Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Quick Review: Armani Eyes To Kill Mascara

I recently received a sample of Armani's new mascara, Eyes To Kill, with a foundation purchase (more about that later), and I've found myself rationing it out as I know it's going to run out sooner rather than later!

The brush is a refreshing change from the weird and wonderful brushes that mascaras have been appearing with lately - it's tapered, deeply bristled, and long enough that I can cover all my lashes in two swipes; pretty traditional, all things considered.  The formula is lovely - it thickens and lengthens the lashes, and in combination with the deep bristles on the brush, manages to be completely non clumpy too.

Two coats gets you long, lush looking lashes with decent definition.  Another bonus is that the lashes feel pretty soft once the mascara has dried; there's no crispy crunchy feeling here.  It wears well too - no panda eyes after a full twelve hour day in the office.  While admittedly it's not as inky, sooty black as YSL's latest offering, it's a lot easier to remove, coming off cleanly and easily with an oil cleanser.  I'll definitely be buying a tube of this when I reach the end of my current mascara.

Armani's Eyes To Kill mascara costs £23 for 6.9ml, and you can grab it from online.

Last Chance for our Facebook & Followers Giveaway!

Just a gentle reminder that our Facebook and Followers giveaway closes tonight.  The lucky winner, who will bag themselves products including Kiehl's lipbalm, Cargo gloss, and Bourjois mascara, will most likely be announced on Friday!  You can find more info here.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Review - Philosophy Apricots and Cream

Disclosure - PR sample

As a long-term Philosophy addict, I was more than happy when Gemma placed the new Apricots and Cream body emulsion and 3 in 1 on my desk this week. The formats aren't new - 3 in 1 (body wash, bubble bath and shampoo) is one of Philosophy's core products and comes in masses of varieties. The body emulsion also comes in (slightly fewer) variants, perhaps most popularly the Amazing Grace Firming Body Emulsion. What's new is the scent. It's as sweet and fruity as the name suggests - a sugary confection that's perhaps more peach than apricot.

The smell is by far the strongest in the body emulsion, which has been living on my desk at work and doing time as a hand cream. During that time it's attracted the attention of all my neighbouring colleagues as its mouth-watering desserty-fruity scent fills the air. Several people have started coming over to my desk to try it for themselves and everyone agrees it's superbly moisturising. It's packed with a huge number of ingredients, many of them natural in origin. There's no mineral oil in there, nor parabens (see ingredients lists at the end of the review for the full low down). It's also non-sticky. Generally a huge thumbs up for the lotion, which costs £19.75 for a whopping 16oz (around 500ml - 473ml to be exact).

The 3 in 1, in comparison, is quite faintly scented. Not much can be discerned by sniffing the neck of the bottle, and even when lathering up in the shower it's a much more subtle scent experience than the body emulsion. In my experience that subtlety is something common to all the Philosophy 3 in 1s, so I'm not singling this one out in particular. It lathers up very well (and does, alas, contain SLS) and provides a soft, fresh result on the skin. It's not something I'd use as a shampoo myself, because to be honest I'm a bit picky and prefer to shampoo with products that are specifically intended for use on the hair. As a bath foam, it's lack of scent and average longevity of suds make it only an OK performer. I think it works best as a shower gel and will be very happy to use it as such. The 3 in 1 (16oz/473ml)costs £13.

Philosophy Apricots and Cream products are available from Selfridges and QVC. I've also spotted Philosophy in John Lewis. We've been given the number 0870 990 8452 to call for full stockist details.


  • apricots and cream shower gel: water/aqua/eau, sodium laureth sulfate, ppg-2 hydroxyethyl cocamide, lauryl betaine, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, glycerin, glycol stearate, fragrance/parfum, allantoin, aloe barbadensis leaf juice powder, panthenol, camellia sinensis leaf extract, phytosterols, tocopherol, tocotrienols, squalene, oryza sativa (rice) bran wax, prunus armeniaca (apricot) fruit extract, butylene glycol, polyquaternium-7, polyquaternium-10, isostearamidopropyl morpholine lactate, methyl gluceth-20, sodium benzotriazolyl butylphenol sulfonate, buteth-3, tributyl citrate, sodium chloride, citric acid, tetrasodium edta, linalool, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, yellow 5 (ci 19140), red 33 (ci 17200), yellow 6 (ci 15985).

  • apricots and cream body lotion: water/aqua/eau, macadamia ternifolia seed oil, pentaerythrityl tetracaprylate/tetracaprate, glycerin, glyceryl stearate se, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, dimethicone, fragrance/parfum, cetearyl alcohol, cyclopentasiloxane, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), cetyl alcohol, polysorbate 60, dimethiconol, phytosterols, tocopherol, tocotrienols, squalene, oryza sativa (rice) bran wax, prunus armeniaca (apricot) fruit extract, potassium ascorbyl tocopheryl phosphate, tris (tetramethylhydroxypiperidionol) citrate, benzotriazolyl dodecyl p-cresol, acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, capryloyl glycine, stearic acid, sodium hydroxide, xanthan gum, tetrasodium edta, limonene, linalool, chlorphenesin, butylene glycol, yellow 5 (ci 19140), yellow 6 (ci 15985), red 33 (ci 17200).

  • Monday, 28 June 2010

    Review: Ellis Faas Ellis Eyes - Light

    Ellis Faas' range of beautifully packaged products has attracted a fair bit of attention since its launch.  The prime selling point of the range (aside from the very elegant packaging) is that the shades are all based on colours from the body, making them pretty much wearable for everyone.  I'd not yet indulged because, well, I love bright colours, preferably with as much sparkle as possible.  So when I popped into Liberty the other day and happened to swatch the new Light colours, which are metallic and sparkly, I had to buy one.  I chose 304, a beautiful metallic mid purple.

    My first attempt with it was a bit of a washout, to be honest.  Under that shiny silver cap lurks a brush tip, and you turn the end to dispense product into the brush.  I had to turn the end about twenty five times to get the product flowing initially, by which time I was starting to get annoyed, and naturally ended up with too much coming out of the pen.  Once I managed to get it near my eyes, I found the creamy shadow to be very blendable and easy to sheer out, but of the variety that dries down so quickly that you have to blend very fast indeed to avoid getting a hard line.

    As usual for me, my first try was without primer, as I'm always hoping that the next cream product I try will be the one to set properly and stay properly on my oily lids.  Unfortunately, Ellis Eyes Light isn't that product.  After a day's wear I found that most of the shadow had flaked away, leaving me with patchy looking eyelids and a lovely purple sparkly shadow under my eye.

    My next attempt was over some of my trusty UDPP, which made a massive difference; the colour stayed on my eyelids, and there was significantly less flake-age.  There was still a little, though, which disappointed me - for this kind of price (£22), I expect better performance.

    But... look at that colour.  It's a lovely, flattering shade of mid-purple, which will do wonderful things for those of you with green or hazel eyes.  The finish is distinctly metallic and sparkly, and is very eye catching.  So eye catching, in fact, that my little brother even noticed and commented on it - very impressive.

    Although I absolutely love the colour and the finish of this product, I won't be repurchasing it in more colours.  The reason?  The packaging.  Pretty as it might be, it's not particularly functional; with a product that sets this fast, a brush applicator makes little sense, as you really need to blend quickly with your fingertips.  When I didn't use it for a couple of days, the product residue in the base of the brush tip dries up, and when I came to dispense some more, I couldn't get any product out into the brush.  Then, a big blob came out, leaving me blending wildly to avoid wastage and to avoid purple sparkle up to my eyebrows!

    If you'd like to try this product out for yourself, you can get it from Liberty - it's not yet available online at the Liberty site or at the Ellis Faas site, although I imagine it will be soon.  £22 will get you a tiny 2.5ml.

    Sunday, 27 June 2010

    Cherry Culture Sale - 20% off until June 30th

    This has just landed in my inbox, and very welcome it is too - our favo(u)rite US online store are running another of their 20% off sales, adding an extra dose of discount to their already very reasonable prices. Use the code GRS20 at the checkout to take advantage.

    Our pick, as ever, are the NYX Round Lipsticks, currently $2.25 each. If you're browsing the site, check out the Summer Sale they're currently running too.

    Click on the picture to be taken directly to the Cherry Culture site.

    Friday, 25 June 2010

    The return of Urban Decay's Face Case

    I was quite excited when I visited Urban Decay's US website and saw that the Face Case has been reincarnated in a new purple guise.

    The Urban Decay Face Case is a product close to my heart. The Pin Up/First Date Face Case circa 2001 was my first ever Urban Decay purchase, and I went on to collect several more of the old-version silver compacts. I was a student then and had minimal disposable income, so spending £20 on a palette felt wildly extravagant and as a result, very exciting.

    The old Face Cases were wonderful palettes, with 4 eyeshadows, 4 lip products and a blush all packed neatly into a robust grey embossed compact. There was a large sturdy mirror, along with a handy well for tools. (They did come with foam applicators, but I guess nobody is perfect.) Here are a couple of examples from my collection.

    Time passed, and the old Face Cases stopped being sold in around 2004. There was a brief re-appearance for the Face Case in the mid '00s, when it was resurrected as a rather girly cardboard packaged effort, in just one neutral-ish colourway. It was an OK palette but it didn't even come close to the original. I bought it, but I can't lie to you - I never loved it like I shoulda.

    The new one looks more promising. It's plastic rather than cardboard, with the same hinged, clasped lid as its predecessors and decent looking mirror covering the whole inside of the lid. The colours aren't totally blowing me away at first glance, and the eyeshadows (always my first point of reference) aren't especially strong. There's Grifter, a nice enough lilac that's tragically infested with a ton of glitter, Twice Baked, a nice deep brown shimmer, and that darned infuriating glittery Midnight bloody Cowboy (Rides Again version this time), which apparently we're to be plagued with forever more if we want to buy UD palettes.

     Looking up though, there's a brand new limited edition blush in "Hookup", which appears as a very generous sized pan with embossed surface. There are also three good-sized wells containing XXX-shine lipglosses in Naked, Love Junkie and the beautiful Carney. There's also a double-ended brush that looks like it's made with actual proper fibres - definitely an improvement on the sponge-tips of yore.

    No idea when or if we'll see this in the UK, but it's one to look out for on eBay. The US RRP is a very reasonable $14.00, and it can be purchased here.

    Thursday, 24 June 2010

    Penhaligon's Fragrance Profiling

    Walking into Penhaligon's Kings Road store is akin to walking into a traditional library from a busy street; panelled in dark woods, and with a calm, quiet interior, it's a luxurious and tranquil space.  I'd been invited along for a Fragrance Profiling appointment, where Anne, one of Penhaligon's experienced and knowledgable staff, would take me through their famous perfumes and help me to select one that suited me perfectly.

    The experience started with a few slightly strange questions, including asking about my favourite fabrics, which immediately made me feel that this was to be a much more personal fragrance sampling experience than I'd experienced before.  Not that that was a particularly difficult task, given that your average department store fragrance hunt for me involves spritzing myself with things I like the look of, until I can barely smell one from the other.

    Anyway - as I sat on the red velvet chaise longue, having been presented with a glass of champagne complete with floating strawberry (to cleanse my olfactory senses after five or six sniffings), I was talked through the four loose groupings that the Penhaligon's scents fall into.  Then, the real fun began - I was given two perfumes at a time to sniff from pre-spritzed perfumer's paper strips.  This, I was told, was to ensure that I got an impression of the dried down scent, as opposed to the immediately smellable headnotes you first smell when a perfume has been freshly sprayed.  As I went through, choosing my favourite from each pair, listening to the back story behind each scent, Anne was slowly narrowing down the selection and getting an idea for what I'd like the most.

    She was spot on - predicting which scent out of a pair I'd like most, and discarding a few that I'd been less than enthusiastic about at the beginning of the session.  After numerous sniffings (and numerous sips of champagne to cleanse my palate), we'd narrowed the selection down to three scents, all of which had the deep, exotic, Oriental notes I love in a fragrance.

    Anne then took me through the process of layering my favourite scent using the products available.  She scrubbed my hand and forearm, applied some scented massage oil, and finished with a spritz of fragrance on one arm, and simply applied the perfume to the other, so I could smell the difference in depth.

    Finally, armed with a bag of samples and with a delicious cloud of scent in my nostrils, I went back to work.  I've worked my way through a few of the three final contenders in the last two weeks - and I'll be going back to buy Elixir, my very favourite, very soon.

    If you're at all interested in fragrance and want to learn a bit more about it, or wish to choose a new fragrance unhindered by the usual marketing hype which goes hand in hand with big fragrance houses nowadays, it's well worth making an appointment with Penhaligon's - not only will you learn lots, but you might just find the perfect fragrance for you.  The service is complimentary, and at some locations includes a glass of champagne and a 10% discount on any product you wish to purchase (over £70 - ouch) - check with the individual store before booking.

    Wednesday, 23 June 2010

    SpaceNK SALE!

    Just a quick post to let you know that SpaceNK's sale - starting tomorrow in store - is now previewing online.

    Looks like most of the Jemma Kidd and Lubatti ranges are selling at about 50% off.  Most excitingly, NUDE's cult Cleansing Oil is selling at just £14 (usually £24) - I'll definitely be heading in store for that one.

    Given that SpaceNK often offer sale prices of 50% off for lines they are discontinuing - I'm thinking Sonia Kashuk brushes last year - maybe this signals the end of Jemma Kidd and Lubatti at SpaceNK.

    Either way, if you fancy a few bargains from either brand, now's the time!

    Thursday's Mobdeal: Something A Little Bit Fishy....

    Wahanda have given us a little heads up on Thursday's Mobdeal, and it's guaranteed to make a big splash.  If you've heard of the infamous fish pedicure, during which little toothless fishes nibble at the sole of your feet while you perch by the water's edge... well, it's come to London.  And on Thursday, you can give this new and slightly scary treatment a go for the very tiny price of 12 squid (usually £30!).

    Situated in Kensington, Aqua Sheko is the city's first fish spa, and it certainly looks high end - moodily lit, it almost looks like a trendy bar, apart from the presence of the fish tanks.

    The deal will appear on Wahanda's site first thing on Thursday morning, and as always lasts only one day, so you'd best get your skates on.  If you do sign up, you cod choose to do so through our link - - we'll get a referral gift voucher if you do (which would be nice, but don't feel that you have to!).  Feel free to post a comment with your own referral link in the comments if you like.

    Will you be diving in at the deep end and trying it out, or will you mullet over?  Innovative and exciting or a load of old pollacks? I'm incredibly interested, and although the idea makes me cringe a little, I'm definitely buying into this!

    (I apologise for the number of terrible fish puns in this post.  In my defense, I just couldn't kelp myself).

    Review - YSL Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils Noir Radical

    Disclosure - PR sample

    I make a slightly odd test subject for posh mascaras - mainly because I never, ever buy them. I struggle with the idea of paying more than a tenner for a mascara, which I see as a short-term prospect because of the "throw it out after 6 months" thing. I know not everybody does this, but I do, or rather I try to. My obstinate refusal to throw something expensive out after a short time means that I've never taken the plunge and joined the ranks of the Diorshow and Hypnose devotees.

    YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Noir Radical definitely belongs in the "high end" mascara bracket, with an RRP of £21.50. (However, I've just found the brown variant rather cheaper here.)

    What makes it special? Well, I can't resist the temptation to quote another of YSL's deliciously overblown promotional texts:

    "The legendary Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils has metamorphosized into a dangerous weapon of seduction. Now eyelashes are sheathed in radical black for dangerously intense, magnetic eyes….

    BLACK - The signature colour of Yves Saint Laurent, black reveals its intonations and intentions in a host of YSL iconic creations. Dense, powerful, exalted black, Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils now reveals unique depths thanks to intense mineral pigments and a triple film complex for;

    - Breathtaking volume: a coating film thickens each lash to create spectacular effects

    - Gorgeous curl: a conditioning film sheathes the lashes without clumping to maximise the curling effect of the brush
    - Extra long hold: a stabilizing film forms an invisible, vinyl polymer shield that maintains the colour without stiffening the lashes, and boosts its lasting qualities

    A complex of bio-active sugars of plant origin with pro-vitamin B5 forms a moisture-preserving barrier on the lashes to more effectively protect them." 

    So basically it's an incredibly massively BLACK new version of the pre-existing Effet Faux Cils mascara.

    The dangerous weapon of seduction comes in a heavy, shiny gold tube. The lid and the barrel are slightly different tones, which gives it quite a nice eye-catching look. However I just don't get the whole gold blingy thing. I just don't like it. Again, I find myself wishing that the tube was silver, or chrome, or even metallic black. But that's YSL, it's how they roll, so fair play to them. A lot of people must love the gold look, because this is an extremely coveted and prestigious brand.

    Lid off, the wand is fairly unexceptional to look at. Not for YSL the plastic combs, bendy rubber spindles or other bells and whistles favoured by high street mascara manufacturers. It's just a dense, straight fibre brush on a standard-length wand.

    The claims about curl and hold are probably best tested in conjunction with an eyelash curler and a set of fairly straight lashes. I have a natural curl, so I can't comment on whether one is constructed or maintained by this product, sadly. However I can confirm that re. the third claim above, my lashes do certainly feel soft and flexible even after applying a few layers of this mascara.

    The USP of being EXTREMELY BLACK is indeed what stands out most about this product. It's incredibly pigmented. It's the blackest mascara I have ever used (and I've used many). It's like midnight on the blackest night at the bottom of a well that goes thousands of feet deep. It's so black that it will put your darkest, heaviest eyeliner to shame and make it look like a pitiful grey smudge.

    It covers well and it builds up pretty evenly. As you can see from the pictures (which show me wearing two coats) there's a hint of spider-leg if you're not careful, but it's great fun to build it up and see how black and huge your lashes can go. A lash-comb between coats is advised.

    Despite the positively lethal amount of pigment it packs, this mascara is brilliant at staying put. It doesn't smudge unless you really provoke it with tears or eye-rubbing. The only issue I have with it is removal. Because it's so black it makes a dreadful mess when you take it off and clings to the lashes very stubbornly. If you use a muslin cloth with your cleanser, the entire thing will be covered in black by the time you've finished. In short - be aware when you put this on that you'll need to dedicate a bit of time and effort to removing it thoroughly.

    Verdict: This stuff definitely does what it says on the tin. It's supremely black, comfortable to wear, and reliable. An excellent purchase for special occasions. For me, it's distinctive enough to justify the price if you want to go all out.

    NB A previous review highlighted some concerns about animal testing and L'Oreal (YSL's parent company). Please see this post for L'Oreal's statement on this issue.

    Tuesday, 22 June 2010

    Review: Elemis Nourishing Milk Bath

    Disclosure:  This was sent as a PR sample.

    Ah, Elemis - makers of the famous (and expensive) Marine Cream and of the less famous (and expensive) Papaya Enzyme Peel.  If ever there was a brand associated with high end spa treatments and Serious Skincare, then for me it's Elemis.  I've tried out a few of their skincare items before, but hadn't ever ventured into the range of bath products, so I was very happy to receive a bottle of the Nourishing Milk Bath.

    Designed for very dry and sensitive skin, this isn't just a bath product - it's so moisturising, you can use it as a very rich body lotion too.  As a bath additive, you simply dose 5 capfuls into running water and soak, feeling much like Cleopatra bathing in asses milk.  Except, you know, with no asses involved.  As a lover of all things bath, I really enjoyed using this product - it is indeed very rich, turning the water milky and opaque, and making it very, very soft without being at all oily. When I emerged from the bath my skin was noticeably softer, without any residue whatsoever.

    Scent wise, it's pretty luxurious - delicate, a bit biscuity, slightly malty - and very relaxing.  So much so that for the first time in my life I fell asleep in the bath.  Possibly a sign that I need to go to bed earlier rather than that the Milk Bath is a sedative - but using this at bedtime will certainly set you up nicely for a good night's kip.

    I've tried applying this product neat to dry patches and am pleased to report that it definitely does help to inject some much needed moisture, leaving my elbows feeling soft and smooth.  I imagine that this would be a good product to try out for anyone with dry, sensitive skin, and London Makeup Girl tells me that it's also wonderfully soothing on itchy, stressed pregnancy skin.

    Now, this being an Elemis product, it is fairly expensive.  For £39 (a lot to pay for a bath milk), you get a generously sized 400ml bottle.  Although you're quite likely to burn through it quickly if you use 5 capfuls every day for 12 days, as the bottle suggests, if you have dry, sensitive skin and it does provide some improvement, the cash outlay might look like a small price to pay.  For me though, this is a lovely, relaxing bath milk which is beautifully softening - and one which I'll be saving for when I need extra pampering.  I'd love to hear if any of you with drier skin have tried this before!

    If you'd like to try Elemis' Nourishing Milk Bath, you can find it at Time to Spa, where it will cost you £39 for 400ml.

    Monday, 21 June 2010

    Packaging Watch: Urban Decay Primer Potion

    Almost a year ago I cut up a "finished" UDPP tube and found a sample pot worth of product which I'd not been able to get to with the standard straight applicator.  At the time, a lot of bloggers were busy cutting up their tubes and berating Urban Decay for their wasteful packaging.  UD's response was to introduce a slanted applicator, which in theory would allow you to access more of the product in the tube.

    So, when I recently finished off my UDPP with the enhanced slanted tip, I thought I'd cut it up again to see if it did indeed make a difference.

    The first cut, and it's not looking so good.  There's a whole load of product lurking directly underneath the mouth of the tube, even though I've been twirling the slanted applicator in an attempt to get at the product in the bulge.  I proceeded to cut off the end and transfer the remaining product into a sample pot.

    After scraping the product out of the tube (and discarding the stuff immediately next to the plastic edges I cut, as they contained little bits of plastic), I ended up with a full sample pot.  Again.  It seems that the slanted applicator tip has in fact made bugger all difference to the wastage in the prettily shaped tube.

    Oi, you, Urban Decay!  Please put UDPP in a squeezy tube!

    Sunday, 20 June 2010

    NOTD - Sleek "Nailed" polish in Turquoise

    After several years as a niche brand catering particularly to women with dark skintones, Sleek have branched out and become a major drugtore player with shades to suit anyone/everyone. Perhaps their best-known product is the i-Divine palette, but there's plenty more tricks up their sleeve. They're busily expanding their range, and the "Nailed" polishes are the latest addition.

    I picked up "Turquoise" (aka shade 19), one of 30 bright, classic and neutral shades available from the range. My local Superdrug only had a handful and this was easily the standout, but after perusing the shades on the website, I'm also tempted by the bright orange "Burnt Amber" and greigey "Truffle" colours they're offering.

    The brush that comes with the bottle is pretty standard - it's not one of those user-friendly flattened brushes, unfortunately, but it does an OK job. The formula, with "Turquoise" at least, is thick to the point of gloopy, and very tricky to apply without dragging or leaving an uneven finish. Sleek say that "Nailed" polishes "provide complete coverage with only one stroke", but I'm afraid that as far as I can see this is a massive fib. It took me three coats to get a reasonably even, opaque result.

    Hard work pays off however - this is one of the longest-wearing nail polishes I've ever owned. It actually stayed on long enough that I started to see bare patches by my cuticles where it had started to grow out. You may be able to see this in the second photo, which was taken after four days of wear. Pretty much unheard of for me (except on my toenails). I'm extremely impressed to get this result from a £3.49 polish.

    You can buy the full range of nail colours direct from the Sleek website at £3.49 each. Sleek is also available from Superdrug, however the Nailed polishes are not currently on the website. (You can find them in stores though.)

    Friday, 18 June 2010

    A Little Reminder...

    Don't forget to enter our latest competition, where you could win a rather lovely set of prizes including Kiehl's lip balm, Cargo lipgloss, and Bourjois mascara just by liking us on Facebook or following us through Google Friend Connect.  Head over to the competition post to see the prizes!

    Thursday, 17 June 2010

    Review: Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Skincare

    Disclosure:  these products were provided as PR samples.

    For the past month, I've been slathering myself in Boots No. 7 moisturisers, having been given samples of the day cream, night cream, and of course the famous serum.  Despite having heard the rapturous praise for the original serum, I never got around to picking up a bottle, so it was lovely to be able to try the Intense version alongside its sister creams.

    Firstly, the famous serum itself - it has a lovely texture.  Slippy, velvety, and very smoothing, it sinks in quickly, and leaves the skin feeling very silky.  I found that the texture was very similar to the significantly more expensive Estee Lauder Idealist serum.  I used about four pumps of the serum morning and night, and found that this was about enough to cover my entire face without resulting in an excess of product sitting on the skin.  Using it twice a day, I emptied the entire bottle within about 7 weeks.

    The day cream, applied atop the serum, was rather emollient and left my face feeling a little bit slick, although after fifteen minutes or so, the residue was absorbed into the skin.  I found that I had to be very careful about the amount of product I applied to my face; a tiny bit too much and my skin felt overwhelmed by the richness of the cream.  It was a similar story with the night cream, although I don't really mind a bit of a residue overnight so long as it doesn't encourage spots by over moisturising.

    And the effects?  Well, I suspect that my fine lines were a little bit softened by the regime, but I could just be subconciously justifying the hype in my own mind.  One thing's for sure, my skin definitely started to look brighter after a few weeks, and that brightness has been maintained since.  I didn't really notice that my skin looked noticeably younger - and that doesn't surprise me, given that I'm still under 30 and thus not really in the target market for these products.  I have heard colloquial evidence from my mother that the regime has had a very positive effect on some of her friends, who are more likely to appreciate the cream's richness.

    So, in short - I really like the serum, and would definitely use it again.  I feel that the moisturisers are a little bit too rich for my dry/combination skin - they'd probably suit a more mature or drier skin type a bit better.  If you'd like to try these products for yourself, you can grab them from, where the serum will set you back £20.50 for 30ml, and the day and night creams £20.50 and £21.50 for 50ml respectively.

    Wednesday, 16 June 2010

    Review: NYX Single Eyeshadows

    NYX are a brand well loved by both me and Sarah for their very lovely and very cheap lipsticks.  I've recently swapped for a few of their single eyeshadows, to see whether they are also both fabulous and frugal.

    First impressions are good; presented in fairly sturdy plastic pots, the shadows themselves are pressed into a sort of quilted pattern, which is interesting, even if it doesn't really add much.  The four shades I have here are Highlight, a matte cream; Eutopia, a matte chocolate brown; Salmon, a shimmery warm beige; and Cherry, a shimmering red.

    The shadows are all reasonably well pigmented, with the matte shades being a little more sheer than the shimmer shades.  They are all very soft, but not to the extent of being crumbly, and blend easily.  I've been using the matte shades for a grown up, subtle eye to pair with a bright lip, and the creamy white of Highlight combined with the chocolate brown of Eutopia providing plenty of definition but in a very subtle and classy way.  I'm not usually a fan of matte shadows, but these are definitely helping to show me the light!

    On the shimmer front, Salmon and Cherry together provide a good basis for a bright eye look; Cherry is wonderful as a crease colour if you like a bit of red, being nicely pigmented but not so strong that it's easy to overapply.  For me, though, the standout colour is Salmon - the shimmery, glowy finish is exactly what I get from my absolute favourite MAC Veluxe Pearl shadows, but with a much smaller price tag.

    Speaking of the price, these shadows are available on, purveyors of all things NYX, for a mere $3.50 each at present, which makes them a wonderfully cheap buy.  While they're not the absolute best shadows I've ever used, they're perfectly serviceable - blendable, well pigmented for the price, and available in a multitude of colours.  If you're looking to expand your eyeshadow collection (or even start it off!) for a low price, these are a good choice.

    Tuesday, 15 June 2010

    NOTD: Revlon Ocean Breeze

    I've recently really been digging cream finish polishes, so the almost metallic shimmer on this beautiful ocean turquoise shade is making for a really refreshing change. This is my first go with a Revlon polish, and as I'd heard, the formula is pretty fantastic.  This photo was taken after three days wear, and there's virtually no tipwear and no chipping whatsoever.

    Application was lovely too - the polish is fairly thin, easy to spread, and while it took three coats to get full opacity, it dried pretty quickly with no bubbles, streaking or bumps.

    Interestingly, this polish, which was part of Revlon's Scent of Summer collection, is scented when dry.  The fragrance reminded me of the Oceanus perfume I used to love from the Body Shop, and it's quite noticeable when the polish is just dry.  It does fade pretty quickly though, which is a good thing - I'm sure I would have attracted some strange looks if I'd spent the entire weekend sniffing my nails.

    Unfortunately, while I can find info on the whole Scent of Summer collection, I can't find out if anywhere in the UK actually stocked these polishes.  I will do my best to find one - in the meantime though, if you'd like to try this one for yourself, beg an American buddy to help you out!

    Monday, 14 June 2010

    Review - Penhaligon's Amaranthine EDP

    Disclosure - PR sample

    Writing about perfumes is notoriously difficult for the uninitiated. Perfumery has its own lexicon of specialist terms that describe types and families of fragrances, as well as the individual notes that make them up.

    This is partially because smells are extremely difficult to describe (I'm in awe of the blogs and websites that dedicate themselves to the task.) It's also because perfumery is a highly skilled craft with a long heritage.

    Penhaligon's is one of the UK's most prominent contributors to that heritage - the company has been producing fragrances with a quintessentially English flavour for well over a century. The signature glass bottle with the rounded stopper has become an iconic fixture on the dressing tables of generationsof women.

    Amaranthine is a fragrance from 2009, and we were sent the Eau De Parfum to try out. I've worn it several times and have loved it - although it's a little bit dramatic for day to day wear, I often spray it on when I'm around the house just to enjoy the scent.

    The top notes hit me as (and this might sound odd) banana and liquorice, with an undertone of warm wood. As it develops, a heady evening blossom smell appears, bringing to mind a night garden. Finally after a few hours it settles into a warm, spicy comforting note that is definitely my favourite aspect of the scent.

    So that's my untutored layman's impression. For those who know what they're on about, here's the gen from Penhaligon's website:

    Head Notes: Green Tea, White Freesia, Banana Tree Leaf, Coriander Seed Oil, Cardamom Absolute
    Heart Notes: Rose, Carnation, Clove Oil, Orange Blossom, Ylang Ylang Oil, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute
    Base Notes: Musk, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Condensed Milk, Tonka Bean Absolute
    "Created in 2009, Amaranthine is a corrupted floral oriental for those private moments when everything is anticipation. It opens with a dramatic flourish of spices and tropical green. This unsettling lick of drama is beautifully ambushed by an unctuous accord of jasmine and ylang-ylang, a heady bloom renowned for its aphrodisiac properties, and clove swathed in spices, tea, musk and the rounded beauty of tonka bean absolute. Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour."

    Bloody lovely. Amaranthine Eau de Parfum 50ml - £60 from Penhaligon's.

    Sunday, 13 June 2010

    The Clarisonic Diaries: Month's Up!

    Wow.  One whole month has passed, and I have reached my goal of using my shiny Clarisonic twice a day and documenting my skin weekly to see if, indeed, it does make a difference.

    My skin still feels soft, my product still soaks in, and I'm still getting the odd annoying spot.  As I said last week, I'm a little worried that my current skincare regime might be contributing to the spots - so I'm planning on going for another month of Clarisonic monitoring, to see whether a different set of products cancels out the spots.  If the spots stop, the Clarisonic isn't to blame.  If they don't... well, let's just say I'll be pretty annoyed.  Read on after the jump to see this week's photos, a lovely montage of the last month's photos, and some thoughts.  Before you do though, what's your opinion - do you want to see weekly photos for the next month, or shall I store them up and post at the end of the month?  Let us know in the comments.

    Saturday, 12 June 2010

    Giveaway winners - update

    We have had no response from one of our winners, so I'm pulling another name out of the hat (boyfriend is away so can't call out random numbers as before).

    The, er, understudy winner is


    Well done Joy!

    Free Benefit pencils with July issue of Glamour

    Look what we found in our local newsagent! Benefit have sold their souls to Glamour magazine (or vice versa) resulting in a cover gift of one of three full size eye pencils. If you see this issue (which has Lily Allen on the front, looking like she's overdone it with the Bad Gal), pick it up quicksmart.

    You get either Bad Gal, It Stick or Eye Bright with each issue. Glamour are encouraging you to collect all 3, and with a cover price of £2, I see no reason why you wouldn't provided you can find enough copies of the magazine. It will definitely sell out very quickly.

    The products, then;

    Bad Gal - it's a black eyeliner. If you don't have one, or you want one that looks a bit funky, pick this. It doesn't have any special powers besides being awesomely chunky. It will smudge and fade like any standard black pencil.

    Eye Bright - a bit more sophisticated and definitely my pick of the bunch. A pink pencil with subtle shimmer to cheer up the inner corners and brow bone. This is a good one to keep in your handbag as it definitely does perk up the look of the eyes when quickly applied in the ladies' loos.

    It Stick - a creamy concealer pencil with high coverage. Great to have, but only if you have pale or light-medium yellow toned skin. It is VERY yellow-toned, so if your skin has a neutral tone, blend very well. If you're cool-toned, approach this one with caution.

    Friday, 11 June 2010

    Review: Kiehl's Lip Balm #1

    I'd vaguely heard of Kiehl's rather famous lip balm but I didn't properly pay attention until a very generous swapper sent me a brand new tube.  Meh, I thought.  It says petroleum on the tube.  It is essentially the same as Vaseline, but more expensive.

    Well, I was wrong.  I cracked it open one morning when I couldn't find my usual balm and have applied it every morning since.  While it does contain petroleum, that's not all - it contains cotton seed oil, and a physical sunblock which helps to provide an SPF 4.  It squeezes out of the tube into a thick, almost solid form, which quickly warms up and spreads easily over the lips.

    The initial effect is pretty much the same as any other lip balm, imparting a natural glossy shine and a slippy feeling.  What makes this product stand out is the amount of moisture it injects into the lips within a short period of time.  Left on, it eventually sinks in after about an hour or so, but when wiped off after fifteen minutes, it leaves the lips feeling beautifully soft and ready for lipstick.  Which makes it a perfect product to apply before you start work on your face, leave on while you apply your makeup, and then remove just before applying lipliner/lipstick/gloss.

    Yes, at £9 it's a little bit expensive, but given how little is needed, the 15ml tube will undoubtably last a fair old while.  For me, the best indicator that I love a product and its effects is that I reach for it unthinkingly on a regular basis - and I reach for this unfailingly every morning.

    If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can grab it from Kiehl's online or in store at the price of £9 for 15ml (and if you go to a store, be sure to take advantage of the complimentary hand massages - bliss).  We're also giving away the vanilla version in our giveaway, if you've not already entered!

    15th Anniversary Savings at Liz Earle

    On June 15th, Liz Earle will be celebrating their fifteenth anniversary by "going back to their roots" and selling their iconic Cleanse and Polish product at the price at which it originally launched.  You'll make a saving of £3.50, as the original launch price was £9.50 - and today's retail price is £13.

    The offer is available for one day only, the 15th June, via the Liz Earle website, so if you're a fan of Cleanse and Polish, mark this one in your diary and stock up!

    Thursday, 10 June 2010

    NOTD: GOSH Gypsy Blue

    After my recent fail with Models Own cream colours, I was ready to give up and go back to wearing all glitter, all the time.  I'm glad that this pretty GOSH polish caught my eye and persuaded me to try again; it's a beautiful, slightly dusty mid-blue cream which, despite going on a little thick and gloopy, dried to a relatively smooth finish.  It's not the smoothest finish ever, but it looks good enough that the slight variation in thickness in places doesn't bother me.

    This photo was taken after three days of wear, and as you can see the tipwear is pretty minimal.  It did start chipping after three days (that's why I've hidden my little finger behind the polish bottle) and had to be removed, but for a mere £5, three days isn't bad at all.

    If you like this shade and would like to try it for yourself, you can grab it at Superdrug stores, or if you're feeling lucky, try to win it in our latest giveaway.

    Wednesday, 9 June 2010

    Review: Aromatherapy Associates Overnight Repair Mask

    Disclosure:  this was a PR sample.

    Having had a go with Aromatherapy Associates facial oil a while back, I was sent a sample of their Overnight Repair Mask to try.  It claims to tighten and smooth the skin, and to "restore moisture and encourage natural collagen production".  It's a cross between a face mask and a night cream, designed to be used two or three times a week; at a minimum, you leave it on for two hours, and for best results, you leave it on overnight.

    As with all Aromatherapy Associates products, it smells rather delicious - if you're not fond of essential oils, this is likely to be a little too heady for you.  The scent, while quite deep and musky, is not overpowering, and is quite relaxing if you apply just before bed, as I've been doing.  The product itself is in the format of a reasonably thick cream, which despite its density is fairly easily absorbed into the skin, leaving a little bit of  residue.  That's not to say that the skin is left feeling greasy - the residue feels much like the slight slip you get after a facial oil application, which in itself makes this product rather nice if you fancy a spot of facial massage before you sleep.

    I've been using this about twice a week for the past month or so, and I don't think it has really contributed much to the state of my skin (twice weekly is probably not enough for a product to have a profound effect, in my opinion).  It does, however, make a noticeable difference to the state of my skin the morning after I've used it.  My skin feels perfectly soft, and looks plumped up, healthy and smooth.  I think the key word is healthy - while this doesn't impart a particular glow, or have any easily describable effect, it makes my skin look like it's in good condition.

    It follows, then, that this is a fantastic product to use if you're working late, not quite sleeping enough, suffering from dull skin, or in preparation for a special event.  Because the one product acts so effectively alone, I've tended to use it when I'm too tired to go through the whole serum, night cream, eye cream, massage regime.  It's also a bit of a gem for hungover skin - so long as I've taken my makeup off and used this after a merry evening, I wake up with skin that doesn't look lifeless, regardless of how lifeless I feel!

    Now, here's the kicker - this is a very expensive little tube of goodness.  £43 for 50ml is a bit on the steep side for your average wallet, even though the amount of product used each time means that the one tube will probably last at least six months.  For me, this is too expensive to claim a permanent place in my skincare regime - but I expect I will definitely repurchase in November in preparation for my best friend's wedding and the Christmas/New Year party season.

    If you'd like to try this for yourself, you can get it from the Aromatherapy Associates website, where it will cost you a slightly eye watering £43 for 50ml.

    Tuesday, 8 June 2010

    Giveaway winners!

    A massive thank you to everyone who entered our Dove, Vaseline and Sure giveaway, which closed yesterday. We absolutely loved reading all of your favourite "basics" and we've picked up lots of awesome-sounding recommendations from all of the readers who took the time to write an entry. So yes, thank you all!

    Winners have just been selected using my very sophisticated randomised method - I ask my boyfriend to call out three numbers without telling him why. Quick, easy and totally impartial!

    Our lucky winners are:

    Sara Amorim

    Congratulations guys - I've just emailed you to get your postal addresses.

    If you didn't win, don't be downhearted! We've just launched a brand new competition which you can enter here. Don't say we aren't good to you.

    Yet Another Giveaway: Facebook and Followers

    Oh yes.  We're having yet another giveaway, this time of a random assortment of stuff we thought we'd put together as a giveaway for our lovely blog followers and people who like us on Facebook.

    So, for your chance to win these lovely products...

    • GOSH Gypsy Blue polish
    • Soap and Glory Daily Smooth Body Butter
    • CARGO Classic Timestrip Gloss in Alexandria (netural pink)
    • Kiehl's Lip Balm #1 in Vanilla
    • Bourjois Ultra Care Mascara in Noir
    ... simply ensure that you're a follower of the blog, and that you like us on Facebook.  You don't have to do both, but if you do, you'll get two entries as opposed to one.  The competition will close in three weeks (ish), at midnight on the 30th June.  Good luck!

    Gobsmacked by Guerlain Autumn/Winter 2010 palettes

    I've just seen these silvery Ecrin 6 Couleurs palettes on British Beauty Blogger and I'm completely, utterly smitten.

    There are four variations - Vendorme (shown here), Sevres, Champs Elysee and Passy. Each contains six shadows in a narrow but contrasting spectrum of colours - browns, blues, monochromes, etc. The shadows are infused with moonstone, giving them a particular blue-silver iridesence (called adularescence - I had to look it up).

    For a duochrome-junkie like me, that's enough to get the lemming-alarm sounding. But there's more - the lid of the metal palette is decorated with a cut-out design reminiscent of wrought iron. Ornate but also quite modern and biomorphic. It's like cut-up pieces of a fleur de lys rearranged in a flowing collage.

    The holes in the lid aren't as impractical as they sound - a mirror, hinged from the side of the palette, lies under the lid and protects the shadows.

    As you might expect, these command a fairly horrific price tag. I'm sure that by the time they're released I will have somehow justified the £51 they cost to myself.

    Check out BBB's post on these palettes - she has more in-depth information than I do.

    Monday, 7 June 2010

    The Clarisonic Diaries: Three Weeks In

    Wow, the weeks are just flying by.  I've now been using my Clarisonic for three weeks.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), there's no cheek photo this week, as I wasn't quite awake this morning and took a photo of the wrong side of my face.  Muppet.

    I'm still not having entirely good skin days.  This week I've had a couple of really nasty spots, and some strange bumpy bits have appeared on my forehead.  Before I blame the Clarisonic, though, I've decided that regardless of what results I do or do not see in the first month, I'm going to continue on for a further month with a different skincare regime, just in case it's my current set of lotions and potions which are making me bumpy (and spotty).

    On the upside, my skin is still exceptionally soft and smooth, and all forms of product continue to sink in ever so quickly.  I'm exfoliating less than I used to, as I feel that the Clarisonic is giving my skin a pretty good exfoliation twice daily, and I don't really want to overdo it.  Read on after the jump to see my full face photo for this week.  It was taken early this morning, so excuse the bleary eyes.

    Focus On Feet: Liz Earle Foot Scrub & Foot Repair Moisturiser

    Disclosure:  the items reviewed here were supplied by PR.

    As we crawl steadily towards what's looking like a pretty hot summer, footcare comes to the fore, particularly as the sandals and flipflops emerge from the depths of wardrobes all over the land.  We'll be writing a few foot focused posts over the next couple of weeks - and we're starting with two Liz Earle products designed to refresh and pamper hard working feet - the Foot Scrub, and Foot Repair Moisturiser.  Firstly- one of my favourite things about Liz Earle is the attention to detail in order fulfilment.  Everything arrives beautifully wrapped in tissue paper, and it really makes me feel like the company is pleased to have me as a customer, which, in a world of faceless corporations, is something quite special, in my mind.

    Anyway; on to the products.  The Foot Scrub is pumice based, with a menthol-based scent.  It's quite a thick product, and a small dab contains plenty of scrubbing particles, so you don't really need a lot of it.  On application, the first thing that hits you is the scent - it's very, very intense.  If you were to use this in the morning, it'd certainly wake you up!  The presence of the menthol also serves to make the feet feel tingly and fresh as you work the scrub in.

    After use, my feet (which are chronically ignored and a bit worse for wear) felt smooth, fresh, and noticeably softer.  While the scrub isn't hugely effective on very hard areas of skin, it does deal very well with areas of dryness.  I think my favourite thing about it is the menthol-y freshness - I've taken to using it after a full day of walking, and have found it to be very refreshing for tired feet.

    The Foot Repair Moisturiser continues on the same theme, with its peppermint scent and shea butter base.  I particularly liked the packaging of this one - the tube ends with a pump, so you can more effectively control how much you dispense.  A few pumps is all that's required - the cream, while not massively thick, is very emollient, which means that a little goes a long way.  On application, you get the same refreshing feeling that you get with the scrub.

    The product sinks into the skin very quickly, which I really liked - I hate having to sit around waiting for my feet to stop feeling slick.  My feet were left feeling soft and smooth, although again the cream wasn't particularly effective on very dry areas.  I've been using this every couple of days and have found that my feet are in general much softer than they were before - this is definitely a good maintenance product.

    At £12.25 for 100ml of the moisturiser, and £10.25 for 100ml of the scrub, these aren't a budget friendly buy, but given that you need so little each time, I would imagine that they'd last a fair while.  If you'd like to try them for yourself, you can get them from Liz Earle's website - and smaller sizes are available too, which is great if you want to try them out without the commitment of the larger sizes.

    Sunday, 6 June 2010

    New Illamasqua foundations and A/W collection

    The other week I wandered through Selfridges and stopped by the Illamasqua counter. I was lucky enough to bump into makeup artist Mika, who did a fantastic job of making me over last summer.

    He told me that the Illamasqua liquid foundation range was being revamped with new formulas and a revised range of shades. As ever, Illamasqua cater for cool, warm and neutral tones across a full range of skintones, but they've edited out some of the more "stage makeup" shades and geared the range more towards everyday wear.

    These new liquid foundations are now available to buy from the website at £21 for 30ml. However I'd recommend getting to a counter if you possibly can, because there will be a specific shade that's just right for your skin and the Illamasqua MA's are well trained at colour-matching.

    Mika also dropped a couple of hints about the upcoming Autumn/Winter colour collection. It's going to be much more face-focused than Body Electrics, catering to those of us (me very much included) who view our faces as our best feature and aren't likely to be parading our shimmering limbs in scanty outfits. We can expect to see a collection geared particularly around eyes and lips. I'm guessing there will be an eye palette in the mix... at least, I hope so.

    As you may already know, Illamasqua are crowdsourcing the models for the A/W campaign. Visit the website and upload your picture to be considered for the chance to represent the brand. Closes 7th of June, so there's no time like the present!
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