Saturday, 22 February 2014

Boots Haul!

A couple of weeks ago I went to my local Boots store on a mission to pick up a few items I'd read a lot of good things about and wanted to try out. I came out with a mixture of things I needed, things I'd wanted to try, and things I decided to purchase kinda spur-of-the-moment - so here's what I got!

Firstly I went to find Una Brennan's Super Facialist Rose Hydrate Intense Moisture Mask. I get pretty dry skin and sometimes feel like I need an extra hydrating boost in addition to my serum and moisturiser, so wanted to give a moisture mask a go but also didn't want to spend a crazy amount of money on one. I already use the Tea Flower Clay Mask and have been really impressed with it, so wanted to stick with the Una Brennan range as it seems to be great quality and super affordable. After a reading a few good reviews of the Rose Hydrate mask, I decided to go for it and so far so good - I have only used it a couple of times though but after continued use I'll do a full review, along with the Tea Flower mask. I also picked up the Garnier Skin Naturals Pure Active Intense Spot Roll-On as I've had a few painful, under-the-skin blemishes recently. This is a product I've used before and I really like it, it has a nice cooling sensation when applied to the skin - great for when your blemishes are angry and irritated. I find it also helps to fade existing blemish scarring and prevent it from occurring. It's a product that gets some mixed reviews, but I find it works for me. 

Next I picked up a few makeup items - something I find hard not to do whenever I'm in Boots! I got a couple of Rimmel products, the first being one of their much raved about Apocalips Lip Lacquers, in the shade 'Celestial'. It's a kind of muted mauve-pink shade that leans slightly nude/natural toned - a pretty standard shade for me to go for, and as I hadn't used a formula like this before I thought it would be best to stick to what I know! Having used this a few times now I can say that I'm seriously impressed - it's a gloss that you apply with a usual wand applicator but it sets into a lipstick-like formulation. It is also super pigmented but can be dabbed onto the lips for a less intense look, and I found that it lasts a pretty long time on my lips too! I've already gone and purchased another couple of shades so a full review of all three can be expected on here soon. The second Rimmel product I got was their Glam Eyes Liquid Eye Liner, as my usual Barry M one is becoming hard to find in stores and was not available in my local Boots or Superdrug - they only seem to have the metallic black one for some reason. I've used this quite a lot and I have to say that I don't love it as much as the Barry M one, but it's still a good liner. It's super black (no 'actually a really dark grey' disappointment here!) and has a really fine brush so is great for being very precise and getting in close to the lash line. Again, full review in due course. 

I also wanted to get the Seventeen Pwhoarr Paint Heavy Duty Under Eye Concealer, as I'd read that it was a good dupe for Benefit's Boi-ing. Although meant for under the eyes, I wanted to use this concealer on my face to mask blemishes so I got the shade 'Medium' instead of 'Fair', as the lighter shade would have just highlighted blemishes instead - not what I'm looking for! Used this a fair few times now and I'm pretty impressed, it looks completely the wrong colour for my skin when swatched on my arm (super orange!) but is somehow a really great shade for my face, and a full review will be appearing soon.

Lastly, I purchased the EcoTools Bamboo Airbursh Concealer Brush (couldn't find on the Boots website, but is on Feel Unique here). I was just browsing the beauty accessories section as I usually do, and I don't normally pick up anything from that aisle unless I'm specifically looking for something, but ended up looking at this as I don't particularly like patting in under-eye concealer with my fingers and it looked like it could be gentle enough to use in that area. It's a small, rounded brush and not flat like a typical concealer blush - more like mini round-topped buffer. The bristles are really soft and it's perfect for using under the eyes, much better than fingers in my opinion! It makes it really easy to blend concealer and achieve perfect coverage, as you can get such a small amount of product onto the bristles and then gradually build until you're happy with the finish.

Have you tried any of these? What drugstore/hightreet  beauty products have you bought recently? 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Soap & Glory 'One Heck of a Blot' Review!

I've been needing a new pressed powder for a little while now, as the one I was using (Rimmel's Stay Matte) wasn't meeting my needs - it didn't actually keep shine away from my skin for more than a couple of hours, was the wrong shade as I bought it in the summer when I had a bit of a tan, and the lid had smashed in my bag at some point. When browsing the aisles in Boots, I remembered a friend had said a couple of months a go that she really rated Soap & Glory's One Heck of a Blot powder, and as I'm already a fan of their bath and body products, I decided  to give it a whirl. 

One Heck of a Blot is a translucent pressed powder, so there's no need to worry about it not matching your skintone - you can see from the above photo that the swatch is barely visible against my skin, and that's with 3 or 4 layers, so it should match pretty much everyone. It comes in Soap & Glory's usual fun and girly, vintage inspired packaging - something I particularly love about the brand. I know the quality and performance of the product is what's important, but it doesn't hurt for it to come in a pretty case, does it? Haha. 

I've had this powder for 3 or 4 weeks now and so have used it a fair few times, and I am very impressed. I don't have super oily skin, my skin is generally dry/very dry all over but a shiny t-zone does gradually develop throughout the day. I also like a good powder to set my foundation as I use moisturising bases that tend to not last as long on the skin in comparison to oil-free/mattifying ones. My Rimmel Stay Matte Powder would only keep the shine away for 2 hours at best, One Heck of a Blot keeps me shine-free for at least 5 hours, often longer. I wore this the other night to set my foundation before a gig - finished doing my makeup at 6pm, got home just before 2am and only had the slightest beginnings of shine on my nose and forehead. For 8 hours that included being outdoors, being inside a hot gig, and a trip to the pub, I think this powder seriously good!

The powder compact comes with a little powder puff which, although I don't like to use for initial application, is handy to have with you for touch-ups throughout the day if you need to - much more convenient than carrying makeup brushes around! Just press on to the skin to be shine-free once more (: 

Although One Heck of a Blot is quite a bit more expensive than the Rimmel offering I was previously purchasing, it is 100% worth it! It just simply works, and is a heck of a lot (see what I did there?) cheaper than high-end brands whose powders claim to do the same thing - I'll definitely be repurchasing this product (:

Have you tried One Heck of a Blot, or any of Soap & Glory's other pressed powders? What did you think of them?

Friday, 14 February 2014

Delicious Chocolate Cake - with NO EGGS!

I thought I'd share with you all one of my favourite cake recipes - it is, of course, a Chocolate cake, and is from Alice Sherwood's Allergy-Free Cookbook. I couldn't find it on Waterstones' website, but it is available from various sellers on Amazon and Ebay. 

I have a few food allergies, namely egg, all tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, and something in mustard although I'm not sure exactly what - perhaps mustard seeds themselves, although this particular allergy is a relatively new discovery for me so I know little about it. All my other allergies I have had since childhood, and therefore I'm used to having them and living with them, I hardly think about them and checking food labels when I'm out shopping is just something I do automatically. I've never really felt like I've been missing out on any food, and me not being able to have dessert in restaurants for example seems to bother other people I'm dining with more than it does myself. 

However, every now and again I'll see a particularly lovely looking cake in a cafe or smell some yummy pancakes, and I'll wish I could just go and buy some! That's where Alice Sherwood's Allergy-Free Cookbook comes in - it's a fab little cookbook with a great range of allergy-friendly recipes (she caters for egg, nut, gluten and dairy-free diets, each recipe adaptable to suit your requirements) including the desserts I sometimes find myself craving. Even though this is an allergy cookbook, I think it's the perfect starter cookbook for anyone, as the range of recipes it contains is really great (breakfasts, soup, bread making, desserts, and many other meals), and isn't overwhelming like other great big cookbooks can be when you're just starting to venture into cooking from recipes, and don't know where to start with them! I love so many of the recipes inside, but my favourite and most used one is her chocolate cake (:

The reason I love this recipe so much is that it doesn't contain all the weird replacement ingredients which are hard to find that you can often come buy when searching for an egg-free cake recipe - no xanthan gum or strange egg-replacer mixes! All ingredients used are easy to come by in your local supermarket and don't make trying to bake an egg-free cake seem like an ordeal (: 

Another reason I like this recipe so much is that lots of people who have tried it and who are not allergic to egg, have told me that it tastes exactly like a regular cake - and some have even gone as far to say they prefer it to ones containing egg! If that doesn't say it's a great recipe, I don't know what does!

So, onto the cake... you will need:

  • 170g Plain Flour
  • 200g Caster Sugar
  • 4/5 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 23g Cocoa Powder
  • 1-2 Pinches of Salt
  • 225ml Milk (you can use any fat content milk, Soya milk or even Water if you prefer - I used Whole)
  • 50ml Corn Oil
  • 3/4 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
If you want to add butter icing, you will also need one small tub of slightly salted butter, at room temperature, and some icing sugar. Plus any any decorations you want for your cake (:

This is actually half the original recipe, so that's why some of the amounts are a little weird! It's meant to be enough mixture to split between two cake tins, but as I only have one tin I used less. 

The equipment you will need are:

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Cake Tin
  • Scales
  • Jug
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Sieve
  • Teaspoon
  • Tablespoon
  • Fork (optional)
  • Knife or Spatula
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F, Gas Mark 4). Sieve all of the dry ingredients together into the mixing bowl (flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder & salt). Once they are all in, mix together with the wooden spoon. They should go from looking like this...

... to this:

Step 2: Measure out the wet ingredients into the jug (milk, corn oil, white wine vinegar & vanilla extract) and mix together. The Corn Oil will always separate out though so I just give it a little mix each time before adding it to the dry ingredients. It should look like this:

Step 3: A bit at a time, add the wet ingredients mixture to the dry ingredients. Ensure they are completely combined and stir until smooth. The mixture you end up with will be quite wet and runny, but don't worry - it's meant to be like this!

Step 4: Grease your cake tine with either Corn Oil or Butter, or alternatively line with a baking sheet. 

Step 5: Pour the cake mixture into the tin - because it's so runny you should not need to even it out with a spatula. The place in the center of your preheated oven for approximately 40 minutes. If your cake tin has a removable base, place a tray on the shelf below it just in case there are any drips. 

Step 6: Once your cake is baked (see the photo at the top of the page!), take out of the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the tin and transferring to a plate or wire rack if you have one. 

If you are going to ice your cake, allow it to cool completely before you do, otherwise your icing will just melt off! I didn't measure out my icing, but I just put about 2/3 to 1/2 a small tub of slightly salted Lurpak spreadable butter at room temperature into a mixing bowl. I then sieved over and mixed in icing sugar until I thought it was right (: 

You can use a wooden spoon to combine the butter and icing sugar, but I prefer to use a large fork as you can 'mash' together the two ingredients, which makes making the icing a much quicker process (:

As long as it looks like this and tastes good, it should be fine (:

Step 7: Now's the time to add any food colouring you might want to your icing - I chose pink (: just a couple of drops unless you want seriously intense colour! Now spread it over your completely cooled cake using a knife or spatula. 

Step 8: Add any additional decorations that you may want - I went for Chocolate Hearts and Red Writing Icing.

Yeah I know I'm not the greatest cake decorator... haha.

Step 9: Serve and Enjoy!

As it's Valentines, I went with that theme for decoration (: the heart shape of the cake is just coincidental however - it's the only cake tin I own so every cake I bake is that shape! This is such a lovely cake recipe and it's great for any time of year, I hope you try it out for yourself and enjoy it as much as I do (:

What's your favourite kind of cake? Have you baked anything in particular for Valentines this year?  

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Maybelline Eyestudio Mono Eyeshadow in 'Iced Fudge' Review!

After reading a good few reviews, I decided to pop down to my local Boots store and pick up the Maybelline Eyestudio Mono Eyeshadow in 'Iced Fudge'. It looked like the perfect shimmery, cool-toned brown shade that would be great for a quick everyday wash of colour, and being so cheap (£4.09!) I had to get it. 

In the pan, Iced Fudge looks like a highly shimmery, almost taupe-brown. As you can see, there is quite a bit of fall out around it, however I found this did not occur when applying to the eyelids (or at least it wasn't noticeable). If fall out is experienced when applying it though, using a flat brush to push the product on to the lids should prevent this. I used my Real Techniques Base Shadow brush to apply it, as I dislike the foam applicators like the little one that it came with. 

Swatched above, Iced Fudge looks to be a glittery, nude-brown shadow, and appears to be a slightly warmer tone than it looks in the pan. This really appealed to me, as I love a bit of shimmer in my eyeshadows, and I wanted an everyday shadow that had a little bit of extra somethin'. 

On the lids, the eyeshadow doesn't look nearly as glittery as it does when swatched, and just provided a nice amount of shimmer. It's a very neutral shade, not overly cool or warm against my skintone. Seen here, I have got Iced Fudge alone all over my lids, with a bit of dark brown shadow for liner. 

I really like this shadow and my favourite way of wearing it is all over the lid and a little under the eyes, with a little light brown shadow blended in to the crease, paired with winged liner (of course). 

I think Iced Fudge is a lovely eyeshadow for an everyday wash of colour to the eyelids, and is a super quick and easy way to brighten up your day-to-day makeup. It could also easily be used in an evening look for those of you who prefer a more minimal eye, or be used with more intense shadows as a good transitional colour - it's a very versatile shade! It's also a great balance between cool and warm tones, so should suit most - if not all - skintones. 

Do you own Iced Fudge? Have you tried any of Maybelline's other Eyestudio Mono shades?

Monday, 3 February 2014

January Empties!

After a filming and editing disaster, I've finally got around to filming another video, and decided an 'Empties' one would be a good one to go for. I'm still not 100% comfortable in front of the camera, but that's the sort of thing that will only come in time I guess!

I hope you enjoy watching it, and all the products featured are listed in the 'About' section of the video (:

Let me know what products you've finished up recently (: what did you think of them?

P.S. I have no idea how to centre my video in my blog posts, or make them larger! Any help on that would be very much appreciated, I'm not very tech savvy!