First impressions: Kat Von D Beauty

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Kat Von D Beauty is one of those makeup brands that I’ve always been drawn to, despite the fact that it’s not that easily available in the UK. From the more alternative branding (that suits Kat’s style oh-so-well), to the bright colours and much raved about product formulas, I just knew it was a brand that I’d instantly get on with- and I wasn’t wrong.

When the Debenhams website first started stocking the brand last year, it wasn’t long before I’d ordered a few of the Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks to try (including the famous Lolita). From then on I was hooked, and I quickly added the foundation and powder to my wishlist. So, when the counter finally arrived at the Cardiff Debenhams store, I knew I had to pick those up (as well as a few more things for good measure).

If you want to try some Kat Von D Beauty products but don’t know where to start, here are my thoughts on the products I’ve tried and tested so far…

Kat Von D Lock-It Liquid Foundation

The Lock-It foundation was the product that I was most excited to try because I’d heard great things about the shade range and the high level of coverage, and it sounded like it would hold up well on my oily t-zone.

With that in mind, let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed with this foundation! Not only was it easy to find my perfect colour match (there are 30 shades to choose from), but the level of coverage is comparable to Estee Lauder’s Double Wear; although I don’t, I could get away with not wearing concealer with either of these. I also think the Lock-It foundation does a good job of smoothing out pores, and it doesn’t look cakey on the drier areas of my skin either. It’s quickly become one of my favourites!

Kat Von D Lock-It Brightening Loose Powder

As someone with combination skin, I need to use powder, but find they can sometimes look too cakey. This isn’t an issue I have with the Lock-It powder though; it’s pretty matte, but it provides a smooth finish and it seems to work with every foundation I’ve worn it over (it’s translucent in colour). It’s not as luminous as my HG, the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, but I do really like it.

Shade and Light Contour Palette

I’ve only used this a few times so far (and I am yet to try the two darker highlight and contour powders), so I can’t give a full review. However, let’s just say that my first impressions are very good! The powders seem to blend seamlessly on top of other powder products, and the lightest contour powder is the right amount of cool-toned for me. With three matte contours and highlighters to choose from, I also think this will work for most skintones.

Even as someone who’s on the paler side (I’m around a NC15-20 in terms of MAC shades), I can find a use for all of these powders; I use the first cool-toned contour powder to add definition to my checkbones, then the second, warmer shade to bronze up the rest of my face. I then sweep the lightest highlighter across the tops of my cheekbones, my chin, my forehead, and anywhere else I want to highlight, and the more yellow-toned one under my eyes. The lovely girl who served me at the counter also said I could use the two darker shades as eyeshadows, which I can’t wait to try out!

Shade and Light Eye Contour Quad in Rust

When I saw this eyeshadow palette, I knew I just had to have it. I’m really loving the current trend of bright, very warm-toned eyeshadows, and the orange shade is unlike anything else in my collection. Plus, you get four eyeshadows for £17, which I think is a good deal in comparison to other high-end makeup brands.

The four colours in the quad work really well together to achieve a more dramatic night time look, but I do think you could just use the light pink and orange shades for something more day appropriate. In terms of formula, they’re also easy to blend, and I didn’t get a lot of fall out when I used them.

Tattoo Liner in Trooper

Because I bought a few things on the day the Kat Von D counter opened in the Cardiff Debenhams, I was lucky enough to get a mini of the Tattoo Liner and a makeup bag for free. Now, I’m not the best at applying liquid eyeliner (especially the cat eye flicks), but this does make it a little easier. The end of the brush is very thin as it’s made up of lots of small bristles, so it glides very smoothly, and you can achieve a very thin and precise line. This is the part I struggle with, so it’s great news for me!

Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks

As I already mentioned, I’m a big fan of the Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks, and I now have a few in my collection. Not only are there over 30 colours in the range (including bright reds, pinks, and purples, and cool and warm-toned nudes), but I just love the formula; they don’t dry straight away, so it’s easy to fix any mistakes, and when they do, they’re very matte and long-wearing.

I wore the shade Santa Sangre (a warm red) on a recent night out and I only had to re-apply it once where it had started to fade in the middle.

Have you tried Kat Von D Beauty yet? If not, which of the products are you most excited to try?

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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!

Brand focus: 5 products to try from Charlotte Tilbury

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Alongside NARS, Bobbi Brown, and Urban Decay, Charlotte Tilbury is one of my favourite makeup brands- and it’s not just because of that luxurious rose gold packaging. I just love that many of the products have been collated into specific looks (making it super easy to pair them together), and the colours are gorgeous.

It’s not just that, though; the quality of the products inside definitely live up to their outer packaging.

Having been a fan of Charlotte Tilbury for a few years now, I’ve tried a number of products from the range, and I’ve found a few firm favourites. So, if you’re unsure of what to try from the brand, here are the top five products I’d recommend…

All of the Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eyeshadow Palettes are lovely, but it’s the Dolce Vita that has my heart. The brown and red shades are really pigmented, and they work perfectly together to create a warm toned smokey eye. The red can also be used with the lightest shade for a more day appropriate look, making this palette more versatile than it looks at first glance.

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When it comes to base products, Charlotte Tilbury just gets it. The Filmstar Bronze & Glow is probably one of my most used palettes, and for good reason; the contour in the Light-Medium version never looks muddy on my paler complexion, while the highlighter adds some serious glow.

I also love The Retoucher for brightening dark circles (although I do layer it over another higher coverage concealer), and the Magic Foundation. A little of this goes a long way, and it gives a good level of coverage with a satin finish. Definitely a good option for more oily or combination skin types!

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Finally, I’m a big fan of Charlotte Tilbury’s matte lipsticks. Not only are they really comfortable to wear, but they do stick around! My favourite shades are Glastonberry from the Matte Revolution range (a very vampy dark plum), and Super Cindy and Hell’s Bells from the Hot Lips collection. The first is a peachy nude, while the latter is a more pink-y version of Glastonberry.

Have you tried Charlotte Tilbury makeup? What are your favourite products from the brand?

Foundations for every occasion (and mood)

Foundations for every occasion (and mood)

When it comes to my makeup, I’m all about that base, and I have quite the hefty collection of foundations to back this up. In fact, if I was in a rush and didn’t have the time to apply a whole face of makeup, I’d opt for foundation, concealer and powder over eye makeup and blusher.

However, this doesn’t mean that I’m just a fan of super high coverage foundations; as my skin has become less oily and more even in tone, I’ve also discovered a love for some lighter bases, too. So, here’s my round-up of my favourite full, medium and light coverage foundations for all occasions and moods…

Best for: high coverage

If you have a lot of redness and oiliness, then the Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay in-Place-Makeup is the foundation for you. This might be a little too thick for some people, but it pretty much covers everything; in fact, I could probably skip concealer with this. It’s great for those days when you need your makeup to last all day, though it does leave a matte finish, so you may want to get a sample first if you have dry skin.

The Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Cushion Foundation also offers a good level of coverage, but it’s lighter and not as matte as Double Wear. Nonetheless, this is the foundation I reach for the most as it’s really quick to apply, and never looks cakey on the skin.

Foundations for every occasion (and mood)

Best for: medium coverage

The NARS Sheer Glow Foundation is really popular in the blogosphere, but I don’t use this half as much as I should; being a water-based foundation that offers sizeable coverage, I find it needs quite a lot of buffing and blending. This is something I don’t have time for in the morning, but it’s worth going through the extra work for a night out as this foundation gives such a nice glow to the skin.

Best for: low coverage

Like Sheer Glow, the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Makeup (what a mouth full) has a thinner, more watery texture, so it requires a little more blending time and the right primer. You can’t use anything with too much silicone underneath this, as it will go patchy. This is still one of my favourite bases though as it evens out your skintone, and leaves a very fresh and natural looking finish. I do find this isn’t that long-lasting on my oilier patches, but I think it would be a great pick for dry skin!

In my opinion, the L’Oréal Paris Nude Magique Cushion Foundation is the lightest of the bunch, so I reserve it for good skin days. Like the Lancôme cushion, it’s really quick to apply, though the finish is far more dewy and natural; you can still see your own skin shining through.

Do you prefer a high, medium or low coverage base? Which foundation is your favourite?

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!

Bright lipsticks for every mood: reds, pinks and plums

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I’m a big fan of bright lipsticks, as is evident every time I look at my expanding lipstick collection. From the wide selection of colours and finishes to choose from, to their ability to instantly dress up any outfit with a little effort, they’re definitely my favourite makeup product to both buy and wear.

But while my younger (and for a while, braces wearing self) would shy away from anything too dramatic, I’m now firmly on the bright lip brigade; and though I love a classic nude or ‘your lips but better’ shade, sometimes you want something a bit different. This is where a good plum, pink or red comes in…

Because I do like a red lipstick and feel there’s a shade to suit everyone, I’ve featured a few options in this little products round-up. The first is quite famous in the beauty blogging world; the Rimmel Kate Matte Lipstick in 107. The colour is what I’d call a deep wine red (bordering almost on plum), and it just seems to suit everyone. This is probably because it sits somewhere between a plum and a deep red, and it’s berry-toned without being too dark.

If you do like your plums but want something that makes more of an impact, the Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Lipstick in Hell’s Bells is a great place to start. As you can see from the bullets, this is far more purple and cool-toned than 107, and it has a hint of pink. It’s described on the Charlotte Tilbury website as ‘magenta-mulberry inspired’, which I would agree with.

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Moving back to reds, and next up is the Bobbi Brown Lip Colour in Orange. Now, this might be described as a ‘pumpkin orange’ on the Bobbi Brown website, but it pulls more orange-red on me (for reference, I’m around a NC15 in Mac). Nonetheless, this is really bright and I like how it warms up my complexion, though I think it would suit a range of skin tones.

It’s no secret that I love the Nars lip pencils, which is why they’re getting another mention (see this previous post for reference). The brightest of the two is the Satin Lip Pencil in Yu, which is described as a “vivid pink” by Nars. This lipstick is almost neon in terms of vibrancy, but I still find it to be quite flattering for my pale skin tone as it’s blue-toned, rather than peachy.

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Last up is my favourite of the two lip pencils: the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl. This is a cherry red shade with a hint of pink, making it a great option if you also have a paler complexion. In fact, it was Taylor Swift’s favourite red lipstick before she discovered Mac’s Ruby Woo (so you know it’s a good’un).

Do you enjoy rocking a bright lipstick? Which shades are your favourite?

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?