My Summer Skin Go-To: Garnier Miracle Skin Cream | Product Review

I've said it before, and I'll probably say it again; I am a sucker for a gimmick. I love it when a product makes bold claims, and nine times out of ten, the marketing ploy works, and I make an impulse purchase. I'm basically any advertising exec's dream consumer.
Naturally, then, when I spotted reviews of Garnier's latest 'miracle skin cream', I found myself grabbing a tube from the shelves at my local Boots on my latest shopping trip, eager to see for myself how much of a 'miracle' this cream could possibly be.
I don't have much experience with Garnier's products, generally, aside from their Micellar Water (review here), which I love, and the price is a little more than I'd generally pay for this kind of product, but the cream is a lightly tinted moisturiser (think Origins' VitaZing, on the high street), which I convince myself I'll use all the time during the summer months, instead of foundation. Plus, I adore anti-ageing products, generally, so I take the £12.99 plunge.
I was vaguely horrified when I first applied the moisturiser to my skin, I must admit; it looked so orange...but, in the time it took me to reach for a face wipe, the product had had a chance to settle, and the results were, well, pretty impressive, actually. I'm not a fan of 'dewy' finishes, and Garnier's 'Miracle Cream' is far more subtle than that; it really does look like your natural skin, just slightly smoother, and with a bit of a natural glow. It's lightweight, and would be perfect for the warmer months, and can be used in place of foundation (I've been using it with just a slick of concealer for a couple of weeks, now).
In fact, the only downside I can see, at all, is that it's not particularly long-wearing, and does go a little patchy at the end of a long day. Not ideal, but then, if you're not spending a good 8 hours in your university library every day, like me, it's hardly a huge problem.

Overall?  I'd definitely recommend this for anyone looking for a light coverage base for the summer, it's very light on the skin. Not great for anyone with serious imperfections, though, or those of us who need a good 12+ hour base.
Garnier Miracle Skin Cream is available from Boots stores nationwide, or on their website, for an RRP of £12.99.
What's your favourite spring/summer base? Do you fall into the trap of 'gimmicky' products?
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Schwarzkopf Live Colour XXL in 'Real Red' | Product Review [Before & After!]

When it comes to my hair colour, I have complete commitment issues. Since my early teen years, I have had black hair (not good), blonde highlights (even worse), brown hair (which I got bored with), red highlights (which I was too broke to maintain), ombre hair (here), and auburn (here). In fact, the only colour I hadn't tried (but always wanted to), was red.
That all changed on a recent trip to Boots, when I somehow went in to pick up some of Nice N' Easy's 'Root Touch Up', and came out instead with Schwartkopf's Live Color XXL in 'Real Red'. Oops.

'Real Red' is probably one of the most intense reds in the range, and I have to confess to being completely in love with not only the shade, but the formula itself. Unlike a lot of dyes I've used, Live Color XXL left no residue on my hair - no greasy film, no foul smell - just a sleek, shiny, finish, and a scent that reminds me vaguely of my old 'Timotei' shampoo (does anyone remember that? Does it even exist any more?).
The one downside, however, is that I found it wasn't as intense as I'd have liked it, on first application, but of course, the pillar-box red I had in my head would've been pretty much impossible, without bleach, so this is probably just due to my unrealistic expectations.
Overall? I am seriously impressed with the Live Color XXL range, and would go as far as to say it's my favourite formula for a hairdye (which is pretty impressive, considering the sheer number of brands I've used, over the years). I'd really recommend 'Real Red', in particular, to anyone who's been wanting to try being a 'red head' for a while, and hasn't quite taken the plunge.
Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL in 'Real Red' is available from Boots & Superdrug stores nationwide for an RRP of £5.49, but is currently available on the Boots website for £4.
Have you taken any hair-related risks lately?

Lush 'Ultrabland' Cleanser | Review

lush cosmetics ultrabland cleanser in a tester pot
One of my very good friends has recently developed a bit of a love (read: obsession!) for Lush. I know, who can blame her, right? Naturally, her recent foray into one of my teenage self's favourite brands has sort of renewed my love for their products, and recently, I've been scoping out some of the 'must-haves' I've been reading about on the Blogosphere for the past couple of years. Obviously the 'Ultrabland' facial cleanser was one of the first product samples I picked up, and I'm so pleased I did.
lush cosmetics ultrabland cleanser in a tester pot, with the lid open; the cleanser itself looks green in the pot
Ultrabland is a lot like cold cream; you simply apply it to your face in the evenings, massaging gently, and then remove it with either a cotton pad or a dry flannel, before applying your evening moisturiser. I will admit, the smell isn't necessarily the most appealing (it's not unpleasant, but the beeswax definitely overpowers the scent of the other ingredients). It also feels very lightly exfoliating as it's applied, which was a pleasant surprise.
I will admit, I was a little concerned about 'Ultrabland' when I first started using it; it leaves a fairly heavy residue on your skin, even when wiped off (although I will admit, it seemed to pick up a lot of the residue from my make up that my Micellar Water (review here) hadn't quite managed to cleanse), but it hasn't caused a breakout on my relatively sensitive and acne-prone skin, so far, so I think it really would be fine for all skin types.
My skin also feels much softer in the morning after I've used 'Ultrabland', and I've actually had quite a few compliments on my skin since having incorporated it into my routine!

Overall? Despite a few reservations, a fortnight's use is all it's taken to convince me to purchase the full-size product, and I'd recommend it for people with all skin types, but especially those of us who suffer from dry skin - it's also great for acne scarring, and mine has become far less noticeable since I started using it!
Lush 'Ultrabland' Facial Cleanser is available from Lush stores nationwide, or from their website, for an RRP of £6.95 (for the 45g pot).
What are your favourite Lush products? I'm on the look-out for the next one to try, and would love recommendations!
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Sleek Face Contour Kit Duo | Product Review

There has been a lot of buzz around the word 'contouring' in the beauty industry over the past few years, and for good reason; done correctly, just a few sweeps of bronzer and highlighter can create cheekbones out of nothing, make your nose seem narrower, brighten your eyes, and even elongate your face. Whatever your beauty hang-up is, contouring can probably help.
However, for the better part of 2013, I was struggling to find the products that worked for me; a lot of the tutorials I found both online and on YouTube suggested using a concealer a couple of shades lighter than your skintone in place of highlight - not ideal when you already use the palest concealer from most brands - and a skin powder a few shades darker instead of bronzer, which just made my face feel cake-y. Not the best of starts.
That's where the Sleek Face Contour Kit Duo came in (yes, it's the miracle product I mentioned on Instagram a few weeks ago); available in three shades (light, medium and dark), it comprises of a lightweight bronzer/highlighter combination, with the 'light' kit being perfect for even my fair skin. The powders are both ultra-blendable (I use my Real Techniques contour brush to get the smoothest finish), and give a very subtle contour, which can then be built up, depending on your personal preference.
My favourite thing about the kit, however, would have to be the little information leaflet supplied within the box, which shows (and instructs) you on how to achieve the perfect contour for various areas of the face - perfect for beginners!
Honestly, I can't recommend this product enough, particularly if you've been struggling to find the right products to contour for your skin tone - this really takes the stress out of it, and for such an affordable price! 

Have you tried contouring, yet? What are your favourite products?
The Sleek Face Contour Kit Duo is available from Boots stores, and on the Boots website, with an RRP of £6.49.
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