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Latest Purchases #92 – A Birchbox Haul

I was looking to up my skincare routine now that the weather is getting colder and the heating is on. I suffer from quite dry skin in the winter so looked to the Birchbox website for a couple of new items to try out. Of course, my search for skincare soon led to other things and before I knew it, a large box had arrived on my doorstep full of goodies, followed by a second order using the free shopping points I had earned from the first one!

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First up, the two items I actually needed: moisturising cream.

I bought this jar of Aquaporin Plus by Bluemandarínes, a 24-hour hydrating cream. I always think a glass jar adds a little bit of luxury and this cream is rich yet sinks into the skin quickly and has a beautiful, delicate floral scent. I think this would work as a day or night cream.

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I also picked up a jar of Melting Moisturising Cream by Akane. Upon further reading, this brand uses the Akane red apple tree from Japan which has antioxidant properties and is perfect for normal to dehydrated skin. Whilst also quite a thick, rich cream, this has an almost matte finish which I think makes it perfect for use in the morning before makeup.

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On the few occasions that I wear my hair straight, I have been struggling with some fine, wispy pieces of hair that seem to want to curl up again so I was after some light hairspray that would hold these flyaway hairs down without a heavy, sticky feeling. Montibel·lo is a good haircare brand and I bought their Flexible Hold Finishing Spray. It sounds like exactly what I’m looking for and this huge bottle should last me a while!

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I really like the brand Weleda and their all-natural approach but I had a few hit and miss products from them this time. The one I loved was the Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash which smells amazing and is just a really lovely shower gel.

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I also picked up the Oat Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner which I’m just not a fan of. The shampoo was fine and I will use that up but the conditioner was so thick and heavy and it left my hair really matted and unmanageable.

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Finally, I earned enough points to splurge on a luxury product I just love. At £28 for a little 30ml bottle it isn’t cheap but the Make Up Base by RMK is amazing. This milky formula sinks into the skin so quickly and leaves you with a soft, flawless base. I use this base with glowy and matte foundations and it really helps them last. I first tried this as a sample through Birchbox and it was only when it ran out that I realised how much I love it and it has actually replaced my silicone-based primers like Benefit POREfesstional as it feels much kinder to my skin.

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Overall, a pretty successful haul and I’m hoping my skin thanks me for it! x

Beauty Review – October Birchbox

I thought I’d better get my Birchbox review for this month done before November rolls around!

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This month, I had the choice between the Stylist Guest Editor Box or the Back to Basics Box. I had a quick look at the contents of each and there was one product that swayed it for me…

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The Back to Basics Box contained a bottle of Seche Vite, my holy grail topcoat that I have only just run out of. I thought it would save me an online order plus postage to choose the box with a fresh bottle inside so I opted for this sleek navy Birchbox.

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As well as the bottle of Seche Vite, it contained several ‘beauty essentials’ for eyes, hair, teeth and face.

First up, a duo from the brand Beaver (snigger…)

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I received a moisturising shampoo and matching conditioner which my dyed hair is always in need of.

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Next, a tube of toothpaste from Regenerate. Not something I can get too excited about but useful nonetheless.

From Eyeko, I got the Fat Liquid Eyeliner in Black. Now, this is a brand that people have raved about ever since the Alexa Chung collaboration but I just don’t see the fuss with their eyeliners! I don’t find the black to be dark enough and the staying power on me is poor.

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I am always open to having my mind changed though so will give this eyeliner a go however on first impressions, it seems rather chunky to get that thin, cat-eye flick I like.

Last of all, a mini bottle of Bioderma. I usually use the pink one (for sensitive skin) but this is the Hydrabio H20 which claims to have more hydrating qualities for dull, dry skin. I don’t find a huge amount of difference between the two but both are lovely to use and great at removing make-up from the skin quickly.

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Overall, a pretty good box this month. I was going to buy another bottle of Seche Vite anyway so I’m glad that was included and the rest of the items are all interesting to trial.

Hand Luggage Beauty

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I feel like I really got it right with my carry-on make-up bag on our recent trip to the States. My skin suffers on a longer flight and rather than spend the first few days of my holiday battling with parched skin, I decided to try a few in-flight treatments that meant I landed feeling fresh and ready to go.

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I used my Birchbox clear plastic bag as it meant I could see everything, it was small (so I couldn’t overpack!) and it met the airport security requirements.

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First up, handcare. I always carry a little bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel and the scented ones from Bath and Body Works are my favourite. To give a little moisture, I am currently loving this Subtle Violet hand cream from L’Occitane.

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In terms of skincare, I didn’t bring any sort of cleanser as we had an early morning flight and I wasn’t wearing any foundation or base product. During the flight, I applied several layers of REN’s Instant Firming Beauty Shot, a great little serum and I had a few blemishes, so used Balance Me’s Congested Skin Serum too. This Vitamin E Face Mist from the Body Shop is a must-have holiday product for me as it is amazing at administering a cooling, refreshing blast in the heat and I like to spritz my face after a few hours on the plane when the air starts to feel a bit stale. I also popped in a travel-sized bottle of Benefit’s Dream Screen so I had some SPF to hand when we landed in the sunshine.

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Finally, some lip products. I applied the Body Shop Lip Butter constantly and brought two lip options for when we landed – a L’Oreal nude lip and a Bourjois statement lip depending on how I felt.

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Latest Purchases #88 – Sephora Haul

Possibly the visit I was most looking forward to making whilst we were in America, I had a list and was a woman on a mission when I went to Sephora in Georgetown, Washington! I am so surprised this store hasn’t made it to the UK but I think that just makes it a little bit more special when you do get to visit one. I picked up a range of make-up and beauty items, some I had been lusting after for a while and others I grabbed on a whim. I also bought two lipsticks which have gone missing since returning home…I’m still hoping they will turn up one day soon!

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First up, a little bottle of Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray that I bought as a present for Ian. I don’t use anything like this in my hair but I’m told this stuff is the best so like the good wife that I am, I popped one in my basket.

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Next, a bronzer from Sephora’s own make-up range in the shade Aruba. This formula has some serious shimmer so gives a lovely glow when used. It is quite dark but with a light hand, gives a beautiful golden sun-kissed look.

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I had to pick up another one of the Instant Nail Polish Removers when I saw it. It is one of the best I have used and my nail varnish was so badly chipped, I used it as soon as we got back to our hotel room! I was toying with this and the ‘white chocolate’ version from Ciate but it was such a tiny pot for the same price, I thought the Sephora one would last a bit longer.

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Next, a Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in the shade Trooper. I had been after one of these eyeliners for so long and they are raved about in the beauty world. I have used this a couple of times and am pretty impressed. The staying power is the best I have seen in a liquid eyeliner. My only complaint is that it isn’t as deep a black as I was expecting but you can build up the colour quite easily. The tip is really unique too – very fine but you can get a thick or thin line from it. I now wish I had picked up a couple of other items from her line as the packaging seems just as beautiful as the products.

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A bit of a less glamorous purchase now – deodorant! I have read a lot lately about how harmful aerosol deodorants can be so decided to try a more natural version and see how I get on. I had read recommendations for the Pure Vanilla Healthy Deodorant from LaVanila so picked up a stick.

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I picked up these Sephora Sleeping Masks for gifts and really wish I had bought myself one too!

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Next, a cleansing oil to try out from Boscia (another one recommended by beauty bloggers). I use these type of cleansers every evening and keep finding gems so hopefully this one will prove as good!

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One reason I love/ hate Sephora is how easy they make it for you to spend more than you had planned! I wanted to try out the First Aid Beauty Radiance Pads (a favourite of Lily Pebbles) but when I saw this lovely kit with their Face Cleanser and Ultra Repair Cream included, I decided to try out a bit more from the range.

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A real treat now from Tarte. Their Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blushers are raved about but quite pricey. After not buying one the last time I was on holiday, I decided to try out the shade Tipsy, a gorgeous bright coral-pink shade. I also love products that are embossed and this pretty jungle path means I will be really reluctant to use it too much!

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I have saved the best for last as this was the purchase I was most excited about trying. I love the ‘Sephora Favourites’ boxes where they select the best items from different brands based on a theme such as ‘bronzers’ (which I have bought in the past). I picked up the ‘Time to Prime’ box which contains a variety of amazing primers. Included is a Formula X Base Coat, an Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, an Urban Decay Subversion Lash Primer, a Smashbox 24-Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer, a Bite Beauty Line and Define Lip Primer and a Living Proof Prime Style Extender for Hair. I think you’ll agree, this is a pretty awesome collection!

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Beauty Review – August Birchbox

I have to admit that I only really opened this month’s Birchbox and had a play this week – I think I have just been having too much fun testing out all the goodies I bought in America recently!

After last month’s contents arriving in a make-up bag, we are back to a box this month and what a pretty one it is…

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Covered in little beauty emojis, there was also a pack of stickers of the same design inside.

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Here was my first look at the beauty items:

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First up a Rice Scrub from Rituals. I have been wanting to try something from this brand and love a good scrub. This one has organic rice milk and cherry blossom from it so sounds less harsh than a lot of exfoliators on the market.

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Next, a clarifying shampoo from Kebelo. Although I don’t use a huge amount of products on my hair, my Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo has found its way into my weekly ritual and I love the squeaky clean feeling it gives my hair. I’m keen to try out another brand’s version.

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I also received a pale grey Grab & Go Ponytail Holder from L. Erickson. Now, I would never pay almost £12 for a hair tie but this feels very soft and is meant to avoid snagging. I have to say it looks a little chunky for someone with quite short hair but always handy to have in my handbag.

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A Cleansing Water next from BioNike. I hadn’t heard of this brand before but like that this looks very delicate and soothing on the face. I always use these type of products to remove my make up so a welcome addition for me.

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Finally, two make-up items. I love The Balm Cosmetics, especially their retro packaging. I use their blushers so was pleased to see a bronzer. I know it’s only a sample but it isn’t the best size for a bronzer given that I like to apply mine with a very large, fluffy brush – I would have preferred another one of their lovely blushers but I found this also looks lovely as a golden-brown matte eyeshadow.

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I had another multi-use product from Lord and Berry in their blusher in the shade Lotus. When I opened the box, I was really disappointed in the cheap packaging. The colour looks nice and although isn’t the most pigmented, it is very silky to apply. I like that this can be used as a blusher or eyeshadow…I just need to find a better way to store it as I really dislike the plastic case!

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I’m not blown away by this month’s Birchbox and am probably the most excited about trying out the shampoo which isn’t exactly riveting. However, I have noticed there is a great sale on their website at the moment and I happen to have racked up a lot of points to spend so that’s practically free make-up! x

Beauty Review – July Birchbox

Hello and Happy Saturday! I am on my third load of pre-holiday laundry today and have spent the morning booking the final few travel bits and bobs ready for our American adventure on Monday (2 more sleeps!) – it has come around so quickly that it almost helps me forget that this time next week I will be 30!

I nearly missed reviewing this month’s Birchbox but have managed to find an hour or so before Ian’s parents arrive later this afternoon to squeeze in a quick blog post.

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Not so much a Birchbox this month but more of a Birchbag – I received my monthly goodies in this jazzy yellow plastic clutch. I actually quite like this, especially the little leather pouch inside. There were four colours of this bag and the yellow one is inspired by my home county of Somerset which feels quite fitting!

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Here was my first look in the bag (and as you can see, you can squeeze quite a bit of stuff inside it!)

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As expected, the July Birchbox has a holiday focus which is fine with me as we are going away and my travel make-up bag for the States consists mainly of Birchbox samples!

First up, Benefit Dream Screen. I have used this sunscreen before and am very happy with another tube. It has SPF 45 and is a matte finish to avoid the usual shine sunscreen can give – a very handy size to pop in my handbag.

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A tube of Unani Aloe Vera Body Treatment next. Useful as an after-sun product but not something to get overly excited about.

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I also received the Congested Skin Serum from Balance Me. I like this brand and look forward to using this.

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The whole Beauty Blender trend is still going strong and I got this sponge from Barely. I have to say I prefer applying my base with a brush rather than one of these sponges but this one seems to be a bit smaller and has a point on it which looks perfect for setting concealer around the eye area – I may need to give these another go.

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A handcream next from Cowshed. This smells amazing and is something I like to keep on my desk or bedside table for regular application.

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Finally, a make-up item from POP Beauty, a brand I haven’t heard of before. I received this mini trio of eyeshadows in Peach Parfait. They complement each other well and are the exact shades I love to wear. The lightest one is a bit too shimmery for me but the pink and bronze shade are ones I would use. I wish companies would just stop including the foam applicators now – does anyone use these anymore?!

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Overall not a bad monthly offering but not the most exciting either. I think my favourite items are the Benefit face cream and the Balance Me serum but I am looking forward to testing out the eyeshadows too.

Latest Purchases #83 – A Mini Body Shop Haul

Hello! This week has been boiling hot and I have also had a horrible cold so spent the last few days feeling generally rubbish. Thankfully, it is much cooler today (but still sunny!) and after an early night, I seem to be able to breathe again. I even managed to do a spot of baking this afternoon.

Today, I wanted to share a mini haul that recently arrived from the Body Shop. I had my eye on these items and waited for one of their fab sales to save a few pounds and ease the guilt!

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First up, the Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter.

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I have fallen in love with their Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil so thought I would give this solid version a go as I have been known to get the oil all down my bathroom shelf…the pump on it can be perilous! I’m sure it’s me and not the packaging but I thought this solid balm would be an interesting one to try.

Next, I blogged recently about wanting a daily moisturiser with a decent SPF to use on holiday. I was using one from L’Oreal but did a classic and managed to drop it all over my bedroom floor/ mirror/ wall/ slippers/ washing basket…yeah, that was fun to clear up! I received some recommendations for this Vitamin C Daily Moisturiser from the Body Shop and was so pleased when I saw it had SPF 30. I like this range – it reminds me of a bargain version of the Origins GinZing moisturiser and it will definitely be going in my travel washbag!

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A repurchase next – I love this serum from Body Shop’s Vitamin E range. Whilst I like trying new brands, this is probably my 3rd or 4th tube of this serum and one that is an oldie but a goodie!

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Finally, I picked up a little tub of their Elderflower Eye Gel – I think I was trying to spend enough to get free delivery but this seems like it will be perfect for puffy eyes, especially in this warmer weather.

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Beauty Review – June Birchbox

I for one am so happy it’s Friday! It has been a tiring week and I find myself sat on the sofa with a beer watching the Glastonbury highlights as the rain pours outside…the weather is definitely helping my festival jealousy as I’ve done Glasto in torrential rain before!

I received my June Birchbox earlier in the month and was looking forward to its arrival as I was given the option of its design and opted for a chic Parisian nautical style. I really like it when I am contacted by Birchbox prior to delivery to state my preference on a product or design.

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This month’s theme is ‘Step Outdoors’ with a nod to spending more time outside in the sunshine whether that is in the park, at a festival or a BBQ. Birchbox have collaborated with French Sole who do such lovely ballet pumps and subscribers had the opportunity to buy some of these limited edition shoes through the Birchbox website.

Anyway, here is my first look inside the box:

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First of all a French Sole ‘shoe bag’. I can’t say a shoe bag is high on my list of priorities but this is a lovely wipe-clean design that I think makes it a perfect wash bag for a night away.

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A perfume next by high-end fragrance house Penhaligon’s. I received the scent Iris Prima which is inspired by the English National Ballet. This is a grower on me – I wasn’t keen at first but after a few minutes, the strong muskiness fades to a soft, sweet vanilla. A good one for the handbag but I don’t think I would buy a full-sized bottle for £85.

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Who doesn’t like trying out a new mascara?! This one is from ModelCo and looks to be a good black mascara with a chunky brush.

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I hadn’t heard of this next brand, HIP, an all-natural French hair care brand. This shampoo sounds similar to the Sunday Shampoo I love from Bumble and Bumble with the aim to refresh your hair and scalp.

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A decent-sized product next from one of my favourite beauty brands, Balance Me. I received their Super Moisturising Body Wash which smells amazing. This is a creamy shower gel which feels really moisturising – great if you’re in a rush in the mornings and don’t have time to moisturise!

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I love REN products but haven’t tried this particular one. The Instant Firming Beauty Shot, sounds a great boost for skin that’s looking a bit tired – it is actually described as ‘an espresso shot for the face’ which I am definitely in need of some days!

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The final item is a fun summery one. I really like these metallic tattoos from STYLondon – I’m going out in Bath on Saturday night so if I remember, I may wear one!

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No amazing stand-out products but a decent box this month. I think I am most looking forward to trying out the REN face serum although I have been hoarding all these samples for the past few months ready for my travel bag when we go to America so have lots to get through! x

Beauty Review – New Day and Night Creams

I love matching items – lingerie, shampoo and conditioner…it just makes me feel like I’ve got my life in order and there’s also a weird part of me that thinks that matching beauty products will work better as they have their ‘other half’ there! Ridiculous I know.

So when I needed new moisturisers for both morning and evening, I opted for two items from the same team: Team L’Oréal.

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Recently, my skin has been ridiculously dry and I had these really attractive dry patches on my cheeks so I wanted something really moisturising to get my skin back to normal and to make my make-up look better too. My other aim alongside the moisture boost was a decent SPF now that the weather is improving and I’m spending more time outside.

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I picked up the Revitalift Day Cream which offers SPF30 plus UVA and UVB protection. After opening it, I realised it was aimed at slightly more mature skin than mine with the usual anti-wrinkle and firming claims. I kind of have two opinions on this moisturiser. When I first started using it on my very dry skin, it was amazing. Within a week, my skin was feeling less parched and the dry patches were gone. I usually find creams with SPF in them to be quite greasy and not great under foundation but this worked fine for me.

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However, as soon as my skin was back to normal, I found this moisturiser too rich. It started to take longer to sink in and left me feeling a bit greasy. I now realise that it just isn’t the right formula for me to use on a daily basis BUT it is a great one to keep in my stash for when my skin is looking and feeling a bit dehydrated.

The night cream was a bit more of a hit and the one that I would repurchase again. Triple Active Night comes in a lovely blue glass jar and is a rich and creamy pink colour that feels luxurious enough for a night cream yet sinks in quickly. I also love the fact that I can almost feel it on my skin the next morning – not in a greasy residue kind of way, but there is a definite feeling of softness and plumpness to my skin.

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So, two high street moisturisers that each have their benefits. However, I am still on the lookout for a good everyday moisturiser with SPF so please let know any recommendations! x

Beauty Review – Two New Foundations

I popped into Boots recently for a new foundation and ended up coming away with two that are opposite ends of the spectrum; a long lasting matte-effect foundation from L’Oreal and a glowy, dewy affair from Maxfactor.

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First up the matte one. I bought L’Oreal’s Infallible 24H-Matte foundation in the shade Natural Rose. This is not the usual look I go for with my foundation but my skin can get quite shiny towards the end of the day so I thought I would try a matte formula and see if that would combat the shine.

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The colour match to my skin on this one is good and the formula is nice. It is silicone-based so spreads easily onto the skin and has a powder-like finish. I found this foundation to last well (although not the 24-hours as claimed on the tube!) and it definitely controlled the shine. I did find I had to prep my skin well with a good primer otherwise it did settle on and cling to any dry patches. Overall, a decent introduction into the world of matte foundations but I will save this for when my skin isn’t as dry.

Next, Maxfactor’s Skin Luminizer foundation in the shade Warm Almond. Now this is more my territory – I love a dewy base and I’ve had my eye on this product for a while.

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The tube has a swirl of ‘skin luminizers’ within although it does mix and come out of the pump as one colour. I thought this would have very light coverage but I would class it as medium and a very creamy formula that you can build up. It almost feels moisturising on the skin but, like the matte foundation, did cling to my dry patches so a good primer is needed too. However, it does create a glow on the face and gives a fresh, luminous finish – I’m a fan!

So, two new ‘chalk ‘n’ cheese’ drugstore foundations that are in rotation for when I want a matte or glowy base…have you tried either of these? x