Iconic London Rose Gold Evo Set Review

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Since my teens, I’ve been a loyal devotee to my favourite Essex beauty haven, Harmony Health and Beauty. Despite moving cross-county a few years ago, I never miss an opportunity to put my feet up and soak in the blissful atmosphere this wonderful salon. As funny as it sounds, it makes me feel at home. The sound, the smell, the ambiance – are all so familiar that I never leave without a smile on my face. Luckily, my family still live close by so I can justify the journey, but nevertheless I’ve never since found a salon that I enjoy as much as Harmony.

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Of course, my devotion is further exaggerated by the fact that it is indeed home to one of the biggest Instagram beauty phenomenons around – Iconic London. Many of us have seen their Illuminating Drops take over the feeds of beauty bloggers, makeup artists and enthusiasts alike. I’m no stranger to a beautiful glow, but it’s their Evo brushes; which caught my eye from the offset. In the name of research, I took the plunge, purchased their complete brush set and lied through my teeth when my husband questioned me on how much they were…

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Truth be told, collecting makeup brushes has become somewhat of a sick obsession. I have more brushes than what’s required for one face. Nevertheless, when I saw images of the Iconic London Evo Complete Face Set, I couldn’t resist. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they look very similar to the Artis Brushes; which have been at the top of my makeup wish list for quite some time. What’s even better is that they’re a fraction of the price…and they come in rose gold (enter ‘heart eyes’ emoji here).

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The Complete Face Set comprises of everything your need to slay your base. There’s a brush for your foundation, a brush for your bronzer and so on. What’s interesting, is that the brushes are fairly multi-functional. For example, the bronzer brush (002) can be used for setting powder and the concealer brush (006) can be used for contouring the nose. There are a total of 6 brushes in the collection; which I’ll explain in greater detail. There is a smaller collection available which only contains 4 brushes, but of course, if I don’t have it all I’m not happy so I settled with the larger set. What really caught my eye (like a cat distracted by a shiny object) was the rose gold hue of these brushes. Let’s be honest, they’re stunning and the pictures don’t do them justice. Iconic sell these brushes in both black and white, but I find it hard to resist anything that’s rose gold.

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If you’re lucky enough to live within a close proximty of Harmony Health and Beauty, you can easily find an array of Iconic products in their display cabinets, including the white Evo brushes which are always out of stock on the website. Debra, the salon’s owner and Mum of Iconic’s founder Jade, is usually on hand as well as the other lovely ladies at Harmony to explain how to use any of their products. Of course, Iconic London also have their own website, www.iconiclondoninc.com, where you can purchase any of their items and often at discounted rates as they consistently have offers going on. The Complete Evo Brush collection is priced at £75; which for 6 brushes isn’t really that bad. At £12.50 per brush, that’s pretty much the same price as a Sigma or Morphe brush. The smaller collection, the Evo Contour & Conceal Makeup Brush Set, is priced at £42.99 and works out slightly cheaper at just over £10 per brush, but you do miss out on the powder and foundation brushes; which in my opinion are the most enjoyable brushes to use of them all.

Here’s what is included in the collection:-

001 – Perfect for foundation, bronzer and setting powder. It leaves no streaks or residue bristles on the face and creates a beautifully blended finish. My foundation went on and was blended out in literally seconds. Perfect for every day use if you don’t want to faff about with wetting Beauty Blenders in the morning.

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002 – Slightly smaller than 001, but still perfect for foundation, blending out contour, bronzer, blusher and setting powder. I love using this brush for all over setting with powder.

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003 – Perfect to sculpt out your cheekbones. It’s small enough to get into the contours of your face, but big enough to avoid harsh lines. It’s also great for cleaning up your contour with a brightening powder.

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004 – Although it’s labelled as a great highlighter, concealer or contouring brush, I found it best worked with powder or cream highlighters.

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005 – Meant for eyeliner, brows and lip perfecting I actually use this to draw out the lines on my nose contour or cleaning up my lipstick with concealer.

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006 – The ultimate brush for nose contouring, and other smaller areas. Also good for spot concealing.

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The brushes themselves are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, with synthetic fibres making up the bristles. Whatever your conceptions are of synthetic fibres, put them aside. I have never felt something so soft against my skin since my hen do in Vegas (sorry Mum). What I love most about these brushes is that they’re so densely packed it almost feels like you’re using velvet on your face. I’m not going to lie, I am forever dedicated to my Beauty Blender. In fact, I’ve never been a fan of using a brush to apply my foundation. However, the foundation (001) brush left no streak marks or inconsistency in my application.

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Now here’s my bit of honesty. My only gripe with these brushes is the handle. I LOVE the fact that the rose gold colour doesn’t get dirty with use, but I would’ve prefered a slightly heavier feel to the brush. Considering that you’re having to part with near enough £100 when buying these brushes, the handles don’t quite match up. I wouldn’t say that it’s a deal breaker by any means – I have the upper body strength of a 6 year old anyway, but it’s just my opinion.

Cleaning of the Evo brushes is fairly straight forward. Of course, Iconic offer their own brand of Brush Cleanser; which you can pick up for a mere £12.99. I’ve been using The Pro Hygiene Collection Makeup Brush Cleaner on all of my brushes for years, including the Evo brushes and I’ve yet to experience a problem. By no means should you submerge the Evo brushes in water or use any harsh methods of cleaning; which is right up my street because I hate cleaning brushes. In my opinion, they’re fairly low maintenance compared to my traditional brushes as they are so densely packed that you also don’t need to waste time in re-shaping them and they require very little drying time.

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I often reserve my ‘speciality’ makeup purchases for glam events, however, the Complete Evo Brush collection has become somewhat of an everyday staple for me. Although I still love my Beauty Blender and traditional brushes, I love the fact that the Evo brushes are so ‘pick-up-and-go’ with very little upkeep required. I won’t deny the fact that the rose gold hue has a part to play in why I love these brushes so much,  my vanity table has never looked so good. I do, however, love everything that Iconic London stands for and how quickly they have evolved in the makeup world from their humble beginnings in Essex. Call me slightly biased but I’m an #iconicbae for life!

The Key Skincare Ingredients That I Have Been Befriending

key skincare ingredients

…And just like that, I’ve completed the first year in my 30s. We all know how well I took to transitioning into another decade so it’s fair to admit that my birthday was mostly spent in the company of my good friend vodka.

I must admit, however, I’ve had a pretty good year. I now understand why many believe that your 30s are the best years of your life. For however great my 20s were, I’ve never felt as confident and as certain of what I want in life as I do now (probably because I spent the majority of my 20s partying).

Along with new found confidence, my 30s brings along clarification that my body is changing. My skin, in particular, isn’t what it once was 10 years ago. I’ve recently dabbled in private dermatologist visits to really understand what my skin needs now that the years are rolling by. Drastic measures needed to be taken along with a few tweaks to my current skincare routine to ensure that my 40s isn’t spent picking my face up from the floor.

Here are the key ingredients that I have been incorporating into my skincare routine now that my 30s are in full swing:-

Hyaluronic Acid

As we grow older, the moisture levels in our body reduces significantly. Hyaluronic Acid, for as scary as it sounds, isn’t what we would typically associate with acids. Hyaluronic Acid is found naturally within human genetics and our ability to produce Hyaluronic Acid declines with age. So what is Hyaluronic Acid I hear you ask – to put it simply, it is a jelly-like substance which cushions and plumps our skin. As we grow older, the cushioning begins to reduce and we’re left with swallow, dry, sagging skin with pesky lines and wrinkles! It’s no wonder why skincare brands go crazy for Hyaluronic Acid as an integral ingredient to many of their anti-ageing products.

I’ve been dabbling in the thought of derma fillers for some time. Popular methods such as Juvéderm use HA rather than collagen for its long-lasting power. Although I’m preparing myself for the years to come, I don’t think I’m quite there yet for botox (I’m also afraid of needles) so for now I’ll stick to topical use and for that I use none other than Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair. Estée Lauder was the first brand to bring HA to the mainstream beauty market and their iconic Advanced Night Repair Serum awards HA as its core ingredient for combating ageing skin.

AHAs 

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) sounds like something that you would never want to put on your face, but trust me when I say – you need it in your life if you have dry skin like mine!

AHAs, in simple terms, are dissolving agents for dead skin. Imagine a glue that bonds together debris and dead skin particles on the surface of your skin, exfoliation gets rid of them, but requires some vigorous rubbing to do so. AHAs are used as a gentle exfoliant to ‘eat’ the crap off of your skin without causing irritation. Sounds scary right? Not at all. If it’s done in a gentle way and with a small percentage, AHAs can be your skin’s best friend. The most common AHAs are Glycolic, Lactic, and Mandelic Acid. I won’t go into the science behind each one, but Glycolic Acid is my personal favourite as it has the smallest molecular structure therefore penetrating deeper into the skin.

My favourite favourite favourite product of all time is the Alpha-H Liquid Gold Concentrate; which uses 5%  of naturally derived Glycolic Acid to promote cell-renewal and skin resurfacing. Although I take care of my skin well, I suffer with uneven texture and pigmentation around my face. I’m a loyal exfoliator, but despite exfoliating my skin twice a week, I’ve never been able to rid myself of those pesky issues. That was, of course, until I started using Alpha-H Liquid Gold Concentrate; which has made skin appear brighter and more even-toned than ever before.

Retinoids 

We’ve all heard of Retinoids, but many of us are unaware of what it really is. Retinoids are a class of compounds; which are derived from vitamin A. Hailed as the ‘cure-it-all’ skincare saviour, Retinoids have been in our skincare products since the 60s.

The first FDA-approved Retinoid was first discovered over 40 years ago as a miracle treatment for acne. In addition to this, Retinol is now also famous for its anti-ageing properties. When Retinol and other Retinoids come into contact with skin, enzymes in the body convert the Retinol into retinoic acid, the active form of the vitamin. This puts the skin cells into gear by increasing cell turnover, stimulating collagen and encouraging elastin production. This also helps to fade hyper-pigmentation as well as helping the skin to stay hydrated and glowing without irritation. Thanks to all this healthy turnover, Retinol can treat and prevent everything from stubborn cystic acne and eczema to sun-induced wrinkles and dark spots.

Retinoids should be approached with caution as many of them would be prescribed to you through a professional dermatologist. There are several over-the-counter products; which include the use of Retinol should you wish to test the waters without having to commit to expensive dermatology visits. Peter Thomas Roth’s Retional Fusion PM is a great alternative to medicated Retinoids and should be used as part of your nightly skincare routine. If you do chose to dabble in Retinoids, please please please remember that SPF must be worn during the day as Retinoids have a tendency to cause sun-sensitivity.

 

What are your favourite skincare ingredients? Comment below with suggestions of what I should try out next.

Creating A Capsule Makeup Collection

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Although I adopt a minimalistic approach to my home life, I love excess. From makeup to food, I can’t help but have it all in abundance (probably why I’m always broke and on a diet).

Being a beauty blogger means that I’m constantly surrounded by an array of beauty products. It also means that I get to feed my insatiable appetite for all things beauty in the name of research. Of course, that excuse doesn’t really get me far when having to explain the credit card bill to my husband, but it’s perfectly logical in my mind. However, there are times when I look at my makeup collection and wish that I could apply my minimalistic approach.

As a self-confessed makeup lover, I can’t resist the lure of a new makeup purchase. So much so that I have multiple of each makeup item. Of course, items such as lipsticks come in an array of colours so multiples are a must, but there’s only so many colours of the rainbow and I probably have double that. This brings me to my inpromptu makeup spring clean. I’m not going to lie; it hurt –  I cried less during my wedding vows. However, it was the best decision I’ve made thus far.

Creating a capsule makeup collection not only makes everything super organised, but also allows you to make informed purchases in the future therefore saving you money. Here’s how to create your capsule makeup collection:-

  1. Purge the outdated – In order to know what you’ll keep in your capsule collection you first need to get everything out and spread it on the floor. If anything smells ‘funny’ or has been in your collection for as long as you’ve been alive, it goes in the bin. Tossing out old/expired makeup is a great place to start when purging your makeup.
  2. Do a 2nd purge – Once all of the ‘rubbish’ is tossed out, it’s then time to put your best ‘cut-throat’ face forward. Look at your collection and make an informed decision on what you really need. What items do you use on a daily basis and what items do you rely on no matter what look you choose? Whilst ‘novelty’ or ‘specialised’ makeup can be fun, do you really need that florescent purple blusher? Decide on what colours suit you and what colours you reach for most. Then decide on what brands/products you can’t live without. If you haven’t reached for a particular product for a significant amount of time, it’s got to go. Remember, it’s quality over quantity. I’m not suggesting that all drugstore/cheap makeup needs to go in favour of more expensive items. You just need to decide on what’s more valuable to you and what you can use to create your signature look.
  3. Get rid of the duplicates – Whilst having multiple concealers, foundations or mascaras is great for variety, chances are you’re letting at least one of them mould away. We all have favourites and we all reach for that one product over the other, so having multiple of one item just means that you’re wasting your money. I love testing new brands and new products as much as the next person, but the idea here is ‘one in, one out’. That way, you’ll have more space and you’ll soon realise what products suit you best.
  4. Organise it – Once you’ve decided on what makeup you’ll like to keep, you then need to figure out how to store it. This is my favourite part (obviously). I’ve got nothing against makeup bags, but no matter how spacious they may be, they’ll never be ideal for storing your precious products. To keep things clean and in clear vision, you need to invest in some great storage solutions. Acrylic makeup boxes, such as The Original Beauty Box, are perfect for storing your makeup. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, then Muji offer some really great, budget-friendly solutions. You don’t need to go crazy and get loads of different boxes/trays. Personally, having a simple acrylic box upon your vanity table looks very chic. Find what solution works best for you, but more importantly, will offer easy access to your makeup at all times.
  5. Maintain it – Once you’ve got your storage solution(s) set, you’ll need to maintain its convenience. That means you’ll need to firstly clean off your makeup products. Sticking a dirty compact in an acrylic makeup box will not only defeat the purpose here, but it will become that much harder to maintain your new system. Wipe off excess makeup/spillage, store it in a manner which makes sense to you e.g. grouping together brands; and make sure that any used products goes back clean and in the place where you last found it.
  6. Purchase according to season  – When you decide to expand your capsule collection, think about your next purchases in terms of season. When winter comes around, think about your signature dark lip. Do you already have it in your collection or would this be a new addition? Purchasing makeup according to season allows you to really use up the items which you’ve bought rather than impulse buying something that you won’t use for months on end.

Cellulite Reducing Chocolate & Coffee Scrub

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This week’s blog post is all about wobbly bits. Before your filthy minds run away with you, let me clarify which ‘bits’ I’m referring to. Women of all ages, sizes and ethnicity face the wrath of the ‘C’ word. Of course, I’m referring to cellulite; which is essentially tiny deposits of fat trapped beneath the surface of the skin. To put it simply – it’s those saggy, dimple-filled areas of our body which seem to stick around no matter how health-conscious we are.

From supermodels to average Jane, women all around the world know how hard it can be to get rid of cellulite. There are, of course, an array of treatments available in the beauty industry which promise to reduce cellulite and most work pretty well. However, cellulite treatments can be costly, time-consuming and very uncomfortable. If only there was a natural way to treat cellulite at home. Yep, you guessed it – I’m back with another beauty DIY!

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Seeing as Easter is coming up, I thought it best to incorporate some chocolate into this DIY cellulite-busting recipe. No this is not a cruel joke. Chocolate, or more specifically Cacao, is a fantastic natural ingredient for skin, hair and nails. It’s high in antioxidants, in fact, it’s full of them; which is essential for fighting against premature ageing. We’ve all heard the rumour that a bit of chocolate once a day does wonders for our insides; well it’s true! However, you need natural Cacao or at least 70% dark chocolate to get the benefits. Along with the antioxidants, Cacao is full of vitamin C, magnesium and omega 6 fatty acids. In a nutshell (pun intended) – Cacao is perfect for cell regeneration, skin protection, hydration and sun protection (that wasn’t quite a nutshell).

Along with natural Cacao, this recipe calls for ground coffee. Forget the instant stuff, that’s not real coffee anyway (coffee snob alert). Freshly ground coffee beans are what you need here to fight against pesky cellulite. The enzymes in coffee are natural enemies of cellulite. Fat is broken down and blood circulation is encouraged with use of the dark stuff. Scrubbing with ground coffee also promotes cell renewal. The abrasive texture buffs away dull dead skin and leaves you with a natural glow. If you want amazing skin – coffee is the way forward.

The beauty industry has recently exploded with an array of coffee-based scrubs, like my personal favourite from the Bean Beauty range. With summer around the corner, we all need to get our skin in tip-top shape;  which is why exfoliating at least twice a week with a good scrub is essential. Although these beautifully packaged scrubs are amazing and a permanent staple in my bathroom, they’re also very pricey. I go through one of these packs a month; which can be a fairly expensive habit to maintain. However, following the recipe below will give you all of the benefits of a coffee scrub without the price tag.

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Ingredients

  • Ground coffee – either grind the coffee yourself or use ready-made ground coffee. Do not use the instant kind as this will dissolve in the mixture.
  • White or Brown sugar – this is down to personal preference. I like an abrasive scrub, because I like torturing myself I guess. For this I use white sugar as the granules are larger and more course. If you have sensitive skin or you don’t like putting your body through its paces, use brown sugar. Again, there’s no preference in which type of brown sugar (obviously the softer the sugar the more gentle it will be on your skin). Both brown and white sugar work the same way so find what’s comfortable for you.
  • Vanilla bean extract –  vanilla has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to soothe and calm irritated skin. The abrasiveness of the coffee and sugar combined can cause irritation to the skin (if not used in the correct way). Vanilla will help to calm you skin down as well as fight against skin diseases. You can stick a vanilla pod in the mixture when you’re done to intensify the scent of vanilla, but it all depends on how pedantic you are on the finer details.
  • Cacao – do not use drinking chocolate or any other hot chocolate mix, it’s not the same thing! Use natural ground Cacao powder which is readily available in many high street stores.
  • Coconut oil – you knew this was coming. No DIY beauty product of mine would be complete without the inclusion of coconut oil. Simply put, coconut oil would be used here as a moisturising component of the scrub, but also for its anti-ageing benefits.
  • Air tight container or preservative jar – I chose to use a Kilner jar; which I picked up from Tesco. You can choose to use whatever you like, as long as it’s air tight and easy to store. The mixture itself will last up to 6 months, so you’ll want to use something that you’ll proudly display in your shower for a lengthy period of time.

 

Method

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Take equal parts of ground coffee and sugar. I used a mixing bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients together with ease. You don’t need to use any measuring utensils, just eye ball it into roughly equal parts.

Add Cacao powder to your mixture. Again, you can eyeball it. I like my mixture to smell as chocolatey as possible so I add about 5 tablespoons to my mixture. If you’re making a large batch then add more, but just as long as it’s less than the amount of sugar and coffee that you used.

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Once your mixture looks a little something like this, add a few drops of your vanilla bean extract. The vanilla would be fairly concentrated so you’ll only need a few drops.

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Add your coconut oil. This is where you’ll need to use your judgement…and your biceps. Whilst mixing all of the other ingredients together, pour in your melted coconut oil. The amount of coconut oil you need depends on how ‘greasy’ you want your scrub to be. I like a fairly dry, abrasive scrub so I use enough to barely bind together the dry powders. The mixture does need to be fairly dry, but liquid enough to hold between your hands. Think semi-wet sand; which you can form into loosely packed balls (I’m sorry that was a shit description. Just try to resemble the picture above).

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Mix all of the ingredients together and transfer to your air tight container. Add your vanilla pod (if you wish) and store in a cool location. I keep mine in the bathroom (obviously) and it lasts me around 6 months. If you want yours to last a little longer, add some honey to your mixture as honey is natural preservative.

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Et voila! Doesn’t it look…well…crap. Your newly formed jar of coffee scrub will resemble a pile of earth. Don’t be disheartened, this will be the best scrub you will ever use on your skin. Not forgetting how heavily it smells! You’ll have to restrain yourself from using this every time you shower.

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You’ll want to use this scrub on wet skin 2-3 times a week. I get under the shower, wet my skin then move from directly under the shower head so that there’s not a consistent flow of water (there’s my daily dose of shower ettiequte for the day). I then use the coffee scrub in circular motions, towards my heart, to improve blood circulation. Make sure you get every nook and cranny, particularly concentrating in the areas where you suffer with cellulite. You’ll see a massive reduction within weeks of consistent use. Don’t forget to follow up with a luxurious body cream or oil after you rinse!

If you haven’t tried a coffee scrub yet, follow this recipe – you’ll thank me later. Happy scrubbing beauties!