Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Naked Bodycare's Rose face wash and White Ginger shower gel

Disclosure - PR sample

I've lost count of the number of times I've recommended Naked products to friends. Want to cut out SLS? Try Naked! Want to lose the silicones? Naked's your brand! Wary of mineral oil? Naked fits the bill! Parabens got you nervous? Naked's the answer! Want an affordable, ethical, cruelty-free range that works? Give Naked a go!

Basically for all those reasons, Naked's formulas are a welcome addition to the high street. But did I also mention that they work well, smell great and are nice and cheap? Well, they are. (So there.)

I've amassed a decent collection of Naked shower gels and hair products already, but I wasn't aware until we were contacted by their PR that Naked also do face products. I gladly accepted the chance to try the Naked Rose Softening Face Wash (£3.99), as well as the warming White Ginger shower gel (also £3.99), which I figured would be good for a bit of extra glow during the coming autumn months.

Both are up to the usual Naked standard - fresh, clear foaming formulas that despite the lack of SLS are thorough at cleansing. Perhaps due to that same lack of SLS, they're gentle on the skin and leave it softer and smoother than most drugstore-priced products. Both are also beautifully fragranced - the White Ginger gives my (much pricier) Origins Ginger body wash a run for its money in the scent stakes.

The Rose face wash was the real stand-out for me however, leaving facial skin soft, clean and bright, without the drying effects common to many SLS-bearing cleansers available at this price point. I'd happily rely on this as a sole cleanser, as it also does a good job of removing makeup. I'm dallying with both oil and hot cloth cleansers at the moment, but I also like to keep a foaming cleanser in the shower for days when I don't want to faff about with a separate cleansing session. The Naked Rose face wash is a perfect candidate for this particular task, and will be repurchased quicksmart when it runs out.

I know this post sounds overly gushy and positive, and maybe you're wondering if our impartial blogger hats have slipped a bit, but the truth is that these are well performing, low priced and beautifully scented products that really do deserve praise. I've told my friends, I'm telling you - I really really recommend this stuff.

Naked products are available at selected Boots stores, at Boots online and directly from Naked's newly revamped website, where you can currently get the White Ginger shower gel free with any purchase. Offer ends today, so act now to avoid disappointment.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Review: Hylexin Eye Cream for Serious Dark Circles

Disclosure: Sent as a PR sample

Ah, dark circles.  I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't think she suffers from them, and I'm very aware that my dark circles might appear deeper and darker to my eyes than to others.  Still, that doesn't stop me from trying to do something about them, and so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to try out Hylexin.

Hylexin claims to address dark circles, pigmentation, and "undereye bulges" - bags, to you and me.  It's one of those products which attracts complete polarisation of opinion, with some people adoring it, and others finding that it did nothing.  The difference in effect seems to be based in the type of dark circle - if yours are genetic or related to lack of sleep, anecdotal evidence suggests that this won't have much of an effect.

The product itself is a standard cream, delivered in some lovely packaging - the tube has a pump on the end, keeping the product fresh and away from grubby fingers, whilst allowing you to squish every last drop out.  The usage instructions state that only a tiny amount of product is needed, and I found that a half a pump was enough to adequately coat my eye area.  The cream is quickly absorbed, and leaves the eye area feeling moisturised.  I found that my undereye concealer glided on very nicely, which was a nice surprise.

But enough of that:  it's all about the results!  Here's a comparison photo:

I'd been using Hylexin for around two months when the After photo was taken.  Ignoring the obvious discrepancies in lighting and badly removed eyeliner, my undereye shadow does look a bit less blue and bruised, and I've found myself skipping the undereye concealer a few times - so I reckon it has made a difference.  It's not a world-changing difference, but I believe it's a noticeable one.

So, would I buy a new tube based on this improvement?  Well... I'd like to say yes, but the sticking point for me is the price.  A tube of Hylexin costs £52 in Harvey Nichols, which is a massive amount to spend on what looks like a fairly small improvement.  That said, the tube isn't quite finished yet, and I've been using it for over two months.  It's definitely worth a try if your dark shadows bother you; if you can find a sample tube or ask an American friend to send one over for you ($59 over there, typically) to see if it works for you, then do - you might find that this makes a noticeable difference.

If you'd like to try Hylexin for yourself, you can purchase it online or in store from Harvey Nichols, where it will cost you £52 for 15ml.  What do you think?  Worth the cash?  Do your dark circles bother you?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Mavala and Elle 25th Anniversary Polish

Disclosure - PR sample

Believe it or not, Elle magazine is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. 25 years - that's a lot of fashion. I'm imagining 25 years' worth of back issues right now, and it's got to be a pretty big pile of mags.

Anyway, to mark the occasion, they've hooked up with Swiss manicure miniaturists Mavala to create a limited edition nail shade called - what else? - Elle. When I first read the press release I was expecting something bright, maybe a hot pink or a dark red, something timeless. However this is a decidedly contemporary shade, a grungy sludgy slate colour that leans towards mauve.

Personally, I love it. I'm a fan of both the shade and the application (which typically for Mavala is smooth and creamy, opaque in 2 coats). As a halfway-type shade that hovers between two colours, it's right up my street. However I can't help but notice the similarity to a certain Chanel it-polish that's just been released.

For an anniversary shade celebrating the iconography of a long-running publication, this is kind of surprising. I get that fashion is about being conscious of the latest trends, and that's something that Elle prizes highly. But an anniversary polish would have been the perfect opportunity to express the brand in a unique, original way. What I'm seeing here is less about Elle's anniversary and more about tying in with what other people are doing at the moment.

What do you think? Does this polish sum up the Elle brand for you, or is it just a dupe?

Mavala's Elle will be exclusively available at John Lewis from 1st September, priced at £3.95 for 5ml.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Urban Decay Book of Shadows 3 - how does it compare to Books 1 and 2?

Disclosure - Book 3 is a PR sample

I can still remember the wave of acute longing that washed over me when I saw the first press images for the original Urban Decay Book of Shadows. A long-term UD palette devotee, I felt that my prayers had been answered by this 16-strong arsenal of epic eye colours, eight of which were completely exclusive, and which had been packaged up in a stunning embellished case reminiscent of a jewellery box. We're now on the 4th Book of Shadows (we've had Book 1, Book 2 and the Alice in Wonderland special), and had you told me back then that I would one day get my paws on a press sample of one of these, I wouldn't have believed you.

However, here it is. Seven exclusives, nine available elsewhere, plus two short-version 24-7 liners (Ransom and Zero) and a mini vial of UDPP. It pretty much goes without saying that this is a beautiful palette, superb value at £30 for 19 pieces and amazingly presented.

The art style is all about realism this time around, a departure from the lush, whimsical fungus-fest of Alice BOS. The pop-up display is similarly intricate, but features people and landmarks that you might expect to see in contemporary New York rather than a fantasy tableau. It's also been given light-up properties thanks to the addition of several craftily concealed LEDs that activate when the lid is opened.

I'm not going to dwell on swatches with this post, as that ground has been more than covered by the ever-awesome Lipglossiping. What I thought might be interesting, though, is to compare this BOS with its predecessors. I have BOS 1 and BOS 2, although sadly I missed out on Alice. Please note - Midnight Cowboy in my BOS 1 was traded out for a pan of Flipside (from the Foreshadow palette).

Urban Decay Naked Palette First Look: Photos and Swatches

My Naked palette arrived yesterday afternoon.  I picked it up from my office's reception and Sarah and I huddled over it, admiring it's prettiness, looking like guilty schoolgirls when one of my colleagues turned up to talk to me about work.  Such is the already cult status of Urban Decay palettes; and this one is my first.

This post is going to be image heavy - so read on after the cut to see more photos.

Autumn collection from Le Metier de Beaute

Here are some pieces from the new autumn collection from Le Metier de Beaute. The collection theme is Le Cirque de la Belle Époque. The inspiration is the eclectic combinations of performance artists that would be assembled in a Parisian circus during the Belle Epoque period in French history. The collection reflects this with unusual combinations of shades and textures. Nineteenth century circus performers? Works for us!

 Sheer Brilliance Lip Gloss in "La Belle" (£20) is described as "A  rich  chocolate  infused  with  exotic  violet  plum  undertones." Could that work? Will we try it to find out? Probably, and, probably.

For nails; a new batch of teeny tiny bottles described thusly:  "Noble  Passion  (a  blushing  nude), Dynamique (deep gothic red), High Wire (a mysterious platinum) and Magic at Dusk (the perfect sophisticated blue)" They're £10 each for 4ml.

The lip Kaleidoscope, Les Artistes (£55) is quite pale and interesting this time around. Le Metier's descriptions:
"Illusionists  (a  universally flattering  nude),  Acrobates  (a  sheer  bronze),  Magiciens  (a
shimmering rose) and Danseurs (a gold-flecked red)."
Finally, this season's Kaleidoscope for Eyes, La Cirque (£55). It's especially want-able, with a mix of jewel shades and neutrals that would suit us green-eyed people down to the ground. Here are the shade names and descriptions: "Flamboyantes  (shimmering stone), Spectacle (mauve-tinted grey), Enrichissant (midnight ruby), Dynamique (a deep sapphire)"

Welcome to my wishlist, La Cirque.

This cache of heart-breakingly lovely, bank breakingly expensive items is available in Liberty and via Liberty.co.uk from September.

What do you think? Could any of these push your wallet over the edge of reason?

Friday, 27 August 2010

New Benefit-dupe blusher boxes from Me Me Me at Superdrug

Disclosure - PR sample

It's not difficult to identify the inspiration for Me Me Me's newest cheek product. The "Blush Me" box format is very similar to the likes of Benefit Hoola, Coralista, Dandelion etc. A square pan of powder with an integral square-handled brush sitting on top, housed in a cardboard case. This is probably not the only dupe of its kind, but it stands out as a very good budget alternative to Benefit's popular square powder boxes.

The Blush Me box a great example of the way drugstore brands have caught up with high end labels when it comes to design and brand identity. The attention to detail with this product is really very impressive - from the little cupid on the side of the box to the high quality mirror set into the lid, this is a product that seems to have been created with real TLC.

The shade I was sent is Coral, which does pretty much what it says on the tin - it's a warm
summery colour with a bit of shimmer. The shade isn't subtle or unusual, but it applies fairly translucent and can be built up controllably. There's also a Pink version (which I will be purchasing when I see it).

The only area in which the Blush Me box belies its bargainous roots is the brush. Its taklon bristles are soft and skin-friendly, but sadly they're way too sparse and bend all over the place when used. The first time I put this on I actually snagged the lower corner of the handle against my cheek because the bristles were so bendy. You can see here how loosely packed the bristles are - they can be pulled away from the side of the handle very easily. For the sake of portability, this brush will do for touch ups, but to get the best out of the product, I recommend applying it with a separate powder brush.

That minor complaint aside, the Blush Me box is a great high street pick-up. Me Me Me is sold at Superdrug, and can also be bought online at mememecosmetics.co.uk. The Blush Me boxes are not yet released, and I don't yet have price details for them. However judging by the rest of the range I doubt they will cost more than £7-£8 each.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Review: Beauty Kitchen Body Scrub

Disclosure: Product sent as a PR sample.

If you read Sarah's post last week about Beauty Kitchen, you'll know that the company, based in Scotland, create natural, simple products which can be customised - from the scent, to the base of the body scrub, even down to the label.

This week I've been trying out their Body Scrub.  I received one of the off the shelf varieties, charmingly named Orange Peel Skin Body Scrub.  Made with a base of Epsom salt, with bitter orange for extra scrubbiness, and Wake Me essential oils, it's a very zingy, very scrubby affair.  The scent is a mix of bright, zesty citrus notes, with what smells like a tempering hint of black pepper.  It's lovely - very invigorating, and quite likely to wake you up if used in the morning.

As for it's scrubbing abilities, let me tell you that Epsom salts are very scrubby indeed - and sting like a bastard if you happen to have an open cut on your finger when you scoop a gob out of the jar.  So be warned.  Once applied to the skin, you'll find that the product is basically a mix of salts and oil - and it's pretty heavy on the salt, so unless you massage it into damp skin pretty sharpish, chunks of salt will fall off and be wasted.

It's a very effective scrub - because of the size of the particles used, you don't need to apply very much pressure to slough off dead skin.  I was left with skin that was significantly smoother than before, and my dry bits looked less flaky.  Be aware, though, that as this is an oil based product, you will be left with a residue on the skin post-scrub - which makes it less useful in the morning, if you have limited time at your disposal.

If you'd like to try a Beauty Kitchen product, take a look at the website, where you can customise to your heart's content, or pick up an off-the-shelf product like this.  Body scrubs cost £8.95, which is reasonable given the amount in the jar.  I'll definitely be bookmarking the site for customised, all natural gifts in the future!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Review: Boots No 7 Exceptional Definition Mascara

Disclosure: This product was sent as a PR sample.

I love mascara.  It's probably the one product I'd choose if I could only wear one product for the rest of my life (not that that's going to happen), mostly because of my pale and spindly lashes.  If you've read my mascara reviews before, you'll know that I look for VOLUME (in capitals), decent wear, and non-clumpiness.  So, when we were sent No 7's new Exceptional Definition mascara, I was a little bit apprehensive; non-clumpiness was promised by the Definition part of the name, but where was the VOLUME?  I was slightly worried.

The description, thankfully, cleared things up: this mascara, due to its conditioning formula and "magic wand" brush, is designed to give both definition and volume.  I think that the brush is indeed the star of the show with this mascara - it's a three in one affair, with two lengths of normal bristles, and a tip that's a little reminiscent of that crazy spherical Givenchy brush.  It's a rubbery brush, which I personally love, and it has that wonderful bendyness that makes it difficult to poke yourself in the eye, yet easy to manoeuvre.  The two bristle lengths really help to give excellent definition while coating every lash, and the spiky end helped me to target my very outer lashes, which I sometimes find hard to reach with a straight brush.

This photo shows my (spindly, pale) lashes with two coats applied.  As you can see, there is not a jot of clumping in sight, and the lashes are full, voluminous, and indeed exceptionally defined.  While the mascara isn't the most dramatic or the blackest thing I've ever put on my lashes, it looks pretty good - and my lashes felt good too, as the mascara dries soft on the lashes with no crispiness at all.  Wear was also good, with no flaking or smudging after a 14 hour day.

I really like this mascara.  The only criticism I could possibly make is that the spherical spiky bit on the end of the brush can over emphasise those little lashes close to the tear duct - but that's easily remedied by placing the brush further towards the middle of the eye, rather than starting further in.  I'd go as far as to say that I'd place this mascara up with some of my favourite high end ones.  Priced at just £12, it's a high performing bargain.  I rather think I'll be repurchasing.

If you'd like to try No 7 Exceptional Definition mascara, you can find it in Boots stores and online, in black and brown-black, where it will cost you just £12.

New Autumn Colour Rebellion eye palette from No. 7

Disclosure - PR sample

The Colour Rebellion eyeshadow palette is part of No. 7's autumn collection, which also features some lovely matte lipsticks, a matte nail polish top coat and other nice things (of which more in due course). Autumn is probably our favourite beauty season, as it favours strong eyes and lips, pale skin and rosy cheeks. It's much easier for us to get excited about than your average summer look, which hinges around bronzer, shimmer and for some reason, frequent doses of blue eyeliner.

My first impression when opening the Colour Rebellion palette was that it strongly resembles a MAC quad. It's a sturdy black compact which features 4 bright shimmering shades in circular pans about the size of a 10 pence piece. The surface of each pan is embossed with a snakeskin pattern, echoing the packaging design of the whole collection.

I'm not a massive fan of No 7's permanent eyeshadows, which can tend towards being low on pigment and high in particle size in my experience. However, the limited collections often far exceed my expectations, and this palette is definitely a good example of that. Each colour packs a good punch and despite the strength of the colours, they all play well together, suggesting that it's been carefully thought out.

The four bold shades swatch pretty well, but it's when applied on the eyelid that they really come into their own. Even the purple, which on the wrist here is the weakest of the bunch, creates a strong look when washed over the eyelid. It's comparable to MAC's Parfait Amour, with a multi-dimensional shimmer that makes it very wearable and pretty.

Here's a quick EOTD using the four colours from the quad to show you what I mean.

If you can pick one of these quads up at your local Boots, I definitely recommend doing so. The palette, along with the rest of the autumn collection, is on sale until 5 October. I can't find it on the Boots website unfortunately, but I can tell you that it's in store now and the RRP is a very reasonable £13.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Review: Erbaviva Embrace Bath Oil

I'm very aware that many of the bath oils that Sarah and I rave about are of the Extremely Expensive variety.  So recently, despite not needing any more bath oil, I decided to buy a bottle of Erbaviva's organic bath oil, in the interest of scientific experimentation (ahem).

Erbaviva's bath oils are significantly cheaper than some of the £35 bottles we've been testing recently, coming in at a decent £12-£15 for 100ml.  There are four scent varieties; Breathe, Awaken, Balance, and Embrace.  I chose to purchase Embrace, which includes grapefruit, orange and jasmine oils.  Despite sounding like quite a zingy combination, the scent is deep, warm, and relaxing - it's described as "romantic", and it does have that slightly spicy, sensuous thing going on.  It's a great scent for a relaxing pre-bedtime bath (even if my husband does complain that it makes me smell like hippies).

A small amount poured into a bath will disperse across the surface of the water.  It will leave your skin feeling subtly perfumed, soft, but with a definite residue - this is not the kind of oil you want to use if you need to get dressed after your bath.  If you're going to go straight to bed, or put on a fluffy robe and wander about, it's fine, but you'll be too greasy once you get out of the water to get dressed immediately.  The upside of this is that you definitely don't need body lotion after bathing in this - simply allow the oil to soak into the skin.  I like a low-effort way of body moisturisation.

In a way, trialling this oil (and a few other cheaper varieties I have in my collection) serves to highlight the difference between expensive and affordable bath oils.  Expensive oils tend to dissipate and emulsify in the water, leaving little to no residue on the skin, whilst still giving you that heady scent and soft skin.  More affordable oils tend to sit on the surface of the bath, leaving the skin with a residue.  Both have their uses, and depending on the level of moisture you want and the time you have, either can become a lovely part of your bathing routine.

Anyway, back to the Erbaviva - I really like the scent, the inexpensive price tag, and the level of moisture it provides once it sinks in.  Personally, though, I don't much like sitting around feeling oily for a long while - so I doubt I'll repurchase.  If your skin is ultra dry, it might appreciate the residue more than mine does!

If you'd like to try this for yourself, you can find it at BeautyBay.com, where it will cost you £12 for 100ml.

Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Kit for Eyes

This cute little compact from Trish McEvoy is teeny tiny - the same size as a credit card, and just a little bit thicker.  It contains a base shadow, a highlighting shadow, an eye definer shadow, a dual purpose eye definer shadow / brow colour, and four lid/crease colours - all in neutral, usable shades.  I can't help but make comparisons with Urban Decay's latest cult palette, given the neutral shades - but I think that in terms of portability and overall luxuriousness, this might have the high end edge.

I can imagine this handy little kit would be very useful for travel, with pretty much everything you could need for a variety of eye looks bar mascara and maybe a primer, if like me you suffer from oily lids.  It would also be a great option for those who apply makeup on the train or otherwise on the go.

Available from 1st September at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, it costs £30 - which makes it an affordable luxe purchase.  I'm rather tempted to pop down and grab one of these for myself - and I'm told I'll need to do it sharpish, as the reasonable price and dinky size make it likely to sell out quickly.

What do you think?  Is this something you'd be be interested in?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Review: Eyeko Cream

Disclosure: This product was sent as a PR sample.

You've probably been reading a lot about Eyeko Cream recently, more specifically its latest incarnation, Extra Glow, which promises a more silvery glow than the original gold.

In essence, Eyeko cream is a, well, cream based product with a fine shimmer to it, which imparts a glow to the skin.  Nothing particularly groundbreaking there.  One of its main selling points is that it's a three in one product - as well as being used as a traditional highlighter, it can be used as a moisturiser or as an eye cream.  This, for me, is a bit mad - shimmery eye cream? I think not.

As a moisturiser, though, it's surprisingly pretty, if you apply sparingly; I've tried it both under my lightest coverage foundation, and mixed in with a medium coverage foundation, and have found that it adds a subtle glow which doesn't smack of "dewy" - which to me always ends up meaning "shiny".  Used as a traditional highlighter, its also very effective; the texture of the cream is reasonably light and while it does take a bit of blending, it doesn't sit greasily on the skin, like some other budget highlighters.

So what's the difference between the two shades?  While you might think that the difference would be quite subtle, comparing the two products side by side shows them to be quite obviously different.  The photo to the left shows the creams swatched quite heavily, with the Extra Glow variety on the left and the original cream to the right.  On my pinkish skin, the silvery cast of the Extra Glow cream is much more flattering (in my opinion), and I could well imagine that the golden variety would look fabulous with a tan.

With the cream being sold at the rather reasonable price of £8, and the shimmer effect pretty well concentrated, I've been using only the tiniest dab for each application.  So far I've made absolutely no dent in the tub whatsoever - I imagine that this is one product quite likely to go stale long before you reach the end.  A very good budget multitasker - although not quite so much of a multitasker as you'd be led to believe!

If you'd like to try Eyeko Extra Glow cream for yourself, you can find it at the Eyeko website.  Have you tried this?  Do you like it?  If anyone does use this as an eye cream, I'd be very curious to hear more!

New Gorilla Perfumes at Lush - first impressions

Disclosure - PR sample

We've posted a couple of times about the new Gorilla Perfume scents releasing at Lush, and the happy day has now arrived - the whole (banana) bunch is available online and in store.

We were scent a handful of tester vials to try out, and as a result, I'm currently sitting here covered in perfume. I've got a little patch of each scent in various places on my arms and wrists, and I'm sniffing each one in turn trying to decide which ones I like best.

As I excepted from the description, The Smell of Weather Turning is a real hit with me. It combines the minty freshness of "Dirty" with the Swarfega-tastic scent of "Grass", and dries down to an earthy and very natural smell, not too sweet, and easy to wear.

The Smell of Freedom is another of the brand new titles I was excited about trying, as it's designed as a "tryptich" fragrance with three different characters represented in the notes. Sadly, on me its lemony top note never really dissipates and I end up with a soapy, one-dimensional smell.

I like Lust more than I thought I would - it's a bright, honeyed floral that reminds me strongly of Lush's Flying Fox shower gel. While its main note is jasmine, it's been given a bit of extra volume and dynamism and is far more saucy and sensual than the floral posy I was expecting. It's maybe a bit too syrupy and indolic for some, but it has a sweet cheerfulness that I'm warming to as I wear it.

Another floral that's been turbo-charged is Imogen Rose - unlike many rose scents it's no powdery Turkish Delight confection, instead it's earthy, incense-driven and on me it errs on the side of downright dirty. I don't think it's for me, but I can imagine it being a powerful and beguiling weapon in the right hands.

Of the new releases, Smell of Weather and Lust would be my picks, but don't forget this is also a chance to revisit the wonderful scent wardrobe created for B Never Too Busy to be Beautiful - favourites like B Scent, Cocktail and Ladyboy have all been resurrected for the Gorilla line. I'm happiest of all to be reunited with Dirty - I know it's a scent for men but I can't get enough of its minty freshness.

All of the Gorilla perfumes can be purchased in several sizes, including the 2ml sample vials shown above which are a snip at around £3 each. If you're curious but don't want to splash out on a full bottle straight away, these are a brilliant way to road test.

Have you tried any of the new Gorilla scents at Lush? What do you think?

Urban Decay Naked Palette Now Available

The Urban Decay Naked palette is now available in the UK via House of Fraser online, which is slightly odd as reports had it as a Debenhams exclusive.

Anyhow - it's available now - and no doubt will sell out fast, so get your credit card ready and head over to the House of Fraser website to grab yours.  It'll cost you £27, which is a reasonable price for 12 eyeshadows and a double ended eyeliner.

Are you going to be getting one of these?  I'll admit to having placed my order fairly sharpish this morning!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

20% Off Everything At CherryCulture

I love CherryCulture.  Just as I was looking at some NYX blushes and Milani polishes, they publish a 20% off code - use B2S20 at checkout until 24th August to grab the discount!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Review: Trish McEvoy 24 Hour Eye Shadow and Liner

Disclosure: This product was a PR sample.

Today we have a review of this beautifully packaged Trish McEvoy cream eye shadow and liner product, or rather installment 738693 of me trying to find a cream shadow that doesn't crease on my oily lids.

Firstly, about Trish McEvoy: I was surprised to learn about the extent of her line, which includes a popular fragrance range as well as the much more well known Planner product, which encapsulates makeup into a portable Filofax type thing.  I was also surprised to learn that Trish herself continues to personally run the company and still owns it herself - something very rare nowadays.

Anyway, back to the 24 Hour Eye Shadow and Liner - as its very descriptive name suggests, it's a long wearing cream product designed to work as an eye shadow and a liner.  Encased in a classy looking, weighty twist up tube, the product itself is incredibly creamy and soft.  It is absolutely the creamiest thing I've had the pleasure of playing with, providing plenty of slip and enabling it to blend gorgeously.  The colour I was given, Crystal Gray, looked quite dark in the tube, but blended out beautifully into a wearable yet smoky wash of shimmering deep grey.  I don't think you could really go wrong and over apply with this product.

The real question, for me, is whether it would truly withstand creasing and wear for 24 hours.  Well, actually, I'd be impressed if it stayed in place without creasing for a work day - 12 hours or so - let alone the full 24.  Unfortunately, it creased.  It creased badly; virtually no shadow left on my lid, all of it having migrated to the crease.

The majority of creasing happened about 7 hours into my working day; prior to this, it looked pretty fresh.  Interestingly, the slightly heavier application on my lash line survived relatively well; it was the mobile lid that caused the most problems for this shadow.

Sadly, my search for a non-creasing cream eyeshadow goes on.  Used on top of UDPP, the Trish McEvoy shadow stick did last a bit better, but still creased around the 12 hour mark - so this isn't a dream product for me.  That said, if you don't suffer from terribly oily lids, you may well find that the blendability and subtle, sophisticated finish make this a useful part of your makeup bag, particularly for creating a quick and easy smoky eye on the go.

If you'd like to try this product for yourself, you'll have to go to Selfridges or Harvey Nichols in person, or order online from the Trish McEvoy website, where a tiny 1.3g of product will cost you $32.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Review: Biotherm Skin Vivo

Disclosure: Provided as a PR sample.

I've been debating whether to write this review for quite some time.  I've been using Biotherm's Skin Vivo anti-aging cream at night for the past couple of months, and while I've not been wowed by it, it has worked its way into my heart, just by Being Nice.  But is nice enough for a premium moisturiser?

Designed for normal to combination skin, it's a gel-cream texture, which spreads very easily across the skin and feels moisturising yet absolutely light.  I apply a fairly decent blob to my face in the evenings after cleansing and find that it quenches my skin, whether it's feeling a little stripped and dry post-peel, or whether it's in its normal slightly dry state.  I always wake up to skin that feels velvety soft, with no residue or excess oil around my nose.  The scent is mild and inoffensive, and the pot probably has a month or so left in it - so about three months supply per pot.

I suppose that my favourite thing about this product is that it's gentle and predictable on my skin.  It doesn't break me out, it doesn't over moisturise, and it doesn't leave my skin feeling thirsty; it's a well balanced product that is simply a pleasure to use.

While I've not noticed a dramatic difference in the quality of my skin, I'm finding myself really liking this product, simply because it's just so nice.  It's pleasant to use, leaves my skin feeling lovely, and it layers well with facial oils and serums. For a basic moisturiser which keeps the skin nicely hydrated and leaves it looking and feeling fresh in the morning, this is a great bet.  While it is a little expensive, I'll definitely be repurchasing.

If you'd like to try this cream, you can grab it directly from Biotherm online, or from Boots, where it will cost you £37 or £38 for 50ml.

Makeovers by The Powder Room, Carnaby St

Disclosure - services provided free for review

A couple of weeks back, Gemma and I headed over to The Powder Room, a retro beauty parlour tucked away in London's Carnaby Street area. The Powder Room is run by the Powder Puff Girls, a crack team of manicurists and beauticians who also bring retro chic to London's ladies at various events and on-site sessions. The Carnaby location is a "pop up shop" (we keep hearing that phrase - we think it means that they're temporary). Despite this, it's lavishly decorated and deeply atmospheric.

Our mission was to try out two of their £15, 15 minute mini makeovers. Gemma opted for the Speedy Hairdo, and I road tested In a Jiffy makeup.

Inside the shop, attention to detail is everything, and we found all aspects of the experience to be well thought out and beautifully presented - from the pink party ring biscuit provided with my cup of tea ( served pink floral cup and saucer, obv) to the pink sticker on the lid of the MAC Fluidline that was used to give my eyes a flirty 50's flick. The pink-handled makeup brushes were carefully sanitised between uses (of course) and Gemma's stylist went the extra mile to get her bouffant just right, even though it overran the allocated 15 minutes for the service.

The Powder Room use Paul and Joe cosmetics, and I was offered a choice of shades for my multi-colour eye look. Above is a page from the "look menu" that we were given to help us choose how we wanted our makeovers to turn out.

Here's a "before" picture - I'm makeup-free and Gemma's hair is unstyled.

Here's the finished results

Look at that handiwork!

If you're into the retro glamour iconography thing (think Benefit, Bettie Paige, pin up stars), this place will be right up your street. It's also a fun way to perk up your look before a night out, or to give your appearance a bit of "oompf" for a special occasion, whatever your personal style. The staff are great at listening and tailoring their services to their customers.

At £15, the services we tried were extremely good value for money.

Visit the Powder Puff Girls at www.thepowderpuffgirls.com to find out more about their services and locations. You can also shop online for their favoured products (which are used in the makeovers), including Paul and Joe, Mavala and Dianne Brill.
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