Friday, March 11, 2016

The Body Shop 'Drops of Youth' 28 Day Challenge.

PR Samples

I was asked by the Body Shop PR if I'd be interested in trying out their 'Drops of Youth' range and trying their 28 day challenge and share my results... and I said yes. (though this is not in any way sponsored apart from receiving the PR samples)
According to the website, this range "tackles the first signs of aging" and apparently makes mince meat of fine lines and wrinkles BEFORE they get a chance to take form, read; PREVENTION rather than cure.
The science part stems from plant stem cells (pun intended) and the key words seem to be NOURISHING, HYDRATING & REFRESHING.
Now I have to say at the grand ol' age of 33 (34 next week o_0) I have very few lines or wrinkles on my face so far to speak of unless I'm super dehydrated, sick or hungover. (The last of which never happens anymore due to not drinking alcohol much anymore)
I do have expression lines around my eye area when I smile etc and the first signs of those pesky crows' feet, but nothing that has made me run down to my nearest botox-giving clinic quite yet.

I was sent the Youth Concentrate (€52.50 for 50ml) and the Youth Cream (€35 for 50ml) to try out**. The first being a serum (more-or-less) and the latter a moisturiser. There are a few other products in the range including an eye cream (€30.50 for 10ml), a mask (€33 for 90ml), an essence (pre-serum lotion €23.95 for 160ml) and a primer-like product called the 'Wonder Blur' (€26.95 for 30ml).
I am going to talk about the two products I was sent and tried out over the past month**. 

I am a skincare fanatic and love trying out new products that I am always convinced will totally revamp my skin (spoiler; they never do) and am a big nerd when it comes to ingredients, which I will always read before the products' claims, as I can learn more about the product from that list than from the brands' often over-inflated blurb. 
When it comes to these two products that I used every night for the past month, I have a love/hate relationship with them because of the ingredients.

I'll start with the Drops of Youth 'Youth Concentrate'...
This is a serum which is a viscous fluid that comes in a very attractive dropper bottle and a generous 50ml of product, though you are paying for the volume at €52.50 for the bottle.
It promises to enhance the surface of the skin by smoothing and moisturising, and contains 99% naturally originated ingredients. So far sounds so good, and it is a lovely serum to use. Feels lovely and hydrating when applied to freshly cleansed skin, soaks in very quickly and thanks to the various humectants and its other conditioning ingredients leaves the skin feeling plump and healthy looking.
So why the love/hate? 
Firstly because of the second ingredient which is pure alcohol. Named as Alcohol Denat on the list, this is the second most prevalent ingredient after water and while my face and skin tells me "We love this product", my knowledgeable brain tells me to run a mile because of the damaging alcohol. Secondly there are several fragrances included within the ingredients and natural or not these can prove problematic to sensitive skins and to all skin types over time with continuous use.
Back to the alcohol though, just because for me this really lets an otherwise lovely product down. 
I mean, I have been liking this enough that I even included it in my recent favourites video, BUT I just can't knowingly allow myself to continue to use a product so high in alcohol on a daily basis.
Alcohol is in most pharmacy and department store skincare products, I often spend hours trawling shelves trying to find products that don't contain alcohol in high doses but it honestly is very damaging in the long term to use these products daily. A little alcohol very low down in an ingredient list is okay with me, or if it is high up on the list but in a product that I might only use once a week or fortnight then I'm *kind of* okay with it; BUT high doses of alcohol applied to the skin daily over a long time will cause more damage than good. It is extremely drying firstly, which just fights against the hydrating ingredients in the rest of the product, but over time it will also break down the structure of the skin by damaging healthy cells and actually causing more wrinkles and fine lines. So for me it is something I choose to avoid in skincare as much as I can. 
Anyhow, rant over. But now you all know how I feel about that!

What's left in the jar after a month of daily use.

The Drops of Youth 'Youth Cream' is described as a "youth enhancing" moisturising cream.
This again works on the idea of these plant stem cells and their "regenerative powers"... and again  comes across as a really lovely, hydrating cream. It has a lovely texture that is described as velvety, and I have to agree it's a pretty darn good word for it. Very smooth and moisturising without being greasy or heavy. Over time this cream claims to reduce the appearance of the pore size, refine skin texture, minimise the appearance of fine lines and add a luminosity to the skin. 
I chose to use this as my night cream throughout the trial as it has no sun protection factor in it and unless I'm in significant sun, I rely on my moisturiser for my SPF. I can't say a bad thing about how this applied and felt on the skin. Like the serum, I really truly enjoyed this and think it did add a visible "bounce" and freshness to the skin. HOWEVER, as with the concentrate/serum, it had alcohol very high up in the ingredients. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the cream is doing more good than harm to the skin because of how lovely a product it acts but again it's just a personal decision of mine not to knowingly use any product that has high levels of alcohol in it on the daily. 
This without the alcohol however, and maybe a bit less fragrance, would be a near-on perfect cream so it really is a shame it contains as much as it does. 

Below are a series of pictures documenting my skin, starting on day one of the challenge, roughly half way through the month and finally at the 35 day mark.
The very last picture shows my day one face beside my day 35 face for an up-close comparison of the 'before & after'. Please do note however that I consciously did not consider my cheek acne in this trial as it coincided with me coming off the pill which had caused me to develop acne and this acne is clearing up on it's own thanks to the absence of those foreign hormones.
Scroll on down to see what the results, and difference if any, was...



For me there is a subtle difference in my skin between day one and day 35 after once-a-day use of the serum and cream. In both pictures my skin is clean and un-moisturised, so no product is present at all on my skin. On day 1 my skin has superficial dehydration lines visible on the forehead in particular and has a matte look to it. In the 'after' picture on the right, my skin looks a lot more luminous and fresh, just more bright and hydrated looking. Plus the dehydration lines on my forehead look less prominent despite not having any moisturiser etc applied. 

Despite my little hissy-fit earlier about the alcohol content, it is very hard not to sing these two products praises as the results do seem to speak for themselves. As I said, I won't continue to use these on a daily basis but I probably will keep them to use every now and again which says a lot as I generally have a much more zero tolerance approach to products that contain alcohol so high up in the ingredients. I am well and truly torn by this range.
I am very tempted now as well to pick up the eye cream sometime in the future as that thankfully is alcohol free which is a MUST for me for the delicate eye area.

What do you guys think of the range? Can you notice the difference in my skin in the 'before & after' photo?
I'm very interested to hear other opinions on this in general.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The BALM Cosmetics; Brand Focus.

PR Samples

The Balm Cosmetics is a makeup brand that I have long heard about but only just recently became acquainted with. As far as I knew (which was little) they were solely a makeup brand but I have since learned that they also do skin care, hair care and nail polishes... so there ya go!    
Last year I got the 'Nude Tude' eyeshadow palette in a goodie bag and fell in love with it. The shadows are extremely pigmented, creamy and very blendable. Major thumbs up! I did a makeup tutorial using the palette shortly after which ye can see here...
Since receiving that palette I was itching to try more but have been limiting my makeup purchases to kit essentials over the past few months and hadn't gotten around to picking any more of their products up, so I was super excited to have been contacted by the brands' PR and shortly after sent a selection of their products to try out!

So here's a run down of the bits I received with swatches and what I think of them thus far.
(Please note that in my video I was quoting prices from but here I will quote prices from as they are a lot more affordable there!)

We'll begin with lips...

(AKA Read my Lips)

These glosses come in 11 shades. They are nicely pigmented and creamy with the usual tacky gloss texture but very opaque and comfortable on the lips. I was sent 'Pow' a gorge intense pink, 'Bam' a very wearable, neutral rosy nude and 'Boom' a deep wine burgundy shade. Great shade names and great packaging!
These guys come in at €14.50 each on the Debenhams website. A lot more affordable than the full price of €17.61 on

MEET MATT(E) HUGHES Liquid Lipsticks.

The liquid lippies come in a total of 8 shades and will set you back €15.50 on the Debenhams website. I'll fess up and admit I'm not the greatest connoisseur of liquid lipsticks. I have the Bourjois ones which I love but that's about it (I think)! I have tried others but haven't gone as far as starting up a collection of any size. These seems like really nice products though... the formula is very creamy and opaque. They feel very comfortable on for a good 5-6 hours before it shrivels up on my lips anyhow! I have tried these with and without primer, and with and without pencil. I think primer is a must for prolonged comfort but lip pencil could be skipped if you want, however I still prefer to apply over pencil for the perfect shape. And you can absolutely simply apply the lipstick directly to the lips using the doe-foot applicator but I prefer to use a lip brush for precision. 
I have 'Loyal' a deep blue based red and 'Committed', a rosy/mauve toned nude. Both are fab on and I'm struggling to favour one over the other.

The BALM GIRLS Lipstick.

There are 6 shades of these lipsticks available at a cost of €15.50 again on compared to a whopping €19.01 on Asos.  I was sent 'Mai Billsbepaid' (I'll admit, took me a minute to figure out the pronunciation), this is a gorgeous mauve toned nude which seems to have a satin finish and a hydrating formula. It has quite good colour pay-off but does have some transparency to the finish. All-in-all a really nice lipstick, though maybe nothing particularly special to write home about. 


'Hot Mama' is definitely one of The Balm's iconic products that I had heard loads about from other bloggers etc. I think it's supposed to be a decent dupe to NARS 'Orgasm' blush. It also reminds me of MACs' 'Peachykeen' blush or Benefits 'Coralista'. It's a golden peach/orange toned blush with a frost finish. Lovely for tanned or sallow complexions as a blush or as a highlight on deep skintones.
This costs €17.00 on Debenhams compared to €21 on Asos.
'CabanaBoy' Blush is a gorgeous cranberry toned, satin/matte finish, blush available for €18.00 on Debenhams. (doesn't seem to be on Asos at the minute).
I personally adore cooler tones like this for my own skin colour/tone and prefer the matte finish due to the annoying texture on my cheeks at the minute thanks to localised acne outbreak.


The Mac Daddy of all highlighters, I was more than happy to finally get my grubby mitts on this beautiful golden powder. The 'Mary-lou Manizer' has definitely reached iconic status among makeup lovers worldwide and for good reason... it is a serious mega-watt highlighter! 
This will set you back €20.50 (Debenhams) or €24.65 (Asos)
Its golden tone suits most light to medium skin tones and it can be used for multiple effects on the eyes and face. When I first ever swatched this in the Makeup Forever store in Dublin, I noticed how un-powdery it felt! It almost seems like it contains oil or something that gives it a creamy texture. I think this may be down to some wax contained within the ingredients. It's not necessarily a complaint as it really helps with skin adhesion and longevity, but it's just a little unfamiliar as a face powder. It actually kind of reminds me of the texture of the Sleek Makeup eyeshadows.  

NUDE DUDE VOL. 2 EyeShadow Paltte.

As I mentioned above, I am a big fan of the 'Nude Tude' palette so even before swatching the shadows in the 'Nude Dude' Vol. 2 palette I knew I would like them in texture etc... and I was right. It's the exact same quality of product as in the other palette. The palette contains 12 highly pigmented shades with a mix of mattes and shimmers. The six shades on the left of the palette are warm and in the golden family, while the six on the right half are pinky/purple and deep in tone. The mattes are smooth and easily blended with some powdery fall-out but nothing worrying, and the shimmer shades have amazing colour pay-off and skin adhesion which can be seen in the swatches below which are on clean, un-primed skin.

MEET MATT(E) NUDE Eyeshadow Palette.

Another stand-out product for me among the lot, the 'Meet Matte Nude' palette is decent mix of warm and cool matte neutral shadows. There are 9 shades with generous sized pans in the palette and it will set you back €43.00 on and a hefty €52.82 on Asos.
Despite the expected minor fall-out when the pan is disturbed by a brush, this doesn't cause much mess on the face in terms of fall-out and the texture of these mattes is just lovely. Very smooth and blendable. Decent over clean skin but very pigmented over eyeshadow primer as is obvious in the swatch picture below. Highly recommend this palette!

SCHWING Liquid Liner.

The final product today is the 'Schwing' liquid liner. €15.50 on Debenhams and a reasonable €16.90 on Asos considering.
This is a lovely intense black matte eyeliner with a rigid nib. I am usually not the biggest fan of these types of nibs and while I don't love this one, I do greatly prefer it to others that I've tried as it is very fine at the tip, allowing for greater precision. 
A very decent liquid eyeliner, though no better than the NYX Collection Noir Eyeliner or the Bourjois 16hr Liquid Liner. 

Over all I am very impressed with what I have tried of the brand so far and for the purposed of this post I am giving the brand a strong 4.5/5. This is also boosted thanks to the gorgeous and tastefully playful kitch packaging... a vintage-aesthetic lovers dream!

Let me know what from the brand do you Guys love and what not so much.

Laters for now!