My Current Favourites

bargain, beauty, celebrity, essentials, life, lifestyle, makeup, review, skin, skincare, trend

Everything is my favourite at the moment, even the word itself. So I thought I’d share some of my current loves with you all. From television to skincare here are just a few for you…

faves-SQScream Queens – I absolutely love this TV show! I’m watching along weekly in the UK so no spoilers please!! From the cast to the scripting this show is everything I love, but what else would you expect given that it was created by American Horror Story genius Ryan Murphy?! Despite the name it really isn’t particularly scary but it can venture into the gory zone on occasion. The show is set in a sorority house controlled by Queen bitch Chanel (Emma Roberts) and sees the cast being slowly picked off by the ‘Red Devil’. Jamie Lee Curtis is amazing as the slightly crazy, hard-faced Dean Cathy Munsch. Basically if you like pretty clothes, dark comedy and plenty of cliché rich white girl jokes then you need Scream Queens in your life!

faves-cliniqueClinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil – This stuff takes my makeup off in seconds. It’s amazing. I was using the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm but found that it often irritated my eyes, not enough to put me off using it but enough to make me want to explore other options. So I did my research and found the Clinique one to be a suitable alternative. I have found that whilst this is a great first cleanse you really do need to go in with a second one to get that fresh, clean skin feeling. For this I have been using an Elemis one (review coming soon). The Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil is perfect if you’re in a rush but want to avoid face wipes. 3 pumps for a full face of makeup, a warm flannel to remove and you’re done in seconds. Love. It.

faves-coatMissGuided Padded Faux Fur Hood Jacket– When it comes to jackets, I think I have a serious issue. I just cannot get enough! I feel like I need to have a different style for every occasion (funnily enough my mum disagrees). My justification for this most recent purchase however is that I was seriously lacking in the hood department. This jacket is sooo warm and the giant hood makes it perfect for walks in the rain (a must when you have two dogs). So that’s my reasoning, and I have donated an old one to charity in exchange which is a great idea if you want to rid yourself of a little shoppers guilt. On a side note I just have to say how impressive the MissGuided delivery service is, this arrived next day despite the fact I ordered after 8pm. They also have a great returns policy and bonus points for the 20% discount!!

Adele 25 – Despite spending hours and I mean serious hours attempting to buy tickets to her tour *to no avail* I have made the mature decision to forgive Adele. This new album might actually be my favourite of all her work. Hello is of course the ballad of the year but for me the number one song on 25 is When We Were Young (the video above), I bloody love it! I like the mix of uptempo and slow songs and basically I am just one of millions of passengers riding the Adele train right now.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge – I wrote about this in a blog post which you can read here. I won’t bang on about it, but I have just been loving using this to apply my concealer recently. I cover the sponge in setting spray, wait a couple of seconds and then lightly bounce it over the concealer until it has fully blended. This is particularly great for the under eye area and once set with powder there is definitely less creasing than when using a brush. Brilliant and affordable at just £5.99, what more do you want?!

What are your current favourites? Beauty or random I would love to know so please do share them in the comments. Or you can tweet me @sophieaiken.

Sophie xoxo

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An American Request

beauty, haul, makeup, question

I’m going to New York in a couple of weeks and am making a list of all the makeup I need/want to get my hands on. I’m looking for both drugstore and high end products that are either cheaper out there or hard to find in the UK.

I’ve already got my eye on the Anastasia Beverley Hills liquid lipsticks as well as a number of items from the Kat Von Dee range but what else can you guys suggest?! I’d love to hear from you, what are your favourites from the drugstore? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @sophieaiken

Sophie xoxo

Clinique Facial Soap

face, highend, review, skincare

This was a bit of a random purchase a couple of weeks ago, I was running low on my Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm and thought I’d try something different. I’m by no means a skincare expert, in fact I have to admit for the last few weeks I’ve been reaching for the devil themselves *facewipes* and I am ashamed!!

What is it?

I bought the Clinique Facial Soap for ‘dry combination skin’ but there are two other soaps available for ‘combination oily to oily skin’ and ‘very dry to dry skin’ . Clinique say ‘our hand-milled non-drying bar soap maintains protective lipids while loosening surface flakes. Leaves skin clean, comfortable, refreshed-never taut or dry.’

Thoughts?

The first time I used this facial soap I wanted to test how well it removed makeup so used it in the way I would use the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. It worked well, my makeup was completely removed but my eyes were on fire! I have very sensitive eyes so to be fair this was a likely side effect for me but they really were quite sore.

I wasn’t blown away by the results this had on my face, it didn’t feel dry but it didn’t feel particularly fresh and clean in the way that it can with other products. At £15 I’m not prepared to let this go to waste. I ended up using it to clean my makeup brushes and it works an absolute dream! I mainly use Real Techniques brushes which have white tipped bristles and this soap was able to get my most used brush *the buffing brush* back to new. So whilst I’m not against using the Clinique Facial Soap on my face I will definitely be avoiding the eye area in future. But mostly I’m just looking forward to washing my brushes again!

Sophie xoxo

Maybelline Master Sculpt

beauty, contour, makeup

You know how it goes…saw the advert, had to buy it! I didn’t need another contour product at all but curiosity won out!

Straight away I can tell you that this is by no means my favourite drugstore contour set, I’d reach for the Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit over this first. The fallout is pretty bad, one stroke of the brush and there’s powder everywhere! Also I think the highlight shade is more suited to a lighter skin tone but does work if applied with a very light hand on tanned skin.

I do however like the convenience of the Maybelline Master Sculpt, you get your contour and highlight together and when you open it up there is a half decent brush and good quality mirror. So if I needed to pack light I would reach for this. Also the colour pay off of the contour shade is lovely, not too orange but not too ashy either. At £6.99 I think it is fair to say that you’re paying for packaging with the Master Sculpt but then it does do what it says on the tin. With singer Mollie King as the face of this product it’s bound to attract a bit of a following and it’s definitely worth a look if you’re a contouring novice. My advice, swatch in store and see if the fallout is something you can look past.

Sophie xoxo

All Aboard the He-Shi Express

beauty, skincare, tan

Fake tan, do you love it or hate it? I’m a big fan, proven by years of disastrous orange patchy skin. Honestly, there were times when I physically couldn’t get any more orange, I swear my skin must have been saturated and yet I still slathered another coat on top!!

These days I like to think it’s somewhat improved, I make the effort to exfoliate and moisturise and apply my tan with a little bit more care. I was a big fan of St Moritz medium mousse for a long time but I found it to be very drying and the colour tends to fade rather unevenly. I discovered He-Shi  Express Liquid Tan in Boots and I really can’t see myself looking back. Believe me when I say I’ve tried them all from the likes of Rimmel to the more costly tans such as Fake Bake and Laurens Way, they’ve all found a place on my shelf at one time or another. My Top 3 are definitely He-Shi, Xen Tan and St Moritz (which is identical to St Tropez and a quarter of the price!).

What I love most about this product is the liquid formulation, it is thin and watery but applies so easily and dries into the skin pretty quickly too. One coat is plenty with this as unlike some tans the guide colour actually develops into a darker colour. Personally I have always preferred to put fresh tan on before bed and then shower it off in the morning so that I know what I’m dealing with when applying makeup. He-Shi  Express Liquid Tan isn’t the cheapest option with a 150ml bottle setting you back £20 but it does last. One application will easily cover you for a week, it fades evenly and you don’t need very much product at all to achieve this. Overall, I’m obsessed!

Sophie xoxo

Neal’s Yard Hand Cream

beauty, handcream, organic, skincare

Am I alone in buying magazines based on the freebies they’re offering? I really hope not. With some time to kill before my train arrived at Waterloo the other day I headed to WHSmith, where I found Marie Claire offering a free 50ml tube of Neal’s Yard Remedies hand cream. There are three scents to choose from including Geranium & Orange and Wild Rose, I went with Garden Mint & Bergamot as it was the most appealing to me.

I don’t suffer with terribly dry hands but I always reach for hand cream when I’m wearing fake tan as it has a tendency to crack around my knuckles if I don’t. This one from Neal’s Yard is excellent, with a retail value of £10 if you can get your hands on a copy of Marie Claire it is well worth doing so.

I particularly love this product as it dries into the skin quickly, without leaving any sticky residue. The smell is citrusy and fresh, not synthetic and reminds me of standing in a pretty field on a warm summers day. This hand cream definitely delivers on its promises to deeply nourish, moisturise and soften.

Sophie xoxo

Face Mask Friday 2

beauty, skincare

I recently did a first impressions style post on the Glamour Spring Edit Beauty Box which you can read here. One of the products I received in this was the Nuxe Paris Masque Crème Fraîche, a 24hr soothing and rehydrating fresh mask. At £18.50 for a 50ml tube, this product falls into the middle-ground in terms of pricing but is a great option for those looking for something to calm their skin.

What it does -Masque Crème Fraîche is for the face and eye contour areas and  according to Nuxe ‘this mask quenches the thirst of the driest skin types, it intensely soothes the skin for an immediate “SOS rescue” effect on skin discomfort.’ Essentially, this mask is there to nourish and moisturise the skin as oppose to the traditional deep cleanse you might expect from a generic face mask. If you are someone who worries about certain ingredients this product is free from mineral oils, although personally I have never been overly concerned by this.

How to use it – I apply this all over a clean, dry face and leave on for the recommended 10 minutes, although you can definitely leave it on longer with no nasty side effects. The thing I love the most about this face mask is that it doesn’t dry onto your skin like others do. It’s formulation feels like you are applying a light moisturiser so you don’t need very much at all as it spreads so easily. After the time is up I use a warm flannel to gently remove the product.

The results – Nothing dramatic, just an overall clean feeling without the dryness of other face masks. My skin definitely looks and feels softer immediately after using this. I think it will be an excellent addition to my skincare collection when my face inevitably falls victim to the British Summer. Hopefully it can live up to its promise to calm redness, I’ll keep you posted.                           Sophie xoxo

Face Mask Friday

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I’ll be handing in my dissertation very soon and it got me thinking about stress relieving products. I don’t tend to get stressed in the typical ways that others do, normally I’m not even aware of it until afterwards. But one thing I do see a noticeable difference in is my skin. It can look very dull and in need of something more than the usual routine provides. So, when that happens I reach for Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask. This is by far the best face mask I have ever used! It’s formulation is smooth and easy to both apply and remove meaning it isn’t totally time consuming. As someone who has very sensitive skin, (my cheeks have been known to burn under the pressure of some products) I have had no problems with this mask. Here’s how I like to apply it…

1. Put a warm flannel over my face for about 30 seconds to open up the pores

2. Spread the product across the face (avoiding the eye area)

3. Set a timer for 15 minutes (although I often remove it before this depending on how quickly it dries

4. Run a flannel under warm water once again and use to wipe away the mask in a circular motion

5. Once the mask has all been removed, I like to splash my face with cold water just to make sure everything has gone

I’m really interest to try more from the Origins range of face masks so let me know if you have any recommendations of these or other brands.

Origins face mask pictured alongside: La Roche Posay thermal spring water, No7 cleanser, hydraluron moisture jelly

Sophie xoxo

The Best Boring Beauty Buys

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We all have our favourites, the daily essentials we simply cannot live without, but never really get enough credit. So I thought I’d share my Top 5 with you…

1. E45 moisturising lotion

This is a fairly new discovery. Recently my arms have been unbearably dry and nothing was working. Exfoliating only made them painful and red, and as a fake tan addict, the patches were getting out of control! It’s not exactly the most attractive packaging on offer, but I needed something industrial and E45 has not disappointed! After a couple of days of use, my skin felt ten times softer and the pain was gone. The surprisingly light formulation insures there’s no greasy residue that a lot of other brands have and it’s perfume free which personally I prefer. Despite only having it a couple of weeks, I’m already about half way through this bottle but an inexpensive price tag of £4.70 means I’ll never be without it again!!

2. The Wet Brush

I thought I had found detangling heaven in the Tangle Teezer until I found this!  Years of having to battle through unbreakable knots, ripping out clumps with a comb made hair washing a rather unpleasant experience, so finding the Tangle Teezer was a real breakthrough moment. I was utterly content with it when I discovered the Wet Brush which had the one thing that the TT was missing…A HANDLE!  I know this doesn’t sound like much, but trust me it just makes everything that little bit easier. So if you hadn’t thought to try it, take my advice and I’m pretty sure you’ll find your Tangle Teezer is thrown to the back of the cupboard, just like mine 🙂

3. Lip Balm

I have way more than I’d care to share, but my holy grail will forever be Burts Bees lip balm. It’s the perfect all rounder, used before makeup or throughout the day and best of all it lasts so you don’t feel the need to constantly reapply. There’s nothing I hate more than those little tins of Vaseline that people slather all over their lips in the hopes of achieving the perfect pout. Their sole purpose is to make you buy more, essentially they are the cause and effect of your dry lips, AVOID THEM! If your lips are seriously cracked and painful, you might want to investigate something a bit more heavy duty like Blistex, but for regular lip balm users, I’d always recommend a softer product. Carmex is great, I’m just not a fan of the tubes (formulation) or pots (hygiene issues).

4. Flannels

As a fan of skincare Queen Caroline Hirons, I try to cleanse my face morning and night, the days of falling asleep in makeup are long gone and I now rely on Emma Hardie cleansing balm to remove the sins of the day. With this came a flannel come muslin cloth that has become a firm favourite. Previously, I was using a bog standard muslin cloth but found it could be quite harsh on my skin, this alternative allows for the choice to use each side based on the sensitivity of different areas of the face. Though, an ordinary, run of the mill flannel is just as good!

5. Cotton buds/pads

Beyond boring, but totally essential. Cotton buds can be the best friend to a girl who hasn’t quite perfected the art of winged liner, as well as cleaning her ears. Personally, I use cotton pads for a range of things, mainly for taking off makeup, a couple of pads covered in Bioderma can remove a full coverage face in seconds. I use another pad to wipe my toner (the infamous Pixi Glow tonic), all over my face after cleansing. Any cotton pads from drugstores or supermarkets tend to do the job although occasionally I’ve found that very cheap ones can break apart. (They’re also handy for cleaning dogs eyes)

Sophie xoxo