Beauty Without Fuss

Sunday 31 July 2016

Real Techniques Ultimate Base Kit - Limited Edition

I do love a Real Techniques face brush, or three (or four...).  For my money, there aren't many brands that make better brushes for base products, and their blush brushes are magnificent!  That said, I do not love their eye brushes at all - in fact, I've not met one of their eye brushes that I've used more than once before giving it up as a bad job, mainly down to their tendency to always be just that little bit too big and bendy for the job at hand, but that aside, Real Techniques are definitely hard to beat for a brush for practically any other purpose.  Their Ultimate Base Kit was therefore irresistible when the press release popped into my inbox recently.

Just released as a limited edition, the Ultimate Base Set contains an Expert Face Brush, which is the domed brush on the left there, which is perfect for blending and buffing foundaitons and other base products.  I have one from another kit, and it also makes a good blusher brush for any powder blushes you might have that are a little underpigmented.  Next to that is the Miracle Complexion Sponge - does anyone else not quite get how you're supposed to use these?   I prefer to wear as little foundation as I can possibly get away with these days, and I only really seem to see people wearing inch-thick bases using these for blending purposes.  Or do I not get it simply because I am just Really Old these days?

And finally there is a brand new and exclusive Deluxe Concealer Brush.  A bit wider than I would have expected for a concealer brush, this is actually great for buffing in under eye concealer, having nicely rounded bristles which are good for blending over larger areas (like around the nose) and being able to blend your concealer seamlessly into your foundation.  Not quite so great for spot-concealing things like thread veins (or even spots, come to that) where you'll need a brush that allows accuracy rather than diffusion.

It comes packaged with a cute white mirrored wallet, which you're meant to use to carry the kit around in, but it has two main problems; the first is that none of the elastic slots will allow the base of the Expert Base Brush through, and the second of which is how do you get a sponge into a flat wallet?  That said, it is a cute wallet with a good-size mirror, and if you stick to your smaller Real Techniques brushes, it'll be really handy for carrying those around with you.

For £20.99 at Superdrug right now, the Real Techniques Ultimate Base Kit is worth buying mostly for just the two brushes, and I'd treat the sponge (unless you love base sponges more than I do!) and wallet as freebies.

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Friday 29 July 2016

Triple Dry Fresh Anti-Perspirant

I'm largely recovered from my parosmia now, which is a huge relief.  However, one of the few "joys" of a life-changing smell disorder was that not only couldn't I smell myself, I couldn't smell anyone else either, which made travelling on the tube during hot weather a more pleasant place for me than it did for ... "normal" smellers!  Ironically, even though I'm almost entirely recovered, I still can't smell mysel.  Or you.  Or that git on the tube who apparently hasn't washed his pits for the last three months.

Anyhoo, I've written about Triple Dry before, and I'm still a big fan, but I just noticed the roll-on version a couple of weeks ago, and I think I actually prefer it to the stick version that I reviewed previously.  The stick version is unscented, which was a huge requirement for me at the time, but the Fresh version is nice for just giving a gentle hint of "nice smell" to my pits (which I can actually detect, so know I've applied, if/when I do a smell-check) but still has the great protection benefits.  Essentially, you could (potentially) apply this just every three days, after a week of night-time applications and it would still keep you both dry and fresh even without daily applications!  I still use mine daily, but I don't worry so much now if I realise I've forgotten a day when I get to the office now.

For someone with parosmia-paranoia, Triple Dry is a lifesaver.  Even for someone who can smell normally it's still a damn good antiperspirant - my pits have stayed dry and fresh even in the current stupidly hot-spell, and for that, I am hugely grateful. And might you be if you came across me on the tube recently ...

 At £6.45 for 50mls at Boots, I'm not going to deny that it's on the pricey side for a deodorant/anti perspirant product, but for the security and peace of mind it gives, it's worth every single penny.

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Thursday 28 July 2016

Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Multi-Benefit Shampoo, Conditioner and Masque

Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Multibenefit Shampoo, Conditioner and Masque Get Lippie 20160724

This review is so overdue that it's a little embarrassing! However, since the Shea Moisture Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Multi-Benefit range arrived, it's definitely become a staple, and I've got through backups of everything pictured here.  It's a great range.

Long cult products in the US, I think there were lots of us UK beauty bloggers who were super-excited to see  Shea Moisture finally make it over here, I know I certainly was!  Now, around a year since they appeared in Boots stores, they've become a staple on many bathroom shelves - they were the first thing I unpacked when I moved house recently, that I do know.  Paraben-, mineral oil-, sulfate- and silicone-free, the Superfruit Complex range is perfect for needy hair that gets a bit lank when too-rich products are used.

I have wavy, coloured and porous hair.  Initially, I thought the Superfruit Complex products were going to be too light to have much of an effect on my hard to manage hair, but I was wrong.  Whilst the products are light in texture, they really do pack a conditioning punch, and my hair loves this stuff.  I alternate between using the conditioner and the masque usually (bear in mind I only wash my hair 1-2 a week usually, so it's a weekly masque treatment), but my hair is left soft and smooth and easy to style no matter what I've done to it in the days preceding, or what styling I subject it to afterwards, either, it makes my barnet lovely and shiny.  Not overly-fragranced, there's just a gentle sweet smell that fades quickly, so it won't clash with any other fragranced products you'll use afterwards.   

Once I run out of the latest batch, I think I'm going to try the Raw Shea and Cupuacu Frizz Defense range, as the combination of this and my Silke London hair wrap means my hair requirements are changing.

I'm defnitely a convert, and at £10.99 a product, it's definitely cheaper than my other shampoo range of choice, more of which anon ...

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Wednesday 27 July 2016

Jasper Conran Nude Woman

Jasper Conran Nude Woman Fragrance Bottle - Get Lippie 20160724

 Jasper Conran Nude Woman, the latest fragrance from the Jasper Conran range, is housed in a beautifully detailed bottle.  Hefty, but delicate, the carved column fills the hand nicely, and feels wonderfully tactile when you're spraying it.  It's supposed to evoke "contemporary femininity", and I think it delivers that nicely.

The juice inside the bottle is surprisingly enjoyable too.  A white floral that manages to be both crisp and soft, it's a very nice wear.  Starting with rather gentle notes of grapefruit and bergamot that add a hesperidic air without being too overpoweringly citrussy, the fragrance soon settles into white flower heaven, with notes of gardenia and magnolia mixed with orange blossom.  It's a little powdery at this stage, and without the slightly funky-mushroom edge you can get with a true magnolia note, but the addition of orris (iris) is probably the one that is responsible for rounding out any potential soapy-screechiness, and adding a little lady-like polish to the formula.  The basenotes are a very skin-like musk with some bleached white woods beneath.

It's not the most original fragrance I've ever come across, but it is very wearable, and I like it much much more than I expected to.  Currently available at both Debenhams and Boots for £20 for a 40ml bottle and £30 for 100ml, it's a prettily ladylike bargain.

 The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Tuesday 26 July 2016

Silke London - Isla Silk Hair Wrap

 My hair has a mind of its own.  It's fine - but there is a hell of a lot of it - and it is by turns frizzy, wavy, flat in parts and curly in others, occasionally all of them at once, but the thing it most likes to be is ENORMOUS. I am always looking for ways to keep it under control.  Since it developed the mysterious habit of trying to choke Mr Lippie in his sleep, I decided that Something Must Be Done, and investigated the role of hair wraps for night-time.

I've known for a while that sleeping on a silk pillowcase has helped my hair be smoother, less frizzy and easier to control, but I was disappointed when looking for silk wraps that most wraps you can buy are actually man-made fibre.  Excellent for keep hair in place, perhaps, but not what I was looking for on the defrizzing front.  Then a friend posted a link on Facebook that mentioned Silke London hair wraps and I was intrigued.  They looked beautiful!  Gorgeous jewel-coloured silk turbans (to be honest, the thought of actually "wrapping" my hair was making me nervous, I'm a cack-handed muppet at the best of times), easy to wear, and stunning items in their own right.

Yeah, this isn't me.  I look more like Hilda Ogden in mine
The hardest part was choosing which colour I wanted. The Dita is purple and red; The Eva is black; The Sofia is ivory; and the Poppy is hot pink and orange.  Eventually I settled on the Isla (pictured), which is green and blue, and bought myself one as a birthday present.  It is gorgeously presented in it's tiny colour-co-ordinated box, and folded beautifully, it'd make a perfect gift.

The Silke London website promises that the use of their hair wrap will help your hair in the following ways:

  1. Repair, protect and prevent hair breakage and damage
  2. Maintain your style for longer
  3. Save time spent restyling
  4. Balance oily roots and dry ends
  5. Wash your hair less
  6. Reduce hair loss and boost hair growth
  7. Eliminate frizz and flyaways
  8. Naturally condition hair
  9. Dramatically enhance your hair’s appearance
 Now, whilst I am cursed with uncontrollable hair, I'm also incredibly lazy, so anything that promises to reduce styling time and leaves you able to wash your hair less, well, I'm IN, so yes. I was champing at the bit slightly when it arrived.

Having used the Silke Hair Wrap for a good few weeks now, I can say that it definitely delivers on most of those promises, actually.  It's very easy for me to see that my hair is less frizzy after a few weeks wear, and I have to use less styling product now.  Before, I'd be using three pumps of Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum just to get my hair out of the bathroom once it had been washed, and my hair would just drink the stuff, then beg for some styling cream for afters.  Now it's just one pump, if that, and no styling cream (unless I'm going to use a heated appliance after), and it's less coarse-feeling in the mornings.

But the major difference I've seen is less breakage, it's amazing.  With the house move and everything this year, it's been a while since I've been able to see my hair dresser, and normally if I'd leave it three months between visits, the bottom three inches of my hair would be feeling like straw (the ends of my hair are subtly bleached, I've been having balayage for years now), but this time around, even after so long, my hair was only slightly damaged at the ends, and far less prone to breaking off when I run my fingers through it.  I couldn't be happier with the results. 

Even if I do look like a massive plonker wearing it, and my husband has developed an irritating habit of humming "... you can leave your hat on..." when entering the bedroom as a result.  The problem is that whilst I undoubtedly have a shedload of hair, it's mounted on my tiny, tiny pinhead, and sometimes the turban spins round a bit when I move my head.  Or slips over my eyes.  But all you lovely people with normal-sized bonces won't have these issues.  The wrap is soft, and the elastic is loose, so you won't get band marks around your face when you remove it.  It's comfortable to wear (though it can get a little warm on these really hot summer evenings, bear in mind).

So yes, £45 well spent, I think, especially on a cost-per-wear basis.  I just wish I'd bought the black one instead ...

The Fine Print: Purchase.
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Monday 25 July 2016

Diptyque Eau de Sens

To say I'm a bit obsessed with orange blossom at the moment would be a mild understatement, so you might want to bear that in mind as you read this - basically, if it promises to smell of orange blossom, I'm bound to at least like it a lot.  And if it delivers, as Diptyque's Eau de Sens does (in spades), then it's a full-blown affair of the heart.

Right, on with the review "proper"* (allegedly).  Diptyque Eau de Sens is not quite a soliflore orange blossom, as the orange blossom here is backed up with notes of juniper berries (and some of you will know I'm a gin drinker, right?), patchouli and angelica.  According to the press release, it promises to deliver the full smell of an orange tree in blossom, right down to the roots.

There's a gloriously diaphanous waft of spicy orange on first spray, the juniper berries giving just a little not-quite-soapy zing to the citrussy concoction, before it settles to a woody-green aspect of orange blossom. This middle section is hugely reminiscent of petitgrain smelling, as it does, of both flowers and stems, with just a hint of something woodier beneath.  The dry-down is a light and rather clean patchouli - there's no dirt in this fragrance at all - and it's all perfectly simple and incredibly linear.  Eau de Sens is both uncomplicated and unsweet, but rather beautiful all the same.

The notes actually make it sound like it'll be a rather dark and hard to wear fragrance, but Eau de Sens is actually surprisingly light and sheer (you'll want multiple sprays, and regular ones, at that), and rather playful in wear.  It's an easy-going scent, perfectly attuned to wearing with jeans and a crisp white shirt, though I've worn it to all sorts of occasions since my bottle turned up, including to parliament, as it's so perfectly at home everywhere.  I've worn it so much that my bottle is now nearly empty - I can't remember the last time I emptied a perfume bottle so quickly!  A shame really, as this bottle has been engraved!

I want my entire house to smell of orange blossom now, I love this so much.  Diptyque Eau de Sens is on sale now, and a 50ml bottle will cost £60, and 100ml is £80.

 * To be honest, I've written so little this year, I've kind of lost the ability to think about anything in any kind of "proper" critical fashion, really.  Sorry.  Not sorry.  Turns out I like not blogging almost as much as I like blogging.  WOE!

The Fine Print: PR samples

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Sunday 24 July 2016

How to fight chafing and blisters in the heat with Bodyglide

This is a public service announcement. 

Every year at this time my twitter and facebook feeds are full of my otherwise lovely lady friends showing off pictures of their blisters (seriously, STOP THAT) from their pretty summer sandals, and worrying about chafing (or chub-rub) in ... intimate ... places, and on every single post, I place this link:  I first wrote it five years ago, having discovered it five years before that, and I'm still recommending it to everyone at every single opportunity.

If you have feet, get a tube of this.  If you have thighs get a tube of this.  If you have skin, GET A TUBE OF THIS, and apply it generously.  I can't even remember the last time I had a foot blister (and this stuff is a godsend for breaking new shoes in, by the way), and even though my thighs meet all the way down (screw you, "thigh gap", FFS), I haven't had chafing ever on the days I've remembered to apply this - I do occasionally forget, but never twice in a row, believe you me.  I buy a new tube every single spring, and hopefully, now you will too - forget those tiny tubes of "anti-blister sticks" you can find in Boots, this tube is a whopping 42gms  compared to the usual 5gms in those packs, and this will last you an entire year of generous applications, if not longer.

Mine came from Amazon this year, and cost around a tenner.  But you can also get it from specialised sports websites like Wiggle.  Buy some, apply it generously wherever chafing might occur, and enjoy your new-found hot weather freedom. 

You're welcome. 

The Fine Print: THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST, I'm just tired of seeing blisters everywhere.  And I'm squeamish.

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Friday 15 July 2016

L'Oreal Steampod Brazil Fantasy Edition

I live in a little sport-free bubble, and I love it very much, but I'm sheltered to the extent that when a bunch of Brazil-themed beauty products started arriving recently, I was a little confused.  Then they launched Brazil-themed M&Ms, and my thought process went: "Hey there official food of athletes around the world! Man, is it the Olympics already? Aren't they in South America this time? Rio! Brazil! D'oh!" And lo, a mystery was solved.  Now, if only I could solve the mystery of where my reading glasses keep disappearing to, my life would be complete.

All of which is rather roundabout way of pointing out that I'm not always the sharpest tool in the box. But that shouldn't put you off this rather marvellous version of the Brazil-themed Steampod that I fell in love with way back in November last year.  Covered in tropical flora and fauna, and in a crazy-pretty box, I love these.

I'll be honest, the Steampod has taken over from any and all other straighteners of choice. My hair just seems to love the extra level of straightening that it gets from the hit of steam, and even though there's definitely a learning curve involved with these  that you don't have with traditional straighteners, it's really worth getting to grips with them if you have slightly  ... recalcitrant ... hair.

The L'Oreal Steampod Brazil Fantasy Edition is available from Look Fantastic and costs around £145. The creams and serums you'll need to make the system really worthwhile are available there too, and cost extra (sadly - but I have backups of all of them, you'll have to prise these from my cold, dead hands, frankly), but they last a long, long time.
The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Wednesday 13 July 2016

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Launch

Urban Decay Vice lipsticks in Pandemonium, Firebird, Naked and Conspiracy.
l-r Pandemonium (mega matte), Firebird (cream), Naked (cream) and Conspiracy (metallised)
Urban Decay have finally launched their full range of Vice lipsticks in the UK, and they're really lovely.  With 100 shades in six finishes (sheer, metallised, cream, comfort matte, mega matte and shimmer), there's truly something for everyone.  I think the Gwen Stefani collection was really a taster for the new Vice finishes, so I'm not going to review them in depth here, but I thought I'd show you a couple of pictures of the lipsticks, and tell you that they're magnificent.  I have Pandemonium, a grape purple in the mega matte formulation, Firebird, which is a cream fuchsia (and a repromote of the same shade from the aforementioned Gwen Stefani collection), then there is also Naked which is a pale pinky-grey mauve and Conspiracy, a metallic coffee bean shade which will never, ever, ever grace my lips.  Ever.  Beautiful on the right person (like, my mum for example), but I have no desire to wear it personally, but doesn't it look gorgeous in the bullet?

Urban Decay Vice lipsticks in Pandemonium, Firebird, Naked and Conspiracy.
l-r Pandemonium, Firebird, Naked, Conspiracy
There is figuratively nothing that makes my heart sing more than the sight of an untouched bullet of lipstick, and these are sooooooo photogenic.  Look, I have neither pets nor children, and only one sickly houseplant to take pictures of, so leave me my little indulgences, please.

I don't have swatches, because they're too pretty to mar, frankly, but here's a pic of me wearing the original version of Firebird taken back in February,  the lasting power on the cream formulation is marvellous, by the way,  and whilst not billed as a particularly long-lasting formula, I find they last at least 6-8 hours without reapplying, even if you eat whilst wearing:

Get Lippie Urban Decay Vice lipsick in Firebird swatch
Leave me alone, it was 6am on the Eurostar.
So there you go.  Not my most in-depth review perhaps (unless "pretty things are really pretty" is your bag, admittedly), but, by gum, they're pretty.

Urban Decay Vice lipsticks cost £15 each and are available now from the usual stockists. 

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Monday 11 July 2016

Serozinc, how much do I love thee?

A whole heap, is how much.  Not so much a review, this piece, really (I've already reviewed Serozinc here) just mentioning in passing that Escentual (by far my favourite place to buy French skincare  products in the UK) has these cute mini-cans of Serozinc in stock now, and they cost only £3 per can!  Escentual is currently hosting its annual French Pharmacy event, and they'd normally cost £4.50 each.

And they're cute!  Did I mention they're cute?  I bought a shedload of them, they're everywhere!  This isn't even all of them, Serozinc is one of my desert island products ... 

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Sunday 10 July 2016

Finishing Touches: LipsNspritz of the Week 8th July 2016

It's been a mixed bag, fragrance-wise this week.  It's ostensibly summer, but I can't imagine anything less summery than this dark and dank July we're having so far!  Like with the weather, my perfume choices have been a bit all over the place, too.

Monday brought Tangerine Vert from Miller Harris, a herbal-fresh and zingy citrus that was perfect for blasting away those dreadful Monday morning blues!  This and Hermes Eau d'Orange Vert are very similar mood-lifters for me, both feature, I think, a little hit of mint amongst the orange and other leafy green herbs, and it's bother awakening and refreshing, and just that little bit "different" to a normal lemony-citrus as a result.  I wore Tangerine Vert with Charlotte Tilbury Walk of Shame lipstick, which is a great brown-ish neutral that teeters on that 1990's-style rust, but just avoids it.

Tuesday was Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initiale, and byTerry Cherry Cherry lipstick (stupid name, great pink).  I was in Paris for the launch of Parfum Initiale a couple of years ago, and so it will always have a special place in my heart - I love the velvety iris and smooth vanilla, it's also surprisingly rich and earthy (almost  ... carroty!) for what was intended at the time to be a teenage girl's way into the world of Shalimar.  It's very different to many ostensibly "teenage" fragrances, not smelling of sugar and fruit, which is why I think it has been discontinued, and why that increasingly Le Petite Cherie Robe Noire, with it's cherries and black tea, and hints of chocolate has taken over as the flagship Guerlain fragrance.  Don't get me wrong, LPCRN is good, but it's just not as interesting (to me) as Parfum Initiale is.  Was.  Whatever.

Wednesday found me in Estee Lauder Alliage.  I love Alliage, as perfect an example of the pinnacle of seventies chypres as can be, it is both bitter green and blinding white, with galbanum and moss and crystalline white flowers, you could wear a tweed jacket and starched white shirt with this and it would be perfect.  I own neither, and wore it with black jersey (my default) and still managed to feel like a grownup all day.  I do think Lauder neglect their amazing back catalogue rather horribly in favour of their newer releases a great deal - does the world really need four versions of Modern Muse above some of the genuine classics in the Lauder catalogue?  Does Kendall Jenner read Descartes in the original? - but the fact that their classics are still available, and largely untouched, and accessibly priced is a great, great thing.  Go try some of them.  Also only of my favourite reasonably priced brands is Pixi, and this lipstick in Raspberry Blush is amazingly good and pretty.

Thursday was Vaara by Penhaligons.  I love Vaara.  It's a fruity-floral, normally a category I eschew, but it is interesting and original, redolent of quinces and a hint of saffron, over a bed of coriander (the seed,  not the leaf) and is beautiful and gorgeous and wonderfully radiant. I love wearing it.  It also has one of the prettiest boxes Penhaligons have ever done.  The lipstick was Givenchy Le Rouge in Carmin Escarpin, which is the lipstick I wore in Paris on my honeymoon, that's how much I love it.

On Friday, I wore Marrakesh Intense by Aesop.  This blend of rose, black pepper and cardomom is both spiky and powdery and wonderfully evocative, it makes me a little woozy in the best possible way when I wear it.  I do have to confess that I have a sneaking preference for the original Marrakesh formula, which punches up both the spiky black pepper, and the plush cardamom over the silky rose, but this is still magnificent, and has better lasting power overall.  The lipstick was Punch Pop by Clinique, which is one of my all-time favourite pink lipsticks.

Saturday was a lazy day in front of the TV, frankly, so I wore things that didn't take much thinking about: Bagatelle de Gabrielle by Omorovicza, which is a gently pretty, rather prim, little white floral based on, but not overwhelmed by orange blossom.  It's rather a "spa" kind of scent.  Pretty, but slightly unmemorable.  I paired it with Aerin Rose lip balm. To be honest, I'm left slightly cold by the whole Aerin Lauder cosmetics "concept" (though, I admit I do love her homewares - someone needs to bring them to the UK STAT!), it's all a bit wishy-washy "makeup for people who don't really like makeup" for me, but the perfumes are nice in a Jo Malone-ish kind-of-a-way, and this particular balm is very much a winner.

What've you been wearing this week?

The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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Skincare of the Week 8th July 2016

Yeah, it's been a while ... Turns out I like not blogging almost as much as I do actual blogging, who knew?!  Anyway, for today at least, I'm back slaving away at a keyboard. I would have been back last week, but stuff happened, and I'm still wearing the bandage on the middle finger of my left hand, let's put it that way.

Anyhoo, skincare.  This week was mainly about trialling the new Burts Bees Cleansing Oil (literally just released in the UK, and costs £16.99 a bottle from their website).  I like it a lot, but I'm a bit upset it's a fragranced oil, I can't see any reason why it needs to be.  It's a light, smooth oil that spreads over the skin nicely, and removes makeup thoroughly but gently.  The label indicates its for dryer skins than mine, but my sensitive combination-oily skin tolerates it nicely.  It doesn't quite emulsify when you come to rinse, just becomes a bit looser, and it easily wipes off with a warm flannel.  I like it.  

Everything else I've been using this week is an old (or an almost-old) favourite, I'm still mostly in love with Tata Harper skincare, and I'm nearing the end of this  bottle of the Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum, and I totally intend to finish it off. I recently finished my much-beloved bottle of Zelens Intense Defence Serum, which has left a gaping hole in my routine, to be honest, I'm still casting about to find the perfect replacement, the Tata is good, and does what it is supposed to, but I just don't love it as much as the Zelens for some reason.  It does work really well with the Rebuilding moisturiser though.

How has your week in skincare been?

 The Fine Print: PR samples and purchases

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