Monday, 17 February 2014

Comparing beauty

With the arrival of the internet in virtually every home (and virtually on every phone too), consumers have become increasingly demanding as they realise the diversity of products available. Retailers have also stepped up to the plate, competing to offer the best prices and free gifts. This has also created problems for consumers: when buying online, how can you be sure that you're ordering from a genuine retailer and won't end up with a fake? How can you get the best price without wading through hundreds of web pages? And how can you know which products are right for you when shopping online, since you can't try before you buy?

the beauty biography page
Price comparison websites go some way to solving these problems, but they can't do it all. So, again, websites are needing to up their game in order to attract consumers. MyBeautyCompare is one of them, touting itself as the Match.com for beauty. It doesn't just want women to get the best price, but also to help modern, busy women find the right products for them.

New visitors to the site are invited to click on "find your beauty match", which is a button located on the web page's top left-hand corner. This leads newbies to complete the beauty biography, which asks questions about eye colour, hair type, skin concerns and more. This is quite detailed, although still quick to fill out. A few other important questions could also be asked without it taking too much more of users' time, such as body skin type or concerns (I have largely oily skin, for example, but suffer horribly with dry skin on my feet, meaning it doesn't make sense to treat my whole body as if it has the same skin type).

my recommended eye treatments
Once the beauty bio is complete, you are sent an email to activate your membership (which is free, but obligatory). Confusingly, once you have activated your membership, the "find your beauty match" button disappears. Your next step, therefore, is to select a product category in order to find your best product matches. This shows a few things: firstly, all of the products available to buy online, using MyBeautyCompare as an agent. You can narrow this down by selecting a further category on the left-hand side of the page (e.g., under 'cleansers', you can select a skin concern, such as hyperpigmentation). However, this does not mean that all of your work filling out the beauty bio at the beginning is in vain: at the top of the page are the four top products in that category, as recommended for your specific concerns. The price range of these four products is quite wide: for my skin type, for example, the four products ranged from Simple to Decleor (with prices starting at £3.80 and going as high as nearly £23). However, clicking on one of the products led to an error message, suggesting that some aspects of this site still need to be tweaked.

buy now!
When you do click on a product with a working page, though, the information is concise and has great potential, showing reviews, price comparisons (which shows the full cost of the item to you, including postage), and complementary products from the same brand as the product selected (NB not 'complimentary', as spelt on the website, which means something else entirely). While the range of retailers selling through the site perhaps need to be widened (I know for a fact that Dermalogica does not only sell through one website, for example), the whole set-up still strikes me as being very convenient: clicking the bright pink button that says 'Buy Now' takes you directly to the website offering you the price you're happiest with.

The range of products being offered is vast: there are more than 400 exfoliators (that's exfoliatOrs, not exfoliatErs, as MyBeautyCompare would have you believe!) on sale, for example. You can also narrow these numerous offerings down by price, as well as sorting them alphabetically, by ascending or descending cost, by popularity, or by those with the best reviews. There is also a completely separate category of the site for product reviews, which are written by site members, and which again are available in vast numbers and can be narrowed down by brand, key word, or even specific product. 

the homepage
This range of products can be accessed easily from the home page (or indeed any other) thanks to the chunky black toolbar at the top of the screen. The home page also offers direct links to best-selling brands (which vary from the most famous, such as Clinique, to the more niche, such as Matrix), links to latest forum posts and product reviews, and access to the site's blog, video tutorials, expert tips, offers, and treatments. These elements of the site also need to be made accessible from the main black toolbar so that users can reach them immediately from any page that they are on. Some of the homepage images appear to have been made cheaply, but other elements of the site are good: the blog in particular is clearly archived and categorised, and offers comments and hints on a range of topics of interest.

the slightly inactive forum
Finally, the site forum allows users to interact with each other on beauty-related topics. The forum seems well-organised, with members able to sort their queries by product type and category (for example, under the Hair section, there are fora for colour, styling and frizzy hair) as well as being able to chat off-topic in the Beauty Lounge. The fora in general are not highly-used currently, racking up only single-digit numbers of topics and replies in most cases. However, this will likely improve as the site racks up more users.

Any beauty addict would therefore do well to have this site bookmarked for the best hints, recommendations, and prices, so as to carry on staying on top of what's hot and where to buy it. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Glo Minerals Perfecting Powder

RRP: £27
--What does the promo say?--
"This truly translucent skin perfecting mineral powder absorbs excess oil to provide a matte finish. To eliminate shine year-round or simply control skin during the hot summer months, Perfecting Powder can be used as often as necessary over your foundation to give a shine-free finish. As with all glo minerals products Perfecting Powder is talc-free, non-comedogenic and fortified with our exclusive antioxidant blend."

--Packaging--
The press sample I was sent featured a clear plastic screw-top lid, whereas the one available for purchase online apparently has a black plastic flip-top. Difficult to see whether or not it has a mirror inside the lid, but if it did, that would be great.

--Application--
Apply after foundation and concealer, using a powder brush.

--Appearance--
I'd say that the 'perfecting' claim really does stand up; my skin looked a lot better after using this (compared to just using foundation and concealer). It really will finish your look off wonderfully. However, I wouldn't go as far as to say it's translucent and would even hazard that it's too pale for some (even though it works well for me). Plus, for the price it retails at, I'd expect it to be available in more than one shade, even if it does claim to be translucent.

--Scent--
None particularly. Newsflash: face powder smells of powder. Who knew?! (Well, slightly clay-like if you're going to force me.)
 
--Texture and consistency-- 
Light and not at all grainy. Blends well, without causing patches of powder to coagulate or collect anywhere on the face. 

--Effects on the skin--
As well as the visual 'perfecting' effect, this absorbs oil well as promised, leaving you without that greasy feeling. However, I wouldn't say this goes far enough to contribute to an overall improvement in skin condition over time.

--Value for money--
Given the choice, I'd go for Arbonne's pressed powder*, which is exactly the same price. While this gives a good visual effect overall, Arbonne's, to my mind, gives an even more radiant and long-lasting result (which is very valuable on a day when you have to leave for work at 7.20 in the morning and won't get in until 9pm thanks to parents' evening. EW.). 

*Just realised that for all my going on about this, I've never actually reviewed this. I have NO IDEA how that happened. Coming asap.

perfect partners
Powder Brush, £20
Camouflage Oil Free, £20
Under-eye Primer, £19.50 since reduced to £17.95! yay :)
Face Primer, £13
Protective Liquid Foundation Matte II, £30.50
Volumizing Mascara, £16
Cream Colour for Cheeks and Lips, £11.50

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Radical Age-Defying Exfoliating Pads

RRP: £45 for 60 pads
--What does the promo say?--
"Removing dull, dead skin becomes your first anti-aging gesture: its AHA and BHA-multifruit acid based pads, exfoliate, promote cell turnover, and accelerate Radical Skincare products performance. Reduce coarse crow’s feet by 50% in 2 weeks. Reduce pore size and even skin tone while significantly improving skin firmness, texture and elasticity."
--Packaging--

The pads arrive in a lovely shiny silver pot which feels good in the hands and looks good on the dressing table, as well as keeping the pads moist. However, if you like travelling light, you may find it a bit big or bulky. 

--Application--
Rub one pad over the face, neck and decolletage after cleansing. One pad easily does your entire face, neck and chest area, and what's more, as the pads are so moist, you could even cheat a bit and make one pad last two nights. Follow with moisturiser.

--Scent--
The lemon and tangerine scents shine through here, with the AHAs, witch hazel, aloe vera and salicylic acid giving a more medicinal feel. This combination ultimately creates a clean, cleansing smell.

--Texture and consistency--
The pads feel cool and refreshing on the skin. The exfoliant is chemical, rather than coming from bits of beach, so don't expect too much scrubbiness.

--Effects on the skin--
After cleansing your skin feels squeaky clean without feeling 'stripped', as with most deep cleans, meaning that moisturising is definitely the next step. Anti-ageing effects are of course better seen over time, but your skin will probably thank you loads in the years that follow. The presence of aloe vera, witch hazel, AHAs and salicylic acid - traditional acne fighters - also mean that those with problem skin are likely to see an improvement.

--Value for money-- 
This evening cleanse comes highly recommended for anti-agers and acne-fighters alike. While they're not cheap, you can expect a pot to last you two months at least (or four, if you eke one pad out over two nights).  It's even cheaper if you shop around: QVC has good discounts, for example. Definitely put this on your wishlist if you're off to the US, too. If you don't find anything better to suit you, though, it's not unaffordable at all for such a high-quality product. Radical Skincare, we salute you.

perfect partners
Hydrating Cleanser, £30
Peptide Infused Antioxidant Serum, £125
Anti-Ageing Restorative Moisture, £100
Eye Revive Crème, £80
Instant Revitalizing Masque, £40
Firming Neck and Decolleté Gel, £77
5-Piece Discovery Collection, £40¤
Radical Rescue, £120*

*contains a full-size cleanser plus 15ml sizes of two different serums and the anti-ageing restorative moisturiser 
¤contains 8ml samples of the youth infusion serum, hydrating cleanser and anti-ageing restorative moisturiser; a 5ml sample of the eye crème; and 15 exfoliating pads