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Review: Essence Cosmetics Top-Coats

Good afternoon lovelies :) I hope you're all well after the weekend :) Today, I have a review that is long overdue and now I have finally found some time to do it before I rest a little prior to heading out for night shift!

So I was looking for an alternative top-coat to try as I am always on the look-out for a new top-coat to see if it performs better than the previous one I had and I really wanted to try the Essence Better than Gel Nails Top Coat but sadly, I haven't yet seen it here in Malta.  Anyways, I still went on to buy an Essence top-coat and while I was at the pharmacy, I spotted three different ones and seeing they are really affordable, I decided to get one of each.  

The bottles are all pretty much the same; transparent and hold 8ml of product and the caps are all white.  As you can see from the picture, I got the High Shine Top Coat, the Quick Dry Top Coat and the Glitter Top Coat.  The High Shine top coat was €2.11 whilst the other two were priced €2.41.

All these apply really nicely as the consistency is neither too thick, nor too watery and the brush is a good size to work with.

The High Shine and the Quick Dry top coats are just regular transparent, glossy top coats but the difference between them is that the former dries really quick while the other one isn't quick drying at all!  It takes ages for it to dry during which time, it is very easy to smudge your nail polish.  So as not to let it go to waste, I use it to adhere rhinestones and nail decorations as only a small amount is needed.  However, I will definitely not re-purchase this again.  On the other hand, the High Shine top coat is my favourite and I use it constantly to extend the life of my manicure and give it that extra shine.  I will definitely buy this top-coat again and I totally recommend it to anyone who wants a good top coat but doesn't want to break the bank!

The Glitter top coat is also a favourite of mine and I use it whenever I want to add that extra sparkle to my manicure and also when I want to give my manicure some dimension.  The reason why I like this top coat so much, apart from the fact that it dries quickly and helps my manicure stay chip-free for a whole week, is that it is very easy to remove! Since the glitter in it is quite fine, it doesn't stick to the cotton pad and make a mess like other glitter polishes do and I always apply two coats of this to achieve an extra sparkly effect.

That's all I have to say on these top coats ladies and I especially recommend the High Shine and the Glitter Top Coats.  As for the non Quick Dry one, I'd say save your pennies lol.

Have you ever tried any of these top coats or any other Essence nail polishes ladies? Which are your favourites?

Monthly Favourites: October 2011

Hello ladies :) October has also come to an end so it is time for me to show you what I have been enjoying most this month :) First and foremost, having had my first pay, I had to shop lol and I love everything I bought this month (you can have a look at all the items I purchased here).  Furthermore, I have been wearing more cosy clothes as a result of the weather getting colder (something which I am not a fan of) so that has been a good excuse to wear the new clothes I have been buying for Autumn/Winter.  I have also been enjoying autumnal shades this month.

With regards beauty products, I have some re-discoveries and new products to share with you but most of them have to do with skin care and how I have been getting through with having zits more frequently thanks to the full blast air conditioning I have to work in at the lab (I have a post coming up with what I have been doing to help my skin). So let me get started :)

Like I said, I have been having skin issues, so my go-to products were La Roche Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector (apart from the rest of the La Roche Posay Effaclar skin care products that I use); Montagne Jeunesse Blemish Mud; e.l.f. Shine Erasers &  e.l.f. Mineral Blemish Kit.

Obviously, I had to conceal the spots so I have been using the NYX Concealer in a Jar (Green) as well as my Revlon ColorStay foundation for day and NYX HD Foundation for night.  The Sigma F80 is my preferred brush for applying foundation whilst the e.l.f. Powder Brush wins hands down for best application of powder products like the e.l.f. Studio Complexion Perfection and the Mineral Booster.

I have also been enjoying more natural looking make-up looks this month as I have been quite busy with work and another project and my go to products are Nivea Hydro Care lip balm to keep my lips hydrated and chap-free, Maybelline Water Shine Lipstick in 02 Cocoa Shake and I am happy to say I have re-discovered my e.l.f. Waterproof Eyeliner Pens in Black and Coffee which I am very pleased to say that they haven't dried up from last year!

Being so busy, I have really missed doing my nails so I have to do a new mani asap! However, I have been wearing essie's Vanity Fairest for most of this month!  Lastly, not only my skin suffers the consequences of air conditioning, but also my hair.  Thereby, I have invested in this tub of Palmer's Coconut Oil which I apply to my ends whenever my hair needs a moisture boost!  So that concludes my beauty product favourites for this month cupcakes but I have one more thing to share with you :)

I have been watching the Audrey Hepburn DVD's I got earlier this month and the more I see, the more I appreciate Audrey Hepburn! Can't wait to get my hands on the rest of her movies!

Lastly, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you guys about a Halloween nail art competition I am taking part in on facebook.  I am currently in second place with my entry but I need to get at least another 200 votes before noon of 1st November to win so I would appreciate it if you spared a second of your time and liked my photo just by following these simple steps:

2. Click like under my picture

Thanks a lot in advance for your help cupcakes :)

So that's it for my monthly favourites ladies! Stay tuned for more posts to come! Happy Sunday!

October Collective Haul

Hi dolls :) I hope you're all doing well :) Time for this month's collective haul post but before I begin, I want your opinion on these haul posts:
1. Do you prefer me to do a collective haul once a month or separate haul posts throughout?
2. Would you like prices to be included?

I would really appreciate your feedback here as I am planning more posts to publish now that I have more time on my hands so I really want to know what you like to see on this blog.  In fact, if you want a review on something specific or a post on a particular topic, do let me know in the comments section and I will try my best to satisfy your requests.  Here's a hint on posts to come; more of the Mid-Week Beauty Masterclass, a new nail care series similar to the beauty masterclass, jewellery posts, etc... so if you like what you're reading, hit the follow button :) it's free!! 

Anyways, enough rambling and on to the fun part!  First up is this cute owl necklace which I bought after all the rage there has been on owls recently but I wanted something different so I went for this rhinestone decorated retro style owl for which I paid around €2 on ebay. 

Late in September, the 50th Anniversary Edition of the classic movie Breakfast At Tiffany's was released on Blu-Ray. Being a huge fan of Ms. Hepburn, I couldn't pass this up and bought myself a copy of it as well as a box-set of 5 DVDs.  I'm still on the lookout for other movies of Audrey Hepburn so I will slowly build up a collection.  The Blu-Ray cost me around €15 while the box-set was €26 something.

Going on with the Audrey Hepburn theme, Mum & Dad came across this beautiful framed picture of hers and bought it for me :)  They also gave me some money for my birthday and managed to save some of it but I bought some clothing items (pics below).

Fur and cable knit gilet, Stradivarius (€39.95)
Red flats, Peacocks (€10.50)

Over-the-knee socks, Stradivarius (€12.95 for 2 pairs)
The Body Shop Cocoa Butter Body Scrub (present from my brother, €12.20)
Fabric flower hair-slides, Peacocks (€5.50)

Later in October, my Dad also bought me a set of Maltese postage stamps for my collection with the theme being Maltese Natural Treasures.

Having had my first pay check as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, I went shopping a little and bought a few essentials as well as some impulse buys.  I also bought some more stuff online.  In fact, I am going to start with those.

First up is this pair of gladiators from which I had been eyeing ever since they went on the site and when I found out there were only size 3 left in stock (my size!!) and they were on sale for £8.00, I couldn't help but think that they were meant for me :P (P.S. There is a shoe overload in this post).

I finally got myself a black quilted cross-body bag from ebay.  It's quite spacious and perfect for dressing up or down! I got this for around €19 and I bought it with money my aunt gave me for my birthday. It also came with 4 pairs of earrings for free which was a nice surprise as they weren't mentioned in the listing :) I only kept 2 pairs as the others looked childish so I gave them to a neighbour's daughter :)

I also bought a 150g tub of divine smelling Palmer's Coconut Oil for my hair to revive it whenever it feels dry from the air conditioning at work for around €8 from ebay.  Speaking of re-hydration, I also bought a Nivea lip balm from a convenience store for €2 which makes my lips feel really soft and hydrated. P.S. I really think the packaging is quite cute :)

I needed a pair of thick-heeled shoes for my graduation thanks-giving mass later in November.  The reason why they want us to wear thick heels is because to cause no damage to the pavement of the Cathedral we will be in.  I managed to find this gorgeous pair from Peacocks for only €26.50; and while I was there, I couldn't pass up this cute girly boxer which was €4.50:

I also bought a wallet/clutch bag to match the shoes and a pair of earrings. Both of these were on sale for €6.50 and €3.25 respectively.

From Terranova, I bought three pairs of gym trousers which I need for when I work night shifts because they are much more comfortable than jeans.  These were €15.99 each.

I also bought this pair of tailored cropped trousers for €30.  I had been eyeing this sort of trousers but since I'm a shortie, I thought that they would make me look even shorter. However, these fit me perfectly and look fab with a pair of killer heels (the second picture shows the exact colour)!

I also managed to score this cute pair of flower flip-flops from Marks & Spencer which were on a 50% off sale for €12.50 and this stylish and oh-so-comfy pair of ballet flats from a massive 70% off warehouse sale from Next!

That's all for the month ladies! Quite a good haul I might say but I now have to sort out my priorities with graduation, my friend's wedding and the graduation ball coming up so I will only buy essentials now and save up for a treat later on :) In the meantime, I am still waiting for some nail polishes to be delivered but I will do a separate post for those :)

Which is your favourite item?

I need your help!

Hey guys I'm taking part in a local nail art competiton and I need to get the most votes till noon of the 1st November.  If you're up to it, I would really appreciate it if you head over to Essence Cosmetics Malta facebook page here and like my photo:

Thanks a lot in advance!

Mid-Week Beauty Masterclass: Bacteria in Cosmetic Counter Testers ~ What You Need To Know!

Good afternoon ladies :) Here's an interesting topic for this installment of the Mid-Week Beauty Masterclass... Bacteria in Cosmetic Counters!  In Malta, we do not have a lot of large shops that sell exclusively make-up like Sephora for example (in fact, the only one that comes to mind is Inglot) as we usually buy make-up from pharmacies and sometimes some stationers also sell a limited range and testers are not always available.  

Cosmetic Counters at Galleries Lafayette, Paris

However, in the larger shops and cosmetic counters, we all love to have a play with the skin-care and make-up product testers available as there is always something that catches our eyes. The irresistible displays and easily accessible tester units beckon you to try on a lipstick, foundation, concealer, eyeshadow, or moisturizer directly on your face. But you might want to think twice before doing that again because it may be riskier than you know!  

Our skin houses a number of commensal bacteria, such as species of the Staphylococcus genus, some of which may be termed opportunistic pathogens, meaning that they are capable of causing disease given the right conditions (for example, you get a cut and that makes it easy for the bacteria to gain access to the deeper skin tissues and cause infections). 

Coming to the think about it, it is quite easy to get an infection from cosmetic counter testers as that lipstick you have just put on, may have been already used by a lot more women with unknown hygiene/health issues (like pink eye or Herpes simplex).

While preservatives in cosmetics do a great job of reducing the risk of contamination, they only can do so much and they get less effective with time and exposure to numerous microbes from people. Plus, a product’s preservative stability isn’t tested for use by hundreds of users.

In your daily life you would not willingly share your own makeup and skin care with countless women you don’t know, but that is exactly what you are doing when you try on a cosmetic that’s open and available on the counter. It becomes even more problematic on a busy day as a tester is used repeatedly in a short period of time. When this occurs, the preservative system doesn’t have enough time to kill off the contaminants, and that leaves you vulnerable to picking up something you don’t want.

Thankfully, at some cosmetic counters there are salespeople and makeup artists who try very hard to be as sanitary as possible when helping women test products. But given how busy a cosmetic counter can become or if no salespeople are present (which happens quite a bit), or the person behind the counter isn’t well trained, sanitation efforts go right out the door.

While we know there are microbes running amok at the cosmetic counter, the real issue is what are the risks to you? Unfortunately no one knows. Theoretically, if someone with herpes just tried on that lipstick or lip gloss it could get transferred to you, same for getting pink eye from an eye liner pencil or mascara, but there just isn’t any data to reference one way or the other. Theory isn’t fact and there is no evidence anywhere that women are getting any sort of disease from cosmetic tester displays, but we know they’re not bastions of hygiene, either.

So, the real question here is 'do you have the pass up the cosmetic counters?' The answer is up to you but if you are not willing to, here are some tips for playing it safe:

~ Powder eyeshadows, pressed powders, loose powders, and powder blushes have the least risk of containing microbes because they contain ingredients bacteria, fungus, and molds don’t like, so they are probably the safest for you to play with. It can be helpful to scrape off some eyeshadow (you want to be the most cautious with your eyes) on to Kleenex and then apply it, but check with the salesperson first before you damage a company’s testers.

~ Lipsticks and lip glosses are problematic to trust, but for lipstick you can roll up the tube and take some color from the bottom. You can also ask the salesperson if they have alcohol spray so you can spray the top of the lipstick or the applicator for the lip gloss before you try it on. Be sure to allow several seconds for the alcohol to disinfect before applying the product to your lips.

~ Mascaras should never be tested at a cosmetic counter. The application and applicator makes it the riskiest item on the display unit. What about cosmetic counters that offer disposable, single-use brush applicators? They’re a nice touch, but you don’t know if the person before you double-dipped or, for whatever reason, didn’t have hygiene at the front of her mind.

~ Eye pencils are best tried on your hand, not your eyes. This especially applies to liquid eyeliners, which are almost always water-based. Used on multiple people, liquid eyeliners serve as a fertile breeding ground for bacteria.

~ Foundations should be tested on the side of the face away from the eyes and mouth to be the safest, but using a clean or disposable sponge is best of all so everyone keeps their fingers out of the product.

~ For concealer or any product in a tube, squeeze out a little amount on a Kleenex and discard. The contents at the top are the most likely to be contaminated. Next, squeeze out a bit more on a Kleenex and use that to test.

~ Skin-care products are best tested on your hands to judge the texture (you can’t tell efficacy with one application anyway so there is no benefit of putting it on your face or eye area), or ask the salesperson for a sample if available.

~ Brushes should be sprayed with alcohol before you use them. Wait for the brushes to dry before using them.

It would be ideal (though given the pervasiveness of jar packaging, not realistic) to test products whose containers kept fingers out of contact with the contents. Products packaged in airless containers or with pump or dropper applicators are safer than those housed in open-mouth jars.

Tester units at salons and spas which have far fewer traffic than department stores are a safer bet as well (though of course there are less brands and options to try on—but if you are just trying to judge color these can work great).

I hope you found this post interesting and of use ladies :) What do you think of cosmetic counters?

Make-Up Collection {Part 1 ~ Storage Cabinet & Face Products}

Hello loves :) I thought of sharing my make-up collection with you in a series of posts where I will divide the products in different categories.  I will also link the reviews to the different products so you would know which I have already reviewed and if you would like me to review any of the non-reviewed ones (if any) or  you simply want to know if I still like the product as much as when I initially bought it or if I have changed my mind about it or anything, just leave a comment down below :) 

I will start with face products today.  You will see that I as much as I love to collect make-up, I am not much of a hoarder in this regard as I just don't get the point of having say 10 peach blushes when you only have one face lol but that's just me! So don't expect a huge collection.  Also, my make-up is mostly drugstore with the occasional high-end product or two.

Anyway, first up are some pictures of the cabinet where I store all my make-up.  The cabinet is located in my room just under a half-length mirror and I apply my make-up standing up.  Mum & Dad had bought it for me after I had been complaining that I didn't have any more space to store all my make-up.  I quite like it being white and the drawers are all very spacious especially the wicker baskets.  Mum will however take off the flowery cloths and sew some out of left-over fabric from my curtains and bed-spread so that the cabinet matches my room more.  

Here's a quick rundown of how I store all my make-up in the cabinet, starting with the smaller drawers first...
In the first one, I mainly keep face products as well as some lip products while in the one beneath it, I keep my false eyelashes and other eye products.  In the third drawer, I keep all bits and bobs I use to tie my hair as well as fancy bobby pins etc and in the last one, I keep all my taller nail polishes such as China Glaze and Orly.

In the first wicker basket, I keep my brush-roll and other loose brushes in their covers as well as the brush shampoo and daily cleaner.  The second basket, houses all my eyeshadows while the third one, holds all my perfumes and some body lotions.  In the bottom-most one, I keep my Philips hair-dryer and New Look straighteners.  

On the top of the cabinet, I keep the brushes I use on a daily basis, basic make-up products I reach for most often and my hair brushes and deodorant.

That out of the way, I will let you have a nosey into my face products collection :P

So that's all of my face products collection ladies! Do we have any common products? Do you like these kind of posts?