Inside my make-up drawer: Benefit “That Gal” brightening face primer

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

Benefit "That Gal" Benefit "That Gal"

Benefit “That Gal” brightening face primer 11ml/£22.50

Benefit says: ‘Our silky pink primer takes your complexion from dull to darling! Simply blend it on for the look of brighter, smoother skin. Contains light-reflecting pigments to help brighten all skin tones and raspberry & camomile to soothe skin.’

I honestly think this product solidified my love of Benefit. It’s one of my favourite primers and I was gutted when it ran out a couple of weeks ago. I wore it just about every day from purchasing it in February until it eventually ran out in July. That’s not a bad life for 11ml! My skin has been acting up horrendously recently, but this product covered any bumps or spots naturally and it really did soothe my angry skin.

I applied it all over my face using a flat foundation brush from a small dollop on the back of my hand. It’s a twist application to get the primer and I found I only need a couple of twists to get enough to provide a light, even coverage. It went on easily (novice here remember) and it minimised any natural shine or blemishes with a soft, dainty glow. Exactly the look I prefer! I rarely wore blusher with this product unless I was going out in the evening to play up the healthy glow. My foundation powder applied evenly on top of the primer and I felt like it provided a substantial coverage throughout the day at work or at uni.

Another thing I loved about this product was the smell. It’s delightful, like strawberries and cream! It always put a smile on my face in the morning and made me feel ready to face any challenges that might appear.

If you’re looking for a spring/summer primer or one to add a soft feminine finish to your make-up, then I would highly recommend this product. I know it’s not the cheapest primer option, but the price is justified (at least to me) by the long-levity of the product. I would definitely consider buying this again next spring/summer (or once my current tube of POREfessional (see this review) runs out).

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 5/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Have you used this primer? Comment below with your thoughts or if you have any other primers that you would recommend!

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Inside my make-up drawer: Benefit How To Look The Best At Everything in Light

Inside my make-up drawer

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

I know I’ve promised to continue with my product reviews for a couple of months and I’ve finally found the time to get around to it! I’ve fully moved back home and the unpacking is nearly all complete. The past fortnight has been pretty busy as I’ve had to integrate two bedrooms into one, pack for and attend the Isle of Wight Festival (amazing!) and completed another week of primary school placement. The next few weeks before I start my summer job are going to be spent revising for and sitting my skills tests, catching up with friends and family, and I fully intend to blog more frequently!

Benefit How to Look the Best at Everything

Benefit How To Look The Best At Everything in Light £25.50 – Flawless Complexion Makeup Kit

Benefit says: ‘We wrote the book on complexion perfection! Our custom perfectors give you a luminous complexion by blending away imperfections and minimising the appearance of pores. You’ll be the first to finish flawless.’

I bought this set back in January and I loved it immediately. At the time I wanted to try Benefit’s Boi-ing, which is £17.50 on its own, and I was intrigued by their primer. This kit seemed like the ideal buy as it contained two shades of Boi-ing, a primer, and both liquid and powder foundations, for an additional £7 instead of one concealer. It’s a handy size for travel and comes with a mirror in the lid, hidden behind the ‘Tips and Tricks’ information. For a make-up novice like myself, this was incredibly useful as I got use to the products. The packaging is really cute – the picture above shows the front of the box containing the products and the back of the packaging for the box. It might seem a tad excessive and wasteful but it stops them being sampled in store and looks adorable. I’m not going to lie, the fact that it looked like a book appealed to my bookworm nature and it isn’t too big for overnight trips etc as you don’t to lug around other products. I’m going to do a mini review for each of the products which feature in the kit and link each one to its full size version on the Benefit website.

Benefit How to Look the Best at Everything

Benefit How to Look the Best at Everything

The POREfessional PRO balm (Primer) – This retails at £24.50 in full size (22ml). The mini size featured in this kit is 7.5ml. I imagine you would still get a substantial amount of use out of this size given how little product you need to get full coverage. The website claims its translucent, but when you squeeze it out onto your fingertips or back of the hand to apply, it looks like tinted moisturiser. As it’s a small tube, I found it difficult to gauge the correct amount needed for full coverage. I did like this product and it did minimise the appearance of pores in my face. I would either wear this on its own if my skin was behaving itself, or underneath one of the foundations.

  • Coverage: 4/5
  • Application life: 4/5
  • Ease of application: 3/5

Hello Flawless Oxygen WOW! Ivory “I’m pure 4 sure” (liquid foundation) – The 30ml bottle retails at £26.50. The mini size is 7ml and like the POREfessional it would last long enough to justify the set as you don’t need a great deal to get decent coverage. It matches my pale skin tone nicely and the pump applicator makes it easier to get the right amount each time. I haven’t used this as much as other products in the kit, as I have been using my MAC foundation or the foundation powder in the set. However, this product is lovely with a primer underneath. Without the primer my skin felt dry, even if I moisturised etc beforehand. As I said, the coverage was good and it seemed to last all day.

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 4/5
  • Ease of application: 5/5

Boi-ing 01 and 02 (concealer) – By far the best thing in the kit. They are half the size of the individual products. I have used 01 fairly regularly and I’ve barely made a dent in pot. 01 is light and 02 is light/medium. I did try using them together as described in the ‘Tips and Tricks’ but I didn’t feel the need to wear it like that all the time, only if I was starting to look haggled from stress (funnily enough it was used fairly often from the end of March through to the middle of May). I loved this concealer. Benefit describes it as ‘industrial-strength’ and at first I was a bit hesitant with it, as I had several bad experiences with Erase Paste back in high school. This product, however, is amazing. I use an eyeshadow brush to apply it (I try to avoid using my fingers) and it covers/blends beautifully. It’s subtle and does the job. I always recommend this product to my friends as it is worth the price, it will last ages! I will definitely repurchase Boi-ing 01.

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 5/5
  • Ease of application: 5/5

“Hello Flawless!”Ivory “I love me” (foundation powder) – This is my second favourite product in the kit. It comes with a short brush which I think I used twice at most. Instead I use my own powder brush, which is slightly narrower and has a longer handle, as I find it easier to get an even coverage with it. As with the liquid foundation, I prefer to use a primer first and then apply the powder, purely because it then lasts all day. I’ve used it just about every day since I bought it and decided to buy the full-sized product (7g, £25.50) to replace the 4g product in the kit which I have nearly finished. The powder blends nicely into my skin and does not develop an orange tinge or make-up line, as some products can. I know part of that is down to application, but still it’s a positive thing to note.

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 5/5
  • Ease of application: 5/5

So the overall verdict? It’s an excellent product for people who are either new to make-up or new to Benefit. It’s particularly useful if you travel as it is a handy size to pack (although getting it fit into your make-up bag is practically impossible) and contains the main essentials for daily wear. However, I did not like wearing all the products together. It might simply be that as I have never worn a great deal of make-up, particularly after one disastrous incident in high school of being plastered in make-up by a friend, that I’m super conscious of heavy make-up. That was how I felt when I wore the primer, liquid foundation, combined the concealers and sealed it with the powder. Regardless, I would still highly recommend this product as it has made me realise that I prefer powder foundations with a light primer underneath, or simply just the primer, as my skin fortunately does not need a great deal of covering. As I mentioned the concealer is the best product in the kit, although I only really used it for blemishes rather than under my eyes. It’s given me confidence in applying and wearing complexion make-up and whilst I was initially hesitant at the price, it was definitely worth the money. I know that I could have purchased a primer, concealer and foundation for under £25.50, but given the quality of the products and their application life, I’d say it was money well spent.

  • Practicality: 4/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

From a lifestyle change to a 10k run…

I don’t intend for this to be too sentimental or clichéd but I still feel amazing after yesterday. I’m not going to repeat too much of what has already been mentioned on this blog in the past, but running the whole 10k yesterday made me realise just how much I have achieved since I decided back in January 2012 that enough was enough.

It has never been a diet or a set plan, instead I kept a record of what I ate and made a conscious effort to make better choices with regards to my health. I have been incredibly fortunate in the copious amount of support and encouragement I receive from my family and friends. My dad was going through a similar change and it had a massive influence on my attitude towards the whole thing. We supported each other and shared tips, recipes and morale. I guess I had my own little support group free of charge! I had considered joining a slimming group but the local ones in Liverpool all clashed with other commitments. In my own way I created a healthier lifestyle that suited my student budget and busy schedules. It hasn’t been easy, but since then I have lost four stone and gone from a size 16-18 to a 8-10 (UK sizing). When I joined Hope University, I was happy, but there were occasional body-conscience moments, something I have experienced throughout my life. Now I still have the occasional twinge, but that’s all down to personal vanity! I feel happier than ever and delight in trying new styles and make-up. I’m still the same shy, slightly awkward bookworm that I have always been (and I have no intention of changing that!) but I feel more confident in how I appear to the rest of the world.

I love looking through old photos and seeing the changes to remind myself that I have come a long way. Now my focus is to keep the shape I currently am – I love my curves and I’m proud of them – and to remain active. It’s always difficult when I return home as I don’t cook all my meals and I don’t walk as frequently as I do when I’m at uni because home is more isolated. However I have every intention of joining a local running group when I return and I’ve bought a set of resistance bands to try some different workouts. Of course I will also be doing plenty of walking with Mabel and Marvin and once the weather improves I’ll be back on my bike. By setting out my goals, it gives me something to focus on and I know that I’ll succeed. Like I said, I never felt unhappy before, but I prefer my current lifestyle.

Anyway, back to yesterday’s run. After months of training (Hannah was better at that than I), we found ourself on the starting line (or a good five minutes from it seeing as we were in the slowest group of runners) and we were both nervous and elated that we had succeeded in getting that far. Once we crossed the start, we set a good, steady pace and we said from then that we were determined to keep running throughout the 10k, regardless of our speed. By 2k, there were a fair few who were alternating between running and walking and between 3 and 4k, we were lapped by one of the elite men, who finished the whole thing in 31 minutes. And still we kept running. It felt like an age before we reached the half way point which was the water point. We stopped at the side of the road to refresh although I barely drank anything, the main focus being to try to cool down, as I find it uncomfortable to drink and exercise and my low blood pressure was a concern. Back we went, again at a steady pace, and in a way it was quite relaxing. Sometimes we chatted, sometimes we just absorbed the scenery and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was a cracking route and the public were excellent, very supportive! We had to stop briefly around 8k because my body had a hissy fit and I felt a little nauseous but after a couple of mouthfuls of juice we were back on track and the end was once more in sight. We put on a spurt of speed once we spotted the finish line and our official finishing time was 1 hour, 13 minutes and 33 seconds. The combination of amazement, disbelief and exhaustion just about floored me but we collected our goodies bags, located Hannah’s fiance, who was our bag boy and supporter, and settled down on the grass to catch our breath. I have truly never felt as proud of myself as I did lying on the grass trying to cool down. We had done it. We ran the whole thing, despite a few hiccups, and my goodness did it feel amazing! I think our Nike+ apps said our average pace was just over 11 mph, which was slightly slower than our usual running pace, but the furthest we’d ran together was just over 2 mile, not the 6 and a bit we did yesterday, so I think that was a perfectly acceptable pace. Especially when you consider the work load we have both been balancing! We have decided that we will continue to do organised running events, alternating between Liverpool and Newcastle, again something I never thought possible. I’ve been bitten by the running bug and never again will I mock others for the madness I now truly enjoy!

I hope that this has inspired or motivated at least one person to make a healthy change in their lifestyle or to continue with their hard work if they already have. It’s never completely easy and sometimes you may feel like giving up but seriously don’t. Weaknesses are there to be overcome and to make you stronger in the end. Who knows, maybe you’ll achieve something you never thought possible too.

What a difference three years can make! Just a selection of my favourite photos from yesterday

I thought I’d share with you one of my least photos of myself from before I started to lose weight and compare it to how I look now. I felt beautiful on that day in 2011 when that photos was taken, but looking back on it makes me proud to see less of that belly! I wasn’t ashamed or disgusted by my figure then, in fact I don’t believe I ever will be, but it certainly produces a sense of satisfaction and disbelief when I see a comparison like that. It is possible and if I can do it, anyone can! You just need to determination and encouragement. The other picture is a selection of my favourite photos from yesterday. I never said I was an attractive runner and my goodness do I go beetroot when I exercise! I think these photos sum up exactly how we felt on the day and my favourite is still my selfie just after completing the run – knackered but still with a look of ‘who’d have thought I could do this?!’ on my face! So far a total of £108 has been raised towards the RSPCA Newcastle/Northumberland branch and donations can still be made via www.justgiving.com/adelemnw14 – a final shameless plug that while I did it purely for selfish reasons (ie to see if I could run 10k) I’m pleased so many people have generously donated towards improving the lives of animals like Mabel and Marvin.

Fairtrade Fortnight: 24 February – 9 March

Now I am well aware that this is nearly over, but I want to mention this event to raise awareness of the vast quantity of fair trade products that available, particularly in the UK. The first two that usually spring to mind are chocolate and bananas – purely because they are the most commonly spoken about. The current campaign for this year is to Make bananas Fair – you can read about it and the Fairtrade Foundation here and sign the petition here. I’m going to sign the petition after work today – we need to make our voices, and the voices of the farmers, heard and acknowledged. I’ll admit I’m not all that snazzy when it comes to politics, but I truly believe that we need to do more to ensure that fairness is achieved for all.

Now I’m a student. I live on a tight budget. Yet I still try to buy fair trade products as often as I can. I am partly able to do this because I volunteer in Oxfam and our store in particular has a huge selection of fair trade products. It’s not just about food either. As I mentioned in a previous post, you can get Fairtrade lip balms, hand creams, BB creams, condoms, shampoo, washing powder … the list goes on! It’s well worth having a browse online and seeing where you can buy fair trade items. Yes it can be a little bit more costly, but not by a substantial amount and treat it like your good deed of the day! Your hard work is improving someone else’s life and making a big difference to them, their family and community.

The photo contains just some of my favourite Fairtrade products that I regularly buy. The coffee is beautiful and the stem ginger biscuits are simply divine. I always buy a packet for Mum when I go home as they are a household favourite. The dark chocolate, orange and ginger chocolate is my little pick-me-up luxury. I also use some of the household products and the quality is exceptional. It’s worth paying the extra for.

Seeing as it is the start of Lent, instead of giving alms why not buy something Fairtrade every week? Even if you’ve given up sweet treats, there are still many other things you could buy. To make things a little more cost-effective, up until the end of Fairtrade Fortnight (9 March) you can get 20% all Fairtrade food products (excluding the Easter range – yes there’s Fairtrade Easter Eggs!) in Oxfam shops. Go on, make a difference and let’s get fair trading for all!

Fair Squared Lip Balm in Spearmint

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

Fair Squared Lip Balm in Spearmint 4g/£2.99   The link is for their webpage about the lip balms. From there you can locate the various global stores that stock their products. I bought mine in Oxfam a couple of weeks ago.

Fair Squared says: ‘Fairtrade certified ingredients are combined to bring you a natural, moisturising balm with a subtle spearmint taste. Your lips deserve to be protected and moisturised from the effects of the sun, wind and cold.’

This product appeared in the Oxfam store I volunteer in when I returned after Christmas. Now I’m a sucker for a good lip balm, but the only ones I’ve brought with me to Liverpool are pots, which are not the most practical for cold weather (removing gloves etc). I was sold by the twist application and it’s about on par, retail wise, with the likes of Chapstick. I was intrigued by this lip balm because I prefer to buy fair trade as often as possible, but living on a budget can make it difficult. I waited a couple of weeks until I had some budget left over and I bought the spearmint option. The other options were vanilla, citrus and pomegranate. It was a toss-up between spearmint and pomegranate, but I thought spearmint would be the most refreshing.

It’s quite a thick balm when you apply it, making it ideal for this bitter cold wind that keeps hitting Liverpool. I particularly like to apply it just before I go for a run as it stops my lips from chapping. However it doesn’t feel particularly oily or sticky, which is surprising given how thick it feels. The spearmint gives a pleasant tingle to my lips – without the numbing feeling – which I take as a sign that it is nurturing my lips into better condition. I’d say that the balm lasts at least two hours on my lips, but that’s just when I stop feeling that extra barrier, I’m sure it continues working for even longer. It’s a good one to put on before bed as well.

The scent isn’t overwhelming – the spearmint is sharp and refreshing – but once it’s on my lips, I can’t smell it, which is a blessing really. It doesn’t really have a taste, which was a bit disappointing. Instead I feel like it’s just a bit of oil that comes off when you lip your lips – maybe this is for the best as I then don’t chew my lips… It’s not unpleasant, a bit like if you accidentally catch your lips when moisturising your face then lick them. Might just be me who gets caught out with that, but it’s that kind of feeling. At least I know it’s nurturing my lips and as I say I don’t lick or chew my lips which is helping them straight away!

I really like this lip balm and I think I’ll buy the pomegranate one once spring truly appears. Given how often I’m outdoors, especially when I’m at home with the dogs, I know this will become a firm lip saver. It’s worth the three pounds I paid for it and I’m going to have a look around the other stores it lists for some of their others products. Their BB cream sounds good and I know a few of the girls at work rave about the moisturising cream (I think Mum might be getting a special treat on Mother’s Day!). I’d never heard about this company before working in Oxfam, and even then didn’t know the extent of products they produce until I checked their website. It’s worth a snoop for sure! I’m going to try to become a more ethical shopper from now on – it’s the best this carnivore can manage at the moment.

  • Ease of application: 5/5
  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Scent: 5/5
  • Application life: 4/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

LUSH The Kiss

**Disclaimer – I’ve purchased these products for myself. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

LUSH The Kiss 8g/£5.75

LUSH says: ‘A delightful, whipped up gloss made from luxurious and protective butters including Fair Trade shea and cupuaçu. This preservative free tinted lip gloss gives a touch of colour to the lips. It’s so easy to apply you won’t even need a mirror!’

I thought I’d do a Valentine’s themed review this week. I bought this product a couple of weeks ago and I love the slight colour it gives my lips. It’s not as sticky as I’ve found generic lip glosses – yes there’s a small initial stickiness, but that quickly disappears, leaving a slight shimmer on my lips. I was a little apprehensive about this product because I have used one of their lip tints, which was the most useless product going (see I can be harsh on LUSH when necessary, that review hasn’t gone up because it was a Christmas product and I ran out of time to post it). This on the other hand, is easy to apply, smells delicious (like raspberry milkshake) and the finish is delightfully subtle.

However, I am currently unable to use my product because the lid has jammed on the pot! I was distraught during lecture when it refused to open, despite the efforts of myself and three others. I’m going to take it into town during the week and see if anyone in the store can open it. Instead I’m back to Lip Service which is my go-to lip balm at the moment. It’s in the pile of stuff to be reviewed over the coming months but frankly life is hectic. Anyway, I think it makes an ideal little gift as it is dinky enough to fit in any bag and it nourishes your lips – making them soft and shimmery (not shiny) – perfect for kisses!

  • Coverage: 5/5
  • Application life: 3/5
  • Product life: 5/5
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

LUSH Dream Cream Hand and Body Lotion

**Disclaimer – I received this product as a gift at Christmas. All opinions are my own and 100% bluntly honest**

LUSH Dream Cream Hand and Body Lotion 240g/£11.25

LUSH says: ‘A soothing and all-round dreamy hand and body lotion that’s suitable for everyone. This simple cream works like a dream on upset skin: cooling and soothing ingredients like oat milk, rose water and chamomile blue oil calm down hot and itchy skin. That’s why it’s our number one bestseller, with many of you telling us it gives great relief from eczema.’

This product officially started my love affair with LUSH. I know the first product I bought from LUSH was actually Lip Service lip balm, but this was the product that proved to me that my skin loved LUSH. I was given a sample pot by the Liverpool team and I received the big pot for Christmas. It’s become a firm favourite and skin saviour!

I suffer from eczema (blaming uni stress for that one) and my skin has always been picky about what it will accept. When I went into the Liverpool store for the first time back in October 2013 I was interested in their body lotions. When I explained my dilemma, the assistant offered me a sample of this cream because the majority of customer feedback they have received is that it works better on eczema than the prescribed stuff. It’s certainly kinder to my skin than my medical cream and smells nicer (it has a faint rose scent to it which I love – soft and feminine). It’s definitely one of my favourite moisturisers – I even refill the sample pot with it to take swimming and when I go home. As I’m swimming a lot more frequently, my skin is in severe need of TLC but this lotion is ideal for putting straight onto my skin after a swim. At the end of every week, I give it an extra drench with a thicker cream, but Dream Cream is fantastic for day-to-day wear.

I know it seems like an awful lot of money for this product, and I asked for it for Christmas, but in future I would not hesitate to repurchase this product. I honestly view this as an investment in healthier skin – my eczema only strikes my eyelids now, a sure sign that this product is working wonders for my skin! I’ve been using it regularly since I received it and I’ve only just gone below the screw top – it’s going to last ages! If it’s your birthday soon or even if you are struggling for a Valentine’s gift, I would strongly recommend this product for those who love to indulge their skin. It’s worth every penny.

  • Moisturising strength: 5/5
  • Application life: 5/5
  • Scent: 5/5
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5