Sunday, 15 July 2012

Primped and Primed

I first started using a foundation primer when I found that my Bare Minerals Matte foundation was just failing to keep my forehead shine free. Now in the summer months, well the UK's version of summer anyway, I have started using it under liquid foundation as well, in order to prolong the wear of my makeup. I have tried and tested three different foundation primers over the past year.

The Body Shop Skin Primer Matte It
This was the first primer that I ever bought and whilst it retails for £11, I think I got it at a slightly cheaper price during one of their frequent promotional sales. This is a silicone based primer and creates a very smooth base for my makeup. On my combination skin it keeps shine at bay for about three hours, before my skin (again, mainly my forehead) starts to take on a more dewy appearance. However, this primer seems to diffuse the oils quite nicely, making my skin look "glowy" not greasy. It also prolongs the wear of my makeup just slightly. Before using other primers, I used to think that this was the best a primer could probably do, as despite some shine, it made a considerable difference when compared to just using foundation alone. It contains 25ml of product, which will last me absolutely ages as I'm not even halfway through and a tiny amount goes a long way. When purchased in one of The Body Shop sales or using one of their many discounts, I think that this product is quite good value for money and I will continue to use up the rest of it.
Rating: 3/5

Benefit the POREfessional
I received a sample size of this product in the July edition of Glamour magazine and the full size normally retails for £23.50. It is another silicone based primer and it claims to reduce the appearance of pores. I don't have many enlarged pores, but it does create a smooth base (like most silicone primers), on which my foundation glides over. But it is one of Benefit's top selling products, so I'm guessing that it does live up to its claims. However, what impressed me most was its mattifying properties. This primer kept me shine free for most of the day, with only the tiniest bit of shine coming through at the very end of the day. For a product that doesn't claim to mattify at all, I think that this is pretty impressive. My makeup remains pretty much intact as well. The only major downfall for me is the size. It only contains 22ml, which is less than most of the other primers on the market, and for £23.50 I think that this is a bit steep. For this reason, I think that I will be trying out several other primers before considering buying the full size of this. Also like most Benefit products, it is highly fragranced so it may not agree with more sensitive skin types.
Rating: 4/5

Clinique Super City Block 40 SPF
Whilst this product is marketed as an "oil free daily face protector", Clinique claims that it is "Perfect as an invisible under-makeup primer or alone, on bare skin." It retails for £16  and at 40ml contains more product than most primers. However you do need to use slightly more of this to cover your face. I bought this to double as both sun protection and a primer on days when I need extra SPF, as I like to minimise the amount of products on my skin.
The first thing that I like about this is that it doesn't leave a white mask on my face like most SPFs as it's tinted. Although the colour is lighter than my NC35/37 skin tone, the sheer formula means that it blends out perfectly. Despite being "oil free", it does leave the skin looking dewy, although I find that this subsides slightly after a few minutes. However, whilst this product doesn't instantly mattify the skin, I have found that there is no extra oil production throughout the day and my makeup retains the fresh dewy look that it starts off with. But I have to say that I prefer to add extra radiance and dewiness to areas that I want and like to start off with a more matte base to begin with. Another gripe that I have with this product is the slightly sticky nature of it, meaning that I have to allow five minutes between applying this on top of my moisturiser and at least ten minutes before I can begin to apply my makeup. It is also slightly hard to blend, although Clinique do another version with SPF 25, which is supposed to be lighter in texture. Unfortunately, I am not the best judge of sun protection as I don't burn easily and well, I live in England! I haven't been able to test this abroad yet. I'm going to continue to use this product, but am thinking of trying the Mac Prep and Prime SPF50 next.
Rating: 3/5

I hope that these reviews have been helpful and please leave any recommendations for primers in the comments down below. I'm always willing to invest in primers and foundations, as I think that the base is the most important part of makeup application!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

If you're too broke for Bioderma ... (like me)

Now I don't know whether it is just me finally becoming more interested in skincare the last few months, but it seems like micellar solutions and cleansing waters have recently surged in popularity. Bioderma Sensibio H20 is by far the most raved about, hailed for its effective yet gentle removal of makeup, whilst bringing ineffective makeup wipes that drag the skin to shame. Available in a rather whopping 500ml it is also the best value for money.

Bioderma isn't widely available in the UK and the cheapest place to buy it is on Ebay. But due to demand and supply it is slightly overpriced at between 13 and 14 pounds. Whilst this remains the best value micellar water and isn't exactly breaking the bank, it can seem like a slightly unnecessary purchase for a cash strapped student. Especially one who is currently in the process of revamping the rest of their (frankly rubbish) skincare routine.

After trying and failing to find anything cheaper (per ml), I came across this video by Ruth from A Model Recommends, showing alternatives to Bioderma. I was excited to see her budget version, a cleansing water by Garnier. But of course, like most good things I found it to be discontinued. Feeling a bit deflated after quite an extensive search I was about to (rather grudgingly) settle for some type of cleansing milk by Garnier. But then I came across this. The Garnier Simply Essentials 2 in 1 Make-up Remover. At £2.99 for 200ml it is definitely cheaper than Bioderma and whilst it is not a complete dupe, it does have some similarities...

According to Garnier this cleanser
"combines the efficacy of a make-up removing oil (blue liquid) with the freshness of a cleansing water (clear liquid) in just one step"

As you can see from the photo, this requires shaking and mixing the two liquids together before use. This isn't necessary with micellar water, but after having a gander on Google I found out that
"a micelle is a microscopic cluster of oil molecules suspended in soft water – the clusters are hydrophobic and oil-loving, therefore grabbing and absorbing dirt and makeup without ever breaking or upsetting the skin’s natural lipid barrier like a foaming or rinsing cleanser would."

Whilst I cannot vouch for the same skin protecting properties in the Garnier cleanser, it seems that the basic method of using oil to remove makeup still applies - albeit a more basic version. So unless I'm hugely mistaken, both methods involve the same principle of 'dissolving' makeup. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!

So (finally), does this product work?


  • Extremely gentle and doesn't sting the eyes at all
  • Removes most makeup quickly and removes more stubborn makeup like mascara fairly quickly as well.
  • Requires much less scrubbing compared to makeup wipes
  • Leaves skin feeling soft

  • Leaves a slight oily residue that may be bothersome for more oily skin types
  • Have to remember to shake the solution each time (but that's probably just me)
  • A lot of product spills on to the cotton pad at once, (but then again that could just be clumsy old me)

Rating: 4/5

As you can see, the last two cons are just me being picky and I really am quite pleased with the product. Also the oily residue only seems to be more prominent when using a more concentrated amount to remove eye makeup (which is what I mainly use this cleanser for), but generally leaves my combination skin feeling soft and hydrated when used all over my face. Of course, you can just rinse your face afterwards if you feel that the oily residue is too much.

Like Bioderma this cleanser has been designed with sensitive skin in mind and both are free from alcohol and fragrance. Although Garnier claims to use natural products wherever possible, I am always a bit dubious about such claims from more mainstream companies. However this doesn't really bother me too much. The ingredients in the Garnier makeup remover are below:

The ingredients list for the Bioderma Sensibio H20 can be seen here.

A few days after purchasing this, I oh so cleverly realised that another cost effective option would be the No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Water for Normal / Oily Skin, when purchased using one of the '£5 off' No7 vouchers that often seem to be floating around. I kind of wish that I had thought of this prior to purchasing the Garnier one, as it is closer to being an actual dupe for the Bioderma.  However generally speaking, the Garnier makeup remover is a better budget option to have without being reliant on having a voucher. Also whilst the No7 cleansing water suits my skin type, the Garnier and Bioderma are more universal options. I will probably purchase the No7 one after I have used this one up, if I happen to have a voucher lying about.

I have to say that I agree with Ruth about there being a huge gap in the market for budget friendly cleansing waters and micellar solutions!

I apologise for the length of this post, but I just that feel quite a bit of effort went into finding a budget option and I just had to get it off my chest! I will try not to write anymore dissertation length introductions in the future, so thanks for bearing with me!

Also if you have any other recommendations for this please let me know in the comments down below!