Thursday, July 18, 2013

Escentual.Com 20% Off Summer Sale: My Picks & Recs has always been one of my favourite online retailers for cosmetics and fragrances and they are currently having their summer sale (ends July 26th), with 20% off across the website. Knowing how hard it is to decide on what to get when confronted with so many lovely options, here are some of my product recommendations, tried, tested and approved by yours truly:

I'm not going to lie: it has taken me long enough to decide which products are making this list, because not only does Escentual stock some really great brands, but being the beauty addict that I am, I confess I have quite a long list of favourite items, from skincare to makeup and fragrance. So get comfortable and ready to do a lot of scrolling down :)

Skincare & makeup:

Clarins makes great skincare products and the sensitive skin range has been a staple for me for years now (for reference, my skin is dry and/or dehydrated, sensitive and, depending on season, it can get better or it can get worse. Winters can get harsh and cold where I live, which for me means dry and sensitive skin. Summers are hot which means dehydrated, dry and sensitive skin)

Clarins Skin Beauty Repair Concentrate is a great serum for whenever you struggle with damaged, sensitive skin. I apply at nighttime under my usual moisturizer/night cream and come morning, I wake up with soft skin, no irritations, no redness.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, a longtime cult beauty product, works both as base for your makeup and as intensive treatment which will give your skin a healthy, radiant boost. If you deal with dehydrated skin, then the Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil is worth a shot, it has worked really well for me and I am down to only a few drops in my bottle.

I love Clarins Double Serum which you have probably heard of by now, it has been getting great reviews and deservedly so. Apply at nighttime, gently pat it on your face (no need to rub) and let it work its little miracle self.

Also recommended from Clarins: the Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch, a great primer that will minimize pores and smooth out fine lines, Instant Light Perfector, which you can use by itself or mix with your foundation for an illuminating effect, Multi-Active Day Early Wrinkle Correction Cream  to moisturize and protect against pollution and the HydraQuench Cream for dry skin.

From Nuxe, I can recommend the Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil Spray for face, body and hair, a multifunctional product that soothes, hydrates and nourishes. 

Dry shampoo is another product that has exploded onto the beauty scene and I have used the Oatmilk Gentle Dry Shampoo from Klorane with good results. 

Caudalie's Beauty Elixir is great, especially during summer. It's refreshing, gentle and invigorating, always a good one to keep in your handbag.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water. Oh how I love thee. I have been using this cleanser for 2 years now and I am forever in love with it: it minimizes redness dramatically, it is extremely gentle and yet, it takes off all my makeup, including most of my waterproof mascaras and eyeliners. Fantastic product.

Moving on to another French Pharmacy brand, Vichy has recently launched the Idealia line, and I have already tried and loved the Idealia BB Cream (a more in depth review for this product will come soon, as well as for other BB Creams) and the Idealia Smoothing and Illuminating Cream for dry skin (there is also a version for Normal to Combination skin).

Thermal water sprays are a must for me during summer. They are soothing and refreshing in the city heat and always come in handy when traveling. I have tried Avene's, Vichy's and La Roche Posay's thermal water sprays and liked all of them, but prefer La Roche Posay for some reason, my skin likes this one the best.

If you love BB creams and don't need much coverage, Too Faced Beauty Balm is a good choice if you have dry, dull skin and you like a dewy, luminous finish. I would not recommend this one for oily skin, as it has a lot of slip and shine.

As far as other BB Creams go, I absolutely love and recommend Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream, which offers light to medium coverage, has a beautiful satin finish and it is very gentle to my dry, sensitive skin. It might seem a bit thick when you squeeze it out of the tube, but don't let that fool you. It blends like a dream, a little goes a long way and it doesn't settle into pores or fine lines. The only problem I would say is that it tends to run a little bit darker than other Clarins foundations, for instance I would normally wear a medium, but for this BB Cream, I prefer the Light version. I can wear both, but the Medium works better for me during summer, while the Light one is an all year round product.

If you love bronzing powders, you'll know that one of the best brands in the business is Guerlain. Their famous Terracotta bronzers will get you hooked on this type of product. I am a convert. While you're at it, make sure to check the Terracotta Summer Bronzing Powders and the 4 Seasons Bronzing Powders.

Another thing that Guerlain excels at are lipsticks. If you want to treat yourself, their Rouge G lipsticks are as luxe as they come. The Rouge Automatique is also very nice, with great colours and pigmentation. You can't really go wrong with either one.

Sticking with Guerlain: for eyeshadow lovers the Ecran 4 Couleurs quads are not to be missed, whereas the Lingerie de Peau foundation is one of the best on the market as far as light, luminous, second skin/natural finish foundations go.

For nails, I can recommend Dior's nail polishes, but one of my very favorite Dior products is probably the Addict Extreme lipstick. I do like the original Addict line too, but I love the Addict Extreme ones much better. They are creamy, pigmented and won't dry your lips out.

Another nice lipstick, currently on sale at Escentual is Too Faced La Creme. A wide range of colours available, can't beat that. Since we're talking lip products, Clarins Gloss Prodige line of lip glosses (reformulated and relaunched about 2 years ago) is a great choice. These glosses are not sticky or drying and in case you are wondering, they have a fruity smell and taste.

I highly recommend Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector, I absolutely love them! They are a cross between a lip gloss and a lip balm, smell/taste like vanilla and are extremely gentle to dry/sensitive lips.

If you're on the market for an eyeshadow palette, Too Faced offers nice options, like the Natural Eye, Romantic Eye or the Naked Eye palette. Clarins makes good eyeliner pencils, both waterproof and non-waterproof versions. They are soft, pigmented and don't tug.

Escentual now stocks the always coveted Real Techniques brushes, and there's a wide variety to choose from, depending on your needs. Great value for money.


You can't really go wrong with a modern classic such as Narciso Rodriguez For Her. I personally prefer the Eau de Toilette version (black bottle, pink box), which is a bit softer, more musky and less floral, as opposed to the Eau de Parfum; this one has a more floral scent to it (more rose-y I would say). What's the muskiest of them all? :) The Musc Oil Parfum.

If your heart is still set on summery fragrances, my picks are Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia (not to worry, it's not as floral as it sounds, nor is it hard on gardenia). It's so very yummy, light and perfect for summer nights (and days, why not?), I have been addicted to it ever since it first launched. My next choice is See by Chloe, a mix of apple blossom and light florals (but not flowery), plus look at the cute bottle!

Another classic choice for a fresh, summery scent that can be worn all year round as well is Burberry The Beat, one of the brand's best sellers (the other one is coming right below).

Elie Saab's incredibly popular Eau de Parfum has been slowly but surely climbing all the way up to modern classic status. Lovely composition, I would say this is a floral scent for people who don't necessarily like floral scents, simply based on my personal experience with it. It's probably the most floral scent I own and it was love at first sniff. I admit I was surprised to like it as much, because it's not what I usually go for. My detailed review is here, in case you need to know more.

Dolce & Gabbana's recently reformulated, repackaged and relaunched Pour Femme Eau de Parfum  is pretty much everything I wore February through April, while we still had cool temperatures. It's very Italian, it's sexy and sweet, intense and so Dolce & Gabbana.

Autumn is just around the corner, so why not have a look at some of my favourite ones to wear in cold weather? Burberry Brit for Women (yep, that's another one of Burberry's best-selling scents) has been a longtime love, I cannot remember ever having been without it. Even though I have a large collection of fragrances, because I like variety and because...well, I am a perfume addict, somehow this one has always stayed with me. The Eau de Parfum version (my personal preference) is sweet, almondy goodness; it somehow perfectly manages to be both sexy and comforting depending on where/when you wear it. If you want it lighter, then the Eau de Toilette might be for you (less almond, more citrus, lighter overall, more suitable for warmer weather).

Lalique's Le Parfum is somewhat in the same sweet, powdery, almondy vibe, definitely a winter scent, as it is rather 'dense', but beautiful nonetheless. And who can resist that bottle?

Thierry Mugler made a great decision when he decided it was time to launch the Eau de Toilette version of the brand's iconic Angel fragrance. I got a bottle as soon as it was released and reviewed it, should you want to read more on it.

Jimmy Choo Eau de Parfum (my detailed review here) is another big seller in the last couple of years or so and something tells me it will stay that way, as it has gained a loyal army of fans. The matching body products - shower gel and body lotion - are on sale too :)

Another popular and yummy choice is Prada Candy, or Prada Candy L'Eau if you prefer a lighter version. I personally enjoy both. The original Eau de Parfum (full review here) is sweeter and more benzoin/caramel-based, whereas L'Eau is lighter, with a more noticeable citrus note in the opening. But overall, there's really not that much difference between them in smell, it's more about the intensity.

A classy comfort scent that also comes in a sleek, beautiful bottle is Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Orchidee Vanille. This is so lovely and yummy, I can't even put it into words. It is a treat and we all deserve a treat every now and then, right? :)

For something even sweeter and more intense check out Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille. This is a rich smokey, woody vanilla, an unusual scent recommended for winter time. The holiday season is not THAT far away now :) Also from Serge Lutens, the unique combination of woods, fruits and spices, heavy on cedar and plum, that is the cult favourite Feminite du Bois.

One of the most original fragrances for women that Gucci ever released is Gucci Rush. To this day (14 years later) you will have a hard time finding anything else that smells exactly like it. Gucci Rush is almost impossible to describe. I can sit here for hours trying to put this scent into words and in this case, words just won't do. It's strong, it's bold, it's definitely a statement fragrance because Tom Ford is all about that (Gucci Rush was released while Tom Ford was Gucci's creative director). It's a blend of peach, florals and patchouli, it comes in a non-conventional red box that will always find a place in my fragrance drawer.

You can't really go wrong with YSL's original version of Cinema Eau de Parfum. There have been many variations on this fragrance, but none of them truly quite matched the original. This is one of those scents that check all the boxes, depending on when/where you wear it: it can be an elegant choice for a night out, it can be a comfort scent, it's yummy, it's classy, it's unique.

I have a few recommendations for gentlemen as well :) Armani's eternal best-selling Acqua di Gio  is a nice choice for the lovers of fresh, aquatic scents.

Two male fragrances that I love to pieces and they will never go out of style are: Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male (the hugely successful original version is my choice) and Burberry Brit for MenBoth are masculine, an incredible mix of classic and modern, sensual and confident.

Honorable mentions go to Guerlain L'Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, Dior's classic Fahrenheit and Thierry Mugler A*Men, if you prefer something sweeter.

I should probably end this post here, otherwise I'm going to go on and on and on...Make sure to check Escentual's Facebook and Twitter pages, they are a lovely team of people who will help you out with any product information you need. Escentual is located in the UK, ships internationally.

I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above. This post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own. I am very thorough with my product recommendations and will always only recommend items that I think are worth your time and money. I have tried/used/smelled all of these products, some of them have been my staples for months, even years. Please do keep in mind that personal taste in fragrances is always a factor to consider and as far as skincare and makeup go, it's all about individual chemistry and skin type. At the end of the day it's a matter of trial and error, but I truly hope that my recommendations will be helpful to those of you who have the same skin type as myself or struggle with the same issues or simply have similar taste. Enjoy your hauls! :) x


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