Tuesday, 31 December 2013

REVIEW: ARK Hydrating SkinResponse Serum

ARK Hydrating SkinResponse Serum*
I had been using a popular serum made famous by bloggers for a couple of months before trying the ARK serum and it has made me realise that despite its ability to hold 1000x its own weight in water yada yada yada it is well and truly pants for my skin; and I will tell how I reached this conclusion.

I received a lovely package from ARK in the post a few days before my birthday and since I got NO presents (yes you read that right) I decided this was a gift. Since I was unhappy with the aforementioned serum I was using at the time I basically broke my current rule about using up products and immediately slapped this on my skin.

'Cocoon your skin in a veil of hydration. The serum instantly hydrates thirsty skin and plumps up fine lines. Packed with minerals, it provides an intense burst of moisture to smooth roughness and protect against dullness and the effects of ageing.'

The texture of this serum is pretty baffling, when you apply it to your skin it feels like an oil but it isn't an oil because once it's blended it feels like a normal serum this stuff really does confuse me on a nightly basis.

I have seen a huge difference in my skin, even other people have noticed and commented which is a rarity. My skin is always dehydrated which at times can really magnify my pores, the SkinResponse serum has plumped up my skin an incredible amount and really solved my dehydration issues completely and thus plumped up my pores which look so much better.

This made me realise; why is using a serum that solely helps to make your moisturiser more effective better than using a moisturising serum underneath a moisturiser? The latter is much more effective on my skin and the proof is in my plumped pudding.

£39.00 for 30mls (here) it isn't the cheapest of serums but it is incredibly effective and a little of it goes a long way so it will last at least four months if not six.

Have you used the infamous bloggers serum I'm talking about? What were your thoughts/conclusions?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Get Organised: 2014 Blog Calendar Download

A few months ago I was on a serious mission to get organised both in life and on my blog and it was highly requested that I do a series of posts dedicated to how I achieved complete organisation (well not quite). 

For my blog I wanted some structure, as I work full time and blog in my spare time my posts could be quite sporadic so the first thing I did was download a calendar and at the beginning of each month I plan out what I want to post; so the bare minimum which for me is three a week and if for example a good deal came up I wanted to tell my readers about I could slot that in on a day without a post.

Whenever I showed my filled in calendar on Instagram I was always asked where I got it from, I paid for it from Etsy but as it was towards the end of the year it seemed silly to point people in that direction as they'd only get two months for their money and I decided that I wanted to create one myself that my readers could download and print out at home for themselves free of charge. Initially I was going to do it as one download but I am having issues with the editing software I created it on so I will have to finish it off as I go along. 

Hopefully it can become a tool to help people structure their blogs if they're like me and useless doing something without it being written down.

Click here for the download 

How do you keep organised?

Thursday, 26 December 2013

REVIEW: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square

You must know my love for red lipstick by now and having gone 25 and a half years without ever wearing them; the past eighteen months (please don't do the adding up) have been an awakening and I can't seem to stop buying them.

'The long lasting, non-drying formula is enriched with emollients for a creamy texture, while a combination of unique silicones ensures long-lasting, seamless colour for hours with a velvety matte finish.'

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are possibly my favourite formula of lipstick their description above couldn't be more accurate; they are so creamy upon application and highly pigmented but dry to a gorgeous matte finish.

Red square is a beautiful bright orange toned red, the lasting power of the Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are fantastic without being drying at all. If you're brave enough to rock a bold lip for work or during the day then these are definitely the formula for you, they are long lasting and easily topped up if needed.

I really want to get a few of the more toned down shades for when I get a bit brave on my eye look, oh hell I want the whole collection. Have you tried any of the NARS pencils? the satin ones are equally amazing.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

REVIEW: Laura Mercier Silk Créme Foundation

Laura Mercier Silk Créme Foundation
I constantly have a list of foundations that I need to try (not a metaphorical list an actual list which I check off) and the Laura Mercier Silk Créme sat top row for a long time; Space NK had an amazing discount code a couple of months ago so I couldn't pass this up.

'A rich and luminous foundation offering full coverage while hydrating and protecting the skin'. 

Coverage: This definitely offers a full coverage if you are looking for that and apply it with the correct tools but at the same time if you are looking for a lighter coverage it is easy to adapt the foundation to your needs making it suitable for every occasion, I apply it with my BeautyBlender (review) as it advises to apply with a sponge. It is densely pigmented so cancels redness fantastically, you need quick hands as it sets very quickly. 

Finish: It is described as luminous but I wouldn't exactly say that, I would describe it as a satin finish definitely not matte but not dewy either. If you have dry patches on your skin it does catch on them so that is something to be aware of, perhaps with a moisturising primer it could counteract this.

Lasting Power: I have extremely oily skin and paired with the right primer and powder this foundation lasts fantastically; after 12 hours my makeup looks almost as good as when I applied it and when I remove my makeup (about 15 hours) I just look like I need a top up of powder and blush.

Price: £33 for 35mls isn't the cheapest of foundations but you do get 5mls more than a standard foundation and you also get a fantastic product; if you're looking for a night out foundation this photographs beautifully without any flashback.

This is definitely my party foundation, another slight gentle warning is that I am allergic to this foundation so I would definitely get a sample to make sure you're ok with it. Despite this fact I do wear it when I need to look my best and deal with the consequences after; it is THAT good.

What are your party must have's to keep your makeup in tip top condition for the dance floor?

Monday, 23 December 2013

REVIEW: BeautyBlender

I have seen so much hype about the BeautyBlender in the years that I have been blogging but I always wondered if it really is worth £16 for a makeup sponge?

I always apply my foundation with my fingers; I HATE brushes as they're so slow and I find very streaky so my fingers have always been the perfect application but lets face it it can get messy. Paired with the right foundation the BeautyBlender is a fantastic applicator.

When damp the sponge expands and becomes very bouncy and it literally bounces the foundation onto the skin and blends it perfectly . The shape means it is excellent for applying concealer with the pointed end and the bottom for the rest of your face, it leaves all the pigment on the skin without any of the cakyness and I have been applying my concealer with it every day since I have had it.

I was a little concerned the first few times washing it as the colour of the water appeared to be neon pink washing down my sink however that seems to have passed now, I have been using anti bacterial hand wash to wash it and the true genius of the BeautyBlender is that you can wash it and use it pretty much immediately unlike buffing brushes which need drying time.

This could be a fantastic tool if you suffer from breakouts as you can clean it after each use so you won't be spreading bacteria as much as if you were using a brush and only being able to clean it once a week.

Overall I would say it is definitely worth splashing out the £16 and having tried the 'dupes' you may as well just get the BeautyBlender as they are pants, although I have heard some great things about the Real Techniques Miracle Sponge so maybe that is next on the list.

Sunday, 15 December 2013


Hey Ladies,
For the past five years I have written Nicolavc86.com and for the past five years I've disliked the title; I started my site when I was finishing University and I never planned for it to be a beauty blog hence the random name. I finally decided that I needed to rename it and so I wanted to let you know that on January 1st Nicolavc86 will be known as ObsessedByBeauty.com

I wanted to rename my blog so that it has more of an association to the subject I talk about so new readers will automatically know it is a beauty blog and so I think Obsessed By Beauty is pretty appropriate.

It definitely isn't a new blog, it will just be a new name & new URL so if you're in the habit of typing www.Nicolavc86.com into your task bar do not fret it will forward to the new URL, all the posts will remain and quite literally it is just a change of header and URL.

I hope you'll stick with me and when the change over happens I will do an update post with all my updated details, I think the social media changes will be the most difficult.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

DEAL ALERT: Soap & Glory Star Gift

Hey ladies,

This year Boots have really treated the Soap & Glory fans to the max with not one but TWO star gifts and this one is a real bargain!

The Yule Monty kit is available from 13th December for a week. It has been reduced from £60 to £27. 

It contains nine full sizes of some of their most popular products including Peaches and Clean their well raved about face wash, their Righteous Body Butter which is amazing and the most talked about hand cream in the history of YouTube I suspect; Hand Food.

I think you'll agree this is a fantastic deal and one that is most definitely going to sell out so make sure you set your alarms tomorrow and get it snatched up.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

REVIEW: HealGel Face

Hey Ladies,
Having tried the HealGel Eye Cream (Review here) I was fairly sure I needed to get my hands on the Heal Gel Face and having put it through it's paces I thought I would report back.
HealGel Face*
'This step-changing complex acts like HealGel Intensive to rescue unhappy skin, but then takes its transformative effect to the next level. Arnica and Madecassoside are suspended in liposomes with powerful peptides and biodynes to initiate a uniquely soothing and collagen boosting process. HealGel Face also contains a unique blend of Omega Oils to replenish dehydrated skin and restore elasticity. To this another vital dimension is added; a powerful three part hyaluronic acid complex provides a plumping and tightening effect.'

The words 'rescue unhappy skin' could not be more accurate as to where I was when I started using this, I was having constant allergic reactions to products and the Heal Gel helped to calm my skin down and repair the damage.

As well my skin being oily it tends to be dehydrated and the HealGel has really helped plump it up and hydrate my skin without it causing me to look like a grease ball as my skin drinks it up instantaneously.

I have noticed a huge difference in my skin since using the HealGel and really recommend it to anyone with dehydrated problem skin, HealGel is available from SpaceNK for £48 (Link) for 50mls.

It would seem my love for HealGel knows no end, have any of you tried it?

Sunday, 8 December 2013

NOTW: Sephora by OPI GelShine Metro Chic

Hey Ladies,

I often browse Sephora looking longingly at everything I can't have, I suppose it's safe online browsing because I know no matter how many things end up in my basket I can never check out. When I saw that my favourite nail polish of all time (Sephora by OPI Metro Chic) was available in a gel formula I knew it needed to be mine and one of my wonderful Twitter pal's Louise from Canada offered to pick me a few things up.
Sephora by OPI GelShine Metro Chic
I have to say they have managed to replicate the colour perfectly, Metro Chic is the perfect grige, a lovely mix of purple, grey and brown which looks different in different lights so is a perfect shade for a gel manicure as you don't get bored of it.

Not only am I impressed they got the shade spot on but the formula is brilliant, the application was very even and took two coats to be opaque and lasted about 10 days without any chips.

Have any of my US readers tried the GelShine formula? I should be thankful we don't have Sephora in the UK because I would be bankrupt within a matter of months.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Festive Friday: Luxury Gift Guide

Hey Ladies,
Another Festive Friday post for you and now we've all been paid it's time for the Luxury Gift Guide which is translation to my other half as 'buy me all these things please'.

Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille Eau De Parfum 50ml - £69 (Link)
Fragrance is one of those things I never purchase for myself and i'm pretty sure most people are the same especially with a luxe perfume such as this so it is a great gift to give someone. I would recommend this fragrance for a 20 + woman as the notes are of warm vanilla and sandalwood which are dressed up in a sophisticated more grown up blend for a vanilla based scent.

Laura Mercier Ambre Vanillé Body & Bath Luxe Quartet - £60 (Link)
Laura Mercier do the loveliest bath sets every Christmas; they are usually available in all their range so if you know someone is partial to a particular scent it's a done deal. I recently smelt the Ambre Vanillé scent and it is a gorgeous mix of vanilla and ambre mixed with brown sugar, coconut and almonds, the set includes the body scrub, soufflé body cream, milk honey bath and candle.

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Eau De Parfum 100ml - £85 (Link)
A completely different fragrance choice than the Serge Lutens this is a deep very sexy spicy floral scent; one which is probably most comfortably worn by a more mature woman as it might be slightly too heavy a scent for someone younger. It oozes sophistication and confidence.

Mulberry Locked Cosmetics Purse - £210 (Link)
The cosmetic junkie's dream makeup bag, the beautiful leather pouch is perfect for housing their treasured goods and touching up their face in the day will never have looked so good. The beautiful colour combination of the light pink leather with the rose gold lock will ensure you won't go wrong and the gift will be treasured.

Clarins 'The Essentials' Eye Makeup Palette - £35 (Link)
I would describe this as a grown up version of the Urban Decay Naked Palettes, lets face it not everyone would like to open a gift and see NAKED shouting at them. Clarins are a well established brand suitable for all ages so if you purchase this a more mature person I would think they are more likely to use it and for it to be all they need in their daily makeup routine.

Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask 50ml - £57 (Link)
This mask is phenomenal and runs with the theme that some people could just not bare spending £57 on a face mask (I struggle and I'm a cosmetic addict), I would recommend it for all skin types so would be a great gift to anyone. One use of this treatment and you can see a huge difference in the skin; it brightens, tightens and decongests skin immediately and depending on the skin type you just vary on the frequency of use. 

Tom Ford Lipstick in Cherry Lush - £36 (Link)
A Tom Ford lipstick is the ultimate luxe treat and again one that is likely to cause a wince if you purchase one yourself so receiving one would be such a treat; Cherry Lush is a beautiful festive red which will see you through the season and beyond. The quality is unbeatable as they're incredibly moisturising, long lasting and pigmented so perfect for the party season and although Wild Ginger (a orangey red) is my favourite shade in the range it is certainly more of a summer shade compared to Cherry Lush which is wearable for every season being such a classic cherry red

I think I would be pretty chuffed if I received any of these gifts on Christmas day especially the Serge Lutens and the Clarins palette as they have been on my wish list for some time. What would be your ideal luxe gift to open up on Christmas morning?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

REVIEW: BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector

Hey Ladies,
Having combination skin can sometimes be such a pain and I have tried countless primers and foundations designed for oily skin and nothing seemed to work. I had heard some good reviews on the BECCA primers so I thought i'd give one a go.
BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector
'A Silicone-free primer that perfects the face, minimising pores and mattifying even the most oily skin for up to eight hours. Use alone, before or after foundation to control excess oil, along with being sweat-and humidity - resistant, this product is free of silicone, oil, alcohol and fragrance.'

If you have very oily skin this truly is the primer for you; it is amazing. When I use this my makeup stays oil free and looking pretty perfect all day for a good 12 hours paired with the right foundation. I have never found a primer that works as well as this.

I could only describe it's application akin to putting glue on your face, it is more a paste than a liquid and so it works really well at smoothing out the pores. If you have combination skin like I do I find it is best to apply to the areas that get oily rather than the whole face as it could make your foundation look a bit naff where you don't need it.

At £28 it is on the expensive side but when you compare it to something like Benefit Porefessional ml for ml it is a lot less expensive; the Benefit primer is £24.50 for 22mls so £1.11 per ml whereas the BECCA is £28 for 40mls so 70p per ml making it 59p per ml cheaper. As an accountant by day I am telling you it is cheap therefore a totally justifiable purchase. It is available exclusively from Space NK (Link).

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

REVIEW: Cane + Austin Retexturizing Treatment Pads

Hey Ladies,
I have been dabbling in chemical exfoliants for the last two years, one brand I wanted to try for about a year was Cane + Austin; I had heard amazing things about both their Acne & Retexturizing pads as I had a stock pile of other products of the same nature I behaved myself until one day I caved (Space NK free delivery gets me every time).
Cane + Austin Retexturizing Treatment Pads
'Specially formulated with 10% Glycolic Acid derived from natural Sugar Cane, Retexturizing Treatment Pads are an easy and effective way of re-texturizing the skin to reveal a more radiant and clear complexion.'
I was torn between which product to get, the Acne pads I had heard from several reviews totally cleared up congestion and acne however when I looked at the ingredients alcohol was pretty high on the list so that pretty much made the decision for me and I purchased the Retexturizing pads.

If you haven't ever used a chemical exfoliant before I would advise you to steer clear of these pads because boy are they strong. I have used a lot of different levels of acidic toners in my time and none have stung like this. These things sting and leave your face a little red; personally I love this as I know it's having an effect however if you're just starting out with these types of products I'd recommend working your way up to these.

If you can take the 10% glycolic acid then you will see amazing results, used at night after cleansing your face you just buff them on the skin and when you wake up your skin will be soft as silk. Long term effects I have noticed is in the tone and texture of my skin, without makeup my skin is even with no dark patches which people comment on whenever they see me without makeup and they have also helped to rid my skin of any under the skin bumps. In terms of fine lines and wrinkles I couldn't exactly comment due to the fact I don't really have any and in the treatment of enlarged pores I don't really think anything can shrink them however the acid helps to prevent blockages and therefore prevent spots from forming.

The benefits of acidic toners to the skin are not only to make sure your skin is smoother, even and congestion free but to make the products used in conjunction work better; without the dead skin on the dermis serums and moisturisers are more easily absorbed and so not sitting on the skin causing blockages again helping to prevent breakouts. As you can probably guess I'm a total convert.

The main reason I hesitated in purchasing the Cane + Austin Retexturizing Pads was the price; £48 for 60 pads seemed a lot to waste if I didn't like them however when I saw you can get 25 individually wrapped pads for £24 (Link) I took the plunge. I actually prefer the individually wrapped pads as they won't dry out like they potentially could in a big tub of them and if you're away for a night or two they're much more travel friendly, I actually only use half a pad at a time as they're so big so I cut one in half and place the other back in the foil and reseal it for the night and it doesn't dry out so it's a way of making them last longer making them better value for money.

Would I repurchase again? Definitely, they do have a new 'Miracle Pad' out which is 20% glycolic acid which I would love to try but they don't sell them in the individual packets plus I think they'd melt my face off! Which chemical exfoliators do you use? or are you one of those lost in the dark ages still using manual exfoliators?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

NOTW: ibd Just Gel Polish in Iceberg

Hey Ladies,
Some festive nails weeks are ahead of us and having ordered some new gel polishes I wanted to include some.

Iceberg is a light blue packed with a holographic shimmer, Iceberg is the perfect name for this cool toned blue and it is perfect for the supposedly icy weather we have approaching.

Have you applied any festive nail polishes yet? or are you being sensible and holding off!