Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Do It Yourself - Highlighter!

I've been fascinated with DIY beauty products ever since I started browsing the blogesphere - it's fun being directly involved in the making of something you want to use, and usually the finished product is alot less costly than if you were buying a ready-made product from a brand.

After reading up on bloggers that use eyeshadow directly onto their cheekbones for a highlight, I decided to elaborate and give making my own a try:

You Need:
  • Facial Lotion
  • A small container
  • Pearl/sparkly eyeshadow
  • A spoon
  • A primer (Not pictured)
Just three ingredients make up a super shimmery highlighter, however the primer is used to elongate the highlighter but I did not have a suitable one with me to use in this demonstration (I had attempted to use Benefit's POREfessional but the consistency wasn't compatable with the lotion), so be sure to use a liquid primer, not one with a thicker paste-like texture. I bought the small container in a pack of five for £2 and the lotion was less than £2 also. The most expensive products will be the primer and eyeshadow, but there are inexpensive brands if you need to buy a new shade, or you can use the last few bits of an old one. With the primer, you only need a tiny amount so you if you need to purchase some especially, you can just use it as a great new addition to your makeup kit after adding it into the highlighter!
Squirt some of the lotion into the small container, as you can see i've filled about 1/3 of the pot. However, you can really use however much you'd like, just ensure you have enough shadow to even it out. This would then be followed by a small squirt of your chosen primer and use the spoon (Or the spoon handle depending on the size of your pot!) to mix together thoroughly.
Using the back of the spoon, carefully mash the eyeshadow and tip the desired amount into the pot with the lotion and primer. Then mix. And I mean REALLY mix. I found that the eyeshadow tended to solidify and form small clumps within the mixture if it wasn't mixed quickly and vigorously.

As you can see, because of the chosen eyeshadow colour the finished product doesn't look a lot different than the lotion pictured at the beginning,  but there is a slight shine. I have included the half-used palette to show how much shadow I actually used - but it's really a case of adding more and mixing until you've found the right amount for you.

I applied it quite thick for you to visibly see the finished product, and as you can see it gives a light pearl shimmer that looks gorgeous when it catches the light. I have used it since and i've found it to be a great alternative for expensive products such as Benefit's 'High Beam', which comes with a hefty £18.50 price tag! It's great for people who enjoy experimenting and creating to find cheaper alternatives to high end products. The primer will ensure that the product is long lasting, and the facial lotion ensures that it doesn't dry out your skin.

The compact container means its easy to pop into my bag if I want to top up my glow, and overall i'm so happy with the way it turned out and how it effectively highlights my cheekbones and is a great addition to my everyday make-up routine!

Be sure to vote for Sophie Says for the NEXT Newcomer Blog Award at this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards HERE!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards - I've Been Shortlisted!

This is a quick video about the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards - how to enter, what it's all about, how I felt about being shortlisted and what it would mean to me if I won. Please take a look and click here to vote for Sophie Says.

My "Silhouette" Competition Entry

When public relations company Immediate PR announced a competition to re-create a celebrity hairstyle, I jumped at the chance to enter. I've never been a hair expert (I couldn't successfully put my hair into a ponytail without help until I was 17!) but I really wanted to try something new and be in with a chance of winning a designer handbag. 

I was really excited when I was emailed to say that I had qualified and was sent 3 amazing products to recreate a celebrity silhoutte from the Schwarzkopf Silhouette range:

  • Colour Brilliance Mousse
  • Colour Brilliance Hairspray
  • Colour Brilliance Extreme Gloss Spray
So without further ado, here's my entry:

I was inspired by this picture of Vanessa Hudgen, purely because i've been fascinated by fishtail braids, and i'll admit that this is the first time I have ever tried one. Like I said, I am really not great at hair, but I gave it my best shot.

I decided to use my sister as a model, purely because she has nicer hair and it's naturally wavy and has that boho look. As you can see the whole style is a lot looser than the picture of Vanessa Hudgens, but I wanted it to be a lot more relaxed and achieve that "Just threw this together" look.

I put the hair into a low side ponytail at the nape of the neck and fastened with a clear hairband.
I then split the hair into two parts, and took a part from the first part and crossed it over into part 2 - and continued back to part 1. It really wasn't difficult once you stop thinking about it and realise that you're just essentially making crosses. I ensured that I kept it loose and relaxed, shaking the braid as I went.

I then secured the end with another clear band, and wrapped a pearl bracelet around it as I really love Vanessa's quirky hair accessory! I then took some scissors and carefully cut the top clear elastic so the hair naturally swept over the shoulder into the braid. I then fastened stray hairs around the back with pins and sprayed with the Silhoutte Colour Brilliance Hairspray to secure the strays and the loose waves that I kept free at the front of the hair. When photographing I ended up pinning back one of the loose bits of hair, as I preferred just having one side loose. Lastly, I finished off the look with some Silhouette Color Brilliance Extreme Gloss Spray so her hair looked glossy and gorgeous.

So there you have it, I hope you like! These products definitely helped perfect the look, and although i'm a terrible hair stylist i'm extremely happy with it!

Be sure to vote for Sophie Says for the NEXT Newcomer Blog Award at this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards HERE!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

About Me: FAQ

Okay, so the title is a bit misleading as i'm not frequently asked these questions. Rarely Asked Questions would probably be a bit more appropriate. However, as part of my 'About Me' series, a few bits about me should really be included!

(Excuse the Instagram'd image, it's too early to be taking photos of me right now!)

Name: Sophie Elaine Turner.

Age: 20 - Although I look and act like i'm about 15.

Location: Currently London and then my hometown of Southampton on the weekends, but i'm usually in Bournemouth termtime. I live out of a suitcase.

Occupation: Well. I'm a full-time student studying Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University, but I work on the weekends at a bingo hall in my hometown to help fund my shopping habits! I'm also currently interning at The Times LUXX magazine in London, so I suppose you could say that's my occupation right now.

Why I started Sophie Says: I'm just at the straight of my career in journalism, and being enrolled in an intense course with equally ambitious people, you need to start finding your niche and start trying to figure out what sort of area of journalism you want to go into. We were encouraged on our first day to blog, but I think they assumed that we would all choose to blog on politics or hard-hitting news stories. However, I found that I wanted to just write about the things that I enjoyed, and because I was spending so much on fashion and beauty products anyway, why not write about it? And so Sophie Says was born.

Skintype: I have oily skin, which ironically I only discovered after I started wearing make-up when I was 17. I'm very pale, and prone to redness on my cheeks and nose, so I try to tone it down with matte foundation and powder, and shy away from anything that gives me a dewy finish. Being pale does make it difficult to find products that suit me, but read some of my reviews on general products for oily skin and how I tackle it here.

Hair: I have naturally mousy brown/dark blonde hair, and after years of dying it random colours (I've been blonde, black and purple!) i've lost my natural colour and i'm left with locks that resemble the colour of dirty dish-water. However, right now i'm a redhead. I use Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Colour in 'Fiery Head' to keep my hair bright every 5-6 weeks, and ensure that I use intense conditioners that focus on redheads and sulphate free shampoo.

Body: I have a naturally curvy figure, and vary in size because of my hips and thighs. I'm not going to lie, it is annoying not being a single size, but i'm learning what looks good on me! I try not to get too worked up over the size though - my mum gave me great advice about a year ago: If you don't like the size, rip out the label. (That's if your sure you aren't returning it, of course!)

My favourite stores: There's a big New Look in my town centre, so I would be lying if I didn't say I go there often when I don't have the cash, but usually I visit Topshop, H&M, Miss Selfridge, as well as Boohoo.com and Fabulous.

My favourite products: That is a hard one, because I try out so many, but my go-to products that I wear on a daily basis are my 'They're Real!' mascara, and definitely a good primer in general - my face doesn't feel right without it!

Financing my blog: "How can you afford all these products?!" This is actually my only FAQ, and it tends to be from friends and family more than readers. It definitely helps having a job to help fund the products I review, and although I do occasionally get things sent to me 99% of what I post about was purchased with my own money. I'm still learning how to budget, and me being so busy recently alongside working unpaid means that I haven't been able to try out as many new products. However, I am a student and I also work, and beauty is what I invest my money in as oppose to other peoples passions and interests. It's about finding a balance, and I do understand why there is an interest but it's my money and i'll spend it how I wish.

My advice to new bloggers: Don't expect your blog to be an overnight success. There are some blogs that attract more attention than others at first, but most of the time you just need to be patient and consistent and just continue doing what you're doing. My blog is still less than a year old, and I have a long way to go, but if you've seen some of the more popular blogs around they've been doing this for years. It's not a race, there's plenty of space in the blogesphere for you. You should be blogging because you love it, and if you get a bit of attention in the process that's great, but do it for you and the views will come.

Be sure to vote for Sophie Says for the NEXT Newcomer Blog Award at this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards HERE!

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Start Saving! My Favourite Fashion and Beauty Bargain Websites

Ever since I began this blog back in September, I have to admit that it's taken its toll on my bank balance. I'm not complaining in the slightest because there's nothing else I enjoy more than purchasing new products and reviewing them, but it does get quite difficult at times - especially now that i'm interning and only working part-time on weekends. So i've compiled a small list of my favourite websites that I use to snag fashion and beauty bargains, and hopefully you guys will save a few pennies too!

1. Buyapowa

I was introduced to Buyapowa through various twitter accounts, and was immediately sceptical due to the reduced prices on well-known brands (Your first thought is: "They have to be cheap dupes, right?"), but this has quickly become one of my favourite places to purchase beauty items.
Buyapowa is a site that bulk buys items (Not just beauty, but that is what features mostly) and then gives people the opportunity to purchase the items at a lower price - the actual price determining on how many people join in on then co-buy. Essentially, it is: The more people get in on it, the lower the price gets. Recently they have featured items from OPI, NARs, GHD, and Morrocan Oil - read my review here. The only problem is that there are limited items available to co-buy, but you can put in request for what you'd like to see featured, and even haver the opportunity to recommend the co-buy to others (The person who recommends the product to the most people gets the item for free!). This is perfect if you have your eye on a particular product, and you can save up to 50% off of the original retail price. It's so much fun to see the price drop, and I love browsing the items to see what I can save money on next!

2. Studentbeans

Studentbeans is a discount website aimed at students, if you didn't guess! It's packed full of special offers, freebies and discounts from practically every store and service imaginable. Gyms, restuarants, cinemas, shops and adventure days, but what I like the most is the beauty section that is jam-packed with offers of free samples and codes for discounts off of both full price and sale items. It's great to have a browse and try and snag some freebies, however I have found that some of them are outdated and you sort of have to sift through the rubbish to find a good one - but i've found discount codes for stores such as Topshop, The Body Shop and New Look, as well as samples from brands such as Maybelline.

3. Shop It To Me

This is a website that specialises in being an online personal shopper. I personally cannot stand the sales in certain highstreet stores (River Island, i'm sorry, but you need to sort it out!), so this website is perfect for me as you can be sent through via email a personalised list of sale items from your favourite stores. Ranging from designer to highstreet, you can complete a short questionnaire online which helps customise the search, meaning that you'll only get sent the brands that you love. Obviously I can't shop on a daily basis, so i've chosen to have my Shop It To Me email  sent once a week, but you can choose to have an email sent daily or monthly! It's great being able to sift through the rubbish and shop the sales from the comfort of your own home, without having to scroll through endless pages and navigate through various websites - it's all there and waiting.

I know there's probably plenty more, but these three are my most used. I'm always on the hunt for more, so feel free to comment below with your favourite bargain websites!

On a more personal note, i've recently had my bedroom turned upside down and been bought a new bed for an early 21st birthday present - hence why I haven't filmed my Cosmopolitan Blog Awards video like I said I would on twitter. Now it's back to normal, i've decided that i'm going to start filming some vlogs, to add a bit of versatility to my blog :) I have no idea what i'm going to talk about yet, so if anyone has any suggestions please feel free to contact me!

P.S.: I've been asked repeatadly to give a shout-out to Mattie, who actually suffered injuries whilst putting my bed together for me yesterday, and is also a frequent reader. So there you go, HI! :)

Be sure to vote for Sophie Says for the NEXT Newcomer Blog Award at this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards HERE!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Review: Avon 'Super Extend Extreme' Mascara

Oh, how I love a good freebie. And if it so happens to be a makeup product, well that just makes it even better.

 Free with this months Marie Claire magazine is one of three mascaras from popular cosmetics brand, Avon. I will admit, i'd always thought Avon was for older people, purely because i've never really seen it advertised and i'd never heard of anyone my age buying from their local Avon representative - but I am now aware that that is simply not the case.
Avon have been providing a wide range of beauty products to over 100 countries for over 125 years (How many brands can say that?), including skincare, nail polish, beauty tools, and make-up. With these credentials, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on one of the mascaras to see what all the fuss was about!

There were three different mascaras available as a free gift alongside the magazine: Super Shock Max, Super Curlicious and my chosen mascara, Super Extend Extreme. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of the packaging before I threw it away, but it illustrated that each mascara had a different purpose: Either thickening, curling or lengthening and I chose lengthening as my eyelashes are naturally tiny.

 Can I just ask, why would someone choose to make the packaging of their product luminous yellow? It might be just me, but I do think that makes it look slightly cheap. However, as each mascara is worth up to £10 I had high hopes for it.

 As you can see, the wand makes the application very messy. It's really big and bulky, and even though the thin neck of the tube removes most of the excess product from the wand, it's not enough to stop the product clumping on your lashes.
I will admit that my top lashes do look slightly longer, I have really small lashes so it does take quite a lot to elongate them, but it hasn't done much to thicken then. It smudged slightly throughout the day, but overall my lashes stayed looking quite reasonable (After cleaning up the mascara around my eyes!).

Overall, I wouldn't have paid the original price of £10 (Although at the moment this particular mascara is on special offer for £3.99, which sounds more like it!). The results weren't anything to get excited about, but I will continue using it whenever I want to keep my makeup simple and natural. I do think this is a great freebie though, and it is worth the £3.70 you would usually be paying for the magazine alone, so it's worthwhile purchasing. I do hope Avon have better quality products online, because at the moment i'm not really won over.

You can purchase Avon 'Super Extend Extreme' and any other of the free mascaras on the Avon website here, or free with August's Marie Claire magazine at your local supermarket or newsagents for £3.70.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

About Me: What's In My Bag

As i'm hoping for your votes for this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, i've decided that you guys need to know a bit more about me as a blogger and as a person. I always have a fear that my personality doesn't really shine through with my writing, which I would think would be a common fear for any blogger that doesn't regularly post videos. 

So i've decided to do a series of posts entitled 'About Me' where it will give you an insight into my life. I thought i'd ease in slowly by doing an ever-popular 'What's In My Bag' post. I've said before that us bloggers are nosey, and this applies to what we carry around and what products make it into our bags, so here's what's in mine: 

My bag right now is the Bernie from the Mischa Barton handbag collection. It's absolutely gorgeous and quite possibly my all-time favourite bag. Shockingly enough, at approximately £65 (I bought iit almost two years ago so I can't remember exactly how much I spent) this is the most expensive bag I own. The colour is 'blush', which is basically a beige and it also came in black. It's not this season so I don't know where it would be available to buy, but it's amazing because it stores everything. With two enormous compartments separated by a zip pocket, I use this to carry everything - it's like the bag from Mary Poppins.

My makeup bag is called 'The Romiley' and it was purchased in Jack Wills Covent Garden for £19. I love the signiture pink and navy stripes, and the fact that it was 100% oilcloth so it would be easy to wipe clean was what sold it for me. It's currently on sale for £14, and can be bought online here.

My purse is one of my absolute favourite things ever. It was a christmas present from my boyfriend, and I can't get over how gorgeous it is. I can't imagine wanting another purse, and will continue to use it until it literally falls apart it my hands. I don't exactly know what the actual design is of the purse is, but it's a Zip Wallet from Cath Kidston, and was purchased for £26 (It can be bought here).

As you can see, it has space for 6 cards (Although I tend to double up!), a zip pocket for change, and space either side for notes etc. I don't actually have a driving licence so I always carry around my passport - that's really bad I know. I carry around a lot of cards, the compartment behind my bank card etc. is full of loyalty cards, with the one opposite carrying any notes I have. It's really spacious, and when it's flat and I have only notes in it with no passport it can also carry my iPhone.

This is usually what I carry around with me in my bag, either stored in my makeup bag or in the big zip compartment. I always carry around antibacterial hand gel (Germs are gross, especially on the underground) and a pressed powder that doubles as a concealer (I use Benefit's "Hello Flawless"). I also carry a top up of my lip colour (Today it's Benefit's Coralista gloss and Barry M nude lipstick), eyeliner (Bourjois Khol & Contour) and mascara (Benefit's They're Real). I ensure that I prep my skin and buy products that are long lasting so I don't need to reapply everything halfway through the day.

Everything else is pretty boring, but i'll show you anyway:

My diary goes everywhere with me, I think I got it from WHSmith for a couple of pounds, and I use it to document everything in my life. Along with that, I carry around a packet of paracetamol and Pro-Plus (just incase!), as well as neccessities like tissues and plasters (well in this case, plaster.) and most importantly - my headphones. I feel lost without them, I hate walking around without blasting music from my iPod. I usually carry around a bottle of perfume and my keys too, but for some reason I forgot to put them in the photograph. At the moment i'm carrying Ghost Sweetheart, which is so sweet I can't get enough of it. As well as that, I carry around my lunch and an umbrella, how interesting!

So there you go, I don't have the most interesting of things in my bag, but to be fair who does? Just a little insight into the things I need with me on a daily basis.

Are there any things that you need to with you everyday?

Be sure to vote for Sophie Says for the NEXT Newcomer Blog Award at this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards HERE!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Review: Revlon 'Just Bitten Kissable' Balm Stain in 'Cherish Devotion'

Lip stains and crayons are all the rage this summer, with practically every mainstream cosmetic brand releasing a variation of the popular product.

Beginning with the Chubby Stick from Clinique, these crayons ensure easy application, storage and come in many long-lasting, moisturising colours.
I've been a fan of Revlon for a while now, however it was their gorgeous Colourburst lip butters that made them one of my favourite brands for lip products. I'd heard many great reviews on their 'Just Bitten Lipstain + Balm' and this gave me the confidence to test their newest product: Just Bitten Kissable Lip Stain - a combination between the already existed lipstain product, and a lip crayon.

This new product comes in 12 shades, ranging from glamourous red and deep plum, to sheer coral and pastel pink. There really is a colour for everyone, which made me excited that I could purchase more shades for different occasions if I was satisfied by the product. 

As suggested, the stick resembles a crayon, and has a retractable crayon that can be adjusted using the silver end of the stick. As you can see I opted for a pink (Shocker, I know!) but I decided to change it up a little and go for a brighter shade that can be worn on a night out.

The tip is slightly darker because it's just been used, but as you can see the actual crayon is quite thick, and as it is retractable there is certainly a lot of product. This product is designed as a fusion of a ultra-moisturising balm and a vibrant lip colour, and I found that it was so creamy it literally glided onto my lips. As you can see, the swatch on the bottom of the crayon is true to the shade, which is sometimes a bit of a difficult task for Revlon (I'm still moaning about the Peach Parfait swatches!).

I love that it illiminates the extra step of adding a balm ontop of a lip colour, as the last lip stain by Revlon was designed. Combination products are on the rise, people want maximum results with minimum effort and reduced application time (take BB creams for an example!) and this definitely ticks all of those boxes. Being designed as a crayon makes it a perfect product for beginners, allowing you to essentially draw on your colour. Here's what it looked like on:

With flash:

 It's a gorgeously vibrant pink, that feels like a balm but looks like a lipstick. As it's considered a stain I was expecting it to last just as long as other lip stains, but as it is infused with a balm it doesn't last quite as long but it definitely took a few hours before needing to reapply, however it does come off when eating and drinking etc.

Overall I am so impressed with this product. It fits snuggly into my handbag, easy to apply and has a great end result. The colours are definitely a lot less sheer than I expected from a product that is combined with a balm, making it great to carry around in a purse on a night out, and will provide your lips with plenty of moisture throughout wear. I can't wait to get my hands on some more gorgeous shades!

You can purchase Revlon 'Just Bitten Kissable' Balm Stain at your local Boots or Superdrug or online here for a reasonable £7.99.

Be sure to vote for Sophie Says for the NEXT Newcomer Blog Award at this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards HERE!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Review: Moroccan Oil Treatment

Hair oils have become increasingly popular lately, with different brands popping out of nowhere swearing that their hair oil achieves the best results! Hair oils are perfect for repairing damaged hair, leaving them well nourished and insanely glossy. But don't let the name fool you, hair 'oil' doesn't leave your scalp and hair greasy. However many different hair oils i've discovered recently, there's always been one that i've been itching to try - Moroccan Oil.

Nicknamed "The Holy Grail of haircare products", The Moroccan Oil Treatment is the first of many products in the Moroccanoil range, who specialise in products that are used by countless proffesionals and salons across the world. The original Moroccan Oil Treatment was the product that really got the company to where it is today, with its popularity spreading through word of mouth.
The treatment contains argan oil, used for years by tribes in Morocco. It has many properties, such as being a solution for scars, stretch-marks and of course, dry, damaged or frizzy hair.
It promises to enhance managability, reduce drying time and repairs damaged hair by restoring lost proteins that are vital in keeping your hair strong. It contains vitamins that enhance the shine, antioxidants for protection from heat damage. It's also suitable for all hair types! Argan oil has since been used in other hair oils, but this is the original and recommended as being the best.

I've wanted to try this product for a long time, but could never justify the price tag, but when I saw it featured on buyapowa.com (A website where the more people that want to purchase the item, the lower the price gets!) I knew this would be the only time I could justify buying it.

The bottle comes in a generous size of 100ml, and comes with a pump for easy dispensing. The directions for use are to use a small amount for each application (I use 2 pumps) so the amount is quite generous.

The consistency is thick and oily - obviously, and it smells really warm and luxurious.
To apply, wash hair as normal and towel dry until it's just damp. Then, use a small amount of product (A little goes a long way, you don't want to use too much product or it won't absorb it all and your hair will look greasy!) through your hair, starting midway down and through to the ends. Then either blow-dry or leave to dry naturally. The treatment can also be used on the ends of dry hair to tame stray hairs and frizz.

I couldn't wait to try this product, frankly just to see what all the fuss was about. My verdict:
Oh. My. God. My hair has never felt so smooth and styling was just so easy! The drying time was signifially reduced as promised, and my hair felt really like and silky. The only thing I found is that I applied a little too much in my fringe, so I had to counteract it with some dry shampoo to ensure that my fringe didn't look greasy - so trust me when I say to use sparingly. It absorbs into the hair quickly and my hair felt so sleek and strong.

The only problem is the price. A 100ml bottle retails retails at £30.45, which I think we can all agree its quite a lot for a hair treatment. However, I managed to purchase mine for £25 via buyapowa.com and there are other sites that sell them at slightly reduced prices. However, this is an expensive product but in my opinion the benefits make it completely worth the money. I'm definitely going to use sparingly to ensure it lasts as long as possible as I don't want to be without it - when I packed it away for London and then released I didn't have it after I showered that night, I was actually disappointed; that's saying something. It really is, in my opinion, "The Holy Grail of hair products".

You can purchase The Moroccan Oil Treatment at professional salons nationwide or online at an official retailer. Click here to visit the Moroccan Oil website and browse their other great products.

Be sure to vote for Sophie Says for the NEXT Newcomer Blog Award at this years Cosmopolitan Blog Awards HERE!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Review: L'Oreal Paris Hair Expertise Everpure Shampoo

Have you ever wondered why your freshly dyed hair colour can’t stop running when you’re in the shower or bath? That's because you’re using the wrong products.

My hair is regularly dyed red, and as you are probably aware, it’s one of those shades that fade really quickly, so I need to go to lengths to ensure that my hair stays as vibrant as possible for as long as it can. Therefore, I must ensure that I only use products that are designed specifically for coloured hair (Or red hair, if possible).  One of the key ingredients in regular shampoos is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS for short), which is notoriously known for stripping colour from the hair – hence the water turning a lovely shade of brown, red – or whatever colour your hair should be! It's used in over 90% of shampoo products, and is used to ensure the product lathers quickly and produces lots of bubbles. As well as stripping the hair of essential oils, it can also result in skin irritation, hair follicle damage and dandruff - it is essentially a chemical. And a nasty one at that.

Bearing all this in mind, L'Oreal Paris have recently released a line of sulphate-free cleansing haircare products, designed to protect coloured hair, and provide moisture to dry hair damaged through regular hair colouring. I, obviously, could not wait to get my hands on a bottle. This range has been created using a new care system for colour damaged hair, developed after decades of carefully conducted research – and this is the outcome!

There are nine different products in the Loreal Paris Hair Expertise Everpure range (Wow, that’s a mouthful!), but these are the three basics, available in both shampoo and conditioner:

-       Care & Moisture
-       Care & Smoothing
-       Care & Volume

There is also a selection of heat protection sprays and hair masks to indulge in!
I decided to opt for the care & moisture shampoo (I wanted to test it out before purchasing the conditioner aswell), as I’m a sucker for anything that gives me glossy, super-soft locks.
Each product has essential rosemary and juniper botanical oils in it, which have been added to ‘energise the senses’, as well as giving it a unique and vibrant fragrance.

I love the sleek, metallic bottle as I think it compliments the purety of the formula and the fact that it includes a revolutionary new colour care system, and it most definitely stands out on the shelf amoungst other Loreal products.
It comes in a general 250ml sized bottle, and comes clearly labelled highlighting the ingredients that ensure that the shampoo protects colour weakened hair.

 Just to clarify, I am aware that this product is swatched quite heavily, I got a bit distracted! I was really excited to try this product, and it did not disappoint! The only way I can describe the scent, is that it smells like a hair salon. That may sound odd, but the products that hairdressers use on you in professional salons have a certain professional/industrial scent to them, and this is no exception.  It is also designed to generate a high-foaming lather, meaning that you only need a small amount during application – so 250ml really goes a long way!
As soon as I applied it in the shower, I noticed one thing … the dye wasn’t running! Usually my shower looks like the shower scene from Psycho, but the water ran clear and my hair stayed just as vibrant!
Afterwards my hair felt soft, looked glossy and generally well looked after. My hair is really thin, so i'm really selectve with the products I use as i'm afraid they'll be too heavy and cause my hair to look greasy, but this was just enough to keep it gorgeously smooth and regain that 'fresh-out-of-the-salon' feel.

I cannot recommend this product enough for anyone who has coloured hair. For someone that has to colour their hair once a month due to it fading and becoming dull, this actually elongates the colour and re-dying wasn’t needed for another two weeks afterwards – I’m not so great at maths, but it’s pretty obvious that it saves you money! The shampoo retails for £5.99, which is excellent value for what it provides. 
It's not just about dying your hair a pretty colour and waiting for your roots to need re-doing, it's about the appropriate aftercare - and this new range is perfect.

You can purchase any of the products in the L'Oreal Paris Hair Expertise Everpure range at your local chemist, Boots, Superdrug or supermarket.

**On a more personal note, Sophie-Says has been shortlisted for the 'Newcomer Blog Award' sponsered by Next - part of this years Cosmopolitan Awards. There will be updates as soon as the voting goes live, but thank you so much!**

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Benefit's 'Stay Don't Stray' vs. Urban Decay's 'Primer Potion'

If you're going to indulge on a new item for your makeup bag, be sure that it's a primer. A slightly dull purchase, I know, but trust me.

I may have said this before, but i'll say it again - think of a primer as a base coat for your face. That sounds wierd, but a good base coat ensures that nail polish effectively sticks to the nail, fills in any lines for a smoother finish and helps protect the skin. This applies to primers; it fills in fine lines to give the appearances of smoother skin, it eliminates the need for frequent touch-ups, and allows makeup to glide onto your face with ease (which essentially means you use less product - meaning it's also quite cost effective!). However, there aren't just primers for foundation, primers for eye makeup are equally as important, ensuring that your shadow has that 'freshly applied' look right until removal at the end of the day.

Primers aren't the most glamorous of products, but they should be a staple in every girls makeup kit.
Therefore, I have chosen to compare two best-selling eyeshadow primers to see what one comes out on top:

"Stay Don't Stray"
This top-seller from my personal favourite brand Benefit doubles as an eyeshadow AND concealer primer. It promises to keep concealers from creasing, and shadows stay "vibrant and true". It already has a celebrity following (Such as Pretty Little Liars' Ashley Benson) and comes in a neutral shade that adapts to every skin tone.

The primer comes in a 10ml tube with a custom airless pump. It's a compact size meaning it would fit easily in your bag, with a removable cap.

What's good about it...
It holds my makeup for the entire day. Also, the idea that it doubles up as a concealer primer makes it seem like you're getting more for your money. I'm usually not a fan of multi-use products as I feel that they concentrate more on being a mediocre product for all instead of a great product for a single use, but this is great.

What's bad about it...
The pump! It claims to be custom made to ensure that only a tiny amount is distributed, and the instructions on the Benefit website say that the pump needs to be pushed 'gently', however this is simply not an option. The pump is quite stiff, and it distributes far too much product meaning that a lot of it is wasted. The diagram on the packaging illustrates that only 6 tiny dots are needed, and the amount that is distributed is enough for maybe 3 or 4 applications! It is also priced at a whopping £19.50, which I believe is a bit overpriced as you're wasting over half of the product.

Primer Potion
Awarded a 'Highly Commended' in the 2012 Beauty Club Awards, Urban Decay's primer potion is a well known product in the beauty industry and is used by makeup artists and beauty lovers alike. Promising that eyeshadow will remain crease-free, the primer comes in a neutral nude that's slightly lighter than 'Stay Don't Stray'.

The primer that I have is actually travel sized, and was included as a bonus product with their legendary Naked palette, meaning that the size is much smaller and it has a wand for easy application that isn't featured on the original product. The original product is 11ml, and comes in a squeezy tube with a super-thin needle nose tip to ensure that you don't waste any of the product.

What's good about it..
Right from application at 8am up until I removed my makeup at 8pm my eyeshadow stayed put. Towards the end of the day I start getting a bit sleepy and carelessly rub my eyes, and when everything else smudges my eyeshadow stays strong. I also like the applicator wand on the travel sized bottle as it allows the product to be distributed sparingly and evenly without having to use your fingertips (I have a thing about using my hands to apply products - it's almost OCD!), and the thin nozzle applicator on the original product is great for avoiding wastage. I also like that it is priced at £14.50, which I believe is a reasonable price for the results it delivers.

What's bad about it...
Honestly, there isn't lot I can say about this product. The only negative I would say is that it woud really have an edge over other primers if the wand was kept instead of the nozzle, as it was a surprise that the packaging and applicator was completely different on both sizes.

The Verdict
They both do the job well, however due to distribution and the actual cost of the product the Urban Decay 'Primer Potion' is the favourite. Benefit have perfected the product, but the packaging needs a bit of work, where as you get more for your money with the Primer Potion - not just by using less due to effective dispensing of the product, but you get 1ml more primer for £5 less.

Which one is your favourite? Or is there another eyeshadow primer that you think beats them both?

July Obsession: Skulls and Crosses

I know what you must be thinking, that i've slipped into some dark depression and become obsessed with death and other equally morbid subjects! However, contrary to it being 'summer' in Britain, it seem's that everyone has gone all dark, gloomy and skull & cross mad! I don't really agree with using a religious symbol as a fashion statement, so I am quite cautious with what I wear. I've always been a massive fan of grey and black (Even though my mother say's that grey is the most unflattering colour on girls, which I completely disagree on!) and have had my eye on a pair of biker boots and a leather jacket, so these accessories are perfect. Here are my favourites:

Silver/Crystal Twin Skull Bangle - £160, Alexander McQueen
(Image - alexandermcqueen.co.uk)
*Yes, I am aware that i'm featuring a designer, but i've become quite obsessed with designer recently,  and there is a Topshop duplicate that comes at a fraction of the price! Approx £10*

3 Skull Knuckle Duster - £7.50, Freedom at Topshop
(Image - topshop.com)
This is a personal favourite of mine, purely because it's one of my newest purchases. Strangly, the skulls actually look quite cute, and although i'm not a fan of the mixed metal it's a great accessory!

Truly Madly Deeply Animal Cross Tee - £28, Urban Outfitters
(Image - fashionlista.com)
I managed to get my hands on this t-shirt after many months of dabbling whether or not I could justify the splurge. It's been featured on celebs such as Jessie J, Lourdes and X Factor's Amelia Lily, and comes in both white and black - And it's leopard print, amazing.

Minister Tan Suede Cross Boots - £36, Topshop
(Image - Topshop.com) 
At last, some colour! (Although they do also come in black) These are effortlessly casual and the gold detail spruses up an otherwise plain pair of shoes.

Black Skull Print Dress - £25, Yumi
(Image - yumidirect.co.uk)
This is the perfect summer dress, with an edge - a great compromise if you don't want to go too girly this season! It also comes in white, but black is definitely my favourite.

So here you are! Just a few bits that have caught my eye recently, and it seems that more and more designers and high-street brands seem to be channeling their inner goth- and I love it! Have you bought any skull or cross detailed items recently?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Review: Benefit's 'CORALista' Gloss!

I think it's pretty obvious to whoever reads my blog on a regular basis (If not, just take a look at the 'Brands' list on the right nav bar!) that i'm a bit of a Benefit junkie, so this post should have been predicted.

Box blushes are some of Benefit's most iconic products, so there's no doubt that Benefit lovers around the globe jumped for joy when they heard that the brand were releasing six lipglosses to compliment each of their best selling blushes - me being one of them!

If you're one of the few that haven't yet seen the Benefit powders, the six that the Benefit team have chosen to expand into complimentry glosses are: Sugarbomb, Bella BambaCORALista, Hoola, Dandelion and Dallas. Each a star in it's own right, these highly anticipated glosses hit the shelves last week, and when I finally managed to get hold of one on Sunday, some had already sold out completely!

First of all, what I don't understand is why they've chosen to include a gloss for Hoola - as it's primarily a bronzer and not a blush. I also don't understand why they have chosen to use Dallas as one of their 'best-selling' as it isn't in comparison to their Hervana - however, it could be argued that Hervana and Dandelion are quite similar in colouring, so that could be the reason. However, I do have four of the six boxes that they've chosen to create a gloss for, so I can't really complain!

This is how Benefit describe the glosses:
  • Dandelion - Soft pearly pink
  • Dallas - Dusty rose
  • Sugarbomb - Shimmering pinky nude
  • CORALista - Sheer coral
  • Bella Bamba - Sheer bright watermelon
  • Hoola - Shimmering golden nude

Don't they all sound amazing? They are advertised on the Benefit website as a selection of delicious ice-creams, making them all look so irresistible - it's a shame the glosses aren't edible!
 I had originally decided to purchase the Dandelion gloss first, however they were sold out and I was desperate to review it this week, so I went for the CORALista- in hindsight it was actually a better choice as corals are great for the summer season:

Quite obviously, they've kept to the same design as the corresponding boxes (please excuse my shabby blush box, i've had it for a while!) and I love that the design continues on the actual packaging, it allows the personality and individual flair of the gloss come through. The tube is translucent which is always ideal to be able to see how much product you are using, and eliminates the surprise that you've run out just when you need it the most, giving you plenty of time to replenish!

The glosses come in soft tubes with a 'custom-designed' tip for easy application. Although there isn't a lot of difference from other squeezy tube tips it does ease the application process, allowing it to glide on smoothly and luxuriously, relating to the 'ultra plush' description to the product.

Both the blush and gloss are swatched quite heavily as they are both designed to be sheer, but I wanted to show you just how well they compliment each other. There is no doubt that these two products are paired together perfectly and as Benefit say's, it's so easy to pull together your look in minutes by using these two products together. The lip gloss itself is almost in a league of its own purely because it's not sticky. It's a common fact amongst women that we tend to shy away from glosses as they just don't mix with long hair and wind, but with these glosses there's no problem! Obviously it is still a gloss so it won't stay on for a long period of time if you're eating, drinking, kissing etc., but I found that I could go two hours before having to apply it again - not too bad! It's a gorgeously smooth silky formula, which adds just the right amount of colour for that sunkissed day-time look. However, you could always apply it over lipstick to strengthen the shade.

Benefit products are generally quite pricey, but the outstanding quality really does make it worth it. I can't say that i'll go out tomorrow and buy all six, as they are £13.50 each! They're great for people that are regular users of the Benefit box powders, as the catch is that to be able to fully appreciate the product you must also own the box powders, which are £23.50 each (Read my review for Hoola here, and Hervana here!), so it is quite steep. I'm definitely impressed with the quality of the product and I will be purchasing others - just maybe i'll have to wait until my next student loan comes through!

As an added bonus, Benefit gave me a free sample of their bestselling Primer - Porefessional. I could go into this in more detail, but that's for another review! But I love the handy compact size and the 7.5ml has lasted quite a long time! These are available with every Benefit purchase, so if they don't offer - ask!

Click here to visit the Benefit website, and here to view the full range of Benefit glosses.