Each month, I receive numerous samples from beauty and skincare brands – some of which I’ve heard good things about and have proactively asked for, and others from companies who have found the blog and would like me to write a review.
The best of these usually find their way into one of my ‘This week I’ve been testing’ blog posts, but the reality is that I always test skincare or treatments for several weeks before they make it into the review, so the title is a bit misleading.
I also wonder if some readers might think I’m a sycophant when it comes to working with beauty brands, as, although some of my reviews contain some constructive criticism, they are in the main very positive.
Let me explain.
I only write about the products I genuinely enjoy using, or get some beauty benefit from. There are several products each month that don’t make the cut. Some are real duds, creating a nasty whiff or causing breakouts or other skin reactions.
Subsequently I then have to take a week’s break from all new beauty products and return to my trusty vegan, botanical, gentle Arbonne regime, until my skin calms down again.
I always provide feedback to the brands’ representatives when this happens, if only to explain why I won’t be able to feature their lotion or potion. But I have made the decision not to write up negative reviews as I want to showcase the best of the products I’m lucky enough to try.
There, glad I got that out of the way.
So from now on I’ll be doing a monthly round up of beauty heroes, be they skincare, makeup or hair products.
Here are my November beauty heroes:
Everyone say oooh, ahhh! I gasped out loud when this arrived in its beautiful black box. The limited edition palette is Urban Decay’s biggest ever, containing 21 eye popping colours, including 18 new shades, and a variety of finishes – from matte to shimmer.
Don’t be intimidated by the bright hues. By mixing and layering you can achieve so many different looks using this palette. I’ve been using the three shades of purple and green, but there are great options for smokey eyes in there too.
Urban Decay have put some thought into the packaging too. This one isn’t going in a handbag, but the full size mirror and hinged lid means that you can rest this on a table and angle the mirror just so.
Superdrug predicts that Birch Water will be the next big thing. Birch Water is tapped from Silver Birch trees and contains less sugar than its closest alternative, coconut water, and contains more hydrating properties. These products are great for dehydrated, rather than dry skin – the difference being that dehydrated skin lacks water, whereas dry skin lacks oil. If your skin is dehydrated moisturisers will sit on the surface rather than absorbing, making skin look oily.
The day cream contains Vitamin E, Pro-Vitamin B5 and Shea Butter, which protect against environmental damage, moisturise and soften the skin respectively. The texture is silky and lightweight. The cream is cooling on application, smells fresh and absorbs well. The SPF 15 makes this a great, inexpensive everyday cream.
I also tried the Micellar Tonic, which was a refreshing way to cleanse my face in the morning. It had a tendency to foam, which is why I’m not raving about it here, but at £4.99 you can’t really complain.
Verso is one of my favourite brands for truly effective, anti-ageing skincare. The new Lip Serum isn’t cheap, but it’s multi-functional.
This is an anti-ageing serum which softens, hydrates and plumps up the lips too. Containing Retinol 8, Verso’s proprietary formula, it helps to increase the skin’s own production of collagen as well as reducing fine lines and dark spots. Apply it on and around the lips to treat the whole area, for the perfect pout.
One application lasts hours and gives a shine like lipgloss without the stickiness. LOVE!
Another multi-purpose product, this balm made with Beeswax, fruit and seed oils will sooth dry skin, treat minor burns and grazes, stings and bites and can be used as a lip balm. This lovely little pot contains plant-derived collagen and Hyaluronic Acid, delivering intense moisture to the skin. Beeswax is great for reducing inflammation and redness.
I used it on a running injury (first time I’ve ever written the words ‘running’ and ‘injury’ in the same sentence!). After my third fall on the same knee, I needed to apply daily TLC to the skin around the graze which was red and sore. Without a control group, I can’t say if this speeded up the healing process, but the balm did provide some comfort and coolness to the situation.
Miracle balm is suitable for all skin types.
Here’s another lip treatment, but with a completely different texture. Made with only natural ingredients including Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Honey and Beeswax, the consistency is a light balm, but the texture is noticeably cool – unusual for a lip treatment. The natural scent is reminiscent, although not exactly like, chocolate. You’re going to love spreading this on your lips!
I have saved the best for last.
Samaya is a new concept in beauty. Described as ‘effective holistic skincare that allows you to incorporate balance and wellness into your beauty routine’, Samaya is based on Ayurvedic principles.
Ayurveda is an age-old system of holistic medicine, centred on the concept of achieving harmony between mind, body and soul.
Sorry if that sounds a bit woo-woo, bear with me.
First, I chose my dosha – or constitution – on Samaya’s website. There are three doshas to choose from, with products to match. Each range contains Ayurvedic herbs to provide balance and a feeling of wellness. My dosha is Pitta: ‘Well-proportioned and compact build, with a focused mind and a love of order. Confident and passionate, enjoying challenges. Prone to anger and impatience when out of balance. Benefits from gentle skincare as skin can be sensitive and irritable, susceptible to wrinkles, sunburn and inflammation.’
Samaya sent me their Anti-Ageing Treatment Oil which, with infusions of Jasmine, Lotus, Neem, Turmeric and Saffron, targets the signs of ageing.
I’ve never used a facial oil before and dislike the feeling of greasiness of some cleansing balms, so was sceptical. But oh my, I just love this – mainly because the smell of Jasmine is utterly blissful.
The oil is a refreshing alternative to a night cream, but I also rub this on my pulse points before bed so I can benefit from that incredible calming aroma. Used sparingly this can also be used under a lightweight day cream.
Top marks to Samaya for packaging as well. The bottle arrived in an understated, recyclable tube. The bottle itself is made from frosted glass which is non-slippy, useful when you’ve got oil all over your hands, and the pump delivers just enough for a modest application.
If I have the chance to try the other products in the range, I will report back.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some Jasmine scented candles.
Much love, Vx
[Disclosure: Some links are affiliates. Thank you to Urban Decay, Superdrug, Verso, Proto-col, Ruby Red and Samaya for generously providing me with samples for this post. And to those brands who didn’t make the cut this month – sorry!]