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October Collective Haul and Birthday Gifts

October has been really good to me just because it is my birthday month :D I will start this haul post by sharing the gifts I got with you. First and foremost, I am now the proud owner of a Michael Kors rose gold watch thanks to Johan :) I had it adjusted and have been wearing it ever since!
I subsequently bought a pair of rose gold earrings to match from 202 Jewellery's Viventy range. I had €160 worth of vouchers and I only added €29 to buy them. They are really classy and original with shiny and matte detailing and intricate work. The middle part is covered in tiny zircons.

Another birthday treat I bought for myself are these two pairs of Mango jeans. I have already worn both of them and I'm in love with the fit! Originally, the boyfriend jeans cost €49.99 and the pink ones cost €39.99. They are both part of the new collection but since I have a 5% off discount card, I ended up paying €47.49 and €37.99 respectively. 
My mum and dad had already bought me some shoes as early birthday presents but they still treated me to this lipstick and lipgloss combination from Marks and Spencer Limited Collection make-up line. The lipstick is in the shade Grape and the gloss is in the shade Wine. The lipgloss actually reminds me of China Glaze Awakening with its gold reflects.
My brother was nice enough to buy me The Body Shop Brazil Nut Beautifying Oil that had been on my wishlist ever since it came out. Thanks bro! Lastly, my aunt bought me this cute butterfly necklace while she was on holiday in Sicily :)

I was in Peacocks with Mum the other day and this Fair Isle print dress caught my eyes. I have already planned a few outfit combinations with is as the centre piece so I just hope it gets just enough cold so I can wear it. The price was €25.50.

More clothes from one of my favourite shops, Stradivarius. I fear going into any of their stores because I know I won't leave empty handed! I bought two cable knit jumpers in neutral colours that just go with everything even though I wonder when I'll get the chance to wear them with all the sun we are still getting (mind you, I'm not at all complaining!). I also bought a pair of petrol blue skinny jeans. I love their coloured denim range because the colours never fade and still look pristine wear after wear! All of these three items were priced €25.95 but I paid €24.65 with a discount card. The last purchase from Stradivarius is this pair of houndstooth print pants. At first I though they were leggings but upon closer inspection, the material is thicker. I already have an event in mind where I could wear these to along with the top I'll be pairing them with. I paid €12.30 for them.

Moving on to some essentials, I have finally caved and bought the Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot (€13.50) treatment just because I got a nasty looking zit on my chin. I am impressed with the action of this product and you can check out my more in-depth review here. I also bought the Catrice Camouflage Cream in their lightest shade, namely, 010 Ivory for €3.40. I really like the way it conceals just about everything and stays put all day, you can read the full review here.

Avon came out with this new mascara called Mega Effects and when I saw it for the first time in Look Magazine, I was instantly intrigued by the gadget-like packaging...a girl loves her gadgets too, no? The reason I bought it from Ebay is because to buy Avon in Malta, you have to spend a certain amount. I paid £6.99 including shipping from a Polish seller.

That is all from my part for this month! I am still waiting to receive some other items which I bought online so I guess I'll have to feature them in next month's haul :)

The Exit Interview Series | Volume #25

Just like last month, I have lots of empties once again so let's get right into it! The first product I finished is this Rimmel London powder blush in the shade 004 Pink Rose. It is my preferred everyday blush because of its rosy colour and just a teeny weeny bit of shimmer that easily goes unnoticed. It has a silky texture and lasts the whole day. A definite repurchase. Another makeup product which by now you all know I love is the Essence Stay Natural Concealer which I always repurchase over and over again!
Next I have this cheap shampoo which I bought to wash my brushes with. I used to buy the one from E.L.F. but I think it's rather expensive considering regular hair shampoo does the same job so I am sticking to that. This one in particular has a very faint floral like scent and does the job really well. The bristles feel soft to the touch afterwards and it lathers up nicely and no traces of makeup are left on the brushes/sponges/tools.

I have used up another bottle of the Lidl acetone-free polish remover. I just can't get over how effective this is at removing polish in an instant. Not to mention the ultra handy pump dispenser which is great even to dip brushes in it for cleaning cuticles etc. Backup already purchased! The same goes for Impulse deodorant.
Moving on, I have some skin care products. Again, another Dermalogica sample, this time it is the Redness Relief SPF20. I used this just once after I applied a face mask that didn't agree with my skin  and left me with red patches all over my face. The redness disappeared in a matter of seconds and my skin looked really even in tone. I definitely recommend this and I am thinking of buying the range myself.

The next skin care product which I thoroughly enjoyed using is the Lierac Paris Gommage Douceur. It is basically a creamy exfoliating scrub and I really enjoyed having good skin days each time I used this wonder product. It never broke me out and it removes dead skin effectively. On a side note, I will be attending the official launch for Lierac products tonight so stay tuned for an event post :)
Moving on to the 'bad' skincare product, Good Things Total Wipe Out Cleansing Wipes. I know a lot of people swear by this brand, hence I decided to give these wipes a go. I have only used them once on my face and the next morning I woke up with puffy eyes I could barely open and two humungous zits on my left cheek. I ended up using them to wipe away swatches from my hand just to not let them go to waste. I will most definitely not repurchase but there is one thing I like about them; the size and material of the cloth. It feels very strong and one wipe is enough to remove a full face of makeup.
Montagne Jeunesse Blemish Mud is a common appearance in this kind of posts because it is one of those masks that I buy over and over again...enough said. Then I have these collagen eye patches which I bought from Ebay the other month. They fit comfortably and they are single use but for the price they seem to do a good job. Would repurchase because they feel like a nice treat!

Monthly Favourites | October

Which products did I enjoy the most during October? Read on to find out!

First up is a new product which I have had for some time but I only got to use it now. I am speaking of NYX Eye/Eyebrow Pencil in the shade 940 Black Glitter. I don't see myself using this on my brows but it is a nice alternative to the usual black eye pencil for special occasions because it has a good glitter payoff. I have been using this for the various events I was invited to this month for a fun yet subtle change. I like the pigmentation and staying power so thumbs up NYX!

Whenever I want neutral eye makeup, I tend to reach for brown shades, especially during the day. My favourite eye pencils are both from Catrice and they are the Kajal Designer 150 Up&Brown&Up&Brown... and the Long Lasting Eye Liner Pen Stay On! 070 Puddle of Mudd. The Kajal Designer has proven to be a favourite to create a subtle smoky look like we learnt during the Biocare Makeup Workshop (read all about it here) because it is very easy to blend due to its creamy texture.
Another product I have to share with you is the Catrice Camouflage Cream. I had wanted to purchase this for a long time, then Davinia's review came along and totally convinced me to get this and I think it was the best €3.40 I have ever spent! The creamy consistency is comparable to that of the NYX Concealer in a Jar but it is less thick. I mainly use this to conceal minor skin imperfections and it lasts all day without fading or budging. I am in the shade 010 Ivory which matches my skin tone perfectly.
Speaking of skin imperfections, another favourite product this month is the Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot which is a targeted corrector for pimples with the intention of leaving no scars whatsoever on your skin. It is a clear gel which you can use under makeup if you like as it forms a barrier over the imperfection and heals it quite rapidly. If you have read my review, you would know I think it is one of the best skin care products I have ever tried.

The Body Shop never fail to amaze me with their products and the Brazil Nut Beautifying Oil is no exception. It leaves the skin silky smooth and I like to use it after a shower to lock in moisture. The smell is divine and it has fast become a staple product in my stash!
Next up is a hair product. I have very fine hair that gets oily very easy depending on what products I use to style it etc; so when I got this Schwarzkopf Bonacure Hair Therapy Oil Miracle in my goodie bag from the Dean Gera Hair Care opening event, I was very sceptical on using this on my own hair for fear that it will turn oily overnight. However, after seeing Steph's review and experience with this product, I decided to give it a go. Why didn't I try it before??? It left my hair super soft and manageable and gave me much better results when I straightened my hair!

Two new favourite hair products are the Philip Kingsley Moisture Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner. I only have these in sample size (quite generous I have to say) since they were given to me at the Philip Kingsley launch last week. I have only used them a couple of times so far and I have already seen a difference in the way my hair looks and feels. I have some products on my wishlist from the brand and I can't wait till I am able to buy them!

More beauty favourites, I have three lip products, namely M&S Limited Collection Lipstick in Grape and Lipgloss in Wine and NYX Lipstick LSS619 Flower. They all feel very moisturising on the lips and I like to pair the two M&S products for a shimmery plum lip.

My favourite blush this month has to be Essence Souffle Touch Blush in the shade 030 Cold Wildberry which gives me a nice, healthy pink tone on my cheeks. It blends nicely with my skin and I find that the best brush to apply it with is the E.L.F. Studio Small Stipple Brush.
This month I also have a non-beauty favourite. I think most of you would have guessed it's the Michael Kors watch Johan gave me for my birthday :) I love it and I wear it almost everyday!

So that's it for my October favourites ladies :) Any new products you liked trying out during the first Autumn month?

Review | Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot

Apart from those blessed with naturally clear skin, who doesn't want a fast-acting skin clearing product to combat spots without leaving marks? Ladies, I have BIG news for I have found such a miracle product! Enter Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot. 
I have had my eyes on this product for far too long but I was scared to try it because I have had an allergic reaction to a Vichy product in the past. However, seeing it featured in Glamour's October issue, I was once more very tempted to try it, hence I went to my nearest pharmacy and bought this miracle worker.
It comes in a carton box with information about the product in various languages, the English translation of which is included on an insert in the box. The actual packaging is a very simple white plastic tube that contains 15mL of product. The green cap comes off just by unscrewing it and you are greeted with a silver coloured angled applicator through which the product comes out.   

The product is actually a clear gel-like ointment that you apply morning and evening to the affected area via the silver applicator which feels very cool and refreshing on the skin. However, I prefer to use clean fingers to apply it so as not to contaminate the applicator (hence the product) as a pimple is essentially an infection.

It feels nice on the skin and it acts like a plaster by forming an invisible film to protect and insulate the affected area hence preventing it from worsening. The product has what Vichy call 'Plaster Technology' because it acts just like a plaster with the added benefit of it being anti-bacterial. It contains Hyaluronic acid (found in the vast majority of acne-targeting products) as well as Salicylic Acid and highly dosed LHA to act against imperfection-causing bacteria. The product is dermatologically tested, suitable for sensitive skin (always a big plus for me), paraben free and non-comedogenic.

I have been using Normaderm Hyaluspot ever since on break-outs and I can confirm that it acts really rapidly because spots only last 2 or 3 days on my skin and they clear up without leaving any nasty marks as opposed to before where they took 5 to 7 days to heal completely and still, marks would take longer. I noticed that the redness subsides as well and the spot only diminishes in size. To really test the product out, I have also applied it on a little scar that was gradually fading away and I did see an improvement in the rate it is fading. On a side note, I have never developed an allergic reaction while using the product.

Since the product has a light texture, I even like to apply it under makeup (if I am wearing any), however, I always make sure to use just a little, otherwise it will flake over time and we all know concealer and foundation laden dry skin bits are not a good look!

To sum up, this product is a must-have to anyone who struggles with breakouts and acne scars. The results will be worth it!

Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot is available in leading pharmacies and retails for €13.50 for 15mL of product. 

Event | Philip Kingsley London Lauch

Image courtesy of Philip Kingsley Malta
Backed by 60 years of Trichological experience, Philip Kingsley, the man who saved Audrey Hepburn's hair back in 1974 and coined the phrase 'bad-hair day', went on to establish a high-end hair care brand that is now also accessible on the local market thanks to Liberty Business Culture (who also have Biocare Academy).

Us bloggers were cordially invited to be a part of it all at yesterday's official launch. To be honest I have never heard of the brand before but when Roberta, their Marketing Coordinator was briefing us a little about the brand (during a previous event) and mentioned Audrey Hepburn's name, I knew this brand was something to look out for!
The launch event consisted of a presentation and demonstration (aimed specifically for the hairdressers in attendance, during which I got very jealous of the model which was receiving a very relaxing head massage), both of which were excellently delivered by Ms. Lisa Elizabeth Caddy, UK Sales Manager & International Trainer for Philip Kingsley.
Ms. Lisa Eliszbeth Caddy briefing us about the brand
What intrigued me the most about this brand is that it is mostly based on Trichology, a branch of Dermatology (study of the skin) that is concerned with the study of the scalp and hair in both health and disease.
Let's face it...we have all experienced the psychological boost a fresh hair do gives us and like our skin, healthy hair is the result of a healthy scalp! Here is some information about the Philip Kingsley brand and the man behind it.
Philip Kingsley range of shampoos. Image courtesy of Philip Kingsley Malta
Philip Kingsley products have been launched in 1997 and can be found in 22 countries worldwide. They have Trichological clinics in Mayfair, London and in Manhattan, New York where both medical and cosmetic issues are dealt with by fully qualified Trichologists. Philip Kingsley himself is a practicing Trichological consultant himself since 1957. Trichologists study nutrition, dermatology, physiology, genetics, cosmetic science and endocrinology (hormone studies) to be able to deal with clients experiencing any type of hair loss or scalp problems as well as treating other hair problems such as chemical damage. The brand insists on honest and ethical consultation to ensure the right diagnosis and treatment. 
The Philip Kingsley approach to formulating the right hair products is based on hair textures and they formulate products for Fine, Medium, Coarse and African-Caribbean hair types. All Philip Kingsley products contain UV sunscreen and are free of colouring agents. Although the products are not organic, they strive to using the ingredients in their most natural state and they only go in there if they are backed by scientific research that they actually do something to help the hair and scalp look and feel healthy. The brand promises immediate results and long term benefits when using the right products for your hair type.
They have an extensive range of products, the most popular of which is probably the pre-shampoo conditioner, Elasticizer which was developed for Audrey Hepburn to help her keep her hair in tip-top condition while filming movies. The brand boasts numerous awards and whenever their products are featured in media, they always get the highest ratings. Is it any wonder Mr. Kingsley has been called 'The Hair Doctor' and 'The Hair Guru' by The Times and The New York Times respectively?
I have fine hair and I am really interested in trying a few products from this brand. The ones that interest me the most are the Elasticizer, Body Building Shampoo & Conditioner and the Scalp Toner. For now, I will get through the Moisture Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner samples that they kindly gave us at the end of the event before we headed down for some refreshments!

So thank you Liberty Business Culture for inviting us for yet another interesting event! For more information on the products and stockists, check out the local Facebook page here or the Philip Kingsley website.

Review | Orly Bonder

Today I will be reviewing Orly Bonder which has been an indispensable product in my kit ever since I tried for the first time.
Orly Bonder is a rubberised basecoat which promotes nail polish adhesion for longer-lasting manicures. It comes in an 18mL bottle featuring Orly's rubberised grip cap and like all nail treatments from the brand, it comes in a carton box with an open front window. I'm a big fan of the grip cap because it makes for a steady application and I must admit that I prefer the new one to the old one.
The polish has a light orange tint which doesn't really show up on the nails. However, it did stain my nails orange just a little after using it for the first time so I prefer to apply this over another basecoat such as Orly Nailtrition and that seems to work for me. It smells just like other polishes would and the brush is the right size to work on any nail bed. It dries quickly to a matte finish that actually feels rubbery.
As for it's performance, I find that my manicures do last longer when I use this product than when I don't so I guess it really does work. Just one coat is enough to achieve the desired rubberised effect so the product is sure to last you a long time.

I would recommend Orly Bonder to anyone who wants to achieve longer lasting manicures at home...and who doesn't?!

Review | Catrice Camouflage Cream 010 Ivory

A good concealer is a must have for flawless looking skin. You know how much I love the Essence Stay Natural Concealer for my under-eyes as it does the job and doesn't feel heavy at all. However, when it comes to redness and zits, it doesn't seem to counteract such problematic areas that well so I tend to reach for the NYX Concealer in a Jar in the shade CJ12 Green but I always use this when wearing foundation because the light green tinge can still be visible so for me it's not good for everyday use as I do not wear foundation everyday.
I wanted a concealer that I can use on problem areas, conceal/correct them effectively and that blends well with my skin and only needs to be set with powder. Enter Catrice Camouflage Cream which has been on my wishlist for a while and I was convinced to get it after I read Davinia's review on her blog Lady With No Name.
Catrice Camouflage Cream comes in a black plastic pot featuring a screw-on cap with a transparent window bearing the brand's logo and product name. The shade name and number are printed on a sticker at the bottom. While I think the packaging is very sleek and pro-looking, I don't think it is very sanitary especially if you tend to apply makeup with your fingers. I always recommend using brushes for a more professional result and to keep makeup clean and free from bacteria. To apply this, I use a small concealer brush.

I chose the shade 010 Ivory which is the lightest out of the three available and luckily for me it was the last one on the stand at the pharmacy I bought it from. I'm glad they had testers available and I was able to swatch shade 020 Light Beige as well to see which one of the two suited me best. I swatched both of them on my jawline and waited for a few minutes while I browsed for other products I needed. I then looked in a mirror to see if any of them was visible. When I first applied them, both shades were undetectable but upon time passing, shade 020 kind of oxidised on me and turned to a darker shade while 010 was completely invisible so my choice was obvious.

The product has a thick, creamy texture which is easy to blend and allows you enough time to work with it before it 'dries'. It is odourless and I like that it lasts so long even without setting it with powder. I do recommend you set it though because it lasts that extra bit longer and the skin looks nicer; I was only testing it out for the purpose of this review when I didn't set it.

The one time I didn't like this concealer is when I tried it under my eyes. It felt quite heavy and it sort of clumps after some time so I will be sticking with the Essence one for this area.

I paid €3.49 for 3g of product and I would recommend this to anyone who wants
 a good concealer that won't break the bank and will last for a long time.

Catrice Cosmetics are available from various pharmacies around Malta and Gozo.

Event | Personal Make Up Workshop at Biocare Academy

Opening my mail inbox to beauty related event invites always makes my day! The day when I received an invite from the ever so sweet Roberta on behalf of Biocare Academy to attend a personal makeup workshop, was no exception. Yes, such things make me happy :)
I was really looking forward to this event because it is something different from the other events we are used to, plus a makeup workshop with the uber talented makeup artist and educator Jean Pillow is something I did not want to miss!
The staff at the academy are always a pleasure to meet and they always greet us with a smile (and tasty nibbles and a glass or two of Prosecco wine)! I'm in love with their premises and we got to spend an entire three hours in their 'makeup studio'! Marija from all things lady was Jean's volunteer for the night and I think my fellow bloggers will agree that the makes for a good model and Jean worked her magic perfectly! Here are pictures and some tips I picked up during the workshop, which in my opinion was highly educational while being fun at the same time...we even got to apply our makeup in the end! You will see by the end of the post that makeup doesn't have to be for special occasions only, all you need is an extra 30 minutes max in the morning to give yourself a more polished look!

- Always start with clean skin. Well-cared for skin will help makeup look better and last longer. Here Jean is using Eva Garden Makeup Removing Tissues to cleanse Marija's face.

- The best way to ensure that you do not have a lot of product on your face to use your hand as a palette and blend the product before actually applying it.
- Patting motions always work best to blend the product into the skin and build up coverage as needed. It will also help makeup last longer.

- A primer base is a must to fill superficial wrinkles and lines and to even out your skin. It will also help the makeup last longer.
- Applying concealer with a brush is your best bet to make sure you cover up dark circles and blemishes well.
- To effectively conceal dark circles, it is best to avoid a light concealer and go for a more orange based one instead. The reasoning behind this is that purple (the under tone for dark circles), is exactly opposite orange on the colour wheel, hence the latter will counteract dark circles more effectively. 
- A dirty green concealer is specifically targeted to counteract redness (same reasoning as above).
- When it comes to finding the right foundation, everyone knows that your best bet is to try it on in white light or better yet, sunlight. However, did you know that it is best to check whether the shade matches your skin tone is to try the foundation on a protruding area of the face such as your cheekbones? This is so as such parts of our face catch more light and hence it easier to see how well a foundation matches your skin. You know it's a good match when you can't tell where the foundation starts and ends!

- Patting motions are your best to avoid looking cakey or putting on too much foundation. The trick is to use a latex sponge and make it act like a container for your foundation and gently press it against your face with your index finger (to bring the product out) while holding it with your thumb and middle fingers. This will also guarantee a perfect coverage while still looking natural. 

- There is no need to wet the sponge unless you are using a thick foundation such as the ones used for theatrical purposes.

- Setting cream products with powder ensures your makeup looks flawless, stays longer and gives your skin a matte finish.

- For eyes, start by contouring and shaping the eyes with a creamy eye pencil. Start by assessing your natural shape and decide if you want to extend your eyes or make them look smaller. The aim is to get your eyes to resemble an almond shape which is the 'perfect' shape for makeup.
- It is important to use a creamy eye pencil formula to allow easy blending with a stiff, small angled brush. Always blend towards the inner part of the eyes. and correct any mistakes with a cotton bud.
- To set the pencil, you can opt for a dark colour for a more intense look or else, go for another colour. During our lesson, green and red were used for a contrasting, fashionable look.
- When highlighting brows, avoid shimmery shadows if you have prominent brows as they will over take the whole eye look. Use a light matte shade instead.
Marija, happy with her makeup :)

We decided to skip the lipstick application and try the look ourselves with different colour combinations. Jean was there every step of the way to guide us and help us with any problems or queries. During the demonstration we even had the opportunity to try and feel the products to see which ones we like and think work best for us. We were even each given a face chart to jot down the products we used. Here are pictures of some products we used:

Eva Garden Extreme Loose Powder Transparent

Eva Garden Creamy Concealers 606, 607 and 608

As you can tell, the makeup used was all Eva Garden of which I was very impressed and I have already included some products in my wish list to get when I run out of the current products I am using. It is a very professional line with a wide range of products and prices are comparable to middle of the range brands.

All of their products are mineral based and hypoallergenic and I was really glad I didn't break out over night! Even the Makeup Remover Tissues felt nice and didn't cause any stinging.

Last but not least, every time we go to the Biocare premises, they never let use leave empty-handed! Jean chose a nice nail polish for each of us, each in dark colours to complement winter's darker colour palette. I was given shade 696 which is a beautiful metallic mallard green. I am thinking of some nail design to use the polish in for my next manicure!

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience and I feel I learnt a lot of new tips and tricks for makeup application, so thank you Biocare Academy, Roberta and Jean for hosting us!