Neutral eyeshadow palettes are my weakness when it comes to makeup. I have so many piled up in my beauty drawers, but that never stops me adding more to my collection. Granted - I do love to splurge on luxury brands, but it's always much more exciting to come across more affordable products that impress and rival premium formulas. Just like the Collection Eyes Uncovered Palettes. At just £3.99 each, these palettes are an absolute bargain and give some premium palettes a run for their money!
Fusing hi-tech formulations, skincare benefits and magical makeup, By Terry is a brand that not only aims to enhance beauty with cosmetics, but creates innovative products that also treat and care for the complexion simultaneously. I covet pretty much everything in their luxury range and treasure every By Terry product I've splurged on, including one of my all-time favourites, the Hyaluronic Hydra Primer. I recently repurchased this wonder product after finishing off my first entire tube, which previously featured in my Best + Worst: Hydrating Primers post, so I just had to review it for you.
Having skin that's on the dry/dehydrated side, I always prefer to use hydrating primers. What annoys me about the majority of moisturising formulas, though, is that there seems to be a necessity for them to be very liquid and create a dewy result. Don't get me wrong, I love products that deliver a boost of radiance and extra juiciness to my skin, but I don't always want that from a primer. I still like them to even out and perfect the skin texture, whilst keeping it plumped, which is exactly what the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Primer excels at.
By Terry claim that the Hyaluronic Hydra Primer smoothes and plumps the skin to improve tone and texture. Full of hyaluronic acid, microspheres and resurfacing polymers, the foaming mousse erases lines and fill wrinkles, leaving behind a silken feel and matte finish. If a product can do all that, whilst keeping my skin soft and supple, then I'm all for it!
Exactly as the premium brand promises, this primer helps skin to stay looking fresh and plump all day, but also diffuses the look of lines, fills enlarged pores and blurs imperfections at the same time. Even used alone, without applying foundation over the top, it makes a big difference and creates a more uniformed skin-tone. I do find that it's best to gently smooth the primer over the face, rather than vigorously rub it in. If you have any acne scarring, severely pitted skin or very enlarged pores, dabbing extra product over the affected areas and patting it in is essential to effectively 'fill in' any flaws.
Rather than creating a glossy sheen on the skin, this primer has an unusually matte finish for a hydrating formula. There's no greasy-looking shine or tacky residue left behind after application, which ensures that any makeup applied over the top doesn't just split or fade after an hour of wear. Don't let the matte finish fool you into thinking that it makes skin feel dry and tight, or that makeup doesn't blend well over the top, though. On the contrary. It's more than hydrating enough that any rough patches aren't exaggerated and foundation doesn't cling to them. Instead, skin is left feeling comfortable, soft and super smooth. As the finish is matte, foundation and concealer are given something to grip to, for improved longevity.
Although described as a foaming mousse, the primer doesn't actively expand once squeezed out as you might expect, like a bottle of hair mousse does. Initially, the texture seems more like a thick white cream, but the mousse consistency becomes apparent as soon as you touch it. Once you blend it across the skin, the white colour disappears into a transparent veil. It does contain some fragrance, but it's only subtle and smells fresh rather than floral, which my skin isn't bothered by. A little goes a long way with this product, which is handy seeing as it costs an absolute fortune.
Unsurprisingly, being a premium product, this primer doesn't come cheap. It's £42 for 40ml. It's extortionate. But, this is such a unique product and I really feel it makes a huge difference to how polished my makeup looks. Plus, my tube lasted for about a year with regular use. Investing in high-quality base products is something that I'm happy to do and I prefer to spend my money on things like primer and foundation, whilst saving on things like mascara and brow grooming. My top priority with makeup is to achieve a flawless complexion that appears as natural and healthy-looking as possible, and this primer certainly helps to do that. If possible, I always recommend trying to get a sample of expensive products, before you commit to buying the full-size.
Now that 2017 has arrived, there's only one post I can kick off the year with. It may be up a little later than planned, but it's finally time to bombard you with a mammoth list of my top products from 2016. Unlike my 2015 Favourites or 2014 Favourites, in which I listed my holy-grail products from every makeup category, I decided to restrain myself this year. As I had such an extensive selection of products when first putting together my edit, I thought I'd cut them down to the cream of the crop that I reached for most often.
My ultimate favourite re-discovery from 2016, has to the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. A skincare and primer hybrid, it offers the most noticeable boost of radiance and hydration of any primer I've ever used. Famous for it's tightening effect, it creates a silky film over the skin which instantly firms and smoothes the face. Providing a barrier between the skin and any makeup applied over the top, it keeps your base looking perfect, without it sinking in to the skin by the end of the day. Whenever I have a special occasion to get ready for, this is an absolute must-have in my makeup bag.
For bases, I've got two that I've consistently gone back to throughout the entire year. For a lighter finish, I've been obsessed with the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder. So quick and easy to use, I simply buff it over my skin with a soft kabuki brush and I'm left with a flawless, glowing finish. Despite having dry skin, this powder foundation never looks cakey or emphasizes rough patches. For a fuller coverage, it has to be Estee Lauder's Double Wear Stay-In-Place Foundation. I know this foundation has a bad rep for looking heavy, but it's honestly the longest lasting base I've ever tried. Making sure I've slathered on a rich moisturiser first, I simply bounce the smallest drop on to my skin with my makeup sponge and I'm left with a perfected, almost airbrushed finish that I can rely on to last through wind, rain, icy temperatures and heatwaves. It's not an everyday base for me, but whenever I want that totally polished look or know I have a long day ahead, then this is my first choice.
I can't believe it took me so long to cave in to the hype, but in 2016, I finally got round to trying the Maybelline The Eraser Eye Concealer. Just as everyone says, it's seriously impressive. The sponge applicator, which I expected to hate, is actually ideal for dabbing the concealer on without dragging the delicate skin. The creamy formula is hydrating and smoothes any fine lines around the eyes, without sinking into any creases or caking up. Although the lightest shade isn't as light as I'd like, the peachy tint to it helps to cancel out any blue-toned shadows, correcting discoloration. Another affordable formula I loved, but for concealing redness and blemishes, was the Rimmel Lasting Finish Concealer.Usually, I much prefer liquid concealers to creams that come in a pot, but this one is an exception. Thick and creamy, the formula melts on to the skin and has a high coverage that camouflages even the angriest of blemishes with ease. When blended out, it doesn't look at all heavy and once set in place, it doesn't budge.
I can only apologise for banging on about my next pick so much recently, but it's just such a beauty! Although it came out fairly late in 2016, I used it pretty much every day up until the new year. For powder, blush and highlight, the Hourglass Surreal Light Ambient Lighting Edit has it all. Not only is it insanely beautiful to look at, but the powders all work in harmony to work miracles on a dull complexion. Hourglass are by far my favourite brand for powders, as the formulas are always so finely-milled and give the skin an incredibly healthy, lit-from-within glow.
But, carrying a whole palette in your bag for touch-ups isn't practical, so the powder I've been keeping in my on-the-go makeup bag for most of the year has been the Estee Lauder Double Wear Powder Makeup. A quick dusting simply blots away any shine and adds an extra hint of coverage, but doesn't leave skin looking at all chalky. It's also amazing when you make spontaneous plans to go out and don't have time to go home and get ready. If you generously buff this powder over the skin, then it acts more like a full-on foundation and leaves skin looking totally flawless. Lauder also offer this powder in so many shades, so it's always possible to find a perfect match!
When it comes to bronzers, I'm a total floozy, so it was difficult for me to select just one favourite. As always, the Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base is my number one cream bronzer. Nothing can beat the smooth gel-like mouse texture for creating a plumped, luminous finish and I love that it looks so much more natural on the skin. For a powder formula, I was late to the party with the Soap & Glory Solar Powder, but now it's a staple in my makeup bag. With two halves, one lighter and one darker, you can really customize your colour with this bronzer. Once you break through the shimmery overspray, both sides are pretty much matte and, as the colours are both quite neutral and aren't too red in tone, the bronzer can also be used to softly contour with.
The brand that smashed the brow game in 2016, was of course Benefit. After releasing a whopping selection of products, I picked up the Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil and Gimme Brow Volumising Brow Gel and they've been my staple duo ever since. The unique shape to the Goof Proof pencil makes it so easy to fill in any sparse areas and create the brow shape you want. Like the name suggests, it's hard to go wrong with this fool-proof pencil, even if you aren't confident with beefing up your brows. Gimme Brow is amazing at setting every little hair into place, but as it's tinted and contains fibers, it adds some extra texture to the brows at the same time. If I'm rushed for time, I'll use Gimme Brow by itself, as it just adds a hint of definition without looking too harsh.
I've mentioned my love for all things Nars many times before, but I don't think I've featured many of their eyeshadows on AGB. During 2016, I realised just how much I adore them and my most-worn of my collection was definitely the Nars Cordura Eyeshadow Duo. The shadows blend so easily and have strong pigmentation, so it's easy to create stunning looks with them. When I wanted a cream shadow, I was all about the Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon in Bronzed Garnet. They have the perfect texture - smooth and soft, but not so creamy that they crease or fade after a few hours. All of the shades are just beautiful and, although they're designed to suit different eye colours, I ignore that. Bronzed Garnet is a jeweled plum-burgundy shade with a fine sprinkling of gold shimmer and it just looks insane with my brown eyes, even though it's meant to be paired with green.
Liquid liner isn't an essential for me, as I often smudge a kohl pencil along my lash-lines to add definition instead. But, when I do want to create a feline flick, I always turn to the L'Oreal Super Liner Black Lacquer. I find a pointed sponge-tipped applicator the easiest to use and this one allows you to create either a fine or thick line in seconds. The waterproof formula is super black, lasts all day and dries to a glossy finish, which I personally find more flattering. Another bonus - it doesn't dry up too quickly!
Usually, I'm all about high-street mascaras and rarely splurge on premium formulas. But, the one that I discovered last year and found was actually worth paying more for, was the YSL Effect Faux Cils Shocking Indecent Volume Mascara. Promising indecent volume, this mascara definitely delivers and is so effective that I've been asked if I've been wearing falsies when I've used it, on multiple occasions. Things can get a bit clumpy if you continue to layer it, but I find one coat gives me plenty of drama and prevents that spidery look. My favourite high-street mascara of the year, was the L'Oreal False Lash Flutter Mascara. With a fanned-out wand, it picks up every lash and pulls them up and out, for a flirty, fluttery result. The plastic wand really separates the lashes and prevents clumps, depositing most of the mascara at the base of the lash and then gently coating the length and tips. This mascara not only creates great volume, but lengthens amazingly too.
There were a couple of new lip product releases that blew me away in 2016, but there was one that just pipped the rest to the post. The By Terry Rouge-Expert Click Sticks are basically my perfect lip product. The genius applicator hugs every curve of the lip for a precise finish without needing lip liner and the formula is just incredible. Super pigmented, it provides opaque coverage in one swipe and the consistency feels more like a lightweight balm. It's a matte lip colour, but feels comfortable to wear all day and doesn't need topping up for at least five hours. I couldn't completely ignore the liquid lipstick trend in this post, so I thought I'd include the Boujois Rouge Edition Velvets. Personally, I find a lot of liquid lipsticks to be far too drying and leave my lips feeling irritated after wear, but I love the light, comfortable texture of Bourjois' versions. As they leave a stain behind on the lips, they last for so long and I can often get away without touching-up once.
For makeup tools, my Beauty Blender overshadowed any of my brushes over the past year. If you want flawless, yet natural-looking makeup, then bouncing this baby over your skin to apply products is the way to get it. I have to admit, I do find it a pain to dampen the sponge before every use, but the effect it has makes it totally worth it. I have tried a few cheaper alternatives to the original Beauty Blender, but none of them quite compare for me. Although the sponge is expensive, it holds its shape and lasts so well, ensuring you look after it and wash it regularly.
It's only four days until Christmas and now is the time that people start to panic buy the last of their gifts. After sharing my Last-Minute Beauty Stocking Fillers post, it's about time I show you my last-minute picks for the ladies! If you're still stumped about gift ideas for any lovely ladies in your life, or you're in need of some ideas for yourself, then hopefully this little guide will give you some helpful pointers.
First up, I had to include something that I always love to receive and often ask for at Christmas - perfume. I rarely even buy my own bottles anymore, as I can guarantee my mum or boyfriend will usually surprise me with one. My absolute favourite scent at the moment, is the Stella McCartney Pop Fragrance.It's a fairly recent release, so chances are whoever you're buying for won't already have it in her collection. It's such a fresh, uplifting perfume that's not too sweet, making it a great choice for the arrival of spring/summer.
Keeping with the theme of fragrance, candles and diffusers are another gift that I can't imagine anyone wouldn't be happy to find under the tree. For me, the ultimate brand for home fragrances is Diptyque. Their wide array of scents are unusual, sophisticated and give off a strong scent that really fills your entire home, even when they're not burning. Plus, the packaging is just so chic. We all know how extortionate Diptyque's pricing is, though, so if you're looking for something more affordable, then I can't recommend the Stoneglow diffusers enough. Depending on the scent, each bottle is filled with different decorative additions, like flowers and shells. Such a nice touch which makes them a pretty display piece, too.
One practical present I'll always end up popping on my wish-list, is a nice pair of pyjamas. Granny alert! During winter, I probably spend more of my time in comfy loungewear and nightwear than I do in proper clothing, so it makes sense really. This year, I fell in love with a soft pink pair from the M&S Autograph Pyjamas range, which I originally bought for my mum. They're simple, chic and so comfortable!
Another practical present that you really can't go wrong with, is a new diary or journal. Whether they're super organised and schedule every detail of their lives in a planner, or prefer a cute diary to doodle in and jot down the odd occasion, every girl needs one. As I take my organization rather seriously, my favourite diary has always been the Moleskine Large Weekly Planner, as it has lots of room for detailed notes. I also love my One Line A Day Diary which is a bit quirky and allows you to record a memory from each day over five years, so you can look back and see how your life has changed over time.
For anyone that likes reading, whether they're a real bookworm and rack up one novel a week, or prefer pretty coffee table books to casually scan over, books are another great option. As we love to cook meals from scratch in our house, I love to receive recipe books. The one I currently have my eye on is Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi, after purchasing it for my uncle and having a quick flick through before wrapping. All of the dishes look insanely delicious and there's a mix of easy and more difficult recipes in there, to suit all skill levels.
Being a beauty blogger, I had to throw some makeup in to the mix! My top pick for this year is kind of obvious, if you've read any of my recent posts. Of course, it's the Hourglass Surreal Light Ambient Lighting Edit. Full of gorgeous shades of powder, blush, bronzer and highlight, it's a comprehensive palette that would make a great introduction to the brand. If you know that the recipient already loves Hourglass, even better! It is quite pricey, but it would make a great treat for any beauty lover, if they don't already own it.
If your girl doesn't wear much makeup, then some decadent, pampering body products are sure to be a hit. Treating her to one, luxe product that she wouldn't buy herself is always nice, or you can put together a little set of her favourites. Personally, I couldn't think of anything I'd love more than the Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Creme Body Wash, which is so decadent and leaves skin smelling good enough to eat. If you want to treat your loved-one to a spa-quality product, with a high-street price, then I thoroughly recommend any Sanctuary Spa products. I've been obsessed with the Sanctuary Spa Air-Whipped Creme Souffle lately, as it's the most amazing body moisturiser. It's just as delicious as it sounds!
If all else fails and you don't have any idea of what she would like or the time to shop, then loading up a Space NK gift card wouldn't hurt. Then she can have her pick of the entire range of luxe products and get something she really loves!
What are your favourite gifts to receive at Christmas time?