Random Monthly Favourite | Straightener Comb

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Here we go again with another random monthly favourite. In actual fact, this isn’t really a monthly favourite as I’ve been enjoying this tool for several months now. Nevertheless, we’re approaching party season and I thought it best to share.

I’ve always struggled with my hair. Not so much the maintenance, but certainly styling. I tend to have three hairstyles in my life – straight, wavy or homeless. There’s no in between for me and as much as I love playing dress up, when it comes to my hair, I just can’t be bothered. My take on the ‘messy bun’ has proven to be my most renowned hairstyle to date. Lovingly described as ‘a bouncing Tokyo topknot’ by my husband, it gives reference to how low my ‘give a shit’ levels really are for hair styling.

Straightening has always been an arduous task for me. I have thick/naturally curly hair, however, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to straighten it. The problem relates to what happens after I step out of mt front door. The tiniest raindrop or the slightest gust of wind can turn my hair from sleek and straight to puffy and unruly. After spending, what feels like an eternity, on washing/blow drying my hair it feels like a tiresome task to then have to tame the frizz with a hair straighter when everything can turn sour pretty quick if it’s a horrible day outside (and in England that’s pretty much every day). I recently blogged about my love for the Asavea Hair Straightening Brush; which you can find here. I still love this tool, but if I want poker straight hair, I always turn back to my straighteners.

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My straightening routine would normally consist of running a wide-toothed comb through my hair whilst I proceed with my straighteners. It was certainly a more effective method than aimlessly working on random sections of my hair, hoping for the best. This was until I discovered straightener combs; which is essentially a comb with a clip on the opposite end. Sounds simple enough and certainly not worth bragging about, but this little tool has changed my straightening game completely.

For experienced hair stylists, straightener combs are not new to the game. However, I had never discovered them until I began researching hair straightening tools on the internet. I was intrigued upon first glance and even though it’s not a huge cost factor, I was reluctant to buy something that closely resembled the comb I already had at home.

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Straightener combs work by ‘clamping’ sections of your hair between the comb and clip; which allows for your straightener (mine is the GHD Platinum Styler in white) to get right into every strand of your hair. Curly haired girls know all too well that the smallest section of un-straightened hair can cause havoc to your overall look.

I know what you’re thinking – a traditional comb can do the same thing, but unlike traditional combs, the clip attachment of this tool is what ‘locks’ your hair in place and ensures that each and every strand is catered to – something that I have struggled with for years. The manoeuvre is slightly more fiddly than using a comb, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a walk in the park. One thing I will warn you about though is that straightener combs can seriously rip hair out, so if you have quite knotty hair, it may be worth going in with a paddle brush first.

Straightener combs are widely available in many beauty supply stores and, of course, the motherland of all things random – Amazon. I picked mine up for a modest £5.50, but don’t be fooled by cheaper alternatives. I previously purchased one that I found for half the price and it broke within a week of using it.

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As you can see here, my hair achieved great results using the straightener comb. Best of all, my style lasted for days; which has never been the case for me. I found myself sectioning off my hair more so than I would if I was just using a traditional comb, but my hair came out so smooth I didn’t feel it necessary to use hair oil afterwards to lay flat the hair shafts.

You can purchase the Cool Blades Straightener Comb that I used from Amazon here.

My Experience With Lip Masks | Do They Really Work?

Would I consider myself a vain person? Probably not, but I’m sure many of my friends and family would disagree. Being a beauty enthusiast means that a number of assumptions are attached to your title. For me, it’s not about vanity. I enjoy beauty products and all the glory that comes along with purchasing them. Despite their obvious intentions, beauty products, for me, aren’t all about how they can alter my appearance.

I’ve lusted over the notion of bigger lips for quite some time. Not so much a ‘trout pout’, but a perkier set of smackers that would enhance my facial features (I promise that wasn’t vanity). I wouldn’t say that I have thin lips, in fact, they’re already fairly full, but like many women, they are uneven and have an undefined outline. 9 times out of 10 that problem can be rectified with a good lip liner, but who has time to line their lips every day?! I certainly don’t and if I can alter my lip shape without having to layer on the makeup every morning then I’m all for it.

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Lip masks are a fairly new concept to the beauty community; which is strange considering that Hollywood starlets having been sporting ‘enhanced’ lips for quite some time. Pop culture icon Kim Kardashian paved the way for lip masks after she posted an Instagram picture of her favourite weekly treat, KNC lip masks. Whether you love her or hate her, everything that Kim Kardashian touches becomes instant phenomenon and this has certainly been the case for lip masks.

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So what is a lip mask I hear you ask. Well imagine a facial sheet mask for your lips. Most lip masks mimic the look, feel and packaging of a traditional sheet mask, but in the form of a cute little ‘lip-shaped’ style. Some masks, like the Nugg Lip Mask, offer the same service in the form of a lip balm. Others, like the KNC lip mask, offer a thick hydrogel ‘sticker’ infused with a serum.

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Like many great beauty products available in the western world, the idea of lip masks originated from the Korean beauty market. We all know how I feel about Korean beauty products, so trying out a lip mask was a natural progression for me. What I want to know is – how do the Koreans do it?! I seriously can’t keep up; which may be a good thing as I would be seriously broke if I lived over there.

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Applying a lip mask is very similar to that of a traditional mask. The cloth/hydrogel patches can be applied just like a sheet mask – peel off the inner and outer lining and smooth directly over the lips. The ‘lip balm’ versions can either come with a tiny brush to paste onto your lips or can be applied directly with your finger. If you plan on eating, drinking, talking or breathing with these masks on…think again. They’re mainly meant for overnight use or for the obligatory #lipmaskandchill selfie. The great thing is that 10-15 mins with lip sheets is all you need to achieve maximum results; which means you can slap it on along with a face sheet mask, add some under eye patches and freak your husband out as you sit and wait for him in a dark room (no? just me?). Lip masks like the Nugg Lip Mask require pasting on and allowing to absorb overnight. The ‘lip balm’ style lip masks aren’t particularly uncomfortable to wear overnight, in fact, they feel like a very thick layer of Vaseline on your lips. However, if you like to move around or you’re a dribbler you may find remnants of it on your pillow case the next morning. In my opinion, lip sheet masks like the KNC, Tony Moly or Starskin options offer a great excuse to take 15 minutes out of your day to wear and they’re more suitable for travelling or whipping out whilst you browse your wardrobe for your night out.

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The main question here is – do they work? Well yes and no. It all depends on what you’re looking for from a lip mask. If you’re looking for a lip mask to fulfil its promise of needle-free plumping then you’re going to be massively disappointed. Here you can see my result from using the Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask and as you can tell, there’s not much difference in terms of lip shape. If you’re looking for intense hydration then lip masks will be your best friend. Most masks are infused with collagen, Vitamin E and essential oils. The Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask contains molasses, pomegranate, honey and flax seed; which all serve the purpose of nourishing your lips. You certainly get a deep level of moisture from lip masks; which is always a welcomed feeling, particularly in the winter. However, you would need to maintain a weekly routine with these and top up with lip balm in between sessions in order to maintain suppleness. That might be too much to ask for from the average Joe, but if you like to treat and pamper yourself (like me) then upholding a routine with these shouldn’t be a problem.

If you suffer with burning, cracked or sore lips then a good lip mask would be a real treat for you as most of them offer cooling properties. This usually entails a tingling sensation when applied to your skin, but I didn’t experience that with the Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask. They also offer a reduction in fine fines and wrinkles around your mouth; which is normally exaggerated by age, smoking and consisted pursing of the lips (that’s right ladies…kerb the pouting). Do I think that this claim is true? Can be! Fine lines and wrinkles are normally remedied by deep conditioning (i.e. moisturising) and although they can’t be completely eliminated, lip masks can certainly help along the way (just be sure to apply a lip mask outside of the perimeter of your lips if you’re going for a ‘lip balm’ style mask).

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So where can you get these masks from? Well ‘lip balm’ style masks are readily available in the UK beauty market (Nugg and Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask are some great options). The lip sheet/hydrogel masks, however, are a little hard to come by on this island. The Starskin Dreamkiss lip mask is the most widely available in the UK; which is why I chose it to test for this blog. The more ‘Korean’ brands (if there is such a way to describe them) such as Tony Moly or Etude lip masks require a little searching around the net. I’ve found a great site called Yesstyle.co.uk; which offers a lot of the Korean brands with shipping to the UK.

Wow – I didn’t realise that I would have so much to say about lip masks! On that note I leave you with my final review on my experience with lip masks. Are they life changing? No. Are they essential in your skincare routine? Probably not. Do they offer a quirky gimmick to make you feel special when indulging in a pamper night? Most certainly yes. Finally, would I continue using them? 100%. When I’m indulging in a face mask, sheet mask or any other pamper session, I see no reason why I wouldn’t include a fun lip mask to my routine. They certainly offer the short-lived hydration that I look for when I’m treating myself and they give me the perfect excuse to take a silly #lipmaskandchill selfie. So pucker away ladies! Lip masks are here to stay!

My Top 5 Winter Makeup Picks

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I often wonder what people think when they spot me on a day to day basis. I’m not going to admit that I look a little…rough around the edges, but let’s just say that I’m not as ‘put together’ as some of my Instagram images would portray. Honestly speaking, I can’t be bothered with the faff. On a day to day basis I’m either sans makeup or bare minimum; which is why I put so much emphasis on my skincare routine. I’m comfortable in the skin that I live in and although makeup gives me a little ‘lift’ in life, it’s not important enough for me to wake 30 minutes earlier than necessary to apply a full face of slap.

That being said, winter is in full swing and along with arctic breezes comes an abundance of Christmas parties and celebrations. I’m by no means a social butterfly, in fact, I consider myself somewhat of a hibernating bear during the cold season. However, Christmas gets me in a celebratory mood and once in a while I turn up (urban dictionary that if you’re not as ghetto as me lol) and go full glam.

So on that note, I bring to you my top 5 makeup picks for winter. Despite the look that I go for, these items are a permanent staple on my dressing table and are often the ones that I reach for the most (when I can actually be bothered to apply makeup).

NYX Cosmetics Blush in Bittersweet 

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I’m not really a blush girl. I much prefer a dusting of bronzer across my cheeks. However, when I’m looking to glamorise myself, I tend to reach for blushers that are neutral in tone and will work with any kind of makeup look. The NYX blush in Bittersweet is exactly that. Described as a ‘deep mauve tone with golden sheen’, it’s the perfect Kylie Jenner colour for your cheeks. If you’re of a porcelain skin tone, this blush may work out a tad dark for you, but olive-based skin tones will lap this up.

The colour applies quite sheer in comparison to many other blushers in my collection, but it glides over the skin beautifully with a ‘blown out’ effect rather than a block of colour. You don’t get a lot of product in the pan, but for the price, it’s not offensive.

Kiko Water Eyeshadow (228)

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I feel like Kiko products don’t get the recognition that they deserve. I seldom visit my local Kiko store, but each time that I have, I’ve discovered an array of wonderfully pigmented products that would, in my opinion, rival MAC. The Kiko Water Eyeshadows have been an incredible find for me (particularly shade 228). I rarely dabble in singular eyeshadows, and often stick to palettes due to ease of use, but these shadows have made me see a different light. The pigmentation is incredible and gives intense colour payoff even when using it dry. The moisturising and soothing properties makes the texture of these shadows sooooooo buttery smooth. The graphical design is hard to resist, but swatching these shadows with your fingers is equally as hard due to the velvety soft texture.

I love popping these cute little squares into my makeup bag and applying on the go with my finger when an after-work situation calls. The mirror is a nice touch and it means that I can have a glamorous wash of colour over my lids without any blending business.

Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Hyde Park

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You can probably tell that I’ve been loving this lippie for quite some time and in actual fact, this is my 4th pencil! As soon as the winds begin to change, this lip pencil comes out with a vengeance. This is easily my ‘ride or die’ lippie; which isn’t restricted to a particular time of day or occasion.

These highly pigmented pencils are infused with Vitamin E and antioxidants to feed and nourish your lips even against harsh winds. It’s an almost hybrid between a lip balm, lip pencil and lipstick, but with extreme colour payoff. The long-lasting and non-drying formula makes this pencil the perfect handbag staple for last minute touch ups, but also reduces the need for a separate lipstick and pencil.

The colour ‘Hyde Park’ is by far my favourite out of the range. Described as a ‘ruby red’, it’s more of a berry with pink and blue undertones; which is extremely flattering for my skin tone. I love the fact that I can slap on this pencil (without the use of a mirror might I say) and I can go from casual cat to fiery vixen in seconds.

Gerard Cosmetics BB Plus Illumination Facial Cream 

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As you can expect from a cream illuminator, this product promises to deliver a healthy glow to your tired, weather worn faces. Enriched with anti-ageing, hydrating and brightening benefits, this cream can be used in a couple of ways. Apply a few squirts to your facial moisturiser or foundation to give yourself a youthful glow or apply with your fingertips to the high points of your face i.e. cheekbones for a subtle highlighting effect. Personally, there’s nothing subtle about me so I go ham with this stuff and use it as a cream base for my powder highlighter. The squeeze tube comes complete with a handy pump; which makes it easy to control the amount of product that you are using. I take a couple of drops on the tips of my  fingers and pat over my cheekbones, bridge of my nose and chin. I then proceed with layering on my powder highlight. Trust me when I say, your highlighting game will never be the same again.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade (Dark Brown)

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I’m a little late to this party; which is highly shocking seeing as the ABH Dipbrow Pomades have been a beauty blogger staple for quite some time. I’ve always favoured pencils over pomades and having been a devotee to the ABH Brow Definer and the Colourpop Brow Pencil for quite some time, I found it difficult to transition onto the ‘hard stuff’.

Fact of the matter is, I need my brows to stay in place when facing extreme weather conditions. Brow pencils, for however good they claim to be, don’t offer that kind of assurance. I needed to let go of my fears and delve directly into pomades if I wanted to make sure that my brows didn’t end up at my ankles by the end of the day. I’m so glad I did!

The hardest part about the ABH pomades is finding your colour…and a good brush…and a light hand…ok pomades aren’t exactly user friendly. However, with a little practice you could have your brows perfected within minutes. I use the colour ‘Dark Brown’ with the inclusion of ‘Chocolate’ every now and then. ‘Dark Brown’ has the right amount of ashiness as well as depth for my dark hair and olive skin colour, whereas Chocolate is a bit more…well…brown. However, if you find the right brush (ABH no.7 brush is the only one that I ever reach for) and the right technique, your brows would look natural and perfectly arched even if you get the colour slightly off.

What are your top winter makeup picks? Let me know what I can add next to my collection.

My Winter Nail Polish Picks

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Rest assured John Snow – winter has finally come. Unlike the masses who enjoy warm breezes and hot summer days, I favour the winter season by far. Cozy fires, fashionable layers, jewel-toned hues and cinnamon everything – these are just a few things that I love about the colder months.

Now that Halloween is done and dusted, I am firmly fixated on winter festivities. November and December are celebratory months for me and my choice in nail colour mimic my mindset. Out go the pastels (well some of them), the neon and the hot pinks and in come the dark and deeply sophisticated palettes. I’m by no means a nail connoisseur. In fact, I favour doing my own nails at home rather than visiting a salon. I do, however, pay as much attention as possible to my nails as I’ve now come to the realisation that I have two extremities in my life – prissy and polished or homeless and half-bitten.

Here are my top polish picks for the winter season ahead-

Greige

In all honesty the name sounds as exciting as a smear test, but greige is an extremely sought after colour amongst the fashion forward. The undertones of violet, grey and brown make this shade extremely flattering for an array of skin tones. Greige gives you the comfort of a nude with a little more spice.

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Chanel Particularie

Cashmere

Cashmere nails can be best described as effortless sex appeal with a hint of luxury. Imagine flesh-tones, blushed pinks and soft taupes topped with a matte finish. Cashmere nails require very little maintenance and are super quick to apply; which makes for a great fall back when you just can’t decide what to do with your nails.

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Essie Comfy In Cashmere

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Nails Inc. Alexa Fabric Effects In Cashmere

Navy Blue

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with blue nails. I’m not the biggest fan of royal blues, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE navy blue tones. Ink-like blue tones are perfect for the winter months when you want to experiment with a darker nail colour, but you want to steer clear of gothic black. Leave the misconception of blue nails behind and invest in a deep, rich, almost black navy.

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Rimmel Salon Pro By Kate In Rhythm And Blues

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OPI Roadhouse Blues

Oxblood

Unlike my feelings about royal blue, I actually DETEST red nails. Postbox red, stark scarlet and tangy tomato don’t appeal in the slightest to me. If I’m to invest in a red nail polish, it’s got to be oxblood. I know traditional red nails scream Christmas season, but oxblood is more my jam. They’re not the easiest to maintain and the slightest chip can turn your work of art into a complete shambles, but it’s worth the torture.
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Chanel Rouge Noir

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OPI Black Cherry Chutney

Charcoal Grey
Much like the grey-toned hues mentioned before, charcoal grey adds subtle glamour to your talons without having to settle for a simple nude. Grey nails might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you won’t know until you try and charcoal grey is the perfect way to transition into ‘experimental’ nails without standing too far from the crowd.

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Essie In Chinchilly

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OPI Infinite Shine Gel Effect in Steel Waters Run Deep

Dark Chocolate

You can’t survive winter without a bit of chocolate and that goes for your nails too. I used to think that applying a brown colour onto my nails would look slightly odd against my already brown skin, but I just never found the right shade of brown. Deep chocolate brown looks utterly delicious, particularily with a glossy top coat.

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OPI Washington Collection in SHH…IT’S TOP SECRET

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Essie In Little Brown Dress

Military Green

One thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve grown old(er); I’m a lot more appreciative of completely odd ball colours. Perhaps that’s just my personality, but I love anything that stands out. Military green isn’t necessarily the first colour you would think of when you have Christmas in mind, but Christmas trees are green right? So it makes sense (in my head).

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Nars in Night Porter

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Chanel Vert Obscure

Glitter

Of course, I couldn’t talk about nail colours without mentioning glitter (you can take the girl out of Essex…). I don’t miss an opportunity to wear glitter – on my nails, on my face, in my hair, on my clothes…ok I’m slightly exaggerating, but I am obsessed with the sparkly stuff. Christmas is the perfect opportunity for a glitter enthusiast like me to wear tons of glitter on my nails and not feel guilty in the slightest (not that I ever did).

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Color Club Glitter Vixen Nail Polish Collection in Magic Attraction

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Zoya Pixe dust in London