An evening with Lush Cosmetics: Lush Swansea new store opening event

Lush Swansea new store opening

Lush Cosmetics has been one of my favourite brands since I first ventured into one of their stores early last year, and I now love nothing more than popping in, smelling the gorgeous displays, and finding something new to try.

Living just half an hour away from Swansea, I was obviously pretty excited to hear that they’d be moving to a new bigger space. So, when I was invited to check out the new Lush Swansea store before it officially opened with my friend, Siobhan, I didn’t waste any time in accepting!

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The new Lush store can be found at 808 Oxford Street, which is just around the corner from their old home. It’s also conveniently located a couple of doors up from the likes of Topshop, Marks and Spencer, Next, and Starbucks, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it!

Inside, the store is a lot bigger than their old one, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by how far back it went. It’s also beautifully set out with everything in its own special place; haircare, bubble bars and perfumes can be found on the right, body products at the back, and skincare, makeup, and shower gels on the left.

You’re also greeted by a wonderful display of bath bombs and FUN as you enter the store (with plenty of sinks for you to see the products in action), and the famous Fresh Face Mask Bar towards the back (is this anyone else’s favourite part of the store?).

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I swear only one of these drinks was mine…

The store opening also gave us the opportunity to see some of Lush’s new releases in the flesh, such as the Jelly Bombs, Jelly Face Masks, Body Sprays, and Hot Oil Treatments. I was very excited to be able to demo one of the new Jelly Bombs during the event, and was very grateful to be gifted some of the new products to take home with me. I can’t wait to try them out and share my thoughts!

Another highlight was making my very own Intergalactic and Dragon’s Egg bath bombs, which turned out pretty damn good (if I do say so myself). My skills aren’t a patch on Lush’s Bath Bomb Makers, though…

Although I was nervous to attend my first blogger event, I had a great evening and the lovely, friendly staff quickly put me at ease. I was also given a bunch of product recommendations to suit my needs, and I now have a wishlist as long as my arm.

I’d definitely recommend giving the new Lush Swansea store a visit if you can, and I’d like to say a massive thank you to Lush for letting me see the new store early!

Will you be popping into the new Swansea store to grab some goodies? What are your thoughts on the new store and product releases?

How to save money when buying beauty products

Saving money

If you’re as much of a beauty lover as I am, then you’ll know that it can become quite the expensive hobby; especially if you get through certain products very quickly (such as face powder or eye makeup remover, in my case), or you’re a sucker for a new release.

Fortunately, you can save a few pennies if you know the right tricks. Here are my top tips for saving money when buying beauty products…

Get a points reward card

Most of us have a Boots Advantage Card, but did you know that most beauty retailers now have their own points reward systems? Debenhams, House of Fraser, and Space NK are just a few of the stores that have their own version, and I actually prefer their systems to Boots’ because you can use your points as soon as they reach £5 (or £10 or £15…) and have been transferred to your card.

The time this takes varies from retailer to retailer, but I think it’s still worth the wait to be able to pay with a mixture of points and cash.

These retailers also often run offers that are exclusive to reward card holders (such as ‘earn double points’, or ‘spend £50 to get £10 worth of points’), so try to wait for these before doing a big restock!

Take advantage of offers and voucher codes

Feelunique and Lookfantastic are two of my favourite beauty retailers because their delivery is pretty quick and free (although you need to spend £15 for this to apply to Feelunique). They also stock a wide range of brands between them, from Estee Lauder and Urban Decay, to Oskia and Jurlique.

As well as regularly running great offers (such as flash sales or a certain percentage off your order), on the off chance that there isn’t a promotion on, voucher codes that give you between 10 and 20% off your order can often be found on Hot UK Deals.

Signing-up for newsletters can also be a good way to get offers sent straight to your email inbox (as long as you don’t mind getting a lot of emails). In fact, many retailers will send you a reward just for signing-up; Cult Beauty, for example, will give you free shipping on your first order.

Look out for free gifts with purchase

Estee Lauder, Clinique, and Clarins frequently run a Gift With Purchase (GWP) promotion when you visit their counters, and these can be a great way of discovering a new favourite product that you never would have thought of trying! As these are usually miniature products, they’re also very nice to have if you travel a lot; more often than not, they’ll come in a makeup bag.

However, one thing to be wary of is spending more money just to qualify for a free gift; you’ll typically need to purchase two products for that gift, so make sure you’re buying things you definitely want! There’s also no need to spend more money for the free gift if  it doesn’t contain products you’ll use, so always ask about the contents first.

Ask for a sample!

For a beauty lover, there’s no worse feeling than buying a pricey foundation, getting it home to try out, and realising the colour or the formula just doesn’t work for you. This is especially annoying considering the fact you can only return beauty products in the UK if you’ve kept the receipt and have had an allergic reaction (and even then, not all brands will take it back).

Foundations, primers, moisturisers, cleansers, and many other skincare items are just some of the products you can get samples of before you splash the cash, and many high-end counters will be happy to give you one if you ask! MAC, Dior, Benefit, BareMinerals, Chanel, and Estee Lauder are just some of the brands I’ve  snagged samples from without needing to spend a penny, though they’re usually pretty generous if you do ask for one when you purchase something else…

Search for affordable dupes

Finally, if you really can’t afford that £40 eyeshadow palette (or can’t justify buying it if you’re not going to use it all that often), then check out Makeup Revolution; they make really good quality dupes of some of the most hyped-up beauty products. Many of Sleek‘s products have also been claimed to be similar to certain high-end products.

NYX and KiKo are also very affordable brands with a wide colour range, and the quality of their products is comparable to that of more expensive brands. Definitely check them out!

What are your top tips for saving money when buying beauty? Share them in the comments!

The bad skin day saviours: 3 skincare products for clear and glowing skin

Bad skin day saviours

Bad skin days: they suck, and they happen to the best of us. In fact, despite having a solid skincare routine that I follow pretty much religiously (even when I stumble in from a night out at 3:00am), there are a couple of things that cause it to become sensitive and a bit spotty; a.k.a. stress, a lack of sleep, and one too many chocolates.

For these occasions, I present to you three products that help almost every type of bad skin day…

The one that brings the glow back

The REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is the product I always reach for when my skin is looking a bit dull and blotchy, which is often the case after a breakout. This thick, fruity smelling face mask exfoliates using four AHAs (including glycolic acid and lactic acid), so it always leaves my skin feeling soft, as well as looking clearer and more even in tone.

Although it provides quite an intense exfoliation (meaning my face can be a bit red after use), this tends to disappear quickly, and I don’t find this product to be too harsh for my sometimes sensitive skin.

The one that calms sore and angry skin

Next up in my bad skin day toolkit is the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask, which is a product you’ve probably already heard a lot about! It’s received its fair share of praise from the blogging community and for good reason; it’s a light, hydrating mask that soothes angry, red skin, while the antiseptic properties of the honey tackles spots and helps them to clear up quicker.

This face mask is basically just a great all-rounder, and I’d recommend it for all skin types!

The one that gets rid of spots

If I have a particularly bad spot and I want to get rid of it fast, then I know the one thing that’ll always have my back; the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. Containing a mixture of salicylic acid, zinc oxide, sulphur, and titanium dioxide (the pink mixture at the bottom of the bottle), and isopropyl alcohol (which sits on top of the mixture), this dries your spots out as you sleep, and I find it only takes a few days for mine to disappear completely.

Just remember not to shake the bottle, and to apply the pink mixture directly to the spot without rubbing it in!

What are your go-to bad skin day products? Have you tried any of my picks?

My current morning skincare routine

Morning skincare routine for combination skin

Having had teenage acne and both very dry and very oily skin in the past, skincare is something that’s very important to me, and I’m always trying new products to find my ‘perfect’ skincare routine. Put simply, this is a routine that’s able to balance my shiny patches (hello there, t-zone), hydrates my drier ones (a.k.a. my chin and under eyes), and doesn’t break me out or clog my pores.

Because of this, my skincare routine changes quite frequently, though I’m currently using a mix of products that seem to be working well for my skin. So, here’s what my current morning skincare routine looks like… (thanks Amy at A Little Boat Sailing for the post idea!)

When it comes to morning skincare, I want lightly layered products that sit well under makeup, as well as a cleanser that won’t dry out my skin or leave it feeling stripped, which is why I’m loving the BareMinerals Clay Chameleon Transforming Purifying Cleanser. My skin seems to really like a clay cleanser, and this one is no exception; it leaves my face feeling clean and smooth, but never tight due to its clay-to-cream texture.

Next up is toner, and my current go-to is the Caudalie Grape Water. Yes, I know that a lot of people don’t see the point in spray toners, but I find this step refreshing in the morning, and I do think it helps to add an extra layer of moisture. After I’ve left this to sink in for a few seconds, I’ll use the Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream because it’s light and has a slight sheen to brighten under eyes.

As my skin’s been getting a bit sensitive and dehydrated lately, I’ve been favouring products that contain hyaluronic acid, a natural substance that helps your skin to ‘lock-in’ water from anything you layer on top of it. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum is really affordable and it appears to be doing the job, though it needs to be applied quickly as it’s quite tacky.

Finally, I apply a light layer of the Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturiser. This is a really good pick for summer as it’s oil-free (so great for those shinier days!), it sinks in quickly, and it gives a nice smooth base for makeup. My current tub is on its last legs, and I can see myself purchasing many more of these…

What products are in your current skincare routine? Do you have any good recommendations for oily and combination skin?

Affordable beauty: 5 things to buy in Boots

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Like a lot of beauty bloggers, it’s no secret that I do love a bit of luxury beauty in my life. With its pretty packaging, high quality formulas, and the wider choice of options that tend to be available, I admit I can be a sucker for it sometimes.

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t still plenty of areas where you can save your money; from face masks to makeup removers, to mascaras to makeup brushes, the ‘drugstore’ offering is getting better and better when it comes to more affordable, yet effective, beauty products.

Boots is typically my store of choice, as it has such an expansive range of products from most price points. Plus, there’s always some sort of offer on, and I find it’s easy to build-up points on the good ol’ Advantage Card and save a few pennies!

There are also plenty of great, affordable brands that are exclusive to Boots, with one of the best known being Soap and Glory. Although there’s no denying that their bath and body care products are lovely (smell them. Seriously), there are some hidden gems in their makeup range. The One Heck of a Blot Powder is just one example; a translucent face powder that’s mattifying, but never looks cakey. Unlike a lot of the pressed powders I’ve tried, it also doesn’t go patchy when you apply other powder products over it.

Another brand I like to pick up in Boots is Una Brennan’s Super Facialist range. I’ve tried more expensive clay masks, but the Salicylic Acid Anti Blemish Clay Mask is hands down one of the best I’ve tried. It’s not drying on my skin (which is pretty normal lately, yet sometimes oily in the t-zone), and I can always rely on it to heal spots quickly.

While we’re on the subject of skincare, I don’t see much point in paying a lot for eye makeup removers. As I wear waterproof mascara 80% of the time, I tend to use a lot and go through them far too quickly to justify spending more than a few quid. The Nivea Daily Essentials Double Effect Eye Make-Up Remover does the job and it costs less than £4, even when it’s not on offer. You just can’t go wrong.

Back to makeup, and two other affordable products I’d recommend picking up are the Max Factor Crème Puff Blush in Seductive Pink and the Maybelline The Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara. The latter is quite a wet mascara with a thick brush, but don’t let that put you off as it’s one of the most lengthening ones I’ve tried. The blush is also a lovely light, mauve-y pink that flatters my pale skin tone.

What are your favourite makeup and skincare products to spend your Boots points on? Chuck me some recommendations!

My 2016 beauty favourites: the best of makeup and skincare

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For someone as indecisive as I am, choosing my 2016 beauty favourites turned out to be surprisingly easy.

Nonetheless, if you’d have asked me to do the same thing this time last year, I think I would have struggled a tad; and this is no surprise really as I still didn’t know how to balance my combination skin without drying it out, and my idea of an adventurous makeup look was a bit of neutral eyeshadow and some blusher.

Fortunately, I think I’m finally finding my feet with this whole applying-makeup-thing. I now know (for the most part) how to control my oily t-zone and dry chin, I’m a master of eyeshadow blending (well, nearly), and this is thanks to a number of products that I’ll happily sing the praises of.

Cue my 2016 beauty favourites… (be warned: it’s going to be a long one!)

Starting with skincare, there’s one product that I’d recommend time and time again; the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel. As many have said before me, this is unlike most gel cleansers as it’s quite thick and turns into a light oil, making it a great option for all skin types. It’s also gently exfoliating thanks to its pumpkin enzymes. While we’re on the subject of cleansing, Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Waters are another product I’ll always repurchase as they’re gentle, affordable and effective at removing makeup.

Now, let’s talk hydration. Although I am still on the hunt for the perfect moisturiser, I think I’ve found the oil for me. The Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil provides just the right amount of nourishment for my drier patches, while balancing my oiler areas and lessening oil production. It smells amazing as well; very herbal and spa-like. And when it comes to my under eyes? So far, nothing has helped with dehydration as much as Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado.

Last up in the skincare round-up is the Pixi Glow Tonic. This is an effective exfoliating toner that contains 5% glycolic acid, as well as soothing aloe vera and witch hazel (which is a good one for spots, just FYI). As my skin can get quite sensitive I only use this every other day, but I still find it brightens my skin and helps to keep it smooth and clear.

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Are you still with me? Good, because it’s time to move onto makeup… when it came to applying my base in 2016, there were two clear standouts; the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Cushion Foundation and the Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay in-Place-Makeup. The former has pretty much been my daily go-to for the past few months as it’s really quick and easy to apply (I use the applicator it comes with) and provides a good medium coverage. The latter is the one I bring out for long days or nights out as it covers everything and is the only foundation that lasts for more than 3 or 4 hours on my t-zone. To set my foundation, I’ve also been loving the Soap and Glory One Heck of a Blot Powder as it’s very mattifying but not too heavy.

For me, 2016 was the year that I really begun to hone my eyeshadow application skills (next on the list? Liquid eyeliner). As well as being thanked by the discovery of the MAC 217 Blending Brush, I’ve also fallen for a few creamy eyeshadows that can be applied in around 5 minutes. These are the By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Misty Rock (a taupey, silvery purple), The Chanel Illusion D’Ombre in Mirage (a golden bronze) and the Maybelline Colour Tattoo 24HR Eyeshadow in Pink Gold. All of these are great shades for the lazy girl as the shimmer makes them multidimensional, meaning they can be easily worn on their own.

I won’t harp on about these too much as I’ve already mentioned them a few times, but the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are definitely my favourite lipsticks. As I’ve said before, their shape makes application a whole lot easier, they last pretty well on the lips, and I’m convinced they have a red for everyone.

The Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks also come in a great shade range and I’ve loved Glastonbury from the Matte Revolution range; it’s a purpley-plum that leans a bit red on me, making it vampy but wearable. In terms of shades, another I fell in love with towards the end of the year was the MAC Viva Glam Lipstick in Ariana Grande II. It’s a hot orchid pink that instantly brightens up my face and I really like that it’s matte; these are the best of MAC’s lipstick formulas, in my opinion.

What were your favourite beauty products of 2016? Did we share any of the same favourites?

Makeup and skincare that is actually worth the hype

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Let’s just admit it: us bloggers like a bit of hype. But with so many new releases and an abundance of overhyped products already existing in the beauty world, it can be difficult to know where to save and where to actually spend your money. Regardless of this, I do sometimes still buy into the hype and have tried my fair share of famous products that everyone just seems to love.

All in the name of research, of course.

While I know everyone has different preferences and needs when it comes to their beauty products (for example, not everyone shares my oily skin woes), I thought I’d still share my two cents on the ones I felt were worth the hype to help inform your purchasing decisions.

So, without further ado, let’s start with the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel. This is a skincare product that probably needs no introduction, having appeared on the favourites list of many a beauty blogger. If you haven’t tried it for yourself, it’s a gel cleanser that turns into an oil, making it great for removing the last of your makeup. It’s also a really nice option for a second cleanse as it doesn’t foam or dry out your skin.

Now, it’s not be the cheapest, but I’ve found that nothing really compares in terms of both texture and ingredients (it contains vitamins A, C and E, as well as pumpkin enzymes to gently exfoliate).

While we’re discussing skincare, another product that exceeded my expectations is the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. This just works. I have (possibly) the driest under eyes known to man and find this really does help with my dehydration lines (which is something no other eye cream has done).

Though I love trying new skincare products, it’s makeup where I’ve found most of my ‘holy grails’ and one brand that often delivers when it comes to the hype is Nars. Hands down, my favourite product has to be the Radiant Creamy Concealer. This has a dryer texture than most other liquid concealers (so try it out in store if you’re on the dehydrated side), but I love that it has very high coverage.

I also recently purchased my first Nars Blush and I can see why so many people love them; it’s insanely pigmented. In fact, it’s hard not to go overboard when I apply this (I have the shade Lustre, which is a very warm peachy shade). Another product that packs a punch is the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed; the smallest amount is needed to add a lovely glow that isn’t too glittery. I think I’ll struggle to hit pan of both of these products, making them well worth the purchase for me!

Last but not least is a bit of a bit of a marmite product; Estee Lauder’s Double Wear. Although a lot of people find this to be too thick, I personally like the higher coverage for a night out. This foundation also has the best staying power out of all of the ones I’ve tried and I’ll only have a bit of a shiny t-zone after a 9-hour workday.

Which makeup and skincare products were worth the hype for you? Have you tried any of my picks?