10 Best Beauty Buys of 2013 | Beauty Favourites

10 Best Beauty Buys of 2013; l'oreal micellar water, maybelline fit me concealer, carmex mint gloss, rimmel scandeleyes eyeliner, urban decay naked pallette, real techniques buffing brush, real techniques face brush, barry m textured royal nail paint, rimmel lipstick, body shop mattifying primer, la roche posay efaclar duo, lying on a bed
It's incredible, how much can change in a year, and the beauty industry is no exception; 2013 saw the launch of a new breed of lip butters and stains in the form of Revlon's ColourBurst Lip Butters and Rimmel's Apocalips, another Naked palette (my Naked 3 review and some looks with the palette coming soon!), an explosion of textured nail polishes in the shape of Ciate's 'Chalkboard nails' and Barry M's 'Gelly' offerings, and a saturation of at-home hair dyes, namely L'Oreal's 'Wild Ombres' line and Bleach London's bleach and toner range, and it's been a pretty amazing time to be involved in blogging about the world of beauty, even if all the product releases have made choosing my favourite products for the year even more difficult than usual.
10 Best Beauty Buys of 2013; l'oreal micellar water, carmex mint gloss, la roche posay effaclar duo, lying on a bed
L-R: L'Oréal Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Solution; Carmex Mint Moisturising Lip Balm; La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo.

L'Oréal Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Solution: Up until recently, Bioderma Sensibo H20 was my go-to make up remover, but L'Oréal's offering has quickly blown it out of the water (no pun intended); not only does one cotton pad's worth of the solution remove all traces of foundation and concealer, but simply wiping your eyes gently rids your eyes of eyeliner, mascara and eyeshadow quickly and painlessly - even for those of us with seriously sensitive eyes!
L'Oréal Paris Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Solution is available for £4.99 (currently on special offer for £3.33) at Boots.

Carmex Mint Moisturising Lip Balm: Winter is the worst time of year for my lips; they so often get dry, and applying lipstick can be a bit of a nightmare, but Carmex's lip balms are my absolute saviour (so much so that I have several around my home, just in case I can't find one). There are several different scents, but the mint version is my favourite, as it leaves your lips tingling, and I feel they look slightly plumper, as a result.
Carmex Mint Moisturising Lip Balm is available for £2.69 from Boots.

 La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: This is one of the products I credit to clearing up my 'problem skin' (full review here); it's a little pricey, but mine has lasted well over a year, and it really is a 'holy grail' product.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo is available for £13 from Boots.
10 Best Beauty Buys of 2013; maybelline fit me concealer, real techniques buffing brush, real techniques face brush, body shop mattifying primer, lying on a bed
L-R: Maybelline 'Fit Me' Concealer; The Body Shop 'Matte It' Primer; Real Techniques Buffing Brush and Contour Brush.

Maybelline 'Fit Me' Concealer: My absolute favourite concealer; medium-to-full coverage, and in a vast variety of shades (perfect for even my pale complexion). You can also buy matching foundation, face powder, and blusher to suit your complexion, once you know which shade is best matched to your skin tone, within the 'Fit Me' range. The full review, featuring both the concealer and foundation, is here.
Maybelline 'Fit Me' Concealer is available from Boots for £5.99.

The Body Shop 'Matte It' Primer: I have very dry skin, naturally, and winter does not help, which means I often have to overload on moisturiser just to keep it healthy. However, heavy moisturisers and foundation often don't mix well, and can leave my skin a little...shiny. I've tried various face powders to combat this, but nothing worked - until I stumbled across a review of The Body Shop's 'Matte It' primer, and I haven't looked back. It's incredibly light, but there's an immediately visible reaction on your skin as soon as you apply it; one which stays in place all day, so that I rarely even need face powder, any more, making my make up look far more natural.
The Body Shop 'Matte It' Primer is available from The Body Shop for £12.

Real Techniques Buffing & Contour Brushes: Although these two brushes are only available as part of the Real Techniques Core Collection, it's a completely worthwhile investment, as far as I'm concerned. The buffing brush is an incredible tool for creating a flawless base, without a cakey effect, and the contour brush blends both bronzer and highlighter seamlessly. The other two brushes in the set are pretty handy, don't get me wrong, but these are the stand-alone highlights, as far as I'm concerned.
The Real Techniques Core Collection is available for £21.99 from Boots.
L-R: Barry M Textured Nail Paint in 'Lady'; Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette; Rimmel London ScandalEyes Micro Eyeliner; Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick in 'Coral Britannia'.
L-R: Barry M Textured Nail Paint in 'Lady'; Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette; Rimmel London ScandalEyes Micro Eyeliner; Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick in 'Coral Britannia'.

Barry M 'Royal Glitter' Nail Paint in 'Lady': Hands down, my favourite nail polish of the year. It's a snowy, glittery white, with a gorgeous frosted texture, and it's absolutely stunning.

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette:  My favourite of the Naked palettes, so far; it's far easier to travel with than the other, larger, palettes, and comes in shades that work on both pale, and darker, skintones. It's also a cheaper alternative to the full-sized palettes, if you're worried about making the full investment for a larger palette. 
Urban Decay's Naked Basics palette is available from Debenhams and House of Fraser stores, as well as House of Fraser online, for £20.

Rimmel London ScandalEyes Micro Eyeliner: I've seen a lot of mixed reviews on the two ScandalEyes eyeliners, and whilst I have no experience of the 'Thick and Thin' liner, the Precision Micro liner is one of my favourite eyeliners, ever. With an ultra-fine tip, it's great for maneuvering and creating winged lines, as well as creating more subtle looks. It will dry out faster when stored somewhere too warm, but then, most good eyeliners would. I have had no issues with smudging or rubbing, even on a night out, and the price point is pretty impressive, too.
Rimmel London ScandalEyes Micro Eyeliner is available from Boots, for £3.49.

Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick in 'Coral Britannia': Anyone who's been following my blog for a while will know I have been in constant search of a good coral lipstick (finding one when you're as pale as I am is no easy feat), and I finally found one in the latest additions to the 'Moisture Renew' line, which were already my favourite formula of lipsticks. The bottom line is that the Moisture Renew lipsticks are rich, creamy, long-lasting, and pretty vibrant, to boot, and this shade is absolutely gorgeous.
Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick is available from Boots for £6.49 (but is currently on offer for £4.49).
Can you believe 2013 is almost over? Personally, this year seemed to fly by, for me - and although there were some incredible highlights, I'm definitely ready for 2014.
What are your must-have products of 2013? 
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Red Pepper and Risotto | Low-Calorie Recipe

red pepper, onion, and risotto rice in a pan, being stirred by a red spatula
Personally, I don't think there's much better to come home to on a cold, dreary evening than the promise of a warm comfort meal, and for me, the cheesy, creamy prospect of an incredibly filling risotto fits the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, some of the more 'traditional' recipes that have been floating around my family for decades are a little too rich, to enjoy often, so, as per usual, I took it upon myself to find a lighter alternative that I could enjoy as often as possible.
risotto rice being weighed out in a square bowl on a salter scale
Risotto isn't a dish I'd recommend for any impatient cooks, and it's the kind of meal you really have to take some time to get right, but that's one of the reasons I think I enjoy making it so much - although most of the time when I'm at university or working, I'm a bit of a convenience cook with pretty plain tastes (I'm quite happy to live on vegetable couscous most of the time), I love being able to take my time over a dish, too, and this is definitely one of those meals.
red pepper and white onion chopped next to each other on a chopping boardbroth in a pot, bubbling
As far as risottos go, this one's pretty simple, actually, and leaves lots of room for variation; it all starts with some vegetable stock (I make mine from cubes, but you're more than welcome to put me to shame and use fresh!), some diced pepper and onion, and a couple of servings of Arborio rice (please, please, please don't try this with regular rice; it might be perfectly edible, but it's certainly not going to be enjoyable).
onion and red pepper being sauteed in a pan
Cook the pepper and onion (as well as any other veg you feel like throwing into the mix) through - I like to add a dash of chilli and paprika to give the vegetables a bit of warmth, and the fact that it gives the pepper such a gorgeous colour certainly helps. Add the Arborio rice, and remember: this is the easy bit, so enjoy it while it lasts.
red pepper, onion, and risotto rice being immersed in broth in a large panred pepper, onion, and arborio rice with a residue of broth in a pan, being stirred
Because soon enough, you're ready for the stirring. Now, there are a number of techniques for adding your stock to the rice, but I always abide by the same rule - adding a cup of the stock at a time, and allowing the rice to absorb the entire amount before even thinking about adding another. This particular method is a bit of a commitment - it certainly takes longer than a few other recipes I've seen, but it's probably the only reason my risotto somehow manages to come out edible every time, so I stick to it! This stage can take anywhere between 20-40 minutes, depending on how you like the texture of your risotto, but I like mine fairly al dente and it generally takes me about half an hour of constant stirring, pouring and tasting to get it to a standard I'm happy with; once you've done this, it's a simple case of adding your cheese of choice, and you're good to go!
low calorie red pepper risotto on a plate  
Perfect risotto, every time.
Low-Calorie Red Pepper Risotto (Serves 2):
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 150g Arborio rice
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 80g cheese (I use Weightwatchers' low-fat cheddar, but any good 'melting' cheese should work)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp salt (I use low-sodium salt, but you're free to omit this!)
Have your stock simmering gently on the stove before you do anything else - it's vital that it stays as warm as possible whilst you're preparing the other ingredients!
  1. Lightly oil a large pan (I use Fry Light 'better than butter' spray); whilst waiting for the oil to heat in the pan, coarsely dice both the bell pepper and onion. Throw them both into the hot oil alongside the paprika, chilli and salt, and allow them to cook through slightly - about 4 minutes should be fine.
  2. Add the Arborio rice to the sizzling pepper and onion mix, thoroughly combining them over the heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Using a measuring cup (a small mug will suffice if you don't have one), pour a cupful of the vegetable stock into the Arborio and vegetable mixture, so that it's just covered by the liquid. Stir until the water is nearly completely absorbed, then add a second cup of broth. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked through, which should take about 30 - 40 minutes. You may not use all of the stock, so don't panic!
  4. When you're happy with the rice's texture, remove it from the heat and stir in your cheese, mixing continuously until it melts entirely into the risotto, then dish up ASAP - it's best steaming hot!
Calories: 394 per portion.
Don't forget to let me know if you try out the recipe!
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