Friday, 11 August 2017

Five Note Cosmetics Foundations - Review, Comparison, Before + After Pics

I think I was a bit late to the Note Cosmetics party (partly because I still to this day have not come across an actual physical Note Cosmetics display in a pharmacy - shame on me) but after trying out some products that were kindly sent to me by the Note Cosmetics PR team, I was bitten by the bug and I had to try more. I've heard glowing reports from many of my fellow beauty nuts on the various foundations in particular so that had to be my first foray into the brand. Long time readers of this here blog will know that I am a foundation fanatic - I have favourites but I am always searching for the next best foundation, it's the most important makeup step in my opinion and I will judge whole brands on their foundation offerings. Full disclosure first - I received one foundation as a PR sample and purchased the other four foundations myself from Cara Pharmacy.

On the brand, a little bit of investigative work informs me that this brand is the brainchild of former NYX Cosmetics and Cargo Cosmetics executives (and y'all know I was a big NYX fangirl back in the day). The brand pride themselves on infusing their products with botanicals and all of the products are manufactured in Europe. The packaging and finish of the products is more luxe than your average drugstore brand and they promise professional quality cosmetics yet the prices are still very reasonable across the board. 

 I don't know how to review five foundations in one post but when I asked on Instagram if there would be any appetite on a comparison post, y'all were hungry - so we will give it a try. I loved some of the foundations and was happy enough with others but (miraculously) I didn't dislike any of the foundations I tried and I am ridiculously picky and unforgiving when it comes to foundation testing. For reference, I have been using these foundations for weeks but I tested them out/photographed over five consecutive days. I did not use any concealers, primers or setting powders with them so the coverage and finish you see in the pictures is the actual raw unfiltered finish of the product taken in natural daylight. I used the exact same brush to apply all of the foundations (obvs washing it in between uses) and my brush of choice was the Zoeva Buffer brush #104.

All of the Note Cosmetics foundations are very affordable (between the €10-14 mark, however the shade range is not great in some (I will elaborate below). Whilst some of the shades were at least 2 shades too dark for me, I have to say I did not encounter any oxidation with any of the foundations. There is also a newer foundation out called Sun Glow which I have not yet tried - this is one I would like to test before forking out just because some of the others ran so dark on me. All of the foundations contain SPF 15 which is always greatly appreciated and each foundation comes with 35ml of product instead of the standard 30ml so you get another few applications for your dolla. On to the goods!

Note Cosmetics Mineral Foundation* 

This is the foundation that was sent to me by the Note Cosmetics PR team and they sent me the lightest shade of the three shades available, 401. This foundation retails for €12.95, has SPF 15 built in and is paraben free. This was the first Note Cosmetics foundation that I tried and the one that made me catch the bug. I have to self tan when I use this foundation as it is too dark to even blend down my neck - for reference, I take a MAC NW20 so I'm not the fairest of the fair but this is still far too dark for my natural skin shade. Literally, the only complaint that I have about this foundation is that I wish it came in a lighter shade. The coverage is amazing - definitely medium to full - and it lasts beautifully (even in this muggy summer weather) - in my experience, it looks the same in the evening as it did when it was first applied in the morning. I don't have oily skin but I have noticed in the summer months a lot of my foundations tend to evaporate off my face over the course of wear but this one lasts brilliantly even without powder and doesn't disappear from or gather up around my nose. The foundation is full of vitamins, calcium and zinc to both care for your skin and give your skin a nice glow. In terms of finish, it's quite a satin finish with a gentle sheen under the light as opposed to a shiny, glowy finish. There is also a concealer in this range which I will absolutely have to try out.

Note Cosmetics BB Cream

The BB Cream is definitely one of my favourite Note Cosmetics foundation offerings, I've been using this so much over the last 2+ months that I am nearly finished the tube. This foundation costs €11.95, comes in three shades and is labelled an 'Advanced Skin Corrector'. I don't know about you but I'm all about the BB cream life in the summer months - when you don't want too much coverage but would like an even canvas for the rest of your makeup - so I was more than happy to try this out. I went for the lightest shade 01 but it was still too dark for my natural skin tone so I have to wear this when I have self tanned. Again, like the Mineral Foundation, that is the only complaint that I have about this product - I really rate it other than that. It applies beautifully, you would not even feel it sitting on your skin, it lasts incredibly well and the finish is luminous enough without being too shiny and very unifying if you have any patches of pigmentation or redness (you can clearly see in the photo how the BB Cream concealed some old blemish marks around my jawline and chin area - this was just the BB Cream - no other concealers or products necessary. It lasted incredibly well without gathering around my nose or fading off in spots and I didn't feel like I had to powder it over the course of wear either (but remember I don't have oily skin so I can get away without powder). 

Note Cosmetics Luminizing Moisturising Foundation

The Note Cosmetics Luminous Moisture Foundation is another absolute gift of a product - this beaut has probably cemented it's place in my top 5 high street/pharmacy/drugstore foundations already. I purchased the palest shade 01 Beige and, thankfully, unlike the Mineral Foundation and BB Cream, I can get away with the palest shade in this one without having to self tan because it is that bit lighter (in fact, it was probably too light for me on this occasion as you can see from the picture above but it's easier to warm up a foundation than it is to cool one down!). This foundation costs €9.95 so it is the cheapest of all the Note Cosmetics foundations that I tried and comes in 6 shades so you have a far better chance of finding a shade to suit you. The finish of this is super luminous and radiant without being shiny and greasy looking, and it sits on the skin beautifully - you would not even feel like you have foundation on. It is medium to full in coverage - it was enough to cover the marks on my chin and jawline and my freckles without any other concealer. I love this and will undoubtedly repurchase.

Note Cosmetics Detox and Protect Foundation

I was curious to try this foundation as I would love to know how a foundation can detox and protect your skin. This foundation was €13.95 and comes in a sleek plastic bottle (very reminiscent of the Inglot HD Foundation) with a built in pump. I purchased the lightest shade 01 Beige which is light enough to wear without fake tan but I noticed that shade 01 in this foundation was quite a bit more yellow toned than the other foundations - not yellow enough to make me look like a Simpson though. There are 6 shades available in this range. This foundation is supposed to act as a shield against free radicals and whilst I cannot put my hand on my heart and say that no such free radicals were able to penetrate through this foundation, I can put my hand on my heart and say this is a brilliant foundation that wore beautifully over the course of a day - so much so that I was asked by three different people in one day about what foundation I was wearing. This foundation just looks like skin - you cannot feel it on your skin and it just blends in like a dream. I felt like when I had this one blended to my satisfaction that it set - not like cement obvs - but it just felt like it wouldn't budge and budge it does not. The finish is quite matte and it feels quite silky on the skin.

Note Cosmetics Mattifying Foundation

Lastly but not leastly, the Mattifying Extreme Wear Foundation is a foundation that I probably wouldn't have gravitated towards off my own bat because I'm not really an extreme matte kind of girl. I really wanted to try all of the Note Cosmetics foundations though so I purchased this one also and at €13.95 it hardly broke the bank. For a "mattifying extreme" foundation, this applied effortlessly with a flat top kabuki and didn't look powdery or chalky like I suspected it might. Again, like the Detox & Protect Foundation, this set quite quickly after applying which means you have to work quickly to blend like a boss before it sets down. A little bit of this product goes a long way and it is most definitely a full coverage foundation. If you have oily skin and are in the market for a new comfortable matte foundation that will last a full day on your face, I think you would love this one. It contains cedar wood oil and spiraea extract to balance the level of sebium in your skin which will not only help to keep the oil at bay but will also work to prevent breakouts. This lasted 16 hours on me with no primer, no powder and no setting spray and I'm sure any of these things would improve longevity for my oilier friends. I feel guilty for dismissing this at the beginning because whenever I've needed a foundation to last a really long time because of a long work day or extreme heat, this is the one I have turned to. It's one of the most comfortable, least cakey matte foundations I have ever tried. It comes in 6 different shades, I got the lightest shade of the bunch (01 Beige) and it also comes with a built in pump.

The Bottom Line

If you cannot tell from all you have read already, I am seriously impressed with every single one of the Note Cosmetics foundations that I have tried to date - like I am genuinely surprised at how impressed I honestly was, I can't lie to myself and I wouldn't lie to you. I've said I completely admit judging brands by their foundation offerings because I'm all about that base and, if I am to judge Note Cosmetics on the back of their foundations, I think they have much to offer and I look forward to trying more out of their products. My only gripe is that I wish the Mineral Foundation and BB Cream came in lighter shades - I won't be self tanning as much in the winter which means I will have to retire these soon and I don't want to have to retire them (first world problem I know). I will put my hat on the line and unequivocally state that these foundations collectively perform a heck of a lot better than many of my high end / luxe foundations and, maybe I should be bitter about that, but I'm not because I am just happy to have found these. If you are interested in purchasing these yourself, the list of stockists is available from the Note Cosmetics Ireland Facebook page and the full range is available online from Cara Pharmacy, Sam McCauley, CH Chemists Tralee and Meaghers Pharmacy to name a few that I am aware of.

Have you tried any Note Cosmetics foundations and, if so, what did you think? I would also be very grateful for any Note Cosmetics product suggestions or recommendations in the comments below.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Palette - Review, Swatches

When I first saw a picture of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture palette, I was completely underwhelmed. ABH Modern Renaissance palette was one of my favourite makeup releases of 2016 and I have loads of the individual ABH eyeshadows that I absolutely cherish, but the colour selection in Subculture left me feeling a bit meh - a few teals, a mustard - I just wasn't gone on the colour lineup because it wasn't my beef. I didn't think I was going to purchase it but I couldn't stop myself from picking one up on the day that it was released because I just had such brilliant experiences with the other ABH shadows that I had tried that I thought that this might be the palette to make me come out of my brown eyeshadow comfort zone. On the back of the palette itself, it describes Subculture as "an essential eye shadow collection with fourteen shades featuring grungy mattes and bold metallics with an underground edge." Whilst I am not even remotely grungy, this palette screams Autumn to me and of course I feel like I can justify the purchase because not only do I love Autumn, I don't have a collection of colours like this in any of my other palettes. I ordered directly from Anastasia Beverly Hills UK website, it arrived in a few days and of course I did not have to pay any customs. The palette is now available on Cult Beauty and Beauty Bay if you are interested in purchasing it by the time you have finished reading this post.

I know that there has been controversy around this palette since it was released (my Youtube and Instagram feeds are full of ABH Subculture bashing or "honest" reviews) but I have not watched or read or followed up on this because I want to take the palette as I find it and not have my opinion swayed by others before I got a chance to give this palette a good try for myself. I've often been disappointed with products that other folks have raved about and vice versa - different folks, different strokes c'est la vie. It's very easy to come online and jump on a slating bandwagon, even where that criticism is totally deserved, but I wanted to provide a comprehensive review based on my own experience. Makeup is all subjective. I'm not going to lie - I forked out €50 for this so I wanted to like it.
The Basics : The packaging is pretty much identical to the Modern Renaissance palette expect there is a flocked dark teal velvet cover on the Subculture palette, they are the same size and both have a decent mirror. I am fully bracing myself for the fact that it will probably get filthy in time from use. Like the Modern Renaissance, the palette comes with a brush and I'm usually not a fan of brushes that come with eyeshadow palettes but this one is actually not bad (probably still won't use it though...). You get 14 colours in the palette - 11 mattes, 1 duochrome, 1 metallic and 1 duochrome metallic shades - in a variety of hues from warm, cool and neutral tones. It is an interesting combination of colours for sure - possibly not the most cohesive selection and not the kind of colours that I would reach for everyday but I don't reach for the same things every day anyway.

The Swatches : As you can see from the swatches below, the pigmentation is strong. Most of the matte shades have incredible pigmentation, but they are very soft, very powdery and leave a lot of fallout. One single finger swatch packs a mighty punch - that rich pigment also translates to the lids if you use the tiniest amount of product, a very light hand and pat it on very gently. In my opinion, the ABH Modern Renaissance palette leaves more fallout and kickback than the standard individual ABH eyeshadows that you can buy directly from ABH website or Sephora, but the fallout and kickback from Subculture can be something else altogether in comparison if you don't take care with these shadows. I spend an extra few minutes applying these colours and blending slowly and carefully and to be honest, I don't really feel too aggrieved by that.
Firstly, the low down on each of the shadows. I definitely have favourites and shades that I have been disappointed with for one reason or another, there is a difference not only between the matte and the shimmer shades but also between the shimmer shades themselves so it's not a completely consistent palette. Most of the matte shades needed two very light layers as the first layer applied quite patchily - again, I can't stress enough that light softly-softly is the way to go with this palette. The powders themselves are not packed tightly enough into the pans, so even if you didn't want to pick up loads of product, you cannot help it, and all that is needed is literally just to tap your brush into the product, to hover it over the pan even. The plus side is that once these shadows are applied to your spec, they last incredibly well, upwards of 10 hours over the MAC Paint Pot in Painterly, with no unforgiving creasing.
Cube is the only duochrome shade and this appeared to be the most poorly pigmented. In the pan this looks white with a pink/lilac pearl so you might expect it to swatch like that also but all I've ever been able to get from this shadow is a slight pink sheen. Very disappointing and a complete waste of  precious palette space.
Dawn is a gorgeous muted peach similar to one of my favourite Makeup Geek eyeshadows called Peach Smoothie. This colour is a brilliant transition shade because it just barely shows up on my crease when it is blended out. This blended out evenly.
Destiny is a dark matte khaki green brown shade that I probably would never ever pick up individually. It is very soft and smooth and pigmented and applied pretty well to the lid when packed on but looked a little messy once you started blending.
Adorn is one of my favourite looking shades in the palette, a rich metallic copper. This feels like cream eyeshadow but is a powder. It doesn't apply like a cream however unfortunately - I have to use either a small synthetic brush or my finger tip to place this on my eyelid and I feel like it applies like a ton of coppery glitter with no base shade binding it together.
All Star is a matte plum shade which looks incredible in the pan and incredible swatched but it applies patchily to the lids if you try to use a flat brush like the Blank Canvas E24 and when you try to blend it out, it just blends to nothingness. I was disappointed by the performance of this shadow because I adore burgundy shadow shades.
Mercury is one of the cooler shades in the palette and is a lovely cool taupe brown but I feel like this eyeshadow is actually too pigmented to be used as a crease colour or blended out.
Axis is a deep teal shade and possibly the shade my eye is always drawn to first when I look at the palette. I've found this shade difficult to work with because it is unbelievably pigmented - like crazily so - and I'm not a mad one for blue or green eyeshadows so it's a bit intimidating. You literally need to just hover your brush over this to pick up enough product to cover your entire face (I'm only kind of kidding). It is a very difficult shade to work with - it is just too pigmented. Also, I used this with a brush on my lids before taking a finger swatch for a blog photo and I realised that the texture of this powder seems drier and grainier than any of the other matte shades in the palette.
Roxy is a vivid matte apricot shade and one of my favourites in the palette, particularly against blue eyes. I love a little pop of coral crease and this colour is so bright and cheery. It applied and blended well.
Electric is a gold that flashes green under the light and looks green when applied to the eyes. This looks interesting in the pan - you can make out the duochrome effect from the pan itself. On the lids, this looks like green glitter particles. It is drier and less cream like than Adorn and it is most definitely not the bold metallic shade which ABH promise on the back of the palette!
Fudge is a medium warm red toned brown eyeshadow which should be right up my street but the massive pigment you pick up with this in the beginning just fades to mud on your eyes, it is difficult enough to work with.
New Wave is a matte orange shadow that looks yellowy in the pan but applies like a true orange. This applied well and blended well.
Untamed is a mid toned smokey green shade - I don't mind the shade in the pan but I am not at all enamoured by the way this looks on my eyelids with my skin tone - suffice to say, greens are not my thing. Also, like Axis, this is just too pigmented.
Edge is a dark warm matte yellow eyeshadow and the most intimidating eyeshadow of the bunch in my opinion - I still have not incorporated this into an eyeshadow look but I live in hope that one day I will grab life by the cojones and embrace the yellow. I think it might be nice as a transition shade with a shadow like Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear.
Rowdy is a deep matte purple-ish burgundy shade that looks gorgeous in the pan but applies and swatches patchily. I've tried to use this to line my upper lashline instead of eyeliner and it turned to fairy dust and disappeared.
Overall, this palette hasn't impressed me one hundredth as much as the Modern Renaissance palette but it's grand. Am I glad to have forked out €50 for it - not really, I don't have anything else like it in my collection and I look forward to trying to master this, but I wish it was just easier to use. It's not comparable to the ABH single eyeshadows or the Modern Renaissance palette but it's not completely unworkable either, it requires an alternative method of application to what I am used to and leaves an end result that I would not normally end up with. It might be unfair comparing it to Modern Renaissance but the Subculture palette was the eagerly anticipated follow up so I cannot help but compare the two. What I will say about Subculture - and this is really important if you are considering a purchase- I think this palette would work best for those of us who like to limit our eye looks to 2/3 colours, particularly complimentary colours that don't need a lot of blending. The more colours you use, the more work you are going to have to put in. I'm not one for mad eye looks really so I've gotten on ok-ish with this but when I have tried to use more than three colours in a look, it can look a little busy or muddy. I haven't been rushing out the door when I've applied this so I have had the time and patience to do what I need to do. I feel like this is the opposite of pretty much every other eyeshadow palette in the world in that usually you apply your eye colour, blend like a boss, apply some more to build it up to your desired intensity etc. This palette packs a mighty punch when you apply it first, it goes on super strong in the beginning and you have to work it down to the best of your ability. I don't think you necessarily have to be the most skilled makeup applicator in the world to use this palette but you do have to have patience and a vision.

The irony that the very reason I was not going to purchase this palette in the first place (the colour selection) became the thing I appreciate most about the palette is not lost on me. Even though it does take me longer to apply my eye makeup, I'm happy that it lasts a decent amount of time. I don't regret this purchase yet, I don't hate this palette but I don't certainly do not love it either - I'm in that middle place of meh. If ABH were to release another new palette in the morning, I will still probably be on it like a car bonnet. I understand that ABH were trying to bring us the most pigmented shadows ever but they went a step too far on that journey in my opinion in bringing us pigments so strong that some are borderline unworkable. Maybe Modern Renaissance was eyeshadow palette perfection that just cannot be replicated. I wouldn't really recommend purchasing this - not because I think it is all bad - but because I don't want to inflict that workload on anyone.

Have you tried Subculture yet or been dissuaded from trying it from all the negative press it has gotten?


Monday, 17 April 2017

MAC Single Eyeshadow Collection - 60+ eyeshadows - Review + Swatches

I've been picking up a MAC eyeshadow here and there for years - I've repurchased many and I've retired many too as my eyeshadow tastes have developed. I wouldn't say MAC eyeshadows are the best eyeshadows in the world by any standard but there are definitely a fair handful of amazing, iconic shades in the MAC lineup. Up until quite recently, I think a single pan eyeshadow was €12 but Brown Thomas recently slashed the price of single pan eyeshadows to just €7, so I thought it timely that I swatch some shadows and show my beloved readers what I rate and what I hate in the MAC eyeshadow world so far. I think most of the colours are available in Ireland also - I've picked some up in the US, the UK etc. over the years. The vast vast majority of the shadows below are all some degree of neutrals but that's because I wear neutral eyeshadows 99% of the time and I've invested in what I know I will get the most use out of.

MAC eyeshadows come in several different finishes - matte, veluxe pearl, velvet, frost, satin, lustre - and I think they have around 110 individual shades in their permanent single eyeshadow line. The pigmentation and ease of use varies across the finishes - I'm a big fan of the veluxe pearl shadows and the velvets are my least favourites. Some of the lustre shadows can be very poorly pigmented also and, as you will see below, the mattes are either amazingly pigmented or poor and washy. For that reason, I've put the finish in the description of each of the shades below, as well as the official description of the colour from MAC (where I think their description was misleading, I will let you know).

It's taken me a few years to accumulate these shadows and I've gone through multiple pans of several colours over the years. I've got 1 x 30 pan palette (the double-sided one packed with neutrals), 2 x 15 palettes (warm tones and cool tones), 1 quad with four of my most used colours and four single shadows that I have yet to depot. My double sided MAC palette is probably my most used item in my makeup collection - in my line of work, I don't get the opportunity to experiment with colours very often and though this palette might look boring, it houses some of my most loved and most used shadows. Enough blather out of me - now on to the swatches! 
Gesso is a matte finish shadow and is described as a vivid white and I couldn't agree with this description - it's a stark white, extremely brightening and the matte formula on this is dreamy.
Phloof is a frost shadow and is described as a frosted off-white - I would qualify this by saying it leans towards the pink/purple spectrum under a certain light. This is quite nice on the inner tear duct. It applies nicely.
Shroom is a satin shadow and is described as a soft beige with shimmer. I love this shadow so much I somehow ended up with two in my palette! I love wearing this on it's own with a simple colour in the crease like Cork blended out to oblivion for a simple, no-fuss eye look. Shroom was one of my first MAC eyeshadows and I will keep on repurchasing it.
Blanc Type is a matte creamy beige shadow, similar to Urban Decay Virgin. It's a good colour to apply before any other shadows as I find it brightens and neutralises any discolouration on my eyelids. 
Dazzlelight is a veluxe pearl shadow (one of my favourite MAC eyeshadow finishes) neutral beige with shimmer. I don't find myself dipping my eyeshadow brush into this one very often because I would almost always pick Shroom over it. 
Malt is a matte shadow described as a soft pinkish-beige - let me tell you, this is one seriously underrated eyeshadow in my opinion. I love this in the crease as a transition shade, it looks great on it's own or with any darker/bold shades. It's quite cool so it looks shadow-esque and very flattering. It also looks great on it's own on your eyelids blown out into the crease with some killer mascara. 
Nylon is a frost finish shadow and is described as a pale gold with icy shimmer. I bought this with the intent of using it as a brow highlight but it's too gold for my skintone. I sometimes put this in the inner corners of my eyes or dab a little on my crease when I am doing a burgundy/cranberry eye look - I like the contract of the frosty gold against a burgundy shadow like Makeup Geek Bitten.
Retrospeck is a lustre shadow and the shade is (bizarrely) described as "beached blonde". This is a great one eyeshadow wonder which surprises nobody more than me because it is a lustre finish after all. 
Era is a satin eyeshadow and is described as soft golden beige with shimmer - this is definitely more of a light brown than a beige shadow in my mind but it's a really nice shadow and easy to work with.
Omega is a matte shadow and described as a soft muted cool beige-taupe - I'm not sure if it's the coolness of this shadow or not but I love this in the crease. I know loads of fair haired folks use this in their brows also so if you've blonde eyebrows, this might be a good brow pick for you.
Wedge is a matte shadow and described as a soft muted warm beige taupe. What you see is what you get with this shadow.
Honesty is a lustre shadow and is described as a muted bronze - I would say this is more of an antique bronze because it is quite cool. I never find myself reaching for this shadow even though the pigmentation is remarkably decent for a lustre shadow.
Naked Lunch is a frost eyeshadow and described as a minimal pink with shimmer - I don't get pink vibes off this but it is one of my favourite MAC eyeshadows - so much so I have it in this palette and in a quad palette that I put together to bring with me when I'm on the go.
All that Glitters is a veluxe pearl shadow which means the formula is divine and this colour has been described as beige with gold pearl - beige just seems too ordinary a word to describe this. This is a shadow that goes with every other colour - pinks, purples, browns, blues, greens - if you don't already own this, I think you should consider rectifying that stat!
Vex is a frost shadow and described as a beige with pink-green pearl - in my eyes, this is more of a grey than a beige shadow, and I don't pink up on too much pink/green undertones to be honest. I very rarely use this shadow.
Tempting is a lustre shadow and is described on the MAC website as a sinfully rich cocoa - it's more of a rich caramel shade than rich cocoa in my opinion. 
Cork is a satin shadow and described as a muted golden-brown. I love this not just because it's called after my homeland but because it's one of my most loved and most used crease colours. It's not too warm, not too cool, not too light and not too dark. It's a must have and I happen to have two.
Woodwinked is a veluxe pearl eyeshadow described as a warm antique cold and this is one of MAC's eyeshadows that has achieved legendary status already so there is not much more I can add really other than to say that this is an incredible colour irrespective of your eye colour, it looks expensive and rich and because it's a veluxe pearl. the finish is incredible. This should be the top of your MAC eyeshadow wishlist if it's not already.
Coquette is a satin shadow and described as a muted greyish-taupe shade. It's a useful mix of mid-tone grey and brown and goes with a multitude of other colours. 
Sumptuous Olive is another veluxe pearl shadow so it's bound to be a good'un and this shade is described as a khaki with pearl. I very rarely use this shadow as it's a little greener than what I am used to and that intimidates me a smidge but this is a favourite for many, particularly green-eyed gals.
Patina is a frost shadow and another one of my favourites, described as a taupe brown with golden pearl. I've never come across another shadow like this. I love this all over the lids on it's own.
Sable is a frost shadow described as a gold plum with bronze pearl - as you can see from the swatch above, it's gorgeous
Mulch is a velvet shadow described as red-brown with bronze pearl - I feel like the pearl is more obvious in the pan than it is swatched but this is still a lovely shadow.
Satin Taupe is a frost shadow and one of MAC's most famous shadows in my opinion. It is described as a taupe with silver shimmer but I feel like that's too simple a description for a colour so rich - sometimes it looks purple to me, sometimes brown. It's a great shadow to have in your collection because it just does so much.
Twinks is a veluxe pearl eyeshadow described as a deep plum with pearl - I think it's more of a deep plummy brown than a deep plum but that might just be splitting hairs. 
Concrete is a satin shadow and described as a muted taupe brown - I rarely use it granted as I feel like it just looks dirty on my skin.
Brun is a satin shadow and described as a muted blackish-brown - this shadow is so muted, it might as well not exist. I find it hard to build up on the eyes, hard to get a decent swatch for this post, I don't think I even try to use this anymore.
Mystery is a matte shadow and described as a cool brown and that's pretty accurate, a cool dark brown. This is a great dark option for a brown smoky eye and can be used with pretty much any other colour to smoke it out.
Smut is a velvet shadow and described as a muted black with red shimmer - again, I'm going to say this shadow is so muted, there is no point owning it and I definitely would not recommend 
Soft Brown is a matte shadow and described as a soft golden peachy brown which is the perfect description. This colour is a dream to work with, easy to apply, easy to blend.
Amber Lights is a frost shadow and described as a peachy brown with shimmer - it's not vivid enough to be a coral but by no means boring enough to be a brown. I love this shade and I feel like it doesn't fully get the love it deserves.
Texture is a velvet shadow and again, is described as a peachy-brown with shimmer. It's lighter in tone than Soft Brown and reminds me a lot of the MAC ProLongwear eyeshadow in Uninterrupted which has now sadly/inexplicably been discontinued.
Saddle is a matte shade and described as a golden orange brown - this eyeshadow makes blue eyes sing, it's so incredibly flattering against blue eyes.
Brown Script is a  matte shadow and described as warm chestnut brown - I find this eyeshadow is a great alternative to when I want a really warm eye without using a burgundy or pink eyeshadow. 
Coppering is a veluxe pearl shadow and a super vibrant orange copper shade. I love it in my palette but barely use it because I am so intimidated by the brightness of it but this exercise has made me mentally note that I need to try to incorporate this eyeshadow. 
Espresso is a matte shadow and described as a muted golden brown but I don't find it to be too golden - it's a neutral brown in my mind - not too warm and not too cool.
Charcoal Brown is a matte shadow and described as a muted taupe brown - this is another one of my favourite crease colours.
Bronze is a frost shade described as a gold brown with gold-bronze shimmer - I admit that I was a little disappointed with this colour when I first purchased it as it's not the most pigmented and I don't reach for it very often.
Swiss Chocolate is a matte shadow described as a muted reddish brown and is a gorgeous crease colour. It reminds me of Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear. 
Antiqued is a veluxe pearl shade and described as an ash brown with bronze - I don't think there is anything ashy about this shade but it is a beautiful shade.
Star Violet is a veluxe pearl shade and described as a pinky-brown plum - I would add a bit of purple to the mix on that. This colour is a testament to what MAC do best - so many undercurrents and tones and colour combinations emanating from one single shadow.
Brown Down is a veluxe shadow and described as a teddy bear brown - it's light enough to blend out well for your crease but dark enough to pack on to the outer corners of your eyes.
Embark is a matte shadow and described as an intense reddish brown but my eye doesn't see much reddish in this. It's a very deep brown, very pigmented 
Deep Damson is a matte shade (though you wouldn't think it to work with it because it's hard and difficult to pick up) and is described as a deep burgundy. It's a pity this eyeshadow is so poor because the colour in the pan looks so promising.
Copperplate is a matte shadow and described as a cool taupe. It looks particularly gorgeous with purple and mauvey toned eyeshadows.
Quarry is a matte and is described as a soft muted plum brown shadow. This is one of my top 5 MAC eyeshadows without a shadow of a doubt. I love a cool mauvey eye and this colour is exquisite.
Haux is a satin shadow and not one I hear a lot about at that but it is described as a soft muted rosy brown. It reminds me of my favourite Makeup Geek eyeshadow Cupcake and I love putting this in my crease.
Shale is another satin shadow and is described as a mauve plum with shimmer. I don't notice much shimmer when I use this colour and it barely gets a look in to be honest because I'm just too fond of Quarry and Haux.
Trax is a velvet shadow and described as a burgundy plum with shimmer - a description which is too kind because this colour honestly doesn't look like much of anything - it swatches terribly and is so difficult to work with.
Blackberry is a matte shade and is described as a muted burgundy-plum brown - it swatches and applies darker than it looks in the pan but it goes so nicely with Quarry.
Fig 1 is a matte shadow and is described as a cool plum shade - I have really not heard anything about this shadow anywhere but I liked the look of it so I picked it up and I'm so glad I did because it really is something special, even for me who is stuck in a neutral eyeshadow comfort zone rut.
Sketch is a velvet shadow (which, if you haven't copped by now, means it should be crap) and is described as a burgundy with red shimmer. I get more purple vibes than I do burgundy vibes when I use this shadow but again, I love pairing it with Quarry or Haux.
Beauty Marked is a velvet and is described as a black with red sparkle - as you can see it looks very sparkly in the pan but when swatched, it's blacker than the matte black MAC eyeshadow (we'll get to that). It's a lot darker than I expected so I don't use it very often.
Shadowy Lady is another example of a very poor matte shadow and is described as a blackened plum. I've just given up on this - it's far too hard to work with because the brush just does not pick up product.
Silver Ring is a veluxe pearl eyeshadow described as a grey with silver sheen. I don't often do silver smoky eyes anymore if I did, this would be my go-to silver eyeshadow. The pigment and wear of this is incredible, I just need more excuses to use it.
Scene is a satin finish eyeshadow described as a muted blue grey - this is a great colour for a cooler subtle smoky eye as it's not too dark.
Print is a satin finish shadow and described as a muted grey with shimmer - there isn't too much shimmer to it in my mind but I'm pretty fond of grey eyeshadows and this one is right up there. If you're looking for an alternative to black, definitely consider this one.
Knight Divine is a veluxe pearl shadow and described as black with silver pearl. This eyeshadow, in my humble opinion, is seriously underrated. It's a gorgeous, packed with pigment silver over a dark base and looks great in the centre of the lid over a grey smoky eye.
Carbon is supposedly a matte finish shadow and is described as intense black but as you can see from the swatch about, it's absolutely rubbish. There are way better matte black eyeshadows out there so this is one I would definitely recommend skipping.
Lastly but by no means leastly, the remainder of my MAC standard single eyeshadow collection comprise of 4 single shadows and a 4 pan palette with some of my absolute faves. I don't propose talking about the latter as I have already given my two cents on those shades but I will quickly run through the single shades in my collection.
Vanilla is a velvet finish shadow and described as a peachy-ivory with reflects. This shadow, like most of the velvet shadows, is very poorly pigmented and barely shows up at all on my lids.
Electra is a frost shadow and is simply described as a silver. This was one of my very first MAC shadows and I've gone through a few pans in the last 10 years. I have cool colouring and blue eyes so I like silvers and greys and this one is just the right shade for me.
Club is a satin shadow and is described as a red brown with green pearl but it really swatches more like a brown. I was hoping this would be a duochrome shade but, even though it looks green/red in the pan, it swatches as a warm brown, and so I'm a little disappointed by it. It's grand but I've never felt inclined to depot it and put it into a palette and I just don't find myself reaching for it.
Handwritten is a matte shadow and described as a neutral brown shade. I can't remember why I bought this and admittedly I very rarely reach for it but it's a decently pigmented, rich reddish brown shade and I will definitely try to incorporate it into some eye makeup going forward.

So there you have it - my single MAC eyeshadow collection in it's entirely. This was a long post and if you've stuck with me to the end, you deserve a medal. As I mentioned in the beginning, I know my MAC eyeshadow collection is very neutral heavy but thats's just because neutrals have a special place in my heart and I don't veer away from them very often. I hope this post was useful for those of you looking to avail of the price slash on single MAC eyeshadows - I know I'll be picking up a few more before long! On that note, if you have any colour recommendations, let me know!

As a matter of interest, what's your favourite MAC eyeshadow shade?

Sunday, 9 April 2017

New Skincare Regime feat. IMAGE Skincare, Kiehl's, Bioderma, Pixi

I've always been a bit paranoid about ageing but I really feel now, having turned 30 a few months back, that I did not take skincare seriously enough in my 20s. I spent lots of money of creams and lotions and potions but never really educated myself on my own skin type and what I need, and never really stuck to a diligent routine. I've committed any skincare sins - using face wipes to take off my makeup in a hurry, falling into bed with my makeup on after a night out, not using a specific SPF under my foundations but relied on the SPF in my foundation instead - you name it, I've done it. But since I turned 30 in October, I'm super hyper sensitive about ageing, fine lines and wrinkles and I am absolutely dedicated to turning my skincare routine around and becoming far more dedicated to my one simple regime. So over the last few weeks, I've met the experts and I've just set up a skin routine now which I hope will reap benefits over the coming weeks and months and I think it's worth sharing so hopefully some of you will find this useful.
You will see in this post that the vast majority of my skincare in my current routine is from one brand, IMAGE Skincare. Now I want to clear something up right off the bat - yes, I've been invited to several IMAGE Skincare PR events before and yes, I have been gifted some of their products through the years. HOWEVER, this post is in no way, shape or form a sponsored post or any kind of paid endorsement - I've been gifted some products below which I will denote with a * but I have forked out hundreds of euros of my own hard earned cash from my non-blog related day job to put together a tailored skincare routine because I am 100% serious about protecting my skin. I don't usually feel the need to spell it out but I just wanted to clarify that for the avoidance of all doubt. So if you are still interested in reading about my experience and the skincare journey that I have embarked on so far, keep reading! 

Firstly, I know IMAGE Skincare has featured a lot in the press recently and is a firm favourite of not only many bloggers but also many skincare professionals, aestheticians and salon owners who have advocated their products. IMAGE Skincare pride themselves on being the most innovative skincare brand in the industry. It is a professional only brand which means you can only buy it from salons after a proper consultation with an expert - which might make you think that this brand is not easily attainable - but looking at the list of stockists on their Irish distributors website, there are salons in every county across Ireland that offer IMAGE Skincare and treatments. I've not yet experienced an IMAGE Skincare treatment but it's on my to-do list as a priority. I did have a consultation with an IMAGE expert at a recent launch party where I was grilled on my current routine, my lifestyle, my requirements and my skin concerns, and she put together a routine for me based on what I told her and that is what I have based my current regime on. 

I think at this point I should point out my own specific concerns and what I am looking to address specifically over the coming weeks and months. I have pretty good skin in that I have never suffered from acne but I do get hormonal breakouts from time to time, particularly around my chin area. I used to have very dehydrated skin but I've noticed it's not quite as dehydrated anymore, but my skin is pretty sensitive, especially to AHAs, and certain products I have used in the past have caused a horrific reaction that looks like I've had a cup of boiling water thrown on my face. I don't have any major signs of ageing yet apart from a crevice on my forehead between my eyebrows (I'm from Cork like and we're very expressive) and fine lines under my eyes. My two main skin concerns (apart from ageing) currently are congestion (I don't have acne but I feel like my skin can look congested) and dullness (lacklustre skin, no glow - and I don't mean an oily glow). I long for a fresh clean and clear complexion so that's the context for the journey that I am taking. 
First up - my morning or AM routine. I have to admit I was not one for any detailed skincare routine in the mornings before I started on this IMAGE Skincare path - my morning routine usually just consisted of removing any residual mascara with some micellar on a cotton pad and slapping on a bit of a moisturiser that sits well under makeup. I know, I'm a sinner. The products that I have been "prescribed" for usage in the morning are the Iluma Lightening Cleanser (rrp €35.50) which is a gel-to-milk cleanser which is meant to remove surface impurities and brighten the complexion, the Iluma Lightening Serum (rrp €52) which is a brightening serum which is supposed to promote a clear, fresh-looking complexion and finally, my SPF for the day, the Prevention Daily Matte Moisturizer Oil Free SPF 32+* (rrp €45.50) which provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. I love the cleanser and the serum so far, as I mentioned I am not used to treating my skin in the mornings, and I'm still not 100% sure about the SPF. It applies nicely but does take a few minutes to go matte (I wouldn't say it's actually mattifying) but I will have to test this out with foundations over the next few weeks to make sure it doesn't wreak havoc on my makeup application. (*There was no full size available in the two beauty salons that I visited to purchase these products so I am using the samples that Victoria in Mudpie Beauty in Dundrum kindly gifted me to keep me going). I've also pictured my other facial SPF which I adore, the Kiehl's Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Sunscreen (rrp €39) - I love this stuff, it's amazing under makeup and I've not got as much as a single freckle despite spending a week in the blistering Italian sun since I started using this. 
I'm going to fast forward now to the end of the day when I am taking all of my makeup off. There is no greater feeling than washing away your face down the sink at nighttime I think. I usually start off by removing my eye makeup and the Nivea Extra Gentle Eye Makeup Remover (rrp €6.29) does a decent enough job of that - it doesn't sting my eyes even though it is quite heavily fragranced and it does a decent enough job at removing the first layer of eye makeup. I'm not sure whether I will repurchase it or not yet but for now, it's fine. I also have my trusty Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water (rrp €16.80) to take the first layer of my makeup away. This is my all time favourite micellar water since 2012 - I remember smuggling this stuff back in from France before it was available in Ireland. The final step in my makeup removal routine is the Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse (rrp €30.95) - I've done a full blog post on this recently enough so you can refer to that if you're curious about this product but needless to say, I am nearly on my second pot and I love using it for removing my makeup.
My nighttime or PM skincare routine is a bit more intensive than my AM routine. Once I have taken all my makeup off, I use the Clear Cell Salicylic Gel Cleanser (rrp €35.50) to cleanse my skin and exfoliate. Now this is where expert advice is greatly appreciated - I would never in a million years have picked this out for myself because I don't have oily skin or acne and would be afraid that this would dry out my skin as I'm sensitive to acids. This is supposed to help with the congestion and I've been using it for almost a week already with no sensitivity or issues to report. For serum, I was prescribed two to use simultaneously but unfortunately only one was available in stock in the salons I visited. The one that I am using currently is the Ormedic Balancing Anti-Oxidant Serum (rrp €65.50) which is designed to balance your skin from within, restore it to its ideal moisture levels and leave your skin intensely hydrated with a healthy glow. The other one that I have been prescribed and which I am yet to find is the Ageless Total Pure Hyaluronic Filler (rrp €72.50) which is meant to pump pure hydration back into your skin. I love a bit of hyaluronic so I can't wait to try this out. I follow up serums with the "repair" stage and for repair, I was prescribed the Ormedic Bio-Peptide Creme (rrp €78) which is full of anti-aging nutrients and vitamins and, like the serum, smells absolutely incredible. This entire combination leaves my skin feeling so plumped and clean every night, I've really been enjoying it. Finally, I was prescribed the Iluma Intense Brightening Eye Cream* (rrp €68.50) which promises to help reduce visible signs of aging around the eyes including puffiness, dark circles and wrinkles. I was gifted this product a while back and have loved it since so I was relieved when this eye cream was the one that was prescribed to me. Lastly, I use the Ormedic Balancing Lip Enhancement Complex* (rrp €25.50) because this is hands down the most effective lip balm I have and I have excessively dry lips - they do get terribly sore, particularly in colder months or the change in seasons. 
Aside from the skincare that I was prescribed, there are a few more items which I have been gifted by IMAGE Skincare that I have incorporated into my routine. The Vital C Hydrating Hand and Body Lotion* (rrp €49.50) is one of the newest IMAGE Skincare launches and I was given this about two weeks ago at the launch party and I've literally been lathering myself in it since - it smells so good I can't even deal. It is super rich and infused with shea butter but my dry skin and particularly my dry hands just soak this up. I read a scary statistic somewhere recently that basically said your hands are the biggest giveaway of your age so now of course I'm paranoid about my 30 year old hands letting me down so I've been applying this every night before bed and a few times during the day. The Stem Cell Masque* (rrp €46.50) has been a favourite mask of mine for months - whenever I use it, I feel like my skin looks that little bit more radiant, so I'm looking forward to incorporating it into my IMAGE Skincare routine. Finally, the Iluma Brightening Exfoliating Powder* (rrp €40.50) is described as a polishing powder packed with micro-exfoliating beads and this is a joy to use - I wet my hands and sprinkle a decent amount of the powder between my hands to make an exfoliating paste- it feels so gentle on the skin but my skin feels so smooth and er, polished, after using it. This is a definite repurchase for me when it runs out. 

So - I know that looks lengthy - but as I mentioned earlier, I'm in my 30s now and I really feel a lot of pressure to look after my skin. I've invested a small fortune so far in IMAGE Skincare in particular and I'm so grateful to have been gifted some bits also but I would love for the summer months to roll around and for me to feel comfortable going foundation free. I cannot stress the importance of getting a proper consultation done by an IMAGE Skincare professional because, in all honesty if I was just handed the catalogue of IMAGE Skincare products, I don't think I would have picked out the same. I'm only little over one week into my new skincare routine and no adverse reactions so far thank god but not much of a noticeable difference yet - I'm not disheartened because I know it takes at least a month to see the full effects of a new regime. Believe it or not, I still need to supplement this routine with a few more products that have been prescribed to me - my consultant recommended that I take a daily collagen shot called Yana Daily Collagen Shots daily which I will probably give a try for at least a month. I've tried a couple of samples of the Ageless Total Overnight Retinol Mask which is supposed to be brilliant for anti-ageing (and felt great on my skin too) so I will try to incorporate that into my routine and of course, as I mentioned already, I need to get my hands on both the Ageless Pure Hyaluronic Filler and the Prevention+ SPF. I've also been advised to get some IMAGE Skincare peels so I will look into that too in the coming months. Either way, it's an exciting journey so I'm looking forward to sharing some insights with you on a periodic basis. 

I know this was a whopper long post but I just wanted to be as detailed as possible. It took a while for me to get to this point but turning 30 really has put the fear of god into me. 

Are there any particular skincare products or treatments that you are loving right now? 


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Penneys/Primark - 16 New Budget Beauty Hacks!

I'd say it's ingrained in the DNA of about 99% of Irish women to love Penneys (or Primark in the UK/US). For years, Penneys was the go-to for cheap and cheerful fashion fixes, but in the last two years or so, Penneys has morphed into an entirely different beast. One of the greatest reinventions in Penneys-land has been the introduction of their PS Love beauty lines, the introduction of beauty bars in large flagship stores (have you seen the one in the mothership store on Mary Street?) and of course, the inclusion of tons of beauty hacks in their seasonal line ups. I cannot go into a Penneys now without visiting the beauty section - along with their own budget beauty brands, most Penneys stores stock a variety of other brands too - Essence, Catrice, Wet n Wild, Rimmel, Flormar, Cocoa Brown, Maybelline etc etc. Now I know Penneys can be hit and miss and stock flies out the door but I just wanted to take this opportunity to share some beauty bits and bobs that I have found instore in various Penneys in the last few weeks and months - some that I have loved, some that I have loathed and some I feel entirely dispassionate about. Feel free to share your Penneys beauty hacks in the comments below too!
 The Come Clean Cloth is obviously a not so discreet version of the Makeup Eraser which I've seen in Sephora retailing for $20 for one single cloth. These Penneys versions are €4 for 3 - which is entirely more affordable. Now I could never justify paying the 20 odd quid for a single cloth no matter how miraculous it promises to be, so I joyfully picked these up. I don't like these as much as the next product but they are grand - like soft facecloths. Even though it promises to remove your makeup without water, I would definitely use makeup remover with these and I've been using the Pixi + Caroline Hirons Double Cleanse and it works a charm. I never re-use these as I use a fresh facecloth to take off my makeup every night. I can't comment as to whether this is a dupe for the much more expensive version but taking it for what it is, it's a nice facecloth for removing makeup.

The Come Clean Mitt, similar to the Come Clean Cloth, promises to remove your makeup with just water but again, I wear full face of foundation, eyeliner, mascara and liquid lipsticks most days and I just don't feel like water would be enough to thoroughly remove all makeup. We've seen the likes of these mitts before - the Nima Mitt and the Cleanse Off Mitt to name but two examples - but this one is different because the back of it is waffled and alot more exfoliating on the skin. I quite like it actually as you can be as vigorous or as gentle as you like with it. Again, I would only use this once before putting it in the wash, but at €3 for 3, it won't break the bank to have a few on the go.

Time to Come Clean Micellar Cleansing Water - I absolutely hated this. It's not fragranced but I used it once on one half of my face to remove my makeup and it made my skin very angry and red very quickly. I've banished it to the back of my drawer since and I will not be trying this out on my face again. It might only have been €2.50

Brush Cleaner is obviously based on the Sigma brush cleaning accessories as it is a soft silicone pad that you can slip on your hand and use to scrub the makeup off the innermost bristles of your favourite brushes. I quite enjoy using this, it makes the brush washing experience a little less tedious! I like that it's not a glove but that you can still put your hand into it to keep it steady and for €2.50, it's well worth the investment.
 PS Hollywood Oil Pulling Sachets - now the thought of swishing coconut oil around in my mouth for 15 minutes is seriously gag-inducing, in the interests of dental hygiene, it's worth it - right? I'm trying to psych myself up to try these out but I just can't muster up the courage. If you've tried them, let me know what you thought of the experience below in the comments!

Shoe Size Adjusters - now this is not strictly beauty but as someone with a very small foot (size 3), it's often difficult to get shoes in my size, particularly heels or shoes for work where a lot of brands start with a size 4. I saw these little foam adjusters and I thought they were the must ingenious idea EV-ER and if they work I am going to go back and buy them by the dozen.

PS Lip Scrub - I suffer from dry chapped lips so I thought a portable lip scrub would be a good investment but unfortunately it's not very scrubby and tastes like children's lipstick so this is a definite non-recommendation from me but I'm not going to cry over the €1.50 that it cost!

Small Plastic Pots - we're coming into holiday season again and these little pots are the absolute business for traveling. I like to decant my foundation/face creams/hair masks into these and bring them with me when I am travelling. I always stock up when I see them and I think they are only a €1 for 5 little pots so it's way cheaper than buying miniature sizes of your favourite products too!
The PS Insta Girl Flash Photo Powder has been doing the rounds on social media over the last few weeks since it was released along with the rest of the PS Insta Girl range. As if the name didn't give it away, these products are aimed toward perfecting your selfies for killer Insta photos. I've tried this powder a few times and I'm not blown away yet - it's very finely milled but also very blue and even though it doesn't leave a blue cast a la Smurf on my face when I apply it over my foundation, it certainly pales my face out a bit and leaves me slightly dead looking. Maybe I am not using it right or I haven't given it a fair chance yet but I'm not feeling the alleged genius in this product yet.

Masks - from lip masks to eye patches to bubbling face masks, there is a huge range of masks available in Penneys atm. I bought these with a great sense of trepidation - I have sensitive skin and I hate the Penneys Micellar Water. However, I had the same sense of trepidation about the Garnier Moisture Bomb tissue masks and my skin laps those up so I thought it was worth trying the once. So far I have tried the Cranberry Lip Mask (which must have been made for people with HUGE mouths because it covered half of my face and made no difference whatsoever to the state of my kissers!) and the Vitamin E Eye Treatment Patches which (miraculously!) did not irritate my eyes but I'm not convinced they did any good either as they are quite thin and didn't seem to be soaked in much product. The latter might be nice to keep in the fridge (handy resealable pouch and comes with 15 treatments) for a hot summer day when I'm feeling toasty but aside from that, with skincare, I believe (for the most part) that you get what you pay for so my expectations were pretty low and my experience was grand - no adverse reactions but no noticeable results.

Mixing Palette and Spatula Set - these first arrived in Penneys months ago and even though I searched high and low for them at the time, I was never able to find them in stock anywhere. One day when I was browsing the Penneys in the shopping centre that time forgot i.e. Nutgrove, I came across these so I of course picked up two for me and some more for my pals and I've loved using these. I often use lightening drops with my foundations and this palette is heck of a lot more convenient than applying both to the back of my hand! I haven't found a use for the spatula yet but give me time!

Pencil Sharpener - sharpeners are one of those staples that you take for granted until you can't find one and your favourite lipliners are nubs and badly need to be pared. I wasn't setting out to buy one but this little rose gold heart caught my eye and it's one of those dual sharpeners with a hole for normal pencils and a hole for chunky pencils. I bought two of these such is my fear of not being able to find my sharpener when I need it but for a €1 a piece, I can't complain!
Tan Be Gone Exfoliating Mitt - we're coming into tanning season now and I never sunbathe so I am reliant on the bottle to get my colour. I am pretty lazy in the summer months when it comes to taking care of my body skin - I lash on a bit of moisturiser but I practically never show any skin so I'm not too concerned with exfoliating/fake tanning during the winter months. I use this in the shower with my shower gel of choice and whilst it's definitely a good scrub, it's a step short of sandpaper for the skin. What I like about it is that it's mitt and not glove shaped, it's not too rough and my skin definitely feels smoother. It's probably not a revolutionary product but it serves it's purpose well.

Beauty Sponges - I've a couple of Beauty Blenders but I'm not a mad one for the beauty sponges usually so I picked these up a few months back to try out the different shapes and sizes and see if one of these would suit better. I got a 3 pack of the mini beauty sponges last year and I really enjoyed those for tapping a bit of concealer on my undereyes so hopefully these will be similar in texture.

Makeup Sponge Cleanser - People were losing their lives over this stuff when it first came out and after giving it a go myself, I can't really see why to be honest! Ok, it's cheap ish but actually it's not that cheap really - I will elaborate. Even though it costs just €2.50, the actual soap is so tiny and it's not fixed in the little pot that I just found I ended up with a fiddly little disc of soap for washing my brushes - grand for eye brushes and the like but more fiddly for foundation brushes. I way way prefer the Blank Canvas Cosmetics Brush & Sponge Solid Soap to this one - it's way bigger so easier to swirl your brushes, and the soap is fixed to the metal container so it's easier to go through numerous brushes in one cleaning spree. I've been using soap to wash my brushes for probably 9/10 years now and there is nothing at all wrong with an ordinary bar of soap that you can buy in the supermarket for less than a euro a piece. I used to use a Palmolive one that came in a set of 3 for €1.49 in Dealz and it was great! The soap didn't damage my brushes in any way and left them clean. This product, for me, was all hype and little substance unfortunately.

Makeup Sponges - lastly but not leastly, I think this 25 pack of disposable makeup sponges is the absolute business. Whenever I applied liquid highlighters with my fingers or a brush, I make a balls of it, but the pink sponges make it a doddle. I also like to bring the white ones with me in an empty mirrored compact to blot if I get a bit shiny during the warmest summer months - it's so handy when you don't want to add powder and you won't cry over tossing the sponge in the bin when you're done.

So as you can - definitely a mixed bag of products with some finds and some fails - but when the products are only a couple of euros a piece, how could you not try them out! I definitely think it's worth a chance because you never know when you might be on to the next big thing. The great thing about it is that if I was to walk into Penneys again in the morning, they would probably have a whole other range of goodies ripe for the picking! Have you tried any of these products and what did you think of them?
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