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Exploring & Other Stories Skincare

When I discovered & Other Stories had their own collection of skincare , make up and body care products, I just couldn't resist....

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Finally I can go back to my regular blogging schedule, as all my exams are over. I know it's pretty late but I couldn't miss out on doing my monthly Birchbox Unboxing series. This week I'm really loving the contents of my May Birchbox, and having teamed up with Dream Factory this months box came with a unique design and the chance to win one of  9 generous prizes. If, like me, May wasn't the best month then any of the products will be sure to brighten your day. What did you get this month from your subscription service? 

Rituals | The Ritual Of Sakura Foaming Shower Gel | Original Price: £8.50 | Having heard great things about Rituals, I was so happy to see their Foaming Shower Gel among this months selection of products. If you love foaming shower gels and creams then is definitely for you; I've never used one like this one before so hopefully it can convert me to using products like this more often. It comes in this chic, white tin bottle and comes out as a gel which then transforms into a foam, and a little goes a very long way. Key ingredients include; Organic Rice Milk and Cherry Blossom for am enriching, moisturising and skin nourishing cleanse. 

Erborian Korean Skincare | Yuza Sorbet | Original Price: £39 | You may have heard a few people shouting their praises for Korean Skincare, and based in Paris and Seoul, Erborian is a luxury skincare brand worth every penny. The Yuza Sorbet sent in this months box is in the high end price bracket and offers an Anti Oxidant rich moisturising layer to the skin, and strengthens the skins barrier if applied daily. Also rich in Fatty Acids, this moisturiser is light yet nourishes the skin fully, I cannot wait to start using this. 
Batiste | Dry Shampoo Plus Wild | Original Price: £2.99 | Probably the most well known Dry Shampoo on the market, and definitely the most affordable and effective, Batiste have been popular for as long as I can remember but I've never gotten around to trying their products out. Thanks to Birchbox's personalised boxes, I was sent the perfect shade for dry hair and for my thick, often frizzy locks. I'm assuming 'Wild' suggests it can tame hair like mine, and I'm excited to use it! 

Modelco | More Brows | Original Price: £14.95 | As soon as I saw this product Benefit's Gimme Brow immediately sprung to mind. This is such an affordable dupe for Benefit's more expensive version, and comes in two tones for lighter and darker brows. Coming with a mascara-esque applicator, you can evenly distribute the malleable product over the brows to your desired thickness and look. It's be interesting to see how this compares to using a pencil or a pomade, as I've never used a liquid product like this before. 
Aïny Skincare | Purifying Radiance Facial Scrub | Original Price: £20 | Another product in the more high end price bracket, the Organic Purifying Radiance Scrub sounds utterly delightful and something that will work wonders on many skin types. I've never heard of Aïny Skincare but they're known for their cruelty free, organic, natural products and this particular product contains 3 key ingredients; Achioté (derived from a small South American Tree known for its purifying antioxidants), Sunflower and Jojoba. This is a great alternative to using a foaming cleanser with a cleansing brush, as an all in one exfoliating gel it does the job producing soft, supple skin. 

Have you tried any products from this months Birchbox? What did you receive in the month of May?
I love my current skincare routine but whilst each product may have worked perfectly for me to begin with, there comes a time when your skin is no longer as healthy looking or feeling as before. There are quite a few reasons why this can happen, but there are many ways to address this issue so your skin is consistently glowing, healthy and at it's best throughout the year, without constantly buying new products. What are your main skin issues? 

Seasons

One of the main reasons why the effectiveness of my skincare routine starts to ware off is the seasonal changes. If you don't like changing your routine very often, then seasonally is your best option to make the biggest changes. It goes without saying that an SPF in your moisturiser is essential during the hot months, but during winter you can never underestimate the effect the weather might have; increased sensitivity, dryness, and redness are just some of the effects the cold months can have. I like to add more hydrating products that are thicker and pack a punch that can protect the skin from weather that causes increased sensitivity. 

Masks

If you're not a big fan of masks yet then I hope I can convert you. The range of masks out there give you such a variety of options to find your favourite. The good thing about masks is that regardless of their immediate effects, if your skincare routine isn't quite making your skin the best it can be, adding a mask to the equation might be just the right thing to do and exactly what your skin is looking for. Brands I recommend include GlamGlow, Origins, Botanics, Charlotte Tilbury and Merumaya
Ingredients 

Over time you'll be able to figure out what ingredients benefit your skin, and which ones don't. But there are some essential ingredients that guarantee better, healthier skin, and adding just one product with these ingredients can make a huge difference. Make sure you include the Antioxidants and AHA's (Alpha Hydroxy Acids); I found paying a little pay a little more attention to the ingredients list of my products helped me discover some of them they might not being the right things for my skin. The list includes;
  • Retinol
  • Vitamin C & E
  • Salicylic Acid 
  • Green Tea
  • Glycerin
  • Glycolic Acid
  • Hyaluronic Acid 


Tools

Whilst you might own the best cleansers on the market, the way in which you use them could be negatively affecting your skin. I use a soft haired organic Botanics Facial brush for lightly foamed cleansers, and The body Shop's Facial Exfoliating Brush for a thorough exfoliation (for more info on my Skincare Tools read my skincare tools post here). The most important thing about getting the tools right is balance; if you use a harsh exfoliating brush, always balance it with a soothing cream cleaner and a muslin cloth to repair the broken skin. Anything too harsh can cause breakouts, sensitive skin and prolonged redness. 

What ways have you improved your skincare routine this summer? What do you recommend for achieving the best looking skin?
You may remember from a few months ago, I did a post all about my Current Skincare Tools, because they're just as important as the products you use. I think the same applies for Makeup tools, the better the brush, sponge or applicator, the better your makeup looks, no matter how expensive the products are. I've gone through my entire makeup drawer and pulled out my most used and relied upon tools for applying my makeup, as well as cleaning them. I'm quite happy with my current line up but I'm always looking elsewhere to add more brushes or tools to my collection. If there's more out there, then I'll find an excuse as to why I need it. What are your current, go-to makeup tools?
The Brushes

As you can see, it's no secret that I love Real Techniques Brushes, in fact currently they're the only brushes I own. That's not saying I won't buy any other brands brushes (in fact I'm really into Sephora's and Zoeva's), but so far they're the brand I most trust. Within the Real Techniques Brush Collection (which as you may know is huge) there are several others that I would love to buy next. 

Multi Task Brush: I use this large pink brush for applying setting powder, bronzer, and blush. 

Tapered Foundation Brush: I don't always use this foundation brush to apply my foundation, it depends on what kind of coverage I'm looking for. If I want a heavier coverage, this brush is more ideal, plus it's great for concealer too. 

Angled Highlighter Brush: I love using highlighter, I apply it almost religiously for everyday and more glam evening looks. This brush is perfect for an even application on the cheek bones, nose, chin and forehead. If you like putting highlighter on your cupids bow, I suggest using the Precision Liner brush. 

Base Shadow Brush: The largest of the purple collection, this brush is ideal for applying your base eye shadow ensuring an even application without losing any product. 

Collectors Edition Eye-lining Set: These 4 brushes come in a handy travel pouch and include everything but the Base Shadow Brush to carry out any eye makeup look. This includes the Precision Liner Brush, Smudge Brush, Eyeliner Brush, and the Pointed Liner Brush
The Sponges

I love using sponges and beauty blender type products to evenly and lightly apply foundation, concealers and various powders. I think they give the best looking, natural finish and a great base for other products. Do you prefer brushes or sponges?

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: Much like the original favourite, the Beauty Blender, Real Techniques' sponge is angled and tapered to allow for various types of application. The pointy end is perfect for even coverage foundation or concealer, whilst the flat, angled side gives you the advantage of precision. 

MAC Wedge Sponges: Probably the best product to use for precision and of course, Baking, is the wedge sponge. I rely heavily on my MAC wedge sponges, they're perfect for applying under eye powder, and their angles allow for application in the small crevices of your face. Mine are from MAC but there are so many brands who do them, and they're so cheap. 

Other Tools + Cleaning 

Sephora Eye Lash Curler: An invaluable tool to make my lashes pop is my metallic pink Sephora Eye Lash Curler in the traditional all metal style. Whilst this works a treat, I would also love to try their 'Things are looking up' eye lash curler, which is in the Laura Mercier style plastic curler, and interesting design I'd love to see the effects of. 

Real Techniques Brush Cleanser + Palette: As soon as Real Techniques brought out their Brush Cleanser I jumped at the opportunity to try it and now I'm hooked. More recently, however, they brought out their hugely helpful cleansing Palette which takes brush cleaning to the next level. Before I was using this, all I used was some paper towel and my hands, as Nic instructed, but now you can tailor the type of cleanse each brush gets thanks to the different ridges on the palette, its perfect. 

What are your current makeup tools? Use any of mine?
Since I'm in the midst of my exams for uni, I've decided to post once or twice a week, staying as active as possible until they're done. Today I'm delighted to be talking about my iPad 4 Mini; the apps, tips and ways I incorporate blog stuff onto it. I also thought it would be the perfect time to review the latest stylus that I've been trying out, The Cosmonaut, because a stylus is just what I needed for my iPad. What's on your iPad/tablet? 

Apps - In Built

Aside from the obvious (contacts, calendar, FaceTime, camera etc.) I rely heavily on Apple's optional in built apps, especially those that help me with organisation. 

Notes - new ideas, shopping lists, random notes. 

Reminders - Crucial if you're the kind of person who needs technology to remind you to do things; send a letter by a certain date, perform a daily task you always forget (workout perhaps?), or read that book you keep avoiding. 

iTunes U - For a student, this app is so helpful. You can download courses, notes and books all in one place for whatever you're studying, and most of it is free.

Keynote - Again for a student, creating a presentation with Keynote is an invaluable tool.

Podcasts - I love podcasts, my favourites being Fempire and Anna Farris is Unqualified

Music - this may seem unnecessary to mention, but Music on an iPad or any tablet is often over looked but I find it just as handy to have my favourite songs on my tablet too. 

iBooks - Probably one of my top 5 things to do on my iPad is read; I can get all my favourite books on the go, in amazing quality. I've had many a kindle, but for me nothing beats iBooks. Currently reading: Kill Your Friends by John Nivan
Apps - Downloaded

I'm the kind of person who downloads far too many apps and doesn't use half of them, so here are the apps I actually do use and would highly recommend. 

Social: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, and Snapchat. 


Photography: Fused, VSCO, Glitch Art, EyeEm, and Snapseed

Keyboards: Broad City, Kimoji, and Victoria's Secret

Kylie - If you read my detailed post about Kylie Jenner's site then you'll know I really love it, and since it comes with an app for mobiles and tablets, its the perfect portable companion. Bonus: you get Kylie Radio. 

Evernote - Whilst I do often use the inbuilt notes app, Evernote is my go to for everything. Across platforms you just sign in and all your notes come flooding in. I does so much more than any other note app; typed and written notes, pictures, videos, voice notes and more. Great for a busy blogger!

Bloglovin' - Need I explain why? Love this app, its an absolute essential. 

Buffer - On the go, scheduling social media posts is best done on Buffer. 

Villoid - If you haven't got Villoid yet then I highly recommend it if you love anything to do with Alexa Chung. This is basically her version of Pinterest but a lot chicer (if that's even a word). 

IMDB: If, like me, you love movies and television, IMDB should be your portable companion for anything and everything tv/movie related. 

Made to Measure - This app is how I stay up to date with the latest runway trends, looks, shows and designers. I think it's the best one out there. 


Before I purchased the Cosmonaut I looked everywhere for the best reviews on the top stylus's for touch screen devices. This always came up as one of the best, but reason I went for it was the simple, stunning, and easy to handle design. I like making handwritten notes on my iPad, but I just also love the way a stylus makes my life so much easier.

The Cosmonaut is a more affordable, yet specifically crafted stylus, with the quality of something much more expensive. It looks and feels like you're using a marker, or crayon, but as Studioneat (the brand who make the Cosmonaut) says 'it just feels right'. The best thing about it is how durable and strong it is; this stylus is built to last and won't let you down. 


I hope you found today's post interesting, what are your essential tablet apps? What's on your tablet?
When I discovered & Other Stories had their own collection of skincare, make up and body care products, I just couldn't resist. Starting off with skincare, around £30 later I'd ordered a nice selection of products to try. Their skincare range is surprisingly vast consisting of cleansers, makeup removers, facial sprays, lip balms and more. I'm often skeptical when clothing brands venture into beauty, but with the surprising success of TopShop's makeup and the popularity of H&M's entire beauty range, they're well worth a try before you write them off. Reasonably priced, great ingredients, and a gorgeous design; & Other Stories skincare can't help but impress you. Ever tried their skincare range?
If you're yet to find your favourite eye make up remover, or just aren't a fan of micellar waters, then their Double Duty Eye Make-up Remover may be just what you're looking for. Ophthalmologically tested with Lash Protecting Pro-Vitamin B5, this was the first product I tried from & Other Stories Skincare to begin my evening skincare routine. As soon as I tried it I thought to myself "is it possible for a product I've only just tried, to become my favourite?" I was so surprised at how gentle and soothing it was, plus it's effectiveness was second to none. My eye makeup came off so quickly, and easily compared to my micellar waters and other eye make up removers; I cannot stress enough how good this stuff is. After using it I also felt my skin had greatly benefitted from its minimal yet effective ingredients, it felt softerpurer and completely soothed. Perfect for the sensitive skin around the eyes. 

Price: £5 // 125ml 

Important ingredients: Sweet Almond oil, Corn Extract, Wheat and Soy Protien, Olive Fruit Oil, Rose Water, and Radish Extracts
Moving straight on to the second stage of my skincare routine, I turned to the Tussah Cleansing Gel. In my eyes this is again a winner; it's so gentle and smells amazing with a healthy blend of minerals and beneficial ingredients. & Other Stories claim that it promotes clear and radiant skin, and removes excessive oil whilst balancing out the skins moisture. I find that it helps tremendously with my combination skin as it evens out the PH of the skin and hydrates it enough for a healthy balance of oils producing soft, supple skin. It's a more foaming gel as a pose to melting, so I like to use it for my first cleansing stage with an exfoliating brush. I really love how great this feels on my skin; it didn't cause any unnecessary break outs, in fact in prevented blemishes from appearing and promoted a more glowy complexion

Price: £5 // 125ml

Important ingredients: Chamomile Flower Water, Fruit extracts, Citric Acid, Sugar Cane, Orange extract, Lemon Extract and Sugar Maple extract
If you're a regular reader then you'll know I absolutely adore toners, hydrating or acid, I love trying new ones out and adding them to my skincare collection. Whilst & Other Stories are yet to bring out an acid toner (which I think they definitely should) they've got a very nice Spray Genie Face Mist with pure mineral water to perfectly hydrate the skin post cleanse or during the day when the skin needs a pick-me-up. I like to use this directly after my acid toner with a few spirits of this before my serums and moisturiser. I love the packaging, it's simple, chic and very practical; the product comes out really well out of the spray top and delivers perfect hydration in just 2 or 3 pumps. My skin has been visibly smoother and clearer since using this instead of my other spray toners, I couldn't be happier with the results so far.

Price: £7 // 100ml

Important Ingredients: Rose Water, Citrus Amara Flower, Tilia Cordata Water, and Chamomile Flower Water
I thought it was only right to pick up a few of their essential skincare tools, starting off with their soft Cotton Pads (consisting of 80) and their Sticks (consisting of 200). There's really nothing special about these two but it's nice to know you can get almost everything you need all from & Other Stories alone. The cotton pads are a little softer than I'm used to and the sticks (aka cotton buds or cue tips) are strong and very handy.

Having been so pleasantly surprised by the quality and results gained from using these products, I'm so eager to try the rest of & Other Stories' skincare collection as well as the rest of their beauty ranges. The design and simplicity of ingredients is so impressive, plus the prices are mind blowing given the quality and quantity. Some products are also perfect sizes for travelling with a little bit more to spare, and all the products are dermatologically tested as well as suited to all skin types. 

Other products you can buy from their skincare range include; Toile Lip Oil, Moiré Anti-Stress Serum, Cashmere Hydrating Cream, Gentle Cleansing Wipes, Camlet Hand Balm, Organza Eye Cream, Lip Balm in Mint, Lemon and Coconut

What are your first impressions of & Other Stories Skincare? Tried any of these products before?