Sunday, 20 July 2014

Quick Tip: Best Way to Clean Cosmetic Sponges

A super quick post today as after a few years of cursing my beauty sponges when they got dirty, I've worked out the quickest and easiest way to clean them, and wanted to share it!
I'm a real stickler for getting my sponges scrupulously clean- I wash every last remnant of foundation/concealer from the surface and make sure the inside is as spotless as it can be too. Spending so long under the hot tap means it has taken about a year for any of my sponges to develop a stain, but it also means that I dread sponge-cleaning time as it takes so long. I asked for suggestions for a better method than just Baby Shampoo and antibacterial cleanser a while ago on twitter and I received all sorts of suggestions from showering with sponges to putting them in the washing machine, but nothing worked well enough for me.

I wrote about Surgical Spirit in my recent favourites post, and raved about how well it cleans and sanitises brushes and how cheap it is for a huge bottle (£3.56 for 500ml at my local chemist, or £1.35 for 200ml at Superdrug). I've been the loving the Beauty Blender since I received one in the July Birchbox but unfortunately I accidentally threw away the soap it came with and, looking for a way to keep my washing woes to a minimum, I turned to the Surgical Spirit to see what it could do. 

My new method is to place the sponge in an old or disposable plastic cup, then pour the Surgical Spirit over it until it swells, before giving it a few squeezes and pokes in the cup. It's amazing how dirty the liquid turns! As Surgical Spirit is mainly alcohol, it will kill any germs and bacteria lurking on and inside the sponge. 
After squishing the sponge in the cup for a bit, I pour away the Spirit and squeeze the sponge tightly in sink, it already looks considerable cleaner. I then move onto Baby Shampoo, and it takes two lots of shampooing and rinsing instead of the usual million to get the sponge completely stain-free, alcohol free, and back to its original clean state. I find the best way to lather it up is to rub the shampoo onto the outside of the sponge then roll it in between the palms of my hands instead of trying to scrub or squeeze the gel in. I then leave it in a little dish to air dry until I'm ready to use it. 

I usually find dye comes out of a new sponge for the first 5 or so washes, and the Spirit seems to really draw this extra dye out, which I find helpful as it can stain my sink during normal sponge washing. It does lightens the sponge's colour a little bit on the first wash so if colour is very important to you then this may not be the right method. However the alcohol doesn't change the texture or usage of the sponge at all and the shortened cleaning time outweighs a bit of colour change for me. 

If you're struggling to keep your sponges spotless and sanitised I would highly recommend getting yourself a bottle of Surgical Spirit, as it not only works brilliantly on sponges but it's also great for brushes too!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tips For Preventing Pain & Sensitivity From Crest Whitestrips

Crest Whitestrips receive a great deal of good reviews from the beauty community and are in my opinion one of the best affordable at home whitening treatments available. That said, in people with sensitive teeth, the whitening process can be a bit of a nightmare and bring quite a lot of pain along with bright shiny whiter teeth.

For me, the pain is almost always on the top 'chewing' part of the tooth, and feels like an electric shock right down into my nerve. I've had pain so strong, just for a few seconds, that it's made me gasp and need to sit down (the things we do for beauty eh!). The sensible advice would be to stop using the strips if the pain is too bad. But that said they really do work and I know some of you aren't in the habit of taking sensible advice! 
I've worked out some methods that in my case not only prevent the pain while whitening but also the extra sensitivity afterwards, so if they cause you pain but you're really determined to keep using them, then follow my tips below for 95% pain free whitening!

My first tip is to apply a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth before beginning. There are fancy toothpastes that can claim to numb the teeth but I find normal Sensodyne works fine. You can brush with it but I find it more effective to apply a big blob with my finger and spread the paste out into the teeth, leaving as long as possible before trying to swallow. 

If you get pain in the same place as me then the next tip is to avoid the top of the tooth completely and only whiten one side at a time instead of folding the strip over the teeth. This is done by cutting each strip in half lengthways and applying to only the front or back surface of the tooth at a time.

The final tip is to prevent any of the foam created from the strip coming into contact with the top of the teeth. Keeping your mouth open and swallowing carefully helps to some extent, but the foam seems to swell over and  get into the sensitive parts of the teeth. I've found the best way to prevent this is to bite down on a cotton pad while whitening.
This isn't too intrusive as you can still breathe and swallow normally but it really does help. For a 30 minute treatment you might need two or more cotton pads as they get a bit damp, and you need to make sure you place it far enough into your mouth to cover all the teeth being whitened, but this is the only way that I can wear even half a strip for the full 30 minutes of the 3D White treatment.

And there we go! This isn't rocket science stuff but you shouldn't feel much, if any, pain while using these methods, and all I get now is a mild tingling in my teeth. I've said, these strips really do work, otherwise I wouldn't keep using them. They're so much cheaper than getting a professional treatment, and even some of the over the counter treatments, so in my case it's no pain no gain as my teeth seem to stain quite easily.
Bear in mind the strips are not good for your tooth enamel, so I couldn't recommend using them regularly, but every now and then using them with the tips above will not only keep your teeth whiter but also prevent pain and sensitivity. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Just Singles #3Dates3Mths - Challenge Three (the Final Challenge!)

Here we go, the third and final JustSingles 3 Dates 3 Months challenge! This post was meant to be up ages ago but life has got in the way a bit recently so please please forgive the lateness. If you haven't read about my previous challenges, you can find challenge two here and challenge one here, along with a bit more info about JustSingles.
For the third and final challenge I signed up to the JustSingles website, dipping my toe into internet dating for the first time,  and hoping that asking someone on a date online would prove much easier than in person (but at least I'd have a computer to hide behind if it all went wrong!). 

When I first signed up on JustSingles I wasn't sure what to expect, the only experience I'd had with something similar was an app on my phone which turned out to be less for dating and more for sleazy men to try and chat up girls from the other side of the country. Thankfully, it isn't anything like that- for a start the profile descriptions and photos are monitored and have to be approved before they're shown (thankfully! I'm still having nightmares about crotch shots from the men on that phone app!).
As well as their main site, JustSingles offer a range of lifestyle and location based sites, things like Sporty Singles, Ginger Singles and Doctors Singles. I went for their main site as I didn't really fit into any of the other categories, and I thought there might be a bit more choice! After writing a reasonably run of the mill 'About Me' (we'll forgot about my worry over whether the phrase 'bed-loving' made me sound sleepy or slutty), I chose some nice (but not toooo nice) photos, then had a search for people who lived close by and some fun with the 'wink' button. 

Sending out the first message to someone actually was actually scarier than I thought it'd be- in person you can always start with a simple one syllable "hi", but on the internet you feel pressured to come up with the most amazing couple of sentences of your life, that make you sound keen without being stalkerish. Of course there were a few people who didn't reply to my keen-but-not-stalkerish first messages, but I've always thought that being ignored is the nicest way of being rejected- you're left to imagine that they've just forgotten their password, or their internets been cut off, or they were viscously attacked by a savage dog and tragically lost their typing hand. 
Along with their many sites for different interests, Just Singles also offer a good search service so you can narrow down your results not just to age and location, but to things like hair length, height and interests.
Despite at first kicking myself for not having a car when I found that a lot of sexy looking men lived just outside my bus range, I found a lot of nice men who lived quite near. There was one guy in particular with that I bonded with over my dairy induced headaches and his lactose intolerance, which sounds like a really dull conversation but it actually felt really nice to make a connection with someone new over something small.

It was within the first couple of weeks after joining that I plucked up the courage to send a scary first message to someone who's profile I'd been eyeing up for the previous few days. His name was Darren, he was 6 ft, had blue eyes and liked football. I know we're in the middle of the World Cup at the moment, but I won't lie, I hate football. I don't think having different interests is a massive problem though, I like taxidermy but I don't bang on about stuffed birds all day.
Anyway, imagine my surprise when I actually got a reply back from the football loving beefcake! We exchanged messages for a little while, talking about our tastes in music, TV programmes, and super exciting things like what we had for lunch. One of the good things about messaging someone online is that you can take a little while to plan your replies. Not 'plan' in a manipulative way, but in a way that makes you able to keep a vaguely interesting conversation going with someone sexy without having to be off your tits on tequila. It wasn't long before we exchanged numbers and my phone was buzzing every few minutes with nice messages.
Once you've been chatting with someone for a while, asking them out becomes quite easy, and it's much less scary to ask someone out through a messaging service than trying to pounce on them in real life. At the tap of a thumb the message was gone and I'm not embarrassed to say I was checking my messages constantly after that. I read the reply with one eye closed, just in case, but thankfully he said yes!

I've always been slightly sceptical of internet dating, I'm not sure why as everyone with a profile is usually looking for the same thing, but it was much simpler and actually more fun than I thought. To be honest I always thought this challenge would be the successful one as there's bound to more choice and opportunity online, but I really never thought it would be this successful.
I only asked one person out on JustSingles, and I haven't been back on the site for weeks, so I don't think I need to spell it out that the first date went pretty well! After the previous two challenges where I didn't even manage to secure a time or place for a date, I think I've done rather well at the third challenge, and I'm interested to find out where that one scariest of first messages will take me from here!

This is a sponsored post in association with JustSingles

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Recent Favourites!

My last blog post feels like forever ago so in the absence of monthly favourites I thought I'd do a round up of the many beauty things that I've been loving recently (sorry if the photos are looking a little bit dodgy, my camera sensor has decided to go on strike so I've had to use my phone!).

Soigné Nail Polish in Chou-Fleur Violet* (£11)
I received this polish in this months Harper's Bazaar
Birchbox and I was so thrilled to see it because I absoltely love this colour. My whole polish collection is a ménage of bright pinks and purples so this one fits right in, and have you seen the packaging? It's very Chanel-esque and I don't think I've ever had a nail polish that's been packaged in anything more than just a bottle. Wear time is about average for this polish but its rare for me to find anything that lasts a long time on my flaky bendy nails. 
This month's Birchbox is one that I'd really recommend- there's a mini size Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish with muslin cloth (so perfect for travel/overnight stays if you already have a full size), a Philip Kingsley mini, and a certain well known product from Benefit among others, so I'd definitely pick up a subscription even if it's just for this month!

Revlon Colorstay Foundation for Normal/Dry skin in Buff (£12.49)
It took me forever to try this foundation, but since buying it I really haven't been wearing anything else. I much prefer the version for dry skin even though mine is super oily, and the staying power and coverage from one layer is unrivalled in any other foundation I've tried. 
I use shade Buff which oxidises a bit from the colour in the bottle and matches well when I'm lightly tanned, but I need to hit the bronzer when I've got a darker tan as the next shade up is a bit too pink for my skin. I like to apply Colorstay with a flat or angled top kabuki brush and then pat in where needed with a complexion sponge. 
The only thing that really gets my goat about this foundation is that Revlon really need to put a pump on the bottle- the dry skin version is very liquidy and it's so easy to pour out too much, while the oily skin version is so thick that you really have to bang it on something to get anything out!
Mac Pro Longwear Concealer NC20 (£15.50)
I'm not too keen on this concealer under my eyes as it makes me look a bit wrinkly before my time, but I really love it on the face for redness and blemishes. It lasts really well on the skin, doesn't look cakey, and I don't know if I can ever see myself actually finishing the bottle as you only need a tiny dot for each blemish. I also really like using a couple of pumps of this concealer mixed in with BB cream for a more natural looking base that still has good coverage.

Beauty UK Baked Blush in Halo (£3.99)
I first read about this blush in a post by Gemma at Miss Makeup Magpie (go follow, that blog is the shizz) and knew instantly that I had to have it! Not actually a blush, but a highlighter- It's a lovely champagne-with-a-touch-of-pink shade that sits really well on my skin tone and gives much more of a sheen than a glittery sparkle. 
The cardboard box packaging is very lightweight and does well to contain any fallout as swirling a brush across the marbled powder can kick up a bit of shimmery dust. I think this is actually the only highlighter I've used all month and it's taken pride of place among my affordable favourites!

W7 City Slicker Eye Makeup Remover* 140ml (£4.95)
If there's one thing that made me really want to crack open this bottle it's the colour of the liquid, I really love the bright blue shade! The colour isn't the main reason I love this bi-phase makeup remover though, it's more the fact that I can use just one cotton pad to remove not only several coats of waterproof mascara but also the makeup from my entire face. 
The City Slicker uses oils to break down and remove eye makeup pretty effortlessly, but even on the rest of my face it doesn't break me out, and after a cleanse over the sink my skin feels really smooth and soft. I'm so done with face wipes that are either not wet enough or too rough, and I'll definitely be purchasing another bottle when this one runs out.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish 100ml (£13.25)
I thought this hot cloth cleanser was all blogger hype, but my skin actually seems to really love it. I first tried the Cleanse and Polish as par of a Twitter gifting promotion but have since bought a full size tube and was also thrilled to see a mini in my Birchbox. 
Since starting use, my face has been smoother, less dry and I've generally had less breakouts (ignoring the one that erupted a couple of days ago). Rubbing cleanser onto dry skin took a bit of getting used to, but I really regret that I didn't try this sooner as it's now a firm staple in my skincare routine.

W7 Super Pout in Mady (£2.99)
Are you on the hunt for a gloss with a really weird shaped applicator? Well look no further, I've found it for you! I can't wholeheartedly say that a bent spoon shaped wand applicator makes application all that much quicker or easier, but I can say that this gloss has great pigmentation, genuinely makes my lips look bigger, and is really moisturising but non sticky. This milky brown-pink is a nice subtle nude for me, and I also have the shade Molly, a brighter pale pink, which I love in almost equal amounts. The tube says 'one swoop volume lips' and even though it might need more than one swoop, I can't disagree about the volume. 

Manhattan Intense Cheek and Lip Balm in First Class (Limited edition, sorry!)
Manhattan are a German highstreet brand and if you haven't checked them out you really should. Their Intense Effect Eyeshadow in Dusky Pink (which I annoyingly missed out of this post) makes a gorgeous cheek and eye highlighter, and they also have some lovely lip products. 
First Class is a medium to deep purple with pinky tones, and I'm thrilled to find a purple that I can really wear with confidence. This colour is striking but really wearable (although, in all honesty I haven't tried it on the cheeks, and probably wont). If it wasn't for the creaminess I would have thought that this was a lipstick rather than balm as it's so pigmented, but unfortunately doesn't last all that long on the lips so needs two layers with some blotting inbetween when applying. 

I didn't realise this product was limited edition when I included it in my favourites, but watch this video from Manhattan showcasing their Lollipop and Alpenrock collection, it will definitely cheer you up about not being able to get your hands on the balm!

Manhattan Long Lasting Gloss Glide in 56G (£3.99)
Generally I'm not a fan of sticky glosses, but when they promise me good pigmentation plus staying power I think I could learn to get along with them. If you're not a fan of banana scents you might not like this product, but for me it has the two things I really want in a lipgloss, plus its a lovely nudey pink colour!

HD Brows Eye & Brow Palette in Foxy (£25)

These powders are really pigmented and it was a bit of a learning curve when I ditched my previous palette in favour of HD Brows, but they make filling and defining the brows really quick and easy. I use the darkest brown on my brows and the black to line my eyes, and each is lovely and smooth with barely any fall out from the black. The other shades make lovely matte eye colours that blend easily and aren't chalky.HD Brows have recently redesigned their palettes but I don't think I'll be trying the new Foxy out soon as I've barely made a dent in the current pans and I can see them lasting well into next year.

Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara in Dark Brown (£4.99)
This doesn't have the most cementing hold of all the brow gels I've tried, but my brows are pretty unruly and this does an acceptable job of keeping them in place. What I really like is the tint, which isn't too much but really starts off the brow filling process so I feel like I need to spend less time going over with eyeshadow/powder. The colour is a tiny bit lighter than my brows but its very ashy so matches them well. 
I can't think of any other tinted brow gels from an affordable highstreet brand, so I think this really fills a gap in the market quite nicely.

Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tan Dark 100ml (£6.99)
If you read my review of the original 1 Hour Tan on LBQ from last year, you'll know that I love the formula and even though I've tried other tans I keep coming back to Cocoa Brown. The problem that I had with the original was that I'd need two coats to get my perfect colour, not a big problem but a bit of an inconvenience. In comes the Dark shade, in an easier to use bottle but with the same brilliant quick drying, moisturising and easily blendable formula. This one is darker than two coats of the original but needs only one hour on the skin, genius! My only gripe is that 100ml doesn't last me very long, so the bottles could really do with being a bit bigger!

Saleya Organic Argan Oil* (£14-£24)
I've been loving this oil over the last few months and my skin and hair have too- I use it for dry legs after shaving, to soften knees and elbows and prevent fake tan grabbing, and 2 drops on damp hair has really done wonders for my ends. I've said before that I can get quite straw-like ends after growing my hair out, but even though it's now down past boob length my ends are looking pretty smooth, they've got a bit of a shine and they're not too straw-like if I do say so myself. Plus, this bottle has lasted me months and months and I'm not even a third of the way through!

Surgical Spirit 500ml (~£3.50)
Honourable mention goes to this massive bottle of surgical spirit for saving my purse and also killing evil stray bacteriums at the same time. I was previously using No7 Brush Cleanser which I was pretty pleased with, but I went through it at an alarming rate (Revlon Colorstay is a bitch on my bristles) and I felt like it was leaving my brushes a little oily. I'd read a lot of recommendations for surgical spirit and I'm so glad I gave it a try. 
I picked this huge 500ml glass bottle up from my local pharmacy and it contains 95% alcohol. I feel like it moisturises my brushes just enough while the alcohol kills any bacteria and removes makeup with a gentle rub on a paper towel. Best bit? This Surgical spirit is £3.56 for 500ml compared to No7 Brush Cleanser which is £8 for 185ml. 
I honestly like the surgical spirit better for cleaning my brushes, it has a bit of an odd smell but it doesn't leave such a greasy residue, it cleans my brushes quicker, and also only has 4 ingredients. It's also used to disinfect hard surfaces so is good for acrylic drawers, makeup packaging and anything else that might be holding spot causing bacteria. It may not be the most exciting buy, but its definitely one of my best from the last few months!

Have you tried any of these products? What have you been loving over the last few months?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Shop the Jewellery Trend: Chunky Chains

From the catwalks to the highstreet, chunky chains have been trending for at least the last 5 years- it was only yesterday that I came across an article detailing how they'd be the 'next big thing' for A/W 09- and with S/S 14 already upon us the fashion is in no danger of dying down. Big metal links are currently in demand not only on the highstreet but in boutique fine jewellers, and I witnessed the sale of a solid gold chunky curb chain last week for an eye watering £4000. Not all of us (in fact probably not many of us) have the chance to drop that amount of cash on one item, and the pieces above have price tags that are a little bit more thrifty!There are so many ways to wear this trend- from necklaces and bracelets to even earrings in gold, silver, rose gold and gunmetal colours. Theres also the option to choose between smooth or textured links, and there's so many types of chain from curb to belcher to box to herringbone. New Look is particularly stocked up with metal chains at the moment, and a lot of styles are available in both silver and gold which means picking your favourite (or 3!) shouldn't be too difficult. 
If you're not sure how to style your new purchases, take a look at this Pinterest board for ideas on how to work them into your outfits. Knowing England I can guarantee that we'll be seeing bikinis and bling on the beaches as soon as the sun comes out!

1. Gold Textured Link Chain Bracelet £5.99 - New Look
2. Jules Smith Knight's Armor Chain Bib Necklace £32.33 - Neiman Marcus
3. Nakamol Draped Golden Multi-Rope Earrings £15.85 - Neiman Marcus
4. Open Filigree Hoop Earrings £44.95 - Love Jewellery
5. Bad Girl Cuff $13 - Princess P Jewelry
6. Premium Chain Stone Bracelet £15 - Topshop
7. Limited Mesh Chunky Chain Necklace £14.99 - New Look
8. Gold Layered Slinky Chain Necklace £7.99 - New Look
9. "Brooke-Lynn" Rose Gold Pave Chain Bracelet $78 - Princess P Jewelry
10. Miquella Atomic Necklace £199 - Cadenzza
11. Premium Multi Row Flower Necklace £22.50 - Topshop
12. Gold Square Chunky Chain Necklace £9.99 - New Look
13. Multi Crystals Decor Chain Earrings £5 - Rings and Tings

What do you think of the chunky chain jewellery trend, will you be rocking some metal this spring?