Tuesday, 8 April 2014

No7 Cleansing Water

Sorry for the blogging silence over past few days, I was working all weekend and needed a bit of me-time come Monday..yet here I am today, struggling to put together the right words for a blog post! (Oops). Thought I'd give a quick review on the cleanser I swear by, day in, day out, to remove my makeup with ease and leaving my skin feeling refreshed.

Before I got my position as a No7 advisor, I was really bad with my skincare routine, considering how much trouble I've had with my skin in previous years; at best, I would remove makeup with makeup wipes, which would never leave my skin feeling clean or refreshed..at worst, I would sleep in my makeup. (I know, rookie error right there!) Yet, ever since my first use of No7's Cleansing Water, recommended for Normal/Oily skin, (I have Oily/Combination skin), I have been hooked.

This product promises "1 simple step to perfectly clean, refreshed, shine free skin..that leaves no residue, dissolves makeup and impurities whilst helping tighten pores." The ingredients that help to make this happen include: Zinc, which helps control oil production in the skin; Alcohol, which helps to tighten pores; Witch Hazel, which helps to treat blemishes; Glycerin, which helps to put some level of moisture back into the skin, as Alcohol can be quite drying; and "No7's unique multivitamin and mineral blend" to help energise the skin.

It does say on the bottle that you can use your fingers to apply this product to the skin..I must say, you'd be wasting it by the bucketload if you actually did this! However, it does say to use cotton wool pads, which is the ideal way of seeing how well it removes makeup and cleanses the skin. The pump is an ideal way of getting the product onto pads, and I find that three squirts per pad is an adequate amount, and I use two pads, both sides, to remove the majority of my makeup, and use a third pad with two squirts just to make sure my skin is completely clean. (I tend to do this more when wearing full coverage makeup). It can actually be quite scary how much makeup comes off on the pads, but it just goes to show that it lives up to its promise of dissolving makeup from the skin. Also, the cleansing water itself smells so refreshing and clean that I look forward to taking my makeup off at the end of the day, even though I love wearing my makeup. (I've even managed to sell this product based on its smell alone when using it on a customer! And my boyfriend loves the smell too, he says it reminds him of holidays.) Due to the high content of blemish/oil tackling ingredients, I would definitely recommend to use a separate eye makeup remover to do that job.

I've been using this cleanser for over a year, and with the combination of a better skincare routine as a whole, in addition to ongoing medication for my acne and an improved diet, I must say that my skin is in the best condition it has been in since before my teenage years, which is a huge achievement for me! I rarely get any spots these days, even when it is my time of the month, and that's when I used to get raging, sore pustules all over my face. At £9.50, it comes in a 200ml bottle, but I find it lasts me a good few months, at least! Therefore, I would recommend this product to anyone with Normal/Oily/Combination skin, especially if they suffer with excess oil production and/or blemishes, who wants a hassle-free makeup remover that only requires one step. In the coming days, I'm going to blog about my skincare in the past, and the products that now help me to keep a good control on my skin.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

No7 Pop & Glow Cream Blush

Blusher is one item in everyone's makeup bag that they struggle to get right in every aspect: colour, pigment and type. Especially coming into Spring, I find that not just myself, but my customers are looking for something to help brighten their overall look, not just with their base/foundation, but with blusher too, as it is a great way of adding colour and complementing the full face. (I know I can't go a day without wearing blusher, I think with my ghostly colouring, I look ill without it!)

No7 already have a full range of blushers, but with the launch of the new Pop & Glow Cream Blush sticks they are bringing something entirely new to the table: three shades that are bang on trend for Sping/Summer 2014, with a creamy texture..but wait, they dry to a powder-soft, matte finish?! I usually steer right clear of cream blushers due to my oily/combination skin, but I was intrigued with the cream-to-powder technology, that we've only seen before in some foundations, lipsticks and eyeshadows. It was such a hard decision, but I decided to go for the lighter cool pink shade from the range: Rose Blossom. It is also available in a peachy-coral tone, Mango Sorbet, and a deeper pink-red shade, Classic Rose, so there really is a colour for everyone.

On the packaging of the product, there is no explanation of what it is, just how it can be applied: "Sweep gently onto cheek bones and blend with your fingertips. To create a more intense look, build another layer of colour and blend." After trying this method of application, I must say that this a no-go! The good news is that this product is so highly pigmented that you don't need a lot of it, so the bad news is that you can't just draw it onto your face if you want a subtle hint of colour; if you want a really flushed effect, then go ahead and draw on! I apply the Pop & Glow once I have completed the rest of my makeup, as this gives me a good idea of how much blusher I need to apply to complement the look.

     (Pop & Glow Cream Blush drawn straight onto the hand)
    (Pop & Glow Cream Blush blended in with fingertips)

Instead of applying it straight from the stick, there are two other options for applying this blusher:
1. Using your fingertips
2. Blusher brush
I prefer using my fingertips, as I find the warmth of my fingers on the cheeks helps to apply this product smoothly and allows the highly pigmented formula to be blended in to the strength that is desired. (Saying that, when I first started wearing this product for work, I would go in thinking that I'd blended it in enough..then for one of my lovely colleagues to come over and blend it in a little bit more!)

     (One layer of Pop & Glow Cream Blush on each cheek)

     (Left side - using fingertips; Right side - using blusher brush)

As you can see from this image, even with just one layer of the product, it is that pigmented you do not need a lot of it! I find I get better control with using my fingertips and seem to be able to work it to more of an overall flushed look, whereas using the blusher brush gives more of a subtle flush. I would stop at just the one layer with this colour for an everyday look.

     (Two layers of Pop & Glow Cream Blush on each cheek)
     (Left side - using fingertips; Right side - using blusher brush)

I wouldn't usually go this strong, but it just shows you how a build-up of this product can change the entire look. (However, I have just dyed my hair back to its nice dark state, so I actually think it doesn't look too bad!) As you can see, it dries to a completely matte finish, and even with two layers, it feels so lightweight it isn't weighing me down. And even with my oily/combination skin, the brilliant news is that I get a full day's wear out of this blusher without the colour payoff fading, and even with the matte finish, yes it keeps my shine at bay, but neither does it cling to or highlight any dry patches. I've been using this product for just under two months now, yet you barely tell I've been using it for that long! (Saying that, the same can be said for the rest of my No7 blushers, some I've had for years..oops..). With a price of £9.95 each, the Pop & Glow Cream Blush Sticks are most definitely value for money, and I would recommend this product to anyone, literally anyone! With a choice of colours to suit anyone, an easy application and a long-wearing formula, this product ticks all the boxes when it comes to what to look for in a blusher.

No7 Dark Circle Corrector Review

No matter what the age of a customer, one of their main concerns has always been dark circles and puffiness underneath the eyes. Usually, I would refer them straight to our under-eye Instant Radiance concealer. But now with No7 we don't just have a concealer for the job, there's a treatment that goes hand-in-hand for dealing with the problem.

No7's Dark Circle Corrector "instantly de-puffs, revitalises and brightens. Visibly reduces dark circles in just 2 weeks." The formula itself is made up of a yellow colour pigment which instantly counteracts against any darkness underneath the eyes, whereas a Vitamin C and Caffeine blend helps to stimulate the under-eye area to reduce and prevent the appearance of dark shadows, and peptides are present to stimulate collagen production to help improve the firmness of the skin around the eyes.

The packaging of this product allows for simple application to the eye area: I find the tri-ball applicator much easier to massage the product into the skin, rather than just a single ball (or none at all in the case of similar products on the market..), and has a lovely cooling sensation, great for first thing in the morning to instantly reduce any signs of puffiness, and to make you feel more alive! However, you do have to be careful with how much product you actually squeeze from the tube; the yellow pigment doesn't have a thick consistency like a traditional eye cream, neither is it completely runny like water - a little certainly goes a long way, otherwise you'll end up with yellow rings around your eyes instead(!) Not a great look..

I apply this product after going through my morning routine: cleanse, eye cream, moisturise. This is because this treatment is not in replacement for an eye cream, as it has little moisturising properties to it, and is rather an add-on to what your eye cream can do. As mentioned previously, the tri-ball allows for a smooth application onto the eye area; however, it does not fully massage the product into the skin, so I do go in with my ring finger to finish the job. I think this is due to the consistency of the product, and I don't find it a hassle because it is now a ground-in part of my routine. 

   (My under-eye area, before any Dark Circle Corrector is applied)

      (My under-eye area, after Dark Circle Corrector is applied)

I must say before we go any further, although it doesn't seem like there's much difference between the before and after pictures: 
1. I don't think the pictures quite do the product justice, I can instantly see a difference once I've applied it; 
2. The product, I find, is more of a colour calming primer for the eye area, so you can build on top of it, just like in the next photos.. 
I used my No7 Beautiful Skin BB Cream for Normal/Oily skin in the shade Fair, then Collection's Lasting Perfection Concealer in the shade 1 - Fair, followed by Natural Collection's Pressed Powder in the shade Neutral, so you can see how minimal coverage has an effect on the finished look.

         (After Dark Circle Corrector plus BB Cream applied)

 (After Dark Circle Corrector plus BB Cream and concealer applied)

(After Dark Circle Corrector plus BB Cream, concealer and powder applied)

Overall, I am very happy with this product, both as an instant fix and a continuing treatment. Straight away, the Dark Circle Corrector neutralises any darkness around the eye area, reduces puffiness and creates a smooth, even base to build on top of. I must say, the results are even better when I use a heavier coverage foundation; the dark circles are barely visible, perfect for when I need to be most confident! I've been using this product now for just under two months and it took a while, but I have noticed a difference in the appearance of my darkness before anything is applied; because my skin is so fair, they really used to stand out with a harsh deep purple tinge, even when using a full coverage foundation. Whereas now, they are very well concealed once I've gone through my routine. With a price of £13.50, I would recommend this product to anyone who suffers with darkness and puffiness around the eye area, and wants not just a concealer to hide the problem, but an ongoing treatment to help ease the problem, especially as it is considerably cheaper than the next-best alternative on the market: Clinique's Even Better Eyes Dark Circle Corrector at the astonishing price of £29.00!

**Tomorrow, I'll be rounding off my mid-week No7 reviews with the new Pop & Glow Blush..I'm so excited, as the quality of No7 products just seems to be getting better and better!**

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

No7 Lovely Lashes Mascara Review..and another new mascara launch!

If you're a big No7 fan, a frequent Boots shopper, or work/know people within the company, you're most likely aware of how renowned No7 are for frequently having new mascara launches..and February provided the first mascara launch of 2014 for the brand, becoming the tenth addition to the current range! 

No7's Lovely Lashes Mascara is "for glossy, natural volume", and the formula itself is enriched with nourishing Argan Oil; used in this instance to help condition lashes, in comparison to other mascaras without conditioning ingredients, which can leave your lashes feeling quite brittle, both during and after use. As with all the other mascaras from the No7 range, this mascara is available to buy in the shades Black and Brown/Black.

The wand for this particular mascara is a traditional bristle-style, soft bristled brush; however, unlike most other mascaras with this type of brush, the Lovely Lashes mascara does not taper off at the end, meaning it is the same width across the length of the brush. Personally, I like this, as I can struggle with those that taper at the end as they never seem to give a good coverage to the lashes. Also, this style of brush is brilliant if you want to build good volume to your lashes..so far so good!

When it comes to actually applying this mascara to the lashes, like a lot of brand new mascaras, when you first open Lovely Lashes, it is a very wet consistency, so I tend to leave the wand to dry for a couple of minutes so it doesn't apply too thick and clumpy. Saying that, after a week's use, I found I could use it straight from the tube. As mentioned previously, with the wand being the same width across the length of the brush, I find this very easy to apply to all of my lashes. I find the formula itself not too heavy; I think this could be due to the addition of the Argan Oil, it glides very easily onto the lashes, without being too thick or clumpy. And, as with all other No7 mascaras, the colour itself is highly pigmented, so you don't need to worry about having to apply lots of the mascara to build up the colour. Saying that, after one coat of this mascara, I found it didn't make much of a difference - yes, my lashes were darker - but nothing that amazed me.

                    (My lashes, curled, with no mascara)

               (My lashes, with one coat of Lovely Lashes mascara)

However, this allowed me to explore with how well the mascara would cope with layering. You don't have to wait long for it to dry, which is great if you want something quick and easy to apply. Moving onto a second layer was effortless, yet again gliding on with ease and without clumping, yay! Also, I found adding a second layer gave me the desired look: for the daytime, I don't like anything too over-the-top, I just like to enhance my natural lashes, which is exactly what this mascara provides. In addition to this, I find both the wand and the formula perfect for using on the bottom lashes too, as it coats them with just enough mascara, helping to add definition to them.

(My lashes, with two coats of Lovely Lashes mascara, plus one coat on bottom lashes)

Overall, I would recommend Lovely Lashes to anyone who prefers a more natural-looking, effortless mascara, that isn't anything too fancy. I would also say that although this mascara promises to give "glossy natural volume, all day", I find it more of a defining mascara, not providing too much volume but adding to the length too. Saying that, having the Argan Oil is a nice touch, as whilst wearing the mascara, it doesn't weigh down your lashes, and is very soft to the touch. After wearing this mascara everyday since it's launch, I can say I have noticed the difference in my lashes when I'm not wearing mascara: they feel softer, and stronger too, which is important with how much torture I put them through! It is not waterproof, so it is easily removed at the end of the day, but I do get a good day's wear out of the mascara without it falling underneath my eyes..with this, it holds my curl fairly well, not the best, but not the worst either! With a price of £12.95, I wouldn't pay full price for this as it doesn't do exactly what it says on the tin, or rather tube, so I would wait until the £3 No7 makeup vouchers come around and pay a price that's closer to that of the basic Intense Volume from the No7 range.

**some exciting news!** If Lovely Lashes doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you don't have long to wait until the next new mascara launch from No7! Called Lash Impact, this mascara promises to be a mascara for everyone! I can't say too much more about this until it launches in a few weeks time. In the meantime, you can click here to sign up to the waiting list, and hopefully I will have a review ready for its launch!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

March Favourites!

Considering March has 31 days, this past month has flown by! With that, there were many tempting offers on in Boots with products which caught my eye..

After using up the last of my shampoo and conditioner, I was on the look-out for something a little bit different to try. I have thick, medium-long hair that won't grow past my boobs(!) even though I've been growing it for the past few years, with regular trims, so the Lee Stafford Hair Growth range caught my eye, especially as haircare was on 3 for 2! I plumped for the shampoo and conditioner, but I'm going to reserve my full judgement until I finish them off, as I'm only halfway through the bottles, so I'll make sure to keep you updated!

What I forgot to mention was the third item I picked up on my haircare 3 for 2: the new Aussie Miracle Recharge Lightweight Conditioning Spray. I absolutely love the scents of all the Aussie shampoos, conditioners and leave-in treatments, but especially the Miracle Moist range after buying miniatures to take on a trip with me..and I wasn't disappointed with the smell of this leave-in spray, it smells exactly of bubblegum, candy floss, and all things sweet and wonderful! (without being too sickly). The good news is that this product actually works! Even though my hair tends to be in fairly good condition, it does need a refreshing pick-me-up every now and then, and this is exactly what a few spritzes of this weightless formula provides! 

In the directions, it does say it can be used on both wet and dry hair, but I've only tried it on wet hair, as I don't tend to use many products on my hair once it's dry (apart from the usual hairspray). I generously apply this once my hair has been towel dried, comb through, then I leave it to towel dry a little bit more in the towel-turban thing us girls tend to do! (otherwise my hair takes a lot longer to blow dry, even longer to naturally dry). I then follow with my usual routine, and once styled my hair feels just that bit more silky smooth, and looks that bit more healthy with a natural shine, without feeling sticky or affecting the finished look. As with the other products available from the Miracle Moist range, the Australian Macadamia Nut Oil is the active moisturising ingredient in this product, and definitely leaves hair feeling nourished.
Therefore, I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who needs a little something that your hair might be lacking every now and then.

If you're a big Boots shopper, you've probably had No7 vouchers coming out of your ears, and just as well as there were so many new cosmetic launches, as well as a new skincare product, and they've proven to be popular with a money-off incentive! I will do in-depth reviews of individual products in the coming days, but my particular favourites have been the new Lovely Lashes mascara, the new Pop & Glow cream blush and the new Dark Circle Corrector. (Sadly, the vouchers did run out on Sunday 30th March..then again they've been out for well over a month, so more the fool you if you missed out!)

Finally, as a 3 for 2 offer was also on across makeup and beauty accessories, I just had to try and get my hands on the Real Techniques Silicone Liner Brush. I'm a huge fan of their brushes, and cannot recommend them enough to customers and friends alike who want good quality brushes that perform well. Also, I still struggle to apply liquid liner at the best of times so I thought this would be the perfect brush to help me on my way. 

This brush is nothing like your traditional haired brush, (that sounds weird!), as it is just a silicone tip, therefore it is a lot sturdier when in use and won't fray, giving you easier control as you apply your eyeliner. Because of this, it is super easy to clean: takes just seconds and is dry in no time too! I've used the brush with both MAC's Fluidline Eyeliner Gel and No7's Stay Precise Liquid Liner and it really does apply any product smoothly and with stability, regardless of whether you're rock steady or are prone to the shakes (like me!). Also, the brush tapers to a point so you can use it just to add definition to the roots of the lashes for a more natural look, or go all-out with a thicker line and a winged-out finish. It is also great for tightlining the waterline, as the brush doesn't cling onto too much product and is flexible.
Hence, I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who wants the perfect eyeliner brush, especially if you struggle to apply liquid/gel eyeliner.

What have been your beauty favourites this month? Any new products which caught your eye and have lived up to their expectations? Leave your thoughts in the comments, I'm always on the lookout for new, affordable items to add to my collection :)