All posts filed under: Reviews

Vapour Beauty

Vapour Beauty products tick a multitude of boxes for me. They’re organic and ethical, which means I can use them without guilt. They can be used to achieve a natural look, which is pretty much my signature these days. Because they’re mostly cream/stick formulations, they work well on mature skin, so I don’t have to worry about the products settling into lines and wrinkles, or making my crepey eyelids look worse.  They contain a wealth of skincare ingredients, such as antioxidants, which give my skin an added boost of health with every use. And many of the products are multi-use, so my makeup bag is satisfyingly lightweight. Here are three of my favourites. Multi-use Classic Blush. This ultra-smooth and sparkle-free formula can be used on lips, cheeks, and eyelids, or to give a sun-kissed look to other parts of the face. It’s dead easy to apply and it blends well without dragging on the skin. I went for the shade Spark – a fresh, light peachy-pink, but there are loads of other shades if you …

Skincare Favorites 2017

A bit late, but as promised, I’ve compiled a list of my most-loved skincare from 2017. It wasn’t a year of discovery for me, as I tend not to vary my skincare too much. There were a few standout products, though, and I’m happy to report, all of these are quite reasonably priced. I recently began using The Face Shop’s Rice Water Cleansing Rich Oil, and I absolutely love it. Its thin, and rather watery consistency makes it easy to spread over the face, and the blend of oils and emulsifiers means it removes makeup – even waterproof mascara – with minimal effort. I use it with a hot cloth and it always removes every speck of makeup in just a few seconds. It doesn’t strip the skin and leaves it soft, supple, and ready to receive additional skincare. Another stellar Korean skincare find was the It’s Skin Fresh Mask Sheet Blueberry. I received one of these as a free sample with an order and decided to try it while I was ill just before …

Suqqu Foundation

I was rummaging around in my desk drawer last weekend and came across an unopened box containing a jar of Suqqu Foundation. I’ve no idea how long it had been in there, but I would reckon at least a year as that’s when I drifted away from wearing it nearly every day. At £62, it isn’t cheap, so I assume this must have been why I decided to try something new. Silly of me, really. I’ve trialled at least a dozen foundations since, and none compare to the brilliant Suqqu. It’s quite a thick, rich foundation, so it works very well on dry or mature skin. The amount of coverage depends on the amount you use. I like to apply it with a brush and then sheer it out, but it’s very buildable, so you can add more to get medium to full coverage. Aside from being a perfect colour match for my skin, there are two things that make Suqqu Foundation special. The first is that it looks like good skin. This takes a little …

2017 Makeup Discoveries

2017 was the year I changed almost every makeup product I use. It was also the year I moved to a less ‘made up’ look, especially for daytime. I tried a lot of products, and I’m sorry to say that quite a few were duds. But there were some amazing standouts. These are the ones I discovered. New to the UK in 2017 is Glossier. They offer a great range of skincare and natural-looking makeup. Three of their products really stood out for me. I love their Cloud Paint – a cute little tube of creamy colour that works amazingly well as a blusher or eyeshadow. I also use it as a lip colour and, very occasionally, as a contour. I’ve tried all of the colours, and my favourite by a long shot is Dusk – a peachy, pinky, versatile shade. Another favourite product from Glossier is their Stretch Concealer. It is, by far, the most natural-looking under-eye concealer I’ve ever tried, but the best bit is that it does not crease! Set with a …

Rescue and Recovery

I’m just getting over the first cold I’ve had in years, and I have to say that my skin didn’t handle it well. Three days of decongestants, nose blowing and feeling tearful left my skin in a bad state. It was dehydrated, dry and chapped in a few places. Time for a bit of TLC. The skin around my nose was raw and peeling, despite my use of ‘luxury’ tissues, so needed something to soothe and repair. For this, I used Mama Mio Keep Calm nipple balm, £12. Patted onto irritated skin, it immediately soothes, moisturises, and prevents further peeling. It also acts as barrier to protect skin from additional irritation and damage. It’s all-natural, unscented, and works extremely well on chapped skin and lips. I’m never without a tube in the medicine cabinet. As expected, the skin on my eyelids flared up and became quite scaly and uncomfortable. To get it back under control, I slathered both lids in DHC Concentrated Eye Cream, £27.90. This lovely, light-but-effective cream contains olive oil and squalane to combat dryness. It …

Surratt Relevee Lash Curler

Since I’ve been using Revitalash growth serum, my lashes have grown quite long. Sadly, they’re also very straight, so without curling them it appears I have no lashes at all. I’ve been using the Shu Umura lash curler for years and been quite happy with it, but recently I heard about a new lash curler from Surratt Beauty. The Relevee Lash Curler, £28, doesn’t look like anything special, but don’t let that fool you. It is an amazing lash curler that fans lashes out into the most beautiful, uplifted shape without crimping. Instead of appearing bent, lashes look naturally upturned and feathery. Apply a bit of waterproof mascara and your lashes will stay curled all day. One of the most pleasing features I’ve discovered is that it’s nearly impossible to pinch the skin around your eye with this lash curler. It also has a soft ‘bite’, so I doubt it would ever break the lashes like some of the other curlers I’ve tried. I had a difficult time getting hold of one of these because they’re constantly sold …

Three Ordinary Favourites

Skincare doesn’t have to be expensive. Superdrug proved this years ago with their wonderful hydrating facial serum. But what about skincare with effective active ingredients? Can these also be affordable? If you’ve tried any products from The Ordinary, you’ll know the answer is a resounding yes. If your skin lacks hydration, Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90, is a great first step to add to your skincare routine. It sinks into the skin instantly and leaves no residue. If my skin is feeling exceptionally parched, I apply it two or three times in a row, pausing only to allow each layer to absorb into the skin. The hyaluronic acid immediately plumps and hydrates the skin, while the vitamin B5 offers longer-term benefits to the skin. At £12.90, Buffet is one of the more expensive products by The Ordinary, but you do get a tremendous amount of skincare for your money. This potent cocktail is full of peptides, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, and a probiotic complex. It can be used morning and night. I like it as a …

DIY Cushion Compact Foundation

I’ve been on the hunt for a holy grail foundation for awhile. A couple have come close – It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream and Perricone No Foundation Serum Foundation, but neither are perfect. I like them both because they look like skin once applied, but the colours on offer are limited, and I can’t quite get a perfect match. I did find a perfect colour match in Armani’s Power Fabric foundation, but the coverage is much heavier than I like for everyday wear, so I decided to try to modify it to suit my skin. If you haven’t tried Armani Power Fabric foundation, £36, I do recommend it. While it’s very full coverage, it doesn’t look cakey or unnatural on mature skin. It is slightly matte, so I like to use it with a glowy primer. It’s the perfect foundation for a special occasion or a night out because it looks amazing and does not budge. I do find it too heavy for daily wear, though, so I decided to thin it out …

Sensitive

It’s been a whole year since I started writing makeup and skincare reviews here at Fig & Pen, and I’ve enjoyed it more than I can say.  Since I only review things I like, I can be positive and promote the products I truly believe in.  And I hope I’ve been able to help others make more informed choices about what they spend their money on. When I began testing products, my skin was quite sensitive, and I hoped I’d be able to help guide others with the same skin issues, but over the past couple of months, I’ve found I can hardly deviate from my tried and tested skincare ritual without suffering some sort of reaction.  When a recent trial of a fairly innocuous cleanser led to an inflamed eyelid, I knew my days as a tester were numbered. This doesn’t mean I’ll give up completely but, going forward, I won’t be able to review products weekly the way I’ve done in the past.  What I will do is search out cosmetics for those of …

Olay Regenerist 3-Point Cream

A few weeks ago, I noticed I was running low on my usual night cream.  It’s quite expensive, but I do feel it works.  I’d heard about Olay’s Regenerist 3-Point Cream from a trusted YouTuber I follow, so I decided to give it a try.  If it’s as good as advertised, it could save me quite a bit of money. Because I’m sensitive, I went for the unscented version and I’m happy to report it works well.  It contains niacinamide, panthenol, hyaluronc acidm and an aminopeptide complex so it feeds as well as hydrates the skin.  It claims to firm and lift sagging skin, but I’ve not yet seen this effect.  The texture of my skin has improved, though.  The little lines under my eyes have diminished and my skin appears more hydrated and healthy. At £30, Olay Regenerist 3-Point Cream is a bargain, and I can honestly say it works as well as the £125 cream I’ve been using for the past year.  It agrees with my sensitive skin, plumps out fine lines and keeps my face feeling hydrated and …

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm

A lovely reader asked me recently how my beloved Emma Hardie cleanser compared to Clinique’s Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, £22.  Since I’d not used it before, it was the perfect time to buy a jar and try it out – and I have to say,  I’m impressed! When I opened the Take the Day Off, I was delighted to find it unscented.  As I’ve mentioned many times, my skin can be very sensitive, and fragrance-free products are less likely to irritate.  The balm itself was quite soft, and melted into a lovely oil on the skin. Where Take the Day Off really excels is eye makeup removal.  It easily dissolved my waterproof mascara and didn’t make my eyes water.  It also removed every scrap of foundation and left my skin feeling clean, soft and balanced.  Sadly, after a few uses, it caused the skin on my eyelid to turn that familiar shade of red, warning me not to continue lest I risk a weeks-long battle against inflammation.  I don’t think this cleanser would irritate most sensitive …

Gentle Morning Cleansers

I often skip cleaning my face in the morning – just a bit of warm water and a gentle buff with a muslin cloth works well, especially on my dry, sensitive skin.  When I do need to use a cleanser in the morning, it has to be super gentle. Natural Being Manuka Creamy Cleanser, £13, is one of the gentlest cleansers I’ve tried. Made with olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil and, of course, Manuka honey, it effectively cleans the skin without leaving it feeling tight or stripped of its natural oils.  It is pleasantly and lightly scented with essential oils, but this has never bothered my sensitive eyes or skin. Another good choice is MV Organic Skincare Gentle Cream Cleanser, £35.50.  Not only is it gentle, but with repeated use it can help combat skin sensitivity over time.  It contains camellia oil and chamomile, both known for their skin-soothing properties.  It’s also extremely gentle and doesn’t leave skin feeling over-cleansed or dry. If you want something fragrance free, Eucerin’s Mild Cleansing Milk, £9, is free not only …

Big Hair

Having grown up in Alabama in the 80s, I know a thing or two about big hair.  It’s not as fashionable as it once was, but I’m still a fan.  Even through the board-straight, flat-haired Rachel-from-Friends years, I loved big hair. There are a few ways to achieve big hair, but I’ve found the easiest and least damaging way is to use a lifting spray.  For the last year or so, my favourite has been SachaJuan Volume Powder, £22.  Just a couple of sprays of this product directly on the roots of your hair gives it tremendous lift and volume, and the effect lasts pretty much all day.   They also do a version for dark hair, and while it doesn’t leave behind the annoying white powder, it also doesn’t work nearly as well.  The trick is to ‘floof’ it with your fingers until the powder disappears.  If the whiteness doesn’t go away once you’ve worked it into you hair, you’ve used too much. If you’re after a cheaper version that works just as well, I …

Iope Cushion Foundation

Cushion cosmetics have been around for years, but I’ve stayed away from them for a few reasons – the main one being they appear gimmicky and are not good value for money.  So much investment goes into the packaging that the product inside is often a fraction of the amount you’d get if you bought the same formulation in a bottle. Most cushion formulas come in the form of a compact.  There is a sort of sponge or mesh ‘cushion’ inside which distributes the product when pressure is applied via a puff-type applicator.  While issues of hygiene do niggle at the back of my mind, I was willing to give a cushion foundation a try.  A friend recommended I try one from Iope. As a foundation for mature skin, Iope sounds perfect.  Made up of 30% pure water and containing an array of peptides, vitamin B5, vitamin E and an SPF of 50+, it should work well with ageing skin.  I wanted something lightweight for spring and summer, and I was sure this would be exactly want I was …

Cheap & Easy Makeup Brush Cleaning

Good makeup brushes are expensive, so it’s important to take good care of them.  This means regular cleaning, which can be a bit of a pain.  I used to dread the task until I discovered a cheap, easy, and very quick way to gently get my makeup brushes squeaky clean with minimal fuss. For this method, you’ll need two things: A silicone pet brush like this one from The Groom Room.  You want one with little bumps on one side and soft spikes on the other.  Don’t spend a lot!  The one above comes in at £8.50 and should last years. A bottle of Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile Soap.  This comes in a variety of scents as well as an unscented baby version, so choose the one you like best.  Again, you don’t need to spend a lot.  I buy it by the litre for around £14 and it lasts ages. To get started, lay the silicone brush in a sink exactly as it’s pictured above with the larger soft spikes pointing down.  Squirt about a …