Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Comparison: Sanctuary Vs Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleansers :)

As promised, here is a quick, comparison of the two hot cloth cleansers I've tried- as a summary of my full reviews (linked below) - I hope you find it helpful (any questions, let me know in the comments!) :)

Vitamin E Cleanser-

  • Very gentle on my skin- even on dry/irritated patches!
  • Has a softer muslin cloth- which is gentler and easier to use.
  • Doesn't break me out or cause any skin issues
  • Cheap! Even at £5.99 I think it's reasonable for 200ml
  • Smells lovely (to me anyway)

  • Probably not so good for oilier skin
  • Sometimes hard to get hold of (Superdrug needs to stock it properly!)

Sanctuary Cleanser-

  • Doesn't break me out or cause any skin issues
  • Fairly gentle on my skin (though not when it's feeling irritated)
  • Would be good for those with oilier skin
  • Provides good exfoliation

  • Smells a little odd (to me anyway)
  • More expensive
  • Less gentle muslin cloth
  • Can be too harsh for dry/sensitive skin

Overall I would recommend the Vitamin E cleanser for those with drier and more sensitive skin, and the Sanctuary cleanser for those with oilier skin :)


Review: Sanctuary Polishing Hot Cloth Cleanser.

I got this cleanser for Christmas (I requested it) because I'd heard so much about hot cloth cleansers and as I knew I wanted the Sanctuary 5 Minute Thermal Mask, and all the 'premium skincare' was on a 3 for 2 offer I decided to ask for this :)

I'm sure a lot of you will find a comparison to my Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleanser interesting/useful, but in the interest of fairness, I'll be giving this a full review of it's own here, and I'll post a short comparison post later on today.

The Sanctuary cleanser is on the pricier side for me, at £10.20 for 125ml at Boots- although compared to other options (like the famous Liz Earle) it is still reasonable. It comes in a box with a muslin cloth which is about 20cm square.

The cleanser contains many lovely ingredients; including cocoa seed butter (the second ingredient!) coconut oil, glycerin, jojoba oil etc. But despite that I'm not sure I like the scent- it's partly herbal and fruity, but at the same time, it reminds me a little of the Sanctuary thermal mask... However, it doesn't have a too strong a scent, I can only smell it if I really sniff the bottle, and I don't think it would really put you off too much :)

It has a thick texture, much like a body butter, but by warming it up a little between my fingers it will apply to my face quite easily. Once massaged into my skin it does still remain quite creamy, which makes it harder to get a really deep clean- and it doesn't remove make up particularly well (I don't rely on my cleanser to remove make up, but it's worth considering!) but after working it over with the cloth my skin does feel properly clean :)
The muslin cloth is a little stiffer and more abrasive than I'd like- it's not too easy to exfoliate around my nose, and I find it a little too harsh for use around my eyes. Someone with less sensitive skin would probably like it though, as it does give a stronger exfoliation- and it's by no means harsh, just a little more exfoliating than I'd prefer. 

I also have a minor gripe about the packaging- I really hate tubes that you have to twist the top off all the way, I find them really inconvenient.

The formula can leave my skin feeling a little tight (in the 'slightly dry' way) which isn't brilliant for my skin, although recently it has been really good at keeping my monthly hormonal outbreak at a minimum (when my skin is less dry, and more spot prone)- so I may actually switch in between this and my Vitamin E cleanser depending on when I need them, instead of using one then the other up.

In fairness to Sanctuary, at no point does this product claim to be suitable for dry or sensitive skin (it doesn't mention a skin type on the packaging at all) so the fact that it does work quite well for me shows how versatile it actually is, but I don't think I'll be repurchasing this one. However I do really recommend it to those with oilier skins, as I think it would be a really good hot cloth cleanser for them.

Have you tried this hot cloth cleanser? Are you a hot cloth cleanser convert? (if so which one is your favourite?)


Monday, 30 January 2012

Challenge Week 18: Inspired by a Film/TV Show! (Doctor Who Nails!!!!!!)

Sorry there were no posts from me this weekend- I had planned to make cupcakes (black bottomed cheesecake cupcakes!) and post the recipe, as well as a review on my Sanctuary cleanser, but a combination of feeling ill, and catching up with friends (my best friend has finally come back to the UK after several years at uni in America!) delayed me somewhat... But I'm feeling a bit better today (though Amy has had the day off of school :( ) and I've painted my nails!

This weeks 52 week challenge theme is inspired by a TV show or film, and after a few seconds thought, I knew I had to do Doctor Who nails- I've been wanting to do them for a while, and this is the perfect opportunity/excuse! :)

Despite my eagerness, it took me a while to think of 5 things to paint on my nails- my artistic 'talent' is still lacking (though I think I am getting better with a brush) and limits me a little (I would have loved to do Weeping Angels and Cybermen, but I know they wouldn't turn out as I'd like), but I decided upon (obviously) a TARDIS, the 11th Doctors bow tie, a Dalek, a galaxy nail and tally marks (like Amy's arms at the start of series 6, some of my favourite episodes).

And instead of trying to describe each nail individually, here are a few close-ups :)

Little Finger- Tally Marks!

e.l.f. Nude, Black Art Deco Liner

This was a pretty simple one, I used two coats of e.l.f. Nude, then added the tally marks using my LA Colours Art Deco liner (I'm so glad I found this in poundland!)

Ring Finger- The TARDIS

No7 Poolside Blue, Black Art Deco Liner, Models Own
Snow White, No7 I'm Exquisite

No Doctor Who nail art would be complete without a TARDIS, and luckily I found a really good TARDIS blue polish recently, No7 Poolside Blue (which will now always be TARDIS blue in my head) I used one coat of that (it's a brilliant polish!) then added the lines for the door and roof with the Art Deco Liner. With a small nail art brush I added in the windows and the Police Telephone sign with Models Own Snow White, and topped it all of with a tiny dot of I'm Exquisite for the light on top :)

Middle Finger- Galaxy

Models Own Pro Midnight Blue, Natural Collection Lunar Haze,
George Ultraviolet, e.l.f. Blush, e.l.f. Pearl, Collection 2000 Sparkle Top Coat

Capturing the whole of time and space on one little nail is hard, but I tried my best- I used two coats of Models Own Midnight Blue, a beautiful deep blue with lots of navy glitter, then 'sponged' with a cotton bud (I wanted something really small) little bits of Lunar Haze Ultraviolet, Blush and Pearl over the nail. I then added dots of e.l.f. Pearl as stars/planets, and added a final coat of the Collection 2000 Sparkle Top Coat :)

Index Finger- Bow Ties are Cool!

17 Nail Tip Whitener, 17 Risky Red

Another simple nail; I used a nail tip whitener instead of a white polish- as The Doctor rarely wears a pure white shirt, this is a good off-white alternative- it took three coats. Then I added stripes of Risky Red as his braces (unfortunately they are a little off-centre... perhaps you hadn't noticed?) then used a tiny dotting tool and a small brush to draw on his bow-tie :)

Thumb- Dalek

No7 I'm Exquisite, e.l.f. Blush

Instead of drawing a whole Dalek, I thought I'd go for a more abstract nail- with just a gold background and the round stud things (what the heck are they called...?)  that cover the Daleks bodywork. I painted two coats of I'm Exquisite (a silly name for a Dalek colour!) then added dots of e.l.f. Blush with a larger dotting tool.

So there are my TV inspired nails- I love them! And I'm ready for The Doctor to appear in my garden now :)

What's your favourite TV show? Has it ever been inspired to do nail art?


Friday, 27 January 2012

A Mini Haul and Reviews (Mint Carmex, technic Carnival and Barbera Daly Lip Balm!)

Over the past week I've gotten my hands on a couple of little items that aren't really 'worth' their own review post, but I wanted to share my thoughts anyway :)

First of all I finally purchased a Mint Carmex tube from Superdrug (on special at £1.99, usually £2.54) I've been wanting one for a while; my love of Carmex is well-documented, and I also love mint- why wouldn't I want this?!

It turns out that this is fast becoming my favourite Carmex variety- I love the minty 'flavour' as it gives my lips a lovely tingly feeling when first applied, and it also has the same really moisturising formula as the Carmex pots. The fact that it is in a tube makes it easier (and more hygienic) to apply, although you do have to be careful if the product is warm as it can come out too fast. I really love this, and I'm annoyed at myself for not buying it sooner!

The next thing I have (which is the main reason I'm posting this today- I am super excited about it!) is a technic polish in Carnival. I found this little beauty on eBay for £2.99 and I couldn't resist. I've been lusting after OPI Rainbow Connection since that came out, so after seeing that this polish is a good dupe I went hunting! It's so pretty!!!! Unfortunately I didn't think it would go too well with my current polish (17 Revenge) so I made do with taking a tonne of pictures...

And finally, an unexpected package dropped through my postbox this week- a Luscious Lip Balm from Barbera Daly, as a 'thank you' for filling in a Tesco online survey (yay- I love unexpected free stuff!) I think this retails for £5.75, and to be honest I'm not sure it's worth that (there's only 4ml of product) but I do like it.

The packaging is a bit naff- especially the black plastic box that nearly cut my hand! But the lip balm itself is lovely. I have Cherish, which is a lovely deep red shade and it's nicely pigmented- just the right amount for a tinted lip balm (not too bright that application is hard, and not too sheer that it's not visible)

It has a nice scent that faintly reminds me of cherries and marzipan, and (for a tinted lip balm) it is quite moisturising. Like most tinted lip balms I probably wouldn't rely on this if I have chapped or dry lips, but I think it would be a nice product to use everyday to brighten up my lips :)

What have you been buying recently?


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Nail of the Day: Revenge is Pretty! :)

It's been quite a while since I did a really simple mani- with just one polish and no stamping/taping/dotting etc. But I was feeling pretty lazy today, and I spotted the perfect 'lazy mani' colour in my collection - 17s Revenge. Revenge is a beautiful brown shade from last years Autumn collection; it has a hint of auberginey tones, and a lovely pink duochrome effect over the top- I've not worn it nearly as much as it deserves, it's awesome!

I used my lovely Sally Hansen Double Duty and Insta-Dri combination, along with 2 coats of Revenge. I don't know if it's deteriorated over time, or if it's just not a brilliant formula but the polish was a little gloopy and hard to apply, although luckily it smoothed itself over and you can't tell- I just hope it doesn't get any worse!

I love these kinds of polishes- so easy but still really interesting, and it tends to look different in every light :) I love a good duo chrome! I'm still on the fence about the Models Own Beetlejuice collection (all duochromes) I don't love them as much as I thought I would so I've still not purchased any, but this polish- and remembering how much I adore duo chrome polishes- has made me rethink... so much for the nail polish spending ban!


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review: L'Oreal Hair Expertise EverStrong Shampoo and Conditioner.

The Loreal Hair Expertise range has been available in the US for some time now, and it's finally making it's way into UK stores in February :) I was lucky enough to be sent this a while ago (end of November I think) as I'm a member of the Elle Reader Panel- so I've had the chance to put it through it's paces :)

There are three choices within the range, in the US they are Reconstruct (which I have) Hydrate and Bodify, and in the UK they are called Reinforcing and Vitality, Colour Care and Smoothing (though I think they are just renamed and repackaged, not reformulated from the US versions)

I think the UK packaging will look similar,
just in different colours.

The whole EverStrong range is free from sulphates and silicones (the lathering ingredients, and the things that make your hair feel shiny, but feel rubbish) and other things like salts that are not brilliant for your hair. It's also vegan friendly and not tested on animals (though I'm not sure I'm convinced by that, I know L'Oreal is usually on the 'does test on animals' lists)

As soon as I looked at the label I though this would work well for me- I'm certain that my skin reacts badly to SLS, and as I have very fine hair I get product build-up really easily (which is really obvious as I'm blonde) and my first instinct was definitely correct :)

The texture of both the shampoo and conditioner is a little unusual- they are both really thick, creamy products- they look more like thick face creams or body lotions (thick: body butter in a tube) than hair products! They also smell amazing- they contain herbal extracts (the Reconstruct range has rosemary, juniper and mint) and both products have a lovely herbal scent (though it's not overpoweringly strong, I don't think it would bother you) which would also be nice and 'man friendly'; there's nothing floral or particularly feminine here.

Look how thick the conditioner is- I can turn my hand
upside down and it still holds it's shape!

Depite not containing SLS it actually lathers pretty well- forming a thick foamy texture that reminds me of hair mousse (just as it leaves the can, not once it's dry and crispy!) The shampoo works really well to clean my hair, without leaving it feeling stripped of all it's natural oils- and I never knew how irritated my scalp was until I used this shampoo and my scalp felt 100% better, just to test I went back to another shampoo for a couple of washes and my scalp felt awful again- it definitely does not like SLS! It also doesn't leave my hair with that horrible siliconey build-up, meaning that my hair still looks and feels OK on day 2 (I wash my hair every other day) and I find myself using Batiste a lot less frequently.

Similarly, the conditioner is absolutely brilliant. I think I've mentioned before that I rarely use a conditioner, as I've yet to find one that moisturises my hair without leaving a tonne of product build up, weighing my hair down or making it look greasy within hours.... but I've found one at last! This conditioner is the first I've ever used that I actually like and I'm totally amazed! I don't really know how it compares to other conditioners, but I know that I reall love this one; it controls my flyaway hair and makes it feel really smooth and silky, without weighing it down and making it feel greasy .

My one, small, gripe with this product is the packaging; the tube is made of quite a thin, flimsy plastic (much thinner than other shampoo bottles I've used), which combined with the really thick product makes it quite hard to squeeze out the product (instead of pushing out product, the tube just sort-of collapses), and once I got down to about 1/3 of a bottle, I could no longer squeeze my shampoo out... I did decant the shampoo into a smaller bottle, but it did kind of annoy me that I had too.

Overall I really really love this range, my hair has honestly never felt so good (despite being in serious need of a trim) and when it's released in the UK I will definitely be purchasing it, and I  recommend giving it a try, especially if you're sensitive to SLS, or if you're looking for cheap, nasties-free haircare (RRP will be £5.99 for 250ml!)

Are you a fan of sulphate free haircare products? Or (like me) do you not really think about what you're putting on your hair?


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

If money were no object... #6

I haven't done one of these kinds of posts in a while, and since then lots of the new spring/summer collections have been released, so naturally there are a couple of things I'd rather like to get my hands on!

First up is something that is more a case of a 'wait until they're available' than a 'if money were no object' product, because although they are on sale in the US now, we have to wait until sometime in March (or so I've heard) to get our hands on them (and they'll probably be much more expensive...) but they do look awesome- a well pigmented tinted lip balm that is also very moisturising- you know how much I love lip balm!- and have recieved many many good reviews- I'm sure I'll pick at least one up when they arrive :)

A more practical wish this time; my computer is getting a little slow (though it is about 4/5 years old...) and I think it's partly because my hard drive is pretty full (I only have about 300GB of space and I have a lot of pictures, films and tv shows on my computer) and I'd really like to be able to store some stuff outside of my computer... however, external hard drives are pretty expensive (at least for me) and it's not something I can afford right now... maybe if I stopped buying nail polish?...

Speaking of nail polish... flakies are set to be this years crackle polishes- i.e. everywhere! But unfortunately UK retail doesn't seem to have noticed yet, and finding flaky polishes is hard! I have a lovely Andrea Fulerton 'Gemstone Overcoat' which is an orangey green flaky- see it in yesterdays Red NOTD, and Enigma told me that Maybelline also have one- but the US has so many options, including a whole range by FingerPaints: 5 flaky polishes each with a different duochrome flaky colour effect... drool... Head to The PolishAholic for some absolutely beautiful swatches :)

They look so boring in the bottle...

I know I've mentioned an iPhone and a Kindle in previous wishlist posts, but in my money-free dreamworld I'd love to have an iPad too- a friend of mine got one for Christmas so I've played about with it a few times recently and it's SO much fun! I think I'd actually prefer my cheap phone and an iPad to having an iPhone as the iPad can do so much more... and I love that they're so portable :) The chances of me getting one anytime soon are practically zero, I'll make do with my (slow and unmoveable) computer!

What are you lusting after at the moment?


Monday, 23 January 2012

Challenge Week 17: Red!

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with red polish, I think it looks really pretty but I always find it really hard to apply (because it stains your skin and nails so easily- and if I'm not super carefull my skin ends up looking red and sore) plus I don't think my camera is very good at capturing red shades.

Nevertheless, this weeks 52 week nail challenge theme is red, so I dutifully got out my red polishes and came up with this glittery taping manicure :)

I started out with two coats of e.l.f. Red Velvet, a beautiful shimmery red shade :) Plus it's named after cake so it automatically gets my approval! (I wore this on Christmas day but I forgot to photograph it for you- it's a very good festive polish!)

e.l.f. Red Velvet

Then I taped sections off with de-stickied tape, and painted in some slices of Barry M Red Glitter :) If you'd like some more in-depth info on how I do tape manis, I made a tutorial in week 8 of the challenge. I also wanted to test out my Andrea Fullerton flaky as I thought it would look particularly good over red, so I added that as an accent on my ring finger. I really like how they came out, but they didn't photograph particularly well (sorry!) - the glitter in the pictures looks a little gritty/ uneven, but it's definitely not.

And because the beautiful flaky effect didn't show up too well:

I love this flaky polish! It's so pretty :) If you're in the UK and looking for a flaky polish (without shipping them from America!) I really recommend this one- at £4.99 for 5.5ml it is on the pricey side, but it really is stunning- and it's the cheapest flaky I've seen :) (You can get it from Superdrug)

e.l.f. Red Velvet, Barry M Red Glitter, Andrea Fullerton Gemstone Overcoat

Are you a fan of red polish?


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Review: Rescue Oil.

This is yet another product that I've been meaning to review for a really long time (I bought it in July last year!) and I've finally gotten around to it! :)

I got my bottle of rescue oil for a whole £1 in a poundshop- they almost always have them in so I recommend looking in your local poundshop for them, they are sold in other shops and online, but it usualy costs around £3. The bottle contains 40ml of oil, and is full of great ingredients- comparable to much more expensive versions (like Bio Oil) - including peach kernal oil, sweet almond oil and evening primrose oil. It has no mineral oil and has been 'dermatologically approved' for sensitive skin, and it's not been tested on animals (yay!). You can read a full list of ingredients and instructions on their website if you wish.

I really really love this product, I use it for a lot of different things and it's brilliant! It is really moisturising, and sinks into my skin quite fast (although obviously it is an oil, so it generally wont sink in as fast as a cream) it smells pretty nice too, a sweet scent, but it is very subtle, and there are no artifical frangrances (the scent comes from the peach, almond and evening primrose oils) so I don't think that would bother anyone.

It works really well to moisturise extra-dry patches on my skin, and has helped to clear up eczema and chapped skin (oh how I hate winter!). On days where my whole face has been particularly dry I've actually used it in place of my regular moisturiser (at night)- it moisturises and relieves the irritation of dry patches, and has never clogged my pores (though I have only done this a few times, and never more than one night in a row) I also quite frequently use it as an eye moisturiser on days when the skin feels irritated, as I know my skin wont react badly to it :)

I also really like to use it as a nail and cuticle treatment, this is a little more messy than my e.l.f. cuticle pen, but I use it at night to coat my nails and rub it into my cuticles- and again it's really moisturising.

Considering it is an oil, there aren't too many ways to create practical packaging, - but I think this is pretty good. The small hole in the top allows only a small amount of oil to come out at a time, so it isn't too hard to only get the amount you need onto your fingers/cotton bud etc. without flooding everything with excess oil.

Overall, I really recommend gettting your hands on one of these little lovelies, for £1 it is an absolute bargain, and although I've had (and been using) mine for months I've only used up about 1/2 cm of oil from the bottle- a little goes a long way. This would be especially good for those with dry and sensitive skin- it's moisturising and not at all irritating, but it will also work really well for someone wanting a nice cuticle or nail oil.

Have you used Rescue Oil? Or anything similar? If so, what are your thoughts?


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Kitchen Essentials!

I'm sorry if you've been missing my baking posts recently; I'd love to say that I've stopped making delicious baked goods in an attempt to eat better this year, but in reality we've had so much Christmassy food leftover, and chocolate and yummy things as gifts to eat, that I've had no need to bake anything!

I realised that I've never really talked about the equipment I use when I share recipes, so instead of ignoring the kitchen for another week I thought I'd put together a list of equipment that I think is essential for any baker- whether you're new to baking or a seasoned expert :)

First of all; scales and a mixer. I really don't understand how American people make yummy cakes with their (bizarre) love of using inaccurate measuring cups for everything instead of weighing dry ingredients- I think there's only one recipe I use (which I must share with you soon, it's amazing) that only uses cups, any others I've tried have never turned out well! My scales were about £10 from IKEA :) You can always use a spoon and a lot of elbow-grease instead of a hand mixer, or a stand mixer if you are lucky enough to own one (I WILL get one someday) but hand mixers can be really cheap (I think this one was about £10) and much easier and faster than old school spoon mixing.

Next on my list is a selection of bowls, I really like having quite a few mixing bowls, that way I don't have to do washing up between steps. I have 2 sets of nesting bowls, both with lids (very handy in case you need to let dough or mixture rest/chill before use) and a collection of smaller bowls are less important, but very useful for things like melting butter, making up coffee or mixing coloured icing.

Another few must- haves for me are sieves- I have a larger one for flour/ cocoa powder etc, and a small one (which cost me 34p!) which is great for dusting cakes with icing sugar to decorate. I don't measuring lots of things in measuring spoons or cups, but I do like them for liquids and small amounts of dry goods- I have a couple of sets with different sized cups. A measuring jug is also very useful, I sometimes use this for pouring runny cake batter/pie filling into cases.

Utensils are definitely important- there are usually quite a few that I use on  a regular basis :) Wooden and plastic spoons are good for mixing things on the hob (like flapjack, melting chocolate etc.) (I prefer plastic because I hate the feel of wood...) and metal knives and spoons of various sizes are useful for all sorts- weighing out ingredients, spooning mixture into tins etc. A skewer is another essential for anyone who wants to make cakes- it's the easiest way to test if a cake is cooked through. A nice extra to have is a pastry brush, which is good to spread egg over pastry, or drizzle syrup onto cakes etc.

For cookie and biscuit enthusiasts I really recommend a nice selection of cookie cutters, I have a huge tine full of them in all kinds of shapes- seasonal/animals etc, you can get basic sets really cheaply, and it's fun to make nice shaped biscuits :)

An absolute essential is a set of baking trays- depending on what you like to bake you might want different types of trays or tins; I use big flat trays for flapjack, and smaller higher trays for brownies or fridge cake. I have quite a lot of different sized circular cake tins, and a mixture of high sided and low ones- the lower sides are better for layer cakes, and the high ones are good for cakes with no filling. I forgot (somehow!) to photograph any cupcake or muffin trays, but I use these a LOT too :)

To help your lovely backed goods come out of their tins easily, greaseproof or baking paper, and cupcakes cases (which also look cute) are very useful, as are cling film and tin foil :)

Last up are a couple of things that definitely aren't essentials, but I think they're really useful. I love Tupperware containers (I really am only 23... honest...) I always use them to store my goodies- storing them in an airtight container is the best way to keep them fresh for as long as possible, things like this celebrations tub are also great (don't throw them away after Christmas!) IKEA is the cheapest place to get them I think, I have several sets of nesting bowls with lids, and rectangular tubs etc.

Also very useful, but not wholly necessary- you can use a spoon or knife to spread frosting on cakes, but I really like to use my piping set, I have no idea where this one came from, or how much it cost because I'm fairly sure it's older than I am! But this a nice range of shapes so I can pipe different patterns :)

I hope you've found this useful, and I hope I haven't forgotten anything! If you have any questions let me know :)

What are your kitchen essentials?