Thursday, 31 December 2009

IMATS - Internation Makeup Artist Trade Show

Earlier this year, I was sitting on the tube idly thumbing through a book when a couple got into the carriage, laden down with bags. Makeup antennae tingling, I watched as they produced palettes, eyeshadows, pans and brushes, comparing and admiring their hauls. They had of course been to the London leg of IMATS, the International Makeup Artist Trade show of 2009.

How time flies! It's now nearly time for 2010s IMATS, and I'm thrilled to say that this year, the London Beauty Review will be in attendance, enjoying all that the show has to offer. (We're not exhibiting I hasten to add, although Gemma's innovative makeup storage ideas could probably entrance a crowd.)

Highlights of this year's event, which is held on 30th and 31st January at Alexandra Palace, will include a talk from MAC's lead creative artist Terry Barber (pictured here in striking black and white), as well as professional film industry makeup artists Bill Corso (Oscar and Emmy winner) and Tom Savini. Tom worked on Day of the Dead and Friday 13th, so as an unabashed horror fan I'm especially looking forward to his talk.

As well as speakers, there's an exhibitor hall, with brands setting out their stalls to showcase and sell their products (hopefully with some good discounts!). We also hear tell of a Makeup Museum, where there will be live workshops and demonstrations. There is a makeup contest running on the day too, with students competing in Beauty and Character categories. The Beauty category is Alice in Wonderland themed - I wonder if Urban Decay and OPI's recent film tie-ins will show an influence? Grimm's Fairy Tales is the theme for the Character category, making the competitions similarly story-book oriented.

IMATS takes place in five locations worldwide throughout the year. Us lucky Londoners go first in January; then the show is held in Vancouver in April, Los Angeles in June, Sydney in September and Toronto in November. The show is produced by Make-Up Artist magazine, who have published some squee-worthy photos from the recent 2009 Toronto show online. (This/last year's competition theme was Gothic Beauty - the winning entry is also pictured above.)

If you are interested in attending the London dates, you can find out more at The show runs from 8:30 am (ouch) to 5 pm on Saturday January 30 and from 10 a.m. to 5pm on Sunday January 31. Tickets cost between £28 - £65. Maybe see you there!

Photos are reproduced courtesy of Make-Up Artist magazine.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Space NK Sale including Sonia Kashuk Brushes

SpaceNK are currently holding a sale, both online and in store. While perusing the array of products available at some seriously reduced prices, I noticed that most, if not all, of their Sonia Kashuk brushes are heavily marked down - maybe their high-end pricing didn't cut it with clued-up UK beauty lovers? Anyway, most of the brushes now fall between the £4.89 and £9.79 mark - much closer to their US prices. If you're looking to try these, the time is probably now!

NOTD: Leighton Denny Up In The Air

Here we have Leighton Denny's "Up in the Air" polish, which is a cool toned, slightly lilac silver. Applies beautifully, as all Leighton Denny polishes do, and is fully opaque in two coats. It has a subtle metallic sheen which unfortunately means you do get a few brush marks on the nail if your final coat isn't applied quite thickly and quickly.

Incidentally, I didn't buy this polish myself. If you follow us on Twitter, you might recall that I received a HQHair order containing a smashed bottle of Seche Vite (sob), which I immediately reported to both HQHair and everyone on Twitter., who seem to really have their proverbial finger on the social media pulse, replied to me with an offer of a free polish to cheer me up, as they were in a festive mood. Which was jolly nice of them, and virtually guarantees that next time I need any beauty goodies, I'll be heading towards their site. After all the crappy customer service I've had recently, it's lovely to have some that goes above and beyond, even for an as yet non-customer.

If you'd like to try this out for yourself, you can get it from BeautyBay for £10.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Unexpected Bonuses

Since I quit the shampoo and went silicone free a few months back, I've been enjoying well defined curls and hair that feels truly moisturised and healthy. The past few days have involved a lot of arrangements, running around, and not enough time for air drying - my hair takes 4 to 5 hours to fully dry, and I've just not been able to find it this week. So I broke out my hair dryer and prepared to do battle.

Ordinarily, blow drying my hair takes about 45 minutes, by which stage I've usually given up attempting to get it sleek, and settled for roughly straightish hair (with a LOT of body) and very achey arms. This time, though, I found that my hair was a lot less puffy after blow drying, and it only took me 20 minutes or so to get it into a vaguely sleek state. All this, with just a small amount of Naked silicone free serum. This is a definite improvement, and a very unexpected bonus.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

New Year, New Makeup Storage

Well, I might be a little bit early with the New Years resolution, but this is something I've been meaning to do for a long while now. I'm slightly embarrassed to be posting the photo on the left; let me introduce you to my dressing table. Or rather, table covered with crap, as it's probably better described.

In all honesty, I have a lot of product. Lots of makeup, lots of skincare, lots of nail polish, and only one tiny wooden drawer unit, which I spray painted blue and silver (I thought it would look much classier, and less primary school, than it turned out). This afternoon I used up a little of my Christmas time off in reorganising my stash.

To the right, you can see what my dressing table looks like now. I've replaced the wooden unit (which was from Ikea, and cost about £7) with four stacked drawer units from Muji - three two-drawer units designed for MiniDiscs (does anyone still own an MD player?!) and one deep single-drawer unit designed for DVDs. The two-drawer units come with dividers inside so you can section off the drawers for similar sized products.

Both types cost £14.95 each - not cheap, but given the value of the product I'd previously been "storing" haphazardly across my dressing table, a worthwhile investment.

I'm keeping all my skincare and regular perfumes in the bottom DVD drawer. My nail polish collection has been pared down a bit and has it's own drawer, as do my eye and lipliners. Face products have a drawer, as do highlighters and blushers, lip products and eyeshadows.

I'm hoping that as well as looking much, much better, this reorganisation will encourage me to use a wider range of makeup, instead of what I can immediately see in my day-to-day makeup bag, or on the dressing table surface.

Plus, it'll stop my husband grumbling about the mess, which is worth the money on its own!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day Nars FOTD

I gleefully unwrapped my new NARS palette yesterday, and this morning I've done a look with it. I have been wanting a NARS palette for years so I felt rather awed as I actually dipped brush into pan and applied the hallowed products to my face.

This is the Everlasting Love palette. The colours I used are Underworld 1 and Underworld 2 (eyes) and Edie (highlight), then Orgasm on cheeks and Dolce Vita on lips.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it! We hope that wherever you're spending it, you have a very enjoyable day.

Our updates might be a tad infrequent between Christmas and New Year, as we zip around the country seeing friends and family, but stay tuned - in January we'll have a whole heap of lovely little giveaways to lift your back to work blues!

Belvada sliding mascara - fad or fantastic?

I spend too much time in Boots. I know the aisles off by heart. Sad, but true - it's my mecca and I worship there most days on the way home from work or at lunchtime. So when something new turns up there, I tend to notice right away.

I was curious to see a fixture full of a new brand of mascara, Belvada, sitting atop of one of the display shelves. Clocking the £20 price tag I decided it must be either a cult brand or something of exceptional quality. (Or it could be both, of course.) Sadly I lack the disposable income to pick one up to try out offhand, but I resolved to find out more about it.

Belvada is a brand with a unique selling point - their packaging, which exposes the product for use via a sliding mechanism on the handle. It's one-handed application. Great for people with disabilities, but is this strictly an improvement on the standard unscrew-pull out-apply mascara system? Well, the company seem to think so, since they have a patent pending for their design.

Belvada's website
claims that "this unique one hand applicator will change the way you use mascara forever", citing the following as evidence:

  • One Hand Application
  • Mascara Loads Uniquely from Tip to Bottom
  • Greater Stability and Control
  • Optimum Volume
  • No Pumping Necessary

Hmm. Without trying it myself I don't feel able to give a verdict, but on the strength of these claims I'm not wholly convinced. I'm interested in the tip-to-bottom loading though, and whether it makes a difference to have the brush pushed through the product rather than dipped into it.

I found some more information at Packaging Design, where I learned that the packaging has a "double-wiper system" to prevent overloading which can lead to clumps. It also seals air away from the product to keep it from drying out. That does sound good. But £20 worth of good? Bear in mind that we're advised to keep mascara for just 3 months anyway, so drying out shouldn't be that much of an issue if we follow that timeframe.

Belvada also make concealer and lipgloss with the same push-up mechanism, presumably with a similar pricetag. At the moment you can buy the mascara in the UK at Boots, priced at £20.

Has anyone else tried Belvada mascara? Please let us know your thoughts if you have.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Urban Decay to release Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows

I woke up this morning, checked my phone and saw a message from a reader, Claire. She asked me if I knew when the third Urban Decay Book of Shadows was being released in Europe. I was all like "THIRD??" - I have hardly gotten stuck into Vol. 2 yet! It seemed like the kind of (lame, beauty-obsessive) thing I often dream about, and I thought I probably hadn't woken up properly yet.

Claire is quite right though - there is apparently an Alice In Wonderland limited edition Book of Shadows being released in the USA in late December. It's a tie-in with the Disney film of the story, directed by Tim Burton. British Beauty Blogger has the full deets on her blog, along with some massive hi-res images to drool over, and she advises us that the palette will arrive in the UK in March, with just 2000 available. Can you picture the scrum at the department store counters?

Those who don't nab a palette might be slightly comforted to learn that although the shades all have Alice-themed names, some (don't know yet which) are just re-named shadows from the permanent line. There is a striking azure blue in there though that I don't recognise - it's called "Alice". And it's calling to me. There's also the usual travel-size rations of two 24/7 eyeliners and a mini Primer Potion.

The Book of Shadows format is a pull-out drawer of products below, and a lift-up mirrored display above. The Alice palette is no different. The top has a stunning pop-up montage of the scene from the story where Alice accepts the size-changing mushroom snacks from the caterpillar. In Burton's version, captured here, there is a forest of toadstools, with Alice herself wandering through them towards the mirror, and a bottle of "Drink Me" potion to one side.

I don't know whether I'm going to attempt to get one of these. The packaging is stunning, there's absolutely no question. But I have two Book of Shadows palettes already and if I'm totally honest the format isn't that user friendly, especially when I'm rushing to get out of the door. The first Book of Shadows has a drawer so stiff I can barely get it open with both hands. I love the selection of shades and the CS Lewis names, but I have so many UD shadows I honestly can't imagine needing more for a while. Plus, as I said to start with, I'm not fully bonded with my BOS Vol. 2 yet.

I do love those mushrooms though...

UPDATE: We've posted a summary of the latest details!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

EOTD - Boots 17 vanity case and MAC Non-conformist

OK, the name says it all really. This is a look with the pink (lid) and purple (contour) shades from the Boots 17 Vanity Case, finished off with MAC Fluidline in Non-conformist (cool toned purple). And NYX Doll Eye Volume mascara.

While Gemma is jetting off to New York on her fabulous winter break, I'm upholding the same standard of stylish living back here in London. For example, while wearing this look I braved the Christmas shopping crowds in London's glamorous* Wood Green, took a wintry ride on the charming sleigh-like 144 bus, and later in the evening was somehow convinced to follow the example of my friend Greg in climbing into a large Ryman's carrier bag, just to prove that it could be done. Yes, this actually happened.

*Actually not glamorous. At all.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Boots bargain - if you missed out on the hatbox...

Twitter has been alive today with people seeking or discussing the Boots deal of the day - Soap and Glory's "Big Thrill" hatbox, reduced from £50 to £20. It's a fantastic deal, and one I was lucky enough to take advantage of, but I understand that the website and most UK stores have now sold out. So instead of a gloating haul post about the hatbox and how awesome it is, I thought I would draw attention to another better-than-half price that Boots are running which is still available online and hopefully instore too.

The item is the 17 Vanity Case, and it is reduced in price from £30 to £12 - a price that's highly accessible by pretty much anyone's standards (even mine, and I'm brassic).

It's a silver square faux-leather vanity, pretty solid, with two compartments one above the other, opened by zips with crystal toggles. The box overall is very cute.

Inside there are some fairly flimsy plastic inserts, one containing inset pans of eyeshadow, blusher, lipstick and powder, and the other one in the lower compartment containing a range of rather budget-looking brushes, a cute little eyelash curler, two glitter liners and a makeup sponge.

The colours are mainly 17 favourites with a couple of limited edition shades thrown in for good measure. You get:

  • 17 Solo Eye Shadows - Viva Diva, Mardi Gras, Punky Purple.
  • 17 Glitter Eye Shadow - Gold Digger, Spirit, Heartbreaker, Superstar.
  • 17 Trio Eye Shadows - Metallic Toffee, Moody Blue Dark Shade, Smokey Quartz dark and light shades.
  • Limited Edition for Gift only: 17 Eye Shadow Smokey Green, Newt.
  • 17 Pressed Powder Natural.
  • 17 Blush Powder Bramble Frost.
  • 17 Shine on Lipsticks Sweet Sizzle, Watermelon Crush.
  • 17 Lasting Fix Lipstick Blondie.
  • Limited Edition for gift only: Very Berry, In the Nude.
  • Limited Edition for gift only: 17 Glitter Liquid Liners Silver and Blue.
17 is decidedly "drugstore", and the brushes won't be much use to anyone but the most credulous novice, but the colours are great quality and the case alone is worthy of the price tag (look at the cute detailing around the mirror!). Once I've removed the pans from the inserts and re-homed them in some DIY construction of my imagination's making, I'm going to be using it to store some of my every-growing army of palettes.

Buy one, treat yourself!

Last Chance: US Beauty Competition

Tomorrow, I fly out to New York with an empty suitcase. To help us all get over the inevitable January blues, I'm bringing back a selection of US only beauty products which Sarah and I will be giving away in January.

We asked for some suggestions of particular things you might want, and so we're asking again - we've already got Sephora by OPI polish, NYX eyeshadow and the Milani Orgasm dupe blush on our list, but is there anything else?

Last chance to let us know in the comments!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Kao cosmetics (Kanebo, John Frieda, Molton Brown) with some very unsavoury ideas...

Browsing led me to the discovery of this rather eye-watering patent application from the Kao cosmetics company, who own high profile brands including Molton Brown and John Frieda.

It's long and dry to read, but the gist is that the proposed "invention" is to graft human foreskin... yes, you read that right... onto the bodies of mice. The foreskin originally having belonged to a person with dark skin, and the reason being to test out skin-lightening products.

I don't even know where to begin outlining everthing wrong with this. It's enough to say that I will never buy any brands controlled by Kao again.

Sorry Frizz-Eaze, sorry nice-smelling bubble bath, but I'd rather be ungroomed and stinking than play any part in this disturbed and disturbing enterprise.

Annual round-up

So guys. Christmas is coming. Snow is falling. The intensive lip balms have come out at LBR.

And as the year draws to a close, the blogosphere erupts with "the best [insert product/phenomenon here] of 2009" posts (plus the additional rash of "best of a decade" posts from the more ambitious blogger types who haven't been too distracted by urgent last-minute online Christmas shopping.)

2009 has been a year of greater-than-ever-before beauty focus for me (as if such a thing were possible). Slap Happy was my major writing outlet during the spring after I lost my job as a copywriter in April, leading to features on Kiss and Makeup and finally to the conception of the London Beauty Review itself in the summer, in partnership with the fire-haired and eloquent programming-and-beauty obsessive Gemma, who is a truly fantastic co-writer and amazingly prolific to boot.

2009 has been the year I became aware of the drying effects of SLS in bathing products, had my waterline attacked during one scary counter makeover and experienced the fantastic ministrations of Illamasqua's Mika during another. It was the year I started cutting my boyfriend's hair (less to do with the recession than his dislike of hairdressers). It was also the year I took a good hard look at myself and decided firmly that buying products sold by companies who test cosmetics on animals can never be OK. However nice they look.

A top ten of things I discovered in 2009 is due here - but actually I have pretty much the same old favourites as before, with just a few extra honours to confer.

My 2009 heroes:

Origins "A Perfect World" face wash, which does its job superbly and is a pleasure to use, and has a beautiful white tea and orange blossom scent

The Sanctuary Spa Warming MicrodermabrasionPolish
, a self-heating marvel that manages sand-blaster efficacy with a gentle touch

GOSH Velvet Touch eyeliner (this stuff has serious GRIP!)

Lush The Olive Branch shower gel - it's like a hug in shower form

A new arrival is NYX Doll Eye mascara (Volume version), which I already raved at length about here

I am yet again wearing Philosophy's Pure Grace pretty much every day, and see no reason to change from its divine comforting clean-ness

I have also stocked up on B Never Too Busy To be Beautiful's "Dirty", a minty-fresh scent for guys that I took a fancy to after getting hold of a tester. (Typical that they close for business just after I discover it)

Illamasqua's "Motto" eyebrow colour is the perfect cool taupe shade for filling in my weird sparse brows, and I was glad to find it this year after my supply of Asia-only Skin Food stuff dwindled

Collection 2000 scored a surprise hit with me when they released Lasting Perfection concealer, now my daily staple and costs less than £4: V GOOD

Finally, I have to give a massive dollop of kudos to Naked Bodycare for all their SLS-free paraben-free cruelty-free products, which also just happen to smell divine and work wonderfully. (It's a new day in Baltimore, people.) Check them out here

So there you have it - my 2009-in-beauty. Here's to another year of awesome adventures in 2010!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Review: NYX Round Lipstick

A pre-Christmas swap with the lovely Charlotte yielded a lipstick from a brand I'd never tried before - NYX Round Lipstick in a beautiful red called Chaos. The name of the product might not be particularly inspiring, but the product itself certainly is!

Firstly, the application of this lipstick is fantastic. It's incredibly smooth; feels very moisturising as it glides onto the lips. The pigmentation is also brilliant - fully opaque colour in one swipe. It feels very comfortable on the lips; at the beginning almost too moist - I started to worry that it would come off on everything - but after five minutes or so it dried down a little.

By far the most impressive thing about this lipstick is the wear. It's so impressive that I felt compelled to take several photos throughout a day to demonstrate how long one application lasts.

On the right, we have a photo of Chaos freshly applied at 2pm, and photographed in natural light. The colour is a lovely blue red with fushia undertones and you can see how full the coverage is. Lips look (and felt) moist and smooth.

4 hours later, and it's no longer light outside. I've had several cups of coffee, quite a bit of water, and an apple. The colour is still going on strong; the lips don't look quite so moist, but they are still comfortable and don't feel overly dry.

At 9pm, after a couple more drinks and a bagel deli dinner, I finally feel that my lips feel too dry and wipe the remaining lipstick off. The colour is still fairly evident, although any moistness has long since dissipated. To be fair though, this is a whole 7 hours after application with no touch ups.

What strikes me is that the colour is still so even - I don't mind lipstick that fades, it's unavoidable, but I dislike being left with a stupid ring of lipstick around the edges of my lips.

In short - this stuff rocks. It lasts for a long while, it's pigmented, it's moist - it's rocketed up to being one of my favourite lipsticks already. I might even stop immediately going to MAC when I want a new lipstick (shock horror). And guess how much it costs?

$3.50. Incredible. I immediately went to Cherry Culture (who ship to the UK) and bought a few more - they're currently on offer for $1.75. If you're a lipstick lover, I highly recommend you try these out.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Lovely Things: Blistex Intensive Moisturiser

Every winter, my lips become painfully dry and cracked. And every winter, I buy a Blistex Intensive Moisturiser to treat them with - it's exactly what you need when your lips are so dry that normal balm does nothing.

This little tube of intensely moisturising cream is not pleasurable to use, really - it has a fairly medicated scent, and a thick cream consistency that doesn't leave the lips looking as pretty as say, that rose tinted Vaseline does. But it does heal cracks and soothe extreme dryness. Without this, I wouldn't be able to wear lipstick or gloss at all in winter.

One tiny tube costs £2.39 and contains plenty to get you through the winter period; probably it would last you two winter periods, but I always end up losing mine, and purchasing a new one the following year!

If you'd like to try this for yourself, you can find it at for £2.39 for 5g.

NOTD: OPI Designer Series in Vintage

Inspired by MizzWorthy, who has picked up another shade from the range! I don't usually go for colours that are flesh toned (it's paler sans flash) or peachy, but I made an exception for this OPI Designer polish, in Vintage. It has that gorgeous holographic sparkle that's so pretty.

It's also helping me to slightly get over the lack of amazingly blingy glitters on our shores.

Time for a gratuitous close up!

If you'd like to try one of these yourself, you can find them plentifully on eBay from £8 to £16 - the RRP is usually £16.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Naked Launch Facebook Page; Give Away Hamper

Naked Bodycare, maker of a few things I've reviewed recently, are currently running a competition to boost their Facebook fan numbers. Become a fan on Facebook, and then send an email with your name, address, and the date you became a fan to nakedcompetition(at) The first 100 people to email in will be entered into the draw for a hamper of Naked products worth £50.

Personally, I love Naked, especially for their lovely silicone free conditioners, so I'll definitely be taking part. No word on exactly when the competition ends (presumably when 100 people have emailed in), but in vague terms I think this'll end just before Christmas.

Review: Laura Mercier Thickening and Building Mascara

A while back, I had a makeover at Laura Mercier, and one of the things I walked away with was the Thickening and Building mascara, in black. I can't find a decent pack shot, so we'll go straight into the in-use pictures - the photo on the left is after two coats.

The mascara has a fairly fat brush with dense bristles - nothing particularly unusual or gimicky. The number of bristles helps to really grab each lash and coat it with mascara, whilst giving good separation too. The formula of the mascara itself works really well with the brush; it's thick, but also fairly slow-drying, so you can make sure your lashes are evenly coated and not clumpy before it dries. So, thumbs up for the formula and the brush.

The description given on the Space NK website claims that this mascara is waterproof. It is not. I dampened my fingers and pressed them against my eyelashes and immediately my eye was a runny black mess. The description also claims that the formula is "smudge and flake resistant", and as illustrated by the photo to the right, this is also not true. After a days wear, my under eye area had both flakes and smudges galore, more than I've had with any mascara in the past.

So, although I love the formula, the brush, and the effect of this mascara, the terrible wear really ruins the whole product for me. When paying for a premium brand, I expect the whole package, and this just doesn't have it!

If you'd like to try this for yourself, you can get it at Space NK, for £15.66 for 5.7g.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

EOTD - silver and green

This hasn't photographed too well, but the idea was to mix chartreuse green on the lid with blue-ish opaque silver in the inner corners. I started out with matte green to contrast the silver in texture as well as colour, but it didn't show up in the photos, so I went over it with a shimmer chartreuse instead.

MAC Bitter, Chartreuse pigment, Phloof to highlight.
Urban Decay Strip
Milani Clover (crease colour)
I finished it with NYX Doll Eyes Volume mascara on top and bottom lashes.

Somewhat meh... I think I need better lighting!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Christmas commercialism

There has been a subtle shift in the market's approach to Christmas in recent years. Five years ago, there was no question of getting anything cheap in the run up to Christmas (with perhaps the exception of the Boots 3 for 2 gifts offer). They knew we were going to get presents for our friends and families, and they knew we'd pay full price for them.

Nowadays, companies are falling over themselves to secure their share of your Christmas shopping budget. Competition over those pennies you've been putting aside to treat your loved ones is fierce. The power is definitely in the hands of the consumer.

Which for those of us who love to shop, is of course great news. There are tons of online discounts and deals around right now, with Illamasqua offering a free "Adamant" purple-grey eye pencil with £40 spend and free shipping over £65 until December 17th. MAC has introduced free shipping until midnight tonight (Code: FREESHIP09), and HQ Hair, as Gemma notes below, have knocked 25% off everything in the bid to be your one-stop Christmas shop for hair and beauty.

It's just my luck that this year my purse strings have to be tighter than ever before... although I do have at least one beauty gift that I know is heading my way. (NB I know because I already bought it and gave to my boyfriend to wrap up!)

NARS Everlasting Love palette. It's a limited edition for this Christmas, and it also marks the brand's 15th anniversary. I've always wanted a NARS palette, and when it came to choosing between the Wild at Heart version (red lips and neutral eyes) and Everlasting Love, which has smokey eye shades and neutral lips, there was absolutely no contest. Shades are Edie, Underworld (duo) and Night Breed for eyes, and Chelsea Girls, Dolce Vita, Belle de Jour and Promiscuous for lips. There's also a pan of The Multiple in South Beach and an Orgasm Blush (so I finally get a real benchmark for all the dupes I've been amassing). It costs (cringe) £49. I hope I am worth it.

At least NARS are also offering free shipping until 17th December on orders over £25 - i.e. with pretty much any purchase of 2 or more items.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Very, VERY Glittery Polishes

At the moment, there's one type of product I'm desperately lusting after - the glitter nail polish. And not sparsely glittered, subtle glitter polish, oh no.

On the left we have the Lippmann Collection's Happy Birthday, which contains large multicoloured glitters in a clear base. Blingy, ultra-sparkly, very noticable. And, it seems, impossible to get over here.

On the right, one of Le Chat nails (no, I'd not heard of them either) Disco Tech collection - aptly subtitled "Dare to Wear", in Techno Beat. I've been dribbling over this since Polish or Perish posted swatches. A kind commenter provided me with a shop that'd post them to me - for about $40 (NOT including the polish). Sigh.

Do the Americans have the monopoly on seriously glittery polish? Or are there some available-in-the-UK brands that might satiate my needs here?

Fun with Collection 2000 Glam Crystal Gel Liner

If I had any glamourous Christmas parties to go to, this is the eye look I'd be rocking. I wore my Collection 2000 glitter liner to work yesterday, and in the evening got to thinking about what else I could do with it.

The look on the right is a light application of MAC Deep Truth eyeshadow (a shimmery deep blue), with a coat of Collection 2000 glitter liner in Hustle (silvery gel with silver/multi glitter) over the top. A coupla coats of mascara (or falsies, for extra drama), some white liner in the corner, and black kohl to waterline and tightline, and the effect is pretty intense, but not over the top (in my glitter-infused world, at least).

This looks quite subtle with the eye open (mostly thanks to my hooded lids) but the full glitter effect can be seen with the eye shut. Another bonus is that this only takes a couple of minutes to do; no complex blending involved, and only one shadow.

The Collection 2000 liner really is budge-proof and won't flake, so no ending up with glitter under the eye or all over the cheekbone. Well, until you take it off, which is another matter, glitter liners being a bugger to completely eliminate.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

25% Off at

It seems to be a good day for sales - and for us consumers, a good day for shopping!

Use the code SAVE25 at checkout to get 25% off your entire order. No idea when this runs out, so I'll be buying some last minute Christmas presents and maybe something for myself today.

Nails Inc at Secret Sales NOW!

There's a Nails Inc sale going on over at at the moment; only one thing is currently sold out, but I imagine that that'll be changing rather soon.

The large Lucky Dip Box on the left is reduced to £20 from £50. Bit of a bargain. Other items such as smaller sets and single polishes are available, but this isn't the biggest sale I've ever seen, with only 7 items currently available.

Head to and sign up if you want to take advantage; the sale ends at midnight Thursday.

Favourite Things: Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator

With a name like Sparkle Skin, you'd be expecting a shimmer-laden body lotion, but this classic Clinque product is a fabulous body exfoliator.

While the scent might not be to everyone's liking (I find it inoffensive but not particularly pleasant), there's no doubt that using this scrub is a very refreshing experience, due to the menthol content. Not only does it smell sharp and menthol-y, it also feels very cool on the skin - not in a cold way, but in an invigorating, wake-up kind of way.

The exfoliating beads in this are fairly large and effective, but not so rough that they scratch the skin. After use, my skin always feels soft and smooth, but never over-exfoliated. The formula is gel-based, and this stops the product from running/falling off your hands or melting away in the shower too quickly. A surprisingly small amount goes a long way too; I've been using mine about once a month for a year, and there's still about a third left.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can buy it from for £15 for 200ml. It's also usually available with the Deep Comfort body cream at Christmas, in a cute little set which includes travel sizes - sold out online, but probably available in store.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Review - Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser

This product was sent to us free of charge for review.

The phrase "cold cream" probably occupies a similar place in most people's minds to "girdle", "curling tongs", "Epsom salts" and "hairpiece". It is at the very least a definite "blast from the past".

However, we were prepared to be convinced that Ponds Cold Cream had a place in the beauty regime of the 21st Century, and we put it through its paces in the four ways suggested to us by the manufacturers.

First and foremost - as a cleanser and makeup remover, Cold Cream does an excellent job of gently dissolving eyemakeup, foundation and lipstick. Applied liberally to the face, the oil-based cream formula happily obliterates all cosmetics in its path. It is removed with cotton wool (or tissues in your gran's day) and takes your makeup straight off with it. For a more indulgent experience, it can be removed with a warm damp facecloth - feels lovely!
The skin is left with a slight oily residue. I would definitely use this as a skin-friendly way to take off heavy slap, but I'd also follow with an alcohol-free toner to "tidy up".

Used as handcream, Cold Cream is definitely serviceable. I wouldn't use it as a day to day desktop-type hand cream because it is greasy as all heck on your hands if you're actually trying to do something with them! As a nourishing "mask" type of application, I think it would be a great way to nurture wind-chapped hands and sore knuckles, especially at this time of year.

Which brings us to the third use, as a mask. Gemma has been the guinea pig on this one and she found that it was a great saviour for her dehydrated post-holiday skin. She also loves the rosy scent of it and plans to keep a jar of it handy in future.

So I think it's fair to say that overall we are rather impressed by this vintage item - humble though its £3.99 price-point may be, it's a great fail-safe for heavy-duty makeup removal, general cleansing and a bit of budget facemask luxury.

Verdict - we gladly join our forebears in the noble Cold Cream tradition!

Buy Ponds Cold Cream from Boots, Superdrug, Wilkinsons, John Lewis, Asda and most supermarkets and chemists. You can order it online from Boots too.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Boots Offer 750 Points With 3 Premium Beauty Purchases

Well, that's a catchy title.

It's a really good deal though. 750 Advantage Card points is £7.50 worth of free money (well, that's how I see it anyway), and you can get it by buying three things from any of the following ranges:
  • Benefit
  • Biotherm
  • Chanel
  • Clarins
  • Clinique
  • Dior
  • Elizabeth Arden
  • Estee Lauder
  • Lancome
  • Origins
  • YSL
I really like that this offer runs across several brands - often I'm hard pushed to find 3 things I don't already have need within the one line.

The offer runs until Christmas Eve on

Review: Barbara Daly Make-Up Souffle Blush

Continuing my habit of picking up little beauty buys at Tesco, here we have a Barbara Daly for Tesco souffle blush in Rose.

I'll be honest; I've never really understood the whole mousse/souffle makeup texture thing. I didn't buy into the revolutionary Maybelline Dream Mousse foundation thing, partially because they never quite went pale enough for my skin. But I digress. The reason I chose to try this souffle textured blush is mostly because I'm starting to feel like I repeatedly buy the same stuff over and over again, and I wanted to try something different.

I'm quite glad I did, in this case. The souffle texture translates into a little pot of what is essentially a very light and airy cream blush which is incredibly blendable. A couple of dabs applied to the cheeks and patted in gives a very natural and subtle flush, and once it's blended in, you can't feel it sitting on the skin. This is fabulous in my book; I hate cream blushers that leave a greasy residue. This stuff is also easily layerable, and with no sparkle or shimmer in the finish, it's ideal for a natural look, or for when you are wearing a lot of glitter on your eyes.

The only downside, I think, is the size of the pot. On the right, we have the little tiny souffle blush pot sat next to a Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner pot. And it's seriously tiny for a cheek product. Given that the product costs £5, on the surface you're not getting a great deal here, for a high street brand. However, as you need so little of the stuff to get a pretty flush, it should last a long time.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can get it at Tesco for around £5 (and they're doing 3 for 2 across a wide range of cosmetics at the moment, so even better).

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Review - NYX Doll Eye Volume mascara

I have found a truly excellent mascara.

Here it is.

And here's what it did for my lashes.

And that is just one coat!

NYX Doll Eye Volume mascara has a wonderful, creamy, thick, un-clumpy formula that applies auperbly. On top of that, it has one of the most ergonomic brushes I have ever seen. The shape of the brush head is sort of "waisted", so that it conforms to the curve of your eyelid. This means that it's easy for the long bristles at each end to catch the lashes at inner and outer corners of the eye, and in the centre you can get in close to the roots without sploging mascara on the eyelid above your lashes.

An absolute pleasure to use.

Sadly, NYX is hard to find in the UK. I picked up Doll Eye Volume mascara at a little outlet in Slough of all places, situated in the Queensmere Observatory. It was priced at £5.99.

You can puchase it online at, who ship to the UK. Or if you're very lucky, you may end up winning some in our upcoming US Beauty giveaway competition...

In any case, take any opportunity to get your hands on this product, it's a total bargain and performs well beyond expectations for its price range.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Review: Naked Frizz Fighter Smoothing Serum

When I gave up using silicone, I resigned myself to not using serum again, as most formulations are very silicone heavy. However, I discovered that Naked Bodycare make two serums, both silicone free - Frizz Fighter, and Extra Shiny. I picked up both, and today I'm reviewing the Frizz Fighter variety.

The most stand out feature of this product is the consistency. Silicone based serums are smooth, silky, and fluid. This one, however, is sort of like a soft, non-sticky gel. It comes out of the bottle in blobs, not in a little puddle of serum like I'm used to, but once it's been spread out it feels much like a silicone serum, albeit one with less slip.

I apply this to my wet hair, along the mid-lengths and ends. A small amount goes a long way - although I don't think it would be particularly easy to overdose on this, as it is quite light textured and absorbable - if you spread a bit on the back of your hand, it's absorbed into the skin quite quickly.

I don't think that this has a huge effect on frizz when applied to wet hair - while it certainly lubricates the hair and adds some moisture, the effect on frizz is fairly minimal. Applying a small amount to dry hair smoothes down any flyaways and imparts a bit more moisture, with pretty much the same effect as with the Extra Shiny serum.

For me, this isn't a HG product - it's nice, and if you're looking for a very light, non-oily serum, or looking for a bit more moisture post-wash, then it might be a good buy. Don't go expecting a major decrease in frizz though.

If you'd like to try this one for yourself, you can get it for £4.99 for 50ml from Boots or from Naked's website.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Free Parisian Nights gift from Boots 17

How I love Boots 17 gwp goodies! They bring thrifty joy to my lunch break.

The current one is a boxed set containing Glitter eyeshadow in "Spirit" (charcoal), Lasting Fix nail polish in "Royal Indigo" (deep warm purple) and a black "Maximum Volume" mascara, all packaged up so nicely that I don't want to open it.

The set would actually make a great stocking filler.

And as it's free when you spend six pounds or more, it presents the ideal excuse to treat yourself too.

Limited Edition with Swarovski Crystals

Is it just me, or are a lot of "limited edition" products coming on to the market, curiously in time for Christmas, with Swarovski crystals stuck to them?

Nails Inc have released three "crystal" nail polishes, which are no different to their other polishes, but have many Swarovski crystals on the lid. These are £15 each, so the added bling costs you an extra £4.50 on the usual price of a polish.

Now, call me strange if you like, but my nail polishes live in my house. In my office, actually, so I can paint my nails while I'm on conference calls. I don't really get why I'd want some beautifully embellished nail polish bottles to look at while I'm at home. They aren't art. They aren't adornment either; if something's covered in crystals, I want to be able to take it out with me, preferably attach it to myself in some way, and look at it frequently.

Similarly, Liberty's exclusive Tweezerman tweezers, embellished with purple Swarovski crystals are indeed very pretty. But they cost £75, about £55 more than your average Tweezerman. And again; my tweezers live in my bathroom. Paying that much money for something that's used infrequently, always at home, and cannot really be considered an object d'art to be gazed upon... seems a bit odd to me.

Of course, for those with more money than you can shake a (Swarovski encrusted) stick at, it's not really such a big deal. For us mere mortals though, I'm not sure what the added cost of those crystals actually gets us. So I'll be sticking with my un-adorned, non-sparkly normal editions this year.

If you think differently, you can find the Crystal polishes at for £15, and the tweezers at for £75.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Review - Bic Soleil

This product was sent to us free of charge to review.

If there is one thing that truly infuriates me (and there's more than one, trust me) it's paying through the nose for razors and razor cartridges. I'm looking at you, Gilette Venus.

I mean seriously, what are they, made of gold and forged in a secret smithy in the mist of some sacred mountain by monks? Why does it cost me the best part of a tenner to buy four blades with which to shave my hairy calves? Why?

Owing to this long-standing resentment/bafflement, I was glad to get the chance to try out some razors from the more reasonable end of the pricing scale. Four Soleil disposable razors cost £2.95 - less than half the price of four Venus cartridges.

The variety I received was Soleil "Scent", one of several variants available. The handles of the razors in the packet are various shades of pink purple, each one slightly darker than its neighbour. It's a nice design touch. The "scent" is lavender, and it's included to make the shav
ing experience more luxurious, apparently.

In practice the scent of the handles was mostly eclipsed by the pleasant scent of the shaving ge
l I was also sent to try - a light floral fragrance that I found surprisingly nice for a product from a "budget" range (it costs roughly £3, depending on where you shop). The Soleil shaving gel is called "Lady Gel" (and please excuse me for a moment while I crosscheck that in my Profanisaurus). It proved pleasant to use and definitely allowed for superb razor glide without that strange "tacky" post-soap-like sensation that some shaving foams cause.

However, I discovered midway through shaving that the Soleil razor itself is not a serious
contender for the throne of dastardly Venus - I nicked the back of my leg quite painfully with it. And over the next couple of days the regrowth of hair on my legs generally was unfortunately noticeably quicker than with the Venus.

Verdict - Lady Gel, great. Soleil Scent, not a match for the cruelly expensive market leader.
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