Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Favourite & Most Used Make Up Brushes

Today's post is all about my favourite and most used make-up brushes. Good quality brushes make a big difference to how make-up applies to and sits on the skin, and since buying a few better quality brushes I've seen a big difference in how my make-up looks on my skin. I still have a few unbranded cheaper ones as back-ups and for some things, cheaper brushes don't really matter too much, but here's a little peek at some of my favourites.

As you can probably see from the above photo, I really like the Real Techniques make-up brushes. They're not too expensive and last really well, they don't shed and keep their original shape after washing. From left to right, theres the Real Techniques contour brush, a Superdrug double-ended slanted and shadow brush, the RT expert face brush, the RT blush brush, i on Beauty powder brush, the MAC 217 eyeshadow brush, the RT buffing brush and an unbranded flat concealer brush.

First up, the Real Techniques expert face brush. This sat, lonely and unloved, in my make-up bag for a good few months until I found a way to make it work for me. I'd seen people raving about using it for foundation, but it seemed a bit too dense to work with my favourite liquid foundations. Then I used it to blend out a cream contour and it worked like a dream. Unlike liquid products, when used with creams it doesn't absorb all the product, just blends and buffs it out beautifully leaving no harsh lines. I usually pair it with Illamasqua's Hollow cream pigment, or a cream highlighter depending on what I'm using that day.

The i on Beauty powder brush is a fairly recent addition to my collection, and I will freely admit that I bought it for the sole reason that it would go with all my other RT brushes. It's a great brush, it picks up the perfect amount of powder every time and distributes it evenly, and it doesn't collect product in the bristles. Perfect. And it was a steal at £4.99 from TK Maxx. I can't find this specific brush online though.

The Real Techniques buffing brush comes as part of the Core Collection, and again, this was raved about as an amazing tool to apply foundation. I like it with thinner liquid foundations, but for me, using it with anything thicker is a no-go. It works amazingly well with my favourite L'Oreal True Match foundation though, leaving no streaks, just a beautiful, even finish. I wouldn't buy the Core Collection just for this brush, but the contour brush makes it a definite worthwhile buy.

The Real Techniques blush brush is without a doubt one of my ultimate favourites. It's so ridiculously soft, the tapered shape means it picks up the perfect amount of powder and it applies really well, the shape means that even if the blush is heavily pigmented, you won't end up looking like a clown. It doesn't work well at all with cream blushes, but that's where the stippling brush from the range excels. I haven't included it as I've been wearing powder blushes recently but for cream products, it's amazing.

I think that the Real Techniques contour brush is my most used brush out of all of them, but I only use it for blending out concealer as it fits into all the nooks around my nose and eyes and blends it out really well. Mine is quite old now, and it's starting to stay stained when I wash it so it might be time to invest in a new one. I haven't ever used this for contouring, but I imagine it would work pretty well given that that's what it is intended to be used for and the size and shape means it should help create some killer cheekbones. I use a cream contour product though, so I'm not sure it'd be that good for that. Feel free to correct me!

The unbranded concealer brush is just a thin, dense flat brush. I use it to apply concealer around my eyebrows if they need neatening up (read my brow post here) and if I have any pesky blemishes that need a bit more concentration. You can pick these up anywhere, but I wouldn't be without it.

I've had my MAC 217 for about 2 years now, it's the only brush I use for blending eyeshadow, nothing else compares to the finish this gives. It's not cheap, and I know there are a lot of dupes floating around, but for me I'd rather just stick to the original as it just works much better than any other blending brushes I've tried.

This Superdrug double-ended brush is so useful, I use the slanted side to fill in my brows with shadow and to line my eyes with shadow if I want a softer look than black liner, and the other side is great for blending out the shadow liner to smoke it up. I can't find this on the website either, but something similar should be pretty easy to find.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful, let me know your favourite brushes and if you have any recommendations!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Eyebrow Essentials

When I was little I had THE bushiest eyebrows ever. Fast forward many years over tweezing them into submission, they are much more manageable now but still have very little natural shape. Some people can really pull of the whole straight eyebrow thing, but I'm definitely not one of them. I used to be a huge advocate of the Soap & Glory Brow Archery (review here) but after getting a bit miffed that it was never in stock in any of the Boots near me and at how it didn't seem to last that long (the wax did, but the pen ran out much quicker!), I decided to try something new.

I now use a mid-brown brow pencil, I like the Rimmel brow pencil in dark brown  which isn't that dark and it's quite neutral toned, and it comes with a little brush to blend the pencil through your brows which is always handy if you forget to keep a spoolie on hand.

I use the pencil to outline my brows, starting with the underneath shape and defining the tail, then along the top to neaten them up and enhance the (non-existent) arch. Then I brush through them to soften any harsh lines and help blend the pencil in.

I then use MAC's Omega eyeshadow on an angled brush to fill in the middle of my brows, right between where the pencil was and has now been blended in to. It just makes them seem a bit denser and thicker and it so much easier and softer than drawing on lots of tiny little hair stroked.

I then use a clear brow gel or clear mascara depending on what I have with me to keep them in place. At the moment I'm using the Miss Sporty Clear Mascara, it does the trick without going crispy and holds them in place all day. And it's a steal too!

Final step for me is to take a tiny bit of concealer, usually my favourite Collection Lasting Perfection concealer in Fair, and with a small flat shadow brush just blend a little bit around my brows to make them look really clean and finished, and it makes them look a little bit more defined and perfected too.

Filling in your brows isn't for everyone, but my natural ones are so sparse and shapeless that I find filling them in helps to frame my face.

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Friday, 22 August 2014

The Best Vegan Cookies In The World... Possibly

I'm not vegan. However, the more I read about the meat industry and animal treatment makes me want to consider it more and more, so I've been experimenting with a few recipes over the past few weeks. Even if it's a gradual change, every little helps and I'd rather know what I'm eating is cruelty free. I don't tend to eat that much meat if I'm at home, but I'm hoping by phasing it out gradually and learning amazing new recipes that taste great will make it a lot easier.

Anyway, I've finished yammering on so I'll get on to the recipe. Unfortunately none of these are left, not so unfortunately because now I get to make more.

First up, here's a list of the ingredients you'll need. Some (most) of the ingredients can be substituted for another if you prefer, for example if you don't fancy wholewheat flour just use whichever you like best.

130g wholewheat flour (or whichever flour you prefer to use)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
65g natural granulated sugar (again, personal preference)
70g applesauce
1 teaspoon oil (any oil you like, the milder the better so no extra virgin olive oil! I used sunflower oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
90g vegan chocolate chips
70g chopped walnuts

(the last two ingredients can be substituted for whatever you fancy, I added the walnuts for a bit of extra crunch and they really added to the taste, but try not to go for something super sweet as the applesauce makes these fairly sweet to start off with!)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4), and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Sieve the flour, then mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.

Make a small well in the middle of the bowl, and add the applesauce, oil and vanilla extract into this well. Mix again until it forms a dough. If it's really refusing to stick together and you've still got dry mixed ingredients, add a tiny little bit of water at a time until it sticks. It should be fine, I didn't have any issues but just in case.

Next, throw in the chocolate chips and walnuts. stir like a banshee until they are all sitting happily in the dough.

Had to squeeze a close up of those choc chips and walnuts... Some may have 'tested' before they got the chance to be mixed in. You know, just to make sure they were safe.

Use a tablespoon to dollop out cookie sized lumps of dough onto the baking tray. Shape them so they vaguely resemble something cookie-like, and pop them in the oven. Leave for about 12 minutes if you want them soft, or for about 15 if you want them a bit firmer. They won't be crispy or crunchy unless you leave them for about 10 minutes!

Take out of the oven, let cool on a baking tray and then devour. And then let me know what you thought!!

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Summer Make-Up Haul

Yesterday was payday, and my make-up bag was looking incredibly sorry for itself. I had three mascaras that were pretty much empty but I was trying to eke the last little bit out, my concealer was completely empty and I was sick of having four Supercat eyeliners in my make-up bag without knowing which one was 'the good one' without testing them all, so it was time for a big clearout!!!

I decided to head out and restock on some of my favourite items, and pick up a few new bits I'd heard good things about and wanted to try when I got paid. So here is what I picked up!

Some of these are old faithfuls that I couldn't be without, but some of them are definitely new products that I've been lusting after! My boyfriend did treat me to some of these so I wouldn't complain about being bored whilst looking in men shops later..

First up is MAC Omega. Everyone and their granny has heard about this if not tried it, so I figured it was about time I gave it a whirl. I actually wanted this to use when filling in my eyebrows, so many bloggers have raved about it being the perfect eyebrow shade and I'm not feeling the love for eyebrow pencils at the moment, so I'll let you know how I get on with it.

My next purchase was entirely down to the L'Oreal salesgirl, I was already there to buy a foundation but I mentioned I wasn't loving the Smashbox PhotoFinish primer I'd been using so she recommended this. All L'Oreal products were on two for £15 so I didn't mind adding this on. It looks amazing, like strawberry ice cream, so obviously I'm optimistic for great performance!

This is what I actually went to the L'Oreal stand for, as it's had so many comparisons to the Giorgio Armani foundation that I just had to try it out for myself. The colour range is really impressive for a drugstore foundation, I was colour matched to Ivory, as the Rose Ivory was a little too pink-toned for my skin. This matched perfectly and blended like a dream, so I can't wait to try it out properly.

This will be my third tube of the Miss Sporty Clear Mascara, I use it as a brow gel to hold them in place and I adore it. It's such a steal for £2.99 and it doesn't leave my eyebrows feeling crispy or anything, it just smooths them, holds them in place and seals in the powder/pencil. I will keep repurchasing this for the foreseeable future as it does exactly what I want it do and it's so inexpensive. 

Another repurchase is the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair. Again, this will be repurchased for the foreseeable future as it's just SO DARN GOOD. I do kind of want to try the NARS Creamy Concealer but it's pretty steep for a concealer, and I'm too afraid to buy it in case I fall in love with it. 

I'd been wanting a matte top coat for a few weeks as I've become obsessed with matte white nails, I've found the perfect white nail polish (more on that soon!) and all I needed was a way to make it matte. I've never had an Orly polish before but I know they are supposed to be pretty good, as this was a bargain from TK MAXX at £2.99 so I snapped it up. I've just tried it on top of Essie's Tour De Finance which is what I had on my nails anyway and it works really well, I don't think I like the Essie polish in matte as the colour looks odd but come tomorrow, matte white nails will be mine!

Another angled brush because who doesn't need a new angled brush? This was just a cheap one from Superdrug as my beloved MAC one died a few weeks ago when I trapped it in the boot of my car, so for now, until I can be trusted with pretty brushes I'll just have to deal with this one! I hope it's not a shedder, I hate brushes that shed, especially when you are using them around your eyes. Not cool

Now this is what I've been super excited about. I didn't even know they were doing this pack until I was wandering around Boots and spotted it, so I had to have it! I've used the They're Real! Mascara before and liked it, it's so good at holding a curl but I hate trying to get it off my eyelashes, but this comes with a mini sample of the remover they brought out especially for the eyeliner and mascara and that works a treat! I was uhmming and ahhing over whether to test out the Push Up liner so I was pretty excited to try it out. I've actually had this for a day already and wore the liner today, I'm really impressed with the wear time and lasting power, but I think it is a bit gimmicky and it's definitely not something an eyeliner newbie would be able to pick up and use without a bit (lot) of practice. To be honest I think a normal gel liner and an angled brush would be much better and probably last a lot longer, but I'll give it a fair trial first!

Lucie x

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Favourite Fitness And Health Apps

I rely on my phone a lot to keep me up to date with what I'm doing, and recently I've found some really good health and fitness apps to keep me motivated and challenge me! If you have any recommendations please let me know, I love discovering new ones, and if you want to add me on MyFitnessPal my username is lucieplant872.

I've already talked about this first one so many times that you are bound to know what it is. MyFitnessPal. I use this every single day without fail. It took some time to get used to logging everything I ate every day, but I think I'd really struggle to keep track without it as it's so quick and easy, you can add friends and send little messages when they lose weight or hit a target, and you can log exercise too so you know what your rough net intake is. It also tracks your progress so you can see how far you've come, I've found it so helpful.

Get Running C25K is the running app I've been using to build up my fitness levels, we've got a treadmill at home and I've been following the app and found it so useful. It's hard enough to be challenging, but whenever you hit a new running time it's such a great feeling, and you can use the app to see how long it'll take until you'll be running 5K. I do tend to do more than it recommends as I only have one rest day between runs, but at the moment I've had a week off to rest my old lady knee and I'm really missing it! This is one of the few apps that lets you play your own music at the same time without interrupting you every ten seconds, although you can allow it to let you know how long you've got left in each section at different intervals.

30 Day Challenge apps are something that's quite new to me, I've downloaded the 30 Day Abs, Squat and Push Up challenge apps and am on day 8 with them. At first I wasn't overly convinced they were going to do anything but I'm persevering with it and I'm already noticing a difference, my stomach is getting flatter and stays flatter, I can actually feel my stomach muscles aching throughout the day as each day gets harder so it's always a challenge. The squat one is insane, but as I spend most of my day sitting down on the phone I thought I'd better do something to combat it! After a few days you'll do 50/75 squats without having to pause to console yourself halfway through, so I always like to think of that as an achievement. Push ups are not my friends, though. It starts of with 2-3 push ups, but they aren't the girly ones and I really cannot do push ups to save my life. It's ridiculous. Surely I should be able to do them? I've been doubling the amount it says to do and just doing girly ones instead, I'm hoping one day I'll be able to tackle proper ones!

Do you have any other health/fitness app recommendations?

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Disappointing Products That Don't Deserve The Hype

I hate it when I buy something that's been hyped up or recommended as a great product and it just doesn't work for me at all, sometimes some products work best for other people but I always feel so disheartened by it. I gathered up a few products from my dressing table that have been shoved to the back after failing to do anything at all worthwhile for me. Remember, just because they don't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for other people, these are just items I wouldn't recommend or repurchase!
I'll start with the Bioderma concentrated restructuring mask. I picked this up in France last year to try to salvage my hair from the chlorine and sea damage as it was really suffering. I used it and left in on for ten minutes, washed it off, and honestly my hair actually felt worse than before. It felt so heavy and lank, like it was still covered in product even after I shampooed it out again and it took ages to feel normal again. I've tried it again since then and it feels the same and leaves my hair even drier than before, so it's not even too moisturising, it's just not moisturising or hydrating enough and still managed to leave so much residue and build up that it's impossible to like this product.
The other day I was running a bit late, sleep obviously took precedent over beauty and I had to dash to the shop to grab a can of dry shampoo. I'd heard good things about the new Garnier Ultimate Blends range so sniffed the dry shampoos, picked the one with the least offensive scent and gave my hair a good spritz. After paying, obviously. Unfortunately this didn't do anything to my hair. It didn't turn it white like Batiste, but it didn't make it look or feel clean. The only thing it did do was make it smell funky for a few hours. Not cool, Garnier. The hunt for a good dry shampoo continues.
Philip Kingsley Elasticizer. Everyone and their dog raves about this, but I've just come to terms with the fact we don't have anything special together. It's nice, but nice doesn't justify the hefty price tag when my new favourite hair mask from Lidl does the job a hell of a lot better and leaves my hair smelling like Dolly Mix. I just don't feel like it does that much for my hair.
Korres Lip Butters smell amazing. They do. That's about all they have going for them, since they are about as hydrating as rubbing toast on your lips. I love this one as it smells like cookies, but when it runs out I won't be repurchasing it as it just doesn't do anything. I'm still a Blistex or Nuxe Reve De Miel girl.
Illamasqua Gel Liner. I'm actually pretty disappointed with this as it was so great at first, but after a few weeks it was just too dry and difficult to use. I made sure the lid was on tight but I couldn't keep the thing creamy no matter how hard I tried. I really want to love it though, so I'll probably pick up another one and see if the first one was just being awkward.
I feel like I'm committing a sin by admitting I don't like the Maybelline Color Tattoos as everyone seems to love them, but they just dry out so fast and always crease after 6/7 hours even when I use primer. If a product claims to last for 24 hours, I want at least 8 so I can leave the house without feeling like my eyelids are covered in something gluey! Love the bronze shade but it just doesn't do it for me.
Last one is the Rimmel Apocalips. These were supposed to be long lasting apparently, but I've never had anything smudge, smear and just end up all over like these do. Some of the colours are stunning but there's just no staying power at all, and I can't be checking my face every ten seconds to make sure I've not got red liquid lipstick running down my chin. Now the balm stains, I love, so Rimmel are still winning for me.
Did you feel let down by any of these products?

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Monday, 21 July 2014

Favourite Fragrances

I'm quite loyal to my perfumes, I tend to stick to my favourites rather than try new ones, I'm not that kind of girl who buys a lot of perfumes as I just don't see the point in keeping them if I'm not going to use them. At the moment I have four that I've had for quite a while and I've been using nearly every day (not all on the same day!) and although one of them had so much blogger hype around it when it first came out, I'm still loving it now and probably wear that one the most. I've actually just been given a back up of it as a gift so my family know how much I love it too!
My first favourite perfume has to be Marc Jacobs Honey. Just look at that bottle. This is the one that everyone was raving about last year when it first came out, and I resisted until November time when I tested it out in Boots. I got my first bottle for Christmas and then rationed myself with it so I would only use it a few times a week, but I just received another bottle as a gift last week so I'll be using this pretty much everyday throughout the rest of summer! It's not too sweet, it's like a fresh, airy take on a honey scent and it last for so long on me. I get so many compliments on it too so I do love it.
Ah, Ralph Lauren Cool. I got my first bottle of this about ten years ago, it was the first perfume I ever had and it's still one of my favourites even now. It's a very laid back, not ultra girly scent, it's refreshing and clean and to be honest, it reminds me a bit of a more unisex scent as it's got a rougher, dark edge to it. This is the one I wear if I'm just hanging out, it's chilled out and easy to wear and it's just so unusual. It's almost impossible to get hold of now as it's been out of production for quite a while, I have three bottles left but whenever I see another one for sale I always try to snap it up. If you do get the chance you have to smell this, it really is one of the most unique scents I've ever come across.
This is the Avril Lavigne Black Star fragrance, I'm not usually a fan of celebrity fragrances but this is one that I actually like and do wear. The bottle is beautiful and it's one I don't mind leaving out on my dressing table. It's sweet and floral but again it's got a deeper, slightly masculine edge to it that makes it not girly or sickly, it's actually quite a 'grown up' sweet style fragrance and although a lot of people would just dismiss it as another standard celebrity fragrance, this is actually the best one I've used and even for an EDT the lasting power is pretty impressive.
The last one is my ultimate evening fragrance. Miss Dior, formerly known as Miss Dior Cherie, is luxury in a bottle. Again, it's a floral, sweet fragrance but it's not sickly sweet, it's quite fresh too and the lasting power on this is unbeatable. The bottle is beautiful, this one is always out on display and it gets the most compliments out of any of my other perfumes. I do try to keep it for special occasions as it's pretty expensive but this is my second bottle, I keep going through phases of wearing it everyday because it's just divine.
I love the Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume but I just think so many people wear it that I'm not sure if I want to get it, or maybe I'm just trying to convince myself to save money for once...

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