January Favourites

I have been enjoying lots of products in January, some new and some old favourites. I decided it was time to simplify my skincare routine as I realised that the complex one I had described in my October post was far too rich for my skin and was causing blocked pores. During the January sales I finally cracked and purchased a Clarisonic Mia which has done wonders for my pores and skin texture. Makeup is now going on very smoothly and allowing me to wear much less foundation.

Here are my favourite products for January:

january_favourites

Shiseido eyelash curler

I am lucky to have reasonably good eyelashes that don’t need too much mascara to look long but they aren’t particularly curly so I decided to take the plunge and buy this eyelash curler from Shiseido. I don’t really have much to compare it to but it does a good job of curling my lashes and is easy to use. I have used it most days this month with one coat of waterproof mascara to give me a look that opens up my eyes and makes me look more awake. This will definitely continue to be a regular part of my make up routine from now on. One thing I particularly like about these curlers is that you get a spare rubber cushion with them and you can also buy replacements.

Garnier moisture match revitalising hydrating gel

I didn’t actually discover this until the end of the month but I had been looking for a moisturising gel for a while and was very pleased to discover this inexpensive version from Garnier. It has a light scent and a lovely cooling feeling that is not sticky and provides a lovely base for makeup. It is the perfect light moisturiser for my oily skin if I am wearing foundation. Works particularly well under BB creams.

La Roche-Posay physiological cleansing gel

This cleansing gel has become my favourite cleanser. The light scent is gorgeous and the texture is soothing and refreshing. One pump removes all of my makeup with ease and it is particularly lovely used with a washcloth or my clarisonic.

Ecotools powder brush

I wasn’t impressed with this when I first got it as it didn’t seem very full. Originally I used it for bronzer but now it has been used and washed a few times it has become more fluffy and soft and makes a fantastic powder brush. It seems to be a good trade off between my full brushes that are lovely to use but apply a bit too much powder and my duo fibre brushes which don’t apply quite enough.

Bobbi Brown blush in Peony

I’ve had this for a while but have really come to love it lately. It looks scarily bright in the pan but gives a beautiful, healthy pink glow that really seems to suit my pale skin in the cold weather. I’m very impressed with the staying powder of these blushes, they stay all day.

MAC eyeshadows in Blanc Type & Patina

I thought I was done buying MAC eyeshadows as I have a full 15 pan pro palette but I wanted a 2 pan for travel. These two colours were a bit of an impulse buy but that have turned out to be my perfect every day colours that I have worn almost every day since buying them. Blanc type is a matte pale beige that evens out my skin and patina is a beautiful, slightly pearlescent taupe-brown that is the perfect colour to give my eyes some definition.

Clarins ever matte foundation

I got this with my Boots advantage points because I love the True Radiance foundation but it doesn’t have great staying power for work. By midday it looks too shiny so I have decided to save it for going out instead. I was worried the Ever Matte would be too matte and flat but it isn’t at all. It gives a lovely, medium coverage and 103 Ivory is the perfect colour for me.

Rimmel scandaleyes eyeliner in taupe

During the day I find dark eyeliners on my waterline are a bit too much but sometimes I still want something, especially if my eyes are looking red and tired. This is perfect, it darkens my eyes a little and disguises any redness but still looks subtle enough for the daytime.

Mushroom, Spinach & Chickpea Curry

chickpea_curry

This is a tasty, wholesome curry that is quick to make and very satisfying. It can be made from storecupboard and frozen ingredients which is great when you don’t have much fresh food in the house. I serve it with yellow cardomom rice or warm naans. I’m not a vegetarian but sometimes – especially after a few days of heavy meals – I love a plate of something meat free and healthy.

In this instance I used frozen whole leaf spinach but you can just as easily use fresh – just stir a few handfuls in right at the end. Makes 2-3 servings.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil (or whatever tasteless oil you have)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger or 1 teaspoon of ginger paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic or 1 teaspoon of garlic puree
  • A pinch each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds (optional)
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 can chopped tomatoes or passata
  • A couple of handfuls of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 400g can of chickpeas
  • Around 5 cubes of frozen whole leaf spinach or a few handfuls fresh
  • A few sprigs of fresh, chopped coriander

Start by heating the oil in a frying pan and then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds if you are using them. Once they start to sizzle, add the onion and fry until soft, stirring constantly. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.

Next, add the mushrooms and remaining spices and fry for a minute or two before adding the coconut milk, tomatoes and chickpeas. If the sauce is very thick, add half a cup of water and simmer for ten minutes.

If you are using frozen spinach, add this now and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring until the spinach has separated. Once the spinach is cooked, stir in some chopped coriander and then serve.

Lamb Meatball Kebabs & Roasted Vegetables

kebabs

This is a very simple and very tasty meal with plenty of healthy vegetables. You could add any vegetables you like to the kebabs or the roasting tray but I like this colourful mixture. You could also serve it with some mushroom fried rice and raita to make a more substantial meal. I used ready made lamb meatballs which already have a slightly minty taste. You could make this with any meatballs, chunks of meat or chunks of halloumi.  Serves 2.

  • 12 ready made lamb meatballs
  • 1 pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 large courgette
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Chop the tomatoes into quarters and slice the courgette into 1cm chunks. Lay these vegetables on a baking tray. Now assemble the kebabs, alternating chunks of red onion and pepper and the meatballs.

Mix the oil, lemon juice and oregano. Brush the kebabs and vegetables with the mixture and then season with salt and pepper.

Bake all together for 25-30 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are browning at the edges.

My Favourite Brushes: Foundation

foundation_brushes

Most of the time, I apply my foundation with a brush. In my quest for flawless skin I have accumulated quite a few foundation brushes, from the traditional flat kind to the huge Ecotools brush (technically a bronzer brush). The brush I use tends to depend on the texture of the foundation that I’m applying. For a thin, watery consistency I love a smaller buffing brush but for a thick BB cream I like a large brush that can spread it quickly and blend it well. I don’t use a traditional flat brush much any more as I find fuller brushes work much better for my skin. These are my favourites.

Real Techniques Buffing Brush

This was the first domed brush I ever tried for applying foundation and is still my favourite. The Expert Face Brush from the same range is similar and also nice but I like this one better as it is just a bit softer. I wish this brush could be bought outside a set as when I eventually wear it out I am going to want another one. The bristles are just the perfect amount of soft and dense and they never fail to apply my foundation perfectly and blend it so well. Another plus is that it washes like a dream and dries incredibly quickly. I’m yet to find another brush that is as such a good all rounder as this one. I have been using it for a long time now and it has been washed many times but still looks like new.

Ecotools Bronzer Brush

This is really a bronzer brush but I bought it as it looked similar to a Tarte brush that you can’t get very easily in the UK. I find this brush amazing for applying thick BB creams, spreading quickly and blending them effortlessly. The only downside is that it uses a little more product than smaller brushes but this is something I can put up with when I’m in a rush and need to apply my make up quickly. The brush is also inexpensive and I would definitely replace it if it wore out.

Sigma F86 Tapered Kabuki

I bought this one on a whim and I’m very glad that I did. This is a firm, densely packed candle shaped brush that is just perfect for applying all textures of foundation. I find this one gives a particularly beautiful finish with fairly thick, creamy foundations such as my Laura Mercier Silk Creme. My only complaint is that it is a bit difficult to clean and takes a long time to dry. I also find that due to the dense nature of the bristles, I feels dirty quicker that my other brushes and clings on to a lot of product. I use this one when I want a perfect finish but not for every day. I love the Sigma Flat Top Kabuki brush for similar reasons bit I get a marginally better finish with this one.

I would love to hear some recommendations for other foundation brushes.