Urban Decay Naked Palette (£37)
If I didn't have a boyfriend, I'd probably be in a relationship with an Urban Decay palette.
This week I've been rediscovering this brilliant eyeshadow palette. I've had mine for about two years and no matter what eyelid colours and formulas I've tried since then, I always come back to this. It pretty much covers all bases from a pared back everyday nude look to a really strong smoky eye and everything in between. It's the only palette I own where I can genuinely say that I use every shade. Some shades I thought I'd never wear (like 'creep', the dark blue, and 'half baked', the shimmery gold). The dark blue makes a beautiful dark eye and is much more flattering than black. The gold is beautiful patted into the inner corner to finish a smoky eye. The beauty of this is that the shades are so wearable. Every one of them has a natural toned base. The purples have a brown base, the blues have a grey base, the pinks have a soft fawn base, meaning that no shade looks 'off' when it's, um, on. I could go on and on about these shades, they're all so beautiful and my heart still flutters a little when I open the case.
The brush has a tapered tip which makes it brilliant for lining eyes, but not so great for blending. Newer palettes have a double-ended brush with a blending brush. At £37 it's fairly pricey, but divided between the 12 shadows they cost £3 each, with the brush free.
As with all the Naked palettes, there are are only a few matte shades (Naked has two; Naked 2 and 3 have three). I don't usually go for shimmer, but these shimmer shades aren't super-spangly and don't look too over-the-top during the day.
I've had my eye on the other two naked palettes (Naked 2 has cooler-toned shades; Naked 3 has pinkier shades). I'm not sure which to go for next and I won't let myself near them any more because I know I'll buy them both!
Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Serum (£17 for 30ml)
I've seen this recommended loads and finally decided to give it a go this week. My skin's been feeling a bit rubbish this week - lacklustre and dull, and I'm fighting an invasion of spots on my chin. I've tried serums in the past and found I could only use them a few times before my skin felt irritated. This serum contains no alcohol, which is the primary irritant for my skin.10% of it is thermal spa water, which makes it really cooling and calming. It contains hyaluronic acid, a humectant which binds water to it, making skin look plumper and fresher. It does contain fragrance though, and I'm not hugely keen on its strong floral scent. I noticed a difference with this after only one use: my skin looked cushion-y, the acne scars on my forehead looked less bumpy, the lines around my eyes and mouth became less pronounced, and my skin looked less tired.
This has a very light, milky-gel consistency typical of serums. It sinks in very quickly and doesn't leave any stickiness behind, which is really useful when I'm in a rush. I apply this after cleansing and before moisturiser in the morning. At night I apply a little rosehip oil after the serum and before a thicker moisturiser.
If you're using serum and oil, use the serum first. I always think of it like oil painting - 'fat over lean'. You want the thinner, less oily products on first because they sink in easiest. If you put a thicker product on first the serum won't be able to penetrate it. (But your face is very unlikely to crack like an oil painting will.)
I like to think that the ravages of time haven't caught up to me yet and I do look like I'm 25 and a half. But I can see myself using this serum as I age. It could be described as an anti-aging product. I can't stand the phrase 'anti-aging' though - nothing can actually make you stop aging. There's an episode of Doctor Who where a man invents his own age-reversal machine - and he turns into a rampaging cannibalistic dragon monster. He should have bought some of this instead.
A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones (£17 on Amazon UK)
This is my most recent cookbook. I saw it recommended on either instagram or twitter by Sali Hughes, whose word I take as gospel on skincare and beauty. I got the Vichy serum after seeing her recommend it too. Being vegetarian I find it frustrating when cookbooks showcase meat and fish dishes and then tag on a vegetable section towards the end. There's only so many meat dishes that I can recreate with quorn or tofu. For me this book is an essential, and an absolute joy. Flicking through it never fails to get me excited about cooking and eating food. The recipes are really creative without being difficult to recreate, and the photography is beautiful. I love Anna's approach to eating. There's a focus on using nutritious ingredients, like nut butters and ground nuts in baking instead of butter and refined flour. Gluten-free and vegan ingredients are recommended, but this isn't a health food book; it's all about getting the best nutrition along with the best flavours from what you eat. I made the pan-dressed Asian noodles for dinner tonight using kale instead of the recipe's broccoli and cabbage and it was lovely, really flavoursome but incredibly easy to make.
Look at that fittie.
My favourite thing about it is the baking section. I always judge a cookbook by it's baking section and this one is incredible. I've made the muscovado chocolate chip cookies several times and could polish off a batch of them in one setting. I made the salted caramel crack brownies the other day, and they totally live up to their name. They were incredible, really gooey and gorgeous. (I assumed the 'crack' in the title means that they are addictive. I've never tried crack, nor do I ever intend to, but I highly doubt it's a nice as these are.)
These are gorgeous!