2014’s Favourite Products

The thoughts and emotions that come around this time of the year are so overwhelming – I’m often in a pensive, reflective mood and can’t help but look back to the past year’s regrets, triumphs and achievements. For me my year couldn’t be more bittersweet – while 2014 was my best year yet with it being the year I graduated, met life changing people, moved onto study for a master’s degree at my dream university, was featured in The Sunday Times Style and gave a presentation at an industry conference, 2014 was also the year I lost someone I loved very dearly to illness. But such is life, while we’re challenged in one aspect we find ourselves successful in others.

With a dissertation to complete, numerous essays, exams and a new job, blogging became less of a priority for me but I so desperately wanted to share my beauty discoveries throughout the year. However, when you’ve spent the entire day sitting at a desk writing a 4,000 word essay on the impact of political risks on foreign direct investment in the Middle East and North Africa the last thing you want to do is spend more time writing at a desk! Therefore here’s a little roundup of the products that got me through graduation, hours sat in front of the computer, job interviews and a few family weddings.

photo (3)Mavala Via Veneto* and Barry M Cappuccino – With the exception of a few nail polishes, Via Veneto and Cappuccino are all I’ve been wearing on my nails this year. They’re perfect for quick paint jobs when you’re on the go, and they give off that impeccably groomed and polish vibe. Cappuccino has also been a colour I’ve received constant compliments on, and someone even struck up a conversation with me on the bus to find out what I was wearing!

Estée Lauder Pure Colour Envy Palette* in Envious Orchid and Fiery Saffron – what I love about these palettes is how they truly encompass the whole ‘day to evening’ concept – I’ve used both palettes for simply going to a lecture and to weddings. You can create an office friendly eye and quickly smoke it up by applying the darker colours to your creaseNot to mention the sleek packaging makes it super easy to carry around in your handbag.

Clinique Aromatics in White* – The minute I got a whiff of this new fragrance from Clinique and I was reminded of the attar fragrances I’ve been used to since childhood. It’s a beautifully bold fragrance with notes including Sichuan pepper, rose, patchouli, benzoin and amber gris.

Fashion Fair Spicy Plum* – I recently had a consultation with Fashion Fair’s International Makeup Artist Delita Pintos at their counter in Debenhams Westfield White City, and she was determined to get me out of my comfort zone, and succeed she did. I’ve always gone for subtle, barely there lip colours but ever since Delita introduced this lipstick to me I’ll be expanding my collection of Fashion Fair lipsticks, starting with Bordeaux.

Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil – This oil has been the best thing for my skin this year. After finally clearing up my acne through healthy eating and exercising regularly Clarins’ Lotus Oil which contains rosemary, geranium, hazelnut oil and lotus extract has helped to maintain my skin, even when I’ve fallen off the healthy eating bandwagon (oops!).

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Toner* – I will forever extol the glowing, clear skin virtues of exfoliating toners and this toner is simply amazing. The annoying thing however is that this product isn’t sold separately as it comes with their Effaclar Anti-Blemish System which includes the Effaclar Duo [+] and Purifying Foaming Gel, the latter being a product I’m not very fond of.

Benefit POREfessional – Imagine my luck when I woke up on the day of my graduation to the biggest zit known to mankind – all I could think about was how I’d look in the photos that my family would look at for years to come. This primer helped to calm the redness down and smooth my pores out, but with it being the day where all of my hard work and efforts finally came to fruition my skin was the last thing on my mind!

New Year

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge – When it comes to foundation I’m a ‘just slap it on’ kinda girl, but this sponge has been a game changer. Product blends seamlessly into the skin, and 3 surfaces of the sponge allow you to cover blemishes with the precision tip and blend in a darker contour product with the flat edge.

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser* – As well as exfoliating toners, I do love a cleanser chock full of glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid. Before this cleanser from American brand Murad came into my life I’d use the Jan Marini Bioglycolic Cleanser, but it’s proving to be difficult to find but the Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser is no consolation prize because it’s just so good at brightening the skin as well as calming breakouts down.

Neutrogena Visibly Clear 2-in-1 Wash and Mask – While I love the previously mentioned cleanser, when I started off in my postgraduate studies forking £34 on a cleanser just wasn’t an option. Instead I’ve opted for this £3.79 Neutrogena cleanser that I’ve been using on and off for years. It’s effective at keeping breakouts at bay, but it’s also gentle. It doubles up as a face mask too which is helps to save money.

MUA Ever After Matte Palette – This year I started taking my ‘eyebrow game’ seriously. I know absolutely nothing about filling in brows, what products to use, techniques etc. so I turned to my sister blessed with impeccable brows. She introduced me to the £4 palette that is the MUA Ever After Palette and I’ve been hooked since. Although it’s not intended for brows, I still flip flop between Penny and Truffle depending on how intense or subtle I’d like my brows to look.

B. Even Oil Control Foundation

B Eeven Oil Control Foundation 2

After countless disappointing shopping trips over the years you develop some kind of filter to all drugstore foundation launches – I have only ever found a foundation that’s worked for my skin twice, and even then they weren’t the best match. Should I go on the quest to find an affordable foundation today, I’m willing to wager that 99% out there wouldn’t suit me, rather shocking considering that women of colour in the UK are a demographic with growing spending power, but a brand I’ve recently discovered falling into that 1% is a brand exclusive to Superdrug, B. with their new B. Even Oil Control Foundation* which comes at a steal for just £10.99 – tried and tested on 100 women of different ethnicities and skintones, B. has made sure to create a product that comes in an extended colour range, including Caramel my match, to suit a range of skintones from light to dark.

With shade range covered, what about the formula and finish of B. Even Oil Control? After watching celebrity makeup artist and B. ambassador, Cassie Lomas making over model Nada Adelle and following her tips, I have fallen in love. Its Moroccan argan kernal extract base is infused with skin loving ingredients like SPF 15, antioxidant vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, which attracts water from the atmosphere to the outermost layer of the skin and can hold up to a thousand times its weight in water providing 10 hour hydration, polyphenol rich fractions from the fruits of North American saw palmetto and South American sesame seeds thus feeding the skin and creates this beautiful fresh, glowing, medium to high coverage finish that isn’t too matte. What’s more, the foundation has been clinically proven to control oil while keeping the skin hydrated which is great news for those who steer clear of foundations that give the dreaded shiny face in photos.

The entire B. makeup and skincare range is suitable for vegans and carries the leaping bunny symbol of Cruelty Free International.

This is a sponsored post.

Estee Lauder Perfectionist Youth-Infusing Makeup

Estee Lauder Youth Infusing Makeup 1

Serum + foundation = a base with added skin benefits… a formula I’ve found to work for me when I combine Estée Lauder’s Double Wear and Advanced Night Repair serum and it seems that Estée Lauder have cottoned on and taken it that extra step further by creating the Perfectionist Youth-Infusing Makeup* infused with their Perfectionist Serum, a product designed to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. While I thankfully may not need help with reducing lines and wrinkles, I’ve been blown away with this foundation ever since its launch in September – it’s light, has a medium coverage, is a dream to apply as it blends into the skin seamlessly and gives the most beautiful natural glow and satin finish which is everything I look for in a foundation. It couldn’t be further from their Double Wear which has a tendency to look cakey if I’m a little heavy handed with my foundation brush because of its high, matte coverage whereas Perfectionist is easily buildable making it a great foundation to use on a day-to-day basis. With the exception of days when my skin is crying out for some coverage my usual go-to base is NARS’ Radiant Creamy Concealer and MAC’s Mineralize Skinfinish Natural but the Perfectionist foundation is all I’ve been wearing lately and it’s been making my skin look like… perfection.

L’Oreal Paris Collection Exclusive Pure Reds

Loreal Pure Reds 1If you’ve yet to find your perfect red lipstick we’ll blame it on the fact that there are 285 shades of red visibly different to the naked eye – there are just too many to choose from! In an attempt to filter out the noise and help with finding that all important signature red lip, L’Oreal Paris have launched their Collection Exclusive Pure Reds* which will be available across pharmacies from September 2014.

Collection Exclusive by Blake - Pure red lips for the most iconic of looks

Collection Exclusive by Julianne - Lips of a vermillion red from the most exquisite fabrics

Collection Exclusive by Liya - Theatrical red lips for an opera of intensity

Collection Exclusive by Eva - Unexpected urban chic brick red lips

To cover a spectrum of women, L’Oreal Paris have based four lipsticks on their faces, Liya KebedeEva Longoria, Blake Lively and Julianne Moore so you have a lipstick suited for those with olive tones to their skin, redheads, black women and blondes like Blake Lively. Interestingly enough, I quite like the Blake Lively lipstick which could be due to it having warm undertones whereas the one by Liya would complement cooler undertones; Liya‘s lipstick still is my favourite however, it’s a true red that would look absolutely beautiful against brown skin.

Loreal Pure Reds 2 Loreal Pure Reds 3

Onto the formula and feel of the lipsticks, I tend to shy away from mattes, namely MAC, as they can be quite drying. However I’m wearing Liya‘s shade while I type this up and it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a matte lipstick, rather the formula is quite hydrating for a matte which is down to the jojoba in the lipstick. Granted you’ve given your lips a good scrub with a toothbrush or whatever else you use, there’s no reason why this matte wouldn’t look great. Not to mention the lipstick packs a punch in pigment, so if the idea of a red lip makes you run for the covers you’ll need to shed that fear or follow Karim Rahman, makeup expert for L’Oreal Paris‘ advice, “for a very trendy blur effect, apply the colour with your finger by tapping from the heart of your lips towards the corners”.

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