Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Cleansing Rituals

Hello. Oh my goodness, here I am again. I feel like my blogging addiction is becoming worrying, although they say that when you have an addiction the easiest way to overcome it is to find a new one. So perhaps my blogging addiction could in fact replace my makeup purchasing one...I'll write about makeup rather than buy it. This could work well. I can finally start to pay off my overdraft (curse you student account with all of your interest-free goodness that tempts me so!) and finally look at my bank balance again without the feelings of dread and guilt. However as I write I am still thinking about that Chanel bronzer (see first post) and how I really want to re-jig my skincare regime and buy some new, glorious, over-priced lotions and potions for my facial ailments. However it seems like one is able to have more than one addiction at one time (the word 'one' is loving this attention right now) and an addiction that also parallels my inclination for purchasing copious amounts of makeup products is my fixation and, bordering on, obsession with skincare products. Also note clever use of the thesaurus for the term 'addiction' in previous line. But yes, I am an absolute skincare junkie. The key to good makeup is good skin, so it has now come to the point where I will more often than not spend lavish amounts on skincare items before I will invest in makeup. So (finally) coming to the point of this post, as I mentioned above I am thinking of re-jigging my skincare routine just a little bit, I'm thinking a new moisturizer and maybe a toner? But I absolutely adore my current cleansing products and thought I would blog about the two main products I use and why I love them. So hold on to your seats because a blog on how I wash my face is pretty intense stuff. 

OK, so any skincare fanatic will know that there are certain steps that people tend to follow: Cleanse, Tone, Exfoliate, and Moisturize. I am sure there are more steps that can be done (e.g. eye cream) but these are the four main ones. I first got really into skincare about 15 months ago when I developed pretty severe cystic acne and would thus follow these steps religiously. If there was a God of Skincare I would have been going to heaven for sure. And being consistent with your skincare regime is one of the most important things as switching products up constantly and not having patience with your particular routine can actually have worse effects on your skin. So as my skin cleared up (I should note I was put on medication for my acne, which I am now off, but it did change my skin type from very oily to normal/dry) my routine became a lot simpler. I only cleanse and moisturize twice a day. I don't use a toner because of my drier skin although I highly recommend the Lush Tea Tree Water if you have an oilier skin type. And I do gently exfoliate every time I cleanse my skin (which I'll explain later) but I don't use a separate exfoliating product, although a great one for oily skin is Lush Ocean Salt. When I had really oily skin (January 2011 till July 2011) I was a bit of a Lush fanatic. I used their cleansers, toners, exfoliators, moisturizers, eye creams and spot treatment gels. However I soon came to realise that, in all honestly, their products aren't all that fantastic. I found that my skin actually broke out a lot (and not in the good purging way) from using most of their stuff and one product was SO bad that the whole left side of my face looked like a margarita pizza the very next day after applying it. But I shall rise above it and name no names *cough Ultrabland*. But, ranting aside, I did use some amazing products from them and will give credit where credit is due. To this day I am *convinced* that Fresh Farmacy soap helped my skin begin the journey towards recovery. OK, I massively digressed onto divulging my love-hate relationship with Lush but I have moved on from such dark times from when I would sit up late at night looking into a magnified mirror and curse all sorts of rage and hatred upon Lush and their so-called skincare products. But moving on...

The first of the two products I'm going to talk about/review is my cleanser and the second is more of a cleansing tool. The cleanser I use currently is probably one of my absolute holy grail, ' oh my goodness does it get any better than this' product and that is the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. I LOVE this cleanser. Period. (Now I totally know I'm not American, but I must admit it I feel the word 'period' gives my statement much more significance...also I have just realized how I said 'I totally know I'm not American'...maybe I am American?) Anyway this is a must-have product for me; I started using it in April 2011 after a friend recommended it to me and gave me the starter kit to try out (containing a mini cleanser, toner and two moisturizers). Now at the time I thanked her for the gift but in my head thought 'Yeah right, I am not going to stop using Lush! That would be crazy of me' and then I put the little set in my drawer and continued to use my Lush stuff. Well I think it must have been a couple of weeks later when I started noticing reviews for the Liz Earle cleanser EVERYWHERE. The reviews where glittering all across the internet and sparkling in every magazine. So I thought I would give it a try. Now the reason I didn't start using it right away when my friend gave it to me was because I was (and still am) sceptical of trying new skincare products in case they react badly with my skin and I end up in a worse place than before, but I thought that this product had such great reviews that it couldn't possibly go wrong and it didn't! (Although if you've read my previous post an overly hyped product isn't always what it's cracked up to be). The cleanser comes with a muslin cloth which helps allow for a deeper cleansing of the skin and offers a light exfoliation as well. I started to see results with this cleanser in a matter of weeks. And by a couple of months my acne had significantly improved and my skin was much less oily. I continued to use this product despite my skin type changing from very oily to very dry (due to medication) and it still worked wonders on my skin, my skin was feeling so much softer. Although when my skin was at its driest I found that using a muslin cloth twice a day was too much so for a while I only used a muslin cloth at night and would just rub the cleanser into my face with my hands in the morning. 

Well I still use it now and my skin type leans much more towards normal than dry. However about a month ago I was having a bit of a skin crisis. I think this was a combination of stress and being taken off acne medication...this was now the first time in 5-6 years that I hadn't been using any spot treatment as I had been on roaccutane for 7 months previously, been on antibiotics for 2 years before that, and I had been using a prescribed acne cream for 3 years before those. So this was the first time in years that I was using absolutely nothing that directly fought acne, so during my little crisis I decided to take the plunge and splurge on a Clarisonic Mia. Now if you're a beauty addict you will know all about this little device and how it is praised. But you will also know that it costs a bank-balance-crushing, £120. But I was convinced that you get what you pay for and that this would pay off. Now my Liz Earle cleanser with a muslin cloth had done wonders for my skin and my active acne, however what it could not do was tackle the problem of my acne scarring. The cystic acne I had once had was long gone but while the battle with cystic acne had been a victory for me, my spots got the last laugh by leaving pretty bad scarring behind. I have a lot of pits on the skin and a lot of hyper-pigmentation also. So a cream cleanser and a cloth alone were not going to be able to reduce these battle-wounds and with that I gulped, apologized to my online bank account, swore never to admit the price to my mother (thankfully she has perfect skin and would never think a glorified toothbrush for the face would be that I'm in the clear for now) and I hit 'go to check-out' and hoped for the best. OK, so when I got my Clarisonic I was so excited to use it, it was like I was 9 years old and it was Christmas morning. Well very much like many of my Christmas mornings, I open the box, my body fills with happiness, only to find out that it needs to be charged for 24hrs before its first use. Emotions of happiness now replaced with irritation and disappointment (and the odd curse word). My once beloved muslin cloth was now looked at with complete apathy. I was planning on using something better tonight but you'll have to do won't you? (more cursing directed towards Clarisonic, and all electronic devices of my childhood for that matter, of course). But yes I charged it and used it the next evening instead and I loved it from the get go with my Liz Earle. My skin felt so much cleaner, my skin even looked glowing. Although this may be because I had read a review online in which the author stated that her skin glowed from the first use and, after spending so much money, I just had to see it. But the results did show. After about 2 weeks I had noticed that my acne scarring had faded quite a lot and that my skin just looked and felt a lot better. I of course had a purging session in these first two weeks but the spots that came about were eradicated by the Clarisonic over-night. My skin was improving and I was feeling absolutely delighted with my purchase...

However, disaster struck. I had been using my Clarisonic Mia twice a day for about 3.5 weeks and one night as I was sitting drinking a cup of tea, eating chocolate digestives and watching beauty video after beauty video on YouTube, my complete state of bliss was interrupted as I felt like my face was just a little greasy and after having 8 months of normal/dry skin I was a bit confused. I needed to get this makeup off my face. So I got a wipe and felt a hundred times better. I used my Clarisonic as usual and went to bed and put my weird grease incident to the back of my mind. Woke up the next morning with what seemed like a layer of oil on my face. I quickly rushed to the bathroom mirror and saw HUGE holes all over my face. My skin looked atrocious and I felt atrocious. I went back to my bedroom and thought of what it could be and despite not wanting to admit that my beautiful and, more importantly, (insert expletive) expensive Clarisonic could do this to my skin, I knew it had to be. Well I trawled through the Internet looking for negative views on the Clarisonic and let me tell you now that's difficult. Every review seemed better than the last, but I finally located a few different reviews which had something bad to say. And what they described hit home. Cleansing twice a day with the Clarisonic seemed to have enlarged my pores and made my skin feeling a lot oilier than it had been before. I was devastated. However that day I just cleansed with my hands and the very next day my skin was already feeling better and looking better. So whilst the Clarisonic seemed to have done wonders for my skin, it was apparent that twice a day was too much. I have now decided to cut down my use of the device to once a week until my skin has recovered. I am still in love with the device and amazed at how my acne scarring now looks, but using it too often led to over-exfoliation of the skin and thus over-sized pores and oil production ensued. So word of warning, the Clarisonic is a lot more intense than it looks! 

You can breathe a sigh of relief as I think I will end this blog post here. To summarize, Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish is an absolute star (also I should just mention that it retails for approx. about £12 per 100ml). I would recommend this to anyone and everyone! The Clarisonic Mia however I will have to get back to you on that one. I love it for what it has done to my acne scarring but loath it for what it has done to my pores. But if using it less often helps to create a balance behind rapid acne scar fading and causing pores to become the size of France, I will forgive it.


Monday, 26 March 2012

Concealers & Correctors

Hello. Here we go, whilst my first post seemed like the ramblings of a makeup addict in serious need of some sleep, my second post has the potential to actually say something coherent and even helpful. The first task, which I am now going to refer to as 'My Makeup Missions' (aha GCSE English Language, I did learn. Alliteration for the win.), is going to be a concealer comparison. I suffer from very bad dark circles, or in the language of my fellow youth, my dark circles be cray-cray. But seriously, the situation down there is not good. I'm not sure if it's a combination of genetics (which would be unfortunate), somewhat unconventional sleeping patterns (see last post) or due to being a student and by definition always tired (lazy?) and therefore I just cannot help it. Anyway, I have only noticed the magnitude of these dark circles in recent months and since February I have been trying out various concealers, some good, some terrible and some, unfortunately, fail their namesake quite horribly. (Note to self: Invest in a good thesaurus for next post, the word 'unfortunate' has been utilized 3 times already. Limited vocabulary of blogger is beginning to show. Although award 1 bonus point for use of word 'utilized' rather than 'used'...well done.) As I say I have tried out a lot of concealers recently but I'm going to talk about 3 here; Mac Studio Finish Concealer (shade: NW20), Bobbi Brown Corrector (shade: Bisque) and Soap&Glory Kick-Ass Concealer (shade: Light). I'll actually start with, what is possibly one of the biggest makeup fails during my time as an addict, the Soap&Glory concealer.

Soap&Glory Kick-Ass Concealer:
I had read a few reviews of this concealer online before I had decided to pick it up from Boots. It retails at £10, so although not one of the most expensive concealers on the market (I'm looking at you Bobbi Brown!) is quite a sizable amount of money. But I looked at it as an investment, 'it will finally cure my seemingly incurable under eyes' I so desperately thought. The concealer is actually a 3-in-1 thingamabob (technical term), it has one yellow-based concealer for concealing spots and blemishes, one salmon-toned concealer (more accurate word would be corrector) for correcting under-eye dark circles and then a powder to set everything. However as soon as I opened it I should have known this was going to be a bit of a disaster, I gently pressed my finger into the salmon coloured corrector to test the consistency and * RAMBUNCTIOUSNESS* it was all over the place. It was almost so creamy that it could only be described as messy. Although I gave it the benefit of the doubt and blamed myself (you even had me doubting myself Soap&Glory, not on) for prodding it too harshly and thought I'd better just put it under my eye and see what happened. Ooh no, the orangey-pink mess that I once stared at disbelievingly in the pot was now on my face. Great. Although remembering the wise words of makeup gurus everywhere I chanted to myself, 'Blend, Blend, Blend'. But it just blended away. No coverage. No colour correcting miracles. Nope. Although after a few days I attempted to apply it again and whilst application wasn't as messy, it barely lasted 2 hours before it faded completely. I was so excited to try this makeup line being an absolute devotee to the Soap&Glory skincare line, but unfortunately this product did anything but 'kick-ass' (cheesy, but it needed to be done).

Despite the failures of the previous concealer I decided that the theory behind colour correction made sense, that is, many makeup artists feel that the best way to cover up blueish dark circles is to colour correct with a pink, salmon toned corrector. So it was not the theory that was wrong but the quality of the product, I needed to go for something more expensive. So as I made my way down to London I mourned my long lost £10 to the previous concealing attempt and made my way to the so long awaited Bobbi Brown counter. I should probably point out that I was visiting London with my mother and was not going drastically out of my way to locate the next correcting makeup miracle...although if you've got this far into my blog-post, I'm sure that wouldn't have surprised you anyway. I had heard so much about this one, it was the corrector to correct all problems. I would be dark circle-less. I would be happy. I would find inner enlightenment. This seems unlikely of course, but the reviews of this product were flawless. Just as flawless as I expected my under eyes to be.

Bobbi Brown Corrector: 

I didn't open the item until I had returned from London the next day, although the day of purchase had been a beautiful day filled with hope and (what turned out to be naive) optimism. This had set me back £17 but I was fine with that, I remember quoting the film Confessions of a Shopaholic to myself, "Cost and Worth are very different things. You want your scarf, I want my hot-dog". This would be so worth it. So I return from London and I try it out. First impressions are 'oh this colour is PERFECT for correcting dark circles' and 'the consistency of this is miles better than that last one, take that Soap&Glory'. But as I applied it to my under eyes (I apply my concealers using my ring finger and then gently dabbing it into the under-eye area, I then take a Mac 224 blending brush and blend it into the skin), it didn't seem to be reducing the appearance of those shadowy circles at all, if anything it seemed like it was drawing MORE attention to them. My dark circles were mocking me at this point, testing me. They thought they were in-concealable. And after splurging £17 on a high-end, raved about, holy grail product, I was starting to agree with them. (This has become much more of a drama than I had first planned, I have somehow become the burdened victim and my under-eye circles have become completely personified as some kind of evil nemesis. I think I have taken the review too far into the depths of my imagination, which til this point I had assumed had long since taken a vacation after essay upon essay on creative writing in school). However this was not the worst result of this product, I found that by applying more I could build up enough product to finally cover those wretched circles. But of course, this made the concealer crease and set into fine lines. A lot. *cries* However, I paid £17 for this. I was going to make it work. So a few trial and errors later I finally was able to apply enough product to cover my dark circles yet only create minimal creasing (this product creases on me no matter what, usually about 5 minutes after I applied it. Although slap on some eyeshadow under the lash line and lashing of mascara on the bottom lashes and a little bit of creasing is not that noticeable). But despite my best efforts, this product only lasted a maximum of 2 (maybe 3 if I am being generous) hours before my dark circles reared their shadowy faces, which were now sporting salmon coloured crease lines. And to top it all off it's only 1.7g of product. Fortunately Bobbi Brown do not need my repurchase of this product as it is one of the most successful colour correcting concealers on the market. I was beginning to feel like I might have to get used to my dark circles because they were not going away as easily as I had hoped. 

And hurrah! I am now onto the third and FINAL concealer. Now as I have said I had only really noticed my dark circles within the past couple of months, so it could either be one of two things: I had just recently developed bad dark circles in the year 2012 OR I had always had such beasts but for some reason never really took any notice of them...but looking at them now, I highly doubt I would ever have been able to live in ignorant bliss of these bad boys. 

                                         Mac Studio Finish Concealer:
Throughout the whole of 2011 I had only used one concealer and that was Mac's Studio Finish Concealer. So the logic in my head went as such: Mac concealer in 2011, no notice of or knowledge of dark circles in the under eye area in 2011, maybe try Mac concealer in 2012 and dark circles will...disappear? Logic seemed about right. So after many a concealer later I went back to Mac to get my good, old trusty concealer. (Note: I use the shade NW20 because it has more of a pink undertone to it and pink cancels out blue circles). And I wish I could say, "WOO! DARK CIRCLES ARE GONE". But alas, whilst this concealer is the BEST I have tried. It still requires a lot of product and definitely fades within 4-5 hours of wear. But still it has 7g of product and is priced at £13.50, so compared to the Bobbi Brown one it is great value. As I say, I bought my first pot of this back in January 2011 and didn't finish it until January 2012.

To summarize;

Soap&Glory Kick-Ass Concealer:

Pros - Comes with a yellow-toned face concealer and a setting powder as well as the corrector.
Cons - Very messy to work with, (severely) lacks pigmentation, little to no staying power, relatively expensive.

Bobbi Brown Corrector:

Pros - For me there were no pros with this product. HOWEVER, it is an incredibly popular product and has got rave reviews from nearly everyone, so while it doesn't hurt to be cautious before investing in this, I am only one of the few that has had bad experiences with this.
Cons - Extremely small amount of product, very expensive (esp. regarding the size), creases.

Mac Studio Finish Concealer:

Pros - Decent pigmentation, large amount of product, price is fair with respect to the size, would cover minimal/normal dark circles. (Another MASSIVE pro for this would be that it is probably the best concealer on the market for concealing blemishes on the face. It is very thick and covers beautifully on the face)
Cons - Doesn't seem to last on very dark under-eye area.

OK, so that was quite a bit longer than I had anticipated. But there we go! In conclusion, the search for the concealer which will cover my dark circles continues! However I am happy with the Mac one for now! Lets hope  my next blog post is a little (cough cough a lot) shorter. I am thinking of doing a similar comparison but with bronzers next as it is spring and oh so close to summer and it is therefore time for those golden powders to be wiped clean of the dust and ready for daily use all over again! Although I am still feeling the need to overuse commas in every paragraph, hopefully this comma OCD will diminish soon before my next post. I will make sure to purchase a book on grammar along with my thesaurus.


I'm Kiera and I'm a shopaholic...

Hello. It is currently 5.14am and I am in bed tossing and turning. I just don't know what to do. What should I do? Should I go for it or should I just wait for a while, who knows. Hmm. No...I just can't! I am not going to buy Chanel's Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Base tomorrow in town...and that's as deep as this blog gets really. I am a complete makeup addict, a beauty enthusiast, a skincare buff and a fashion aficionado...well the last one is more of an aspiration than a current self-description. Beauty seems to be much simpler and easier to follow than its glamorous cousin, Fashion. But you never know, an obsession for Chanel can start with a £29 bronzer but escalate to a £10,000 suit...although for my sake lets hope not! That bronzer is actually starting to sound quite affordable after that little comparison. Well done Kiera, another makeup purchase justified, success! I feel like this blog is going to put my A in GCSE English Language to the test, so far I'm thinking too many commas, but we'll see. I suppose the aim of this blog is really to eat, breathe and live makeup. I want to review makeup from Mac to L'Oreal and Bobbi Brown to Collection 2000, talk about some of my absolute holy grail products as well as some of the worst purchases I have ever made. I will possibly venture over to the oh so complicated world of fashion as well. I have faith in myself that that (fabulous) day will come, despite buying a copy of Vogue every other month and convincing myself that this will be the month that I finally understand the world of high fashion. But for now lets start with the makeup, at least I know for a fact that I can apply makeup to my face and that my makeup will get used, unlike the ever-growing stack of dusty Vogue magazines under my bedroom table. So yes, I am writing this blog so I can talk about makeup freely and openly without the look of judgement from my family or the sigh from my friends as I try and explain to them why I need 20 brown eyeshadows. So here I go, off into the world of blogging. I'm not even sure who is going to be able to read this/who would want to read a blog about why I need 20 brown eyeshadows and an overpriced bronzer, but who knows?

Kiera xoxo