Best Of: Love Lula’s Beauty Box.

Because I got my last Love Lula Beauty Box last month, I thought it would be nice to round up my favourite items from the 5 boxes I did get. And it turns out there was quite a lot! It doesn’t always seem like it at the time, but you accumulate an awful lot of product with subscription boxes.

What I loved most was getting to try new brands, over the 5 month period I sampled about 12 new brands, ones that maybe I would have noticed and bought myself in the future, and ones that I know I would not have, but surprisingly won me over once I got to try them.

One of my highlights was discovering Madara, which I talked a lot more about in my previous brand spotlight post here. I got to sample 3 miniatures from them and have been hooked ever since.
I also loved finally trying the MOA (Magic Organic Apothecary) Fortifying Green Bath Potion, which smelt nothing like I was expecting – a pleasant surprise! Keeping with the bath and body theme, the Apple & Bears Body Silk was another surprise, a lush cream that sinks into skin in a flash and smells dreamy. In my last box I also got the John Masters Evening Primrose Shampoo for dry hair – I’ve been using this for the past week or so and feel like I’m onto something here. Instead of searching out scalp specific shampoos that often clarify, I’m going to try some super moisturising ones for a while as this seems to be very soothing on the ol’ noggin.

I also very much welcomed some Ooh! Oils of Heaven into my stash, with their baobab and argan oils. Highly recommend for fuss free, nourishing natural single-ingredient oils available in a bunch of affordable sizes. The Balm Balm rose water mist was so handy for travel and setting makeup. And I really enjoyed using the FoM London Hydra Plump Serum, too. It made a nice change from all the creams and oils in my routine to use something that felt like water!

My favourite box has to be the December box (pictured above). Three amazing full-size items, a moisturiser sample that turned out to be fantastic and a handy mini argan oil from a brand I already love. The Strawberry & Ginger Tea from Beauty Brews has been a tasty treat over the past few weeks, and the sugar scrub is so good! like, seriously good! Just be careful if you use it on your feet in the shower because it quickly becomes slippery city. The Spearmint perfume was a lovely surprise too, it smells so fresh and bright.. and obviously minty. I think I need to pick up another single note perfume from Balm Balm to layer this with to avoid the mouthwash vibes. I’m just not sure which. I like it for clearing food smells from clothes or the room at the moment, though.

The boxes cost, including shipping, £12.50 a month for UK subscribers and have options for discounted pre-pay. If you’re further afield you can also subscribe and it works out at £17.50 a month (though you have to pay 3 months at a time).

So Sephora Isn’t Coming to the U.K After All

Sephora Isn't Coming to the U.K 2017

Late last year, the news unofficially – as in it didn’t directly come from Sephora but rather very trusted sources – broke that Sephora had plans to finally set shop up in the U.K once again; sure it would only be one location (London) but for many it was better than nothing and raised the hope of the possibility for further British branches. For weeks, it was all anyone could talk about and the announcement was received with unprecedented excitement levels, well dear reader I’m afraid Sephora is no longer arriving on the U.K shores anytime soon, if ever.

Why? From what I have gathered no one really knows. Perhaps Sephora felt it was too little, too late? Maybe they decided that that the supposed location of Westfield Strafford was not ideal as it isn’t exactly central, nor somewhere those pushed for time would venture; as a Scot that has been to London several times – with my tourist blinkers on – I would imagine that Oxford Street would be a more fitting address – central and a hotspot for both local and visiting traffic. There is also the fact that a lot of brands that Sephora stock are exclusive to other retailers within the UK – for example Kat Von D is only sold within certain branches of Debenhams and Tarte can only be found on the QVC website. Of course, this is all speculative and the real reasoning most likely will never come to light.

Sephora Isn't Coming to the U.K 2017

Although I wasn’t the hugest champion for the U.K unveiling – despite it’s European roots, I feel that the U.S is the real “home” of Sephora – I am a little sad that the expansion has not been granted the green light – the beauty industry has never been more booming and just about every blogger and YouTuber who as much as wears lipstick has undoubtedly uploaded some form off Sephora haul in their time. I am not deluded enough to as much as hint we alone keep the beauty sector afloat but all that free brand promotion certainly can’t help the brand. I have said in the past that I don’t think the U.K version of Sephora would be as impressive as those further afield but I did agree that there certainly is more than room for a one-stop cosmetic and skincare shop within the U.K – a gap said brand could more than fill.

I also assumed (foolish I know) that with a new international location that a British website wouldn’t be far behind meaning no more costly importation fees, nor lengthy waits for said delivery to arrive (well in theory – we’ve all had encounters with dodgy couriers). An online U.K based Sephora presence would also open up the brand to those who are unable to travel be it to London or elsewhere, and of course allows for those late night and often regrettable splurges. Even if said website only sold own brand products – which I would argue are as good, if not better than some high end products – it would be a start and a move very much welcomed by many.

There are rumbles that perhaps Sephora will go down the concession route within the U.K; opening up small counters in already existing department stores, something that is already in play in hundreds of J.C Penny stores within the states. Again this is better than nothing and also allows customers to see and try products before purchase, and in the long run could serve as a test to how well the company is received within a market it has neglected for so long.

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Tale As Old As Time: Just Look At The L’Oreal Beauty & The Beast Makeup Collection!

I know I’m 34 years old, but I’m just not over the phenomenon that is Beauty and the Beast just yet. The original was released back in 1991 when I was barely nine years old, but I can still remember the songs practically word-for-world and continue to dream of having a dress as beautiful (and yellow) as Belle’s in that classic scene; there’s something about the emotion that’s attached to such a tale that still puts a smile on my face. Skip forward over 25 years and this iconic story is about to get a new lease of live via the live action version, starring our very own Hermoine Granger. (My inner Potter-nerd is probably happier about that than it should be.) It’s not even due to hit cinemas for another month, but the merchandise has already started to go into overdrive to tickle our tastebuds and get us in the mood for the big event. Although I may be too old for plastic dolls and princess dresses, I’m definitely not past the stage of wanting a piece of Beauty and the Beast lipstick – so when I discovered that L’Oreal were launching a 14-piece collection to celebrate the launch, I almost peed myself with excitement. The only downside is that it’s exclusively available in Italy, but thanks to an Amazon Prime account I was able to buy it and ship the collection over in a couple of days! Hoorah!

First things first: the collection includes seven lipsticks and seven coordinating nail polishes, which together set me back around £90.00. That works out about £6.40 each, with the bonus that they’re all packed in a special edition keepsake box; they’re not cheap, but together it’s not insanely expensive if you’re obsessed with the film franchise or just simply want a piece of makeup history. Each of the main characters each have their own lipstick and polish (including Belle, Beast, Mrs Potts, Cogsworth, Lumiere, the featherduster and the rose) which are adorned with designs that correspond to their character. Unfortunately the designs aren’t printed onto the packaging itself, but instead are stickers that have been applied over the top; I can only assume that this is why the range hasn’t been brought over to the UK, as it’s not the same standard we’re used to seeing from L’Oreal (even if the stickers are good quality and textured, as well as featuring embossed metallic touches.) Nevertheless, the overall effect is somewhat magical and definitely makes me feel like this is something to be treasured for years to come.

The collection includes a number of bold shades, including a classic red and power pink, alongside a more wearable chocolate brown and nude tone. I would’ve liked to see more of a spectrum (there feels like there’s a lot of red, perhaps because of the Italian market?) but they’re all very wearable and universal in appeal – just like the nail polishes. (That navy blue!) Personally I don’t get why the Cogsworth products aren’t a beautiful brown colour, nor why there’s a very random featherduster (not a main character in my opinion) and slightly tacky lipstick mark design, but the rest of the range definitely leaves me feeling pleased with my purchase. Thankfully the box everything is held in absolutely met my expectations, providing a covetable and great quality outer in which to store the makeup items within (because you know these aren’t meant to be actually used!) I do wish that there were token limited edition Beauty and the Beast lipsticks and polishes available in the UK, especially because the rose version is so pretty, but alas… Maybe the fact you can’t get hold of them makes it all the more lustworthy? I’m definitely in the mood for a Be Our Guest marathon now, even if I can’t bring myself to actually apply the polish! Continue reading

Clarins Face Contouring Palette – Better Late Than Never

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review
If you are not already a huge fan of Clarins, be it their wonderful skincare, sophisticated beauty range or even their array of masterful fragrances, you really are missing out. Clarins may not be the Instagram or beauty blogger instant brand of choice, mainly because they don’t buck to trends, rather they create them and as such it may explain why the company was lacking a contour product or two before now. As the title more than suggests, there is a fairly new to the table Clarins Face Contouring Palette – which is sadly limited edition – and boy has it been worth the wait.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

The great thing about the Clarins Face Contouring Palette is that the beauty powerhouse has really thought of everything: from a highlight, contour and blush, to a facial contour skimming brush – it is all there at your fingertips, making this ideal for beginners and/or those for strapped for time. It should also be mentioned that the typical of Clarins, yet ultimately classy, golden compact, that encases all three powders is housed with a large mirror – again really adding to the user-friendly aspect of this kit. Basically if ever you have considered purchasing an all-in-one face sculpting kit and you have a light to medium complexion, this is one that you may want to consider.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review
Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review
Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

As you’d expect from any contour kit worth it’s salt the two shades aimed at mimicking the natural shadows and light of the facial hollows and high points are matte; truthfully I do find the contouring powder to be a little too warm in tone for my needs, it lacks the greyness I look for in such product but I do commend Clarins on creating a hue that is well pigmented and not at all ashen. No it isn’t the universal suit all shade some will be hoping for but generally speaking it is a little deeper than average and as such can be applied in both layers and with a light hand to create the illusion of sharper bone structure – or of course used in place of a bronzer and maybe in some instances as a setting powder or even an eyeshadow. That is the great thing about neutral toned, matte powders, they lend themselves to a world of uses and as such the intended highlighting powder within this set can be used for just that, or as an eyeshadow, a setting powder or rather wonderfully for both brightening and setting the under eye. As wonderful as a multi-tasking product is, in my opinion the real star of the show is the dusky pink, satin blush – this applied alone, beautifully carves out the cheekbones and adds a subtle, just-pinched effect.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

Sure there are more budget friendly sculpting face kits out there but I do think that you will be hard pushed to find a better formula; not only is each of the three shades so finely milled that on the skin they feel lighter than air and utterly comfortable but they overall formulation has been enriched with plant extracts to nourish and of course a dash of Clarins’ anti-pollution complex to protect the complexion.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

And then there is the brush, a nifty, little curved-come-angled number that perfect grips and hugs the natural contours of the face, including those pesky, hard to reach areas such as the side of the nose with complete control and ease. Yes the small, almost stubby like appearance can be deceiving and make it appear a lot more fiddly than it appears but truthfully it is one of the best brushes of its kind I own – so much so that, if sold as a separate product from the Clarins Face Contouring Palette I would buy a back up brush.

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Don’t Worry About It: 8 Beauty ‘Mistakes’ You Shouldn’t Be Getting In A Flap Over

Every single day us women are told off for the beauty ‘mistakes’ we’re making and unsurprisingly can be left feeling like a naughty schoolchild (or a female failure) as a result. There are so many beauty rules and regulations set by the media (including us bloggers!) but realistically none of us will ever be able to follow them to the letter – be it time, energy, understanding or finances preventing us from doing so. Although there are certain things I would recommend either avoiding or adopting, there’s also a tonne of stuff that’s really not worth getting in a flap over; you’re not going to ruin your body if you skip a step, forget to take off your makeup effectively or use a touch of sulphate-enriched shampoo on your head, but it is important to be aware and informed so you can choose what’s right for you. Here are the eight ‘mistakes’ many of us make, and why you shouldn’t get in a flap over them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a complicated skincare regime as much as the next beauty obsessive, but sometimes it’s ok to skip that extra step. I understand that adding four layers beneath your makeup can cause more problems than it helps if you don’t get it right (the key is to only apply a touch and not coat your face in a light layer of goo,) so if you feel like serum or eye cream isn’t for you then that’s cool. Just make sure you have a regime that works for your needs.
Yep, still hate them, but face wipes do serve a purpose: to help remove the superficial layer of dirt we see in the mirror after a long night out/the day that felt like it was never going to end. Although they will only ever remove the top layer of makeup and offer nothing in the way of a deep cleanse, something is better than nothing. Just don’t make it a regular occurrence as the alcohol can dry out skin, while the remaining grime on your face will inevitably cause breakouts.
Us bloggers have got a tendency to preach about double cleansing, when in actual fact it’s not right for everybody. If you wear heavy makeup and/or SPF you should definitely be cleansing twice in the evening to ensure your complexion is squeaky clean, but if you suffer with dryness or irritation, wear only a little or no makeup, or simply have a tendency to over scrub, then a singular cleanse may be all you need. If you’re prone to breakouts, acne or rosacea, then definitely stick to a gentle single cleanse.
I come from the generation of women who had to turn their straighteners up to full wack to get them to do anything; but that was before GHDs and scorching temperatures that could practically sever a finger. I’m sure we’re all guilty of using our appliances on the hottest setting, but the most important thing is you apply a heat protection spray so you don’t burn off your tresses – and that you regularly embrace putting down the tools.
Dry shampoos are designed to draw out moisture from the hair and scalp, removing the ‘lank’ feeling that can often occur between washes; however, when overused they can actually remove too much moisture. (Find out more here) Despite that, dry shampoo is one of the biggest must-haves and is used so often that we can’t really remember a time without it. Rather than ditching it or feeling guilty, opt for a lighter and more natural version that won’t clog the hair follicles – your head will be happy, plus you can get those extra minutes in bed.
One of my biggest beauty hates is that inevitable staining when you’ve removed your dark nail polish; what is is about deep reds that leave a mark on your fingers for days to come? We’re told we should always use a base coat in order to provide protection and help to strengthen the nail, but in my experience it really doesn’t make that much difference – especially now many polishes are enriched with ingredients that are supposed to offer a base coat effect anyway. Take my advice and skip this extra step in favour of applying a top coat; at least that may help with longevity!
Every single time I open a new box of hair dye, I whimper at the thought of having to apply it in a two-phased approach; it doubles the time and effort, when all I want to do is chuck it on and get rid of those greys. Although it is better for your hair to apply to the roots for the majority of the time, topping up the rest of your locks in the last few minutes, realistically you won’t overly damage your barnet by chucking on more dye – especially when most of the time it’s already saturated with the same colour. If your priority is those annoying greys, get on with it and then get on with your life.
There’s so much information online about parabens, silicones, sulphates and so on – and even more so about opting for organic or embracing the natural. Although I’m a firm believer in being informed and making purchasing decisions that work for you, you’re not going to die from a bottle of shampoo. (If you think you are, please stop reading the Daily Mail.) If you care passionately about what you put on and in your body, that’s great – but equally if you really couldn’t give a toss that’s absolutely fine too.

Do you worry about any of these beauty ‘mistakes’ creeping into your daily life? Are you fed up of being made to feel like a rubbish woman because you don’t use seven products on your face every morning, or because you go through a bottle of dry shampoo a fortnight?

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