Beauty Advent Calendars – Day 1-4 highlights

It’s only 4th December but I’ve already had some fantastic items in my beauty advent calendars. As a reminder, I went for the M&S calendar and the LookFantastic calendar – neither have all cruelty free items but the majority in both are. Here’s some highlights so far…

2016 Advent Calendar Highlights: Days 1-4
2016 Advent Calendar Highlights: Days 1-4

Pixi Glow Tonic – Day 1 in LookFantastic calendar was a teeny tiny 15ml bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic. In my nighttime skincare I alternate between this and the Freedom Glycolic Radiance Tonic (both of which I love) so this will be really handy to take with me when I’m travelling.

Inika Loose Mineral Blush (Blooming Nude) – I’ve heard a lot of good things about Inika so was delighted to receive this full sized loose mineral blush in Blooming Nude for Day 3 in my LookFantastic calendar. I’ve never tried a loose powder blush and confess I had to search Youtube to find out how to use it! You only need a tiny bit of product but it gives a lovely natural flush which lasts all day. I don’t tend to wear blush every day but this is lovely and not too ‘made up’ so I’ve worn it today and yesterday over my usual CC cream. It’s £21 so not cheap, but I think it will last ages. Great value for an advent calendar item!

This Works Sleep Plus+ Pillow Spray – I have tried this before but got out of the habit of using it. My sleeping pattern is terrible at the moment (it often is!) so getting this in Day 4 of the LookFantastic calendar was a welcome item. I have a slightly earlier than usual start tomorrow so will be trying to wind down early tonight and using this to help me sleep. I’ve included the link to the 75ml spray which is the best value way of buying this, but if you want to try it out first there are plenty of gift sets available which include the smaller sizes like I got.

Pixi Brow Tamer (Translucent) – This was one of the items that I was particularly looking forward to from the M&S calendar so I’m glad it’s one of the earlier items (Day 4) – it’s the full sized product worth £12. I don’t tend to do much, if anything, with my brows but have been wondering about trying out a brow gel. This product doesn’t do a whole lot, but I don’t want a whole lot doing so it does the job for me. I’ve tried it out today and it doesn’t make my brows feel crispy at all; it’s just good for combing through and holding them in place.

So far so good – I’m loving having my beauty treats each day and am looking forward to trying out more 🙂


Cruelty free empties

I’ve discovered some great new cruelty free products over the last couple of months, and some have now been used up so I thought it would be worthwhile to share my empties. I love getting to the end of a product now because it usually means I’ve either found something I love and want to keep using, or I’ve finally finished using something I wasn’t loving so much and can move onto something better. Some of recent empties include:

Cruelty Free Empties
Cruelty Free Empties

Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser (£18)

I absolutely adore this stuff. I bought it in November to get my Marks and Spencer beauty advent calendar, and I’ve been using it most days since then. I use it as a second cleanse both morning and evening (I know most people don’t have this step but honestly it’s one of my favourite parts of my skincare routine!). I find it’s best to apply to slightly damp skin and massage it in before rinsing with a cloth. I can really tell a difference when I don’t use it – it seems to help keep my pores clear and my skin smoother, especially around my nose. You only need a tiny bit so it lasts ages.

Repurchase? Yes, I got one in an M&S sale a few weeks ago so that I’d have one ready as soon as I finished it.

Freedom Glycolic Glow Tonic (£6)

This is very similar to the Pixi Glow Tonic though it’s much more budget friendly. It’s not easy to get hold of unfortunately – you have to order online really (from Freedom or from Superdrug). I quite liked it but did find it didn’t seem quite as effective as the Pixi version so I’ve switched back to that for now. I actually prefer the scent of the Freedom one though – it reminds me of almond.  I *think* Freedom is cruelty free but can’t be sure at the moment.
(EDITED TO ADD: I contacted Freedom and was very happy with their responses regarding their cruelty free status so will continue to purchase from them in future).

Repurchase? Not right now as using Pixi Glow Tonic instead, but would consider in future.

Soap and Glory Rich and Foamous Shower & Bath Body Wash (£6.50)

I adore this scent so much! It’s part of the same range as the Breakfast Scrub and has almond, honey and oats. If you love the smell of baking, you’ll love this. I find this lathers well, moisturises, and lasts ages. They’re a bit more expensive than an own brand shower gel, but as they last so long I think they’re worth it. My partner has also been using this – it’s good to have a scent we both like.

Repurchase? Yes, I’d bought the Breakfast Tray set when I ran out of the scrub a few weeks ago so already had a new one ready.

Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (£14.50 for 100ml; I had a free 30ml sample)

This is an interesting one as despite using the full 30ml I still can’t decide if I like it or not. It’s a very rich hand cream which is good for my dry skin, but I’m not sure it lasts long as it seems to make me feel like I need to moisturise more frequently. It does soak in fairly well and doesn’t stay greasy – if anything it’s a little tacky to the touch. I’m not a huge fan of the scent but it’s OK.

Repurchase? Not right away, but I might consider in future if I had really dry skin on my hands.

What cruelty free products have you used up recently? Any recommendations?

Beauty product empties

I don’t know if I’m alone in this, but I feel a bizarre mixture of emotions when I use up a beauty product. If it’s a good product, I feel pleased to have found something I love so much that I’ve wanted to use it all up and enjoyed it but also sad that it’s all gone and that I’ll probably need to buy another. If it’s not a great product, I feel pleased to have persisted with it to get to the end, and glad that I don’t have to look at it any more! I’m always interested to see what products people have used up and what they think of them now they’ve given them a thorough testing, so I thought it might be useful to share mine (hopefully it will also act as a reminder of the products I love and don’t love if I don’t repurchase and forget about them!).

Recent beauty product empties
Recent beauty product empties

L’Oreal Skin Perfection Advanced Correcting Serum

I’ve always been fairly lucky with my skin *touches wood*. I get occasional spots, but nothing too bad (I managed to escape most of the teenage acne too). My skin is a little dry, but nothing a decent moisturiser can’t sort out, and it can be a little sensitive sometimes, but I’m fine as long as I stick to pretty standard skincare. Generally my skin is pretty smooth and even and although I quite like to wear make up now and again, other than the dark circles (which at times are pretty terrible!) I don’t tend to have many problem areas which needs smoothing or covering. I’ve tended to go through phases of doing cleansing, toning, and moisturising twice a day religiously (usually with Clinique), and phases of just washing my face and sticking moisturiser on when it’s particularly. However, I turned 30 earlier this year and though I should probably start to take a bit more care of my skin. I decided to introduce a serum into my routine but needed one that was fairly budget friendly and not too hardcore on the anti-aging front (many seem to be aimed at an older market). I discovered the L’Oreal Skin Perfection range thanks to a recommendation from Miss Budget Beauty, and was pleased to have found out about it whilst it was on offer (though to be fair, I’ve since discovered it’s often on offer!). I started using this after toner and before moisturiser both morning and night and am really liking it. I only need one pump and it seems to really help. It says: “Pores look virtually undetectable, tone looks more even, skin texture feels silky-soft” and I’d agree with that. I don’t need much help, but it does seem to make things smoother and softer and I think is especially good when my skin is drier. It also seems to help my moisturiser and make up sit better too, almost like a primer. I repurchased this as soon as I ran out and am continuing to use this morning and night.

RRP: £16.99 (currently on 1/3 off at Superdrug and 1/3 off at Boots)

Simple Kind to Skin Vital Vitamin Foaming Cleanser

I mentioned that I used to use Clinique, and I’ve been a fan of their products for a long time (probably almost 10 years!). However, they’re pretty pricey and I noticed my skin having more frequent spells of dryness and some bouts of irritation. I’ve been wondering if there were any cheaper alternatives, and thought I’d try something really basic but good for sensitive skin. Simple were having a 3 for 2 at the time so I tried their cleanser, toner and moisturiser. I’m now on my second bottle of the Simple Kind To Skin Soothing Facial Toner, so I’m a fan of that, but the star of the show is the foaming cleanser. It’s so convenient to use, and I find it seems to make my skin smoother. Also it lasts for ages, as I only need one pump – I have a tiny bit left in the first bottle and I’ve been using it both morning and night most days since July. If I’ve been wearing make up I tend to use something before this to remove my makeup, and then use this to properly clean my face. The one downside to the product is that it’s not very travel friendly – I did try a small tube of the facial gel, but wasn’t as impressed with that. I also didn’t particularly like the Simple Hydrating Light Moisturiser so didn’t repurchase that – it was OK but not amazing, and really difficult to use due to the packaging.

RRP: £4.49 (currently on less than 1/2 price in Superdrug and 3 for 2 in Boots)

Garnier Ultimate Beauty Oil Body Scrub

I had a bit of a tanning disaster earlier in the year (my partner fondly referred to my issue as ‘poo elbows’). I’d only used a gradual tan so realised my skin was in desperate need of exfoliation! I picked this body scrub up whilst it was on offer, and have used it in every shower since (I’m now on my second tube). I even decanted it into a travel sized tube when we went away as I just didn’t want to be without it. It’s quite a coarse scrub so is really excellent if you do have dry skin. The smell is amazing, and I find it has meant that even when I don’t moisturise my body (I know I should, but I can rarely be bothered to make time!) it helps keep it relatively smooth without dry patches.

RRP: £7.15 (Boots, Superdrug both currently at RRP but often on offer)

L’Oreal Absolute Eye and Lip Makeup Remover

This stuff is amazing. Also I managed to get quite the bargain which always helps. It’s £5.49 RRP but I got it on offer for 2 for £5. How does that even make sense?! Anyway, that’s what the offer said on the shelf, and that’s what it came through as, so I was a happy bunny and even happier when I discovered it was fantastic. I don’t really like face wipes, and although I will usually use my No 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Gel to remove my makeup at the end of the day, sometimes I want to remove my makeup earlier and this is when I tend to use a liquid makeup remover on a cotton pad. This one is nice and gentle (I wear contact lenses and it doesn’t irritate them at all) and yet it removes everything really easily (even Benefit They’re Real mascara which is notoriously well known for being a nightmare to remove). It’s also great for touching up mistakes with a cotton bud (e.g. eyeshadow fallout, mascara smudges), or if you decide you want to change your lip colour. I’ve still got some of my second bottle left at the moment, but would definitely repurchase.

RRP: £5.49 (though currently has the crazy 2 for £5 deal at Superdrug, and it’s 1/3 off at Boots)

No 7 Beautiful Skin Radiance Exfoliator for Normal/Dry Skin

I really like the cleanser in this range so during one of the voucher times earlier in the year I decided to get the facial exfoliator from the range. I’ve previously been a fan of the Clinique 7 Day Scrub which I use once or twice a week in the shower. I’ve used this in the same way, but I’m a bit disappointed to be honest. It’s very liquidy so I often end up using too much, and although the scent is lovely the beads don’t feel like they’re doing much. I don’t like to use an intensive scrub too often on my face, but when I do want to use a scrub I want to know it’s doing something and I didn’t really feel like this was. I wouldn’t repurchase this, though if you prefer a gentle scrub maybe you would love it.

RRP: £8.50 (currently on 3 for 2 in Boots – I bought it with one of the £5 off skincare vouchers Boots often do)

So that’s my recent beauty product empties. What things have you finished recently? Any you recommend? Any you were glad to see finally finished and got rid of?!

No 7 Naturally Sunkissed Gradual Facial Tan

As you’ll probably be aware, Boots currently have their No 7 vouchers for £5 off skincare and £3 off makeup and I’ve used them to try a few different No 7 products (though as soon as I buy something I get given another voucher so I don’t think I’m ever going to use them all before they expire!). One product I’ve tried is their No 7 Naturally Sunkissed Gradual Facial Tan.

No 7 Naturally Sunkissed Gradual Facial Tan
No 7 Naturally Sunkissed Gradual Facial Tan

I’ve been using a gradual body moisturiser (will blog about some of those in future) and thought I ought to also add some colour to my face so I don’t look odd with a tanned body and pale white face! I’m always a bit wary of facial tanning, partly because I don’t want to risk looking orange, and also because I have quite sensitive skin on my face so don’t want to use products that irritate it. No 7 products are hypo-allergenic and seem to be sensitive enough for me, and with my £5 off voucher this worked out cheaper than most of the other brands I’d looked at, so I decided to give it a go.

As well as being a gradual tan, it also has SPF15 which I tend to try to ensure I wear when I’m outside, so having it all in one product is really handy. It’s quite a thick texture, but it soaks into skin well. It’s a lovely scent too – it has a tiny hit of that ‘fake tan’ type smell but the main scent is refreshing (I actually don’t mind the fake tan type smell anyway). It does leave your skin a little shiny, so if that’s a concern you probably won’t like that. It doesn’t have any shimmer and is a white cream, but does leave a sort of shine (a bit like when you use sun cream). I have dry skin, so I found it moisturised well and gave me a hint of colour.

I’ve been using it twice a day (morning and night) for about two weeks now, either on its own, underneath makeup or under a more intense moisturiser at night. I think it has given me a bit of colour (I’ve noticed my slightly darker face products seem to work better at the moment), but certainly not too much. I sometimes find with the body products that I get quite a dark tan after a few applications (even with the light versions) and as I’m naturally fairly pale I don’t want to look too tanned. I’ve found this one great for continual use and haven’t had to worry about getting too dark. I think this will become a spring/summer staple, and will probably take this with me when we go away to America later this year. The bonus of having SPF15 included is a great addition for me.

Product: Boots No 7 Naturally Sunkissed Gradual Facial Tan
Price (RRP): £9.95
Where to buy: Boots (currently included in 3 for 2 offer, or you can use the £5 off skincare voucher if you’re recently shopped at Boots)
 Boots for £4.95
Summary review: Great product – gives a nice gradual tan without too much, and has the bonus of SPF15 included – only downside is it leaves skin a little shiny (though make up covers it).
Rating (out of 5): 4


Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist

I’ve been a contact lens wearer for around 15 years now, and although my optician occasionally says during my check ups that my eyes are a little dry, it’s never been something I’ve particularly suffered with. I was intrigued by the Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist though (particularly the fact it doesn’t smudge make up) and thought I’d give it a try.

Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist (with Revlon Lip Butter for scale)
Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist (with Revlon Lip Butter for scale)

I like the small size of the bottle – it’s very convenient to carry around with you. I pop it in my handbag when I know I’m likely to be out for a long time. I’ve mainly used the spray towards the end of a long day when my eyes get tired and my lenses start to make my eyes feel dry.

It’s very easy to apply, you just spray it over your eyes with eyes closed. There’s not much of a scent to it (I agree with another reviewer that there is a slight ‘donut’ type smell when you spray it but it doesn’t stay), and each spray covers your eye area roughly from brow to top of cheekbone. I’ve found it very refreshing, not just for the eyes but for the area around the eyes (which I didn’t know needed refreshing!).

The thing which has impressed me the most is the fact that it really genuinely does not affect my makeup. I’ve tried the spray over freshly applied make up, and end of the day make up, and neither were affected by the spray at all. Very impressive!

Applied to one eye - can you spot the difference?
Applied to one eye – can you spot the difference?

The one slight downside to this for me is the price. I do think it’s quite expensive for how much product you get and how many uses it will do (100).

I’ll definitely continue to use the product. I’ll quite possibly repurchase it, though probably if it is on offer or I have some Boots points I can use for it – I’m not sure I’d pay full price. It’s a great product though, and I would highly recommend it if the price isn’t putting you off.

Product: Optrex Eye Revive Moisture Mist – 10ml
Price (RRP): £15.99
Where to buy: Boots
I received mine from BzzAgent to review
Summary review: Great product, though a little expensive.
Rating (out of 5): 4

L’Oreal Casting Crème Gloss in Black Cherry

I’ve used this brand a number of times, having tried a few others and not been as impressed with the ease of application and the condition of my hair after dying. The one thing I haven’t liked about the Casting Crème Gloss in the past has been the fact that it makes me hair very static the first wash after dying. It’s lovely and shiny and glossy after dying, but then the next wash it seems a nightmare to style! I’m pleased to report this wasn’t a problem this time round.

The kit arrived on the morning of my 30th birthday party (a Eurovision themed party!), and I rearranged my day of party prep to make sure I could fit in time to dye my hair. I was excited about trying a new colour having previously stuck to fairly boring mid-dark browns. This time I went for Black Cherry which is a shade I’ve always been keen on trying but have usually wimped out on!

Bzz Agent kit
Bzz Agent kit

The kit contains the usual two-part dye, a bottle with a tipped nozzle, a pair of gloves, a small bottle of conditioner, and instructions. Armed with my trusty bring red towel (which has splatters of many hair dyes on!) and my boyfriend (who has become quite a good home-dyer!) we took to the bathroom and gave it a go. I made sure to moisturise first, especially around my hairline and ears – I don’t think red-purple drips on my face would have gone with my party outfit!

The dye mixed easily and took about 5 minutes to apply. We set a timer, did some cleaning whilst we were waiting (after all, we had a party to prepare for!), and after the time had passed we rinsed it out. It took quite a lot of rinsing, and I confess at this point I was a bit worried what it might turn out like!

Dye setting
Dye setting

I shouldn’t have worried though, after a condition and thorough rinse, I dried my hair and was really pleased to see it had darkened it and when the light shone on it there was a lovely red/purple shine. I was delighted!

Ready for the party with freshly dyed hair
Ready for the party with freshly dyed hair

The next day I washed it and fortunately had none of the staticness that has happened previously. I don’t know whether this is due to a new formula, the different shade, or the shampoo I used, but either way I was very pleased not to have that problem.

Three weeks on and I’m still loving the colour and will definitely repurchase it. I’m so glad I decided to try a new shade and although it was a risk to colour it the day of the party, all went well and I will definitely use the kit again.

I have a few greys, and the colour covered them well. They are starting to show slightly now which is a bit of a shame – that’s really the only downside I’ve experienced (oh, and the towels experienced a bit of dye run for a few days after dying, but it washed out fine).

I’d highly recommend Casting Crème Gloss for anyone wanting to dye their hair at home – it’s really easy, doesn’t take long at all (you can even do chores whilst waiting for it to set), and makes your hair lovely and soft and shiny.