7 Budget Beauty Products You’ve Got to Try

7 Budget Beauty Products You've Got to Try

The say the thrill is the chase and for me that applies to budget beauty products. I enjoy nothing more than a quick trip to Boots or Superdrug, deciding what products to try next and often coming home with a handful of a handful of new launches with change in my pocket. Admittedly the budget beauty sector can be pretty hit and miss – I think as the years roll past (6 years of blogging and counting) there are more hits than misses- but when you do find that hidden gem, you can’t help but feel a little smug. Perhaps it has been a while since you last stopped by a budget beauty counter, or maybe you simply need a little encouragement? Either way, I have 7 products that will impress and don’t cost the earth…

MUA Skin Define Matte Perfect Primer £5 via Superdrug – link.

I have oily skin; I also have acne prone skin. This is not some beautiful equation, rather a nightmare of a combination for sourcing the perfect primer. I need – yes need – something that will not only sop up excess oil and gently blur my enlarged pores, but I also equally need – yes I am that demanding – something that won’t irritate my quick to blemish skin. Admittedly on a budget, up until recently this has been a fairly big task but so far I have been really enjoying MUA Skin Define Matte Perfect Primer. Yes this primer does contain silicones so that it is instantly mattifying and of course smoothing, yet it is oddly lightweight and so far (I’ve been using this daily for close to two weeks) it seems to agree with my quick to react complexion. If you are a fan of blurring type primers (think Benefit Porefessional et al) then this is one to definitely put on the to try this.

7 Budget Beauty Products You've Got to Try

Kiko Heart Shaped Lipstick £6.90 via Superdrug – link

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and as such you may be on the lookout for a red lipstick fit for the main event? Well they don’t come much more suited to such love themed day, than the Kiko Heart Shaped Lipsticks – no your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed a novelty moulded lipstick. Don’t let the fun aspect of this lipstick fool you, as it is indeed a beautiful, moisturising matte formulation that will reached for, long after Valentine’s Day has passed. I have the shade 05 Lively Amaranth – a deep almost red based pink that is slightly vampy, unusual – in that it is not your classic, run of the mill classic red – and yet surprisingly easy to wear.

7 Budget Beauty Products You've Got to Try

Rimmel Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner in Call Me Crazy £3.19/$3.99 via ASOS – link.

If you are looking for a true red – Valentine’s Day related or not – I say skip lipsticks just this once and purchase Rimmel Exaggerate Full Colour Lip Liner in Call Me Crazy. This is the bright, slightly orange toned red that dreams are made of; it brings just about every complexion to life, is long wearing, entirely matte, long wearing and comfortable to wear. It is a complete bargain and your stash, make-up bag and/or coat pocket needs it.

7 Budget Beauty Products You've Got to Try

E.L.F Studio Blush Palette £7.50/$6 via E.L.F – link Continue reading

Do You Struggle Getting Your Eyeliner Straight & Even? You NEED The Beauty Blender Liner Designer!

I had a conversation with a friend the other day which involved muttering the immortal line “does anyone even *wear* khol anymore?” Liquid eyeliner has definitely had its moment over the last couple of years, with statement big winged looks being the makeup skill most desired; it may have started with Sofia Loren, but it’s evolved into something incredibly modern and edgy – it’s the simplest way to finish your look and add a subtle twist to ‘no makeup makeup’. I’m a big fan of the wing, but it’s taken me an age to pick up the skills required to make it half decent: get the angle wrong, the length too big or the symmetry completely wonky and it’s all ruined. How many mornings have you spent trying to even out your liner in the mirror, just for the whole look to keep getting bigger and bigger until you resemble a Winehouse tribute act? Well, if that’s a common issue for you then you simply NEED this little gadget from Beauty Blender in your life – because, *dramatic voice* let me assure you, it will change it.

This unassuming little rubber triangle (rather fetchingly called Beauty Blender Liner Designer and looks closer to a guitar pick than I’d probably like,) can be placed along the base of the lower lid to create the perfect angle for your flick. You simply place it where you need it to go and draw along the edge using your eyeliner pen, paying attention to the length of the flick; because of the texture and material it’s impossible for it to bleed or smudge, leaving behind a clean and sharp line that’s incomparable to what I can achieve freehand. Replicate this on the other side, using the line you’ve already drawn and the residue on the tool (you can see the line on the edge, so you can use that as a guide on the other eye!) to create the most symmetrical pair of wings you’ll have ever seen.

Although it’s a little flimsy piece of plastic, it does come in a case to prevent it from getting dirty or lost – which also features a handy mirror if you need to use one on the go. The Liner Designer is easy to wash by running it under the sink or cleaning with a face wipe, ensuring it’s reusable and probably going to last you for as long as you can find it. At £10.00 it does seem expensive for a little triangle of rubber, but the idea and ease of use makes it thoroughly worth that crisp ten pound note; I honestly don’t know how I used to create flicks without this! If you’re feeling thrifty you could probably create your own or find one on eBay for a fraction of the price, but I’m all over this like a rash. Those little things you never knew you needed eh?

The Beauty Blender Liner Designer is available online, priced from £10.00
Photos by the fabulous Kirsty from fashionforlunch.net

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

The Adult Acne Skincare Survival Kit

The Adult Acne Skincare Survival Kit

A slightly dramatic title, I’ll give you that and I am by no means suggesting that I – nor anyone else – afflicted with acne or any other skin condition for that matter are a lesser person, but let’s face it, some days it does really grind you down. I’ve came to terms that I will never have textbook perfect skin and on the whole I am okay with that; then again there is nothing wrong with trying to improve your complexion should you wish. With that in mind, I do have some staple products that I use regularly – if not daily – that are suited to my often problematic skin needs (with not a hint of Clearasil in sight), no I am not a skincare expert but sometimes the best recommendations do come from those who are fighting the same battle.

The Adult Acne Skincare Survival Kit


I have two staple cleansers that are mostly reserved for when I have an acne flare up, they are both worthy of a space on any bathroom shelf but more so if you find you have blemishes more days, than not. For my morning (or A.M cleanse) I use Murad Time Release Blemish Cleanser as it is non-foaming, blemish specific cleanser that also boasts some anti-ageing properties – an area the beauty market in general seems to neglect, seemingly it seems we all outgrow blemished skin in our teens, which we all know to be wrong. Murad Time Release Blemish Cleanser contains Salicylic Acid to gradually help care, treat and prevent blemishes; to ensure that the complexion is not stripped of moisture, or ever uncomfortable, this cleanser has also been formulated with Amino Acids (anti-ageing) and Hyaluronic Acid (deeply hydrating).

I do frequently wear make-up and although I have no doubt that the Murad Time Release Blemish Cleanser would sufficiently remove even the heaviest of base products, I do prefer to call upon Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser for all my evening cleansing needs. Again this is non-foaming cleanser and as the name suggests, it is mud, which admittedly does take a little getting used to. The bonus is that mud is a natural deep cleanser and often the main competent in many a blemish busting treatment, so along with removing all traces of the day, Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser acts as a daily treatment for problem skin types – rather clever wouldn’t you agree? Cleansing is not all Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser offers, for those like myself who are a little heavy handed and perhaps not entirely comfortable with manual exfoliators (i.e facial scrubs), this daily face-wash-come-treatment contains no less than 5% Glycolic Acid and Avocado Oil (nourishing) for daily, yet gentle removal of dead skin cells. Blemishes or not, everyone needs to try Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser sooner or later