Samples from

I recently discovered the sample scheme on (yes, I know I’m a little behind the times!) and I think it’s a brilliant idea! If you don’t know what it is, the site offers the opportunity to choose 5 samples of your choice and you just pay the £3.95 postage. You can do this as many times as you like as far as I’m aware and there are a huge range of samples, from haircare to beauty to perfume.

The £3.95 postage seems just a tad expensive for amount of product you actually get but the principle of being able to try before you buy is great. I think this is especially good when some of the products are not available in stores and you may not be able to see them in a shop first. I’m possibly a bit unusual in this, but I still quite dislike buying beauty/skincare products online unless I’ve tried them first, so this is perfect for me.

The samples I got were these:

1. Madara Organic Face Delicate Cleansing Milk (£17.50, 200ml)

2. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum (£28, 30ml)

3. Elemis Nourishing Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil (£31, 195ml)

4. Bioderma Soothing Repairing Cream (£7.10, 40ml)

5. La Roche-Posay In-Depth Nutri-Reconstituting Cream (£16.50, 50ml)

So after trying the samples, would I actually buy any of these products?

1. Madara Organic Face Delicate Cleansing Milk (£17.50, 200ml)

I really liked this product! It felt lovely to apply to my skin and I enjoyed incorporating it into my nightly cleansing routine. After my make-up remover, I usually just use a face wash, but after trying this product, I definitely want to switch to a cream cleanser as I think it is a lot better for my skin. This product is organic, which I don’t know if this really makes a difference to the quality of the product but it certainly felt very gentle on my skin and after I had rinsed it off, I didn’t experience any tightness at all, which is just short of a miracle for me because usually anytime I put water on my face, it dries me out!! I was very impressed with this product so I will definitely purchase when my current face face has run out.

2. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum (£28, 30ml)

I don’t have very much to say about this product really. I don’t find that serums feel particularly nice on the skin – kind of tacky and filmy – so you’re using them for the moisturising effect and this product didn’t seem to be any better than any other serums I’ve tried. It was fine and it does do it’s job but I don’t think it’s that special. I haven’t looked in detail at the ingredient list but this serum essentially felt the same as The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid and for 6 times the price, I don’t know why I would pay for this product.

3. Elemis Nourishing Omega-Rich Cleansing Oil (£31, 195ml)

I had never used a cleansing oil before but I think this is a good one. Firstly it smells amazing, sort of citrous-y and fresh – really lovely. It feels great on the skin, very moisturising and smooth. I think it would be a bit heavy on the skin to use in the morning but as an evening cleanser it would be really nice to use when your skin needs a treat. For this reason, I probably wouldn’t buy this cleanser as I don’t think I would use this as an everyday product.

4. Bioderma Soothing Repairing Cream (£7.10, 40ml)

Of the 5 products, this was the one I was most disappointed with. I had chosen it hoping to find a product that would be good for my eczema but I found this to be extremely ineffectual and not that nice to apply to my skin. It comes out of the tube a rather odd colour and the consistency is strange: it appears creamy but when you rub it in, it goes weirdly watery and thin. Definitely wouldn’t purchase!

5. La Roche-Posay In-Depth Nutri-Reconstituting Cream (£16.50, 50ml)

This cream was nice to use and smells really good. It absorbs really well into the skin while still being quite rich and creamy, which I liked because it means it’s great to apply before make-up and it still gives my skin the moisture it needs (and my skin needs a lot!). Having said this, I don’t think I would buy this product simply because I am still wedded to The Body Shop Vitamin E moisturiser, which is so far the best moisturiser I have ever used.

To conclude, there is only 1 out of the 5 products I tried that I would actually buy and it isn’t the one that I thought I would like best. Madara wasn’t a brand I’d heard of before ordering these samples so I would probably never have discovered it otherwise! In writing this post, I have also found it interesting to find out the price of these products. When I picked these samples, I didn’t actually look at how much they would be to buy in full size so it was good to try the products without being influenced by their supposed ‘value’. I think it is definitely easy to be swayed by branding and price (where expensive is supposed to equal better) so it was a good little experiment in this sense too.


Choosing the Right Foundation

Choosing the right foundation can be a such a difficult task that I sort of dread my foundation running out and having to buy a new one! This wouldn’t be the case if I had managed to find the perfect one and then I know I could just re-purchase (how I long to find this elusive product!!) But I don’t think I’ve got there yet.

That’s not to say that I haven’t used some good ones. I am pretty pleased with my latest foundation, which is the Fresh Nude Foundation with SPF 15 by The Body Shop (£15).

The best thing about this foundation is the shade, which is an almost perfect match with my skin. I have the shade Chelsea Porcelain and when I tried it in the store, I just couldn’t not get it. I have pale skin with pink undertones and I often find that the palest shades are more yellow so it was nice to find one that is right for me. It was also refreshing to find this shade easily in store without having to go through the rigmarole of a beauty counter (sometimes I find the asssitants trying to convince me they have got the right shade so I’ll make a purchase even when I can tell that it just isn’t quite right).

I’m also pretty pleased with the texture and consistency of this foundation. As my skin is dry, I definitely need a more creamy and hydrating foundation – I absolutely cannot have anything that dries my skin out even more, otherwise I turn into a horrible, flakey mess! I also like to have a foundation that blends well using just my fingers. I have used brushes and sponges before but I find that it takes me too long to apply foundation using these, so on a day-to-day basis I just use my hands and save the other applicators for special occasions when I want more coverage. This foundation ticks both of these boxes. I make sure that I have applied moisturiser and primer first, otherwise it can be just a tad chalky, but overall I find this foundation really nice to apply.

In terms of coverage, I personally only like light coverage for daily wear and this foundation fits the bill. If I wanted more coverage I think it would be easy to build, but if you’re looking for more full coverage every day then this probably wouldn’t be quite right.

I think the price is very reasonable, especially when I compare it to a couple of more expensive foundations that I have tried and been quite disappointed with. One in particular that springs to mind is the Bobbi Brown Moisture Rich Foundation (£34); the shade match was excellent but I found the application of this product to be really difficult. Firstly there is no pump in the bottle, which makes it very hard to get out (this was just annoying) and secondly, despite being a foundation designed for dry skin, I found that it really did not blend well on mine. It seemed to crease and cake very easily, even when using a minimal amount. I definitely expected better from a premium product!

I’m still on the hunt for my perfect foundation but this one from The Body Shop is a solid 4 out of 5 and I would definitely consider buying again.

Daily Detox at Clinique

On Tuesday I had a complimentary mini facial at the Clinique counter in House of Fraser. I’d had a couple of samples from Clinique and the assistant suggested I come back for a Daily Detox so she could suggest a skincare regime that would suit my skin.

It was a really nice experience – the assistant was friendly and knowledgable and, considering I was sitting in the middle of a large beauty hall, it was actually quite relaxing too.

It started with a short questionnaire to find out my skin type and any problems I had. My main issues are dryness, which can often be flakey and red, and sensitivity, both due to eczema, which I’ve had since I was a baby. The routine that she suggested for me was pretty simple and included 5 products (which is just as well as I think this is the maximum I could ever be bothered to use on a morning!!)

She started with the Redness Solutions Cleanser (£18) in combination with the Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush (£79). The cleanser was creamy and luxurious, while still feeling very light, which I liked, and the brush was much gentler than I expected – the bristles are so soft! She then used the Redness Solutions Daily Cream (£40) followed by a Pore Refining Serum (£39) for my T-zone. Both of these products are quite pricey and although they both felt good on my skin, I’m not sure I would incorporate these into a daily routine (the assistant did suggest that these may only need to be used once or twice a week instead and I think this would be more feasible were I to actually invest). I also think it’s quite difficult to assess whether these products actually make a difference from only one application. I would like to get a sample to try for a week or so before I would consider buying.

The final two products were my favourites and two which I could actually see myself using. The 4th product in the routine is the new Moisture Surge Concentrate (£34). It felt lovely on my skin, quite watery but in a good way, as it absorbed quickly into my skin and didn’t feel oily or sticky at all. It has a gel texture which is very clean and fresh feeling, perfect for a product to use in your morning routine.

The last product was the All About Eyes Rich serum (£27). I have never used an eye cream before but when I think about it, I have no idea why this is as I often get dryness around my eyes and as they are a very sensitive area, it makes sense to use a product that is specifically designed for this. This eye serum felt a lot creamier than the moisturiser but blended in really nicely on top. Because of my sensitive skin, I do always worry that I may have a reaction to this kind of product but this eye cream has been really good and I saw a noticeable difference on Tuesday and Wednesday in the skin around my eyes.

Overall I was really pleased with the experience and it was nice not to feel pressured into buying the products straight away. The product I am most likely to invest in at the moment is the eye serum. This is because I currently have a moisturiser that I like (the Vitamin E Moisture Cream from The Body Shop) so I don’t need a new one right away and the eye serum is a product which I think it missing from my current skincare.

And finally, the assistant also gave me a 4 week sample of the Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief to try at home. It’s the perfect size for my handbag so I plan to carry it with me and use throughout the day as it is light enough to use over make-up. I’m going to use it over the next couple of weeks and I’ll let you know my verdict.