Joyful Antidotes

Ramblings on life from a simple girl

Skincare Review: InstaNatural Eye Cream For Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles and Bags

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InstaNatural Eye Cream For Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles and Bags

Today’s review is a bit new for me as I normally stick to make up rather than skin care when writing singular product reviews, but the InstaNatural Eye Cream For Dark Circles, Puffiness, Wrinkles & Bags is one worth mentioning. Although this product was sent to me free of charge, everything stated below is 100% honest and of my own opinion.

I have really red, sensitive skin so therefore, the main ultimatum on whether I would recommend a product or not is if it agitates my skin. Yes, it does say that the gel is made using natural and organic ingredients, but one can never be too careful. When I apply the product to my eyes, it does tingle, and this was something I was worried about at first. However, after two steady weeks of use, and some application on the rest of my face, I can confirm that no breakouts were to be had. Hurrah! I find the best way to apply the gel is using the middle finger to apply it to the area around the eye – this is the weakest finger and won’t pull on the skin. Just remember, with this gel, a little goes a long way!

So, what does it claim to do? Firstly, the package states that it diminished dark circles and puffiness. I don’t have dark circles around my eyes so I cannot comment there, but I did find that the product did help with puffiness. I began using the eye gel right after a busy trip to London which definitely resulted in puffy eyes. I feel that the application of the gel gave almost instant relief, and after a couple of days, my eyes appeared back to normal, even if I was still very tired. InstaNatural also states that it hydrates, firms and plumps skin. I honestly can’t say that it firmed or plumped my skin (my skin feels great but there is no massive difference in appearance), but it certainly helped with hydration as it dealt with pesky dry eyelids in just a few days.

What else is good? The packaging is really good in my opinion – the pump application allows you to carefully manage how much product you want to use, and allows prevents the spread of bacteria into the product. The consistency of the gel is good and doesn’t sit too heavy on the eyes. However, it does dry a bit hard which does feel slightly uncomfortable. Therefore, I would recommend giving it a minute or two to dry before applying any other product.

Overall, I can honestly say that I liked this product. This is coming from somebody who has no major opinion about eye gels or creams, and who has never liked one enough to actually use it as long as InstaNatural. It works good on sensitive skin, is light weight and actually does what it claims in regard to puffiness. If somebody with wrinkles has used the gel for that purpose, I would love to know how they found it.

A Day Out in Camden Town

Every time I visit London, I try to see a bit more of the vast city, and two weeks ago I spent a day hanging out in Camden Town. I am a massive market fan so this was right up my street, from the quirky stalls to the delicious food stands. I made an attempt to document my day in photos as best I could, and I hope that they emphasis what a great place Camden is. Possibly not, but take my word for it, it is certainly worth the time and effort to make the journey there.

Breakfast

Being an early bird can sometimes be a pain, especially when you turn up somewhere at 9:15 am and nowhere opens until 10 am. No fear! There are plenty of little coffee shops around for a hot drink and a quick bite to eat. I had a vegetarian sausage sandwich and a glass of orange juice at Inhabitation Coffee Shop.

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Breakfast at Inhabitation Coffee Shop.

Shopping at Camden Market

There are so many stalls and shops to look at around Camden, visitors to the area should be sure to have a few hours free to look around. Camden is not the place for high street shopping (although there are a few familiar shops on the surrounding streets), but a place to find alternative clothing, funky art and some knick knacks that cannot be found elsewhere. The buildings in which the stalls themselves are placed in are also pretty impressive as many of them are part of old stables. To see what I picked up at Camden, click here. Unfortunately, at least for the sake of this post, many stall owners do not allow photographs, but here is a small selection of what is on offer.

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Eating at Camden 

Of course, the food was the best thing about Camden Market. There were so many mouth-watering dishes to try, but not enough room in my belly to fit everything I wanted. I eventually chose  jerk veggie bean patty from Mama’s Jerk Station which I have been thinking about ever since. A cheeky bottle of Camden Hells Lager washed everything down.

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My tasty jerk veggie bean patty wrap – complete with salad, plaintain and mango mayonnaise!

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Have you visited Camden Town before? Is there anything you can recommend for my next trip there?

London/Birthday Haul!

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to find myself back in London visiting family. I was also lucky enough to be there during my birthday, which gave me further fuel to go shopping. I expected to return to Berlin with my pockets completely hanging, but the poor exchange rate soon put a stop to that. However, I did pick up some things that were an absolute ‘must’. I was also gifted some lovely items, which I have included below. Thanks to everybody for the thoughtful gifts, and for the effort made in making my birthday weekend a great one, as always.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Metallic Nail Varnish, Wake Me Up Foundation and Concealer in ‘True Ivory’

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MUA Pro-Brow Ultimate Eyebrow Kit in ‘Fair-Mid’

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Batiste Dry Shampoo ‘Floral and Fruity Blush’

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Simple Kind To Skin Purifying Cleansing Lotion, Kind To Skin + Protecting Moisture Cream and Kind To Skin Micellar Cleansing Water

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Real Techniques ‘Your Eyes Enhanced’ Starter Set

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Floppy Hat from Primark

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Bowler Hat from Camden Market

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Retro Sunglasses from Camden Market

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Minion Underwear Set from Primark

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Stripe Lace Skater Dress from Topshop

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Harry Potter ‘Hogwarts’ and ‘I’m A Muggle’ T-Shirts from Primark

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Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy’ by Helen Fielding and ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ by J.K. Rowling

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Absolutely Fabulous’ Box Set

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Quick and Easy Recipe: Cheese Sauce

I just made this cheese sauce recipe for the first time this morning and it turned out so well that I couldn’t wait to write up a blog post about it. As you might be aware from some of my previous posts, I am a big fan of recipes which are quick, easy and use very few ingredients. This cheese sauce recipe is one such example and is made with ingredients that you most likely have lying around at home.

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk (3.5%)

2 slices of cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, etc. (optional)

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Take the cup of milk and the flour and whisk them together in a pot. The milk can be substituted for a low-fat option but I like to use a fuller milk as past experiences have shown me that skimmed milk can lead to a more watery consistency. Heat the mixture on a medium heat just until it begins to boil. At this point, the mixture will have thickened so it is wise to remove it from the heat before it begins to burn. Grate the cheese and stir it into the mixture to melt. If you wish to include them, the salt, pepper, etc. should also be added at this stage. Pour and serve!

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I ate this for lunch over some pasta and garden peas and it was absolutely delicious (I brought it to work so please forgive the lunch box shot rather than it laid out nicely in a bowl. . It had the richness of a cheese sauce but not the heaviness which can leave you feeling sleeping after eating. Next time I think I will prepare this with some broccoli and other vegetables to help get some more vitamins into me!

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Why I Admire….Kylie Minogue

It has been quite some time since I have written an ‘Why I Admire….’ post. I guess there was nobody who really stood out for me since I wrote my post on Taylor Swift. However, a trip down memory lane to the upbeat music of Kylie Minogue reminded me just how much admiration I have for her. Whether you like her music or not is a minor detail. Kylie is a good role model and an influential woman. Let me tell you why.

She is a survivor. While some people may have forgotten about this dark time in her life, Kylie fought and won breast cancer following her diagnosis back in 2015. One can only imagine how awful it must have been for her to have this chapter of her life spread across newspapers, but she handled the situation with dignity and class and maintained a positive attitude throughout.

She has a great personality. It is rare to come across a celebrity who has enjoyed such a long and successful career as Kylie, but has managed to remain down to earth. I find her really endearing to watch when interviewed due to her sweet and wholesome attitude. Living a clean life is nothing to be ashamed of and I am glad there is a public figure out there who projects this.

She is career driven and ambitious. Again, Kylie is enjoying a very long and successful career, something which can be almost considered rare in an age where many become famous for doing nothing in particular. This is not easy and I think one of the main reasons why Kylie’s success has continued is her ability to reinvent herself and be relevant in the present day. This type of attitude I consider to be an inspiration no matter what type of career you are embarking on.

She is very talented. While her voice cannot be ranked with the likes of Mariah and Whitney, she is a very talented performer in her own right. Not only has she transformed her image numerous times, she has also adjusted her music style to fit into a number of different genres which is an example of true talent.

She shows that one can be famous and have a private life. This can be brought back again to the fact that Kylie is one classy lady. It is often considered that as a celebrity it is almost impossible to keep your business out of the tabloids. However, as far as my brain can recall, we never read any scandalous news about Kylie, going to show that one can keep personal matters private. Such a conscious effort to do so is something I feel should be taken on board in all our lives to combat this strong urge to overshare on social media.

What do you think of Kylie Minogue? Do you like her? Or do you have another role model?

3 Pieces of Advice When Starting a Gym Programme

During the last year or so, I have become more and more interested in health and fitness. From time to time, I like to post recipes of the relatively healthy meals I cook here on Joyful Antidotes. However, I have steered away from anything exercise related. My main reason for this was the fact that I am definitely not fitness guru. I didn’t feel qualified enough to be sharing such posts when I am only just beginning to see the slightest hint of a fitter body myself.

While reminiscing over the last couple of weeks, I began to think about how I felt about exercise before I joined a gym. I admired these dedicated fitness people on Instagram, but thought to myself there is no way I can do what they do. I used to think: ‘I don’t have the dedication nor the willpower, and the exercises they are doing are much too complicated and advanced for me’. Even when writing my post about why I joined a gym, I still wasn’t convinced I could actually make physical improvements and find a routine suitable for me. But I did and I want to share my fitness journey.

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Photo via FlickrCC.

Surely, I am not the only person out there to have thought like I did. Most likely, there are some eager but cautious people out there who feel like the gym may be a waste of time for them. I thought that maybe the story of an average gym-going so-and-so such as I may encourage others to bite the bullet and embark on their own fitness routine. So, I have decided to start posting more insights into what I do to ensure my physical well-being. From time to time, I will post what I am currently doing exercise wise, anything I have learned which may worthwhile to others, and the different exercise options I have come across during my journey.

Phew, that was a very long-winded opening. Let’s consider it exercise for the fingers. Now, let’s get on with things. Here are my top 3 pieces of advice when starting a gym programme.

Only join a gym when you are good and ready. Gyms can be pretty expensive, depending on where you are located. Therefore, you really don’t want to pump a good chunk of your money into somewhere you might be lucky to step foot into just 5 times during the year. There are other ways to exercise, with plenty being free of charge, if you are not ready to commit yourself to the gym. Also, if you do make yourself to go simply because you feel you are wasting money, you may develop a negative relationship with exercise by forcefully visiting a place you really don’t want to be.

Build yourself up slowly. This ties in with setting up specific, manageable goals. You don’t have to attend the gym 6 days a week starting from the very first month of your membership. Neither do you have to spend 60 minutes on the treadmill at super speed or lift the heaviest weights each time you go. Start at a level you are most comfortable with and work yourself up from there. A good idea is to speak with one of the trainers and explain exactly what you are looking for from your gym sessions. They are the best qualified people to provide a programme most likely to work for you.

Try a few different things to find out what is most suitable for you. My current gym routine is a lot different to the one I had when I first joined Superfit back in September 2014. There were a lot of bumps on the way to find the machines/classes I needed that would help me reach my goal. For instance, most of my earlier workouts were confined to the gym floor, but now I get the workouts I need from the classes offered as I find they are most effective in working out the muscle groups I want.

Are you thinking about joining a gym or have you already a steadfast routine set in place? I would like to read your thoughts in the comments below.

My Travel Bucket List

New York

New York is probably the first place I began developing a true urge to visit. This longing began back when I was about 10/11, but unfortunately these last 15 years have brought me no closer to the Big Apple. At one stage, I thought that I could actually live in New York, but now I don’t think I could keep up with the hustle and bustle of the place. Instead, I will be content with 10 days visiting some of the world’s most famous attractions, as well as some serious shopping of course.

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Times Square. Hopefully when I visit New York I will have time to catch a show. Photo via FlickrCC.

Florence

Ever since I went to Rome 6 years ago, I have been in love with all things Italian. While I do want to return and explore more of Rome someday, I also want to see a lot more of Italy. I spend a lot of time writing about Florence in work which has ultimately led me to dreaming a lot about Florence, both in and out of work. Hopefully, sometime in the next 2 years, I can actually physically climb to the top of Florence Cathedral, eat pasta at Piazza della Signoria and cross Ponte Vecchio to discover another part of this wonderful city.

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Piazza della Signoria. Photo via FlickrCC.

Madrid

Madrid is the place I am most determined to go this year. Initially, my biggest push was to see a very good friend of mine and her family. However, the more I learn about the city, the more I am drawn to it as a tourist. Madrid has so much culture to offer that I would probably need to live here for a year to truly experience it. In the meantime, I will be satisfied with a few days soaking up the sun in Retiro Park.

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Retiro Park. Phot via FlickrCC.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a recent addition to my travel bucket list, but is somewhere which has become more and more interesting to me over the last year. If I can somehow wrangle a cheap weekend break there this summer, I most definitely want to take part in one of the ghost tours, even though I know I will be scared senseless. Edinburgh Castle also really appeals to me and is somewhere I would just have to see. If I was lucky to have more than a long weekend to space, I would also like to travel the Scottish Highlands following a history filled few days in the capital.

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Edinburgh Castle. Photo via FlickrCC.

Krakow/Warsaw

After working with some very nice Polish people a couple of years ago, I always had an urge to go to Poland. I felt like they knew so much about my culture and country, and I knew almost nothing about theirs and this somehow bothered me. Ever since then Poland has been on my bucket list. I have been able to visit some little villages on the German border of Poland, but I would really like to visit a bigger city. Considering I still have not learned too much about the country, it would be a truly fascinating and educational trip.

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Warsaw. Photo via FlickrCC.

What places are on your travel bucket list? Have you been to any I have mentioned? I would love to hear your tips.

My First Empties Post

It is finally time to start running with the cool cats by publishing my very first empties post. The only problem is that I am not so cool and don’t have a whole pile of glamorous beauty bits to show you. However, what I do include is affordable and practical and I hope that you might gain something beneficial from this post. Here we go!

First up is the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. I bought this hefty bottle 9 months ago for approximately €3 in Primark and after nearly daily use, it is only now coming to an end. I included this product a few months ago in a post which listed my recommended skin care products for red, sensitive skin and I still stand by my choice. True to its word, it is excellent for removing make-up, including eye and lip products, easily and without causing too much aggravation to the skin. It also does not dry out the skin. This will definitely be on my repurchase list.

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Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

This is not my first bottle of the Rival de Loop Clean & Clear Ölhaltiger Augen Make-Up Entferner (eye make-up remover for any non-German speakers out there) I have purchased. Quite simply, it is an effective and cheap (under €3) way of removing even the most stubborn eye make up. A little goes a long way with this product and a bottle will last up to two months even with everyday use.

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Rival de Loop Clean & Clear Ölhaltiger Augen Make-Up Entferner

Another product which I buy religiously is the Rexona/Sure Roll On Deodorant. With no other deodorant have I experienced such great protection. Quite a weird product to include in a beauty empties post, I know. If you would like to know more about the deodorant, you can read the full review here.

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Rexona/Sure Roll On Deodorant

From the age of 15 right until last year, I had bright blond hair, using hair dye of course. I loved my hair colour at the time but it did cause one problem – brassiness. Yellow tones and brassiness are negative aspects of having blond hair and are not easily fixed other than putting a hell of a lot of bleach into you hair. However, there are products which can help, including the Swiss-O-Par Silver Shampoo.

Purple shampoo works simply because purple sits opposite yellow on the colour wheel. So, when these basic colours mix, brassy tones can be eliminated. While it does make a significant difference, don’t count on purple shampoo to completely eliminate brassy tones. You will however, gain brighter hair. I wouldn’t buy this product again, or at least currently, as I have toned down my hair colour.

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Swiss-O-Par Silver Shampoo

My final product is the Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation which I have just started using since last Christmas. As you may know if you have being reading Joyful Antidotes for some time, I was a massive advocate of the Clinique Repairwear Foundation. However, over the last year, I began to fall out of love with it and needed a change. I was afraid that the Wake Me Up Foundation would not cover my red skin tone but I was pleasantly surprised. While it did not give me as heavy coverage as the Repairwear, it is quite enough to allow me to leave the house feeling confident. It is easy to apply and has a lightweight finish which often makes me forget I am even wearing foundation. It also leaves a dewy, healthy finish which has resulted in a lot of compliments stating how fresh I look. Score. I will definitely be restocking this foundation when in London this month.

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Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation

What products have you been using a lot lately? Any that I have mentioned above?

Top Dishes Pescatarians Coming to Ireland Must Try

Unfortunately, Ireland is not too vegetarian/pescatarian friendly. There are some suitable dishes available, but none which are very deep-rooted in traditional Irish cuisine. A standard Irish meal usually consists of meat and two types of vegetables. Visit an old Irish family for dinner when in the country and you will still be served such a meal in lieu of ‘exotic’ fare such as spaghetti carbonara or a Thai red curry. However, meat free dishes are becoming more popular and a selection of vegetarian establishments have been popping up all over the country. This makes it much easier as a pescatarian to eat out, which is something I like to do a lot when on holidays. Nevertheless, the dishes that I do eat are not necessarily traditional. As I know that many tourists like to embrace the culture of wherever it is they are visiting as much as possible, I thought I would put together a short list of Irish dishes as equally as delicious as any containing meat. This way, any vegetarians/pescatarians to the Emerald Isle can say they sampled traditional Irish cuisine without restricting themselves to several pints of Guinness.

Potato and pea pies – Pescatarians need not fear when visiting a local chip shop – some mouth-watering, meat free options are also available. Potato pies and mushy pea pies are two of my favourite things to eat while at home, although I think they are two delicacies local to Cork. Basically, they are mashed potato, onion and thyme (and sometimes cheese) covered in batter and deep-fried, or a portion of mushy peas battered and prepared the same way. I drool just thinking about them.

Colcannon - This is probably more of a side dish but eat as much of it as me and it can become a fully fledged main. Colcannon is basically mashed potato with kale or cabbage, although other ingredients can be added. An alternative to colcannon is a hearty plate of fried leftover cabbage and potatoes, which is also a staple of the Irish household.

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Colcannon. Photo via FlickrCC.

Salmon – There are enough salmon rivers which run through Ireland to make it near impossible for the country not to produce some mouth-watering dishes based on that intelligent ol’ fish (if you haven’t caught the reference, read all about The Salmon of Knowledge here). More traditionally, salmon dishes are offered fried, baked or poached. However, the inclusion of salmon in pasta and other more international recipes are becoming more popular. To have the ultimate ‘salmon experience’ in Ireland, choose your supplier careful as many award-winning producers and restaurateurs can be found throughout the country.

Cod – Cod is another great dish for pescatrians to enjoy while in Ireland. I most enjoy cod served battered with side portions of chunky chips and mushy peas. This is an especially tasty dish when purchased from a restaurant or chip shop located by the sea. Sadly, quality cod is becoming a much rarer concept these days due to a problem in supply, but haddock can be a nice alternative. Another tasty way to eat cod is smoked and served with boiled potatoes and a white sauce.

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Fish and chips. Photo via FlickrCC.

Soda bread – I wanted to say that soda bread is unique to Ireland but my research has confirmed that it was not invented by the Irish at all. However, as it is a delicacy most associated with Ireland, I will cheekily make the claim that you will not be able to sample any such bread in another country. I guess what does make it unique is that it is made using. The “soft wheat” which is the only suitable flour that can grow in Ireland’s climate. I miss this bread a lot when I am not at home at like to make it myself from time to time. I prepare it using this recipe and like to dip it in some delicious red lentil soup (check out my recipe here). Just don’t forget to mark the cross on the bread as legend says it allows the devil to exit the bread and is good luck when cooking.

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Irish soda bread. Photo via FlickrCC.

The Full Irish – The Full Irish breakfast can still be enjoyed as a vegatarian/pescatrian by simply substituting the meat products for extra beans, eggs, hash browns, soda bread, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, or even a veggie sausage. It is equally as tasty and filling as the pork filled plates of others.

Have you visited Ireland before? What was your favourite thing to eat there?

Make Up Review: ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot

Over the last few months, I have ventured into new territory – gel eyeliner. I am a lifelong fan of the good ol’ kohl eyeliner simply because, at least for me, it is the easiest to apply. However, I have recently been trying to shake up my make up collection and look a bit, and I found myself loving more and more the finished effect of gel eyeliner on others. These reasons, along with my reborn obsession of all things Rimmel, brought me to the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot.

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So, what is the eyeliner supposed to do? According to Boots, where I purchased the product for a modest €8.99, it provides:

“Up to 24hrs of rich, intense colour that doesn’t flake, smudge, smear or run. Waterproof formula. Professional brush for complete control to draw the lines you want”.

Did I experience the same effects? Well, for a start, I haven’t worn the eyeliner on for a 24-hour period so I cannot comment there. However, I have worn it for approximately 12 hours and can confirm that it does not flake, smear, smudge or run. It also does have an intense colour application (see examples below), something I have experienced with very few kohl eyeliners. It is not hard to gain such an effect either and I found that one or two applications was enough for a strong, bold line. Additionally, only a small amount of product is needed, which means that such a small pot will probably last for quite some time. The brush provided is also quite good although I would recommend using a better quality one.

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As much as I love the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot, I haven’t been without my problems. I found the product to dry up more than expected. As time goes on, I have found myself having to dig deeper into the pot for creamier product. Also, by the time I go to apply my mascara, it will not go on properly due to eyeliner particles stuck on my eyelashes. However, I am aware that this could be due more to my clumsy application rather than the product itself.

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All in all, I am a big fan of the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot and it is likely that I will purchase it again, this time making sure I look after the pot properly to see if I still have issues with it drying up.

What do you think of the ScandalEyes Waterproof Gel Eyeliner Pot? Are there any other gel eyeliners you would recommend?

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