Review: Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream vs Innisfree Orchid eye cream

So I’m going to review two similar products, today. The Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream and the Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream.

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you’ll know I am a HUGE fan of K-beauty brand Innisfree. I discovered them in China, where there are Innisfree stores in airports, train stations, malls and pretty much anywhere else you can think of! They have a huge presence across East Asia, and it’s because their products are great.

I bought both these products at the same time. I got a sample-sized pot of the Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream and a full-sized one of Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream. I was actually really struggling to find reviews of the Innisfree Perfect 9 range online, particularly comparisons to find out what is better out of Innisfree’s many different ranges.

Basically, Perfect 9 has nine different active ingredients aimed to improve common problems in more mature skin, where the Orchid range is aimed more at women in their late twenties/early thirties, and the main ingredient in the orchid range is hyalauronic acid.

In K-beauty, it’s difficult to place Innisfree as high-street or high-end because by western standards, Innisfree is extremely high end (and is priced like that), but the true Asian high-end market is several orders of magnitude more high end and expensive than our western ranges (Nature Republic and Clé De Peau are proper high end luxury brands).

I’d say Innisfree is high end but not necessarily luxury beauty, a bit like how we would classify Benefit, Calvin Klein, or Urban Decay (compared to, say, Guerlain, Murad, Elemis or La Mer). It’s minimalist high end, if that makes sense.

Packaging:

Both creams come in identical packaging, it’s a plastic jar with a screw-top lid. It doesn’t look as fancy as the Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Essence Watery Cream but it’s also easier to store the Innisfree jars and to find space for them on my crowded dressing table (Americans, a dressing table is literally the table you sit at when you’re getting dressed. You put cosmetics on it and sometimes it has a mirror).

The Orchid packaging does appeal to me a little more because it’s purple, which is my favourite colour, whereas the Perfect 9 range is all brown, not my favourite. Perhaps this is intentional, because older women aren’t necessarily going to want bright colours on their dressing table? I don’t know. When I’m fifty, I think I’ll still like purple more than brown.

The full-sized jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream comes with a protective inner lid made of white plastic. The Orchid miniature jar doesn’t. This is usual for miniatures from Innisfree, I know, since I’ve had about 4 sets of miniatures at this point.

Scent

The scent of the Perfect 9 Eye Cream is what I’d consider a generic floral scent. The Orchid range obviously smells like guess what? Orchids, haha.

To my mind, neither scent is particularly strong or overwhelming but I have seen some reviews for the Orchid range by people complaining it’s overly-perfumed. I react badly to a lot of cheap western fragrances (I can’t use 80% of all deodorants because my nose and eyes start running and I feel like there’s a hairball at the back of my throat), and I’ve never actually come across a K-beauty product with a scent that caused me issues.

Consistency

Both creams are thick, you could turn both jars upside-down for several minutes and no product will fall out. The consistency is that of a very rich cream but somehow they still manage to not be overly-greasy. I wish western beauty companies would take notes from K-beauty because I cannot believe the amount of western “anti-ageing” creams that are useless because they’re oilier than putting butter on your face.

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is a little thicker than the Orchid Eye Cream, but there’s not much in it.

Appearance

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is a little darker in colour than the Orchid Eye Cream, but both creams are creamy coloured and opaque, meaning you can’t see through them.

For some reason, their appearance reassures me that they’re made of proper ingredients. My Innisfree Orchid Essence really throws me for a loop because it’s completely colourless which makes me wonder what’s effective about it (which is frankly silly because colour and opacity don’t determine how well a product works).

When you put them on your skin, they sit on the surface for a few minutes (especially if you have just used toner, essence etc) then disappear.

When to use it

I tend to use these at night time, around my eye area, and I pair them with the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender or the Nature Republic Ginseng Royal Silk Watery Cream.

Effectiveness

Okay, so up to now, the two creams are almost identical. You might be forgiven for wondering if Innisfree just puts the same stuff into different jars.

They don’t.

The Orchid Eye Cream is a gentle moisturising cream and when I use it, I don’t notice a vast improvement in the texture or elasticity of my skin. However, it definitely improves the moisture in my skin, which is usually prone to dryness.

I was surprised that a cream containing hyalauronic acid didn’t have any kind of noticeable plumping effect, even when I use it with all the other orchid products in the range.

The Perfect 9 Eye Cream is literally the best eye cream I have ever used. Since using this cream, my skin has been transformed. I used to have deepening lines around my eyes which were especially noticeable when I smiled.

Since using the Perfect 9 Eye cream, those lines have faded significantly. I know this is a long-term effect because they stay faded on days when I use other products.

Verdict

My full-sized jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream is almost empty, and my trial size jar of Orchid Eye Cream is almost full. This is because I keep reaching for the Innisfree Perfect 9 Eye Cream over and over again, its results are fantastic and I’m really happy with this eye cream. I hope they keep making it for years to come.

There’s nothing wrong with the Orchid Eye Cream, per se, it’s just not got the incredible transformative power of the Perfect 9 Eye Cream which I think is the best thing you can put around your eye area once ageing starts to take hold. I can see this being effective for older women, not just women my age (34).

Overall, when that jar of Perfect 9 Eye Cream runs out, I’m going to order more of it. Given that there will be a 6 week delay before it arrives from South Korea, I’m going to have to use up the Orchid Eye Cream in the meantime.

I do also have the Innisfree White Mushroom range in miniature, so I’ll review those, too, in a separate post, and I will discuss how they compare to these.

Have you tried anything from the Innisfree Perfect 9 range, yet? I’d love to hear about their other products. Let me know in the comments!

Review: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender

While I was in Seoul, I was able to get a bunch of very exciting K-beauty products, including the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. I bought the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask in two different scents: Original (the blue jar) and Lavender (purple jar). In this review I’ll look at both, and explain why I bought the lavender one again after I finished them.

The original one has a nice, light scent to it, and if you’re used to it, you might not want to change to the lavender one, but if you haven’t tried either (and if you don’t mind scented products, which I don’t) then the lavender one is worth checking out.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Masks in Lavender and Original do exactly the same job. You apply them last, after cleansing, toner and essence. Some people put a thick layer on so it can be absorbed as they sleep. I suspect these people sleep on their backs.

I sleep face down on my front and I can’t sleep at all without earplugs and an eye mask, so applying any product thickly is a non-starter, it just makes my pillow wet, then when I move in the night, the product transfers off my pillow into my ear and I wake up with a silky soft ear and a nice-smelling pillowcase that now needs a wash.

D’oh.

I apply this after my other products have absorbed, and I only use a thin layer, so one jar lasts me FOREVER. While it says it’s a sleeping pack, if I’m not going out of the house at all on any given day, I will put a thicker layer on my face during the day and cover it up with my silicone mask shield which I got in Japan, then I can leave it to bake for an hour or two and get extra goodness infused into my skin.

Don’t literally bake your cosmetics.

That would be weird. And probably not very tasty.

So anyway, I like the lavender scent best because lavender helps you sleep and it’s also very relaxing. It’s one of my favourite herbs and I have a lot of other lavender products so this compliments those.

I also like the colour purple a lot so serious props that the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender comes in a purple container. The actual cream itself is not purple, it’s a sort of white colour, the same as the original scented Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.

The jar has a screw top and the inside has lots of product. I really don’t like skincare brands that put a tiny amount of cosmetic into a gigantic jar to make you think you’ve bought a lot of something when you haven’t. It’s a nightmare to pack products like that.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender is one of my holy grail products partly because of how easy it is to pack. Laneige do travel-sized jars of original scented Water Sleeping Mask and I keep getting them free with other purchases, so what I did is used up the original Water Sleeping Mask in my travel jar and now I refill that with Lavender Water Sleeping Mask to take wherever I’m flying to.

I use the other empties of this product to decant other products such as my high-end skincare from Nature Republic whose products are fabulous but the packaging is really heavy and bulky and therefore generally abominable for frequent flyers! I’ll review some Nature Republic products in the near future.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask original and lavender both come with a thin plastic inner lid to protect the cream from leakage and from getting damaged if you accidentally don’t close the lid properly.

When I use this product, it feels really cooling and soothing to put on my face. My skin feels super hydrated the next day and I think the scent helps me sleep better, too.

The other thing I love about the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask is it’s not rich or greasy at all, which is super for people like me who paradoxically have very dry skin that doesn’t like heavy, oily creams at all (does anyone’s skin actually respond well to those thick greasy creams?).

It sort of has a gel-like consistency, but it’s not as jelly-feeling on my face as other products with this consistency. I find a lot of “gel cream” type products cling to my face like a cheap lipgloss and my hair then gets stuck to my face and my skin looks weird like I just fell into a plate of jelly.

The Laneige Water Sleeping Mask isn’t like that. It’s basically the ideal consistency of any product ever.

I’m now on my third jar of Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender because it’s perfect and I intend to keep buying it as long as it’s for sale!

Have you tried Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender yet? Let me know in the comments! It’s available here on Amazon. You can also find the original one on Amazon if you want a less scented option (I know that one is available cheaper from other sellers, but that listing is the official and genuine Laneige product.

Not sure how to use K-beauty products? Check out this article!

What to get a baby for Christmas: Toy buying guide for baby’s first Christmas 2020

What should you get for a baby for Christmas in 2020? What are the best baby toys in the UK and Ireland this year for a budget? Whether you’re the new parents, grandma or an aunt, that first Christmas is hard to shop for. I remember last Christmas, my baby was only a few months old and I had no idea what to get! Then, amazingly, we were inundated with presents from relatives and somehow no one bought us the same thing twice. I’ve broken down the best toys and gifts for baby’s first Christmas by age and budget and reviewed them below:

0-3 Months:

At this age, babies are in the third trimester. They sleep a lot, wake up to feed and cry, and sleep some more. They have very little interaction with their environment and in the words of one of my friends (whose baby was born exactly one year earlier than my baby), “they don’t give a crap about toys”. So what to get for a newborn baby for Christmas? You have two options. You can either get them something they might enjoy in a few months’ time or get them something really, really simple. They are growing rapidly, and mama will probably appreciate some baby clothes in the 3-6 or 6-9 months size.

Best budget buys for newborns (under £20):

Lullaby toys tend to be enjoyed by even very young babies.

Baby Einstein in the UK do this super-cute star lullaby toy for £12.99. It attaches to the cot and features bright colors which babies love! It has motion activation so if your baby is over 6 months and alone in their cot, if they stir, they can be lulled back to sleep without you risking waking them up more by going into their room and turning the lullaby toy back on. At this price point, this is about the best lullaby toy you can get and the ideal Christmas gift for newborns this year.

This Manhattan Toy Lullaby Squirrel is £20. It attaches to the cot for safety and the squirrel slowly moves into his acorn as the music plays. There are also crinkles and textures for baby to explore, making this a good toy for when baby is ready to touch things.

Crinkle books with high-contrast images start to come into their own when baby is about 10-12 weeks old. My baby adores Bumble Bee. It’s £12 which is a bit on the expensive side for a cloth book but if our copy got lost, I’d buy it again because my jellyfish still loves this book at 14 months. As well as having high-contrast images, a brief, rhyming story that’s easy to read, crinkles in almost every page and even some textured ribbon pages and a shiny mirror, it’s a lift-the-flaps cloth book so it will stay interesting for babies for a lot longer than other cloth books. Just remember to remove the plastic from the mirror at the back of the book (I used a knife very carefully around the very edges of the mirror). Oh and did I mention Bumble Bee has a clip to attach it to the pram, which you can detach and give to your baby as a teething ring because it has two different chewy textures?

For a cheaper crinkle book with fewer features, Giraffe and Friends is a super-simple book. It has a rattle page and a crinkle page, but largely is pictures of animals with the only words being the names of the animals. I’d give this one 6/10 for engagement, interest and features but it’s £6.99 and you get what you pay for with rag books for babies.

For an indestructible twist on a British classic baby book, Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell comes in a cloth book version, perfect for little babies who like to chew the pages and rip the flaps off board books. And you can currently get matching outfits in Sainsbury’s, for your little zoo fan!

Another fantastic option for cloth books for newborn babies is the timeless Guess How Much I Love You by Northern Ireland author Sam McBratney, also available in cloth book (they call it the Guess How Much I Love You Snuggle Book). We have Guess How Much I Love You in French (Devine Combien Je T’aime) and my 14-month-old baby often brings it to me to read him.

And I have to give a special shout-out to Noises by Jo Moon because, although it’s now out of print and hard to get, this book gave us our baby’s first smile at a toy, on an 8-hour car journey to the south of England from Northern Ireland last November. We have now read it about 1000 times and sometimes he falls asleep with it. I wish, wish, wish the cloth books Noises and Patterns by Jo Moon were still in print because they are perfect for little ones. Ah, cloth books… I could buy every cloth book on Amazon and make a little library of them if I had the space in this tiny house!

Mid-range £20-50 toys for Newborns:

Toys for this age group tend to be either very cheap or very expensive, I think the only thing we had for a newborn that cost between £20 and £50 was bouncy chairs. We ended up buying two in the end because I tripped over the first one and broke it (also, OWWW), but also that one was only up to 9kg and we had a heavier baby who was born on the 98th percentile so we needed to upgrade by 6 months anyway.

Originally we got a chair like this one from Red Kite with the thin wire legs. Pros are it’s easy to bounce (you can even bounce it with your foot) and he liked batting the toys. Cons are it’s not going to last as long as a sturdier bouncer. If your baby is on the smaller side, however, you will probably find this fits your baby quite well in the early months.

If we were doing everything again, I’d opt straight for a chair that would last up to 18kg. We now have this Bright Starts one, which has a toy arch and the same vibrations as the bouncers for younger babies, although this one doesn’t so much bounce as rock, our 14-month-old still enjoys rocking it himself by kicking his feet. And it *says* 18kg but I’ve sat in it (I weigh 45kg) and it can take my weight, so if you have older kids, you don’t have to worry about them wrecking the baby’s chair. We also use our bouncer for weaning, as we have no space for a high chair or a dining table in our tiny home. 10/10 recommend this chair unless you have a tiny baby or a preemie in which case something like the Red Kite one above would be better.

High end toys over £50 for 0-3 months:

A baby rocker like the Ingenuity ConvertMe Swing2Seat is another fantastic option but never, ever, ever let your baby sleep in it unsupervised. The best ones vibrate and play soothing lullabies to get your baby to drift off.

3-6 Months

Ahh, this is where toys start becoming interesting and babies start interacting with things more!

Budget buys under £20 Christmas gifts for a 3-6 month old baby

All of the toys for 0-3 months will still be interesting to a 3-6 month old baby, but babies will also be interested in rattles and crinkle mittens.

Our baby adored the Guess How Much I Love You rattle. He still plays with it at 14 months of age so we’ve had a lot of use out of it. When he was really little, we used to put his whole hand through the hole in the middle and he loved waving his hand and rattle it!

He also loves his Panda teething mittens! These come in a pair and they’re black and white. Young babies love high-contrast toys so this was really eye-catching for him. His hands never fitted inside (98th percentile baby problems haha), but he still chews on it and loves exploring the crinkle sounds. He has been teething since he was 4 months and a lot of teething remedies are for older babies so this was a great buy. Now his molars are coming in, he loves chewing it with his back teeth.

We also have a night light projector. These don’t need to be expensive (the baby won’t know or care) and this £15 one is fantastic! It doesn’t sing (that costs more money) but there are so many toys that make noises and not so many that can do a good light show!

Mid-range Christmas gifts for a 3-6 month old baby (£20 to £50)

A basic baby gym requiring no batteries is a great investment. They fold up mostly flat for taking on car rides if you’re going to see family at Christmas and can keep babies occupied while they discover all the toys on the toy arches! This one is perfect. They’re also great for tummy time and as baby learns to sit.

All babies develop at different ages, but if yours is an early roller, an activity play mat might be a great choice at this age!

High end Christmas gifts for a 3-6 month old baby (over £50)

If you want to spend a lot of money, the Fisher Price rainforest baby gym is a fancy-schmancy hi-tech baby gym with sounds and lights, which will captivate your little one from birth and last through the 3-6 month age range, although don’t expect them to do more than fall asleep in it for the first couple of months (at which point you’ll probably want to move them due to safer sleeping).

The perfect Christmas toys for 6-12 month old babies

By this stage, they’re probably sitting, maybe crawling, and definitely waking up every day ready to play, play, play!

There are so many more options at this stage.

Budget Christmas gifts under £20 for babies 6-12 months of age

Baby keyboards are where it’s at for 6-12 month old babies. During tummy time or sitting time, they will love pressing the buttons and hearing the sounds. We have this one from Baby Einstein, who really lead the way in innovative musical instruments for babies.

Cars are another big favourite at this age. Babies discover wheels sometime around 6-12 months and that’s it, cars have their attention forever. It happened to all my cousins’ babies, my friends’ babies, and then it happened with mine, too. Finding toy cars suitable for 6-12 month old babies can be hard. These ones are age-appropriate.

Grandma and granddad also have this Fisher Price baby piano at their house which our baby loves because it also does funny sounds like ducks quacking and cows mooing.

A ball pool! If you have the space in your house, a pop-up ball pool will provide so much fun and wonder for a 6-12 month old baby (and beyond… who doesn’t love a good ball pit). We have a modular one from Tesco that cost about £20 for the pool and the matching crawling tunnel, but they aren’t doing them right now (they class them as a summer toy), and the downside is, the balls fall out through the hole for the tunnel, which is annoying as we don’t have enough space to set both up indoors, so it hardly gets played with now. This £7.99 ball pool would be a great budget alternative. Or, if you have a travel cot, just buy about 3 or 4 packs of play balls from anywhere for about £10 for a pack of 100 (or get one mega pack of 300 from this place for £20) and put them and the baby in the travel cot in your living room, which is what I do when I need to contain the baby e.g. to make tea (which is why we don’t use our ball pool)! I know that adds up to over £20 for the pool and the balls, but you can get started with one pack of balls and a pool for around £16 together, and buy more later, or get relatives to each buy a pack of balls, and the baby will still love this!

Mid-range Christmas gifts for 6-12 months of age (£20 to £50)

The baby Einstein touch piano is a great upgrade if you have £24.99 to spend on it. We’ve played with one but not bought it because we wanted one with buttons to press, for cause and effect. It’s a 2 in 1 keyboard and xylophone and I’m going to get it once my baby outgrows his current keyboard.

Sit-me-up baby sitting support:

About 5 or 6 months, your baby might start sitting. At this point, you will want some way of supporting them. With a very long baby (98th percentile for height and weight) we found that by the time he was ready to try sitting, he was too big/heavy for a lot of the sitting toys to work properly, and they just tipped over with him in. We tried LOADS (this was January and February, before the playgroups all shut down).

Our favorite, and the one we ended up buying, was a horseshoe-shaped cushion support type of baby sitter. This one is very similar to the one we got (ours was from Mothercare who are now bankrupt).

The other type he got on well with was this donut-shaped sitting support, which he used several times at playgroup. The thickness of this one was quite good for my baby’s size. We avoided the seat-type ones because when he fell sideways, the seats fell with him which meant disentangling him from them. Anyway, I have an especially wiggly baby who hates being fastened into toys and not moving around, so the cushion sitting supports for babies were much better for him as he could use them independently and roll around on the floor for a bit when he got bored.

For travel, this infant sitting support would be a great option. It’s inflatable and the play tray is detachable, and it has extra neck support.

Baby Walkers:

I’m not a big fan of the type of walkers where the baby is stuck inside it. I’ve heard of them tipping after getting stuck in doorframes, going down staircases, and generally not being very safe. My health visitor also said to avoid them and while I know health visitors aren’t always a fountain of knowledge, mine really is so I believe her about the number of injuries she’s seen from the Dalek-type baby walkers. From a child development point of view, they don’t teach proper walking or posture, either, which can lead to later back trouble.

Instead, I recommend the sort of walker where the baby pushes it around independently. My baby was very very late to start cruising so we’ve just bought him this Nuby push-along walker which is suitable from 6 months and Nuby are a reputable brand (I’ve seen some really worrying reviews of imported walker toys, so while I am usually happy to buy things from abroad, I would only go with a known brand for this type of toy).

High end Christmas gifts for babies aged 6-12 months (over £50)

Jumperoo: About 6 months, you’ll be ditching the baby gym. Jumping is where it is at for 6-12 month olds. We love this Fisher Price rainforest jumper! For us, this was absolutely worth spending £75 on, even though it takes up most of the floor space in our living room. Just remember babies can’t use them for more than 30 minutes at a time because their hips are still developing as they learn to walk. Benefits of jumping include leg strength, co-ordination and gross motor control. But really, babies shouldn’t be doing any activity for more than about 30 minutes to keep their developing brains stimulated and to avoid over-tiredness.

So that’s it for my top gifts for baby’s first Christmas. What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments! P.S. Sorry to my American readers, this article is all about British baby toys available in the UK, but if you head on over to US Amazon I’m sure you could find some of the toys I’ve linked to above!

Note: This article may contain affiliate links. It does not affect the price you pay or my opinions of products.

New products for blue and purple dark circles under eyes!

Panda smaller

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.

 

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. 😦

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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’s “Outlander” series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager)*, I thought to myself, “I really want to go to those places and see those things.” 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’re 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’t immediately obvious; whether any individual attraction is worth a visit or not (and an explanation and references showing why not, if it’s 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).