Showing posts with label styling tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label styling tools. Show all posts

Monday, 29 December 2014

A year in review: 2014's Killer Products

2014 has been a great year for beauty.  We've seen millions of variations on tubby pencils, micellar waters continue to be a big thing on the high street as well as from high end brands, and cleansing conditioners became king.

Over the year, I've declared a few truly excellent products BUY THIS NOW items, which conveniently makes it much easier for me to compile a review of them, and to reflect on whether they're still favourites.

The first stand out of the year, and the only nail polish to truly knock my socks off, was the rather beautiful Into the Night by Girlie Bits, an indie brand which makes the most stunning holographic and duochrome polishes.  I still wear it, and I still stare at my nails when I do.

On the hair side, I fell firmly in love with L'Oreal Elvive's Fibrology hair care, which promises and delivers thicker feeling hair.  I don't use the shampoo (it contains the dreaded colour-dulling sulphates) but the conditioner, serum and mask have all earned permanent places in my bathroom.  Perhaps the highest praise is that my husband uses them too, and chooses to repurchase the shampoo every time he runs out.

More recently, I tried out Bumble and Bumble's Blow Dry creams, and found that they really do help you get a smooth blow dry with minimal effort.  You only need a little bit, they make the hair super shiny, and they smell neutral to boot.  I'll be repurchasing the original Straight version when my sample is finished.

Macadamia's Flawless Cleansing Conditioner was one of the first widely available cleansing conditioners, and it's lightweight yet still nourishing formula cleans the hair beautifully, reduces blow dry time, and leaves the hair smooth and shiny.  Lovely it is, but it's perhaps telling that I've not repurchased it.

One product I completely failed to write about, but absolutely adore, is the Babyliss Big Hair.  The first couple of times I used it I managed to tangle my hair up rather impressively, but with a little practice this rotating brush has become my favourite way to style my hair.  Used on damp hair, it gives a shiny, bouncy blow dry which almost looks like a professional has done it.

These recently released Bourjois Mega Liner and Volume 1 Seconde mascara are still getting used virtually every day.  Intense black pigment, easy to use packaging and very reasonable pricing make this eye pairing a winner.

On the other end of the price scale, I found my Holy Grail waterproof mascara.  Clarins Truly Waterproof mascara stays put, wears like iron, and gives a very defined, voluminous look.  I've been through three repurchases since my sample ran out earlier this year.

Eyeshadow wise, there have been a lot of beautiful palettes I've fallen in love with this year, but this small, super-cheap palette from Makeup Revolution combines flattering shades, good pigmentation and excellent blendability with a teeny tiny price.

I'd heard of Amazing Concealer before, but hadn't quite appreciated the power of the tiny tube until I tried it.  The pigmentation is intense, and you only need the tiniest bit to erase dark circles and blemishes.  It's economical too - my tiny sample tube is still going strong.

Unsurprisingly, I found a handful of really good lip products this year.  My absolute favourite is this Sephora Give Me More Lip sampler, which contains seventeen products in mini sizes and a variety of shades and formats.  I still carry around a number of products from it at all times, and I really love the cute little lipsticks as well as the huge variety I got to try out from a single set.

Kiko's Unlimited Stylo lipsticks were a revelation in long-lasting matte at a budget price - at least 8 hours of wear combined with intense pigmentation made these gorgeous lipsticks an absolute winner for me.  Hibiscus Red, a pink-toned red, still lives in my makeup bag, and I get it out every time I want a power matte red which will last with no maintenance.

At the other end of the price scale, there's no doubt that Estee Lauder's Pure Color Sculpting Lipsticks are expensive at £24 a pop, but they're so beautiful.  Creamy in texture and with incredible pigmentation and impressive wear, they're luxurious, functional, and come in a very wide array of colours.

When Bourjois entered the fray with a matte liquid lipstick, the world sat up and took notice.  Rouge Edition Velvet are a range of easy to apply, beautifully soft matte liquid lipsticks which last well and are very easy on the wallet.  My favourite shade, Frambourjoise, has earned me many a compliment this year.

So that's it!  The cream of the products I've tried this year.  What have been your favourites?  Let me know in the comments!

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Review: Remington Keratin Therapy Pro Volume Styler

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Remington Keratin Therapy Pro Volume styler brush thing, and I absolutely adore it.  It is a simple styling brush with a keratin treated ceramic barrel, and it's so easy to use even someone with no hair styling skill (like me) can get smooth hair with great volume.

It boasts two heat settings; 120 degrees, and 180 degrees, and it takes a couple of minutes to get to maximum temperature.  The black switch you can see just above the power light tunes down the tension in the brush head, allowing it to spin around easily, which helps to get it out of the hair if you've wound the hair tightly round the barrel to create curls or volume.

I've really been enjoying using this tool and will continue to do so because it's just so easy!  I don't really like the poker-straight straightening iron look but I did like how low-effort it was to achieve - the Pro Volume styler makes bouncy, flicky hair just as easy as straightening.  I just take small to medium sections of hair, brush them through quickly, and then wrap the strand around the barrel, holding it either horizontally for gentle curls or vertically for bouncy smoothness.  

Hair is left incredibly shiny and smooth after use, and since I've started using it more than one eagle-eyed friend has said that it looks like it's been blow dried by a professional.  Impressive stuff.

At just £27.99, this little styling tool is a bargain, and I will happily recommend it to everyone I know.  Find it at Boots, and other high street electrical retailers.

Disclosure: PR sample

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Review: Enrapture Extremity Heated Rollers

I love heated rollers.  They give fabulous volume, beautiful curls, and add shine - and best of all, I've always found that I don't need to be massively disciplined in how well I section my hair when I put them in to get great results.  The new Enrapture collection of styling tools contains a set of heated rollers - and they're a little bit special.

The case contains 20 rollers - ten large, and ten medium.  I like that the rollers are all reasonably large - I have a set of Babyliss rollers which contain small rollers as well as big fat ones, and have found that I rarely use the smallest ones unless I want my hair to look like a barrister's wig (which isn't very often at all).  These sizes are much more suited to creating soft curls or waves and plenty of volume.

The rollers themselves are slotted - they heat via the case, where they sit on metal rods which fit neatly inside the slot.  The texture of the inner part of the roller is quite grippy, too - once the hair has been initially smoothed onto the roller, it adheres well, making escaping ends much less of a problem.  The clips are designed to be left on the rollers whilst they heat - so when you roll the hair and clamp the roller in place, the heat is coming not only from the roller inside the hair, but from the clip holding the hair to the roller.  This is a very clever idea - it ensures that the hair gets the maximum heat whilst rolled.

My rolling technique is pretty haphazard - I start with the top (along the middle towards the crown), and then cover the sides (bottom up) and the back.  You can see that some of the hair is escaping the rollers - this is entirely down to my laziness rather than the product.  I was going for a relatively easy going, loosely curly, effortlessly glam look - so I didn't really worry that my hair wouldn't end up looking particularly even or polished.  It took me around twenty minutes to roll all my hair - and I have to report that those rollers are hot when they come out of the case.  I took a single roller out, left it on the floor for thirty seconds, and then quickly rolled my hair into it - unlike other rollers I've tried in the past, the edges are not particularly cool.

After removing the rollers, and shaking out the curls with my fingers, I was left with hair that was full, shiny, and glamourously curly at the ends.  Absolutely lovely.  After spraying with hairspray, I found that the effects lasted for the rest of the evening with ease - and the next day I still had some volume and loose curls at the ends.  This is an improvement - my other rollers give results that last only a few hours before dropping, even with hairspray, and I suspect that the difference is the heated grips in the Enrapture product - they really seem to help set the style into the hair.

Overall, these are my new favourite hair tool - for twenty minutes effort, I ended up with very glamourous hair which gathered a fair few compliments at the party I attended!  I'll definitely be using these as often as I can.  Enrapture Extremity Heated Rollers cost £74.99 and are available from, Selfridges, Argos and a wide variety of other retailers, both online and in-store.  Compared to my Babyliss set, which cost around £35, these are indeed very expensive - but the clever heated clamps, quick heating action and good selection of sizes make them a viable alternative if you're looking for a way to get glamourous volume and curl on style-resistant hair.  What do you think?  Too expensive or worth it for that bounce?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Monday, 18 July 2011

Review: Enrapture Amplify Jumbo Waver

Whilst this shiny chrome gadget might look like a hand held sandwich toaster, it is in fact a device for creating waves.  It's called the Amplify Jumbo Waver, and it's made by Enrapture, a new kid on the hair-appliance block, who promise tools designed to create gorgeous curls which are easy to use and give great results.  The Amplify waver is composed of two rather large barrels and a curved plate which heat up quickly to press hair into a S-wave shape.

It has a variable heat control.  It heats up quickly.  So far so standard.  The large barrels, though, aren't quite so standard.  At 25mm, they're quite a bit bigger than those you'll find in the few wavers currently available on the market, and that largeness gives a more natural, less crimpy wave, according to Enrapture.

First off, let me explain that I'm crap at hair.  I was OK at straightening (it doesn't really require a lot of skill), but I lack the motivation, inclination and upper arm strength to wrestle with styling appliances on a regular basis.  So I approached the Amplify waver with a bit of trepidation - would I be able to wield it appropriately?  Would I just end up burning my ear?  Would my hair look rubbish?

As it turns out, the answers are yes, yes and no (I always burn my ear.  Not the product's fault).  Despite being on the large side, the Amplify waver is actually surprisingly light.  The clamping action is smooth, it's easy to hold the barrels and plate shut, and the high heat levels involved mean that you don't really need to hold it in place for very long.  I started a few inches from the roots with a relatively large section of hair, and moved slowly down the hair, travelling from wave into wave on the way down.

The end result was incredibly shiny, well defined and didn't look crimpy or too 80s.  I added a bit of salt spray, tousled a little, and ended up with some rather beachy looking hair.  I was very impressed with myself.

It probably would have looked better had my hair been cleaner when I started out, but I was very impressed with how quickly I was able to style my hair with the Amplify waver.  I think I'll be getting a lot of use out of it - the resulting waves were natural looking but defined, just right for a casual 'do when you don't want your hair to look too elaborate.

Enrapture tools will be released on sale from the 15th August, with the Amplify Jumbo Waver costing £74.95.  The range will be widely stocked in Boots and other online stores.  What do you think?  Tried wavers before?  Like the look of this one?  Let us know in the comments!

Disclosure: PR sample

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Review - Remington Pearl Wand conical styler

Disclosure - PR sample
Conical styling wands were pretty much a new thing for me when I encountered this product. I remembered reading about conical wands on VexInTheCity's blog some time back, but never thought to try one for myself. Until now...

When I got this I had no idea how to use it, and had to Google for some tutorial videos. Here's a good one from CharmedValerie over in the US, who has a skilled technique going on. 

It's not just a clever name. The conical wand is indeed cone-shaped, tapering from a 1.5 inch base to a fine 0.5 inch pointed tip to create curls of different types, from tight ringlets to loose waves. Basically you separate your hair into sections and wrap the locks around the barrel of the styler (which heats up to 210 degrees Celcius) with your fingertips, hold for a few seconds, then let go and watch the curl bounce into place.

My hair has a natural curl, and I've never been that interested in curling it further, although I did find it quite satisfying to wrap a bit of hair around the barrel and create a smooth spiral in a couple of seconds. In the above picture, all the curls and waves are created with the Pearl Wand. (I had blow-dried my hair straight beforehand.)

One slight issue I had was the ends of my hair. Because I didn't want to burn my fingertips (which is really easy to do - luckily the wand comes with a glove to help protect your hand) I had to leave about an inch at the end of my hair that wasn't curled. Not a huge problem, but I noticed that the curls made with the styler were different from my own curls in this respect. You'd have to be really looking to tell, though. Apart from that, the Pearl Wand curls looked quite natural.

Usability-wise, I can't fault the controls of the Pearl Wand. It has a digital display showing when the styler is fully heated and what its temperature is. + and - buttons control the heat, and there's an easy-to-find power switch underneath them.

The USP of the Pearl styling range (there is also a blowdryer and a set of straighteners) is that the heated surfaces are coated with crushed pearl to make the hair extra-smooth. Having never tried a conical wand without this pearl coating, I can't compare, but I didn't have any problems with the condition of my hair after using this, and it looked and felt quite smooth and shiny.

The design is very attractive (as styling products go). It's sleek and black, with a Japanese-style floral detail on the barrel and a cool blue LCD display. The cord is a good 3m long and attaches to the unit on a rotating jack, so it won't twist up or restrict your movements as you're styling. It comes with a heat-proof pouch for storage. Best of all (for forgetful people like me) there's an auto-cut-out safety mechanism so it will turn itself off if you accidentally forget to unplug it after use.

All in all, I've been impressed by the design and performance of the Pearl Wand. For the price, I don't think you can go far wrong with one of these if you want a versatile way of creating curls. Just be careful and don't burn your fingers!

The Remington Pearl Wand costs £25.99 (RRP)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Review: TRESemme Salon Professional Curls Styling Wand

Disclosure: PR sample

TRESemme, king of reasonably priced shampoo and styling products, has brought out a range of styling appliances.  Sarah reviewed the Volume Styler that she'd been given to trial a while ago, and I received the Styling Wand - a conical ceramic styling wand which heats to around 200 degrees to give perfect, glossy curls.

The styler comes accompanied by a heatproof mat (which also wraps around the wand for storage) and a heatproof glove.  The basic premise is that you hold the wand vertically with the cool tip pointing downwards, using your gloved hand to wrap strands of hair around the barrel.  After spending a bit of time holding it the wrong way up and failing to make any curls (which is what happens when you don't read the instructions), I soon got the hang of using the wand to create gorgeously smooth loose curls.

The wand has three heat settings, for fine, normal and coarse hair.  I went straight for the coarse setting, as my hair is colour treated and quite unruly, and found that the wand managed to create curls pretty well at that setting, which is the hottest - I'd recommend trying out the lower settings first so as not to damage the hair, as the hottest setting is indeed very hot.

My next test was to hand the wand over to my good friend and hairdresser Silvie, who usually uses a Babyliss  curling wand day-to-day.  While she was initially sceptical, being that TRESemme isn't a brand you'd usually associate with professional usage, she quickly warmed to the wand - praising in particular the integrated stand above the grip, which allows you to set the wand down without any hot parts touching the surface you've stood it on.  She also liked the way that the heatproof map wraps around the wand, eliminating the worry of any residual heat damaging surfaces once you're done curling.

Overall, I've been very impressed with the quality of the TRESemme wand - it performs on a par with other professional wands I've used (via Silvie) in the past, and it's also very reasonably priced at around £29.  The curls it creates, spritzed with a bit of hairspray, last for around 8 hours for me, which is pretty good: my hair doesn't hold a style very well.  If you've got a hankering for a conical styler, you can't really go wrong with this!

Available at Boots, Tesco, and online at Just Beautifully, and it will cost you around £29.

What do you think?  Love conical stylers?  Tried this?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Review - Tresemme Volume Styler

Disclosure - PR sample

I'm not really au fait with heat styling tools. I know there are a lot of them, and that they create amazing looks for other people. But for me, a hairdryer and an occasional-use-only set of straighteners are as far as it goes. I have naturally curly hair that I have always wished was straighter, and with a radial brush and a decent blowdry technique, I'm able to achieve that easily. I use straighteners, rarely, to create an extra-smooth look. And once in a while, now that I've grown up enough to accept my curls (as a kid I hated the way they formed ringlets, like a porcelain doll), I allow my hair to dry naturally.

This slightly apologetic preamble is to let you know that my review of Tresemme's Volume Styler will not be the critical assessment of a seasoned heat styler enthusiast. Rather it's a tale of what happened when styling n00b met styling product.

So. The Volume Styler is basically a large radial brush with a heated element in the middle and vented pink metal (sorry, ceramic, ionic) plates in between the bristles. It contains a 700W motor and blows hot air through the vents onto your hair as you style. It has 3 heat settings - medium, hot and cool shot.

Compared to my 2000W blowdryer, the 700W drying efforts of the Volume Styler are pretty meagre and won't be adequate to dry most hair from wet, even on the hottest setting. Mine is not the thickest hair in the world (it's about average) so I'd say that unless you have extremely fine hair in a short style, it's best used as a finishing tool after you've rough-dried with a conventional dryer.

On rough-dried hair, the styler can be sort of tucked under locks of hair at the root and used to give lift and volume from underneath. I found it very easy to use, and the bristles remained a comfortable temperature on my scalp even after it had been on full power for a while. The plates do get very hot, as does the round top of the brush head, so caution is advised when handling it. I've gotten into a routine of rough drying with my blow dryer and then smoothing out and adding root lift with the Volume Styler. It's very satisfying to watch my hair go from a wavy tangle to a smooth, bouncy style.

The cool shot isn't up to much when used after the heated settings. I tried using it to 'set' the style after I'd done the volumising routine described above, but found little difference in the temperature between warm and cool settings. I think because air is blowing through warm channels inside the unit, it gets heated anyway. However, you could definitely use it to set a style that you'd created with other tools like hairdryer or irons.

I have used this alongside Andrew Collinge Weightless Volume mousse and between them, these two products give definite lift at the crown and a sense of greater volume all over the hair.

I'd say that the Volume Styler is something I would be happy with had I bought it for myself, and it has made me wonder what I might be able to achieve with other tools at my disposal. It retails for around £25, and can be bought online from Boots, who currently have a gift with purchase offer on selected Tresemme stuff.
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