Friday, 29 May 2015

Max Factor Colour Intensifying Lip Balm in Luscious Red, Charming Coral & Sumptuous Candy

Luscious Red
Charming Coral
Sumptuous Candy
Max Factor have a new lip product in town, and it's another play on the ever popular tinted balm format we see every summer.  The twist with these is that they're not just a tinted lip balm - they boast a light texture and buildable pigment so they can be worn as a tinted balm or as a balmy full pigment lipstick.

The swatches above show a couple of passes over the lips, meaning that the intensity is probably about medium - more pigmentation than a single swipe of balm, and less than going over your lips multiple times to build up the pigment.  You can see that they're pretty intense anyway for a balm product, with Luscious Red in particular already shaping up to be a stunningly strong and glossy red.  In fact, that's the real benefit of this product - the buildable colour is nice, the balm texture comfortable, but the finish is absolutely lovely - a soft, glossy-but-not-too-obvious finish which makes the lips look full and lush.

The downsides?  The pigmentation is such that if your lips aren't in great condition when you apply, you'll end up with patchiness where the pigment clings to drier spots on the lips.  Nothing that can't be solved with a bit of lip scrub, though.  Wear is decent enough, at around three to four hours before the colour dries down into a stain - the lips feel moisturised at this stage, but not as much as if they'd been wearing Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm, for example.

At £8.99 each, these balms are a great way to get comfortable, buildable colour with a healthy full finish this summer.  Find them now at Boots.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Illamasqua To Be Alive Collection - Iridesce Shine Lipgloss

Illamasqua's latest collection, To Be Alive, isn't really my cup of tea at all - it's based entirely around blue, which is a colour I rarely wear as makeup (perhaps because it's a bit much with my hair).  One piece, though, is a surprisingly subtle take on blue - Iridesce Shine Lipgloss, which is a clear gloss with a subtle sprinkling of blue particles, which makes the gloss glow with a gentle blue iridescence.

Trying to photograph that blue iridescence was a bit of a bugger, which proves how subtle an effect it is.  A macro shot of the lips shows the icy blue particles, but in person it's hard to spot - the overall effect is a blue flash which is only visible when the sun hits it just right.  Alone, it's pretty, but over a blue toned red lip, it's stunning, albeit high maintenance.

This is the first time I've tried Illamasqua's Shine Lipgloss, and for a generally-gloss-disapproving person I'm pretty impressed.  The shine level is good, and the texture is wonderfully slippy, not at all tacky.  The downside is that it dries down in just over an hour, but hey, that's the price you pay for a glossy pout.

Shine Lipgloss in Iridesce costs £16.50, and is a limited edition with the To Be Alive collection, so run to the Illamasqua website if you're after a blue flash for your lips this summer.

Disclosure:  PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Crabtree & Evelyn Black Absinthe Eau de Cologne

Okay, first off - this is a men's scent.  Second off, I really don't care - it's one of those deep yet fresh, nose tinglingly crisp scents with a warm heart which I absolutely adore, and I won't let the fact that it's been designed for a man put me off wearing it.  Yeah.

Packaged in an appropriately green bottle, Black Absinthe is a little bit Art Deco in it's design, putting you very much in the mind of French bohemian soirees with the green fairy.  As this is a cologne, the bottle has an open neck - I've been applying it by putting my finger across the opening, turning the bottle upside down, and dabbing gently behind the ears and on my neck.  It's a heady fragrance, so applying slowly and building up is a good thing, unless you want to overpower people.

The scent itself is fresh more than anything, opening with a cacophony of green and spicy notes, including absinthe and cardamom, before mellowing to something a bit more floral and creamy, with orange blossom and artemisia.  There's a distinctly warm and buttery heart to this fragrance, incorporating tonka bean (one of my favourites), vetivier sandalwood, but interestingly once the fragrance has fully dried down it doesn't become totally warm - once developed, it's a curious blend of greenness backed by warmth which is beautifully balanced.

Overall, then, it's a gorgeous scent, for men and for women, mixing as it does the crispness of modern fragrances with a warmer, more old fashioned core.  Find it at Crabtree and Evelyn, where it costs £45 for 100ml.

Disclosure: PR sample

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Friday, 22 May 2015

How to live with brightly coloured hair

I've had bright hair for years now, but recently started bleaching it to get it ultra, ultra bright.  It's been neon pink, it's been red, and it's now a slightly blue toned cerise which I haven't yet photographed... but it's fairly likely it'll continue to be somewhere between red and pink, and very bright.  I'm often asked questions about it, so I thought I'd write about what it's like to have bright hair: the maintenance cost, and the affect it has on your life.

Topping up the colour is essential.  Everyone loves that just-coloured look you get when you walk out of the salon, and unlike more natural colours, bright colours fade very, very fast.  I make colour masks out of Directions hair colour and a squirt of conditioner and leave on for an hour every single week.  That's why my hair always looks freshly coloured.

Sulphate-free shampoo is your friend.  Nothing strips colour more quickly than shampoos with lots of SLS in them (apart from anti-dandruff shampoo).  Wash with sulphate free shampoo, such as L'Oreal's Hair Expertise range - their EverSleek is one of my favourite ranges, and it doesn't strip colour as fast as normal high street shampoo.

Dry shampoo is also your friend.  Washing infrequently helps prevent fading.  I wash my hair three times a week at an absolute maximum, normally more like two.  I keep plenty of Batiste handy to make sure my hair doesn't look like it hasn't been washed in days.

Avoid pale clothes.  Bright colour often transfers a bit onto your clothes as you wear them.  Anything white, or with a pale collar, is guaranteed to be slightly pink after I've worn it.  

Beware of light nail polishes.  Washing bright hair whilst wearing pale nail polish will lead to stained nails, which look very weird.  I usually wear darker red/pink/purple shades as a result, or if I have to wear something stainable, I wash my hair whilst wearing latex gloves.

Embrace black bed linen and dark towels.  Bright hair will turn stain pretty pale bed linen.  Wet bright hair will trash white or pale towels.  My bed linen is black, and my towels are dark jewel tones.  Which leads me to...

Be prepared when you travel.  When travelling to stay at a friend's house, take a black pillowcase - no-one likes a guest whose hair destroys their linen.  Also, take plenty of dry shampoo to avoid having to wash your hair in someone else's bathroom.  When I travel for work, I sometimes pay for a wash and blow dry rather than washing my hair in a posh hotel bathroom, particularly if my hair is freshly coloured or the bathroom has obviously porous surfaces.

Abandon all hope of maintaining your hair on holiday.  Swimming, bright sunlight, chlorine, salt water - all of these will pull colour from your hair.  When I go on holiday, I resign myself to coming back with a weird reverse ombre, with blonde ends and pinky roots.  I make sure I have enough time to dye it back to normality before I go back to work.

Stock up on colour-removal products for your hair and for your house.  I have a couple of bottles of salon-strength colour removers for colour transfer onto my skin, and plenty of bleach at home for those times when the shower ends up with a distinctly rosy hue.  Oh, and a big drum of Vanish for my clothes.

Avoid sweating at all costs.   Sweat+bright hair = pink sweat running down my face in summer.  BAD.  I carry baby wipes to clean up on the go, and in summer let my hair get a little more faded to avoid being damp and pink.

So there it is:  bright hair actually affects much more than your hair itself, particularly if you choose the kind of hue with bleeds, transfers or stains a lot.  I think it's totally worth it though!  Do you have any bright hair life tips?  Share them in the comments below!

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Kiko Cosmetics Dusk til Dawn Volume Mascara and Graphic Ritual Kajal Eyeliner in Talisman Gold

I've long been impressed by Kiko's lipsticks and eye shadow products, and long been a bit disappointed in their mascaras - a recent try led me to write my shortest ever review.  So when I received the new Dusk til Dawn Volume Mascara from the brand, part of their Modern Tribes summer collection, I was prepared for it to be a bit rubbish.  Actually, its quite nice - it promises volume, and it gives a sort of medium- volume fluttery look, which isn't the most voluminous thing I've ever seen, but is pretty for daytime, and easily buildable for night.  It's also a mere £8.90, making it a bit of an everyday bargain.

With it, I'm wearing Graphic Ritual Kajal Eyeliner in Talisman Gold, which can be used on the inner rims of the eyes as well as on the lashline.  I've applied it along the upper and lower lashlines for a bright, wide eyed look.  The texture is very creamy and soft, applying with decent pigmentation and smudging easily.  Wear time is impressive too - I found it didn't migrate into my undereye bags during the day as some liners can do.  Not bad for just £5.90!

Disclosure: PR samples

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Burberry Kisses Lipstick in Claret Pink and Poppy Red

Claret Pink, Poppy Red
Burberry's latest Kisses lipstick release promises a weightless, hydrating texture and a buildable level of pigment which makes for multiple looks from one bullet.  Being a lipstick addict, I had to try them out.

The packaging is identical to Burberry's other Lip Mist and Lip Cover products, which makes for a pleasing symmetry on the dressing table and a bit of a scrabble through your makeup bag if you're carrying multiple types of Burberry lipstick.  It's weighty, solid, and has a satisfyingly strong magnet to keep the lid firmly attached to the base.

Claret Pink, Poppy Red
The lipsticks are embossed with an intricate pattern, as are the others in the range, and the bullets are gently shaped.  

Claret Pink
Claret Pink is a sheer coral pink - this is one swipe from the bullet.  It's possible to build it up stronger with additional swipes, but I quite like the subtlety and juiciness of a single swipe.

Poppy Red
Poppy Red is much more pigmented - a single swipe gives rich, full opacity, although it can also be built up for even more intense redness.

Texture wise, these lipsticks are everything that Burberry promises:  weightless on the lip once set, comfortable and hydrating to wear, and very easy to apply evenly.  Wear time is pretty reasonable:  four hours before the colour and the hydration fades away, leaving the lips slightly stained.

Overall, then, these lipsticks are a lovely addition into any lipstick addict's makeup bag - but they don't really offer anything new in a world where lipstick formulas are universally comfortable and well pigmented.  Still, if you like a touch of Burberry, you'll find them at Debenhams, where they cost £25 each.

Disclosure: Purchased by me.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.

Friday, 15 May 2015

BUY THIS NOW: Bleach London Reincarnation Mask

As you've probably noticed, I have brightly coloured hair.  It's been red, flourescent pink, deeper pink, and is now a wonderful shade which looks like a raspberry red until the sun hits it, whereupon it glows fuschia.  My hair has been bleached quite a bit, and I regularly have my roots bleached to keep up the brightness - which results in dull, tired hair, and worst still, has left me with incredibly porous hair where it's been bleached over a couple of times.

I tried Reincarnation Mask because Kellie, a fellow lover of bleach, recommended it, and I'm very very glad I did.  It's a rich, thick mask best left on for a long old while, and it leaves my hair feeling remarkably soft and supple.  It's also a bloody good base for a colour conditioner - I often mix up some of this with some Directions pink hair colour and leave it on for an hour to inject both moisture and colour into my hair.

If your hair is super dry, or you're a bit of a slave to the bleach, I'd highly recommend trying this.  Try to look past the very shower unfriendly packaging, though, as screwing that little cap back on is a bitch when your hands are slippery with conditioner.  Find it now at Boots, where it costs a very reasonable £6.

Disclosure:  Purchased by me.  Twice, actually.  That's how good it is.

This post originated at If you're reading it elsewhere, it's been stolen, violating my copyright.
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