I took my acrylics off today after having them on for a couple of months. My nails are so damaged, more so than usual, but I only have myself to blame.
Just in time for the New Year, I've decided to revert back to being 'au natural' and really try and grow my nails nice and strong over the next three months. My nails are currently paper thin, bendy, and full of ridges and dents due to the assortment of drills I've had moonwalk all over my nails beds. I did however have a full manicure this evening to kickstart their transformation - so at least my cuticles are looking fly, even if I do have stumps for nails!
So anyway, there's light at the end of the tunnel and I've rummaged through my 'nail care drawer' and pulled every item I own in an attempt to blitz my talons with some much needed TLC.
1. Mavala Scientifique Penetrating Nail Hardener
2. Mavala Mavaderma
3. Sally Hansen Nailgrowth Miracle
4. Sally Hansen Thicken Up!
5. Sally Hansen Hard As Nails
6. Essie Protein Base Coat
7. OPI Maintenance Nail Envy
I know for a fact that Mavala Scientifique definitely works, and priced just £5.50 at Boots it's affordable. The only item that's missing from this family photo is Renunail, which I spilt all over my window sill a few mths ago (this year alone at least 5 polishes have suffered the same fate - but on the carpet!), and Mavala Nailactan which I forgot to pull from my travel bag - sorry, but I can't be bothered to take the picture again but you can spot it in my Reunail post.
I've taken pics of my nails tonight to compare alongside their condition in a few weeks time, so I'll share photos when I do an update post. I guess you could say this is one of my Beauty Resolutions - to get my nails in better shape, but I'm not gonna kid myself and declare that I'll curb my spending on all things superficial in 2011cos that resolution proved to be an absolute J.O.K.E throughout 2010!!
Facial cleansers - I know the formula I like and stick with it. Gel cleansers, which foam up are my desired choice and although I may change brand occasionally, so long as the cleanser in question comes in a gel and foams up without leaving my skin feeling tight, then we'll more than likely get along.
I love, love, LOVE Dermalogica's Special Cleansing Gel which I was introduced to nine years ago, when I went for a Dermalogica facial (who was coincidentally the first one I'd ever had). I'm surprised it's taken me so long to speak of my love for this actually. I've repurchased this on and off over the years, and so was very pleased to receive a bottle after attending a Dermalogica bloggers event a few months ago.
I only need to apply the smallest amount to damp hands and I'm able to work up a creamy lather that cleanses thoroughly in one wash. A 250ml bottle of this clear gel, lasts me at least four months when used twice a day. I purchase mine from Pura which sells Dermalogica considerably cheaper than the better known websites that I'm aware of - so bookmark this website in your faves!
When I'm not using Special Cleansing Gel, I'm using Neutrogena's Fresh Foaming Cleanser, which I stumbled upon in NY a couple of years ago. I don't know what the UK equivalent of this is, yet to find a Neutrogena cleanser which looks the same (but in a different bottle) over here, so I just stock up whenever I'm stateside.
Finally to finish off my cleansing routine, I apply Dermalogica's Daily Microfoliant, which is a rice based, super-fine powder after using one of the aforementioned cleansers. When rubbed between wet hands it transforms into a smooth, creamy paste which I then rub in circular motions all over my face. Unlike traditional exfoliators, this doesn't contain grains, but still leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft to touch once rinsed off. I love the immediate smoothing effect it has on my skin, which leads me to believe that any debris or roughness is sloughed off in an instant.
So there you have it, these are the cleansers I reach for over any others. How about you? Are you a gel, cream or oil cleanser kinda gal?
...which can only mean one thing. FREE NAIL POLISH!
After the huge success of their first collaboration, the City Collection back in May, Diet Coke and Nails Inc have joined forces once again to bring out four limited edition nail polish shades, which you can pick up for free with the purchase of two 500ml bottles of Diet Coke - that's two bottles per polish, not two bottles for the lot. Greedy!
Cool Caramel, Delicious Denim, Perfect Plum and Heavenly Heather Gray.
This offer will be hitting selected Boots stores on January 12th 2011 - so no whining that you didn't get enough notice!I predict Cool Caramel will sell out first.
Now whilst I'm all for freebies, the non-stop barrage of offers from Nails Inc do leave me a little bemused. Nails Inc are always discounting or giving away their wares! How do they make any money??
If only OPI and Essie would follow suit .... #yeahright
Ok, where have I been?! I had no idea about this impending release, but I was pretty busy throughout the months of Oct/Nov, so I think I can be excused!
Aimed to suit all skin tones, Sleek will be releasing Molten Metal, a metallic cream duo which can be used on the eyes, lips and cheeks as a highlighter. It goes without saying that these will be compared to Illamasqua's Liquid Metals. Whether they'll crease as badly, remains to be seen.
I think it also goes without saying that Sleek's price tag of £6.99 for two shades as opposed to the £17 Illamasqua charge you for one is a no brainer!
Molten Metal comes in a cool Pewter and a warmer toned Gold Leaf.
I can't help but agree with Sarah, writer of I Heart Cosmetics, that Sleek have missed a trick by releasing these after the festive period. This would have flown off the shelves, being snapped up by girls wanting a bit of extra oomph to their party faces for a fraction of the price.
Release date - Jan 5th (give or take a couple of days!)
Whilst I'm confident we're all protecting our faces with rich, soothing moisturisers in this chilly weather, let's not forget that our smackers need some attention too - especially if you plan to proceed with some lip action once the clock strikes 12 on New Years Eve!
I've been road testing a number of lip balms lately. keep reading to see what I think of them.
Hmmm so I'm back sooner than I'd anticipated. The boredom kicked in yesterday and so I thought I'd get a head start on the deluge of posts I need to write up. I hope those of you who celebrated had a lovely Christmas break, and those of you who don't, just had a cool time anyway!
I feel grossly bloated, due to all the fatty, sugary crap I've consumed over the past week and my skin has suffered as a direct result of my gluttony. Copious amounts of water are currently being consumed and I'm putting all my face masks to good use. Still, it could be worse, I could look like this ...
In other news, I've decided to use NARS Albatross (a highlighter) each day for the rest of the week. I owe it to my cheeks as I've neglected it forever. I think I'll squeeze a FOTD post in this week to give you an idea of what it looks like on.
This will be my last post until the New Year, so I'll take this opportunity to wish all my Vex in the City readers, a wonderful Christmas and to enjoy your precious time spent with family and loved ones over the festive period.
Thank you for all the comments, laughs and support you've shown my blog through 2010. It wouldn't be as much fun writing it without your interaction. You guys are the bestest!!
I'll be back in 2011with a barrage of posts, reviews and giveaways for you all - many of which I've been unable to post over the past couple of weeks, due to irregular/weird internet access. My internet access will hopefully be back to normal by mid January. I'll also reply to comments/questions that have been left for me then too, as for some reason I can't at the moment!
Also, a big thanks to my Twitter fam - many a boring evening has been made thoroughly entertaining reading your tweets and rants! If you're on Twitter, you can follow me here .
Keep your eyes peeled for a blog sale at some point too. I have more make up than than is considered humanaly responsible and some of it really has to go!
Have fun, stuff your faces (make sure you get ALL the 'purple ones' and 'green triangles' in the Quality Street tin), get those Boxing Day sales bargains and stay safe xxx
As previous posts suggest, I've become a big fan of Aromatherapy Associates (the Anti-Age Overnight Repair Mask is still my favourite face mask) since being introduced to the specialist aromatherapy brand a few months ago. Therefore, my recent spate of Christmas gift posts wouldn't be complete without taking a look what they have on offer in the way of gifts during the festive season.
Here are just two gift ideas for you to mull over.
Treat someone special to this beautiful duo of limited edition bath and shower oils. 'Silent Night' is infused with wild camomile and vetivert to give you a peaceful nights sleep and 'Clear Dawn' is awash with eucalyptus and ravensara which will awaken the senses and refresh your mind. Priced at just £14.
Fancy splashing the cash? Then look no further than the Ultimate Bath & Shower Oil Collection, which again comes in this acquisitive rich purple casing - divine!
Find all nine hero Bath & Shower oils in this larger sized set - an oil for every mood, setting the scene for pure indulgence and a memorable aromatherapy experience. This beauty is priced at £49.50
You can find Aromatherapy Associates stocked at Liberty (3rd Floor). Check your nearest stockist here
Ok, although nobody appears to be leaving this country any time soon due to the snow, I've loving the novel idea behind this travel set.
Encased in a metal tin shaped as a suitcase, Burts Bees have everything you need for your trip away in this cute gift set and I think this would make a fab pressie for the frequent flyer.
The tin contains everything you need for gorgeous, skin, hair and lips all in handy travel size. The pack includes Burt’s Bees Original lip balm, Champagne Lip Shimmer, Mini Radiance Day Cream, Mini Super Shiny Shampoo and Conditioner, Mini Citrus Body Wash, Mini Milk and Honey Body Lotion, Mini Peach Deep Pore Scrub.
Priced £18, it can found here at Want The Look. You can place orders up to Thursday 23rd Dec at 3pm for UK mainland deliveries.
Being the product junkie I am, and constantly aware that I'm not getting any younger, I'm all for trying out new skincare products and eagerly waiting for my skin to transform and emerge fresh faced and juicy as a peach.
Bliss Triple Oxygen + C Energizing Cream has the most enticing name (for me anyway), and I was sucked in before I'd even opened the box!
This lightweight gel-cream promises to deliver an extra burst of oxygen to help support skin respiration, which in turn will revive fatigued skin and improve skin hydration. At the time of usage, this is exactly what I needed, due to umpteen late nights burning the midnight oil and being under quite a lot of stress.
Those of you into your skin science, will be happy to know that it doesn't contain the following:
Bliss claim you'll see results after one use. I didn't. Personally, I found it TOO light as a moisturiser, to have any profound impact on my skin. It was just ...blah. I preserved and used it daily for almost three weeks before accepting defeat, as the weather was turning colder and this wasn't giving me the protection I needed. Despite absorbing well, there appeared to be no change to my skin at all. Hydration levels were much the same as before and I didn't notice a glow of any sort emitting from within. Overall, I was pretty disappointed.
I certainly wouldn't pay £45 for it, as I'm sure you can find facial moisturisers in Superdrug (own brand for that matter) which would give the same effect for less than four quid! Besides, three weeks in and I was half way through the pot, for that price my moisturiser better last me at least 6 months!
Perhaps if used in conjunction with the Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask (which happens to be a bestseller), the results may have been different - who knows. This is the first Bliss product I've tried, unfortunately it wasn't a positive experience, but hey ho, you can't love 'em all!
Pick up some last minute Christmas gifts with your brussell sprouts and King Edwards! From now until Christmas Eve, Tesco are offering Buy One Get One Free on all Tesco Beauty gifts. Take a quick look at just some of the gifts available.
Their relaxing Spa range offers everything from scented candles to pampering kits in scents that aim to sooth, calm and basically prevent you from strangling that annoying relative who won't shut up on Christmas Day!
This Nivea skincare gift set will only set you back £4!
Nature's Extracts Lip Balm Trio comes in scrummy Cocoa Butter & Almond, Pomegranate & Fig and fruity Mango & Papaya - and is just £3
The Floral Secrets bathing roses, look pretty floating in a relaxing bath - they smell pretty good and better still, they're only £2! A nice stocking filler for the lady who takes her pampering seriously.
Tesco have come up trumps with these prices - Every Little Helps indeed! (sorry, couldn't resist!)
I attended a free Illamasqua masterclass back in October, at their new flagship store in Soho, which focused on beauty for black skin. It was refreshingly informative and I felt privileged to have such informal access to David Horne, make up artist and Ilamasqua's New Product Developer.
David played host and entertained us for two hours as he shared tips and wisdom on his experiences with black beauty, with a few laughs thrown in for good measure. I was quite intrigued by a technique he shared, which resulted in him using a bright orange lip/eye pencil to shade the skin around the mouth, before applying foundation over the top.
This skin brightening technique is used by professionals to bright black skin and dispel pigmentation. In this instance it was used to create a sharper finish around the mouth area.
You can view David demonstrating the skin brightening technique at the masterclass here:
Fellow Illamasqua artists Stacy and Bolanle also demonstrated two looks on the model for the night - pastel eyes and a bold lip colour.
David also allowed us to have an exclusive sneak peak of Illamasqua's new foundation, which he swears will blow every other formula out of the water. I left with the impression that this has been formulated to question the ability of every other "HD" foundation on the market.
Need some order in your make up loving lives? Looking for the ideal gift for a beauty queen? Then look no further than Beauty-Boxes who stock a variety of beauty cases, trolleys and beauty accessories. Their extensive range of stylish and durable products are perfect for storing all your beauty products and come in colours and finishes to suit every taste.
I bought a Beauty Box a couple of years ago now and it's been a huge help in organising some of my stash. I managed to find an old pic I have on my phone of my San Remo beauty case (pictured below) in silver. It has kept my coveted limited edition delights secure and safe from sticky fingers!
If the San Remo is out of your budget, check out these gift ideas from Beauty-Boxes...
Ooooh there's not long to go now and I'm sure I can't be the only one who hasn't started finished buying gifts for their nearest and dearest.
If you're looking for gifts with an air of sophistication, which are beautifully presented but won't leave you destitute, then take a look at some of the stocking filler gift sets from Espa this Christmas. If you're on a budget, but don't want to scrimp on quality then check out...
THE LITTLE BOX OF CALM - £10.00
Comes complete with ESPA Soothing Body Oil (15ml) and Soothing Bath Oil (15ml). Perfect for relaxing, after all those Christmas parties. Wind down with the festive scents of frankincense and myrrh, fragrant ylang ylang and sensuous sandlewood essential oils.
MOOD COUTURE £18.00
Uplift or de-stress your senses with this dinky set of bath oils ideal for energising yourself or relaxing during the stress that often comes with Christmas. Contains: Soothing Bath Oil (15ml), Soothing Body Oil (15ml), Energising Bath Oil (15ml), Energising Body Oil (15ml).
I was actually given an ESPA bath oil as a gift earlier this year and it was a lovely product which was really soothing to use in the bath after a long day.
Take a look at the rest of the ESPA gift collection and product range, which caters for every budget and can be purchased online at www.espaonline.co.uk, Liberty, selected Harvey Nichols stores and spa's.
I went to pick up my trusty Botanics Soothing Eye Make Up Remover last week but it had sold out - no surprise there, it's a damn good product. Visits to two more branches resulted in the same outcome. Somewhat disgruntled at this point, I asked a sales assistant if there were any more bottles out the back - there wasn't (well there probably were but she couldn't be assed to go and check for me - so who knows!).
She did however, suggest that I try their organic version. At first glance I was hesitant, I prefer to use liquids to remove my eye make up, not milky cleansers or oils. I was desperate though, so caved in and bought it.
Boots Botanics describe it as:
"A luxurious eye make up remover that melts into the skin, easily removing eye make up and leaving skin cleansed, smooth and velvety soft."
I was fully prepared for my mascara removal to be an utter disaster that evening, but instead I was left pleasantly surprised. It comes in the form of a light gel-like balm in a squeezy tube. The easiest way I've found to apply it, is to rub it between my fingertips to warm/melt the product. It goes on smoothly and does feel luxurious in a calming spa-like kinda way I suppose.
Rubbing it over my eyes is a painless experience - no stinging or cloudy vision and I'm able to open my eyes and blink to my hearts content before rinsing it off. I've also wiped it off using a damp cotton wool pad or muslin cloth and have achieved the same results. I'd say 97% of my mascara is removed first time - and that's with a massaging time of approximately 12 seconds. I massage firmly, but not vigorously or in a rough manner. If I feel I need to, I'll apply a smaller amount a second time just to ensure every last scrap of eye make up is gone.
I'm impressed at how effective this is, despite it being so gentle it dissolves mascara and eye liner quickly and to date it's caused no irritation or dryness around my eyes.
Ingredients are few - all this contains is olive oil, jojoba seed oil, glycerin, water, sucrose stearate and sucrose myristate, so no weird chemicals provoking any weird reactions. I'd imagine its the oils that do the main job breaking down and dissolving the make up.
I'm yet to try this on a waterproof mascara so can't comment on how well it works on that formula, but if you're looking for an eye make up remover to use in the shower/bath then this is a product to consider.
I should find that sales assistant and thank her for the recommendation!
I'm addicted to hand cream. I apply it lavishly a number of times a day and have been known to go back home ten minutes into a journey to go and get it (I do the same for lipbalm) on the rare occasions I've forgotten to pop it back into my handbag.
The latest hand cream I've tried of late, is Liz Earle's Hand Repair. Packed with panthenol (pro-vitamin B5), soothing echinaca, antioxidants beta-carotene and natural source Vitamin E, I thought my hands were in for a treat and looked forward to using it as the weather took a turn for the worse.
Pretty, sleek packaging and a compact size makes it easy to carry around, but I'm not a fan of the formula. Hmmm what to say about this..it's not my favourite Liz Earle product. At first squirt, I'm impressed by the texture, which is rich and reasonably thick, but once I began to rubs my hands together, it just doesn't deliver the moisturising properties that I'd expect.
An example of this, was yesterday morning. I'd forgotten my gloves at home and it was quite cold yesterday. I had moisturised my hands Hand Repair just before leaving the house, yet two minutes later at the bus stop, dry skin was staring back at me in the crease between my thumb and finger - not sexy.
As the day went on, whenever I used it after washing my hands I felt I had to apply more pressure than usual when rubbing my hands together, but I was never satisfied with the end result.
Plus points? It's certainly not greasy, in fact it leaves a somewhat silky finish to the hands after application and it has a light, minty type scent to it - actually it's reminiscent of other products in the Superskin line but less penetrative. It also absorbs easily too.
Check out the lovely gift box packaging that all orders will benefit from throughout the festive period.
All in all it's not a terrible product, and I'm sure it's loved by many, but when compared to how moisturising I find Liz Earle's Superskin Body Cream, then I have to be honest and say that it scores poorly in comparison. This isn't a a Liz Earle product that I'd personally recommend, bottom line is that it's just not as moisturising as I'd like.
After using my latest facial brush to within an inch of its life, I was on the look out for a suitable replacement. I've been a faithful user of facial brushes for years now and although it's quite likely that I'm gonna purchase a Clarisonic if Santa, my parents choose to ignore the blatant hints I've been dropping over the past few days, being the bargain hunter that I am, I wanted to exhaust all other options first.
So whilst browing Sephora.com a couple of weeks ago, trying to decide what to waste my money on next, I came across the Precision Pore Cleansing Pad - described as a flexible, silicone pad which helps to gently exfoliate the skin and clean pores, the rave reviews on Sephora.com got me pretty excited. I just had to buy this, it sounded too good to be true and even better, it only cost $5!
A day later, it was mine. In hindsight, I wish it wasn't.
First of all, I don't need to own a Clarisonic in order to know that the reviewer who likened this TO the Clarisonic was talking out of their lipglossed a**!
Since returning from New York my skin has been a total nightmare. A long haul flight combined with a weeks worth of late nights and early starts has left me looking ravaged. My skin is the driest it's been in forever and I'm currently sporting a delightful rash on my forehead caused by lord knows what (perhaps the change in climate, I dunno). I was hoping this would offer it some much needed exfoliation without aggravating it further. How wrong was I ...
This is nothing more than a piece of rubber with bristles that fails to cleanse my skin properly. Its performance is further hindered by the awkward handle which is difficult to grasp with a firm grip once it gets wet. I'm at a loss as to why this has been rated so highly by Sephora customers. It swirled my cleanser around my face pathetically, failing to lift dirt or dead skin cells and basically did nothing to enhance my cleansing experience.
Do yourself a favour the next time you're in Sephora and spot this, don't pick it up! There's a reason why it's so cheap.
The race is on to get all your Christmas shopping out of the way before the anticipated 'big freeze' blasts UK shores once again by the end if the week, and Elemis are offering a helping hand by offering 20% off over at timetospa.
Bag yourself 20% off all FULL SIZE Elemis Products and collections (gift sets) using discount code XMAS2010 - valid from Dec 13th-Dec 26th 2010
** Offer not valid on brands other than Elemis, travel sizes, duos, Elemis Day-Spa vouchers, gift vouchers, or in conjunction with any other offer.
Ahh but wait they're not done yet! This week only a 5 day special commences offering 3 for 2 on ALL collections including Bliss, Essie, Philip Kingsley and Elemis. But any three collections on timetospa and get the cheapest FREE! Enter XMAS3FOR2 at checkout. Valid 13th-17th Dec 2010
** 3 for 2 valid on collections only. Not valid on Duos, full size products, travel sizes, gift vouchers, Elemis day-spa vouchers or in conjunction with any other promotion.
Oh and if that's not value for money, timetospa are offering FREE DELIVERY ON ALL ORDERS throughout December! If you fancy treating somebody special to a bit of luxury this Christmas, check out these offers now.