Ren Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum - The Primer That's Good For Your Skin

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There are some brands with which we're only semi-familiar. They seem to pop up on your radar time and time again, you hear lots of good things about them, but you haven't necessarily tried many of their products yourself. Ren is one such brand for me, so I was very happy to get the opportunity to explore it a little further recently when I was sent their new Perfect Canvas* Skin Finishing Serum to test. Designed to be applied after moisturiser and before makeup, it contains ingredients that protect and hydrate as well as creating a smooth base onto which foundation can be applied more easily. Essentially, it's a primer that's good for your skin.

First up, the packaging. I love the minimal white and black aesthetic and the handy pipette applicator. The 30ml bottle is quite weighty, which I guess you would expect when paying £50 - weighty packaging always gives a feeling of luxury. It isn't necessarily the most practical for traveling, but on the other hand, it's precisely the sort of product I'd forgo as a non-essential when jetting off somewhere for a couple of weeks, so that doesn't really bother me too much.

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According to Ren, the serum is lightweight, silicone free, and packed with probiotics to smooth the skin and enhance its structure by encouraging surface cell renewal. It also contains agave extract, which lends the complexion a matte finish onto which makeup should glide more easily, hyluronans to increase hydration and elasticity and a-Glucans to promote the growth of skin friendly bacteria and optimise skin health. You can add a couple of drops to your moisturiser or apply it separately afterwards.

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I really like the texture of this product. It feels a lot more like a serum than a primer to me and it absorbs very easily into my skin. It's pleasant to apply and my complexion definitely feels smoother afterwards. I haven't noticed any marked improvement in the way my makeup goes on when I'm wearing this as opposed to when I'm not, but I have noticed a big improvement in how long it lasts, especially when I'm wearing lighter foundations. Longevity is always something I want more of from my makeup so this alone is enough for Perfect Canvas to be a hit with me. Add to that the fact that it has obvious skincare benefits, refines my skin and doesn't irritate or clog it up, and we have a new favourite on our hands. It might be a little on the pricey side, but on the other hand, it's a serum and a primer in one, so you're getting plenty of value for money.

What's your favourite primer?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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AW17 Trend Focus - Red To Toe - How To Get The Look On The High Street

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I'll be really honest - I had some grand plans a few weeks ago that have kind of run out of steam now. Despite my dismay at the end of summer (did we even have a summer?!) I was also pretty excited by all the new season goodies arriving in the shops, and I decided to create a little blog series. My plan was that each post would focus on a different AW17 trend, and for each trend I would pull together some pieces currently available from a few of my favourite high street stores - a "get the look for less" type of deal.

But then, you know, life happened. Work got hectic. There was a family reunion, and a blogging event in London (a lovely breakfast at the Ivy Chelsea Garden with a skincare brand - definitely not complaining about that one!) And before I knew it, it was getting into the end of September and I hadn't even looked at my blog, never mind found time to start a new series. How does this even happen? And can we have an extra day in the week please? Or possibly two?

Anyway, I thought I would put together at least one post on one of this season's most eye catching trends - Red to Toe. And perhaps, if time allows, I might squeeze in another one or two. Preferably before next summer's trends start hitting the shops. (Insert "monkey with head in hands" emoji here.)

When it comes to fashion, red is a colour that seems to divide opinion. Some people love its warmth and vibrancy, others find it too loud and overbearing. I personally have always enjoyed wearing red, but I must admit that dressing head to toe in it feels a bit much, and while it looks great in editorials, I'm not sure it's something I want to replicate in real life! Nevertheless, the AW17 shows were full of these "red to toe" looks, in every shade from pillar box to burgundy, and the high street has certainly picked up on this, offering plenty of their own versions of this trend. Here are a few that have caught my eye.

Full On Red

For the seriously fashion forward. And brave.

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1. River Island and 2. Zara - Suiting is another huge trend this season, so wearing a full on red suit is definitely one way to score extra fashion points, if you are brave enough! River Island have opted for softer tailoring here, while Zara have gone for a slightly more muted burgundy shade. As much as I think this look is stunning when done well and a real attention grabber, it's just not something I'd ever have cause to wear. If you work in a smart office though, I say why not?! This surely has to be the ultimate in power dressing.

3. H&M - This is a more casual take on the full on red trend, and I love the juxtaposition of textures - the soft mohair of the jumper against the silky skirt. The model is even rocking red lips and nails too because, hello, RED TO TOE. I love everything here, and would wear it all, but would I wear it all together? Hm. I'm undecided.

4. H&M - Now this get up I would absolutely wear. Yes, even the boots, which surprises me because I am really not a fan of the kitten heel. However, paired with this dress, they just seem to work, and there's also something about the amount of leg on show that makes this outfit more wearable than the previous three. It's still all over red, and it still makes an impact, but in a softer way. This is one head to toe red look I could genuinely see myself wearing for events, dinners etc.
Break It Up

These looks still kind of qualify as full on red, but don't punch you in the face with it quite as hard, if you know what I mean.

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1. River Island - Confession - I think these boots are fabulous. I mean, pillar box red thigh high boots should be so wrong, but I absolutely love the statement these make. I also think they would probably be pretty hard to pull off in real life, but on the other hand, the introduction of the the black jumper dress tones them down and makes the red a lot more wearable. Basically, I am just dreaming about being polished enough to wear these boots without attracting the wrong kind of attention.

2. Zara - Isn't it amazing what a bit of print can do? For me, this is totally wearable, and the matching coat and boots pull the look together and elevate what could otherwise be a fairly ordinary printed dress. 

3. Zara - Print works its magic again. For anyone who finds block colour red unflattering against their skin tone, something like this could be a great way to work the trend, as it's so much softer and more forgiving.

4. River Island - Now here is a way to work the red suit that I could actually see working for me. There's a little bit of skin on show, and that paired with the black top and animal print shoes really helps to break up the vast expanse of red. I like the relaxed cut of the jacket and on trend frill details on the trousers too.

5. River Island - Realistically it's probably already too cold to wear this in the UK. However, I love how effortless it is. White, denim and red is definitely a winning combination.

Wear One Piece

Still too much red? It can also work beautifully as a single, statement piece.

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1. H&M - I love the fluted sleeves and subtle frills on this pretty blouse. Perfect for pepping up a pair of jeans.

2. River Island -  Automatically, I would think of putting jeans with this t-shirt and blazer combo, but the red trousers instantly add a more on trend twist to the outfit. A nice casual way to work the red look.

3. Topshop and 4. River Island - Here's two ways to rock a red skirt. The Topshop look is more laid-back and features an oh so trendy asymmetrical hem. The River Island version - my favourite - is all slinky and evening appropriate. Lovely for date night!

5. River Island - It seems there is no getting away from kitten heels this season, and I must admit, I love the way this red pair gives the monochrome outfit a bit of wow factor. If I still had an office job, I would definitely be wearing something like this for autumn and winter.

Accessorize

When in doubt, add a red accessory to a neutral outfit as a nod to the trend.

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1. Topshop and 5. Topshop - Red shoes and boots are everywhere at the moment. If you only want one pop of red in an outfit, footwear is definitely the most on trend way to do it. I personally love the idea of some red ankle boots to put a spin on my usual jeans, jumper and jacket combo.

2. Zara and 4. Topshop - A red handbag always makes a neutral outfit pop. This Zara version is more pink than red so I suppose I'm cheating a little bit with this one, but I love how cute it is, not to mention the Chloe vibes it has going on. The Topshop bag is gorgeous too and probably more useful!

3. Zara - Statement earrings are another big trend right now. I love the ones with all the fringing. These from Zara are absolutely stunning, especially paired with the clashing eye makeup. In theory, I love the idea of these for an evening out worn with a simple black dress. In reality, though, they are probably bigger than my head, but perhaps I will look for a toned down version!

What are your thoughts on AW17's red to toe trend? Will you be rocking a full on red suit this season, adding a splash here and there, or avoiding it altogether? I would love to know!

Kate x
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My Pamper Night Essentials

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We all love a good pamper night, and with the cooler months on the horizon now, I for one am looking forward to having a few more of them soon! There's nothing nicer than lighting a scented candle or two and running a hot bath after a cold and miserable day, and with that in mind, I thought that now would be the perfect time to share a few of my pamper night essentials with you.

Bath And Body

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For me, the highlight of any pamper night is a hot bath. I love to set up my laptop to play YouTube videos while I sink into the water and feel the stresses of the day start to melt away. Bubbles are an absolute must, and for this, my favourite products are without doubt the Lush Bubble Bars, in particular, The Comforter. It creates a huge amount of bubbles, so one bar will last you a minimum of four baths, it smells like fruit sweets, and it turns the bathwater pink. If that's not perfection, I don't know what is.

In addition to the bubbles, I also like to add a few drops of a really luxurious bath oil to help soften my skin. I'm a huge fan of Jo Malone Bath Oils, but at the moment I'm using this beautiful Restorative Bath Oil from Espa. I've had it in my stash for a while - I believe the packaging has changed now - so I thought it was high time I used it up! It contains a soothing blend of sweet orange, rose geranium and lavender to calm the senses, as well as palmarosa and sweet almond oil to tone and moisturise the skin. I also have the matching body oil, which I love to apply after I get out of the bath to make my skin extra supple. The added bonus with this is that you will get into bed smelling wonderful!

Hair

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Washing my hair can feel like a chore at times, but if I'm having a really full on pamper night, I'll do that first, then slather on a nourishing hair mask and wrap my hair up in a towel while I have my bath. The heat really helps the mask to sink into your hair and I always think you get the maximum benefits from it by doing it that way. At the moment I'm using the Garnier Ultimate Blends Sleek Restorer, which contains coconut oil and cocoa butter. It smells incredible and is very rich and moisturising - perfect for my bleached hair. One word of caution though - if you have fine hair like me, this isn't a mask you're going to want to apply to your roots. My bleached ends love it, but it's too rich for the roots and makes them look greasy, leaving me needing to wash my hair again. If you have thick and/or super dry hair, however, you will probably love this as an all over treat.

Skincare

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Pamper night is the perfect time for a little multi-masking action. I tend to start with a clay or charcoal mask to draw impurities out of my oily t-zone, and the Origins Clear Improvement mask is a tried and trusted favourite for this. Then, I like a hydrating or plumping mask, to help put that youthful look back into my complexion! I love these sheet masks from Indeed Labs, but there's something about the scent of roses that instantly makes me feel like a princess, so it's no surprise that the British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask from The Body Shop is one of my all time favourites. A refreshing, soft gel texture, this is infused with real rose petals and smells absolutely incredible - even now, when as you can see, I've almost finished the jar. It feels soothing to apply, and leaves my skin smooth, soft and looking brighter. This really is one of my most loved products and will definitely be repurchased as soon as it is finished.

Another little touch of luxury for my skin, also rose scented, is the Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist. Hydrating, soothing and refreshing, this is such a pleasure to spritz on at the end of a cleansing routine (before moisturising). I actually don't save this one for pamper night at all - I use it every day!

Eye Masks

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I'm obsessed with eye masks at the moment! In fact, I talked about a couple of my favourite kinds in this post, if you fancy checking that out. At the moment, I'm using these Pro-5 Collagen Hydrogel Eye Pads* from skinChemists. Designed to brighten, smooth, hydrate and firm the under eye area, they come in a box of five and are recommended for weekly use. You need to lie down while you wear these, because they'll fall off your face otherwise (or at least that's what I find), but that's not necessarily a bad thing - especially on a relaxing pamper night! SkinChemists recommend that you wear these for ten to fifteen minutes, but I've noticed my under eye area looking brighter and more refreshed after just five.

What are some of your pamper night essentials?

Kate x

*Gifted product. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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