Best of the Decade: Beauty and Skincare

…and all the products I’m taking into the next
Best of the Decade: Beauty and Skincare - The Cardiff Cwtch

Tell you what, I couldn’t quite get my head around how long a decade is or what that the passage of that chunk of time actually feels like until I sat down to write this post. Just looking at the contents of my makeup bag now compared to what they looked like ten years ago really drummed home just how much time has passed, and how much my habits have changed during it. How much I’ve changed! Or haven’t, in some case. You know me, I rarely dish out blog posts about beauty and skincare for the very simple reason that I don’t really shake up my stash all that often; I’d make for a very boring beauty blogger because I stick with the same tried and true products year in, year out – which may be the case now, but it definitely wasn’t ten years ago.

At the start of the decade I was 24 and had just moved to London with my then boyfriend, now husband. I was still clinging desperately on to my long (very split-ended) hair, had finally surfaced out of those horrendous teen acne years, and – seeing as I was finally in a steady job – found that I had a little bit more money to finally dip my toes into high end beauty rather than just cheap out down the Number 17 aisle (sorry Boots!). The problem was, I had absolutely no clue what was right for my skin or my hair – and as for makeup? Well, let’s just say that my forays into that were experimental at best. When I think about how much I spent on poorly-thought out beauty purchases during those ten years, I honestly want to weep. I crammed the tiny bathroom cupboard in my tiny London flat full of products that I very rarely repurchased or even finished. Yeesh.

So, heading into the next decade the biggest lesson I’m taking with me is that I really don’t need a lot of products. I have my favourites that work, and I’ll stick with them until they don’t work. Some of those favourites are high end, and some are drug store and that’s absolutely fine with me – the truth is that there are some products I feel that I need to or am willing to spend a little bit more on, and then there are some that I can totally cheap out on and then enjoy more takeaways as a result. 🙂

…Oh, and I need to drink more water. Lots of water.

Best Makeup Products of the decade - The Cardiff Cwtch

Makeup

The biggest change when it comes to slap over the past ten years is that I’ve gone from a massive tub of makeup, to one tiny makeup bag. It’s brilliant! Streamlining my kit means no more rummaging first thing in the morning, and less waste. It does also mean that I’m incredibly selective now about which products make it into that kit – and I’m willing to spend a little bit more on the ones I can’t live without like foundation, eyeliner, lipstick and eye shadow. I don’t tend to do a lot with my face these days – I go with pretty much the same look every day (dewy base and contour, eye shadow, winged liner, mascara, eyebrows, done!) and so I’ve managed to really streamline my makeup bag – especially over the past couple of years.

IT Cosmetics CC Cream

I could never seem to make up my mind when it came to foundations. In 2010 I’d just stepped into my twenties and out of my late teen acne phase and was very nervous about picking the right foundation for my skin. I tried so many – Benefit’s You Rebel (sadly, no longer with us – RIP) was my go-to for a while (I LOVED the scent of it, but its coverage was weak sauce), as was Bobbi Brown’s BB Cream – until Bourjois introduced their Healthy Mix Foundation. It was cheap, it smelled great and worked like magic on my sensitive, slightly red skin. I still love it, and still tend to use it on days where I don’t feel like I need a full face of makeup. But there’s a tragic end to this tale because in case you haven’t heard, Bourjois are actually pulling out of the UK market which seems absolutely crazy; it’s been my and many others’ favourite drugstore brand for a long, long time (I remember saving up to buy one their mascaras when I was 13!). Luckily for me, earlier this year I finally got my hands on the IT Cosmetics CC Cream and it’s a winner; the fair shade is a brilliant colour match to my skin, it evens out any redness, and the included Factor 50 SPF is definitely not to be sniffed at. Good shiz.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner

If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about my face in the past ten years (other than the hairline wrinkles) it’s my winged liner – but it’s absolutely mad to think that I started the decade in a totally monogamous relationship with Bourjois’ Ultra Black Clubbing Liner. I’m amazed, they actually still make it! It was cheap, it survived a day of work with only minor fading (and plenty a night out) and even though you needed a very steady hand to apply it using that ultra fine, tiny brush, as far as I was concerned, there was no other liner in my life.

Then one day the romance just dried up, for no other reason than I had little bit more money in my pocket and fancied a change. I think it may have ultimately been something to do with the brush; I realised that it was taking too long to layer up in the morning before work, which meant that it could take a bit longer to dry (if I had a quid for all the mornings that poorly-timed sneeze ruined the whole job…). So I decided to give felt liners a go and – after hearing good things about Stila’s Stay All Day Liner– I haven’t used anything else since. It’s the one (for now, at least) – the formula’s great; it’s ultra black, sticks all day (it can even hold up through a Marley and Me tear test finale) and dries quickly. The fine felt tip not only minimizes the amount of product being used (every pen I’ve had seems to last forever), but it also holds its shape for months (no limp tips here 😉 ) – which is so important when it comes to getting a good, clean flick.

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base

No surprises here; I started off the decade utterly clueless when it came to primers. I was also very skeptical of layering up products under my makeup having spent most of the previous decade suffering from severe acne. But, I did dabble and try a few when my skin stopped being a nightmare. I was a big fan of Benefit’s Dr Feelgood for a while (and it’s still bashing around, blimey!) – but I really didn’t enjoy the pad applicator. Then – tipped off by a friend with beautiful skin – I moved on to Clarins’ Beauty Flash Balm for a few years… until I decided – sadly – that it was far too small a tube, for far too much hard-earned cash.

I quit primers for a while after that, and then earlier this year I went to a Beauty Masterclass with Bobbi Brown and tried their Vitamin Enriched Face Base. Oh boy, this stuff’s good. A very pricey pot of perfection, but perfection none the less – and a small pea sized blob goes a very long way. It’s got a light, grapefruit scent and a moose-like texture that smooths onto the skin like a dream. Packed with Vitamin C and Shea Butter, it’s moisturizing but soaks in quickly and creates the perfect, smooth and healthy base. I absolutely love it, and my skin seems to love it too – it always seems to be better behaved when I treat it to a splodge of the stuff.

Best skincare products of the decade - The Cardiff Cwtch

Skincare

My current skincare list is a total mash-up of the best of both high-end and drug-store beauty – a mash-up of my former and current self. As I’ve already mentioned I suffered terribly with acne during my teens (so much so that I was put on the pill to sort it), and even though I started off the last decade with clear skin, I was definitely still stuck in a “I’m scared to put too much on my face and clog my pores!” mindset. Now firmly into my thirties, I think I’ve got a pretty good arsenal of products that my skin seems to love – some old favourites, some new discoveries – and the next challenge going forward for the new decade for me is to get my head around anti-aging products and successfully slip a few hard-hitters into my routine (I wrote a whole post about My Anti-Aging Starter Kit if you’re interested).

Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate

Oh, my beloved. I can’t imagine the day that this miracle bottle doesn’t hold pride of place on my nightstand. I don’t feel the need to use it every night, but on bad skin days and late nights it’s my go to for a little bit of midnight magic – and I wake up with practically a new face!

Nivea Daily Rich Moisturising Cream

I’ve tried plenty of expensive moisturizers – I was a huge fan of the Kiehls Ultra Facial Cream for a while, as well as the Clarins Hydra Essential (until it caused a cataclysmic breakout) but, d’you what? None of them do the job that my cheap as chips Nivea Daily Essentials Rich Moisturising Cream does. I can slap the stuff on like butter without worrying about breaking the bank and my thrifty skin drinks it up like a Friday night G&T.

Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator

What a shift on this one. I started the decade using the Simple Exfoliating Scrub, then moved on to the Kiehls Epidermal Re-Texturising Micro-Dermabrasion Cream – but recently moved away from it because I was worried it was a little too harsh on my skin for weekly use during winter. These days I’m reaching for the Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator – it’s kinder to my skin, still does the job I need it to do (even in winter) and it smells divine. I’ve only dipped my toes into Elemis’ products over the past year or so, but so far everything I’ve tried, I’ve absolutely loved (particularly their Peptide4 Thousand Flower Mask).

The Body Shop’s Chamomile Balm

I’ve come along way in terms of makeup removal solutions – especially considering I started the decade using just soap and water. Oh the shame! My poor skin! And my poor towels! Nowadays I don’t have quite as much to scrub away, but taking off my makeup has gone from a chore to – let’s face it – one of my favourite bits of the day… along with removing my bra. The turning point came a few years ago when I tried the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. I loved how it just seemed to melt the makeup off my skin without any major scrubbing or faffing around with makeup pads. Along with the hot muslin cloths I had with the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Pack that really open up my pores, I felt like I found a routine I could really get on board with. However, these days I much prefer the Body Shop Chamomile Balm – it’s much cheaper and does exactly the same job as the Clinique one.

Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask

Another one for my breakout kit. I went through an Origins phase about five years ago, and this is the only product that’s stuck around. It’s the only face mask I use to really get in and clean out my pores. Dries up existing spots and prevents future ones. Banging.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi Purpose Oil

Back in the day I was all about the Body Shop Body Butter range, but now I’ve moved on to oils. I’m down to the last couple of drops of my Nuxe Body Oil and I will absolutely be picking up another. I know the scent isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love the ease of this stuff – you just spritz, swipe and go, and it leave the skin with a fine gloss. You can also pour a little into your both water, spritz it onto your hair brush… it’s a swiss army oil. (?!) Decadent stuff.

Chloe Eau d’Roses

I’m not a big perfume wearer – as you’ll see, because I started the decade out wearing a combination of JLo’s Glow (…ah, the smell of that stuff takes me back to some places, man!) and SJP’s Lovely. Oh wow. But then, I caught a whiff of Chloe Eau de Roses and never went back. It’s shriekingly expensive stuff, but if I had to pick just one scent to wear for the rest of my life, this would be it.

Best haircare products of the decade - The Cardiff Cwtch

Hair

Just as with skincare, I’ve learned that when it comes to my hair – it’s best to keep things as simple as possible and not to keep trying new (and expensive) products in the hope of some miracle cure. At the start of the last decade my hair was in terrible shape. Years of heat styling, over washing and a move to London (and it’s horrendous hard water) really took its toll, and it took a long, hard slog to get it back into shape. Now, it’s as good as it’s ever going to get – and I mean that in the best possible way. I’ve learned that my thin and fragile hair and scalp just can’t take an overload of product (it just makes it look flat, and makes it break) – so I keep things simple. If you’re interested in reading about my hair journey then I wrote a post all about How I Got My Hair Back.

Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat Shampoo and Conditioner

So, I started the decade out a loud and proud Herbal Essences fan… and then my hair had a meltdown. Hoping for a quick fix, I threw a lot of cash at expensive hair care products and shampoos (I was using the Rahua Range at one point – pricey stuff – and it was bloody useless!). Nowadays, I know what my hair can and can’t handle, and that less is definitely more. I’ve been using the Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat Combo for sensitive scalp for a few years now and my hair seems to be happy with it. It’s gentle and… yup, cheap. (…It’s so gentle that my husband sometimes steals the conditioner for his beard.)

Toni & Guy Heat Protection Mist

After my hair meltdown days, I never go without a heat protector before using my curlers, and this Tony & Guy one is my favourite. It smells gorgeous (as does the whole Tony & Guy range of products) and works a treat. It also comes in a travel sized version – helpful!

L’Oriel Conditioning Mousse

My hair is limp, it needs lift – but it’s a bit of a Catch 22 because if I use too much mousse, then it falls flat under the weight and can also dry out my hair. Luckily, L’Oreal brought out a conditioning mousse that isn’t too heavy, and it works really well for me – especially given the added moisture boost.

So, what beauty products stuck with you through past decade? Which ones are you happy to leave behind? Let me know your favourites in the comments – especially your mascara recommendations! I’m still on the hunt!

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Mirror, Mirror

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When do you feel that you look most like yourself?  For me it’s about twenty minutes before I fall into bed when I’m in my bathroom and about to take my makeup off (on one of the days where I’ve actually done my makeup – that’s very important; I don’t count the other days).  That moment before I scoop my hair up and run the tap, I lean on the sink and look into the mirror and actually recognise the reflection staring back as most like “me”.  Or maybe the more accurate way of putting it is that I actually like the reflection staring back.  I mean sure, it’s not as polished as the 10am version – but that’s okay and I kind of prefer it that way; it’s more realistic, less maintained (but at the same time not the horror show that is the 7am version).  I’m slobbing around in my pyjamas, my makeup’s worn in, I’ve shed my glasses, the curl’s mostly fallen out of my hair and I’m about to get into bed (the best time of the day, I think you’ll agree) so I’ve usually got a happy little grin going on.

That slightly dishevelled, chilled out and cheerful reflection is what I expect and hope to see in every mirror I come across day to day – not just in my bathroom one – but also in changing rooms, hotels, other people’s houses, the windows I walk past when I’m out and about, in photographs and in the eyes of everyone I know.  Kind of like the evil step mother in Snow White (Mirror, mirror on the wall…).  So, how come I NEVER do!  That bathroom reflection never bloody leaves the house and I feel like I’m constantly being pounced on by other reflections of myself that I don’t recognise AT ALL.  Like the one lurking behind me in that long, tilting mirror you get in every H&M fitting room that lets you see what you look like from a horrible backwards angle (“Jesus christ, is that what my nose looks like from the side???  That’s not me!”).  Shudder.  The horror at seeing a photograph of myself on a day where I thought I was walking out of the house looking absolutely smokin’ in that new skirt when actually – turns out – it makes my thighs look massive.  Yeesh.  Then there’s that weird moment where I try and correlate those two very different images of myself and work out which one is actually real – because there can’t possibly be two.  I’m just one person after all, I don’t have two sets of thighs.  So which is the liar: the camera or the mirror?

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We’ve all experienced those surreal moments when people actually voice how they see you.  The first time I became aware that other people might see me differently to the way I saw myself was when I was about seven.  I was in school, queuing up with the rest of the kids to go to assembly and one of them suddenly turned around in the line and gave me a long, hard look.  “…It must be really strange having one eye bigger than the other,” they said, then shrugged and went off to assembly without realising that they’d just performed the equivalent of a hit and run on my appearance, and man was it a kill shot.  I remember being simultaneously confused and completely horrified, because firstly I’d never noticed anything different about my eyes, and secondly – hold up – “is that what everyone thinks I look like!?  Am I a monster!”   Thinking about that now makes me laugh out loud (kids are dicks, aren’t they?) – I mean, how ridiculous!  But I never forgot it and – you know what? – there might actually be some truth to it because to this day I can never seem to apply my eyeliner evenly.  Oh well.

Why is it that criticisms of our appearance – however wide off the mark and ridiculous – are so easy to believe, but compliments aren’t?  There are some observations that we want to believe, but flat out refuse to – like a mirage.  For example, my husband is always telling me that there’s nothing of me – that I’m stick thin.  I know he’s not lying, but I’m convinced that he sees me as skinnier than I actually am because he’s taller than me and so he’s always looking at me from a slightly skewed angle (isn’t that mad?!).  A few weeks ago my sister-in-law turned around, pointed to my eyes and said they were “quite stunning” because apparently they’ve got a darker ring around the outside of the iris.  Excuse me, what?  Looking at my eyes in mirrors all my life I’d never once noticed this mythical dark ring – but she’s right, it’s there.  How the hell did I miss that?  Why didn’t I see it?

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It’s a kind of weird, daily challenge that we all face, isn’t it?  Gathering up all these different versions of ourselves and trying to marry them up with the one we accept as the “real” us (and that’s without adding that impossible bar set for us by the media, fashion and beauty industries).  I’m 33 and I still haven’t figured out which is the real one, or whether I care.  Is it that bathroom version?  The skinny one with the stunning eyes my husband and sister in law see?  Or the sloppy one my neighbours see at 7am when I walk the dog?  Or are they all way, way off?  Are my thighs big?  Are my wrinkles easy to spot?  I can’t for the life of me work out how I can look in a mirror and love my appearance one minute and then take a photograph two seconds later only to stab furiously at the delete button.  I have absolutely no idea.  There’s no easy answer except that I’m probably all of these different versions of myself and none of them at the same time – and that mirrors are very, very strange objects.

Fun fact, every time you see your reflection in a mirror it’s out by about 10 nanoseconds – so it’s a slightly younger version of yourself.  *eye roll* In case you wondered, that’s probably the real me – the one who has to punctuate everything with a nerdy fact. 😉

Spring Skincare Shakeup

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Hello Friday!  Hope you’ve had a good week whatever you’ve been up to – mine’s been absolutely mad.  It’s been one of those weeks where I haven’t actually done much or been out and about (lucky, I guess – the weather’s been mental here in Cardiff!), but have had a lot going on.  That being said, I’m so happy it’s the weekend – time for a little R&R and some pampering! 🙂

I feel like my skin’s going through a bit of a shift in season right now.  It’s been feeling a bit… winter-lagged (is that word?) for the past few months.  Dry, a bit sad-looking and a little bit more red and sensitive than it usually is – so, I’ve been loading up on anything that’ll inject it with some added moisture, scrub away the winter scales and inject a little radiance. But we’re heading into Spring now and so I’ve had a little bit of a skincare shakeup, and these are the products I’ll be using from now until the weather heats up.

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*Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover for Lids, Lashes and Lips

I’ve been a massive fan of Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm for a looooooong time.  It’s so satisfying massaging a blob of the stuff into my face and watching my makeup instantly dissolve.  Even more satisfying is smudging all my dark eye makeup until I look like something out of a horror movie – but sometimes I need a little extra elbow grease to remove all that liquid liner, waterproof mascara and liquid lipstick.  Enter Clinique’s Lids, Lashes and Lips formula which I was very kindly gifted by Clinique Cardiff.  It’s gentle (no stinging watery eyes or dried out lips!) and I’ve started using it when I go in for a second round of makeup removal – just to make sure everything’s squeaky clean before I start my deep cleanse.

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Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion

Honestly, I’ve been thinking of making the move towards acids when it comes to exfoliating my skin – especially now that we’re heading into summer and technically those dry scales of winter shouldn’t be a problem anymore – but I’ve been using this little number from Kiehl’s for so long that it’s going to be tough to try something new!  I’ve had really dry skin all winter and this dude’s been my one and only for scrubbing away dead skin and polishing up the new.  You only need a tiny amount and some gentle circular scrubbing and it really does the job.

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Nuxe Nirvanesque Enriche for 1st Wrinkles

I picked up this baby in TK Maxx when I was looking for something to really soothe my super dry winter skin at night and it’s honestly one of the most beautiful face creams I’ve ever used.  I mean, I’m a little way past “first wrinkles” stage – but this little gem’s been really helping to keep my skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated – and dewy!  I wake up with “I’ve had ten hours sleep and ten bottles of water” skin, and it smells really lovely.  Unfortunately, I’ve got a funny feeling that they’ve discontinued it – I mean, a quick google will find you a tub of the stuff, but I can’t find it being sold on the Nuxe website – but hey, I’ve adored everything I’ve ever bought from Nuxe, so if anything it’s converted me into giving the rest of their skincare rage a go. I’ll definitely be on the hunt for one of their lighter moisturizers to take me through summer. 🙂

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*Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly

As I said before, I’m still coming out of winter with skin suffering from a bit of a hangover.  It’s been dry, sad and a little bit more sensitive than usual.  I’ve only just started using this hydrating jelly from Clinique, but so far so good.  I’ve been using a very small amount in the morning just to give my skin a little bit of a moisture boost, and to protect it from pollution when I’m out and about.  Because it’s lightweight, I think it’s going to make a great moisturizer when the weather heats up over the summer and I might make a full switch over in a couple of months.  Early days though, so we’ll see.

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*Elemis Peptide 4 Thousand Flower Mask and Eye Recovery Cream

Still a massive fan of this combo – and I think I’ve spoken about them a few times already.  The Thousand Flower Mask is an absolute dream when my skin needs a bit of a pick me up (it really smooths everything over and brightens things up) – I tend to use it on a Sunday evening after a bath and after I’ve exfoliated with the Kiehl’s Micro-Dermabrasion Cream – just when my skin isn’t necessarily looking for any added moisture, just something to generally perk it up.  The Eye Recovery Cream has been working wonders on my tired, winter-lagged eyes – keeping those dark circles at bay and working on those fine lines. 😉

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Nuxe Nuxuriance Ultra Mask

Again, Nuxe are quickly becoming one of my favourite beauty brands – their products are all such a treat.  I picked up this little mask from TK Maxx (all hail) on a whim and have been enjoying pampering my skin with it a couple of nights a week before I go in with my moisturizer.  It’s packed full of Hyaluronic Acid to smooth out the fine lines I’m staring to get and also claims to plump up skin and even out tone.  It’s got a metal roller that you use to squeeze and apply the product, and as it goes on it cools and reduces any puffiness.  The only thing I don’t love about it is the smell… but to be honest, it soaks in so quickly that you barely notice it.

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links; to learn more about them, click here.

What’s in my Makeup Bag? The Winter Edition

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High five; we made it through January!  I’m so happy to see the back of it, and even though we’re celebrating the first day of February here in Cardiff with a fresh sheet of snow – it feels good knowing that we’re winging our way into Spring.  Soon – we’re not quite there yet – which means a few more weeks of dark mornings, dark circles and deathly pale skin, and that means a shakeup in the ol’ makeup bag.  It’s working so, so hard right now, let me tell you!

Just before Christmas I picked up a few new beauty bits and bobs from Boots and TK Maxx (if you’ve never raided their makeup section before, then oh boy, you’re in for a treat my friend) to see me through to Spring.

1. CYO “The Radiant One” Bronzing & Illuminating Compact in “Light”

Alas, my Florida tan is long gone and when I hit pan on my Body Shop Honey Bronzer I felt like it was time for a bit of a shake up.  I’ve got fair skin and honestly, I’m a bit of a Bronze-aphobe (is that a thing?).  Too much and I look like I’ve face-planted into a muddy puddle but at the same time, I do need something to warm up my pale skin.  I picked up the CYO Bronzing and Illuminating Compact on a bit of a whim when I stepped into Boots just after Christmas and absolutely fell in love with it.  It’s cheap – only a fiver – and the lighter compact is absolutely perfect for pale, cool-toned skin like mine.  The bronzer is subtle but buildable, while the added highlighter adds a really lovely glow.

2. Stila Stay All Day Foundation and Concealer in Light (3)

What a TK Maxx bargain this baby was!  I’m still a massive fan of the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation, but it’s a little dewy and so light and works best during spring and summer.  In the winter I need a bit more coverage, so I picked up this little bottle by Stila (since it was more than half price off) and it’s been evening up my blotchy – sometimes dry – winter skin.  It applies smoothly over blemishes and wrinkles, sticks with a matte finish (without drying things out) and really does stay all day.  Winner!

3. Lancôme Crayon Khol

An old favourite and the only eye pencil I use.  I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve got rolling around in my makeup bag that are literally just the nib.  I use the until they’re unusable – tight-lining, lid-lining, smudging – this baby copes with the lot and has never once irritated my eyes in the process.

Also, shout out to the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner – it’s been my go-to for years.  I picked up the version with the micro-point last time I repurchased – wondering whether it would make it any easier to create the cat-eye flick I go for day to day – but actually, I think I prefer the normal tip.

4. Stila Eyes Are the Windows Spirit Palette

Another TK Maxx steal – I couldn’t believe my luck!  I absolutely love this palette; it’s got a gorgeous range of neutral, cool-toned shades with buildable colour for looks that work both during the day and at night.

5. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in “Pink in the Afternoon”

I’m so fussy when it comes to lipstick.  I like cool-toned pinks (are we seeing a trend here?), long-lasting, absolutely no shimmer and they need to be moisturising – I’ve never got on with MAC’s range because they leave my lips a flaky mess.  I was devastated when Revlon discontinued their Lip Butter range, but thankfully, the Super-Lustrous range is just as good.  Pink in the Afternoon is that perfect “your lips but better” shade that I reach for every day. 🙂

I’m actually on the hunt for a new mascara because my Bad Gal Bang’s just not banging anymore – what’s everyone loving right now? 🙂

*This post contains affiliate links. Read more about what that means here.

How I Do: My Sunday Night Soak in 10 Steps

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I don’t tend to do baths during the summer, but as soon as those nights start drawing in all I want to do is simmer in hot, soapy water until my fingers wrinkle.  Yes, it feels amazing but it’s also a really important part of my week because Monday to Friday I get a bit lazy when it comes to taking care of myself beauty-wise.  My skin routine is speedy and slim-lined, I touch my face a lot when I’m working on the computer and I scrape my hair back into a clip because I’m too lazy to curl it – so Sunday night is devoted to taking it slow and making up for all that neglect!  🙂

Preparation

1. Hair Mask Time!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been on a bit of a journey with my hair and it’s still definitely in recovery (I wrote a whole post about how I’ve been taking care of my hair here) – so I try to whack on a hair mask once a week.  Usually I’ll melt some coconut oil and slather it on under a shower cap for a couple of hours, but recently I’ve been experimenting with something new.  Because my hair’s so fine I’ve been really trying hard not to fall back into my old habit of highlights and balayage.  But I’ve been really, really tempted.  So I’ve been looking up natural dyeing methods and came across a gentle alternative using just honey and water.

Here’s the science: Honey is naturally high in peroxide, and by mixing it into water you get a very gentle solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (found in most hair dyes).  It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I’m on my seventh treatment and it’s actually working!  Of course you’re not going to get the same results as you would if you holed up in your local salon for a whole afternoon (and it definitely works best on lighter hair), but it’s a really easy (albeit very sticky!) way of gently lightening your hair and bringing out your natural highlights.

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2. Take off all my nail varnish (fresh week, fresh nails!)
3. Prepare the tub

I fill the tub with hot water, chuck in a bath bomb (Rosie from Miss Patisserie is my favourite), light some candles and prop the iPad up on the toilet (I love catching up with Youtube videos or rewatching my favourite shows while I’m soaking away).

4. Inform husband and dog that for the next hour – as far they’re concerned – I no longer exist. Bye!

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In the Bath

5. Wash hair, apply conditioner and leave it to rest.

I tried so many different expensive shampoos and conditioners when I went through all those problems with my hair – they were all a total waste of moolah.  The simple fact is you need to find a shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair condition and scalp.  I’ve got fine hair and a sensitive scalp which really seems to love the Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat Milk Shampoo and Conditioner combo – so that’s what I’m sticking with.

6. Exfoliate.

For my face I haven’t got a bad word to say about the Kiehls Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion Cream, and for my body I recently had a little tester pot of the Nuxe Reve de Miel Body Scrub which has been a total treat!

7. Cleanse

I know most people tend to cleanse then exfolitate, but I like to do it the other way around.  Before I get out of the tub, I wash my body with the Nuxe Prodigieux Huile de Douche and a sponge.  If you love the body oil from the same range, then you’ll love this – it’s got the same subtle, nutty scent and leaves a delicate shimmer on the skin once you’re dry.  I haven’t been using Nuxe products for very long, but I’m totally and absolutely obsessed!  They’ve very quickly become one of my favourite skincare brands.

Post Bath

8. Moisturise

I don’t do anything to my face just yet, instead I focus on my body.  I’m a huge fan of The Body Shop‘s Body Butters, especially the Shea scented one.  I slather that everywhere and then target the drier areas (like my knee caps and elbows) with some of the Nuxe Dry Oil.

9. Fresh Pyjamas and Face Mask time!

I mean, is there anything better?  I recently ran out of my favourite face mask (The Origins Active Charcoal Mask has rescued me from many a skin emergency, let me tell you!) but luckily, I recently got to try some Elemis goodies courtesy of their spa at The Celtic Manor and a mask was one of them.  My skin wasn’t looking its best at the end of the summer after a stressful month, but the Elemis Thousand Flower Mask – which has the weirdest mousse like texture – has really helped sort things out.  My skin’s looking much brighter and healthier and seems in pretty well prepared for those months of drying central heating ahead of us.  I also really love Simple’s Sheet Mask Range if I’m looking for a more cooling, less messy mask. 🙂


10. Once I’ve washed off my facemask, I leave my hair to air dry and finish things off by applying a face oil.

I don’t put any products in my hair on a Sunday, nor do I apply any heat to it.  It’s nice to strip all the products out and just let it dry naturally and recover ready for the week ahead.  As for my face, I’ve been a huge fan of the Kiehls Midnight Recover Oil for YEARS.  I add a couple of drops to my moisturiser (Just plain old Nivea Daily) and then press it into my skin.

How do you do your Sunday Soak?  What are your favourite products to use? 

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