefitted from the renewing properties of this cream. It’s designed to work overnight to rebuild dermal collagen and elastin fibres and activate cell processes for smoother, rested and radiant skin, which hello, sounds like just what the doctor ordered in the cold months. I add a few drops of facial oil and a little of the repair serum to thin out the texture and apply to toner-damp skin about 3 times a week. This combo sinks in easily and I’m always impressed with the results.

madara skincare review

So a good bunch all round! If you’re looking to try most of the products I’ve mentioned I would look at this handy little sample set that Love Lula recently put together. It contains the peel and moisture masks, the night cream, cellular repair serum and more for £29 whilst stocks last!

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New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

Up until very recently, MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes were a twice a year event and very much a limited edition commodity – a shame really, as they are easily MAC’s best highlighters in terms of formulation. Luckily along with creating highly covetable shades, one thing MAC excels at, is listening to their customer base. Basically if enough people ask, MAC will provide the goods; case and point, MAC Lightscapade MSF and MAC Candy Yum Yum Lipstick both became additions to MAC’s core range, and of course the permanent arrival of four new and exciting MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes.

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

If the shades alone don’t impress you, the sheer size of the MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes just might – in a nutshell they are huge (10g’s of product to be exact) and as such will last forever and a day. Other than that, there isn’t much I can really say about the packaging that you most likely don’t already know or can’t gauge from the photos: plastic, sturdy and fairly lightweight.

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

As highlighters are not exactly a new string to MAC’s already extensive bow, you most likely be wondering why I rate MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes so highly? Pure and simple – the formulation; it is all but magic. In pan form you would be forgiven for assuming that this is nothing more than another firm, pressed powder but once applied to the skin it provides a cooling, almost-liquid-like-silk sensation and texture, before setting as a powder would – to feel it, is to believe it. Sensory aspects aside, the bonus of such consistency is that it sits on top of the skin as a liquid would, meaning even those with enlarged pores, dry skin et al – such as myself- can enjoy a high-sheen highlighter, free from worry that it is accentuating the problem areas we really would prefer not to draw attention too.

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

A quick break down of each shade:

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

MAC Soft Frost – to the naked eye this appears to be a stark silver, almost white highlighter but once applied to the skin it reflects a bright lilac hue. Admittedly it won’t be for everyone but it is a nice break from the norm and an exciting change of pace as far as highlighting products are concerned.

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

MAC Doublegleam – a light champagne-come-gold shade that reflects silver, my pick for paler complexions or for deeper skin-tones who really enjoy a bold flash of highlighter. Out of the four I would say this is the most conventional shade.

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

MAC Show Gold – a warm, traditional gold that has a pink undertone; very flattering and very easy to wear. It also doubles up as a great eyeshadow too – again I think this will suit most, if not all complexion tones.

New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

MAC Beaming Blush – a mid-toned, pink shade that has a strong gold undertone, if NARS Orgasm Blush was a highlighter, it would be this. This is entirely suitable for all complexions but really comes to life on those with a darker skin-tone. If you love multi-tasking products this is the shade for you.


New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes
New MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes

So how do you best apply a powder-to-liquid formula? With a brush – if you prefer a lighter, more subdued flash of highlight I recommend using a soft, fluffy brush with the MAC in Extra Dimension Skinfinishes, and if you want a more concentrated streak of pigment, use something a little more dense; in both events I do recommend selecting a tapered brush (or a fan brush) to allow for precision. In a nut shell, despite offering a liquid finish (i.e no chalky or powdery residue with a softer focus and finish) the MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes should be treated and utilised as you would any other powder highlighter. The other real notable difference between this and any other typical powder highlighter, is the lasting power – as mentioned several times, this is a powder-to-liquid formulation and as such it adheres to the skin far superiorly to a standard powder product. Think of it as a highlighter glue, once applied it is going nowhere (until you decide otherwise), outliving even the oiliest of skin tendencies, sweat and even on occasion the odd rain shower.

If ever you have skipped out on highlighter due to enlarged pores, fine lines and/or a lack of lasting power, or perhaps you want to try something a little less ordinary (hello lilac toned highlight), you need to try the MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes next – I promise they will all but change your life…or in the very least your make-up routine.

You can find all four shades of the MAC In Extra Dimension Skinfinishes (£24/9g each) here – link.

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7 Beauty Products You’ve Got to Try This Week

7 Beauty Products You've Got to Try This Week

Over the last few days I have been somewhat attempting to Spring Clean my beauty stash – it is amazing how many half used tubes of mascara and dried up nail polish one person can amass – in order to fully utilise and appreciate the products that I do love and reach for. I’ve also decided that for every new product I purchase, one neglected product must be donated or disregarded depending on its condition – out with the old and in with the new. Let me share a few note worthy additions to both my bathroom and make-up bag…

7 Beauty Products You've Got to Try This Week

New Jo Malone Cologne Intense 60ml

The Jo Malone Cologne Intense range may not be a recent arrival to the fragrance market (other than the latest arrival Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka) but the new, dinky, travel-ready 50ml size of all seven scents are and as such, are something I imagine you’ll be seeing a lot of in the coming months. As much as I adore a good few of the Jo Malone Cologne Intense fragrances, there is no denying that they are super lux and as such come at a premium price. The other issue with the original 100ml size of the Cologne Intense range, is that they are far from travel friendly and may not be the best choice – purely based on volume – for the picky fragrance consumer. The new 50ml size is not only utterly adorable but by far more suited to being lugged around – travel or otherwise – and of course the reduced sized is ever so slightly more affordable too. I was very kindly gifted a bottle of the Jo Malone Cologne Intense in Velvet Rose & Oud and despite not being a huge fan of either key note, it has left a lasting, powerful impression – I can imagine that this would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift.

7 Beauty Products You've Got to Try This Week

Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica Body Cream

Admittedly I am not the best at applying moisturiser to my body and more often than not I need more than gentle persuasion, to as much as look at a body cream, oil or lotion but when products smell and feel as great as Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica Body Cream do, half the battle is all but won. As you would expect – or demand – from any body moisturiser worth its salt, Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica Body Cream is thick, creamy (a little goes a long way), indulgent and most importantly hydrating without any greasy or heavy residue. The bonus element is that much like all Jo Malone bath and body products this is wonderfully perfumed, so much so, that sometimes I use this in place of a mist on fragrance and enjoy the gentler and somewhat milkier (due to the cream based medium) take on a Jo Malone classic.

7 Beauty Products You've Got to Try This Week

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New In This Week: Ten Pampering Beauty Gems To Boost Your Mood This Winter

I have to admit that I’ve cheated a little bit when it comes to this post. Over the last couple of weeks there hasn’t been that much newness (or new-on-my-desk-ness) worthy of your attention, so this time around it’s an edit of some of the more exciting bits and pieces that have made their way to me over the last month or so – and for one reason or another I’ve not written about them previously. When the sunshine seems so far away and the cold weather is playing havoc with our skin, it’s the perfect time to give yourself a pamper and get to know some new treats that will undoubtedly tickle your fancy. I’ve pulled together an edit of ten things I think you’ll love getting to know, none of which cost a fortune either.

1. Maskorea 3-in-1 Sheet Masks (£7.99 each)
Sheet masks aren’t new (in fact they’ve been clogging up my inbox for the best part of a year,) but what intrigues me about the versions from Maskorea is that they come with two little sachets of product to ensure you get the most benefit from the experience. Each features a cleanser to use before and ensure there’s no trace of makeup or dirt left to prevent the enriched mask from getting to work, as well as a night cream to apply afterwards to boost the benefits and hydrate the skin. Available in three variants (Too Many Late Nights, Turn Back The Clock and Instant Glow) this is a fun take on the trend. Personally I prefer my usual skincare products to those included, but I love the idea.

2. ‘B’ Hylaronic Acid Facial Spritz (£7.99)
Usually more popular in the summer, facial spritzes are a great way to perk up skin or refresh the senses during the day. However, this version from Superdrug’s own skincare range ‘B’ is enriched with hylaronic acid to help plump the skin and restore moisture when skin is looking and feeling a little parched. You can use it as a first step when applying your morning skincare, spritz over makeup for a dewy and refreshed look or add a touch throughout the day when you need a boost; the mist isn’t the finest and it takes a bit of getting used to before you get the perfect amount, but it’s a great little treat to pop in your handbag when the cold zaps all the goodness from our complexions. A steal at £7.99 too.

3. Beauty Bakerie Lip Whips (£16.00 each)
Matte liquid lipsticks are definitely my faves right now, thanks to the long-lasting result and modern twist on traditional lipstick formulas that just seems to give a look new life. These little gems from Beauty Bakerie are du jour; not only do they look gorgeous and remind me of chocolate ice cream, but they apply beautifully to leave an incredibly pigmented result behind. You do have to thoroughly exfoliate and delicately tap balm into the surface of lips to get the best result (and maybe if you’re concious of fine lines give this a miss,) but they’re just beaut. If you can’t get your hands on a Kylie kit, these are a great alternative.


4. Temple Spa ‘Work It Out’ Muscle-Tox Bathing & Massage Oil (£25.00)
I’ve been back in the gym this January, which means I tend to spend the day after each session feeling a little sore. This beautifully scented oil has been specifically developed to help ease tension and help massage away stress, thanks to a blend of 21 Mediterranean essential oils (including juniper, clove, cypress and thyme) in a lush base of sesame, avocado, jojoba, kukui, grapeseed, soybean and coconut oil. It also claims to ‘detox’, but I’m not convinced on that front; for me it’s enough to have an affordable bottle of oil that’s full of goodness and will help to restore my flexibility after a long soak. Continue reading