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Discovering The Ordinary

A few weeks ago I made a little Asos order and couldn't miss the opportunity to pick up some products from The Ordinary. I've seen them everywhere lately and for such an affordable price, I'm not going to say no am I!

The Ordinary are relatively new to the blogging scene, but have already made a big impression. Their products offer affordable and 'effective clinical formulations' and have a variety of products which include different types of acids and oils. The brand is also cruelty free and only uses organic ingredients.

I have quite troublesome skin which can sometimes react to products so I opted for the ones which are formulated for spot-prone or oily skin. A few people recommend I tried the liquid peel - which did sound amazing but I thought it might be a bit too harsh for me. So to start off with I went for some slightly lighter options:

High-Adherence Silicone Primer
This is a silicone-based formula, which isn't necessarily thick but is on the thicker side compared to my usual primers. It kind of reminds me of the Benefit Porefessional primer except it feels slightly more moisturising when smoothing into the skin. You can really tell when applying this that it's actually smoothing the skins surface rather than just sinking into it. It doesn't leave a tacky texture but instead a smooth and velvety base which I'm really loving at the minute. It was kind of love at first use with this and my opinions haven't changed from the first use to now. It makes an amazing canvas for makeup application and also locks in oil, meaning minimal touch ups throughout the day. I highly recommend this primer if you haven't tried it already!

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
I briefly spoke about this product in my recent post The Rose Skincare Edit. I've not been totally blown away by this oil which I was kind of expecting to be, but saying this, I've still been using it most nights as the last step in my skincare routine as it's insanely nourishing and soothing. I definitely feel fresher and brighter after using it - so it must be doing something right! It sounds silly but what disappoints me about it is that it doesn't smell like rose. I like the calming scent that usually comes with rose-based products so I can smell and feel like it's working. It's a good facial oil don't get me wrong, I just don't know if I will repurchase this, but we shall see!

Salicylic Acid 2% Solution 
I'm very partial to a spot treatment and I've never actually tried one with acid before. This is a clear, almost serum-like liquid which comes with a pipette style lid (as does the oil) for ease of use. When I first started trying this my skin had just had a massive freak out and was in a pretty bad way. For the first few days I applied on affected areas in both the morning and evening as suggested and then reduced to just the evenings after I started seeing results. I found this to dry the spots out and I'd wake up with flakey skin around the area but this just let me know that it was healing. After about a week of use the skin stopped flaking and started to repair, with the spots significantly reduced. This came at a really great time for me as it rescued my skin in just a week. I'm really enjoying this, I just wish I didn't have to apply spot treatments as regularly as I do!

I'm actually really pleased with my purchases as a whole and very glad that I discovered the brand. I love the professional feel to the products and the packaging looks so sleek sat amongst my skincare. I'll definitely be trying more products out and I can especially see the silicone primer being my new favourite!

Have you tried The Ordinary yet? 

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A Laura Geller palette dupe?

Last year I first discovered the brand Laura Geller whilst browsing around Debenhams. I instantly fell for their eyeshadow palettes with their unique packaging and cute little dome-shaped shadows. I just had to get my hands on one - The Delectables Delicious shades of nude to be exact, (which by the way you can read my full review on here).
I don't actually hear much about Laura Geller products which is a shame, I love my palette for everyday use as the shades are so wearable. But, as always big brands can come with big prices and I'm just not about that life. I love finding affordable brands and cheaper alternatives, a.k.a dupes.
So when I saw this palette it took me back to the time I first saw the Laura Geller palette - I just had to have it. The shades instantly appealed to me and reminded me of the other Delectables palette too - Delicious shades of cool. It was definitely a dupe opportunity I couldn't miss!

So what is this palette I'm speaking of? It's the California baked eyeshadow palette from e.l.f cosmetics and is priced at just £12.50 - which is about a third of the price for some similar shades from Laura Geller. The palette includes 10 shades which are a mixture of cool and golden tones as well as having shimmer or pearlescent finishes.

Although the palette isn't an exact dupe visually, it definitely has some almost identical shades to some of those in both the Delicious Shades of Nude and Delicious Shades of Cool palettes combined. The formula isn't quite the same either, I'm not going to lie. The e.l.f baked shadows are quite hard to work with - I also found this with their baked highlighter. I'm not sure if this is an issue with e.l.f powders or baked products in themselves as they're really hard to get pigment from. Saying this, I know some people aren't fans of Laura Geller shadows as they aren't the most pigmented, but I personally find them really nice and natural for everyday wear. You can make colours more intense by using a damp brush as you do with most shadows anyway.
With the e.l.f shadows however, I found using a damp brush still wasn't enough, and had to actually wet the brush to get some proper swatches. This isn't ideal, but they do make effective metallic-looking shades this way. I think over time, the shades will wear in and become more pigmented as that's what happened with the baked highlighter.

Top row swatches

Bottom row swatches

As you can see, they are really beautiful shades but I did have to really pack them on for these swatches. They don't actually come off this opaque unless you use a wet brush, but for the sake of the photo I wanted to show each colour off properly. On the eyelids however, I find that you can use your finger to pack the colour on and press onto the lid - that works well at least.
If you're into baked eyeshadows and/or really subtle shades then this is a palette for you. The shades are so wearable and shimmery, even if they are a pain to get on! If you're thinking of investing in a Laura Geller eyeshadow palette then I'd also suggest having a go of this first to get a feel for using baked shadows as they aren't as pigmented as regular shadows.

Have you tried this palette?

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How I travel on a budget

I worked out the other week (from around the start of July) that I'd actually been away 5 times in the space of around 12 months which sounds mad! I managed to get away 3 times last year to Thailand, Barcelona and Brussels, and I've been away twice so far this year to Venice and the Costa Del Sol - which is the most I've ever been away in that amount of time!
You may be wondering how I manage to whisk off on holiday so often and how I manage to afford it. Truth is, I'm not rich, in fact no where near, I'm just a very savvy shopper - especially when it comes to holidays. People are often suprised when I tell them how much I paid for flights! I'm going to share a few tips on how I manage to travel on a budget..

Be open minded
Usually, I don't have a particular destination in mind when it comes to holidaying, which is key to getting a bargain. In terms of European breaks, you can grab return flights for as little as £19.99 with Ryan Air (yep, I've paid that!) and you just can't let that price slip. Keeping yourself flexible in terms of time and destination will open up plenty of cheap deals for you. Search tools which allow you to browse 'Everywhere' like on Skyscanner are really useful as you can list the results in price order to see what you have to work with. Keep a note down of prices and possible destinations (I find this so handy) and check them regularly as they will fluctuate. You may notice a pattern of which days the prices are at their lowest, and if you think it's not going to lower anymore - book it! It's a bit of a gamble this method but it's worked for me.

Do your research 
If you think that I can just book spontaneous trips anywhere without reading about them first - then you're very wrong! Once you've narrowed down your possible destinations you want to do a little bit of research on what to do and where to go. You want the holiday to suit your needs as well as your budget so just choosing a city at random is a big risk. Things such as best areas to stay, average prices of food and drink as well as travel expenses are important to know if you're limited on money. Sites such as TripAdvisor and Rough Guides will give you a general idea of somewhere with honest and real reviews. This will also help you to decide which budget-friendly destination appeals to you the most.

Compare prices
This is a bit of a no-brainer for booking anything from flights to hotels, but as mentioned earlier, being lenient with dates in terms of searching for a hotel can be the difference of a fair few quid too. Make sure to adjust your dates and check if going a day earlier works out better value for money. I always use the website Booking.com for hotel browsing as it shows everything for the best price - I always find other comparison websites leading back to it anyway. I use the same method used for checking flights daily and noting down prices for hotels too, as you will find that one week it will cost more and the next less. It's all about waiting for the right time!

I hope this post has been of some use into how I manage to get some amazing deals and I hope you find one of your own very soon! Do let me know if you have any of your own tips in the comments below.

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