It feels so good to be doing a monthly favourites blog post again, my last one was like what….in October!? I don’t exactly know why I took a break from doing these posts, because I really enjoy highlighting my current favourite beauty products (plus the occasional lifestyle product as well).
First things first, since you and I are friends (well, in my mind we are) I thought I’d share with you that 2016 is shaping up to be an amazing year so far! Aside from all the lovely bits and bobs I’m about to show you, one thing that really stood out to me during February is my love for my blog. I’m really enjoying the opportunities that have come my way so far, and although it’s not always easy keep the momentum going (things get crazy busy sometimes), it is certainly starting to pay off! I’m not talking about sponsored opportunities, although I must admit, it is nice to get paid every now and again for something that you really enjoy doing. I get to work with the most amazing brands, I get to meet the loveliest people, and I also have the opportunity to test new and exciting beauty products before they have even launched to the public. It’s still extremely important for me to purchase my own makeup and beauty products as well, because I prefer to feature a mix of both products that I have paid for myself, and products that have been sent to me. As always, and by now I’m sure you already know, I ALWAYS keep it open and honest here on the blog – even if a product was sent to me for possible review, if I don’t like the product…well, then I am going to let you know why I don’t like it. In a way I see myself as a guinea pig (although I’m not as cute as a furry little guinea pig) or as one of my readers recently pointed out to me I’m the ‘tester’ when there are no testers to swatch in-store.
I have no idea where that paragraph came from but here’s the point I was trying to make: Last year sucked, but I’m working really hard to make 2016 the best year that it can be. And that goes for both my personal life, and my blog. In February I was able to see a change – my hard work is paying off, and it honestly feels like I have so many friends all over South Africa (even though we’ve never met). Thank you for every comment, every ‘like’, every retweet, every follow, every share, and every compliment. I don’t think you know how much I LOVE reading comments on my blog, it’s like receiving a pen pal letter every day.
Yesterday was Pink Peonies’ THIRD birthday! Hipray! Hipray! …I completely forgot! But as luck would have it, I have quite a few amazing giveaways lined up for this month. It just sort of happened, it’s like the stars aligned and brands contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to host giveaways on the blog for them.
So…make sure you follow me on ALL my social media platforms because trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the giveaway prizes. My social media buttons are at the top right hand corner, just underneath my profile photo – you can click on each button to go follow me.
Anyway, let’s take a look at all the products that rocked my socks off during the month of February:
THE BODY SHOP SHADE ADJUSTING DROPS – LIGHTENING ♥ R300,00
We’re starting with my number 1 favourite product for the past 2 months – what a total lifesaver! I will never have to worry about purchasing a foundation that might be just a little bit too dark for my skin tone again. It’s always difficult to find that p-e-r-f-e-c-t shade, but with the help of this product you can turn an ‘almost perfect shade’ into a spot-on match for your skin. You can read my full review (with swatches) of both the ‘Lightening’ and ‘Darkening’ drops in this blog post, but in short, the ‘Lightening’ drops will lighten any foundation without changing the formula, finish, undertone or longevity. Everyone needs this in their makeup collection – I am terrified that this product might be discontinued one day (don’t worry, there’s no talk of that happening), so I’ve bought a backup for my backup. Hurraaaah for The Body Shop 3-for-2 promotions (and a sneaky R50,00 birthday voucher)!
The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops are available at The Body Shop stores nationwide.
WOOLWORTHS JT ONE NAIL POLISH ♥ R29,95
I received a very generous parcel from Woolworths a few weeks ago. The parcel contained all their new beauty and makeup products i.e. WBeauty Face Contour Kit, WBeauty Eyebrow Kit, WBeauty Strobing Glow Cream, WBeauty Body Bronzer and their JT One Nail Polishes. I was so taken by these new products, I popped into Woolworths a few days thereafter and bought one of their WBeauty Chubby Eyeshadow Sticks (looks very similar to the Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint) in the shade ‘Fudge’. Anyway, I have never used a Woolies nail polish before and so I was keen to test the formula of these affordable polishes. The shade ‘#Funky’ grabbed my attention first, and so that is the first shade I applied to my nails. Ladies, this dusty purple shade is so beautiful and I think it’s the perfect shade to carry us into Autumn. In a way it’s bright & cheery enough so you won’t miss Spring / Summer too much, but it’s also muted and will look stunning with the greys and jewel tones that Autumn / Winter is known for.
The packaging reminds me a bit of the Butter London nail polish bottles in that the white rectangular lid pops off to reveal another rounded lid that you twist to open up the polish. The formula of #Funky is very good, I didn’t find it to be streaky or sheer. The swatch you see in the photo is 2 thin layers of polish with no top coat. In terms of longevity, some shades last longer than others – this pretty purple lasts on my nails for about 3 to 4 days before it starts to chip. Not bad for a R30,00 nail polish!
WBeauty products are available at Woolworths stores (not the food markets) and in the Woolworths online store.
By the way: Did you know the Woolworths online store now stocks Clarisonic brushes and refill brush heads?! Yep, literally anyone can now get their hands on my ultimate holy grail skincare tool – take a look here.
HASK MINT ALMOND OIL SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER ♥ R129,95
I have fine, limp and rather confused hair. It’s actually a contradiction in itself, because my roots have no body at all, but the lengths of my hair (when air dried) has that ‘Mia from Princess Diaries’ frizz and wave to it. My problem area is definitely the top of my head at my roots, if I don’t use some type of volumising product or don’t tease just a little bit, I look like a wet dog. HASK hair care products have been long-standing favourites of mine (you can read my review on 2 of their hair care ranges here), their products are salon quality with a budget-friendly price tag. And let’s not forget: ALL their products are sulfate- and paraben free, plus they are also free of artificial colours, phthalates, gluten, and drying alcohol (ingredients that strip your hair from the natural oils that protect it).
The Mint Almond Oil hair care range boosts and restores hair with a high content of omega fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium and almond oil. It also helps to thicken up each hair strand, which increases overall body and volume – giving lifeless hair a little more oomph. It also contains peppermint oil to help fortify and stimulate the hair and scalp. I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, peppermint oil stimulates the hair follicle by increasing blood circulation and oxygen supply. Hair follicles and roots are able to grow at their full potential when there is a sufficient supply of oxygen, so if you have thinning hair then this is the hair care range for you. Struggle with dandruff? Peppermint oil restores normal scalp conditions, it makes the scalp less dry (without creating additional oil) and eventually also helps to eliminate dandruff which is usually the result of a dry scalp.
Both the shampoo and conditioner smell deliciously minty – it’s such a fresh and uplifting scent to use in the shower (especially in the morning). The shampoo seems to slightly lift the hair at the root and adds much more body than any other volumising shampoo I’ve used (and that includes my Moroccanoil Extra Volume Shampoo). You know that thick, fuller feeling that a good dry shampoo gives your hair? That’s what my hair feels like after using the Mint Almond Oil shampoo (obviously when it’s dry) – it really is a winner! Moving on to the conditioner, I never apply a conditioner to my roots because hair doesn’t need the extra nourishment there (it’s still healthy, virgin baby hair). I like to leave my conditioner on for about 3 to 5 minutes to allow it to work its magic. The Mint Almond Oil conditioner leaves my hair looking and feeling healthy, it’s not quite as nourishing & smoothing as my other conditioners but that’s the point – it helps to add a little bit of body and volume to the hair.
HASK hair care products are exclusive to selected Clicks stores nationwide. P.S. I can’t WAIT to buy the new HASK Charcoal With Citrus Oil range (mentioned here) – it’s a clarifying combo, so it’s perfect for hair that tends to be limp and lifeless from product buildup.
ELIZABETH ARDEN FLAWLESS START INSTANT PERFECTING PRIMER ♥ R365,00
Applying a foundation primer is ALWAYS the first step in my makeup routine – it’s a simple step, but it makes the world of difference to the overall look of my makeup. Different makeup primers usually fulfil different needs i.e. you get smoothing primers, mattifying primers, bronzing primers, illuminating primers, colour-correcting primers, longwearing primers, and the list goes on. The Elizabeth Arden Flawless Start Instant Perfecting Primer is a combination of a smoothing-, a mattifying-, and a longwearing primer. It feels extremely lightweight on the skin and smoothes out uneven areas on the skin (pores, fine lines etc). It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), and is also infused with Hyaluronic Acid to add moisture back into the skin keeping your makeup looking fresher for longer. On the press release I saw a mention of this making your skin look 5 years younger, and although I think it’s a bit of a stretch (in my opinion only Retinol and Botox can do that), I will say that it definitely does a fantastic job of blurring imperfections on the skin.
The texture of this little guy reminds me so much of the Smashbox Photo Finish Pore Minimizing Primer, it has the same ‘whipped’ texture and also has a slight tint to it (but once you apply it to the face, it melts into the skin and the tint isn’t noticeable). It glides across the skin and creates a smooth canvas for your foundation to enhance the look and wear of makeup. I actually noticed I used less than my usual amount of foundation for a really flawless finish, and my blush (which is usually first to fade) stayed in place for longer.
Top Tip: This primer can also be used for no-makeup days, it leaves skin looking perfected and shine-free thanks to time-release, skin balancing technology and oil-absorbing silica beads.
The Elizabeth Arden Flawless Start Instant Perfecting Primer will launch on the 14th of March 2016 in department stores nationwide.
SIGMA BEAUTY F03 HIGH CHEEKBONE HIGHLIGHTER BRUSH ♥ $19 / R450,00
This is my current favourite brush in my makeup brush collection! I have been lusting after the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #23 ever since it first launched in the US, but when I saw Sigma’s F03 brush in one of MakeupByTiffany‘s recent videos I was SOLD. I had to have it! I’ve been a fan of Sigma makeup brushes since 2010, and without a doubt 80% of my entire makeup brush collection (and it’s a rather large collection) is made up of Sigma brushes. I find their brushes are great quality, plus they have always been so inventive with all their products. They are definitely market leaders – Spa Brush Cleaning Glove, 3D Angled Kabuki Brush, Dry ‘n Shape Tower, Special FX Brush Set, and let’s not even get into how unique their Spa Brush Cleaning Mat is.
Anyway, so Sigma Beauty contacted me just over a month ago and asked if they could send me a selection of their products. I was over the moon! I was able to choose which products I wanted to test out and so I sent them a list of products I was most excited about (most of them are new launches and a bit of makeup, since I already own a lot of their other brushes). My parcel arrived about 4 days later and it was like opening a gift on Christmas morning! I’ll be doing a blog post where I’ll feature and review all the products I received, but I’m still trying to think of a name for the new series of blog posts. I can’t call it a ‘haul’ because I didn’t pay for the products…so I’ve come up with ‘Pink Peonies Postbox’ (to feature interesting PR products that have been sent to me). What do you think?
Getting back to the F03 High Cheekbone Highlighter Brush – first and foremost, it contains tapered synthetic Sigmax bristles which means it’s both cruelty-free and can be used with cream, liquid and powder products. The brush is quite dense but feels super soft, and the fluffy but firm, tapered shape perfectly blends any luminous highlighter on the upper cheekbones, tip of the nose, cupid’s bow and any other areas you want to accentuate. I’ve even used this brush to blend and set my under eye concealer (it’s so light and fluffy, it doesn’t disrupt any liquid or cream products underneath) and to contour my nose in the most natural way. What sets it apart from my other highlighter brushes, is that it really pops those shimmery highlighters for you – I have no idea if it’s the type of bristles, or the beveled edge of the brush but it intensifies especially powder highlighting products and blends them out flawlessly as well. The size of the brush is small enough to fit into smaller areas on the face, plus it’s also precise enough to focus on certain areas where you want your highlighter to pop the most.
You can purchase Sigma Beauty makeup brushes in the Sigma Beauty online store (they ship worldwide, or you can use Aramex to deliver your parcel), or locally you can purchase their brushes in the Turquoise Studio online store as well. If you do decide to purchase from the Sigma online store directly, don’t forget to use their 10% discount code SIGMA2016.
SMASHBOX INSTA-MATTE LIPSTICK TRANSFORMER ♥ R290,00
You can now turn your favourite lipstick shade into a matte lippie. It’s like a matte top coat, but for your lips. Genius! As you know, the MAC lipstick in ‘Syrup’ is my current favourite shade (has been for quite some time). It’s a Lustre formula, which means it’s nice & moisturising and has a slight sheen to it. I love the actual shade of it, it’s that perfect neutral pink that goes with EVERY makeup look. With the Smashbox Insta-Matte I can transform any lipstick shade (cream, glossy or frosty) into a trendy matte lipstick. So, in essence, by having this 1 nifty little tube in your makeup collection, you can basically double the amount of lip products you own. Insta-Matte has a translucent gel texture that feels extremely comfortable on the lips, in fact the formula reminds me a bit of their Photo Finish Foundation Primer. When applied on top of your lipstick, it looks velvety and feels a little cushion-y too. Another benefit of using this product, is that it doesn’t dry out the lips like a matte lipstick usually does.
A little goes a long way with this product, and so this tube will last you for a very long time. I like to gently tap the gel onto my lips instead of rubbing it on, this will ensure you don’t disrupt your lipstick underneath. Keep in mind, though, that this product only changes the appearance of your lipstick and so you will still have the same staying power as a normal cream lipstick, it won’t increase the longevity like a true matte lipstick. I’m not the biggest fan of flat matte lipsticks, because they are SO drying on the lips – so if you’re like me, and you would like to have the option of toning down the glossiness of a lipstick, then Insta-Matte is definitely for you.
Top Tip: Don’t use the Insta-Matte on a lipgloss, it doesn’t work. The product starts to pill and forms little balls on the lips.
You can expect to see the Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer in an upcoming ‘Face Of The Day’ blog post or makeup tutorial video.
Smashbox products are available at selected Woolworths, Edgars, Red Square and Foschini stores nationwide.
INGLOT DURALINE ♥ R199,00
Isn’t it frustrating when your gel liner, brow pomade and potted eyeshadow primer dries out and gets all crusty and basically unusable? Meh, it’s happened to me more times than I care to admit and in the past I’ve often just chucked them in the bin. I was skipping around Edgars earlier in February and stopped at the INGLOT counter, I’ve always wanted to test their pigments (gosh, they’re gorgeous!) and so I decided on 2 beautiful shades (a silvery rose gold, and a light purple and gold duochrome). The sales assistant also introduced me to their Duraline product, and I’m so thankful she did. Not only is the INGLOT Duraline the solution to crusty, dried up makeup products, but it also acts as a mixing medium for your eyeshadow pigments. This is another product that I think every makeup lover should have in their collection. When you rub Duraline between your fingers, it feels like a mix between an oil and a silicone gel. It’s a paraben-free waterless clear liquid that transforms any powder product into an intense and easy to apply liquid. The possibilities are endless with this product:
♥ Use it to rehydrate and revive dried-out gel liners, Duraline transforms gel eyeliners into a type of liquid eyeliner formula without changing the intensity of the pigment. In fact, with some of my gel-based makeup products I actually get more pigmentation out of them. Add a couple of drops to your crusty gel liner, and leave to ‘marinate’ for a few minutes. Then go in with your angled liner brush, and mix it with the top layer of your gel liner. It’ll almost be better than before!
♥ Duraline intensifies any pigment, turning it into a full-on metallic finish eyeshadow. It’s like applying liquid metal to your lids. It locks the pigments in place which helps reduce smudging and smearing.
♥ Duraline makes any gel or powder product dry to an almost bulletproof finish – it doesn’t budge.
♥ Duraline makes waterproof liquid liners out of your eyeshadows or pigments – now you can sport any shade of eyeliner by using the eyeshadows you already own. Scrape off a bit eyeshadow and mix a tiny drop of Duraline with a angled liner brush. If you don’t feel comfortable scraping your eyeshadows, use a stiff brush to pick some shadow, and then mix it with Duraline on the back of your hand.
♥ I’ve even heard people Duraline as a primer for any eyeshadow, or a base for their glitter pigments adhere to.
♥ Duraline mixed with your mascara will also revive it and prevent that dried-up clumpy look. Add 1 – 2 drops of Duraline on the mascara wand, put it back into the tube, swirl it around to transform it into a rehydrated mascara.
This magic potion comes in a tiny glass bottle with a dropper cap to dispense the product, giving you total control over how much product you use. A little goes a long way, and the bottle should last you for absolute ages. I’ve used Duraline with a number of different products from different brands (MAC, Sigma Beauty, NYX, INGLOT, Palladio) and it works like a charm. Many people have compared Duraline to Make Up For Ever Aqua Seal, but Duraline contains less ingredients (which might be better for your eyes) and dries a bit slower, so you have a more time to work with your mixture.
I’ll also showcase Duraline in an upcoming video soon!
INGLOT products are available at free-standing INGLOT counters or at INGLOT counter in selected Edgars stores. Take a look at their list of stockists here. INGLOT also has an online store, but I don’t find it to be particularly user-friendly (plus the price of the Duraline is R249,00 in the online store, and I paid R199,00 at my local INGLOT counter at Edgars).
THE BODY SHOP BRITISH ROSE INSTANT GLOW BODY ESSENCE ♥ R200,00
Ok, so truth be told I’ve only used this product a handful of times but I decided it deserved a spot in my current favourites blog post. It also hasn’t launched yet, but you can look forward to seeing the entire British Rose collection pop up in-store this month still (it should be on the shelves by next week). The collection contains roses that have been grown at an environmental award-winning farm in the heart of English countryside. The roses are hand-picked, air-dried and infused on-site into fresh mountain water, a careful extraction process is what gives the British Rose collection the most exceptional rose essence.
I adore rose fragrances, but sometimes they can smell a bit old fashioned and dated. It’s definitely not the case with this limited edition range, it doesn’t have that old-school traditional rose scent, there’s a slight sweetness running through the scent making it youthful & modern, yet still very feminine. The Instant Glow Body Essence is a body lotion for the most part, it absorbs really fast, and because the texture is so lightweight, it almost feels like you’re applying a gel-cream-rose-water hybrid to the skin. It leaves my skin looking luminous and hydrated, but without any sticky residue. I’m sure you’re wondering about the shimmer factor – yes, it does contain teeny tiny little pink shimmers BUT trust me, they are hardly noticeable once applied to the skin. My skin glows under the light, but in a very natural way. This might just be my favourite Body Shop body care product yet!
You’ll be able to get your hands on the British Rose collection of products at The Body Shop stores nationwide within the next week or so.
And there you have it – all my current favourite products, and I’m honestly still loving every single on of these products! I hope you’re having a wonderful day, everyone. The weekend is in sight – hooray!
P.S. Does anyone else wake up, and immediately think: “I can’t wait to take a nap…” That was me this morning. *yawns* It must be the glorious rainy weather we’ve been having.