Monday, 31 March 2014

The all-matte palette

I have a thing for neutral eye palettes... and I'd be willing to bet a pretty hefty penny that I'm not the only one. Pretty, compact, convenient and just altogether lust-invoking. I'm almost positive it would take me at least a year or more to use up a single one let alone *ahem* the countless palettes making their home in my stash. But, the palette I'm bringing you today stands apart from all the rest for at least a few reasons.


I find most palettes have their upsides and downsides. Given at one stage I had 5-6 full 15-pan MAC palettes, I don't think curating shades for a compact palette is easy business - someone is always going to be left missing a go-to shade or feel that the options are too limited/conservative/over-the-top, etc. A complaint I often have is that in trying to include a range of pretty lid shades, highlights, etc. the range of good mattes in different tones always gets glossed over. At a minimum I use a mid-tone matte every single day to blend out my crease, and I'd prefer to have more than 1 option for this (the Urban Decay Naked palette contains 2 mattes out of 12 shadows).

Enter the Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral 02 Palette, first introduced to me by Michele on youtube. A 12-pan totally-matte palette with pretty much every matte shade you would need. Covering the full spectrum from cream/white to black and every warm and cool toned shade in between - sand/peach/taupe/a few different browns/grey etc etc. This palette is the perfect supplement to all of those palettes lacking a decent matte presence. The shadows are a bit soft in the pan meaning they create a little bit of a powdery mess of the packaging (some are worse than others), but the shades are highly pigmented, smooth, apply evenly, blend well, and do not fall out on the eyes. The quality is as good or better than any of the matte shadows I've tried from higher-end brands. My eye look in my Makeup Menu #2 was made using exclusively this palette.

I've been using this every single day since purchasing it, and have created a few all-matte eye looks which I've actually really liked. Not my typical look but there is something very clean and flattering about an all-matte eye and it lends itself to a bit more experimentation with cheeks/lips. The packaging reflects the price but it is compact and basic. At $19.99 this palette is a total steal and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who can get their hands on it. Unfortunately this is easier said than done unless you live in or are visiting the states (I got mine at Target).

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Review: NARS Matte Multiple

The NARS Matte Multiple is a new release and a modern update to it's shimmery sister. Keep reading to see how I think it stacks up.



The Matte Multiple line comprises three contour/bronze shades and four colour shades. Within the lineup Laos in many ways appears to be a 'safe' choice but something about this rosy-coral really called out to me. It's natural and subtle but vibrant at the same time. It's a shade that can be worn very sheer or built up a little bit to bring some spring colour to the face without looking *too* crazy (Siam on the other hand, while a gorgeous shade, is definitely a 'go vibrant or go home' pick - If I were to invest in another this would probably be it!).

I tend not to be a big lover of cream formulas on my cheeks in general - I often find them to either look too dewy (read: greasy), feel tacky on the skin, pose problems with layering other (powder) products or to slip/slide/fade rather too quickly. The cream blushes I do love all tend to be cream-to-powder formulas. The original multiples I would say adhere to this - they are emollient enough to apply and blend but the formula itself is not particularly dewy on the face - the highlight comes from shimmer not from texture. The matte multiples have the same upsides in a gorgeous matte formulation (obv). They are wonderful.

You could apply this straight from the stick but I prefer to use a clean finger to avoid disrupting my base. Once the pigment is roughly placed I use something like my Real Techniques Buffing Brush to dab until blended. I find application utterly effortless. The formula applies matte and stays matte (hurrah!), it blends extremely easily (none of this race against the clock before it dries patchy business) and it lasts all day looking fresh. To see it in action check out my Makeup Menu #2.

My verdict? NARS really killed it with this release and I would highly recommend you check these out. My guess is it won't be too long before I buy Laos a friend.

Friday, 28 March 2014

3 must-have metallics

Three jaw-dropping metallics at a budget-friendly price. That's what I'm talking about.

(Single swipe, natural light) L-R: Amber Rush, Bronzed Taupe, Bottomless Java
I've been a fan of the L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hr Eyeshadows since they launched a few years ago. The formula is fantastic - a velvety smooth, intensely pigmented, very metallic, pressed pigment. The formula is indistinguishable from the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Intense eyeshadows (of which I have many) for a fraction of the cost (score). I've owned 2 of these in the past and gave them away in my recent makeup cleanse, more because I wasn't a fan of the colours than because of anything else. So, I took the liberty to pick up 3 US-exclusive shades that are absolutely stunning and that I think you need to include on your American beauty wishlist.

Amber Rush - A mid-tone warm bronze champagne, just enough pink to not go orangey.
Bronzed Taupe - A cool-toned taupe with a patina/bronze finish, just like the name says.
Bottomless Java - A rich red-toned dark brown with bronze and gold shimmer.

These shadows are super high quality, blend easily, and surprisingly, do not experience fall out. I find I get a slightly more subtle look if patted or swiped on with a MAC 239, and the look tends to be more metallic when applied with fingers. These could easily comprise a sweep-and-go single-shadow look if that's your thang, but I also like blending out the crease with a matte shade and it's simple and gorgeous. I've been wearing these constantly since picking them up and over a base they last all day with no fading or creasing. I would wholeheartedly recommend this formula, and these shades in particular if you happen to be in the States.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

US drugstore haulage #2

I promise the excessive number of hauls will subside soon-ish, but I couldn't help but share this very carefully chosen selection of US-exclusive drugstore bits. The palette and the Wet Brush were the primary instigators for my trip to Target, and as I was browsing I came across a few more bits that I had in the back of my mind from raves by the likes of Estee, Anna and Lily.


OK - Let's start with the star of the show, the Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral 02 eye palette. I've been lusting after this baby ever since Michele reviewed this on her channel. It is an all-matte eye palette with 12 shades ranging from light-medium-smokey and warm-cool. It can be easily worn on it's own for a matte neutral eye, and it's the perfect palette to supplement all those others that tend towards the shimmery side. From first look it seems to have every shade I'd consider essential for my ideal matte palette of this kind. Full review and swatches coming up once I've had some more time to play around with this one, but I've already tried it out once and was very impressed. I snagged the last one in the store - it was a sign.

Next up is The Wet Brush which I mentioned I was tempted to try in my battle of the detangling hair brushes post. I'll probably update my thoughts after I try this out properly but from first impression the bristles seem thinner and a lot more flexible than the Tangle Teezer Aqua Splash which is also aimed at wet/damp hair. I've only heard good things about this so I'm excited to see how it compares.

The L'Oreal Infallible 24Hr shadows are not new to me but I've always found the colour range a bit limited. So, I took the opportunity to pick up 3 US-exclusive shades - Amber Rush, Bronzed Taupe and Bottomless Java which are more true to my neutral tastes. If you're a fan of a metallic eye these are as good as it gets.

Finally, the NYX Butter Glosses in shades in Strawberry Parfait and Tiramisu. A bit of a strange pick for me because I'm really not a lipgloss girl. I've gotten rid of probably 90% of all the lipglosses I've ever owned. These are meant to have a lovely, non-sticky formula so we'll see how I get on. I'm thinking as the weather warms up and a top-knot excludes the hair in the lipgloss possibility, I may warm up to these.

I'd typically ask for your picks and recommendations but I'm pretty sure my wallet is officially closed for business.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Healthy-scalp hero

Another entry in my search for the ideal healthy-scalp, growth-stimulating, volumizing hair routine. A girl can dream, right? It turns out you may not have to with Philip B. Peppermint & Avocado Volumizing & Clarifying Shampoo.


I came across this shampoo on Cult Beauty and soon after heard Ameila from Liana Beauty rave about it. Now, she has magazine-worthy long and gorgeous waves with what only looks like a very full head of hair. So, any claims of volumizing I was rightfully weary of. But, I was curious (read: desperate) enough to see how I might get on.

This shampoo is pretty bloody brilliant. Miracles? Maybe not quite. But, it does exactly what it says on the bottle. This shampoo has a heavy dose of peppermint which really works to stimulate the scalp - a very invigorating and refreshing minty tingle that works a treat for stimulating hair growth. It feels very cooling which also makes it feel like it's really working, and it doubles as a morning pick-me-up. It is clarifying too, which keeps the scalp clear of follicle blocking build-up - a strict no-no if you're worried about hair thinning. The avocado ensures it is not stripping, and I've actually been using this every time I wash my hair (every other day) and it's been totally fine moisture-wise. If your hair is on the drier side I'd recommend this as more of a weekly deep clean. My hair has been more voluminous and less flat/dull/lifeless since using this which in my book makes it a clear winner.

The downside? It is very low foaming which is not a problem in itself (probably better) but it does make it difficult to distribute the product through the whole scalp. So, application feels a bit laborious, though once it's on, as I said, it feels freaking fab. The consequence is that this is running out at an alarming rate. At 25 pounds this is not a moot point, but for now it's the best healthy-scalp shampoo I've found.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Makeup menu #2

I've been hauling quite a few bits since landing in NY so a night out with my girlfriends from school was the perfect setting to test out some of my new loot. Base, eyes, lips and cheeks were uncharacteristically all totally matte with only a really subtle highlight on my cheekbones. I really like how it turned out and I think it has inspired me to go for a more matte look more often. Here's what I used...


Base & Cheeks:

I tried out my new Marc Jacobs Marvelous Mousse Tranformative Foundation for the first time and my initial impression was extremely positive. The product was very buildable without going thick or cakey and had a surprisingly natural finish. I'll do a full review once I wear it a few more times and can give more formed opinions, but I'm pegging it as a winner. For concealer I used Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque under my eyes, and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla over top and on any spots. For cheeks I used my new NARS Matte Multiple in Laos. I dabbed on with fingers and blended with my Real Techniques Buffing Brush. I absolutely loved this product. It was a dream to apply and looked stunning. I will certainly be picking up a few more of these little gems. Finally, I used the Dim Light Ambient Lighting Powder in the Hourglass trio to lightly powder my T-Zone, and combined the 2 right most shades to highlight my cheekbones.

Eyes & Brows:

I primed my eyes with MAC Paint Pot in Painterly, and used my new Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral 02 palette to create an all-matte eye. In the photo above, I used the cream shade in the top left corner on the inner half of my lid, the peachy middle shade on the outer half, blended the taupe through my crease, the bottom right dark brown in the outer V and used the white to highlight my brow bone. The result was a defined but well-blended matte eye which is not something I typically wear but I really liked it. For liner I used Urban Decay 24/7 Liner in Demolition on my upper and lower lash lines. A bold slick of Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Mascara had my lashes sorted. For brows I used my new Anastasia Dip Brow with Brush #12- I thought I had picked up Dark Brown but the label on the pot said Auburn. I would have typically gone for a cooler-toned brown but I think it was an ok match on. I really liked this product but a word of advice is that less is more and a light hand is absolutely necessary! Anastasia Clear Brow Gel, and eyes done.

Lips:

Despite being the most bold colour product here I totally forgot to photograph my lip product because it was still in my bag from last night! It's Revlon's new Matte Balm in the colour Striking and I love it! It wins on colour, texture and ease. I'd highly recommend these. The colour range is pretty fab for Spring/Summer, too.

I've got to say that the new beauty buys that I've tried so far all seem to be wins. I'll see how I get on a bunch more times and update with my more thorough thoughts but dare I say I can see a few potential favourites already. Good news for my weeping wallet. Great products make it all worth it.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Sephora haul

If you saw my Sephora Want List this haul will come as no surprise. There are still a few sets tickling my fancy but I thought I'd go ahead and update you on the bits I simply couldn't resist.


So here's what I picked up:
The only thing I picked up not on my original list was this new Sephora Formula X polish in Rush - a Brown/Bronze with gold shimmer and an admittedly odd choice. After getting this home I thought it may very well look hideous but in the moment it called out to me as a bronze eyeshadow would. I've already tried it and turns out to be a really gorgeous true chocolatey brown. The shimmer is pretty and not garish, and the gold leans olivey rather than orangey which I think makes all the difference.

I got a few VIB goodies including the 500-pt L'Occitane set which includes among other things minis of my fav bits from the Amande/Almond range. I took the opportunity to snag another mini Glam Glow and a mini Urban Decay Naked lipgloss too, and some Nude samples too. Not bad, not bad.

A final FYI for those of you living in or visiting NY. The Union Square Sephora has gone through a major upgrade. It's easily the biggest Sephora I've ever been in and has many more brands and their full ranges represented in the physical store than a lot of the other locations I've been to in the last few years. Check. It. Out.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

B&BW Candle Haul

OK - so if you can't tell already I'm a bit overwhelmed at the moment by all the US-centric beauty bits that are typically out of my grasp over in Copenhagen. To stick with the theme, today I'm coming at you with a candle haul that although not beauty, was primarily motivated by the beauty bloggers I follow. Cue the delicious smells!


I'm pretty sure it's now been years that I've been hearing about the amazingness of candles from Bath & Body Works. With this brand in particular out of reach in Aus and in Europe, my candle tastes have tended towards the likes of Diptyque which while incredibly more sophisticated in scent and aesthetic, are also about the price of all 5 of these babies combined. Suffice to say I found it a bit hard to contain my excitement sniffing basically every candle in the store. A 2 for $22 made the deal even sweeter.

Because of the novelty, the scents I picked don't have much rhyme or reason in terms of seasonality. I went with what I liked. Fresh Balsam and Leaves are more Autumn/Winter scents, Espresso Bar and Cinnamon Sugared Doughnut are Gourmand, and Coconut Leaves is definitely more Spring/Summery. I have yet to burn any of these (I'm waiting til I get them home) but I left Fresh Balsam in our room here with the lid off and the entire room has smelt of lovely woody yet fresh pine for days. This is definitely not a review because I'm in no position to give my full thoughts just yet, but in the jar the candles smell true to description and very strong, which will hopefully translate to a good throw. The scents are definitely more synthetic and straightforward than those put out by parfumerie houses but these candles are fun, accessible (in price and notes if not geography), and addictively good.

What are your favourite B&BW scents? What other candle brands are to die for?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Laura Mercier Mineral Powder

I've recently re-discovered the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15 in my makeup stash and it's made it back into my regular rotation. I'm not a big mineral makeup gal, but this product is both handy and fairly foolproof, so I thought I'd share my renewed love.


I have this in the shade Real Sand and it's a good colour match for me (check out my base shades for comparisons). I wear this two different ways depending on the day.

On casual or light makeup days I apply my concealer first and then I use a dense buffing brush or flat-top kabuki to buff this into my skin as my main base. It has surprisingly good coverage - I'd say medium - does not get cakey, and despite being a powder does leave the skin with a healthy glow. Since it is a powder though, my face does not get oily or greasy throughout the day. I do think it's important to make sure your skin is well moisturized beforehand because using a powder product can feel drying on the skin (even if it doesn't look it). It lasts surprisingly well and the effect becomes even more flattering as it wears for a few hours. My only complaint it that it can have the tendency to make the peachfuzz on your face look more pronounced (sexy) so it can be useful to have a setting spray on hand which instantly fixes the fuzz.

The second way I wear this is as more of a finishing powder over a liquid foundation. For this I use a fluffier brush and rather than buffing, apply a light dusting. It works to mattify without flattening my features, and adds some added coverage without looking heavy or cakey and gives a really perfected finish to the skin.

I've been using this more recently and I really do like it. I think the only reason I sometimes forget about it is because of the loose powder thing, which inevitably is a bit more of a faff than pressed products. My renewed love for this product has also got me curious about Tarte's latest offering, which I may just have to pick up while I'm in NY this month. If I do I'll be sure to compare the two.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Want List #2: Sephora edition

I'm lucky enough to make it stateside approx 1-2 times a year to visit my parents, and the lead up to each trip inevitably induces unhealthy amounts of browsing the Sephora website, filling my cart, debating, coming to my senses, searching again... repeat cycle. Some purchases are justified because I know if I pass I won't be able to find said product elsewhere. Others on the basis of price differences. Either way, the fact that I'm able to maintain VIB status despite not having lived in the country for 10 years is probably a pretty good indication of the types of Sephora binges I go on during my trips home. Enter the current want list.


Makeup

Skincare

Fragrance

Hair

Body


This is what it is - a want list. There's a good chance I won't purchase everything on here during this trip, though they may linger in my thoughts. Please please let me know if you think I'm missing any must-haves (Sephora or US generally) or if you think I can scratch any of these with no worries! :)

Friday, 14 March 2014

Review: Revlon Highlighting Palette in 030 Bronze Glow

I first heard about the Revlon Highlighting Palette from Amelia of Liana Beauty and as someone who has no qualms recommending super high-end products I somehow trusted her rave of this budget-buy even more. So, when I was perusing the drugstore recently in NY I saw this and thought it looked just as pretty as she had described. In my basket went shade 030 Bronze Glow (the other shade - Rose Glow is lighter and pinkier). So what do I think?


I wore this out the night I bought it because I was particularly excited about it, and it has totally lived up to my expectations. The product is very finely milled and offers more of a sheen than any sparkle or glitter (win). Using my Real Techniques Blush Brush I swirled all of the colours together before applying to cheeks. I noticed immediately that the powder is very buttery meaning the brush picks up a lot of pigment and is prone to going powdery in the compact. A light hand is therefore preferable - I tapped off my brush and dabbed the excess on the back of my hand before applying to my cheeks. The product blended easily and flawlessly on the skin. The effect was absolutely beautiful. A plummy, rosy-bronze shade that managed to fill the shoes of blush, bronzer and highlighter all in one. Score.

For kicks I decided to try the individual stripes as eyeshadow today. The result? impressive. Applied with a Maybelline 24hr colour tattoo as a base, I applied the second rosy strip on the inner half of my lid, the 3rd bronzy stripe on the outer half, blended the outer corner and into the crease with the bottom brown stripe, and used the white strip as a highlight. The overall look was a pretty, dramatic for day but still wearable bronzy look that did wonders to emphasise my blue eyes. I'm writing this 8 hours since application and it looks the same as when first swept on - no fading or creasing in sight. So, as an added bonus to a beautiful cheek palette, if used individually these shades also double as flattering neutral eyeshadows. You really can't ask for more.

Revlon nailed it with this offering and I'd highly recommend it, irrespective of the price point, which lucky for us is super affordable.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

US drugstore haulage #1

This haul is pretty out of character for me. Ever since getting more crazily into makeup circa 2009 I've been of the opinion that I'd rather splash out on fewer well-researched, well-performing higher end products than potentially spend the same amount of money on an array of cheaper drugstore products. Quality over quantity, if you like. Perhaps a little beauty snobbery thrown in for good measure, too. But, some drugstore brands really do seem to bring it these days, and if the quality is there, god knows my wallet could use a break from high-end beauty.


Photo 1: Essie nail lacquer in hors d'oeuvres (left) - multi-sized silver glitter with gold micro sparkles  //  Essie nail lacquer in find me an oasis (right) - a very light white-based baby blue.

Photo 2: Maybelline master glaze blush stick in 30 Coral Sheen  //  Maybelline Colorsensational The Elixer in 005 Breathtaking Apricot  //  Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo in 35 Tough as Taupe

Photo 3: Revlon Highlighting Palette in 030 Bronze Glow  //  Revlon Colorburst Matte Balms in 240 Striking (left) and 205 Elusive (right)

Photo 4: L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Waterproof Mascara in 871 Blackest Black  //  It's a 10 miracle leave-in Lite

Expect to see reviews/swatches of my new beauty booty coming up :) Anything else you think I need?

Monday, 10 March 2014

Review & Comparison: detangling hair brushes

My recent hair woes (explained a bit more thoroughly here) have pushed me to go on the hunt for the best detangling hairbrush. Few things in the beauty space are more disconcerting than an increase in hair shedding, so out of hope and desperation I've been trailing many a product aimed at reducing hair thinning and breakage and increasing growth, thickness, volume and strength. Today I'm looking at how three detangling brush options compare.


Michael Mercier Detangling brush for fine hair - This was my first purchase of the 3. The pink one is targeted at fine hair but there are also normal and thick/coarse versions. This is most similar to a conventional brush in form in that it has a proper handle. Overall though, I have not been very impressed with this option. When I brush through my hair I often feel that the brush is only getting the outermost layers of hair rather than really getting to my scalp. This can sometimes feel like it's doing more damage than good. I think it has something to do with the shortest of the different length bristles being too short to actually reach the underlayers of hair. It does not detangle as well as the other 2 products in this post and as a result I find an alarming amount of hair left behind in the brush when I'm done. Now that I have alternatives I will no longer be using this.

Tangle Teezer Aqua Splash - I bought this because I was dissatisfied with the Michael Mercier and figured since my hair is increasingly tangled when I get out shower (gotta thank Copenhagen's extremely hard water for that) I may as well get a brush specifically targeted to wet hair. Although I know hair is weaker and more prone to breakage when wet, I really can't get around combing or brushing it while damp these days. This brush has a hollow centre which means it dries easily and the water doesn't get trapped in any internal spaces. The shape is easily to hold with wet hands, which by all accounts is a vast improvement over the original. I do find it performs better than the Michael Mercier, but it definitely still takes some work and care to gently detangle my hair - first by holding the mid-lengths to brush the ends and then from the scalp downward. I make sure to spray a detangler in my hair before using this to reduce damage and shedding as much as possible.

Beautybay The Collection detangling brush small - I received this for free as a 'deluxe sample' with an order from Beautybay and oddly enough it's my favourite of the lot. The contours of the brush make it easy to hold, and the bristles have enough give to detangle without being rough on my hair. I notice significantly less shedding when I use this brush compared with the Michael Mercier on dry hair. It also provides stimulation to my scalp without feeling like it's going to make my hair greasy more quickly. I have not tried the original Tangle Teezer but of the 3 I imagine this is the most similar. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative I'd highly recommend checking out this 'home brand' option.

Has anyone tried both the Beauty Bay and the Original Tangle Teezer? I'd be curious how they compare since the former is obviously designed with the latter in mind. I'm also tempted to hunt down The Wet Brush and see how it stands up.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Review: Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè

I first came across Embryolisee Lait-Crème Concentrè through the Pixiwoo girls, and it seemed a bit of a do-it-all wonder product in the beauty industry - a 3-in-1 makeup remover, mosituriser and primer. When I moved to Denmark it became very easy to come by so I picked it up to see what I thought. I've now used it on and off for the past year - for many months as my sole morning moisturiser, and more recently as a go-to for specific circumstances. Here's what I think...


I have tried it as a makeup remover - it does work if you're in a pinch or travelling but I wouldn't purchase this for that purpose alone, since I think other products do a better job. I think it shines much more for its moisturising/priming functions. It's a basic, non-irritating, ok for sensitive skin, moisturiser. It manages to be rich and nourishing but has an almost whipped or airy texture evidenced by the weight of the tube which is surprisingly light given its size when full. This cream is my morning answer to my nighttime use of La Roche-Posay Effaclar H that I spoke about here - the perfect calming boost of moisture that remedies dehydration without being too rich or too potent to anger my sometimes breakout-prone combo-oily skin.

In terms of priming - it does create a very nice base for makeup but one that veers on the hydrated/dewy end of the spectrum. If you're looking for longevity or more lasting power I don't think this is that kind of primer. That said, it also doesn't go slippy or greasy on my skin either - fairly neutral I would say. If you have dry or dehydrated skin, I think this is an excellent product to nourish the skin and prep it for makeup without worrying about product clinging to dry patches, feeling tight, etc.

I no longer use this on a daily basis but it does serve an important purpose in my skincare stash and I'll continue to have it on hand for days when my skin needs extra hydration or is a bit reactive and I still want to wear a full face of makeup.

It is available from Matas/Magasin (Denmark), Cult Beauty (UK/World) but if you're stocking up on other French Pharmacy stuff it's way cheaper from easyparapharmacie.com (UK/Europe).

Friday, 7 March 2014

Review: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush

When I saw the promo photos for the new Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes they immediately sprung to the top of my want list. But, certainly not needing any more blush I was a bit prudent and did not pre-order, preferring instead to see swatches emerge online first. And I must say that after seeing these babies on the interwebs my excitement actually subsided somewhat. While all the reviews I've read are excellent, the shade range looked a lot less varied on the skin than in the pan. So my original lust for a few different shades turned more into indecision about whether I really wanted or needed another warm-toned hue in my stash. The inevitable purchase was induced by the need to reach the free-shipping limit on Space NK (am I the only one that falls for this?) and I went for the shade Radiant Magenta.


The packaging is beautiful and practical - a more petite version of the Ambient Lighting Powders. Although this shade appears very cool toned in the pan, because it is laced with the bronzy Radiant Light, when mixed together it really does warm up. On me (and my cool-toned skin), it still leans cool-ish, but nowhere near a Mac Well Dressed/Pink Swoon or Dior Rosy Glow kind of cool flush.

If I'm honest I'm not that blown away by this. Yes it's gorgeous to look at but I don't think it performs any better than any other blush in my stash. It goes on nicely and blends well, but it's neither matte nor glowy, and at least on me the staying power is just average. I did prefer applying it with a MAC 168 which provided more definition and lasting power than with something like my Real Techniques Blush Brush, which I thought over-blended.  I don't think it's an underperforming product but I also don't think it lives up to the hype that the promo images garnered (not necessarily Hourglass' fault!). So, if any of the swatched colours really call out to you then go for it, but if you're expecting something mindblowing in terms of finish or formula I think you may be underwhelmed. Whereas the powders really impressed me I think the blushes are riding on their reputation. I'll enjoy using the shade I have but probably won't rush out to buy the others (though now that I'm in NY for a few weeks I will make an effort to at least swatch all the shades in person and make my final decision).

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Seeing double: Product repurchases

While I do love a good empties video I didn't think it would translate well to a blog. So instead I thought I'd highlight the products I've actually repurchased. Unless something is totally terrible I do try to 'use it up' but because my stores and my wishlists are so over-run it's one thing to say I would repurchase and another to actually take the plunge. Each of these products have, against all odds, become staples in my beauty stash.



Skincare

Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micellaire: This one probably goes without saying but it really is the best cleansing water out there. I use this every single night as the first step in removing my makeup, and dare I say on lazy evenings a second go does the trick for an adequate cleanse. It is non-irritating, feels like water, leaves no film and does not require rinsing. It also does not sting my eyes. It does a decent job of removing mascara but if you're particularly concerned or wearing waterproof I'd recommend a separate oil-based eye makeup remover (my favourite is the Clarins Instant Eye-Makeup Remover). I have had this in all sizes but tend to bulk order the 500ml from easyparapharmacie.com (FYI - an excellent site for French pharmacy brands and the lower prices justify the fixed shipping rate if you buy enough stuff!). I've gone through at least 7-8 of these bad boys.

La Roche-Posay Serozinc: Another product that garners much hype, I picked this up from the same online store as my Bioderma. This is an aerosol spray toner which is similar to other thermal waters (great for convenience) but this one has zinc which is a targeted ingredient for acne-prone skin. I would not describe this as luxurious in any way, shape or form but it is effective, and at under 5 euros it's a seriously good deal. I use mine at night only, and my skin has been more non-fussy as a result.

Rodial Dragon's Blood Sculpting Gel: This repurchase marks my 3rd tub of this stuff. I've got no clue what Dragon's blood is and am the first to admit it sounds dodgy and gimmicky. But, this gel/serum has been a miracle worker for my skin. I use it in the morning after toner and under my daytime moisturiser. It provides some moisture but more importantly seems to provide the perfect base for makeup. When I tried this for the first time it was one of those rare products that show an immediate improvement. I attempted forgoing opening this new pot until I trialled some other serums (I'm looking at you, hydraluron) and my skin went totally nuts. Not only does this work to smooth my skin but it also seems to calm, balance, and ward-off breakouts. Whatever the case I'll continue to have a spare on standby.

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser: I've mentioned this a few times now but it really is my favourite morning cleanser (I prefer a balm at night). It is a very low foaming clay based cleanser that has done for my skin, exactly what it promises - makes skin more flawless with less visible pores. The active ingredients are effective without being irritating and it leaves my skin feeling thoroughly clean but not stripped. I use 2 pumps each morning in the shower and my last bottle lasted me 7 months! So, while not cheap it is completely worth it. I've got my new bottle with me in NY and I can guarantee it won't be my last.

Makeup

Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Mascara: I've already written a full review of this mascara here, but let's just say a sample mascara needs to be pretty damn good to entice me to buy the full size at £26. This find was particularly satisfying because it came out of left field - I didn't have any real expectations when I tried this baby out and it totally blew me away. I'm super happy about finding this new fav, even if my wallet is weeping.

In a consumer space that often feels like it is more about marketing than results, It's a pretty great feeling finding products that work so well that the enthusiasm for them continues past one container and where repurchasing is more exciting that trying something new. All of these products have seriously impressed me and I feel no desire to stray.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Statement jewellery without the *bling*

As you may be starting to gather from my fashion posts, I tend not to dress in overly feminine pieces - preferring well-cut (sometimes oversized) neutral basics. Give me a slouchy but perfectly draped T, an oversized cardigan and some skinnies and I'm good to go. Shoes, bags, jewellery (and of course makeup) get swapped in and out to change things up. While I appreciate the effect of a statement piece of jewellery, I prefer something bold but without the bling. Here's an edit of some of my go-to pieces:


  • Aptly named the 'bondage ring' by A.L.C. - the thick band, mixed metals and cheeky finger grip to drag someone off to do something naughty (rawr!) all afford this rather simple piece a bold statement.
  • The primary coloured jewels on my Iosselliani ring would typically allude to a young playfulness. But slap them on brushed silver, add a tad of rose gold, and arrange into a cluster and you have a colourful but not-too-cute cocktail ring.
  • I bought this necklace from Anthropologie, but it is handmade from turquoise by Jane Diaz. Because this is more colour than I would typically wear, I love that the geometric shape, black chain, and slight (handmade) imperfections give it a casual but cool sense of interest, rather than a picture-perfect, manufactured look.
  • The necklace with the acro lock is a little DIY number. The heart-shaped mixed metal lock is a fully functioning vintage padlock that I found at an op shop in Sydney. Looped onto a spare chain this necklace attracts comment almost every time I wear it.
  • Probably my most classic of the lot, this geometric House of Harlow number is kept cool with taupe leather inlay. The clean almost deco lines lend a slightly more put together look.
  • This rather dinky harmonica by Blow verges on dainty if anything. The statement is really in the substance on this one - Almost without fail I get asked if the harmonica actually works, and indeed it does. I therefore deem it to be punching above it's weight in terms of making a statement.
  • A pure brass cuff by Cornelia Webb moulded as though it just haphazardly fell into place and hardened. The non-uniform brushed rather than polished finish, combined with some surface imperfections make this bold piece really eye catching without being gaudy or too 'done'.
  • One of my beloved Michael Kors watches adorns my wrist each and every day. Inspired by menswear in terms of size and style, these are both bold and versatile. The navy face with rose gold and silver is just a tad bit unexpected, while the contrast monochrome watch really pops.



Sunday, 2 March 2014

An ode to... Korres showergels

No intellectualising here - just giving credit where credit is due, and bowing down to a simple everyday staple to which I am very loyal. Korres showergels, in all of their olfactory goodness.


OK - so, shower gel. I'd venture to say we're approaching the more boring end of the beauty spectrum here. And yet, as something we slather on daily, I'm making the call that sometimes the most mundane products deserve a bit of the spotlight. 

My demands of a shower gel are pretty straight forward. I don't have a bath so I am fairly reliant on the pleasure of a good shower gel to enhance my shower experience. So, scent is paramount. Although it washes down the drain in a matter of seconds, I would also hope that something I use so ubiquitously is not laced with a million chemicals, including those that may make my skin dry or too squeaky. Finally, because it is something I use everyday, value for money does enter the picture. I want something higher end than dishsoap, but not something so expensive or luxurious that it can only rightly be used on special occasions or pamper nights-in.

My nexus of requirements is met perfectly by my long time (we're talking years) favourites - showergels by Greek brand Korres. Formulated primarily of (actually) natural ingredients with most nasty culprits nowhere to be seen - what is and isn't in these is very clearly labelled. The range of scents is unrivalled - ranging through fresh, fruity, floral, herbacious, warm, woody, cologne-y, you name it. I like to keep one more awakening scent and one more warm scent in my shower at all times so I can switch it up depending on my mood. My favourites on the warm end include Juniper & Rum (above), Vetiver Root, Green Tea and Cedarwood (also above), Vanilla Cinnamon, and Coconut Milk. Mint Tea, Iris, Lily of the Valley and Cotton, and Citrus round out my refreshing faves. The scents smell true to their names and never synthetic or fake. The scent fills the bathroom and leaves skin lightly fragranced, moisturised and fresh without ever competing with perfume or cologne. And, at 8 pounds or 10 euros (though even better - we picked up a bunch for 6.50 euros each when visiting family in Cyprus) they are affordable enough to be a daily indulgence.

Used religiously by both Dean and I, These have been a mainstay in our shower for going on 5 years and we will continue to repurchase them. This is also probably the first beauty product other than cologne that put non-drugstore options on the map for Dean, something he's not looked back from!