Thursday, 28 August 2014

What I've Learned - Nail Polish

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I never went through the high school experimenting phase and have had to learn everything in my thirties.

I am a nail biter. I have been battling this for a very long time and I have found that, while I relapse regularly, the best way for me to not bite is to wear nail polish. However, if I wear too much, or if I wear nail polish (like Essie) which can be a bit rubbery, I peal it off, which is not good for my nails at all.

I am also a cuticle chewer and have yet to figure out how to keep that in check and get that pretty, smooth edge to my nails. So if anyone has any ideas please do not hesitate to enlighten me.

I have been trying to perfect nail polish application for a while now and while I am getting better, not every effort meets success. I cannot tell you how many times I have removed freshly applied nail polish over and over again until I have given up.

These are some basics I have learned so far:

When it comes to application, always use a base coat. It prevents your nails from staining.
The top coat makes the polish glossier and makes it last longer.
Have good lighting.
Go slowly . If I go anything close to fast, it just smears and gets onto skin and, well, you get the idea.
Take your time. For me getting nails right can take hours. This is because I have not figured out how to get my nails to dry faster.
Putting your nails in cold water supposedly helps it dry faster. It has not worked in my experience.
Don't use to much polish on a coat. this is particularly difficult if your polish has lost it's brand new consistency and has gone a bit thick and gloopy.
Having a hot shower, even when you think your nail polish is 100% dry is not a good idea. It just smooshes off. This was a very unhappy discovery.
Do not try very carefully to open doors, get things out of your hand bag or pockets. It will end in tears. Don't do anything at all. Just stay still, as if you were hunting Wabbits.

If you are messy and clumsy like me, get some cheap latex gloves. Wear them to do your toes. Then, take one off and paint that hand. When that hand is smooth dry, put a glove on that hand and do the other hand.
If you have to do any corrections that require nail polish remover (or if you are removing nail polish from toes), wear the gloves to protect you current nail polish from being damaged. This was an idea I came up with and tried because I often have to touch up or wipe corners and it just gets messy. I really like this idea and encourage you to try it and share it.

I have yet to discover how to get edges perfect. I have watched YouTube videos about this and, well, I still haven't got it right.

I do not know how to fix gouges and stop polish from fading at the edges. There is a lot still to learn, but I will get there and I will eventually get really good at it. I have enough polish to practice on, so why not. I do think, however, that should invest at least a little bit of time finding out other people's tricks and such and not try to figure it out all on my own.

What are your little gems when it comes to nail polish?
Please tell me in the comments below.
See ya.

Friday, 22 August 2014

REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner - All Finished

So last week I wrote about the REN cleanser I bought eons ago, but I didn't mention that at the same sort of time, I bought  the REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner as well.

Now, I am quite sure that neither product was supposed to last so interminably long, but as I wasn't overly regular with my skincare, they lasted a super long time.

This toner was another recommendation by Mrs Hirons and if my face is anything to go by, I think we should all listen to her. I was told to use it as an acid toner to remove dead skin cells, balance out the skin and prepare it for the skincare that goes on top.

According to the REN website,  the REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner is "a refreshing exfoliating toning lotion that unclogs pores and sloughs off dead skin leaving the complexion looking clear, smooth and even toned. Reduces the appearance of pore size and oiliness while its antimicrobial action minimizes the appearance of future breakouts."

Glycolic Acid from Pineapple Extract, Lactic Acid from Passion Fruit, Citric Acid from Lemon Extract and Tartaric Acid from Grape Extract
I am not a breakouty person, so I can't really say if this product made a difference there and I am not so sure about the pore minimizing, but again, I haven't been all that regular in my routine of late, so I can't judge that either.

The product itself has a herby, almost medicated smell but it is actually quite nice (to my nose, anyway). If you don't like the smell, don't worry, it goes away almost instantly.

I have dry skin and the Clarimatte range is for oily to combination skin, but this toner did not really dry me out. In fact, it left my face feeling smooth and soft. The cleanser toner combination have made a significant difference to my skin to the point that I have mostly eliminated dry patches from my face.

When I first started this skincare lark, I had a Clinique foundation that I could not use because it just clung to all those little patches and you could really see how bad my skin was if I was wearing makeup (kind of the opposite effect that one generally goes for.)

The other day, I wore said foundation and it looked really nice (so glad I didn't throw it away when I thought it was too drying for my skin).

Toner bottle warns of potential stinging. I never felt any stinging at all; it was just cool and calm and lovely.

Occasionally, when my skin feels a bit rough, I will use an exfoliator (Body Shop Vitamin C) then cleanse; tone etc. I am not too heavy duty on my skin, I don't think, and my routine is still pretty basic (I am still considering adding an eye cream to my regime), but I haven't felt the need for anything to drastic. The goal of this whole project was to minimise the first signs of ageing, which these products have done in a big way.

The price of this toner is also in the midrange, and at £12 for 150ml it definitely won't break the bank. As a first introduction to modern toners it has impressed me and set the benchmark really high for any other products I try, because, let's face it, I'm a girlie girl now and new things must be tried and tested. That is what this whole adventure is about. (and a part I really do enjoy).

So REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner, effective, well priced and elegantly packaged (pretty sort of squeezy bottle). What more do you actually want?

I do confess that this is by no means an expert review, and in the years to come, I change my tune and know better, but somehow, I doubt it.

REN is a good brand. That is all.

What toners do you use and why?
What should I try next?
Comment below or tweet me @becomingiris to share your thoughts!

See ya later. Bye.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk Review

Hello all the people.

I wanted to write a blog post today, but I wasn't quite sure what I would write about. This hasn't been a good week so far, and I have wanted to blog since Monday, but just didn't have it in me.

To get me going, I decided to write a little post about REN; a lovely, understated brand recommended to me by my skincare hero, Caroline Hirons.

As readers may know, last year I had the privilege of meeting Mrs Hirons and was able to ask her key questions on saving my skin.

One of her recommendations was REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk. This product feels more like a cream that a milk, with a smooth texture and a smell I really like.

It cleans beautifully and leaves your skin feeling soft, clean and clear, with no residue or greasiness.
My skin is dry and the older I get, the dryer it becomes. I also get easily dehydrated and this gentle cleanser does not dry me out or strip my skin in any way, quite the opposite really; when i use it my skin feels quite bright and nourished.

It is excellent for both morning and evening; whether you are wearing makeup or not.

I really like the packaging, which pushes the product up as you use it, rather than having that little tube thing that you have to aim around the bottle when you are running out, and the pump releases just the right amount of product. I usually use one to one and a half pumps, smoosh it all over my face and neck (dry or damp) and then take it off with a face cloth that I have rinsed in hot water. It all feels so nice and pampery.

I am not super regular with my routine at the moment but when I do it, I can feel the difference instantly. I remember being absolutely amazed when I first used it. It made such a visible difference to the texture and condition of my skin. I felt like years had been taken off. I cannot praise this product enough to be honest.

I do not have that much experience with a range of cleansers, but I have tried a few drugstore ones that have left the tight feeling or that have made no difference at all, and you may as well not have bothered. I have also tried the Lush cleansing balm that, while many people love it, I cannot bear that greasy, waxy film it leaves behind (not to mention how it stains my face cloths yellow.)

According to the REN website, you can get REN products at Liberty of London, Space NK, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, ASOS and some independent retailers in the UK (including Amazon). Priced at £16.00 form 150ml, you can't go wrong here.

REN have a selection of ranges for various skincare needs and the Evercalm range is designed for sensitive skin. For those familiar with this brand, the range used to be called Hydra-Calm.

As an added bonus, REN skincare does not put nasties in products so you won't find "Synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfate detergents, synthetic colours, animal ingredients and parabens," according the website.

"REN products do not contain potential irritants including: glycols and diglycols (such as propylene glycol), PEG's, PPGs, urea, D.E.A, T.E.A, PABA and other synthetic sunscreens, aliphatic alcohols/hydrocarbons, phthalates, fumarates, amines, alkanolamines, synthetic AHAs/BHAs, polyacrylamide, metacrylate, elastomer, poloxamer, styrene, vinyl, polyquaternium, synthetic chelating agents, nylon, nitriles, nitrates, nitrosamine releasers, bromates, fluor, aluminum and alumina et al."

So there you go.

I suppose I should be giving this some kind of rating. How about a Newbie Seal of Approval. Start as you mean to go on, best foot forward and all that. It's basically a winner for me.

What's your winning skincare product?

Comment below or tweet me @becomingiris to share the newbie knowledge!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

My Girly Stuff Storage

I may not be the neatest person, but I thought I would share my current makeup and skin care collection and storage.

I like charity shops. In fact, our current home was furnished almost exclusively from charity shops. We not only saved a bundle this way, but found some very nice, quirky pieces too.

Recently, I was browsing in one of my local charity shops and found the cutest little mini chest of drawers that I thought would be perfect for storing all my girly paraphernalia.

The top drawers have been used for nail polish, lipstick and mascara.

It seems that I have quite a bit of room to grow here, especially where lip products are concerned.

The Next drawer is full of face products from eyeliners and shadows to blushes, bronzers and foundations.

For the sake of neatness, I use the bottom half of some Glossy Boxes to get the job done. The postage boxes they came in have been repurposed to store spare toiletries and such in the linen closet.

Drawer number three kind of shows where my proclivities lie, in that I can't actually fit everything in there. It's skincare. 

The size of the containers certainly doesn't help.

The last drawer keeps all my tools. Can you guess my favourite brand of brushes?

There's plenty of space here for expansion.

I also use the top of the chest for perfume, skincare extras and hair stuff. I have a lot of hair and not that much hair stuff. 

You see that bright pink spray bottle on the right there? It's VO5 heat spray for protecting hair from drying. I just bought it recently and I must say, I am very impressed. It smells really nice, does not leave any residue or gunkiness on my hair and my hair has been handling the drying much better - no breaking or burning or anything. I am well chuffed. Just thought I'd mention it. 

Now you know how I keep my my stuff. Wasn't that such fun?

How do you store yours?

Comment below or tweet me @becomingiris and let me know!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Summer in the City 2014 Gets off to a Screaming Start in London

Today was the first day of London-based YouTube convention, Summer in the City (SiTC). In its sixth year, this event offers YouTube fans from the UK and Europe a chance to meet their favourite creators, while spending time with others who share their interests.

Devoted fans began to gather and queue at 04:30 in the morning and by the time the doors opened at 11:00, thousands of young YouTube viewers and creators were amassed in the sunny courtyard of Alexandra Palace.

Organised by YouTubers, Tom, Liam, Dave, Luke, and Jazza, the event offered a mix of panels and presentations, signings and meet-ups, as well as booths, gaming stations, lounging areas and merchandising stands.  

Visitors were able to test out new games, learn more about the Raindance Film Festival or stop at the YouTube stand where fans and creators could ask questions and request help with their channels. 

The YouTube stand also showcased the GoogleGlass prototype, a device that, if priced correctly, may revolutionise how people engage with media.

This year’s panel discussions catered to a range of interests from comedy, collaborations and gaming to LGBT, Women’s issues, politics and BookTube as well as a much anticipated, packed-out Q&A session with SprinkleofGlitter.

Many fans queued for hours to meet their favourite YouTubers, get signatures and pictures, or watch them perform on the main stage.

For the first time, SiTC hosted a YouTube awards ceremony, recognising local creators for their achievements. Several popular YouTubers received their silver play button awards for reaching 10 thousand subscribers, while five channels earning their gold buttons for reaching one million.

The screaming at the ceremony was deafening, particularly for award hosts Dan and Phil.

Organisers were prepared, however, for the thousands of fans, with 16 first aiders on hand and a tent for those who would be likely to faint.

The day was finished off with music performances by BriBry, Tessa Violet and Mr Weebl.

SiTC 2014 also introduced an additional day to the event, specifically designed for creators with a line-up of informative panels and workshops aimed at supporting YouTube creators increase their following, production values and encourage up and coming YouTube creators to produce good content.

This year’s event was sponsored by YouTube; Disney; MakerStudios; Plaid Social Labs; Rightster; Play Station; Base79; Viral Spiral; Get Taxi; Just Eat and Young Mobile.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

I Left the House and I Liked It

This week, the incomparable Pixiwoo sisters, Nic and Sam, from Real Techniques are touring around the UK, promoting their brush line and meeting their devoted fans. If you haven't been to a meet up, you are missing out. They are the loveliest, most genuine women I have met in a long time.

I had the pleasure of attending their meet and greet at Superdrug Marble Arch this week and was pleasantly surprised to find that they, and their Real Techniques Brand Manager, Stacey DeGarmo, remembered me from last year's meet.

Last Year
Last Year
This year, I ventured a little further and popped into a few delicious beauty outlets for the very first time ever. First, I went into Liberty of London (oh, so pretty), but I didn't stay long. I just bought 1 thing!

REN Cleansing Milk - Repurchase
Then it was time to discover the joys of Pixi; the sweetest looking shop where again, I bought 1 thing!
Yay for me and my self-control!

Pixi Glow Tonic - Recommended by Caroline Hirons
With that little adventure out of the way (it had to be done, because I have no idea when I'll be in the neighbourhood again), I got to my final destination. An hour early. I was first in the queue. And it got long; really long.

Behind the Scenes - Setting up
Beautiful Brushes
Sam and Nic arrived and we had a little chat and had some hugs. We didn't natter for too long because of that really long queue.

It was really nice and I am glad I went. They even signed my shiny new brush (I bought a Stippling Brush, so I got this one as a present. I like presents).

I May Never Use This
Of course, we took pictures again.

Last Year
This Year

Thank you Ladies for a great day out for me! It was so very nice to see you again.

This is my Real Techniques brush collection – small, but growing.

So Purdy
It was a good day. I like those.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Dry Eyes are Like Global Warming

The other day, I went to my Tesco and had my eyes tested. To my surprise, the optometrist told me I had dry eyes. Well, no, it wasn't that much of a surprise. My mother had told me that her and her mom have something called Sj√∂gren’s Syndrome, which is an autoimmune thing that causes dry eyes, among other things.

When she told me and described the symptoms I was like ahhh, that's why my eyes get itchy, burny and tired and feel sandy and stuff.

It is also the reason that when I am trying very hard to get my eye makeup to look half decent, my eyes betray me and start watering all over the place.

Such fun!

So, dry eyes - super watery deluge flood.

I have booked a GP appointment for a diagnosis.

I will keep you posted. If you like.

I think I will go cut some cucumber slices and put them on my eyes right now.