Friday, 28 November 2014

L'Occitane The Best of L'Occitane collection - Christmas Gift Guide

If you're a fan of L'Occitane (and let's face it, who isn't!), their Christmas collections are definitely a must-have item for your gift wish list this December.

The Best of L'Occitane set is exactly that - jam-packed with cult favourites from across L'Occitane's different ranges, packaged up in a beautiful gift box.

L'Occitane the best of l'occitane collection

L'Occitane the best of l'occitane collection

Inside the box you'll find:
- 250ml Almond Shower Oil
- 250ml Cherry Blossom Shower Gel
- 100ml Ultra Rich Body Cream
- 100ml Lavender Foaming Bath
- 75ml Shea Butter Hand Cream
- 30ml Shea Butter Foot Cream
- 20ml Verbena Eau de Toilette.

I don't think there's a disappointing product inside this box - it's the perfect mix of things for your body, hands and feet, and is a great selection for brands fans and newbies alike. It's also great value for money as the contents are worth over £91.50 but the set costs £65, so you're essentially getting two products for free.

If you're a fan of a particular range from L'Occitane, they also have plenty of scent-specific gift sets which are definitely worth checking out. These are slightly smaller than the Best of L'Occitane, but are still packed with goodies. Choose from Almond, Cherry Blossom, Shea Butter, Lavender, Rose, Verbena and their new fragrance Arlesienne. There's even one for the boys, as let's face it, who wants to share this little beauty with the boyfriend!

L'Occitane's Christmas gift sets are available both online and in stores. I'll also be picking up a few of their hand cream trios for friends and family - at £22 these make lovely gifts at a slightly lower budget and are some of the best hand creams around!

Are you a fan of L'Occitane? What do you think of this gift set?

*PR sample
Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas gift ideas: stocking fillers part 1

Christmas is sneaking up on us seriously fast - with only five weeks to go before the big day, it's time to get down to the serious business of gift planning. I've put together a selection of my top stocking fillers for beauty addicts at £10 or under. There are dozens of great ones to choose from, so look out for part two coming soon!

Christmas beauty stocking fillers under £10

Scratch and sniff nail art stickers* - cheap, cheerful and the perfect gift for any nail art lovers, these pina colada scented stickers will keep you thinking of summer cocktails and sunshine no matter how cold it is outside! £2.50

The Body Shop penguin sponge* - super cute and the perfect bath companion, this little penguin is a must-have for all ages. There's also a polar bear version which is just as cute - I plan to buy several of these as little stocking fillers for friends and family. £5

Bomb Cosmetics Snow Globe soap* - this little soap wedge smells amazing, and is something you'll wish you stocked up on to have throughout the year. If you're a fan of Lush, you'll love Bomb Cosmetics - they have a fab range of bath bombs, soap and other treats and are great value for money. Find them online. £2.49

Kitsch Christmas hair ties* - who doesn't like a bit of glitter for the festive season! These limited edition hair ties from Kistch are a less 'in your face' way to get festive than the traditional Christmas Jumper and are something you'll be able to wear all year. They're non-kink, so won't leave you with big dents in your hair even after a full day's wear and make the perfect stocking filler. £7.50 from Boots.

Soapsmith Pudding Lane soap* - it wouldn't be Christmas without Christmas pudding, and this non-edible version smells just like the real thing (minus the brandy butter)! Find it Fenwicks, Whole Foods and online from Victoria Health for £8.

Minnie Mouse Lip Smackers* - if you've got any Disney fans to buy for, these Minne Mouse printed Lip Smacker lip balms are the perfect low-cost solution. They cost £3.50 each and come in a variety of different prints and berry flavours. Find them in Claire's Accessories.

Snow White hand-held mirror* - if you're looking for a slightly more grown up version on what has become a Disney classic, this Snow White illustrated hand mirror is definitely a good choice. It features Snow White and her seven dwarves and I think is a gift that would appeal to a large age group. It's also a bit of a bargain at £8.13 from Flamingo Gifts.

There'll be more stocking filler ideas coming up very soon - do any of these take your fancy?

*PR samples

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The ultimate guide to foundation

Foundation is a key part of many of our makeup regimes, but finding the perfect one can be a minefield. Whether it’s trying to find your colour match, or decide on the right type of finish for your skin, I’ve put together some of my key tips in this guide to foundation.

foundation, powders and makeup brushes

When it comes to picking the right shade, you want to look for something that once applied, is virtually invisible on your face. You’re looking for a ‘your skin, but better’ look – you don’t want to get compliments on your foundation after all, just the fact you have radiant looking skin. 

Apply a small amount to your jaw line (not your neck or hand) and blend in with a brush/finger. If you can see where you applied the foundation, it’s the wrong shade – it should look totally natural and blend with your skin. 

If you’re being colour-matched in a store, always go outside and see how it looks in natural light. The bright lights of department stores tend to distort colours slightly and you don’t want to purchase a new bottle of foundation and find out it’s not quite right. 

If possible, ask for a sample of foundation to try out at home. After all, you’ll be the one applying it and you want to ensure you can get a good finish with the tools you have at home, see how it wears on your skin and give it a thorough testing. Most large beauty counters will happily oblige, especially if they have a new foundation range out. 

Foundation types
- Mineral Powder – loose powder foundation made up of mineral pigments that needs to be applied with a buffing brush. Versatile in terms of coverage, they can be layered up depending on how heavy it needs to be. Use a primer underneath these to extend the wear time; some brands can be a little drying so not the best solution for very dry skin. 

- Liquid – the most popular formula, you’ll find thousands of different liquid foundations that promise light, medium or full coverage, in both matte or ‘glowy’ finishes. Can be applied using fingers, sponge or a brush. 

- Cream – generally these come in a compact and tend to be medium/heavy coverage foundations. Can look a bit 'cakey' if applied too heavily.

- Powder – less popular than in previous years, pressed powder foundations tend to come in compacts and offer a buildable coverage. They can be applied with either a brush or a powder puff and leave skin with a very matte finish. 

- BB/CC cream – Blemish Balms (BB) and Colour Correct (CC) creams were originally created in Asia and have a light coverage, but also offer some skincare benefits. CC creams are also designed to offer colour correcting properties, so may be targeted at reducing the appearance of redness in the skin, or covering dark circles/patches. 

- Tinted Moisturiser – very light coverage, usually offers moisturising benefits with a hint of colour. Tends to have a short wear time.

What sort of coverage do I need? 
When it comes to foundation, ‘coverage’ really just means how fully you want your natural skin to be covered by the product. 

Light coverage – These tend to be things such as tinted moisturisers and BB/CC creams which add a hint of colour to the skin, evening out your natural skin tone while still allowing things like freckles to show through. These are great if you just want a little help to balance out your skin, and are often perfect for summer when we tend to wear less makeup. 

Medium coverage – medium coverage products do exactly that – they give a decent amount of coverage but don’t totally cover over all of your skin underneath. Medium coverage products tend to be my go tos – they even out my complexion without making it look like I'm wearing a mask and tend to last well throughout the day. 

Full/heavy coverage – these offer the heaviest coverage of the lot. You won’t see much of your natural skin tone underneath this and they can be good for anyone trying to cover up skin pigment issues, redness etc. They can be a little heavy on the skin, so will need some seriously good cleansing at night to remove them, but do generally tend to wear well throughout the day and into the night. They can look a little mask-like if applied too enthusiastically, so start light and only apply more if you really need to. 

Application tools:
Brushes – for powder products, try a buffing brush, which tend to be circular, slightly dome-shaped. These are best used in small circular motions and will work powder products into skin for an invisible finish. For liquid foundations, a more typical foundation brush works well – these are usually flatter in shape and will allow you to get into smaller areas of the face more easily. Brushes need to be washed regularly (ideally weekly) to stop them from becoming clogged up with product, giving you a poor finish and possibly the chance of spots from bacteria held in the brush. Wash with a specialist brush cleaner, or a gentle soap like Dr. Bronner’s. 

Sponges – for liquid and cream foundations, sponges can work really well at getting a flawless finish. Try something like a Beauty Blender or the Real Techniques Miracle Sponge and apply in dabbing (not rubbing) motions until you’re happy with the coverage. Make sure to dampen the sponge prior to use, as this will help stop the sponge soaking up all of the product. You will end up losing some product to the sponge, so do take into account the fact you’ll probably need to repurchase a little quicker. 

Fingers – our fingers are great tools for blending foundation. Obviously if you use a powder product they won’t work, but for creams and liquids they’re an excellent (and free!) choice. Try not to rub the skin, gently press and pat the foundation into place. 

Application tips and tricks 
- When applying foundation, start at the centre of your face and work out. We tend to need most coverage down the centre panel of our face (forehead, nose, chin etc.) so start there and then work your way out. You’ll need a lot less product at the side of your face (maybe even none!), so blend away until you’re happy with the natural result.

- If you use a sponge to apply your foundation, make sure you use it slightly damp – this will help less product to soak into the sponge when you’re applying your makeup.

- For longer-lasting foundation, use a good primer underneath it. Primers prep the skin’s surface and also extend the wear time of your makeup. My favourite is Dermalogica’s Skin Perfecting Primer as it gives a great finish and helps my makeup stay in place all day. 

- If you tan, you’ll probably need several different shades of foundation for different times of the year in order to get a good match. Get colour-matched as the seasons change (or pre/post holiday) to make sure you’ve always got the perfect shade. 

- For pale skin tones, it can be hard to find a shade light enough. Brands like Illamasqua sell pure white foundations which you can mix up with any liquid foundation to create a perfect custom colour. It can make such a big difference, especially when you’re buying foundation from the high street which often has less shade options than higher end brands. 

What are your top foundation tips/tricks? Are there any questions you’d love to know the answer to?