Girl With Makeup


ARK Skincare

ARK Skincare Age Prepare

While I'd definitely say I have a 'less is more' approach to skincare these days there's always room at the inn for new additions, should they work for me. For the past month I've been trying out some pieces from Ark Skincare from their Age Prepare range which is specifically designed for skin between the teen stage and early 30s; that is, skin that is at its peak but which still needs protection to keep it in tip top condition.

So, I received the Age Prepare Discovery Collection* which contains four 30ml travel sizes of the staples of any good skincare routine: a cleanser,  an exfoliator, a mask and a moisturiser. Get these right and you're on the road to happy skin. So how did these particular four fare? For me it's three hits and one miss, not too shabby I don't think. 

Starting with the not-so-good, the Age Prepare Skin Vitality Moisturiser is on the miss list only because - and as is the case with the majority of moisturisers for me - it's just not moisturising enough. I don't have the skin type that can skimp on hydration, I need something that's pretty intense to get my skin feeling normal and give me a good base to work on for my foundation. It does contain  lots of ingredients which sound like it would make it a dry-skinned person's dream - like lots of vitamins and Omega 9 - but for dry skin it's a no-go. Oily and normal skins would probably be good for it but it's just not right for my skin type.

Now we can get a bit more positive with an all-round thumbs up for the rest of the products. The Age Prepare Skin Clear Cleanser is a gel cleanser - which I love to use on a morning - and it's soap-free and designed to balance out oily and dry areas. Now, I don't have any oily areas and this is still very gentle on my dry skin. It's nothing outstanding but I don't need my morning cleanse to perform any miracles, all I need is something that gently cleanses my skin and it does the job perfectly well.

I'm definitely more of a fan of chemical exfoliation these days but I'm certainly not averse to a bit of physical exfoliation now and again. Sometimes you just want to feel the scrub, y'know? The Age Prepare Skin Refining Exfoliator is made up of Loofah which does the scrubbing (I had no idea Loofah was an actual plant, I thought it was just the name of the thing that scrubs your back. Just me?), Bentonite Beads (this is clay - still learning) to remove dead skin cells and clear pores and Margosa Leaf Extract which is antibacterial and helps prevent blemishes. The grainy bits are held in a cream and thankfully it's not at all harsh, instead it just leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth. I've been using this a couple of times a week which is just enough and it's been making a nice change from my usual chemical exfoliators. Sometimes it's good to go a bit old school.

Finally is the Age Prepare Skin Purifying Masque which is your usual clay mask that doesn't leave my skin crying out for the moisturiser too much. I don't like it quite as much as my favourite clay mask from Una Brennan which works really well on my dry skin but I like it leaps ahead of blogger's favourite mask from Origins which is far, far too strong for my skin. It's a good 'does what it says on the tin' clay mask.

With these four products you've got the basic foundations for a good, solid skincare routine. I wouldn't say any of them are particularly groundbreaking but they don't claim to be - they do their job and they do it well but it's at a cost as they don't come in cheap. The cleanser comes in at £22 for 200ml and the exfoliator the most expensive at £28 for 75ml - not exactly affordable on the old pursestrings - although the Discovery Collection* set I have costs £28 for four 30mls which might be the slightly more logical option for a first try.
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MAC Spice and the Revival of the 90s Lip

MAC Spice Peach Blossom

I'm not ashamed to admit that Kylie Jenner was the inspiration behind digging out a lip pencil that screams 90s: MAC Spice. I'm well aware of the fact I'll never have overly plump lips and I'm well aware of the fact that the average person cannot pull off the whole OTT outlined lip look but we can all take a bit of inspiration from it, right? Right.

Let me start by saying I've never liked MAC Spice. It's an extremely 90s warm browny-orange colour  and that is a shade I stay well, well away from... until it's half ten at night and I'm eyeing it up because, well, if I can't pretend to have Kylie Jenner lips when no one's around when can I? I jest, kind of. My version is a lot more subtle and toned down. I outline my lips with Spice and take it ever, ever so slightly over my natural lip line, as in a millimetre over. Like I said, subtlety is key here. I then start filling and blending it into my lips - this is important as you really don't want to be able to see just a ring of liner around your lips, after all it's 90s inspired and not a throwback. At this point if it was left as is it would look fairly ridiculous; a warm toned lip pencil is basically horrific on me. The magic happens when I take my usual pinky-nudes - MAC Peach Blossom is my pick - and apply as normal. The result is an amped-up version of my usual pinky-nude lips; a little bit more defined, a little bit more plump but definitely not a 90s throwback. 

Who knew I would ever be voluntarily wearing MAC Spice on a nearly daily basis? Not me, but I'm glad I've found a use for it and I guess it's not as bad as I thought. It's definitely too much faff for a trip to Tesco but I've been enjoying wearing it for work and it'll definitely be my 'night out' choice of lip from now on. Who said nudes had to be totally boring?
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Bronzer, Highlighter and Me

Bronzer and me, we haven't always got along. I think it's that matte look they give to the skin that I've never been much a fan of, and the fact that I just love blusher too much. Highlighter on the other hand, well, that's a whole different story. As a dry skin sufferer (yes, suffer, damn my lizard skin) the more glowing and dewy I can make my skin look the better and highlighter is one of the best products to achieve that  - along with heaps of moisturiser, a good cream blush and zero powder.

Regular readers will know that my discovery of The Body Shop Honey Bronzer as recently as this year was the product to completely change my opinion on them. Very quickly they stopped being employed only on evening occasions and became a daily staple. There's really nothing like the swoosh of a bronzer-laden brush onto the face to bring a hell'uva lot of glow, warmth and dimension. It took me a long time to find my perfect colour and formula but the Honey Bronzer in 02 Fair Matte is definitely it; not dark or unnatural looking on my pale skin and has a silky smooth formula that picks up and deposits just the right amount of product. 

Since the discovery of the above I thought I was sorted on the bronzer front, that was until I kept hearing so much about Soap & Glory Solar Powder that I could no longer ignore the 'you need this' cries. How can I ignore such a bold statement? I bought it, used it, loved it from the first go and reckon it's on par with the Honey Bronzer on favourite-levels. Solar Powder is one side matte bronzer, one side a lightly shimmering shade with a bit more depth to it than your standard highlighter - kind of like a bronzer/highlighter hybrid. Mix the two together and you're left with a beautifully glowing and bronzed complexion. Like the Honey Bronzer the formula of Solar Powder is just so good; pigmented but not loose or powdery and again, it just manages to deposit the perfect amount of product and blends out so well. Believe the hype on this one.

The most recent bronze and highlight product from Bourjois named the Delice de Poudre Duo I bought partly because I'd heard the bronze side could be used as a contour and I partly because I just had to see how it compared to Solar Powder. To be totally honest, it kind of failed on both accounts. Firstly a good contour it is not; it's much too warm toned for that purpose and it's got sparkly bits in there. That's not to say it doesn't make a good bronzer, of course, and the highlight side has a pink iridescence to it that's quite unusual and very pretty. Still, compared to S&G this doesn't quite hit the mark for me with a formula that's just not as good and packaging that doesn't allow for particularly easy brush access to boot.

And here we have my most recent purchase, the Mary Lou Manizer from theBalm. Yep, that one that everyone bangs on about. When I finally got hold of it it wasn't exactly what I was expecting; it's more golden, more pigmented and a lot more shimmery (but not glittery). It's definitely one that would look amazing worn on a nighttime ocassion but I thought screw that, I've wanted it for too long to only use it in darkness. I use my MAC 224 and with the lightest hand get a tiny bit on my brush and very lightly sweep it across my cheekbones. The result is highlighted but not OTT Edward Cullen cheekbones and it makes a really nice change from my usual highlighter of choice from Jemma Kidd.

It's fair to say me and bronzer have had a complete turn around in our relationship and it's now something I use near enough everyday, and highlighter the same although I've always loved that stuff. It's an extra step in the routine but it's so worth it to take a flat looking complexion and make it warm, bronzed and glowing.
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REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial
REN's latest skincare release, the Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial has to be one of the most exciting launches of late, or it was for me at least. Any skincare product with the worlds 'facial' and '1 minute' in its title is bound to get you more than a little giddy at the prospect of spa-like results in the same length of time it takes to wash your face. After using it for well over a month now I think it's finally time to share my thoughts on the super speedy complexion perker upper.

On the very first application two things surprised me: 1. the product is pale green/blue in colour and 2. it feels strange but in a good way. When it's first applied onto dry skin is when it feels most strange; it's slightly gritty and feels almost silicone-y as it's so light and silky smooth (apart from the gritty bits, obv). Once it's all massaged in is when you add water to activate the vitamin C, massage again which makes all the gritty bits seem to melt away then leave for one minute to do it's thing. Rinse off and you're done. Doddle.

The main point of the product is that it contains water-activated vitamin C (the second ingredient is ascorbic acid) to reenergise, revitalise and all that good stuff. It's supposed to leave skin smoothed, toned and glowing, reduce imperfections and 'banish urban grey' - whatever that means.  What I find is that it leaves my skin baby soft and feeling very refreshed but still nice and calm which is why I have no qualms with using it on a morning right before I go and put my makeup on.

If you want an all-round face-boosting product (I hesitate to call it a mask when it's unlike any mask I've used before - even REN describe it as a treatment) that takes, ok, maybe a little more than a minute then this might be for you. £32 for 75ml ain't cheap but for refreshed, boosted skin in a flash it might just be worth the pennies.
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August Favourites

August Favourites

August saw me completing my first makeup job and with that brought lots of panic buying of things I thought I needed but in reality didn't really end up using. It's all good though because a lot of them have wormed their way into my own collection and I'm definitely not complaining about that.

The very eagle-eyed among you might spot the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream and remember that I actually included this in a Disappointing Products post back in January. Well I need to eat my words because I take it all back. I still stand by the fact that £24 is a ridiculous price for a moisturiser but nevertheless it is very good at its job. Back when it was in my disappointing products post I said that it wasn't nearly moisturising enough for my skin but now, well... now it is so I can only assume that my skin has become a lot less dry during the summer months. The formula is incredibly light and only a small amount is needed to give my skin the hydration it needs. This is said to be a makeup artist staple and I can see why; I myself used it on every person whose makeup I done for the wedding and it worked perfectly on every single one.

Who doesn't get a bit giddy over some new MAC purchases? The two above were just a couple of the aforementioned panic-induced buys that instead ended up in my personal makeup stash. Strobe Cream is something I've wanted for a long time and the 30ml size was slightly less wince-inducing at £10 if still a bit of a rip off. I apply it on top of my moisturiser and it gives the most healthy, luminous and slightly iridescent glow. I imagine this would be amazing on flawless skin that doesn't need any foundation on top of it; sadly that's not me so I'll stick to using it under and on top of my base.

Speaking of foundations, since buying MAC Studio Sculpt I've all but ditched my super lightweight BB creams and tinted moisturisers in favour of something a bit more traditional. Still I can't quite bring myself to slap a thick foundation straight onto my face so I've been using a dampened Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge which really sheers everything out while still giving me just enough coverage. Studio Sculpt is a gel-based foundation which is really good for dry skinned gals (that would be me) and using it the 'normal' way with a regular buffing brush it feels very creamy on the skin and gives medium coverage. I have the shade NC20 and it's definitely on the yellow side of things but I've been using my Revlon Skinlights in Bare Light which works brilliantly to make things less Simpson and more skintone-like.

Last but not least is my newest mascara discovery which comes from one of my favourite drugstore brands Seventeen. The formula of Falsifeye HD is perfect from the get-go; lengthening, non-clumpy and most importantly of all it holds a curl really well (this last one is always my benchmark of a good mascara). It does have a tendency to smudge onto my brow bone but I can forgive it because it's wonderful in every other way. 

And that rounds up my favourites of the month of August. We're into September now and already I'm sporting a dark nail polish for the first time in a long time - Nails Inc Saville Row to be precise. Now it's just a matter of time before I'm whipping out the berry lipsticks and featuring them in a favourites post.
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