New products for blue and purple dark circles under eyes!

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This article is about some products that are supposed to help improve under-eye dark blue and purple circles that appear under eyes, especially in people with pale skin.

I’ve talked quite a lot in the past about how to make lifestyle changes to get rid of blue circles and some quick fixes for blue and purple circles, but one thing people keep asking me for are articles about concealers, color correctors, and products designed to target these areas. I’ve said in the past that the targeted products don’t really work, but since I wrote my original, really long article about getting rid of blue under-eye circles, things have changed a little. That article is still packed full of good blue circle busting advice, but there’s some more products on the block that might also help you out:

So let’s first look at the two on the left: The Maybelline The Eraser Eye Perfect and Cover Concealer (in the US it’s called “Age Rewind” but for some reason they changed the name in the UK). The two on the left are different shades: Light and medium.

Firstly, they now contain peptides, which, as I’ve said before, if used over time will improve the appearance of blue and purple circles because they thicken the skin. Thinning of the skin is one of the main causes of blue under-eye circles.

Secondly, however, they also act as a concealer. The coverage isn’t huge but it does visibly reduce the under-eye blue and dark circles, especially in photographs.

I have found this product works really well in the short term, but I don’t know if there’s just not enough peptides in it, but I only noticed a very small improvement in my under-eye area over a longer term. I think you still need to make lifestyle changes overall, but this is a nice quick fix.

The only downside? It only comes in two shades: Light or medium. I’m an NC20 in the MAC color spectrum and I found light was sometimes a little too orange for me. If you have the same issue, the only way to get it to blend with your skin is to wear foundation. Obviously, that’s not a great solution if you don’t like wearing makeup or if you can’t wear it. I also found it slightly drying of the under-eye area, but I solved that by using an under-eye moisturizer under the Maybelline¬†The Eraser Eye Perfect and Cover Concealer aka Age Rewind Concealer.

Now onto the pandas: These are the Tony Moly Panda’s Dream Cooling Eye Stick and the Tony Moly Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base. They look the same, but they’re quite different. The cooling eye stick goes on like a gel, and feels light and refreshing from the moment it touches your skin. The brightening eye base is a solid white stick.

The brightening eye base is the least pleasant to apply, because it tugs on the under-eye area, but it is also the most effective of the two, for getting rid of dark and blue circles. The other one is mostly a feel-good product.

My best tip is to use the Tony Moly Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base first, then to go over it with the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer.

I’ve also found both the Panda’s Dream Brightening Eye Base and the Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer have good longevity: I bought them six months ago and they’re still going strong. I highly recommend both of these as tools in the war against blue under-eye circles. The only thing I didn’t like is with both the Tony Moly products, the stick seemed to pull itself off the base inside the panda, and now they sort of wobble loosely meaning I have to hold the actual sticks of cosmetic in place while I use them, and then I get product on my fingers during application. Of course, that doesn’t stop me recommending them.

 

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Five Asian Sheet Masks

Today I’m going to review some sheet masks that are K-beauty (and also C-beauty… China beauty. Yeah that’s a thing. And they’ve got some decent stuff available).

By the way, in case you’re wondering what happened, I scheduled my posts, one a week, for the last 4 weeks, and I thought it was a glitch that I couldn’t see them. Then, today, I checked behind the scenes and none of them are there. Hmm.
So while I’m figuring out where all my content has gone, here’s five of the face masks (sheet masks) I’ve tried since I got here, and I’m sorry if this is a weird time of day to get notified of a new post, but the scheduling thing isn’t working out so good:

Mizon Enjoy Vital Up Time Face Mask:

 


I’m not sure how I felt about this one. It was great on my skin and I felt super-chill while I wore it, but after… my face seemed moisturized and refreshed, and I was happy enough with the product, but I didn’t really feel energized or however else I’m supposed to very tactfully say, “not old” in polite conversation. It didn’t really do a lot on the anti-ageing front. There was a slight redness for a couple hours after, as you can see in the picture above where I’ve just taken the mask off, but then my face settled down again. So it’s definitely NOT one to try before an evening out. Maybe I’m being spoilt by so many sheet masks lately, because it was still above average for a sheet mask, and I think as long as you’re not looking to eradicate fine lines or smooth the skin it was good, and it did leave my skin glowing after the redness settled. There’s a selection of Mizon sheet masks available on Amazon; have you tried any of the others? I’d love to know how they turned out!

Conclusion: Great for a girly night in. Felt quite nourishing. Not so hot for fine lines.

Coryman Eye Mask Superior Shining and Repairing Eye Mask:
These were da bomb. Like, there’s no other way of describing them. I found them in a beauty store in a shopping mall in the city where I live, and they are the BEST GODDAMN THING that ever happened to my eye area.

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The scientific description is fundamentally meaningless but the actual product… I used it once and I noticed a difference under my eyes. The faint expression lines I’ve been getting since I hit 30 were gone when I wasn’t smiling. I like this. I wish they did a full face mask. I’d be all over it. It wasn’t the only thing I’ve used lately that’s shown a huge improvement in my skin’s elasticity, but it’s definitely in my top 3 products right now. Tragically, you can’t get these in the US, or I’d link you to them. ūüė¶

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As you can see, it’s got collagen, pentapeptide-4, hydrolysed silk AND vitamin E in it. I love all of those.

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And as a DISTINCT plus, you get to sorta look like Zorro when you wear it. Kinda. In the right light. Maybe I imagined that. I’ll do a comparison on this and the Sea Algae eye masks really soon.

Conclusion: I am in LOVE with these.

The Face Shop The Solution Firming Face Mask:

the solution face mask

the solution face mask2

This one definitely felt like it was doing something. It firmed but it didn’t moisturize so it needs to be paired with a face oil or serum after you use it. This was ¬£1.99 as I got it before I left the UK and just used it this week. On Sunday, I bought that cute kitty hairband to keep my hair and sheet masks separate, so they were a great combo now my hair is shorter again. If you’re in the US, you can get a multipack that includes a vast selection of The Face Shop masks on Amazon.

Conclusion: These were good on the anti-ageing front but my skin needed moisture afterwards.

I also tried tomato and broccoli masks from South Korea last week. The full name is V Prove Tomato Lycopene Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet and V Prove Broccoli Chlorophyll Vitality Phyto Therapy Mask Vitality Air Pocket Sheet. A lot of these sheet masks have names that sound like word salad. I really want to make a pun about literal salad being in these masks but I don’t remember the last time I saw broccoli in a salad:

tomato and broccoli1

No, they did NOT smell or taste like tomato or broccoli. I was disappointed. It was like the Tony Moly red wine mask all over again (I’ve STILL not tried the Tony Moly rice one, because it’s to help clear skin and I haven’t had a breakout in SO long). I thought the “chlorophyll” in the broccoli one was a little silly, since human beings have no use for chlorophyll, and when my friend first showed me these masks my first thought about the chlorophyll was, “it’s what plants need” (its from a film called Idiocracy where people just repeat stuff they saw on adverts). The broccoli one was okay, and my skin felt fairly happy after I used it (I needed to moisturize after, though), but the tomato one (maybe this was obvious to anyone who wasn’t me) just made my face really red and sensitive for a day or two. At first I thought it would be gone in an hour or two but as time went on I realized it wasn’t fading. Eek!! I already have a redness problem, so I don’t recommend the tomato one. Maybe the tomato ones are for a different skin type (one that doesn’t have a redness problem). The broccoli one was like the Mizon Vital Up Time mask; the effects were moderate, but it was nice for a quiet evening spent not leaving the apartment! And I may have been imagining it but I sorta think (maybe, possibly, perhaps…) the redness was lessened with the broccoli one. I can’t find either of these on Amazon but there is a VProve soy one on there. I’ve not tried that, though, and since the broccoli was fairly decent, but the tomato was a miss, I’m not sure I’m going to try the soy one any time soon. Anyway, these come in a multipack so I have a lot of broccoli and tomato to use up, now!
Conclusion: Broccoli was a hit. Tomato was a miss.

Overall, then, The Face Shop and Mizon masks were predictably quite good, but they’re kinda expensive. I liked the broccoli face mask and it was unbeatable on value for money, but it definitely didn’t work any miracles. The Coryman eye masks were AMAZING and I need to get me more of these just as soon as I remember the name of the shop. I know the name of the mall, though, so it can’t be too hard to find… right?? Right???

Having said all that, no face mask will fix beauty issues on its own, and I’m going to talk about serums and essences next time, because I’ve found a couple of really nice ones that work very well when used as part of a beauty routine that incorporates regular sheet masks.

Review: Japonesque Concealer Brush

This is a review of the Japonesque concealer brush, which I will compare to the Sigma F-70 concealer brush.

japonesque concealer brush vs sigma f-70 concealere brush review
Left: The Sigma F-70 concealer brush. Right: The Japonesque concealer brush.

I really wanted to like this brush as it seemed like an interesting shape and overall idea, although when I saw it online I wasn’t sure how it would work with liquid concealer. I kinda thought that would fall into place once I got it, or maybe (since it’s such a weird design for a concealer brush) that the company would have put instructions on the back or at least said what sort of concealer it was good for in the product listing.

When it arrived, I opened it up and put it side by side with my Sigma F-70 concealer brush, which is my single favorite make-up brush in the universe, it’s got the perfect firmness and soft texture, and it applies concealer fantastically well.

japonesque concealer brush vs sigma f-70 concealere brush review
Bristles close-up. Left: Sigma F-70 concealer brush. Right: Japonesque concealer brush.

I still wasn’t clear on how the Japonesque concealer brush could be used to actually apply concealer. So I got my color corrector pallette, which had cakes of semi-solid color corrector and concealer, all of which had the texture of lipstick, and I swirled my brush.

It refused to pick up any product at all.

I tried again, for longer. The tiniest bit of product got onto the bristles, and when I tried to apply it to my face it refused.

It looks like a brush but it doesn’t act like one.

Thinking that it might do better with liquid concealer, I tried it with the Mac Pro-Longwear concealer. Oh God, bad idea, don’t try that it makes a huge mess. And it still doesn’t really apply it to the face. When I look at the brush, it screams “powder brush” so I don’t understand how it’s supposed to work with concealers, which are almost always liquid. It doesn’t have the flat base or bristle texture for buffing a product into skin, either. It would probably work well as a blusher brush for a very small face, i.e. a 6 year old child. I’ve tried it with the Body Shop powder foundation (which I sometimes use as a concealer) and it left a huge unblended shapeless blob of product that was far too big for the area I was trying to conceal.

The thing is, in order for something to be called a concealer brush, I feel that I should reasonably be able to use it to… I don’t know… apply concealer. So regardless of how well it might work for applying some other type of make-up, I paid ¬£10 for a concealer brush that doesn’t apply concealer (it’s $13.30 in the US). I will have to buy another Sigma F-70, which is really annoying because of the amount of money this Japonesque brush cost, it was almost the same price as the Sigma F-70 and I seriously don’t have a use for it.

So, since I just had a bad experience with the Japonesque precision lash curler, I’m going to take Japonesque off my list of companies to buy products from, because two in a row is just disgraceful at the prices they charge for their products. I’d expect better from a ¬£1.99 drugstore make up brush.

100% do not recommend.

Review: Chanel Nail Varnish in Ballerina

So, I spent all week stressing about not having enough money, then I decided to make myself feel better… by spending money. So now I’m the owner of a bottle of Chanel Longwear Nail Colour in shade 167 Ballerina. I wanted some China Glaze but I couldn’t find any in TK Maxx so I went to the Chanel counter at John Lewis and bought this instead. I have never had high-end nail polish before, but I bought it because I read this article where they said it’s one of the best (along with China Glaze, Essie and Opi) for not chipping. I’ve had the same nail varnish for about 2 years as I liked the color, but it chipped SO BAD that it looked like it had been on a week after a day, which is why I thought I’d go for the best this time.

This is not only my first high-end nail varnish, it’s also my first Chanel product, and the very first time I’d ever been to the Chanel counter.

The Chanel counter assistant swatched Ballerina for me on a piece of clear plastic sticky tape on the back of my hand, alongside Organdi, because I couldn’t decide between the two colors from looking at the bottles. Organdi is a neutral nude in a generally flattering shade, whereas Ballerina looked almost white when swatched. I bought it and they wrapped it in a piece of paper scented with Chanel No. 5 then put it in a bag that was fastened with a piece of ribbon that says Chanel along it. Two days later the perfume is still making me smile (I love Chanel No. 5; if there was a room spray I’d totally get it, but the perfume never mixes well with my skin, and it produces a weird scent, so I can’t wear it despite how much I love the smell in general).

As soon as I got home I put it on my fingers and it took AGES to dry because I kept moving and smudging it. Also, I’d been doing the layers too thinly (because my old nail varnish was a one-and-done kinda nail varnish). Ballerina is really sheer and needs 2-3 thick layers, so I ended up with 5 thin layers on one hand and 4 medium ones on the other, and I still managed to smudge it again on one finger!! It was only a little smudge so I decided to do nothing about it.

It came out a really pale pink and I love the color.

Two days after I put it on (and bear in mind I’ve done SO¬†much housework and cleaning and reorganizing which is usually certain death for nail varnish) it’s still got no chips at all and it’s still super shiny!

Chanel longwear nail colour 167 Ballerina review
You can’t tell that this is 2 days later!!

Conclusion: This is the best nail varnish I ever got! Five out of five for longevity! Usually when things say “longwear” it’s code for “sub-standard and never comes off” but in this case, it really, truly does what it’s supposed to! I’m thinking about getting another one when I next get paid, in a darker color. Obviously I can’t say that it’s the best high end nail varnish because it’s the only one I’ve tried, but I still completely love it and think it was worth ¬£20 just for the fact I feel more confident wearing nail varnish now that I can touch things without chipping it! I’m definitely going to get some China Glaze as soon as I can find it so I can do a comparison review.

Nature Love Sea Algae Eye masks

I discovered that Home Sense also does beauty products this week. Like, they have similar stuff to TK Maxx (because they’re basically the same shop, only Home Sense does housewares and TK Maxx does fashion… even their price tags are designed the same). So, when I discovered their stunning range of Korean sheet masks (which kinda aren’t on a discount) I decided to try some, especially since I need to figure out where I’m at with K-beauty before I move to Asia in August.

As you all know, I suffer from blue under-eye circles (which are actually sometimes purple circles) due to allergies and find myself constantly working hard to get rid of my blue circles, so under-eye masks are something I’m always willing to try when I see them for sale.

It’s cheaper to get the Tony Moly ones from Amazon… BUT only if you want 10 face masks, which comes to about ¬£10. If you want 1 face mask… yeah Amazon doesn’t do that. So while they were ¬£1.99 per face mask at Home Sense (twice the price of Amazon), I still thought it was worth it to try out some of these masks (more on Tony Moly in a future post). The ones I tried out today were eye masks that were ¬£3.99 for a pack of 5 pairs, and are by an obscure Korean brand called Nature Love, who aren’t on Amazon but if you see them for sale anywhere, they seemed pretty nice.

nature love sea algae eye masks review
Nature Love Sea Algae Eye Masks

Today I’m going to talk about the sea algae eye masks that I bought. They came in a pack of 3 and I hoped they’d be super hydrating and moisturizing for my normal-to-dry skin.
I put them on for, like, half an hour (it said 10-20 mins but you’re not supposed to wash the stuff off after so I thought it would be fine). One issue I had with them was that they kept sliding down my face. I don’t normally have this problem with eye masks (I quite like the Montagne Jeunesse re-usable ones, which currently live in my fridge), so that was surprising.

nature love sea algae eye masks review

nature sea algae eye masks review before after

After I took them off, as you can see, the area that had eye mask on was… whitened? I’d been out in the sun that day so the contrast is quite obvious; all my face was the same color before I used these eye masks. I’m not sure it’s a useful effect for my skin, given that I’m already fairly pale. What I wanted was for the indentations around my under-eyes to be less obvious. However, the skin tone certainly seemed firmer and blue circles were somewhat reduced. How long that will last is anybody’s guess.

Have you got a go-to under eye mask? I can never decide if they’re worth using, or if I should use them more regularly than once in a blue moon to get some better results, but they don’t take up much space so I don’t mind buying them occasionally.

Stay tuned next time for a review of the Tony Moly I’m Real Face Masks! This means I can’t forget to use them before I next write a blog post (I have a bad habit of buying face masks and forgetting about them).

Review: Outlandish Scotland Journey Part 1 and 2

When I read Diana Gabaldon‚Äôs ‚ÄúOutlander‚ÄĚ series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager)*, I thought to myself, ‚ÄúI really want to go to those places and see those things.‚ÄĚ I often wish it was easier to find stuff in Scotland but there’s so many things in Scotland that it can be hard to know where to look for anything specific! Anyway, that was before they made a TV show out of it, and now there’s even more Outlander locations in Scotland!

*Book 1 was retitled Cross-Stitch in the UK for some stupid reason, and they wonder why it was initially less popular over here; it’s still the same love story between Jamie and Claire.

Another rainbow in the West Highlands of Scotland on the way to Loch Ness.

The first guide, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 1, covers the Outlander sites between Edinburgh and Inverness, while the second, Outlandish Scotland Journey part 2, covers Inverness and a whole plethora of sites around the city. In both cases, the sites are marked on a map so you can see the route that goes between them all.

If that’s not enough, there are also very clear directions explaining how to get to each location, and the guides are very clear about what you will find in each place, with lots of details to help you make the most of your holiday. One thing I especially liked was the thistle icons that rated each location, and showed whether a location was worth visiting or not, so I could see at-a-glance how many sites to¬†spend time visiting (nearly all of them… now I just need a reliable vehicle to travel in).

Another thing I liked was the author has found pictures of what the places look like, and put them alongside what the places looked like in the TV series, so you get an idea about how similar the places are in real life (for example, some buildings in Culross were painted for filming so in real life they’re a different colour).

One more thing that I liked about these¬†guides is that they¬†give you the disabled access information, so if you are traveling as a disabled person or if you‚Äôre taking someone who is disabled, you have a good sense of whether you can get into any specific place. I’ve talked before about why that’s important to include in travel guides as it can make or break some people’s trips.

It was also useful to know how much time to schedule for each aspect of the trip; for example, it tells you how much time each itinerary will take, depending on whether you want to do it faster or slower, so you have a good idea of how much time to budget.

Other things that you will find in these guide books include: Where to park, for sites where parking isn‚Äôt immediately obvious; whether any individual attraction is worth a visit or not (and an explanation and references showing why not, if it‚Äôs bad, so you can make an informed choice); how much they cost; and there are even lots of extras, such as places of interest that weren’t in the books/TV series but are still worth a visit while you’re in each area.

These Outlandish Scotland Journey ebook guides also really make use of being in an electronic format, by linking to additional useful information, which basically means it’s like someone went out and painstakingly researched your holiday for you, so all you have to do is follow the route and have a great time! Or, if, like me, you’re the sort of person who likes to go out and discover things, these guides have a lot of mileage in them as well; I would choose the most interesting locations, and see what turned up in the space between them while I was traveling (because Scotland has a LOT of space).

If you live in Scotland, you could do some of these locations as a series of day-trips at the weekend, rather than a long holiday, and it would certainly be a great way to spend your days off! If I still lived in Edinburgh, I would definitely do that.

These guides are useful for a wide range of readers, both locals and further afield, and my overall conclusion is that they are well worth a buy if you are going anywhere in Scotland this year or researching a future trip.

Find the Outlandish Scotland Journey guides on Amazon here: Part 1 and Part 2
Or find out more here: Outlandish Scotland Journey website

Review: iPhone SE 16GB

So I decided that I’d review my iPhone, since I’ve had it for a few months now. First, let me start by saying, I’ve never owned any Apple product before in my life. I had no idea what to expect when I bought this phone, and I only went by whether it would do what I wanted it to.

I spent ages looking through phone reviews of Sony, Alcatel, Samsung Galaxy and some weird brands I’d never heard of. The thing was, they were all very, very expensive or the reviews implied they were incredibly crap BY DESIGN. Seriously? Who spends R&D money designing a phone to be awful? The iPhone SE was the only phone at the mid-range price point. I’m not really interested in paying ¬£400 or ¬£500 for a phone, and when some phones were selling at¬†up to ¬£900, they¬†can fuck right off. I didn’t spend that much money on my LAPTOP and that was essential for working.

I bought the 16GB phone rather than the 64GB phone for one reason: Price. The 16GB was ¬£289.99 second hand (unlocked) and the 64GB one was over ¬£400.00 at the time (they’re probably a little cheaper now), so it didn’t make sense to spend so much extra money. If you’re the sort of person who likes to store films and music and whatnot on your phone, you might want to get the bigger phone. I upload my photos regularly and I don’t tend to download many apps, so the 16GB suits me because it’s realtime data (eg. mapping, Facebook and Snapchat and Kindle for iPhone) that I need my phone to handle. The iPhone SE does these things comfortably, without an overcomplicated interface or installation system. I had never used an Apple phone before, and I was amazed by how easy it was to get everything to work straight out of the box.

Another thing I like about this phone is that there are a lot of nice phone cases available for it. I currently have a Cinderella phone case with moving glitter inside that’s like having a snowglobe on the back of my phone. I also have one that has the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter. I really love that there is so much scope to customize my phone and make it look unique.

The camera is quite good; not as good as my DSLR, of course, but it gets some nice pictures when I just want snapshots of things. The front camera is only 2.1 Megapixel and I thought that would be awful compared to the 8MP camera on my old Huawei, but Apple have done a lot with a little and the camera is better than the 8MP one I used to have, and the colors on things come out much more accurately. The normal camera is 12MP and both cameras have produced decent shots.

I also liked the battery life. People complained about it, but given that I’m used to my old Huawei Ascend’s battery lasting less than a day on a full charge when I don’t even use the internet on it, I was pleasantly impressed that my iPhone lasts 2-3 days on a charge, even though I have Wi-Fi or Mobile Data switched on pretty much 24/7.

The thing that stood out the most though was the commonality of it. When I was choosing a new phone, I literally asked everyone I met about their phones. So many people were cursing the day they spent large amounts of money on their Android phones, but everyone with the iPhone SE was telling me how much they liked it, and showing me how it worked, and so on. Everyone with an iPhone SE was happy to spend the time talking to a complete stranger about how well their phone handled Pokemon Go or how many photos they’d stored on it. I liked that, because I figured that if anything went wrong with my new phone, there would be a hugely supportive and knowledgable community of iPhone users who were able to help me out.

In fact, every time I’ve not known how to do something on my phone, my friends with iPhone SEs have showed me how it works. Usually, it’s because I’m used to everything being over-complicated on my previous Android phone, and I haven’t found a single thing that was harder to do on an iPhone. It’s nice when one little aspect of life is a bit easier. I don’t like overcomplicating things; my brain does enough of that anyway.

So, after 5 months, I’m finally ready to recommend the iPhone SE. If, like me, you want to get a second hand phone, Amazon are selling a few¬†reconditioned iPhone SEs in 16GB and 64GB like this one.

If you already have an iPhone SE, I highly recommend the Kindle for iPhone, because it lets you read all your ebooks on your phone (and if you don’t own a Kindle, I also recommend the Kindle for PC free app from Amazon to read ebooks for free).