Sunday, 24 August 2014

today i love… the best of beauty

I don't know about you, but I'm all about personal recommendations when it comes to beauty products. With clothes you can try them on and send them back if they don't look as you expected, but with beauty it's more of a gamble because you'll be stuck with the product even if it just doesn't do what it says on the tin. So I love to find out which products people really truly recommend. All the flashy adverts in the world can't compare to a trusted friend swearing that a certain product will change your life. So with that in mind I wanted to share with you my personal "best of" beauty selection. As always with my blog, you can be assured that these opinions are 100% my own and unbiased, unsponsored and with no agenda other than that I really hope they help you find a new miracle must-have you can't live without. A disclaimer though: obviously no matter how much I love a product, everyone's different so you may not feel the same, so please don't blame me if it turns out you don't share my love for any of the below…

1. The best moisturiser: Origins Make a Difference+ ultra rich cream / £34.50
Unfortunately my skin has expensive taste, because it is well and truly addicted to this moisturiser. I've got super dry skin and I've never before found a moisturiser which doesn't leave my skin parched by morning. It's thick and heavy and pretty strongly scented so not one for daytime use, but if, like I was, you're waiting for a product which really does work on ultra dry complexions, look no further.

2. The best eyeliner: Rimmel Exaggerate liquid eyeliner / £5.29
I've been lining my lids with this almost every day for getting on for eight or nine years now (gulp). It'll take you a bit of practice to get the kitten flick right, but once you've nailed it this liner is foolproof. It won't leave annoying crease marks like you'll get with a pencil but equally it's easy to remove at the end of the day. I've never strayed from it.

3. The best foundation: Barbara Daly for Tesco moisture foundation / £8
This is one of my best budget buys. I stock up on it whenever I'm in Tesco because I'm terrified it'll get discontinued. The best foundation I've found for dry skin and the palest shade (Porcelain) I've found for my skin tone. There's also an oil-free version if you've got an oilier skin type.

4. The best shower gel: & Other Stories Rose Revival body wash / £5
& Other Stories is hands down my favourite shop to visit and I frequently get lost for hours in their Regent Street store wondering how I can possibly manage to narrow down what I want to buy. Their beauty range is particularly brilliant: really very good and great value to boot. Some of the scents don't float my boat, but the rose and fig lines in particular are heavenly. At only £5 this shower gel smells and looks far more expensive. As an extra bonus, when you bring your empty packaging back into the store you get 10% off your next beauty purchase.

5. The best lipstick: NARS semi-matte lipstick / £19.50
Lipstick is one make-up item that it's really worth splurging on, in my opinion. Cheap lipsticks will flake and blur, plus the expensive brands come with beautiful packaging and will last way longer. NARS' velvety matte textured lipsticks come in a wide range of colours and won't break the bank (too much). The texture is the best I've found: it's smooth and non-shiny but won't dry out or slip. Just use this foolproof method to make it last the evening: use a nude lip liner to stop feathering at the edges, then apply the first layer with a fine lip brush. Blot, then apply a second layer straight from the bullet. Voilà. If you're after a classic pillar box colour, Jungle Red is my pick.

6. The best exfoliator: Soap & Glory Sugar Crush / £8
So many body scrubs promise so much but deliver so little. I've got a gorgeous Dermalogica one that smells divine, but it doesn't actually make my skin feel that smooth. Two key ingredients you need for an exfoliator to really slough off dead skin: sugar and salt. I've tried other more expensive brands but I always come back to Soap & Glory. I'm not super keen on the garish packaging, but this one smells fantastic (if very zingy) and delivers the goods. The brand's Flake Away scrub is also pretty much the same, just with a different scent.

7. The best eyeshadow primer: Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion / £16
Here's a make-up product that (admittedly pretty sadly) genuinely changed my life a little bit. Here's why: it works. Really and truly. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Eyeshadow creasing worries will become a thing of the past. Your shadow will stay absolutely firmly put for 24 hours. The only warning is if you have very dry eyelids/excema then you should steer clear. Otherwise: what are you waiting for? If you haven't discovered this yet, you'll be annoyed you haven't been using it your whole life (I was).

8. The best primer: Clarins Beauty Flash Balm / £29
I only use this on special occasions, but it's one of those that's a cult product for a reason. Smoothed over the face (not rubbed in) directly before foundation, it plumps skin, ensuring that your make-up generally looks better and lasts longer. My second favourite primer is one I use everyday: NARS pro-prime light optimising primer. It doesn't necessarily make your base stay put for longer, but it adds a fresh dewy glow that will liven up the dullest of complexions.

9. The best eyeshadow: Barry M Dazzle Dust / £4.59
Another budget favourite. I also love Urban Decay's Naked 2 palette, but Barry M's little pots of magic can't be beaten when it comes to price and consistency. You get a lot of pigment and a hell of a lot of powder for your dollar. Just one word of warning: you'll need to hold a tissue under your eye to catch the excess powder. But that's a small price to pay for such a great product. My favourite shade is Chocolate.

10. The best eyebrow pencil: Collection eyebrow definer / £2.79
One of my pet hates is eyebrows that are too "done": blonde girls drawing sharp angular lines above their eyes in pencils that are way too dark. This pencil is the antithesis of that. The Blonde shade is the perfect colour for me, and the soft texture means you can draw in little feathery strokes which keep your brows looking groomed, but natural. It's cheap as chips, too.

11. The best cleanser and face mask: Eve Lom Cleanser and Rescue Mask / £90
There's a reason Eve Lom's cleanser has gained a reputation as a cult classic. It really is the best. I've never before used a cleanser that really feels like it's cleaning off every last smudge of make-up and grime. I bought it in a gift set in the Space NK sale last Christmas (where I find all my best beauty bargains) along with the Rescue Mask, which has been another revelation. It is thick and sludgy and muddy and feels like it's been dredged up from the bottom of the sea. It smells like a spa and your face completely sets solid when using it to the point where you can't even talk (always amusing). And it is damn good. I've started using it once a week and I've seen so much improvement in my skin. Both of these seem expensive but I got six months of daily use out of my 100ml cleanser and I've barely made a dent in the mask, so really they're actually pretty damn good value for money. (If you just want the cleanser, it's on sale at Feel Unique right now here.)

12. The best haircare: Tresemmé Platinum Strength range / from £4.99
The horrific adverts always put me off Tresemmé products, but ever since I gave this range a try a year or so ago I've been hooked. If you have long hair like me you'll know the ends can get pretty dry and straw-like, especially if you dye it. It was looking particularly awful after I came back from three weeks of sun and sea in Australia, but one use of this range and suddenly it was silken smooth. I recommended the products to a friend of mine who was also amazed at the results, so I'm pretty confident you'd be equally impressed.

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