Sunday, 28 February 2010

Underground observations

picture from

One of the facts of life in London (and perhaps any major city) is that those of us who work in the centre of town spend a lot of time commuting. For my part, I spend over 10 hours a week sitting on the Tube on my way to and from work. The costs of living near the centres of business are prohibitive, so we make daily slogs on public transport to reach our places of work.

Because time is short and commutes are long, it's quite usual to see people saving a bit of time by doing their makeup on the train.

I am always totally fascinated when I see someone doing her makeup across the carriage from me. Even bleary from lack of sleep first thing in the morning, I can't help but sneak curious glances at this normally private ritual taking place in front of everyone in the harsh fluorescent light. The variation in technique, product choice and order-of-work is remarkable - truly no two women are the same in how they make up.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Giveaway - the results!

Thanks to everyone who entered our giveaway which closed earlier this afternoon. We both very much enjoyed reading everyone's entries and feeling the vicarious "haul thrill" from your tales of cosmetic discovery. It's given us both plenty of food for thought and ideas for new products to try out.

The winners have now been selected using

I am delighted to congratulate

Pop the Fashion, who has won Prize 1:
Boots 17 Lip Glaze (Rising Star), Maybelline Define-A-Lash mascara (black, waterproof), Cargo Plant Love lipstick (shade Lola), Barry M Dazzle Dust (shade 69), Boots Protect and Perfect serum (small sample size), MUD eyeshadow pan (Sienna)


Lillian Funny Face, who has won Prize 2:
Cargo Oil Free foundation (shade F20, pale/warm), Boots 17 Lip Glaze (Remember Me), Barry M Lip Gloss (Shade 4), Boots 17 Eye Dazzle (shade All At Sea), MUD eyeshadow pan (Sienna), Barry M Nail Paint (shade 284)

Girls, please email in your addresses asap to and I will get the prizes sent out to you this week.

Friday, 26 February 2010

DIY Beauty: Clarifying Aspirin Face Mask

Sometimes, outside of all the lovely luxury products, and even the high-street reasonably priced products, you can find a little gem of a DIY recipe that makes a big difference for a very small price.  A while ago, I read Very Good Things on about Aspirin Masks.  So I dived right in and tried a couple of variations, and was very impressed.  As I'd heard, my skin was smooth, more even in tone, very clear looking, and the pesky spots lurking on my chin had dried up and calmed right down.  Some people even report that regular aspirin masks have helped clear their acne scars.

So, here is a short guide to how to make your own aspirin mask.  Read on afer the jump for many photos and step by step instructions.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Don't forget - Giveaway ends on Saturday

Enter before 12.00 GMT (midday) on Saturday 27th February for your chance to win one of two sets of makeup.

They're all treasures from my "backup drawer", brand new and untouched, and ready to find a happy home in your makeup bag.

Enter here.

NOTD: Nails Inc, Burlington Arcade

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This time last year I was working at an advertising agency in Central London. Every morning I got off the tube at Green Park and walked up Burlington Arcade. It is a covered walkway, panelled in wood and lined with very traditional, upmarket, specialist shops. They sell cashmere and walking sticks and antique pens, riding crops, polo mallets, delicious chocolates, perfumes in large glass vials. Halfway down the Arcade sits a man in uniform, top hat and tails, with a wooden seat and brushes and boot polish all set out, ready to shine your shoes.

I think that the old-England, upper-class burnish of Burlington Arcade itself is what Nails Inc were trying to capture with this opulent burgundy-magenta polish. It is a blue-toned metallic red, very nearly pink or plum. There are red and blue reflections in it, not quite sparkle, more of a high shimmer. It's the kind of colour that might adorn the curtains in the study of an Oxford don, or deck the walls in a back-in-time Victorian style gentlemens' club.

On nails, it's a warm and evocative colour, bright enough to cheer up a grey day. The wear is good (this is day 3, pictured above) and application satisfyingly smooth. It took two coats to achieve an opaque finish.

Burlington Arcade is sadly not currently available on Nails Inc's website, but you can find it as part of the Nails Inc Party Collection (£20) at

OCC Preorder Begins Today At The Makeup Artist Boutique

Last week we reported that the Makeup Artist Boutique would be stocking OCC products, making them the first place in the UK to do so.  Their pre-order period begins today - orders are expected to begin shipping on March 23rd.

Find the full list of Lip Tars available here. A little birdie tells me that 4 brand new shades will be added over the weekend as OCC launch them!

If you decide to indulge, remember to use your 10% discount code- enter "OCCLBR" at checkout.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

How To Make Lip Tars More Portable

Lip Tars are lovely things, being mixable, highly pigmented, and high impact. But for me, one of their selling points - that you need so little to get opaque coverage - turns into a downside; they're not particularly portable. You need to carry a little tube and a lip brush, or if you mix your own shade, a sample pot and a lip brush.

Years ago, I bought a few bits of lip product packaging as one of my favourite LE lipglosses had burst on a plane and wasn't usable. Recently, I found the dial up pen applicators I had bought and realised that they are fabulous for Lip Tars.

The picture above shows a peachy-neutral shade of Lip Tar which I mixed up in one of the applicators. It's a dial up pen format, like Stila use for their lip glosses, so you can make the compartment as small as you like - I doubt anyone would mix up enough Lip Tar to fill the thing to capacity. Once the compartment is full, you snap the sponge top into place and voila, you have a portable Lip Tar.

When you turn the dial, the Lip Tar saturates the sponge applicator, and it's easy to control the flow of product to get the opaque coverage. The photo on the right shows my custom blended colour applied to my lips with my dialup applicator.

I got my dialup pens from, for the reasonable price of $6.50 for a set of 10. Sadly, they're out of stock until April, but a viable alternative might be the click pens, which are $6.80 for a set of 10. Shipping is a fairly reasonable $10. There are other places to buy these containers, but they are often more expensive.

Since I have quite a few spares, we'll be giving a few away - six randomly selected people will receive two sponge tip dialup pens, and a bonus brush tip pen too. Leave a comment with a valid email address to enter - closing date is Saturday 27th at midnight, as with our other giveaway!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Gorgeous Curls with Heated Rollers

I was lucky enough to get a set of Babyliss ceramic heated rollers for Christmas this year. I'd been lusting after them for a full year, after my good friend and hairdresser Silvie used them to create loose, sexy curls for my wedding.

My naturally curly hair dries to a mix of spirals and S-shaped curls, but the weight of my hair always results in flat roots. Heated rollers allow me to get loose curls with lots of volume, a very glamourous look which is actually pretty easy to do, with a little bit of elbow grease!

Prep: I find that curls stay in best if the hair is clean but not over conditioned - best not to use a deep conditioner before using rollers. I usually wash mine, and then blow dry it roughly until it's almost dry. Allow the rollers to start heating while you rough dry; within 10 minutes they'll be hot enough to give a good curl.

Roll: Sectioning is essential - start off with the hair at the bottom of your head, and do the back first. Get a strand of hair (the bigger the section, the larger the curl) and smooth it out with a brush or wide toothed comb. Handle the roller using its cool rims, and slide it down the hair from root to tip, wrapping the end around the roller once you reach the end (this might burn your fingers a tiny bit, but is well worth it). As you work the roller back up towards the roots, remember to keep your hair horizontal, and to hold the roller vertically, to get a perfect ringlet.

Secure: You can secure the rolled hair to your head using a clamp grip, or a metal pin - if you're using a pin, make sure that the curve of the pin supports the hair in the direction you rolled it - so that gravity can't drag the roller back out. Slide the pin along your scalp to allow it to grip the roots of the hair and hold securely.

Style: I tend to leave the rollers to do their work for as long as possible; at least until the last roller I put in has gone totally cold. Gently pull the rollers out and if you're going for a tousled look, run your fingers through the curls to separate and loosen. Use a little serum if you have any flyaways.

The curls will drop a little, so if the finished look is too tightly curled for your liking, wait up to half an hour before you spritz with hairspray to finish. The result is loose curls with volume at the roots, tapering to a tighter curl at the ends.

For me, the day after styling like this brings even more tousled curls with defined ends - still glam, and a little more daytime friendly.

If you're after some heated rollers, I couldn't recommend Babyliss Pro's Ceramic Roller set enough. They heat up quickly, give great curl, and contain enough rollers to curl the thickest of hair. The cheapest I can find them online at the moment is £39.98 from

Monday, 22 February 2010

Illamasqua Pastel Nail spring polishes released

Here are Illamasqua's new quartet of pastel nail polishes, released today and available from the Illamasqua website at a cost of £13 each. "Wink", "Nudge", "Blow" and "Caress" can also be bought in a set for £39, which amounts to a 4 for 3 deal.

Apparently there is a waiting list of over 400 people hovering in line to get their hands on these polishes. That's according to Illamasqua's email newsletter, which was sent out today.

Don't get me wrong, I love Illamasqua's products generally and I would certainly not turn my nose up at any or all of these polishes. From my experience of their other nail colours, I'd expect the wear and application to be superb. But doesn't a 400-strong waiting list seem a little much for what is essentially a set of fairly standard Spring pastels?

I hope I'm not going to be crucified for this, but they all look kind of... dupe-able to me. Maybe once I've seen them in person I'll change my mind...

Anyone else have an opinion on these? Would you wait in line for them? Are they on your must-have list?

Review: NYX Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencil

Given my new found love of NYX lipstick, my last Cherry Culture order contained a few more NYX items to see whether any of their other products would cause me to fall in love. One of these products was their Jumbo Eyeshadow Pencil, a creamy solid shadow stick which is available in 24 colours.

I purchased the Purple and Slate shades, swatches of which can be seen below. The colour is extremely smooth and creamy; it glides onto the skin and is easy to smudge and blend. Because it's so easy to blend, you can sheer the colour out to a pretty wash, or layer it up for a more intense finish.

The colours I tried were both rich and ever so slightly shimmery; not overly glittery, but a gentle, almost metallic pearl. The purple, in particular, really brings out the green in my eyes, and the deep grey Slate colour is a great base for a smoky, smudged eye.

Unfortunately, as with many cream products, this remains creamy and emollient on the lid, and doesn't dry down. I have oily eyelids, and I saw creasing within 5 minutes. Setting with a touch of powder eyeshadow didn't really make a huge amount of difference, probably because I had layered the colour up for a more intense result.

For me and my oily lids, the usages of this product are somewhat limited; it looks fabulous smudged into the upper and lower lashline, either for a bit of eye-enhancing colour (with the purple) or for a bit of smoke (with the slate). I won't be putting it anywhere near my crease again, though!

If you'd like to try these for yourself, you can get hold of them at, for just $3.00 each.

Waterproof Eyeliner Showdown Round Two: Makeup Forever vs GOSH

One of the comments on last weeks' Waterproof Eyeliner Showdown post suggested that a great way to roadtest waterproof liners was to test their effectivity on the waterline. It sounded like a great idea to me, so on Friday I applied the MUFE Aqua Eyes and GOSH Velvet Touch pencils to my inner rims and waited six hours to see how they fared.

It's worth noting that the GOSH pencil was much easier to apply on the waterline than the MUFE; one or two passes across the waterline gave a good, deep black, whereas the MUFE pencil took a good five or six passes to build up the same level of blackness. The GOSH pencil is the softer of the two, and as you can see, the colour smudged outside of the waterline onto the lower lash line much more than the MUFE pencil did.

Six hours later, neither pencil had stayed on completely - both had worn off around the outer and inner corners, with some black still showing in the middle part of the waterline. The GOSH Velvet Touch pencil transferred down under the lower lashes much more than the MUFE Aqua Eyes, probably because of it's softer texture.

The performance is again very similar between the two pencils, and once again, I'd still say that they are more water resistant than waterproof. If you'd like to try either one, you can get the GOSH Velvet Touch liner from Superdrug for £5, or the Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes liner from Guru Makeup Emporium for £11.95.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Headmasters blowdry

Disclosure: This service was provided free of charge by Headmasters' PR.

This is me, and my hair in its au naturel state. It's not an incredibly inspiring start.

A couple of hours later, my hair had been transformed into this:

These buoyant waves are all thanks to the ministrations of stylist Darren at Headmasters in Hanover St., central London.

I was invited as part of a PR event to come along for a Valentine's blowdry last week. After meeting Darren and choosing one of Headmasters' off-the-peg 2010 blowdries as a starting point, I enjoyed a shampoo, condition and scalp massage. The salon has a bank of sinks set apart from the main work area, with luxurious reclining chairs and silver beaded curtains between each one. Very relaxing.

I was then escorted to one of the stations in the main body of the salon, which is a light and airy space spread over two floors. Darren applied styling products to lift and give texture to my hair, and then rough-dried it all over. Next, he divided the hair into sections and began blow-drying it in loose curls with a big ceramic radial brush.

It's great watching a seasoned professional at work - Darren, who has worked at HM for ten years, wielded the brush and dryer with incredible speed and skill. After that, he indulged my wish for more curls, using heated styling tongs to define the ends. Once that was done, he let the hair cool for a short while to allow the style to set, before "zhuzzhing" it with fingertips into a looser, more natural shape.

It was a lovely experience and I found Darren very thorough and his work of amazing quality. The atmosphere in the salon is professional but quite relaxed, and I didn't find it intimidating in the way that some salons can be. Obviously being there for a press event isn't the same as going for a regular appointment, but I hope this gives some indication of what you can expect when you visit Headmasters.

While at the salon I learned that Headmasters are offering a half-price sale on all hair colour treatments between now and March 12. To give you an idea of the prices;

* Vegetable Colour from £20
* Half Head Foils from £58
* Full Head Tissue Lights from £100

Full details of salon branches (there are 40 across the UK) are at Headmasters website or you can ring them on 08700 841 400 to find out where your local one is. I'm told that the half-price colour appointments book up quick, so call now if you're interested.
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Update: NV Perricone Cold Plasma

With the current focus on blogger integrity and honesty in reviews, now seems as good a time as any to face the music on this one.

NV Perricone Cold Plasma was given to us to review. Owing to the high RRP of this cream and the reputation of the brand, I wanted to trial this thoroughly and bring you a comprehensive review of how it addresses the "ten signs of aging" it sets out to improve or correct. You can see my initial post about it here.

It has a light, easily absorbed consistency and sturdy glass packaging. It looks like a white version of Clinique's Moisture Surge moisturiser - almost more gel than cream. In fact it is designed to be used along with moisturiser - it's more of a treatment product than a traditional face cream.

It has a patented "delivery system" designed to carry beneficial nutrients and fortifying substances across the cell membrane and thereby improve the look and feel of skin. This is an interesting premise but one that I found slightly disconcerting from a biological point of view - my skin is there to protect my body from outside invaders after all and I'm not sure I want its integrity compromised in this way. However it seems that a lot of work and expense have gone into designing this stuff, and it would have been nice to tell you exactly how well it worked and what the effects were over time.

Unfortunately there is only one definitive thing I can say about this cream, which is that the smell of it is bad. I have tried to steel myself and put it on after cleansing, but the odour put me off and most times I just skipped it. So I can't in all honesty tell you whether it works or not. It may do absolute wonders for aging skin. But it also smells like slightly-off meat or fish.

I am very sorry - I have failed you all. *Pushes fish-cream into back of cupboard with great relief*

This cream may work out well for you if you are anosmic or have a poor sense of smell. Or you may find, as many seemingly have (this product is a best-seller on NV Perricone's site) that it works well for you and you don't perceive any bad odour. The issue may be a quirk of my olfactory system, which is quite sensitive to certain protein smells. (I can't stand using crockery that has been used to serve eggs, for example, unless it has been washed very thoroughly.)

But as far as I am concerned - this is not one I am going to be purchasing. The smell is something I just can't get past.
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Saturday, 20 February 2010

Review: Eve Lom cleanser

I was able to pick up one of the Eve Lom travel sets during the Space NK January sale at half price (£25 as opposed to £50). Brassic though I was after Christmas, I decided (with my messed-up product addict logic) that this was a great opportunity. I had been curious about the cult Eve Lom cleanser for some time, so was especially happy to see that a 30ml jar of it is part of the set, along with the famed muslin cloth.

It's likely if you're reading this that you already know how this sort of cleanser is applied and removed; the cleanser is massaged onto dry skin, then the cloth is dampened with warm water and used to remove the cleanser. Along with it comes any dirt and excess oil/dead skin cells/general face-entropy.

Eve Lom's cleanser comes in a screw-top jar, into which you must dig your fingers to remove product. (Often a mode of packaging that people think of as unhygenic. Provided hands are clean, I don't personally mind it.)

The cleanser is thick, golden in colour and has a slightly gritty exfoliant-like feel to it. Once applied and massaged in, the gritty particles seem to dissolve. The texture generally is quite oily. I have read a few reviews that complain of the high price of the cleanser (around£50 for 100ml) being unjustified since the chief ingredient is mineral oil, which is quite cheap to produce. I'm not someone who automatically balks at the presence of mineral oil in a product, but I think this may be a fair criticism.

The cleanser also contains four aromatherapy oils; hops, clove, eucalyptus and chamomile. After the cleanser has been applied, the instruction leaflet suggests leaving the warm cloth on the face for a short period to activate the oils on the skin and let them take effect.

Which brings us to the smell. Personally, I find the scent of this product very unusual, and I'm not sure if I like it or not. My first thought was that it smells like a dentist's surgery (probably the clove oil to blame for that - it's frequently used to ease tooth sensitivity). Combine the idea of that smell with the notion of fresh, almost minty eucalyptus, and beery hops, and you may be able to imagine it slightly.

The hot cloth process is very satisfying indeed. The weft of the muslin cloth is just right for removing every bit of cleanser and giving the skin a bit of gentle exfoliation at the same time. As a final step, dipping the cloth into cold water and then applying again gives an astringent effect that feels wonderful on the newly clean skin.

Overally I have very much enjoyed using this product so far and it has left my skin very clean and soft. It feels like a product I could rely on to perk up my skin at any given time, as well as remove makeup thoroughly. There is also a very enjoyable ritual quality to the hot cloth process. The leaflet enclosed with the kit outlines a facial massage you can do while the cleanser is on the skin, which added to the experience and is probably quite good for the skin and facial tissues as well.

My only qualm (besides the odd smell, which I think I could learn to like) is the price. If it were £15 per tub instead of £50, I would certainly buy it again. However at this price I'm unlikely to repurchase, unless I find another great bargain like I did this time around.

Friday, 19 February 2010

OCC Coming To The UK via Makeup Artist Boutique!

Here's some fabulous news for those of you who are lusting over Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic's Lip Tars, and were unable to get hold of one at IMATS this year.

We've received word that the Makeup Artist Boutique, who currently stock Yaby Cosmetics in the UK, have plans to bring OCC makeup to our shores mid March. Prices are set to be £8.99 for Lip Tars, £6.99 for lip balms, and £7.49 for Loose Color Concentrates/Glitters/Pure Pigments. Pricing on nail colours and airbrush products are to be confirmed at a later date.

The Makeup Artist Boutique also tell us that they'll be starting a special deal around two weeks before the shipment of OCC goodies come in which will bag you 10% off all OCC pre-orders, using the code they have given us for you lovely people: use "OCCLBR" at checkout.

OCC Pure Pigments: Authentic

Disclosure: OCC gave us samples of Authentic to try out.

This is OCC's Loose Color Concentrate in Authentic, a metallic orangey-copper. In these pictures I've foiled the pigment onto the lid using a touch of mixing medium, and blended out the edges with some dry pigment. As you can see, it's a very intense colour with a gorgeous metallic sheen when applied damp.

This is pretty much everything I'd hoped that Illamasqua's Liquid Metals would be on the lid. Intense, metallic, beautiful. But the Loose Color Concentrate, being a powder and not a cream, doesn't crease like the Liquid Metal did. The tradeoff is that the OCC product isn't quite as opulently metallic as the Illamasqua.

Still - if you want to bring out the green in your eyes, this is beautiful. And the application is much better than my other favourite copper pigment, MAC Copper Sparkle, which is a bugger to apply due to its gritty texture - the OCC offering is uniformly smooth.

If you'd like to try this for yourself, you can find it at OCC's website, where it'll cost you $10 for 2.5g.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Competitions and Offers

There are a number of beauty competitions and offers floating around on the web at the moment, so we thought we'd sum them up for you.

Firstly, our own competition is running for just over another week, and includes two prizes of lovely beauty things. Open to all, UK based or not, find out more here, and get your entries in by 27th February.

Secondly, SpaceNK are running two promotions of note: firstly, the chance to win an entire collection from both NARS and Oribe - well worth entering, and open til March 2nd. Additionally, they're running an insider only beauty evening in-store; you can purchase a ticket for £10 up until 23rd February, which'll grant you access to the event on the evening of the 24th February. You'll scoop a goodie bag as well as hints, tips, and tricks from SpaceNK artists. Find your nearest store to buy your ticket. are running a Facebook competition; you could win your favourite beauty product just by talking about a product you absolutely can't live without. Only two days left to enter this, so comment quickly!

BrandAlley are having a Pop Beauty and Pixi sale; prices from £2.50 (plus p&p). You'll need to join up to take advantage though, and postage is often slow - most things are posted after the sale ends, which for this is on the 21st February.

MAC Cosmetics are offering free shipping til Sunday: use code SHIPFEB at the checkout.

If you know of any other competitions or offers going on... share the love in the comments!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Waterproof Eyeliner Showdown: Makeup Forever vs GOSH

I currently have two black eyeliners that claim to be waterproof; Makeup Forever's Aqua Eyes, and GOSH's Velvet Touch. Both are great eyeliners; richly pigmented, smooth to apply, fairly long lasting.. everything you could want from a basic black eyeliner really. But what of this waterproof claim? Presumably, as with waterproof mascara, the point is that should you get caught in an unexpected rainshower or have a bit of a cry, you won't end up looking panda-eyed.

I decided to give the waterproof moniker an extreme test by wearing both liners swimming. I wear googles, so it's not like I've expected them to bear 40 lengths of immersion; the level of exposure is more condensation from my skin within the goggles and a few quick dips underwater.

Here are some comparisons. Bear in mind I didn't put any effort into applying the liner (I wasn't expecting it to really stick around long) - just stroked a line along my lash line and went to the pool.

As you can see, both have transferred and smudged a little bit underneath the eye, and in the case of the Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes, transferred to the lid too. However, both pencils stayed put a good deal more than I expected them to, and neither of them looked excessively messy post-swim. Comparing the two, they are pretty much on a par, which is interesting given that the MUFE offering costs £11.95, and the GOSH alternative costs just £5.

Either of these pencils would be viable if you're aiming to protect against heavy rain or tears, although I'd probably call them water resistant instead of waterproof. The only truly waterproof eyeliner I've tried is MAC's Liquid Last Liner, which is so waterproof that it's a bugger to get off.

If you'd like to conduct your own water-related eyeliner test, you can grab the GOSH Velvet Touch liner from Superdrug for £5, or the Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes liner from Guru Makeup Emporium for £11.95.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

"Is blogging the new media?"

Whatever your opinion, we just want to share our passion for beauty.

So we were wandering along at IMATS, browsing and swatching away, when we were engaged in conversation by a woman we now know to be Sam Donald, who runs a website called Makeup Advice Forum. (No we're not bloody linking to her - there's a screencap below.)

She had clocked our press passes and wanted to know what publication we were with. She gave us her business card and chatted briefly, and she seemed nice enough, telling us "we've got a few bloggers on board at the site". We put the cards in our shopping bags and moved on, thinking nothing of it.

What we didn't realise however, was that beneath her civil exterior, Sam was positively fuming with resentment at the fact that MERE BLOGGERS had received IMATS press passes. How dare we? (How dare anyone, in fact, without due qualification or credentials, start up a Blogger account and make a success of it?)

Sam has written an impassioned article on her site, which apparently is "is qualified to sit as a [glossy] magazine" (which is why she had a press pass we suppose, although we've yet to speak to anyone today who has heard of it, or her.)

She has deleted our (very polite) comments from her site, so we will use our own (though apparently inferior) blog to respond to some of her points.

Sam believes that bloggers are not a legitimate part of what she calls "The Media" (capitalisation is hers). She's also had a good old read of our blog. She says our posts are too long and that we "talk for the sake of talking", amongst other things. Well, horses for courses, Sam. Your bitter screed about beauty bloggers and blogging was pretty long too.

Apparently we should adopt Sam's "journalistic style", which is summarised thus: "I talk about the good and bad points of a product and my articles have a start, a discussion, and a conclusion." Sounds a bit like my GCSE science write-ups, Sam. I think we'll stick with what we know.

On a factual note - Sam takes issue with this post about hygiene at department store makeup counters. She has got it into her head that the counter where Sarah nearly caught pink-eye was a Benefit counter. Though we allude to the fact that Benefit's hard-sell technique can be pretty OTT, it certainly wasn't stated or suggested in the post that Benefit have poor counter hygiene. The counter in question was NOT a Benefit counter, and we have no reason to believe that Benefit counters are in any way unsanitary. Sam has gotten the wrong end of the stick here and we apologise to Benefit on behalf of Sam, who has called their hygiene into doubt with her erroneous post.

She then expostulates about the fact that Sarah didn't march up to the management there and then and complain after the incident with the unsanitised pencil. Apparently this would have been better than "allowing them to be badmouthed across the internet." We didn't, though Sam. We deliberately left the company name out. It's you who is splashing the brand name "Benefit" around in association with poor hygiene. And it wasn't even a Benefit counter.

Additionally, Sam supposes that since Sarah went over to Clarins to borrow some remover to take the makeup off, she must have slagged off the brand to the Clarins staff too. Sam, not that it's any of your business, but actually no. The staff at Clarins were happy enough with the much more tactful explanation "I had a makeover that I don't really like."

A complaint was made later about counter hygiene, via the brand's website, after seeing comments on the blog and mulling it over a bit. It was explained in the article that Sarah did not want to get the sales girl in question scapegoated for what appeared to be a general problem. We hope that the complaint did result in some retraining at the counter, but we are not the makeup police. We're consumers.

Consumers. It says it in our About Us page, and it isn't something we're trying to hide. Unlike Sam, we don't want or expect to be classed alongside "glossy magazines", and we certainly don't wish to lay the law down about how our readers or other bloggers who stop by should think or behave. In fact, as with the example above, we get at least as much information and advice from our readers and the rest of the blogging community as we give out. Sam's antiquated model of teacher-pupil, decree-obey relationships between experts and lay people just doesn't hold any water in contemporary culture.

Sam appears to be worried that bloggers post irresponsibly, trashing products and swaying common opinion on things they know nothing about. Well Sam, that's quite flattering to us who write blogs, and quite insulting to those who read blogs, but it just doesn't work that way, at least not any more. People who write about beauty do not have guru-like respect automatically these days. They have to earn it by writing well, telling the truth, and giving readers content that they want to read.

"The Media" in its current incarnation, and these things called "WebLogs" that you've discovered Sam (apparently a discovery that in your book is something akin to finding maggots in your cold cream) are just not about that kind of prescriptivism. People read the blogs they like. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of blogs on beauty, written and read worldwide. People choose to read those they like and ignore those they don't. Brands and PR consultants recognise the power of blogging and are reaching out to bloggers all the time, creating relationships beneficial to both sides.

I think we should celebrate that variety and choice, and enjoy the richness of content available to us. Some of it may be poorly-written, biased, boring even, but there will always be something else to read if one or other blog doesn't float your boat. Blogging is democratic, in that readers choose. It's merit-based, in that the best blogs succeed. And it's open to everyone, in that anyone, professional or otherwise, can start a blog and make a go of it.

Whether snobs like Sam Donald like it or not.

Below is a screencap of Sam's article. We didn't include include all of the comments for space reasons - there are many, voicing different opinions. Almost like on a blog...

Wishlist: Tangle Teezer

I have thick, curly hair. I usually make it more-or-less manageable by using a thick conditioner, covering it in curl cream, and leaving it to dry naturally. But when I want to wear it straight, the prospect of combing it through so I can begin blowdrying mostly makes me think OUCH. Similarly, brushing out my stepdaughter's hair is a task that makes her go OUCH, regardless of how gentle I am.

Enter the Tangle Teezer; it found fame on the Dragons Den, and has since gone on to be a bit of a hit product. I never really saw the point, thinking that it just seemed to be an ergonomic comb.. until a hairdresser recently used it on my hair before a blowdry.

As she gently worked it through my hair, I found that there was no pulling, no snagging, and no tugging. I have no idea how it works, but it definitely does work; detangling hair is much, much easier with this than it is with a regular brush (or comb). I want one for myself, and one for my stepdaughter after trying to tame her long, thick hair this weekend.

If you'd like to try one for yourself, you can get them in a range of colours from for £9.75.

B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful Store Closures

Walking down Oxford Street yesterday, I noticed that the B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful store has turned into a Sunglasses Hut. The website still lists the Oxford Street store in it's stockists list, and the original announcement hasn't been updated in a while.

The closure has been on the cards for some time now, but it's starting to look imminent - if there's anything you're after from B, now is probably a good time to get it!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Yaby Best of Both Worlds palette - pics and EOTD

This Yaby palette is easily my most extravagant makeup purchase of 2010 so far. Even with the IMATS show discount, it was pretty pricy at £64.99. I decided I had to have it on the Sunday of the show after buying a few of the single shades on the Saturday.

Best of Both Worlds is one of Yaby's pre-filled kits, with 40 shadow pans in one of their customisable palettes. This isn't the exact Best of Both Worlds layout. I have swapped a few pans with the singles I bought. Like "Highlighted", that neon yellow.

It's extremely easily to change the pans around or replace empties. You just press down on the edge of the pan with your finger and out it pops. Very well designed. The palette generally is a solid piece of work, with a decent mirror and a pleasant, smooth weightiness in the hand. If Apple made palettes, they might look a bit like this.

I think one of the most powerful draws for me was the miniature-ness of the pans. They're like adorable little buttons. I've always been a sucker for tiny things, and when tininess is combined with cosmetic-ness, I'm sort of helpless to resist. The palettes also remind me of the Bobbi Brown Brights LE palette which was around last summer and which I wanted quite badly at the time.

There are two textures in this palette (hence Best of Both), regular eyeshadows, and Pearl Paints. The Pearl Paints are buttery opaque shimmer dreaminess, and the regular shadows aren't half bad either - very pigmented and smooth.

Here's my attempt to create a suitably bright look with my new toy. I'm not entirely happy with this (nnng at not getting shadow in crease exactly) but it does give a suggestion of the finish and opacity these shadows can achieve. My camera has washed the colours out quite a bit.

Yaby cosmetics are available in the UK from The Makeup Artist Boutique. The Best of Both palette costs a rather daunting £79.99, but it is quite a special bit of kit. And you won't need to say "I don't have any [x colour] eyeshadow" ever, ever again.
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Review: Snowberry Beauty

Disclosure: We were sent sample products to try out by Snowberry's PR agents.

Snowberry Beauty has recently made it over to the UK from its homeland, New Zealand, and takes an interesting (and refreshingly honest) stance on organic and natural beauty. While their products are reportedly full of anti-oxidants and natural ingredients, they don't claim to be all natural or aim for organic certification. The emphasis is on creating products that work, rather than creating products which can fly the natural/organic banner, while still excluding petrochemicals, sulphates, artificial colouring, silicones and glycols. The packaging is pretty cute too.

I've been testing out samples of the Face Serum, Night Creme, Day Creme (Lite and Rich), and Eye Serum. As the sample pack I was sent contained pretty much everything you could need for your routine apart from makeup remover and exfoliator, I've been using the entire range in place of my usual products for two weeks. In the interests of brevity, I'm not going to go into in-depth reviews of each product, but talk about the range as a whole.

In general, the products are very light in texture, and begin sinking into the skin as you apply them; there's no need to massage them in at all. Despite this, only a small amount is needed to cover the whole face. Interestingly, each product smells different, and is differently coloured; indeed, some of the products don't smell or look particularly appealing. I suspect that this is because Snowberry only include ingredients that actually make a difference to the skin.

After two weeks, I can honestly say that my skin looks better than before. It is smoother, softer, more radiant, and more even in tone - I've even had a few compliments! I've not suffered from any extremes of oiliness or dryness in any of the usual patches on my face - the products seem to have normalised my skin. I'm very, very impressed with the results I've seen, particularly from the amount of product used; most of the samples contained 3ml or 4ml of product - a little goes a long way.

So far - so perfect. Now, of course, we have to discuss the price. For example, the Face Serum I tried costs £200 for 30ml, and the Night Creme costs £152 for 50ml. Hugely expensive, yes, even when you consider that 4ml of serum lasted me two weeks, so 30ml would probably last around four months. If I was fortune enough to have infinite pots of money, I would definitely repurchase, as the range has made a visible difference to my skin.. but with a normal salary, I think I'm going to have to pass.

If you have the cash, I'd recommend you give this brand a go. You can find the products at Harvey Nichols, where they range from £24 for the toner, to £200 for the Face Serum.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

NOTD: Nails Inc Fulham Road

Nails Inc's Fulham Road polish will always have a special place in my heart because I wore it on my wedding day. A pretty pale silvery pinky-lilac, it complemented my purple wedding dress a treat whilst still being feminine and subtle.

The photo on the left shows three coats layered up; this is a fairly sheer polish, and you still get a bit of visible nail line. It looks especially pretty as a more modern french manicure shade; two coats on top of a classic white tip looks pretty but not passe.

Wear is pretty good, as with all Nails Inc shades - a good four or five days without chips, and any tipwear is pretty discreet due to the pale colour. Application is smooth as well, and it dries relatively quickly. If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can get it at BeautyBay for £10.50.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

NOTD: Mavala Vitality polish

Disclosure: This polish was given to us free of charge for review purposes.

I am more than a little bit in love with this colour. It's the very palest, dustiest lilac, so nearly a pink, but with just enough blue tones to tip it into the more unusual and striking lilac/lavender/purple category. It's charming by itself, but when it's offset by grey, brown or black clothes (most of your typical boring "office clothes" colours in fact) it comes into its own even more.

Mavala polishes are small and highly collectable, and come in a huge range of shades and finishes. Vitality is one of their "Harmony" Spring Collection shades. (The website says Spring 2009, but as far as we know these are current shades. NB I am trying very hard to ignore the grammatical error in the banner.) It costs around £3.95 (depending on where you buy it), which isn't at all bad for a polish of this quality, even if it is a 5ml tiddler. These photos were taken on the third day of wear, and as you can see there's no chipping or damage whatsoever. (3 coats over Boots No. 7 So Smooth base, finished with Sally Hansen Insta-Dri top coat.)

You can find Mavala at various chemists and department stores throughout the UK. I know for sure that there is a display of them in the pharmacy bit at Selfridges on Oxford St. Mavala's website have a handy postcode based stockist search too. And you can even recommend which stores you think should stock Mavala via their online feedback form.
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We're giving away two prizes to our readers - each is a collection of products, mostly from UK brands. The competition is open to both UK and international readers.

To enter, just leave us a comment below, telling us about your best/biggest/most enjoyable product haul. It could be half of Selfridges or just a couple of bits from Boots, just let us know what you bought and why it made you so happy.

We've also recently introduced Google Friend Connect on the blog, so if you think we're worth following, it would be great to see your name there on the list if you've entered.

The prizes will be allocated at random to two lucky entrants.

Prize 1:
Boots 17 Lip Glaze (Rising Star), Maybelline Define-A-Lash mascara (black, waterproof), Cargo Plant Love lipstick (shade Lola), Barry M Dazzle Dust (shade 69), Boots Protect and Perfect serum (small sample size), MUD eyeshadow pan (Sienna)

Prize 2:
Cargo Oil Free foundation (shade F20, pale/warm), Boots 17 Lip Glaze (Remember Me), Barry M Lip Gloss (Shade 4), Boots 17 Eye Dazzle (shade All At Sea), MUD eyeshadow pan (Sienna), Barry M Nail Paint (shade 284)

The giveaway will close on Saturday February 27th at 12.00 midday GMT. Good luck everyone!
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Friday, 12 February 2010

Review: L'Annine Hand and Body Cream

The recent cold weather we've been having is playing havoc with my hands. They can be dry at the best of times, but the cold snap, combined with my scratching and pulling at dry patches (something I do when stressed) has left them ultra-dry, ragged, and with a strange scaly patch down one finger. So, when a recent MakeupAlley swap turned up with a sample sachet of L'Annine hand and body cream, I ripped it open and gave it a go.

I'd not heard of L'Annine before, and having done some research, it seems that the brand is more widely available in the US. The cream, which comes in a variety of fragrances, claims to promote healing of the skin as well as providing effective moisturisation.

It's a fairly thick, heavy cream, and when I initially started rubbing a good dollop into my hands, I worried that I'd put on far too much, as it went white and completely coated my hands. However, a few more moments of rubbing in, and it was gone - for such a thick cream, it's very quickly absorbed. My hands were left coated, but in a non-sticky, non-offensive way - I was able to use keyboard and mouse immediately without transferring gunk all over them.

After several hours, my hands are definitely softer, and the strange scaly patch of skin on my finger barely feels different to the rest of my hands. Whilst I've washed my hands multiple times since application, my hands still feel moisturised and haven't started looking and feeling dry again.

Overall, I'm very impressed, and very pleased to have discovered this cream - while it's hard to find over here, it is available on eBay and on some US based webstores which will ship internationally. A 2.2oz tube will set you back about $16 - and I think I'll be ordering some soon, as no other cream I've tried this winter has been anywhere near as effective at moisturising my hands.

If you'd like to try it, it's available from and Not sure about international shipping from BeautyHabit, but Dermstore seem to charge around $20.

Coming Up On The London Beauty Review...

Tune in tomorrow for a giveaway - Sarah will be posting some lovely products up for you to win. Don't miss out!

We've also got plenty of reviews coming up, including:
  • Eve Lom cleanser
  • Snowberry skincare
  • Philosophy Oxygen Peel
  • Liz Earle skincare
  • Yaby eyeshadows
  • Mavala nail hardener
  • Skin MD Naturals lotion
  • NYX jumbo eyeshadow pencils
  • GOSH eyeliners
  • Makeup Forever HD powder
Whew. In amongst all of that, we'll be bringing you some DIY beauty recipes, and possibly a few more surprise giveaways.

As always, if there's a product you'd like reviewed, don't hesitate to contact us!

Review: Mavala Red Diamond Nail Polish

Disclaimer: We received this polish free of charge from Mavala's PR agents

Mavala's Red Diamond polish is simply red glitter suspended in a clear base. The photo to the left shows four fairly thick coats applied, which gives a reasonable opacity. Once applied, this really has a beautiful glow about it - and it's not overly glittery from a distance, as the glitter particles are so small.

One of the problems that I think you get in layering this polish up to get an opaque effect is that the finish can become uneven. To the right, you can see a more close-up picture, and the coverage is a little patchy and sparse on the tips of the nails. Surprisingly though, this doesn't dry bumpy as many other glitter polishes do.

One thing I love about this polish is that the small sized bottle still has a full-size, usable brush, unlike the last mini OPI I tried out. This makes the smaller size just about perfect; I'm a bit fickle with polish and have never used a full size bottle of polish up, and I'm far more likely to deplete this size.

All in all, while I like the effect of this polish, I doubt I'll be wearing it layered like this again - I think it'd work better as a topcoat over a flat red, as you'd get all the beautiful glitter, and none of the visible patchiness.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can get Mavala polishes at chemists and online at Fero Beauty, where it will cost you £2.80 per bottle (bargain).

Thursday, 11 February 2010

MAN REVIEW! Malin+Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant

Disclosure: This product was given to us free of charge for review purposes.

Today's review is written by Jon, who kindly took on testing duties for this product.

I've long been of the opinion that the world of deodorants, especially with those targeted at men, was a bit of a strange one. The focus seems to be on absolute dryness, total evasion of perspiration at all cost - so much so, that it's extremely difficult to find a deodorant in high street shops that isn't also an anti-perspirant.

I'll admit that my armpits are a generally quite sweaty place, so much so that I've pretty much given up entirely on the notion that an anti-perspirant can actually work for longer than half an hour or so. I've tried various different forms (aeresol, roll-on, stick) and brands (run-of-the-mill stuff from Sure, Right Guard, Nivea etc. to premium efforts by Anthony and Lab Series), and haven't had any success with any of them. Perhaps my prolific sweating is abnormal in this regard, but from my experience the logic seems to follow that if you block up your skin with anti-perspirant, the sweat glands will actually work harder to find a way for the sweat to get through. There is, surely, a reason that we sweat other than to simply embarrass.

As a result of my many failed anti-perspirant trials, I've tended to stick with deodorants that promise only to stop me from smelling foul. Only Sarah would be in a position to tell you whether that particular mission has actually been a successful one! My current anti-ming of choice is the Deodorising Body Spray from the Charles Worthington Results For Men line. It doesn't clog the skin and has a fairly light, apple-tinged fragrance, whilst retaining a degree of masculinity. The only real problem I have with it is that it's now discontinued. Typical. Luckily I managed to grab a big batch off eBay before it all disappeared, but sooner or later I'll need to find an alternative. Enter the sample of Malin + Goetz Eucalyptus Deodorant Sarah kindly gave me to try in return for these here thoughts.

Taking the form of a twistable stick, the packaging is refreshingly non-gender-specific (or simply minimalist?) and feels well-put-together. The fragrance is light and cool, obviously reminiscent of eucalyptus, but also a bit of lemon with a menthol-esque cool hit. This is a very good thing. To me, it's neither particularly a feminine nor masculine scent - it reminds me a bit of a less potent version of the Iceberg Twice Eau de Toilette I used to have. It's an alcohol and aluminium-free recipe that absorbs in easily and doesn't feel sticky (a problem I'd often associate with 'stick' deodorants) or greasy. So far so good, then.

Testing over a few days, it seems that over the course of a day, the Malin + Goetz deodorant does its job with the minimum of fuss. It might be my imagination, but I also didn't seem to sweat as much as I normally would - perhaps this is due to its alcohol-free nature. I'm not certain that it really does last 24 hours as promised, and its effects were certainly at least a little reduced by bedtime, but over a standard waking day, I can't see this being a problem. Besides, I'm perhaps not a fair test subject, being a relentless sweaty git.

So overall, I'd say i'm impressed. The Malin + Goetz is certainly something I'd consider using long-term - at £15 a throw, it's definitely a premium item, but no more expensive than its competitors. Check it out, yo.

Malin + Goetz products are available at Liberty, or online from HQHair.

Swatches: OPI Alice in Wonderland Glitter Polishes

Yes, I know this is old news, but a darling friend passed on her OPI Alice in Wonderland mini set, and I couldn't resist swatching the glitters on my little fingers immediately. Please forgive my cuticles, this cold weather is doing nothing for my hands!

To the left, Mad As A Hatter, which is a multi-coloured, rainbow glitter, with a predominantly silver/black glitter base. It is beautiful, as anticipated, and I should think that any glitter lover would be amply pleased with it. Three thin coats gives the opacity shown here.

To the right, Absolutely Alice, which is mid-blue glitter with some gold in it. I wasn't expecting a lot from this one, having been distracted by the rainbow-sparkly Mad As A Hatter, but this is also absolutely gorgeous. The blue is a rich, swimming pool shade, which has a pretty inner glow. Again, three thin coats required to get an opaque finish.

On a slight side note, this is the second time I've used polishes from a set of mini bottles by OPI, and I hate them. While there are a lot of benefits in having a smaller bottle, particularly the fact that few of us ever get to the end of a bottle of polish, the tiny brush is so much harder to use that it takes longer to get decent coverage across a nail.

The colours themselves are beautiful, and I suspect I might have to cave and purchase both full sizes come payday.
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